Disclaimer: I do not own Labyrinth

Summary: Irene is confused by Sarah's sudden change of heart. Sarah/Irene mother daughter bonding and hints of JS.

It was a normal day when the epiphany came, a dreary Tuesday evening with the threat of rain hanging overhead. Other than the quiet rumbling of a burgeoning storm, the only sounds to be heard were the crinkling of her husband turning the pages of his newspaper, merry, contented gurgling from her son as he tried futilely to repeat what he heard on the show he was engrossed in and the almost inaudible rustle of the needle and thread she was using to darn a tear in Toby's sleep suit.

The only sounds. Irene abruptly realized she hadn't seen or heard a whisper of her unruly stepdaughter for some hours.

With the air of one expecting a sneak attack on their person, she furtively glanced behind her, half expecting to see Sarah scowling at her. But the girl wasn't there. She had come straight home from school, instead of spending hours on end in that little park she favoured, reciting lines from the worn red book with peeling gold lettering she kept close to her at all times like a talisman.

She had been doing that a lot lately.

When they had arrived home the last time Sarah had babysat Toby, the night that Irene saw that no matter what she did, she would be just another stereotypical stepmother from one of the her fairytales, she was anticipating a sullen girl to greet them. She hadn't seen Sarah right then, but had checked on Toby, finding the old bear Lancelot in his cot, no doubt placed there by his sister, in an uncommon act of generosity that she had been too tired to puzzle out just then.

She decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and avoid spoiling a good night with angry words and biting remarks. The first and last she saw of Sarah was just before they retired to bed, and they collided in the kitchen when she came down to get a drink of water. A tense moment ensured, then goodnights were exchanged and nothing more was said.

Irene forced herself not to look up to see whether there was an axe dangling above, ready to fall.

The day after was peculiar, to say the least. Sarah came down to breakfast on time, greeted her father and Irene, as well as Toby, whose hair she ruffled affectionately as though she hadn't resented his existence on this planet only the day before. It was entirely surreal, and she was almost glad to see Sarah going to school, despite the pleasantness of the meal.

She came home straight after school, and after hearing crashing and noises from her room, she tentatively knocked on Sarah's door, not expecting an answer. Irene did get an answer, that she was cleaning out her room, and the woman had watched in shock as many items of supposedly sentimental value were packed into garbage bags with hardly a second thought.

It seemed too good to last, this sudden maturity. But last it did.

Time went by, and while Sarah gave up going to the park, to their relief. It was unsafe after dark, but these words of reason had never seemed to penetrate her brain before. She had brushed it off as being 'unfair' and carried on going despite their protests. Her schoolwork improved, she started bringing friends home on occasion, and even went on a few dates. There was never a second date, but it was heartening nonetheless, and evidence was Sarah was aware of other people her age.

She became a normal girl overnight, and Irene didn't know what to think of it.

Giving up on her sewing, for she was too preoccupied to make any progress, Irene set it aside and rose gracefully, making for Sarah's room. She knocked once, twice to be sure she had heard, and surprisingly, still, she heard a voice call out to enter.

Sarah wasn't looking her way when she came in, she had her head buried inside the wardrobe and was making frustrated sounds, the kind normally translated into intelligible speech as 'I have nothing to wear'.

"Going out tonight?" Irene asked casually, knowing that she had specifically told Sarah that she wouldn't be needed to babysit for another couple of days in hopes that she would plan ahead. Her stepmother hadn't given up on finding her a boyfriend yet, and didn't quite dare to possibly ruin their newfound truce by setting her up with a son of one of her friends. Sarah was unlike other girls, and she was learning to respect that, and be more subtle in any matchmaking attempts.

"Yeah, and all my clothes make me look fat, boring or so out of style even I wouldn't be caught dead wearing them," she huffed. Irene smiled, this was her forte, if Sarah would let her assist.

"Can I help?" she asked. The girl looked to her, and nodded.

"Sure, I mean, you always look so good and I can't really go wrong with this if you choose…" she trailed off as the older woman moved to stand beside her.

"Thank you dear. Let's see…oh have tried this? You'll look like a princess!" she exclaimed, unearthing a shimmery, white dress. She thought a flash of some emotion passed Sarah's features in the pause between her agreement and subsequent smile.

"A princess huh? Maybe I'll attract a king wearing it," she chuckled a trifle nervously.

Irene looked strangely at her. "Don't you mean a prince?" Sarah's countenance turned sombre, and her eyes flickered toward the tree outside her window.

"No, I mean a king," she said wistfully. Her stepmother frowned thoughtfully, considering that Sarah was thinking of a real boy, or man it would seem. She didn't seem infatuated, only sad, and perhaps a little in love. She sighed, those were the kinds of questions reserved for closer people than they yet were, but maybe the day would come when Sarah would let her in. Until then, she could be patient.

Reaching out, she snared a pair of heels that reasonably matched the dress and dumped them on top. Sarah startled, and then looked oddly grateful for the distraction from her thoughts.

"I get it, I'll go change. Will you stay, I want your opinion?" she called. Irene murmured an affirmative and sank down to the bed to wait, thinking about Sarah's words, and finding her mouth a little dry when the teenager returned looking more regal and refined in the outfit than she could have envisioned.

'Perhaps I meant a queen too, and not a princess…"