Obligatory Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, this means I do not own any of the characters, no matter how much I wish I had His Nibs Jareth, the Goblin King as my own personal cabana boy in tight trousers (and nothing else) bearing peach margaritas and chocolate truffles and singing "It's too Darn Hot" under the citronella filled tiki torches while shaking his money maker around my backyard pool. (Let us pause to appreciate that thought for a moment shall we ladies? Mmm, mental images are such lovely things indeed.) I own nothing but the words in this tale and those aren't worth much. Everything else is © Jim Henson and Company. I'm only borrowing their toys and I'll put them back when I'm finished, only slightly used and abused (And more than likely severely Sexually Harassed).
Quintessence is the most perfect embodiment of something. (In ancient and medieval philosophy) it is the fifth essence or element, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth, and water.
Her World Falls Down…
His love for her was quintessential, it had known no equal, could not be shaken, and was debilitating when he could do nothing to help her and only watch in his crystals as her world very literally fell down around her in broken shards that cut her heart into ribbons. He had promised her to be there when her world reached this point; he ached to hold her when she wept, to ease her sorrow, to bring her home.
He needed someone, anyone to make a wish, to open the door between their worlds so he could enter. Even the Goblin King, the mighty Dream Weaver, Protector of the Unwanted was bound by the ancient magic that required a key to open the dimensional doors between worlds. That key for him, took the form of a wish. He could slip into dreams, when mortals hovered between worlds and he could whisper his words of devotion and longing to her sleeping form only to watch in agony as she awoke and the mists of dreams faded and were forgotten. Humans very rarely remembered their dreams and Sarah was no exception.
Her time in his Labyrinth had been relegated to the back of her mind, like the rare dream a mortal remembered because it had been so vivid, so vibrant, so REAL. In most cases those dreams had indeed been real but magic and mortals mixed poorly and the mind, afraid of magic, played tricks on mortal memories. Magic was always banished to the realm of dreams, beautiful memorable dreams.
Sarah clung to the dream like a lifeline. It was her only happiness in a world that was beyond cruel. Her petulance and arrogance at fifteen had been a defense mechanism, a shield to hide the pain she felt in her mundane world. A Mother, so self absorbed in her own world of make believe had abandoned her when she was ten, without so much as a farewell. Her stage career and her affair with Jeremy had been higher up on her list of priorities than her impressionable, loving daughter who had blamed herself when her mother left. It had surely been all her fault, she had done something wrong, like most children, they will find reasons to blame themselves when the adults in their lives hurt them. Sarah, already prone to selfless acts knew beyond all doubt it had been her fault.
Her father hadn't helped to clear up that misconception either. Robert Williams was no saint, knew nothing of raising a daughter on his own, and could hardly bear to look at the little girl who looked like a carbon copy of the woman who had scorned him for another. He threw himself into his work, hired babysitters and disengaged from Sarah emotionally, just when she had needed him the most.
Then had come Karen, the new woman in her father's life. While Sarah had acted out for attention, became melodramatic in hopes her father would notice her, in one area she had not over exaggerated. Karen was the stepmother from hell. She even made Jareth shiver and he was certainly no paragon of righteousness, but where he was devious and cruel and altogether mischievous. Karen was evil, she had a malevolent heart and secretly delighted in Sarah's pain.
She saw in Sarah, Linda, Robert's first wife. She saw a girl who was, even at barely thirteen, beautiful and intelligent and had the potential to go further in life than Karen ever would. She saw Sarah as unwelcome baggage in her marriage. Oh she laid on the drama thick for Robert's benefit. She played the victim to his poor selfish daughter. How she wanted to be a mother to Sarah, she wanted Sarah to like her and poor, poor Karen only was treated like a wicked stepmother.
Robert believed her, scolded Sarah repeatedly and Karen watched the wedge be driven deeper and deeper between father and daughter.
