DISCLAIMER: I don't own Labyrinth or any of the characters associated with the film. They are the property of the Jim Henson Company. I do own all other characters.
AN: This just kind of came to me. My own personal prequel...let me know what you think.
Long nights had past since he'd met her. Long, lonely nights. She was unlike any woman he had ever met. Her wit was sharp, her smile was mysterious, and her eyes were cruel. She moved through the ball without saying a word, dragging every man's eye with her. Completely unaware of the effect she had on men, she smiled needlessly giving hope to those who didn't deserve it. Her name was Adeline. Adeline Hammond.
He hadn't meant to meet her, hadn't meant to get caught in those cruel, mossy orbs. He was merely passing by, a stranger in a country town. With his easy manners, he had struck up a conversation with the innkeeper and earned himself an invitation to the ball. He certainly hadn't expected to meet the woman who would change his life in a small country town. His name was Garrett Nightingale. Just a lowly traveler without any real direction in life. And yet, somehow, miraculously he had caught the fair Adeline's eye that night.
Garrett had moved through the sea of strange faces, smiling politely and feeling generally out of place. He'd danced a few dances with pretty girls whose names he didn't care to remember. After all, he would be gone the next day anyway. Finally escaping a circle of inquisitive ladies, Garrett had retreated to the back of the hall, leaning against a post, hiding from the crowd. She'd snuck up behind him somehow, perhaps she was hiding herself. But, nonetheless, she'd surprised him.
"They're terrifying, aren't they?" she said softly.
Garrett had turned into the voice discovering the loveliest creature he'd ever laid eyes on. Physically she was obviously attractive, but it was the cruel, almost childish calculation in her green eyes that had made him fall so quickly. He followed her eyes, finding the object of her ridicule: a group of older women, twittering about with each other, waving fans frantically.
"Nay, milady, they're only doing what they know best," Garrett responded in deep, resonating tones.
She looked up at him, amusement sparkling in her eyes. "How cruel. What would you say if I told you my mother was amongst them?"
She watched his face carefully for a hint of regret. There was none, he merely smiled more deeply. "I would say she's very good at what she does."
The girl laughed, a soft, tinkling laugh, causing her raven curls to bounce against her pale skin. Garrett was mesmerized.
"I suppose I shouldn't be talking to you," she said, smiling still. "We haven't been properly introduced."
"Ah, that is true," Garrett replied. "Perhaps you should rejoin the masses."
The girl pouted moodily. "I hate these dances."
Garrett raised his eyebrows in surprise. It was a rare girl indeed who hated dances. "What do you like then, Miss Unintroduced?"
The girl smiled again at the title. "Improper though it may be, I cannot bear to be called 'Miss Unintroduced'. My name is Adeline Hammond."
Garrett nodded politely, "Miss Hammond, my name is Garrett Nightingale."
"Nightingale? Like the bird?" she asked with wide, excited eyes.
Garrett smiled warmly, "Yes, I suppose. Like the bird."
For some reason this seemed to amuse Adeline greatly. She was a mystery. "I like books," she said softly, watching the sea of satin swirling before them.
"What types of books?" Garrett asked.
Adeline regarded him for a moment before answering, as though summing up whether or not to tell him. "About Faeries, Mr. Nightingale."
She nodded, her face serious.
"I think so," Adeline said, turning her eyes back to the dance floor. She seemed to have caught sight of something which caused her to speak to him while facing forward.
"See the man by the mantle?" she said in hushed tones. Garrett pointed his eyes in the direction she had suggested and nodded in response. "He is my father. Go ask him to be properly introduced," at this she turned to face him, her eyes swimming with muted sadness, "Or I shall never see you again, Mr. Nightingale."
"Adeline," a sharp female voice interrupted, causing Adeline to tear her eyes from Garrett's.
"Mother," she replied hurriedly. The rather severe woman eyed Garrett suspiciously before yanking her daughter out onto the dance floor and into the circle of twittering women.
Garrett stood for a moment watching the extraordinary creature burn so brightly against a background of mediocrity. It was at this moment that Garrett realized that his life would never be complete without her by his side. It was at this moment that Garrett Nightingale found his direction in life. He was about to leave his post and speak to Mr. Hammond when he noticed that Adeline had rolled her head to the side and was staring at him. Her eyes were incredulous that he had not moved to speak with her father. There was a fire in her glare that made Garrett's heart race. His feet moved of their own accord, straight to the mantle.
