a/n Labyrinth and its characters belong to Jim Henson. He just lets me play with them every now and again.
Also, warning: there's a senseless fluffy ending for this. Blame the exam-addled brain, seriously.
Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace
The day was bright, the sun was out and the gentlest of breezes rustled the leaves of the ancient oak trees, brown and golden foliage rising into the air and dancing about upon a zephyr.
One such golden leaf seemed to dance further than the rest, rising and falling through the air, trembling and gliding towards the open window at the back of the chapel on Gordon Street. This single leaf, browned and bronzed in the sunlight soared through, and lodged itself in the sable hair of a young woman.
Amusedly, she reached nimble fingers up and plucked the errant flora from her head, scanning it with hazel eyes.
Before her, another young woman stood upon a dais, smoothing the white silk and chiffon gown she wore. Again and again this woman's hands toyed with the clinching corset, before traveling down to the poofing skirt.
"Sarah..." the woman by the window spoke, her husky voice low and warning, "Stop fiddling. You're going to crease your dress somehow if you don't, and we really do not need another "ironing emergency" like we had at Kathleen's wedding,"
The woman upon the dais flushed pink.
"I'm sorry, Will! I'm just so... excited!"
"You'd never know it. Considering you alternate between fiddling with your gown and spinning around in it," the sable haired woman, "Will", twirled the leaf between her fingers. Sarah laughed, spinning around so her expansive skirt flared out like a meringue. Her footing slipped slightly, but she regained herself before doing any damage.
"Again, Sarah, careful,"
"Sorry, Will," Sarah bit her lip, glancing up through lowered eyelashes, "Call it my inner, repressed princess coming out to play,"
"Be that as it may, if you slipped and fell, just where would your darling man be? Alone and desolate without his sweet Sarah Williams," the bride laughed.
"Well then, as my maid of honour, you would just have to rescue him from his fate by marrying him yourself!" Sarah turned back to her reflection and checked her lipstick, "Unless, that is, one of my darling's groomsmen has caught your eye…?"
"Doubtful," Will responded, slowly standing from her seat to walk the length of the dressing room, "I've been ruined for love, I'm afraid. I've loved and lost," she sighed wistfully, turning back to stare out the window. Sarah's gloved hand rested upon her friend's shoulder.
"I thought I was much the same," her voice had taken on a nostalgic tone, "I never thought I'd find another to replace him – because how can you compare to someone who's offered you everything?" Sarah's eyes were downcast. Will wrapped an arm over the other woman's shoulders and hugged her gently.
"Or your dreams..." she added softly. Will breathed out a soft sigh.
"Come on, Sar. Cheer up. It's your wedding day. You love Arlen, don't you?"
The bride nodded.
"Well then," Will nudged her shoulder, grinning softly, "Get ready to be Mrs. Sarah Ingenhousen,"
Sarah tittered at that.
"Mrs. Ingenhousen," she giggled, "From Ms. Williams to Mrs. Ingenhousen,"
"Almost polar opposites, aren't they?" Will laughed with her, "From such a common name to..."
The laughter felt good, almost completely eliminating their earlier melancholy.
"And maybe we can find you a nice groomsmen too, hmm? One night to help you get back on the horse?" Will snorted.
"Oh yes. One night of meaningless, passionate sex in a hotel somewhere. That's certainly going to be enough to change my jaded view on life,"
The sable haired woman could have sworn she heard a squeak in the corner, at that comment. Not a rodent squeak, but...
She shook her head. Not now.
"Come on," Will rose, "I think it's almost time,"
"Yep, it would be," Sarah breathed out a long, slow sigh, "C'mon feet. Sarah Williams is getting married,"
When one reflects on the conversation between the bride Sarah Williams and her young friend, it's almost too easy to how it could have been so very, very misinterpreted by those overhearing it. Especially considering some creatures and their inability to understand latent sarcasm when they hear it.
Not to mention, why now the goblins were squabbling among themselves of who was going to tell "His-royal-kickiness" what they'd heard.
"I ain't! I ain't!" a particularly small goblin squealed, "I dun wanna smell like bog!"
"He gonna get mad!" another protested, his hands clutching his horned helmet as though his life depended on it, "Lady's not s'posed to! Lady's not playin' by de rules!"
