Disclaimer: The only thing I claim to own is the insane idea that formed this story. Everything else is borrowed.
A/N: I wish everyone Good Tidings during this Holiday Season.
A Merry Yuletide
The king of the goblins sat upon his throne in a slouched, sideways position; with a leg bent over the arm, and his foot bobbing up and down in boredom.
It wasn't a very kingly position, to be sure, but it was his favorite and most comfortable one, especially when his back was tender from tripping over a goblin that hadn't gotten out of his way fast enough.
He pinched the corners of his eyes near his nose, still feeling the sting of embarrassment of landing flat on his back in front of at least fifty goblins. Of course the creatures who normally have the attention span of a gnat will remember that incident for as long as they live, and he knew it.
He let his head fall backwards, feeling his neck muscles tighten into a knot, and glanced at the clock for the umpteenth time in four minutes. Rolling his head to the side, Jareth stared at the tot sitting in the baby pen while the wisher ran the labyrinth.
"You are the most un-amusing child I've ever had before me," he stated flatly.
There was no reaction from the child whatsoever. He quite literally sat where Jareth had placed him over an hour ago. He didn't look around at the goblins, he didn't cry, he didn't do anything but sit there staring at his toes.
Jareth had, at first, thought something wrong with the boy tot, but he couldn't find anything wrong with him at all. The child was physically and mentally healthy as far as Jareth was concerned.
"Why anyone would wish such a child away is beyond me," he mused aloud.
Jareth glanced at the clock, again. A full minute had passed while he wasn't looking. "By the gods," he exclaimed, dropping his head backwards over the arm of the throne again. "This is going to take forever!"
"Someone, please, amuse me!" he voiced to no one in particular with exasperated boredom.
He decided to go harass the wisher to alleviate some time. Appearing behind the girl who still wandered within the maze of the labyrinth, he announced himself with subtle finesse.
"Are you enjoying my labyrinth?" he asked her, causing her to jump with a startled cry, and spin on her heels to face him.
"Oh, it's you," she replied, seemingly not all that upset about her circumstances. "I… uhm…" she wrung her hands and glanced around at her dismal surroundings with obvious uncertainty as to how to answer his question.
"You're not supposed to be enjoying yourself," Jareth hinted in a conspirator tone.
"Oh," she breathed, looking relieved. "Well, uhm… no, not really." She looked up at him with a steady gaze. "I'm a bit hungry, though, could I have something to eat?"
"No," he answered informatively. "You might want to move a bit faster, you have a long way to go before you're done."
"Yes, about that… I seem to be lost," she informed him simply. "You wouldn't happen to have a map, would you?"
"A what?" he asked incredulously. "A map!" he strode closer to the girl with disbelief in his mind.
"Yes, a map," she reiterated as though he had no clue to what she was talking about. "The kind you get at the faire would be nice, with a little 'X' showing where I am."
Jareth could feel his eyes cross as he stared at her in utter amazement. This was going to be the longest thirteen hours he ever had to endure, he just knew it.
The labyrinth shifted around them, opening a passage behind the girl that hadn't been there before, and Jareth's eyes lit on a saving grace. With a sardonic smirk he casually moved to lean against the wall, crossing his arm.
"You would do well to follow to the markings set before you," he told her in a pleasant tone. "But you must hurry, they don't remain visible for very long."
With that said, he vanished from the girl's sights and returned to the throne room. The baby hadn't done anything more than blink, and Jareth would be surprised if he did.
Resuming his position upon his chair, he stared nostalgically at nothing, letting his mind wander to the one he wished he could forget, but whom he was reminded of everyday.
She had definitely left her mark in his world, and no matter how he tried, he simply couldn't stop thinking about her.
It had been three aboveground years, though not nearly half of that in the labyrinth, since she naively proclaimed herself independent from him. She was eighteen now and still so young by the standards of both worlds, but at least she was old enough to be kept if he so chose to try again.
"She would make my life a living hell if she weren't willing," the king mused aloud in a quiet voice. He glanced at the clock, then at the tot, and sighed deeply at how miserable his life was.
Then something glittery caught his attention peripherally, and he raised his eyes to focus on the horde mulling about in disorganization.
