Repercussions

When one turns the world upside down

By

Paisley Rose

*

Obligatory Disclaimer

(Yeah I know, but we need to keep it legal)

I don't own the Labyrinth

Nor do I own its inhabitants

I receive no payment in the way of legal tender for this work

I receive only the blessings of a grateful King

*

End of silly disclaimer

If you want the legal jargon

You must visit the Goblin Legal Department…

*I wouldn't do that if I were you.*

*Words of the prologue come from the novelization by*

A.C. Smith

*With corrections and additions by moi*

Prologue

Jareth stepped out from what was left of a shadowy archway, wearing what at first appeared to be a faded, threadbare cloak. As he came into the light it was discernable that the cloak was actually more like feathers than material. His entire outfit was in tones of grays and soft browns, the color of his owl- self. His face looked older, drawn. In his blond mane was a trace of gray. How long had she been here? She detected no change in herself. Jareth was waiting for her with his arms down at his side, flaccid. She advanced upon him. "Give me the child," she said in a commanding voice.

He paused before answering. "Sarah -- beware. I have been generous until now, but I can be cruel." His voice was weary and his nerves were fraying.

"Generous!" She advanced another step her tone mocked him. "What have you done that was generous?"

"Everything," he exclaimed bitterly. "I have done everything you wanted."It had sounded better in his head, having spoken it, it sounded like an accusation. He took a pace back, into the shadow of the archway Sarah followed. "You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me. I was frightening." Taking what appeared to be another step away from her, he gestured in the air. "I have reordered time," he told her. The thirteen-hour clock had appeared, floating above his head. Its hands were whirling around. "I have turned the world upside down." Sarah continued to advance upon him, her arms outreached. He retreated deeper into the shadows; again she followed in the strange steps that mirrored a dance in reverse. "And I have done it all for you," he said with a shake of his head. "I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn't that generous? Stay back!" He raised his hands as though to fend her off and took another pace away from her. In a louder voice, he repeated, "Stay back!"

Sarah's lips were parted, the memory of the last passages of the book were all she could think of. "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City --" Jareth was retreating step by step up a staircase behind the archway. Sarah continued to advance, into the archway. "-- to take back the child you have stolen," she repeated. "For my will is as strong as yours --"

"Stop!" Jareth raised the palm of his hand to her. "Wait! Sarah, look -- look what I can offer you." He raised his left arm and made a large gesture with his hand. A glowing crystal ball appeared in it. He spun it around in his fingers, smiled wanly, and said, "It will show you your dreams, remember."

Sarah took another step. "-- and my kingdom as great --"

Chapter 1.

Outside, in the tree that stood majestically beside that side of the house, hidden eyes watched with amusement and feral pleasure. With the lush abundance of greenery in the trees, no one in the house or on the street could have seen the hidden creature observing the girl. The white owl had been perched with his claws hooked on a branch, an effigy of watching and waiting. Now he swooped away over the park, on silent velvet wings, up toward the full moon. Nobody saw him, white in the moonlight, black against the stars.

Time and space mean little to one who lives beyond their reach. Into the halo glow of the moon he flew, and then out the other side. Below him was the Labyrinth, with its twisting walls, and lush forest. Mandala like intricacies, complex waterways, stone and hedge mazes and at its center the forbidding towers of the Goblin Castle beyond the Goblin City. On silent wings the great white barn owl soared loving the view of the vast magical wondrous residence, his home, his kingdom…his Labyrinth. It's beautiful and terrible and its home. The great white owl majestically turns in the air and heads for the open window of the highest room in the tallest tower. Once inside he transformed back into his humanoid Fae form, that of Jareth the Goblin King.

The throne room was now empty as most any who could were on the mortal plane celebrating with … that girl. Jareth moved toward the throne intending upon taking a seat. The quite of the chamber caused his steps to echo loudly. Jareth sulked as he took his seat, bitterly he looked about himself. The mess left behind by his subjects, the years of tarnish that crusted on the chamber walls, the chaos and disorder he'd allowed now filled him with loathing.

"So the mighty King is not so mighty after all," a grating voice broke the silence.

