Title: Muse
Author: RebelRebelMonster
Summary: "I'm afraid, Sarah, dear, that you have no choice in the matter," replied Jareth, eyes twinkling. He lounged back in his armchair and casually pulled a crystal from thin air. It danced between his fingertips. "The Labyrinth—and I—have chosen you. You are, in every sense of the word, our muse."
Genre: Romance/Drama
Disclaimer: I don't own Labyrinth—thanks, Jim Henson and Co., for this compelling story.
A/N: Well, here it is. It's long. Sorry I didn't post it last night, as you know, GoT season 4 was on. Anyway...feedback, please! Pretty please. (P.S. Eeeek, good catch Honoria Granger! All fixed, phew! Thanks!)

Chapter 10
Undisclosed Desires
You trick your lovers
That you're wicked and divine
You may be a sinner
But your innocence is mine
Please me, show me how it's done
Tease me, you are the one
I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognize your beauty's not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart
("Undisclosed Desires", The Resistance, Muse)

The next morning, Sarah rose in good spirits, happy at the prospect of finally leaving her confinement. Before she was allowed to roam the castle, however, she had to receive a clean bill of health from Rowan.

"Stop fidgeting, Sarah," Rowan said, chuckling, as he circled her like a hawk. She was standing in the middle of Jareth's bedroom, fully-dressed in her Aboveground clothes (which she had sternly requested be washed and returned to her, despite Ludie and Fauna's—her goblin caretakers—insistence upon throwing them out), impatiently waiting for Rowan to tell her she was free to be up and out the door.

"You have to admit, it's taking a while," Sarah whined. She knew she was acting like a teenager, but she didn't care. It had been over a week since she had been out of the room. The balcony didn't count. At the memory of the night before, she stiffened slightly, trying to push away the thought of Jareth's warm hand on her waist. Her throat felt very dry.

"Finished!" said Rowan. He ceased circling her like an orbiting planet, stopping in front of her with an infectious grin on his face. Sarah smiled back.

"You're looking well, my dear," he said, smile softening, "I'm very pleased with your improvement, though I have to say, I am somewhat sad. I've grown quite fond of our daily talks."

Sarah's smile widened.

"Well, then we'll just have to keep having them, won't we?" she said. Rowan laughed.

"Very well, very well," he replied, "Though I'm not sure I can promise daily; as you know, I travel quite often."

"Oh, that's right," Sarah said, frowning slightly, "I don't even know where you live, you know, permanently. Do you live in the Seelie kingdom up North, Rowan? Wow, I hope you haven't had to travel far to get here every day-"

"Not to worry, Sarah," Rowan interrupted her, "My permanent residence is here, in the Goblin King's domain. In the castle, actually—business, however, does often call me North, where the most humans reside. But don't fret, I shall promise to call on you as often as I am able—as long as you are willing, of course."

"Of course," said Sarah, chuckling, "I'd like that very much."

Rowan smiled.

"Lovely," he said, "Well, I'm off. Much to do. I'll try and visit soon, Sarah." With a wink, Rowan bowed himself out of the room. Once gone, Sarah set out for the library in high spirits.

By the time Sarah actually found the library again, however, her mood had taken a slight downturn. Finding it again had taken her ages, considering her last visit had been quite some time before, and that forced Sarah to realize she didn't exactly know how long she had been in the Underground. An unwelcome revelation, to be sure, but she resolved not to panic and simply make Jareth tell her how long he had been keeping her when they next met.

Upon entering the library, Sarah nearly lost her composure. She had forgotten how many books Jareth's castle housed. A self-professed book nerd, it took a lot of Sarah's self control to ignore the thousands of books begging her to devour them and to begin looking for something more substantial.

She imagined that the volume best-suited for her purpose would delve into the Underground's history, meaning it would most likely be large, heavy, and probably dusty. As Sarah began her search on the lowest of shelves, numerous complications blossomed in her mind. What if the book she was looking for was on one of the higher shelves? Sarah wasn't a pixie, but her 5 '6' frame wasn't exactly tall. Even if she had grown to Amazonian heights, she'd still have to be a giant to comfortably reach the top shelf—it was as high as the church-like ceiling.

