Okay, submission number two. I will figure out this site.
Second response to http://pika-la-cynique. 's challenge to write a fic around one of her pictures. She has inadvertendtly inspired me to get back to writing! been a while.
I was listening to the song 'Scarborough Fair' while plotting, and suddently thought, what the heck, I may as well put down the mental image that comes to mind. Plus I prefer my Jareth in this story - a little darker, deliciously cheeky.
This will be expanded into more chapters, as soon as I finish writing the other three that are in progress faint. What have I started?
Reviews always welcome.
The Day You Hoped Would Never Come II
(Listening to: Sarah Brightman – Scarborough Fair)
She enjoyed digging in her garden on weekends, and laughed when Toby picked up his little shovel and bucket and joined her, digging up weeds (and sometimes seedlings), transplanting worms (he was convinced they needed to be moved regularly) and helping her harvest full grown lettuces, pulling up carrots, digging potatoes, picking beans and ripe tomatos. She taught him how to pick the fresh herbs, bind them in bunches to hang and dry in the kitchen.
They had been picking rosemary when it began. Sarah had always grown it with its song counterparts – parsley, sage and thyme. She thought it poetic, and often hummed the song to herself as the turned the earth around them, breathing in deep their rich fragrances. She often felt the need to ground herself – pushing her hands into the dark soil reassured her like nothing else could.
Toby was with her this day. He was busy trying to snap the stubborn stem of a rosemary stem, his fingers stained with dirt and the odor of the first one he had snapped off. He laughed as it gave way and he sat down hard in the dirt. Wiping her forehead with a gloved hand, Sarah laughed with him. His laughter was bright and clear, and Sarah loved the sound of it every time she heard him. She had never forgotten the cost to regain that laugh, never forgotten what she had sacrificed, what she had gone through. The experience (whether she acknowledged it as real or as a dream) had been like a bright light shining onto her heart, showing her faults for all to see. An awakening from childhood. She never wanted to be the person she had been on her way to becoming.
Raising her head to watch her brother, she saw him lose interest in the task at hand, put down the hard-won stalk, and wander further into the garden. The afternoon was cool and overcast and Sarah looked up at the clouds, unsure whether it would rain or not.
'Toby, don't go far – it's nearly time to head inside." He turned his head briefly and gave her a little grin, then continued off down a row of cornstalks, golden heads heavy and ready for harvesting. She watched him go more out of habit, and was about to turn back to her gardening when she saw him stop suddenly. His voice floated to her.
"It's you." Sarah couldn't hear a reply.
"Toby? Are you talking to someone?"
"I remember you. She told me you weren't real, but I remember."
Sarah felt a sickening lurch in her stomach.
"Toby, that's not funny. What game are you playing?" She stood, trying to remain calm, and brushed the dirt off her knees. Toby was looking ahead of himself and upwards, as though looking at someone who stood in front of him, someone much taller...
"Allright. I will." At his words Sarah broke into a run. She saw Toby reach up his hand, and then he was gone.
Gone. She reached the spot where he had been and looked around frantically. Maybe he was hiding in the long cornstalks, playing a trick on her. Yes, that was it, that must be it.
"Toby!" she nearly screamed, all but ripping the stalks out of the ground, denying the truth she had seen before her very eyes. He was gone – his tracks simply stopped. She sank to her knees, staring, too stunned to even cry. She knew, in her heart of hearts, that there was only one place he could have gone.
Her parents were away for the weekend, and had left Toby in her care. She was thankful for small mercies at least, as she stumbled back to the house, dry eyed, that she wouldn't have to explain how she had lost her brother in relatively broad daylight, in the middle of their own backyard. The sun was now setting somewhere behind the clouds, and gloom was gathering slowly. Sarah opened the back door and somehow still had enough presence of mind to kick off her muddy boots before walking through the kitchen. She stopped at the kitchen table, and mechanically reached for the phone. Her hand stopped halfway there, and her mind mocked her. Who are you going to call, Sarah? The police? Help me; my brother has been taken by the Goblin King?
She knew. As much as she had at times tried to dismiss it as a dream, a hallucination, a fantastic nightmare – every time Toby asked her about the tall, pale man with the strange eyes that he dreamed about, her heart stopped for a moment, and she knew. It had happened. She would always smile and dismiss his questions with some made up tale, an excuse, but he would look at her with his clear blue eyes, as though he could tell she was lying. She tried not to take it seriously. But now...
What could she do? What could she do? She pulled out a chair and slumped down onto it, suddenly feeling weak. She didn't want to have to deal with him again. He - who had seen through her, into her every weakness. He who had played with her, like a cat plays with a mouse it has every intention of devouring. He - the beautiful and terrible, the light and dark, the very embodiment of his own Labyrinth. Filled with twists and turns - dead ends and mystery. She had tried to forget the way his eyes, when fixed on her, made her feel. He had begun to awaken a part of her that she hadn't know existed, and caused feelings that she didn't understand, vague, unformed longings for something.
