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His Champion's Journey

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Weeks passed, and Jareth was miserable. He went through the motions, did his duty.

At night when he was alone, he would drink a bottle of wine and go to bed, consumed with thoughts of her. What was she doing? Was she dating? Was she happy?

You could look you know. His inner voice told him one afternoon.

His own thoughts betrayed him now. Fuck.

The goblins watched their king curiously. He had not kicked or bogged any of them since the girl had left.

But being goblins, their thoughts never lingered long.
_

This night Jareth was expected as some silly ball at court, and he loathed to attend. He had to, but it didn't mean he would like it.

He dressed in all black. Standing in the mirror staring at his reflection he remembered this was the clothing he had worn when Sarah had been chasing him through his room endless stairs. Funny how everything he did now, he viewed in a way that always related to her, or brought forth some memory of their times together.

"Well..I suppose I will get it over with, say my hellos, have a glass of wine, or two, and beg off to come home." He sighed.

He threw on his cape, and with a thought he was at the doors to ballroom at the courts.

An attendant bowed low, then opened the door for him.

"Presenting Jareth King of the Goblins!" Came a booming voice.

They all turned to look at him. This was the first time he had come her since the trials had ended.

Left and right, people came and bowed, remarking how happy the were he had regained his position, congratulating him. Women, and some men, flirting openly.

He made niceties but wanted to strangle every one of them. The fakery of them all driving him mad.

When he made it to where the wine was being served he was relieved. He snatched a glass and drained it, then took another and turned, watching the dancers dance.

I wish Sarah were here. I would dance with her all night. How wonderful it would to be looking into her shining pale jewels. Everyone else would fade away.

"Jareth?"

He turned his head and there, resplendent in her pale yellow dress and bright red hair, was the only other woman he had ever really cared for in his long life, besides his own long dead mother.

"Cassandra. You are looking lovely." He smirked at the irony of thinking about Sarah, at the time Cassandra would place herself in front of him.

Ah, Fates, you do love to play with me, rather like a cat with a mouse.

"Oh Jareth, it is wonderful to see you alive and well. I was worried you know. " She said, curtsying, a smile growing on her pretty pink lips.

She rose and pushed up to stand on her tiptoes, kissing him on the cheek.

"I have missed you. Your Majesty. You were hardly a king when I knew you last." Her blue eyes dancing.

"Time moved on." He answered simply.

She touched his arm delicately with the tips of her lace covered fingers. "You have gotten only more handsome over the years. Time has been exceedingly generous to you."

He let out a scoffing humorless laugh. "Oh? Has it? I would not know. I would say time is incredibly cruel to me."

She moved in closer and looped her arm through his. "Talk a walk in the garden with me? They are so lovely in the twilight of sunset."

He complied, letting her pull him along, out the doors and down the path to the great gardens. They strolled together saying nothing for a few minutes.

Cassandra stopped and turned him to her. She once again pushed herself up on her toes, kissing him on his lips.

He neither responded or pulled away. "I have thought about you often. You do not want to kiss me back? We had such fun long ago."

He pushed her away from him then, not harshly but none to gently. "No Cassandra you are married."

"True, but Orion has his mistresses. I am allowed to have my own fun. You know how this works. I know you and your reputation, since when has marriage been an issue for you in choosing lovers?" She went in to kiss him again.

"I said no." He pushed her away again. He would not have hesitated before. Now it seemed wrong. Not because of the woman in front of him, but because of the memory of the woman who had a hold of his heart. It felt like betrayal and left the taste of ashes in his mouth to even consider.

"Alright, shall we sit and talk?" she suggested. She could see he was troubled.

So they did, finding a bench nearby.

"What would like to talk about?" He asked.

"Jareth, what's wrong with you? You are not yourself. You seem melancholy."

He stared at the ground. "Not a thing is wrong with me."

There was a pause.

She said it so quietly he almost didn't hear her. "It is the girl, isn't it? I saw her. I was at your hearing. The dark haired girl? She is pretty."

"She is human, and she is gone." He snapped."Back above. Living her life. She has no need of me. Or I her. She did her duty as my Champion."

He next heard the woman's soft laughter. "Oh you doth protest too much, dear Jareth. Please. You cannot lie to me. Of all people in the Underground. It *is* the girl. Tell me..do you love her?"

