Sarah stood outside the entrance. Fine violet silk curtains still yet untouched by the dirt and dust of faire hung below a large sign and connected to a winding arch. The sign was painted with lovely hues of green and brown, and had silver lettering written in calligraphic scrawl that read "Faeiry Realm." Under it, in smaller print was the warning "Season Pass Holders Only." Hedges that looked as if they had sprung up overnight blocked off any view of what lay beyond the opening, leaving everything to mystery.
A large, burly man that closely resembled a mountain troll stood guard to the gate. He was wearing a simple, but dirty brown jerkin and accommodating knee-breaches. His bulk contrasted greatly with the meticulously weaved arch, which was made of delicate wood and decorated with tiny, colorful buds.
"'Ave you gots a pass?" the guard grunted, holding out a hand that could only belong to an ogre. It looked as if it could easily crush a man's skull.
"Yes," Sarah dug through her pouch and produced a shiny brass plate, a hand-painted image of a lovely woman in a simple white gown with cascading ginger locks smiled up at them. The words "Midsummer Knight Renaissance Festival" were scrawled in long, swirling gold strokes.
He glanced at it, looked to her face, and then gestured for her to enter without as much as a second word.
Her heart racing, she pushed back the silk curtains. She was enveloped in darkness as the curtain fell behind her, blocking out the light of the day. She took a few tentative steps forward. Sarah couldn't help but feel as if she was back in the labyrinth, which was absurd. She had long-since dismissed that adventure to be one of her more fanciful dreams; simply her conscience urging her to grow. She knew now that there could be no such thing as the Underground, and that the friends she had made along the way were simply the embodiments of some of her beloved treasures she had collected as a child. Even her precious Fae figurine, which had resembled him so closely.
"Turn back, Sarah, turn back before it's too late." The velvety words of a king rang in her mind despite herself. A thrill ran through her and a door previously invisible to her opened, sending light flooding into the dark room in a wave.
Whatever she had been expecting before, it was nothing compared to what now lay before her eyes as she stepped past the doorway and into the world beyond the hedge.
It was if she had walked straight into one of the fantasy novels she still enjoyed reading. Even though she had grown and stopped wholeheartedly believing in the fantastic, she still enjoyed it very much. The faire had outdone itself, and it was far more fantastic than could be perfectly described.
In a wide clearing that branched off into many different wood chip pathways, trees crossed over her head, tangling together in a loving embrace. Sparkling lace was strewn with careless precision through their branches, making it seem as though fairies themselves had been put to the task of spinning spider silk to make them gleam. There was just the slightest wind, and light streamed through the fluttering leaves, constantly shifting to create a surreal flow. In each golden ray there were tiny specks of glitter, shimmering beautifully as they floated on the gentle current.
Sarah walked forward in a daze. Incense washed through the scene before her, making her feel as if her mind was floating in a dream-like state. A glimmering fairy scurried by her, and out of the corner of her eye she saw the creature's wings flutter.
How lovely, she thought, smiling lazily. Her whole body felt light, and she felt as if any second she could take wing or slip into a dance. Yet she pressed on, her hungry eyes roving over each tent, startled by the wonders inside.
A large pillar was suddenly before her, with the most peculiar rock resting upon it. It was the shape of an oval, propped up on a small wooden stand. It looked like something that had come from the sea; it had flaky, iridescent skin that shone the colors of the spectrum as she surveyed it. She reached out to it, and startled when her hand came back covered in slime.
"It's a Kelpie's egg, my dear. Very costly." A woman had emerged from the depths of the tent that the egg was displayed in front of. She was old and shriveled, and couldn't have reached Sarah's lowest rib in height. Her appearance was startling; her head was much larger than the rest of her tiny body, and covered in more wrinkles than a raisin. Her eyes were beady and black, and minuscule under the bags surrounding them. Her nose was large and beaklike, and her mouth reached from one corner of her farthest eye to the other. There was no other word to describe her: a hag.
"Kelpie," Sarah repeated, still somewhat in a daze. She stared at the greenish-blue gunk on her hand, uncomprehending. Kelpies… Where had she heard of them before?
