Disclaimer: I own nothing… except for my husband and he's still in denial.
Warning: The Catholic side in me wanted to go to Confession for the last chapter. The depraved, gin-swilling side wrote this instead. There be more naughtiness ahead.
Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.
Pope John Paul II
The moon was bright when the Goblin King opened his eyes; a grin softening his aquiline face. Silver light painted a path across the floor from the window to the bed, bathing the occupants in its glow. Jareth took a moment to simply breathe deeply: the Labyrinth, fresh linen, ripe fruit, the heady scent of Sarah.
Her face was tranquil in sleep, bordering on innocent. He hadn't lied when he'd said she'd always be just a little bit pure. Even plucked. His smile deepened in reminiscence. He was at leisure to watch her while she slept; her scathing tongue at rest. Not that he really minded the barbs. They made the game more dangerous and the rewards more precious.
And Sarah, he'd found, was worth everything.
Jareth stroked a hand along her bare shoulder, watching the fine hairs rise in its wake. Murmuring something unintelligible, she rolled towards him, tucking her head into his neck; her body unconsciously moulding to his heat. He could feel her bare breasts press against his arm and her damp curls against his hip. His heartbeat spiked immediately, but kept himself still. It was better to just savour the novelty of having a willing Sarah in his arms. A Sarah who had come of her own accord. A Sarah who gave herself freely.
A Sarah who loved him.
When she awoke, he imagined she would be prickly once again. Perhaps sore - likely embarrassed (he rather liked it when she blushed) - for they had not settled everything and possibly they never would. But now… now she was just his. Like it was always meant to be, fight it though she had. He'd expected nothing less. His in victory or his in surrender, it hardly mattered in the end.
For the first time, in what seemed a very long while, Jareth allowed himself to relax.
Sarah awoke to the delicious sensation of being pinned to a bed.
A lithe body was entwined with hers. Feathery hair tickled her face, almost white in the early morning light. A pale hand lightly cupped her breast beneath the sheet.
When the hand began to stroke, she began to suspect he was no longer asleep.
A reluctant smile tugged at her mouth, despite her natural inclination to resist. She'd do that later. "I know you're awake."
Jareth laughed lowly. "Then there's no more need for subtlety." The fingers became more brazen.
Fighting back a moan, Sarah captured his hand with her own and then froze – transfixed by the mark on her palm.
"It's back…" She traced the spirals in wonder, remembering the strange sense of connection, of being bound. And the foreign words breathed against her throat. Her hand moved from her palm to wrist, following the path of an unseen cord.
Jareth lazily propped his head up on one arm and watched her movements from beneath lowered lids. "Do you mind?" His underlying tone suggested the answer would change nothing.
Sarah traced the spiral again. It was difficult not to resort to old lines, especially given the provocation, but it was equally difficult not to appreciate the return of something she'd lost and mourned. Much to her surprise.
"No… I don't think so," she answered finally. "It was certainly… better getting it the second time. Even if you didn't ask then, either," she added pointedly.
Jareth grinned, his eyes dancing wickedly. "Are you saying that if I'd just thrown you down on the stone altar and had my way with you right then and there, we could have avoided all of this?"
Sarah snorted. "Very funny."
"It only worked because you were willing, Precious." He pulled the sheet from her in one smooth motion. "Delightfully willing, I might add."
Sarah squeaked and tried to snag it back. It promptly vanished.
"Jareth," she warned, "I'm sore and bruised and-!"
Jareth immediately flipped her over and began taking mock stock of her injuries. "You do look like a speckled egg," he observed, not sounding apologetic in the least. "Ah," his lips feathered over a mark on her hip, fingers teasing up her inner thigh, "I particularly enjoyed making this one."
"You're depraved!" Sarah admonished, trying - and failing - to maintain an even expression. It didn't help that her legs parted obligingly.
"You don't seem to be putting up much of a fight," Jareth grinned again, "for a change." He slid his fingers over her slick folds.
Another touch earned a shiver from her, as well as a defiant scowl. But when his attentions becamemore aggressive, Sarah winced.
Jareth immediately drew back, stroking her arm in mute apology. "If it's any consolation, you left some claw marks on me too."
"It's a tremendous consolation," she replied tartly.
