Author's Note: This was written for the labyfic livejournal community's WinterFest 2010. Also, the song playing on the radio is Winter, by Tori Amos, from the album "Little Earthquakes" (and can be seen being performed on this youtube video: youtube . com / watch?v=KWmETxWM0h0). In addition, please forgive the odd formatting - fanfiction . net wouldn't let me add spaces in appropriate places to section off the lyrics from the main text, so I improvised with horizontal line breaks.


Snow Queen


A small, hard smile came to Sarah's face as the opening strains of a Tori Amos song spilled from the radio.


Snow can wait

I forgot my mittens


It'd been awhile since she'd seen real snow. In the Golden Land of Los Angeles, snow was almost as much a fairy tale as the idea of making it big in the entertainment business. Almost. Sarah would lay odds that seeing snow was actually the more likely of the two outcomes for most people who found themselves here.

She had thought she was such a hotshot, after all, having a famous actress for a mother. Well, pedigree only got you so far in this town.


Wipe my nose

Get my new boots on


She looked down at the new boots she was putting on for her gig that night - five inch white patent leather platform monsters with strategic cut-outs and lacing. Perfect LA winter-wear for a SoCal Strippers girl, which was the closest thing to acting she'd been able to get in a very long time. A tremor of disdain and disgust shook her thoughts before she ruthlessly suppressed it, as she always did.


I get a little warm in my heart

When I think of winter

I put my hand in my father's glove


She looked down at the glove she was accessorizing with, a hoarse chuckle escaping. Smooth white satin with marabou feather accents wasn't really her father's style. Not that they spoke anymore. She couldn't stand the disapproval that had bled into any conversation, no matter how trivial. She had walled off that hurt when she had severed contact with him, along with the rest of her family.


I run off

Where the drifts get deeper

Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown


Her breath caught in a hard lump in her throat as she saw herself in the old, scratched mirror. No, that probably wasn't a dress Sleeping Beauty would be wearing, was it? Sleeping Beauty presumably had more taste. But Sarah's clients didn't hire her for that – they hired her to be their version of a fairy tale princess. She was Temptress and Innocent wrapped into one, an erotic, accessible Snow White who would do precisely what they told her to do. Hair as black as night, skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and heart locked away in a glass casket as impenetrable as a glacier.


I hear a voice

"You must learn to stand up

for yourself

cause I can't always be around"


Her eyes pricked and stung suddenly. Closing them, she imagined her comfortably familiar mental fortress, ice walls soaring into the night, impregnable. She stood inside, safe from the little earthquakes that threatened from the outside, a tranquil observer, removed and in control.


He says

When you gonna make up your mind

When you gonna love you as much as I do


A soft choking gasp escaped her, the chill foundations of her mental fortress overrun with a boiling tidal wave of memory long-buried. The song wasn't about him, couldn't be - but those words, those words...the memories quickened her in a way that she had carefully and purposefully forgotten. She almost dared to say his name, to call out to him aloud as she had once done.

But soon, bitterness born of experience crept like frost into her recollections, cracking their burnished sugar-pane surface. It had been all clever words and roles and let's pretend with him. It hadn't been true. His words had never been true.

And why should they have been?

Familiar disappointment settled in her chest, heavy as a stone.


When you gonna make up your mind

Cause things are gonna change so fast

All the white horses are still in bed


She had made her choice. And she had acquired the necessary armor for herself so that she could live in this use-or-be-used town, because she had learned that the only one who would protect her was herself. Anyone who promised otherwise was always lying. Always.


I tell you that I'll always want you near


A miserable, useless quivering began on her lower lip. Damn it to hell. She had thought she was over that particular trickle of naïvete. She didn't need anyone to save her. She didn't need anyone, period. And especially not him.


You say that things change my dear


She closed her eyes, breathing in shallow half-breaths, letting truth melt some of her carefully constructed illusions.

Even if she could see him again, she couldn't bear the thought of him seeing her like this. Not like this. She could just imagine his supercilious smirk as he surveyed her from his regal height, his flashing eyes disdainful, the graceful movement of his gloved hands as he held aloft a crystal sparkling with her dreams. Certain judgment would stain his patrician features, the cruel dismissal of her as someone who was no longer worth his attention.

And he would be right.

Her iron-cold walls were crumbling all around her, avalanches pouring in unrestrained. She sat down hard on the bare mattress, the only furniture in the room, and quietly sobbed to the delicate fae strains of the singer's voice.

