Rites of Passage by Betty Bokor
Jareth/Sarah. When Sarah is called to save the King, her life takes a whole new course, again.
Spoilers: The movie, the book, and some of the Return series.
Disclaimer: The Labyrinth original characters belong to The Jim Henson Company and Lucasfilms Ltd. This was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt at copyright infringement has been made.
A.N. Finally, this year is almost over. It has personally been a horrible year. My husband suffered a heart attack -I still cannot believe it happened at his age-, my son broke his arm, and both had to go through surgeries. So many other things went wrong, but, since we are all alright now, I will count my blessings and move on. I hope 2014 is a better year, for everybody.
I have tried to advance the plot as much as I could today because I don't know when I will have a chance to post again. I hope you enjoy and thank you for still reading my little story.
Rites of Passage
Sarah went back to work that Monday. There was no point in staying home and dwelling on Jareth's absence. Keeping busy at the hospital, she had less chance to worry about him, though she nonetheless did. Her thoughts often went back to wondering about where he was and if he was alright. She also obsessed about her possible pregnancy, looking for signs even when she positively knew there would not be any symptoms at that early stage.
By Friday, she was awfully tired. There had been much to do after a collision between two buses on Tuesday had sent a large amount of people to the emergency room. Then, on Wednesday, a bad batch of oysters at a local restaurant had caused food poisoning to half the staff of a company celebrating an advantageous contract. Sarah was just waiting for the day to end to go home and sleep.
Half an hour before her shift ended, she started feeling weak. She realized she had not eaten anything since breakfast at five in the morning and it was now almost five in the afternoon. She decided to get something from a vending machine, but, as soon as she stood up, she felt lightheaded and had to hold on to the back of her chair to avoid passing out. The dizziness worsened until a few seconds later everything turned dark and she fainted. When she came to, she was lying on one of the beds at the hospital ward and one of her colleagues was tending to her.
"How are you feeling?" was her first question.
Sarah assessed herself. "Fine, just very tired."
"Your blood pressure was quite low-"
"Yeah, I know…" Sarah interrupted. "I felt it as soon as I got up. I've been sitting at that desk for hours finishing paperwork from yesterday and I don't even remember when was the last time I drank a glass of water… so, suddenly standing up was not a good idea…" she shrugged.
The other doctor nodded in agreement. "You probably are a little dehydrated; that could happen, but check your pressure during the weekend and see what happens. We may have to do some testing on Monday if it happens again."
"Oh, no, I don't think that would be necessary," Sarah said with a smile as she sat in bed. She did not want anyone to test anything. "I bet you I'll be completely fine after I have a good dinner and a good night's sleep."
"Okay, but take it easy," was her colleague's advice.
Sarah agreed and soon she was on her way home. She knew that what she had told her friend was true, but she could not help thinking that, perhaps, there was another reason why her blood pressure was low and she had fainted. A very good reason.
Once at her apartment she prepared a warm meal and watched the news as she ate. After cleaning the dishes, she took a warm shower and went to bed. It did not take her long to fall asleep.
When she woke up, the first thing she noticed was the purple sky above her, right beyond the tops of the trees. It looked like the sun was going down in the distance and everything was getting darker; only some remnants of orange sky stood out far away. There was a light breeze playing with the leaves and the air felt warm and smelled of autumn.
Perhaps she should have panicked, but she was too comfortable to be afraid. She was lying on top of soft grass and her head was on someone's lap.
She turned her head and saw it was the King's. He was quietly sitting against a tree, looking away, lost in thought as he delicately played with her hair.
She sighed softly. If this was a dream, she did not want to wake up. If it was real –though she had no clue about how she could have gotten there– she was going to enjoy it. It did not matter what, how, or why. It just felt wonderful.
The King's hand stilled on her hair and she realized he was looking at her. She looked up and smiled and he smiled back. Then he leant back against the tree and resumed gently playing with her hair.