The hag came closer, and laughed. It was a harsh, wheezy sound that made Sarah cringe. She produced a rag from her pocket, and Sarah couldn't help but notice something squirm in the nook of the woman's arm. She hadn't noticed before, but she was cradling something the way one would a baby.
"Would you hold him for me, lovely?" the woman asked in a voice that sounded like the crackling of paper, thrusting the creature into Sarah's chest before she had time to respond. She looked down at the scaly mound she now held as the woman grabbed her soiled hand and began to rigorously scrub it with the scrap of fabric.
The tiny creature looked up at her with piercing violet eyes, the pupils were but tiny slits. It was completely black, and the length of her forearm down to the tips of its tail. Its head was curved, almost heart-shaped, and it had small little flaps at the end of its tail. It flicked out its long pink tongue at her questioningly. Without warning, it dug its claws into her arm painfully and unfurled wings that had been hidden before, tucked so close she hadn't noticed them. Gasping, she staggered back, but the woman clung to her hand and laughed cruelly.
"What is it, my dear? Never seen a baby dragon before?" she cackled again. "Be happy he hasn't started breathing fire!"
Sarah ripped her hand from the hag's grasp, staring at her incredulously. Nonsense. What nonsense. There were no such things as dragons. This was just one of those really weird lizards; probably from the rain forest or something. The creature sneezed, and a puff of smoke rose in curling tendrils from its nostrils. The woman took it quickly, soothing the creature as it continued to sneeze.
"Does this mortal smell funny, my darling?" she cooed, "Mummy knows, mummy knows… All humans have an odd smell to them… Not at all appetizing is it, my sweetie?"
Sarah almost tripped over herself, and her eyes had widened almost comically. Her mind refused to accept it. How ludicrous. There was no way. She turned on her heel, quickly striding away from the booth as the hag continued to talk and coo to the creature as if it were her own child.
No matter how much her mind tried to reject it, the images were slowly coming to focus. It was as if someone had removed a cloudy layer from her eyes. She could see sprites singing and dancing in a circle of mushrooms, their forms not two feet high. An old oak was making conversation with a gorgeous woman whose skin was the color of olives, and whose hair was as black as midnight. She turned to watch Sarah as she raced by in a billow of skirts, shining crimson eyes curious.
A mermaid swam lazily in a lake of diamond, her scaled tail making soft ripples in the calm water as she sung a haunting melody, her voice lingering in the leaves of the trees who swayed in time to the music.
She gazed upon the vast lake, seeing now a group of mermaids that sat perched on a rock in the center. They were breathtaking creatures. Sensual yet sweet, sexy but demure, dangerous and innocent. Some laughed and talked, while others combed out their hair and weaved precious gems and shells into their flowing locks. They were all so beautiful, but not without a wild touch. Sarah knew these were creatures you could not approach, and one would be a fool to try and tame them.
Upon the shore, weeping willows mourned over couples who held each other in their arms. Some had glowing, strangely-colored skin. Others looked almost normal, if not for their piercing eyes and pointed ears. Some were so tiny it took Sarah a moment to spot them, and others blended into the scenery so well she had no idea they were there.
Even though she had all but stumbled into their presence, none of the creatures spared her so much as a moments' glance. Either they were too absorbed in their own tasks and conversations, or they found nothing strange about a human in their midst. Some might even say they hadn't realized she was a human. She was dressed in a synched deep green corset that blended into her skirts. Gold weavings embellished the gown she wore and her flowing sleeves were held up by a band on her upper arms, leaving her tan shoulders bare and her chocolate hair flowing freely. She looked as if she could have been a child of the trees or even the Fairfolk.
She saw something then, but it was no more than a glimpse as the figure darted into the trees. But it had been enough to send her mind racing. She had caught that image, if only for a brief moment. A wicked smirk that displayed sharpened teeth, mismatched eyes that held the hint of hidden promise, and a sweep of golden hair that so resembled the mane of a ferocious lion. She had seen her Goblin King, if only for a second.
Her body reacted before her mind did, and she found herself racing to the spot where she had seen him. Heads turned her way as she ran. They observed the form of the racing human casually, curiously, knowing exactly who she was the moment they saw her in the light. Few scowled, others looked away, and some continued to watch in awe, amazed that the rumors had been true.
