Tokens of Affection
Summary: One year later, Sarah takes a chance. A purple hyacinth - 'Please, forgive me.'
Chapter One: The Tokens
Sarah fidgeted nervously as she paced the length of her room. A single letter and flower were clutched in her hands as she debated the wisdom of her actions. Was this really a good idea? Did she really want to open up this can of worms?
The handful of goblins hovering about her room watched her in mild amusement, their mischievous little hearts finding her inner turmoil an odd cross between frustrating and entertaining.
Honestly, all this for a letter.
Sarah stopped, and suddenly spun to the nearest goblin, thrusting the letter and greenery into its chest.
"Hurry, before I lose my nerve."
The goblin grinned and vanished. Sarah went back to her pacing.
When the goblin reappeared next, he was in the throne room. A quick look around assured him the area was deserted. Moving far quieter than such a clumsy looking creature would suggest, he set the items down on the throne and swiftly disappeared. After all, if the King didn't like what the Lady had done, he didn't want to be around to see it.
A few minutes later, Jareth appeared with a small child in his arms, her older sibling already trying to find the gate.
He didn't hold out much hope.
"Well, my dear," He began, as he gently bounced the child on one hip. "It would seem you'll probably be here for an extended stay. Any preferences on lodging? "
The child said nothing, merely looking up at him from beneath a ridiculously frilled pink bonnet. Jareth gave the child a pitying look. He honestly didn't know what went through some parents minds when they dressed their children.
Sighing, he calmly bent down and handed the babe off to a passing goblin. At least the little girl was quiet. Which was quite the blessing at the moment, considering her older brother was his third runner in as many hours. By all rights, it was an absolute mess. It was taking everything he and his subjects had just to keep the first two from crossing paths (Honestly, was it really so hard for them not to tempt fate?). Now, if this last one (by some miracle) managed to find his way through the gate, he wasn't sure they'd be able to keep up.
Exhausted, he ran a hand through his hair and made his way over to his throne. Right now all he wanted to do was sit down, take a break and…
There was letter on his seat… And a flower.
He blinked in faint surprise. He didn't normally get flowers.
Almost reverently, he reached out and gently lifted the blossom from where it was left. It was an Aboveground breed, one not commonly found in the Underground. A careful inspection revealed a small almost lily-like appearance with a distinctly short stem. Something niggled at the back of his memory.
"Well, aren't you far from home?" He muttered to it.
It shifted faintly in his grasp, tentatively reaching out to leech off his residual magic and grow roots and a bulb. He smiled, as he watched it.
"That's right," he coaxed. "you don't need water and sun to grow here."
As it continued to grow and take shape, Jareth absently summoned a small pot with loose soil, mindfully using two fingers to dig it a small hole to plant itself in. He grinned, as it all but leapt off his hand into its new bed, wiggling about as it made itself comfortable.
"Isn't that gratitude for you?" He laughed.
It turned up to him affectionately and made odd little kissy sounds at him, diligently using its new leaf to pat the dirt around it firm.
Gently, Jareth sat the growing plant down near the foot of his throne, curiously scooping up the letter that had come with it. Spinning slightly on his heel, he flopped down and began to open the missive. He'd expected something long winded and probably official. What he got was simple Aboveground notebook paper and a single short sentence.
I didn't understand before, I'm sorry I hurt you. -S
Jareth stared, stunned. It couldn't be.
A sharp flick of the wrist and a barely breathed, "Sarah." had the newly summoned crystal swiftly bringing up an image of the requested girl.
While there was little sound to be heard, it wasn't hard to make out her agitated pacing and his goblins amused commentary. He watched, oddly pleased as she whirled on one of her spectators and tossed the nearest pillow. The little creature gave a startled shriek as it was suddenly bowled over, its fellows laughing raucously at his punishment.
Jareth grinned to himself before softly blowing along the crystal and clearing the image. He needed to check on his runners.
"Minney." He ordered sharply.
His first runner was a young mother, a sad creature that truly didn't deserve the torment she was going through. It had been ignorance and poor circumstance that had put her in this situation.