Jareth probably just snaps his fingers and the book he wants flies toward him,Sarah thought, irritated, No need to ever worry about a powerless little human.

An image of Sarah's bathtub floated lazily to the surface of her mind, and Sarah suddenly had an idea. She didn't know if it could possibly work, but there was no harm in trying.

Turning away from the bookshelves, she approached one of the small tables that littered the library. Closing her eyes, she silently wished: Please show me the book with the history of the Underground.

Holding her breath, she blinked open her eyes. Her mouth popped open in silent incredulity.

There on the table in front of her sat 14 identical books, fat, but not dusty or worn. In fact, they were pristine—perfectly preserved to stand the test of time. They were in numerical order, beginning with zero.

Sarah shook her head in an effort to dispel her own disbelief. Slowly, she sat down in the chair in front of the books and lightly grabbed the book labeled "0". Curiously, she opened it to the first page, and began to read:

The History of the Underground

i.e. Faerie,

(a world created by and for the people of Magick

and long sought-after by their covetous kinsmen,

the Race of Man).

The Underground, the Otherworld, was created to separate Man from Fae, for Man coveted the Magick the Fae possessed, and hence sought to destroy them for it. The creatures that here reside were born into existence the same as Man, for it was Man that created them.

T.W.M.

Sarah turned the page, eager for more, and also dying to know who T.W.M. could be. The next page divided the lands into kingdoms and realms:

Sidhe; The Seelie Kingdom (3-364)

Elven Realm (365-416)

Dwarf Villages (417-504)

Dragon Territory (505-561)

The Goblin Kingdom & The Labyrinth (562-803)

The Marshes (804-857)

The Woodlands (858-1000)

Not bothering to read the rest of the list (time for that later), Sarah quickly turned the pages in order to find page 562. After skimming past another table of contents divvying up the chapter into sections, she perked up after spotting Jareth's name:

...as referenced in previous chapters, The Goblin Kingdom is home to the numerous species of Goblins that inhabit the Underground, and ruled by High Prince Jareth, younger brother to Seelie King Tyrnan. Of the numerous realms that populate the Underground, the Kingdom of Goblins is one of the oldest, along with the curious lands surrounding the small city; otherwise known as The Labyrinth.

Contrary to much rumor and speculation as to which came first, it was the Goblin settlement that came before the mighty Labyrinth. However, it should be noted that prior to the creation of the Labyrinth, the settlement was entrenched in disarray and chaos. Goblins are, by their nature, clever creaturesin fact much more clever than initially perceived (more detail in Section f)though without proper stimulation, are prone to destruction. Thus, Seelie King Tyrnan appointed his brother, Jareth, as King of the Goblins in the Year 0173.

After assuming his throne, High Prince Jareth, notorious for his magical prodigy and his highly controversial view of the Race of Man in the Seelie kingdom, built his Labyrinth, weaving within its impenetrable magic the dreams of humanity, of which he is the Keeper and Creator.

It is said that High Prince Jareth created the Labyrinth for two purposes, though only one is widely accepted as fact: to serve as a test of will for all wished-away humans to bear if they so choose. It is through this test, or series of obstacles, that they may recover their freedom to the Aboveground.

The second reason, of course, is less credible: that the King of the Goblins created the Labyrinth to keep King Tyrnan at a safe distance. This, however, is only speculation, and has never been verified with anything more substantial than whispers and murmurs.

Sarah frowned, biting her lip, and blankly stared at the words on the page for a few more moments before deciding to look for something a little more specific. After skimming several more pages, she found something:

The Labyrinth is more than a mere maze. It is a sentient being, held in control by the Goblin King, and very much apart of him, for he is its Brother. It can move and change all on its own, and often does so in order to manipulate or obstruct those that walk its paths. It can create, and it can destroy; it is home to many a creature, most who devote their lives to do its bidding, which is often to thwart the progress of any runner who attempts to solve it. This is the test of will and perseverance runners must face in order to learn the power of words and wishes and dreams. Indeed, the Goblin King even obscured all trace of stars in the sky, so that runners may not rely on the heavens to guide them through the Labyrinth.

