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"Uh, Lady Sarah? You in here?" He pushed the door open a bit further to peek in. The room was dark, but the shape of her body under the mound of blankets was made visible by the moonlight.

Her little flat was above a shop she worked in, the owners were an elderly couple who took Sarah in after she left home for the city. She pulled the blanket over her head, she knew that voice anywhere. It was comforting, yet worrying, as he wasn't called on.

The sound of hobbling feet on the cold and creaky wood floor approached her, she rolled over to look and just as she had guessed Hoggle was standing there looking at her.

He looked worried, even in the minimal light from the moon she could see that something was bothering him.

"Hoggle? What are you doing here?" She spoke in a sleepy voice. Rubbing her eyes her mind was racing, why would Hoggle be here, I don't remember calling him... did I?

"Lady Sarah, Iz got some unpleasant news. The Rat refuses to tell anyone, especially you, but I can't just let him keep going like this..."

Her mind whirled, she didn't even realize he was talking until she yawned and scooted off the bed, to sit on the floor. "I'm sorry Hoggle, what were you saying?"

"Oh, I was nervous sayin it once, but now I gots to say it again, darn ye. I don't want that rat ta know I'm 'ere! 'E's got too much pride to admit it to anyone, an he still holds a grudge against ye, but yer the only one who's brave enough ta confront em!" Hoggle plopped down on the rug covering the wood floor with a humph.

Sarah let what he said process, nodding her head every now and then, looking deep in thought, surely she was about to say no, to tell Hoggle she would rather have a spa day in the bog than help his royal highness.

"Hoggle, tell me exactly what's wrong. Is he sick? Is the kingdom in ruin? Just what could be so wrong with his highness that he needs help? Can't he just... magic himself better? Throw a crystal ball in the air and poof himself or his kingdom back into ship shape?" Sarah crossed her arms and looked at Hoggle, then realized how rude she sounded. It had been 8 years since her journey, and she was still acting like this. She sighed, "I'm sorry, Hoggle. I didn't mean to me so short... it's just, I..." her brain fumbled for her right words, but nothing came. She gave him a shrug.

"I know Sarah." Hoggle patted her knee as a tear started to form in her eye. She never had forgotten him. There was always a reminder of him; whether it was a visit from her friends, or things as simple as the crystal ball shaped light fixtures in her workplace, there was always something that reminded her. 

"Hoggle, tell me what's wrong" her voice became urgent, all the possibilities were flying through her brain. "He's ok isn't he? He'll be ok?"

Hoggle sighed, he had always known that Sarah never forgot about him. She never failed to ask how he was and how his kingdom was. Whether it was out of curiosity or something more, she always made sure to ask. It irked Hoggle to no end. "Sarah, it ain't easy to tell ye this, but Jareth ain't doin so well. E's been pretty sick fer a while now, but he's finally startin to give in. He rarely makes appearances in the kingdom, much less in his own castle." Hoggle saw how much sadness was on her face, and immediately knew that he had done the right thing. She would try to help, and something told him that Jareth would eventually let her.

"I want to help. No, I need to help. What do you need me to do?"

"Well, he ain't gonna be too happy bout this but you need to go to him.. but because he's not here to make transporting you easier, we've got to run the labyrinth."

Sarah sat in disbelief, she loved the labyrinth and it's inhabitants dearly, but that didn't mean she'd love to run it again.

"Now before ya go gettin all worried and decidin not to go ye need to know that the labyrinth itself is not in good shape. After your run thins 'ave stayed the same, but the labyrinth 'as lost its magic. No shiftin walls, no army of goblins, it's just still."

Sarah got up and started to toss a few clothing items on her bed, she had definitely made up her mind. If her dear Labyrinth was becoming lifeless, what did that mean for its King? Was he just as lifeless?

She checked the clock on the table, 23:22. thankfully it was Thursday night, that meant 4 days off. She walked to the closet to grab some clothes to put on when she paused. "How long will this take?"