"You there!" he bellowed at a goblin, swinging his legs forward to sit on the throne more properly. "What is that?"
The goblin stopped and stared at his king with bulging fearful eyes. "What's what?" he asked, not even pretending to not understand the question.
"That there, in your hands," Jareth elaborated, pointing to the glittery string the goblin was all wrapped up in. "What is it?"
"This is for king!" the goblin beamed with a cheerful smile, and quickly shuffled closer to the throne.
The goblin struggled with the long glittery string he had found himself tangled in and was actually quite relieved that the king wanted the stuff, even though it was shiny and pretty, he couldn't move his arms!
Jareth wasn't fooled in the least. Sometimes the shenanigans of the goblins just simply hurt mentally. Stepping from the throne, Jareth grabbed a handful of the glittery string and lifted the goblin off the floor, shaking it until the little bugger fell out of the tangle.
"King like? I go get more!" the little goblin exclaimed, and started to shuffle away.
"Wait." Jareth looked at the glittery string and realized that it was garland from the aboveground.
Glancing around his throne room, he finally noticed that most of his goblins were wearing red and white hats with bells, and were as strung up in garland as the one before him had been.
"Where did you acquire this?"
"Aboveground," the goblin answered simply.
"Yes, that I'm aware. But, 'where'?"
"It Santa time in aboveground," the goblin exclaimed excitedly, literally starting to quiver with excitement. "Lots of pretty lights and glitter!" Other goblins began to gather around too.
"And snow!" another added, still shaking the white fluff off of himself.
"And cookies!" another one chimed, his hands laden with more cookies than he could carry.
A round of oohs was murmured at the mention of cookies. The previous goblin dropped a few of his hoard, and others dove to the floor to grab at them, causing a scuffle at Jareth's booted feet.
With another deep sigh, Jareth diverted his gaze away from them. He hadn't realized that it was the holiday season aboveground already. The fae celebrated something similar to these festivities, though on a much more mild and sophisticated scale, but that wasn't for another several months yet.
"Where, exactly, have you obtained these treats?" he demanded in a loud, but still pleasant, voice.
All the goblins around him stopped dead and stared at him with bulging eyes. Obviously they were reluctant to answer him, not a big surprise to Jareth, though. They were always reluctant to answer, when they thought they were in trouble.
"You know you are not allowed to simply take these things from the aboveground unless it was 'given' to you," Jareth stressed with exasperation for probably the thousandth time since the mortal's 'last' holiday.
But the poor little buggers 'loved' aboveground treats and simply forgot that they weren't allowed to just help themselves. Jareth has had this problem for every holiday, but this season was the worse. And the goblins seemed to have become more wayward during the past couple of years.
He was about to simply give in and demand his share of the cookies, which he had to admit were usually delightful, when a figure hovering tentatively in the hall of the entrance caught his attention.
"You, there. Who are you?" he addressed authoritively.
All the goblins turned to see who the king spoke to as a dwarf nervously passed through the doors.
"I can sees you're busy, your majesty," he mumbled, stopping just inside the great room. "I'll just comes back later."
"Hoggle," Jareth stated more than addressed, having to take a minute to remember the dwarf's name. He continued when the dwarf physically cringed at hearing his name spoken. "What could possibly bring you to my castle without a life threat?"
"Who says I wasn't threatened?" he replied sourly under his breath as he sauntered further into the room.
Jareth quirked an arched brow curiously at the dwarf's mumblings and crossed his arms in anticipation for the reason Hoggle was coming before him. Whatever the reason, it most likely was not good.
Hoggle came to stand a few feet from the king and began to mutter nervously, repeating himself often and trying to remember what it was he was expected to say in the first place. The fact that Jareth remembered his name didn't sit well in his mind. That, and the fact that the last time he saw the king it was to help Sarah get her brother back.
Jareth patiently waited for an explanation as his subject shuffled from one foot to another and scratched his head a lot, mumbling non-sense. The goblins took the distraction to heart and scattered before the king could ask them any more questions. Then Jareth noticed Hoggle's lumpy coat pockets.
"What do you have stuffed in your pockets?" he interrupted, already having an idea of what the answer was going to be. 'Was no one immune to sneaking off to the aboveground?' he thought to himself with slight disgruntlement.
