Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 6 of 50

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Power Struggle

"Sarah, are you okay?" Toby asked with real concern.

Sarah smiled weakly. "I'm not sure yet Toby. Have you had a good afternoon?"

"It was amazing! We went to see some dragons and some dwarves like Hoggle and some elves and we saw some creatures that I'd never even heard of." Toby went off describing everything he'd seen and Sarah had to work to cipher out the words as he smashed then together excitedly. She did her best to pay attention but her mind was on other matters. After Jareth had dropped her off and introduced her to her new room, he left abruptly to some matter or another just as Toby burst in. The room itself was large and had a delightful wide balcony where she and Toby now sat, overlooking the Labyrinth. The view was fantastic but Sarah's eyes were fixated either on her brother's animated gestures or her tea cup.

Marek knocked on the door after half an hour, politely asking Toby if he would like to have a tour around the castle.

"You're welcome to join us, Sarah," Marek added.

"No, I think I'd just like some time to myself."

Marek nodded his understanding and lead Toby away, further aware that there would be plenty of time for Sarah to orient herself later. Sarah took to better orientating herself first and foremost to her room. She had been given a large bed with a deep wood finish and dark pink canopy complete with light pink covers, ultimately bordering on Sarah's sense of too much pink but somehow in a pleasant matter. All the doors had the same brilliant varnish as the intricate bedposts, complete with similar twisting designs carved in the wood. A bookshelf was built into one wall and she inspected it to find some of her own books shelved by author with a few new books she'd never seen before. Sarah pulled out one particularly dusty tome and coughed when the scent of old paper filled her nose. She plopped down on a large rich red chair, kicking her feet up on the small table.

"Getting an early start?"

Sarah jumped as Jareth stood behind her chair, glancing over her shoulder. He leaned down and picked up the book from her lap. "Social etiquette and history already?"

"I couldn't even read the title on this one, thanks," Sarah bit back.

"A likely excuse. But seeing as this is written in a language even I am scarcely familiar with, I accept it." He flicked his wrist and revealed a crystal, offering it to her. Sarah only eyed it suspiciously. Jareth chuckled. "It'll only help you understand much faster than learning a new language."

Tentatively taking the sphere, the swirling script shifted into a much more familiar format. "Thanks," Sarah mumbled half heartedly. "I think it's time you and I had a talk."

"Oh," Jareth replied noncommittally, plopping down on the other chair and swinging one leg over the chair's arm.

"But I want one thing perfectly clear. I expect you to answer me honestly in this conversation, no joking around…or at least minimal joking around. Just answers."

"I'm not inclined to take orders. Would you follow your own conditions?"

Sarah sighed, mentally noting the wonderful beginning. "Listen Jareth, I can make your life a hell of a lot more difficult and don't think I won't," she warned when Jareth already showed signs of protesting. "You need my cooperation but I will not simply bow down."

"You might have to," Jareth informed her with an edge to his voice.

"Fine. If you want this to be some sort eternal power struggle, that's just dandy with me. The only reason you'd win would be with my untimely demise."

"If you wish to start a war of will, Sarah, I can assure you—"

"No, that's not the point. I'm sure we're both too stubborn for our own good. All I'm trying to say is that I'm hoping you'll be willing to bend every now and again and meet me halfway."

"I do not bend."

Sarah sighed, noting that her turn of phrase was not serving her as well as it normally did. "All the same, can you tell me plainly what's going on?"

Jareth looked her up and down with a vaguely suspicious expression. "What is it you want to know?"

"Why did you come into my room and say that I had to marry you?"

"Mostly because that's the situation I find myself in."

"Why me?"

"Why not?"

"But why would you chose me?"

"The shortest answer is that I didn't."

"Oh. I thought at the end of the Labyrinth that perhaps…"

"Ah, well that is quite an effective tactic, saying exactly what the female runners, and the occasional male, always wanted to hear."

Sarah tsked, pushing aside her slightly bruised ego. "That's not a fair strategy at all."

"Perhaps not. Why so upset? Did you believe it?"