She stood again, and walked slowly upstairs to her old room, her feet heavy. The house was dark, but she needed no light to navigate its familiarity. Toby's room was next to hers, his door half open. She didn't go inside – she knew he wouldn't be there. Her own room had over the years been redecorated in a simpler style – plain painted walls replaced wallpaper, solid wooden furniture instead of canopied beds and frilled nightstands – as if by creating a no-nonsense environment she could forget the fantasy world she had once spun and dreamed inside it. The moonlight streamed out her open door to pool on the floor of the hallway. The moonlight... it was a cloudy evening. Her heart stopped again, and she walked through the doorway, fearing and knowing what she would find inside.
He stood there nonchalantly, no lightning bolts, no blowing wind, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. Dressed simply in black, his eyes glittering, he exuded coiled tension, as if a great black cat lounged against her bedroom wall. The glow that came from him cast half shadows all around the room. She stood frozen in the doorway, unable to think, to comprehend anything but the one name running through her mind.
"Toby... you..." He smirked, that half smile she knew so well.
"Well, well. Here we are again, hm, little Sarah?" His eyes were like icicles, not a scrap of warmth in their alien depths. She was once again struck by that otherworldly presence he radiated. It hadn't been so noticeable in the Labyrinth, where everything gave off a similar aura, but here in the mundane world, it was like sweet nectar and death in the air. She tried speaking again.
"But, I... didn't wish him away. Not this time." His smile broadened.
"Sarah, didn't you know the rules are made to be broken?" his comment broke through her stupor, and she felt rage beginning to course through her veins.
"No! You had no right – bring him back here now!" Her hands balled into fists at her side, but she forced herself to stay still, not forgetting for a moment the dangerous look in his eyes. She couldn't help Toby by provoking his anger. He examined one gloved hand casually, straightening and smoothing the black leather over his long fingers.
"Did you really think I would let him go? No one takes from me what is mine, Sarah." His eyes darkened, and she shivered. "No one."
"But why? You'll just turn him into a goblin..." he held up a hand and stopped her in midsentence.
"Now, that's not being very fair to me, is it - little Sarah? Why would I do something like that?" She was confused for a moment, and then her mind remembered what he had said that first time they met.
"You have thirteen hours in which to solve the Labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us, forever..." She looked up into his eyes to see a glint of amusement before he spread his hands and looked down at himself.
"Do I look like a goblin, Sarah?" his voice was mocking. And a thought she'd had many times since returning came back to her – was he the only one of his kind in that world? She had always assumed he meant to turn her brother into a goblin – but to what end? Just because that was what evil villains in fairy tales did? She had taken so many things for granted before, made so many assumptions. She remembered what he had said to her at the end.
"I have reordered time, I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me..."
She knew, she had come to realize over time that nothing had been what it seemed, that so much of what she saw was put on for her benefit. She had been too young to understand it then, but in the years that had passed, she had been forced to acknowledge her own ignorance, her childishness, her selfishness. And she knew that he had been right. But that didn't mean he could come back now and shatter the peace she had tried to hard to build.
"I need an heir, little Sarah." The way he spoke her name so condescendingly made her grind her teeth together. "Children do not come easily to the Faeran. And as the years go by and less people believe in us, fewer children are wished away to our realm. We treasure any that we can get." His eyes narrowed. "Tell me, does Toby speak of what happened?"
She didn't want to dignify him with an answer, but she knew he could see the truth in her eyes anyway. Toby, almost as soon as he learned to talk, was always telling her about his 'dreams' – fairies, goblins, a faraway land and a castle. And most of all, the tall, beautiful figure of the Goblin King. He had not forgotten, and she knew from the way he spoke of his dreams that he had not been mistreated in the time he spent there. In fact, when he told her about his latest 'dream', his eyes would shine and excitement would colour his voice. His voice broke through her thoughts, echoing what she had been thinking.
"Was the child harmed in any way? Was he unhappy?" she shook her head mutely. In fact, she had thought sometimes that he seemed so much brighter and happier than other children his age. There was a glow about him, which she now recognized as being similar to the atmosphere that rolled off the Goblin King in waves. The Underground had made its indelible mark on him. She raised her eyes to meet his, her despair and grief apparent in them.
"I'm granting your brother immortality, a chance to rule my kingdom. You should be rejoicing, little Sarah. How many little boys that you know get this chance?" his voice was a parody of comfort, it held no true warmth or sympathy. "But, you know how generous I can be. I will not leave you without a gift." With a twist of his hand, a crystal appeared in his fingers. He held it out to her.
"Your dreams, Sarah. Just as I promised you before. You should know I am always a man of my word." He smiled showing sharp white teeth. Her fists clenched by her side and she refused to look at it or take it. One winged eyebrow lifted. "It's all the same to me. Never let it be said I wasn't liberal – I would so hate for my reputation to be sullied." His grin widened. With a flick of his fingers the crystal floated from his open hand to land on her desktop.
Sarah felt as though her throat was closing over, her world darkening. He bowed to her mockingly, his eyes never leaving hers. The Goblin King seemed to gather himself, and leapt into the air, transforming into his owl form with a shockwave of power that made her stagger. He flew straight into the mirror and disappeared with a shrill cry, the surface rippling like a stone thrown into water. A single white feather drifting down was all that marked his passage. She stood for a long time, not moving.