A/N: A fluffy little one shot written on special request for my gorgeous Sexy Pear Tree who knows all to well the thrill and the hurting of getting older.
The words to the song are from Never Be Mine from the wonderful Kate Bush and do not belong a jot to me.
All characters are property of the Hensons and I'm just playing nicely with them.
I look at you and see,
My life that might have been
Your face just ghostly in the smoke;
They're setting fire to the cornfields
As you're taking me home
The smell of burning fields,
Will now mean you and here.
And this is where I want to be,
This is what I need,
This is where I want to be,
But I know all this will never be mine.
The festivities were well underway in the little coppice not far from her dorm that had become as dear to her as any other home. The fire was warm and lively in the mid-September air, singeing one or two careless goblins as they danced a little too close to the flames but they soon extinguished them with a practiced roll and trotted off none the worse for wear. Sarah could remember a time when she had been shocked by the sheer resilience of the small goblin bodies but nearly six years had transformed astonishment into acceptance.
Her otherworldly companions were her best friends, her makeshift family when she had moved from her home town in America to read Ancient History and Language at Cambridge in England. She had plenty of acquaintances at her university but they were passing friends, people she had little in common with and she much preferred her nights at the fire side with goblins, fairies, dwarfs, beasts and every other species in the ever growing band of visitors.
Tonight they had thrown her a party in honour of her coming 21st birthday. She had wondered why they had not held it on the actual night but Hoggle had shrugged and said they wouldn't have all been able to make it. She had wanted to question her friend but an over-enthusiastic Fiery had grabbed her in a death grip wishing her many happy birthdays to come and more detachable body parts.
She had received their simple but heartfelt gifts, knowing she would always treasure them, especially a card they had all signed for her. She used the term 'sign' very loosely, smiling at the finely penned print which then had a much shakier copy in many degrees of success beneath. The only name that was truly signed was done so with a flourish that suited its owner perfectly.
Sarah looked up through the flames to where the Goblin King sat amongst his subjects, his face cast in shadows by the fire but smiling in mirth at the scene before him. She remembered a time when that smile had only been cruel, a smile to mock her as she faced his challenges in the Labyrinth but Sarah was happy to note that it was very rare to see such countenance directed at her these days. It had been the night after her victory that she had first received a note congratulating her on her victory and informing her that the mirror would enable her to call on whom-so-ever she chose with no ill will behind it. She had called her friends often after that time, Hoggle, Didymus, Ludo, the Wiseman to name but a few but she never found the bravery to call upon the King. It had been a year after her victory when she sat contemplating her journey that she reached out to the glass and called out to him. Of course in true Jareth fashion he couldn't simply just shimmer into existence before her, no Jareth had to set the electrics off, throw open the windows, billow the curtains and transform from his owl form to a man in a shower of lightning and glitter. Sarah had only been glad that her parents were out.
Her reason for calling him evaded her at seeing him, as handsome as she remembered, if not more so when he wasn't trying to kill her. She had stumbled over her words, his amused grin only adding to her bluster until he had asked if there was a reason she had called upon him. At a loss for anything she had grabbed a text book and flicked to a random paragraph of Latin, telling him she couldn't make out the text and did he know anything about ancient language. Of course he had seen straight through her but he had taken the book from her with a shrug and translated out the work for her.
What had started as a cover soon turned to genuine aid and she began to call on him whenever one of her texts particularly bothered her. He had been the one to suggest England to her when she had been looking around universities and he had covered his Fae appearance with a human glamour to accompany her to an interview with the Dean at Cambridge. It was in the interview, when she had taken his hand in hers beneath the table that she realised what a dear friend he had become to her, a teacher, a big brother, a comforter and in his way, her best friend. He was the one who came to her and held her as she cried out her homesickness on her first night in her solitary dorm room, he was the one who had emerged from the shadows at her cry when she had had a little to much to drink one Freshers Week night and been accosted by a very unwelcome man, he was the one who had found the coppice for them all to meet in after one of her fellow students had wondered at the bellowing coming from her room one night. She could hardly have told them her dwarven friend had stabbed Ludo with the dagger during a game of Clue because he kept counting out the wrong number of turns round the board.