Jareth turned to see one of the beings who populated the junkyard outside the Goblin City. Her grimy face and hands were visible under a pile of objects that was her burden to carry. "What do you want Agnes," he asked impatiently.

She snickered, "Outsmarted you did she?" Jareth glared at the woman who only ambled into the chamber, her great pack shaking as if it would burst and fall into the already disarrayed room. "Not so easy to trick, eh?"

"If you've come to gloat," Jareth hissed through clenched teeth, "You will find me in a very unreceptive mood."

Hunkering down, she gazed at him with big eyes and shook her head, "I've no reason to gloat," she confessed. "The little girl escaped me as well." She narrowed her gaze, "I've come to see what you're going to do about it."

"Do," he asked with annoyance.

Nodding the hag with the pack waved one long bony finger toward him, "Yes, what are you going to do to right this?"

Jareth understood the vile creature's desire for retribution and a settling of scores. In the long history of the Labyrinth no one had ever reached its center, no one had ever escaped. Frustrated and exhausted, the weary King leaned back into his throne. "I don't know Aggie… I have no idea of how to right this."

"Stop feeling sorry for your-self," she barked at the King, still waving her finger at him, now more threateningly. "This is your fault! You let her get away, you sent her help… you oh mighty Goblin King protected her every step of her way!"

"What if I did," he demanded. "I am King! I can be generous…" the words were like gall in his throat.

"Generous," spat the hag, "You were played like a harp!"

Fire now burned in the centers of the stormy slightly mismatched eyes, "You dare speak to me this way?"

Agnes growled right back, "You turned our world upside down to please you dolly girl… and you lost not one, but two mortals! You must right this, or we will all suffer the consequences."

"I didn't lose them," Jareth said coldly.

"Are they here?"

The Goblin King smirked, "No, they are not."

The smirk and the fire in his eyes alerted the hag, "You're up to something, aren't you?"

"You know me so well, Aggie…" he purred darkly.

"Oh it's going to be wicked," she said in delight.

Jareth's face still seemed pained, "Allow me my few moments of self pity Aggie, it's the least you can do…" he looked at her with contempt, of all the creatures that inhabited his kingdom he wondered why it was this hag was the one who came to him now. "I have no intentions of allowing that~ girl to escape having to make payment."

Long grimy fingers scratched the grimy chin, "Self pity is not as satisfying as payback." She observed.

"Perhaps not," he agreed, "But it is motivating."

Still hunkering on the floor of the throne room, the creature cackled, "Is it now, so what evil do you have planned?"

Jareth looked at the hag for a moment before he spoke, "I want to ask you something," he told her coldly.

"I got nothing to hide," she answered waspishly. "Ask away."

"What is the best way to hurt a woman," he demanded.

"Depends on the woman and what she needs," Agnes cackled.

"Thank you," Jareth said with an evil grin that was now mirrored on the face of the hag. "She thinks she's changed, but I think her change needs something more… something that cannot be seen, it can only be~ experienced." He stood up, and walked gracefully toward the niche leading to the stairs to his puzzle room. "Leave me Agnes, I've work to do." Powerfully he strode away, not bothering to look back at the hag.

It had only been a few short hours since he'd seen the girl take her leap of faith. He had thought that the room would protect his interests and was shocked when it had not. "You failed me," he said aloud accusing the room. The floating bits and pieces shuddered, "You can however atone," He kept his manner munificent and reasoning, holding out his hand he used the powers that only he had to seek out and find the orb he'd tossed to the boy. It rose from a place hidden in the rubble and returned to his hands. "Return to your former outward appearance, restore this structure." He commanded before exiting the chamber with his prize. His back to the Escher Room, he held the orb eyelevel and whispered, "Reveal."

In the perfectly round crystal sphere an image formed, that of a golden haired boy sleeping softly. The image shifted to a room where a girl was saying good night to her goblin guests. Jareth smirked, "Round two precious," he crooned. "Prepare to lose far more than you think you won." He chuckled darkly, ominously, "I hope you're as gracious a loser as you are a winner…" He tossed the orb up and it vanished. The halls of the goblin castle echoed with the laughter.