"At the time, well, yes I did," Sarah admitted, trying to do her part in the bid for truth.

"I suppose to be 'fair,' as you put it, I did go the extra effort in that category. The Labyrinth has always kept its eye, if you will, open so I knew that a runner was always a possibility. Seeing as how you were the farthest in a century, I did hope that the prospect would not be quite as repulsive as it seems now. I admit that I was disappointed when you refused, seeing as how you passed the Labyrinth's test and would likely be bound to it unless it found some reason not to. Were there any deeper feelings, I suppose the infatuation is gone."

"Are you bitter that I rejected you as a fifteen year old?" Sarah teased lightly, reading into Jareth's tone.

"It was a blow to my image. I'm not used to being refused," Jareth shrugged defensively.

"That's going to change," Sarah said under her breath. In her normal voice, she continued, "So what have I got to do with this?"

"Very simply, the Labyrinth had some part in interfering with my magic and has since given access to you. Why you have it is not entirely clear but the Labyrinth has chosen you, nonetheless. You completed the challenge so you've won the prize. Your brother's freedom was just a nice little incentive."

"When you put it all that way, it sounds so…nastily simplistic."

"I will not see my kingdom torn apart because my magic is off in the Aboveground, turning off alarm clocks and making coffee or spilling drinks on unwanted boyfriends—" Jareth smirked as Sarah turned red, "—when I need it to keep control down here. Magic loses its potency in the Aboveground if you're not cautious. Even if I waited for your death, unless I sent a bus barreling down the road the next day, the Labyrinth would never be the same again. This is the only way."

Sarah raised an eyebrow, noting that this was probably the closest Jareth had ever come to begging in his life. "I really don't have much choice in the matter, do I?"

"I'd certainly prefer it if you chose a much smoother temperament instead of the kicking and screaming option."

"So we're forced together by a meddling hunk of stone and whatever else?"

"Not entirely. There are other matters at work."

"Such as?"

"Nothing you need to be concerned with now. It's far too complicated."

"You know, as annoying as comments like that are, this is the most civil conversation I've ever had with you."

"Fascinating, isn't it? I was waiting for a temper tantrum."

"Allow me to grow up somewhat, Jareth," Sarah drawled with a hint of contempt.

"Regardless of whether you're grown up or whatever else, we will be married in three days time."

"You're never going to let me go home, are you?" Sarah whispered after a long moment of silence, despair tingeing her words.

"You are home, Sarah. The sooner you can accept that, the easier this will be."

"What about Toby?"

"He can stay until the wedding then you'll need to focus on your studies for a while."

"I've agreed to nothing yet," Sarah pointed out.

"And it's moot all the same. You can see Toby in a year or two."

Sarah felt anger rising: "If you're going to make this as difficult as possible, why don't you leave now so we can save the fights until after the damned ceremony?"

"And there," Jareth's tone still held a general lightness that now rounded to a point, "is the temper I'd come to expect. Don't make matters worse for yourself, Sarah."

"Well how do you expect me to react? Forced into marriage with a prick who has yet to say a kind word to me or really made an attempt to make it any easier? I don't appreciate your arrogance when I'm honestly trying to sort this all out. Marriage is more than a contract, Jareth, and I don't take it lightly."

"Are you suggesting that I do?"

"Not exactly. I'm trying to be upfront here." Sarah sighed and docked her voice to a weary but quieter level: "We're really not getting anywhere now. Let's wait until we've both calmed down."

Jareth nearly snarled as he bit out, "As you wish," and was gone. Sarah flopped back into her chair again, not really recalling when she'd stood up.

"Well that went well," Sarah said to no one in particular.

A voice at her doorway agreed. "Pardon my intrusion, but at least you did make some ground before the conversation turned a little less friendly."

Sarah shook her head. "Come on in. How much did you listen to, Marek?"

"Oh, pretty much the whole thing."

"Weren't you taking Toby on a tour?"

"Well, he wasn't truly interested in the history of the castle anyway and seemed much keener on opening random doors and discovering secret passageways for himself."

