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Disclaimer: See chapter 1
Notes: The split chapters are linked, as are all the chapters.
Previous Chapters:Ch 1 - Coming Storms; Ch 2 - Nothing Is What It Seems; Ch 3 - Second Chances; Ch 4 - A New Beginning - Part I

For Love Of Sarah

by Phyllis Christie lattelady6

Ch 4 - A New Beginning - Part II


Sarah turned over in the large bed and stretched. For a moment she didn’t know where she was and didn’t care. She felt wonderful. No aches and pains, no odd worries tugging at her heart, but best of all, no pangs of longing or fear. With a sigh she lay very still and waited for her mind to clear and reality to reassert itself. The reality she’d lived with for the last six years: that everything she’d ever wanted had been offered to her and she’d gladly traded it away for the safety of her younger brother, though the price had been much higher than she’d realized at the time. But this morning all she felt was peace and tranquility. ‘Am I still asleep and this is all a dream?’ she wondered as she blinked sleep out of her eyes and forced them open.

“Ohhh,” she gasped as she looked around the large, grandly appointed room. It wasn’t a dream, she really was in the Underground, and Jareth was really alive! She quickly looked at her left arm that had been pock-marked with burns and reached to feel the right side of her neck, where yesterday there had been a nasty blister running from her chin to her collarbone. They were gone! He’d really done as he’d promised and healed her injuries. With a sleepy grin, she realized that he’d also given her a night of uninterrupted sleep.

“Yes!” She jumped from her bed and danced around the large room. “Oh, thank you, thank you,” she clasped her hands in front of her breasts, unsure if she was praying to the God of her youth, who she had felt had deserted her as punishment for killing a Goblin King; to the King himself, now most decidedly not dead, or some other entity that held the universe together.

But as quickly as her dancing had started, her feet slowed and she sighed as she remembered the rest. Her father and Karen had died in the fire. Sarah’s breath caught in her throat. That part was real. The fire was real. At least she’d been able to protect Toby. “Toby!” she gasped the boy’s name and looked quickly around the room for any indication that he’d been there.

There was a truckle bed on the far side of her bed, but it hadn’t been slept in. Her eyes quickly scanned the room. There was a small indentation on the pillow beside hers and the child’s leather vest had been discarded beside it. “Then that part hadn’t been a dream.” she whispered. She squinted her eyes to bring the illusive memory to the surface, but even then it was buried in deep fog. She couldn’t quite make it materialize. It was more a feeling than a picture in her mind of Toby climbing into bed beside her and curling his back against hers. She shook her head and could almost hear the sound of her brother and the Goblin King talking. “No!” She couldn’t believe that had really happened. If she did, then she’d have to accept that Jareth had stood over her and watched her sleep after putting Toby to bed.

The sound of timid knocking on her door brought her out of her reverie.

“Who is it?” Sarah called out and jumped back under the covers, pulling the sheet up to her chin. She blushed when she remembered Jareth sitting inches away from her on the bed the night before. One glace down her front and her worst fears were confirmed, the dark areolas around her nipples were distinct shadows under the soft, almost transparent, material of the white undershift she’d slept in. ‘Well he’d gotten a show last night,’ she sighed to herself. ‘Thank goodness he was a gentleman.’ Her thoughts froze. This new piece of information only added to her confusion. The Goblin King she remembered was no one’s definition of a gentleman!

The timid knock came again and jolted Sarah back to the present. “Who is it?” One thing Sarah was sure of was that it wasn’t Jareth at her door this morning. He may have developed manners over the years, but he didn’t posses a timid bone in his body.

The door slowly opened to reveal a small Goblin, her arms full of clothes. “Lady Sarah,” she blinked at the woman in the bed. “My name is Rinda and Her Highness said I was to see if you were awake and draw your bath. Since you didn’t bring your lady’s maid with you, I can care for your needs until she arrives.”

“Ahhh…she’s not coming. I…ahh…don’t actually have one.” Sarah blinked at the small creature.

“Land sakes, I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Rinda shook her head. All the ladies who came to visit Her Highness had at least one lady’s maid. She could remember a few that had more than one.

“But a bath would be great.” Sarah added quickly. “If it isn’t too much trouble?”

“Yes ma’am,” she looked at Sarah quizzically. “The bathing area is behind that screen.” She pointed to one corner of the room. “Ellamora Kilhaggen sent you these,” Rinda held up a dress cut much like the one Sarah had been wearing, only this one was a soft purple. There was also a clean undershift and a pair of flat-heeled leather shoes.

