DISCLAIMER: Characters, scenes, ideas, settings, etc, from the movie Labyrinth are (c) Henson, Lucas, Froud, Lee, Bowi, etc, and ARE NOT MINE. OCs are mine, except where traits are borrowed from various cultural & mythological traditions. The impact that Dreams can have on life is not completely clear. I have not consciously borrowed from any particular tradition, mythology, or creed for this story. Any resemblance is coincidental. (stay tuned for A/N at the end)

BETA credit to Tobyk947 and startraveller776. See A/N at end for information about Rshymn.

Shall we walk a ways?

Jareth smirks.

"'We'? I would be curious to see how the very Magic of the Labyrinth and its allies propose to walk as though it were a leggèd creature."

His tone, while ultimately respectful, manages to convey disbelief, amusement, and the Right of the Monarch to question the response of a suppliant.

"There's a mortal expression which you will come to know. 'It's a piece of cake,' Your Majesty."

Rshymn approaches, a familiar, almost taunting expression on her face as she nears the Goblin King.

Jareth flinches. Despite knowing that his Dreams while in an antechamber of the High Court pose no imminent, physical danger, he flinches. His reaction is more from utter incredulity than due to a perceived threat. He did not think to see her again so soon.

They begin to traverse the landscape, their pace deceptively smooth for all its speed. The Dreamer has something on his mind, and might try to out-distance it, or to catch it.

Before he can fully think to ask, "How can this be?" his unexpected companion explains.

"Please do not trouble yourself, my dear boy. Don't you remember what you learned about this unique space and time?"

A memory flickers through: Ghervin and Threstia discussing possibilities; of dealing with separation; of maintaining bonds and links; of having a Presence in another's Dreaming.

Jareth recalls the smile that his parents exchanged during that last lesson, and knows why he recognizes this figure before him. He knows her True name, and her Source. He also knows not to speak his mother's name in this setting; he would not lose this opportunity to speak with her further.

"We will not be joined by any others, Your Highness."

Rshymn answers the question that the Goblin King dares not ask. Their family will not be reunited, even in this non-place, even under different names. His wry, resigned smile accompanies a nod to indicate a willingness to proceed with the intended conversation. He will at least relish the opportunity to gaze directly at her this time.

"The time draws close, Goblin King."

"I am pleased to hear it, Rshymn, although I do wonder at your frame of reference."

"My dear boy, your perspective will broaden some day, too."

"I seem to recall learning that each new ability comes naught but at a cost. Given the look on your face, this particular lesson promises to be… impressive… according to any consideration. You know that I would request additional clarification on exactly what time draws close, but I rather think that you would not be permitted to tell me? What a pity."

His face, gazing into the distance of this dreamscape, reveals the weight that he has carried: his yearnings, and the still unquenchable Hope that inspired the organization of the non-Being Magic on Jareth's behalf; his pain from the loneliness; his near-resignation in the face of his likely future; his willingness to allow the Labyrinthine alliance to proceed with its plan; his impatience to have done with it; and his arrogance and hurt pride at the thought of having such an obvious need.

His inner conflict seethes, threatening his composure even here. The Goblin King has developed control over this turmoil, refusing to let it interfere with his life, his rule, his Kingdom and its subjects. Now, though, in this non-place, he questions the validity of restraint. Only the fact of Rshymn's presence allows him the lucidity he needs.

Rshymn watches as Jareth wills himself toward a level of calm. Or if not calm, then slightly closer to it. Mother stifles a sigh of regret at her son's struggle.

"Have a care, dear boy. You know how much we fear for you. All of us. Your strength of character, your will, your focus, and your stubbornness have not left you vulnerable to much. But even now, it is imperative that you maintain control. Better not to say anything."

The out-rush of breath and a look of utter disdain communicates Jareth's opinion of caution in this moment.

"'Have a care'? Or what? I'll have to watch the centuries roll by while I continue alone? I'm already doing that, and it has begun to pall. I witnessed firsthand the failure of gripping the 'soonest possible' moment already. The pain when the early opportunity is missed or ignored or simply permitted to dance away, and I tell you – "

They halt abruptly in their walk.

Rshymn's eyes flash with unacknowledged tears and with temper as she touches the suddenly imperious Goblin King. One hand on his arm, the other a single finger to stop his mouth. She knows the murky ground that he courts in this momentary and unaccustomed expression. She knows that words spoken from depth in Dreams carry forward. What's said is said, and its repercussions are inexorable.

Jareth sees his mother's pain even as he shakes his head. He shakes off her touch even as he shakes off her warning.

"No. Tell that Magic, that non-Being yet well-intentioned amalgamation somewhat organized around my very own overgrown maze that it should notice that time grows short, and it tries my patience."

Rshymn dares take a breath. He has not said anything definite. Perhaps he just needs this opportunity to confront a faceless non-sentient and implacable, uncontrollable force that he cannot remove, avoid, or train.

"Tell that Magic to make its choice."

A pause. Everything pauses.

The High Court itself could have been ready for the Goblin King, and it would not have mattered, for the Goblin King was about to utter those right words, but at the wrong time.

The idea of a "wrong time" and a "right time" is vague, granted. In this situation, the "right time" would have presented itself later. Perhaps in a conversation between father and son, High King and liegeman, Goblin King and rock-caller, or owl and human girl.

None will know.

"Tell that Magic to present my Queen to me as soon as she begins to display the fore-runners of aptitude and awareness, the precursors of strength of will and determination, the cornerstone of imagination and charm, the foundation of ruling ability and a desire to explore, the seeds of love and passion, and a hint of the loveliness and fascination that will hold my attention while we learn of each other and become all for each other.

"As soon as all this, that Magic will present her to me. I, Jareth, the Goblin King, declare this."

Everything connected with the Goblin King flinches.

Evincing a sad smile, Rshymn reaches out, brushing Jareth's cheek.

"You have been Heard. What you've said, dear boy… I will not promise that nobody will taunt you or try to exploit this as a weakness; I cannot make such a guarantee. Please remember your true friends when this starts to weigh on you."

Jareth's face still set in his determination, he manages to give this beloved lady a smile in thanks, even as his mind fills in the short list of those true friends.

His mind circles also around, aware of the different mood of the Dream, of his kingdom, and even of that Magic. The focus, now more pointed if still indefinite, could serve once again to feed his curiosity instead of fueling his new-born disgust.

In addition to this ineffable change is the clear knowledge of approach. The High Court would shortly be ready for him.

His breathing shifts, revealing a slight release of tension. He bows to this present personification of his mother, kisses her hand, and releases both of them from this Dream.

A/N: Rshymn is / belongs to Ravenshymn on dA. See my profile for the link to her dA page.
So... What's coming next?

As always, please spot typos, lob questions and speculations, but no plot-bunnies, please!