Left Between the Stars
A Valentine One Shot
I don't own it
I don't get paid
I don't get… opps.
Characters from Jim Henson's Labyrinth
Belong to Jim Henson
The Labyrith's Goblins
Belong to Jareth the Goblin 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*
And the song "As the world falls down"
By David Bowie
*With corrections and additions by moi*
The ballroom had once long ago known opulence. Between glittering cornices were hung many long chandeliers where the wax, dripping for a hundred years, had formed stalactites. The silk covering of the walls had faded and, in places, worn threadbare. Bubbles of crystal decorated the room, and the whole of it was contained within the iridescent skin of one great bubble. A tall, gilt, thirteen-hour clock stood in a corner. It was almost twelve o'clock.
Sarah watched the dance with confused awe and the dancers watched her from behind their masks. The men sported silken shirts, some open to the waist and tight velvet breeches. Some of them wore wide-brimmed, plumed hats; others had capes and vests or carried staffs. The women's gowns left their shoulders bare and dove low between their breasts leaving little to the imagination. Their hair was coiffed high, and many wore long gloves.
The dancers moved in a strange kind of ring around the ballroom, with lethargic brilliance, as though the party had been going on all night. Men who were not dancing lounged indolently against the columns, or in a cushioned pit in the center of the ballroom, in the company of women. Maids and footmen, with skin the color of old and faded parchment, served them trays of fruit and refilled their goblets from decanters. And always the dancers were watching through the eyeholes in their cruel half-masks, from which snouts projected and horns sprouted above. Moving together or elegantly reclined, they watched Sarah, or watched each other watching, and beneath the masks the mouths smiled at each other like they knew something the girl did not.
Sarah's gown was silvery, the color of moonlight, with sleeves that puffed at the shoulder and then at the elbow gracefully tightened to her wrists. She had a crystal necklace on, and her hair was braided with strings of crystals and sliver vines. Her eyes were opened wide. She was the picture of innocence in that setting, a picture that excited the dancers, who never took their masked eyes off her, while they moved with weary grace to the cadence of the sinisterly beautiful and yet so haunting tune . Sarah swore she could hear words faintly.
There's such a sad love
Deep in your eyes, a kind of pale jewel
Open and closed within your eyes
I'll place the sky within your eyes
She walked slowly though the room feeling there was something she needed to do. Someone she needed to seek but she could not quite remember who. Two gorgeously gowned women snickered behind their fans at her. Wondering why Sarah paused beside a tall mirror and looked at her image self-consciously. The people passing behind her, in the mirror, were watching her like ravishing birds of prey. The dancers swayed and swirled. Then Sarah saw something in the mirror that made her gasp. She had caught a glimpse of Jareth, entwined with a pair of voluptuous women, dancing past.
There's such a fooled heart
Beating so fast in search of new dreams
A love that will last within your heart
I'll place the moon within your heart
She whirled around, but he had vanished. She stood there, peering through the throng for him so intently that she did not notice the young man leaning against the column beside her. He had his head held back and was staring brazenly at her. He relished her face, then her white shoulders, her breasts, hips, and legs, and moved closer to her. He murmured into her ear, "You are remarkably beautiful, my dear girl."
Sarah spun around to face him, her mouth open. At the mixture of surprise and pleasure on her face, the young man threw back his head and laughed. She smiled back at him nervously but moved away from him as quickly as she could.
Hidden behind another man's cape, Jareth had watched it all, but Sarah had not seen him watching. His eyes were following Sarah wherever she went in the corrupt ballroom watching but keeping hidden and apart. He had only planned to watch, to play hide and go seek the King. However the instant he saw the young man speak to her his plan altered drasticly.
She was tense now, self-conscious, among people she could not understand but who behaved as though they knew something that she didn't know. Her hand went nervously to the crystals at her throat, trying to fortify herself. The moment her hand touched the crystal she had purpose. She moved hurriedly around the ballroom looking for Jareth. She did not know why she wanted to find him, or what she would say to him. She just knew that it was vitally important that she should find him.
When she saw him, he was whispering something to his beautiful partner, who responded by smiling knowingly from beneath her mask and licking her lips, slowly, with the tip of her tongue.
