The Forgotten Past Chapter 1

The musty old antique store smelled faintly of worn leather, and oil, sending a fond memory to the woman's mind. It truly was not a store of fine notable, and old goods, but one of second-hand merchandise. Most of the displayed artifacts were nothing more than broken memorabilia, much the same as one would find at any garage sale.

Yet, she paid no attention to the treasures' (for that was what every scrap of paper and broken tea service was to her) poor condition, nor did she dwell upon the dusty walls, and equally dirty tables. If one could have looked at the miraculous store through her eyes, one would see such remarkable findings, things that could never be replaced and so much, that she would never be able to sift through it all, even if hours were spent breathing in this old air just to find that special object, hidden somewhere beneath the ripped teddy bear and the pile of old lunch pails that had rusted long ago.

She, of course, had the mind of a dreamer, one that would never be extinguished, no matter how much of her fantastic past she attempted to hide in some dark, and unknown corner of her mind. Most would be grateful to have a mind that always saw such remarkable qualities in even the most drab things, but she begged to differ. Her wandering, hopelessly romantic, mind had pushed her into many problems, some worse than others. Yet, the last one had forced her to rid herself of some of her hopeless ideas and try to think more rationally.

However, she could not rid herself of her favorite pastime, wandering through people's old, forgotten items. Much of the merchandise had been loved, and to such a great extent, that it made her wonder just why the former owner would choose to give away such an important item. This was one of the many questions that she could not answer, and probably never would.

This store was her haven, her paradise. She wandered through it for hours after hours, marveling over the same broken toys, and same yellowed books day after day. She had retrieved an old and worn book from these shelves, which had seemed so innocent at first glance. It was of a tattered red leather, and had been adorned with golden leafing. The book, one that she had not dared to touch in three long years, had been titled "Labyrinth."

"Sarah, dear, you look like you're a hundred miles away," a gentle woman's voice called from nearby.

Sarah immediately snapped herself out of her reveries and turned her attention to the older woman who stood, looking at her with concern written deeply upon her wrinkled face. Her withered hands were clasped together, over the dusty apron that she wore every day, never fail.

Sarah simply drew her hand out of the weather-beaten trunk, that had once been someone's new present, and loved for many years, until it found its home here, filled to the brim with toys that had all seen better days. She carelessly picked an old tattered doll from the heap of miscellaneous toys and held it close, for she felt so alone, even in this place that held so many fond memories.

She plastered a worn smile on her youthful face and hoped that the kind woman would take it for true. For Sarah was not in the mood to explain her depression that had sneaked up on her so suddenly, and at such an improper time as now, in her secure place.

"I was just thinking about things," Sarah explained.

The lady looked her over with great worry, for she had known Sarah nearly five years. They had been the best times, when the young girl had first wandered into the second-hand store, all bright-eyes and cheerful, full of life that was yet to come. Yet, there had been a change, one that had cast out the dreaming quality of Sarah's personality and transformed her into someone who was very close to being simply normal, if there be such a thing.

However, there was not much to say, and Sarah gave the air of indifference towards the woman's worried nature. The lady simply nodded, then turned, hoping that in spite of the hardship that had befallen Sarah, she would nonetheless be able to draw herself out of the doldrums that had taken over her previously blissful life. It hurt her heart to see such a young woman, who was so excited about life and the mysteries it held, change because of some insignificant thing.

Sarah sighed deeply and then turned her gaze down to the dingy little doll, which had suffered from an obvious overdose of hugs, for the little toy's arm was missing. The hole had been stitched neatly, and any stuffing that might have exploded outward upon the act of losing its arm, had been tediously secured in its rightful place.

"What is wrong with me?" Sarah asked, her voice low so that the woman would not hear and think Sarah crazy as well as sad.

She placed the doll in the trunk, amidst a muddle of metal toy soldiers, who had had their shiny coats of paint chipped completely off, and an old and outdated board game. She offered the rejects a glance, knowing that they would never see another child's arms, nor a friendly smile.

Sarah rose to her feet, wiping at the dust that had coated her legs, from sitting on the ground that had not been properly cleaned for quite some time. Still, despite the dirt, and cobwebs, the musty air and dank atmosphere, she loved every inch of the store. She wiped her hands upon a dress dummy, who stood as an eternal guard before the wide rows of bookcases, covered in books of every type imaginable. This was where she would end up, no matter what day, nor her mood. Sarah could not pass up the opportunity to read through these wondrous creations that delved into a mind, and life, that was completely awe-inspiring.

"I could never explain it properly," she mused to herself.

She ran a hand over the shelves, that seemed to stretch on forever. To every angle there where piles of books, though most were in poor condition. The average book came in lacking any sort of cover and torn upon that. The pages, that had been turned so often by many fingers to reveal the next twist of the plot, were now yellowed, and stiff, and very delicate.

She had found her book here, amidst these simple, ordinary written works. It had been worn in, but certainly not to the degree that it could be called trash, or anything close to that. Sarah herself had done most of the damage to the leather binding, that had gone through pouring rain, mud, and even some temper tantrums. Yet, now, it was tossed away, lost in some dark corner of her room, that she had yet to search through.

"Do you wish to look for it?" Sarah questioned herself, admitting the next moment, that she was afraid.

She turned from the stories. There was not enough time to become absorbed in some plot, only to be drawn out in the middle of some remarkable scene, by the store owner. Sarah smiled to herself, thinking about the numerous occasions she had tried with all her might to convince the sweet lady to remain just an hour longer, so that she might finish the amazing story, that she could not put down at that time. Most of the time, her friend would relent, yet things had changed recently, and Sarah feared the worst.

She dared a glance to the woman, who stood proudly behind her register, an antique itself. She was always neat, even though the dust that seemed to cover every surface in the store usually was attracted to her clean clothes. She paid no attention to the smear of grime upon her cheek, nor the tousled look her hair always held, when closing time grew near. She was a fighter, and had been so for quite a long while, what with the threats of bankruptcy and trying to run a store alone.

Now, well, now Sarah truly believed that the store would be coming to an end. It was not drawing anyone in, save Sarah, who tried to do her part by spending what little money she had on various odds and ends. It was not enough, and they both knew that. Yet, neither would speak about the approaching doom, that would mean the closure to the simple antique store.

She whipped her gaze away from the woman, not wanting to draw attention to herself. She had to leave, for there were other things to do that day, besides searching for treasures in piles of broken items. She smiled to herself again and took in a deep breath of the store's air.

"What?" Sarah asked herself as a strange scent drifted past her nose.

She instantly snapped her head around, scanning the compact building for anyone else. She had distinctively smelled some sort of different aroma, one so fresh and magical. She silently yearned for it to be true, for she had always hoped that this place would be magical. To Sarah, if anything would be magical in this dismal little town, this store would be most likely.

However, there was no scent any longer. It had drifted away from her, as had the time. She assured herself of the fact that the hours had rushed past her, quite quickly at that. She was going to be late!

Sarah gathered her coat in her arms, along with her small purse. She adjusted herself before one of the dingy, and cracked mirrors that lined one wall. The woman waved at her in the reflection, causing another smile to crease Sarah's worried face. She waved back, though did not turn to face her. It was always done this way, in the mirror.

Sarah turned to rush through the door, awaiting the time when the simple silver bells would erupt in their musical jingle of notes that were pure and lovely. Yet, she paused, a shocked expression drawing itself over her face. Something had caught her attention, some reflection in the mirror.

Sarah turned, catching the old woman by surprise. For her young guest had never left this way. Sarah was quite the one for tradition. However, she did not look at the surprised woman, she instead had noticed something quite different, upon one table, in the center of two jade candlesticks.

She placed her hands firmly upon the table, leaving two perfect hand prints in the place of the gray dust. She paid no heed to the dirt coating her hands, nor the dizzy feeling that swept over her entire being at seeing the shocking sight. She shook her head, not able to believe that it could be. Yet, it was, and the proof laid there before her wide eyes.

"It can't be," Sarah voiced her thoughts in a terrified tone.

She felt warm hands resting on her shoulder, offering her some comfort in this nervous breakdown that she was sure would be coming very soon. She could not take any more of these reminders, things from her past that would not remain there, but appear in her life again and again, haunting her.

"What is it, dear?" the kind woman asked, her voice thick with worry.

The shining cobalt jewel reflected itself a thousand times over in her frightened chestnut eyes. She reached out with a tentative hand so that she might assure herself that this was not a figment of her imagination and was, in fact, there.

Sarah grasped the fine silver chain in her hand and, ever so slowly, drew the pendent up from the table. It clanged against the candlestick, knocking it over and chipping the very tip of the mouth. Sarah only briefly worried about what price she would have to pay for that item. She was too absorbed in the sight that had suddenly come to haunt her.

It was a pendant, strung on the silver chain, one that she had hoped she would never see again. Yet, she had not been granted her wish. She did not understand why the medallion that Jareth always wore was suddenly in her world, in her secret place! He had invaded her life once again, and had trespassed on territory that she felt was sacred.

Sarah clutched the pendant in her hand, squeezing it in the anger that raced through her system at the thought of Jareth pounced into her rapid mind. She shivered in the intense emotions that boiled to the surface, for she was unable to contain them.

"Sarah?" the voice asked from behind her.

Her heart seemed to stop, and her stomach rolled around uncomfortably. The voice of the sweet woman had changed, had lowered and acquired a rich, intoxicating accent that sent shivers down Sarah's spine.

The hands on her shoulders tightened their grip, massaging her stiffened muscles with the utmost care. She wanted to shake the vile hands from her back, but was helpless to do so. She wished to turn and inform this man of all the hardships and heartache he had thrown upon her without a single thought as to how many tears she had shed in her bedroom, her head buried beneath the comforting pillows that she laid upon in slumber. Yet, she could do none of these things. All her body would do, was stand there, and allow him to run his hands over her trembling shoulders.

"You... You...," she could not even bring the words from her mouth.

A rich velvety laughter surrounded her, and the stroking persisted, deepening. Sarah felt his hands work over her neck, making her worries fade away, as if bubbles upon a spring breeze. They drifted into oblivion and then popped, miles and miles from whence they had originated.

She forced her fogged mind to think right, to take control of her actions once again. She threw her shoulders back, knocking his hands away. She had defeated him once and could do it again.

"You have no power over me!" Sarah exclaimed as she spun around.

Chapter Two

Sarah spun around, her hair brushing over her eyes. It acted very well as a thick veil that smelled faintly of her shampoo, blocking her vision. However, she had believed that she saw something, someone standing there, watching her with intent mis-matched eyes. She knew that it was him, and that he had invaded her sanctuary without the slightest thought about how she might take it.

Sarah brushed the hair from her eyes and prepared herself to spew some form of viscous insults and accusations towards this haughty man. However, her voice caught in her throat, and she only succeeded in choking herself. Sarah doubled over, placing her white hands on the knees of her simple blue jeans. She felt a hand pat her firmly on the back, trying to help her through these ravaging coughs.

"What is wrong, Sarah?" the elderly woman demanded.

Sarah could only shake her head as she gasped in some of the cleansing air. Her head throbbed sickly, ensuring Sarah that there was a headache on its way. She felt the pressure behind her eyes, building to a point when she was sure she would simply pass out right there, before this kind woman who only wanted to help.

She shook herself back to reality, trying with all her might to knock the dancing black dots from her vision. They left, though did so reluctantly, upset that they did not get to cover her entirely, bathing her in sweet, soothing darkness. Sarah straightened up, wavering from the vertigo that suddenly smacked her pained head.

She glanced over to Maddi and offered the worried woman a slightly strained smile. She did not want her friend to think that she was beginning to speak to people who weren't there. Sarah struggled to say anything that would at least push some of the worry from Maddi's mind, but an excuse escaped her. She finally relented to use the old stand-by, a reason that could not be disputed.

"I-I'm fine. I was rehearsing. You know me, Maddi, always ready for the next big break," Sarah stuttered, her voice lacking any true conviction.

The woman drew her wrinkled hand from Sarah. Her wise eyes twinkled in a strange knowledge, one that is only acquired after being a mother and a grandmother. Maddi knew, despite Sarah's reassuring words, that something was horribly wrong. The Sarah whom she had known and loved was long gone, hidden beneath a pile of damaged emotions and spilled tears.

Sarah brought the pendant up, so that she might assure herself that it had all been in her mind. If Jareth had not truly been behind her, offering her that luscious massage, then his medallion had not been upon the table, feigning innocence. She opened her hand and gazed at the shimmering cobalt jewels embedded deep within the silver pendent, and all strung on a fine silver chain. It had not altered its original appearance to one that would be more acceptable in this world.

"Sarah?" Maddi asked from near her register.

Sarah drew her attention away from the enchanted pendant and looked to where her friend had stopped. Maddi motioned towards the clock and then smiled warmly. The store had been open long past closing time, which was relatively early when compared to any other store in the quaint business district of their boring town.

"It's so amazing," Sarah remarked, twisting the trinket around again and again in her hands.

Maddi pushed herself away from the front desk, hoping that she could hurry Sarah along a bit. She had her schedule, which was one of the only things that she could really call her own any more. Even the store, which she had put so much sweat and blood into for the best years of her life, was being pried away from her, one day at a time. Soon she would have nothing to hold on to and the store would be shut down. Maddi was certain that that would be the day she would die.

She scrutinized the lovely necklace that had so captured Sarah's fancy. It was quite extraordinary, for she had never seen anything like it before. The perfectly spherical jewels glistened with a thousand colors and highlighted Sarah's widened eyes. Maddi touched it, wondering when she had acquired such a splendid artifact, for she rarely received anything so noteworthy.

"Where did this come from?" Maddi asked herself.

Sarah did not respond to Maddi's voice, nor did she look towards the old woman. She instead watched the shimmering jewels and the perfect silver, glisten and shine as it twisted continuously in her hand.

She broke the connection with a sudden jerk, coming to her senses. Sarah dropped the cursed pendant on the ground, raising a puff of dust in the process. Maddi blinked several times and then followed Sarah's horrified gaze to the priceless trinket which laid upon the dirty floor. Maddi gasped and scooped it into delicate hands.

"Be more careful, dear. This could be quite a seller," Maddi remarked, the thought of money bringing a new twinkle to her dulled eyes.

She placed the lovely bejeweled medallion atop the table, and straightened the broken candlestick, though did not say anything about it. Maddi simply brushed the stray piece of jade from the table, and then turned to offer Sarah another smile. She touched her arm with a gentle, caring, hand, in order to convince the girl that it really was time to leave.

Sarah was startled at Maddi's blunt statement. She glanced warily towards the necklace, fearing it and loving it all at the same time. It was for her, not some rich traveler who happened through the shop for novelty. A person like that, who was so shallow and realistic, did not deserve something of such a magical quality.

"You can't!" Sarah suddenly exclaimed, breaking her silence.

Maddi jumped a bit, alarmed at Sarah's outburst. It was rare for the girl to ever raise her voice over a whisper in this store, for to Sarah it was like a shrine. Maddi turned, her shaking hand laid over her heart. She wore a stern expression, for her patience had worn thin through the day, and she was haggard.

"Sarah, I am exhausted, dear. Please, can we do this another day?" Maddi pleaded.

Sarah lifted the necklace into her hands and brushed past the woman. She stopped at the front desk, impatient. She was not about to take no for an answer, not this time, and not when this perfect present was at risk.

"I don't think that you can afford that," Maddi explained. She did not wish to get into a fight.

Sarah's shoulders slumped, but only slightly. She was determined, and when her mind had been made up, there were very few things that could alter it. After all, she had made it through the Labyrinth and past Jareth's seductive ways because she had been obstinate in her goals to free her baby brother from the man's grasps. After all that, Sarah was certain that she would be able to purchase a slightly over-priced necklace from a dear old friend.

Maddi let out a worn sigh. She walked ever so slowly to Sarah's side. Her joints were beginning to argue, and soon she would have to resort to the endless pain pills that were packed into her medicine cabinet. Things were not going well, for most times the agony was unbearable. Maddi kept her ailment to herself, for fear that it would upset Sarah far too much to learn the truth.

Just the thought of those drugs that she was so reliant upon, angered her to no point. She had to control herself, for it was not Sarah's doing. She was still young, and did not understand the real struggle that accompanied a failing business. Maddi had to explain just why the necklace was important and then was sure the sympathetic girl would understand.

"If someone would pay a good price for that, then I could keep the store up a bit longer, dear. You don't want me to run out of money, do you?" Maddi inquired.

Sarah dropped the necklace on top of the register with a metallic clang. She placed her hands on the desk, but did not turn to look at the dear woman, who did not comprehend the pain that she was forcing Sarah to endure. How could she take it, but how couldn't she, when she knew that the necklace had been meant for her all along?

"You don't understand," Sarah began, a hitch forming in her voice from fresh tears that would arrive shortly.

Maddi placed her old, but strong hands on Sarah's shoulders and turned her around. Sarah attempted to hide her face, to force back the blatant show of sadness, but was unable to do any of the sort. She could only sniffle helplessly and wipe at the salty tears that continued to slip down her cheeks and over her lovely chin.

Maddi tisked a few times and ran her hands through Sarah's thick chestnut hair. She brushed a few stray tears from below the girl's eyes and then took her into her powerful arms. Maddi could not stand to see her cry. Sarah was like a daughter to her, and, in that case, would be the only surviving offspring she had left. All of her other children had died, before her, leaving her alone in this hard, unforgiving world.

She knew that she would give into Sarah's tears, despite the amount that the store would lose. She could not deny those open, wandering eyes, and that trembling mouth, and that sweet innocent face, anything. Maddi let out a ragged sigh and strode around behind the register.

"I-I don't want to-to," Sarah began, but could not bring herself to finish.

Maddi silenced her with a finger upon Sarah's lips. She would hear nothing more, for she had made up her mind and would not change it, no matter what Sarah said. She would let the young woman have the necklace, probably for a price much lower than the actual cost. Maddi sighed again at the thought of the money, of what she could have done, of the people she could have hired.

"How much do you have, Sarah?" Maddi inquired, placing an overly friendly smile upon her face.

Sarah hitched in a few breaths, trying in desperation to stop the outburst of tears. She had not wanted them to come, but had been helpless to stop them. She managed a strained smile and then drew the forty dollars from her pocket. Sarah did carry a purse, but had never liked the hassle of searching through the make-up and car keys, just to find that she had put the cash elsewhere.

Maddi took the money, silently praying that someone was watching her perform this good deed and taking notes, for when her time came to be judged. She glanced upwards, reminding them of the sacrifice she had made, for someone she was not related to at that. Yet, it made her feel good, even though she was still worried about how the store would do without the extra money.

"I know you'll like it more than any other person ever could. Just promise me that you'll remember Maddi when you wear it, okay?" she asked as she drew Sarah into another quick embrace.

Sarah nodded quickly, a warm smile covering her face and almost making her appear as the old Sarah, the one who had loved life, and dreamed of fantasies unknown to anyone else. Yet, she would never return to what she used to be, for the venture through the Labyrinth had changed everything, damaged her innocence and corrupted her pure dreams. She had learned too much, too fast, and would never be the same wide-eyed child. However, in that one moment, with the magical pendant grasped in her hands and her smile so openly friendly, she seemed to be healed of all the damaging scars that had been inflicted upon returning home with Toby, a conquering hero, and a dejected failure.

She did not say a thing, for fear that should she thank Maddi again, her tears would jump back into action. Sarah simply nodded and then turned, quickly. She remembered her appointment, that had passed by without her. Sarah had forgotten yet another important meeting, and would be reminded many times by her parents.

At that time, she would not dwell on her forgetfulness, nor the trouble she would meet, upon returning home. For she had the necklace, and that was all that mattered now. She rushed through the door, and came to a screeching stop. Sarah's jaw dropped in utter shock. She could not believe what she saw, but it was there, everywhere, she was in this scene of... of

"No," Sarah stated, her voice no louder than a whisper.

She managed several shaking steps out of the doorway, for already she could feel Maddi's worried gaze upon her back. Sarah did not need to give her friend anymore proof towards the possible insanity that was approaching, obviously quickly. She walked down the dirt road, avoiding a crowd of chickens that had been herded into a group by a little goblin.

"No!" she yelled, her voice regaining its original power.

Sarah pressed her back against a neighboring shop, her eyes darting over the simple huts that had replaced the stores, and shops, and restaurants. She was in the Goblin City. How she had arrived there so suddenly was beyond her comprehension, but there was no denying that she was there, for she could even smell the faint odor of the dump, just outside the gates.

Strange goblins walked all around her, offering her quick sideways glances, as if they were not sure what to think of the girl, who had appeared all of a sudden. Even Maddi's shop had disappeared, becoming an even more rundown store, which was supposedly a potion shop, according to the sign.

A large hand fell on Sarah's shoulders, and she nearly screamed, but managed to hold it in. Perhaps it would be Jareth, and she did not want to let him know just how much this spell had affected her. Sarah instead gathered her courage together and turned to look at the thing next to her.

"What do...," Sarah stopped again.

The world changed with a blink of her eyes. The huts molded back into the simple, historic business district, the streets regained their paving. Cars drove by, replacing the masses of goblins that had been walking down the street, only a moment earlier. An old man stood beside her, his hand resting on her shoulder, and his wife gazing into her eyes with worry that could not be helped.

"Miss? Are you all right?" he asked, his voice slightly louder than it should have been which led Sarah to think that he had a hearing problem.

Sarah ignored his question. She instead looked around, near hysterics. She had been in the Underground, that she was sure. There was no way, no possible way for her to be back here in such a short time. Sarah felt more tears slip down her cheeks, but she paid them no heed. There were other problems that required more attention.

Sarah looked back at the man, who had stepped away from her, obviously thinking her entirely crazy. Sarah shook her head and mouthed a few words, but she could not make her voice leave her paralyzed throat.

"I hope you fell better, miss," the man stated.

He grabbed his wife by the arm and led her far away from Sarah. Yet, there were more than enough other people surrounding her, and several woman rushed to her, and helped her to her feet. Sarah brushed herself away from the blatant show of mercy, for she did not need their help. She could do it herself.

"Thank you," she muttered.

Sarah noticed Maddi, gazing at her from the window. A strange, horrified expression had covered the old woman's face, and almost led Sarah to believe that Maddi had seen the Goblin City as well, but that was insane. Maddi had never been there. Sarah did not speak a word to her friend. She instead rushed into her car and, after fishing through her purse for a few minutes for her keys, drove off with a screech of the wheels.

Chapter Three

He spun the crystal in his hand, watching it as it made its journey from finger to finger. The sun glinted through the crystal surface and reflected across his black pants, highlighting them with a million different colors of yellows and oranges. It was all very beautiful and quite stunning, when one was given enough time to truly admire the perfection that made up the crystal orb.

However, the menial form of entertainment did not please him and he grew bored with the crystal. It was something that many people would be entirely stunned to witness, a crystal ball forming from nothing, yet he had witnessed all this too many times, and now was only able to get mild pleasure from the entire incantation. Jareth flung the crystal to the ground, enjoying the way the shattered shards rained all around the floor and frightened the goblins who were near enough to witness the whole scene. It was something different, at least.

The lowly creatures shied away from the shattered orb and gazed up at the king. He did not return their wondering glances, but instead looked down at the ruined crystal and scolded himself for destroying it, before he had used it. His short attention span had a mind of its own, and could not be trusted. Jareth would just have to be more flexible with the mediocre magic and the stunted special effects.

Without a thought he formed another crystal, the twin to the previous one which was fading into oblivion. Jareth twisted it around, as he had done with all the hundreds of others he had ever created in his life. Jareth ignored his repetitious life and instead gazed into the clear depths of the orb. An image of a young girl, barely even an adult, rushing to her car with a horrified look in her eyes, took shape. Her long chestnut hair whipped in the wind and reflected the sun's golden rays. She seemed panicked, ready to leave the crowd that had surrounded her. Jareth noticed tears staining her cheeks and welling in her deep chocolate eyes.

A twinge of pain and sadness gripped his very soul and tugged at his heart. He yearned to simply rush to her side and take her in his arms, to calm her and wipe those tears from her lovely face. However, that would be stupid, for the insolent girl had never done anything to help him. She, in fact, had been the cause of most of his numerous problems.

"Does it seem as if your life is falling apart, Sarah? Do you think often of what might have happened, should you have lost, and Toby remained here? Life would be easier then, and you know that," he remarked.

He lowered the crystal reluctantly from his watchful eyes, knowing that she had suffered enough for one day. There would be time later for more of her memories to be toyed with, like a wound being reopened. He would have to wait until another day, or she could lose what little bit of sanity remained in that mind of hers.

Jareth threw the crystal into the air. It hovered there for a few brief moments, as if it was a bubble, so delicate and perfect. Then, it simply faded to nothingness. The glimmering reflection that had been cast upon the gray stone floor, from the sunlight streaming through the orb's crystalline surface, faded away as quickly as the crystal had. Jareth watched this magical spell, but had also witnessed all this too many times to be amazed or even interested in the disappearing of the orb as if it had never even been there.

The goblins did not even notice the spell, not as if they ever did notice any of the goings on in the castle. They tended to continue in their pathetic infantile games, no matter what should happen around them. The entire castle could crumble to a pile of dust and leave them buried under the rubble, and still the disgusting creatures would remain in their own little world, oblivious to anything else.

Jareth draped one long leg over the throne's arm and then gazed over at the clock, the relentless clock. Never had it, in all of his many, many years as king, stopped in its endless job of keeping time. Jareth's face darkened at the thought of time, and games that had been played and the girl who had made it through his Labyrinth! He had lost that time, and had paid dearly for it as well.

Jareth tried desperately to think of anything before Sarah. He could vaguely recall a home, and people, and perhaps a family, but that was it, that was where his memories ended. They became discernible once Sarah entered the picture. However, he knew that he had ruled the castle beyond the Goblin City before Sarah arrived, and yet he could not remember any of that.

He had resorted to reading through the history books, hoping that perhaps some of his lost memories would be hidden inside their ancient pages. Yet, the fates were cruel to him, and the books had disappeared, rather strangely. One day he had seen them, in their usual place in his library, and then, when he had found a need for the books, they were gone.

Yet, the yearning to remember his past had been like a fire in his soul, burning at him to search anywhere to find the lost memories. Jareth had attempted a journey to find the people he had remembered. However, that had failed as well, because he no longer knew the ways through the Labyrinth, or the Underground, for that matter. He was doomed to remain in this strange fog for all time.

Then, without warning, he had recalled something, someone, as a matter of fact. Her lovely face shone through the cloud of darkness that was his past and offered a sort of hope to dispel the sensation that all was lost. At first, it was only a face, one so beautiful that even he was stunned to gaze upon it. As time passed he was able to recall a name, Sarah, and then it all unfurled.

"Why is she the only thing I remember?" Jareth asked.

A few stray goblins turned to look at their king. Yet, they remained silent, for never had he appreciated what jewels of wisdom they were able to bestow upon him. It was best to listen, and not offer their input. In most cases, Jareth would give them their opinions, and that was how it went. They soon turned away, since he had not said another thing.

Jareth frowned, wondering why his mind would be so utterly strange. He was doomed to remember someone who had denied his love, defeated his Labyrinth, and left without a thought as to what she was doing. It was as if he was being forced into this torture by himself, as penance for something that he had done, but could not remember because his memories were all a darkened mass of nothingness.

It angered him to simply think about all the pains this woman was putting him through. However, he had naturally decided that the situation had to be remedied, and since she was all he could remember, she belonged here, in the Underground, again. Only, this time he would have to keep her here.

His troubles were not limited to himself, for it seemed as if the lost past had affected much more. His land, the Underground (at least he could remember what it was called), was being changed, disappearing. As he was drawn deeper and deeper into this strange foggy spell that consumed his past, the land was devoured as well. He shivered a bit, though the day was warm.

Jareth rose from his throne with a luxurious stretch and then made his way through the hordes of goblins, paying no attention to their king. He simply ignored their antics, for if he was to think about all the trouble that was caused, then he would certainly throw each goblin into the bog of eternal stench before they could blink. Jareth smiled a bit at his interesting thought and lightened his dismal mood.

He stood before the massive window, one hand supporting him against the stone wall. Jareth's strangely mis-matched eyes ran over the Underground, his wonderful kingdom. All was as it should be, at least at first glance. However, he knew that something was wrong, and those suspicions were supported once he turned to gaze at his masterpiece, his Labyrinth.

The mystical maze had once been so awe-striking, so terrifying to those who were forced to travel the winding and twisting path through the deadly Labyrinth. Many had cowered before its presence, and the others had become so entirely lost within its body that they had either given up, or had run out of time before managing to solve any one of the riddles.

Then there had been the girl, the young, cocky girl who had thought that she knew everything. She had known much, for that was proven when she defeated him and his labyrinth. Yet, her entire venture through the maze had been luck, and that was it. He assured himself that, should Hoggle have never been swayed to help her, then she would have still been in the darkened oubliette, perhaps for all time. Yet, Hoggle had come to the rescue, and she had won, much to Jareth's dismay.

Now his creation was faltering, dying, if it had ever been alive. The Labyrinth was a shadow of its former self, being destroyed by the strange forgetfulness that was plaguing Jareth's mind. It almost appeared as if some large overlord had simply come and ripped his maze in half, and taking one part with it.

Jareth turned from the scene of destruction, an indescribable anger rising in his soul when the thoughts of what the girl had done, flitted through his mind. He would have his revenge, once she had arrived here, and had been properly confused with his visits to her world and the bits of magic that was thrown all about her. Sarah would not know what was true and what was fantasy, once he had finished.

He would wait, for he had waited quite some time to recall what had been lost. Now, even though most of his past was still very much out of his reach, he could take the girl, and pay her for what she had done to him and his land. There was no doubt in Jareth's mind that she was the reason he had acquired this disorder and that the Underground had begun to fade to nothingness.

Jareth thought about the plan, and about the innocent girl who was being driven out of her mind, and a sinister smile formed upon his elegant features. He threw his head back and laughter filled the throne room, truly wicked in its nature, and lacking any mirth that usually accompanied the sound of pleasant giggles. The goblins stopped in their games, noticing the change in their king's attitude. Yet, once again, they refrained from saying anything, in fear of being punished and possibly tossed into the bog of eternal stench. All shivered at the thought of the horrendous smell and quickly turned away from the king, allowing him to continue with the laughter in peace.

Jareth's plan was ready, and soon she would be prey to his every whim.

Chapter Four

Sarah nervously flipped through the channels on her radio, not truly listening to anything, for she was entirely consumed by her own thoughts. She was beginning to dwell upon things that had best been left in the dark, away from her, always too ready, imagination to toy with.

Jareth had entered into her life again, quite rudely at that. This was one thing that she could not deny. For, how could she explain the magical spells and illusions being thrown at her at the most inopportune times. What would those people on the street think about her, considering that she would certainly see them again, since it was quite a small town. She shuddered a bit at the thought of the rumors that would spread like wildfire through thick and dry underbrush.

However, her worries did not answer any of the questions concerning the most `wonderful' Goblin King. He had stepped out of her life for nearly three long years, without a single sign to confirm the fact that he was real and still, obviously, watching her. Sarah shivered once again and then pulled her sweater tighter around her shoulders, that had suddenly been covered with gooseflesh.

She turned the car, not really offering the road a single glance, but instead acting on pure instinct. She was still deeply engrossed in the thoughts about why Jareth should choose this certain time to hassle her once again. There was no point, but since when did Jareth ever need a reason to do anything? He simply acted upon his every whim, and never thought about the consequences.

"Do you really wish to drive me mad?" Sarah demanded to no one.

She almost expected an answer from the sky. After all, if Jareth really was observing her, then he would have heard her little inquiry, and there was no reason why he should not answer, at least give her some proof that she was not as insane as she was beginning to believe. Sarah waited, but there was no response to her question.

"Of course, what was I expecting?" she asked herself, quite upset at how she was letting all of this eat at her.

She was a strong young woman, and able to take care of herself and ignore her own problems. Actually, it was generally best to face problems and solve them, but she did not wish to confront Jareth once again, in fear that she would be too weak to deny his generous offers, if there were any this time around.

She was also excited about all of the recent events. With every breath in her body, she had missed the Labyrinth and everyone that she had met there, but had never been able to admit it. After all, it had been time to grow up, and leave her childish past behind her. Sarah sighed deeply and then allowed her mind to wander back to times when she had experienced a magical party with all of her friends from the Underground.

A blare of a car horn broke Sarah's dreamy thoughts and wiped the strange, drugged, smile from her face. Sarah glanced over to the bright blue sports car that had suddenly appeared at her side. The driver scowled at her and then screamed something, though Sarah did not hear it over the sound of her squealing brakes and the other car's horn. However, she was also fairly glad that the words had escaped her, for they would have been entirely colorful.

Sarah watched as the car disappeared around a corner, speeding to make up for time lost behind her, and then nearly being hit by her as she daydreamed. Sarah pulled over to the shoulder and then placed her head on the wheel, hating the day even more than she had before. It could not possibly get worse.

She managed to glance around herself, just to be sure that she had not passed by her exit entirely while in her dreaming state. She recognized the simple houses that lined the road and allowed herself to relax for a few fleeting moments. She had not had enough sleep for quite some time, and that was probably affecting her delusional state as well.

She wiped at the fine sheen of sweet that had formed on her forehead from the whole stressful ordeal. She did not want to drive any longer, but knew that she had to get home. Sarah, reluctantly, pulled the car back on to the road, grateful that her house was only a few short minutes away.

Sarah concentrated on the road the whole way to her house, watching the yellow slashes in awe. She had always wondered just how they were made so uniform, all perfectly lined up and all the same size. It must have taken hours upon hours, upon days to simply complete this short road.

Sarah shook the different thoughts from her mind, once again punishing herself for wandering when she should be driving. She turned yet again and pulled her `antique' car into the driveway. She was safe, at long last, in the one place that Jareth would not dare to invade.

She gazed up at her house, loving it and loathing it, all at the same time. She adored her room, and all of her priceless knickknacks that lined every shelf in a certain way. However, the constant pressure that had been applied by her parents, was something that she was sure she could live without.

Sarah had tried desperately to do as her parents said and improve the relationship with her stepmother, but it had all been in vain. Her mature attitude was seen as a mask, hiding something horrid that she had certainly done and was entirely ashamed of, at least her parents thought this. Despite her attempts at convincing them that her motives were true, they still had their doubts and had yet to fully believe her.

Toby, on the other hand, had taken quite a liking to Sarah. He loved hearing her stories about the Labyrinth, though they had been changed an awful lot from her original adventure. Sarah did not think that a four-year-old needed to know all of the details concerning her time spent in the Underground.

After quite some time debating if she truly wanted to enter into the house and face the wrath of her parents, she relented with a sigh and rose from the car. She would have to confront them sooner or later, and it would be better to be done with it and rid herself of the unnecessary worries that were taking flight in her stomach.

Sarah locked her car, her eyes still trailing over their large home. Her parents were far from being rich though. Her father worked at the bank, assistant manager or something like that, and her mother was a substitute. Perhaps that was the reason she insisted on treating Sarah like a student, and not a daughter.

The door loomed ahead of her, mocking. She straightened herself, summoning what little courage she had left and wracked her mind for an acceptable excuse for missing the interview.

"I thought I saw the Goblin City and the Goblin King. Yeah, that's a good excuse, Sarah," she muttered to herself.

She could never admit to her parents that she had had these delusions. Even if they were real, and the Goblin King had returned to her, she would never be able to confide in either parent. If she should slip, they would certainly send her straight to the psychiatrist before she could voice her side of the story. She would suffer in silence and avoid anything that could possible hint at the fact that something was very, very wrong.

She twisted the knob and threw the door open. Sarah remained in the doorway for some time, just gazing at the simple family room, so cozy and inviting. Even the piles of Toby's toys did not change the lovely atmosphere in the house. Instead, they added to it. Sarah closed the door gently behind herself and glanced around for any signs of her family.

"Sarah, is that you?" her mother's voice was harsh as she asked the question.

Sarah cringed at the sound. She knew that the person she had been scheduled to meet with had called, inquiring about Sarah's whereabouts. Of course, her mother had answered and had discovered this little mistake before Sarah had managed to tell her. It really wasn't fair, for now she would not have a chance to even begin to give an excuse.

The sound as her shoes clapped on the spotless tile disrupted the unnerving silence. Sarah felt as if she were a convict, being led to the electrical chair, and knowing that there would be no chance for her to ever tell them that she had not committed the crime, but had been framed. She swung open the kitchen door and offered her mother a slight smile.

Karen simply glanced up, taking in Sarah's appearance and scolding her with her eyes. Sarah turned her gaze to the ground and trudged over to her mother's side. She knew very well what would come next, and there was no way to stop it.

"I trusted you, Sarah. What interesting thing threw you off this time? Was it that dusty, old antique store again? I understand that you feel sorry for that old lady, but really, Sarah, you can't spend all your time there," she began.

Karen pulled out one of the chairs that lined the simple, oak table. Sarah sat down, hoping that if she did as she was told the punishment would not be severe and the lecture not excessively long. Sarah did not look at her stepmother, but instead chose to inspect the swirls and lines that decorated the wood that made up the kitchen table.

"I understand that you like antiques, but there is a thing called priorities. Do you expect us to support you your whole life? You have to grow up, Sarah. We won't be here forever, and then there's Toby to worry about too. He is going to need an awful lot of things, and we won't be able to pay for all of your school supplies, college, and other expenses as well! I expected you to go to that interview, but instead you chose to disobey me and your father," her voice had lost the somewhat calm tone it had held a while earlier.

Sarah scooted a bit away from her mother, hating the way her voice rose in such sharp scolding tones. She had not killed someone, but had merely forgotten a job interview. Of course, she had missed (in one way or another) about five interviews. It was becoming a regular occurrence.

"I didn't mean to...," Sarah began, hoping to get her point across.

"I don't care whether you meant to or not, because you did and that is all that matters. I am very disappointed in you. I think that we should postpone this talk for later. I don't want to say anything that is going to hurt you, but this is the truth, and you have to face it sooner or later. Go on to your room," she stated, lifting the cup of coffee to her mouth and taking a single sip.

Sarah rose with a slow movement, and gazed at her mother. She swallowed, trying to force her voice to come forth. She did not want to take all this, after all, she was eighteen and an adult by law. She could govern herself now, take care of herself. However, her mother would not even listen to her side of the story.

"I tried to get to that interview, but you don't care. All you care about is me leaving the house, and you being rid of this problem. I hope that you're happy with the pain and suffering that has been forced upon me!" Sarah yelled, tears streaming down her cheeks.

She rushed from the room, not offering her stepmother a single backwards glance. She did not want to give the woman the knowledge that she had been crying. She did not want `her' to know that her words had sliced into Sarah's very heart, and hurt her more deeply than she had been for quite some time.

Sarah threw open her door to her room and rushed inside, allowing the door to slam behind her. She did not care what rules she was breaking by causing all that noise, for she was no longer concerned about what would be said and what punishment would be inflicted. Sarah buried her face in her pillows and allowed the tears to stream freely.

The sound of Toby erupting into tears, from being awakened from his nap, covered her entirely. She listened to him, and the soothing voice of that woman as she lulled the preschooler back to sleep. Sarah was tempted to apologize, for she did not want to hurt Toby, but decided that it would be best to wait for her father to return. He would listen.

She turned her head and gazed out the window. It was still beautiful outside. The sky was a crystal shade of azure blue. There was not a single fluffy cloud to alter the streaming golden rays of sun. They washed over her figure, warming her and sending a slight smile to her glum face. Sarah closed her eyes in the sunlight, and soon felt herself drifting off to sleep.

In her dreams she felt someone with her. He was by her side, soothing her, and whispering sweet words in her ear. She listened to him, and felt his caresses over her body. Sarah pressed herself close to the man, yearning for him to reveal himself.

Then it changed, the loving voice halted and the tender hands gripped her tightly, holding her down and forcing her to stay still. Sarah struggled against the powerful grip, but found herself far too weak to try anything. She could only submit to this evil being and allow him to do as he would, for she had no chance to free herself.

The shadow of darkness that surrounded the man lifted, and his face drew into view. He had elegant features, and dazzling mis-matched eyes. One was of the purest blue, as if a raging river had been captured in its depths. The other, a mystical roan color, flecked with golden highlights that sparkled in the new illumination in her dream. His face was framed with golden locks of hair, that rested against his shoulders. A sinister grin had formed upon his features, frightening her to her very soul.

"Jareth, no, please, no!" she begged as she struggled against him.

He did not let go, would not allow her to have her freedom. However, still she struggled against him, not allowing herself to give up, as she almost had before. She would not give into this evil man, who had decided to terrify her with spells and, and...

It was then black, and the dream faded away, leaving her sleep a peaceful one.

Chapter five

Sarah awakened with a start. Even though her dream had been long passed, it still rested its memory firmly in her mind. She could recall every scene, every detail, crystal clear as if it had truly happened and she had lived it all. Yet, it had been a dream, and she was glad that it had not been brought into reality, for it was too terrifying to dwell upon. Sarah shook the thoughts from her mind and focused her energy upon calming herself down.

She threw the tangled mass of sweaty sheets to the ground, loving the feel of the fresh breeze as it drifted over her body, cooling her skin. She glanced back towards the window, observing the night that had replaced the day during which she had fallen asleep. She had not known that she had rested for such a long time, but, she obviously had, and only had to glance outside to confirm her belief.

Sarah listened for noises from the living room of the house. Yet, it was silent, giving her more time to wait for the decision to be made, concerning what should be done with her and her sudden forgetfulness. Sarah wished that she would not have to find out, that the whole misunderstanding would blow over without any further conflicts. Yet, that was more of a dream than the one she had just experienced. Her stepmother would punish Sarah to the furthest extent, grounding galore!

She swung her slender legs over the side of the bed. The breeze was just so lovely and there was so much to think about. Sarah yearned to leave this stuffy room that, despite her love for all the memorabilia that lined the shelves, suddenly felt uncomfortable. She did not wish to remain a moment longer, but instead wished to go outside, and perhaps visit the one place that remained where she could be in peace and tranquillity.

Sarah smiled a coy grin and then, glancing out her open door to assure herself that everyone else was asleep, closed it gently to give herself a bit of privacy. Sarah tiptoed, so as not to waken anyone and bring her punishment earlier than it needed to be.

Her shoes still rested where she had dropped them, beside her bed. Sarah quickly tied the shoelaces together without a thought and slung the sneakers over her shoulder. It would be far easier to make her way down the old tree without the shoes upon her nimble feet. If she should lose her balance, and her parents find her outside, when she had been sent to her room, she would never be able to leave the house, at least not until she had turned forty.

Sarah pulled an old denim jacket over the light tee-shirt she had worn earlier that afternoon, and had not bothered to change before drifting off to sleep. The night was not cold by any standards, but the breeze had a chill to it, and the jacket made her feel a bit more secure about the disobedient act in which she was partaking.

She threw open the curtains, at last able to smell the faint dewy scent that always covered the freshly watered grass. The night was so marvelous, so entirely magical, that it took her breath away. She wished that the harsh days could be this calm, this serene, with a gentle moon lighting the way from its perch in the vast night sky.

Sarah forced herself from her daydreams and straddled the windowsill. She had taken this route many times before, but had only rarely attempted to sneak out. Sarah had never wanted to defy her parents, as she was now, but rather wished to have a mutual understanding about the life that she led, as did they. Yet, they did not agree, and chose to constantly hinder her from having some semblance of an enjoyable existence.

Sarah found her foothold in the worn branch. Her father had threatened to cut it down several times, claiming that it was far too close to the house, but Sarah knew the true reason. He saw what it could be used for, and feared that his sweet daughter would get the idea some night, after a fight, to use the limb to leave when she had been told to remain at home. However, after many talks, the tree had remained, as had the branch, her escape route.

Sarah easily shimmied down the tree, stepping nimbly from one limb to another. She held her breath as she lowered herself past her parent's window, grateful that they both were heavy sleepers. She could imagine what would happen if one of them had decided to shut the window and receive a good view of Sarah trying to leave. She shuddered a bit at the thought and rushed the rest of the way down to the safe ground.

Sarah adored the feel of the wet grass between her toes and wriggled them in it. She giggled a bit, her mood already better after leaving the house that imprisoned her so much as of lately. Sarah offered her open window one glance as she sat to pull her shoes and socks on. She did not wish to ever return, but knew that she must. She could only hide out for so long, and her parents knew where she would be. With a sigh she rose to her feet and hurried into the street.

The moon offered enough illumination to see her way, as the paved rode faded away into that of a crude dirt path. She loved this walk, and even dreamed of taking it occasionally. It was like a fairy tale, for there were no signs of modern life, just dirt and woods and sky all around her. Sarah glanced upwards and was met with a striking view of thousands upon thousands of perfect crystallized shards of light shimmering in hundreds of formations and adorning the jet expanse of velvet sky.

Sarah smiled to herself and returned her gaze to the road, delighted to see the simple boarding stables resting in the darkness ahead of her. The gentle nickering of horses as they drifted off to sleep, or perhaps dreamed, surrounded her, making her even more delighted with the entire scenery.

She sped her slow walk into that of a brisk jog, the cool air brushing against her face and flushing her cheeks with a gentle hue of faint pink. Sarah stopped just outside the locked gate and hoisted herself over it with ease. The owners would not mind her coming by, even at such a late hour, for she had been here many times before, and much later as well.

She knew the place by heart, every twist, every turn, every animal. Sarah breathed in deeply, taking in the aroma of fresh bedding and the rich sugary smell of molasses, used to sweeten the oats. Her world revolved around this place, this sanctuary. Sarah was certain that she would be happy if she could go from the barn to the antique store for the rest of her life.

She paused outside of one of the many stalls and whistled lightly to the animal within. It was too dark to see the horse, but Sarah could hear her rise from sleep and grunt a bit as she made her way to her feet. A fine spray of rice hulls showered Sarah as the horse shook mightily and then stuck her finely sculpted head over the gate.

Sarah immediately wrapped her arms around her dear pet. She stroked the horse's white muzzle, adoring the warmth of her breath against her shoulder. The animal allowed the blatant show of affection for a few moments and then shook her head free, nickering a bit for some carrots or perhaps a handful of grain. Sarah smiled and lifted the halter into her hands, for it was no time for snacks.

"Come on Tripix, time to go," Sarah whispered to her friend.

The horse waited patiently as Sarah worked at the lock in the dark. She had to feel for the numbers and pray that they had been entered correctly. There was no way to see the faint white lettering in such dimmed light. Sarah let out a relieved sigh when she heard the sound as the lock snapped open, allowing her access into the stall.

She threw the gate open and smiled at the horse, still waiting in the same spot. Sarah fastened the halter with haste and led Tripix from her stall, patting her neck to calm the horse as they walked down the darkened barn. Tripix was still getting accustomed to these strange night rides, that offered so many terrifying shadows that she did not really know how to handle. Yet, she was young, and Sarah would soon teach her that such things were not to be afraid of.

Sarah clipped Tripix to a post and then set to work on the lock that secured the tack room. She had yet to learn why there should be so many locks, for the place was not well known and the town was so small and boring. Sarah doubted if any thief would ever decide to take up residence here. However, it was better safe than sorry.

The lock clicked as she entered the final number and was able to swing open the simple wooden door. Sarah switched on the single orange light that hung from a cord in the center of the room. It offered the only illumination in the entire stable. Yet, Sarah knew her way around even without it, and only switched it on for Tripix, to ease the spooky horse's fears.

She found her bridle and, closing the door gently behind herself, returned to Tripix. She chomped nervously upon her own teeth, a nervous habit that Sarah had tried to rid the horse of, but to no avail. She ran her hands over the smooth gray fur, circling the chestnut spots that marked Tripix's body, making her seem as if someone had splattered her with paint. Sarah laughed a bit at the thought and then pulled the bridle over the horse's head in one swift movement.

She stroked her horse's nose once again, comforting her and easing the fears away. Tripix sighed deeply, resting her head on Sarah's shoulder. It was time to go, for soon Sarah would be forced to return to her room and her dull life. At least she had some time to herself, even if it was in the dead of night.

She mounted the horse, choosing to ride bare-back that night. Sarah did not need to go far, but simply yearned to walk through some of the vast fields that lined the property. Tripix had been through here so many times that she had become and old pro. Sarah patted her neck and then urged the horse into a light jog around the grounds.

The night was still amazing when she finally found herself out of the barn and into the fresh air. However, Sarah could already see the faint purple hue upon the horizon as the sun began to rise. She sighed deeply, not wanting to leave so soon, but knowing that she had no choice. She had a few more minutes and would use them as best as she could.

Sarah squeezed her legs tightly and kissed, cueing Tripix to canter. The horse did as she was told with obedience and spirit. She immediately broke into a quick canter, ready to speed up as Sarah so willed it. A good run was what they both needed that night.

Sarah squeezed her legs tighter and gripped Tripix's long mane in her hands. She loosened the reins and let up any pressure that could hold back the rush of speed that was waiting to surge out of the horse. Tripix leapt forward, instantly lengthening her stride and finding the smooth pattern of a gallop across the rich green, grassy, rolling hills.

The cool night air rushed through her flowing hair, pulling it back, and sweeping it away from her flushed face. She savored the crisp weather, the type that comes about late at night or very early in the morning. She felt her entire being combine with her horse. Her trust, her life, all was placed in Tripix's steady gait.

The exhilaration of the speed was forced to a stop far too soon. Already Sarah could see that the sun had begun to illuminate the most eastern region of the sky with hues of pale orange and delicate pinks. They reflected in her widened eyes as she gazed at the dooming sight, for now she was made to return home, much to her dismay.

Sarah turned Tripix. The horse offered her rider a bit of a nicker, in question as to why their ride had been stopped so suddenly. Sarah responded with a soothing whisper and several pats upon the horse's sweaty neck. She still had much to do, but little time to do it in.

A white flash of something caught her eyes, and Sarah immediately twisted Tripix about so that she could see what had rushed through the sky. Her gaze took in the forest, that laid just outside of the barn property. Tripix had only been through the frightening woods a few times, and each had resulted in a terrifying ride full of spooking and bucks. Yet, Sarah was sure that she had seen the mysterious whiteness fly into the woods, very nearby at that. It would just be a little bit in, and Tripix had to learn sooner or later.