Hoggle thought about this. He was still surprised that she so readily agreed to going and hadn't yet thought of that. Just how long would it take? How accepting would Jareth be? How bad of a condition would he be in once Sarah got there? How long would it take for them to reach the castle? All of these things had yet to be answered, but what he did know is that they would need to go soon, before the opening he made into the underground closed back up.

Sarah flicked on the light to the bathroom and closed the door, leaving Hoggle in her bedroom lost in thought. She looked at herself in the mirror. Shaking her head she pulled off her night shirt and pajama shorts, trading it for a dark green long sleeved tunic and black leggings. She slipped into some black canvas sneakers and shrugged her bag with extra cloths and a few other necessities over her shoulders. Before opening the door she took a deep breath, unsure of what she was getting herself into. "Well, come on feet"

Hoggle looked up as Sarah walked back in. "Ye ready?" She nodded once and led the way out. As the two walked toward her door she made sure to leave a note behind to Marcy, the much older shop owner, letting her know that she'd be out for the weekend. She pulled the door shut behind them, and at that they walked into the cold drizzly night toward the labyrinth.

By the time they finally got through to the labyrinth their clothes were slightly damp from the light rain that fell on their way to the portal.

Sarah rolled her sleeves up to her elbows as they walked towards the entrance. Still standing wide open, the gates looked more dull then she remembered. Actually, everything looked more dull. The sheen that was so full of life before now faded and lifeless, it was just like Hoggle had described. The air surrounding them wasn't as much unsettling as it was mood dampening. The pair didn't feel in danger, as there really wasn't any. If there was, the dangers were too lifeless to be any real menace.

The whole place was in a trancelike state. Unmoving and lethargic. Getting to the castle felt like swimming through jello.

Sarah leaned against a wall. "I don't remember it taking this long last time, and I thought it would be easier!"

"That's part of it Sarah, we've only been walkin through here for barely an hour, and we's only a little ways to go till we even get to the worm's cottage. I'll get ya to the gates, but that's it. I hasn't gone in there since ye ran it the first time, and I ain't about to go in there again. With or without Jareth"

The sky was overcast, but unlike at home where overcast meant rain and cold and wind here it was muggy and tepid. Sarah was only walking but she felt like she was in the middle of a marathon. Out of breath and drained of energy. It was almost night as far as she could tell or maybe it was just getting really dark; everything seemed off kilter. 

The pair reached the place where Sarah met the worm, only this time there was no worm. "Oh he's probably just inside with his missus, havin' tea and stayin' put. I almost wish I was too" Hoggle mumbled the last part so Sarah didn't hear.

A thin mist was making wisps around the branches in the corridor. Sarah felt like a child walking through a pool, slower and held back by the mist. Hoggle too was slowed down even further but they turned toward the wall that isn't there and trudged forward. Sarah stated to turn right but Hoggle grabbed her before she got away.

"What? I know where I'm going, I've done it before remember?" Sarah said as she put a fist on her hip and gave Hoggle an indignant face.

Hoggle shook his head "Girly, that's what the worm may 'ave said, but you should always go this way. It leads ya straight to the castle." Hoggle looked proud when Sarah's jaw dropped. "Wow, much help he was!" Sarah huffed and wadded through mist going the right way. As the pair started to go they heard the familiar chuckle of the worm from within his wall cottage, who overheard their conversation.

In the darkness of night the two were unable to get anywhere, it was the kind of dark that left no room at all for light, inky and thick and all encompassing. It left them blind for the time being. They found a little nook that would have otherwise been a route to an oubliette, but they steered clear of the trap manhole leading down and found a comfortable place to rest till it became light enough again to continue.

Hoggle knew that if it weren't so dark and movement wasn't so slow that Sarah would be pacing. He could hear her fidgeting with a twig she picked up. "Hoggle, what happened, could you tell me now that we're not in a rush to get out of my house?" Sarah was impatient and wanted nothing more than to be wherever Jareth was, helping him. There was no reply so Sarah assumed that Hoggle had fallen asleep. She shrugged and tried to get a bit of sleep herself.

