Actions

Work Header

Tears Of A Goblin King

Chapter Text


Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just want to give them a happy ending
Rating: PG-13
Timeline: Begins after the movie ends and progress to 10 years later.


Tears Of A Goblin King

Prologue - A Legend Is Born

 

Silence so deep only my soul can hear
Says now the past is what I fear
The future isn’t what it used to be
Only today is all that’s promised me

Flow on, river of time
Wash away the pain and heal my mind

~River Of Time ~ Naomi Judd~


In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth
and all the places in between. All creatures lived in the Aboveground. It was the time of the trial, the great test, before the darkness descended to engulf all. Those who possessed magic and those who didn’t worked side by side and lived as neighbors. Though humans had little control over their environment and disease could swoop down on the population of man and kill hundreds in a matter of weeks, beliefs ran strong, and magic was held in awe. Those who were said to possess it were respected and welcomed everywhere they went.

Humankind depended on beings, of the ‘Other’, to cure and restore them, and to give them hope when it appeared that all was lost. The troll who lived beneath your hill might be frightening and create havoc in the night, but it kept evil from entering your lands, so food was left as an offering for him. The faeries that were occasionally seen in the early mornings, flittering among the blossoms, were a sign of good crops in the coming autumn, so their flowers were kept weeded and watered even in the dry season. If anyone got close enough to be bitten by one, it was looked upon as a blessing despite the pain. The most revered of these people were the Fae. They were often mistaken for humans. The only clues that they might not be, were their exceptional beauty and grace.

Most Fae believed they’d lost the capacity to love. It was this mistaken belief that would spell disaster for the Underground and heart ache to three generations of Goblin Kings. At that time, most believed that they were beyond human emotions and looked down on the slight yearnings that passed for passion among the Earthly folk. What wasn’t realized was that, in the beginning of time, the great Creator understood each of his creatures, including the Fae. He knew that Fae were beings of indulgence and pleasure and if left to themselves would not seek out a life-long mate, so he crafted one made from their souls, another half, one for another, a soulmate.

Over the centuries in the Aboveground, most Fae were lucky enough to find the missing part to their souls. Usually they were of their own kind, but sometimes they were not; on occasion they were human, or Elvish. Though marriages into the world of man didn’t happen often, when it did both beings were the better for it. The Fae partner discovered a deep well of love that he believed long forgotten in his race and the human found passion greater than anything any human had ever discovered. It was a union that was truly blessed, one that would last forever, sealed by a burning love and passion that none could undo. Unfortunately, the only ones who understood that concept were the participants in this type of match.

The Halfling offspring from these joinings usually had no special powers, but in their souls was a strong belief in forces that could not be seen or explained. These children of the power were destined to provide the Aboveworld with ideas and dreams that would live on to the end of time. In the long years ahead, they would produce children who would occasionally be great inventors, philosophers, and writers.

As with all good things, the peace between men and magic came to an end. Trust began to disappear and darkness crept across the face of the world as mankind realized the powers it lacked and understood they would be forever out of its reach. Greed, jealousy and lust for control grew with each new generation until they were driving forces in humans. Instead of embracing what was different, humans feared it and began to push out those beings that could have helped them the most.

Luckily, Oberon, a powerful seer among his people, had a vision of the death and destruction that was to come. He went in search of a place where the folk of magic could live free of doubt and superstition. His travels took him to the Underground, a wild land unknown to the children of humankind. There he tamed its magic, then sent messages to each troll, faery, Fae, goblin, elf, and dwarf. Most had felt the subtle changes in the air, and were wise enough to follow Oberon. Those who did not died, as witch hunts and inquisitions ravaged beings who had once been honored.

In his anger at Man, Oberon declared that no one who did not possess magic would be allowed through the portal into his new world. Since some of the Fae left Halfling children behind, the door between the two worlds was left in place. It was necessary to assure the safety of the mixed children in case they should develop powers as they matured.

Oberon left his son Jared and an army of Goblins, one of the strongest and bravest kinds of creatures to ever posses magic, to guard the passageway against intruders. It was the newly crowned Goblin King’s duty to help and protect any child who was forced to make the crossing and to prevent any human adult from entering the Underground.

Oberon and most of the other beings of magic settled into the calmer interiors. Confident in his son’s ability to see to the protection of the empire he was creating for all who had followed him, Oberon concentrated on building a beautiful, peaceful place for the men and women of the Underground

Though both Oberon and Jared possessed great powers, they didn’t foresee the tragedy that was lying in wait for them. They shared the belief that Fae were above the petty emotions of mankind, but they didn’t take into consideration the human spouses of some of their brethren. This was a mistake that would cost them dearly.

King Jared appointed his best friend, Caliban, Fae commander of the Goblin Army. Together they planned and began to build a thriving city not far from the passageway to the Aboveground. Together they designed and created a great Labyrinth, between the door and the city, to further protect against unwanted intruders.

Caliban had left behind a human wife and Halfling child whom he loved dearly, but Oberon’s word was law. He couldn’t bring her Belowground and it would mean death not only to him, but his family as well, if he joined them in the superstitious Aboveground. He waited patiently for the great maze to be completed. Then he instructed his wife to wish for the Goblins to take the child away. Once done, it was suggested that Jared challenge her to a game. If she could work her way from the door between worlds to his castle, in thirteen hours, the child would be returned to her. The King looked on this as the perfect test to the twists and turns that had been built, never realizing that Caliban had something else in mind. Thus a legend was born and the first babe was taken to the Underground by a Goblin King.

Unfortunately for Caliban, the legend didn’t have a happy ending. His wife entered the Labyrinth on the hill overlooking the valley, as was planned. Caliban, who was guarding the boy-child for Jared, stole the babe and stole into the Labyrinth from the Castle side. Three days later the Goblin army found Caliban. He was dying. His woman had taken their child and fled. Treachery to his King and the faithlessness of his wife had broken his heart and was killing him.

The former captain of the guard died cursing the Goblin King, and the weakness of human females. His last words spelled out the fate of all who lived in the Goblin City. “Until a human girl can transverse the great maze and win the frozen heart of a Goblin King, there will be no peace in the Labyrinth. And until that same girl loves that King enough to give up everything for him, neither the King nor the girl will know fulfillment. Do not try and break my spell, Jared, because I have used your powers against you! You, your decedents, and the inhabitants of this dismal land will suffer until a human girl is strong enough to set you free.” With his last breath he laughed at the very idea of a faithful human and the Curse was sealed.

And so it was. The Labyrinth that had been built as protection and used in the name of love became twisted and dark. Strange, stagnant bogs grew from sparkling springs. Odd creatures were seen in the dark of night, and some were said to be able to produce fire with the flick of a wrist. The dark brooding atmosphere seeped into the City and Castle beyond. Each new generation of Goblins became slower, harder to manage, and their magic more erratic, until it disappeared completely. Their King knew a loneliness and frustration that ate at his soul. In all of Jared’s long life he never found the hidden power source of Caliban’s spell and he never found a human girl who could make it through the Labyrinth. He died long before his time, lonely and broken, leaving behind a son who was as cold and unfeeling as he.

In the Aboveground, the race of man grew and populated its world. The Halfling children were all but forgotten and the blood of the Fae ran thin in them, but occasionally a child would be born whose beliefs were particularly strong. It was due to these children that in thousands of years the humans didn’t forget the men of magic. They appeared in stories and legends around the world. Everyone knew of Merlin, Gandalf, Morgana and the Wizard of Oz, but none was better know than the Goblin King, though he wasn’t often called by that name. Almost every culture whispered to naughty children, “be careful, or the goblins will get you.” Stories of Peter Pan, the Pied Piper or Rumpelstilkskin were told to generations of children who would tell them to their children and on down through the ages.

Chapter Text

Ch 1 - A Chance To Get It Right

 

Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me through the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

~Fallen by Sarah McLaughlin~

Jareth the Goblin King watched in dismay as Sarah Williams launched herself into the air and dropped off the side of the stone stairway. The spell was broken and the Escher Room cracked and splintered beneath his feet. He was thankful that he’d had the forethought to toss a crystal of protection to the stolen child a few minutes earlier. In the ensuing chaos of the shattered spell, the King drifted toward the floor far below, cushioned by the magic that fueled him, but he knew it would take most of his remaining power to protect the girl from being smashed to bits by fragments of enchantment and rock that tumbled in disarray. And there was no force in the Underground that would have been strong enough to shield both humans, if the babe weren’t already clutching the crystal.

It was done, over; the boy would never belong to the Underground. Even as the King faced off against Sarah for the real challenge, Toby was safe in his crib at home. Jareth knew this was his last chance to keep the girl with him, and break the Curse, but he had exhausted most of his magic in the last thirteen hours. He would have to win this battle of wits the old-fashioned way, with words. He had one crystal left, and it has been saved to either take her home or keep her there with him for all time. It was his chance to finally set things right.


Truth be told I’ve tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

~Fallen by Sarah McLaughlin~

As Sarah landed lightly on the stone that appeared to be hanging in midair, she was shivering with exhaustion. The adrenalin rush that had kept her going for the last eleven hours was gone and she was left feeling drained. It took all her energy to keep from trembling as she faced the Goblin King one last time.

Gone was the vibrant man who had frightened and intrigued her. One look at his grayish complexion made her heart beat in her throat and her stomach clench. But it was too late; there was nothing she could do. She had to have her brother back, no matter the cost. She hardly heard what he was saying as she dug deep for the one phrase that kept slipping her mind, ‘but oh how it hurt to think it. It would rip her apart to say it.’ Finally she mustered her courage and uttered the words, which would end it all, “you have no power over me.”

Jareth groaned and tossed his remaining crystal in the air. But for some reason the magic didn’t exploded above them and rain down on their heads as it was meant to. The King reached high with an ungloved hand to set free the power that was contained in the spinning globe above them. On contact he felt a tingle of confusion run through his body as the spell hung in midair, unsure of what it should do. In a moment of frustration and anger, Jareth took control and muttered carefully crafted words to send the girl back to her own world.

As he turned into owl form, his temper was white hot. He’d failed! How could such a thing happen? He’d been so sure all his life that the Curse was one of the dark legends of the Labyrinth. Then it had sent Sarah to him; now he knew there was much more to it than just tall tales.

He beat his wings harder and rode the air currents high above the trees. How could the mortal girl have gotten free? She’d passed the test by getting through the great maze. No other human in the history of his family had gotten that far. She’d even been able to get help from beings that showed allegiance to no one but themselves and their king. So why was it that she wasn’t beside him now? What was there about the ancient Curse that he’d failed to remember?

In exhaustion, the white barn owl came to rest on the tree outside Sarah’s window. Inside she was laughing and dancing with her friends from the Underground. For a moment he was sorely tempted to let his presence be known. If she wanted to see the others, might she not want to see him as well? He had until sunrise the next morning to be able to visit her in human form. Was there still a chance? Something was nagging at the back of his mind. It had to do with the spell that should have sent Sarah home, but instead had floated in the air above their heads, and curled around them. He was too tired to concentrate. He’d missed some small detail. With a flap of his wings he took flight and let the peace of the moonlit night cool his anger. He needed to think. There had to be a way to set things right. This mortal girl was his only chance to find happiness and restore his Kingdom, if the Curse was to be believed. He refused to suffer the way he’d seen his grandfather suffer and he wasn’t sure the way his father had chosen to circumvent things was any better. Jareth was finished with games. The girl should have been his. He was determined to discover where it had gone wrong.
……………………..


Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise,
I must think of a new life,
And I mustn’t give in.
When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too,
And a new day will begin.

~Memories - Barbara Streisand~

Sarah Williams watched as her friends climbed back through her mirror. “So that’s how it’s done,” she smiled and muttered to herself, all the while wondering if she was really Alice and had been to Wonderland.

“Good-night, my Lady Sarah,” Sir Didymus called as he disappeared. That left only the dwarf, standing on her dressing table waiting his turn to step through.

“Sarah,” he whispered, “you gonna be all right.” He could tell something was bothering her. He was her friend so he’d helped her, but he hadn’t expected her to leave the Underground. Now he wasn’t sure he’d done the right thing.

“Sure, why not?” She shrugged and stepped toward him. Sarah needed to hug someone badly, but Hoggle pulled away from her outstretched arms, unwilling to let her touch him.

“Sorry Little Lady, but you remember what happened last time.” He had the good grace to look sheepish, but there was no way he was taking chances with Jareth’s temper. It was going to be bad enough when he got back to the Castle. If Sarah kissed him again it would be the Bog for him for sure.

“Hoggle, what happened to…HIM?” She felt her eyes prick with tears as she asked and ducked quickly in an attempt to hide her emotions. It hurt, but she needed to know. She’d kept a careful watch on the dark corners of her room while she’d danced and partied. She couldn’t imagine she’d destroyed him, but she didn’t know what else could have happened. She remembered thinking that if he were alive, he would have joined them. As the night grew late and he still didn’t show up, her doubts mounted. Though off and on during the party her neck had itched as if she was being watched. It frightened her more than she cared to admit.

“Jareth?” Hoggle shrugged. “I’s don’t rightly know.” And even if he did, he knew it would mean a trip to the Bog if he told Sarah anything, kiss or no kiss.

“Did I kill him?” It was more a sob than a question. Sarah had been fighting the thought ever since she’d uttered the words that had caused him to disappear.

“AAHHH,” Hoggle sighed in exasperation and reached out a gnarled hand to pat Sarah’s softer, smaller one. “You gots to remember Jareth’s a survivor. You never can tell where he’ll turn up.” He clamped his mouth shut as his eyes strayed to the window on the other side of the room. The dwarf knew that if there was a large white owl sitting on the tree branches watching and listening, too much had already been said.

“How could he have survived the destruction of that magic room?” Her large green eyes swam with tears.

“Well now…he’s got powerful magic; that one does.” Hoggle whispered, though he was sure the King was alive and well back in his castle, he didn’t know how much he was allowed to say.

“But I…” Sarah’s voice was mixed with all the pain, fear, and loss Jareth had made her feel.

“Remembers what he told you, ‘things aren’t always what they seem’.” Hoggle nodded grimly. As he scuttled quickly through the mirror, he damned both his King and himself for tonight’s actions.

“God, what have I done?” Sarah muttered and touched her mirror in an attempt to reach through to Hoggle, but her hand was met by cold glass. “No,” she whimpered as she turned and slumped on her bed, her mind filled with conflicting feelings.

All the while she’d been in the Labyrinth her goal had been clear. Every move she’d made had been done with conviction, until she’d reached the ballroom. That was where everything had fallen apart. From the moment she’d faced Jareth beside Toby’s crib, she’d known he was powerful and dangerous, but she hadn’t feared him. That had all changed when they’d danced. She’d felt something move deep within her. It had been like a hand had reached in and squeezed her heart; sending ripples of…of…of something through her entire body, as odd mismatched eyes had looked knowingly back at her.

“This can’t be,” she shivered as she forced herself to examine the fear that still lingered. But it was too much for her innocence to understand. She could hardly catch her breath, and with a sob she rolled over on her bed to clutch her pillow protectively to her body. “It was only a dream, I dreamt it all, and nothing was real,” she cried out as she hid from the feelings she’d glimpsed, and then pushed away. “Tomorrow I’ll know it was only my imagination getting the better of me…tomorrow…”
………………………..


The Space Between
What’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding,
Waiting for you;
The space between
Your heart and mind
Is the space we’ll fill with time

~The Space Between ~ The Dave Matthews Band~

While Sarah slept and tried to turn memories into dreams, Jareth acted. He called a meeting with Sir Didymus, Ludo and Hoggle. Though the invitation was worded casually, all three feared for their futures if they didn’t appear at the appointed time.

Jareth was dressed as befitted a King meeting with his subjects, dark gray breeches fitted snuggly into tall black leather boots. His shirt was the usual off-white silk, open halfway to his navel, so his medallion of power was visible to all.

He stood behind his desk and looked down his nose at each creature as it stumbled though the door. With his hands gripped behind his back he appeared taller and more imposing than he was. It was a stance he’d carefully perfected over the years to intimidate without having to say a word. The silence in the room dragged on until even the unflappable Didymus began to squirm under his gaze. That was Jareth’s cue to begin, “Well?” His brow rose and he stepped closer to his subjects. “I’m waiting for your explanations.”

“Sarah friend,” Ludo drawled and nodded at his King, as if that said it all.

Jareth shrugged and shook his head. It was more than he’d expected from the Rock Conjurer. The beasts weren’t known for their intelligence and few were able to gain their loyalty.

“Your Majesty,” Sir Didymus broke the silence that followed. “My Lady Sarah was a damsel in distress, as a Knight of the Underground Realm; I was honor-bound to help her.”

“A damsel in distress? Are we speaking about the same girl? The one who tricked all of you into assisting her, then knocked down your bridge, ripped through Agnes’s junkyard, blew up my gate and fractured not one, but two rooms that were bound by magic. And I have yet to get the final tally of damage from the Goblin City. I’d hardly call her ‘in distress.’ More likely the Labyrinth needed protection from her.”

“Well, Your Majesty…I ahh…ahh…Lady Sarah was a maiden in need of help, you may be correct that distress was too strong a term, but my honor---” Didymus ground to a halt as Jareth shook his head.

“And Hogwart, what is your excuse?” The King towered over the dwarf.

“It’s Hoggle,” the little man whispered as his throat closed in terror. He knew what he needed to say, but it wasn’t something that the others should hear.

“Is this something we’ve been over before?” Jareth knelt and raised his brow. Both remembered the warning the King had given Hoggle about being kissed by Sarah.

“No, Your Majesty.”

“Are you sure? Do I smell the Bog in your future?” He rose to stand very straight as he watched Hoggle cower at his feet. This was getting him nowhere. They obviously didn’t know anything useful.

“Nnnooo, please, I’s telling you the truth.” Hoggle looked up with angry eyes.

“Very well, go, leave, all of you!” The King ordered and turned away from his fleeing subjects. Moments later a small sound alerted him to the fact that he wasn’t alone. “Well, is there something you’d like to add?” He turned and watched Hoggle grip his hands and shuffle his feet.

“I ahh…Your Highness…”

“Well? I’m waiting!” Jareth glared.

“It was you,” the words tumbled out of Hoggle’s mouth before he could stop them. “It was you who mades me help her.”

“Explain,” Jareth gritted his teeth and fought the urge to send the dwarf flying out the door. The little man had spent more time with Sarah than any of them: if there was knowledge to be gained he most likely had it.

“I’s been your gardener at the gate for a long time,” Hoggle swallowed. “In all that time…in all that time…”

“Come, come Hoggle, out with it.” Jareth sat behind his desk and motioned the dwarf to take a seat across from him.

“Well, Sir, in all that time you’ve never shown the slightest bit of interest…until today, until Sarah,” he whispered the girl’s name as cold eyes stared into his.

“And that is significant because?” The King tilted his head to the side, as his stomach tightened. He prided himself on his ability to project any image he chose to his people. Somewhere he’d slipped up.

“Because she gots your attention. You sent the cleaners after her, but opened a door for her to get away. You was goin’ to toss me in the Bog, if she kissed me, but then didn’t let us fall in. You was there at every turn and twist to be sure she didn’t gets hurt. It had to be you who made that rope appear in my hands when she was being attacked by the fireys, cause I didn’t have no rope with me.”

“You’re imagining things, Hoggle.” Jareth leaned back in his chair and casually examined the pen on his desk.

The dwarf caught his breath when he was called by his correct name for the second time in a row. It was a small thing, but coming from the King it had importance. “She’s the one, ain’t she?” He whispered. “She’s the one who can break the Curse?”

“I had hoped,” the great King sighed. “But it’s too late, what’s done is done and what’s said is said. Sarah has gone back to the Aboveground. She will forget all about us and the book that brought her to us will disappear until it is time for the next Goblin King to…to...” He shrugged, doubting he would ever produce an heir since Sarah had defeated him.

“I’m not so sure it’s over,” Hoggle stuttered.

“Unless she calls for me by name, I can only approach her in owl form. No amount of magic in all the worlds will change that.” He pulled at the wrist of his left glove to keep from conjuring a crystal and taking a peek at Sarah.

“She thought she kilt you,” the dwarf added quietly. “And it made her cry.”

“Cry? You must be imagining things. I watched her from the tree outside her window and she was happy. You were all happy,” he leaned across his desk to emphasize his words. “Doing what appeared to be victory dances at my defeat. I doubt sincerely that she shed a single tear at the thought of my demise.”

“Your Majesty, I knows what I seen, and I seen her eyes fill with tears when she asked about you. Then well…I’s…I’s watched her from the other side of her mirror after she thought she was alone. She lay on her bed and cried. It liked to broke my heart.”

“Thank you, Hoggle. That will be all.” Jareth stood and walked to the window in what appeared to be an act of dismissal, but it was really to watch the huge moon that shone down on both his world and Sarah’s. He had much to think about, but at the moment none of it made much sense. “Hoggle, one more thing,” he didn’t bother to turn, his magic told him the dwarf had only made it as far as his office door. “The portal through Sarah’s mirror will be left open for you, Didymus and Ludo.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” The dwarf beamed with delight. They would get to see Sarah again, but more importantly, maybe he could help lift the blight that had been laid on his world by an angry Fae thousands of years ago.
………………………


And what if fate has already played its hand
And there’s no future left in the plan
What if this is what lies in store
It only makes me want you more

~At This Time~ Pat Benatar~

“Your Majesty,” a tall dark-haired, blue-eyed Fae knocked on Jareth’s office door. “I’ve brought you some dinner.” The man who entered was as dark as Jareth was fair. Though they were about the same height, the King had a slim, wiry strength that had fooled more than one opponent, while the darker man was built as if he spent more time on the training field, than attending in an office, which was not the case.

“You heard, Declan?” Jareth quickly dispersed the crystal he’d used to check on Sarah, before he turned to acknowledge his assistant and friend. For the first time since the girl said the fateful words he was feeling some hope. What he’d seen in the crystal appeared to support Hoggle’s theory. A tear had run down Sarah’s cheek, even as she slept.

“It would have been hard to miss. Dwarves aren’t known for their quiet speaking voices, that one especially.” His words were accented with a slight lilt that would make a human think of four-leafed clovers and leprechauns.

“So, what do you think?” Jareth settled behind his desk and began to dig into the large meal that was set before him. Sarah’s call that afternoon had interrupted his lunch and he hadn’t eaten anything while she’d been in the Labyrinth.

“Was the dwarf speaking the truth?”