It was during this conversation with Mr. Hammond that Garrett revealed his lineage and birthright for the first time since he had started his travels. All this in a small town of little consequence for a girl with flaming green eyes and a sharp tongue. Needless to say, Mr. Hammond was impressed, Mrs. Hammond doubly so, and Miss Hammond was quickly introduced to Garrett. Despite both young people's apparent dislike of dancing, they danced the evening away together.
Garrett had stayed in that town a fortnight, meeting often with the Hammonds in their small country estate. Adeline's lack of dowry was of little interest to Garrett for her charms infinitely outweighed any status questions raised. At the end of the fortnight, Garrett decided to return to the home he had left so long ago to prepare himself for the impending proposal. Garrett would never find a girl like Adeline Hammond again, even if he searched for a hundred years.
Mrs. Nightingale was shocked to see her son gracefully walk through the door. He had simply disappeared from her life two years ago, claiming he had need of self-discovery. His blonde hair fell in soft waves around his face, which was quite brown from all his time outdoors. He was her beloved son, the heir to the Nightingale estate in Derbyshire. He was a young man of a formidable fortune and his absence and apparent disregard of his duties were not lost on local society. The return of Garrett Nightingale was the talk of the community and mothers had their eligible daughters preening for the next ball already. Mrs. Nightingale was not, however, prepared for Garrett's reason for returning.
"Garrett? Is that really you?" she called, peering at him in the sunlight.
"Yes, mother. It is me," he replied, striding towards her and wrapping her in a tight embrace. He was dressed from head to toe in the latest fashions, and for some reason Mrs. Nightingale was surprised. She had expected him to return in rags. She couldn't help but weep with happiness.
"Mother," Garrett began, stepping back from her. "I've met someone. A woman I would like to marry."
"Marry?" Mrs. Nightingale replied breathlessly. Her son had always been a wanderer and a recluse. She had resigned herself to the belief that he would never marry. She was instantly interested in the woman who had captured his heart. Could she be a dainty, delicate lady? A well-versed heiress? Where did he meet her? St. James' Court? She imagined that if Garrett had been to St. James' Court she would have heard about it from several sources. No, he had not been moving in any society worth noting. Mrs. Nightingale began to get a sinking feeling in her stomach, silently praying that her son hadn't fallen in love with a scullery maid.
"Her name is Adeline Hammond," he said brightly, taking off his hat and resting his walking cane on the table. Mrs. Nightingale decided that Adeline Hammond was far too sensible a name for a scullery maid, and she felt quite relieved at the thought.
"And, she is exquisite," he continued with a wide smile.
Mrs. Nightingale smiled as well. She had not seen her son this excited in a very, very long time. That goes without saying that she hadn't seen her son at all in a very long time.
"I should very much like to invite her and her family here. What say you?" he asked his mother, gripping her hands loosely.
"Garrett, I should most like to meet the woman who has managed to capture your heart," she said warmly. His smile broadened and he rushed into his study to write the letter.
"You're going to love her, Mother," he called out from the room.
Garrett couldn't have been more wrong.
The Hammonds arrived two weeks later in a hired coach. Mrs. Nightingale was beside herself with anticipation and would listen to Garrett's descriptions of the girl endlessly. She sounded like a rare beauty, a jewel hidden in the countryside. Mrs. Nightingale would have been lying if she had said that Miss Hammond's situation wasn't a concern to her. She was, in fact, most concerned with the girl's lineage, but she had little say as Garrett was the heir. Mrs. Nightingale sincerely hoped that the girl's charms far outweighed her unfortunate birth.
Mrs. Nightingale and the Hammonds engaged in easy conversation, but the girl said nothing. She merely stood silently, an angel in a chemise dress with cascading raven curls and sharp green eyes. Mrs. Nightingale did not like those eyes. They knew too much for a young lady of her consequence. They were ethereal. Too observant, too calculating. She should have known the type of woman to capture the heart of her adventurous son would be of that kind. Miss Hammond, she decided, was a dreamer, but even worse, a highly educated dreamer. The type of woman to inflict her influence on a man like Garrett. Miss Hammond may be much practiced at appearing demure and sending soft, hidden smiles at her son, but Mrs. Nightingale knew there was more behind the façade. Much more.
"Miss Hammond," Mrs. Nightingale began over dinner that evening. "How are you enjoying Derbyshire?"
