A/N: I daresay this is the part of the story where I fall, pleadingly to my knees and beg for the forgiveness of everyone who has ever read this story or ever will read this story because I'm a rotten updater, half of you on alert probably got this and haven't read it in so long that you don't know what it is, I am horribly terribly late and this chapter is short. I do so now.

I was shaken back to the realisation that this fic exists by Jane Owen. I really am very sorry. My life has been extremely mad (well, madder than usual, I should say) and I don't always remember that projects exist unless I am reminded.

This is the part of the story where I ask for your help.

In order to have some semblance of regular updates, I need someone who will PM me regularly and (not too meanly) bug me about my lack of updates. This person needs to be able to do this fairly often (once a week or so) so more than one person would be welcome. Interested parties need not apply, merely throw reminders at me. This will result in an Authoress Who Updates Regularly instead of the Rotten in Updating Slime-Bucket I have become. Thanks in advance!

The reason this chapter is so short is actually quite simple: it isn't an entire chapter. The original draft had it much, much longer and this is only the first bit of it. However, I was so eager to give you patient people SOMETHING that I decided to cut it here and write the rest this weekend, in which you will meet a certain someone I have always loved and come to the realisation of why exactly he was in that tree in the first place.

Thank you for your time. You guys rock!

This chapter is dedicated to Jane Owen

Who reminded me that the story existed

When I was too busy with family and business to recall.

Strange Changes

As Sarah grew, so did her vivid imagination and flair for the dramatic. Her dislike of her stepmother prompted her to spend countless hours in the park where she occupied herself by dispatching invisible villains with sticks turned swords, discovering Fairie and Fraggle alike under rocks and flummoxing the greatest of knights and princes with her grace, charm and ability to use a longbow. She was the High Princess and she held court by the Seelie River.

Vivid though her imagination was, Sarah Williams was well aware that her airy kingdom was only that: an airy kingdom. And while dream-lands and enchanted worlds were pleasant enough, she often felt as though she was missing something. She longed for something more.

Sarah's mother had been an accomplished actress. Now, it was discovered that Sarah had not only the passion, but the talent to pursue a similar career. Her drama teacher had promised her a spot in next year's school play, a fact which Sarah did not trust to anyone save Merlin who, being the only other member of her Court-by-the-Seelie, was her sole confidant in such sensitive matters. The dog simply would not allow her to go to the park without him, preferring instead to run along after her and chase every shadow that came anywhere near his girl.

Sarah spent as many hours memorizing scripts as she did playacting, using Merlin as a cast member and often forgetting that he was a dog and therefore incapable of repeating lines back to her. This constant state of living in rehearsal and Fairie-Worlds created a girl destined for something great, Sarah was sure. She just wasn't sure what exactly that greatness was.

Jareth would sometimes play audience to Sarah's adventures in the park. From the day they began, they had been a source of nearly endless amusement to him. Often, he laughed to himself and mentally ridiculed the girl's misconception of the Underground's supposedly mythical creatures, wondering time and again what the poor, ignorant girl would do if she ever met an actual Troll instead of the imaginary ones she befriended regularly. She would probably be eaten, he reasoned, and suddenly it wasn't quite amusing.

Sarah's trust was a source of some concern to the Fae King. Not that it was any matter of his, he told himself, but she trusted far too easily. Her friendship, once gained, was never truly lost, and was -in Jareth's opinion- far too easy to gain. The girl would probably follow someone down to her death if she thought they were friends.

Not that it was any matter of his.

Aside from this concern, Jareth had noticed something disconcerting. Sarah's plays had begun innocently enough as an amusement. A game. But of late, there had been disturbing other forces at work.

Seemingly overnight, the fumbling and grasping way she conducted her fantasy dances and balls had shifted into something that wasn't exactly as childish as it had been. Her pretend grace and charm were slowly beginning to morph into actual elements. Most disturbing of all, Jareth was not the only one who had noticed these changes. A large group of young men, most of them pimple-faced and woefully dull, seemed aware of these facts as well. Had he any time to think about it, Jareth was sure he would figure out why this irritated him so badly and why he suddenly had the urge to banish every adolescent male in Sarah's vicinity to a destiny as tree stumps. However, the king had more pressing issues.

He still had absolutely no desire to be married. Never mind little Sarah Williams' notions of true loves and happily-ever-afters, even the word "marriage" was distasteful to him. Thus far, he had avoided it. But he knew very well that his time was slowly trickling away, with every tick of every clock. Jareth was often so frustrated with this impending doom that he wondered whether it wouldn't just be better to re-order time and live within one moment forever and to never worry about marriage again.

However possible it was, he knew he wouldn't do it. His kingdom needed him. His people needed him. And the effects of completely changing time to suit one's needs were often terribly unsafe to those within the reach of the re-order. Never mind the elephant of a headache such actions reportedly caused.

Still, the constant reminders from his advisers that he needed an heir were quickly becoming more and more often and more and more irksome. That is why, on a particular night, he was standing at a balcony, most certainly not hiding from a gaggle of advisers attempting to "talk some sense into him", thank you very much, but instead surveying the Underground with unusually heavy thoughts when he was, for the second time in his, remarkably long, life summoned.

And having had a strange amount of fear as to little Sarah's safety of late, he rushed to answer.

A/N: Please review! And yes, it's short. Too short. Painfully short. But it's Something and means that more Somethings shall follow. Thanks to everyone who reviewed before!