Author's Note: Okay…y'all have VampireMafiaQueen to blame for this little plot bunny. It's only going to be a couple chapters (4-5 at most). Have no fear, I've got the next chapter of 'Wheel of the Year' half done), but this plot bunny threatened to gnaw my leg off if I didn't purge it from my brain the only way I know how…writing.
Also, there is a bit of a 'time' flexibility in this one. I'm setting it in the 90s(ish). And it is a tiny bit of a cross-over due to a 'what-if' idea I had the other day.
And just a reminder for those of you who saw the title and thought this was the story that 'used' to be called 'Love Potion No. 9' – that one is now being written as 'Wheel of the Year'. And a new chapter for it will be posted in the next day or two.
Love Potion No. 9
When Sarah dreamed of living in a land of fantasy and make-believe, LA wasn't quite what she had in mind.
But life isn't fair and sometimes things don't work out the way you expect. From the time she was young she always planned to follow in her mother's footsteps, but it took a snarky Fae and his maniac Labyrinth to open her eyes to the fact that she didn't really want to do that. She just thought that is what everyone else wanted her to do. What she really wanted to do was go into science – theoretical physics to be exact.
She never really questioned where the sudden interest in something so far removed from acting and fairy tales came from, although if pressed she would attribute it to the world-bending improbability of the Goblin King's Labyrinth and castle.
"And really…his hair is improbable based on the laws of physics too," she muttered to herself as she leaned in over her bathroom sink. Opening her mouth slightly, she added another coat of deep purple lipstick to her nearly black lips.
Her world was a world of contradictions.
Her days were spent holed up in a lab at CalTech talking to herself as she wrestled with theories of the universe. She loved the lab. Formulas. Theories. Books. Numbers. These were things she could rely upon. Numbers were stationary, they didn't change on you or shift on the page. For her, physics was the point at which her love of science and need for the reassuring comfort of numbers intersected. True, there were times that she wondered whether physics could explain Jareth's 'Escher-esque' room, of the way he seemed to appear out of nowhere, but those questions remained unanswered. She wasn't crazy. She wasn't about to mention them to anyone in her lab, and the one time she had suggested returning to the Labyrinth to conduct a brief 'experiment', Hoggle had thrown an absolute fit and Sir Didymus was so upset by the prospect he took to his bed for the next week out of worry.
And while her days were spent surrounded by the comforting stability of numbers, her nights were the opposite. By night she ran a pagan shop on Hollywood Boulevard – a shop she owned, free and clear, thanks to a great night at poker against an old fortune-teller who wanted out of the business. While Sarah adored science for its immutable laws, she loved magic for the same reason. There was an order to it that fascinated her. At times she felt a bit of guilt for profiting from the gullibility of the tourists that flocked to the boulevard, after all, it was nicknamed 'The Boulevard of Broken Dreams' for a reason. In a way, she had become just another cog in the fantasy machine that was Hollywood.
Glancing at her watch, Sarah frowned, before giving her deep purple-black bob a quick brush. Dropping her brush in the basket by the sink she threw open the bathroom door.
"Aine, if you want a ride to work get your rear in gear! I promised Sean I'd be at the shop early so he could make it to an audition!" As she walked into her room, Sarah grabbed the black leather jacket from the hook on the back door, and flopped on the foot of her bed, displacing a sleek black cat in the process. The cat hissed it's displeasure and clawed lightly at the beat up leather jacket, reminding her just who was in charge – in his mind at least. "Sorry Schrodinger," she muttered, tying the bright purple laces of Docs and jumping up again. With the cat glaring balefully at her, she grabbed her bag. "I'm out the door in less than a minute. Anyone who wants a ride better be buckled up and ready to roll!"
Flinging her bag over her shoulder, Sarah scattered a few dried sardines along the windowsill for Schrodinger and pounded down the stairs of the small workers cottage in the valley.
Yes… life was strange. But as far as lives went, she was content enough with hers.
A shapely blonde was slipping into the passenger seat of a worn-in blue Beetle parked in the driveway of the 'heritage listed' cottage. Grinning, Sarah tossed her bag in the backseat and dropped into the driver's seat. "Ready to roll?"
"You know it!" Aine laughed, flipping down the visor and dotting shimmering glitter gel along her cheek bones, as Sarah cranked the engine and sped out the driveway.
Hitting the gas as she turned onto the street, the little Beetle gave a hungry growl and skittered a bit on the slick pavement. Sarah had fifteen minutes to get to the shop, and it took 10 to drop of Aine, her roommate and best friend since they had first shared a dorm room at Tech.
