A/N: Sorry for the delay. I appreciate everyone who has read and reviewed this story – it means a lot to me that people actually read something I wrote, albeit it being shaky. But that's the way it goes I guess, the more you write the better you get – and I have a lot of writing to do :)
P.S. – sorry, this chapter is kinda long.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Labyrinth or the characters in it, nor do I make any profit from this story in anyway.
Title: In Dreams, I Await Your Hand
Jareth, King of the Goblins and ruler of the labyrinth, stared up into blazing sunlight from the grounds outside the castle wall. He laid there as humid air swept bits of shiny dirt into his hair and caused a few strands to lash his face. His whole body ached from the hurried impact of time travel and for a few peaceful moments he allowed his mind to wander in confusion.
What was he doing here?
Something important happened…something he had to remember…
A sound echoed in his mind, feather soft and excruciatingly sad. Strangely enough, it was also oddly reassuring…it sounded like someone crying.
An image gradually took shape. Before a backdrop of red hued light, glitter dusted rock formations and upon a blanket of mist, a young woman with long black hair quietly sobbed… as if her world had been turned upside down.
The king's eyes slightly widened in wary realization and then closed as if the harsh light pained him. What he wouldn't give to approach that slight jean clad form now. Her soft face cupped, protected by his strong hands, all her sadness wiped away by the pads of his thumbs.
Such a pity he could never be her hero.
How ironic, he mused, that the only way to protect Sarah is to stay completely out of her life.
His eyes were raw orbs of pain now blazing. He knew that Sarah was now not only absent from his world but absent from hers as well.
Ah, Sarah…my light. Am I forever banished into darkness?
He could not bear to move, to break the cycle of pain which somehow seemed like a fitting tribute to his now departed… He paused.
Wondering in what way Sarah was linked to him.
What was she to me? He wondered.
Evermore he knew it was beyond title or mere words, what she meant to him. He could not fathom it but put simply his life was colorless and dull before her. When she came into his life, her victory over him and her departure from his domain left an emptiness in his soul that was both acute and severe. Her essence was comforting to him, and without her he was plagued by nightmares and the burning question: "what if she had stayed?"
Now he knew. He had done the unthinkable and traveled not minutes, hours or even days, but traversed years. His chest tightened at the memory.
In his mind he could see two versions of himself, one that would ruthlessly kill in order to achieve his deepest wish. The other, so broken and devoted, that it would submit to the deep desires of the one he loved. A king bowed low before a human girl.
It did not escape him that he nearly killed the family of his precious Sarah. He was careless and it nearly murdered a part of Sarah he would now die to protect. Then he wondered if it was wholly carelessness on his part.
"Sarah," he said feverishly, not realizing or caring that he spoke aloud, "I ask for so little…"
But…was her happiness such a trifle?
Love me…fear me… his memory taunted him. He felt a battle he was never able to successfully conquer wage war on his heart.
You could have had everything! That dark part of him screamed.
But the children? They are hers… He countered.
By every right they should have been yours!
His gloves clenched fistfuls of dirt and twisted at his side. If she had stayed, children of your own would have graced those empty halls!
That hard, merciless part of him fell on its knees in both disgust and shocked distress. We could have had everything…we could have won!
The moment hung in the air, accompanied by the sound of brown reeds waving in the wind. His eyes turned to the sound and he watched, lazily hypnotized by its rhythmic flourish. Beside those bending reeds a giant oak rested in defeat, its roots ripped from the ground from earlier that day. Even now some of its leaves were wilting in the warmth of the noon day. It looked oddly noble.
Jareth's lip turned at the corner, forming a self criticizing half smile.
Didn't you realize? He asked himself. The villain never wins.
But, the evil, malicious Jareth argued, and then stubbornly whimpered, what of my wants?
He felt the wind sweep over him and blanket him with tepid air. He closed his eyes and imagined he could feel the world turn.
Mismatched eyes opened languidly as he slowly brought his hands up to tug off his black leather gloves. He then laid his arms out, his hands pointing downward, forming a human cross in the dirt.
"What I want…" over dry lips he whispered, "is to finally be free."
The dark part of him dissolved in his consciousness, never to speak again. Good. It would make his next task easier. The words came to his mind easily and he imagined, laying there on the hard ground feeling the beat and life force of the labyrinth beneath him, that he could stop the world from turning.
As the world falls down…
Ancient words of profound solemnity whispered past his lips. The air stilled around him, leaving the reeds motionless and the labyrinth became eerily silent as if it held its breath. The Goblin king stared up into that bright yellow sky as if to make out behind clouds the hint of an earthly presence. The words he sang sounded sad but beautiful, like silk sliding between fingers, like silver moonlight, like fallen tears…it reminded him of…of…
Slowly his life force trickled out of his body, down past his naked hands into the heart of the labyrinth. The song he had uttered was a song only bestowed upon powerful monarchs. It was a last resort measure, meant to protect kings from the shame of being used for ransom or to suffer the ignominy of torture. It was a song of death.