"I thought it might be." Jareth brushed her hair back and tenderly kissed her neck. "Vixen." He tucked a cover around her and rolled from the bed. Snagging a glass of wine, he moved towards the open window.
Sarah crooked an arm beneath her head and unabashedly admired the view. Well, mostly unabashedly. She had no doubt that part of the swagger in his walk was due to her eyes on him. That made her blush slightly. The rest of his swagger was due to her continued presence in his bed. That made her… she wasn't sure yet. It was all too new and still surreal. Like a dream that would not end. A wicked dream, with a tight as…
When her eyes finally returned to his face, he was smirking at her over the rim of his glass.
Sarah wondered if she'd ever stop blushing.
Eying the wine, she yawned. "I'd kill for a coffee." She nearly dropped the fine-bone cup that appeared in her hand. "Hey! You could have warned me…" she trailed off at the look on his face. "You didn't do it." Sarah sat up abruptly, uncaring when the sheet dropped to her waist. Her eyes flicked from him to the offending cup and back again. "So… I did?" The coffee was a rich black; Sarah preferred hers with cream. It lightened accommodatingly.
"It would appear so."
Sarah couldn't decipher his expression. "Are you angry?" The possibility rankled. It also chilled.
He was beside her in a moment; faster than any mortal. He pulled the cup from Sarah's limp fingers and placed it on the night table, caging her hands within his. "Should I be?
Sarah canted her head in confusion.
"Do you plan on trying to leave?" The words were quietly spoken, but his hands tightened on hers.
Sarah's eyes went wide. "No."
Their grip relaxed. "Then never with you at my side."
His intensity strangely thrilled her. Whatever else he was, he was sincere in that moment. She didn't point out that he'd often been angry when she was by his side, and would likely be again.
Instead she watched, enchanted, as a crystal appeared in her other hand when called. Her eyebrows rose in a playful challenge.
Jareth's lips twitched. "I shall just have to get more creative," he warned.
Sarah rolled the orb, trying, and failing, to emulate some of his tricks. She looked up to see if he'd mock the feeble attempts, but his attention was on her exposed breasts. She snatched the sheet up.
Jareth looked less than contrite.
Rolling the crystal once more, she gave up and let it float away. Jareth caught it and expertly danced it across his fingertips; a studiously bored look on his face.
"Show off." But she was enthralled by his skill. Probably always would be. Her tone turned serious. "How?"
"Consider it a side benefit, I suppose," he mused. "Your circumstances were… different than the rest." He pinched her chin. "You were ever anything but easy, Precious."
A sobering thought wiped the answering smile from her face. "But the Labyrinth… before-"
"This is different." We are different. His eyes narrowed. "Though I imagine our fights just became much more complicated."
His tone was playful but Sarah was not blind. This had altered the balance of power. She could hear the deflection in his words; sense the calculations in his mind. Doubt filled hers.
"Will it change me?" Sarah stilled his wandering hand. "Will you… miss my humanity?" She didn't just mean the extra magic. There would be other changes. He'd once said he loved her brief spark of mortality. What would happen when that spark turned to an ember that would never fade? Would she herself miss it after the long years?
'Will you love me less' is what she did not ask.
Jareth studied her face. "I will love you for different things, Sarah."
Several heartbeats ticked before she cracked. She began to sob uncontrollably - great racking shudders that shook her frame. They were as surprising as they were violent. They weren't pretty tears either, leaving her face red and her nose dripping, and knowing that only made it worse. She cried for all the things given up and for the unknown she suddenly feared. She cried because stories always ended at happily ever after and she had no context for what came next.
She cried because her decision was still so newly made, and living with a decision is so much harder than just making one.
Jareth held her throughout. He said nothing, knowing for once, he was not the cause. When she was spent, her cheeks streaked and hot, he smoothed the damp hair back from her face and spoke softly, "I can't imagine you losing your humanity, Sarah. I can only see you adding to it." He was as surprised as she by the honesty in his words.
He did not ask if she regretted her decision - it was too soon. But he would not ask it later, either. They both knew her answer would change nothing. Jareth would never let her go twice, magic or no. Regret or otherwise.
And she would never ask him to.
Sarah clung to him, twining her arms around him and tangling her fingers into his wild hair. He stroked her back soothingly. They remained like that for a long time, until the light caresses changed from comfort to need, as they are wont to do.