Later when Sarah stepped out from behind the screen, her hair was wrapped in a towel and she was wearing the clean undershift.

“You need this too, my Lady,” Rinda handed her a small vial. “His Majesty told me that you was too put it all over you. He said it’s for your burns.” She looked the girl over with new interest. The King had said this human had been injured in a fire, but she didn’t see any evidence of it. More importantly he’d given the order himself, it hadn’t come through Ellamora or even the housekeeper. “His Highness told me to warn you that a few drops go a long way.”

“You got this from the Goblin King?” Her mind went blank.

“He’s the only king we follow in these parts.” She nodded with satisfaction. “You sit down over here and I’ll take care of it for you.” Rinda guided Sarah to a seat at the dressing table and took the vial from the girl’s fingers. “While you’re here at Corramar Manor, I’ll be glad to see to your needs.” Rinda wasn’t sure what to make of this human who was fresh from the Aboveworld, she’d had very little contact with beings like that and what little she’d had was not to be recommended. The goblin knew it was different with the humans who lived among them. They were the little lost ones that the King brought back from his wanderings. They were loved and guarded as if they were true children of the Underground. The fact that they’d been born somewhere else was never spoken of.

“That’s very kind of you,” the fragrance of the oil that Jareth had sent her filled her nostrils and made her think of a spring morning. As the little goblin massaged it into her neck and arms it took all her effort not to moan. It would be too easy to picture the pale slim hands that she’d seen for the first time last night moving over her skin.

“There that should do you, my lady,” Rinda nodded in satisfaction as she put the small vial down on the dressing table. “Would you like me to dress your hair for you?’’

“No, thank you, I can take care of it myself,” Sarah reached for the brush, embarrassed and unsure of what the little lady’s maid expected of her.

“Then I’ll take your soiled linen and return to show you down to breakfast. The others have already eaten, but master Toby will be glad to see you.” As she talked the little goblin went to the bathing area and picked up the undershift Sarah had slept in and to the chair to gather up her dress from the day before. “Oh my lady….” Rinda gasped her hand outstretched above the blue Elf dress.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” Sarah looked over and saw the crystal that Jareth had left for her the night before. “Oh,” she sighed, “I thought I’d dreamt that, though he did promise me no dreams.” she murmured, her eyes half shut.

“It would be unfitting for me to touch His Majesty’s magic.” The maid’s hand shook slightly and she blinked at the woman who was now standing beside her. Suddenly the human’s presence in the Underground took on new importance.

Sarah quickly slipped into the dress she’d been given and picked up the crystal. It was as cool and light as she’d remembered from the night before. “It’s nothing really, just a little something he…” Then she remembered his words of warning, but she’d assumed he’d been kidding her about not telling others of the gift he’d given her, what if he hadn’t been. “It’s nothing…just a bauble really.” She smiled weakly and placed the offending object in her pocket.

“It’s not ‘nothing’! His Highness doesn’t give his magic away lightly, my lady. It’s a special gift to be honored, passed down from one generation to the next, is a gift from a Goblin King.” Rinda looked at the human woman with new respect and wonder. She’d never heard of King Jareth being so generous. This woman was not who she seemed.
……………………………..

“Sarah,” Toby ran to her as she came down the stairs. “I’ll show her the way, Rinda,” he called enthusiastically as he hugged his sister.

“Very well, master Toby.” the maid nodded her assent and went on her way towards the back of the house.

“She calls me master,” the boy giggled and hugged her again. “You look more like yourself this morning!”

“I’m feeling much better, Big Guy,” she ran her hand through his blonde hair and wrapped her arm around him tightly enjoying his familiar little boy smell.

“The King said you would be.” He grabbed her hand and examined her left arm. “He said you let him fix your burns.”

“You’ve spoken with him?” Sarah stopped suddenly and gripped the crystal that was in her pocket. It made no sense that Jareth would seek out her brother, if she’d been told the truth the night before.

“Yeah, last night and again this morning.” Suddenly Toby remembered the small brown bear he’d left in the dining room and became serious. “He…somehow he was able to get Lancelot for me,” the child’s voice broke when he thought how good it had felt to hug the worn old stuffed animal he’d believed lost in the fire. “He says he’s got something for you, too.”

“I’ll just bet he has.” Doubt filled Sarah. What new trick was the king trying to pull? “Is he still here?” She lost any appetite she’d had at the mentioned of the Goblin King and Lancelot. The two were welded together in her mind along with a seemingly endless Saturday night late in the spring she’d been fifteen. The Jareth from the night before had been so different from the one in the past, it made her shake her head in doubt. She had a sudden need to see him in the light of day and discover if the changes were real or only her imagination.