Sarah jogged with Tripix over to the path, that led through the thick overgrowth of the old forest. In the dawning light, it looked evil, highlighted with deadly fire-like oranges and reds. Tripix whinnied to her friends back in the barn and tried to turn, nearly making Sarah lose her balance in the process.

"Come on girl," Sarah remarked, urging her horse further in.

She could see the thing, it had roosted high up in one of the trees. Sarah saw the white feathers, so pure in color, so radiant against the darkened trees. The owl's wide golden eyes observed her with intelligence that was overwhelming, and very nearly frightened Sarah more than the rest of the shadowed woods.

Tripix jumped to one side and pranced about. Sarah tightened on her reins, but knew that the horse was near to losing control. She could feel her pet's tightened muscles beneath her, and see the sheen of sweat upon its neck. Sarah ruffled Tripix's white mane in an attempt to calm her down. Yet, the horse did not calm, she instead jumped backwards, throwing Sarah against her neck.

"Easy!" Sarah exclaimed.

She struggled to regain control of the reins, but could not do so. She had lost them, and what little control she had had over her horse. Tripix reared up, very nearly toppling over in the process and then, in a blind panic, rushed deeper into the dangerous woods. Sarah grasped the mane that drifted over her fingers and squeezed tightly, all the while mumbling calming words in an attempt to stop the frightened animal.

The white owl watched the scene from his perch overhead. He took flight, remaining far enough behind to keep out of sight. However, it was doubtful that Sarah would see him if she was actually trying to look, for all of her attention had been focused on the horse that was currently out of control.

Sarah cringed as Tripix leapt over a log, only to stumble on the other side. Sarah lurched violently to one side, but remained on, by sheer luck. She grasped for more of the mane, but her hands slipped free and she found herself sliding off.

"Please, no. Please, no," Sarah's mind continued to repeat the phrase again and again as she discovered that a fall was inevitable.

Her mind seemed to clear for the briefest moment, and offered her a small window of rational thinking in which she managed to calm herself somewhat. Sarah took several deep breaths and gripped the mane in her hand, finally feeling as if she would not fall off and she would not lose control in this dark forest.

She glanced up and found a sight that made her cold all over. A tree branch loomed directly before her, in all its terrifying reality. She knew that there was not enough time to duck, for it was a scant second from her face. Sarah only did what little she could, and placed her hands before her face.

The branch struck true, knocking Sarah completely off of Tripix's back. The horse stopped for a moment and glanced down at her owner, laying upon the ground, unconscious and bleeding. She edged forward and nudged the still figure with her soft muzzle and then snorted a few times in worry, that most did not know horses' capable of doing.

Over the horizon a white owl drifted lower, ready to take advantage of the circumstances.

Chapter Six

The white owl lighted upon the ground, directly beside the fallen child. He looked at her wounds through golden, shimmering eyes, that were too wide and too round. Jareth spread his wings out wide, throwing a shower of crushed gems all about him, and shrouding himself in a cloud of magic.

The Goblin King emerged in his full glory, a hand grasping the horse's reins. Yet, Tripix did not fight, nor did she attempt to rush away from this stranger who had appeared suddenly before her. She simply bowed her head and rubbed against the mighty man's shoulder, in a show of trust that she was rarely seen to bestow upon strangers. Jareth touched her muzzle, calming her, his changeling eyes reading her own.

They stood that way for a few moments, as if in a trance. Tripix bowed her head again, and then allowed him to drop the reins. She eyed the man, but did not make a single movement to rush to safety. Jareth touched her neck and whispered to her in some strange unknown tongue. However, the horse's ears perked at the sound and she listened closely to all that was said.

Jareth turned his gaze back to Sarah. She was hurt, terribly damaged. A bright puddle of blood had begun to pool around her head, bathing her chestnut tresses in a crimson hue. It smeared down her cheek, as if it were a crude face paint. However, Jareth knew just how fatal it would be to her, should she lose so much of this life-giving substance.

He placed a hand over the open wound on her temple. How he wished that he could heal her now, so that she would not face any trauma through the entire journey to the Underground, no matter how short it truly was. Sarah, who had always been so strong, so defiant, now laid before him, weak, and helpless. She could not defend herself, and her life rested in his hands.

"Why, Sarah?" he asked gently, stroking her blood-stained hair in an action that was very close to love.

Jareth withdrew his hand and stared towards the direction of the stable as he thought. She had hit the tree with such force, and there would be no chance for her here, without the proper help. When she awakened and found herself elsewhere, he would explain that the wounds had been fatal, which they did appear to be at this time, and he did not have a choice as to what to do. If he should just leave her here, in the woods, prey to the animals that hid in the shadows, she would die, and there was no doubt about that.

Tripix blew a gentle breath upon his shoulder. It cascaded down his arms and he felt a shiver work its way down his back. It was a strange sensation, and not one that he enjoyed. Jareth turned to face the horse, and frowned. She could help, but would be trouble in most other ways, besides transportation.

Jareth swiveled back around and bent down beside Sarah. Her face had grown so pale, the pink flush having long since faded away. Her brilliant eyes were closed, perhaps forever, because he had been too slow, too greedy. He had thought only about his revenge and not about her well-being. He would set things right now, for Jareth planned on taking the young woman to his castle, and cure her injuries there.

With great and gentle ease he lifted the limp body into his arms. For a brief second Jareth feared that she was dead, gone before he had had a chance to attempt to save her. His heart dropped in grief at the thought and his throat attained a strange thick feeling. Yet, he felt her breath, weak but there, drifting over his arms. Jareth allowed himself a relieved sigh and even a slight smile to pass over his features.

"You shall hate me again, soon enough," Jareth stated, a serious frown finding its way on his lips.

He laid her over Tripix's back. The horse allowed all this with only a short sigh from boredom. For she had still not grown used to standing still for such a long time. Tripix rested her back leg and then lowered her head to graze. The lush grass was just so enticing.

Jareth tugged the reins, drawing the horse's head back up from the hopes of food. Tripix nearly glared at Jareth, if horses could show such emotions, for ruining her potential breakfast. He merely tugged at her a bit more, to convince the young mare to follow him, deeper into the forest.

"Were your ancestors mules, horse? Surely you must not want to stand around in this forest where anything might grab you, eat you," Jareth glared at her as he said this.

Tripix snorted in response and then trotted after him. Jareth quickly slowed the anxious horse to a walk, not wanting Sarah to simply slip off of her back. He glanced around himself after a few minutes walking, for he did not want to take any chances. It was true that these woods were not often traveled, especially in this early hour, but should he be seen with a woman that appeared more dead than alive, there would be trouble.

"I shall think differently about this decision come tomorrow," Jareth stated as he produced a crystal from the air.

He threw the delicate orb into the sky and watched it float there, amidst the fading stars. It seemed to match those flickering lights in the early dawn sky, as if he would touch a star by reaching for the crystal. It was all foolish, something a dreamer, someone like the girl, would think about, and certainly not him.

The lovely orb exploded, bathing the two and the horse in a brilliant white light that encompassed everything. The ancient woods became the whiteness, as did the purple sky overhead. They stood in a mist of purity, something that was unknown to the Goblin King, but was seen in the souls of the children he took.

The white faded, but with such a subtle stealth that he did not notice until the figures about him began to take shape. He could sense the scenery before actually seeing all with his eyes. The hustling masses of creatures, the most being loathsome goblins, made quite a noise. It was one so annoying that it could drive anyone mad, after hearing it for years upon years.

The Goblin City took shape all around them, but none of the inhabitants made any sudden movement, hinting at the fact that they were surprised to suddenly see their king leading a horse with a nearly dead young woman laid across the steed's back. No, they simply continued in their dull lives, toiling about the marketplace and talking their bits of understandable language.

Jareth simply scoffed at the whole of them. He did not see why he was put amongst things of such low intellect, when he could offer so much more. Of course, this was not something that he was meant to decide. Had he been able to choose his fate, it would be far different than his current situation.

Four goblin guards hustled together and swung open the large iron gates, once noticing their king. Jareth paused in front of them and waited while they attempted a few quick bows in response to the sight of royalty. He sighed deeply, expressing disdain with their stupid natures.

"Here, take the horse to the stables and give it proper food. If I should find it elsewhere, it will be your lives!" he demanded.

Jareth scooped Sarah from Tripix and handed the reins to the nearest goblin. He was putting too much faith in their skills. He doubted that they truly understood his commands, but it did not matter now. All that mattered now was the child that laid so still in his arms.

He gazed down at her face, feeling the same way when his first memory had returned to him, a leading ray of light, beauty so pure and perfect. He had fallen in love with her, and had not even known who she was. However, upon learning their past, Jareth had banished the affectionate feelings for those of revenge. He would not allow anyone to have the pleasure of defeating him, the Goblin King.

He stalked past hordes of dirty, vile cretins, that lined the halls, the rooms, everything. He had hoped to eventually rid the castle of their presence, but still had not achieved anything worth speaking about.

Jareth paused before a large wooden door, waiting for the two goblins that reclined beside it to rise before their king. Jareth glared at them, but received no responses. They were disobeying direct orders, those that stated it was custom to always bow in the presence of their king.

"What do you two think you are doing?" Jareth questioned, his voice threaded with venom.

The two glanced upwards, their faces more dulled than usual. They offered Jareth a pair of truly pathetic smiles and then fell back against the wall. Drunk, obviously, and there was only one thing that he could do about that. Once again, they were out of protocol, and so had to be punished.

"Move aside from the door and I will handle your punishment upon exiting that room. If I find you gone, your sentence shall be lengthened and you will pray that you had bowed when you first heard my footsteps," Jareth threatened, offering a predatory grin as he kicked the door open.

The goblins did not make a movement, but instead watched as Jareth walked past them and into the empty room. They continued to watch until the door was shut firmly, in their faces, and they were left with only wood to gaze at. One found this rather interesting and traced the strange swirling designs with one stubby finger. The other drifted off to a snoring slumber.

Jareth calmed his temper as he laid the girl upon a massive bed. It seemed to be the size of a small room, and made Sarah seem that much more weak, and frail. He laid one of the silken sheets over her body and then ran his hand over her forehead. There was much to do for her, and he could not take extra time. This was a matter of life and death, of revenge that was so long in the coming.

She did not utter a sound, did not move, but simply laid in a comatose state. He tore a piece of the blanket and dipped it into the wash basin beside her bed. Cool water drifted over his hands and hungrily attacked the dry sheet, soaking it immediately. He wrung the excess out and then dabbed at her wound, wiping the dried blood from her face so that she did not look as deathly.

Jareth stood away from her for a few brief moments, waiting for the magic of the Underground to come to her, to heal her. Her pale face seemed to drift in and out of death, for it looked like a ghost, laying in the bed and not the woman he had grown to...

"I have not grown to love her. It had all been a mistake caused by my weakened state. I simply grasped at the first memory that was bestowed upon me," he explained in rushed tones.

Her cheeks seemed to attain a gentle pink hue, and her pale lips became rich with life. Jareth let out a breath and then turned to leave her be for a while, until the time when she chose to awaken. He had other matters to see to, now that the girl was safely on the way to recovery.

He quickly strode towards the door, opening it with a fresh anger towards the two insolent goblins. One toppled into the room and grunted as it smacked its deformed face against the stone ground. Jareth bent down beside it, smiling with a knowledge all of his minions lacked.

"I shall send you on a leave, my subjects. It seems that castle life has grown to hectic for you," Jareth stated with a sneer.

He waved his gloved hands before the goblins and they vanished the next instant. The rest of their useless lives would be spent wandering the labyrinth of oubliettes that were prevalent below his land. Jareth doubted that he would ever see either one again, for only one person had ever made her way out of an oubliette.

He instinctively glanced back at Sarah. She had made some noise, some moaning sound in her sleep. Jareth stood straight and watched as she shifted her position and rolled over to one side. She would be awake sooner then expected and then he would have the revenge that he had hungered for so long, needed since his memories had been ripped from his mind and his land began to fade.

"Soon," Jareth whispered.

Chapter Seven

It was so dark. Much darker than the forest had been, for the only thing she could see was blackness. It was everywhere, seemingly alive, seemingly dead. She could feel the pulsating beat of this nothingness all about her, as if it had a heart that was quickening as her terror increased. She could feel the black covering her, taking her in, cutting off what little bit of oxygen she had managed to gasp into her tightened air way.

A single white streak rushed past her, and the downy feel of feathers brushed against her face. A perfect white owl, truly a picture of purity, swept all about this darkened place, swooping past her again and again. The feathers were covered in the most amazing scents, those of a hundred summers, springs, falls, and winters. They were wildflowers, breezes, rain and crisp autumn leaves. She could sense birth, death, rebirth, again and again as this magical being flew past her, adorning her with all these wondrous sensations.

Then it was gone, too soon. Sarah was left with the darkness and the choking feeling as it attacked her once more. She tried to do something, anything, but was helpless against the power of the darkness. Sarah struggled against the thick black veil that covered her. It felt like a sticky liquid, gripping her and pulling her under. She felt her mouth closed off by the strange substance and then it was entirely upon her, and she knew that it was over now.

She laid motionless, not breathing, her heart stopped and she was sure that she had died. She was doomed to die in this black tomb. Sarah relented to it. She felt lost, and alone, and horrified. Yet, there was little to do about her emotions, for already she could begin to feel her thoughts slipping away to leave her in oblivion.

With a sudden flash she felt herself yanked rudely from the pit of death that had tried so fiercely to consume her life. Sarah gasped for air and felt the beat of her heart pick up to a normal rhythm once again. Sarah bent over and fell to her knees, her legs too weak to support herself.

Her savior stood over her, watching. She could feel his eyes on her back, and his presence added even more fear to her already scared state. Sarah turned her gaze upwards to find two different colors of eyes staring back at her. They both flashed with a magical light that made the gaze seem more fierce than, perhaps, it had been meant to be. However, Sarah did not think about that. She simply screamed and jumped away from the evil creature.

"Now, is that anyway to treat me?" he asked, his voice as luscious as velvet.

Sarah turned to him, a memory rushing past her, reminding her of whom this was who stood beside her. She frowned, her anger raising in her soul, and her mood matching this dismal room.

"How dare you interfere with my life! How dare you come to me... I... I," Sarah stopped, her head swimming and causing her to collapse to the ground.

Jareth stepped forward and knelt upon the ground beside the fallen woman. He ran his hands through her thick chestnut hair and then touched her cheek with such tenderness she was tempted to believe that it was not the Goblin King who stood beside her, but rather someone who only looked like him.

"I don't understand," she moaned, her entire head being covered in a fog.

She felt a deep pain in her head, throbbing and cutting into her struggled thoughts. Sarah reached out and grasped the man's hand. It was so soft, so gentle to the touch. She pressed it to her lips and kissed it. She pressed his hand to her cheek and then allowed him to slip it out of her grasp.

"Thank you for saving me," Sarah stated.

Her eyes were dulled, and something appeared to be missing. Before her, Jareth vanished into the darkness. She was alone, to face this cold, hard place. Sarah moaned and rolled to her side, for she was still too weak to attempt to stand. Her legs felt too tight, as if she had strained them some time.

Sarah rose to her knees, and then looked at the blackness that was her life now. There was no way she could remain sane in a place that lacked anything. How could she live without the sky of clear and perfect blues, or the forests that were so cool and shadowed, from ancient trees that were adorned with greens of every hue imaginable? It was nature's color, and Sarah was certain that there could not have been a better one chosen.

"Help? Someone, please!" she called into the darkness.

There was no echo to greet her, nor was there any semblance of help. She was to be imprisoned here in this hell that she did not deserve. Had she ever done something so vile, so corrupt, to be sentenced to this torture?

Sarah steadied herself on her weak legs and wavered a bit. The strange feeling of vertigo washed over her head and made her tumble backwards. Sarah landed in a heap on the ground, her legs, the disagreeable things they were being, were crossed over each other. She looked from one to the other, wondering why they should not listen to her.

"I could use some help," Sarah muttered in exasperation.

She knew by then that there was no chance for her to ever make it out of this place. She was to be here for the rest of eternity, which was certainly a long time. Forever... the word suddenly seemed to have new meaning to it.

"It's only forever, not long at all," she whispered, and instantly shocked herself.

Had she known that song all along, or had it just been some strange sentence that had popped into her head and she had added it to some other song she had known. Sarah tried to think, but her mind felt sluggish and would not listen to her, much the same way her legs were acting.

She tried to rise to her feet once again and managed to stand still, her hands stretched out for more balance. She felt as if she was on a wire, many miles over ground. Sarah swallowed deeply in an attempt to calm herself and not to make the situation she was in more terrifying.

A single spark of light shone somewhere in the distance. She made the light her goal, since it was more welcoming than anything else she had seen so far. She smiled a bit at the sight of the light. It was certainly different than the darkness that had tried to suffocate her a little earlier.

"Are you two going to cooperate?" Sarah asked her legs, that still felt so strange to walk upon.

She lurched to one side and only barely managed to gain her balance. She straightened herself one more time and then concentrated on her goal, the leading ray of light ahead of her. As she neared, it grew larger, more defined, and she felt her heart soar at the sight that laid inside of the light.

It was a room, though she did not recognize it. However, she did not recognize many things now. Even the song she had sung had drifted from her memory. It was just stress, that was what had caused her strange lost sensation, the weakening in her legs and the slowing of her thought process. She had been scared, but now she was safe and she could relax.

"Finally," she remarked in joy as the sight drew nearer still, just a few more feet from her outstretched hands.

She could see a ceiling, arched high overhead and adorned with sparkling paints and inlaid with glittering golden leafing. Sarah admired the lovely artwork that made up this fantastic ceiling. She could not recall ever seeing something so amazing before, but perhaps upon leaving this dark prison she would remember everything that had evaded her since then.

Sarah stopped, her face only a few scant inches away from the window. It certainly did look like a window, for behind her and to each side was darkness, and then this rectangle housed an entirely different scene, a room, a magnificent room that took her breath away.

"Here goes nothing," she remarked and closed her eyes as she stepped through the lighted window to the room outside of the dark.

Sarah suddenly snapped her eyes open and found herself gazing up at the same ceiling that had been in her dreams. She quickly glanced around to assure herself of the fact that there was no darkness that was going to attack her in any second.

She was surrounded by amazing, intricate sights that brought a sigh from her lips. The walls were of a wonderful leafy design. Painted vines were stretched and circled all around the upper edges of the walls. At her side was a wondrously polished wooden stand. Upon it rested a ceramic wash basin, filled with fresh inviting water, and a dry cloth beside it.

She sat up, but was not met with the dizziness that she had experienced a bit earlier. In fact, she felt surprisingly well, despite the awful dream she had only just experienced. Sarah shook the thoughts of the terrifying nightmare from her mind and looked over at the mirror directly across from her on the other wall.

"What is that?" she asked as her hand touched a thin scar on her temple.

Sarah turned to see how fresh this injury was. It was very red, and upon touching it, Sarah was met with an intense pain that brought tears to her widened eyes. She quickly removed her shaking hand and turned her gaze away from the mirror. She did not want to look at herself any longer.

Sarah glanced around herself, not knowing where she was. The strange lost feeling had not left after breaking free of the nightmare. Instead it had deepened and held her memories in a grip, as strong as iron.

"What is wrong with me?" she asked, her fear returning to its previous state.

She felt more tears trickle down her cheeks as the thoughts faded away to oblivion. She felt alone in this world, for she had no past and no future. She could recall that dream, that horrid frightening dream that even now plagued her mind. She saw the scar, that appeared fresh, but was not because it had healed. Sarah was entirely confused.

"Help!" she moaned.

Sarah gripped the sheets and tightened them around herself, finding comfort in their silky pleasures. She brushed them against her face, cringing a bit as they swept over her injury. She did not know whose bed she was in. She did not know whose house she was in, or mansion was more likely, when she took in the size and splendor of this room.

The sound of footsteps making their way quickly up the hall and towards her room drove the strange thoughts from Sarah's mind. She turned, tightening the grip on her sheets even more, until her hands were white from the strain she had used. She watched with wide eyes, like those of a deer trapped in a pair of headlights, as the handle on the door turned and the door itself began to swing open.

Sarah threw the sheets over her head and buried herself down in them, as far as she could possibly go. It was stupid, but it was all she could think to do to protect herself from this potential threat. On the other hand, there was a chance that this person was a friend, someone come to help her with her annoying forgetfulness.

"What do you think you are doing?" a strangely familiar voice came to her.

Sarah peaked out of the sheets and was met with the same mis-matched gaze that she had beheld in her dream. One eye was of the clearest sky blue, while the other was a darkened brown, rich and sparkling with golden highlights. Sarah gasped and ducked back beneath the silken sheets.

She felt a hand touch her back, so warm and so gentle. With a shock, the sheets were drawn from her body with a sudden jerk, and leaving Sarah prey to this person, with such terrifying eyes. Sarah glanced over to him and was again surprised at how familiar this person was.

He wore a leather vest, made from the most supple and luscious brown color. The shirt was a flowing silken masterpiece, formed from a midnight blue color of material. His pants too were darkened blue, and tight. Sarah's eyes wandered up to the man's face and she sucked in a breath of air to avoid the shocked remark that had perched on the tip of her tongue.

The man was amazingly handsome. His features, clean and elegant, were truly that of royalty. He had delicate arched eyebrows, drawn into a questioning form. His lips were spread slightly, about to speak. His hair was of the most silken appearance, so golden, very near to that of silver. It flowed like a liquid across his back and cascaded over his shoulders. His eyes were the most striking appearance that this beautiful being held, making him seem more ethereal than human.

"You, you were in my dream," she remarked, her voice slightly dazed from his appearance.

Jareth cocked his head and observed Sarah's frightened gaze. He could not understand why she did not seem mad. Surely she would be angered, considering that he had taken her back to his castle without a single question asked concerning her feelings. However, she seemed more relieved to see him than she should have. Yet, he could not place her expression, she seemed awe-struck.

"Are you feeling well? How is your head?" he asked, his eyebrows raising a bit at his question.

Sarah touched her scar once again and then cringed. She looked at him with wide eyes, that were so innocent in their nature that he nearly hated himself for snatching her away as he had done. Jareth crossed his arms behind his back and waited for her answer. His regal air never left him, never faltered in the least.

"I-It hurts a bit, but I think that I'll be okay. Thank you for saving me, I think," Sarah stuttered.

She frowned at her comment, because he had actually saved her in her dream, but not in real life. Perhaps he had saved her in both realms, and then he did deserve the thanks for doing that. Sarah shook her head trying to straighten her thoughts into something that she could understand.

"It was the only thing I could do. Come with me, Sarah, we must talk," he replied hurriedly.

Jareth did not understand the way things were going in this conversation. Sarah was not angered in the least, and she certainly was not trying to defy him, as she had done so often in the past. He turned to leave, but did not hear her rise from the bed. Jareth paused at the door, believing for a short time that he had been wrong and Sarah had only been slightly stunned from the head injury she had sustained. For she was not listening now. He smiled at her returned stubborn streak.

She looked at him with a questioning gaze, not understanding his command. Jareth spun around, his dark cloak swirling about him in the process. He stalked back over to Sarah, wondering why she had not spoken some form of insult, or attempted to engage in an argument.

"I told you to follow me!" he demanded.

Sarah observed Jareth with a slightly curious expression. She held a hand out to him, so that she might draw him nearer to her side. The Goblin King only looked at the friendly sight. He made no move to come to her, or engage in this act.

"Can I see your hand, that is, if you don't mind?" Sarah asked, her voice unusually meek.

He had been wrong about her stubbornness, for surely it was not back. If Sarah had been herself she would have long ago risen from the bed and attempted an escape. She had done nothing of the sort, but instead chose to engage him in conversation, civil conversation, at that. He debated what to do for a short time, all the while glancing at her dancing eyes, so pure, so child-like. Perhaps she had changed her opinion of him over the past three years. Perhaps she was willing to give this all a second chance. Jareth quickly threw the thoughts from his mind and regained his composure.

He placed his hand in hers and was immediately met with a strange sensation, one very close to a shock. It was as if, upon joined, they held some special magic. He almost withdrew his hand, in fear of what was happening between them. Sarah's mouth dropped open in amazement. She looked to their interlocked hands and then sighed deeply.

"Do I know you from somewhere?" she asked gently.

Jareth's mismatched eyes opened wide as the sudden realization about what had happened to this girl, struck him. Jareth pried his hand from her grasp. He backed away from her. There was nothing he could do, but, this had all been his doing. He could not leave her alone with the questions and the anger that he himself had been forced to face, with only the goblins as company.

"Do you not know me, Sarah?" he asked.

She offered him a curious look and then turned her gaze to the silken sheets that laid on the ground. Jareth had tossed them there, without a thought about what would happen to them, or how dirty they might become on that stone floor. She finally turned her head back up and mouthed her name once. Sarah smiled a bit at the sound of the name, and the strange familiar quality it held.

"Sarah?" she asked again, "I-Is that me? You seem to know. Do you think you could tell me who I am?"

Chapter Eight

Maddi awakened with a start. Her dull gray-blue eyes snapped open, and observed the simple white plaster ceiling overhead. However, things were not as they should be, and she knew that something had happened to her sweet Sarah, something horrid.

Maddi threw the cotton sheets to the ground, along with the simple fleece blanket she had draped across her cold feet. They never seemed to stay warm anymore, not since she had passed her seventieth birthday, one she had chosen to ignore.

"One of many," she scoffed to herself.

Maddi carefully made her way to her feet. There was a need to rush, but her old joints would not understand the haste. Sarah was in trouble, and she had to do something about it. Maddi placed a withered hand over the small of her back and attempted, in vain, to massage away the paining stiffness that had seeped in over night.

She walked, ever so slowly, to the phone. She had been overwhelmed by a sudden need to call Sarah's home and discover if her thoughts had been based upon worry or were true. Maddi shivered at the thought of Sarah's problems, her injuries, and prayed that it had all been a horrid nightmare and Sarah was safely home.

She quickly dialed the number, her hand shaking in fear as it progressed through the digits. She hit the last one, and listened as the ringing began on the other end. Maddi felt a deep and harmful dread raise up in her soul, attack her heart, and pester her worried nature. It was taking too long. Something bad had happened, and had affected the whole family.

"Hello?" a bright, chirpy female's voice answered the phone.

Maddi allowed herself an audible sigh of relief, just knowing that someone was still alive and well at that house. She quickly gathered her thoughts together, though it took a longer time considering the fact that she had only just wakened. Maddi cleared her throat in an attempt to lubricate the raspy voice that was sure to be all she could emit.

"Karen, this is Madeline, down at the antique shop. I just wondered if I could speak to Sarah for the briefest moment, just to put an old lady's worries to rest," she stated.

There was no response from the other line. Obviously Karen had found this conversation strange. Maddi had never called their house before, and had certainly never asked for confirmation that Sarah was safe at home. Nonetheless, Karen would proceed with the peculiar conversation, if only for politeness.

"I have to go check on her, in her room, first. She, umm, hasn't quite gotten out of bed yet," Karen stated, her voice somewhat confused.

Maddi listened attentively as the phone was cupped with one hand. The faint muffled sound of the woman calling for Sarah came over the receiver anyway. There were a few moments of silence, where Maddi's fears rose in her soul once again. However, the next instant the sound reappeared, as the hand was quickly removed from the mouth piece. Karen sighed deeply.

"I'm quite sorry, Maddi, but she is being stubborn. Let me go on up there and have her talk to you in just a few moments," Karen stated, her voice covered in haste.

The receiver hit the table, or desk, with a thump. She could hear faint sounds throughout the house. There was a lawnmower busily ridding the grounds of extra grass, that would certainly add an unkempt look to the house. She could vaguely make out the sound of the television, probably tuned to some cartoon, for Toby. Maddi smiled at the sounds of everyday family life, and found herself yearning to have someone else in her life, to not be alone any longer.

Then the peace of the home was broken and a loud voice called to another over the whirring of the lawnmower. Maddi listened to all this, her eyes growing and a lump forming in her throat. Heavy footsteps made their way down the stairs and right past the sitting phone. "Karen?" Maddi called, her voice frantic.

There was no answer to her calls. The door slammed shut, and another pair of footsteps had joined in their search over the house. Sarah was not in her room, was not in the house. Maddi had known all along, and had been right. She shivered once again.

"Maddi?" someone finally answered.

"She's gone, isn't she?" Maddi asked.

Her voice sounded dead, lacking any true human emotions. For she felt as if her heart had broken in two, completely split and had been thrown upon the ground and stepped on. Her last dear sweet friend, had been taken from her. Sarah had nearly been like a daughter to her, the last of her offspring, and now she too was gone, far too soon.

"Maddi, do you know where she is?" Karen begged.

Her voice was hitched, filled with tears that had been caused not only by the disappearance, but also by the harsh words that had been exchanged the day before. She had been a fool, had been far too hard on Sarah. Karen sniffled a bit, trying to control her emotions while on the phone.

"I wish I did. Karen, I think that something bad has happened," Maddi stated.

Karen took in a sharp breath as those words hit her as painfully as a bullet. She was silent for quite some time, trying to regain her thoughts, regain composure. Yet, she was so near hysterics, and very soon she would no longer be in the proper form to speak. She swallowed several times.

"I... we, have to find her," Karen moaned.

Maddi noticed the touch of anger in Karen's voice, and could not tell who it was directed towards. Maddi hoped that it was not for her. She had not done anything wrong. Sarah went into the antique shop of her own free will, not after Maddi had ordered her. On the other hand, Karen could have been mad at herself. Perhaps her final conversation with Sarah was not the best that it could have been.

"Karen, dear, please don't be upset. I had a bad feeling, call it intuition. I needed to know if she was okay, and obviously something is wrong with her, and we must find out what happened. We can work together to find her, and I'm sure that everything will be just fine," Maddi spoke in a calming voice.

"Thanks. I-I'll speak to you later," Karen answered, seemingly in her own world.

The phone was immediately hung up, leaving Maddi with only a dead line to listen to, which was quickly followed by the sound of an annoying busy signal. Maddi placed the phone back in the cradle and then turned to gaze out the window, at the lovely summer day that was dawning. She allowed herself a single depressed sigh, for she could not let her spirits droop too far, in fear of what that would do to her.

Her dear, sweet, Sarah was not here, not anywhere. They would not find her, no matter how hard they searched. There was not a single place in this world where they would see her, at least not for a while. If Maddi's dream had been the least bit true, and it surely was partially real, then they would have to cross many boundaries, into a land that only Sarah knew about.

"Honey, where are you?" Maddi begged.

Of course there was no answer to her pleas. Sarah was nowhere near, and could not hear her. Maddi turned from the window and the lovely warmth that was brushed upon her cooled skin from the rays of sunshine that streamed through the glass. If Sarah had been safe and sound, it would have been a lovely day indeed.

Maddi carefully made her way down the steep stairs, ones that had once been rushed over with so much ease and speed. She remembered running back and forth, up and down, as she waited on customers and tended to her children in their beds overhead. Now, she had little more to do than hobble down the stairs, open the door, stand and wait for the lack of people who entered, and then hobble back up to sleep, perhaps to eat if she was so inclined. Life was monotonous, but it was life.

She walked into the antique store, the scent of must and dust instantly invaded her, and made her cringe in disgust. She did not understand why Sarah would love this dirty, old, and worn place. It was past its prime, much the same as Maddi. However, Sarah truly adored every bit of it, and Maddi could tell simply by looking at the way Sarah's eyes lit up when she entered through the glass door and rushed inside, to see what new artifacts had been added since the last time.

More often than not, there was nothing new, but Sarah was still enthralled. She would search through items that she might have only glanced at previously, or perhaps just dwell on her favorite things. Sarah was always pleased by whatever she saw in this old store, no matter if it had been noticed before or not. That was just the way she was, and Maddi loved her for that.

Now, it felt so empty, so alone, without the young girl's wondrously lively spirit in there along with her. She felt like part of a person, without Sarah. Maddi sighed again, feeling sadness take hold of her, and then turned to leave the store to its dismal life, so alone, so sad.

"Ma'am? E-Excuse me, but, there seems to be a package for you," a young delivery boy called from behind her.

Maddi turned, feeling so naked in her cotton nightgown and plain robe. She gripped the front and made sure that it had come to her throat, covering all that horrid old skin. She then offered the young boy a smile, one that she hoped did not look as worried as she actually was, and approached him.

"I am not expecting anything," she replied, but accepted the simple brown packing bag despite her statement.

The boy scribbled something on a clipboard and then turned to rush from the store. He offered the old, and worn down merchandise a strange look. He was not a dreamer, not like her sweet Sarah. He would find nothing special in these treasures, as Sarah was so often heard to call them. He quickly made his way from the store, letting the door slam shut behind him.

Maddi scoffed. He was young, and did not truly understand respect. Sarah, on the other hand... It seemed as if everyone was compared to Sarah as of lately. She was too perfect. Maddi smiled a bit and then ripped open the brown package with a single true stroke.

"What is....," her voice broke off as she felt the strange circular object in the bag.

Maddi drew out the object with such ease that she nearly thought that she held a bomb in her hand. However, it was far different. In her hand was a sight so amazing that it brought tears to her eyes. She turned the wonderful orb over again and again, simply admiring the way the sunlight played over the crystalline surface.

She held a crystal ball in her hand. It was one that Sarah had muttered about, something she had said before. Maddi bit her lip as a single tear rolled down her cheek as the thoughts about Sarah sprung forth once again.

"Sarah."

Chapter Nine

Jareth drew the door closed behind himself, not truly able to believe what had happened. He had been sure that things would work according to his will, at least this time around. However, it seemed as if there were already problems. His plan, his revenge, it was all pointless to spoil it on Sarah, who did not even know who she was. He ground his teeth together to prevent the angry words from seeping out.

He had been awaiting this moment for a year, always watching her as she led her dull life. Jareth had driven any other feelings for the girl from his mind, leaving only thoughts of revenge and what she had done to him. Now, well, his pains had been for naught, and all the time he had taken was futile, for there could be no revenge.

"She does not remember, but that doesn't mean that her memory will not return," Jareth pondered the thought for a moment and paused in the hallway.

He gazed off into nothing, his eyes still flickering with their own magical lights, one of golden hues and one of purest white. He did not hear the goblins as they made their usual chaos throughout the castle, nor did he care. He could make her remember, use the Underground as a tool to force her past back upon the empty mind.

The Underground had been etched forever into her memories, since she had left it three years prior. It was such a time of grief, struggles and hardships, that had altered her entire life, her being, her soul, to go that deep. Surely, a time of such importance, of such significance, would force the lost memories to return to her.

Jareth snapped back to reality, drawing himself from his thoughts in an instant. All was not lost, at least not yet. He had a chance still, to perhaps gain something from all the time that had been spent to complete this task. Jareth began his quick walk again, towards the throne room.

He had things to do, many things. Although the prospects of her memory returning were somewhat grim, it did not hurt to prod the process and force it to hurry a bit. He had not yet received his lost past. Jareth stopped once again, this thought sinking into him as a knife in his chest. It seemed to cut away the last thread of hope he had clutched with such strength, in order to convince himself that perhaps everything was not ruined before it had even begun.

He still lacked a past, as did Sarah. They were the same in many ways now. Jareth understood the agony of amnesia all too well. For his still plagued his mind, offering him only the encouraging, and damning, sight of Sarah to break the monotonous bleak nothing. He shook the weaker thoughts from his mind, dismissing them the second they dared to enter, and try to destroy his plan for revenge against this heartless child who had tried to kill his world without a thought as to what she was doing.

Jareth paused before a mirror, observing his flustered appearance with much disdain. He did not like to look disheveled, not in the least. She was already causing trouble, and had only been in the Underground a few short hours. It seemed as if Sarah always had this effect on him... and his world.

"This was all a mistake," he stated, as he watched himself in the polished reflection.

Jareth turned away from his mirror double, a new anger raising in his soul. He did not want anymore problems, not after all he had been through. However, he could not throw Sarah back into her world, without a past, present, or hope for a future. There was nothing else that he could do. Jareth knew that he had to keep her there, in the castle, until her memory returned.

He nodded his head in agreement with himself and then walked briskly the rest of the way to the throne room. He was met with the usual air of chaos that surrounded whatever space the ignorant goblins inhabited. Come supper time, the kitchen would be crawling with them, and then that too would be destroyed, only to be cleaned, and ruined yet again. Jareth had grown tired of cleaning, after the first several hundred times, and so had allowed the kitchen and throne room to remain in disarray.

"Your majesty!" a rather plump goblin called from the throne.

It managed a rather respectable bow and then straightened back up without much struggling. Jareth observed all this with mild amusement, and the normal air of dignity that he constantly wore. He motioned for the goblin to continue with his little speech.

"Yes?" Jareth questioned.

The goblin cleared his throat and tried to appear better than his appearance would allow. This produced only laughter from the surrounding crowd of goblins who had actually put their antics on hold to see what was to be said. The lone goblin flashed the others a wicked glare and then smiled at Jareth.

The Goblin King responded with a sigh and then brushed past the goblin. He sat in his throne and then leaned forward to listen to the piece of `wisdom' that was about to leave this creature's mouth.

"Someone has said the words, your majesty!" the goblin proclaimed with a gleeful smile.

Jareth's smirk fell from his face and he collapsed back against the throne. He was not ready to venture to the human world and take the child. His labyrinth was far from being up to the regular treacherous standards and he still lacked any sort of past. He could not take the baby, and so would have to risk the consequences.

Jareth pictured the fading Underground in his mind as he decided what must be done. Should he take the baby, and let the other venture through what was left of the Labyrinth, then there would be no contest. The older child would only have to make her way around the maze and straight to the castle, no tests encountered, no magical spells to hinder progress, and no threatening Goblin King.

No, he could not.. would not take the chance and give into the amusement that generally accompanied taking the babies. He had enjoyed watching so very many of them travel through the Labyrinth's twisting and turning body, ever-changing, as well. This time, (and only once would he allow this to happen) he would ignore the calls for a savior, which he certainly wasn't but did not mind being thought of as so, before he arrived in all frightening glory!

"Go on with you. I am not in the mood to travel to the human world and snatch another baby from the arms of some crying, immature child. Ignore the calls and let the two be left alone. Perhaps, this one may learn the lessons without the Labyrinth," Jareth stated, his hand covering his eyes.

There was a unified gasp from the goblins as the words that the king had dared to say, sunk in. They had never seen him deny a call, never! This certainly was not right, and even they were intelligent enough to understand this. However, what were they to say when everytime one spoke up it was then sent to the Bog of Eternal stench, or some other form of punishment was soon inflicted?

Jareth whipped his hand from before his face and glared at the masses of gazing, stupid eyes. Most had once been children, some long time ago. Now they did not remember that past, but only their goblin lives. If they had known the truth, perhaps they would have rejoiced in his decision to not capture the baby.

"What is so interesting that you must stare!?" Jareth demanded, his lips curling back in a feral sneer.

As one, each goblin returned to their infantile games. Not a single creature looked at the angered king, for all knew the consequences. They had noticed when one was suddenly gone and never talked about after the disappearance. So, naturally, all were terrified that that same fate could be theirs, should they dare to stand out in a crowd.

He glared at them a while longer, allowing his flashing, wild eyes to settle on each one, in a form of reminder that he would not take any form of insult from these pests. Jareth was only sure that they had forgotten about his strange statement when they returned to their games.

Jareth turned from his minions, obviously satisfied with their subordinate attitudes. They understood his ways very well, for he had taken great pains to drill the rules into their feeble minds. Perhaps it had taken much time, but the rewards were immeasurable. He smiled inwardly at his accomplishments, but would only allow the self-praise for a short time. He had other matters to attend to.

First upon his list was the girl, Sarah. She was still safely secured away in her room, waiting for him to return and speak to her about who she was, where she belonged, and all the other questions that she seemed to have in endless supply. It would take a long time to rewrite her past, for he did not know all of it, only a few years. Still, she certainly required some sort of memory, so that she might have some hope of eventual recovery.

Jareth started at his concern for the girl. He had only brought her for revenge, and now was dwelling upon the way he would develop her past into something that she would consider reality. He did not care if she was lost, if she felt as if the world could not get worse and that she would rather be dead than forced to survive in this dismal and heartless place. For Jareth had not been offered a single considerate thought when his memory vanished, not by her, not by anyone!

"Why was this hardship forced upon me, when I have endured so much?" Jareth inquired to himself.

There was no answer. There were very few reasons as to why things happened, as of lately. He had grown to accept the fact that things happen, and don't always make sense. He could remember a younger Sarah claiming "That's not fair!" He scoffed at her juvenile outlook on life, and the reality that was held within those three little words.

"You do not know how right you are, dear Sarah," Jareth remarked, his voice drifting off as he was once again encompassed by thoughts.

Sarah. Her name brought such a mix of emotions to him. They tore at him, urging Jareth to either destroy her or take her into his arms for all time. He still had not decided why it was Sarah who he had seen first when his bit of memory returned. Her face, so open and beautiful, came through his mind and passed through fantasies that he had dared to dream before he had learned of their past. He had loved her so, when she had come to his fantasies.

However, things never work out so simple. There was quite a hitch in his love. Sarah, was an enemy to his land. She had caused this problem, this forgetfulness and the fading labyrinth. She had to be punished, but how could he now? Jareth could not punish her for something that she did not remember ever doing. As far as she was concerned her home was in the Underground, in the castle.

Yet, that was not reality, only a dream he had dwelled upon a few short times. He would have to think things through, if he wanted to still reap his revenge in the end. However, after all of the recent events, Jareth seriously doubted that he would ever receive what he had tried to gain for such a long time.

Jareth produced a single perfect crystal in his gloved palm. The contrast of cold, ruthless, black leather, against such innocence and purity that was held within this crystal, very nearly made his soul ache. It was not right, though he had done it this way for his entire reign, and now, there would be no more change. Things were set in a certain order, and to alter that existence would be to tear the fabric of existence, itself, hence the reason he continued to remain king when he yearned to leave and start a new life anywhere else. Even the human world sounded more enticing than another day being pestered by goblins at every waking moment.

Jareth turned his intense gaze to the glimmering orb that rested, almost cradled, in his hand. Within its depths a figure formed, swirling with colors of life and beauty, and Jareth's breath was taken away from the sight of her, walking from the closet with a lovely dress in one hand.

Her hair, pulled back from her lovely face truly accentuated her older features. She no longer held the face that was full, still a child. Her features were elegant, still rounded, but to a perfection that brought any other thoughts of revenge to an end. She had matured so much, had changed in those years, and he had only been able to dwell from afar. Jareth had not been able to see anything more than the crystals would allow.

He dared to watch her a brief moment longer and then tossed the orb carelessly into the air. He did not care what would become of the ball, for it was expendable, not like a forgotten past. He smiled a bit at the endless worries that pestered his mind and then turned to gaze out the nearby window.

The day was stunning, as most generally were in the Underground. The sky, a cornflower blue with faint white clouds drifting through, was a sight to draw a sigh from anyone's mouth. The sun, so tender and warm in its radiant glow, highlighted all of the Underground with a welcoming light.

Jareth's dreamy expression changed quite suddenly. His mismatched eyes widened in concern that burned at his entire body and threatened to send him to his knees, should he not be careful of the shock that awaited him out that window. He staggered there, and looked out to the vast Underground, so perfect, and yet so very wrong.

"It cannot be!" Jareth muttered.

All around him the goblins continued to babble nonsense and toss articles of cloth, and bits of food around the room. They did not offer the shocked king a single sideways glance. It was best that way. If they should have looked towards their king, they would have been given a fright of immense proportions. Jareth's face had turned stark white, and his eyes held such a horrified look.

He shook his head and mouthed a single `no' in response to the sight that laid before him. He looked at the plot of land, many miles, and stretching far out in so many different directs. There was nothing but dirt and a few crushed weeds to adorn that area.

"My Labyrinth, it is gone!"

Chapter Ten

Sarah stood before the full length mirror, the beautiful silken dress draped over her shoulders. She turned her hips and admired the way the material drifted all about her legs, and then fell back into place at her feet. It certainly was amazing, and a far better garment than the dirty clothes she was currently wearing. Besides, with these things on, she did not feel as if she belonged here, in this remarkable castle.

Surely she had gone elsewhere, and so had chosen these pants as something more practical. Perhaps she and... that man (she would have to make a genuine effort to ask his name and hold it in her disagreeable memory) had gone out on a walk, or a ride, or something of those sorts. Of course, her memory prevented her from knowing what had really happened. However, once she was able to speak to the King, then he might inform her of what had transpired.

"Why are you taking so long?" Sarah asked her mirror reflection, still letting her gaze run over the dress as it shimmered and shone from the sun rays that streamed through a nearby window.

Sarah tore herself away from the mirror and set the dress ever so delicately upon the wondrous downy bed. She wanted to jump back into it and cuddle in the silken masterpiece, but she knew that she had other things to attend to, which were far more important than lounging in a huge bed all day.

Sarah quickly changed, instantly in love with the luscious material that swept against her skin, as if some tropical liquid. It flowed as if it were water, a silver color that shimmered with thousands of other points of light. Sarah rushed before the mirror, stifling a series of excited laughter when she realized that it fit as if it had been entirely made for her.

"Well of course it does," Sarah stated.

This dress was part of her, a piece of the past that she could not remember. If she had lived in this castle, she would certainly have clothes, and if they were anywhere, then they would be placed in her room. It was only practical. This had to be her room! She took in every part of it, still thinking about just how amazing it was. However, if she had lived here her entire life, then the surroundings would have seemed normal, everyday, and even dull. Sarah did not believe that she could ever think such a thing, but she did not know how or even who she was before.

She straightened the dress and adjusted her hair with a quick glance in the mirror. She had to see the King before she did anything else. He had the answers that she so lacked, and would soon tell her all. Sarah smiled once again, instantly encouraged and nearly skipped to the large wooden door.

It appeared heavier than it actually was, since she only used minimal strength to pull it open. Sarah shut the door behind herself and then looked around the hallway. Her image of a fairytale castle was shattered, immediately. The most disgusting little thing was lounging against one wall. He was licking stubby fingers and grumbling to himself about problems, or something. Sarah gulped back a disgusted yelp and inched her way past the dirty, vile, ugly, creature.

She lifted her dress so as not to allow the pure thing to touch this being of such dirty appearances. It nearly made her sick just looking at it. She wondered what a thing that was so imperfect was doing in this castle, one that she had obviously lived in. Maybe these little creatures had always been here, then she would have been used to them as well. Sarah sighed deeply as the thoughts pestered her blank mind.

"How am I to find him in this place?" Sarah asked herself as she realized that the hallway branched into several others.

She looked down each way, hoping beyond hope that one would lead her to the man who had spoken to her earlier. She turned down one, a sense of dread raising up in her stomach. She did not know any piece of this castle, and so would certainly become hopelessly lost in a matter of minutes.

Sarah stopped abruptly and moaned. She fell back against a wall and then closed her wide, frightened eyes. She had not seen another of those little creatures, but was sure that they were everywhere. For some reason, she had an idea that where there was one, there were sure to be many more. That realization scared her more than the thought of being lost. For now she was hopelessly lost and had to face the disgusting things alone once again.

She opened her eyes, a strange sensation coming over her as if she had touched an electrical fence. A white flash covered her vision and sent her to the ground, her back still to the wall. Her mind was opened for the briefest moment, allowing the bleakness to lift. A single memory surface and revealed itself to her.

She could see herself, much younger, and in a twisting, turning passage. She had no idea what this passage was part of, but the confusing nature reminded her entirely of the hallway. She was probably fourteen, perhaps fifteen, but that did not matter much. Her expression that was plastered upon her face was one of anger and determination. She did not know who she would be angry with, or why, but the fact remained that she was certainly not in a good mood.

Sarah's vision cleared as the memory became less poignant and seeped into hibernation in her mind. She remained seated on the ground, her eyes darting about in hopes that the King would find her and help her with all that she was facing. Sarah feared that she would simply go crazy should she have to deal with all this alone.

She made her way back to her feet and dusted off the lovely dress. Sarah cringed as she realized that her hands were covered in a fine layer of gray dust. She had had no idea just how dirty this castle could be, and had never intended to get the dust on the dress. Sarah brushed it a bit more and the gave up, hoping that most was off.

She felt strangely drained from the flashback, as if she had been running instead of walking so slowly through these hallways. She was nearing panic, and Sarah supposed that when she finally lost her control she would begin running through this maze of halls and doors and stairs. This would only succeed in making her more lost, but Sarah did not care.

"Oh! Where am I?!?" Sarah demanded, beating her fist against a nearby door.

"Where am I?" a voice echoed her cries.

Sarah instantly halted in what she was doing. She cocked her head as she listened to the voice that had followed her own. Perhaps it had been something as simple as an echo, nothing more. However, the voice had sounded strangely different, not matching hers the way echoes usually did.

Sarah glanced around herself, and walked towards the direction from whence the voice had come. She saw nothing, absolutely nothing that was any different from what she had seen the first time through this hallway. Sarah stopped again, entirely disgusted with the day and this maze-like castle. It seemed as if the king, himself, could get lost in this confusing place.

"Hello?" Sarah called out.

It took the briefest moment for her voice to return, once again slightly altered from her usual tones. Sarah broke into a run, gathering her dress into her hands to keep it from catching under her feet. She could just imagine falling and destroying the dress, as well as injuring herself.

She stopped and threw the skirts from her hands, and then crossed her arms over her chest. She was quite upset with the person, who was so obviously playing games with her. Why else would they only answer when she spoke? Her good mood had already drifted away, to return on a brighter day.

Sarah glared in the voice's general direction and then turned to face it. She was not about to play along any longer. This fool had had its fun and now she would tell it off, as she should have done originally.

"I certainly hope that you are satisfied with yourself. I am not about to remain here any longer, and tolerate these... these... pointless games!" She stated in her most demure, adult voice possible.

Sarah turned with an abrupt twirl and lifted her dress back into her hands. She stomped off, trying to remain lady-like even though her horrid temper was causing quite a need to spout off some insults towards the prankster. However, she would not allow herself to stoop to that level, and she did have a king to find and a past to remember, which was all more important than being angry with something that she had never even seen.

"Wait, Sarah, don't go!" the same drifting, lilting voice replied.

