Disclaimer: The only thing I claim to own is the insane idea that formed this story. Everything else is borrowed.
Summary: When two people from different realms literally pass through each other, there's going to be consequences. Unfortunately, we have a confused teen and a disgruntled king… Now, what have I come up with this time?
One Single Tear
The Labyrinth Kingdom was finally quiet, everyone was exhausted from Sarah's run in the Labyrinth, not to mention the after party that had followed. Jareth lounged sideways upon his throne with a bruised ego and a heavy heart. He had actually started to fall in love with the girl. Which was ridiculous, one doesn't fall in love within thirteen hours, it's simply ludicrous. Especially at his age!
"She is a spoiled girl, barely more than a child, a mortal child, and nothing more."
He repeated this to himself at least four more times, each time with more conviction than the last. Frustrated, he rose from the throne, changed to his owl form, and flew out the window to head for the portal to the Aboveground.
Perching in the tree outside her bedroom window, he simply watched her as she slept. 'Nothing special there,' he told himself. 'Breath in, breath out. It's all quite ordinary, really.'
Then, she opened her eyes wide with a sudden start, sitting upright she looked around her room frantically. She slumped her shoulders after being reassured she was alone, and was about to lay back down when her gaze happened to glance out the window. Her eyes met his with startling intensity.
'There is absolutely nothing ordinary about her,' Jareth thought as her sea green eyes bore into his mismatched owl eyes. 'Nothing ordinary at all.' He remained still, holding her gaze with his, while perched regally on the branch. 'Come, come, look away first, silly girl. I can stare all night, you know.' As though hearing his thoughts, she let her eyes fall downcast. Jareth ruffled his feather in victory, ready to take flight and be done with this silliness, when she pushed back her covers and approached the window.
"I knew you'd come," she stated quietly after thrusting the window open with both hands.
'Did you now?' he thought, gazing at her steadily. 'Amazing, considering that I didn't know I would end up here this night.'
"Something happened to us, didn't it?"
'Surely you don't expect me to answer you.' Even his thoughts were heavy with dry sarcasm. He looked away from her, indignantly staring off into the night. 'A silly girl, nothing more.' He told himself, again.
"Yea," she voiced with conviction, nodding her head. "Something happened. I don't know what, but I can feel it. And, I know you feel it too, or you wouldn't be here."
'Still think yourself so smart, do you?' He turned his head to peer back at her again. He fluffed his wings slightly and shifted his feet on the branch for a better grasp. 'Perhaps you're right, then what? What's said is said. You refused everything I offered you. You gallantly destroyed any chance of having your dreams fulfilled, and for what? A screaming baby? Hardly seems worth the price.'
She bowed her head with regret, staring at her hands resting on the window sill as though she had heard his thoughts. If he had been in his natural form, one of his eyebrows would have arched questioningly. 'Move aside and let me in,' he thought impatiently, poising himself as though ready to take flight towards the window.
She raised her eyes at his movement, ignoring his stance for entry. "I did everything I was supposed to do," she stated quietly. "I said the words I had to say, and I saved my half brother as was expected of me." Her eyes shifted into a pleading expression. "Why do I feel like I did something wrong?"
He shifted his feet impatiently, opening his wings slightly wider. 'Move aside and let me in!'
She looked at him with uncertainty for a moment, then stepped back and to the side of the window so he may enter. He flew from the branch, through the window, and landed on human feet inside her room.
"You destroyed half my kingdom," he expressed, turning on her with a calm and steady gaze. "You refused the gifts of a king, 'my' gifts." He pointed at her accusingly. "Of which you could never obtain anywhere else." He waved his hand dramatically in the air. "You corrupted my subjects, and contaminated the very air with your mortality." He placed his hands on his hips. "And you ask 'me' why you feel as though you've done something wrong?"
She gazed upon him for a long moment, absorbing everything he had said, then let her gaze fall downward. "I made a mess of things, didn't I?"
"I would say so, yes!"
"Then, take me back," she pleaded with him, stepping forward. "And I'll fix everything."
He took a dramatic step back from her, looking at her aghast. "Fix everything? And how do you suppose to do that?"