The morning came and they continued. Sarah was still miffed that the worm had lied to her during her run, this was so much easier even if it was like walking through peanut butter. But she figured that it was just the worms job to tell runners that, or everyone would make it through at least as far as the next turn.

It was almost sundown again in the Underground when they finally had the goblin city in their sights. As they approached the gates Sarah felt the already heavy air grow more dense. A musty and damp smell wafted through the air as the pair walked between goblin houses. Goblins lay on doorsteps, in planter boxes, on straw bales; anywhere you looked a goblin or two was strewn across something marginally flat, but there was no action. A few goblins looked over at them only to give a half hearted shrug or a lethargic 'hey lady!' then fall back to sleep.

Sarah suddenly felt very alone, and very afraid of what she was about to find within the castles walls. Hoggle stood on the bottom step, unwilling to go any further. They had barely spoken on their journey there.

"Oh come on Hoggle" Sarah said in a hushed tone. "What is he going to do, if his kingdom is already like this what do you think he'd be able to do?"

"He may not do anythin now, but I can guarantee ye that as soon as es better he'll tie me to the bottom of the bog! He may be sick but his pride will never fade."

Sarah gave up trying to argue with the dwarf, she knew it would be no use, so she turned around and walked up to the castle doors alone. The heavy wooden doors with great brass hinges creaked open just enough for Sarah to slip through.


 

It felt like ages.

Wandering every hall she could find and checking all the rooms. She eventually found her way back to the throne room. Sarah plopped down on the edge of the pit and held her head in her hands. "What am I doing?" She whispered to herself.

She looked up and her eyes wandered around the room, landing on the only staircase that she hadn't yet tried, the stairs that lead to the Escher room. Sarah decided she may as well try it, as it was the only option left.

Walking up the stairs she felt a cool chill run down her back. Turning the corner to the wall which once held the entrance to the room of stairs she was met with a solid stone wall, draped with a heavy burgundy colored curtain, the color of Jareth's coat as they chased each other up and down staircases. The memory made her breath catch. She had never thought about how sad his song was.

She gingerly touched the velvet curtain, hoping it would give her some form of a clue. Looking down to the very bottom of the curtain she noticed a hitch in the fabric, like it was caught on something. She pushed against the curtain and met the wall, only a part of it moved ever so slightly. She pulled back the curtain and slipped behind it, quickly fumbling for a handle or hinge in the darkness. Finding none she gave the wall a defeated shove, but as she did that it moved just an inch more. She pushed a bit harder until the space was about a foot wide. She would have to leave her pack behind, it was too big to fit through the gap unlike her slender frame.

She pushed the door slightly more shut, and turned around to a spiral staircase. Looking upward it seemed to be an endlessly spinning flight of stairs.

Sarah frustratedly flung herself down against the door. "Stairs! Is that as creative as he ever got? Just endless stairs to any location?" She waved her hands around, glad no one was there to see or hear her exasperation.

She grumbled a bit more about how much her calves hurt and how she really needed to work out more as she picked herself up and moved on.

The stairs really did feel endless as she walked them. She looked over the handrail down to the bottom, she hadn't even made that much progress, but it felt like an eternity. A few pauses and frustrated growls later Sarah arrived at a large ornate door at the top of the tower of stairs. The door was silent when it opened, unlike all the others, and it brushed open smoothly and shut just as softly.

Sarah looked around the room, it was enormous. High vaulted ceilings with deeply stained oak trusses and beams, deep midnight blue curtains hung from the window frames, the dark polished wood floor reflected the fire. A huge granite fireplace with a gold adorned mantle built in at one end, above it the picture of a beautiful young woman who looked like she had been dressed I the moonlight itself.

Sarah had to pull her eyes away from the painting, as she scanned the rest of the room her eyes came to rest at the center.

On a raised dais was a magnificent bed with the same midnight blue sheets and curtains. The curtains were closed around the bed, but deep in her gut she knew what lay within.

Sarah approached the bed carefully, mindful of her feet. She reached out and touched the curtain, but was unable to draw it back. She dropped her hand.

