Red Thread

There was glitter everywhere. It would be impossible to get it all out of the carpet.

Luckily, Sarah liked glitter. In fact, she had quite a weakness for sparkly things in general. Probably if Jareth didn't leave stardust trailing behind him wherever he went, she wouldn't find him nearly as attractive.

'Jareth,' she said, her hands springing to her hips, 'I know you're here somewhere. You might as well come out.'

'You aren't any fun,' he answered, shimmering into view. 'How are you this evening?'

'I was better before you arrived.'

Just because she liked glitter didn't mean she had to tell him that. He just smiled at her insult, though, his perfect lips turning gently up...the smile of an angel, of a god...

Forcefully, Sarah tore her gaze away. It really wouldn't do to let him catch her staring at his lips.

Before either of them could say anything else, though, a knock came at her door, and her stepmother opened it without waiting for an answer, with the phone in one hand and Sarah's four-year-old half sister behind her. Sarah had a moment of terror, before remembering that unlike her, the rest of her family didn't have Faerie Sight and wouldn't be able to see Jareth.

'I'm on an important call, do you mind putting Lily to bed?' Karen asked. 'Thanks.' She turned and left, leaving Lily standing in the doorway. Normally the little girl would have turned tail and run, making Sarah catch her and drag her forcibly to bed, but instead she just stood still, eyes wide, staring around the room.

'There's a faerie here, isn't there?' she whispered, and Jareth and Sarah both looked at her incredulously.

'Yes, Lily,' Sarah said at last. 'You can see him?'

'No,' Lily answered softly, 'but I know he's here.'

Jareth waved a hand, and when Lily gasped and stepped back Sarah knew that he had shown himself to her.

'Hello, Lily,' he said, kneeling down in front of her. 'I am a friend of your sister's.'

'Well, in a manner of speaking,' Sarah cut in, laughing a little nervously. Friend? That seemed like a bit of a strong word to describe their relationship. Sure, maybe they had friendly feelings towards each other, but that wasn't quite the same thing. 'But you don't have to be afraid,' she grudgingly admitted when Lily started to look worried.

Lily thought about that for a long moment, but at last she smiled. 'Okay,' she said, 'but you'd better not hurt my sister.'

'He couldn't hurt me even if he wanted to,' Sarah assured her, but Lily wasn't convinced.

'I want you to promise,' she said sternly, thrusting her pinkie forward.

'I promise,' Jareth laughingly agreed, wrapping his finger around hers.

'Does it count if he's wearing gloves?' she asked Sarah in a whisper, looking quite concerned.

'Of course it does, and he's leaving now, anyway,' Sarah told her, and grabbed her hand to pull her to the bathroom. 'Brush your teeth,' she commanded.

Lily must still have been a little nervous about finding a Faerie in her big sister's bedroom, because she meekly obeyed and then followed Sarah to her own room and pulled on her nighty. Then she seemed to come back to her senses and remember how much she hated bedtime, though, because with no warning she suddenly tore past and rushed outside.

'Is everything all right?' Jareth asked worriedly, stepping into the doorway.

'What are you still doing here?' Sarah demanded.

'Is your sister alright? You didn't try to set the goblins on her, did you?' he asked, ignoring her question.

'Of course not,' Sarah answered, wincing at the memory of that stupid wish she had made almost five years ago. 'It's just this game she likes to play. I'm supposed to chase her.'

'Oh,' he said, and then smiled. 'You see, if humans all acted like children, your world would be much more fun a place to be.'

'Yeah, and much more chaotic.'

'Those are practically synonyms. Now, you go downstairs and chase her up, and I will ambush her at the top of the steps,' he suggested.

Sarah opened her mouth to tell him to forget about it, but then remembered just how long it would take her to put Lily to bed without help. Besides, it was always so cute to watch Jareth with little kids...

'Okay, fine,' she agreed. 'Karen, did you see where Lily went?' she asked when she got to the living room, and her stepmother gestured towards the kitchen. She found Lily hiding under the kitchen table and chased her up the steps, suddenly realizing worriedly that she might be afraid to be cornered by Jareth.

Her fear was ungrounded, though. Sarah heard her gasp at the top of the steps, but then shriek with laughter. Lily tried to get past him, but he grabbed her and picked her up and ran back to her room, carrying her upside down, to dump her into bed. She was laughing too hard to get back up, so Sarah quickly pulled up the covers and sat on her to keep her still.

'But I want a story,' she protested.

'If I let you up you're going to run away again, aren't you?'

'No...'

'Yes you will! Here, I'll choose one.'

'No!'

'Why don't we just tell you a story?' Jareth suggested.

