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Sabaism

Chapter Text

 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door

 

 image

Chapter One: Open here I flung the shutter

The wind picked up increasingly and you forcefully close your bedroom window.

Fuck, it was freezing in here. 

You shiver and pull the quilt blanket further around your shoulders, flopping back on your bed. You dreamily resume watching the action at the window, fighting off the strong urge to sleep. 

You watch mesmerised at the trees fighting for dominance in the wind. Even for the typical unpleasant British weather, tonight was unlike anything you’d ever seen. In some ways it thrilled you.

You doubted you could sleep with the underlying rumble of thunder.

Lying on your stomach, you close the sketch pad.  You were supposed to write an essay tonight- due tomorrow- but creativity got the better of you.  Instead, you’d drawn a few birds that you spotted earlier in the trees before the storm came.

Sharp tap, tap, taps at the window startle you in your sleepy state. You jump, making that the cluster of pencils on the bed bounce and clatter to the wooden floor.

must be hailing now

“Shit” you mumble with a sigh.

You duck under the bed to pick up the pencil that had rolled underneath, your hand scraping around in the darkness, the single candle was proving useless. Even if storms of this kind were rare and fascinating, they were causing havoc with the electrics. One dismal candle was all you had.

Tap.

Tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap.

You recovered the pencils one by one, hurrying quickly to watch the flurry of hailstones at the window but you couldn’t see any. Out of the corner of your eye, you noticed something dark and small hovering at the window- you couldn’t make it out properly in the little light.

Curiously, you opened the window a splinter to see it better, though it was probably next door’s cat.

A sharp cool air blew into the already chilly room.

You still couldn’t see what it was making the noise but whatever it was sounded very persistent- like it wanted to come in.

It ‘tapped’ now. You were right in front of it.

You open the window a little wider when the wind suddenly caught it, throwing it open dramatically.

You shield your face with you crossed arms at the wind that was let it into the small room, wrestling with your curtains, blowing them streaming.

The wind seemed to die down a little and you looked to the window blinking.

You didn’t expect to see a black bird lying on your window ledge, soaking from the downpour.

You leant over it cautiously, as if your eyes deceived you.

 A bird?

Had it been so desperate to shelter itself from the weather that it sought your cosy bedroom? Not much warmer in here, though.

Its’ chest heaved up and down heavily.

Towering over it, you noticed it was a sort of crow, but larger, a raven? You gasped. What was a raven doing here?

 It had stilled considerably, and you really, really hoped it hadn’t died or something. Oh god.

You hurriedly closed the window, stilling the setting once more. The candle’s flame had been expelled in the conflict of the wind.

The raven appeared to be alive after a closer look. You scoop it up in your cold hands concerned even so.

You turn the poor thing over gently, you guess it must be hurt pretty bad since it didn’t bother to squawk or grabble in your careful hand.

The bird had gone limp.

Sucking in your breath, you inspect it as best you could in the little light you had from the moon glow pouring through your window.

The poor bird didn’t look badly beaten but it looked drained. You couldn’t leave it so dishevelled to fend for itself -especially on a night like this.  You hesitated. Could you seriously care this bird?

It was too late to take it to a vet now. Maybe tomorrow you could take it after classes.

You didn’t know where to begin.

With a hand towel you find in your drawers, you start by drying it this way and that, warming it gently in the process. “Come on, bud” you muttered flicking your hair out of your eyes.

Did it need food? What do they eat? Your mind quizzed. How would you know?

Sure, you had stuff in the kitchen but for a bird…?

You thought for a second folding your arms and looking down at the poor thing looking for the answer.

You had some seeds and berry mix left in your rucksack from lunch today... it could make do for now. It was still a bird right? So it must like seeds.

A nest? They must have nests surely.

The bird thankfully looked a little more lively now though it still remained silent.

You pulled your various knitted scarves from the drawer, arranging them on your desk so they made a thick circular nest shape.

You scooped up the now-dry bird once again.

 It obviously disliked the manhandling by the way it tried to wrestle with you, it opened and closed its mouth rapidly in protest, but no sound came out.

 

“Calm down- it’s just for a second!” you told it placing it in the centre of the makeshift nest.  

 

It sat inside, gazing up at you almost condescendingly with those black beady eyes.

“Would you rather be out there?” you challenged the bird, gesturing to the raging storm outside.

As if on cue, a tree branch smacked the window harshly almost to the beat of the additional thunder and splutter of rain. The raven said nothing -of course it said nothing you idiot- but you imagined it made the bird version of pressing its mouth in a straight line.

‘That’s what I thought’.

“Well this is as good as it gets... Back in a sec” you hold up your finger to the raven moving to your bedroom door. “Don’t move”.

You pause to shake your head at yourself. Talking to a bird. Madness.

Was this really happening? Sure, you threw seeds to the odd magpie or got close enough to snap pictures of robins but nothing like this.

You softly tread down the stairs, careful not to disturb anyone in the room across the way from you, nipping to the kitchen to fetch a dish for the seed mix. In the darkness you feel around the shape of the fridge and washing machine to the cupboards. You gingerly open one and a rogue saucepan unexpectedly tumbles out before you can catch it.

Crashhh

You cringe at the sound internally praying you hadn’t caused your aunt or uncle to stir and wake. The last thing you need is another lecture.

You stay, crouching in the darkness, clutching the saucepan to your pounding heart. A minute ticked by and you decide it’s safe to move. You curse the saucepan as you put it back, making sure it wouldn’t do anymore cartwheels.

You rattle around in the dark, tucking your hair back from your face until your hands slid over the dish you want.

On the balls of your feet you hurry back to the room, dodging the squeaky floorboards.

You gently close your door behind you “sorry about that” you whispered in the darkness.

You felt around for your rucksack that lay discarded by your bed. You pluck the berry mix from your rucksack. You climb on your bed, dipping at your weight and squeaking at your every movement- the bloody old thing.

You sit cross legged pouring some of the contents in the dish with a few shakes, hoping you hadn’t accidently spilt some, Kari would go spare complaining about attracting mice.  

“Here you go” you set the dish down.

 The raven made a curious movement of acknowledgement tilting its head seemingly watching you pour the mix in anticipation.

You finished, pushing it towards the raven encouragingly. “This isn’t the Ritz you know. No worms here”.

The bird didn’t react, so you let it be, when it wants to eat it’ll eat.

You tuck the berry mix into your rucksack ready for tomorrow.  

Ugh tomorrow!

You look at the clock on the wall and run a hand over your face. It was tomorrow. How can face getting up now? You were going to sleep-walk through classes.

You dare a finger near the raven to see if it would let you pet it.

Surprisingly, it bends its head to let you stroke it softly. The bird still feels icy to the touch, that wasn’t good.

You gather it in the scarf nest and sit on your bed with the bundle cradled in your lap. You use the palm of your hand to warm it gently again. The wind died away outside, there was no longer thunder.

The bird began to settle down in your hold whilst you worked on it. It nuzzled your palm and you let out a relieved sigh now that it was warmer.

Well this was a weird turn of events.

You shift the bundle on your bedside table making sure to plump the wool around the raven to keep out the cold.

You strip to your underwear swiftly, turning briefly to the raven over your shoulder, it had slumped in the nest, but you could feel its beady eyes burning into your back in the darkness.

 “naughty bird” you murmured, hopping into your nightdress before slipping into bed, the old thing creaked under your weight.

You yawn “goodnight bird, whoever you are” and turned over, thankful for sleep at last. You succumb almost immediately.

The bird said nothing.                                                                            

                                                                                                                    _*_

In your dream, you were in an ice-white room, in front of you, you saw a tall man with a long blue coat and blonde hair, but when you said “excuse me” and he turned, you woke up at that moment during the night, forgetting about it in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

            With such name as “Nevermore”.

 image

Chapter Two:

The sun on your face wakes you groggily, by some miracle you didn’t oversleep.

You roll over in your bed, sleepy eyes landing on the bird staring at you from its nest.

“Good morning, bird” you say through a yawn, hand under your head. 

At your vanity table, you kiss the noir Polaroid of your parents stuck to your mirror, the last one taken a few weeks before they died in a fatal car crash. You’ve lived with your only remaining family- your mother’s sister and her husband- since then. Living in the little room in the large house, in a dreary town.

It’s not that you didn’t get along with your aunt and uncle exactly, it’s just they never seemed to have time for you. You didn’t care so much now, you’d grown used to the deflecting affection. Brian and Kari weren’t terrible people, they just didn’t want kids- it wasn’t their fault they got you, but it wasn’t yours either.

You lived together and that’s as far as your relationship went. They weren’t your parents, nobody could replace them.

You planned to move out later this year after your birthday. You could access the savings your parents left you then. Where to you didn’t know. You probably wouldn’t go to university. Your family wouldn’t be much support anyway.

Dressing, you noticed smugly that the berries and seeds in the dish were gone. Not even crumbs were left.

It was still chilly outside after last night, so you don’t think twice about pulling on your thick scarf with your brown leather jacket.

You look over yourself in the mirror satisfied. You loved this jacket with all your heart, it had belonged to your father and still smelt of him even after all these years. 

You re-fill the empty dish again with the seed mix and open the window enough to let air in but not enough for the raven to wander out.

On your way out of the room, you linger at your bedroom door hesitantly, looking at the raven sitting by your bed. Wondering where you’re going.

“Be back around 3, okay” You promise, slinging your rucksack on your back. You feel a little guilty that you were leaving it trapped in your little cell of a room.

You remind yourself that no matter what you can’t let it loose in the house, if either Kari or Brian see the bird -they’d make it leave. It was in no state to fend for itself.

You pull the door closed softly and, noticing the grandfather clock in the hallway, speed down the stairs, nearly missing your footing.

 In your rush to put your keys in your bag, you drop your Walkman -which you don’t have time to inspect- bounding  out the door.

                                                                                                                             _*_

Your predictions were right, you sleepwalk through the day.

You spend most of it in the library, scribbling down the essay that was due this morning but you were given an extension until tomorrow. Thank god.

The sun stayed rooted in the sky but the air was still frosty.

You couldn’t get the raven out of your mind.

You wish you had just feigned illness and stayed home. All day the bird harassed your thoughts- you just prayed Kari wouldn’t go into your room if she arrived home before you. God what a conversation that would be.

Next door’s cat was notorious for getting into the neighbourhood homes. You hoped the cat wouldn’t be able to squeeze through the gap in the window. The bird wouldn’t stand a chance.

You feel better when you start walking home, your headphones’ flimsy material keeps your ears fairly warm. You were pretty sure your Walkman had busted earlier – the tapes were all chewed up. Your birthday was coming up, you’d just have to wait it out.

You arrive home earlier than usual. You pocket the Walkman as you walk up to the path leading to the house.

You turn the key in the door, pushing it open straining your ears for the sound of shrill shrieking. Nothing.

“Hello?” You call out.

You notice Kari’s bag and keys were on the table in the living room and your stomach sinks.

You race upstairs forgetting the ‘no-shoes-in-the-house’ rule.

 “Hello!” you call again huffing under the weight of your rucksack.

Your bedroom door was ajar. You burst in making Kari start.

 It was obvious she had been snooping through your things again.

She clearly didn’t trust you, nor will she ever.

Her faux blonde hair ringlets shake as one when she twists her head.

“No need to shout” she places her hands on her hips to gloss over the fact that she’d just been caught red handed prying. “And what’s this again, dirty dishes left here, Sloane; how many times!”.

On the other hand, you felt relieved that she hadn’t taken a blind bit of notice of the raven. Your eyes skirt around her to look at the where your scarves had been, but they had vanished too, along with the bird.

Had it found some way to escape? Surely it couldn’t carry the scarves.  You notice she’d closed the window. So maybe it hadn’t after all? Next door’s cat clearly didn’t get to it -where was it?

“Are you listening!” she broke off your thoughts “And I had to put your clothes back in your draws again, you’re 17 years old and I’m still putting your clothes away!”

So that solves the scarf mystery.

 You just smile tightly at her “won’t happen again”.

Putting my clothes away my arse.

She pushes this morning’s discarded cereal bowl into your hands. “You can start apologising when you wash this and the rest up downstairs”.

Kari made her way to the door hair bouncing in time with her step.  

You stood in the centre of your room, trying to look not at all worried if the raven might suddenly spring out on her.

“Sure”

You closed the door behind her with a sigh of relief.

In a low whisper, “Hello?” scanning the room for any movement

 You ducked your head to see if it had hopped under your bed and rested there, but then you reminded yourself you were whispering to a bird and straightened yourself up.

 Your eyes immediately fell on your beside table where it sat blinking at you. You grinned back, glad it stuck around.

You were sure it hadn’t been there in plain sight a moment ago. Had it been hiding?

“Clever bird!” you cheered.

You use your index finger to feel the silky feathers. In the daylight you can see the layers of black, inky blue and a hint of purple.

It was quite unsettling that it didn’t caw- or whatever ravens did- once. Maybe it couldn’t for some reason. At least it wouldn’t be at risk giving itself away.

 “I had classes today” you tell it lazily looking out the window. “That’s why I had to go. I’ll be finished soon though”.

What were you going to do during the break? They’d push you into getting a tidy job so you wouldn’t hang around the house. Or at least Brian would- Kari would make you do housework, even if she clearly didn’t trust you home alone. You sighed.

“My name is Sloane- Sloane Hazel -in case you were wondering” you comically hold out your hand as if to shake with the raven.

 The bird blinks at you cocking its head. “It was my parents’ name. I guess I should probably call you something over than ‘bird’ ”.

You sit at your vanity desk. You quickly straightened the bottles of perfume and make- up bits and pieces.

You begin to wipe off your eyeliner in the mirror, looking between you and the bird.

“That woman you just saw snooping around was my aunt. My uncle isn’t home yet. My parents are dead -so I live here. With them”.

The daylight melted away at the overcast sky, it had started to drizzle softly, the kind of rain that made your hair frizzy.

You pause the wiping to pluck the polaroid of your parents “that’s them” you swivel in the chair to show it to the bird. “It’s okay, I got eight golden years with them, that’s more than some”.

You pull out your wooden draws with a thunk and retrieve the scarves, rearranging them again to make a nest. The raven hopped inside, obviously glad to be warm at last in this dismal cold room it had been subjected to.


“my dad was an actor like my mum. I preform in plays sometimes -maybe I’ll follow in their footsteps, I haven’t decided yet-” You showed the bird your prize camera, remembering the film was nearly all used up “I’m okay at drawing, so I could do graphics or something but photography is my real passion-”.  

You babble on, unable to stop yourself. The raven nestled in the wool- probably asleep. You fill it in on useless details about yourself, as if it would understand anyway. You told it about your friends, the stuff you got up, to what your college was like, the places you wanted to travel, the books you’d read. 

You crouch one hand resting on your thigh, in front of the bird who had its eyes closed. Rude bird.

You softened your voice.

 “I’m going to call you, Never. Like ‘Nevermore’, right?”

You suddenly burst out with a bubble of laughter at the daft situation and rattled the bird to opening its eyes.

 “Not that I’d expect you to understand, but it’s from a poem this guy wrote about a bird like you. He was a bit mad, but then maybe I am too talking to you”

You repeat the word under your breath, glancing at the bird who gave you the impression it was bored.

“Never” you murmur over and over.

Maybe not.

 “Nevermore... Ooh what about More, like as in ‘Moore’, that’s a real name at least. It kind of suits you”.

It didn’t protest. “Moore it is”.

“Sloane! Why can I still see dishes?” Kari called from the bottom of the stairs. “what did I say about shoes in the house!” she sounded irritated.

 You roll your eyes.

_____*_____

“Hey, Moore, look what I found!” You called out to the raven, who was probably either sleeping or peering out by the window. It often did that nowadays.

The bird seemed to be improving but you couldn’t tell medically, it just seemed- Chirpier? You smiled at your own wit. A true comical genius.

You place your rucksack down with a thud. You’d found some real bird food at the pet store. They’d given you a funny look when you asked theoretically what a raven would eat but they told you anyway.

You pull out the shopping bag you’d hidden inside your rucksack.

The bird was nowhere to be seen. You remember the open window- to give the raven a bit of freedom- and your heart sank. Would it leave already?

Caaar’ Came the sound of a squawk behind you. You jump, nearly stepping on the bird.

Your eyes light up “did you just make a noise?!” this was good sign that it will healing.

You closed the window again, not wanting to draw the attention of any cats that might be around.

 “Where did you come from anyway?” .

You hold out your arm for it to hope on, since it was apparent that flying was still proving difficult. Moore obliged and when you drew yourself back up you noticed it had something wide and shiny in its beak.

“What’s this? Can I see?” You tested your fingertips near its beak to hold the shiny thing for closer inspection. It dropped it in your palm.

In your hand, you it was a silver bangle with a large glittery blue stone with gold specks in the heart of it. It looked incredibly expensive. It felt weighty. How on earth had the raven managed to carry this!

“Wow, did you rob a jeweller or something?” you turned the item over in your hands and hold it this way and that in the light.

“Here” you placed it in the scarf nest. You never thought ravens would be attracted to shiny objects like magpies were. Learn something new every-day.

 It made an effort to shove the item out of the nest- to get comfortable? You put in by the nest again where it pushed the bangle away with its beak. You tried again, not understanding what it was doing. They wanted the treasures by them didn’t they?

You stood in front of Moore puzzled. The bird pushed it in your direction, scraping the bangle across the wood, and when you moved to stand at the other end of the desk, it pushed it towards you again. “Wait” you said, realisation dawning on you.

 “Is this, for me?” you said in an awed whisper slowly picking up the weighty piece. No way. The bird didn’t squawk or try to snatch it back so you assumed you were right.

“thank you! This is so cool! I should have started saving birds earlier” you joked slipping on the beautiful piece admiringly. It fitted well on your wrist. The blue in the stone looked to be a black opal of some kind. You wondered if the bangle itself was real silver. You felt a little guilty for the person who had obviously lost this stunning piece.

You cradle the bird “I love it” you say to Moore, feeling along its’ soft wings with the tips of your fingers.

Kari shouts you for dinner.

“Be back soon” You wave at Moore. “Oh wait!”

 You forgot the bangle and slipped it off stuffing under your mattress. They’d get suspicious if they saw something as grand as that on your wrist.

“Bye!” you called over your shoulder.

Kari held out the plates for you to place on the table “Who were you talking to just then?” she said eyes narrowed.

Great.

She probably thought you had a secret boyfriend or something. Now she’d definitely snoop through your things, why did she have to be so paranoid.

 You mentally reminded yourself to take extra care in hiding your stuff. The bangle for one.

“I was rehearsing lines for a new play” you shrugged, accepting the plate.

It wasn’t entirely a lie, the large theatre in town hosted an annual Christmas production, each year they chose a fairy-tale. You’d decided to go for it this year. You’d auditioned for the role of ‘Cinderella’- and got it.

“You can come along when its out, if you want” you looked between them, “both of you” you weren’t expecting her to say ‘yes’ but you felt a little pang in your stomach when she looked uncomfortable.

 “We’ll…see if we can get the time off” she said uneasily.

So that was a ‘no’ then, not that it mattered. They could never seem to “get the time off”. She could at least lie better. 

You switched to thinking how proud your parents would be if they knew you’d got the leading role and you felt partly better.

You placed Brian’s plate carefully in front of him indicating it was ready to which he replied with a stern wave of dismissal since he was on the phone.You took your own seat.  Kari informed you that you were running low on bread and juice and that you’d have to go to the corner store before it closed.

“My feet are killing me. I’ve bee-“

You drown her out, sighing internally, prodding the food with your fork, drawing back into reality away from your fantasies.

                                                                                                                   _*_

It happened so often you were running out of places to hide them.

You had more rings, earrings, bracelets and bangles of all materials than the Queen of England herself you were sure. The bird never ceased to amaze you.

You wore each piece bit by bit so nobody would suspect.

You tried not to think about where the bird was finding such pieces, the poor devastated people that would miss them.

“I love it all,” you confirmed to the bird with a grateful smile, tucking away today’s topaz necklace in your bag.

“But would you mind if I kept my earrings in? They were the last birthday gift from my parents. I never remove them” you smiled sadly. You ruffled Moore’s head much to its irritation, “maybe you can snatch me a Walkman for my birthday instead”.

You hid it all in your schoolbag so that Kari wouldn’t find it when you were away from the house. The holidays were fast approaching.

You had caught a glimpse of Moore flying last night. It had already been here too long you couldn’t make it stay much longer. You bit your lip uneasily, observing the bird hop experimentally from your furniture pieces in your room.

                                                                                                                    _*_

“We’re having Chinese in town” Kari announced suddenly.

You were leaning against the kitchen counter.

“Oh nice” you smiled at the unexpected plans, ignoring the pile of dishes that glared at you from the sink. Still, at last you were going out with your aunt and uncle.

See? They’re trying. Your head said.

You looked down, pulling at your casual clothing.

 “Which restaurant?” maybe a dressy night was what you needed.

Nothing too over the top, a nice dress , hair up, could you get away with wearing the necklace Moore had brought you?

Kari tensed up not looking you in the eye.

“Actually, Sloane, I was wondering if you would stay home this time, you know I don’t like the house left empty…Brian and I haven’t had much time together recently. He’s been very stressed at work”

She turned her back on you to busy herself making some obnoxious soup she’d found in a cookbook and you said nothing.

‘This time’? What did she mean, you never when out together.

The rotten woman! ‘Leave the house empty’? what in the hell kind of excuse was that? It was all rubbish just to make sure they could have another evening without you.

You want to stamp your foot at that exact moment.  

You muster up the courage not to tell her to get fucked and that Chinese food made you nauseous anyway not that she’d know because she never asks. They never ask.

You look at Brian for help, but he was watching TV, not that he would ever defend you over his wife of course.

 “Fine” you clomp up the stairs.

“Don’t stomp. The neighbours!” she half- yelled from below.

You close the door firmly behind you.

You threw yourself on the bed, startling Moore. The bird fluttered over to perch in front of you on the bed.

 You laid on your front “It’s not fair” you complained to the raven “It’s like they don’t even want to be seen with me! Imagine! Their own niece!”.

The bird cocked its head and bent its head down for you to stroke absentmindedly. It was like it understood what you were saying, or at least what you were feeling.

The softness of the feathers calmed your bubbling anger immediately. You rested your head on the bed, level with the bird.

You lowered your tone.

“Sometimes I think it’s easier to talk to you than to some of the people I know. Like you’re my oldest friend or something. Funny, huh?”

You turn your head sideways so you can stare out the window.

“You’re lucky though, you have wings, when you’re better you can go anywhere. Where am I going? I’m going to be stuck forever. In this dismal town…” you trail off with a tear pricking in your eye at the reality of it all.

 It was true. People rarely left the town,  people married their high school sweethearts and settled down, everyone knew everyone etc. It was an awful fate- one you would do anything to escape.

You play with the bangle Moore had brought you, reminding yourself how pretty it was. You felt sorry for the poor person that lost it.

“Sometimes I wish somebody would take me away” you flickered your gaze to look directly into the bird’s eyes “know what I mean?”.

__*___
You were barely listening to Kari listing all the things she expected done when they arrived home “sometime before eleven”.

“No mess, young lady” she warned. Who does she think she is? You bit your tongue.

You watched them leave and the door swing closed firmly behind them.

Head resting on your hand, you listened to the sound of the car pulling away and driving up the street. Enjoy the food.

You felt exhausted from today, you hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

Instead on starting on the chores you were supposed to do, you wearily climbed the stairs to your room where you flopped on your bed, grateful to shut your eyes. You lulled into sleep ebbing away from reality.

When you opened your eyes groggily, the taste of a dream you had were still imprinted on your mind. That dream. But you couldn’t remember it properly. Only fragments. None of it made sense to you. A blue coat, a mask and laughter. Lots of laughter. Everything was white.  

You shifted to lie on your side rather than flat on your back as you had been.

Your foot nudged against something rectangular.

You sat up flicking on the bedside lamp to see what it was. You shielded your eyes from the brightness of the lamp.

A book?

You pick it up, red and thin with only a title on it that you struggled to read in the cursive writing. Labyrinth.

“Labyrinth?” You murmur turning it over in your hands.

No author or blurb, you were sure this wasn’t yours.

You opened it, flicking through the pages, some had illustrations, you skimmed it lazily in your sleepy state, not reading it properly.

“Was this you again?” you hold up the book to Moore who was standing upright completely, no longer shifting its weight from claw to claw.

“First my taste in jewellery is bad but now you want to impose on my literature?” you said in mock-annoyance.

It was always a mystery how the bird managed to get these items to and from the house. It had grown back its strength sure but to carry items like these were impressive.

“I guess you’re a book thief now too, huh”

You stared at it . It felt incredibly alluring like a magnet pulling you in. The gold lettering glimmered in the lamp light. Labyrinth. The word swept away everything else you had clogging up your mind. All that mattered was this book and reading this book and-

Another yawn hit you like a wave. You couldn’t possibly read any now.

You put the curious book in your nightstand drawer and flick off the light again.

“Thanks, Moore” you mumbled putting your head in the pillow.

Chapter Text

 

The next few days flew past. You adjusted to life with the raven, between school and rehearsals, you always looked forward to coming home to it.

You opened your eyes lazily in the sunlight. That dream always left you feeling the same way, wanting. Wanting for it to be real so, so bad. You let the fragmented memories wash over you for a while. How many days had you had that exact dream now? And more importantly, why?

It always left you with a sense of a protecting presence. That was a nice feeling.

It was the dream, that irregular dream you couldn’t place. It had come to you again. It was beautiful, but some part of you felt so unnerved by it. You remembered more now than usual, but it was starting to slip away from you the more you thought about it.

Moore had vanished again, but you didn’t worry you knew it would be back. Looks like you’d have to buy more bird mix.

In class you couldn’t concentrate on the work in front of you, your mind kept wandering. Wandering to fragments…

You closed your eyes briefly and memories flashed in your mind

His hold on your waist, the way you were whirled, your laughter, something he whispered in your ear.

A mixture of the dream from last night and the raven swirled around your head.

The raven.

It was like something out of a fairy tale the way it had entered your little lonely world.

You kept pushing yourself to remember at the end of the day it was just a bird, a creature that deserved to be free.

It would be sad to see it go. You felt stupidly, that you’d almost made a connection. Like it seriously understood you sometimes, when prattled on about your day, when you ranted about Kari and Brian (mostly Kari) to the whispers of the first thing you would do when you left them to make your own way in the world in the middle of the night.

Your mind condescended itself. How childish could you be?

“Get a hold of yourself” you put your head in your hands before picking up your pen.

___

“Hello? Ground control to Sloane” Janice, or ‘Jan’ as everyone nicknamed her, waved a hand in front of your dazed face. She poked her tongue out at you, biting into her sandwich.

You were sitting outside today, on campus, at the picnic table by the library, finally it was hot and sunny again, so you decided to take advantage of your break.

You had your head propped up by your hand lazily.

“Sorry, I did it again, didn’t I?” You smiled sheepishly at your friend who grinned in return before taking a sip of her drink.

“you’re always day- dreaming, I wonder what about” you knew from her sing-song vice what she was getting at and you rolled your eyes.

 Jan was lucky.

She had people around her constantly, she had boys around her constantly, not that you didn’t, you just sucked at conversation- she was good with people, you just weren’t.  She’d tried and failed setting you up, she wanted you to join in for once and find someone. Ugh. You knew she was doing it from the good of her heart but sometimes you’d wished she’d just drop it. You weren’t made for people. That’s all.

She ran a hand through her freshly permed hair.

You shrug “I’m just tired, I haven’t been sleeping well” you felt a bit bad you hadn’t told Jan about the raven, she was your best-friend no matter what, but she would probably call you crazy. Anyone in their right mind would call you crazy. 

“You’re always tired” Jan pointed out giving you a nudge.

True, you’d been using that excuse a lot lately, but it wasn’t a complete lie. You’d taken to talking to Moore well into the night, sometimes until 2 in the morning. Some nights you felt bluer than others you’d say the things you couldn’t say to anyone else.

 “They’ve never welcomed me really” you said that night lying on your back playing with your hair. “It’s stupid I know,” you mulled over the thoughts “ I’m older now, it’s not like I need paternal attention…or guidance…but sometimes it would be nice to have a real mum again but all they do is push me away, sometimes I just feel…worthless. Like I mean nothing”

Sometimes it was nice to have someone to talk to about all sorts of meaningless rubbish, especially if they couldn’t answer back.

“So, did you write the notes for today?” you switched the subject taking a bite into your croissant.

Jan clapped her forehead stopping her chewing “oh shit, what notes”.

She ducked her head, looking at you for help under her dark lashes. Janice was just as useless with homework as you were.

 “Guilt tripping me to share my homework that’s new” you chided and you both laughed.

“Life saver” Jan leant in for a quick hug.

You rolled your eyes and ducked your head under the table to find the essay in your bag.

 “what would I do-” She cut off talking suddenly.

You noticed her pause and came up again, flicking your hair out of your face “what?”  

There was a frightened look on Jan’s face. She was looking past your shoulder.

“There’s a man! A man staring at us!” she hissed, indicating directly behind you.  You turned sharply, hair whipping behind you, following her finger.

There was no-one.

“What are you talking about?” You turned back to her with a smile and bobbed eyebrow “I don’t see anyone”.

“I swear there was a creepy guy stand like five meters away from us!” Jan’s eyes widened. 

You pointed out that there were loads on guys on campus. It could have been anyone on their break.


“He looked too old to be a student” she shivered.

The warm air seemed to chill all of a sudden. There was a strong gust of wind that made you pull your jacket around you tighter.

You tried to relax her, Jan was known for being paranoid with things like this. “Well, a teacher then, what did he look like?”

“I don’t know, really tall, blond hair, dark clothes” you wrinkled your nose. You didn’t understand why she was so unnerved when he sounded so usual.

Jan jumped at the sound of a bird flapping its wings. You looked up to see the dark bird flutter out of a nearby tree and away.

 
You were about to say ‘that could be anybody Jan’ when she said something that made a shiver run down your spine:

“Sloane, he was staring right at you

 

                                                                                                  _*_

You played it off as a trick of the mind, she’d seen somebody passing by that happened to look over that was all.

 She hadn’t eaten either which would explain her irrationality.  Hunger could make you do funny things.

When break was over, she insisted you walk with her and other friends to class “just in case”. You’d never seen her so ruffled before. You didn’t bother dwelling on it for the rest of the day.

The walk home was lonely and miserable without being able to listen to music. It had started to spit again. Looks like you were in for a damp summer this year.

You felt a warm tingling sensation pass momentarily over you. Weird.

Across the street you noticed a two people, a man and a woman, you couldn’t see what they looked like properly but they were sprinting oddly down the street, holding hands. Huh. What was with everyone today.

When you got to the front door you groaned, remembering it was Brian and Kari’s anniversary tonight. Something you were exclusively excluded from. Again. But you were grateful for a whole evening of peace. Thankfully, they’d be gone all evening. You didn’t have any work to do so you could relax for once.

You turn the key in the door. You’d barely made it in five paces when Brian entered the living room struggling with his tie “you’re late!”.

Late? How could you be late? Surely, they weren’t going out already, at half past three?

You looked at him confused “I don’t-”


“Just tell your aunt you’re home” he grumbled patiently still struggling with the tie.

Kari was already dressed and looked as if she was ready to leave. She was pacing the kitchen up and down when you entered- still puzzled.

“Kari I-”

 “There you are!” she sighed heavily seeing you walk in, clearly irritated “where have you been- we’ve been waiting on you for hours!”

Hours? What?

 “But I just left college half an hour ago!” you argued. What was with them tonight?

“Don’t lie to me, Sloane, you’ve clearly been with your friends on the one night we specifically ask you to be home on time!”

“I’m always home on time” you threw up your hands. What the fuck?

 How could you possibly be late? You noticed the grandfather clock in the hall chiming. You paced over to it to prove your point.

“Eight o’clock!” you cried in disbelief “it can’t be eight o’clock!”


Kari put her hands on her hips dismissively.

“You know very well what time it is, young lady, don’t play the fool with me- have you been drinking?”

You were dazed and confused. Where had five whole hours gone?

You felt your head, you had come over very faint.

“actually, I just- I don’t feel well” you breathed feeling as if the wind had been knocked out of you. You leant against the kitchen top for support.  

“17 years old and wasted after school” Kari mumbled, fussing over her hair on the mirror above the wine rack. “And don’t think you can wriggle out of the chores tonight to nurse a hangover either! You;ll have to cook for yourself tonight, no take-aways”

You were barely listening “I won’t forget” you said meekly still trying to figure out the supposed time loss.

Nursing- whatever this was- was exactly what you felt like doing. Your head was swimming you wanted to drown out her high voice.

She half- heartedly listed the things that needed to be done, the food available in the fridge.

“-and I’ve asked Mrs. White next door to look out for you tonight so no funny business, parties-”

Seriously? Old Mrs. White, what were you 8?


“I’m not a child, Kari” you said through clenched teeth.

“Don’t use that tone with me madam” she raised her eyebrows . “You’ve pushed my buttons enough tonight” she picked up her handbag and frowned at you “maybe we need a talk when we get back, about growing up for one” .

Growing up? You couldn’t believe the nerve of her.

Brian looked itching to get away and eventually practically pulled Kari out the door, not after warning you away from using the tv or anything electrical. “I’ve counted it all” he said sternly. Brian didn’t trusted you either.

“Bye then” you said softly watching them leave through the window, laughing at something probably dull.

You observed the car pull away and down the street for the second time this week.

You were left to your own devices. Again.

You whipped the curtains together to stop that nosey cow from next door peering in.

With a huff, you sat on the loveseat with your feet tucked under you for a few minutes in the glow of the soft living room lamp. You wondered idly if all parents were like Kari and Brian.

Five hours? Sure, you stopped to tie your shoelace one or twice but five whole hours. You shook your head.

 Even for a summer evening it was pitch black outside. You were certain it was bright even in the rain when you walked home. What the hell?

You ignored the list of chores Kari had set out for you to do, if she was going to treat you like a child, then a child you shall be, children didn’t do laundry “they watch TV and break rules” you said aloud finishing your own thoughts.

You decided to check on Moore first, who you’d completely forgotten about. Then TV. Maybe ice-cream if there was any. You didn’t fancy reheating a soup dish from previous nights.

On your way up the stairs you shook your head at the grandfather clock.

“Hi, I’m back” you peered into your room and watched where you put your foot in case you stepped on the bird. You turned the lamp on checking your room.

 “Moore? You can come downstairs now if you like, only for a couple of hours though”

You peeked in the scarf nest “hellooo?”.  Empty. Unsual.

The bird had probably left and hadn’t come back yet, it never normally stayed out at night for very long.