Declan and Jareth had been raised together, and the question needed no clarification, they knew each other too well. It would have been easy to attempt to evade it. The blonde Fae was a master at misdirection, and Declan knew when to pull back, but the dark-haired man was Jareth’s advisor and a smart king didn’t lie to an advisor when he was looking for answers. “I helped,” Jareth said quietly and put down his fork.

“Ahhh, I see.” Declan’s brows rose, until they were hidden by unruly curls that brushed his forehead.

“Do you, because I don’t!” Unable to put a name to what he was feeling, Jareth stood and threw his napkin onto his desk in disgust. “At the time…” He searched for words that eluded him. “At the time…it’s hard to explain…I felt a compulsion to be in the Labyrinth with her. I needed to know that she was safe, even as I teased and tormented her. It makes no sense. By the Seven Crystals, she’s just a child, and a human child at that. What was I thinking?”

Declan’s mouth dropped open and he stared at the Fae who was like a brother to him. In a battle there was no one he’d rather have at his back, and he doubted there was much he didn’t know about his Monarch. As boys they had terrorized the Goblin City, and as much of the Underground as they could under the vigilant eye of Jareth’s parents. As young Fae males, they’d drunk and gambled together; fought at the other’s side in many the pub and tavern; and enjoyed many of the same women. The idea of Jareth being inappropriate with a young girl, especially one who couldn’t defend herself against his magic was totally unexpected. “You…ah…you…didn’t…?”

The Goblin King turned and what he saw made him smile for the first time in hours. “Oh do close your mouth, Declan, you look like a fish out of water. You needn’t look so worried. I was a perfect gentleman, or maybe I should say I was a perfect imaginary Goblin King.” He bowed to hide his scowl as he remembered what Sarah thought of him and the part he’d been forced to play. “I was powerful enough to grant her every wish, but it would seem not so powerful that I gained her brother as a bargaining tool. I was frightening, without putting her in any real danger, and yes, I was charming when I danced with her at a ball.”

“You sent her the Ballroom dream and then joined her in it?” It was an unheard of precedent that worried Declan. “It sounds like Hoggle was right; Sarah really did capture your attention.”

“It’s an excellent distraction for young girls.” The King shrugged, dismissing the fact that he’d never before entered into that dream with any of the girls, only sent an illusion of himself. “Besides, there is more power in the Ballroom dream than my charm.” He sighed at what he’d learned of Sarah’s innocence as she’d walked through the crowds of other dancers and tried not to remember how tightly she had gripped his hand and shoulder as the crowds of Fae began to push in around them. In the Ballroom, everyone appears to him as they are on the inside. It was an excellent tool and one the Goblin King had used on more than one visiting dignitary.

“Jareth…” Declan almost growled at his King. Too much was at stake to be playing mind games.

“All right, all right,” Jareth glared. He knew that if it were anyone but Declan he could pull on his kingly persona and they would back down, but the dark-haired man knew him too well and this was too important for evasions. “I was careful. We only danced for a short while and the entire time she was in the Labyrinth I didn’t take my gloves off.” Both men knew the power that could be conveyed in a touch, especially when dealing with humans. “If she’d been older I might have been tempted, but she wasn’t. What’s done is done and there is no going back.” It might have been Jareth’s way out. He might have ended the Curse right then and there if he’d brought all of his considerable charm into play. The fact that he hadn’t was not lost on either man.

“You need more information. I think you should go and see Wiseman at first light. He’s the keeper of the archives and has been warning you about the Curse for decades. You just chose not to listen.”

“That old man lives smack in the middle of the Labyrinth, I should have had him in here with Hoggle, Didymus and Ludo. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out he helped her too.” Jareth ignored Declan’s comment about the Curse. It was too late to do things differently.

“He most likely did. The old man is a soft touch for a pretty face and his Hat is even worse.”

“You’re not being a great deal of help tonight.” Jareth grumbled at his friend.

“How about this,” Declan offered. “If Sarah is the one, then the Curse is going to be affecting her too, probably more than you, given the fact she’s human and they have all those messy feelings you say you don’t have.” He grinned taking a verbal jab at Jareth. It was only fair after all the teasing he had received when he’d fallen in love with and married Merilee, youngest daughter of Luthor, High King of the Elves.

“Actually Declan, that’s no help at all!” He ground his teeth in frustration. “Sarah is a young girl.”

“Yes, but one of the nice things about young girls is that they grow up.”
…………………….

Long after Declan left, Jareth sat and brooded over his cognac. He knew he was tired and had expended more than his usual store of magic, but his mind wouldn’t let him rest. He was tempted to let the entire matter go; forget that the girl had even been in the Labyrinth, but every time he tried, he was haunted by a pair of deep-green eyes. In exhaustion, his head fell back and his eyes fluttered shut. As he took deep, even breaths, he could almost smell her delicate scent and it made his blood pound.

“Jareth,” a soft feminine voice called to him from the door to his study.

For a moment Jareth’s mind played tricks on him and he saw Sarah standing there, her deep brown hair glinting in the firelight. Then the image changed, green eyes turned to blue and brown hair to blonde. A diminutive Fae, who looked much younger than her 1000-plus years, walked into the room. “Mother, what are you doing here?” He rose and offered her the chair beside his, in front of the fire.

“It’s been over five hours since your Sarah left, did you expect me to quietly pace my castle and wait for you to come to me?” Livia, dowager Queen of the Goblins looked quizzically at her son.

“I’d hardly call her ‘my Sarah’.” Jareth poured her some cognac, and squirmed. It was apparent his mother’s magic was as in-tune as ever. He had never been able to get anything past her when he was young. He’d hoped that had changed. “After all, she is very young, even for a human.”

“Sit down, Jareth. I realize that this is one conversation that it would have been better for your father to have had with you, but since it is obvious Cormac didn’t, that leaves it to me.” She watched her son settle in the wing-backed chair beside hers then reached out and touched his hand. “It bothers you that she was in her early teens, doesn’t it?”

“Mother, what are you implying?” Jareth looked outraged and a bit hurt. His feelings were too close to the surface and some of them were ones he refused to recognize.

“Darling, we’re Fae,” she flashed him an impish grin. “We’re known for indulging our pleasures. When has age ever been a difficulty when dealing with other races?”

Jareth had to fight the childish urge to plug his ears and hum loudly to drown out anything more she had to say. Never in his adult life had he expected to have his mother sit across from him and question him about his desires. “As King, I forbid this conversation to go any further.” He sat up very straight and removed all emotion from his face.

His response drew a gentle smile from his mother. “Jareth, my darling, you love her, don’t you see that.”

“I do not!” He stood quickly, his temper and frustration boiling over. “Fae don’t love!”

“Sometimes you’re too much your father’s son.” Livia looked at him sadly, wanting so much more for him than her spouse had been given. “Unless you want to end up like he did, a sad, old man, dead before his time, you’ll sit back down and listen to what I have to say.”

“All right, mother,” Jareth sighed. “But this conversation must stay within the bounds of propriety.”

“Spoken like a true king,” she teased. “Now sit down again, relax, and close your eyes.” Livia tried hard to sound calming and not like a mother dealing with a recalcitrant child. Jareth may have been over 500 years old, but there were times he acted as if he were still 5. “I want you to picture Sarah…” she whispered.

“Mother…” Jareth gritted his teeth.

“You’ve trusted me all your life, why do you think I would do something that would harm you now?”

“It’s been a trying day.” He sighed.

“And I’m trying to help.” She smiled at her play on words, but for once her son didn’t appreciate her wit, so she changed tactics. “Use some of that stubbornness that is so much a part of your nature, and trust me. You are going to need all the tenacity you’ve got, if we are going to change things for the better.”

He doubted there was anything his mother could do to help him, but if he wanted her to go home and leave him alone, he realized he was going to have to cooperate. His eyes closed and images of Sarah floated through his head. He finally chose the one of her in the Ballroom Dream. It made him smile, but Livia was the only one who realized his emotions were on display.

“Now, son, I know that you’re tired and so is your magic, but I want you to use whatever power that is left to you and change that picture you have in your mind. Age her, age her until she is 18…20…then finally 24.” Livia grinned as she watched her son’s shoulders relax and the look of joy pass over his face. “See Sarah as she shall be at 24, no longer a child, but a woman. Let go the tight reign you keep on those emotions of yours. Set your feelings free and see where they lead you. They will tell you the truth of it all.”

“Ohhh,” Jareth moaned. He felt like he was drowning and could hardly breathe, as he used all his power to change the picture in his mind. Sarah was slim and lovely, all the roundness gone from her cheeks, but she had curves in all the right places. She was a woman, just as lovely as she had been earlier in the evening, but no longer too young for him to touch. In his mind, he was beside her and she turned willingly into his arms. This time as they danced their lips met and their arms tightened around one another. He felt the ice he kept carefully in place around his heart break away and he knew with certainty that Sarah Williams was the being he would need until his dying day. “Sarah,” he whispered her name as he could see their kiss deepen and he felt her silky skin beneath his bare fingers.

“Jareth,” Livia gripped his gloved hand to break the spell he was caught in.

“How did you know, mother?” He whispered as he worked to replace the image of Sarah nine years from now, with the one of the teen she really was.

“Because we are Fae and there would only be two reasons you’d have gotten involved with the human girl: lust or love.” She smiled gently hoping it would take the sting out of her words. “Since you had a hard time even thinking about it, I knew it wasn’t simple lust. Besides, I’d hoped I’d raised you better than that!”

“That’s not what I’m asking.” Jareth wasn’t sure how to word his question without hurting her feelings. “How could you have known what I was feeling, unless you’ve experienced it? You and father always seemed so…so…”

“Casual with one another,” Livia finished the sentence for him.

“Yes.”

“We were, but we were the best of friends and in our own way cared deeply about each other. Like you, your father chose not to believe in the Curse. He had seen it kill his father and his grandfather before that, so he determined it did not exist and therefore could not hurt him. Unfortunately for him, all the determination in the world will not free you from a magic spell. He ended up meeting his human girl too late, and was totally unprepared for it. We had married three years earlier and you had just been born. I would have set him free, because I knew what it was like to meet your other half then lose him.” Livia looked sadly into the past and thought of a young Fae, who had died saving the life of his King, hundreds of years earlier. “But it was too late. A divorce in the monarchy would have destroyed the Goblin Kingdom.”

“Mother, you and father did it, why can’t I?”

“What do you mean, dear?” She looked at her beautiful son so very proud of him in his time of trial.

“Just get on with my life.” He nodded, and tried to push away any lingering feelings for Sarah. “Find myself a Fae woman who will help me rule this land. One who is untouched by love, but open to the idea of friendship.”

“Because life has so much more to offer than that and this Curse needs to end!” Livia sighed, afraid she was going to have to tell more of the story than she’d planned. “From what you told me and what I know of Cormac, I believe one of the ways the Curse works is to send the humans to us when it would be morally reprehensible to be with them no matter what your heart tells you. It’s a small thing, that takes very little magic, but it can make all the difference. I also believe that they are affected in the same way.”

“Tell me all you know, Mother, there has to be a way out of this.” Jareth shook his head in frustration, feeling trapped no matter which way he turned. The idea of Sarah suffering was unthinkable.

“When Caliban built the spell, he wanted to punish not only the Goblin King for denying him his human wife, but women of the Aboveground as well. His wife hadn’t been strong enough to complete the Labyrinth, and he considered that treachery. For that I believe he wanted to give pain and suffering to the women of the future who would have been paired with Goblin Kings. I don’t know what is in store for your Sarah, but I do know what happened to Cormac’s Moria.”

“If it will help me understand what I’m to do, than you had better tell me, otherwise, I think it is a bit more information about my father than I want to hear.”

“Jareth, you need not worry, your father was totally honorable in this matter, both to me and to Moria.” Livia sadly patted her son’s arm. “It was Cormac who suffered the most. There was little I could do for him, except be there to listen to him when he needed someone to talk to, as he had been there for me when…when my other half died before we were old enough to marry.”

“I’m sorry, Mother, I had no idea you and father had so much pain in your lives.” Jareth whispered. He’d always known his mother was strong, but hadn’t realized the depth of her strength until that moment.

“You were our son, it is only right that you didn’t know these things.” She sat straighter and took a sip of her cognac before continuing her story. “Moria was a young woman of about 24 human years. She would have been old enough to have been with your father, but the way they met prevented it, even if Cormac hadn’t already been married. Moria wished her son away to the Goblin King, but not for the usual reasons. Her son had been born too early, at barely 24 weeks. She’d had the little red book with the story of the Labyrinth since she was a child and part of her believed in its power. In desperation to save the life of her son, she called upon the Goblins to take him and hopefully cure him. Challenging the Labyrinth to win the babe back was never even a question. Moria handed over the boy child and that was it. But she was as trapped as Cormac was. She in the Aboveground, with no memory of her son, or the man she would love until her dying day. Her life must have been an empty one. I’m thankful her years were few compared to ours. Your father had the child, but it was the woman he loved. I think he spent part of every night keeping an eye on her, in owl form, until the day she died. Then he slowly began to die himself.”

“What happened to the child? Was father’s magic able to cure him?”

“Yes, more than that really. The babe was so premature, that the same magic that cured him, changed him. He seemed to absorb it like a small sponge, until he was no longer human, but Fae.”

“Declan,” Jareth gasped. “That explains his accent and unusual hair coloring, though why he would speak in such a way makes no sense.”

“Yes,” Livia nodded. “As to his speech pattern, the Magic works in strange ways. I like to think that, like his coloring, it is a gift left to him from his mother.”

“Does he know?”

“I told him about his parentage, and he told Merilee, before he asked her to marry him, but the rest I’ve never told another living soul.”

Jareth nodded as he realized the grave responsibility Livia had passed to him. “You needn’t worry mother. Declan has been like a brother to me for 500 years, nothing is going to change that.”

Chapter Text


Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in a war
For a lead role in a cage
~Wish You Were Here ~ Pink Floyd ~

Jareth spent the next few months researching all the information on the Curse that was to be had in the Underground. He tracked down every rumor and legend, no matter how obscure. Anyone who had talked to Sarah or interacted with her in any way was questioned in detail on the off-chance that something could be learned. The Goblin King knew he was overlooking an important piece of the puzzle, but no matter what he and Declan did, it still remained illusive.

Sarah spent the summer immediately following her trip through the Labyrinth convincing herself that it had all been a dream. Since a week didn’t go by during which she didn’t have recurring nightmares, it wasn’t all that easy to accomplish.

She packed away her toys and costumes in the attic. Her books were divided up, some packed away but a few of them remained on her shelves. Every time she walked into Toby’s room and saw Lancelet in his crib she knew she’d made the right choice in giving him the bear. It made her happy to see him playing with the stuffed animal, and loving it as much as she did. There was one item she couldn’t part with and that was her Labyrinth book. In desperation, she put it away in her nightstand where it would be nearby, but out of sight and hopefully out of mind.

As her dreams continued, she found solace in sketching the odd things she’d dreamt about, though she never showed her drawings to anyone, not even her father. Late at night she’d sit in her window seat and look through the pictures she’d created over the summer. There was a dwarf, a strange little Knight riding a dog, which looked suspiciously like Merlin, and a huge bear-like animal, with a sad face and horns. She drew pictures of strange forests and an odorous bog. There was even a landscape of a valley, orange in the afternoon sun. The valley encompassed a huge maze, leading to crumbling houses and finally a castle. But every time she tried to draw the occupant of that strange castle, her hand would falter and her fingers would be unable to hold her pencil. Her drawings gave her strength and were an outlet for her imagination. By the time autumn came, she was looking forward to going back to school.

Her high school years were good ones. She did well in school and took more and more art classes. To everyone around her it was a seamless transition from acting to art, but Sarah knew it was more than that. Sometime that summer she had come to understand that her mom and acting were synonymous in her mind. Once she realized that, she knew it was all right to let go of her mother’s dreams and live her own. She no longer looked in her mirror and saw her mother’s daughter, but instead, she saw Sarah Williams. When she made that discovery at 16, her life changed for the better.

She loved her brother dearly and though she couldn’t say that she loved Karen, she had learned to respect her. It was obvious that her father loved his second wife and she loved him in return. For that, Sarah was thankful. It gave her joy to see both her father and stepmother happy.

In all the years she lived at home she never called to her friends from the Underground. She would often find herself staring deeply into her mirror, even reaching for its surface, as if there was a hand reaching for hers on the other side, but instead of a warm gnarled palm, her fingertips were met by cool glass and nothing more. “It was only a dream,” she would mutter. She never saw the sad eyes of a Dwarf, a Rock Conjurer, or a Knight that often stared back at her.

“No it wasn’t, Sarah,” Hoggle would say, but his words went unheard, or if she did hear them she was too afraid to acknowledge them. It would have meant taking a hard look at the part of herself that she’d left behind in the twists and turns of the Labyrinth, and at other tiny pieces she’d lost when a Crystal Ballroom shattered and than a maze of rock stairs cracked around her.

Sarah was content. Gone was the passionate girl who would rail at the world, often shouting, “it isn’t fair”. In her place was a calm, studious young woman. She had a large number of acquaintances, but she wouldn’t ever let anyone in close enough to know who she really was. If she did that she’d have to explain the odd dreams and she wasn’t ready to share those.

Though she grew into the beauty that had been hinted at in her early teens, she was never able to form an attachment with males in her class. At first she didn’t miss it. Her grades were good enough to get her into the college of her choice and her art was very important to her. She always said that Toby was her favorite date. It made him smile, but Karen worried about her lack of a social life and hoped getting away from home would change that.

When she went off to college it didn’t seem odd that there were no men in her life, but late in her freshman year, as she watched all the other women pairing off, she began to wonder what was wrong with her. She went on dates, but they never led to anything. All the faceless young men meant nothing to her. She felt whole and complete without them and realized she was only going through the motions. None of them excited her and she couldn’t imagine going to bed with any of them.

It was about that time that her dreams began to change. In the past, she’d only been an observer, now she became a player in her almost nightly adventures.

The dream began with Sarah walking down the street next to the College campus. It was late at night and everything appeared deserted. In the distance she could hear a clock loudly ticking. She was looking for something that she had lost and time was running short. Suddenly there was a blast of noise and she turned. A neon sign flashed over a bar half-way down the street. Club Underground…it flashed and flashed, until its light drowned out the ticking of the clock.

She ran to the club and pushed open the great doors. They creaked loudly as she strained against them. The interior was strangely luminescent, but she couldn’t see where the odd light was coming from. The room felt familiar. There were undercurrents of fear in the air, though oddly enough they beckoned to her.

Gauzy curtains covered the walls and hung from the chandeliers. The décor was an opulent dingy splendor that had seen better days. Tables and chairs were crowded around a dance floor. Each table was overflowing with goblets, candelabras, and knick-knacks, which gave the place a sadly used appearance. In the corners of the room there were stacks of soft plush pillows. Sarah longed to go over to the nearest one to rest, but as she drew closer, she saw the bodice of a woman’s dress and one dainty silk stocking trailing between the soft cushions.

“No,” Sarah called out when it became apparent what that area had last been used for. She turned quickly and wove between the tables, back towards an area that contained settees and plush couches. Suddenly she was at the edge of the highly polished marble dance floor. The only part of the room that looked as if was taken care of.

“I’ve been here before,” she muttered, but couldn’t make herself step out onto the marble floor. “This is wrong, something is missing.” When her heart stopped pounding in her ears, and her breathing returned to normal Sarah heard something that locked her in place. Someone was singing, but she could hardly make out the words. Grabbing all her courage she stepped onto the dance floor and dashed across it to the tables beyond.

“Wasting away again in Margaritaville, Searching for my lost shaker of salt.”

“That’s not right,” Sarah called out. She associated the room she was in with a song and a voice, but the voice was too ragged and the song was all wrong.

“Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, but I know it’s nobody’s fault.”

Then she saw it. A bottle of Tequila was lying on its side on the table in front of her. That’s where the little voice was coming from, along with a distinct ‘splish-splash’, followed by a very large belch.

“Hey, you in there, are you all right?” She called out to a deep blue shape swimming in the golden liquid.

“’ello,” a familiar worm grinned up at Sarah as he worked his way to the mouth of the bottle. “’Course I am. Just ‘aving me one for the road,” he hiccupped and grinned even wider. “Oops, sorry there, Miss.”

“I know you!” Sarah stared back in astonishment. The little worm hung over the lip of the bottle and gazed up at her. “You’re…you’re…the worm from the Labyrinth. You invited me to have tea with you and your wife.” All the while she talked he nodded his little blue head, as if he remembered her too.

“Shhh, not the Missus, please, she don’t know I came to the party.” He blinked slowly and kept right on grinning.

“But what am I doing here?” Sarah looked around in confusion. “And where is here?”

“If you don’t know where you are, than any place should do.” He stuck out his tongue, licked up a grain of salt and a few drops of Tequila from the table beside his bottle. “That’s what was missing,” he smacked his lips. “I don’t suppose you have any limes with you?”

“No, I’m very sorry, I don’t.”

“Oh well,” he sighed. “It doesn’t really matter. But as I was saying, everybody else is gone, now. You’re too late, you missed it.”

“Was that what I was looking for?” Sarah remembered that she’d been running down the street looking for something, but she didn’t think it was a party.

“Don’t know, Miss.” The worm began to scuttle backward into his bottle.

“Wait please,” she called out. “I need to find my way.”

The worm stopped and thought for a moment. “Well I heard tell once, that the way forward is sometimes the way back.”

“That sounds very familiar,” Sarah whispered as she looked around to get her bearings, but the door to the room had disappeared. “But which way do I go, how do I get back?”

“It’s right there, in front of you, Miss.” He pointed with his little nose just before he crawled back into his bottle and began to sing and drink his way to the bottom. “Don’t know the reason…slurp, slurp, slurp…that I stayed here all season, With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo…slurp, slurp, slurp…But it’s a real beauty…slurp, slurp, slurp…

“Thank you,” Sarah said softly as she walked away from the table, over to the wall that the worm had pointed to. She turned back one last time, but she couldn’t hear his drinking song anymore. The bottle was still there though and beside it was a red mask, made of bone. It had horns and a handle so its wearer could hold it in place. “Nooooo,” she gasped and closed her eyes tightly. For a split second her mind had been filled with the picture of the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. The harder she tried to hold onto the memory, the faster it disappeared, until all that was left was the deep rumble of a laugh that caressed her skin and made her catch her breath.

In desperation she ran to the wall and pulled aside gauzy material that blocked her way. She was brought up short when she found her nose pressed against a curved crystal wall that extended forever. Suddenly the wall cracked and Sarah pulled back to cover her face as it exploded outward, pulling her with it. Then she was falling, and landed softly on her bed.

