Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 33 of 50

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Power Struggle

The Goblin Kingdom calmed over the next week, and Sarah soon found that her duties were comparatively easy to what was expected of her in the darker lands. Goblin paperwork, though messy and full of scribbles, was more understandable than she would have guessed. Surprisingly enough, her experience with all the detailed paperwork of her old job had her sorting and sifting through piles at a rate that amazed her husband.

"Why do we even have paperwork, Jareth? I mean, where does it all go?"

"Records. And it slows how quickly the goblins will complain if they have to be able to spell it."

"That makes a lot of sense actually."

"Aside from that, I can look for potential problems before they become anything more, and other Fae spaced out in the kingdom can put in petition this way without fear of a goblin welcome."

"There are other Fae in the kingdom?"

"Did you think that Marek was wished down here? No there are Fae, a handful of secluded humans, and several other beings that are filed away somewhere as well."

"Written down so you don't have to remember. Okay, I think I got it."

"You are so expedient that I hardly see how it matters. You may see to any and all paperwork from now on."

"Like hell. A, you're not pushing all this on me. B, notice the lack of goblins in the room right now; you'd definitely miss it. And C, call it quality time. We'll bond over mutual suffering and papercuts."

"I suppose if you're going to put it that way."

"Yes, I am," Sarah affirmed with a chuckle.

All the same, they had to desert their relative peace for a few hours of what Jareth formally called grievances, though they both agreed it was more an outlet for inane complaining from a chunk of the goblin populace. Surprisingly, they had a system of sorts, though Jareth swore he had never attempted such, to where Sarah was certain with a little time she'd be able to predict which goblin was going to complain next. Sometimes, Sarah noted sleepily, Jareth had to lay down a sensible solution, otherwise he would lay down the suck-it-up-and-deal treatment, both of which the goblins thanked him profusely for. One point of interest in the whole ordeal for Sarah (since under their wager she was not even required to be present for the week of grievances, let alone invent a solution) stood in the back of the room, a rough cloth cloak sheltering him from the misting rain. He pushed back the red hood and met Sarah's gaze from across the room, inclining his head.

"Jareth," Sarah whispered as Urk recited his usual whine that someone had hidden his favorite chicken again, "Who is that?"

"His name is Lyle. I imagine since he is here you will have the opportunity to question him later."

The rotation finished its course and the goblins sat at Jareth's feet waiting for him to bellow their dismissal, typically in the form of threats and sending at least four goblins bodily from the room. An uncharacteristic silence fell as Jareth asked, "Are their any other matters that need attending?"

Lyle took his cue to stand up and walk toward the platform, upon which Jareth and Sarah surveyed the packed room. "I seek your blessing, your majesties."

"In what endeavor?" Jareth asked, nodding to the dwarf scribe (who had a little more intelligence than the rest of the mob).

"You are aware that I have tended to the orchards east of the Labyrinth since my arrival." Sarah felt this bit was added for her benefit. "Recently, for reasons not yet determined, the trees have been declining. The fruit turns rotten."

"I have heard of this development. Two elves have been sent to survey what they can, though they will not arrive for some time. For what do you seek my blessing?"

"Seeing as my services are not in heavy demand, with the death of a third of the orchard, I wish to start a new farm."

"Do you wish this tract of land to be near Maggie?"

Lyle colored, the red fading into his olive complexion as he brushed his dark hair from his face. "Yes, I seek your blessing in that matter as well."

"And you shall have both."

"Thank you, my King."

"Now, if that is all," Jareth announced to the room, casting a dangerous glance to the goblins hanging on the fixtures. Most of the able goblins had already started for the doors, though Jareth had found the minimum four goblins to chuck from the room.

"That's enough of that for now," he muttered, though Sarah could see the sardonic smile tugging at his lips. "Please stay for a moment, Lyle. I believe my wife wishes to interrogate you."

"Oh, nothing quite that harsh," Sarah assured him as Lyle looked momentarily stricken. "I just haven't met as many humans here as I might have suspected."

Lyle's eyes widened slightly. "You're human? From Above?"

"Freshly plucked out of. Do you remember anything about it?"

"A little. I've been here a long time."

"Only about seventy five years," Jareth shrugged.

"You look pretty good for over seventy five."

Lyle smiled. "Part of living in the Underground."

Sarah asked about Maggie, who had apparently been wished to the Underground forty eight years prior, but otherwise, as refreshing as it was to talk to another human, the conversation soon grew awkward. Lyle whispered his respects again, bowing and keeping all proper decorum, before exiting with perhaps only a little less trepidation than the goblins.