As the pain sweeps through
Makes no sense for you
Every thrill has gone
Wasn't too much fun at all
But I'll be there for you-oo-oo
As the world falls down
Sarah blushed and turned away in embarrassment. She found herself looking into another of the tall mirrors around the room. Behind her she saw Jareth, relinquishing his partners and move toward her. He was a resplendent figure, upright and blond, in a midnight blue frock coat, diamante at the neck, shoulders, and cuffs. Ruffs of pale gray silk at his throat and wrists set off the pallor of his skin. On his legs he was wearing black tights and black, shiny boots. He held his hand out.
She turned around, not expected that he would really be there. He was, and he was still holding out his hand to her. She took it, feeling dizzy. Her dizziness ceased when she went spinning around the ballroom in Jareth's arms. She was the loveliest woman at the ball. She knew it, from the way in which Jareth was smiling down at her and singing.
I'll paint you mornings of gold
I'll spin you Valentine evenings
Though we're strangers till now
We're choosing the path between the stars
I'll leave my love between the stars
As the pain sweeps through
Makes no sense for you
Every thrill has gone
Wasn't too much fun at all
But I'll be there for you-oo-oo
As the world falls down
All his attention was on her. The touch of his hands on her body was thrilling. To dance with him seemed the easiest and most natural motion. When he told her that she was beautiful, she felt confused.
"I feel ... I feel like ... I -- don't know what I feel."
He was amused. "Don't you?"
"I feel like ... I'm in a dream, but I don't remember ever dreaming anything like this!" She confessed innocently.
He pulled back to look at her and laughed, but fondly gently, not mockingly. "You'll have to find your way into the part," he said, and whirled her on around the room.
The words were so familiar, where had she heard them before she wondered? She smiled up at him. She thought how handsome he was, no more than handsome, he was painfully beautiful; but one didn't tell a man such things, did one? More than that, there was something in his face that was openly enjoying the moment, without the mocking or scornful secretiveness that she had seen on other faces here. His face was peaceful, and doting.
"When you've found your way in, stay in your dream, Sarah;" Jareth's eyes were looking straight into hers. His smile was serious but not frighteningly so. "Believe me. If you want to be truly free, wholly yourself -- you do want that, don't you?" Sarah nodded. "Then you will find what you want only as long as you stay in your dream. Once you abandon it, you are at the mercy of other people's dreams. They will make of you what they want you to be. Forget them, Sarah. Trust to your dream." Sarah was spellbound. "Trust to me," Jareth pleaded gently, moving his face close to hers. "Can you do that?" He asked ardently.
She nodded, and looked up at him with anticipation. He was going to kiss her; she shut her eyes; that was the way to do it. Something made her open her eyes again. It was the silence in her head, as if the music had stopped. It had not, but she saw that they had been surrounded by all the other dancers. They were leering and nudging each other. She saw them biting their lips to hold back their laughter. Jareth seemed to be unperturbed, but she turned her face sharply away from his, horrified. He held her more tightly and insistently sought her lips with his. Suffused with disgust, she wrenched herself free of him. His hand reached for her again only to have her slip away. Sarah's back was to him, and she could not see the pain that now registered on his handsome face.
The clock struck twelve.
Sarah pushed her way through the jostling, jeering crowd. A man smiled foxily at her behind his mask and then grasped at her body. She smelled his evil breath on her face. She shoved him away angrily. A group of giggling women rushed between them, chased by merrily guffawing men. Sarah was knocked off balance and stumbled against a column. Crouching, frightened, she made her way out of the crowd, until she saw the shimmering membrane of the great bubble just in front of her. Beside her was a small, painted chair. She picked it up in both hands, and hurled it at the bubble. The chair crashed through it. As the bubble burst, Sarah was sucked through it.
Being summoned to the palace was not something to be taken lightly, and Paisley had been scribe to the court long enough to know that. She was slightly disturbed to find no goblin on guard at the gate. It was worrisome and she intended to complain. That intent was dismissed when she found the circular chamber that was used as a throne room empty. "Odd," she murmured as she followed a trail of what appeared to be old clothes, and bits and pieces of food to the archway that led to another corridor. Looking into the darkened space she could hear scratches and shuffling above.
