Disclaimer: They don't belong to me.
Summary: He drove her to the brink of madness, until she gave herself to make it stop. Now she's in the darkness and she doesn't understand the game, the rules, or how to win. J/S
"Jareth!" Sarah cried joyfully. "I can see!"
She could, indeed-- she could see the walls of the room they were in, chiseled stone, but well furnished with tapestries and furniture, exactly the way she'd imagined a room of a castle to be. The sunlight which flowed through the windows on one side of the room.
And she could see Jareth, sitting in a chair near her bed. She looked down at herself, dressed in a simple but elegant forest green cotton dress. She stood up, and the stone floor cold against her bare feet. She flung her arms around Jareth, and he responded in kind, although he did not say anything.
"Jareth?" Sarah asked in surprise, looking at him. While by now she had experience puzzling out his emotions from his voice, she had nothing useful to draw on for assistance interpreting his facial expressions.
He smiled at her. "Yes," he said softly. "So you can."
His voice was mixed. Glad, but with a bittersweet part.
Sarah frowned, and tried to remember where she was in the story. She realized that she couldn't remember her dreams at all last night-- it was as though she hadn't dreamt at all-- a first since she had arrived here.
"We were in the middle of the battle," Sarah recalled, deciding to continue the story and see if that would cheer Jareth up. She settled into his lap as she drew her breath to continue.
"So, so then..." she trailed off. She thought for a moment, closing her eyes to see if the darkness would help. "Then we--"
"No, Sarah, stop." Sarah turned to look at Jareth again. He definitely looked troubled, which she could not understand. She could finally see, the sun was shining, and they were in a room-- which was certainly more than they'd had before, an ex-Goblin King without a kingdom and girl gone crazy.
She traced a finger along the worried line across his forehead. He really was beautiful. "What is it?" she asked. "I'm sorry I can't think of anything just now-- I suppose it's the shock of finally being able to see after so long--"
"No." He cut her off again. He sighed deeply and looked away from her. Puzzled, Sarah leaned over the arm of the chair to look into his face, a playful expression on her face.
"What's wrong?" she asked, trying to smile brightly at him, though she was becoming worried at his strange responses.
"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you the truth, Sarah. You'll get all of it now, I promise."
"You were still lying to me?" Sarah pushed away from him abruptly. She stood up and turned to look at him straight on.
"I had to." His face looked weary, and the last part he whispered, not in the taunting whispers he'd once used, but instead in broken tones. "I'm so sorry."
She waited for him to explain, but he was silent, and eventually she tightened her fist in frustration. "Well, what is it?"
"Your storytelling, Sarah. It's over."
"Okay..." she trailed off. "I don't understand. You want me to stop with the story? That's fine, of course-- we have other things to do now--"
"It's not that I want you to stop," he stood abruptly and brushed passed the very confused girl in front of him, striding over to look out of the window. He refused to look her way. "It's that you can't anymore."
Sarah stared, uncomprehending. "What?"
Jareth answered quickly, loudly, as though he were trying to force the words out as quickly as possible to get it over with. "Your imagination is gone!"
"That's ridiculous!" she exclaimed as she walked after him, to place a hand on his shoulder and look out of the window with him. The view outside the window was beautiful-- overlooking a meadow, with greener grass than Sarah remembered it ever being, and a brook, and a forest in the distance. "Here, I'll show you. We were in the fortress of the evil King, and..." she trailed off, frustrated to find that absolutely nothing sprung to her mind. "I'm just having a little block is all," she tried to justify her lapse, keeping her voice light, though as she spoke without realizing it she grabbed the cloth of her dress and twisted it in her fists anxiously.
Jareth took both of his hands in hers, pulling them gently away from her, holding them in his carefully. "I wish I could have told you," he explained softly.
She shook her head. "What happened?"
Jareth dropped her hands and pressed both of his hands against his face, drawing a very deep breath and letting it out as his hands slid down his face. He looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then closed his eyes and dropped his head again, returning his gaze to Sarah's eyes.
