Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Wow, I did not expect to get such a positive response to this so soon! Thank you so much to everyone who has put this in their favourites already or subscribed to story alerts, and double thank you to the wonderful reviews I have already received! It encouraged me to update as soon as possible! Your encouragement is what gives me inspiration! You'll find the story has moved forward to the present now and will continue to do so from here onwards. The first chapter was more of an introduction to the storyline! Now, one thing I will say, is I know a lot of people struggle with Sarah's age and the difference... to me, I don't think Jareth is as old as he seems considering he's semi-immortal and I also imagine Sarah a tad older than what they say. My opinion on this subject is, I won't mention an age and you can pick one yourself that you feel comfortable with.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
They were two complete opposites until something wonderful happened. Love can be found in the darkest of times - but will it be enough to break the curse or will his kingdom fall prisoner to the magic that binds it?
How was it possible? How an earth had she made it this far? It had never happened before. In all the centuries he had roamed these cursed lands, not once had a creature – a human managed to weave their way through the labyrinth and make it to the middle; make it to the end. So many had entered and each one had failed, falling victim to his cheap tricks and false dreams. Each one had been won over by his empty promises of wonderlands and fantasy, though none of them had proven good enough to break the curse. An eternity had passed since this fate had been thrust upon King Jareth and then some more time ticked by after that – not once had he been outsmarted.
Yet, here she was. A mere human with no extraordinary power or magical gifts standing before him with courage burning in her emerald eyes and a fierce expression refusing to fade from her face. Her shoulders were pinned back, her chest jutting out in a manner he might have found quite delightful if he wasn't so caught up in the drama that was unfolding and it was obvious to him now that she was not the meek little selfish girl he had assumed her to be. He had made a terrible mistake bringing her here, offering her the challenge to run his labyrinth. He had assumed she would be like all the rest – weak, faint-hearted and consumed by her own greed to fulfil her dreams that she was easily swayed off the right path and onto the wrong one, but she wasn't. She was quite the opposite.
She stood before him, poised like the brave woman she had proven herself to be and if it was not for the utter humiliation, not to mention panic, that she was just seconds away from defeating him, then he might have felt a great deal of respect for her. Where had the crying little girl gone, the one he'd watched from his crystal ball as she pleaded for someone to take her away, wished her brother to the goblins? It was as if she had never existed. Instead, she showed nothing but strength, her entire aura radiating determination as she took a bold step towards him, no longer afraid or intimidated by his presence. Her mouth moved as the dreaded words begun to flow from her mouth and his fingers gripped tighter at the ball he was trying to tempt her with, though she kept refusing.
What did this mean? Did this open up the possibility that perhaps there was a chance the curse could be broken – could she be the key? Back when people first started finding themselves trapped in the labyrinth, back when Jareth had first begun his new duties as Goblin King, he had constantly tried to find some way to break the ridiculous magic that had destroyed his kingdom, but nothing had worked. He had seduced his way into the minds of any woman who had called upon him, but it was never enough – never. Dreams were not real, fantasy was not real and just because he could lure them in with sensuality, that did not mean they loved him and he certainly felt nothing for them. But this one was different – she was different. She had fought her way here, she had survived every obstacle he had thrown at her and she had proven herself more than worthy. Did this mean anything?
"I ask for so little..." He breathed out, his eyes watching her closely, as though seeing into her very soul. "Just let me rule you and you can have...everything that you want."
Wide eyes watched him, barely blinking and Sarah felt her heart lurch at what he was saying. He spoke so casually, as though what he was asking for was so simple – so normal. She found herself drawn to the words, the promises that he dangled in front of her but she could not let herself get distracted by them. This was not about her – this was about Toby. Her throat felt dry and she straightened her shoulders back that little bit more. "My kingdom is great..." She spoke clearly, not wanting to mispronounce a single work. She could hear the ticking of the clock as time began to run out and she knew she needed to get this right. She looked so confident, standing there and then in seconds, that confidence suddenly slipped away from her.
