Disclaimer: I do not own Labyrinth, or anything that might be taken as an allusion to KH.
Summary: His big sister always tells the best bedtime stories. SJ implied.
As far back as Toby could remember, his sister had lulled him to sleep each night with a story.
The only exceptions to their nightly ritual were illness, exhaustion or some other class of freak occurrence. It was their corner of the day, and sacred to them. No matter how old he got, he never stopped wanting to hear Sarah's stories, and she never stopped telling them.
Her tales were filled with the sensational and fantastical, brought to life by her enthusiasm and ability to weave a yarn that ensnared the listener in its spools. On peaceful days, when his mother was placid and their father cheery, he would ask her to tell the family a story, and although they were never as vivid, colourful or as brilliantly magical the epics she spun for Toby, they held a grain of some moral or other, that he sometimes didn't fully understand, but the way that both of his parents kept listening needed no clarification.
She told him of mermaids, pirates and ghosts. Of witches and warlocks and knights. Monsters, demons and other thrilling frights. But her favourite, and his, was the chronicle of the girl who wished her brother away to the mysterious labyrinth and fought a race against time to stop that baby being turned into a goblin forever. As he grew older, and discovered the much-loved copy of Labyrinth that was always, infallibly on the vanity in her room, in front of the mirror, Toby noted the similarities between the girls adventure and the one he was familiar with. Sarah's account embellished on this, and expanded on the lives of the people involved outside of the two main roles.
Sarah spoke of the characters as if they were her friends, Hoggle, Ludo and Sir Didymus, along with his faithful steed Ambrosius. The worm, the old man and his talkative hat and the funny birds that danced and threw their heads about. She made them seem so real, as if they were alive too, with faults and difficulties of their own. Somehow, he became convinced that at least to her, they were real.
The plight of the much-maligned king and the courageous sister was beyond words, and when she spoke of them, Sarah seemed to forget that she was telling a story to her brother, or even that she was recounting a fable, a fairytale, and her eyes glazed over as though she were the only person in the room, reciting a melancholic soliloquy to her absentee beloved. The choice was made, and the siblings returned home to their family. That should have been the end of it, but it wasn't, and it always left him yearning for a little something more, a resolution to emotions unresolved.
In her mind, Toby was certain that she imagined herself as the foolish girl who had thrown away her chance for happiness and settled for mediocrity. He couldn't conceive who might have filled the role of the eccentric monarch, but despite the impossibility of it all, he believed that his sister had fallen in love, if not with a king, then with someone whom she had sacrificed unwillingly.
When he cast his memories back, and tried to recall his earliest recollections, in amongst his mother, father and devoted elder sister, there was another who had made an impression such as to be indelibly engraved on his mind forever. He remembered a tune, not a lullaby but an outpouring of joyous exuberance, dancing and jovial creatures the minutiae of whose features escaped him, though he knew to be real and a set of mismatched eyes, shining uncannily like jewels from the feathery halo that framed them.
The king that never was, in the castle that never was, in the kingdom that never was.
Through fluttering eyelids Toby spied his sister reverently close the small red book and clasp it close to her heart as though it was the most treasured token from her lover, even though he knew from asking and from the minute signs of age that Sarah had been unable to shield it from that she had possessed the volume since before he was born.
She didn't know where it had come from, herself, and smiled at him in a knowing way when he questioned her about it.
Placing the tome carefully between two others on his shelves as she always did now, with great reluctance despite his room having been its permanent home for some years now, when it became apparent that he was as entranced with the tale as she, and the previous owner had committed each and every word to heart, letter by bold letter.
After Sarah had pulled up the covers over him, something she would never cease to do, he was sure if they both lived to an age where they were entitled to behave disgracefully and required to look after each other once more, he quietly retrieved his flashlight, the book that had so captured the imaginations of both brother and sister and dove under the bedclothes with both.
You have no power over me, the girl had said. Or had Sarah? Well his big sister wasn't the only one who could quote from a book, but Toby was more flexible in that respect, and more inclined to improvise with what he had.
The flashlight dimming as the battery ran down, his finger becoming trapped between the pages and the hooting of the peculiar owl that had chosen to land on his windowsill ceased to exist, and Toby had but a moment to whisper into the darkness.
The owl screeched and soared into the night in a flurry of feathers. Toby smiled in his sleep.