He took in a breath and exhaled harshly as he watched her, frustrated.
It was instances like these that he truly hated his job. If it was left to him, he would never answer such wishes, desiring instead to grant a bit of good fortune where it was needed.
Blowing once again along the crystal's surface he called out, "Nathaniel."
The second runner he held no sympathy for. He was an orphan that had recently been adopted into a large and loving family. Rather than trying to fit in and help with the two younger children, he'd instead been slowly causing trouble, sowing unrest within his new kin.
Jareth knew the boy held no remorse for what he'd done and was only running out of fear for what his guardians might do if they found the youngest missing. For that, the Labyrinth would never let him win. It was a pity he couldn't return the wished away child, but that was the Labyrinth's own punishment for the parents, for not reining in their newest son.
Exhaling sadly along the crystals surface, he called forth his last runner.
Jareth, honestly didn't know what to feel for this runner. Perhaps pity was suitable. He still hadn't found the gate and the dwarf was laughing at him.
Lewis, had not meant to wish, he truly loved his younger sister and had only been frustrated at the circumstances that had fallen on both of them. Their parents were extremely neglectful, and he highly doubted the little girl would have lived as long as she had without her older brother's affection. However, he was young himself and there was much he couldn't do while looking after a baby.
Jareth sighed, as he deftly tossed the crystal into the air and watched it pop like a soap bubble.
He would offer the first and the last citizenship and hopefully could leave the children in their care. The second would not receive any mercy.
Glancing back to the letter in his hand, he tried to think of what he could do. There was no denying that he'd longed for a second chance with Sarah. A chance to do things outside the rules of the Labyrinth. However, he'd been reluctant to take that first step so soon after their first failure. Now though…
His lips twitched up into a faint smile. If she felt ready enough to take a chance, who was he not to humor her?
Reaching over, he scooped up the now grown plant and felt himself pause. The single tiny flower was now a large cluster grouped along the top of a thick stem, its diminutive leaf was now two, the wide greenery spread like open hands ready to catch the sun.
He drew in a sharp knowing breath.
A single blossom he didn't recognize, but fully grown and in bloom it was hard to forget.
A purple hyacinth.
"Oh, Precious." He breathed, touched.
Please forgive me.
Sarah yawned groggily as she stumbled from her room and into the hall bathroom. Despite waiting up half the night with the goblins, no return sentiment of any kind had presented itself. Her heart ached at the perceived rejection. Perhaps it had been wrong of her to say anything.
Finishing up her morning routine, she headed back into her bedroom, determined to forget the previous night.
There, in front of her, planted in a delicate crystal pot was an amusingly small Camellia shrub.
Her eyes lit.
Grinning, she shot across the room, barely catching herself before she ran into the vanity it had been left on. Did he…?
She bounced lightly in place as she spotted the note nestled among its branches. Gently slipping the little paper from its hiding spot, she anxiously unfolded it and read it's reply.
Are you sure you understand now? -J
Sarah took a faint, shaky breath as she eyed the miniature tea plant, her earlier amusement dampened. Yes, she did understand and she sorely missed her ignorance sometimes.
The camellia Jareth had given her was a playful hot pink, its petals bright and unforgettable against the white of her vanity. Thoughtfully, she reached into the top right drawer and pulled from it her step-mother's gift for her recent sixteenth birthday.
It was a book. A rather thick one containing a detailed encyclopedia of the Victorian and Chinese Flower languages. Karen had given her the book as an unspoken peace offering, and Sarah treasured it more than her step-mother knew. Expertly flipping through the pages she looked up the meaning behind the camellia.
It listed the flower four times. The first definition was the standard camellia with the last three specifying a specific color.
She glanced up at the flower again, her cheeks coloring.
I long for you.
"Are you sure you'll be alright?" Jareth asked, his posture concerned.
The young woman in front of him smiled freely, two children resting happily upon her hips. "More than all right. And don't forget my offer. You need a little help minding those kids of yours, just call. I'll come right over."