"Lady can't be! Lady and kingy are s'posed to be makin' googy eyes at 'nother! Kingy sang lady speshul song! Lady not s'posed to!"
"And just what, pray tell, is "Lady" not supposed to be doing?" a crisp voice came from behind the goblin group. The one in the helmet yelped and trembled, cowering behind some of the others.
There were a few stutters, but none dared to offer an explanation to their monarch.
The Goblin King frowned, striding towards his throne, before falling into it in that graceful way only a Fae could manage. Still, the goblins cowered and offered nothing.
"Well?" Jareth drawled. They trembled.
"I posted you to guard the Lady for a reason. Now, tell me, what has my Sarah done now?"
Still, there was silence.
Had he not been so desperate to find out what the wayward mortal had done, Jareth would almost have been impressed. It must be taking a hell of an effort for these goblins to keep so silent, especially for as long as they had.
...Mind you, that silence didn't bode well, especially when it came to whatever they didn't wish to tell him Sarah had done.
By the Underground, he hoped she hadn't done something incredibly stupid. Like get a tattoo, or half her body pierced.
"We can't tell you," one finally squeaked, "You'll bog us,"
Jareth rolled his eyes heavenward.
"What if I promised not to bog you?"
"Y'will 'nyway," another responded, "Y'gonna be mad,"
He pinched the bridge of his nose.
"What if I promise I'll bog you all if you don't tell me?"
Suddenly, the throne room was a cacophony of sounds and wailing.
He held his hands up, but they ignored him.
Finally, one shrill voice seemed to break through.
"Lady wearin' pretty dress! Sarah Williams getting married!"
The colour drained from Jareth's face.
She wouldn't. She couldn't.
He flicked his wrist to form a crystal, rose from his throne and disappeared in a puff of faerie dust and glitter.
The goblins all watched in slack-jawed awe.
There was a moment of silence, before one finally chirped: "But we didn't even tell kingy what lady did,"
"Lady's problem now," another spoke, relief obvious in his voice, "Lady can tell kingy she gonna be with nuther man,"
"King gonna be so mad..."
Indeed, the Goblin King was furious.
He stormed into his chamber, forming another crystal. A hazy image appeared inside.
"... dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Sarah Williams and Arlen Ingenhousen..."
Jareth snarled and the crystal shattered in his gloved palm.
He still recalled the first day he'd ever seen her – a mere child in a park aboveworld. He had taken a sojourn from his kingdom – a slight vacation from the chaos, and had been perched in his owl form in the trees, eyes closed and enjoying the silence, for once.
That is, until she came along.
A dainty child of seven, she had danced through the trees, waving a long stick in a one-sided fencing battle. She swung and parried, until finally she crowed victoriously, pretending she held a blade to her opponent's throat.
"Surrender, you fool," she was obviously attempting to sound much older, "And return my kingdom to me!"
Such imagination in one so young. The king was stunned. She, so very, very young, and already the power of her dreams was...
...intoxicating. The magic that rolled off her just sang to him. He savoured the heady scent in the air.
Below, a dark haired woman appeared behind the girl, laughing.
"Sarah..." the young one turned, grinning widely.
"Sarah, you know I don't sound like that," Sarah giggled in glee as her mother knelt before her, reaching out and tickling her child.
It was at this point, Jareth felt he was intruding on a family moment and left, but even so, he couldn't seem to bring himself to forget the girl.
And so he returned. Again, and again, until her aura was so firmly ingrained in his mind that he could hear her, even across the void between Above and Below.
He made a point of watching her – knowing that the moment she was of age, he would offer her a place in his kingdom. He saw her as she grew, losing herself in story after story, tale after tale.
Imagine his surprise when one visit found her telling his story.
The book, written by a mother who had returned from his Labyrinth after she had lost her child, was a work of fantasy – a flight of fancy after her defeat at his hand.
It disgusted him. Not because of the picture she painted of herself as a concerned mother, but because of the tale she'd woven. A tale in which he had become a love-sick fool, blinded by his emotion for the princess. Over the years, whenever he'd heard it in passing, he had always left, or left some bad omen upon them to warn them from continuing.
And yet, he couldn't bring himself to do so. Not when it was his Sarah.
Instead, he found himself giving the girl those certain powers. He bestowed upon her the magic which would bring her own to life.