Sarah halted in her tracks. Her stomach lurched uncomfortably, and her throat suddenly felt two times too small. She tried to swallow, or attempt to speak, but her voice was lost. She gradually dared a glance backwards, and still nothing was different than it had been a few short moments earlier. Once again, that person had tricked her.

"Sarah?" the voice asked again.

Sarah rushed down the hallway once again, not willing to let this thing go without first being able to at least catch a glimpse of how it looked. Her curiosity had gotten the better of her, and she was helpless to fight it. After all, "Curiosity did kill the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."

"Who are you?" she called, stopped beside one of the many windows that lined the hallway.

There was no answer for a short time, and the only sound that broke the silence in that area of the castle was Sarah's deep breathing. She waited anxiously to hear more, to see who had spoken to her, yet nothing happened. She was getting very disgusted with this all, and had had it with the infuriating voice.

"You!" the voice drifted past her, riding the breeze that blew in through the window.

Sarah's anger melted away and she hurried to the window ledge. She looked outside, observing the lovely day, capped with a crystal blue sky and highlighted with soothing rays of sweet sunshine. However, still she did not see the keeper of the mysterious voice.

"I'm Sarah!" she called out, hoping that the person would step into her field of vision.

"Sarah!" the voice answered back.

She sighed, obviously upset with this new game that had been started without her consent. She was not in the mood to guess what one name, out of the millions that are known in the world, belonged to this person. They either told her or she left. It was as simple as that.

"No, who are you?" her voice had taken on a strange teacher quality, filled with strict discipline.

"You," was the only answer that she received.

Sarah threw her hands up in desperation and proceeded to scan the castle grounds. Perhaps the person was hiding from her in some of the shadows. She noticed a quaint garden, adorned with every wondrous flower imaginable. A white well was situated in the center of the garden, and a golden bench, worked with intricate designs, was placed facing the lovely well. Both had been overcome by ivy. Two trellises were at the front and back of the garden, also covered with overgrown shimmering green leaves that fell from the ivy vines. She had not noticed originally that the entire garden had been allowed to run rampant and was quite wild and entirely overgrown. It was such a pity to see a marvelous creation, that had so much potential to be gorgeous, in ruins, as it obviously was. Sarah briefly wondered why she had never ventured down there to keep the garden up when she had lived in her past. This bothered her a bit, making her wonder what kind of person she really was before her accident and before her memories had been swept clean.

She immediately decided that it was her responsibility to prune the garden back to a semblance of order. Perhaps spending time out in that lovely place would bring back some of her lost memories, that is, if it truly had been a place she had loved, and Sarah saw no reason why it should not be.

She had completely forgotten the voice that had drawn her to this garden, until she saw the flicker of a black shape against the bushes out there. Sarah immediately turned to gaze in the direction of the shadowed shape. Sarah struggled to make out who it was, but the shape had already faded away to nothing.

Sarah leaned out of the window, ignoring the deathly fall that laid before her. She was only persistent on finding out who it was that had called to her so many times, and now lurked through the shadows down below.

"Hello? Is tha...," Sarah's voice immediately cut off when a strong hand fell on her shoulder.

She very nearly fell out the window, from the startle she received. Sarah felt herself drawn back in, and away from the fall, and the shadow she had tried to see. She whirred around, quite upset that this person had dared to scare her so much, and almost cause a horrid accident all at the same time.

Sarah gazed up at Jareth, her vicious words were drawn away the moment she saw the strange concern in his eyes. He had obviously thought that she had been falling. After all, she had been leaning out of the window quite a ways.

"Hello, ...," she paused waiting for the King to tell her his name once again.

Jareth offered her a sly grin and then looked out the window. His eyes darkened at the sight of the garden, the wild overgrown flowers. He turned and pointed an accusing finger at Sarah, his eyes overwhelmed with lightning and a fierce anger forming in his heart. He motioned towards the window with a tilt of his head and then glared at her, blaming her.

"What were you doing?" Jareth demanded.

Sarah backed away from his menacing presence. She did not understand what had caused such a change in his personality. She had done nothing, only wandered through the halls in search of him, and then looked at the lovely, if not unkempt, garden. She shook her head in a form of denial as to what he was accusing her of.

"That is of no importance to you, Sarah. That is not part of your past, nor shall it be part of your life!" he threatened, now pointing out the window.

Sarah swallowed and turned away from him. He had no right to talk to her in such an evil way. She was in charge of her life and what she did. If she wished to tend to the garden, then there really was not anything that he could do to stop her. Unless, of course, there was a real reason behind his rules.

"Why should I not go to that garden? What does it matter?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest to emphasize her stubbornness.

Jareth walked around to face her, his anger taking over his actions as it had done many times before. Sarah was fearful, but would not give into his game of frightening her into submission. She wanted answers, and would not get them if he withheld these things from her. All she wanted was an explanation, as to why the garden was so overgrown, and why she was not to see it, ever.

"I have told you that you are not to go there, and you should respect my decisions. This is my castle and I will not have to explain myself to you ever again. If you are to stay here, and I am to help you with your memories, you must listen to me! I will not be forced into these sorts of fights with you!" he stated, his voice raising to a booming quality.

Sarah let out a deep breath. He was generous to help her, and, since he was so passionate about her remaining away from the garden, she would listen. She nodded her head in agreement to his demands and then allowed a small smile to form on her lips.

"I will do this for you, but don't think that since you are allowing me to stay here, and you are helping me, that I will give into all you command," Sarah answered.

"We shall discuss this later," Jareth answered and turned to lead her from the maze of hallways she had become lost in.

Sarah began to follow, lifting her long flowing dress into her hands. However, the need to see the garden one last time plagued her soul and she glanced back over her shoulder. Once again she saw the shadow, shifting in between bushes and finally ducking behind the quaint little well. Sarah dared to watch for a few more moments and then hurried after Jareth.

Chapter Eleven

The large metal doors that served as the main entrance into the castle opened wide, allowing passage. They were threatening in their size and ominous appearance. The doors swung easily, as if they weighed nothing and were not made of such a heavy metal, but instead a material that was far lighter. However, the truly amazing feat of the doors, was the fact that they opened of their own accord, for no one was at either side, struggling to open them.

Sarah watched these two massive doors standing open, as if they were tall sentry guards waiting for her and the king to walk through. She briefly wondered what would happen if the magic that had opened these doors should wear off. Sarah shuddered at the entirely terrifying thought and managed to drive it from her mind. Even to think about such a possibility could cause it to occur. Sarah did not yearn to experience what should happen if these two no longer wanted to be open, but instead closed.

"Sarah stop it!" she demanded.

It was strange, her name. She was sure that the King had told her the truth and that her name really was Sarah, but it certainly did not sound all that familiar. She supposed that it fit her, as names should. However, she could not ever remember a time when it had.... Well, she could not remember any time, except for that short glimpse of her as a younger teenager, making her way through a maze.

"Where are your thoughts now, Sarah?" Jareth asked, breaking her from her reverie.

Sarah turned to face the King. She seemed stunned that he had spoken, as if she had forgotten that he had been there to begin with. However, the usual friendly smile reappeared the next instant and she laughed at her dreamy personality. She would have to learn to remain in the real world, far from thoughts that struggled to encompass her entire being.

"They're everywhere. I must ask you something, and don't think me rude, but I have a very good excuse, what with this faded memory. What is your name?" she asked, quite gently.

Jareth seemed to consider this question, although it was innocent. It just seemed so strange to hear her, a person he had always believed would never forget anything about the Underground, need reminders about what his name was. Yet, even her most precious memories had faded away to nothing.

"Jareth," he answered, keeping himself stiff and emotionless, "Come this way, Sarah."

Sarah said his name a few times to herself, trying with all her might to keep it in her memory, unlike the rest of her life that had seemed to filter out. Once sure that there would be no losing his name she concentrated more on her host, and his strange attitudes, that changed so very often. She had a hard time keeping track of what his mood was at any certain time.

"Jareth, how long have you lived here?" Sarah asked, gazing around the castle grounds.

For the most part, green grass surrounded the castle, just within the gates. Outside the tall wall Sarah could barely make out ramshackle huts, with tendrils of smoke making their ways out of a few broken-down chimneys. She supposed that it had to be a city, but did not really care to discover who lived there, not after seeing the other dwellers of the castle.

Jareth was silent, not offering the smallest acknowledgment of her question. Sarah would only wait a short time until she grabbed his arm and forced the King to look back at her, though she also succeeded in making him somewhat upset. Jareth scowled and shook his arm free of her grasp.

"You didn't answer me!" Sarah stated, playfully.

"Oh, I didn't. Perhaps because the answer does not concern you," he retorted, his voice turning cold towards her.

Sarah instantly backed away, her eyes flashing briefly with a hurt that he had inflicted. Jareth nearly felt as if he had committed some grave sin or sacrilege, by the horrid damaged emotion in her eyes. Yet, he was the king and she was a mortal, nothing important. She did not need to know his life, only her past, which he still needed to make up.

The pain in her eyes changed, as quickly as it had formed, to that of anger. She had been treated poorly long enough, and would not take it any longer. She had had it with his arrogant attitude, and demeaning way he spoke to her. Sarah had every right to ask him questions, for she had forgotten all she had once known, all her memories. She deserved a chance to recall her past.

"You expect me to listen to you, to go along with all you say, and yet you treat me so rudely! What do you think you would do if the roles were reversed, Jareth? How do you think you would feel without a past, without memories of who you are, and where you came from, and what your damn name is!? Do you think I ask these questions for fun, for my enjoyment? I ask merely to remember, so that I won't have to live in this fog any longer and that I can have my life back! However, you will not even grant me that tiny wish, to remember!" she said, tears slipping down her cheeks.

Jareth stiffened a bit at her emotional outburst. He had no idea of what to do to calm her, because the Sarah he had known had never allowed her barrier to be broken, and her tears to show in his presence. Nonetheless, he turned and stood in front of the weeping girl, awkward, but there.

"I will answer all you want to know about your past, my dear, and that is why I am taking you out here. Perhaps, sometime, I will tell you of my past, but as of now, I cannot," Jareth left the explanation at that.

He scoffed at his poor answers, as to why his past must remain hidden. He had no memories, much the same as Sarah, but would not tell her so. If he was to give her her past, it would not make sense to inform her that he too had a memory loss, even though he did recall her.

Sarah seemed to think about his offer for a few moments, debating whether or not to accept his terms as they stood. She swallowed back the fresh tears and tried to clear the lump from her throat. Her tears were not helping the situation, just making her appear weak before this man who would be testing her determination constantly. She swiped at the tears and then held her head high.

She would simply pretend that the outburst of tears had never occurred. It was best to just move on with life. Sarah allowed herself a single deep breath in order to steady her shaking voice, so that she would not sound as horribly weak as she felt at that time.

"Where are we going?" she asked skeptically.

Jareth only offered her a somewhat smug grin and continued along the perimeter of the castle. He placed his gloved hands behind his back and offered her a single backwards glance. His gorgeous, magical eyes, of such shifting colors, struck the rays of sun and reflected with awesome hues of golds, and white, and even the palest lavender from within the crystalline blue depths of one.

Sarah felt herself transfixed in this hypnotic gaze, these dancing, entrancing eyes. She had only just met this man, according to her forgotten memories, and already she felt such a need to be near him, such an overwhelming attraction. Even when he glanced at her, with those eyes, she felt tingles all over, as if a cold breeze had only just found its way through the light material of her dress.

However, soon he had turned and only gave her the view of the back of his head, and the white-blonde locks that floated gently in the spring breeze, that was scented faintly with flowers. She shook herself from this love-struck state, trying with all her might to remain in a sane mind. Oh, it was so hard when she was forced to spend every moment with a man who looked like Jareth.

"Really Sarah, are you coming?" Jareth inquired as he turned to wait for her.

A faint blush rose on her cheeks and she quickly hurried to him. Leave it to her, to completely make a fool of herself. Sarah silently scolded herself for her dreamy personality and made a mental note to stay on task, and not constantly drift off into her own thoughts, no matter how alluring they were.

"Are you going to draw this wait out much longer?" she inquired, a pout formed upon her full, lush lips.

"It all depends on how slow you insist upon walking," Jareth replied, once again the strange playful half-smile rested on his mouth.

He turned and continued at the brisk pace that he had always used. Of course, he had once simply faded away and then appeared at the place to which he had wished to journey. However, he did not want to take the chance that he would appear somewhere that he had never recalled seeing before. In that case, walking was far more safe.

He offered Sarah a sidelong glance, allowing their eyes to meet for the briefest moment, and savoring the way her breath caught as he offered her his smile once again. Her face was so lovely, so youthful, and her mouth, pursed just slightly, was so enticing, luring him to press his lips to it. Her cheeks had acquired quite a blush, making her seem more ethereal than before. However, Jareth turned with haste, so as not to appear out of form.

"Do you find your room acceptable?" Jareth questioned, in an attempt to clear the atmosphere of the choking silence.

She found herself voiceless for a few short minutes, unable to respond to his normal question. It was small talk, nothing more, and could not be treated as anything more important. However, the way he had looked at her, held her eyes, and appeared almost enamored, had thrown her quite off guard.

"Oh, yes. Yes, of course it's lovely, but I'm afraid I still don't remember anything about my life before the accident. H-How did it happen?" she dared to ask another question, hoping that he would not stop their conversation.

"You hit your head, my dear. I brought you into your room and you awakened, lacking any sort of memory," he stated, short but to the point.

Sarah digested the facts that she had already guessed at. Jareth was not about to disclose anything more than the barest memories that she needed. She wanted to remember all, not just event by event. Memories were made of so much more, including feelings, scents, settings, words, weather, people....love. She glanced back at Jareth, hopeful that he might continue and tell her what she so longed to hear, that they had been something before she had had the accident. That they had known each other at least, and had been closer than acquaintances.

"I want to know about my life. Did I live here? Was I from elsewhere and running away? How did you find me? Did we know each other? How did I meet you and why do those creatures live in this lovely castle? I am bursting to satiate this hunger. I need your help," she explained, grabbing his arm and breathing deeply in excitement for what she yearned to learn.

Jareth cleared his throat, but could not bring himself to shake her from his arm. He instead looked at her with the normal air of dignity and then turned, allowing her to keep herself attached. Her hands, so slender and delicate, caressed the soft material that had constructed his jacket, sending shivers across his back and arms. Yet again, Sarah was affecting him and he could only hope that he would be able to ignore her overwhelming beauty and alluring nature.

"All will be answered in due time, Sarah. We did know each other before you hurt yourself, but only met on one single occasion. I believed it was a time that changed your life, or that was how I was led to see it," Jareth explained.

Sarah's next statement was broken by the welcoming sound of a horse's nicker. A stable, as royal in appearance as the castle, stood ahead of them. Sarah was immediately given a strange rush of happiness, simply from the sounds and sight of the barn that was so close. She wanted to run there and greet each and every animal.

Her mind swam with thoughts, and more questions. Why was she experiencing such a need to see these horses, to actually ride, when she could not even remember how one is to ride? She could not recall a thing that she had ever done with horses, or on them for that matter, and still knew that she could not leave without at least leading one out of its stall, if only to look at the majestic animal.

Her vision suddenly doubled and Sarah's chestnut eyes opened wide in shock. The ground before her blurred and promptly fell out of focus. The light died, leaving her in a serene twilight, a silvery moon highlighting the ground before her, and leading her way to the barn.

She lurched into Jareth, unable to support herself any longer. She held one hand out and swept it around ahead of her, as if she was attempting to move something. Sarah looked around herself, her face so filled with fright that the Goblin King, himself, felt an unreasonable fear raise in his soul.

"It's dark, why? I-I my horse, I can hear her and I think that...," Sarah paused again to sweep her hand out in all directions around herself.

"Sarah! Sarah!" Jareth demanded, grasping her shoulders in his strong hands and shaking her a bit.

There was no effect. She struggled in his grip, swinging her hands about her, as if she was shielding herself from something. Her mouth opened in utter horror, and her gaze set upon his face, but she was not looking at him, instead through him. Sarah pushed at him, trying to escape.

"No! Oh, please no! The branch, oh no, duck please. Don't go! NO!" Sarah screamed, and then fell forward into the King's arms.

Her body felt weak, helpless against him. She was so lost, alone, and he was ready to warp her memories for his benefit. What was making him need such a revenge, one that surely would do him no good? He was her only hope in this land where she was as lost as he was. For once, they were on the same level, and they could help each other.

Sarah grasped at him, steadying herself on her shaking legs. The strange night scene had disappeared from before her eyes, and now she knew where she was, or at least had an idea as to where she was. She could feel Jareth's arms around her, and her face instantly burned with embarrassment. She broke free of his grasp and swept her hands through her pony tail.

"I, had another memory flashback. I remembered riding and then hitting a branch. I tried to stop myself, to warn myself that it was going to happen, but I didn't listen. I thought that I had died," she stated, still shaken from the whole flashback.

Jareth nodded with her statement. Her memory was already coming back to her, and had not been gone for even a day. Perhaps, she would not be here long, after all. If it continued to return at this rate, Jareth doubted that Sarah would remain in the Underground for much longer than a week. His thoughts of a new beginning, a second chance, were immediately extinguished.

"Come along, Sarah," he said, emotionless.

Jareth led her to the barn, quite simple, but still remarkable. She was awed at the massive size of the stables. From a distance they had seemed ordinary, but now, she discovered just how very wrong she had been. Sarah threw her lady-like ways aside and then rushed up to the barn, holding her skirts up as she ran.

"It's amazing!" Sarah could only gaze at the building as she spoke. "Are you going to stand there, and ignore the reason why I brought you here? Go on, Sarah, go on inside and see if you remember anyone," Jareth urged.

Jareth observed that she smiled as if she were a child on Christmas morning, as if she had just run into the living room and seen the piles of presents beneath the wondrous Christmas tree. Her eyes glittered with joy, and a sort of greed that most young children aquire over the holidays, while many more appreciate the spirit of giving.

Sarah disappeared within the darkened barn aisle. The welcome sounds of horses eating, nickering, and generally just relaxing, instantly tugged at her foggy memories. They were all so familiar, as if it would take only a single push to have every bit of her past brought back to her in a sudden sweeping flood.

However, she lacked that final push that was required, and so did not receive her past. She did remember something, about a horse that she had ridden. Oh, she could not make it come out. Sarah stomped her foot on the ground in frustration and only succeeded in spooking a horse stalled nearby.

"Have you found her yet?" Jareth questioned from the front of the barn, leaning against one wall as he observed Sarah's tantrum.

She spun around to face him, her hand placed over her heart in mock shock. Jareth did not seem to understand her sarcasm, and instead continued to wait for her to find the `surprise' he had talked about. Sarah offered him a slight smile, though she doubted that he saw it from the distance.

She walked down the barn's aisles, glancing in at each and every stall. Sarah paused momentarily at the last one, at the end, separated from all the others by quite some distance. She glanced inside, as she had done with the others and was met by a remarkable black horse. His great and noble head raised high in the air, and his intelligent eyes observed her.

He was gorgeous, and very obviously a stallion. She could tell simply by the way he walked towards her, and the way he acted so nervous, so protective of all the others. His mane drifted in the breeze, so long and luxurious, reminding Sarah of Jareth's blonde hair. This was a true masterpiece of an animal, and she knew that she would never be able to find enough words to describe him.

The black stallion stopped in front of her, his nostrils flared through the bars, in an attempt to decide just who this new stranger was, and if she was a threat or not. Sarah stood still, allowing the horse time to acquaint himself with her. She did not expect to ever ride this horse, or get closer than she was at that time, but there was no reason why she should not be able to see him.

"He is gorgeous, isn't he?" Jareth's velvety voice asked from directly behind her.

This time Sarah did not have to fake her startle. She had not even guessed that the King had been behind her. How long had he been there, watching her stare at his horse? Sarah nodded in agreement with Jareth. Her heart beat faster as she felt Jareth's hands upon her shoulders and his face so near her neck.

He brushed her hair away from her ear and brought his mouth down to whisper to her. His breath caressed across her neck, sending shivers all up and down her spine. Sarah hoped that he did not take offense to her reaction. "You have yet to find her, Sarah," Jareth stated.

He withdrew his hands and walked down the aisle, glancing at some of the horses. Sarah did not turn to look at him, but instead let her gaze wander over the muscular stallion in front of her, still breathing in her scent. She swallowed and then broke her paralysis with a sudden turn. She had to find the horse that Jareth was speaking about.

"Can't you give me a hint? I am at a disadvantage without any memories," Sarah complained as she glanced in on some more of the many horses.

Jareth laughed at her whining tone, and she instantly felt her anger rising. She did have every right to be upset. However, she seemed to be using her amnesia as an excuse for everything, as of lately. Perhaps, it would be best to move on and fight it with every breath in her body. She could no longer be a slave to her forgotten memories.

She brushed her temper aside for the time being, and decided to talk to Jareth about his haughty nature later. She had other matters to attend to, such as finding one horse in this barn of at least twenty others. Sarah paused at another stall and gazed in.

Once again a lovely horse gazed back at her. The young mare's eyes opened wide at the sight of Sarah and her head raised to nicker. Sarah almost left, to search through other stalls, but something about this certain horse drew her back. She swung the stall door open, mildly surprised that there was no grating iron sound to accompany the moving door, and stepped into the freshly cleaned stall. The smell of new bedding drifted to her, as did that of cleanly cut hay.

The horse rubbed her head against Sarah's shoulder and then blew out a deep, calming breath. Sarah rubbed the mare's pink muzzle, and her nearly white head. There was something about this horse that stood out among the others. She was very close to white, but covered in chestnut spots. Sarah giggled as she thought about paint splatters all over.

Jareth stood at the stall door, watching as a strange light dawned in Sarah's widened eyes. She allowed her giggles to deepen into laughter as she realized that she knew this horse. Sarah rubbed the sweet animal's neck and then gleefully turned to Jareth, pointing to the horse next to her.

"It-It's my horse, Tripix!"

Chapter Twelve

Sarah was briefly awe struck by her sudden realization. She had thought that her past was lost for good, and now this one little ray of hope shone brilliantly through all the discouragement that was sure to lay ahead. Tripix broke Sarah's shock with a gentle push with her noble head.

"Very good, Sarah," Jareth stated from the stall door.

Sarah instantly turned to face him, and just barely won over an urge to jump into his arms in the pure joy that had overwhelmed her in that moment. It was almost as if nothing could go wrong. However, there was something that she saw in Jareth's eyes that stopped her celebration, before she had been able to enjoy her accomplishment to its fullest.

He was smiling, but only slightly, just for her benefit. His eyes, those that had seemed so hypnotizing a bit earlier, now were only dulled, and covered in a gloom that could be nothing other than sadness. There was no reason for despair, for she had begun to recall her past, and in no time she would be back to normal, and she would have Jareth to thank for all he had done.

Jareth caught her gaze, her wildly excited eyes were drawn to his and instantly she was worried about him. He looked as if he had been completely broken, different from his normal kingly self. However, she could not put her finger on exactly what had changed, or altered, or just shifted a tiny space. Jareth turned to avoid her probing gaze and walked out of sight.

"Wait! Jareth!" Sarah called, hoping that she had not waited too long to speak to him.

The footsteps in the empty barn aisle sounded so lonely. She felt her heart wrench in the thought of this King being forced to live in a castle without a companion, and only mindless creatures to rule over. She could understand his sadness, for she could leave when her memories returned completely. The footsteps halted as her voice drifted to Jareth.

She gave Tripix a final pat on her nose and then rushed out to speak to Jareth. He deserved a better life. After all, there were not many people who would have taken her in and helped her so much with her memories. He was a bit hard to cope with, what with his strangely shifting personalities, but there was a good spirit in his soul, that showed itself, if only for the briefest times.

Jareth stood at the large entrance into the barn, his luxurious blonde hair drifting lazily through the fresh breeze. The strange emotion had fallen from his features, leaving the same royal dignity, and haughty air surrounding him, as if it were an aura. His presence took her breath away, for he had changed so much in the scant seconds it had taken her to rush out to see him.

"What is it you wish, Sarah?" Jareth asked, his voice as smooth as a delicate sheet made from the purest and most exquisite silk.

"I was wondering, that is, if you are not busy with other affairs.... Jareth, would you care to join me on a ride?" Sarah suddenly blurted out, her face changing quite a shade of pale pink in the process.

Jareth cocked his head at her question, utterly shocked that she wished to spend time with him. It most certainly would be interesting to see how she would act. He had only been able to fight with her when she had first ventured through the Labyrinth, and now.... This memory loss could benefit him as well as her.

Jareth walked casually towards her, taking his time as he debated what to do. He could sense her nervousness, and her embarrassment at being so forward with him, a king. There was something else surrounding her, something that she was hoping he would not notice, not understand. He did not entirely comprehend the reason for that secretive emotion, but did notice it. For she showed it in the way she spoke with him, walked with him, and reacted to his seductive nature. Sarah enjoyed his company.

"I thought we were to study your past, help your memory," Jareth stated with a sly grin making its way over his elegant features.

"Oh, well, if you think we should, then I guess I can ride another time. It's just so lovely outside, and... Ar-Are you sure that you don't want to go?" she inquired once more, turning her hopeful eyes to gaze at him.

Jareth looked at the young mare, Tripix. It would help Sarah to ride, perhaps even return more of those memories she so yearned to recall. She would have her past back, and all too soon she would remember that they were enemies, despite what he had done when she had been in a time of great need. Jareth glanced over at Sarah, her wide gaze still entirely hopeful that he would agree.

"The horse does need exercise, Sarah," Jareth finally relented.

She broke into a joyful and relieved smile. For Sarah had truly thought that Jareth would turn her down. She was sure her heart would break, should Jareth treat her too poorly. The Goblin King was the only stable thing she could hold onto anymore, in this unpredictable life, so filled with loss and pain.

Sarah hurried back to Tripix's stall, her hands nearly shaking in anticipation about the exhilarating ride. She had only just walked her horse out when she was met with a bored sigh from down the aisle. Sarah peered down, and gasped at the sight that laid before her eyes.

Jareth had already mounted his horse, the black stallion, and they both stood in the sun. The golden rays glinted off the horse's jet black coat, so entirely uniform and intricately brushed near perfection. His massive muscles rippled and stood out in golden highlights. Tripix too raised her head to gaze at the amazing horse that stood watching them. Her delicate ears, as soft as down, perked towards the new animal, worried and interested all at the same time.

"How, I mean...," Sarah stopped, barely able to speak any longer.

Jareth laughed at her naive attitude. Surely she did not think that he would stoop to the level of tacking his own horse. He had used magic. What else was it there for, other than to please him. He realized that she did not understand, and so would remain in question until she finally began to comprehend that the Underground was magical, and so those who harnessed some of the wild magic could then use it, as Jareth did.

"Sarah, you must remember that this is the Underground," Jareth replied, turning his horse to leave.

Sarah gasped, entirely confused with what he had said and why he was leaving without even informing her as to where the tack was kept. She pulled on Tripix, urging the horse to hurry. Sarah glanced back at her stubborn mare, and very nearly dropped the reins that now laid innocently in her open hands.

"It can't be. What...I...Jareth?" Sarah moaned.

Tripix was suddenly tacked, and yet Sarah had done none of it. She had distinctively remembered placing the halter on her horse and leading her out, nothing more. Sarah certainly could not have had enough time, even if she had known where to tie, where to groom, where to find the necessary items.

She scrutinized the saddle, that was so strange when compared to those that she had a vague memory of. She then looked down at herself, remembering that she was clothed in a dress, not jeans, nor riding pants. Sarah groaned in the realization that she would be forced to ride sidesaddle, a way she was sure she would not be able to master too quickly. However, she had to try to find the King, who had decided to rush off without a single word to her. Sarah grumbled at his rudeness and then, after a few unsuccessful attempts, situated herself atop her horse.

"Jareth!" Sarah called as she trotted out from the barn, shocked at the great amount of stability she still held, despite the new riding form.

She took in the scenery with a sweeping gaze, covering the entire grounds of the castle, or at least that which was not blocked by the castle itself. Yet, there was no sign of either Jareth or the gorgeous horse he had ridden. She was sure he could not have just disappeared, but she had not seen how a horse can be bare one moment and saddled the next.

She caught a movement of the darkest shade of silken black out of the corner of her eye, and instantly took chase. Sarah offered no thought about the new saddle, nor did she dwell upon the very real threat of simply losing her balance and toppling completely off. She instead focused on Jareth, and finding him.

Tripix surged forward into a gallop, twisting around a corner and following the wall that surrounded the castle on all sides. The fresh wind blew into Sarah's hair and across her face, drawing more memories out of the foggy realms. Though, they were still too far away to entirely remember.

It was so exhilarating, so amazing, and she knew that this had been something she had loved. The world seemed to disappear, the castle faded into the crystal blue sky overhead, and the wall collapsed to the ground, leaving grass as green as an emerald gem, surrounding her from all angels. It was almost as if nature was reclaiming its hold upon the Underground.

The breeze was scented with roses and daises, and wet dirt that always made her think of spring rains. The gentle sun over-head kissed her skin with delicate golden rays, trickling down and bathing the ground in a perfectly pure light. Tripix still ran, for she too saw the rolling hill in her eyes, that were so fogged with a magical spell beyond both of their comprehension. A brook laid nearby, babbling as it rolled continuously over the rocks that had been cast inside by some young children long ago. It was fresh, cool and clean, and etched its way through the green valley without damaging a single blade of nature's grass.

Now the ground, that had seemed only green, broke out into every hue of the rainbow. Flowers covered the ground as if they were a blanket, or yarn, threading their way between the blades of fresh young grass. They covered her with their intoxicating scent of spring, and summer, and memories of so long past. They surrounded her and Tripix with a purity that she had felt the Underground lacked, and had been right, but in this magic anything could be true.

The fantasy spread out, illuminating everything in the light of this magical dream. She could no longer run past this scenery of such utter perfection. Yet, it simply took her breath away to look at anything for too long. Sarah felt that she had to dwell upon it, for she would never receive the chance to witness something like this again, no matter how long or short her lifetime was.

She noticed that dark shape to the side again and whipped Tripix about. This time Jareth did not run, but instead remained there, atop his steed of midnight blacks. They were the only thing that did not seem pure in this magical land. Sarah turned from them, feeling hurt from seeing such darkness marring the beauty.

"Don't turn from me, Sarah," Jareth commanded.

He was nearer now, right beside her, and she felt drawn to look at him, to see the eye of such a perfect crystalline blue, glimmering with a yearning that she shared. However, there was something that corrupted that purity that had tried to take hold of his soul. Jareth...

"Sarah!" he reminded, touching her shoulder to draw her out of her thoughts.

She had been so close to seeing what was wrong, to finally being able to understand why he had ordered her to remain away from the lovely, but overgrown garden. They had been so close, as if their minds had been one, spirits one, even hearts were one. However, he had broken it and now she finally turned to look at him.

His face shone with a radiant magical light, that accentuated his regal features, and caused his hair to appear silver in this dream. His corrupted appearance seemed to fall away, to reveal one that was not something she distrusted, but could almost dare to love. If she had not been on her horse when she first was overwhelmed by that feeling of love, of need to be with him forever, then she surely would have thrown herself into his arms, or else would have simply died.

"Is this...," she started, but had to glance around at the heavenly surroundings once more before completing her statement.

"A spell? Yes, it is. I created it many times, when in need to leave the Underground and venture into a land that was nothing but vast space to gallop through," Jareth responded.

His usual attitude had drifted away with the addition of the spell. Jareth offered her a single sidelong glance and then jumped from his horse. He patted the black muzzle, and then waved his hand around its face. The next instant, with a flash of bright white light, the black horse had simply faded to nothing.

Jareth then turned to her and held his hand out to her, to offer some assistance. Riding with a dress was such a hassle, when compared to riding in normal pants. She had to manage to get out of the troublesome side saddle and then make it to the ground without tripping over the dress and falling flat on her face. That would just be her luck.

She placed her hand in Jareth's and the other atop his shoulder. His other hand found its way around her slender waist, and Sarah instantly paused. His hand brushed across the silken material, and tantalized her emotions. She could only look down at him and struggle to keep her breathing even. She would not let him know just how much that single touch had affected her. She managed to calm herself and slide off of Tripix's back.

Jareth's hand remained upon her waist, to steady her as she landed upon the ground. Yet, being so near him, so very close to this man who invoked such feelings of love, was more dangerous than making her way off of Tripix. Her legs seemed as if they were the consistency of jelly, and would no longer hold her upright.

"Oh," she exclaimed, as she nearly fell against the King.

Jareth tightened his grip and then placed a single, slender finger below her downturned chin. He forced her to look at him, to accept that he was there in front of her. Yet, that was all he would do. Jareth helped her to reclaim her hold over balance and then took Tripix by the reins.

"Sit down if you must, Sarah," Jareth responded as he waved his hand before the young mare.

Sarah watched in awe as her dear horse vanished entirely from view. She felt a twinge of worry seep into her heart as the questions about where her horse had gone to, attacked her vivid imagination. She would not let herself think about things that could not possibly happen, for they were pointless worries, ones that she did not need when there were so many other things that caused her stress, as of lately.

"Why did you create such a beautiful place? You could ride through any scenery, and yet you choose this meadow. Why?" Sarah asked as she gracefully lowered herself to a rock that was placed near the brook.

Jareth did not answer, but instead walked past her, gazing into the vast distance, all rolling emerald hills of fresh grass, and speckled by the many hues of flowers. His eyes that were so captivating were fixed upon the hills, and yet they looked right through everything, to something that Sarah could not understand.

He finally broke the strange hypnotic state he had been in and turned to gaze at Sarah. His face appeared worn and haggard, much different than the usual Jareth. Of course, she had only known him for a short time, by her memory anyway. It certainly was not long enough to really understand what was normal and what was different.

"I don't know," he said, quite plainly.

Sarah sat in stunned silence for a few fleeting moments, not sure what to say about such a blunt statement. There was so much that she yearned to ask, to know, to understand and comprehend. However, she knew that there was not enough time to spend in this spell to receive all the answers that she so needed. At that moment everything she had wondered was simply gone from her curious mind, leaving her more bleak than before, when all her past was entirely gone.

Jareth offered her a slight smirk, his original nature returning as the minutes passed. She was so innocent, and her purity was beginning to seep into his own soul. The openness that had never been present in his heart, nor in his speech, was suddenly rearing its head, and very often at that. She was changing him, and he feared the time she would leave, for then he was sure that he would simply wither up and die.

"This burning emotion shall not extinguish itself," Jareth thought, and placed his hand to his head.

He turned to her, his eyes suddenly blazing with a fire that yearned for her, for Sarah's loving touch. The blue appeared a ball of flashing ice, as if melting from a heat that was unbearable. The deep chestnut seemed to be dancing with golden and orange tongues of fire, highlighting the darkness of his pupil with lights of love, unquenched, undying need.

There was no other time to tell her how he felt, how much he needed to be with her. Yet, he stopped, halted before he placed his hands on her shoulders, to turn her to face him. He just remained there, one hand poised so near her mass of silken brunette hair that drifted upon the breeze. He knew that he could not go through with what he had so feverishly planned. He had to remain a distance away from her, but seriously doubted how long he could stay that way when these desires fought for control of his mind.

Sarah suddenly turned to look at him and scrutinize the somewhat frenzied look that had found its way upon his usual emotionless face. Jareth drew his hand back with a quick snap and then hastened himself to a more proper form.

"What were you doing?" Sarah asked, as she raised one eyebrow in question.

Jareth once again chose to ignore her question. He only cocked his head and then smiled, if not somewhat smugly for the knowledge he held and would not bestow upon her. He then looked towards the sun, with a mild shock as to how late it had become while they dwelled in this dream world.

"All in due time, Sarah. Your questions have remained unanswered quite long enough, but I fear that time has run short today. Perhaps tomorrow morning we shall be able to speak about your forgotten memories. Until then...," Jareth said as he produced a single crystal from the thin air.

He twisted it about in lithe fingers, that danced as if trained in this form of movement. She watched as the delicate orb made its way over each finger, and then twisted about between all. Then it halted, taking Sarah by surprise and disturbing her all at the same time. She had wanted to watch the crystal dance longer, yet Jareth would not wait.

He tossed the crystal orb into the pure sapphire sky, that had not even been marred by a single white, wispy cloud. It floated there for a few brief moments as if it were a bubble. It even shone with the rainbow lights that bubbles reflect, in all their soapy glory. Yet, it did not remain there long. Instead it erupted into a flash of lavender light, coating Sarah and Jareth completely and drawing all other sights from before their eyes.

The light died away, though did so reluctantly. Sarah blinked several times in order to adjust to the lack of intense magical light. What was there to greet her lowered her somewhat joyful spirits.

Once again they were in the dismal castle, the night already come. The only illumination, besides that offered by the serene moon overhead, was from torches that lined all sides of the hallway. They bathed the already ominous surrounding in an eerie, flickering orange light, that cast strange shadows all around. They reflected in Jareth's stunning eyes, and in her own widened gaze.

"Your room," Jareth said as he opened the door beside him.

Sarah nodded in thanks, not sure what to say about the wonderful ride he had accompanied her on, and the amazing spell that he had crafted for her benefit, at least that time. She had so many thoughts running through her mind, ways to tell him just how much it all meant, how much he meant to her. However, she did not find the perfect phrase, word, anything to voice what had sounded so splendid in her mind.

Sarah paused in the doorway, feeling Jareth's gaze on her back. She took in several deep and calming breaths, in an attempt to regain some control over her racing emotions. She had to thank him, leaving like this would be rude, and could hurt the King. Sarah doubted that that could happen, but it convinced her to speak, nonetheless.

"I wanted to thank you, for everything. If it hadn't been for you, then I am not sure where I would be now. You're unbelievable in so many ways, that I don't know how I can tell you just how much this all means," she said, and then turned to look at him.

His face was bleak, emotionless, and terribly horrifying in the flickering orange glow. He only nodded to her heartfelt thanks, and near proclamation of love and turned on his heels to stride quickly down the hall. The only sound that broke the silence was that of the echoes his boots made on the hard stone floor.

Sarah gripped the door frame as her unanswered love crashed into her chest, and tore her heart to nothing but a hole where she had placed so much hope. Her entire world was as if it had simply ceased to exist, in the time it took Jareth to walk from her speech that was to show her feelings for him. Warm tears trickled down her cheeks, and over her chin, and she did nothing to stop them.

"I love you," she whispered between chokes of ravaging sobs.

Sarah crumpled to the ground, still clutching the door frame in shaking hands. Her back shuddered as the tears attacked so bitterly, reminding her that this was life, and not some fairytale, where things always end with `happily ever after.'

In her mind a single phrase resurfaced from her past and seemed to echo from a distance away, over and over again: "Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave!"

Chapter Thirteen

Jareth stopped at the throne room, his emotional battle within his soul had erupted to a war when Sarah had spoken to him. However, he had not been able to answer her, and had taken the easy way yet again. He had not even made an attempt to speak to her, to discuss her feelings and his own.

Jareth fell into his throne and allowed his gaze to rest on the moon that hung in the velvet night sky. The crystalline shards that were stars sparkled through the night darkness, as if they were fireflies soaring through the sky. It was all so beautiful, and so mocking at the same time.

He could not recall a night that he had watched before Sarah happened into the Underground. He could not remember being a young boy and gazing at a star in the heavens, wondering what it was and if the stories of a wishing star were all true or a mere hoax. His past, much the same as hers, had been torn from his mind, but his had yet to come back. Jareth feared that it would be gone for all time, leaving him but half a person, without a past to dwell upon.

Yet, that gave no reason for his bluntness towards Sarah. She was offering him a second chance, one where the slates had been wiped clean of all ill feelings and roles of enemies. He could rewrite history and win Sarah for himself. It would not be her, though. It would be a changed woman, who he had manipulated for his own selfish desires.

"Control yourself," Jareth demanded, clenching his fists and slamming them upon the arms of the throne for emphasis.

He rose back to his feet, unable to remain seated for so long with these pestering thoughts running through his mind all the time. Oh, how he begged for a retreat from these conflicting opinions, these urging voices from both sides. However, that was the way life went. There were always two choices for everything.

She would be sleeping now, tucked safely away between the silken sheets that cloaked her downy bed. Her lovely head would be laid to rest upon the satin covered pillow, as soft as a cloud to sleep upon. Her hair of the darkest brunette would spread out as if a halo of chestnut reflections surrounding her angelic face, bathed in crystalline moonlight.

Jareth tossed the thoughts from his mind as strange unnerving sensations fought to control his actions and his sanity. He was truly debating whether or not to go to her room and see her, if only to gaze at her ethereal face as she rested in peaceful slumber. Once again shivers coursed over Jareth's skin.

"Surely it would do no harm," he thought casually.

Jareth quickly walked to the doorway and then paused, once again debating the consequences of his actions. There were too many decisions to make, that he would very shortly throw them all away and go to his own bedchambers for the duration of the night. It was a better step to take. Come the next morning these heightened emotions would be somewhat dulled and he could think about what to do with a more clear thought process. As is was now, he was not sure if he could decide whether to sit or stand, walk or remain motionless.

"Second chance," Jareth scoffed at the immature idea.

There were no second chances in life, never. This was all a figment of his imagination. Of course, she was there, but she would remember some time and then he would be left with another broken heart to mend when her anger was roused and she stormed out of his life. Jareth would rather lose a friend than lose a lover.

"Damn all of it!" he swore and hastened his way towards her room.

He thought about nothing as he made his way down one and up another long and twisting hallway. It was so much like the, now non-existent, labyrinth. A deep twinge of anger set in his soul as he thought about his masterpiece, and how it had just been snatched away without a single thought, not a sound.

Jareth halted outside of her door, once again doubting all he was doing, all he had decided to do. He had not set his priorities straight, for he could not risk being seen. The horrid war was once again raging in his mind and threatening to turn into a carnage if he was not careful.

However, he had come too far to turn back, as Sarah had stated three long years ago in a dank, lonely oubliette. She had been right, and now it was time to listen to her determined statement. He grasped the handle firmly in one hand and carefully twisted the golden knob.

He paused a mere moment, when a light sigh arose from within the darkened room. Jareth did not want to awaken her, not by any means. He waited until sure that the sound had been emitted in sleep and then swung the silent door open, so that he might peer in at her.

His heart skipped as the sight of her angelic figure, bathed in the pale white glimmering moonlight that streamed through the window near her bed, was laid before his flashing eyes. He felt as if his entire life was thrown out of control, out of what little hold he had had on it previously. This was what it was like to be so utterly controlled by another that he was beyond the point of return. He could no longer gather what little stability he had left and flee to a safer territory. It was too late now.

Jareth, with a breath filled with uncertainty, entered the room. The moment he closed the door, the final barrier separating them, his fate was decided, now and forever. There was no turning away from her any longer, ignoring her gaze, her mouth, every aspect of this woman that he could not strike from his mind. She was permanently fixed into his every waking thought.

She was just as he had imagined while he had still sat in the throne room, pondering what course to take and when to take action. It was all so confusing, now more than ever, because his thoughts had been completely destroyed by her presence. He had believed himself incapable of making even the simplest decisions while out of her sight, now he doubted himself able to speak.

Jareth placed himself in a velvet-lined chair. It was of a luxurious model and quite comfortable, but was the least important thing to him at that time. His entire mind was transfixed upon this lovely woman, Sarah. He held his chin in his hands and simply gazed at her, as if he could remain this way forever.

"What am I doing?" Jareth questioned himself.

There was no answer, and yet there was one also. He was doing this all out of love, unsinkable love that he could not throw aside. He had tried, had actually thought that he had succeeded when plans for revenge had encompassed his actions. Yet, now, love had taken over all other priorities. His role as king was forgotten, as were any other daily chore he had ever attended to.

She shifted in her slumber and turned so that her sleeping face was towards him. Now her lips, just slightly pursed, moved with some sleep-filled word. Her dreams were coming forth in her speech. She moved yet again and Jareth edged forward to see just what she was mumbling, so silently that it was nearly nothing more than a sigh.

"My... oh, why...Jareth?" she muttered.

Her eyebrows drew together in a confused expression as his name fell forth from her lovely lips. Jareth rushed forward, kneeling beside the bed so that he might discover what was troubling her so. Actually, he knew what it had been, and her confusion was entirely his fault. He had denied her feelings, her offered heart, and so had hurt her. He would have to fix it.

Just the sound of his name enshrouded in her luxuriant voice caused shivers to trace their cold path over his back, and arms. He was unable to control his feelings, could not even make an attempt to leave. How he wished to just hold her in his arms and listen to her whisper his name again and again into his ear.

Jareth reached out with one slightly trembling hand, to touch her delicate cheek. To make contact with her and so assure himself that she was truly there. She appeared so angelic, as if some mirage set before his eyes to play a cruel joke upon him. Yet, he paused, just scant inches from her flesh. He would not awaken her, for she did need her sleep. He withdrew his hand from near her and then looked to the hard stone ground.

What was he trying to prove by offering her his heart? He would never have a life with her, not after all that had happened in their past. She would soon recall all that had been forgotten, and then he would be crushed. This was all so very pointless.

"I would love you, Sarah, if it were possible," he said, so gently.

Sarah drew her hand out from beneath the silken sheets, and rubbed at her eyes. She remained that way for a short time, as if debating whether or not to open those eyes of such a deep and emotional chocolate shade. Jareth's attention was instantly aroused by her movement. He very nearly darted from the room, fearing what she would think if she saw him, staring at her with such a hungry passion.

Sarah's eyes suddenly flashed open, and she was met with quite a frightening sight. She saw a man, with lovely flowing blonde hair kneeling beside. His eyes, shimmering in the light from the crystal moon, were so intense and overwhelmed her the next instant, driving what fear that had first been in her, away. Now she was instead covered in questions, and a desire that still burned so powerfully.

"Jareth?" she asked, her voice cracking as his name was pronounced.

He turned from her, when the pain that he had caused became evident. She was so perfect, so pure, and he had dared to deny the love that she had offered. He did not deserve this second chance. Now it was too late, as he had thought before when the door had first been closed behind him.

He felt a hand, brush against his face, with such a tender grace that it forced him to look back at her, to meet her gaze. She ran her slender finger across the line of his jaw and then smiled. She was offering her love once again, and this time he would not turn away. This time he would return her heart with his own. Her hands raised a burning fire upon his skin, rousing the need for her to a near undeniable level.

"I could not stay away," he explained.

She laughed at his comment and then sat up, brushing her disheveled hair over her shoulder. Sarah touched the bed, motioning for him to leave the uncomfortable ground for this silken masterpiece. Jareth offered it a skeptical glance.

"Please, Jareth. I'm a big girl," she explained with another magnificent smile.

He rose from the ground and sat upon the bed. She did not understand what she was doing to him, what feelings were being risen in his heart. He calmed his racing heart with a few slow breaths and then took her small hand into his own. He had to show her what he had come to prove.

"I thought, when you first arrived, that I could keep this relationship entirely as companions. However, you, Sarah, are just so amazing, and your spirit is so full of life, that it touched me the moment I first laid eyes upon you. I tried to ignore things. I did not mean to hurt you," he said, gazing into her eyes.

Sarah edged closer to his body, hypnotized by the swirling emotions in his eyes. They were so intense, like pools of fire and ice, so extreme, and so frightening, for she could only guess at what laid beyond that calm mask he always wore. She so yearned to discover who this man was, who entirely he was. She knew that she needed him, perhaps loved him, and that even his demeaning ways could be forgiven if she could only kiss his lips, to have him hold her closely forever. She needed to know that he wanted her as badly as she did him.

All those words, the hundreds that flitted through her mind for such a short time, were suddenly drawn away, into the dark veil that blocked her memory. She could not respond to him, and so instead gazed at him with a loving smile upon her full dawn-tinted, lips. Sarah urged him to continue, for she could not contribute to what he had already managed to say.

"My life without you, would not be a life, would be but a hallow shell, dry and lacking any true meaning. I would wander from task to task, dwelling on what might have been between you and me, what would have completed me forever. I know that I need you, I cannot let you leave me," Jareth stated, his voice soft and vulnerable, so very different than it had ever been before.

"Jareth...," Sarah started, turning her head to glance at the shadowed designs that were created from the folds and wrinkles in the silken sheets.

She could not allow him to base his entire life upon her, her love. She was almost sure that she loved him, at least now, and felt that she could remain here forever, but it would not be like that, not for certain. There were so many chances, anything could happen at any time, and if she should know that her absence would drive him into such a state of despair.... What could she do with so much pressure placed on her shoulders, where worries about a forgotten past still had not lifted.

Jareth brushed his hand through her thick mass of tangled hair. It was instantly free of uncomfortable knots, and as soft as the sheets she sat beneath. It was scented with rose oil, reminding her of their ride that afternoon. The vivid memories of the meadow, and how he had spoken with her, so openly, banished the last bit of worry from her soul. She lacked a past, and Jareth was offering her a life filled with love, which she knew she could not turn down.

She brought her eyes back to face his, confident now in her path she had chosen. Jareth himself assured her with his smile, so comforting in this turmoil that was life. It seemed as if the chaos had stepped aside for the time being, to allow them a serene moment, to bring these feelings out into the open.

"Finally...," Jareth stated with a sigh.

Sarah started at his choice of words. For, to her knowledge, she had known this man for but a day, only one single day. She would certainly not use the word `finally' to describe anything about their hastened relationship. Perhaps Jareth knew more about their past than he had wanted to tell her.

She brushed the thoughts aside the next instant, for Jareth had pulled her closer to his body. She did not need to think about petty details, when she was in a moment that was so perfect, so romantic, and something she was sure she had always dreamed about. She allowed Jareth to hold her closely, and to bury his head in her sweet smelling hair.

He drew his head away from her cascading hair to gaze into her eyes. His face had grown into an air of uncertainty, about where to go and where to stop. He placed a hand on her delicate cheek and felt a light flush raise beneath his touch. A wicked thought rushed into his mind, and he struggled to throw it aside, but could not do so.

"I wonder if she would blush everywhere?" he thought to himself, a sly smile forming.

He moved forward once again and met her tender lips with his own. They fit together so perfectly, like a puzzle now forever combined. It was as if two sections of the same soul had forever been separated and now could reunite, after being but a half for so long. The kiss intensified as they moved together, gradually lessening the distance between their two bodies to nothing.