"I… I don't know. But," she lowered her head for a moment, thinking of how she and her friends had destroyed the goblin's homes, and the city around the castle, then met his eyes again. "Let me try."
He squared his shoulders, appearing taller, and narrowed his eyes at her. Taking a step closer, he noticed the flicker of uncertainty and fear in her eyes, though she held her ground. Stepping closer yet, he leaned very close to her face to make his point unmistakable. "Do you honestly think that I would allow you in my kingdom after what you have done? After what you've said?"
She had to consciously think to breath under his baleful scrutiny. He'd never gotten that close to her before, except to discourage her from over her shoulder. But, this was different, he stood so close to her that there was barely any space between them at all. She could smell his unique scent from his hair and skin. With a resolve she didn't feel, she swallowed harshly and turned her head ever so slightly, bringing his face even closer.
"Why are you here, then? How am I supposed to make things right if you won't give me a chance?"
"I've given you more chances than you'll ever know, Sarah." He stepped away from her suddenly, heading towards the window. "Be a good little girl, go back to your bed, close your eyes, and dream of someone else. This story has come to an end."
Before she could say or do anything, he changed his form and flew from her room on majestic wings. She bolted to the window, to call him back, but he had already disappeared into the night. She turned from the window, not bothering to close it again, and moved to her bed on leaden feet, her heart heavy with regret… and something that she just didn't understand.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER…
The Underground was in full preparation to celebrate the turn of an era. A new High King would be appointed as the current ruler resigned his title. After the High Queen had tragically passed on, the High King no longer had the desire to rule and announced his decision to allow his successor to prepare himself. The appointed young king had many things to accomplish before accepting the title of High King, one of them being to announce the woman he'd been courting as his queen.
But, the denizens of the Underground also had their doubts and trepidations concerning this new era. Would the new High King be as fair and firm as the current one? Would his new Queen grace the kingdoms with her beauty as the previous Queen had done, and would the Goblin King choose this day above all others to wage war as he had come to do more and more frequently lately.
The Goblin King had become the most feared king in all the Underground for his ruthlessness and cunning. His untimely attacks against any who had ever opposed him left the other kingdoms defenseless by pure means of his unpredictability. But, the High King himself had guaranteed everyone that the Goblin King would honor him one last display of loyalty, and cease his attacks for a full month's time before, during, and after the celebrations. And when the High King gives his word, it is taken with reverence.
It was a week before the celebration, and guests were already arriving in anticipation of the festivities. Only the most elite from each kingdom had been invited to the High Castle in the kingdom of Avalon, and Jareth, the Goblin King, had been one of them. He had arrived seven days early to honor his word to the High King, and assure the other kingdoms of the same. He wasn't at all interested in the court, nor their politics, though he found the rumor about the 'not quite yet' new queen most intriguing, and hoped to bear witness if the woman refused the title at the last minute as many expected her to do.
He strolled out to the gardens, noticing how the flowers seemed wilted and unkempt. He felt a brief stab of sorrow at the loss of the High Queen, then steeled his thoughts before they could stray towards another female that never seemed to be far from his mind. He had never heard from 'her' after that fateful night, after he had told her to dream of another. Too bad he hadn't managed to take his own advice, for he realized after it was too late, that she had been right. Something had happened to them that night, something that had bound them to one another, and he had done far more damage than she could have ever accomplished.
Jareth had turned his heart bitter and cold when he realized he'd never have her by his side, as it was supposed to be. He took his inner anger out on anyone who had ever crossed him, who had ever defied him, and those who had dared to mock him for ruling a kingdom that no one else wanted. He smirked malevolently at the prospect of challenging the soon-to-be High King just before his inauguration.
Garret Mondrake was not so much older than Jareth, and had crossed his path once too many times. He was the sort to spare the rod and forgive too easily, and Jareth wasn't the only one who predicted the fall of the Underground within a hundred years of Garret's reign as High King.
"Pardon for intruding, your Majesty," a feminine voice spoke from behind him. Jareth turned to give her his attention. "Food is being served in the grand hall, and his Majesty Mondrake and his Lady are to be announced, if you are interested in attending."
"I am greatly interested in attending," Jareth replied curtly, his eyes as cold as his tone. He strode past the servant and made his way to the great hall.
