"Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered. I have fought my way here to the kingdom beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me."

That same night Sarah dreamt of Jareth. He came to her in a dream when she was just sixteen years old. He lay her down on a large bed and he worshipped her body with his own. These dreams were always frightening. Dark shadows and sinister carvings. Always she could hear the sounds of Goblins in the background. The hoot of an owl and Jareth's beautiful face devouring he own. Sarah always awoke sweating and panting and craving his touch.

Strange that he had been the one to turn her into a woman by trying to keep her a child. Although she knew he hadn't figured it out, she knew he'd tried because he thought he'd lose her when she'd grown. Grown ups don't believe in goblins and magic. Naturally that would take her away from him, or so he believed. Sarah thought of him now more than ever.

At school the boys were all so boring and ordinary. None of them smelled like magic. Not even one of them looked at her like she was the answer to their prayers. These boys could never need her and although they may not try to fight, she would rule them with little thought and no effort.

Every night for ten years she dreamt of him. Every night for ten years she woke with his name on her lips. Every night for ten years she passed the huge snowy owl on her way home no matter where she'd lived. They both knew that the other was watching.

Some days she'd come home and find a beautiful scarf or dress or ribbon. These she knew were from Jareth. Suprisingly she'd also come home to find small piles of pretty stones or interestingly shaped twigs. These paltry, beautiful gifts would never have come from Jareth. It could have been Hoggle or Didymus or Ludo, but deep down she knew it was the goblins.

Toby had once come to visit and stumbled over a particularly lovely twisted stick and touched it as if in rememberance. She'd asked him to bring it with him and they'd placed it on the growing sculpture of gifts she'd received from them. He stared at it for a long time. Though he was only seven then she'd known he felt them watching.

Ten years is a long time to pine. Although she'd never met anyone compelling enough to banish him from her thoughts, she had recently met a man who could almost make her not always think of him.

Troy was his name. They'd been in a Lit class together and on the subject of his name had talked of the Iliad for hours after he'd confessed it was his namesake. He was clever and funny and handsome. When they went for walks he held her hand and when he'd given her her first kiss a month ago, she'd felt safe.

Sarah'd been given a beautiful owl pendant the next day. Although she'd cried for days after, she put the pendant on the tribute pile rather than with all of Jareth's other treasures. Maybe she should have left it where it had lain, but she couldn't deny her heart the small taste of him.

When Troy had next come over and walked up to touch the pendant on the pile she'd almost cried out. Luckily Troy'd been facing the other direction and she'd been able to calm herself before he turned around. He asked if she liked owls and she'd changed the subject. Sarah knew her life needed to move forward. That was the grown up thing to do. He had shown her the path, after all.

Tonight was Halloween and she was going to a masquerade with Troy. He'd been so excited that she'd felt swept away. Another painful memory to be pushed down, but she still managed to laugh when he showed up as a mustachioed Hector Victorious. They didn't match. She was the Snow Queen and her gown fit to perfection.

As he drove along the rain soaked streets Sarah caught a glimps of her owl. His great yellow eyes swung to meet her and, with a jerk, she'd looked away. Troy glanced over and a smile broke his face. The smile she returned almost met her eyes.

"You do look like a queen. I think it's your profile. Your head looks so serene from the side. And pretty." Troy laughed to himself. He was very easy natured. "Would you melt for me, Your Highness?"

"Never. You Trojans are a naughty lot. Besides, your family has a history of stealing queens that don't belong to you," Sarah returned easily. He was almost the man of her dreams.

"Ah, but her heart belonged with the one who stole it. Is it really stealing if it ended up at home?" An old conversation, well loved and rehashed. "Poor Helen. Married for her beauty; stolen for her heart. Why didn't Agememnon know that without the heart, the rest is useless?"

"Some people are blinded by their notions. Maybe he thought he had her heart."

"If he thought he had it, he deserved to lose it. Breaking a girl to the mold of a trophy is ridiculous. For all eternity as slave and king? Calling a girl, 'Queen,' and treating her as a slave to your whim is not love. I wonder sometimes if Agememnon learned that when she was gone."

"My lovely Sarah. So angry all of a sudden. Who tried to break you? Poor fool. I'm glad it wasn't me. I'm also glad they failed."

"So am I," she quietly agreed. This time when she saw the owl, she looked in his yellow eyes and knew he'd heard.

People were swirling along the dance floor when they walked in. The mansion it was being held at belonged to one of the University trustees. He'd spared no expense and it was a delighful mix of depravity and elegance. Beautiful twinkling lights mixed in with opulent drapery and sensual statues. Sarah recognized the style, though it was toned down.

Troy checked their coats but Sarah decided to hold on to her beaded bag. She put the coat check tickets at the bottom to make sure they wouldn't get lost and her hand closed over a stone. The shape and texture helped her recognize it as her particular favorite amongst the Goblin Stones. Sarah had recently gone through her purses to rid them of her "lucky stones," but had forgotten that she'd left this one out of her purge. For just a moment she was unabashedly relieved that this one was with her tonight. Instead of replacing it in the bag she shut her palm and held on as if drawing strength. Just a reminder to move forward, she thought, and almost she believed it.

