Chapter Fourteen: Fireworks

With an explosion, the sky bloomed with red, purple, and green sparkly lights. Sarah sighed. The beautiful fireworks always managed to make her smile. The fireworks fell away, the glittery bits falling out of the sky like fairy dust.

Another firework cluster soared with a sizzle and a hiss before exploding. Sarah watched the fireworks reflected in the water and hugged herself, rubbing her arms through the thick coat. It was another cold night; she wore the long johns over jeans, a sweater top, and a thick coat. She'd added a scarf, mittens, and a fuzzy hat.

Despite that, the cold bit at her. She felt it along her cheekbones and nose, which was quickly going numb. But, she'd stand here until the very last firework hit the sky.

She felt conflicted. Conflicted, she thought with a wry smile as another bright burst of color blazed across the sky. That's putting it mildly. Why am I out here again?

Oh yes, because she couldn't get the damn Goblin King out of her head. She couldn't stop remembering the Christmas feast; the mistletoe on the ceiling; his expressions when he kissed her or talked to her; them baking delicious concoctions; his gentle side when she was drunk on goblin grog; his tight pants and outrageous wardrobe choices; his dancing and kicking and tantrums. Goddamnit, she couldn't forget him. She'd been pining like a pathetic…well, she wasn't sure what was more pathetic than the way she'd been acting the last few days. Jessica had been right. And then, as she'd dug into a carton of chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream, she realized that she would love the Goblin King until the day she died.

Stupid Goblin King, Sarah thought, sneering at the sky. She'd like to sock him in the face. How dare he…be so irresistible? How was she supposed to avoid falling in love with him when he baked with her and watched over her when she was drunk from goblin grog? She'd been so angry with him, but as the days had crawled by, the anger had dissipated into self-pity, and then finally understanding.

"He loves you, Sarah." If he did, what did that mean? What would it be like to be loved by the Goblin King?

Her devious side whispered, Remember when he said he fed you a poisoned peach to meet you? How many boyfriends would give you ballroom dreams to meet you?

Or feed a person a poisoned peach? Sarah's lips twisted downward. Is there a point? Or are you just repeating things I already know?

What I'm saying is: you'll never know what it'll be like to be with him…unless you try being with him! Her devious side pointed out, triumphantly.

Well, Sarah couldn't argue with that. She took a deep breath. Suddenly, fireworks burst to life; a whole slew of them, one after another, until the colors sparkled so brightly it almost hurt to look at. The crowd "oohed" and "aahed" as the grand finale exploded in a shower of sparks. Sarah glanced at her wristwatch. 11:59, just a minute before the New Year. Her heart pounded as she watched the fireworks, wondering why Jareth hadn't come yet. He'd loved the fireworks before, and she'd mentioned they were doing them again on New Year's. She'd been so sure he'd show up. But, as the clock blinked 12:00 and the last of the finale budded across the sky—flowers of pinks, purples, greens, blues, reds, and golds—Sarah felt her heart sink.

He wasn't coming. He'd given up on her. It was over.

Sarah clutched the railing, for the first time noticing how frigidly cold she was, and tried to keep the tears at bay. She tried so hard, her breath came out in a harsh gasp.

Why? How could he give up on me? She had no way to get to the Underground, unless she saw a goblin. Or maybe Hoggle or Sir Didymus would tell her how to get to the Castle? What had she done last time to make Jareth show up?

She shivered as her mind supplied the answer, and she nearly kicked herself with how stupid she was to forget. She hadn't wished yet. If I wish, there's no going back. Wishes weren't meant to be spoken lightly. She'd be admitting to the Goblin King that she wanted him.

Sarah released the railing and twisted her hands nervously, uncertain for a moment. Then her jaw set and she straightened her shoulders. Who was she kidding? She was just prolonging things. The fireworks were over, people were leaving; soon she'd have to leave, too.

It was a New Year.

Sarah tipped her head back, looking over the lake, and whispered, "I wish the Goblin King was here…right now."

She inhaled and waited. And she felt the world shift slowly—or maybe it had momentarily sputtered and then restarted. She heard that achingly familiar voice say, "As always, I wait with baited breath for your command, Sarah."

Sarah's breath whooshed out, causing a white cloud to swirl from her mouth. She didn't turn to face the voice, just in case—just in case—it was a dream. But, her heartbeat picked up and she felt her knees wobble with her relief. She hadn't been sure he would come answer her wish.

She momentarily shut her eyes and grabbed her courage metaphorically by both hands. Courage; yes, it would take quite a bit for her to say what she needed to say. She said, her voice husky and soft, "You know, it came to me in a bright, clear flash of understanding—"

"What did, Sarah?" he said, his lilting, accented voice traveling easily over the commotion of the people shifting and moving toward the parking lot. She wondered how close he was to her. A few feet? Less? She felt tingles jumping along her back; knew that he was staring intently at her. She didn't care that his voice sounded impatient, angry. She knew what she had to say, and come rain or shine, or pesky goblins, she would say it.