He'd warned her not to expect him to be entirely honourable.
No more was spoken. Jareth showed her that he meant to keep her. Sarah showed him that she meant to stay.
Hours later, when night had fallen again, Sarah padded quietly from the bed and sought out the little red book from the tall shelves. She needed to see that there was more than a blank page. That it would not begin all over again. Flipping through it, she was relieved to see her return played out in black ink. But a moment later she slammed shut the book, a horrified expression on her face. Some things, she reasoned, should NOT be written down. She buried it behind a stack of books, wondering if she dared bog it later.
Eying the other volumes – tales of other Goblin Kings and Queens – the realization struck that they would be similarly filled. When she spotted a familiar blue one, her fingers itched daringly. She forced her hands behind her back and padded back to bed. It would be too weird.
She'd probably get caught.
And not by Jareth.
A few days later, once the bedroom door reappeared, a reunion of sorts followed. Much goblin ale was consumed – an unreasonably potent drink, Sarah discovered - and largely responsible for what would later become known as the Great Scrabble War.
Sarah chose to believe that Jareth did not attend because he wanted to give her time alone with her friends. Jareth was emphatic that he did not come because he couldn't think of a 'more repulsive way to spend an afternoon'. In either event, Hoggle was happy.
"You came back, Sarah." His words were unusually sombre amidst the gaiety.
"You don't sound entirely happy at that, Hoggle."
"No, I am! But…" he faltered.
"But you think I'm trapped," she finished, taking a sip of brew to hide her smile.
Hoggle took a steadying breath, eying the distant castly nervously. "You don't know him like I does."
There were many ways to reply - several that would make Hoggle blush - but his words rang true. She didn't really know him. Not yet. "No," Sarah answered carefully, "I don't. But I will."
"I just worry…I mean-"
"It's not your fault, Hoggle. I came back because I wanted to."
"And if you hadn't, Jareth would have taken you back," Hoggle persisted bravely, "whatever he might say!"
Sarah smiled secretively. "I know."
Hoggle shook his head in wonder. Jareth didn't deserve her. "You love him. Even after all the things he's done. And he'll do it again, make no mistake!"
Sarah caught the tinge of jealousy in his voice. It was not romantic, but it was there all the same. "I do. And I know." She pulled him into a hug. "I love you too."
"Argh! Don't kiss me again!" Another furtive glance towards the castle.
Sarah laughed and released him.
They both turned towards Ludo in surprise.
"Oh! What do you know, you big ugly beast," Hoggle blustered after a moment. "You think rocks are friends!"
Sarah coughed into her drink, imagining Jareth's reaction to being counted amongst Ludo's beloved boulders.
"Are we playing or not?" Sir Didymus rapped his staff sharply. "Sir Ludo, My Lady?"
Sarah bobbed her head apologetically and returned to the board. She squeezed Hoggle's hand in reassurance on the way.
Curse him, but he was happy to have her back. He felt selfish to feel so, like he was somehow betraying her. Perhaps Jareth has been right. It was worth it just to have her, even if she was muddled in the head. He didn't know what Jareth had done to her, but he'd heard tell that the screams coming from the tower had been long lasting and plentiful. She seemed fine. Perhaps he'd mention it later.
"We are honoured to have you back, my Lady." Sir Didymus's brown eyes twinkled as he spoke. He'd never had any doubts she would find her way back - that it was meant to be - but then one didn't reach his advanced age by doubting. And if he thought anything of the castle gossip, it was only that he'd heard enough to know not to comment. He'd seen more than one Goblin Bride in his long life, and never had one been more right than the Lady Sarah. It was fitting that she'd been the only bride to ever willing deliver herself to a Goblin King.
"I'm pleased to be back," Sarah laughed again, thinking that perhaps more was gained than lost. "And I told you I owed you a game of Scrabble."
"Then prepare to do battle, My Lady!" Didymus' brows waggled as he lay down his first tiles. "En garde."
The cursed portrait made its reappearance not long after. Unexpectedly passing it in a hallway one day, Sarah nearly fell down the stairs in surprise. The thing might have been bogged for that transgression alone, had she not immediately noted its changes. Gone was the awe-struck girl, replaced instead with a rather regal looking young woman, gowned in a silver dress. Jareth's hand was still curled possessively around her waist, but Sarah looked an even match. The peach was still in her hand, but its positioning was such that she may have been offering it, so much as taking it.
