AN: What's that? An update? No, I wasn't hacked :)
Corn can't expect justice from a court composed of chickens.
Sarah smoothed a hand down her suit, palm decidedly sweaty.
She had pled her case in the ridiculous court and somehow she'd fucking won.
It would all be over now. She might even sleep in her own bed that very evening, with nary a chartreuse ruffle in sight.
It somehow didn't quite feel like a real victory, despite the steady drone of incredulous voices still marvelling over the verdict behind her. Something plucked at the fine hairs of her neck and prickled her skin like an itch. There wasn't the usual level of elation either. That rush of adrenaline - not unlike the same that came from winning a game of Risk without resorting to flipping the board - was missing. No one shook her hand in congratulations. And more than likely no one would unless she shook her own. Even the Wiseman had disappeared without a word.
Later she would recognize it as the prescient feeling that it had all been too easy. That subconsciously she was always ready for it to go to shit.
Feeling eyes on her back that were the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, Sarah canted her head slightly. Rhiannon smirked in her peripheral vision and then gave her the exaggerated slow clap whose meaning was unmistakable both above and below ground apparently. Ignoring the fae she scanned the rest of the seats. Morrigan's was empty, sparing her whatever immediate fate might have been in store. It had not escaped her that she'd just publicly humiliated the Goddess of Death's nephew. Probably not something that would endear her overly much.
Amidst the motley spectators, Sarah saw gold coins clinking between hands. She perceived more than a few sour faces from those who'd obviously bet on her losing, and then she spotted Cern, his handsome face usually full of mirth at someone else's expense, was surprisingly taciturn. He held her eyes briefly, expression guarded, and then looked just beyond her. He gave a clipped nod and he too left.
Stealing herself, she finally turned. If she truly wasn't the coward he called her, she'd have to address the husband in the room.
Jareth sat on then edge of the stone bench, absently rolling a crystal across the uneven surface. He was seemingly ignoring the utter pandemonium behind them. Several well-dressed guests were gesticulating wildly at him and unleashing a stream of what Sarah could only guess was outrage and concern. He simply looked pensive. If she'd expected a crack of thunder and a fanfare of glitter at the verdict, she was sorely disappointed because he offered her no discernable reaction at all.
Her papers still lay scattered across the amphitheatre floor where she'd thrown them in premature defeat. All the words she had tirelessly transcribed when as it turned out the only ones that mattered were the same she'd thrown in his face all those years before. She was mortified to feel a little insidious trace of guilt begin to pollute her victory. And then annoyed at herself when she allowed it. Harsh perhaps, but she'd given him chances to set things right. She'd tried to end it amicably. Talk it out. Many times. He'd forced her hand really.
As though he'd heard her thoughts perfectly clear, his head finally tilted in her direction. His expression was one she had not quite expected. There was some anticipated coolness in his eyes, and a tightness about his jaw that belied the casual pose. She searched his face. Was he angry? Hurt? Embarrassed? When she finally settled on one something she thought recognized, her own brow furrowed.
His lips curled into the ghost of a smile and Muskul's words came careening back just as everything went to hell. Keeping his eyes on her he mouthed, three, two one.
"Oye! OYE! Settle down, ye bastards!" roared the Gryphon. "Show some respect for this court!" His words might have resonated more if spittle and bits of masticated jury hadn't sprayed those in the immediate splash zone. But fear works just as quickly as respect in the right circumstances, and the court attendees took their seats again.
"You lot weren't dismissed. Hrrjack." It paced, irritability making it sound more and more like an extra on Coronation St. "The binding cord of the union still needs to be severed to make it official."
Would the day never end? Sarah thought miserably, but at least it meant she hadn't imagined the verdict.
She decided then and there she'd properly celebrate with a bottle of Champagne, the good kind, and a family sized worth of Thai take-out from her favourite restaurant when she got home. Her stomach ctually groaned audibly in anticipation.
"Over…ruled," replied the hawthorn.
The Gryphon continued as though the tree had not spoken. "Present the bound hands so they may be bitten off." He affected a toothy smile as though the request were entirely reasonable.
"I'm sorry, what?" Sarah's head snapped up, shaking off the fog of victory and spring rolls that had preoccupied her. She stared first at the beast, and then disbelievingly to Jareth.
"The law is the law," the Goblin King replied easily. "Such a pity. "And then he began removing a glove as though no more than a manicure awaited him. "You did win fair and square."
"Place your hands here," said the Gryphon. Or that's what he attempted to say. Unfortunately already opened his beak before he spoke and it sounded more like, "Lace yah han huh." He motioned with a claw though so the message was clear.
Sarah couldn't breathe. The late afternoon sun was stifling and her dark suit had become a yoke. Saturated with a day's worth of humidity, the confidence it had bolstered began to fade. She undid another button. She was hungry and dehydrated. Just talk your way out of it, Williams. Like when you were found in contempt of court for righteously calling that sexist prosecutor a douche bag. This is probably just a trick. A test of will or something. It won't actually bite. The Goblin King wouldn't allow that. He likes playing with his balls far too much to lose a hand.