He shook his head. "I can't love her. I told you she is human. To love her is to break my own heart. Then what would happen to me to any children we may have? In 60 years, perhaps more perhaps less, she would be taken from me anyway."

"Does it matter?" Jareth, if you truly love her.." Cassandra began.

"I told you I cannot!" His arm cut through the air violently. He clenched his jaw, stood and walked away.

She chased after him. "Please let me finish." She grabbed his arm.

Jareth glared at the redhead. "It is not wise to grab a king and demand things from him, woman." He said fiercely.

"Please." She implored, loosening her grip.

He crossed his arms, "Proceed."

She paused, collecting her thoughts. "My husband. My first husband. Philippe. How I loved him Jareth. As you know we do not love easily. But Phillippe...I met him at a ball, and he was such a devil. He insisted I would love him and marry him. I laughed in his face. My father hated him. He was like you. Charming, wicked, brazen. He set his sights on me and that was that. After 3 meetings, I fell. I could not stop it from happening. When I confessed to him my feelings, he just grinned and said "See I told you." We married quickly. We were so in love. He worshipped me and I him. Body and soul, we were together. Then he left one afternoon to stop some small fight in our kingdom near our home, and they brought his body to me back wrapped in a blanket. I wanted to die."

She stopped and took a deep breath, the memories making her heart ache. She noticed that Jareth was now listening closely.

"I did not of course. Year later I met you and you were like my husband reborn, though I know you were alive and well when he was killed. Stubborn, handsome, so incredibly charming, and so delightfully full of yourself. I did not love you the same way, nor could I, but you helped me heal."

"What is your point?" Jareth asked.

Cassandra reached out and squeezed his hand. "The time I had with Phillippe was terribly short. Not much longer than what you would have with your girl. At first, I wished I had never known such love. Now I am glad of it. Those years were precious. I would not trade a second I had with him for anything. He lives inside of my heart forever."

She stepped close to him. "If you truly love her, enjoy the time you could have with her. If it is meant to be only 60 years. Make them matter. Do not let her go. Jareth, I haven't ever lied to you nor would I. It is worth the pain that will come. Every bit of it."

"Sarah will grow old before my eyes, and it will kill me." He countered.

"Why do you love this Sarah?" Cassandra asked him.

He hesitated for a moment. "She is like the brightest star. So full of life. She is strong, tenacious, and loyal. Her passion, her fire. Her very soul." He answered, letting the truth spill out for the first time.

"Not just because she has a pretty face?" She asked in return.

He shook his head. "That is but the icing on the cake, so that saying goes."

"Then you will always see her as beautiful because she will always be all of those things, Jareth. Tell her you love her. Spend that time living and loving and not worrying about someday. Cherish what is before you every minute."

He went to leave then turned back.

"Thank you, Cassandra. Be well."

She bowed her head. "Goodbye Jareth. Be happy."

They smiled for a moment at each other, and then he turned and walked away, to the future, leaving the past behind.

He left the gardens, walked through the ballroom, and went back to his castle, with a new determination in his heart.
_

Sarah pulled up to her childhood home and got out of her car.

"Sar!" Toby yelled as he jogged over to her an swept her up in a bear hug.

"Hey Tobes. Wait..are you taller than me?" She said as she hugged him back.

"Yep. Almost 6 feet tall!" He stood up straight and proud.

"Damn..I mean darn." She replied smiling up at his handsome face.

He put an arm over her Sarah's shoulders and they walked to the house.

"My girl!" Her father greeted her at the door, hugging her tight. "So glad to see you."

They went into the kitchen where Karen was cooking. She gave her stepdaughter a big welcoming smile. "There you are! Party is out back. Toby neglected to give me a proper head count so it's a good thing I made two pans of lasagna last night just in case."

Sarah hugged the older woman. "Good to see you Karen." It really was. It took a long time for Sarah to appreciate her stepmother, but she knew now how special the woman was and why her dad loved her, and he did.

She got that, now. You love who you love.

They all went out back where a group of teenagers were waiting.

Sarah had not had so much fun in ages. She let go her worries and laughed, ate, and played volleyball with Toby's friends. Toby opened his presents and gave Sarah a big hug when he saw the video game system she had bought for him. She had cleared it with their parents beforehand.

