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For Love Of Sarah - Ch 7 - Out Of Control

Disclaimer: See First Chapter
Rating: R
Beta: Devil Girl
Prevous Chapters: Ch 1 - Coming Storms; Ch 2 - Nothing Is What It Seems; Ch 3 - Second Chances; Ch 4 - A New Beginning - Part I; Ch 4 - A New Beginning - Part II; Ch 5 - Numb - Part I; Ch 5 - Numb - Part II; Ch 6 - The Pain Seeps Through

For Love Of Sarah

By

Lattelady

Ch 7 - Out Of Control



Jareth and Sarah materialized in the stable yards at Corramar Estate. Even from a distance, they could tell that every lantern was lit in the usually tranquil building that Moonbeam and Magic had called home for the last year. The soft light spilling out of each window added a surreal quality to the already strange evening.

“Sarah, I need to see to the unicorn first.” Jareth looked anxiously in the direction of the lower pasture, where the large white beast was giving voice to his displeasures. “You go on ahead and see to the mare.”

“Wait!” she called out. “You take this. I’ve made enough of a spectacle of myself in it today.” She pulled his jacket from her shoulders and tossed it to him.

“Very well, but then you must take this.” As he spoke, he caught the black leather garment by its collar and with a flick of his wrist, swirled it in a circle. Something that sounded very much like the wild flapping of owls’ wings filled the air and the jacket became a long dove-gray lady’s cape.

“You are determined to have your own way, aren’t you?” she huffed in exasperation as he tossed the magically changed item back to her.

“I’ve never given any indication that I’m not.” He grinned and turned to leave.

“It just isn’t fair.” Sarah mumbled under her breath. As she stalked off clutching the cape; a deep chuckle from the Goblin King rang in her ears. She knew that she’d be very glad for the warmth of the heavy material around her shoulders as the night cooled into dawn, but at the moment she was disgruntled about how high-handed a certain monarch could be.
……………………………………
Within an hour all was quiet again. Jareth had left with Moonbeam as soon as he’d made sure that Sarah had Magic well in hand. An assorted number of grooms and stable hands had followed not long after. Finally, the Dowager Queen had taken Millwinken, the Elvish animal healer, to the manor house with her.

“Poor thing, all those people only added to your confusion.” Sarah ran her fingers soothingly through the little horse’s long mane. She was exceedingly glad that everyone had left with the exception of Sir Jayord, Horse Master and head of the Dowager Queen’s Monoceros breeding program.

“Not to worry, ma’am, she’s a bit agitated tonight, Magic is, but that’s to be expected.” Jayord and the healer had carefully examined the mare. They knew almost to the minute when the best time to breed her would be. “Unless there’s any alteration, His Highness will be bringing that big white brute of his back tomorrow afternoon, ‘long about four hours past midday. His waiting is almost over.”

“Yes, it is. Hers too, I guess.”

“I don’t envy His Majesty this night or yea either, lady Sarah.” Jayord patted the girl on the arm to give her what support he could. “Magic is out of sorts and on a good day Moonbeam can try the patience of the fates.”

“I’m sure Jar—King Jareth can be just as stubborn.” Sarah dipped her chin against the soft, strange material of the cape that was keeping out the night chill. It was a prime example of the Goblin King’s stubbornness.

“That he can be, ma’am, and has been ever since he was a lad.” the Horse Master chuckled. “Would yea be wanting me to stay and give yea hand?”

“No, we’ll be fine, but if you could see to the lanterns before you go, I’d appreciate it.” The unusually well lit stable was hard on her tired eyes.

“No problem a’tall.” He waved one hand casually in the air and Sarah and Magic were left standing in a soft pool of light. All the other lamps had been extinguished.

“Thank you, that’s much better,” she sighed.

“I’ll be off then, but yea call out if yea need us, both Millwinken and I will be sleeping with one ear open tonight. We can be by your side in the blink of an eye.” He nodded and chewed on the stem of his unlit pipe.

“Thanks, I’ll do that.” She watched the man disappear into the darkness before she settled on a bale of hay that had been brought over beside the door to Magic’s stall. “Having power might not be such a bad thing,” she spoke earnestly to the horse. “I’d never have to use a step stool to reach things stored on high shelves. It makes traveling very handy and…and…” she sighed wistfully and reached into her pocket to pull out the crystal Jareth had given her. “And I can keep an eye on people I love.” Sarah watched Toby peacefully sleeping in the center of the orb. It had been a long time since she’d had anything positive to say or think about magic. It felt as if she’d finally come full circle. .
…………………………………………………………………….
“Lady Sarah?” a small voice called quietly from outside the stable. “You in there, lady Sarah?”

“I’m here. Who is it?”

“It’s me, Rinda.” The young goblin moved haltingly into the building. She curtsied awkwardly in Sarah’s presence while balancing a large tray. “Before he left, His Highness instructed me to bring you supper. And the Dowager Queen wanted me ta tell ya that you’re ta come ta the main house when ya gets Magic settled for the night.”

“Thank you. Let me help you with that.” She stood wearily. The long day was beginning to take its toll.

“Oh no, ma’am, you stay comfortable. I’m good at heavy liftin’. It’s what I do.” Rinda grinned and demonstrated by pulling the tray up and down in a motion that reminded Sarah of someone doing bicep curls at the gym.

“In that case, please put it on that bale of hay.” She could see it was a matter of pride, so she didn’t argue, just pointed toward the stall across the aisle from where she was sitting stroking Magic’s forehead. “I’ll get to it when I get a chance. Her Highness’s offer is most kind, but I think it would be best if I stayed here tonight. Please let her know that I appreciate the invitation, but I’d feel better staying with Magic.”

“Yes ma’am.” Rinda looked decidedly nervous as she moved back and forth from one foot to the other. She was still standing in the middle of the stable with the tray held tightly in both hands.

