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."
Disclaimer: I don't own Labyrinth—thanks, Jim Henson and Co., for this compelling story.
A/N: Hey guys! Again, this took what felt like forever...and it's weird, because it's a short little chapter. I do have reasons, though, promise! A lot, actually. I'll give you the short version: I got offered a job in Seattle, which is mighty far away from my current city of Chicago, and I accepted it, so there's been a lot of real-life legwork accepting the job, quitting my current job, subleasing my apartment, moving out of my apartment, buying a car to move with, etc. And it's not over yet! But I've tried to keep up...hopefully (and I think you will) you'll like this installment. Let me know by kindly leaving a review. If I need to entice you further, my birthday was Friday. ;)
I, I can't get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
And I, I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah
I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you mean.
And now I need to know is this real love,
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?
And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had,
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah
And now I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you need...
Yes I know, I can be wrong,
Maybe I'm too headstrong.
Our love is
("Madness", The 2nd Law, Muse)
After a few beats of intimate silence, Jareth let her go, but he only retreated far enough away so that he was looking into her eyes, his hands grasped holding hers. She could still feel him, his pain and his pleasure, but most of all, the desire for penance.
Finally, he spoke.
"I'm sorry, Sarah," he murmured, dropping his eyes from hers, the pain threatening to crash over him (and her, too) again. "I did not know the pain would manifest physically...or hurt you so badly."
Sarah didn't say anything. She wasn't sure what to say. When he raised his eyes to hers again, she opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the door creaking open. Startled, they both looked toward the door to see an even more surprised Rowan standing there.
"Oh!" Rowan exclaimed, eyes moving back and forth between them, "I...er...I apologize, Your Highness; Sarah, I..." Sarah instantly felt Rowan's discomfort tickle her insides at the awkward situation; and while his feelings weren't nearly as strong as Jareth's, the added pressure didn't help relieve the tightness still in her chest.
Jareth stood, gently guiding Sarah up with him, his hands still holding hers.
"No need to apologize, Rowan," Jareth said, "I was merely waiting for you here when Sarah came to call. Isn't that right, Sarah?"
He looked at her again, his eyes imploring, and Sarah felt his heart seems to skip a beat. This is maddening, she thought.
"I can go," said Rowan, beginning to turn away, "I didn't mean to interrupt-"
"No," said Sarah, extending a hand out to him, causing her to drop one of Jareth's hands. A white-hot surge of envy shot through her, and the Goblin King's grip on her right hand grew a bit tighter.
"What is it, Sarah?" asked Rowan. She looked between him and Jareth, trying desperately to ignore the surging stream that was now the tangled emotions of both Jareth and Rowan within her chest.
"I'll go," she said, her eyes finding Jareth's again, "Let me go. Just for a little while. I'm…"
Her voice died, and then Jareth realized—she felt it.
"Yes, go," he agreed. He took a moment to glance down at their entwined hands for a moment before looking up at her again. Seemingly uncaring of Rowan's presence, he leaned into her, gently grabbing her chin with his free hand so that their lips were inches apart.
"Do not stray too far, Sarah. I will be waiting for you."
At that, she felt a rush to her head and her heart, though she couldn't say who any of it belonged to. She nodded.
"Thank you," she murmured, squeezing his hand slightly before letting it go. It was then that she remembered she was still holding his pendant. Before turning to leave, she pressed it back into his palm with a meaningful look.
She spared a brief, apologetic glance for Rowan before hurrying out of the door without looking back. Both men watched her depart before turning to look at one another.
"Jareth," Rowan said seriously, "What's happened? Is she alright? Are you alright?"
"Fine," murmured the Goblin King, his eyes still transfixed on the spot where Sarah had left, "Well, better, perhaps. Much has happened. Sarah has…" The right side of his mouth perked up in a strange little smirk.
"Sarah has…?" Jareth finally tore his eyes away from the door, looking at his healer.
"It seems she has cultivated a new ability, likely from her visit to Queen Lilu's cave. The magic has finished permeating her soul."
"What?" asked Rowan, his eyes wide, "So soon?"
"Yes," nodded Jareth, looking down at the pendant in his palm, "And it is quite formidable. She can feel and manipulate the emotions of others."
Rowan watched the Goblin King as he whispered a few Sidhe words, mending the chain of the pendant before putting it back in place around his neck.
"You don't mean…" he started. Jareth looked back up at him.
"I do," he said grimly, "She tried to see my heart. So I showed it to her, unencumbered. And, now, she's gone again."
It took Rowan a few moments to respond.
"But you heard her. She needs time. I'm sure what you showed her was-"
"I know," Jareth interrupted curtly, beginning to pace the length of the room, wringing his hands, "I do not mean that my impatience is justified, Rowan. I hurt her. The pain…I meant only to give her what she wanted; what you advised I do...but the pain pierced her physical form, and more deeply than I thought possible..."
