Chapter Seven

Sarah paused outside the throne room doors, took a deep breath, and pushed them open. Her eyes surveyed the familiar room: sunken floor, bits of cloth and debris littering the area, and the large round throne on which the Goblin King was now reclining. Her breath caught in her throat as she took him in. He was wearing a white poet's shirt open at the collar, with grey pants tucked into black boots. His leg was resting carelessly over the right arm of the throne, and he had a bored look on his face. She had thought when she finally saw him again, she would know exactly what she wanted to say, but to her dismay she found that her mind had gone blank at the sight of him. Thankfully, Jareth didn't wait for her to speak first.

"So, what brings you to my Labyrinth for the second time?" he asked, still looking bored.

"You don't seem very surprised to see me. How did you know I was coming?" Sarah replied, when she finally found her voice. Jareth raised an eye brow and gave a wry smile. "Did you think you could run around in my kingdom and escape my notice? What kind of king do you take me for?"

"Oh", was all Sarah could say. She should have figured he would know when she entered his realm. "You didn't answer my question Sarah. Why are you here?" Jareth was now standing and walking toward her. He walked slowly but deliberately. Not like an animal stalking his prey like before, but as one would approach an equal.

"I came here to ask you about the offer you made me when we last met." When he heard this, Jareth stopped and looked at her suspiciously. "If you recall, you rejected that offer when you told me I had no power over you. Why would you think it still stands?" Sarah hesitated before she answered. "I don't think it does, but I want to know if I understood you right. It seemed like you were offering more than just my dreams…" her voice trailed off, not wanting to finish her thought in case she had been wrong in her assumptions.

"Oh, and what else could I have been offering?" Jareth asked, now looking amused. Sarah felt the heat rise in her face, and she knew she was beet red. With her stomach twisted in knots and her palms starting to sweat, Sarah blurted out what she wanted to know: "Were you telling me you loved me when you offered me the crystal?" She couldn't look at his face when she said the words, so she looked at the ground and waited for his reply. After what seemed like an eternity, Jareth finally answered her.

"Sarah, when you beat my Labyrinth you not only defeated me but you earned my respect; I won't trifle with you because of this. I do have feelings for you, but they cannot be acted on at this time." Sarah felt her heart leap at his words, but she also felt the nagging feeling that her hopes were about to be disappointed. "What do you mean, they can't be acted on at this time?"

Jareth sighed and asked, "How old are you my dear?"

"Fourteen", Sarah answered. "But I'll be fifteen in three months."

When she said this, Jareth visibly cringed. "Perhaps I was a little over zealous while I was trying to win the game." Sarah felt like the world was falling down around her. So that was it: She had been obsessing for over a month over a man who had only been playing a game. She felt a dampness on her face and realized she was crying. She quickly turned her back to him and wiped away the tears. There was no way she would give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

"Sarah, please don't misunderstand me." Jareth was now standing so close behind her she jumped at his voice. "It was wrong of me to make you that offer at your present age. You don't really understand what accepting it means." Sarah spun around to face him. "Don't talk down to me because of my age. I know what you were offering, and I'm more than ready to accept it."

"Oh you are, are you? You're ready to say goodbye to normal life and everything you're used to and live here with goblins and monsters?" Sarah opened her mouth to argue, but Jareth cut her off. "You're ready to leave your parents and brother forever, and never see them again?" When Sarah hesitated to answer, Jareth gave a knowing smile and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You need to have some life experiences first. You need to grow up, spend time with your family, and graduate high school."

Still fighting back tears, Sarah asked, "So you're saying you want me to wait three years and come back?"

"At least", Jareth replied, studying her face. "I want you to be certain this is what you want."

"And when I want to come back, how will I do it? Hoggle's already told me he wouldn't help me anymore."

With a wave of his hand, Jareth produced a crystal. "When you are ready to come back, hold this up to the light, look into it, and think of me. You will be with me in an instant." He placed the crystal in her hand, and she was surprised at the weight of it. It was cool to the touch, and the light from the window made it seem to glow. "How can I be sure you will want me to come back after so many years?" Sarah asked, still looking at the orb in her hand.

"If you don't believe my words, believe this." Jareth placed both hands on either side of her face and lifted it until she was looking into his eyes. He held her gaze and leaned closer and closer until he claimed her lips with his own. Sarah was filled with the euphoria that naturally follows a first kiss, but it was mingled with sadness since it was also a goodbye. Her heart beat wildly as she leaned into the kiss, and when she opened her eyes she was surprised to find she was standing in her room back home, alone and still holding on to the crystal. A lone tear drifted down her cheek, but she wiped it away and turned toward her closet. When she looked inside she found a heavy wooden box on the top shelf, and she carefully placed the crystal inside. After pushing the box to the back of the shelf, Sarah closed the closet door and whispered, "Get ready Jareth. In three years we will meet again."

The End

A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who read my story, and to my three reviewers. It was great to see people take an interest in my very first (and most likely last) attempt at writing. I hope you all have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!