Then the pregnancy and birth of the golden son, every man's fondest dream, a son to carry on his name, a boy, a wonderful boy, at last I have a son, a child to be proud of, it was little wonder Sarah's heart resented the love Toby was showered with, when all she wanted was a little of her father's love too.
She hadn't meant the words, it wasn't Toby she resented, it was her father, it was her mother, it was her life. Toby had just been a convenient target when her emotions had gotten the better of her. She had regretted her words immediately.
Her heart was pure even if pained and filled with sorrow. Her soul was made of sterner stock and Jareth admired her will and her determination and how could he not love a creature who, even though she so desperately wanted to be loved, to feel happiness, she still gave up those dreams for the sake of another.
She was selfless, she was pure, she was the quintessential mortal. She was slowly being destroyed and that in turn was destroying Jareth.
One year to the day, the anniversary of their encounter, Linda Williams died in a plane crash, her charted Cessna crashed almost immediately after take-off and there had been no survivors. Linda had left everything to her long time lover, Jeremy. Not even a trinket left to her daughter to remember her by, Sarah was never even mentioned in the will. Her mother's millions of dollars all left to the man she had left Sarah's father for; there wasn't even a token amount of money for a college fund left to her only child. One more dagger plunged in Sarah's heart. Proof her mother never loved her and she must have been such a terrible daughter to drive her mother's love away to the point she never acknowledged Sarah's existence. Not even her obituary in the newspaper mentioned she was survived by a daughter. Only accolades to her acting career and her long time affair with Jeremy. Sarah was erased from her life as if she had never existed. That hurt most of all.
All Karen had to say in the matter was Linda had finally gotten out of making Child support payments and now Sarah was even more of a burden on her poor father. Sarah was then ordered to go find a part time job to start earning her keep since Linda's checks were no longer going to be coming.
"Really Sarah, you never go out with boys anyway, it's not like you have a social life to lose. Might was well put all your spare time to good use rather than daydreaming. Honestly, you're not normal." Karen had said and Sarah bit her lip and just nodded.
She had given up fighting back with Karen. It never did any good anyway and was exhausting. It took far more effort to be confrontational than to just go with the flow. Karen was right; she didn't have a social life. She didn't have any friends, no boys called on her and no girls either. She went to school, came home and babysat while she did homework. Her life revolved around Toby, the only sunshine in her life. His smiles and his adoration and his toddler hugs around her neck made her life bearable.
There was no doubt he loved her. He was the only person in the world who did and a three-year-old's love was fleeting and Sarah would hold onto it as long as she could. Little did she know another loved her too and longed to show her just how much, he poured over his library looking for ways to break the veil between worlds without a wish as a catalyst. There had to be some way and he would find it, somehow he'd find a way. He'd find a way to do more than just spy on her with his crystals, he'd discover how to reach through them, she needed him.
Things only went from bad to worse, the following year Karen had a paternity test performed on Sarah and it turned out Robert Williams was not Sarah's father. Jeremy wasn't her father either. Linda had cuckolded her husband and whoever Sarah's real father was, he was unknown.
Oh how Karen rejoiced and Robert couldn't even look at Sarah now without being disgusted. For seventeen years he had raised another man's child. All that money wasted on a child that wasn't even his! Sarah was devastated; the man she had known as her father refused to let her even called him anything other than Mr. Williams. Every trinket, every beloved toy, every book, piece of jewelry, all her cherished childhood memories were ripped out of her room. The toys were given to Toby and everything else ended up in the front lawn in a garage sale.
"Really Sarah, it's only right and proper you pay back the man. He gave those things to you thinking you were his; he should recoup at least some of the money he spent on another man's bastard. Be glad he's allowing you to stay under his roof until you turn eighteen. I don't think you could ask for more than that. He's being quite generous really. If I were him, you'd be out on your ear faster than you can blink. As it stands young woman, we'll be discussing the rent you will begin paying for your room and board until you can move out." Karen said as Sarah watched everything she owned apart from her clothes be sold to complete strangers. Every birthday present, every Christmas gift, every cherished spangle and bauble sold to compensate the man who glowered at her every time she entered a room.