"But you know," Jareth remarked with a suspicious amount of aplomb for someone publicly humiliated and facing the loss of a limb. "Perhaps before we proceed to this portion of today's entertainment," he paused to allow the expected titters from the crowd, "we might beg the court's indulgence and assistance…"
There it is, thought Sarah, relaxing marginally. It was a petty last scare. Now would come the reprieve.
"…In the trial of Sarah Williams."
Her face dropped. The crowd, who had been on an absolute trip all day, gave another collective gasp as the surprise Act II was set to begin.
"You see," Jareth tugged his glove back down. "I just recalled that there were several grievances brought to me after Ms. William's first visit to my lands. As memory serves it took several days to hear them all in their entirety. At the time there was little that could be done. She'd taken herself aboveground and beyond my reach. Champion of the Labyrinth as it were. Imagine though, my surprise at so recently finding her an uninvited witness at my wedding. And then, by her own actions, my bride. Well," he turned so he could fully address the guests as he affected a casual stroll, "I could hardly allow my wife and Goblin Queen to stand trial for crimes against the Kingdom. I owed her my protection after all and," he paused for the full effect, "I can be generous."
There were murmurs of agreement and even, Sarah realized, a smattering of applause. She felt nauseated despite the empty stomach.
"But now," Jareth paused again to catch Sarah's eye. "But now she is nothing to me as she so publicly declared. Which means her presence is little more than that of a trespasser. And I would be a tyrant indeed if I so ignored the sufferings of my people when I was presented the opportunity to right a wrong."
A hush stole over everyone as they digested this new bit of information, and then more tentative applause followed.
The Gryphon snapped his beak shut in a sulk at being denied something far fresher than the jury. "Are you suggesting we now put your wife on trial?"
"Former wife," Jareth reminded him. He placed a hand on his heart like he was pained to say it. "Unfit as I am to be her husband."
Jareth cocked a brow at Sarah. "A little late to change your mind. What's said is said."
"This is a complete joke," she spat caustically, all vestiges of guilt gone. She was sweaty. She was starving. And she was pissed off. "This is nothing more than a… a Kangaroo court!"
The Gryphon snarled viciously. "What did she just call me?!"
"A kangaroo," shouted a helpful spectator from somewhere in the nosebleeds.
The Gryphon looked positively apoplectic. Unfortunately Sarah couldn't possibly know how he felt about Australia.
"No, that's not what I-"
"Proceed with the trial!"
The liveried guards jumped into immediate action. A large stump, almost completely petrified by age, was dragged into the centre of the court by four burly guards. Before she could protest further Sarah was escorted by two more and forcibly seated upon it.
Almost immediately the gnarled roots of the stump slithered and coiled about her ankles, and rose to twine about her wrists, effectively locking her in place. "What the-" she startled. "Is this really necessary?"
Jareth folded his arms. "I have to agree. Just because she has a history of running away does not mean that should be held against her."
The Gryphon scowled down at her. "Aha! They stay."
Sarah pulled at the roots but they were like iron. She shot a venomous glare at Jareth. "The first thing I will do is chop this stupid stump up into firewood and use it to burn down your stupid castle."
"That… was… my… grandmother," the rowan shook indigenously; spraying the first three rows in berries.
She cast her eyes to the heavens, wishing the ground would just swallow her whole.
A wish she would naturally come to regret later.
"Call out the first witness."
There was the sound of a struggle, some shouting, more struggling and what sounded like someone being hit with a frying pan, so that when Sarah finally craned her head to look she saw that quite a queue had formed - many still vying to be first. Goblins were notoriously bad at queuing in general. They never quite knew if they were lining up for week's portion of goblin ale, or if lining up to be bogged. It tended to cause chaos as a result. With some shoves and a few kicks from the guards some semblance of order was finally established. Sarah could not make out the end of the line.
"Could I at least have a glass of water before we proceed?" Sarah directed the question to the Gryphon.
"Ah." Jareth answered instead. "If we were still married it would be within my capacity to fulfill that request. My duty even. Offering hospitality to an alleged enemy of the state on the other hand would just make me weak, wouldn't it? And I think you've managed that enough today."
"Excellent point," the Gryphon agreed with a snap. "Proceed."
The first witness that stepped forward Sarah had never seen in her life. She could only assume he was some sort of pixie or brownie, or very vertically challenged goblin, he was that diminutive in stature. The glare he directed her was full-bodied however, with not-so-subtle hints of loathing and a soupcon of abject dislike. Things were clearly not off to an auspicious start.
Sarah barely supressed a laugh when he spoke though. His voice was high pitched and verging on squeaky, and his words tumbled out at furious pace. The only one she caught was what sounded like "Aardvark." He motioned behind him and two more creatures of similar proportions dragged a square stone tiles between them. They dropped it at her feet. A red arrow, much faded but still obvious in, pointed towards her like it too had a bone to pick.
Sarah's eyes widened in slow recognition. "My marks! You are the ones who moved them!"