"So that's why," Sarah murmured to herself. Despite her soft volume, her voice seemed to echo. Absentmindedly, she tucked a fallen hair behind her ear, before flipping back to read the entire section devoted to the Labyrinth and its King.

.

...

.

Once Jareth had been informed by Sarah's goblin maids that she had been moved from his bedchamber back to her own, he set out for the room immediately. He had been happy to give Sarah the room for her recovery, but was also pleased to have it back. It was one of the primary places within his castle he knew he would not be disturbed.

Upon reaching his destination; however, he was proven mistaken when he found Rowan there, his back to the door, seemingly staring off into space. Upon hearing Jareth enter, he jumped around, clearly startled.

"Your Majesty!" he said, "My apologies—I promised Sarah that I would try calling again this afternoon—I wasn't sure where to find her now, actually…"

Jareth raised an eyebrow.

"I was under the impression she had been moved back to her room in the North tower; however, she also mentioned plans to visit the library today."

Rowan looked at him curiously.

"When did she mention that? If you don't mind me asking," he added on. Jareth smirked.

"Last night."

This time, it was Rowan who quirked an eyebrow.

"Does this mean that Sarah has returned your feelings, Your Majesty?" he asked, his tone politely incredulous.

Jareth frowned. Without answering, he strode past Rowan onto the balcony. Upon seeing the spot in the daylight, he couldn't help but remember the feeling of his hand wrapped around Sarah's waist. His frown was unknowingly replaced with a wistful little smile.

Rowan had followed him out the balcony, fixing him with an amused gaze. Jareth dropped the smile.

"No. I merely helped her out here, to the balcony, for some fresh air."

Rowan's grin fell away.

"She does, however, seem to be thawing slightly," admitted Jareth, turning his gaze away from the young healer. While Rowan was one of his few true friends, he was still altogether uncomfortable discussing such intimacies. He knew it was no secret to anyone in his kingdom the feelings he harbored for Sarah; nevertheless, he was careful to never confirm them as truth, both for his own pride, and now, especially, so that Sarah was not put in any unnecessary danger.

Of course, if she accepted her role as Queen, she would never need worry about such things.

Rowan chuckled.

"The girl is a stubborn one, I'll give you that."

"Stubborn?" asked Jareth incredulously, "She's more than a bit stubborn, Rowan. After all I have done for her, including explaining why she cannot go back, she continues to torment me, and flat-out refuses to even consider that I may be acting in her best interest."

Rowan sighed.

"Your Majesty, have you never considered what she may be feeling?"

Jareth shot him a sour look.

"Of course I have. I have considered her feelings for a very long time, as you well know, Rowan."

"That's not what I meant," persisted Rowan, his tone patient, "I meant, simply, have you considered everything that has transpired from her point of view? Not what she must do, however prudent it may be, or even her feelings toward you, but the weight of the burden that's been placed upon her shoulders."

Silence fell between the two of them for a few moments until Jareth spoke.

"I have."

"And have you communicated to Sarah that you understand why she might be having difficulty accepting her life here?"

Jareth scowled.

"It is not so simple, Rowan."

"Perhaps not," Rowan said quietly, "After all, admittedly, I know less of love than you do, Jareth. But of what I know of Sarah, and humanity in general, I say this to you: you will not win her heart if she does not know that you covet it, or that you see her as anything more than advantageous."

"You think she believes me indifferent to her? That her role as Queen is merely useful to me?" Jareth asked, anger coloring his voice.

"I believe she has painted you with the colors of an adversary, though she becomes less and less certain, particularly after your rescue of her from Lilu's cave."

"Madness," muttered Jareth, "She refuses to see what is plainly in front of her."

"Perhaps you must be more direct."

The next look Jareth shot at Rowan was cold and calculating, though, if one looked closely enough, they would see a touch of pain behind his eyes.

"Again, Rowan, it is not so simple."

"Indeed," agreed Rowan, looking away from his King and out into the Labyrinth, "But the time for acts of spite and revenge are beyond you. Do not let your pain ruin what you could foster. It is time to treat Sarah as the Queen she will become, rather than the girl who spurned you. Only then will she see herself as such."