“He’s in the back, but no one is supposed to know what he’s doing,” Toby smiled. “I think he’s going to ride Moonbeam. The Dowager Queen is in her study pretending she doesn’t know he’s here and he said I was to go along with the game. The King said his mother worries about him.” The boy rolled his eyes in wonder that anyone would worry about a being that had the power and strength of the Goblin King. “He didn’t say I couldn’t tell you, though.”

“Where is he, show me!” Sarah turned and then turned again, unsure of which direction to go.

“I don’t think he wanted anyone to watch except the groom who is helping him. His Highness sent me up to the house.” Toby was suddenly unsure what to do. As much as he wanted to see what was going on and do as Sarah asked, there was something about Jareth that made him believe it was unwise not to follow his orders. It was the same eerie feeling the boy had had from the previous night, almost as if he’d met the Fae lord before.

“Toby…” Sarah moved around him and headed towards the front door. If her brother wouldn’t help her, she would find the way herself.

“Wait, Sarah, this way. That way takes forever.” Curiosity and loyalty to Sarah won out as Toby grabbed her hand and led her out the back way.
………………….

Sarah blinked at the bright sunny morning. When they rounded the stable, the land sloped away until it was met by a green pasture surrounded by an aged gray wood fence. Jareth was talking quietly to a white unicorn that was as tall in the shoulder as he was. They were joined by a short dark-haired man who kept shaking his head, even as he placed his hands for the King as an aid to mounting.

As soon as the Goblin King was seated, the groom jumped over the fence and out of the way. For a moment nothing happened, and then suddenly Moonbeam reared up on his hind legs in preparation for a huge leap into the air. On landing he turned quickly to the left and then the right, but Jareth was as determined to ride the unicorn as the animal was to unseat him.

Over to the right Sarah saw a small sable-colored mare standing inside the pasture fence, watching the antics of the two males. The horse nickered softly and shook her lovely head. As if in response to whatever Magic said, Moonbeam took three trotting steps and kicked up his hind legs, catching Jareth completely by surprise, sending him flying head over heels.

“Go back to the house, Toby!” Sarah demanded. She didn’t want her brother to watch. He’d seen too much violence in the last week.

“But…”

“Do as I say.” When Sarah used that tone of voice Toby knew better than to argue. All the way up to the house he muttered under his breath about overbearing sisters and how unfair it was that she could watch and he couldn’t.

Sarah never took her eyes off Jareth. One instant he was sailing through the air, the next he disappeared. She blinked, unsure of what had happened. By the time her eyes were open again; he had reappeared standing three feet in front of Moonbeam, his hands clenched on his hips and a sour expression on his face. The only physical evidence that the Goblin King was doing more than quietly observing the animal was his hair in complete disarray and the fact he was dressed in only snug fitting breeches, boots and an open-neck ivory shirt. She could hear him speaking, but didn’t understand the language he was using, though the tone was very clear. Suddenly she began to laugh.

“Are you laughing at me, young woman?” Jareth turned and glared at her with one eyebrow cocked.

“Yes,” she shook her head and laughed harder as she made her way to the pasture fence and climbed onto the bottom rung. She held onto the smooth flat surface of the lovely old wood and rested her chin on its satiny surface.

“Humph, well I’m glad I can be a source of entertainment to you this morning.” He pushed his hair out of his eyes and grabbed Moonbeam’s reins again. Before the unicorn, Sarah, or the startled groom knew what had happened, the King transported himself into the saddle. “All right you beastly creature, one more time!”

The battle between Fae and unicorn lasted longer this time. Sarah climbed the fence until she could sit on the top rung, unable to take her eyes off what was happening. Her hands were clenched and she bit her bottom lip to keep from crying out each time Moonbeam leapt in the air. She was caught by surprise when Magic walked up to her and rested her head in her lap.

“They really are a silly pair,” Sarah murmured as she ran her hand over the horse’s muzzle and scratched her between the ears. “I just hope your boyfriend doesn’t do any permanent damage to Jareth.” Before the words were out of her mouth, the great unicorn gave a high-pitched snort and leaped into the air. For a matter of seconds both the animal and his rider vanished. When Moonbeam reappeared, the King of the Goblins was sailing straight up into the air, hair flying. He twisted around as quickly as a cat and got his feet under him and then floated to the ground twenty feet from where they had both disappeared.

“You’re going to kill yourself,” Sarah laughed, her green eyes, filled with mirth, met his angry frown. Magic, who was leaning up against the human whinnied her agreement.