“Oh well, just me then” you said to nobody in particular. You weren’t in a talking mood anyway . TV didn’t feel that promising now.

You rested on your bed. Now that you had free time you didn’t know what to do with it.

You could do some sketching maybe. Where did you put your pencils last?

You hunted around your room for the usual places, in your pencil pot, on the shelves. Ah! You remembered! You yanked your beside table draw open to triumphantly find your sketching pencils- and a little red book.

The book the bird brought me.

All ideas of sketching vanished from your mind. You brushed the pencils aside in your drawer and picked the book up. You stared at it in your hands. There was a sudden desire to read it. It was only thin copy, right? You might as well try it out. You had time to kill.

 You shut the drawer forgetting about the pencils and propped your head on a pillow, lying on your front. You opened the first page and began reading intently.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl whose wicked step-mother treated her cruelly and kept her hidden away at home to clean the house,”

‘That rings a bell’, you thought with a smirk

The young girl was practically her slave. But what no-one knew was that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers

You raised your eyebrows.

 You ran your finger under the lines, muttering along the words on the pages aloud

“So one night when her stepmother had been particularly cruel to her, and the girl could stand her life no more, she called on the goblins for help: ‘say your right words and we will take you to the goblin city – and you will be free’ they said to her. So, on that very midnight, the girl cried through tears “I wish the goblins would come and take me away- right now”

A clap of thunder outside interrupted your murmuring but you shook your head pushing on .

This was getting strange and disturbing what kind of fairy-tale is this? Not for children surely.

When the first chapter was through you settled more comfortably on your bed against the headboard, you read on in your head.

                                                                                                                -*-

You read the whole thing from cover to cover before ten o’clock. There was a persistent need to finish this book. You didn’t even realise you were reading at one point, you were so into it as if you were watching the scenes unfold from afar.

When you’d finished you sat thoughtfully for a while. What kind of twisted tale was that? What an emotional roller coaster that was to get through!

 Yet, it all sounded so familiar, like it reminded you of something. You couldn’t think what though. You touched the bangle on your wrist instinctively.

Still, it was a good read. You’d have to tell the bird.

But the bird still wasn’t back.

You yawned widely. Maybe sleep was better than forcing yourself awake.

Turning the lamp off you left the book lying by you on the bed. It was freezing up here now, so you decide to sleep in your jeans, shirt and even your jacket, blanket over you. You didn’t even bother removing your trainers.

It didn’t take long for you to fall asleep, hugging the pillows to your chest.

                                                                                                          _*_

Here you are” the voice by your ear made you jump.

You turned “it’s you!” you immediately fell against him, hugging him.

“Well, well looks like somebody missed me” he smirked placing a cool gloved hand on the crown of your head which slipped to lightly grasp your shoulder. For some reason you could never think of the words to say to him. The right words.

You never questioned what this significant scene meant not that he’d be able to tell you anyway he was only a figment after all.

You didn’t question how the tall man knew you’d missed him, but then it was your subconscious speaking to you, you reminded yourself, so of course he’d know, whoever he was, clearly you’d picked him up in your memories somewhere along the line, you certainly didn’t recognise him now, and  you still didn’t know his name but maybe you’d invent that later.

“Shall we?” He held out his arm for you to take.

From leaning your head slightly on his shoulder, you grinned, knowing what was coming.

The room burst into action between your blinks, it was the colour of ice and champagne décor to match.  There seemed to suddenly be people everywhere -well, you thought they were people, they looked like people but maybe they weren’t, maybe they were whatever he was. You couldn’t quite believe he was human somehow, something in his gaze or in the fluidity of his movements.

You could never see their faces, initially the masks were a little unsettling but by now they seemed to feel comfortingly familiar.  Strange how you seemed to pick up every detail, usually dreams were foggy and unclear, nothing ever made complete sense but this one you had down to a tee, everything was always crystal clear.

You looked down at yourself and smiled at the dress you were wearing again, its familiarity to you made it feel like an old family heirloom. You playfully swished the puffy material in your hands and released it, admiringly.

You looked back at him, kitted-out in his usual attire; long blue jacket, poet’s shirt and that hair. He was looking at you thoughtfully with a kind expression.

The mystery man automatically takes your right hand holding it at an angle, his free arm supported under yours to hold you in by the waist.

It was like an old film, the way the scenes changed so fast as if it were skipping, you were moving motion to motion quickly but then most dreams were this way weren’t they?

Gracefully you both twirled around the dance floor -everyone melting away it seemed. Even the sweet music muffled. You didn’t know how but somehow you always knew the right steps, you never tripped- not once.

 You focused on how you were feeling now in this scene, everything felt so real, you’d pinched your own arm a couple of times in the past and sometimes give his shoulder a squeeze, you just couldn’t understand. You squeezed it a little now, , earning a cheeky grin from him.

He whisks you around faster than usual, taking you by surprise, and you let out a string of giggles, so thrilled. How you’d miss this. He seemed to enjoy your reaction, delighted he could make you so happy.

“Do you enjoy my visits, my love?” he suddenly said out of the blue.

Your attention snapped back and you wrinkled your nose at that with a puzzled smile. It wasn’t in his usual script. You decided played along with your subconscious anyway.

“Of course” you say boldly, what was the point in being shy after all, it wasn’t real. Still, a blush starts at the base of your throat and you keep your eyes focused on the scenes behind his ear so you don’t have to look him directly in the eye. You could feel him inching closer, but you pretend not to notice.

He twirled you and when you came back around he was closer still eye contact never breaking. You could feel his breath by your ear.  Your spine tingled.

“Would you like to stay like this, forever?” his voice was always so silky soft but the way he said the last word was enough to put you on edge. You had been dancing for a while- you usually wake up before you can finish, why was tonight different?

“You still haven’t told me your name” you reminded him, changing the subject and willing yourself to focus anywhere but his eyes. How striking they were. Things seemed a little blurred now, you must be close to waking up.

“I can’t now” The tall man faltered with such kindness and pity in his eyes as if you should understand why he couldn’t, “but I will soon, but you have to accept me first”.

The dancing had begun to slow and soon the pair of you were stood still in an embrace waiting for you to say something. It seemed to be on the tip of your tongue but you couldn’t think of anything so you just said “I don’t understand”.

The mystery man seemed to falter but pushed on “you could live every day like this”.

You dithered in your confusion “I- I don’t know what to do” you didn’t like disappointing him; of course you wanted to stay in this beautiful dream, but that’s all it was.

He smiled sadly, as if reading your thoughts. The tall man drew back and you wanted to yell in frustration that he was leaving already when you wanted to know more.  You physically felt a force pull him away from you.

“Wait!” you pleaded holding out your arm to grab him.

 “All you have to do is accept” he said sadly watching from afar- your confusion. He repeated the words over and over and then when you felt yourself leaving said one more strange word that you didn’t understand.

 “tonight”.

Chapter Text

                                                                                                  -*-

 

 

You rubbed your eyes waking gently from the strange dream.

You didn’t feel wanting this time you felt… haunted, such a weird way for it to end. You shivered.

 It was still dark outside, you looked at the clock. Midnight.  They still weren’t home. Oh well.

 “Moore?” you mumbled into the dark corner of your room “bird?”.

It was silent. You swung your legs over the side of the bed and pulled your jacket around you, folding your arms against the cold that gnawed at your exposed flesh.

“Moore?” The scarf nest was empty. There was no sign the bird had been there at all.

The window was wide open. You rushed over to it.

 “Bird?” You whispered from the window hopefully. It could just be nesting in a tree.

You heard nothing.

You would leave the window open for now. Otherwise the bird wouldn’t be able to get back in if you fell asleep again.

The lamp went on again. Like a beacon for the bird. You lit some of your candles too.

                                                                                               _*_

Half an hour went by and paranoia crawled into your thoughts. The bird never left at night this long.

You were pacing the room. Not that there was much to pace.

What if it suddenly couldn’t fly so well? Or if next door’s cat had got it? Or it got lost. Or worse.

You put your head in your hands at how fixated you had become to this raven.

 Snap out of it! It was a bird for god’s sake.

 A wild creature by nature.

 You sat on the edge your bed with a sigh the old iron frame creaked under your weight.

Maybe this was it, the day you had been dreading since it had landed on your window ledge that fateful night.

When you had to say ‘goodbye’.

You felt like you’d lost a beloved pet or a friend.

You put the scarves away hanging your head. Maybe you were crazy after all.

You slowly approach the window to close it one last time when an uproar of strong wind blows you backwards so you flail against your bed, landing on your butt on the floor with a thud.

Another storm?

You try to stand but it felt like the wind was pinning you down.

You shakily use the iron bed frame to help you stand, your arms crossed in front of you to shield your face -you heard the furniture skew across the room.

Your curtains dance in the whistling wind, shadows rose everywhere.

The candles went out together.

Darkness fell across the room.

The wind died down and you lowered your arms blinking at the twilight streaming through the open window.

There was a man standing in front of you

.25 Perfect GIF Reactions From Jareth From "Labyrinth"

 

“What the fuck!” You leap back in surprise, slamming into your bed again and sitting on it.

He put his hands on his hips triumphantly and raised his chin. His tall shadow fell against the stream of light.

You couldn’t see his face properly until he stepped into the light with a wicked grin.

A dramatic bolt of lightning struck the dark sky behind him. Rain sloshed down the windows.

“Come, come, is that anyway to address a friend?” his voice was smooth and in mock-haughtiness. The man tilted his head at you, removing leather gloves from his hands one by one.

You were rooted to the spot, mostly in fear and sheer astonishment. How the hell did he get through the window?


“What the fuck are you talking about- get the hell out of my house!” you cried suddenly wishing you kept a wooden bat under the bed you could grab quickly.

You shot a glance at the desk- there was nothing in your reach from the bed to protect you or cause enough harm to allow your get away. The phone was by the door and you silently praised god that Kari let you have your own phone in your room.

The strange man chuckled looking completely relaxed “such colourful language” he gazed around the room, unfazed “I must say it looks a lot smaller from this angle”.

You could see now that he was extremely tall with blonde hair cut in odd feathery lengths. Mismatching green and blue eyes looked at you expectantly.

You noticed first that he really was gorgeous, though that acknowledgement was extremely inappropriate given the circumstances. His features were sharp, almost hawk-like, and even though he was beautiful, he looked frightening.

 “I said I was coming- don’t you remember, my dear?” he prompted waiting for an answer.  

Your heart was pounding, stomach doing flips. “Just who in the hell are you”

He put his hands on his hips impatiently “You know very well who I am” he sounded very matter-of-fact. Like he actually expected you to recognise him suddenly.

The way he was dressed, dark, head to toe. A cloak clung to him as well as a cape. He sported a leather jacket with an extended high collar- like some glam rock- cliché-fairy-tale villain. You definitely didn’t recognise him.

And yet…

You look beside you to the little red book, blown open by the wind, the pages were lying open on a particular illustration. Of a tall man. With blonde hair. And a leather jacket.

You look between the page and the man. And then again.

He lifted his chin, satisfied expression that said ‘see?’ but you felt a cold chill run down your spine.

He was a nutter.

Run. That’s what every muscle in your body screamed at you.

You eyed the open door and made a run for it, he must have sensed it because he raised a hand, and an invisible force slammed it shut at the same moment.  What the hell? Your terrified mind was playing tricks on you.  

You turned in one fluid movement picking up one of the long candle holders, the nearest object to you, as your only defence, thrusting it in his direction.

“I swear to god if you don’t leave right now, I’ll- call the police”.

The man’s boots thudded faintly as he moved closer to you, unfazed by the threat. He stretched out a hand, lowering the candle holder you had raised, with one finger.

“There’s really no need to be scared” he said impatiently. He seemed towered over you, looking deep into your eyes…Tenderly? Your stomach heaved. You raised the candle holder again.

That gaze, those peculiar eyes, they held something familiar. You knew this face, but where, where?


“The creepy guy from earlier-?”

No, not just from earlier. Somewhere else! Think!

He tilted his head “I was merely watching over you. I’ve been watching over you for a while now, but you knew that already didn’t you?”

Watching…over…

Then it clicks into place and your eyes widen. Disbelief.

“You’re him, aren’t you?” you said reading his face for any clues “the man with the long coat, in my…my dreams…” you trailed off eyes glazing over.

Images flashed through your mind. A mask, a dress, a dance.

He only grinned in reply, now you understood.

The man’s eyes fluttered shut with a smile, relieved at your recognition, and you took this opportunity to lunge for the phone.

Before your fingers could brush it, it’s swept out of your reach along with the candle holder, causing it to smash to the wooden floor and to break into pieces. Oh shit, oh shit.

Your fingers flew to your hair. No weapon, no exit, no phone. You were trapped with this gothic psychopath who was probably going to kill you after he finished his little sick role-play. Oh lord, why didn’t you just close the fucking window!

He folded his arms with an amused little smile, watching the scene unfold, watching you work it out. A little cornered animal with nowhere to run. The tall man seemed interested in your next move.

 “If you leave now, I won’t report you” you offer slowly with your hands up “just go, I swear I’ll forget this ever happened”

Why the bloody hell weren’t Brian and Kari home yet! It must be approaching one o’clock by now!

“I’m not going anywhere” for every step forward he took you took one back.

 You steadied your voice, determined to bury your fear “just leave me alone- just take whatever it is you want and leave”

He sighed, clearly back at square one. “You really don’t understand, do you?” he said with a tiresome tone. Like you were a simple child. This cloak and dagger pseudo act was frustrating you and you were beginning to lose your rag.

No- I- do- not so either start explaining or just get out!” you bit back through gritted teeth. It seemed like you had no other option now, you may as well listen to what he had to say, from a safe distance.

“Maybe you liked me more with feathers” he hinted.

The blonde freak snapped his fingers and disappeared. Had you just imagined that? He just vanished in front of your eyes.

You tested the door, rattling the handle up and down in desperation “come on, come on!” you cried yanking it hopelessly -it was locked from the outside.

 “No, no, no”. You were stuck with this invisible psycho.

Caaaw” the noise came from behind you

You jumped at the noise, whirling around, but it was a noise you knew well.

 “Moore?”

The bird perched in front of you. How could it be here so suddenly? You let out a breath you didn’t know you were holding. At least the bird was back.

“Quick,” you say breathlessly to the bird “before he comes back”

You extended your arm to Moor, it looked like your bird, but something was off.

You crouched down beside the bird and gingerly touched his soft head when it began to glow and shift, transforming in front of your very eyes. Into the blonde man.

“Shit!” you snatched your hand back.

You covered your face to what you just thought you witnessed. How was that possible!? You didn’t dare remove your hands from your face in fear of what you might see.

“It is not easy to understand, I realise” the deep voice said gently, he was hovering close by. “Magic is not easy for those in the Aboveground”

He continued in his superior tone and you couldn’t quite believe what you were hearing. Magic? Birds that changed into men? What did he mean ‘Aboveground?’ It was all too much. You were on the verge of passing out.

You clutched your head. Maybe Kari was right -maybe you got completely wasted earlier and forgot about it- and this was some sort of fucked up fever dream.

“Magic” you mumbled half to yourself “like the time travel” you squinted your eyes shut.

He inclined his head curiously.

“I’ve come to return the debt I owe to you.  I gave you a gift, which you accepted, you owe me someth-”

“Well take it back then!” you burst out at this utter madness “I don’t want any of your bloody gifts! Just get out!”

He put his hands behind his back with a smirk “it doesn’t work that way, I’m afraid. You accepted my gift freely, you owe me whatever I wish”

He waited for you to say something, but you were too busy putting the pieces together in your head, unsure how something he gave you correlated to you giving him something in return but you humoured him; anything that would make him leave.

 “What do you want? Money? My jewellery? The television set?”

The tall man threw his head back and chuckled grandly. “You think so small, my sweet, oh no, much simpler than materialism, what I want- is you”

You clutch your desk for support- it felt like you were just kicked in the chest at his words.

 “Wha- what?” you choked out. “Me? You want me?”

This was skewing downhill too fast, it was becoming extremely dangerous. He’s going to kill me and wear my skin.

This fruitcake didn’t seem at all bothered with your reaction.

“I will be fair of course,” he continued unfazed “I’ll give you a challenge: a chance to win back your freedom-if you wish. If you complete my task, you’re free to go. But if you lose” he lingered over the next sentence dramatically, “you stay with me- in my castle. Forever” lightening crack again behind him.

“Never!” you cried horrified. What the hell have you gotten yourself into!

“How can this be a fair deal? A debt for a debt! There must be another way surely!”

He smiled like a joke you weren’t in on, “You accepted the book freely, my dear. You owe me whatever I want


You throw your hands up “You tricked me! It’s not fair!”  


“Ah, that delightful little phrase you’re always using” he clapped his hands together and took you by the elbow, guiding you over to the window “as much as I’d love to prattle on about the ins and outs of it, time to take our leave”.

“Leave?” you planted your feet and jerked your arm out of his hand. He allowed you to do so, watching you curiously. “I’m not going anywhere. Especially with you, magic or no fucking magic- I don’t want to leave!”

He scoffed, “what nonsense you utter- I’ve heard it from your own mouth: “I wish somebody would take me away

Dammit, he was right. You had said that in your teenage temper- but couldn’t think you were serious for god’s sake.

“I was angry and talking rubbish! Surely you must know that”

The tall man folded his arms in mock seriousness “what’s said is said”

 “But I didn’t mean it” you pleaded, momentarily dropping the tough cookie act. You sounded pathetic.

“Oh, you didn’t?” he looked down at you condescendingly.

He held out his long fingers pinched together, a crystal sphere appeared in his hold. He didn’t drop eye contact. “I’ve brought you something” he held it out to you to see.

“What is it?” you say curiously but with caution knowing this could be another trick.

“it’s a crystal nothing more; but if you turn it this way,” he twisted the orb like so “and look into it; it’ll show you your dreams. “

My dreams?

Intrigued, you peered into the crystal and a wave of reminiscence washed over you.

You could see it so clearly now; the puffy ballgown, the white champagne room, the masks, the dancing, the way you were spun so fast you giggled.

You giggled now, unpredictably, remembering how elated you felt, the warmth of it. Like the memory was real enough to have an emotional connection.

The tall man smiled softly, like he could see what you were seeing.

“Do you want it?” he held it out for you to take. “You’re unhappy here. But I could make you happy” he said it almost in a whisper.

You reached your hand out to the orb wistfully. You wanted to be happy, didn’t you? Of course you wanted it but…

“then say yes, accept my deal” he pushed.

You lowered your hand to your side. You didn’t feel so threatened anymore- as bonkers as it sounded- you believed him, in everything he was saying.

“I can’t” You said flatly. “It’s not that I’m ungrateful that you’re trying to return the debt- but I can’t go with you. I won’t give away my freedom like that”

“Sloane, you’re not making this any easier” the man said patiently “don’t make me do things I don’t wish upon you. If you don’t take me for as I am, then I have no choice to set you this task. It’s the rules”.

Clearly, he was not one for negotiation.

He held out his hand earnestly for you to take “come, leave your little cell of room behind, leave your dreadful family and just run away from it all”.

You could do it, so, so easily, the blonde man from your dreams made it sound so easy.

You stood in silence taking his words into consideration. The weight of them.

What about your friends, your studies you worked tirelessly  on over the last two years, your acting career, what would your parents think of you abandoning everything like this? They would be disappointed. All ‘poof’ because you picked up a silly little book. No, you couldn’t.

He saw this silent decline.

He snapped his  fingers and the crystal disappeared. You’d had your chance.

His demeanour changed in a flash. There was rage in his eyes.

“Don’t defy me when I’m being generous. I’ve given you a chance to win your freedom -either way you’re coming with me”.

“To where?” if he was taking you downstairs you could run out the door quickly and escape.

Much to your irritation he pulled you closer to him to look-out the window. Surely he wasn’t going to make you climb down the drainpipe!

“My kingdom” he said casting an arm out over the scene grandly “The Underground”

You expected to see your street and neighbourhood, but the scene had changed very dramatically.

The sky was orange streaked with black thunderous clouds, you could see what appeared to be a maze, a wide village and beyond that and....A large gothic castle in the heart of it.

He tilted his head at you smugly “do you still want to challenge me?”

You couldn’t stop gaping at the scene, “the castle beyond the goblin city” you murmur, suddenly quoting the book you were given. It was real. It was here in front of your very eyes.

 “It’s…it’s beautiful” you said truthfully, staring at the dark castle, it’s elegant thin spires.  You could even see flags fluttering in the wind.

“It is, isn’t it?” he said swelling with snobbish pride.

The blonde man offered you a hand to help you step onto the window ledge. You snapped your attention back smacking it away “I’m still not leaving-you can’t make me”

He took your hand anyway roughly pulling you up alongside him. He bent low to kiss it so that you could see the odd mismatched lengths of hair clearer. The highlights of white among the blonde stood out in the moonlight.

His eyes sparkled mischievously. “I am The Goblin King, but you may call me Jareth” he introduced himself.

He was deadly serious- you could see that. Goblin? Was he a goblin? You’d seen pictures of them in multiple fairy-tales across your childhood; small, green-skinned, ugly creatures. He sure as hell didn’t look like one of those. But you couldn’t believe he was human either.

You realised that he was still holding your hand and promptly took it back. Goblin King! There were many things you wanted to call him at that moment. Try devious bastard for a few.

You scowled, turning away from him so he couldn’t see the look on your face or the fact that exasperation and indecision were eating away at you.

You had to make a decision.

Your life wasn’t perfect but that didn’t mean you would just throw it away, doomed to spend it with a stranger. On the other hand… A task, that you could win and set yourself free and out of this mess.

Tick, tock.

 “Fine I’ll complete this stupid task” you raised your chin “how hard can it be” you said over your shoulder.

In truth you were terrified. Your world was about to be turned upside down, you could tell.

The Goblin King pointed to the maze in the distance “you have 13 hours, to complete my labyrinth and reach my castle” .

From up here it looked ridiculously simplistic. 13 hours seemed like an extremely long time for one maze. You must have done hundreds of mazes just like it in your childhood. You’d be home in time to wake for classes tomorrow.

 You told yourself you could do this.

The Goblin King could see the thoughts bubbling in your mind as you considered it seriously.

“Turn back Sloane, turn back before it’s too late” he warned shaking his head. He’s just trying to put you off because he knows you stand a chance.

“I can’t” you said partly to yourself “I have to try at least”.

“What a pity” he sighed conjuring another curious crystal ball and hurling it to the floor.

You were standing at the very scene you had just been viewing from your bedroom window, you spun around to look for your window but it had vanished. You really were here.

The Goblin King was standing near you “you could have had everything” he said grimly.

You ignored him, scanning the maze, calculating, “it doesn’t look that far” you chided shielding your eyes from the sun.

“It’s further than you think,” his breath was by your ear, body extremely close to you, making your jump “time is short. Tick, tock”

The Goblin King gestured to a large antique clock.

 “13 hours in which to solve the labyrinth. You have three strikes. If you lose them, also game over”

You opened your mouth to question but the Goblin King seemed to be vanishing in front of your eyes, retreating slowly “13 hours before you’re mine. Forever ... Such a pity” he drooled.

He was gone.

The labyrinth.

“Doesn’t look that hard” you assured yourself although you knew even from this perspective it looked a whole harder than it did from above. You shook yourself, negativity would get you nowhere.

 “Come on, Hazel “ you said to yourself.

Just one foot in front of the other.

Chapter Text

image

 

 

 

 _*_

Damn wretched girl! 

Back in his castle, Jareth hurled the crystal at the wall opposite him. How dare you throw his generosity back in his face! After all he'd tried to do for you! Do what you had asked!

Anger bubbled inside him. He'd thought you were smarter than this foolishness, than this childish defiance! 

Didn't you see? Didn't you bloody understand? 

He'd done it- he thought with clenched teeth- out of the kindness of his heart. Pah! Look where that had brought him!

"What I want is  you "  

He'd said it in tender truth and passion.

He thought he was setting you free by binding you to the wish, this way you could escape, with him, but you had taken it the wrong way completely, warped him a cruel villain in your mind...The look of disgust and disdain on your face when he'd said it...It had honestly crushed him.

Jareth had been adamant that you would come so willing. 

The way you had held him in your arms on the first night...

A shiver washed over him at the warmth of the memory. It was at that very moment, he'd realised then, in his wretched Raven form, that he'd felt something , something he hadn't felt for eons... 

Curse these feelings!

The Goblin King had granted you such a kind gift, and yet, there you were, walking towards the Labyrinth, a challenge you could not hope to win, to run it, from him- the very nerve of you!

It was rare that runners far and wide trialled and triumphed the Labyrinth- what made you so sure you could do it? He scoffed at this thought. 

Another bitter thought crossed his mind: You’d forgotten. You’d forgotten everything. The dream. The beautiful dream that you’d adored.

Rage calming, Jareth waved his hand for another crystal to peer into, observing you curiously as you walked up and down the outskirts of the labyrinth, with a hand under his chin.

He gave a begrudging sigh. There was nothing else for it. He would have to make you see what you wanted again, direct you towards him.  

The Goblin King had to admire you for at least giving the task a go.

He drummed his fingers on the arm rest of his throne. Maybe you would give up in the end- you would see how tough and trying the Labyrinth could be eventually.

 ‘They always do’, he thought.

Then again, the look on your face said resilience. You wouldn’t be so easy to give in.

 

 

              _*_

This couldn’t be right. Your feet were already aching and you hadn’t turned any corners. In fact, you hadn’t even entered the labyrinth at all! You were following the high wall, still looking for the entrance! Dammit!

You slam your hands against the wall in frustration.

This wasn’t fair! You at least expected the Goblin King to open the bloody door. You were sure the cheater had started the clock too. You could practically hear the minutes ticking by and see the smirk on his face. Fuck! You kicked the wall.

“Hey watch it!” A stern voice makes you jump, dropping your hissy fit. There were other people here? Couldn’t they get in either? Were they trapped too?

There was a shorter man standing beside you glaring at you. He came up to your knee. You removed your hands from the stones sheepishly.

“Y’ ought to watch y’self- especially in here, that temper won’t get y’ far” he turns back before you can reply, holding a makeshift weapon of some sort, pointing it at something you couldn’t see. “58!” he cried cheerfully.

“In here? But I’m not even in the Labyrinth yet! There’s no door!”

You looked up at the walls as if he saw something you didn’t. What was he talking about?

The short creature stops counting to give you a tiresome expression. “That’s because y’ not looking hard enough- 59!” and then, triumphantly “60! Things aren’t always what they seem in here”

Were the people from here always talking in bloody riddles?

You decided to be patient.

“Well…You must know how then- how to get in?” you offer hoping he’ll just tell you.

He wore a skull hat and shabby  vest, scruffy shoes and trousers, he had long ears and nose. “Are you a gnome?” you say aloud accidentally. A real gnome imagine! An hour ago you would have scoffed at the idea of meeting a gnome. Well there was a king of goblins so why not.

The scruffy man turns sharply “I’m not a gnome, I’m Hoggle!” he snaps.

“Oh,” as if you have any idea what that is “Nice to meet you, Hoglet” you hold out a hand though this really isn’t the time to be making friends. Suddenly 13 hours seemed far too little.

He scoffs, insulted “Hoggle, not Hoglet”.


“Oh, sorry” you falter, already you weren’t getting off to a great start in this place. “I’m Sloane. Sloane Hazel” but like he cares anyway.

“That’s what I thought” he grumbled under his breath pointing the weapon at seemingly nothing and continues counting.

“What did you say?” you follow him to catch up “you know me?”

Hoggle's stoic manner dropped and he looked anxious suddenly, obviously he’d let something slip that he wasn’t supposed to.

You do ! You know me!”

“Wellll, it’s uh, it’s a popular name ain’t it” he was lying; any fool could see that. He started to walk faster ignoring you by his side.

“Hey come back!” You grab his arm bending at the waist a little to look him in the eye. “You know something don’t you? About me?”

Hoggle twists in your grip “I can’t” he whines “Jareth will kill me!”

“The Goblin King?”  you let him go at the mention of the name, but still keep him cornered “why would he kill you?”

Hoggle seemed genuinely nervous to speak with you “Y’- y' ask too many questions for y’ own good!”

“I’m not leaving until you answer!” you cry, frustration building in you.

He groans realising he’s stuck “we were given strict instructions not to help y’, alright? Now go!”


‘We?’ there’s more like him, here?

“Wait a second, if he told you not to help me then that must mean… you know something important that can help me through here!”

“I’m telling y’ if you don’t stop asking questions then we’re both dead”


“Just tell me where the bloody entrance to this maze is and I’ll go I won’t bother you again”

To your surprise he kicks your shins and you move out of the way to nurse the pain, allowing him to escape. “Hey!” you call after him but it’s too late. “Thanks for nothing Hop-scotch!” you yell holding your leg.

You faintly hear him correct you.

You rest your arm against the wall. This was going well.

 A loud screeching noise startles you and you remove your arm to see the wall swing forward, but it’s not a wall at all- it’s the door!

“Oh thank god!” you whoop sprinting through before they closed again. How on earth had you missed that!

 

You noticed the shift in the atmosphere immediately. The wind died down, there was no noise.

The walls were narrow and both paths to your left and right stretched out far ahead of you. Isolation. The air felt stiff and cold.

You pulled your jacket tighter around you, extremely grateful that you didn’t change into your pyjamas before you slept.

Left, or right?

You dithered between them though they looked exactly the same.

Right.

You strode down confidently, stepping over a tree branch every now and then.

You looked behind you after a good few minutes of walking and seemingly getting nowhere.  The walls and path looked the same you were sure you just stepped over that exact same branch. 

“There aren’t any corners!” you huffed coming to a stop . “It just goes on and on!”

There must be some somewhere surely! What kind of maze didn’t have corners or turns?!

You turned back, checking if you were alone or if you had somehow missed a turning- and then began to sprint down the path, maybe there were corners- you were just being too slow to reach them.

You watched your footing, hoping over tree branch after tree branch, suspicious cracks in the stones, hearing your footsteps slap against the path .

Just keep going. You ran for what seemed like forever. There's got to be one somewhere! Still, nothing.

You slowed to a stop, panting slightly.

“This can’t be right!” it felt like you hadn’t moved at all- the scenery looked exactly the same.

It was a trick, it had to be. Ugh!  You slammed the wall and kicked the other opposite with a frustrated shriek. It felt better to get that out.


You were drenched in sweat and your hair sticking to your face, calves throbbing. You were going to waste your entire 13 hours looking for a fucking turn! Maybe he was right, maybe giving up isn’t such a bad idea after all.

No!

What was wrong with you- you’d only been here five minutes and already you were giving in! This is exactly what he wanted. You couldn’t think that way already, you just had to remember why you were in here in the first place. You weren’t about to let a devious, tight-panted overgrown elf get the better of you.

“Fuck” you mutter. You clapped your hand to your sticky forehead, sliding down the wall to sit against it, not caring how grimy it was. You just wanted to sit and stare at these miserable walls.

“You’ll never get anywhere with that attitude!” 

You lifted your head to the croaky voice by your ear.

A blue worm on the brick beside you smiled “ ‘allo”

You stared at it . It had a tiny red scarf around its neck and an unsettling pair of red eyes.

 "Did… you say ‘hello’?”

You’d met a king of goblins and Hoggle, so a worm talking was not a surprise. 

“No, I said  ‘allo’ but that’s close enough” he nodded.

“Oh…okay” you sat up to face the worm fully “you don’t by any chance know the way through this labyrinth, do you?”

He shook his head “who me? Nah I’m just a worm”

Your shoulders slumped, disappointed “oh” was nobody here able to help?

“come inside and have some tea!” the worm offered

“No, thank you, but I have to solve this labyrinth-“ you gestured to the high walls “ but there aren’t any turns openings or anything”

“well you ain’t looking right- it’s full of openings it’s just you ain’t seeing them!” he gave a chuckle and shook his head.

“well, where are they?” 


“There’s one just across there, it’s right in front of ya”

You stared dumbly at the brick wall opposite, nothing had changed it was just a wall. What was he talking about?

“No there isn’t?” you peered at it but it looked just the same.

“Come inside and have a nice cup of tea” he implored, undermining you very desperate need to find the turns.

You were still staring hard at the wall expecting it to move or something “but there isn’t an opening!”

He laughed again and you felt stupid “of course there is!”

 

You stood, determined to show the worm that there really was nothing there. 


“You try walking through it, you’ll see what I mean!”

You turned “what?” walk through? Like through the wall? You hesitated.

“Go on, go on then”


“It’s just a wall, there’s no way through!” you protested.

“things are not always what they seem in this place- so you can’t take anything for granted”

“So everyone keeps saying” you muttered under your breath, sticking out your hands out in front of you, expecting to smack straight into the bricks.

You were able to walk forward a couple of paces and your eyes focused so that you could see the gaps where the two paths were.

Hey !” you said gleefully, there they were, the corners! You felt a huge weight lift off your shoulders. You looked left and right down this new path. No wonder you’d missed this! You started down the left path.

“Hey, hang on!”

You peaked around the corner with a relived smile “thank you! That was really hel-”

“Don’t go that way!” The worms voice was hushed and tense.

“What was that?”

I said, don’t go that way, never go that way!”


You frowned “But why?”

“If you keep going down that path, it’ll lead you straight to the castle” he shivered at the thought. 

You gave a winning smile  “No, no, you don’t understand, that’s exactly where I want to go!” 

He looked frightened, unsure “are you sure, dearie? That castle…awful place” his eyes widened and you dropped the smile.

 “The king. Take my advice, avoid the castle, save yourself” he whispered and turned tail to crawl back into the hole.

“But I need to get to the castle to win!” you called but he was gone.

You were dithering between the left path or the right. Both made you feel unsettled.

Risk it or play safe. Play into his hands you corrected yourself. This was exactly what he wanted, you to second guess yourself -that wouldn't get you far in here if there were more tricks up ahead which you very much suspected there were.

You could spend the next 12 hours in this miserable place- hell, it had taken you this long to find a corner! – scurrying around as time ticked on.

Or  you could go against the advice and follow this path to the castle and it would be over. You could be home before Kari and Brian would even notice  you were missing. 

You didn’t need to think twice. You shook off the worm’s advice following down the castle path.

Why was everyone so afraid of The Goblin King here? What was the worst he could do? He didn’t frighten you, you were sure, you’d have to face him eventually.

You strode confidently down the left path “I’ll show him” you mumbled under your breath, the sky was changing the further down you went. 

“Dammit” you noticed your shoelace was untied and leaned against the wall to do it back up quickly, you stepped out when the stone beneath your feet flipped over, causing you to fall through the gap and down, down.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ahhhh!”

your voice echoed all around you, your yelling cries scattering.