Once there, Jareth wasn't surprised to be seated near the head of the table where the current High King may keep an eye on him and his 'table manners'. This was to be the banquet of all banquets, as far as Jareth was concerned. He so hoped the bride vanished before repeating her vows, for that would not only be greatly entertaining, but, then Garret would be refused the title as the new High King.
The commanding High King rose to his feet and stepped to the center of the room. The trumpets blared to announce the arrival of the groom king as he strode haughtily into the room with his entourage surrounding him, and stopped before his High Majesty. Within a moment, the trumpets blared once more to announce the bride queen, who was preceded by maids in waiting.
The atmosphere changed slightly as the line of beautiful women slowly stepped down the aisle. All five were dark haired with floral magically tucked into the intricate style of their tresses. Their silver and white gowns were modest, covering them from their necks down to their ankles, yet there were gaps in the material above their breasts, two more at their ribs, and several smaller ones along their thighs and legs, as well as baring one shoulder completely.
Jareth had never seen such attire in the Underground before and wondered at the influence. As far as he knew he had been one of the very few that had traveled Aboveground, and he hadn't done that since… well, a long time. Yet the gowns reminded him of exactly how the mortals had dressed as of his last visit. He took closer notice to the women walking before the bride queen, and felt his heart stop cold when his eyes fell upon the third maiden in line. "It can't be," he whispered, realizing that his heart hadn't stopped at all but was actually drumming painfully in his chest.
He watched her with such intensity that all else faded from his sight, his ears, his mind. How is this possible? How did she manage to earn her way back to the Underground? How the hell was she here and he hadn't noticed her before now? He was overcome with emotions that he constantly strove to keep at bay. It took all his control to not grab her from the procession and demand answers as she calmly walked by him as though he weren't there. His breathing became labored, his throat cut off a healthy supply of air.
"Calm yourself, Goblin King," the High King's voice invaded his mind suggestively. "You are shaking the very rafters."
With a start, Jareth realized that the rafters were indeed rumbling over head, the crystal chandlers quivered and chimed by the effect. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 'Hand fasting be damned,' he thought to himself, stepping from the sideline to exit the room, never noticing the single tear that fell from a sea green eye.
"That was quite the emotional display, Goblin King," the High King addressed after Jareth inclined his head respectfully before him. "Completely unexpected by most, but then, most are not aware of who the girl is, and what she means to you."
"She means nothing to me, your Majesty," Jareth replied curtly.
"Yes, I noticed how indifferent you were this afternoon at the hand fasting," he remarked coolly. "Pity you took your leave so soon. The bride queen left shortly after you," he stated with a touch of amusement. "Though, she hadn't taken the door as you had."
"Why exactly have you summoned me?" Jareth asked, wanting to be done with this gibberish and return to the Labyrinth as soon as the King would allow him his leave.
"You never were one for patience," the High King remarked, undeterred by Jareth's curtness. "But I'll humor you this once." He leaned back in his throne more comfortably before continuing. "I deny your request to leave," he stated authoritively, meeting Jareth's suddenly cold glare with detachment. "You have managed to make me see what none of my advisors were able to imprint in my mind. And that, Goblin King, is the realization that despite my being miserable without my queen by my side, I would be even more so without my kingdoms to reign. I have annulled my decision to resign."
"How was I able to convey such a revelation?" Jareth questioned in a hardened tone.
The High King took an un-naturally deep breath. "You have become the dark forces in the Underground, Jareth. All because of a girl who denied you her heart." He raised his hand for Jareth to remain silent when the lesser king opened his mouth to speak. "I am fully aware of how insignificant the girl is to you. I am also aware of what had transpired the night she won your challenge. And, I am greatly aware of what that girl has gone through to make her way back to the Underground."
"You speak of things I care nothing about, your Majesty, would you kindly get to your point?"
The High King shifted his gaze towards his guards at the door and inclined his head ever so slightly. The guards stepped to the side and opened the heavy doors wide to allow someone entrance into the throne room. Jareth turned his head to see who his king had summoned, but found himself ill prepared to see Sarah walk into the room, accompanied by two other maidens.