Had it been anyone else that had spoken those words to the King, they might not have indulged in another breath. Thankfully, all that Rowan received was another appraising look before Jareth nodded at him in clear dismissal.

.

...

.

He was there again, watching her. He always seemed to be watching her. But it didn't mean what it used to; it was somehow...different from before. She would be lying if she said it was and always had been unwelcome. No, that had never been true. Instead, the change was more that she was now more likely to admit that she had lied.

There they were, staring at each other from across an empty room. In what felt like no time at all, he was in front of her; close. She closed her eyes. Softly, he pressed his lips to her forehead. Next, her right cheek, then the left. One eyelid, the other. Both ears. The crook of her neck.

She wasn't sure where she was anymore; she was lost to the sensation. Her breathing became labored as she felt his lips move to her own, and the kisses were more insistent now, and she was kissing him back…

"Sarah?"

Sarah woke with a jolt, bolting upright so quickly from her seat slumped over the library table that upon blinking open her bleary eyes, her world spun. Heart still beating rather rapidly, she put a hand on the table to steady herself before turning to look at noneother than the Goblin King.

There he stood next to her little table, in all of his regal glory. Truth be told, he almost looked casual compared to his usual attire; he was adorned in dark blue and black, his odd pendant gleaming at his chest.

She couldn't help it; her face flushed a deep pink. Jareth noticed, quirking an eyebrow.

"Are you alright, Sarah? I apologize for waking you so...abruptly."

"S'all right," she mumbled, looking away from him. Pull yourself together, she thought, he doesn't know what you were dreaming about. He can't see the dream unless you let him.

"I thought you were visiting the library to learn more about the Underground, not nap," remarked Jareth, "I hope you still find your old room adequate. Perhaps you grew too attached to my bed."

Sarah looked back at him, preparing to scowl, until she noticed what seemed to be a suppressed smile on his face. He was teasing her. Slightly taken aback, she settled for a shrug as her response. Just as she opened her mouth to ask him why he had woken her, a giant BOOM shook the entire library, causing her to jump, and Jareth to move almost frightfully fast towards her, resting a gloved hand on her shoulder.

"Just a little thunder," he said, looking to the far end of the massive hall, where the only windows were located; the rest of the walls were devoted to shelves of books. Sarah followed his gaze. Sure enough, thick raindrops were pelting the windows. A bolt of lightning flashed across the dark, starless sky. It was amazing that she hadn't been woken by that.

"It is curious, though, this storm," said Jareth slowly, "We do not often receive such weather here, not without a runner present."

"Why?" asked Sarah.

"They shape this world as much as you or I do," Jareth said simply.

Nodding, Sarah looked down at his hand on her shoulder, and fought back a nervous gulp. He noticed her look, and removed his hand, retreating a few steps back from her.

"What time is it?" asked Sarah.

"Nearly time for supper," supplied Jareth, eyes still flitting back and forth between her and the windows, "That is why I came to wake you. Despite being free from bed rest, it is still important that you eat, Sarah. You're still regaining your strength."

This time, it was Sarah's turn to raise an eyebrow. He was being awfully...considerate, in a way. Well, maybe what she was about to ask for would be better received than she had hoped...

"Oh," she said, "Okay. Are you, er, busy tonight?"

Surprise blossomed on Jareth's face.

"No," he said slowly. He seemed unable to take his eyes off of her. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well," she started, somehow managing to maintain eye contact, "I was hoping we could, er, talk. I mean, I have a few questions." Her eyes found the books still sprawled out on the table in front of her.

Jareth was still watching her.

"I see," he said, folding his hands behind his back, "Well, then perhaps it would be best if we took our supper here in the library. I'm prepared to offer you something of an exchange, Sarah. I will answer any question you pose me, if you promise to do the same. Additionally, your answer must be truthful."

Sarah frowned, brow furrowing in thought. Was it worth the risk? What if he asked about what Lilu had shown her?

"Okay," she said finally, "On two conditions."

"Name your terms."

