A Ring in the Hand
Summary: Sarah left a contribution, a ring. Unknowingly our heroine invoked an ancient rite and is now bound to the Underground and the Labyrinth's King. And then the Summer King finds out.
Rating: T (implication of sex in public... sort of... I err on the side of caution)
Disclaimer: I neither own, nor claim to own, The Labyrinth and all it's characters. I lay claim to future OC's that may or may not show up. But that is all.
**See below for Author's notes
There is a tradition in the underground involving matrimony and rings. It is perhaps a bit backwards from how it is done in the Aboveground. But as the Underground has existed for ages longer than the realm of mere mortals, perhaps it is more correct to say that we are the ones mixed up, not them.
The tradition was simple and widespread. Relatively. When a female accepted the proposal of a male of her species, she would then give him something precious of hers, and he in turn would treasure it and keep it in trust, until the day when they wed.
There was not a species of creature (assuming they were a rational creature, capable of emotions and marriage) that did not practice this ceremony in some form. A cursory look presents it as a sort of pre-emptive dowry that took the form of whatever the female held most dear. Rare seeds for a tree, a pair of good slippers, a string of flowers, pictures, shiny rocks, and the list goes on. As you moved up the somewhat indefinable class system of the Underground, the gifts grew more symbolic of wealth and nobility.
And so it came to be that among the upper echelons of the fae creatures of the Underground, those that we most closely resemble, rings were given.
Golden rings, silver rings, and rings crusted with precious stones. A woman would give it away in acceptance of a proposal (generally along with giving something else away. The Fae, as I understand, don't have quite the same fear of sex on the whole that our race is partial to…), and the man would hold it as promise of their life together. While sex was often and freely given, marriage was sacred and serious. It was, if you happened to live that long, forever. Literally.
Here I must now journey away from the realm of fact and into hearsay. And while I am certain that my intent to illuminate some small aspect of this unique tradition will prevail, I do apologize at the lack of references available for you to peruse for verification. Unfortunately books from mythical realms don't quote well. Nor do they hold up to spell-check. In any case, I apologize for the speculative writing that follows.
As well, for conveniences sake, I will be referring to male fae and female fae of this upper class as 'men' and 'women' to avoid confusion. Our mouths are incapable of re-producing their language accurately and quite often they adopt our own tongue when they deign to speak with us. Housekeeping details aside, we return to the tradition.
The origins of this tradition are, as I've mentioned, somewhat obscured. But from what little I've gleaned from my research, it originated in a young farmer's daughter who refused to have sex with a man who desired her. But rather than take her refusal for what it was, he stole what was most precious to her until she relented. It is at this point that the stories diverge.
Some re-tellings say he stole her harvest and only returned her livelihood once he'd gotten what he wanted. Since stealing a harvest from the ground was a simple work of magic back then, for those who had it, he was not committed into a marriage. One of my sources says that those magic arts are now only found in the fringes and wild places of the Underground, such as the Labyrinth. As a resident of the Underground I count him as a valid source, if somewhat vague.
Another account says the man fell in lust with the farmer's girl and all he could think about was having her. When she refused he stole her virginity. As a result she was with child and was then subsequently bound to him forever. A shot-gun wedding type scenario.
The last account was the hardest to find, and sketchy in details at best. But it is so different from the two I'd already teased out from my research that I feel it worthy of mention.
In this tale, the woman was a sorceress who was rebuffed by a man whom she desired, and in revenge cast a spell on him. She managed to give him a poisoned ring, and he began to die. The sorceress revealed what she had done, and promised to save him, if he would marry her. Presumably he thought he could escape her, but her solution was to remove the ring from him and wear it herself, binding his life force to hers.
Doubtless you and I could see much more mundane reasons for even these stories of origin, but I remind you of the realm in which they take place. I would ask you to willingly suspend your disbelief, and conceive of this world that exists beyond our definitive knowledge, beyond our sciences and languages. All that is important to recall from this is that when a girl gives a man a ring in response to his desire to wed her, she is saying yes.
Then one day, Sarah Williams went through the Labyrinth, and put a ring that was precious to her, into a box.
And in a grand ceremony, she and the wise man were wed. The End.
**AN: Just kidding with the above. This story is completely done, more chapters to be posted. Six more for sure, possibly seven. It depends on how I break them up. This is the first thing I've written that is complete in... over two years. And you have no idea how glad my heart is that it is a Labyrinth story. It's been a long, tough, dry spell. I refused to leave school until I finished this, so I was there until 8:12 PM. I did my homework on the 2 hour transit system ride home. Kind of a different style for me. But I write to please myself, an I hope you enjoy! As always, any glaring grammatical errors, PLEASE point out. I'm a bit of a stickler for things like that. I write instinctively (which is to say I'd be hard pressed to define 'clauses' to you, but I can probably use them!) and so please point out where I've gone wrong. Sometimes I wonder how I made it this far in my English Degree with such a gap...
As usual, reviews make the world go round. But if you don't feel like leaving one, that's cool too! And if you flame, please note that you will be made fun of in subsequent chapters. I will not apologize for any amusement at your expense.