When she flopped down on a bench, worn out, her father sat next to her. "Sarah..you look tired. Have you been getting enough sleep? We worry about you. That career takes up so much time. I hope you are making time to relax too. Have fun."

"I'm fine dad." She said, leaning against him. "Do you think Toby would miss me If I went to my old room for a bit. Just to lie down. It was a long drive."

"No kiddo. Go ahead." He patted her shoulder.

She went through the house and up the stairs, down the hallway and open the door to her old bedroom.

It was much different now as a guest room. All her things gone. She sat on the bed and looked at herself in the mirror hanging on the door.

If you need us, call.

She laid back and stared at the ceiling. Then she remembered why she came up here. She opened the closet stood the desk chair in the open door and climbed up.

There in the back of the shelf was the box she was looking for.

She pulled it forward and out, then sat back on the bed and opened the box.

Inside were 3 things.

First, her music box, she sat it aside and pull out her Fairy King figurine, and underneath that wrapped in velvet was her book.

She cradled it in her hands then held it against her chest for a few minutes.

I remember it all. Like it was yesterday. Jareth blowing in with the storm, his wicked little smile, his offer of my dreams. Who knew my dream would be him?

"Sarah?" Karen's voice came from below at the foot of the stairs.

She shoved everything back in and picked the box up, going downstairs. "I tried to fall asleep but didn't Then I remembered I'd left this box here. Thanks for inviting me but I need to go. it's a long drive home."

"Are you sure you can't sleep here?" Karen said, reaching out and stroking the side of her face, concern in her eyes.

"I'm sure."

"Is it a man? You look like you lost the love of your life." Karen quietly observed.

Tears threatened to fall but Sarah did not allow it. "Maybe. I don't know. All I know is he is gone and I'll never see him again."

Karen hugged her tight. "Oh Sarah, I'm so sorry. I know how hard breaking up with someone can be. Don't give up hope. If he is the one, you will find him again, if he doesn't find you first. If it's meant to be, it will be. Keep the faith. If it doesn't happen that means there is someone else even better coming along."

Sarah hugged her back. "Thank you Karen. I really hope so. I love you guys, please give Toby and dad my love."

She slipped from Karen's arms and took off out the door with a wave.

She ran outside and placed the box in her car, then said her goodbyes to everyone and drove home.
_

Jareth was at his desk when his brother appeared." Jareth, you left rather abruptly last night. What is going on?" Jorwyn inquired.

"I had to get out of there. I cannot stand such functions." Was his short reply. "I'm making preparations."

Jorwyn's curiosity was piqued. "For what?"

Jareth stood up. "I am going to ask Sarah to come back. To marry me."

"It's about time!" Joryan clapped him on the back.

"This is not an easy thing. I will have to fight tooth and nail for the courts to allow a human queen."

"Well not quite human certainly, but I understand." Jorwyn said.

"What do you mean not quite human?" Jareth wondered what his brother was on about now.

"The fairies. She did not tell you? They brought her to their field, attempted to make her one of theirs. I assumed you knew this."

A realization hit Jareth like a slap in the face. He had forgotten. 'The fairy bite. "Jareth said out loud in amazement, dumbfounded such an important thing slipped his mind. "A fairy bit her when she was here the first time. The first thing that happened. Before she even entered the gates."

The brothers looked at each other. "Before The Labyrinth could claim her as a runner?" Jorwyn asked, incredulous that Jareth did not tell him sooner. "Did it break the skin?"

A smile grew on both their faces. "The Labyrinth could not shield from Underground magic as it does most runners, it was too late." Jareth said.

"So if she comes here to stay..." Jorwyn continued.

The brothers stared at each other, grins spreading on both of their faces.

Jareth picked up his jacket off the desk chair and went to leave in a hurry.

"Wait," Jorwyn said.

Jareth turned. "I just wanted to tell you, I do believe Mother and Father, they would approve. She as stubborn and insolent as you. Good luck." He laid a hand on his younger sibling's shoulder.

"Thank you, my brother. My friend." Jareth said inclining his head.

He rushed away to speak to the one being who would know the truth.
_

Hoggle was at his little fire cooking stew over it when Jareth appeared suddenly frightening the dwarf, making him drop his spoon.

