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Give me back my heart.

Sarah felt time slow around her. An unnameable ache blossomed in her chest, catching in her throat. She stared into Jareth's mismatched eyes, lost in the agony she saw reflected there. She couldn't speak, couldn't put voice to the thoughts that tumbled through her mind.

For seven years, she had burned with regret. She had fought him, scorned him, fled from him. And he had haunted her, waking and sleeping, tormenting her in her dreams of him. She had withdrawn from the world, withdrawn from everyone who knew her, everyone who cared for her, because no one else could fill the aching void he had left behind. His words echoed through her.

Give me back my heart.

She wanted to weep, or laugh, at the bitter irony of his request. He asked her to surrender his heart - when he had held hers captive since she had first laid eyes on him. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears, feel the sting of tears in her eyes.

"What if I say no," she whispered. Jareth's eyes widened, and rage flashed across his features so quickly she flinched away from him. She wasn't fast enough. His hands were buried in her hair, and his mouth slanted across hers. He kissed her like a man drowning, forcing her lips apart and plundering her mouth with his tongue. Sarah moaned against him, heat blooming low in her belly, and her hands fluttered against his chest like trapped birds. He growled as she surrendered, nipping at her lips. She tasted blood, sharp and copper-tinged, and gripped the open collar of his shirt in her fists. He was devouring her, consuming her, and she fell beneath a red wave of lust.

As quickly as it had began, it was over - he tore himself free of her mouth, rising to his feet and backing away. His eyes were glazed, and a single drop of her blood glistened on his lip in the moonlight. Sarah swayed, yearning toward him, but he raised a hand, almost in warning. It trembled between them, warding her away from him, and she rose slowly, unsteady on her feet.

"Sarah..." he began, but she shook her head sharply.

"No, Jareth. Don't tell me that I don't know what I'm doing." Her voice was rough with desire, but her head was clear for the first time since she'd seen the owl on the lamp post. "You say that you want to be free of me, that you won't offer yourself again. It isn't fair to ask that of me. You say you want your heart back, but you haven't offered me mine in exchange. So the answer is no." His face contorted, snarling.

"If you defy me, Sarah, I will take what is mine by rights." She heard the warning in his voice, and understood it. She was no longer the frightened fifteen year old she had been when she faced him the first time.

"Seven years ago, I was still a child. I wasn't ready. For any of it. And I have regretted my choice for seven years, Jareth. I have relived it every night." Her voice was steady, calm. "I didn't understand how I could be so afraid of you and yet still want you to touch me, notice me. I was just as afraid of myself." She smiled, softly, and watched as her words settled on him. The anger drained from him like water, and his shoulders slumped. Her heart ached to see him look so defeated - even when she had spoken the fateful words seven years before, he had kept his pride.

"Regret..." His eyes pierced her. "Oh, my lovely Sarah, you know nothing of regret." Sarah stood silently, sensing the history behind those words. Jareth seemed strangely vulnerable, as though her admission had broken some wall within him. He moved closer to her, but his stance was no longer threatening, no longer a bid for dominance. She waited, but he didn't speak, merely stood at her side, gazing into the shadows beneath the trees.

"Jareth," she said, gently. "Can you forgive me?" He looked at her sharply, and when he cocked his head some measure of his confidence seemed to return.

"My dear, whatever for?" he drawled.

"For destroying your kingdom. For hurting you." The smile that played across his mouth was rueful.

"Ah, so now we come to brutal honesty. However unkind it may be."

"It's better than all the deception, Jareth. At least this time maybe we'll both know what we're getting into."

"Ah." Just a single syllable. "And just what is that, hmm? What are you planning on 'getting into'?" His grin was mocking.

"You said that the Labyrinth had chosen a Queen..." she paused, gathering her thoughts. "I assume you meant me?" He inclined his head regally. She took a deep breath. For seven years, she had throttled her own impulsiveness, her tendency to reckless action. The Labyrinth had taught her that lesson in spades. But now, standing next to the Goblin King, she loosed the reins on her nature. "I'm willing to try, if you are."