"Jareth"

The word barely escaped her lips. She took a quiet deep breath and reached a shaking hand toward the curtain again, finding the fold where the two curtains met. She pulled back just enough so that she could see.

Laying there in the middle of the sheets was the goblin king himself, either fast asleep or dead. She really couldn't tell.

Sarah stifled a sniffle as her eyes welled up. 8 years. 8 long, lonely years. Everything was rushing at her now, she wanted to scream at him for doing what he had done all those years ago, she wanted to scream at herself for being too stubborn and scared to reach out; but she also wanted to kiss him. As her mind was spinning she decided what was best.

She reached out and gently brushed a stray hair away from his face. His eyes looked sunken and his features looked skeletal. He was the color of death, pale and gray. Nearly lifeless. She traced up his cheek with gentle fingers, all the years he must have put away were showing up on his face. He looked tired.

Sarah left the curtain cracked, but decided to let him wake up on his own. She went to the fireplace and poked the coals with a prod, giving them a bit more life. She explored the rest of the main room and the various items in it. One door lead to a grand bathroom with the marble soaking tub and shower that both looked like they could hold a party of 10. Another lead to a wonderfully large closet, chalked full of poets shirts and tight pants, she never knew one man could own so many similar or identical clothing items. There was a balcony overlooking a courtyard that looked like it once held some lovely rose bushes. Also connected was a large library and office room with a desk in the back nearly buried in papers and the occasional chicken feather.

It had been some time before Sarah realized how long she'd been wandering around. She heard a rustle from the bed, and again approached it carefully.

She looked between the gap on the curtains to find a still unmoving, slender, and bony body. Sarah ran out of patience. She sat up on the edge of the tall bed then drew her feet up crisscross situating herself near Jareth who was laying in the center.

She brushed his hair back with her fingertips and tucked it behind his ear.

"Jareth, wake up."

She silently prayed that things were different. That he would wake up and pull her in and they'd sleep tucked under the sheets in the comfort of each other's arms for eternity. But she knew that would never happen.

Jareth's eyes fluttered open a bit. Sarah wasn't sure what she was expecting, but the pain in his eyes wasn't it. They held each other's gaze as Sarah's eyes dripped tears.

"Jareth, I'm here now. I don't know what I can do to make this better, but I'm here." She said between sniffles. 

His eyes flicked away.

"How did you find your way here?" Jareths voice was weak, but Sarah could still hear the hurt and disappointment in it.

Jareth didn't wait for her answer "All this time, you call on your friends. You laugh and enjoy their company once every moon. You always talk to them, but NOW you want to come be the hero? Now you can see me? Miss Williams, I thought you were past playing the hero, I thought you grew up." 

His words cut her, she pursed her lips and hung her head. She wiped her eyes with her hands.

"I-im.." 

"You're what? Sorry? Well it may be a little late for that." Jareth drew in a sharp breath. He was weak all the way through to his bones. This was the most he'd talked at one time in many years, his words were as weak as he was. He had so dearly missed her, the infuriating young woman beside him. He wanted to hate her, he gave up everything and was even giving up on life itself since she'd been gone. He refused to love anyone else. The only way he could see glimpses of her through the years was when the dwarf or the beast chatted with her, since she had blocked him out completely. His words were painful to say and painful to deliver to her, but he couldn't keep them from coming out.

"But... Jareth, I am sorry. I mean it. I don't expect you to understand my position in this either, but just give it some consideration."

"Oh so you mean it this time? Do you really mean what you say Sarah? Or is this another one of your childish whims."

Her defeated sob was a knife through his heart. He himself didn't mean it, but the words just kept coming and he didn't have the strength to stop them. Sarah looked down at her hands. Without another word she retreated, closing herself off and moving away. 

"Sarah... Sarah, Wait..."

"Jareth, I really am sorry..." Sarah was at a loss for words, she knew if her mind were clear she would yell at him about his petulance and would stand up for herself, but all she could thing to do was move away, she made her way to the door almost as a means to prove her point silently. 

