Brokenhearted and filled with more despair than he'd ever known was possible; Jareth clung to the boy in his arms. "Sarah," he whispered grief-strickenly. Toby sobbed into the shoulder that braced him, and had no words to vent. A great cry of lament seemed to go up from every corner of the Kingdom as well. Lost, lonely, and empty, the King of the Goblins carried the boy back toward the castle.
Nearing the grand gateway and the two heavy doors Jareth became aware of a portal opening. Placing the boy on his own feet, Jareth gazed at the shapes forming in the vortex. A man and a woman walking in a dazed state moved toward them. Toby looked up and cried out, "Mom, Pop!" he ran toward them and flung himself into his mother's open arms. Karen gazed at the King with confused but sympathetic eyes.
Confused Robert looked from his son to the being standing before him, "Who are you… where are we?"
Jareth found it difficult to speak, "This is the Labyrinth… and I am Jareth, King of the Goblins."
Karen's mouth dropped, "Like in Sarah's old book?"
The handsome but despondent King nodded, "Yes."
Robert moved forward, "Where's Sarah," he said in a desperate tone. "Where is my daughter?"
"Gone," Jareth's heart was breaking.
"No," Robert said in disbelieve.
Toby's face puckered, as if he were about to cry. "She gave her life… for mine." His father stared at him, then at the king. "It's true," Toby sobbed.
Jareth closed his eyes, "It was always true…" he placed a hand over his aching heart. "She gave up her dreams for the boy once, and this time… her very life…"
"But where is she?" Karen asked.
"A Halfling took her out of the Labyrinth…"Jareth said softly. "She exchanged herself for Toby."
"Jefferson," Toby told his parents, "He forced her to make that choice, knowing if he took me out of the Labyrinth I would die…"
Robert placed a hand to his head, his mind flooding with knowledge he'd long ago forced to the recesses of his memory. "Fae lands…" he muttered, and then grabbed his son. "You ate something here?"
"Long ago," Jareth supplied the answer. "I was not and am not in the practice of allowing children to go hungry or thirsty."
The father of the boy looked at the Fae King, sizing him up, "And Sarah?"
"An enchanted peach," Jareth admitted. "Her winning the game gave them a timed reprieve."
Law, Fae Law and mortal Law toppled in Robert's brain, and he was struck by the similarities and the differences. "You touched her," he questioned.
"Danced," corrected the lamenting King. "We danced."
Karen looked at her husband, her eyes demanding an explanation that words could not request. Robert looked at her and sighed, "According to folklore, fairy rings are magical circles in which witches and faeries and other beings of the fabric of magic meet to sing and dance at night. Fairies dance in circles and when a human is lured inside he or she can't escape unless they are pulled out of the circle by a human chain. Inside time is different and what seems like a couple minutes could actually be several days, months or even years."
"No escape," Karen asked breathily.
"None," Robert sighed, "It's a bonding process." He explained softly.
Karen's eyes narrowed the gaze of a mother tigress, "You trapped my daughter!"
"Worse," Jareth confessed, "I loved her."
Karen saw Robert pale, "How is it you know all this," she questioned as her arms tightened about her own child but she could feel something was amiss.
Robert took a long and deep breath, "My Nana," he said at last. "She came from a small town in the highlands… she told me the tales, as she told them to my mother… and they told them also to Sarah…." He looked at the King, "Sarah and Toby… are what…Fae touched?"
"Changelings," Jareth corrected. "Not according to what misinformation we allowed to pass on… but according to the custom of Kinth and Kinship." He looked at the wild eyed child in the grasp of the mortal mother. "I adopted the boy, and betrothed the girl."
Dark lashes over emerald green eyes fluttered, and air filled empty lungs with a sucking sound. Sarah Coughed as she bolted upward. Hands, strong and full of power steadied her, and she heard a voice urging her to breathe slowly. Her head was swimming and she felt nauseas, and her lungs burned in her chest. "Where am I," she gasped.
A face, handsome and oddly familiar smiled at her, "Don't you recognize this place?"