"Apparently," the High King voiced as he rose to his feet. "You told her to dream of someone else." The High King chuckled with obvious amusement. "I'll spare you who she had chosen as her second choice." He stepped down to the floor, extending his hand to the mortal as she extended hers to him, and curtsied low with a bowed head. The king kissed the back of Sarah's hand, then led her to stand next to Jareth.
"Behave yourself or I will take drastic measures," he warned Jareth pointedly before returning to his throne. "After her return to the Underground, the girl requested an audience with myself and my counsel." He once again met Jareth's steely gaze. "I found her story intriguing, and granted her passage to remain in our realm for as long as she lives."
"That much is obvious," Jareth ground out between clenched teeth. His eyes were dark pools of cold indifference, his heart void of any emotion toward the girl whatsoever. She stood next to him calm and collect, not so much as glancing at him once, and he was supposed to… what? Proclaim undying love? Hardly. "I'm unclear as to what you expect of me," Jareth voiced, keeping his tone as detached as possible.
"To keep her, of course," the King stated airily. "She belongs with you after all."
"No!" Jareth denied forcibly. "I have no claim over her, she has obviously lied to you."
The High King leaned forward in his throne, holding Jareth's gaze with authority and power. "Your magic entwines within her, you know this!" the High King stated forcibly. "She belongs to you, Goblin King, whether you acknowledge her or not!" He leaned back once more, relaxing his posture and softening his tone as he continued.
"The girl had an accident soon after my granting her passage," he began to explain. "She was assisting a mage with some potions when he spoke the wrong incantation. All the vials in the room had shattered, potions mixed together causing further mishap. The mage was able to protect himself with magic, but the girl hasn't spoken one word nor showed any emotion whatsoever since." He paused before continuing. "Until today when a single tear fell from her eye at seeing you take your dramatic departure."
"I'm expected to lay claim to her because she shed a tear?" Jareth seethed incredulously, glancing at Sarah with mild disgust. "She's not even capable of arguing with me, why would I possibly agree to such a thing? Magic or none, I refuse…"
"You sorely forget yourself, Goblin King, and to whom you are addressing!" the King interrupted bitterly. "I did not offer you a choice in this matter. She rightfully belongs with you as the only champion you've ever held, and you will claim her accordingly!"
"Why now?" Jareth pushed, walking the fine line of defiance towards his sovereign. "Why wasn't I summoned directly, upon her return?"
"Sarah," the High King addressed, ignoring Jareth's question. "You are to remain with Jareth, the king of goblins, despite his reluctance. You know how to summon me if you feel you are in danger while in his company." He meet Jareth's outraged gaze with level eyes. "You would be wise to simply do my bidding and accept her, Goblin King."
"Of all the outrageous, ludicrous things to have bestowed upon me," Jareth ranted as he stormed from the throne room, Sarah following on his heels with quick steps. "A shell of the very thing I didn't want to begin with." He stopped suddenly, spinning on his heels to face her directly for the first time. "I expect for you to at least heed my command!" he shouted at her, pointing at her angrily before continuing toward the gardens.
She followed behind him once more, her head held high, her shoulders squared, and a tear slowly slipping down her face. She followed him to the fountains, standing off to one side as he angrily paced, ranting the whole while.
"Are you even listening to me?" he demanded, rounding on her pointedly to glare into her face. She hadn't even flinched. He stood back from her, looking her over intently for the first time that day. Her outward appearance was that of calm indifference with her head held evenly, her back straight, and hands folded before her. But, her eyes seemed almost vacant, as she simply stared straight in front of her. She blinked in a natural way, bringing his attention to them specifically. Noticing the stain of wetness at the corner of one eye.
"I care not for your tears as the High King has obviously done," he informed her cruelly. "And I care not what you do once we return to my kingdom, get lost in the labyrinth if that's what you choose. I'll not be hampered by anyone, especially you!"
He walked away from her, and she followed him, not allowing any more tears to fall on behalf of the Goblin King.
"Where is the girl I have bestowed upon you, Goblin King?" the High King inquired casually as they were being served their meal. Others at the table had stopped their conversation to pay attention to what was transpiring at the head of the table.
Jareth lifted his gaze from his plate and jutted his chin in the direction where Sarah stood, still as always, by the water jugs at the far wall, exactly where he had told her to stop following him.
