There was a lengthy creaking sound as Sarah tried to close the door behind her as gently as possible. The air was distilled by silence, making the soft click of the latch echo with an almost intruding resonance. She let it be and moved further into the room, and glanced over at the wall.
It was about seven-thirty now, and so the silence was expected. The castle always seemed to quiet down around this time. It was peaceful, and though it was hollow, it was never empty. She heard the metronome of clocks humming in the background, their mellow voices a familiar and sating sound.
She drifted through the room towards the wall of windows. The sun was starting to set, its fading rays casting a golden glare into the room. She pulled on a cord that drew a large curtain to block them out. It was semi-dark now, but there was still a clear visibility. She looked over at the hearth, her wordless desire commanding it to life.
The crackle of fire and the ticking of clocks. This was the sound of her home.
She let out a small sigh as she glanced around. Jareth wasn't back yet, but he would be soon. She thought about ordering them dinner, but had a feeling that once he came back he would be feeling far from hungry.
It'd been about two months since Sarah had wished herself back. Two months, which felt like two seconds and two years all at once. It was such a short span of time; her life had settled into a state of pleasant normalcy quicker than she could have ever expected. With everything that'd happened...she never thought her life could truly be settled. She moved to pick up bits of clothing that had been littering the floor.
When the commotion of their marriage finally passed, Sarah worried about what all of that really meant. Yes, she and Jareth were reunited, and yes they were married; but that made her a Queen now, and she had absolutely no idea how to be one. That worry faded quickly however, as it seemed, for the time being at least, that Jareth was fervent in the belief that she should play the pampered house wife.
For a long while, Sarah gave in to being coddled by his paranoia. She knew she would never be able to comprehend what it felt like to be away and left in constant conflict for fifty years, and therefore was all too willing to cut him whatever slack he needed to get his bearings back. For the first week, even after their marriage, he rarely let her out of his sight. She knew he was worried, and had good reason, but hovering over her constantly was neither good for them nor the kingdom. But as time went on, the longer their serenity spread, the more Jareth had begun to loosen up.
With that said, she still wasn't allowed to go anywhere without either he or an escort; and at her request, that escort had most often been Maab. Again, Sarah didn't mind his overprotectiveness, and actually found it rather endearing. She'd seen the pain he'd gone through in losing her, and she fully understood why he wanted that to never happen again (neither did she) -with Severin gone or otherwise.
She'd tried, on multiple occasions, to ask him what he wanted of her, if he wanted anything of her. She was Queen now, and she figured that meant she now had some responsibilities of some kind. While Jareth applauded her eagerness, he nearly always deflected her from the conversation -she knew this much. He wanted to coddle her, to keep her all to himself and know that she was safe. It had only been a few weeks, so Sarah wasn't quite fed up with this behavior yet; but she knew she would have to put a stop to it before much longer. While it made her feel warm and fuzzy to have Jareth treat her as if she were made of paper, the reality was, that she was indeed not made of paper. He spoke so often of how much he adored her spirit, and she wanted so much to tell him that if that were true, he could not keep it caged forever, for fear of him smothering it to death.
She dropped her bundle of clothing in a hamper and sat on the edge of the bed.
Two months. Two months she'd been back, and each day just seemed to be better than the last. In Jareth's effort to atone for sins Sarah had already resolved him of, to her joy, he had given her the liberty to visit her friends whenever she so chose. He'd even gotten over enough of his fear to let her outside again, though she would have be under the constant watch of Maab and who knew however many more secret guards, of course.
She'd met with them about six times since she'd been back, and was so excited to introduce them all to Maab. Their first meeting had been a colorful one, but Maab soon found her awkward place amongst them. Maab, the timid little woman from servant affairs, was so embarrassed to have been commended by Sir Didymus for her efforts to protect her, nearly squeezed to death by Ludo, and given an awkward shake of the hand by Hoggle. Sarah was concerned at first, and wondered if Hoggle was feeling a little jealous and/or threatened by the addition of another friend to the pack. But, after the second and third visit, it seemed to her that it was something totally different. Sarah noticed, with a sly little smile, the various times when Hoggle and Maab would wander off to the side. She noticed the way they talked, how Hoggle would laugh and scratch the back of his head as he kicked around some dirt, and the way Maab would smile like a silly school girl, searching for his shy gaze. Sarah would gleam and grin and turn her attention away, content with her own giddiness that the two may be developing a little crush on one another. It was a little strange observing Goblin romance, but she hoped it led to something more. They both deserved happiness, and how great would it be if they found it with each other? Everyone else, including them, seemed to be oblivious to this strange little development, but Sarah knew better. Everything was just working out so wonderfully...She never thought it would be so simple.
But of course, with everything being so wonderful and perfect, Sarah couldn't help but feel that something was somehow amiss. As the days wore on, as she sank further and further into her happily ever after with her new family and friends, she couldn't help but think of her old family and friends. It had only been a few weeks, but already Sarah was starting to miss them terribly. It wasn't as if she was second-guessing her decision to come back, but she did feel a sense of anxiety whenever the urge arose to ask about it.
It wasn't until about a month ago, after her fourth visit with her friends, that she was given the answer to her question.
She'd just gotten back from lunch in the gardens and, as it had quickly become ritual, Jareth was there to greet her and make sure all went well. As it often happened, he would then find himself distracted from returning to his duties. And while she often lectured him on shucking his duties for her, she had no qualms with this one. As they laid in bed, his hand drawing circles on her shoulder, Sarah finally found the courage to voice the one remaining blip of concern disturbing her peace -and was nothing less than shocked by his response.
She'd wrapped her arms around him, snuggling close as she stealthily voiced her concern. She hadn't even made it into a question, hadn't asked when or if or how...all she said was how she would have liked for her family to be a part of her happiness, and how much she missed them now that she had her memories back. She thought she'd misheard him when he glanced down and asked if she wanted to go pay them a visit right then and there.
Now, Sarah had tried to understand the logic he threw at her, but no matter how she wrapped her head around it, it never made complete sense. She told him she didn't understand, and asked him why he was so willing to do this for her when it was such a burden on him physically. She said she would never compel him, with or without the words I wish. He smiled at her like he had a dirty little secret just waiting to crawl out from behind his teeth.
Apparently, when Sarah had wished herself back, she had decreed herself content to only visit her family once a year. And, as Jareth quite vaguely explained, the transition of time between the Aboveground and the Underground was anything but fixed. As she understood, one month in the Above was roughly equal to one year Under. And so, (this is the part where he lost her, as she had a sinking feeling he was twisting his words to better suit her) in some totally paradoxical roundabout way, that meant that she would be able to visit her parents, not once a year, but around once every month.
Jareth had expected her to bounce up and down with glee at this reveal, as he had been anticipating this moment for a while now, and was somewhat concerned when she drew her brow on him, looking confused and disconcerted. Of course it didn't make sense to her, and in all honesty it wasn't supposed to. He couldn't explain it to her even if he tried, and that only had Sarah accusing him of bending the rules and simply offering to take her back more often because it might please her, and this he did not deny. But either way, that was the logic he gave her, and she couldn't have been more enthralled by it.
And so, Sarah found herself sitting on she and Jareth's bed almost exactly one month later. They'd just gotten back from another visit Aboveground. Because of the time flux, it was Toby's birthday again, but this time, she'd gotten to stay longer than an hour or so. She worried for Jareth of course, still hanging on to some guilt that he was only doing this to please her and not because he actually cared about spending time with her family, but he seemed sincere enough. He always kept to himself for the most part, but he was nice to Toby, and engaged in conversation whenever her dad or Karen landed an eye on him. And she loved it, absolutely loved it. It was so out of character for him. It was such a twilight zone seeing him in Aboveground attire, conferring and conversing with others like he was just a normal guy. A normal guy who happened to be her husband. A normal guy who happened to have the power to change reality. A normal guy who loved her more than life itself.
She found herself smiling down at the floor as she thought over the day's events. They'd gotten back only a few minutes ago, but already she was missing him. Part of the deal of bringing her back and forth so often was that she was not allowed, under any circumstance, to leave his side until his energy was fully restored. She took no issue with this, as the last time he did this for her she had been kidnapped and tortured.
She headed straight to their room once they returned, anticipating all the fun she would have trying to keep him awake and active for as long as possible, but apparently Jareth had some last minute things that needed settling before he disappeared for the remainder of the night. He swore he wouldn't be long... She looked up to a clock, and saw that she had been sitting there lost in thought for about fifteen minutes now. She frowned, and stood from the bed.
She didn't question that he was late, she had no reason to, but she was worried that he was off somewhere in a weakened state. He'd told her, countless times, that he'd been working on a way to up his stamina and for her not to worry, though she did all the same.
She began to pace aimlessly around the room, bored and fidgety -a dangerous combination. She made her way to his desk and threw herself back in the wide office chair that sat behind it. She swiveled around for a moment, before quickly growing bored with that as well. She sighed again, and looked out over the contents of his desk. He never really had much work on this desk, most of it was kept in his study. And that was why the small brown notebook that rested in the center of the desktop seemed so out of place.
She narrowed her eyes on it and cocked her head to one side. She'd never seen this notebook before, and wondered why it was there. Jareth was always very strict about keeping tidy and being organized when it came to business matters... She picked it up and brushed her hand against its face. There was something...peculiar about it. It was small, about as small as the diary she remembered keeping back in the Above, and it was bound in a thick leather; leather that was worn and torn at its binding and corners. As she ran her fingers across it, she found it curious that it wasn't dust that stained her fingers, but soot. She brushed her fingers clean and carried on investigating.
Something else she found strange about it, was that it had no title or text on its front or back of any kind. She cracked open the binding, but looked up on reflex, guiltily surveying the room to see if Jareth would pop in at that very moment. When it seemed the coast was clear, she looked back down and stuck her nose in the pages.
