Disclaimer in first chapter.
A/N: Those of you who have read this before, yes this is the chapter two I posted before, but longer and better! Eh, just read it, kay? This chapter is dedicated to Drix for being a sounding-board and just general ear for my insanity.▬▬♦▬▬
"What are you talking about?"
Karen stood, backing up slightly so she could squint at her stepdaughter, "You used to have no
signature, zip, zilch, nada. Over the last month or so, that's changed, you're…" She shrugged helplessly, "Well, I don't actually know what
you are, or to be more precise, what you're becoming, but it definitely isn't human."
Sarah's mouth gaped open before shutting with a sharp snap, "How can you tell?"
The older woman looked flustered and a little embarrassed, "To be honest, I'm sort of… a witch."
The green-gray eyes that had been so pain-filled nearly bugged clean out of their sockets, "A WITCH?!"
"Yes, I'm a non-practicing witch. My mother and father were magical too," Karen smiled wryly, "They really
didn't approve of my marrying your father." A fond expression crossed her features, softening them, "Not even an ounce
of magic in that one…"
"But - but, if you're a witch, then why didn't you SAY anything when I sent Toby to the-" Too late Sarah clapped a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide.
Karen frowned, "Sent Toby where now?"
Tears began to sparkle in Sarah's eyes once more, her voice was barely audible as she choked out her words, "I sent Toby to the Labyrinth, two months ago."
All the blood rushed from the blonde's face, leaving her as white and waxy as a corpse. "Oh my," she murmured, "I think I need to sit down now." She collapsed down beside Sarah and placed her head squarely between her knees, taking deep, calming breaths.
Meanwhile Sarah was becoming just the slightest bit hysterical. Finally
she had someone to talk to about everything she had gone through in the last few months, finally
she could tell someone about her little escapade into the magical realm of the goblins, finally
she could communicate her guilt over Toby with an actual human being… providing her stepmother ever spoke to her again.
After a few minutes, Karen sat up. Fixing Sarah with steely resolve she did not ask
, she commanded
: "Tell me everything."
And so, Sarah did, finally. She told Karen about her anger over losing her mother to her other lover: the stage. She explained to her stepmother how angry it made her that her father had remarried. She sobbed out how sorry she was for being such a royal brat.
Then came the hard part: the Labyrinth.
Explaining what she'd done was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to endure. Telling a woman that she'd almost condemned her child to a life as a goblin was not
an easy task. She tried to communicate how out-of-sorts she'd been, she had started her period that day and had gone without any sort of medication all
day. Then the babysitting, which she had not even been asked
One thing on top of another had led her to foolishly act out a scene from one of her favorite plays. Something she had started doing after her mother had left, foolishly thinking it would bring her closer to the flighty woman.
She struggled over the right words to use to describe the Goblin King. Terrifying was good, but if she'd been truly terrorized would she have been so very sarcastic and flippant? Evil didn't work either, after all he was only doing what she'd asked him to do. In the end she went with driven, cold, merciless… and magnificent. Beautiful in the way that wild animals were, but frightening because he was not safely locked behind the bars of a zoo.
Telling Karen of her adventures was a bit easier, though she did flush and stumble over some of her more foolish exploits. The blonde shivered violently at the thought of that tunnel made of hands, and Sarah even surprised a laugh out of the woman when she described how tough it had gotten after her Advil had worn off and the cramps had really
set in. By the time she wound down the story with her description of the Escher Room, she was beginning to calm down, the tears had long since dried on her face.
When at last she was finished Karen was silent for a while, her eyes wide as she tried to take it all in, "Wow."
"Yeah," Sarah frowned, "Why didn't you know that HE had been here?"
Karen sighed and scrubbed at her face with her hand, answering wearily, "You invited
him in, Sarah. That negated any magics that would have protected you OR Toby from him." She shifted to study her stepdaughter once more, noting the redness of her eyes and the dark circles beneath them. "Well, I might have to turn in my Stepparent's License, but I'm not going to punish you for inviting a strange older man into our house," her lips quirked faintly, "I'd say you've been punished enough."
Sarah nodded emphatically, then frowned, "Is there any way to revoke the invitation?"
The blonde was immediately amused, "You mean like a vampire? No, honey, magical creatures like the truly powerful Fae can only come in with consecutive invites."
"But, he came here, today... and I didn't invite him!"
Karen began muttering to herself, Sarah didn't catch enough to actually make any sense of what the older woman was saying. Suddenly she jumped to her feet, spinning to stare at Sarah with a mixture of horror and fascination.
"You ate Fae food! The peach!"
Sarah nodded slowly, tears spilling down her cheeks once more.
Karen smacked a hand to her forehead, "Shit, damn, fuck, and shit again!" Her face was frighteningly solemn, "He has an open invitation to our house now, you're his subject, he has every right to visit you." She tapped her perfectly-manicured fingernail to her lower lip, thinking, "But technically by magical law, you're still a minor…"
"So?" Sarah asked hopelessly, "What does that matter? He owns
"No, he doesn't," the older woman replied fiercely, hazel eyes taking on a truly determined glint, "And he won't, not if I have anything to say about it." She resumed pacing again, up and down the long length of the room she walked, though 'stalked' would probably be the better adjective.