The overall effect was very different and it was spared further attack. Sarah found it was oddly comforting to know the archaic thing had returned.
Jareth said he missed the poufy dress, all things considered, but that its replacement would always remind him of its 'unwrapping'. He conceded it was an improvement for that reason alone.
Sarah was mortified she'd ever related his father's words.
The first time Sarah disappeared was the first time they had a real fight. Time had given her a better handle on her abilities, but it had done nothing for her discretion.
Thinking of home one day, she was startled to appear in it seconds later. She would never get used to the feeling - the magic that drained the very warmth from her marrow – but she was ecstatic to be in her childhood house. Even more so, because it appeared unchanged. Karen and her father treated her as though it was mildly surprising 'to see her home' but nothing out of the ordinary. They embraced her warmly and went on with their routine. The feeling was bittersweet. Toby, on the other hand, watched her strangely – his blue eyes probing. He kept his distance. Sarah was disconcerted to find him so much taller. In him, she marked the passage of time easily. Of things lost.
When she entered her old room, she saw what else had been lost. Everything that had been hers was gone; the room stripped bare and reformed into a generic guest room. She stood in silence for several minutes, trying to process the emotions that roiled in the pit of her stomach. It would have happened eventually, but she'd always imagined she'd have been part of the process. She felt erased.
The air crackled, the window banged open, and an owl swooped past her head, its talons grazing her scalp. Strong hands gripped her arms with punishing strength.
Sarah immediately struggled. "Stop!"
"You said you wouldn't leave." The words were hissed against her ear.
He loosened his hold so that she could turn and face him. "I didn't!"
Sarah began struggling again in earnest. "I wasn't lying. This was an accident. I would have come back!"
"Yes. You would have," he promised in a dangerous tone. "Because I would have brought you back." He looked wild and formidable in his goblin armour.
Sarah could not help but think of Hoggle's caution. "I know. But Iwould have come back."
Jareth's face was still a mask of anger, but he released her arms. "I could still take him you know."
"Why?" She didn't need to ask who. "Why would you even say that?"
"He is already touched. It would be so very easy."
"But you said…" Sarah shook her head. "You wouldn't."
He laughed coldly. "Why would you ever doubt that I would?"
Her first instinct was to scream, but she checked it when she realised he was shaken. He looked haunted. She felt his fear, buried deep beneath the fury.
She forced calm into her voice. "I would have come back, Jareth. I chose you."
"And yet you still deny me." His words had lost their vitriol. It was more statement than accusation.
It took Sarah a moment to realize what he meant. She was bound to him and to her life below by the mark on her palm. But that was the only physical tie between them.
It was a subject they never discussed.
Sarah turned away to stare at the wall. It used to hold her posters; a shelf full of toys. "It's all different now."
She felt his warmth behind her. "I would have spared you this."
"At the cost of my freedom." She wasn't sure she wanted to come back.
Jareth's lips thinned. "If you want to visit again, tell me next time. The kingdom would be much more peaceful for it."
She nodded. It was a huge concession from one such as him. It was just not in his nature.
He held a hand out. "Come home, Sarah." His face held no more enmity; he looked almost remorseful. It was likely the only apology she'd get, at least in words.
Sarah took one last look at the room and then placed her hand in his.
When he wrapped his arms around her - his black cape enfolding her - it felt right.
Toby watched, unseen, from the doorway.
It was not their last fight. Sarah was not subdued and Etain had spoken true when she said she would turn the world upside down. Or try, at least.
"Why must you always defy me, Sarah?"
Startled, Sarah looked up from the book she was reading and then hastily tucked it into the arm of her chair. "What do you mean?"
Jareth canted his head impatiently. "Are you being purposefully obtuse?"
Sarah flicked an invisible speck of dust from her pants.
"You let another one go." The words were clipped, the tone glacial.
Sarah flicked another speck. "Ah. That."
"That," he mimicked. "Is that's all you have to say? Sarah, we've discussed this already. Stop fighting me on this."
"You should be used to it by now. Stop telling me not to fight you on it."
"You're being childish. You have responsibilities to this world. Act like a queen."
Sarah rose defensively. "Says the wise and powerful king."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" His tone went deceptively calm.