Toby just watched, trying to understand why his beloved Sarah cried all the time. Why his mother told him that Sarah wasn't his sister anymore and that he shouldn't love her anymore, he couldn't understand. How did you just stop loving somebody? He loved Sarah more than his own mother. Sarah was more a mother to him than his own was. His mother was always out at parties with his father. It was Sarah who was with him every night, who cooked his dinner, who read him bedtime stories, who tucked him in at night and checked for monsters in his closet. It was Sarah who checked on him in the night when he cried out from bad dreams; it was Sarah who got him up in the morning. How could he stop loving her when she told him every day how much she loved him?
It wasn't right. Now is mother was selling all of Sarah's things, all except the old toys that were now in his room.
Sarah was in her very empty room, crying again. Toby picked up the old stuffed bear Lancelot and trotted into Sarah's room and climbed up on her bed.
"Don't cry Sawah. Here, Rancerot make it better." He said handing Sarah the bear.
"Oh Toby sweetheart, thank you. But Lancelot is yours now; I gave him to you a long time ago. It's all right. I'll be okay." Sarah said sniffling and kissing Toby's brow.
"You're such a good boy Toby. Don't ever change." She said softly, sending Toby back to his room.
Sarah sighed, wiped her eyes, steeled her resolve and a melancholy resignation settled onto her shoulders. She washed her face, got changed and headed to work at the old bookstore downtown. At least there she could lose her worry in work. Smell the wonderful scent of very old books, read stories of Princesses and Kings who had happily ever after to look forward to and forget for a few hours how her own life was anything but happily ever after. She didn't know how much more she could take. Karen wanted to talk about rent; she didn't know how she was going to pay. She already gave Mr. and Mrs. Williams every cent she made working at the bookstore. On Friday afternoon, every week, she came home with her paycheck, endorsed the back, and handed the entire check to Karen.
If that wasn't enough for rent, she didn't know how she was going to make more. Unless she quit high school and got a second job to pay for it and she was so close to graduating now. Just seven more months, it was December; she just had to make it to June. She'd turn eighteen in June too. It would all come to a head then.
After that, Sarah had no idea what she was going to do. College was out of the question, she'd never afford it and things like food, rent and other daily necessities. Life she had learned was anything but fair.
Toby wandered back into his room despondent. He hated when Sarah cried and he knew who was to blame, his parents. He heard them talking, they thought he didn't understand. He didn't understand most of it; words like bastard, slut and whore were lost on him. He did understand that his dad was angry with a wife that was dead. A wife he had before mommy. Sarah's mommy was whom his daddy was mad at. He heard things like "Sue Linda's estate for restitution." Whatever that meant and "I can't stand to even look at her, all I see is that bitch." Which Toby partially understood. Daddy got so angry when he looked at Sarah. Toby couldn't understand what Sarah had done to make daddy so mad. Sarah was always good.
The three year old sighed as he flopped into the pile of stuffed toys in his room. Toys that had been in Sarah's room earlier that morning. Toys Toby didn't want since it made Sarah cry. Toby had tried to make her stop crying, but he guessed he was too little to help. Mommy was always saying things like "When you're older you'll understand." Maybe that meant it took someone older to fix whatever it was that hurt Sarah all the time.
"I wish a grown-up who isn't mad at Sarah would come and make Sarah happy again." Toby sighed and from a Library deep underground a sound of unfettered joy was shouted.
"Toby I could kiss you my lad!" Jareth crowed as he appeared in Toby's room. The toddler looked up with wide eyes.
"Wow! You poofed! Do it again!" Toby squealed in delight as a pretty nifty looking grown-up in weird clothes and wild hair just appeared in his bedroom.
