Sarah Williams-Hanson sniffed a little as she put the final touches on her little tree.
"Well, there was no sense in putting up a big tree anyway." She said out loud to no one.
Not no one exactly, her cat Ziggy perked up and eyed the tree, giving a little "ekekek" with wide eyes checking out the sparkly ornaments.
"Now don't you dare, Zigs. You'll have plenty of new shines tomorrow morning. I wouldn't not get your yearly boon of kitty goodies."
"Miiirp." He answered, then rolled over and purred. Sarah scratched his ears and kissed him on his nose.
Sarah snuggled into her chair with a large cup of Hot cocoa that had a generous amount of Irish cream added. Ziggy curled into her lap and slept as his mistress stared at the tree, melancholy setting in.
Alone on Christmas. She was divorced, 40 something, her kids, Sasha 15, Ben Jr. 13, and Lila 10, were spending the holidays with her ex and his pretty, pregnant 25 year old wife.
Could I be any more of a cliche?
Divorce sucked. In fact she had to say marriage did too. The only good that came out it were her 3 babies. And with each one it seemed Ben had loved her a little less, found her a little less attractive or interesting.
Oh she gave him credit he loved his kids and doted on them, but it was Sarah herself that eventually because the source of his constant annoyance.
At first he'd loved cleverness, her persistence, her fight. But for him, he wanted a homemaker, a mother, a perfect family.
That she had a fairly successful career as a children's book author, he didn't like that either. It took too much attention from him. He somehow assumed when she had kids she was going to give it up.
She didn't. Strike one.
Sarah was many things, but perfect was not one of them. And after 3 kids, her tight curvy figure gave way to curves being a little too generous, breasts not as round and perky, stretch marks in places there weren't before. She worked out and kept in decent shape, but unless she came into a generous plastic surgery windfall, there were some things that were irreversible. *Her* 23 year old pre-pregnancy body wasn't coming back.
Stike Three, as he had so clearly laid out, she was just to damn obstinate and not willing to bend to his will.
With that strike three. Sarah was out.
Pretty submissive giggly Amanda was in.
"Eh. Fuck it." She downed her drink, letting warm the chill from her.
She made herself another and got back in her comfy spot, and picked up the book she'd found while going through boxes in her garage.
Running her hands over the tattered red leather and faded gold letters, she smiled sentimentally thinking about her friends.
She written about them all, selling her tales of their many adventures, children had taken to her offbeat characters. Hoggle, Sir Didymus, Ludo. The Goblins and their enigmatic king.
Oh she knew it was all real. There was no doubt it had all happened to her. And though wishing her brother away had been a stupid thing to do, she never regretted the outcome. It gave her a cherished set of memories that were unique and precious. She'd learned so much.
"How you turned my world, you precious things." She sang off key. As she reminesced. The picture of The Goblin King crystal clear in her head. His handsome sharply defined face and uneven blue eyes.
"He was gorgeous." Sarah sighed. That teenage girl tucked away deep inside her heart swooned a bit, her heart giving a little flutter. A small part if her wished she'd chosen him.
It was too late for such things, but there was another regret. More than any girlhood fantasy.
"I really wish I would have thanked him. Let him know I get it now."
She laid the book down, leaned back, and closed her eyes.
"Well then, it's about time, isn't it Sarah Williams?"
She wasn't sure who moved faster, Ziggy or herself.
Ziggy was gone like a shot disappearing into the bedroom, and Sarah was on her feet, mouth wide open, speechless.
The Goblin King was in her living room.
THE GOBLIN KING IS IN MY LIVING ROOM SITTING NONCHALANTLY ON MY COFFEE TABLE SMILING AT ME AND HOLY CRAP!
Her brained screamed at her while she tried to come to terms with the whole concept.
"Well, precious? Have you been rendered mute in these past 25 plus years?" He tilted his head and smirked at her, brows raised as he waited for her response.
She took a couple of deep breaths." Um no. I'm just...why are you here?"
"You wished. I was curious."
