DISCLAIMER: If it's a scene, setting, character, or idea from Labyrinth, it's (c) Henson, Lucas, Froud, etc, and NOT MINE.
"Cruel to be Kind" - (c) Radar, Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm, and possibly Letters to Cleo
Stay tuned for an A/N at the end.
"I LOVE summer vacation!" Sarah's excitement nearly caused her to squeal, a trait unbecoming in a seventeen-year-old. Her friends didn't notice, as they, sadly, were also squealing.
The group of girls was all chattering, laughing, poking, whispering, giggling, yelling, and doing everything simultaneously. The end result was noise. Lots and lots of noise. Which meant that Karen would have been knocking on Sarah's door to not-quite-complain, except that the girls were already outside. Karen sighed a little, rolling her eyes even as she smiled.
Sarah's mob of friends had grown steadily over the past couple of years, a fact for which Karen was immensely grateful. The fact that her step-daughter's improved social interaction didn't translate into a more active dating life still troubled her, but she mostly refrained from mentioning that to Sarah.
Toby ran through the house, and burst out the patio doors. He ran right into the mass of teenage girls. At three years of age, the erstwhile toddler was still quite adorable, especially when he tried to carry on conversations. Wriggling away from the girls, they engaged in a group effort of "Catch Me!" until Toby let Sarah grab and tickle him.
Recovering his breath, Toby asked his sister, "Sawah, sing pease!"
Despite being used to Toby's incomplete words, the friends still cooed over the cuteness. Sarah rolled her eyes at the girls, but smiled at Toby. "Tobias," this use of his full name was part of this game, "what song?"
He merely continued to repeat his request, so one of the girls turned on the radio, randomly rolling through the stations until she hit music.
"Okay, here's something. And yeah, I'm ready to change it if it's not a song for your brother." Karen was known for being careful about what songs and shows were around Toby. Sarah allowed herself a moment to wonder how her stepmother would react to the events of two years ago.
"Okay, Tobes, here's the chorus," and Sarah sang along
You say you gotta be
Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it's a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind
Glad that she knew the song well, Sarah allowed her mind to drift while she watched Toby smile at her. "Something about this song… of course it's familiar, but there's just something that's a different kind of familiar about it." Sarah's musing as she sang to her brother while dancing with him didn't get a chance to distract her; her friends started passing Toby around to dance with him.
They all wound up dancing on their own, with Toby weaving around in and out.
Later that evening, after dinner, after Toby had been put to bed, Sarah sat on her bed to review the day. Seriously, she LOVED summer vacation… no school, natch, but also time to hang out with her friends, time to be silly with Toby WITHOUT having the responsibility of baby-sitting, time to baby-sit, time to go by herself to the park without Karen giving her any looks about the waste of time.
But something was different about this afternoon. "If I can only put my finger on it," she said to herself as she stared past the wall. Restless with the uncertainty, she got up to pace. Stopping at her vanity, she gave a double-take.
Exhaling in a huff that was nearly a snort, Sarah shook her head at herself, and at him. She opened that one drawer, where she kept things. Halting the movement, she peeked through the one-inch of space, startled to see the face of the figurine. "I would have sworn I put it in the other way. Whatever."
Sarah was uneasy enough about the memories that suddenly returned to clarity that she closed the drawer quickly, but gently. She knew why the chorus triggered that reaction, and she wasn't sure that she knew how to deal with it.
Wringing her hands, she paced about the room again, restraining her eyes from the direction of the vanity and that drawer. After nearly fifteen minutes of fruitless movement, she paused, once again in front of the same piece of furniture.
"I wonder…" She swallowed, and reopened the drawer. All the way.
Back in the Underground, the goblins paused. One of them said, "Did she say it?" "SHHHH!"
In the Throne Room, the Goblin King's posture stiffened the slightest bit.
Sarah sighed at her own foolishness, shaking her head over certain romantic flights of fancies that had started up over the preceding year and a half. She closed the drawer and then sat on the vanity bench.
"Hoggle, I need you!"
Underground, the goblins fell right back asleep, disgusted that they were woken up, and bored with the thought of eavesdropping on yet another chat between the grumpy dwarf and the human girl.
The Goblin King's posture returned to its present state, or even possibly became a bit more slouched.
"Hoggle, I need to know something."
"Sure, Sarah, but are you okay? You sounds fiercely urgent!"
"What? Oh, yeah, sorry about that, but I've had an idea and need to know right away if it's even possible, and I know that you'd know the answer."
The dwarf peered at the girl carefully, knowing that he wasn't going to get the full story, and wondering if this was going to get him into trouble. Again. "You knows that I'll helps you if I can, but – "
"Good. Does this calling on the mirror work for anybody else Underground? Or just you and Sir Didymus and Ludo and The Wise Man?"
"Well, it mights and it mights n – wait! You've been talking to that tired – "
"Yes I have Hoggle. And to his hat. It's fun and confusing. But who does it work for?" Sarah wasn't going to let Hoggle off the hook in answering her question.
"I don'ts know, not for sure." On seeing the look on Sarah's face, a combination of pleading and sternness, he continued, "but probably anybody you'd thinks about calling could talks to you. Specially if theys had some magic o' their own. And I'm not saying anythin' more about that!"
Hoggle's determination took the form of crossed arms and a glaring look on his face that did nothing to conceal his concern over who this best friend might plan to contact.
"Oh, Hoggle, what could go wrong with talking to someone this way? It's not like I'd be wishing myself to the Underground."
The goblins stirred a little in their sleep, slightly uneasy but still somnolent.
The Goblin King cocked his head ever so minutely, his smirk returned, and his posture showing him to be ready for quick movement.
"It's not like I hate him or anything, but he probably hates me, or thinks I'm scum, and I just want to talk him. Is that too much to ask?!"
"Hmph. I suppo-ose not, but be VERY CAREFUL."
"I will. I promise! Now I'd better do it now before I lose my nerve. I'll talk to you soon, okay?"
Still grumping about it, "Well okay, but don't say I didn't warn you. Good-bye."
Shaking off Hoggle's gruffness, Sarah took a deep breath.
As promised, here's an Author's Note. Yes, I'm Cruel to end the chapter here. But PLEASE don't worry: there's more to come. But in the spirit of post-Halloween moderation, I'm going to spread it out over a couple of days. Lots of LOVELY reviews will help me to post the rest sooner. There isn't much more.
Oh, and this isn't related to any of my other stories.
So... who is she trying to call and what will happen?