A/N: Here it is! The End! I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me thus far. Many thanks for your reviews, many thanks for those who followed/faved this story. It's been a long journey, and I'm grateful that you took the time to walk it with me.
Chapter 36: Aftermath
After consulting with Lilac, they set a tentative date of a month hence for the wedding. They were very busy in the coming days. It was not just more wedding things that needed to be planned, but also the aftermath of the attack. Sarah had not been able to fully heal the Labyrinth walls. What she had managed to accomplish was to seal off the cracks that had been leaking vital Magic, like cauterizing a wound to stop it from bleeding.
Jareth was in charge of repairing—more like re-growing—the walls, but his abilities were severely limited. Normally it would have been no problem to channel Magic into the wounded sections, but the Labyrinth was low on Magic already, and every time he tried to use magic, his wounds began bleeding again. For someone that had breathed and lived by magic from the time he was born, it was like being crippled, missing two arms and half his senses. It put him in a rather cross mood.
Lilac flat out had no sympathy for his struggle or his temper. She refused to deal with him if he was just going to snap at her, which mostly left Sarah and the goblins to take the brunt of it. The first time he yelled at Sarah—over something so insignificant he couldn't remember what it was five minutes later—she shouted right back at him and walked away with tears in her eyes. Remorse hit him strong, and he called for her.
She did not turn around. He followed her on legs that weren't entirely steady, and caught up to her without the use of magic. He apologized profusely. She made him grovel a little before accepting his apology, and he vowed to be better for her. From then on she made an effort to distract him when he grew frustrated, and he worked on releasing his temper in more constructive ways.
Jareth could not complete cut magic from his life. He was the Goblin King, and too many people depended on him. He needed magic just for his connection to the Labyrinth, to make sure his subjects were safe and protected. Sarah offered to take up some of the magic burdens so they might split it between them, but he flatly refused. She was more than capable of it, but he didn't want her to feel the pain every time she used magic.
Unsurprisingly, she healed faster than him. A week after the attack on the Labyrinth, Sarah was able to shed her bandages, and by the time ten days had passed, the scars were merely thin lines going up her arms. She reported that once her arms were healed, it no longer hurt to use magic. That was something which had worried Jareth greatly, for what was a Goblin King without magic?
There were still trolls in the Labyrinth. Jareth was all for forming a hunting party and putting a bounty on the trolls, but Sarah urged him to leniency.
"I think you should let them be," she said. "They can't get out of the Labyrinth, and they're cut off from their kind. If they can learn to live in peace with the other peoples of the Labyrinth, they should be given a chance to prove themselves. And if they can't, our people are more than capable of defending themselves."
"You would let them go," he asked incredulously, "After what they did to you?"
"They did it to me," she pointed out, "And I know you have suffered because of them as well, but don't you think I should have some say in what happens to them?" She stubbornly refused to back down on her stance, and after she kissed him sweetly, he found himself agreeing with her.
There was one person, however, that he refused to show mercy on. There was a Fae that had gathered the nomadic, tribal trolls into the army, and convinced the ogres and giants to join them. It was the Fae that had kidnapped Sarah, conducted her torture and damaged her mind. It was the Fae that unleashed a source of magic great enough to damage his Labyrinth. Jareth knew the Fae was still out there. Sarah had not destroyed him like she had so much of the army. The Goblin King had his spies and assassins searching for the Fae, and eventually, they found him.
Despite the pain of using magic, Jareth transported both of them into an oubliette as soon as his spies brought the Fae into the Labyrinth. He recognized the Fae from Sarah's memories. A Fae could use glamour to change their appearance, but their essence never changed. The Fae flinched when Jareth appeared in the oubliette in front of him. There was terror in the Fae's eyes, and it was well deserved. For over an hour, the Goblin King proved how cruel he could be to those who attacked the ones he loved. He made sure the Fae knew exactly how much Sarah had suffered because of him, and then he let the goblins, who loved Sarah as their Queen and mother, to have the Fae. The only limit Jareth set was that after twenty-six hours, the Fae was to be executed. He did not attend the execution.
Sarah guessed the reason behind his sudden disappearance, and was pacing in the guest bedroom when he appeared there. She rounded on him, ready to scold for his reckless use of magic, but the look on his face stopped her. He crushed her to him, needing to feel her vibrant life against his. Dealing with the Fae made him exhausted, angry and used, but being with his Heart washed it all away.
Unsurprisingly, his back was bleeding rather badly. Sarah knew almost as much as Lilac about tending him now, so he submitted to her attentions as she wiped the blood away and redid his bandages. As she worked on him, he confessed his actions to her. Afterward, while he was still lying face down on the bed, she ran her fingers through his hair tenderly.
"It's like you're trying to chase me away with what you did," she said, "But I knew the kind of man you were when I agreed to marry you. I might have wished you were more merciful, not for his sake but for yours, so that you would not feel so awful now. But I understand that was past your limit. I still love you, Jareth, and nothing you can do will change that."