In a flash of white, Moonbeam wheeled around on his hind legs, suddenly aware that he’d left his soon-to-be mate to her own devices. The stallion let loose a sound rarely heard in captivity: the call of challenge from one male unicorn to another. His head went down to maximize the use of his long deadly horn and he charged the creature that dared touch what was soon to be his.

“Sarah!” Jareth cried out. “Get down and away from the horse!” As quickly as the words were out of his mouth he transported himself to Sarah’s side.

From Sarah’s perspective everything happened in slow motion. A strange howl filled the air, followed by Jareth’s panicked shout. She knew she was in danger, but couldn’t get her body to move fast enough. Even the ankle-length skirt of her dress worked against her, making her movements slow and uncoordinated. The thunder of hoof beats filled her ears as Moonbeam galloped towards her at a furious pace. The world righted itself when Jareth reappeared on the fence beside her. She felt him grab her around the waist as they tumbled off the fence together and landed in a heap on the ground with his body covering hers. Though it was Magic that prevented the angry unicorn from catapulting over the fence in pursuit of his victim, it was the Goblin King to whom Sarah clung.

The little sable horse wheeled around and blocked Moonbeam’s forward momentum. The unicorn came skidding to an undignified halt to keep from knocking her over. All the while she snorted at him, with an occasional nicker emphasized by the stomp of her right foreleg. Whatever Magic said and the defiant stance of her body combined to completely cow the much larger unicorn.

As the world quieted around them, Jareth looked over his shoulder but all he saw was a horse and a unicorn rubbing noses. “I must say, one thing that hasn’t changed about you is your knack for getting into trouble.” He looked down at Sarah’s frightened face, inches from his. Beneath him he could feel her heart pounding and her soft curves pressing against his harder contours. “I believe that you were warned years ago that things are not always what they seem.”

“Ahhh…” Sarah cleared her throat, not sure if it was fear from what had almost happened, or the feel of Jareth’s body pressing into hers that left her breathless and unable to speak. Her eyes flicked to his face, then his chest where one small droplet of sweat was slowly making its way from the curve of his neck across planes of bare compact muscle to be lost in the deep-V of his shirt, where his body met hers. She had an irrational longing to feel that small bead of water fall against her skin. Her eyes fluttered with all senses on alert, waiting, needing, wanting. She almost groaned in disappointment when it soaked into the ruffled edge of his shirt.

His lips twitched in anticipation as he watched her watch him. One small movement on his part and her lips would be his and he doubted it would stop there. He knew the effect he had on women, and had used it to his advantage for hundreds of years. But this was his Sarah, the woman he’d waited centuries for, not some casual interlude who could be used and discarded when she no longer relieved the boredom of his wait.

It took great effort, but Jareth pulled back and reached out a gloved hand to Sarah to help her to her feet. Now that his body was no longer pressing against hers and his desires were cooling, the enormity of what had happened sent trembling fear and anger through him. “You must be more careful! You’re in the Underground, now.”

“I know, I know,” Sarah fought embarrassment, and held her hands tightly at her sides to keep from hiding her face behind them. Moments earlier she had been caught in a wash of desire for the Goblin King, now all she wanted to do was run away and hide. “I’m well aware of the dangers here. I’m not fifteen any longer.”

“No, you certainly are not fifteen,” he ran one gloved hand over her cheek and tucked a lock of hair gently behind her ear. “But I sincerely doubt you have a thorough understanding of all the dangers.” His eyes sparked as they were lit with desire once again.

“You may be right. I’m still trying to get used to the idea that Toby and I will never return to the Aboveground.” Sarah shook her head in doubt, unable to talk about the deaths of her dad and Karen, though she knew she needed to because Toby had to be told.

“We can take care of one of those dangers right now.” Jareth smiled and took her hand as he led her back to the fence where a horse and a unicorn were placidly waiting for them. “You’ve already met Magic. Since she has taken such an obvious liking to you, it would be wise to meet Moonbeam as well. I have no desire to leave the matter of your safety up to her. She will be coming into season in a matter of weeks and once that happens, even she will not be able to talk reason into her mate’s thick head.”

“He’s beautiful, and not the least bit thick headed.” Sarah smiled when she thought how much Fae and unicorn were alike. Both were stubborn, demanding, and determined to have their own way. “You just say that because he is too independent to let you ride him.”