"You had hoped to gain a human friend?" Jareth asked when Sarah sighed.

"It might have been nice. But the only thing he really remembers is Franklin Roosevelt. Not exactly the best conversation starter. And he looked like he thought I was going to send him off to an oubliette if he stuttered, human or not."

"You could."

"I wouldn't without reason."

"Sarah, you've been in office for about a month. He doesn't know that. You're still queen. It's going to affect your relationships regardless."

"Scary thing is I think I'm started to settle into the role."

"I never doubted you."

"Never?" Sarah asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Perhaps there were a few occasions," Jareth admitted, standing and offering Sarah his hand.

"Maybe that just means I should arrange my family's visit sooner rather than later before I'm irreparably a queen. If my novelty wears off, I'll actually have to figure out what's going on."

"Sarah, you will always be more than just your job."

"So sure are you?"

"From what I know of you, Sarah. I don't think you could function any other way."

Sarah wrapped her arms around Jareth's middle. "As long as you see me that way, I suppose that's good enough."

They were both quiet for a moment, thinking through the loaded conversation. Other than the grievances and taking advantage of the momentary (and comparative) calm in the kingdom to repair and ready against future attacks, Sarah found that she was growing more and more fond of her husband. In moments like these, Sarah was tempted to start a "Define the relationship" conversation, though knowing full well that Jareth would state that they were married and make the conversation awkward for her thereafter stayed her tongue.

Besides, he'd inevitably ask her the same question, and Sarah didn't have a good answer for that. Not that she hadn't been thinking about it. While Jareth ran her through rudimentary flight lessons and other magic exercises and Marek began taking Sarah through tactical relations, Sarah gauged her circumstances. She'd only known Jareth for about a month; was that long enough to fully love him? They'd been through a lot, depended on each other to play roles, appreciated each other as confidants, and Sarah had officially decided that she was indeed falling for him. The question was had she gone from falling to fallen? The more Sarah agonized over it, the more important the tense of the verb stood in her mind. All the little signs she had read about in magazines, the gushy feeling she remembered with her first real boyfriend, the knowledge that he was taking a place in her life where he made her happy and simultaneously exasperated just by existing…Sarah knew she was in trouble.

There was no denying that Jareth was at least fond of her as well; Sarah wished she could have a full glimpse into his head, instead of the occasional bombardment of sentiments flooding through their magical bond, despite the control she had been slowly building. Those tended to be moments when he was staring at her, and Sarah found it incredibly reassuring.

Aside from Sarah's inner turmoil, another week passed relatively smoothly. Jan and Elizabeth sent updates from the meetings but sent their regrets that they had to convene with the water kingdom before they could return to spend time with the monarchs of the goblin kingdom. Neither confessed any disappointment that the meetings were over. Jareth, Marek, and Sarah scanned Jan's letter carefully, aware that some of what was written was phrased in such a way that those who may have been checking the flow of mail, magical or not, would let it pass with only the level of suspicion granted for any legal document. Another letter arrived with it, a personal petition from Ack, requesting to visit the goblin kingdom, with stated particular interest in the mechanical bits of the Labyrinth, from the Cleaners to some of the moving walls, though Sarah could only hope he had the insider information he had hinted.

Marek related what he had researched, he and Jareth communicating in fragments that made Sarah's head swim. But she got the jist of it, that something big could happen. They had to be ready.

Marek, spurred on by the information in Jan's letter, retreated to his rooms, which according to all goblin maid report looked worse than the throne room after the welcome home party, though Marek refused to let any being touch his resources. Supposedly he had a system.

"What about Ack?" Sarah asked at the end of the discussion, once Marek had returned to his book forts. "Can he come to visit?"

"Should we invite your family at the same time so they can entertain each other? Or should we put that off, too, and allow us this adjusting time as we had agreed?"

"I believe most of that conversation was you being selfish with my time."

"Be that as it may, I am giving you this choice."

Sarah chuckled, laying back on her brown couch. She enjoyed the library all the more for the use her and Jareth found in the couch. Sarah curled against him, both of their faces toward the fire in the grate.

"Before I allow Ack into the gates, I need to know again what he told you. We never did discuss it fully."

"Really, Jareth, he didn't tell me anything. He just said there were some rumors going around, wanted me to be careful." Sarah stopped and bit her lip. "He didn't want me to have anything to do with the dark goblins that day. I don't remember much else."

"Nothing else?"

"Well, he did say something else," Sarah recalled, "But I don't know if it's worth mentioning."

"It couldn't hurt."

"It's just kinda silly, but it stuck out to at the time."