She expected to find a title page upon opening it, or maybe a table of contents, an acknowledgements page or an index or something. But she didn't. She flipped through the first few pages, and was confused to find they were completely blank. She continued to flip through, making remarks about how brittle and worn the parchment was, but then stopped at the first sight of text.
She drew her brow tight and scowled, not sure of what she was seeing.
I'll start this as day 1, although that isn't true. We've been out here for months now, but this is the first time I've taken ink to this book, and so it becomes day 1.
_I don't know what to write in this, aside from saying as much...and it's asinine that I'm sitting here even trying. Geoff thinks this will be good for me, but most of his advice makes no sense these days. We're in the middle of a war, this is hardly the time or place to be scribbling nonsense. _I don't know what to say. He tells me to start by recording the events of my day. I don't know why, but he thinks that will help. I can begin by saying that Geoff gave me this book three weeks ago, and this is the first time I've had the patience to even open it. I don't see what good this will do...why do I even bother? I should have burned this by now. This is so... stupid.
Sarah's eyes grew wide, and then wider still. She lowered the book and stared blankly at the table. This wasn't just any notebook...this was Jareth's journal...one he'd kept during the war... What was it doing out here? Would he be angry if he caught her reading it? She felt a profound urge to put it back where she found it and pretend this never happened, but there was no way her curiosity would let her do that. Jareth wasn't here after all. Maybe she could get away with just a few more pages... She sank down into the chair and went to flip to the next page, but saw that the next several had been torn out. The next closest was a few days later...
I've spent three months in this tent, listening to nothing but Geoff nag about this stupid journal. He continues to claim that writing in this will be beneficial to me, but I have nothing to say to a book.
I've come in here and sat down and tried to do as he says, but it seems every word I write is wrong. I don't see the purpose in this. I was sure to burn this tonight, its presence on my desk irritates me, but there was something he said that I can't shake. I come back here every night. And every night I'm greeted by this little brown book. I feel as though its presence taunts me. It seems as though this book is yet another battle I must conquer...It's so much easier when your enemy has a sword at your throat.
Sarah flipped the page, and was surprised when the next entry was almost two weeks later...
Upon insatiable peer pressure, I am recording the events of the day: Our scouts have sent reports of activity stirring up over the Almein Mountains, close to territory ruled over by Asgrim Shy. He is a well known supporter of Severin, and it would seem our dear friend is on his way there as we speak. The move has taken some time, offering more time for that incessant Ogre to weasel his way under my skin. There, those are the events of my day. Geoff would be proud.
I really don't understand what he wants from me. We have war scribes for a reason. He laughed when I asked where he kept his damn journal, saying he does not require one. What the fuck does that even mean? And why does he think I require one? I don't understand. It's not like anyone's going to read this. What's the point? I think he's trying to toy with me. It would be just like him to make light of a situation like this. You're too angry, he says. Of course I'm angry. There is nothing else for me to feel.
_It's about 3 am. Most of the camp is quiet, but that doesn't make any difference. I've been sitting here, staring at the blank walls of my tent, and for the first time I actually feel...peaceful. The idea of peace hasn't crossed my mind in quite some time, so I thought it deserved to be written down. Geoff's words continue to badger against my skull, and it's becoming extremely aggravating. What's even worse is that I'm starting to think he's right...
It's quiet again. I know that there is a war going on and battles are being fought over the ridge as I write, but here it is quiet. I have been thinking. I find that it is only on nights like this that I am able to think. I was in a battle today. Geoff led the siege while I took the flank. It was a good victory, though a meager one. I have a feeling that there is still a long way to go before this is all over. Geoff has requested that I try to get some rest. Instead, I find myself here, staring down at this stupid book again. I'm sick of his words ringing in my ears. Maybe they'd go away if I listened.
Sarah noticed the left over fringe from several more torn out pages before the next entry...She wondered what they would have said.
I would say I don't remember the last time I've slept, but I do. It was the last time I held you in my arms. I don't think there's been a single night where I don't see your face. I have lived for so long, and yet these past few months without you have been the longest I've had to endure.
For the last week or so, I've come in here and stared at this book. And for the past week I've sat in this spot with my pen to the page, and yet nothing happens. Geoff's words continue to haunt me, almost as much as the blood that stains your memory. He tells me this is not for me, it is for you. It's been weeks, and I can't get those damn words out of my head. It's stupid. This is stupid. I'm alone in the middle of nowhere with a pen in my hand. I could tear these pages and burn them until the ash fell like snow. This isn't you.
...Again, Sarah noticed there were more torn out pages between the next entry. A lot of them.
I have no idea if you will ever read this, but I think I'm starting to understand.
It's been four months since I've last seen you. And for four months all I see is you. And to think that the image you left me with is covered in blood and tears... I am angry. I am so unbelievably angry. I have killed so many creatures, slain so many armies, but this feeling, this pit inside, continues to grow. All I can think about is how much I have failed you, how many wrongs you have been dealt at my hand, and how there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. There is nothing I can do. Nothing but fight. You're gone, and all I have is this anger. I promise that I will kill him for all that he's done. Though you are safe, I will avenge you. I will hunt him to the ends of the world for as long as it takes. I will hunt him down and I will kill him. And I will bring you his head. I don't know how long this will take, nor how many more times I will sit down and write to you, nor how many times I will try. So in the mean time, I will pretend that Geoff is right. I will pretend that this isn't all a pathetic waste of time. I'll pretend that these pages can grant me the reprieve Geoff thinks I need. And if per chance this isn't all a waste, and if somehow somewhere these words will ever grace your sight, I want you to know that I love you. That I have always loved you. And I am sorry.
Sarah had to stop again, and found herself taking a deep breath as she read over Jareth's words, his thoughts. She'd only just started, but she could tell she was in for the long haul. She had no idea if he actually meant for her to ever read this, but there was no way in hell she was putting it down. Why was it left out like this?
I thought we were on the verge of something today. A force was deployed into the Almein ridge late last night, and we have received word that our assault was successful. Severin however, is not amongst the captives. Reports tell of a small detail heading down into the valley. Asgrim's castle is not far from here. It would be best to catch him before he reaches the fortress. Though we are prepared to take Asgrim down as well.
It is mid-day, though I choose to write to you now, as I am not sure when I will be at liberty to do so next. All I can see is the look on your face when we sieged the tower. All I can feel is rage and all I can think about is the joy I will take in putting his head on a spike.
He got away.
The assault on Fort Delcroe took more of a toll on our forces than expected. It seems that in his years, Severin has gathered more than just infantry for his armies. I should have anticipated this when he sent a Troll and Harpies on us the night you were taken. We managed to capture Asgrim's fort, but again Severin was able to thwart us. It seems the snake is more slippery than we thought.
His escape will surely get back to Asgrim at Castle Shy, and that will mean another added force to deal with. Geoff has sent word to Lareon requesting reinforcements. We're moving to Castle Shy next.
Today I stood above the corpse of King Asgrim Shy, wielding his own bloodied sword in my hand, and I can not tell you how empty I felt. Severin was not there, though he took a great number of Asgrim's forces when he left. We can only infer where he is running off to next. Geoff has been asking about you- this book, and was pleased to hear I have been keeping up with it. Like a good little boy, he says. It earned him the one black eye he's suffered from this war...and it's not even from an enemy. I've gone so long without saying it, that now I feel I must not go too long without repeating it. Once again, I love you. I have always loved you. And I am sorry.
Sarah found herself chuckling as she read. She wasn't sure if he was serious or not, because she couldn't picture Jareth actually socking Geoff in the face. She wondered if that was permissible. She shook her head, trying not to let herself sulk at the way he chose to end that passage, and got back to the story.
She read the next bout of entries quickly. They were all very similar, basic recounts of the war effort, which usually ended in Severin getting away once again, Jareth spouting on about his anger and ending with him saying how sorry he was. She started to frown as she read, realizing from the entry dates that in no time at all about two years had gone by...She stopped skimming when something profound stood out to her.
Day Eight-Hundred and Five,
Fucking bastard I had him! Gods be damned, I had him! For the first time in two years I saw his face, and fuck the rat he was smiling! I have no idea how he continues to elude us. Every battle Geoff and I have fought has ended in victory. This isn't even a war, it's a damn chase. There have been whispers that he is using himself as bait, to lead us around while his more distant allies gather their troops. We're moving to rendezvous with Barkus. His squadrons of shade beasts will be of great use against the blue elves of Hindlahr. There have been reports of their movements, and it would be wise to prepare ourselves if they do indeed decide to attack. I can't believe I let him get away. I saw it. I saw the force of life in his eyes, and you do not know how badly I wanted to suffocate it, to strangle it until his skin turned purple. Geoff has told me not to worry, that we have him on the run and it will not be much longer. If only I believed him. All this time, all this time that I have gone through the motions of war, moving from camp to camp, slaying one enemy after another... But seeing him tonight brought it all back. Seeing that smile of his made me realize that I am still angry, that I am still stuck in this endless shit hole no closer to you than the day this started. I can see your face clear as day. Why am I afraid that I'm starting to forget?
Day Eight-Hundred and Fifty-Seven,
Barkus's troops have taken Bengladahr, a known hide-out in southern Hindlahr. Geoff has left, taking most of our cavalry along with him. Since running around in circles doesn't seem to be working, we've decided to simply fan out until we hit something. We have more supporters than Severin. The odds are in our favor. But this isn't a war against a nation, this is a war against one person. Finding him will be worse than a needle in a hay stack. After all, this needle can fly. Lareon and I are moving further into Hindlahr. He is elven, and therefore knows the land and the minds that inhabit it. We should clear through the country by the end of the month. I keep telling myself this can't go on much longer. Just one more day, just one more step.
Before I know it, I'll have walked the world ten fold. And still you are so far away.