Jareth nodded, somewhat satisfied.
His first runner, Minney Sinclair, had managed to reach the hedge maze before losing her last three hours to its twists and turns. The young woman had been in such a state of despair when he came to her that he'd feared she might die of it. Only the softly asked, "Do you want to keep the child?" had roused her enough to listen.
Now, they were standing in a small cottage in one of the more rarely found areas of the Labyrinth. It was part of a minor settlement hidden deeply in the Wolf-Reign Woods.
"Ms. Minney?" A voice called, timidly. "Is it alright to come in?"
Minney looked up, her eyes bright. "Lewis! Did you bring little Fiona with you?"
His third runner peeked in, a shyly smiling toddler hiding behind his legs.
This one had surprised him. It had taken the young man eight hours to find and pass the gate. Something that by all rights, shouldn't have tripped him up as badly as it did. When Jareth had ask the dwarf what the problem had been, he'd muttered something about the lad being paranoid about a trick.
…Honestly, Jareth knew nothing about that.
Still, with only five hours to work with, Jareth was extremely impressed when he found the boy a little under half way to his goal.
"She's right here." He said, gently dragging the little girl into view. She giggle and shrieked as the young man swung her about, little feet kicking in the air.
"Do you have everything you need, Mr. Lassiter?" Jareth asked.
The boy smiled, "Yes sir, more than enough, thank you. Everyone around here is so happy to see small children that I can actually take a little time to breathe. Which reminds me…"
He turned to Minney, his smile a little shy. "Ms. Emily was wondering if she could borrow them for a bit. She said she has some old clothes that might fit them alright if that's okay with you?"
Minney grinned, and shot a look at Jareth. "See? What did I tell you? There's nothing for you to worry about. You've literally given us a village to help raise these kids." She turned to Lewis. "The slings are in the bedroom, go ahead and take them up. I'll be around in a while to get them."
The young man beamed, as he raced into the room. Within minutes, he had a babe carefully tied to both back and chest with a third toddling along behind him.
Jareth still wasn't too sure about leaving the second wished-away with the new mother but once she'd heard that he'd had another child to find a home for, she'd insisted that it would be good for the kids to grow up together. "When I was young, I'd always wanted a sibling to play with." She'd said. "It's just too good an opportunity to pass up for them."
While the Goblin King's second-wished away had found a good home, he couldn't say the same thing about his runner. Nathaniel Prince had found himself back home with no memory about how the youngest had disappeared. It was cruel to leave things that way for the family but if the boy was going to change, this was going to be the only chance Jareth was willing to offer him.
"King! King! The Lady sent another one!"
Jareth stared in barely restrained dismay as a small goblin skidded into the room, a tiny flower and note carefully clutched in its outstretched hands. He closed his eyes and willed himself to remain patient.
"King?" The goblin asked, giving its hands a gentle emphasizing shake.
The Goblin King sighed and accepted the small tokens. "Thank you, Flinn."
Grinning, the goblin quickly turned and shot back out the way it'd come. He knew better than to stick around after his mischief.
Jareth glanced down, noting the new flower that was quickly beginning to grow.
A white violet.
"The Lady?" Minney asked, her eyes knowing.
Jareth purposely kept his eyes down. "An acquaintance of mine."
She grinned, the proverbial cat that caught the canary. "An acquaintance that sends you love letters, it would seem."
He shot her a dirty look out of the corner of his eye. "Are you always this brazen?"
He gave a frustrated sigh, "She is… someone I made mistakes with in the past."
Minney frowned. "And you're worried you might make mistakes, again, I take it."
He finally looked up at her, covering his surprise with a shrewd glance. "Pardon?"
"You hold that… plant?" Her voice took on a faintly incredulous tone. "Like it means the world, but you look at that paper like it could mean the end of it."
Jareth hesitated. "I… would not have thought you so insightful."
Minney looked pleased. "Most don't. Why don't you go ahead and take a seat and read it. I promise I won't be too nosy."
Jareth wavered momentarily, before giving her a brief nod of thanks. Swiftly, taking the offered seat, he warily opened the folded note.