Cautiously she moved upward on the staircase and soon found herself in a passageway outside an arched entry to a chamber filled with stairs that went every which way. Huddled in arch were several goblins and the dwarf. "What is going on," she demanded.
Hoggle turned, startled by her, "Don't sneak up on a person!" he scolded putting a hand to his heart, "You'll scare a hundred years out of me.
"You've got that and more to spare," she quipped, "Hoggle why was I sent for, where is the King?"
Hoggle motioned over his shoulder to the entry of the Escher chamber. "He's in there."
"Oh dear," Paisley sighed, "How long?"
"Hours," Hoggle shrugged, "Maybe days… we don't know.
Paisley looked into the chamber and layer by layer worked her way down from the towering ceiling to where the Fae King sat too preoccupied to notice he was being observed. "Leave this to me," she insisted. "Everyone go back about their own business."
Hoggle sniffled; then shuffled off shooing goblins out of his way.
Holding tightly to her talisman, the scribe followed instinctively the path that would get her to the King. Once she was at the archway that was entry to his level she cleared her throat and awaited permission to join him. Jareth looked up, not surprised, not perturbed but not pleased either, "What is it?"
"I was sent for," she said remaining outside his level.
At first he looked ready to shout, then his face softened, "Join me," he commanded softly patting the stair he was seated on.
Slowly sweeping into the room the Scribe sat, letting her long gown drape over the stair, "With pleasure," she said cheerily. "What is His Majesty doing?"
"My Majesty is gazing," he said teasingly holding up the crystal orb in his hand. "Care to see what it is that I've been gazing upon?"
"If you wish to share," she answered considerately. Paisley had had enough experience with Fae Kings, this one in particular to know that they often were not forthcoming with information. Jareth held the orb closer for her to see that within the orb there was a sort of a masked ball being held. Fae dancing, Fae lounging, and a creature dressed in white passing between them. Paisley knew the identity of the creature and whispered, "Sarah Williams."
"Indeed," the sad King sighed. "Sarah."
Placing a comforting hand on his sleeve, Paisley asked; "Why do you torture yourself so?"
His face mirrored the face in the orb, pained and sad. "I don't know what I did wrong," he confessed. "I gave her the dream she had been thinking of… I gave her a wonderful glittering ball…" He lowered the orb, "You're a woman, tell me what I did wrong."
Amused at his observance of her gender she smiled, "My dear boy, you've done nothing right." She tapped the orb. "You played on trick after another and got hoist on your own petard!"
Pulling back from her just a bit, he grumbled disgustingly, "What do you know about it?"
Paisley snickered, "More than I care to," she teased. Her hand moved to his sleeve, respectfully. "Jareth, do you want to know or not?"
"OH now we're going to be on a first name basis?" His voice was testy and his eyes full of annoyance.
The woman stood up and shrugged, "If I'm not wanted," she turned to leave.
"Don't go," he gave in.
Turning back she could see he was conflicted. "Sire, I assure you, I respect you."
He once more patted the stair, "Sit with me, Paisley." When she was once more seated he confessed softly, "I don't really like being criticized, I get that from my father."
"I'm aware," she acknowledged. "However sire, sometimes you need to be made aware of certain faults." She moved back to the stair and resumed her seat. "That ball," she said curtly, "That was a big mistake."
Defensively he growled, "I don't think so."
Paisley smiled, "How like your father you are sometimes." Once more she gauged her words. "Jareth, allow me to explain before your jump down my throat."
"Fine," he sighed.
"I don't question that the idea of a ball, a fine dress ball was something the girl dreamed of. It's the setting, that I feel was a mistake." She brought up his hand still holding the orb up, "Look at it," she commanded.
Mischievously, like a child he shrugged. "I see nothing wrong."
"For heaven's sake, it's a fairy ring!" she snapped, "Even a novice can see that."
"Sarah didn't," he mused wickedly.
"No, but she ran out on you all the same," Paisley reminded him harshly. "Jareth I know you like to win, but really!" The sound of her exasperation seemed to amuse the young Fae King. "Tricking her into eating Fae Food was not enough for your twisted and warped little mind, no you had to make her dance in a Fairy-Ring and to top it all… you sang Fae-song to her!"
