Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with the movie Labyrinth . It is a heartbreaking admission, but there it is. I do own my personal Original Characters (hurrah!); in the extremely unlikely event that anyone likes them enough to want to include them in their own fic, that is perfectly all right as long as you let me know.
The title and opening quote comes courtesy of Bryan Ferry's A Fool For Love ; all the chapter titles are taken, as before, from the works of the great Mr Bowie.
Author's Note: I like romance. I abhor saccharine sentiment. However, it's a fine line between the two and largely dependent on personal taste. I have tried to keep the aura of romance (in all senses of the word) that I feel is an integral part of Labyrinth , but without making it sloppy. I have tried to rise to the challenge of writing Jareth and Sarah as a believable couple, while maintaining their very determined personalities.
I leave it to you to tell me if I have got it right
Fool For Love
In days gone by
There was a king
A fool for love
And all it brings
So high and wise
Could read your mind
A fool for love
And love is blind
Chapter One: Mornings of Gold...Valentine Evenings
'Once upon a time-'
'There was a very beautiful, very annoying girl named Sarah-'
'And a very handsome, very arrogant king named Jareth. And I am not annoying.'
'It doesn't bother you that I just called you arrogant?'
'I am the Goblin King. Arrogance goes with the job. Now keep still.'
Sarah bit her lower lip and tried to stop flinching at the feather-light touch working its way across and down her lower back. Literally feather-light - the tip of Jareth's quill flowed easily over her smooth skin. He paused, reading the words thoughtfully and fitting them with the melody in his head. A slight frown appeared on his smooth brow and, turning the quill so the feathered end rested on her skin, erased the last line. Sarah sucked in a breath, her back arching.
'Stop that,' he growled.
'Easy for you to say, Maestro. How hard can it be to write a song, anyway?' She stretched out, enjoying the coolness of the fine linen sheets, and propped her chin up on her hands, peering at him over one shoulder. 'As far as I can tell the Goblins make them up all the time in about five seconds flat. And you're supposed to be their king.'
'As the Goblins only know two tunes and most of their songs are about breaking things or chickens - or, if they are feeling especially creative, breaking things and chickens - they are not so much extending an entire repertoire of unique pieces as performing variations on a theme.' Apparently struck by inspiration, Jareth began to write again. 'If, however, you are like me, you demand perfection from all things. And perfection takes time.' He jabbed the quill emphatically.
'Ow!' Sarah rolled onto her back and looked up at him. The hazy early morning light, still determinedly making its way across the floor, enhanced the pale gold of his skin. 'So, when do I get to hear this masterpiece?'
He scowled at her. 'You've just smudged it all; you do realise that, don't you?'
Her eyes sparkled playfully. 'I'm just giving you more time to get it perfect. And time is one thing we have plenty of down here.'
He leaned over her, one hand either side of her head so she lay like a mouse trapped between a cat's paws. 'It certainly is.'
Sarah put her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to hers.
'So, basically what you're saying is that you have all of this, like, cosmic power and you can do pretty much anything you want, but you can't create a VCR?'
Jareth, controller of the Labyrinth, master of time, Goblin King, locked eyes with his prepubescent interlocutor. 'I did not say I couldn't do it, Toby; but in case you haven't noticed we do not have, nor do we need, an electricity supply in the Underground.'
Toby folded his arms and regarded him sceptically. 'Yeah, in other words, you can't do it!'
'Sarah...' Jareth rounded on her appealingly.
She held up a fork. 'Leave me out of it. You got yourself into this one...' She continued with her breakfast.
Jareth's lips curled into a vicious smile; his voice was oily. 'There are times, my heart, when I think it would have been wiser to leave you in the bottom of that oubliette.'
Sarah tilted her head to one side. 'And there are times I think that when you were an owl I should have taken the opportunity to have you shot, stuffed and mounted. You would have looked beautiful over the fireplace.'
'Ugh, get a room.'
He had slumped down in his chair and was pushing his food around his plate; he yawned loudly. Sarah inspected him with mild concern - there were dark circles under his eyes that gave him a rather owlish look.
'Didn't you get much sleep last night?'
'I had an astronomy lesson,' he said though another yawn. 'Which was totally awesome, but I don't think it's fair that I still have to get up for lessons when I've been up all night.'
She suppressed a smile at her brother's complaint. 'Well, you did want Ambrosius to teach you,' Sarah pointed out.
Toby rolled his eyes. 'I know that. Jareth, was Ambrosius this bad when he was teaching you?'
'Oh, no.' Jareth's eyes glittered. 'He was far worse. I believe he's softening as he gets older - count yourself lucky, boy.'
Toby received this information with evident disgust and speared another piece of bacon with his fork.