He struggled to maintain that integrity, that elusive transcending thought, as his heart slowed, the frequency of its rhythm lessening. His eyes rolled up into his head, and the tightness of his jaw relaxed.
Soon Sarah… I will see you.
When the magic seized him it was entirely unexpected and definitely unwelcome. "No," he gasped, wrenched from darkness into light so fiercely he saw stars border his vision.
No – this isn't right. The spell has been broken. I-I'm being summoned!
His body was pulled, forced to not give up, so that though he staggered, his regal form stood upright. His heart thundered, speeding to make up for its earlier decline. The rush of blood and oxygen made him dizzy and nauseous.
He fought the pull. In the labyrinth he had no choice but to obey a summons, it was his essential role to take whoever was wished away. He grappled the magic, swaying drunkenly as if he were fighting gravity, as he cast himself to hold fast to the stone wall.
"You can not take this away from me! How dare you! It's – it's" -
It's not fair.
Red finger prints adorned the stones he held fast to. His muscles strained under the pressure and it felt like his skin was being ripped off. He gritted his teeth, and then threw his head back roaring in pain and indignity.
His cape flared and whipped behind him, drawn in the direction of the summons. He looked forward and could see the corner of the stone wall blur, stretching ahead as he was pulled in the opposite direction. Even if he held on with all his might he would be ripped from this dimension and unceremoniously dropped into the next.
Drained from his near death experience, angered to have lost his escape, but unable to deny the magic, he turned, and leapt forward like a panther about to kill – and vanished.
When he opened his eyes his legs were shaking and his chest shuddered with each labored breath. A drop of crimson fell from his bruised fingers and he knew his posture was anything but imposing. It was not the ideal first impression he had wanted to present before the person he now stood before.
"You're him aren't you? You're the Goblin King?"
The woman before him looked so much like Sarah that for one confused second he had thought he somehow stepped back into the past. But he realized the woman was not Sarah. Her hair was dark brown with a lighter shade of highlights. Her eyes were not green but dark, like molasses. She wore a grey long sleeved vest, the bottom of which was tucked into jeans. He knew her, this woman.
"Sarah's little girl."
The woman gave a small smile and nodded. "Not quite so little anymore though." Then in a quiet voice she added, "She named me Ruth."
It slowly dawned on him that she was waiting for an answer.
"I am he. The one you have summoned," he replied simply.
Ruth still could not believe that he was there, actually standing before her. He wasn't as threatening as her mother had made him out to be when she was a little girl. This man, if he was a man, she didn't know exactly what he was, looked as if he had crawled through hell and back. He looked exhausted, about to collapse even.
She was also slightly confused and a little in awe by his unorthodox clothing. Her eyes quickly roamed over his high collared black cape, the leather plated vest, and she slightly blushed with how scandalously tight his black leather pants were. He was a strange mixture to contemplate. He was handsome, no one could deny that, but he looked worn out, unhealthy even, and yet he stood as if to deny he was anything but powerful and in control. She knew it would be a mistake to offer him assistance – she was in the presence of a king.
While Ruth had been analyzing him he took the time to analyze the space he was called to. His eyes roamed over the room, mystified by its stark whiteness and antiseptic aroma. He spied the form beside him in a hospital bed, cocooned in bleached sheets.
He turned to her, unbelieving, bending down on one knee, his eyes wide, moisture threatening to blur his vision of the one he most wanted to see.
"Sarah," his voice cracked and he tenderly grasped her hand, noting the faint pulse beneath the cool wrinkled skin.
He turned his head, looking over his shoulder at Sarah's daughter, who had studiously watched his reaction.
"H-how?" he asked.
"You knew?" she asked and cast a scrupulous glance at him.
The Goblin King bowed his head, his blond hair shadowing his face and words.
"I felt a faint connection to her during the accident. Her memories were laid open to me a brief flash then gone. I felt her leave."
He looked up at the daughter of Sarah just as a treacherous tear fell from its dark lashed perch, betraying his emotions. For the moment he forgave its betrayal. There were more important needs.
"Many of those memories were of you."
A look of pain flashed through Ruth's eyes as she brought a shaking hand to cover her mouth. She steadied herself and Jareth saw that strength and determination was not held by Sarah alone.
"Save her," she hiccupped, tears falling rapidly down her pale cheeks. She took a deep breath and then in a steadier voice answered the question in the Goblin king's fixed gaze.
