Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > Unlock This Door

The (Fairy) Godfather

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty' this ain't.

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2017-08-09 - 5110 words - Complete

Author’s note: the title of this chapter is a nod to Ryan Omega’s (the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade’s ‘Viscount’) comment ages ago about wanting to be a ‘fairy godfather’: “I want to make your dreams come true in a way you can’t refuse.”

Chapter 5 – The (Fairy) Godfather

Life was certainly not going to be a bed of roses for Daniel and Sarah Stuart (nee Williams), but at least they started out on the right foot. They were surprised by Sarah’s parents at the wedding reception with the gift of a month-long honeymoon abroad – an expenditure neither of them could have possibly ever afforded! After a long debate, the newlyweds decided on a private tour of certain parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland – a good mix of historical destinations for him, and locales both natural and manmade (including Neushwanstein Castle in Rothburg) to stir her imagination. It was just the two of them meeting up with host-guides when they reached the next destination on the preset itinerary, very intimate and pretty fun on the whole. Daniel knew enough German that the interpreter wasn’t usually necessary (he knew six ‘second’ languages and spoke three of them passably well), which also helped make the experience more comfortable; Sarah, by comparison, only knew a little Spanish from high school and it hadn’t come easily, but she was certainly glad that she did – all the positions she had been applying for back home near their area required the applicants to be bilingual in it. But, collectively-speaking, the trip was amazing, a sensorially overwhelming whirlwind for all the senses: gigantic Baroque palaces and cathedrals in Vienna and Salzburg (the bright-opulent decoration in the Neushwanstein – the model for Disney’s Cinderella Castle - was enough to make Sarah just about drop to her knees!), art museums in Munich and Baden Baden and Zurich, the enormously ornate library of the abbey of St. Gallen, culminating in the medieval fortress at Challon off of Lake Geneva (which they both loved for personal reasons), hitting plenty of small alpine towns inbetween.

Of course, all this time spent traveling constantly in each other’s company was rendering any contact with Jareth excessively tricky for Sarah, especially hiding the crystal in her purse all the time; she was terrified that her husband would discover it in their shared luggage! It had been awkwardly nerve-wracking enough just getting it through the airport x-ray machine without him noticing! Although, oddly enough, it hadn’t shown up at all on the screen…

She was basically down to vanishing for ten-to-fifteen minutes at night once she was certain that he was safely unconscious, and even this was risky; Daniel appeared to be a light sleeper in certain parts of his cycles. If it hadn’t felt like it before, it certainly felt like she was juggling two husbands now in a weird sort of way – a fact that Jareth loved to dangle in front of her, to her extreme annoyance. Sarah sincerely hoped that this new level of obnoxious behavior would settle down once the novelty of her new living arrangement started to wear off.

Speaking of which, they had to move into a smaller apartment than either of them had been in previously in Syracuse because only Sarah had found employment right away – at the library in town; the position seemed to open up just when she needed it. The Youth Services librarian had gone away on maternity leave late into her third trimester already, but the day after Sarah’s application was submitted, the lady called up and literally quit over the phone, saying that she had decided to become a full-time mother, which was quite a shock to her colleagues who knew that she had been in a hurry to get back before – the woman’s work here had been so important to her!

“Human women can experience odd changes of heart during gestation,” Jareth had innocently shrugged off Sarah’s suspicions, but he wasn’t terribly convincing – especially since he had brought up the topic that day himself in a manner that suggested that he had been expecting this. And the woman – who had held that position for over twelve years – had spontaneously quit the day right after Lammastide.

