Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 12 of 50

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Power Struggle Though it seemed entirely strange, Sarah was nervous. As the sun began its descending course, Sarah's anxiety steadily built into a scary, smothering troll (thankfully not literally). Being nervous at your own wedding was certainly acceptable, but Sarah was fairly sure that in whatever form she had envisioned this moment, her future mother-in-law would have very different reasons and reassurances that what Jan had been feeding her in a bemused manner while Elizabeth still tried to force a few more fine points of behavior into her brain. Noting that Sarah was fraying dangerously, Jan wisely sent Elizabeth out on an errand to check on the flower arrangements. Since this was a particular favorite hobby for Elizabeth, she obliged without question. Had Sarah not been so distressed, she might have chuckled at the chaos which would ultimately follow. Some of the goblins were quite particular on how everything must be; there was an ongoing feud between Fleetch and Flim on whether a statue in the south hallway (well, most days it was south, anyway) should be a quarter turn left or right.

Jan stood in front of Sarah and gently pulled Sarah's hands away from wringing any further. "You must calm down, Sarah," she chuckled. "It is quite unseemly."

"This is just so…" Sarah glanced at the gently flickering fire in fireplace with an odd expression, searching for something to accurately sum up her situation.

Jan smiled warmly, and Sarah could tell by the glint that sage advice, welcome or not, would be soon to follow. "Bizarre? A dream come true? A nightmare? Not what you had in mind? Interesting? I daresay it is many things, Sarah, but maybe because it is so many things, it'd be best to see them in hindsight with a clearer perspective. That said, it's best not to worry about it now."

"I won't have time to mull over it later if I cause an international incident."

"Just keep your wits about you and you'll be fine. If something goes wrong, blame a goblin."

"That's terrible." Sarah thought about it for a moment, "I suppose they'd be used to it with Jareth."

"Not necessarily, but they're far easier to make amends with. Not all of the other royalty can see them anyway, some through a genetic disposition and others bred that way."

"I still don't think I could do that."

"And that's why I have faith in you as their leader."

"That's probably something else I don't want to think about right now, Jan," Sarah commented on dryly, plopping down in a chair.

"It's hard but rewarding work, Sarah. You'll learn about it as you go. For now, you need to relax."

"I'm getting married to a man or whatever Jareth is—"

"He's Fae, dear."

"I know but that's not the point. I don't know him. I don't know this world. I'm going to be in charge of part of this world. The impression that I'm getting from all the other folk in charge of their part of this world is that everyone is bored and wants a war to stir things up. That doesn't sound incredibly promising to me." Sarah closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the chair.

"Are you finished?" Jan asked sweetly.

"In a manner of speaking," Sarah mumbled back.

Jan laughed. "You've got a good head on your shoulders, Sarah. Everything will work out fine. Elizabeth and I will help you out as much as we can when Jareth isn't. You can't believe that Jareth would thrust you in the middle of everything without some inkling."

"To watch me squirm? He might," Sarah mused, a grin slowly creeping across her lips all the same. "But I guess he wouldn't put me anywhere strictly dangerous."

"No, he wouldn't," Jan agreed. "He'll keep you safe."

Sarah sat up in the chair and focused on her hands. "Yeah, I trust him that much." She glanced up to Jan with another smile. "Otherwise he would have had the bus barreling down the street kill me off."

Jan raised a curious eyebrow.

Before Jan could question, Sarah held her hands up, "Don't ask. Sort of a joke but probably in poor taste."

"All the same, we should probably start dressing you."

"Dressing me?"

"I assure you, it's much easier."

"Well, I understand that but it's still a little strange."

"Have you seen your own wedding dress yet?"

Sarah confessed she had not and Jan insisted that it must be righted immediately. Jan marched over and flung open the doors to the closet. The room was dark except for several soft candles and the moon beginning its steady ascent, but the dress still glowed in a white that was nearly tinged blue for how it brilliantly reflected the light. Despite all her misgivings, Sarah had to touch it. It was elegantly simple with long sleeves ending in a flash of small color from the jewels sewn on. The same crescent that Sarah had seen around Jareth's neck and a few spots (everywhere really) around his private office, was lightly outlined in a pale grey on the bodice that dipped low, but not scandalously so, into a soft V.

"Hard to believe it's a few millennia old, yes?" Jan asked with a sly smile, noting Sarah's expression.

Sarah nodded dumbly, running her hand down the soft, gentle skirt. She wouldn't have admitted it, but it was a lovely gown, something she would have sketched idly and wished she could sew a decent enough stitch to do it justice. "It'll do," she whispered, now tracing the insignia.

Jan watched Sarah with amusement. "Would you like a few minutes first?"

"No, I'm fine," Sarah insisted.

"Let me lace you up then, dear. Unless you rather a goblin help."

As though summoned, Owena popped her head in the door. "Majesty need help?" she squeaked. Her unwashed hair was tied into two long braids ending in white bows, the ends of which were trailing the ground and likely to be stepped on by a particularly mean-spirited goblin. As she whipped around the room, tidying up first, she nearly knocked down most everything she fixed as her hair swung behind her, bursting into tears of apology when she bumped into Jan's skirt.

"Calm down, Owena," Sarah sighed. "You can help and Jan will supervise."

