Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Jareth, Didymus
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Write what you know."
Word Count: 1,722
Date Written: 10 November 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
“Sometimes,” Jareth admits softly, almost wistfully, “I wonder what I’m doing.”
“Sire?” his most loyal Knight yips, looking up at him in concern out of his one good eye.
Jareth sighs and reaches a hand down to fondle the top of Sir Didymus’ furry head. The dog Knight leans into his touch, his hind foot unconsciously tapping the ground. “It’s just . . . “ He sighs again, stops scratching his head, and looks away. “Who am I trying to fool by letting this girls, one after another, into my kingdom, our home? Each one of them leaves an impact on the land.” He shudders, remembering the one who had left a trail of bubblegum and who, for her sins against his land, is still in an oubliette to this day. He didn’t send Hogwart to fetch that one out, and he never will.
“They’re not all bad, Sire.”
“None of them are particularly good either, Sir Didymus, but then I know you always see the good in people. Somehow,” he says, looking back at him, “you even see good in me.”
His Knight, who is also his dearest, if not only friend, in this and any world, smiles up at him. He raises his staff to indicate him. “That,” he declares, “is because there is good in you! You do not want the others to know, but I’ve seen it. You rescued Sir Ludo from another land and brought him here. You care for us all, even if you do not like to show it. The Goblins complain of being kicked, but you haven’t killed them although you could so easily. Just as you could easily command any of these girls to pledge their allegiance to you.”
“It would not be the same,” Jareth sighs again, “and it would not break the curse.”
“But that is not why you do not resort to such. You want them to love you of their own free choosing. You only steal the boys because that is part of your curse. You must have one to leave here in your stead.”
“Which is exactly why the girls will never fall for my charms, no matter how enticing they are. Any who could find it in their hearts to love me could never leave their brother behind.”
Sir Didymus tisks in the back of his furry throat. “You are too hard on yourself, Your Royal Majesty.”
“Hardly. I am not hard enough. If I was, I would find another way to break this curse rather than allowing one spoiled brat after another into my kingdom.”
“Except, Your Majesty, if I may, I do not think you are truly only allowing them here to break your curse. You are doing as so many, Kings and paupers and everyone in between, has done, and so many more will. You are seeking for that most elusive of beings: the other part of your soul. You are seeking the happiness and love they will give you, not mere escape from this land, from your people, from us.”
“You speak too highly of me, Sir Didymus,” Jareth softly remarks, his bicolored eyes flickering with the turmoil of emotions inside his heart. He can not say, however, that the dog Knight lies. He does tire of being responsible for everyone and thing in this labyrinth, but he knows no one else would care for his subjects as he has.
He might make the majority tremble in fear -- they might have all felt his boot at one time or another --, but he has kept them alive, which, at times, especially with the lack of intellect the Goblins and Fieries both possess, has been no small task. Many others would love to control his kingdom, but none of them would care if his subjects perished. They would rather just have the power of the magical underground all to themselves, but Jareth knows that the true power is not merely in the land itself but in all the magical beings that call it home -- and in reigning over them as their fear-inspiring King. It’s a task that keeps him so busy it’s a wonder he even has time for these girls who trouble him so.
He glances back down in surprise as he feels a gentle paw on his knee. He looks down into his Knight’s eyes, into his sweet and respectful smile. Sir Didymus is quite possibly the only one in his kingdom who never minces words. He always says what he believes, even if it lands him in trouble with Jareth and on the sharpest end of his boot, not that he has actually kicked him in at least a century now. “Do you really believe that?” Jareth whispers.
“I do. I read once, in one of those treasures you bring from the world above -- I believe you call them books, Your Majesty -- that it is human nature to think wisely and to act in an absurd fashion.”
