In the throne room in the Castle Beyond the Goblin City, the afterparty continued. But unlike the celebration Aboveground, this one had more ale, off-key singing, and—most regrettably—goblin nudity.
"To the Queen!" a pant-less goblin yelled, streaking across the throne room.
The crowd cheered raucously.
A goblin chewing on a sausage spat out his mouthful and regretfully tossed the rest of it away.
Dressed in an outfit as dark as his mood, the Goblin King averted his gaze from the pantlessness and rolled his eyes.
"I doubt she would approve of such a display in her honor," he drawled, as he hooked one leather-clad leg over the armrest of his throne. "And don't you dare sit on anything until you put your trousers back on."
The crowd laughed even harder.
"Well," the Blue Worm said from his spot on the back of the Goblin King's throne, "all-in-all, I think the evening went rather well."
Jareth stared at him incredulously. "Really?"
He conjured a crystal and held it up to the worm. Inside, a dark-haired teenager proceeded to knee a blond man rather heftily in the crotch.
The Blue Worm winced. "Well, aside from the damage to your man bits, I say it went well."
"It could have gone worse," a goblin polishing his helmet said with a shrug.
"Could it?" Jareth asked, a touch hopefully.
The goblin nodded. "She could have been wearing spiked kneepads."
"True," Jareth said, slightly mollified. "And many thanks for your assistance earlier on," he said to the worm. "The coughing was a masterful touch."
The Blue Worm grinned. "Happy to oblige. We couldn't have ourselves a child-bride as Queen." He tsked. "The missus would 'ave had my hide…"
Jareth shuddered. "The thought is utterly abhorrent." He looked back at the crystal, where his counterpart was doubled over in pain, and sighed. "Then again, I doubt she will despise me any less with age."
"When I first met the missus, she hated me," the Blue Worm admitted. "Tried to feed me to a chicken, she did. Now, look at us! Been married going-on twenty years."
"Love's weird," a goblin with a ring through his nose said, shaking his head.
"And destructive," another goblin sighed, drinking deeply from his tankard.
"And chicken-y," a third goblin added, saluting him.
"Woo her," the Blue Worm said to the King. "You've got six years! That's plenty of time to get her onside. Good lookin' fella like yourself won't have any trouble."
Jareth snorted. "She has rejected me at every turn. I wouldn't even know where to start."
"Well, what have you tried so far?"
"Oh, I know!" a tiny goblin cried. He ticked off the ways on his grubby fingers. "Threw a snake at her. Sent heavy machinery after her. Drugged her with enchanted stone-fruit. Repeatedly invaded her personal space. Set the army on her. Questioned her maturity and basic problem-solving abilities—"
Jareth pinched the bridge of his nose. "Yes, yes—that's quite enough of that."
The Blue Worm and the tiny goblin shared a dire look over the King's head.
"W-ell," the Blue Worm said slowly, "it may have been a rocky start, but you can make up for it. Try a new approach!"
"Sing her some songs," one goblin called out. "Maybe that one about not standing in front of the Cleaners while they're spinning."
"That one's catchy," his friend said, brushing his pet chicken. "And educational."
"Send her presents!" another cried.
"Nothing says 'romance' like a sizeable lake fish," one goblin mused, polishing his spear.
"Bouquet of turnips always goes down a treat," another suggested.
The crowd murmured in agreement.
"Wear tighter pants!" a goblin standing beside an ale barrel slurred, refilling his tankard.
"Not too tight," the Blue Worm cautioned. "Nothin' romantic about passing out from a lack of blood flow to your bits." He nudged the King's shoulder. "Go on—you can do it!"
Jareth looked up. "I do believe you're right, old chap. After all, I have plenty of time to gain her love." He glanced at the clock. "And if not, I'll simply reorder time until I do."
"That's the spirit!" the Blue Worm said approvingly.
Jareth looked around the throne room and grimaced. "And in the meantime, we'll prepare for her arrival. We'll have to order another throne, arrange a coronation, and—" His eyes narrowed as the goblin streaker— who was now wearing his pants as a scarf—approached the throne. "Institute a law that bans reckless nudity in public."
"No!" the pant-less goblin cried. "That's practically our national pastime!"
One of the goblin guards pushed his helmet back from his eyes and squinted up at the King. "He's right. Why do we need all these changes just because we're getting a queen? I mean, is she really worth it?"
Jareth looked down at the crystal.
The future was a funny thing: tricky to find, harder to hold. But if he turned his wrist this way…
It was a familiar celebration scene set in an open field, with an arch made of pastel-hued flowers and a congregation of creatures clustered before it. A young woman, who looked like moonlight in a magnificent silver gown embroidered with stars, and a silver veil secured to her dark hair by a coronet of crystals, stood beside a blond man in a gold tunic, her hands clasped tightly in his. Her lips twitched with amusement as the Wiseman fought with his hat to say the vows; and her eyes shone with tears as the blond man pledged to place his love for her between the stars.
And before the Wiseman or his hat could mutter 'husband and wife,' she pulled him down into a kiss of such joy, such passion, that the blond man picked her up and spun her around until they were both laughing, dizzy at the wonder of it all, the crowd clapping uproariously at the spectacle.
"Yes," Jareth said hoarsely, staring at the scene. "She's worth it."
"To the Goblin Queen!" the Blue Worm cried.
"To the Goblin Queen!" the rest of the crowd slurred.
"In six years, seventeen days, three hours and forty-four minutes, you'll be mine," Jareth whispered to the crystal Sarah. He stared at the future vision of his besotted self. "And I'll be yours."
And from that point onward, things went mostly to plan.
(Well, until Cecil the minotaur gatecrashed the wedding with an inebriated dragon. But that is another tale…)