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Disclaimer: See first chapter
Notes: Monoceros is a constellation in the shape of a Unicorn. It is located in the spring sky south of Gemini and east of Orion. I’ve used it as the name for the animals that are produced when unicorns are bred with horses.
Beta reader: As always, Devil Girl. She keeps me afloat and has my deepest thanks.
Previous chapter: Chapter 1

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Sarah's sketch from inside her Labyrinth book

For Love Of Sarah

By

Phyllis Christie lattelady6

Ch 2 - Nothing Is What It Seems


Ellamora had shown Sarah and Toby to the bathing area at the back of the cottage. “Don’t want you tracking dirt through my nice clean house,” was all the explanation she’d given as she handed the boy a small shirt and a pair of trousers that were cut in much the same style as Sarah remembered Hoggle wearing. “The bath is that way, young man.” She pointed behind a screen. “Just tell the tub to fill and you’ll get all the water you need. Let it know if the temperature isn’t to your liking and it’ll warm up or cool down. When you get out, it’ll empty itself.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he practically skipped around the screen in his excitement at the idea of a magic bathtub.

“Hump,” the Elf looked Sarah over from head to foot. “You can’t go around dressed like that, it isn’t proper. My daughter left some things behind when she married. They should be a close enough fit.”

“I’ve got a change of clothes right here.” Sarah hugged her backpack for dear life. It was all she had from the Aboveground and letting go of it didn’t feel right. She had planned on staying with her parents for the weekend and had packed accordingly so she didn’t feel the need to impose by borrowing anything to wear.

“Girl, you’re in no position to be arguing with me.” The older woman put her hands on her hips and shook her head. Young people were the same no matter what world they came from, always wanting everything their own way. “You’re hurt and exhausted and need a place to heal. I’m offering it to you, as long as you’re telling me the truth. I don’t protect those who wish-away - never have and don’t plan on doing so now.”

“I didn’t…I mean, I’m not…” Sarah stammered and gripped the blue blanket that was strapped to her pack, seeking reassurance. “Our house in the Aboveground burst into flames. We were trying to get to a window to escape, when I slipped backwards and just kept on falling. Somehow we ended up here.” She had been thinking about it all day as she and Toby walked. When she was younger, Hoggle, Sir Didymus, and Ludo used to visit her through that mirror. Her last vague memory in the fire had been of her hips hitting her dressing table and her shoulders the looking-glass above it. Had a passageway to the Labyrinth been open in her room all that time? It was a question she didn’t dare ask, because then she’d have to explain how she knew about the Underground in the first place. She and Toby needed somewhere to stay to get themselves straightened up, and questions like that would only get her into trouble.

Ellamora nodded as she watched doubt and worry fill the girl’s eyes. “You must have found one of the lost portals. It happens from time to time.” She shrugged. “Someone leaves a door open to one of the other worlds, and then forgets to go back and close it.” That explanation made more sense than the two human children running from Jareth, but since he was the only one strong enough to keep a portal open for long, he had to be behind it somehow. The Elf knew the Goblin King could be harsh when dealing with humans who were negligent with their children, but he wasn’t the type to use fire to terrorize them. He preferred much more subtle techniques. The girl was hiding something and becoming more of a puzzle all the time. If she had some mischief in mind, best to keep her close by.

“Be that as it may,” she added and got back to the subject of the girl’s clothes. “While you are under my roof, you have to live by my rules, just as my own daughter did.”

“All right,” Sarah could feel tears welling up in her eyes at the unexpected help she was getting. “I’ll gladly accept the clothes. Toby and I do need some place where we can figure out what to do, thank you, ma’am.” Her experience in the Underground, six years earlier, made her wary of its inhabitants. She hoped she could trust that Ellamora’s kindness was just that. “Why are you willing to help us?”