The basic problem with having a rarified college degree is that it often doesn’t translate into regular work. Daniel had been filling out application after application after application to universities and colleges all over New York and New England. Then all over the East coast. Then the Midwest. Then the entire country. He was imminently qualified to teach the positions he was asking to be considered for – he was only querying institutions with pre-existing well-established medieval and renaissance history departments – but there simply wasn’t class demand enough to require another professor. ‘Perhaps they could squeeze him into the faculty as another general history teacher?’ ‘Would he care to work by himself in an archive cataloging?’ And the stress of the situation was already starting to affect them. Sarah’s starting salary was decent – about $37,000 a year (in spite of some small school loans that still had to be paid off, they weren’t sinking into debt) – but morale in the Stuart house was definitely dropping steadily as the months wore on. Daniel simply refused to settle for another job, to give up on his life goal, but he was getting depressed about his turn of luck, when he had pushed himself so hard – Honors Society, the works – to get nowhere. They decided to forego having any children until their situation was more financially and psychologically stable.

Which – after that unseemly row Jareth had made about her getting married – appeared to be highly disconcerting new for her ‘other guy’!

“None whatever?! Indefinitely?”

Sarah couldn’t hide her instant quizzical reaction; he had conditioned her to be far too open with him. “Jareth, you do realize if you were human, your sudden complete turnaround on this subject would be considered highly bizarre at the most charitable.”

His own expression in return was amusedly tolerant. “My objection is to permanently imposed restriction of freedom, Sarah, not progeny. I had always hoped that someday you would reproduce – a vicarious side benefit to your gender, you could say.”

A very old, deep-seated fear reared its ugly head out-of-the-blue. “Let’s you and me get one thing straight right now: I would never – never – even dream of wishing away any other children to you, and certainly not my own, is that clear?”

His gaze dropped to the floor. “I wasn’t speaking of that,” he said quietly. “I’m fond of them; I come into contact with so few, and then… Sarah, I can’t…”

Sarah’s eyes widened in cold realization: he loved other people’s children because he couldn’t reproduce! She suddenly felt that she might be ill, following the idea to its logical conclusion – his goblins, they had seemed so much like ill-behaved children… Even in spite of his formal title, she had nearly forgotten; she hadn’t so much as seen a strand of dingy black fur since she’d started coming…

“It certainly isn’t a role I’m accustomed to,” he continued, “but I was nearly ready to try my admittedly unpracticed hand at playing ‘fairy-godfather,'” he finished with a rueful little half-smile.

You do want kids, you want them so bad that you…

“It’s just until Daniel can find a teaching position that he’s happy with,” Sarah dubiously reassured him. “I have to be free to support us both right now; I can’t take off and quit like someone else did,” she observed with a pointedly knowing look. “Of course its disheartening and frustrating that he’s refusing other jobs for this, but he’s wanted this for so long – this is his dream – and after everything he’s done to get it, I’m not about to tell him to just give it all up! I’m still taking one acting class a week; the teacher says my body language is finally improving, but we’re still building up my range of character. If I’m not stuck paying all the bills solo I could start socking away money for more evening classes.” Sarah suddenly realized that she wasn’t terribly comfortable with where this conversation seemed to be headed, and she quickly shifted gears and commenced talking about her job instead: helping the kids find research materials for school projects and personal interest, reading to the preschoolers and really little kids at story-time, reading through new materials and helping to decide what to add to the collection. But it was too late; she couldn’t take back what she now recognized as a subconscious challenge…

Just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, one of Daniel’s ancient profs at Syracuse suffered a fatal stroke during the night without displaying any previous symptoms; his position as an associate professor in Renaissance studies opened up at the university and Daniel was immediately accepted, to begin his tenure in the spring semester.

There was a great level of familial celebration over his unexpected windfall of good fortune over the holiday, with the Stuart side of the clan saying that Divine Providence had finally cleared a path for him to start his life’s work, and that the equally celebrated old man who had taught him Dante and Moore appeared to have passed peacefully in his sleep.

Sarah had had to smile along – and of course she really was happy for him, too. They would even be able to afford to buy a house near the campus soon. But she simply couldn’t shake the date: the coroner said it had happened early on November 1st – the night of All Souls Day, Samhain. And she had practically dared a shady acquaintance who – somehow – appeared to know Death. Personally. She never had the nerve to approach the Goblin King with her dire suspicions, and, to her profound (albeit somewhat guilty) relief, Jareth never mentioned it, either. He was far more interested in her immediate future, or rather what he hoped it would now bring.