Since Sarah had taken the decision to remain in the Underground she, Toby and Jareth had fallen into something resembling a normal family life. (At least, as normal as it could be for two mortals living with the immortal ruler of a magical land.) Not that Jareth in any way attempted to act as a father substitute to the orphaned Toby - and to an outsider their exchanges may even appear hostile - but a close relationship had developed between the two. To Toby, Jareth was mentor, elder brother, protector and sometimes playmate. And Jareth extended to Toby that fierce devotion he gave to those he loved the most. Jareth was a mass of contradictions, but Sarah had realised - possibly later than she should - that beneath his quixotic personality and habitual mask of hauteur his emotions were deeply felt and his heart true.
Not that she told him this very often, as he was, in her opinion, vain enough as it was.
She settled herself more comfortably in her chair and gazed out of the window. During the warmer weather their breakfasts had been taken on one of the terraces. The fact that the Underground had seasons at all had come as a surprise to Sarah: she had, somehow, imagined that it existed in a state of perpetual high summer. But autumn had come, setting the Labyrinth ablaze with deep russets, golds and flaming crimsons. And then winter had arrived: not the bleak, black and occasionally soggy season that Sarah was accustomed to, but long days that were icily cold, hard, clear and beautiful. The Labyrinth looked as though it had been carved from a glacier and sparkled with ice crystals under the morning sun. Great snowdrifts built up overnight and as Sarah looked out a small work party of Goblins - armed with shovels, and with brightly coloured scarves and hats added to their regular clothes - began to clear the gravelled pathways around the castle.
Jareth took great pride in showing off the beauties each season brought. He was part of the Labyrinth, and it part of him; Sarah wanted to love it for his sake and found that proposition far easier than she had imagined.
'You will love it in the spring.' His voice broke into her thoughts and she met his eyes with a smile, no longer surprised at his ability to know what was in her mind.
'I love it now.'
Those perfect, sculpted features softened. He reminded himself that Sarah's ten-year-old brother was still in the room with them; had they been alone...
A rustling sound in the corner of the room provided a distraction from these pleasant thoughts. The woman who had appeared so abruptly was greeted warmly. With her golden-blonde hair and glittering two-tone eyes, Delaine bore a strong resemblance to her brother. The Princess had lived for many years Aboveground and had achieved great success as an author of fantasy novels - most of which, as Sarah had learnt, were accounts of actual events in the history of the Underground and its neighbouring realms. Toby had been a huge fan long before he had ever met her and although he had not quite got beyond the stage of turning a delicate shade of pink whenever Delaine addressed him directly, he put on a great show of nonchalance as she advanced towards them. Delaine had been spending less time in the mortal world recently, but her appearance marked her return from a brief visit.
'I thought I'd find you all in here, you slackers! Some of us have been up for hours.' As time Aboveground bore little relation to time Underground, this was Delaine's idea of a joke. She dropped a flat brown paper parcel next to Toby. 'I thought you might like these.'
The wrapper, once displaced, revealed a number of comic books. His eyes lit up. 'Thanks!'
She beamed at him benevolently and skirted the table to sit next to Sarah. 'It's nice to be home,' she said, stretching out her arms. 'Jolly cold out, isn't it?' There were times when Delaine sounded as though she had just stepped out of an English boarding school from the 1950s; Sarah could only suppose that it was because, as a timeless and immortal being, Delaine had no real concept of what modern was.
'So,' Delaine's brother enquired, 'what fascinating news do you bring from Aboveground this time?'
'The usual,' she replied, daintily cutting up an apple, 'war, death, famine and pestilence. But everyone is talking about the latest conspiracy theory about the location of the Holy Grail.'
'Mortals,' Jareth muttered. 'Anyone with any sense knows perfectly well that the Grail is still in-'
A commotion at the doors drowned out his words.
'You cannot go in there! His Majesty is at breakfast!'
Feet scuffled against the floor until three beings spilled forwards: two Goblins and Sir Didymus. After the ferocious battle that had nearly destroyed the Underground, Jareth had insisted that Sir Didymus give up his self-imposed guarding of the Bog of Eternal Stench and had appointed him Head of the Royal Household. Arrayed in the ceremonial colours of black and purple and with a huge white plume curling up from his new velvet cap, Sir Didymus took his new duties very seriously. No-one was sure exactly what those new duties were, but Jareth was quite happy for the fox to invent them for himself as he saw fit.