“I have a daughter of my own.” The Elf smiled as she though of her beautiful child. “Back when I was young, I fell in love and married a handsome Fae man. Our Marilee was smart enough to do the same. Those two young people have got a child and are as happy as can be. But if things were different and she found herself alone, stuck in one of the other worlds without her magic or her man, Galen, to protect her, I like to think that there is someone out there who would do for her what I’m doing for you.” It was mostly the truth. Ellamora wasn’t going to mention the close ties she had to the Royal Family, or the fact that the bright blue blanket, which was strapped to Sarah’s backpack, was giving off magic like a beacon in the night. The Elf knew exactly to whom it had belonged, though she hadn’t seen it in over six years. “You go help your brother while I get some clothes so you’re decently covered and some herbs to take the sting out of your bath water. Once you’re cleaned up, we’ll see about getting your burns tended to properly.”

While Sarah was kept busy helping the boy, Ellamora sent a brief message to the manor house over the hill, letting Her Majesty know of the two newest beings on Corramar Estate. There was something unusual about the girl, almost as if she had a familiarity with the Underground. The Elf was reminded of all the rumors from six years ago about a raven-haired human girl who had bested Jareth in the Labyrinth. It was said that the girl had also captured the Goblin King’s heart. Ellamora stood shaking her head and tried to convince herself that it was just a coincidence that two humans would show up on her doorstep, one a nice young boy and the other a lovely young woman, who in moments of stress clutched the corner of Jareth’s misplaced blanket as if it were the only secure thing in an insecure world.
………………………….
Sarah could hear Toby chattering away to Ellamora while she bathed and she was almost too tired to care. It had been a painful process washing all the dirt and soot from her injured skin. The Elf was right; she did need a place to heal, though Sarah wasn’t sure that anywhere in the Underground would give her enough peace of mind to be able to do that.

She slowly and painfully climbed out of the bath. Much to her amazement, the water began to empty as she walked over to the chair where a loose-fitting light blue dress was waiting for her. She slipped the dress over her head and sighed with relief when the material settled comfortably against her skin. The garment was a simple A-line design. Its scooped neck just missed the bottom of the burn that reached to her collarbone and the sleeves were long enough to cover all the marks on her left arm where she and Toby had dug splinters of wood out of blisters that morning, but were full enough to not brush against them. The hem reached the floor and was just the right length for walking once Sarah pulled on her thick-soled Uggs, which gave her an extra inch of height.

After running a comb through her still damp hair, she quickly put it into a French braid. Years of wearing it that way made it easy to do without a mirror. She would face her reflection tomorrow when she had had some food and sleep. Tonight she wasn’t up to it. It had been bad enough cleaning her burns and then discovering the damage to her hair as her fingers twisted it into the simple pattern that hung down her back.
………………………..
Rain pounded on the thatched roof of Ellamora’s little cottage. The storm had come up out of nowhere and struck with a fury that was hard for the humans to understand.

“It’ll pass,” the Elf assured them. “Be glad you’re not out in it. When magic is thrown around like that, nothing is safe.”

“Magic, that storm is caused by magic?” Toby took another spoonful of the delicious stew they’d been served. “Wow,” he hoped Sarah would let them stay in the Underground for a while. The experiences of an enchanted bath, and magical storms, made him want to see what else this land had to offer.

“’Course, you don’t think weather like that’s natural in these parts?” The Elf nodded towards the window. “Haven’t seen the likes of it for going on six years. His Highness usually keeps a tight reign on his feelings. It is most unlike him to show his emotions so openly. He’s worked himself up into a real snit tonight!” She shook her head in worry. Too many things were happening that hadn’t happened in six years.

“His Highness?” Sarah whispered. “Something like this happened before?” Suddenly she lost her appetite and carefully laid her spoon down beside her bowl. She had no desire to hear more about the Ruling Family or who had mourned Jareth so publicly all those years ago.

“Yes, the Royals of the Goblin Kingdom have always had a passionate nature, though it usually stays within the walls of one castle or another.” Ellamora leaned back in her chair and watched both humans speculatively. If the rumors from six years ago were true and there had been a human girl who had got away, Sarah was the right age, and she was certainly a beauty, despite her burns. The Elf could understand how she might have caught the King’s eye, even as a fifteen-year-old. But it made no sense. She wasn’t mean or cruel, not the type to wish away her brother and the children obviously loved each other. But that still didn’t answer how the humans had got into the Underground. Only a being with the power of a Goblin King could leave a portal open for any length of time, despite what she’d told Sarah earlier. If Jareth had cared enough about the humans to do that, why hadn’t he seen to it that they were brought safely out of the fire? Any fool could see that Sarah was suffering not only physically from whatever had happened in the last days, but emotionally as well.