"Do you have to put your glitter on in my car? Why can't you put it on in the dressing room? That shit gets everywhere and I do mean everywhere." Seeing the light turn yellow, Sarah double-pumped the clutch and hit the turbo, the little blue Beetle roaring down the street.
Aine squeaked and grabbed the handle on the ceiling, her body being thrown against the door as Sarah took the corner onto Wilshire at least 30 miles an hour too fast. "Holy crap, Sarah! Are you trying to get us kills or worse…arrested?!"
At that Sarah slowed down, knowing that getting Aine arrested would cause more headaches than either of them could cope with. For starters, she didn't have fingerprints. One of the downsides to being a Fae living Aboveground.
Sarah knew within minutes of meeting Aine on move-in day at the university, that she was Fae. Ever since her Labyrinth adventure, she had been able to sense when someone or something was not a 'natural' part of this world. In their sophomore year, Sarah had flat out asked her about it while they were drinking apple wine and watching cheesy 80s romantic comedies. All Aine would say is that she was from a noble Underground family and was following family tradition by spending a decade or so in the Above. That was all the information she offered and that was all the information Sarah needed. Well, that and one more bit – she had made her swear an oath that she would never tell anyone in the Underground who she was living with. If Aine thought the request was odd, she never said anything about it, she merely gave the oath and sealed it with blood.
From that moment on, the two had been more-or-less inseparable.
Slowing down as they approached the tourist area, Sarah scanned the sidewalks, watching for a tourist to do something stupid. In the five years she had been at Cal Tech working toward her PhD, she'd lost count of the number of times one of them had stepped into the path of her car while taking a picture of some stupid 'monument'. Three more turns and five stoplights, and Sarah was pulling up in front of an unassuming building – unassuming that is, until one actually read the name 'Pussycat Club'. The only reason it was unassuming now was that they hadn't yet turned on the garish pink neon signs yet. Aine leaned over and kissed Sarah's cheek. "Have a good night, sweets. I'll get Teddy to drive me home cuz I'll be late. Spring Breaker's are in town and that means good tips."
"You stay safe. Do you still have the amulet I gave you?" Sarah asked, her violet eyes narrowing sternly at her best friend.
Aine laughed and pulled a small purple stone wrapped in a crystal from her cleavage. "The only time I take it off is when I'm the shower or on stage, Sarah. I'll be fine. Come on, I have my own powers."
"And they don't work as well in the Above since your real power was bound. Promise, you'll call me if you need me. Don't take any chances."
"Yes mum!" Turning Aine flounced into the strip-club as Sarah popped the clutch with a vicious stomp of her foot and raced down the street, sending tourists scrambling back onto the sidewalks.
She didn't know who Aine's family was, but she was reasonably confident that Underground nobility would frown upon their daughter being a stripper, although from what Aine said, they would be just as horrified to know she was doing a PhD in theoretical mathematics.
Hitting the gas and brake as she rounded the corner of Wallsey and Howe, Sarah gritted her teeth as the car drifted a bit too far, nearly clipping a BMW parked along the curb. Out of instinct she flinched, knowing her car should hit the other – but it didn't. There was a slight green glow down the side of the car where the damage should have been, before Sarah righted the car, glancing about furitively to see if anyone noticed. When no one seemed to have seen anything, she breathed a sigh of relief.
That was one of the other nice things about LA, in many ways, magic could be openly used and people just assumed it was something to do with a movie.
Two minutes later she was pulling into the small parking area beside her shop. "Damnit, the sign is playing silly buggers again," she grumbled, then peered around. Seeing that no one was looking her direction, she clapped her hands sharply and pointed at the sign. A sudden buzzing hum filled the air as the ancient neon began to glow with blue light proclaiming the pink stucco cottage with the purple door to be 'Love Potion No. 9'.
Grabbing her bag she pushed open the front door of the shop, her arrival heralded by a gentle chiming of the windchimes near the door, and a loud squawking voice. "Hello…WITCH!"
"Hi Max," she laughed, grabbing a saltine from the box by the door and holding it out to the Amazon Parrot perched next to the window.
"I'm not a witch…I'm your wife…and I'm not sure I want to be that anymore!" he squawked, dancing up and bobbing his head before snatching the cracker from her fingertips.
"Hmm…time to switch out your VCR tape again I think. How do you feel about 'Legend' for a change," she asked, petting the brightly colored bird. Max held onto his cracker and nudged her hand, making strange burbling sounds.
"It's not fair…" he squawked again, gently biting her.