There was more furious noises from the creatures.
"Come, come, Sarah. You don't make the accusations here. Your time for that is over. It would be a shame if I had to gag you." Jareth sounded like he'd relish nothing more.
"She is a-writing on the fragging walk-walk!" cried the brownie.
The Gryphon bent his ear sympathetically. "She is-a writing on your fragging walk-walk?"
The brownie nodded emphatically.
"Well. Well." He looked back up. "Graffitied the poor bugger's roof did you?"
But the brownie was tugging on the Gryphon's foreleg and the beast stayed Sarah with a snap. More angry squeaking followed as he motioned to a cylindrical tube that was held by another of his companions.
The Gryphon nodded gravelly after a moment. "And she littered this bit of rouge you say? With no respect for the local environment?"
The brownie squeaked some more in an angry tone, and then dissolved into hysterical sobs that were impressive for a being his size.
"And your wife found it and decided to follow her dream of performing cabaret?" The Gryphon looked suitably shocked. "And she's taken up with a Firery last you heard?"
The brownie finally fully collapsed into the arms of his friends and was led away. There were various sounds of sympathy from the crowd.
"Serious, serious charges," cautioned the Gryphon. "Surely that must be the worst of it."
But of course it wasn't.
A small white and blue worm was carefully carried out by the most beautiful fae woman Sarah had ever seen. She was curvy to the point of being lush, with an exquisite face that would have made a Gibson Girl envious. Sarah relaxed marginally at seeing the worm, however. He could have nothing overly negative to say.
"'Allo," he addressed the court dejectedly. "Me? I'm just a worm, but this 'ere is the missus, Bernice, and we was both terribly insulted when she," the worm tried to point but lacking appendages just kind of bobbed in Sarah's general direction, "wouldn't come in for a nice up of tea."
"Terribly rude. And what kind of tea," Jareth asked as though it mattered.
"Lavender," the worm replied. Someone dutifully gasped behind her.
"What's more," replied Bernice in a rich, cultured voice that would have made angels weep, "My beloved husband found out later that the girl was the Champion of the Labyrinth and had accepted another offering of food whilst here. Phil might have been able to overlook it but the local chapter of the Knights of Worm found out and his reputation as a gracious host was just destroyed. He was kicked out of the order and his confidence was shattered." She sniffed delicately in that way only beautiful people can, with no hint of snot. "In fact he barely had any interest in me anymore. He was the best lover I'd ever had and it's never been quite been the same since. Even so many years later, at best he can only manage maybe three or four times a night now."
The worm hung his head. "I ask you what kind of man I am?"
"No kind of man, because you are a worm?" Sarah answered tentatively after a beat of silence.
There were boos and hisses from the crowd and Bernice looked murderous. But elegantly so. "Thank you very much! I'll be lucky to get it even once a day now." When the Gryphon nodded, she gave a very graceful curtsy to the king and court and then sashayed out of the area. Her head was bent towards her husband as she whispered words of comfort.
"Do you see," Jareth tapped his chin thoughtfully, "how she can't help but emasculate those around her?"
"Objection," Sarah countered. "Perhaps you're all just a little too, what's the word? Fragile?" But her objection went ignored as the trees had long fallen back into their deep sleep and no one seemed inclined to wake them. The Gryphon was happy to adjudicate.
The next supplicants were an assortment of goblins in numbered armour that Sarah did recognize upon closer look. They carried spears with vicious looking hairless creatures perched at the end. Their statements were thankfully brief but their agitation was palpable. She'd dented their best helmets. And the fact that they'd clearly had the dents hammered back out again didn't seem to sway the court in any way. Nor did the fact that Sarah pled she'd only thrown the rocks to protect Ludo.
In fact that merely segued the court into the next charge. Freeing a terrorist.
Several hours earlier Sarah would have been shocked to find out Ludo had once been labelled a terrorist. Simple, gentle, kind-hearted Ludo. Nothing surprised her anymore. Apparently Ludo had been trapped to stop him from constantly calling his friends and destroying everything in his path. Her freeing him was aiding and abetting a known enemy of the state.
And on the topic of destruction, the list seemed endless.
A very elderly looking pair, with matching long grey beards and carrying several sizeable equally ancient tomes, stepped forward next. They didn't appear to be either Goblin or fae but something resembling the librarian and Wiseman had had a love child. Sarah was certain she'd done nothing to them.
The slightly taller one spoke first, clearing his throat. "The, ah, Goblin Queen-"
"Former," Jareth corrected amiably.
"Destroyed a much beloved heritage bridge," finished the second one.
"Oh such a loss," decried the first.
Sarah features screwed in confusion. She could think of a lot of things she had destroyed. She could think of even more she very much wanted to destroy at that very moment.
"You can't possibly mean…" she trailed off and then started laughing. "Oh but of course you mean it. The bog. A heritage site." She shot Jareth another vicious look and mouthed, 'Sore loser.'
Which nicely tied into the next complaint. Tracking bog scum through out the Labyrinth.