--

It had started six months after the fateful night she'd wished Toby away, and spent eleven of thirteen hours going through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, fought her way to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that was… stolen. Even now, six months later that word still gave her trouble, stolen, not just trouble, but tons of guilt. She wanted to place all the blame for everything that happened on the goblins and their King. But in truth she couldn't, but she was not quite ready to shoulder her portion of blame. It would have to be enough right now that she was open to change, and that the journey had started the change. Sarah had turned around her life, had stopped living in the me and became part of the we. The 'we' being her family. That one small change had triggered changes in all areas of her life. Most of all in her social life, for Sarah Williams had a reputation of being a loner up until then. Perhaps that was not entirely Sarah's fault, but it was the reputation she'd developed. After her journey, her loner days were coming to a swift end.

Being the daughter of a famous actress had its drawbacks. Sarah had quickly learned that when she was only ten and her mother had opted out of her marriage contract for the floodlights and the roar of the greasepaint. Far too often she'd found in those early years people tried to befriend her in order to get to her mother… Sarah learned to be a loner. However after her journey in the Labyrinth, she found she needed friends. Learning to use the skills she'd honed in that journey gave her the means to make friends in her own world. She was surprised at how quickly the olive branch she'd held out was accepted. At first it was mostly the girls in her class who accepted her, and most of them were girls that Sarah had grown up with. It was as if all the hurts on both sides were forgiven and forgotten, as if they'd never existed. Then one by one the young men in her class started to come round. At first in groups, and then some of the young men came by one at a time, seeking Sarah's company.

She was still only a sophomore, and dating was only allowed by her father if they went out as a group. Her first dates were movie dates, six couples and they walked. Her first steady boyfriend was Jason Richards, who was in gymnastics. He was tall, lean and very flexible, with sandy brown hair, and big blue eyes. Jason had a quick smile, almost a smart aleck smirk. He was very popular and a natural leader. He was also completely into himself. He and Sarah had been dating for only a month when he suddenly broke it off complaining that Sarah was not supportive enough.

*Sarah's recurring nightmare*

Jareth stepped out from what was left of a shadowy archway, wearing what at first appeared to be a faded, threadbare cloak. As he came into the light it was discernable that the cloak was actually more like feathers than material. His entire outfit was in tones of grays and soft browns, the color of his owl- self. His face looked older, drawn. In his blond mane was a trace of gray. How long had she been here? She detected no change in herself. Jareth was waiting for her with his arms down at his side, flaccid. She advanced upon him. "Give me the child," she said in a commanding voice.

He paused before answering. "Sarah -- beware. I have been generous until now, but I can be cruel." His voice was weary and his nerves were fraying.

"Generous!" She advanced another step her tone mocked him. "What have you done that was generous?"

"Everything," he exclaimed bitterly. "I have done everything you wanted."It had sounded better in his head, having spoken it, it sounded like an accusation. He took a pace back, into the shadow of the archway Sarah followed. "You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me. I was frightening." Taking what appeared to be another step away from her, he gestured in the air. "I have reordered time," he told her. The thirteen-hour clock had appeared, floating above his head. Its hands were whirling around. "I have turned the world upside down." Sarah continued to advance upon him, her arms outreached. He retreated deeper into the shadows; again she followed in the strange steps that mirrored a dance in reverse. "And I have done it all for you," he said with a shake of his head. "I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn't that generous? Stay back!" He raised his hands as though to fend her off and took another pace away from her. In a louder voice, he repeated, "Stay back!"

Sarah's lips were parted, the memory of the last passages of the book were all she could think of. "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City --" Jareth was retreating step by step up a staircase behind the archway. Sarah continued to advance, into the archway. "-- to take back the child you have stolen," she repeated. "For my will is as strong as yours --"

"Stop!" Jareth raised the palm of his hand to her. "Wait! Sarah, look -- look what I can offer you." He raised his left arm and made a large gesture with his hand. A glowing crystal ball appeared in it. He spun it around in his fingers, smiled wanly, and said, "It will show you your dreams, remember."

