I am not in the habit of explaining myself, and certainly not where it regards matters . . . of delicacy. But as you, my lords and ladies of the Sidhe court, bid me pen this testimony concerning the "recent abnomalies" in my realm, I shall do so. Good son that I am, I will obligingly hand over this document as I stand to hear you cry out all the crimes of Jareth, Prince of the Underground, King of Goblins, and wait, as my parents, your High King and Queen, bid you dismiss my case for my good behavior.

Or perhaps I will simply damn you all to hell.

* * * *

Yes, I gave a mortal powers. Why bother denying the obvious? As you all know quite well, the King of Goblins need not hasten to answer the call of a fool mortal wailing for the goblins to collect a nuisance. But I did not give her the powers for that intent.

I knew her prior to the "recent events," as you so carefully, and stupidly, refer to them. Knew of her, perhaps, is the better phrasing. Bored, I happened to visit the Aboveground, seeking the stimulation of companions more intelligent than my subjects. And I saw a child in a park, spiritedly acting out fairy stories with only her dog for company. She was extremely enthused, but that I did not find striking; instead, it was when she erred in her lines that she won my interest. In a foolish, frothy white gown, a make-shift crown of flowers and ribbons in her hair, the little princess . . . threw a fit. She cursed, she threw down her book, and then she set her jaw, gritted her teeth, and went over her text for hours, insistent on never again failing her task.

Who would not find her amusing? I pursued her home that day, and the days thereafter, learning about this child. She was a creature of contradictions - - a spoilt, willful child who nonetheless suffered under the oppression of self-absorbed and neglectful parents. They ignored this gem and instead of their affections and attentions, gave to her only the dull responsibility of tending to her infant brother. How could I not but sympathize, commanded by my parents to depart to rule the goblins when I had been barely of her maturity? How could I not feel some interest in this mortal, who had for a companion merely her dog, no more an equal than I, dealing constantly with goblins and infants, had?

At no time did my curiosity about this girl endanger my duties then. I had no plans to bring her here. Indeed, I only whispered into her sleeping ear the spell that would allow her to summon me because I had come upon her that afternoon as she uncharacteristically wept and I could not find out why. It was . . . merely curiosity . . . to allow her to summon me, should she need assistance of any kind.

Merely curiosity.

* * * *

Then the Words. I did not prod the girl to call upon me, no. I will not deny, as my staff, I am told, has already informed you, that I went with great speed to her side. My realm, as you know, is remote and hardly a center of intellectual stimulation. Why should I not have answered her call, have satisfied my curiosity?

I arrived and she stared at me, horrified. It was then that the plan came to my head, and no earlier. I would be generous with her; I would allow her to run the Labyrinth for her brother. She would have an adventure, she would fail, and when she returned to her little mortal home, she would be the only child, the beloved only child, of two parents who would have learned to properly value her. And I would keep the infant, Tobias, for a companion in my lifeless castle, and give to him what had been denied to both herself and to me. I would grant both of us our wishes.

* * * *

I will drown in the Bog the next Fae who suggests I had other designs on the elder mortal when I brought her here. What woman, immortal or mortal, has denied me? I do not need to force myself upon mere slips of girls when my considerable . . . charms . . . have made me the object of fantasy and pleasure for every woman on this court. You may inquire of your fellow jurors just how needy I might be, of female attention.

* * * *

Damn you all for requiring this. I will remember this when I am High King, I warn you. I hardly feel it is necessary to discuss this subject; you were there. You saw it all.

Bloody hell. So be it. I fell in love with her, will you have me say it? Yes, yes, I did. I know not quite when, but I know when I began to see it. It was that damn ball. You wanted to see her; I had only desired to indulge her dream, to allow her to finally be, not play, the princess. So she was here and as she wandered about the Great Ballroom, I watched her, amused to see her at last on her chosen stage.

But our empty, emotionless ballroom fell short of what she had imagined it would be and her face registered not pleasure, but fear and reticence. In a ballroom filled with court lies and lewdness, she alone was sincere, her face the only honest one present. You mocked her for immaturity but that, that wariness on her face as she dodged your hands, was not immaturity - - it was disgust. She, my bold-hearted believer, wanted nothing to do with your insincerity and false glamor. Fearful, alone again, she moved about the ballroom and I realized she was looking for someone to trust, a soul as strong as her own, someone to care for her . . . she was looking for me.

I walked past this young woman, cutting my eye at her as she moved on, not seeing me, not seeing what she did to me, her brow furrowed, her teeth set nervously on her lips. Quite unknowingly, she bewitched me. She wanted me, she needed me, and I could deny her no longer - - I let her find me, I smiled and twisted my mask away to reassure her, and then our eyes met. She could have had anything she desired then.

Her hand came softly, trustingly, in to mine, her body shifted closer, her eyes, gorgeous green eyes, regarded me. Her innocence was apparentÑshe did not seek assignations, only trust - - but, by the Gods, if there was a more beautiful woman in the ballroom that night or ever, you may have my crown. My dreamer, my rebel, my stubborn little fighter, my lady . . . needed me.

And I loved her.

* * * *

What more do you damn fools want? I am sickened that I must share these memories with you. So be it, let this be done.

My plans shifted after that moment in the ballroom. I did nothing exceptionalÑif you suggest not trying is exceptional, perhaps so, then. I could not bring myself to break her trust. Instead, I held myself still as she tore away from my hands and broke through the dream to return to her quest.

My heart shattered with the dream, but I denied it. I told the goblins my plans were the same; stall the girl, keep the boy, send the dangerous woman home. I focused on that plan, while all the while I burned, aware that the stakes had changed. I would keep the boy if I could, but now there was no question inside of the goal. I wanted her, would have her. I would give up the boy if she wanted; I would stop the game; I would do as she pleased, if only to get her. Yes, I had every intention of breaking every rule of the Labyrinth to keep her here with me as my mate, my queen.

Must we persist? Yes, I did make the offer - - it came from me unknowingly, poorly worded, in a moment of agony and desperation, as I saw she would leave me. But she did not hear me, really, did not yet know the extent to which we were matched, and she said those bloody Words.

* * * *

I regret only that ending. If you damn fools must judge me, judge this: I would still bring her here today, if she so bid. And I will bring her again, as your Queen, regardless of what I must do. Sarah is mine.