It was hard to deny that she'd not had to throw out her favourite brown loafers when she'd arrived home. A persistent and lingering smell that no amount of mink oil and saddle soap could fix and upon which Karen insisted on blaming Merlin. But the steady stream of angry goblins that came in dragging mops and buckets and expressions of a decade's worth of frustration was somehow still impressive.
Not to mention it was only the start of a litany of sins. Damage to walls. What walls? Every wall it seemed. There wasn't a part of the Labyrinth she'd been in that there wasn't someone conveniently accusing of her ruining something. Not even the one she and Hoggle had knocked down to literally escape death by that blender on wheels could be justified.
When she calmly pointed out the cleaners had only been set upon her in a fit of 'extreme royal pettiness, the charge of "insulting the royal Labyrinth" was summarily added to the list. For their part the cleaners didn't really seem to hold a grudge until as part of her defence she mentioned that they'd done more damage than good to the tunnels. They changed tunes quickly and cried fowl, accusing Sarah of trying to have them sacked, or worse bogged. They also reminded the court she'd broken a ladder. Which, the two elderly scholars were called back to confirm, was indeed a heritage piece.
Sensing that the case was not going in her favour and unlikely to improve, Sarah tried a different tactic. "Mr. Gryphon? Oh, I'm sorry, I should have asked if you have a title I should be using when addressing you."
Jareth, recognizing the new tone, levelled a long look at her.
"I've no need for titles. There is only me," replied the Gryphon.
"But of course," Sarah demurred in a way that made Jareth narrow his eyes further. It had not escaped his notice so many years ago that she'd quite effectively beguiled a good portion of his subjects. He himself had witnessed a rather raucous party to which he'd not been invited.
"Then is there a name I might use?"
The Gryphon looked truly taken aback by the question and for a moment his features softened, quite transforming him into something that a truly brave or more likely foolish person would have termed cuddly.
"You know, in all my long years no one has ever asked me that."
Sarah smiled at him.
And then he flipped back just as quickly. "Which just reminds me that I've quite forgotten what it was!" he roared in fury.
It wasn't only goblins who held grievances either. A section of the lichen covered outer wall was wheeled out. Though the eyes couldn't talk of course, their rapid blinking seemed to be particularly damning to her case judging by the audience's reactions. They were followed by a section of helping hands. Quickly forming faces – none of them particularly pleased looking – they all spoke of the intensive and costly manicures required after her jaunt down their shaft. Broken nails, ripped cuticles, chafed skin. The lot. They also seemed to think, though it was really an afterthought compared to the paramount crimes of nail care, that she'd not expressed sufficient thanks for saving her life. Her explanation that she could hardly be expected to encounter hands that could both talk and perform life-saving manoeuvres with equanimity fell on deaf ears. Especially as the hands lacked any.
A knocker was also led out, the ring in his mouth making it difficult to hear his muffled words. When it was removed, he charged with her rudely holding his nose so she could reinsert the ring and choose the other door. The whole thing had caused his allergies to flair up something horribly. "Do you know how hard it is have allergies when you can't blow your nose?" he asked.
The Gryphon nodded sympathetically and then shoved the ring right back in his mouth again when he was dismissed.
The next accuser to step forward, Sarah did recall. The white-haired goblin, largely obscured by the junk covering a large portion of her bent frame, shuffled into the court like a turtle carrying its shell. She introduced herself as simply, "Agnes."
"Well, Agnes," began the Gryphon, with not a small edge of exhaustion to his voice. "What is your claim against the accused?"
"That she landed her fat arse landed on my back!" Her voice as gravelly and nasal as Sarah remembered. "The doctor told me I can't shouldn't carry that kind of weight, due to my arthritis you see."
If Sarah's hands had been free she would have gestured broadly at the amount of clutter currently on said back, including what looked to be an entire Barcalounger, but instead had to watch dumbfounded as both the Gryphon and the Goblin King evinced sympathy.
"Do you deny that you very rudely landed on her back?" asked the Gryphon.
"Well, no, but not intentionally! That was only after I…" she trailed off mutinously.
The Goblin King showed uneven teeth in a saccharine smile. "After you destroyed by crystal ball room?" He turned to court. "It rained glass shard across parts of the Labyrinth for 45 minutes I'm told. But that's nothing to when she destroyed my Escher room. I've heard tell it rained bits of stairs for 45 days more."
"Only because you gave me a roofied peach!"
"What peach?" asked Jareth, the picture of innocent – but only if you needed glasses. "And I have no idea what 'roofied' means so I can only assume you meant to say delicious. If such a peach ever existed of course."
"Let the record show that roofied here means delicious," the Gryphon declared.
"NO!" But Sarah's sputtering protest trailed off as Agnes withdrew a peach pit from her pocket like a smoking gun.
"There you see?" Sarah jerked in her hold, fairly brimming with validation. "The peach!"
"I found this after she crippled my spine," Agnes explained. "She tossed it away. Just like that. Littering in my perfectly organized trash heap."
