Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: halfamoon Day One: War and Peace
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 1,659
Date Written: 2 March 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Henson, not the author, and are used without permission.
“Just take my hand,” he said, his sensual voice seeming to caress the very deepest parts of her soul. “Just take my hand. Say yes, and be my Queen. Love me, fear me, and I will be your slave. All this can be yours, Sarah, and all this pain, this nightmare, this torture can end.”
He made it sound so easy. It was as though if she just gave in to him and allowed herself to openly love him as she already secretly did, everything would be over. Everything would be resolved. Peace, joy, and love would reign. Everything would be over . . . for her. But what about Toby? Hoggle? Ludo?
She forced her eyes to open just as he was about to press his lips to hers and looked directly into his eyes. She’d never known such enchanting eyes before. One was blue, the other brown, and yet, they made a perfect, beautiful match. It was his eyes and the way he made her feel, more than anything else, that had haunted her dreams as she’d grown up a world away from him. Now she and Toby were back, and the land was still at war. A few brave souls still fought against their King’s tyranny.
“What of the others?” she whispered and saw surprise flicker in those beautiful eyes. She pushed away from him.
“What of the others? Write your own happy ending, Sarah,” he whispered to her.
She so very much wanted to give in. She wanted to write her own happy ending. She’d tried for years in the world above to forge a happy life for herself, but it had always seemed impossible. She didn’t belong up there with any of the myriad of guys she had dated. She belonged down here. She belonged with him, and yet . . . Yet she could not simply abandon her brother or their friends.
“I’ll set Toby free,” he vowed. “He can go home, live his own life, no longer be a burden to you or to me.”
Her brother was more than a burden, but Jareth would never see that. He’d never understand it, and although he might free Toby to appease her, he would not release the others. “Hoggle?” she pushed. “Sir Didymus? Ludo?”
“Ludo is a beast!” he cried out in protest.
“He’s no beast,” she told him, realizing at last that she could cling to what he had just said and pull through this latest battle as well. “He may look like one -- he may even be one on the outside --, but his soul is the gentlest I’ve ever known! You’re the beast, Jareth,” she said, musing aloud and cocking her head to one side as she did so. “You’re the one keeping your own land, your own kingdom, from peace.”
“Rule with me, Sarah. Be my Queen, and we can forge peace over the land together.”
“You’ll never make peace with anyone,” she told him defiantly, “unless we bend to your every command. You want everybody to do what you want to do. If we disagree with you, it’s -- “ She couldn’t say death. There were worst things, she knew, having studied history and the wars in her own world. “ -- it’s the Bog,” she finished, almost weakly, “every time.”
“That . . . “ He had almost tossed one of her old, favorite words at her, but she was right. She had called him out fairly. He did cast those who did wrong, in his opinion, into the Bog of Eternal Stench, and there was no greater wrong that any of his subjects could do than to disagree with him, the King.
“Is what?” she demanded, jutting out her chin. “Not fair?”
“No,” he admitted, his regal voice lowering to a whisper, “you’re right. It is the Bog. Teach me a better way, Sarah?”
He almost sounded sincere in his request, but she knew this man, this beast. She’d been fighting him ever since she’d been hardly more than a child herself. He didn’t want a better way; he only wanted his way. For now and for forever, he’d only ever want his way. She pulled out of his embrace and turned away from him. “I can not,” she answered softly, sadly, “because you don’t really want a better way, Jareth.” She shook her head. “You want your way only, and until you do want something better, there can be no peace for you, for me, for any of us.”
He was silent. It took her a while, but finally she looked back to where he had just stood to find the space empty save for a single, white feather. She bent, picked up the feather, and held it to her nose. Her lips brushed it where none could see. There was nothing she wanted more than to be his except for this war to finally end, but what she had told him was the truth. He did not seek peace; he only sought an easier, quicker way to get what he wanted. Had all he wanted been her, she would have gladly given over to his demands, but then that would have happened long ago.
She turned and began to walk away, her mind whirring through their history together. When she had first been here so long ago, he had made her many of the same promises. She had almost succumbed to him then. She had wanted to. Oh, how every fiber of her being ached for that one man! But to stay before would have meant to trap Toby forever as a Goblin. To bend to his will and her own desire now would be even worse. Toby might not become a Goblin now that he was a full grown man, but she would be turning against and abandoning every real friend she’d ever made.
No, she couldn’t give in to him or to herself. As difficult as it was to deny herself yet again everything she wanted, she had to. She had to be there for the friends who had saved Toby and herself before. She had to stand for the gentle souls like Ludo who could barely stand for themselves, for the courageous who had become downtrodden over the years like the kindest, most respectable Knight she had ever known, Sir Didymus, and for those who had never seen a better way until she had shown it to them, like Hoggle. She had to stay for her friends or she was no better than the cowardly, royal dictator himself.
You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for everything. She’d read that somewhere once a long time ago, or perhaps she’d heard it. Maybe her father had said it, or it might even be a part of a song. Regardless, it was just as true now as it had been when she’d been a teenager and had not yet understood the full scope of the things for which she had been fighting. She had to fight for a better world not just for herself and for Toby but for every living being inside this labyrinth.
Jareth wanted her to be a Queen, but as she approached her people after the meeting with their King and they cheered at the mere sight of her, Sarah realized something that made her lift her dark head a little higher. She was already a Queen. She wasn’t Jareth’s Queen, and she wasn’t a Queen by title. But she was the Queen of these people, their champion, their heroine. She was the one who had finally began to fight back against the Goblin King, and she had to keep fighting for them far more so than for herself. She had to keep fighting.
Hoggle grunted as she neared him. “Didn’t get anywhere, did you?” he asked, as grouchy as ever. “Told you you can’t talk sense into him.”
She turned to look behind and could just barely make out the form of a snowy white owl flying under the moonlight in the far distance. “Not yet,” she murmured.
“Never will,” he told her, but she smiled secretly behind the feather she still held.
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I might one day.” She had to keep trying. She had to keep fighting or she would never get any of them to where they needed to be. But maybe, maybe one day when he saw they were not coming back to him without some changes, when he saw she would never bend to his will unless he welcomed all of his people back just the way they were, maybe one night when he was tired of being lonely and ruling as a King over subjects who only feared him and never loved him for he’d never given them a reason to do anything more than fear and hate him, maybe one day he would change. Stranger things had happened. Stranger things happened every day in the labyrinth.
“Maybe one day,” she whispered again. Maybe one day they could have peace. Maybe one day she could yet have the love he offered her, and maybe she could finally show him the love she’s been hiding since that very first dance in his arms. Maybe one day . . . But until then, until peace and love could rule their land, she’d have to keep fighting, and fight she would -- for their people, for Toby, for her own freedom, and yes, even for Jareth, because he deserved to be loved but until he could earn it, he could never know love. He could also never know true happiness until he knew love. Maybe she’d get to show him one day. Until then, she could only fight and dream, and she would do both for as long as it took it until she could at last be held in his arms, all their people freed and happy, and whisper what she’d long to say since that very first adventure, “I do love you too, Jareth.”