"Stay with me?" he asked, when she moved to get off the bed. She settled next to him. She held him for once, ever mindful of his back. They shared warmth, staring into each other's eyes as if that was all they needed.
"Tell me you love me," she said.
"I love you," he replied promptly.
She giggled. "I love hearing you say that. Tell me again."
He complied, and for a time there was no thought other than the love between them.
In the end, it was closer to six weeks before Jareth healed sufficiently for the wedding. Sarah took to managing him, taking over some of his magic duties as she was already healed. His progress was better after that, until the day came that he stood before an alter to wait for her. He supposed he should have been a nervous wreck at finally joining his Heart in matrimony, but after all they had already been through, the actual wedding was a piece of cake.
When Sarah appeared, he thought she was the most radiant creature he had ever seen. He couldn't have said what she was wearing, but he face glowed with joy. Her heart raced alongside his in his chest. Not in nervousness, but anticipation. The ceremony was simple, though the venue was quite large to account for the size and number of the guests. Skyterror was there, and appeared particularly fond of the new Queen. The Queen's Guard was quite in evidence, and no one got too rowdy for comfort. They repeated the words that would bind them forever, and a cheer went up that seemed to shake the sky.
Through the wedding breakfast and the dancing that followed, Jareth and Sarah were inseparable. Technically they should have danced with others, but no one in the Labyrinth who knew their struggle could blame them for clinging so fiercely to each other. The festivities continued for days. No one quite knew when the royal couple slipped away to be with each other, but many toasts were raised in their honor.
So began the married life of the Goblin King and Queen. The Trial of the Labyrinth would always protect his Heart, and there were many years of bliss between them.
One Year Later
Jareth carried his wife into their room despite her protests.
"I'm going to be too big for you to carry around like this," she said, though she rested her head on his shoulder and didn't struggle.
"Not possible," he assured her, kissing her forehead. He set her down on the bed, carefully propping pillows around her.
She yawned tiredly. "Thanks, Jareth. Who knew anniversary parties were so large?"
He grinned as he undressed and laid next to her. "You should see the hundredth anniversary party, or the thousandth."
Her eyes widened, and she laughed, chucking a pillow at him. "I want to elope!" she declared.
He swatted the pillow aside and smirked at her. "We're already married, or did you forget that?" He pounced on her and proceeded to kiss her breathless.
"No," she panted, "I haven't forgotten."
His eyes danced with mirth. "Can I…?"
Now she smirked. "You never have to ask for that."
So he undressed her slowly, laying sensuous kisses to her skin as it was bared to him. She gasped and arched, until he finally reached his destination. He stared in wonder at her.
"Where?" he asked huskily. She took his hand and pressed it to her. He only had to wait a couple seconds before Sarah jumped, and he felt a solid thump against his palm. Smiling, he kissed the place where his child had kicked. He curled around his Heart, worshiping the stomach that carried his daughter inside.
"Easy, little one," he murmured against Sarah's skin, and felt the baby rolling inside. She liked the sound of his voice. He began to sing to her, and she quieted. Sarah watched fondly as Jareth nurtured their child before she was even born. She was well into her third trimester, and her husband was fascinated with every aspect of her pregnancy.
"This is all you," he said in wonder. "Look at what you've done."
"I seem to recall that you were involved as well," she said, running her fingers through his hair.
"And the finest thing I've ever done," he agreed. "I hope she has your hair."
"I hope she has your eyes."
He recoiled slightly, remembering the troubles his eyes had given him. "Why would you want her to have my eyes?"
"Because she is ours. I love you, Jareth, and I want her to have as much from you as she does from me."
"If she has my eyes, it will not be easy for her."
"But I would not love her any less. Your eyes are like you, unique and kind and beautiful. I cannot look at your eyes without seeing your love for me, without knowing your goodness."
"Sarah," he breathed, "I love you so much." He kissed her helplessly.
"I love you too."
After all, the eyes are the windows of the soul.
A/N2: Well, that was it! Tell me what you think of it!
I'm also writing another Labyrinth story right now. It's not going to be anywhere near as long as Windows, and it's a more light-hearted premise. I don't know when I'm going to be posting it, since I haven't finished it yet, but below is a preview for the story. Let me know if it sounds interesting.
Blurb: Paternal Jareth. But what no one knew was that the Goblin King had fallen in love with the boy, and gave him certain powers… Even though Sarah stole her brother back, Jareth still thinks of Toby as his son.
The wished-away children saved the Underground. The Fae were an ancient race. They were a dying race. If not for the wished-away children, the Fae would have gone extinct millennia ago. Only by marrying and mingling their blood with the wished-away children were the Fae able to reclaim a measure of vitality. The magic in the Underground was so potent that it transformed the humans, giving them Fae-like powers. Within two generations, those descended from humans were indistinguishable from full-blooded Fae. At first there was prejudice against those with human blood, but it became clear that without a measure of human blood, all Fae would have died. Over time, no one was left that could claim pure Fae descent.