Her mind went blank and an inkling of fear washed over her body. "My kingdom is great..." She whispered, finally breaking the eye contact she had made with Goblin King. Oh god – the line, it was gone. She always had trouble remembering that line. Her heart rate picked up and this time it was nothing to do with Jareth, but everything to do with the pressure that was building up around her. Fog seemed to fill her thoughts, refusing to let her delve into her memory and remember that one fatal line that would change everything. It was on the tip of her tongue, but not quite ready to come out. The intensity of the atmosphere made it worse. She could feel his eyes staring at her, anticipation gleaming in the dark orbs that she had found herself getting lost in several times during her journey here to the castle beyond the Goblin City. He was waiting for her to say it, but she didn't.
"Damn..." She hissed with a small stamp of her foot. "I can never remember that line." Her fingers flexed, itching to reach into her pocket and draw her book out, but she knew it wouldn't be there. This wasn't one of her silly little games in the park – this wasn't her reciting a passage to herself with Merlin as her only audience. This was real life – this was happening right now and there was no script in front of her to read from. Her teeth gnawed down on her bottom lip, almost drawing blood and the sound of the ticking got louder, blasting around her ears. It felt as if the walls were slowly closing in around her even though they weren't even in a small confined space.
Her pause could only mean one thing and as Jareth watched her, he couldn't prevent his lips from twitching upwards slightly, fighting back a smirk of triumph. The courage he had seen just seconds ago had suddenly fizzled out and once again she resembled nothing more than a mere girl. She no longer seemed a threat to him and he boldly lifted his head a little bit higher. "Just fear me, love me –"If only she knew how much he truly needed this, how much the kingdom needed this, but he doubted even that would change anything. It was hard to convince a woman to feel for you when you had put her through so much, he was certain that had been the Enchantresses plan. "- do as I say and I will be your slave." He wasn't even sure if she heard him, she was too busy murmuring that last line under her breath about her kingdom, desperately trying to find the missing piece to her puzzle but failing.
"My kingdom is great." She was speaking through gritted teeth now and as she spoke, she pretended not to hear him, blocking his voice out. He was only trying to distract her and honestly, it was working. The Goblin King had this habit of leaving her breathless, leaving her confused and blank whenever she looked his way. He was so strikingly beautiful and the way he spoke, with such passion in his words – every voice in her mind told her he was evil, but every fibre of her body was trying to convince her not to care. She couldn't give in though, she couldn't. Toby needed her – her brother needed her. She would not let her brother pay for her mistakes. "My kingdom is great." This was the fourth time she had spoken that line now. Silently, she cursed in a un-lady like way and brought her hands up to her face. Her palms pressed against her features, but before crawling up further, her fingers entwining themselves in her messy hair and tugging in frustration, desperately trying to open up her memory. "It's not fair!" She yelled out to no one in particular.
It wasn't fair one bit. She had read this line so many times in the past. She knew this transcript by heart, why was it so ridiculously hard to remember that one simple, final piece?
Jareth rolled his eyes ever so slightly at her out cry. It was amazing how humans used that line so often, especially this particular one when really none of them knew the meaning of 'unfair'. To them, unfair was not earning enough money. To them, unfair was not being able to find a shirt they like in the right size. He had observed them from afar for so long and found their problems incredibly petty most of the time while he spent his days answering the callings of these idiots, making selfish wishes they apparently did not mean while his kingdom slowly died away, his magic fading as the peach tree grew older – that was unfair.
And then all thoughts, both his and hers, were drawn to a stop as the clock hit the thirteenth hour. Everything seemed to slow down. Sarah's eyes went wide and she finally looked up at the Goblin King, who looked victorious, her hands still clutched in her hair. She felt frozen. How could she have lost? After all the different trials and tribulations she had been through in the past thirteen hours, after reaching the Goblin City and taking down the armies of minions that had tried to stop her with her friends fighting by her side, she had been so confident she was going to defeat him. She had been too confident and now here she was, standing there and listening to the chimes of the floating cloak, feeling as though the ground was falling out from underneath her feet all over again. Her mind swarmed with panic and her heart wrenched tight with the grief she knew she was about to feel. She had lost and it wasn't her who would suffer, but Toby – poor little Toby who hadn't even chosen to be here.