It was rare for the King to come to her whenever his subjects were visiting, preferring their civilised conversation to the ruckus of the goblins but on her birthday he always made the exception, coming Above with his subjects to help her celebrate. It had been her seventeenth birthday when he had given her a charm bracelet with a single crystal charm attached to it but he had added to them since. A little ankh when she had passed her high school exams, a little straw hat made of gold when Hoggle had relayed the tale of her falling in the Cam when they had attempted to go punting, a champagne bottle on her eighteenth birthday, a little heart when she had complained she had received no Valentine cards from anyone, a little Union Flag and Anchor when they had taken a night trip on the Thames to name a few of the elegant pendants. She treasured it secretly above all her other gifts though she would never let the goblins believe it.
His gift tonight had been a small gold key, twenty-one, key to the door, she had smiled at the cliché but it was not the only pendant he gave her. The elegant golden feather, inlaid with silver filigree was exquisite, far more decorative than any of her other charms and she new it would immediately become her favourite. The look on his face had confused her as he had given her the gift with his usual nonchalant act, behind the playful mask of indifference she had seen a slight sadness but she was too far in demand by her friends to question him.
They had eaten and drank well into the night, Sarah even participating in the dancing though she failed to tempt the Goblin King to his feet. It shocked her therefore, as the moon reached its peak, to see him get to his feet and come to stand before her, holding out his hand and asking her to dance. She had accepted with a smile, only realising after several minutes moved gently in his arms that there was no music. The goblins stared on in innocent curiosity while Hoggle frowned and Didymus bristled at their monarch's attention to their friend.
He had reluctantly release her as the dance ended and smiled a little sadly as a clock somewhere off in the city struck out eleven.
"We should be going," he said, amidst the groans of the goblins, "You have class tomorrow."
"It's my birthday tomorrow, I think I deserve a day off," said Sarah, her hand on her arm as if to stop him.
"Even so, we must depart, we creatures myth have jobs to begin at the witching hour you know," said Jareth, nodding to the goblins, "Say your goodbyes and I'll walk you home."
Sarah had hugged all the goblins gathered around her legs before they all disappeared before her, back to their Underground home. The Fierys had playfully tried to pull off her head, a joke that had worn thin after the hundredth time, four years before, but Sarah bore it with good grace before they too departed.
She had found herself soon enveloped in the large, strong arms of Ludo, the beast lifting her firmly off the ground.
"Ludo love Sawah!"
"I love you too Ludo," said Sarah, her voice muffled against his fur, before she heard him sniffling and pulled back, "Hey buddy what's wrong?"
"Ludo sad," he bellowed, "Sawah gwown!"
"We can still play," said Sarah, "I'm not that grown."
"Don't coddle Sarah too long Ludo," came Jareth's voice from behind, a strange commanding tone at its edge, "Your brothers must say goodbye too."
Ludo hugged her one more time before setting her on her feet, "Goodbye Sawah," he said before disappearing from view.
"Alas fair maiden," said Didymus, tugging her down by the hem of her dress, "A woman you have grown to indeed and ready to make thine own way in the world. I am truly honoured my lady to see you thus now."
Sarah smiled and hugged him, "Dear Sir Didymus," she said, "It's always wonderful to see you. Don't you be a stranger now."
Didymus gave her a too bright smile, "I will visit thee when I may dearest lady," he said, "Until then, fare thee well."
"Bye," said Sarah as he faded from view.
She turned to find Hoggle scuffing the ground with his boots, his face sad as he worried a twig beneath his toe.
"Hoggle?" she said softly.
The dwarf looked up, muddy eyes doleful and teary, "I's really gonna miss yers Sarah," he said.
Sarah frowned, "We'll see each other next week or have you forgotten the great checkers rematch night."
Hoggle looked set to say something but a pointed cough from Jareth silenced him and he glanced at the dirt once more, "Ain't gonna be able to make it girly, I's got this thing I gotta do," he said, "I don't knows when I's gonna be back yer see."
"Oh," said Sarah, never knowing her friend to be so secretive before, "Well when you get back we can make up for lost time with a movie night or something, just you and me."
"Yeah," said Hoggle with a non-committal shrug before he looked up at her with a sad smile, "You ain't half pretty in the fire Sarah."