Leaning back lazily he graced her with a smirk, "I know, I'm evil."
"Yes you are," she agreed.
The lazy smirk faded, "What did I do wrong. Why did she run off?"
Shaking her head, the Scribe sighed, "You should have spent some time reading those blasted fairytales she enjoyed so…" she wagged a finger in his face menacingly. "Inviting all those miscreants! Letting them gape and gawk, no wonder the girl ran off!"
"My court is not… miscreants!" he argued.
Grabbing the orb away from him she set it to reveal the dancers watching the girl, "Oh I beg to differ!" she snapped. "Look at the way they gawk! And this one, why he practically assaulted the child;" Shoving the orb back she growled. "You're damn lucky you lost nothing more than that opulent ballroom!"
Jareth grabbed the orb before it could drop on the stairs and shatter, "But it was what she wanted," he said defensively, "A fine masked ball."
"She wanted a romantic interlude," Paisley agreed, "Not the whole court gawking and mocking her."
"But why didn't she trust me," Jareth asked.
"Why should she have," Paisley replied in return. "What did you do to earn her trust?"
"I did everything she asked," his frustrations now poured out of him, "She asked that the child be take; I took him. She cowered before me, I was frightening. I reordered time, turned the world upside down; and I have done it all for her," he said with a shake of his head. "I am exhausted from living up to her expectations. Isn't that generous?" His face reddened slightly as he finished. "What more could I do?"
"You could have simply told her that you loved her," Paisley said softly.
"I beg your pardon," he sputtered.
"The way to handle a woman, my dear Jareth, is not with trickery, but with telling her you love her." Paisley smiled secretively.
"Merlin's beard that sounds stupid!" He barked.
"Jareth," Paisley scolded, "If you had the sense of a lemon you'd see I'm right."
He stood up and laughed at her, "Tell her I love her, that's rich…." He tossed the orb up into the air where it vanished, ready for the next time he needed to view it. "You may go Scribe; I will not need you further this evening." He said as he exited the chamber by means of a magical transport the woman didn't have access to.
"Did you really think he'd listen," a voice in the darkness asked.
Paisley looked up, "No, Oberon, I didn't, but it was worth the try."
The High King appeared, "Why?"
"Because I like the boy, and I'd like to see him understand, accept and win," she sighed.
"He will in the end," Oberon said curtly. "The girl did eat the fruit of the Fae, and she danced in a Fairy Ring, he's already won."
"Yes, I know… I'm well aware of Fae Canon," she acknowledged.
Sitting in the seat vacated by the Goblin King, Oberon placed a hand on the knee of the Scribe, "Hopeless romantic."
"Hopeful," she corrected sweetly, "Hopeful Romantic," she said as she stood up; "Too old to turn, too young to keep… just now."
Oberon wore the same lazy smile that his son had, "What are you planning to do?"
"For now return to my world, my time and my computer," Paisley decreed, "Perhaps that fool will come to his senses…"
"My son," the voice darkened.
"No, the other fool…" she moved toward the arch.
"The girl who at the peach?" Oberon asked intrigued.
"No, the other fool…." She said humorously.
"Which other fool?" He called as she began her descent.
"The one who thinks he knows the story," she called over her shoulder.
Oberon chortled, "Oh Paisley, you are a hopeful romantic."
Nobody saw the owl, white in the moonlight, black against the stars, nobody heard him as he glided over on silent wings of velvet. The owl saw and heard everything. He settled in the tree, his claws hooked on a branch, and he stared at the girl in the bedroom window below. The wind moaned, rocking the branch, scudding low clouds across the evening sky. It lifted the hair of the girl. The owl was watching her, with his round, dark eyes.
Sarah sat on the window seat gazing into the night sky, the faint sounds of her stepmother singing the boy to sleep floated on the air. She huddled against the window frame. She'd done the right thing, she knew she had, and yet part of her was so forlorn. Sarah had felt isolated and secluded since her mother's desertion. She'd put the blame on her father, and then on Karen and lastly on Toby. As if the baby had been the last straw and her mother would never return to the fold. Wishing the boy away had been a kneejerk reaction, going after him had proven to be more problematic. She placed a hand to her brow, it had been just a story she'd told herself over and over. It was a dream, a bad dream… that had some wonderful events, but a bad dream.