She woke up and gasped. Her body was shaking and she could hardly catch her breath. For the first time in a long time she was afraid. The dream was as clear as if it had really happened. She got up on shaky legs and that night added two drawings to her growing collection. The first was of a once opulent Ballroom, the morning after a large party and the second was of a smiling Blue Worm.
……………………..


We got eyes that see in the dark
And the power of love lives for making you mine
And in the light of close investigation
Is it only my imagination
I got you.
~Eyes That See In The Dark ~ Kenny Rogers

It had been almost six years since Sarah was in the Underground and Jareth was beginning to give up hope. He concentrated on running his kingdom and searching the Labyrinth for Caliban’s hidden spell. He allowed himself to visit Sarah, and the Aboveground, two or three times a month. But there were some nights when sleep evaded him and he felt her dreams, as they increased in frequency and intensity. On those nights, he couldn’t leave her alone, even if he’d been there the night before. It galled him that he was so helpless, stuck in owl form while in her world, unable to enter her dreams and bring her a peaceful sleep.

“Jareth….Jareth…” Someone called his name and it brought him quickly out of a dreamless sleep. A moment later he was a huge white barn owl winging his way to the Aboveground. Sarah was finally calling to him. She was finally calling him by name. Her voice guided him to her side, but what he found was totally unexpected.

She was in her old room, in the home she’d grown up in. The house was dark and he could sense that no one else was there. It was summer. The air was heavy with rain and the smell of green growing things, but Sarah had left her window open despite the dampness. He flew in and before he touched the ground resumed his human form.

“You,” Sarah whispered as she looked with wide bright eyes at the tall man dressed in black, his flowing cape lined with midnight blue glittering and billowing around him.

“Me,” Jareth’s brows rose and he smiled at her look of confused surprise. With a wave of his hand he clouded and closed the portal in Sarah’s mirror. Since Hoggle, Didymus and Ludo kept a close watch on her, it was likely one or all three of them were there. He had no desire to have his first encounter with the human in six years to be common knowledge.

When she shook her head and blinked at him as if she hadn’t heard him, he stepped closer while casually straightening his gloves. “Sarah, you called for me.”

“But you’re not real,” she rocked slightly on bare feet. She was dressed in blue draw-string pajama bottoms and a white tank top. Her hair flowed down her back in wild, damp abandon as if she’d just come in from the rain.

“Come, come, Sarah, I expected something more original from you.” The Goblin King narrowed his eyes and walked around the surprised young woman. This wasn’t going as he’d thought it would.

“But…” She stepped closer to him, her eyes glittering as she tried to make sense out of what was happening, but all she could do was stare at him. “You’re more beautiful than I remembered,” she whispered as she caressed his cheek and took a deep breath. “And you smell like moonbeams and magic,” she smiled gently at a long ago memory. Enjoying the fragrance and the memories it triggered she leaned her nose against his shoulder.

“Sarah,” he whispered and reached for her face, with every intention of kissing her. But as his gloved hands came in contact with her skin, he was alarmed at how hot and feverish she felt. “You’re ill! Why has your healer done nothing for you?”

“What…oh…” she smiled up at him and pointed toward a small bottle of medication on her nightstand. “I’ll be fine in the morning, took the medicine. I’m just so hot and your cape feels so cool against my face.” Sarah leaned against his shoulder.

“Sarah, you’ve got to say the words, so I can take you back to the Underground with me. My healer will take care of you.” As her legs gave way he swung her up in his arms and hers tightened around his neck. “Sarah, say the words.”

“But it’s not real, none of this is real.” She smiled sadly her words slow and carefully chosen, as if she were speaking to a very young child. “You’re not real, not any more, I killed you.” She couldn’t pretend to smile any longer, as her eyes filled with tears and she buried her face against his neck and cried.

“Shhh, don’t cry, I’m here, right here,” he whispered in her ear, as he sat them on the bed, with his back against her headboard and pulled her body against his side. In that moment Jareth knew for certain that he loved her. He had a beautiful, desirable woman in his arms, and they were on a bed. She was wearing almost no clothes, but all he could think about was her safety. There was no other explanation for it: the emotions that rose up and filled his chest as he held her against his heart left no room for selfish or prurient desires. It was so out of character for him that he would have laughed if it hadn’t been so tragic. At times in the last six years, when it had all seemed hopeless, he’d tried to convince himself that maybe he was wrong. Now he had the proof he was looking for. The Curse was real and Sarah was the human girl who would be his making or breaking.

“Jareth,” Sarah’s head fell back against the arm he had wrapped around her. She wanted to look at him before he disappeared, before she woke from this dream.

“I’m right here,” he pulled his glove off and carefully wiped away the tears that ran down her cheeks. Once he held the droplets firmly in his grasp, he worked them with his fingers until they hardened into a tiny crystal.

“You can’t have Toby. I won’t let you have him.” She frowned. “He isn’t here, none of them are. They’re gone for the summer.”

“I came because you called me, don’t you remember?” He ran his bare hand over her flushed face again, and whispered a spell to bring down her fever.

“No, but I remember needing you.” Her eyes filled again. “I’m not afraid of you this time. I should be, but I’m not.” She squinted in confusion as her eyes grew heavy and she fell asleep in the arms of the Goblin King.

Once again Jareth gently wiped away her tears and once again he rolled them into a crystal. When he was sure she had cried all she was going to, he gathered them up and put them in the pocket of his vest for safekeeping.

He held her until he felt her illness retreat. It was evident the potion her healer had given her was strong enough to cure her, though he’d never seen anything that came in a plastic bottle before. He shrugged away his doubts. The Aboveworld was a strange place: who was he to question it, as long as Sarah was getting better.

As much as he would have liked to stay with her, he knew he couldn’t. Dawn was fast approaching and Sarah was in no condition to say the words and mean them.
………………………..


Sometimes the truth just ain’t enough
Or it’s too much in times like this
Let’s throw the truth away, we’ll find it in a kiss
In your skin upon my skin. In the beating of our hearts
May the living let us in, before the dead tear us apart
~World Apart ~ Bruce Springsteen~

“Sarah, are you doing all right?” Robert Williams looked across the table at his 23-year-old daughter. She’d taken her mother’s death, a year ago, in an auto accident, hard but in typical Sarah fashion had rebounded quickly.

“Sure, Dad. Why do you ask?” Since Sarah had graduated college and moved out on her own, she always met her dad for lunch whenever she had business in New York City.

“I worry about you, that’s all.” He rubbed his chest and knew he shouldn’t have let Sarah pick the restaurant. Her love of spicy foods always gave him heartburn.

“I’m doing just fine. I enjoy living in the old farmhouse mom left me. I’ve been working with the Audubon Society to turn the woods on the property into a reserve, for the Barn Owl that lives there.” She sighed, thinking about the lovely bird that she’d sketched hundreds of times. “In the last year I’ve had more offers of work than hours in the day. You may not know it, but your little girl is in demand as a children’s book illustrator. Besides, you know that mom left me everything. I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life if I didn’t want to.”

“Sarah, I’m not talking about that. I worry because…because…” He grimaced not sure how to broach the subject. “You live such a solitary life.”

“Karen put you up to this, didn’t she?” Sarah shook her head. “I’m fine, really I am. I’m not the least bit lonely; if I was I’d come and visit you guys.”

Robert watched his daughter carefully. She was hiding something from him and he didn’t like it. “What about your own talent, your own imagination, Sarah?”

“What do you mean?” She looked up at her father with guarded eyes.

“I’ve seen the drawings….wait a sec before you blow up. I wasn’t prying, you left them out on your window seat one night and I saw them.” He gripped her hand and smiled at her. “You’ve got a wonderful imagination of your own. You can’t tell me you haven’t already built a story around that dwarf, and knight, in that wild strange kingdom you draw so well. What are you waiting for? Why settle for drawing pretty pictures for other people’s ideas when yours are so much better.”

“It’s not like that, Daddy,” she whispered.

Robert was surprised. It had been years since she’d called him Daddy. “Then what is it like?”

“I don’t know.” Sarah frowned and blinked away tears. “It’s not a story I can tell, those pictures are just for me.”

“Sarah, sometimes it looks to me as if you’re just marking time. I want so much more for you than that.”

“I used to think I was waiting until I grew up,” she shrugged and wiped her damp cheeks with a tissue. “I used to think I’d feel different then, but I’m all grown up. I’ll be 24 in a month, and it isn’t any different. I guess it never will be.”

“At the time your mom left us, I didn’t understand it, but I do now. It was something she had to do, or she would have regretted it all her life. I just don’t want you to have regrets when you get older, that’s all.”

“I won’t, I promise.” She smiled and quickly changed the subject. “If you don’t want to finish your ‘hot and sour’ soup, I’ll finish it for you.”

“Here you go, kiddo,” Robert pushed the bowl over to his daughter, and reached for another antacid.
………….
One week later Robert Williams was dead. He died of a massive heart attack, leaving behind a young widow, a 23-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.
…………..


As the pain sweeps through
Makes no sense for you
Every thrill has gone
Wasn’t too much fun at all
But I’ll be there for you
As the world falls down
As the world falls down, falling in love
~As The World Falls Down ~ David Bowie

“Jareth.” He was taking a moonlit flight over the Labyrinth, checking on his subjects that lived within the maze, as his name was whispered in misery. The sound echoed from across worlds and pierced his heart. Moments later he flapped his great wings and headed to the Aboveground. She had called to him, again. In the 9 years since she had succeeded in finding her way through the Labyrinth she had only called to him twice before. The first time had been three years ago. She’d been out of her head with fever. He’d stayed with her through the night until he was sure that her fever had broken. Then he’d left.
~~~~~~~
The other time had been a year ago. She had wept his name with such bitter loneliness that he had wondered how a human could survive such sorrow. When he’d flown to her, he’d discovered her living in a small one-room apartment near the institute of higher learning she was attending. Sarah had cried herself to sleep. Her body was stretched across her bed, with a telegram clutched in her hand. The Goblin King had picked her up to settle her more comfortably, and then had wrapped his body around hers. Once he’d whispered a soothing spell to send her into a deep sleep, he’d carefully dealt with her tears as he had the last time he’d held her. Then he’d had no qualms about reading the message that had caused her such sorrow. It was apparent her mother had died while riding in a conveyance of some kind.

He had quietly whispered a spell to ease her pain and had sealed it deep in her mind with a kiss. Though she’d slipped into a natural sleep, he’d remained with her until first light, watching over her and holding her close.
~~~~~~
Now she was calling him again. “Jareth,” Sarah whimpered as she tossed and turned. Her words caught on the wind and were carried to the owl that was moving from one world to the next.

His wings flapped against the window of the bedroom where she was trying to sleep, but it was locked against the icy breeze that blew across her world. He flapped harder, whipping the wind into a frenzy that caused the branches of an old tree to scratch and bang against the glass that blocked his way. Finally she turned over in bed and stared unseeingly at the window.

“Did you come back to me?” Sarah wondered drowsily as she pulled herself up in bed. With unsteady feet she moved to the window and tried to pull it open. It took two tries but she finally succeeded.

Silently he flew past her and circled her head, then came to land two feet away.

“It’s you.” Sarah stared at him, with eyes red from crying. She was dreaming, she knew she had to be, but her soul was steeped in misery and she didn’t care. Anything or anyone who would help her through the next few days was necessary, even if it was only a being from her imagination. She remembered dreaming about Jareth twice before, once she’d been sick and then after her mother had died. Fleetingly, she wondered why it was always the Goblin King she called to when she was in the most need.

“Sarah,” his voice was deep and vibrated across her skin. He stood strong with his chin raised in defiance as the wind whipped through the room, causing the girl to shiver in her tank top and draw-string pajama bottoms.

She stepped closer and took a deep breath. Her nostrils filled with the scent of the wind and magic as stardust swirled around her. Tears ran freely down her face and she was suddenly dizzy at how familiar it felt. “Everything’s dancing,” she whispered as she reached for him, the only support in her spinning world.

Toby woke with a start. He heard a strange noise coming from the guest room, where Sarah was supposed to be sleeping and he was worried about her. Their father’s funeral had been that morning and it had been hard on all of them, but Sarah had held strong like she always did. Toby knew it had been Sarah who had put his mom to bed and called the doctor when the older woman’s grief had been overwhelming. It had been Sarah who had fixed his dinner and held him as he had cried himself to sleep. He remembered wondering guiltily, as he finally gave-in to exhaustion and let his eyes close, ‘who held Sarah when she cried?’

The ten-year-old wiped the sleep from his eyes and slid out of bed. ‘Poor Sarah,’ he thought as he opened the door to her old room, which was now his, and headed down the hall to the guest room. Toby opened Sarah’s door and stood stock still as he looked into cool mismatched eyes. An odd looking man was sitting on the guest bed, holding his sister as she slept.

“Well, either come in or get out,” accented words slithered past Toby’s ears. “But whatever you do, close the door.” As the boy heard the words, the door was pulled from his fingers and closed quietly behind him.

“Whooo,” the ten-year-old gasped. He wasn’t sure what do to or say.

A man with spiky blonde hair, dressed in midnight black and blue sat leaning against Sarah’s headboard. There was something about Sarah and the unusual man that looked completely natural to Toby. His sister was lying on her stomach with her body pressed tightly against the stranger’s side. Her cheek was resting on his abdomen above his ornate belt. One of her arms was wrapped around his waist and her fingers clutched the material of his shirt, next to her face.

The masculine arm that held her in place was covered with a flowing cape. All that was visible was his gloved hand caressing her shoulder and absent-mindedly fingering the lacy strap of Sarah’s tank top. His free hand slowly massaged her scalp and neck. Then it ran through her hair as it cascaded over his legs. The gesture was oddly soothing. All Toby could do was stand and stare as peace flooded him.

“Shhh…” The man holding Sarah stopped the hypnotic hand movement and raised a gloved finger to his lips. “It wouldn’t do to waken your sister.”

“You’re him, aren’t you?” Toby whispered as he shook himself and moved closer to the bed. “You’re the Goblin King.” He looked towards his sleeping sister. One of her shoulders was hidden beneath the man’s sparkling black cape and her body was pressed against his long legs that were stretched out on the bed. Where his booted feet crossed at the ankles one of Sarah’s pink-toenailed bare feet rested easily on the supple dark leather of his boots. In her sleep, she looked at peace, for the first time since the news of their father’s heart attack three days ago.

The stranger smiled softly at the child and nodded his head. “Yes, I’m, Jareth, King of the Goblins. You’ll excuse me if I don’t rise on introduction, but we’ve met before, or at least I think we have. You’re him,” he grinned wickedly, using the boy’s own words. “You’re the child who got away.”

“I’m Toby, but I never seem to be able to get away with anything, so you must have me confused with someone else.”

“Possibly,” Jareth nodded, he knew the child should have no memory of his time in the Underground and doubted Sarah had told him about being wished away.

“Sarah’s going to be mad when she wakes up and finds you sitting on her bed with your clothes on.” It was one of Sarah’s rules. No sitting on her bed unless you were dressed for bed.

“Well, it would be hardly appropriate for me to be sitting here without them.” Jareth’s eyes sparkled with mischief. The babe that he’d known nine years ago had grown into an intelligent, pleasant child.

“I guess you didn’t bring your robe from the Underground?” Toby’s face scrunched up as he realized that there was something more to the King’s comments. Something that was just out of his reach. It was times like this he wished he were a bit older because he was sure he would have understood it.

“The Underground, how do you know about me and where I come from?” The King resumed easing Sarah’s pain by running his hand through her long brown hair and working his fingers against the tight muscles of her neck and scalp.

“I know all about you, and your Kingdom. My sister likes to read to me from your book.”

“My book?” Jareth’s eyebrows rose in question and doubt. From all the information he’d gathered about the Curse, the book was never left behind, to give the girl a second chance. After Sarah broke the spell nine years earlier, he’d assumed her book had been broken as well. It was obvious she’d had dreams and some memories about him. It was the only thing that had given him hope.

“Yeah, the Labyrinth book.” The boy reached into the nightstand beside the bed and pulled out the worn red copy that Sarah took with her everywhere.

The King carefully schooled his features to show nothing of what he was feeling. “Explain,” he commanded.

“This one,” he held it out to the King. “Sarah has had it since she was a child.” Very young blue eyes met much older ones and Jareth carefully plucked pictures from Toby’s memory. In that moment he saw clearly what the child had been thinking about. There were multiple images of Sarah as she had grown and changed over the last nine years, but each time she was sitting next to Toby’s bed reading to him from the book the child now held in his hand. In the dark, Jareth clearly saw the title Labyrinth etched in gold on the binding.

It was impossible. Though its existence explained how Sarah was able to remember him well enough to call him by name. So much that concerned her did not follow what was known about the Curse. The jagged remains of the Escher Room still hung in place, as solid and indestructible as magic could make them. They were exactly as they had been on that fateful night after Sarah had uttered the words that should have spelled disaster for him. But the magic had remained, and it had wrapped itself around the Goblin King until there was no escaping it.

“Your Majesty?” Toby stepped closer to the bed, the book forgotten and put back in the nightstand.

“Yes, child,” Jareth looked down his perfect nose at the child’s worried face.

“Is she going to be all right?” In the dark he could see tears still caught in Sarah’s eyelashes and it worried him. “Daddy died three days ago, and she’s all alone now.” He was young and he loved her dearly, but he didn’t know how to help her.

“She isn’t alone. She has you.” Deep mismatched eyes looked into Toby’s.

“But I’m just a kid.” The boy frowned. His own pain was still too new. His breath caught and he tried not to cry as he wondered how to help his sister. “Wait, she has you too!”

“No, boy,” Jareth shook his head in sorrow.

“But you’re here.” Toby’s voice was hoarse with tears. “You gotta help her.”

“There is nothing I can do, but what I am doing now.” He sighed. “In the morning it will be only a dream and by afternoon she will forget it entirely.

“If you’re who you say you are, then you’ve got magic!” The child declared. Sarah had read him the story in her Labyrinth book many times. “Use your magic and make her remember.”

“There is nothing I can do, unless she remembers on her own.”

“But she’s so alone. I’ve still got my mom, but hers died in a car crash over a year ago.”

“I know,” the Goblin King nodded.

“Were you there for her then too?” Toby asked in a quiet voice.

“Yes, I was.” Jareth pulled Sarah closer to him and removed one of his gloves. He ran a finger over her face, collecting her tears. With a quick motion he rubbed the moisture he’d gathered from her cheeks between his thumb and fingers. He worked it over and over again until it became a tiny crystal. “Don’t you humans know how dangerous it is to leave tears where others can find them? They contain potent magic that can be used against you if you’re not careful.”

“You won’t let that happen to her will you?”

“Of course not, boy,” the Goblin King arched an eyebrow as he looked down his nose at the curly-haired blonde child standing so close to him. With a flick of his wrist, a velvet pouch appeared. “Open the sack, Toby.”

“Yes sir,” the child reached and pulled the drawstrings open and Jareth carefully slid the crystal tears into it. Toby heard them plop against the soft black material. “Will they be safe there?”

“I guard them with my life, all of them.”

“Are all of those Sarah’s?” The young boy peered into the sack at the small collection of crystals.

“That is a very personal question.” Jareth snipped and flicked his wrist. The velvet pouch disappeared from view, but he felt the slight weight of it against his hip in the hidden pocket of his cape.

“But you said you’d protect her.”

“And I shall.” Jareth moved his hand over Sarah, casting a spell to deepen her sleep. The child needed tending to. His lips quivered at the irony, that he was the one who would be doing the tending. “Climb up here.” He patted the far side of the bed. “Crawl in next to your sister.”

Toby did as he was told and shivered as he snuggled against her warm back. Once the child was asleep, Jareth reached into Sarah’s nightstand and pulled out the worn red book. He smiled thinking that it must mean a lot to her if she kept it so close all the time. He would have liked to take it back with him to study it, but there was a reason it was still in Sarah’s possession, so it would remain so.

He opened the book and began to commit the story to memory as he read; with any luck he’d find the missing piece of the puzzle. A cruel smile played over his lips when he realized the irony of a Goblin King finally getting to read the words that had destroyed so many in the past, but might just save him.
…………………………


All the people, tell me what would they say
If they knew her, how she hides it away
Locked inside, there’s the start of a flame
And the feelings that she never will tame…
Thrills in the night, far from the light, passion taking over
Prices she pays, all through the days. No one really knows her.
~Thrills in The Night – Kiss~

Sarah’s 24th birthday marked a change in her life. Over the last 9 years her dreams had increased in frequency and intensity. She remembered clearly when she had become a participant in the dreams, not just an observer. Now, at 24, her dreams took an erotic turn.

At first she thought this was a sign. Maybe she was finally getting back some of the passion that had disappeared the summer she was 15. Much to her dismay, she discovered that the passion was there, but only at night, when she slept and it was a passion that offered no release.

Sarah turned over in her sleep. Her heart rate began to increase and her body tingled. She moaned as hands only her dreaming mind could see caressed her, driving her to the edge, but no further. It was happening again. It had been three nights since she’d gotten much sleep and she didn’t know if she could take much more.

Somehow she was stripped of her tank top and panties. She knew with a certainty that she would find them cast haphazardly across her floor, but she was never sure in the morning how or when she’d taken them off.

“Please, please,” her sleeping lips formed the words as her back arched and her thighs trembled. Her skin was hypersensitive, as air currents danced over it, teasing her into a frenzy. The slightest touch set her on fire and she burned, oh how she burned!

“Yes….” She urged and gripped the sheet on either side of her. Her hips rocked invitingly, as long-fingered pale hands cupped her breasts and teased her nipples. “Harder….” She gasped as the tension rose from her core. “I need….I need….” Her breath came in gasps and her body thrashed.

Sarah writhed and whimpered. All she could do was hang on and go where the dream drove her. Higher and higher she went until she was dizzy and panting with need. Her hard nipples throbbed and she was wet and ready for a man, but no one was there to fill her and relieve her misery. She bucked and shook until she was poised on the edge looking out over eternity. She would have sold her soul to have been able to leap off, but tonight, like all the other nights, she didn’t leap, she fell, and the dream dissolved around her leaving her unfulfilled. As always, her eyes opened and she sat straight up in bed. Her body still quivered with desire and all that was left was the echo of a voice from long ago, whispering, “what a pity.”

Tears of frustration streamed down Sarah’s face as she shook with unanswered need. She knew from experience that anything she attempted to do to resolve the problem herself would only prolong it. There was no blinding light of passion, no sweet moment of completion, in Sarah’s future. There never was and unless something changed, there never would be.