“You can put my supper down, it’s all right.” Sarah wasn’t sure what she was missing, but something was bothering the little goblin.

“Well…ah…You need to eat, my lady. His Majesty gave strict instructions that I was ta be sure ya ate and ya was to do it when the food was still warm.” Rinda wasn’t sure how she was to carry out her monarch’s directive, but she had to try.

“Oh, very well,” Sarah sighed. He was being high-handed again, but it was useless to argue the point with anybody but him. Besides, her stomach had begun to growl at the scent of her dinner so it would have only made her look foolish to protest. “I’ll eat in there.” She nodded again to the large empty stall across from her.

“Yes, your ladyship.” With slow small steps Rinda moved carefully past Magic. She kept watching the animal as if it would jump out and bite her.

“You needn’t be afraid. She’s much calmer now,” Sarah assured her. “I appreciate you bringing me dinner.” She looked over the contents of the tray and poured a cup of tea. “Since you have to wait and watch over me, you should have brought a cup for yourself. We could have had tea together.”

“Oh no, ma’am, I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be seemly for me to sit to table with gentry.” The goblin was shocked at the impropriety of the suggestion.

“But I’m not gentry!” Sarah exclaimed. “Where I came from, the area of the Aboveground where I used to live, everyone is considered equal.”

“That may be so, ma’am, but you live here now.”

“Yes, but I’m still no different from you.” Sarah sipped her tea and enjoyed the subtle flavor and scent of the brew. “We both work for Her Highness the Dowager Queen.”

“But your ladyship, you care for Moonbeam’s lady. I only care for the bits and pieces in the manor house.” Rinda was sure that would convince the strange human, but when Sarah continued to give her a blank look she went on. “You do what you do ‘cause Magic chose you. ‘Sides no one takes care of Her Highness’ special ones who isn’t…well special themselves.”

“But that doesn’t make me…”

“Lady Sarah, you have the King’s magic to draw upon,” the goblin whispered in awe. “I know. I saw his gift to you, when I was actin’ as your lady’s maid that morning.”

“You didn’t tell anyone, did you?” Sarah remembered Jareth’s warnings to keep the crystal a secret, though it was obvious that Galen knew about it.

“No, ma’am. My loyalty is to the King. I would carry no tales.”

“But I’m just a stable hand!” Things were slipping out of Sarah’s control. It didn’t make sense that she’d suddenly feel as if she was in free-fall just because she discovered her job wasn’t as menial as she had thought.

“Ellamora Kilhaggen served Her Majesty for most of her adult life, but the blood of Ellsinore, the great Elf king who helped Oberon tame the magic of the Underground and claim it for all beings of power, runs in her veins.

“But I have no royal blood. I’m human.” The young woman insisted. “I have no magic, or powers of any kind.”

“Power comes from what ever source it pleases, ma’am.” Rinda hid a gentle grin. It was easy to see where lady Sarah got her power, but as the goblin had said earlier, she carried no tales about her king.

“I’ve done nothing special.” She wasn’t sure why it was so important to argue the point. All Sarah knew was that this strange conversation had taken away her appetite and left her feeling out of breath. It all seemed unreal. All these weeks she’d sighed and worried thinking that Jareth was forever out of reach. What she was learning was a revelation. In the Underground, nothing was truly what it seemed.

“But you are special, there is no denying that. Magic and Moonbeam think so.” In her mind Rinda added ‘and His Majesty does too.’ To have said it out loud would have been to have spoken of things that were far above her station in life and she was a goblin who would carry no tales about her king.
……………………………………………
Long after Rinda had left, Sarah was still brooding on their conversation. She was glad for the demands Magic made on her time, because she knew she wouldn’t have slept. It didn’t make sense, she should have been relieved and gone on from there, but she wasn’t. Over and over again she came back to the question of what was she going to do about Jareth. Memories filled her mind as she worked to keep the agitated horse as calm as she could.

She remembered her first time in the Labyrinth. How dashing and fascinating Jareth had seemed, at the same time he’d frightened her. Now she understood that fear. It had been sexual attraction, something she hadn’t a clue how to deal with then. Laughing she realized she wasn’t all that sure what to do about it even now. She knew if she were really brave, she’d throw caution to the wind. She’d seen it in his eyes that afternoon and felt it in his kiss that evening. He was attracted to her as well. She had no doubt that he would teach her all the things she had yet to learn. But then what? She had no illusions that she could hold his attention for long. What would she do when he went on to another, once his fascination with her had waned? That was the crux of her problem. Sarah knew that as a child of fifteen she’d been in love with the idea of him, but as a woman of twenty-one, she loved the being she’d come to know. It didn’t matter that he was egotistical and demanding nor that he had taken children from their homes and would do so again when called upon. She loved him faults, glitter, glamour and all.

In the cool light of breaking dawn she was facing some very real facts. She had been devastated when she’d thought she’d killed Jareth six years earlier. If she gave into the temptation of an affair with him now, when it was over, her devastation would be nearly as great, but this time there would be no getting away from him. She was destined to live out her life under his rule. A day didn’t go by when someone didn’t mention his name or she didn’t see him in passing in the distance. Sarah knew she wasn’t strong enough to live like that if they had been lovers. Better to pine for something that had never been than to have to live with the results.
……………………………………………….
By two hours past mid-day everything was set and Magic was getting more and more boisterous. Her hormones were about to peak and she felt strange urges and needs that made her temper flare. She wanted Moonbeam by her side and was fiercely angry at him for not being there. She hadn’t felt so conflicted since she was a very young filly.

Sarah wasn’t faring much better than the young mare. Between her restless mind and her almost as restless charge, she had only been able to grab a few hours of sleep, just past sunrise. After a quick lunch, time seemed to grind to a halt, causing her nerves and muscles to tighten in anticipation. She was very glad she’d had a chance to bathe quickly and change her dress while Jayord and Millwinken transferred the horse to the far paddock.

