A/N: First of all, thanks for checking this out. I started a previous Labby fic, and it's still up but it's actually horrible. At least I think so, therefore I am writing a new one. Disclaimers: The title was taken from a quote by William Butler Yeats' "The Land of Heart's Desire."
This story will be rated M for safety as there may be more mature content the further we go. I do not own ANYTHING pertaining to The Labyrinth, I only wish I did. Or, I'll settle for being Sarah and righting her wrongs... What? Also, though I am going to try to keep this as canon as possible, it may be a tad OOC in some random places.
The muse came from Breaking Benjamin's Breath and Give Me a Sign, so check those two out before reading.
The story will be in third POV for better understanding of all characters. I do hope you enjoy this little tale, it will be a bit dark, but what would the Labyrinth be without a dark side? Please R&R to help me better this little ditty!
When any one happens to fall, he springs up again, and, turning round three times to the right, digs the earth with a sword or knife, and takes up a turf, because, they say, the earth reflects his shadow to him (or they imagine there is a spirit in the earth) : and, if he falls sick within two or three days after, a woman skilled in those shatters is sent to the spot, and there says, ' I call thee P. from the east, west, south, and north, from the groves, woods, rivers, marshes, fairies white, red, black,' and, after uttering certain short prayers, she returns home to the sick person, to see whether it be the distemper they call esane, which they suppose inflicted by the fairies, and, whispering in his ear another short prayer, with the pater-noster, puts some burning coals into a cup of clear water, and forms a better judgment of the disorder than most physicians.
~"Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish" - Camden
Chapter 1: Shell Of The Beauty
Sarah had been home from her adventures in the Labyrinth for nearly ten years. In fact, it would be ten years in three days. And within those ten years she had slowly become sicker and sicker. No doctor in the world could account for her symptoms. They were utterly strange and seemed to come on out of nowhere. There was no cure, because surely this was a new disease, and therefore Sarah had no hope.
Through the years as she became more and more ill Toby grew and grew. He was now ten years old and nearly as tall as his sister. Up to her shoulder in fact. And where he was fair in complexion she was dark. And where he was lively and healthy, she was not.
Up until recently Sarah was able to perform menial tasks, like online classes and ghosting about her day. She'd wake up in the morning and crawl out of bed to have her vitamins and her breakfast and then get to work on the computer for her teaching degree that she sadly didn't believe she'd be alive to see. Then she'd take more vitamins at lunch time and rest. After her rest it would be time for her exercises to keep her muscles from failing on her. And finally, dinner, vitamins and bathing. Once this tediously draining task would be finished she'd pour herself into bed.
This went on for the past three months straight, and each morning it seemed harder and harder for her to believe she was alive and not dead and in her own personal Hell for wishing her brother away.
Long gone were the days where she would sit at her vanity and speak with her friends from the Labyrinth. She missed them terribly, but she didn't want them to see her the way she was. She had lost so much weight, and she was as pale as a corpse. The dark circles under her eyes nearly looked bruised and her hair and eyes seemed to have faded in color. The shine had left her raven black hair and the brilliant green of her eyes seemed more like a faded memory.
She had her suspicions as to why she was so sick, but she didn't want to believe it. Nor did she have the energy to call on Him and ask him if she were right. She couldn't face him, not in his absolute beautiful glory as he would sneer at her and pity her, and pity was not something she accepted, not even when she was sure her days were numbered.
Though her sickness had originally taken her on at a snail's pace, the closer it got to her ten year anniversary of her championing the Labyrinth in the Underground, it seemed to come on in a fury. This was why she was thinking of that place more and more and looking at Toby strangely more and more. Until this night. Finally Toby had enough and pretended to read his comic instead of glare at his sick sister as she spied him from across the hall in her room. Once the door had closed he got up in a huff and headed over, knocking once and bursting in.
"Seriously, Sarah, what gives?" He frowned as he watched her jump and moan. Perhaps he shouldn't have frightened her in her state, but she was really getting on his nerves.
"Toby, you scared me!" Sarah whimpered as she tried to get more comfortable in bed. "And what exactly are you talking about?"
"You're staring. All the time you're staring. And it's annoying, you'd think I had a second head or something. What's that all about?" He put his hands on his hips, trying to show her that he meant business.
"I'm sorry, Tobs. It's just that, never mind." She sighed and laid back against her pillows.
"No, I want answers. I know you're sick and I know. . . Look, I'm not just some stupid kid. I know Mom and Dad are worried about you and I know the doctors don't know what's wrong with you, but can't you treat me like you're normal. Like you did before you got real sick?" Toby was asking this not just because it was incredibly annoying, but because he was scared, too. He just wanted this to be as normal as possible, and this weird behavior wasn't helping. At all.
