Rating: T (PG-13) for the time being. The rating may change as the story goes along.
Summary: At nineteen Sarah Williams has settled into a comfortingly mundane life, the Labyrinth nothing but a hazy memory. She should have known better than to forget though, because the Goblin King is not willing to let the past die. This is a rewrite of the original story by the same title.
Author's Notes: So six years to the day after starting Dramatic Orchestrations, I've decided to sit down and redo it. When I originally created this story, I pretty much made it up as I went along and, as a consequence, there were a lot of plot threads that were never properly explained or explored. There are a lot of elements in this story that I plan to tighten up in the interest of creating a better, more cohesive tale. Some parts of the story will remain untouched, some parts will introduce new content, while other parts will change completely. I will remain true to the spirit of the fic, but I hope that when everything is said and done we will be left with a story that we can all agree is at least a little bit better than the original was.
To date, Dramatic Orchestrations is the longest story I've ever written, so this project may take some time to complete, especially since more things will change in later parts of the story as compared to earlier parts. What this means for the sequel, Listen For Thunder, I'm still not certain. We will cross that bridge together when we get there.
Most importantly, let's all just have fun with this! Also, I will try my best to leave the original version up, in case you find you still prefer that to the new one. Otherwise, happy reading!
Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable as having come from the movie Labyrinth. This story was written purely in the interest of fun, and no money is being made off it.
Chapter One: A Second Beginning
Somewhere the world was flat and filled with grassy fields that seemed to stretch on forever, glistening with dew that had yet to burn up in the afternoon sun. Somewhere the sky was blue and the air was hot and thick. Somewhere there was an ocean, warm and endless like a good bath. Somewhere there were humans.
But not here.
Here there were mountains, jagged and gently sloped alike, rising up as if to touch the heavens. Here the sky was an impossible mix of gold, orange, and silver, and the air was thin and cold like all proper mountain air should be. Here there was snow, a frozen ocean glittering like fallen stardust. Here there was magic.
His family had lived and ruled here for millennia, and would continue to do so, but…
But something was changing.
Just a gentle shift in the wind, just a brief twist in his heart. That was all that he could feel right now, but more would come, he was certain of it. More would come, and for better or worse, his kingdom would change. Something momentous was just over the horizon, something that would define a new age for his people. He could only hope that it would be for the best.
Music filtered slowly to her ears, soft and lulling. It was a gentle, pretty waltz, the kind of thing that no one listened to anymore. For a while, the music was the only thing she was aware of. Then, slowly, her other senses kicked in. She was somewhere dark and cold, somewhere large and open.
Suddenly, as if sensing her new awareness, sconces lit along the walls, followed quickly by table-bound candles, then several fireplaces nearly twice her height roared to life, and finally two massive crystal chandeliers began to burn brightly. What had once been no more than blank darkness was now alive with firelight. The coldness did not abate, though, and a chilled draft played cruel tricks on the fire, which in turn played cruel tricks on her. The fires flickered and wavered, casting shadows that seemed to dance in time to the gentle waltz. The sight was beautiful and mesmerizing, but more than a little unnerving. Feeling uneasy, she resolutely turned her gaze away from the shadows.
Quietly, the girl walked around the enormous room, taking in her new surroundings. The floor was made of exquisite marble that gleamed in the firelight, flashing the barest hints of warm orange and gentle grey. The walls were covered in soft purple, red, and gold tapestries, and the ceiling seemed to rise up forever, studded by the two chandeliers on either end of the room. It was a stunning ballroom that clearly conveyed the owner's wealth while still managing to be open and inviting. All the same, something about the place was off; something made her nervous.
The waltz slowed and reached its end, and for one horrible moment everything was still and silent. The shadows seemed to lengthen and freeze, and despite the heat that must have been pouring out of the blazing fires, the room grew colder still. Some primitive fear sparked in the girl's brain, warning her that the silence and the stillness was unnatural and wrong. She paused, holding her breath as some long forgotten instinct begged her to run. Just as her nerves reached the breaking point, the invisible players picked up again, this time with a sprightly court tune that probably hadn't been played in centuries. Mollified, the shadows began to move once more, and if she looked hard enough she swore she could see them take the form of one distinct silhouette, endlessly repeated. The stillness was gone, but her nerves did not retreat; disturbed by the subtle wrongness she could could not place, the girl began looking for an exit.
"Leaving so soon?" The voice was no more than a whisper, but echoed throughout the entire room.
The shadows seemed to freeze, and if they had possessed eyes she had no doubt that they would all be looking right at her. Discreetly she tried to move a little closer to the door that she had found. Just as she seemed to reach her means of escape, the giant double doors slammed shut with a resounding bang.
