Sarah Williams had always known that her paternal grandparents were…well, odd. And while she wasn't related to them by blood (her father was adopted) she'd always felt a strange kinship to them. They were a funny little couple with funny little accents and funny little quirks, but Sarah found them charming.
Her grandfather had been a nurse, but her grandmother had a laundry list of unusual jobs she had held during her life: a waitress, a Kiss-o-gram, a travelling companion, and even a fashion model. However, when she and Sarah's grandfather moved to the United States from England, she began to write stories.
Sarah loved her grandmother's adventure stories. Her brave young heroine went on wild quests fighting pirates and outerspace dinosaurs and strange one-eyed cyborgs and living statues. The stories were full of danger and mystery and just a touch of humor and Sarah loved how one minute she would be laughing and the next anxiously biting her fingernails and wondering how the heroine would ever triumph. But she always did.
Sarah had spent several long weekends and a few Christmases with her grandparents in New York City, but she began spending more time with them once she moved to the city to go to school. Most afternoons when classes were over, Sarah headed to their house for tea and lemon cookies and a good story from her grandmother. She had often pondered whether or not she should tell her grandmother her story, the story of the labyrinth. She had always tried to write it off as a dream borne of teenage frustration and angst and too much reading. Yet, it had never faded as a dream should. It was always fresh and vivid in her mind, full of life and color and emotion.
She wondered about her friends now, the dwarf and the fox/dog/knight and the rock-caller. She wondered if they were all right. She thought about the goblins and the fieries and the Wise Man and his talking hat. Mostly though, she thought about the Goblin King. Why wouldn't she? Sarah remembered how he had stood in her parents' bedroom, regal and smirking and darkly beautiful. He had terrified her and intrigued her and flustered her and aroused her all at once. She had barely been mature enough to realize what arousal was and, if she were honest with herself, he hadn't truly made her feel anything sexual toward him. However, he had awakened something in her that from that day forward had never been put back to bed.
Perhaps that's why she was so distracted that afternoon as she sat in her grandmother's kitchen, her tea cold and her lemon cookies untouched. She was thinking about him and wondering exactly what it was that he had been offering before she'd said the words that had undone him.
"Hey Kiddo," said her grandmother, snapping her fingers. "What's up? You went all spacey on me."
Sarah looked up at her grandmother and smiled. She loved the way she talked, and not just her lilting Scottish accent. Her phrasing was so strangely youthful and urban.
"Sorry, Gran," said Sarah. "I'm just a bit distracted today."
"Ya think?" her grandmother answered with a laugh. She sat down across from Sarah and reached over to pat her on the hand. "So, what's on your mind? School? Parents? Boys?" She raised an eyebrow on the last one and Sarah had to smile.
"I don't know, Gran," she answered. "I suppose you could say it's about a boy. Or man. Or whatever the hell he is…" Sarah stopped herself and looked back at her grandmother, half expecting to see a look of confusion and dismay. Instead, her grandmother gave her a wink and a knowing smile.
"I think," she said as she poured herself another cup of tea, "you should tell me the whole story."
Sarah nodded and after swallowing the huge lump in her throat she began telling her grandmother the story of her adventure in the labyrinth. She left nothing out, even the bit about the peach and the dance and the Goblin King's somewhat cryptic final offer. When she was finished, she sat back in her seat and waited as her grandmother digested what she had been told.
"Well," the old woman said at last. "It sounds as if you had yourself quite the adventure."
"You mean you believe me?" Sarah asked incredulously.
"Of course," replied her grandmother. "Why wouldn't I?"
"Um, because it's crazy?" offered Sarah.
Her grandmother laughed. "You know nothing about crazy, Kid. Crazy is being vomited up by a Star Whale or being chased by alien vampires in Venice or forgetting your fiancé then remembering him and finding out he's made of plastic and wants to kill you and does but then waits two thousand years in order to save you and you meet yourself when you were a kid in order to keep the Universe from unraveling." She paused and took a breath. "That is crazy."
Sarah blinked at her grandmother. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Sarah, you're not the only one who's had wild adventures," her grandmother told her. "Wild adventures seem to be our family's lot. Well, expect for your father and that's just because his only concern in life has always been making money."
Sarah nodded. It was sad but true. Her dad had a wonderful work ethic, but absolutely no imagination.
"So…" her grandmother began, eyeing her suspiciously over the rim of her tea cup. "What do you think this Goblin King was offering you at the end?"