She had not seen his eyes in a very long time, and they were mesmerizing. She stood there staring into them for several long moments.
"I told you, my land was destroyed," he was so quiet that she had to strain to hear him. "The only way to rebuild it was-- was you."
"How?" was all she could manage.
"By your imagination, of course. Your dreams. I had to take you to this place-- it was dark, completely, and empty of almost everything except for a few surfaces-- and use your-- your fantasies, your whims, your wishes and dreams, your thoughts and the wild carefree inventions of your mind, your stories, fairy tales, capacity for creation. More than that-- your emotions, thoughts, your hate, your love. I had to take that and channel it into a new world, a new kingdom."
Sarah could hear her heart thumping quickly in her chest. She crossed her arms and uncrossed them again, tearing her gaze from his, turning to pace away from him, terrified of what she would hear. He was simply silent, waiting for her to ask him to confirm what she was dreading. Finally, from a different corner of the room, while she stared at the wall, she did. "And to do that, it had to be taken out of me, is that it?"
He did not answer, and his silence was all the answer she needed.
She nodded tearfully and looked over at him. "Why-- if you took my emotions, why am I crying?" she asked, gasping around the tears. "How can I think? Am I about to just pop out of existence?"
"Sarah, Sarah, no!" Jareth crossed the room in a few long paces and wrapped his arms around her again, kissing her hair. He took a single finger and put it under her chin, forcing her to look at him. He leaned over and kissed two of her tears. "Sarah," he said, "you can still feel, you can stilll think. You do still have your emotions, your intellect. Those haven't been taken from you."
"Just... my imagination."
He simply nodded. There was nothing that he could say that would mean anything just then. She leaned against him and cried, long, deeply, for what had been her most prized possession but had now been stolen from her by... by this man... the man she loved.
Finally, after she had wept so many tears that she did not have any left, she wiped her eyes and, avoiding his gaze, spoke again. "What now?"
"We live here," he told her gently, taking her by the hands and leading her to the window again so that they could see out of it into the world. "In this land that you created. Not everything is the same-- the story itself isn't happening, we don't have to battle an evil King from another realm," his voice was teasing as he stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her middle. He leaned over, pressing his cheek against hers as they both looked out at the view below. "Thankfully. You had in mind all along that we would win, so that is the past of our world. But the setting-- it's as you imagined it."
"Then-- it's not real?" she asked as she watched the water gently bubbling its way down a small waterfall.
"No, it's real," he assured her, squeezing her gently. "It's as real as the Labyrinth was. All the people in it are real, they think and feel as much as you or I do."
"There are people here?" she asked. "Where?"
"Oh, around," he said. "This kingdom is a lot bigger than we can see here."
She did not answer him for a long while, as she was still trying to think of a story. She kept beginning one only to remember that it was a fairy tale she had heard before, and it was not coming from her. "I-- what am I? Am I real?"
"Yes," was all he said. She could hear the emotion in his voice and twisted to look at him, finally, look at him. She loved him, and she could hear from his voice that he loved her.
She swallowed, trying to get rid of the lump in her throat. She didn't know that it was worth it, to lose the ability to create. But then, she thought, turning around again to look out over the meadow and off into the distance, who had ever thought that in her lifetime she would manage to create something as grand as this?
"What about my family? Dad, Toby, Merlin... Karen?" she asked. "What will they think when I'm gone?"
Jareth let out a soft, regretful sigh and began stroking her hair again, just as he had in the very beginning, when all was dark and she was still crazy. "It's as though you never were, my love," he told her. "You are faintly remembered in your world as a legend-- a heroine in a fantasy world. That's all you ever were there."
"No—no, I lived there for fifteen years!" Sarah argued with him. "I had a family, and friends. A dog."
"That is what you remember. They do not remember ever having a daughter, a stepdaughter, a sister, an owner, a friend, Sarah Williams. You have become separate from their world."