"Huh? Oh! Oh these," Hoggle replied, then chuckled nervously. "I was… uhm… you see there were… uhm, goblins!" he suddenly exclaimed, seeing the goblins with cookies. "Yes, goblins near me humble little abode and… uhm… theys gave me some of their treats… you see, for…uhm… for trespassing on me's property."
"Did they now?" Jareth voiced, completely not convinced. "Let me guess, you came all this way just to file a formal complaint?" Jareth jested, stepping closer to be more intimidating.
"I wish," Hoggle mumbled under his breath barely audibly.
"Now you know those are words I hear no matter how low they are spoken," Jareth reminded Hoggle. "Now tell me your reason for being here and be gone, I haven't got all day to trifle with the likes of you."
"I have… sometins for ya," Hoggle managed to say. His voice was so low and whispered, that Jareth had to strain his hearing to catch his words. "It's rights over here," Hoggle stated louder, backing away and side stepping towards the doorway.
Jareth watch him with curiosity as he bent behind the wall then straightened his back with a fairly sized oblong box in his hands. He carried it upright with the utmost care, appearing very nervous while handling the package.
It was wrapped in silver holiday paper with gold designs on it. Jareth stared at it warily, his gut tightened with suspicion, while his heart raced with anticipation.
Hoggle stopped only a short distance from Jareth, his hands shaking terribly for what he was carrying. He didn't like this one bit, but had no choice. A promise was a promise, after all.
'I wish for Hoggle to drop it.'
Her voice rang in the very air for all to hear it. The goblins paused in their activities and glanced at their king with sad eyes, while Jareth's mismatched ones filled with realization.
"Come, come, hand it over," he urged impatiently, stepping closer to Hoggle to take the gift.
"But, your Majesty," Hoggle tried to argue. "You heard the wish, I can'ts ignore her wishes!" Hoggle backed away from his king, mentally wishing he could hide the thing behind his back, but it was too big, and Jareth was already reaching for it.
"Don't defy me, again, Hoggle, hand it to me."
With a sudden idea, Hoggle moved the gift from Jareth's reach by turning sideways. "You haves to takes it from the bottom," he told the king, and turning back to face Jareth, held the gift higher up in the air than what was necessary.
Jareth narrowed his eyes for a brief second, then smirked. The little scab was playing both sides and had found a way to obey both commands. Jareth placed his splayed hands underneath the package and caught it as Hoggle let it slip from his fingers.
As soon as Jareth had it in his hands, Hoggle turned and ran for the entrance.
"Don't you want to see what's inside?" Jareth called casually at Hoggle's retreating back.
"I knows what's inside!" Hoggle shouted back over his shoulder. "Yous two fight it out yourselves, and keep me out of it!" He skid to a halt just inside the doorway. "And its fragile, so don't shakes it!" With that said, the dwarf left the throne room to return home as fast as his legs could carry him.
Jareth was grateful Hoggle had given that last warning, he was actually about to shake the oblong box with curiosity. It was about the size of the proverbial shoe box, only Hoggle had carried it upright.
The goblins gathered around him as he stepped up to the throne and gently seated himself. He stared at it for, he wasn't sure how long, and then took an unsteady breath. He was suddenly apprehensive about opening it.
What if it was something unpleasant? She 'had' changed her mind about him receiving the gift, and had rescinded Hoggle's obligation to give it to him. The dwarf seemed extraordinarily nervous about the whole situation, and had mentioned for 'yous two fight it out yourselves'.
"Catch the dwarf, and bring him to me." He commanded the goblins.
They might be dumb and have minimal attention spans, but they knew an order from their king when they heard it, and half the room cleared out to catch Hoggle before he got too far away.
Jareth gently set the gift down on the step by his royal chair, and made himself comfortable. He glanced at the clock out of habit and raised his brows at it being an hour and forty minutes later from the last time he had looked at it.
"Put me downs! I didn't dos anything! Let me go! Hey, watch where you putting your hands!"
Jareth straightened his position to slouch in the chair fully facing forward. Still not very kingly, but an improvement to the previous pose. The goblins dumped Hoggle unceremoniously before their king then surrounded him to hinder his escape.