"You said in the Escher room you watched me leap for my brother and…and then you trailed off. I figured out what you were going to say," Sarah murmured, her heart thudded in her chest, and yet the quicker she said her peace, the easier it became; the words seemed to fall from her lips, like they had been poised and waiting all this time, just wishing to be spoken and released. She whirled, suddenly needing to see his face as she said the next words.

He was beautiful, of course, and resplendently attired. He wore a black poet's shirt over black pants and a black cloak, except the cloak glittered with dark gems sewn into it. Any other man would have been questioned trying to pull off such a glimmering look, but Jareth was just magnificent. Mist swirled about him, and his cloak shifted and danced in a wind that seemed to touch only him. No one else paid attention to him, yet no one seemed to come near him.

His face seemed taut, distrustful, which accentuated the harsh planes of his face. His mismatched eyes glittered and his lips were pulled into a thin line. He waited.

Sarah licked her lips and said in a croak, despite her earlier confidence, "You love me."

Jareth's eyebrow flicked up. "Excuse me?"

She had to hand it to him; Jareth knew how to play the part. He pulled off Incredulously Disdainful very well. If she didn't know better—if she didn't notice the way his right hand clenched and the barely restrained, coiled energy in his stance—she might have believed her words meant nothing to him.

But words had power, didn't they?

As long as someone listened to them.

Sarah took a deep, shuddering breath and continued, doggedly. "You were going to admit that, weren't you? That you love me? When did you start to love me? Maybe when I jumped for my brother, knowing I could very well fall and break my neck? Or maybe when I refused everything you offered me?"

Jareth's face darkened with rage, but Sarah continued: "Or maybe it was when I said the Labyrinth was a piece of cake?"

"Stop this, Sarah."

Sarah ignored him. "Or maybe when we danced in the peach dream? Or perhaps it was even before, when you warned me to turn back and I ignored you?"

"Stop!" Jareth took a threatening step forward, both hands clenched into angry fists now. He glowered at her, the wind whipping his clothes and hair back. The cloak billowed out like black wings, and he looked very intimidating indeed.

Sarah smiled. She had him now; she had his full attention. And she knew what she had to do, regardless of the fact that she was very afraid to say the words, and to admit the truth behind them. But, sometimes you had to do things that frightened you. She had learned that when she was fifteen.

Like face down a villainous king.

Like admiting she loved him.

Sarah said, her voice trembling, "I'll tell you when I realized I loved you—"

Jareth's expression froze, shock making his eyes widen in disbelief.

"It was when you helped a poor girl, drunk on goblin grog, back to her bed."

Had she just imagined Jareth's lips twitch? Sarah took it as a good sign. But, she took another deep breath, and added, "I wasn't lying when I said I didn't know how I could trust you, though. Jareth, you can't lie or cheat to 'get' me or whatever. I have to come to you."

"Is that what you're doing, Precious?" Jareth murmured, taking a step forward. "Are you willingly coming to me?"

"I wished for you, didn't I?"

"You did before—and then you wished yourself away."

Sarah shrugged. "I'm only human. I was angry—and you were a jerk." She took a step forward, as well, moving away from the railing toward him. She felt the edge of the wind that played across Jareth's clothes; a cool breeze that seemed to chortle and dance around the Goblin King. He looked every inch the overpowering monarch, and yet she wasn't intimidated. She kept her gaze locked on his and said, "Promise me there'll be no more tricks."

"I promise," Jareth said, quickly, taking another step.

"And no more cheating—"

"I promise."

"And no more scheming," Sarah said, taking another step, moving close enough that there was only a few inches of space between them. The wind had died away the closer she got, and now she felt the heat radiating off his body.

Jareth smiled and reached out to touch her hair, letting a lock of it run through his fingers. "Ah, now you ask for the impossible. The Goblin King is always scheming. But I can promise that you'll enjoy my…schemes." He pulled back his hand, his face growing serious as he considered her for a moment. He said, "Though, I wonder, Sarah…what are you offering me?"

"Forever," Sarah said, and took that final step. She cupped his face and kissed him. It was a tender kiss, just the barest pressure upon his lips, and just as she hoped, the Goblin King took the bait. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. His tongue teased along her lips, until she opened her mouth to him. She murmured appreciatively against his mouth as he expertly kissed her, and in that kiss, told her everything she needed to know about his feelings.

She broke away with a smug smile and said, again, "You love me."