The cool wind kissed her skin, and gave her goose bumps. The soft pale moonlight lawn of her gown didn't give much protection from the cool February breeze. She'd given up pj's in favor of more romantic nightgowns and robes after the night of the big storm. Closing her eyes she wondered if she could conjure up the images that she had fought so hard to keep away.
"Sarah," Karen's voice scolded gently, "It's freezing, you'll catch your death of cold. Shut that window right now."
"Yes," She agreed sadly, "I will." The long window shut and the girl was safe within the room that a moment later went dark.
Jareth transformed from owl to King, and sat on the branch. The scribe's words echoed in his ears, 'The way to handle a woman, my dear Jareth, is not with trickery, but with telling her you love her.' Was it possible the woman was right? He had to admit the suggestion was better than anything he'd come up with thus far. Scrying the orb only made him irritated, reordering time left him frustrated and still alone. He looked down at the bedroom window below and pondered. Hearing the soft sounds of sleep, he decided to make a move, after all anything was better than just sitting in the cold.
Having once been invited into the mortal girl's home, he now had an open invitation, even if the girl were not aware of it. He used magic to deepen the sleep of all in the house, least he inadvertently awaken one of the parents. A simple flick of his wrist and the tall French windows opened to allow his passage, not that he needed to enter that way, but being mindful of the last grand entry he'd made he went the same route.
In the little bed the girl, his girl, slept in the magically deepened sleep. Although not peacefully, it was as if the moment he entered the room she was aware of him even in the enchanted sleep. Jareth paced, every now and again he'd look over at the sleeping maiden, and his frown deepened. Could it be that the Scribe was right? Flicking his wrist he halted time. Purposefully he strode over to the bed, "Sarah," he said firmly but was only rewarded with a grimace from the sleeping girl. "Sarah," he repeated a little louder, she twitched, and he took a seat on the side of her bed, reached out to shake her shoulder, "Sarah, wake up~ please." He added as an afterthought.
Green eyes the color of pure emeralds with hearts of blue and gold fluttered open. The moment they did she shut them tightly and moaned, "No no no no no no no no."
Jareth crossed his arms over his chest, "That's not very flattering," he quipped. "Do open your eyes woman! I need to talk to you."
One eye unclenched, "What are you doing here?" She demanded pulling her covers up to her tightly, "You don't exist!"
He sighed, unfolded his arms, reached forward and pinched her. She yelped, and he said, "Don't I?"
"That hurt," she muttered as she sat up and looked at her arm. Realizing the room was light and that she'd turned off all the lights she looked at the Goblin King. "What are you doing here in my room?"
"I need to ask you something," he said with unbridled honesty.
"So you invite yourself into my room," she demanded.
"You invited me in," he said gently with a smirk.
"I never…" she halted in midsentence and rethought was she was about to say, "I didn't mean to!" She looked about for her robe, "My parents don't allow boys upstairs during the day, I'm sure having a King in my bedroom at night would not please them."
Waving a gloved hand he chuckled, "They'll never know I've deepened their sleep."
"What do you want," she demanded now in a really bad fit of anger, still searching for her robe.
"Would it have changed anything," he asked at a snail's pace, "If I had said I love you?"
Sarah stopped looking for her robe, and turned her head, facing the King who suddenly seemed very vulnerable. "I beg your pardon?"
"In the ballroom," he began to fiddle with one glove nervously, "If I'd said I love you, would it have made a difference?"
At a loss, Sarah forgot about the blanket she'd been hugging to her, "Why are you asking me this now?"
"I need to know," he muttered uneasily, "For a moment there it seemed you and I were… communicating… and then you bolted." The pain of that moment returned and his face reflected it. "If I had said I love you, would it have made a difference?"
"Yes," she said closing her eyes, "It would have."
"I offered you your dreams," he said pinching the bridge of his nose, "I did everything you wanted!"
Sarah opened her eyes, "You didn't give me what I wanted; you stole my little brother!"