She reached the edge, her head whipping this way and that, yet no trace of him was left behind. She had half a mind that she was going mad. Yet it was the feeling of it all: the beating of her heart, the panting of her breath, and the eyes of the many creatures that littered the area upon her that forced her to believe this was not a dream. Nor was it an illusion.
"Nothing is as it seems…" A memory surfaced.
Her mind was slowly coming to realize that what was before her was no faire. The ladies who walked past her with curled ears, horns like a ram and their legs like a goats were not humans dressed for the fantastic, but the fantastic themselves. She could hear the faint buzzing of foreign conversation around her. Hissing, murmuring, and other strange noises of what must have been speech assaulting her ears, along with the sounds of rich nature around her. Everything was speaking and alive. The trees, the sun, the water, the wind, they were all speaking to her.
It was driving her insane.
The sounds had reached an incredible volume in her ears. Now she was aware of all; the earth itself had a heartbeat, and it was flooding her senses. She covered her ears with her hands, crying out for it to end. She couldn't think like this. She couldn't get the sounds out of her mind. She felt as if she were being split in two. Everything was screaming, screeching, howling, and scratching against her mind.
Then came the music.
It was the sweetest relief she could have imagined; a melody, a lullaby, soothing her pained mind. Yet she had heard the tune before. Long, long ago. She could recall it now: her body swaying to the tune as she waltzed through a dance floor in a white, sugarplum dress.
She knew where to go. She rose from her position on the ground, where she had been forced to kneel when the noise had become too much for her to bare. She walked slowly now, leisurely, her pace in time with the hum of the music.
The unspoken words were carried on a soft breeze, stiffening Jareth's spine. He had checked everything again and again; he had made sure nothing was less than perfect in his eyes. He hoped Sarah would appreciate his hard work, even if she didn't know it was he who had painstakingly organized it.
Everyone was in their places. Their boredom had been replaced with the utmost attentiveness, for now they felt it as well. Excitement coursed through them like a wave hitting the shore, causing a palpable ripple in the springtime air. She was here, in their world once more.
The creatures that resided in this country were not the most talkative. They preferred to convey their feelings and thoughts through expressions, body language, or telepathy. However, as the breeze whispered the words they had been waiting on bated breath to hear, the land itself came to life.
Everyone was talking, talking of her return. Rumors that had come to life the first day she had arrived in his kingdom surfaced once more. Jareth couldn't help but cringe as a select few conversations reached his ears.
"Fell in love with her at first sight…"
"No, no, he knew her as a babe. Didn't her mother…"
"You're getting it confused…"
"No I'm not! Don't tell me you can't recall the time after…"
"Of course I recall that time. The Darkness…"
"We won't speak of that now… Hush."
Painful memories he had been trying to suppress for years now surfaced to his mind, along with the guilt. He would never be able to forgive himself for what he had done to his people in the time that followed her departure from his world. He would pay penance for it, he knew. In one way or another.
This was simply a more pleasant way.
He could feel their restlessness beginning to rise. Eyes were dilating with promise, fairy wings were fluttering excitedly, the pond was rippling as the mermaids swam about, unable to keep still in their eagerness for her to come to them.
Now this won't do, Jareth mused.
He raised his arm, forming a crystal between pinched fingers. He studied it for a moment, watching as a liquid-like substance floated in the depths of the orb, shifting from a caramel color to opal, swirling, giving the beholder the same feeling as a babe being rocked in his mother's embrace.
He turned to crystal over and released it. Yet instead of it crashing to the ground, it floated through the air like the seeds of a dandelion that had just been blown from a child's lips. The orb gracefully floated through the air until it hovered just over the middle of the lake. More than a few noticed it, and everyone who saw it recognized it at once. Only their king formed his power through crystals. They watched in fascination as it seemed to grow twice its size, like a balloon being filled past its capacity. There was a gasp when it burst with a soft pop, and the swirling amber liquid-like gas began to flow through the air like a paintbrush adding strokes to the sky itself.
Along with the fine mist came a sweet scent; a scent that carried the cold of fall but battled against the memory of summer. It spoke of warm, sunshine-filled days, and caused a sense of serenity and otherworldliness to envelop all that filled their lungs with it.