"Please let me out," the girl pleaded evenly, striving for a bravery she did not completely feel.
"Oh no, dear, we can't have you leaving before the real fun gets started," the voice chuckled, no longer whispering. The speaker was cultured and male, but beyond that the voice defied identification.
The girl squared her shoulders, drew herself up to her full height and demanded, "Open the doors."
"The party's barely begun," he laughed at her impatience. "We haven't even been properly introduced yet, and you would leave now? Very poor manners, my lady."
Equal parts unnerved and angered, she whirled around, grabbed one of the door handles and began to yank viciously. The heavy wood refused to budge. "Let me out!" she gritted, aware that the shadows were beginning to close in on her.
A sigh ghosted over her ear. "I had hoped for a better reaction on your part, but I suppose some things are inevitable."
She gave up on the door, but didn't turn around. Whatever shape the disconcerting presence behind her took, the girl was certain she didn't want to see it. "What are you talking about?"
"It will happen sooner than you think." Another sigh. "Faster than you think."
"I don't understand," she whispered tightly, confusion restricting her throat.
The shadows loomed and deepened, the presence behind her becoming oppressive. "He is coming for you," the voice replied, not a warning or a threat, just mere fact lacing his tone. "We are coming for you."
The girl had questions, so many questions, but the doors were suddenly swinging open on silent hinges, and escape was more important than answers right now. Without sparing a glance behind her, without giving in to the temptation to see who she'd been talking to, the girl strode over the threshold, out into the corridor and…
Sarah Williams jolted out of bed, confused and disoriented as the fog of her strange dream quickly evaporated in the face of reality. She sighed and began to gather up the sheets that had been tossed aside when she had jumped from her sleep. She couldn't quite remember what it was that had startled her, but she was sure it had been something unusual. Not that unusual wasn't entirely unexpected; strange things seemed to happen around her on a regular basis. Still, something about this stuck with her, a subtle unease lurking at the back of her thoughts.
Once the bed was straightened she looked out the window and decided it wouldn't be worth it to go back to sleep since the sun was already coming up. "Terrible way to start the morning," she grumbled to herself, already heading to the bathroom for a nice hot shower.
The water was slow to warm up that morning, and she idly drummed her fingers while she waited, sneaking an occasional glance in the mirror. Something about the silvered glass made her uncomfortable, as though her subtly changing reflection was slowly turning into a stranger. When she'd been fifteen, Sarah had had smooth brown hair, serious hazel eyes, and a lanky figure; at nineteen now, her hair was silky black, her eyes a laughing emerald, and her figure had filled out pleasantly, bearing curves where there had once been nothing. The stranger in the mirror was beautiful, but a stranger all the same. Still, if she looked hard enough she could see the same wistful air she'd always carried about herself, still see the longing in her eyes for something more than she was getting, still feel the utter yearning for adventure. There just seemed to be some things the soul could not shed itself of.
Tearing her glance away from the mirror, Sarah stepped into the shower and hissed slightly as the now scalding water hit her skin. She'd spent too much time waiting, had let her thoughts drift for too long. Yet, even now, her thoughts continued to drift, and she found herself unable to stop them. Given free rein, her mind inevitably settled on the Labyrinth. Four and a half years after the fact and she still couldn't figure out what had happened. Sarah knew the fantastic adventure wasn't realistically possible; people did not pop into different dimensions and run giant mazes to save their little brothers. But in her heart she knew that even she had dreamt the entirety of the Labyrinth, the lessons that the experience had given her were real enough.
And that was where the metaphor broke down, because sometimes she felt as though she hadn't changed at all.
Lesson one: be careful what you wish for and mean what you say; which she thought was asking a lot of any teenager, seeing as they were all ruled by hormones and emotions, and sometimes things just slipped. It wasn't an excuse, but a sad reality. Sarah had a sinking feeling that she would always be a little impulsive, no matter how old she became.
Lesson two: take nothing for granted, which was certainly harder than it sounded, because she found herself taking things for granted all the time.
Lesson three: make sacrifices and embrace maturity, but there were times when she wanted nothing more than to kick and scream until things went her way. Sarah was standing just at the edge of adulthood and, in many ways, she was already an adult, but there were times when it was comforting, when it was easier, to wear the guise of a child.
Of course there were times when it seemed as though everything had changed and she had well and truly learned her lessons. But, as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever and she would inevitably find herself slipping back into old habits.
'I can't avoid growing up,' she thought seriously while lathering her hair. 'So I wish I could stop clinging to my childhood.' But somewhere deep in her mind, she knew that the thought of fully growing up scared her, that somewhere along the line something that essentially made her who she was would be lost for good. 'This is normal, this is natural. I have to learn to let go!' But the feeling was still there, niggling at her soul and warning her that some things were meant to be kept forever.