You tried to grab onto something but all you could feel was the air slipping through your fingers. You were on your back, gliding down what felt like a long slide, you snapped your head up, watching the light from the gap you had just fallen through shrink away quickly.

You could hear the wind rushing past your ears as you slid into nothingness, the speed would have exhilarated you- if you weren’t terrified of the land to come. Or where you were headed.  

You imagined hitting the ground and smashing like a china teacup.

The slid twisted and turned sharply in the darkness, causing you to hitch your breath and gasp at every unexpected movement. Your hair was streaming behind you.

You tried to stop yourself by planting your feet but it was useless you continued to glide downwards. 

Your heart was pounding and your blood turned cold. You kept your arms over your face in case you suddenly smacked into something unexpected.

Without warning, you slide off the end of the slide in mid-air, landing on a deep and plush rug.

You caught your breath for a few seconds trying slow your heart and gather your bearings.

What the fuck was that?

You wanted to cry out in frustration, you had been so close! Your hands thrashed the rug either side of you! Dammit! The castle was practically in your reach!

You were sure that flipped stone wasn’t a coincidence.

 You reminded yourself that you were extremely lucky to be alive right now as you dusted yourself down.

You squinted around you, standing from the rug.

You were in a tunnel  of some kind, you were sure.

You could see a light at the end of the darkness you were in, you don’t hesitate to move towards it. You were never a fan of the dark anyway.

You come to the light and blink in it. Instead of coming to the mouth of the tunnel, as you thought, you were instead surrounded by large walls, huge grotesque faces carved into them.

It’s this way or no way.

Besides for all you knew, this could lead to the castle, right?

You shuffled past them, their grey, haunting expressions. God you were hoping this lead somewhere good.

The stone walls spoke in a booming voice “DON’T GO ON and you leapt five foot in the air with a surprised shriek “Jesus fuck!” your hand flew to your racing chest.

Did everything in here speak?! The walls too!?

go back while you still can” they rumbled sinisterly.

You found your voice “what are you talking about? Go back where? You said breathlessly, “there is nowhere else!”

this is not the way

“There isn’t any other way!” you argued, spinning to face one of them “If this is another trick!” you warned.

take heed and go no further"

" Beware. BewarrrreThe voices were all around you "beware of what!" you squeaked, shiver running down your spine, suddenly you wished you weren't

so alone. 

“Alright, alright, show’s over!”

You turn your head towards the direction of the voice and groan. Just what you needed.

“Hipple” you say in mock-surprise, folding your arms coldly at him “boy, am I glad to see you”. The sarcastic laced comment echoes around you.

 

A stone wall beside you reverberates in amusement at your comment.

 

“It’s Hoggle!”  he snaps, then side-eyeing the laughing wall “y’ should be more grateful- you could have ended up anywhere!”

 

Perhaps it would be wiser to take the advice you were given this time around, not wanting anymore disappearing acts.

 

You shrugged, still mad at his earlier swerve to help, “well I wouldn’t be down here at all if you had helped me in the first place” you raised an eyebrow.

He scowls back throwing up his hands “even if I wanted to help y’, Jareth-“

 

“Yeah, yeah death penalty, I remember” you retort.

You sigh and run a hand over your face. Losing your cool wasn’t going to get you through the labyrinth. It wasn’t your style either.

 “beware, beware” the walls’ voices interject your argument “soon it will be too late

“Hoggle, what are they talking about?” you ask, turning to him throwing up your hands. You lower your tone “I just came down that path, there aren’t any others!”

Hoggle waved his hand dismissively “ah, don’t pay any attention to them, they’re false alarms, you get a lot of them in the labyrinth- especially when you’re on the right track “

oh no you’re not

“quiet!”

sorry just doing my job…”

Your eyes light up at Hoggle’s words “On the right track? Am I?”

beware-

“just forget it!”

 “So have you come to help me then, or just give me more riddles?”

“No,” Hoggle says ignorantly “to help, actually. Y’ won’t last five minutes in here by y’self. I knew y’ were going to get into trouble as soon as I met y’. And it so happens that I know a shortcut” .

“Gee thanks” you murmur “but why - what changed your mind suddenly?”

Hoggle looked nervous, wringing his hands “well…nice girl, big scary Labyrinth-“

Why , Hoggle”

“Alright, alright I ain’t supposed t’ but if I take you as far as I can, will you give me something in return?”

You glared at him, the nerve of him!

On the other hand, was right, you wouldn’t last five minutes without some inside help, as you had just found out, you wanted to leave this dismal place as soon as possible. The Goblin King never specified if you had to run the labyrinth alone.

Does this count as cheating? You hushed that voice at the back of your head.

Your shoulders slumped a little, giving in to the shorter man’s wistful look.

“Okay okay fine, what is it that you want?”

“You have a charming bracelet” he says shyly.

You look down at your wrist at the bangle and begin to take it off. It’s so beautiful…a small price to pay.

 “no not that trash the other one, in your pocket”

Pocket? You slip your hand inside and take out your ring of keys, dangling on your finger, making it jangle. “You want… my keys…?” you looked at him confused.

His eyes light up and he snatches them “yes! The charms! he gushed over your tacky key rings turning them over one by one.

You look down at him, so obviously smitten with them- you have to tip up a smile. “You can have it then; do we have a deal?” Kari and Brian were going to kill you for losing them, but you reminded yourself if you didn’t get out of here there would be no angry Kari and Brian to go back to anyway- or anything else for that matter.

 

You shook hands. Hoggle dropped the ring of keys in a small pouch bag, slinging it back over him.

 

“So, you know a way out of here then?”  you said eager to leave this unsettling place.

 

He’s already venturing on, gesturing you to follow behind “come on”

 

You walk on, leaving behind the False Alarms, these walls, thankfully, didn’t have faces.  

 

“Are…Are you sure its safe this way?” the path seemed to stray further from the light, you had a nauseous feeling wash over you.

 

“Ah, its fine I told you they’re just false alarms to make y’ doubt y’self”

 

Hoggle hummed under his breath, apparently searching for something in particular.

 

 “There’s always one of these around here somewhere” you hear Hoggle murmur, watching him feel along for something until …“aha!”.

“What? What is it?” your hand comes to rest against a ladder, you can loosely see the rungs leading upwards.

You let Hoggle go first, he seemed sincere in helping you and probably didn’t mean you any harm, but you couldn’t take any chances espically if he was planning to ditch you.

His earlier comment echoed in your mind ‘Things aren’t always what they seem in here’.

You let out a “huh”, thinking aloud. You gingerly reach for the first rung, pulling yourself up behind him.

You heard him wheeze above you “what?”.

“Nothing, I was just thinking about something you said earlier”

“ah, yes…Sorry about all that” he coughed with embarrassment. “I did want to help y’ really, y’ know” he sounded genuinely regretful. “y’ve got to understand my position; I’m a coward and Jareth scares me”

“what kind of position is that?” You wrinkled your nose

“That’s my point- you wouldn’t be so brave if y’ smelt the bog of eternal stench” he said pompously

He stepped up a rung and it fell, you hear it clatter below you and wince.

“Is that all it does- smell?

Hoggle shook his head “the worse thing is, if y’ so much as put a foot in the bog of eternal stench y’ll smell bad for the rest of your life it’ll never wash off”

Yeesh, that did sound bad.

“Right…So…” you climbed up further “I guess we’re friends now huh” your voiced echoed.

“Friends…?” Hoggle sounded surprised.

You shrugged though he couldn’t see it “well, yeah I mean you’re helping me out of here aren’t you, isn’t that what friends do, help each other?”

“Friend huh, I like that…I ain’t never been no-one’s friend before”

“well…we’re friends now. My first friend in here anyway”

 

He gave a ‘hmmf’ followed by an awkward silence. Hoggle cleared his throat.  “Why are y’ here anyway? Let me guess, rotten sibling?”

Rotten sibling?

“uh, no, actually turns out I took something and now I owe the king, apparently… I have to win the Labyrinth to get out of it”

Your sweaty hand slapped against the wooden bar, you were about half- way and didn’t dare look down. A bead of sweat trickled down your face which you quickly wiped away. “I don’t really understand how though, I couldn’t really dispute it at the time”.

Hoggle chuckled knowingly “that sounds like Jareth alright, shady deals, glamour magic, y’ need to be careful around him, he’s fae” 

Your eyes widened in surprise “Fae? Like fairy?”.  So not goblin after all.

 

“Try sly trickster” Hoggle scoffed “when y’ take gifts from fae, it means that you owe them back whatever they want” he explained grimly.

Upon hearing this, the bonkers conversation from your bedroom floated into your head:

‘You took the gift, you owe me whatever I wish... what I want- is you’

You shivered remembering the way the Goblin King’s eyes sparked and pierced you at that moment.

 

You shook off that memory “that doesn’t make sense whatsoever” you pointed out.

 

“Well it wouldn’t, would it? That’s why they’re known as tricksters” Hoggle grunted with more effort.

 

You rolled this over in your mind. So maybe this was kind of your fault after all, but you still didn’t ask for that damn book!

“what did you mean when you said rott-“

 

“Here we are” he cut you off, shifting something above his head. The unexpected light made you cover your face and squint but you headed upwards towards it, finally glad to be above ground and able to see properly.

You climbed out of a plant pot to see the scene had changed from what you saw earlier. The walls didn’t appear quite so tall and menacing.

 “Which part are we in now?”

This area of the labyrinth was pretty and well-kept you found it hard to believe it was part of the labyrinth at all. It was a good sign that you had moved on in the maze significantly.

“Somewhere near the heart of the Labyrinth” Hoggle dusted himself down replacing the plant pot.

 

-*-

“Curses!” The Goblin King cried as you climb out the plant pot. The goblins come to a momentary standstill at the outburst.

"Well?" Jareth hissed at the creatures "what are you gawping at, back to work!"

The goblins resumed the mopping, dusting and polishing, quietly murmuring among themselves. Jareth was working them to the grindstone, ensuring the castle was spotless for when his guest arrived. He must admit, he much preferred it this way, being able to see out of the windows clearly was nice for one.

He had never in a million years thought you’d get this far so quickly.

Okay, he’d played dirty, flipping that stone over, he hadn’t meant you any harm, of course, you were in safe hands, but it wasn’t a real challenge if it was over already, was it? You wanted a challenge and challenge you would get.

He told himself in the long run he was actually doing you a favour, you wouldn’t be so naïve when you returned to the Above. If you returned.

It was looking very likely now and he just couldn’t have that.

"Why can't I see my face in these floors!" 

Chapter Text

 

_*_

“This doesn’t feel so bad anymore” you say cheerily walking in unison with Hoggle.

 The stones below you were yellow now. The Labyrinth’s threatening image was melting away.With every step you felt more confident in actually beating the Goblin King now, you felt like Winner material

“Hmmf that’s what you think” Hoggle kept looking back just in case. Though your fears had subsided you still kept a wary eye on every stone that your feet passed over.

“We must be closer now” you said positively .

You looked at the warm sky with a sudden peaceful state washing over you.

“Hoggle, I know this sounds ridiculous but I- I think I can feel it; the castle’s presence getting closer to us, it feels… warm and …glowing…” you laughed at yourself  “how crazy does that sound?” 

He didn’t reply and you looked back, you hair whipped behind you “Hoggle?”

The path was empty Hoggle was nowhere to be seen.

 The sense of peace you had vanished and you felt panic-stricken without your inside guide leading you through.  

 “Hoggle? Hoggle stop playing games -we don’t have time for this!” you in a high voice with your chest feeling tighter.

_*_


“Hello, Hogwash” Jareth leaned against a tree, one hand behind his back the other tossing a crystal in the air and catching it again.

Hoggle turned, confused how he’d just been with you one minute, and now he was in front of the Goblin King.

"O-oh!" Hoggle exclaimed, voice wavering. "Y-y’ Majesty!”

“You look very surprised to see me, Hogspew” Jareth tossed the ball once more and it vanished “did you really think you could insult the crown without consequences?”

“Insult the crown, y’ majesty?” Hoggle kept his trembling tell-tale hands behind his back.


“Don’t play the fool with me, you know very well how, helping the girl! Helping her to defeat me and that is treason, Hoffle, high treason and you know what that means-”

Hoggle fell to his knees , clutching the Goblin King’s leg  pleadingly “Please no, not the Bog of Eternal Stench!”

Jareth kicked him off, disgusted, brushing away the traces of dirt on his breeches.

“Well it looks as if you’re in luck this time because I have other plans for you” he grinned wickedly making Hoggle’s heart drop.

“Wh-what?” though Hoggle had a bad feeling he knew exactly what. He knew there was a specific reason those of the Underground had been told to steer clear from the Runner the king had got himself mixed up with.

“I want you to abandon the girl in cold blood”

The Goblin King said it slowly and ominously with his chin raised in a regal expression.

Hoggle quickly surmised there was more to that then it seemed. He didn’t trust Jareth for a single second especially when you were so foolhardy to this rotten place, and everyone in it.

“No! I won’t do it, she won’t last five minutes in here!” he cried “What if she gets lost or, or-”

The Goblin King waved his hand impatiently “Precisely, Heffle, precisely, unless, of course, never seeing anyone again sounds more appealing?”

Hoggle hesitated, realising he was stuck. He could go against Jareth to help you win, but he knew the devious fae would stop at nothing to make sure you failed at the end. Whatever choice Hoggle made… you were doomed.

“she’s…just a sweet girl” Hoggle said in a defeated tone

Oh?  Why the concern?”


Hoggle crossed his arms “I won’t do nothing to harm her. She said that we was-”


“What?” The Goblin king interrupted with a sneer “ Companions…Friends?” He lowered his tone, emphasising the cruel word.

 Jareth quirked an oddly shaped eyebrow at him -not showing the stab of pain that passed through his heart. He refused to be jealous of a repulsive dwarf who had already won your affections so easily.

Hoggle shook his head miserably.

It was no good arguing, the King, as always, was unyielding. Hoggle could see that. He groaned hopelessly with a pause “just promise me… you won’t hurt her?” he said in a quiet voice .

Jareth twitched at these words but then looked down at him sternly “I will do as I please” and tossed the crystal in his direction, replacing a forlorn Hoggle.

_*_

Hoggle can only look at the ground, hearing your footsteps coming  closer.

“Oh thank god!” You cry with relief “You’re back!”, you drop to your knees give him a hug “for a minute there I thought you ditched me or something. Phew!” you laughed but Hoggle twists out of the quick embrace.

“hey, where are you going?” you sprint to catch up with him holding his arm “woah, woah, woah you’re not actually leaving me are you? We’ve come so far!”  

The hurt look in your eyes made Hoggle curse himself for being such a coward. He cursed the king too, who he knew would be watching over them this very moment.  

_*_

Hoggle looked uncomfortable “I said I’d take you as far as I could -now leave me alone”

“Hoggle!” You’re surprised by his sudden change in character “Is this because of the Goblin King again, you don’t have to be afrai-”

“I said I’m leaving!” he snaps

You cling to his arm, your fingers grasping the layers of cloth, securing your hold “Are you my friend or not!” you cry as tries he wriggled free

“No, no I’m not! Hoggle is Hoggle’s friend”

You release him, shocked “what’s come over you!” you splutter at him.

He looked apologetic for a split second, warning “even if y’ get to the centre, y’ll never get out again- turn around now! Just get out while y’ can! ”

You snatched his bag of jewels as an attempt to black mail him to stay, ignoring his headings. You were getting to the centre and would get out.

You raised the bag above your head far from his reach, “I’m not a thief, Hoggle but you can’t just strand me here!”

Hoggle jumped at them and tried to kick you a couple of times before giving up. He threw his hands up surrendering “Y’ keep them!” and ran off.

“Hoggle you coward!” you yell, shaking the bag at his retreating silhouette so that the contents jangled.

And to think you called him a friend! He was just out to save his own neck!

Rage bubbled in you. So this was how it was going to be- nobody was going to help you- they were too afraid of the bloody Goblin King- or were they just loyal to him?

Well you weren’t afraid, he wouldn’t intimidate you.

Whenever you seemed to finally be getting somewhere the rug was pulled from underneath you.

Now what? You ran a hand through your hair, exhaling at the setting around you. You just needed to stay focused and rational. That would get you through.

“Oh dear me, lonely again?”

You whipped around, coming face to face with the man from your dreams, a gloating grin on his face that you wanted to wipe off so badly at this moment.

His outfit had changed, he looked less threatening now, poet’s shirt, boots, leather coat, and those pants. Your eyes flew up again, rapidly banishing every thought that came after that. You firmly reminded yourself that he’d technically stalked and kidnapped you and that those ideas were highly inappropriate. Is that a riding crop?

“Catching flies, Sweetest Thing?” he noticed your fleeting downward glance and your face burned.

You ignored him and the sickly pet name, choosing instead to look at the hedges so you couldn’t give him the satisfaction of rattling you.

“What do you want? Or have you just come to say your goodbyes already?” you tried to keep your voice steady, squaring your shoulders.

“What a quaint sense of humour! I do hope you won’t lose it when you come to live here,” he circled you predatory like, hands behind his back “entertainment is so few and far between”

“I’m sure you’ll manage somehow in my absence” you crossed your arms  "is that all?"

He leaned back on the balls of feet airily “actually, I came to give you something”

“Well whatever it is you can keep it. I’ve had enough of your gifts, thanks” you say sternly determined not to lose track of where you were wandering while he was talking.

Jareth laughed condescendingly whisking his hand a few times until he conjured a bundle of dark, thick looking clothe -throwing it at you.  "Here. you'll need it"

You just caught it, barely glancing at it. "I won’t take anything from you " you hissed.

“very wise, understandably,”

You unravel the bundle anyway, feeling his stare burn into you as you did.

In your outstretched fingertips, you held a thick cloak, seemingly made from long thick feathers of a midnight blue colour with gold trimming the edges. It was extremely heavy, the fur lining incredibly thick, a deep long hood. It was very him.

Though it was indeed the most beautiful and probably grandest thing you’d ever seen and held you pretended not to be interested with it in the slightest.

 You ball it up ready to throw back at him.

“I have my jacket, thanks “

“Ah, yes I see you're already beginning to dress like me – good taste, naturally" the Goblin King gestured a hand at you.

 He was referring to your brown leather jacket that looked vaguely like the one he was currently wearing and of course your white floaty blouse. You hadn’t even realised the similarities until he’d said it and drew your folded arms further across you.

"I was already wearing this" you pointed out, but you wanted to rip them right off you after he said that.

“Suit yourself" he folded his arms mimicking you “but those clothes will not serve you well- it gets cold outside” he lifted his eyebrows “or you could always come inside, where it’s warm” he had the audacity to wink at you.

“then I’ll get cold, I don’t need your help” you bit back


“Oh, is that so?” his eyes twinkled, deep voice sent a chill through your spine.


Yes” you said sternly tucking your hair behind your ear in the rising gust of wind.

He blocks your footing so you are forced to stand before him. The Goblin King folds one of his arms across his chest, propping up the other so he can hold his chin and jaw in a thinking position.

“You intrigue me so” he says so softly you barely caught it.

You swallow hard forcing yourself to stare him down as if unconcerned but you manage to string together: “I’m really not that interesting” you say flatly, in an attempt to sway him into backing off but it only seemed to fuel him further.

Strange” the Goblin King gave a flicker of a smile, still looking at you over his gloved hand with a gaze that didn’t waver “uninteresting people never have to say that”.

You had to get around him now, conceal yourself from under his sharp eyes.

Instead you were rooted to the spot, challenging him, daring him , almost, to do something.

What’s wrong with you! You screamed at yourself Move!

The Goblin King steps closer until your almost nose to chest- with the height difference- and you’re mesmerised, going against your instinctive reaction to run.

“Why are you trying so hard to run from me, Sloane?” he whispers

You pressed your mouth together not daring to speak and betray your calmness, or your sanity.

 “Clearly you’re not afraid of me, not now, but there is so much defiance and hatred in those eyes of yours. It confuses me- I’ve only done what you asked me for, those late-night whispers of your heart’s desires I’ve only tried to fulfil.”

You stumble back at those words, closing your eyes as if in pain.

Every word you said, to what you thought was a dumb bird was him. He’d heard it all, this real-as-real man heard everything. Your face turned scarlet at the realisation.

“you’re delusional” you whisper.

He raises the end of the riding crop to tilt your chin to meet his gaze. “Tell that to your starry eyes, precious girl” he let the riding crop trail slowly down your cheek making them flush and shiver to the touch. 

You flick the riding crop away, thinking about dumping the heavy cloak on the nearest hedge but he catches your wrist.

“Oh, and Miss Hazel?” his voice still dreamy and floaty as well as his tender gaze, he moves his hand down your wrist to graze your palm. You can feel your pulse rising which no-doubt means that he can too.

“don't even think about throwing it away,” the Goblin King says, catching your tell-tale look.

You gave him a blazing glare and tear your wrist away while he let his fingers trace it.

“See you soon” he mimes blowing you a kiss and your stomach flips.

You turn away sharply and walk on briskly.  You look back for a second to see if he was following you but he’d gone, thank god. You tuck the bundled cloak under your arm. You’d look utterly moronic in it- like a ‘Sesame Street’ extra.

So here you were, all alone in this bloody place. It seemed like for every step forward you took two steps back.

You didn’t dare think about how many hours you had left, you just walked along the path hoping to get somewhere new.

You didn’t dare think about your fast pulse.

Chapter Text

 

_*_

You knew by a tell-tale clock chime an hour had gone past, but it felt like more. The cloak was so damn heavy to carry you were certain he had enchanted it purposely like this to slow you down further.

You came around the corner to stand in front of a wall that had stone fingers pointing in directions like a sign- post. Each of them pointed towards the different paths you could take. Then you spotted the stoney hand nearest your head, you followed it’s direction to the lay your eyes on the castle sat highly on the hill. You mentally high-fived yourself.

You continued in that direction, brushing the wall with your hand. You turned this way and that; keeping an eye on the castle in front of you as a guide “I’m coming” you murmured “I’ll find you”.

A bird in the sky above you squawked. You looked to it, shielding your eyes from the sun, noticing it was a snowy white owl of some sort, flying around in circles high above you.

_*_

 impatient GIFs | Riffsy GIF Keyboard

The Goblin King rested his chin in his hand, tapping the staff against his boot looking to the large clock as the 4th hour approached. This was taking longer than he thought.

Maybe he couldn’t wait it out after all. It was almost maddening having your little intoxicating self so close but so far.

He just couldn’t keep away, not when you were being so delightfully wonderful already.

Why was everything so bland when you weren’t around? Jareth had nobody to dazzle or delight- it was just him, alone in his mind, surrounded by these idiots. At least he had some intelligent, real, conversation to look forward to when you came to stay in the Underground.

Jareth sighed for the umpteenth time, sliding an eye around the room, observing the goblins fight among themselves, winding each other up, chasing each other. They didn’t have a care in the world, they had each other to torment or whatever goblins did together. They had no idea how indifferent he was feeling, this aching loneliness.

Stop this. He commanded himself.

He was the king for pity’s sake. He wasn’t about to lose his head over a girl, had you knocked the very crown from his head? Certainly not.

What was it about you that attracted him so? You were so usual in being but goodness were you above all others. He’d met so many other runners across the centuries, but none had captured him quite like you, they didn’t even come close, they were so pitiful and pathetic, you were neither.  That fiery spark in your eyes, oh, he had to savour it.

Jareth smiled closing his eyes, recovering the memories of listening to your voice prattling day in, day out about your day while he rested on the bed you’d made, to heal his wounds, hanging on to your every word, unbeknown to you.

Or those peaceful days where he would just quietly observe you sketching on your bed - the way you sometimes bit your lip when you drew, absorbed in your own world, it was tantalising.

The small things he’d come to appreciate.

How had you forgotten so quickly the way you had been around him, so care-free and relaxed?
Would you be like that again when you came to stay here? Or would you resent him for all eternity?  

What had changed- because he wasn’t the raven anymore? Were you embarrassed by your openness?

Nobody had ever treated him so kindly, selflessly, made him feel as wanted and safe, as you had when he had stayed in your care. You, a mere mortal girl.

Jareth had bitterly missed the way you’d greet him first as you arrived home, the way you spoke to him softly with a gleam in your eye. The Goblin King craved your hold ever since.

He did now as his striking eyes roved over you lovingly in the crystal.  These were the things he would never be able to utter aloud. To anyone.

How could he return to normality if he lost you? Go back to tiresome child-snatching and teary eyed, snivelling runners, hoping one of them would bring him some company? Ugh he shuddered -it was something he couldn’t bear to think about.

Hmmmf.

He drummed his fingers on the arm rest thoughtfully.

The Goblin King gave a slight shake of his blond head to clear him out of his reverie. He needed a change of action, a distraction. If he wanted entertainment; he’d make his own.

No one can blame you” he jumped up from his throne bursting into song “for walking away” he held the orb that showed you in front of him as if he was dancing with you.

Don’t tell me truth hurts little girl” he brought the ball to his lips, murmuring the line “ ’cause it hurts like hell”

With his magic, the upbeat music piped up, the goblins stopped their activities to cheer and dance along. Jareth forgot his doubts, cheering instantly.

_*_

 

When you looked up again the castle vanished. Huh. You turned to go back down the path you just came through but it looked different.

 

Alright. Don’t panic. You took the next one instead-surely it would take you full circle again, right?

 

You went back, your mind wandering as much as your retracing footsteps.

 

Why did he insist on being so alluring? Why couldn’t he be outright nasty and easy to rebuff? You refused to picture his face in your mind, focusing on where you were headed and why. Why.

 

You turn again and the walls changed- you were sure it hadn’t looked that way a minute ago! You looked behind you and there was now two paths that hadn’t been there before .

 

“what horrible place- it’s not fair!” you cried cranning your neck to squint at the high walls all around you.

 

“That’s righ’ -it’s not faer”

 

You whip around at the Scottish accent and chortle of laughter that followed.

 

“That’s only the half of it!".

 

There were two guards standing behind shields in front of two solid dark doors. They hadn’t been there either.

They looked to be guards of some kind judging by their uniform, one head to toe in red, the other royal blue, each clutching to their chests large shields so you could only see their jovial faces.

 

“This was a dead end a minute ago” you said in amazement nearing them.

 

“No, that’s the dead end behind yer haha” one of them snickered.

 

You turned and it was in fact a dead end. Bloody place.

 

 “It keeps changing!” you protested “what am I supposed to do?” you said to them helplessly like they had the answers to the riddle of this awful place.

 

“Well the only way out of here, is to try one of these doors” the red one on the left said. 

 

You noticed there were in fact four of them, as two of them were upside down behind the shield. Very strange.

 

 The Labyrinth Door Guard's. How funny are those two?

The Red one peaking out the end of the great shield spoke: “one of them leads to the castle at the centre of the labyrinth -and the other one leads to: ”

 

The other three of them mimed a dramatic drumroll “ bom-bom-bom

 

“certain death” his scratchy accent stated.

 

ooooh” they chortled ghostly and you had to roll your eyes.

 

You put your hands in your jacket pockets “Certain death huh- that’s very dramatic” you smiled looking between them “well which one is which?”

 

“er…we can’t tell yer” 

 

You shrugged “why not?”. Why did everything have to be cloak and dagger, life and death, why couldn’t you just have straight answers?

 

They looked between each other for supposedly a worthy answer, hesitating “errrr..”

 

“We don’t know!”

 

“but they do” the pair that peaked out the end of the shield nodded towards the upright pair. Your eyes followed them “oh! then I’ll ask them”

 

The both lowered their faces behind the shield. “No” the Red stuttered under your waiting look “Yer can’t ask us. Yer can only ask one of us”

 

You folded your arms. You were sure they were making it up between themselves to obstruct you from getting through either of the doors.

 

“It’s in the rules” Blue piped up nodding “and I should warn yer that one of us tells the truth and one of us always lies. That’s a rule too- he always lies “ the Blue shot a look at his red counter part.

 

I do not! I tell the truth!” the Red snorted.

 

Oooh what a lie !” they shook their heads at each other, then followed by the other two. The four of them chortled and squabbled among themselves as you stood plainly trying to work out your next move.

 

You’d seen dilemmas like this before countless of times in movies. You always rolled your eyes painstakingly at these films when the characters asked dumb complicated questions and were always beaten consequently- but now it was your time to shine.

 

“Alright” you stood in front of the red guard silencing all four of them.

 

You put your hands on your hips “Answer me this: what is two plus two ” you said carefully but with confidence.

 

See how they wriggle out of this one you thought smugly. God, you hoped it worked.

 

“Oo… eerrr” The upright Red guard struggled, face reddening, but you could see it was working, Red tried to keep his mouth closed but sighed “the answer is four” .

 The Blue one spluttered "Its six!" .

 

You gave an inward cheer.

 

“So you’re the one who tells the truth- which means this is the door that leads to the castle” you said to the Red happily, much to their irritation that you got the right door so quickly.

 

“sorry, know that was a bit mean, but I really have to get out of here. Maybe I’ll try certain death next time” you tipped up a smile.

 

They nodded “we understand. Faer’s faer. Now go, time’s a ticking”

 

“Yes go” the others agreed nodding enthusiastically .

 

“Thanks. At least that was an easy one” you exhaled.Take that, Goblin King .

 

“I’m finally starting to get the hang of this” you said with a sigh to the Red guard , who stepped aside to allow you to push the iron door open “this is a piece of cake!” you stepped through able to see the stone path on the other side leading to the castle. Here I come you smug bastard.

 

The door swung shut behind you and you walked out to the path... but instead you just came to where you were standing before. What the hell! You had gone in a loop- Why weren’t you at the castle!

“What?” you murmured looking behind you, the doors had vanished. Not again, this couldn’t be happening again.

“Goblin King, you fucking cheater!” you cried at the heavens “you can’t do this!”  you shook the cloak in your hands, imagining his neck in the collar as if you were throttling him. Bloody, smug, beautiful idiot cheater!

You heard a clock in the distance chime as you entered the fourth hour. Only nine to go.

 “Oh now, I don’t appreciate name-calling” The Goblin king stood in front of you, snaking a crystal ball up and down his hands casually.

You folded your arms, “well, it’s the truth – you can’t change things to suit you when I’m ahead!”

The Goblin King lifted his head to appear superior “I think you’ll find that I can do as I please, my rose, make no mistake”.

“And that’s another thing will you stop calling me things like that! It’s doing my head in!”

“On the contrary, my dear, I think you secretly enjoy it” he tilted his head at you knowingly.

Dammit he’s right.  Your insides thaw at the second endearment but you pretend to be unfazed, he was still after all your villain. ‘The villain’ you corrected yourself sharply.

“you're quite adorable when your infuriated- particularly when you’re confused - did you know that?”

You rolled your eyes ignoring your thudding heart “god, don’t you just know how to charm a girl”

Jareth played along with a smirk, ignoring the sarcasm within your remark “in more ways than one, you’ll be delighted to know”. He leans against the walls with an elbow, propping up his head to look down at you.

God does he have to be so arrogant?

“I do enjoy this, this little game of ours” he teases with a wolfish grin that reveals a jaunty line of predatory teeth.

You smiled back in mock-sweetness “will you enjoy it when I win the labyrinth?”  and stuff your hands in your pockets.

“Ah, there’s that tongue I’ve missed- at last”

“I also have hands- would you like me to punch you?”

“No, my darling I have other plans for those, but we’ll discuss that later” he winked.

You blushed at that insinuation much to his delight.

He was being like this on purpose, to make you lose your head and apparently it was working because you realise you’ve gone in a loop and growl in frustration wishing he would stop talking for a second. You resisted the urge to stamp your foot and give him more reason to release that devilish laugh.

You halt, realising its fruitless whist he’s here you may as well humour the smug git.

“You’re very confident that I’m staying for someone who keeps needing to distract me every time I’m ahead”

“oh, I think someone’s enjoying themselves far too much, all this adventure, it suits you, Sloane. It’ll be a shame when you have to leave and go back to that awfully dreary life” he says the last part in a sing song voice.

“I liked that dreary life” you fold your arms but you can’t deny the rush you felt in this place, even if you were going round in circles.

The Goblin King clasped his hands “since I’m feeling particularly generous, how about a little help on my part?”

It was better than nothing. It’s not like you had any other strategies right now, the more inside help the better even if you were giving him more ammunition. “Help how ?”you tuck your hair behind your ear and return it to your jacket pocket.

The Goblin King waves his hand grandly with a smug smile, creating a portal before you.

You leaned forward, ducking slightly to peer in, you could see through it “what’s this?”


“A little push in the right direction” he shoved you forward by the shoulders lightly so.

 You managed to catch his wink before falling through. Bastard.

Still, at least you were getting somewhere.

You were left alone again, wondering about your captor and his odd behaviour.

_*_

You needed to sit down.

You sat on a slab of stone beside some thin bushes, with a sigh and your head resting on your hands. You were so exhausted after all these circles you were going in. Push in the right direction my arse.

Your mind flicked to Kari and Brian. 

How Long had you been away?

What would they say when you finally returned home? Would they be glad? You were going to get one heck of a grounding for being away for so long, oh boy, they thought five hours was bad, you felt like you had been away for days. All those essays you had due for classes you’d have to catch up on. Oh god. How would you explain your absence?   “I was kidnapped by a tall, handsome, spandex-wearing king of goblins and had to run a maze to win my freedom- you know how it is!” .

It seemed strange to think about these ordinary things here and now, in your situation in the middle of this la la nowhere land.

Would Kari and Brian be happy to finally have you out of their hair? You could imagine the disappointed look on Kari’s face when she opened the front door to see you standing there when you finally made it back. They probably had balloons and cake celebrating their freed burden after all these years of putting up with you. Maybe it was better if you just stayed in this horrid confusing place, at least he seems interested in you.

“You intrigue me” A shiver ran down your spine. What was it about you that brought you so closely to him? Whatever it was, did you hate it? Did you? Why would you even ask yourself that!

 The image of him blowing a kiss to you popped into your mind. Ugh you shouldn’t be feeling this way for god’s sake! He was a villain, it was that simple.

You had a life too, you had every right to fight for it. What made him think that you could to be swept up and taken at the drop of a hat, without even asking if you wanted to leave in the first place!  He'd given you no choice but to resent him.  You weren’t a plaything for him to steal away and submit to- the nerve of him. 

Stupidly, you began to miss your bird. Even if it was the Goblin King in disguise, you would miss being able to talk to somebody like you had done then, when you finally return home after you won the Labyrinth. Could you really go back to normality in your life after this? Pretend it had never happened? Who would believe you anyway? 

Your sadness turns to anger. Why hadn't he just shown himself to you in the first place? Why lie and pretend to be a dumb bird this whole time, coax you into caring about him?

A shuffling in front snaps your attention away from these thoughts. An elderly man with a tall, funny hat sits at a chair made of large books of stone. Maybe he knew the way round here.