"If this is how all our conversations are going to end up, I might just set myself in front of the bus and save Jareth the trouble."

Marek wore a look of utter confusion. "A bus? What is this and how would it solve your distress?"

"Don't worry about it. But tell me honestly, how well could you hear the louder bits of the argument through the door?"

"Well enough."

"It didn't start out so bad, at least," Sarah admitted. "I just don't think he understands. And even if he does, he's not making it any easier."

"With all due respect, you're not the only one forced in this situation."

"You have a point, Marek, I'll give you that. But at least Jareth's on his home turf and with some semblance of control. I hate being subject to his whims."

"With all due respect again, everyone else in the Labyrinth is subject to his whims."

"Marek, you're not being as helpful as I would have liked," Sarah shook her head again. "But all the same thanks for trying. Apparently, this is just going to take some getting used to. This isn't how I pictured my wedding at all but what really gets me is how fast this is all happening. I'd hoped for at least a little time to figure this all out. If you don't mind, I'd just like to be alone."

"Of course, my Lady." Marek bowed courteously and walked out the still open door, closing it behind him. Sarah plopped heavily on the bed. The book Jareth had picked up sat on the corner and she shoved it off with a satisfying clunk, certainly not wanting to dwell on all the little rules now…there would be plenty of time to argue about that later.

Seemingly of its own accord, the book was carefully and slowly pushed back into its place. Sarah frowned and leaned over, watching as Owena stood as tall as she could and hoisted the heavy book.

"Your Majesty dropped it. I was just returning it to its spot."

"That's alright Owena. So am I right in guessing that my own wedding was what you couldn't tell me?" Owena nodded slowly. "And where the Frosties were going. And probably something to do with Jareth's tour of all those different places Toby mentioned, I'd imagine." Owena nodded again. Sarah let out yet another sigh. "Maybe if I pretend I'm okay with all of this, I'll actually get some say in my wedding dress."


"Just call me Sarah, please Owena."

"Yes, Your Majesty. Sarah, the gown is already picked. 'Tis traditional."

"Wonderful," Sarah muttered sarcastically.

"Now it is a pretty gown."

"I'm sure it is but that's not the point." Sarah held up a hand to stop Owena from immediately asking what the point was exactly, not sure if she could find sufficient words for the matter.

"Is there any other quirk I should know about?" Owena stood wringing her hands and shifting nervously; Sarah had her answer: "I thought as much."

"The surprises will be wonderful, you'll see."

"I sure hope you're right, Owena. So where did you go after you left?"

"I had to tend to a few things here. Flowers for the wedding, too."

"I don't suppose you could tell me about them, at least? Never mind," Sarah shook off her own question when she noticed Owena's agitation growing once more. "What else did you do?"

"Well," a blush filled Owena's deep green cheeks, "I did go visit Tyrin."

Sarah grinned, happy for a distraction as she teased Owena mercilessly.

Jareth sorted through his work, signing another document with a rough stroke of the pen, the only obvious sign of his anger…if one happened to miss the scowl across his face.

"So…you're making progress with Sarah?"

"Not exactly."

"Have you tried much?"

"She needs to understand her place."

"Maybe with time but you can't expect her to cope with everything at once."

"As your future queen, I thought you'd agree with me in that she needs to be ready for many situations."

"This isn't one of those that might come up in a diplomatic crisis."

Jareth sighed and turned to Marek. "So what do you suggest, since you're obviously dying to do so?"

"She resigned to the marriage, that I could gather. But you could make the effort to make the situation a little less hurried and overwhelming. At least try and get to know her. I don't believe you'll find it a waste of your time, in any account." Marek took a deep breath. "I know you're not particularly found of the circumstances but perhaps the two of you can make the most of the situation."

"Perhaps you could do two things to ease my mind?"

"Anything," Marek promised.

"Stop all this meddling and you be the one to tell Elizabeth that our engagement is canceled in lieu of this new one."

Marek grimaced but none the less inclined his head respectfully. "As you wish, Jareth."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 6 of 50

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