Sarah took another step. "-- and my kingdom as great --"

Sarah had awoken from the nightmare, beaded in sweat and heart racing, the roar of blood pounding in her ears. It had frightened the willies out of her. Not since that fateful night had she given much thought to the Goblin King. She'd put him out of her mind, or at least as far back in her memory as she could. Now six months later he was popping up in her dreams and making her feel…. What… guilty? Each time she closed her eyes, and tried to sleep the dream would start up again, and she'd awake with a start. When the winter sun rose, Sarah looked as if she'd been through a battle.

Jason was at her locker when she arrived at school, the look on his face told he something was upsetting him. "Where have you been," he barked at her. "Did you forget this morning's practice? You promised you'd be there!"

"I'm sorry," Sarah said, still burry eyed and tired from the lack of sleep. "I had a bad night… must have eaten something, that didn't agree with me." She removed her heavy winter jacket and hung it in the locker.

Impatiently he listened to her, and exasperated he scolded her, "Sarah I need your support not excuses. Why can't you keep focused?" He stormed off to his classes but called over his shoulder, "The meet is this afternoon, make sure you're there! This is the last meet before the winter break, Sarah. I need you there!"

Sarah had exerted an effort and made it to the gymnasium with ten minutes to spare. She would have much rather gone straight home and to bed, but she put in the extra effort to be supportive. Jason had been right, this was the last meet before break, and most likely the last chance for her to see him before his parents winged off to the Bahamas as they did every winter to spend Christmas in the sun. He had informed her after their first date that he'd be out of the country during the holidays and didn't expect her to buy him a gift… unless she really wanted to. She had taken the hint, and had gotten him a little something, but in her dazed state had forgotten to bring the gift to school with her. With just two days left of the semester, there was much to do, and she and Jason didn't share any classes.

Upon arriving at the gym she saw Jason surrounded by the usual hanger-ons. Girls who gushed over how talented and amazing he was, and he was lapping it up and showing off a bit more than usual. Not wanting to interrupt his admires, Sarah took a seat in the bleachers, in her usual place. From where she sat she could tell that Jason had not missed her presence, not while all the girls were there fawning over him. If he'd noticed her entry, he'd pointedly ignored it. In the back of her mind, she felt the end coming, fast and furious. She could see it coming, like a train wreck, but somehow couldn't find a means to stop it.

"He's such a prick," a darkly breathy female voice said sarcastically.

Sarah turned to see the speaker, shocked that someone was speaking against Jason. She didn't recognize the girl who owned the voice. She was a stranger to Sarah, and she cleared her throat before she asked, "Are you speaking about Jason?" The stranger couldn't have been any older than she herself, but was dressed in dark clothes, and wore very dark makeup on her eyes, lips and very long nails. Her skin was pale to the point of being almost translucent, framed by raven colored tresses in a free styled short hair cut it looked almost white. Sarah thought for a moment that the girl was wearing kabuki makeup but saw upon closer inspection that she was just incredibly pale. She was seated languorously on the bleachers and looked entirely out of place in the brightly lit gym.

The girl looked at Sarah; her eyes were like jeweled kaleidoscopes. Brilliant greens and golds, and full of contempt and scorn for the boy she'd been looking at. The dark makeup surrounding the eyes only made them seem more exotic and alluring. The girl was mysteriously enchanting, and Sarah could not take her eyes off the face that seemed so hostile to Jason. Yet insistently the jeweled changed when she looked at Sarah, becoming warm while still challenging, "Is that his name?"

"Yes," Sarah said nodding, "He's my boyfriend." Her voice sounded embarrassed at the admission, and she felt her cheeks flush.

The dark haired minx of a girl raised one very delicately arched brow, "Really?" Turning her head to look at the boy surrounded by groupies, lapping up the attention and flirting outrageously in return; she chuckled wickedly. "Doesn't look like it from here, toots."

Sarah smoothed the skirt she was wearing and tired to ignore the other girl. But she too had noticed that Jason was all into the attention, and was pointedly ignoring Sarah. "He's very popular," Sarah said defensively.