At the moment he was vibrating with indignation and trotting after two Goblins who were ignoring his scandalised remonstrances. As they proceeded across the breakfast room Sarah recognised Börgis Khån - a lanky, fearsome-looking Goblin who was Captain of the Household Guard. The Goblin with him appeared to be female and Sarah guessed that this was Börgis' wife, Rêta. Among Goblins Rêta was considered a great beauty; Sarah could not see this herself but, as Delaine never tired of reminding her, the ways of Goblins are strange. Rêta was holding a squirming something to her chest that emitted ear-piercing shrieks at regular intervals.
The little cavalcade came to a halt in front of Jareth.
'Your Majesty, I informed my,' Sir Didymus pronounced the next words with great reluctance, 'brother-in-arms that the hours wherein thou shalt receive visitations hath not yet commenced!' His voice rose in the effort to be heard over the low growls emanating from Börgis Khån and the screeches from the writhing mound in Rêta's arms.
Jareth had pinched the bridge of his nose and inhaled deeply. 'It's all right, Didymus. Börgis!' Silence fell immediately following the bellowed name. Jareth, now standing, glared down at the Goblin. 'Well?'
'My son, Majesty,' Börgis replied in guttural accents, drawing himself up with pride and gesturing to the form Rêta clutched firmly.
'Congratulations!' Delaine exclaimed, peering over Sarah's shoulder. 'It's your first, isn't it, Rêta?
Rêta grinned at the Princess and extended her arms so that they could see. The child resembled an oversized walnut, with large bloodshot eyes and a vast quantity of spiky black hair. 'Oh, he's very handsome, isn't he, Sarah?'
'Er...' Sarah eyed the mewling infant. 'Yes. He's, er, cute.' She was about to extend a cautious hand, but felt a restraining pressure on her wrist. Delaine's smile was still in place but she muttered out of the corner of her mouth, 'I'd keep my fingers away from its mouth, if I were you.'
Jareth seized it, holding the squirming infant in one hand and examining it at though it were produce at an agricultural fair. 'What is its name?'
'Börgis,' said Börgis. 'I named him after me.'
The Goblin King nodded approvingly. 'Good choice.' The baby Goblin shot out a hand, grabbed hold of a hefty lock of Jareth's hair and yanked it sharply. Jareth drew back his lips in a grimace and released his hold, dropping the child unceremoniously into its mother's outstretched hands. Far from being outraged at the cavalier handling of her first-born, Rêta gazed up at Jareth admiringly and thanked him for the interest he had shown in her child.
Jareth grunted and draped himself elegantly across his chair.
'Well, if you two have quite finished...' Sir Didymus ushered the pair along the length of the room, scolding them all the way. Baby Börgis, now held over his mother's shoulder, stared back at the breakfast party, making faces at them.
'So, Börgis and Börgis Junior, huh?' Toby had been unusually quiet until now, apparently absorbed in his comic. 'Not very original.'
'Actually, the child will be Börgis the Fifty-third. Or is it the Fifty-fourth...' Jareth turned his head - one of those characteristically sharp, birdlike movements - and narrowed his eyes at Toby. 'Should you still be here?'
'Oh yeah. I still got time; it's cool.'
'Really? Then what, pray tell, is that?'
A flame had appeared in front of Toby's plate, dancing with sinister intent. From its black centre came a stentorian voice that filled the room. 'Toby Andrew Williams. You are supposed to be at your lesson, learning to read Ancient Runes.' Ambrosius' voice was slowly rising to a deafening level. 'I have been waiting for ten minutes. Put down that ridiculous picture-book,' Toby's eyes widened and he hid the offending item under the table, 'and come here. Now!'
'I'd hurry if I were you,' Jareth stated in his best drawl, 'before that flame sets your hair on fire.'
'He isn't kidding,' Delaine added through a mouthful of grapes. 'I remember one occasion-'
'If you think for one moment-'
'-almost a year for it all to grow back.' Delaine looked at her brother smugly.
Toby slid off his chair. 'I'm going, I'm going.'
Sarah watched his retreating form and then stated emphatically, 'If, in years to come, he has severe psychological trauma it's going to be the fault of the both of you.'
The regal siblings exchanged questioning looks; Jareth shrugged lightly.
'Everything has been arranged for you, Sarah,' Delaine continued. 'You and Toby are booked into the Astoria Lodge and they are expecting you tomorrow.'
'That's great. And thank you for fixing it all up for me, Delaine, I appreciate it.'
Delaine smiled and selected another piece of fruit; from under lowered lashes she glanced sidelong at her brother. He was looking intently at Sarah. There had been some subtle but noticeable differences in Jareth since Sarah had come to live with him: he was as high-handed and demanding as ever and probably about as domesticated as he ever would be (which was not much), but his emotions were now expressed a little more readily and freely than they had been before. His smile was more frequently happy instead of sardonic.
Not that he was smiling now.