“You call him independent, but since he met that little brown filly I call him…I call him…” He sputtered to a stop. The expression he would have used was not one for the company of ladies. “You didn’t see the way Magic stopped him in his tracks when he would have attacked you. That unicorn is led around by his…nose…by a small dark-haired horse that is less than half his age and posses no powers.” Jareth smiled with pride that he’d found an adequate substitute for the part of the unicorn’s anatomy that was guiding Moonbeam.

Sarah fought to stifle a fit of giggles that were shaking her from the inside-out. The Goblin King may have said one thing, but it had been as clear as day what he really meant. “Too bad you can’t convince Magic to put in a good word for you.”

“It is beneath my dignity to even answer that.” He turned on his heel and reached over to where his vest was folded neatly on the top of the fence. “Well, do you want to meet him or not?” He shrugged into the garment, but left it unfastened as he held out his hand to the woman who was still laughing.

“Very much so, thank you.” She nodded and stepped closer to the huge animal, glad for the reassuring hold she had on Jareth’s hand.

“Moonbeam,” he spoke softly and rubbed the unicorn’s neck with the hand not holding Sarah’s. “This is Sarah Williams. She’s human, but don’t hold that against her.” Jareth could see the woman at his side bristle and he grinned. “She’s taken a fancy to Magic and it appears as if your beloved returns the affection.” The rest of what Jareth said was in a language that no Abovegrounder had ever heard, but the words soothed the stallion and he stepped closer to sniff Sarah’s shoulder.

“Hello there,” she trembled when she realized how huge the unicorn really was and how deadly his horn could have been. Unconsciously she held tighter to Jareth’s hand. “I didn’t mean any harm to Magic. She’s beautiful and I know you love her. I’m sorry I startled you.”

All the time she was talking, Moonbeam was trying to place the strange mix of smells he picked up from the small woman. The strongest was the overwhelmingly wonderful scent of his lady. Then there was the safe, secure one of the Fae who had saved his life as a colt and earned his undying allegiance, though that allegiance didn’t extend to allowing himself to be ridden. There was the slight spice of the young boy from the night before. Under all that was something soft and subtle. The unicorn sniffed Sarah’s neck and hair, again, to be sure this was the scent that belonged to her, alone. He recognized it as the one he’d picked up lingering traces of on Jareth’s clothes and hands the night before.

Moonbeam pulled back and looked the Goblin King in the eyes, understanding the importance of the female in front of him. With a slight nod of his head and a shrug Jareth acknowledged his feelings for Sarah. But even he was caught by surprise when the white beast bowed his great horned head to Sarah.

“What…?” She was speechless and unsure what to do.

“It appears that he has accepted you,” Jareth whispered in her ear. He was tempted to add ‘as my Chosen One,’ but was smart enough to refrain.

Needing to do something in keeping with the courtly gesture the magical animal had accorded her, she pulled her hand free of Jareth’s and curtsied deeply.

“Well I’ll be, I’s never seen the likes of it.” The groom had been watching the strange goings-on from a safe distance. “She bewitched him, she did.”

“Jayord,” Jareth called out as he reached down and helped Sarah straighten. “I’ve finished riding for today,” his lips curled at the use of the word, it was hardly what he did during the few seconds Moonbeam let him stay on his back, but it was necessary to keep up the illusion of being in control. “You may remove his saddle and harness.”

“Ahhh…yes Your Majesty,” he bowed and hopped the fence, glad that the Goblin King was there to calm the animal while he removed the tack and gave the unicorn a quick rubdown. All the time he worked he watched over the white back as the human female patted and murmured to Magic. “The lady has a way with that little brown mare.”

“It would appear so,” Jareth watched with eyes that missed nothing as Sarah whispered in Magic’s ear and ran her fingers through the sable mane.

“It might come in handy over the next few weeks, if you know what I mean, Your Highness.” The groom loved the animals under his care and had been worried about what would happen when these two finally mated. Moonbeam was going to be surly and more difficult than usual in the days before. Jayord doubted that anyone except the Goblin King would be able to manage him. “That big white beastie of yours is going to be mighty skittish when he picks up the scent of his lady in season and that little mare is going to need someone she can trust.”

“The lady Sarah is not a stable hand.” Jareth knew he was going to have his hands full taking care of Moonbeam when the time came. There was no one else whom the unicorn would allow near him. If he didn’t have to worry about Magic’s care as well, he could get back to the business of running the Goblin Territories in a matter of hours versus days. But he didn’t want Sarah reduced to that kind of work.

“Jareth…” Sarah stopped suddenly realizing her error when she saw the shocked look on the groom’s face. No one else called the King of the Goblins by his given name; she doubted even the Dowager Queen did except in private. “Ahh Your Highness…I’d be glad to help…it would give me a way to…” she ground to a halt when Jareth glared at her.