I know that I'd like to try. Let me see you the way you see me. -S
Jareth took a deep relieved breath. So, she understood. He'd worried for a time that she didn't completely understand what he'd been offering; that she was only seeing things in a vague perspective.
"Good news, then?"
Jareth looked up, smiling. "Quite good news."
Minney hummed thoughtfully, eyeing the plant wrapped around his wrist. "So, if the love note was good news, what kind of news is the Miracle-Grow mascot?
His smile took on a faintly competitive edge. "Proof that I can begin to take things seriously."
Minney subtly stood a bit straighter, a mama cat suddenly realizing it's been holding court with a fox. "What kind of serious are we talking about?"
Jareth's answering grin was determined. "The kind of serious that will give us both our dreams."
Lets take a chance on happiness.
Sarah Williams was not one to run and hide.
"Is she gone yet?"
Which was probably why her current situation rankled as badly as it did.
"Not yet, still talking." A small goblin whispered back.
Sarah sighed, and settled in. It looked like she had a long wait in front of her.
Four months ago, a couple of weeks into school, a new girl had shown up. She was blonde, beautiful, and Satan incarnate. The kind of girl that you hear horror stories about.
Marcus Black, the school's now ex-quarterback, learned the hard way that the new girl was without reproof. A pretty lie and a few crocodile tears later his chances of a Sports Scholarship were destroyed, along with being served a year long suspension. Within the first week of the girls reign, the blonde quickly became living proof that some people really could get away with anything.
Sarah, had it a bit worse than most of her peers. Once Lacey Jeanes (and yes, her parents were that cruel.) had found out she was the daughter of the Linda Williams, she'd decided they would be friends. Sarah had wasted no time in disillusioning her of that notion.
Lacey had not been happy.
Which in a roundabout way, explained why she was now hiding, three months later, where she was.
Honestly, some people could just not let go of a grudge.
Unlike most of the newer schools, Sarah's drama department did not have a fancy lighting system. The Drama students still had to do most of the lighting and effects by hand. This meant that the catwalks were still commonly used and maintained.
Sarah thought it was funny that no one thought to look for her in her favored element.
"That little bitch, thinks she so great!" She suddenly heard. "She won't be able to hide forever. She'll have to slip up sometime."
Sarah held her breath. Okay, so it was funny. Since when was Lacey smart enough to use her brain instead of her mother's money?
"I'm telling you Lace, I saw her come in here. This is probably where she's been hiding the last few weeks."
Well, that answered that. Miranda Pierce, was proof that good help wasn't always hard to find. Or, in Lacey's case, buy. It was a well known fact, that Miranda wouldn't so much as sneeze without Lacey's say so.
Now wasn't that just something to write home about.
Of course, if Lacey and Miranda were here then that meant…
"Come on, babe. It's been an hour, the Brat is probably long gone by now."
Kevin Rochester, the jock with the old money family. A year earlier, before Lacey, Kevin had tried to date Sarah. As the daughter of the Linda Williams (and didn't that get old fast) it was only proper that they should try a relationship. Sarah had not agreed and amusingly enough, neither had Kevin.
She wondered what Lacey would think to know that her darling Kevin was only dating her to appease his family until he was eighteen.
"Alright, sweetheart." She heard Lacey simper. "Lets go. I suppose, I can always wait to talk to her another day."
"That's my girl."
Sarah quietly exhaled in relief as she listened to the fading footsteps.
That had been far too close.
"Lady can go home, now?" The little goblin finally asked.
Sarah nodded as best she could while lying down. "In just a few minutes."
Sure enough, barely a minute later, "So, how's my Nina, Brat?"
Sarah grinned, as she peeked over the edge of the catwalk, tauntingly dangling a thick envelope. "The Lady Nina sends her love and would like the great Sir Kevin to know that she will indeed accompany us to the winter renaissance event in Morrisville. Is that satisfactory, Jock?"
Kevin grinned right back. "Just about."