"We each get one question that we can refuse to answer, and you can't lie, either," she said. She couldn't keep the proud smirk from sliding onto her face. Let's see him try to wriggle his way out of this one.

"I have never lied to you, Sarah," said Jareth, his face suddenly quite serious. Sarah's smile faded slightly, but she said nothing.

"Done."

Roughly thirty or so minutes later, they sat across from each other at a table next to the one still littered with books detailing the history of the Underground. Half-eaten plates sat in front of them. Neither had truly spoken in the brief time that had passed; somehow, though, the silence wasn't awkward. In fact, to Sarah, it felt charged with something she couldn't put her finger on.

"So," she started, watching Jareth as he cut a piece of chicken for himself.

"Ladies first," he replied, taking a bite.

Sarah let out an anxious sigh. Everything would be fine if she stuck to her game plan. She just had to ease into everything—at this point, she wanted to avoid any confrontation if she could.

"How long have I been here, in the Underground?" she asked. Jareth considered her.

"An interesting question," he replied, "Though not altogether unexpected, of course. It is difficult to answer with too much certainty. What I can tell you is that time moves much more slowly here in the Underground than it does in the world of humans. A week here may be a month or a year there; there is no direct method of determining how long without journeying to the Aboveground for comparison."

Sarah's heart sank.

"Then how do you explain how time passed when I was here last time? I came here and thirteen hours passed, but when I...went home, it had only been about three," she persisted.

"In that case, Sarah, you were a runner, and so I reordered time in case you bested my Labyrinth," said Jareth, his voice slightly colder. "Now, time flows the way it should here, and the way it should there."

"Am I just...missing there, then?" she asked, fighting to keep her voice steady as she thought of her parents, and of Toby, "Do the people who know me know that I'm gone?"

Jareth seemed to hesitate in his answer, his eyes searching hers.

"Yes."

Sarah nodded, biting her lip, and looked down at her plate. One fat tear rolled down her cheek as she fought to compose herself. Regardless of how miserable her life had been in the Aboveground, the idea that she was causing her family pain by effectively abandoning them was still terrible.

"Sarah," Jareth said softly. She didn't look back up. There was a giant lump in her throat she needed to get rid of first.

"I do not wish to upset you by telling you this," he continued, his tone surprisingly gentle.

"Well," she muttered, forcing herself to look at him again, "I suspected as much. Okay. Your question."

He was still looking at her intently, but pressed on nevertheless.

"Do you miss them?"

"What?" asked Sarah, surprised.

"Your family," clarified Jareth, "Or any of the others you knew there, your friends. Tell me of that life."

"Why do you want to know?" she asked. The Goblin King inclined his head politely, but said nothing, only stared at her.

"Of course I do," she said somewhat heatedly, her voice rising, "Toby most of all. My brother."

"I remember Toby," said Jareth, somewhat impishly. A ghost of a grin danced on his lips before Sarah gave him a look, to which he arranged his features back into a polite mask.

"I miss my parents," continued Sarah, "I miss my students…"

"Students?" asked Jareth sharply.

"Yes," said Sarah, "That's what I did there. I taught small children, and went to school. I was almost finished getting my Masters degree."

"A high-order academic certification?" Jareth asked shrewdly.

"Yes," confirmed Sarah. "I didn't get to see my parents or Toby much, going to school and working in Boston—which is this big city I lived in—but it was still good. Rewarding, I guess."

"Was it?" he asked. Sarah remembered then that Jareth had somehow known that she had been something of a pariah in her world.

"It was," she said firmly, "The work was. My turn." He nodded.

"How did you know that the other...that I didn't fit in Aboveground?" She felt she already knew the answer, but she was looking for a clarification; wanted to hear him say it.

"I have told you," he said, "You were marked with magic after your first trip through the Labyrinth, and thus, you became unmade for the world you were born into. You could exist there, live and breathe and die, but life would not be the same, would not be right. This will have affected all of your relationships with other humans; particularly those set ill at ease by the presence of magic."

"Children always liked me, though," she said softly.

"Yes," said Jareth, "But human children see magic in all things; until they age, at least. The human world represses it."