"A little while ago her heart stopped. She did die. Four minutes of total flat line. We cried, believing she was gone from us. Then – miraculously – her heart started to beat again." Ruth walked to him and he was surprised that she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"She suddenly opened her eyes and tried to speak. I went to her immediately. I had to bend low with my ear near her mouth just to make out what she was saying. Then she fell asleep. The doctors say she is in a coma and it is unlikely she will ever wake up."
She fixed a steady gaze on him as he waited for her to continue. His hand never let go of her mother's hand she noted.
"She said, 'Jareth needs me. I must see him.'"
Ruth suddenly stepped away and folded her arms, it made her look vulnerable. He knew that this brave woman, this daughter of Sarah, was afraid and lonely. He could empathize but still he stayed close to Sarah, reluctant to ever leave her side.
"I felt stupid but I waited until the others left the room, and then I called you. You were supposed to be only a bedtime story. But it was so important to her," at this her gaze fell of the face of her mother.
She realized she had felt stupid, alone in the room with her mother unconscious, as she "wished the Goblin King would take Sarah away." It was stupid and she smugly chided herself when for the first few minutes he didn't show. "See?" she told herself, "He isn't real."
Then the lights blinked off and on, wind swept her hair into her eyes though both the window and door were closed at the time. There was the sound of static leaping around the room and suddenly he was there, his eyes blazing, his breathing harsh and ragged, looking as if he came fresh from a kill or he was about to kill someone. She had nearly fainted.
But now, he was calm. She had seen into the heart of this man…this king. The way he held her mother's hand, gently smoothed her hair, and looked at his Sarah with such warmth and emotion.
I will do this for you mother. I can see that he loves you. You can live on, not just a memory in my heart, but actually live. He will save you.
Memories of Sarah reading to her and her little brother when they were children wrapped in a colorful afghan flared like a bright flame and suffused her with warm nostalgia. Her mother gave her everything, sunrises, rainbow dotted pajamas, hugs and the belief in goodness and magic.
She wrapped her arms around herself tighter; she could feel it, the moment when her mother would leave her forever. It was both comforting and scary as hell.
Mother…I love you.
She watched the king as he stood, garnering his strength and bent over the bed's metal rail. He gently lifted Sarah's light form and sadly smiled at Ruth.
"She can never return, you understand?"
More tears. "I know."
The Goblin King bowed his head to Ruth and lifted grateful eyes as he mouthed, "thank you." For a moment she was speechless as she realized from all the stories her mother told that this was a rare honor. She bowed her head in return and when she looked up both her mother and the infamous Goblin king were nowhere to be seen.
Jareth appeared in his bed chambers, cradling the elderly form of Sarah, still wrapped in the hospital sheets. It was difficult holding her when he felt so weak and depleted. But there was no way in hell, after everything they had both gone through, would he ever let fall the woman he loved. He gently placed her on his bed and knelt beside her.
He was still so amazed to see her, barely sinking into the thick rich, maroon colored quilt. Alive. His Sarah was alive. He gently undid the elastic band around her hair and let her pepper gray locks flow on the pillow. He didn't know what she would say to him, knowing that he had interfered. He didn't know how she would respond when he will tell her that she can not return to the aboveground or ever see her family again.
Then he remembered her daughter's tears slowly coursing down her face.
He stretched out his gloveless hand over Sarah's chest and with his other hand, slid it under her head cradling the back of her neck.
He felt so tired. He could have lain on the hard stone floor and slept soundly, but first things first. He concentrated pulling from the center of himself, what was left of his power. He felt it painfully beat out of him, a light pink and yellow glow out of his hand and into the body of Sarah.
Perspiration dotted both his and her brow. He knew that on some level, though unconscious, she could feel the reconstruction of her body parts that were damaged by the accident. Bones were knitted in seconds, tissue interlaced and made smooth, blood flow invigorated. It was hard on them both.
Then the golden pink tinged glow ebbed from them both and he slumped to her side, his head mere inches from hers. He groggily saw her eyes blink open, confusion warring in her beautiful green orbs as they settled on his face.
Beautiful, he thought to himself quietly.
Like fresh leaves in spring. "Jareth?"
Sarah sat up clutching the sheets to her chest, worry etched on her features as she saw the Goblin King before her looking pale and ill. She had always remembered him as powerful, arrogant, and imposing. She reached her hand to him, about to get up and look for help.
He gently gripped her hand and brought it to his cheek, proud to feel her pulse beating strongly. "I'm fine. Just…let me rest a bit." Sarah nodded, not wanting to upset him when he obviously was not well. She slightly blushed, as she realized the hand that held hers was without gloves. It seemed oddly…intimate. She marveled at his long, beautiful, and sadly bruised fingers.
He sighed and rested his head on his right forearm and within seconds was fast asleep.