His hands ran down the curve of her spine, tracing a shiver that encompassed all of her being. He then pulled her closer still, urging Sarah to give into the sweet call of temptation. Surely she would not be able to deny this pleasure any longer.

Sarah pulled back from his intense kisses and searching hands. Her eyes burned with uncertainty and a strange yearning that had since then been absent from her mind. She so wanted to move forward, to allow Jareth to take her entirely, forever. There was something, however, that urged her to remain slower, to keep him at a distance. The two parts argued so bitterly, and she could not listen to both at the same time for advice as to which way she should proceed.

"I-I think...," Sarah began with a shaking voice.

Jareth slowed his rate of breathing as Sarah struggled to gather her disjointed thoughts together. It was impossible, and she knew that if he continued to gaze at her with such hunger she would aquire that same primal glint in her eyes. Already she could feel her barriers falling, and she knew that she would deny him no longer. She needed him now, more than anything else.

Sarah carefully pushed the sheets aside and edged closer to her love. She touched his lips with a single finger and then smiled. Her mind raced at an unnatural speed, for she was only sure about one thing anymore. Yet, she kept her calm smirk upon her face to hide the growing anxiety that threatened to overwhelm her every thoughts.

Jareth draped his arms around her, once again pulling her slender body near his. Her heart fluttered, out of control once again, as his touch traced along the small of her back and around her waist. His hands were so lithe, amazing in their gentle nature, and seductive ways. She felt them in her hair, then along her graceful neck, down her back and pulling her always nearer.

Now his lips fitting over hers once again, hungering for so much more. Jareth gently kissed her neck, sending a line of fire burning relentlessly across her skin. It was a fire that only he could extinguish, only he could satiate this hunger that was raising in her heart. She needed him as much as he needed her, and the thought frightened her.

Sarah's mouth parted and a low sigh escaped as his lips traced their way down to the hallow of her throat. His tongue, briefly touched her skin, and she shivered against his body. Jareth drew his eyes back to hers, only for a moment, only to ask if she was ready.

She could not voice her response, but instead nodded, just a slight movement of her head to choose her path forever. A strange sly smile spread over his lips as her agreement rang through the room, though she had made no sound whatsoever. He then dropped his arms from around her and moved back, just to admire her sitting there, in all amazing beauty, and the moon still keeping eternal watch over the scene of new lovers.

"My love," he said, his voice low and seductive.

Even his speech was enough to make the fire burn, charging it up into a bonfire that was immeasurable in its height. She tried to calm herself, but it made no difference, soon she would have no control left. Sarah instead allowed the soft velvet that consumed his accent to brush over her, and caress her very soul to its deepest realms. She savored the sweetness of his words, as if she was bathing in honey, coating herself in a mass of pleasure, and sweet surrender.

"My King," she stated, a shaking smile passing briefly across her lips.

Jareth allowed himself a few fleeting moments to take in her ethereal beauty. The moon light caressed her skin, as if it were jealous of his hands on her. It wanted to be close to this woman who was so near perfection that it sent shivers through all that were lucky enough to behold her absolute splendor. The most of her was covered with a simple cotton shift that had been hastily thrown on after Jareth had left. The curves of her luscious body, that were shown, were gently highlighted by serene white shading, and the subtle shadows that fought to take over the moon's light. Her eyes, so trusting, so innocent, and yet, now filled with an emotion that was entirely adult. One he had never believed he would witness in Sarah. Her lips trembled, revealing her fear, her uncertainty about this new path she was to take. Yet, he did not see any doubt in her, nor did he notice regret. She needed this, and would not wait much longer, with his eyes hungrily devouring her figure.

Jareth bent closer to her and carefully pulled at the satin ribbon that secured the nightgown about her neck. She took in a sharp breath as the ties loosened and the gown dipped lower. Sarah's eyes darted over to Jareth, still too anxious to speak another word, or urge him to continue at a quicker pace. Instead she allowed him to continue with his lithe hands, as they worked their way through the many fasteners that made up the shift. She briefly wondered just how she had gotten into it so quickly, while it was taking so very long to untie.

His soft hands traced her collar bones as they came into view. The cotton gown almost felt as if it protested, wanted to save her virginity, as it was guided off by his hands that were so filled with magic. It landed on the ground, inconspicuous and useless, just a crumbled heap of gray cotton material, stitched to form some semblance of a night garment. It laid there beside the bed, nothing more than a forgotten memory.

Sarah felt her embarrassment melt away as Jareth's emotions all soared to those of desire and love. He once again admired her, as if she were a masterpiece and not a woman, sitting upon a silken bed, without a single piece of cloth laid over her skin to block her beauty from showing its radiance in the sublime moonlight.

"Tis beauty truly blessed," Jareth stated, so softly and so tenderly, so that his words could soothe her final worries.

He then moved back to her, taking her in his arms, no longer being separated from her glorifying body by the hindering cotton material. His hands roamed freely over skin that was as soft as the satin that had crafted her pillow, and made of such perfection that he nearly collapsed. His lips covered her slender neck, making their way down, covering every inch of her body as if it where a shrine to which one must pay homage.

As his wondrous hands ran over her body, feelings of such an amazing, unimaginable sense swept across her skin. She felt as if she were a spell herself, as his magic caressed her, touching her as he was. Jareth's hands held an aura of power, of sublime magic that caused more passion to surface in her pleading soul. The touches, caresses, kisses, all were bathed in magical waves of simple, and pure fantasy.

Sarah brought his eyes back to her own, and then gazed into them, emotions bursting forth as if fireworks behind those darkened pupils. His breath was quick, and hastened due to the emotional overload. His gorgeous hair laid in golden showers, framing his regal features in a shimmering crown of light. She kissed his mouth, savoring the sweetness that was held within those lips. A sweet nectar that she had yet to fully experience.

Sarah dropped her arms from around his neck and laid back among the downy pillows, so that they cradled her body in their tender embraces. She pursed her full lips and enjoyed the reaction the seductive position had upon her lover. Jareth laid over her, cupping her face in his hands and kissing those lips that had haunted his dreams for so very long.

Sarah felt his tongue, ever so slowly trace the path around her breast. She could not stand the terrible wait any longer. He was playing with her out-of-control emotions. She placed her trembling hands into his hair and ran them through the shimmering golden strands of silk.

"Jareth, let me wait no longer," she stated in a breathy whisper.

He turned his flashing eyes up to her, and a strange smirk formed upon his handsome, yet feral features. Jareth produced a perfectly shining crystal and laid it upon her soft stomach. It moved as she took in a deep breath, and threatened to topple off the bed, perhaps to break on the hard stone ground.

Sarah gazed at the magical orb, wondering briefly why her love would choose such a time to perform his tricks on her. It slid over her stomach as she attempted to lessen her breathing. She looked up to Jareth, a question ready to form itself upon her lips.

The crystal suddenly became an intense white light, shrouding the both of them in its sweet caresses. She could not see a thing, but felt Jareth over her still, his clothing suddenly gone, and the night the only thing daring to separate their bodies. The light faded as he laid over her.

The two were combined into one. They were one body, together in an ageless intimate show of love. However, so much more became joined in that first instant. Sarah felt their two hearts beat as one, and their souls finally locked together, finished as a whole. She could feel his emotions, sense his words that remained unspoken within his mind.

The pain struck her a sudden blow, knocking all romantic thoughts from her mind and she allowed a whimper to escape her trembling lips. Jareth touched them with his own and then laid his mouth beside her ear, to assure her that he would not hurt her.

"Sweet Sarah," he whispered.

The flashing pain subsided and her body was overwhelmed with such immense pleasure that she was swept back into the sweet whiteness that had surrounded them before. She felt as if she was bursting with energy and love, pleasure and desire, and such a sweet power that flew throughout her entire body. She grasped her arms around his neck, reaching for something stable as she felt the pleasure everywhere.

When she came her emotions all surged together as a single explosion of animal desires. She felt as if the entire room had simply faded to nothing but a perfection of white nothingness. Sarah was bathing in this serene light, this seduction that was such a desire of surrender, of love, of passionate needs that were finally fulfilled... finally.

Chapter Fourteen

There was one single light, to begin with. Then, suddenly, it broke through a darkened veil of nothingness to reveal a world that had since then been a complete blank. The black surroundings seemed to crash to the floor as the single ray fought past all of it, with a power that had gone unseen since then. It was trying to reach back, to a past, through the foggy realms that had swallowed forgotten memories.

Sarah herself dwelled in this darkness as she slept and dreamed about a missing past. She watched, with wide opened eyes as the streaming golden illumination broke into her vision. It highlighted her dark eyes with sorrel specks. Sarah's curiosity grew inside of her as she witnessed the light break through this tight, enclosed prison and offer her a way to freedom.

She rose, hitting her head on the top of the cell that had held her captive in a forgetful blanket. Now she saw her freedom in front of her, all the possibilities of the life that she could not remember. She was overjoyed to finally have a chance, to finally be defeating this overwhelming feeling of being lost in a world that she did not know.

Sarah rushed through the broken-down wall, and was instantly met with sunlight, magical warm rays of sunlight. She spun around in them, as if bathing in a golden shower. A stream of overjoyed giggles burst from her smiling lips and added to the joyous atmosphere.

The scenery then revealed itself, and her spirits dropped. She was in the maze, the maze that she had remembered while in the hallway. Yet, this time she was not to witness her younger self make her way through the confusing twists and turns. Sarah was to perform the task of finding the end, though she did not know where she was going or why she should be here in the first place.

"Hello?" she called out.

Her voice bounced off the many walls, and returned to her, sounding only lost and alone. There was no response, nor where there any friendly faces to greet her calls. She was to do this without any help, and was to do it without any memory either. Sarah leaned against one wall and slid to the ground, quite disgusted with how horrible things always turned out.

"Why must my dreams even become nightmares?" she moaned as she placed her head into her hands.

She held back the tears that were so filled with hopelessness and fear. If she could have recalled herself, even a few days ago, she would have seen what a change had occurred in her personality since her memories had faded to nothingness. Yet, as she was now, the idea of trying to solve this...this....labyrinth was overwhelming.

A faint silver-lined ray of hope threaded its way through her mind. If this was all a dream, then she could certainly awaken from it and find herself in much more inviting circumstances. Sarah silently prayed that her hopes would become reality.

Sarah removed her hands, in hopes that once she opened her eyes she would behold her bedroom and not the cracking walls of this maze. She allowed herself a single deep breath and then snapped her chestnut eyes open. Instantly her hopes were crushed and her jaw dropped in shock.

"What?" Sarah exclaimed, once again stunned at the different surroundings.

Her wide eyes scanned the surroundings, taking in the hard, gray walls and the masses of smelling goblins. Sarah could not begin to understand why her subconscious would choose this place to stick her, when there were so many others that would be infinitely more fantastic. She truly was not in the mood to bother with these creatures. "Jareth?" Sarah asked, anxious to see her lover.

He was the only promising presence in this entire throne room. However, she did not see the King. It was strange that he should be absent, when it was her dream, and he certainly did belong in her dreams. Sarah smiled to herself and then made her way to her feet.

The goblins scurried about all around her, making noise and a horrible mess. Sarah tried in vain to dodge their scurrying bodies, but was unable to do so. One of the things managed its way beneath her feet. Sarah tripped, and screamed as she felt herself plummeting to the ground, possibly to land on top of one of the goblins. She flailed her hands in an attempt to regain balance, but it was too late. She closed her eyes and....

Nothing. There was nothing behind her to catch her from her fall. She did not hit the hard, stone floor, nor did she land atop some smelling mass of disgusting creatures. Yet, she still fell, or rather floated downwards to a nothingness that she was all too familiar with.

"How you turn my world you precious thing," a phantom voice caressed her as she continued with her fall.

Sarah glanced around, but was only met with more darkness. She was sure that the voice had been Jareth's. It held the same sensuous accent and the exact velvety tones that she had found so amazing when he first spoke to her. However, he sounded so different, so cold, as if he were only a shell of the man she had grown to love.

"Your eyes can be so cruel, Just as I can be so cruel." he taunted, the voice once again coming from everywhere and from nowhere.

Sarah whipped around, the best she could in this slow descent to nothing. She did not understand why Jareth should tease her, chide her, when she was not insulting, nor attacking him. There was such a deep pain in his voice, along with the sharp edge of hate that etched its way into every last syllable he pronounced. If she could only see him, just to ask what had happened, perhaps she would understand why he was so very angry.

"Jareth, where are you?" Sarah moaned.

The strangest sensation gripped her, and she felt as if she were grasped further down, and at a much quicker pace as well. Sarah slipped through the darkness, only to reappear into a wondrous spring day. She toppled to the ground, and was overcome with the sweet scent of flowers, of purity. She rose to her feet and gasped at where she had landed.

"The garden," Sarah muttered.

She felt such an amazing aura of magic shifting around through this garden. It slipped between the roses, and covered the many other flowers, attracting their sweet aromas. Sarah danced around the wondrous flowering masterpiece, adoring the magical feelings, the purity that it held and the love that found its way to her heart. She longed to see Jareth here, to have him by her side.

"Sarah," a soft, gentle voice called to her, from the shadows between the overgrown bushes.

Sarah instantly stopped her frolicking and turned, catching her breath. She looked for the mysterious person, but saw nothing more than the garden, the well, and the chipping trellises. There was no person speaking her name, or calling her to follow it. She could have imagined, but this was a dream and so the person could very well be there, but still hiding.

"Hello? Where are you?" she asked, a faint smile still resting on her lips.

There was no answer, save a near silent splash as a pebble landed in the well. Sarah turned to face it, her happiness beginning to melt away to that of fear, all too quickly. She did not know why this being should not choose to show itself, when she certainly did not mean it any harm. She only wanted to remember her past, and live a semblance of a happy and normal life.

Sarah paused before the quaint, yet somewhat dilapidated well. Her wide eyes flashed briefly with a frightened light, as if she was a deer caught in the hypnotizing glare of an oncoming car's headlights. Yet, she managed to break her paralysis and, with a soothing breath, strode towards the well.

Sarah gazed down into the darkened depths of the well, half expecting the same thing that had spoken to her, to be looking up at her. Yet, there was nothing down there in the cool, refreshing water. Only a single white rose floating around, as lonely as Sarah felt, in the water. It drifted into the filtering golden light and then back into the shadows that were cast by the slippery stone of the well.

Sarah laughed at her fright towards this innocent well. Of course, it was nothing to worry about. It was only an inanimate object, something that had once been loved but now was here, in this wild garden, becoming rundown, and soon would be nothing more than ruins.

"Sarah, when will you learn?" she asked herself as she began to turn from the dark water.

A bright flash of white jetted forth from the originally shadowed water. Sarah jumped back, her widened eyes instantly attracted to the magical display that had shown itself in the well. She did not understand why there should be a spell on such a lovely thing. Sarah edged forward as the light continued to shoot towards the crystal clear sky.

She peered carefully down into the illuminated depths, the white rose still in the midst of the light. However, the water was no longer the normal liquid it had previously been. It now held pictures in it, memories to be exact. Sarah watched in awe as thousands of events showed themselves before her eyes.

She saw herself as a child, when her mother had left her and her father alone. She witnessed the tears that she shed when she first realized that the woman she had always loved, no longer cared enough to remain with them, as a family. She saw the first time she had ever entered into Maddi's store, when it had been newer, and much more crowded with prospective customers. She saw the book, the child, the Goblin King, and the maze she had been forced to travel through. With all this knowledge came an anger that had been absent from her soul since then.

A dark shadow drew himself out from an unknown hiding place, watching the child with a worried look in his flashing eyes. His heart skipped into his throat as the contents of the well spilled forth before his gaze. It could not be, and so it would not be. He gathered himself together and walked from the sanctuary of the shadows.

"Sarah! This is not for you to see," Jareth exclaimed from behind her, grabbing her arm and pulling her from her past.

Sarah struggled against him, fighting with all her might to be free from his powerful grasp. She needed her past, needed her memories, and he was trying to prevent them from returning. Sarah brought her hand back and slapped him across his face, her anger flaring out of control within her heart. She no longer cared for this evil man, but instead yearned to be far away from him and his world.

Jareth's eyes darkened, anger seeping into his emotions as well. He grabbed her arms and forced her away from the enticing well. Sarah struggled, but soon relented, for she had no hope to physically fight against him. He could take her away, but she would find her past sometime, and then he would face the fact that she was not to be controlled.

"How dare you!" Sarah replied, venom lacing her words.

Jareth did not respond, but instead pushed her against the castle wall. He held her there, his eyes flashing with anger, and love, and a whole array of emotions from all ends of the spectrum. His mouth was set and his jaw clenched in an attempt to keep the fighting words to himself.

"Sarah, it is for you. I have done this all for you. It is for you, for you I have turned the world for you...for you....," the words seemed to continue repeating even as her dream broke away to nothing.

Sarah awakened with a jerk and she found herself gazing into a pair of mismatched eyes, covered in worry. Sarah resisted an urge to attack Jareth, but had to remind herself that what she had just experienced had been a dream, nothing more. Jareth was obviously wondering what had disturbed her in her sleep. One of his gentle hand ran through her hair, in an attempt to calm her frazzled nerves.

She struggled to remember what she had seen in the well, but it all evaded her. She could only vaguely recall the journey through the labyrinth and the book that she had loved, though she could not remember what it was called. She knew that, in her dreams, Jareth had taken her away from her past, had prevented her from reacquire it.

"Sarah? What has caused this?" Jareth asked, wrapping his arms around her shivering body.

Sarah buried her face against his shoulder, adoring his love and the feeling of being so protected. The dream was but a vague memory now, already fading away as dreams so often do. She did not want to remember it any longer, for it had been entirely a nightmare, in her opinion.

"A dream, nothing important. I, it was...nothing. Thank you for being here," she said with a smile and kissed his lips softly.

There was no need to pester Jareth with these trivial matters anyway. It was nothing more than her mind having fun while she slept. Jareth would never try to keep her past from her, since he was the one who was so dedicated to curing her amnesia. Sarah dismissed the pointless worry from her sleepy mind and settled her head down beside his.

Jareth held her closely as she drifted back to sleep. The sun had only just touched the tips of the mountains, still far too early to awaken. Her dream had been dangerous, for he had been sure that she would reclaim those memories that she had witnessed in the well. It had been too close, and he could not risk another slip. Jareth would have to convince her that the past was something best left in the darkness.

With that final thought he rested his head in her sweet-smelling hair and drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Fifteen

The night had only begun to reclaim the vast kingdom of the sky, sending the serene moon out to rule over the velvet expanse of jet velvet. Stars of the most tranquil quality pierced through the darkness of the night and sent a chill of diamond shimmers across the whole of the heavens. It was a night one might wait a lifetime to experience, to only just see for a short time.

Karen turned from the lovely display outside her window to gaze back at the empty bed, where her husband had been sleeping a few short minutes earlier. The dreams were worse, much worse than they had ever been before, driving him from the deepest slumber to a state near that of panic. It had all begun that way when Sarah had disappeared nearly two long weeks ago.

"Hon? Coming back?" she questioned with a strained semblance of a smile passing over her pale features.

There was no answer to her inquiry. It was not as if she had expected one in the first place, but the more he drew away, the more she worried. She had to try to help him, but had no idea as to what to do. Karen lowered her head in defeat and let out a discouraged sigh.

She turned back to look at the sky, at the twinkling stars so very far away. Sarah could be anywhere, perhaps watching this night, or perhaps already taken from this world. Karen attempted to banish the horrid thought from her mind, but was unable to do so. There was a very real possibility that Sarah was gone, forever.

"Sarah, where are you?" she asked so softly.

Karen drew the wispy curtains shut, hesitating just momentarily when a movement caught her eye. Yet, it was nothing, at least not anything of any importance to her at this hour of the night. She had work, her husband had work, and they could not sleep more than an hour a night, if lucky.

She rose carefully from her chair beside the window, where she had spent many sleepless hours. Her eyes had been red and sore, and her entire body ached from exhaustion, and still she did not sleep. She was not granted with that wondrous wish that was taken for granted by so many others. Insomnia was a vile beast that was wreaking havoc on her weakened body.

"You brought it on yourself," she accused viciously as she threw the covers back from the bed.

Karen could not deny the fact that Sarah had left after their argument. Of course, it was not the first, or the worst, they had ever had, still, it was not right to leave on such a sour note. Sarah did not even know how important she was, how much Karen actually did dare to love her. It was hard, since Sarah certainly was not her child, and the girl expected Karen to be just like her old mother, the one who had left them.

She was not an actress, and would never have a glamorous job like Sarah's mother, but she tried. Karen was home to greet Sarah when she wandered through the door after hours spent at the stable or the antique shop. She tried to talk to her, but it would just break into a horrid fight every time, without fail. If she could have one more chance, then things would be different.

Karen laid back in the comfortable bed and adjusted the pillow beneath her head. She knew that it was useless, that she was not going to fall asleep anytime soon, but there was no harm in trying. She rolled on her side and gazed at the open door, and the darkened house that laid beyond it. Somewhere down there her husband remained, in the dark.

The sound of creaking footsteps broke her from her disturbing thoughts and raised a fear in her soul. Toby was in a room, defenseless. She had almost risen from the bed, prepared to grab something that would serve as defense against this maniac, invader. She paused, though, when a familiar figure appeared in the doorway.

"You scared me," she whispered, placing a trembling hand to her heart.

Her husband did not respond to his wife, but instead walked back into the room and sat upon the bed, stiff and emotionless. His hair was entirely disheveled, as it was most of the time as of lately. His eyes, that had always been so kind, so warm, were now blank and eternally red, though she had yet to see him actually cry.

"Are you feeling better?" Karen questioned, her voice hitching a bit on the words.

He turned his head to glance at his wife, but still did not speak. His personality was scaring her, once again. He just was not the same man who she had married. Of course, this was his daughter that had disappeared. She herself was an emotional wreck, and had only known Sarah for six years, not long at all.

"We have to talk about this, sometime, the sooner the better. You don't seem to understand that we are all going through the same thing, and to talk will heal. We don't know if it's that bad. She's only been gone two weeks honey," Karen stated.

Her husband scoffed at the attempt to console him. He did not need a shoulder to cry on, he wanted his daughter, and he wanted her safe and sound at home. Sarah was out there, somewhere, alone and cold and hungry, perhaps in danger, and he could do nothing to help her. Life was hopeless, and he simply did not have any desire to live any longer.

"I don't want to talk, Karen. Lets just sleep," he said, coldly.

She could not understand why he was so against letting her in on his feelings. She was his wife, his mate forever, and he could not even let her know if he was hurting, or if he was sad, mad, anxious, anything except for the zombie that he had turned into. She did not like being treated as if she would not understand. However, she could not voice any of these thoughts that flitted through her head so quickly, for he would not listen now that he had laid down and attempted to sleep once again.

"Fine, don't talk about that. You know that you won't sleep upset, let me get you something," she offered, making her way out of the bed again.

He rolled over and grabbed her forearm, keeping her placed upon the bed. His eyes were so horrifying, bloodshot and dead, for there were no emotions inside them. He seemed like an entirely changed man, because that was what he was. Karen knew that the only thing that could ever solve his depression would be the safe return of Sarah.

"Go to sleep," he ordered, and then released her arm from his grasp.

Karen absently rubbed the flesh that he had gripped, like a vice in his strong hands. It had turned a faint red color, but she was sure that that would be all that would happen. Yet, she could not take this any longer. She was sad, she was mad, she was aching to see Sarah again, but at least tried to keep the family going. They did have Toby to worry about still.

She laid back on the bed and gazed up at the ceiling, so plain and ordinary. It was like her life, normal, or at least it had been until Sarah had left to ride her horse and then simply disappeared. There had been searches, clips on the news, articles in the paper, but it was all dying down now. Everyone was losing interest in the lost girl, and the lack of clues that had been found.

"Mommy?" Toby asked from the door, his shadow appeared upon the wall, long and lanky.

Karen sat up in the bed and smiled at her sweet son. He was too young to truly understand what had happened, but was wondering where Sarah had gone to. He constantly asked about her, questioning as to when she would be home. In his mind, his sister had simply gone off on a long trip, somewhere interesting, but was certainly not in danger.

"What is it, Toby?" she asked gently.

The little boy squeezed his torn teddy bear tighter in his arms and then looked at his mother with wide, scared eyes. A trail of tears stood out on his cheeks, glistening just slightly in the moonlight. He toddled further into the room and then stopped again, his lips quivering with fresh tears.

"Come on," Karen said and held out her arms for her frightened son.

Toby immediately leapt on the bed and dove into his mother's arms. That was the only safe place to be when one was scared. That is a fact that is well known, at least known by any four-year-old. He buried his tiny face in her blonde hair and sobbed.

Karen gently patted his hitching back and soothed him with soft words. Her hands stroked his short golden locks of hair, twirling them around and combing through knots. It was something that Toby had always enjoyed, and that night was no exception. His raging tears nearly shut off at the touch of her tender hands and he only sniveled a few short times.

"Shhh," she whispered into his ear.

Toby did as he was told and rested his head on her shoulder, already feeling as if sleep would be possible again that night, if he was in his mother's arms, that is. She had to hold him, or else the scary thing could very well attack him again, unarmed and vulnerable.

Yet, even those thoughts faded from his mind as he drifted off to comforting slumber. It drifted around him life a fine silken garment, that caressed his skin like his mother's kiss. The calming sensation lulled him back to sleep, one that lacked any of the terrifying nightmares.

Karen felt her son's body relax in her arms, and his breathing fall into a set rhythm. She smiled once again, this time one that was actually not strained, and laid back down. She was not ready to put her baby in his room, for she needed someone to hold, to protect. She was not able to do anything for Sarah, and she felt so entirely helpless because of that.

"You sleep, sweetheart," she soothed, and ran a hand over his innocent face.

Karen shut her heavy eyes and managed to drift off into a troubled sleep. It was filled with horrendous nightmares that absolutely ravaged any rest she might have gotten from the slumber. The horrifying dreams preyed on every one of her fears, some over and over again, and she was helpless in every scenario.

When she awakened with a start, and sat straight up in bed, a word was poised on her lips. When thinking back on the entire episode, she could find no reason to exclaim that word, or what meaning it held in the whole course of things. Yet, it was there nonetheless, there for all to hear.

"Jareth!"

Chapter Sixteen

Sarah sat upon a simple plush cushion that she had tossed upon the hard stone floor, for added comfort. It was crafted from the most luscious velvet, which caressed her skin as it brushed around her body. It was so normal and yet, so amazing in its simplicity. She ran a stray hand over the fine velvet to marvel at its softness.

However, her attention had drifted far away from the masterpiece of down and fabric, enclosed in a casing of royal purple. Nor was she gazing off into oblivion, daydreams encompassing her thoughts as she so often slipped into a far-off fantasy. Sarah removed her slender hand from the cushion surface and flipped yet another of the yellowed pages.

The book had caught her attention a day ago, and since then she had been unable to lay it down, to let it leave her sight. It was so marvelous, with a golden leather binding and silver plated words. It had struck a memory in her somewhere, but she had missed her chance to grasp for her past. The book's twisting, turning plot drew her in far quicker than the memory could manage to surface.

It held her spellbound for hours on end, only allowing her minutes to eat and perhaps bid Jareth a short `hello' or a simple nod of her head. Her eyes were filled with a hunger to learn what each new page would add to the plot, what would be discovered, and who would learn what secret. All in all, it was simply a blessing that she had found it in the first place.

Once circled entirely by the story's plot she could forget her own problems, her own life, and her amnesia that had not improved in the least over the past week or so. For she could be in another life, and read about problems that were not hers being forced upon someone that certainly was not she. She could delve into the depths of the plot and watch everything take shape in a world that was such a wondrous retreat for her. She knew that without this novel life would simply be far too horrendous to continue living.

There was Jareth, of course, and she would never be able to replace the happiness his presence instilled in her soul by a simple piece of literature. However, he could not solve her forgotten past, at least not the way this story did. He could not make the problems go away, though he could perhaps lessen their influence on her. Still, Jareth was unable to bring her to a place that was a magical retreat.

Once again she flipped the pages, so old and so brittle, but she did not think about the book's condition at that time. The only thought that circled through her open mind was the yearning to read quicker and discover what was to happen sooner. She did not want to stand the wait to see how it would end. Yet, she could not allow herself to peek, and cheat, and read the final page to see just how it all would come to a closing, whether it would be happy, or sad.

"Better not be upsetting. I've had enough drama for a lifetime," she murmured to herself as the annoying pestering and nagging voice suggested that things could very well end badly.

She was very tempted to glance at the last page, but stopped herself before she looked. Sarah set the beautiful book upon the cushion, right before her trembling hands. She needed to see what would happen, and had to continue reading, but it was so hard. She looked away from it in hopes that this gesture might break the spell under which she had been held.

"I will not read ahead! Come now, Sarah, you must be stronger than that," she stated, drawing her shaking hands from the book.

Yet, she returned her yearning eyes to the novel, to the glimmering silver letters that spelled out a title that was so entirely normal that one would think the book would be about something pointless. Sarah herself did not know why she had chosen it, out of the hundreds that were held in the library, but she had and she was certainly joyous that this book had interested her in the first place.

"Never judge a book by its cover," Sarah muttered with a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"The Storm." Her fingers traced over each silver letter individually and then ran her hand over the whole cover. It was so perfect and so enticing. She had no willpower. Sarah grabbed the book in her hands, once again shaking in excitement. She flipped through with a haste that came from the guilt that she was doing something most would frown upon, she was cheating.

She opened to the last page and allowed herself a deep breath before revealing what she had dreamed about the whole night before. Sarah focused on the book and had only just begun to read the first sentence when it was snapped from her hands. She was left staring at nothingness, a horrified expression covered her face.

"Now Sarah, what a horrid thing to do. You're never supposed to read the end," Jareth stated, a sly grin covering his handsome face.

Sarah moaned and grabbed for the book once more, yet Jareth held it far enough away so that she would never truly be able to reclaim her beloved novel. She relented and crossed her arms over her chest, offering Jareth a pitiful pout.

"I-I mean, I wouldn't have read it. I just wanted to see if, well, how much longer it was," Sarah replied hopefully.

Jareth tossed the book into the air, where it hovered for a few brief moments. Sarah watched with widened, somewhat hopeful eyes, as the book began to fall towards her. She reached out to pluck it from the air, but was once again met with nothing in her hand. The book had disappeared in a lovely spray of shattered gems and crystals, that rained down upon her upturned face.

She brushed at the dust of crystals, and succeeded in sneezing several times as bits and pieces irritated her nose. Sarah glared at Jareth, angered that he dared to take her book from her, when he knew just how much it meant. Sarah would not say a thing, but simply stared at his eyes, eyes that seemed to dance with lights and a life of their own. She felt herself drawn into their uncharted depths, unknown and mysterious. She could not stare at them long, for they were too wild and feral, and entirely unnerving. Sarah shook her head in an attempt to regain some of her own thought.

"You have been in this room the entire week with different stories that have caught your wandering eye. Sarah, if you want to remember, you must search out your past in the Underground," Jareth reminded as he sat upon her bed, still gazing at her with his awe-striking eyes.

Sarah scoffed, but would not answer. Her stubbornness had finally returned after being under the Goblin King's seductive spell. She would not let his handsome appearance and debonair ways win this argument. She deserved to have her book and finish reading it in peace.

Jareth sighed at her childishness and rose to his feet. He brushed the wrinkles out of his Silken cream-accented poet's shirt and glanced at his love one last time. She was still looking into the distance, and certainly not offering him a single word on the subject of her past or the book he had taken away.

"Very well, if you wish to remain in the dreary castle, then I can do nothing to change the way you feel. However, that does hinder your further reading of that interesting story," Jareth remarked, setting the bait for her interest.

He noticed the way her head turned, just slightly, so that she might hear him a bit better. Yet, he had not planned on speaking anymore. She had to choose now. There would be no more time. With another seductive smile he quickly walked from the room and shut the door securely behind himself, hoping that Sarah's curiosity would get the better of her.

She jumped to her feet the moment the door found its resting place in the frame. Jareth had left, and had done so in a very mysterious way. He had done a good job of breaking her silence, and stopping the anger that had risen up inside of her. Sarah rushed for the door and threw it open, hoping that the King was still there, waiting to see if she had taken the bait.

"Jareth?" Sarah called, glancing down both sides of the long corridor.

There was no sign of him, and so no point in hoping that she would be able to find her book any time soon. This covered her cheerful mood in a somewhat dismal gray of depression. Sarah leaned against the door frame and glanced into her room, wondering if she really wanted to remain in there without the slightest idea as to what she should do.

"I hope you're satisfied!" Sarah yelled, so that her voice reverberated all through the hallways.

She smiled, satisfied with herself and her defiant nature. Sarah would not give in, no matter what. She closed the door behind herself and hurried out into the hall, still hopeful that Jareth was not far. After all, he had only left a few brief moments earlier than herself, and she should be able to catch him, now that she knew the twisting turning hallways, at least a little better.

She hurried her walk into a brisk jog and rushed around the corner, not offering the slightest worry as to what would happen should there be someone waiting. Sarah suddenly collided with someone, only getting a brief glance of golden shimmering hair and a flashing crystal blue eye. Then she fell again his chest, only remaining on her feet by a scant margin.

"Really my dear, I didn't think that you were this anxious to leave that `exciting' room of yours," Jareth chided.

Sarah smiled, but did not fight against his arms as they encircled her figure. She laid her head upon his shoulder, adoring the feel of being so close to him, and his unbridled magic that caressed her body, much the same way as the velvet had done. His hand ran through her silken chestnut hair, pulling it away from her innocent face.

"Well, your offer was very enticing," Sarah said, looking up into his mismatched eyes.

He ran a gentle hand over her delicate cheek, adoring the way her face was sculpted to perfection, so beautiful. Her lips, those that reminded him of the palest pink rose, were full and lush and so alluring. Sarah's eyes shone with a brilliance of youth and innocence and something that could be love.

Jareth placed a single finger below her chin and tilted her face upwards, so that it was nearer to his own. He bent so close, so very close that they were but a breath apart from each other. His lips were poised just a scant whisper away from the touch that would bring the rush of romantic feelings to both of them, and combine their two souls as one, even for just a brief time.

"My King," she said, her lips very nearly brushing his as they moved.

"My Love," he responded with the slightest smile.

A clatter of metal and shouts of annoyance broke their precious time. Jareth pulled away from her, dropping his arms from around her body and leaving her alone, but at his side still. He quickly calmed his breath and offered her a soothing smile, one that told her that they would resume where they had left off, but at a later time.

Two goblin guards rounded the corner, tumbling over each other as they appeared before the King. Their rusting armor clanged upon the ground, as more bits and pieces fell to the stone floor. They straightened themselves and managed to bow before royalty, and even offered Sarah a half-hearted show of respect. However, what little attention they had was focused upon the King.

"Your Highness! There are... are, its all leaving," stammered one of the goblins who was quite out of breath.

Jareth cocked his head, his patience very quickly wearing thin. He did not appreciate being disturbed and especially not for mundane things such as this. If they did not know what was happening, why were they the ones to come for him? Goblins never made sense.

"Continue," Jareth urged.

"The forest, your highness," stated the other, in a slightly more intelligent manner than the first.

Jareth's heart seemed to flutter in his chest, and his stomach twisted uncomfortably. He did not want to believe the worst, but it seemed that that was exactly what had happened. He glanced back at Sarah, without saying a word, but conveying the reality of what was happening with the expression that had found its way to his usual calm face. He was afraid.

"What of it?" Jareth further questioned.

"It's gone," the first said in an ominous voice.

Jareth swallowed deeply, unable to speak or answer Sarah's frightened questions that flew from her mouth so quickly. He only turned from her and hurried down the hallway, to see for himself what had happened. He offered Sarah one backwards glance and then disappeared from view.

The two goblins hurried after their King, but could only waddle slightly, for their armor was far too large. However, even their comic antics could not break the choking curtain of dread that had lowered over the entire castle, blanketing the atmosphere almost like a storm, or the calm before the storm. Sarah shuddered at the thought and wrapped her arms around herself.

"Bye," she muttered slightly, in the general direction the King had taken.

She found herself alone once again, and also without her book. Although, the urge to read had left her with the news of the forest that had simply disappeared. She did not know how anything could cease to exist like that, but had no doubt that it had occurred, for Jareth had been worried.

"What is happening around here?" she asked the empty hall.

There was no answer, but she had not expected one either. She had needed to break the threatening silence, and since she was the only one in the hall, only her voice would do that. Sarah cleared her throat, once again in an attempt to add something to the lack of anything.

She walked before the window, gazing out into the castle grounds and then to the horizon in the distance. There was nothing missing, at least not that she could tell. It seemed so peaceful and tranquil out there, as the sun had just begun to set in the distance. She could not imagine something as big as a forest being suddenly gone.

"Perhaps the goblins had it wrong," Sarah offered, but soon dismissed the idea as irrational.

Jareth had been worried, and would not have acted that way if he had not known about this, and if it had not happened before. Perhaps the forest was still partially there, and in reality someone had cut parts of it down. However, that idea was as pathetic as the first. She would have to admit that something bad was happening.

Her gaze wandered down to the garden, the beautiful, serene yet overgrown garden. It seemed to call to her in one unified voice, urging her to see what secrets it held. Sarah felt it in her heart, rather than hearing the sweet call with her ears. She knew that she could not ignore it, and knew also that she would disobey Jareth's commands.

Yet, she remained there before the window for a few short minutes, questioning whether she should truly listen to what the garden was urging her to do, or respect Jareth's wishes. Her thoughts seemed to debate with each other, offering her pro's and con's for each side, and arguing every point that she could possibly draw forward in the mass of confusion that was her spinning mind. Through all of this came the sweet hypnotic song from the garden, the roses, violets, tulips, and ivy. Even the shoots of fresh spring grass and attacking cries from the weeds joined together to form a sweet symphony of glorious sounds that ceased the arguments in her mind and decided what she was to do all at the same time.

She turned her attention back to the garden, just to look at it once more from afar before she rushed down to see what she had only dared to dream about before. Sarah watched as a shadow made its way between the bushes, and behind the lovely well. Her curiosity was sparked once again, and, along with the luring voice that came from the garden, she knew that she could no longer wait. It was time to see what was hiding in the mysterious garden.

"I'm sorry," she said gently to a Jareth that was not there.

Without a single thought she hurried through the maze of hallways, knowing that her future laid in that garden.

Chapter Seventeen

Sarah slipped past the throne room, saying a silent prayer that the hordes of goblins would not notice her and so wouldn't tell Jareth of where she had wandered. However, it was very doubtful that the mindless creatures could remember long enough to tell the King, and even if they should she doubted that there words would be at all coherent. It was her nerves, and they were currently working in overtime.

"Hey!" A harsh voice yelled from behind her.

Sarah froze, a scream poised on her lips. She swallowed the fear that had welled up inside of her and spun about, to face the thing that had dared to frighten her so. Sarah instantly relaxed when she saw what had spoken. She even managed a relieved smile as she approached the strange fuzzy animal that looked at her with wide purple eyes.

"Hello, did you just say something to me?" Sarah questioned as she approached the strange creature.

The thing emitted a sound that resembled that of an exasperated sigh. Yet, looking at its outward appearance made Sarah reconsider her belief that it was this that had spoken. It seemed like an animal, nothing of any notable intelligence. She shook her head slightly and turned to continue onwards to the garden.

"Where do you think you're going?" the thing demanded.

Sarah stopped in her tracks once again. Her fright was not as great this time, but she was startled nonetheless. She had convinced herself that the animal had not spoken, and so it had surprised her. She turned around again, only to see the furry creature nearer to her, only a foot from her feet. She backed away a little, until she finally felt herself to be at a comfortable distance.

She bent down, so that she could get a better look at the strange thing's appearance. After all, Sarah was not about to judge this being wrong again. It had surprised her twice and that was enough.

"I was going outside. Now, I hope you don't think me rude, but I've never seen you in here and I'm afraid I don't have a clue as to who, or what, you are," Sarah stated with a friendly smile.

The little creature did not answer her question, but instead continued to stare at her with the magical purple eyes. She had never seen any of such an interesting quality. Sarah was almost tempted to scoop the animal into her arms, for it seemed just like a stuffed animal that needed to be cuddled. She suppressed a few giggles at the idea.

"No one goes that way anymore," it replied ominously.

Sarah shivered at the tone of voice and the strange gust of chilling wind that beat against the castle at that precise moment. She glanced around nervously, suddenly feeling very frightened and alone in a place that she had accepted as home. Sarah rose to her feet and glanced about, just to assure herself that there was not anything horrible coming to attack her while her back was turned and her attention was focused on this tiny animal's warnings.

"Oh, may I ask why?" she kept her voice from shaking, but only by a slight margin.

The animal shivered a bit, and then turned to leave, as strangely as it had appeared. Sarah watched it lumber away on all four of its padded feet, its long hair drifting slightly as it walked. It rounded the corner and the foreboding air that had covered the hallway instantly dropped. Once again she felt safe in the castle, and her curiosity was still roused by the overgrown garden. In fact, the furry creature had only given her more questions concerning why no one should go into that garden anymore. It simply did not make sense.

She glanced over her shoulder at the door, simple and unimportant in its slight size and wooden construction, but it was another way to enter into the castle, or exit for that matter. Not many knew about it, for almost every guest that had ever come to the castle entered or exited through the large double doors, crafted from powerful metal. Jareth had told her this one night, though she could not recall why the topic had come up in the first place.

"It's now or never, Sarah," she stated, offering herself a boost in courage.

The hallway was empty, totally devoid of any other form of animal, being, anything, except herself. No one would ever know that she had slipped out to peek at the wondrous garden, if she hurried. Jareth was surely not going to be back for some time. There was no need to worry. With that encouraging thought fresh in her mind she strode defiantly towards the door, only to stop with her hand held a few scant inches from the doorknob. Her vivid imagination had suddenly begun forming pictures of what could be waiting for her beyond this inconspicuous door. She withdrew her hand and bit her lips in thought as to what to do next. All the while she imagined horrifying things that could possibly be waiting for her to open the door, the only thing that separated her from certain death.

"Certain death?" Sarah repeated to herself.

It rang familiarly through her mind, and seemed to aquire an accent. She leaned against the nearby wall as a bright flash of total whiteness covered her vision, leaving her blinded. Then a picture formed, but not before her eyes, rather in her mind. It was a memory, one of many that had been lost.

She saw guards, standing before two doors, and they looked like cards. It was a riddle that they had told her, one of many she had faced in the Labyrinth. Sarah saw herself, her cocky immature self as she solved the riddle and entered through the door that she was sure would lead to... to... She could not see where, for that was still hidden in the fog. "Falling, falling. Where am I? What is this?" she asked as she felt hands groping her sides.

She could not see anything, but rather sensed that she was being aided. However, the feel of all those hands all over her, terrified her more than the fall from which she had been saved. For some reason she did not trust anything, for she had been facing too many problems, and had been tricked far too much to place her trust in anyone. These things could be helping, but she suspected that they would have dropped her no matter which way she told them she wished to go.

As she landed roughly on ground, and was covered in a cloud of choking dust, the memory started to break apart, and the castle reappeared before her wide, frightened eyes. She saw the prison, though could not see much, for the last thing that greeted her open mind was the knowledge that she was in a prison of sorts, an underground cell.

Sarah snapped back to reality the next moment, and screamed. She clapped her hands over her opened mouth and immediately scolded herself for drawing so much attention. It was not going to help in the long run. So she stood there, breathing deeply and trying to calm her racing heart.

"Was this all part of my life, or some fantasy story that I read?" Sarah asked herself as she attempted to find the meaning behind the memories that did not seem to connect.

She knew that she had gone through a maze, a labyrinth. She knew also that she had been faced with many tests, some that she failed and some that she passed, yet that was where it ended. She knew also that she had a horse, Tripix, and had been gifted with this wonderful amnesia while riding through a forest, obviously, for she had hit a tree limb. It was all so confusing, and so many questions were racing through her mind.

She pushed herself away from the wall, knowing that she had to go to see the garden, and that some of her answers would be out there. She swallowed several times and then grasped the doorknob in a trembling hand. There would be no more hesitating, for if she truly wanted to regain her past then she would have to take the first step towards those answers.

"Here goes nothing," she said and threw the door open.

Sarah jumped back, sure that something would grab her and kill her the moment she came into view. She cringed against the wall and shielded her face, knowing that it would do no good against a potential predator, but did so nonetheless. Yet, nothing happened, and there was no attack. Sarah dropped her hands and gazed out into the lovely evening scenery.

The surroundings were awe-striking, all bathed in the dying fire of the dusk sun, setting just on the horizon. Everywhere tender pinks and sizzling oranges highlighted normally less poignant figures. Darkened shadows stretched far off in one direction, warping the figures in their deformed natures.

The garden itself was entirely amazing, and different than what she had imagined. It was so lovely, and not threatening in the least. However, the wild overgrown bushes had made it seem quite rundown. Still, it held an atmosphere of splendor and joy, hope and rebirth. Somewhere inside of the weeds and the wildly running vines that had threatened to take over everything, she could see the well kept garden that had been someone's joy, perhaps a long time ago.

Sarah rushed outside, not minding the open door, for her thoughts were entirely upon the garden that she had yearned to see for so long. Finally, it was hers, and she could tell Jareth that nothing bad had happened, and perhaps he would agree that it could use work and that she would probably return it to its previous beauty.

She brushed past the trellises, observing their intricate designs and the ivy that had wound all through them. It gave quite a sweet touch to the garden, and Sarah decided that the wild vines would have to remain there. The lovely bench too was overcome with wild plants, and had faced many years of neglect. Still, she knew that it would not be hard to return it to its original shimmering self.

"Why would anyone not wish to be in such a magical place?" Sarah asked the sky as she spun around, overcome with feelings of utter joy and serenity.

She gazed up into the pale lavender sky overhead. The first twinkling stars had only just begun to show themselves, and grudgingly raise from slumber. The sun itself demanded to leave with a show of intense proportions, which was this miraculous sunset. Of the weeks that she could recall, Sarah could not pick a more perfect sunset than this one. Her only wish was that Jareth could be there with her to enjoy it all. She could only hope that he would be back soon.

Sarah lowered her gaze from the immense heavens, that spanned in every direction, to the earthly garden. Her eyes fell upon one single flower, a beauty that showed itself apart from all the others. It glimmered with a purity that resembled a crystal, one that Jareth might have used in some spell. She was utterly breathless from the sight and rushed closer so that she might bask in this flower's spell.

"A white rose...," Sarah's voice broke off as a faint recollection of her dream danced through her mind.

She could remember seeing a perfect white rose in the well. It had reminded her of herself, so alone and lost without a world to remember. Now this appeared before her. It could not be chance. She was destined to venture into this garden and see the rose and then perhaps she was also destined to be granted with her memory.

The well! The thought burst into her mind and drove all thoughts of the pure flower aside. It had been the focus of her dream, and she had seen something else inside its murky depths that had been of great importance. However, she could not say what it was that she had seen. Sarah spun around and ran to the well's side. She then peered into its depths to see... nothing.

Sarah sighed, her hopes crushed and her spirits dead. She had believed, had truly believed that this would be the answer to her forgotten past. Now, she had only more disappointment and more questions about this strange garden. It was hopeless, and she had to grow to realize that her past was gone, and she had to continue with the present and look forward to the future, with Jareth.

"I shouldn't even be here," Sarah stated.

She turned from the well with a sense of reluctance, but could not stand to have such overwhelming disappointment once again. It was over, and she would not mention to Jareth that she had come here, for there was no point to anger him.

Sarah trudged back to the still open door, offering the garden a single glance, hoping that maybe it would show her that it was not ordinary, that there was something that was waiting there, for her. However, nothing happened, and so, with a sigh, she turned her back on it.

The door closed with finality, shutting the way to the garden, perhaps forever, for all she knew. Sarah did not wish to return, to see the white rose or the well, or even the beauty that so covered it. That part of her was dead, and would never be back, at least not until her memories were returned. She would simply wait for Jareth to come back and continue her life with him, forgetting about what she had been and everything that used to be.

"I told you that no one went there anymore," the tiny being that had spoken earlier stated.

Sarah glanced at the creature, but did not say a word. She was not in her normal happy mood, and certainly was not willing to have a conversation with a creature that never answered anything she asked. Sarah brushed past it with a sigh and continued the rest of the way down the hall.

"I thought that she would have tried a bit more," the creature stated, and then promptly disappeared into nothingness, leaving behind not a trace of evidence that anything had ever been there.

In the garden a shadow stood up from the many overgrown bushes and peered towards the closed door, urging the child to return. However, there was no open mind ready to greet the unspoken pleas for help, or the urging promises of a returned past. It slunk back into the garden, the only sanctuary, finally understanding that the girl was lost forever, without a past, and in a world that was not her own.

Chapter Eighteen

The thoughts of the eminent destruction that his world was facing, cascaded through his racing mind, as he slowed his horse to a stop. Jareth could only wish that time would turn around, rewind to the day when Sarah had asked him to take her baby brother, so that he could have avoided all this.

Jareth leapt down from atop his mighty black steed, who breathed in great billowing gusts, his breath a fine gray mist of steam in the cool weather. It was strange how the temperature had plummeted, just within the short time he had left the castle and arrived here, at the scene of the chaotic disaster.

He briefly secured the flowing cape about his shoulders, protecting himself from the chill in the wind that had caught the flowing black leather and twisted it through the air. His golden hair rushed behind him, flowing like a liquid and glistening as if on fire from the light of the setting sun.

A shiver coursed down his spine, not due to the weather, but rather a dread that had seeped into his soul as he rode out here. Things were ending, dying, and he was helpless to stop it. Yet, something else, something that he could not quite see, was wrong, horribly bad, and that frightened Jareth more than the fact that the forest had suddenly disappeared.

A small crowd of goblins had settled together, just at the rise before the great ancient woods. They huddled together in the chilled weather, trying to fight off the freezing wind as it bit into their skin. They were not used to such a change, and so could not cope well with it.

"Your M-Majesty," One said between spells of uncontrollable shivers.

Jareth paused before them and tossed his reins carelessly to the one who had spoken and actually had managed to rise. Jareth observed the others, his eyes filled with a fire of anger and contempt towards their fickle minds. However, he did not have time to deliver a punishment upon these insolent beasts.