Guilt washed over Sarah. The look in Ellamora’s eyes haunted her. In a rush the human pushed back her chair and walked to the window to gaze out at the storm. What she saw was strangely compelling. Part of her wanted to step out into it and let herself be wrapped up in the furious night. She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the windowpane. Suddenly she was held captive by emotions that sliced straight to her heart and carried her far away. She’d drifted like this before, six years ago, but then she had ended up in an enchanted ballroom; this time she was being carried to a place that only existed in her dreams, because Jareth was there.
……………………..

Standing with weather raging all around him, Jareth shook as the presence of Sarah brushed past him. It was so strong it touched all his senses. But it wasn’t the Sarah he’d known six years ago, this time it was the woman of today who tantalized his emotions and grabbed his heart. For one moment it was as if she were alive, and very close.

As quickly as his hurt and rage had started, it ceased and he was filled with a great emptiness. The remaining wind buffeted his body but he didn’t care. The elements were nothing compared to what he’d lost. All that was left of the human girl he’d loved for so long was a small brown teddy bear and a battered red book. He leaned to pick them up before he pulled a crystal from the air and let it transport him back to his castle.

Moments later he appeared in his office, behind the Throne Room, and for the first time in his long life wasn’t sure what to do next. As a King, uncertainty could mean the loss of a Kingdom, but as a man it was a cause for despair.

With a wave of his hand the fire in his fireplace sprang to life, but he didn’t feel its warmth. He sat in the winged-back chair beside the hearth, but he didn’t feel the plush material that surrounded him. At a loss for something better to do, he opened Sarah’s Labyrinth book. In owl form he’d sat in the tree outside her window on countless nights and watched her read from it. The well-loved old text had always appeared to give her comfort; maybe it would do the same for him.

When he opened the book he gasped at what he saw. On the inner cover and a number of the pages Sarah had drawn pictures. The first was of him as he’d appeared in her parents’ room the night she wished Toby away. He went through the book page by page and as the story progressed, he found careful illustrations of Sarah’s adventure through his Labyrinth.

It was what he found between the last page of the book and the back cover that rocked his emotions and lit his temper. There was a piece of paper that had been creased and folded years ago. With careful hands he opened it and spread it on his lap. There before him were more pictures. The largest and the one that held his attention first was of him offering a fifteen-year old Sarah the crystal that held her dreams.

The artist in the girl had drawn the jagged rock background with exquisite detail. There was no doubt in Jareth’s mind of when and where it had taken place. She had drawn him exhausted and almost beaten in the broken Escher Room. This had been his last stand. What made it hard for him to breathe was what Sarah had placed in the crystal. There as he’d seen it any number of times was her dark head resting gently on his shoulder. Both beings were smiling, happy and together. Above the picture she had written Sarah’s Dreams and in the corner was the date. She had drawn that picture the night she’d returned from the Underground.

She’d known! The implications sent him reeling. She’d known and she’d lied to him that night. All he could do was focus on the one picture. He failed to see the others on the page. The one Sarah had drawn of herself, leaning over Toby’s empty bed, worried and afraid, with sorrow etched on her face. He never even glanced at the one of her dancing in his arms in an enchanted ballroom, with joy filling her eyes. Joy that she’d felt but had been too frightened to admit existed, there at the end when she’d had to make a choice. But most importantly, all he saw was her betrayal, not the pain it had cost her to say the words that had taken her away from him.
……………………

“Sarah…” Ellamora’s hand was on her shoulder, pulling her back to the present, the cottage and reality. “Where did your mind go to, child?” The worried look on the Elf’s face told the human that it wasn’t the first time her name had been called.

“I’m sorry. I’m tired. I didn’t mean to ignore you.” She shook her head and forced a smile. She glanced back over her shoulder at the unexpectedly quiet room. Toby had his head on the table and was almost asleep in his chair. “I’ll put my brother to bed, and then be back to clean up. The meal was wonderful, thank you.” She knew she was rattling on but she couldn’t help it. For one moment the Underground had worked its strange magic on her. She couldn’t let it happen again.

