DISCLAIMER: Settings, characters, scenes, ideas, etc from Labyrinth are (c) Henson, Lucas, Froud, Lee, Bowie, Connelly, etc, and NOT MINE. I don't own any owls of any kind, either. OC belongs to / is Autumn O'Shea Swan, in thanks for much! But I have worked retail.
WONDERFUL thanks to startraveller776 for Beta! Anything that doesn't make sense is my fault, for tweaking it after she sent it back.
She was running late. Naturally. Rehearsal ran until two-thirty instead of ending as planned at two o'clock. In this case, it was a good thing; it was going well, and their director, Jeremy, was pleased. But that didn't stop Autumn from groaning about it as she walked into the local toy store.
She was on a mission, and nothing and nobody would delay her further.
Today was the day she got to meet her god-daughter, her unofficial niece: Sarah, the daughter of her fellow company-member Linda. She simply couldn't arrive empty-handed!
As Autumn quickly pushed the door open, the bell jingled rapidly. The clerk at the register must have noticed the determined expression on this shopper's face, because he purposefully didn't mention that the store was due to close for inventory in ten minutes; the large signs in the store windows and by the register were all too clear on the subject.
Autumn sighed as she scanned the shelves. "I rushed to get here, and now I haven't a clue what to get."
"May I be of service?"
At the sound of a cultured, accented, and intriguing speaking voice, Autumn jumped, not realizing that she had spoken aloud.
Glancing at a blond gentleman of medium height beside her, she gestured to the bank of stuffed animals that threatened to over-run the shelves.
"I'm out of time and have no idea what to get… and I know that the clerk didn't want to tell me that they're closing early today…"
The slender stranger studied the toys in front of them.
"It is an impressive array, isn't it?" His unmatched eyes twinkled with almost-laughter as he struck a pose of deep concentration.
Autumn laughed in response, truly relaxed for the first time today. "Exactly! I ask you, what kind of fluffy critter would be appropriate for a newborn, but that she would enjoy keeping for a few years after that?"
"I see. An Earth-shattering decision. Let me see what I can do. With your permission, of course."
Receiving a nod from Autumn, her unexpected companion set to work as though truly on a mission of utmost personal importance. He looked every stuffed animal in the eyes—plush, be-furred, feathered, or otherwise—as though considering personality and character. At long last, he turned with an understated flourish to the formerly impatient shopper. In his hands lay a single option.
"Here, Autumn, is the gift that you should take to… What did you say her name was?"
So intrigued was she by the utter solemnity in the stranger's demeanor that she didn't even notice his use of her name. "Sarah. It's for my god-daughter, Sarah."
She took the fluffy toy he offered, not questioning his choice of an owl. As he turned to leave, she remembered her manners. "Wait, please. Thank you so much, sir."
She extended her hand, expecting him to shake it; her jaw dropped when he raised it for a brief kiss instead.
"The pleasure, my lady, was all mine."
Her stunned silence and increasing blush must have been gratifying, as he pressed her hand to his lips once more and continued. "Tell Sarah that the owl is named Jareth. That will be more than enough thanks."
He released her hand, and walked away. After an unmeasured space of time, Autumn blinked, holding the fluffy owl, "Jareth," in her hands, ready to face the clerk at the register.
It was the same clerk from when she arrived, instead of the manager, trying to get lingering customers out the door, but he didn't seem at all agitated. Autumn glanced at the "3 pm closing for inventory" sign as she left, unchanged from before.
Walking slowly to her car, she wondered. Hadn't rehearsal ended at two-thirty instead of at two o'clock, as scheduled? Deciding to let that mystery go, Autumn headed to the Williams residence.
Little Sarah quickly became attached to Owl-Jareth. She wouldn't sleep without it; when she was tucked in with it, she slept through the night. Her baby-sitters rapidly learned to include the stuffed animal in everything, too.
Scooting, rolling, and crawling, Sarah dragged, pushed and otherwise "carried" Owl-Jareth everywhere. Once she started to walk on her own, she was immediately recognizable as the toddler with the owl. Her Dad briefly wondered if the Owl didn't sometimes feel like Pooh, being dragged up the stairs and having his head bumped so very frequently.
And then, one day, the Owl was gone. Sarah was about to turn five. She came down to breakfast, alone.
"Jareth had to leave, Daddy. But he said that I'd get some new friends, and that it was okay to have fun with them, too. I miss him, but he said that maybe I'd get a new teddy bear to play with instead, and that you and Mommy would help me name him."
Robert and Linda exchanged a look, their connection to Sarah allowing them this rare moment of complete sympathy, allowing each of them to hope that their period of drifting apart was over. They'd find Sarah the best teddy bear their town's toy store could offer. After all, it had an impressive array of stuffed animals. It never occurred to them to wonder how the Owl had disappeared.
A/N: Ta-da! This is also now my vague head-canon as to how / why GND-Sarah is usually very open to Fluffy-Owl-Jareth. :) GND, is, of course "Girls Next Door", a massive cross-over web-comic by the ever-amazing Pika-la-Cynique. See links on my profile.
There have been questions about the order and continuity of the Magical Past chapters. All of them happen in the same continuity, posted in whatever order I thought of them, not based chronology or calendar order of events. Not AU. Hope that helps to clear it up.
As always, you've got questions or see typo's... I want 'em!