Paisley Rose

Disclaimer: I don't own Labyrinth. I don't own the characters. I just have the ideas, it's a gift.


Outside the dark window, the white owl had been perched with his

claws hooked on a branch, an effigy of watching and waiting. Now he

swooped away over the park, on silent velvet wings, up toward the

full moon. Nobody saw him, white in the moonlight, black against the



Chapter one

The Storm

Sarah had parked her car she could not resist just one walk in her old park. Twenty years had done little to change the wonderful old park. The obelisk was still standing, and the swans still swam seamlessly in the pond. She crossed the old stone bridge and looked at the little knolls. It was gray, and looked like it might rain. She walked to the place where she'd recited the lines from the book she'd been reading to her old sheepdog, Merlin. Though the night was warm she felt a shiver. 'Now what would it hurt?' she asked herself. 'No one is here.' She looked at the obelisk and said in a clear penetrating voice, the voice of a woman who'd lived a full life. "Give me the child!" She paused, not even the wind answered. She looked down; a trifle disappointed that there had been nothing. A clock above the little pavilion in the park chimed seven times and penetrated Sarah's concentration. She turned going back the way she'd come to return to her car. Crossing the bridge she didn't notice the owl swooping out of the tree and coming to rest on the obelisk. She didn't see that it watched her intently with feral eyes.

The old Victorian stood as it had for years, looking like a sentinel. Sarah pulled her little car into the driveway, her father's car was packed and parked at the curb. She was only too happy to house sit for her folks; she loved the old house and never got tired of being there. Stepping from her car she looked at it from the perspective of an adult with loving childhood memories. Now many times she'd used the house as the subject of one of her drawings she'd lost count. She was standing in the rain, lost in the memories, when a voice cut though the reverie like a hot knife.

"Oh, really! Just don't stand there, come in out of the rain!" Karen, her stepmother, was standing on the porch as she'd done twenty years ago. She was still wearing her signature pink clothes after all this time. Only now it was a pink running outfit, instead of the pink Channel suit. Sarah nearly laughed at her when she next said in that breathy tone she got when flustered. "Sarah, you're an hour late ..."

Sarah bound up the stairs and hugged the other woman. "Oh Karen, don't ever change!"

Karen looked at her. "You act like we've done this before."

Nodding the younger woman shook the rain off her coat. "Twenty years ago, to the day. I came home late from the park when I was to baby-sit. You said those exact same words to me, right here on the porch. The only things missing are Merlin, and Toby squalling."

Karen rolled her eyes at the memory of the great shaggy hound. "Lord what a mess he made when he was wet!" Karen exclaimed. "Let me guess, I sent him into the garage." At that moment a dog in the neighborhood howled, and both women laughed.

Sarah handed her coat to her step mom. "Yep, so is daddy ready? He must be so pleased to have won this trip. A weekend in Atlantic City! You are going to have a wonderful time."

Karen looked up the stairs, "He says he is, who knows." She smiled at her stepdaughter. "I really want to thank you for house sitting for us this weekend. Your brother is off to one of his electronic conventions, so asking him was out of the question."

"Glad to do it." Sarah said slyly. "Paul has the kids this weekend and I hate kicking round my place without them. I wanted to get up into the attic here anyway. I think I've got a box of ornaments up there, and some other stuff I haven't seen in years."

"Your boxes are marked, Sarah. Take what ever you want. Oh," she looked up the stairs where Sarah's dad was working his way down, one step at a time. "Robert! Why do refuse to use your cane?"

The man waved his hand at her, "It's my hip not yours." He groused. He winked at his daughter. "Hey good looking," he teased, "Wanna go dancing."

Both Sarah and Karen snickered at the movements the man on the stairs made. More and more over the years the two had forged a working truce. They would never be as close as Sarah and her real mother were, but they were no longer enemies. Once on the main floor Robert was ushered quickly to the door by his wife and daughter. Sarah waved off her folks and locked the front door.

Looking up the stairs, she thought of that rainy night twenty years ago. When she had run upstairs, close to tears over nothing. She walked up the stairs, and went to the hall. For a moment she looked down the hall as if expecting someone or something to be there. She shook the feeling off and opened the door to her old room.