"Leave me be, except you," Jareth pointed at the one who held his horse, "You remain here until I return."

The wind had increased dramatically, tearing across the Underground with vicious strength, and attacking what few trees still remained on the outskirts of the forest. It tried desperately to sweep Jareth's voice away the moment it dared to exit his mouth. It tore at his cape, and demanded that he remain this distance from the missing woods.

"Ye-es," the goblin stated, clenching his eyes shut from the fiercely attacking wind.

The mighty black stallion shook his head in fear of the wind and the new sounds and sights that were suddenly forced upon him. His dark eyes rolled wildly about, viewing his strange surroundings that had been so familiar only a few short minutes ago. Even his long mane and tail, as they were brushed in a fantastic display of free-floating glory, tugged at his frightened nature and sent strange images into his mind of dangerous beasts lurking behind him.

Jareth stroked the stallion's velveteen muzzle, feeling warm breaths against his hand. The horse looked at his master, eyes still rolling and trying desperately to see what was behind him. Jareth watched this display for a bit longer and then stepped back, observing the way the animal twirled about, dragging the pathetic goblin along and then reared as a mighty wild beast, fighting for his life.

"Enough!" Jareth demanded as he threw his hands into the air.

A brilliant flash of purest white surrounded the animal and the goblin. It exploded forth with a power that encompassed the whole dusk and turned it into the light of day, for just a short magical moment. Jareth observed with a deep breath, calming his anxiousness that coursed through his body with every passing second.

The spell dissipated and broke, shattering to reveal this changed world that had always been his kingdom, and now, was only a shadow of the original awe-striking masterpiece. He allowed himself a few more seconds of peace, watching the last of the magic fall to the ground as crystal dust, only to be picked up by invisible hands and tossed through the gusty conditions.

"The Underground shall soon be carried away as well," Jareth remarked with a sigh and turned to see what had happened most recently.

He stood atop the crest of the hill, green grass to his knees flowing all around, and acting like an ocean of emerald green. The shoots of fresh grass bowed and stood as waves in the water, drifting past him, the only thing standing against this ominous force that was the storm.

Yet, his eyes, that shone with a hundred fears and worries, were fixed upon the ground. His world, his life, it was fading too quickly for Jareth to even grasp at the fine strings that were left trailing in the wind. His face had broken, as his emotional mask fell and left him helpless against the terrifying power he stood against.

All that was left was a plot of land, only sand that seemed almost like a desert. The ice wind drew fine sprays of sand into the air again and again, and threw it about, covering much more with that horrid substance.

"What am I to do!" Jareth yelled, fighting against it all, though he knew that he would lose.

He threw his hands upwards, demanding the answer, but knowing that he would be left in this dismal questioning silence, accompanied only by the whistling wind, as it moaned past him. He dropped his hands in defeat and hung his mighty head. It was utterly hopeless.

Jareth turned from the destruction, the massive lost forest, with only a sigh. No touch of magic could return the woods, no crystal, nor healing whiteness of purifying light. His magic was not capable of doing such great feats, and so it was good for nothing, nothing except parlor tricks. He scoffed at his old arrogance, and his belief that he could be powerful, that he could best anyone in a contest of skill.

His legs had lost their strength, and seemed to entirely collapse beneath his weight. One moment he was upright, trudging slowly through the powerful force of the wind, and the next he was on his knees, grasping tendrils of emerald grass in white hands, and tearing them out, only to be picked up by the wind again and again. His anger flowed wildly, forcing him to attack, and tear at the only thing that was weaker than he. His land, it was at his mercy, and so he would force it to understand that he was in charge. He could not lose his position as the authority figure. Yet, even as he clutched a handful of grass, he knew that there was nothing left to control, nor rule over. He was trying to save something that was already dead. Perhaps it finally was time to let go.

Jareth hung his head once again, his golden mane of hair drifting over his face, and hiding the show of pain, and suffering, despair and weakness, that surged forth in the form of a single crystalline tear. Only one slipped from his shimmering sapphire eye and slid down his perfectly sculpted features, to plummet to the grass, that had faced his wrath only a few short moments earlier. Now he was grieving over all that was lost, and all that would never be again.

Fairy tales, Magic, and even Goblin Kings were a thing of the past. They would fade, and they would be no more, lost before most knew what it was that they had allowed to slip through the cracks. It hurt, more than any physical illness, any injury, anything that could have been inflicted upon his immortal body. This wound was deadly, and festering in his soul, open and bleeding.

"Sarah," Jareth moaned, his strength flowing out of his body as he gave into the forgotten past, present, and future.

An image flashed before his dimmed eyes, in a fury of oranges and reds. He witnessed a woman, his Sarah, his love, in the garden. Jareth's body clenched, as every muscle tightened at the sight of the cursed place. He could see Sarah in there, and he knew that it was not time to give in.

He could not let anything happen to her. Jareth pushed himself to his knees, swaying as a wave of intense vertigo swept over his weak body. The wind attacked him ruthlessly, not caring that he was trying to help Sarah, but only wanting the king to remain down, to die out here on this grassy hill, overlooking a faded forest. He fought, and he knew in his heart that failure was not an option.

"Everything in my life has been a pointless game of tag, running in circles, and now I will not let this catch me, not now, not when I have finally settled myself into some semblance of happiness," he demanded as he rose to shaking and shivering legs.

Oh, and he was freezing. He shivered uncontrollably as he walked, or rather staggered down the hill, hoping for some sanctuary, some transportation. His face that had always been such a glorious pale alabaster shade was deathly gray-white, from cold and the horrid death he had almost allowed himself to accept. Jareth only managed to tighten the cape about his shuddering shoulders and stagger forward.

"My horse! My...," Jareth stopped short when he saw the blank field stretching out in all directions.

He had foolishly sent the goblin back to his castle with the horse. He had no way to the castle, to see Sarah and take her away from the garden. His head throbbed relentlessly as the wind pounded against him with more force, unrelenting anguishing pressure constantly pushing him back.

Once again Jareth could see her in the garden, approaching the well now. He could see her, but not with his eyes, rather in his mind. Still the dreary scenery of the green monotonous field remained in his vision, while his attention focused on the woman and her presence in a place he had strictly forbidden.

Jareth's patience broke, as did his last bit of rational thinking. There was no time to think of consequences, but only enough to act, and do so quickly. He gestured with his hands and produced a single transparent crystal, glittering in the last remnants of sunshine. Without any hesitation he tossed the orb into the sky and the next instant was bathed in the calming whiteness of his magic.

He felt it heal his damaged heart, his soul, and even his mind. The whiteness entirely covered him, as if bathing him, and giving Jareth another life to begin again. The wind faded to nothing, as did the feel of sweeping grass against his legs. His headache relented and allowed him time to think, to dwell on the fact that he had dared to use this form of transportation even while his amnesia was still keeping memories under lock and key.

Then it fell away, and revealed the throne room, simple but so wonderful when compared to the weather he had faced. It was warm, and the wooden shutters had been closed against the raging wind outside. He had not ever remembered the goblins being so well trained, and doing something worthwhile, but he could not remember much anymore.

"Sarah!" Jareth demanded, the memory of his vision returned the next instant.

There was no response. Even the goblins were silent, huddled together and already sleeping all around the throne room. They snored horridly, a sound as awful as fingernails over a chalkboard, or knives on china plates. Jareth rushed from the room, only to stop again and glance out a single window that had been left slightly ajar.

"It cannot be," Jareth marveled as he gazed in stunned wonder at the serene moon high overhead.

He had left for the castle at dusk, the sun only having begun to set, and now it was late, perhaps twelve or thirteen at night. He could not tell without glancing at a clock, but did not have time to do so. The mere thought of the time delay sent a shiver of fear through his body.

Sarah had been in the garden, but where could she be now that hours had passed? However, perhaps she had not been in the garden in the first place, for he could have been delusional. The freezing wind and suicidal thoughts could have sent a means of self-preservation, in the form of Sarah, the only thing he cared for any longer. He could not be quick to cast blame, when she could have very well been inside reading, the whole time, for all he knew.

Jareth rushed down the hallways, his heart beating with a quickened pace, and pounding in his ears. Her room laid just ahead, the door slightly open and a reflection of a candle's warm glow was cast upon the gray stone floor. The sight of this flickering orange light almost made Jareth collapse yet again, in sheer delight that she was well and in her room, safe.

He stopped just outside the door, and listened for sounds of sleep, but there were none. Jareth peered around the door frame, and his breath caught in his throat. All the emotions that had been toyed with sprung to the surface and threatened to overwhelm him once again, yet he held them silently, and contented himself to simply gaze at her.

She sat gazing at the flickering flame, and running a silver brush through her long cascading tresses of the deepest chocolate brown. The orange and yellow from the slight flame cast lovely highlights over her thoughtful face and through her shimmering hair. Even her eyes, those of a daydreamer, were dancing with a fire of their own. She was an angel, placed before him to merely guide him through life. That was the only reason he could think of.

Then she turned, ever so slowly, just glancing out her door perhaps to see if something was there, or if the sigh she had heard was real or another figment of her imagination. She was nearly startled to see him, standing in the middle of the doorway, his face a deathly white and his eyes covered in traces of terror so great that she would never be able to fully comprehend.

He was a dark king, dressed entirely in shades of jet and navy, and adorned with a cape that cascaded over his shoulders to the hard ground. Jareth's hair, usually so luxuriant, laid dead on his shoulders and over his back.

Sarah forced a smile to her lips, to perhaps break the unnerving atmosphere. However, it never once touched her worried eyes, for they remained set and concerned, begging Jareth to tell her what had happened out there while she had remained behind. However, there would be no talk, at least not that night, and no time in the near future. He could not bring himself to think of his downfall any longer.

"I was worried," she said gently, her voice shivering just enough to prove that what she said was the truth.

Jareth cleared his throat, trying to act normal, and strong in front of her. If he was to show what was happening, then Sarah would be faced with more stress than she needed at this time, when she needed him the most. He did not need to say a thing, and instead walked into the room.

Sarah gazed up at the King as he walked in, trying to act, but not able to entirely convince her that something was not wrong. She could see through Jareth's calm demeanor, and the charade he put on only made her more worried about what horrid thing had caused this change in his entire personality. He was so very different, almost nothing more than a shadow as he approached her.

She felt herself grow afraid of him, and his differences. It was a pointless fear, and she knew that, but still was helpless to push it aside. Instead she cast her eyes downward, observing the strange patterns on the stone floor. They could have been interesting, forming different pictures as they ran together, but her mind was somewhere entirely different. It was with Jareth.

She felt a hand stroke her cheek, with such a tenderness that it forced her to raise her eyes back to his. Jareth's face was so calm now, devoid of the air of terror and that dead quality that had frightened her so. She sighed deeply and nearly jumped into his arms, just at the sight of her love returned to his normal self. Instead she grabbed his hand in her own and held it to her face.

There was nothing more to say, as she gently kissed his palm, adoring the magical aura. It was like electricity, but sweet to feel and not shocking. Sarah dropped his hand and waited for him to sit beside her, and finally throw aside the strange fear that was dissipating inside of her.

Jareth sat on the bed and looked at her, his face emotionless, the mask back in its regular place after being gone for so long. He could not dare to allow it to drop, not now and probably not ever. It was too dangerous. He knew that she could see something different in him, but he could not hide it anymore than what he had already done. He was not the same, and could not deny that something inside of him had died that night, out in the Underground.

Jareth took her into his arms and rested his head in her lovely silken hair. He adored the feel of her arms around him, comforting and gentle all at the same time. It was a moment he did not want to leave, and so would not.

They remained in each others arms for the duration of that doomed night.

Chapter Nineteen

Sarah felt the warmth of the morning sun against her cheek, kissing her face so lightly. It brought a slight smile to her pink-tinged lips and a glorious feeling of rebirth. She yawned and stretched, enjoying the warm weather, when compared to the storm that had raged the night before.

Sarah fluttered her large chocolate eyes open, slowly allowing them to adjust to the pleasant rays of golden sun streaming down upon her. She gazed out the window, adoring the pale blue sky, and the scent of fresh earth and flowers that drifted past her. It was quite a beautiful morning and sent all feelings of fear and worry from her relaxed mind.

Jareth had long since left her to sleep, for she saw no sign of his presence in her room. She could not remember when she had drifted off into sleep the night prior, but could recall feeling his arms around her even when she first allowed her heavy lids to drop closed and her sore eyes to finally rest.

"Quite a night," Sarah stated.

It was true, the evening had been filled with disappointment and fear. She had dared to enter the enticing garden, but had not been rewarded in the least. Her memory was still absent as well. Then there was Jareth, and his problems that he had yet to tell her about. She did not doubt that he would tell her everything some time, probably a long while from this certain day, but he would. When he did, she would be there to comfort him, as he did with her lost past and the anger and pain she faced because of that.

Sarah stretched once again, feeling lazy and entirely wonderful all at the same time. She did not want to leave her comfortable bed that cradled her entire body in its soft embrace. She yearned to remain here, have breakfast in bed, and read her book. However, she knew that that was not to be, so she gradually swung her legs over the side and sighed deeply.

Sarah rose to her feet, and glanced around the room that had become so much a part of her over the past couple of weeks. It was her life, a piece of her soul in plain view. Sarah played with a corner of gauzy white valence over her canopy bed. She adored the feel of silken splendor and then dropped her hand from the veil-like material.

"Oh well," Sarah stated with another sigh.

She shuffled to her closet, in no need to hurry at all. She knew she had to get up, but certainly was not going to do so quickly. Everyone could wait for her, she deserved to relax.

She stopped before her wardrobe that housed her many gowns and simple casual dresses. It was crafted from the richest oak and carved with wondrous ornate designs that added a magical appearance to the furniture. She ran her hand over a carved vine, tracing its twisting and turning, much the same as the labyrinth through which she had traveled some time in her past.

Sarah threw the door open and pushed aside all thoughts of her lost past. She did not need to dwell on such things that would discourage her. She was in a good mood and planned to stay that way. She had a life, and quite a wonderful one at that, and would have a future with Jareth in this lovely castle.

Sarah grasped one casual dress made from a cornflower blue velvet. She left the more elegant gowns in the wardrobe. They were amazing in their beauty and intricate beadwork, and obvious expense, but they were also heavy and terribly hot. She would much rather be comfortable than look like a queen. Besides she wasn't a queen, at least not yet. Sarah smiled at the possibilities and clutched the dress to her chest.

She could imagine what she would do if Jareth ever asked her to marry him. She would simply melt into the ground and then gather herself back together to reply a very excited "Yes!" Then she would leap into his strong arms and remain there for the rest of eternity, as his wife. Sarah laughed and twirled about her room, consumed by her daydream.

She suddenly stopped herself, reality slapping her rudely in the face. Perhaps she believed that she was in love with Jareth, but had only known him for a few short weeks, not enough time on which to base an entire future. Sarah calmed her quickly beating heart and shook the last of the fantasy from her mind.

"Calm down, Sarah," she demanded.

Sarah listened to her advice and sighed at her immature display. She pulled her shift off, and quickly changed. She felt rushed suddenly, in need to see Jareth soon. Sarah checked herself in the mirror and then hurried from her room, allowing the door to slam behind her and frighten a few stray goblins who reclined against the wall.

They glared at Sarah, but made no attempt to voice their complaints. Sarah was too close to the King, and should she tell him what they said, there would be Hell to pay later. Instead they simply leaned back against the stone walls and drowsed off to a drunken slumber. Sarah glanced down at them and then rushed by, simply disgusted with the ugly cretins.

She lifted the train of the dress almost automatically as she entered the throne room, prepared to see Jareth reclining in his throne as usual. Sarah smiled brightly, portraying her joy with the day through her cheerful mood. Yet, the grin fell the moment she beheld the chaos that had overthrown the throne room. Sarah looked around nervously at the mob of goblins.

They were everywhere, the floor, the walls, shelves, even the throne itself. All were yelling and laughing, talking or complaining, and making a general mess of the entire room. Sarah gasped and backed out of the path of a rather large clod of mud. It smacked the wall directly beside her, and sprayed all over her lovely dress.

"Jareth! Stop! Stop it! Oh, get away from me!" she demanded as several of the goblins spotted her standing at the doorway.

They rushed towards her, all talking excitedly about something that she could not quite catch. Their speech was so near gibberish, and they were all talking so loud, and she really was nervous. There was no way she would have understood if one had taken the time to have an intelligent conversation with her. She simply backed into the hall, nodding in agreement and swatting several of the creatures away with her hands.

"Where are you going?" a small sly voice questioned from behind her.

Sarah spun about, and nearly screamed when she noticed that another goblin had sneaked up beside her. It grinned, showing all of its two teeth and then herded her back into the throne room, with the rest of the crowd.

Sarah's temper broke with that final impolite gesture. She dropped her dress from her hands and then pushed the little beast out of her way. Others attempted to block her path of escape, and they met with the same flailing and punching hands. She pushed them aside and made way for herself to pass by.

"Sarah, what do you think you are doing?" a velvety sweet voice asked from behind her.

She paused in the midst of pushing aside another pest and turned, offering Jareth a sweet, innocent smile. Sarah quickly straightened herself and brushed back her wild hair with a few quick sweeps of her hands. She then bit her lip, wondering what Jareth would say about such an unladylike way to act.

"I-I can explain. You see, these beasts were treating me just awful and I wanted to leave, but they tried to keep me here and...," Sarah paused as Jareth placed a finger over her lips.

He took her arm and guided her past the restless crowd of goblins that had congregated around one central point in the middle of the room. However, Sarah paid the commotion no heed, since she never understood why goblins acted the way they did anytime, even when they were being relatively normal.

He led her into an adjacent room, almost bare save a single oversized bed. It nearly took up the whole of the expansive room. Sarah marveled over the size of the bed for a brief time. However, the sound of the door being locked brought her attention back to Jareth. He walked over to her and brushed his hand across her gentle face.

"I suppose you must be wondering what is happening," Jareth stated, his face suddenly growing set, and emotionless.

Sarah nodded slightly, but instead focused on the definite change she witnessed in her lover. There was no reason for it, at least to her knowledge. He did not seem upset, but rather disinterested in life itself. Sarah waited for him to continue.

"I have not been myself lately, and I decided that that was what has caused my kingdom to fade. So, with that thought, I have taken my royal duties as Goblin King securely in my hands and plan to continue with life as always. I hope that this shall not affect you, Sarah. That is the furthest thought from my mind," he stated, taking her hands into his.

Sarah allowed the news to sink in for a brief time. She was afraid to ask the annoying question that continued to circle through her mind. She did not want to know what he did if it was going to be something that would cause her grief, or pain, or to make her grow angry with him.

She tried desperately to keep the question from bursting forth, but was helpless in the end. She lost control of her mouth and her voice and the inquiry simply exploded out in the open, for all to see and hear.

"What are these duties, Jareth?" she asked, in a single quick breath.

Jareth's calm mask seemed to drop, or falter, for just a scant moment, the time it takes one's heart to beat. He regained his composure, but Sarah had seen the difference, and had seen the worry in his lovely changeling eyes. She swallowed, understanding that the news was not going to be good.

"I will be to the point. Young people call on me to take their babies, whether they be siblings or offspring. I take them, and allow the person who had wished the child away thirteen hours in which to solve my Labyrinth. Yet, times have changed and since the Underground is disappearing, the baby comes here and is instantly changed into a goblin, no chances, and no thirteen hours," Jareth remained calm and cool through his whole explanation.

"Labyrinth?" Sarah questioned.

Her face had turned a stark shade of white, and her eyes seemed to glaze over. She swayed on her weakened legs and reached out for support from something, anything. Sarah tumbled forward, and into Jareth's embrace, though she did not feel it. She was elsewhere, in her own thoughts.

"Sarah!" Jareth demanded.

He laid her on the bed and brushed her raven hair away from her pale, ghostly face. Her eyes remained open, but stared off into nothing. She was awake, and wasn't, all at the same time. And he was helpless to do anything except watch her as she remained in this coma-like state. * * * * * * *

Sarah found her world spinning hopelessly out of control at the mere mention of that word. This man whom she had dared to love and trust, had conjured up her forgotten past with the single unimportant word. She hated and loved him for it, yearned to leave and wished to stay by his side.

Then she felt herself moving away, fading almost into another world. One that she had not remembered since then. At first her vision was bathed in an eerie darkness, occasionally highlighted by the burst of white lightening as a storm raged on outside. Sarah's gaze trailed over to the fluttering silken drapes that adorned lovely French doors on the other side of the room that was reluctantly drawing into focus.

Sounds of laughing, and gleeful taunts surrounded her. She spun around, trying desperately to see what was having so much fun frightening her. However, the beasts were always too quick, ducking back into hiding the moment her gaze drew near to their tricky bodies.

A figure was highlighted by a flash of lightening. Sarah gasped and backed away, for what she saw was herself, younger and dressed in simpler clothes. In fact, this Sarah was dressed much the same way as she, herself had been upon awakening in the castle. Sarah watched her younger counterpart with a detached sort of awe, as a scratching sound broke the chaos in the room.

Another flash of white came from outside, but this was not a bolt from the storm, instead a simple owl. It was a terrifying sight, to see the bird with eyes far too intelligent to be anything but human. It wanted in, and Sarah suddenly realized who this was that came in a disguise to see her.

The doors burst open with a shattering force and pounding of rain from the attacking storm that still raged on outside. Sarah turned from the rain and the strange spray of dust that surrounded her. She did not want to see who had come, for that would confirm her deepest fears, and then harm her love for all time.

However, the temptation to learn about her past was all too alluring and she removed her arms the same instant her younger self did. They gazed in wonder at the man who now stood before them, both drawing in a breath of shock and amazement.

Jareth stood there, resplendent in all his shocking glory and frightening atmosphere. His regal features were gathered in a taunting evil grin, one that showed Sarah how unimportant she was in the whole coarse of events, and that this visit was simply a pleasantry that he was entitled to perform as part of his duties. However, despite the obvious anger this attitude invoked in her, Sarah still loved him. She would have to accept that her feelings of longing had deepened, and she was hopelessly in love with this man, her enemy.

"You're him aren't you? You're the Goblin King. I want my brother back, please, if it's all the same," the younger Sarah stated.

Jareth crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her mockingly. His eyes danced with mischief and anger towards this young girl who was choosing to be so defiant. He allowed a slight smile to play across his features and then cocked his head just slightly.

"What's said is said," he stated, arrogant and overbearing.

Sarah rushed up to the Goblin King, in an attempt to stop him from saying anything else. She did not want to know what awful things he had done in her past. Hadn't she decided not to dwell on her past any longer? In the garden, of course, she said she wanted a future with Jareth. Now her memories threatened to break that dream apart.

"Please, Jareth, please," she begged, ignoring the obvious verbal combat that was going on between the younger Sarah and the King.

* * * * * * *

Sarah thrashed her arms about as she attempted to grab someone in her dream. Her eyebrows drew together in concern, but still her eyes remained unfocused. Jareth grasped her wildly moving hands and held them down, in an attempt to awaken his love. However, it did no good, and only angered her more.

"Please, Jareth, please," her voice was emotionless and flat.

Jareth stroked her cheek with the tenderness and love that he had felt since he first witnessed her in a crystal so long ago. He felt his world slipping away as more memories obviously flooded into her open mind. She would hate him when she awakened, and then he would die.

Jareth removed his grasp on her hands to allow her to continue with the memory, free and alone.

* * * * * *

Jareth simply pointed to the window, gesturing outside to the storm. Sarah's eyes trailed over, afraid of what she would see. Her breath caught at the sight of the wondrous Underground and the massive Labyrinth that stretched on forever. At least, it seemed to be forever. She could barely see the castle in the distance.

"Why have I not seen the Labyrinth in the Underground then?" Sarah inquired.

No one took the time to answer her, and Sarah privately prayed that this memory would end. She did not want to see anymore, and wished that what she had seen would vanish. Perhaps she could hit her head once more and take away this awful memory.

Just as the awful thought crossed her mind the scene before her seemed to break apart. The light of the rising sun faded to that of mid-morning light. The vast expanse of the Underground melted into simple gray stones that made up the walls and floors of the castle.

Sarah blinked once, twice, her mind so very slowly remembering what had happened before her trance had taken over. She closed her eyes and rubbed her throbbing head. However, there was a presence in the room, and that thought made her eyes snap open, almost as if they had a mind of their own.

Sarah gazed up at the face from her memory. Her blood seemed to run cold and her heart leapt into her throat, closing it momentarily. She gasped and bolted up, edging away from the man whom she had loved only a short time ago. Now, he invoked a sense of fear and anger inside of her. Sarah did not know what to say, or do, other than try to make some sense of everything that had suddenly been pushed upon her.

Jareth himself attempted a wan smile, offering her a hand to aid her in rising from the bed. Yet, she could not accept help from him, for that would be admitting weakness. Sarah simply turned from him and sighed deeply. Her mind rushed with thousands of thoughts, too many to keep track of them.

At long last she managed to turn her face to him, however there was only pain hidden deep inside. She stared into his eyes, probing for an answer, one that neither one had nor could ever know. He pleaded with her to forgive him, perhaps to allow him one last chance to make things right.

Sarah simply shook her head, her mouth set and eyes glimmering as cold as ice. She could not believe, but knew that her memories were one thing that she would have to trust.

"Who are you....Jareth?"

Chapter Twenty

He had awakened when the first rays of the morning sun had touched the tip of the horizon in the far East. Sleep had left all too soon, leaving him unrested and still weakened from the night prior. However, that was how things were to go, and there was no point to toss and turn and awaken Sarah as she dozed beside him.

With a deep breath he had risen from the comfortable mattress, still dressed in his clothes from yesterday. Jareth paused before the mirror and observed his appearance with an air of disgust. Never had he allowed himself to look so poorly, at least not to his memory.

He walked quickly from the room, offering his love a single glance back as she slept. A smile filled with life and renewed happiness lit his noble face for a brief moment, washing away the last remnants of grief that had remained through the duration of the night. She always touched him to his very soul, removing all that had damaged him or caused him grief.

Jareth shut the door silently behind himself and turned from the room. The thoughts of the forest that had faded to oblivion the night before where mere ghosts left in his mind. It was a day to start anew, receive his second chance, and perhaps leave this tomb that was the Underground.

"Your highness," a breathy, struggled voice called from behind him.

Jareth paused in his steps and remained faced away from the goblin that had obviously come to tell him something of importance. The ignorant fool seemed to be quite out of breath, as if it had sprinted the entire way to the room, only to see the King start down the same hall from which it had just run.

Jareth pushed aside thoughts of what had happened that could have caused this rush and turned, a somewhat pleasant smile upon his mouth. He forced the air of mirth to remain, even when the condition the goblin was in sent a chill down his spine.

The creature was entirely worn out, and leaning over his knees in an attempt to recapture his lost breath. He had turned a strange sickly gray color as he panted for more air to enter his poor burning lungs. His armor laid scattered all down the hall, and only a few tattered pieced were actually left upon the gasping goblin.

Despite all this the beast managed to look at the king with eyes that bore almost a half-intelligent glint in them. This goblin was one of truly rare qualities, stamina and a brain that was almost worth something. Jareth waited patiently for the creature to work the words out between gasps of oxygen.

"Th-there... w--as a ...a..," the goblin fell upon his back and laid there for a few minutes still panting for his breath.

Jareth strode over to the fallen thing and bent over him, a predatory grin spread across his thin lips. Jareth showed his white teeth, slightly pointed, giving him the look of a cat ready to attack a helpless mouse as it sat in the middle of the floor. He placed his hand beneath his sculpted chin and motioned, once again, for the goblin to continue with its story.

"A girl, ...she call-alled f-for you to ta-ke her b-b-rother," the beast finally managed to spurt out.

He grinned at his king for a few moments, clearly satisfied with his ability to actually deliver such tremendous news. Obviously, the fool had failed to notice that the labyrinth was entirely missing. There would be no way to have any minute challenge to set before the girl once she decided that she really and truly did want her brother around for a bit longer.

Jareth's eyes danced with cold fire, filled with flashes of white light as his magic stirred restlessly inside his body. He was holding back, and knew that the magic was growing angry. Never had he ignored so many calls, so many chances to appear in an air of glory before a terrified child and claim the baby that was rightfully his, according to ancient Underground rule.

"I take it that you have not happened to glance outside," Jareth stated solemnly, throwing open a shutter and pointing towards the plot of sand that had once been the great and majestic maze.

The goblin struggled to his feet and started to hobble towards the window, to see what the king was gesturing towards. He even managed to look outside, take in the missing Labyrinth and then shrug at what was so different. Jareth resisted a strong urge to simply toss the insolent, vile cretin out of the window and stalk the rest of the way to the throne room.

"You do not need to understand. I am not going," Jareth responded, slamming the shutters closed against the bright, warm morning sun.

The goblin glanced towards the King, a strange puzzled look had covered his entire ugly face. He was not sure what to do, for he had never witnessed the king turn down such an opportunity. So he stood there, fidgeting restlessly in the middle of the hall.

"What are you still doing here. Leave me, out of my sight!" Jareth demanded, and turned his back on the thing that certainly was not worth his time.

It was pointless, to even try to reclaim his duties as Goblin King. What did they all expect of him? He was not the same, did not even have his whole kingdom to rule any longer. The magic stirred around inside and seemed to heighten his senses as Jareth continued to walk away from the goblin who still remained in the same spot that he had stopped.

"Perhaps...," Jareth pondered.

No, no, it was all too foolish to even think about. Still, there was such a good idea circling through his mind that it was hard to ignore. It rattled through every other thought he tried to cover it with. Jareth finally stopped in his paces and glanced over his shoulder to the hopelessly loyal goblin.

The Underground was indeed fading. It had been doing so since his memory had vanished, quite suddenly at that. When one was to look at those two horrible events that occurred so very close together, one would then deduce that they were related in some strange way. However, he had not been taking children since his memory had faded either, and so had ignored countless cries from countless young people in the human world.

"Your highness," the goblin stated again with a deep bow that almost knocked him from his very feet.

Jareth stopped before the guard, still very much in his own thoughts, but almost near a decision. It was worth a try, at least. After all, what harm could be done? Jareth ignored that question, knowing full well that there could be quite a bit harm inflicted upon himself, the Underground and even Sarah. He could not deny the fact that he needed to at least attempt this, if it meant renewal for the Underground.

"I will be going to speak to the girl. You gather some others and fetch the child. Do not delay with mindless activities!" Jareth demanded as he turned from the guard once again.

The goblins grotesque face lit up with joy. It had been so very long since a baby had been in the castle. It was fresh, and new, and would mean another goblin soon. The beast turned and waddled away, hurrying as fast as his short, stubby legs could carry him. There were several more to gather before they all went to claim the child as property of the Goblin King.

Jareth ignored the pestering voice that lingered in the back of his head. It attacked at his conscience (or what was left of it), making him feel guilty about performing a task he had undertaken so many countless times before.

"Before... before what? What should matter now? It is no different than then! I shall not feel guilty about a royal duty that has been mine for ages!" Jareth demanded.

At least, he was fairly sure that it had been his for ages. He was at least positive that he had been called to take the children, and had taken Sarah's little brother. The rest had been faded into oblivion for quite some time. Yet, the thoughts of his memory was not really what was bothering him as he stood before the open window, ready to transform into his owl shape and take flight to the "Aboveground."

It was Sarah who appeared in his thoughts. Her lovely perfect face, and innocent chocolate eyes, even her lovely open and friendly smile flitted through his mind. He knew that she would frown upon this act, thinking it positively horrid. However, the Underground was top priority. As far as he knew, Sarah had not begun to disappear. At least, he hoped that she hadn't.

"Do not be foolish," Jareth scolded.

He produced a perfectly splendid crystal in his hand. Yet, it felt wrong, strange, different than before. Jareth twirled it about, gazing as the points of light from golden sun rays lit upon the ground, himself, and resting on his bare hand. Jareth stopped the movement of the crystal and looked at his hand, so normal, so human.

"It is what I have wanted, to be human, with a normal life," a deep voice whispered at the back of his head.

Jareth paused for a slight moment, debating whether to gather the final touches. It did not really matter. He did not need to make a fantastic display, simply needed to frighten the young girl into submission, so that she would not even dare to consider choosing the missing labyrinth over his gift of amazing dreams. It would not be hard, as long as he remembered his skills, that had not been used for quite some time.

"A normal life will have to wait," Jareth answered the annoying voice.

He threw the crystal into the air and watched as it simply changed into white light, not really exploding, but rather ceasing to exist. It covered him, as it had always done so many times before, and changed his body into that of the owl, graceful and light, built to glide through the crystal sky.

He glanced over his shoulder with the wide, golden eyes of his owl form. She still slept in that room, oblivious of what he was about to do. Jareth whipped his head back around and focused upon the sky overhead, the gateway to the human world, to the girl who would soon have the fright of her life.

Jareth leapt into the air, adoring the way the wind rustled through his feathers and caressed his back. It was so amazing, flying, and had always been since he had first soared into the blue heavens. He had missed taking his regular soaring flights, but had really not thought about it until the moment he first felt the sensation of weightlessness.

"What am I doing?" Jareth asked himself as he felt the strange pulling and tearing as he broke through worlds, dimensions, everything that was fantasy to everything that was real.

The warm Underground dawn was immediately transformed to midnight, cold and rainy. A vicious storm raged on overhead and tried to knock him to the ground. Lightening of eerie whiteness streaked across the cold, black underbellies of the clouds and tried to strike him several times as he dodged their electrical currents. Thunder shook through the sky, and attacked the human's eardrums. He himself had grown used to the sounds of storms. So often, these children would call to him in the midst of some storm and force him here through the rain and wind, anything for their request to take the baby away.

He scanned the ground, lit by the flat orange glow of streetlamps that lined the street. It was so, wrong, manufactured. These lamps were not the night, nor were they things that should ever exist. Candle light, torches and the sun and moon, they offered true illumination that was not so heartless, or false. Jareth scoffed at the lamps and turned to gaze into the many houses below him.

A single home caught his eye and instantly drew his attention. The windows were open, and curtains billowed out into the storm. Never would these humans dare to do such a thing, and allow their most precious homes to be damaged in any way, shape or form.

Soon...

* * * * * * * *

His breath caught as Sarah stared at him, so cold, so uncaring. He yearned to wipe the slate clean, and take back all that he had said in the moment he had brought her into this room. He shouldn't have told her, and at the very least should have told her in a little gentler way than he had chosen.

She suddenly began shaking her head, as if in denial. He reached out to touch her, but she shied away from his hand. She was angry, probably beyond simple anger and near to the point of hysterics about what she had learned about this man whom she had thought she had loved, and had loved her.

"Who are you ... Jareth?" she asked suddenly.

His entire world collapsed in that moment and he could not even begin to speak. His throat was dry, and felt much too small. Instead he attempted to reach out to her one last time, yet she drew back. Her eyes narrowed in anger and she rose from the bed, ready to leave, perhaps forever.

"Sarah, please, wait," he said as he rushed up behind her, catching her arm in his hand.

Sarah turned on him, and pointed a single accusing finger towards his face. She clenched her jaw and once again could only shake her head. Sarah could not think of a solitary thing to say to express just how much he had hurt her. She let out a deep breath and yanked her arm from his grasp. She needed to be alone, at least for a while.

Sarah stormed out of the room the next moment and slammed the door behind herself, not offering him a single glance. Jareth stood there, thinking that maybe this could all be some dream, a nightmare actually. However the pain he felt in his heart and soul were true, and all the truth he needed to understand that this was life, and he was soon going to lose the only thing that mattered to him anymore... Sarah.

Chapter Twenty-One

Sarah flung the door open with a bit too much force and nearly succeeded in knocking herself over as it rebounded off the stone and back to her. However, her mind was traveling too quickly and her anger too great to pause in this room for even the slightest moment. She pushed herself through the door and then allowed it to slam behind her.

"How could he, how dare he?!" she demanded to herself as she rushed down the hallway.

She felt hurt, damaged, so many different emotions spun around inside of her and, above all, she was helpless. She yearned to simply leave and never return, but there was still a little part of her that wanted to be with Jareth and forget that this misunderstanding had ever occurred in the first place. However, things would never be the same.

Sarah stopped and bit her lip, fighting with the outburst of tears that sat poised, so close to overtaking her emotional barriers. With a grand gasp they burst forth, cascading in silken droplets down her cheeks and slipping tenderly over her stubborn-set chin. Sarah fell against the wall and crumpled to the ground, drawing her shuddering legs up to her chest.

It wasn't fair. Life wasn't fair. Nothing was fair!! She had found someone that truly loved her, and whom she loved as well, and now it was taken from her in the form of one pathetic memory. One damned flashback had the ability to tear her life in two, shred it and set it ablaze in the midst of a storm of feelings.

Sarah beat a clenched fist upon the dusty floor, sending fine clouds of brown and gray shifting lazily through the air and highlighted by the rays of sunlight that still streamed through the open window.

This day had started with the air of renewal, hope and even joy. Now, well now she was simply crushed to pieces, her heart broken and left doubting everything she had since then believed in. She did not know if her love had ever been true, or if she was instantly attracted to Jareth due to her emotional problems and foggy state of amnesia. Or perhaps it had been a true fairy tale romance, but was not to have the happy ending she had dreamed about. She even questioned if she belonged here, for she had seen another house, and a younger version of herself in entirely different clothes as well.

Sarah shook the confusing thoughts from her mind with a jerk of her head. Her tears dried instantly and her shivers ceased to continue. Something had made a noise, like the sound of a door closing down the hall. She did not wish to see Jareth now, but he would not listen, she knew him too well.

"Or do I?" Sarah asked in a weakened voice.

She wasn't certain who he was anymore. The only thing she knew for sure was that he had lied to her about so many different things that she could not begin to repeat them. He had taken her trust, her love, her heart even, and misused all of it. That was what hurt her the most, the feeling of deception that he had forced upon her trusting soul. She had been blinded by her forgotten past, but would not fall prey to her naivet‚ any longer, not now that she had learned the hard way.

Sarah nearly jumped to her feet as the sound of footsteps echoed down the hallway. She knew that it was him, and that he only wanted to talk. Sarah stood there, almost ready to grant him another chance to set things right, but she could not do it. She had too much pride to let him know how much this had all affected her. It was too late, too little, and utterly hopeless to try to fix what had once been their relationship.

Sarah swiped at the few tears that still streaked her face and hurriedly rushed further down the hall. She knew that Jareth could find her, if he truly wanted to, using magic, but she doubted that even he would stoop that low. She would be safely left alone if he was avoided long enough, so that he might begin to understand that she did not wish to see him.

Sarah faltered in her quick escape for just a brief second, perhaps to only ponder what was to happen next, or to question if this was the right thing that she was doing. In her mind she could see his handsome face, that coy grin, and debonair way he had charmed her. However, it was over now, and....

* * * * * *

...everything was hopelessly beyond repair. He could see her retreating further down the hallway, rushing to be away from him. Sarah did not want to face him, but he did not blame her. At that moment, he did not think very highly of himself either. It served him right, for he had inflicted this all upon himself, with the blunt way he had treated her earlier.

"Sarah...I ask for so little," he said, genuinely meaning it this time.

Once, three long years ago, he had spoken those same words, but then it had been a game. He had still been very much involved in their match against each other, still trying to best her. However, he had lost and the words had not aided him much. Perhaps they had stopped her briefly, but certainly not long enough to allow her to lose and leave Toby to turn into a goblin.

Yes, he had lost, but if he should lose this game, the pain would be so much deeper, permanent, perhaps deadly. Jareth watched as her shadow slipped around yet another corner and disappeared from sight. She was trying and succeeding in evading him. As always, Sarah would not stop until she had gotten her way.

"Stubborn," Jareth mused as he continued after her.

This was one challenge that he could not turn from. However, there was no selfishness in his actions, he merely wanted to speak to her, to calm her anger and perhaps right what was wrong. He could mend the damage, he could heal her heart, could turn back the clocks, but would have to see her first, and be given the chance to do all these things.

She was tricky, and it surprised him to see that she had lost him entirely in the winding, passages of this confusing network of hallways. It was much like the labyrinth, but entirely enclosed in the confines of the gray stone castle walls. She had bested him twice, and in his own castle, in his kingdom, again and again proving that she was superior.

Jareth stopped, and gazed up at the high ceiling. He leaned against the wall, allowing the reality of what was happening to wash over him. The realization of what was at stake struck him like a knife in the chest, and hurt nearly as much, yet death would not be the outcome, only heartbreak.

"My dear Sarah," Jareth stated, producing a crystal with an exaggerated movement of his hand.

He gazed in contempt at the harsh black, leather gloves. They were a part of the past, part of him that he had wished would remain in the confines of his mind, and not try to break through. Yet, he had allowed it and so would face the consequences that were currently forced upon him.

"You will hate me for this, but know that I have no choice," he stated with a depressing sigh.

He watched the crystal's opaque body swirl and fill with wondrous pale blue light, much the same color as his sapphire eye. It swirled like a fog, a magical power so intense that it hurt to stare at it. However, he would take the pain, for he needed to see where his love had hidden.

Slowly the color faded, as did the soft fog, to reveal her, Sarah, laying on a bed in one of the hundreds of rooms that lined the countless hallways. She was sobbing, and this was evident through the way her back hitched with each and every breath she struggled to draw in. Jareth stroked the crystal, directly over her shuddering body in an attempt to calm her tears.

The young girl jerked, just slightly and then glanced about. She searched the room for any unknown presence. It was almost as if...

* * * * * * *

....she had felt something, or sensed something was probably more accurate. It was as if there was a presence in the room, one that sent chills of emotions through her already overwhelmed body. She sat up and swiped the new tears that brimmed over her eyes and lined her darkened lashes with fine beads of salty liquid. She hugged herself tightly and continued to scan the room for signs of him.

Sarah had believed that he would not come, that he would leave her be for a short time, however she was beginning to doubt herself. She knew that he was watching her, from where she had no clue. Yet, there was no possibility that she had simply imagined that hand that caressed her back so tenderly.

Sarah almost wanted him to show himself. She yearned to have him hold her in his arms and tell her that things would be okay soon and that they could return to their old life eventually. However, she doubted that he would do anything like that, for that was not the way Jareth worked.

"If you insist on watching me you might as well come here, Jareth!" Sarah demanded, forcing her voice to not shake as she called.

There was no answer, but she had not really expected one. He had probably decided to just watch her for a few moments and then dispose of the crystal. Sarah swallowed fresh tears, and then laid on her back, gazing up at the intricate stained glass that made up the ceiling for this room. It cast lovely lights and rainbows all over the walls and floor, making her feel as if she was in some wonderful magical, entirely fantastic realm, devoid of pain, tears, and anger.

"And Goblin Kings," Sarah stated.

She focused her thoughts on the glass, and the lovely patterns the reflection made all around her. She did not want to dwell on this horrid day, that had started wonderful. She did not want to even think about that MAN who had toyed with her every feelings, her very soul!

As she rested, she felt her eyes grow heavy, and ache from the onslaught of tears that she had faced over the coarse of a few minutes. It truly had not been that long since she had rushed from the room, slamming the door on Jareth and her love. She was exhausted already, even after the refreshing sleep, and could feel herself begin to drift off into sweet, calming oblivion.

The pains faded, and the hurt fell from her like a second skin being shed. She could even feel her heart piece itself back together, picking itself up to go on with life. Everything would heal with time. That was something that she would have to think about when she felt the pain return upon awakening.

"Sarah," a soft velveteen voice suddenly stated from right beside her.

She jumped up, instantly awake and frightened. Sarah clamped a hand over her mouth to keep the scream from bursting out and allowing Jareth the knowledge that he had frightened her. However, as her wide doe-like eyes flitted nervously around she noticed.....

* * * * * * *

....he had chosen to hide his appearance for awhile, until sure that she would not turn violent as the anger returned and pushed aside the grief. Jareth watched as she glanced about her, sometime gazing right through him, as if she knew that he was there. Then she would look away, and he knew that the spell was still working perfectly.

"Jareth?" Sarah asked carefully, still not sure if this was a dream or reality.

Jareth stepped closer and swept his hand through her chestnut tresses. It was as if they drifted in a breeze that was not there, and were so amazingly highlighted with a million colors from the glass overhead.

Sarah snapped about and swatted at him, only barely missing his quickly withdrawn hand. Now she was frightened, something that he had not intended to happen. He stepped away from her shivering figure, yearning to hold her and comfort her, but also aware that that would only succeed in making matter worse. He would have to hold himself back, at least for the time being.

"Damn you!" she whispered, in a soft deadly voice, filled with venom directed towards him.

Jareth could not help but smile at her anger, she changed so much and lost that innocence that he had seen inside of her so often. She was like a child still in many ways, holding on to fairy tales, and standing away from her peers. However, all that was what drew him to her, her different qualities that were so special for someone over the age of childhood.

"Sarah, please, do not leave again," he begged.

Sarah swallowed, her anger transformed to wonder, for she had yet to see where the king was hidden. She did not know what to say, especially to someone who obviously was invisible. It was a strange sensation. Sarah stuck her chin stubbornly in the air and then crossed her arms over her chest.

"Show yourself, Jareth!" she demanded.

He allowed himself a deep breath and then dropped the spell that had covered him in a shield of transparency. He was drawn into view, first appearing in a vague outline, and then shadows and finally breaking through in full color and awe-striking glory. Sarah drew in a breath, knowing that she could not let him see the affect his handsome figure had upon her.

She rose to her feet and stared into his overwhelming eyes. They were so amazing, so enticing and dancing with fire and lightening, life and death. They were blank from some deep loss, but filled with ages of wisdom. They wanted her to return, but hated her for her anger. She could almost see straight into Jareth's soul through his eyes. Sarah found herself weakening, and being drawn into their depths, yet she stood straight and tall against his powers and magnetic aura of magic.

"Your highness," Sarah responded curtly with a slight curtsy.

Jareth's pride was blown out with that obvious show of anger that she bestowed upon him, so quickly. She strolled over to the bed and sat down, but never removed her gaze from his, and never once even dared to drop her eyes. He felt a strange power around her, one that he had missed before, but would be careful with now.

"Sarah, please, let us not start this so horridly," Jareth pleaded, approaching her with a slightly hopeful smile.

Sarah scoffed and cocked her head. It was strange just how much the roles had been reversed. She had all the power now. For if she truly wanted to leave, he would then have no choice but to send her home. He was hopeful that her memories had not been entirely returned, but only enough to tell her about their true past.

"Me, start horridly? At least I attempt to be truthful, Jareth. You based an entire relationship on a lie. You used me. When did you plan on telling me, huh? After we had married, when I had bore you an heir, maybe never? Well?" she asked.

Her eyes were a little too shiny, and he knew that more tears were just waiting to show themselves. In fact, she was holding back only with sheer willpower. It was going to be a close battle, but Sarah had more strength than Jareth had ever imagined, and he was fairly sure that she would hold them at bay until the conversations was entirely done with.

He tried to interject and explain his reasons. However, there was no way to tell her. He had been awful, from the very beginning. In fact, he had originally planned to have his revenge upon her, but could not go through with it when his love had begun to blossom.

"I did not lie to you, Sarah. I never told you where you came from. I...," he was suddenly cut off with a gasp from her.

"Never lied!! When did you tell me that you had taken my brother? When did you tell me about the Hell I was forced to go through to manage to get him back?" she asked, her lips had begun to quiver, and Jareth was starting to doubt that she would be able to hold out for much longer.

He stuttered for a few moments before gathering his thoughts together. He had to be careful and proceed with ease. She was ready to snap out upon anything that happened to strike her the wrong way.

"I said that you and I had met once before and that it was a time that changed your life. As memory serves, you never once asked if I had stolen your brother," Jareth stated, his voice had taken a turn to the icy side.

Sarah threw her hands up in defeat and offered him a shaking smile. It was pointless to even try to argue, because he did not understand what she was trying to say. He had hidden the truth, maybe not with lies, but certainly with silence, and that was just as bad. He had still her hurt her, had still used her, and there was no way he could change that.

"Sarah, do you truly remember anything I did, save take the baby you wished away to me? Do you know what I did and did not do?" Jareth asked, very careful to not incite her anger anymore.

Sarah paused and thought about it for a few moments. It was true. She did not know what he had done, or if he had made it difficult to reclaim her brother. She had remembered very little, only that short flashback, and had based her whole anger on that. How did she knew that Jareth had caused her pain?

However, she would not say a thing about it. Perhaps it would be best to simply ignore the question. Sarah turned to him once again, acting as if her self-doubt had been a figment of her imagination.

"It is pointless to try to explain anything to you! I've had it! You steal babies, turn them into goblins, and terrify the poor children who had accidentally wished them away, not really knowing what was going to happen. How can I live with you, knowing what you did...actually, what you do?" she inquired, frustration still embedded in her every phrase and word.

Sarah turned her back on him and crossed her arms over her chest, just waiting for Jareth to take a hint and finally leave her alone. Her emotions were all running too high, and at any moment she was sure that she could lose what little control she still had over herself. He needed to leave, and allow her time to gather her thoughts and reclaim the precarious control of her life that she was fighting to regain.

She actually sensed him nearer, before she even heard the sound of his silken shirt rustling against his arm. His hand touched her shoulder and the strange tingling, but entirely wonderful, intoxicating feel of magic surrounded her. Sarah felt her legs grow weak, but she would not tell him, and certainly would not turn to look at him.

"If you would allow me, I could change everything, start over and mend all that I have broken," he whispered, oh, so close to her ear.

She closed her eyes and simply adored the breath that washed over her neck. Sarah snapped herself out of the trance he had put her in and spun around, shaking his warm, caring hand from her shoulder in the process. She glared at him, and his seductive ways he attempted to control her emotions. She would not give in so easy.

"I want to leave, send me home!" she demanded, although it did not sound as powerful and insistent as she had wanted.

"I cannot do that, and you should know already that I can't. Sarah, do you even remember a place other than the Underground?" Jareth inquired, edging ever closer to her.

Sarah took a step back, away from his alluring presence. She did not want to give into these feelings of lust, for they were not true love. She didn't know whether she still held the same love, the same need to be with Jareth forever. As she had thought before, she knew very little now, and questioned everything. She could not base a life on so many questions.