 “excuse me! please but can you help me?” you sprint up to him . You notice the hat wasn’t a hat at all but a bird on top on of his head you tried to ignore the intense stare of the bird.

“Oh a girl runner” he peers down at your with a surprised expression “been a while since I’ve seen one of those”

You smile uncertainly , forcing your hands to stop figitting and appear sincere “can you help me get to the castle- at the centre of the labyrinth”

“so you want to get... to the castle” he scratched his head thoughtfully.

“Yes” you say earnestly

“Huh, how’s that for brainpower” the bird spoke, not that you were surprised.

“be quiet!” the elderly man snapped at the bird glaring upwards at it.

“So you want to go forward? Sometimes the way forward is the way back” he smiled encouragingly as if that made a lick a sense.

“will you listen to this crap” the bird rolled it yellow eyes at you

 “will you please be quiet!”

You had to bite on tongue hard to stop yourself bursting into a fit of giggles at the ridiculous scene

Ok?”

“Ok!”

Alright?”

“alright!”

The man cleared his throat the bird mumbled to itself.

“Quite often, young lady, it seems like we’re not getting anywhere, when in fact-“

“We are!” the bird interjected cheerfully.

The elderly man looked upwards at it sharply over his round glasses “we are 

You gestured to your lost state “It doesn’t feel like getting anywhere at the moment!” 

“Ha!” the bird squawked “join the club!”

The elderly man gave a deep sigh and you realised he’d actually fallen asleep!

“Um…” you clear your throat waiting for him to wake.


“And uh, I thiiink that’s your lot” the bird said flicking its eyes to you. It shook a collection tin at you “please leave a contribution in the little box”

You mentally grumbled having gotten no further by this little philosophy lesson but you begrudgingly felt around in your pockets. You had no jewellery and you were not about to give up your parent’s earrings.

You looked inside Hoggle’s bag to find your keyrings and unclipped one to put in the tin.

 “Here, I guess I can spare this” it landed with a dull clang. Sorry Hoggle.

“Gracias Senorita!” it called after you as you began to walk away.

Sometimes the way forward is the way back

Chapter Text

_*_

You pass under an arch, noticing how the sun had stayed firmly planted in the sky since you arrived. Perhaps time wasn’t passing as quickly as you thought? Or it was a trick to make you think you had more time than you did? Or even if nightfall never came here? You didn’t know which, so you pressed on hurriedly.

You felt as though you must be in the heart of the labyrinth by now. The tall stone walls had been replaced by well-trimmed green hedges.

 

When you looked closer they weren’t made from woven leaves as you’d thought- they were thorns.

In front of you there were a number of paths you could take from here. You tried the closest to you, and stepped down it cautiously, as if the ground might swallow you up- you wouldn’t be surprised.

You walked close to the high wall keeping an eye on the direction you were following. You reached the end of the path to find… You came back to where you started. Hmmf. Well okay, 1 down four to try -one of them had to be right.

You tried the second with the same result and the third, the fourth, and finally the fifth. Despite your efforts you still came back to where you started.

You throw up your hands in frustration “no way!”.

How could this be? You sprinted back to one of the random paths, feeling along its sandstone walls to see if anything would give, that’s how it was in movies, right?

You felt along all five paths.

Nothing.

You wanted to yell out -but you knew he was likely watching you through those stupid crystal spheres and you didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of your failure. He was winning. For now.

Now what? They were the only paths to take you further how could they all be false? You were certain elements of magic was involved, something you couldn’t see in motion perhaps.

There was nobody around. You sat on the stones, feet throbbing. How far had you walked now? You leaned your head against the tall walls...

From below you stared up at the thorn hedges when a thought popped into your mind.

The Goblin King said you had to complete the labyrinth in 13 hours, but he never said how specifically.

You smiled to yourself wickedly. Damn this, if he could play dirty; then so could you. You jumped up, circling the paths, looking for something to give you a boost.

There was a fountain spouting water with a statue piece in the middle, it was close enough to a hedge that you could make the leap.

You looked around again, making sure there wasn’t any creatures lurking about, you estimated also that you weren’t close enough to the palace for there to be any palace guards patrolling.

You got closer to the fountain. It looked like you’d have to get your feet wet in order to reach the statue in the middle. You realised it was a statue of the king himself not that you were surprised to say the least- only you expected it to be made of solid gold. It was roughly as tall as you, the statue was holding out its arm, clutching a crystal ball, the position it was in meant you climb up it and leap on the hedges.

It was worth a shot. 

You tie the damn heavy cloak around your waist.

You unlaced your shoes and rolled up your jeans to your calves. Gingerly, you step in the water as if something may grab your ankle though it was silly.

Ugh! It was freezing cold! The water swishes around your ankles as you wade towards the figure in the middle.

One foot was in and then the other you hauled yourself carefully. You were delicate with your footing at first, but then scurried faster up the body of the statue.

You had your legs wrapped around the statue of the king's neck, its face was tastelessly between your thighs, you hoped to god nobody was watching you right now, especially the Goblin King.

If you had time you could have been more insipid- just to ruffle his feathers, to see how he liked it when the roles were reversed. A small smile crossed your face though you doubted he ever flustered.

You gripped your shoes tight and remarkably balanced yourself by standing upright on the statue’s shoulders. It wasn’t a far leap, but it would hurt if you missed.

The thorns glinted angrily at you. You launched yourself in the air and landed expertly on the hedge. You wobbled realising it may not hold your weight. You stick your shoes back on and creep back up to stand.

You shaded your eyes from the sun, untying the cloak from your waist to bundle up again. 

From up here you can see the whole labyrinth all around you, you gasp.

You could see the castle so clearly, it was practically right in front of you. You stand proudly on the wall, hugging your arms. A slight breeze lifted your hair to float behind you. It was very real now, your journey coming to an end. 

The castle's threatening exterior vanished, particularly as you were a lot closer to it, closer than you thought. You briefly wondered what it would look like inside. What kind of place did a Goblin King run?

Still, you gave a triumphant laugh, clapping your hands together childishly, whopping hoping he was seeing this.

_*_

Jareth was seeing this.  He’d watched the whole ridiculous charade of you climbing up the his life-size replica statue.

Upon seeing you with your legs clamped firmly around his neck he choked on the wine he was sipping at that very moment, spraying not only his white shirt red but also the unfortunate goblin who'd brought it to him. He swallowed it down, clearing his throat, composing himself again magicing away the red stain.

"That'll be all, Fik" he waved the nosy creature away, shielding the crystal ball from small prying eyes, protecting your decency.

The Goblin King, on his thrown, threw one leg over the arm rest, smiling into his leather gloved hand slyly, he had to admit, you had courage and originality. Nobody else for centuries had ever thought to walk along the walls, though it wasn’t strictly impossible it just required wit and stamina.

 “Clever girl” he thought, watching you attentively through his crystal.

Of course you would be ingenious, of course you would, he knew it from the start, but this defiance had gone on long enough. Genius or not it was still cheating- he couldn’t overlook rules now, could he? Dare he be accused of favouritism!

The Goblin King pinched his hand, in the orb, a tally was crossed off your three strikes. Tsk tsk Ms. Hazel.

You had two remaining.

 

Swish.

In his chamber, Jareth stalked to his large vanity table attentively unlocking the hidden drawer inside it with a large key he kept around his neck, took item that he sought and wrapped in his handkerchief, slipping it in his deep pocket. 

His smouldering eyes followed you in the crystal ball as you leapt from hedge to hedge, scurrying along them with your head ducking down. “You’ll remember” he whispered, lips to the orb “oh yes you will”.

He threw it up in the air.

Chapter Text

_*_

You trudged along, in the blaze of the sun you had been walking along the top of the walls of the Labyrinth for what felt like ages, seemingly undetected.

You had been able to mentally map from above which paths were dead ends or fatal, it made you wish at that moment you had your beloved camera with you so you wouldn’t have to remember them all.  

You meander your way along the thorns, watching your footing, following from above a path that was meandering closer to the Goblin City. It suddenly stopped at a wall and you jumped down to meet it.

“Oof”

You dusted yourself down, wiping your hands on your jeans.

Crazy to think that in a few hours you’d be standing within the palace walls. You felt as though you’d been in this labyrinth for so long. It would all be over soon.

The scene around you was very much the same dusty yellowed walls and green hedges.

You came face to face with twin doors in front of you. This must be the wall where the path stopped.

Maybe these would lead to the castle. Then again it was probably another fruitless trick. What choice did you have? Please no more riddles.

You hesitated flicking your eyes between the identical doors, with the exception of different golden knockers each has a large hoop and funny faces.

Which one of these ugly characters would you choose to go through? Left, or right? This seemed to be a recurring theme in the Labyrinth, choice after choice, poor decision after another…

“It’s very rude to stare!” the one of the left snapped with the large ring knocker through its ears startling you.

“Sorry! I was just wondering which door to choose”

“WHAT?”

“Mmf mo mmf masking mim – mmm mef mas a mmst” the other knocker said muffled by the hoop in its mouth

“Don’t talk with your mouth full!”

“Mhat mo mu meam- !” the one on the right protested but you couldn’t make out what it was saying

“Wait a second I can’t understand you” you shifted the bundle in your arms wishing Hoggle's bag was big enough to stuff in there. 

“WHAT WERE YOU SAYING?”

You removed the heavy hoop from its mouth setting it down on the dirty stone . It smacked its mouth in relief rolling its eyes “Ahhh. Oh-ho! It is so good to get that thing out!”

“What were you saying?” you repeated 

“I said it’s no good talking to him, he’s deaf as a post-“

“Mumble, mumble, mumble ! You’re a wonderful conversational companion(!)”

“You can talk!” it snapped back “all you do is moan!”

“No good” the one with the hoop in its ears sniffed “can’t hear you”

“Where do these doors lead?” you interjected holding your hands up .

“WHAT?”

“Search me- we’re just the knockers!” it wheezed with laughter rolling its beady eyes back

You tried pushing the wooden door but it wouldn’t give. You tried the other door pushing “well...how do I get through?”

“HUH?”

It wouldn’t budge , come on.

“Knock, and the door will open” the other said behind you wisely. 

“Oh, right” you nodded. 

You picked up the golden hoop from the floor easing it back into the knocker’s mouth

“Ergh! I don’t want that thing back in my mouth!” it protested firmly shutting its mouth so you couldn’t put it in.

“Come on, I wanna knock!” you said holding the hoop up encouragingly .

“Nm-mm!” is shook its head.

“Ha! Doesn’t want his ring back in his mouth, eh?” the deaf one quipped “can’t say I blame him”

The knocker still refused to open its mouth.

 “come on, I need to go through or I can’t win- I’ve had enough of this place already!” it kept its lips sealed “if I don’t open this door I’ll never get out of here!”.

You noticed it breathing heavily through its large flat nose and had a mean idea.

You bit your lip and suddenly lurched your hand out to grab its hooter to its surprise.

 It struggled for a while refusing to open its mouth as you kept the hoop close to it. "Just open your mouth will you!"

It gasped for air and you stuck the ring in. The knocker grumbled in its defeat

“I’m sorry, but I have to beat the king” you looked at it with a shrug and earnest smile

You knocked twice proudly.  The door swung open and you whooped going through as the knocker grumbled.

“Sorry again!”

“ffs fall figh fime fused fo fit”

You blinked going through adjusting your eyes to the dimness.

The scene had changed severely from the cute neat trimmed courtyards and fountains. Now it looked as if you had stumbled into another world completely. 

You were in a jungle or wetland of some kind. A frog croaked, you could hear the hum of flies and other creatures around you. The air was humid. You removed your jacket with a bead of sweat on your forehead. You surmised this would lead you somewhere along the way to the Goblin City.

 It looked as if the evening was finally beginning to arrive. There were tall and thick weeping willows everywhere surrounding a large lake.

A lake!

Here? In the labyrinth? Were you still in the labyrinth? There were no ...walls. Where...were..the...paths...

You stared at the lake, and these worrying thoughts began to melt away…

You had a sudden urge to swim.

Just a little swim, it would do you good, make you more focused for sure. You had more than enough time now didn't you? 

You found your feet walking between the trees, carefully brushing the long willows’ vines from your eyes and to the water’s edge. How lovely it looked in this twilight! The moon reflected on its ripples like diamonds.

You dumped your jacket on the spot along with the cloak, which you folded neatly, and Hoggle's bag.

You walk right up to the banks, toed out of your shoes and stuck a foot in, thankfully it was not as cold as the water fountain.

You let the glimmering water slip up to your ankle and put the other in. You sighed with relief at the sensation suddenly feeling very grimy from all the running and rolling in the dirt you’d done today.

 You were about to dive head first and bite the cold bullet when something yanked you back hard.

“Hey!” you jumped leaping out the water.

“Don’t go in there!” An old hag hauled you away from the pretty lake you so desperately longed to swim in.

Irritation bubbled over you, you had been on your feet all bloody day running around in circles and right now all you wanted to do was wash off the dirt on your face and relax your aching muscles.

“Let go of me- I want to swim!” you said to this rude stranger. Who was she to tell you, you couldn’t?!

She was stronger than she looked and pulled you further still until you could barely see the water through the willow trees, dragging you backwards much to your uproar of protest.

“Listen to me, child!” She pointed at the lake once you were both far from it, “the lake will kill you! It has strong magic to make it seem alluring, but it holds dark power!”

You shook your head at this old crazy woman, gesturing to the lake “I don’t know what you’re talk-“ you looked back at the water and now it looked different, black and bleak and oozing it was repulsive. You were sure it was crystal clear just now. What was up with this place?

The old woman took your arm, “You see?”. You did see and you stared and shuddered at the thought of what might have happened if she hadn’t been there. You were suddenly calmer now , the desperation passed over.

A long sigh left you, it seemed like just when you were on top, you were getting yourself into trouble.

You collected your jacket, cloak and bag.“Thanks… thank you” you said hearing your elevated pulse in your ears, “I don’t know what came over me back there, I should have seen that coming”.

She nodded, large hoop earrings jangling. She looked like a peasant wearing a long robe under her shawl that showed only her muddy bare feet.

“It’s dark magic, dear, it’s enough to draw anyone in if they aren’t familiar. Come! You’re shivering”

She waved you over to what looked like a make-shift camp, a stove and fire, a cloth tent.  It was certainly colder now that the sun had gone.

You may as well join her, all thoughts of sleep and resting had long gone now.

“Please, sit down” she offered. You sat opposite her now on a crumbling willow log. You couldn’t help but notice the large basket of bright intoxicating roses of all colours at her feet. You stared at them.

She noticed, following your eyes, half-smiling.

“I sell them in the market sometimes, would you like one?” she picked up a honey gold rose and held it out to you.

 Yes, you did.

 More desperately than you’d ever wanted anything else in your life, more than the lake.

You looked at it hesitantly in the old woman’s withered hands. Hoggle’s explanation drifted into your mind “when you take gifts from fae it means that you owe them back whatever they want

Never accept faerie gifts.

You didn’t think she was fae as such, but still you stuck to your guns, after all it was this exact mistake that got you here in the first place!

But it looks so bright and alluring- like it could be made of solid gold.

You shook yourself resisting the urge and looking away from the rose. You didn’t need that debt, especially not in here.

But you really wanted to look at that rose, just for a minute longer. You reached out your fingers. But…

“I’m sorry, I can’t take this, it’s too pretty and I might lose it” the lie rolled off your tongue you forced your eyes to stare at the grassy floor.

“Ah, no worries child,” The old woman nodded and winked, drawing the rose back to place on the pile in the basket “I can tell you’re a smart one, not accepting things from strangers”

You had to laugh at that, the irony, you smiled at her. “Not as smart as you think, I, uh did- accept something. That’s kind of why I’m here”

But it feels so long ago…I’m a different person now.

Her green eyes widened “you’re not from here, are you?” she rolled them over you like she was searching inside you for something “but you look magical, why, you could be fae, or elven at least with that skin!” .

You smiled, “Maybe I am”, relaxing a little and blushed at the compliment although you hadn’t the faintest idea what eleven skin looked like.

The wind blew harsher and you decided to enjoy the only bit or real company you’ve had since you’ve been here.

“I take it you don’t have many human visitors here then?” 

The peasant woman was checking something nestled in a pot resting on the fire. She looked thoughtful for a second. “Not often no…we fae always sense when they’re here”

She looked pointedly at you to which you both grinned.

“you folk are always getting yourselves into trouble one way or another in here” her smile pulled back her mouth to reveal some blackened teeth. “Have you eaten my dear? You look quite peaky”

It was at that moment your stomach rumbled loudly as if on cue, and you remembered you hadn’t eaten since this morning, before school, just like any other day, hours before your life was turned upside down. Forever.

She handed you some food using large leaf for a plate. “It ain’t much, but it’ll keep you going, especially if you want to win the labyrinth”

"Oh goodness!" You accepted the food gratefully.

You couldn’t be sure what it was but it seemed like an imitation of a meat pie that you got back home.  It was golden brown and warm, just bigger than your hands put together and you didn’t give a shit what the meat was, you never knew when you’d have your next meal, especially if you lost. You could be doomed to live in a dungeon with scraps for the rest of your life. You shuddered at the thought.

“Thank you, again, it looks like I seriously owe you when I get out of here- ” You took a large bite, so pleased that it tasted so delicious, it was the best thing you’d tasted in a while like something you’d get on Christmas day, stuffing maybe?

“Oh, wait I don’t even know you’re name!” you said mouth half full, embarrassed at your rudeness.

She waved her hand “never you mind about payments an’ all, but if you must know, it’s Sage, and you are…?”

“Sloane” you shook hands, gulping the food down “Sloane Hazel”

“A sweet name,” Sage nodded “the ‘little raider’ “ . You nodded, wiping your mouth.

She turned back momentarily to her make-shift stove. You willed yourself to look away the lake in the distance in case in ensnared you again, choosing instead to gaze at the stars above you, they stood out so brightly against the now black sky. You were grateful for the fire’s light otherwise you might be afraid or the dark especially had you been alone.

It was beginning to turn bitterly cold; you unravelled the cloak much to your displeasure of even needing it, but your jacket alone wouldn’t be enough.

You studied its unique beauty in your fingers before whirling it around your shoulders and threading the button through.

 It was heavy and snug, shielding you completely from the night-air chill. It was big enough to wrap around you completely almost like a blanket.

The cloak was around your shoulders and jaw, you couldn’t help but inhale the woozy scent of wood and roasted chestnuts emanating from it. It smelt of him. You drew it to your face closer intoxicated by the sweetness of forest smells. 

“Ah, what a pretty cloak you have!” Sage admired it tenderly and you felt a little bad that she herself had nothing to keep the cold out but perhaps she didn’t need the protection…magic and all that…

“Wherever did you find such a fancy thing?”


“Oh, just an… associate of mine…gave it to me” you shrugged, you didn’t bother to divulge -not that you wanted to.

“I see” she didn’t pry noticing your retreat.

She was watching over the fire “you also realise, my dear, that once the labyrinth is won, you can never return here again, so you couldn’t repay me an’ all?”

You shook your head, taking another bite, almost finished already! “why’s that?” you asked curiously although you felt like breathing a sigh of relief at the thought.

“It’s the rules, the king made” she stirred at what smelt like spicy soup. Your mouth watered a little at it.

The king” you repeated, kicking at a rock by your foot.

You sighed. There was still that problem.

Sage carefully extracted two helpings of soup to a wooden bowl.

“Ah, well acquainted with his majesty then” she read your face, handing you the piping hot bowl and a spoon.

“I guess you could say that” You blew at the soup, stirring it thoughtfully, suddenly gone off your appetite.

She made a small ‘hmmf‘ acknowledging your change in tone. “Am I right in thinking that it’s because of his majesty that you’re here?”

You nodded but then shrugged, holding your arms “it was my own fault really” you admitted sheepishly, ducking your head. Something in her expression made you turn away to stare at the willows under the papery moon.

Sage patted your knee, seating herself across from you “it’s tough, winding up in a place like this alone, but you’ll see, King Jareth can be cruel- but he can be reasonable”

He had been anything but reasonable so far, that cheating, alluring, bastard. 

Sage gestured to your elaborate cloak “he gave you that, didn’t he?”

You looked down at it, its grandness and you softened a little.

It certainly wasn’t an old rag he’d thrown at you. He’d chosen it especially, he’d known even in your jacket you’d freeze to death in the night. It was a selfless act, sure.

Sage served herself the soup. “He must care for you then a lil’ surely” she suggested her croaky voice grating on you.

You pressed your mouth in a line, knowing that she was right, but so what? It didn’t make his actions magically alright.

Sage tutted shaking her head, her large earrings tinkled against her hidden dark hair under the shawl “he has a good heart in him somewhere, though few see it”

“You know him?” you asked pricking up a little.

Sage made a so-so gesture “everyone knows the king,” she seated herself “but few wish to cross his majesty. You follow?

The words ‘bog’ and ‘eternal stench’ sprang to mind.

You nodded. Sage sighed setting down her own bowl to cool. “His majesty is a good king that is certain, but there is troubling inside him-“ Sage noted your empty bowl “oh you’ve finished your soup!”

Your cheeks went a little red. You were still hungry.

“Here, you may as well finish it” she plucked your bowl filling it once again to the brim.

You looked at her a little guilty “are you sure Sage? I don’t mind, promise, you’ve already done so much” you offered it back, but she shook her head firmly.

“You need the energy dear”.

You were so glad she said that and immediately tucked it.

“Good?” Sage laughed watching your eagerness.

“Very good!” you took another sip. You wondered if it would be rude to drink from the bowl.

You thought about what Sage said.

 Okay, yes, he gave you a coat of his, but he stole you from your home right under your nose and not to mention his switching arsehole/ flirty attitude you couldn’t keep up with. Jareth was making you feel things you didn’t want to think about, you couldn’t go on second guessing yourself like this forever.

When you won the Labyrinth and left for good, would you miss him, after everything? Would you?  You were being tricked into thinking you had feelings, you didn’t, you just hungered for the attention he gave. Ugh it was too much.

You didn’t want to think of him anymore so instead you said “you made this?” pointing to the soup with your spoon.

“Made it myself, yes siree”

“It’s amazing I've never tasted anything like this”

You lifted the spoon to your lips blowing.

Even the vegetation tasted better in the Underground. Maybe living here wouldn’t be so bad after all. You shook your head. Where had that come from?

Sip.

Thoughts turning over in your mind.

Sip.

Something she said earlier….

You spooned the warm soup in your mouth, feeling better already but something was nagging at you.

“Hey, Sage, how did you know I was running the labyrinth?” you look back at her, but your eyes swim a little...You felt like you were drunk…Must be… tired. You were… ever so tired.

“Eat the soup dear” Sage said cheerily. You took another sip, one away from finishing it, but you tried to stand and leave.

Something was off.

“I -I need to lie down” you couldn’t say why, but you had a strong desire to sleep.

“Sage?” you tried to see through the blur.

You looked down at the bowl throwing it as if it burnt you.

There was very something wrong with this soup

Sage what have you done!”  you cried looking around for her helplessly.

She was gone.

You stumble to a nearby tree to hold it and steady your wavering self, your vision blurred in and out. You felt your knees buckle and dropped to the floor, the cloak engulfing your body.

Chapter Text

gif david bowie labyrinth jim henson 1986 eighties goblin king cult classic Jareth cult following 80s film 80s fantasy

Hosting Your First Baby Shower, As Told Perfectly in GIFs

Jareth draped himself on the window ledge, overlooking the kingdom stretched out before him, collecting each crystal from one hand and blowing them into delicate bubbles one by one, watching them float into the distance towards you.

_*_

You expected to clatter to the earth beneath you, but you landed in strong arms and a kind, familiar face peering down at you.

You” you mumbled, becoming more aware of your surroundings. The man guided you to stand gently against him, you felt drowsy with sleep. You rubbed your eyes groggily, beginning to recognise him at the back of your mind.

Something told you that you felt like you should be angry with him, deeply, but you couldn’t think why as you held eye-contact. You blinked at him trying to remember…something. The feel of his hands on you were clouding your thoughts.

You glanced away briefly to see if you could work out who he was by where you were.

The room was illuminated by crystal white lighting. A grand ballroom, everything champagne, salmon pinks and ice coloured, silky gold streamers and chandeliers hung from the grand ceiling it was all so breathtakingly beautiful. The masses below twirled in pairs in perfect, creepy unison.

_*_

Beside him, you gasped, covering your hand over your mouth, clearly recognising this scene well. You were standing upright by yourself now, stronger.

You laughed loudly clutching his shoulder looking from the balcony to the dancers below. Jareth watched your delight fondly, the way your eyes lit up, your smile.

_*_

My dream” you smiled brightly under the chandelier’s crystal light “I’m in my wonderful dream!” you laughed looking down at yourself and yes there it was the dress. Your dress. Your hands flew to your hair, feeling it pinned up in places, the annoying strays were back, framing your face delicately. 

You could have been Cinderella herself. 

The man who caught you had vanished from your side.

You looked around you but he was nowhere. Your stomach dropped, where was he? You wanted him to come back so badly. How could he leave?

How do you like games?” a rich voice murmured, entering your mind

You frowned “I’ve never been a fan” you answered back in your head.

Your heels clicked with every footstep down the grand staircase. When you got to the end you swept to the crowd immediately. You knew what you were looking for, who you were looking for. You just let your feet wander pushing and squirming through the crowd. You felt like a magnet was pulling you in.

Collecting the silky puffy dress in your hands, you turned this way and that just searching, desperately searching. You pushed through the masses, feeling an invisible force graze your shoulders, navigating you towards something.

You flickered your eyes from figure to figure trying to spot his face in the crowd of bizarre masks, the laughing and leering around you seemed to get louder.

You felt a soft hand graze your forearm, tug at your hair, a fleeting graze on your waist, but when you swivelled around every teasing contact the force was nowhere to be seen. Was he playing with you?

When basic b*tches approach you. 25 Perfect GIF Reactions From Jareth From "Labyrinth"

You lowered your eyes to the floor feeling hopeless but then flicked them up to see him striding towards you, almost parting the crowd like the Red Sea. It wasn't hard to see why, he stood out from them, like a beacon of light held to the shadows. He breezed past the leers and outstretched hands, eyes focusing on you only, despite the hundreds in the room. 

He was so gorgeous, so benevolent. More so than you'd ever seen.  

Your heart was stammering in your chest as he got closer, under the trained eyes. 

“Goblin King” you murmured so only he could hear, standing directly in front of him.

_*_

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Jareth waited for you to run away, to recoil or curse him.

You did none of these, but instead said stood plainly before him.

 “Dance with me,” he commanded taking you by the hand “pretend that everything else doesn’t exist for a while”

 

-*-

You looked between his poker face and the gloved hand entwined with yours. You nodded with a smile, shyly at first but then as you were whirled into his arms you began to relax, the butterflies subsiding. You slid your arm up to cup his shoulder seemingly on auto-pilot.

This is exactly how you'd dreamt it, for what felt like the thousandth time, but this was sacred.  

You could feel his voice’s vibrations as the Goblin King sang with the music, quietly at first and then a few words that were by your ear making your skin tingle then to singing aloud.

wasn’t too much fun at all, but I’ll be there for you…”

You rested your head against the crook of his shoulder not caring how he would react anymore. It just felt right. You briefly closed your eyes, lulled by his gentle hold, so at peace in this moment. There was that woozy scent emanating from him again, like you had inhaled from the cloak earlier. 

His chin came to rest on the crown of your head.

“You remember now, don’t you?” the Goblin King murmured into your hair “remember this dream I created for you, how happy I made you”

You nodded, eyes still closed, resting against him, because you did. You remembered waking up every morning missing this exact moment, the one, it seemed, you were throwing away.

“You needn't run from me” Jareth murmured, holding you as close and snug as possible by his arm around your back as if you might suddenly vanish from him again. His sudden confident tone change put you on edge.  

“I don’t -want to” you forced out letting your fingers fiddle with the ruffles on his collar, your hold on his shoulder with the other hand loosened. 

You tried to put the fragmented pieces together in your mind. Why were you running? Was it from him or something else? There was a reason. You just needed to remember.

“I just…something to do with a book, and my…life…”

_*_

It was apparent that you could sense something was wrong. He felt you tense up against him. 

You lifted your head from his shoulder to look at him, withdrawing from the embrace slightly. Your large round eyes…they swelled with anguish, you looked hurt. 

_*_

The Goblin King looked like he wanted to say something but the grand clock behind his ear chimed the 6th hour. With every toll the fabrication of this world began to waver.

The time! How had so much time passed!

You let go of him immediately as if he burnt you and rushed to the clock.

You had to wake up, wherever you were you had to leave.

You could see your reflection in one of the walls it curved like you were inside a bubble. Wake up, Sloane, wake up! You willed yourself.

Your eyes glanced for something to smash the bubble with and landed on a chair. You picked it up, your arms were beginning to feel heavy and drowsy and smashed it again and again at the reflection, willing the pieces to tumble down.

_*_

The spell was broken.

The Goblin King kept his eyes ahead where he had just been looking at you. He was frozen to the spot, hands still out where they had been embracing you a second ago. They lowered slowly, his tranquil expression crushed.

_*_


You lifted the chair to swing again, one more should do it. 

Jareth was beside you, you saw in the cracked reflection. You veered your head only slightly, unable to come face to face with him properly.

It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real. You chanted in your head.

The Goblin King lowered the chair in your hands, momentarily begging you with his expression to look in his direction. 

The realism of his touch began to fade as he brushed his gloved hand against your cheek.

You lifted the chair without looking at him and swung once more, hearing the glass burst .

You fell.

_*_

You were floating, your hair sticking out behind you as well as the cloak , which acted like a parachute. You dare not touch the bubble walls. You had your arms up covering your face, scared it would suddenly pop .

When nothing happened you let your arms drop cautiously.

The bubble slows until it stops, the light emitting from it allowed you to see a dusty ground beneath you, thank god. You lightly kicked the bubble, bracing yourself. It popped easily and you landed lightly on your feet.

 “Oof”.

_*_

You woke with a start, lying against something uncomfortable digging into your back. You groggily peered down at yourself, checking for injuries. You were seemingly okay and back in your own clothes, thank god. You tried to sit up loudly wincing at the pain in your shoulders and back.

Your eyes fluttered open.

“What was I doing?” you clambered down from the heap of junk you had been stiffly lying against.  You tied the cloak around your neck further, like it would act as protection.

Ah! Get off my back!”

You leapt off, seeing the mound you had stood on shift as an ancient scruffy old woman turned promptly revealing a worn and pinched face

“why don’t ya look where you’re going young woman! Hmmm?”


“I…was looking” you mumbled dazed neither to her or yourself. 

“huh?  huh? and where are ya going hmm?” you climbed around various heaps of junk, rocking horses, bicycles, furniture. Was this where you were supposed to be? Perhaps...

“I don’t remember “

“Ya can’t look where ya going if ya don’t know where ya going”

“I was searching for something” maybe it was in here- the thing you were searching for. 


“Well look here! Hmmm!” her grubby hand raised to show you what she was clasping.  You accepted the small circular porcelain box into your hands.

 You flicked the clasp off, watching the lid rise and reveal two dancers inside, twirling around and around together to the tinned melody of a song you felt you knew.

You held it curiously, mulling over the thought that you should know this object somehow.

“thank you” you held it to your chest, relaxing

“that’s what you were looking for wasn’t it, my dear?”

“…yes. I forgot” you smiled down at the trinket closing the lid.


“now why don’t ya come in here and see if there’s anything else ya’d like” she ducked down under the hoard and chuckled.

You whipped back the tent curtain tailing behind her.

A bedroom.

Your bedroom?

You whirled around, looking up and around admiringly before flopping on the bed. 

You lie back for a minute, clutching the music box to your chest . And then sit up promptly. 

“It was just a dream!” you looked around propping yourself up by your elbows.

It… wasn’t real. The Goblin King wasn’t real.  You'd read the silly book and fallen asleep! What an intense dream!

 

 “I dreamed it all, Moore” you said sadly to the bird who was no doubt home by now, sitting in his scarf nest as usual. 

“But it was so real, I dreamed that you were a man and you…I felt…” you sighed. "better see if Kari and Brian are home now" you’d completely forgotten do to the things Kari had said. Did you have assignments due? You thought you did. Great. Another 2am marathon.

You left the music box on your bed. You cross the room to open your bedroom door. "Is anyone ho-"

The wind catches the door, throwing it open. The Junk Yard was still outside, the sky bleached orange and scratched with angry, black clouds.

It was still here! The Labyrinth!

The Junk lady burst through the door “Better to stay in here, dear, yes! There’s nothing ya want out there, no! oh-ho-ho-no!” she gave a coo "Ooh now what have we got here?”

You shut the door behind her thudding against it.

“Oh look! Ya paints! Ya love your pretty paints don’t ya! Yes, yes there you go! Oooh!”

You took the paints she shoved into your hands, your mouth gaping open but no sound coming out.

“now then what else have we got, let’s see!”

The Junky Lady twisted around so that her heavy load of items strung to her back brushed the ceiling. Her nimble fingers snatching something from your desk “Oooh your pencil box- got lots of pencils and oohh-“


You slumped onto your stool.

“Here’s your camera! Ya know how much you like your camera – you never wanted that far away did ya? There is it! Okay! Now then what else!”

The hunch-back admired your lipstick handing it to you “now go on make yourself up like the very grown up lady you are!”


Kari’s words echoed in your head “maybe- we need –a chat, about growing up – for one

You were struggling to hold all of the items in your hands, barely able to see your reflection in the vanity mirror.

“There was something else I was looking for” you murmured to yourself 

She scoffed at you “don’t talk nonsense – it’s all here! Everything in the world you’ve ever cared about is all right here! Look here-”

A rectangular red object catches your eye , you clumsily grab the book, flipping over the pages , remember dammit! Remember what you forgot! You scanned the pages.

Dangers untold, hardships unnumbered…I’ve fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city…to take back…the freedom you have stolen…” you raised your head staring directly at yourself in the mirror.

The Junk Lady narrowed her eyes from behind you. “What’s the matter dear, don’t you like your things?”

You looked down at yourself, covered in your objects, “it’s all junk!”

“Huh, uh well, w- what about this !” the junk lady waved it “this is not junk!”

You accepted the rectangular object pushed into your hand.

You held the Walkman, turning it over in your hands so that the polished plastic shimmered under the light. You knew it wasn’t yours. Because yours had busted.

yes it is!” you threw it at the mirror and it splintered , the walls and ceiling collapsed and crumbled around you “I have to get to the castle!” you yelled, pulling down the walls so you could climb out back to the junkyard.

You climbed out standing on the piles of junk. You could see the entrance to the Goblin City and began to scurry towards it but your foot was sinking into the piles like sinking sand.