Jareth directed another pointed look to the stands. "What she does to all of my gifts. Tosses them away." There were immediate murmurs of sympathy.
"Well," Agnes continued pragmatically. "I wasn't going to let a perfectly good piece of fruit go to waste."
Sarah made a face of disgust. "It had a worm in it."
"Extra protein!" I polished off the rest." Her face took on a faraway look. "And then I had the most sexually satisfying dream I've ever had. Why, I climbed him like a bloody tree I did." She proceeded to explain in great detail what she'd done after that, many of which were illegal both above and underground, and which defied the laws of physics much less those of arthritis.
After recovering from a mental image of which Sarah was sure she would never forget, she suggested that since Agnes enjoyed the dream it really wasn't such a bad thing.
"Seeing as I can't have him it was really just teasing me!" Then Agnes turned and shot the king a coy look out of one milky eye. "Though he did just split from his wife today."
The only satisfaction Sarah had was in the slight wobble to Jareth's smile as Agnes was led, licking her lips at him the entire time.
By that point Sarah was actually thankful for the stump upon which to sit. The line just didn't seem to be getting any shorter or the accusations any less outlandish. No matter what she said she was presented as the worst thing to have happened to the Labyrinth and its inhabitants. In a perverse way she might have worn it like a badge of honour had she currently not been strapped to a tree on trial.
And then came the claims about her short but memorable stint in the Goblin city. The goblins may not be neat by nature but their mess is their own. Their broken walls. Their overturned chamber pots. When someone else does it, it's just not fun anymore. And even where she hadn't outright destroyed anything, she'd managed to disrupt their life. Even just startling a cat – a particularly significant sin to the goblins – and ruining someone's dinner. Which coincidentally turned out to be the same cat in question, who in being thus startled had escaped the cooking pot.
The boulders that Ludo had called remained to this day, being too large to move, and goblins – also lazy by nature - not being particularly inclined to do so. The goblins had instead taken to ignoring them, to avoid being reminded of their defeat. Unfortunately they were so very good at ignoring them that the rocks became a hazard in plain sight. The endless parade of injured goblins hobbling into the court on crutches and in slings was enough to make even the coldest heart beat in sympathy. The fact that Ludo had actually been the one to call them was no defense. It just reminded the court that she'd been in league with a known terrorist.
The next accusers arrived in a pack and more literally in pieces. The Firery gang bounded into the court like Tiggers on speed. Their vivid colouring was aglow in the late afternoon sun. One of them had red lipstick all over his face and on parts best not mentioned in polite company.
Failure to remove her head was not something Sarah had ever thought to be accused of, but she was told it was a grievous insult to their race. Especially as she'd thrown one of theirs which, unbeknownst to her, had initiated a mating dance.
"But I can't remove my head!"
"How do you know?" asked one.
"Yah, lady, have you even tried?" asked another.
"Yes, Sarah," Jareth remarked in a serious tone that was belied by the gleam in his eyes. "If you haven't tried, how do you know?"
Sarah sneered right back at him. "Alright. You first though."
"Let the record show the defendant refuses to even try removing her head," the Gryphon announced.
The only silver lining was that they withdrew their claims of mate hood because who wanted a "cheating cheater, no fun, spoilsport who won't take off her head" anyway. The fact that the Goblin King seemed to concur only stung a little.
Unsurprisingly she was accused of destroying Humungous. What was surprising was the "Ode to my best friend" delivered by his operator, and which even Sarah owned was quite damaging to her defense.
She was also charged with the broader offenses of dereliction of duty, bribery, abetting treason, and sowing the seeds of rebellion.
"Aha," Sarah replied, "but if I was able to sow the seeds of rebellion, doesn't the mean the king was worth rebelling against? Perhaps he was such a mercurial despot, more interested in his own appearance than the welfare of his people that his subjects were looking for any excuse to revolt."
The Gryphon actually looked intrigued by that and turned an accusing eye on Jareth.
"Perhaps," Jareth replied in a deceptively soft voice. "But what then would that make you if you were in a position to help them, say the highest position in the land, and decided to abdicate that power? Hmm."
"How could you," sobbed a few goblins. The same ones who had only moments before accused her of causing something called 'chickens distress'.
In another turn of events, the next to approach the bench was her former "pleader" and his long suffering hat. The Wiseman slept through the proceeding entirely but his hat made a very good case that Sarah had paid them for services rendered with a piece cheap costume jewellery.
When Sarah very politely explained that those services had been quite useless, 'Sometimes the way forward is the back,' she could of course have no way to know those words were prophetic.
The hat also added that she'd ruined their perfect losing streak.
Another new charge was brought forward by the guard who'd refused to get her coffee. Though Sarah had apparently destroyed his house in the battle, that wasn't his reason for being there. His real concern was that she had asked him a lot of very confusing questions. He was one of the few to actually speak up for her however.
"I do ask for the court's mercy."
"That's very generous of her you, Muskrat," Jareth replied.
