Credit: The prompt of interrupted/accidental marriage was 100 percent inspired by the fic Wedding Bells by whythokylo (OpalElephant) on AO3. It's an awesome(!) WIP in the Star Wars fandom (Reylo). Seriously go read it if you like that pairing. Or even if you don't, read it anyway. I really, really hope she finishes it.
I've never done this before (borrowed someone else's idea) so when I got this plot bunny to adapt it for Labyrinth I immediately reached out to the author, who was most gracious and lent me her permission (many thanks!). This chapter mirrors her first chapter in plot. Credit needs to go to her for that idea.
The rest of the story will veer away sharply (and be wholly mine) but damned if this scenario was just TOO fun to write. I had to explore this scenario with our dynamic duo.
"In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice which is still very much practiced."
It was all Hoggle's fault.
Or at least that's what Sarah would tell herself later. A balm to soothe her wounded pride.
It was his fault she'd even been in the Underground, she reasoned. His fault she'd gotten turned around. For a caretaker he really was abysmal with directions. His fault she'd opened the door the wrong way. Again.
And most assuredly his fault for not warning her what was happening on the other side. If you open it this way...
As Sarah stepped through the door she gracelessly tripped over the uneven flag stone and swore.
The first indication that she was decidedly NOT in the Goblin Market, was the fact that her creative profanity echoed rather spectacularly. The second indication that she was not amongst the lower denizens of the Labyrinth, ready to barter and trade their wares, was the sudden hushed silence followed by exclamations of surprise and indignation.
The third and final, most damning, indication was the realization that she was clearly crashing some sort of ceremony.
"Oh… Fuck," Sarah breathed. It echoed just as loudly in what appeared to be a great hall.
Two hundred odd faces peered back at her – their expressions a cross between amusement and censure. The beautiful guests were quite lavishly dressed for what was evidently a celebration. A further scan suggested a wedding. The hall itself, whose tall walls were intricately carved, had no roof, so that the skies in every shade of azure and crimson was its canopy. It was breathtaking, Sarah would admit later when she'd had time to reflect, had it not been festooned with flowers, candles, crystals, and gaudy accents of chartreuse.
She immediately turned around to flee but the door she'd just come through – the one that should have led to the Goblin Market stalls had she opened it the right way – was, because of course, gone.
The couple-to-be were kneeling facing a stone, rather archaic looking, altar. The priest, or whatever kind of officiant he was, held a braided cord and a rather lethal looking dagger. He was obviously on the cusp of binding the bride and groom. In fact he looked just as surprised as Sarah – their faces almost comically mirrored - until his cleared into another expression altogether. One that might have alarmed her had she thought about it long enough. He looked expectantly towards the bride.
The hitherto silent crowd began to murmur. The hush rising to something almost alive with anticipation. There was a spike of energy in the air that even Sarah felt. It made the hair on her neck prickle.
She was keenly aware that everyone was looking at her and then back at the bride. Keenly aware that she was underdressed and uninvited. Keenly aware that she was mortal in a room full of magical beings.
Two things happened at once.
A small, knightly voice, said, "My Lady?" and the bride leapt to her feet with a shrill shriek of indignation. Sarah only had a moment to register that the speaker was Sir Didymus, and that he was staring at her rather hopefully, dressed in the most ridiculous page boy outfit she'd ever seen, before the bride was running full tilt down the aisle towards her. Belatedly she realized that the bride must have snatched the ceremonial blade and was brandishing it like she'd very much like to gut Sarah with it.
Sarah could well-understand her being upset that she'd interrupted her wedding, but murder seemed a bit of an overreaction. Before the bride could close the distance, Sir Didymus, who'd clearly leapt into knightly action and followed the murderous bride, tossed his spear gallantly to Sarah.
Sarah caught it after it smacked into her face. Sarah braced herself, eyes wide and nose throbbing. None of the other guests seem invested in stopping either Sarah or the bride, but were content to watch the inevitable battle. With a sinking sense of impending doom, she realized she was entirely on her own.
And the Doom did come, though not in the way she had expected.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that one should never run with sharp things. All creatures know that.
The bride, her pinched face a mask of fury, had clearly forgotten. The uneven flagstone of the hall found its second victim. She went down in a flurry of silk and skirts. There was a grunt, a rather disgusting squelching sound and then a moan. The woman rolled onto her back, her face now pinched in pain and disbelief, as she clutched her side. The gilded hilt of the dagger protruded from the chartreuse dress – now slowly staining red.
Sarah gaped at her, her own disbelief patent. All she had wanted to do was find her ring. The one she'd given to the Wiseman so many years ago. The one Hoggle had sworn he'd seen for sale amongst the baubles and trinkets. Maybe pick up some goblin tchotchkes for Toby.
But instead bloodshed.
She mouthed a sorry at the bride, though later she would consider it rather charitable of her. The bride would certainly not have apologized for impaling her. Still, she reasoned that though she was having a no good, very bad day, the bride was probably having a worse one – first an interrupted wedding and now a nasty knife wound, albeit self-inflicted. Not exactly every girl's dream.
