DISCLAIMER: I do not own any Labyrinth character, setting, scene, or idea, which are all (c) Henson, Lucas, Froud, etc. OCs are my own.
A/N: This story is in response to saniika's picture un:reasonable craving on deviant art. Check it out! And please stay tuned at the end of the story for a brief announcement.
When Sarah returned from her Adventure in the Labyrinth, and realized that she loved her brother, hadn't given her stepmother a fair chance, and hadn't accepted that her father didn't know how to reach out to her, and had learned all of those other important lessons, she also forgot one thing:
The importance of seemingly unimportant things.
Yes, that's possibly quite a contradictory statement, and since she had encountered a few contradictory situations while Underground, she might have been expected to understand them. However, her youth and general inexperience interfered.
As a result, it took a while for the situation to dawn. She'd sometimes have flashes of memory, at seemingly incongruous moments, such as when re-reading Tolkien, that hinted that there was something she had forgotten. She couldn't figure out what in the world a wizard with an overly-large nose had to do with her own life.
In her Senior Year of High School, when the graduation memorabilia people were hawking their wares, and she stopped to consider her options, she finally got a clue.
"Have you ordered your announcements? Name cards? There's the option of personalized return address labels. How about the graduation photo packages? And the diploma frame? And a ring?"
She stopped for a moment, "What did you say?"
"A ring! A way to show your high school experience in a single glance. A way to ensure that the ties you've formed here are never fully lost or forgotten. Plus, some couples exchange their high school rings. It's a bit outdated, but still sweet."
A ring. To make sure that something is never fully lost or forgotten.
"I had a ring once. And I… oh, my. I left it… Hmmm."
"You already had a class ring?" The salesperson at the table had gone from dutifully selling, to excited at the response, to confused.
"Oh, no. I just suddenly remembered a ring I used to have. Ummm… do you have a pamphlet I can take home? Maybe I can encourage my parents about a graduation present." Sarah's extrication from the table was expertly done, as she continued to lunch.
She was thankful that her lunch period today didn't coincide with that of her closest friends, as she wouldn't have been able to give them enough attention to alleviate any worry.
Meanwhile, back in the Underground, the Goblin King had retrieved the ring that Sarah had left with the Wise Man, as part of the regular course of cleaning up after her sojourn. As he repaired, improved, strengthened, and made everything more impenetrable, he had to remove all physical traces of the brunette. The ring was the last thing. (The bracelet given to Hoggle was part of the challenge itself, and so was not considered a trace of the girl.)
The Wise Man was loath to part with the item, as it was given as tradition demanded. However, he would not deny his King. In exchange, the King did arrange to have the Bird Hat cleaned, much to the Hat's chagrin.
While the purging, for lack of a better word, of the Labyrinth of Sarah's presence, her lipstick marks, stray hair, and the shards of glass from a shattered ballroom, had gone easily, the fact of this ring concerned the Goblin King.
This was not an accidental trace. Of course, neither were the arrows drawn in lipstick. While the arrows were intended to help her avoid getting turned around, the ring was freely given, out of gratitude and tradition, in response to help provided by somebody else.
And so, Sarah had deliberately, yet unwittingly, left a part of herself behind.
Back in his private chambers, Jareth studied this ring, uncertain of its significance. If it had been very valuable to the girl, she would not have given it. If it had had no value, she wouldn't have bothered to wear it.
He took to studying it at fairly regular intervals over the course of the next many many months. It happened that he was contemplating the ring at the same moment that Sarah sat alone at lunch that day.
He suddenly knew that he and this girl who still held his heart were sharing a thought. For the first time since before their dream-dance, he observed her in a crystal. In order to spare himself unnecessary pain, Jareth had denied himself the opportunity to watch his green-eyed lorelei, contenting himself that the protective measures he enacted upon her departure would keep her safe, along with her family. They wouldn't have prevented him from hearing her, if she had ever called on him for any reason, but she never did. And they didn't interfere with her regular calls to her friends.