"No..." She murmured in disbelief, shaking her head. Her arms fell back down to her side and she narrowed her eyes on the blond man in front of her. "No!" She yelled louder this time, stamping her foot a second time. She turned away slightly, raking her mind, desperately trying to somehow remember still even though she knew it was too late. "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen..." She was speaking so fast it was hard to make out what she was even saying and when she spoke them this time, Jareth felt no threat in them for he knew he had already won. Like so many before her, Sarah had failed and while he was gleeful, he felt a twinge of disappointment. She had shown so much potential.
Jareth straightened himself out and the hand that was stretched out towards her closed into a fist, the crystal within it popping like a bubble. His lips became a taunting smile, silently mocking her attempts to keep fighting. "Save your breath, Sarah. Your time is up." His voice was its usual drawl, full of cockiness and self assurance. The look of uncertainty that had been in his eyes not too long ago had disappeared completely. "Such a pity – you were just beginning to grow on me." It was hard to tell whether he was being sarcastic or not but quite honestly, that was the least of Sarah's concerns right now.
Because it was then when the words finally came to her and she all but shouted them, desperation in her voice. "You have no power over me!"
Nothing happened. Jareth blinked. The clock stopped chiming and the wind blew dramatically around them. The sound of goblins giggling to themselves in the background could be heard. Finally, he spoke, but it was not the reaction Sarah longed for. It didn't defeat him. It didn't change anything. It was too late – the game was over. Maybe he did have no power over her, but he still had Toby. "You are absolutely correct, I don't. You are no longer needed here. I gave you your hours and you failed. You are free to leave." His hand uncurled from the fist and he pointed behind her.
She followed his direction and glanced over her shoulder, seeing that a door had appeared, a door that would most likely take her home, back to her room and back to her life. She refused to walk towards it though – she refused to leave without Toby. Her head turned back to look at him, dark hair falling in front of her eyes. "But that means – "She seemed to stutter around her words, unable to bring herself to say it straight, not wanting to hear the truth. His head tilted to one side and he looked almost bored with the situation, but he remained, waiting for her to finish her sentence anyway. "But that means you'll take Toby and I'll never see him again."
"Yes it does." Jareth didn't bother to hold back or sugar coat it, why should he? He had hardly been a pleasant man before the curse, now he was twice as bad. "It's strange, I feel almost bad about it." He didn't sound like he felt bad at all; his voice was far too carefree and casual. However, as he watched her, he took in how deflated she had suddenly become and compared it to her previous stance. Moments ago, she had seemed so strong, so dauntless and brave. Now she was full of insecurities, weak and vulnerable, her eyes wide and glistening with tears she was desperately holding back as the reality of her situation sunk in. He didn't feel guilty about it. He wasn't sure if he could feel guilty, but he could not deny that he felt...uncomfortable. He wasn't quite sure why. He had looked down at so many different crying faces in the past and felt nothing, but she was different from all of them. She had made it so far – she had shown her heart and her bravery. She had set him an actual challenge. She had forced him to re-order time, turn the world upside down and at one point, she had him believing that he was going to lose. He should have been humiliated by this and his ego was a little bruise, but deep down, he was impressed. It felt cruel to take all away from her and yet, even if he didn't want to, he still had to. It was his curse, after all.
"No you don't!" Sarah yelled at him. "You don't feel anything – you're a...a monster!" She reached out and shoved him, though he barely moved and apparently that wasn't good enough for her because seconds later, her hand raised to slap him but before she could, his own hand reached up and snatched hold of her wrist.
Her words had taken away any feelings of pity he may have been feeling. His eyes hardened as she struggled against his grip, though he didn't let go, only held on tighter causing her to wince. Very slowly, his movements precise, he leant forward to tower over her and let his face hover just inches away from hers. She swallowed hard, her struggling coming to a stop and looked away, refusing to keep eye contact but this only caused him to reach out with his free hand and snatch hold of her chin, forcing her back to look at him. "You should leave, Sarah, before I change my mind and send you into damnation. I have been lenient with your defiance so far but the game is over now." He leaned even closer, their noses practically touching and she sucked in air, refusing to breath. His own hot breath coated her lips as he spoke. "Go home – play with your toys and next time you decide you want to make a wish, think first."