Day Eight-Hundred and Ninety-Three,
Once again, another nation has been conquered. It didn't take much this time, as it seems Severin had left the territory long ago. We received word that Geoff's forces are struggling to get past Tyrion's forces at the Grand Bay. We'll be moving out to double back around as reinforcements as soon as possible. Maybe we'll be able to catch him this time.
Sarah's frown grew deeper and deeper as she read from one entry to the next. They just kept on going and going...just as he said, one day after another. She read through recounts of battles and plans and rumors. She read through the hope that she felt in his words when they'd find a lead, and then have to suffer through the anger and resentment when those plans proved unsuccessful. On and on this went, for years. Sarah couldn't believe it, couldn't believe that he'd stuck to this one book for so long. ...And she still had so long to go. She started skimming past the dreariness.
Day One-Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Ninety-Five,
I have been counting. I have been counting every single day that carries me farther and farther from your memory. It has been five years. Five years, that's hardly a blink and yet I feel like an eternity has passed. Is this how mortals feel? Or is it simply the plight of war? It seems this world is endless. We slay one enemy, and two more spawn in its place. Court has finally taken notice of our efforts; the more allies we gather, the harder it is for them to ignore us. Geoff is hopeful that our decree will be passed. Official support from Court would aid our cause invariably. But truthfully, I couldn't care less. People have been asking questions. Questions that I don't know how to answer. They ask me why? Why? One simple word. Why am I doing this? Why am I so angry? The answer I give them is the most honest thing I have ever said: I am doing this because I love you. Everything I have done, the good and the repulsive, I have done because I have loved you. So many insignificant faces...so many undeserving ears are graced with this confession, when you are the only one who should hear those words. You're the only one I should have to say it to, and you're the only one who will never be able to hear it.
Day One-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Twenty,
I've received a letter from Markhel saying Court has recognized our war effort as a just campaign of international acknowledgment, and has decided to lay in allegiance with our cause. They're calling it The Cleansing. The Cleansing...fitting, as at the rate we're massacring the remaining scum that cling to Severin's boots, there will be nothing left.
_I have heard whispers, whispers of your name. I must be going mad...
Day One-thousand, Nine-Hundred and Fifty-Three,
I have noticed that, for being a battlefield, there is much humming and frivolous chatter. They have been speaking of you. Common soldiers, speaking of you like some grand creature of legend. I suppose there is some truth to this claim... It is strange. I've tried to keep you secret for so long, and now every common man knows of your existence. Many rumors have come back to me, some I simply can not believe. All these years I thought love was weakness; though it would seem...Geoff is not the only one who thinks it is something worth fighting for.
Day One-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Seventy-Four,
_I smiled today. I feel silly writing this down, but I think today was the first time I've smiled since I last saw you. And I think that is something worth documenting. I was walking through the barracks, making my way back to my tent, when I heard a couple of soldiers whispering to one another. They were in the middle of a story, and so I do not know how or why it came up, but I heard a man speak your name. He was a Fae, one of Theadon's, I think. I had never seen him before, and neither he I nor you. But the way he spoke your name, with such admiration and reverence, I found myself stopped dead in my tracks. He spoke of a pale beauty -"pale as in demeanor, charm and purity -like a star", he said. He spoke of you in ways I could not make sense of. This was a grunt, a man who had never before laid eyes on let alone met you, and yet he told tales as if it were he at your side all those years ago and not I. The others listened in what looked to be awe, and still this site I did not understand. It was only by the end of the story, by the time I had started to walk away that it dawned on me. What I saw was not awe on their faces, but hope. Hope. I had nearly forgotten that word. As I walked away, I heard the man speak with a tone of firmness and resolution, something that I so desperately wish I had. He said, "She is the star that guides our efforts, one star with the power to revoke the darkness. You see the fierceness with which she has claimed our King, and through his wrath we see the force with which he holds her precious. Her power is a rose among thorns, her love a diamond among coal. A snake has sullied our gem, and has cast her out into the night. Alone her light is not enough, and she hides for the darkness is too heavy with the pestilence of snakes and rats. And so by our efforts, we must cleanse this world, until it can suit her perfection, and only then will she return to us. Only then will this darkness be lifted".
Only then will she return to us... It is amazing, the phantasms we make from the tales of soldiers and the talk of men.
Day One-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Ninety-Three,
From the amount of banter I've been picking up on, I'd say it's safe to say you're the official symbol of The Cleansing. I have no idea how this happened, as I've been trying to ignore it as much as possible. Though I blame Geoff. He's always off bragging and exaggerating things "for me". He tells me it is a good thing, that the men need something grand and wondrous to motivate them. While I believe he is right, I find myself unable to stand being surrounded by your "legend". Is that what you've become? Nothing more than some folk tale? This war is approaching the better half of a decade, and I am baffled by the knowledge that you are still only fifteen, that only six months have passed for you. Six months, in which I'm sure nothing has happened at all. Nothing has happened. Absolutely nothing. And they know nothing. You know nothing. I can still feel your skin against mine. I can still feel your heart beat next to mine. I can still feel you. But now, you only exist as a stepping stone between legends and the scar that binds my sanity. And no one knows. No one knows. And if no one knows...who is to say which stories are true?
I find myself terrified with the hymns of hope that ring outside my tent.
Sarah had to put the book down again, her eyes wide and riddled with worry. That last line...that was so sad. She was so excited to read, but now...her scowl just kept on twisting. She'd only read five or six years into his plight, and already she was on the verge of throwing it down and dashing off to throw herself in Jareth's arms. Five years and he was already suffering so much...and there were still forty-five more to go... She gripped the pages tighter as she tried to read on with reluctant curiosity. For her own sake, she tried read as quickly as possible. Who knew, Jareth may walk through that door any minute now...
Day Two-Thousand, Six-Hundred and Seventy-Three,
Geoff has called to my attention yet another battle-hymn inspired by your legend. I haven't had the heart to tell him that the sound of those god forsaken melodies make me want to rip my hair out. He thinks it's wonderful, that this will guarantee your acceptance upon your return, that I will no longer have to hide you behind secrets. He is just so happy through all this. It astounds me. And night after night, I find myself wondering why I am the only one who is unable to feel this joy.
Day Two-Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Two,
We have made contact with a man who claims to serve "us". His name is Svan, and he is a nephew of that lout Severin. He approached us alone and unarmed in an attempt to gain our trust, though such actions are only made more suspicious. He is being held in the barracks until we can decide what to do with him. He claims to have knowledge which will "aid us greatly". Barkus wants him executed, but Geoff is slowly convincing the lot to hear the poor fellow out. I agree with this- he is young, and as Severin has no heirs, stands to claim the Eastern Sea throne should his uncle fall. This is plenty enough motivation for him to turn on his kin... Though, then again, he is his kindred...we must keep a close eye on him before any significant decisions are made.
I have forbade any and all merrymaking within two-hundred yards of my tent, but I am still plagued, in that the nights are anything but tranquil.
Day Two-Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Forty-Four,
In an attempt to earn our favor, Svan had graciously conceded the supposed whereabouts of his loving uncle. This was a few weeks ago, and it was just last night that our scouts returned with news of whether or not this claim was true. There were reports of massive flocks of ravens gathering near Fort Bane. No doubt, Severin is using these avian gnats as cover and is shielding himself amongst them. We haven't told Svan of this, as he still can not be trusted. With that said, a team of Imps is being sent to stake out the forest surrounding the fort as we speak. Hopefully, we may actually be blessed with the element of surprise this time.
Day Two-Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Fifty-Five,
One of Granoo's Imps has reported of a confirmed sighting of Severin at Fort Bane. The spirit of the entire camp is lifting as we speak. Svan has earned a promotion from the prison barracks to a confined cell block. He knows what this means, and yet is content to be kept in seclusion. He continues to speak of his loyalty to our cause, and is therefore content to whatever setting we deem him worthy of until he has proven such loyalty. I find this sincerity suspicious. I know not when I will be able to write to you next, and I hope that the next time I take pen to this book, it will be with the news of victory. Until then, I love you. I have always loved you. And I am sorry.
Day Two-Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Ninety-Two,
I apologize...I have been reluctant to face this book, though I am the only one who will feel disappointment. I have repeated myself so many times, I find it almost useless to tell you we have failed yet again. It has been...a long time, and there is much I haven't said. So far, Svan has given us intel for three of Severin's major hideouts, and so far he has been completely truthful. Because of the continued knowledge he has given us, he has been released to serve as a planning consultant, though he is still kept under strict watch. We have been on the move constantly for the past four months or so, and so that has served as my excuse not to seek out this book. I don't know why...but lately it just seems...easier not to be plagued by these nights, nights where I sit and force myself to pretend you're waiting on the other side of these words. Tonight is the quietest I have had to endure in a long time, and I want to think that just the scratch of my pen on the page is enough...it's never enough.
Day Two-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Seven,
It's quiet again. It's the lull between camps, and I want to say that it is this stillness that draws me to write to you. But it isn't. There have been plenty of lulls within the past four months, plenty of time for me to sit and tell you about my day, tell you how much we have failed and how angry that makes me. But the truth is...I'm starting to feel... reluctant. It was easy enough to say it was the excitement of Svan's aid that kept me distracted, but as I sit here now... When I came into my tent tonight, the first thing I saw was this book sitting in the center of my desk, in the same exact spot I'd left it two weeks ago. It already had dust on it. And seeing it there, covered in dust...it disturbed me and I don't know why. Just seeing it there, alone and forgotten...it made me angry, angry that I would try to ignore it, try to shy away from it. I will not let myself be deterred from you. I will not let myself forget again. No matter what happens, I can not. Your memory is both heaven and hell. Missing you is my punishment, and so I can not stop writing, I can not ignore this little brown book as it waits with nothing but patience on my desk. And it is always so forgiving, just like you. And yet...and yet I find it more and more difficult to do just that. I find it becoming harder for me to sit here and write to you. The rest of the world is mindless. It is only between these pages that I am confronted with thoughts.