Troy caught her other hand and boisterously swung her onto the dance floor. They laughed as they twirled and he didn't notice the hand at his shoulder clutching tightly to an object that was not him. For him the music was too intoxicating to think of anything but the next step.

Eventually they spotted some other university friends and Sarah saw another classmate who was studying to be a professor alongside her. They joined hands and waved their dates to a table while they went for fresh air. "Girl time," they said, almost seriously. Helena was one of the very few people Sarah genuinely liked.

"Who would have thought a Masque could feel so wicked?" Helena whispered with fiendish delight. "I know they used to be really naughty, bacchanalianesque things, but tonight is the first time I believe it. I want to be truly deplorable tonight."

"Well, being Titania, you have a head start. She was always a little wicked." Sarah laughed as Helena did a spritely dance. Little did Helena know, fairies were deplorable any time of day.

Fifteen minutes later Troy came out to claim her but she pushed Helena into his arms and told him she would join them in a minute. She was still a little hot. Watching as the pair spun into the ballroom she realized the two of them looked right together. That should have caused her some alarm, especially when she saw Helena tip her head to the side in a beguiling motion. Instead, she turned to look out at the view.

The night was cool and the stars looked very bright in the sky. Absently, she took out her stone and examined it by the soft lamps on the terrace. This particular favorite of hers was the first stone she'd found and it had a starburst of white in the center of it's ebony surface. It made her feel connected to them. All of her friends, not just the goblins. She could almost see this stone trying to leap from her hand to Ludo's. That made her laugh unexpectedly.

Sarah heard the terrace doors open again and slowly pocketed the stone. Pasting a smile on her face she turned to the doors to make her reentry by the intruders. Expecting a couple, she was surprised to see a lone man. When her eyes adjusted to the lights and traveled to his face, her polite smile fell.

The hair was different. A little more tame, but still slightly wild. His face, too seemed softer, but otherwise the same. Distantly she recognized her unsurprise at seeing him here. Mostly she was trying to keep her heart from beating too madly. Sarah felt she was almost successful.

"He lied, you know?" Jareth's voice had both softened and deepened since they'd last spoken. "You aren't pretty. Striking. Beautiful, even, but never anything as dull as pretty. Your face is too original to be pretty."

"Well, I think you know my feeling on the man who was caught up in a woman's face. Beautiful I may be, but that's not who I am." Sarah took a step back and turned away mournfully. "I miss you, you know?"

"Yes. I know. I hear you when you speak my name. You'd do well to remember that. Many a sleep has been disturbed by your urges. I learned some time ago that you want more than I have to give."

"I know that, too. You wanted my soul but wouldn't offer yours in exchange. That speaks more of your selfishness than mine. Mayber you just can't find where your sould is located. Well, I can no longer wait for you. He's lovely and all he wants from me is companionship. No souls need be sacrificed here." Sarah brought her eyes on level with his. He flinched at the memory of what had happened the last time she looked him in the eye. With heavy determination, she continued, "You may convey my gratitude to the gobliins. Their gifts have been much loved, but this ends now. I may have put away the costumes, but now I need to put away the dream."

"I hadn't realized my goblins had been leaving you gifts," Jareth began after an infinite pause. "They must love you a great deal. I gave them no order to pay tribute. They were only ever intended as guardians. I do know they still call you, 'Queen.' Those stones are a great honor, and even more so the twigs and branches. You may not be aware of the awe goblins bestow on natural wonders, but I do. Likely you have heirlooms on your hands."

Sarah broke their gaze at that. She heard the telltale rustle of her Goblin Guard behind her. Invisible they may be, silent they were not.

"Why couldn't you leave me be?" She attacked. "Everyday I see your face as I begin the morning or go to bed. When I write a paper, I consider your thoughts on it. Part of me has become someone interesting for you, when I know I was only meant to cower before you and keep to my place! Can't you break the spell you cast? I'm never going to be your slave but you still won't let me free."

His face was dark as he stepped into her sphere of warmth. When his hand swept to her face he gently clasped her chin in his hand and tipped her face to his beautiful, eccentric eyes. "Hear me, Sarah. I wanted only ever to make you mine. I ddidn't know my wasy would have crushed you. Never willI release you from my heart and mind. I have learned to know you as helpmeet. I tak to you in my head and until I die I will continue to take what part of Sarah I can have."

Release you? I would give up everything in my world first. I very nearly did, once. It didn't work then. I won't try it now. You are mine, Sarah. However, I am also yours. Would you release me, Sarah?"

"No," ashamed, she broke away.

She almost made it back to the ball. The knob was in her hand. The latch had clicked. In ten seconds she would have passed through the door. Troy would have found her and she would have laughed with forced abandon.

Instead, Jareth caught her. She almost felt his grip as he turned her. The steely cage her held her in. Even his rapid descent to her lips was completely unnoticed. All she knew was the taste of magic on his lips.

Sarah had kept a strong hold on her emotions for some time. Now she knew it had been a lie. She'd never left the Labyrinth at all.