Pausing, Karen focused her intense gaze on her stepdaughter again, "How would you feel about going to a magical school?"
"There are magic SCHOOLS?!"
"Yes," Karen said shortly, "I attended one, in fact, the Salem Institute."
Sarah couldn't hold back a short giggle, "There's a magic school in SALEM? How Arthur Miller of you…"
The blonde rolled her eyes, "Witch hunts are ridiculous things, if we really
communed with the devil, don't you think he'd help us out? Our magic saves us, it's only the innocents that really burn…" She shook her head, attempting to get back on topic, "Anyways, you wouldn't be going to my alma mater."
A grim smile worked it's way onto Karen's features, "Two words: diplomatic sanctuary."▬▬♦▬▬
It was amazing if you really thought about it. An entire magical world practically in her backyard and Sarah had resorted to the Sidhe to find something fantastic. She couldn't believe what a fool she'd been.
Karen had taken her up to the attic and shown her several remnants from her school days. Stroking her wand lovingly as she explained various things like school subjects, mail, money and the Ministries.
The concept of a magical government strikingly similar to the mundane one had thrown the poor teenager into a fit of hysterical giggles. Karen was kind enough to wait for her stepdaughter to calm down before going any further.
"I went to Salem, but I don't think that that will be an option for you."
"It's not old enough."
Sarah frowned, "Huh?"
"Salem is only a few hundred years old, it was established about a decade after America was founded." Karen smiled wryly, "It took a while for the witches and wizards of our nation to accept that the 'Colonies' had permanently split from the mother country."
"What does age have to do with anything?"
The blonde woman was regarding her stepdaughter with a growing respect, she couldn't believe how well Sarah was taking all of this. "Let's head downstairs, we may as well be comfortable while we have this discussion." She led the way to the kitchen and started to fix up a pot of tea, flexing her wand-skills for the first time in seven years.
Once the two were comfortably ensconced on the living-room couch, Karen began again:
"Humans have only really had formalized magical training for a short time, relatively speaking. A little over a thousand years to be exact, before that it was all apprentice-ships and hush-hush nonsense. Around twelve hundred years ago two witches and two wizards got together and built a school for the formal education of young magical humans. It was the first such institution of it's kind and as such it holds more weight with the non-human magical community -"
"But why?" Sarah asked with a frown, "I still don't entirely understand why this one school is so special?"
"When you live as long as some Sidhe do, time becomes rather fluid. This one school holds more authority because it's been around longer. There are a lot of binding magical treaties surrounding it, and a hell of a lot of wards protecting it. Theoretically the other schools should offer the same protections but…" The blonde smiled wistfully at Sarah, "I'm just not willing to risk it."
The teen could feel panic bubbling up inside of her at the thought of 'time' and 'age' in relation to a Sidhe. She was becoming a Sidhe, would she have to watch Toby grow up and die? Would she see his children's ends too? And their children's?
Karen watched a myriad of emotions cross the teenager's face. "Oh Sarah," she enfolded the young girl in her arms and felt the tears start, quickly soaking through her shirt.
"Is everything alright?" Robert Williams entered the room and looked on in concern as his eldest child sobbed her heart out in the arms of his wife, "Karen, what's going on?"
"Just girl-stuff, dear. Why don't you take Toby out and get us some chocolate, yeah?"
"Alright, tissues too?"
Karen smiled at his lame attempt at a joke, "Extra
He nodded and left his two favorite girls to their discussion. Whatever it was, he trusted Karen to let him know about anything that was truly worrying. To be honest he was just glad that Sarah was starting to accept the new woman in his life, and it had only taken three years for her to do so!
Gradually Sarah's sobs tapered off until she was sitting upright again, sniffling into her peppermint tea. "Sorry," she murmured with a feeble smile.
"Sorry?" Karen scoffed, "What do you have to be sorry about? I'd be downright frightened if you didn't cry over something like this." She looked down at her tear-stained shirt and wrinkled her nose, "Although… why don't you fix us up some more tea while I go change into something more comfortable?"
The teen nodded her assent, knowing how much Karen hated being dirty, and headed to the kitchen to brew a fresh pot. She went through the motions automatically, a million thoughts sprinting through her head at the speed of light.
She was changing, and by the end of her transformation she would no longer be human. In no corner of her mind did Sarah consider the possibility that the change could be stopped: Jareth was too smug, too pleased for it to be something reversible. Karen had only confirmed it, for better or for worse there was nothing she could do to stop the inevitable.
"Death and taxes," Sarah muttered the old adage, a tremulous grin on her pale face. "Except death's not a certainty any more, is it?"
It was strange to think that she, Sarah Diana Williams, was soon-to-be an immortal. Someone who could not die. Someone magical. She had chased after the fairies all her life and now she was going to be
one, just when she was discovering how much she liked the ordinary.