"Hoghead!" He demanded.

"Wha..what is it, Majesty?" Hoggle asked, bowing and shaking a little.

"Answer me this, when Sarah was here the first time, was she bit by a fairy?" Jareth crouched to be at eye level with the little man.

"Well yeah..I tried to tell 'er, but she picked it up...and it took a right chunk out of Sarah's finger." He replied.

Jareth narrowed his eyes. "Did she bleed? Sarah I mean."

"Sure did, saw 'er wipe the blood on her pants with my own eyes." Hoggle answered. "Why? Did one of those nasty pests hurt 'er?"

Jareth grinned at him. "No, Hogwart. That fairy may have given us a gift beyond measure. I may have to start being more accommodating the the little pests."

"What are ya on about, Maje..." Hoggle stopped mid sentence, realizing Jareth was no longer there.

He picked up his spoon, and went back to the fire, grumbling to himself about the rat interrupting dinner for nonsense.
_

Sarah read and reread the book, looking for something. She wasn't sure what. She knew she had the power to wish Jareth to her, but would good what that do?

The phone rang. When she picked it up she found her father on the other end.

"Hi dad." She said.

"Sarah, can you do me a big favor? I have this client, he is new. He also happens to be new in town and is staying not far from you. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind showing him around? Just one night? I know you said to not set you up anymore but.."

"I'll do it dad." She answered. Might as well. Wasn't doing her any good staring at the wall.

She could tell her father was happy. She got the information from him and hung up, then looked at the clock.

"Crap. It's after 4 and I have to meet dad's client at 7?"

She dashed into her room to find something to wear, then took a warm shower.

She dressed and put on her makeup. Her dress was of a soft jersey knit, emerald green, the skirt dancing around her hips, the gathered material across her chest dipping slightly to show a hint of cleavage.

While she was putting on the matching shoes, she spied her backpack, still unopened in the corner.

She knew she should wait, but she put it on the bed and opened it, taking her things out and setting them down on the bed.

All her supplies were there, minus the power bars. Clean, neat, like she had never even left.

She started to go through the pockets, finding matches and the pocketknife.

In the last pocket, she stuck her hand in and pulled. Out came the owl Jareth had carved, a tissue filled with little pieces of colored glass egg shell pieces, and a folded leaf. Unfolding it she found just a fingerful of magic dust given to her by the Unicorn Queen.

She held these things in her hands, like they were the most precious items in the universe.

Sitting the tissue and leaf down, she ran her fingers over the wooden owl, it's rough hewn cord replaced with a fine silver chain. Elven silver, she guessed.

It was all she had left of him.

"No. I'm not going to cry anymore. I'm not going to smear my makeup now." She demanded of herself.

She looped the necklace over her head, the bird laying between her breasts. It seemed appropriate it would be next to her heart. The last fingerful of glittery dust, she took it and touched it to her skin above her heart. "I wish.."

Maybe it would heal the chasm that was within. The dust sparkled then disappeared.

She made sure Scar had food and water and left to meet her father's client who sent a car to pick her up that was waiting for her downstairs by the sidewalk. The driver opened the backdoor and tipped his hat, guiding her inside. He got behind the wheel and they were off.

Following the address he had already been provided, the driver arrived at a small French restaurant, one considered the finest in the city. Very expensive.

Okay, I'm a little impressed. Sarah thought to herself.

The driver let her out and winked at her. "Have good evening, Ma'am."

She smiled and went inside.

The maitre 'd greeted her. "Good evening! Do you have a reservation?"

"I am here to meet a Mr. Alban?" She replied.

His smile got huge. "Ah yes. He has reserved one of our private dining suites. Follow me!"

Sarah followed him through the restaurant, down a hallway, and opened a door, urging her to enter.

She walk in and her mouth dropped open.

Candles. Candles everywhere. The room was aglow in warm light. A large spray of roses laid over the table, waiting for her.

"What the..?" She stopped when she saw him.

He had his back to her, looking out the window. Blonde hair, gloved hands clasped behind his back. Feet spread slightly in a commanding stance.

"Mr. Alban? Hi, I'm.."

He turned. "Sarah Williams. I'm well aware." He said, smiling.

Her heart stopped.

"Jareth?" She gasped.