"I want you to tell me what's in the box," Jareth declared without pomp nor circumstance.
"Stop stealin me treats!" Hoggle exclaimed angrily as he got to his feet, swinging and kicking out to get the horde away from him.
Sudden realization came to Jareth's mind as he watch Hoggle fight his goblins over a handful of cookies.
He knew very well where Hoggle had gotten the ones his pockets were laden with, and, as he paid closer attention, he now knew where his goblins had gotten theirs as well.
"Enough!" he bellowed, standing up suddenly. He felt satisfied with scaring the crap out of all of them. He stepped down from the chair and grabbed up a goblin at random.
"You never answered my previous question," he stated smoothly at the quivering creature hanging in his hand by a string of garland.
"Wha… what question?"
"Where, did you get the garland?" he noticed the horde trying to slither away unnoticed. Kind of comical, actually, when they all moved as one to put as much space between themselves and Jareth, leaving Hoggle to stand alone.
"Stop!" he commanded fiercely, then softened his tone. "Would one of you just answer me?"
"Theys was at the party," Hoggle defended begrudgingly. "And so was I."
"And what party would that be, I wonder," Jareth voiced, dropping the goblin to the ground.
"Sarah's party," Hoggle replied humbly. "She's had parties with us ever since she's been here."
Jareth was hurt beyond words and yet relieved at the same time. "Do you mean to tell me that they haven't been scouring the aboveground haphazardly," he asked, pointing to the goblins. "And returning with treats and odd little things stolen at random?"
"No. I mean yes." Hoggle frowned at not knowing how to answer that right. "Sarah's been taking care of thems."
Jareth felt like he had when he landed on his back that very morning. The air left him and his entire being felt a constrictive tightness that made him stagger slightly. Then, his eyes lit on the gift, wrapped so delicately and with obvious care.
"It's not something dangerous, then?" he asked Hoggle, gesturing towards the gift.
"Dangerous!" Hoggle spat with annoyance. "Is that whats you thought?"
He was about to laugh his ass off until Jareth's sharp piercing glare settle on him. With a hard swallow Hoggle bit back his mirth.
"It's more dangerous for her than it is for you, your Majesty."
"How do you figure that?"
"She thinks I dropped it, remembers?" he shuffled his feet. "And it's very fragile like."
"Well, it appears that I am the only one who doesn't know what it is."
He picked up the box and settled it on his lap as he seated himself in his chair. Carefully, he pulled a folded flap from its sticky bonding, smirking at how his goblins started bouncing around in place with excited impatience.
"Yous supposed to just rips it!" Hoggle announced impatiently after Jareth slowly opened another flap, careful to not rip the paper.
Jareth was having fun tormenting his subjects by taking his time, far better than tormenting himself for wanting to know what was inside.
What gift could she possibly give him that would have everyone all excited and jumpy? What was she willing to bestow upon him only to change her mind, albeit a little too late, but she didn't know that.
He carefully peeled the paper away without one single tear, to find the brown box within. Hoggle and the goblins all sighed with impatient exasperation.
"He never going to get it opened!" a goblin complained, others around him readily agreed.
Jareth stared at the box transfixed. It was too big to be a bauble or charm, yet too small to be overly grand. He desperately wanted to know what was inside, but found himself unable to open the flap.
"Yous can't see in there through a box!" Hoggle accused. "And I knows you can't! So why don'ts you jist opens it already!"
Sparing Hoggle a brief glare, Jareth put his thumb to the top of the flap. The goblins leaned forward with a collective intake of breath, all eyes on their king's hands.
The box had been designed that once the top flap was opened, the rest of it fell open as well, letting Jareth gaze upon the gift sooner than he had expected.
His goblins collectively made a long drawn out oooh sound, as they too gazed upon the gift that Sarah had given him.
Jareth was stunned at not only the intricate beauty of the gift, but the implication behind it. With gentle hands he held it up into the lighting, letting the soft illumination dance over and around it with a delicate magic of its own.
The casing was made of glass with a silver mirrored base. It was oblong and circular, only standing about a dozen or so inches tall, and not much wider than Jareth's palm.