Chucking she scratched him under the chin. "I wonder what your basis for comparison is." Still smirking at the ridiculous dialogue of the bird, Sarah dumped her bag behind the counter and shouted toward the curtained area at the back of the shop, "Gee…I guess there is no one here. So I'll just rob the shop blind!"
A thin black man wearing a pink shirt and tight leather pants wandered from behind the curtains. He paused with a hand on his hip as he glared at her, one eyebrow cocked and his lips pursed tightly. "Girl, do not start with me. I am not in the mood for your nonsense."
Sarah rolled her eyes and slipped past him into the kitchen area. "So what's the role this time, Sean?" she asked, flicking a switch to set the water kettle boiling and dropping a scoop of her special tea blend into her favourite mug.
"Some southern thing. The ad was a bit vague. They want a gay southern man. How did I do?" Sean replied, his natural Irish brogue slipping through.
"Hmm… if you were white I'd say it was stereotypical and you'd be lost in the shuffle of other actors, but I've never met a gay man that minced quite that way, so…I think you'll at least get their attention," she nodded, pouring boiling water into her mug. "If they don't like that, then why not use your natural accent. It isn't southern, but that would definitely play against type."
Sean sucked his lower lip a moment as he considered her suggestion and nodded. "Ohhh…I love the way you think dahling. Now I'm off. It's been a slow day. I've unloaded the latest shipments of books and herbs."
"Go… and good luck on the audition," Sarah said, waving as he sashayed out the front door.
"Blast and damn, this walk will likely send me to casualty!" she heard him growling as he stumbled on his way down the walk.
As it was, she didn't need to wish him good luck. She already knew he'd get the part – she'd seen it in the cards the week before.
Her goal in life wasn't the only thing that changed upon her return from the Labyrinth. Within days she started having what her grandmother always called 'the sight'. It wasn't clear at first, just vague feelings. Over the next few years the feelings grew, becoming linked to images. By the time she started college, she started working with scrying pools and crystal readings, but found that her abilities were far improved through the use of tarot cards. She refused to read for herself or family, there some things she just didn't want to know. But she had no qualms about doing the odd reading for friends.
Sarah settled down on the stool behind the counter and started through the mail, sorting bills from invoices and requests for information. Hearing the chimes sound, she glanced up and nodded silently to one of her regular customers, a slender hobgoblin with long dark hair, wearing a prim and proper tuxedo. She didn't know what he did for a living or what brought him to the Above, but he came in every two weeks for 'Raven's tears' and 'bitterash'. As much as she was dying to know what he was doing with it, she felt it was rude to ask.
"I've got your standing order right here, Sir," she said, picking up a small linen pouch of the herbs.
"Thank you, Sarah. You don't know how hard it was being away from home so long. Finding someone that stocks my favourite pipe herbs was the only thing that kept me from returning Underground."
"Oh! So that's what you do with it. I've been wondering for ages," she laughed, ringing up his purchase and closing the antique till.
The hobgoblins brown eyes twinkled with amusement. "You could have just asked, Sarah."
Shrugging, Sarah handed him the bag. "Yeah, but you know how some Underground races are – if you ask the wrong question you might find yourself in debt to them somehow."
"True," he nodded, tucking the pouch inside his suit jacket. "I'll see you in a couple of weeks."
When she had taken over the business, one of the things Mrs. Varga neglected to tell her is that while there were a few regular, ordinary pagan customers, most of their their clientele came in three categories – tourists out for a bit of a lark while on holiday, Underground expatriates and various mythical beings. Had she known that, she would have thought twice about accepting the deed to the place. In the end though, it had turned out well. She had a steady stream of regular Underground customers and there was an unspoken rule – they didn't ask Sarah about how she knew their expat status and she didn't ask them why they were in the Above.
Over time, she discovered (accidentally) that several of them had fallen in love with humans and chosen to move Above. She knew that a tall, very dark Fae had been banished to the Above for a decade for attempting a love spell on a princess. Of course, Sarah only knew about him because a few days after he first visited her, the 'Men in Grey Flannel Suits' showed up.
Extremely officious in their tone, they informed her that they were aware of her status as a 'seer' and having 'Fairy Sight', meaning that she could see fairy tale races and mythical beings. Frightened at first, she invited the two men into the kitchen for a cup of tea, only to find that Jim and Joe were really quite nice. They too had had a brush with the Underground as children and had Fairy Sight as well, which is how they ended up working for MGFs. Over mugs of tea and scones, they told her that the dark Fae was a lower noble who had tried to marry up, so he was under observation due to his banishment. She was given a list of items to keep an eye on, with instructions to contact them if he purchased any of them. As weird as the meeting felt when it started, it actually wasn't that weird – at least not until Joe had asked her out.