They remained quiet as the light of the day slowly faded away and, after everything was dark, she still felt his tender touch for a long time.
She would never know how long that visit –dream?– lasted, but undoubtedly she had fallen back asleep while being with him.
When she woke up –again– it was Sunday morning.
Ruy's voice calling to dinner woke Jareth up from a deep sleep. His last dream was still vivid in his mind. Sarah.
Sarah falling asleep with her head on his lap as the light of the day died down.
It had seemed so real… Had it been? Could they have shared a dream? Again?
If she had been there, with him, in his dream, it probably meant that they had both been thinking of each other at the same time, calling the other through time and space in a way only true soul mates could.
In any case, he was not going to analyze it too deeply. He was worn out –they had finally reached the borders of the Seelie Kingdom and in the morning he would start his dangerous journey through the Unseelie world– and he needed the comfort the dream had given him. Perhaps she needed it, too; he could not help but worry about her even if he knew she was a strong woman who did not need him to go on.
In spite of that, he had one thought that gave him solace when he missed her. She had chosen him. He still could not understand why, but the fact remained that she had chosen him as her first partner and, though he had tried not to read anything into it, there had been a deep connection between them that weekend, something that went further than just the merely physical one. He had felt it.
And that had to be enough.
Now, he had a very different mission ahead of him, so, with a sigh, he left his place under the tree and joined his men around the fire.
The first thing Sarah did after getting up the next Monday was rushing to the bathroom with one of the boxes in her hand. She had bought a variety of home pregnancy tests the week before and, if her calculations were correct, at least one was supposed to work at that time. She chose the one with the promise of the earliest response and tried it.
After a few minutes of wait –just to be sure– she looked at the stick.
One look at the single pink line and her heart dropped.
She knew it was early, but, still, it was very disappointing.
She threw the stick in her waste basket and washed her hands. She was about to leave when something unexplainable compelled her to look at the basket again. She cast a quick glance to the stick as she walked toward the door and the sight stopped her in her tracks. She retrieved the small artifact and looked at it again.
There was a very faint second pink line parallel to the other one.
Her heart almost skipped a beat.
Was it possible?
There had been –rare– cases of false positive… Or it could be just an evaporation line… though it looked pink. Or she could have already miscarried and still have a positive result…
She would have to wait until the blood analysis gave her certainty.
But she was exhilarated.
On Wednesday she drew her own blood. For a while she tried to gather the courage to take it to the lab; she pondered all the possible outcomes until the fear of something amiss being discovered in the sample finally stopped her from doing it. She decided to wait until she could do the test herself.
The hardest part was keeping all her feelings to herself; she desperately wanted to share her –possible– good news with someone, but there was no one she could trust.
On Thursday, many of her friends from the Underground came to visit. It had become a tradition to celebrate her birthday with them the day before the actual date so that family and friends would not interfere with their party. On this occasion, she took the chance to openly ask about the progress of the King's campaign but, unfortunately, all the goblins knew was that there had been no news from him since the moment he had crossed into enemy territory with his three friends.
Not surprisingly, the party ended early. Her mood had changed; she was too worried to celebrate. All the mischief that usually amused her seemed to only aggravate her that day; it was better to send her guests home before hurting their feelings. Before leaving, both Sir Didymus and Hoggle expressed their concern for her; they noticed she looked pale and was more irritable than usual. She tried to persuade them to stop worrying, but failed.
The next day did not go better. She took the day off from work and slept very late. In the evening, she reluctantly joined family and friends downtown to celebrate her twenty-fifth birthday. It did not take long for Terry to ask the question many had in their minds.
"So, where's your boyfriend? Too busy to celebrate with you?" he asked in a patronizing tone.
Without really thinking about it, she blurted out the first idea that came to mind. "I'm spending the weekend at his place by the beach; he's traveling today."