"I like it very much indeed," Adeline replied sweetly. There was something quick in those fiery eyes that Mrs. Nightingale was not blind to – Miss Hammond told half truths. Mrs. Nightingale ignored the fact that her son was grinning idiotically at the girl's answer and pressed onwards.
"But, not so much as your own lands?"
Adeline gave no outward expression of surprise except that her eyes flashed dangerously. "These lands are charming, Mrs. Nightingale," she began crisply. "I simply miss being situated on the shore of the ocean."
"No one could fault you for that," Garrett said, shooting a warning glance at his mother. This was not going as smoothly as he had anticipated. His mother clearly did not like Adeline. The girl coughed delicately into her napkin and Mrs. Hammond's eyes shot over to her daughter, tight with concern. This was not lost on Mrs. Nightingale and her eyes narrowed suspiciously at the Hammonds. Mr. Hammond began an animated story about a ball they had been to most recently, engaging Garrett in the tale. Mrs. Nightingale stared at Adeline. Wasn't she a little too pale? Wasn't she a little too delicate looking in that pale gown for a personality with such bite? The Hammonds were hiding something.
That night Adeline snuck down the long, spiralling staircase silently. Her parents had instructed her carefully on how to approach this situation. She frowned miserably, her furrowed brow out of place on her pretty face. She was in love with Garrett. She had been since she first laid eyes on him. A wanderer, a kindred spirit - her soul mate. Fate had not given her a fair hand. She was too full of life to die, too full of hope to leave this place now. She had almost been willing before she had met Garrett, willing to let go of this cruel world and pass on into the next. Now she knew that when she died, she would not have an eternal rest. She would be back, again and again, over and over, until she found him once more. It simply wasn't fair.
As she was so lost in thought, she didn't notice the figure standing by the window. When Miss Hammond raised her head, she found her gaze met head on with Mrs. Nightingale.
"You're hiding something," Mrs. Nightingale said sharply before Adeline had a chance to speak. Adeline said nothing, she merely raised her chin in silent defiance.
"Are you sick?" Mrs. Nightingale asked finally, her voice softening slightly. She may not like the girl, but she was of no consequence to be cruel to a sick young woman. Adeline lowered her eyes and nodded once. There was no sense in lying about it; she was sick.
"Does my son know?"
"No," Adeline responded softly, stifling a cough.
"Has he made you an offer?" Mrs. Nightingale asked, her voice tight.
"And, have you accepted?"
Mrs. Nightingale relaxed visibly, realizing that this mess of a match could still be avoided.
"And, will you refuse him then, knowing of your illness?"
Adeline's expression hardened and her chin rose once more. "I will not."
"Have you no consideration to my son's heart?" Mrs. Nightingale hissed.
"I will tell him of my illness. If he wishes to retract the offer, he will. But, if not then I am inclined to behave in a manner that will secure my happiness, however short the duration may be."
Mrs. Nightingale narrowed her eyes at the girl. A will of iron, she had. It was not becoming in a young lady. "You selfish and unfeeling girl."
"I feel most acutely, Mrs. Nightingale, let me assure you."
With that Adeline turned on her heel and headed back up the staircase, despite the great effort it afforded upon her weak body. It took every ounce of her strength to make it back to her bed without collapsing. When she finally did, she was overcome by a fit of coughing. Her lungs eventually relaxed and allowed her a chance to rest, but not without her having ruined yet another handkerchief. Mrs. Nightingale had remained downstairs, listening to the weak coughing of the young woman. She closed her eyes in sadness, aware of the pain her son would experience in the near future at the hands of this calculating girl.
Adeline took a turn about the grounds early in the morning. She breathed in deeply the thick, wet air and smiled. Derbyshire was a lovely place, but more importantly she had heard of a forest not far from here, perhaps a mere three or four mile distance, in which there lived an imp. An imp who could grant wishes if the wisher were earnest and worthy. She wondered if she was worthy. She wondered of true love was a worthy enough cause.
"Adeline," a warm familiar voice said behind her. Garrett joined her, smiling down upon her.
"Garrett," she breathed. He stared down at her for a moment.
"Why have you not answered my proposal?"
"Perhaps I don't want to marry you," she said playfully, "Maybe I'd simply like to trespass on your kindness longer."
"Adeline," Garrett chided with a smile. Adeline smiled at him, but allowed the smile to die as she felt a coughing fit coming on. When they had met at the ball, she had been well enough to move around in society without any worries of this sort of occurrence. Now, the illness had progressed too far. She couldn't stop the coughs and felt tears spring to her eyes as he caught her in his warm arms and held her close until the fit had ended.