Sarah felt her cheeks heat at the compliment, "Thank you," she said hugging him tightly and feeling him hug her back twice as hard.
"Yers always been my best friend," he said into her hair, "And I's always gonna love yer little lady."
"Hoggle tell me what's troubling you," said Sarah pulling back.
"Ain't nothing," said Hoggle with a forced smile, "Just seeing yers all grown up is all. Yer go taking care now, big old world out there."
"I will," said Sarah knowing to question him would just cause him to fall silent, "I'll see you soon."
"See yers soon," said Hoggle before he too vanished before her.
Sarah got to her feet and brushed off her knees, "Weird," she muttered before a touch at her elbow reminded her she still had company. She turned to Jareth with a smile, "You can go with them if you want, I'm ok getting back on my own."
"I am not about to allow a lady to walk home unaccompanied at this hour of night precious," said Jareth, his Underground attire shifting before her to that of a mortal, rough jeans and a black button down covered with a long leather coat, "Besides, we have yet to say goodbye."
Sarah took his offered arm as she did every time they met at the coppice, the pair of them long ago establishing a story of him being an old friend for any of her dorm mates who noticed him walking her home.
"Well just don't be as weird as the others when you say goodbye," said Sarah as they began walking, "Jeez, way they were carrying on back there…"
"Think not on it," said Jareth, with a forced lightness, "Now we have some quiet I would like to know your plans for tomorrow."
"Well I was hoping to see you guys until the impromptu party tonight," said Sarah, "Is there a reason you're a day early or did you just get your dates screwed up?"
"Time I'm afraid is somewhat against us at the moment so we chose to celebrate with you when we could," said Jareth.
"You expecting a lot of wish aways tomorrow or something like that?"
"Something like that," echoed Jareth, "I hope being a day early did not dull the celebrations."
Sarah smiled, "Not at all, it was a lot of fun," she said, "Just a shame we can't all be together tomorrow too, kinda momentous, twenty-one, I feel kinda old."
Jareth laughed, "You have your whole life ahead of you Sarah," he said, "Perhaps tomorrow you could seek out some of your classmates and terrorise the neighbourhood with drunken antics as most young people do on their birthdays."
"Not my cup of tea Goblin King, you know that," said Sarah, "Besides, I don't really consider many of them friends. I've got all the friends I need."
Jareth stopped her and turned her to him, "Perhaps you should endeavour to find friends amongst your own kind Sarah, surely you must crave the companionship of other humans, friends, suitors? Should you not be wilting in longing over bridal magazines."
"Yeah like that's what I want," said Sarah, "What's up with you tonight? Since when have I wanted all that? Marriage is for everyone else, not for me. I'd much prefer camping out with all you guys than herding round a gaggle of kids. Or are you just been old fashioned again with the insistence that a woman's place is in the home."
"Sarah you know I would never dare suggest such a thing before you," he said with a smile, "I just wonder at times whether you limit your social circles needlessly. Come now, we should hurry back, it's late and I would like some conversation with you before I too must leave."
Sarah slipped her arm back into his and let him lead her home, feeling the tension in the muscle beneath her hand and wondering at its origin. They chatted inanely about books and the past, safe topics that they had long since abandoned when as their friendship grew, and they fuelled Sarah's worry. The dorm was quiet as they reached the door and none stirred as they headed up the stairs to her room.
Sarah flicked the lights as they entered, illuminating the single bed covered in stuffed animals and the desk strewn with text books and fairytales. Jareth smiled as he laid a hand on the statue of the Goblin King on her dresser.
"I maintain quite fervently my dear that he looks nothing like me," he said as she sat down on the bed with a huff, his concern rising as she did not laugh, "Sarah?"
"What's going on Jareth?" she said flatly, "Why are you all being so weird tonight? Have I done something wrong?"
Jareth shook his head before glancing at the clock and reading ten to midnight. He sighed in resignation, "No precious, you've done nothing wrong," he said, "And our behaviour…its reason is hard to tell you of."
"What is it?" she said softly, the look on his face so sad it disturbed her, "Oh God you're sick aren't you, that virus thing that you said killed some of the Fae on Avalon."
Jareth laughed weakly, "No precious I am quite well, only sad to be going away."
"Back to the Underground," he said before he shook his head, "I have done this a thousand times and yet now…now look who it is who is grown."