Sarah didn't quite know how to respond to that. Part of her wanted to defend her world, while another part of her—the part of her that had donned a pretty costume and recited the words from Labyrinth determinedly in a neighboring park—knew he was undeniably correct.
She contented herself with silence.

"So, apart from your family and your students, did you have no other companions?" asked Jareth. Sarah tensed, stung.

"No," she said tersely, "Thanks for that, by the way."

Jareth frowned slightly.

"While I will not deny that my Labyrinth was the cause of that particular unhappiness, I will not myself take direct blame," he said coolly, "I empathize. I quite understand loneliness, believe it or not, my dear Sarah. It is not something I would wish on anyone, particularly you."

"Why particularly me?" she asked.

Having finished his meal, Jareth pushed his empty plate to the side and propped his arms up on the table, leaning in closer to her.

"Contrary to what you may think, Sarah, I do not wish for you to suffer," he said, his tone hovering somewhere between carefully controlled and irate, "So, hopefully, I can put your mind at ease: you cannot judge any of the relationships you had in the Aboveground with any real conviction, because those humans never had a chance at knowing the true you. It is through no fault of their own, or of yours, that they withdrew from you. This is the steep price of magic; of power; something I can tell you I know very intimately."

Again, Sarah didn't know what to say. Looking down at her hands, she saw they were shaking slightly. To be sure, it was a relief to know that who she was had no bearing on how her life had been Aboveground, how lonely it had been. But to know that she shared this with Jareth...

"Might I ask the next question?"

She nodded.

"What will you miss most?"

"What do you mean?" asked Sarah, "And that doesn't count as a question."

Jareth's lips twitched as he nodded in agreement.

"To clarify—if there was anything I could bring to you, here, from the Aboveground, what would it be? Understand, I cannot bring you your family; not without being wished away, but a trinket, perhaps."

"You would do that?" asked Sarah, eyes wide.

"Perhaps," he said softly.

"Why?"

"Answer first."

She paused.

"Can I think about it?"
He nodded.

"Why, then?"

Jareth sighed, sounding slightly irritated. Quite abruptly, a crystal appeared in his left palm. He absentmindedly twirled it between his fingertips.

"I am merely trying to provide you some comfort," he said slowly, eyes still fixed on hers, "You may ask the next question."

"Okay," she said, trying to organize her thoughts. She didn't have as much control over the conversation as she would have liked, but at least they hadn't started shouting at each other.
Yet, she thought.

"Why did you create the Labyrinth?"

At that, the crystal stopped spinning, and a flicker of pleasure crossed Jareth's features.

"My, my," he cooed, "How interesting. I take it this question was inspired by your reading?"
She thought about telling him to answer the question first, but instead, just nodded.

"Very well," he said, the crystal resuming its dance, "I created the Labyrinth for many reasons, the most important of which, to protect the goblins and their city. But I assume that is not the reason you're interested in."

"No," agreed Sarah, "I want to know why the Labyrinth is so powerful and why you made it that way. Did you really create it to keep your brother out? Why would you do that? What happened between you two? And what does it have to do with humans?"

Jareth's smile widened. Sarah was surprised; she had expected him to be much more resistant.

"So many questions, Sarah. You needn't worry; since they are part of your larger question, I will answer. Listen carefully. As with all things, I must start at the beginning: I was given the task of ruling over the goblins for one purpose, and one purpose only—to be out of the way of my brother, Tyrnan."

As he began recounting his personal history, his smile slipped away.

"Tyrnan is a tyrant, and it suits him, as he is King of the Seelie. Before I was banished to the Goblin Kingdom, I made it known that I did not approve of the way the Seelie were rounding up humans. You may have come across some of this in your lore Aboveground, but throughout history, the Fae have been just as unkind to humanity as humanity has been to them. Hence, the need for the Underground. Once here, however, the Fae still delighted in stealing humans, seeing it as sport; most often children from their mothers, replaced with changelings."

"And you opposed that?" asked Sarah. She had a hard time keeping the surprise out of her voice, which led to Jareth fixing her with somewhat of a contemptuous stare.

"Yes. I opposed and still oppose the needless oppression of the innocent."

"Even humans?" asked Sarah.

