Disclaimer: I, in absolutely no way at all, own any of these characters. Unfortunately. Very unfortunately. It is a pity, I have to admit. J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and all other related characters and I'm not entirely sure who owns Jareth and his related characters.
This is my first attempt at a multi-chaptered fic, so please be nice and tell me what you think in a review. 'Encounters' is a set of different stories with the sort of same plotline.
Harry shivered. He was in his cupboard, dressed in only a t-shirt and a pair of shorts despite it being winter. He could hear Dudley whining about the latest film that was out on video, and that he absolutely had to see 'because everyone else at school has seen it, and surely, mummy, you don't want me to be different and freaky like that freak.' Dudley, at age 7 and a half, although not known for his vocabulary, had quickly learnt that the best way to get his parents to do something for him was to compare himself to Harry so that his parents would immediately get him the latest toy or whatever it was he wanted. It was surprisingly smart for him, Harry thought.
"Boy!" Harry grimaced. Uncle Vernon didn't have to yell; you could hear him from a mile away but for some reason, he liked to bellow. "We're taking Dudley to the cinema! Stay in your cupboard!" Harry rolled his eyes; his uncle seemed to have forgotten he'd locked him in and said loudly back, "Yes, Uncle Vernon."
He heard the door slam, and sat down on the bed whilst letting out a sigh. He hated his life here at his 'home.' Wouldn't it be nice if the Dursleys actually treated him as part of the family? He could have his own clothes, three full meals a day and his own bedroom. He fell back onto his bed and sighed again. Lord knew that was never going to happen.
At some point, he fell asleep and he dozed restlessly, seeing in his dreams a man with messy black hair hugging a red-haired woman, who seemed to be staring at Harry. He felt no feelings of dislike from them, but feelings of love and pride. The couple, his parents, Harry realised, faded away to be replaced by a man with mismatched eyes and untamed blonde hair, also watching him with the same feelings of love and pride which did not diminish although Harry was sure he'd never seen this man before in his life, not even in his dreams. He was awoken suddenly by the slamming of the front door; the Dursleys were back.
He heard the unlocking of his cupboard door, and he sprang up, making it so the Dursleys would not accuse him of being lazy. That usually meant they wouldn't give him the next meal, and he was desperately hungry.
He crept out with Petunia immediately barking orders at him. "Clean the kitchen. And make yourself a sandwich or something; we've already eaten."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia." He shouldn't have to be doing this, Harry thought with sudden venom. He was nearly seven years old, for God's sake.
"Oh, darn it, Vernon, I've left my purse in the restaurant!" Harry heard Aunt Petunia say unhappily from her seat in the living room. "Can you drive me there?"
"Of course, Pet. But what about the children?"
Harry's heart was speeding up; would he be able to go out and visit somewhere, if only for a minute or two?
"We could leave them here, I suppose. Maybe get Mrs Figg to watch them for five minutes or so. I'll ring her and see if it's alright."
Harry's heart slowed down. Stuck indoors with Mrs Figg and her cats. She'd probably try to make the boys guess all the names of her cats. He couldn't hear the exact conversation that Aunt Petunia was having but she sounded quite happy which wasn't a very good sign.
Putting the phone down, Aunt Petunia exhaled noisily. "She's twisted her ankle so she can't come across to look after them but she offered to watch them from the window. It should be alright, surely; we'll only be gone for about five minutes."
"Right you are, Pet." Uncle Vernon said. "Dudley, we'll be out for about five minutes and Mrs Figg will be watching from across the road." There was no answer except for a grunt of acknowledgement from Dudley. "Boy, I'll let you stay out of your cupboard just this once, but if anything bad happens, you're going straight back in there, you hear me!"
"Yes, Uncle Vernon." Harry said with his head down. Inside he was smiling. Perhaps this was the start of a life where he wouldn't be locked inside the cupboard so much. Yeah right, he thought sullenly. The front door slammed shut and Harry stepped into the living room. He was rarely in here since he wasn't allowed to step foot into the room with the television and Aunt Petunia didn't trust him enough to clean the room. He heard footsteps come thundering down the stairs and he sighed quietly. He should have known the peace and quiet wouldn't have lasted long and Harry quickly moved through to the kitchen. Dudley came into the kitchen as well, and pulled some chocolate ice-cream out of the freezer and proceeded to eat it straight from the tub.
"I went to see Labyrinth today." Dudley said conversationally. Harry knew nothing good would come of this; it was never a good sign when Dudley started speaking to him instead of punching him. "It was about these goblins who take wished away people." Dudley now had a predatory look in his eyes and was moving closer and closer to Harry. "Y'know, I want to wish you away and see if it works."
At this, Harry stood upright and hurried towards his cupboard, recognising the signs of Dudley's favourite game: Harry Hunting in which Harry was beaten up. However, Dudley was surprisingly quick on his feet and ran after him.
"I wish the goblins would come and take you away right now!" Dudley yelled, shoving the freak back into the cupboard. Harry's cry of pain as he hit his head on the door jamb suddenly cut off, making Dudley, who had turned back to the kitchen to finish his ice-cream, stop and look round.
"Freak?" he questioned. There was no answer.
Feeling a rage suddenly sweep over him, he spat, "When Mum and Dad get home, you're gonna be in so much trouble!"