With the little strength he had Jareth pushed himself onto an elbow to look at her. Sarah's hand rested on the door handle and her forehead rested on the door, hiding her face from him.

"Sarah... please, I... I'm sorry, I really am... Don't leave me Sarah."

Jareth looked at her for a second longer before he was unable to hold himself up anymore, collapsing back to his previous position breathing heavily, once he got better he'd really have to make this up to her.

Sarah turned around and looked at the gap in the curtains. She didn't move any closer for several moments.

"Jareth, I won't leave you. And I accept your apology."

she shuffled back closer to the bed, opening the curtain fully. Sarah pressed Jareth back down into the pillows, never looking away from his eyes. She pulled the covers back up around his shoulders and cupped his face with her hand.

"You need to rest."

"But.." Jareth looked up at Sarah with pleading eyes.

"And you always said I was the childish one, hmm?" She gave him a stern look. "Rest now, I'm not going anywhere. We have to talk after you wake up so you need to rest."

Jareth pouted. It reminded Sarah of when Toby pouted. As Jareth's eyes closed shut she leaned down and kissed his forehead.

Sarah let Jareth sleep while she wandered around. She decided to walk down the stairs and get her bag. She opened the chamber door and suddenly the stairs disappeared. In front of her was just a short hallway to the door with the curtain in front of it. Sarah was able to open the door all the way this time, it was like it had just been oiled.

She pulled her bag inside the hallway but decided to see if Hoggle was still outside. She shut the door and pushed the heavy curtain to the side so she could get around it. It swayed back into place as she walked down the staircase into the throne room. When Sarah turned the corner into the throne room she wasn't expecting it to be any different from a few hours earlier, but already there were two goblins scuttling around chasing a chicken who had definitely seen better days. As soon as she entered the goblins froze. They all looked at each other, unsure of what to do.

"The… The Lady..." One of the smaller ones said, in awe and in shock.

Sarah had grown used to being called this as the occasional goblin popped in when she her friends visited. A tug on her leg drew her out of her thoughts. She looked down to a familiar goblin, one who visited often.

"Hello Pit! Have you seen Hoggle?"

"Uh... "

Pit turned to look at his companions. They shook their heads.

"No Lady. We haven't seen him."

Pit was incredibly well spoken for a goblin, and he spent the most time with her when she talked to her friends. Sarah nodded her head and walked over to the window. Things looked like they were coming back to life, and not in a bad way. Sarah decided Hoggle could do without her checking in, and walked back to the throne.

"Pit, might you and your friends be able to do a few jobs until evening?"

Pit looked unsure, then shrugged his shoulders, he liked helping the Lady Sarah. Nodding his head along with the other goblins they came to stand in front of Sarah.

"Pit, I need you to collect all the chicken feathers in here, Sid, I need you to pick up all the straw and put it into a trash bin, and Tin, I need you to sweep the floors and dust. Please?"

The trio of goblin friends nodded and got to work. With that under control Sarah returned back to the hall way between the curtain and Jareths chambers. Thankfully the stairs hadn't reverted back to the towering spiral staircase like the first time she came in. She picked up her sack and walked back into Jareths bedroom.

Sarah walked over to Jareths bed, he had moved himself from the middle to the far side of the bed, but it was easier for her to reach him now. She pulled a chair from the desk near the fireplace over to the bedside. Sarah placed the back of her hand on his forehead to check his temperature. His skin was still cold to the touch. Sarah studied his face, all the dips and ridges, the lines and creases. Sarah hadn't realized just how tired she was until she rested her head by his arm. Her eyelids refused to stay open any longer and she was pulled to sleep.

Jareth woke to a sleeping Sarah. He didn't know how long he had been asleep, but it felt like the best rest he had gotten in the past few weeks. He was starting to feel more alive, but still very weak.

"Oh Sarah."

Sarah woke up with a start at Jareths voice, not realizing she had fallen asleep. She yawned and sat up, pushing the hair out of her face and into a sloppy half-made bun. She was still tired and felt drained, but she couldn't help but smile when she looked at him. It had been far too long, and she was questioning why she did this to both herself and Jareth.