Terry seemed annoyed by the answer and changed the subject of the conversation, but Sarah could not forget the fact that he was not there. At the same time, a bold idea started taking shape in her mind and by the end of the evening she knew what she would do.
As soon as she was back home, she rushed to her bedroom and picked up the crystal sphere. With her eyes tightly closed, she quietly recalled Sir Didymus' lessons and made her wish. When she opened her eyes, she looked around and smiled. She was in his glass house.
She spent the whole weekend there. She walked down the beach, gathered fruits from the forest, read books from his shelves, and chatted with the goblins who came to offer food and water. They seemed to know she would be visiting someday and they were ready to help her. She got them to tell her interesting anecdotes about the King's activities when he visited his retreat and they got her to try different meals typical from the Underground. She also used her phone to take as many pictures as she could until the battery ran out.
By the time her watch showed the weekend was over at home and she needed to go back to work, she had spent more than a week at his place. When she entered the hospital Monday morning, she felt rested and even happy; she should be starting her period by then, but nothing had happened yet…
Jareth walked down the freezing tunnel for a few more hours until he was certain it was morning again and then he stopped to rest. He only traveled at night; he did not want to risk being discovered. He had entered the tunnels under the capital city of the Unseelie only a day before. He was impressed by the job his subjects had done building them. It had taken almost a year to finish the system connecting the edges of the city with a site a hundred meters away from Voss' headquarters; now he would have to finish the rest of the tunnel himself until he reached the soil directly below the main building. He was prepared; all that was easy for him; the hardest part would come later.
He chose a dark nook to sit down, eat, and get ready to sleep. Rest was necessary to stay strong, but it was hard to sleep because he was cold. Ever since the war had started, summers had become shorter and wintry weather had prevailed most of the year. He blamed the terrible sadness that had descended over his world because of the atrocities of the Unseelie.
He used his cloak to keep himself warm and, before falling asleep, he reviewed his goals and the progress made since leaving his three companions behind, just outside the capital city. He thought of his family and their expectations and he wished he would be able to deliver a victory for their cause. And then, as every night before, he thought of Sarah. He imagined her busy working at the hospital; he remembered her walking along his beach; he dreamt of her sleeping by his side.
A week after her impromptu vacation, Sarah entered the hospital's laboratory to start her rotation there and, before anything else, she performed her own pregnancy test. The results left no doubt; she was pregnant.
It took her a while to feel calm enough to carry out her regular duties. She was not shocked by the news; she had tried four more home tests after the first one and they all had been positive. Besides, she had already felt some light symptoms of pregnancy; her breasts were a little sore –and, she would have sworn, a little larger– and she had been unusually hungry at odd hours. She had also been pretty nauseous for a couple of days and… she probably was examining every hour of her day looking for the right sign.
But now she knew. She was pregnant. She would have to start thinking about how to break the news to her family and maybe, even his family. However, not yet. She would enjoy her happiness on her own; keep the secret for as long as possible.
With that in mind, she spent the week celebrating privately. She gave herself a fabulous Valentine's dinner at a restaurant she had been dying to eat at for a long time, she bought some new clothes, including early maternity ones, and she prepared to spend a three day weekend at the glass house. On Thursday evening she was packing a small bag for her trip, when Didymus called her from the mirror. It took her a few more seconds than necessary to answer. The fear of hearing bad news almost paralyzed her.
The knight's face did not calm her nerves. He seemed more solemn and serious than ever. In a few words he explained that Lady Anwen had requested her presence at the castle, as soon as possible. Sarah inquired for how long she was expected to stay there and why, but Didymus was unable to give a definite answer, though he estimated that it would take at least a few days.
She asked him to come back for her in an hour and he agreed. After he left, Sarah called her boss and explained that, due to a family emergency, she would need some extra days. She had always been an exemplary team member and her boss knew she had accommodated many coworkers' requests to take certain shifts to help those who needed time for children and family. As a single, young woman with no children, her schedule had never been a problem.
