AN: I make no claim to the main characters - they all belong to Jim Henson. This is my first foray into the Labyrinth arena with an original story of my own; please let me know what you think of this story.

Chapter One – The Party is Over

The party was over and the last guest had left. The girl stood amongst the remains of the party glitter waiting but she realized it was in vain.

"He's not coming," she mourned forlornly, and suddenly she emitted a sob as she reiterated, "he's not coming." The realization struck her a soul-numbing blow.

Everything they had been through, all the maneuvering to gain the upper hand, all the verbal battles, the ballroom dance, the final challenge, the final offer had all meant nothing the moment she realized he hadn't accepted her offer after she returned home.

The rejection hurt deep into her heart. She had heard others speaking about the pain of a broken heart, but this was the first time she had ever felt it, and it hurt like – well, she decided, nothing could hurt worse, so she would compare it to 'hell.' Yes, she decided, it 'hurt like hell.'

Her only recourse was to throw herself on her bed and cry as much of the pain out as possible. All this time, she had believed the story to be real and she had played the game just as the book had instructed. She knew he had done his part perfectly, and she had been profoundly grateful for everything he had done for her, but she thought she had played her role correctly as well; she even remembered those final words that she always struggled with when acting out the role in the park.

He made the flawless villain, and no one could have surpassed his portrayal. She had marveled at the cruel looks and vicious words. She had silently applauded his conniving tricks and had been dumbfounded at his last ditch effort to stop her completely by attempting to trap her in the exquisite crystal ballroom. The dance, she admitted, had utterly surprised her because it had not been a part of the original story; nonetheless, she had trembled in delight as he took her in his arms and led her in her first grown-up dance. If it hadn't been for Toby and the overwhelming desire to finish the game, she would have stayed to discover how the new scene would have played out, but the game came first and she wouldn't allow herself to lose sight of that fact.

She had done everything according to the rules she had learned from the little red book, and after her win, she had chosen the right words carefully, the perfect words of invitation that would include him, and then, when he never appeared, she had faced the final rejection, the ultimate heartrending defeat. She had lost and her world had crashed down upon her burying her in utter despair.

Hoggle watched from the mirror as the girl sobbed her heart out, and he brooded over the confusing sight before him. Only a short time ago, she had been laughing and celebrating with the other labyrinth inhabitants who had come at her invitation, but now she was in the deepest pit of sorrow and it made no sense to him.

Outside her window, perched on a branch of her favorite tree, was a brown white-crested owl. He gazed into the window endeavoring to decipher the scene that was playing out in front of him.

Here was the vibrant champion, the victorious challenger weeping as if she had been the defeated victim, as if she had been the one who lost all her dreams and fondest desires rather than him. Her agonizing sobs should have been cheers of delight; lighthearted laughter should have filled her room rather than painful sobs of sorrow.

If anyone had a right to tears, it was he, the truly rejected one. He had offered her everything and still been turned down by the only one who had ever captured his heart. Her rejections had ripped his heart out; a piercing unsurpassable pain or so he believed, but hearing her sobs and observing her tears was even more agonizing then her pitiless rejection of him just before he sent her safely home.

Three words finally reached his ears through the closed window. Three words he had not been present for just before she began to cry.

"He didn't come."

Three words that she painfully moaned as she once again mourned his absence, three words that he failed to comprehend the meaning of, three words that if he had fully understood them would have caused, at that moment, a shift in the worlds around both of their suffering souls. Instead, he helplessly watched as she inconsolably cried into her pillow. It wasn't until sleep mercifully took her from her world that he finally stretched his wings and flew home.

After reaching the castle, he conveyed himself to the throne room where he slumped into his special chair and spent the rest of the early morning puzzling through the meaning of her words. 'He didn't come,' her words obviously referred to someone she had expected to come, but didn't. The absentee guest wasn't Hedgewood, he had seen the odious wart cavorting around in her room as if he were her knight in shining armor, and it could not have been Sir Didymus because he too was there with his shaggy steed. She also could not have meant the orange shaggy beast because no one could have missed his presence even if one tried.

'Who else would she have missed?' he wondered. The Wise Man had been there, and he had even seen the fire gang dancing all around the room. In addition, a number of his traitorous goblin guards had even attended – a matter he would seriously address in the near future. It couldn't have been the worm either, for although he was small, his blue coloring had made him easily visible to Jareth's owl form perched out on the branch. Who was left, he wondered. He knew she couldn't be referring to the knockers, doors, alarms, or helping hands because they couldn't physically leave the labyrinth. 'So,' he asked himself, 'who was left?' Surely, she wasn't referring to Toby; he was still a babe and had been sound asleep in his crib. 'So who could it be?' He asked himself feeling a growing frustration. "Who else could she have been referring to?"

"Who what sire?" One of the goblins asked.

He hadn't realized he had spoken aloud, but what was said was said, so he irritably looked at the goblin and snapped, "Who wasn't at the celebration party last night?"

"What party sire?" The goblin asked as he slowly backed away from the king's ire.

"Her party you imbecile!" he bellowed as he rose threateningly from his throne. "I saw you there you little scab. Who had she expected to come that didn't?" he snarled in frustration.

"Oh, the girl's party, well, only you didn't come, sire," the goblin mumbled softly, fearful of offending his majesty and ending up being dipped in the bog.

Inadvertently reflecting the goblin's thoughts about his impending doom, the king contemplated sending him to the disgustingly putrid bog, but stopped, as he suddenly comprehended the creatures comment. He hadn't neglected the fact that he appeared in his owl form, but he didn't think that counted as being near her. Besides, had she really expected him to attend, to appear in her room, and cavort with his subjects in celebration of his own defeat?

He sat back down as he toyed with the idea. 'Could she really have expected me, 'ME' the Goblin King, to attend her pathetic little soiree to listen to her gloat about beating me or boast about rejecting me? And yet,' he wondered, 'would it have been so bad to have been asked?' He laughed mockingly as he thought, 'Surely, after everything that happened, she would not really want me there. The villain of her story, the one she accused of stealing her brother.'

'Of course,' he pondered thoughtfully with a rueful smile twitching his lips, 'it could have been fun to have been there, to tease and taunt and even tempt her.' He still could smell her clean innocent scent, see her deep thoughtful green eyes, and marvel at her bold determination and headstrong will. She was everything he could ever have hoped to find and win in a woman, and yet she wasn't a woman. Maybe he needed to remember that she was still a child and as such, she thought and acted as a child. 'Was that why she rejected my offer?" The thought suddenly registered, 'She was too immature to realize what I was offering.' It was an idea worth investigating he decided while slapping his riding crop lightly against his hip. Maybe there was hope yet, but only if he discovered what she had really meant. He knew there was no way to go to her unless she invited him, for as she had so rudely pointed out; he had no power over her.

"Creepy," the king purred unexpectedly.

Knowing the king's penchant for mispronouncing names in order to irate the listener, Creeia replied for fear of retribution if he ignored the call, "Yes majesty?"

"I have a task for you." Creeia came closer as the king spoke softly. "You are to go above ground and watch the girl. Watch her even after she falls asleep, and you are not to return until I call you; when I do, you will tell me everything she has said and done during the course of your watch." The king leaned down closer to Creeia before asking, "Do you understand?"

"Yes majesty. I do as you command." Creeia bowed as he was about to leave the room.

"Oh, and Creepy, you are not to be seen by anyone, especially the girl," the king warned.

"Yes majesty," Creeia acknowledged before swiftly vacating the room.