“It shouldn’t be much longer now.” Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins appeared by Sarah’s side. “I thought you might need this.” She handed the young woman a floppy-brimmed straw hat.

“Thank you, ma’am, that’s very kind of you to think of me.” Sarah was glad for the shade the hat provided. She’d been careful to keep her head covered when working in the sun, but in their haste to depart Ellamora’s cottage the night before, Jareth hadn’t given her a chance to collect any of her things.

“It is I who should thank you.” Livia smiled sincerely. “You’ve been wonderful with Magic.”

“Thank you, Your Highness, but one can hardly tell by her antics this morning.” Sarah shook her head as the young horse tried to dance away from her handlers.

“That’s her spirit showing. She would be a poor mate for her chosen one, if she let herself be docilely led about all the time. A strong male needs a strong female if they are to breed true.”

“She does have spirit.” The girl smiled at her charge. “But she’s a loving thing. I’ve needed her as much as she needed me.” She was being more honest than she intended, but it was too late to pull back the words so she finished. “I’m afraid if I hadn’t had her to tend to and love these last few weeks I would have smothered poor Toby trying to feel useful and necessary.”

“You’ve done a marvelous job with your brother, and my horse. It can’t have been easy while learning to adjust to a way of life so different from what you’re used to.” The Queen delicately didn’t mention the loss of Sarah’s parents. She knew the Williams children were still grieving and would talk about them when they were ready. “I heard about yesterday afternoon. It seems as if Toby has some wonderful qualities of his own.” Her eyes sparkled at the idea of the human boy’s fearless defense of Maia.

“Oh no, what have you heard? It had to be Sir Didymus who spilled the beans.” Sarah buried her face in her hands. She knew the small knight often stopped off for tea and to reminisce about the old days with the Dowager Queen. She was sure that was how Her Highness stayed so well informed without leaving Corramar, but she’d hoped the events of yesterday would remain between those who had been present when it happened.

“I heard about your brother’s gallantry from my son. That rascally old fox is far too loyal to you and the King to carry tales, even to me. Though I’m sure he enjoyed a good chuckle over it in the privacy of his bog.” Livia laughed softly at the picture she had created in her mind.

“I’m sure he did,” Sarah sighed. It was too soon to find anything that happened yesterday funny. She’d been too worried about her brother when she’d first discovered that he was in trouble. “Have you heard anything from Jar—” she quickly corrected herself, “Have you any news from His Highness today? Did Moonbeam give him a bad night?”

“My dear,” Livia stepped closer to the girl so she could speak as quietly as possible. “It is quite permissible for you to call him by his given name among the family.”

“I know, it’s just…” She shrugged, hating to admit the truth.

“You think of him that way don’t you?” The Dowager Queen had guessed Sarah’s feelings weeks earlier, “By his name, not just his title.” It warmed the part of her that was a mother to know that this young woman cared about her son and not just the Goblin King.

“Yes, ma’am, I do.” Sarah was flustered and afraid her feelings were on display. “I don’t want to forget and cause him embarrassment.”

“He is exceedingly proud of you. I sincerely doubt there is anything you could do that would embarrass him.” From the odd look on Sarah’s face, Livia wondered if she’d said more than she ought. After a moment’s thought she didn’t care. She’d been waiting around for a grandchild for decades and she wasn’t getting any younger while Jareth sat back and ‘let Sarah find herself’. At the rate he was going, he’d let this remarkable young woman slip through his fingers again. If she didn’t know better, she’d think her son was a trifle afraid of showing his true feelings to the young human.

“But etiquette requires that I use certain forms of address.” Ellamora had been most insistent when teaching her the ways of conducting herself in society.

“That’s true and it is admirable that you are making a sincere attempt to learn our ways, but you’re a newcomer and as such are forgiven the occasional error. I find it charming and refreshing that you’re unused to duplicity. The formality will come with practice.” Having dealt with that, Livia went back to Sarah’s original question. “I did receive a short message from my son early in the day.” She grinned at the tone and temper of the missive. “It would appear that it took all his ingenuity and magic to keep Moonbeam from transporting himself back to where he wanted to be. I believe we will find that Jareth had a trying night.” Her musical laughter reminded Sarah of Christmas bells and angels’ wings.

“I’m glad you found my situation so entertaining, mother.” Jareth appeared a few feet from the two women. He was holding tightly to Moonbeams bridle. The unicorn was shaking his head tying to get free of the Fae whose strength of will had been all that kept him in the castle stable the last fifteen hours. “Jayord, Millwinken come and take this animal before he finds himself withers-deep in the Bog of Eternal Stench! The beast kept me awake most of the night.” He grumbled as he passed the bridle to the Horse Master.

“Magic was just as impolite to poor Sarah.” Livia stood back and watched the two younger people consider each other. They made a striking couple. Jareth’s midnight black cape rustling in the wind was a sharp contrast to his white blonde hair and silk shirt. He stood straight and proud in deep-gray breeches and tall leather boots, looking every inch a Goblin King at his leisure. Sarah’s dark, thick hair flowed over the shoulders of her long, dove-gray cape. Her elf-style burgundy dress brought out her coloring despite her sleepless night.

“So I see.” Jareth stepped forward and took one of Sarah’s hands in his, while he ran a gloved thumb over the dark circles under her eyes. She knew that despite her bath, clean hair, and fresh dress she looked slightly wilted around the edges and found it the height of rudeness that he would point out further imperfections.

‘How dare he show up here this afternoon claiming fatigue when he looked his usual strong and very capable self?' she fumed silently. “I am doing just fine, Your Majesty,” she practically spit out his title in defiance, knowing he preferred that she use his name when in private.

