DISCLAIMER: I don't own Labyrinth or any of the characters associated with the film. They are the property of the Jim Henson Company.
AN: Because there were so many requests…
United States 1990
Sarah Williams awoke in her childhood bed in a cold sweat. She frowned miserably, flinging her damp sheets away from her body in disgust. She'd had that dream again. That dream. It had been plaguing her ever since she returned from the labyrinth. Sarah glanced out the window knowing what she would find just beyond the glass. It was always there, her feathery guardian. She sighed as she looked at the owl, perched perilously on the tree branch, braving the violent autumn winds simply to watch her sleep.
It was no ordinary owl, of that she was sure. It followed her everywhere, even on dates. She smiled lightly at the memory of one particularly smug date whose shoulder was unceremoniously coated in rancid smelling owl feces, rat fur visible and all. It protected her and watched her sleep. She slid from her warm bed, her damp t-shirt clinging to her skin and causing her to shiver in the cool air of her room. She made her way to the window slowly, the owl cocking its head at her questioningly. Her fingers rested against the glass and she was surprised to find how cold it was. She and the owl stared at each other for a moment, then suddenly she hiked the window open and whispered to the owl.
"Come in here."
The owl merely cocked its head further to the side, watching her with wide eyes, teetering from foot to foot nervously. The wind was ferocious and cold, Sarah winced as it hit her face. Grimacing, she looked about her room for some food to tempt the owl inside. It wouldn't be safe in the tree tonight, the wind was too rough. She found some crackers at her desk that she had been snacking on while studying. She crumbled one and left the pieces on her flat palm. The owl looked at the cracker pieces and then back up to Sarah. If it had eyebrows, it surely would have raised one at her. Sarah rolled her eyes.
"Oh, come on!" she hissed. "I know you're not an owl."
The owl seemed to straighten at her words, peering at her even more suspiciously.
"I don't know what you are," she muttered, "But, I know you're not an owl."
The owl stepped from foot to foot cautiously, eyeing her again.
"Come on," she said softly.
The owl hooted in defeat and hopped into her window. The thought suddenly occurred to Sarah that she should leave the window open as she had just invited a bird of prey into her room. She reminded herself that this was no ordinary bird and sat back down on her bed. Wrapping her blanket around her arms absently, she watched the owl peck at the cracker crumbs with disdain on her desk. She hadn't even been aware that owls could be disdainful until now.
"Well, Mr. Owl," she said softly. "What am I going to do with you now?"
The owl looked at her and hooted before turning back to its crumbs. As Sarah watched the bird, she thought about that dream. It was always the same. He was always in it, watching her with warm eyes. There was so much concern in them, it wasn't right. His eyes were wrong though. She knew it was him, but the details were all wrong. It was the details that always made her so sure that this was only a dream; that it would only ever be a dream.
First of all, his eyes were normal. That is to say, they were two perfectly standard, bright blue eyes, shining with an unhealthy amount of warmth for him. His pupils were perfectly identical and that made her feel she was merely projecting her so desired perfection upon him. His hair was wrong, too. It was too sleek, too kempt. He was too wonderfully perfect and the way he looked at her made her feel that he'd give up his life for hers. Sarah pouted miserably. The Goblin King was not the type of man to give up his life for anyone, least of all her.
These matters were all trivial with respect to the issue that really bothered her about the dream. It was the name he called her. Adeline. It bothered her. It sent shivers down her spine. It made her mad with frustration and yet she didn't know why. All he had to do in this dream was say that name and she felt herself melt into him. She was a terrible dancer, she hated it so, but in his arms she was a master. As though love itself guided her feet to ecstasy.
They were always dancing when the dream world came crashing down. A hideous green creature with a horrifying smile would always appear before her, its grotesque mouth making the shapes of words, but releasing no sound. The only sound she'd ever heard was the flapping of wings and a hissing laughter. It terrified her every single time.
Sarah leaned her head on her hand, her elbow resting on her knee. "Mr. Owl, do you know anything about love?"
The owl stopped its endless pecking immediately and spun on her, peering at her with suspicion. Sarah smiled gently.
"It seems you do." She sighed. Maybe it wasn't so bad to have an animal to talk to, to share all her feelings with. She missed Merlin. The sheep dog had to be put down last June. Now Sarah felt that she had no one to talk to at all. It wasn't as though she could call upon her friends in the labyrinth to talk to about her dream. Her endless, melancholy dream.
"I have a dream, Mr. Owl," she began, staring at her feet. She looked up at the owl and sheepishly smiled. She shrugged her shoulders at it as it watched her in silence, hanging on her every word.
"I dream about a man," she paused, glancing at the brightly coloured leaves rustling in the harsh wind, unsure of what exactly to say. "He's not how I remember him, and yet he's exactly how he should be."
The owl shifted excitedly before settling once Sarah's eyes were upon it again.
"It's as though I can't quite remember something," she said in wonder, "I'm not entirely sure whether I want to remember."
The owl hooted and flapped its wings irritably. Sarah frowned at it. She had been right, it was no ordinary bird. There was something about birds that had always fascinated her; something in their freedom, something in their inability to be tamed. She wished she were a bird, then she could have flown away from all the hardships in her short lifetime.
"If I were a bird, Mr. Owl, I think I would be a Nightingale," she whispered softly.
