A/N: I should NOT be starting this story yet ... but I couldn't help myself. Expect it to be long. Cross with Labyrinth, but you don't need to know a whole bunch about the movie to be able to get along with this story - DG has to learn all about it herself anyway.
Azkadellia grabbed onto DG's hand, the fear in her eyes obvious to the younger princess. A flash of light later, and the two princesses were back in the cave at Finaqua standing before the Dark Witch.
"LET GO!" the witch screamed again at the younger princess, reinforcing her order with sharp tendrils of dark magick.
"NO!" DG shouted back, pushing back against the darker magic with the combined light of Az and herself.
The battle of magicks took all of thirty seconds before the light overheated the witch and she was melted.
The princesses stared at the mass in front of them with wide eyes before turning to each other. Az was the first to regain her ability to speak. With a smile she said, "You did it, Deej. You didn't let go."
DG smiled back at her older sister, but it was sad and full of regret, "I should never have led you in here."
Az gave her younger sister a fierce hug, "It's not your fault, Deej. What matters is that we've stopped the witch from getting out - you stopped the witch."
DG sniffed, biting back her tears as she withdrew partway from her sister's embrace, not letting go of her hands as she nodded, "Let's go get Mother."
The pair of princesses rushed out of the caves, intent on getting back as soon as possible to the awaiting arms of their mother and father.
Queen Aerenesa knew something was different when her two daughters gave her fierce hugs when they returned from their exploration of the forest surrounding the family's summer home. "My darlings, what is it?" she questioned softly.
It was Azkadellia who responded after sharing a wary look with DG, "Did you know that there was a Dark Witch trapped in a cave about half a kilometer into the forest?"
Aerenesa went pale. She had forgotten about the Witch. She nodded stiffly, "Has something happened involving her, my daughter?"
Az nodded again, much too calmly in her mother's opinion, "She tried to take control of me, Mother." She turned to smile at her sister, taking the smaller hand in her own, "But DG didn't let go."
"She melted," DG elaborated, somewhat pleased with herself for having melted her own witch.
The news was quite a shock to Nesa, but she tried to take it in stride. With a smile she instructed her daughters, "Go inside and rest now, we have a busy night ahead of us - and tomorrow we will be dining with the Mystic Man." She watched gratefully as her children scampered off back to the recesses of the palace.
Melted? Her daughters were more powerful than she had previously thought if they could melt the Dark Witch in a magical battle when her ancestors had only been able to bind her to her cave. A shiver ran down the queen's spine, she would have to instruct Tutor to have them spend more time on defensive magicks in case something similar ever happened again. And perhaps she would seek the council of the Land on the matter.
That night, as the palace slept, DG dreamt of a serene clearing in a magickal forest. Inside the clearing were a few things that caught the little girl's attention: the first was a beautiful waterfall, cascading down the rocks to form a pond in front of a cave; the second was a hooded figure sitting on a boulder at the edge of the pond, dipping their feet into the cool waters. She looked down at herself, finding that she was still in her nightdress, and the grass was cool against her bare feet. She was too curious to find the sensation odd.
The figure looked up as DG walked closer, her curious nature getting the better of her yet again. "Don't be afraid, Dorothea Gale. We would never harm you." The noise that issued forth from the mouth of the figure was not that of a solitary voice, as the child would have expected, but rather the sound of hundreds of voices mingled beautifully and dangerously with crashing water and growing trees.
"H-how do you know my name?" little DG asked, her eyes wide with curiosity as well as the perceived danger from the presence of the figure.
"We know you entirely, DG," it responded, rising from its seat to wade deeper into the pool of water. "We have watched you from your birth - even from your conception. You were marked as Ours."
"Who are you?" She felt her feet move closer to the pond through no will of her own.
"We are the Land, dear child. The lesser known, greater feared side, of course. There are two sides to every being, dear child: light and dark. Even land has these two sides. It has been too long since both sides of our being have been heard in this kingdom. Darkness is now confused with evil." The figure tilted its head to one side as if examining the princess, "But you know better."
Her mouth opened and the words tumbled out before she could stop them, "Evil is what happens when darkness is misused." Mother never had understood her view on things.
Now her feet were wet with the waters of the pond, and she was still moving closer to the avatar of the Land standing now scant meters away.
It held out its hand to her - dark and fair at the same time, both smooth and calloused, the long fingers beckoned for the princess to join with them. She hesitated, unsure whether she should answer the call. "Take our hand, child. You have been marked, but now you must be bound to us. Give us voice."
As if compelled by a force out of her recognition, DG took the hand that was offered to her.
Azkadellia felt rather than heard what was happening in her sister's room, right next door to her own. Quickly and quietly she rose from her bed, donned slippers and robe, and slipped from her room into DG's. She found her sister levitating about three feet off her bed, and glowing with a sort of dark radiance that frightened the older princess.
