He stood there barely noticing the wind. The cruel, blistering wind that caused his cape to ripple and crack, and his platinum locks to obscure his vision. He barely noticed the wind though, for the sight before him – a sight he had seen a thousand, perhaps a million times and it still tore at his soul.
The place that used to be his home was now a barren wasteland. The castle he had spent many a day lounging about was gone – not even rubble remained of it. Oubliettes filled with grim horrors were gone – they weren't just hidden, they were truly and completely gone. The rolling hills of his land had been leveled; grassy meadows had been reduced to seemingly empty plains of dust.
Seemingly empty. He crouched down on one knee and with gloved fingers he scooped up a handful of the dust that topped the dry and weary land. Careful to not let even a grain of the dust fall between his fingers, he shifted the dust in his hand. The smallest bit of magic that remained in him allowed him to pull the grains of what could be mistaken for glitter into the air.
He dropped the pile of dust from his hand then and with a delicate grace pulled the shards – for that was what the glitter was – into an area in front of his face. With eyes more perceptive than a human's could ever be he could catch glimpses of 'has beens' in the shards. A gentle giant with no knowledge of his strength. A horned figure. Caverns of ice.
There were others, hundreds of images but he glanced away. It tugged at his soul how he had failed yet again. With a single swooping gesture the glittering shards had vanished into a place inside of him. At last he had collected all of them – it had taken him nearly thirteen hours – oh, the irony – to collect the remains of the Labyrinth.
He stood and took a last glance at the landscape before him. The wasteland extended to the horizon – and perhaps beyond. He had never tried exploring it. It was like this in any direction you turned, he knew that now; there was no doubt about that. This most definitely wasn't the first time that He had returned to his land to have it like this.
Hopefully it would be the last.
He started to change forms. He collapsed inward on himself, his white cape flowing over him and then down his arms as it became his wings. It fell over his head, changing his face to that of his avian form. He shrank until he was a barn owl and then took off, flapping madly in order to get away from this place of Desolation.
The path between Aboveground and the Underground was fraught with perils and was practically a labyrinth itself. He had made this travel too many times to count though so dodging reflecting glass and not turning to the right after the third left turn was second nature to him.
Eventually though he ended up in the Aboveground, though he did not pause to catch his breath or regroup. He kept on flying and soaring until he neared the home he had been searching for. It shone like a beacon to him and he knew in his gizzard that this was the place he needed to be.
He did pause at a branch outside the window of the room he knew where the next runner of the Labyrinth slept. A woman of dark flowing hair was kissing the cheek of the child in bed and left hurriedly. A sound of an engine could be heard soon after.
The window was conveniently left open and he flew in to the middle of the room and changed forms. He took a moment to take a deep breath and examined his surroundings.
The room was definitely that of a child's. There was a wall of stuffed creatures and books lined the walls. Dolls were thrown over the chair and costumes could be seen hanging from the open closet door. Play make-up was on the vanity table by the mirror, and on the other side of it was the bed with the sleeping child.
Stealthily, he crept towards the bed and peered down at the young one. She couldn't have been more than ten years old at her size, but she showed promise already for the woman she could become. Dark hair the color mahogany was spread on the pillow around her head. Her face was childishly rounded but he could see how that would fade in the coming years. Her lips were partly open as if surprised by her dreams, or perhaps the strange man in white leaning over her – but that couldn't be for she slept onward in innocent dreams.
He fought the urge to kneel down beside her and continue watching her sleep and turned sharply away. He pulled a crystal from the center of himself and spun it idly in his left hand.
Without letting the crystal fall he pulled the glove off of his right hand with his teeth. Delicately, he let the crystal spin into his bare hand and the crystal disappeared leaving the shards that had been cased in it to fall onto his bare hand.
The glittering pieces were so tiny they couldn't harm anyone physically so he felt no guilt in spreading a shard on each of the items in her room. Blowing gently on the mound in his hand they floated gently around the room onto the girl's belongings causing a light glow to encompass the room before fading until all that was left was a glow of innocence.
With that done he turned back towards the sleeping girl and this time let himself kneel beside her bed. He pulled out another crystal and passed it ton his right hand letting the remaining shards be in the open air again. He pulled the glove out of his mouth and pulled off his other one and left them on the floor before leaning over the young girl.
Gingerly, He blew the tiniest bit of the glittering substance onto her face. The girl's face pinched for a moment before relaxing even more deeply than before. Her face glowed and remained that way – only he or any of the citizens of the Labyrinth would have been able to see the showing that she was the Runner anyway.
He then took the remaining amounts of shards focused on the image of a red book with a gold lettering and he held a likeness in his hands. He put it carefully on the girl's nightstand, careful to not let his bare hands touch anything.