The waterworks stopped and Owena's face switched to determination. Jan was smart enough not to try to instruct Owena, the goblin's stubby but nimble fingers working the intricate lacings together at a furious pace. Just as Owena stepped back to arrange Sarah's skirt and the short train, Elizabeth entered quickly and closed the door behind her with a bit of a scowl and sprigs of leaves and petals strewn in her hair and stuck to her dress. Her expression dissolved into a smile.

"Sarah, you look wonderful."

She was right. Sarah knew she couldn't argue but then she didn't really have any wish to. Instead, she murmured her thanks and inspected herself in the mirror. Owena had already found a chair and started trying to set Sarah's hair in a pattern; she'd scoff when Sarah moved too much one way or another, jumping down and scooting the chair to where it needed to be more than once.

"I still wish Karen and Dad and Toby could be here," Sarah whispered. "It'd make it a little easier."

"I wish I could help, Sarah," Jan said with real remorse. "We do not have the authority to bring mortals into this world." She held Sarah's hand and squeezed it gently. "I would not assume to take your family's place Sarah, but I hope you know that I will be there for you whenever you need me."

"And should you ever need a friend, Sarah," Elizabeth added.

Sarah hugged them both as Owena squawked in protest, nearly toppling off the chair again. "Thank you both so much," she stated softly. "I really needed that."

"An' speakin' of friends…" a gruff voice mentioned at the door.

"Hoggle! Ludo! Sir Didymus! You're here!"

"My Lady," Sir Didymus acknowledged with a bow.

"Sarwah pretty," Ludo cooed loudly.

"Verily, my Lady, you are resplendent, indeed."

Hoggle met Sarah's eyes with a quirked brow and nodded his mutual approval. "We thought maybe you mights need some company. 'Is Majesty mentioned that we could escort you to the main courtyard soon."

Sarah's face fell slightly. "Oh." She perked up with a lighter air. "Well, it's still good to see you all again." She moved to draw them into a hug but Owena, finally finished with Sarah's hair, stood between them, afraid that her handiwork would be quickly undone.

"'Salright, Sarah," Hoggle assured her. "Course, should you want to escape, we're on your side."

Elizabeth and Jan had watched the whole exchange curiously and then shared a significant look between the two of them. Sarah still caught it in her peripheral vision.

"I guess it's only something like treason if the Labyrinth already recognizes me," Sarah mused. "Thank you, Hoggle, but I can't."

"Sarwah sad?" Ludo asked, clearly confused.

"Oh, Ludo, not exactly," Sarah assured him, reaching up to rub behind his long ears.

Sir Didymus considered Sarah with a calculating stare, his little fox eyes sparkling with something more than instinct. He shared a glance with Hoggle who seemed to share his conclusions. Sarah couldn't take it anymore.

"Alright, this is getting ridiculous. Let's talk about something else."

Sir Didymus launched into a story on his adventures, with the occasional loud BA-RUKE from Ludo as he remembered the same events fondly and Hoggle scuffing his shoes with a few modest statements. Jan and Elizabeth contented themselves with giggling along with Sarah, especially Didymus mentioned when fairies playing a practical joke setting a whole village into a superstitious frenzy.

Eventually, Hoggle reached into his small jewel pouch and retrieved a crystal, now glowing red. "Sarah. It's time," he explained.

Sarah's heart clenched but she nodded all the same. Owena, who was evidently quite taken with Hoggle and blushing furiously, snapped back into her hysterical self and set a small circlet and veil gently on Sarah's head, again with the help of a chair strategically placed. With one last hug, Jan and Elizabeth excused themselves with a few more words of encouragement that Sarah smiled at but didn't actually hear.

In fact, as she walked down the hallway with her honor guard (Ludo nearly stepping on her train more than once and Hoggle swatting him for it) with a growing sense of numbness. The large doors opened with a generous shove from Ludo and Sarah walked forward with an assortment of flowers that had been thrust into her hand by an energetic goblin clasped in front of her.

Had Sarah not been numb to her new world, she might have noticed the creatures and monarchs that had gathered ranging from dragons, dwarves, goblins of course, elves, dark creatures that scuttled off to their own corner, a pond of many aquatic guests, and a collection of those from ancient myths, each representing their own kingdom. Had Sarah not been numb, she may have noticed Jareth's white clothes strongly resembled those he had worn after her experience of the Labyrinth as he now stood waiting patiently. Had Sarah not been numb as she walked serenely down the aisle laid with dragon scales to bless her marriage, she might have noticed the moonlight solidifying into a man with brilliant skin. Had Sarah not been numb while the man droned in a lilting voice using a language she did not know, she might have taken time to not the craftsmanship on her wedding band (a gift from the dwarves) and the ornate crown (passed down from the ancients) or perhaps the sapling from the elves or the seal of protection tainted from the dark creatures but effective. Had Sarah not been numb to her new world, she might have noticed her new subjects cheering and shouting with all propriety lost.

What Sarah did remember, however, was the end of the ceremony when, Jareth lifted the veil and she looked at him for the first time throughout the whole ordeal. Really looked at him. Maybe there was something in those eyes besides that cool image, and she thought she saw something. She could not explain what she saw in his mismatched eyes but it gave her a sense of hope that she had been lacking. Maybe, just maybe, they could make something of this, make it work.

Then, supposedly under the instruction of the glowing man overseeing everything, he kissed her harshly, and Sarah had to restrain herself from slapping his cheek.

Maybe not.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 12 of 50

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