Still there came no answer, not even a sob of pain, which Dudley had expected to hear from the freak hitting his head. No sound of movement could be heard, and Dudley's fury abruptly vanished. Inching closer towards the cupboard door, which stood open, he had to gather what little courage he had to even say the next word:
"Ha-Harry?" One more movement would put him in front of the door, and, squeezing his bulk past, he looked in. There was nothing. Oh, there were signs of the freak being there- his bed sheets were crumpled and a row of books could be seen neatly placed next to the other underneath the camp bed. A few pictures precariously hung on the wall, staying up only through the use of sellotape which looked as if it had lost its stickiness years ago. But Harry wasn't there. However, there was one thing different; there lay a white feather on the pillow of the bed, and something inside Dudley called to him to pick it up. Shuffling forward, he looked round, feeling eyes on him, although there was nothing there but still that feeling of uneasiness preyed on Dudley's mind and he quickly grabbed for the feather. The first thought that came to Dudley's mind was that it was very soft but his thinking was interrupted by the voice from behind him.
"Dudley Dursley, I presume."
Said boy spun around, gobsmacked at the figure who had suddenly materialised in front of him. A tall blond man was leaning against the wall opposite the cupboard with a smile on his face that spoke of menace to those who crossed him and eyes that could speak of many dangerous adventures.
"You're him. The Goblin King." Dudley realised. "But you're not real. You can't be real. You're magic and magic doesn't exist. Mum said so."
"Why is it every mortal must ask me who I am when they appear to know the answer?" Jareth remarked to no-one in particular. "But why tell me I am not real when you can so clearly see that is false. Why do you not believe in magic, Dudley Dursley," Jareth said softly. "Why is it that your mother does not believe in magic? When it has proven itself by taking away your cousin to the Goblin Kingdom."
Dudley had to stop and reflect on this. The King had a point.
Jareth continued. "Do you want your cousin back?" At some indiscernible point, he had taken out a crystal ball and was juggling it without ever taking his eyes off Dudley. He was beginning to feel very uncomfortable with these mismatched eyes watching him, seeming to pierce through to his very soul. "You could have this instead of Harry. It gives you your dreams."
Dudley's attention was immediately focused on the orb, and his gaze was flicking between Jareth and the ball.
"And all you have to do is forget your cousin." Jareth spoke, breaking Dudley's thoughts on what he could do with his dreams. Jareth could almost see the cogs turning at a very slow speed.
"If I want my cousin back," Dudley said slowly, "then I have to come with you and run your Labyrinth."
"Yes," Jareth confirmed, "but you don't have to." His tone was silky and almost hypnotic as he continued, juggling the crystal with Dudley's eyes following every movement. "You can take the crystal, take your dreams with it and all I ask is that you forget your cousin, you forget the freak, so that he becomes one of us. You'll never have to worry about him again; your family would never have to worry ever again. You could be completely normal."
Dudley sized the situation up: he could attempt to rescue the freak so that he would keep his favourite punching bag, he wouldn't have to do any chores so long as Harry was there and Harry would be somewhat safe. But, if he was in another world and never came back, he and his family would be completely normal and never have to worry about one of them. Who theywere, he wasn't sure, but from overheard conversations between his parents, they weren't good.
"Vernon, the boy mustn't know. Nor should Dudley. But we have to keep him here. For our safety. Otherwise, they'll turn up here and use their things to make us forget. They can make us forget everything. Or they'll kill us. Lily told me about one of them; he was evil and he took pleasure in killing normal people like us!"
"No, the boy must stay! I don't care if we have to worry about the secret coming out or having attention directed towards us but we need him for our safety."
Vernon agreed, but Dudley could hear the exasperation in his tone, as well as the worry and Dudley, in that moment, absolutely hated his cousin for making them have to depend on him and making his parents worry.
It was this more than anything that made him agree to Jareth's offer. "You can have the freak, but I want the ball."
The sudden gleam in Jareth's eyes made him almost rethink his answer; there were promises of pain and death for any unlucky enough to anger him and there was time enough for Dudley to recognise this and feel almost concerned for Harry, but then Jareth was saying, "Take your dream," and holding the crystal ball out towards Dudley and his worry abated. But had he been watching Jareth's face, he would have noted the malevolence in his smile and the dangerous gleam in his eyes.
However we must not forget that this was Dudley Dursley, whose greed was only outweighed by his physical size, and who grabbed the crystal ball from the hand of the Goblin King before staring into the orb, desperately searching for his dream to become reality. He never noticed the disappearance of the Goblin King and Dudley remained standing and staring, the crystal gripped in his hands until his parents arrived home. Petunia immediately rushed to Dudley, crying how she had hated being separated from her darling Dudders and only realised he hadn't noticed her when he failed to hug back, asking for what they had bought him as a present for going away, even for such a short time. She drew back, with her son staring motionlessly at the crystal and giving no sign that he had even heard her, let alone felt the hug. For what Jareth hadn't said was that Dudley's dreams would only ever be real within the crystal sphere and Dudley's greed was too great to ever want to let go of it.
Author's Note: So what did you think?? A) Good? B) Bad? C) Fantastic D) Awful? or E) You have a similar/another opinion that you'd love to put in a review?
P.S. To be honest, I have no idea where I'm going with this story so if you do like it, say so because I'd like to know whether I need to think about more chapters.
P.P.S. I realise that Dudley wishing Harry away is similar to another story so sorry if you think it's plagiarism but it's not. I have a completely different idea for this one.