“Don’t you worry about the dishes; they’ll take care of themselves.” The Elf nodded at the table and a moment later all the plates, bowls and cookware were neatly stacked in the cupboard in the kitchen. “When I retired, Her Majesty made sure I had every convenience that magic would allow. Now you run along and see to your brother, but be sure to come back. Those burns of yours need to be properly wrapped for the night.

Sarah guided a sleepy Toby up the stairs to the loft room that they had been given. There was a large old bed tucked under one side of the dormered ceiling, and an empty basin stood in front of a window which looked back towards the Labyrinth, with the castle in the distance. The rug on the rough wooden floor was braided from scraps of colorful material that gave the room an inviting feel. Though there was a small fireplace on the far side of the room, tucked under the other slanted eave, Sarah didn’t think she’d ever be able to light a fire in it. The crackle of burning wood and smell of smoke were no longer safe, homey things associated with cold Sunday afternoons and winter holidays spent with her family: instead they evoked memories of pure terror.

“Sarah,” Toby sighed as he let his sister help him into bed. “I miss Lancelot.” He’d slept with the bear for so long that his arms felt empty as he curled under the covers.

“I know, Big Guy,” a lump formed in Sarah’s throat as she gently ran her fingers through fine blonde hair that had fallen over her brother’s forehead. “I’ll stay with you until you fall sleep and once my arm gets bandaged, I’ll be sleeping right here beside you.”

“Thanks, Ellamora’s nice, but it’s not the same.” Toby didn’t want to think about all that had been lost when a firestorm had swept through their home. There was a soft hum in the air that smelled like magic and it made him feel safe. His sister was with him and he knew as long as she was around they would be all right.

Sarah’s shoulders drooped as she walked down the stairs to join Ellamora in the kitchen. The Elf had her herb kit laid out on the table, fresh bandages and a bowl of water waiting for the girl.

“Sit yourself down, child, the sooner I get your burns taken care of the sooner you can get to bed.” Her deep brown eyes looked Sarah over carefully through the wire rims of her glasses as her gentle fingers unwrapped the dressing on the human’s left arm.

“Thank you. I appreciate all you’re doing for my brother and me. Not everyone here is so kind.”

“It sounds to me as if you’ve had a run-in with some of the less hospitable beings in the Underground.” Ellamora added a small amount of water to a mortar filled with herbs and then began to grind them into a paste with a pestle.

“Well…ah…”

“No need for you to be polite.” The Elf talked on as she worked, relieving Sarah of the need to do much but listen. “There are those that only the King can keep in line. And those that should know better, but don’t. They forget that not everyone from the Aboveworld is the same. I think it comes from always being on the look-out for those who ‘wish-away’. Nasty, mean-spirited humans, they are. You can’t ever trust them, so the creatures that make their homes in the actual Labyrinth are just naturally stand-offish.”

Sarah was spared having to answer when a loud clattering on the road made Ellamora get up and look out her window. “Just as I thought,” she nodded as she watched the covered carriage and horses rush past. “Her Royal Highness, Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins is heading for the Castle beyond the Goblin City. She’ll find out what was behind the storm we were treated to at dinner. That boy of hers has given her all five of the gray hairs she’s got. He’ll be the death of her yet.”

“Her Royal High…” Sarah breath gave out and she couldn’t finish, the implications were too great. Jareth’s widow had just passed by, making it impossible for the human to deny her existence any longer.

“’Course, this is Her Majesty’s property, these are her lands. The village over the hill is for the families who have been in service to her family for generations. I was her nanny when she was a child, and her lady’s maid as an adult. When she was the reigning Queen we lived in the great Castle. And what a place that was, what a time we had.” Ellamora grinned happily. “But the good times weren’t to last. The King, may the Seven Crystals of Oberon protect his essence, was killed and my Lady retired to Corramar, her ancestral properties, to raise her wild beasts and keep a not too distant eye on her even wilder son.”

“When did…what happened to the King?” Sarah whispered. She had to be sure. “How long ago was he…?”