"Are you going to..to...take me? I can't! I have kids, my home, my cat. You can't just carry me away! I won't go Goblin King!"
He stood and took a step toward her. "Jareth, please. And no. I'm not here to take you away. Or your cat. I have enough random felines wandering about my ramshackle kingdom. How they get in I'll never know." He rolled his eyes. "But they terrify the Goblins so they amuse me at times." He chuckled a little.
Sarah felt a strong surge of relief. "Oh thank goodness. Sooo, you're just here for what? A thank you?"
"It would be a novelty. I never get one."
She observed him a minute. "Would you like some hot chocolate?"
He smiled. A real smile. "Why, yes, I would. That would be the perfect type of thank you for a being such as me. My clever girl." He gave her a look that said he meant those words.
He appreciated she knew better than to just say the words.
She made them both a cup as he got comfortable, and fetched some frosted sugar cookies she'd made too.
His cape had dissappeared, when she returned, and he was lounging on her sofa. He was looking at a picture of her and the kids that had been on the table, holding it in his gloved hand.
"Here." She handed him the cup and plate of sweets, he nodded as he sat the picture down and took them from her.
They sat and sipped the hot beverage for a few minutes, Jareth gleefully consuming a cookie.
He wiped his mouth on a handkerchief that appeared out of nowhere and sat the cup down. "Your children are beautiful." He said finally, turning to her.
"You can't have them." She replied snarkily.
He let out a big laugh, and it made her laugh too.
"I wouldn't dare. You are far too formidable."
"I'm glad you learned your lesson." She teased.
"And how is Tobias?"
Sarah leaned back. "He's 26 years old. Off conquering the world. I think you rubbed off on him. He wants to be a politician. Change the world, right the wrongs, help people."
"Sounds he has a fair bit of you in him. Not I."
"Not anymore. Real life took its toll. I don't get to live in fantasy land. World changing is for 26 year olds. Not a divorced mom of 3 who writes storybooks and sit at home alone sad, drinking on Christmas Eve."
Jareth crossed one leg gracefully over the other." And you don't think those storybooks don't change worlds, Sarah? Do you how my world works? "
" I guess I never thought about it, " She answered.
" The Underground is fueled and fed by dreams, my Champion. The truth is, you've repaid me 1000 times over. Do you know how many children dream of us? We are stronger, more vibrant than ever. Before you, we were on the brink of fading. You saved us. With those books, we will go on forever. And, there might be movies, toys, so who knows?"
Sarah blinked in surprise." I did that? "
He nodded." You did. You are a hero in my world. Adored and revered. That is one reason I came to see you. I've checked on you when I could, and I haven't liked what I've seen lately. If you stop believing in yourself, believing in your strength, losing your will, well, it hurts me to see our Sarah in such a way. "
" I...oh." Her eyes welled up." I didn't know. "
" Now you do. You are my Champion Sarah Williams, do not forget The Goblin King has given you his favor. It's not given out freely. You earned it. You are strong...and beautiful. You are a free citizen of my lands and you carry certain powers. No other human holds such an honor. "
Sarah didn't know what to say. Just then Ziggy hopped up on her lap, glaring at Jareth.
Jareth clicked his tongue and held out his hand. The cat chirped happily and went to him, allowing The Goblin King to pet him.
"He likes you." Sarah said, blinking the tears from her eyes with a wry grin.
"Yes, we are both wild things born from nature, we compliment each other's existence. Though he is much tamer than we see in my kingdom. They run wild underground, but are well fed and safe there."
Ziggy flopped down between them, content the stranger was friendly and welcome.
" So Jareth, do you have children? "She asked.
" Yes. Two daughters. "
Sarah had to admit, a small part of her had wished the handsome king was single.
" Oh. That's good. "
"All grown and married now. My wife...she died. Long ago."
" I'm sorry. You don't look that old." Sarah observed.
He laughed. "I am Fae, dear. And Vereila, well, we don't marry for romantic love typically. It's not done. She was a good queen, mother, and I mourn her passing, but not in the way you mourn your marriage. To love...well, for Fae, it's rare. You love your children, of course. That is Honorable as you are responsible for them. But spouses...no. We tend to live separately except for our children. We are far too capricious for that."