"Muskul, sire. And 'tis only that she's quite daft in the head. Best to speak… very… slowly… to her in fact," he demonstrated helpfully. "I don't think she rightly knows what she's doing now much less what she done back then."
"Thank you, Monkshood," Jareth replied in a way that said he was just barely repressing a laugh.
"Muskul. And my pleasure, sire." The guard bobbed his head. "And may I say congratulations on getting free from your wife. You are an inspiration to me," he added sincerely; his thoughts already on the evening tea that awaited him.
It didn't get any better but it did get even more absurd. Sarah also stood accused to advocating for fairy welfare, which contravened the goblin pest act of '85. When immediately afterwards a silver haired fairy flitted out, Sarah foolishly thought there might have been a witness in her defence.
It immediately started speaking it a flurry of noises, the sound like those of sweet tinkling bells.
But the Gryphon's eyes narrowed on Sarah in such a way that made her think she'd misread the situation entirely.
"I… what is she saying? If it pleases the court, it just sounds like bells."
There was a smattering of laughter from the stands and the fairy went off like Notre Dame Cathedral.
"She says you cannot understand her because you are a simple creature and-" the Gryphon abruptly stopped, his face reddening.
"What?" Sarah asked in concern. "What did she say?"
"Yes," Jareth agreed, his eyes alight in a way Sarah suspected meant he could understand the creature perfectly. "It's only fair if the accused hears the full account."
The Gryphon cleared his throat. "She says you can't understand her because you are an overgrown dumb fuck, an ugly humungous cu-"
"I get the picture!" Sarah replied tightly. She stared at the fairy in shock and the venom from such a tiny, beautiful little thing. The fairy gave a rude hand gesture back that required no translator. It was universally understood to mean 'I would like to skull fuck you into tomorrow.'
The fairy introduced herself simply as Mavvy and then launched into a diatribe. The Gryphon struggled to keep up and looked decidedly hot under the collar with each new utterance by the foul-mouthed fairy.
Sarah was apparently the same "repulsive creature" who had come to Labyrinth "randy to shag the fuck-faced wanker of a dwarf" Mavvy guessed. Sarah gleaned she meant Hoggle after a moment. In fact it was difficult to say with which of them she was more livid, Sarah decided. The fairy expressed some particularly creative plans for parts of Hoggle's anatomy.
The crux of her argument seemed to be that Sarah "the ham-fisted thunder cunt" had dropped her, which shattered both of her legs and ruined her "night of getting her pussy's warranty fucking voided" by someone named Barnabas. Half the crowd was either blushing or hungering for more when she finished.
"But I didn't mean to drop you. And in fact you bit me!"
"You fed a fairy mortal blood?" he roared, indicating that was frowned upon.
But Sarah snarled right back, "I wouldn't say bit so much as had that little trash-mouthed mosquito sink her teeth into me just as I was trying to rescue her. Ungrateful shit."
Jareth held up a hand, "I'd like to remind the accused to watch her language. There are children present after all." His look of mock concern was somewhat undermined by his evident delight at her current predicament.
"But what about her-"
"Pray continue, Mavvy," said the Gryphon, though he looked flushed. "You were saying something about having your… er… warranty voided?"
Mavvy flitted about his ear, with the gist turning out to be awful aspersions cast on both Hoggle's Sarah's mothers. Then she lunged at Sarah in a furious flutter of wings, convincing her the fairy was about to make good on her threat.
"She says you and the nutsack of a dwarf cockblocked her," the Gryphon explained solemnly. Then the fairy went into a furious ten minute long tirade against cockblockers in general. According to Mavvy, who considered herself an authority on the subject, they deserved to have their skin peeled off, dipped in boiling vinegar and then rolled in broken glass. Cockblocking a fairy was a particularly unwise move as they were already randy creatures at the best of times. Denied their due congress and it tended to put them just a little out of sorts.
The Gryphon coaxed her back to the topic at hand. "And that after being sprayed by fucking fairycide and dropped by - well I feel that we already know what she thinks of you and the dwarf so we'll skip that part - she was denied having her whisker biscuit properly made a meal of and," the Gryphon paused, "actually she's not entirely clear why, but she is adamant that it is all you maggoty-faced fault. You and the dwarf. She has her own plans for him but for you, she hopes you die slowly in a fire so she can… yes, yes, I'll tell her!" he growled to the irate fairy buzzing in his ear. "So she can piss on your smouldering ashes."
When Mavvy reached the end of her tirade Sarah found had nothing to say. What could you say to such a colourful and creatively belligerent little thing? Mavvy was the most foul-mouthed creature she had ever encountered. Just a pint sized ball of fury with a tongue to match. But she somehow suspected Mavvy wouldn't ever find herself married against her will. And if she did, she'd have certainly done far worse than embarrass the king. And that was somehow inspiring really. It almost made her like her.
Mavvy gave a final rude hand gesture, making it clear the feeling was not at all mutual.
Sarah exhaled slowly. She wasn't the only one who'd been a little blind sided by the fairy, and several of those in attendance looked equally astounded at what was surely the most expressive of cases presented against her. Even Jareth looked more than a little awed by the end and Sarah noted that he'd not dared interrupt once.