Karen had kept the furniture just as it had been when Sarah had lived at home. The pretty white and gilded French Provincial set still looked like a fairytale dream. Except gone now were the posters and toys, and her old storybooks had long ago been brought to her home for the enjoyment of her two children. Now the room was used as a guestroom. The patchwork quilt was still there, as well as the amber colored drapes. Sarah smiled as she looked in the room.

Sarah turned and saw the lamp in her parents room flicker. "That blasted socket is finally going." She said out loud to herself, feeling less alone when she talked to herself aloud. "I'd better turn that one off before it shorts out." Again the light flickered madly.

Stepping into the room something totally out of place caught her eye in the flickering lamplight. On the floor, was something she had not seen in years. Something that should not be here on this floor now, something that didn't belong here at all. The teddy bear was spread-eagled on the carpet, just tossed away, like that. Sarah picked Lancelot up and clutched him to her. "Lancelot?" she asked in a timid voice.

The gathering storm delivered a lightning flash and clap of thunder directly above the house that rattled the windows in their frames. Sarah jumped and let out a yelp. Outside a dog was barking, warning of some eminent danger. The howl was ear piercing and if Sarah had not known better she would have sworn it was Merlin's howl coming form her parent's garage.

The lightning and thunder crashed again, Sarah clutched the bear tighter to her. This was too much like what she remembered of that night. Sarah glanced at her reflection in Karen's vanity mirror. Half expecting to see a fifteen year old looking back instead of a woman of thirty five. She tossed the bear defiantly to the bed, just as she had done that night and took a seat. "It was a story, I told him a story… it was just a story…"

Thunder shook the house and rain pelted the windows. The Storm was growing stronger.

"All I said was I wish…." The storm raged on over the house, clouds boiled and rain lashed the leaves on the trees. Thunder was followed by lightning, the light flicked and went out.

Sarah felt her heart thumping, and she put her hand over her mouth, to stop

herself from screaming. She could hear something she didn't want to hear, she was frightened, by a soft, rapid thumping on the windowpane. A white owl was flapping insistently on the glass. Something ran across the bed and she jumped off and stood in very near the spot she'd been in when she'd discovered Toby missing from his crib. Lightning crackled and flashed again, Sarah's lips parted, but she made no sound.

Behind her, something snickered, and ducked down again behind the chest of drawers. Shadows were dancing across the walls. Hissing and snickering surrounded her. 'Goblins' she thought franticly, 'Goblins'.

The storm wind rose to a pitch. Lightning made daylight in the room, the thunder boomed and the wind shook the curtains, a blast of air blew the window open. Between the fluttering curtains the white owl entered. Sarah wrapped her arms around her face, "No!" she cried out, "Go away!"

She felt the wind blowing her hair around, but the flapping had ceased between her fingers she peeked out. Prolonged crackling of lightning was throwing a giant shadow on the wall facing the window. It was the shadow of a figure, a male figure. Silhouetted against the stormy sky was a man. He wore a cloak, dark as night and covered in stardust which swirled in the wind. She could see that his hair was shoulder-length and blond. Something glinted about his neck. More than that she could not see in the dim light. The air in the room was filled with a spicy scent, his scent. Sarah felt her lips move and the word came from her throat before she could stop it. "Jareth."

His eyes were fixed upon Sarah's with a compelling intensity. When he took a step toward her, she did not retreat. Light from the hall spilled into the dim room, and she could see he was dressed much as he had been that first night so long ago. Cream-colored shirt, open at the front, loose-sleeved, with silken cuffs at the wrist. Over it he wore a tight, black waistcoat or was it midnight blue. He was shod in black boots, over black fitted breeches, and on his hands, gloves of soft kidd leather. The golden chain around his neck had a sickle-shaped ornament hung from it, upon his chest. He still moved with grace, and was still incredibly handsome.

She resisted a ridiculous impulse to curtsy; instead she stood perfectly still and stared at him. He smiled at her hesitancy. She had not expected that. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper. "Jareth?"

Jareth chuckled, thunder rumbled, and lighten flashed. "Sarah." He bowed to her slightly, saying her name as only he could. It was like a caress that you didn't want started, and dreaded ending. With a teasing smile, Jareth watched her face, Sarah's lips parted involuntarily. "Is this all the welcome I get? And on our anniversary too?"

Sarah backed away. "You're not real?"