"I'm ill," she said weakly, boring into his eyes with her pain. Garrett noticed that a bit of that bright light had died in her eyes. It terrified him.
"I'll fetch a doctor," he replied frantically, "We'll have you well in no time!"
"No, Garrett," she said softly, looking away for she could not bear the impending rejection, "I'm dying. That is why I haven't accepted your proposal."
For a long time Garrett said nothing, he merely gazed down at the suddenly frail appearing girl in his arms. Did she think that he would merely accept her death? "No," he whispered.
"I'm afraid so," she said with a small sigh. "There is nothing to be done."
Garrett stared down at her hard, refusing to accept a rejection based on her impending death.
"Marry me anyway," he said hoarsely. Adeline's eyes shot up to his face in surprise.
"Your mother will never allow it," was her automatic response.
"Then she won't have to know."
"Garrett," Adeline began. He raised a finger to her lips to silence her words.
"I want you, even if it's only for a short amount of time," he said softly, wrapping his arms around her. "Marry me, Adeline."
She began to cry lightly into his shoulder, so unexpected was his second proposal to her. Adeline didn't know how much time she had, but she would marry him. She would certainly marry him and cling to her moments of happiness.
In the end they had told his mother and she had looked upon them in sadness. She did not fight the union seeing how much the two were in love, but this did not mean that she did not object to it. They were married on the estate, Adeline's condition having worsened in the week that it took to arrange the event. Adeline was far too weak to consummate the marriage, but Garrett was happy simply being able to call her his wife, to lay his lips upon hers, to stay up all night rubbing her back and reading her Faerie Tales.
The following week led to an even worsened condition. Adeline coughed up blood in frightening amounts. She was weak, pale and standing on the precipice of death. However, her green eyes were still bright. Her sharp tongue still allowed her to convey witty comments, however weak the delivery. It was the middle of the night, after a quite alarming coughing fit, that she began to mumble about the imp in the forest. She gripped Garrett's hand fiercely, pulling herself up to glare at him levelly. She demanded that he go and find the imp to ensure that they would find each other once more. Garrett had nodded, if only to calm her and get her to lie still once more. However, she refused to lie still until he had left for the imp. She insisted that she would know if he lied to her so he had better actually go to find this imp – it may be her dying wish.
Perhaps it was the lateness of the night, maybe the insistence in her eyes, but Garrett went to stables promptly, despite the raging rain. He had taken his fastest horse and ridden her hard in the direction that Adeline had insisted upon. Garrett had searched the woods desperately, calling out for the imp. There was nothing here and silently he cursed himself for having left Adeline's side on her delirious whim. She needed him there. What if she was already dead? There was a fear in his heart that was so very real, so very honest. Garrett prepared himself to climb onto the horse's back once more when the imp appeared.
"Love," it said from behind a tree. Garrett turned around feverishly, the dark night sky littered with cold rain impairing his vision.
"Is that you, Imp?"
The imp slid around the front of the tree. "Love is a worthy cause indeed."
"Will you help me?" Garrett asked desperately, striding towards the creature. His desperation was so great that he was willing to ignore the fact that a mythical creature had just appeared before him. The imp looked at him, tilting its head to the side. Its green skin shimmered in the rain.
"Your lady is dead," it said matter-of-factly. Garrett's heart plummeted and he turned immediately to mount his horse once more.
"You cannot help her in that way," the imp continued, a tiny smile crossing its features. What was the life of Adeline Hammond to an imp? "But, she waits."
"She waits? What do you mean by that?" Garrett demanded.
"She will not rest," it said, staring off beyond Garrett. Suddenly its bright yellow eyes were upon him. "Will you remain restless for her?"
Garrett stared at the creature, barely comprehending the question. "I would do anything for her."
The imp smiled strangely at Garrett's words. "Will you leave your family? Your friends?"
Garrett though briefly of his mother. She was well taken care of; she had survived without him before. He could afford to leave her if it meant that he would have Adeline back.
The imp's strange smile increased to a sickening wideness, literally stretched from ear to ear. "Lucky for you the Goblin King has recently died, Jareth."
Garrett frowned. "Garrett," he corrected, curious as to how the imp had known his name.