“Killed,” she finished for Sarah. “’Cause that was what it was, though it was made to look like an accident. It was a while back,” the Elf shrugged. Time was irrelevant, since she’d stopped counting the years when she’d turned 1500 years old. She doubted any human would understand that for those in the Underground two centuries was like yesterday. “But oh how he loved my Lady!” She shook her head at the memories. “And Her Highness loved him. Most Fae keep their feelings to themselves. They say it isn’t proper, especially for a King and Queen, to let their emotions show. It can make them vulnerable, but not those two, it just made them stronger. What a pair they made, beautiful, blonde and so much in love. Some say it was his intense feelings for her that killed him so young. That all that passion burned him out, but it wasn’t like that. It was betrayal, plain and simple. Nothing else could have brought down a Goblin King.”
……………………..

Jareth paced his office, working himself up into another temper. The betrayal he felt when he had looked at the six-year-old drawings Sarah had hidden in her Labyrinth book had opened up old wounds. She had rejected him at the same time she loved him. It was impossible. He was a Goblin King; lesser beings didn’t reject him lightly, but this snip of a girl had, and she’d known of his affection for her and if her drawing was to be believed, she returned the feelings. The heartless creature had used his affections to win her brother back, and then thrown them back in his face.

But as quickly as ideas swirled in his mind, he rejected them, unable to reconcile this new information about Sarah with years of seeing her innermost dreams and aspirations. Nothing fit; nothing except the guilt that nibbled at his heart when he pictured the blackened destruction of her bedroom. Could he have prevented her death the night before, if his pride hadn’t made him treat her so harshly when she’d been within his grasp? If he’d told her the truth, that her brother wouldn’t be turned into a Goblin, but returned home, no matter the outcome of her journey through the Labyrinth, might her answer been different?

“Jareth,” his mother calmly swept through the door to his office. It was apparent that her son was working himself up into another temper. She knew he had a passionate nature, but that he was careful to keep it hidden most of the time. His loss of control was one of the reasons the emotional storm he’d caused earlier in the evening had worried her enough to bring her out at almost midnight. “What has happened?”

“Nothing you need worry yourself about, mother.” He shrugged and tried hard to gain control of his features.

“It could hardly be nothing given the intensity of that storm that just passed, or the one that you’re brewing now.”

“Damn!” He slammed his gloved fist on the edge of his desk. “I am King, do I have no privacy?” he roared, and slammed his fist on the wooden surface again.

“Oh, my dear,” Livia said softly and covered her son’s hand with her own. He was hurting as she’d never seen him hurt. Now was not the time to tell him that he couldn’t expect something to remain private when he’d shouted it so publicly. “Please let me help you.”

“There is nothing you can do unless you can bring life to the dead, or undo the past.” With a hand that shook he ran his finger over the surface of the pictures that Sarah had drawn. “I am powerful enough to be able to reorder time in simple ways. I can remove minutes or even hours from a day, if they haven’t happened yet, but I can’t move it backwards to prevent a tragedy, no matter how terrible.” He took a breath to once again gain some control. Then he smoothed the paper beneath his fingers and handed it to his mother.

“The old rumors are true,” she gasped. “Is this the girl, the one from six years ago?” The woman’s eyes went immediately to the picture that Sarah had drawn of the crystal ballroom. The Fae woman recognized the look of love on the young girl’s face as she danced in the arms of the Goblin King. “What has happened that you are in possession of these pictures?”

“She died last night when a fire raged through her home in the Aboveground. Both she and the brother she fought so hard to save are dead.” His words came out thick and gravelly like ground glass.

Livia froze when her son talked of fire. The message she’d received just prior to the storm breaking told of two Aboveworlders who were now staying at Ellamora’s cottage. Both were human, one a young boy and the other his sister. They claimed to have fallen into the Underground when their home was destroyed suddenly in a fire.

“Are you sure?” It was a hard question to ask and would be harder for her son to answer, but if there was any chance that the visitors were not in the Underground by chance, it was necessary to find out.

“Yes, mother, I’m sure!” Jareth turned quickly and resumed his pacing. “I found these in the blackened remains of her bedroom.” He handed her the book, the picture and the bear. “She never went anywhere without it, and the stuffed animal belonged to her brother; she’d given it to him six years ago. If either of them were alive, they would have those objects with them.”