“Oh help me,” she cried as she rolled out of bed and scooped up a running bra and shorts. Thunder echoed in her ears as rain pounded on her window. She looked over in desperation and knew that no matter how badly she needed to get out and run, the weather outside wouldn’t allow it. She turned and took the steps two at a time until she was on the top floor of the old farmhouse her mother, Linda. had left her when she’d died.

Sarah had turned her mom’s rehearsal hall into a gym. With a flip of the switch, lights brightened the room and loud music bounced off the floor to ceiling mirrors. Sarah headed for her treadmill and began to run. On nights like this when she was driven from sleep by odd dreams and her body screamed for release, she set her pace to the rhythm that poured from her stereo. If she ran fast enough and long enough she might be able to convince herself that it was the pounding of the music that filled her veins and the heat from her body was only due to over-exertion.

She was well into her run when her right calf pulled and knotted, making her stumble. “Noooo,” she gasped as she hobbled over to the ballet barre that ran the length of one mirrored wall. With tight-lipped determination she attempted to stretch out her muscle, only to end up crashing to the floor in a heap of tears and frustration.

When her calf finally stopped cramping, she clung to the barre and pulled herself up to a sitting position. Her forehead leaning against the cool mirror, she reached around and tried one final stretch to relieve the last of the pain that had shot up and down her leg. “Please help me,” she cried out as she beat her fist against her exhausted reflection. “Why do I burn with desire in my dreams, but in my waking life am unable to find anything even closely resembling passion?”

It was as if she were two different women. One staid and proper, always polite and cool, the other wild and passionate, but balanced on the edge. Never once, even in her most erotic dreams had she been able to find fulfillment. When the dreams had first started, she’d experimented with ‘women’s toys’ to take her to completion, but no matter what she’d done, her body couldn’t relax enough to give her release.

“Help me Jar…” Sarah stopped herself before the forbidden name slipped from her lips. “No, he was only a dream from long ago.” She whimpered, afraid to admit even to herself, in the dark of night, the power his name possessed.

On the other side of the mirror, a little Knight stared back at Sarah’s misery. “Oh, my Lady,” he sighed. He was glad he’d taken this watch alone. It would have been unseemly for the others to see her shivering and shaking in most unladylike distress.

When Sarah got up and left, and the room was filled with darkness, Sir Didymus turned with grim determination and headed to the Castle Beyond the Goblin City. He was not surprised to find his King awake, pacing in agitation.

“Your Majesty?” The Knight knocked timidly on the open door of Jareth’s study.

“Well?” The King turned and scowled at his small subject. The last thing he needed was a visit from Didymus. With luck it would be one of the old Knight’s odd requests and Jareth could get back to his brooding.

“It was my watch at the mirror tonight,” he whispered. When Sarah had moved out of her parent’s home, Jareth had adjusted his spell. Now any looking glass that contained Sarah’s reflection was an avenue for her friends to get to her, but never in nine years had she called to them. So they had taken up watch and sent reports to their King.

“If it was another night of watching films about knights, quests, and impossible dreams, I’ve already told you that I will not build you a windmill.” He arched his brow and stared at his small subject, daring him to speak of anything more serious. “And the dragons are off limits unless you want to start a war that they will surely finish!”

“Ahhh no, Your Majesty that is not what this is about, but…since you mention it…if you could see your way to build one small wind….”

“Didymus!” Jareth’s voice carried all the menace he felt. The intense erotic dream he’d awakened from had left his heart throbbing and his blood pounding, but he had no desire for any woman within his reach. The only one who would be able to cool his blood was worlds away and could do nothing for him, since he could only be with her in bird form unless she called to him.

“Yes…aheam…well…as I was saying I was on watch at the mirror and…well…The Lady Sarah had a most…unusual dream.”

“What kind of dream?” The King’s face showed no emotion but the little Knight could tell it was costing the Fae to maintain his composure.

“Your Majesty, you may be assured that I didn’t see the actual dream, just the after effects. I believe it is…well…the kind she’s been having lately.”

“I was afraid of that,” Jareth sighed and sat stiffly in the wing-backed chair in front of the fireplace. “Do the others know?”

“No, Sir. When these dreams started we decided it would be better…if…well…if we divided up the guard duty.” Sir Didymus flushed under his fur. “Tonight, was…different she…well, she cried, and then I believed…it seemed as if she started to call out your name,” he whispered. “She only stopped herself by insisting that…it was all a dream.”

“I see.” He sat straighter and dug deep for his kingly demeanor. It was what he feared, but he couldn’t let anyone know what he was feeling. “That will be all.”

“But Your Highness, we can’t leave her like this.” Sir Didymus stepped closer to his king. Though Jareth didn’t know it, the Knight could see the signs that his Monarch was suffering almost as much as Sarah was. “My Lady Sarah is a definitely in distress, this time. We have to help her.”

“I said, that will be all.” Jareth’s quiet rumble shook the windows. Didymus sighed to himself and walked slowly out of the room, his heart heavy for both the King and Sarah.

After the little dog left, Jareth let his head fall back and tried to release the tight grip he was holding on his muscles. There had to be something he could do. Last week he and Declan had come across something very interesting. At the time Caliban cast the original spell, his human wife had been 24 years old. Jareth remembered that Cormac had met his human girl when she was 24. Most telling of all was that in May, Sarah had turned 24, and in the months since, she’d been having wild erotic dreams, which had sung to him across worlds and made his blood burn.

He had thought that the worst the Curse had to offer him was loneliness, but that had all changed. He finally understood the full weight of the spell that had been cast. It was especially cruel to know that Sarah was going through the same torments and he couldn’t go to her. No wonder past Goblin Kings had aged and died before their time. No wonder the Goblin Kingdom had become a shadow of its former glory, when all its creatures felt pain and longing, or were too slow witted to understand what was going on around them.

“There has to be a way,” Jareth muttered as he leafed through his notes for the hundredth time that night.
………….
He spent hours going over everything he’d accumulated in the last nine years on Caliban’s curse and Sarah. For the 10th time that night his eyes tracked down the page he’d written after Sarah’s father had died. Suddenly a slow smile spread across his face. “Yes, why didn’t I see it before?”

“If you’re going to talk to yourself, Jareth, you really should close your door.” Declan leaned against the doorframe with a grim expression on his face. It was evident the King had been up most of the night again. Declan had little doubt what had happened and was just as sure that his friend wouldn’t welcome any comment, no matter how kindly it was meant.

“The Goblin King has always been known to be a bit eccentric, are you suggesting I change the image after all these generations?” He grinned at his assistant for the first time since Sarah had turned 24.

“You found something!” Declan gasped at the change in Jareth’s demeanor from past mornings.

“I’ve been concentrating too much on the girl.”

“I don’t understand.” Declan took the breakfast tray from the Goblin servant who had brought it, and placed it on Jareth’s desk.

“Neither did I.” The King grinned as he took a swallow of hot morning brew. “The child is the key to getting Sarah back. Toby can see me and talk to me, why not use that to my advantage?”

“You can’t bring him back here. Sarah won his freedom.” Declan reached for his own cup of tea, a much less potent version of the brew Jareth favored. “And from what you tell me I doubt you can convince the child to wish his sister away.”

“Toby couldn’t do it, even if he wanted to, he doesn’t have the correct words.” The King nodded at the notes he held in his hand. “Here, read this. This is an exact duplicate of what was in Sarah’s book. The words were wrong.”

“Are you sure you remembered correctly?”

“When has my memory ever been in doubt?” Jareth’s chin rose and he looked down his nose at his friend.

“Never, when it was important to you, but you’ve told me yourself that you were holding Sarah as she slept.” Declan cleared his throat searching for a delicate way to say what needed to be said.

“Well, spit it out!” Though they were gentlemen and discreet in most matters, Jareth and Declan had never been shy when discussing their conquests with each other. It was the way the King knew his friend’s feelings for Merilee were deeper than carnal pleasures. Declan never shared the smallest detail about her. That was how Jareth felt about Sarah. He hated having to have his feelings for her on display and questioned, even by his most trusted friend.

“Are you sure your mind wasn’t on other matters?”

“Absolutely.” Jareth nodded and continued, as much as it pained him to do so. “My concern for her as I held her was to bring her peace and relief from the sorrow she was feeling. It has been like that the other times she’s called to me. Declan, it’s the reason I know that this damnable Curse has me in its grip and I have to win, or I’ll lose more than I ever realized it was possible to lose.”

“Well, in that case, what can I do to help?”

“Find the Goblins who were on watch that night, nine years ago, and question them. One of them had to have given her the correct words to say. There is no other explanation.” Jareth began making plans for the day, which included a visit to the Aboveground and a discussion with Toby.

“But the Goblins don’t know the words until they hear them, it’s been proven time and again.” Declan was unsure what his King wanted him to look for.

“We know that Sarah is my other half.” Jareth shrugged admitting out-loud something that until now he’d only admitted to himself. “If the Curse wanted to ruin things for me, it would have seen that she received the correct words when it wanted her to have them.”

Chapter Text


We’re running with the shadows of the night
So baby take my hand, it’ll be all right
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight
They’ll come true in the end
You said it’s a cold world
When you keep it all to yourself
I said you can’t hide on the inside
And all the pain you’ve ever felt
Ransom my heart, but baby don’t look back
Cause we got nobody else
~Shadows Of The Night ~ Pat Benatar~

Over the next few months Jareth got very little rest. Between the dreams Sarah unknowingly sent his way, his almost nightly visits to the Aboveground, and his official duties as Goblin King, there was little time for anything else. It took discipline, but the King spent less and less time watching Sarah, so he could extend his visits with Toby. The child missed his father and enjoyed having the companionship of an adult male. It was an easy task to persuade the boy to talk about his sister, and Jareth took pleasure in explaining life in the Underground.

Toby was fascinated with Jareth’s crystals and begged to learn to manipulate them as he’d seen the Goblin King do. Since his hand was too small to handle full-sized spheres, the King conjured smaller ones for him. They were carefully crafted from a spell which made it easy for the child to hold and manipulate, but impossible for their magic to be used by anyone except Jareth. The King was taking no chances with items of Power left unguarded in the world of man. As far as Toby was concerned, they were strictly for show. And Jareth knew exactly who he wanted Toby to show his new talent to.

Sarah was exhausted. It had been six months since her dad died. She was still having intense erotic dreams on almost a nightly basis and getting very little sleep. She was in the attic of her old house going through boxes that she’d packed away 9 years ago. They contained memories that she didn’t really want to look at. But it was necessary unless she simply threw them all away. Karen had received a well-earned promotion at work, and was selling the house. Her new position was manager of the branch office in San Francisco, over 3000 miles away. Sarah could hardly blame her stepmother for wanting to go back to the area where she’d grown up. Her parents were still living there and would care for Toby while she worked. It was an ideal situation, except it left Sarah alone, in Connecticut.

“Sarah,” Karen called up the stairs. “Would you like some coffee?”

“I’d sell my soul for a cup about now,” Sarah laughed.

“Well, nothing that drastic.” Karen looked up the stairs at the beautiful young woman her stepdaughter had grown into. At times it was hard for her to believe that this gentle, dark-haired person was the same passionate child who had so disrupted the early years of her marriage. “You stay there. I’ll bring it up, unless you want to take a break.”

“I’d like to keep at this. The end may be in sight.” Sarah slipped her Swiss Army Knife through the tape on the unmarked box and cut the seal that kept the corrugated top closed.

Five minutes later Karen climbed the stairs with a steaming mug in each hand. She found Sarah standing in front of a dusty full-length mirror holding a faded mint-green princess costume up to her shoulders. “So that’s what happened to that old dress. You wore it so much the spring you turned 15, I had begun to think it was painted on you.”

“It...Ah…ahh…holds lots of memories.” Sarah smiled sadly and sat on an old trunk, clutching the dress in one hand while reaching for her coffee with the other.

“They don’t look like they were very happy memories, kiddo.” Karen smiled gently and pushed a lock of Sarah’s long brown hair behind the younger woman’s ear.

Sarah shook her head, unable to talk about that summer with anyone. She’d shared part of it with Toby, but only him, no one else. “Where is Toby, by the way?”

“He’s in the garage practicing his magic act. Don’t tell him I told you, it was supposed to be a surprise.” Karen leaned back and looked out the window that faced the side of the house. She could hear her son’s voice coming from below, but he was too far away to make out the words.

“Magic, when did Toby start that?” The idea of her brother doing magic set off warning bells, but Sarah shook her doubts off as irrational.

“Not long after Robert died,” Karen whispered and blinked fast to keep tears from rolling down her face.

The stricken look on her stepmother’s face brought Sarah face to face with leftover guilt from her teen years. “I know I didn’t always act like it, but I’m glad you were there for Daddy,” Sarah sniffed to keep from crying. “After what my mother did to him, he really needed you.”

“Oh thank you, sweetie. But I don’t deserve any of the credit,” Karen tried to smile through her tears. “He was the man of my dreams, so it was easy.”

Sarah turned and looked at the woman beside her, but instead of seeing the grieving older woman, her mind was filled with images of a tall man with wild blonde hair and unusual eyes. A man who thrilled and frightened her on levels she didn’t understand, but who she knew had taken possession of her heart when she was 15 and had never let it go.

“Look at us,” Karen tried to laugh as she handed Sarah a tissue and wiped her wet cheeks with one of her own. “Robert would be furious with us if he knew we were sitting here weeping like this. We were ‘his girls’ and he wanted us to be happy.”

“I know, the last time we had lunch together he was worried about me.”

“We both were, Toby too.” Karen patted Sarah’s hand where the younger girl had a death grip on the princess costume in her lap. “Why don’t you come with us to California? There’s plenty of room.”

“I can’t, I’ve got to stay here.” Sarah wasn’t sure why it was so important to her to stay behind, but it was.

“You know you’ll always be welcome.” Karen stood to leave, and then thought better of it. There was one more thing she had to say and since Toby was out of the house this was the time to do it. “I’ve never thanked you for all you did for Toby.”

“What do you mean?” Sarah’s stomach plummeted with fear and doubt.

“Even when things were the worst between us, you loved Toby, for that I’ll always love you.”

“I…I…Of course I loved him. He’s my brother.” Sarah burst into tears. “But it was more than that. Even when I thought I hated you, I couldn’t stop myself from loving him. He was this tiny creature who made me feel needed, something that I hadn’t felt since my mom left.” She rocked back and forth crying at the memory of how lonely she’d been.

“Oh Sarah, honey, I’m so sorry I wasn’t more help to you.” Karen knelt and put her stepdaughter’s head on her shoulder.

“It’s not your fault, I wouldn’t have let you.” Sarah pulled back and tried to give the older woman a reassuring smile, but all she could do was cry. “I may have loved him, but there were times I thought he was a real pain, and I’d get mad at him for no reason.” She shrugged her shoulders and took a deep breath to stop the tears. “I had this awful dream when he was about 18 months old. I dreamt I wished the Goblins would come and take him away, but it was their king who came and got him. In order to win him back I had to fight my way through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, across a huge maze, to the Castle beyond the Goblin City.” Her voice fell unconsciously into the sing-song pattern she always used when saying the lines from her Labyrinth book.

Karen shook her head at Sarah’s wild imagination, as she patted the younger woman’s shoulder. “It’s all right, it was only a dream and you did get him back.”

“It was so weird.” The younger woman shook her head at how real the reoccurring nightmare seemed, even nine years later. “At the very end, I had to make a choice: Toby or the man of my dreams. I couldn’t have them both. I chose Toby.” Her eyes filled at the memory and she hid her face in her hands.

“It was just a dream, sweetie.” The older woman tried to comfort the younger one. “And if Toby was only 18 months old, you couldn’t have been much more than 15. Of course you would’ve chosen your brother over…this Goblin King.”

“I know. It’s taken me years to figure that out.” Sarah tried to pull herself together. “At first I thought I hated the King, but it wasn’t hate. It was fear. Fear because I was too young to understand what he was offering me. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. Besides, I couldn’t have let him turn Toby into a Goblin, so it was all doomed from the beginning.” She shrugged and sighed.

“A Goblin? My goodness, that sounds like one heck of a mixed-up dream.” Her stepmother patted her hand. “But it also sounds as if you were beginning to discover there was more to life than teddy bears and faery princesses. The girl I remember you to be at 15 would have been very attracted to a Goblin King.”

“I was,” Sarah dried her face and was finally able to breathe normally. “But he was only a dream.”

“Now all you have to do is wait, until he comes along in the flesh.” Karen smiled, always the romantic, always wanting for her stepdaughter what she’d found with Robert.

“Yeah right, more likely he’ll be an accountant from Connecticut.” She sighed.

“Don’t knock accountants from Connecticut. For some of us they’re a perfect dream man!” Karen disappeared down the steps shaking her head. Sarah may have given up acting in favor of a career as an illustrator, but the young woman still had a flair for the dramatic.
…………………….


Heart don’t fail me now
Courage don’t desert me
Don’t turn back now that we’re here
People always say
Life is full of choices
No one ever mentions fear
Or how the road can seem so long
How the world can seem so vast
Courage see me through
Heart I’m trusting you
On this journey to the past
~Journey To The Past ~ Aaliyah~

After dinner Karen and Sarah sat in the living room and watched 10-year-old Toby perform card tricks. When the show was over, Karen went upstairs to quickly change her clothes. Toby belonged to the swim team at the YMCA. His teammates and their parents were taking Karen and Toby out for a farewell party of ice cream and video games.

“Sarah, I’ve got a special trick that’s just for you.” He waited until his mom was out of sight, then moved behind the table that he’d covered with a black cloth and reached for some things he’d hidden there.

“If it’s just for me, then I know it’s going to be great.” Sarah smiled as Toby turned his back in preparation.

She froze in her chair when Toby turned and stepped from behind the table wearing a long black cape. His hands were fisted on his hips, he held his chin high, and strutted across the room in a perfect imitation of the Goblin King. When he stopped two feet from her chair, his right hand dipped into the cape and came up with a crystal.

Toby grinned, he had Sarah’s complete attention as he moved his hands this way and that. The small crystal that was just the right size for him slid easily from one hand to the other. Over the top of his right hand and back to the left; he only wished he was good enough to have done it wearing gloves.

“Toby--” Sarah gasped and felt 15 again.

“It’s a crystal, nothing more.” Toby’s little boy voice may have been saying the words, but Sarah heard a very different one whispering in her ears. “But if you turn it this way,” the young boy flicked his wrist and the crystal slid over the back of his hand and fingers to land in his palm. With another flick of the wrist, he changed hands and did it all over again. “It will show you your dreams.”

“So what do you think of Toby’s special trick?” Karen was standing in the doorway with a light blue pashmina thrown casually around her shoulders and holding her son’s coat.

“It’s…it’s…amazing…” Sarah’s voice squeaked. “You’ve left me speechless.” Her stomach was tightening as she tried to applaud and give her brother the encouragement he deserved. “I think I need some air, I’m going to pass on the party tonight.” She smiled weakly and stood on legs she wasn’t sure would hold her.

“Wait Sarah, this is for you.” Toby tossed the crystal to his sister. “It’s your dreams, remember.”

Sarah caught the crystal, but dropped it as if it were on fire as he mentioned her dreams. Toby reached for the sphere as it rolled on the carpet and placed it in her numb hands. “Don’t worry. I got three more of them upstairs. That one’s for you. It’s special. It’ll make you happy, you’ll see.” He hugged her tightly around the waist before turning and dashing after his mom to the garage, calling back over his shoulder, “love you, sis.”

Sarah was still clutching the crystal when she ran from the house. She took the short-cut through the neighbor’s yard and sprinted to the park. “Jareth….Jareth…”she began shouting as soon as the foot bridge was in sight. “Jareth, where are you?”

It was dark and a misty rain made Sarah shiver. She hadn’t bothered with a jacket hoping that her long sleeved t-shirt, cashmere knit warm-up pants and Ugg Boots would keep her warm. She was going to find that Goblin King and settle this once and for all. He couldn’t come back into her life nine years later and try and trick her into trading Toby away. “Jareth, you cowardly…” A dark shape moved out from beneath the trees ten feet away. “You cowardly…” The words caught in Sarah’s throat as he stepped out from the shadows in all his Kingly splendor.

“Oh my God, you’re real,” She gasped and had to fight to keep from losing her footing as a wave of dizziness made spots dance before her eyes.

“We’ve been through this before, but at the time I attributed it to your fever.” He gave her a devilish smile and stepped closer.

“No, it can’t be,” she shook her head to clear it and stepped back.

“Oh, but it is,” the corners of Jareth’s mouth twitched as he put one hand on his hip and raised the other with a flourish that made Sarah think of windy nights, white owls and French doors that flew open all on their own.

“Wait, wait,” she put her hands up in front of her as if to ward him off, but he just kept on coming, until her palms were pressed against a well-muscled chest. “Now wait just one damn minute. I won! What are you doing here?”

“You called, I came.” He gripped her by the shoulders and pulled her closer. “I know you’re stubborn, but is it really worth wet feet?”

Sarah looked down in surprise as the water of the lake lapped an inch away from the heels of her Uggs. A shiver ran through her body when she realized the only part of her that was warm was where Jareth’s hands touched her. The heavy mist that had filled the air when she ran from the house had turned into a steady drizzle that dampened her hair and clothes. Somehow, the Goblin King appeared dry and untouched by the weather.

“You’re freezing,” he slipped out of his cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. “You and I have something that needs to be discussed.”

“No, there’s nothing to talk about.” She tried to pull free of the long black cape, but it clung to her shoulders and swirled around her body. “You can’t have Toby, end of discussion. Now take this thing back.” She fought the soft black material she was wrapped in, but instead of getting free of it, it hugged her all the tighter.

“I didn’t come here for Toby. If I had, he’d have been mine a long time ago.” Jareth reached out and stilled the moving cape until it hung obediently from her shoulders.

“Then what is this thing all about?” She held out the crystal that Toby had given her. “What was all that you taught my brother? ‘It’s a crystal, nothing more. But if you turn it this way it’ll show you your dreams’.” She unconsciously mimicked Jareth’s speech pattern and voice. “I wasn’t open to trading him for a hunk of glass 9 years ago, I don’t know why you think I’d be willing to do it now.” Jareth’s cape was keeping her warm, but she couldn’t stop shaking. Sarah wasn’t sure if it was anger, fear, or a combination of both.

Jareth was losing patience with the stubborn human. She may have grown up into a beautiful woman, but she was as difficult as ever. “I gave Toby that crystal to get your attention. We need to talk and I am unable to come to you in human form unless you call me. The crystal did its job. You called.” Jareth touched the sphere and it disintegrated. The sparkling particles which floated in the air sang as they were carried away by the wind.