Jareth chuckled and squatted down and pressed his finger on the tot's nose. "Perhaps in a moment my lad. You are growing well indeed young Toby. I always knew you would. I thank you for calling me, I have been wanting to help your sister for a very long time but the stubborn girl won't make wishes. Thank you for making one." Jareth said and Toby smiled.
"Sarah's sad." Toby said and Jareth nodded.
"I know lad. I know. Now at least I can come and go at will, since your wish was nicely vague and help her where I can. Never you fear, I will make her happy again. I promise." Jareth said and in a shower of glitter and fairy dust he vanished.
"SO COOOOOOL!" Toby said in awe as the strange, wild looking man disappeared.
Jareth didn't go far, in fact he just materialized in Sarah's park she loved so much. He called his goblins to him. "I want you all to track down the items Sarah had taken from her. Find all of her possessions, do not break, drool or chew on anything. Wash your hands and damage nothing. Handle them with great care unless you care to be tipped head first into the Bog of Eternal Stench and take them back to the castle and place them in my chambers. Do not miss a single item is that clear?"
The Goblins made it clear they understood and then vanished in all directions on a scavenger hunt for items that smelled of the Lady Sarah. Jareth smiled and his attire morphed. Gone was the raiment of the Goblin King and replaced by garments suitable for a dapper mortal gentleman dressed for a casual day. Dark charcoal slacks with sleek Italian leather loafers. A deep crimson red sweater with a black turtle neck underneath and topped with a stylish and supple dress leather jacket and gloves in black. His hair tamed and pulled back into a black band at the nape of his neck. He looked dashingly handsome and like a modern day mortal king. There was only so much he was willing to concede after all to blend in with the mortals. He walked casually down the street, his mood lighter than it had been in years. It was time to begin making his love happy. He was going to do it right this time. No games, no damn rules, nothing would impede the wooing of his lady properly. She was no longer too young to keep, too young to understand what he offered. This time the offer would not come at the cost of her brother. He had hated the rules of the game, he knew Sarah would not and could not accept. He'd have not loved her had she forsaken her brother for her own desires. Her refusal only served to make him love her all the more. Her strength of character was noble, she was a queen in spirit and he had every intention of making her a queen in name too.
Then he'd rub Karen's face in it with sadistic glee. He'd watch that vile woman choke on her own avarice and enjoy every single minute of it. She'd pay for every tear Sarah has shed. No Jareth was no saint and he would take perverse pleasure in teaching that woman a lesson in humility. He'd take her son from her too if he could, Toby was better off with Sarah anyway. She was more the child's mother than his own. All it would take was a wish and he was fairly sure Toby could wish himself away with little encouragement. But that was for later, first it was time to reinstate himself into Sarah's life and hope she remembered enough to be drawn to him but not enough to fear him. That Jareth was gladly left behind in the game. It was time she saw the man who loved her and not the Goblin King in all his dreadful glory for a change. No masks, no games, and no rules, Just a man and woman coming together under the same stars.
The little bookstore was nestled in a row of quaint little shops down old Main Street. The Victorian buildings side by side down the old cobblestone road. The bell on the door chimed as Jareth came in from the cold. Sarah was up on a ladder, replacing books on the higher shelves. She was more beautiful than he remembered. She took his breath away every time he looked at her. Her hair a rich chestnut fell long and straight down her back, it was even longer than before and brushed her waist. One side was pulled back in a simple clip to keep it from falling into her eyes, the same clip she had worn in his labyrinth. The same style, just longer, richer, and lovelier. Her body, not much taller, but far more shapelier. Gone was the gangly girl just beginning to blossom into womanhood, now a fully formed, beautiful woman had taken her place. Her Hips were round and firm, a waist narrow and delicate and her breasts, full and ripe and Jareth's hands twitched. He was definitely no saint and his hands itched to grab this creature and show her he meant business, intimate, lustful business. Her eyes were still that mesmerizing sage green, but no longer as bright as they once were, full of defiance and spirit. They were dulled from pain she tried valiantly to hide. He'd make them shine again. "I'll be with you in just a moment." She said to Jareth, as she placed the last book away and began her descent down the ladder.