“That’s not proof, maybe they could be alive somewhere else.” Livia began to hope that the two who were with Ellamora were more than just lost travelers. It was too much of a coincidence otherwise, but she wasn’t going to say anything to Jareth until she was sure of not only the identity of these strangers, but their intentions regarding her son. She was still haunted by the treachery that had killed her husband when the Goblin Territories had been in negotiations over the disputed eastern valley that bordered on the Dwarf Lands.

“That was my first thought, as well,” he whispered. “When I found those things I hoped, I needed to believe, that she had escaped or just hadn’t been there, so I used magic to search the world of man for her. I found nothing, no trace of her, not even a lingering thought remained that Sarah Williams had ever lived. Her immediate family must have died in that fire or I would have been able to feel the memories of those who loved her but were left behind.”

“It looks as if she didn’t forget you, any more than you have forgotten her.” She smiled as she looked carefully at the drawings that had been folded in the book.

“It looks as if she lied to me when her thirteen hours were up!” The Goblin King’s fury broke and shook the windows.

“Please, dear, it frightens the staff when you do that.” Livia touched his arm lightly. His rare displays of emotions always caught his subjects by surprise. “Of course she lied, but all you have to do is look at this picture and you can see what it cost her to speak the words.”

“Cost her? I don’t think so, mother.” He stood tall and proud. “I always knew she was cruel,” he nodded toward the drawing of her rejection of him. “That was her final cruelty, but it was her undoing as well. If she’d stayed here she would be alive today, and a Queen.”

“Queen? You would have made a human Queen?”

“It was my intention at the time.” His voice was hollow and empty.

“If you loved her that much, then you must see that she wasn’t cruel.” Livia looked again at the anguish on the face of the human girl. “Spirited and stubborn most likely, but she’d need that if she were going to spend forever with you. I know you well enough to realize those were probably things about her you admired. Even when you had to deal with them first hand they would have interested you. I’ve seen the contempt in your eyes for the simpering maidens who would do your every bidding to gain your attention.”

“This is hardly an appropriate subject. The woman is dead.” Jareth didn’t want to listen to his mother’s logic. “I just wish I’d been allowed to believe the lie that she appeared to be and mourn her as a woman I cared for, rather than to have discovered this.” His finger shook when he pointed at the pictures. “This deceit. She only used my emotions to get back what she’d foolishly wished away.”

“Oh, my dear, you’re letting your sorrow blind you.” Her heart was breaking for her son. He was confused and in pain. “I realize that Fae women usually have their first liaison at fifteen, but Sarah was human. They tend to be a bit slower to understand the importance of pleasure in life.” It seemed like only yesterday to Livia that she’d been standing at a ball and looked up into the very blue eyes of Mesmer, Prince and heir to the Goblin Throne. She had been the human’s age and she’d never looked at another male again.

“I know all that, you forget I deal with these humans on a regular basis.”

“Then tell me, which of these two pictures is a true representation of what she looked like six years ago. They show a human female at very different stages of maturity.”

For the first time Jareth looked carefully at both drawings on the page. In the ballroom Sarah appeared as almost a woman grown. Her waist was slender and the gown she wore fit tightly over rounded breasts and slim shoulders. The cut of the bodice showed off her creamy skin to perfection. He remembered how difficult it had been to keep her at a distance when they moved around the dance floor. His hand at her waist had ached to move lower and cup her buttocks, driving her body hard against his. He remembered how he’d tightened his grip on her hand and held his head straight and his muscles tight to keep from burying his face in her hair and neck. The need to taste her skin while he worked his way to her lips had been almost overwhelming. In the ballroom Sarah had looked every inch a woman and he’d had to fight the desire to make the other dancers suddenly vanish, so that he could have peeled away her dress and sampled all of her.

When he looked at the picture of their final confrontation in the Escher Room, he was ashamed of the prurient feelings that consumed him. The girl in that picture was young, her body as slim as a boy’s. The oversized shirt and vest she wore hid any womanly curves that had begun to form. Her hair was thick and lovely, but she wore it straight like the school-girl she was. The only thing the two versions of Sarah had in common was their obvious innocence.