Her lungs screamed at her to release the oxygen she was trapping within it, but she couldn't. She was literally frozen. Her eyes stared up into his and she tried to ignore all the different feelings she felt with him standing so close to her. He scared her, she could not deny that, but she refused to let him see it. She was far too stubborn for that. His fingers pressed into the flesh of her jaw, but she stood firm. She didn't struggle. The hand that he held curled into a fist and she considered wrenching it from his grip and punching him with all the strength she could muster. But then his eyes broke contact and flickered down to her lips. Her cheeks warmed immediately and she wasn't sure why, but a brief feeling of being wanted washed over her. At first it excited her, but then it disgusted her. This was the man who was planning on kidnapping her brother and turning him into a goblin! This was the man who could apparently send her to damnation with a click of his fingers if he wanted! Could he? She wasn't sure if she wanted to find out. The atmosphere around them was tense and even the goblins had stopped their giggling.
And then he laughed and the strange moment was over. He released her wrist first and then her chin, giving her a subtle yet firm push as he did so. Sarah's fingers massaged her wrist, the skin where his fingerprints had been feeling tender and sore, as though they were going to bruise. Her eyes watched him with a mixture of emotion as he stood up straight, picking an imaginary piece of lint off of his clothes and looking so casual that it infuriated her even more. She wanted to scream and shout and hit, but she couldn't. She physically had no fight left within her and deep down she knew it would be hopeless.
"Please." She whispered. Her voice no longer sounding stubborn or demanding like it had been, but instead it was pleading, begging with him. "He's my brother – he's just a little boy. Can't you see that? He's just a baby."
"Perhaps you should have taken better care of him then." Jareth commented and the worse part of it was she knew he was right. She never should have wished him away – she never should have said such cruel things, even if she hadn't meant it.
"But my family needs him. Please – I'll do anything." Sarah hated how meek she had sounded, but she wasn't sure what else to do. She had asked politely at the very beginning and he had said no. She had fought the labyrinth and lost. She had shouted at him and he had overpowered her. She had nothing left to give.
"There's nothing you can do." Jareth commented and once again, he got a strange and uncomfortable feeling in his chest at the sight of her looking so powerless. His tongue tasted his bottom lip, running along it slowly before he slowly began to step away, deciding it was best to leave. "You had your chance. You fought well, but it is time now to end this." He continued to walk backwards, his frame beginning to flicker as he began to fade away. Goblins seemed to come out of nowhere, their wrinkly hands snatching at Sarah's arms, legs and clothes, attempting to drag her backwards towards the door, but she immediately tried to fight them, kicking one away from her.
"No – please!" Her voice was raised again, panic clear in her tone as she noticed Jareth's fading figure. The sleeve of her shirt ripped ever so slightly as a goblin tugged on it too hard, the group of tiny creatures still trying to force her towards the door that she was certain would take her away from him. She continued to fight them and considering she was much bigger than them, she found she was winning, but more of them soon arrived, one of them even going so far as to land on her head and cover her eyes so she couldn't see. She stumbled backwards slightly. "Wait..." She murmured. Her head was spinning. She felt sick. Her stomach churned and there was a nasty lump in her throat. All she could focus on was if she went through that door, Toby would be gone forever; lost and it would be all her fault. "Wait!" She screamed so loud that her voice echoed, the word carrying out three times. The goblins squeaked in surprise and the one perched on her head quickly jumped off, landing on the floor and shying away. They stopped tugging at her and once her vision had stopped blurring she found that Jareth was still standing there, no longer flickering and looking upon her curiously.
Why did she still continue to fight? He didn't understand. He would have gone by now if he was in her shoes – why did she continue to risk herself for this tiny, little baby that she resented so much?
Sarah knew now what she had to do. She knew, but she was struggling to come to terms with it, struggling to bring herself to say it. She wasn't even sure if it would work, but she had to try. Gathering herself and kicking another goblin off of her shoe, she held her head high once more. "Take me instead." Her voice was quiet and shook, but despite this, she meant it. If this would work, she would do it. This was Toby – she had to do it for him.