"Oh I can see that," the other answered, her voice still dripping with sarcasm. "It's why I don't get." She looked at Sarah and scooted over just a bit closer, and offered her hand, "I'm Anne, Anne Archy, and you?"

Sarah stared at the offered hand, but accepted it at last, "Sarah Williams."

Anne released her hand after a gentle shake, "Nice to meet you," she said pleasantly enough. "I just moved to this… boo foo town." Leaning forward she rested her elbows on her knees. Like a hawk she allowed her eyes to do a sweep of the bleachers.

"I've lived here all my life," Sarah said quietly.

"And yet you're not like the rest of these… mundanes." Anne sighed. "You've got…" she sighed deeply as she looked at Sarah through dark lashes her voice dropping an octave, "Quality."

"Mundanes," murmured Sarah feeling a cold shiver go down her spine as the other girl looked at her, "Where are you from," she asked trying to change the subject, uncomfortable with the stranger's scrutiny. The scrutiny reminded her of what she'd seen in mismatched storm at sea blue eyes.

"You name it," Anne said leaning back now, resting her elbows on the bleachers behind them. "I've been there."

"Your dad was in the service," Sarah asked making the assumption this must be another service brat. Upper Nyack seemed to have attracted a good many retiring colonels and generals.

"Nope," Anne said curtly, "Pop was diplomatic core." Her tone said she didn't really think that was interesting at all. "Not an ambassador or anything spectacular like that… he's been an attaché, one of the little people who keep all the facts and figures so the diplomats don't sound too much like morons or idiots. Now he's going to write his memories or some such nonsense. " She looked over at Sarah, "What's yours do?"

"Daddy is a lawyer," Sarah said turning back to see if Jason's turn had come up.

"You look familiar," Anne ventured. "There's an actress~ Linda Williams~ any relation?"

"My mother," admitted Sarah embarrassed. "They're divorced; I live here with my dad and his second wife. I see Mom whenever she's in the country, and I've gotten to see her on Broadway."

"Cool," purred the other. "My mom is a chemist, that's so… square." She pointed a dark nailed finger toward the gym floor and the vaulting horse, "Looks like your boyfriend is coming up."

Sarah turned her attention to the floor, "I hope he does well." She said quietly. "We need top scores today to stay in the running for the championships." Watching Jason perform effortlessly, she knew he was going to have top scores, again. She could feel Anne's gaze on her and tried not to let it distract her. If Jason looked up and found her not watching, he'd be pissed. The last thing Sarah needed or wanted was Jason pissed. He looked up to where he knew she'd be and his face was arrogantly smirking as he waved to her. He then gave a wink to a group of girls shouting his name and strutted over to them.

"What a prick," Anne repeated with disgust. "Is he stuck up too?"

"A bit," Sarah admitted before she could stop herself. "I shouldn't have said that."

"Don't worry toots," Anne crossed her arms before she looked at the other, and wiggled her long fingers rather dramatically, "It'll be our little secret." She looked about the gym and huffed, "How long do these things go on, I'm dying for a smoke?"

"Another hour," Sarah said feeling like she too could not wait to get out of there.

"Bummer," huffed Anne as she leaned back again.

Sarah cleared her throat and asked politely, "This does not seem to be entertaining you, so why are you here?"

Lazily Anne smiled and tilted her head to look at Sarah, "Parental units insist that I join in~ get to know the other students, become a member of the local society. As if!" She snickered, "You're right this is not my scene. I'd rather be in the art studio creating something obnoxious. What happens after?"

"Celebration at the A&W on route six if we win," Sarah looked at the new girl, "Would you like to come?"

Pointing toward the young man getting ready to do his parallel bar routine, Anne glowered. "You think he'd mind?"

"I doubt he'd notice one more person," Sarah thought about the crowd at the A&W, she knew most of the boys would be talking about the meet, and the girls, well they never seemed to have much to say that interested her. "It would be nice to have some new~ perspective." She said at last.

Anne studied Sarah and then said coyly, "Oh, you're a little trouble maker… I think I'm gonna like it here."