Though Sarah had believed that she had been out of tears, realizing that her mother and her father did not even remember that she ever existed was too much to bear. She fell to the ground, too suddenly for Jareth to stop her. He just stroked her back as her shoulders shook.
"Dear, sweet Sarah," he whispered to her. "Please-- it's okay. I promise. You have me. I can love you more than you've ever dreamed of. We are the King and Queen of a beautiful new world, a world of your creation. Think of all the people here-- they wouldn't exist if not for you. Would you wish that on them?"
Sarah shook her head and finally became silent, all tears ceasing, and she rested her head on his shoulder. "No," she said. "I wouldn't."
But she remembered the story she had told. She remembered all the way back to the night she'd run the Labyrinth, what she had said to Toby. 'But what no one knew was that The Goblin King fell in love with her and gave her certain powers.' Then, in her tale, how Jareth had been brooding over her, broken hearted.
How, somehow in there, her story had become a love story.
"The subjects," she said slowly, "who live in this world. Do they know they've only just been created?"
Jareth shook his head. "No, they don't."
"So they have memories of things that have never happened."
Jareth nodded, looking puzzled. "Yes, why?"
She just shook her head and forced a smile. "Nothing."
He smiled back at her, and offered her a hand to help her up.
She accepted. They stood for a moment, by the window, collecting themselves.
"What do we do now?" Sarah asked him finally.
"What does anyone ever do?" he asked her, guiding her to the door so that they could explore their castle. "You could never answer what would happen, eventually, what really happens in that happily ever after. The love never had enough passion to take away the boredom, your need for more adventure, more excitement, more life. I promise you, Sarah, I will never let that happen. My passion for you will last forever."
They stepped out into the hallway. A maid was walking by and curtseyed at them smartly, then went about her business, and it really was obvious that she had no idea that she had been created only a few minutes before.
"But is that because this is so much more," Sarah asked slowly, "or because I no longer have the creativity to imagine all that I think I want? Have I had my dreams fulfilled, or... or lost what it means to have them?"
She gasped as Jareth roughly whirled her around so that she faced him. His eyes bored into hers.
"They've been fulfilled," he told her savagely. He growled low in his throat and pulled her close to him, leaning in and to kiss her for the first time (how could this be their first kiss?). His lips were soft, gentle yet demanding as he parted her lips with his tongue, deepening the kiss until she was dizzy from the pure raw passion.
Then he pulled away and gave her a wildly intense look. All Sarah could do was stare at him, dazed. He slipped his arm around her and they began to walk down the corridor again.
She knew that she could never ask that question of him again. It would infuriate him, agonize him, drive him mad with guilt, to think that she thought she had lost her ability to dream. To think that their love was the product of some fantasy story.
Yet, walking down the hallway with the man she loved, as a queen living in a castle in a dream world of her creation, she knew that she would never quite be sure whether she had attained her dreams, or lost them forever.
A/N: (hides and gets ready for the stream of hate mail)
Thank you so, so very much to my reviewers. You are great. I write some fandoms where I'm lucky if I get two or three reviews per chapter, so this constant stream of response was really exciting. So thank you to everyone I've mentioned so far, and for last chapter:LakeOfFire- so, after having read it, would you have preferred shoddily written porn? Was Jareth too sappy and romantic? ;) Rai Medvedsky- I'm sure that's where I got the idea, though I didn't realize it until you pointed it out! WhiteRoseWithering- I don't know, I know I'd have a lot more trouble telling what a character does to that person… Masako Moonshade-after getting your review, I thought about it, and came up with several possible explanations. However, I've decided not to make any of them canon to the story. In a fic filled with insanity, surrealism, and just plain bizarreness, I think there should be a few things unanswered. Forevermore33, anon-good to hear that it seemed somewhat seemless, Lady Kiren- no, this was the end ;), crystal13moon. And, of course, to everyone who has reviewed the other chapters, and who will review this one.