"You?" Jareth repeated incredulously with a mocking laugh. He had thought she was joking, but seconds passed and he realised by the stern look upon her face as she nodded that she was being genuine. This caught him off guard. His eyebrows drew down into an immediate frown and his head tilted to one side in a questioning manner. Was she honestly offering him a trade? Yes, she truly was and he had no idea what to think of it. Nobody had ever tried this before – nobody had ever shown such selflessness. Usually they just resigned themselves to the truth and wallowed in regret for the rest of their lives. "You would...take his place?" He questioned, as if needing to make sure she truly did mean this. If she did, could he grant it? Yes, he supposed he could. The curse demanded that he snatch innocent souls from their home – that was what the magic fed off and that was what kept his kingdom alive that little bit longer.
The curse also demanded a woman's love should it ever be broken. Did this mean something? He was reminded of his previous thoughts – of his previous questions about whether she could be the one. But that would be ridiculous, even if she did stay, how could he ever convince her to love him and mean it? And if by some chance she did, how could he be so sure he would love her back? He wasn't even sure if he was capable of love anymore. He had been so cold, so distant and so harsh for so long. Even as a normal king, he had behaved unruly and womanised his way through life. But still...the possibility was there and he felt it was his obligation to take that possibility, if not for himself then for the kingdom he had destroyed with his immature behaviour.
"If I did..." Sarah was practically whispering now and a tear had escaped her eye, falling down her left cheek and leaving a stain on her slightly dirtied face. "Would you let him go? Would you send him back home to my parents?" She asked. She needed to know that if she made this deal with him, her brother would be safe. "Would you leave him alone forever?"
"Yes..." Jareth replied slowly and he meant his answer completely. He would have no reason to ever pursue Toby again if this trade was made.
"Then yes, I will take his place. You can do whatever – I don't care. Turn me into a goblin or...or send me into eternal damnation, but just send my brother back!" Sarah was nodding her head furiously as she took a step forward to him. She looked nervous and scared, but at the same time, she looked determined. A voice in her head was telling herself not to do this; that she was signing a deal with the devil, but she ignored it because it was either her or Toby. Toby didn't deserve this. She didn't completely either but maybe some small part of her did because it was her fault they were in this mess in the first place.
Turn her into a goblin? No, that wouldn't do at all. He had enough of those running around. As for the eternal damnation, that had been an idle threat. The closest he could get to eternal damnation was locking her into an oubliette, which would drive her insane eventually though no doubt she would be rescued by one of the new friends she had so easily made despite them knowing the punishments of defying him. He had not been surprised by Sir Didymus' betrayal; it was so like the idiot knight to help a fair maiden – that was what had gotten them into this mess in the first place. No, he would keep her – allow her to stay in the castle. What he would do with her, he was not sure, but if there was the slightest of chances she could be the one to break the curse, he was going to take it. Seducing her would not be hard. Perhaps complicated, similar to that of the Taming of the Shrew due to her stubborn behaviour and need to defy him. However, he was a master in such things and even if wooing her might prove to be impossible in the end, at least he could have some fun in failure. It had been too long since he'd enjoyed the company of a woman – there were the sirens that lived in the waters, but they had a habit of trying to drown him on occasion. He hoped Sarah would not be the same because that would be most disappointing – or incredibly kinky. He fought back the urge to smirk at his own humour.
Taking a step forward, he looked down at her, a smirk playing around on his lips. "You do realise what you are agreeing to, don't you?" He questioned quietly, his voice smooth. "You will have to stay in my castle forever. You will have to learn to follow my laws. And more importantly, you will do as I command, no matter what it is. If you don't, I will waste no time cutting an end to our deal and bringing your brother back to me. I have no time for insolence in my kingdom." With each sentence he seemed to stalk towards her and it wasn't long before he was right in front of her, invading her personal space once more.
Sarah looked down at her feet and considered everything. What would he ask of her, command her to do? She didn't want to think about it. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. In her head, she saw her father, she saw her step mother Irene and she saw Toby. She knew losing either child would upset them, but Toby... he was just a baby and at least with him around, they would be kept occupied from her disappearance. It would be easier to move on from losing her. In her mind, she said goodbye to them, before reopening her eyes and making contact with his cold ones, which seemed to have slightly softened in the past few moments. "You have my word." She whispered. Unsure of what to do to seal the deal, she lifted her arm, holding her hand out towards him for him to shake.
Jareth reached out and took it, but instead of taking it, he lifted it to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. She shivered at the feeling. "Done." He whispered against her skin.