Sarah’s acting skills certainly were improving; even after their move into a nice, refurbished turn-of-the-century Victorian bungalow during Christmas break, she had Daniel believing that she still wanted to wait a few more months before attempting to conceive, under the guise of settling into their new schedule with him working; the courses he was now teaching were mostly lecture, but he liked to regularly inflict pop quizzes just to keep everybody honest and on-task.

The truth was that she wasn’t about to humor Jareth on this one just yet; that incident had really left her more rattled than she cared to explore. And when she finally decided that she was ready, she made darn certain that they were not coupling anywhere near solar holidays. They achieved a successful conception the first week of April, safely after Spring Equinox (Ostara), but before May Day (Beltane); she knew all the old names by heart now – and she had to be careful not to use them aloud; it would’ve made her sound pagan. She had started attending church services with Daniel to humor him (he was Presbyterian), and while the message was usually uplifting, Sarah still had her doubts. He was not actively attempting to prostelyze her beyond that, though; there was no pressure at home, merely presentation, standing invitation to participate, openness. She loved him for that, too; she could respect that. The repeat exposure did make her curious about something, though…

Unsurprisingly, the prospect of baptized babies turned out to be an anathema to Jareth.

“Well,” Sarah remarked, trying to stifle a smile, “I’m not about to promise anything, but I’ll push for baptism when they’re older; from what I’ve seen it’s got to mean more to you when you understand what’s going on and why – it’s supposed to be a commitment to God. Although I can see now how it has its uses protectively.”

“Don’t even joke about that!” His expression was so intense she honestly couldn’t tell whether he was angry or afraid.

Good to know…

Back in the normal world, life was going at least about as expected. Daniel’s work usually kept him busy for many hours outside of the classroom, between preparing for the next weeks lectures and grading tests and essay papers (a few of which were so funny he had to show them to her: some kids had a definite knack for the art of ostentatiously filling up page after page with nearly contentless wordy speech just for the sake taking up space!) Sarah’s hours were regular also, but the times varied depending on what day of the week it was, especially on weekends when the library liked to host family-friendly events in the early evenings. Just seeing all those mothers (and fathers) with their babies and little kids was starting to make Sarah excited. Her own had given her morning sickness, but that thankfully passed after a few weeks. At the three-month benchmark they learned it was a girl, and Sarah was over the moon – and then she had to laugh at herself: _she_ had been no perfect little princess. Little tyrant was more like it; hopefully her daughter would take more after her daddy in temperament.

To Sarah’s ongoing amusement, Jareth was treating her very, very carefully now, as if she had suddenly become as fragile as his crystals looked. He always instantly deferred to whatever she wished to do, his usual quicksilver mood changes were schooled into an eerily angelic calm, and he gently discouraged her from any and all forms of exertion in his presence. She could tell he was nervous; it was funny. He clearly had absolutely no experience being around nuts-and-bolts human reproduction at all; she was teaching him about the developmental phases as they went along.

“Oh,” Sarah chuckled one labyrinthine evening while they were playing Crazy Eights (she’d taught him that one; he refused to play anything even nominally stressful with her now.)

“What is it?” He had gotten up and was at her side in an instant.

“Somebunny just woke up – she has the hiccups. Been swallowing amniotic fluid in there, silly little sweetie,” she lovingly stroked her abdomen.

“It isn’t serious?”

“Not at all,” she reassured him – and lightly gasped. “She just kicked! Do you want to feel her?” Her face was all aglow.

But Jareth hesitated. “I do not wish to accidentally imprint my own consciousness onto her - they’re far too susceptible to everything at this stage. I shouldn’t be mentally probing in there at all; you wouldn’t learn anything of her personality yet, anyway.”

“What? No! I-” she laughed, and grabbed his hand. “Oh, Jareth, not like that! Here…”

She pressed his gloved hand to her where she had felt that tiny foot land a couple seconds ago… and she was not disappointed: her baby hit the offered target with perfect accuracy! “There,” she let go of him. “That’s her way of saying ‘hi’ in there.”

