Rites of Passage by Betty Bokor
Jareth/Sarah. When Sarah is called to save the King, her life takes a whole new course, again.
Spoilers: The movie, the book, and some of the Return series.
Disclaimer: The Labyrinth original characters belong to The Jim Henson Company and Lucasfilms Ltd. This was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt at copyright infringement has been made.

Rites of Passage

Chapter 1

He was on his way back to his realm, when he felt it for the first time.

He had come to the Aboveground to fix the memories of several humans, after having secured another child for his own people. Now, he needed a secluded place to enter his kingdom, away from the view of the always curious humans, and the dense forest by the public park in this little town in the suburbs seemed to be the perfect place.

He knew the toddler would be better off, without a doubt, since he was going to make sure, as always, that a good family would get custody of her. No more beatings, no more abuse of any kind.

He was feeling satisfied with his work, when he became aware of the new sensation again. It was something akin to a tug, a pull, a force that compelled him to turn around and look. But he was in flight and he was not certain that would be a wise decision. He kept on flying until he reached the closest tree branch and he settled gracefully on it.

From his new vantage point, he looked back toward the area where the source of his odd agitation seemed to be. The feeling assaulted him again and a sudden dizziness threatened to dislodge him from his perch.

He spread out his wings for a second and regained his equilibrium. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He could still feel the same and it was getting stronger. He reopened his eyes and looked down.

A girl. There was a girl dancing close to the trees and approaching his position with charming movements. A shaggy dog was following her with excitement.

A girl. Why would a girl cause such feelings on him? He wondered for a moment. He was, after all, an extraordinarily sensitive being, able to recognize a myriad of feelings among humans and fae, even among his own subjects and other creatures that inhabited the Underground. But this felt different, new… and personal, as if meant especially for him.

There was no logical explanation. Unless… She was a female after all. Young but, nevertheless, female.

His father had once talked to him about it. A wondrous feeling. An amazing sensation. The certainty of having found the true, the only soul mate. Just as he had felt when he had met his mother. Though she had been the third wife his father had taken, he had always emphasized to his younger son how much she meant to him.

But this was a girl, no more than a teenager. She could not be his soul mate.

He closed his eyes again. He could still feel it. It was intense, powerful, stunning. He liked it. He had never felt anything like that before. In more than 1,600 years, he had never even believed he was capable of feeling something like that.

But this was a girl.What was he going to do about it?

He decided to watch her and enjoy the wonderful sensations while leaving any further decisions for later.

"Fifteen! Can you believe it, Merlin?" The girl was saying as she danced around her dog. "I'm fifteen today. In three years I'll be eighteen and then… Out of here! Forever! Away from her… and my dad… and the whiny little brat! And I'll be a famous actress, like Mom." She gestured with her hands. "I can see the marquee on the theatre with my name on it: Sarah Williams…" she finished in a dreamy voice.

The sheepdog barked enthusiastically.

The girl kneeled in front of her dog. "And you're coming with me. No matter what."

Then, she abruptly sat down on the grass and looked pensive. "I wish I could take Toby with me, too… He's not that bad, after all. And here, with her, he's not going to get any better." She sighed and lay back on the lawn. She looked up and saw the white barn owl on the tree branch.

"Hello, there!" She said with a smile. "Isn't it a bit early for you to be out and about?"

The owl remained immobile.

"Actually, it's getting late for me," she added as she stood up. "Come on, Merlin. Mom and Jeremy will be by to take me to celebrate and I want to be ready." She started walking away from the tree where the owl was perched. "I'm dying to know what they've planned; surely something much better than what Dad and Karen would have done."

She hurried away as the owl watched. He was feeling confused and somewhat angered. If she was the chosen one, if she was to be his soul mate, why had she been introduced to him so early? There was nothing he could do as long as she was that young. He could not introduce himself to her or try to woo her into coming to his world. She was a child, an immature girl who would need many more human years to even being close to whom he needed to be his queen.

He would have to talk to the Wiseman about this. He would have to find a way to prepare her for her destiny.

A. N.: If you would like to see the pictures that accompany this story, though they are not all up yet, you can find them at BettyBokor at Deviantart. The right link is on my profile.