* * *
Past the cheering crowd, a woman and a dwarf stood by the windows, gazing absently into the night.
"'Bout time," muttered the dwarf.
The woman merely smiled.
* * *
There are two things one needs to know about kissing.
1.) It is an art form that requires skill and technique. Fortunately for all involved in this particular situation, Jareth King of Goblins happened to be a master of said art form; he knew quite well his best talents lay not with juggling crystal balls and tossing silken snakes about.
2.) A kiss is a physical act, not necessarily a soul-shaking one. In fact, it is very rare that the earth stops spinning, worlds collide, and life changes permanently, in the process of one kiss. One should therefore never begin a kiss expecting to hear movie music erupt and to see stars move.
But the stars were moving this night.
Within her flailing brain, Sarah was dimly aware that her mental universe was falling apart, overridden by another force. Caught up against Jareth's masterful mouth, his hands locking her against his body, Sarah did just what any normal girl would do.
She enjoyed herself thoroughly.
* * *
The warmth of his skin, like the haven of one's bed on a winter morning. The scent of him, a muskiness that teased, like the scent of cider wafting from rooms away. The silk and strength of his mouth, gently guiding, then engulfing. The taste of his tongue, sweeter and softer than caramel passing over her lips. The unbearable solidity of his sculpted thigh by hers, flooding her with a the painful, pleasurable heat of standing too close to a fire. All was sensation within Sarah until their lips parted for air. With a soft gasp, Sarah and Jareth slid apart minimally, eyes at last open, as her reason struggled to resurface. She stared at Jareth, speechless, his face as bewildered as hers. Dimly, she heard it behind them, intervening between them: the distant, dooming iron chime—
She closed her eyes, as it all went through her again, the nightmare reawakened. A haunting voice, murmuring in her ear once upon a time: "You have thirteen hours in which to solve the Labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us…forever."
Sarah's world blurred and rippled, as though a stone had been tossed into this uncertain reality. Instinctive terror took hold. Toby was not there, but she was in the Underground, with the Goblin King, and the clock was tolling, just as it would have for a loser to the Labyrinth, welcoming her brother to eternal imprisonment…In one second, Sarah blinked, tore her head to the side, desperately searching for the clock, knowing it would soon strike the thirteenth hour. In another second, she had skirt in hand and fled the ballroom. In the last second, Jareth, knowing he had been too stunned to catch her, shouted one name, which echoed across the suddenly silent ballroom.
* * *
"Damn, damn, damn!" swore Hoggle, forgetting his companion. "It wasn't suppos'd to end like this! This is worse than before!"
The Queen shook her head, her misted eyes still watching her son. "No, Hoggle, let us not surrender yet. Look." The crowds were moving back from the Goblin King, as he stood still, hands dangerously light on his hips, and stared coldly into the distance. Then, abruptly, Jareth's golden head inclined downwards; he sunk to his knees, almost as if in prayer. But his hands now held something, Hoggle saw. The dwarf strained his eyes, trying to make out the object in the silent High Prince's hands.
"It's 'er slipper!" He turned to the Queen in surprise. "But what'll that do? She won't be comin' back fer it!"
She continued to watch her son. A soft smile began on her face as the Goblin King rose and Jareth stalked out of the ballroom, his face set, the slipper grasped like a weapon in his hand. The Queen turned to face the dwarf again. "Hoggle, my dear, you do know when a dream becomes valuable, do you not?"
"No, Majesty, when?"
Her smile dipped briefly into that smirk again. "When you are willing to go after it."
* * *
You can't keep Toby, you can't keep me, God, there's almost no time left—just a couple seconds now—Run, Williams, run!--
"NO!" Sarah cried out, snapping up to a seated position on her bed.
"Oh, my God," Sarah whispered into the darkened room, brushing tangled hair away from her face. Her panicked heart was beating so quickly she almost felt sick, and she could feel beneath her pajamas a light, chilly sweat. Automatically, she lifted her head, scanning the silent, perfectly normal room for predators.
"It was a dream," Sarah finally gasped out loud, flopping backwards against the pillow. "A dream, a dream, just a dream," she chanted to herself as her heartbeat slowed. Her eyes closed, she sorted through reassuring mental images of her brother and her own perfectly normal life. Why am I feeling disappointed? What the hell is wrong with me? Get a grip, Williams. It was just a dream, a realistic one, yeah, but just a dream. A really screwed-up dream, granted. God, one minute I'm dreaming about kissing the Goblin King, really actually believing there's something major between us…that I could have feelings for Jareth…and he'd actually look twice at a person like me…She frowned and nipped that thought off. One minute, I'm having dreams about him, ridiculous dreams, and the next minute I about have a heart attack at the idea of being stuck down there—and you know that's more realistic than him kissing you, Williams. He'd have locked Toby up, made him a goblin, and God knows, maybe me too, if I'd lost before…Wonder what that would have been like, having him in my life... You can't say he's not entertaining company. And who knows, maybe…I can't believe I'm actually wondering about this! What is wrong with my head? Was it something I ate? Note to self: avoid that seafood shop on Main from now on. She sighed. But if it gives me dreams like that kiss, maybe I should be eating there every night. Her heart flipped over and her lips tingled in memory. God, if I can make a dream of a kiss that vivid, imagine what sort of dream it would have been if I had dreamt we were up here to begin with and I wasn't scared of being caught there. That dream would be worth the heart attack…Jesus, what is wrong with me?! Eyes still closed, Sarah snorted to herself, tried to ignore the sudden throbbing in her body, and rolled to her side, determined to sleep. She slid her hand beneath her pillow but as she did, something rubbed against her wrist. What the—Frowning, she opened her eyes groggily, sat up and held out her hand to a beam of moonlight. Suddenly, her eyes were fully awake, staring at…a holly bracelet. Like the one on my wrist there, the holly on his lapel… The whisper escaped her again: "Oh, my God."
* * *
Sarah's eyes were locked on her wrist and not her floor, so she failed to note what else the moonlight generously revealed:
In the center of her room, a slipper of glass, lying alone, as if waiting for its mate.
And an owl, in the winter night beyond Sarah's room, watching her intently, as if waiting for his.
* * *
Somewhere far away, the dwarf watched the Queen smile over the crystal in her hand, then gently set it aside. She murmured softly to herself, and Hoggle leaned in to catch her words:
"And so, for all a good night…Merry Christmas, my dears."
* * *
--or not? I'm uploading a sequel to this work, "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot," under an R rating.
Thanks to all who reviewed!