His majesty’s reaction looked somewhere between amazedly stunned and personally revolted – something about the reality of a living corporal being inside another living corporal being appeared to make him profoundly uncomfortable. He never attempted to touch her abdomen again during gestation, although he did sing for the benefit of her unborn child on rare occasions – ‘to help’, he had said. Help what he refused to tell her, but he said this with a satisfied little lip-smile, the usual mischief in his bright eyes decidedly warmer.

Sarah went into labor on New Year’s Eve and didn’t give birth until January 2nd (2000; the hospital had been abuzz with the Y2K scare, but nothing ever did happen to all their equipment.) Apart from the duration – during which Sarah threatened to wish Daniel away to the goblins if he so much as looked at her like that ever again (a remark he never let her live down, it had struck him as so hilarious) – there were no serious complications, and finally little Deborah Elspeth Stuart was in her mother’s arms, suckling at her breast; she already had her daddy’s fiery hair.

Sarah’s six weeks maternity leave would’ve seemed to fly by if it hadn’t been for the usual insomnia from having to wake up to feed her all the time. Her first ‘visit’ after the delivery was terribly awkward initially; she hadn’t wanted to leave Debbie alone, yet she wasn’t ready to start lying to her husband about having errands to run that she mysteriously couldn’t take the baby along on, not when she had hours of privacy while he was at work. She had simply showed up with the child in tow.

“I hope I’m not breaking any rules here,” she addressed the king as he entered his bedroom via the door; he’d stopped startling her for fun when she was first skipping her period. “I didn’t want to leave Debbie unsupervised with me out-of-reach, and I thought maybe you’d like to meet her…”

Jareth’s eyes had lit up greedily from the moment he’d come in and seen what she was carrying, and a slow grin crossed his face as he crossed the room to Sarah, who had the uneasy feeling that she had just shown off her baby to a shark!

“Don’t be getting any funny ideas; she’s mine,” she sternly reprimanded him. “And I know what to do, by your own admission, if I have to.”

That brought him up short, and he sighed a bit tersely, his eyes still full of the rosy-cheeked newborn. “That was hardly necessary, Sarah; I am merely excited to finally be seeing my… goddaughter,” he almost scoffed at the word – but the mood was past in an instant.

Back to normal, then, Sarah thought tiredly.

And two seconds later, tiny Debbie was being carefully held in the arms of the Goblin King, who was smiling down on her, but with an odd expression that Sarah could only half-read as triumph.

For the first month-and-a-half, she brought the baby with her to visit Jareth every day; he delighted in playing with the infant on his plush mattress, even going so far as to let her suckle his finger, ungloved. Sarah had never asked him about his gloves, intuiting the topic’s high sensitivity from how he unconsciously fidgeted with them frequently, but it was now painfully obvious why he wore them: his hands were probably the single place that betrayed his otherness, his age – many faerie-creatures sported (or hid) some manner of deformity like this.

Alright, maybe one of two places, she silently mused, eying his equally eternal knee-high boots.

Things started getting trickier again when she had to return to work. Thankfully finding a babysitter during the day had been no problem at all; Daniel’s mother was overjoyed to be able to help, and trips across town to grandma and grandpa’s house became a regular part of their day. But even with the number of times that Debbie was still waking up at night, she was such a squaller that it was rare for Daniel not to wake up also, if not first. As much as it irritated Jareth, Sarah simply couldn’t bring her as often; it wasn’t logistically possible without high risk of getting caught (she was currently sneaking in her visits with him during her lunch hour and eating there in front of him as it was!) She brought him plenty of pictures, but of course it wasn’t good enough. In the end, Sarah wound up taking Debbie with her grocery shopping once a week (which wasn’t a total lie – that’s really where they went afterwards) and Sarah would find someplace relatively deserted to ditch the car and vanish, usually in a public bathroom like the ones at the park. They were only gone for ten minutes at a time – about twenty-six minutes Underground – not long enough for it to look suspicious even if somebody noticed them from outside.