Without asking for more details, her boss granted her a ten day leave of absence and asked her to be certain to contact him before the end of that term.
That problem taken care of, Sarah called Karen and her mother and told them she had agreed to visit Jareth's mother for a week. Both believed she would be leaving for a short vacation in England and found no objections to the idea.
When Didymus came back to her mirror, Sarah was ready with a suitcase and a couple of bags. Once in the castle, she was taken to the same room where she had been the last time. In a few minutes, Hoggle came for her and took her to see Lady Anwen.
The Queen looked exhausted to Sarah.
"Miss Williams… We're very grateful that you could join us."
"It's okay; I had some leave I hadn't taken and-" she stopped because Lady Anwen seemed anxious. "How can I help you?" she asked, afraid of asking about him.
The Queen hesitated for a second. Sarah could not say with certainty, but she felt the older woman was suddenly feeling uncomfortable with her. She seemed to recover enough to continue.
"You probably know that my son has started the last part of his campaign."
Sarah just nodded.
"With him are his closest friends, including Keene –you must remember him, right?."
"Yes," she admitted while she quietly breathed a sigh of relief. The Queen was talking in present tense. He was alive.
"His father is waiting for them with the rest of the army, close to the borders of our kingdom. Unfortunately, Jareth, Keene and, of course, my husband, are the only three people in this kingdom prepared to take care of the injured or ill humans who are sent here. Jareth and Hagan have the power to heal; Keene has long studied human anatomy and physiology. Without them, we're at risk of losing some of the wished away. We've tried, since their departure, to take care of them, but some aren't improving. That's why I have called you. I've heard that you're a wonderful physician…"
"I've just merely started. I've been in my residency program for only a year or so-"
"We trust you; these days we cannot say that about many, and you're a bright young woman. I believe you can help us."
Sarah could not say no. "I'd be honored."
In a matter of minutes she was with Evangelina and Izar in the royal nursery.
She never got to sleep that night.
He tried taking a deep breath, but he only managed to increase the pain. He had probably passed out because his memory of recent events was not too clear.
He gathered he was lying on a cold stone floor and there was a heavy object on top of him impeding his movements. He managed to free one hand and created a crystal. Bright light emanated from it and he finally saw what had fallen onto him. Voss' body was stretched across his chest. He threw the crystal at it and the body was thrown far from him.
He remembered clearly now. His confrontation with Voss had gone mostly as planned. Mostly. He had caught Voss unaware and they had fiercely fought for what felt like hours; he did not know for sure. Voss was larger and stronger, but Jareth was faster, more agile. Finally, the sidhe had been able to injure him and he had fallen, ready to carry out his plan. While feigning being moribund, he had waited for Voss to approach him to get his sword. As soon as his enemy had been close enough, he had stabbed him through the heart. That was pretty much the end of his recollection of the event.
The problem was that he had lost a lot of blood because his injuries were far worse than he had expected. As a result, he was feeling very weak, but he was not ready to give up just yet.
In any case, what mattered was that Voss was dead and that he had to be ready before morning came.
He slowly got up and looked around. The throne room looked chaotic. There was blood everywhere and the signs of their fight were visible in any direction he looked. That was unacceptable. He had to give the image of an easy victory to the members of the Unseelie Council who would arrive in the morning for their daily meeting with Voss. He could not show how much of a struggle it had taken for him to overpower his enemy.
But first he had to take care of himself. He sat down on the throne and checked his body. He was in bad shape. He could make the blood stains and the dirt vanish, but he could not heal himself. He wished his healing power would work on himself, but it did not, so he did the best he could bandaging his wounds and then he made himself as clean-looking as possible.
He spent the following hour making every trace of the battle disappear from the room and, afterward, he sat to wait for the Council.