“I can see that as well.” His eyes danced as he raised her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles in a gesture that lingered on the border between courtly and sensual. “I was beginning to think you’d outgrown that sharp tongue of yours,” the Goblin King’s words were drowned out to all but Sarah as Magic caught Moonbeams scent and her high-pitched mating call rang across the hills. “Come, ladies, it is beginning.”

“We’re going to watch?” Sarah grabbed Jareth’s arm as he would have guided her to the fenced-in pasture.

“It is the only way we can guarantee who is the sire.” He put his arm lightly around her shoulders. Livia had moved on ahead to join Jayord and Millwinken at the gate where they’d just let the stallion into the pasture.

“I hadn’t thought of that.” With all the preparation that had gone into this day, Sarah’s mind had always shied away form the actual act. “It seems a bit voyeuristic.”

“By now they’ve forgotten we’re here, so there is no harm done. It is the way it is done when breeding. It assures the bloodline.” Jareth spoke casually as he walked beside Sarah to the pasture fence nearest them. “Though in this case, it is purely a technicality. There is no doubt in my mind that the unicorn would kill any animal who tried to intervene.”

The afternoon had gone suddenly strange. Sarah was very aware of the feel of wood under her hands as she gripped the top rung of the fence. The sun was unusually bright and made her squint despite the large floppy brim of her hat. The air had become heavy with a scent she couldn’t place. As she breathed deeply she felt the blood pounding in her ears and her mouth went dry. She could almost felt Jareth’s long body an inch away from her back. His gloved hands were beside hers, trapping her between him and the fence. No matter how much she wanted to lean back and sink against him, she was frozen in place, unable to take her eyes off what was transpiring in the pasture.

Magic pranced past the unicorn, her hooves high and her step light. As she passed him she turned and called out a teasing whinny. When he moved closer to her she ran to the far corner of the pasture and turned her back, her tail whipping quickly in the air, offering him a tantalizing view of what he sought. He charged and she swung around and raced away, refusing to be cornered so easily. Sarah lost track of time as Magic and Moonbeam dashed and snipped at one another.

“What are they doing?” Sarah whispered unable to take her eyes off the animals. She didn’t know when she’d leaned back so Jareth could take her weight, but she knew it was necessary.

“They’re dancing,” he murmured as his thumbs moved in slow circles inside her curled palms.

Magic slowed suddenly, her gait uneven. It appeared her sleepless night was finally catching up with her. As Moonbeam came up from behind, he attempted to nip her shoulder to hold her in place. She let out a high-pitched snort and pulled away with a saucy shout over her shoulder, daring the unicorn to follow. Her tail was high in the air as she raced down the paddock. He reared up on his haunches in protest and gave chase. His hooves thundered a warning that his patience was almost over. This time as he swooped passed he bumped lightly into her side. At the instant of contact they both vanished!

“By the Seven Crystals, what is that beast up to?!” Jareth gasped as he put his arms tightly around a very surprised Sarah. “We’ve got them! No one else is to follow!” He called to the astonished crowd. Then he and Sarah vanished, as well.

Moments later, Sarah found herself standing on a huge bolder overlooking a lush valley that was surrounded by high mountains on all sides. If Jareth hadn’t been holding her close she would have fallen. His mode of transportation was going to take some getting used to. Thirty feet below, Moonbeam was chasing a frantically racing Magic through the tall grass.

“Where are we?” she cried out. The air was thinner and so was the light. It reminded Sarah of a late September afternoon, but everything had the lush green of early summer.

“It’s the Valley of the Moon.” Jareth’s eyes moved carefully over each rock and bolder never relaxing his vigil. “This is the mating ground of the unicorns. I’ve never known a horse to be transported here. Moonbeam must have had enough of her nonsense and decided to take control.” His words were clipped. His attention was focused on watching the valley.

“Do we have to worry about a rogue male showing up and trying to claim Magic?” Sarah bit her lip and watched the animals in the distance.

“Possibly, but it’s late in the season. Most unicorns have moved on to their summer grazing areas. And we’re too high in the mountains for any of the wild horses to bother us. Nothing that doesn’t fly or have the power to transport can gain entrance.”

“Is he going to be all right?”

“I don’t know. I need to get closer to them, just in case there is a problem. I didn’t know he had the ability or strength to bring her here, or we would have done things differently. As it is, I’m not too sure how well he would show in a fight if he was challenged.”

“I’m coming with you.” Sarah threw her arms around him so he wouldn’t leave her standing on the far sidelines.

“If you insist.” He smiled down at her as he pulled a crystal from the air and let its power take them to the rocks ten feet above where Moonbeam had finally cornered Magic.

The little sable horse was tiring fast. She’d thought she known what it was like to be in the wild, but she was sadly mistaken. The high, rugged mountains towered over her and left her no exit. They blocked the bright sun she loved and spoke to her of ancient times and rituals long lost to her kind. The tall grass that looked so tasty tickled her belly and made her tremble with longing for the large white unicorn that was chasing her. Then from close above her, she felt the calming presence of her human and it gave her the courage she needed to turn her back on her prancing mate and raise her tail in offering.

Sarah had to cover her mouth to keep from gasping when she got her fist good look at Moonbeam since they had arrived in the valley. He was rearing in the air, stretching long sinewy muscles as he slowly unsheathed. She had a vague memory of her old sheepdog, Merlin, attempting to cover the neighbor’s mutt late one spring night, but she’d been very young at the time. There had been none of the visceral power and total awareness that made the air vibrate all around her as a large full moon rose in the late afternoon sky of the Underground.

“He’d never hurt her, my dear.” Jareth tried to reassure Sarah as she stood frozen beside him.

“Not on purpose, but…but she’s so tiny in comparison.” She shrugged helplessly wanting to hide her eyes, but she’d had enough of being afraid.