“We have nothing to talk about.”

“Oh, don’t we?” His brows rose and he stepped so close Sarah could feel the magic radiating off of him in waves. “How have the last nine years been for you, Sarah? Have they been fun years? Do you feel fulfilled? And the dreams, Sarah, what about the dreams, have you enjoyed them?” His voice cracked, filled with emotions he was barely able to keep in check.

“That was your doing?” A piece of Sarah’s heart broke at the thought Jareth would have tormented her all that time for revenge. “Have you really hated me that much?”

“Hate you, my dear?” Jareth shook his head and smiled sadly as he tucked a dark strand of hair behind her ear. “I’ve never hated you. But we do need to talk somewhere where we won’t be disturbed.”

“All right,” Sarah agreed with a toss of her head. All the while telling herself that the only reason she was doing this was to get him to tell her the truth about the last 9 years. It had nothing to do with the wonder of seeing him again or the way his slightest touch made her feel whole and complete. “There’s no one at home. We’ve got a few hours until my brother and stepmother will be back. We can talk there.”

“Hold on to my shoulders,” he instructed as he slipped his hands beneath the cape she was wearing and gently gripped her waist. He felt her trembling increase at his touch and it gave him hope that this wasn’t all in vain.

As Sarah felt the world begin to spin around her, she heard Jareth whisper, “you’ll find it easier if you close your eyes.” His right hand cupped the back of her head and gently pulled her face against his chest.

Her grip tightened on his shoulders as she felt wind rushing in her ears, then all was quiet and she cautiously looked up. In the amount of time it had taken her to breathe in and out three times, he had transported them to her living room. Her mind ground to a halt. She was lost somewhere in his magnificent odd eyes, as his scent filled her nostrils and it triggered an old memory. “Moonbeams and magic,” she murmured.

“Yes, that’s right. You said that about me once.” He smiled in delight that she was able to recognize a fragrance unknown to humans. It was one of the more tangible pieces of evidence that Sarah was meant to be his. “Do you remember what else you said?” His whispered words were accompanied by a gloved finger that trailed gently down her cheek.

His seductive voice caressed her ears and her words of three years ago filled her mind. “I said…I said…” Her hand reached for his face, needing to feel if his skin was as soft as she remembered it. “I said you were more beautiful than I remembered,” each word dropped from her lips accompanied by a breathy sound that shook them both.

Sarah gasped and blinked as what she said finally penetrated her fogged brain. “No! That wasn’t real,” she shook her head in denial. “I had strep throat and was running a high temperature. I only dreamt you.” Excuses tumbled out as fast as she could think of them and filled the space that separated them.

“As you think you’re only dreaming me now?” He shrugged and turned toward the fireplace. With a flick of his wrist he produced a roaring fire and two cushions in front of the hearth. “As you’ve been able to convince yourself that your adventure through my Labyrinth was only a dream? Come, come, Sarah, I expected more grit from you than that. After all, you’re the girl who defeated the great and mighty Goblin King, to win back her brother.”

“I’m not the same girl I was.” She sighed and stepped away from him. He was attempting to goad her into something, but she refused to take the bait.

“That’s very apparent.” His eyes slowly swept her body then came to rest on her face, “very apparent, indeed.”

“Don’t do that to me!” Sarah cried out, her hands clenched at her sides in anger. “You were always doing that to me before and it wasn’t fair!”

Jareth threw back his head and laughed. “Now that’s more like it. I was beginning to think my lionhearted Sarah was lost somewhere along the way.”

“I’m not your Sarah, and I never will be!” It was a lie but she justified it by telling herself that it was no different than the one she’d told him 9 years ago.

“Then how would you explain this?” He pulled a sheet of drawing paper out of thin air and handed it to her.

“Oh…” All the fight went out of her and she slipped to the floor in front of the fireplace. Her fingers shook as she looked at one of her drawings that had come up missing a few months ago. It was of the white barn owl that lived on her property, but the eyes were ones she only saw in her dreams. She’d drawn the bird with one blue eye and one brown. “I’d wondered where this had gotten to. Are you him? Has that been you all along?” It finally made sense why she’d felt a compulsion to protect the white bird that lived in the trees around her home.

“No, but he was gracious enough not make a fuss when I intruded on his hunting grounds. For that he will always be welcome in the Underground. When he is too old to hunt for himself he may come and live in the safety of the Labyrinth for all time.” The King declared, his words a decree that were not taken nor given lightly.

“Thank you,” Sarah murmured. It was odd to see the Goblin King express tenderness.

Jareth sat on the floor facing Sarah in the darkened living room. A pillow between his back and the side of the couch, booted feet crossed at the ankles, and legs thrust out in front of him to rest on the floor beside her shorter ones. He carefully watched the woman in the firelight as he told her the history of the Curse and all that it meant to his family and to her. It took all his willpower not to reach out and caress the legs so close to his. The soft material they were covered by showed her well-toned muscles and gentle curves.

“Wait, back up…” Sarah’s head was spinning at the tale she was told. She wanted to trust him, but coupled with the fear he’d given her as a young teen and the story he had just told her, it was almost impossible. “So you’re telling me we’re soulmates or something like that? You’re saying that the whole Labyrinth thing, all those hours of torture and worry about Toby were nothing but a ruse?

“Not a ruse, a test of sorts. The first step to breaking the Curse that was set upon my family and the women we would love, three generations ago.”

“A test! You would’ve turned my brother into a Goblin because of a test?” Sarah leapt to her feet as anger boiled up in her.

“Oh, Great Oberon’s Eyelashes, no,” he rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Where did you ever get a nonsensical idea like that?” He stood and watched her pace. “Goblins breed fast enough as it is. Why in the worlds would I want to add to their population?”

“But it said…it said…in the book I’ve got, it said the King turns the child into a Goblin. It never even mentioned 13 hours in your maze! How was I supposed to know about that?” She planted her hands on her hips daring him to refute her evidence.

“That book of yours is a product of the Curse, don’t you understand?” His voice rumbled as he flicked his wrist. A moment later Sarah’s tattered copy of the Labyrinth was lying in his outstretched palm.

“No, no I don’t.” She began to tremble at the implications. “That would mean that you…that you and I…well that…”

“So far, the only thing this book has gotten right is that the Goblin King loved the girl,” the last words were spoken so softly they were a breeze that tickled past Sarah’s ear and ran up her spine. Jareth cleared his throat and went on. “Unfortunately, you made your feelings for me quite clear, 9 years ago.”

She could hardly catch her breath at what she heard. Her eyes filled with tears and she knew she couldn’t hide the truth from him any longer. “I lied,” she whispered.

“You what?” Jareth had been expecting it. On some level he’d always known. That explained why the magic had hung in the air above their heads in the Escher Room, unsure if it should send her home or keep her in the Labyrinth. This was the piece to the puzzle he’d been missing all these years. Her words had said one thing, while her heart had said another. “Do you realize what this could have meant if things had happened differently, if I hadn’t been able to get back to you again?” Angry at himself for meddling in the magic, he lashed out at Sarah. “We’re not just talking about your life and mine, but the welfare of an entire Kingdom hangs in the balance.”

“Well, what did you expect me to do?” Her anger boiled over and she exploded towards him, wanting to wipe the haughty expression off his face. “No matter who was to blame, I thought you were going to keep my brother and turn him into a Goblin.”

“By the time I offered myself to you, Toby was safe asleep in his own bed.” He stared her down, his voice as hard as ice.

“How was I supposed to know that?” It was difficult to stay angry with him when all she wanted to do was listen to his beautiful voice telling her over and over again that he loved her. “Besides the book doesn’t say a word about what the girl feels.” It was a lame excuse, but she hoped he’d stop questioning her.

“Tell me, Sarah,” his insistent words were punctuated by his boot heels clicking on the stone hearth, as he moved towards her with feline grace, backing her between the mantle and the wall. “What was it you felt all those years ago, that you lied about?”

“Stop that!” She raised a fist to hit him on the shoulder, but was too caught up in her own emotions to do anything but reach out for him. Her eyes filled with tears and she began to tremble. In an attempt to hide it from the King, she buried her face in her hands and stood rocking back and forth on unsteady legs. “Even if I’d known that Toby was safe…I couldn’t…I couldn’t…have stayed no matter what I felt…I just couldn’t…”

“Oh, my poor Sarah,” his temper melted away as he wrapped his arms around her and buried her face against his neck. “I keep tearing you apart when I only want you to be happy. The Curse must be making a last attempt to destroy us.”

“But you don’t understand.” She pulled free and stepped away from him and the corner he’d backed her into. Her hands were tightly wrapped around her body to keep them from shaking. As much as she craved the comfort he offered, she was unable to take it until she’d told him the whole truth. “I couldn’t have stayed with you, no matter what,” she whispered. “You terrified me.”

Jareth blinked in surprise. “I never did anything to hurt you and never would.”

“I know. It was something I had always known. Then when you threw that snake at me, and it turned into a scarf, it only confirmed what I’d believed all along: that no matter how powerful you were, you would never harm me. You might startle and tease me to make things difficult, but you weren’t as cruel as you pretended.”

“Then why were you so frightened?” He reached out and picked up his long black and midnight blue cape that she’d discarded earlier and began to wrap it around her trembling body in hope of giving her comfort that she wouldn’t accept directly from him.

“No, that’s an unfair advantage,” Sarah pulled back and wouldn’t take what he offered.

“Ahh yes, moonbeams and magic,” he grinned knowingly at her as he tossed the cape to the couch. He was very aware of how his scent affected her. “You were saying?”

Sarah bit her lip and felt herself blush. “If I’d wished Toby away a few months earlier, I’d have been too young to…to…understand what happened in the Ballroom and if I’d been a bit older…well things might have turned out differently.”

“What exactly are you talking about?” The second she mentioned the Ballroom, Jareth was on guard.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Sarah’s chin reared in anger that he was making her say it. “Are you really going to make me say the words?”

“I think that might be appropriate,” he said in a low voice, unable to take his eyes off her face.

“When you danced with me, you looked at me…for one moment…the look on your face…I could see…I could see…And all those people with everything on display…their every movement showed their corrupt longings. Being in their midst made me feel dirty. All I wanted to do was hold on tightly to you because I felt safe when your arms were around me…except then I remembered how you had looked at me…and…and I didn’t feel safe anymore…your eyes had been like theirs only worse, because it had been personal. You’d looked at me…”

“How did I look at you?” Jareth had always been so sure that in the Ballroom Dream he was the only one who saw others as they appeared on the inside, instead of how they showed themselves to the worlds they inhabited. He must have let himself become complacent when he had been with Sarah. It had been a careless mistake that might yet cost him dearly.

“I didn’t know what I was sensing then and refused to recognize it for a long time, but it was desire,” Sarah whispered.

Jareth’s chin dropped to his chest and he had to fight for words. “I’m so sorry, my dear.” He reached for her face with hands that trembled. “I never meant for you to see it, and I’ve tried for 9 years to deny that part of me, which could feel such a thing for a young human girl. I wanted you with me. Damn the Curse,” he roared in frustration and anger. “Damn my great-great-grandfather who was too short-sighted to see what was right. Damn Caliban for not taking responsibility for his own fate! And damn that book of yours,” he pointed to where he’d tossed it on the couch moments earlier. The magic that flew from his fingers transported the offending item out of sight. “Damn it for bringing you to me when you were so innocent!” The windows of the house shook and the weather was whipped into a frenzy for miles around.

“It wasn’t the book, you know,” Sarah whispered into the storm that shook around her. “I’ve checked countless times, and the words it contains aren’t the correct ones.”

“I know,” he sighed and turned away from her, still ashamed of his feelings. “Toby showed me the book the night of your father’s funeral.”

“You were there then, too?” She had a distant memory of opening the window to let him in and of strong, sure arms that had held her through the night. She moved until she was facing Jareth and held him by the shoulders. “And when my mother died, it was really you?”

“Yes, you called to me each time.”

“And each time you came and took away my distress.” Sarah took a deep breath and with shaking fingers caressed his face. “You have nothing to be ashamed of, Jareth, King of the Goblins.” Tears filled her eyes as she realized the tender care he’d given her. “You’ve shown me nothing but loving kindness in the years I’ve tried to convince myself that you never existed.” She stood on tiptoes and tenderly kissed his lips. “You are a beautiful man on the outside, but you’re even more so on the inside.”

Jareth laughed with joy at her words. “Sarah, if you believe that, then may you always be so deceived!”

“What do we do next?”

“Well, first we take care of these,” Jareth removed one glove and carefully wiped away Sarah’s tears then rolled them into crystals. With a nod of his head the black velvet bag appeared. “Open that for me, please?”

“What is it?” She opened the drawstring and watched in amazement as a miniature crystal sphere rolled from Jareth’s hand into the open bag. Then he quickly replaced the glove he’d removed.

“It is a source of great power that must be guarded at all cost.” He held the bag open and carefully slid the contents onto his palm. “In here are all the tears that all the Goblin Kings and Queens have ever shed. I’ve added yours to them for safe-keeping. That one in the middle, the one with the deep blue center, that’s the one that fell from my great-grandfather Morgan’s eyes when he realized that his father Jared, the original Goblin King, had been wrong about Caliban’s Curse. It truly did exist. Those two lighter pink ones came from my mother, Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins. They were placed in this sack a long time ago by my father. I’ve no idea what caused them. The livid red one next to the pink ones belonged to my father Cormac. It fell when his human woman died, alone and loved by no one, except a Fae King who lived worlds away. And this one, that’s swirled with blue and brown, is mine, from the night you broke the Escher room. The rest are yours from over the years.”

“Those are all mine?” She looked in wonder at 6 tiny globes that danced with firelight.

“Yes,” he smiled. “Humans cry more easily so there are more of them, and yours sparkle with passion because they fell from your eyes before you have experienced it.”

“But the dreams,” she whispered, not realizing she’s spoken aloud. Too often in the last months she’d burned with desire that was like nothing she’d ever known.

“The dreams are false magic. If you doubt me, look closely at that tear.” He pointed to the one he’d just added to the pile. “It burns as brightly as the rest, for you are just as innocent as when we first met.”

“If what I feel in the nightmares is untrue, how can you be so sure that I didn’t leave my passion behind long ago?” Sarah bit her lip in worry. The only part of the dreams she’d welcomed had been how alive she’d felt. Over the years she had come to think she might be frigid. With the advent of the dreams she’d hoped that was changing.

“Aaahh, I see. You question your abilities,” Jareth smiled and tilted her chin upward so she met his gaze. “Do so if you like, but have no doubts about mine.”

His whispered words sent a shaft of pure fire through Sarah that made her rock back on her heels. “I…ah…” She cleared her throat and tried again to speak. “I just don’t want you to be disappointed.” Her chin rose at a defiant angle and she met his eyes with determination.

“In you, never,” he took a moment to slide the precious crystals back in their sack, and then with a flick of his wrist it disappeared. “Never,” he murmured as he reached for her and pulled her into his arms. When his mouth touched hers this time there was nothing tentative about it. He was demanding as he held her head in place so he could ravish her lips.

With a moan that echoed from her soul, Sarah ran her hands up his neck and into his hair. Her lips parted under his and she tasted him as his tongue thrust deep then curled and danced with hers. Her hands moved erratically through his hair and over his shoulders, plucking at the soft material of his shirt.

She shivered as she felt Jareth’s hand move beneath the hem of her long-sleeved t-shirt and run up the side of her body to cup her right breast. Her body moved closer seeking hands that she had only felt in her dreams.

Gasping, they pulled apart to gulp some much needed air. “You still have doubts, my Sarah?” He hissed against her ear. Then trailed hot kisses down her neck and flicked his thumb across the lace that covered her nipple. All the while he kept her body pressed tightly to his.

She was swept up in a whirlwind of sensations and could do nothing but shake her head and hold onto him for dear life. She knew if he wasn’t supporting her weight she’d fall in a heap at his feet.

“Good, then we need to go back,” he tilted her face upward until he could see her eyes and lazily ran his gloved fingers over her cheek. He needed to be sure she understood what she would be giving up if she went with him. That he would tell her was one more reason he was sure he loved her. If it had been only desire, he could have taken her on the floor in front of the fire and gone on his way, it might have been enough to satisfy the Curse. By giving her a choice, he might lose everything.

“Back,” she blinked at him. “That’s the way forward.”

“So I’ve heard tell,” he blinked in surprise. It wasn’t what he’d expected to hear from her.

“The Wiseman told me that 9 years ago.” She nodded as another memory surfaced. “Then there was that Blue Worm in the bottle of Tequila.”

“So you’re the one who gave one of my worms alcohol?” Jareth shook his head and reluctantly pulled his hand out from under her shirt, but kept her pressed close to him. “You realize that poor thing was hung over for weeks. It took serious arbitration on my part to keep his ‘Missus’ from throwing him out.”

“No, no, that wasn’t me.” Sarah found it hard to keep from laughing at the serious look on his face. “It was a dream and he was in the bottle when I got there.”

“Just as I suppose you’re not the same girl who knocked down Didymus’s bridge, wrecked Agnes’s trash heap, and did serious damage to my Ballroom. The Goblin City, well, we’ll leave that for another time.” Jareth’s mouth twitched as he helped her straighten her clothes.

“What can I say? I was being terrorized by a Goblin King.” Sarah shrugged.

“I never meant to frighten you like that.” Suddenly he had nothing to laugh about. “I wouldn’t have touched you until you were old enough. I wouldn’t have even kept you within easy reach.” He sighed because he knew he was telling the truth and it would have been difficult, but he would have done it. “You would have stayed with my mother until you were at least 20. That is the age when Fae woman are old enough to marry or take a lover, but I would have given you all the time you needed.”

“Jareth, those three nights when you came from your world to stay with me, you were in human form, not owl, right?” As he nodded she went on. “Was there anything in this Curse, or in your magic, that would have prevented you from seducing me on any of those occasions?”

“No,” he whispered.

“But you didn’t, just like you didn’t press your advantage when I was in the Underground. I have enough memory of those times to know that you could have if you’d tried. I love you, Jareth,” she whispered. “You’ve always been there for me, no matter what. Even long before I was pulled into the Labyrinth I think I loved you. So if you really do love me too, then what the heck do we have to do to get rid of this damn Curse and get on with our lives?” Sarah punctuated her question with a stomp of her foot that she hoped showed she meant business.

“We need to go back to the Underground.” He sighed and gripped her shoulders. “But you need to understand what that entails for you.”

“I figure it’s something pretty drastic if it’s going to break the Curse. According to what you told me, I’m supposed to give up everything for that to happen.” Sarah bit her lip and searched for courage to ask her last question. “Do I have to die, Jareth?”

“If I thought for a moment that any harm would come to you, I would lock every portal between our worlds and seal you safely in the Aboveground.” He held her close at the thought of losing her. “You’ve completed the Labyrinth, I love you and you love me. I don’t know what else the Curse could need to be satisfied as long as you come to live in the Underground forever.”

“That means I can never come back here, even for a visit?”

“No you can’t.” He rubbed her arms as he told her the truth. “You’ve been to the Underground once already, if you return, you must stay there. As long as you’re surrounded by the magic that pervades it, you’ll age at a very slow rate. Humans who never leave the Underground live as long as Fae. But if you return to the Aboveworld for even a moment, you’ll experience unnatural aging and die in a matter of days.”

“That means Toby can’t ever come and visit me.” She blinked quickly to prevent tears from filling her eyes.

“If he came he would be unable to leave, either. I’m sorry Sarah, but it is the way the magic works. It isn’t of my doing.”

“Well I guess you can say that means I’d be giving up everything, so the Curse should be satisfied.” She shrugged, either way she was trapped. If she stayed Aboveground she’d become a shadow of a person without Jareth. If she went with him, she’d never see what was left of her family again. “I guess I should be glad that I’m even given a choice. If you still followed Oberon’s law, I’d be barred from joining you.”

“With the Curse, he was given no choice. He had to accept humans, but in his lifetime the only ones who were allowed past the portal were the ones who could possibly break the spell Caliban had cast.”

“That’s why you take wished away children?” It was something Sarah had to ask before she committed herself to a life with the Goblin King.

“That’s how it started, but there’s more to it than that.” Jareth took her hand and led her back to the pillows in front of the fireplace. He pulled her down onto his lap and held her tightly to him. “The Fae live a very long time. My mother is over 1000 years old. The great creator limited the number of children a Fae woman could have.” He kissed the top of Sarah’s head and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “Given our impulsiveness, and our preference for pleasure, we could have overpopulated the worlds long ago, if it were not so. It is the unusual family that has more than one child and many have none. It is that way with all creatures of magic, with the exception of Goblins.”

“So you take human children to fill up the empty spaces?” Sarah looked stricken. It wasn’t something she thought she could live with. “Toby was almost one of those children.” She turned her head and glared at Jareth when she thought how close she’d come to losing her brother.

“I never would have kept your brother.” He caressed her chin and took a deep breath to tell her all of it. “Because of the Curse, every human who wishes away a child is offered the choice of 13 hours in the Labyrinth to win the child back. In my time as king you are the only one who accepted.”

“But…”

“Do not interrupt.” It was a command and Sarah knew it. Part of her wanted to bristle against it, but this was one area of Jareth’s life that she didn’t understand or agree with. If there was any chance of happiness for either of them she needed to hear him out. “The children who are wished away are usually unwanted; some are damaged, or sick. Our magic can help them and they never retain a memory of their former lives. How could I not answer a call to help one of those children?”

“There must have been girls before me who were silly enough to call on you to take their baby brother or sister? What did you do with them?”

“Those children never have the right words. They may wish it all they like, but I never hear their call.” Jareth ran his nose through her hair enjoying its sweet fragrance.

“Then how did you hear mine?” Sarah was confused and it made her choice all the more difficult. “My book didn’t have the correct words, and I really didn’t want Toby taken, I was just having a tantrum.”

“Yes, you were, my love,” his laughter rumbled through his chest. “I’ve wondered how that was possible ever since I read your book last April. There are Goblins on watch at all times, but they don’t know the right words to wish away an unwanted child. When the phrase is spoken, it calls to them, but they are unable to retain the memory of what was said. The only thing we’ve been able to come up with is that the Curse must have given one of those Goblins the correct words and he gave them to you.”

“That’s it,” Sarah gasped. “I remember now. I tried to wish Toby away, using the words in my book, but nothing happened. Then as I was leaving the room, something whispered in my head, and…I repeated it.”

