Disclaimer: I don't own Labyrinth.
Two (late) announcements:
1) Do not get fooled by the OC beginning. Sarah and Jareth are the crux of the story.
2) As a non-English speaker, forgive me possible mistakes. Proper grammar isn't my strongest virtue. I hope the story as whole covers that fault...
06/2009: I did some modifications to the first chapters (1-6) in order to make the story a bit clearer. The actual story has not changed, I mostly added some flesh on bones. Other than that, the story is unchanged.
Linda breathed in deep the crisp autumn air while looking at the old, tarnished wooden building. Ruefully, she smiled at the sight of dark eaves, filled with bright colored leaves, and the flawed windowsills. The house had remained the same as long as she could remember. She stood for a while in thought, looking at the old dark maple hovering next to the building that cast a tall shadow on her. A lone barn owl was sitting on the branch. It stared her with its gleaming blue eyes, and she shivered at the sight of it; the wind got stronger and nearly blew her over.
"Linda!" A shout pulled her back from her reverie, and before she knew it, her father had emerged from the house, jumped down from the porch and strode to her. He seized her in his arms. "Welcome home, Linda…" He kissed her forehead gently. "It's good to have you back! We've missed you."
She returned his embrace, closed her eyes and inhaled. He hugged her more tightly and, only when Linda started to squirm underneath his arms, released his hold. He took a step back, tilting his head.
"You look beautiful," Toby said, a tint of pride in his voice, and Linda returned his smile. His expression turned slightly somber as he examined her more closely, noticing the dark rings underneath her eyes. "And tired."
"I'm alright, dad," Linda said. "It was a long drive and the weather wasn't very good." She glanced over his broad shoulders, shifting her weight, and asked, "How's mom?"
He smiled. "Your mother's fine," he said reassuringly. "She's been complaining so much even I'm starting to think there's nothing wrong with her."
"She's stayed in the bed, though?" Linda inquired worriedly as she corrected the strap of her handbag on her shoulder.
"Hardly." Her dad laughed tiredly, picking up her luggage. "You know her…"
Linda rolled her eyes and smiled, following him inside. Just before she closed the door, she glanced at the dark trunk of the maple tree -- the owl was nowhere to be seen anymore. Her eyes narrowed; she shook her head, staring at the grey, cloud-filled sky before turning around and banging the door shut. The doorknocker swung, hitting on the tarnished brass nameplate: "WILLIAMS"
Linda let out a sigh. Dad had been right. Mom was nearly insufferable. She started complaining almost immediately after Linda had greeted her. She looked pale, but her dark eyes flickered as always as she inspected Linda with a steel-hard glare.
"You've lost weight," Jessica Williams stated with a tone she immediately recognized from her childhood. Linda sighed anew, sitting on the edge of her bed. Apparently, mothers would remain mothers forever despite their children grew up.
"Yes, mom." Softly, she agreed.
The woman narrowed her eyes. "Just be careful you don't lose too much," she warned and grimaced.
"Does it hurt?" Linda asked, worried, but her mom just shook her head.
"It'll pass," she said through her teeth. "And it's nothing painkillers can't handle." Toby was there sooner than Linda could even anticipate, offering Jessica a glass of water and a round pill that seemed to shimmer in his hand.
"Really, she's doing a lot better," Toby said in a hushed voice to Linda when they finally retreated.
"Still…to see her like this," Linda murmured her eyes transfixed on the closed door. She lowered her face, staring at her feet. "I should have come earlier."
"What could you have done?" Toby asked, ruffling her hair gently. "I know you've been busy..." His eyes brightened. "Sarah called me and told me your role as Cassandra was a success. She sounded proud of you."
Linda blushed. "Aunt Sarah is too kind," she murmured still staring at the floor. "She just wants to please you."
Toby shook his head while taking her bag and starting to carry them up the stairs. "You should know that she never lies, at least to me." He smiled brightly. "After all, I'm her favourite brother."
"Dad," Linda let out a small laugh, her mood cheering, and followed him. The stairs wailed and creaked underneath their steps. "You're her only brother!"
"Therefore, and, undeniably, her favourite brother." He grinned, opening a door, and stepped inside. Linda followed, looking around in surprise realizing dad hadn't taken her to her room.
"I hope you don't mind about sleeping in one of the guest rooms?" Toby asked, lowering her luggage on the floor. "Your mom insists she wants to sleep alone because of her pains, but I don't really dare to leave her alone. Thus, I have occupied your old room…" he explained with a slightly guilty look on his face.
Linda shook her head. "No, it's okay," she reassured him. "I can as well sleep here." She walked pass him to the window and looked through, trying to place the room into her childhood memories. A dark trunk of maple greeted her sight, its branches nearly touching the surface of the window. She turned around. "I don't think I've slept here before," she finally said, noticing a human-sized mirror standing on the corner of the room.