Inside the casing hung a green tinted quartz crystal of the finest cut, attached to the top of the glass dome by a silver thread. The crystal was cut in the shape of mistletoe.
"Does she understand the implication of such a gift?" Jareth asked in a stunned, whispered voice.
"Yes, your Majesty," Hoggle replied respectfully. "She knows of the ancient lore that mistletoe is for fertility, among other things, and that it loses its power if it touches the ground. That's why she put it in the glass as she done. She said she didn't want it to lose its magic."
A flash of anger flooded Jareth's senses and he turned a heated glare towards the dwarf. "But she changed her mind!" he seethed between his teeth. "She wished for you to destroy this gift! I was never supposed to see it, to know she ever thought of such a commitment!"
"No, your Majesty," Hoggle stated humbly. "I's was never to destroy it." Hoggle stepped closer, wringing his hands nervously. "This ain't the first time she asked me to gives you that gift."
"Then why haven't you?" Jareth demanded to know.
"She changes her mind," Hoggle answered simply with a shrug. "If yous ask me, I's think she fears you too much. She thinks you'll hurt her likes she done you."
All heads turned to the tot that had snuggled into the blankets and fallen asleep hours ago. He was now sitting up and looking towards the entrance.
Following the babe's line of sight, Jareth's gaze landed on the girl, whom he had forgotten was still in his labyrinth.
"May we go home now, please?" she requested politely, leaning heavily against the stone archway. "I don't fancy it here much anymore."
Jareth glanced at the clock to discover that the girl still had thirty-two minutes remaining. He looked back at her, guilt washing over him for forgetting all about her.
The poor thing looked horrible. Her dress was torn, she was dirty from her head to her feet – which were bare now, and she was so exhausted she could barely stand.
"Oh, dear," Jareth murmured under his breath, gently handing Sarah's gift to Hoggle as he rose from his throne.
The goblins cleared a way for him, then ogled at the crystal mistletoe in the glass as it sparkled and glimmered in the light.
"Have you not enjoyed my labyrinth?" Jareth asked, recovering from his forgetfulness. How could he possible forget that a wisher was in the labyrinth?
He went to the stone crib and picked up the near listless child, somewhat surprised when he lifted his arms up for Jareth to slip his hands under his arms. Holding the tot, he stepped towards the girl.
"Not particularly," the girl replied simply. "Though some of it is quite beautiful, other parts are rather ominous."
The clock chimed once for the twelfth half hour, and Jareth handed the extremely boring child to his big sister. Theirs was most definitely a strange circumstance, Jareth had never forgotten a wisher before. But neither of them were very interesting at all, it was no wonder she slipped his mind.
Jareth stepped closer to the girl, blocking everything else from her sight but him. "Are you ready to return home, Darla?" he asked quietly, surrounding her with his magic.
As soon as her thoughts of home filled her mind, Jareth was able to magically return her and the tot, everything as it should be in time and space. Turning back to face his subjects, Jareth briskly walked to his royal chair.
"How many times has she requested for you to give me this gift, only to change her mind?" Jareth asked, as though there had been no interruption.
"This is the third time," Hoggle answered. "But she changed her mind before I even gots to the castle the other times."
"But this time," Jareth stated pointedly, leaning forward in his chair. "She made a wish, knowing that I would hear it."
"I don't knows why she did that."
"I do." Jareth smirked knowingly. "I'll take that," he stated, rising to his feet.
Once the gift was in his hands he vanished from the room altogether without another word.
Sarah paced her room anxiously, wringing her hands in front of her. She was so sure that this would've been the time she wouldn't chicken out, but she had. At the last minute she just couldn't bring herself to go through with it.
Turning to pace towards the window, her skirts made a swishing sound as she walked. She found that the sound was somewhat comforting. She had gone all out this time with the full gala of historical times.
Her dress was deep green and fell to her ankles with cream colored skirts to make folds of material around her legs. The bodice was also a cream color with silver lacings and square neckline, showing enough cleavage to be proper, but not quite low enough to be considered a wench.