"I did not," he argued dropping his hand down from his face. "You asked not once by twice that I take him… take him, not steal him."
Sarah opened her mouth to object, but thinking about it she had to admit he was right, "I didn't mean it," she said knowing it sounded lame.
"That aside," he said curiously; "Why don't you like me? I did everything you wanted…"
"I never asked to be tricked, or poisoned…"
"I didn't poison you," he corrected swiftly; "I enchanted you." He made the word sound almost romantic.
Sarah fell back into her pillows, "You're unbelievable! You poison me and now you want me to what, thank you?"
"I didn't poison you," he argued stronger, "I sent you the gift of an enchanted peach…"
"It had worms," she said closing her eyes and groaning at the memory.
"One little one," he held up a gloved hand and decreased the area of space between thumb and forefinger.
"One too many," she announced.
"Sarah," he leaned across her resting on his elbow, "Was the ballroom really all that awful?" He looked at her; she'd changed in the short time she'd been above. Some of the childishness was gone, replaced by something that intrigued him. Here alone with her it was all different.
Feeling the weight that now draped over her, her heart beat faster, "Not all of it," she admitted grudgingly. "Some of it was… lovely."
"We were doing so well," he lamented, "I don't understand what when wrong."
"All those people… watching like birds of prey," she shuddered, "It was degrading."
"I didn't mean for it to be," he expressed regret softly, watching her with more interest than he'd had even in the ballroom. "I meant for it to be… romantic."
"Some of it was," she whispered.
"We fit well, dancing," his voice dropped down to a husky tone.
"Yes," she agreed.
"If I had said I love you, would you have stayed?" He asked.
Sarah looked at him, leaning over her, in an intimate posture. Strangely it felt right, "No," she answered with poignant honesty. "I had to make sure Toby was returned…"
"Sarah," he inched forward, "If I had offered to return the boy…"
Her fingertips silenced him, "We both know you never intended to return him."
Looking at the hand that had reached forward he knew she was right. Her fingers dropped away and he looked down at her, "Sarah, darling," he smiled softly. "What do you know about canon?"
"Canon," she questioned, "Not the gun kind?" He shook his head and she sighed deeply, "I was afraid not… A law, or rule of doctrine or discipline, a decision, regulation, code, or constitution," she recited in a drone, "That canon?"
Smirking at her he nodded, "Yes, that …" he leaned forward, until he was inches from her face. "Ever hear of the Persephone Canon?" his voice dropped to the lower tones again, gravelly and husky at the same time.
Sarah looked at the stormy eyes, "Persephone," she repeated trying to concentrate.
Nodding, Jareth whispered, "Hades allowed her to return to her family for a season…"
The young woman in the bed blinked, what was he talking about? And why was it that when he was near she couldn't think straight? Did he have to smell so good? "Ah huh," she said at long last, but her eyes were getting glassy.
"You and Toby have been allowed to come home… for a season as it were, when you're ready, when you're no longer too young to keep… you must come back to me," he said moving even closer, his lips now a breath away. "You'll have no choice."
"I'll have no choice," she repeated dreamily.
"That's right," he said softly, in a sing song tone, "I gave you both Fae food and drink… I danced with you in a Fairy Ring, and I sang Fae Song to you… my darling."
Sarah's eyes closed, "It's all a dream," she whispered as sleep took her once more.
Leaning closer, the Goblin King kissed her nose. "Sleep my precocious little princess," he crooned, "And dream of the man whose love was left between the stars." Pulling back he stood up. "When your growing season is over," he promised, "I will come to reclaim you… my little Queen."
Somewhere in the cavernous bowels of the Scribe's chamber.
Jareth read over the shoulder of the Scribe as she typed. "That's nice," he mused. "Not at all true, but very romantic…"
"You don't like it," Paisley said saucily, "Write your own story."
"No no," he said placing his hand on her shoulder, "You do a fine job."
"I do try…" she said stretching her aching back as she'd finished.
"I like it," he said approvingly.
"Good," she sighed turning she knew he was already gone; "Happy Valentine's day sire." She called out knowing he'd hear her words.
"And to you dear Scribe," his voice echoed in her chamber as a little glass violet appeared on her computer.