“Augh! Help! Help!"

Shit. You ran your hand through your hair. You’d need a miracle to get through here now. You tried to cling onto the surface and pull yourself up “Hoggle! Help! Someone help!” you sank quicker. “Hoggle !”

_*_

He threw his hands up dismissively, signifying he had firmly washed them of you.

Huh! Humans! Girls! Human girls! He passed the stone mumbling curses to himself.

He stopped in his tracks at the sound of your cries. “Hang on Sloane, I’m coming!” he turned on his heel to rush back the way he had came.

The Goblin King appeared in front of him. Hoggle gulped.

“Well, if it isn’t you” The Goblin King leant against the stone in front of him, hands behind his back “And, uh, where- are you- going?” he leaned forward emphasising each word.

Hoggle spluttered “uh, um, well I gave the little lady the slip like you told me to- I was uh, just checkin’ she hadn’t followed me back or nuttin’ ”

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The Goblin King pushed himself off the rock. He bobbed his head “I see”  looked around the isolated scene airily “for one moment I thought you were running to help her but, uh, no, not after my warnings, that would be stupid” he tilted his head at Hoggle pointedly .

Hoggle waved his hand “oh-ho you bet it would! Me? Help her after your warnings?” he doubled over with an over-the-top uproar of laughter turning around only to come face to face with the Goblin King who crouched in front of him cynically “ooh!”

“Oh dear, poor Hoghead-”

Hoggle

“I’ve just noticed your lovely jewels are missing” the Goblin King held his shoulder with false empathy.

“Uh…Oh yes, so they are, my lovely jewels…missing- ” Hoggle laughed nervously pretending to search himself for his bag “I’ll have to find them “

“That you will, but I’m not finished with you yet, Hogspew you see, I have one more plan in mind for you” the king grinned mischievously.

“Wh-what? This ain’t to do with the girl is it- I quit!”

“Oh Higgle, I sincerely doubt it-” the King seized his ear causing Hoggle to cry out. “you’ll do it or so help me gods, I’ll tip you straight in the bog!” he hissed to the dwarf.

Hoggle tried to swerve the King “but she’s- bright, she’ll never- listen t’ me!” he pointed out, squirming under the burning grasp.

Between the wincing, Hoggle thought he had seen something flash across the king’s face, something he did not recognise on him. “That she is, Hattle, that she is, but she is also fair of heart, she will trust again”

He leaned forward to Hoggle his voice dangerously light. “You’ll do exactly as I say...”

 

Chapter Text

_*_

Chapter 12: White Knuckles

 

Help !” You cried thrashing the ground with your fists, unable to feel your feet anymore. A figure appeared over a heap in front of you, wading towards you through the junk . You squinted still trying to free yourself.

 “Oh Hoggle!” You cried relief flooding through you “thank god you’re here- I’m sinking! I’m running out of time!”

“Sloane!” He called, hand shielding his eyes to squint at you “hang on , I’ll get y’ out! “ he ducked behind a heap and you heard him curse as he shifted through the mess until he reappeared .

“Here take this!” He threw you a skipping rope with you held tight in two hands. Hoggle tied the other end to a large chair, and heaved with all his might . By some miracle you felt yourself actually freeing. “It’s working!” you cried able to move your feet and squirm out the rest of the way.

You climbed a top, chest heaving with effort. You sat up throwing your arms around his neck “ Hoggle I’m so glad you decided to come back” you gave him a squeeze “I knew you wouldn’t abandon me!”  you gave a giggle “you were right about me from the beginning, getting into trouble I mean”.

He tried to smile but he looked uncomfortable “Sloane I-“

“Oh wait!” You slung his bag off your shoulders thrusting it at him “I’m so sorry I took them! Hoggle, will forgive me?”

“Of-of course I do!” his voice wavered, forgetting how sweet and innocent you could be. You both tried to balance yourselves uneasily on the unsteady ground.

“I have to get to the castle! I’m almost out of time!” You tugged him along in the direction of the castle but he pulled back.

“W-wait”

You paused, half turning so your hair swished "yes?" you tipped up a smile. 

Hoggle wrung his hands “Actually I – I know a faster way, through, uh, a tunnel”

"Really?" Your face lit up “Well come on then what are we waiting for!” 

The dwarf gestured you to follow him and you did so blindly stomping through the swap of brick-a-brack and nick-nacks. You held Hoggle’s forearm to half steady yourself.

You both jumped down from the junk yard’s wall. You scanned the surroundings, “Hoggle how much further is this short cut? I can’t even see the castle anymore” you whined. You could feel your calves throbbing.

He tried to keep his voice upbeat and jovial “Nearly there, just follow me!”

Hoggle lead the way meandering, between trees and shrubbery.

“This way”

When your feet crossed over yellow sandstone you paused wrinkling your nose “Hoggle you’ve taken me backwards! We’ve gone in a loop!”

“We’re here, Sloane, look” he pointed to a drain in the cobbles. Where had that come from, you hadn’t seen when you were here last- your journey would have been a whole lot quicker if  you had!

“This is the short cut?” you didn’t like the idea of going beneath the ground again “a-are you sure?”

“It’s the best way!” Hoggle’s voice sounded hoarse and forced but he knew the Labyrinth far better than you, you’d have to take his word as gospel.

Reluctantly, the dwarf wraps his fingers around the metal gaps and lifted the lid, you half expect something to jump out. Smoke and fog rose from the drain. Let’s get this over with.

Hoggle was looking down “uh, maybe you should go first”

You grinned “Hoggle, you scaredy cat” .

You hovered over the hole, peering in with your hand shielded over your eyes “I can’t see any ladders, will we have to jump? It doesn’t look that fa-“

You felt two small hands on your back as Hoggle pushed you and you reeled forwards, feet pivoting almost in mid -air “Hoggle !” you cried, losing your footing partly to the leaden cloak and vanishing from sight into the drain.

“I’m sorry! Ja-“ before the light disappeared all together.

“Agghhh!” You reached out towards the diminishing light. “Hoggggle!”

You flew down , grasping onto what you thought was tree branches. Twirling down, down at the hyper speed, screaming.

“Help! Hoggggle!” you hollered gasping for air.

You felt something grasp you, then lots of things. Your falling ceased.

Hands!

“Stop it!” you screeched, tearing yourself from their tight grasp.  “Heeelllp!” you cried upwards

The hands, gnarled, skeletal and pepper-minted slimy green made “faces” talking “what do you mean help?” they drooled “we are helping!”

We’re helping hands!”

“You’re hurting” you winced, fighting the iron grips

 “would you like us to let GO?” 

They chortled echoing and dropped their hold on your arms and legs so you flew down without warning “ahhh! No! Stop stop ! Catch me!”

Well then, come on, which way?” One “face” said with a long nose  

“Which way?” you frowned not understanding.

 “Up or down?

“Oh” you tried to peer down into the darkness “uh…”


Come, come on, we haven’t got all day


Well it’s a big decision for her!” another cut in with a croaky voice

i-mockery-labyrinth-helping-hands-sarah-jareth.gif (500×213)

Which way do you want to go!”

Hmm?”


Yes, which way!”

You tried to think rationally, as rationally as you could with five pairs of hands shouting at you for an answer.


“Well” you exhaled trying to regain breath as well as your thoughts.  You snapped your head up but then down again nodding below you “since I’m pointing that way,"  you looked at Helping Hand-Face beside you “I guess I’ll go down”

They cackled,

 “SHE CHOSE DOWNNN

SHE CHOSE DOWN?” 

They passed you down rapidly before you could change your mind, you hair whirled behind you  ”Is that wrong!?”

Too late nowww”

“Hahhhhahaha

 “Wait!” You took a sharp intake of breath hearing the laughter echo all around you as you zipped into the blackness.

The helping hands released you and you slashed through cobwebs to fall on your knees. You snapped your head up in the light, the voices and wailing trailing behind you. You heard the clang of the replaced lid of the hole you had fallen through.

_*_

Image result for labyrinth gifs shes in the oubliette


“She’s in the oubliette” Jareth said half to himself . So the dwarf wasn't totally useless after all.

 

The goblins gathered around him on his throne to also observe your actions in the crystal intensely. They gave an uproar of cheer.

“Shut up!” He sighed at the goblins hubbub “she should give up now” the Goblin King said confidently.

“She’ll never give up” one piped up closest to him in a scratchy voice.

“Won’t she?” He lowered the crystal momentarily, banishing your image.

“she’s about to go back to the beginning- she’ll soon give up, when she realises she’ll have to start all over again ” he roared with laugter at the thought.

The Goblins were silent in confusion, trying to work out the punchline. For gods’ sake.

“Well? Laugh then” he rolled his eyes at the dumbfounded creatures. They did so, feeding him further rejoice.

He threw the crystal orb, laughing more.

Image result for labyrinth gifs well laugh

_*_

You dusted yourself down looking up and down the tunnel. It was incredibly dark bar the light from the drain. 

You were going in circles, no further to the castle. Up, down , up, down not one inch nearer and those hours were trickling away. Time was incredibly short.

But Hoggle ensured you this would lead you straight to the castle. But Hoggle was gone, he betrayed  you, again, how could you trust that it wouldn’t lead you somewhere sinister. You were alone. Back to square one.

What choice do you have?

Your footsteps thudded, it was incredibly difficult to see, the darkness showing no end to this tunnel.  You hoped this wouldn’t be a repeated episode of the never -ending path. You had no worm to help you now.

“Spare a coin?” You jumped at the croaky voice below you looking down.  A beggar in a hat and shroud, sat stiffly against the wall of the tunnel. Their head bent so you couldn't see their face but held out a tin cup. You hadn’t even considered how he got here in the first place.

You found your voice.

“oh, sorry” you turned out your pockets.” I don’t have any money- I’m not from round here” . Dammit you’d given Hoggle’s bag back!

You felt a little bad but then a thought popped into your head; like the Wiseman, maybe if you gave him some of your jewellery he would point you in the right direction at least, without Hoggle you were lost.

“How about this?”  you hurriedly took of the beautiful bangle to show the beggar. It was your first gift from the bird, but you had nothing else to spare. 

 “Yours. If you point me in the right direction. To the castle” you held out the piece in the palm of your hand.

The shimmering blue and golds inside the stone reminded you of it's beauty, you hadn't even given it up to the Wiseman, but you were more desperate now.

The beggar leaned in to inspect it closer, carefully took the bangle in its hand and then without warning snatched your wrist.

“hey!” you struggled, leaping back “let me go!” the beggar stood and grew in height towering over you, whipping off his hat and coat to reveal-

“Well well, what do we have here?”

The Goblin King smirked, hand on his hip- knowing he'd caught you out. 

“Release me goblin king!” you twisted much to his delight.

“And what exactly were you doing, hmm?”  he leaned in.

“Nothing! I was doing nothing!” but you knew you'd been caught red handed. Fuck.

He threw down your wrist.

“Nothing? Nothing ? Tra la la !”  

He conjured an orb snaking it across his long fingers. You hated that glass ball- you thought about knocking it out of his hands as well as wiping off that bloody expression.

 “It looked to me like somebody was cheating” the Goblin King’s eyes burned “that’s two strikes down, Sloane, you may as well quit now. You’ve become quite daring in my absence, I see” he teased . If not for his arrogant leer, you might have been glad to see him again.

You watched the tally in the orb cross down another line. One remaining. If stepped out of line again- Game over.

“No!” you protested straining yourself not to punch him in that smug mouth “you provoked me! Again! This is all because of you! It’s not-

“Fair?” he quirked an eyebrow gleefully. He was enjoying tormenting you. “You say that oh- so often you know. Besides, cheating means you really should be disqualified, and you know that means I win...”

You shut up at that.

The Goblin King smirked. “No- one insults the crown without repercussions.”

“Except me.” you dared but then wished you hadn't. Shut your mouth!

He chuckled softly at that.

Jareth put his hands behind his back, stepping forward, properly emerging into the light that leaked from the drain above. In this light he almost looked... angelic. You flash backed to the ballroom haze. You shook yourself. Concentrate.

 

“How are you enjoying my labyrinth” he leans against the wall coolly his arm blocking you in, towering over you. You didn't feel frightened, in fact this made you feel extremely... What?

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You heard him chuckle a little and you saw he was reading your face- apparently he'd deduced something wonderful.

You lifted your chin higher.

“Easy as pie” you said nonchalantly. “I’ll be home in an hour, so you should really be saying your goodbyes” you tried to skirt around him but his quick reflexes enabled him to stick an arm out and stop you.

 “uh uh ah!” he tsked. “home you say?”  he smiled and tilted his head like he knew something you didn't . “Is that so?”

yes” you made a move but no matter what he wouldn’t let you past.

“see, I don’t think Miss Hazel, that you even want to go home at all” he inspected his nails casually and you darted around him, blocking out his cutting words.

 “oh you can run” he called “but you won't get far. Not down here'.

You stopped in your tracks. Did he have that power? To change the Labyrinth even down here. 

You turned back but he was gone and instead standing in front if you.

“This labyrinth is mine to alternate” he murmured backing you to the wall “to -control” he gave you a meaningful look.

You cleared your throat, watching your footing as you stepped back, the more he pushed forward “Then-then it sounds to me like you're the one who’s cheating”

Jareth slide his arm up further along the wall, having you completely blocked in.

Why the hell was your body starting to react to this? There was a distinct heat building up in your core and your heart was hammering wildly. Were you actually enjoying this power struggle?

“well if it’s so easy then you'll have no trouble still” he countered.

You were about go ask him what exactly he meant when he threw the crystal sphere into the dark end of the tunnel where you couldn’t be sure how far it went. You strained your ears to hear if it would bounce or smash to smithereens but you heard nothing.

"what - what are you doing " you wavered uneasily, the ominousness creeping up you "Goblin King what was that" you asked louder again peering over his shoulder into the darkness.

The king faced you again with a grin that looked the cat who just caught the mouse. "why, serving you the pie of course" and he vanished.

You spun to see where he'd gone.

"Jareth? Jareth! I wasn’t serious!" but he was nowhere and out of earshot.  You kicked the wall in frustration.  Why did he always leave! The coward!

You crouched back sliding down the wall until you sat on the cool stone with a thud.  Damn him and his evil, beautiful face!

You remembered his gloved fingertips touch your cheek in the ballroom dream. You touched it now like a flower might blossom, or a nettle.

You really were so susceptible to him.

You hated yourself for even admitting that, after this entire battle of running from him. Like you were betraying...yourself? You remembered the hurt look on his face when you left him, alone in the dream, was that real too?  

You sighed- you and your mouth determined to goad him! You could be finished by now and home. If you even still wanted to go home that was...

It was then you heard a small noise- coming from the end of the tunnel...you felt your pulse spike in the palms of your hands. You rose gravely. Whatever it was didn't sound good.

In the limited light teeming through the grates of the drain, you saw the glint of metal. Then more metal until it burst through the darkness completely, a machine of some sort, spiralling in motion and steaming towards you, the irregular blades glinted. It whirred noisily.


Run. That was the only thing you could think.

You took off immediately running with your hands over your ears. The machine thumped it seemed to thrum right through your body and made the path harder to run down but it didn’t matter you had to keep going.

Faster, faster. You willed yourself. "Goblin King!" you yelled over the noise of the machine "you stop this right now!" 

You dodged every odd brick and cob web ducking at the uneven ceiling hoping to god an exit or ladder would be close by. There must be one here, not everything was as it seemed, surely there would be a false wall here somewhere!

Stupidly, you dared yourself to look over your shoulder.

It was right behind you! It seemed to be speeding up, the needle would soon impale you if slowed.Your anger turned into fear quickly.

"Goblin King I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to cheat you!" you cried picking up the pace with all you could, willing Jareth to see sense and call it off now that his ego was stroked.

"Please stop this!"

Still the machine chased you down, your lungs were burning you knew you couldn't go on much longer. You panted heavily, watching your footing but you looked back once more and stumble, clattering to the cobblestone.

“Agh!" you hit your elbows and knees squarely so they stung viciously .

The machine gained on you. You scrambled to your feet tripping over yourself again, but you willed yourself on, off balance. Your right knee was throbbing something wicked.

"Please !" you yelled

You were able to see the dead end of the oubliette a meter ahead. You were going to be obliterated- you were about to die all because you couldn't keep your mouth shut!

You knew you were beginning to slow.

"Goblin King!"

You reached the daunting end brick wall and slammed your hands on it -maybe it was a false wall! Come on come on!  You smacked your palms against the stone until you could feel them tear and bleed. 

You pounded harder, tears skiing down your face, willing the wall to collapse. You jumped up and down hammering your hands harder and harder.

"Scrrrshhhhh"

You spun quickly.

The machine was coming right at you. It wasn’t going to stop.

You tried the opposite walls but nothing would give. This was it.

"Sshcceee!"

You crouched down with your arms over your head squeezing your eyes shut and begged it would be swift and wouldn’t hurt. The floor rumbled under the speed of the cleaner and you screamed helplessly sobbing.

You heard a swoosh, an arm held you closely to a warm body under its wing. You jumped at the contact expecting to be impaled.

You peaked between your arms, still over your head, to see a cape swish over you in protection, transporting you behind the machine.

From safely behind, you watched, panting heavily as the machine charge into the brick wall, not even stopping on impact, it powered on.

You coughed at the dust rising, bricks crumbled down...

That should have been you. 

_*_

 

Jareth whipped the cape back, safely behind the cleaner.

“Sloane! Are you alright ?" he was kneeling with you, concern etched across his face.

He tilted your head this way and that to check for injuries and then felt along your windpipe, thankfully you seemed to be unharmed, but that was close.

Jareth wrapped you in a relieved embrace, holding you so tight and close, afraid you would suddenly vanish.

His hand cupped the back of your head whilst you sat dazed across his lap. He could feel your thudding pulse in your clammy palms that splayed across his chest.

That was so ,so close. He began to rock you. Too close. Never again. No more mind games.

_*_

You took deep, gasping breaths - chest heaving with the effort.

You could hear a muffled voice at the back of your mind as you wavered in and out. You feel disorientated.

"my sweet, please look at me” you drew back to face the saviour you needed to thank.

Two thin gloved hands held your head delicately.

 "Jareth" you blinked staring straight into his face. He’d save you. He gave a touched smile at your use of his name- for the first time no less.

You reached out shakily to touch his jaw in a trance...

"am I dead?" you looked around with your eyelids drooping slightly.  You didn’t think the after-life would look like the dismal oubliette. Maybe you were a spirit? Doomed to haunt the tunnel forever.

He said something again, cupping his hand over yours to his cheek .

Why was he here? Maybe was an angel after all but-

 

"you tried to kill me" you whispered horrified, snatching your hand back from his face.

You came out of your daze, scrambling backwards on your hands and knees from the goblin King's embrace “no, no, not you, not  you ” you whimpered, eyes widened.

_*_

He still held out his arms where he had just embraced your body.

"No, Sloane " Jareth whispered crawling on his knees to you. 

You shrank back terrified until you smacked against the wall. 

Jareth came closer to stroke your hair soothingly but your arms flew up shielding yourself- just as you had done before the Cleaner was about to rip you to shreds.

Don't ” you whispered head down. Jareth halted. At the weight of your single word Jareth felt a knife twist in his gut.

You sounded so small.

So young and frightened.

At your bent head, you hair fell all around you like a curtain.

He saw your shoulders shake and you burst into tears, sobbing violently.  Your hands shook in mid- air.

“I thought-!” you protested covering your face from his view so he couldn’t see how much pain he'd caused. “I thought I was going to-!“  but the sobs were so violent you couldn’t finish the sentence

Jareth didn’t expect such a reaction.

All he'd wanted to do was scare you a little so you wouldn’t be so defiant -you'd come to him easier maybe, stop this make-believe foolishness. Why couldn’t you be obedient? Fear him, love him, did as he said? Why were you so insistent on finishing the labyrinth? Was the thought of staying here, in his kingdom, with him, forever, so awful?

You wept louder. Your sobs echoed and filled the oubliette, bouncing around him. 

Yes, he decided, it was. It was an awful fate. What was wrong with him?

You were disgusted with yourself for being so weak in front of him.

Jareth didn’t know how to fix this. So he only put an arm around you expecting you to resist again, but instead you stupidly fell against his chest and clutched him closer.

“I’m sorry, don't be mad at me, I’m sorry, don't be mad at me, I’m-”

Is all you can say until you were babbling the words, then no longer audible when you stick your face into the crook of his shoulder. He felt your hot tears in his neck.  The goblin king ran a soothing hand across your back.

Great. Now he had got what he wanted: you certainly feared him and obeyed him. 

This was not what he wanted- not at all.

The Goblin King just wanted you to come to him willingly like you had before, he couldn’t live with himself if he knew he was causing you true distress. It was just games he was playing in the Labyrinth, just silly games, he never meant you real harm and now look what he had done.

The Goblin King found his voice, moving his hand up and down your back “things just got out of control, I-I never expected you to be so shaken, I would never have let you get hurt, on my life, please -forgive me” his pathetic words sounded empty and hollow. 

You had gone silent and appeared to be holding your breath.

 “You know I would never hurt you don’t you, Sloane?...Sloane ?” he looked down at your precious head still buried in his shoulder, lowering his voice.

Your knuckles were white the way you gripped his clothing tightly in fear he may suddenly vanish again and play another trick.

“Dearest please say something” he begged you.

He rose and dragged you to your feet clumsily beside him.

You seemed to sway on your feet when he released you and so he wrapped a hand around each of your elbows to steady you.

“Sloane?”

He ducked his head to inspect your eyes which were distant. He felt you go limp and with inhuman speed catches you instinctively as you reel backwards, your eyes rolled back.

He shifted your weight equally in his arms, bringing you up further to him.

“It’s over. Its over precious girl.  I promise. Everything will be fine"

He carries you splayed across his arms. Your unconscious angelic face soft and peaceful. He felt a pang of guilt. How could he even pretend to harm you? To scare you senseless?

He was a monster after all.

Jareth mumbled the magic words so that the dark end of the tunnel glimmered into a portal taking you both back to the palace.

He would put things right.

 

Chapter Text

_*_

The Goblin King kicked the door open, stilling the action in the throne room, particularly with the girl loosely in his arms, hundreds of red beady eyes fell on the pair of them. Bewilderment. A human. A human girl. In the castle.

“Well, what are you looking at- bring me wine you gawping fools!” He spat at them, sweat on his forehead.

The room fell into chaos again. He stood awaiting in the centre of it all, staring straight ahead expectantly but then eyes falling on you, your gentleness for just a moment before he was interrupted again.

“Sire” a goblin by his knee coughed, stretching out his shaky arms to hold out a silver tray to the Goblin King, presenting the green bottle.

From below, the little goblin craned its neck to see the girl in their King’s arms, getting a good look at your still face, recognising you to be the girl running the Labyrinth.

Jareth scowled down at the creature, holding the you further from the goblin’s gaze. He wasn’t in the mood for questions now.

“Ladygirl wan a glasss?” the goblin asked staring up at Jareth dumb-founded, scratching its head in confusion at their majesty’s bizarre behaviour.

“The wine is for me, you idiotic cur” he snatched the bottle off the tray by the neck, holding it clumsily between his fingers.

Jareth raised his voice to the rest of the throne room “I want this room cleared now, or it’s the Bog for the lot of you!”

He waited for less than a few mere seconds before the giggling and whooping had trickled out of the throne room, doors swinging shut, leaving the pair of you.

 The Goblin King placed your limp form on his throne steadily, in case his legs suddenly gave out, before slouching down beside it, to sit on the floor. Thank gods it had been cleaned.

Oh the irony. So it seemed the girl had practically knocked the crown from his head after all.

Forced to give up his own throne, tsk, “don’t you dare tell anyone about this” he thought with a smirk, sipping more, like you could magically hear his thoughts. He still had some reputation to uphold after all.

On the way out of the portal from the Oubliette, he found himself completely drained, the magic sucked right out of him suddenly.  He’d stumbled and nearly dropped you, he felt winded like he’d taken a blow to the stomach. Jareth had never felt anything like that before, he surmised it was from the overwhelming unbalance of the mortal presence instinctively fighting against his magical being, it happened in the Underground when the mortal runners came to visit. He ignored the possibility it could have been anything more. 

When he’d stepped out, the damned portal had taken him right to the beginning of the Labyrinth again by the outskirts instead of the castle.

Jareth had no choice but to grit his teeth through his already ragged breath and carry you through the bloody place, at least he knew what he was doing, the Labyrinth was his and his only to control, you were in safe hands.

When his feet had crossed over the yellow stones to the grey and reddish cobble stone of the Goblin City, Jareth knew what was to come.

He held his head high, ignoring the inevitable the gapes, the whispers, bony fingers pointed in his direction, and walked with all the grace and decorum he could muster, glossing over his weakened state. 

Very soon, it was as if the entire city had turned out, completely rammed in the little streets but parted down the middle like the red sea in silence to let their king through, their eyes falling between them and you. It was almost religious, sacred in a way.

One part of him felt burning pride. They all wanted to see you. Jareth wanted to bring your ear to his mouth and whisper “see all the trouble you’re causing, you minx?”.

The stream of citizens never thinned even up to the point of the castle drawbridge. His entire kingdom had borne witness to the spectacle.

By the time the Goblin King made it to the castle, he could barely stand. His arms and legs were shaking from upholding you for so long, but he would be dammed if he let you go, the sweat dripping off him, he couldn’t manage the climb of the stone stairs to a more private room, he’d had to settle for the closest to him, the throne room.

What a scene it had been indeed.

The wine would cure him of this weakness fast.

Jareth screwed off the top with his teeth before sipping from the bottle like a common savage rather than a king. Ah, much better. He let the feeling of recharge wash over him and leaned his head back against the throne’s arm with an exhale.

Then he titled his head lazily to look at Sloane above him, his lips automatically twitched with an unbidden smile, at just the mere sight of you. You were curved in a fetal position to match the curve of the throne. He sipped more, eyeing you over the rim of the bottle, feeling stronger already.

He gave a grunt, picking himself up slowly. The Goblin King looped and arm around you loosely. He could conjure his crystals now, throwing one at at the flagstone floor to zap you both in a cloud of smoke and glitter to the chamber tower in the castle he had prepared, where you could rest up properly until you were better. 

“You could help you know” he huffed under his breath to drag you over to the four poster bed and lay you under the blankets.

Jareth piled quilts heaped atop you like a protective cocoon, with only your pale, sickly yet lovely face just barely peeking from beneath the mass of covers. The fire was going at the other end of the room.

“Not so bad- if I say so myself” he said with a satisfied nod and hands on his hips.

Jareth was about to take his leave when he peeled back the covers to slide his hand down to your ankles to tug off your shoes. He also clumsily removed the cloak he gifted you and then your own jacket, pegging them up behind the door and closing it quietly.

 

Chapter Text

_*_

Feeling a wetness trickle over your eyes, you fling them open.

Surging upwards with a ragged gasp, you clawed at the blankets and quilts confining you. "I don't want to die !" you scream at the top of your lungs.

You can’t immediately focus in on the things directly in front of you, entire body shaking as you struggled to calm yourself from over-panicking and take deep shallow breaths. You weren't in the tunnel anymore you were somewhere else.

I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay.

Your eyes dart back and forth over the scene, trying to piece together where you are and more importantly, how you got here.

You can make out what you think are your feet under the quilt -which you wiggle to check if they are indeed your own- and then beyond that the two wooden spiralling posters of a poster bed. You can make out that the room is circular and small. It hurts to crane your neck to see the rest. You can hear birds chirping brightly through the arch window in the stone wall to your right.

Ah ” you wince feeling a pressure applied to your forehead, more wetness.

Jareth draws back his hand from your forehead, holding the damp clothe. For a brief moment you saw that his eyes soften, and his eyebrows knitted in concern and concentration “try not to move” he said calmly.

You try to recall the last events you remember but it's like there's a blank gap in your mind.

last being in the oubliette

didn’t have much time left,

asked for directions

and then Jarethand

now I'm…in a bedroom?

“What are you doing!” you cried, shifting backwards in the bed away from his reach. You sit up straight but immediately curse violently at the pain that thrummed everywhere.

_*_

The Goblin King pushes your shoulders to ease you back down and although you resist, you’re too weak with the numbing pain and can’t fight back, which is extremely lucky for Jareth judging by the look on your face.

Your anger subsides at the tell-tale look of the realisation of where you are.

No ” you plead skipping your eyes everywhere around the small chamber he’d made up for you especially while you were resting. He can see those brilliant cogs turning in your mind as you no-doubt piece the fragments together. A small part of Jareth ached to see you so horrified but what else was he expecting?

 “This isn’t right- this isn’t how it was meant to be !” you cry feebly “No, no , no ! I should be home!” you thrash out at the pillows around you, clearly fighting the pain to sit up and get out of the  bed. “It’s not over- it can’t be over! I was supposed to win! I came so far!”

 “You did” he said gently “you did very well, far better than I’ve ever seen- for what it’s worth” but you weren’t listening, you were mustering up any strength you could to throw the covers back off the bed and swing your legs around.

“Don’t-”

You manage to tumble out of the bed clumsily, too weak to properly stand and leave the room. You can only manage to lash out feebly from kneeling on the floor.

“You smug bastard!” you roared in part disbelief,“you brought me here before my time was up!”

"I had no choice," Jareth said gravely "you were ill" 

Your shouts become hoarse “I was supposed to finish! You made me miss my last hours !”

With a cry you pelted the floor more, unleashing the pent up anger that had been eating away at you since you arrived.

 “You rotten bastard cheater!” you howled. “You fuc-“

“Forgive me” Jareth murmured crouching in front of you, touching your forehead with his index and middle finger. Your eyelids fluttered shut and you sighed deeply, succumbed to sleep once more.

"Oof" The Goblin King catches your shoulders before they could knock the stone floor. "Apologies, my rose, but I favour my ears today".

He looped his arms under yours to pull you up before lifting you properly. This was starting to become a habit, not that he was complaining.

You felt almost weightless and extremely warm to the touch, even under your layers of clothing, it was likely you had a fever of some kind- though he couldn’t be sure exactly, human illnesses were not common knowledge in the Underground.

Most likely  it was due to your overwhelming exposure to magic while you had been in the Underground. The mortals just couldn’t handle it. It’s why they were strictly given only 13 hours to trial the labyrinth- any more could be fatal, without the right after-treatment.

It was not good to wear yourself out all at once, though Jareth knew he deserved to hear exactly what you had to say, it would do you more harm than good at this moment in time. He would have face those repercussions later. But for now, you needed to rest.

He awkwardly shifts you in his arms to free his hand and peel back the covers to lie you underneath again, tucking you in.

 

_*_

Jareth rubbed his temple with a frown. Even from deep in the hidden library, alone to brood, he could still hear the distant clamour of Goblins bickering when all he wanted was a moment’s peace to straighten things out in his mind for pity's sake, was nothing sacred around here? 

Jareth tapped his sharp teeth thoughtfully. He wasn't used to playing the knight in shining armour. The hero. He was the villain, the Goblin King, he was frightening and cruel, they all cowered before him, he snatched nasty little mortal blights and the Abovelers cursed his wicked ways. All he’d ever know was deceit and self-indulgence, minus everyone else’s needs, he was number one priority at all times. But a traitorous part of him couldn’t help enjoying the change in character. Someone was dependant on him. Sloane Hazel needed him . He felt a little bubble of pride in his black heart and even grinned a little at the idea. He was going to be utterly selfish with you. 

After a few rolls of his hand he summoned the image of you.

Good. You were still dead to the world- you needed the rest, though he estimated the sleeping spell wouldn’t last for much longer, your eyelids twitched now and then, sometimes your arm jerked and your mouth puckered.

_*_

 “Can- can I see her?” Hoggle wrung his hands, the crowded room only adding to his anxiety not to mention the sneer of the Goblin King who he stood before, a very triumphant leer playing on him.

“And who might that be, dwarf?”

The minute the 13 hours were up, a loud cannon had sounded to signify the end of the run. The kingdom had silenced briefly, everyone had come to a millisecond standstill, someone had lost to the king, someone was about to be turned into a goblin.  

Even Hoggle, head in hands, slouching miserably against the Labyrinth’s outskirt walls, held his breath. It was over. You’d lost.

Hoggle figured he owed it to you to at least see if you were alright-after all, he had shoved you into the oubliette, willing or not. It would give him peace of mind at least to see if you were being treated well, with the Goblin King, you never knew what to expect, in Hoggle’s mind it was usually the worst from experience. 

Hoggle had immediately raced through the cobble-stoned streets of the Goblin, where he whizzed past the chatter of the folk , detailing the early sights of the king walking towards his castle, that a human was in the castle, that the human wasn’t a rotten child- it was a girl. A ladygirl. 

“Sloane- the Aboveler” Hoggle said stiffly,  though it was obvious Jareth knew exactly who he was referring to- the King was obviously in a tormenting mood today, he even had his legs thrown over the armrests to pay homage to his taunting leer rather than his usual composed self.

Hoggle noticed that the castle was different somehow to how he remembered. Brighter? Clean. It was clean.

The sun shone through the windows properly, the floors glinted, he could see his own sparkling reflection, away from all the grime and dirt, the Goblin King’s copper throne polished like his own boots. Even the faded curtains around it had been replaced with bright plum coloured clothe as well as the throne room's own deep red drapes and golden tassels. The eons of smoke and ash all gone like the castle had been built this morning.

The Goblin King grinned, his elbow was propped against the arm of the throne, which in turn propped up his head, tapping his cheek with his slender finger as he spoke.

“My guest is sleeping Hogspill, I don’t wish to disturb her much needed rest, do you?”

Hoggle thought it would be like this, he knew once the Goblin King won, he would never see the likes of you again. No doubt It was all part of a scheme of his, fear nipped at Hoggle’s heels he didn't trust the king for a second and rightly so...

If Hoggle couldn’t see you were okay, or at least not locked up in some dungeon somewhere chained to a wall...

Hoggle shook his head “when she wakes up?” he said hopefully.

Jareth put his hands together so that they touched at the fingertips, he rested his chin to them. “hmmm I don’t believe that was part of our deal” he smirked, cool as ice. Damn him!

“Please y’ majesty, the little lady, she’s my friend –“

Friend ?” The Goblin King repeated throwing his head back roaring with laughter, echoed by the uproar of the goblins scratchy chortles and hoots.

“Oh dear me, you’ll have to forgive me” Jareth wiped a tear from his eye still chuckling with jutting shoulders “that was simply just too funny. Friend, Hogsnatch? Is that what you are? Why, from the moment Ms. Hazel stepped foot in the Underground, you did nothing but turn her away, cheat her, lead her to inevitable destruction and all in order to save your own neck!” he sneered “that doesn’t sound very much like a friend to me”

“But you sai-“


In fact  if it wasn’t for me, Ms Hazel may very well be dead, since you practically left her to rot in my Labyrinth, she could have easily broken her neck down that drain with your carelessness!” he hissed at the dwarf, disdain burning in his glare, Hoggle was lucky looks couldn’t kill.