Add salt to the wound that the groom didn't seem overly concerned neither by the interruption nor by his wife-to-be's injury. She looked up right into the mismatched eyes of an approaching Goblin King.
Sarah swore for the third time, this time uncaring of her breach in decorum. She immediately opened her mouth to apologize, though unsure what she'd say beyond, hey, long time no see. What's it been? Like 10 years? Sorry for ruining your wedding. Congratulations. Oh and double sorry for indirectly causing your wife to stab herself. We should grab coffee sometime.
Of course she didn't get a chance to say of it.
The Goblin King, eyes locked on Sarah's face with an expression that was part amusement, part something altogether more intense, extended a hand and said, "I accept."
His words echoed far louder than any of Sarah's epithets. The crowd exhaled collectively, like they'd been holding their breath in anticipation of how everything played out.
Distantly, she caught whispers of, 'the Champion', and 'the girl who ate the peach', and 'I'm so glad I came today after all, I love a good stabbing'.
Before she could return more than a brief look of confusion, he took her hand and folded it into his own, recognizing that she was apparently not going to touch him willingly.
Sarah jerked as though stabbed herself. He was not wearing his usual gloves, and his hand was strong and surprisingly warm around hers. Something like electricity sparked against her skin.
It jolted her into awareness. "Wait… accept what?" She tugged on her hand, but his grip was implacable.
"Your offer of marriage," he replied evenly.
Sarah stopped pulling altogether. "… excuse me… MY WHAT?"
Jareth ignored her outburst and flicked his hand imperiously at the officiant. The be-robed man jumped into action and began hurrying down the aisle.
Sarah looked to the guests for confirmation that their monarch was certifiable.
Nothing. Not one flicker of surprise.
She shook her head and hissed, "I'm not sure what's going on here but I most certainly did not ask you to marry me."
Jareth's lip curled just enough to rankle even more. "Oh, but you did."
Despite what the current predicament suggested, Sarah was, in fact, not stupid. It occurred to her that marriages worked differently in the underground. It would have been easy for her to misstep during such a foreign ceremony. Literally. As the fallen, and stabbed, bride proved.
Sarah forced a calm she decidedly did not feel into her voice. "Supposing I INADVERTANTLY AND UNINTENIONALLY, somehow asked you to," she swallowed the overwhelming sense of panic, "marry me. It was an accident and I take it back."
Jareth's mouth formed a full smile that did nothing to relax her. "You take it back..."
Sarah nodded vigorously.
Thin lips twitched and Sarah anticipated he was going to enjoy what he said next. "What's said is said."
"Not that again," she pulled a face. "And I literally said nothing."
"Actually your language thus far has been fairly… colourful. But true. You said nothing. Nothing needed to be spoken. Your actions are what matters. You stopped a very ancient Underground rite at," he finished with relish, "the precise time it could be stopped."
"As you say," he agreed cordially. "But the fact remains you accidentally challenged the bride for the right to wed the king. A very sacred honour and one not to be undertaken lightly."
"It was undertaken accidentally!" Sarah protested, feeling like everything was spinning.
"Yes, you keep saying that like you expect it to change something. The point is you won." He leaned in so only she could hear the last, his breath fanning hotly on the shell of her ear in a way that made her nerves dance. "Again."
Sarah stopped her fight for a minute, both shell-shocked and acutely aware everyone in the hall was hanging on every word they exchanged.
Feeling her small submission, Jareth tightened his hold on her hand. "This time I'm far from angry. Consider me in your debt, precious." He eyed the fallen bride. "Arranged marriages are always a disappointment. Her blood spilling first marks her defeat."
"Aha! But she cut herself. I didn't even touch her!"
Jareth ignored her burst of enthusiasm. "And your victory demonstrates both your worthiness to take her place and, more importantly, your desire to do so." There was no mistaking the smug satisfaction in his words, nor the look he gave her. "I accept your offering."
Somewhere amongst the guests a voice sighed like it was the most romantic thing heard. Sarah realized it was Didymus.
Right then and there she decided she would absolutely kill Hoggle. Rend him limb from limb. The bog was far too good for him.
That would have to wait of course. The immediate threat was standing by her side – far too closely. Her voice warbled only slightly when she spoke. "You must know I have no intention of marrying you."
If the victorious look he directed her felt like a slap in the face, the words he spoke next were an absolute cudgel.
"My dear, champion, you already did."
Dun Dun Dun!
I love the arranged marriage/ forced marriage trope. Here's the accidental one.
This will probably be borderline crack. Definitely lighter fare than the Goblin Market and the fic which shall not be named*. I should be working on that one but I've had this pressing on my brain for months and I needed to get it out. *breathes deeply and groans* That's better.
Thanks to LFFL for working as a sounding board for ceremony ideas. More on that later.
*I swear to GOD I am almost ready to post the next chap to Tanglewood. It's written - I'm just editing it because I keep changing my damn mind about order of events (whines pathetically).