Her black kid shoes finished her attire, along with crystal jewelry that would match her gift perfectly. Her hair was piled stylishly atop her head with curled wisps at her temples. Her makeup was subtle, but enhanced her eyes, cheekbones, and lips remarkably well.
Turning to pace towards the door, she glanced at the clock on her nightstand. It was eleven fifty-five and Hoggle hadn't confirmed hearing her wish to not give Jareth the gift yet. She had a feeling that something went wrong.
She knew Jareth would hear her wish, but what choice did she have? Hoggle hadn't responded to her previous summons and she had panicked. Besides, the wish had been very cryptic to be sure. If one didn't know what she was referring to that was.
She was fully aware of the implication of her gift, which is why she kept changing her mind. She wanted to see him again, but not stay with him. She wanted him to look at her as he had when they had danced, but not with a promise of forever. She wanted know what it would feel like in his arms, to run her fingers through his hair, to feel his lips on hers, but she was afraid he'd never let her go.
Sarah had learned of the ancient lore of the mistletoe during the Christmas right after her return, and that's how the idea entered her mind. She'd gone to the glass menagerie shop in the mall, where they make all sorts of things with blown glass, and talked to the owner about making her one out of crystal.
She had never realized before how truly spoiled she really was until her father simply handed the man his credit card to pay for her crystal order.
"Nothing is too much for my princess," Robert had told the shop owner with love and pride for his daughter.
Sarah had felt her dad's words seep through her like wine on an empty stomach. They fed her fantasies, and gave her more confidence to actually go through with giving Jareth the gift after going through so much trouble to obtain it.
But then reality and insecurities would nibble at her conscious mind as soon as she'd given the gift to Hoggle to deliver. She was no princess. She was nothing special to be accepted by a king. His entire spiel of promises had only been meant as a diversion to make her lose.
And then she'd remember the look in his eyes for that very last second back in the labyrinth. He had looked so vulnerable, so hurt that she hadn't accepted him, and her mind would turn full circle.
"I'm going to end up in the oubliette, I just know it," Sarah fretted aloud as she turned once again to pace towards the window.
With a gasp, she suddenly brought herself up short, her focus darted from the floor to eye level, then a little higher.
"Jareth," she whispered within a breath, stepping back a step.
"My, aren't you dressed formally," he commented smoothly.
He wasn't sure what he had expected when he showed up unannounced, but finding her in such glamorous attire wasn't one of his expectations. She was absolutely beautiful.
She didn't know what to say. Why was he here? Was he angry about her giving the goblins a healthy sugar rush with all her cookies? Did he know about the gift? Was he just curious about her earlier wish for Hoggle 'to drop it'?
Words completely eluded her. If he didn't know about the gift, then she couldn't ask him about it. Same thing about the goblins coming over earlier.
"Why have you come here?" she asked, her tone matching her nervous fretting.
'I's think she fears you too much.' Hoggle had told Jareth mere minutes ago in his throne room, and looking upon her now, Jareth clearly saw the truth to the dwarf's words.
Jareth was now faced with the dilemma of how to soothe her fears while confronting her intentions at the same time.
"I've come to bid you holiday tidings," he told her in a simple, casual tone.
"Oh," she voiced, relaxing ever so slightly. "You too."
She took in his appearance, trying to be objective, though knowing she failed at the attempt. He wore black breeches with his knee high black boots, his open necked shirt was pale green, his vest black with silver stitching. His formal tailcoat was white with the same stitching as his vest.
"You look very lovely," Jareth complimented.
"Oh," she replied, looking herself over with a nervous chuckle, then met his gaze again. "Thank you. You too," she returned, then realized how stupid that sounded. "Handsome, I meant," she corrected. "You look very…" she diverted her eyes away from him with a slight blush. "… handsome."
"I heard your wish, Sarah, but I don't understand what you expected from it."
"Oh, that," she chuckled, relaxing a little more, and waving her hand dismissively. "I was just having an argument with Hoggle," she explained off handedly. "Nothing unusual, and I accidentally said the wish word for him to just drop it. I was referring to our argument."
"I see." He regarded her with his head tilted back suspiciously.
'He knows,' Sarah thought to herself. 'He's acting funny. He knows about the gift.'
"I forgot I had a wisher in my labyrinth today," he told her, trying to make conversation and lessen the tension that tangibly filled the room.