He stood and pulled her to her feet beside him. “The choice is yours, Sarah.” He pulled his flowing cape around his shoulders and offered her his hand. “But you need to say the words.”

“There never was a choice, Jareth.” She smiled and placed her hand in his, “because you’ve always had power over me.”

“And you over me,” he nodded his head and swept the folds of his cape around them. His arms held her snugly against him. “Close your eyes, my sweet, we’re going home.”

Sarah leaned her face against his shoulder, and was surrounded by the scent of moonbeams and magic as Jareth once again turned the world upside down for her.
………………..


All the fear has left me now
I’m not frightened anymore
It’s my heart that pounds beneath my flesh
It’s my mouth that pushes out this breath
~Fumbling Toward Ecstasy~ Sarah McLaughlin

Seconds later the world stopped spinning and Sarah was once again aware of a surface beneath her feet. “Goodness, I think I could get used to traveling like that.”

“It does make things easier, though there is a lot to be said for riding high in the air, under a full moon.” Jareth pulled his cape from around them and dropped it over the arm of the sofa.

“Oh my, what beautiful rooms,” Sarah caught her breath as she looked around. The ceilings were very high. Much of one wall was taken up by a huge fireplace. A comfortable looking sofa faced the hearth. Two walls had large windows looking out over the Labyrinth for as far as the eye could see. Between one set of windows there was a desk that faced out into the room. Instead of a fourth wall, there were large French doors that were thrown open to reveal a huge high bed with a blue comforter so dark it was almost black and creamy white silk sheets.

“I’m glad you like them. They’re mine.” Jareth looked at Sarah and walked slowly toward her.

“I thought as much,” She whispered unable to control her voice.

“They’re yours now, too.” He took her hand and kissed her knuckles. “A Goblin King always sleeps beside his Queen.”

“You’re asking me to marry you?”

“Of course, did you think this was simple seduction?” His brows rose and the sides of his mouth quivered in an almost smile. “Ahhh I see, you still see me as the villain of your youth.” He grinned at her confusion. “It’s tempting, very tempting, but I think we should save it for some other night. The Wicked Goblin King verses the Innocent Young Maiden is not a game for your first time.”

“Jareth,” she whispered, suddenly shy.

He gripped her hands, his eyes dancing with fire that made them look almost identical. “Sarah Williams, destroyer of bridges, junkyards, and magic rooms will you do me, Jareth, King of the Goblins, the honor of becoming my wife?”

She smiled up at him and reached for his hands. With fingers that shook Sarah began pealing off Jareth’s gloves, one at a time. “Jareth, King of the Goblins,” she kissed his right palm and then his left. “Ruler of the Labyrinth, owl of my dreams and manipulator of the magic crystals, I will gladly be your wife.”

He pulled her to him and kissed her as his bare hands moved over her back and under her t-shirt. He was finally able to feel her skin against his and it filled him with joy.

“Jareth,” Sarah purred as sensations rocked her to the core. “Now I understand why you wear gloves.” She kissed his neck while her skin vibrated under his touch.

“What is it you feel?” He slipped her shirt over her head and tossed it on top of his cape.

“I feel everything.” She could hardly breathe. “There’s passion and longing, and…love. Is that coming from you?”

He only nodded as he pushed her hair aside and kissed his way down her neck. His nimble fingers unhooked her bra and slipped it off her shoulders. Jareth could have had them both naked with her flat on her back and his body pressing hers into the bed, with a flick of the wrist, but she deserved more from him, especially for her first time.

Sarah fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, and wasn’t making much progress. The sensations of pleasure his touch was creating, made her fingers unable to behave as she wanted them to. She hated that she was being clumsy when all she wanted was to be seductive. “Would you help me out here?” Her voice was breathy in his ear and her face flushed.

“I remember telling you once that I’d be your slave, so your wish is my command.” With a nod of his head, his buttons parted at her slightest touch. Almost of its own accord, his shirt slid off his shoulders and down his arms.

“Thank you,” she shyly nuzzled his bare chest. “I didn’t want to rip anything.”

One of his hands covered hers, holding them warm against his heart and the other lifted her chin so he could look her in the eyes. “That can be stimulating as well, my love.” He smiled as wild desire looked back at him from deep green pools. “But again it is something that is best saved for another night.”

Words stuck in Sarah’s throat and she began to tremble. She would have lost her balance if he hadn’t picked her up and carried her to his bed. “I see that idea has appeal to you as well.” The mighty Goblin King grinned at his Queen-to-be, and laid her before him on the dark comforter.

“Jareth,” she reached for him as he stood over her with one knee resting on the bed next to her hip. She wanted him beside her or on top of her, anywhere but that far away. “Come closer, much closer, I’ve waited too long for this. I don’t want to wait any longer.”

From his position above her, he ran his bare right hand from her waist to her breast and felt her gasp as she arched into his touch. “You are so beautiful, Sarah,” his words were heavy with desire. All he could see was the woman beneath his hands and she was all he’d ever wanted. Suddenly it became imperative that her pleasure came first. She was innocent, a far cry from the women of his past. He swore to himself that he’d be gentle with her, no matter how much he needed her.

Sarah moaned as he wrapped his left arm around her arching body to pull her closer to him. When his mouth covered her left nipple and began gently teasing it, she thought she would die from the pleasure. “Oh my God,” her ragged whisper drove him to suck harder. His own passion strained at the bonds to be set free, but this was Sarah’s moment and he would give her all she deserved.

When Jareth felt her hips begin to buck he looked up and smiled. There was a slight sheen of sweat on her brow and she was gasping for air. He’d pictured her like this for longer than he cared to admit to himself. “My beautiful Sarah,” he murmured. His right hand slid beneath the soft wool of her warm-up pants until his fingers encountered silky lace beneath. He was caught between the desire to watch her face as he sent her over the edge, and the need to taste her hardened nipple as she was blown apart with passion for the first time. In the end he decided to do both. As his hand snuck under the lace below, his mouth covered the rosy peak he’d been sucking, but his eyes never left her face.

Sarah screamed out in need as she felt his probing fingers in her wet heat. When he gently filled her with one finger she thought she was going to die. When his thumb found her most sensitive spot, she thought she was going to shatter. But she’d been there before and had only known disappointment. In frustration she cried out the words she’d kept tightly hidden inside of her, the ones she’d always known would set her free. “Please help me, Jareth, don’t leave me like this. Help me!”

“Easy, my love, I don’t want to hurt you,” his words were harsh with restrained desire. He’d never known he could gain so much pleasure from giving to another.

“You won’t,” she gasped. Not even in her wildest nightmare had her need been so great. “Being empty and alone is what hurts, not you, never you!” Her hips rocked frantically, urging him to bring an end to the wild feelings that swarmed through her.

With a last look at the desperation on her face his sharp teeth grazed her super-sensitized nipple, at the same time his fingers drove deep into her, and the world shattered around her. She exploded into a million pieces of blinding light, only to reform again as she whimpered out his name in joy.

Her muscles were still rippling against his fingers when they heard the rumbling begin. It started as a slight buzz but grew louder and louder with each of Sarah’s inner contractions. Then the room began to shake and books fell to the floor. Sarah looked up at Jareth in terror and he rolled her to the floor with her body pinned beneath his.

The King could hardly think with desire-heated blood pounding through his veins. All he knew was that something was very wrong and he had to protect Sarah. Then as suddenly as it had begun, the world grew quiet and the ground stopped shaking.

“My God, what was that?” Sarah trembled as Jareth helped her to her feet.

“I believe it was what you would call an earthquake.” He grabbed his robe out of the air and wrapped it around Sarah’s half naked body.

“Does the Underground have them?” There was worry in Sarah’s eyes as she asked the question.

“No it does not. The land is stable. It has never been known to move.”

“Then that means, that means…Jareth, did I cause that? Was the Labyrinth reacting to what I was feeling?”

“You are jumping to conclusions, Sarah.” He gripped her shoulders and wanted to yell at her that she was wrong, but he had a sinking feeling that the Curse had not demanded all of them that it was going to.

“I must check on my Kingdom.” He nodded toward the window and the cries of panic that filled the air. In the blink of an eye, Jareth was 20 feet away, standing at one of the large windows in the sitting area of his chambers.

“What happened?” The words caught in Sarah’s throat. Even from across the sleeping area of his rooms, she could see his fingers whiten as he tightly gripped the ledge he leaned against.

“The outer wall has fallen and part of the Goblin City is on fire.”

“No,” she gasped and ran to see the damage for herself.

“I must go out there. Do you understand that?” They had come too far to lose everything now, but he had responsibilities. He always would, it was part of being a king. “I hate to leave you alone right now, but my place is out there.”

“Yes, I understand.” She tried to smile but doubt made it impossible. “I’ve always known that you were a better king than you led me to believe all those years ago.”

“Thank you, but I don’t deserve that.” He kissed her forehead. When she looked at him again, his shirt was back on, snugly fastened and tucked neatly in his breeches.

“No, Jareth, wait!” Sarah grabbed his arm before he could disappear. “It was us, me really, wasn’t it? That came from what I felt. I need to know.”

“We’ll discuss it later,” he whispered. “I have to go. It’s what I do. I am their King.”

“Then let me go with you.” She ran for her shirt, but he gripped her hands before she could pick it up. “If I am to be Queen, then I should be there too.”

“It’s too dangerous, Sarah. Please, stay here. I’ve got a job to do, they need my magic to rectify things, but I can’t do it if I have to worry about you. Give me your word that you won’t follow me into the City. I’ll come back to you, I promise.”

“Please, Jareth, don’t make me stay here without you.” She bit her lip to keep from crying.

“You must. Don’t force me to make that an order.” He stood tall and straight, every inch the Goblin King she remembered from nine years ago.

“All right, all right,” Sarah slumped in defeat. “I promise you, I won’t go into the Goblin City.”

“Thank you for making this as easy as possible.” He kissed her forehead and gripped her shoulders tightly not daring to pull her into his embrace. His passion for her was still running too high. All he wanted to do was forget all about his responsibilities and bury himself deep in her warmth. With a sigh and a very real fear that his deepest desires would cause ruin to his Kingdom, he tried to smile. “I love you, Sarah, and don’t ever forget that. You try and get some sleep. If I’m not back by morning, one of the servants will see to your needs.

“I love you too, but I don’t see what….”

“Hush, my love, we’ll talk about it later.” He kissed her quickly, then conjured a crystal and disappeared.

Chapter Text


Well maybe it’s all for the best
But I wish I’d never been lassoed
Maybe it’s some kind of a test
But I wish I’d never been tattooed
Or been to hell and back
Fade to black
~ Fade To Black ~ Dire Straits

Sarah stood at Jareth’s chamber window and watched in horror as the fire burned out of control. He had only been gone from her side for a matter of seconds when she saw a white barn owl fly a careful pattern over the conflagration, and then finally land in a crowd of Goblins, Elves, and Fae.

“Sleep, he wants me to try and sleep,” she muttered as she watched what was happening below. “Yeah, right! I close my eyes and dream about him and poof! More of his Kingdom goes up in smoke or tumbles into ruin in an earthquake!” Tears pricked at her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. ‘Later,’ she thought. ‘Later I’ll give myself time to think, but if I do it now, I’ll fall apart.’

With shaking fingers she slipped out of his robe and laid it neatly on his bed. It took all the effort she could muster to keep from curling up in a ball under the bedclothes and crying her heart out. At least there she’d be surrounded by his scent. Instead she quickly dressed, her fingers tangling in his black cape as she pulled her t-shirt free of it.

In a moment of weakness she hugged the cloak to her and fought to make her mind go blank. “Will he ever forgive me for this?” She gasped and buried her face in the material she held. “He’s got to understand, I’ve got to get out of here.”

Though she’d spent a good part of her life alone, she’d never felt so lonely. A few hours spent in his company, and the short while she’d spent in his bed, had given her a glimpse of something she’d never imagined. “That damn Curse meant what it said,” she whispered. “I have to give up everything, including….him.” She bit her lip to keep from saying his name, in case it brought him to her like it had before. The aching pain she felt was almost more than she could bear.

“If I don’t leave now, I never will.” She forced one foot in front of the other and fought to ignore the pain and anguish that encircled her heart. As she brushed past the small desk she stopped long enough to leave him a note. She couldn’t go and not tell him what she felt, but she had to end it and he deserved to know what she was doing.

Sarah’s breath caught in her throat as she took one last look around the lovely rooms she’d never see again. It was then she realized she was still clutching Jareth’s cape as if her life depended on it, and she couldn’t bear to put it down. She might not have him, but if she was going to go out and hunt spells from his past, she needed to feel as if he was beside her. The first time she’d seen him, he had been wearing that garment. In her mind it was as much a part of him as his odd eyes and pale hair. When she settled it around her shoulders she felt stronger, as if she were taking a part of him with her.

The corridors and stairwells of the castle were deserted. Goblins had been drawn to the fire either out of curiosity or a need to help. Sarah was glad there was no one to witness her leaving, but it would have been nice if there had been someone to point her in the right direction.

Jareth’s castle was huge and it took her twenty minutes of wrong turns and dead ends to find her way to the steps above his throne room. Finally she was in a section she recognized from last time, or so she thought. Everything was basically the same, but it was the differences that made her blink and wonder what had happened in her nine-year absence.

She stared off to her left, towards the room where she’d had her final confrontation with the Goblin King. Though the door was closed, and even the thought of the Escher Room made her shiver, she felt a compulsion to see it once more. Before her nerves gave out she ran to the door and pulled it open. What she saw made her shrink back in terror.

Where once there had been a beautifully proportioned puzzle of steps and landings leading everywhere and nowhere, now there was nothing but jagged remains of partial steps and chunks of platforms. Sarah clutched the rock wall behind her to keep her balance, because the floor ended a foot in front of her. Then there was nothing, just hanging rock, fog, and air for as far as the eye could see. It was as if the world ended once one stepped though the door behind her.

‘Had the frightened words of a 15 year-old caused all that damage?’ The thought made her lose her nerve. She turned and fled. She had to get out of the castle, or Jareth would be back and find her wandering the corridors trying to find a way out. In desperations she ran through his throne room. Here too there were changes. The pit in the middle of the room was still there, but gone were the animals and clutter. There was dignity in the huge exotic plants that sat under each window and power radiated from the large sculpture of Jareth’s crest, which was carved out of the stone wall behind where he would sit as he held court. But it was the floor in front of her that she couldn’t take her eyes off. It was polished white marble, like the one in the ballroom and like the one in her dream.

Sarah gripped his cloak tightly around her shoulders, took a deep breath, and sprinted across the cool white floor. She didn’t stop running until she was out the door and had skirted around the side of the castle. Buried deep in the shadows of the thick outer wall she moved with care until she came to a small back gate. Its guard was turned away, yelling orders to others who were scrambling towards the fire. Sarah slipped through unnoticed and made a dash for the trees that were only yards away. Though it was an entrance to the Labyrinth she didn’t recognize, there was no mistaking the great maze, because neat manicured shrubs were replaced by tangles of undergrowth and high bushes at odd angles.

She ran deeper and deeper into its interior, knowing she needed the protection the overhead growth would provide. When Jareth got back and found her missing he’d be furious. If he came after her, she needed lots of trees and ground cover if she wanted to remain unseen by his sharp owl eyes from above.

She was glad when her side began to hurt from exertion. It took her mind off the pain that made her heart feel as if it had died. There was no going back, even if he would take her back a second time. It would mean destruction to his world and she couldn’t be the one who caused that.

She’d never been in the part of the Labyrinth she was in now. It was dark and dank, but there was no stench from the Bog. She almost wished there were, because then she would have had some idea where she was. The trees were older than any she’d seen on her last visit. When their branches reached out to pull at her clothes or tried to trip her running feet, they came in contact with the King’s midnight blue and black cape and quickly pulled back.

Clouds covered the full moon that had been high in the sky when she started her journey. The wind rustled through the old tree branches. Sarah occasionally heard footsteps behind her, but when she turned to look, there was no one there. Fear ran through her blood and her breaths came in quick, shallow gasps.

“Caliban,” she called out in desperation. “Caliban, is this what you wanted: me out here alone?” The wind picked up to gale force. Sarah’s hair blew back into her face and Jareth’s cape danced around her shoulders. What was keeping it in place she never understood, since there were no buttons, clasps or loops at the neck.

“Caliban, you coward, come out and face me!” She screamed into the howling wind, but the only response she received was lightening that cracked through the dark sky, followed shortly by thunder that made her cover her ears in terror.
………………………..


You desperately search for a way to conquer the fear
No line of attack has been planned to fight back the tears
Where brave and restless dreams are both won and lost
On the edge is where it seems it’s well worth the cost
Just when you think you got it down
Your heart in pieces on the ground
They whisper, promises in the – dark
~Promises In The Dark ~ Pat Benatar

The sun was coming up over the Goblin City, and smoke hung low in the air. Jareth’s magic had been strong enough to contain and finally extinguish the fire but it had not been easy. Then he’d called on it a second time to change the area of damage back into what it had been before the quake. Houses were rebuilt, and blackened soot-covered stone and ground was instantly cleaned, but nothing could be done for the bushes, trees and flowers that had been lost in the flames. The creation of life was not within the power of his magic. Thankfully, there had been no causalities, and Goblins being the hardy creatures that they were, there were few injuries.

“Well, that could have been much worse than it was,” the weary Goblin King sighed as he sat in his study drinking his morning brew with his aide Declan. Both Fae had bathed and changed their dirty clothes in the mud room off the stables. Jareth hadn’t wanted to worry Sarah by appearing in his chambers covered in soot and smelling of smoke. She had been upset enough the night before without adding to her worries.

“Yes, but it was bad enough.” The dark-haired man shook his head. “Have you any idea what caused it? I thought the magic kept the tectonic plates beneath the Underground from shifting.”

“In the past it has.” Jareth looked into the depth of his cup. “I have an idea of its origin, but am unsure of how to proceed.”

“What can I do to help?” Declan watched his friend carefully, there was something that was being left unsaid. Loud knocking on the King’s study door kept him from asking more.

“Well, come in, don’t just stand there and pound!” At the sight of the lone Goblin, the King became unusually terse.

“Your Highness…”

Jareth cocked his head and raised an eyebrow at the small female servant that stood quivering in the doorway. He’d sent her to get Sarah, but it seemed as if she was incapable of performing even that simple task.

“Your Highness, I can’t get the Lady Sarah for you.”

“So it would appear,” he drawled lazily. “Then send someone who can.”

“Sarah!” Declan stood in excitement when he heard her name. “She’s here? By the Seven Crystals you pulled it off!”

Jareth casually shrugged then glared at the Goblin.

“But, Your Majesty, that’s just it, she isn’t here. Your chambers were empty when I went for her.”

“WHAT!” Jareth’s roar made the windows rattle and the little female Goblin shake even harder, but she stood her ground.

“I said, she’s not here, Your Majesty,” she whispered. Before the words left her mouth, both Fae males had disappeared and the little Goblin was left quaking in her pointy little boots.

Jareth reappeared in his chamber, but Declan had the tact to transport himself to the hall in front of the King’s door. Before he could raise his hand to knock, Jareth pulled open the portal, knowing his friend would be on the other side. The rooms were empty, except for the King gripping a note in his gloved hand. From the grim expression on his face, things were not going well.

“It appears as if the Curse is not done with us yet,” he said in a low voice and handed Sarah’s note to his friend.

Dear Jareth,

I love you more than words can say, but I can’t stay with you if it would mean the destruction of your kingdom. I know I can never go back to my world, but please don’t try and follow me in yours.

It would seem as if we haven’t heard the last of the Curse. You told me its power was hidden in the Labyrinth somewhere. I’m going to try and find it. Maybe Caliban will be satisfied with one more human female’s life. All I can do is try.

I will love you forever. Nine years ago you told me that forever isn’t long at all, so it may not seem like much to you, but under the circumstances, it’s all I have to give.

Love,
Sarah

While Declan was reading, Jareth quickly changed into black body armor and tight leather breeches with thigh-high boots. He had reached for his sword and scabbard on the wall then thought better of it. If there was a battle to be fought, it would be with magic, not metal. He looked around quickly for his favorite black cape that he’d left on the arm of the sofa. The velvet pouch that was hidden in its lining might very well tip the balance of power in his favor.

“What does it mean?” Declan looked up from the note he’d read twice.

“It means exactly what it says.” Jareth attempted to conjure his cape, but it didn’t answer his call. “That stubborn woman has gone off to take matters into her own hands and I am afraid she will die trying.”

“What does she mean when she says she was responsible for the destruction?” He nodded toward the window and beyond to the still healing land.

“Simply, Declan,” there was ice in Jareth’s voice because he hated revealing this to anyone, even his best friend, but it was necessary. “Because, Sarah and I were in here alone when the quake began. We caused it. Do I need to spell it out for you?”

“Oh,” Declan blinked in surprise. “Oh my goodness.” Suddenly a clear picture of what caused the tremors filled his mind. “Oh,” he gasped. “But how can you be sure? I’m sorry Jareth, I know it’s none of my business, but it doesn’t make sense that....” He couldn’t finish his sentence, the look of utter desolation in his friend’s eyes told the story.

“There must be some small detail of the Curse we’ve overlooked.” Jareth flicked his wrist and a crystal appeared. “Show me Sarah,” he commanded. Her image suddenly filled the sparkling void held in his hand. Her hair was being whipped around her head. A familiar dark cloak flew out behind her as she leaned into the wind and tried to move forward. Tree branches snapped and fell, as lightening split the sky and thunder rolled all around. “At least I know where my cape has gone,” Jareth smiled bitterly. “Let’s hope it gives her the protection she needs until I get there.”

“That looks like the Eldair Forests. Would she have gone alone to such a dangerous place?” Declan looked closely at the area that surrounded Sarah’s image in the crystal. The ancient forest had been searched by each Goblin King a number of times, but Caliban’s Spell hadn’t been found there despite the evil that lurked behind every tree and bush.

“I keep forgetting you didn’t meet her when she was here before, or you wouldn’t bother asking that question.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Declan blinked and transported his cape and sword from his office where he’d left them.

“No, you cannot go with me.”

“What? As your aide I must. This is far too dangerous for you to be on your own. By rights you should have a compliment of troops.”

“Troops would only slow me down.” Jareth sighed and handed Declan a parchment scroll that was tied with a black ribbon and sealed with the crest of the King of The Goblins. “If I don’t return, you will need this.” He held up his hand when his friend would have interrupted him. “It states that if I should die without issue, you are my appointed heir. It was drawn up when I was first crowned. It is not only my wish, but my father would have wanted it and my mother gives her complete approval.”