Sarah shrugged. "I don't know. I've never been able to figure it out for sure. He seemed so desperate then, even fragile. I felt like it had gone beyond him keeping Toby. Like maybe he wanted…"
"It's so stupid," huffed Sarah. "Why would he want...I mean, I was fifteen and immature. He couldn't have been asking…No, I think I've got it all wrong."
Sarah's grandmother gazed at her. "I don't think you've got it all wrong," she said seriously. "I think he was asking for exactly what you think he was and offering exactly what you think he was."
Sarah's head snapped up and her mouth fell open at her grandmother's words. "But why? Why would he want me?" she asked.
Her grandmother gave her a knowing smile. "Sarah dear, you proved yourself worthy. Not only did you fight for your brother, but you won! From what I've read of the Fey, that takes some doing and they are always impressed by mortals who can challenge them and best them at their own games."
"So what then? He thought I was worthy of his interest because I beat his game?"
"Didn't you say he danced with you before you made it to the castle?" the old woman asked.
"Yes, but he was just trying to distract me."
"Really? He couldn't think of another way to distract you than to put you in an adult dress in the middle of a lurid masked ball and dance with you?"
Sarah was confused. What was her grandmother getting at?
"Okay, so maybe he just wanted to get into my pants. I don't know, Gran!" she cried.
"Well then, maybe you should find out," her grandmother said, taking a big bite out of a lemon cookie.
Sarah shook her head. "No way, Gran. I am not going to call on him again. He's dangerous and deceitful and tricky. I don't trust him."
"Are you sure you don't trust him, or is it that you don't trust yourself around him?" her grandmother questioned.
"Both," Sarah answered honestly. "He's cunning and beautiful like that stupid snake in the Garden of Eden. He says pretty things and he can look into your eyes and know what you dream and desire. He promises it all to you and it sounds too good to be true and it most likely is, Gran!"
Sarah shuddered thinking about how for one terrifying millisecond, she had been tempted by him and his offer. A brief thought of "what if?" had floated through her mind as she stood in that crumbling tower with the clock ticking somewhere in the background. She had burst that bubble before it had fully formed, but her heart still felt a pang of guilt that it had even been a thought at all. He had been so beautiful and had looked at her so pitifully. Of course, it could have been just another brilliant performance by him, an accomplished trickster, but he had seemed genuine.
"Sarah, are you in love with him?" her grandmother asked softly.
"I…I…No, I don't know…I wish I knew what he wanted. Then maybe I would know how I really feel."
"You can't base your feelings on how he feels about you, Sarah. Whether or not he offered his heart to you shouldn't have any say in whether or not you love him."
"I know. I'm just really unsure what it is I feel at all. I mean, how can I love a man like that? He isn't even a man. He's not human. He isn't bound by normal rules and morality. He isn't… He isn't safe."
Sarah's grandmother smiled knowingly. "Sarah, I know someone who knows exactly how you feel. I think I'll give her a call and have her come talk to you. I think she can help you get a better understanding."
Sarah shook her head. "No," she said. "I'd better go. I have studying to do."
"It will only take a minute," her grandmother said. She pulled out a small pad of paper and scribbled down a hasty note. "Sarah's here" the note read.
Sarah was about to ask about the strange note when there was a knock at the door. Her grandmother got up to answer it and came back into the kitchen with a beautiful woman with a wild mane of curly hair. The woman smiled warmly at Sarah.
"Hello again," she said, reaching out to pull Sarah to her chest. "I've missed you so much, Sarah dear."
"Who are you?" Sarah asked, backing away warily.
The woman laughed. "I forget sometimes that I often meet people in the wrong order. You would think I would get used to that, but I never do."
Sarah's grandmother laughed and put an arm around the woman's shoulder.
"Sarah," she said, "I'd like you to meet your aunt, Melody."
"River, if you don't mind, Mummy," the woman requested with a sweet smile.
"Right. He calls you that, doesn't he?"
Okay then," grunted her grandmother. "Sarah, this is your aunt, River. River Song."
I am really surprised that no one (it seems) has done this yet! I have scoured the internet, but I have not been able to find a story that picks up on the Williams connection, so here is mine. I'm doing my best to leave the guys out of this one because I really want to focus on the ladies. It has been a challenge, but sorry girls, no Doctor and no Goblin King in this one. Send all hate mail to Madame Kovarian c/o The Silence.