"Did you?" Sarah replied cordially with a small smile. "Is that something you do often?"
"Not particularly, no," he answered casually. "I believe it was the first time I have ever done so." He stepped to the side to pace slowly, keeping his gaze upon her. "I was greatly distracted by something much more important at the time."
"Like what?" she asked, sensing that she was supposed to inquire about his distraction.
"Hoggle came to the castle today," he informed her, keeping his tone light and pleasant.
"You thought Hoggle important enough to forget a wisher?" she asked misleadingly, knowing for certain that he definitely knew about the gift.
"No, but what he carried in his hands, along with my goblins fighting over sugar cookies and garland, was more than enough to distract me from anything else but you."
She silently watched him as he slowly moved around her, stepping closer in a subtle manner. Her bottom lips trembled slightly with uncertainty. What was he thinking? Was he offended? Did he like her gift? Was he angry?
She had no idea what to say, when she had no idea what he was thinking.
His slow pacing finally took him to stand behind her. She turned her head forward, waiting to see him peripherally from the other side of her back.
"You have the adept ability to turn my world upside down," he whispered in her ear, placing his hands lightly on her shoulders as he stood behind her.
She damn nearly jumped out of her skin. His voice was light, soothing, with a hint of suggestion, but she still didn't know what his objective was.
"I don't mean to," she whispered, trying to breath evenly while her heart pounded wildly in her chest. She could feel his breath on her neck as he leaned closer to her. Her eyes slid shut, her breathing ragged.
"Yes, you do," he whispered tauntingly, slowly running his hands down her arms. "You want me hanging on every breath, but you fear me so completely that you can't imagine me being anything but frightening."
He snaked his arms around her waist, brushing his lips along her sleek neck. He had to take a steadying breath at her shuddering intake of air. She all but trembled in his arms, though he was certain it wasn't from fear.
"You have not seen my anger, Sarah, nor have you seen my gentleness." He placed a delicate kiss on the side of her neck when she tilted her head slightly to the side for him. "Return with me," he whispered, risking his heart once again that she could refuse him. "Let me ease your fears."
"But, you want me to fear you. That's what you said before."
"You'll always fear me on some level, Sarah, I have no doubt of that. Just let me show you that I can love you."
She couldn't think straight. His closeness, his lips on her neck, his hands firmly embracing her waist, caused her mind to be a jumbled mess.
"I didn't want forever," she whispered, sounding anxious.
"No?" he questioned. "Are you certain of that?"
She turned her face to his and tilted her head back. "Can you honestly be gentle as well as cruel?"
He raised a hand to her face and caressed her jaw with his fingertips, her cheek with his thumb. "I can be so gentle, it will frighten you," he whispered softly.
He bent his head down to hers and touched her lips with his. She sucked in a breath at his tenderness and turned in his one armed embrace to face him. He moved his mouth over hers, reveling in the effect she was having on him.
He was vaguely aware of her hand snaking up his neck to splay into his hair as she returned his kiss with delicate curiosity.
"Sarah, I forgot to…"
Both of them whipped their heads up and turned in the direction of the door. Her father stood halfway in the doorway with shocked wide eyes.
"Oh, dear," he muttered. "I'm very sorry." And quickly closed the door again.
"Don't you use magic to conceal yourself when you come to this side?" Sarah asked Jareth almost accusingly.
"You distracted me," Jareth replied, sounding slightly defensive. "And I forgot."
"I know I should've knocked," her father was saying as the door pushed open again, her father stepping into the room this time. "I'm really sorry." He dug in his pocket for his wallet and took out a card. "Here's my credit card. You said you wanted to go shopping tomorrow."
Sarah took the plastic card from her dad with stunned silence, and watched as he once again left her room, closing the door firmly behind himself.
"Not very parental, is he?" Jareth remarked coolly.
The door swung open yet again. "How'd you get in the house?" he asked, looking directly at Jareth.
Jareth quirked an elegant brow as his only response.
Robert's gaze wavered towards the window, then back to Jareth, then briefly to Sarah before putting his hand up, palm open. "You know what, never mind, I don't want to know."
