A Labyrinth Fanfiction
Chapter 16: Custody
Sarah woke the following morning feeling, if possible, just as tired as when she went to bed… the result of the many dreams she'd had revolving around Jareth's implication of how he needed to remind her just how much she liked it when he was a pervert. Of course, she'd never tell him that. His ego was already over-inflated and didn't need anything else to pump it up. Instead she took another cold shower and dressed herself in a simple gown of deep hunter green with cream-colored accents. She was still getting used to her new morning routine, but in many ways it was the same as when she lived in the dorms. Only now she didn't have to go to any classes or put up with communal bathrooms.
Just as she was finishing brushing her hair out, a knock sounded at the door. She rose from the plush seat before the vanity and pulled open the door a crack to see an elvin manservant standing in the hall officiously. "Yes?"
"Their majesties, King Olseth and Queen Athena, request an audience with you," he stated blandly.
Sarah could tell that he didn't like her very much, but she'd been warned by Jareth that not many in the Underground liked humans. However it still hurt a little that this man didn't like her simply because of what she was. Replying as calmly as she could, she said, "I was just about to join them for breakfast actually."
The elf shook his head, "Nay, their majesties request that you join them in the throne room. I am to lead you."
Sarah furrowed her brow in confusion, but nodded and stepped outside the door, her boots making a clicking sound on the hard stone floor. She'd found that she preferred low-heeled boots to the slippers that women generally wore here. The boots were slightly less comfortable, but they kept her feet warmer and they felt more… normal, for lack of a better word. Closing the door to her room, she turned to follow the manservant down the corridor and down the stairs to the main floor of the palace where the more political events took place. When they arrived at the doors to the throne room, the manservant pushed them open and announced her unceremoniously then sidestepped to allow Sarah entry.
In the throne room, both King Olseth and Queen Athena were seated on their respective thrones. Before them was a small group of fae, one of whom Sarah recognized and she furrowed her brow in anger. Lord Cumberland stood smirking behind the two other fae, all of whom were dressed in very official looking uniforms. "Ah, the human has deigned to grace us with her presence," Lord Cumberland said stepping out from behind the other two fae.
"You will watch your tone in my throne room, Lord Cumberland," King Olseth said in a serious tone.
"Pardon me, your majesty," Lord Cumberland apologized as Sarah came to a halt before the group.
"Sarah," Queen Athena addressed the girl. "Lord Cumberland has come with two Guards of the Realm to take you into protective custody."
"Protective from whom?" she asked, doing her best to be assertive and not show how afraid she was of the fae taking her.
"Why, from those who would wish you harm," Lord Cumberland said in a deceptively sweet voice that nearly dripped with sarcasm. "You know that humans are not well liked here in the Underground."
"I don't believe I have much of a problem here with that," Sarah replied gesturing to the impassive King and Queen.
"Of course not!" Athena declared. "Sarah is welcome here. We would not hurt her, nor would we allow others to."
"Yes your Majesty, but there are chinks in everyone's armor and the council would hate for anything to happen to the girl before the trial."
Athena gave the fae an angry look before schooling her features into a blank mask again. "My wife is correct. The council can rest assured that nothing will happen to Sarah while she resides here," King Olseth said.
"We're sorry to say, Sire, that there isn't a choice in the matter," one of the Guards of the Realm said stepping forward. "The council has decided that Miss Williams will be taken into protective custody and your Majesty will have to make an appeal if you wish for her to stay here. However, she comes with us for now."
King Olseth remained blank, but Sarah could see that he was gripping the arms of his chair slightly tighter; his knuckles were turning white. The two Guards of the Realm moved forward to either side of Sarah, and though she tried to avoid them, they each grabbed a hold of one of her arm. "NO! I'm not going with you!" she yelled, her voice echoing throughout the throne room.
"Sarah, the Guards of the Realm are noble men who won't hurt you," King Olseth assured her as he and Athena rose from their seats. "We'll be making an appeal, make no doubt about it."
Lord Cumberland gave him a mock bow and with a wave of his hand he and the guards were gone. The monarchs stood still for a moment in the silent chamber until Queen Athena placed a hand on her husband's arm and let out a sigh. "We'll have to tell Jareth."
Olseth grimaced, but nodded. He could only imagine the younger fae's reaction. "I'll do it," he offered.
Athena nodded and squeezed his arm slightly before letting go. "I'll start the appeal process. I still have some connections to the council and I should be able to get a court date within the next couple of days, with any luck."
Olseth nodded. "Then let us be off to do what we must." He turned toward her and gently caressed her jaw before leaning down and kissing her softly. When they pulled apart, each monarch sent a meaningful look to the other then they turned away. Athena disappeared in a sprinkling of glitter and Olseth transformed into a golden eagle and winged his way through an open window and into the sky.
o O o O o O o
King Jareth was sitting leisurely on his throne listening to grievances from the goblins. It was an onerous job, but someone had to do it and he wouldn't put it on anyone else's shoulders. However at that moment the goblins grew quiet as a large golden eagle flew in through the window, circled once, then landed as King Olseth. "I hope I'm not interrupting?" he said unconvincingly.
"The rest of you are dismissed," Jareth said to the goblins. "If you have anything important that cannot wait till tomorrow, take it up with Lord Fennel," he referenced his court scribe who would most likely complain about this tomorrow, but Olseth's visits were rare and Jareth suspected this was an important one. Once the goblins had all left, the younger fae turned to his mentor and smiled. "My friend, how can I help you?"
"I have a feeling you'll not be nearly so cheerful when I tell you what I came here for."
"What is it? Is Sarah okay?"
"Yes, but she's been taken…"
"Taken? By whom?" he demanded.