She reached out, unsure whether or not it was really wise to touch her sister, but knowing that she had to wake her. She wasn't quite positive how she knew that she had to wake DG, but part of her was convinced that she did.
The younger princess's eyes flew open and she grabbed Az's hand from her chest, pulling the older girl onto the bed with her as DG fell back onto the mattress with a thump. DG snuggled close to her sister, her little body shaking from the magickal residue left over from the bonding.
"Deej?" Az asked softly, gathering her sister into her arms. "What happened?"
DG shook her head, instead burrowing her head further into Az's neck and sending the images of what had happened through the link they had created some time ago with their magicks.
As Azkadellia began to finally understand the gravity of what had happened, she held on tighter to her sister, giving her what comfort she could.
They stayed like that, eventually falling asleep again, until the morning rays brought in a maid to wake up the younger princess.
"Nesa stop fretting," Ahamo chided his wife of twenty annuals as she paced back and forth in their sitting room. "There's nothing you can do."
Aerenesa gave her husband a pained look. That's what came from marrying an Other Sider. He knew only of basic magickal rules and practically nothing of the laws that governed her life. "That's where you're wrong, Ahamo. I felt her binding, but it's not yet complete."
"You can stop it?" Ahamo didn't know much about magick, but he knew enough about power to know that those with it know what they want and don't like being defied. He didn't want his wife to get hurt if she pissed off the land. Another part of him reminded him that he didn't want his daughter hurt - or bound to dark magick - either.
The lavender eyed queen stopped, contemplating her plan of action. Could she stop it? No. Not without killing DG. But she could halt the progress and keep the binding loose and inconsequential. Her mind drifted to her brother, also bound to the dark side of the land. She didn't want DG to end up like him. A part of her, however, knew that it was inevitable.
"I can try."
Nesa was calm as she waited until she was alone with her youngest, rocking in their special place, before she did what she had to do.
DG rested her head on her mother's chest, dozing lightly before the dinner with the Mystic Man that would take place in a few hours. Her mother's arms tightened around her small frame as she whispered the words that were supposed to save her daughter from the life the O. Z. was unfairly asking her to lead: "I wish the Goblin King would come and take you away, right now."
The little girl's eyes flew open at the words and the telltale swirling of magick in the air around them. "Mother?" she questioned softly, fear entering her voice as she tightened her grip on her mother's gown, her eyes fixated on the magickal being that had materialized before them.
He was majestic and powerful, his bearing radiating magick like his cloak. His arms were crossed in annoyance and anger. "Aerenesa, if this is some sort of practical joke you should know that I am less than amused," the man said in a clipped fashion.
The Queen shook her head, her voice clear despite the look of pain he saw in her eyes, "I would never joke about something like this, Jareth. She has been bonded to the Labyrinth."
Jareth narrowed his gaze at his sister before turning his attention to the little girl, five annuals old. His gaze softened as he studied his niece, obviously frightened out of her wits and radiating magick - both dark and light. She looked exactly like her grandmother.
"Perhaps it would be best to explain the situation to the rest of your household before I leave with her," Jareth replied, it was obvious that his patience with her had run thin. "It won't due to have one of the princesses disappear in the middle of the day, now will it?"
Nesa stiffened at the accusation overriding his words but nodded anyway before rising, never once relinquishing her hold on her daughter's hands.
DG's wide eyes looked at the man who was following them closely, unsure still of who he was or what was even going on.
Az knew who he was as soon as the group walked into the informal sitting room where she sat talking to her mother's chief advisor, Ambrose. Because she knew who he was, and she could see how petrified DG was, she had a good idea about what had happened.
Getting up quickly, the older princess detached her sister from their mother's arms and cradled her in her own. DG clung to her sister, her mind opening itself to Az's in an attempt to find out what had happened to make their mother wish her away.
"Children so young do not become bonded to the Labyrinth," Jareth's voice was still clipped. He waved a hand and a tumbler full of amber liquid appeared. He took a long drink from the cup as his sister sat close to her advisor.
"Nevertheless, she has been bonded, brother," Aerenesa said softly. "Can't you feel it?"
Jareth plucked a crystal ball from the air and focused its energy on the young princesses, seeing more in the crystal depths than their mother would ever know. He nodded once in agreement with his sister, "She has been bonded to the Land."
Azkadellia gasped, her eyes gazing imploringly at their mother. Jareth saw the movement and said sharply to Ambrose, "Advisor, I believe the Princesses would better serve their time greeting their guests."
Ambrose bowed low, first to his Queen and then to her brother, before calmly saying, "Come your highnesses, the Mystic Man just arrived and I'm sure he has wonderful things to show you."
After the trio left, Nesa turned to her brother, "Now what have you decided, brother mine?"
A/N: You know the drill. Now, just know that if you review I'll do my best to get another chapter up within the week.