Sarah got to her feet, "Jareth please stop with the riddles and tell me what's happening?" she said, "Ludo was crying, Didymus and Hoggle were talking to me like they'd never see me again and you're talking like going back to the Underground means you'll never leave again and I feel like I'm missing a trick here so will you please tell me what's wrong."
Jareth laid a hand on her cheek, the gesture oddly intimate and at the same time desperately sad, "You are grown, so very much, a young woman and tomorrow an adult."
Sarah forced a smile, "I've been an adult for three years Jareth."
"Legally speaking, in mortal eyes but at the stroke of midnight your childhood officially ends. You will become an adult, with adult concerns and no place for that which shaped your youth," said Jareth, "We are creatures of legend, bedtime stories for children which must be let go when it is time. Most cast us off when they reach their teens but you kept believing and you found us and fell to our protectorate. It has happened before, a mortal child knowing us, sometimes my people, sometimes other realms but they stop calling on us gradually, only a few linger and to them we must say goodbye."
Sarah felt tears swim in her eyes, "What are you saying?"
"Sarah at midnight you will be an adult and the power of the Fae can no longer touch you. Your friends cannot come to you again; I cannot come to you again."
Sarah grabbed hold of his hand, "You can't say that," she said, "You can't just stop coming to see me. I'll keep calling, wish you here, I'll make you come to me. Jareth this isn't fair, you can't just cast me off like this, I'm your friend."
"Which makes this all the harder but come midnight I can no longer come to you," he said, "I'm sorry Sarah but this…this world is not meant for us but you belong in it."
Sarah threw her arms around him, wondering how often she had held him close in their time together, feeling his heart beat against hers, "I can't let you leave me, I'll miss you all so much."
Jareth hugged her back, "No you won't," he said, "Part of the magic is that you will forget. You will remember the Goblin King and his subjects as a childhood fantasy, a fond memory but no more. You will not remember us as reality."
"No!" she cried, "No please if I can't see you please don't make me forget."
"That's not my choice Sarah," he said, "It's just the way things are."
She sniffed back a sob before pressing her face into the front of his shirt, "Will you forget me too?"
Jareth stroked her hair, "No, we will remember," he said, "We always remember."
"Is there nothing you can do?" she said pulling back, "Nothing to make it stop."
"No," said Jareth sadly, "Nothing."
"But you're the Goblin King," said Sarah, earning herself a rueful laugh, "I don't want you to go, not you."
Jareth stepped back, his clothes fading to that of his true self as he squared his shoulders against any emotion, "It's the way it must be done," he said, seeing mere moments left on the clock, "I can't be here at midnight Sarah I have to go."
"Won't you fight for me?" she said desperately.
He dropped his gaze to his boots, "If I could Sarah I would move heaven and earth for you," he said, "But I cannot and so this must be goodbye, forever."
"I won't let you leave me," she said stubbornly.
"That isn't your…"
It was her kiss that silenced him, the desperate press of her lips to his that quickly turned to something deeper. Her arms wound about his neck as he pulled her flush against him, kissing her back with equal fervour. All too soon she pulled back, breathless and flushed with her tears and his staining her cheeks.
"Don't leave me," she begged.
He was tempted to acquiesce but knew he could not. He pressed his lips firmly to hers once more before stepping fully from her arms.
"I have to," he said as he drew his long cape about him and disappeared from view.
Sarah heard the first chime of the city clock and it cut her like a knife as something began to unwind itself in her mind. She tried to fight it, tried to cling to the memories that were trying to escape her. She fell to her knees with a cry, and wrenched her bracelet from her wrist, counting the charms and reciting the memory but she kept forgetting what they were for, when she had received them.
"No, no," she pleaded, "Don't take them from me. I wanted forever, I want forever. Please, please. Oh how I wish…"
The final chime rang out, midnight, as Sarah slumped bonelessly against her bed, a single crystal charm held in her hand.
I want you as the dream
Not the reality
That clumsy goodbye kiss could fool me
But looking back over my shoulder
At you happy without me.
And this is where I want to be,
This is what I need,
This is where I want to be
But I know that this can never be mine.