But now he watched her, as he held her ring, and she stared into… well… nothing.
"What are you thinking, precious thing?" He whispered this so softly, holding the crystal so close to his face that condensation ought to have formed, but didn't.
Sarah started, as though she had heard him. He smiled a little, noting that she didn't look disgusted, or dismayed, or disappointed, just disconcerted.
She shook her head, and gathered up the remains of her lunch in just enough time to arrive on time to her class. Jareth Dismissed the crystal and remained lost in thought until his steward arrived to announce that it was time for the Committee Meeting to Name the New Goblin Eating Utensil Festival. He groaned, knowing that his presence was the only way to ensure that the Festival and the New Utensil itself wouldn't be named after himself. There were drawbacks to being respected and sometimes loved by your subjects.
That night, Sarah did briefly discuss the idea of a class ring with her family. Her dad said that the choice was hers, and offered arguments on either side, as suited a skillful lawyer, examining a case for discrepancies. Karen tried to gauge what Sarah really thought, and couldn't tell, and so asked her whether or not she was interested.
"I'm not sure. There was just something about them that caught my eye. Maybe I was bored after study hall," Sarah tried to brush it off with a laugh, and was only mildly successful. She was able to excuse herself for studying after another few minutes. Upon reaching her room, she locked her door, and called Hoggle.
After greetings and regular well-being questions, Sarah finally asked, "Hoggle, do you remember my ring? The one I gave to the Wise Man, and you weren't happy about it?"
"Of course I's remember it! Talk about a waste! He never valueds jewelry, and was glad to exchange it for…" Hoggle trailed off, unsure how to relate the next part. Neither he nor any of Sarah's friends had been able to figure out how the girl felt about their King, while the entire population of the Kingdom somehow knew that Jareth loved her more now than ever.
"Exchanged it? To whom? For what?" Sarah was amused, thinking that it was used in an average bartering situation.
Hoggle sighed, knowing that he'd have to explain. "Now, let me tell this whole thing first, Sarah, and then I'll tries to answer your questions. Cuz I knows you'll probably have some. I can'ts promise to answer all of them, so don't make me." At the girl's nod and smile of reassurance, the dwarf explained about the cleansing, of the Kingdom and the hat, and how the King had claimed the ring, and now kept it. Beyond that the dwarf wouldn't say further.
After her amusement at the thought of the Hat's uncomfortable expression at being cleaned, and her initial concern about her supposed nemesis holding onto something of hers, Sarah knew that there was another question she wanted answered. She just didn't know that Hoggle would answer it, even if he knew.
Sarah hadn't learned maturity for nothing, neither had she held onto her fierce determination to no purpose. She thanked her friend, and excused herself to study, the same reason she gave her family.
This was not a lie either time. She had to study herself.
Thankful that this was a Friday night, she stayed up, knowing that her parents wouldn't give her grief over it, as long as she didn't disturb the four-year-old Toby.
She skimmed her journals and diaries, and the fragments of letters that she had begun to (her) the Goblin King. Around 1 am, she reached some form of a decision: she would call him. Not knowing how differently time passed Underground, she thought she'd best wait until after dawn for herself, just in case.
She had no sooner reached that decision than she turned out her light in preparation of changing into pajamas and going to sleep. Proving Robert Burns correct, when she opened her curtains slightly to glimpse the sky, she saw an owl. No, The Owl.
She swallowed a lump in her throat, tears, and her pride, and invited Jareth, the Goblin King, inside.
Bonus points to those who can identify what I mean about "Proving Robert Burns correct". :)
I pity those serving on the Committee to Name the New Goblin Eating Utensil Festival, and have no wish to relate the happenings of that meeting. The chicken contingent nearly carried the vote, but His Majesty and the Goblins over-ruled them. I'm open to guesses as to the name chosen.