Looking about, forcing her eyes to focus she saw something she never thought to see again. A tree, long dead, with an odd old clock hanging precariously from its upper branches, "The windswept hillside," she muttered.
"The border lands," the man said gently, "The boundary of the Labyrinth and the Kingdom of the Goblins."
The fog in her mind cleared and she recognized the being sitting with her, "You're the High King," she stated. "What are we doing here?"
"I thought it best to give you time to collect yourself before returning you to the bosom of your family," Oberon quipped.
Nodding the High King spoke eloquently, "Your parents as well as your brother and espoused husband."
Breathing becoming easier Sarah grabbed his sleeve, "Toby is alright?"
"He's fine, your father is less than amused, and the woman… is furious…" he teased.
"Woman," Sarah blinked, "Karen?"
"Aye," Oberon rose up and held out a hand to help the girl to her feet, "That was her name. She is railing at both your father, and my son. She's blaming both of them…"
"She is," Sarah seemed amused. "Nice change," she quipped. "Usually I'm the one who gets the blame."
The High King of the Fae chuckled, a pleasant sounding chuckle as he too was amused. "We had best return you to your groom," he held his arm out to her, at Sarah's reluctance he added, "My Goblin King needs his Queen."
"Queen," she asked blinking in skepticism and hesitation, "How can I be a Queen… I'm not Fae born…"
"No," Agreed the High King with a smirk that mirrored smirks that she'd seen on Jareth's face. "But you are the only creature in creation that will make him complete." A wave of his hand and Sarah was transformed. The green gown that had suited her was exchanged for a long white gown in empire style and form. Netting of moonbeams and stars adorned it, and the long dark hair was dressed with sliver vines and leaves as it had been on the night she'd ventured into the Labyrinth for the first time. "Come Sarah Williams, accept your fate," he advised extending his arm anew.
Sarah looked at the gown, "How did you know," she asked amazed at the transformation, "I've dreamed of this gown over and over…"
"And from your dreams it has sprung," Oberon assured her. "Come, your groom awaits."
Jareth's pain suddenly ceased, his chest no longer hurt, he forgot for a moment the presence of the others, "Sarah," he said softly. A smile now appeared where sadness had been, he looked at Robert, "She comes…" he motioned to the gate. "I must prepare for her…"
Robert turned not seeing Jareth vanish, he looked at where goblins, trolls, and other strange creatures were gathering on the pathway. "Sarah," he asked softly seeing a vision on the arm of a stranger walking majestically toward them.
Oberon paused, before placing her hand on her father's arm, "I restore to you what was taken, but I fear she's only on loan…"
Robert looked as if he were about to cry, "I understand."
"I was sure you would," Oberon clasped a hand to Robert's shoulder, "We will be waiting," he promised.
Karen gripped Toby's shoulder and pulled him closer, "Robert can't we leave?"
Feeling the weight of two existences on his shoulders, the lawyer turned to his wife, "Not if we wish to stay with our children." He explained. "We've been given a choice, we can except citizen ship here… in this Fae kingdom… or we can return to our world… but Toby and Sarah would have to remain here… to live." He understood the law of the fabric far more than he cared to. "They cannot exist in our world any longer."
Her lips trembled, and her big blue eyes watered, but the woman to her credit didn't cry. "It doesn't look so bad," she said in a bold lie, "I can learn to live with it… as long as we have our family intact."
Sarah reached out a hand to her stepmother, "I promise you," she said in a voice that held more authority than she'd ever experienced, "We will always be together, now."
Karen's eyes cleared, a wistful smile came to her lips, "My daughter… the Queen."
The great heavy doors of the palace opened, and music filled the air. Robert took one arm of the bride, and Karen took the other. Toby moved before the three as they processed into the palace. The cheers of subjects rang out.
Hoggle stood watching, and turned to the little goblin at his side, "Ten to one she makes him change things."
"I'll take that bet!" the goblin cackled.
"I want a piece of that action!" another crowed.
This is where we leave this tale… with an open door to the possibilities of what's to come. Thank you for reading and for reviewing and for being with me on this journey. Blessed be.