She stood outside the Labyrinth, watched it spread in twists and turns, its earthy tones dry and crumbling under the baking sun.
She wondered if things had changed since she was last there. If what she last saw had been distorted by her youthful eyes, and it would be different now. Realer. As real as it could be, at least.
She wondered if the funny little goblins were now lurid creatures out of medieval bestiaries.
Whether the sparkling fairies were macabre confections of nightmarish exoskeleton.
Whether he, himself, was different.
But a trickster would always be a trickster, so on that, at least, she could count on.
As soon as she entered his Labyrinth he would know she was there. So she didn’t.
Instead she took a spyglass from her bag. A thing of gilded beauty and hard metal, extending as far as her ravenous curiosity.
She looked through it and searched the castle beyond the Labyrinth, its empty entrances and deserted windows.
She was about to give up when a quick turn of the wrist pointed her spyglass at the sun, blinding her.
With stars bursting in the hot darkness of her closed eyes, she waited a moment and looked again.
And there he was: pale, and strange, and fey.
Lean muscle and stringy tendon, with nothing left to spare, a thing of wild beauty just sitting at a window.
He was staring absently into his Labyrinth, so otherworldly and exquisite in his oddity, and Sarah wondered, in all the vanity and self-centeredness of her young years, if he thought of her.
It pleased her to think that she still tormented him, obsessed him, consumed him.
The sun caught the bright gold of her spyglass and Jareth sharply turned his head towards her, his focus intent like a predator of the skies.
Sarah placed her spyglass back in the bag and retreated. It wouldn’t do for him to see her now.
She left as a conqueror and she would return as a conqueror.
And a conqueror needed more power than she currently had.
Beyond the entrance to the Labyrinth, after a dry dusty walk, vegetation started growing, becoming thicker and a deeper green, and soon she stood before a dark wood.
Witches made their home in dark woods. When their power was too vast, when their knowledge was too deep and they unsettled the men in power.
She-wolves lurked in the dark woods, glittering eyes in the darkness, hungry mouths and the violence of a wolf mother protecting her pups. They walked around careless of their nakedness, their pelt tied around their waists, hairy skin licked clean of the blood of the men who dared to venture too far in.
Water nymphs inhabited the green stagnant pools, their long hair floating around them like swirls of ink, their eyes wide and innocent, their plump arms enticing men to the drowning depths, just like their mermaid sisters did at sea.
There were wood nymphs with skins that looked like deep brown bark and who waited for a weary traveller, a careless man trampling through the bright green foliage, who would rest for a moment and be strangled by her vines, soon vanished within the confines of her deep roots.
There were boar-women who fussed among the dark earth and waited for the hunters to come with all their eagerness for hot blood, juicy meat, and a dying breath fogging the frigid morning air, only to be gored to pieces and left to rot and sprout meaty mushrooms which the boar women devoured with lusty hunger.
There were spider-women weaving ghostly webs of glittering silk in dark caves, a beautiful gem in their centre, waiting for the greedy hands of men who, consumed by the galaxy of light shards the gem scattered around the cave, became blinded to the trap that awaited them and were thus siphoned of their filling, delicately liquefied by a poisonous biting kiss.
There were troll women who shook the woods with their heavy steps, great oaks shaking like young saplings, as they looked for bands of thieves and made hearty stews out of them, marrow slurped and skulls emptied as they supped.
The woods had always been a seat of female power.
And Sarah would make this seat hers.