Toby shrugged. "This used to be Sarah's room," he told. "And even when she left, no one wanted to have it…" He pondered for a while. "Now when I think about it, I think it hasn't been used for nearly ten years or so…"
"Really?" Linda asked surprised, walking toward the mirror. She bent closer, inspecting the wooden frame of the polished surface.
"I guess it had something to do with the fact that she and your grandmother didn't get along well," Toby said, looking at her with a smile. "Apparently Sarah didn't approve grandpa getting married again. She was angry at her biological mother, your godmother, a long time."
"I remember," Linda nodded absentmindedly, trailing her fingers along the wooden frame, and her lips twitched as she regarded her father's reflection the speculum mirrored. "You know, I'm happy they made amends. Otherwise, I wouldn't have the coolest name of all." Her smile turned in a bright grin.
"Yes, having as your namesake a renowned actress must have its benefits…" Toby replied in an amused voice.
"Precisely!" Linda exclaimed, chuckling softly. Her expression turned more somber. "But you were about to tell me Sarah and grandpa…"
"Oh yes…where was I…?" He puckered his brows, and Linda was suddenly reminded of his age as the deep burrow appeared his face, that her parents were turning old. Toby didn't notice her startled jolt, in deep contemplation. Then, suddenly, his face smoothed, the years disappeared, and he looked up at Linda. "Like I told you, Sarah didn't approve dad's and mom's marriage. And I can guess it didn't help when I was born; she became even more jealous."
Linda turned around, frowning. "I find that hard to believe," she exclaimed, biting her lip. Silently, she wondered should she mention to her dad the lack of roles his sister had obtained. It pained Linda to see how little people appeared to care about the older Ms. Williams. It wasn't fair, she sometimes thought. Nothing had happened to Sarah's talents. On the contrary, Linda thought she possessed even more elegance and regality in her old age. Unfortunately, the producers didn't seem to share Linda's opinion. The rumor told that Sarah Williams hadn't got a decent cast nearly for a year now. It wasn't fair... She deserved better! Ever since Linda's mother got sick, Sarah had been there for her. Sarah took Linda under her wings, introduced Linda to all her colleagues, helped her in the start of her career. Linda wished she could do something for Sarah.
She sighed, returning back to present and cast the thought away, deciding otherwise. Dad was worried already now. Linda didn't want to burden him more.
"She used to be the only child…" Toby said, shaking her out of her contemplations, and gave her a pointed look. Linda shifted her feet, frowning, and Toby grinned, then quicklye sobered. "I don't really remember it, but this is what your grandmother told."
Linda snorted. "Grandmother doesn't like Aunt Sarah even today."
Toby looked thoughtful. "You might be right," he confessed. "But anyway…I thought that you might prefer staying in her old room." He signaled around them. "Grandpa never found it in his heart to remodel the room. I think it's almost in the same condition as it was when Sarah lived here."
Linda grimaced, and, after seeing her expression, Toby started to laugh.
"I meant mostly about the furniture and the size. Grandma insisted to get the wall next to you torn down but grandpa never agreed to it."
"So, this mirror was Sarah's?" Linda asked, turning once again to look at the mirror. Something about it was enticing, almost familiar.
"I guess so," Toby said uncertainly. "To be honest, I don't really remember," he hesitated. "You want to sleep somewhere else?" He suddenly asked worried, and Linda spun around.
"No. I don't mind," Linda shook her head. "I rather like this room." She smiled. "And the most important thing is that I'm here with you."
Relieved, her father returned the smile, and before leaving, turned to look at her from the doorway. "It's nice to have you back, Linda."
"It's nice to be back, dad."
o O o
The darkness arrived faster than anticipated and swarmed in the corners of the room. Linda had lit the lights, but they barely kept the shadows at bay. The wind was blowing harder, she could hear it whirling in through the holes and ventilation pipes of the house; the branches of the nearby tree tapped on the window. She glanced up, standing next to the bed. She had unpacked her belongings, placed her books on the small night table next to the bed and tried to decide whether to open her computer or leave it until tomorrow.
She yawned, deciding against the earlier and placed the laptop on the table. She could hear her father moving downstairs and sighed.
"I should have come earlier," she muttered another time, sitting on the bed. It creaked beneath her. She grimaced and lifted her face up, once again staring at the mirror in the corner. There was something about it that unsettled her. She chewed her lips, her gaze transfixed on the item. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of a shadow the mirror reflected flickering behind her. She spun around to see no one there.
Nervous, Linda stood up. She walked next to the mirror and, hesitating, stared at her reflection. She placed her hand on the smooth surface. It felt cold. She pressed her forehead against the mirror and closed her eyes, listening to the wind. It sounded like crying.
"Give me the child…"
"Wait! Look what I'm offering…"
"…no power over me."
She jolted and stepped back, wondering how long had already transpired. Her skin had goose bumps and her head pounded. She munched on her bottom lip while staring at her reflection. Whatever she had thought she saw there earlier didn't return.