“Just a min-“

Jareth continued his booming voice drowning out Hoggle’s small objections.

“In her final hours of need, putting her trust in you, what did you do? Leave the poor girl alone in that oubliette. I dare say she may very well have won my Labyrinth if not for your interventions, Halfwit, - thank goodness I was there to pick up the pieces yet again”

“But that’s not- it ain’t-” Hoggle spluttered

The Goblin King leaned forward towards Hoggle cupping his ear at him haughtily. “Is there something more you would like to say, Hoghead? I’m beginning to get the distinct impression you wish to air your thoughts before the crown”.

“It ain’t fair ” Hoggle finished, the poisonous word bouncing around the stone walls that momentarily silenced the King but only to oomph his amusement. That blasted word.

 “Oh dear, poor Hoghead” Jareth clapped his hands to his face in mock-horror “what will Ms. Hazel think when I tell her what you’ve done?”

Hoggle’s heart dropped

“Y’ wouldn’t!”

he wouldn’t take away his only friend, the girl he’d grown attached to, lose him to the hands of this- this- villain in such a gruelling place that was so alien to you. Hoggle knew damn well Jareth had powers and capabilities beyond the imagination.


Jareth grinned “wouldn’t I?”. He slapped either side of the armrests of the throne, jumping up enthusiastically.

“Right! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to tend to my guest, she’ll be waking soon, and I simply must look my best, you understand, don’t you? Well… perhaps not- but anyhow, you see yourself out”.

Jareth strode out the room, meandering the crystals around his hands, “dance magic, dance” he sung under his breath, whistling cheerfully to leave a dejected Hoggle surrounded by the goblins who had since lost interest in him for their own entertainment.

Hoggle traipsed out the palace gates miserably.

Something told him your adventure in the Underground had not ended within those 13 hours.

He told himself it could have been worse for you, it was unlikely you would be turned into an Underground creature at the least…It appeared the King had some underlying affection for you…And you were a clever girl anyway. You’d figure something out, stay or go, Hoggle was certain.

 “It still doesn’t make it better”. If only there was something he could do. Blast his cowardice, he would help you, he would!

Feet clacking over the bridge, Hoggle's thoughts were mislead by the passing hubbub of the king’s guards wading to the castle with their shields and spears bobbing in time with their steps and an idea struck him, perhaps there was something he could do after all. 

Chapter Text

_*_

You wake unexpectedly in the height of the afternoon.

When you slit an eye open, you let your surroundings sink in, your whole body felt like it was lined with lead, you couldn’t so much as shift your arms. It takes a lot of strength to turn to lay on your side with your legs tucked underneath you. When you manage the fetal position, you’re dripping with sweat and panting slightly.

You feel as though all you really want to do is sleep, you could sleep forever and ever right now you need rest.

You close your eyes again grimacing at the pain of doing so as well as the stabbing pain above your eyebrow. You briefly wondered what the hell had happened to you to cause it when everything hit you like a bolt of lightning.

 You can’t move. You can’t breathe. Your chest feels tight. You don’t know what to do.

The whole world comes crashing down.  The 13 hours were long since up. You’d lost.

You’d lost.

“I’ll give you a challenge: a chance to win back your freedom-if you wish. If you complete my task, you’re free to go. But if you lose, you stay with me- in my castle. Forever” .

You start to cry, softly at first and then loudly sobbing and hate yourself for it. Don’t give him the satisfaction you pleaded but the tears wouldn’t stop.

You could never go back to home, never see your friends, never walk home after a long day at school in the summer evenings, never slope off to the empty park grounds to sit by the green ponds whenever you felt like it, never see your only remaining family, never sit in your tiny freezing bedroom , drawing idly with the blankets huddled around you, cursing Kari for making you do the dishes, cursing your life, wishing to leave…

You’d sold yourself out. How stupid could you have been to think you could have won the Labyrinth?

You had no-one to blame but yourself for this mess, you should have known better, right from the start that the Labyrinth would be rigged against you. He’d done everything in his power to slow you down from the start; the overturned stone, the changing Labyrinth walls, the Riddler Guards, his little distractions, the disguise, the Goblin King was so desperate to stop you from winning. Well now he had, he’d won.

And Hoggle! You felt deeply cut by his betrayal, above all else, the Goblin King was the villain you could excuse his deceit, but Hoggle?  How could he have been so cruel to lead you astray twice?

You lie there alone in the bedroom, weeping helplessly on your back, tears rolling down your cheeks, unable to wipe them away or hide the pathetic sob noises you were making. You cried harder, shoulders juddering at every sob.

I was going to win” you cry hoarsely aloud to make up for the frustrating paralysis “I was going to win

The blue coat swings on the peg of the door as it creaks open, with a gloved hand appearing around the frame of it.

“You’re awake I see” Jareth’s voice slices through your buzzing thoughts like a hot knife in butter. 

He closes the door behind him, mumbling something in another language at it with a raise hand before turning to you. The sun’s rays burst through the window dancing on the flagstone floor.

You suck your breath in sharply. The game was over. What was he going to do now? Torture you, humiliate you, make you his little jester-play thing when he got bored? It didn’t matter, you were here now. ‘Forever’.

The Goblin King shrugged off his own leather, pegging it over the blue cloak then pulled out a stool you hadn’t noticed by your bed, sitting at it, so he was level with you.

He noticed your silence, resting his forearms on his knees as he leaned in “Oh come, come, come now, Sloane, why so much haughtiness and dread? Where is that adventurous little thing who braved every crevice of my labyrinth? I thought you’d be more than glad to be away from it”

Was he really that oblivious? Or psychotic? Or maybe he just assumed you’d forgotten all about the Oubliette episode, haughtiness and dread didn’t even sum up what you were feeling now he had you right where he wanted you. You can feel your thudding pulse in your eye sockets and in your legs.

You said nothing, not even meeting his eyes. You chose to stare straight ahead instead, at the tapestry on the wall, willing yourself not to cry again.

He raised his hand holding a crystal, purple and glowing and you flinch at the sudden movement.

“You stay away from me” you yelp finally finding your voice, edging away from the hand paused over you. “You and your fucking magic”.

He closed the hand with an exhale, evading the light from his palm “you need your healing today, you’ll grow weak without it” he said matter-of-factly.

“Bullshit” you breathe through the rising lump in your throat, you ball the rich quilt you’re lying under in your hands, “you just want keep me this-s way, weak and help-helpless”.

“I would never hurt you” he put his hand over your balled fist and you manage to jerk it away though it feels so weighted down. “My rose-“

Don’t fucking touch me” you hiss out.

The whole room was spinning, you have to close your eyes, you feel like you’re drunk.  “Why do I feel… so heavy?” you turn your head to face him, with narrowed eyes “you’ve done something to me. Druh-drugged me or something”.

Jareth puts the damp cloth in the wash bowl with some leaves floating in it, then extracted it, squeezing the water from it carefully. You watch it run, the trickling noises against the stillness giving you goose-bumps.

“It’s your mortal body reacting to the magic exposure,” he said flatly “it can’t possibly handle it all at once, so it must be fed more in small doses to balance it out” he pushes the little hairs falling in front of your face out of the way to put the clothe to your forehead, holding your arm down at your twisting protests. “It’ll adapt in time”.

In time.

A surging heat passes through your stomach. You squeeze your eyes shut at the pain “oww ughhh ” you curl up clutching yourself “you’ve done this to me” you say, sliding your accusing eyes to him, “you

He pauses the dabbing on your forehead to meet your eyes.

“I did not plan for things to go this way. Believe me”.

That meaningful look, so cruel and so kind. You flicker to the ballroom where you had been under the same look.


You turn away to cross your arms over your aching stomach.

“Oh no?” you gasp through clenched teeth “but you’re happy now aren’t you? Satisfied with yourself, you got your own way event- eventually” you cursed yourself at the rising lump in your throat “but me? What did I get? A one -way ticket to servitude. Slap on the shackles now”.

“I don't care for your tone,” Jareth's demeanour becomes more callous, throwing down the clothe in the bowl and putting a hand on his hip “everything I’ve done, ever since we met, I’ve done for you.

The sky had become overcast and you shivered in the chill of the absent sun.

You scoffed looking at him over your shoulder “keep telling yourself that, it doesn’t change the facts” .

Jareth stood sharply so the stool screeched backwards against the floor. “The ‘facts’?” He spat standing at the foot of the bed for you to look at him properly. 

 “You want to know the facts? My ‘gift’ to you Sloane, was exactly that. A gift, to repay you. A way out, a way to make sure you could live happily ever after by binding you to fae rules, which I bent for you” he hissed “the facts are, that I gave you thrilling adventure away from your tedious life, gave you gorgeous dreams, made you smile, made you laugh, even given you a place in my kingdom. You chose to ignore what you dislike, what doesn’t fit into this villainous character you’ve warped me into. I have been generous- but I can be cruel”.


“Generous!” you sat up straight, refusing to wince at the pain of the fluid movement “You arrogant prick! What have you done that’s generous?”

“Everything!” he snapped throwing his arms up. “Everything you wanted I have done! You wanted someone to listen? I did. You wished to be “taken away”? I took you. I have re-ordered time-”

Jareth gestured to the grand clock on the wall - like the one you’d seen in the outskirts when you first started the Labyrinth- spinning its thin black hands backwards and then forwards wildly around the face.

 “-to ease your hardships in my Labyrinth, a challenge you wanted to enter -and I let you- I have turned the world upside down and I have done it all for you. I’m exhausted from living up to your expectations” he frowned with a defeated sigh “Isn’t that generous?”

You pressed your mouth in a straight line for a while but then a tear brimmed daringly in your eye.

“You tricked me into trusting you, you threatened my freewill -giving me no choice but to run in the Labyrinth then you brought me here, to this bloody place, and I didn’t ask, then you try to scare me into submission when things weren’t going your sodding way” you tick off with as much venom as you can put in a hushed whisper “and it’s not okay. It just isn’t”

He stares you out for a time and you glare back at him. He opened his mouth to say something when you bent double, thudding back against the pillows, writhing in pain “aughhhh”.

The wind outside rose, you could hear the tree by the window drop all its leaves in the abrupt uproar.

He’s by you side in a flash.

 “Here, let me” Jareth opened his palm, purple light flooding from it. You nodded frantically, squeezing your eyes shut, forgetting your pride in the burning of your ribs.

He knelt before you, gesturing to you to move your shirt up so he could lay his hand on your skin.

You shivered at the contact but then hissed as it seeped through.

Gahh !” you clutched his forearm, fingers digging into his clothing and clenching your teeth together. You bit back the tears, writhing in pain. “It’ll be over in a moment” Jareth said gently to soothe you in the pain, you grasped the material harder.

You don’t want to look at the light flooding into your skin and stare down at him instead while he works. From up close you notice only now that he’s wearing more make-up than usual, it’s sharper, darker, his hair looked fluffier, little silver bits among the blonde shining in the purple glow. He’s even dressed up a little. Your heart skips a beat. For me?

“All done” Jareth finishes up, catching you staring at him. You forget that your hand is now relaxed on his forearm and his palm on your rib-cage. The Goblin King’s eyes flicker down to where you’re absentmindedly rubbing the pad of your thumb across his shoulder.

You remove your clutch on him immediately, heat radiating from your face. “It…feels better. The pain’s gone completely” you cough.

The burning sensation disappears from your sides like a weight lifting from your shoulders. You can push back the quilts and sit up properly against the pillows without wincing and then swing your legs over the bed.

You stare at the flagstone floor.

For a moment, nobody says anything. What else is there to be said?

“Your run in my Labyrinth might be over,” Jareth broke the silence, in a tone bordering on grave.

 He slipped both of his hands over your own “however, you and I, Sloane Hazel, we're far from finished,”

You blankly stare down at the large hands cupping your own, but you don’t yank them away.

 It’s wrong, it’s very wrong to feel wanting. No, you hadn’t forgotten the chemistry in the ballroom, dream or no dream, you'd been so comfortable and you both knew it. Your tell-tale spiked pulse said everything.

Your mouth parts and closes as if to say something but you remain silent. The memories of your first introduction creep into mind.

“Do you want it?” he held it out for you to take. “You’re unhappy here. But I could make you happy” he said it almost in a whisper.

He held out his hand earnestly for you to take “come, leave your little cell of room behind, leave your dreadful family and just run away from it all”.

Why did a traitorous tiny part of you get a dark thrill over the fact that he might have genuinely wanted to steal you away to keep you right from the start? Your stomach flutter at the possibility that his offer might have been selfless, no underlying cruelty? That he wanted you for you, not just something to control?

You glance at Jareth’s face, clearly reading your own. You wait for him to irritably sigh or retreat like he had done before but instead he watched the cogs in your mind turn patiently. All traces of his earlier smug taunting had completely dried-up.

“I know” you said eventually “…I know I lost the challenge . And… I suppose you only did the right thing, bringing me here…” you gestured flatly to the room, and your healed side. “A deal is a deal” you admit as much as it pains your heart, accepting the gravity of the situation that you were stuck in.

Jareth gave away nothing in his expression “go on” he said curiously.

“If I’m bound to stay here I…I think we should set a few things straight” yes. okay. good. 

“You mean you have requests?” Jareth stated rather than questioned in a monotonous voice, he folded his arms, awaiting you to continue.

“Well, yes…Maybe given the circumstances…” you said sternly

“I believe I’ve been more than fair to you” he said coldly and for a minute you think he’ll straight-up rebuke you, but instead his expression changes suddenly. He held his chin with his propped hand, mulling something over and continued.

“but, never let it be said I ever refused Ms Sloane Hazel” Jareth exhaled. “I’ll humour you, if you humour me”.

Fuck.

 Ah, see what you’ve done? Now doesn’t this scene sound all too familiar?

The voice in your head derided you,

and what did Hoggle warn you about? Shady deals?


You tried not to swallow and give away your doubts, you toy with the red quilt between your fingers when an idea comes to you.

“How about…quid pro quo?”

He smiled wide so you could see those feline teeth “now there’s the Sloane Hazel I was waiting for. My dear, I believe I’m beginning to rub off on you”.

You shrugged like it was no big deal “then we both get what we want” please say yes, please say yes.

“Quid pro quo it is” there was a daring twinkle in his eye. “Go on, go on, I’m all ears”

Stay humble you warned yourself. Tit-for-tat goes both ways.

“First off, no more tricks to get me onside like you did in the Labyrinth, no playing glamour dress up to fuck with me”

“But of course, I need not to now”

 You glared at him pointedly.

 “It was brilliant though wasn’t it? My performance sterling” Jareth jovially tossed a crystal in the air and when he caught it, you found yourself staring back at Sage, the mysterious, kind, peasant woman who fed you.

 “a rose, for a rose?” Jareth croaked in her voice.

He fluttered the crystal in his hands until his withered finger-tips held a yellow rose out to you, but you flicked it away.

 “cut it out Jareth,” you said meeting his gaze under the green shawl, the warmth in her smile had vanished and instead sliced through you “it’s creepy”.

Sage- Jareth- gave a withered smile before transforming back in front of your very eyes.

“I thought that was you, you know” you frown, not the least bit surprised that the only person kind enough to you for more than five minutes in that Labyrinth was a rotten glamour trick. “And no more magic drugging. No magic against me in any way, shape, or form, I’m serious” you sniffed. "The soup wasn’t great either by the way- I was just hungry”.

 Jareth laughed at that returning to his own rich regal voice.

 “Very well, you have my word, no ‘magic drugging’ as you put it. Which brings me onto my request; you will accompany me for meals, morning, noon and night, regardless”.

You raised an eyebrow a strange request “done” but it was harmless you supposed.

 “Now that I’m here, I want to see the Underground, properly” you gestured to the small turret room, already the walls were beginning to cave in “I won’t be held in here”.

“that can be arranged” he nodded “you’re not my prisoner, Sloane, I fully intend for you to see my land for all it is” he said proudly “you may go wherever your curious heart desires in my kingdom, but the outskirts and the labyrinth itself are strictly out of bounds unless I'm with you. That’s part of the deal.”


You opened your mouth to argue but he put his hand up to silence you.

 “My kingdom, my rules” Jareth sang.  “I know the Labyrinth better than anyone, it submits to me only, it’s not somewhere for strolling. No contentions”

“Okay, deal" you nodded, trying to put the image of the machine barrelling towards you out of your mind.

You cross your legs underneath you on the bed putting your hands in your lap.  “I want to draw, like I used to ,” you explained looking down at your hands “it would be nice to still do normal things”

Jareth folded his arms across his chest, sticking his hands under his armpits, “of course” he scoffed “you really think I would restrain my favourite artist?”

you smiled back at him at that, shaking your head with a blush.

“Furthermore, on the subject of kingdoms, I am your king now and you will treat and respect me as such, like every other citizen, regardless of our association,” he smiled shrewdly.

Oh, he was beginning to enjoy this, you could tell.  

“you live in my kingdom now, in my castle, under me, your sovereign. The ways of the Above do not concern me”

You frown “under you?”  

He waved dismissively, “I only require what every other monarch would require of their citizens. Please continue, my rose,” The Goblin King inclined his head in a slight, inviting bow.

You licked your dry top lip quickly “I get to see my family”

“No dice I’m afraid”

“What? Why!”

“As I explained to you, you belong to the Underground now, the Above does not concern me, besides, the deal was that you lose and you stay forever, if you remember correctly”

“I …” you let that sink in you should have been paying attention to his wording before you agreed to that stupid challenge. You would never see your aunt and uncle again. Ever.

“My friends?” you suddenly remembered you looked to him hopefully.

He shook his head “Same rules apply. The Above is forbidden”

You held back the strangled gasp. Kari and Brian were family, your mother’s blood, no less, but your life- long friends, Jan, the people you’d practically grown up with. Poof. What would they think happened to you? That you ran away? That you were kidnapped? They would never know.  

 “You can’t just expect me to leave everything behind!” you stutter. The reality was very much settling within you. “Like I didn’t have a whole life there!”

You felt like you were going to throw up suddenly. Your stomach heaved dangerously.

 Jareth only tilted his head in reply. An act that said “you should have thought about that before you were willing to put it on the table”.

“There will be far too many questions. It's dangerous. Believe me it’s for the best.”

“I don’t understand! What do you mean!”

“Your time in the Underground is turning you , I already explained that your mortality was being balanced out with magic” Jareth picked his words carefully

“the exposure, will slowly begin to change your mortal being,” his tone became serious “ your blood is mixed with magic now at least, like me, you’ll remain very much the same as you are now, it would be difficult to hide it from your acquaintances as time goes, even with glamour magic” .

 “I don’t believe you” you reply tartly. “That’s impossible” but your mind was racing already.

“Nothing’s impossible. You’d think you’d come to realise that by now” he gave that Cheshire cat’s grin.

He was right. Any manner of questioning possibility was ruled out the second you stepped foot in the Underground. Another thought crossed your mind

“wait, how old are you ?” you’d completely forgotten that he wasn’t human, another worldly being…That you would come to be too?

The Goblin King grinned cupping his chin “how old do you think?”

“I don’t know…around... forty”  you offered generously with a vague wave of your hand.


He threw back his head and laughed and you glare at him. “Well that’s how old you look!” you protested “well go on then, tell me”.

“Why? Afraid I might be too refined for your taste?” he winked suggestively

You shoved his shoulder “I was thinking more ‘cradle snatcher’ ”

The Goblin King’s eyes danced in amusement “more than you know”

 “and yet you’re still the biggest child I’ve ever met”

“Ah, the biggest child you’ve met so far

“You’re a smart-arse, bleach blonde, prick, you know that?” you found yourself smiling.

“You wound, sweet” he said in mock-annoyance, he pretended to ruffle his hair airily “this is all natural Ms Hazel”.  Of course that’s what he’d pick up on.

 “If you say so. Okay, so we have a deal then?”

“You have my word on all counts,” Jareth gave a short nod

“Me too” you stuck out you hand to shake on it but he pushed it away with shaking his head bemused.

“Don’t you know every deal must be sealed properly?”

 “How?”

Jareth whisked his hand and a feathered quill and sheet of paper popped onto the writing table at the far end of the room. “The good old-fashioned way of course, a contract”

You pushed yourself off the bed to spot the long white scroll on the table, the calligraphy golden. You could see the small print at the bottom besides where each of you would sign.

 “Well of course I knew that” you said huffily “Can I have a –“

“Here” he pushed the magnifying glass into your open hand before you had even asked for it.

“How did you know I was going to say that?”

“You’re a sharp girl, you’d want to read the small print. Of course, there’s really no need since I would never try and pull the wool over your eyes, my sweet” he blinked feigning innocence but oh boy, did you know better.

“Hmmm” you said plucking up the paper anyway to read it. You read it all thoroughly, as well as the actual details itself, everything you had both agreed on was there.

“Yep it’s all there” you held out your hand for the quill and scratched a messy “Sloane L. Hazel” across the black line, hoping to god this wouldn’t come back to bite you. The quill’s black ink bled into the paper drying out and turning gold. Inerasable.

 “Hey!” you snapped when you’d finished, realising he’d been standing behind you staring at your arse while you had slightly bent over the desk. “Merely admiring the view” he chuckled at your sour expression, throwing the quill at him.

Jareth slowly and meanderingly leaned over the table, free palm resting on the wood flatly. You notice a marking on his hand beginning from his index finger and disappearing under his cuff's sleeve.

He'd signed it “The Goblin King of the Underground” alongside yours in large swirling loops which you rolled your eyes at but couldn’t help admiring the hair falling over his face before he stood tall again.

“Sloane L. Hazel” Jareth bobbed an eyebrow, reading your signature aloud “how very professional, what’s the L for I wonder?”

 

“L is for Lux- like a short way of saying ‘Lucky’ ” you shrug at his puzzled face.

Lux” he repeated sardonically. “How tasteful”.

 “My parents lapped up unusual names” you explain “before they knew they were having a girl, they agreed that my mum would pick the name if I was a girl, my dad a boy, so when they had me, my mum said she chose the name from one of her favourite books and my dad got to pick my middle name since the one he was going to pick was unisex.”

You smiled fondly remembering your dad telling you the story behind your strange name when you were younger. You had been in the kitchen making some god-awful muffins together for a change and set the smoke alarm off, Jeremy couldn’t cook for toffee.

 “My dad told me it’s because they were very “lucky” to have me in their life, like ‘thanking their lucky stars’ or something but then my mum told me it was after the name of this bar they met in and he threw some flour at her”.

You laughed, remembering clearly the look of horror on your mother’s face as her entire outfit was splattered with the white powder and for a second your father had looked genuinely terrified of his wife until she had thrown some back at him, right in his face, and then he at you for laughing at the pair of them in the ridiculous scene, within minutes the kitchen was a winter wonderland. All three of you had rolled on the kitchen floor in the snow of the flour, coughing and spluttering- your parents tickling you until you thought you were going to burst. It was one of your happiest memories of them.

You were grinning brightly from ear to ear and staring off into the distance. You blinked rapidly coming back. You noticed Jareth had been listening intently and gave an embarrassed shrug.

 It was strange telling the Goblin King about your parents when you rarely spoke about them to anyone. He already knew so much about you when you knew very little of him.

“They sounded wonderful” Jareth said softly with a small smile and you nodded in agreement

“They were. I was lucky to have them ” you swiftly changed the subject, “is this it then?” you nodded at the signatures.

“One more thing, now we each must knock on the wood”


“What?” you tilt your head “you’re having me on”


“Nonsense, you Abovelers say it all the time,” he tilted his head “don’t you know the meaning behind it?”  Jareth rapped on the table to emphasise “It’s the only way to properly seal the deal”.

You hum, also knocking on the dark wood feeling silly. Your hand burnt like a flame had been held to it “ow!” you snatched it back, holding your burning wrist “what was that !”

He took your wrist, inspecting it curiously. “It’s the contract, as a reminder, look” twisting it over to show you the marking that had been etched on your skin.

 “its sealed on your wrist to provide proof of the oath you knocked on- binding you to the contract” the strange marking was like a white tattoo, in the shape of a circular Labyrinth and an owl taking flight .

“The royal seal no less” he noted, inspecting his own wrist where the same seal was placed.

You took it back, rubbing the soreness. “Will it be there forever?”

“Most likely” he nodded. It was only tiny anyway.

You rolled your sleeve back down. “You mean you’ve never done this before?”

“Not personally no,”

“Then…What happens if either of us …break it?” your heart dropped at the thought. This was magic. There would be consequences surely.

 Jareth gave a hapless shrug.

 “You don’t know” you said drily in disbelief. “Why didn’t you say beforehand! What am I suppose to do now?”

“I suggest you be a good girl then” he grinned.

“It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s you- you’re bound to break it” you put your hands behind your head and exhaled to let off steam idiot!

“Ye have little faith, Ms L. Hazel, I may surprise you yet” he scoffed

 “Wait, there’s something else” you say, rubbing your temple one thing at a time, the thought bubbling in you before you forgot about it again.

“What? Don’t tell me you forgot to add something after that entire bloody ritual”

 

“No no, not about the contract- I mean, I want an explanation”

Jareth cocks his head quizzingly

“About all this, about you. I think I deserve an explanation. More than that actually” you stifled an abrupt yawn.

 He smiled, “Very well, I’ll tell all tomorrow, deal?”

“Why not now” you pushed, eager for answers while he was still in the talking mood.

Another yawn hit you like a wave, you found yourself forcing your eyes open. How can you be tired already you’ve only just woken up. Bloody magic. “I’m all ears”.

He smiled ruefully, “You’re much too tired, besides I’ll want your full attention, you have a big day ahead you, so I suggest you get a good night’s rest” you narrowed your eyes at him suspiciously.

 “tomorrow, I promise ” he rose and moved to the door,

“Jareth?” you called before he disappeared .

“Yes?” he lingered by the door looking at you expectantly.

“Maybe you’re not a bleach blond”

 He smiled and nodded, wishing you a goodnight before disappearing, you heard the sound of a crystal ball rolling across the floor on the other side of the door.

Good night?  Yeah fat chance of that. How were you supposed to sleep now?

Nevertheless, you climb into bed, the first day of the rest of your life was over. It can only get better from here, you assured yourself. Not like you just signed away your life for real or that you were half magic or something or another. It was also so confusing. Sleep was probably the best solution.

You inspect your wrist and then drop it to stare up at the four poster’s ceiling. What have I done?  You'd never imagine you go in this deep.

_*_


In his hands, Jareth clutched the silly beggar disguise he used, one final disguise. He exhaled air from his nose, amused over it, “hmmf” . It seemed so silly now.

He tucked it away in a trunk at the foot of the bed, it would be a while before he would use it again unless another one of those brat runners called upon him, wasting more of his time, still though it could be fun sometimes to watch their confusion.

He climbed into bed but found himself unable to sleep instantly, instead tracing the seal mark absent-mindedly on his wrist.

Chapter Text

 

Jareth never seemed to learn his lesson whenever he visited the Above.

It was evident from the greying clouds and the tell-tale uprising wind that he should turn back, turn back before it was too late but he just couldn’t bear to face another evening with those insipid creatures as his only company. He shuddered. No, he would stay out tonight.

But where to, where to? The delightful question.

"Take me anywhere” he murmured to the wind, transforming into his owl form and spread his wings, riding the wind was always fun and unpredictable. Who knows the adventures he’d have this time.

He flew for a while, a long while, scanning the land below, unsure where the wind was leading him, he had found nothing that was drawing his attention.  

When he began to cross over rolling fields he was rather disappointed. Where were all the cities and busy people?

“Drat” he mumbled, the wind setting him down at last.

He folded his wings under him again, transforming back into his natural form . Well this was hardly the adventure he was hoping for.  

No, no it would not do at all.

He couldn’t be sure where exactly in the above he was, it mostly looked all the same to him.

Jareth guessed it was late summer by the lingering sun but it night time was soon to come about.

He sighed, picking himself up and spread his arms to take flight , the wind picked him up, rather forcefully and flung him upwards. Not good.

He should leave, now. Staying in the Above for those who belonged Underground had drastic consequences, like the Underground had for mortals, but he shook it off, he wouldn’t have a wasted journey.

The wind blew under him and when Jareth spotted a horizon of bright lights and tall buildings his heart leapt. Ah finally, now he was getting somewhere. He tilted himself right, to survey it, but the wind carried him in the opposite direction forcefully pushing him away.

Augh! he thought irritably.

The wind dropped him without warning. Luckily his quick reflexes allowed him to switch back and land on his feet brushing himself off.

Jareth began to feel extremely tired. A wasted journey after all.

He had meant to change into his owl form, but the weary magic had instead made him the black bird. A raven.

He could scarely keep atop of the wind,  “what’s gotten into you!”.

Every now and then it would cut out and then start up suddenly making him queasy.

 Jareth had to close his eyes for a second but misjudged and  crashing into a tree that winded him completely and knocked him out.

He was out for a while when he stirred groggily he didn’t know where he was again. He must have spelled himself out of the tree in his panic. A storm was brewing.

Lightening struck the sky.

He had to rest he had to keep out of the storm. Luckily for him he was in a populated area.

Jareth landed on the roof tops of  houses, looking for shelter in them but he could not access any, they were closed up, the curtains drawn all the lights were out, all but one opposite him.

The window was wide open , even in this pelting rain he could see right into the room . The warm of candle- light evading from it invited him in greatly, he was frozen to the bone, he needed to rest greatly before his magic short circuited and god knows what would happen.

The Goblin King hoped down as best he could with his throbbing side, managing to keep his footing even on the slippery tiles. He fluttered momentarily towards the house opposite the window within his reach.

Just as he was about to land on the tree branch that was directly outside the open window, he saw a figure’s hand reach out for the windows latch and firmly close it right before him!

No no ! He thought painstakingly as his side burned. He didn’t have much longer , he could feel himself slipping away. Jareth clumsily perched on the tree branch, through his drooping eyes he could see the candle light was still burning.

The figure must still be close by, the Goblin King found himself softly pecking at the glass of the window, just enough to get their attention. Nothing happened and Jareth used everything he could to tap louder. Nothing.

He tried again then gave up, legs giving out under him,  slouching against the window hopeless when the it was creaked open a splinter and then thrown open by the wind.

 Jareth’s limp body tumbled through the window and crashed harshly onto the ledge face down.

The wind died down enough for him to catch a gasp above him .

The Goblin King dare not move, fearing he had simultaneously switched back into his male body, which mortals never had a good reaction to.

From his titled his head up enough to see a mortal girl standing above him. He guessed by her uncertain look and concern he was not his natural self and was still in his wretched form, soaking from the downpour. He groaned inwardly. This could go two ways. Neither were particularly good.

 Jareth’s chest heaved up and down heavily, wincing at the intake of breath. He tried to still to avoid provoking the burning pain throughout his entire body.

He heard the window close again, muffling the raging tempest. The candle’s light had since died. Jareth depended on the moon glow to show him the girl’s lovely concerned face as she hovered over him , unsure what to do. He was slipping further, faster, downwards, his eyes were drooping as he stared back at her, she couldn’t help him.

If he was going to die here, at least it was under such a beautiful view, such a benevolent creature then he had no complaints.

He closed his eyes. The end he thought, embracing it when suddenly Jareth felt two warm hands slip under his abdomen, his limp body caressed and opened them again. The mortal wrapped a blanket of some sort around him, warming him greatly. He felt instantly better, like her very touch had restarted his heart,

“Come on, bud” she murmured to him, her light voice inviting him to stir. The pull was releasing him slightly now.

Her hands under him banished the ebbing pain, he could move his wings a little now, feeling more vigorous.

The mortal placed him down gently with the blanket over him . She was retreating.

No! Don’t leave already! he thought panic-stricken already shivering again. He was relived the watch her only cross the room to her drawers where she pulled out long drapes of woolly material, shifting them on her desk to make a circular shape.

He could vaguely make out the room , he must be in a child’s bedroom by the looks of it and he inwardly sighed. Great. She didn’t look like a child, even from his small height Jareth could see she was taller than that .

It was only when she came back for him again, holding him close to her chest that he could see in the weak light the mortal had made him a nest. Oh no.

She was lowering him towards it, away from her warmth and breath. Jareth began to twist in her hands avoiding the blasted mockery for a bed.

“Absolutely not!” he cried in protest, but the words hadn’t left his beak he could only move it up and down to form them “do you think this is a joke? I can’t feel my blasted face!”

“Calm down- it’s just for a second!” the girl told him aiming to sooth him over before placing the Goblin king in the centre of the makeshift nest.  Jareth scowled at her.

“Would you rather be out there?” the mortal girl challenged him, scowling back.

He bit back a scoff -not that he could in this form but even so- how dare she talk down to him

On the other hand, her hands on hips, taunting eyes staring him down, her soft mouth, he couldn’t find himself disgusted but rather amused at her tempestuousness, no-nonsense attitude.

The branch smacked the window causing him to glance away from her briefly when he looked back she looked smug she had won the argument.

“Well this is as good as it gets... Back in a sec” the mortal held up her finger to the him moving to the door. “Don’t move” she commanded steeling her eyes on him.

The girl left shaking her head, presumably to find him some half-hearted excuse for food no doubt. He took this opportunity to transform back.

Jareth rose from sitting cross legged on her clothing/makeshift bed, knocking a few things over. He cracked his stiff back with a low groan but before he could take another step he was turned back, back into this humiliating, wretched bird form.

Jareth growled in frustration, it wasn’t even his favourite, his beloved benevolent snow -white owl , instead the beautiful mortal got to see him as this simpering black bird.

 It worried him though, he’d never been in the Above for this long. If he couldn’t change back into his natural form, he would be stuck like this forever, at the mercy and reliance on a young mortal girl for the rest of his raven life.

His sensitive ears picked up a crash downstairs and for a moment he thought about checking on the girl until he could hear the retrieving footsteps getting closer. He quickly re-seated himself. Blast it! It looked like he would have to put up with this appearance.

“sorry about that” She re-entered the room holding something in her hands.

She sat cross legged on her own bed, the thing creaking underneath her . Could be worse, he supposed, her own bed didn’t look anymore inviting than his ‘nest’. The mortal was pouring some of the contents in the dish.

The Goblin King craned his neck to see what it was he would have to force down his throat. He needed the strength, desperately. Beggars and choosers and all that.

She smiled satisfied, “here you go” setting the dish down in front of him.

He peaked over the rim. Ugh it was a mixture of seeds and berries. That would never give him any lasting boost.

“This isn’t the Ritz you know. No worms here” she threatened which only alight his impatience further.