"And now she understands," said Rowan sharply, taking a few steps closer to his King, "Remember, she sought that understanding. Doesn't that mean something, that she wanted to see? It was her choice."
"Yes," admitted the Goblin King. He ceased pacing, looking down at his ungloved hands.
"But that fact does not bring me any solace, so why should it for her? After this, can I blame her for wanting away from me? In my selfish heart, she is all I want...but I could even live with her hatred if it meant she would stay. What if, now that she has a taste of the pain of power, she flees? It is even worse to imagine losing her again, only to see her return to a world without magic where she will suffer further, and lose herself to madness."
"Jareth," said Rowan quietly, moving closer to his King, "She can't go back. She knows she can't."
Briefly, Jareth looked Rowan in the eye.
"Magic has its limits, Rowan. As for Sarah..."
Sarah didn't go back to her room. Instead, she ran out into the night, wanting to get further and further away from any feelings that weren't hers. At first, it seemed impossible with the number of little and large goblins she passed by throughout the castle and the city, but eventually, she made it far enough on foot that she was back inside the Labyrinth itself, finally, blissfully, alone.
This little journey was almost dream-like in its pace; she moved almost seamlessly from the city to lush gardens just a bit south of the citadel at the center, all without truly seeing where she was going, or how she was getting there.
If she had cared to ponder it, she would realize that she had perhaps learned more of this place than any human had a right to. Then again, if any human had the right, it was her.
She stopped running when she reached a garden path overgrown with massive onyx hydrangeas roughly the size of her head. Her footsteps echoed as she walked, her breathing finally returning to normal. Vaguely, she wondered if Hoggle tended to these gardens; the flora was beautiful in its dark wildness, and she felt lucky to have to found this part of the Labyrinth at all.
That, and distinctly relieved to have only her own feelings again.
Despite her welcome solitude, the pain was still there, inching its way back to the forefront of her mind. Apart of her wanted to shut it out forever, but she knew she wouldn't. She couldn't. She had seen the world out of her new eyes now, and there was no going back once you could truly understand what a person was, and how they came to be that way.
Lightly, she let her fingertips brush a few of the large flowers as she traveled the path, her pace slowing. How could she have been so oblivious?Her small face contorted into a grimace. Jareth's pain was only an echo, now; but that didn't make it any less immeasurable, or any less overwhelming.
He wants me, she thought, the realization finally sinking in, filling a hollow part of her with a strange buzzing feeling, he wants me because he really is in love with me.
While before it seemed unbelievable, now, she knew better. She had felt it, after all, clear as day and dark as night; a blackened, bruised love that was almost toxic, burning a gaping hole inside of him, and for a time, her too. It hadn't been anything like she had imagined it could be, but was somehow better and worse at the same time.
She didn't know when he had started loving her, exactly; he had kept their first interactions to himself, but she had seen that he had loved her even when she was a stubborn, awkward teenager, barely more than a child, and of course she hadn't seen it then, no, not when she had fancied him as her villain. In their years apart, they had both suffered in silence and loneliness, separate but never truly free of the other. He had haunted her, her ghost of magic and goblins and growing up, and now, she knew, she had done the same to him.
What baffled Sarah most was how he didn't hate her, too. Even if she—her cheeks flushed a bright pink at the thought, and even now, after everything, she willed it away—she couldn't imagine how he couldn't hate her for that pain she had caused, and for so long.
The buzzing inside of her stomach was getting stronger, making her feel somewhat nauseous and shaky.
Still deep in thought, she rounded a corner, coming across scores of peonies mingling with white daisies; an odd hybrid, Sarah thought. Still, they were beautiful. Sarah inhaled the evening air, trying to ease her ailing stomach and quiet her mind just a little.
The craziest part of it was that the whole time—the whole entire goddamn time—Jareth had been the one to see it all, not her. She had bested his Labyrinth, but he had still beaten her, and in a way she had never been prepared for; could never have guessed at or seen coming.
At that, she laughed out loud. Tears sprung to her eyes, but she laughed herself hoarse regardless.
For someone with the newfound power to feel so much; really, anything and everything she wanted, Sarah was still somehow having a hard time sorting her own emotions out. As she slowly lost herself in the maze of flowers, her fingers continuing to delicately graze their sweet-smelling petals, she reached inside herself, too, trying to really grasp what was there.
She couldn't fathom just why it was so difficult.
She stretched her consciousness further, the fingers of her empathy scraping around inside of herself. It was a strange feeling; the same, really, as it had always been, but it helped to somehow give names to the emotions inside of her a lot easier. When she reached far enough, she made a connection to a handful of messy feelings caged inside her heart. Something that was unmistakably fear pooled in the pit of her stomach—a part of her didn't want to feel those things.
"I have to," she whispered to herself, closing her eyes.
Unbidden, everything came rushing to the surface of Sarah's mind, and she couldn't stop herself from crying even harder. It was all too much—the frustration with herself; her bitter anger with Jareth; the sadness that came with that anger slowly ebbing away even though, for some reason, she wanted to cling onto it; and, finally, the terror at possibly loving something beside herself, because what if it all went wrong? It always did.
