The fic I wrote for the recently concluded Labyfic exchange on Livejournal.

Title: Let's Dance
Recipient: surelady
Prompt: Jareth has a special birthday surprise in store for his favourite nemesis. One that he's positive she won't enjoy a single bit. This is a revenge prompt, which can be either humourous or serious as the author chooses.
Rating: PG-13 / T (for implied situation)
Plot Summary/Author's Notes: The Goblin King marks time until he can even the score. J/S, not fluffy. Time indications are in relation to the conclusion of Sarah's interaction with Jareth in the Underground. POV – Third person. And HUGE thanks to sisterthemoon for beta, advice, and comma patrol.

Disclaimer: Labyrinth, its related characters, and dialogue are (c) Henson, Froud, Lucas, Bowie, Connelly, etc. Song title belongs to David Bowie and Nile Rodgers (producer). The author gratefully acknowledges a debt of inspiration to Hans Christian Andersen.

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. One thousand days gone, and ninety-six to go, since he must allow for that quaint custom of Leap Year. He finds himself hoping that she isn't too attached to that quirk of time allotment, as the Underground offers nothing comparable.

Only thirteen-hour clocks and twenty-six hour days in the Castle Beyond the Goblin City.

And a monarchy that requires equity and balance.

The Goblin Lexicon explains balance in a series of words currently untranslatable; the commonly accepted equivalent implies that balance allows for some uncalculated margin of difference. The difference tolerated varies with the situation and the individual.

For the Goblin King, balance is more closely related to retribution and restitution, and a lack of indebtedness, owing no favours. Where a wrong has occurred, His Majesty has the obligation to adjust the scales to regain the prior state; his opponents, his enemies, describe this in terms of vengeance, vigilante justice, revenge. Rather, they would, were they left in a state in which they could use higher brain functions.

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. Now only eighty days remain, and she continues her days along ordinary, mortal lines. She considers her life "normal" now, having swerved in course since that day.

For her, an important day approaches: her birthday. Her eighteenth birthday. From that day, her world regards her as an adult, and she anticipates that altering of other peoples' perception.

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. Forty-nine days left standing before his envisioned disposition.

She has been toying with some of those mortals, but he watches her hold herself back from them. Different young males attempt to draw near to her, but she allows none of them liberties. She tries to be kind as she maintains a degree of distance.

He knows the requisite for kindness, and oh, such kindness will he shower upon her!

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. Seventeen days linger.

In three more days, she will celebrate the anniversary of her birth. Presents have already started to arrive at the Victorian-style house. Her brother seems more excited over the boxes and bags, the variety of coloured wrapping paper and bows, the different sizes, shapes, and weight of the gifts. He teases her that she doesn't even notice them arrive, or that maybe she doesn't need one from him.

With such a quantity of naissance tributes, the addition of one more goes unremarked. It even has the requisite card, the direction written in an arrogant script, using a sumptuous red-gold ink.

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. A fortnight sees the fulfillment.

Today is her birthday, and she gathers with relations close and distant, friends both dear and formal. Her stepmother has outdone herself in creating a wonderful setting; the atmosphere relaxed but focused, the food plentiful but not prone to causing a mess, the house in an unaccustomed state of welcoming to complement its usual pristine condition.

Her brother helps her navigate through the mound of presents, handing her one at a time and choosing the next. As she unwraps, he "assists" with the paper, often tearing it further when he thinks that she was too careful. The attendees enjoy the sibling by-play, thankful that the unhappy days when the two first became siblings are thoroughly behind them.

At length, two gifts remain: the one from her brother, and the unknown one. Torn, the brother hesitates; as a four-year-old, he noticed peoples' reactions to the earlier gifts, but doesn't really remember whose has already been opened. He chooses, and delivers his own tribute to his sister, leaving the mystery package to finalize the evening. This decision will save his sister a small portion of her bitterness, although she may never realize it.

She exclaims over the perfectly suited charm bracelet, making her brother blush in front of their company, although he relishes the attention. To please him and their parents, she fastens the clasp about her left wrist and displays the jewelry, certain that her brother had some guidance in its selection. The varied charms have hints of colour, in harmony with the white-gold chain. It truly would not shame a queen's arm.

Becoming bored, her brother brings the final gift. The assembled company glances around, confused as to the identity of the giver, as all in the room have seen their present opened and welcomed.

The Goblin King watches from his throne room; this final gift will be the last gift that this girl receives in company of her Aboveground compatriots.

Surprised and pleased with the expensive shoes, she glances again at the accompanying card: "May your heart always soar." Thanking the "mystery giver," but not detecting any indications of his or her identity, she passes off her uncertainty with graciousness.

Setting everything aside, she mingles further with her guests before seeing them all out the door. She begins moving the accumulated gifts to her bedroom, her stepmother assisting after tucking the younger child into bed.

Three years have nearly passed, going by her calendar. Thirteen days remain for his stratagem.

She stretches, opening her eyes, and smiles as she rises. She looks over at the various and sundry presents from the evening before and gives a small sigh as she thinks of the acknowledgements to send out. She is grateful for her stepmother's careful documentation of each. Except, of course, for that last one, unclaimed by any giver, unidentified by any signature.

Her brow wrinkles as she resolves to puzzle it out while she prepares for the day. Going downstairs to breakfast after showering and dressing, she is no nearer to the solution.

Writing out "thank you" notes only serves to eliminate probable givers. An afternoon's work brings her closer in that she knows who didn't send it. Resigning herself to a small mystery, she places the notes with the outgoing post and returns to her room.

She repairs her hair, tendrils having loosened while she wrote, and fastens the bracelet from her brother around her right wrist. Looking at the shoes, of a hue to match the ink on the card, she contemplates her wardrobe and accessories. Considering the cliché about gift horses, she decides to assemble an outfit worthy of these shoes.

Skimming her wardrobe, rejecting the "little black dress" out of hand, she selects a dress made for movement. The skirt flares when she turns, the nearly-sleeveless cut allows her arms range in case her prospective partner is tall, the neckline hints at secrets without providing revelation. And the colour… she didn't remember why she bought such a dress without finding shoes at the same time, as the shoes would need to match exactly… and they do.

Small ebony-toned clips allow wisps of hair to tease and frame her face while allowing her to see; the impression is that her hair remains wild and free. Her earrings are exquisite thin tangles of gold, flexible and long, that nearly brush her shoulders. A necklace and bracelet of complementary style added, she declines any rings for her fingers. She smiles, when she sees how well her bracelets play off each other, sharing the same wrist.

Having changed and touched up her face, she finally slips her feet into the shoes. She takes one step, then two, and then cannot stop.

She's mildly concerned at first, thinking that perhaps it is merely muscle memory gone awry. Hearing the start of music, she becomes worried as her steps transition into a dance.

Her gasp and panic-stricken expression upon realizing that she's dancing with the Goblin King provide a measure of gratification to him.

Everything's dancing… but she can't stop. Nor can she escape, as she's in the arms of her nemesis.

His Nemesis is his arms, there to remain until the debt is paid.

But a balance has not yet been struck.

See... I warned you that it wasn't fluffy! You know the drill. Please provide comments, questions, reviews, spot typos... etc.

This isn't related to ANY of my other fics, except that it's a Labyfic.