“Sarah, come here,” the Goblin King whispered as he turned her to him and wrapped an arm around her neck, burying her face in his shoulder. She thought she felt him kiss her forehead, but the sound of the stallion as he triumphantly announced his claim and mounted his mate ripped through the air. Sarah gave up all pretenses of bravery and gripped Jareth tightly while she burrowed her face tighter against his long hair. If she was lucky she hoped to block sound as well as sight. Her breath caught in her throat when she heard the answering squeal that came from Magic. It was half pain and half pleasure and made the woman moan as if she were the one being entered by her lover. Sarah was completely unaware that she was rocking her pelvis forward until Jareth’s arm around her waist, slid lower and tightened to lock her abdomen against his hips.

She lost track of time as she held tightly to him, while the sounds and scents of passion flowed around her. She was afraid to move and afraid not to as one second slowly merged into another. Desire curled in her belly and fought with common sense. “Please, Jareth,” she gasped in his ear. She wasn’t sure what she was asking for, just that he held all the answers.

“Hush,” he murmured holding her closer with arms that trembled. “I’ve made too many mistakes with you already. I don’t plan on making another.”

“But I only want…” Her eyes fluttered and her body twisted against his.

“I know what you want, my dear, but not here, like this. Hold on tight, it won’t be much longer.” He wasn’t sure if he was talking about what was going on below or his ability to withstand her charms. Either way, he’d obtained his objective of the moment: Sarah was resting quietly in his arms.

The sun was beginning to set and the air cool when Jareth finally spoke again. “I’m going to move us below so we can assess the animals. Are you ready?” He smiled when she gripped the back of his shirt and pressed her face tighter against his shoulder.

He snuggled her closer and simply straightened his posture, thereby also lifting her feet a few inches off the ground. With her body draped full-length against his, it was necessary to grit his teeth to keep from groaning in pleasure. Moments later they were surrounded by grass that came to Jareth’s waist. The soft lowing of a horse and a unicorn could be heard from three feet away.

“As I feared, they’re in no condition to travel tonight.” He sighed. It was going to be another very long night if he was going to spend it with Sarah and not make love to her.

“Then I guess we stay with them.” She could see Magic leaning against Moonbeam’s side, exhaustedly nibbling on the grass. “Will we need to worry about other unicorns trying to challenge him? Neither of them appear as if they’d survive it.”

“No, not anymore, pheromones dissipate quickly. That is what attracts wandering males.” Jareth looked around to get his bearings. It had been a while since he’d been in the valley. “There is a stream nearby so they’ll have plenty of water and spring grass is at its prime. Those two will have most of the comforts of home.”

“What about us?”

“We’ll make do.” He smiled gently at the lovely picture she made with her hair and cape blowing out behind her in the wind. Her cheeks were flushed and it took all his effort not to pull her close and kiss her. “You’ve managed to lose your hat.”

“It belongs to your mother.” Sarah reached reflexively to check for the missing object. "I’ll need to find it.”

“I doubt she’ll be upset, but we’ll attend to that task in the morning.” He put his arm lightly around her shoulder. “Come, let’s leave them in peace.”

They found a grassy niche in the rocks not far from the stream. It was protected from the evening winds, but allowed them to keep a watchful eye on their charges.

“Sit!” Jareth lowered himself to the ground without letting go of Sarah. “The grass is dry. It should be a tolerable night once I see to some supper for us.”

“What did you mean before, when you said you’d made too many mistakes with me all ready?” she asked as she sat beside him and watched him roll a crystal from hand to hand.

“Precisely that.” He’d wondered how long it would take her to remember what he’d said, but for the moment he needed to focus. His powers had been used extensively over the last twenty-six hours and he was tired too. When he felt the finished spell humming in his hands, he tossed the magic orb to the ground and it exploded leaving behind an elaborately set picnic. “Here, drink this. It’s a good vintage and will go with my roast and your vegetables.” He handed her a goblet filled with red wine.

“Jareth, you can’t say something like that and leave it hanging.” She sipped the wine and wondered if he ever missed anything. His pointed reference to her dinner, versus his, made it obvious that he knew she’d been unable to eat meat of any kind since returning to the Underground. Her experience with the talking worm six years earlier had made a lasting impression.

“I’m not ignoring your question. I thought it would be a good idea for us to have this conversation with some food in our stomachs.” He knew once he ate, it would help refresh his powers.

“You’re probably right,” Sarah laughed softly. “I’ve got a question about something else. Rinda, one of the upstairs maids, said something to me last night.”

“Go on,” he indicated as he cut a slice of meat and slowly raised it to his mouth.

“It’s about my job.” She pondered her wine, unsure how to phrase her question. “Well not my job precisely, but me. She talks to me and treats me like I have some elevated station in the fabric of Underground society. It doesn’t make sense. I’m a human. I have no powers, but she seems to think I do.”

“How much Underground history have you learned?” Jareth kept eating, as he mentally added one more mistake to the long list of his errors in dealing with Sarah. “Beyond the instruction you received yesterday evening, that is.”

“The basics. I’ve been reading Toby’s text books to catch up.”

“Good for you.” He took another bite, chewed and swallowed it before going on. “Then you know who Oberon was?”

“Yes, he found and tamed the Underground so he could lead the people of magic from the above, where they’d been living in harmony with mankind. He had seen the coming of the dark ages, witch hunts, and inquisitions. He brought his people here where they could live safely.”

“That is correct, but what may not be written in the children’s school books is that the doors were left open between the two worlds. Humans could come and go as they pleased. That all changed when old Lord Dennimar was killed.” He sipped his wine, glad that bit of history had already been covered. “A being with power had free access to any world he chose, but mortals were deemed too dangerous and isolated. Now the only humans who live here are the decedents of those who stayed when the portals were sealed from above and the wished-away children.”