“I am not human,” Jareth starts. “I have not been human -- “
“Yes,” Sir Didymus yips gently, “you are human. You are our King, King of Goblins, King of Fieries, King of every creature that slithers, walks, runs, and flies in this underground world, but you were still born human. Yet it is not just the humans who seek love. Every being I have ever had the honor of knowing has sought its rightful mate. Not all have found them, but of those I have watched, and have read of, no being acts more strangely than a human being in love. Perhaps letting all these girls all down here is not the wisest of decisions, but how else are you to find your mate, the one woman in all the lands who is destined to become our Queen?”
Jareth looks at him in even more surprise than before. “You really think I would not leave you?”
“I know you would not,” Sir Didymus counters, “but the trick, my Liege, is in finding that one girl who will be brave, bold, and cunning enough to ask if she may stay in her brother’s stead. When that happens, you will have found your one.”
Jareth sighs again. “But do you really think that will ever happen?”
“I must believe it will,” Sir Didymus yips, patting his leg, “for we all deserve to be loved, and none more so, Sire, than yourself. You could have kept any numbers of these babes -- “
“But my deals -- “
“Yes, I know quite well that you make deals with every one of these lasses, and I know you keep your word. However, I am also quite well aware that very few monarchs keep their word. As long as there is something in breaking their bond from which they can benefit, they often do, but not you. You, despite all the terror you inflict on your lesser subjects, are a man of honor. Your word is your bond, and that, Sire,” he says, flicking his tail, “is one of many reasons why I know you are a good King, why I choose to serve you, and why I know, when the time is right, you will find our Queen. You will find your happily ever after even if the curse lasts for eons more to come.”
Jareth makes a face at that thought. Yet, even as he does so and imagines spending eons more struggling with the utter stupidity of the Goblins and Fieries, the basic dumbness of Hoglet and the Fairies, and these sniffling whelps of girl children, he realizes, too, that that will mean eons more spent taking care of those who cannot care for themselves and having such rare and remarkable friends as Sir Didymus. “Perhaps,” he muses. Perhaps it will not be so bad. Perhaps he will find his Queen when the time is right, as Sir Didymus says, and perhaps ruling together over all his myriad of subjects when not be so bad a task when done together.
“What is it now?” he demands dryly, looking at the Goblin Knight who’s rushing up to him.
“There’s a girl!” the Goblin screeches. “A girl in the Kingdom!”
“Of course there is,” Jareth remarks and barely stops himself from rolling his eyes, an immature habit he’s seen many of the girls who have walked this very land exhibit. “Bring her on.”
“But, Sire -- “
“You know your duties,” Jareth snaps, “your places. Go fulfill them!” He kicks the Goblin, sending him spiraling back toward the palace. “Perhaps you are right,” he says, looking back to Sir Didymus after the squealing Goblin has disappeared from his sight. “Perhaps she will be the one.”
“Perhaps,” Sir Didymus yips in agreement. He turns to return to his place, guarding the Bog of Eternal Stench.
Jareth almost says the words, words he has not spoken in so very long. He almost thanks him for his allegiance, for his friendship. “I trust what has been said will stay our secret?”
“Always, Sire, always! I will never utter a word with which you entrust me to another soul, living or dead.”
“See that you do not, Sir Didymus,” Jareth says, assuming his expected, tyrannical role, “for if you do -- “
“I know, Sir. I will go from being the Bog’s Knight to its Prince, and as sweet as the Bog smells, I feel that is a position far better kept for Sir Hoggle.”
A sly smile stretches across the Goblin King’s handsome, imperial face. “On that note, Sir Didymus, I must concur.” In a swirl of cloth, skin, and feathers, Jareth transforms almost immediately into a regal, snowy white owl and wings his way away from the labyrinth. It’s time to meet the latest child to enter his kingdom, and who knows? Perhaps Sir Didymus is right. Perhaps this girl will be the one, and even if she is not, even if she is just yet another spoiled brat to be taught a lesson, perhaps the day will come, after all, when he has a Queen to rule beside him, one woman brave, beautiful, and loving enough with whom he can share all of this, his land, his people, his power, even his heart. Perhaps the end of his loneliness will yet come one of these days, and he will finally live, as all Kings should, happily ever after.