Jareth felt like he was in some kind of mental fog as he battled unconsciousness. He awoke to find himself in his bed, wearing fresh linen clothes. Sarah was away from him looking out the rounded window. She was wearing the same clothes she wore when she went into the hospital only now they seemed clean and pressed. Her hair was down and the warm air roused and lifted her long strands. He felt something stir in his soul. Though she was older he could still see his Sarah. Her green eyes focused, her stance strong, as she surveyed the land with a love equal to any labyrinth inhabitant.
She must have heard him sit up because she turned to him and smiled. She gracefully walked to him and sat on the edge of the bed beside him, not sure if it was appropriate to hold his hand. She seemed a little…shy.
"How long have I slept?" he asked.
He placed his hand over hers and she looked at him. Her face holding an expression he could not exactly read. She seemed anxious, happy, afraid, and maybe a little sad.
"Sir Didymus and Hoggle told me what you did."
His grip tightened but she ignored it. Trust Sarah to jump into the heart of things.
She continued, "For the longest time I wondered over our parting." Her eyes fell onto his pendant, the one so many years ago she had forcefully grabbed to pull him to her. Her eyes lifted to his lips, to that seductive cruel mouth. Then her gaze drifted to the side of his cheek. Her brows furrowed. "It was wrong of me to have hit you. I – I owe you everything."
Her king turned his face away from her, avoiding her gaze. "You owe me nothing. You do not know…what I nearly…how close I came to erasing…" He found it hard to breathe. Did he dare tell her everything? Would she still look at him if she knew what had nearly transpired that night so many years ago for her but mere days for him? He let go of her hand – he could deny her nothing.
"For many years I have watched over you. I have seen your world through a cacophony of smiles, tears, fights, and daily happenings. I watched your children grow up. I have seen…you happy. It was the most…beautiful…" He had meant her smile but the words seemed appropriate for everything he saw in her life. Her world, her home encompassed beauty to him. Because she was there. His Sarah.
"All that would have been undone Sarah. I nearly…killed your children." In the ensuing silence, he quietly got up from the bed and made for the door. He imagined her loathing him and thought it best that she have the room to herself, while he retreated fearing that though she was alive he had lost her, again. He was shocked when he felt her hand tentatively touch his shoulder.
"Don't leave me."
"I know what you did for me, and what it cost you. My children are alive and well and I am alive because of you. Hear an old woman out – in my life I loved two men. One of them I thought did not know the meaning of love, only the challenge of cat and mouse games. The other I lost because fate can be cruel. I will always love my Eric, and I will never forget him. But don't let me lose you, not when I finally understand."
She looked at her hand on his shoulder, noting the wrinkles and dull color and suddenly felt self-conscious. She was after all an old woman. Why would someone like him want anything to do with her when she looked like this?
He pulled her to him, both hearts wildly beating as he closed his arms around her. She closed her eyes and pressed her face into his chest; she could smell the scent of freshly laundered linens and behind it an exotic blend of magic, spice, and power.
He pulled away and knelt on one knee. A crystal suddenly in his hand, balanced on his fingertips, offered to her.
"Take it," he smiled.
She took the orb from him and held it carefully with both hands.
"What is it?" she smiled back. It was kind of fun teasing each other just like they used to when she was younger.
"It's a gift. I have missed the opportunity to give you a birthday present."
She laughed. "I think I should have like 40 of these then."
He smiled but the look he gave was a little more serious. "Make a wish."
She closed her eyes and the crystal popped like a soap bubble. A breeze swirled around her whipping her hair around. Her features changed and her hair magically darkened from root to tip. Her wrinkles smoothed into soft lively skin, and her posture became taller, straighter. The air stopped swirling around her and before Jareth stood Sarah as she was perhaps when she was 20 years old.
She looked down to him and saw his appreciative glance. "You did not have to do that just for me."
She smiled, "I wanted to – for us. Consider it an early wedding gift."
A startled yelp escaped her now rosy lush lips as he grabbed her by the waist and twirled her around. She was getting dizzy but she could hear his laughter ringing across the room. She could afford a little dizziness.
He stopped and her feet were back on the ground as he dipped down to press his mouth to the nape of her throat. "I love you," he whispered across her skin. She shivered and leaned in to him, seeking to show him rather than say how she felt with a sensual kiss.
The dizziness was back with a vengeance and she knew, quite happily, it would never go away.
A/N: To everyone out there who loves bittersweet, tragic endings, in case you were wondering, no I did not cop out under pressure and suddenly give a happy ending. When I first envisioned this story, this was the ending I initially came up with. I had a lot of fun writing this and I am surprised I have actually completed a fanfiction (I tend to have a short attention span). I appreciate everyone who has read this story and even more so, the wonderful people who took the time to write a review (THANK YOU!).
orientalbunny (Yay! I'm done! Woohoo!)