And still, he watched her. He saw her change as her mother left, and saw how she buried herself further in the illusory (which pleased him – it would make taking her that much easier). He saw her as she tried to cope with her father's second marriage. He watched as she dealt with the horror of becoming a sister.
Until he finally met her on the night she said the words.
He had to admit, he found himself deliberately playing her thirteen hours like those described in the play – just so she could feel like the princess he wanted her to be – like the girl who would become a queen.
He knew how the play was to end, but even so he tried so hard to keep her. Now she knew him, he didn't want to let her go. He sang to her – a Fae song of love and devotion, but she had fled. He offered her himself, but she spurned him. He would have given her all of her dreams, but she refused them.
It wasn't until just after her final declaration that it dawned upon him. Those words, those simple words: But the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl…
And he had. He loved her. And she had refused him.
He should hate her, but he couldn't.
For months, he refused to see her, knowing it would hurt too much, but when he finally gave in, he watched her for hours in a crystal. She sat at her vanity, brushing out her long hair, humming.
Humming not any song, but his song.
His heart swelled. She was so young. So innocent.
Jareth clearly remembered then that it had occurred to him just how young she was. She was entirely too young for him to keep. Too naïve in the ways of the world. And it was this realisation that led him to another – perhaps she hadn't understood what was offered? That he would not have kept her step brother, but would have willingly given him up for her?
And so it started again. He watched her as she continued to grow and mature, finishing school and beginning her tenure at college.
The moment she moved out of home, he sent his goblins out to protect her – until she was old enough for him to show himself again and sweep her back to the Underground to be his queen.
His queen. He refused to see another's ring upon her finger.
This snapped the Goblin King back to the present situation almost as effectively as a cold bucket of water.
Over his dead body would that union be celebrated.
With a thought, he waved a hand to change his clothing to his resplendent Goblin King regalia, and with another, he disappeared aboveground. This game had gone on long enough – he was bringing Sarah back where she belonged – with him.
"...If any of you have a reason why these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace,"
There were a few sniffles in the crowd from relatives, weeping tears of joy to see the wedding. Other than that, there was complete silence.
That is, until the rear doors of the chapel swung open with an almost violent force, and a man stormed through, his black cloak billowing in the suddenly strong wind.
No, this was no mere man.
"I object to this union," he spoke in a strong, clear voice, distinctly edged with the aristocratic tones of England, "I cannot allow Sarah Williams to marry another. Not when her heart is still mine, and mine, hers,"
"Sarah...?" Arlen's voice shook, "Is this true?"
The bride was almost frozen with shock and fear from the power in the man's voice. She trembled.
The maid of honour, on the other hand, had no such issue and squared her shoulders, turning to face the magnificent figure in the middle of the chapel. With a slight squeeze of the bride's shoulder, she also encouraged her friend to turn -- the bride's blonde hair falling over her fearful blue eyes.
The confusion was easy to read on the Goblin King's features.
"It's a common name here, Jareth," the maid of honour arched an eyebrow, almost amused, "I assure you, this isn't the wedding of the Sarah Williams you're thinking of,"
If it were possible for Fae monarchs to look like slack-jawed idiots, Sarah Williams (or, as she became known through high school to differentiate her from her best friend, 'Will') was sure that the Goblin King would have at this point.
He was stunned into absolute silence.
Fortunately, his still presented such an intimidating figure, that no-one else dared speak.
(The bride was still trembling).
Will sighed and hitched up her skirts.
"Keep on with the ceremony, I think I should sort this out," she spoke quickly and strode down off the dais, before gliding over the carpet, grabbing the Fae, and yanking him from the chapel.
The minute the doors were shut closed, she rounded on him.
"Care to explain that display in there, Jareth? Or will I just have to assume you're suffering from temporary insanity and ended up here because the Seelie court kicked you out?"
This seemed to snap him from his stupor. He glared.
"I am here, Sarah Williams, because my goblins seem to have made a serious error in interpretation. They told me Sarah Williams was getting married,"
"And she is. Sarah Williams is a common name aboveground," she arched an eyebrow, "What would it matter to you if it was me, anyway?" Mismatched eyes stared at her, incredulous.