“But what does all that have to do with me?”

“It makes you unique. You are the first adult human to be allowed permanent access to the Underground since my grandfather’s time.” Jareth finished his wine in one gulp to fortify his courage. “I would have been a fool to have placed you in a position where your rank was in question.”

“So you did it for my protection?”

“I did it because I have plans for your future.” He was starkly honest and it made her catch her breath. “It answered my needs to have you thought of as aristocracy. I knew that where you came from class was of no importance, but it is here. Now the only true hurdle to my desired outcome has been removed.”

“What outcome, exactly, is that?” Sarah felt cold and dizzy as she asked. She had the strange illusion of time moving very quickly as she spoke, then slowing to a crawl as she waited for his answer.

“I want you. I have from the beginning.” Each word dropped into the cooling night air, sending out a ripple that made Sarah flinch as she absorbed it.

“But I was only a child six years ago,” her voice cracked. He’d finally given voice to something she’d known for a long time. Off in a far distant corner of her mind she wondered why she was so surprised. “You said, yesterday evening, when we talked at Ellamora’s, that a King never would have…that you never would have…seduced a wisher-away,” she accused. Then everything fell into place. “That’s what you meant yesterday afternoon in the Escher room when you said my first trip here had never been about Toby. It was about your need, your wants!”

“This is precisely the conversation I wished to have after dinner.” He scowled and moved his hand over their unfinished meal, making it disappear. He wisely left the wine bottle and goblets. “Six years ago, your brother was not yours to wish away. I’ve yet to discover how you came to have the correct words. Only a parent or one who has total responsibility for a child has the ability to access them.”

“So you just brought me here anyway, because you ‘wanted me’!” She was angry when she thought of her anguish during the hours she’d been in the Labyrinth and her despair the six years following when she’d believed she’d killed a Goblin King. “My God, Jareth, I was too young to understand any of it and it didn’t help that you were so cryptic: ‘fear me, love me and I will be your slave.’ Yeah, that was clear as mud that you weren’t going to hurt Toby…just…just…well that you wanted…that you wanted…me. I would have been immensely flattered, but I couldn’t have…well you know…not then.” Her anger had dissipated over her tirade and she was left blushing and suddenly shy.

“No, you couldn’t have, not then.” He agreed quietly as he rested his palm on her long white neck and rubbed her jaw with his thumb.

“It would have helped if you’d been a bit nicer, too.” She pouted at the memory of being chased by the cleaners and almost falling into the Bog of Eternal Stench. But all of that was in the past and it couldn’t be changed. What was important was where they were going from here.

“I could have been, but I was angry, that something – no, someone – I didn’t want to believe in, really existed. I’ve thought about it a great deal over the years and if I’m brutally honest, I believe that I brought you here then, to try and prove that you meant nothing at all to me.”

“So you ended up hating me six years ago?” It wasn’t what she wanted to hear, but their time for truth had finally come and she wasn’t going to flinch away from it.

“No, my dear,” he whispered. “Your stubborn determination and pride only made me want you more.”

“Oh, well,” she gulped at his honesty. “Then, since we’re being brutally honest with each other,” her lips quivered and tears filled her eyes, making speaking difficult. “I want you, as well. I did back then, too, but it frightened me because I didn’t understand it.” She was tired of fighting her feelings for Jareth, hiding behind half-truths and one out-right lie.

“Does it frighten you now?” he managed to ask through clenched teeth. This was neither the time nor the place for her admission. He pulled her tightly against him to try and relieve the blood pounding in his ears.

“No…well, maybe a little bit, but not like before. I don’t suppose being the King’s mistress would be so bad,” she spoke haltingly against his neck. “There are some countries in the Aboveworld where it can actually elevate a woman’s status in society.” She was trying to make light of a serious situation, but couldn’t find it in herself to laugh.

“Mistress?” he questioned. He gripped her upper arms and pulled her away from him just far enough so their eyes met. He was taking no chances that she might misunderstand. “I’ve never wanted you for my mistress. No wonder you’ve been so skittish around me since you returned. As your absolute monarch it is something I could demand of any female, if it were in my nature, but it is not. I wish to court you….”

“Wait, hold on a second,” she interrupted. “You mean court -- like the word is used in the Underground…like….like pre-engagement?” Her brows rose in astonishment.

“Not only do I wish to court you, but I wish to make you my queen. That has always been my desire.”

“But you can’t.” Tears ran down her face as she realized what he was offering and what it would cost him if she agreed to it. Her days of believing in fairytale endings were long past. Becoming a realist had kept her sane six years ago, now it would keep him safe.

“I am king. I can do whatever I please.” He knew that the High Court would question any marriage choice he made, but especially this one. It was in their nature. More importantly, he knew that in the end he would prevail.

“It’s because you are the Goblin King that I can’t. I’m human. I have no powers and never will have them, unlike the aboveground children who are brought here before puberty.” It had been hard for her to learn that Toby would develop magic as he matured, but she would not, since it was already too late for her. There might have been a chance six years ago, but no longer. “The only status I have is an illusion that you manufactured for me.”

“It’s no illusion,” Jareth shot back. “I could have placed you anywhere in society I choose, it is my right, but if you were not suited to it, it would have only done harm. You are every inch a lady and well-deserving of the title. If you doubt me, ask my mother, or better yet, ask Ellamora. Her standards are stricter, more old-fashioned and far more demanding than the High Court’s.”

“I know about the problems Marilee had when she and Galen wished to marry. Her position was secured at birth. She can trace her ancestors back to the beginning of the Underground. I will not cost you your kingdom or put you in jeopardy in any way.”

They sat very close as the light faded and the first evening stars come out to join the moon. Sarah was determined not to cry, though her heart was breaking. Jareth watched her carefully as he weighed his arguments. She was fated to be his. This time he would not let her go.