"I just don't think it's what… kings should do!"
"Oh?" Jareth looked coldly amused. "Pray tell me, what should kings do?"
There was no ready answer and she threw her hands up in frustration. "Kings kiss babies, not steal them!"
"Fine. I'll steal them, you can kiss them."
Sarah pulled a face, but Jareth continued unchecked. "I'm not just any king, Sarah. I'm the Goblin King. And may I point out that they are wished away. Often by spoiled little girls." He slid his arms around her waist; eyes darkening. "It's the little girls I steal."
Sarah pushed him away. "Be serious."
"I was serious. It's a gift. They should be honoured I am so… generous."
"Generous?" Sarah repeated incredulously. "Their lives are far from perfect here."
"And they are all perfect Above?"
"But what?" He jeered. "Stop trying to redeem me, Sarah. You know what I am. I warned you not to ascribe mortal values to us. You chose this. If they are quick to throw lives away, I will be quick to take."
Her mind flew to Toby. "That's not fair."
"No? And what is fair?"
"Easy for you to say when you're the one taking."
Jareth's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Sometimes I don't need to take. Sometimes they're so very eager, they just willingly fall into my lap."
Sarah recoiled as though slapped. Jareth knew she'd make him pay for it later. He reached for her in apology, but she knocked his arm away and sat back down.
Jareth's mouth hardened into a thin line. "The Underground benefits from them and they benefit from it."
"There must be another way!"
"There isn't." His tone was absolute.
Sarah thought of Mrs. Whelan. Of Declan. Of the Fey fires slowly dying. Magic waning. But the note of finality rankled. "You're just not willing to bend on this!"
"I'm not willing?" he asked softly. Suddenly he was before her, his hands gripping the arm rests and his face rigid with anger. "I have bent more than any king before. Don't forget it."
And there it was. They were no longer only speaking of stolen mortals.
Sarah's face was ashen when she spoke. "You said you didn't resent my power."
"I don't… When you aren't using it to interfere with mine."
"You just want to control me!"
"Of course I do!" Jareth's lips curled. "If I could control you, we wouldn't keep having these… discussions."
"Do you ever get tired of getting your own way?"
"I'll let you know if I ever actually get it."
Irrational laughter surfaced. Their fight was such that any normal couple would have. Strip away the stolen mortals and magic, and it was as mundane as any common power struggle. But looking at Jareth's immortal face - the hostility that sparked in his mismatched eyes - Sarah swallowed the inclination. She doubted he'd appreciate it. And she was also wise enough to know that Jareth had not fully played his hand; that he practiced restraint when it came to her. She could see him warring now - fighting his inclination to subdue. She may have powers, but he held his back.
Jareth sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do I have your promise not to interfere again?"
Sarah chewed her lip. It would be easier to just give in. She was partly responsible for him losing the Lia Fail's magic – a renewal of power. "No."
Jareth nodded curtly, as though he expected nothing else. "Then as I warned, I will get more creative. And I promise you won't like it." He turned to leave, but Sarah hastily gripped his arm.
"Wait. I… I just need to time to get used to all this. You have to understand that this is still all very… new." And wrong. She thought he would argue further, press his point, but she felt some of the rigidity leave his frame.
He slipped an arm around her waist and pressed a kiss to her neck. "I do. And I will give you your time. So long as you realize that on this I will not change. Try to restrain your natural inclination to defy me. We'll both be happier for it."
"I thought you liked it when I challenged you?" she asked playfully, her hand slipping into the open fold of his shirt.
"I do, so long as I win in the end." He ran his fingers through her silky hair. He loved her hair. He'd never tire of being able to touch her at will - of those sweet submissions. And he'd never tire of her hands on him. Her hands, her mouth… that she just parted ever so slightly… licking her lips…
"Sarah, are you trying distract me?"
Sarah smiled beatifically.
They would fight on this again, he had no doubt. On many things. But not all. His eyes flicked to her slim waist. "I should go. I have other matters to attend to." He pressed another kiss to her forehead, before turning away.
"Oh and, Sarah," he paused in the doorway, eyes glinting, "enjoy your book."