"You're right. I'm sorry I've been acting really weird." A ghost of a smile graced Sarah's lips as she patted the spot next to her for her brother to join her. "It's just that you remind me of something that happened a long time ago. Something I regret in many ways and something I am reliving more now than ever before."
"What is it? Is it a secret? I can keep a secret, sis." Toby's eyes glowed, this was getting interesting fast!
"It is a secret and if I tell you then you must promise me not to be angry and not to tell another soul. Promise?" She asked holding out a frail pinky. She was too old for pinky promises, but Toby wasn't and if they were going to be talking about The Underground, well... Perhaps it wasn't as childish of a gesture as she originally thought.
Once the pinky promise was made and she let the silence impregnate the room to an almost hum, she began. Sick or not, Sarah was a good story teller. "When Dad re-married Karen," at this Toby frowned slightly, so she back tracked. "I mean, Mom, when he re-married Mom and you were born I obviously was no longer the only child. Not to mention, they liked to go out nearly every weekend and they expected me to babysit. Looking back now I realize it was just childish jealousy. I didn't have full attention of my father and I didn't really ever have plans, so instead of being grown up about it I took it out on Ka- Mom and you.
So, on one particular night when I had been chastised for being home late after running home in a rain storm I reverted back to my immature behavior and pretended a certain Goblin King from a certain red leather bound book was real and as you cried in your crib I, well, I wished you away." Sarah grimaced. Toby stared on in confused silence and blinked a few times before speaking.
"Uh, so?" He shrugged. Sarah just stared at him, but then realized she did leave it at quite an open ended part of the story.
"So? So - the Goblin King came and took you away!" Sarah exclaimed, and then had to try to recover from a coughing fit before she continued. "I told him I didn't really mean it, I mean really, who believes that fairy tales are real?"
"Wait, you're serious?" Toby gasped. "You really did wish me away to a goblin king?" He seemed angry, which she didn't blame him for but he did promise. "What is wrong with you? I could have been killed or turned into a goblin or something awful like that!"
"Toby. . . you promised. Also, as I said, who would have believed it to actually happen?"
"Well, I guess you have a point." The young boy nodded in agreement. Really, who would have?
"So, I had a choice, I could either take a crystal gift - not an ordinary gift for an ordinary girl - and forget you or attempt to conquer Jareth's labyrinth."
"Jareth?" Toby gasped as strange pictures of memories flooded behind his eyes. Sitting with a bunch of odd looking creatures. Being in the arms of a strange looking man who doted on him and sang to him and called him 'Jareth'. "You remind me of the babe. . ." He whispered under his breath.
"What did you just say?" Sarah snapped, her eyes wide with fear and wonderment.
"Huh, no I didn't say anything!" Toby blushed and found that his sister's blanked was incredibly facinating.
"Shut up! You said something, and I want to know what it was, now!" Sarah demanded and Toby gave in repeating himself and watching his sister's eyes tear up. "You remember?"
"I mean, not until you said his name. I've had weird dreams about what I'm remembering now, but I just thought it was my comics or something. Don't flip out, Sar, you're too sick to flip out!" Concern morphed his face and he rubbed her arm to try comforting her.
"Anyway. . . I found you in the Escher room he gave me another ultimatum. I was only fifteen and you were still at stake, and when he offered me my dreams. . . And he had re-ordered time and turned the World upside down for me. . . But, I couldn't give up on saving you when I got that far. I turned him down to bring you home." She finished. They stared at each other in absolute silence, but trying to see what exactly was behind the other's eyes.
"Awe, Sarah, if you would have chosen either way he would have sent me home!" Toby sighed exasperated. "He wouldn't have kept me after you won his challenge, that question wasn't part of the test!" He wasn't sure how he knew that, but he just did. Sarah just stared at her baby brother having no words to use as her mind failed her. "Is that why you're sick, Sarah? Because you have a broken heart?"
"Absolutely not!" Suddenly able to speak she scoffed at her brother. "Don't be silly! The Goblin King is a mean, nasty man with only himself to think about. I'm sick because I'm sick and I will get better if it's the last thing I do." She assured him.
"I don't know, Sar. . . " Toby winced.
"Would it make you feel better if I called on a friend and asked them what they thought?" She smiled warmly. Toby was gaping at her now.
"You can call on them? Like, say their name and poof?"
"Sort of. Would you like to meet one of the friends that helped me save you?" She grinned, feeling better than she had in a long time. She had to push the notion that being away from the Underground was why she was sick even more, now.
"Yeah!" Toby grinned and bounced a little on the bed. Sarah gingerly sat up and went to her vanity, hoping after ten years they would still come.