" That seems sad. I guess even magical marriage isn't very magical. "
"No. No it isn't. Your husband was fool, Sarah. Don't mourn him."
"I don't, but do mourn what I thought we had. At the beginning. I mourn being with my family." She said, her voice becoming thick.
Jareth reached out and took her chin between his fingers, and grasped her hand with his free one. He looked into her eyes.
"You will be fine. Strong, brave, beautiful Sarah. This I promise."
She wanted so much to believe him. To believe in herself.
He let her go and rose. "You owe me a dance." He smiled and held out his hand.
Sarah looked down at her sweats and flannel shirt them looked up at him. "Here, like this?"
"Yes. Don't defy me." One eyebrow tilted up in an unspoken dare, but a smile played on his lips.
"Well okay I guess." She took his gloved hand and he pulled her into his arms, and they began to move.
From nowhere and everywhere, there was music. Familiar music.
There's such a sad love
Deep in your eyes
a kind of pale jewel
Open and closed
Within your eyes
I'll place the sky
Within your eyes
There's such a fooled heart
Beatin' so fast
In search of new dreams
A love that will last
Within your heart
I'll place the moon
Within your heart
Their eyes never parted as he guided her through the living room to the soft music.
Far too soon the song ended and Jareth let go and stepped away, bowing low. "I thank you, my Champion. Shhh."
She went to speak and he held his finger up.
" Don't say thank you to me remember? Just smile. And never stop believing in yourself. You already have my favor. "
" I promise. I won't. "
He looked around, and in a flash the cape was back." Well, Sarah Williams, I must go. I'll be looking in occasionally, so behave. Or don't. " He wagged his brows and gave her a wicked grin." Be well, My Lady. "
He went to turn and go.
She reached out and grabbed his arm. "Wait."
Jareth looked at her curiously.
She couldn't stop herself. That part of her young heart that still lived and beat within took charge.
She pushed up on her toes and did the one thing she couldn't do before.
She kissed him. His lips were soft, and tingled. He tasted like a thunderstorm and smelled like rain and cedar. For a moment, he kissed her back. It was pure magic and everything she wanted it to be. She was young again, in that moment.
She pulled away and looked up into his shocked face.
"Sarah Williams, you continually surprise me." He said.
She smiled. "I had to know what it was like. And it was every girl's dream. Maybe someday..." she let it hang there, that word.
He knew what she meant. If someday, he were to fall in love, maybe someday it would be her.
Jareth couldnt say it, but she already touched him more deeply than anyone ever had.
" Stranger occurances have happened. Rare, but certain nonexistent. But for now, I've a Kingdom to tend to, and you've children to raise."
"If I'm not to old by then. And wrinkly." Sarah joked.
Jareth chuckled. "My dear, you are an infant compared to me, and that's not how the Underground works. So, yes, perhaps someday. Until then, Merry Christmas, and if you should need us..."
Those long ago words, that memory came back and she smiled through her one again threatening tears.
He said nothing more, bowed once more and disappeared.
Sarah couldn't stop smiling as she picked up the cups and plate and put them in the sink. Ziggy wound around her ankles, chirping and meowing.
"Yes yes. We'll go to bed soon." Sarah told the black cat.
She locked everything up and went to pick up her book to take it to bed with her, and there on top was a crystal, and a note.
Look into it, it will show you your dreams, Sarah Williams.
She cradled it and the book as she climbed into bed.
Ziggy joined her, curling into a ball against her, purring happily.
Sarah turned off the light and sat the book and crystal on her nightstand, where it glowed softly.
She looked into it, watching her and the Goblin King dance round and round, her in a beautiful dress and him in his ball finery.
She fell asleep with that dream, and danced all night long in his arms.
A world away, The Goblin King watched her dream from afar.
"Yes, Sarah, maybe someday, after all is said and done, perhaps not just a dream after all."