"I think you said we needed to talk." He started, eyes downcast.

"Yes, I believe I did." She wasn't sure what she was in for, but between catching up and explaining things she knew she had a long evening ahead of her.

"We should go by the fireplace and sit." Jareth suggested.

Sarah moved her chair back to its original spot and walked back over to help Jareth up.

"Go sit Sarah. I'm fine."

"If I let you go by yourself I'll be waiting for hours until you make it over." She commented dramatically. Jareth's face frowned at her remark, it had been some time since he had any banter with anyone.

"You pick on me, then you laugh at me, huh? Fine then, go away." He pouted as he slowly swung his legs over the edge of the bed.

Sarah rolled her eyes, standing a few feet away from him.

"Well, are you going to get up on your own or do I have to carry you?" Jareth always brought out her witt.

Jareth looked defeated, but decided to play his weakness in his favor. He knew he could get up fine on his own with a bit of effort, but Sarah apparently didn't think so. Starting to stand up he took a few exaggeratedly unsteady steps, and started to lose his balance. His plan worked.

Sarah jumped forward as Jareth started to become more unsteady. She was decidedly smaller than him, so her instincts told her to hold him up from the front, in doing so wrapping her arms around him. She felt his arms wrap around her and his cheek against her head, and she immediately realized her mistake.

Jareth knew she was on to him. She tried to squirm out of his hold but he wouldn't have it. Sarah eventually gave up letting her arms fall to her sides. "Sarah, you give up so easy?"

A balled up fist hit his chest. He laughed softly, nuzzling his face in her hair. Sarah essentially gave up and leaned her forehead against his shoulder.

"Oh precious, if I would have known you felt like this I'd have stayed in bed and told you there were no more blankets and that I was cold"

At that Sarah fought a little harder to get out of his grip. Though Jareth wasn't as weak as he originally portrayed he was definitely not his full strength. She finally slipped away as Jareth started to fall back, landing on his rear.

Sarah stood with her hands on her hips, giving Jareth an unimpressed look.

He raised his hands in surrender. "Fine fine, you win. Can we talk now?"

Sarah let out an exasperated sigh. "You... you... ugh" She too looked defeated now, and sat down next to Jareth on the floor near the fireplace, figuring that this place was as good as any.

"Well?" She offered. "Start talking."

"Well, what do you want to know? I don't know where to start."

"Well, how about we start with explaining to me why you are so sick and why the labyrinth is so... sick"

"Sarah, I think we should-"

"No, Jareth, I need to know. You're dying and so is the Labyrinth, and I feel like one of you effects the other. Tell me why. I can take whatever the harsh truth may be, just tell me."

Jareth didn't know how to say it without making her at fault. He didn't want to argue or push her away again, and he knew that it wouldn't take much, they still hadn't ironed out their past issues. So he decided to start from the beginning.

"Well, let's find a comfortable place to sit because I'm getting awfully cold and I have a lot to say."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Fine"

She got up and found a few blankets, bringing them over to the sofa that sat in front of the fireplace. She walked back to Jareth and held out her hand to help him up, then drew it back when Jareth's eyes got that same mischievous look as they did just minutes prior. "Don't even think about it Goblin King."

"But Sarah-" he practically purred her name.

"No."

She offered her hand again and Jareth took it. Once standing he slowly walked to the couch, still holding Sarah's hand, until he ran out of arm length and realized Sarah wasn't buying it. His shoulders slumped as he let go of her hand then continued to the couch by himself like a scolded child. He sat down on one side and folded his feet up under him, as he started to shiver. 

"Precious, stop being so stubborn and come here." He said between clattering teeth

Sarah rolled her eyes and grabbed one of the blankets, unfolding it and covering him. She grabbed a blanket for herself and sat next to him, not to close enough for him to try anything, but close enough that they shared a small amount of body heat.

"Ok, start talking."

Jareth sighed. "First I need you to promise me that you won't get angry with the truth, and that you will be equally honest with me."

"I promise."