"Perhaps I hadn't made myself clear, Jareth," he remarked in a conspirator voice to keep others from hearing his words. "She is literally by your command. She will not eat unless you provide her with food and tell her to eat. She will not sleep unless you direct her to her bed and bid her a good night. And the infrequent times that she simply disappears without your notice, she has gone to take care of her necessities. But, I'm certain you won't notice those times, she's become very adept at returning before her absence is noticed."
"Have you purposely cursed her just to torment me?" Jareth asked, his voice laced with doubt.
The High King studied Jareth for a moment before answering. "Don't let her impassiveness fool you, Jareth. She still has her own mind and has been known to fight valiantly in battle when the lord and lady she was serving were attacked. By your very own goblins, as a matter of fact." He chuckled slightly, spearing some food from his plate before becoming somber. "The girl is living in hell, Goblin King, you needn't make her existence any worse. She is aware and understands everything around her, we simply have no idea what combination of potions had caused her outward catatonic state."
Jareth returned his attention to his meal as the High King was distracted by another conversation at the table. He discreetly raised his eyes to where she stood, perfectly still, like a sentential. His heart skipped a single beat when her eyes seemed to focus on his just before he looked away.
The meal was finished and dessert was being served before Jareth chanced a glance at her again. He watched as another servant approached Sarah with a plate of food, trying to persuade her to take it. With his keen vision he saw her shift her gaze to stare at the other woman for a moment before returning her focus back to him. The servant closed her eyes and bowed her head for a moment in what could only be a silent message sent to the High King.
'Your Majesty,' the servant thought. 'Her stomach rumbles and he has yet to allow her any food.'
The High King had no sooner heard the silent message when he noticed the Goblin King rise from the table. Watching him with covert eyes, he witnessed the lesser king take the offered plate from the servant and hold it out before Sarah.
"I expect you to accept food when it is offered to you, and feed yourself when you become hungry from this moment on," he stated firmly, walking back to his place once she accepted the plate from his hands.
He looked back at her from his place at the table, and sighed in exasperation at her simply standing there holding the plate with both hands. Rising to his feet, he paid no mind to anyone else in the hall. "Well?" he exclaimed boisterously. "Eat, Sarah!" he bellowed with exasperation.
The entire hall grew quiet, mostly because no one had any idea what the feared king was shouting about, and became uneasy in his presence. But, there were a few who were more than aware of what he was shouting about. The fact that Sarah had visibly jerked at him shouting at her, then began eating, brought more than one smile to pleased lips.
"I'm not convinced you ate enough this evening," Jareth was telling Sarah as he accepted another glass of port from a servant. "Bring her more food," he commanded the servant. He leisurely stepped across the patio to the marble railing, and gracefully seated himself atop of it, stretching out his legs before him while leaning his back against the end pillar.
"I no longer answer the summons of wishers, did you know?" he asked airily, tilting his head in her direction. "After you left I no longer had the heart to deal with small children, nor their pathetic guardians." He drank liberally from his glass, swallowing slowly. "I amuse myself by causing conflicts, invading borders, and such things. Just enough to stir things up without actually causing a war." He fixed her with steely eyes. "But, you know about that, don't you? The great champion of the Goblin King," he projected boisterously, dramatically raising his glass high in the air. "Defending the helpless against the scavenging goblins themselves!" he laughed loudly without humor.
The servant returned with a tray of food and cautiously approached the king. As she drew closer, Sarah reached out her hand for the girl to hand her the food. She did so gratefully, smiling at Sarah before giving her a quick curtsy and making a quick retreat.
"I will find out who you summoned, you realize," he told her, noticing how the servant had bowed to Sarah. "You've outdone yourself," he stated, sliding lithely off the railing. "You've gotten yourself accepted by the High King and his elite." He stepped up close to her, circling around to her back. "Very impressive for someone so ordinary as Sarah Williams," he taunted, smirking with his own humor. "A mere girl, a mortal, nothing special at all, really."
The tray of food slipped from Sarah's hand with a resounding crash as the china hit the stone, another tear fell from her transfixed eye.