And Jareth seemed to love entertaining Debbie so much it was always hard getting him to relinquish her when it was time to go. Even the child’s father never doted on her like this – dancing with her, singing to her (although that got stopped when Debbie started perfectly humming along in tune at only six months old!), even putting on little shows for her behind the side of the bed with simplistic, felted hand-puppets that looked like cute caricatures of his goblins! He really was terribly fond of her; all of the benevolence he possessed seemed to just pour out of him for Debbie’s benefit.

But Sarah’s blind sentimentality had died years ago with that fruit – never to recover – and she gradually began seeing this situation and his subsequent actions coldly and accurately for what they actually were (albeit, not without some modicum of sympathy at this point): Her little girl was a fantastically effective anodyne to take the king’s mind off of his isolation, his near-imprisonment here, as Sarah herself had done prior (although obviously to a lesser degree.) As Debbie began getting older and started forming her first words, her mother became careful never to refer directly to Jareth aloud in her presence for fear that she would pick up the name and start trying to use it. Daniel never knew why Debbie would get so excited to go to the grocery store (she was still too small to ride in the car-carts), unless Mommy was making a huge game of these hour-long excursions, which he wouldn’t put past his fun-loving wife.

When Debbie was approaching the age of two-and-a-half, Jareth abruptly commanded Sarah to stop bringing her; she was genuinely shocked.

“Humans rarely form any permanent memories until they are about three years of age,” he explained the decision, stoically, emotionless. “She cannot be allowed to remember me or this place.”

It was with a heavy heart that Sarah watched him hug the little girl goodbye for the last time that day; Debbie had given him a big baby kiss on the cheek – just like she did with Daddy – unaware that she would never see her playmate again. Sarah tried to keep some of his activities with her up on her own, like using little toy sock-puppets to interact with her, but she knew it wasn’t the same.

The split-time situation was even more perilous to Sarah with the second child; they had waited four years before trying again. Debbie was in morning preschool now, so at least the first six-week’s leave after Ethan’s birth were easy to pull off, with Jareth pleased as punch that she’d done it again; this one looked more like Mommy already with his dark hair. But now she was often saddled with both her children at the same time – not just the one she could take – and while she considered secretly getting another babysitter, she knew she could count on Debbie to blab everything to Daddy the moment he came home in the evening like the little loudmouth did every day. Sarah finally got around it by periodically taking Ethan to work with her, to the irritation of her boss, claiming that she had missed too much time with her first one: it was allowed for one month only.

Ethan’s godfather made good with the relatively short amount of time he was allotted, having no compunction about entertaining him not with his creative talents, but with his powers, a choice which initially sparked terror in the mother. The subsequent displays were henceforth restricted to sleight-of-hand style magic tricks, along with the Goblin King’s near-mesmerizing juggling abilities with his crystals.

How long did it take him to teach himself all of that? Sarah thought in wonder, watching him interact with her son (they were supposed to be getting Ethan’s physical; the appointment was really fifteen minutes later.) He really was a one-man show. Contact between Jareth and the child was severed completely at the same age as Debbie. The illusion shows turned out to be a very shrewd choice on the king’s part; under less enthralling circumstances, Ethan tended to hyperactively tear around the house, his personal settings at age three being ‘on’ and ‘off’. Sarah had been forced to stash all their knick-knacks to keep them from getting broken!

Baby number three was an ‘oops’… or at least that’s what Dan thought. It had been a wild, spontaneous, on-the-sly-while-the-kids-are-asleep middle-of-the-night sort of quickie fling on his part, and Sarah had only been half-awake when she realized what was happening, rapidly joining him in his passion… only to discover afterwards that the condom broke. Right during her ovulation. On the night of Imbolc, festival of the return of the Sun, February 2nd. Upon digging out and examining the discarded packet in the trash the next day, she immediately realized why: the thing had been ten years old! Where the hell had it even come from?! She didn’t even recognize the brand!