The door was barely closed when he opened it, again. "Does your mother know about this?"
"Not yet," Sarah replied slowly.
"Okay," he nodded, backing out again. "Then I don't know anything either."
The door closed for the last time, her dad's murmurings about not knowing anything filtered through until he was too far down the hallway to be heard.
"How dare you try and blame me for this!" Sarah accused Jareth, stepping back from him with her hands on her hips. "You're the one who just pops in and out whenever you wish!" Waving a hand in the air.
"Sarah, judging by what I've just witnessed, that man wouldn't care even if I had used the front door," Jareth countered, crossing his arms casually.
"It's not that he doesn't care, it's just that…"
"He gives you everything you want?" Jareth cut in pointedly, raising his brows questioningly.
"No," she answered defensively, crossing her arms, too. "Not 'everything'."
"Then, I see only one difference between you staying here, and you returning to my kingdom."
"Oh, I could give you an entire list of differences."
"I'm sure you could," he stated with a smile, stepping closer to her with his arms by his sides. "But, I wonder what the first thing would be." He raised a hand to cup the side of her face, caressing her cheek with his thumb.
"Would I be first on your list, Sarah?" he asked in a deep voice, his tone full of suggestion.
"Of course you are," she answered softly, gazing between his mismatched eyes in turn. "Without you, there's nothing."
"Then return with me," he pleaded.
A sadness entered her eyes just before she shifted her gaze towards the door, biting at her bottom lip indecisively.
"That settles it," Jareth announced decisively, and took hold of her hand.
"What settles what?" she questioned as he led her to the door.
He opened the door and led her by the hand down the hallway, glancing from one room to another as he went along.
"Jareth, what are you doing?" she whispered in an urgent tone.
Coming to a room with a light shining under the closed door, he paused long enough to switch holding her hand with his right to his left hand.
"Jareth, you can't possibly…"
Opening the door without any warning, he pulled Sarah along with him as he entered. 'What's good for the goose, is good for the gander.'
Karen cried out in surprise as they entered the room, and hurriedly pulled the blankets up to her chin. Robert sat next to her in astonishment with his jaw dropped.
"I'm sorry, I know I should've knocked," Jareth announced in a pleasant tone. "But, I need to inform you that I will be taking your daughter home with me. She will be treated like the queen she is, and will want for naught in the same manner that you bestow upon her. More or less at any rate."
He gently guided Sarah to stand in front of him. "Would you like a few minutes for farewells," he asked Sarah, tilting her face up with his finger under her chin. "Or shall we simply leave now?" He grinned down at her, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
"Don't you dare just disappear," she warned in a whispered voice.
Jareth laughed and looked over at the couple in the bed. "Being in love is such a wonderful thing, don't you agree?"
"Where are you taking her?" Karen was able to ask through her shock. "How will we contact her? We will want to keep in touch with her, at least!"
"I'm taking her to my kingdom," he informed them regally. "You can't contact her, though Sarah can visit you frequently enough to alleviate your worries." He glanced down to see the horrified expression on Sarah's face. "I assume you'd at least wish to see Toby as often as possible?"
She nodded dumbly. She couldn't believe that he had literally just barged into her parent's bedroom, told them he was taking her away, admitted that he owned a kingdom, and that they could do nothing but wait for her to visit them when she wished to.
"You have a kingdom, you said?" Robert questioned, finally finding his voice. "Would that be in Egypt, Saudi Arabia… where?"
"Much farther then those, I'm afraid." Jareth smirked sardonically, and wrapped both his arms around Sarah's waist from behind. Bending his head to Sarah's ear he whispered, "Close your eyes, Sarah, and make a wish."
"Leave my room the way it is," she told Karen. "And don't touch anything."
She closed her eyes, and thought of the castle beyond the goblin city, wrapping her arms around Jareth's as he held her close.
"It was nice meeting you both," Jareth stated pleasantly. "Have a Merry Yuletide."
Robert and Karen watched with renewed astonishment as the pair slowly disappeared before their very eyes.
"Much farther than Saudi Arabia, I'd say," Robert stated in a whispered voice, still in shock.
Karen turned to look at him incredulously. "You think? What was your first clue, Robert?"