It was later that Sarah noticed that Jareth disappeared on a regular basis. When he returned he was always silent, and always pensive. Once or twice she caught him looking at her with calculation in his eyes. As time passed, those looks often crossed to bleak. Haunted. He accepted her attempts at comfort with eager arms, but was in no way forthcoming on where he went.
Sarah eventually took matters into her own hands and followed him one evening.
He appeared in the Goblin Orchard - perhaps orchard was no longer the word. The trees were bare and grey. Dead. She had forgotten it even existed, though she'd once despised what it stood for. She wasn't sure how to feel about it now. Its demise unsettled her.
Jareth had said that things were put to right, but not everything, apparently. He stood silently before the strange gnarled tree at its heart and pressed a hand against the trunk. Sarah got the impression he'd done the same many times before. When nothing happened, his face betrayed no mark of surprise. Not even shades of disappointment. If Jareth knew she watched, he gave no sign.
Moons waxed and waned and it was always the same. The fruit never bloomed. Jareth never mentioned it and Sarah never asked. Eventually his visits stopped altogether.
Sarah continued to haunt it, however. At first it stemmed from morbid curiosity; it was only later that the implication truly rattled – and even then she could only guess at the meaning, or its full ramifications.
On one such occasion, Sarah sat beneath the withered tree and watched the sun cross the sky, absently running a finger over her ring thoughtfully. She pricked the tip on one of the stones, a tiny drop of blood welling. Sucking it into her mouth, she held her other hand up to the light. Perhaps it was merely the location, or just an active imagination, but the garnet setting had always reminded her of a cluster of seeds. Such a silly little bauble. She'd once sacrificed the ring in exchange for aid. Jareth had given it back to her.
Purely on a whim, she pulled it free from her finger and pressed it into the dry earth at the base of the tree. A leap of faith, Etain had once advised.
She felt the change before she saw it. The ground thrummed, and for half a second she wondered if she was going to be swallowed up again. But she watched in astonishment as lush green began to spread beneath her. Green as the fields of Ireland. Green as Tara. Scrambling to her feet, coils of gold wrapped their way up the trunk, twisting and knotting until they reached the outermost branches. They bloomed into leaves at first, and then into buds of every sort imaginable. It began to spread to the other trees, growing like wildfire. Consuming the grey with gold.
Sarah was on the point of rushing back to the castle when she felt a familiar presence behind her. Jareth observed silently, his eyes on the transformation around him.
"I don't know what I did," Sarah blurted.
Jareth turned, his look considering. "An old woman once told me that wives were wiser than their husbands. She may have been correct."
Sarah blinked and then nodded numbly, not fully understanding but recognizing that she had done something right. Possibly momentous.
The green and gold continued until Jareth and Sarah were by far the dullest part of the orchard. At some point he'd joined her, silently threading his fingers through hers. She tilted her head up to watch him, wondering if the best gifts were the ones you didn't know you'd given. She was prosaic enough to realize what she'd done, and by extension what she was condoning, but the look of wonder on his face was enough. She'd deal with the other later. She'd never been much of a hero either, she reasoned. There'd been a vein of villain in her long before she'd regularly shared a bed with one.
Jareth released her hand and moved to the tree. Removing his gloves, he touched his palm to the trunk. The expression on his face was breathtaking. The look he directed towards her a moment later made her toes curl.
She smiled. He closed the distance between them and cupped her face reverently. He kissed her lightly, his mouth surprisingly gentle. Sarah melted at his touch and parted her lips in invitation.
When he pulled back, his eyes were hooded. She looked at him in confusion but he moved away. He settled himself against the tree, arms folded languidly. A dangerous glint sparked in his eyes.
"Take off your dress, Sarah."
She started at the softly-spoken works. "What?"
"Take off your dress." He repeated.
"But…" Sarah was at a loss.
A half smile curling his lips. "For me. I ask for so little."
His words and his demeanour made her laugh nervously, "Why?"
"Because I want to finish what we once started."
"Here?" Sarah gestured around herself. "Now?"
Jareth nodded slowly.
There was no reason to be shy. She had nothing he had not seen – and explored thoroughly – before, but she was. Her embarrassment turned defensive.
"Why? You could just use magic." She wasn't sure if it was meant to be a suggestion or a plea.
"I could. But I want you to do it. Undress for me." His voice softened. "Please."
He countered with a challenge.