"Well." The Gryphon sat back on his haunches like he himself needed a breather to collect himself. "That was… well, that was certainly something." After a moment he shook himself, feathers ruffling, and took a look about the place, brightening considerably. "That seems to be it."
"Not quite," replied the Goblin King. "There is of course my own grievances."
Sarah pulled a face at him.
"For instance thirteen hours worth of free childcare.
She recovered quickly. "Objection. Don't you mean ten?"
"But as I am so generous," Jareth ignored her rolled eyes, "I am willing to overlook them in the spirit of the mercy Mumford so gallantly requested."
"Muskul," Sarah corrected by rote.
"However that still leaves a final charge." Jareth snapped his fingers and the liveried guards escorted Ludo, Sir Didymus and Hoggle before the court.
At the seeing the latter, Sarah lurched forward in her seat. "YOU AGAIN!"
Hoggle cringed but didn't meet her eyes.
"Ludo, Sir Didymus, Hedgewart," began Jareth.
The dwarf whispered, "Hoggle."
"Yes. Is it not true that you three aided and abetted Sarah's ruthless assault on my lands? Participated in the Goblin battles, even going so far as to save her yourselves on a few occasions?"
"Well… I… uh," they stuttered in unison.
"I'll remind you that I was rather lenient in your punishment. I could have, say, had your heads mounted in my throne room as a warning to all others who might defy their king. So I will repeat, you might say you were instrumental in her victory?" When they didn't immediately answer, Jareth made a throat cutting motion.
Swift nods followed.
Sarah began to worry for her friends. It was one thing to try her in this sham trial but her friends didn't deserve to be punished after so long.
"And yet… didn't she send you away before the final confrontation. Something about needing to do it alone?" This time Jareth didn't press for an answer and instead simply paused for effect. "It is almost as though she wanted all the glory for herself."
The Gryphon looked taken aback. Sarah looked taken aback. The trio looked taken aback, well except for Ludo who simply looked confused.
"My lady?" Sir Didymus' furred-lip trembled.
"Not only did she entice you into committing treason, she refused to share the victory," Jareth 'tsked. "Come, come, Sarah. How selfish of you."
"That's not at all how it happened!" she snapped. "This is low even for you."
"And do you deny then that you kissed Hoggle in supposed thanks for his assistance?"
Sarah stared ahead mutinously.
"It was against your will wasn't it? Took advantage of you, didn't she?" he asked the dwarf and then glanced at his ever-present bag of trinkets. "And stole your rightful property too, didn't she?"
Hoggle fidgeted but managed a look of wavering defiance. "Well seeing as you threatened to make the prince of the-"
"A simple yes will suffice, Higgle."
"Ergh! It's Hoggle. And yes! It's true, but-"
Jareth stayed him with a hand. "And Ludo. Isn't it true that when she wrongfully released you landed on your head? Surely you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. And Sir Didymus," he turned to the fox. "Your poor steed. Quite terrified didn't him didn't she? Dragging him along on such a dangerous quest."
"Well… yes, he hath indeed required some therapy but-"
"No further questions then." Another snap of the Goblin King's fingers and the three were led away.
When no one else came forward claiming Sarah had been instrumental or even just in the vicinity of them ruining their life, the Gryphon rose. "We shall proceed straight to sentencing."
Sarah straightened as much as she could on the stump that bound her. To say that she was looking forward to the end of it all was an understatement. That scant ten minutes where she'd foolishly overthought her victory seemed a lifetime ago.
What happened next was a laundry list of reparations and remunerations that could not possibly be paid back even had Sarah the ten lifetimes necessary to do so. Some of them were just ridiculous too. For instance she was ordered to allow her head be used in a rousing game of Firery cricket. She was tasked with opening and operating a heritage museum for the preservation of important bridges and ladders. . Some were plainly impossible. Like ensuring no trace of bog scum remained anywhere in the Labyrinth using only her toothbrush.
Sarah's patience at the entire spectacle, which she suspected was more about public humiliation than any kind of justice, was long gone. Her victory had been stolen from her.
"I can't possibly be expected to comply with any of those demands" She took a moment to try and look poised. "I charge that this entire case be thrown out on the grounds that it was entirely based on spite and vengeance, and has no basis in a court of justice."
"Justice?" The Gryphon asked sourly. "Who said anything about justice? Justice has no business in a court of law!"
"Then I make the case that since I proved the Goblin King unfit, and as the Champion of the Labyrinth, I am rightfully entitled to half his kingdom if not the entirety. Surely if my power is as a great, it is only fitting. But I'll be generous and take the half that just built a case against me and dismiss the charges." Sarah had no intention of taking away any of his kingdom, once the charges were dismissed she would abdicate herself straight into a relaxing bath.
There was another hush as everyone digested her claims.
Even the Gryphon looked momentarily taken aback. "I suppose you could mount an appeal," he began, glancing at the trees. "For an appeal we'd have to wake them up and start all over again."