"Do not sound so surprised, Sarah, darling," Jareth drawled, a bite in his voice now, "I am not entirely unfeeling, despite my race. I take only the humans that are wished away, and I give them a choice. This is the magic I set in motion after my brother banished me here; to make certain that only those humans who were wished away could journey to the Underground, and once they did, they would be given the chance to find a way back. It was preferable to their lives being stolen from them entirely; to living lives in which they could never truly regain their freedom."

"Why create the Labyrinth at all, then?" asked Sarah, "Couldn't you just send them back yourself?"

A shadow crossed over Jareth's face.

"This is not the way of magic, Sarah. It is a great feat to return to what we knew after wishing for something else entirely, and having that wish granted. The human saying 'Be careful what you wish for', is it? is very apt. Remember—there is always a lesson to be learnt, and always, always a price to be paid. Not even I can change that."

Sarah stared at him for a few moments, unspeaking. He didn't even flinch. Sarah cleared her throat.

"All right," she said.

"Good," said Jareth, his tone still somewhat frosty, "As I was saying...this was the source of my and my brother's estrangement; our different opinions of humankind. My subsequent creation of the Labyrinth only further poisoned our relationship. I knew he would not dare enter, not without my consent."

"How could you be sure?" asked Sarah. This time, Jareth actually smiled, but it didn't seem to reach his eyes.

"I designed the Labyrinth just so."

"So it's true, then?" asked Sarah, "One of the reasons you created the Labyrinth was to keep him at a safe distance?"

Jareth inclined his head once more.

"Is he afraid of you?"

Jareth's smile widened.

"Yes."

"Why is he?" asked Sarah, "Why is the Labyrinth so powerful?"

"Do you no longer find me intimidating, Sarah?" Jareth teased her again, smirking. Sarah frowned.

"Is this the question you won't answer, then?" she asked. Jareth's smirk faded.

"I know my brother well; even after all this time," he began, "His fears, his weaknesses. He is not immune to the desolation of dreams, or the uprising of nightmares. He knows this, and for this he is wise not to meddle in my affairs, and to stay well away from here. As for the Labyrinth..."

Sarah, already extremely interested in the conversation, sat up a little straighter in her eagerness to understand better.

"What did it say in these books? Forgive me, I am curious," he said, smirking again.

Sarah furrowed her brow, trying to remember exactly.

"It said something about how you made it out of the dreams of humans," she recalled, "And that you even took away the stars, so that runners couldn't use them to navigate their way to the center."

"You solved that particular riddle, then," he drawled, "Though the stars are not truly gone, just hidden."

"What about the dreams of humans makes the Labyrinth so strong?" asked Sarah.

"An excellent question," replied Jareth, "The Fae believe that humanity is beneath them for their lack of magic. And, truthfully, were we to compare and contrast the two races, we would find that the Fae do possess many of the traits most humans covet: immortality, beauty, the use of magic-"

"But-" Sarah interrupted.

"Yes, but." Jareth agreed, nodding, "But my kind also cannot truly be called perfect beings. Our greatest weakness, perhaps, is our penchant for what humans consider cruelty, or…" Quite abruptly, Jareth stopped speaking. His eyes hardened, and he looked away from her.

"Or what?" she asked. For some inexplicable reason, part of her was afraid to know the answer.

"The Fae do not easily love," he said, his voice stiff.

"Oh," said Sarah. Despite the full supper she had eaten throughout the conversation, her stomach felt oddly empty all of a sudden.

"It is not impossible, just rare," continued Jareth, his voice relaxing slightly. He was looking at her again, his eyes boring into hers intently, "The differences between our respective races notwithstanding, the issue of superiority is all only a matter of opinion, if you believe it matters at all. But there is another important fact to consider in all of this, when debating such matters of superiority and hierarchy: who came first, Fae, or man?"

"The book said…said that man created the Fae. Is that true?" asked Sarah.

Jareth grinned lightly again, his eyes dancing with something secret.

"Another time, perhaps."

For some reason, Sarah didn't press him. She wasn't sure she wanted to know.