'But there are no pictures.'

'And that is why you have an imagination. Close your eyes.' He waved his hands, and the light switch flicked off, the door closed and the curtains slid shut. Then he took Sarah's wrist and pulled her off of Lily, and they both sat on the edge of the bed. 'When you made me pinkie promise earlier, it reminded me of a story I heard once,' he told her. 'In ancient China and Japan, they believed in something called the Red Thread of Fate. Hold up your little finger, Lily; tied around that finger, there is an invisible red thread connecting you to the one person you are destined to love, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. Once upon a time, a long time ago, a young boy was walking home at night. In the light of the moon, he saw a tall man, as pale and beautiful as starlight, with the bearing of a god.

'"I am Yue Xia Lao," the godlike man told him softly, "and I am here to show you your wife, to whom you are attached by a red thread, as are all other men." He placed a hand on the boy's head, and suddenly the boy saw a beautiful young girl standing in the moonlight before him. He did not understand, and looked up at the god, but the god was looking at the moon.

'"Goodbye," he said, and a shadow passed in front of the moon, and both the god and the girl vanished.

'The next day the boy was playing in the center of the village, and he saw a group of girls from another village pass by; one of them was he girl that the god had shown him. Without a second thought, he threw a stone at the girls and ran away.

'Many, many moons later, the young boy was a young man. He left his small village behind, moved to a bigger town and fell madly in love with a beautiful young woman. Her hair was long and silky and black as jet, her skin was smooth and soft and her eyes were the colour of wet jade. What the young man loved best about her appearance, though, was the small scar above her eyebrow. Eventually the two were married, and on their wedding night the young man finally asked her how she had gotten it, and she explained that when she was a young girl, a boy in a village she'd visited had thrown a stone and scarred her face.

'And it was only then that the man remembered that moonlit meeting with the god that he had passed off as a dream. He took his wife's hands in his, and softly told her that they were destined to be.'

Jareth's hand was still on Sarah's wrist, and for a moment she let herself imagine a red thread connecting their fingers. Then she realized that Lily's eyes were closed and her breathing even, and got quietly to her feet, sternly berating herself for letting her imagination and hormones run away with themselves. Leaning down, she clicked on the pink fairy nightlight, and left the room as silently as possible, with Jareth following noiselessly behind her.

'Jareth,' she said hesitantly when they got to her room, 'does destiny actually exist?'

'I do not know if it exists,' he answered. 'I am not Yue Xia Lao; I am just a faerie. It is nice to think that it does, though,' he added after a moment.

'It is,' Sarah agreed, trying not to sound too wistful. Not that she actually liked Jareth—okay, so maybe she was a little bit attracted to him, but those were completely different things—but it was nice to think that there was someone somewhere who was meant for her. And if he happened to be blond and blue-eyed and playful and intelligent and fun and powerful and romantic and take her out to masquerade balls and have a gorgeous British accent, well, that wouldn't hurt. Suddenly Sarah realized that a really silly smile was forming on her face, and quickly wiped it blank.

'That would be cool, but it probably doesn't exist,' she said, trying to sound nonchalant. He gave her a long look, and Sarah really hoped he hadn't guessed what she'd been thinking. 'Jareth?' He glanced away, and when he turned back to her he looked almost irritated.

'Now, really,' he said. 'This is getting out of hand.'

And then he leaned down and kissed her.

On various occasions when she was too tired to know better, Sarah had tried to imagine how she would act and what she would say if he ever kissed her. As usual, though, things didn't happen quite as she'd planned them.

The kiss wasn't long, but when he pulled gently away Sarah was out of breath and her mind was spinning.

'Oh,' she said breathless. 'Oh. That was...unexpected.'

'Mhmm,' he agreed, pulling her down to sit on the floor, his fingers linked through hers. 'You never were very good and predicting my actions, were you?'

'What was getting out of hand?' she asked carefully, glancing down at his fingers in hers. For a moment she thought she saw a flash of red...

'You,' he said with a smile, and dropped a kiss at her temple, and she flushed in embarrassment as she realized that he had obviously known what she was thinking all along. 'And me. Us. We were getting out of hand.'

Sarah thought about that for a long moment. She imagined a spool of red thread falling out of her hand, stretching on through time and space and destiny...


As usual, I didn't spend nearly as much time on this as I should have. Hope you liked it anyway.

Thanks for reading!

About Valentine Evenings...: I'm so sorry that I haven't updated. I've tried forcing myself to write it, but I just can't. I don't know why. I WILL finish it eventually, though, I promise you that. And the good news is that I made a friend of mine promise to finish it for me if I get into a car crash before I manage to myself :)