“Come here, you’re freezing.” He’d seen her shivering and wasn’t sure if it was their subject or the night air, that was causing the reaction, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Either way he wanted her as close to him as he could get her. He lifted her onto his lap and pulled his cloak around her as he tucked her against his shoulder. “I can’t light a fire. Magic is as disturbed by the smell of smoke as you are.”

“I knew she was a smart horse.” Sarah curled against his warmth, glad that they’d moved on to other things. She’d have this one night sleeping beside him and it would have to last her a lifetime.

“Are you comfortable?” He looked down at her dark head resting on his shoulder.

“Yes, very much so, thank you. You’re nice and warm to snuggle up to.”

“Good,” he snorted in a very un-kingly fashion. “I don’t believe I’ve ever been told that before. I’ve heard that I’m…” She quickly covered his mouth with her palm before he could go on.

“Please, spare me the details!”

He laughed, she was correct, he’d much rather show her, but now was not the time. He settled for pulling her closer to resume his discussion. “First of all, it is because you are human that we will not receive the opposition that Galen did.”

“Jareth, I don’t want to argue with you.” She should have known better than to think he’d give up. She’d never met a being as tenacious as the Goblin King.

“Good, because it’s not my plan either. You need to understand a few political truths. It was the fact that Marilee is of mixed-blood that caused their problem. Each kingdom in the Underground is balanced. None has superiority over the other. If there is discord, hopefully it will be solved diplomatically in the High Court. It is this balance that some individuals believed would be destroyed if my primary aide and advisor had close ties to the kingdom of the elves. Some worried about an unofficial alliance between us. It was feared that, if it existed, our two realms could control the Court. It was ridiculous and unfounded, but the charge was led by old Lord Harlan Dennimar and he had some powerful followers among the High Court at that time.”

“Harlan Dennimar? That would be Mortimer’s grandfather, and the father of the present Lord Dennimar?”

“Yes, old Harlan was bitter and wanted revenge because he believed my grandfather was at fault for his father’s death and the disgrace it brought his family. The only good that came out of the incident was that Sedgwick, the present Lord, saw the damage his father’s continued animosity was doing to the name of Dennimar. Since he inherited the title, he’s done everything in his power to rebuild his family’s reputation and return honor to his name.”

“How were you able to resolve the matter in Galen and Marilee’s favor?”

“It was a simple enough affair, though it could have ended disastrously.” Jareth shook his head at the memory. “Old Harlan was crafty. He waited until days before the wedding to lodge his complaint. His target was Marilee. She was young, barely sixteen. It took the combined efforts of Galen, and her mother to keep her from bolting. As I understand it she had a plan and would have escaped over the boarder into Elvdom if the ruling had gone against them. But in the end it was as simple as Ellamora, Marilee and Galen having to publicly swear allegiance to the Goblin Kingdom. The whole thing was a farce, and a waste of time. Marilee and Galen had been born here and were citizens by right of birth. Nothing more should have been asked of them. Ellamora had already gone through that particular indignity once when she joined my mother’s staff and again when she married Cottsworth, the Fae captain of my father’s personal guard.”

“The problems that have existed between your family and the Dennimars are why you insisted on handling the fight between the boys yesterday, isn’t it?”

“Partly, but I had personal reasons as well. Toby needs male guidance if he’s to grow to his full potential.”

“I appreciate the time you’ve taken with him.”

“And the time I’ve taken with his sister, do you appreciate that as well?” Jareth ran his fingers through her hair, making her sigh.

“Yes, very much.” She pulled back so she was facing him but stayed close enough that she was still sitting on his lap. “You are everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more. You have the power to turn my world upside down and have done it at least twice in my lifetime. I will agree to let you court me, but I cannot promise that I will marry you.” Tears filled her eyes and ran down her face. “It makes no sense, but something keeps me from giving you my word.”

“Don’t you believe me when I say that there will be little or no opposition to our union?” His owl-augmented vision allowed him clearly to see her distress; though he was sure she believed it was well hidden by cover of night.

“I believe that you believe it.” She hated that it sounded as if she doubted him, but she remembered studying the Duke of Windsor in history class. She finally understood why she’d wept so hard when she’d watched the PBS movie ‘Edward and Mrs. Simpson’, for extra credit. “I’m not so sure you can just snap your fingers and get your own way in this. I may not be accused of being able to upset the balance of power in the Underground, but I’m just an ordinary woman.”

“You can hardly call yourself ordinary when you can command the feelings and power of a Goblin King,” his voice was rough with repressed desires.

“That is exactly why they will oppose me.”

Her argument had merit, but it was a nuance Jareth had hoped Sarah would have missed. It was apparent she was far more astute in the ways of his world than he had realized. But it did not matter. To his mind there could only be one outcome to this situation. A king, who could not designate and win the female of his choice, was not strong enough to maintain his title. He planned on keeping both his kingdom and his woman. He was done discussing this matter tonight. They had things to come to terms with, but they could wait until the morning. Now he had more pleasurable pursuits in mind “I find it interesting that you do not ask exactly which emotions of mine that you can command.”

“Because I already know.” Sarah couldn’t help smiling at the doubt on his face. “My dear Sir, your reputation with the ladies precedes you. And I also know that you do find me desirable.” She laughed outright when he growled in agreement and dug his fingers into her sides. “There could only be one reason why you didn’t take me to your bed when you had the chance, twice yesterday and at least once today.”

“Ah well, yesterday is easily explained away. We were never really alone and today, well, today, we had Moonbeam and Magic to worry about.” He sounded as bored as if he were comparing one waistcoat to another.

“No, I don’t think that’s the answer,” she laughed in pure joy for the first time since the fire.

“Then what is it?” he spoke quietly, daring her to tell him the truths he needed to hear.