"Jareth," it repeated, still smiling. Garrett decided to let it go. The imp tossed something at him and Garrett caught it with ease. It was a crystal, nothing more, but as he turned it in his hands, he could swear that he saw Adeline, alive and well. Her hair was different, her clothing, too, but it was her.
"Adeline," he breathed.
The imp scampered up to his side. "You will have to be patient. These things take time. But, you will have all the time in the world."
Garrett twirled the crystal upon his fingertips and there he saw her again, Adeline, but this time it was his Adeline, lifeless and perfect on her deathbed. Time slowed, his heart squeezed to slowness, and his blood ran cold. He would have simply assumed that these were the side effects of losing the one he loved, but he could tell that the imp was changing him as it pranced around him, faster and faster.
"How will I find her?" he asked it desperately, his head spinning from trying to follow its movements.
"She will find you," it hissed, laughing. "But you must facilitate the union. You will have one chance and one chance only. If she refuses you, I will offer you more time…but at a terrible price. You will decide then if you shall pay it."
Garrett was staring at the crystal, unaware that both he and the imp were no longer in the rainy forest. He looked around seeing a myriad of small, dirty creatures staring up at him in wonder.
"Where - ?" he started. The imp glanced up at him with its terrifying smile.
"The castle, beyond the Goblin City," it said lightly. Then it turned to the creatures, "I bring you a new king!"
The cheers were deafening and the small creatures began to inch closer to Garrett. "Jareth the Goblin King!"
Garrett attempted to correct the imp, but gave up, losing himself in the cheering. The imp smiled widely again. "You will be a good king. You will learn the magic of these lands. You will protect these creatures. If you do this, she will find you. As long as you remain full of love, Jareth, she will love you in return."
Garrett stared at the imp again, not believing that any of this had happened. That his Adeline was dead, that he was the King of the Goblins, that her Faeries were real. Garrett slumped into the throne miserably, staring into the crystal.
"Snow White," a goblin remarked, looking into the crystal from behind Garrett's shoulder, its long nose grazing his cheek. Oddly, Garrett was not appalled by these creatures. He felt that they were very much like children. They needed protection. Garrett shook himself to awareness and dropped the crystal in his lap.
"How will I find her?" he whispered, more to himself than to anyone else.
A goblin sidled up to his feet and looked up with wide eyes. "King Jareth," it said tentatively. "She will be reborn."
Garrett frowned. What was the goblin trying to say?
"We can…STEAL BABIES!" it exclaimed. The other goblins went wild with excitement, some swinging from the chandelier. Garrett rested a gloved hand upon his head and sighed.
"You cannot," he said quietly.
"Why not? She may be among them?"
"It simply isn't done," Garrett sighed, "Besides, you cannot possibly collect all of the babies in the world. There's no telling where she will show up."
The goblin frowned. "We can try!"
"No," Garrett said firmly. Suddenly, an idea struck him. "I will write a book."
"She loves books. When she finds it, she shall know."
The goblins had gathered closely around him, staring at him in wonder. "How will she know?"
"She will know because it will be a book that she cannot resist. It will be a book that she will believe."
The goblins exchanged glances and shrugged. Who were they to argue with the genius of the Goblin King? Garrett stood from his new throne and moved to explore his new castle, if only to find paper and ink. He sat for a month, writing his story feverishly. When he was finished, he was convinced that it would be a story that only Adeline would believe in. He would find her this way. He would certainly find her. The use of magic had already become as second nature to him as breathing and he sent several copies of his story out into the world above. Now, he would wait.
When one hundred years had passed, Jareth the Goblin King had all but forgotten that he was once a man named Garrett Nightingale. However, he had never forgotten that he was once in love with a woman named Adeline. In his boredom, he passed his time in crueller fashions, willingly forgetting that he was once human at all. However, the love in his heart kept him in check on most occasions.
By the time two hundred years had passed, he had forgotten a pale girl named Adeline Hammond almost entirely. There was one aspect that he could never forget. Those bright, burning green eyes which haunted his dreams. They were so familiar, but he couldn't remember why for the life of him. His cruelty had increased and he had all but eradicated love from his life. He would live forever, what was the point in loving someone? Because he was so consumed in his day to day life of tormenting his citizens, Jareth didn't notice when a raven haired, green eyed girl picked up the small, red book and held it lovingly in her hands.
