A/N: Welcome to my new story! This one is more light-hearted that my first story, Windows of the Soul. I'm not done with it yet, but it will also be quite a bit shorter than Windows too. I already posted the first part at the end of Windows, but so feel free to skip this bit below if you've already read it. The first few chapters are uber short, but they get longer as we go. I have no schedule for posting just yet, since this one is so short and I'm on the 6th of what will probably be about 7-8 chapters. I would like to promise at least once a week updates, but again, I will post more often when I have a good cushion between where I'm posting and where I'm writing, and slower when the posting starts to catch up to me. As always, if you like it, send me a review/follow/fave to let me know!
Disclaimer: I don't own nuttin!
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 positon 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. 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.