A/N: This was supposed to be a fast-paced short story done in time for Xmas 2008. You would think I'd know better by now...
Disclaimer: As always, not mine. I doubt Jim Henson and JK Rowling intended for these two universes to meet,lol. My muse was drinking something in her eggnog.
Spoilers: Book 7 (toss the epilogue). M for violence and later content.
"I wish there was something I could do."
It was a mortal wish. A true wish, backed by all the fervor of the naked mortal heart. In that moment, whoever had muttered those words had meant them with all her soul. Even so, and even backed with mortal magic, the words were not enough to stir the Labyrinth to action. Which made him curious as to why they had caught his attention in the first place.
Sweeping into the world Above, he considered motivation. Mortal hearts were tricky things, and he sensed no ties of kinship nor the claims of a lover. Simply the heart-felt sense of failure and protest from one making the final journey from child to woman. He was not, therefore, exceedingly surprised to find himself brought to the side of a corpse.
He found a safe perch in the rafters, and peered down at the oddity below. The faintest of breaths was barely detectable, and even the ears of an owl detected no sign of a heartbeat.
Not quite a corpse then, for all that.
Mortal dreams and mortal magic leaked from the man, tainted with bitterness and sacrifice. Jareth eyed the silver fluid with fascination. He had never seen dreams manifest in such form, and they were a sweet lure to one such as him. Nor did they do the dreamer much good, spilled like a broken egg across a dusty floor. The Goblin King could be generous, especially in the face of curiosity. A twist of time and a deft pull of magic saw the departing dreams back where they belonged.
They were incomplete, but they were no longer maimed and broken.
Feathers ruffled as other scents, hidden beneath the dreams, became noticeable. Jareth hissed instinctively at the tang of snake, and peered around aggressively. When nothing slithered from the shadows, he hissed again to anything else that might be lurking and drew in another breath. Mortal children and mortal magic. Two sons and a daughter of Mil. A man who scented strongly of snake, and one who scented of dreams and home. Jareth blinked, and dropped to the floor.
The Goblin King landed on booted feet, and regarded the man on the floor with interest. There was a story there, for a cold winter's eve. Even were the stranger's scent not a tell-tale sign, that nose and the heavy brows were unmistakable and Jareth could not recall having been so careless as to misplace one of his own in recent years. He tapped a gloved finger against his lower lip as he tilted his headed thoughtfully. The sons of Mil were a thankless lot, however this particular son would be dead if Jareth did nothing.
"Shall I save him, Sarah?" he mused quietly. "Would this be generous in your eyes?"
He rather thought not. His green-eyed girl was stingy with her definitions. However, the man undoubtedly had a claim on the Goblin King were he conscious enough to make it. That he was also a son of Mil had...possibilities. He had left Sarah to her own devices for too long. The side effects of her time in the Labyrinth were becoming manifest, and he would not have her defenseless in the trials to come.
His choice was made then, for good or ill.
A roll of his wrist and a perfectly formed crystal appeared at his fingertips. He regarded it for a long moment, then shrugged, and let it fall. The crystal seemed to gather light as it fell, and shattered, momentarily outlining the body on the floor in a golden shimmer of magic. Then they were gone.