'That should do for now," he decided. The Goblin King leaned against an old oak tree, crossing his arms as his avis-like eyes scanned his handiwork. His spell took no time at all to come into effect; already the creatures had calmed. The mermaids had retreated to resting against a large bed of rocks, their glittering tails grazing the water with a lazy flow. Even the Lady of the Lake had decided to rest against the shore, her near-white hair swaying in the current.
She's coming closer.
Jareth expelled a breath, his eyelids slipped closed for just a moment longer than need be and his meticulously marked features became pained. The expression was brief, and he just as quickly schooled his features into a Venetian mask. Yet he could still feel a constriction in his chest, and a light fluttering in his stomach. He was going to see her again. Suddenly, the years that had passed with him trying desperately to forget her seemed to have passed in a simple bat of an eye; all except for those first few.
Following the first time he had truly seen her again, in that moment at the faire when his plan had first been hatched, he had found himself willingly and consciously summoning a crystal so he could observe her. Though she had grown into an astonishingly beautiful mortal, even by Fae standards, he had become interested in her personality now that she had grown into a woman.
Of course, the crystals could not tell him too much; he knew that she had a male friend who was constantly by her side. The way he looked at Sarah set Jareth's teeth on edge, but after seeing no more than a friendly hug shared between the two he had decided to cast him off as unimportant.
He hadn't been able to help the triumphant smile that came to his lips as he watched Sarah interact with Toby—my, how the child had grown. He had barely recognized the boy. When Fae were gifted the blessing of having a child, it could take two decades for said child to reach even the cusp of late childhood. Fae, especially those belonging to the same denizens as Jareth, were near-immortal. Therefore they could take their time developing, unlike humans who usually had less than a century to live and whose lives could be snuffed out as easily as covering a flame.
Nevertheless he had been quite pleased to see how Sarah behaved with her baby brother now. No longer did she whine and stomp and slam her door. Now she had taken her responsibility as an older sister. It was nice to know his lessons hadn't fallen on deaf ears, like they would have on so many other children. Then again, Sarah hadn't been very ordinary, had she?
Oh, but how she tried to be. It was funny—no, hilarious—to observe how determined she was to continue life as if she were the same as all those other mortals. She was gifted, not only with his magic but with a cunning wit, a tender heart, and a soul as old as time. She was as far away from human as she could get while still retaining her mortality, but she still tried.
She truly was the most fascinating being he could have ever hoped to meet, and after countless millennia, he had thought he had seen it all.
But this human child had still managed to surprise him.
And now, most glorious of all, she was back in his realm.
"I will make you mine, my precious. I swear on my crown."
A quick, teasing glimpse was all he would allow her once she entered the clearing. Once she saw him, truly saw him, the game would finally begin.
(A.N.- *Ignore if you want, this note has nothing to do with the story!
Jareth: As happy as I am that you have finally uploaded a long chapter… You have got to be kidding me! Three bloody chapters in and still I am yet to even talk to Sarah?!
Jess: Watch it, buster. Get off your italicized and emboldened high horse and give me some space. I'm getting there… Just taking my time…
Jareth: *scoffs* I think we are all wondering exactly when that will be. Remember, pet, I can quite easily reorder time to my benefit. *He narrows his eyes and wiggles his fingers*
Sarah: *Interjecting* Seriously, Jareth. I told you this in the last chapter; Jess doesn't own us, or Labyrinth, and we belong to Jim Henson. However, this is her story and she can do as she sees fit!
Jareth: That little speech of yours is getting just as repetitive as your constant whining of 'It's not fair'.
Jess: Anyhow… Thank you to everyone who reviewed so quickly after I posted the second chapter! You are the best! I'm so glad that no one seems to have encountered this same kind of setting before in a Laby fanfic, and since there are MANY fanfics that makes me feel super warm and tingly inside. After a lot of thinking in the shower and re-reading some of my old fairy books I've had since I was a kid, I have a better idea of how this story may go… Or at least I have a little more detail I want to incorporate… So thank you for encouraging me and I hope you continue to like and review this story!
Please note: I do intend for this fiction to have a sexy scene in it between our two favorite characters, but I haven't an idea exactly when that is going to happen! So if you are just looking for a good quick smut (no harm in that, I've wanted the same!) then please either be patient or move along to a completed story that will have that lemony goodness already in there! Ta!