"Oh dear," Jareth patronized, circling around to face her directly. "Have I said something to upset you?" Then he smiled so cold and cruelly that he actually noticed fear flash within her eyes before they glazed over once more. "Well, that is comforting," he quipped. "After all this time I can still frighten you so easily." He stepped closer to peer into her eyes intently. "Return to your chambers, crawl into your bed, and go to sleep. I will send for you in the morning." With that said, he briskly strode away from her.
Sarah closed her eyes after Jareth had left her alone in the semi dark. She didn't have her own chambers. She had no bed, no clothes, nothing to call her own personally. She had been in the service of the High Castle, following the command of the High King. She had been assigned as a maid in waiting to whomever needed assistance while staying in the castle, never having anything to claim as her own, only necessities lent to her for daily use by those she served.
She suddenly had the feeling that the High King's command to remain with the Goblin King had sealed her fate for the worse. Jareth didn't want her, he didn't understand the curse that had happened upon her, and he didn't care for her well being one way or another.
She wasn't being defiant or stubborn, she simply could not do anything without being specifically commanded to do so by the person the High King assigned her to assist. Her capacity to move at all was the result of the powerful magic of the High King himself. No one understood why she couldn't speak, not even when commanded to do so, and all the magic in the Underground hadn't changed that. Jareth would destroy her before catering to her in any way.
She let hot tears pour freely down her face, not even having the luxury to cry along with them. But, she felt the constricting spasms in her heart. The tightening of her throat, while outwardly she appeared as calm and collect as a statue. Her mind slowly slipped into a dark void. It wasn't the same as actually falling asleep, but it was a close substitute.
Jareth entered the chambers provided for him and sprawled out on the massive bed on his stomach. He closed his eyes expecting sleep to overtake him within minutes, however, sleep wouldn't come. All he could think about were sea green eyes that showed only flashes of the spirited girl behind them. "She's nothing special," he reminded himself for at least the millionth time. "She can't even feed herself without being commanded to do so!"
He took an exaggerated breath, letting it out loudly. The High King had commanded him to cease his invasions toward the other kingdoms, and he was expected to meet with the kings of those kingdoms to reach some sort of peace agreement in the morning. "So much for constructive destruction," he sighed tiredly. "I suppose I'm expected to cater to the girl as an appeasement." He rolled onto his back, letting his arms spread out wide, and stared unseeingly at the high arched ceiling. "At least she had taken the offered food, despite not eating any of it. I suppose that's a start."
He mulled the scene from the patio around in his head, not allowing himself to see how cruel he had been, when a sudden thought occurred to him. "What chambers would she have? Surely she wouldn't have one assigned to her." He rolled his eyes closed and lifted a weary hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Of course she wouldn't, she would have been given a room by the lord and lady she was serving."
Reluctantly, he rolled from the bed and headed towards the door. Since the High King had restricted his use of magic, Jareth found himself traveling the darkened hallways and corridors of the High Castle to retrieve the girl. He was both relieved and regretful at finding her exactly where he had left her, standing in the shadows facing the railing, with the shattered plate scattered around her feet, the food having been taken by brownies, or some such creature.
"Sarah," he called to her in a tired voice. She didn't respond in any way. He walked across the flag stones to find her standing with her eyes closed, her arms hanging by her sides. Just as he was about to place a hand on her arm a tear trickled from the corner of her right eye. Taking a half step back, he raised his hand before his eyes, reprimanding himself for not thinking of this before, and created a crystal. Using the magic that was unique to the Goblin King, he touched upon her dream, and placed it in the clear orb.
His heart constricted painfully as the image of her lying on the ground in a human ball came to his eyes. Her body shook violently with wreaking sobs. He shifted his gaze to her impassive face, watching as another tear escaped from her inner turmoil. He dissipated the crystal with a touch of self loathing.
"Sarah, awaken," he called to her in a much kinder tone, but received no response. He moved to her side and placed her arm around his shoulders. He was surprised at how pliant her body was considering she slept standing up. He bent slightly and placed an arm at the back of her knees, his other arm at her back.
After having her in his arms, he gazed upon her face, her head thrown back in her strange unconscious state. He tore his gaze away with guilt at how he had treated her, and made his way back to his assigned chambers.