A little over an hour later the victors of the meet gathered at the A&W, huddled into the largest booth the little shop had. In the booths on either side were the girlfriends and supporters. Sarah and Anne entered and moved to the booth, "Jason," Sarah greeted him, "This is Anne, she just moved here~ Anne, Jason."

Anne smiled wanly at the boy, "Nice win hotshot." She said without being overly fawning.

"Thanks," he said dismissively before returning to his conversation with his team mates.

Sarah slid into the booth behind him, Anne slid in as well. They ordered drinks along with the rest of the girl friends, all of whom were looking peeved at being ignored. The conversation at the girls table was in short supply, and Anne watched each of them like a hawk. Sarah looked at the clock on the wall of the teen hot spot and announced she had to get home. Jason didn't even take notice of their walking out.

Anne placed a hand on her sleeve outside, "Which way you live?" she asked. Sarah pointed and Anne seemed pleased, "Great, I'll walk with ya, I'm that way myself."

Sarah had not given much thought to where Anne lived, "What house?"

"It used to be called the Owens place, its way out near the outskirts of town," Anne said keeping step with her new friend. "Do you know it?"

"Everyone knows the Owens place," Sarah assured her, "My father represented the estate when old man Owens passed. Your father must have paid a fortune for it, it's got history!"

"It's a drafty old barn if you ask me," teased Anne, "But it's a palace compared to some of the places I've been." She looked about the streets they walked, "its home now, you should come over sometime and tell me the history of the house. I'll show you the artist loft the parental units put in for me."

Sarah had not answered, she was thinking about the way Jason had behaved. They had walked nearly three blocks when she suddenly said, "He's not always like that."

"Its okay toots," Anne told her sympathetically. "Boys are boys all over the world… you should see the smucks they raise in Russia!"

Sarah snorted and her smile returned, "Smucks?"

"Yeah, don't you just love Yiddish slang," Anne said reaching into her pocket and pulling out a packet of smokes, "Want one?" She offered the open pack to Sarah.

"I don't smoke," Sarah announced softly shaking her head.

"I do," Anne took one out, lit it and took a long drag. "I've been dying for one of these all day!"

"Do you parents know you smoke," Sarah looked about, wondering if someone would object.

"Sure they know," Anne said breezily. She held the cigarette in her fingers and looked at it soberly, "I don't hide things from the parental units…Although I'll bet they wished I did."

"But you're only… fifteen," Sarah objected.

"Well, I'll be sixteen in a few days," Anne found Sarah's concern charming. "Things are a bit different on the continent toots."

"This is not the continent, this is Upper Nyack," Sarah warned, looking about to make sure no one was about. "Girls of fifteen don't smoke here…"

"Want ta bet," challenged Anne before she snubbed out the butt of her smoke with the tip of her cha-cha boot. "Don't get your panties in a bunch," she said gently. "And don't frown, it makes lines…"

Sarah closed her eyes, took a deep breath and shook her head, "You're impossible."

"Jealous?"

Sarah opened her eyes and smiled, "Maybe a little."

Anne slung an arm over Sarah's shoulder, "Toots, I think we're gonna be best friends! You'll be a good influence on me, and I'll corrupt you." They continued to walk home. Anne left Sarah in front of her door and walked on the three blocks to her house.

Karen was on the porch when Sarah arrived, "Who was that," she asked watching as the raven haired girl moved on.

"New girl at school," Sarah also watched the movement of her new acquaintance. "Her name is Anne."

"She's…" Karen sought words to describe the odd young lady.

"A bit odd," suggested Sarah nodding. "But she's really very nice, her dad was in the diplomatic core."

"Oh," Karen looked at her stepdaughter, "How was the gym meet?"

"We won," her bored tone told the woman not to ask for more.

"Dinner is almost ready," her stepmother sighed, "Soon as your father arrives I'll serve."