"I saw another home, another world in my memory, and I want you to send me there," Sarah stated, although she was beginning to doubt that that place had been her home. Maybe she had been mistaken.

Jareth could sense her uncertainty and moved ever closer. All the while Sarah continued to back away, so that they remained at the same average distance from each other. She hit the bed and edged to the side, even while Jareth moved in, so close, only a few feet, inches, right in front of her and still gazing into her eyes.

"I will not send you away without a memory. I cannot do that. You would be alone, helpless, hopeless..."

This broke the strange spell that had overwhelmed her since then. Sarah stopped moving and stomped towards him. Her jaw was set and teeth clenched in anger towards what he believed he knew about her.

"You will never understand what I go through without a memory, a past, anything. You just take advantage of my problems for your own selfish needs. If you could even begin to comprehend the...," Jareth rushed up to her and grasped her face firmly in his hands.

"I Understand everything! Don't be so quick to judge me, Sarah! When you left the Underground I was destroyed and my past faded to nothing! I know the pain, anger, and suicide wishes that accompany it. Don't you dare claim that I am a bystander in this... this disease!" he demanded, his voice booming through the room.

Jareth dropped his hands from her face and turned, his shoulders slumped and his head lowered in defeat. He looked much older than she had ever thought him to be. He seemed to have aged hundreds of years in the matter of those few moments of finally allowing her to know the truth.

Sarah stopped, for she did not know what to say, what to do, or even when to make a single move. She instead sat on the bed that she had still been pushed up against. This changed everything. Sarah cleared her throat in an attempt to regain his attention, but he was not ready to speak again.

"I'm sorry, Jareth. I'm sorry about what I did, about problems I might have caused, pain, hardship, everything. However, I think I deserve something for everything you did to me. I am in this relationship too, and I deserve to be treated as an equal and not manipulated. You don't understand, but maybe you do. I feel so alone and lost, with only you to help me through it. When I discovered the truth I felt as if I was like...like... a single white rose in the mass of chaos," Sarah immediately stopped her words and clamped her hands over her mouth.

Jareth turned, yet the weakened state he had succumbed to had promptly vanished as she had spoken that final horrid sentence. She had admitted going to the garden with the mention of the rose, and now knew that Jareth would not take her disobedience lightly. His eyes lit with anger, perhaps from the fight, but mostly due to the fact that she had deliberately stole away into the garden when he had told her to stay away from it.

"Sarah, you have made the worst mistake of your life."

Chapter Twenty-Two

The man who had spoken so tenderly, so caring towards her had suddenly disappeared to reveal someone who was filled with anger. Sarah backed away from him once again as he approached her.

"This is silly, Sarah. What do you think he's going to do, kill you?" she asked herself.

Yet, the feral appearance that had stolen over his face terrified her beyond the point of rational thinking. There was no expression in his eyes, but instead they seemed dead, closed to the world and to her. Jareth was no longer there, at least not the one that she had fallen in love with. However, in some dark and foggy recesses of her mind, she could remember this man, and saw him with eyes that were three years younger.

Sarah rushed to the side as Jareth continued pacing ever so slowly towards her. He did not make a move as she lunged for the door and grappled with the knob, that had suddenly become locked securely. He smiled inwardly at her predicament, but would not allow the emotional display to touch his stone cold features.

Sarah turned to face him and bit her lip, trying desperately to think of something to do, or maybe just bring Jareth back to his senses. He was letting his anger control his actions, and not trying to talk to her, to ask just why she had chosen to enter the garden when he had been so vehemently against it.

An idea flashed into Sarah's rapidly moving mind. She straightened herself, defiant against this man whom she still loved, despite her better judgment. However, she had to bring him back from the storm of anger he had lost himself within.

"Jareth, why are you doing this?" she demanded, her voice remaining perfectly flat and strong.

Jareth hesitated for a moment, thinking about an answer for her question. However, there was not a single thing he could bring to mind, other than her going into the garden. What was he trying to do? Did he want to frighten her, or scare her away from his life when he had only just fought to make her understand that he needed her so very much?

He shook the horrid overwhelming anger from his mind and released the spell that had held the door closed. There was no point in keeping his love a prisoner in this room when she deserved to be free. He staggered backwards and rested against the bed frame, still gazing at her but with eyes that held life instead of death.

Sarah did not waste a moment of thought about what she should do. Instead, she acted entirely upon instinct and then flung the massive door open and barged through. She did not care that he had changed, and that he no longer wanted to chase after her, trying to scare her witless. She needed to be away from him, far, far away.

The hallway seemed to turn into some deathly silent tomb. The slamming door behind her made a slight clanging sound, but nothing that managed to break the ominous atmosphere that had taken over the entire castle. Sarah glanced around, trying desperately to gather her bearings and find the direction in which she needed to travel to find an exit from this frightening castle.

She rushed down one hallway, going blindly onward into a future that she did not know. Even the sound of her feet clapping against the stone floor sounded hollow, and for some strange reason they did not echo through the empty chamber. It was as if the castle had been moved out of reality and the many rules that nature usually applies to.

"Come on, Sarah," she coaxed as she turned down yet another confusing passageway.

She did not know where she was going, and did not know where she would end up. However, as she saw the approaching dead end and the door that stood in the middle of the solid wall, she could only think that fate had been working with her as she made her blind panicked run through the hallways.

She knew what it was that stood before her, and also knew that this would only anger Jareth to a greater level. However, she had no choice. Sarah was not sure what he was doing now, or whether or not he had managed to get control over the anger that had taken power over his every actions. She could not take the chance, and so knew that this doorway was her only hope.

Sarah rushed forward, still hating the way her feet slapped against the floor. She needed to be outside, for even now she felt as if she was choking in this castle, as if hands had secured themselves around her throat.

"Sarah!" she heard Jareth's voice call to her from nearby.

The sound sent shivers all up and down her spine and offered the last little bit of encouragement that she needed to convince her to take this way of escape from the castle. She needed to be away, and do so quickly before he could manage to find her and keep her in here for all time.

Sarah flung the door open, but took great care to not let it slam, for she did not want to grant Jareth with any clue as to where she was going. She pulled it shut gently, not a sound coming from the door as it found its home in its frame. She then backed away into the light of the afternoon sun.

Sarah spun around and gazed over at the garden that now laid before her. She had no intention of going over to it, and angering Jareth more. All she wished to do was escape, into the Underground, back to her home, anywhere except here.

She turned to run to the main gates before the castle, the only way she would find a way into the goblin city. Yet, even as she turned her back on the enticing and interesting garden she felt it calling to her, as it had done before when she first dared to enter into the forbidden boundaries.

"Sarah, your dreams. Come, my dear," it called with a voice that was so gentle, delicate and friendly.

She could not turn away from it. Something about the garden made her feel drawn to it, even when she knew that she did not have enough time to dwell upon its lovely appearance. She simply needed to see it one last time, and glance at the lovely white rose that rested eternally within the overgrown vines and choking outgrowth of hateful weeds, wild and unruly.

As she walked towards it, a strange music filled her senses. It was not a sound heard simply with ears, but instead felt with everything. She could taste the sweet melody as if it were some rich chocolate. Sarah saw the notes dancing through the sky, like fairies with amazing glittering gowns that shone in the sunlight. It covered her and pulled her towards the garden, urging her to rush, for time was short and Sarah knew that all too well.

"Yes, I'm coming," Sarah responded as if she was in some sort of a trance, or under a spell.

She paused in the midst of the garden and looked around, taking in the sweet scents of all of the flowers as they drifted about her. She twirled around, dancing amidst this amazing splendor that was a dilapidated and overgrown garden. There was something in this garden that was special, and Sarah realizing that she could not leave without finally receiving what she knew was hidden here, just for her and her alone.

"Come Sarah, come speak with me. I am so lonely and I have your dreams," the sweet little voice called to her.

Sarah spun around, trying to find where the voice had come from. She could not see anyone, not even the shadow that had come to her several times before. This time it was only a tender melodious voice that called to her. Sarah listened to it attentively, waiting to understand what it wanted from her.

"Please, tell me what I need to do to receive my dreams," Sarah begged, still trying to find something at which to speak.

There was a tender tittering that covered her for a brief moment, as the being obviously found something funny, but Sarah was clueless as to what it was exactly. Then the laughter stopped and she was left in silence once again. Sarah feared that she was not going to be granted with the dreams after all of this, and that this had all been some horrid joke.

Sarah felt warm tears brim in her wide chestnut eyes and slowly trickle down her cheeks, leaving wet trails behind them. She had faced so much disappointment, and after long last she had finally believed that maybe she would be granted with something wonderful, something that she had wished would return. Alas, her memories were not kept in this overgrown garden that had fallen prey to invading weeds. They were within her, hidden, but there.

She turned to leave, but a shimmer of gold caught her eye and she twirled back about to see what had shone so dramatically. It was a golden heart pendant, strung over the quaint little well, perhaps it had been there forever, or perhaps not, but it certainly was there now and she was not going to take it for granted. After all, it could very well be the magic that would return her memories to her awaiting mind.

"Come along, Sarah, there is not much time now. Jareth draws close," the voice whispered as if the King was right there the whole time, just waiting for the proper moment to strike.

Sarah took in a deep breath, calming her quickly racing nerves and giving her a few short moments to think things through. Did she really want to take something from a voice that obviously had no body and had never really told her who, or what, it was? Or did she wish to remain here for all time without a past and with a king who had begun frightening her more than he had originally loved her?

The answer was simple, for Sarah knew that she could not live her life without a past, without memories, parents a home. She had to take the chance, no matter what might happen. She threw aside all other worries with a simple toss of her hair and then rushed forward to claim the golden trinket as her own.

"Put it on, dear, hurry. Oh, you must hurry!" the strange voice had begun to sound panicked with the passing of time.

Sarah struggled with the clasp for a bit, her hands shaking due to the stress under which she was currently working. She tried desperately to open the simple little hinge again and again, but each time the golden clasp would tumble from her fingers a moment too soon, and prevented her from finishing the somewhat simple task.

"Damn!" Sarah muttered under her breath as she fought with the seemingly innocent necklace, that was causing as much anger as she had felt towards Jareth.

The clasp flipped open, but she only succeeded in dropping the entire necklace on to the ground, amidst the dirt and vast overgrown plants. Sarah moaned as she dropped to her knees, not minding the dirt that had found its way on to the dress that she wore. Her only thoughts were focused upon the necklace that was currently lost and was more valuable than anything else in the world, and the Underground.

The sun's rays glinted off the finely polished surface of the golden heart and reflected in her relieved eyes. She grabbed it back up and held it tightly in her shaking hands. How she would manage to put the necklace on was beyond her comprehension, what with her shivering hands and near hysterical state. However she knew that she had to try.

Sarah could now hear a sound, and it was doubtful that it was Jareth, but nonetheless it urged her to speed with her attempts with the necklace. She wrapped it around her thin neck and once again was faced with the disagreeable clasp on the horridly delicate chain.

"Why is nothing ever easy?" she demanded through clenched teeth as the hook missed again and again. It was nearly pointless to try. She knew that there was no way in the whole of the Underground, and any other worlds that might exist, that she could ever, given her current state, snap the necklace back together without some semblance of help. Sarah truly doubted that anyone was willing, or able, to help her at that point in time, for it would incite Jareth's rage.

"Calm down, Sarah. Easy with your hands and allow the necklace to show you how it all works. It's going to be all right," a calming motherly tone broke through the confusion that had taken up residence in her twisting and turning mind, much like a labyrinth.

Sarah turned her gaze over to the white rose that shimmered with such a lovely magic. It was delicate and pure, and certainly did not belong here any more that she did. However, perhaps it had found something about this place that was too wonderful to give up, as had Sarah. She had found Jareth, and there was no way that she could hate him forever, no matter what she tried to tell herself about what he did and did not do to her three long years ago.

However, just as she was about to remove the necklace and forget all these crazy ideas about escape and a stupid charm that could perhaps bring back her memory, it clasped shut. The necklace simply secured itself, without any help from her clumsy hands.

Her eyes opened wide as the scene before her turned into some strange multi-colored swirl of unknown shapes and shading. She gazed at the strange chaotic scene of hues and highlights, arrays of colors that she had never known to exist in the natural world. However, they were there, dancing before her eyes.

Through the strange network of colors stepped a dark shape, highlighted with rainbows and golden lights. Even this one human form seemed fuzzy as Sarah felt reality slipping away. The necklace almost seemed to tighten, perhaps to kill her. It seemed ironic that something she had placed so much hope in would lead to her death in the long run. She would have laughed, had she been capable.

The woman before her reached out with one colorful hand and stroked Sarah's hair back from her pale, sweaty face. Then she stepped away and fell from view, just as the entire world turned black and Sarah felt her entire being slip away. Then she was entirely gone, into a rest that really was not sleep, but instead a trance, a coma almost.

So she fell, fell deeper and deeper into the oblivion that she had been fighting against since she had found herself lacking any and all memories. She was helpless, like an innocent animal facing the onslaught of a hunter's gun as they found themselves paralyzed with fright. She fell to the ground in a crumpled heap at the feet of a strange and powerful being.

* * * * * * * *

Jareth paused before the infamous door leading to the garden. He knew, deep in his heart that she was out there, and that something bad had already happened. Once again, he was the cause of it. He had not held his temper when the knowledge of what she had actually done was presented to him. He did not want anything to happen, but now knew that he was too late.

The door had been closed, and there were no signs showing that she had actually taken this route of escape. However he knew the calling of the garden all to well, and was aware of the hold that it had had over his love, Sarah. She had succumbed to the calls, the tantalizing voice filled with promises that would only lead to demise, and horrid destruction. There was no happiness, only death.

He allowed himself a single hopeful thought, that perhaps Sarah had been intent on running and had ignored the calls. With that fresh in his mind he flung the door open, not allowing himself a moment's hesitation. For that would be to admit that he truly did fear that she was already hurt, harmed, or perhaps even dead in this corrupted garden.

His magical eyes that danced with fear opened wide, as the sight that laid before him struck his very soul. He felt as if he had been torn apart, everything damaged, leaving him a shell, and nothing more. His breath caught and struggled forth again and again. His heart fluttered within his chest, making his head swim nausiously. Jareth staggered forward a few steps before toppling backwards against the castle wall.

"No, no it cannot be!" he demanded.

Jareth forced himself from the wall, though his legs felt as if they could give out at any moment. He struggled forward, swaying from side to side like a drunkard, barely able to keep his balance as the world swirled in strange shapes and movements, swaying and jumping in and out of focus.

He instead ordered himself to gather his wits, to go to the fallen heap that laid upon the ground. He saw the chestnut hair glittering in the golden sunshine, and the lovely angelic face turned towards the sky, as if gazing up at clouds that drifted by, riding the breeze.

"Sarah," Jareth moaned as he fell to the ground beside her.

She did not move, and did not register his presence there beside her with the slightest sound, other than her rhythmic breathing. He placed a shaking hand on her silken cheek and tenderly stroked her delicate face. Her eyes seemed to twitch, for just a brief time, but then all was still once again and she remained in her deep, unknown slumber.

He could feel all emotions that had been kept behind his mask for so long, too long, fight to break free and make their presence known with an onslaught of tears. However, he could not show such weakness, even at a time when such things were thought of as acceptable. He was not one to cry, and so could say truthfully that he had shed but one tear when life itself seemed to swallow him whole and leave him in the uncaring darkness.

Jareth touched her full lips with his soft hands, caresses of magic across her pale skin. Yet, once again his tricks, his crystals, they would do nothing to help his love, the only thing that mattered anymore in this life. His past was gone and now, his future had slipped through his hands with a few words.

"Jareth, King of the Goblins, and mighty ruler for centuries, I never thought I would see you again after such a very long time," a harsh voice stated from behind him.

Jareth, very slowly removed his hand from Sarah's sleeping face and turned to see the `creature' that had stolen his love's life away with a sinister form of trickery. His anger boiled uncontrollably, but he knew, for once, that he could not allow it to get the better of him, for this powerful sorceress held their lives in her hands.

She stood proud and mighty before him, hair of the purest silvery metallic color. It rushed like an intoxicating liquid through the warm breeze that had only just begun a moment earlier. Her eyes were those of a cat, brilliant green with only a black slit serving as a pupil. They were grandly arched, and made her entire face seem exotic. Her lips were pulled back into a grin, almost predatory in its usage. She was tall and thin, and entirely beautiful, overwhelmingly so, and as Jareth gazed at her his past fell into him and a name burst forth from his set lips.

"Cyria."

Then the garden exploded into a sea of fire, engulfing the prison that had held her captive for so very long. All burnt, save one white rose that had disappeared from the mass of vines and weeds, to live once again in the Underground.

Chapter Twenty-Three

He laid her fragile, slender body atop the plush bed. It cradled her frame, making her seem so much more breakable, and weak. Jareth was forced to turn his gaze away from her, for it pained him too much to see his love in this horrid condition. Jareth simply stroked her silken hair and stared off through the window.

The night had fallen some time ago, leaving the whole of the room bathed in serene moonlight and the flickering orange from a nearby lamp that rested on the stand beside the bed. The strange reflections of fire cast across Sarah's drawn and paled face, making her seem eerie and unreal. The mysterious illusion sent a chill down his spine and he quickly blew out the dancing fire.

"Sarah, I have caused this all. You must go home, if.... when you awaken," Jareth corrected himself with a slight hitch in his voice.

She did not move, nor did her rhythmic breathing alter in any way. Of course, she had not done anything since he had first found her in the garden, passed out by that creature who had lured her there with false promises. Jareth clenched his teeth to rid himself of the anger that rolled about inside of his mind and soul, threatening to come forth through his speech.

He brushed a gentle hand across her face and then rose from the side of the bed. She did not need him by her side at every passing moment. She simply needed rest, nothing more. Perhaps, Cyria would take pity on him and his saddened shape, and raise Sarah from this enchanted slumber.

"Goodnight, fair maiden," he whispered tenderly and then quickly turned from her sleeping form.

He paused momentarily at the door, truly debating what to do and how he was to do it. He knew that Cyria was the only one who could possibly reverse this horrid incantation. Jareth let out an exasperated breath and threw the door open, shutting it closed with great silence and ease behind himself, though there was not much of a chance of it wakening her, considering the magic that was involved.

He just felt so entirely weak and useless after everything that had happened recently. There were more and more things that he simply could not control. Time itself had begun to turn its back on him. He could feel his many years catching up to him, and finally show the truth behind his youthful countenance. Magic was wearing thin, and even the Underground was against him. It hurt to think that his kingdom no longer wanted him as a ruler, but instead needed someone, anyone, else.

"It is time to leave," Jareth stated.

It was true, for it was not possible to put off the inevitable any longer. He was a hallowed shell when compared to the vibrant young ruler who had taken this kingdom as his own. Life was growing short, and there was no reason to remain in a land where he was not wanted, not needed, and entirely useless.

"Where are you going, old King?" a sweet feminine voice questioned from the throne room.

Jareth paused, the sound of her syrupy voice causing a thrill of anger through his entire soul. It grated against his every inch of humanity inside of him. Jareth turned to face the lovely, ethereal woman and managed a somewhat sarcastic smile. Yet, the image of her, not aged and more powerful than ever, upon his throne, inflicted even more pain on his bruised and battered ego.

"I believe, milady, that you are by far my elder," Jareth replied and then turned to leave, a truer smile now resting on his thin lips.

However, her tittering laughter followed him, and drilled into his very skull attacking the aching pain that had embedded itself some time ago. She did it all for spite, every last promise, to forcing Sarah into the comatose state, had been revenge... revenge!!

Revenge could be such a sweet treat to be granted with. That is, if, you were not the one that it had been inflicted upon. To imagine, that Cyria had performed it all for what he had done hundreds of years earlier, and had involved Sarah, pure and innocent Sarah! His blood boiled with uncontrolled rage that yearned to burst forth and attack this she-devil that now reclined in HIS throne!

"My dear Cyria, I believe that after all that time in the garden you have lost what bit of reasonable thinking that had remained in your head after being pushed to the brink of insanity," Jareth retorted, not one to back down from any sort or form of contest that was presented to him.

She promptly shut her mouth and glared at Jareth. Cyria's lovely cat eyes narrowed and almost bored into his soul, as if clutching for something there that laid hidden for the rest of the world to miss. However, she soon turned from him, to gaze out at the Underground, and the lovely night that had taken shape.

"Surely it was never so beautiful. I have noticed your precious Labyrinth is no longer with us. Perhaps that horrid amnesia had something to do with it disappearing so very strangely," Cyria's emerald eyes flitted over to him for a brief moment and then turned to look at the tranquil scenery.

Jareth allowed the taunts to bounce off of his protective mask, his emotionless barrier against all pain, and harmful words that she might direct towards him. He could only accept that his time had come and gone as ruler over the Underground, for it had chosen a new Queen, who was also the old Queen.

His gaze trailed towards the hallway, worry seeping in. He knew that it was a stupid thing to do, especially when facing this witch who was determined to attack him at the point where he was most vulnerable. Yet, Jareth could not help but worry, for his love would not be extinguished, no matter what difficult obstacles might be placed in his path along the way.

"The girl, is that who you are thinking about now, Jareth? She has touched your heart, and soul, even your mind and every thought are encompassed by her image. What is it that holds you under her spell?" Cyria questioned, the game of wits had stopped, at least momentarily.

Despite the anger he held towards this woman, Jareth did not snap at her question. It was true enough, holding no hidden meanings. Yet, there was no way to explain his attraction to Sarah, and so he would not even attempt to put his feelings into menial words, that would only cheapen the entire experience.

"It does not concern you, Cyria," he answered, solemnly.

"Everything concerns me! You forget, Jareth, that I am Queen and you are nothing as of tonight. I reclaim this kingdom of the Underground and shall hereby dismiss you from residence in the castle. Unless...," she paused, dwelling upon the many different possibilities of what might be done.

Jareth stood there, keeping what little pride he had left. Yet, the majority of his thoughts remained upon Sarah, and how she was at that precise moment. He had not been in there to check on her for some time and, what with Cyria returned, Sarah could very well be in some form of danger as he talked with this enchantress.

"You might be king again, someday Jareth, should you choose to finally reconsider my original, generous offer," Cyria stated, twisting a lovely crystal in her hand.

Jareth merely scoffed at her `offer'. It was nothing, nothing that he would consider for even the briefest amount of time. Cyria believed that she was in control of everything, and aware of all thoughts that circled through his twisting mind. However, she knew little, and controlled even less. It had taken a long time for him to truly understand just how much one doesn't control, and that nearly everything shall one day control you.

The Underground had once been a kingdom he had believed that he had controlled, ruled at the very least. Yet, now he understood that never had he ever governed the land, instead it decided his every move, moment by moment, for the three hundred some years he `ruled.' Now, this fickle land was another poor fool's problem. He was free, free of pestering goblins, countless problems, and the hassle of gathering unwanted babies from frightened young children.

"Generous offer? Cyria you must have lost your pretty little head. I would accept nothing from you. Do you not understand what you have done?" Jareth demanded, his eyes flashed with their usual fire and ice, each portraying his anger through different highlights of spectacular colors.

Cyria rose from the throne, her cheeks covered in a dark flush. Her green cat eyes narrowed even more as her anger fumed over the edges. The Queen paced the room, trying to sputter out some form of a reply that would cut him down to silence, and truly hurt Jareth for all that he had ever done to her.

"That human girl? Is that what has you upset? I offered her what she wanted most, her past. You were selfish, as you have been since I first welcomed you into this castle. But, you are weak now, and I can see through that false front of power and domineering glory. You are nothing now, but a lovesick fool," Cyria spat out each word and then glared at him, waiting to see if they had struck him as she had hoped they would do.

Jareth turned on her and advanced forward, forgetting his original decision to refrain from showing his anger. However, Cyria had gone too far into emotions that she did not understand. Jareth ground his teeth as he circled the lovely sorceress, who watched this display with mild amusement.

He paused, trying to bring some form of anything to his mouth, but his voice evaded him. He was beyond conversing with this devil. Jareth shook his head, much the same as Sarah had done when she had first learned about his old past which had come back to haunt them.

"You know nothing of love, Cyria," Jareth's voice was icy and harsh.

He turned, truly meaning to leave this time and ignore all other curses that would be uttered from her deadly lips. Yet, she was silent, perhaps unable to respond, or angered to a point where she wished to be left, to dwell upon all the pain that had been inflicted on both Jareth and herself. No matter, Jareth considered this a victory, for he had ended it with that simple phrase, which was nothing but the truth.

With a flash of intense red light she was before him, her arms crossed and her cat eyes glaring with anger that raged like a wildfire. Cyria breathed deeply, with each advancing step, closer and closer to the Goblin King. She reached out one delicate hand and pointed at Jareth, her finger quivering only slightly.

"I know everything about love. I offered my love countless times, but was rejected again and again. The weak emotion sent me to that cursed prison. So, my dear Jareth, I believe that I have a right to hate it, and leave that emotion to rot in the pits of Hell, far away from me and my heart!" She yelled, her voice reverberating off the walls.

"You offered nothing but slavery, Cyria. Your love was not true, and so could not be accepted by anyone with a half a mind. I shall never be your slave, as I said those many years ago," he retorted, knocking her hand from its position before him.

He pushed past her and walked, leaving her anger behind him. Perhaps fighting with her had not been a good idea, but it had been the only thing to do when she attacked so readily. Jareth tried to calm his temper, and even managed to refrain from kicking the few menial creatures that wandered into his path as he hurried to Sarah's room. There was no need to let the hatred grow. He would be stronger than Cyria and not allow her lowly taunts to seep inside, where they would only fester and damage his very being, perhaps eternally.

Yet, he pitied her, so deeply that it shook him to the very core of himself. He fully understood her anger towards him, for Jareth had defied her, had treated her as the enemy and not even given her the slightest chance to change. Instead he had attacked, once in the castle and gained control over her emotions. Then had gained power, and she had been cast away by the Underground itself, to remain for eternity within a rose. Oh, yes, it was so familiar.

"Much the same as Sarah and myself," he thought for a brief moment.

There could never be a love between himself and Cyria, and she knew that, finally after being imprisoned for so many countless years. However, he could not help but remember all that had happened, as he leaned against the hard stone wall of one of the twisting, confusing hallways.

Chapter Twenty-Four, part 1

Memories that had since then been lost in a bleak nothingness, came quickly to Jareth's awaiting mind. It was his past, his youth, when he had been full of energy and plans, not the hollow man that now leaned against a wall in a castle that had been stolen right from underneath him. No, he had been but twenty then, so very young, inexperienced, and hopelessly overwhelmed with the attention he was paid by females.

* * He had first seen the recluse queen gazing from her window on a calm autumn afternoon.

Of course, curiosity had been running wild through his system since the strange stories began circulating about the Queen of the tower, as they called her. It had been said that she remained in the tower all day and into the night, looking out on her kingdom. Should her gaze fall upon a hapless wanderer, that person would vanish from existence.

"I cannot understand these rumors. They have no proof, nor do they have a semblance of truth hidden deep within," Jareth replied haughtily, leaning against the stable wall and gazing off into nothing.

He was a young man, nearing his twentieth year and the future marriage that would accompany that turning of age. This somewhat dampened his pleasant, if not mischievous, personality but only when he allowed himself to dwell upon it. His hair was golden and shone with a life of it's own, riding a faint autumn wind. He was tall, slender and truly noble in every aspect of his being. Yet, his eyes, one a crystal blue, the other deepest chestnut, were his most striking and alluring quality. They could very easily hold another captive in a spell filled with seduction and enticing possibilities. However, as he allowed his gaze to stare through the wall, and into his dull future, he seemed like a daydreamer, nothing more.

The young stablehand offered Jareth a strange worried grin and hurriedly packed his remaining brooms away, at least for the time being. The morning cleaning was nearly finished, and the entire day was left for recreation. However, Jareth moved from his position against the wall and blocked the hired help.

"Have you ever seen the queen?" Jareth inquired, his strange mismatched eyes lit with overwhelming lights that danced as if the very magic the queen possessed coursed in Jareth's system as well.

The stable hand simply smiled once again, avoiding the entire turn this conversation had taken. He did not want to be drawn into Jareth's games. The young nobleman always was ready to do something, go on some great quest, and catch young girls by surprise with his dashing smile. However, this time, the servant would leave while there was still time to do so.

"My lord, I'm afraid I know little about this. Perhaps, you should direct these questions toward someone of greater knowledge when the Goblin Queen is involved. Now, if I may pass...," the young man skirted past Jareth, trailing his bunch of brooms behind him.

Jareth watched the man go and then turned to look at the stable. It was his home away from home, with the only creature in the Underground that understood his desire for something different. However, his life had been planned before his birth, from whom he would marry, to where he would live and what he would do for the rest of his short, boring existence.

Yet, then there were the wondrous, magical tales of an immortal queen who reined over thousands of subjects and controlled the mysterious and ancient underground magic. Her life would be filled with adventures upon adventures. Well, at least it would be a break from the monotonous existence in which he was currently stuck.

So, with that thought fresh in his mind, he had saddled his young steed and ridden off from the town. He had dared to enter into the wild Underground forest, where countless stories of terror found their roots. It was said that children would turn into hideous gruesome beasts, upon entering into the realm of the Goblin Queen. Yet, they were stories, nothing more than something used to frighten young children from venturing into the forest unattended.

It was quite a lovely environment, with ancient trees reaching high into the pure crystalline sky overhead. The atmosphere was laden with a serene silence, with occasional outbursts from animals as they scrounged through the overgrown underbrush. It was wild and untamed, a true adventure if he had ever experienced one.

So, it had come that he had seen the queen, sitting on the ledge of the tallest window, near the peak of the tower that seemed to scrape the sky. Her hair was silver, as if a luxurious liquid floating about in the air. Jareth stopped his horse in the shadows and took in her beautiful appearance, captivated and beyond words, for once in his life. He could not speak to her, in fear that the rumors had been true, and she would make him fade into nothing.

"This is where I am to be," Jareth had told himself, and then turned his horse to race back to his home and inform the others of his great find.

High in the tower Cyria turned and looked down at the youth who had gazed up at her for such a short time. Her emerald cat eyes narrowed in suspicion and tried in vain to catch a glimpse of the mysterious man. However, he was gone, and left not a trace of his presence in the shadowed realm of the forest in which he had stopped. His leaving did not matter much, for the crystals would quickly show her who had braved the many terrible tales to see the mysterious, infamous queen in her lonely castle.

She twisted the crystal ball about in her lithe fingers, watching intently as a faint image formed inside, amidst the swirling fog of intense magic. The sight within stole her very breath from her lungs and nearly caused her to plummet from the window upon which she had perched herself.

"He is beautiful," she muttered, her lovely voice fluttering as she calmed her racing heart.

* * * * * * *

Jareth pulled his horse to a halt, raising a great cloud of dust behind the two. He jumped to the ground and carelessly threw the reins to a nearby servant, to tend to the winded animal. His mind was elsewhere, concentrating entirely on the strangely lovely queen who most certainly held the answers to a life that was far from dull.

He had meant to inform the local boys, the same lowly fools who had spread the pointless rumors, that he had seen the Queen and had not been bewitched, or taken away for all time. However, a gentle voice from down the dirt road caught his attention and brought a smile to his lips, one of the only things that managed to bring him joy in this tedious life.

"Shayna, milady. One such as yourself should not dare to cross the streets without an escort," Jareth stated, his smile broadening.

Shayna blushed slightly. However, she allowed her eyes of deep pools filled with sapphire water to remain locked with his own. She shone with a brilliance of innocence and purity, and a beauty that radiated from the very depths of her soul out to her perfect body. She curtsied slightly and then offered Jareth her hand.

"My lord, I shall fear no one if you would accompany me to the market," she replied.

"I fear that I myself can not be trusted, should I be left alone with one as truly perfect as yourself, Shayna," Jareth's playfulness broke and he grasped both her hands tightly in his own.

Shayna pried herself away, and then straightened her dress. She was not one to break into lives and pry apart an arrangement that might as well be wrought into stone. There was no changing Jareth's destiny, nor his future wife. She could but dream of a life that they could have had together, had things been different.

However, she could not say this to him, for Jareth never listened. In his mind he could save everyone and do as he wished. In his world, there was only what he wanted, and not society as a whole. He worried about the oncoming marriage only when his parents wondered why he said nothing about it, or why he chose to not see his future wife.

"I must leave," Shayna replied shortly and lifted her skirts to rush away from Jareth before he tried to force his debonair ways upon her, simply to charm her.

Jareth grasped her arm and led her away from the streets, and eyes that watched every last syllable that was shared between them. The gossip the two caused spread like wildfire, all throughout the town and to people who should not know of their little secret.

"I cannot let you leave. Shay, you do not understand, I have found a way past all of this, set marriages, future bride, heir to my father's grand estate.... everything," he whispered under his breath as a couple of woman eyed the couple curiously.

Shayna followed him to the stables, were they always stole away to talk, or simply spend time together. It was quiet, and so tranquil, just to listen to the sounds of the horses as they rested in their freshly bedded stalls. She sat gracefully upon a bale of sweet-smelling hay and then turned her lovely eyes to his.

"Please Jareth, inform me of this new and foolproof plan that you have devised. I have heard thousands, and still not one has worked as you have told me it would," Shayna stated, quite upset with everything.

Her love paced, something that he rarely was seen doing. Jareth was the most calm man she had ever met, and certainly not one to express his anxiety so outwardly. He stopped in midstride and then bent down before her to his knees. He grasped Shay's slender hands between his own and offered her his most amazing smile. She could feel herself melt under his charms.

"We belong together, Shay, do not tell me that it is not to be. I have known since I first laid eyes upon you that we are to be one, unified forever in marriage. I will not let a signed contract, decided by my parents, tear this bond apart and throw me into a life that was not meant to be. I know what I must do, and you, my dear, promise me that when I return, you shall marry me, without questions asked," Jareth stated, with a slight smile still spread across his features.

Shay looked at their interlocked hands for a short time and then turned her tearstained eyes to him. He had tried so very hard to unite them, and to no avail. It was pointless to allow her spirits to rise, but they did nonetheless. Jareth sounded too sure, more so than ever before. Shay had to believe that this time he would succeed and they would be married, as she had always dreamed would happen.

"I will marry you, Jareth. I fear that this shall end as so many of your plans do, in despair. Yet, I will wait, and.... if you never return, then I fear that I shall wither up and die. You must come back to me, in two years time, or else I will know that you are dead. Do you promise me this?" Shay questioned, tightening her grip on Jareth's gentle hands.

He nodded, and then kissed her lips with a passionate hunger. Shay unlocked her hands from his and wrapped them about his head, threading her fine fingers through his golden locks. He then rose to his feet, and with a final smile, rushed out to find the horse that he had left with one of the stablehands.

* * * * * * * *

The journey to the castle seemed longer, much more so than it had been before. Yet, he had felt no fear, or worry when he had traveled this route earlier. His entire future rested in the palms of this strange queen, who had never seen him before, and probably did not care about his love struck plight.

Nevertheless, he urged his horse onwards and as it had done before, the great castle was suddenly there, looming before him in all it's awe-striking glory. He instantly turned his gaze upwards, to see the queen, but she no longer rested on the windowsill. She had gone into the castle, proving yet another rumor to be false.

"I have come to speak to the Queen. Open the gates and allow me passage, for I mean no harm!" Jareth called, positioning his horse before the main entrance which were two massive iron doors.

There was no answer, and the doors remained shut tight against him. He was left alone, and once again had failed with his great plan to bring himself and Shay together as man and wife. He was doomed to marry a woman he had never seen and only knew through her name that had been signed to the same contract as his own.

He turned, dejected and broken once again. Jareth would not try any more stupid plans to avoid the oncoming marriage, and he would not fight against fate, destiny, and the entire world that stood against him.

"What do you wish with me, mortal?" a sugary sweet voice asked from behind him.

Jareth spun the horse about, and very nearly collapsed as the image of the queen appeared with the radiance of the sun. She stood tall and regal, her beauty was overwhelming, and truly made her seem like a goddess. His voice hid inside of his throat, trembling in fear of this amazingly powerful sorceress who now looked down upon him with mild interest.

"Are you mute, young man?" she questioned, her elegantly arched eyebrows raised a bit to add to her puzzled look.

Jareth stuttered for a bit, perhaps to prove that he could speak, however not coherently. He stopped the jumble of words from flying forth and allowed himself a few deep breaths to calm his flustered mind. He then looked to the queen and raised himself straight in the saddle, using his alluring nature that had helped him so often in the past.

"I have come to ask of you a favor," Jareth stated.

Cyria stepped forward, her golden robes shimmering in the light from the filtering sun rays. They sparkled like a dream, caught in fibers of the finest silk, velvet and lace. A plush fur ordained the edges of the train, adding to her regal attire. She crossed her arms before her chest and waited to hear what this amazing man had come for.

Jareth cleared his throat and nervously waited for her to decide whether or not she would hear his favor. He took her silence positively and continued on, hoping that perhaps this was a good sign.

"My life has grown dull, and the future is one that I must avoid, at all costs. I happened across you earlier, but did not speak in fear that I would vanish, as the stories had informed me that I would. I returned to ask if I might stay with you in this castle and learn the secrets of Underground magic, certainly not all, for I do not want to seem a threat to you. I promise, on my ancestors graves, that I shall not try to claim your throne. I fear that I cannot tell you what I do this for, but I promise that it is of great importance," Jareth explained and then waited in the suffocating silence to hear what her response would be.

Cyria smiled inwardly, thinking of the possibilities of having such a handsome man at her side as king. She observed his royal appearance, noting that he was one of noble birth, truly a man that was meant to be king and have her as a wife. Whatever his reasons were, she doubted that he would remember, once she had informed him that she had chosen him as her king. Yet, she kept this all beneath a mask of indifference, something that she had learned early on in ruling her kingdom.

"I will welcome you into my castle as a guest, to learn magic. For I myself have faced many obstacles on the way to becoming queen, and I see my plight in yours. Please, allow my subject to take your horse to our stables," she said gesturing to the rotund, and horridly smelly beast at her side.

Jareth cringed away from the insolent creature, that snatched the reins from his hands. He leapt down from the horse and backed away from the beast. Never had he imagined that such a lovely queen would be accompanied by such, such, scum. Jareth watched as the inferior being waddled away, leading his steed along.

Cyria turned and strode quickly back to the open castle doors. Jareth watched in awe, and found that he could not bring himself to move to follow her into the mighty castle. He struggled forward and nearly succeeded in plummeting to the ground right before the regal woman. He caught his balance and rushed up beside her, entering into what would now be his home, until he could learn the fine art of magic.

Chapter Twenty-Four, part 2

Jareth shook himself from his memories. There were much more important things at hand than recalling the circumstances that led up to his ruling over the Underground. His past.... It had been better when it was gone. It had been so long since he had felt the agony of knowing that his actions had led to so much pain and suffering. Had he simply accepted his fate perhaps...well, many more would still be alive.

"Shayna, I have not thought about her for ages," he muttered, rubbing his warm forehead with a shaking hand.

Shayna had been the whole world to him, so perfect, and overwhelmingly beautiful. Of course, fate had destined him to marry another and Shay was certainly not his intended. She had been but a commoner, hence the reason he begged Cyria to take him in, so that with the aid of magic he could then marry Shay.

Jareth shook his head and struggled forward to Sarah's room. He knew that he was destined to lose another, but did not know how he would handle it. There was something about Sarah that Shay had lacked. Jareth could not quite put his finger on it, but knew that there was some little part of her wonderful personality that was .... was... indescribable.

He started onward, heading to Sarah's room. Yet, his mind had tasted the sweet fruit of the past and now wished to venture further into the pain that he had sustained so very long ago. Jareth was overcome by a wave of memories, fighting over him and gaining control. He stopped once again and fell against the wall....

* * From the moment he arrived in the castle he devoured all that Cyria told him about magic. Jareth was an eager student, ready to hear all that Cyria knew. She readily taught, all the while observing the way subtle changes took over the handsome young man. For the strange overwhelming power of magic had begun to coarse through his veins, taking his old life and warping it into a new one.

Cyria would sit atop her throne, or lounged on a nearby plush sofa, gazing at Jareth as he twirled delicate crystals across his hands. He learned quickly, and she knew that he could easily surpass all that she had learned, for there was something different about Jareth, something that had enabled him to control the magic much sooner than one should. It was almost as if he had always held the spells within his very soul, and it took but a few lessons to bring that inborn skill out in the open.

The days, weeks, and months passed that way, shrouded in a mist of magical incantations and spells. Perhaps, even a year flew past, sifting away so very fast. It was nearly frightening to realize that time was up, as far as Jareth was concerned, for Shay would expect him home soon and, what with this newly acquired skill of magic, he would soon marry his love as he had planned. It was time to inform the pleasant and so very kind queen that he appreciated all that she did and one day would repay her for the hospitality that she had showed to him.

Jareth strode before the throne, where Cyria was busily informing a nearby goblin of some certain duties that it must attend to prior to any fun and games that might rouse it's attention. She glanced at Jareth, and a strange mischievous smile found its way to her ruby lips. Cyria moved the goblin away with a flick of her hand and then straightened up to look at her student.

"It is good to see you, Jareth," she stated with another pleasant smile.

Jareth bowed before her, but was quite surprised when he heard her musical laughter fill the throne room. He stood straight and looked at the queen, who was obviously feeling strange that day. Jareth approached her and gazed into her cat-like eyes, checking for signs of an incantation.

"Oh, Jareth, there is nothing wrong with me. Please, I just find your bowing strange now, considering that you have lived here with me for nearly two years. We should not be so formal with each other. Now, on with what you wanted to tell me," Cyria stated, quite quickly and a bit flustered at that.

Jareth stepped back from her throne, still uncertain about the reason as to why she was still acting so very strangely. However, she had offered a fairly reasonable explanation, and he should simply accept it. After all, he had to leave shortly to tell his love that they would now have a life together, forever.

"It is time for me to leave Cyria, and I would very much like to thank you for everything you have done for me. I swear, upon my own soul, that I shall pay you in full for all of this," Jareth gestured around as he spoke to show just how much he owed her.

Cyria's eyebrows came together in a questioning look. Her smile fell and she rose from the throne.

"You do not have to leave so very soon, Jareth," she stated, approaching him with another seductive smile, "You have learned the art of magic, and so have become a perfectly suitable king, to rule by my side. Do you understand what I am offering you, Jareth? These are your dreams. You said you wished to repay me, and this is all I ask, so very little. Just stay with me, love me, do as I say, and you will be king."

Jareth's heart raced as the reality of what Cyria had planned the entire time he had remained in her castle, unfurled itself before him. She approached another step, and another, holding her open hands out to him, waiting for him to accept her offer of power and love. Jareth backed away from her, trying to find words to explain what she did not understand.

"It is a generous offer, Cyria, but I fear that I must not accept it. If you truly have fallen in love with me, than you must understand that true love cannot be pushed aside. I have learned the magic for my love, who waits for me to return to her, so that we may be married at long last," Jareth's voice shook despite the pains he was taking to keep it even.

Cyria's emerald eyes narrowed, and her lips drew back into a snarl, as if she truly was a cat disguised as a this lovely queen. Her entire air of beauty and gentleness fell, revealing her true self, vicious and evil. She circled Jareth, as a predator might circle it's prey. A low hissing growl found its way from her lips that had pulled back to reveal perfectly white teeth, slightly pointed at the tips.

Jareth's heart raced, and his voice fell paralyzed inside his tightened throat. All he could do was mumble a few incoherent syllables, that certainly did not mesh together to form anything that made any sense. It was hopeless, and he suddenly felt that this was the end. Cyria meant to kill him in the middle of her throne room.

"I have turned my world upside-down for you, and you respond with that? Who is she, the one that has stolen your fickle heart? I demand that you tell me now, or I shall eventually force it out!" Cyria threatened.

Jareth stopped his cowering and rushed forward, a few scant inches separated himself and Cyria. He could feel her breath brushing across his face, intermingling with his own. If one had happened into the room it would have seemed as if the two would kiss, right there. However, the look of death upon both faces would kill the strangely romantic positions in which they had placed themselves.

"I am not your prisoner, Cyria! Do not treat me as one!" his voice raised to booming qualities and reverberated throughout the castle.

Cyria flinched, but only slightly at his loud voice. She quickly regained her composure and pointed a finely shaped nail directly at him. She sputtered for a brief time, trying to find something, anything to say to respond to his comments. However, she was a loss for words, and that only managed to raise her anger past the point of control.

With a flash of brilliant white light Jareth was gone. Cyria stepped away as the magical spell faded to nothingness. She could still hear his shouts from the dungeon, but tried to force them away as she had done with him. Yet, there was much more that she needed to do, and Jareth, at that moment, was the least of her worries.

* * * * * * *

Shay wandered aimlessly around her home, glancing at certain items and thinking of many chores that needed to be done, but she truly was not in the mood to do anything. Her entire being ached to see Jareth again, and she was beginning to fear that perhaps he had done something dangerous this time, and had died, long ago, while she was still trying to decide where exactly he had gone.

Things around their town had been progressively getting worse, and the general attitude towards her was not pleasant (to say the least). Most knew about her and Jareth's relationship, and so immediately turned to her when he suddenly disappeared. After all, he had passed his twentieth year and so was overdue to be married to a certain girl who was very anxiously awaiting his return (or so they said).

Of course, Shay had no idea where Jareth had gone, for he had never told her. She understood why he had been secretive. After all Shay was not one who enjoyed lying, and she could truthfully say that she hadn't a single clue as to Jareth's whereabouts. Most didn't believe her, but that didn't matter.

Now...well, things seemed to be slipping away. It was as if the entire town was falling apart at the seams, like a worn article of clothing. So much was wrong, broken, hurt, even herself. She felt too old, much more than her actual age. If only Jareth would return and then he....

Her final thought was broken off by the sound of a shriek, horrid in its mournful proclamation. Shay listened, and her body turned cold, for she knew immediately what the cry was for. However, she would not admit it to herself until she knew for sure.

Shay rushed from the house, only to see a crowd of spectators surrounding Jareth's noble home. At the door stood his mother, her face stark white and a yellowed piece of parchment clutched in a trembling hand. She was sobbing into her husbands shirt, as he held her closely.

Shay touched a nearby townsmen's shoulder, trying to gather information as to what had happened. She was not sure if she had missed the entire letter, or if nothing had happened as of yet.

"Please sir, could you...," Shayna began, but the man scoffed and turned from her, fixing his gaze upon Jareth's mother who still was unable to speak.

Shay rushed further into the crowd trying desperately to retrieve some form of an answer from anyone. However, she only received the same response, time and time again. They had turned her into an outcast, blaming everything upon her. Warm tears pooled in her sapphire eyes and rushed down her perfect face.

Jareth's father glanced down at the crowd and caught sight of the young girl, the one who had turned his son away. His sorrow transformed into rage, so strong that he could surely have killed the woman, had she been near enough to his place beside his weeping wife.

"What are you doing here?! Whore, this is no place for you! Leave us to mourn our son's death! The death that you provoked!" he accused viciously.

Shay could feel the crowd close in on her, angry eyes accusing and deadly. Yet, she did not look, for her entire world suddenly fell on top of her. She could not breath, could not see, and could not hear. She did all that she could, and ran from the entire scene, straight to her quaint home, where she could find sanctuary from the pain, and the hurt that had been inflicted.

"Jareth, no!" she screamed, between fits of uncontrollable tears and gasps for air.

Shay fell to the simple dirt floor, burying her face in her skirts, and praying that this could be but a nightmare. For she could not live without Jareth. She no longer was accepted in this town, and could have gone on, had she had her love by her side. However, she had nothing left and so, would not go on with this hard, cruel life.

Shayna lifted herself from the dirt, not minding the grime that had found its way over her usual pristine clothes and even over her entire body. Nothing mattered anymore, not after all that she had lost. She no longer had a home, friends, parents, or a lover. Shay was alone.

"I love you, Jareth," she whispered tenderly as her trembling hand found a sharpened knife that hung over the pots and pans.

Somewhere, perhaps in the back of her mind or even outside in the village, she could hear a faint voice yelling "no!" She very nearly dropped the knife and stopped her planned suicide, but something else urged her on, to continue with it, and that this was the only way out.

Shay raised her hands with the knife out and above her chest. She observed the sun's glint on the clean, sharp metal. It reflected in her widely open eyes, shining in all its terrifying glory. One stroke to the correct place, that was all it would take. She took a final deep breath, closed her perfect, innocent eyes for the last time and plunged the knife through the air towards her mortal body...

* * * * * * * *

"NO!!!" Jareth screamed as if he had been stabbed and not Shay.

Now he watched her body fall to the ground, limp and lifeless, a pool of blood forming around her still form. She did not breath, did not move. She was gone. He hung his head in defeat, for that was all he could do any longer.

He had appeared here, in the dank dungeon after being bathed in the white light of Cyria's magical spell. Surely he had been foolish to deny her anything, but he was young and idealistic. When the white had cleared away he found himself chained against one of the cold slimy walls, that were strangely green with algae and other scummy plants. Suspended before him was a single crystal, and within its magical body, he had witnessed Shay's final minutes of life.

He had screamed and yelled, and tried in vain to wrench free from the magical bonds that held him tight to witness this horrid scene, his love's death. Jareth had thought, if for only a second that perhaps she had heard him yelling for her to stop, and just wait a bit longer for him to return. However, she had ignored his pleas and continued on with the final stroke of the knife.

Jareth raised his dropped head and glared at the crystal that still displayed the lifeless body upon the dirt floor of a small cabin. His heart burned with anger, furious rage filled his soul, turning it black with hate. He needed revenge, for that was all that would quench this anger, this hatred, this... feeling that his life was worthless, when compared to the whole chain of events in the fabric of time.

"Cyria!" he yelled, his eyes burning with a light that could be nothing but the magic, wild and unbridled and far more powerful than anything he had ever been taught.

The chains snapped and shattered into crystallized shards of metal, as if they had been suddenly frozen as they broke. He rose to his feet and glared at the crystal, still depicting the death scene within its magical body. He swept his hand against the crystal, sending it to the ground where it shattered and promptly disappeared into nothingness, save white light that eventually faded away.