Jareth woke with a groan, throwing a hand over his eyes to shield them from the too bright sunlight filtering through a gap in the curtains. He pushed away the last of his dreams and rolled on to his side, sadness coming to him at the empty space beside him, the space that would ever remain empty he was sure. He sat up, surveying the damage from his temper the night before, several chairs lay upturned and papers littered the floor beside the bare desk. He always hated the goodbyes, whoever believed in them long enough to reach their 21st year almost always became a friend to him but he could easily let them go, they had to grow. He could look in on them now and then and would find them happy, married, raising a family, growing old, laid to rest by those who loved them. Full human lives.
When Sarah had run the Labyrinth, believing in them all enough at fifteen to evoke the magic to wish her brother away he had known she would be one they would keep. He had not previously watched her as she had let herself believe, save for the afternoon before she made her wish when he had felt the magicks gathering and went to see who his potential challenger would be. She had been gawkishly pretty and he knew at least he would have the pleasure of watching her face the Labyrinth, despite her youth. He had not counted on her spirit, her defiance so similar to his own in adversity that he had found himself foolishly drawn. He had used all his tricks for females of her age and older, the fantasy of the ball room, the offer of himself as their eternal slave. None of it meant anything, those who had fallen to his charms had simply lost the child to him and been returned Above with a cruel tease and a bruised ego but with Sarah he had found himself wishing she would accept, not for the prize of the child but for the prize of her.
Of course in her determination she had refused him and won back her brother and he felt somewhat proud of her spirit, yet in private he nursed an odd sense of hurt that she would not consent to him. He had watched her celebrate with her friends, her imagination such to conjure them Above as and when and he knew she was worthy of their attentions for as long as she could believe. He had gifted her the mirror and thought no more of her, a pleasant memory of a pretty girl with a fiery temper.
When she had called on him without warning he had wondered at the speed of his heart as he hurried to appear before her and by her appearance. A year had erased the last of her childlike features and she stood before him a young woman, beautiful if somewhat flustered in his presence. Her cover of an impossible Latin passage had amused him but it had proved a suitable ice-breaker and soon became a regular excuse for them to meet.
He dared not entertain the notion of anything more than friendship, knowing her distrust of him and glad when it melted into a firm friendship. He could count true friends on one hand and had been glad to add her to the number. As she had grown older his feelings had also though he kept them tightly reined, knowing without her entire consent he would lose her as he lost all his mortal friends. The date had loomed like an apocalypse over them all in the final months, even Hoggle begging him to persuade her to wish herself to their side but he could not intervene, Sarah's choices were hers alone.
Now he lay alone in his great castle so filled with noise and mayhem yet oddly silent in its way, no soft female laughter in its hallways, no passionate arguments over petty issues that gave him a worthy opponent in words. He wondered if their would be another to match her intelligence.
Jareth sighed in resignation and got out of bed, pushing from his mind the thought of Sarah waking with no true memory of anyone and wondering who had given her the pretty bracelet she wore. He had said his farewell, he would not look in on her. He tried not to think of who she would take to her heart when she found friends amongst her own kind. Her kiss, clumsy and desperate, still burned on his lips as it always would do. He wanted to lock it away and treasure it but he knew it would always hurt to look back on it, had he wasted a chance in holding back from her so long.
It was desperation on her part he was sure, an attempt to keep him near. He was no more to her than a friend, a playmate and teacher. Hers was no doe-eyed friendship in the wish for something more, she acted far more than male than any of his female acquaintances. She reminded him of the relationships of his schooling years, innocent, when there was no distinction between sex, girls might have worn dresses but they could still climb trees. Sarah had been one of those girls.
She wouldn't remember any of it, no nights by the fire singing ridiculously crass songs with the goblins or fiendishly played out games where she more often than not beat him on her own merits. She would not even recall that she had kissed him.
He dressed and made for the door, pushing down his melancholy for the sake of his Kingdom and for those who were yet to pass through their lives before moving on with there own. He had his place in the world and now Sarah had hers, her life beginning anew.
The general hub-bub of the throne room disturbed him as he wandered the corridors, usually his subjects spent the day subdued after a farewell to a mortal friend and he wondered at the destructive mischief that made it sound as though they had just found a wish away. He hurried his feet and entered the room, seeing them all huddled around the pit as they chattered senselessly.
