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Chapter Sixteen: In Which We Meet Jareth's Mommy

Theme Music: Misguided Roses- Edwin McCain

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AU- Sorry this took so long, my computer has been having a series of hiccups that ate at least three versions of chapter 16 (grrrrrrrr) but the end result is a better thought out plot so, oh well. Anyway, I've been having problems uploading before now but 200 dolloars of tech labor and a re-vamp of FanFiction.net seem to have solved the problem.

Finally!


Sarah yelped as the floor disappeared from beneath her feet, Jareth's hands shot out in the darkness and caught her.

"Watch that first step." he warned her. "We're in a staircase.

"Oh, just after the nick of time..." she groused.

Jareth snapped his fingers and torches flared to life on the walls to illuminate a staircase spiraling down byeond Sarah's line of sight. "Rosebud has suite of rooms at the bottom." Jareth informed her as he took her hands and led her down the steps. "She says being deep in the earth aids her Sight."

"Sight?" Sarah echoed. "How can you see anything... wait, nevermind."

Jareth chuckled. "You did have that lesson pounded into you on your last visit, didn't you?"

"Never take anything for granted." Sarah quoted. "How do you think I ended up with Bea for a roomate and sentient furniture?"

"I've been meaning to ask you about that." Jareth said mildly. "Just how did you manage that? Even in the undergrouind it is very rare for even a single inanimate object to become aware of itself."

Sarah shrugged. "Actually, I think it's the building I live in. It seems to ... attract magic. I have a neighbor two doors down who dances naked on the rooftop every full moon."

"So?" Jareth asked skeptically. "So do you."

"I don't work skyclad." Sarah said, miffed. "And I certainly don't turn into a swan either."

"You live with a swan mane?" Jareth said, startled. He grinned. "They're said to bring good fortune to those who see them."

"I live with a poltergiest." Sarah clarified. "The swan mane is just a neighbor." she shook her head. "What was it you were saying about Rosebud earlier, shje's your what?"

Jareth blushed. "We're almost there..."

They reached the end of the stairs and came to rest before a sturdy iron clad door barred with iron.

"Dagda damn his eyes..." Jareth growled. "Cain has been here." he looked imploringly to Sarah. "If you don't mind terribly..."

Sarah smothered a laugh and unbarred the door. "I thought you were half human?" Sarah teased.

Jareth turned an unbecoming color and looked the other way. "Somethings breed true... allergy to iron for example."

Sarah shoved the door open and gasped as Jareth's hands closed around her arms. "This is the moment of truth." he hissed. "Don't let me down!"

He propelled her through a demi- antechamber draped with light pink curtains made of silk and some delicate furniture. He didn't let her stop to admire their surroundings. Instead they went straight into the main chamber.

"Finally!"

Sarah found her eyes riveted to the tiny woman in the center of the room. She was seated at a tiny table draped with more pink silk that flowed onto the dusty-rose colored carpet.

"Rose-bud I presume?" she said carefully.

The woman, who had to have been younger than Sarah, rose to her feet and came across the room to clasp Sarah hands in her own.

"Yes, yes!" she chirped. "And you're Sarah, Jareth has told me so much about you. It's about time you brought her to see me, you naughty child!" she said to Jareth over Sarah's shoulder.

"Well... uh... I...." Jareth mumbled.

Rosebud sniffed disparagingly. "I'll have none of that. Go on with you now! Sarah and I have things to discuss."

"Yes ma'am." Jareth said stiffly and vanished.

Sarah jumped a little as Jareth's touch on her skin abated. "Ah... weasn't that a little..."

Rosebud gave a tittering laugh. "Foolhardy? Well, yes I imagine it was." she took Sarah's hand and led her to the table in the center of the room. At a gesture of her hand. some of the silk draping fell away to reveal a second chair which she propelled Sarah into.

Rosebud resumed her own seat and winked conspiratorially to Sarah. "... but if his own mother can't get away with it, who can?"

Sarah made an unladylike noise. "You... you're his..."

The other woman gave another tinkering laugh. "I don't look it, do I? Well, yes. I do have the misfortune of spawning that vain thing my husband calls a son." she sighed. "Of course, he isn't so bad even if he thinks overly much of himself. Luckily he has women in his life such as you and I to disabuse him of the notion."

Sarah relaxed a little. "Jareth didn't bring me here just to meet his mother, did he?"

Rosebud sighed. "Regretablly not." she mafde a gesture with one hand and more of the silk fell away from to table... revealing as not a table but a basin of silvery water on a golden stand.

"You are hear to learn everything you need to know both about yourself and those who oppose you." she said gravely. "I know what Jareth has told you, no doubt he led you to believe his father and I are dead."

Sarah nodded mutely.

"We aren't, obviously but we have had to hide ourselves away." Rosebud explained. "It's no cooincedance that Cain is free, it's impossible that he solved the Labyrinth on his own, he doesn't have the spiritual fortitude. By now you must realize that solving the Labyrinth has nothing to do with luck or choosing the right path and everything to do with the strength of your will."

"I thought as much." Sarah murmured. "So are you saying that Cain has support of some sort?"

Rosebud nodded. "I saw Gawain telling you of the power strcutures between Druids and Sorcerers, but he didn't tell you all of it... magic is all about balance. Doesn't it seem awefully imbalanced that Arch-Druids exist while there is only one sort of sorcerer?"

Sarah shrugged helplessly and Rosebud laughed.

"That is because, my dear, there can only be one Arch Druid at a time. When one Druid retires she passes them onto her successor, the knowledge of the powers of an Arch Druid are totally instinctual." Rosebud reached across the pool of water to carress Sarah's cheek. "You are my successor, that is hy the powers that released Cain have set him on you. That is why I remain hidden down here behind a door of cold iron and swathed in silk to muffle the power of my magic. Should either of us die before I complete the transfer of power from myself to you then there will never be another Arch Druid."

Sarah blinked. "You're giving me your power?"

Rosebud nodded. "I have been doing so ever since you first came to the Labyrinth." She touched the silken waters of her scrying pool. "Nothing is hidden from me except by the most powerful magics. I saw when you arrived and I recognized you for what ytou were. Jareth did as well, in a manner of speaking..." Rosebud laughed. "Of course, he didn't truly know until I pulled him aside and told him a few weeks ago."

Sarah blushed but Rosbud didn't stop talking.

"Time is short and there is much you must be aware of." the Arch Druid continued. "We are both vulnerable while the transfer of power takes place, but as soon as it finishes then we both will be totally immune to anything that could be thrown at us. I will be immune for it is my place to teach you the use of your magic and you... well, because you will be the New Arch Druid."

"Who exactly are we talking about here?" Sarah asked dubiously, not really sure whether she believed what she was hearing. "The opposition, I mean."

Rosebud sighed. "I have absolutely no clue."

Au- you haste me for leaving it off there, I know it! ;oP