The owl became visibly agitated, pacing the length of her desk, rustling its wings.
"Not a Nightingale?" she asked.
The owl stopped and stared at her tersely. It fluttered seemingly delicately onto the floor by her bed, pacing in what seemed like an irritated fashion. It was restlessly shifting around on the floor. Sarah cocked her head at it, a puzzled expression muddling her pretty features. Suddenly, her face brightened.
"Do you wish you were a Nightingale?" she asked, smiling widely.
The owl stopped again. If owls could frown, this one was frowning. It hadn't liked her joke at all. Sarah slid from the bed and sat on the floor, startling the owl slightly. Once it realized that she meant it no harm, it began pacing before her once more.
"You're not an owl," she said flatly. "What are you?"
The owl seemed to slump a bit, as though so very tired of trying.
"You're always watching me," she said, peering at the owl. "For a while, I thought you were him. But, that's impossible."
The owl stood perfectly still now, staring up at her, refusing to blink. Sarah frowned. Her heart started to pound as possibilities began to flood her brain. She eyed the bird carefully.
"Impossible," she repeated, breathlessly. The owl did not move. Her green eyes grew sad as she stared back at the bird. "I don't even know who he is."
The owl fluttered restlessly and stood beside her. It looked at her almost beseechingly. Sarah's brow furrowed with confusion as to the bird's behaviour, then without warning she stared straight ahead. She was becoming sleepy again.
"I think my name was Adeline," she mumbled, her eyelids drooping.
The dream took her over entirely. It was a confused mess in her brain. She was in the crystal ballroom again, as she had been years ago. The people in the room had changed. It almost looked like a country ball. The walls of the room were crystalline, but they were held up with thick wooden beams. Sarah shook her head in confusion. She glanced down at her dress, muted green silk flowing around her, a low neckline. She could feel that her hair was gathered on top of her head, some rogue tendrils dangling, tickling her neck. Her eyes searched and she spun needlessly through the people. Finally she found him – lean and relaxed, his eyes lethal, his body resting against a wooden post.
As she approached, he smiled and stood up to his full height.
"Adeline," he said, reaching to take her hand.
"Jareth," she heard herself respond, "My name is Sarah."
His smile didn't falter. "Adeline, Sarah. It doesn't matter. You're one and the same."
Sarah felt her cheeks grow hot with unspoken anger. It doesn't matter? It certainly does! "My name is Sarah," she hissed through gritted teeth.
Jareth stood, silent for a moment, his smile disintegrating. He sighed slightly, conceding to her point. "Yes, you are right. There is a difference."
He was frowning at her and Sarah found that she couldn't bear it. He was disappointed somehow. Was he disappointed in her? Was this Adeline so much better?
"Who is Adeline?" she asked quietly, barely audible above the raging fiddler's song. People swirled in dizzying circles of coloured silk behind her.
Jareth smiled again and Sarah noticed that perfection in his eyes. "An angel with cruel eyes."
"You're not Jareth," she said softly. The man she thought was the Goblin King smiled delicately.
"It doesn't matter, we're one and the same."
Sarah blinked at him, backing up slowly, feeling the brush of the swirling satin against her skirts. "No. No, it does matter," she whispered.
The man watched her with a puzzled expression. His eyes were so clear, so crystalline, so pure. How could she have mistaken him for Jareth? This man's eyes were full of hope and dreams. He was young and brash. He'd never known true pain, true loss. This man was drowning in love. There was no way this man was the same as Jareth as surely as she was not this Adeline creature. That is when it dawned on her. Her eyes grew wide with realization and her mouth fell open with surprise.
"Adeline is dead," she said clearly. The man's face fell dramatically, as though she had just crushed his heart. But, she wasn't finished yet. "And, so is Garrett Nightingale."
Shock coursed through the man's face, his eyes wide with silent agony. Sarah heard the hissing laugh as the crystal ballroom shattered for a second time. She looked around in a panic, recognizing the dissolution of the fantasy world gone wrong. She was falling, falling.
Sarah awoke with a start. Somehow she had fallen sideways on the floor. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she skimmed the room in search of the owl. Someone had closed the window, she realized, as she heard the insistent tapping of wood against glass. She shifted, lifting herself from the ground. Her eyes shot up in the direction of the window only to fall upon the form of a man resting beside her. His hair was wild, his jaw set in a stubborn line, his eyes forever scarred with pain. This was the man she was in love with.
"Jareth?" she questioned softly, unable to fully believe that he was here with her. He turned at the sound of his name on her lips.
"Sarah," he replied.
A tiny smile played on her lips, only to disappear as she realized that her dream had been real. She reached a hand out to touch his face and he closed his eyes when she reached him. "You were once Garrett Nightingale," she said quietly, stoically.
"And I was Adeline," she marvelled. "Adeline Hammond."
Jareth opened his eyes slowly, a pain obvious in them. "She died Adeline Nightingale."
Sarah sat in silence, pulling her hand back into her lap, staring at him in wonder. After a long period of thought, she spoke softly, but clearly, "I wish I were a Nightingale."
Jareth turned to her, the mere beginnings of a smile at the corners of his lips. He reached out a hand, free of its ever-present glove, to touch her skin. "My dear, you already are."