Sarah craved him - was pretty sure he'd become an addiction she could never break; a hunger she could never sate. There was little she would not give him if asked. And she was certain he knew it. That he counted on it. She straightened her spine. Her hands betrayed her only once as they rose to the front of her gown. Slowly, she pulled the laces loose, until the bodice gaped widely, hanging from her shoulders. With a slight roll of them, it slid down her body and pooled at her feet. She smiled beneath her lashes.
Jareth's jaw ticked when her hands dropped to her corset. Emboldened by his expression, she unhurriedly popped each hook free until the corset parted and joined her dress in the long grass. The thin muslin under slip ended at her knees and was secured by two simple ties on her shoulders. Sarah took a deep breath and smoothed hands down her liberated torso – careful to brush across her breasts. If she took a few liberties, they did not go unnoticed.
Jareth's breathing hitched.
Sarah raised a hand to her left shoulder, a coy look on her face as she toyed with the knot, before undoing it. The strap dropped down, revealing a full, rose-tipped breast.
Jareth still made no move, but she could feel the coiled tension in the air; see the restraint in his lean frame.
Hand trembling slightly, she raised it to her right shoulder and repeated the motion. The shift slipped away completely, leaving her in nothing but short pantalets. She flicked her long hair over shoulders, arching just a little as she did.
Sarah thought she heard a growl.
Her hands dropped to her waist and pulled the drawstring, pausing for a moment before letting the ties slide through the fingers teasingly. The last defence fell.
The sun was warm against her skin, but the slight breeze left goose bumps in its wake. His eyes roamed freely across her bare flesh. Sarah felt her nipples tighten in response. She raised her hands to them, easing the ache.
"Come here." The words were pitched low and softly spoken; but the command was implicit.
Sarah stopped a handsbreadth away from him. She didn't feel playful anymore. She should have felt vulnerable to be so bare before him, while he remained clothed, but it was strangely wicked. Empowering and terrifying. Biting back the fear, she boldly met his eyes.
His hands rose to her temples and lightly traced the contour of her face, smoothing across her lips – dipping between for just a moment. Sliding down her throat and across the breadth of her shoulders, they moved forward and palmed her breasts, his thumbs brushing across her nipples teasingly. Sarah's lids fluttered shut. She swallowed a moan of protest when they continued downwards, smoothing over her ribs, and pausing again to dip into her navel, before stopping on her hips. A hand ghosted across the curls between her thighs and she trembled.
"I've dreamed about you like this," he whispered.
Sarah's eyes met his. "Yours," she reminded him.
He lowered her backwards into the grass. For a moment, he merely looked at her, memorizing the sight of her laid bare in the orchard, the sun painting patterns across her smooth skin. And then he bent his mouth to her neck, teeth grazing her throat hungrily.
"Your mine, Sarah."
"Yours." Sarah wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him down, sighing when she felt his familiar weight settle over her. He worked a knee between her thighs. The feel of leather against her overly sensitive skin was strangely erotic. He caught at her lips - bruising them - before he claimed her mouth fully, tongue delving deeply.
Sarah met his kiss with equal fervour, losing herself in his familiar taste; his smell beguiling. She tugged his shirt free of his pants and explored the planes of his back and his chest, using her nails to draw a visceral hiss. In punishment, he bent his head to her breasts, worrying the tender peaks between his teeth. Sarah's eyes screwed shut at the sweet pain. A moment later she felt liquid hit the abused skin. Jareth had crushed a ripe peach above her, allowing the juices to drip freely. Before she could protest, he dropped his head back to her breasts, licking and sucking the golden pap from her flesh. Sarah thought she would scream.
Jareth stifled the sound with his mouth, offering her a taste of the forbidden fruit. Her head swam. His hands stroked down her body, slipping between them to press against her centre. He groaned at her wetness; at the eager parting of her thighs. His deft fingers renewed his claim, expertly easing every ache, before renewing them again. They slid within her, curling, before withdrawing cruelly. He licked his fingers clean. He replaced his fingers with his mouth – using his tongue to tease taste.
Sarah arched against him, her body taut and glistening. "Please," she begged.
Jareth swore. With a quick adjustment he freed his length from his pants. When Sarah reached for him, he threaded his fingers through hers and forced her hands above her head, inexorably pressing them down into the earth.