"You mean after all this time, you still don't understand it?" Sarah defiantly stared back, but she said nothing.
Jareth growled, dragging his fingers through his messy ash blonde hair.
"How can I make you understand…?" he turned suddenly, grabbing Sarah and pulling her towards him, "I love you,"
Hazel eyes widened and as Sarah's lips parted to respond, Jareth's came crashing down upon them. The kiss was wild and heady, the power rolling off him delighting her senses. They seemed to fight for supremacy, lips moving and tongues battling in a sensuous war. Jareth's hands cupped her face, one moving to tangle in her sable hair. Sarah's arms reached up, her hands fisting his soft hair as she mewled into this sweet torture.
He backed her into a wall, covering her body with his, and she gasped into him, arching to feel each inch of her pressed against him.
How could one man inflame her so thoroughly?
When the parted for air, she touched a hand to her bright lips and stared at him through drunken eyes.
"You... love me?"
"I would have thought barging into what I believed was your wedding would have been enough proof, Sarah," there was fire in his eyes, the passion making them seem all the more vibrant.
It was then that it all came crashing down upon her.
But what no-one knew was that the king of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl...
A love that will last within your heart
I'll place the moon within your heart
As the world falls down... falling, falling in love...
"Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave,"
"You love me," it wasn't a question this time, but a statement of fact.
"I do. Oberon help me, but I do," Jareth looked away.
Sarah tentatively reached out a hand to lace her fingers with his. His gaze snapped back to hers as she offered him a small smile.
"Would you believe that despite everything, I love you too?" When Jareth said nothing, she breathed out a sigh.
"It only really dawned on me what you were offering me about a year after my trip to the Labyrinth. At first, I wasn't sure whether you offered it to everyone or not, but everytime I asked Hoggle, Ludo or Sir Didymus to clarify, they said they were forbidden – and that was one rule of yours they didn't want to break it. Each runner had a different run, and no matter what, they weren't allowed to share another runner's experience. The labyrinth made you learn lessons about yourselves. It just wouldn't be right to tell everyone about them.
"So I tried to get on with my life, going out with friends and trying dates like my stepmother so desperately wanted, but..." she glanced down at the floor, "But none of them could compare. The kindest of them offered to pay for dinner – never did anyone offer to take a child, because I asked them, or re-order time, turn the world upside down, or move the stars, just for me. You were a hard act to follow, Jareth, and you weren't even mine to start with,"
"I was always yours, Sarah," her smile turned into a dazzling grin.
She kissed him, gently moving her mouth over his.
When they broke off, she rested her head on his chest, feeling the warmth of being neatly tucked beneath his chin.
"And I, yours, Jareth,"
They stood there like that for a few lingering moments longer, before Sarah sighed.
"I really should get back in there," she glanced over her shoulder, "Sar will be worried,"
"Must you?" her lips twitched at the slight whine in his voice.
"I must," she responded firmly. He sighed.
"I suppose I should return to my kingdom and bog those incompetent goblins who brought me here," Sarah laughed.
"Personally, I think you should commend them," she responded, biting her lip to control the grin, "I mean, if they hadn't told you "Sarah Williams" was getting married, would you have come and given me this heartfelt confession?"
"Yes…" Dark eyebrows raised to the maid of honour's hairline. Jareth sniffed.
"As I thought," she returned her head to his chest and squeezed gently, "But don't stay away too long," the Goblin King pressed a kiss to the top of Sarah's head.
"I will return soon, I promise you," she slid from his embrace and turned to leave, but an arm around her waist stopped her as a low voice breathed in her ear:
"And do try to catch the bouquet, Sarah. They say it is a wonderfully good omen,"
a/n And, of course, those Goblins received the highest honour the Goblin King could bestow – they weren't bogged or kicked out the window for making His Royal Kickiness look like a twit.
This is just the first of my "Hey-that-sounds-like-a-good-idea-for-a-Laby-fic-which-I-can't-write-because-of-my-massive-exams" stories. Apologies for the fact it's a little stilted, but my brain feels like it's got a prion. Also, it's not working properly. Probably because it melted Monday night before my Tuesday exams.
Now, you'll have to excuse me whilst I go and crash facefirst onto my bed and don't move for a month.
(... or Monday, when school goes back. Eh.)
xx The Flame Faerie