Frankly, she found she didn't fucking care if she cried or not. Why should she?
Through her tears, she managed to touch each feeling with a whisper of her own power, sweetly, gently.
In that moment, Sarah made a choice: she wasn't going to compromise on herself or the things she needed, not anymore. She wasn't going to hide, and she wasn't going to run. Instead, she was going to be closer to the strong-willed girl who bested the Labyrinth in the first place. There was no denying that she had changed—she had grown up, after all—or that he had changed, either, and that was the important part.
Sarah opened her eyes. She rubbed her wet eyes, and chuckled when she saw a lone, succulent peach sitting on a nearby stone.
He was in his throne room when it happened. Perched, rigid, atop the titular throne, waiting. He held a crystal in the palm of his right hand, now gloved again, but he hadn't summoned an image of Sarah, much as he wanted to. He was waiting for something, though he couldn't reasonably say what for. It turned out to be her, of course.
"Jareth," she whispered. He looked down at the crystal in his hand and saw her there, standing in the castle gardens. He heard the wind outside rustle in the quiet, and to his astonishment, she looked up at him.
In a flash, the crystal and the man both disappeared.
Sarah didn't need to turn around to know he was there; though she could feel that he was wearing his pendant again, likely to prevent her further pain, she still felt him. His presence was unmistakable in the stillness. She clutched the peach in her palm a bit tighter.
"I knew you'd find me."
"I told you I would wait for you," he said quietly, moving closer to her. Slowly, she turned around to face him. He wore the same black attire from earlier in the evening, but there was a marked difference in his appearance nonetheless—unlike before, he looked whole and healthy again. Sarah decided she liked him better that way; despite the fact that he was a creature of otherworldly beauty even when ailing.
She shrugged, quirking a rare half-smile.
"This place seems as good as any."
"Does it?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow. His eyes danced with mirth and hesitation.
She nodded. He took another step closer to her.
"Do you hate me, Sarah?" he asked. His blatant question caught her off-guard. The mirth in his eyes was gone; instead, for the first time since she had met him, his eyes seemed naked to her—open, vulnerable. She supposed after being forced into showing her everything, there was no use hiding any more.
"No." she said softly, anxiously fiddling with the peach stem.
"No?" he asked, trying to draw her out, "Even after all of that needless pain? Sarah, I-"
"I wanted to see," she said quickly, heat pooling in the pit of her stomach as she stepped closer to him, "It was my choice. It's my power, and I wanted to use it. If that was reckless of me, than that's what it was."
At that, Jareth went silent.
"Why don't you hate me?" she asked, not letting him pursue the topic any further. From the resulting look on his face, she could tell he didn't understand.
"Hate you?" he asked, puzzled, "Sarah, you've just finished experiencing my emotions, how could you possibly think-"
"Because of the pain, Jareth," Sarah interrupted, her voice holding an edge to it, "All of that pain. How? How couldn't you hate me, after that? You're right, I did feel it, and I can't understand how something like that—that bitter—didn't...didn't..." She trailed off.
He still didn't seem to understand her. In any case, he looked puzzled.
"I do not fault you for my suffering, Sarah, not truly," he said, his voice still hushed, "I have acted the opposite, I know. I am a vindictive creature. But I am made more selfish than vengeful, and it's been made clear to me that in order to get what I want, I must let go my feelings of bitterness. And so I have tried."
"Not easy, huh?" she asked.
Jareth frowned slightly.
"No true conviction of the heart ever is easy, Sarah."
Sarah nodded. They both fell silent.
"What if I had I never beaten the Labyrinth? Would you have loved me then?"
At that, Jareth chuckled wistfully, his eyes sad. He stepped even closer to her; they were only a few inches apart.
"An impossible question, Sarah! I do not know. I've found I'm just as much a fool when it comes to this madness that's love as anyone else. Perhaps this is why those of my race abstain from it and deem it weak; perhaps this is why they abhor humans. For it is a uniquely human thing, to love so ardently. It shapes so much of who you are."
"And you?" Sarah asked, looking up at him. He took his time answering, curling a gloved fingertip around a tendril of her hair.
Sarah sucked in a breath and held the peach out to him.
"I found this," she whispered. "It was waiting here for me."
"I know," he replied. Slowly, he took a bite of the peach. A little juice dribbled onto his lips, which he expertly licked clean, all the while staring at her more intensely than she ever thought possible. Then he offered it to her. Smirking, she accepted the peach, taking a bite.
A/N: Am I getting notorious for cliffhangers? I swear I don't really mean to write them, they just kind of happen…
Again, no promises, but I'm going to try and crank out the next chapter (or more!) before I officially move, because that is an all-consuming thing for sure. I'm moving Labor Day weekend/week, so we'll see. Thanks to everyone for all of their support in the form of favorites, follows, and reviews - and keep it up if you can! Thanks again!