He winked at her. "Think again, dear." Jareth raised his left arm, and made a large gesture with his hand, a glowing crystal had appeared in his hand. "I've brought you a gift, Sarah," he said, holding it out to her. His voice was quieter now, and huskier. "Do you want it, Sarah?"

She paused knowing she could not trust him. "What is it?" her words echoed words of the past.

"A crystal, nothing more." With a teasing smile, Jareth watched her face, while he spun the shining crystal around in his fingers. Her hand started to reach out for it, just as she'd reached for the one he'd offered twenty years before. He smiled a little more, and withdrew the crystal from her.

Sarah pulled her hand back quickly. "No, I don't want it."

"I think you do." He said softly. "I think you very much want my gift."

Turning her back on him she crossed her arms and closed her eyes. "I want nothing you have to off me, Goblin King."

"So formal? When only moments ago you called me Jareth." He was at her ear.

She willed her eyes to stay closed. From behind shut eyelids, she heard a voice answering. Her own voice, but it seemed to be a memory. "I -- I can't. It isn't that I don't appreciate what you're trying to do for me ... but.."

Dark gloved dug into her arms. "Look at me when you address me." He ordered in a voice that was ridding an ocean of anger.

"No." she kept her eyes shut tight now. "I won't look at you."

The hands gripping her arms softened their grip. "Sarah." Jareth sounded impatient. "Don't defy me," he turned her to face him, took her face into the gloved hands. "Look at me."

Blinking she opened her eyes, "You're not real." She proclaimed in a shaky voice.

"Same old Sarah." Jareth teased. He wiggled his fingers in front of her face then pinched her arm, hard. "Did that hurt?" When she nodded, he smiled. "I'd say that proves I'm real."

Sarah rubbed the place on her arm he'd pinched. "What do you want? Why are you here, why now?" She moved to put space between her and the man of her nightmares. "There's nothing here for you, Goblin King. No baby to steal."

What humor had been on his face quickly faded. Lightning traced the veins of the sky and lit up his face. He was not smiling, his expression was fierce, feral. His eyes were fixed upon Sarah's, and he was beyond angry. Jareth watched her face, too intently for her liking. Though he'd not made a move, he commanded the room. He had lost patience with the woman long ago, and his face still showed it.

Goblins crept from the shadows, or popped out from their hiding places, and stood, all around the room, brazen now, watching to see what their king would do to her. Sarah felt their eyes on her; it was a feeling she didn't like. She could hear the hissing and the snickers. Whispers of encouragement to the fury of their King, as the storm raged on.

"What a pity." Jareth's voice was low, gentle, and almost sad as though he really meant it. But there was mocking in his eyes. "No baby for me to, what was that you said? Oh yes…steal." There was loud snickering and he barked. "Quiet."

Sarah began to edge her way backward, toward the hall door. Thinking of escape.

Jareth read her mind and laughed. "Going somewhere, my dear?" he pointed to the place where the hall door had been, it was now a blank wall. "Now we can not have that, can we?" the goblins in the room snickered and howled with laughter.

"What do you want?" She demanded digging deep into her memory for the defiant bravado she'd used as a shield though her journey into his Labyrinth.

Jareth chuckled. "You know very well what I want."

"Toby is grown, and he's not here." She set her lips in a thin line.

For a moment, they regarded each other, adversaries trying to size each other up at the outset of a long contest. Thunder rumbled. "Sarah ..." Jareth frowned, and shook his head, his voice seductive. "Do you really think if I wanted Toby I'd be here? He's not here, your parents are not here. The only one here is…you." His nostrils tightened, his lips twitched. Lightning crackled and flashed again, his expression on his handsome face drew a response of terror. He began moving and she moved away.

"You arranged this? My parent's winning that trip to Atlantic City, and Toby's convention did you arrange that as well?" Sarah was franticly putting all the pieces together. "Why? What do you want from me?" She looked at the window he'd flown through in owl form. He was herding her toward it, toward what lay beyond it. "The castle beyond the Goblin City." She said in astonishment. On a distant hill, brilliant in the flashes, she saw a castle. She leaned on the windowsill, trying to see more clearly. There were towers with turrets, massive walls, spires and domes, a portcullis and drawbridge. The whole edifice was built on top of a sharply rising mound. Around it the lightning flickered and forked like snakes' tongues. Beyond was blackness. "It's still there?"