The humans had always been skittish around him and his kind, but something was off. Mortals that had lived in villages on the outskirts of his kingdom had vanished. Trading posts that did regular business with the races of man were suddenly reporting a complete lack of activity.
Something was terribly wrong, and he had a sinking feeling that it was only going to get worse.
'The park sure is empty for a Saturday,' Sarah thought while keeping an eye on Merlin, her great big Old English Sheepdog that was now pushing quite the advanced age; he trotted ahead of her at a much more sedate pace than he once had. "I suppose no one wants to be out in the cold, huh Merlin?" She asked the dog, while subconsciously pulling her long coat tighter against herself. He spared her a brief look, raising his doggy brows, before diving into the nearest snow bank and hopelessly matting his fur with little snowballs. "Some things never change, do they boy? Snow still makes you act like a little puppy!" Sarah laughed while he rolled on his back, paws waving merrily in the air.
"Your dog is weird." Sarah nearly shrieked, until she turned around to find Toby standing behind her, giving Merlin 'The Look'.
"I thought you were staying home," she commented once her heart had slowed down.
He shrugged as gracefully as any five year old in a giant winter coat and several layers of shirts could manage, "Changed my mind."
"He's your dog too, you know," she said, finally responding to his jibe.
"Nah, he's only mine when he does something cool. He's all yours when he's stupid." Sarah never would have used flippant when describing a kindergartener, but sometimes there was no better way to describe her half-brother. There was just something about the way he carried himself, the way he talked and acted, that made Toby different from every other child she had ever met. He was special, she just couldn't entirely figure out how or why.
Together they stared at the dog for a moment longer before silently agreeing to let him have his fun while they had their own.
"Snowman?" Toby suggested.
"Sounds like a plan," Sarah agreed.
It took them a while, since the snow wasn't exactly right for building, being a bit on the powdery side, and Toby seemed hell-bent on throwing snowballs whenever Sarah turned her back to him, but eventually they completed it.
"It doesn't look like a snowman," Toby said, blue eyes grinning while he brushed snow out of his dark blond hair.
"No, it doesn't," Sarah agreed. "I guess it's a snow… blob," she said laughing. Whatever it was that they had created was short and squat, bearing a mild resemblance to a smiling piece of lumpy clay.
"Like a gremlin or something," he suggested.
"Or a goblin," she giggled, easing in two sticks for arms while Toby tried to use some chalk to color in the grinning mouth.
"Yeah, a snow-goblin. I like that," he mumbled while finally managing to smear some color onto the white crystals.
They stepped back for a moment to view their lopsided masterpiece, and both burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it.
A child was missing, a human child, which explained the sudden absence of mortals near his region. His kind were suspected of committing the crime, and that angered him. He had never done anything to harm the humans, but they always seemed to forget that when they needed someone to blame. He had no idea where the child was, but he sincerely doubted it was in his land. Surely he would have noticed a mortal among them! But it wasn't going to be so easy to convince the humans of that. There was a battle in front of him and, even as confrontational as he was, he didn't relish the strain this was going to put on his people, not to mention the relationship between the magic and non-magic creatures.
This was not the change he had once envisioned nor, truth be told, the change be had hoped for.
The rest of the day came and went in a haze of snowball fights and hot chocolate. The night was fast in coming, and Sarah had felt sad to stop the fun she was having with her brother because of it.
But the night wasn't been all bad: just after dinner it began to snow, and so she sat in her darkened room to watch it. The snow-shower wasn't heavy, but it was no mere flurry either. The large flakes danced down from the sky like graceful confetti, glinting silver in the porch lights below her. Now and then, a gentle wind picked up and rolled the crystals in mid-air, bringing them to rest on the roof by her window.
Sarah loved snow, always entranced by the simple joy it brought. Some part of her longed to go outside and enjoy the simple beauty of winter. Karen was not as understanding of Sarah's compulsion, so the young girl had to make do with watching the world from her room. And she did, for long minutes that slipped into quiet hours, until it was time to go to sleep.
Sarah hesitated slightly before climbing into bed. She couldn't remember the dream that had bothered her that morning, but she had a feeling it hadn't been good. 'I'm being silly,' she thought with a smile. 'I think I had a nightmare, and so I'm afraid to go to sleep? I'm too old to be that insecure.' With that she settled down, burrowed under the covers, and slipped into Morpheus's arms, never noticing the snowy white owl perched outside her window.
Additional Notes: This first chapter was comprised of what had originally been the first two chapters. Most of the content changes here were just me rewording things for better flow.
Again, please review!