Deftly, Sarah released the letter, letting it fall to its awaiting recipient.
"Thanks for the save, by the way." She called down. "Lacey's been a real trip lately."
Kevin frowned. "Tell me about it. The Denim Devil has practically been frothing at the mouth for the past two weeks, as far as you're concerned, you'd better watch your back around her."
Sarah snorted, "I have been watching my back. Lacey and Miranda are just sniffing me out faster than I can keep up. I swear, that girl is like a bloodhound. Heck, I can't even remember doing anything to Miranda, can you?"
Kevin shook his head. "Not Miranda. Not even anyone she was hanging with before Lacey. Best I can guess, is that she's trying to get in good with Lace. You know the girl is like a walking ATM."
Sarah made a face.
Kevin laughed. "Thanks again for this Sarah. I don't know what we'd do without you."
"Probably spend an obscene amount of money on a P.O. box." Sarah quipped.
Kevin shook his head. "Only you Sarah. You know, we could turn this into a double date if you bring that guy you won't talk about."
Sarah blushed and slid back to the middle of the catwalk.
"I'm not talking to you about this."
Kevin gave the catwalk a sly look. "You know, guys feel loved when girls invite them to things. It lets them know the girl still wants them around."
Sarah peered over the edge. "Is this actual advice or manipulation?"
Kevin gave her a triumphant look. "Both, so when can he come?"
She sighed. "When I ask him, alright. He has other things he has to look after."
"More important than his girl? As if."
Sarah flinched. "It's not quite as easy as all that."
Kevin paused in his prying. "Did he hurt you?" The jock asked.
"We hurt each other. There was… a lot of misunderstanding between us the first time we met. We're just starting to clear the air." She corrected.
Kevin nodded in understanding. "So, he met the Brat, before he met Sarah. Poor soul, you can tell him he has my condolences."
"Honestly though, just give him an open invitation. If he comes, he comes. If not, then he doesn't. We just do what we always do."
She nodded, still smiling. "Alright. If things go okay these next few days, I'll ask. Happy?"
"Very." He agreed.
A few more minutes of chit-chat and Kevin was gone.
It was a strange friendship she shared with the jock and his esoteric girlfriend. Kevin's family was determined he marry into either money or status.
Last year, it had been her, this year it was Lacey. It was cruel that they were forcing him into these kinds of relationships. Sarah knew it was only a matter of time before he became a legal adult, and left his family and their dreams behind.
It made her wonder what Kevin's family would think, to know that the girl he was really dating was actually a first rate programmer.
Nina Walker, she knew, would not be a nobody for long.
Sitting along the catwalk, she thought about how her life had led up to this point. Before the Labyrinth, Sarah hadn't had any friends. Between her parents' divorce and her father's almost hasty marriage to Karen, Sarah had had very little time to cope with the drastic changes her life was making.
Toby's sudden birth had just been the icing on an perpetually tilting cake.
As much as Sarah didn't want to admit it sometimes, she'd needed the Labyrinth. The lessons she'd learned and the friends she'd gained had been a balm to her tattered heart.
Now, that she'd had her time to heal, it was her turn to heal in return.
Speaking of returns, she smiled in faint amusement as the air a few feet in front of her began to shimmer. Within seconds, a medium sized goblin had slid into view carrying a familiar crystal pot and note.
"Are those for me?" She asked.
The goblin gave her a dry look. "Well, they certainly ain't mine!"
Sarah grinned, as she reached over and slid both plant and note closer. A careful examination revealed not one, but two different plants this time, the previously subtle, but clear-cut, messages becoming a bit more complicated.
Quickly sliding the note from the odd tangle of branches, she hastily opened it.
You speak boldly now. What if I'm not what you imagine? -J
Sarah smiled sadly. The truth of it all was that this relationship scared her. During her time in the Labyrinth, Jareth had been the one thing that could intimidate her. He was a creature without boundaries or weakness, a constant wild card. Every time she'd thought she had something figured out, he would send her spinning again.