Since the wished-away were so important to the Underground, the Labyrinth became indispensable to Fae survival, and the Goblin King was a vital figure to his race. He was in charge of collecting the wished-away children, and once the runners failed, placing said children into Fae homes where they might be raised with love.
Jareth had been the Goblin King for a long time. After centuries of placing children into other homes, he finally made the choice to become a father himself. He had no bride, but that was not needed to adopt one of the wished-aways. There was always a need for more children, but no one blamed the Goblin King for wanting a child of his own.
It so happened that the next child to be wished away was a boy not yet one year old. Even though the child was not yet his until thirteen hours had passed, Jareth was instantly in love with his son. He had seen it happen many times with the children he gave to Fae families. Always he had wondered how the parents could so thoroughly love children not of their own blood. Even those with blood children were eager to accept a human infant into their hearts. Some families asked for more than one wished-away, though there was no shortage of families waiting for children.
Now he knew what it was like, to hold this helpless child in his arms and know the babe depended on him for everything. In the flush of his joy over holding his son, he didn't pay as close attention to the runner as he should have. The girl got much further than he expected. He began to feel a chill that she might actually succeed and take his son from him. That was the reason he did not place children with their families before the runner failed, just in case the child was stolen back from him. But it had never happened in all his time as the Goblin King, and in his arrogance he thought his Labyrinth unbeatable.
As he held his son, for the first time he wondered if he was truly enough. He did not as a rule allow children to go to families unless the parents were already a bonded pair. The custom had been waved for his sake, but now he wondered if he should take a mate so his son was raised in a stable home. He felt overwhelmingly protective of his son. There were many Fae women in in the Underground that wished to marry his for his position and power. How could he be sure that his mate loved the child as much as he did? And how could he distract the runner, so that he might not lose his son to her?
The answer came to him that he might court the runner. She had wished away the child in the first place, but she obviously cared for the babe if she was striving so hard to get him back. She was young still, but age mattered little to the immortal Fae. So he created a dream for her, that he might test her willingness to accept him. She seemed amenable, though she was too concerned for the child to fully succumb to him.
The runner would not be deterred from her goal of reaching the child. In the end, he begged her to stay, begged her to love him, to not take his son and break his heart. It was all to no avail. She shattered his kingdom with her words. She stole his son away from him, the child that was never meant to be his.
Afterwards, she celebrated with his subjects. He watched from the window as his subjects played games and danced with the child-thief. His heart was heavy and full of grief. He flew around the side of the house and peered into the window at the child that should have been his. The boy was disturbed by the noises next door and starting to fuss. The girl, for all that she had won the child back, did not notice. Jareth could not bear to watch the child struggle against his coverings. With a burst of magic, he flew into the room for a second time.
"Hush, my…" he began, and realized that he could not call the boy his son any longer. He reached out and patted the babe. The infant stared up at him trustingly.
"You could have been my son," he whispered, feeling the pain of loss freshly. He was not ready to say goodbye just yet. He lingered for a time, soothing the lonely boy. On a whim, he conjured a crystal and waved it in front of the child. The infant's eyes tracked the bright shape curiously.
"It's just a crystal, nothing more, but if you turn it this way, it will show you your dreams," he said, and couldn't help but to peer into the crystal to see the boy's dream. Right now the child was dreaming of a warm bottle, being held in someone's arms, and a soothing lullaby. Without hesitation, the babe reached up and seized the crystal. Jareth stared in astonishment. The boy shook the crystal, and began to fuss when his dreams did not appear. If he cried too loud, the girl next door would hear and come in, and Jareth's time with the boy would be at an end.
The child stared at him with a crumpled face, and held out his arms in a universal gesture. The Goblin King was helpless to resist the call of the boy that would have been his son. He picked up the child, feeling again the surge of love for the small human. He rocked the boy, and settled him deeper in his arms. He conjured a warm bottle, and began singing to complete the dream. The boy gurgled contentedly. Perhaps… all hope was not lost. He could not take the boy to the Underground with him, but the infant had freely accepted his presence. He could still visit his son, in the Aboveground.
"This family might have you, but never forget that I love you, my son," he told the boy that was his. "Should you have need of me, all you must do is call and I will come for you. And perhaps… one day, when you are old enough to choose, you might come to live with me."
Jareth stayed with his son for a long time. He sat in a rocking chair in the nursery, ceaselessly rocking his son to sleep. The party in the next room helped cover any noise he made while he talked and sang to his son. He did not dare to set him down, for he didn't know when he might have another chance to hold him. Eventually though, the party began to wind down, and there was quiet. He heard the girl moving about as she cleaned the mess his subjects made. Usually their penchant for chaos made his kingdom difficult to run, but this time he smiled and made no effort to help her. The boy was sleeping on his chest, drool making his shirt damp. The Goblin King would have it no other way.
When the girl finally stirred herself to check on the boy—long after Jareth thought she should have—he was forced to return his son to the crib and hide outside. He was exhausted after a long night of trying to keep the girl from his son, and then staying up to comfort his son afterwards. Reluctantly, he flew away to his kingdom. He would return later for his son.