"Good, now where to begin." Jareth tapped his chin. "Sarah, when you ran the labyrinth it decided it liked you. I decided I liked you. My type are fickle, and you've been the only one I've loved since I first saw you. Being the Goblin King comes at a price, one that I didn't know I was willing to take until you won my labyrinth. I can be Goblin King for eternity if I wished, but I must have an equal partner to get that power. After you came I refused to love anyone else, and therefore refused to marry-"

Sarah's mind whirred as Jareth spoke, she noted his declaration but put that in her back pocket for the moment, focusing more on the main issue at hand. "Jareth how could you! Why would you do that? Why? What is so wonderful about me that you would sacrifice your kingdom, its inhabitants, and yourself?  Why would you do that!?" Sarah was positively fuming now as she processed this. 

"I thought you promised that you wouldn't get mad!"

"I'm not mad!" They raised their voices at each other.

"Then what do you call.. this!" He said mocking her with flailing arms.

"Frustration!"

"Isn't that basically the same thing as say... MAD?"

Sarah glared at Jareth. "I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why you would do such a thing! And I feel like that's not the whole story anyways, because it just doesn't make sense."

"Because of you! Because you're worth it to me! Because I love you, Sarah Williams! I would rather die than love or marry anyone else!"

"Jareth you're being selfish."

"Am not!"

Sarah started to fall for the kindergarten level arguing style but played it calm. "You are, anyways please continue with the story."

"Fine, as I was saying, before you got all offended that I love you-"

"Just. Finish." Sarah cut Jareth off, no diversion tactics would work on her. 

Jareth grumbled something under his breath. "The reason I'm so weak is because I have been using the last of my strength for magic to keep my kingdom alive. And, I would do it all over again if I had to!" Jareth finished his speech pointedly.

"Jareth…"

He knew what was coming, he could see it a whole realm away.

"How was I ever supposed to love you? You were the villain. You were evil. You stole my baby brother. But I know now, you don't have to explain to me that I wished him away, that I wished for you to be the villain or anything else. I know what I did. I've grown up a lot since then and I understand what I did." Sarah sighed.

"But 8 years Sarah! You had all that time. 2,923 days, and not one time you thought of calling on me. Talking to me. You always asked your friends about me! Why couldn't you just talk to me yourself!"

"I said I'm sorry! When my memories consist of a prissy obsessive goblin king throwing a snake at my neck and drugging me with a peach would you expect me to fall in love with you? Honestly Jareth, think about it."

"You think I'm prissy and obsessive?"

Sarah gaped at him "That's what you're worried about? Seriously?" She shook her head then looked at him. "As a matter of fact, yes! You were, you still are obviously. Now back on topic."

"You wound me Sarah."

"Let me finish my bit before you throw us off topic again." Sarah took a deep breath "Jareth, I was afraid of what you would say, I was afraid of what you would do. It's not been easy, you know. If I could just pretend I never existed Above and come down here and live down here forever I would, but I have a job. I have a life of my own, on my own, that I made for myself. No one would probably care that I disappeared, but I don't think I can just up and leave."

Silence grew between them but it wasn't uncomfortable now. Jareth eventually sighed and started again "Fine. I admit I was a bit selfish, and over reactive."

"Oh really?" As soon as Sarah said it she thought she sounded like Karen.

Jareth was sunken down into the couch by this point. Even though he was feeling better he was still not anything close to healthy. Sarah took notice of this and looked at him. He sat there with his eyes closed and eyebrows furrowed. "Jareth, if that's the reason to why you’ve nearly finished off yourself and your kingdom then I'm… I'm not happy with you, very disappointed as a matter of fact. I admit though that we both could have gone about this all very differently, you’re lucky you have some loyal albeit disgruntled denizens residing in your kingdom who knew I could be the only one to deal with this.”

Jareth’s only response was a slight laugh that was barely audible. He leaned his head on a hand and looked at Sarah, who looked contemplative. Jareth started to lift a hand up to touch Sarahs shoulder but his arms felt like lead.