Day Two-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Sixty-Nine,
It has been quite some time since my last entry, and a part of me wishes to say it is because I have been busy. A harem of "field aids" has been sent to "assist the men" and are currently working their way through the ranks -Courtesy of Lady Leylanah. Truthfully, I expected a heard of whores to breeze through our camp much earlier. While the laughter and banter of the men speaks for itself, I'm finding myself rather annoyed. Each time I sit to open this book, it seems one hellion or another is pulling back the curtain to my tent. I've sent away about five now, each one different. I find it curious...how I have absolutely no interest in their affairs. Seeing them makes me angry. They don't deserve it, and neither do you. Though I can't help but call point to the exploit of fate as it tries time and time again to deter me from these pages...I find myself wondering if it is the wish of fate happening, or something I merely wish to happen. Night after night, a new face graces my tent, and night after night, all I can think about is how much they are not you.
Day Two-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Seventy-Four,
I have just sent away yet another courtesan. I can hear the rabble of those outside, while I sit here alone with nothing but the company of a stupid book, and I can't help but question why I'm even bothering. I see their faces, and how badly do I want them to be you. How badly I want them to be you, and how long it will be until I see you again. Over eight years it's been. How has it been so long? I remember thinking this war would last no more than a week... But it has not. Time has passed, and it will continue to do so. And as it passes...as I wallow without purpose...I can't...I'm starting to wonder_
Sarah noticed the pen trail off in a scribble mid-sentence. She wondered what he was going to say...and why he couldn't write it.
Day Two-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Eighty-Eight,
I find myself thinking of you. Not as you were, or as I want you to be, but as you are. I find myself wondering what you are doing, how you have grown. How you have changed. You have not even aged a full year yet, and yet so much has happened on this side. You are so young...and I would love you any way, but what would happen should we find him tomorrow? What would happen if that day came and you were still so young? Could our lives ever be as they were? Are these thoughts even worth having? I wonder...how you would change...
Day Three-Thousand and Twenty-Seven,
Geoff thinks he is sensing something about me, and has once again proceeded to nag me. I tell him my foul mood arises from the unwavering joy he finds in humming those damn hymns in my ear. He asked about this book again, and I told him I think it's doing more harm than good. His smile irritates me. How can he be so positive all the time? During a time like this? How does he expect me to feel the same? It's been so long, what was once an outlet for my anger is now the cause.
Day Three-Thousand and Sixty-One,
I notice my entries are getting farther and farther apart, and I know I must try harder, but...facing these blank pages is becoming more difficult than bringing down a hoard of mountain Trolls. The more I write, the more I'm faced with my continual failure, the more I'm faced with the misery I bestowed you. I don't want to feel it anymore. I need strength. I need anger if I wish to see this to the end, but the truth is...I'm not angry anymore. The presence I pretend to feel in these pages has taken it away. I'm no longer angry...for an even more powerful force has crushed it to the bottom of my heart. I need it back, I need to be strong, and I can't be strong when I'm with you, and since this book is my only means of being with you... I just-
Day Three-Thousand, One-Hundred and Five,
Geoff has noticed a definite change in my demeanor and has made it his prerogative to correct it. He is not stupid, he knows the stresses of war, and just so knows that this is not one of them. I wish he would just leave me alone. I am fighting, I am planning, and I am winning. I am still writing in this thing, so what more matters?
Day Three-Thousand, One-hundred and Sixty,
We're moving to cross the Burmiegn Sea within the fortnight. Geoff will be manning the navel fleet, while I head our aerial support. I'm telling you this now as my excuse for not writing for what may prove to be a very long time. I want to say how much I will miss you, but I am not so delusional as to think that you and this book are one in the same. Truth be told, I wouldn't be too crushed if this ended up falling overboard somehow...At least I would be rid of one more distraction. I keep thinking back to a conversation we once had...You were always so grateful to me, and a part of me is starting to wonder if that was because you were truly grateful, or if you were just trying to survive. You were taken, and you made the most of your situation...But you are back now, is it really my place to take you away once more? Shouldn't you be let to live and not just survive? I find the weight of my questions only balanced by that of my doubts.
Day Three-Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Twenty,
We landed in Zaphirlu about two weeks ago, and my tent looks just as it always has. I was surprised, and admittedly agitated, to find that our band of consorts had decided to follow us across the sea. Not surprisingly, no one has a problem with this. Lareon has proposed I take a "break" from all this, as "surely, ten years is long enough for a King to be away from his kingdom". But what he doesn't realize is that this war is just a much a part of my kingdom as the Labyrinth. Svan has volunteered to show us the way to our next destination. We head out at daybreak. I have some small manner of hope with this one. A barrier has been put up quite a distance away from the castle, which means we have to travel on foot. More and more of Severin's allies are turning on him daily. It shouldn't be long now...I remember the last time I said those words.
Day Three-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Thirteen,
We took out the last of Severin's forces at Zaphirlu, though it was unfortunate that Queen Marleigh chose to die along with them. He actually stayed to fight us this time. I was surprised, and genuinely excited. I thought we were close to nabbing him, but he took off once we got anywhere close. We've kept Svan out of the battlefield thus far. He is of too much value to risk. Though now, many of us are wondering if he is somehow leaking information back to Severin. It would explain the strange ability he has in evading us time and time again. It is night out, and I am tired. I am just...so tired of all of this. I've been considering taking a leave of absence for a day or two. Ha. Another woman came to visit me tonight. She had a smile like yours. I thought they would have figured it out by now that their pursuits are in vain. Maybe they know something I don't.
Day Four-Thousand and Seven,
I miss you. I don't know what else to say but how dreadfully I miss you. I imagine that my picture of you has changed, and that for some reason you in fact look completely different than the woman that haunts my dreams. I remember, so many years ago, when I was afraid to dream. I remember, as I laid down to sleep at night, I would be terrified of the woman screaming my name. I know now that she is you, and I know now, that I have not heard that scream since the night you wished yourself from me. And I can only find happiness in this. While I do not know how you grow, who you become, how you change, I know that wherever you are or whatever is happening to you, you are not in pain. You are not screaming...You are not screaming for someone who will not come... You are not in pain, and you never will be. I fight, each step moving closer and closer towards the day this will all be over...and I can't help but tell myself that this is already over for you. You do not live in nightmares, while I thrive in them...Geoff is confident that there will be a day when you return to me...while now, I am not so sure...
Day Four-Thousand, Two-Hundred and Three,
I find it pointless to relay to you the events of this ongoing massacre. And I find I have very little to say otherwise. I don't want to admit it, but I refuse to lie to you, each time I open this, it is done with guilt and disdain. I'm writing because I feel I have to, Gods know I stopped wanting to long ago. There are currently three "official" tales regarding your legend and the cause of all this. They sing your song like an anthem, and it makes me want to scream. It would be so easy for me to see you again, but it isn't safe, and you aren't ready yet. You're nearly 16, bloody 16, that's it! No...It pains me, but if I'm going to see you again, it will be as the woman you were, at the "age" you were. I tell myself this because it seems to grant me some level of reprieve, but even I do not sense the conviction in these words. I am afraid, afraid that my excuses are only prolonging a decision I fear has already been made. I can not even hope to think of the agony that will befall me should I have to wait another forty years to see you again.
Day Four-Thousand, Three-Hundred and Sixty-Seven,
This camp is slowly starting to become my home. I even have friendly dinners with the neighbors. Geoff is as chipper as ever, and it makes me want to gag. I asked him why, and...something about his answer struck me as strange, not strange in what he said, but strange in that I had already heard it before. He said, "I am happy because she wished me to be". I don't...I don't understand, so I left it be. But there's something...something nagging in the back of my mind, something I should remember. There is a reason why he smiles.
Men will fight for gold and for glory, but men will die for love.
Day Four-Thousand, Four-Hundred and Twenty,
I don't understand why these women keep coming to my tent. I've told them countless times to cease, but it appears my threats have no effect on Leynalah's whores. I've never before felt to be under pressure by a woman, and I've never before felt repulsed by one who pursued me so. They send a different one each night, and I have the suspicion it is in the attempt to find one who suits my tastes. My "tastes". What they don't know, is that my sense of taste died twelve years ago. I've had a mind to badger Geoff about the issue, but I have a feeling he would merely laugh in my face. Though I do wonder, why I never see any of them ever entering or leaving his tent...
Day Four-Thousand, Four-Hundred and Fifty,
I can't stand this anymore. I am so disgusted I haven't been able to bear writing it down. It started over a week ago. It had always been so easy casting them out, so easy. And then...I don't know, it was something one of them said. A woman came, and in a fit I threatened to have them all chained and stoned if they continued to pester me. I asked her how she could bear the shame, knowing who I was and why this war was being fought, and she said...she said something I already knew, something I had been fighting against because just thinking about it felt like a betrayal. She said that the King must be under a great deal of stress and heartache, and that she was there to sooth that pain for as long as I could stand it. I can't...I can't do that. I miss you so much it hurts. My skin aches from being alone for so long. It aches to touch and be touched. But I do not want to be caressed by a whore. No matter what I do, her touch could never pass for yours. And the pain? The pain that she would sooth? It would only come back ten fold the moment the sun came up. I have never felt this before, such turmoil. And yet...and yet I was never closer to giving in. I can't get her words out of my head. I can't...
Day Four-Thousand, Four-Hundred and Seventy-Two,
Geoff cornered me today. He said there have been rumors of my continued refusal of the war maidens. I told him I couldn't care less as to the chatter of loose harpies and their mates. For the first time in well over a decade I think he actually frowned. And again, I heard those poisonous words. "It will relieve stress" he says. Why are they all pushing this? Surely being devout to you is a good thing? To which he responded it has nothing to do with loyalty...my heart is with you...