"What terror are you insufferable morons creating this morning?" he hissed out, slumping into his throne, "If there are any damn chickens in here this morning I'll be having a barbeque by this afternoon."
"No chickens His Majesty," said one goblin, tugging on his boots until he got to his feet, "Looks it! Looks it!"
Jareth reluctantly followed him to the pit, the goblins parting like a sea before him. He looked down to see the raised mound of blankets, one pale arm and a few tendrils of hair all that was uncovered.
"It's a harpy," said one goblin.
"It's a banshee."
"It's a girl," said Jareth, "What have I told you about taking wish aways without letting me know?"
He climbed down into the pit and knelt down beside the blanket. The girl beneath stirred, another pale hand emerged, this time adorned with a bracelet he couldn't help but recognise and he leapt back as though burned.
"It can't be," he said, rubbing his eyes with a gloved hand, "It can't possibly…what have you done you little idiots? You know you can't bring her here."
"We no did nothing His Majesty. She just be lying there whens we all waked up. Does you know who it be?"
Jareth returned to the pit and knelt down once more, daring to pull back the blanket to reveal the familiar face in gentle repose. He reached out a finger to trace the pale cheek, in awe of whatever was at work before him.
"Sarah?" he said brokenly, "Sarah wake up."
Her eyes fluttered, she turned away from him in sleepy reluctance before she sat up, rubbing her eyes and yawning. She startled at the goblins gathered before her but then her face broke into a smile.
"It worked," she said, "Jareth? Jareth!"
"I'm here precious, no need to shout," he said, half choked to hear her speak, "How on earth are you here?"
She smiled brightly, trembling so much that he took up the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, "I wanted to be," she said, "I couldn't say goodbye."
"I wished," said Sarah.
Jareth's face fell, "Do you realise what you've done?" he said, "You've trapped yourself here, you can never go…"
Her lips on his silenced him once more as the goblins all murmured in awe. Jareth would have wondered if perhaps they were thinking of silencing their monarch the same way when he shouted at them but he was too distracted by the feel of Sarah's lips, the soft brush of her hands as she laid them on his chest. He was sure he looked ridiculous as she released him but he didn't care.
"I don't want to go back," she said, "There's nothing there that I want, everyone I love is right here."
"Love?" said Jareth, seeing the smile in her eyes at the question.
"Love," she affirmed, before smiling a wicked smile, "I have three brothers here who adore me, a complete family of mischievous goblins and a whole Labyrinth to explore, what more could a girl want?"
Jareth's response died on his lips but Sarah did not leave him long to slip into melancholy, sliding her hands up the silk of his shirt to wrap around his neck.
"I suppose there is one more thing," she said, lips by his ear as she whispered, "If you would give me a while to learn the ropes there is one job I've been secretly thinking of applying for for a while."
"Job?" said Jareth, caught between despair and elation as the press of her body assuaged some of his pain at her former statement.
"Well a little bird told me there was a vacancy going for a queen," she said, "I'll need some time, a trial period but I think its something I'd enjoy though I hear the boss can be a bit of a tyrant."
"A real villain," said Jareth, hope rising within him at her words, "Sarah…"
"Surely you've known," she said stilling his question, "This passed year, whenever we've been alone, surely you've seen how I've been feeling."
Jareth shook his head, "If you had but told me."
"I was scared too," said Sarah, "But last night, the thought of you leaving… I love you all so much and you, you I adore my king. I couldn't let you go so I wished myself to your side."
Jareth smiled before kissing her, the goblins once more providing a soundtrack of awe as he picked her up off the cold stone floor, cradling her close.
"Send for the others, everyone in the kingdom," he said, "Tell them Sarah is home to stay and that we must celebrate."
"What's we celebrating sire," said one of the goblins.
Jareth smiled down at the girl in his arms, wondering at fate and its twists, "The thrill and the hurting," he said, "A coming of age and a life anew."
The goblin barely got a word but threw his arms in the air with a shriek of pleasure, "We's getting drunks again!"
Jareth laughed, "You realise precious that you have this to deal with now," he said.
Sarah smiled, "Forever," she said as the celebration began without them.
A/N: Please read and review.
SPT- We's getting drunks again!!!! Vivre la bohemienne!