Jareth feigned innocence for all of five seconds before bursting his seams, cackling with wicked merriment!

“I should force you to contribute your share to our expense account if you’re going to be pulling stunts like this,” she threatened. “And I’ll tell you right now I don’t want to be having kids after 40; I’ll have my tubes tied if I have to!”

“Be calm, Sarah,” the king said in that odd, soothing tone he strictly saved for her pregnancies, “your household just needed one more to feel complete. And I think you’ll find your children more than adequate compensation in time,” he added conspiratorially, that warm, mischievous glint in his eye again.

Sarah wasn’t left wondering what that meant for much longer. Debbie started taking piano lessons in second grade… and could sight-read Mozart and Beethoven sonatas within her first week! Ethan’s talent took a year longer to develop, but by age five he was showing such promise in physical engineering just playing with building materials in kindergarten that the Stuarts were encouraged to have their little boy tested. He had an IQ of 147! They were both child prodigies! Dan and Sarah were simply astounded – neither of these talents ran in either of their families, even extended, as far as they knew! More ‘blessings from God’ in the form of recessive genes, it seemed.

Their mother knew better…

The last was no less exceptional: another girl – Ailsa – so much a mixture of her parents that she didn’t resemble either of them. Her godfather had sung to her a little extra in utero, not wanting her to grow up to be any less special than her elder siblings. Now that she understood what was going on here, Sarah was a little more nervous for this child, not knowing what effect the Goblin King’s influence would have on that tiny, developing brain…

The last delivery was harder than the others, ending in a caesarian section to remove the baby; her head had been just a little too large to squeeze through. Her blood-type was also positive when both Sarah’s and Dan’s were negative – biologically plausible, the doctor had reassured the father, but genetically it was a rare outcome. They were also warned that Sarah should not become pregnant again because of this – the next child would be in constant danger of spontaneous abortion – and she heartily agreed, but with just a touch of paranoia: was this outcome deliberate as well?

It was next-to-impossible to take Ailsa to see Jareth; Ethan was still barely too young for preschool during her maternity leave, and afterwards Sarah worked the hours her other children were in school, and it was not uncommon for them to get dropped off at the library on days that Sarah got off work in time to make dinner for them all, or to have it with their grandparents. Ailsa made the trek only three times before she was too old, and the first time that Jareth tried to hold her as he had the other, she shook silently like a leaf in his arms – her big blue eyes wide – and he’d had to irritatedly hand her straight back to her mother.

Can she actually sense what he is?

Sarah wondered…

The second time, Ailsa had been toddling already and had discovered his bookcase along the wall; she managed to pry a small, thin volume off of it all by herself, but rather than pulling more off or treating the object roughly, she had promptly sat down right where she was and opened it, carefully examining the pages of flowing hand-inked text. Sarah explained that she was already attempting to read at home; amused, the king picked another dusty old tome from a higher shelf and sat down beside her to read aloud.

The third time, though, she had discovered those odd tapers set into the wall behind his bed; the other children had seen them but had shown no interest, strangely enough. Ailsa just clambered straight up onto the bed as soon as her mommy uncovered her eyes once they had arrived, rolling – not crawling – straight across the duvet, giggling, climbing up onto the long pillow at the back, and…

“Ailsa, no!” her mother immediately lunged for her, diving across the bed, pulling her away, sensing the danger of the open flame if nothing else. But not fast enough: the smoke had irritated the baby’s delicate, sensitive little nose, and she accidentally sneezed one of them out, just as Jareth appeared.

His eyes widened and stayed that way when he saw what had happened; Sarah shivered herself, backing away from him with her child squirming in her arms, as he coldly stalked over to the wall, leaned in, and removed the extinguished taper to the far left, still faintly smoldering and smoking heavily before it went out completely in his fist; he was staring down at it with his jaw clenched. He was bodily shaking in fury; Sarah had never seen him angry like this!

“Get her out of here,” was all he said, his voice barely under control.

Sarah never brought her back.
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