I asked him where he kept his whore.
Day Four-Thousand, Five-Hundred and Eighty-Seven,
We've been on the move for quite some time, the lands of Niphirla are vast and well guarded. We've had to resort to caravanning rather than transport, due to the excessive amounts of magical barriers scattered throughout the land. Svan tells us we're narrowing in on what is supposedly Severin's most closely guarded hideaway. The journey has been long, and will be longer still. Without magic, it will take months to reach the fortress, if we can even make it that far in the first place. The lands of Niphirla are rumored to harbor dragons. I have never before fought a dragon, though Geoff claims to have done so and swears they are nothing to worry about. One good thing about this extended road-trip, is that visits from those damn harlots have become less and less frequent. And while I am glad for it, it does nothing to impede on the weakness and anxiety that continues to gnaw at the pit inside me. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. And I want to pity myself so badly, I want to punish myself so badly. I close my eyes so tight until it hurts just so I can see you. And how badly do I want to feel, and how badly do I want this pain to just go away. Even for just one single moment.
Day Four-Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Ninety-Four,
Our caravan has been attacked repeatedly over these passed months. One of our cargo wagons was dislodged and carried off with in the latest, and we've only just taken it back. Do I have to mention it was that particular vehicle that contained this book? I was both worried and relieved to be rid of it. It's burden on me lessened for all of two seconds. But then I thought of how much pointless time I've spent scribbling in it, and how much of a waste it would be for it to be simply carried off never to be seen again. Just like you. I missed your birthday. Yes, I know when your birthday is. I hope you enjoyed it without me. I hope you got everything you wanted. And I hope you were happy. I have resorted to thinking in the absence of these pages, and...and all I can think of is how miserable this world is, how many horrors have befallen you here, and how much you must have wanted to go home. You are home now...But I will always fight for you. I will always fight, and I will always suffer, because I love you. I have always loved you, and I am sorry.
Day Four-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Twenty-Three,
Today, I was standing out over a valley. The sun was setting, and for reasons totally foreign to me I thought it was beautiful. The camp was quiet behind me, and I found myself wishing you were there beside me, sharing the moment. You were held captive and tortured for four years under Severin, and during your brief time with me, I remember that not once had you seen the light of day. And so as I stood there, I realized that I had never before been so alone. You deserved so much more than what I gave you, yet you never asked for anything. I imagine the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, and I know that image is not mine to have. But where you are, who you are, that image is your own, as it always should have been. I can not take that away from you. I stand here with this pain, and I only imagine the ways that I could further it. You would never grant me punishment, because it was what I wanted and in that you took control and took it away from me. I want this pain to go away, and I want to feel it ten fold. I wish you would have let me stay numb.
Day Four-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Seventy-Two,
Another woman came to my tent tonight, and I turned her away without even looking up. But I won't try to fool you, I did this not with resolve, but with terror, for I knew that if I saw her face I might not have been able to send her away. I know why I feel this way. I know that they are right and that it has been so long and that I miss you and that I can forget all that for just one night. I can forget it all for just one night...but I don't want to forget. I want to be fully aware of the wounds I deal myself. And I want to suffer from them. We took another victory today, and the men are in the midst of celebrating. There is nothing yet to celebrate.
There was another ominous creak coming from the other side of the room, causing Sarah to dart up from her seat like she'd just been poked with a cattle prod. She looked all around, her blood pressure ready to boil, and let out a huge sigh of relief when she saw it was Maab who had come in through the door.
"Sarah?" she called, wanting to make sure her Queen was decent before rounding any corners. Sarah set the book in her lap and out of sight.
"Yea, Maab? I'm over here. Did you need something?" Sarah asked. Maab poked her head around the corner.
"Oh, I don't mean to intrude dear. I'm just here to tell you that His Majesty will be a little longer than expected and not to worry," she said, not bothering to ask why her Queen looked like she was about ready to up and jump out the window. Sarah hunkered down in her chair.
"Oh, um, ok, that's fine...Thank you for telling me," she said, rather impatiently. Mabb started to draw her brow; there was something shaky about her voice... "I'll see you tomorrow then? Don't forget, we're meeting up with Hoggle and the gang again," she added on, in an obvious attempt to urge the old woman away. Maab pursed her lips.
"Um, yes...yes, I'll be here bright and early...Good evening, My Lady..." she said, and slowly turned away to vacate the room. Sarah stared on for a few more minutes, even after hearing the door shut behind her. Ok, so Jareth was running late? That meant she still had time to make it through the rest of this book...Though, she was debating whether or not she really wanted to at this point. She skimmed the next couple of entries...
Day Five-Thousand, One-Hundred and Eighty-Nine,
Sarah I-I can't put to words...and I don't want to. I don't want to say this. I don't want to admit it. I am so sorry. I never expected to feel this way. I just-I couldn't-I couldn't stop it. But there is no excuse to justify it. It's been so many days, and I haven't had the courage to face these pages. I knew this would happen, I wanted to feel this, but...I never wanted to feel this.
It was the night after a long battle. We had won, but many men were lost. Severin was there, and for once I actually made my way to him. Geoff held the flank and there was no where for him to run. I managed to deal him a blow in the back, but I should have aimed for his arms. There may have been no where to run, but there were plenty of places to fly.
We'd gotten back and I...I was just so angry. I was so angry and sad and...I was pacing my tent when she came in.
It was the one from before -the one with your smile. I'd never seen one twice and...and I was -caught off guard. She wasn't you. She looked nothing like you. But she was there and she was smiling and all I wanted was to feel you again. I told her to leave. I told her to get out and to never come back. But she didn't. She wouldn't. She said it wasn't good for the commander of our army to be so upset and to be so out of sorts. I was -I was going to -I_Damn myself I'm sorry. When she touched me I- I just- ... It just felt so good, to be touched again. It's been so long, and I don't know why I care but I do. I've been on the road and in the mud for fifteen years claiming to be avenging you and yet I was weak enough to betray you so easily. What a hypocrite am I? And I am the only one who sees it this way. I have tried, so hard, to tell myself it was nothing. And while in truth it really did mean NOTHING the fact is that it can never be NOTHING. It was meaningless, purely physical, a means of relieving stress...
She tried to sooth me afterwards, and I pretended they were your arms that held me and that I held. But...they weren't. I feel it would have been better if I could have pretended it was you, but I could not. No one could ever pass for you. I love you. I love you so much. This is what Love does and I vowed I would no longer run away from it. I know this. I know this and I think that is why I feel this way. I feel so weak, Sarah. I feel like I have nothing left but the dream of seeing you again, and it is a dream that I won't even let myself have. It is a nightmare. I can't...I can't write in this anymore. One more night and I'll go insane. I can't -I just -I'm sorry.
As Sarah frowned at the worn and brittle pages, warped and stained with something she really hoped were and weren't tears, she found that he was true to his word, and that his next entry wasn't until much, much later.
Day Five-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Seventeen,
Dear Sarah, it's been over two years since I last laid eyes on this book. Two years, and the weight of it on my mind hasn't lessened an ounce. This book brings me shame, and I thought myself too weak to face it. I will not recount to you the time I've been away. I simply do not want to. You would hate me if I did. The only reason I am writing in it now, is because I had stumbled upon it in an old storage box whilst setting up the new camp. And, for the first time since that night, I was able to look at it without agony. It has been so long, so long since I've poured my heart out, that I think I've finally gained some perspective. If you're wondering, we're still in Niphirla. Our time here has not gone...according to plan. For about the past year or so we have been unable to breach the final barrier separating us from Severin's hideout, but Svan and many of our alchemists have been working on a spell that will break through it, and I think we may be close.
I'm starting to understand a little further. I am no longer angry, and the sorrow has made me so numb I suppose I no longer feel that as well. I have thought about looking in on you, just to remember what you look like. But I can not bring myself to do so. It would only make letting you go that much harder. For so many years I have vowed and decreed and sworn to take you back...but time has a way of changing things. You're nearly 17, and I can only imagine how mediocre your life is. I wonder who you are. I wonder if you've been kissed yet. It's been so long since I told you, and with the note I last left you on, I'm sure the words aren't enough, but I love you. I have always, will always love you. And I am sorry.
Day Six-Thousand and Two,
After several attempts, Svan's spell was able to breach the barrier, though that hasn't meant much over the past few weeks. It really seems as though we've hit Severin's last line of defense. For some years, the majority of our armies have been out "cleansing" the land at the Court's behest, but now all parties are maneuvering onto Niphirla. And it would be an understatement to say that he has been putting up one hell of a fight. We've been stuck in what amounts to trench-warfare for weeks now, and haven't moved a single inch. All we can really do is wait until the remainder of our armies arrive. I've given up on hope, so I won't tell you that this could be it, that I think we're close and might actually pull through with this one. I learned not to think so foolishly long ago.
Day Six-Thousand, One-Hundred and Fifty-Four,
We've taken a field. Oh joy, we've taken a field. Seven months and we've only advanced a mile or so. Barkus wants us to scout on up ahead, but I've said it would be better to clear off the land we've already taken, gather supplies and bury the dead. For all the fervor with which they chant their tunes, our soldiers deserve just a meager effort of consideration. It's strange, I no longer think of the woman in those songs as you. She is so far away, and you are so much farther.
Day Six-Thousand, One-Hundred and Sixty-Two,
I saw Geoff standing on a hill today. This struck me as odd because Geoff isn't the type to glower ominously at the sunset. I kept my distance, because upon seeing his face, I saw that he was smiling. That damn fool is always smiling. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be enjoying the breeze and the smell of blood and putrid flesh that came along with it. I stood there, watching him, for quite some time. It was quiet, and as it always seems when it is quiet, I was able to think. And I realized...well, I had never really thought of how this whole endeavor had been affecting him. He is always so strong and positive...through all my grumbling, I never realized that this struggle must be just as painful for him as it is for me. It's been so long...I'd nearly forgotten all about her. So as I stood there, wanting to ask him how he is able to carry the weight of that smile from day to day, I remembered that he does not carry that weight at all.