“I will discuss the matter with Lady Sarah, since she appears to have no objections and would find it a pleasant way to pass the time.” He nodded as he buttoned his vest and the groom helped him into his dark frockcoat that had been folded beside the vest on the fence. “I appreciate your suggestion and attention to detail, Jayord.” With a nod he offered Sarah his arm and they walked to the gate and up the hill.

“What was that all…”

“Hush, not here, sounds carry, we might be overheard.” Jareth led Sarah away from the kitchen garden and manor house. They climbed a gentle hill to a small glade beside an inlet. Long graceful branches of weeping willow trees, with their leaves just popping out of their buds, danced in the breeze. The ground was covered with green grass that was dotted with bright colors from early spring flowers. Tucked in the shade of one of the largest trees was a wooden bench, just big enough for two, facing the water.

“Oh my, what a beautiful place,” Sarah sighed and leaned back to sniff the air. “It almost smells like the ocean.”

“That’s because it is,” Jareth smiled at the lovely relaxed look that filled her face. “This is a small arm of a much larger bay. Goblin’s Landing, the main city for trade and commerce in the Goblin Territories is about half a day’s journey by land, though by ship it can be traveled much faster. Most beings forget that Landing City is facing east,” he pointed to the snow-capped mountains and land that went on for thousands of leagues on the other side of the water. “But the mouth of the Bay faces west on the great ocean.”

“Hmmm, it’s lovely.” She let the peace and tranquility of the place wrap around her and wash away her jangled nerves from moment earlier. “Thank you for bringing me here. It’s just what I needed.”

“This spot is one of my favorites.” He guided her to the bench.

“I could tell by the way you spoke of it.” She was glad when he sat beside her, though missed the excuse to keep her hand in the crook of his arm. “This place, this land, these people, they mean everything to you.”

“I’m their king.” Jareth turned so he could see her face, his arm draped casually along the back of the bench. “But I wouldn’t say that they mean everything to me.” That was reserved for the woman beside him, but she was still too confused and hurt to know her own feelings, let alone his.

He could see more questions crowded behind her eyes and decided to forestall them until he had a better idea of how well his treatment from the night before had worked. “Let me see your neck and arm.” He gently ran his gloved hand up the right side of her neck, where a nasty blister had been the night before, while he held her other hand, his thumb absent-mindedly caressing her wrist. “You’re looking much better. The skin is still a bit pink. I suggest you borrow a hat from Ellamora to protect the newly healed areas from the sun and keep your arms covered.” He pulled the long sleeve of her Elf-style dress back into place.

“I’ll remember that.” Green eyes met mismatched ones as Sarah tried to make sense out of the being beside her. She couldn’t stop the questions from tumbling out. “Why are you so different from the last time I was here?”

“I could ask the same of you.” He sighed when he realized that she was going to keep digging until she had some answers and he doubted she was ready to hear what he had to say. “Let’s just say neither of us are the same and leave it at that for the time being.” His voice had a note of finality that his subjects would have recognized as an order, but it only made Sarah more determined to discover what she wanted to know.

“Jareth…Your Highness…I’m sorry, this is hard,” she half smiled, unused to dealing with a class system. “For six years I’ve thought of you as Jareth.” The more she explained the more frustrated she became. Words that were better left unsaid popped out and she was unable to pull them back. She’d thought of him a great deal, but she’d thought of him as dead, killed when she uttered the words that won Toby’s freedom. She tried to tell herself that it didn’t really matter if he knew that he’d never been far from her thoughts.

“It’s all right.” He smiled, warmed that she’d thought of him over the years. “There is no one to hear you but me. You may use my given name in private or when there is only family around, though it would be unwise in public.”

“Who are you really?” For years Sarah had thought she knew exactly who the Goblin King was. When she was younger she’d hated him for what he’d made her feel, for the choice he’d made her make. As she grew older she realized that life was a series of choices and how you lived with the results revealed almost as much about you as the choices themselves. “Do you regret taking Toby?”

“Taking wished-away human children is one of my duties.” He’d hoped he’d be able to put off this discussion until Sarah had been in the Underground a bit longer, but she was as stubborn as ever and needed answers. “My only regret is that I was forced to deceive you in the process.”

“How exactly did you deceive me?” Her eyes turned hard and cold. She wanted to believe the kind being who had cured her burns and calmed her fears was the real Jareth, but anyone who would take children from their homes and turn them into goblins was evil through and through.