Sarah rolled her eyes, giving into the king’s pitiful state and scooted closer, fitting up against Jareth. He didn't expect her to do that, afraid to move now out of fear that it would scare her away. After several long seconds he put his arm around her, testing the boundaries he told himself; if it were anyone but his Sarah it would be shameful how he was acting like an inexperienced adolescent. Both of them looked in opposite directions, finding new things to look at in the room; Sarah was red from her ears to her neck, and if Jareth could blush through his sickly pallor he would be just as red.

After a few minutes Sarah took her turn, leaning her head against Jareth’s shoulder and sighing. “We can figure something out.” She mumbled, still unwilling to look at Jareth.

“No Sarah, if this is not something you want then I can not force it upon you. I won’t do that precious; though that is why we’re in that mess to begin with, isn’t it?” Jareth hummed to himself.

“I know. Despite how stupid you can be you do have a good heart. I think I could make a deal with you though if you’ll allow it, or if it’s allowed at all. I’m not sure how everything works between realms but if I could live Above still for the time being while also being… whatever it is I’ll be here, to you and to the labyrinth, then I would do it. Absolutely.”

Jareth wasn’t sure if Sarah wanted to do this or if she was just saying she would do this and sacrificing herself for the kingdom and her friends, not because she felt something for him but because she felt it was right and she was afraid to lose her friends. “Sarah, you must remember that words have power, I do hope you haven’t forgotten what you learned in your time here.”

"Jareth…” Sarah looked torn between scolding and endearing, thankfully for Jareth she went with the latter. “I know exactly what I said, had I known your feelings sooner these things could have been avoided. But what’s done is done, what’s said is said. I’ve loved you for a long time, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have asked my friends about you when they visited.” She sighed again, Jareth noted that she seemed to do a lot of that, especially when she had something to say or had finished something. Like the pressure leaving her chest after ridding it of something heavy.

Jareth started to speak but Sarah quickly hushed him and continued, “You have some right to be mad that I didn’t call on you myself, but not much. As I said before, and something you must understand; this is all very intimidating. I was scared, of the future for myself, of leaving everything I knew for so long behind, of you… You put up a very intimidating front when it is demanded that you do so.”

“It’s not a front! I am very intimidating, ask my subjects!" Jareth looked affronted.

“Oh, you’re just an old disgruntled owl with ruffled feathers. You get all puffed up and huffy, thinking you look scary, but really you look cute and a bit disturbed.” Sarah smiled up at Jareth, who looked back at her with a mock offended face.

“Kick a person while they’re down why don’t you!” Jareth tapped a finger on Sarah’s shoulder, then after a moment of quiet: “You think I’m cute?”

“Oh yes, you’re very cute.”

“Sarah,” Her name dripped from his tongue as he leaned forward, Sarah barely licked her lips thinking she knew where thing was going. “…I’m not cute.” Jareth tried to look intimidating and Sarah was almost okay when it didn’t become a kiss just looking at mock irritation.

Almost.

Sarah turned fully toward him, sliding a hand around the back of his neck and sliding fingers into his hair. “You are.” Sarah whispered before pressing her lips to his, effectively silencing his retort. He didn’t seem to mind though as he kissed back. Just one kiss, though Jareth tried to make more out of it Sarah pulled back and silenced his complaints with just a look. “You are many things, and cute is but one of them. I love all of it.”

“Sarah” Jareth was at a loss for words for once in his life. Instead he leaned back in and brushed Sarah’s lips so softly, full of love. “I will make whatever deal it is I need to make if I could have just a moment of your time here in the future. You’ll be my queen, precious?”

 

“I would be delighted, but before we talk any more about that you need rest. You have a kingdom that is coming back to life out there and you will need a bit of strength to deal with it. I won’t go anywhere.”

“I love you, Sarah.” Jareth situated himself on the couch to be more comfortable as sleep tugged at his eyelids. He felt Sarah slip her hand around his rather cold one and lift it to her lips.

“I love you too, Goblin King.” Sarah whispered. She glanced out the balcony arch to see the kingdom spread out below already mending itself before peacefully drifting off to sleep herself.