I looked away from him and went back to my tent. Everything she said was true. Everything she predicted was right. I never- I never even thought to consider...
I feel like a fool. I have been selfish, pressing the weight of this war solely on my shoulders, without even a thought as to what this was putting him through. What must he be thinking? If he is thinking what I am thinking, how can he bear to smile? Perhaps...perhaps that is why he smiles... Perhaps it is the same reason that lets you smile. It was so long ago. Is this what I have to look forward to? That smile...the gentleness of it, whilst standing in the middle of a battlefield. I knew, I knew from that very moment that he was thinking of her. And even back then, she knew me so well...As I sit here and think, I realize how much of her I see in you, or you in her. It has been over five hundred years...and she was right, about everything. I know now. I know what he saw in her, because I see it in you. I find myself smiling as I write. Have I always been such a fool? The look on Geoff's face pains me, for before I walked away he called out to me. He called out to me, and with that damned smile, he said that we would win this one, that this time, she would be saved, that this time, Love would not cut our own strings. He said that we would win, and she would come back to me. I didn't say anything. I couldn't. I couldn't be the one to ruin the smile on his face. After everything he and Diyanna had been through, I couldn't tell him that I have been debating whether or not it is truly my desire to take you back.
Day Six-Thousand, One-Hundred and Seventy,
For days now, I've found myself lost in thoughts of the past. Not just our past, but my own. You don't know this, I'm older than you could imagine, but I hope one day I may get the chance to tell you. It all happened so long ago. I haven't thought about it for so long, that now, playing over the memories, I realize there is so much that I missed. I feel the urge to ask him about it, but it is not my place, or perhaps it is, yet I hesitate. I want to know, and yet... I don't. For if I know, it means I will be able to move on from you, and that I never want to happen.
...Do you have any idea of the way I felt when I first saw you waiting at Severin's ball? It was a feeling so strong I had to confuse it with excitement. But it wasn't. It was terror. I was terrified to see you there, to realize that someone else had found you, terrified that someone else had defiled you, and terrified that I still cared enough to even be terrified. I should have told you. I should have told you what you are. I should have trusted you. But in my world, hearts that are a pure as yours end up dead, and perhaps it is because I know this from experience that I did not want to believe you could be so pure. I was afraid that what happened to her would happen to you. But...it didn't. It didn't because you are stronger than this world. Somehow, after everything that should have crushed you beyond repair, you were strong enough to be selfless. I have never been selfless. I am selfish, and I act selfishly. I'm starting to believe that the only way to make this right is to do as you have done and act selflessly.
Day Six-Thousand, Three-Hundred and Fifty-Nine,
We're advancing little by little. Barkus's armies have arrived in the east. It will take some time for them to reach us, but we're holding off well on our own. With the majority of our forces encircling the area, the strongest of us will be able to set up our own barrier, taking away Severin's last means of escape. This is our plan, but only time will tell. We are so close to victory, and yet...I feel nothing.
Day Six-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Fifty-One,
It has been a long while, but not much has changed on the front, and so I thought it rather pointless to write as much. I have been counting however, so know that I have not forgotten you for even a single moment. Barkus, Granoo and Lay's armies have finally joined us, and the barrier was forged as planned. Everyone, Geoff included, is excited. They can smell the victory, they say. All I smell is death and brimstone. I can hear the echo of your song as I write. It makes me feel so hollow. I have gone so far, fought so hard, and now that I am so close, I feel as though I should be afraid, afraid because I find myself wondering...what was it I was fighting for again? I know it is you, and I know it is vengeance, but...the question still feels unanswered.
Day Seven-Thousand and Five,
We've broken through the final barrier, and Geoff has insisted we move out at nightfall and storm the castle by surprise. Everyone is antsy with the call to battle, yet I am calm. Perhaps it simply hasn't fazed me yet. It has been twenty years after all...I've spent so much time fighting, enduring one disappointment after another, and now I'm supposed to gear up for victory? This moment isn't real. I won't allow it to be until I see the cold whites of his eyes. I am tired, and this scar on my back is starting to ache. A part of me wonders if it is a sign. I am being "urged" to meet the other generals in the armory, but I am perfectly content to take my time. This calmness...one before the storm it seems. Thinking back, I never expected tranquility upon this night. I think it is because I am well prepared for it to fail.
Day Seven-Thousand, Two-Hundred and Thirty-Five,
I haven't been at liberty to say this sooner, but I was right. We did not slay Severin that night. Our siege of the castle went as planned; though, what was awaiting us inside the castle was not as planned. There were more Harpies, and lots of them. It seems that in his final hurrah, this was Severin's last attempt at a joke before his end. I remember now. I remember why he chose them. And now I understand why Geoff went so mad that night. As if to unnerve me, they screamed my name, the same way they did the night you were taken. For the first time in over twenty years, I heard your voice, and it was coming from wretched vermin. We were ambushed, but we held our own, for a while at least. Our squadrons were separated, and some of us were forced to push back. My troop was out numbered, and I was dealt a nasty blow in the crosshair. Harpy venom is toxic to those who become infected, as magic is useless against it. I know this from past experience... My entourage was pushed out after my injury, while Geoff forced Severin out of his hiding spot. He escaped into the woods while we regrouped, though pursuing him can be held off, as the spot of forest he is hiding in is barred off. It's only a matter of time before we weed him out. I've been cooped up in the camp infirmary for days now while Lareon finishes taking the castle. And as I lay in this blood stained cot, I can't stop recalling the wretched faces of those damned creatures, and the visceral pain with which they mimicked your voice. It reminds me of the night you were stolen, and the flashback brings back so much agony it makes me cringe. I am sure now. After hearing that scream...after telling myself time and time again I would never hear that sound again, and failing at every turn, I have made my decision. This world is not safe for you. This world does not suit you. There is not enough sun, and there are too many tears. You are safe now. You have a life now. You have the ability to move on. And I will not take you back to a place that brought you so much pain. I can not subject you to this place merely for my own desires. Everything I have done, I have done because I have loved you, and I have done so selfishly. I may not let you go, but I will move on. You will be safe and normal and beautiful. You will never be pained by this place, by my hand. You will never break at my hand or anyone else's. But I will never stop fighting for you. Though I will never see you smile, or feel your arms around me, I will not stop until this is finished. I vowed that I would make him suffer for all that he's done, and that is no truer now than it was back then. I have held on to you for so long. You deserve to be free of such desperate shackles. So I promise, that I will not bother you again until such vows have been met.
Day Seven-Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Thirty-Five,
I never thought this day would come. When I last wrote in this journal, I thought it would be a promise left empty. But, Sarah, My Love, we have done it! It took longer than I would have wanted for my injuries to heal, and even longer still for the Imps and the Elves and the Goblins and the Ogres and every other band of magical breed to weed him out; but after two long years we have done it. He kept himself in his raven form, which made him quite difficult to locate, but there aren't many places for him to hide after you've burned said forest to the ground. I was surveying the land when I caught him, but my talons in his back weren't good enough. I forced him to his Fae form to face what was coming. Of course, Geoff had to show up, and insist that we take him in alive to be tried by the Court, but I made you a promise, and I have waited far too long to simply leave him in shackles.
The fucking snake laughed when I read him his fate. He laughed, and I will not tell you of the things he said. But for the first time in years I felt angry again, as angry as I was when we first set out on this wild chase. I'd forgotten what such anger felt like, and it was pure bliss. I've felt so dead inside for all these years, that in the brief moment any surge of energy was pure ecstasy. I was so excited...
I had carved him before Geoff had gotten there, but the pain didn't seem to bother him. And the way he laughed...I grabbed his hair and shoved my sword through his mouth straight out the back of his head. And just as he would have wanted, he died with that smile still on his face. May the gods take note of the mercy I have bestowed him.
I...I stood there, staring at him, watching the life leave his eyes and...and then it was over. Just like that, it was all over. All the years, all the pain, all the death and running around in circles, it was all over. Just like that. I pulled my sword from him, its shaft coated with his foul blood and...and I felt...so...empty. Why do I feel so empty inside? I have been waiting for this moment for so long. For so long. Was it simply a let down? Can I simply not fathom that it is really over? As I sit here, wringing my hair out with frustration, all I can think of is you, and how absolutely nothing has been resolved. This war, this bloody war was never even about Severin. It was about you. It was about the pain you have been dealt. And as I sit here now, I realize that killing him has done nothing to resolve you of that pain. It has done nothing because you were never in that pain. The pain you felt is nothing more than my own memory, and it is a memory I refuse to forget. Have I really grown so accustomed to this game of cat and mouse? Have I gotten comfortable moving from camp to camp, facing one failure after another? Because deep down, I know prolonging this moment was the only way to hide the fact that there is no retribution for this black pit that I have watched grow within me? Because I will not allow myself to be compensated? You are not here to take away my punishment. You are not here to make it go away, and I will never allow you to do so. This war is over now. This story is at it's end. You never knew me. You never loved me. You will soar and find another who is suited to your smile, and you will grow old and live happily while I wither underneath. This is the way it must end. This is my punishment.
And so, this is goodbye, my Sarah, my love. This is the goodbye I will never get to say, and the one you should never have to hear. But let the world know, that I love you Sarah Williams. Everything I have done, the good and the repulsive, I have done because I have loved you. I will always love you. And I am sorry that you ever had to love me back.