"No!" shouted everyone all at once.
"Then I suppose we could throw her in an oubliette and take a small recess. We'll begin again in, say, 100 years."
Sarah's legs were starting to go numb. "Surely there is an alternative?"
"Indeed there it is. How silly of me to forget." The Gryphon nodded at her approvingly. "As the defendant has made it clear she is unable to make amends for her actions, this court is thus able to sentence her to be immediately thrown into the pit of no bottom, somethings called the bottomless pit by those of no class, where she shall fall forever. It should afford her plenty of time to think about she's done."
Silence and then absolute chaos all over again. The stands erupted into chatter, some outraged some obviously delighted. "This is even better than the stabbing! Best wedding in a century!" cried one particularly excited guest.
The roots released her into the hands of waiting guards. The Gryphon stamped thrice on the ground and then stepped back. The coble stones shuffled back like dominoes to reveal a large pit of absolute blackness.
"What? No! You can't be serious!" Sarah screamed, as she was summarily dragged towards it. Though not religious, she sent a silent and desperate prayer to god. Any gods. Only to remember that half of them were present and many of those now related to her by marriage. It might have been funny if she wasn't about to be thrown to her death in a yawning maw of nightmares.
She craned her head to look for the Goblin King. He was standing passively by the Gryphon, arms crossed and expression passive. She took a page out of the fairy's book and hoped hers properly conveyed her thoughts on both him and the matter at hand. Which was she was fast approach. She struggled in earnest then, managing to get a few good kicks in with her heels. Her heart beating wildly at the thought he was actually about to stand back and just left her be thrown into the abyss. And then he winked at her.
"A moment," his calm voice nonetheless cut through the din. "This seems a rather poor end for the Champion of the Labyrinth." The crowd, already feeling neither here nor there thanks to the rollercoaster of events, fell into another rapt silence.
"While the court has indeed rendered judgement," Jareth continued unhurriedly like Sarah wasn't currently dangling over an abyss, "if the Champion were to withdraw her request to sever the union, then she would," he snapped his fingers as though it had just come to him, "still bear the protection of the crown."
Sarah's expression turned from fear to incredulity to hope to fury.
The Gryphon, who likewise was starting to look more than a little piqued by the whole affair groused in annoyance. "Up or down, left or right. I'm of the opinion you two deserve one another. I don't care any longer. What say you girl? The pit or the king? Tomato, tomato if you ask me."
There was a part of Sarah that wanted to be spiteful. Perhaps now more than ever. Surely rejecting him again for certain death would make for a dramatic exit and no more than he deserved. But on the other hand… certain death."
You could hear a pin drop. Unless you dropped it in the pit at her feet where it would fall forever contemplating the futility of existence.
"Fine," she hissed. "I withdraw my claim." If she lived she could kill him herself.
The guards stepped back and released her to solid ground. She wobbled for a second, her legs having liquefied, but pride alone kept her upright. The pit lay between them but she kept her eyes on his face, and smoothed a hand down her suit. To a discerning eye, like the otherworldly ones currently watching her, she had never looked more regal.
"The marriage stands," grumbled the Gryphon in a tone that conveyed just how much he disliked having his time wasted. "Frankly, that seems punishment enough for all involved. Now get out of my court, ye bastards!"
AN: To quote the Wiseman… sometimes the way forward is the way back. Or in other words, a nasty no-good author pulls a total bait and switch. You can hardly expect me to let her get away. You can hardly think Jareth had been declawed last chapter. You can hardly think Sarah will take this well. Probably not the best way to woo your wife, dude. They are back together next chapter as we return to our regularly scheduled programming and sparks fly in more than one way. *wink wink* The end game has always been HEA.
School starts tomorrow for my kids. Longest "March Break" ever. Send wine. My nerves need it. Above all, stay safe out there, everyone.
Credits: Where to begin! I forgot to mention last chapter that the court scene was one of the first scenes I had mapped out in my head when I began this story. I knew I wanted to have Sarah win her annulment but then be charged with ridiculous crimes for her time in the Labyrinth. I'd started a list of those with grievances but then I opened the question to LFFL to ask members for their input. Well they delivered! Some I didn't even get a chance to use. Credit to all the peeps LFFL for their wonderful ideas, including members (but not limited to) overlysarcastic27, DenaliWahine, Lady-Lannie-Queen-of-Goblins, Dekk (and many others I know I am missing). Many of them are also authors, so go forth and read them! Shout out to Jetredgirl for suggesting the brownie's wife find the lipstick and turn into a total ho, another to BowieQueen for the idea of Agnes' arthritis and Sarah being a glory hog (something I never considered), and to Lady Kyridwen for chicken distress. A huge thank you to BustedBrain for generously lending me her wonderfully foul-mouthed fairy, Mavvy. You can read her full story in A Fairy's Tale. If you haven't read it already, go forth and do it! There was also a nod to one of her other stories, Forever My Valentine. You need to read that one too if you haven't. No spoilers.