A/N: Look! An update! A baby update, but still an update! Why is it so late? Because I am a bad author. Bad author. Bad, bad, bad, bad BAD author. So sorry for the lengthy delay, loves. :-(
Disclaimer: I own nothing, alas.
While he would never admit it to anyone but himself, some small part of him had hoped to catch Sarah en dishabille, but the sight of her looking so terribly bedraggled did his sense of humor a world of good. She had missed a rather large streak of grime down the center of her nose, and wet fingers in cobwebbed hair had only served to leave her looking more than a trifle windblown. Still, it wouldn't do to goad her too sharply, at least, not yet, but he couldn't help the peaches on her breakfast tray.
If nothing else, her wit had sharpened since she'd run his labyrinth. He lounged in the chair across from her, toying idly with a crystal, and watched her eat. Despite her spoken misgivings, she ate the peaches with unalloyed pleasure, savoring the richness of the cream. It pained him to see her so close to happiness, since he knew that it was only a matter of time before that joy was stripped from her. The Underground was not a gentle place, and he was surprised to feel a small stirring of what could only be remorse. She was still innocent, and his kingdom would take that from her. It had been too long since he had felt remorse - such an emotion was a luxury that could be ill-afforded in any ruler, but especially not in the Goblin King.
He had lost himself in his musings, and the conversation that had been so lively had trailed into silence. Sarah was toying with the remnants of her breakfast, unwilling to meet his eyes behind the crystal that danced along his gloved hands. He vanished the crystal and stood abruptly, extending a hand across the table.
"Come, Sarah. It's time you met your subjects, as they truly are."
"The goblins, you mean," she replied, looking up at him. She really was quite adorable, so mussed, but it wouldn't do for them to see their queen so out of sorts. He smirked, twisting his wrist to conjure another crystal.
"Yes, Sarah, the goblins. Goblin King, remember?" She eyed the crystal warily. "It is a spell, Sarah. A simple one."
"And what does it do?"
"Why don't you take it, and find out?" She smiled, then, and he saw in her a reflection of his own cruelty.
"I think I've had enough of your games, Jareth," she said, and rose from the table. "You say that they are my subjects? Then I am Queen, yes?"
He eyed her carefully. There was an undercurrent of fear in her voice, but she hid it well. "Yes," she said simply.
"Then I truly am your equal, in power, am I not?" At that, he grinned, wolfish and just as cruel. He gave her a mocking bow, all of the flourishes and foppery of his court at the height of its decadence.
"If my Lady wishes to appear for the first time in front of her subjects dressed in filthy rags and wearing a crown of cobwebs, my Lady is more than welcome to do so. However, if my Lady wishes to greet her subjects in a manner befitting the station she is so eager to claim, my Lady must first accept the generosity of her King," he drawled, proffering the crystal once more. Sarah's eyes widened, first in shock, then in rage, and she raised one trembling hand to her hair. With a snarl, she snatched the crystal from his hand, jumping slightly when it popped like a soap bubble. In an instant, her dark chestnut hair hung sleek and shining, and her clothing had changed to something not entirely unlike the dress she had worn to play at being a princess in the park. A simple silver circlet rested on her brow. Jareth felt his breath catch, struck by her beauty - this was how she was meant to be, here in his realm.
Not even her childish pout could spoil it.