"Of course it's still there." Jareth whispered at her ear. "Waiting." He placed gloved hands at her shoulders.

She was looking at the castle. It seemed to be a long way off, "Why show me the castle?" She tired to pull away from the window. He blocked her with his body, with his hands and with his very essences. "There's nothing for me in that castle. Toby is not there, you have no power over me." She pushed against him to gain her freedom.

"Oh Toby is not the only bargaining chips I can play with, Sarah." He brought the crystal in front of her. "Look, what I have in my clutches now, dear girl."

Sarah didn't want to look, but had no choice. What she saw caught her breath and stilled her heart. "No, it can't be." She took the crystal into her own hands and stared. In the depths were her own two children sitting in the throne room of the Goblin Castle. Her son, her daughter, sitting surrounded by goblins. "How? I never told them about you, or about the words…How?"

The hand that had held the crystal now snaked round her waist. "I have my ways," he teased. "Now, do you want to here my offer?"

"I want to know how you managed to get your hands on my children!" she dropped the orb.

"Their father wished them away." He said quietly. "Seems they were interfering in an unplanned liaison. His lady friend didn't like having them round. Pity."

"No, Paul wouldn't do that." Sarah said trying to convince herself that her husband could not have been so stupid. "You set him up, you set this whole thing up, didn't you?"

"Did I?" He teased at her ear. Her shudder drew a snicker from him. "Yes, some of it I did set up. Your parents being away, and Toby. Your house sitting for your parents, that was my suggestion as well. Paul that's your ex-husband's name is it not? His wishing your babes away, that I didn't arrange. That my darling Sarah was serendipity."

"How could he have known what to say?" Sarah felt faint. "I never told anyone about that night. I've never even said a word to Toby about it."

"You really amaze me Sarah." Jareth laughed as he now supported her weight. "You think you are the only person in the entire world to ever hear the story of the Goblin King?"

"What do you want?" She turned her head to look at his profile.

"I want you to run the Labyrinth again." He coaxed gently.

"I've already beaten your Labyrinth." She reminded him.

"Yes, well that was then, this is now. Things are different, you are different. And I assure you, darling Sarah. The Labyrinth is different too." Holding out his hand the orb rose from where Sarah had dropped it to the floor. He looked in and said. "And as their father had no intentions of even trying to win them back, I thought I'd be generous and make the offer to you, their loving mother."

"You're a bastard." Sarah sighed knowing it was hopeless. "What do I have to do?"

The hand that held her waist tightened, "Now that's my girl." He sounded too pleased. "You have thirteen hours to unriddle the Labyrinth," Jareth told her, "before your babies becomes part of us." Jareth nodded. "Forever. Time is shorter, and things are different." His hand pulled her closer. "Do be careful, won't you?"

"Different how?" she tried to ignore his closeness.

"It's not the same Labyrinth you remember, sweetheart. It's changed. It's more dangerous in ways you've never dreamed of." He slid his lips over her ear. "I'm more dangerous, now too." She quivered and he added. "And you won't be getting any help from the three traitors who gave you assistance before. I've seen to that." He breathed in her scent. "Then again you can just surrender to me now, and live as my slave the rest of your days."

"I beat you once." She said defiantly.

"Yes, you did." He admitted. "But you had help, there'll be no help this time." He edged her over the windowsill. "Do you accept the challenge?"

"I have no choice." Sarah swung her legs over the windowsill. Like the first time she was wearing jeans and a poet shirt, this time she had loafers on instead of the walking shoes she'd worn. "It's not that far."

Jareth was at her elbow now. He looked at her, with a smile that was icy. "It's farther than you think." He watched as the wind whipped up and blew her hair. No longer was it down her back, but it was still long and fell softly over her shoulders. "What a pity." He said in that airy tone as he vanished. "What a pity."

She looked across again at the castle. The storm had passed away. Blades of clouds sliced across the moon. She thought she glimpsed the figure of an owl, high above, wings spread wide on the air, as he flew steadily away from her. "Cheat." She shouted at the bird of prey as it winged away from her. She looked at the path down the hillside. "Here we go again." She sighed as she took her first steps and nearly tumbled down the steep hillside.