He could have been done then – he could have returned to his newly reformed Labyrinth and guide the new creatures that inhabited it, or explore this new reincarnation of it. Instead he found himself drawn to the dark haired child before him – more so than any of the other Runners he had offered his heart to.
Without truly thinking about it, He reached out to stroke her hair and was surprised at the softness of it and the lack of reaction his hands caused. At that thought he brought back his hands and pulled his gloves on, silently cursing his lack of thought.
He stared at her again, and then said in a soft whisper, "Do you know precious one, that they've called me the Sandman in some places? They say I dust the eyes of all children with dreams. It's only partly true though – I leave dreams for those who'll believe in my land and hope that one day they'll agree to stay there. I've heard mortals complain of having there being no magic in this world – yet a mortal is needed in order to keep the Underground alive." He paused and wondered yet again why he was telling her this. He wondered why he couldn't bring himself to leave just yet. "They say I tell stories, too, though that one isn't true at all. I know all the stories of the world yet never tell them." His hand had somehow found hers and he rubbed his gloved thumb over her knuckles. "Should I tell you a story? There are so many yet I think this one will do."
Before he could dissuade himself he began. "Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl who was treated harshly by her cruel stepmother. She was forced to do chores and look after her crying half-brother. Though the tasks were hard and wearying the girl bore throughout it all for what no one knew was this…" His head had moved closer and closer as he weaved the tale and his lips brushed the girl's ivory skin before he continued. "The King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and had given her certain powers."
Again, he stood in the barren wasteland – what had been the Labyrinth. The wind he still ignored as it pulled and tore at his hair and cape. He'd like to think it pulled the tears from his eyes as well but it didn't matter. He was alone; none could see him here as there was only he again.
He collapsed on both his knees and grasped at the dust on top of the ground. Images winked at him. A girl with a beauty to rival a Queen's. A gnome-like creature with a penchant for jewels. Rabbit-like creatures that called themselves Fireys.
Usually he couldn't bring himself to look at the shards for too long, but now, he couldn't tear his eyes from them. A crystal ballroom. A room of stairs. Goblins of every shape and size.
He examined them all for a reason, an explanation for why this time of all times he had been refused. Hundreds of thousands before her had – why had she been the same?
He collected the shards and stored them – for once hating to go Aboveground to begin the cycle again. Turning himself into his other form didn't seem like the start of hope, but rather an affirmation of death.
The gap between the worlds was the same yet it might as well have been turned into something new. He became lost several times, nearly fell twice, and partially switched into human form as he came across his reflection.
Eventually he pulled himself through the gap and into the Aboveground – near the park where he had always watched her, his precious one, his Sarah. He flew away once he recognized his surroundings, not following the beacon that always shone from the window of the next Runner. Instead he just flew trying to get away from everyone, everything, life.
A pull in his gizzard caused him to stop flying towards the stars he had once moved and towards the next Runner. He flew half-heartedly, exhausted to the windowsill of a large building with numerous identical windows except for the one that shone.
The window opened for him – waiting it seemed, and he landed in the room and transformed back into his humanoid shape. He glanced at the walls and the room without taking it in – barely noticing the red-haired child asleep in the crib.
The crystals were pulled out and the shards of Sarah's dreams were released. He blew on them, spreading the shattered dreams across the small room to inspire the next Runner.
Once he had walked towards the red-haired child, he paused and stared. This young girl was so much younger than Sarah had been when he had brought her the dreams and so different. No tug at his heartstrings came at gazing at her as how it had been with Sarah. He couldn't imagine ever offering what he had offered to so many after he had done so to Sarah. Words that had once been just pleas to save his kingdom had been said to save his heart as well – but as always, no acceptance was made. Only the cold refusal of 'You have no power over me.'
He leaned over the crib and blew the remains of dreams onto the babe's freckled face. The infant rolled over, but still stayed asleep like all the others had.
He was done here – and yet like with Sarah, he didn't want to leave. However, he knew it was because of not wishing to go back and compare this Labyrinth to hers.
Jareth sighed and said, "Do you know, little one, that I am a shard, just like the ones I use to save my kingdom? I'm the lucky one who always remembers when the Labyrinth is destroyed and paradise is refused. I'm shattered just like the shards I've scattered all over the world…"
This one-shot was written back in March, when I first joined Fanfiction. It's had many travels through the Internet, in the hopes of becoming beta'd and in good shape for posting. Because of this, I'd like to thank the following people for their time and energy: Lanenkar, Scribe of All Trades, Nicholas de Vilance, and Lioness's Heart. Thank you for your time guys. It was greatly appreciated.
Labyrinth, unfortunately belongs to the Lucas and Henson corporations. I don't belong to either of those groups, so I don't own Labyrinth at all…
Please review and let me know what you think!