“No, Jareth, you are the Goblin King, not me, never me! All the more reason I should go with you, or better yet, instead of you.”

“We are wasting time that Sarah does not have. There will be no argument. This was set in motion a long time ago. What is done is done. You are like a brother to me. I trust you with my life and more importantly, I trust you with my Kingdom.”

“The other nobles will never allow it.” Declan tried reasoning. He never wanted nor believed he could do his friend’s job.

“Mother will back you. Your wife, Merilee, is an Elvish princess, though a younger daughter who would never have inherited a kingdom of her own. I know your father-in-law will give his support. Between Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins and Luthor, High King of the Elves, you will have no problem keeping the nobles of the High Court in line until you’ve proven yourself. Please, Declan, I am the only one who can do this. One way or another, the Curse will end today. If it means that both Sarah and I die, then at least we will be together. My bloodline will cease to be, so there should be no more heard from Caliban’s Spell.” Jareth tossed the crystal in the air that had contained Sarah’s image and another empty one landed in his hand. “If for some reason Sarah returns alone, send her to my mother. She will understand Sarah’s loss and may be able to help her through the years ahead.” Jareth shattered the empty crystal on the floor at his feet and disappeared from the room.
………………….


These are the tears…
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
~Why ~ Annie Lennox ~

He saw her almost immediately. She was in the middle of a clearing being buffeted by wind and rain. “Caliban,” she shrieked. “What are you waiting for? I’m here, come and get me, you coward.”

“It is unwise to insult a magic spell that is attempting to kill you.” He strode forward and caught her by the shoulders.

“Jareth, what are you doing here?” Sarah whispered as she gripped him tightly and tried to appear as if she had the situation under control.

“This is my Labyrinth, I can go anywhere I please. The question is, why are you here?” He was furious and could hardly contain himself. Unsure which would give him more satisfaction, to shake her until her teeth rattled or pull her close until he had convinced himself he’d really found her, he did nothing.

“I was trying…I mean…” She was so glad to see him, all she wanted to do was touch him and feel his skin against hers and damn the consequences.

“I told you once, nine years ago, that I would be there for you.” His eyes flashed with anger at how careless she was. “And since it appears as if the world is falling down, I am here. Or weren’t you listening to me?”

“I didn’t know you really meant it,” the words caught in her throat as she remembered how he’d sung to her as they’d danced in a crystal ballroom that seemed to be part of another lifetime. Then she remembered where she was, and why. Suddenly she was angry at all that was being asked of her. “What did you expect me to do? Sit and do nothing while you were out trying to put your kingdom back together? Or worse yet, fall asleep, have another erotic dream and send everything tumbling back down again?”

“It was my wish that you stayed in my chambers until I returned.” His eyes turned hard at the thought of what could have happened to her in this part of the Labyrinth, alone, without magic to protect her. “I am not used to being ignored.”

“I couldn’t stay,” she shouted above the howling of the wind. “Don’t you understand how hard it was for me to leave you? But I was afraid to even try and sleep! What if I’d dreamt about you? What if I destroyed all of this?” She flung her arms wide, indicating the lands for miles and miles in every direction.

“You could have waited for me.” He refused to be moved by her plea. “Given its evil nature, this area has been searched any number of times by each successive generation of Goblin Kings,” he growled. “None of us has been able to find the power source of the Curse here, even using our magic. It is unlikely that you will be able to find it.” Fear for her still fueled his anger and made his words insulting.

“But don’t you see? Whatever this thing is, it doesn’t want to punish just the Goblin Kings. It wants me too, and all of the women before me who should have known the incredible joy of loving and being loved by your ancestors.” She stood tall and straight, needing him to believe in what she was doing. “I hoped it would come after me, no matter where I was in the Labyrinth.”

“What if it had, and I’d lost you?” Jareth couldn’t stay angry at her any longer. She was right and he knew it. He pulled her close and held her against his heart, never more proud of her than he was at that moment. “How did you expect me to go on if that happened?”

She looked up at him in confusion, unsure she’d heard him correctly. One moment he was furious with her the next he was holding her so close she could feel his emotions flowing off him, even through the leather of his garments.

“I need you, Sarah. My heart needs you.” He looked down at her and almost laughed at the irony of the situation. “I’m a king with great powers. I shouldn’t need you, or anyone, but I do. I need you.” Jareth picked her up and kissed her but this time it was about his needs not just hers. He had to do something to still the fear that had driven him to look for her and the panic he’d hardly recognized. One gloved hand held her head firmly in place while his tongue dug deep to taste her mouth. He felt her fingers gripping tightly to his back and shoulders, as if her life depended on it. It only made him want her more. Finally he pulled back, but kept her face buried against his neck and his arms securely around her.

“And I need you. More than I ever realized,” she whispered against his neck and lips as she kept kissing him over and over again, until her breath settled and her trembling stopped. All during the wild passionate kiss, she’d kept a tight reign on her desires, afraid that if she let go, the external world would shake as badly as Jareth was capable of shaking her internal one. “But that doesn’t solve my dilemma.”

“Why are you so sure that it was your reaction alone that caused the ground to move?” Though their time of passion had been short-lived and she had found release under his skillful hands and lips, he’d had inner quakes of his own that he’d barely held in check. “My magic is powerful, but I doubt it was strong enough to keep my emotions contained.”

“I never thought of that.” Sarah blushed.

“You’re still too innocent.” He ran his fingers along her jaw and smiled as her blush intensified. “Once we’ve found the source of the magic that feeds this Curse, and destroyed it, we will turn our attention to the matter of your chastity.”

A rumbling laugh echoed from deep within the forest. Jareth let Sarah’s body slide down his, but kept his arm around her shoulders. He positioned himself between her and the direction the sound had come from.

“Very touching, a Goblin King did learn to love a human. But the human, can you really believe what she says?” A shadowy figure stepped out from under low hanging trees. He was dressed much like Jareth, though his clothes were rougher and darker. There were dents and scratches in his body armor that told of hard fought battles. “Are you going to beg for her life and you for his?”

Jareth stood straight and tall, every inch the haughty King. Sarah gripped his arm and he hoped she’d follow his lead. This was his battle and he had to be the one to fight it, or they could both die. “We will beg for nothing. Who are you and what are you doing in my Labyrinth.”

“I am what you’ve been seeking for generations. I am Caliban’s Spell.” He drew his well-polished sword and stepped closer to the couple in the middle of the clearing. As the Spell moved, It appeared almost translucent; only Its iron blade was solid.

“If you are what you say you are, then why are you still here?” Jareth flicked his wrist and the velvet pouch of tears filled his hand. He was careful to keep it hidden behind Sarah; deep in the folds of the cape she was wearing. To the Image, it appeared as if he had his arm wrapped protectively around her, but nothing more. “Sarah and I have fulfilled the stipulations of the Curse. She conquered the Labyrinth, and won my heart and I hers. She followed me willingly to the Underground to live out her days. Why did you prevent us from consummating our union of souls?”

“It is not enough. The human woman must be made to feel what Caliban did. He gave up everything, his honor, his family, and his people. He abandoned a man who was like a brother to him and he did it all for her. For that his wife repaid him by her faithlessness and it killed him.”

“I’ve left everyone behind and can never return. I’ve lost my brother, my family and my people.” Sarah cried out as she thought of her life in the Aboveworld.

“Yes, you have, but that was nothing compared to the loss you will feel when I kill him.” The Curse nodded toward Jareth.

“You will find I am not so easily killed.” The tall blonde Fae challenged loudly to cover the sound of Sarah as she gasped in panic.

“But you will die, nonetheless, as your father, and his father and his before that.” It moved closer with Its sword raised. Its eyes raked Sarah who was held possessively in Jareth’s arms. “First, she will watch you die. Then I shall take her innocence and finally her life.”

“You think I will give her up that easily?” Jareth gripped the velvet bag and began calling on its hidden power. “She is mine. Didn’t my great-great-grandfather, Jared, teach you anything? The Goblin King rules the Labyrinth. You are on my lands and my word is law.”

“Your great-great-grandfather was a weak-willed fool who was easily tricked.” Caliban’s Spell roared. “And you are no different. I will take great joy in killing you. This sword is made of iron. After I wound you with it, you should live long enough to see me ravish her body. It is a fitting punishment for Jared’s heir to end his life as Caliban did; to hear your woman scream as I take what is left of her honor and to know that she will die painfully, hating you for bringing her to this evil place.”

“We shall see,” Jareth growled and pressed Sarah’s face against his shoulder to keep her from yelling out the denial that shone from her loving eyes. He was tempted to use some of his magic to send her to safety, but realized that if he lost there would be no place in the Underground that was safe. Better to save all of his strength for what was ahead. Slowly he pulled his arms from around her. His gloved hands moved past one another at shoulder level, causing the right one to glow. Suddenly sparks flew from his fingers. They were aimed at the shadowy Spell.

The ground shook and lightening flashed as Jareth did battle with magic as old as the Underground. The King’s own considerable powers were boosted by the tears of longing and pain that were contained in the bag.

Never letting go of Its sword, the Curse sent angry waves of magic at Its enemies. Jareth blocked Sarah’s body with his as he muttered spells and tossed them out as fast as they were completed. All three beings in the clearing were struck by angry power as a Fae King and an Ancient Spell met one another on the field of combat. They were fighting not only for their lives, but for supremacy of the Labyrinth. It was a battle that Jareth did not plan on losing.

It was too much for Sarah. She gasped in intense pain as she was knocked to the ground by spells that Jareth couldn’t deflect. She felt power slam into her body from all directions. The last thing she remembered was being tossed across the clearing to land hard against a huge rock.

“You will not win,” the Curse yelled as It was buffeted by Jareth’s superior strength. “Even if you succeed in destroying me, your woman will die. She is no different than Caliban’s was: weak willed and thin-skinned.”

The Goblin King had to fight to ignore the words that had more strength than the magic that was hitting him on all sides. He could feel Sarah’s presence behind him. She was alive, but in a great deal of pain. He couldn’t think about it and still control the vast stores of magic he’d called upon in the tears of his ancestors. For the first time in nine years he closed his mind to Sarah. Better a quick death at the hands of magic than what Caliban’s Spell had planned for her.

Jareth pulled deeply from the tears that sizzled in his gloved hand, and focused harder on his enemy. He thought for a moment of the Kings before him and how they had been forced to live their lives because of one Fae’s weakness. It added anger to his arsenal of power and increased his strength even more.

“Nooooo,” the Spell cried out as it was hit with the feelings of loss it had inflicted on previous rulers of the Labyrinth. The Curse jerked back and dropped Its sword. In desperation It reached into Its pocket and pulled out the source of Its power. With a quick spell that doubled Its strength, It knocked Jareth to his knees, but the added power of the spell shortened its duration. All it did was further incense the Goblin King.

“Feel what you’ve caused!” Jareth shouted and rained magic from his gloved hand until Caliban’s spell began to weaken. “Feel it and die as they died.” The fire that flew from the King of the Goblins increased until the Curse lost Its footing and bounced across the clearing. Its edges flickered with small flames until It was a blaze of burning magic. The flames grew until the Power that had haunted the Labyrinth since the beginning was nothing more than putrid green smoke that gave off a foul stench.

When Jareth was sure he’d reduced the centuries-old Curse to nothing more than a pile of ash, he reigned in his augmented power. “It is done,” he said softly and slumped in exhaustion as the sun broke through the canopy of leaves above. The angry storm that had been as much a part of the Eldair Forest as its trees finally abated, and the Forest was at peace.

“Sarah,” he called out, but was met with silence. He knew she was alive, he could feel it, but he needed to see her and touch her to make his heart stop racing. He pulled himself to his feet and ran to where she lay, tangled in his black cape, her body crumpled against a rock. “Oh, my love,” he whispered as he knelt beside her to free her from the black material she was cocooned in. Her face was pale, and she had a gash on her head, but she was his, alive, and in his arms, where she was always meant to be. “Open your eyes, my darling.” He gently brushed his fingers over her lids, coaxing her awake.

His cape had protected her from the worst of the magic that had poured through the clearing. He’d always known it protected him when he was in the Aboveground, but hadn’t realized how truly powerful it was.

“Jareth,” her eyes fluttered open and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t strong enough to help you. You were right, I should have stayed behind.”

“No, my love, the Curse was after both of us.” He kissed her bruised forehead and her injury began to heal. “I think somehow in the last 2000 years It took on a life of Its own. It didn’t want to be defeated. I’ve hunted it many times in this very forest and It never showed Itself, just as you were safe until I arrived. All It wanted to do was go on killing and inflicting pain.”

“Is the Spell really dead?”

“Yes, but I must check on the remains to be sure there is no source of power left behind.” He leaned her against the rock and began to stand.

“No, wait, you’re not leaving me alone again.” She reached out a hand so he could help her to her feet.

“Me, leave you? Don’t you think it was the other way around?” He pulled her close to him and kissed her to reassure himself she was really there.

“Do you have any idea what it cost me when I did?” She looked at him gravely, refusing to cry, but the pain of her actions was plainly written on her face.

“Yes,” he whispered. “I can feel it. It is like you are attached to me here.” He thumped his fisted right hand over his heart. “You make me feel vulnerable, Sarah. I’m a king and I shouldn’t be vulnerable, but I am where you’re concerned. What you did was necessary, but I’ll die if you ever leave me again.”

“I won’t, I promise.” She ducked her head and leaned her forehead against his heart. “I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’m not strong enough to do it again. You are part of me now. I’m unsure how it is different from when I ran from your castle, but it is.”

“Maybe this is the answer.” Jareth smiled down at her and held up his right palm.

The battle with the Curse had burned away the velvet pouch the tears were kept in and the black glove that the Goblin King had worn was singed and had small holes. In place of the crystal spheres that had contained the powerful grief of those affected by the curse were diamonds that sparkled in the morning sun. All were perfect emerald-cut two-carat blue-white stones, except for one large one. It was seven diamonds that had been fused together by the heat of the magic, to make one huge, brilliant emerald-cut stone. Six perfect blue-white diamonds bound around a core-yellow diamond interwoven with sapphire.

“Were those ours?” Sarah looked in awe at the magnificent jewel that made all the others look insignificant.

“Yes. I can see the passion caught in the outer part of the stone. It will burn for all time and is the only power left in these now.” He indicated all five stones in his hand and gave her a devilish grin as he thought of the pleasures their diamond foretold. “I believe we will enjoy that. The inner color is like my eyes, just as my tear was.”

“Does that represent us?”

“It would appear so. Your passion and my eyes.” He traced her lip with a gloved finger. “We are bound at the soul as we were meant to be. The Curse is defeated. I wish past Goblin Kings had been so lucky.” He looked sadly at the three solitary stones that had belonged to his parents. Both had had soulmates with whom they had been prevented from joining, so like the diamond that had been his grandfather’s tear, theirs sat alone in his palm.

“I love you, Jareth,” Sarah was swept with an unbearable emotion that made it hard for her to breathe.

“And I you, my Sarah.” He looked around the clearing with distaste. “I want nothing more than to show you how much, but not in this place where evil dwelt and I have one more task before we can leave.” He nodded toward the small heap of green-gray ash that had once been a Curse.

Jareth picked up a stick as he crossed the clearing to finish the battle he had started. Kneeling carefully, so as not to get any ash on his boots, he used the stick to sift through the charred remains.

“What are you looking for?” Sarah leaned over his shoulder and watched with interest.

“The source of the Spell’s power, it must not be left behind. Ahhh,” he smiled with triumph. “I do believe I’ve found it,” he uncovered a small lump of coal, with a crystalline edge along one side. “And Declan owes me a bottle of 1533 Zinfandel, Elvish Special Reserve. That Fae has an entire case hidden away in his wine cellar and refuses to share! Well he’s going to have to share now, he lost this bet.”

“What are you talking about?” Sarah grinned at Jareth.

“This,” elation gleamed from his mismatched eyes as he pointed to all that was left of the power behind the Curse. “I was right. The source of Caliban’s Spell was a tear from my great-great-grandfather, Jared.”

“But how could Caliban have gotten it. You guard those tears so carefully, wasn’t it always so?”

“Yes, it was, but Jared trusted his best friend, who was also captain of the guard and head of his army.” He shrugged. “If you trust someone with the safety of your Kingdom, you’re not much of a King if you wouldn’t trust them with your personal safety. Protection of the tear was probably just one of Caliban’s many responsibilities. The clue was in the wording of the actual Curse. Wiseman showed me the copy that was written down by someone who was there when the words were uttered.” Jareth closed his eyes and called to mind exactly what he’d read. “Caliban said, ‘that he’d used Jared’s power against him’. Declan and I tried for years to discover what that meant. Though Declan is my most trusted aide, he has too much integrity to ever betray me and is too soft-hearted to fight dirty. It’s no wonder he never believed me.”

“Would there be enough power in one tear to cause all that damage for thousands of years?” If she weren’t looking at the warped remains of a diamond, she would have doubted Jareth too.

“Caliban did have magic of his own, which I’m sure he used as a basis for the spell, but it was the tear that fuelled it. My mother believes that the Curse sent the human females to us when it would be reprehensible for us to join with them. If that’s true, then controlling the Labyrinth book was the only thing true magic was needed for, and since it was spread over thousands of years, one tear could manage it easily. It was a diabolic spell when you think about it. We, the kings, were the ones that put ourselves through pain. The book sent you to me, but I had to choose not to seduce you at 15. My father could have applied for a writ of dissolution of marriage from my mother, freeing him to be with his human female, but to do so would have ripped the Goblin Kingdom apart as High Nobles fought for the Crown, since Cormac would have had to advocate. And if his dissolution was granted, I would have been declared illegitimate and forbidden to rule.”

“What are you going to do with it?” Sarah nodded toward the offending object. She hated the thought of it joining the other, beautiful stones in Jareth’s hand. “I know it belonged to your great-great-grandfather, and should probably be with the others in a museum or someplace, but it was an object of evil for so long, it doesn’t seem right.”

Jareth carefully ran his hand a few inches above the remains of the Curse. “Like the diamonds, the magic is gone, but you’re right, it was evil for too long.” He stood and crushed the tiny piece of coal under his boot-heel. Then muttering words understood by only the most powerful Fae, he called upon the Winds of Forever to come and carry the remaining ash and molecules of coal to all the far parts of all the Worlds. Never again would one piece of the Curse be anywhere near any other. Never again could they join even as benign pieces of matter.

“Come love, it is time to go home.” He wrapped one arm around her waist, beneath the cape she was still wearing and with the other he held her face against his neck. “That’s much better,” he smiled and murmured as he felt her arms wind around him, pulling him close, instead of resting passively on his shoulders like last time.


We belong to the light
We belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words
We’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong
We belong together
~We Belong ~ Pat Benatar ~

Moments later they materialized in the midst of the throne room of the Castle Beyond the Goblin City. Unlike when Sarah had dashed thought it to make her escape, it was not deserted, but full of beings. Chaos erupted the second it was apparent that Jareth had returned. Everyone tried to talk at once.

 

“This was a mistake,” Jareth leaned and whispered in Sarah’s ear. “I should have transported us directly to my chambers.” He grinned as she blushed, but quickly straightened and wiped all emotion from his face.

“Quiet!” His voice rang out cool, calm and not to be argued with. The crowd parted as he strode to his throne with Sarah in tow. No matter how much she wanted to make herself inconspicuous, at that moment, he wasn’t about to let go of her hand. “As you can see…” even Jareth’s voice ground to a halt when he looked around a room that he thought he’d known well, but in the amount of time it had taken him to destroy the Curse, everything had changed. He cleared his throat and started speaking again, “as you can see, the Curse has been broken.”

He took time to look over his subjects and take in the changes. Sunlight streamed in every window, where before there had been just enough to keep things growing. The stone walls of his castle sparkled white in the new light. No longer were they dark and damp and almost impossible to keep clean. Large flowers bloomed in profusion on the ancient plants at the long windows. Never in the history of the Goblin City had they ever bloomed. But the best change was the one in the Goblins. There was new purpose in their steps and intelligence shone from their eyes. Jareth only hoped that their magic would return as slowly as it had been taken away or he would have some difficult years ahead of him. When creatures possessed power, without the knowledge to handle it properly, damage could be done unknowingly.

“This is the Lady Sarah. She was instrumental in helping me find the power behind the ancient magic and she will be your Queen, very shortly.” Jareth nodded and smiled at the woman at his side.

“Sarah,” a familiar voice drawled from the back of the room.

“My Lady,” a little dog moved forward and bowed to his King and Queen-to-be

“He did it,” a dwarf whispered as he pushed his way through the crowd.

“There are three among you who were part of my quest to win Sarah and destroy the Curse.” He nodded at Sarah’s friends and held his hand out, beckoning to the ceremonial sword of the Goblin King that hung on the wall to his right. The sword and scabbard disappeared form the wall and reappeared in his hand. “Step forward, Ludo the Rock Conjurer; Hoggle, Keeper of the Labyrinth Gate; Sir Didymus, Knight of the Underground Realm and be honored.”

All three shuffled shyly to stand before their king, while Goblins, Fae, and Dwarves looked on. Not since the Great War with the northern territories, when King Cormac had been newly crowned, had a Goblin King honored folk of common blood.

“Kneel,” Jareth commanded. Moments later he drew his great sword and touched Ludo on first the right shoulder then the left. When he placed it on the beast’s bowed head he began to speak again. “I dub you Sir Ludo, Knight of the Moving Rocks.” He silently moved on to Hoggle and repeated the gesture, but when he touched the little dwarf’s head he spoke. “I dub you Sir Hoggle, of the Labyrinth.” When he turned to Didymus he stopped for a moment; the little dog was already a Knight. “Sir Didymus, my father knighted you for your bravery in battle against the northern usurpers over 500 years ago. He gave you the title of Knight of the Underground Realm, and to that I add the Order of the Windmill.” He smiled to himself and hoped the little Knight wouldn’t injure himself too badly jousting with the new structure that would be built beside the Bog. “Arise Sir Knights and be known to all for your bravery and loyalty to your King, the Labyrinth and the Underground.” With that he did the unheard of and bowed to the three standing before him, to the wild cheers of the crowd.

When he straightened, he the saw tears running down Sarah’s cheeks. His brows rose and he shook his head as he moved closer to her and gently wiped them away. “With a human wife I think I’ll need to get a larger sack for storing tears.”

“I love you,” she whispered as his bare fingers touched her face and rolled her tears into crystals.

“And I you, my love.” When he looked away from her deep green eyes, he saw his mother and Declan standing behind her.