Jareth turned to face her, Sarah was sure, but she kept her eyes on the fireplace. "It could be important, Sarah. You should know that about politics by now."

"Look, it's not worth all this build-up."

"Sarah," Jareth chastised, turning her chin gently so she faced him, "Don't hide things from me."

"Really, it's not that big a deal."


"All he said was that everyone knew the way you were acting to me was a farce but expected because I was mortal, okay?"

Jareth frowned. "I explained that to you."

"I know, but at the time everything was still really new and it struck a bit of a nerve."

She waited to gauge his reaction best she could. He seemed to be processing what she said and what she wanted to say.

After a few moments, he stood up. "I want to show you something." He offered his hand and Sarah took it, rising to her feet.

The hallway was remarkably empty, partly due to some event the goblins had created out of boredom, some sticks, and a profound lack of caution. They were silent, returning to their room. Sarah, for her part was thoroughly nervous, shy of wringing her hands if one of them had not been encased in Jareth's light but resolute grip.

Once Jareth had closed the door behind them, he released her hand and pulled a small wooden box out from under the bed.

"Sarah, I know that you trust me." He held the simple box in his grip for a moment. "I could outline ways that I have demonstrated my trust in you, but this one gets right to the point."

Jareth flipped open the lid.

"What is it?"

"I believe Jan and Elizabeth were to have mentioned it prior to the wedding." He pulled out the smooth stone, about as large as his palm, and broke it. "There is a half for either of us."

Sarah racked her brain, taking a seat on the bed. "Is that a fidelity stone?"

"Exactly. It's ours. I'm giving you your piece."

Sarah took the piece gingerly into one hand. "I didn't even know we had this. I mean, the wedding was kinda hazy, but I don't remember seeing it. Jan and Elizabeth said they weren't really used anymore because…" Sarah trailed off, staring at the lightly porous surface of the smooth tan rock. The information from that conversation filtered back into her mind. "You wanted to make sure I wasn't going to cheat on you," she deadpanned.

"Considering the circumstances, it was a precaution."

"From the beginning you didn't trust me at all."

"Sarah, I could not risk my kingdom, and in light of your reaction that night and Orion's interest in you, can you not see how this action might be at least partially justified? The stone, on top of the magical bond, helped me locate you when Orion was attempting to rape you," Jareth explained coolly, though his fists clenched at the final point. Sarah nearly didn't notice.

"But you didn't trust me," she repeated. "You might not have ever told me."

"Perhaps I did not completely trust you, Sarah. And I had anticipated this reaction. What I'm trying to show you now is that I trust you perhaps more than is safe to trust in the Underground. Marek knew nothing of this stone nor will he know a number of things that will remain between you and me."

Sarah ran her fingers around the piece of stone in her hand, allowing her thoughts to churn over what Jareth meant with this gesture. "Just give me a moment to think."

Jareth to his credit sat patiently. Sarah bit her bottom lip, still eyeing the stone. Eventually, she stood and held out her hand. "I think I get it, Jareth. Thank you for telling me."

Without hesitation, Jareth took off his glove and shook her hand. Sarah beamed and laughed as she threw her arms around Jareth's neck. Off guard, Jareth awkwardly caught her before they both toppled over, stumbling back until he (still unfairly managing to maintain his grace) sat heavily on the bed. Taking a handful of Jareth's hair, she pulled him into a kiss, the stone still in her other hand. His bare hand caressed her cheek while his other hand migrated underneath the blouse she had chosen to the curve of her waist. With a moan, Sarah deepened this kiss, pulling Jareth even closer.

"I want," Sarah panted, holding the stone a little higher, "I want this to go back with your half, Jareth."

"You sure you want to be stuck with me?" Jareth asked impishly as Sarah reached over him for the box.

"There are worse things," Sarah replied, setting the stone quickly in the box, shutting the lid, and returning her attentions immediately to her husband. She could vividly sense everywhere his fingers had been for the electricity that still sparked in his wake. She kissed his collarbone, making a trail down his chest proceeded by the light grazing of her fingertips. His breath hitched and Sarah smirked, noting the particular clouding in his eyes that was usually followed by a growl and she knew he wouldn't take much more of it. Sarah took her time, grazing her fingers lower but returning her lips to nip at his earlobe. "Jareth, I'm happy to be stuck with you," she whispered huskily.

"I never thought I'd be grateful to the Prophesy," he purred back.

He growled then, as her hands found the length of him, and began to kiss her with a new frenzy.

Stars in their eyes, they took the rest of the afternoon off.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 33 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>