--

Conversation that night at the table revolved around the new family in town, Dr. Phinnaeus Archy and his wife, Dr. May Hemm Archy. Robert seemed most impressed with the man and told Karen he'd like to invite the family over to dine soon. Karen mentioned that Sarah had already become acquainted with the daughter, Anne. All talk of the gym meet and victory had been shelved in favor of this new family; a fact that Sarah had found refreshing, as she was bored to tears with the gymnasts, their girlfriends and followers. Sarah's regular girl friends were not part of that crowd, and she was ever so glad. Being Jason's girlfriend could be a bit trying at times.

"So what do you think of the Archy girl," her father asked as Karen cleared the table.

Sarah who was helping clear, paused and gave it a moment's thought before saying, "She's different," she went on to say, "But kind of interesting… in an odd way."

"Odd?" her father's interest was piqued.

Resting her hands on the back of one of the chairs, Sarah leaned, "She dresses in dark clothes, wears really dark makeup and she just says whatever she thinks."

"Ah," Robert put the steam of his pipe in his lips. "She's a bit of a~ beatnik we'd have called her, or perhaps Bohemian… I'm not sure what you young people call it today."

"Radical," Karen offered sarcastically.

"Well," Sarah scratched her head, "I don't think she's a Rad~ more of the British Goth if you ask me, she's just~ different… but you know, I kind of like her." Karen made a face, was going to object but the phone rang and she asked Sarah to answer it. Sarah picked up the phone and heard Jason's voice on the other end asking for her to meet him in half an hour at the park. "It's freezing outside, and I've got homework." she complained.

"This won't take long," Jason promised. "I'll be at the swan pond in half an hour." The line went dead.

Sarah stared at the phone, "Anne's right he's a prick," she muttered thinking of what Anne had called him. "I have to go out for a bit," she told Karen as she brought in the rest of the dishes and stacked them in the dishwasher. "Jason wants me to meet him at the park."

Karen looked at the fading light, "Well don't stay too long," her request was reasonable.

"It's too cold to stay out long," Sarah said gently. "I'll be home soon, and I'm taking the dog, he needs his walk anyway; I'll may as well kill two birds with one stone."

At the park Sarah found she'd arrived first, and she took a seat on one of the benches. It had been a long six months since she'd last been in this glade. She'd stayed far away from it after the fateful night. It didn't make her feel any easier that here she was, once more where she'd played silly make belief games. She was very glad she'd taken Merlin with her. He sat at her feet but seemed guarded. "What's wrong old boy?" she asked as her hand ran over his silky coat. "Smell a cat or a bird?" She felt oddly herself, as if being watched and she looked about to see if anyone were about. "We'll give Jason five minutes more, and then we'll just go." She promised her companion.

Merlin growled lowly and Sarah could see Jason coming down the path, he frowned at the dog, "Did you have to bring that mutt?" he complained. "You know he does not like me!"

"You would prefer I was out walking alone," she asked sounding just as miffed.

Shoving his hands into his pockets Jason looked at her with an expression that was akin to contempt. "Frankly Sarah, I really don't care what you do anymore."

Hurt more by the cold tone than the words, Sarah stared at him. "Jason."

"You're really not a very good girl friend," he continued blandly. "You're not supportive or attentive and I don't see any reason we should continue this façade, do you."

Sarah had been looking at him, but was distracted by the movement up the path behind him, and a girl peering at her from behind the snow covered bushes that didn't really cover her. "Oh… I see…" Sarah glared at him, "Perhaps you'd better run along with your little friend there before she freezes her tomato off in that skimpy outfit." She pointed toward the observer, "Seeing as you've already moved on."

Jason glared at her with darker eyes, "What did you expect?" He turned on his heels and moved toward the girl hiding.

"Prick," Sarah said under her breath, feeling relieved when she had. She looked down at her faithful dog and sighed, "Oh Merlin…" A tone from the tower told her the clock was about to chime. Looking at the spire over the bare trees she frowned, she knew it was far closer to nine, but the clock hands were on seven. "That can't be right," she muttered pulling her coat closer. "Come on Merlin, let's go home."

The white owl had been perched with his claws hooked on a branch, an effigy of watching and waiting. Now he swooped away over the park, on silent velvet wings, up toward the full moon. Nobody saw him, white in the moonlight, black against the stars.