And, as hard as it was for her to admit that she'd needed the Labyrinth, it was near impossible to admit she'd needed Jareth more. Her heart ached with the knowledge that even now, she still needed him.
She looked at the flowers and started to laugh.
A rhododendron and a Carolina rose.
"You can't chase me off that easily, Goblin King."
It's dangerous to love me.
Jareth sighed, as he looked at his newest gifts. He'd given her one more warning, one more chance to back out. Her answer was as bold as she was.
I'll take my chances. -S
Sarah Williams, truly was a force to be reckoned with. Even now, her determination hadn't faltered.
Jareth smiled. It was nice having someone willing to fight for him, even if it was him she was fighting.
It was odd, but it brought back memories of being small when his family had still thought he was something precious to hold on to. His heart ached, wondering what could have been had his elder brother not been so jealous, and his father less fearful.
He closed his eyes, willing away the memories. Nothing good ever came from thinking of his family. They made it perfectly clear he wasn't welcome.
His smile changed into something self-depreciating. He wondered what Sarah would think of him, to know he'd been exiled from his homeland for something he bore no control over.
He took in a deep shaky breath and forced his thoughts to other things.
Curiously, Jareth eyed the days' bloom and felt his heart ease.
"You truly are a precious thing, Sarah."
I would not have you otherwise.
"Is that normal?" Hoggle asked.
She shook her head, too stunned to speak.
The goblins were dancing.
Quite lewdly, as a matter of fact, to a one of her David Bowie cassettes. She tilted her head faintly to one side as one of them managed to pull off a particularly difficult number. Where the hell had they learned to dance like that?
Exuding a calm she didn't feel, she slipped over to her stereo and pressed the stop button. The goblins all whined their protests.
"Don't, 'awww' me," She commanded. "Where in either worlds did you learn to dance like that?"
The goblins all grinned, pleased with themselves.
"We learned from the T.V." One of them volunteered.
"Yeah!" Another agreed. "They was dancin' and singin' and dancin' and singin', and that's all they did!"
"Was the bestest thing, ever." Another spoke up.
They all hummed in a agreement with the last one. Sarah had the distinct urge to cry. Hoggle patted her hand consolingly.
"It seems you got yourself a new problem on your hands. I'll stop by later." Hoggle offered, making his way over to her mirror.
"I'm sorry Hoggle." She apologized.
He waved it off. "I've been living with these nuts longer than you have. I know what they're like. You take care, missy." And from one blink to the next, he was gone.
Of all the channels for them to find, it had to be MTV. She wondered if Jareth would hold her responsible for the this. She hoped not. A goblin quietly tugged at her hand, drawing her attention downward.
"Those for the Lady." It said, pointing to her nightstand.
She blinked and looked up, finally noticing her newest acquisition.
A purple Columbine.
She snickered. "Oh, I have got to see this."
Quickly snatching up the attached note, she began to read.
If we do this, I won't let you slip away again. -J
A sly grin slid across her face.
"Who said I want to slip away this time?"
I'm resolved to win.
Jareth was laughing, as he sat along his throne, the return note clutched tightly in his hand.
Then, let the games begin. -S
Such a beautifully thrilling creature! He remembered now what had initially drawn him to her. He grinned wickedly as he gazed at her latest gifts.
Of all the things for her to send, a Lady's Slipper, wrapped around an Imperial Lily. Such a cheeky thing she was turning out to be. He looked forward to the chase.
Win me, my King.
I never thought I would write a multi-chapter story. Yet here I am, looking at this one-shot turned monster wondering how it all happened. For those that are curious, this story will be updated once weekly, and is already nearly complete. If anyone sees any stray coding or errors, you're welcome to point them out, and I will do what I can to fix them ASAP. Once again, I'd like to thank my beta's: Xx Clear Dawnlight xX - xBlackRabbitx - BreathOfNocte - Tana-san. These guys have done a wonderful job of cleaning up these chapters and putting up with my almost manic desire to make sure this story is as close to perfect as I can get it.
Now once again, I ask that my readers please leave a contribution in the little box, and thanks again for reading. -Shi