'Sooooo not my type,' she thought to herself as she tucked a non-descript grey envelope aside, knowing it would be the monthly 'alert list' from MGFs.
Grinning she picked up a small purple box. There was only one person who would send her a box like that – Toby. Sarah pulled the drawer open and used the scissors to slit open the packing tape. Her eyes misted a bit when she pulled out a small parcel wrapped in purple silk. Unwrapping the parcel, she lightly stroked the top of the present with her finger. "He remembered. Such a sweetie."
While her parents didn't approve of her 'second job', Toby had accepted the situation easily. In fact his only question had been whether she sold stuffed goblin dolls and whether she could get him one. Since he found out that she was collecting tarot cards, he had started cruising the Internet and eBay to find unique types for her. Picking up the cards, Sarah idly began to shuffle them. The longer she shuffled, the slower and more calm her mind became. Working with the cards was always such a soothing activity for her. Without thinking about it she began to lay out her favourite quick reading, then glanced down. Three cards lay before her in the simplest reading she knew.
But what she saw was definitely not simple.
The first card was the Devil, followed by the Magician and the Priestess.
Sarah shivered despite the warmth of the room. Something was coming, or rather…some one was coming.
Jareth pursed his lips and surveyed the garish colored building. When his brother had suggested they go out and have some fun for the evening, this was not what he had in mind. Women sure. Alcohol definitely. Debauchery of many types – one could only hope. "Seriously? Witchcraft? I thought they were your thing?"
The dark-haired driver laughed. "Sadly no. Most witches these days don't believe in me. Something Dear Old Dad said must have put them off me. Or was it the nonsense that happened in Salem. That was a real nightmare for me, I tell you!"
Ignoring the way his companion got off topic, Jareth's eyes narrowed on the painting down the side of the building listing the shop's key services. 'Fortune telling? Tinctures? Crystal readings? Love Potions? Honestly…love potions? What is this, the Victorian Age all over again?"
The dark haired driver spun the wheel of the 1962 black-on-black Corvette sharply, whipping it into a parking space in front of the shop. "I have it on good authority that they have far more than mere love potions, brother. In fact, they seem to cater to our kind, so I thought it was high time I checked it out."
"I'll wait in the car," grumbled Jareth.
"Come on, Jareth. It will be fun. If nothing else, it will be goblin-free."
Reluctantly Jareth opened the car door and followed his brother toward the door of the shop. "Fine, but love potions?"
His companion merely smirked. "Well, since you are in dire need of something to break your dry spell on the romantic front, and our powers don't work on our own kind, perhaps human magic might help you over the hump…or to get your leg over…whatever."
Jareth growled low in his chest and rolled his eyes, but followed his brother into the shop.
Hearing the chimes again, Sarah looked up and had to clench her teeth to keep her jaw from falling open. The man who glided into the shop was unlike anyone she had ever laid eyes on in her life – and most definitely not human. He was tall and lithe, with short dark hair, black eyes and an irresistible bit of dark 'five-o'clock-shadow'. While she had several customers who wore suits, this one wore the suit as if he was born to wear it. The black suit had the sheen of heavy weight silk, and was cut modern and tight. His dark purple shirt was tight enough that it hinted at the lightly muscled chest beneath the sleek material, while his pants hugged a certain bit of his anatomy almost as much as a certain Fae's tights did. Blinking at the sight of him, Sarah felt heat pool in her belly and a deeply rooted longing to feel his touch shiver through her. Irritated at the feel of power rushing over her without her consent, Sarah quickly palmed the crystal and iron amulet she kept under the till, while keeping a warm and friendly smile on her face.
"Can I help you, Sir?" she asked, slipping the amulet inside the waistband of her jeans and relaxing a bit as the magic began to quell the unwanted magic of the man before her.
"Ahh…hello darling," he purred, strolling over to lean upon the counter where sat. "I'm Lucifer…Lucifer Morningstar…"
Arching an eyebrow, Sarah gave a knowing chuckle. "Morningstar…right… So, you're the Devil huh?"
"Indeed I am, darling. No sense lying to you since you are known amongst the local mystical expats as one who has the 'Fairy Sight' – although why they give the twinky fairies credit for that I don't know."
Behind the dark man another entered the shop, immediately turning to look at a rack of crystals near the door. He had fine white-blond hair, cut short, but still somewhat 'spiky'. The blond was wearing a similarly cut suit in dove-grey, the collar of a black shirt just peeking under his hair at the back. Glinting at the side of his head she noticed a silver hoop in his ear. Nodding toward the blonde man looking at the crystals, Sarah gave the dark man a sly smile, "If you're the Devil, who is that? Beezelbub?"
