Chapter One: I Can't Believe this Moment's Come
Sarah stared at Christian wistfully. His dark, almost black hair was haphhazardly swept to to the side as he tilted his head back and laughed with his group of friends. She liked watching him; his eyes were a friendly shade of blue, and his face lit up like fireflies in the summer twilight, bringing a bit of hope and joy to her admittedly pathetic existence.
Two years since the Labyrinth. Two. Two years since dancing in that blasted ballroom and almost being seduced by the Goblin King's song. Two years, and she'd pretty much gone backwards to stay in place. Before the Labyrinth, she was a shy dreamer; after the Labyrinth, she was an even more isolated dreamer.
How often do most people actually come into contact with their dreams, anyhow? Hell, did any of them have dreams beyond winning the big football game or scoring that chick with the nice tits or making loads of money so that they'd never have to feel insecure again? High school was proving to be a chore, as Sarah held onto her fantasies and dreams while others growed up into adults.
It confused Sarah, really. She felt that the Labyrinth had made her more mature, more adult. Yet fantasy stuck with her with the tenacity of those Fireys, and was just as disturbing. So was she more mature than everyone else, or was she more a child than they'd ever been?
Just to get it all out of her system, she'd once written a paper on her world, interlaced with the fantastical elements that always seemed to weave their way in. The paranoid feeling of being watched, the knowledge that something more than what met the eye existed, the comforting, cool feeling of the night air on her skin, the magic inherent in simply living... Then the teacher suggested she read it to the class, and staring at all those expectant eyes she swallowed, and stood, and read it out in a slightly trembling voice. She'd collapsed in her chair wearily afterwards, steeling herself for further isolation from any type of teenager interaction.
When the teacher asked for comments and thoughts, Christian was the one who raised his hand. Christian, not star athlete, but pretty damn good, and who actually seemed to have a mind that surfaced every so often. He'd raised his hand, and Sarah bowed her head down. All it would take was one sneer from Christian, and her already minimal human contacts would drift away.
"I think it's great that she still has a sense of wonder about the world."
Sarah had raised her head to meet his friendly grin.
"I mean, so many of us grow up, and strive to leave behind most everything that helped create us. She's got that innate goofiness about life, and it's...well, actually it's kinda refreshing."
Sarah stared at Christian, and hadn't stopped since.
She felt guily though, almost as though she were stalking him. It was only her eyes that followed him though. She actually took great pains to avoid him, because that interested look in his eyes didn't bode well for her.
It took her a month to finally admit to herself that she liked him.
It took her another month to try to meet his gaze and smile, instead of freezing in place like a deer staring into headlights, every time he walked around the corner and saw her.
By then, he'd already lost interest, and avoided her with the same fierce determination that she'd displayed early on.
And if anything, Sarah was a faithful girl. It'd taken her a good year to shut away the memories of the Goblin King, to erase his name from her mind and heart. It looked as though getting over Christian would take as much of her time and energy.
"You know what your problem is?" Canaret said around a bit of her sandwich. "You crush too hard." Sarah glanced at her friend, one of the very, very few she had. The girl was wearing a black leather trenchcoat over her short black skirt, and complemented the outfit with fishnet stockings.
"A crush implies that it's a light, casual thing." Sarah poked at her french fries moodily. "This is more, unfortunately."
Canaret crinkled her nose. "Oh, come off it. So you're in love?"
Sarah paused, and looked at her friend consideringly. At last, she said,"I don't know. All I know is that when someone manages to dig through the outside, their thorns and claws make it impossible to yank them out without forcible damage."
Canaret grimaced and looked at her tomato and beef sandwich. "Thanks for the graphic description."
Sarah jammed her fork into the cafeteria's mystery meat. "That's what it feels like, Canaret. That's what it feels like."
The gothic blond paused. Then she said,"Well, you're good with words, at any rate."
A small smile crept across Sarah's face. "That, my friend, I'll grant you."