"More importantly, it doesn't necessarily matter, Sarah," continued Jareth, "Just imagine that it was true. This would make humans my kinsmen's Gods, and yet, they regard them as barely more than slaves. It is the belief that mattered, in the beginning. And now...nothing is certain anymore," he trailed off, finally breaking eye contact and gazing off into the space behind her.

For a few moments, neither one spoke. Their eyes found each other again, and, finally, Sarah spoke.

"I think I've got one last question. But I'm afraid it might require a long answer."

"Do tell," said Jareth.

She hesitated.

"I...I'm curious about the other parts of the Underground, the other kingdoms and lands. Do you ever go there? To see the dragons, or the elves?"

She was smiling now; she couldn't help it. While so much of her wanted to go home, there was still a very large part of Sarah that longed for the fantasy, to see the creatures that had, for so long, occupied her imagination.

Jareth's eyes widened in slight surprise, and he smiled back, this time, genuinely, the smile touching his eyes. Even Sarah could admit, he had a beautiful smile.

"Yes. I would be happy to take you with me."

"Really?" asked Sarah, smile widening, "Even the Seelie kingdom?"

Jareth's smile faltered slightly.

"I would, in time," he said, "After proper precautions were made."

"Precautions?" asked Sarah.

"Yes," said Jareth, "To the Fae, you are still just a human, Sarah. I would prefer to wait until after you are Queen to make that particular visit."

Something seemed to slide back into place in Sarah's brain.

"Queen," she said quietly, "...right. If I stay here."

Jareth's smile vanished, but amazingly, he did not contradict her. Sarah saw this as an opportunity.

"When you say Queen, you mean…" she started.

Jareth's face was a perfect mask, but still, he answered.

"Ideally, my wife."

Sarah's eyebrows shot so far up that she imagined they reached her hairline. Somehow, despite everything that had happened and all she already knew about Jareth's plans for her, she hadn't thought of that.

"Oh."

"I assure you, Sarah, it would not be so miserable as you likely have pictured in that pretty little head of yours," said Jareth, his tone mocking, "You would have your own power, remember."

"Yeah, that's just what all the girls want to hear when they're being proposed to," retorted Sarah sarcastically.

Jareth ignored her retort. After a few more moments of strained silence, Sarah finally decided on an exit strategy.

"It's your question, if you want it."

He was silent for a few more breaths. For what felt like the millionth time since she had come back to the Underground, Sarah felt that the intensity of his gaze would burn her somehow.

Finally, he leaned even further into her, his voice low.

"Sarah, what did Lilu show you?"

She was prepared for the question; knew he would ask again, and had her answer ready.

"That's the question I won't answer."

This time, Jareth betrayed his frustration at her refusal. A scowl blossomed on his lips as he leaned back into his chair, putting the most distance between them since they began their conversation.

"I cannot say I am surprised," he said slowly, his tone clipped. She could tell he was choosing his words with caution. "Such a private thing to ask. Please...forgive my curiosity."

Sarah nodded.

"Well," he said, standing, "You had your last query, and I, mine. Shall we retire?"

Sarah started to stand, too, until, quite suddenly, she felt as if something hard had slammed into her stomach as she realized something, something undeniably important. How had it taken her so long to...?

"Sarah?"

"Jareth," she said, her voice soft; unnervingly calm. She remained seated, looking up at him.

"Why did you give me the peach?"

He stared at her, his expression unfathomable.

"Are you going to answer me?" asked Sarah quietly.

"You know why I gave it to you," replied Jareth, "To make you forget."

"No," continued Sarah, "I know. That wasn't what I meant. Why did you give me the peach, knowing that I would never be able to leave after taking a bite?"

.

...

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A/N: CLIFFHANGER! Haha I should warn you, you're caught up to me now, so updates may be less frequent. But I am currently working on chapter 11, so any feedback would be great. Also, I have completely outlined the story, so I have no doubt I will finish it...updates just may not be as frequent. I should also mention, I will likely be busy the next few weeks as I am moving, as well as still settling into my new job. But hey, reviews can do wonders...-wink- Only sort of kidding. Thanks everyone for their amazing support in the form of follows, favorites, and most of all, reviews! You guys rock. - RebelRebel