Glancing at the blonde man, the dark man laughed, the sound a sultry purr that resounded in Sarah's head, making her clutch a second amulet in her other hand. "Beezy? Oh no darling, he's shorter and sports a white beard. No, that's my brother…. Well… step-half-brother twice-removed or some such thing," he cooed, giving her a charming smile. "Isn't that right, Jareth?"
At that sound of that name, Sarah fought the urge to snap her head up and look at the blonde by the door. Fighting her natural instincts, she kept her casually disinterested air and glance slowly upward, finding Jareth looking at her with thinly veiled distrust.
'Oh fuck me…it's him…the Goblin King…in my shop…fuuuuuuuuck,' Sarah screamed inwardly, while her mind declared DEFCON 1 and was busily preparing battle stations. Clutching the amulets tighter, she kept his gaze, praying to any Gods and Goddesses listening that the glamour she had asked Aine to give her for added protection actually worked – afterall, the Fae princess was a bit out of practice and working with partially bound powers.
"Technically he is my cousin, but following the lineage of Nephilim to High Fae is so complicated it is easier to claim we are brothers," came the cool tone of the Goblin King, turning away from her again to lightly run his finger over a large crystal ball in a stand.
Swallowing heavily, Sarah nodded, struggling to pull her gaze back to Lucifer. "So, is there something in particular I can help you with?"
Lucifer's eyes sparkled mischievously at that, as he leaned closer over the counter. "Well, that is the question isn't it my dear. We didn't have anything in particular in mind when we stopped in here, but now that I see you've got a tarot deck out, how about you do a reading for my brother here, hmm?"
Sarah looked down at the cards on the glass countertop and felt her face flush. Without a word she scooped the cards back into the pile and put the box away. Smiling curiously at her, the dark haired being, cocked his head and looked at her. "Why…I do believe you are a bit flustered? Is it me or is it my brother that aggrieves you so, my dear."
"Neither…I…I just don't use that deck for customer readings. It's personal," Sarah stammered, tucking the new deck into the till and locking it. "To be honest, your brother doesn't seem interested in a reading. Perhaps you would prefer to look at the crystals instead?"
Jareth shrugged, glancing over his shoulder at her. "Astute observation. I am only here to appease my brother."
Before she could process what was happening, she felt a jolt of warmth as Lucifer swept behind the counter and wrapped his arm lightly around Sarah's back, walking her out from behind the counter toward the small table covered by brightly colored Russian gypsy scarves. In the middle of the table sat a black leather box embossed with Elvish runes of protection and wisdom. "This is where you do readings, I assume, since it has a set of cards in a lovely little box. How quaint, isn't it brother?"
Rolling his eyes, Jareth moved to a rack of herbal tinctures and teas, sniffing some of the jars and bottles, while clearly attempting to ignore his brother. Lucifer nudged Sarah to sit in the comfortable chair, and turned toward Jareth. "Come on, brother. She can't read my future for obvious reasons, Dear Old Dad has strict policies where I am concerned, but surely she could do a reading for you. Have pity on your bored brethren and sit down here. Let the lovely girl with the enchanting purple eyes do a reading for you."
Jareth's jaw tightened at the cajoling from Lucifer. "Fine...I'll do it, but only so that you stop pestering me about it," he finally growled, sitting in the seat across from Sarah.
Watching him warily, Sarah opened the black box and drew out a piece of red velvet that was wrapped around her favourite deck of cards. She counted each slow breath as she fought to control the sense of panic that burned just under the surface. So far Jareth hadn't shown any sign of recognizing her, so her glamour must be holding, but that could change as soon as they began working with her primary deck. Although she had other decks, this one gave the most accurate readings – and no wonder, she had designed it based upon her time in the Underground. The back of the cards depicted a golden labyrinth design, and the fronts of the cards had been drawn and painted by Sarah over a five year period. She slowly unwrapped them and pulled the iron amulet and rose quartz from on top of them.
"Interesting way of protecting your cards," Jareth mused, folding his hands on top of the table.
"It's less about protection and more about cleansing them between clients. Some of my clients have…well…baggage. I like to do what I can to remove the influence of such baggage between readings." Sarah picked up the cards and shuffled them gently.
"See, she's kind to. You could learn a thing or two from her, brother." Leaning over Jareth's shoulder, Lucifer grinned, his dark eyes lighting up with glee. "Ohh… I don't think I've ever seen a deck like that before, and I've seen rather a number of tarot cards over the years. Custom is it? Whoever did it does lovely work if the backs are to be believed. I can't wait to see the actual graphics on the fronts."