He produced a single perfect crystal and threw it in the air, so that it covered him entirely with a shattering of gems and dusted crystals. The magical storm of splintered precious stones instantly brought him to the throne room, positioned directly before the queen, who would now truly understand just what a big mistake she had made.

"You killed her, Cyria," Jareth stated, his voice dead and emotionless as he talked.

He wore the same mask of indifference that Cyria had kept over herself during their first real meeting. He had paid attention during every lesson, and so knew the tricks. Cyria would soon find just how well he would do as king, for he no longer wished to see such an evil being at the throne. He would claim the title of Goblin King, by defeating the witch.

Cyria was not frightened. Instead, she appeared rather amused at his anger. She leaned forward a bit in the throne and gazed into his flashing eyes and the spray of crystals that rained down on the stone floor. She then settled back against the throne and sighed deeply.

"I did nothing of the sort, Jareth. I merely offered them a letter informing your dear parents that you would never be home. And, I am afraid that that is the truth, my dear," Cyria responded with a light chuckle.

"You feel no remorse for her death, do you!?" Jareth demanded.

He rushed forward and created a single crystal ball from the thin air. He waved it around before Cyria, daring her to attempt something, anything, so that he would have reason to attack her, or at least place her under some strong incantation. However, she did nothing, save giggle at the dancing crystal that was so very close to her radiantly evil face.

"What are you trying to prove, Jareth? You cannot best me at magic. I taught you everything you know, and certainly did not show you all that I can actually do. However, I am amused with these interesting parlor tricks of yours," Cyria chided.

She flicked her hand through the air, gesturing for the usual crystal to come to her. However, she did not feel the normal added weight in her palm. In fact, something felt entirely different all throughout her body. She felt old, and weak, and exceptionally tired. Even the castle seemed to be aging as she gazed around at new cracks that suddenly formed in the once sturdy castle.

She turned her cat-eyes to him, accusing and hateful all at the same time. Cyria tried to leap forward, perhaps to claw at him or force the magic back to her. Yet, she was pushed back against the throne with invisible hands, and held there as she struggled to free herself from this spell.

"I see. Since you feel nothing then I suppose that I should make you into something that has never felt an emotion, and is as lovely as you, but painful to all who get too near. Cyria, you deserve no remorse, and I pray that you never escape this prison," Jareth replied in icy tones, devoid of all feelings.

He tossed the crystal at her, without a thought for her safety. He saw her eyes, emerald and feline, opened wide as the magical orb flew to her confined body. Then, it was all engulfed by the spell, and a white light covered all. Even when the illumination faded away, still the white remained, laid across the throne. It was a single white rose, lovely and painful, as Jareth had said.

Chapter Twenty-Four, part 3

Jareth finally gained control over his mind and lurched forward, colliding with Sarah's door. He grasped the doorknob firmly in his too-white hands and managed to open the heavy wooden door. Yet, the whole of his body seemed to ache in agony, as if even this simple task was too great a strain on him.

He allowed the door to shut behind him, as he stumbled forward. His strength had suddenly left him, feeling winded and so very helpless. There had been a time, nearly three hundred years earlier, when he had faced the queen and defeated her easily. Now, he could only whimper and run from her renewed power.

"Sarah, my love," he whispered as he dropped down beside her, landing in a single chair that he had positioned beside the bed, so that he might watch her as she rested in this comatose state.

Jareth touched her silken hair that laid about her head as if it were a chestnut halo. It shimmered in the moonlight that streamed down upon her angelic face. He could barely keep the tears from spilling. She was so much like Shay, and now he would lose her as well, once Cyria decided that it was now time to hurt him once again, by stealing the woman he cared for.

As he thought back to the past, the days of his youth, another twinge of sadness sneaked into his soul. It was gone, all of it, never to be back to the way it was before. He could never be the same young king who had taken over the kingdom with a hatred that he had hidden for quite some time, until things grew boring, and the games began.

"My labyrinth," he muttered under his breath as he continued to stroke Sarah's long tresses.

Certainly that had been the only thing to keep him from going mad. He had been transformed from the dashing young nobleman who was considered the prized member of the community, with seductive ways and a lovely young woman who he loved with his whole heart, to a king, broken and alone, still relatively attractive and seductive, yet once again hopelessly in love with a young woman who was soon destined to leave him for all time, to a land in which she belonged.

"I remember seeing Shay the first time, after sentencing Cyria to the rose prison," Jareth muttered, allowing the past to cover what he now faced with Sarah.

* * Jareth had placed the rose in a vase, filled with cool refreshing water. He wished Cyria to live a long time within these tight confinements. Her sentence would be for eternity, if he was capable. Never could he allow the sorceress to break free and claim her rule over the Underground again.

As he turned his back on the rose, a certain promise that he had uttered two years earlier returned to his mind. He had sworn never to take over the throne, had promised on his ancestors that it would not occur. His entire body shook with fear, as the reality of that broken promise snapped in his slowed mind.

"Please, please allow me this small thing," Jareth begged.

He could not wait any longer. His heart raced and felt as if it would simply burst. His breath came in harsh gasps, and still he forced himself to run. He sprinted out of the massive metal doors, that opened by themselves and closed behind him. Jareth stopped at the stables and burst through the door.

All around him was a commotion of nervous animals. They reared and rushed around in their clean stalls as Jareth ran through. His actions only frightened the poor things more, and they kicked the stall doors, begging to be let free, away from this potential threat that was, in reality, their master.

"Easy!" Jareth called as he threw the final stall door open, to reveal his faithful steed.

The stallion reared and backed away, still frightened by the frenzied air that surrounded his master. He snorted, unsure that he should continue out, but knowing that he had no choice. Jareth touched the horse with his hands, speaking to the animal with his magic, and waiting for the calming breath that would signal a time to leave... for home.

The horse sighed and lowered his mighty head against Jareth's arm. The next moment, with a flash of magic the animal was saddled and Jareth was atop it, galloping off towards his town, and his home, something he had not seen for two long years.

"No! No, it cannot be!" Jareth exclaimed, leaping down from his steed and releasing the reins.

The horse glanced at the scene of destruction and understood at once that there was only danger here. It trotted off into the forest, to await his master's return from the destroyed village.

Jareth took only two steps within the walls of the town and collapsed to his knees. His legs simply could no longer hold him up. He was beyond words, beyond comprehension of why such a horrid thing should have happened. Everyone, his parents, friends, even Shay (though she had actually killed herself earlier) were all dead. The homes laid in ruins, destroyed heaps of wood and trash.

He scraped his trembling hands through the rich soil that had helped them with their countless crops. This soil, this land, these homes, everything here that no longer existed, had been his life, and now it was gone. His past had been simply erased, leaving him only the castle as his future.

He allowed not a tear to fall, but instead forced the mask back on. He would cover the anger, the hurt, the pain, the sadness, and all other feelings for all time with this emotionless barrier. Never would he allow something to happen to him again. He would never love again, and would not even dare to care for something as much as he had with this town, and with Shay.

Jareth thrust his fists into the air and looked up into the clear afternoon sky. The sun beat down from overhead, nearing a heat that was almost unbearable. However, he kept his eyes upturned to the sun and glared at it, as if in a contest with the very thing that brought the Underground mornings.

"I vow upon this damned day that has seen only death and destruction, that I shall never love another. I shall never allow those feelings into my soul!" He exclaimed and then collapsed back down to the ground, exhausted, yet still unbroken.

With a great amount of strength, and quite a bit of struggling, he forced himself back to his feet. The street that he had remembered traveling that day long ago when he had seen Shay for the last time, was now littered with wreckage from the carnage that had occurred here very recently.

He would leave and never return to this place. Perhaps someday the forest would overtake the ruin and it would simply cease to exist. That should be the way for it to go. The Underground should reclaim it as its own. Jareth could only sigh as he turned to leave, not to gaze upon his home again, for it was not his home.

However, something caught his eye as he walked out of the village. A shimmer, very faint, and perhaps only a figment of his imagination, but it roused his curiosity nonetheless. Jareth turned towards the strange shimmering object and nearly collapsed again. He steadied himself against a nearby wall, that had remained upright by some divine force.

"Shay," his voice was cracked and weakened.

It had been the knife catching the rays of sun from overhead that had shimmered. Now he saw her body, laid just outside her home. The knife jutted from her chest, almost appearing to be some horrid joke. All around her perfect body was a pool of brilliant red blood. It soaked her hair and splattered across her dress.

Jareth bit his lips harshly and then pushed himself away from the wall. He stopped right beside her, debating whether or not he should go through with the idea that had suddenly appeared in his mind after seeing her body. Perhaps it would be best to leave her here, so that she might remain with all that she had held dear.

He shook his head, knowing that there was nothing in the village that Shay had cared for, hence, the reason she killed herself. She had felt that she was alone in the world, without a friend or a person who she might be able to speak to for even a short time. He would not allow her to be alone for all time.

Jareth bent down and lifted her lifeless body into his arms, removing the knife in the process. She was so different. The spirit and joyful soul had gone away, to remain in heaven for eternity. He kissed her lips tenderly, but only felt worse, for they were cold already. This was not Shay.

He rushed from the village, suddenly sure that he could not remain any longer. He disappeared into the forest, and never ventured back to the village again. He had left it to nature, to be overcome by the forest.

* * * * * * *

Jareth buried his love on the castle grounds, in a clearing that had been covered in fresh and lovely green grass. He did not mind the labor, for it had been for Shayna, who deserved all that he could ever offer her. Of course, it had all been his fault, every last event that had taken place after his departure. If he had only told Cyria about Shay when he first saw her, then....

"Then things would be the same. Shay and I would still not be together. However, milady, you would have a life still, as would many others," Jareth whispered as he patted the last bit of stray dirt atop the fresh grave.

Jareth took the white rose and twirled it about in his fingers for a short time. It truly was beautiful and looked so very pure. Jareth laid the flower atop Shay's grave and then stepped back to gaze at this memorial to a life that had been spent all too soon.

The ground was bare, devoid of life, and seemed to almost mock her death in a way. Shay deserved to be kept high on a pedestal, or at least depicted by some beautiful scenery that would forever tell all that she was one of truly amazing appearance. After all, she had been but a simple peasant who had stolen the heart of the future king. Surely she had been meant for a far greater purpose than an early death.

"I will forever turn the world for you, my beloved Shayna," Jareth whispered in a gentle tone.

He created a crystal and buried it beneath the dirt, just so that it was entirely covered by the earth. He then stepped away, to watch the magic take action and form the memorial that would forever stand as a way to symbolize Shay, for even after death, there would be life.

With a burst of light created by a hundred different hues of brilliant arrays, the ground became alive. Green tendrils shot forth, weaving around each other, and forming the most amazing display of art in the form of plants. The air was filled with sweet scents of flowers as each plant burst into bloom. Fine vines of ivy wove all about and up a trellis that had appeared with the sudden burst of life from the crystal's magic. Another vine formed into a bench, that positioned itself directly over Shay's grave, and shone with a golden illumination that covered the living plant and making it into a hardened metal. When it was done, a garden to rival the most exquisite that could be imagined was left, in all its magical and mysterious glory.

In the midst of all the glory stood the single white rose. It had formed into a plant, with but one flower to bloom for all of eternity. It seemed right for Cyria to be placed forever as a monument for Shay, the woman she destroyed with her vicious revenge. Jareth finally managed a smile as he realized the true poetic justice that had been served, and then turned from the garden. This would not be forgotten as he would do with the village, for he would keep this place in perfect condition, for the rest of time... * *

* * * * * * *

"I forgot the garden, and now it is in ruins. Cyria destroyed it as her revenge against me," Jareth moaned.

He laid his head on the bed beside Sarah and gazed into her tranquil face. She no longer felt the agony of amnesia, the agony that he had allowed her to continue to suffer for his own selfish desires. He had once again caused this pain by his poor decisions, and once again his innocent lover was harmed as well.

Jareth raised his head and looked towards the door. It felt so very far away. It was so difficult to get over there. Perhaps it would be all right to simply remain here for the duration of the night, as long as Cyria did not miss him and search the castle to find his whereabouts. Yet, Jareth doubted that that would happen.

He leaned back against the chair and fell asleep the next instant. The day had finally gotten to him, and he could no longer act that he was as young as he used to be. Cyria had won, and he admitted defeat. He would leave as soon as Sarah awakened and was sent home. She needed to be home.

In the distance, outside of the Goblin City and past the dump, the Labyrinth, which had faded to nothingness some time ago, slowly rose back up from the ground to become another dangerous and confusing maze.

Chapter Twenty-Five

A lone figure sat out in the midst of remnants of the garden. Her silver hair was illuminated by light from the morning sun, and cast strange liquid reflections all across the ground. Her bare foot traced circles through the piles of ash and soil that still remained here. However, there was not much more left, save the slightly charred bench she now rested upon.

This place had been a curse, and a memorial to a life that she had destroyed. Cyria damned herself and her uncontrollable temper. It was a curse, and had been slowly building up within her through the many years she had ruled over the Underground. The kingdom was like a cancer, eating at one's humanity and dissolving one's rationale over time.

She saw the differences in Jareth, and hated to see what he had become. Of course, the magic remained in his system and kept the appearance of youth upon his features. He was remarkably handsome, and she doubted that as long as he lived in the Underground, those looks would leave him. However, his heart had been broken, as had his wondrous spirit that had made him such an amazing prospect for king.

"I thought that you would be strong enough, Jareth," she stated with a drawn out sigh.

Cyria gazed off in the distance as the Labyrinth began to peak over the horizon. It was returning, though she had not asked it to do so. The Underground wanted it's mysterious maze to return, and yearned for more and more innocent young children to travel its twists and turns, without much hope of ever making it to the center and reclaiming the child they had wished away.

Cyria finally rose from the bench, yet something still pained her about the garden she had destroyed. It was not meant to look this way, and so she would have to do the only thing that made sense. Cyria smiled lightly, feeling a goodness within herself that had been gone for so very long. She was going to make right the wrong she had committed hundreds of years ago.

"I pray for your innocent soul, Shayna," Cyria responded and then placed her hand atop the crystal that still laid embedded beneath the fertile soil.

Soon, it would be renewed, as was the Labyrinth and the entire Underground. She would reclaim her throne and begin the horrid task of ruling a land that would not be ruled. Jareth had been right... One can never control the Underground, for it was magic, wild and untamed magic.

She turned from the crystal, and the spell that had begun to take shape. She did not wish to watch it, but instead had other tasks to attend to. Unfortunately, the girl, Sarah, would be granted with her memory, and then would return to her home. It was the way that it had been written, and so she could not fight destiny.

Cyria allowed the castle doors to open before her and close after her, a pleasantry that did not cease to amuse her. Yet, as she passed through the magical doorway her face remained set and serious. It was time for work, time for heartbreak, and time for a forgotten past to finally be returned.

"Jareth?" Cyria called as she entered the throne room.

She had almost expected to see him placed upon the throne, gazing at her with raw unmasked anger. His strange mismatched eyes would be flashing with intensity and highlights to rival all other remarkable colors. Yet, he was not there. Cyria paused momentarily before the throne and sighed deeply once again.

"And so this is how the mighty Goblin King must fall," she stated, and a single crystalline tear rolled down her cheek.

"And how the Queen of ages ago reclaims the burden of the Underground's rule," Jareth responded in hateful tones.

Cyria whipped herself around and brushed the show of emotion from her tender face. She truly could have loved him, could have given him everything to prove just how much his presence beside her meant. Yet, she had been foolish, much the same as Jareth had treated Sarah. He had begged her to stay, but only if she would become something close to a slave, not a companion.

Jareth stepped forward into the light and out of the shadows cast by the dimly lit hallway. His noble face appeared rejuvenated and youthful once again. His body was strong and he walked sure of himself before her, offering Cyria a respectable bow. He then turned his flashing eyes to her and waited to hear what she had to say on this new morning.

"You seem well, my lord," she stated with a slight curtsey, for she was determined that this meeting would not go as the previous one had.

Jareth was taken aback by her politeness and offered her a questioning smile in return to her statement. He placed his hands behind his back and nodded slightly in response. Yet, he could find nothing to say to her. Cyria returned the smile and then cleared her throat, not sure as to where she would begin.

"Please Jareth, sit," Cyria begged, gesturing towards the throne.

This surprised him even more, and though he was not sure what game she was playing, the offered throne was all too enticing. He placed himself upon the mighty throne, immediately feeling himself slip back to years gone by, when he had been in control of the castle and had ruled from this room.

"What form of game is this, Cyria? I believe that we have other matters to attend to and this masquerade should be over," Jareth stated.

Cyria placed herself on the windowsill and gazed out at the refreshed Underground. Even the sunlight appeared to be renewed and younger than ever. It was warm and pleasant, and truly a sight to behold. The land was more peaceful, more beautiful. Everything appeared to be in top condition after so much time spent in trashy appearances.

"I have learned, after ages spent in that magical prison you placed me in, that this anger I hold is not for you Jareth, but instead was created when I was forced to claim the throne of the Underground. Now, I wish to make things right, to give that child her memories as a way to apologize for all that I have done. I hope that you can accept this humble plea for forgiveness," Cyria was silent after her speech and turned to look at the old king as he thought about what she had offered.

Jareth knew that he would lose Sarah when her memory returned. She would recall the countless trials and tribulations he made her sustain, the taunting, hardships, and the years afterwards when he was absent from her life. She would remember a home and force herself to believe that she had been happy there. Then she would be gone, and he would be alone once again.

Jareth tore himself out of his thoughts and stared into Cyria's eyes, trying to see if she truly was being serious about all of this. Her unflinching gaze offered him the only answer that he needed. Jareth responded with a nod and then rose from the throne to help Cyria to her feet. She gladly took his offered hand and rose to his side.

"This is a selfless thing that you do now, and I want you to know just how much it will mean to her. You might feel that all is lost, but I have seen the love you two share, and understand that this will not end it," Cyria stated and then kissed his cheek tenderly.

Jareth turned to her and grasped her hand firmly in his own. For one brief moment he could see himself at her side, ruling as king and Cyria his queen. He could imagine their life and their children that would be heirs to the throne. Yet, thoughts of Sarah broke through the strange possibility and dashed any future the two might have had, if things had been different. For he loved Sarah, with all of his soul, and could not turn the emotion off, even though a kingdom had been offered to him. He had only one way to go, and that was with his love.

"Come Jareth, before we do anything else, I wish to show you something," Cyria stated, tugging at his arm a bit, and heading in the opposite direction from Sarah's room where she still slept in her comatose state.

Jareth did not argue, for he was very much absorbed in his own thoughts, and instead only followed Cyria to where she should lead him. He only raised his eyes to glance around when the lights dimmed and he realized just how very close they were to a certain garden that had been destroyed when Cyria had burst back into the Underground, breaking free from her rose prison.

Jareth halted immediately and nearly pulled Cyria to the ground. She steadied herself and glared at him, for acting so foolish. Jareth's entire body posture seemed to have changed in the few moments it had taken him to realize what it was that laid beyond the seemingly innocent wooden door directly before them. His eyes flashed in fear, and something that looked almost like sorrow flitted across his features for a short time.

Cyria touched his silken shoulder tenderly and then looked into his widened eyes. She had no idea just how much this had all affected him. Of course, the woman who had been buried out there, (Cyria was fairly sure that her name was Shay), had been so important to Jareth, and he had lost her, quite abruptly at that.

"Why have you brought me here, Cyria? Have you lied about making things right? I recall that this garden has burned down. Do you wish to show me the ruins of the last living part of my Shayna?" Jareth inquired, glaring at the queen with obvious contempt.

Cyria shook her head and then placed a tender smile upon her face. It was quite difficult to keep her rather bad temper and the hatred that had welled up inside, under control and away from Jareth. However, she insisted he follow her with another gentle tug of his arm and a friendly smile to calm his suspicions.

"I swear upon the Underground that nothing out here will upset you," Cyria stated, looking at him with a solemnity she had never used truthfully before.

He glanced over to the wooden door and then back to Cyria, who remained serious while he decided what to do. Without a thought of her old sneaky ways, Jareth rushed forward and threw the door open, to gaze out at the lovely midmorning, that had settled over the land, and cast warming rays of sun down upon the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

The garden had returned to its initial loveliness. It was well trimmed and perfect in every aspect. The weeds had disappeared, as had the tarnish on the golden bench and the chipping pain that had adorned the quaint little well. It was purity, and depicted every aspect of Shay to a key. If she had lived, and was here on this day to gaze at this splendor, surely she would have loved it as much as he had. If he knew Shay, she would have been in the garden daily, caring for it, and daydreaming.

"Thank you, Cyria," Jareth stated, turning to face the beaming queen.

She only responded with a slight nod of her head and then glanced back over her shoulder towards the room where the sweet woman still rested. Jareth realized her haste and bid the garden a fond farewell, for he did not know the next time he would manage to see it. Hopefully, he would never forget this memorial, or the lovely woman who was buried beneath it.

Jareth offered it one final glance backwards before the door shut behind him. As he looked a faint shape, almost transparent in its appearance, was there. She looked at him for the briefest moment, with wide innocent eyes, the color of the clearest, deepest water. He knew that the being was Shay, and that she had finally come to say goodbye, something that they had never been able to do before, when she had ended her life so abruptly.

"Shay," Jareth whispered as the door closed off the connection between the two.

He was almost ready to jump back and throw the door open so that he might see the lovely spirit one last time, and tell her all that he had always wanted to say, but had never been given the chance. However, he knew that she would no longer be there, and he also knew that it would have never been the same. Shay was the past, not the present, and there was someone else to worry about now. So, he simply smiled and followed Cyria, as she hurried towards Sarah's room.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Cyria placed a single hand over Sarah's closed eyes and then glanced over to Jareth. He stood at the door, worry, anger, sadness, and despair, all fighting to take over his every thoughts. Yet, he did not show it, instead kept a calm front and even smiled a bit at Cyria as she concentrated on Sarah.

The queen could feel the girl's confusion, and the memories, hidden in the furthest depths of her mind. They were so close, almost in her grasp, but also so very difficult to reach. All Sarah really needed was the slightest guidance to find her past and reclaim it once and for all. That was what Cyria would do, offer Sarah the helpful push.

"Remember, little one, remember," Cyria stated with a lovely smile covering her ageless features.

She then removed her delicate hand and watched as Sarah began to toss and turn in her sleep. The strange spell had been removed and now at last she could dream and fight her way out of the black oblivion in which she had been trapped. Sarah was no longer held a prisoner by her amnesia, and soon would conquer it.

"Is it done?" Jareth inquired, edging closer to Sarah's thrashing form as she suffered in some obviously horrid dream.

Cyria nodded gravely and then rose, clutching the trains of her skirts in her hands. She nudged Jareth to follow her and allow Sarah the time alone. After all, upon awakening, the Goblin King would not be someone who she would wish to lay her eyes upon. Jareth would have to slowly approach her after she realized all that had happened and had time to remember just how much she had loved this man before she understood her past conflicts with him.

Jareth hesitated a brief moment, yearning to remain by his love's side, but he understood the consequences and so followed Cyria slowly out of the room. He shut the door with great care and then stood there, as if frozen to that very spot beside Sarah's room, waiting to hear if she had awakened yet.

"Jareth, I never thought that I would see you like this. You seemed so very headstrong," Cyria remarked with a casual laugh to lighten the dismal atmosphere that had surrounded the two.

Jareth did not respond, but instead rubbed his hand across his face in an attempt to regain composure. He won over the threatening emotions, but only by a scant margin. He turned back to Cyria and then shook his head with a feeling of utter failure. Sarah would return home, and he would be left with nothing but the memories that had finally resurfaced, only after he lost his kingdom.

"What is the point of life, Cyria? Surely you must have found out some insight as to why we are placed here in the first place. Do you believe that we are here to suffer as much as possible, so that we might accept death in the end?" Jareth asked, his voice covered in deadly seriousness.

"I do not know, Jareth....I do not know."

* * * * * * *

In her world only darkness reigned supreme, it was dictator, telling her that everything she had ever feared meant nothing as of that moment. Sarah was in a black nothing, where she knew not what would touch her one moment, and strike her dead the next. Time did not pass, but she had a sense that in reality there was a clock that was ticking away the minutes as she remained in oblivion.

However, a light, warm and inviting and a goddess in this realm of pure nothingness, came to break through the monotony and rescue her from the frightening environment. Surely, this was her savior, this golden ray of hope that sliced through all the darkness that had since then ruled her life. It was then that she knew that nothing would ever frighten her again, not after the terrifying time she spent not knowing what would come and when it would strike.

Then the entire whiteness faded away and she was left with the feeling of rain pouring down from overhead. Sarah's hair hung in wet clumps against her face, and a roll of thunder covered all other sounds that might journey to her ears. Beside her a loud bark broke the strange daydream that had overcome her senses and she shook herself back to reality, noticing a nice house, warm and dry, and a woman glaring at her from the doorway.

"I'm home!" Sarah cried and rushed forward to hug the woman who had crossed her arms over her chest.

However, her moment of joy was shattered, as the picture faded and she fell to the ground. Sarah suddenly found herself in a room, it was lit by flashes of cruel lightening, and sounds of laughter rushed to her senses. Her memories connected with a spark of electricity, and outside thunder rolled across the stormy sky.

"Jareth! Goblin King! Show yourself!" she called, raising herself to her feet and standing defiantly before the glass doors, and the owl that fought to enter inside.

It burst open with a spray of magical power, and a fog that covered the owl for the briefest time as it transformed back into the human shape. Sarah watched in awe as the Goblin King stood before her, smiling as he always had done before. He would offer her her dreams, but in the end she would turn them down and opt to search for her baby brother in his kingdom. She would travel through the labyrinth.

"Sarah, please stop this harmful cycle," Jareth begged, walking forward to take her into his arms.

This was not how she remembered it at all. Her dreams were warping around strange spells. Perhaps Jareth had sent an incantation over her, in order to prevent her anger from covering her thoughts. Yet, it was too late. She jumped away from his warm embrace and found once again that there was no ground on which to land. She instead found herself falling, as she had in another dream several weeks earlier.

All around here were mirrors playing out scenes from her life. She watched with excitement, and anger, hate and a need for revenge, nostalgia and sadness. This was her life, something that she had missed for so very long, and now, despite the wonderfully romantic relationship she had formed with Jareth, she knew that she could not remain with him, for they were enemies, and he had lied to her far too many times. It was over, and she would return home once finished with this enlightening dream.

Then the fall faded away, as did the strange hole that had been furnished with her past. A white flash surrounded her and she could see Jareth there, arising from his costume he had worn when she and Hoggle had happened across him.

"Nothing? Nothing? Nothing!? Nothing, tra la la?" Jareth asked as he shook the costume before the scared little dwarf.

Sarah turned from this scene, hoping that perhaps she could just leave, for she had most of her memories returned. She did not need to see anymore, she did not need to know just how much Jareth had hurt her throughout her entire journey in his Labyrinth. Would it be too much to ask to live in ignorance for a bit longer as she tried to mend her poor broken heart?

It obviously was, for she felt warm breath cascade over her neck. She shivered despite herself. Yet, she could not help the feelings that washed over her, what with the relationship she had had with this handsome man. However, she had a part to play in this flashback, and so would go on with the show and cast away all feelings for the man who had tried to kill her even when he promised he had loved her the whole time.

"And you Sarah, how are you enjoying my Labyrinth?" he asked, leaning close to her and offering her a truly seductive smile.

Sarah hid her anger with his attitude and responded the way she had so very long ago. She had been cocky, that much was true, but surely she was forced into that role with Jareth constantly testing her. Yet, perhaps things had gotten out of hand, with their two competitive personalities.

"It's a piece of cake!" she declared with a smug smile that should have caused him to set the clock ahead a few more hours.

Jareth did nothing of the sort. Instead he wrapped his arms around her and stared into her deep chestnut eyes. His face was so broken, so lost, as if this was his last chance to tell her how he had felt all along. Sarah waited to hear his sweet, intoxicating voice for only a short time, only long enough to realize the strange spell he was placing upon her. She could not give into these charming techniques he was using.

"Leave me, Goblin King. Send me home!" she demanded.

Jareth could only shake his head in response to her demands. He slowly backed away down the hall, until he entirely disappeared from sight. Sarah was once again left alone, for Hoggle was gone as well. She was given a short time to wonder what had happened to her dear friends after she had left, for not once had Jareth mentioned them while she had been in the Underground.

"Why would he? They would inform me of all he had done!" she whispered under her breath.

Her anger boiled up within her once again and she hit the walls fiercely with her balled up fists. He had used her, had not once thought about what was best for her or what she had wanted. She had given him everything, her love, her life, and he had only offered her false trust, and countless lies.

A gloved hand fell on her shoulder, and she whipped herself about. Suddenly the surroundings were changed, as if done in the blink of an eye. She no longer stood in the midst of an old tunnel, but instead in the ruins of Jareth's marvelous castle. All around her floated chunks of the wall, as they defied the very law of gravity. However, her attention was solely turned to the man who now stood before her, but a shadow of his previously threatening self. He was dressed in white, faded and weak, and he now would plead with her.

"Give me my freedom!" Sarah demanded, daring a single step closer to the retreating King.

"Sarah, Beware! I have loved you up until now, but I can be cruel as well," he stated and stopped his retreat.

She stopped as well and glanced at the clock. It had neared the thirteenth hour, resting only a minute from the time of judgment. She knew what to say, and Jareth understood that he was going to lose, no matter what he managed to say between now and then. However, he would try, and he would fade to a white owl in the end. She would then awaken from the dream and go home, that was how it was to be, and that was the way it had to be done.

"Loved me? What have you done to prove your love for me?" she demanded.

Jareth too looked at the clock and then turned to her. He was so different, and for once could not bring his words forth. His voice felt lost inside and he could but stare at her with hope that she would recall all that they had done together, and how she had loved him when their past had not been an issue.

With a burst of hope he found his voice and stood straight, trying with all his might to win her heart once again.

"Everything I have done has been for you. I took you to my castle to heal your wounds, offered you magic to console you, and gave you a future to look forward to. Isn't that love?" he asked, his eyes pleading but his voice cold and flat.

Sarah could not believe what he was trying to do, make her feel guilty. She could no longer avoid the confrontation that was going to happen sooner or later. He had used her, and all that he could possibly say, could never change the fact. Sarah took one step closer to him, and another, all the while forcing him to retreat.

"That is not love, Jareth. You feel nothing, save infatuation with something that you cannot have. Now, I demand that you send me home, for I remember it entirely and would rather stay there than be forced to spend another moment with you!" Sarah stated and then stopped her advancing steps.

Jareth made no move to do what she had wished. He merely pleaded with her, using his eyes, that were so mesmerizing. Had she not been so consumed by anger, the look within their depths truly would have touched her to her very soul. Yet, she could not allow him to hurt her again. Jareth had had his chance, and had ruined it from the very beginning. She took a deep breath and prepared the words that would end this warped fantasy for all time. She knew at that moment, that she would never see this man again. It was over, at long last.

"You have no power over me!" She demanded, her voice echoing all around the strange empty space and floating pieces of the destroyed castle.

In the distance she could hear the dead chime of the clock, ringing on to the thirteenth hour. She had defeated him once again, only this time in her dreams. It was just as well, for she would be forced to leave again once she awakened. As the bells tolled on, signaling the end of this part of her life, she looked towards the man she had loved, if only for a short time.

Jareth stood in the shadowed remnants that had once been a mighty doorway. His eyes were emotionless and his face set. He stared at her, much the same as a dead animal would before its eyes had been properly shut for the last time. He offered her that final eerie sight, and then disappeared in the shadows, to lick wounds that quite possibly would never truly heal.

All around her the world swirled into colors, not definable in their mixtures. She watched in awe as black became white and then to blue, always changing into another more amazing and beautiful shade. Then it began forming to one uniform gray, boring and dull. Yet, she felt herself waking, and knew that in a few brief moments she would arise from the overwhelming gray to see the castle set before her.

Sarah snapped her eyes opened and stared upwards at the arched ceiling, adorned with intricate paintings and designs etched into the very stone and plaster. She remained that way for a minute, just catching her breath and gathering thoughts that had all rushed in on her at once. The reality of everything crashed in, as a wave attacking the defenseless shore. Sarah could not hold back any longer, and so she screamed!

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Jareth leapt from his seat upon the throne and instantly rushed towards the doorway. The scream had nearly stopped his very heart as it worked tediously at keeping his blood flowing. It was Sarah, and that was obvious, but it appeared that she had been killed by the pain and horror that was lodged within her scream.

Cyria was before him in a flash, blocking the way and forcing him to back down from his hopeless actions. She knew that he merely yearned to see that the child was well, but it was not the time to burst into the room when Sarah was still trying to come to grips with what exactly had come to pass. Jareth would only succeed in fueling her already raging anger.

Jareth sneered at the queen and tried desperately to pass by her. Yet, he soon backed away and turned from her, still fuming that she should not allow him to see his love. Jareth could not sit, so he paced, something he had not done since his first years as king. All the while Cyria remained positioned in front of the doorway, watching carefully all of Jareth's movements.

"What if she is in pain!?" Jareth demanded, stopping his paces for a few moments to turn to the woman.

Cyria could only shrug and continue to watch Jareth carefully. She was not about to let him convince her that he must go to the girl. Jareth balled his hands into fists and resumed his circling movements. It was all he could do any longer without going entirely mad with the penned up anger that raged wildly within his soul.

Cyria carefully glanced down the hallway, watching for signs of life from the child who was still realizing all that had come to pass during the time she had been without a past. Soon Sarah would be here, in the throne room, to face Jareth, as she still believed he was her arch enemy for all of eternity. Cyria had precious little time left to settle Jareth's storming emotions and ready him for the painful blow that he was sure to receive when Sarah came before him.

She placed a hand on the Goblin King's shoulder to cease the infernal pacing movements in which he had found a comfort. With a rough shout he swiped her hand away from him and glared viciously at her, as if ready to destroy the inferior beast that dared to stop his important duties. Cyria ignored the blatant show of disrespect and stepped in his path, once again stopping the paces.

"What do you want, oh most powerful and mighty queen?" Jareth questioned, his eyes glowing with fiery anger and white ice.

Cyria merely gestured towards the clock with a shake of her lovely ageless head. Her silver hair flowed about, as if it were a river suddenly set into a motion of flowing waves. It caught the lights and cast such lovely colors of blue and green, every imaginable color was reflected by that perfectly silver stream. Jareth followed her direction and turned his icy gaze to the clock, that had stood beside the throne since he could remember, constantly reminding that, though he remained a youthful man, time was slipping away quicker than he could ever imagine.

"Do you not see what time it is?" she asked, her voice a tender caress of silken splendors, almost as intoxicating as Jareth's own.

His anger seemed to slip, and the hard look that had overcome his features fell away, but only for a brief time. He could see very well what time it was, and how history had to decide to repeat itself in such a cruel manner as this. He would face yet another heartbreak from the same "opponent", but now she was a lover as well. Jareth swallowed deeply and then turned back to Cyria, trying in vain to gather his emotions back together and act strong and angry still.

Cyria would not look at him, but instead walked to the persistent clock, that had never ceased its endless job of keeping time. Its infernal chimes had sounded countless times, and the hands were constantly turning, and turning, as another day...week...or year died away, never to return. It all died, and Jareth had seen enough to last a score of lifetimes.

"It is ironic, Jareth, that it should be but five minutes away from the infamous hour of thirteen. Is this not the time that she defeated you three years ago?" Cyria questioned, running a slender finger across the smooth glass that protected the clock's face.

Jareth simply glanced at the time piece once again and then offered Cyria a scowl. He did not wish to entertain this conversation with any addition to it. Cyria was simply opening old wounds and attacking them until he passed out from the unbearable pain that welled deep within his heart and soul.

He knew very well what would happen, and had known since he first discovered that Sarah had developed amnesia. She would eventually regain her memory and then he would be faced with the horrid reality of losing her only after they had finally been given a chance, despite how fleeting their time had been. Life was cruel, and that was a lesson he had learned many years earlier, when he had lost the original love of his life to the hands of the very queen who now stood before him.

"You have not changed your ways, Cyria. You simply wish to make me ache with hurt that has been inflicted from this confrontation that shall happen at the same damned hour it occurred upon before. If there is any pity in that blackened heart of yours, please, leave me to face her and my destruction alone," Jareth stated and then nearly fell into the throne, placing his head into his hands with desperation. Cyria could not suppress the slight shock that appeared with the words that Jareth had spoken. He still believed her to be the woman she had been before. She had changed her life, her actions, and her morals upon imprisonment for the several hundred years she had remained within the constraining rose. Jareth could not read between what she had told him. He did not understand what she knew he had to do.

"I am not trying to hurt you, Jareth. I simply wish to inform you that all must go as it has before. Do not beg her, plead, or show your love in any way. Show her not how you feel, but rather how you can act using feelings from the past, as she certainly will."

Cyria turned to leave, but caught herself, perhaps remembering something else she wished to tell Jareth. She waited, her cat-like eyes flashing brightly as she debated what to do. With a deep sigh and a swish of her silver sheened hair she looked at the Goblin King with a seriousness set deep in her calm gaze.

"Love is not a fleeting emotion, and cannot be turned off like a light. If she has ever felt anything, truly loved you with all of her being, then there is no way that anything can change that. You are joined by the bond of lovers, passions, romance, something that cannot be broken simply by petty differences that can be just as easily overlooked. This is the hour when you shall have your greatest loss, your final destruction inflicted upon that poor heart, but will all lead to the time when two sides led by such great enemies will be joined together forever by a love stronger than any hate, anger, or hurt that has ever been known and ever will be. Good luck, Jareth," and with that Cyria faded away as footsteps echoed down the hallway.

He was overcome by her words of such insightful and tender meaning. They had touched him, and had boosted his discouraged spirits. If she had found a way to act this kind when he had first met her, then perhaps.... Jareth stopped the thought and settled his mind upon the task at hand.

He could now hear her rushed footsteps as they made their way down the hall, towards his throne room. She was near, drawing ever closer with each passing second. His heart beat increased, and pounded horridly in his ears, bringing all tension to the surface and causing his calm demeanor to all but fade away to nothingness. He would force himself to act, to be the King that she remembered from days gone by. He would be heartless, if that was the role that must be played to regain her broken heart.

"We shall be together, one day," he stated in gentle tones as a shadow was cast before the doorway.

Jareth rose from the throne in lieu of her entrance, which was sure to bring him a shock. She would be different, as he would be, and both would wish for a different life where the past could be gone forever, never to return and haunt the person to which it belongs. Yet, that magical place did not exist, at least not to his knowledge. He would live his life as best he could.

Then she appeared, stepping through the door as if she was the queen of the entire castle and he would do as she said. She was her determined stubborn self once more, and did not care for the man she saw as an enemy. Sarah paused there, but only for a moment, to take in the handsome appearance, and powerful air that surrounded Jareth. Her deep eyes then set on his, and held the gaze that had forced so many into hiding. She was stronger, and had been hurt far too many times by his cruel and heartless ways. Now, after so long, she would leave him behind, Jareth, and his promise of a fairy tale romance.

"Jareth, we come to meet again. It seems as if our lives continue to cross," she stated devoid of emotion and daring another confident step into the room.

Jareth allowed a smug smirk to play across his features. He would play the part as he had done so many times before. He would be the cruel king so that she would be the heroine, defeating him in the end. Yet, at least she would know, if not admit it to herself, that she had loved him once, and in return he had offered her the world along with his heart.

"It seems that the hour has agreed with our little confrontation. Why do you come to see me?" Jareth asked, his voice low and seductive.

A flash of memories, so sweet and wonderful entered her mind upon listening to his luscious voice as if it could melt her right there. She saw them riding together, and the time his hand, so gentle, touched her waist, gliding across the silken material of her dress as he aided her in her dismount from Tripix. She could recall the feel of his lips upon hers and the touch of his hands, as they radiated unbridled and untamed magic, running so freely and so very powerful that it nearly frightened her. This all weakened her anger, and she then forced herself to rise from the daydream and face the reality that was this man and his conniving ways he had used to control her.

"Let me go home, Jareth," she stated calmly, not allowing the shiver his voice had caused to show through her speech.

He saw all, even what she believed she had hidden so very well. He knew what she felt, what she thought, and the times she recalled as he had spoken. Cyria had been correct about the bond they shared, for it very nearly linked their minds. He wondered only briefly if she saw what was passing across his at that very moment, but doubted it. Sarah was closed to any aspect of him, for she had allowed her anger to control her actions.

"Now, Sarah, you know that I cannot do that. I would not be so cruel as to send you to a world you remember nothing about," he taunted.

"I remember everything, no thanks to what you have put me through. Send me home, now!" Sarah demanded as she took a few more determined steps towards Jareth.

He cocked his head as he listened to her anger. She was not speaking wisely, and so could easily be manipulated. He could win, could do so nearly every time with his sly mind. She had bested him once, and had become the only one who could ever claim a true victory over him. He would allow her to become the winning party once again, this time in hopes of turning his loss into a victory in the end.

"Oh, you do?" he questioned simply.

Sarah would not allow this game to continue. She had had enough of his overbearing and controlling personality. Jareth would send her home, and would do so as soon as she ordered him to. He had no power over her, as she had said before and would tell him again. He could not deny what she knew to be true.

"Send me home!" she demanded once again.

"Why, Sarah? Why return to the dull life of school and work? Do you wish to see parents who do not truly care for you, and a town that you know does not fit you? A dreamer as yourself belongs here, in the Underground, where you may experience those darkest dreams that lurk in the back of your mind as you gaze off into space with that almost tranquil look upon that lovely visage," his velveteen accented voice once again lowered, and he approached Sarah with a smile that seemed more predatory than it should have been.

She mumbled a bit, trying in desperation not to lose this battle. Why, after she had defeated him before, could she not do so quickly again. Her mind was swirling, and she felt helpless to draw a single thought out of the lot of confusion. In the mass of thoughts she could see but one thing clearly, and that was the clock, in the corner of the room as it continued to tick and tock its way through life. Upon the face she realized the time, and her entire goal fell before her.

Sarah felt her mind clear and her voice return. She straightened herself and looked at Jareth, once again full of stubborn determination that would not be destroyed. She was powerful, and would defeat the Goblin King once again. Sarah stared at him, catching his mismatched eyes with her own and then smiled, knowing that it was over, at long last.

"Anything is better than remaining here for my life. I would be a prisoner, a slave, ordered by you. I would be no better than any other minion you have toiling about the castle, running endless and pointless errands for your every whim, because your life is nothing, save the corruption of innocence. I was a child, and you attempted to seduce me with your suave actions and debonair ways. But, that was not as horrid and awful as the way you twisted my memory to suite you, so that you might finally have the little prize that slipped through your grasp the last time we were together. There shall be no Sarah for you, Jareth, because I know what you are," she stopped a foot from him, her eyes still locked with his own.

Jareth yearned to reach out and touch her angelic face, to soothe her anger and tell her that he would love her always, if only she could forgive the wrongs that he had done. However, he knew that that was not the way it was to be done. She had a life, and could not simply leave to remain in the Underground. She needed time to allow these wounds to heal, for they were fresh and deep.

"I have never offered you a life as a slave, but rather a counterpart, a companion, but that time is past. What do you wish Sarah, for our time grows short," Jareth remarked as he produced a shimmering crystal.

She gazed into the magical orb, knowing the moment she allowed her eyes to drop that it was a mistake. Time was short, and she also understood that there were only a few scant seconds before thirteen chimes would begin to sound from the nearby clock. Yet, Sarah was all too tempted to see what was displayed within the lovely crystal that sat upon Jareth's graceful hand.

Sarah's eyes filled with wonderment and awe as a garden formed. She could see that it was well kept and more beautiful than any other she could have been shown. This had been produced by magic, and had been returned to a perfect quality by magic as well. She was overwhelmed by the loveliness and the strange attraction she still felt for the garden, but the final tick of the clock droned loudly in her ears and Sarah snapped herself back to reality.

Jareth lowered the crystal as he met her eyes one last time. In that moment, that was not even a second in length, Sarah saw the truth. She had lost her anger, her thoughts, her emotions for only that time and could at last see his mind as he had seen hers. She could understand his feelings, his love, and even the act he now put on for her behalf. It all laid there for her to see and comprehend, and then form into a single picture that would show only love for her, a pure undying love.

Then, with a flash and the first chime of the hour, the wondrous scene was gone and she was left to look only at a man with a somewhat shocked expression on his face, and a strange openness in his eyes. Sarah threw aside the doubt that rose and welled inside of her and cleared her voice to state the final few words that would mean her freedom from this castle, and from Jareth.

"You have no power over me!" Sarah declared in a strong, powerful voice.

Her voice rang through the castle, echoing in strange hollow voices that were warped from her own. It was the last thing she heard before everything went dark and Sarah was gone...

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The faint song of a bird came to her first, and then the painful sensation that still drilled into her hurt head. She could feel rocks, and grass, and a very uncomfortable ground beneath. Every inch of her body ached with a dull sort of agony, that she could bear, but was annoying nonetheless. It was just something she would accept for the while that it remained with her.

Sarah's mind snapped alive and she recalled the castle, the confrontation and the strange darkness that had taken over her entire field of vision. Perhaps she had simply blacked out, but it almost felt as if she had been just torn from one world and placed back into another, and into quite an uncomfortable position at that. Of course, that would mean that she was home.

With that thought in her mind she carefully blinked her eyes opened. The harsh sunlight streamed down upon her eyes, attacking them without a single thought as to how painful it might be. Sarah shielded the brutal rays with a single hand and then looked around at the sparse trees that surrounded her. They were not the lovely lush trees that made up the ancient Underground forests, but instead ones that she remembered from childhood, ones that were not magical but normal.

She placed her other hand firmly upon the rough and harsh ground, in order to prop herself up. Sarah grimaced in the sharp pain that bit at her spine and seared into her muscles. Everywhere she felt weak and hurt, as if the force that had ripped her from the Underground had thrown her out from the sky to land painfully upon the unforgiving ground.

"Am I home, can it truly be?" she asked herself, once again glancing around at the sickly trees that surrounded her.

Once she had believed this forest to be the most lovely she had ever seen. Yet, nothing was the same, when the magical counterpart had been witnessed in all of its glory. She could not say that night was remarkable here, because it had been overwhelming with serenity and crystal splendor in the Underground. Her delusions were ruined, but she was made stronger despite it.

Sarah rose to a sitting position and once again waited for the stiffness and annoying pain to subside. She could not believe that it would be possible to miss the Underground, after all the suffering she sustained in that world. However, a part of her already yearned to return and throw this world aside for all time. It was not to be, for she had already made her choice to live a mundane existence in a simple town where one of her only pleasure was found in the musty realms of an old antique shop.

Sarah firmly grasped the rough bark of a nearby tree to aid her in her struggle to her feet. Surely this pain was not right, for she had felt healthy and strong when facing Jareth just moments earlier. Of course, Sarah had no idea just how much time had passed between then and now.

"It does not matter, all that concerns me is that I am home at long last," Sarah stated and then let go of the supportive tree.

She walked with a determined stride out of the forest where she had first sustained the blow that gave her the gift of amnesia. Sarah had to admit to herself, that missing her past had been wonderful, for she had been able to set aside differences that had since then prevented a relationship with a King who she still could not get out of her mind.

Sarah stopped in her tracks and forced the thoughts about him away. She did not need to think about those things, for he had caused her only grief. Oh, but what a romantic time they had shared. Sarah once again shook her head to rid herself of the strange feelings and then continued out of the forest, and into the full glare of the sunshine.

Sarah broke through the forest and was immediately met with a rolling pasture, covered in fresh green grass. Further in the distance stood the riding stables, where she had so many fond memories of times spent with horses. A thought suddenly struck her mind and she gasped.

"Tripix?" Sarah asked carefully, frightened that she had lost her horse when she had left the Underground.

Not once had she thought about taking her companion with her. Instead she had simply fought her way home and pushed all other concerns aside. Her fear welled within her chest, offering Sarah renewed strength and a rush of adrenaline as she sprinted towards the barn and the stall that had once been home to her horse.

Her vision fogged and cleared, only to swirl into strange colors and unusual shapes that were unknown to her. She had only to think about Tripix and the strange lump would form in her throat and her legs would pump all the quicker, trying desperately to reach the stable. The pain faded to nothingness, and the tenderness in her muscles were suddenly no longer present. She only ran, into the barn and down the aisles, past countless horses as they nickered and jumped back in fear of the person who had just rushed by.

Sarah skirted past a stablehand who had only just emerged from one stall, with a heavy wheelbarrow and a pitchfork clutched firmly in one hand. He glared at the girl as she continued to make her panicked flight through the barn. However, he had work to do and money to make to pay the bills. With a scoff he turned and latched the stall door behind himself.

She paid no attention to the anger the stablehand had demonstrated towards her running in the barn. She skidded to a halt and allowed herself only a few deep breaths in preparation to glance into the stall that would reveal whether or not her horse had returned with her. Sarah gradually stepped towards it, her heart beating at an unnatural pace and her breath coming in short struggled gasps.

"Please, please," she silently begged as she neared the stall.

From the darkness of the stall came a sigh, and the sound of a horse shaking as it rose from a good roll through the fresh rice hulls that served as bedding. Sarah paused, listening attentively for any signs that this might be her dear friend behind the door. However, her anxiety was overwhelming and she could wait no longer to see what laid beyond the door.

With a burst of energy and hope she rushed before the door and peered inside. A young horse, nearly white in color and accented with spots of the most beautiful red roan and chestnut, peered at her with an almost human expression. She nickered gently and then trotted quickly to the door, to great her master.

"Tripix, I thought that I had lost you," Sarah muttered as she rubbed a shaking hand across the horses' soft muzzle.

The horse allowed a gentle breath to sweep across her skin. It tickled her hand and warmed her entire arm. The air of love, as it could be called, shared between two that trusted each other with their lives, which is the bond between horse and rider. It was possibly the closest that one might ever become to an animal, when compared to dogs, cats, or any other that might be called a pet.

Then, as suddenly as she had discovered herself home, found her horse, and calmed her heightened nerves, Sarah felt a hand fall on her shoulder with an abruptness that nearly forced a scream from her full lips. Sarah drew her hand back as if by instinct and jumped around, ready to face the potential attacker.