Sarah met his gaze. They had already discussed her visit to the Aboveground. They would discuss it again before she left, but not now. It would be a private conversation that both of them longed for and dreaded in equal measure. Sarah pushed her plate away and addressed Delaine. 'So, how is your new book coming along?'
Winter evenings in the Underground were velvety and deep indigo. The setting sun had bowed the day out in its usual spectacular fashion, painting the sky gold and purple before allowing the land to fall into night's shadowy embrace. Sarah had watched the display from the bedroom window and not heard him approach; she started slightly when she felt the heavy fur-lined cloak placed around her shoulders, gloves pressed into her hands and his smooth voice saying, 'Come.'
She turned to face him; in the few seconds that took he had moved them outside. Sarah shook her head slowly, trying to hide the smile at the corners of her mouth. 'I'm getting used to that trick. You'll have to think up a few more if you want to impress me.'
He tutted, looking down at her. 'Oh, Sarah - have you not yet learnt that issuing a challenge to the Goblin King can be very dangerous?'
She wrapped her arms around his waist and raised herself on tiptoe to kiss him. 'I took you down once, oh Goblin King; I can do it again.'
'That sounds promising,' he murmured, claiming her lips so that neither spoke for some time.
When Sarah was finally able to look around, she gasped slightly. The snow had frozen hard beneath their feet, yet against all odds tiny snowdrops had fought their way through and shivered, tremulous and delicate, in the keen breeze. They stood beside a pond, its surface turned milky white from the thick layer of ice; all around them bare trees stood, proud and stark against a sky whose stars glittered diamond-hard. The trees themselves were starred with tiny moving lights; at first Sarah thought that they were fireflies, but when one fluttered close to her face she realised that they were Fairies. They were far smaller than any she had seen before in the Underground; their hair was pure white and their glowing wings almost transparent.
Jareth took her hand and led her to the edge of the ice; the densely packed snow crunched under their feet.
'It's beautiful,' she confirmed. 'Although, if we're going to go ice-skating, skates would probably be a good idea.'
'Whoever said anything about skating?' He pulled her onto the ice, spinning her out across the frozen surface. Sarah gasped involuntarily, gripping his hand more tightly. She remained upright and perfectly balanced, however; her feet barely touched the ice and she skimmed over it effortlessly under the guidance of Jareth's controlling touch. Her arms spread wide, she allowed him to spin her in a wide circle. Sarah laughed, exhilarated, the chill breeze whipping colour into her cheeks.
Jareth did not seem to feel the cold: his red velvet jacket offered little protection against the cold night air and was wide open at the throat, his skin gleaming palely in the moonlight. His face was full of laughter, the way she loved it best. He spun her inwards and danced her across the ice, their bodies moving with the same perfect rhythm they had discovered unexpectedly in a crystal ballroom so many years before.
He watched her, taking more pleasure from seeing her enjoyment than anything else. After loving her and wanting her for so long, the fact that he had won her still seemed incredible to him at times. He had thought that having her with him always would ease the tempest of emotions she had caused in him. He looked at her flushed face, framed by the fur trim of her heavy hood. He had not thought that with each day he would love her and need her more. And tomorrow, for a time, she would leave him. Despite the individual's limited habitation of their world, mortals were careless of their lives and those of others. Jareth could not bear the thought that Sarah was placing herself at risk by walking among them once again. But the Aboveground was Sarah's homeland and it was natural that she should wish, occasionally, to return to the place of her birth. It was an entirely selfish wish to keep her to himself, Underground; but Jareth would have been the first to admit that he was a selfish being. His grip tightened and he pulled her to him, holding her closely against him.
'It's only for a few days,' she whispered and then pulled back, examining his fierce, beautiful face. Sarah hated the thought of leaving him as much as he hated the idea of her going. She and Toby had returned Aboveground only once before, to bury Robert and Karen. Their next visit was more for Toby's sake than her own: despite what the child said at present, he may not always wish to remain in the Underground as he grew older. And Sarah was determined that, should that time ever come, he would be able to make an informed decision about where he wanted to be.
'I will miss you,' Jareth said formally.
Sarah smiled slightly. 'And I'll miss you. But it will be much worse for me, you know; you can reorder time - then it will be like I've never been away at all.'
'Now that, my darling girl, is the first good idea you have had today.'
She narrowed her eyes in a failed attempt to look annoyed; laughter rose to her lips instead. 'I have another one - want to hear it?'
He sighed. 'As you'll probably tell me anyway...'
'We still have tonight. And not that this isn't fun, but it is very cold out here. I think we should probably go inside now, get warmed up.'
He cupped her face in his hand, his fingers lightly caressing her cheek. 'You're right - it's a very good idea.'
To be continued...