1983 United States of America
Twelve year old Sarah Williams eyed the small book hungrily. The Labyrinth. It was a fairy tale, she was sure of it. She hid in the back of the small, musty bookstore, hoping her father wouldn't find her and drag her out before she had a chance to really find something good. This was something good. A Goblin King, a beautiful girl, a wicked stepmother. It was a far cry from her own life as she lived with her wonderful parents, who were happily married, but it enthralled her young, romantic heart. She made a decision. She would refuse to leave the store unless her father bought her this one, small book. That's all. She'd be good for the rest of the day, she wouldn't ask for anything more, as long as he bought her this book. She didn't know why, but she knew she must have it.
Sarah approached her father with carefully prepared wide, doe eyes, complete with unshed tears. He frowned at her and more importantly at whatever it was she was hiding behind her back.
"I want this book," she said, brandishing it in front of her. Robert Williams glanced at it. The book was small, and hopefully inexpensive.
"How much?" he asked dismissively, returning to his own book search.
"A dollar," she said hopefully.
Robert reached into his pocket and handed her a bill. Sarah gripped it gratefully and wrapped her arms around her father.
"Thank you so much, Daddy! You're the best."
Little did she know that this book would become her crutch during the tumultuous times ahead.
Jareth was lounging in his chair, tapping his foot with his riding crop. He had forgotten where he had ever gotten a riding crop. It wasn't as though he had any horses here. He sighed. It was so boring and he constantly felt like he was forgetting something. The Goblin King felt something suddenly – a small tug of forgotten magic belonging to him. It was old, but it was distinctly his. He frowned, angry that there was yet another thing he had forgotten. Conjuring a crystal, the only thing he hadn't forgotten how to do, he saw a girl reading a book. She couldn't be more than fifteen years old but she was stunningly beautiful.
He narrowed his eyes and peered at her more closely. There was something strangely familiar about the girl – something in her eyes. He smiled sinisterly; they were so cruel, so old for such a young girl. He wondered what it was that was tugging at his magic about her. In time, he found that he didn't care. He loved to watch her temper flare at her stepmother. He loved to watch her shout in fits of adolescent rage. He loved when she did anything cruel. In fact, in time he found that he loved her. There was something about her that called to him and it wasn't until he began to watch her act out her little red book in the park that he realized what it was. The book. The book was all about his world. Who knew that much about him Aboveground? He felt for certain that no one remembered the world of Faeries. But, this girl, this Sarah – she knew. He decided that he would be more than happy to meet her and so he gave her certain powers. If she could figure out the right words, then she would be worthy of his attentions.
He hadn't had to wait all that long for her. The year was almost out, the cool breeze of late summer flowing through her hair in the park. He had no idea that she would say the words that night. He was elated when she had.
1986 The Crystal Ballroom
It was here that his memories came crashing back. It was here, in this false world, this mirror of reality, that he remembered the truth. He had been waiting for her, waiting with love in his heart. What had happened to him? Now he wondered if it was too late to win her back. He had been so cruel, treating her as a source of amusement. Loving her as a little boy loves a little girl – all pigtail pulling and name calling. What had he been thinking? He had one chance and one chance only.
Did she remember, too? Was that an inkling of remembrance in her green eyes? Almost, almost. He sang to her so softly, his eyes were focussed on her. The angel with the cruel eyes he'd been waiting for. Her expression softened and she looked so lost. She was wading through fuzzy memories, he was sure of it. A clock chimed in the distance and her concentration was broken. She turned and ran from him, seeking an escape from the illusion. Who was he kidding? He wasn't Garrett Nightingale anymore.
1986 The Relativity Room
She was about to say the words she was never meant to say. He wanted to scream to her that this wasn't a story; this wasn't the way it was supposed to end! Adeline had never liked happy endings and Garrett had found it ironic that she, herself, had never had one. He, on the other hand, loved happy endings. The type of ending that makes you feel warm on the inside; the type of ending that had her in his arms where she belonged. He tried desperately to win her. His proposal had been desperate. His words had been chosen rashly. He had meant to be reassuring, he had meant to imply that it was alright to feel those emotions; it was alright to trust him. Instead, he had come across as simply wishing to possess her. He realized his mistake as she said the words. She had inadvertently refused him, all because of his poorly chosen words. Years of waiting, wasted.
He felt himself disappearing and was filled with sorrow. That was when he heard a voice that he hadn't heard in a long time.
Are you willing to pay the price?
Yes, Jareth hissed internally. He could almost see the imp's sickening smile as he felt himself twist into the form of an owl.
You have found her and lost her. Until she recognizes you, in this form you shall remain.