"Take your time Miss. I am in no rush." Jareth replied and he smirked to himself as he watched her shiver in slight recognition of his voice.
She turned to face him when she reached the floor, her eyes sweeping over him, there a flash of recognition, but gone again as quickly as it came. She almost remembered, but not quite, to her it was still just a dream and Jareth resembled a man she thought did not exist.
"How may I help you sir?" She asked politely moving back behind her counter, to her safety zone.
"I hear you have quite the section on mythology and lore. I admit I am quite interested in that sort of subject matter. Particularly books pertaining to the lesser creatures of fae. Goblins, hobgoblins, sprites and the like. Do you have anything you might recommend?" Jareth asked and he watched the glimmer in her eyes. Wariness coupled with her insatiable curiosity, he had piqued her interest despite her misgivings in his appearance.
"A subject I like too. Here, follow me." Sarah said smiling and leading him to the back corner of the shop where she began pulling books off the shelf and setting them on a nearby table for his inspection. He feigned interest just to keep her near. She smelled like white lilies and pears. Her soap was as fresh as she was. He was about to drown in his own drool if he wasn't careful.
"You are impressive. You know your lore young woman." He complimented as he inspected the books.
"It is a passion of mine. When I was younger I used to pretend to be every heroine in every book I read. My favorite was a little script called the Labyrinth. It was about a girl and a Goblin King. Oh I used to dream he was real and that book sparked my love of all things fantastical. I'm still that little dreamer at heart I suppose. In fantasy you can escape the mundane and dream. If just for a few minutes before bed, the world can be full of magic in a book." She said and Jareth smiled at her.
"Indeed. But who's to say magic is only in books? Who's to say your Goblin King isn't real? In every legend there is at least a basis in fact, however small. There is always a kernel of truth in myth." Jareth said and Sarah smiled wistfully at him.
"I used to think so." Sarah said sadly and Jareth looked deeply into her eyes.
"What changed your mind?" He asked, knowing the answer but needing her to voice it aloud.
"Life. Real life. There is no magic, no knights in shining armor, no dragons and no waking up from enchanted sleeping with a kisses from princes. No matter how much we want those things in life, they are sadly and disappointingly only wishful dreams. In dreams we find our happily ever after, in reality the rent needs to be paid, your life is a sham and it will always rain when you are stuck outside without an umbrella." Sarah sighed and Jareth frowned.
"What if I could show you differently?" Jareth asked and Sarah let out a dejected half-laugh, half-sigh.
"I'd say you were delusional." Sarah replied and Jareth smirked.
"I've been called that a time or two, among other things not so benign. My name is Jareth… King." He held out his hand and Sarah took it in hers.
"Sarah Williams." She supplied her own name expecting Jareth to shake her hand, instead, like a gentlemen from a lost age he laid a gentle kiss to the back side of her finger tips.
"A pleasure Miss Williams." He purred and his kiss sent a shiver down her spine in a very nice way. Men just didn't behave like this anymore. Like, well, gentlemen. This man was oozing refinement from every pore. He intrigued her; he made the little devilish part inside of her stand up and take notice. This was no bumbling boy, but a devastatingly handsome, dapper, and refined gentleman eyeing her as if she was a filet mignon cooked to perfection and he was hungry. Very hungry.
His eyes were intense and fascinating. She could swear she'd seen them before, but could not place where. His right eye was a crystal clear blue, but his left, it was odd. The pupil was wide open, completely dilated, and transfixed. The iris around the strange pupil looked several shades darker blue than the other.
"I hate to sound rude. But may I ask what happened to your eye?" Sarah couldn't believe she just blurted out a question like that. Jareth for his part only chuckled.