"I was getting to that, don't interrupt me, Jareth. I taught you better than that." Jareth glared, crossed his arms and tapped his boot impatiently, but remained silent. "The Guards of the Realm took her into protective custody under court orders. There was nothing I could do to stop them. Athena is already getting in contact with those who owe her favors on the council to make an appeal in a couple of days."
"A couple of days? Do you know what Cumberland could do to her in that time?"
"She's under court protection…"
"And he's part of the court! He will have access to her!"
"Jareth! Calm yourself!" Once again Jareth glared at him, but his anger was no longer directed toward him. "You will not be allowed access to her because you are the one going to court, but Athena and I will check on her, make sure that she's being treated alright. But have faith in the Guard. They are chosen for their fairness in character as well as their ability to serve the council. I've never met a Guard of the Realm who wasn't at the very least cordial."
Jareth let out a huff and let his arms fall to his sides. He should have expected this. Lord Cumberland had influence over several highly positioned court members and he should have known that he'd try to get Sarah away from him. Perhaps it would've been better if she'd stayed at the cabin? But no, he would've found them eventually. It wasn't Olseth or Athena's fault that Sarah was in this situation. "What do we do?" he asked the elder King.
"We wait. Athena says she can get an appeal date set for a couple of days from now where we will petition for Sarah to stay with us during the court proceedings."
"Waiting has never been my forte, you know that."
"Yes well there's very little else we can do without setting the court against us or getting Sarah in more trouble."
"What are they even protecting her from?" Jareth burst out, his arms spreading wide then coming to rest on his hips.
"Lord Cumberland claimed that it was to protect her from those who wished her harm because humans are not popular in the Underground."
"That's very little to go on. I'm surprised that the court let him do it."
"I have a feeling he might have mentioned the relationship you share with her."
"He doesn't know the extent of it though! And how would that make a difference?"
"It's enough for the council. If they think you're obsessed with her, they may want to just get her away from you. Knowing their animosity towards humans, they probably believe that she's bewitching you and that it's all a power play."
"That's utterly ridiculous!"
Olseth shrugged. "True, but I wouldn't put it past them."
Jareth started to pace, his quick steps carrying him from one end of the throne room to the other in seconds. Olseth watched his mentee storm across the room. There was very little they could do and it wouldn't help Jareth to stew over it, but it appeared that that's precisely what he was going to do. "Jareth," he held out a hand to stop the younger fae for a moment as he marched back toward him, his hands clasped behind his back. "She'll be alright. The Guard will keep her safe."
"That's beside the point! It's my fault… all of this." He gestured emphatically.
"What do you mean?"
"The entire reason she's in the Underground in the first place! If I had left well enough alone, she wouldn't be here."
"I highly doubt that, my boy. There is actual emotion between the two of you and I believe that she would have found her way back here eventually." Jareth glanced up at his mentor, a pleading look on his face. Olseth clapped a hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring look. "Everything will be fine. If you're that anxious, than you could continue her search through the library."
"That's actually a good idea," Jareth perked up a bit. "After all, if I'm going to be banished to the Aboveworld it would be nice if my fiancé could go with me."
Olseth grimaced. "Not quite the idea I was going for there, Jareth."
However Jareth was already transforming into a barn owl, so Olseth sighed and made the familiar transformation into a golden eagle. Both birds of prey swooped out the window into the cold winter air.
o O o O o O o
Sarah felt a strange swooping sensation in her stomach that made her clench her mouth shut to prevent throwing up. Transportation spells never felt this way when Jareth did it. Maybe it was because there were three of them all linked together? Either way, it didn't matter to Sarah; she just wanted it all to stop. And luckily, stop it did after another moment. She was just catching her breath when the Guard started to move forward and she was forced to stumble along with them. To make matters worse, Lord Cumberland shoved her at that moment and she lost her balance completely, sprawling across the floor as the Guard lost their grip on her. She hit the harsh stone floor hard, her breath leaving her in a rush. "Get moving human," Lord Cumberland spat.
"That was not necessary, Lord Cumberland," one of the Guard said firmly while his colleague gripped Sarah's arm to help her up.
She could feel hot liquid running down her face and dripping onto her dress. She hadn't had a bloody nose since she was little and fell for that 'if your hand is bigger than your face, you need surgery' joke where she of course held her hand up to her face to check then the boy who'd told her smacked her hand forward so that it hit her in the face. This hurt more though; in fact it hurt a lot. Her hands came up to cup her nose and check to see if it was broken. It felt whole and there were no sharp pains, but it still hurt. She was pretty sure that her lip was split as well. She heard Lord Cumberland scoff then at the Guard's words and she turned to face him, her hand dropping from her face and her mouth turning down in a frown. "I can assure you, Lord Cumberland," she started in a deadly quiet voice. "That King Jareth won't take kindly to your treatment of me. In fact, he may feel the need for retaliation and I most likely wouldn't be able to, nor have to inclination to stop him."
"Are you threatening me, human?"
"No, just stating facts."
"Come, Miss Williams, we should get you cleaned up before you're shown to your rooms."
Sarah didn't comment further, nor say that by 'rooms', the Guard meant her 'cell'. Instead, she allowed him to lead her away to a washroom where she cleaned up the blood on her face and neck. There was little she could do about the crimson red stain on her dress though. When she was finished, the Guard led her to a small room that was a little bigger than her bedroom at home. There was a small bed, a bedside table, a small fireplace, a frosted over window, and a chair. There was little to do in the room and Sarah suspected Lord Cumberland was trying to bore her to death. She grumbled as she settled herself on the bed and tried to ignore the rumbling in her stomach that insisted it was long over due for some nourishment.