Sarah stopped. She stopped because all the air had been choked from her lungs. She tried to swallow it down, and fight off any tears that may have been swelling in her eyes. She remembered the night Jareth came back for her clear as day. She remembered the things he said, and the emotion with which he said them. And now, reading and feeling his thoughts at the time when they first arose...she didn't want to face it. This goodbye was written for her. She couldn't bear those words from him. He was moving on. But he didn't. He didn't move on. He didn't move on because 38 years later he came back for her. She was terrified to turn the next page, terrified to see that it was blank. She turned another and another, unable to accept that this was the last entry. No. This couldn't be it. It couldn't. She was biting her lip when her eyes happened across a bit of text a few pages in. She wasn't sure if she should sigh, or keeping on holding her breath.
Day Nine-Thousand, Five-Hundred and Sixty,
I don't know where to start. I haven't laid eyes on this in five years, and I'm a little shocked with myself that I even kept it for so long. It's been five years since the war ended, which would make it twenty-seven since I last saw you. I swore I would never write in this again. It makes no sense for me to do so. You aren't reading this. I know this isn't you. But...here I am. I suppose the reason I've dug this up is, once again, due to my beloved Geoff. I have been trying to avoid him lately. He's been speaking of you almost regularly, asking why I haven't gone to claim you yet. I...I told him it was because I am waiting until you are the age at which you were taken. This seemed to sate him for the time being, but he is one of the few who are able to see through my facades. His nagging has had me thinking, thinking of things I forced myself to ignore. I hope you know how much I wish to see you. Stupid. What am I saying? You don't. You can't...That should make this easier... I won't do this again. I can't let myself fall prey to such weakness. I need to move on from this book.
Day Eleven-Thousand, Three-Hundred and Eighty-Five,
I understand why Geoff gave me this notebook. I can't quite explain it, but somehow I understand. I carry on with life like nothing happened. I go through the motions of running a kingdom just like I always have. But it seems I'm always aware of this little brown piece of leather wedged between two books on my shelf. There is no portal leading into your life, and yet I feel like this is my window to you. These years of "peace" are dragging by even slower than those of the war. The world is being rebuilt, one fallen kingdom at a time, and the people say it is all thanks to you. It is all thanks to a young girl who has never even been here...
Day Eleven-Thousand, Four-Hundred and Two,
Every day I fight the urge to write in this. This story is supposed to be over, and yet I'm hanging on like my sanity depends on it. All these years I've told myself this book isn't you, and now it seems this is the only part of you I have. I miss you, so much. And it only makes it harder knowing that the only thing keeping you away is my own obduracy. I have toyed with the idea of simply giving in, of allowing myself to indulge in this pitiful fancy. I could sit here and lose myself, writing to you of my day as if I actually expected you to write back. Geoff's nagging continues to unravel me, but I will not give in to it. You are better off in the Above. You are better off never knowing me. And I am better off not being able to have you.
Day Thirteen-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Fifty-Three,
I have been good. I have managed not to so much as touch this book for seven years. Seven years. That seems so long to me now, when before all of this, it would have seemed like no more than a blink. I'm not sure why I gave in this time, and in truth I don't really care. Hearing your name has become a part of daily life. You are a heroin of hope after all.
But I suppose if there is a reason, it would be my newly discovered, and highly regretful, sense of compassion. Geoff's nagging has altered. I'm not sure what about it has changed, but his questioning is affecting me much more deeply these days. I feel as though there is a ...sadness in his eyes. It has been a long, long time since I have seen sadness in Geoff's eyes. The way he looks at me, he doesn't say it, but I know there is disappointment on his face. And I can not help but assume the reason why. I have thought of my friend and of the hardships he has faced, and I can not shake this feeling that it is something bigger than you. He will never say it, but I know he views our plight as a way to redeem his own. I am saddened by this realization, because I am forced to forsake us both to the same suffering. But I can not do as he says. His wishes are selfish, though he views them as otherwise.
It has been over three years for you. You're probably off gallivanting with friends and planning your future. I hope it turns out the way you want it to. With each day that passes, I wonder how you have changed. And a part of me dreams that you have not changed at all. I have learned not to dream. For the sorrow I feel when I wake condemns everything to nightmare.
Day Seventeen-Thousand and Three,
I was hit with the awareness of just how much time has passed when the binding snapped and several pages crumbled upon opening this book.
Each day that passes brings me closer to the moment I thought I would be seeing you again. You are nearly at the point in time when you were first taken, and Geoff has come to suspect that my vow has been less than genuine. I must admit, even with this decision firmly made, I am counting down the days to that moment. Geoff is...becoming impatient, to say the least. I worry for the day when I must tell him I am not coming for you, and I worry for how increasingly difficult it is becoming to keep true to those words. I am anxious, and excited, and resentful. The first time you left me, the first span of fifty years, that went by so quickly. I wonder why it is not the same this time around, but I know the reason. It is because this time I have refused to forget about you, and I have only continued to love you. Geoff knows this...and he does not understand why I am so hesitant. Well, neither do I.
Day Seventeen-Thousand, Two-Hundred and Twenty-Seven,
Well, my dearest, it seems I have been faced with an ultimatum. Apparently, Geoff's temper has run out of fuse, and will no longer tolerate my incompetence. It started off as usual, only it ended with me finally revealing my true intentions. He didn't seem too surprised, and if I had to guess, had been preparing a speech for just such an occasion. I've explained why I can not go back for you, and after a good decade or so, I think I'm finally able to put some conviction into it. He tells me keeping you away is not my decision to make. He says that the entire realm fought for your return, and it is not my place to decide to keep you away from them. He says that you are a beacon of hope, and as such must be returned to those who embodied such hope within you. While his words ring true, they do not affect me any. This world will carry on just fine without you. They have your legend after all, which is more of you than I have. He also says...he says that I can not simply pass over this opportunity. He says that where he once failed, I must succeed. I must take you back, I must utilize the opportunity he never had.
I left his company carrying the threat that should I not come back for you, he would in my stead. I do not doubt the conviction in his words, so much as I doubt my own. But with that said, I can not. I simply can't...
Day Seventeen-Thousand, Nine-Hundred and Fifty-Five,
I've been sitting here, just tapping my pen against this paper, for hours now. I've hounded myself over and over again but I just can't stop thinking. For days now, it's just kept on building. It's all I can think about. Strangely, it started a few months ago, when any and all word from Geoff regarding you and your return stopped dead. His silence...I don't know. It's been driving me mad. And now... and now I feel like I'm so close. I'm so close it hurts, and there's just too much and yet not enough to do. I have tried so hard. I have stayed away for so long. We're in the final stretch and you have no idea how hard it will be for me to cross that finish line. These damn clocks are torture, each tick another reminder of what I should be doing. But I don't know what it is I should be doing anymore. I imagine what it would be like to see you again, and I wonder how you would look at me. Would you smile? Would you cringe? Or would you simply turn away? I'm struggling to handle the anticipation of a culmination of fifty years worth of waiting, knowing that this should be its end, and forcing myself to simply turn a blind eye from it. I am hoping that writing this will help somehow, but I'm not sure what it will help strengthen-my conviction or my temptation.
I have been pacing in thought. And I know my demise is at hand, for my blind eye stands idle while I feed my shriveled sense of hope questions and flakes of delusion bit by bit. What would be the harm to simply lay eyes on you just one more time? What would be the harm in making myself known? What would be the harm in touching you, just one. last. time.? What would be the harm in simply turning my back on you blindly?
As it always is, my will rejects my sense of better judgment. I want to see you again. I want to feel you, to speak with you, just one more time. And I know that I am only making excuses for myself for why that would be okay. But it is not. I will not allow weakness. But I also know, that I am not strong enough to avoid my own weaknesses anymore. Being alone in this castle for so long, I realize that it was you that gave me my strength, and now that I realize it, I can not maintain the facade without you. The ghost of your memory still walks these halls...I find myself spying on it, hoping to one day run into it and that we may become lost together.
But no matter my weakness, I stand resolute that I will not take you back. I can't allow it, no matter how much I may want to give in. But, as I am finally starting to grasp the true length of eternity, I know that my sanity can not thrive much longer without at least seeing what has become of you. There are too many what ifs fluttering about these halls. I need to know what has become of you. I think seeing it, seeing how right my decision has proven to be, will give me the closure needed to finally move on from you and this little brown book. I know that this is just another excuse. I know that I know and I know what that means, but I simply don't care. While I preach otherwise, I know what lurks in my heart, and I know what lies I have used to justify it. I come to you in weakness, Sarah. I come to you as you came to me- beaten, broken, and so grateful. Only you have the power to command the Goblin King. And I will beg of you to give me the sanction of your blind eye, because I no longer have the will to command myself. I know how I want this to go, and I know how this should go. What I don't know, is which is which.
So please, I beg you not to smile at me. I beg you not to be the woman I so desperately want you to be. I beg you turn your back on me and send me away. I beg you take this pain from me, and if you are still so gracious to do so, I then beg for your forgiveness, because I could not do as you have done. I can not be selfless. I will tell myself my will is just. I will tell myself this is all harmless. I will tell myself that Geoff is wrong.
I will not take you back. I will go, just to see how you have grown...just to see you, one last time. There is no harm in that. I just need to see. No harm at all.
Sarah eased back into the chair with a low sigh. This must have been the final entry before the night she wished herself back. A heavy weight had fallen over her as she read, heady with full comprehension of the gravity of the decision she had made that night. She knew it then, and she knew it now; he was too weak to make the decision himself...and so she made it for him. All that vague fluffy writing, and that's all he was trying to say. That one, seemingly obvious decision was such a burden on him...and yet she had made it so impulsively. She started to frown. Though she would never take it back, she couldn't help but feel that her actions that night were indeed rash and irrational. She knew he had suffered over their years apart, but as she knew now, she was not quite ready to face it. Why had this been left out? With her last bit of remaining curiosity, she curled the end of the paper, about to turn it and see what, if anything, lay on the next page. The paper crinkled between her fingers, but the sound was drowned by that of a door suddenly slamming shut.