"Nothing so fantastic as magic I am afraid. Quite mundane actually, I managed to fall and hit my eye at just the right angle as a boy being reckless as most children are prone to be. It is but an old injury, nothing more. I very nearly lost my eye and now the pupil no longer contracts. The color is an optical illusion because of it; my eyes are not actually two different colors. It just appears to be so." Jareth said and it amused him. No one ever dared asking, his eyes frightened people, and it was refreshing to point out a mundane flaw once in a while. It figured Sarah would be the one bold enough to ask.
"That must have hurt." She shivered and so did Jareth.
"For weeks. But I am thankful I can still see with it, for the first two weeks they thought I had permanently blinded myself." Jareth said and that was no small matter. Even though he was Sidhe and practically immortal for all intents and purposes his race could still be injured and maimed. Particularly where iron was concerned and that was the foul metal that nearly cost him his eye. He was playing where he should not have been, slipped, fell and caught his eye on a mortal's sword hilt. Had it been the blade it would have killed him. The poor knight had been beside himself as he carried the child to a healer. He was one of the few mortals who served the Seelie Court and he had thrown that beautiful sword in the river after what it had done to the child in his protection. From then on he carried naught but silver to protect the young Prince. That had been a very long time ago.
"Your mother must have been worried. I can't imagine how dreadful that must have been. My little brother once fell down the stairs when he was learning to walk and had two black eyes and I thought I was going to fly apart at the seams and he's only my brother." Sarah said and Jareth smiled at her.
"Son or brother a maternal instinct is inherent in most women. My mother was indeed first terrified and then became the she beastie Cerberus from Hades as she scolded me for being where I was told not to be in the first place." Jareth grinned and Sarah laughed.
"I can imagine." Sarah chuckled as the bell rang for a new customer and she excused herself to wait on them, leaving Jareth to look over her selections for him.
"Small steps old man, she's receptive, don't blow it." Jareth muttered to himself picking up all of the books and heading to the cash register.
"I'll take all of these to start I think, all wonderful choices Miss Williams." He said laying the books at the counter.
"It's just Sarah." She smiled as she rang up his purchases. Jareth produced the required cash, from a previously non-existing wallet and collected his bag.
"Sarah. I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and would love to talk further on subject with you, perhaps over dinner sometime?" He asked and Sarah's eyes widened.
"Are you asking me on a date?" She asked dumbfounded. No one had ever asked her on a date, let alone dashing and sexy decidedly older men in expensive Italian leather. He was at least ten years older than she was, he had to be in his late twenties if not thirties, and she was just some teenage girl working part time in a bookstore. Jail bait really for him, at least for the next seven months.
"I am, if you are agreeable. Just dinner and more stimulating debate on the fantastical." He said and Sarah swallowed, oh how she wanted to accept, but could not.
"I'd really love to Mr. King. But I'm afraid I can't. I have obligations. I work here every day after school until nine and then I babysit my brother on weekends. I'm sorry, I really would like to, but can't." Sarah said and Jareth smiled.
"I understand. How about a compromise then? Does your employer object to you having dinner while you are a prisoner here? Say I bring dinner with me and we can discuss magic over dinner at yon back table?" Jareth asked and Sarah smiled.
"I eat dinner there every night, no he won't mind and that sounds wonderful." Sarah said not mentioning her dinner consisted of a pot of ramen noodles every night and Jareth once again took her hand and kissed her fingers as he bowed over her hand.
"Then it is, as you so call it, a date fair maiden. Until tomorrow, precisely at seven I shall be here with your dinner and a topic of conversation." Jareth said before quitting the shop, a spring in his step.
"Wow. Talk about how to get a girl swooning! They certainly don't make gentlemen like you anymore. I could have sworn I've seen him before. Jareth… Jareth King? Why is that name so familiar?" Sarah thought silently and then laughed at herself and nearly danced her way throughout the rest of her shift.
(to be continued....)