With a sigh he pulled Sarah’s copy of the Labyrinth out of the inner pocket of his coat and handed it to her. “When the Goblin Kings take the children, it is for their protection, and they aren’t turned into goblins, but given good homes with childless Fae families. The lie is written in the book.”

“Then why…?

“Because once a child is taken, the challenge must be offered. It is the ancient law of Oberon. I could do nothing to change it.” It wasn’t the entire truth, because he’d known at the time that Sarah hadn’t been serious about her wish, and he could have refused to take the child. It had been his chance to have her in the Underground and he’d grabbed it with both hands.

Sarah shook her head in doubt, unsure what to believe. She gripped the book with both hands and caressed its binding. “This looks exactly like my copy,” she muttered and opened it. Her stomach leapt to her throat when she saw her drawings on the inner cover. “It is mine, where did you get it? That means the bear you gave Toby is the real Lancelot, though there isn’t a mark on him. You were there…when….how?”

“The repairs to your book and Toby’s bear required only a small spell.” Jareth knew he couldn’t have returned them as he’d found them. Both had smelled almost overpoweringly of smoke and had been covered in blackened burn marks. “You needn’t worry, I was especially careful with Lancelot. Toby wouldn’t have recognized him if I’d restored him completely.” He didn’t understand the value human children placed on well-used stuffed animals, when he could as easily restore them to perfect condition. He only knew it was true and a subject he would much rather discuss with Sarah than the fire.

“Please, I appreciate all you’ve done for us,” her voice cracked and she clutched her book to her chest. “But I need to know…”

“No, you don’t.” He shook his head as he remembered the nightmare her bedroom had been and what he’d suffered thinking she’d burned to death. “I’d erase it from your memory if I thought it would relieve your sorrow.”

“Please, Jareth,” she whispered and gripped his hand, needing to feel contact with another being.

“All right, all right, you win.” He shrugged, knowing he could never deny her anything she really wanted. “The evening after the fire, Hoggle came to see me. He, Ludo and Sir Didymus had been looking for the Underground entrance to the portal that led to your mirror. They’d been searching all day with no success.” Jareth went on to tell Sarah about that night. He tried to be as sparing in detail as possible, but from the way she would occasionally shudder, he knew that she was hurt deeply by his words. “I’m sorry Sarah. There was nothing I could do. At the time I believed your entire family had died in the fire. I never thought to look in the Underground for you and your brother. Last night after I left you, I sent out further searcher spells to all the seven worlds for your parents, just in case…”

“But they found nothing?” She shivered and stood, needing to think. It would be too easy to rest her head on his shoulder as she’d done the night before and let him comfort her. But she had a new life to make for what was left of her family and the sooner she started the better.

“No, your father and stepmother are no longer in the worlds of the living; beyond that, even my magic cannot search.” He didn’t tell her what he’d learned on a second trip to her world: that her home had been deliberately burned to kill her father. Nor about the other spell he’d sent out, the one to find any who were responsible and see they never harmed anyone again. Though his magic was strong, he would never use it to kill, unless to protect his land or his people, so he had crafted an interesting little spell. Those responsible for the burning of the Williams’ home would long for death to take them as nightmares of fire and fear haunted them every time they tried to sleep. It would be a living death from which there would be no escape. “I took the liberty of informing Toby. He had questions last night that needed to be answered and you were in no state to do it.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” Sarah cleared her throat and turned to face the King. “I owe you a great deal, but I must ask one more favor.”

“Sarah, don’t…” He wanted to reach for her and hold her close, but the dead look in her eyes stopped him. She needed to heal on the inside. He’d taken care of the outer scars, now only she could take care of the inner ones.

“I need a job,” she shrugged and pointed to the book in her arms. “I doubt the Underground has much use for a graphic designer or even an illustrator. Toby and I need to eat and a place to live. We can’t stay at Ellamora’s indefinitely.”

“My mother was hoping you would. She worries about that old Elf. Of course if you took the job working with Magic, you could have your own cottage on the estate.”

“Jar…Your Highness,” Sarah rolled her eyes. “I said I need to earn my keep, not be given it. I need to feel useful again.”

“Believe me, you would earn it. Magic can be difficult despite what you saw today. Though I think you are a good match, you’re just as stubborn as she is.” He shrugged as he considered the logistics. “If you chose to stay with Ellamora it would be closer to the village school for Toby, and the walk over the hill to Corramar would only take you about ten minutes.”

“I think I would enjoy working with Magic, though I don’t ride and know very little about horses.” She sighed, knowing the decision of where they would live had been made as soon as Jareth mentioned the proximity of Ellamora’s to a school for Toby.