Sarah's wild gaze fell on the person who had dared to frighten her so. She paused, the moment their eyes met, and very nearly collapsed. Her legs were drained of all strength, and she was left shivering in anxiety and left over adrenaline that still pumped through her system. Yet, Sarah dropped her hands from their protective positions and slouched back against the door, shutting it the rest of the way.

"M-Maddi?" Sarah's voice wavered as an onslaught of tears attacked her with a ravaging and un-called for suddenness.

The old woman beamed with happiness, an emotion she had believed was lost when Sarah originally disappeared. Her eyes, so tender and caring, shone with tears of joy. Maddi tightened her lips in an attempt to keep her calm composure, but was helpless, for her relief was overpowering. She rushed forward and took the young woman in her arms.

Sarah wrapped her shuddering hands around her dear friend's neck and laid her head upon her shoulder. She did not know what all the tears were meant for, but understood that far too many were the product of memories of a damned romance she had shared with the infamous Goblin King.

"It's all right, Sarah. I'm here, and you're safe now," she soothed, with tender pats on Sarah's hitching back.

Sarah could not speak, so instead clutched Maddi's simple blouse with a more fierce need than she had ever displayed before. She had to be safe, had to be soothed by someone she thought of as a mother. Only Maddi could make this hurt subside, if only for a short time.

However, a strange nagging question circled through her mind as she continued to cry into Maddi's shoulder. Sarah could not push aside the inquiry, for she could not understand why the woman would appear here at the exact time Sarah was returned home. It was too much of a coincidence to say that that was just the way it had happened, pure luck.... or perhaps fate.

Sarah released her grip and stepped away from the loving embrace. She swiped at the tears that still rolled delicately across her lovely youthful face. She then cleared her throat and hitched in a few shaking breaths, in an attempt to calm herself and gather the thoughts that still rushed around in a wild jumble.

"Maddi, h-how....?" Sarah began but could not finish the question, for Maddi stepped towards her and silenced her with a slight hush.

"I have long believed in magic, other realms, and fantasy, and know that you are touched by that love of those things as well," Maddi began, and then once again silenced Sarah's shocked words with a finger to her lips, "I saw in you, the moment you stepped into my store, that there was something else within you, some brilliant shimmering light that could very well be a touch of magic delivered by some fantastic being, or perhaps the jewel of your wondrous future, that would lead to lands that are beyond most of these dull people's minds."

Maddi paused as she took in Sarah's utter concentration on all she had said. She was not sure how to procede, so merely swallowed back any worries and cleared her old throat. Sarah edged in a bit closer as Maddi began to speak once again.

"There is someone out there who loves you deeply, and will not allow you to be alone, ever. If a love that can span two worlds, and can exist with such a strength and shocking clarity, then it is worth struggling to make work. Let me simply say, that I received a magical gift, a crystal ball, that told me all that I need to know about you and your past, and where you would be when you returned to me, and your family," Maddi finished with a sigh.

Sarah was utterly struck with silence. She could not find the words to explain just what she felt inside after hearing this little bit of information. Maddi herself believed that Jareth cared for Sarah, something that Sarah was not even sure of. How could it be that he would know the exact place and time she would be brought home, even before she knew that she would return? A shiver made its way up her spine as she sensed the overwhelming power of Jareth's magic.

She turned her blurry eyes to Maddi, a sadness suddenly seeping into her heart. She had thrown him aside, had been given the truth for that moment before thirteen had struck upon the clock, and had ignored all. Now, she would be forced to forever regret what she had once held in her hands.

Maddi seemed to read what Sarah was thinking and instinctively walked forward and took the sobbing girl into her arms. Once again she soothed Sarah, with the tenderness she had once bestowed upon her own children, and still would show to them had they still been alive. Maddi had originally believed that she would forever be grievous, should Sarah be gone forever, but now as she saw how much the woman cared for this magical King in a faraway fantastic land, her only wish was for Sarah to return to that kingdom.

"One day this hurt will be gone, and you will be able to go on with your life. I promise," Maddi stated, forcing Sarah to look at her in the eyes.

Sarah nodded, but truly did not believe that she would ever love again. She had thrown away her second chance, and now would live life alone. She would not attempt any other romance, for all would seem so false when compared to the fairytale relationship she had been part of, if only for a few fleeting weeks.

Sarah could only fake a smile and then break from the tender hug that had been offered by this angelic woman. It was time to move on, and not dwell on the past. How she wished that her amnesia had remained, that she could have ignored what had happened, and instead focused on what laid in the future for herself and Jareth. However, what's done was done, and that was that.

"I think that it is about time that I go home, Maddi," Sarah responded and then took the old woman's hand in her own.

Maddi agreed with a brisk nod of her head and they turned to leave the barn and step into the future.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Jareth stood dejected in the darkened shadows of the throne room, staring at the clock, that still insisted to chime away to thirteen. However, to him, time had stopped when she left once again. He was a lonely broken man who wished only to have the one thing that he would never own, a normal life.

The final ringing chime of the thirteenth hour struck and echoed like a dead note all throughout the castle. It touched him deeper than any other tone could ever, and would ever do. This was the time of his demise, his destruction, his loss. The hour of despair, and nothing more. This hour of thirteen forever would show the time when the Goblin King had faced his greatest defeat...twice!

"You look as if the sun itself has stopped shining, and the Underground has been destroyed. Surely life is not that bad," Cyria stated as she stepped into the strangely cold room where Jareth stood, gazing still at the clock.

She stopped beside him and gently touched a lock of golden hair that shimmered from the flickering light cast by the torches that lined the stone walls. Jareth paid her no heed, nor did he turn from her and push her hand aside. He seemed so very alone, so very lost, and without any hope in the entire world.

Cyria removed her hand from his hair and instead turned to look at the clock with him. Obviously there was something interesting, other than the fact that it had changed to it's final hour before returning to the beginning. It was quite strange that the clock had so very much in common with Jareth and his painful predicament.

"This clock has been around a long time, and all the while it reaches a plateau, only to fall back to the beginning. Again and again it thinks that it has reached the highest point in its life, the most enjoyable times, only to plummet to the rocks that scratch and hurt, the pains it must suffer when forced to begin from the lowest realms of the smallest number. However, it continues to go on, trying to resume it's high point at the top, at thirteen o'clock," Cyria pointed to the infamous hour and then turned her flashing eyes to Jareth to make sure he had understood all she said.

Jareth offered the clock a bored glance, but truly did not care what was said. To him, life was over, never to be the same again after all he had gone through. This clock, and whatever Cyria was trying to say certainly would not change anything. However, he gave her the courtesy of listening to what she had to say and wait until she had finished to leave.

Cyria glared at Jareth, angered that he should not listen to her wisdom. Surely her age would hint at some form of knowledge. Jareth was stubborn to the end, much the same as the girl he had only just lost. Yet, she would not let his attitude get the better of her calm manner. She would simply continue with her speech and allow Jareth to gather the hidden meaning that laid in the depths of her words.

"Perhaps," she began again, "sometimes it might feel that it cannot go on another thirteen long hours, only to fall again, and yearns to stop the painful existence it leads. Yet, how often has it ceased its endless job that is so like our life? Never once did it break during my rule, and still it exists to this day, still toiling around in a circle, but never once giving up. Perhaps, Jareth, you must start from the beginning and give up all that you now have, to raise back to that high point of happiness that you once found yourself upon,"

Cyria offered Jareth a sly grin, knowing that what she had said had made at least some sense. She could see the shock in his face as the hidden meaning sunk in and he began to fully understand what she had been trying to explain. Once again she had been able to respond to even the most difficult situations.

Jareth continued to gaze at the face of the ageless timepiece, so tall and magnificent, and yet so simple. He lowered his eyes to the ground, contemplating what Cyria had said, and her wise words which he had almost chosen to ignore completely. She had knowledge in abundance, and gladly offered it to Jareth when he could use in times of great need.

A faint smile, perhaps only a ghost of what it once had been, formed on Jareth's noble face. His clear blue eye lit with a series of lightning flashes, while the deep chocolate was highlighted with hues of golden perfection. His hope returned, and his spirits rose, though he still remained upon the bottom of his life and faced quite a hike uphill to reach that happiness of which Cyria had spoken.

He then turned to face the wise queen, his slight smile shining brilliantly against his alabaster skin. Jareth placed his gentle, silken hands upon her lovely face and gazed into the strange cat-like eyes that had haunted his dreams and formed nightmares ever since he had banished her to the rose prison. Now, as he looked at her, and saw the caring nature that had waited so long to show itself and aid those who were in need, he could not hold back the happiness that sprung into every corner of his being.

He pressed his lips firmly to her own, in thanks for all she had done to help. Cyria startled a bit, but savored the sweet taste of his lips, and the giddiness that rose within herself, as this fantasy finally came true. She had known from the moment she first saw him that she could have loved him, had she given herself the chance.

The sweet moment ended all too soon for the queen, as she felt Jareth draw away, and his hands fall from her face. Still she felt warmth all over, and her cheeks tingled from where the magical aura that covered his body still left it's traces. Even though he had been cut down, and very nearly thrown aside to the trash, still the magic was stronger in him than it had ever been in another. He would forever have the gifts it offered and the power at his fingertips.

"I thank you from the very depths of my heart and will forever be in debt to you and your generousity, milady," he stated with a respectable bow.

Cyria could only mumble in response, for she still was overtaken by the kiss he had bestowed only a short time earlier. She wavered on her feet, feeling almost faint, despite her general hard nature. Jareth had touched her, as she had never been in hudreds of years. She waved him away with a slight movement of one lithe hand and then balanced herself with the throne.

"Good luck, and God Speed!" she called, catching her breath and calming her beating heart.

Jareth stopped at the doorway, already appearing years younger and more sure of himself than he had been in at least a hundred years. Surely, this was how life was meant to be. His eyes shone with a vibrancy that he had not known since before Shay took her own life in a simple cottage so very long ago. He was a renewed man, with a goal, and a future after long last.

He then offered her one last smile and turned to leave down the hall. Cyria watched in awe, as he left her sight, perhaps forever. She did not know how she could ever allow him to go, after that kiss, after that moment they shared together. She started after him, but knew that it was already too late.

"Jareth!" she called, despite the obvious lateness of her response.

She heard nothing, and saw no sign of him either. Jareth was already gone, left to renew the love that he shared with only one person, and that one was certainly not herself. Cyria sighed deeply and thought about the lonely throne she would retake, upon Jareth's absence. After all this time, she was back to where she started, a recluse queen with only goblins over which to rule.

Then a hand touched her shoulder, and she very nearly screamed once more from the surprise. Cyria twisted about and found herself once again facing Jareth. His eyes flashed mischeiviously and a strange half-smile had formed upon his thin lips. Cyria's breath was taken away and she drew it in sharply.

"You called me, or was I mistaken?" Jareth questioned, his voice low and intoxicating in its silken pleasures that caressed over her and forced a tingling sensation to make its way across her creamy skin.

Cyria only nodded and then struggled to recall what it was she wanted to tell Jareth that was of such great importance. Certainly there was something that she yearned to say to him, before he left. She thought, but could not come up with anything that would justify the anxious tone that had touched her voice that he should stop in his tracks and return.

She could feel his gaze upon her and his impatience that started to form as she wasted precious time. After long last a thought burst to her mind and she looked into his powerful eyes, smiling despite her obvious sadness. Cyria cleared her throat and straightened herself to present the important piece of news.

"I just wanted you to know, that no matter where you go and how much time should pass, you shall always be the Goblin King, in my heart, as well as all your subjects. Jareth, I am simply keeping the throne while you are away, and when you do return, I will gladly hand it back, for I do not long to rule anymore, in this lonely castle. Good bye," she whispered and then turned to sit in the throne.

Jareth offered her a soft smile in return for the kindness she had shown, even after their rocky past. He bent to one knee before her and took a single delicate hand in his own. Cyria watched with widened eyes and a gasp that she held back through gritted teeth. He gently held her hand between his own and then turned his magnifecently hypnotizing gaze to her own. A fury of emotions exploded within the depths of those crystallized and magical eyes of the Goblin King.

He released the hold of her hand and produced a single crystal sphere. It twirled about on his fingers, as if it floated a few scant centimeters off of his fngertips. It shone with a lovely silver illumination that highlighted his noble, handsome features with a magical shine. Cyria found herself drawn to the crystal and tentitively reached out to touch it with one slender hand.

"Remember me always," Jareth demanded as he allowed her to take the gift from his open hand.

Cyria nodded as she gazed at the lovely present. It reflected it's light in her widened eyes, shining with the serenity of the moon, and the mysteries of the deepest realms of the uncharted seas. She allowed a faint happiness to touch her lonely soul and then turned her gaze back to Jareth, perhaps to thank him, or to tell him that she would never be able to forget him and his impact on her neverending life.

Once again he had taken her by surprise, for when she looked to where he had kneeled before her, he was gone. Jareth had left, to find the love that she had demanded he fight for. She had been foolish to set him off to find Sarah, for she could have had him here with her. However, something about what she had done felt right. It was almost as if she had finally found the goodness in herself, and now would use it to its fullest extent.

"I hope that you can find happiness," Cyria whispered as she once again looked to the crystal that he had given her.

Outside, the monotonous darkness of night was momentarily broken by the gentle faint whiteness of an owl, flying to his future and creating a new destiny for himself and the woman he would soon find.

Chapter Thirty

Sarah awakened to the sound of laughter and popping of bacon in the kitchen. The rest of her family had long since been up and about, while she struggled to get out of bed and rise to face another day. There was just so much that she regretted, as each day lagged by, with the excitement of a slug.

She silently punished herself for being bitter. After all, what was there to want, other than something interesting to occur, perhaps some magic to reenter her life. Of course, magic only came about with hearbreak, and Sarah was certain that she could not handle anymore of the latter. Surely, she would mend the damage that had been inflicted upon her poor tender heart, and would someday move on, but that time seemed so very far away.

"I was better off not remembering who I was," Sarah moaned and then collapsed back on top of the bed.

The merry sounds of a happy family downstairs rushed up to her awaiting ears and tugged at her heart. They had all been so very good to her, and now she wished to leave them for some untrustworthy Goblin King, who had not even tried to make her stay with him. He had been cruel, and had not even told her how much he had loved her, or how much she had meant to him.

"Maybe I meant nothing," the horrid little thought attacked Sarah's mind and sent that bit of doubt into her fantasy.

It had been so romantic, and so free of hardships, as if the world revolved around the two of them. However, had it meant anything to him? Jareth always used people to acheive what he had wanted. What if Sarah had been but something to win over, and then toss away as if she were garbage, and not a human with feelings and love.

A new wave of tears washed over her and she grabbed the pillow and hugged it tightly against her chest. Life was not fair, for she would never know what Jareth had thought when he said he loved her, and then allowed her to leave without the least little bit of begging for her to remain. Warm tears trickled down Sarah's cheek, and she allowed them to remain, for she did not wish to stop the sadness that now attacked her.

"Oh, Jareth, why?!" she demanded with another sob.

A sharp knock upon her simple bedroom door stopped the tears right in their midst. She swallowed back her sobs and quickly rose from her reclining position on the bed. She did not want everyone to think that she had lost her mind at the same time she had lost her memory. After all, she had been back only five short days, and still was trying to get used to everything that was so very different from the castle in which she had lived for nearly a month.

"Yes?" she asked as she cleared the remainder of the tears from her throat.

The door opened a crack and her stepmother's face appeared, a concerned look showing its way through her eyes. Her brows were furrowed in worry. It was obvious that she had heard Sarah's little breakdown and the name she had called out when the tears had reached their climax.

Karen opened the door a bit further and offered Sarah an obviously worried smile. She held an old and dampened dish towel in her hands, all the while wringing it with a nervous monotony. Her golden hair was touseled about her head, and a smear of flour streaked her cheek, giving Karen the true appearance of a mother. She shut the door gently behind herself and then glanced back at Sarah.

"I heard you say something. It sounded like you were upset," she stuttered, not entirely sure as to which way she should continue.

Karen had not been able to forgive herself since Sarah had returned, for the awful way they had seperated. She had changed, and most of the time the way she spoke very nearly frightened her stepdaughter more than it should. It sounded as if Karen was constantly afraid that Sarah would hear some strange meaning in her words and decide that now was the time to run away from home, so that her father would then blame her stepmother for her dissapearance.

Sarah tried desperately to calm Karen's heightened nerves. She offered her a slght smile to attempt to sweeten their relationship. Everything felt tense, as if the entire room was closing in on them. A blanket of silence that was so entirely thick one had to scream to be heard, would drop over the two at horrid times. Sarah cleared her throat to break the overwhelming anxiety and the strange foggy quietness that had crept in once again.

"I was just thinking about things," Sarah responded.

She ran a single finger over the well cleaned cotton sheet that now laid in a crumpled heap at the foot of her bed. She had had dreams, once again. They had begun the moment she went to sleep on her first day home, and now came whenever Sarah managed to slip off into slumber.

Karen sat down beside her and very nearly placed an arm over her stepdaughter's shoulders. She hesitated and then mechanically placed her arm back down beside herself. There was no need to press a close relationship upon the girl right after she had remembered her home and found her way back. Sarah had been through a lot, after all, and some strange behaviors would be expected.

"As long as you're okay, then I suppose I better get back down there and finish cleaning up. Are you coming down for breakfast?" Karen questioned as she rose from her spot on the bed.

Sarah seemed to break herself from a daydream. She brought her eyes up to meet Karen's in a slow, almost drugged movement. With a slight shake of her head she brought herself back to her senses. It was almost as if she could not think clearly any longer. Her mind continually slipped off into a fantasy world, one that she had left of her own accord because she thought it was for the best to leave that place in the past. Now it only seemed that she had made the biggest mistake of her life.

She shook her head in response to Karen, and then returned to gazing off into nothingness. Her mind moved with a sluggish pace, as if it had yet to awaken. All she could understand was that Karen still stood before her, wringing her hands and biting her lips. Yet, the sounds, sights, everything, seemed to have faded away, leaving her alone in this room and in a mask of darkness.

"Well, then I guess I'll see you downstairs when you feel up to it," Karen stammered as she opened the door once more and made her way out.

She paused briefly outside, her worried eyes trailing over Sarah's so very still frame, and the strange expression that had found it's way to the young woman's face. This was not the same Sarah who had left the house, but rather one that seemed broken, so very changed. She no longer had the special fire that burned within, nor did she have her determination, stubbornness, all those personality traits that made Sarah.... Sarah.

"Take your time, Sarah. We'll be down there, if you need to talk about...anything," Karen stated once more before closing the door behind herself.

Sarah only nodded once again, though her stepmother could no longer see the movement. Thoughts formed again and again in her mind, and tried to present themselves, but then fell back to oblivion. She truly felt as if she had been drugged, and very nearly broke the spell with a worry that she would pass out from the dizziness that swept across her in an intense wave.

A single form, some lovely smile, broke through all the rest of the jumble that had overtaken her sleepy mind. She could see the old woman's kindly face and her wrinkled skin, her dingy clothes that she had always tried to keep clean and presentable for what few clients happened to come into the store for novelty's sake. Everything about the woman spoke of caring, and tenderness, a love that burst out like a brilliant light from every smile she bestowed upon her friends. She was like gingerbread, and fresh cookies, calming embraces, and a shoulder that one could cry upon.

"Maddi," Sarah whispered, and then brought her deep chocolate eyes out of their trance-like stare and looked at the clock at her bedside.

She leapt from the bed with a start. Sarah had meant to visit Maddi for several days now. In fact, she had promised to come down to the antique shop and help with a new shipment that had arrived only last week. Sarah silently cursed herself for being so forgetful, especially when Maddi was involved. The woman had no one else left in her life, and Sarah did so love to spend time with her.

She paused briefly in the middle of pulling a sweater on over her thin Tee shirt and glanced in the mirror. The person staring back looked like a strange impostor, trying to seem like Sarah, but lacking everything that was always what made her so very noticeable. She still was lovely, with a gentle face, and shimmering chestnut hair. However, her soul, or maybe the whole aura of fantasy she had always held about her had disappeared. At any rate, the image laid before Sarah's eyes only scared her, and she tore her gaze away from the betraying mirror.

"What has happened to me? Why can I not go on with my life?" Sarah asked herself, being careful to keep her voice at a soft whisper.

She struggled with a fresh onslaught of tears as she made her way down the stairs. There was nothing left to say to anyone, for she herself had no idea what was happening. It felt like a piece of her had died upon leaving the Underground and Jareth. A piece of her heart had been cut out, and now all that remained was a hollowed shell, unable to feel or care. She was not real any longer, without that piece of humanity. In fact, she was nothing but another face in the crowd, a young girl who had finally allowed herself to be destroyed by society and realism.

She swiped away a single tear as she rushed down to the entry way and through the door. All Sarah needed was to be seen, and questioned once again as to where exactly she was going. Her parents did not trust her, and they were smart to think that way. She herself no longer trusted what she thought about, and what would happen next. Karen caught a streak of movement out of the corner of her eye and whipped around to watch the front door slam shut. A single china plate, still covered in peanut butter from the morning's toast slipped from her hands and plummeted to it's demise upon the hard linoleum floor. The delicate dish shattered to millions of pieces, covering the ground and tinkling, as if a soft rain all around her feet.

"Sarah!" she yelled, ignoring the hazardous condition the broken plate portrayed for Toby.

She ran to the door, tossing the dish towel to the ground and threw it open. Yet, as she had known, it was already too late. The screech of tires followed her pleas for Sarah to return, and the car disappeared around the corner. Karen was left with only worries and the broken plate that still laid scattered all across the floor.

"Please, be careful," she muttered, and then securely shut the door.

* * * * * * *

Sarah glanced in the rear-view mirror and brushed back a piece of stray chestnut hair that had been caught in the wind. She forced her eyes away from the mirror, in fear that she might see the changes that had attacked her soul once again in the truthful reflection.

Life itself seemed to pass by as she drove, speeding along the country road into town. Surely she would have gotten quite a ticket if a cop had been out patrolling the streets. However, luck had been with her, for once, and she turned (or rather squealed) onto the main road.

Sarah's mind spun with countless worries that mounted again and again and then swirled about in her stomach. She felt as if she would pass out from the sudden light feeling that overtook her head, and then faded to nothing, only to return again and taunt her. The road before her eyes blurred to nothingness, and then warped into some strange twisting ribbon of gray and black that flowed in the wind and drove her car from side to side....

"Stop it!" she demanded, slapping her cheek abruptly to draw herself out of the anxiety attack that had threatened to take control of her.

There was so much to doubt now, and so few things that actually made her feel stable any more. Her home, though it seemed so happy and inviting, had turned into a dreadful darkened place she was forced to return to and dwell within its solemn atmosphere. Her only sanctuary rested in the caring gaze of Maddi and her quaint antique shop, and riding her beloved horse.

Once again she was snapped out of her thoughts by the scream of several terrified pedestrians. Sarah drew her eyes to the road and immediately slammed both her shivering feet on to the brakes. The car skidded to a halt, and turned around, so that Sarah was left looking at the road she had only just traveled upon.

With a shuddering gasp for air, she turned about and watched as several people glared at her and whispered cruel comments under their breath. Yet, their statements did not phase her in the least, for her own body felt as if it had undergone far too much shock for the day. Her hands shook uncontrollably on the steering wheel, and her stomach lurched about with a horrid sickening feeling.

"Please, just get me there safely," she begged and then carefully turned the car back around.

Sarah watched the crowds of people as they ogled her, and her poor driving abilities. Mothers tsked and shook their heads, while others felt too embarrassed to make eye contact. There was not a smile to be seen. She tore her eyes away from the sidewalks and allowed her car to inch forward, terrified that should she speed up then there would be a terrible accident, no more close calls.

She pulled the car into a parking space and leapt free of the terrible metal beast that had nearly cost her her life. There was no need to drive, for she had enjoyed walking, and riding in the Underground. Yet, life was so different here, everything was so strange, though she had lived the vast majority of her life in this small town and in that house.

"Sarah," a faint whispered wind drifted by, and her name rode upon it.

The voice was so lovely, and accented to seductive tones. It sounded so lonely, as if begging her to add her own speech to it. However, she could do nothing of the sort, only stood there and listened as it faded with the breeze that had arisen so very strangely from an entirely still day.

Sarah strained to see if the voice would repeat itself, perhaps tell her where it had gone. She could already tell who had called to her, for there was no other man who's mere speech could cause shivers to race across her spine and goosebumps spread across her arms. It had been Jareth, and the thought of him, and all she had left so hastily, formed a lump in her throat.

"Jareth?" she asked in a voice only a tremor above a whisper.

A couple of elderly people edged past her, glancing at the strange girl who spoke to the air as if it were a long lost lover. Sarah listened, praying silently that he might hear her heartfelt pleas of sorrow. She did not wish to lose him, not again, not after this chance that they had been offered. Yet, there was no other chance for them. Sarah hung her head as the silence covered her in a mocking spite.

She turned her bleary, tear stained eyes towards the dingy antique store. A thin crack ran down the center of the display window, adding to the run-down appearance. In fact, something different had overtaken the store while Sarah had been away. The drapes had all been drawn, and the lovely artifacts that had been found beneath piles of junk, those that generally adorned the display window, were nowhere to be seen. Yet, a thin cardboard sign was left, resting in the corner of the door, as if it had every right to be there.

Sarah's breath caught in her throat as she read the four simple letters that had been fashioned upon the red sign. Her heart broke, her mind swam, and for a brief moment, she truly believed that she would faint right on that spot. Yet, she staggered forward and grasped the door frame in one whitened hand, still gazing in horror at the sign that had been placed on the door.

"It can't be," Sarah muttered, once again drawing attention from passer-bys who listened to her as she talked to herself.

There was no denying the proof, which was the sign. All she had to do was feel the smooth plastic that coated the front of the terrible piece of cardboard to understand that it was permanent, never to be reversed. She bit her lips and fought to control the tears that once again sprung into action, as she read the four little letters over and over again.

"Sold!"

Chapter Thirty-One

It was as if a weight of enormous proportions just suddenly collapsed on top of her. Sarah could not breathe, nor could she move. She was only capable of gazing at that sign with a look of idiocy and utter shock covering her lovely features. Her world truly was falling down, and now she did not even have Jareth to lean on as she plummeted further and further into darkness and despair.

Sarah broke her emotional paralysis suddenly, and almost succeeded in tripping over her own feet in the process of approaching the door. She was frightened, and could hardly manage to get within reaching distance of the horrid blaring sign that seemed to mock her with silence. It was like a strange, yet so very powerful barrier maintaining the space between herself and the store at a satisfactory distance.

She carefully reached out a shaking hand, more than half expecting to feel a magical aura surrounding the store that would halt her hand before she could touch it. Sarah bit her lip and tried in desperation to force herself to continue on, and hide the thousands of unknown fears that all welled up within her soul at one time.

"Come on," she silently urged herself and forced her hand to scrape against the smooth chestnut wood that had been crafted into this lovely old door.

Her imaginary barrier faded to nothingness the moment she touched the wood, if only for the shortest amount of time. Sarah quickly withdrew her hand and held the tips of her fingers in the other. She examined them with the care of a mother, scrutinizing for any signs of damage, anything out of the ordinary.

There was nothing on her hand, and she had known before looking at her fingers that she was still fine. Sarah dropped her hands and then fixed her determined gaze back to the sign and the door, and the room beyond the door in which she had spent so many hours of so many days. It was her past, and she had given up everything to remember. Now she would have her prize, even if just for a day.

With a haste she had not used since then, Sarah rapped anxiously on the wooden door. The sound came back hollow, not like the once cheerful and almost melodious echoes that rang throughout the store before....before this sign had found its residence in this lovely little window.

She held her clenched fist on the door, not able to break contact with the store that she loved with all her heart and soul. Sarah could almost imagine that as long as she was able to feel it, if only a piece of it, she could be eternally happy. She ran her hands over the door and waited, hoping more than she had ever dared to do so, that Maddi still dwelled within.

"Maddi, why?" Sarah asked, still caressing the door and oblivious to the peculiar looks she was receiving from passing by neighbors, and strangers.

Then the door was different, not the same tender piece of wood that Maddi's husband had crafted so very long ago into this intricately designed door. A foreign throbbing sensation surrounded it, as if it had become part of the wood. Sarah's gentle yet disenchanted eyes opened wide in fear, as the feeling caressed her palms and then rushed throughout her entire body.

Her arms prickled in gooseflesh and a shiver coursed down her back. Sarah was unable to move and tear her hands away from this enchantment that had attacked her so suddenly. Even as she tried in vain to leave, her curiosity was roused by the familiarity between this and something else she had recently experienced.

"Magic, wild, unbridled magic," she whispered, as she ceased her struggles and simply allowed the magic to bathe her entirely in its splendor. It was like being held by the incantation. She was filled with the sweet scents of Underground summers, and the music that drifted in small catchy tunes all around one as they traveled through a feral landscape, that was yet to be domesticated by callous people with foolish plans and no true belief in fairy tales.

It was Jareth. She could feel his presence in the waves of such pleasure that washed over her again and again. She could feel him in every way, his every aspect of his being was with her in that time that she was one with the Underground. His love, his power, and even his confusing way that he acted around her, she could feel them all and she could understand at long last so many things she had not known before.

Suddenly the door was swung open, and the intoxicating connection was snapped. Sarah lurched forward as she felt herself fall back into normalcy. She was not a magical being able to live in the Underground. She was simply Sarah Williams, who lived in a dull town and had lost all that she had ever wanted because she had been infantile and unforgiving.

Maddi stared in shocked astonishment at the young woman who seemed as if she would faint at any moment. She very nearly rushed forward to catch Sarah in her tired arms, but luckily did not have to go that far. Sarah quickly steadied herself against the wall of the store and then fixed her tired gaze on Maddi.

"Sarah...I was expecting you sooner," Maddi replied and then opened the door a bit more to allow her friend entrance.

Sarah struggled inside, all the time remembering the sign outside, and what it meant for the future of the antique shop. She could not be comfortable, no matter how wonderful it felt to be within these walls again.

Sarah glanced around, and instantly her heart plummeted once again. She felt as if she could die right on that spot, and never regret not living her life to its fullest extent. The store was near bare, with only a few stray items scattering the ground and the remaining shelves.

"What happened while I was gone?" Sarah asked as she walked in awe around the store that had once been cluttered and almost overwhelmingly crowded.

She touched the chest that had once held countless unknown treasures. Mostly junk, to any shallow person who would happen to glance within its depths, but that was not true. This had been a trove of imagination, and so many possibilities for games and hours of fun. Sarah withdrew her hand from its leather surface and stared at the spot of clean tan color that was left from her finger's imprints in the layer of dust.

Maddi walked carefully behind Sarah, hoping that the girl would find some way to forgive her. There had been no other way, other than bankruptcy, and then Maddi would have lost so much more. She could only hope that Sarah would understand and would be able to go on with her life, lacking this store.

"I had it up for sale ever since you disappeared, Sarah. I was utterly depressed and knew that there was no way I could go on without you. I'm broke, and someone was interested. It was bought the day you returned, and I am to be out by tomorrow," Maddi finished with a long sigh of despair.

Sarah only responded with a nod of her head. She had caught something out of the corner of her eye. It laid on one of the last large bookshelves, at the very top. Sarah rushed over to it and strained to see just what it was that had been left behind.

She jumped a single time, and reached out to tap the old book to the dusty ground. A fine cloud of grime rose around the book, and drifted through the faint tendrils of sun that found their way through the dingy windows. It appeared as gold in the sunlight, another treasure to be found in the old antique shop.

Sarah only briefly enjoyed the sight and then scooped her find up into her hands. It struck a nerve deep in her soul, and almost brought fresh tears to her cloudy eyes. The entire day had been emotional, and the piece of literature that she held in her hands had the potential to push her over the edge and lose her final hold she had on her sanity.

"Sarah?" Maddi questioned with growing concern as she noticed the alien gleam of chaos in Sarah's gaze.

There was no answer, and Maddi was left to only watch as Sarah rubbed her hand over the blue velvet cover that encased this book. She was entirely absorbed in how it looked and how it felt, and even more what the title was. She turned it over again and gazed at fine silver lettering on the cover, tracing her shaking finger over them as she read to herself.

"Labyrinth," she said again and then smiled to herself.

This was not her book. She could tell just from the feeling that it emanated as she held it tightly in her hands. This was another, one she had not found previously in the store. She did not know why she had missed it, for after originally reading `Labyrinth', Sarah had searched the entire store for another, a sequel.

The shrill musical chimes of the silver bells that still remained poised over the door, broke Sarah out of her trance. She and Maddi turned in unison towards the person who had only just entered the store. He was clothed in a long coat, and remained hidden mostly in dark shadows at the other end of the store.

"I'll be right back, dear," Maddi stated as she patted Sarah tenderly on the back and then quickly placed a warm smile on her face.

Sarah watched with vague interest as Maddi welcomed the gentlemen and then invited him to come sit down and talk over a few things. It was quite possible that this man had bought her store, and now had dropped by to be sure that she would rush with her moving. Sarah grimaced in disgust and then threw the book carelessly to the ground.

She rose to her legs, not concerned with how weak she had felt from the shock earlier. Sarah would not let this man boss Maddi around as if she did not deserve respect. The woman had every right to take her time. This store was important to her, and Sarah was sure to make this horrid outsider understand.

"How dare you come here now!" Sarah stated in a cold, cruel voice that broke the conversation between Maddi and the stranger.

The two turned to look at the angered girl and Maddi tried desperately to silence her. Yet, Sarah would not listen to the pleas. She stalked forward and pointed an accusing finger at the man. He still remained hidden in shadows, as if they were part of his attire. It was difficult to speak to someone who's entire face was cloaked in darkness.

However, despite his ominous appearance and the threatening way Sarah had chosen to speak, she could hear a faint musical chuckle surrounding him. Sarah's mouth dropped at the blatant show of disrespect this man had bestowed upon her. She was not able to take such an attitude.

"You should have the decency to allow Maddi time to part with her life. After all you have done, taking this away, the least you could do would be to give her some time," Sarah yelled, now angered beyond the point of rational speaking.

Maddi rose to her feet and grabbed Sarah by her shoulders. She tried to lead the young fuming girl away, but was not powerful enough to fight with her. Maddi then tried to step between the two, but Sarah skirted around her, all the while sneering at this shadowed man who was too rude to even speak to her.

"Should I?" he finally asked, in a low voice, that held the faintest traces of a lovely accent.

Sarah was momentarily taken aback. The tone of the voice had sounded so very familiar, but it was so different and new as well. She would not let this man see her in this stunned state. Sarah quickly regained herself and set her jaw at the teasing way he was handling the situation.

Maddi finally stepped away and waited for the problem to end. She was not in the best of health, and could not try to prevent a fight anymore. She sat back in her chair and prayed for Sarah to be respectful and not ruin everything that Maddi had carefully planned out with this man and the purchase of her shop.

"You should leave now!" Sarah demanded and then threw the door open with a bit too much power.

It slammed violently against the wall and rattled the very window that was placed within it. The Sale sign toppled to the ground, the pristine white side remaining with its face up, and the other away. Sarah looked down at the symbol of her anger and then back to Maddi.

The man had risen to his feet and now was frightening at this height as Sarah strode defiantly back to him. She herself entered the strange shadows that he had hidden himself in, and then crossed her arms over her chest.

"Leave," she whispered, and then pointed towards the still open door that was waiting for him.

The man looked at her, with his faceless dark stare for such a long time. He truly gazed at her with the intensity that even she could feel, despite her lack of seeing him. She shivered in the darkness and then moved back to the rays of sun, happy to be in their golden shower.

Suddenly he snaked out a hand, into the sun for the first time, and gripped her forearm tightly. Sarah almost pulled away, but she felt something, some dulled sensation of what the door had offered her when she first arrived at Maddi's. Yet, it was so beautiful, and she could not allow her anger to remain with the feeling surrounding her so entirely. It took her breath away and seemed to rejuvenate her sunken spirits and the part of her soul that had died when she left the Underground for the second time.

Then he removed his hand from her arm and turned to leave through the door she had so graciously flung open. Sarah could only gasp in awe at the sudden wondrous rebirth she felt. She finally managed to smile, after nearly a week of depression and near suicidal thoughts.

"As you wish, Sarah," the man called.

His voice drifted across her skin as silk sheets would do. It was so very perfect, and she knew immediately where she had heard it before. The sweet seductive tones, and the love that it held embedded in every last word, was something she knew she would never forget.

Sarah broke the spell that had overcome her and lunged toward the door. She could still catch him, and would not lose him for a third time. She threw the wooden door open once again and burst through into the sunshine. She looked to either side for the man she loved, and caught a glimpse of a long trailing coat just on the other side of a large group of laughing girls.

"Jareth!" Sarah yelled and started off into a sprint.

The man stopped at the sound of his name and turned around to see if it was really who he had prayed it would be. He saw her, lovely Sarah, rushing through crowds of people with a frantic smile on her beautiful face. He returned her smile with one of his own and stepped aside from the people.

Sarah stopped only a few scant inches from him. Jareth could feel the trace of her deep breaths caress across his face. He yearned to reach out, touch her, just to assure himself that this was not some marvelous dream conjured up by his subconscious. Yet, her wild eyes, her entire being, informed him that this was more real than anything he had ever experienced before.

"I thought that I had lost you again," Sarah murmured, and then placed her trembling hand into his own.

Jareth looked down at their interlocked hands and then turned his flashing mis-matched eyes back to hers. He gently tugged her forward, wrapping his powerful arms around her as he did so. Sarah laughed and then laid her head against his shoulder, just adoring the feel of being so close to him once again. She felt the magic within him envelope her, just as his arms did.

"My love," he whispered into her ear.

"My king," she replied, looking up at him once again with a brilliant smile spread across her full lips.

Jareth cupped her angelic face within his palms and then brought his lips to hers. They met as if they were fit to be together. Her body filled with the magical electrical shock that she had felt before, but never to such an extreme. It was almost as if the wild magic was within her as well, and when they met, something amazing occurred.

Sarah opened her eyes and looked about at their surroundings. With a silent gasp, she pulled from their passionate kiss, and realized just what had happened. Instead of being out on the crowded sidewalk, they now stood inside the antique shop, directly beside the silver bells that chimed musically, though no one had touched them.

Jareth moved aside from his love, having noticed something that laid upon the bare, dirty ground. Sarah, still partially in shock from the entire experience, leaned against the wall and watched the King through sparkling eyes. He lifted the velvet bound book into his magical grip and watched in silent awe as it shone majestically and faded back to its original normal appearance.

"I believe this is yours," Jareth stated, offering Sarah the dropped book.

She looked at it for a brief time and then managed a truly confused smile. Sarah took the book and turned it about in her hands, daring herself to open it and discover what new story was held within. Yet, she could not force herself to read, and could not discover what mysterious tale was written upon the old, yellowed pages.

"What is it?" Sarah asked, looking into Jareth's tender gaze.

"It is the story, Sarah. Yet, I believe that this one holds a surprise towards the end," Jareth answered secretively and then offered Sarah a smug grin.

She ran her hands carefully over the velvet. Yet, she could not believe that this book, so entirely different from her old, tattered novel, could possibly be the same tale. Jareth was simply being his usual teasing self. With a deep sigh she placed the book on the counter beside her and then allowed her lover to hold her in his powerful arms.

"How does it end?" she asked with a gentle, curious tone.

Jareth laughed a bit and then shook his head at her endless questions. With a single finger placed beneath her set chin, he guided her gaze up to his own. Sarah searched his eyes for an answer, for even the slightest clue that might help. However, there was nothing to be seen, save love, and she had already known that for some time.

"You will find out some day, Sarah," he answered, and then pressed his lips firmly to her own.

Chapter Thirty-Two

The antique shop glittered with a fresh, new quality that startled many local people who had grown accustomed to the run-down store. It seemed almost as if the sun itself held residence within the polished glass doors, highlighting priceless treasures with a perfect golden glow. It held a sense of mystery that lured many potential customers to enter through the ornately etched doors.

The shimmering silver bells chimed melodiously as the door swung against them, and then hit once again, upon closing behind the newest curious customer. Their lovely musical tranquillity danced throughout the quaint store, adding a pleasant welcome atmosphere to the strangely renewed shop.

Sarah brought her eyes up from over the book that had caught her gaze amidst the scores of literature that were kept in the store. It had happened through that morning, in the most recent shipment of certain rare and ancient artifacts. She had always loved to search through the wooden crates that arrived every month, nearly to the same day. It was especially wonderful to find a certain treasure, like the fantasy book she now held in her hands.

"Good morning, Sir, can I help you with anything?" she asked, getting the general formalities out of the way.

The older man glanced back, surprised at her voice. He shook his head, and then continued further into the store. Sarah watched him for a little while longer and then buried herself back into the plot that had woven itself around her imagination. She quickly flipped another page and devoured more of the intriguing story.

The delicate silver bells suspended above the door, let another chorus of musical chimes burst forth as the door opened once again. Sarah did not raise her head to greet the newest guest in the antique store, but instead remained entirely engulfed in her book. The bells' chimes drifted off into oblivion and soon the only sound in the store were the casual footsteps of the two customers, browsing through the merchandise.

A faint drifting sound, almost like that of rich silk brushing against itself, cut through the silence in the store. However, still the young woman remained behind her book, clueless about anything that was going on around her. A soft breeze, or perhaps a tender breath, caressed the back of her neck and brushed across her face.

"Hello?" Sarah suddenly asked, a bit too loud for the customers.

She had been startled out of her story by the gentle tickle of air that touched her. She glanced around, and met the gaze of the now three people who were searching for their own treasure in the store. Sarah silently scolded herself for spooking so easily, at such an innocent draft. It was an old building, and there were sure to be things that still needed to be repaired.

With a sigh she returned to her story and dismissed the whole experience as nothing more than a draft found in the store. She had been foolish to be so frightened. Sarah quickly found her place in the story and resumed her reading.

The gentle warm breeze brushed across her ear, and Sarah shivered a bit, despite the understanding that it was nothing to worry about. She moved her chair a little away from the possible source of the draft and then tried to concentrate on the story. However, she only succeeded in reading the same line three times, and still not comprehending what it was trying to tell her.

Suddenly a pair of warm hands grasped her shoulders in a tight grip. Sarah gasped and dropped her book to the ground. She very nearly jumped up and prepared to fight her attacker, when a perfectly mischievous laughter surrounded her, bathing the store in light mirth. The hands moved from her shoulders and brushed through her cascades of rich, long, chestnut hair.

"You frightened me," Sarah admitted, bending back to look up at Jareth's handsome face.

He merely smiled and lowered himself down at her level. With a tender sweep of his satin touch, Jareth brushed aside her flowing hair and kissed her forehead with a gentle love. She closed her eyes and savored their relationship, the bond that held them together forever, and could never be broken no matter what might happen. Even death would not destroy their link, but only strengthen the hope that someday they would be together again.

Yet, Sarah did not think about death, or sadness of any kind as she felt his romantic kiss leave her skin. She dwelled only upon their sacred union, as husband and wife, which would be true for eternity. The world did not matter, as long as she could be beside him.

They had been married shortly after their meeting in the antique shop. However, something about the earthly wedding ceremony had been lacking. Sarah and Jareth both felt the overwhelming reality that prevailed all through the ceremony, and thus chose to spend their honeymoon in the Underground, and truly experience a fantasy amidst magic and fairy tale scenery.

"Shouldn't you pay attention to the customers, and try to prevent yourself from becoming so consumed in certain stories?" Jareth remarked, with a hint of sarcasm tracing his every word.

Sarah glanced down at her overturned book, quite joyful that she had not lost her place in her moment fright. She then glanced back to her husband. Jareth merely removed his hands from her shoulders and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting to see whether her stubbornness would rear its head at his joking comment.

"It's my break," Sarah remarked with a smile and grabbed her book once more, ready to continue to read.

His silken hands dropped from her arms down to her swollen stomach, encompassing their child as he or she grew. Sarah's attention was once again drawn away from the book and she touched his hands with her own, feeling as if she had never belonged anywhere else in her entire life, as much as she did here, by Jareth's side.

Sarah startled as her child moved and pushed on their hands. Jareth's face lit with joy at the moment they had shared and then turned to gaze at his love. She never appeared more beautiful to him, than she did at that time, with a faint orange illumination highlighting her loving face, and her eyes glowing with motherly pride, for her child that would be born in three short months.

The silver bells jingled as the three potential customers left. The sound broke the moment that had surrounded the two. One kind woman offered Sarah and Jareth a smile. She commented on just how lovely the store was, and that there certainly were several treasures that she was sure she could not do without, and soon would be back to buy. Sarah thanked her and waved as the three walked down the street.

Outside, the tell-tale orange hues had touched the sky, signaling an end to another day. Jareth rose from his position beside his wife and flipped the plastic sign, that hung suspended by a simple white piece of twine in the display window. In bright green letters, which matched the lovely awnings Sarah had purchased to ordain the exterior of the store, was the word `Closed', followed by: `Please Come Again.'

Sarah watched Jareth, no longer possessing the label of King, as he proceeded with the tedious closing duties. Her heart ached to see such a noble, regal man, being forced to perform menial tasks that were continually presented. He was the Goblin King, and should not have ever left his kingdom to simply dwell in this mundane existence.

"Jareth?" Sarah asked softly, fearing the conversation she had been planning for some time.

He paused in the midst of sweeping the floor and turned to gaze lovingly at Sarah. His eyes, those that held the entire world's mysteries in their mis-matched depths, bewitched her and she nearly forgot what she had intended to say. Sarah forced herself to break free from the spell that he constantly paced her under, without the aid of any form of magic.

She carefully placed her book back atop the counter and clasped her hands together nervously. Sarah cleared her throat in an attempt to lighten the unnerving atmosphere. She even laughed, however dry and mirthless the sound was. She at least managed to force it out.

"I think we need to talk," Sarah stated, in a voice only slightly above whisper.

Jareth's warm mood faltered for a scant amount of time, but he quickly gathered himself back together so as to appear strong before Sarah. He leaned the broom against the shelves that lined the length of one wall. Not once did he glance back, to assure himself that the handle would not damage anything, should it fall to the ground.

Jareth said nothing, but instead sat down beside Sarah, on another chair that was kept behind the counter. He waited, feigning patience as she gathered up her courage to speak the dreaded words that still circled her mind. Now was not the time to interject any sort of statement, whether serious or not. Sarah truly had an important subject to discuss.

"I've been trying to avoid asking for some time now. I was.... it's just that we both know that this is not where you belong, Jareth. You are the king, and should live where you rule, and don't clean up after lowly people who could easily be your subjects. I suppose what I want to know is.... are you happy here?" Sarah forced the question to leave her trembling lips.

Immediately she turned her eyes down to her large belly, wondering exactly what she should do if Jareth finally admitted his dismay with her world. She could feel warm tears build within the depths of her caring chocolate eyes, and was helpless to force them away from her husband. He did not need to be swayed by her childish show of emotion. Yet, the pregnancy had certainly increased her emotional outbursts, whether they were tears, or bouts of angry shouts.

Jareth looked at Sarah for a long time, not able to believe that she had felt it necessary to ask such a question. He had only to wonder what he had done to put such doubt in her mind. Yet, he had no clue as to the answer to his unspoken inquiry, and doubted that he would ever know. Only Sarah would know, and he was not about to ask her and continue on with the pointless conversation.

"Sarah, my life is with you, and our baby. Wherever I am, as long as you are by my side, I will be eternally happy," Jareth responded with a seriousness that was usually not present on his features.

She silently listened to his every words, but felt some form of hesitation in his speech. Perhaps she could bring him happiness, but his kingdom was still out there, though not his any longer, ruled by a queen who had become a friend. She knew how much it had hurt, though Jareth himself would never admit it even to his own mind, she knew.

Sarah finally rose to her feet, and stretched the cramps out of her body. She never was able to get over the difference in everything upon becoming pregnant, especially once in the third trimester. The discomfort would be worth it, for soon they would have a sweet innocent baby to hold and care for, and it would be covered in love.

"Would you rather live in the Underground?" Sarah carefully asked, turning to look at Jareth as he rose to his feet beside her.

Jareth only answered it with a smile and walked over to his love. Sarah dropped her gaze to the ground, perhaps taking his silence as a `yes.' She wiped at the tears that still streamed down her cheeks, trying to hide from his observant eyes.

He took her into his arms, and forced her to look at him. Sarah struggled, but only for a short time. She finally relented and looked into Jareth's wondrous eyes, that had so captivated her even the very first time she had seen him, when she had wished her baby brother away. Now she only wished for a normal life with him, and that he could be King once more.

"No matter where I go, my kingdom is still under my rule. Cyria is staying there for a short time. Someday we will return, but certainly not now, and perhaps not even anytime soon, but sometime in the future. Till then, living here is amazing. Sarah, there is so much that I miss, but so much more that I would regret, should I leave this world soon," Jareth responded, giving her an entirely truthful answer.

Sarah's tears slowed and she managed a shaking smile in response to his answer. Perhaps she had been wrong. After all, Jareth never had truly acted sad, or depressed while she had been able to watch him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and continued to gaze into his entrancing eyes.

"Forever then?" Sarah asked, her voice only hitching slightly.

"Till death do us part," he reminded, and then kissed her with the passion that burned eternally within his soul.

* * * * * * * *

On a dark night, the Underground sky was strewn with countless stars, sparkling as gems of the most miraculous perfection that had been carelessly tossed about amongst the ebony velvet. The serene moon, appearing as a single crystal sphere, hung amidst the points of light that were the stars, shone a white light upon the ground.

In the distance, a pair of cat-like eyes, emerald in color, but shimmering with silver from the full moon, watched a single flower whither and die in her hands. It had happened, already, and they knew nothing about it. She dropped the dead thing on the ground and found a place to rest on the throne.

"Five years, at the most," she whispered in a voice that was hoarse, and seemingly aged.

The Queen turned, only slightly, to catch the shine of the moon on her face. Instantly her reflection shone through, from the mirror across the room. The woman looked in horror at the wrinkled face that met her gaze. With a gasp, she turned away and buried her face in her hands.

Cyria turned her eyes towards the sky once more, trying with all her soul to ignore the gnawing feeling that Jareth should not have gone. With a ragged sigh she fixed her tired gaze on the moon and prayed for strength.

"Five, five at the most," Cyria repeated, and then rose to retire to her chambers.