Sarah had just finished lunch with her two new friends. Now that all her patients seemed to be stable and on the mend, she was ready to take a long nap. It was raining heavily outside and she hoped the sound of the rain would help her sleep. She walked slowly to her room –she had learned the way soon after arriving– and imagined ways to enjoy her stay for as long as it lasted.
She was about to close the door of her room behind her, when she saw the Queen standing right there.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't hear you coming this way."
"It's alright. I just wanted to have a word with you, if possible."
"Sure, come in."
Sarah walked with the Queen toward the chairs close to the fireplace and waited for Lady Anwen to sit. She did not know what to do next.
"Sit down, Sarah, please," the Queen asked.
Sarah liked that she had agreed to use her name. "Okay."
Lady Anwen waited a few seconds and then looked at her with a serious expression. "You're pregnant," she said.
Sarah was taken by surprise. She was not showing any signs of her pregnancy yet and she had told no one. "Excuse me?" she managed to ask.
"And my son Jareth is the father of your child," the Queen added without hesitation.
Sarah was unable to speak for a short while. She was shocked. Nevertheless, she was not going to lie. "Yes," she admitted. "How did you…?"
"You may know that all fae have a gift. Mine has never had much of a practical use until now, but I have enjoyed it. I can sense your child. I have since the moment you arrived and I have no doubt that he's Jareth's. It's a very subtle feeling, but after thousands of years of practice, I can tell." She paused. "It's very early in the pregnancy, isn't it?"
"So… Jareth stayed aboveground with you after that dinner," the Queen guessed.
"No. He went to the glass house." Lady Anwen seemed somehow relieved. "We both did. It was my fault."
Jareth's mother smiled. "There's no fault to be found in this, child."
Sarah felt better. She did not look angry. "Thanks."
"I take it my son doesn't know."
"No. I haven't seen him since then. I don't know how he's going to take it; I knew it could happen, but I didn't warn him. Actually, I misled him," she felt the urge to confess.
"As I said, I'm not looking for blame. You're both adults and, though you may not be one of us, I believe Jareth had his reasons when he chose you."
"He did not really choose me… More that I imposed on him and he was-"
"You need not worry. If he-… When he gets back, talk to him. I'm certain he will rejoice with the news. I don't know what your plans are, but, together, you can find a way to be both happy." Lady Anwen stood up and smiled again. "I'll keep your secret for as long as you want."
After she left the room, Sarah stayed in her chair by the fire for a long while. She was still shocked, happy, worried, and a little scared at the same time. But, more than anything, she was exhausted. She would need a lot of rest before being ready to get out of that room again.
Jareth knew he was smirking in the dark. He was not strong enough to laugh and a smile was not the right expression. He had won. He had done it. As the Seelie Court's emissary he had brokered the unconditional surrender of the Unseelie factions, but he had also shown the mercy and magnificence of his people by agreeing to sign a non-aggression pact. All future conflicts between the kingdoms would be solved through pacific negotiations or the Unseelie world would suffer the consequences of the wrath of the Seelie as Voss had.
He had spent the last of his strength using his magic to ensure the signed documents were delivered to his father on the other side of the frontier and then he had left without being noticed. He had been able to reach the tunnels that led to the edge of the capital city, but he had not made it far. He was sitting on the stone floor, with his back against the wall, trying to regain his strength. He was awfully cold and tired, so weak that he could not move.
He suddenly realized that he was dying. He had been dying slowly all day long, but now there was no turning back. It was getting harder and harder to breathe. He did not know for how long he would remain conscious, so he decided to focus his thoughts on something that would keep his mind away from the pain and the cold. Of course, it had to be Sarah. He had done lots of things he was proud of during his life –and some that he was not happy to remember– but what happened with Sarah was different. It was a personal experience. She had touched his soul in a very intimate way. He loved her; unquestionably, he loved her. And, though he was not fool enough to believe that she could love him back, one thought would give him comfort until the end. She had chosen him.
A.N. Hopefully, you will let me know what you think; it is very discouraging not to hear from any of you.