“Your most important qualification is that both Moonbeam and Magic trust and like you. Jayord, mother’s head groom, can teach you all you need to know.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Sarah moved to curtsy, but Jareth stopped her by grabbing her hand.

“Please, Sarah, we’ve known each other too long for formalities in private.” For one moment both looked at the other with clear eyes seeing all there was to see. Then Sarah closed her eyes and erected a wall around her heart. Everything she’d believed and worked for was gone or different. It was too much to ask to add any more uncertainty to her future.

“Your Highness,” the Dowager Queen’s butler stood twenty feet away and cleared his throat. “I am sorry to interrupt, Your Highness, but you have a message from Lord Galen.” He came forward and handed the king a folded piece of paper.

“Thank you, Chazel.” He carefully read what Galen had written. “Send a message to His Lordship and inform him I will attend to this matter before I return to the Castle.” He sighed, and quickly looked at his clothes; at least they were still clean. Since he was needed at the repair site for the aqueducts, it didn’t matter that he came directly from the stables.

“Very well, Your Majesty.” He bowed to his king and then turned to Sarah.

“Lady Sarah, you have visitors.”

“I do?” She was surprised, and unsure who they could be.

“Yes, my lady, a Knight, a Rock Conjurer and a Dwarf, they are on the side lawn with master Toby.”

“Sir Didymus, Ludo and Hoggle,” she grinned. “But what are they doing with Toby? He shouldn’t…they shouldn’t…” She looked up at Jareth, unsure what to do. What if they had told her brother about his earlier visit to the Labyrinth?

“What is the meaning of this?” Jareth stood tall, straightening first one glove and then the other. Anyone who knew him well understood that was a sign of disapproval, often followed by a large splash in the Bog of Eternal Stench. “The boy was to be watched carefully.”

“We could not stop him, Your Majesty, even Ellamora tried, but he slipped through our grasp and ran to those creatures as if they were old friends. The young master even knew their names.” Chazel stood straight and would take his punishment like the superior breed of goblin he was, without blaming others. He had known Jareth since he was a young prince and believed he had become a good and fair king. “If it is any help, both Her Dowager Highness and Ellamora are with them, now.”

“Thank you, Chazel,” the Goblin King dismissed the butler with a nod of his head. “That will be all. It would appear I need to have a talk with the boy about the correct way to receive visitors.”

Sarah watched with haunted eyes as the goblin left the glade. Part of her wanted to run quickly to Toby, but part of her was afraid. “Jareth, do you think he knows?” All traces of formality were wiped away in her worry.

“I doubt it and if he does, there is nothing you can do about it. What is said is said and what is done is done. There is no going back to change that.” He offered her his arm and they walked slowly out of the lovely glade. When they crested the hill and looked down at Corramar Estate spread out below them, the sound of a child’s laughter greeted them.

“He’s laughing,” Sarah pressed her face against Jareth’s arm to help control happy tears that threatened to fall. “I haven’t heard him really laugh since the fire. I think he’s going to be all right.” They watched for a moment while the small human boy played and chased Ludo, much to the joy of Hoggle and Sir Didymus.

“Wait,” Jareth turned her toward him and looked into her eyes. “Give yourself the same chance you’ve given Toby. Let the Underground work for you. Stop fighting it, let its magic in.”

“I…”

“Just let me finish,” he smiled at how stubborn she could be, always wanting to get in the last word. “You believed in this place, once long ago. I’m sorry that you saw too many of the darker areas before. You need to discover the wonderful ones this time. Like that glade back there. It isn’t enchanted unless you count its beauty, but it soothed you anyway. Wander all you want, explore. I won’t forbid you from entering the Labyrinth as long as you promise to stay away from the evil places. You’re wise enough in the ways of magic to be able to recognize them by the feel in the air.”

“Forbid me…” she whispered, and then remembered she was talking to a King when he raised his right eyebrow and tilted his head in an expression she recognized from before.

“Let yourself heal, Sarah. Open your heart to all this land has to offer; you’ll be surprised at what you discover.”

As they continued down the hill, Sarah gripped Jareth’s arm, his words echoing in her ears. Unfortunately, her heart was already open, it had been for years, and it was filled by his presence; but he was King of the Goblin Territories and she was about to become one of his mother’s stable hands.

The old adages of the Labyrinth were still true. What’s said is said and what’s done is done. Sarah found it terribly unfair that there was not some trite saying that would tell her how to undo the hurt and loneliness she would feel for all of her life because of what was already said and done.

To Ch 5 - Numb - Part I

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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