"Do you know," Jareth said quietly from behind her, his voice curling in between the song's vocals, "that this is the first time you've actually devoted concerted thought to my existence since you were fifteen?"

Shock froze her, tears leaving glitter trails down her cheeks.


Cause things are gonna change so fast


Wry warmth spilled through his voice. "What? You weren't expecting me to still be listening?"

Words surged out of her memory's pull. "I thought...I told you that you had no power over me."

His voice poured into her ear, tempting as warm honey, promising to touch parts long chilled if only she would let it. "Do you still mean it?"


All the white horses have gone ahead


"No," she breathed, her voice low.


I tell you that I'll always want you near


"Are you still interested in my offer?" he asked.

Breath huffed out of her in surprise, and an icy bitterness filled her words. "Fear you, love you, do as you say? I think I've had enough of that already in LA, if it's all the same to you." Anger tightening her jaw, she turned to face him, to lock gazes with the source of that silky voice.


You say that things change

My dear


He was like and not like the Goblin King of her childish memories. There were the same perfect planes of cheek and chin, those same winter-bright eyes and hair the color of night-streaked snow, that same sly smile full of secrets. But there were far more nuances of temper and mood, far more dimensions of meaning in the intelligence alight in his eyes.

He arched an eyebrow, clearly enjoying her studied assessment of him. "That was when you were fifteen."

She swallowed hard, eyes still locked to his. "And now?"

A gentle mischief colored his words. "Now you're not."

Impatience overtook her. "So...what? What are the terms of this new offer?"

"I never said it was new."

"Then what is it?"

An amused patience filled his eyes. "It's the same offer, Sarah. The only difference is the words used to describe it."

"But-"

He held a finger to her lips. "What seems most dangerous to you now, Sarah? What is it you yearn for now, but don't dare tell – let alone ask of – anyone? What is the deep longing of your heart, the secret you whisper in the quiet of your mind in the dark?" His smile was a knowing thing. "That is what I offer you now."

She said nothing for several heartbeats, her eyes closed, her mind racing unbidden ahead of her. God, to have the soaring passion of her younger self, to have that simple faith that all would work out in the end...to really feel again, to feel something real and pulsing and beautiful that didn't come from a pill or a powder. That was...almost unbearable to have in reach.

She opened her eyes and looked at him intently. "I'm going to assume that I don't get the option of sacrificing my baby brother for these new terms."

His laughter was soft, caressing. "No."

"Then...?"

"What vision of yourself do you consider the most fundamental? That is what I demand in return."

She stared at him wordlessly.


Skating around the truth

who I am


His smile was a crooked thing. "Do you still think you're a Heroine, Sarah?"

She turned away and closed her eyes, taking a shuddering breath. "No."

"Then...?" he playfully echoed her questioning tone from before. "Who are you now? What would you sacrifice for who you want to be?" His voice slipped into tones of serpentine temptation, pouring its liquid fire into her ear. "Say your right words, my dear, and it shall be done."


When you gonna make up your mind


Silence curled and drifted between them again before she spoke. "Why are you still offering this?"


When you gonna love you as much as I do

When you gonna make up your mind


His words were clear and bright as night-time stars. "Because I can." His lips hovered above her neck, whispering their warmth into her skin. "Say your right words, Sarah."

Her breath hitched, her pulse racing, words low as ice cracking in the deeps. "If you will make me believe again..."

His kiss was hot on the back of her neck. "Yes? What will you give me," he asked, his palm blazing with midsummer heat against her back, "if I give you this?"

"I…I will…believe in you."

"Good," he said, eyes flashing, "but not good enough. What else?" His fingers stroked her throat, just this side of threatening.

"Trust you," she gasped, a fine shiver passing through her. "I will...trust you."

His fingers relaxed, as if in approval, and now hovered over her heart. "Almost there. What else?"

She felt the glass casket image break and shatter insider her, and tried to find words for what it meant. "Let you...I will let you...in."

"Yes," he breathed. "So pacted." His face was radiant with triumph, and his fingers shone bright and brighter. "That will do very well indeed." He touched the blazing light in his hands to her chest. "Say goodbye, Snow Queen."

And in that moment, she was suffused with an overwhelming glorious rush, an influx of feeling, of hope with feathered wings, icicles melting, fire in her heart, that long-forgotten burning in her mind...

Genuine laughter escaped her as she waved at her reflection in the mirror, light and heat and life shining in her eyes. "Goodbye, Snow Queen," she said softly, taking his proferred hand.


You say that things change

My dear


And without another word, they winked out of the apartment together.