She huffed in protest, but was silenced when he drove into her with one hard thrust.
The unexpected sharpness made Sarah freeze. Jareth used that to his advantage and set a maddening rhythm, rocking into her slowly and deeply before withdrawing almost fully. The ground rasped against her back and his clothing brushed her bare skin, the dual friction heightening every sensation. The look on his face as he sheathed himself in her welcoming heat completely disarmed her. In that moment she would have given him anything he asked.
Jareth smiled; fire in his eyes.
Sarah hooked her legs around his hips, simultaneously trying to regain control and draw him even deeper. Her body bowed beneath his. Jareth's breathing turned ragged and his thrusts more wild. Releasing her hands, he gripped her hips, raising them to sharpen the angle. Sarah's head fell back, her dark hair weaving into the grass. More juice fell. His mouth sought her breasts again, his teeth rough.
"Oh… please…" Sarah wasn't sure what she was asking for, but a moment later she found it. Lights danced behind her lids as her core tightened and fluttered around him. Jareth let go and followed with a hoarse yell, his arms banding around her possessively. He murmured tender words against her damp skin as he collapsed atop her, his body shuddering.
After a moment he pulled back slightly and kissed each breast lightly, before doing the same to her lips. She could still taste herself on him.
They lay entwined in the grass and lazily watched the sun begin its slow descent. His hands traced patterns on her back.
Later, Jareth dressed an unresisting Sarah in his shirt. It still smelled of him. She pulled grass from her tangled hair. "I must look ridiculous."
"You look like a Goblin Queen. Powerful and dangerous," his eyes glinted, "and properly ravaged by a Goblin King."
Sarah threw a shoe at him. Jareth easily ducked it.
"But not sated?" He arched a brow.
Seeing the renewed hunger in his face, Sarah held her hands up in mock surrender. He tugged her forward by her wrists and cupped the back of her neck.
He slowly ran a knuckle down her front, twisting his hand around to splay across her stomach. The touch was hot and possessive.
The darkly satisfied smile that curved his lips made Sarah stiffen. Her eyes dropped to his hand then back to his face, only to widen at the fierce look on it.
"Yes," her breathed.
A shocked look crossed her own; her cheeks paling before suffusing with colour.
And then Sarah's hand joined his, their fingers lacing tightly across her abdomen.
…Fruit ripens, seasons change and new seeds are planted...
Reviews will be rewarded with rainbows and kittens...
(but not the kind that will try and eat you)
Well a baby, anyway. The babe with the power. For all intents and purposes this is the end. Only it isn't, because there is an epilogue that ties up all the other loose ends. Or double knots them, in any event. And before anyone asks, it WILL contain Jareth as a father. Many seemed to want to see a hint of green-eyed babe . It was meant to be posted with this chapter, but it's not complete and I wanted to get this one up ASAP. Once the epilogue is posted, I'm gonna hit that 'Complete' button and cry a little and maybe have a few celebratory cocktails.
There's a poll on my profile for anyone who would like to keep reading my stuff. I'm curious to see what you'd like to see next (I have a few ideas stewing).
And in case you hadn't guessed, the cover pic for this story is actually the Hill of Tara.
Bet you all forgot about the portrait, eh?
The baby stealing vs. baby kissing argument was a nod to Pika-la-Cynique's web comic "The Girls Next Door." In #144 Jareth makes a comment about 'leaving the baby kissing to Sarah.' If you have not read her comic – go do it now! You'll find it on Deviant Art.
Note: I purposefully left the passage of time ambiguous in this chapter. I would suppose Sarah and Jareth would like to spend sometime together before goblin babes (and they certainly have the luxury). You may imagine it however long (or short) you would like. What you read was snippets of their life together. How that time correlates to the passage of time Above is equally ambiguous. Canon doesn't specify so I've 'decided' time fluctuates sporadically (because there is nothing logical about the magic of the Underground afterall).
p.s. Happy (belated) Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! Hundreds of thousands of people dressed in red and white descended on the downtown of my city to celebrate (I live downtown) so it was crazy. Festivities and fireworks over Parliament Hill and lots of beer! My husband and I hosted our annual house party, complete with a make your own poutine station - 'cause that's how we roll. I blame the celebrations (and recovery) on my delay in getting this chapter up.
And a happy (belated) 4th of July to my American readers too.