"Hoggle, I need you." She whimpered. The words were more true than she had really thought moments ago. As the seconds passed she became more and more upset. Perhaps she had taken too long to talk to them this way and the portal or whatever it was had closed. Or maybe Jareth had shut her out for good finally. As she turned to apologize for getting Toby's hopes up the mirror began to shimmer and her old friend smiled back out at her.
Toby, naturally, gasped at the creature before him. To anyone who didn't know Hoggle he would seem repulsive, perhaps frightening. He was short and stout, with rough leather tan skin. Warts speckled his complexion, but his large brown eyes showed nothing but kindness and love for his long lost first ever friend. But, once he got a good look at his Sarah he frowned and grew concerned.
"Sarah?" He whispered. He couldn't believe his eyes. Certainly he expected changes since he hadn't spoken to her in quite a long time, but he never expected to be staring at a shell of the beauty he had known. "Are you OK?"
"I'm fine, I want you to meet someone." She smiled and motioned to her brother.
"That can't be!" Hoggle laughed happily. "Young Toby?"
"Hi!" Toby blushed. "You remember me?"
"Course I remember you! Never metcha, but I remember you! Yer sister sure did a number on the King, that's fer sure!" Hoggle chuckled again. After eyeing Sarah again he rang his hands before continuing. "Eh, you wouldn't happen to want to tell an ol' friend what's truly wrong with Sarah, would ya?"
"Oh, she's just real sick." Toby began.
"Toby!" Sarah exclaimed, causing her to go through another coughing fit. Hoggle looked on helplessly and grew angry. He was certain he knew what her sickness was from, and he'd have words with the cause as soon as he could. Bog or no bog!
"Anyway, from what I hear she's been sick, only over the last few months she's gotten a lot worse. No one can figure out what's wrong." Toby frowned trying to keep his emotions at bay. Though he was young, he could still feel real big emotions and the thought of losing his sister because no one could find a cure broke his heart into tiny pieces.
"Is this true, Sarah?" Hoggle asked sadly and Sarah just worried her lip. "Sarah?"
"Yes, OK? I've been sick for years now, and yes it is getting much worse, but the doctors are working hard and I'm sure they'll find a solution soon." She tried to smile and fake hopefulness but Hoggle just grumbled.
"You should rest, Sarah, I'll be back to check on you and I'll even bring the others." He promised and once he said good night to Toby he was gone.
Jareth crouched on his balcony railing as he did nearly every night staring into a crystal with a frown etched on his handsome face. His miss-matched eyes - one cerulean blue, the other burnt brown - watching intently as he once again peered into his beloved's life. This time he was angry, mainly at himself, but he would be taking it out on that half-wit Hog Head when he 'valiantly' demanded answers. Though Jareth inadvertently may have been the cause of Sarah's mysterious illness he wasn't going to be answering to anyone as lowly as that little dwarf.
And for Sarah to still hate him? Well, that was taking away too much of her much needed energy. Perhaps instead of throwing Hedgewart into the Bog of Eternal Stench as he so presumed would happen, he could use him. Perhaps with a little encouragement to the boy Sarah could be wished away and everything could be set to rights. Her health, his mind, and their fateful love.
He knew that was a stretch. It would prove difficult to even get her back in the Underground as her will was as strong as his, and if she didn't want to go she wouldn't be persuaded. And even if he did get her to his castle there was no telling what she would do then. Of course, not much being that she was so sick, but once the healers cured her she'd be back to her old self and her old self didn't want to have anything to do with the Goblin King.
Then again, as she was telling little Toby of her adventures Jareth couldn't help but pick up on the hints of regret that surfaced every so often, especially at the end. Had he heard her right he would have believed she regretted not taking his offer. And what Sarah didn't know was that he would gladly offer it to her again, for he wasn't ever again whole after she left him there in the Escher room.
As he thought of all of these things he transformed himself into a tawny owl and transported himself to perch on the branch of a tree outside of Sarah's room. This took some time, and when he arrived Hog Brain had already left her and Toby was just about to turn out her light and close her door.
Lithely he flew to her window and perched there to look in on his love. In person, with his enhanced sight, he could see just what troubled the dwarf this evening. She was too thin, too pale, and had a very difficult time breathing as she slept. As he turned to leave her in peace and plot out her return to his kingdom and to her old health she stirred.
"Jareth. . ." She breathed, and began to cough. As she sat up gasping for air and fumbling about to find her cup of water on her nightstand he took off into the night sky. He was sure he heard her gasp, but couldn't decipher if it was from the coughing fit or if she had seen him as he flew off. All he could think at that moment was that she dreamed of him. He had renewed hope and with that, unbeknownst to Sarah, so did she.