"Um…yeah. I designed it based on descriptions I've heard from others…." Lucifer glanced quickly at her, arching an eyebrow and giving her a knowing smirk. "And… things I've seen," she added, correcting the lie.
Fanning the cards out in front of her, Sarah ran her hands over the backs of the cards, before pulling them back into a neat stack and placing them in front of Jareth. "Clear your mind and shuffle the cards. You may wish to ask a specific question of the cards, but you don't have to…in case you want a more general reading. Shuffle as many times as you like until you feel 'comfortable' with the state of the deck, then place it on the blue glass plate."
Jareth pursed his lips and looked at the deck of cards, then at the dark-haired woman before him, making no move to touch the cards. "Just so we are clear, I think this is nonsense."
"Well, you are the Goblin King, so I suppose you would think that human magic is beneath you," she countered, her purple eyes snapping as she glared at him. Try as she might to keep her temper in check, something about his superior attitude grated terribly upon her nerves.
When he stepped foot into the small shop, Jareth wasn't entirely sure what to expect – but hearing his title bandied about by a human witch was definitely not on his list of likely outcomes. His head tilted a bit as he regarded her, pale blue eyes narrowing thoughtfully on her face. She was pretty, but not in the traditional sense. The deep purple-blue color of her hair suited her lightly-tanned skin. Picking up the cards he slowly began to shuffle them while continuing to examine the woman sitting across from him. She gazed at him with bright purple eyes, her expression one of challenge, which puzzled him as he had not done or said anything that could reasonably be construed to be worthy of challenging. Shaking off the thought, he considered her eyes. Ordinarily, eyes of that color in his worth would suggest Royal Elvish heritage, but with what he knew of human-kind, that color was not possible via natural means, so she must be wearing what the humans called 'contacts'.
Her top was simple, made of black lace, with a purple brocade corset laced over it. A pretty combination given her hair and eyes, if not a bit 'stereotypical' given her line of work. Shuffling the cards further, he pursed his lips, never taking his eyes from her face. "Do you make a good living as a charlatan?"
Sarah felt a burst of anger explode to life inside her at his question. "Rude much?" she replied, trying to keep her voice calm since being upset would definitely skew the reading. "For your information, I won this shop. I'm actually a theoretical physicist at the university."
Sliding into a chair nearby, Lucifer clapped his hands with gleeful surprise. "Well aren't you just a bundle of delightful contradictions. So tell me, any luck solving the mysteries of the universe?"
She shrugged and gave Lucifer a slow smile, "Not as yet, although I have it on good authority that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42." Swallowing slowly, she returned her attention to Jareth, watching his slender fingers deftly working the cards. After several more moments of shuffling, he set the cards on the blue plate and sat back in his chair. With leonine movements, he crossed his arms over his chest, his face a mask as he watched her.
"Right then," she said, closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths. With each breath she visualized her anger and irritation at the Fae being pushed out the soles of her feet. When she opened her eyes once more, she was focused enough that she barely registered that she was no longer alone in the shop, here entire attention was focused on the cards. With gentle movements, she turned over the first card, placing it at the center of the upper edge of the white scarf she used as her reading surface. Carefully she lay five more cards face down on the table, the cards taking on a slight 'V' shape that angled upward before angling down again.
Shutting her eyes once more, she took a long slow breath, then reached out, turning over the first card – The King of Cups. 'I would have expected 'The Magician',' she mused to herself. The image showed a King who looked remarkably like Jareth had when she met him in their final confrontation, feathery and soft, but still harsh. He was depicted sitting upon a throne, wearing a mask with two faces, bits of wispy blonde hair tipped with blue standing out around and above the mask. If he recognized himself in the card, Jareth gave no indication.
"This is you, Your Majesty," she heard herself say, but her mind was so far away from the reading that she didn't have time to wonder at her words. "You are a man of contradictions. You present one face to the world and have other faces that are reserved for different people and situations. At times you feel conflicted by your split nature. You are a man of power and authority, yet you seek simpler things to soothe your spirit."
Smirking, Lucifer leaned forward, his eyes alight with fascination at Sarah's words. "Oh… well done, witch. You nailed him in one. Well…okay, perhaps nailed isn't the right phrasing since you are both still clothed, but you pegged him… Hmm… that isn't quite right either."
Two pairs of irritated eyes glared at Lucifer, one crystalline blue, the other flashing purple. Lucifer waggled his hand toward the table, as if shooing them. "Don't mind me, do continue."