Karen came into the kitchen , her outfit reflecting the lazy-rainy-day apparel that her stepdaughter already sported, "Alright then, where were we?"
"Um, different magical schools?"
"Oh right, anyways there are four magical schools I can name off the top of my head: Salem, Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts."
Sarah wrinkled her nose, "Hogwarts?"
"Yeah, I always wondered where the name came from, myself…" She shook herself out of her small reverie and continued, "The one I want to send you to is Hogwarts, it's the oldest of the magic schools and I know
they've got some sort of magical treaty with the Fay."
"Wait a minute, if Salem was the first school in America -" The teenager took in her stepmother's small wince with growing alarm, "Karen, where is Hogwarts?"
"Somewhere in Scotland."
? You don't even know where it is and you're planning to send me there?!"
"Darling, no-one knows the exact
location of any of the schools. It's a closely guarded secret, just like the wards and such. We all know that they're there but to know the exact location or the precise protections would make them less safe than they actually are," she explained gently.
"But you said you went to Salem," Sarah said accusingly.
"Yes, I did," Karen acknowledged, "But the school itself is not in Salem proper, it's in a nebulous area. For all I know the school I attended could be located several miles below
the actual town of Salem."
"How? How is that possible?"
"It's the nature of magic, dear. Almost anything is possible, if not always probable."
"Oh lord," Sarah slumped into one of the kitchen chairs and dropped her head down onto the table, "I'm getting a headache."
"Having your view of the world drastically altered tends to do that," the blonde informed the younger woman amusedly. "Why don't you go to bed early? I need to start sending off some letters, start getting in touch with some people, and…" Karen heaved a breath, "I'm going to need to tell your father."
"What? No!" Sarah's head lifted in surprised horror, "Don't tell dad!"
"He's going to figure out something's wrong when you start changing - physically, I mean."
"Am I really going to change that much?" Sarah asked, her hands automatically going to various body parts as if to check and make sure that they were all still attached and accounted for.
"Honestly? I don't know."
"That's not comforting."
Karen sighed, "It wasn't meant to be, Sarah. I'm as much in the dark in this situation as you are. The Fay were never really a subject of interest to me growing up, I don't even know when the last reported case of Fae Blessing was, only that it's a possibility."
"Does dad know? About you, I mean?" Sarah changed the subject, she didn't want to think any further about being an unknown.
"Of course he does, magic runs in my family," the blonde eyed the younger woman pointedly until realization lightened the brunette's green-gray eyes.
"Yes, there's a very good chance that he'll be a wizard. After his little jaunt to the Goblin Realm that chance is drastically increased." Karen smiled softly, placing a gentle hand on her stomach, "I always wanted to have a big family, I had to tell your father."
Thinking of the revelations to come, Sarah asked tentatively, "How did he take it?"
The older woman's expression became wry, "As well as can be expected. Out of sight is out of mind for your father, so long as I'm not practicing he doesn't have to acknowledge it."
"What made you give it up?"
"There were a lot of things, actually. Magic isn't a cure for anything and everything, the muggle - that is to say, non-magical - world is full of so many wonders. I was always something of a rebel," Karen smirked at her stepdaughter's obvious surprise, "Don't look so shocked. You don't hold the market on youthful indiscretion. The more my folks pushed me towards the Wizarding world the more I fought back." She wrinkled her nose, "My parents are not quite racist: they just cannot understand living without magic, what's more they don't want
Sarah was beginning to get upset again, "So marrying my dad was some sort of statement?"
"Oh no! I may stick to my principles but I wouldn't have involved others in any 'statements' I made. Your father... well, your father is a very special man." Karen smiled dreamily, "I knew that I wanted to be with him almost from the moment I laid eyes on him, and nothing was going to stand in my way - not parents, not magic, not even his angry daughter."
Sarah flushed, "I was awful."
"Not awful, exactly, but you were certainly an obstacle. My parents still won't speak to me -"
"They came to Toby's last birthday though."
"Of course they did, it's very likely that he'll be magical, they wanted to ensure that I wouldn't hold him back." She sighed into her tea, looking down, "I would never force my decisions on him, on any of my children. What happened between my parents and I... well, it's complicated."
Sarah fought back a yawn, trying to hide it with little success.
Karen nodded to the younger girl's tea, "Drink up and then bed, you can sleep in tomorrow but I expect your father will be wanting to speak with you."
Vulnerable green-gray eyes lifted to stare into hazel ones beseechingly, "Do you think he'll..." She trailed off uncomfortably, there were so many ways to end that sentence. Do you think he'll forgive me for sending his son to the Labyrinth? Accept me even though I'm going to be a fairy? Still love me after all is said and done?
The blonde read all those questions and more in her stepdaughter's eyes, seeing all those thoughts and knowing Richard as she did, Karen gave the only possible answer:
A/N2: I love writing this story and I love getting reviews, but I don't like a load of pressure. So please, if you give me a review (and I heartily encourage the practice, it's like story fertilizer) please don't beg me to write more or more quickly. I have other projects that have seniority, so while I will work on this it may take a LONG time to get updated, capiche?