Jareth gagged in his mouth “Worms! I should throw you in the Bog you silly creature for denigrating the king

It was better than nothing but he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of winning him over twice and stiffly turned his nose up.

What a night this was turning into.

The human was looking away from him at the clock on the wall with a groan. He noticed the time likewise

He’d been in the Aboveground for several hours now. But there was nothing he could do until he was healed.  How long could that take? Eons if she keeps feeding me this pitiful meal.

The girl’s face softened at the sight of him, making his harshness waver for a second under her curious stare.

 What are you thinking?

His heart was thudding harder as she reached out to touch him again. Jareth invited it, stilling so she could trace her soft fingers against his wings and torso. He shivered at the touch. She was smiling down at him, marvelling at him.

Jareth couldn’t resist shifting a bit under her appreciative stare. If she thought him pleasant to look upon as a dumb bird, what would she think of him as a man? He was almost tempted to find out had he been able to switch back at that very moment.

Unable to control himself he found himself bowing his head just to feel those fingers brush the crown of it. Bowing! To a mere mortal! He drank up the touch shamelessly and let out a little strangled gasp when she took him surprisingly in her arms, nest and all, to sit him in her lap.

 Well now this was far more like it! He smirked wishing on every star in existence he could transform imagining the surprise on her face! The thought of her reaction made him smirk. He was well aware of the effects he had on women, particularly mortal women.

As he began to calm the wind died, a good sign that things would improve.

 Jareth even nuzzled against her palm. Sleep was biting at him, calling for him, he could do so right there and then, it was the magic draining quickly, usually he could go without sleep for a day of two.

The Goblin King had never been held in such a manner he felt utterly safe in this mortal’s arms as if she could fend off any danger herself even if she was powerless and possibly trying to kill him off with the food. What the sodding hell am I even doing?

 

The Goblin King felt his heart wrench painfully within his chest. Not now , not now! He breathed in a short, ragged inhalation-  woozy with the overwhelming confusing emotions and the loss of magic that seeing the girl in such a state caused to churn violently within him. He could feel himself unbalancing this was not good.

Her hand met his head, simmering his overbearing panic attack bit by bit. That’s it, that’s it he cheered with relief. The air in him could flow freely now..

As if careful not to wake him, the girl shifted the nest with him inside to her nightstand. Jareth opened an eye groggily to see the mortal removing her clothing. Jareth’s eyebrows raised, he saw no reason for shame or guilt, as he looked at her with unabashed longing. Perhaps not a girl after all. What a creature, beautiful on the inside as well as out.

As if she could hear his thoughts you turned over her shoulder to him, “naughty bird” she tsked before slipping on a faded nightdress and into bed, beside him on the nightstand.

“Goodnight bird, whoever you are”

Oh if only you knew! he thought wickedly.

No more than five minutes had passed when he could hear her shallowing breathing, totally succumbed to sleep.

Jareth hopped from the scarves back over to the desk to the meagre meal you had set out before him.

 

He ate begrudgingly, these berries are sure to be unwashed, I’ll catch my death. Jareth the noble Goblin King, defeated by a mortal girl’s berry.

He chewed slowly. Actually…it was alright. Instead of sour, it was sweet as was the seeds. These were not natural made clearly. He gobbled it down then realised now that the hunger was fed, that was his lot for the night. He felt stronger now.

Jareth hopped onto the wooden flooring. Come on, come on he willed himself. But he wouldn’t change. Oh well.

He made his way to the vanity, even managing a flap of the wing with the help of the food. The Goblin King sighed, suddenly unable to rest. The girl were far gone into sleep now, nobody to amuse him.

He watched from behind her chest rise and fall before turning his eyes to the mortal’s full chamber. What a dismal place. He could see that even in the lack of light .

Jareth gazed at himself in the mirror with a smirk. Even in the bird form, he was a handsome devil, the poor mortal never stood a chance. His interest was sidetracked by small photograph by his head, black and white of a smiling couple, a man and a woman, arms looped around another , strangers to him, but the held some meaning to her clearly.

Jareth saw the girl’s open sketchbook, drawings of  birds. He was impressed, he squinted closer at them. They were magnificent, as real and detailed as he was. So the mortal is quite the artist.

She was becoming more curious now, what was her name? Jareth searched for something as a give-away on the desk but there was nothing in view. He’d find it out later he surmised.

The girl let out a small whimper then “no, please don’t leave!”

Jareth was frozen to the spot. Was she talking to him? When nothing more happened he fluttered from the desk to nest again to observe her.

She had her hand balled up tightly, distress across her face but her eyes were closed.

 She was having a nightmare about someone or something.

His heart strings tugged a little and he softened. An idea suddenly popped into his head. Would it work?

He sat in the nest concentrating with his eyes closed. Come on…

The Goblin King felt a wave wash over him, when he opened his eyes he was in total darkness, the girl lying in the middle, still asleep. Good. He was in her mind.

Jareth looked down at himself, turning his hands over, relieved to be freed from his small feathery appearance -even if it wasn’t real.

He waved a hand, brightening the scene, he concentrated on the appearance, weaving the room into a magnificent ballroom of ice-white. He changed his outfit too, to his favoured long blue coat, blonde hair free and loose.

Jareth heard a shifting behind him. The bed was now gone.

Excuse me” said the voice, it must be the girl, he turned to greet her with a smile but then found himself pulled from the dream sharply and opened his eyes again to be back in the mortal’s bedroom.

Drat ! He’d been close, the low magic must have worn off quickly.

The girl momentarily awoke too crying “Oh!” softly, even peering around her darkened bedroom but fell back against the pillows, asleep once more.

Hmmf.

It was no good. He needed time to heal for sure now, harnessing dreams should have been easy, if he couldn’t do that -he was in trouble.

Rest called to him. If he wanted to make it back eventually he’d have to preserve himself.

 The Goblin King stuck a leg in the nest gingerly and then another and positioned himself this way and that in an attempt to get comfortable, pah! before giving into sleep.

_*_

The Goblin King woke , cursing the sun “close those drapes!” he hissed, faced down in the warmth of the bed, to the goblins that served him.

When the sun was still on his face he propped himself up ready to spell any goblin in front of him to the Bog, when he remembered where he was. Oh no… the tell-tale black feathers that he shifted brought last night flooding back.

He turned his eyes down to land them on the mortal’s sleeping form. Ah, more was coming back to him.

He remembered the way she’d held him and shivered.

Upon this thought the girl suddenly turned over with a groggy smile , catching his staring.

“Good morning, bird” the girl said through a yawn, hand under her head watching Jareth sleepily. Good morning indeed.

No longer able to settle into sleep, he watched her stretch, swinging her legs over the bed to sit at her vanity desk. He observed curiously as she plucked the small photograph of the mystery couple and kiss it. Interesting…

When she began to shift her nightdress upwards, Jareth- being the gentleman he was of course- swiftly turned his eyes away this time, protecting her dignity whilst she dressed. He heard her give a small, satisfied ‘hmmm’ , peering down at the empty dish smugly.

‘Don’t pride yourself you little minx, I was practically starving’ he mentally replied but he would have smiled if he could.

She finished dressing and he felt his stomach rumble at the sight of her re-filling the dish. Oh thank heavens. But then hurriedly made her way to the door.

Jareth was more than a bit shook at the immediate sense of overwhelming loss he felt upon seeing her back turned in retreat. No, please don’t go… Jareth found himself pleading, the girl smiled at him pityingly and a little guilty “Be back around 3, okay” the mortal promised, closing the door behind her.

He heard the front door slam too, hopping quickly to the window to see her walking down the street, rucksack over her shoulder and turn at the corner out of sight.

He sighed now what? The clock on the wall read 9:30, 3 o’clock was a long time away. He’d have to entertain himself he supposed.

Jareth ate the sweet seeds and berries, slower this time, building up the magic inside. He wouldn’t throw it away so carelessly again. He saved some for later.

In the daylight the room still managed to look wretched. He didn’t know how mortals lived like this. It could do with sprucing up. The wood underneath was causing him to lose all sensation in his backside.

Jareth made his way to the vanity again and then strolled across the carpet to perch on the think bookshelf. He cocked his head to read some of the fading titles. Grim’s fairty-tales, Alice In Wonderland, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.

So the mortal likes a good old fashioned fantasy stories Jareth smirked.

 Though perhaps by the look of them they were not necessarily newly acquired. Quite tattered in places.

Jareth scanned some more then nearly had a heart attack bumping into a round box. The lid of the box opened slowly and began to play tinkling music. No no! He flapped about trying to shut the lid but the bloody thing wouldn’t budge, someone was bound to be alerted. It was only when he lept on the lid it closed. The music died off.

_*_

The door closed, bringing the house alive again . Jareth read the clock, it was not yet 3 o’clock but perhaps you had come a tad early. His heart leapt. His sensitive ears could pick up humming, a female voice for sure, but not yours.

The footsteps came closer and Jareth glamoured himself invisible, not all humans were keen on the idea of birds roaming their houses.

He sat on your bed plainly, awaiting to see his uninvited guest.

A woman marched through the door casting her eye around the room. She closed the window muttering something under her breath. The blonde woman hummed again, tutting at the array of colourful scarves made into his nest. She retrieved them, folding them up

 

Hmmm you shouldn’t be here he thought slyly at the woman’s creeping, the way she went through the girl’s possessions, turning over the ordered objects, opening and closing drawers. Who was this? Even though he was given no insight to her sneakings or her identity, her very presence irked him, the slyness of her actions. He should know, he was a master in that art.

The Goblin King could hear the muffled shout of the girl’s entry.

 “Hello?” the woman didn’t seem to notice even when her footsteps where approaching.

Ah you were home.

He watched you burst in, startling the older woman who jumped to immediately plummeted into telling you off he noticed your eyes skip around the room, looking for me?

The woman continued to shout and you didn’t look the least bit fazed which clearly irritated her more, oh you wind-up .

She said something again and was given a tight smile promising to do the dishes for the insufferable woman, like you were some scullery maid pah ! Not in the least!

Jareth heard you call for him but didn’t appear until you sounded as if you had given up. He glamoured himself to the beside table, your facing lighting up when your eyes landed on him

“Clever bird”

The mortal immediately soothed her hand over him, explaining her absence not that he could concentrate with the way her fingers moved up and down his feathers. You were so careful, like he was a prized possession.

“My name is Sloane- Sloane Hazel -in case you were wondering” he caught that.

 So that is her name.

She held out your hand as if for him to take . Had he been a man he would have and kissed it grandly but he could only twitch his head in acknowledgement.

Sloane Hazel. What an unusual name, fit for an unusual mortal that he had taken a shine to. ‘The little raider’. A raider indeed.

“It was my parents’ name. I guess I should probably call you something over than ‘bird’ ”. The mortal-Sloane-left his side to clear the mess that awful woman had caused.

 “That woman you just saw snooping around was my aunt. My uncle isn’t home yet. My parents are dead -so I live here. With them”.

The mortal held out the photograph to him, “that’s them. It’s okay, I got eight golden years with them, that’s more than some” you tipped up a smile, clearly trying to hide the underlying pain.

The absent parents. He felt sorry for her, doomed to live with such an awful woman, the man he had not met yet though he guessed he wasn’t exactly dazzle and shine himself.

She began to talk about herself, making up his bed again which he graciously seated himself in, feeling exhausted from the use of glamour as her soft voice played on his weariness like plucking the soft strings of an instrument. He closed his eyes willing her to speak on.

She was in front of him, giggling which startled him ‘oh yes laugh at my stupid form go on’ but he wasn’t really mad. Jareth was looking at the soft pucker of her lips as she spoke “I’m going to call you, ‘Never’. Like ‘Nevermore’, right?”

“Not that I’d expect you to understand, but it’s from a poem this guy wrote about a bird like you. He was a bit mad, but then maybe I am too talking to you”

He supressed a groan Nevermore! ’Very funny’ but this interested him so she is well read too

“Nevermore... Ooh what about More, like as in ‘Moore’, that’s a real name at least. It kind of suits you”.

“My name is Jareth and I am the Goblin King”  he wanted to say right then

“Moore it is”.

Fantastic . But he was in no place to argue

 

“Sloane! Why can I still see dishes?” Kari called from the bottom of the stairs. “what did I say about shoes in the house!” she sounded irritated. The mortal rolled her eyes at Jareth with a giggle.

It was a few days later, when the girl had tended to his every need since his arrival, showered him in adoration, he discovered he could change back to his natural form unexpectedly.

Jareth stared down at his hand, confused how he could suddenly open his palm, a pink crystal bursting from it, when a week ago he was at death’s door. It was incredible. He was getting better.

He gave an ecstatic laugh, throwing back his head. Jareth the insipid raven no longer! But…now what? Would he just leave? Like the girl wasn’t a part of his life now?

The Goblin King hesitated looked around the girl’s bedroom, the place he had called home for the time, to rest his head, his sanctuary, would he just turn his back and leave?

Of course you fool, one part of him sneered, but then the other part thought about the delight on her face when she would race home to tell him about her day, sometimes she would rehearse her lines to him and act out a few parts, to which he applauded -of course mentally- , hold him close at night, murmur him the things she couldn’t say to another. If only he could show her his real self. Well he could now... 

He would give her a gift. He crushed his hands together, closing his eyes to concentrate until the bangle he’d imagined formed in his hand.

 

“Hey, Moore, look what I found!”

Jareth stepped out from his hiding “hello, my dear” he greeted in his honey smooth voice but forgot he was the raven again, the blasted “caaar” that came from his beak instead, grating on his ears.

 “did you just make a noise?!” Your eyes light up “Where did you come from anyway?” .

Jareth climbed on your arm, holding the bracelet proudly in his beak, hoping you would take the bloody heavy thing before he dropped it altogether.  “What’s this? Can I see?”. 

Sloane held it curiously for a second, admiringly even, before placing it in the nest.

 Jareth bit back a growl at her obliviousness before shoving it out of the nest towards her again, hoping she would put two and two together.

 The girl stared at him confused, placing it at the very end of the desk so that he had to traispe all the way there just to push it in her direction again

 ‘she’ll be the bloody death of me’  he thought, wheezing at his damned weakness.

“Wait” she said “is this, for me?”

Jareth let out a sigh of relief “a round of applause for Ms. Hazel! he said sarcastically but instead again “caaar!”

She slipped it on her wrist, fitting her perfectly.

Without warning she swept Jareth up cradling him “I love it” she said to him, right in his ear that gave him goosebumps, feeling along his soft wings with the tips of her fingers, then his neck, it was enough to drive anyone mad, mortal or not.

The spell was broken when that irritating voice of her aunts called her away forcing her to leave him alone once more. No!

The door shut behind her and Jareth turned back letting out a sigh. He ran his hand across his jaw where her fingers had just been a moment ago…

He swirled his hand for a crystal , gazing in it to see where she’d gone.

“Actually, Sloane, I was wondering if you would stay home this time, you know I don’t like the house left empty…Brian and I haven’t had much time together recently. He’s been very stressed at work”

Interesting… A wave of fury swept over him, upon seeing Sloane’s hopeful face crumple with bitter disappointment. She was being let down in someway. That godforsaken woman! If he had been the one on the receiving end of that beguiling look of hers, he could have denied her nothing.

He could have denied her… nothing…

He whipped the crystal away at the spark of an idea, that solved his nagging problem.

 If he couldn’t leave Sloane to rot in this awful place…Then he’d take her with him. To the Underground.

His heart leapt -why hadn’t he thought of this before!

You know why.

Jareth switched back upon hearing her ascending pounding footsteps. The door banged open, startling even him. Wrath.

Sloane threw herself on her bed, face down. She didn’t make a sound for a minute, he’d even thought she’d fallen asleep until he heard the tell-tale gasp of a sob being released. Then another and another. She was crying. Jareth’s heart broke for her. The Goblin king nudged her arm, “look upon me, my sweet”.

“Caaar”

 Sloane sniffed, then sniffed again. He saw her angelic, tear-stained face, lift from the bed with a wobbling smile “iss ssnot fair, Moore”, she said hiccuping, “It’s like they dow-don’t even want to be seen with me! Imagine! Their o-own nuh-niece!”.

Sloane composed herself sluggishly, touching his bent head.

“Sometimes I think it’s easier to talk to you than to some of the people I know. Like you’re my oldest friend or something. Funny, huh? You’re lucky though, you have wings, when you’re better you can go anywhere. Where am I going? I’m going to be stuck forever. In this dismal town…” she trailed off.

It was ironically amusing. A week ago, he hadn’t realised he had neglected to possess much of a heart at all and now here he was, giving everything to her. It …was a strange realisation, to want to protect and care solely for someone other than himself. He recognised the feeling well.

Oh no this won’t do at all…He smirked, mentally at least. In a way it was a bit exhilarating, a bit juvenile but the Goblin King was fond of games.

“Sometimes I wish somebody would take me away” she murmured darkly, flickering her gaze to look directly into Jareth’s eyes “know what I mean?”.

Everything was falling into place, he could see it. He would gladly whisk her away to his land, where he would then gift her all of her dreams and cater to her every whim, where would dare to turn her away, least of all him. If she were so terribly unwanted by everyone in her life, he would be more than to relieve them of her.

She fell asleep shortly after that.

Jareth knew he had to play this whole matter very carefully and not spring too much on the girl just yet.

Blast it was freezing in here!

Sensing she was truly succumbed he quietly transformed for a moment.

He cast her a fond smile as he crossed to the window; latching it and drawing the curtains across to relieve them both of an early awakening from the sun.

He could feel his magic wearing off already, “Sleep well, sweet,” Jareth whispered, as he came to stand by Sloane’s bed, above her, he drew the blanket over her, fighting the urge to bend down and press a gentle kiss to her forehead to let her know she  was safe now, in good hands, that from here on, somebody was looking out for her.

“ For I have an idea” he murmured finishing off his thoughts before switching back under the light of the moon.

Jareth practiced his magic every day, showering Sloane with a treasury of jewels he’d made himself ,fit for a queen. He was definitely getting stronger.

He found he could enter her dreams fully now, he could hold her and dance with her. What joys they were even if they weren’t real. Then she’d wake up and the spell would be broken. She’d only remember fragments but they were etched in her mind somewhere. The mortals often had trouble recalling their encounters with magic, but they never left them behind. She was happy. He was glad.

One night he returned to the castle momentarily. Jareth had been hoping the underground had not fallen to pieces in his long absence and was grateful that for once everything seemed to be in order. He sunk into the armchair by the fire in his own chamber with a grateful sigh. It definitely beats a wooden nightstand.

Jareth got to work immediately. He knew exactly what had to be done.

He’d attached a tag to the book “Read me

He’d also signed the front page in his own swirling cursive writing “For Sloane”.

Jareth leant over to place the book on her bed and entered her dream.

One day, when Jareth watched her leave as she normally did every morning from sitting on her window ledge. He was tossing a pink crystal and catching it again and again when curiosity got the better of him. He followed her journey from the house, grateful to finally feel the wind under his wings. He was careful to hide , flying above her undetected.

He waited patiently all day for Sloane, sometimes peering through windows to observe her quietly in classes until he was shooed away .

 Jareth was beginning to grow tired of the lack of closeness until spotted her and another friend approaching the outdoors. His heart leapt.

 They were chatting idly about something or another, every now and the Sloane said something highly amusing which made the friend burst out laughing, clutching Sloane’s arm.

He felt a stab of jealousy towards the friend, solely based on the simple fact that she was able to get so close to Sloane and have a real conversation with her, unlike his reduced state.

“Guilt tripping me to share my homework that’s new” he heard her chide and the pair laughed.

“Life saver” the friend leant in to embrace Sloane.

The same stab of jealousy struck Jareth, he involuntarily glared, the emotion so strong he accidently transformed at the exact moment the friend’s eyes fell in his direction, on him.

Uh oh.

It was too late- he’d been seen judging by the way the friend’s eyes widened at him. Sloane, however had ducked under the table and missed the whole thing.

He could hear her say something muffled and once again locked eyes on the friend who was gawping at him wordlessly. With a smirk, Jareth put his finger to his lips and disappeared from view.

He watched in his raven form from the tree nearby as the friend struggled to contain what she’d just seen , he saw the friend try and explain but by the looks of it , Sloane was hardly phased. Probably just as well.

Jareth deciding he’d seen enough for today took off to head back. He was beginning to grow tired again.

 The warm of the scarf nest was calling to him , though most nights Jareth instead snuck out of the nest and hopped to Sloane’s bed to lie still against her and her own bodily warmth and subtly moved back before she woke.

When he fluttered through Sloane’s open window a warm, sharp sensation passed over him.

The sensation was so strong it knocked him into his natural form and made him double over. Jareth fell to his knees, clutching his stomach.

“Augh!” He’d never felt anything like this before. It didn’t last long, it was almost pleasant but it was strange.
He could hear raised voices downstairs, by the sounds of it, the girl was in trouble for some reason or another. Again. It sounded like tonight she’d really be in for it, something special was going on apparently.

“-hould be here by now!” cried a shrill voice and Jareth groaned clutching his forehead. One thing he wasn’t going to miss when they finally left.

He picked himself up to sit on the corner of the single bed, it creaked violently. Some nights when Sloane rolled over the noise of the bed often stirred him awake irritably.

The door downstairs creaked, Sloane was home. Thank god.  Jareth listened in trying to decipher what was happening.

He waited to change back into the bloody bird form now that he was no doubt shot of magic juice by now but nothing happened.

 In fact, he felt fine.

He stalked over to the vanity mirror , inspecting his eyes and then stuck out his tongue to inspect that. Everything was normal . He was healed.

He recognised her footsteps coming closer. Jareth lent casually against the desk, observing a car drive away down the street. He smiled ruefully.

 “Moore?”

 Jareth disappeared.

Chapter Text

Drink Tea.

Tick, tock, tick tock




The sound draws you from your slumber. 

You open your eyes to find yourself standing in the Outskirts overlooking the labyrinth where your adventure had begun. 

“What the-”

 

It looked to be early morning, the sky streaked in purples and pinks, in the anticipation for the sun to rise fully. It was eerily beautiful. 

The wind was blowing right through you .

You shiver, holding your arms until you feel a rush of warmth melt over you. You look down at yourself, seeing you’re now wrapped in the  blue cloak. 

You turn to the loud ticking, overriding your thoughts.

Tick, tock, tick, tock

Jareth was leaning against a tree, one hand behind his back, the black antique clock he used to time your run was above his head. The thin hands on the clock face read 6:30. He was gazing over the Labyrinth .  

“Good morning?” you raise an eyebrow, pulling the cloak further around you. 

He inclined his head in acknowledgement in your direction with a quiet smile, still overlooking the labyrinth with distant eyes. 

You yawn into the cloak.

 “You could have just woken me up you know, no need for the theatrics” you mumble, finding yourself also starring sleepily over the labyrinth. 

“Why am I here anyway?” you sit on a stone rock just in front of the tree.

He didn’t reply straight away. 

“Sometimes I come here when I need to think,”

Jareth took his eyes away from the view to rest on you softly.

“I didn’t mean to summon you, I’m sorry, you can go back to bed if you wish” he raised his hand gently for a crystal. 

“No, no, it’s ok, I’m here now i might as well stay, if you want me to?”

He smirked at your uncertainty, tilting his head back against the tree again, to lift his eyes to the Labyrinth “yes, I want you to”.

You sit in silence, not that you mind, in your sleepy state.

 It was nice, peaceful.

 There were birds calling in nearby trees, flowers blooming under the arriving sun, the labyrinth’s outer walls sparkled. 

You don’t remember the Outskirts like this the last time you were here, but of course your mind was on other things at the time, like how on earth you were going to make it through the Labyrinth and getting home. 

Now, it looked all the magical being it was, your heavy eyes stay resting on the view, just taking the time to drink it all in. Little by little. you unpick the small details you hadn’t noticed before against the orange streaked sky. 

You give an involuntary content sigh as you curled your knees against your chest. 

“Did you sleep well?” he asks softly 

You shrug then shake your head. 

“Not really, but I think I’ve had more than enough sleep already, I’ll be okay for now”

“You had a lot on your mind I imagine”

You lock your fingers over your knee cap “things have...been a lot to take in, yeah” 

In truth, you were wide awake for most of the night, only dropping off occasionally to snap awake again.

The bed felt too strange for you to relax in, to the point where you found yourself missing your old knackered single in your bedroom. Whenever you shifted, you expected to hear the creaks and groans under the floorboards but faced silence.  

Apart from that, your mind couldn’t switch off.

Every time your eyes closed you found yourself staring back at the high, crumbly walls of the Labyrinth.. 

How could anyone ever sleep in a place like the Underground? 

There was so much you didn’t know or hadn’t seen, or wanted to see again, just to check this was indeed all happening, not just a fever dream. Even after everything you’d experienced , part of you still couldn’t believe it was quite real. 

“What about you?” you swivel to face him. 

“Similar to you, but most likely for different reasons” the Goblin King tugged the corner of his mouth up. 

You gave a nod, not that you really understood

 “Right”

There was a pause. You didn’t really know what to say. 

“And you’re alright?” he looks down his nose, awaiting your answer. 

You gave another shrug. Alright . Were you alright?

“I’ve done my crying” you say definitely, but that’s all. 

“hmm” 

Not the answer he was looking for apparently.

You bite your lip looking at the dirt, rolling a stone under your shoe “so, what were you thinking about?”

“Beg pardon?”

“You said you come here to think, what does a Goblin King come all the way out here to think about this early in the morning” 

“This and that” he pushed himself off the tree, sucking his teeth, “how about breakfast, since we’re already here, are you hungry?”

You felt your stomach gurgle, suddenly reminding you you hadn’t eaten since the night you ate the soup.

You gave a sheepish smile “I could eat”. 

Jareth chuckled between stretching his arms out in front of him, allowing you to briefly see the pale skin and lean muscle under his leather layers. 

He tugs you to your feet, indicating to follow behind him as he began to walk.

“Wait, where are we going?”

“Just looking for flat ground” he mumbled, scanning over the dusty earth. 

He stopped short suddenly, making you bump into him, “ oof ”. 

 “Here should do it”. 

Three blue and pink tinged bubbles expanded from his fingertips. 

Jareth popped two of them, blowing the third in your direction to allow you to pop it curiously. It made a nice change to be outside the bubble for change. 

You watch it burst into a chair to accompany another identical chair and a round table for two. 

“Wait you meant we’re going to eat, here , here?”

“It’s a fine morning, I don’t see why not” Jareth shook out a checkered tablecloth gracefully sweeping it over the table and placed down two sets of cutlery glinting in the sun and a plate each. 

You couldn’t argue you supposed, it was a good view after all. 

The wind had since died down to only a soft breeze and the morning chill was wearing off, though you still kept the cloak over you, mostly because you forgot to ask for pyjamas last night, well aware you were still dressed in your days old clothing. 

He pulls out one of the chairs, standing behind it, gesturing for you to sit. 

“Ms. Hazel,“ the Goblin King bobbed his head, blonde strands of hair lightly shifting forward.

You roll your eyes, taking your seat while he tucked in your chair. 

“Now then, what would Ms. Hazel like for breakfast?” 

He took his own seat so you were facing each other with the labyrinth on your left. 

“oh, um... cereal?”

Jareth began to laugh “of all the things in the world, Sloane Hazel would like her cereal”

your cheeks warmed “well...whatever” you mumbled. 

What did you eat for breakfast in the underground? In fact, what did you eat at all, nevermind breakfast? You sorely hoped it wouldn’t be leaves and berries like in the fairy-tales.

“I tease, of course you can have whatever you wish”

“Well, what are you having?” 

“Me? Well now, how abouuuut,” 

He rested his chin on his gloved hand, elbow propped up on the table. His fingertips tapped against his cheek as he mulled over the idea like it was an important decision until he broke into a smirk.

“Hmmm, I know -“

 A cloud of inky purple smoke and glitter flashed over the table. 

Assorted china plates and silver dishes clunked onto it in unison, covering practically the every inch, all shapes and sizes- holding the most wonderful eye catching things. You could pick out the smell of eggs and bacon before anything else. Your mouth watered. 

“-a bit of everything”

Not like the stories at all. 

He had gloat on him, not under-passing an opportunity to show off his abilities. You let him, consumed with the food.

“How-” you go to ask but catch the words in your mouth. Nothing’s impossible.

Jareth stood to pluck a fluffy piece of toast from a silver tray “well, go on then, help yourself” 

Your fingers hovered over the dishes, unsure where to start, and this was only breakfast! 

You pluck a ration of bacon, scoop some scrambled egg and a piece of toast, pouring yourself tea into teacup- though you wish it was coffee instead. 

Jareth began to cut into a tomato, flicking his eyes at your little plate momentarily. 

“There’s no need for modesty here, Sloane, I mean it, have anything you want, I can’t imagine how hungry you must be by now, you’ll need the strength”

When you eye his plate you see he’s helped himself generously, a full English and a half even. 

 

You shrugged, embarrassed. 

"I can hear how hungry you are. The least I can do is feed you”  Jareth pretended to find his food interesting, looking at his fork, “you’ve fed me enough times...”

You were hungry, more than you had been at the lake.

  Fuck it,  

you don’t care if it’s poisoned or drugged or whatever.  you help yourself to another ration, a buttered croissant

You bite into a particularly appetising piece of toast with a fried egg on top that had the brightest yellow oke you’d ever seen. 

oh my god ” 

You begin to chew slowly, until you finish.

ugh so good , definitely a step up from CocoPops

You quickly dab your chin with the back of your hands at the grease sliding down, hoping he didn’t notice. 

“I feel disgusting” you said with a happy sigh, sitting back.

The Goblin King laughed beside you “welcome to the Underground” you clinked teacups.

Jareth sliced into a delicately powdered pancake, how the hell he had room for that you didn’t know. 

“Would you like some?” he waved a piece on his fork at you.

Your stomach heaves “no, stop, I’m going to burst” you giggle “you’re spoiling me”

“What’s wrong with being spoiled? “ Jareth says lightly, spreading jam over a hot-cross bun, “when was the last time somebody made you breakfast?” he bit into it, tilting his head. 

The question catches you off guard. 

“oh, um...”

You had to seriously think about it. 

By the time you woke in the mornings Brian and Kari were already at work. You only had enough time before school for cereal, weekends were pretty much the same story, you had to rush off between rehearsals and studying or you just lazed in and missed breakfast altogether, you don’t even recall breakfast made for you at Christmas or your birthday, most likely because neither Kari or Brian were particularly good cooks anyway. 

“Well…okay fair point” you reach for the teacup, having your third cup. 

You didn’t want to spoil the moment or the effort that he was at least trying to make, but your inner voice can’t help but nag at you. And for once you listen to it.

“I know what you’re doing- thinking you can butter me up with breakfast”

“I have no idea know what you mean” 

Jareth pretended to find his butter knife interesting, avoiding your eyes but he couldn’t help the smirk spread on his face 

“ -that wasn’t the plan at all, but is it working anyway?” 

“yeah” you nod. 

 You leave it at that, not being hostile, but still letting him know you’re not so easily fooled, he was right earlier, your run in the Labyrinth was over. You were finished dancing to his tune. 

You couldn’t be bothered to start another argument, especially if you wanted answers out of him later, so for now, you let it lie.

You turn your head in time to catch a flock of birds cross the sky, you could see the hubbub of the Goblin City  in full swing even from all the way up here.  

It was something close to feeling as though you were watching the world wake up and begin the day, the pair of you admired the sun over the Labyrinth in content silence. 

The sounds of the insects in the thin clumps of grass, like cicadas, filled your ears. The clock above chimed the hour. 

“This is really nice” 

“I’m glad” he teased

“No, I mean it, it’s lovely” 

“So do I, I’m glad ” 

Jareth had a lingering triumphant smile on his face, his bejewelled broach at the throat kept shining in your face under the light. In fact, all of him seemed to sparkle today, you had to keep forcing your eyes at the ground or just behind his ear to stop yourself being caught staring at him. 

You arch your back, stretching, “do you come out here a lot? Eat as well?” 


“Sometimes” the Goblin King considered the view for a moment, speaking in it’s direction rather than to your face.

  “I’d rather be out here, in the open, than eat alone at a long dining table in a drafty castle, wouldn’t you?”.

“oh... yeah, probably” 

You looked at your plate, embarrassed. That sounded quite sad.

 You never considered the Goblin King would be lonely. Was he lonely? Weren’t there other people here? Just goblins? No there must be, I saw some, remember?

You rack your brains trying to picture their faces but everything you remember seeing- or thought you’d seen- in the ballroom was slightly blurred,  plus they were wearing masks. 

You scratched at your wrist where the seal was. It was angry red and irritating. You scratch it again, feeling as if it was burning into your skin. 

Jareth rested his knife and fork on either side of his plate “is that hurting you?”

“No, it’s just itchy”  

He wiped his mouth and hands with a napkin, beckoning for your hand “here”

You gave it, “can you stop it? it’s driving me nuts” 

“i can but you won’t like it” 

“just do whatever you have to do” you wince at the urge to grab his butter knife scratch your skin off.


You assume he’s going to pull out a crystal or whatever but unexpectedly, Jareth plucks off his gloves by the fingertips.

He opened his mouth,  putting the pad of his thumb to the inside of his cheek. Jareth held it there, looking up, humming under his breath.  

“I don’t-”

Jareth closed his mouth,  pressing his thumb to the seal on your wrist.

“well that’s disgusting “ you shake your head looking away trying not to flinch at the fizzing sensation as he pressed the saliva into the wound. 

“Would you have rather I’d have licked your wrist?”

 Jareth bobbed his eyebrows suggestively making you blush deeply “n-no” as you try not to picture exactly how that would look and feel. 

“That any better?” 

You take it back, the redness all gone, just leaving the skin glittery like his own “yeah actually”.

He waves his hand, and you watched as the plates and dishes slowly faded in front of your eyes. 

 

The Goblin King held a crystal by his fingertips, elongating it until it stretched to form a yellowed newspaper.

Jareth sat back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. 

The Goblin King reading a newspaper. Well how about that. 

You giggled, earning you a look from over the paper’s rim “am i amusing you?”

“No it’s just-” you gesture to the paper and then shake your head “you’re being so usual” 

The Goblin King smirked, continuing to read,  pretending to be unfazed as he scanned the paper “am I normally unusual?”

You bit your lip thoughtfully, how could he be so unaware of how ‘Other’ he was, in his get-up and looks down to the way he moved?

On the other hand, you suppose he was considered normal in the Underground, meaning you were the ‘Other’ one in this scenario.

 “You’re the most unusual usual person I’ve ever met” you said confidently

“Congratulations to me then” Jareth shuffled the paper, going back to reading. 

You rest your head in your hand, staring at the view. How could anyone grow tired of seeing this? 