"Do. Shut. Up. Lucifer," Jareth snapped, his gaze glued to the witch before him, searching for any hint of deceit or guile.
Taking another deep breath, Sarah tried to refocus herself, before reaching out and turning over the next card. "This is where you are now." Opening her eyes she looked at the card and found herself interested in the what card revealed. It depicted a man wearing a hooded cloak, facing away from the viewer, with his head bowed. Upon the ground lay five scattered goblets of silver, with wine the color of blood spilt from them. "The five of cups. This signifies a man who is trying to move forward, but past regrets keep him from truly making progress, instead making him feel solitary and alone. There is self-doubt here, about something that happened. The next card will clarify that somewhat."
Jareth felt his heart stutter a bit in his chest as she described the feelings that had plagued him for the past ten years. Each day he went through the motions of running his kingdom, but no matter what he was doing, he was just a split second away from reliving his worst failure – the day his Labyrinth was beaten and his heart stolen by the green-eyed girl.
Lost in the cards now, Sarah's fingers paused, caressing the back of the third card slightly before flipping it over with a faint 'snick' sound as the card snapped upon the table. The front of the card depicted a woman wearing a red bilaut, around her middle was a golden colored winding cloth bound with golden cords. Upon her head is a wreath of roses. She stands facing a man in a deep blue jacket and black trousers, a wreath of greenery resting on his brow. They are each holding a golden goblet.
"This is what you seek. The two of cups. You seek union with another, the healing that only a spiritual love can bring. You wish to drink of the loving cup, with the one who holds the other half of your heart.
"Hah! And you said you had no use for a love potion, brother!" Lucifer chuckled, leaning forward and watching the reading with a gleeful smile. "I say, this is proving to be far more illuminating than I expected. So my brother has regrets and seeks a deep connection." Turning he gives Jareth a sly smirk "Do you have a person in mind for this 'deep connection, Jareth? Or are you craving any bit of female company? If it's the later, I'm sure we can find a willing woman with wanton sensibilities."
Sarah's eyes narrowed on the fallen one seated between she and Jareth. "What part of 'seeks a deeper connection' do you think equates to 'he just needs to get laid," she snapped, then cringed inwardly at the knowledge of who she had just mouthed off to.
Surprisingly, Lucifer did not seem the slightest bit offended, if anything he was amused by her reaction. "Ohhh…I like you witch. You have spirit and fire. Tell me, do you believe me to be real and 'evil'? And would you care to discuss it later over a drink…say at my place?"
Jareth quirked an eyebrow up at the seer's comment, his lips twitching at the corner, before pulling into the first hint of a smile he had shown since entering the shop. "You started this reading nonsense, brother. Now shut up and let her get on with it."
As Sarah turned her attention back to the cards, her eyes met Jareth's for a moment. The intensity in his gaze set something ablaze deep within her, a heat that burned in ways she had never known when looking at any other man. If she didn't have faith in the power of her amulets to deflect magic from influencing her, she would swear it was Fae sensuality, but no…that couldn't be it, which left only one reason – attraction.
Swallowing heavily she reached out and turned over the next card. "The seven of swords." Sarah frowned slightly at the sight, running her finger gently over the card, looking at the graphic which showed soldier partially hooded in a cloak, sneaking away with five swords in his arms, and two more scattered behind him, stuck point down in the path.
"Why the frown?" demanded Jareth, a strange feeling stealing over him at the look on the woman's face as she considered card.
"This is the primary obstacle you face in achieving your goal, Your Majesty. The card has various meanings, but the one that seems to speak most to me at the moment is…deception."
At that, Lucifer chuckled darkly, rubbing his hands together as he leaned onto the table. "Ohh…I love a good mystery."
Ignoring Lucifer, Sarah reached over and turned over the next card. "This card represents your strengths or the resources that are available to help you," she explained. Her eyes narrowed upon the card, a pensive frown pinching her face. "This is rather unexpected. The Wheel of Fortune."
Jareth looked at the card, wondering why it should cause the witch to look so thoughtful. It seemed simple enough, showing three women, one Fae, one Elf and a Sprite, balancing between their outstretched hands a wheel with arcane symbols marked around it. In their free hand each carried a drop spindle, and had golden shears hanging from their belts by a simple chain.
"The Wheel of Fortune, spun by the Fates," he asked, his hands now resting upon the table, as he leaned in closer.
Lips still pursed, Sarah nodded. "Yes, usually this card comes up as an obstacle or an outcome. I don't think I've ever seen it show up as a resource or a strength. The meaning that springs to mind in this position is favourable – you will be given another chance, but it may not come in the way you expect."