“It’s that you love me,” her voice broke it was so full of emotion.

“But modern-day Fae don’t believe in love.” Jareth brushed his leather-clad fingers deep into her hair, pulling it back and up away from her face. He wanted to see her smallest expression in the moonlight.

“So I’ve heard said.” With each word Sarah leaned closer. “But since I love you,” she whispered against his lips. “I can only hope that you aren’t all that modern a Fae.”

“I’m not!” his words were decisive as he gave in to the kiss he’d been longing for since he and Moonbeam had appeared in the stable yard at Corramar, hours earlier.

Sarah’s body was on fire as Jareth held her tightly and explored her mouth. She wanted more. She wanted it all, but was unsure how to proceed. Unable to say the words, she reached for his hand and began to tug at one white leather glove.

“What…” He pulled back just far enough to see what she was doing. In the moonlight her face shone as she sat on his lap and carefully worked the supple material off first one of his hands and then the other. He discovered that the dance of her fingers against his palms and wrists was strangely erotic. It made him wonder what it would feel like if she were to remove the rest of his garments, instead of his usual practice of having them simply vanish.

“There,” she sighed and smiled as she bent her head to kiss his palm.

“Sarah!” His fingers twitched and brushed against her face. Jareth wrapped his free arm around her shoulder and would have rolled them to the ground but she stopped him.

“Not yet, please.” Sarah was shy and unsure, but she wanted him to touch her as much as she needed to breathe. She gripped his wrist and pulled his right hand to cover her left breast. As his hand cupped her, she threw her head back and arched her neck. Wonderful sensations hummed through her body.

“Is this what you wanted, my love?” He ran his thumb across her hardening nipple, causing her to cry out.

“I’ve wanted you to touch me like that since we stood on the rocks above, while Magic and Moonbeam joined.” She could hardly get the words around the powerful emotions that curled in her belly and screamed along her nerve endings. She was sure she’d topple to the ground if she wasn’t still gripping his wrist for balance.

He slowly lowered her to the ground wanting to touch every inch of her body, to see her exquisite responses to feeling pleasure for the first time. He covered her body with his as he kissed her deeply. His tongue probed her warm mouth while his fingers tweaked and played along the side of her breast. When he finally relented and grasped her nipple between one long finely sculpted thumb and forefinger, Sarah gasped and pressed her body upward against his.

“You make me feel strange and wild,” her voice shook and she hardly recognized it.

He was amazed how open and responsive she was despite her obvious innocence. He was used to women who were much more experienced and jaded about sex. “The way you make me feel is no less wild.” He rocked his hips against her stomach and gently kneaded her breast at the same time he tweaked her nipple with his thumbnail.

“Jareth, please,” Sarah begged, but her cry was all but drowned out by Moonbeam’s agitated snort and Magic’s surprised whinny.

“Easy, love, easy,” Jareth whispered in frustration. He wrapped both arms around her and held her close. The blood coursed through his veins and his breeches were fitting far tighter than even he was used to wearing them. “The animals are picking up our emotions and it is causing them distress.

“Distress?” Sarah almost choked on the word. “They haven’t a clue what distress really feels like! It’s not fair!” she cried as she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. “We had to put up with their passion.”

“I know, my dear.” He kissed her forehead and then rocked her gently, giving her time for her blood to cool and her passion to subside. “We can’t take the chance on frightening them. Moonbeam might take it into his head to try and transport them away. It could have disastrous results in his exhausted condition.”

“Will you hold me until I fall asleep?” Sarah looked sadly up at Jareth. She had wanted one perfect night with him and now that wasn’t going to happen. She’d have to settle for what she could get.

“I plan on holding you for a lot longer than that.”

“Jareth…..” She frowned, too tired to fight him anymore so she didn’t even finish her sentence.

“Hush, sweet. Turn over and put your head on my shoulder.” As she did so he pulled her back tightly against his body. Once his cape was securely wrapped around them, Jareth slid his right hand up her rib cage until he cupped her left breast. “Now sleep, and know I’m right here with you.”

“You’re not making this easy for me, you know.” She murmured as she covered his bare hand with hers. When he touched her like that, all she wanted to do was feel his skin next to hers. She doubted she’d get any sleep at all that night.

“I don’t intend to, my love, not in the least bit easy for you. You are mine and there is no going back now.” He was spared an argument because Sarah was sound asleep, despite her doubts.


To Ch 8 - Learning Curve

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
*pout* Okay..I need more! Please tell me you'll post more soon.
lattelady6
Jul. 14th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
I'm never sure if unsigned comments get replies, but I always try anyway. Put your mind at ease. I just sent the next chapter to my beta a few minutes ago. She does live in New Zealand so it always takes extra turnaround time due to the 18 hour time difference. With luck something should be posted by the end of the week.

Thanks for reading and caring enough to comment.
jen_chan13
Jul. 18th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
alright, so i've actually just reviewed at ff.net on this story, but i was surprised to find you in both places, cause so few people are. anyway, this totally deserves a comment to say how amazingly awesome you are, and that i cannot wait for the next chapter. someone totally loves you!!!! i'm so impatient for the next chapter now!! please update soon! ^____^
lattelady6
Jul. 18th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for reviewing again. Not to worry, if I like a story, I review it where ever I see it. I like to support authers who I think do a good job. Your support is appreciated.

The next chapter will go to my beta shortly. It needs a bit of tightening and she is out of computer contact at the moment. I had hoped to send it off to her and have it back by now, but with her out of town it gives me a chance to go over the story one last time. The poor woman will return and find her email box full!
bowiebabe1973
Jul. 26th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
Looking forward to the next update. :)
lattelady6
Jul. 26th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
I'll be posting the next chapter within the next hour. Thanks for reading.

Phyllis
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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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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