Sarah nearly jumped out of her skin at the loud echo of the bedroom door as it shut itself behind a mysterious intruder. She hadn't heard him come in, hadn't had time to prepare herself, or even manage to set the book down for that matter, when Jareth came stalking around the corner. Her eyes were wide and her face was pale when she saw him, her nervous little fingers keeping the book petrified out in front of her for all to see. He looked up, and halted mid-step. Their eyes met from across the room, and Sarah couldn't tell if the cold look of disdain he was giving her was in fact anger, or simple exhaustion. His body shifted, and eyes lowered, staring through her, and it seemed Sarah was suffering through the longest single heartbeat of her life. He looked away and carried on towards the bed.
Sarah began to stand, still gripping his journal close to her chest. She had no idea what to do, what to say, whether or not she should even move. She watched him as he stood with his back to her, and started pulling out the loose ends of his shirt. Whatever indiscretion she had just been caught in, it didn't seem like it was disrupting his evening nap any. She took this as a good sign; but the palpable amounts of tension coursing through him only worked to counteract that small blip of ease.
"Jareth, I-" she started, but found herself breathless.
"Are you going to finish it?" he asked, his voice laced with agitation and utter exhaustion. Sarah hesitated, wallowing from foot to foot as she tried to decipher through the situation. Jareth hadn't been angry with her in a very, very long time. And she didn't blame him. She had gone snooping through his most private thoughts. How else should he act? She opened her mouth to speak, her fingers tapping restlessly against the binding, but no words came. Instead, she was only able to gawk hopelessly as he drew his shirt up and over his head, and then leaned down to remove his boots. Sarah found his behavior worrying, he was never one to simply turn his back on an issue. And that was literally what he was trying to do. Not to mention the sight of that scar on his back didn't help to lessen her discomfort any. She frowned and scowled and twisted her lips as she jittered with anxiety. He paused, and turned his head towards her, though he kept his eyes low. "Well?" he asked, with impatience it seemed, leaving Sarah all too uncertain of how much sincerity truly laid in that one word. She lowered her head in shame.
"Jareth, I...I didn't mean..."
"You can join me when you're finished," he snarled, turning away form her and crawling into bed. She watched the rigidity of his movements, soon followed by the utter lax that washed over him as he hit the sheets. She hoped, desperately, that it really was just his exhaustion that had put him so on edge. She frowned, and sat back in her seat. She felt like a scolded child on the verge of tears, and had no idea why. He hadn't yelled, hadn't given any clear indication that he was angry. He didn't stop her or take it away, quite the contrary in fact. And yet she couldn't shake the feeling that even though he had prompted her to do so, she was in no way meant to be reading what ever was written on the next page. A part of her, a very large part, was urging her to simply set it down and crawl in next to him. It was with a tightly furrowed brow that she finally found the courage to turn the page.
Day Eighteen-Thousand, and Twenty-One,
Mark this day, number Eighteen-thousand and twenty-one, for the world has ended and I have surely met my demise.
It has been approximately sixty seven days that you have come back to me. And I count each one like one scarce breath after another. I can not tell you how distraught you have made me. And I can not tell you how happy I have been. I sit at this desk and mimic the motions that have been the cause and the outlet for so much pain, and I can only laugh. Time, it is such a mercurial thing. For all those ages I could not bear now seem but a mere shadow fading off in the distance. I have watched you. I watch you walk these halls and light them with your radiance and it feels...It feels like you never left. How can that be? How can I have gone through so much suffering and have it all be absolved with just the grace of one smile? Was my plight really so petulant?
You are here now. I write this, because those are words I never thought I would be able write, and I feel that is worth the ink. You. Are. Here. And what am I to do of this? I could say I have tried, but it would be little more than a lie. I have spoken many words, made many decrees and written many things, but put meaning to them I have not. I am selfish, and I take what I want. But so much has been taken from you, that it could only do to have you give me even more. I've tried to convince myself that keeping you away was for the greater good, but you have shown me that sometimes the cause for the greater good is a selfish one, and that I can blame it all on you. You wished yourself back to me, and I will always wish that you hadn't. And I could never be happier that you did. I think only you will be able to understand that. I told you this once, many years ago: though I may have set you free, I will never let you go. You are mine, and you will always be mine. I have done so many horrible things, and caused so many horrible things, yet you refuse to falter. You refuse to give in- to me, to Severin, to the world. You were always so strong. Even when crushed to bits, your life shone through the cracks and burned brighter than mine could ever hope to fathom. It is because you always smile, and it is because I will never understand the reason why, that I love you. That I have always loved you. And that I will always be sorry.
This is my final entry, the last chapter in this dreadful little book. But while this story is finally finished, it will never be over. I still don't know if you will ever read this, and I'm doubtful if I'll ever want you to. I need to hurry this up, you're off in the gardens now, and I know that as soon as you return I will have no head about me to remember what I need to say.
I know why Love is both a shield and a sword, and I know why some things are worth dying for. My world was reduced to a rubble of dust and darkness, grounded with nothing but countless dreams and broken things. And I savor this hallow, for whatever becomes of it, will be what we make of it. Together.
Sarah slowly placed the book down and took her hands away from it. She was quiet. The world was quiet. She flipped the page, and was met with the blank face of the back cover. She looked over, and saw Jareth sprawled with his eyes closed and a scowl on his face. She looked down into her lap and pondered, fiddling with her fingers. This situation...didn't seem to have a direction. Had he simply forgotten to put it away when he came to take her to see her parents earlier today? That would mean that this last entry was written only a few hours ago... She shook her head then: It was not her place to have read this, not until he was ready for her to read it. She was about to apologize, but knew he would reprimand her more for saying those words without strong enough provocation. Was this considered strong enough reason? She bit her lip and reached out for the book once more.
"...Jareth?" she asked, eyeing him intently for any hint of reaction. His brow twitched. She glanced down again, and paused... "Who's...Diyanna?"
She wasn't sure why, of all the questions she could ask, she chose that one in particular; but it was the easiest one to voice. She watched him eagerly, and almost felt ease when he seemed to relax a little into the sheets.
"That...is not my story to tell," he said, his voice a heavy drawl. From his tone alone, Sarah could tell it wouldn't be much longer before he was out for the count. She stood and made her way to the bed -taking the book along with her. She was still wary of his anger when crawling in beside him, but the way he maneuvered his arm to pull her in closer helped sooth her worry. She snuggled up against him, clutching the book between her chest and his ribcage. He didn't say anything against it. She waited a few moments. And in those moments, between the cushion of the sheets and the warmth of his arm around her, she realized that he wasn't angry with her. The look he gave her when he first came in... she knew it now, and she knew that he was nervous. He was nervous of how she would react. He was nervous and he was exhausted. Of course he was... She chose to save him from that turmoil with a distraction.
"Jareth?" she asked, peering up at him as best she could. His eyes were still firmly closed.
"Do you remember earlier today, when I took Toby for a walk to the grocery store at the end of the block?" She felt Jareth shift a bit, and saw him scowl as he thought over her question.
"Mmmphh...yes?" he grumbled, and it almost made Sarah laugh at how beaten down he sounded. Yeah...she knew she didn't have more than another five minutes or so before he passed out.
"Well...I saw something in the store and I bought it...I don't know why, I guess it was just for fun. I didn't really think it would actually turn out positive..." She lowered her eyes and trailed a hand down his torso as she talked, the light tone of her voice wanting to convince him that the sorrows of his past had no impact on the happiness of their future. And thinking of it now, it didn't seem like there could have been a more perfect opportunity.
"What are you talking about?" he interrupted, sounding groggy and grumpy and grumbling. Sarah sighed, and rested her head against his shoulder.
"I'm sorry I read your journal if you weren't ready for me to read it. But I don't want you to fall asleep with that on your mind. I want you to have a pleasant dream for once..." She could feel his breathing becoming more and more shallow through his chest, and felt his arm grow more heavy as is resigned to become dead weight against her back. She scootched up to him just as he was drifting off, and placed a gentle peck on his cheek. "I'm pregnant," she whispered, and settled down into the niche she knew so well.
She closed her eyes and snuggled. And because he deserved it like no other man in this universe, because it was finally time to start putting all those broken pieces of his back together and because it was time that he realized just how selfish she could be, she took away that pain which he clung to so desperately. She forced unto him happiness, because it made her happy. She took this for herself, because it was what he needed of her. Because some things are worth the pain. Some things are worth the fight. And because some things are worth dying for.
That night passed in silence, lost in a reality of fire and thorns, as they forever shared the sweetest of dreams.
A/N- And so, this is the official end to Of Dreams And Broken Things. It feels like no time at all, and yet I can't believe it's taken this long to get to this point (I've been writing this for over a year now! XO ). Also, if you, along with Sarah, are wondering who the hell Diyanna is and why Jareth is remembering her, well: I am pleased to announce that I have decided to write an OC spin off featuring Geoff. I'm actually really, really looking forward to this, as I've spent a great deal of time planning it out. I haven't decided on the final title yet, and I can't really say as to when you should be on the look out for it; but I can say that it won't be for a long while. I'm thinking of writing most of the story before uploading, so that I can reedit and work through any bugs/plot inconsistencies before hand. I know OC fics aren't for everyone, I myself don't much care for them, but I have a lot of confidence in this one. As it's set in the past, well before fate had even thought up Sarah and Jareth, we'll get to see the events that shaped those in the world of OD&BT. This will be Geoff's story, of who he is and how he became who he is. And we'll get to see a different kind of Jareth, and the events of his past that forcibly shaped him into who he becomes later on -in Labyrinth and beyond (in the verse of OD&BT anyway). We'll also get to see the origins of many of the themes that play through Dreams, and find out just how and why Geoff ended up with Jareth for a best friend. It will be exciting. It will be lovely. It will epic. And it will be clever clever. Hopefully, you'll think so too.
There, that will be my teaser. I hope it worked.
As always, thanks for reading. Until next time,