Sitting back in his chair once more, Jareth folded his arms over his chest, his jaw tight as he regarded the woman. He had not asked the cards a question as he shuffled, just merely asked them to search his heart and to speak to his greatest wish. 'I should have known it would involve love…and that blasted Sarah,' he thought to himself, feeling a wave of regret, tinged with irritation rush through him. 'A second chance at her hand is impossible though, I have no power over her and have no way to find her.' He nodded at the purple-eyed witch, who was still gazing thoughtfully at the cards. "And the last card?"
Lucifer purred happily, his hands clasped under his chin as he watched. "Indeed, this is quite gripping. I'd even go so far as to say it is delightfully suspenseful to see how Jareth's second-chance at love will play out."
Sarah reached forward and carefully flipped the last card over. Jareth glared at the card before catching her eye. "Death?"
"Actually, Your Majesty, the meaning of the Death card should not be taken at face value. It is does not necessarily mean the end of life, but more a transition. I would venture to guess that when you work through whatever this situation is, you will find a new beginning, leading to a significant transition. I cannot see what the change is, but I feel it is positive," she said, folding her hands in her lap and dropping her eyes once more to the cards.
A soft golf-clap from Lucifer interrupted her quiet contemplation of the cards. "Well done, darling. Oh you really are a treasure. Jareth, does your court need a seer?"
Jareth gave Lucifer a dark look. "Human intuition is useless against the powers wielded by Underground races, Lucifer. You know that. What good could the girl possibly do for me?"
Irritated by Jareth's words, Sarah growled and opened the black leather box once more, removing a blue pouch. With her eyes locked upon his, she shook the pouch three times, then opened it, presenting it to him. "Choose three runes and lay them on the table."
Jareth cocked an eyebrow at her tone. "I'm not accustomed to taking orders from mere mortal witches."
Fighting the urge to say things she knew she would regret, Sarah merely hissed at the Goblin King. "You think I am so useless to you, then try me… Goblin King. Take the chance. Pull three tiles from the pouch and I will tell you more about the woman. No charge."
Clearly not convinced, Jareth reached into the bag and pulled three bone tiles from it, laying them on the table in front of him. The witch studied them a moment, then nodded. "I see a green-eyed woman who took something valuable from you. Unknowingly she bound you, but in so doing she bound herself. Things will change, but not in the way you expect."
Rolling his eyes, Jareth shrugged. "That is suitably vague enough that it could be applied to anyone who has lived as long as I have. Do you have any idea the number of green-eyed women I have known over the years?"
Sarah lifted her head, her eyes narrowing as she glared at him, her words icy when she spoke. "Oh, so you never lost power over a girl named Sarah? My mistake… Your Majesty." Ignoring his very presence, Sarah pushed back from the table and rose. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Lucifer. "That will be $75 for the tarot reading. The runes were no charge."
Lucifer smiled broadly and pulled out his wallet. "That was highly entertaining, my dear," he chuckled, holding out three crisp $100 bills. "Wasn't it Jareth?"
"How did you know that?" came the quiet demand from the Goblin King. It was clear in his tone that he expected an answer and it had better be the 'right' one.
Barely glancing over her shoulder at Jareth, Sarah gave him a cold look. "What does it matter? I'm just a human witch. A mere mortal. A charlatan. I have nothing that can be of any use to the mighty Goblin King."
Looking from the runes to the witch, Jareth was amazed to feel a slight heat flow through him. She had strength and courage, something he rarely found in any other woman. Still watching her, he rose, and pulled a $100 bill from his wallet, then dropped it next to the cards. "For the runes," he said, then turned and left the shop.
"You'll have to excuse my brother," Lucifer purred as he rose, tucking his wallet back into the pocket of his suit jacket. "There's a long story involved a girl named Sarah, a room of illusion and a slight disagreement over a baby. He's still a bit touchy over it, although it's a wonderful tale of adventure, poor decision making and thwarted advances. I'd love the regale you with the story sometime." Pulling a business card from his breast pocket he offered it to Sarah, who took it. "Stop by my club sometime and I'll buy you a drink and tell you all about it."
Still chuckling and muttering to himself, the tall dark-haired man swept from her shop, leaving Sarah holding a black business card. Turning it over in her fingers, at first it appeared to have no writing on it at all, then as the light hit a particular angle, she saw the words in deep red. "Lux 6669 W. Sunset Bld."
From the parking lot she heard the loud roar of an engine, then a squeal of tires as the car sped away, leaving her with the faint scent of brimstone upon the air, mixed with the smell of summer rain and exotic spices that were unique to only one being – Jareth.
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