You wish you had something of your own to read, one of your mum’s faded paperbacks or something it would be so perfect right now.

At least reading would be something to look forward to now that you had “ forever ”. You could read all you wanted without being interrupted by essays. The thought gave you a warm feeling in your stomach.

You settle to watching the world go by for a while and pretend not to notice him sneaking looks at you, he may as well have cut two eye holes in the paper like in the films. Honestly .

In this moment, sitting on top of a hill peering over the kingdom, under the sun, you were quite sure you could get used to this.

Jareth sighs, folding the paper twice and making it vanish. 

“I can’t read like this, too many distractions” his eyes dance at you. 

You give him a sideways glance. 

“Sooo…” he says in a sing song voice “so, first day in the Underground. Well, first day free and conscious anyway”

“If you’re trying to soothe me over you’re going to have to stop saying things like that”

Jareth continues without changing his tone. 

“What do you want to do first? I was thinking about a tour today, you’ve already had the full experience of the Labyrinth . Or would you like to see your room before?”

Your ears prick up, “ my room?”.

 Maybe he was trying to divert from the inevitable that he promised , or make you forget but the idea. 

You never even considered having a place of your own. A whole bedroom in a castle just for you. 

My room

“The tower room’s served its purpose, I’m sure you’d want your own space anyway, give you a chance to settle in”

Settle

“Y-es”

“Right then” he slapped his thighs, jumping up. 

You stood, accepting the arm he offered you.

“Oh wait, do you want this back?” You pull the cloak off your shoulder but he stops you, tugging it back up again.

 “No, no, you keep it, I rather think it suits you” 

Jareth gave an approving nod even though you knew you probably looked like a mess right now. Actually, the idea of washing properly sounded promising

 “My room it is then” you nod, picturing what it would look like. 

You think he’s about to pull out a crystal and poof you there but instead the pair of you stride over to a large slate boulder nearby. Jareth nudges it aside with his foot, revealing a trapdoor underneath. 

The Goblin King looks from the trapdoor in the earth to you, with a wicked beam “after you”. 

The trapdoor opens and you could see the beginning of a slide. Oh no

“You have these things everywhere?” 

“A whole network tangled under the labyrinth”

“well that’s...good to know”

 “It’s the quickest and most fun way to travel” 

 

You begin to back off, remembering the last time you were down one of these.

 “ Fun ”, was not the right word at all. 

“I think I’ll throw up” you said in a small voice.

He threw his head back laughing “nonsense you’ll be sound” Jareth grabs a nearby mat, setting it down at the mouth of the slide.  “Now, i’m certain the Above are familiar with how this works” 

“Yeah, you sit on the mat and slide down, hardly rocket science”

“Hmmm” Jareth looks under another rock, “it appears I only have one mat -you don’t mind sharing do you?” his teeth gleamed predatory like.

“Can’t we just use one of your crystals” you fold your arms, knowing exactly what he was up to. 

 Jareth folded his arms leaning an elbow on the rock,  “Mmm you said you wanted to “see Underground properly”, and this is the most ‘proper’ you can get” he crossed one foot over the other.

You stare at the slide, disappearing into the darkness.

“Now, now I think someone's coming down with a case of Scaredy Cat”

That did it. Your shoulders immediately square, whatever effect he was looking to have it worked, you would not show vulnerability in front of the Goblin King. You knew it was a ploy but you went along with it anyway. 

It’s just a slide, you went through a whole labyrinth and you’re scared of a slide?

Jareth winked, as if able read to your thoughts “now- are you in, or are you out?” 

 

You sighed, caving in “not like I have much choice”.  

“That’s the spirit” Jareth takes your hand, helping you to crouch without toppling over to seat yourself on the mat.

“I’ll get you back for this you know” you mumble under your breath.

 You sit with your knees up, stomach doing flips at what’s about to happen. You inch forward, trying to give him as much space as possible so he doesn’t have to be so close to you in already a small proximity. 

 You try not to jump when you feel either side of his legs slip around yours as he shifts to get comfortable. Looks like your efforts were wasted. 

Oh god .

You felt yourself flush, the warmth rushing through you, that same buzz you felt whenever he was close, just like when you were in the ballroom. 

“You do trust me, don’t you?” he murmurs by your ear suddenly, hot breath making your hairs stand on end . You felt a pool of warmth in the pit of your stomach.

You nod, although you want to say “ no, you’re a reptile and I definitely don’t trust you” , but the words die in your throat. You nod, and try not to think about his body heat near you .

“Good” he tucks a strand of hair behind your ear, making your heartbeat speed up. Before you can register anything else he’s already pushed off from the mouth of the slide, hurtling the pair of you forwards. 

The speed automatically reels you backwards, you find yourself pressing into him. 

The darkness unsettles you at first but you remind yourself you’re with the Goblin King this time, you’re quite safe. 

You turn a sharp corner, making you yelp and clap your hands over your eyes. You are scared, fuck your pride you should have just said no.

You instinctively press further against him, as if trying to escape the whole ordeal altogether, feeling his own chest vibrate with chuckling. Jareth crosses his arms further around your own. 

“Look up, Sloane” 

You shake your head, feeling sick. 

“Look up, you’ll love it I promise”

You cautiously squint open an eye above you, seeing little purple and white lights whizz overhead. 

You blink, trying to focus on them, immediately forgetting your fears.

“What are they?” you say loudly into his ear against the rushing wind. 

“Roots. Of the trees in the Labyrinth, look-” he momentarily takes his arm off yours but you yelp, pulling it back in case you fall forward. 

Jareth’s other arm stretches across  you further so he can free the other, pointing to the roots 

“touch them” .

You shakily reach a hand out, grazing your fingers along the tree roots that rush past you, at your touch, they spark a rainbow glow that makes you shiver and tingle at the fingertips. 

“Woahhh” you gasp, giggling. You turn your hand over as if expecting it to glow itself.

“Magic. Pure magic” Jareth trails his own hand across the roots, causing the dark to light up with colour and spark. 

You do it again, pressing your palm against the roots further, revelling in the tingling feeling.

Actually, this was kind of fun. You felt light, like you were flying, you laugh tilting your head back so it echoes all around you as you zip through the darkness. He joins in. 

Man, this felt amazing! Why didn’t he just give you this earlier? 

“not too much!” Jareth takes your hand off rapidly

 You hear him say something only the lines of “ dangerous ” and “ imbalance ” but it sounds as if he’s underwater. 

You giggle and touch it one more time daringly with the tip of your finger to irk him, earning your shoulders to be pulled back roughly against him.  

minx ” he says, humming in your ear heavily “you better be good, you know” you can feel Jareth’s lips on the very tip of your ear, long strands of hair teasing your cheek.

 You’re immediately pulled back into focus, your entire face ignites and you’re extremely glad neither of you are touching the roots or you’d be bright red for all the world to see. 

Suddenly Jareth holds you by the shoulders tighter, voice returning to usual pitch. 

“Here we go, sit tight” 

You go rigid, ready for impact. 

Ahead of you, a trap door swings open, evading light into the darkness.

The mat flies off, the pair of you land on cushions as you had before. 

The trapdoor behind you swings shut. 

This time, instead of a dark cave, you’re in a large circular stone room. You’re in the castle, you must be.

You blink, standing and realising little over 50 pairs of eyes on you, gawping. 

A guard, who you mistook for an old man at first -had it not been for his long ears and snout-nose- pushed his way through the mob, to bow to Jareth, panting.

“Sire! The girl ! She’s escaped!  From the tower!”

 

“Hello”  you poke your head around Jareth’s tall figure, causing the little creatures  to step back in unison with a hushed gasp.

 The guards’ ears flap up like a dog’s, scratching his head in confusion.

Jareth exhaled, putting a hand to his temple patiently, indicating these kinds of incidents happened all too often. 

“I know, Candlewick, I let her out”

You side-eye him. He coughed, correcting himself “I mean invited”. 

The Goblins didn’t try and hide their curiosity, gawping at you and pointing. 

You stare back just as much, but not for too long, some were quite unsettling to look at.

  So this is what goblins look like. Well, they weren’t far off the fairytales. You were grateful Jareth looked nothing like them at least. 

One prodded your elbow making you swat it away

 “hey!”

 They just grinned, delighted by your reaction, edging each other on, pushing one another towards you. 

In a way they were like small children, really , really ugly children. 

Unexpectedly, one small one pinched the back of your ankle, making you yelp. Their yapping peals of laughter echoed around you.

“Ow!” you grasp your ankle, “what was that for!” you hopped on one foot, only amusing them further. 

 

Jareth threw his head back laughing, putting his hands on his hips, “oh yes, I think you’ll do just fine here” 

You gave daggers at the goblin laughing behind its paw at you.

 

Jareth leaves your side to shuck his cape and fold it over a circular seat of some kind.

He motions for you to follow him out of the room and you don’t hesitate, well aware of the beady red eyes boring into your backs.

“is it always like this?”

You walk down a dimly lit corridor that stretched out before you .

“Nevermind them, outsiders are few and far between here,  they’ll get used to you”

The pair of you stride in unison along a hallway. 

You felt awkward in the silence apart from your patter of footsteps, the sound of his boots drowning out your trainers.

 You peak at them. Look at that heal! No wonder he always towered over you!

You should probably say something.

Ugh small talk . 

Jareth exhaled air from his nose “this the first I’ve seen you so quiet. I got more out of you in the Labyrinth” 

“i was just thinking”

He sucked his teeth “sounds dangerous”

You nudged him in the ribs with your elbow “only because you know I’m smarter than you”

“Not smart enough to solve a labyrinth apparently”

That earned him a forceful shoulder shove.

 Jareth, only too delighted, shoved you back, just as hard, with a daring twinkle in his eye again . 

You bite the bait, pushing him again. 

Jareth gets carried away,  giving full force with both hands unexpectedly so that you miss your footing and clang against the stone wall, hitting your head with a comical donk 

“Oh shit ” you clutch your head, crouching from the stinging “oh fuckkk that hurts” 

“sorryareyoualright ” Jareth garbles, crouching beside you, looking genuinely frightened. 

There’s a pause. You stare at each other for a second too long until you both burst out laughing -you between the wincing.

 Jareth pulls you to your feet carefully while you rub your head .

“I’ll go easier on you next time” he mimes a shoulder punch teasingly to mask his doubts.

You feign rolling your eyes, the pain in your crown ebbing away, “I let you have that one”

“I should be careful then next time ” Jareth plays along 

“you may not be so lucky”

“could be absolutely fatal”  he agrees 

“I’ll let it slide for now”

“Very generous of you”

He holds out an arm for you to take. Well there was the awkwardness taken care of

Maybe he should slam me into walls more often  

You bite down on your cheek to stop a giggle at that thought. 

You realise you’ve passed through multiple corridors, all with the same high ceilings,  under hung candelabras and torches fitted to the walls.

“I don’t know how I’m going to find my way around this place “ 

You crane your neck  looking for little unique points in every corridor to remember each by but they looked exactly the same, maybe that was the point. 

“You will. The trick is not to look too hard”

“That doesn’t make sense at all”


“Sometimes we find the things when we don’t go looking for them” 

Suddenly remembering what the Wise Man said you blurt “sometimes the way forward is the way back” 

Jareth side-eyed you at that unexpected response, “exactly” .

You still didn’t understand but maybe Underground logic was no logic, just spontaneous, it seemed to be how things were around here. 

 

“Up here”

You climb a flight of steps, coming to a corridor.

It’s funny, the castle never looked this big from all the way in the Labyrinth, but then neither did the Labyrinth itself at first glance and oh boy how wrong you were about that.

Through the centre of the corridor was a red rug like a river covering the  flagstone floor. 

“And here we are” Jareth stops short at a large round door. 

“In here?”

He smiles “I don’t see any other doors”  turning the large doorknob, creaking it open.

He lets you slip inside first and you gasp.

It’s not the stiff, medieval drafty room you expected at all, it’s much cosier. 

You blink a few times as your eyes adjust in the difference in light. 

Your mouth parts in astonishment. 

“wow” you say softly. 

The room isn’t huge but roughly the size of your living room at home , definitely bigger than what you were used to. 

“You are my guest, you didn’t think I’d stuff you any old place did you?”  Jareth tsked but you could tell he was awaiting your appraisal.  

He had an arm crossed over his chest, elbow resting on it and tapping his cheek with his finger expectantly.

You pivot on the spot to see everything.

In front of you was a small grid window with what you assumed to be your bed situated in front of it, a little larger than a single, covered in assorted pillows, floral sheets and knit throws.

On the thin bookshelf was a few dusty hardbacks that you would definitely be investigating soon. 

Candles tall and short sat everywhere , some new, some ancient, judging by the wax dripping. 

The few paintings hung on the walls were slanted at an angle. 

Overall, it gave a chaotic feeling but in a strange way it was also calming, your own little hide-away. It was perfect. 

By the ribbons, bells  and pearls hung from the candleholders and draped across the furniture, it was as if a slice of the ballroom had been cut and squashed into the room. 

“Do you like it?” he breaks off your thoughts “if not there are oth-” 

“no, no its fine”

He was trying after all you supposed, probably going off a generic girl’s interests. You could hardly blame him for not knowing what a modern teenage girl’s bedroom looked like, your previous was hardly a model. 

“It’s lovely” you say with a genuine smile. 

Judging by the clean and fresh smell, the room was most likely unattended for sometime and then suddenly upheaved. 

“You haven’t seen the best bit yet” The Goblin King tugged at the curtains you hadn’t immediately noticed, peeling them back to let in more light and reveal another  window. 

Your eyes widen. 

“oh wow !”  you join his side.

From here you have an amazing view of the Goblin City as well as the Labyrinth and in the distance fields and hills with what looked like cattle grazing in them.

It was a pretty place, you could see that much.

The orange and black streak sky you had grown used to seeing in the Labyrinth was replaced by light blue against purple and pink clouds.

It looked like something from a painting but it was here, it was real. You realised suddenly how close the city was to the castle when you had mistaken it for much further away when you were standing on the Labyrinth’s walls.  

It also made you realise, with a pang in the stomach, exactly how close you had been to winning, since you could see the very Junk Yard you had been standing in days ago before you fell into the Oubliette. 

 The city was so close, you could smell the tell-tale chimney smoke,  even with the closed windows. 

You can hardly take your eyes off the view. 

A wooden desk , doubling as a vanity, sat strategically in front of it. Your mind ran wild just imagine the inspiration you’d have sitting here.

“this is amazing”  

“I’m glad”

 

You turn, catching your own shocked expression in the mirror of the dark wardrobe. Beside it, stood a thin coat rack, hanging up dad’s jacket that someone had thankfully collected. 

You shuffle your feet, remembering why you were desperate to be here in the first place. 

“So um, about settling in...” you trail off sheepishly. 

Jareth nods, understanding without embarrassing you, “of course, I’ll leave you to it” 

He moved to the door to leave when you peeped inside the wardrobe curiously, to find nothing in it. 

“uh wait a second, do you have any clothes for me?”

Jareth clapped his forehead “oh right. I forgot” .

He tossed a crystal until it popped and sprang into various items of clothes, landing neatly folded on your bed.

 “I hope you don’t mind, but I had to guess your sizes” .

You’d make do. 

“...and the uh, is there a bathroom around here ? I could use a shower or something” you gesture to your dishevelled state, you hadn’t washed properly since before you arrived.

 The idea of a hot shower sounded amazing, unlikely, but amazing.

“It’s waiting for you” he pointed at the opposite end of the room, “behind the door” 

“I have my own?” your eyes follow his finger,  noticing the wooden door tucked away. How can such a cosy little place fit so much?

“that wasn’t there just a sec-”

“Things aren’t always what they seem” 

The Goblin King tossed a crystal at you which you instinctively caught, and he vanished. 

“why didn’t I think of that?” you mumbled with a yawn, ditching the crystal on the bed and pulling the curtains together again. 

You shuck off the cloak, hanging it up next to dad’s jacket. 

When you enter the ‘bathroom’,  you expect to find a dismal bucket of cold water tied to a string to douse yourself with, but to your surprise, it’s close enough to something you would expect to find in the modern houses back home. 

A free standing  bath stood in the middle, with a shower behind it and on the left a mirror and sink with assorted brushes and cosmetics.

A crystal  bulb hung from the ceiling, though you guessed it was magic illuminating it , not electricity. 

Bath or shower?

Shower.

You undress and hop in, turning the tap and adjusting the temperature accordingly. 

Ahhh. 

You notice various soaps awaiting you and pick one, reading ‘ ginger spices ’ using it to scrub profusely, almost feeling every bit of grim and dirt from the labyrinth wash away.

There was a twinning pair of shampoo and conditioner bottles that you each squeezed into your hands and lavished in your hair one after the other, filling your nose strongly of something unidentifiable but sweet.

You take your time until you feel properly cleansed. 

The seal on your wrist still glowers white but the pain is completely gone. 

Oh god , you let out a giggle, bouncing around the bathroom, remembering Jareth’s saliva on your skin. Did that really happen?

When you climb out your clothes are gone, replaced by two fluffy towels awaiting you, still warm as you envelope yourself in them and step out of the room feeling practically brand new.

For a minute you forget where you are and almost go to switch on your radio like you would at home when you stop yourself. 

You tied the towels around you further to inspect the clothes on the bed and pick out an outfit.

You shift among the shirts and long skirts you finally find a blouse and to your relief some trousers. At least Jareth had decent taste you had to give him that. No jeans though. Sigh. 

You collect the rest to put away in the wardrobe when you notice the underwear lying beside them. 

They hadn’t been there earlier. He must have slipped them in. 

Oh for the love of-! 

 You hold them distastefully by the tips of your fingers, pinkish white, lacy compared to your usual get up. 

You shake the crystal, hissing into it “you’re taking the piss” as if he could hear you. You toss it back onto the bed.

You grit your teeth and slip them on anyway, cursing him under your breath, “ prick prick prick ” 

They fit well. Almost too well. 

You dress in the trousers and blouse , inspecting yourself in the wardrobe’s mirror. 

You turn side on and lift your arms up and down. The trousers are tight like Jareth’s but not uncomfortable, you could see why he wore them so often.  

You leave your hair to dry naturally.

You sit on the corner of your new bed, instantly relaxing into it and lying on your stomach.

So this was it, your bedroom, in the castle, your new home. You re-take it all in again. 

Your eyes rest on the large metallic gold clock on the wall opposite with two daggers for hands. You notice the addition of the 13th hour rather than your regular clocks at home. So strange  

Time.

Forever. 

How long was forever?

What were you going to do all day now that there was no school, or responsibilities or friends...or family. 

No. Stop it. Can’t think like that. 

How boring would eternity get?  

You rolled over your back. 

 Just the concept was boggling. 

What if Jareth got bored of you decided he didn't want your company anymore and cast you away? 

What the hell am I even doing here?

You unhooked the window, flopping down to inhale the fresh air while marvelling at the view . 

You weren’t thrilled by the circumstances of your situation, but you weren’t about to bawl your eyes out over the loss of your aunt and uncle, come on, don’t kid yourself. 

You take a frilly white pillow from under your head and hold it to your chest, staring up at the ribbons and pearls hanging from the ceiling. 

Your fingers dig into the pillow and you sigh.  You felt guilty for not feeling guilty. Not in the slightest. This was your adventure. Yours.

Jan would know what to do in a situation like this. 

What would she make of Jareth?

At least she’d approve of the idea that you had some sort of spark with someone of the opposite sex for the first time in forever, even if he was a little older than the boys she’d tried to push you towards. 

You smiled to yourself.

Oh yes, you definitely knew what Jan would say about Jareth, things that you would never ever repeat aloud. You shook your head and tutted. You found yourself agreeing with her.

You could almost hear Jan’s  tinkling laughter

“enjoy it girly!”

You were attracted to Jareth, any person with two eyes in their head would be attracted to Jareth, he only needed to smirk or make eye contact or flaunt that smarm but that didn’t mean you automatically trusted him. You barely knew him after all. Well, kind of. 

Yeah, and ? 

And…

You sighed, back at square one with the way you felt all over again. 

 If only you could phone her. But the lack of electricity had already won that battle. No more conversations with Jan, ever again. 

No, nope, no more tears, you can’t change things so get on with it for god’s sake. 

That’s what Jan would say, she’d take you by the shoulders and shake you:

 “What’s wrong with you? You live in a castle, Slo, with a devastatingly handsome man and living in your literal dreams, you want to throw that away?”
You shake your head to yourself “thanks, Jan” you mumble .

A knock at the door interrupts you

“Sloane?” Jareth pokes his head around the circular door, “did you slip down the plughole?”

you roll your eyes, locking the window again “I’m ready if that’s what you’re asking”, you ignore the sarcasm.


You see he’s changed clothing again, dressed in black and blue like the night you first met him, the tall collar emphasises his height as well as the hair. 

“apparently”

The expression on his face was something you couldn’t quite read, but it had lightened. 

You slip on dad's jacket "let's go".

Thankfully he uses a crystal rather than traipsing all the way back through the castle. 

You blink then turn in the rising wind, finding yourself on the drawbridge outside the castle. 

You crane your neck, able to see your own room’s window from here that you had been standing in moments ago. 

“There’s not much of the castle to see” 

Jareth admitted throwing and catching a crystal absent minded

“-so I thought we’d start here, who knows where the wind will take us” 

The pair of you crossed over the bridge to potter down some steps and into the city. 

_*_

You decided the Goblin City was a place you wouldn’t be frequenting often, you could see why Jareth stuck to the castle.

It was a dirty place, hardly a ‘city’, run ragged, but it was unusual, and therefore in that respect captivated your attention. 

Sometimes you spotted the tail end of a creature but mostly the place was deserted. 

You’d passed the odd palace guard, but apart from that, there seemed to be hardly anyone around. 

Was it always this quiet? You initially got the feeling it would be a more chaotic place. 

You couldn’t tell how long you’d milled around but evening looked to be approaching soon. You shoved your hands in your pockets, as Jareth filled you in on where everything was bakeries, taverns and the like.

Having felt you'd seen pretty much everything in the city, t he pair of you began to circle back towards the castle, narrowly avoiding the awkwardness of seeing the ending of the Labyrinth at the gates of the Goblin City.  

The castle’s windows were lit up in yellow torchlight.  

You reach the drawbridge, making your way inside again, approaching the hubbub from inside. 

“It must be rammed in there” you say more to yourself as the noise of voices and cries grow louder with every step. 

“Goblins” Jareth bobbed his head nonplussed at the calamity. 

" goblins ?" you repeat dryly following behind uncertainly “what are they still doing here?”

The door swings open inviting an uproar of noises.  

You clap your hands over your ears “ jesus god”  

but it did nothing to muffle the whoops of laughter and racket of things either being dropped or launched into the walls. 

The goblins were chasing round the room, singing out of unison or irritating chickens. Chickens?

Jareth did nothing to stop them as you had initially thought he would. Rather in fact, than thundering and silencing the room, he seemed entertained by the ruckus.

He laughed throwing back his head, then ducking without blinking as a rock was launched in the air. 

He flopped onto the round seat you’d seen earlier, throwing a leg over the side and just laughed more though you didn’t get the joke.  

“you don’t mind?” you cried to be heard over the noise, sitting on the steps leading up to be what you imagined what his throne, since they didn’t look too dirty.

He shrugged, watching them, tapping a staff against his boot “it’s fun”

“fun?”

clearly you both had different ideas of fun

How he put up with this you did not know. 

The mess they’d surely make...you’d taken Jareth for a spick-and-span, silent, strict guy. 

A merry goblin whizzed past with a red flag bobbing  up and down, attached to its little helmet that covered its face. 

Jareth had a drink in his hand that you hadn’t spotted until a second ago. 

He caught your glance “like to try some?” he held out his own cup to you

“what is it?” you take a sip 

Jareth rolled his eyes “apple juice” 

You swallowed and then shuddered at the foul taste, pushing the cup away “ugh that’s disgusting” 

“it’s not for it’s pleasantness believe me”

“I’ll stick to the water, thanks” the glass appeared in your hand. 

“to the latest Underground citizen” he raised his cup at you in a toasting fashion 

“to me” 

 

_*_

The one thing you noticed was that the singing didn’t stop. Jareth even left the throne and began merrily clapping his hands to a tune or two making you giggle. Maybe he wasn’t such the stoic character you’d taken him for in the Labyrinth. 

Although it was total and utter chaos , you found yourself fascinated even if the goblins were obviously stupid. 

Real life goblins. 

That part still you couldn’t get over. 

Strange,  they seemed totally juvenile, not cunning and devious, not likely to eat children or guard bridges like the books said. Or was that trolls? More or less the same thing, right?

You sighed, realising this was the kind of thing you’d have to get used to thinking through. And I thought talking to a bird was crazy

Another thing you noticed was the odd amount of clocks all shapes and sizes dotted around the throne room, all reading different times. Every now and then one or two hands would creep forwards or even backwards

Would it be the same time at home? Was the Underground like Australia or something, different time zones? Or would it be the same as it was in England but like an alternative universe whatnot?

You’d already yawned into your elbow twice and was ready to call it a night, enough education for one day.

You sneakily creep out of the throne room without interrupting the “fun” . Jareth would have probably convinced you to stay longer anyway and you could barely keep your eyes open to continue to watch the charade as it is. 

Besides, the new bed’s call was strong.

The aimless wandering of the Goblin City had worn you down thoroughly, it was a wonder how you managed a whole day of classes once upon a time. 

At least tonight you’d sleep well. 

Your footsteps echo down the corridor. By some miracle, you began to recall your steps from earlier this morning. Not so difficult after all. 

You pass a black clock, telling you it was almost midnight. 

You climb the stairs, trailing your hand up the banister sleepily. You pad along to the hallway coming to rest at your round door, closing it behind you softly.

 

With a low groan, you flop onto the chair  at the desk. You prise off your shoes and gazing out the grand window at the rising smoke from the chimneys in the Goblin City. 

Further beyond that you could see tiny lights in the Labyrinth, candles perhaps? Though who could be lighting them though, or what rather. 

You shivered and swiftly closed the curtains, grabbing what you assumed were your pyjamas from the drawers. 

You crack your back, loosening your trousers .

The door swings open, bumping against the wall, making you jump out of your skin 

“what the-”  You hurriedly yanked your trousers up .

Jareth staggered in, singing under his breath, he moved to the coat rack to lean against it, giggling slightly. His eyes fell on you , unfocused, and grinned. 

 “Good evening Ms. Hay…Hazel…well this is a nice turn of events” he giggled again. 

“Jareth? What are you talking about” you sigh, buttoning your trousers discreetly, “look I had a nice day and it was cool to see the goblins but I’m shattered, okay?”

 “You…in my chamber no less” he waggled his eyebrows suggestively and you folded your arms, not in the mood for his games again. 

 “you’re in my room actually” you gestured to the walls around you “remember?” 

“Oh” the goblin king nodded to himself and then squinted around in the lack of light.

 “ah. I thought…the colours were different”. he frowned, rubbing his temple “I must’ve spelled m’yself to the wrong chamber”

 

"Well you can just spell yourself out again. Wait, are you…” you notice that he seemed to sway backwards and forwards on his feet.

“...are you drunk ?" you ask, but you were not, in fact, surprised to say the least. 

His hand slips from his hold on the coat rack  and you automatically stepped up to catch him in time from falling flat on his face “woah, careful!”

He laughs over you and you catch the strong sense of alcohol on his breath, face inches from yours. 

you pull back wrinkling your nose “you are drunk”  

He gave you cheeky, hazy smile. He looked up at you under his lashes  “merely had a cup or two…”

“I doubt that “ 

You struggle in his sloppiness to keep him upright. 

You sigh, maneuvering him so that his arm was slung over your shoulder whilst you kept your own around his waist. 

This was the first time you’d held him so close since the ballroom.

Jareth looked down at you with a conflicted expression, trying to clear something in his mind or making up his mind whether to say it.

“My rose,” he lamented, “do you forgive me?” he couldn’t look you in the eye partly because he couldn’t focus properly or most likely the guilt that was scrawled across his face. 

 “Forgive you” you say drily “for what?”

“For everything…thi-this whole, wretch…wre...wretched business” he slurs hiding his face in his elbow miserably. 

Despite the awkwardness of trying to keep him upright in his theatrics, you smile at the irony of it all, if only he was sober enough to hear himself. 

You give a chuckle at the thought , would sober Jareth be horrified with his inebriated softie self?

“You’re laughing at me!” he says, hurt. “Are my feelings funny to you? My sincerity a joke?” he sneered 

“No!  I was- look , I forgive you okay? Now will you just sit down ” you helped him to sit on the chair with a thud. 

 

You assess the situation, wanting desperately to kick him out and crawl into bed but the way he kept slipping from being upright without your support ate at your morals. 

“I can’t let you leave like this , knowing you you’d probably spell yourself into the Bog and drown or break your neck down the stairs” 

Jareth giggles, slumping across the desk and you ran a hand down your face .  “fine. fine you can stay, you absolute mess” 

In the light spilling in through the curtain’s crack you can see he looks like a wreck, hair matted, make-up smudged across his face. 

“Wait there-” 

You dash to the bathroom picking up your brush and returning. 

You pull him up again to his confusion and begin to drag the brush through the long knotted mess “jesus what did you do?” you mumble.  You hold it by the ends so it wouldn’t pull on him. 

“i would give you coffee, or something to sober you up with, but I doubt you have that lying around here” 

He watched you intensely in the mirror on the desk, never blinking or taking his eyes from you. 

“you always take care of me” he says quietly, in a half confused, half statemented tone. 

You tip up a smile “did I have a choice in either situation? The Goblin King isn’t so high and mighty after all” you bring the brush up again then sweeping it down.  

“you take care of me” he repeated “always”.

Your eyes met in the mirror and you stop brushing. 

You hum under your breath, shaking off the stare

 “you have nice hair”  

You ran a hand through it experimentally, making him shiver violently .

Jareth pushed himself up, or tried to, clumsy and uncoordinated under the influence of the alcohol. 

Despite your weak attempts to keep him in place he was stronger than he looked and  managed to stand momentarily before sprawling forward over you again. 

"Why do you hate me Sloane?" He asked, his face within inches of yours. "I only wanted to make you happy."

“I don’t hate you” you huff under his pressing weight to seat him on the foot of the bed 

 “you just-“ you  huff “-have a funny way of doing things”  

You lean him up against the post of the bed but he loses balance and instead falls flat on his back onto the bed. 

You try to pull him up again but you’re not strong enough and just leave him. 

So much for sleeping. Your legs were killing you after all the walking

“Scooch over” you motion, and plopped yourself down on your bed that he was currently hogging 

“that's more like it," Jareth giggled.

On his back, looking so vulnerable and exposed, he looks angelic, hair spread out around him. His eyes slide open catching your staring and smirks. Of course he smirks. 

“Won’t you kiss me goodnight?” he said, playful look in his eye “just a little one”

You didn’t mean to keep appealing to his ego and inwardly cursed yourself.

“I don’t think so” you raise your eyebrows “just because you’re drunk and helpless doesn’t mean I have amnesia”

“Ah ha! What a little liar!” he whoops “I think someone’s just a chicken” Jareth teases making clucking noises

“Oh really, you’re going with that one” 

“Chicken it is then,” He says provokingly in a sing song voice.

 Jareth continues to make the stupid noises and even the wing movement, still lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling. 

wrong ” You protest, voice wavering but it only amuses him further “that’s- that's just cheap.”

“Chicken, cheap,” he giggles like a child. 

The Goblin King manages to lie on his side, resting his head on a pillow he had his arm looped around, facing you.

 You subconsciously hugged your arms more tightly to yourself, as if doing so could fend off his brazen gaze. A gaze that kept shamelessly lowering  and making your heart speed.

“You know, it is high treason to refuse your king” he winks . 

The smooth fucker, even when drunk he manages to be flawless in a kind of rough around the edges way. 

You threw back your head laughing at his typical self, flopping against the pillows on your back beside him. 

Jareth suddenly rolls over on you in a flash, as he slid an arm around your waist catching you off guard. His body pinning you down having you completely cornered.

“What are you-“

“I can see you want it,” his hand cupping your cheek, you flush deeply having nowhere else to look or escape.

 “that tell-tale breathing, that flush on your chest, the shifting-” he pushes the tip of his nose into your throat making your breath hitch, trailing down to the base . 

“No” you breathe but your mind had other ideas, clouding your judgement Yes! Yes! apparently so did your own body by its burning response down there.   

No ,” you repeat more forcefully liar liar

You push him off gently but you still can't shake the intensity of that look “You’re-I’m- you’re drunk”

The Goblin King gave a lopsided grin “very well” and removed his hands immediately and rolling back over to put them behind his head, nestling his face sleepily in the crook of his elbow.

What the hell was that. 

You’re not sure who the question is aimed at. 

You part your mouth to say something then close it, and then part it again. 

You sit up , leaning on your elbow to stare at him. Jareth hummed under his breath, blinking a few times at the ceiling hazily. 

You sigh.  oh what the hell 

“It’s not like you’ll remember it anyway” 

Before you even know what you’re doing or change your mind, you lean in, heart thudding and pull him in by the jacket lapels. 

Jareth seems to spring out of his drunken state, suddenly fully awake and eagerly aims for your mouth, but you turn your head so he only snags your cheek. 

You still manage to catch the warmth of his breath and the tip of his soft lips. 

You draw away, but he removes his hands from behind his head to cling to your forearms pulling you in closer for more.

“ohhhh no, uh-uh!” you laughed wriggling away from his wandering hands. You push his head back onto the pillows. 

Jareth can’t fight back, too inebriated and pouts against the plush cushion with his arms folded    “ ’snot fair” he mumbles. 

You can’t help but giggle at his sulky state “good night you royal pain in the arse”. You pull the cover over him.

“Mmmf” he rubs his eyes and turns over.

 You shake your head and it’s not long before he’s snoring. 

You sigh, no bed for you tonight.  

You manage to whip off a blanket from under his leg and tug one of the pillows out from underneath him forcefully. 

He’s spread himself diagonally, giving you little to no room left so you settle for the floor. At least the rug is thick. 

It’s not ideal, but did you have much choice?  

You close your eyes, begging for sleep after an exhausting day. 

The noise startles you. 

What in the hell

It was Jareth’s snores. Oh for the love of-

You clap your hands over your ears. This couldn’t be happening. Why is it so loud!

You lie on your side, firmly closing your eyes hoping to just drift off  but the snoring is relentless.

Jareth for fuck’s sake ” you say aloud 

you imagine stuffing one of the pillows in his mouth. Ugh! Would it be wrong to shove him off and pretend he rolled over too far in his sleep? No you couldn’t, that would be so mean, those stones would hurt. 

Cosmic! Just cosmic!