“Very nicely done,” Livia smiled at her son. Her pride in his kingly demeanor radiated from her blue eyes.

“Thank you,” Jareth nodded and sent the Sword of the Goblin Kings back to the wall where it belonged. “Mother, I’d like to present to you Sarah Williams, my betrothed.” He grinned at Sarah’s confusion as she automatically reached out to shake hands, but thought better of it and did a hasty curtsey, using his long black cape, which was still draped over her shoulders, instead of a skirt. “Sarah, this is Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins, my mother.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am…I mean, your Highness.” The young woman blushed and discreetly elbowed Jareth in the side for catching her unawares.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Livia grinned. Her sharp eyes hadn’t missed a thing since the couple appeared in the room. It was obvious the children loved each other deeply, and it was just as obvious that Sarah was not about to let Jareth get away with his usual tricks.

“Your Highness,” Declan bowed formally to his friend and was introduced to Sarah, as well.

“I can see you’re bursting to greet your friends,” Jareth turned and whispered to Sarah. “I’ve some business of my own to attend to.” He nodded toward his mother and Declan. “I’ll be in my office. It’s through that door,” he pointed to the left of his throne. “Enjoy your reunion. They have missed you, almost as much as I did.”

“Thank you.” She stood on tip-toes and kissed his cheek. It made him grip her hand all the tighter. “I’ve missed them, too,” she whispered. “But not as much as I missed you.”

“Don’t be long.” His mismatched eyes danced with desire that made her tingle. He watched as she shook her head then turned to be caught in Ludo’s excited embrace.
………………..


A reckless night in a nameless town
And we moved out of sight, with a silent sound
A beach that wept with deserted waves
That’s where we slept, knowing we’d be safe
~If You Think You Know How To Love Me ~ Pat Benatar

As much as she enjoyed seeing her friends again, Sarah was anxious to get back to Jareth. All she wanted to do was touch him and assure herself that everything that had happened was real. When she entered his office, he and Declan were in deep discussion over what was to be done with the tears. It was Livia who noticed how Sarah’s shoulders drooped in exhaustion and suggested she took her to the King’s dressing room, where a hot bath had been drawn for her.

“I’m afraid I don’t have anything to wear,” Sarah looked sadly as the maid carried her damp, mud-covered clothes away to be cleaned. She felt vulnerable and in awe in the presence of the beautiful woman who was Jareth’s mother.

“I’m sure I can find you something.” Livia had no qualms about opening her son’s wardrobe and rifling though his clothes. “This should do,” she placed one of Jareth’s shirts over the chair beside the huge bath Sarah was soaking in. “Don’t worry about the bath, it’ll empty itself as soon as it perceives you’re no longer in it. Your dinner should be here any moment now. I’ll wait for you in the sitting room.”

“Thank you, I’ll be out shortly.” The younger woman sighed. It was evident from whom Jareth had inherited his air of hauteur and general demeanor.

A few minutes later Sarah found Livia sitting on the couch in front of a large fire, in the sitting room of Jareth’s chambers. The table in front of her had been set with dinner for one.

“I was right.” The Dowager Queen of the Goblins smiled as the mortal walked towards her. “That shirt is big enough on you to fit like a short dress from the Aboveground.”

“It…ahhh…it’ll be just fine.” Sarah could feel herself blush. This was not a conversation she’d ever imagined having with the mother of the man she was about to sleep with, especially in said man’s bedchamber.

“Come here, it’s much warmer by the fire. Our nights are getting chilly as autumn approaches.” Livia patted the couch beside her. “Sit, eat, you must be starving.”

Sarah settled beside the older woman. No matter how hard she tried subtly tugging on the hem of Jareth’s shirt, she couldn’t get it to cover her knees while sitting.

“It is becoming on you, you know.” Livia smiled at the lovely dark-haired woman whom her son loved.

“Thank you…I…ahh….”

“I’ve embarrassed you?”

“I’m sorry, but you’re Jareth’s mother,” Sarah flushed a deeper shade of red as she looked at the Dowager Queen and shrugged.

“Ahhh, I see,” Livia grinned. The girl was as innocent as Jareth had believed. “You needn’t worry; I’ll be long gone before he gets here.”

“Ohhh,” Sarah couldn’t take it anymore, she hid her face in her hands.

“Oh dear,” she patted the younger woman’s shoulder. “You must remember that we’re Fae. Our pleasures are very much a part of who we are. I know it is different with humans. You have yet to exchange vows, but I’d be worried about the happiness of your marriage if you were insisting on separate bedrooms.” Livia sighed, not wanting to reveal too much, but knowing that Sarah needed some reassurance. “Did you know that my son is in awe of your innocence? It has eaten at him for nine years that he may have been inappropriate with you when you were here last.”

“He wasn’t. He was perfect for who I was then.” Sarah thought back to her time in the Underground as a 15 year-old girl. It had been her own doubts that had caused her to be so frightened by the charming, attractive King who had captivated her from the moment she saw him. “And I can’t image Jareth being in awe of anything – or anyone.” She shook her head trying to make sense of the conversation. “Why are you telling me all this?”

“For many reasons,” Livia settled more comfortably on the sofa and turned to look at the young woman who would shortly be her daughter-in-law. “I was a Goblin Queen for more years than I care to remember, so I should say it is because you helped save our Kingdom, but that would only be part of it. I saw what happened to my son when you defeated the Labyrinth and then went Aboveground. Part of him shattered like the Escher Room. It is what happens to us when our other half is taken away.” She saw the younger woman flinch at the mention of the damaged room. “I gather you saw the empty spaces and hanging rocks?”

Sarah could only nod in shock.

“Like the magic that kept the Escher Room from crumbling to dust, Jareth was able to stay strong, as well, though incomplete. If you had been truly out of his reach, the rocks in the room would have crumbled to nothing and so would he. You’re back now, and the Escher Room has reformed. It is the beautiful puzzle room it was meant to be. And my son is complete and truly happy for the first time in his life. I don’t need to worry that he will die long before his time of a broken heart as all the other Goblin Kings have done.”

“But I didn’t do anything special.” Suddenly Sarah remembered having a conversation very much like this one with her stepmother. She said simply, “He’s the man of my dreams.”

“If he hears that too often, I’m afraid he won’t be able to fit his crown on his head for State occasions.” Livia stood and straightened her skirts. “I can see you love him as much as he loves you. That is a precious thing in our world. Hold onto it tightly, for it will give you both great joy.” The Dowager Queen of the Goblins smiled sadly because she had known that joy for a few short years. Then death had taken it away from her and there had only been emptiness until Cormac had offered her his friendship, his hand in marriage, and a Kingdom to help rule. A few years later, he’d given her their son to love. “Now I shall take my leave, because as you pointed out, this is no place for a mother, at this time.”

An hour later Jareth quietly stole into his chambers. He’d bathed elsewhere so he wouldn’t wake Sarah. He slipped out of a robe he’d had brought him and crawled naked into bed next to the woman he’d loved for so long. No matter how much his spirit wanted to pull her beneath him and make love to her, he knew his body was too tired. Instead, he folded his long limbs around her shorter ones and fell asleep, content for the first time in nine years.
……….


Make me feel again
Side across my skin again
Let me uncover you to rediscover you
And I will open up
If you promise to give in
On this perfect night
Let the two of us be one
~To Be With You ~ Hoobastank ~

Sarah was warm and she felt wonderful. She could smell the intoxicating scent of moonbeams and magic all around her and it made her moan. A long slim hand slipped beneath the material of the ivory silk shirt she was wearing and her flesh sprang to life. “Please don’t let this be another dream,” she murmured.

“But, my love, I said I’d give you your dreams.” A low, mellifluous voice whispered in her ear.

“Jareth, is that really you?” Sarah was afraid to open her eyes and find that she was in her bed at the farmhouse and about to dream again.

“In the flesh,” wicked laugher rippled through his words.

“Hhhmm,” she smiled and turned towards the warmth beside her. As her bare leg brushed against his and her hand come in contact with his naked chest she shivered. “You really are here and in the flesh.” She opened her eyes and it all came flooding back. “Did you get any sleep at all?”

“More than enough, it’s almost dawn. I came in about six hours ago and you were sleeping the sleep of the innocent.” He rolled her beneath him and felt her catch her breath. “Sarah, are you afraid of me like this?”

“No,” she gasped and took his face between her hands. She felt herself blush. “Just unsure of what to do next.”

“Follow my lead and I’ll take you where you want to go.” He slowly began to unbutton the shirt she was wearing. “You seem to have a fascination for wearing my clothes,” he teased to relax her. “Shirts and capes are one thing, but I draw the line at my breeches.” He punctuated each word with a kiss as the shirt separated, exposing more and more of her creamy skin.

“And here I thought you’ve wanted me in your breeches for years.” Sarah laughed.

“Oh, you are a quick study.” His hands parted the shirt and he lifted her so he could slide it off first one arm then the other.

Suddenly her laughter stopped and she looked up at him with huge green eyes. Her hands shyly reached out to explore his shoulders and chest. She was rewarded when he groaned.

“You like that?” She looked up at him under her eyelashes.

“Very much so,” Jareth’s voice was husky with need, but he was as determined to take it as slowly and carefully as he had before.

“Good, because I want to touch you everywhere.” Sarah remembered how it had felt when he had tasted her skin; she raised her head and ran her tongue around and around one of his nipples, as her fingers brushed across the other. She felt his instant response as his hardness pressed into her stomach.

“Easy, love,” he moaned and ducked his head to take her mouth with his. “Slowly.”

“I don’t want to!” She gasped and lightly nibbled on his lip while rocking her hips to get his attention.

“You are impatient.” He flung the covers to the foot of the bed and rolled to his side. One arm was around her shoulders keeping her pinned on her back against him and the other explored her body from thigh to breast and back again. “And so very beautiful.” He reached for her right nipple and gently tugged while his mouth covered her left one.

“Ohhh,” she gasped as lightening shot from where he was touching her straight to her groin.

“And so very responsive.” He looked up with burning eyes.

For the first time, Sarah saw him naked. The bright light of the setting moon shown in the window and played over his pale skin. “I want to touch you,” her voice was husky as she ran her hands over his well-muscled chest, flat stomach and finally grasped his shaft. “You feel incredible,” she whispered and gasped as it jumped in her hand. “Like velvet-covered steel.” She arched her back and rocked her hips as she ran her hand up and down its length. “I want you in me now! Please don’t make me wait any longer,” she begged. “I’ve had enough nights that end with only cold loneliness, and last time was even worse, because I had a taste of what we could create together, and then it was torn from us.” She moved frantically against him as her fear grew.

“Easy, my love,” he rolled her beneath him and quieted his own fears that he would move too fast for her. His only experience with virgins was with Sarah. “This will not end like other nights for you. And the ground will shake again, I promise you, but only we will feel it.” His hand crept lower until he could feel her warm wetness and satisfy himself that she was ready for him.

She moaned in pleasure as his fingers probed. Her hips surged upwards craving his touch. Fire burned in her depths, and her need for him intensified.

“Sarah, look at me, open your eyes. I want to see what you feel.” The time for slow was over. He gently spread her thighs so she could feel the weight of him against her.

“Ohhh,” she gasped, hardly able to breathe. She felt awed by his generosity as he let her feel the velvet weight of him resting between her legs. “Now, please,” she gritted her teeth to keep from screaming in need. Her hips rocked in tiny up and down movements, rubbing against him.

“Yes, now,” Jareth’s voice was rough with desire as he positioned himself at her opening. “There may be some discomfort at first,” he tried to warn her, but she was beyond rational thought and reared up, impaling herself with one deep thrust.

“I love you,” her words came out gruff and breathy as sensations of pleasure were fed by the slight pain she felt at being completely filled for the first time. “You would never hurt me.”

“Oh my love,” Jareth tenderly brushed her hair away from her face as he fought to hold himself still deep within her, when every fiber of his being was begging to thrust hard and deep to find his own completion. Then he lost the battle and his hips moved while his lips took her mouth and plundered. He felt her hands pressing on his bottom, urging him deeper with each thrust.

“Jareth,” she cried out over and over again, as the world exploded around her. The only solid thing in her wild world was the man above her. As she was floating to earth to the exotic tune of tiny inner contractions she felt him thrust deeper than before. He groaned her name and she watched in amazement as he caught his breath and locked deep inside of her; joy transformed his face.
………………..


Share each day with me,
Each night
Each morning..
Say you love me…
You know I do…
Love me –
That’s all I ask of you
~ All I Ask Of You – Phantom of the Opera (Sarah Brightman)

Hours later Sarah woke up with her naked body intertwined with Jareth’s. After they’d made love the first time, the night had seemed to stand still. They had caressed and touched each other over and over again. Jareth had guided Sarah to all the gentle places where passion lived. “Good morning,” she smiled sleepily, her voice heavy with pleasure.

“It’s no longer morning, my love,” he continued stroking her skin as he’d done so often in the times when they held each other between lovemaking. “I can’t seem to be able to stop touching you.”

“Hhhmm, that’s all right with me.” Sarah snuggled closer. “I feel the same way about you.”

“You’re not sore are you?” He raised his head and looked her in the eyes. “We did get rather carried away, a number of times.” He grinned when he thought about how eager Sarah had been to explore different ways of finding and creating pleasure.

“We did, didn’t we?” She blushed and her breath caught. “But I’m fine. In fact, I wouldn’t mind starting all over again.” She leaned over and kissed a spot on Jareth’s neck that she’d discovered was particularly sensitive.

“Or we could try something completely new.” He rolled her beneath him and gripped her wrists with one hand, holding them high above her head. Last night he’d been the considerate lover, this morning he wanted to try something different. “How does my Lady like this position?” He grinned and nibbled on an exposed nipple as he kept her pinned to the bed.

Sarah’s chin dropped open in surprise, and her eyes flared with desire, but before she could answer, someone knocked on the door.

“Damn! This had better be important!” Jareth growled as he jumped out of bed and grabbed his black silk robe from where it had landed on the floor some time during their exuberance the night before.

Sarah shivered with desire and pulled the covers up over her shoulders even though she knew no one would be able to see her from the hallway door to the King’s chambers. She heard voices, Jareth’s at first terse, and then he was laughing. She hoped that whoever had knocked was not now doing the sidestroke through the Bog of Eternal Stench.

Moments later Jareth rounded the corner to the sleeping area with a tray in his hands, a large flat box under one arm and a hand-blown corked bottle under the other. He was struck again by Sarah’s beauty as she sat up with the sheet pulled to her shoulders and her long dark hair trailing down her back. Her lips were slightly swollen as if they had been well-kissed and her green eyes were dark with passion. “It was Declan,” he shrugged and then laughed. “No one else would have the nerve.”

“I can imagine.” She let the sheet drop as he put the tray on the bed and took off his robe before sliding in beside her.

“I couldn’t very well send him head first into the Bog when I’d asked him to bring me this,” he indicated the flat box, “as soon as it was ready. Besides he thought you’d need some nourishment after last night.”

“He didn’t say that, did he?” Sarah gasped, suddenly embarrassed.

“No, he said I was the one who needed the nourishment. Here try this. It isn’t that vile brew you Abovegrounders favor in the morning, but give it a try. It’s made from kava leaves that are ground until they’re very fine than steam is run through them.”

“This is good,” Sarah sipped the strong morning brew. It tasted like espresso with a hint of chocolate. “What else have you got there?” She reached out and took a bite of toast liberally covered with honey.

“You mean besides breakfast?” He held out the bottle of wine that Declan had handed over with the tray. “This, my dear, is one of the last few remaining bottles of 1533 Zinfandel, Elvish Special Reserve.”

“You won your bet!”

“I did and Declan paid up like the honorable Fae that he is.” Jareth reached behind him and handed the large flat box to Sarah. “This is your engagement present, the reason I was so late last night and the only reason I answered the door just now.” His eyes moved over her body, making her blush.

“Jareth…” Sarah’s breath caught in her throat and she put her cup and toast back down on the tray. “There’s no need. You’re all I’ve ever wanted. You don’t have to give me gifts.”

“I want to give you gifts.” He caressed her face. “Open it.”

Sarah’s fingers shook as she opened the box and then she could hardly breathe at what she saw. Nestled in midnight-blue velvet was an intricate platinum chain that contained five diamonds. The center one was the largest. It was a fourteen-carat brilliant-emerald-cut blue-white stone with a center of sapphire mixed with yellow diamond. The smaller, two-carat emerald-cut stones were placed as baguettes, flanking the middle one. Two on each side. “Are these the tears?”

“Yes, and it is fitting that the woman who helped set their sorrow free should be the first to wear them.” Jareth reached for the chain and fastened it around her neck. It was a perfect fit. “The four smaller ones are from my father, my grandfather and my mother. Since their power was unleashed to help kill the Curse, it is impossible to tell them apart. But ours,” he caressed the large stone that had been created when theirs fused together. “Our joined tear, there is no mistaking it and it is the only one that contains any magic anymore. It’s your magic.”

“I don’t have magic.” Sarah shrugged, confused.

“You have the magic of love and passion. You locked it away in your soul all those years, waiting for me. When I fought the power of the Curse I could feel it and it added to my strength. It was what caused our tears to become one. Never doubt your magic, Sarah, because I am a slave to it.”

“I love you,” her eyes began to fill at his beautiful words. “And suddenly I’m not very hungry.” She pushed aside the tray.

Jareth put it on the floor and watched his Queen-to-be as her eyes overflowed and tears ran down her face. “I think this is going to be a full time job,” he sighed with laughter in his voice. But instead of wiping away her tears and turning them into crystals, he held her face gently in his hands and licked away the salty tears that ran down her cheeks. “Hhhmm, what’s this I taste?” He grinned as his tongue flicked at the corner of her mouth. He remembered watching her take a bite of the honey-covered toast that had accompanied their morning brew. “You taste very sweet today.”

With a flick of his wrist her necklace was back in its box on the nightstand and he had the tub of honey in his hand.

“You like the taste of honey?” Sarah rose to her knees, than slid them apart to rest her bottom on the bed facing Jareth. She innocently dipped her finger into the container he was holding and swirled it around. With an impish expression she looked at Jareth from under her eyelashes as she stuck her finger in her mouth and began to slowly suck on it. She sighed daintily as her finger slid out of her mouth and the tip of her small pink tongue trailed up and down from her palm to her nail.

“You, madam, are a tease.” He growled, fascinated by the small licking motions she was making.

“Who, me?” She smiled and reached for the honey jar again, but before her hand could come in contact with it, she found herself pushed gently backwards until she was flat on her back with her wrists once again held above her head. Jareth had planted his body between her spread thighs. Her knees were still bent and she was almost sitting on her feet, while he kept her pinned to the bed with one hand. His body pressed into hers and he watched her face carefully to be sure he wasn’t expanding her boundaries too fast.

“Yes, you.” He ground out. Her body was open and his for the taking. If her dark eyes were any indication, they were both going to enjoy every minute of it. It was what he needed to see before he continued their new game. “There is punishment for little humans who tease a Goblin King.”

“Do I get a chance to win my freedom?” She purred as she watched him with anticipation. A bit unsure of herself, but confident that his love for her would guide them both.

“Never,” his voice was husky in her ear as he reached behind him for the belt of his robe and carefully tied her wrists to the intricate scrollwork sculpted into the ancient headboard. As his hands caressed her body he kissed her and watched for any doubt that might cloud her eyes, but found only desire.

“Jareth,” she gasped and her hips bucked against him when he picked up the honey pot and dripped a trail of the sweet amber liquid down her chest, and around her navel. When he continued on down to between her spread thighs to sweeten all her hidden places, she thought she was going to lose her mind.

He leaned across her to return the jar to the nightstand and then traced her lips with honey-covered fingers. A flash of pink was his only warning as she took his fingers deep into her mouth. “Sarah,” he groaned at her innocently seductive gesture. Her eyes fluttered closed as she lost herself in the pleasure of sucking all the sweetness from his skin.

“My turn,” his voice was a rough whisper, when she set his fingers free. He took one glistening nipple into his mouth and began to gently nibble on it, her breathing grew ragged and she twined her fingers into the belt above where it loosely held her wrists captive. “Ohhh, please,” she mewed and arched her back pushing herself closer to him, needing his touch, needing him.

He stopped what he was doing and grinned at her. “Are you enjoying your punishment, Sarah?”

All she could do was nod and try to remember to breathe as she was rocked with sensations.

“Good, because you’re such a delicious creature, my love. And I do want to bring you joy.” He leaned over and his tongue began to follow the line of sweetness wherever it led.

“I love you,” she whimpered as her body caught fire. She was out of control, and she could feel her need growing, but he kept her too tightly in place to do anything but cry out his name over and over again. She reveled in his power over her as she exploded into a million pieces.

“And I you,” Jareth’s voice was ragged with need as he felt her hit by deep internal contractions that went on and on as his tongue explored her sweetened skin.

Finally he couldn’t take it any more and drove his shaft deep into her slick hot folds.

On the nightstand, in a midnight-blue box, a huge diamond with a sapphire center glowed as the couple a few feet away burned with a passion and love that had united them for all time.
……………….


Carry me away and heal my mind
Flow on, river of time
Carry me away and heal my mind
Flow on, river of time
Flow on
Carry me away and heal my mind
~ River Of Time ~ Naomi Judd ~

Outside the window, where the sun shown brightly on the first new day in the Labyrinth, everything looked clean and unsullied. Its inhabitants sang as they worked. Joy had returned when the Curse was broken and even more joy seemed to be emanating from the Castle Beyond the Goblin City.

Flowers bloomed on branches and vines that had never blossomed before. Birds trilled and called exultantly in eager response to something in the air. Light was everywhere, driving out the dark creatures that had skulked in the deep hidden places and terrorized any who lost their way.

Ludo wandered happily along the trails of the Labyrinth, followed by an army of stones. He was going to visit his friend Sir Didymus and watch as the King’s carpenters built a strange wooden structure beside a silver spring that had once been the Bog of Eternal Stench.

By the outer wall of the Labyrinth, Hoggle picked flowers and wasn’t bothered by faeries as they flitted about. He carefully clutched his bouquet and neatened his hair under his cap. With a spring in his step and thoughts of his newly acquired title of Knight of the Labyrinth, he was off to court Agnes, the Junklady. She had captured his heart nine years ago, but he’d been too shy to say or do anything about it. He decided that if Jareth could win the woman of his dreams, he could too.

At that moment the Labyrinth was truly happy for the first time in its existence. It could feel the love and passion that its King had finally found with the human woman who was wrapped sleeping in his arms.

And Sarah and Jareth lived and loved forever.