Jareth shook his head and sighed dramatically. "I love you, Sarah. My infuriating, precious Sarah. What on earth changed your mind? I was quite sure that I would never see you again, let alone hear you wish for me."

Sarah just shrugged. "I suppose I realized that sometimes the way forward is the way back."

Jareth blinked, surprised, then tipped back his head and laughed. Sarah shuddered. The sound was so unlike anything she'd heard from him—so completely raw and honest—and he was ten times more beautiful when he smiled like that. But she decided not to let him know; his ego was already too huge.

She glanced at his tight pants. Yes, his ego

"And where should we go from here?" Jareth asked, momentarily confusing Sarah. Had the Goblin King suddenly become a mind reader? But, his next words were, "Shall I offer you your dreams again, Precious?"

"No need," Sarah said. "Let's take it one day at a time. After all, we've got a whole New Year…and if I remember correctly, you did promise me goblin fireworks."

"Indeed I did," Jareth said, amused. "I'm sure they'll enjoy that. They love fire so. It'll keep them distracted when we want to sneak away for some private time."

Sarah felt a warm tingle in her belly at the way Jareth smirked at her. She supposed she should find the smirk annoying, but it was so deliciously lecherous she just couldn't feel anything besides eagerness.

She teased, "Who said anything about sneaking away? I like fireworks."

Jareth leaned forward and whispered in her ear, causing his breath to tickle along the shell of her ear and making her shudder, "I'll give you a much better show than the goblins ever could."

"Promise?" Sarah said, breathlessly.

"Oh yes," Jareth said, his voice dipping huskily and making her shudder again.

Sarah was suddenly feeling very warm—almost hot really—which caused her mind to spark and reform from the lustful goo it had become and remember something very important. Sarah cleared her throat and said, "Before we do any sneaking away, I need to go to the bathroom."

Jareth's eyebrows rose. He said, "You don't have that strange, long garment on, do you? I told you it was optional."

"Jareth!" Sarah flushed. "I am so not answering that!"

Jareth grinned and buried his hand in her hair, cupping the back of her head, so that he could pull her close for a ravishingly deep kiss that took her breath away and left her a little dizzy. By the smug look on his face, he'd received the reaction he'd been hoping for. Oh boy, being with the Goblin King was going to be a handful.

Jareth conjured a crystal, balancing it on his fingertips. "Make a wish, love. For the New Year."

Sarah looked into the crystal and smiled. She said, "I wish the Goblin King would take me away—right now!"

And they disappeared in a puff of glitter.

Author's Notes: And so ends this little Christmas tale, which I meant to finish more than a year ago! Funny how life turns out. Looking back at the first few chapters, I'm surprised at how much my writing style has changed. :) But, I hope you enjoyed this story and the ending. I want to thank all my wonderful readers, you truly were the encouragement that kept me going. I think this little fanfic leaves open some delicious possibilities for a sequel sometime in the future, no? Ah, I wonder how my muse will react to THAT (if it does happen, and you are interested, I suggest author subscribing me so when I post a story, you'll get an update via your email)? :)

And like Sarah said, it is a New Year. Let's take one day at a time and live it to the fullest. May 2011 be a happy, wonderful year for everyone!

Please read & review! How did you like the ending? Happy that Jareth and Sarah worked their differences out? Remember, any comments/questions/suggestions will be relished and replied to. :)

If you liked my story, I encourage you to read my others. If you'd like to know more about my writing process, my life, commentary on the fanfics, etc. then check out my site, Cordite Quill's Corner. The link is on my author profile page. See you soon, wonderful readers! :)

And finally, here are a few shout-outs:

Lumissne: Hope this ending was suitably dramatic and fluffy. :)

tomoe-gozen52: I wanted to add Jessica, but in the end it turned into just a scene between Jareth and Sarah. However, if I write a sequel sometime, it'll definitely have the infamous Jessica. Oh, and I think all writers hear voices. It's a side effect of the profession/hobby. :P

jensulli11: I know in real life someone as stubborn as Jareth would be really frustrating, but somehow in fiction it always ends up being strangely endearing. :D I definitely have fun writing him as stubborn - and Sarah. They are similar in quite a few ways.

Celestine Sane: Nice critique. Honestly, Sir Didymus says Sarah a few times because it got tiring hearing "milady" all the time. But, you do make a good point. Oof! It was so difficult to write that chapter! lol

VampireMafiaQueen: *blush* Thanks for the wonderful compliments...and I'll hold you to that promise. I'm working on the final edits of a manuscript right now. ;)

Disclaimer: As always, I own nothing when it comes to the Labyrinth or Jareth (*sniffle*) or Sarah. I only own my original characters. This fanfiction is meant for entertainment purposes only. Please do not repost without my permission beforehand.