“They are both her,” Jareth whispered, unable to take his eyes off the truth. “When I first took her brother, she challenged me bravely with the strength of an adult. It was how I expected her to act and when she didn’t I called her spoiled and tormented her at every turn. I resented it when she acted like the young girl she was. In the ballroom she looked the part of a woman, but ran from me like a child. I should have known. How did I miss it?”

“You missed it because you’re a king who is used to getting his own way, which is as it should be. A king who isn’t obeyed isn’t much of a king. And because you wanted her, despite her youth and innocence. It’s no crime,” she smiled gently. “If she had been Fae, it would have been expected. As King, you must find a virgin bride, and Sarah would have been perfect. The only question that remains is do you care for her or the illusion of her? Which Sarah are you mourning?”

“What does it matter, I’ve lost her forever.”

“It matters a great deal,” Livia smiled sadly. “Your father has been dead for two hundred years. My love for him is as strong and sure as it ever was.”

“Mother, you speak of this emotion, love, as if it were like in the old myths. The ones from the time when beings from all the different worlds lived in the Aboveground. You speak as if you believe that our essence was joined with another’s at the time of the worlds’ Creation.” He had come to realize it was how he felt about Sarah, but knew it was politically unwise to admit it to anyone, even his mother. It was why he’d fought the High Court to remain single far beyond when he should have. He’d been waiting for her to be born and then grow up. It had been a long wait, which due to his pride and her lie six years ago, had ended in tragedy.

“My dear,” she smiled and caressed his cheek. “How could you have been raised by your father and me and not understood that is exactly what I believe. You’re a product of the passion that exists between two who are truly joined forever.”

“Somehow I doubt that telling the High Court I’m a ‘product of passion’ will satisfy them the next time they decide to concern themselves with my marital status.” Jareth sighed and wondered how long it would be until he was forced into giving up his Kingdom rather than entering into a marriage of convenience. His feelings for Sarah were so strong it felt to him as if she were alive and very close by, though he would never admit it. The idea of taking another woman as his wife was impossible to contemplate.

“Your position with the Court is much stronger than you realize. Though it was wise of you not to tell anyone the truth six years ago.” Livia may have been reduced to Dower Queen, but her political acumen was as sharp as ever. “Your skill at running the Goblin Territories, as difficult as they are to manage, isn’t the only reason the High Court backed down. Even a strong, well-liked king can be replaced. The attempted coup that took your father’s life 200 years ago should have proven that to you. It is your ability in dealing with humans and their tangled emotions that the Court knew it could not replace. The wished-away children that you bring back are necessary to our dwindling population.”

“Humans are simple, uncomplicated creatures,” he was surprised that anyone would think otherwise, but glad to have his mother change the subject. “There may be a few that cause a bit of a muddle.” He nodded toward the book she was holding. It was evident he thought Sarah was the exception to the rule.

“Not to most of us they aren’t. Even my darling Mesmer, may the Seven Crystals of Oberon protect his essence, found them difficult and hard to understand.” Livia opened the Labyrinth book to the picture Sarah had drawn of Jareth as he’d first appeared to her. “But you, look at you. If there is any truth to this picture, you frighten those who deserve harsher treatment and are the product of imagination to those who only need a warning. You deal with them as no Goblin King ever has. You know instinctively which child to take and which to ignore. You are responsible for finding Fae homes for human children who were unwanted and hurt. Both our races have benefited from your work.”

“Mother, it is part of the responsibility of being Goblin King, nothing more, nothing less.” He was uncomfortable having his mother speak of him as if what he did was something special.

“Don’t look upon your talent lightly. There were nights Mesmer would pace the floor worrying that he’d taken a child who had only been wished-away in a selfish moment, or worse, that he’d relented and left behind a child who would be harmed. But you know the difference: you can read these humans.” Livia stopped and frowned as she gazed at her son and the pictures Sarah had drawn of him. Something was wrong with the entire Sarah situation. Her son was too knowledgeable at what he did to make the mistake he appeared to have made in taking the child.

“I find it odd that one of my greatest failures should make you comment on my great understanding of humans.” He looked over her shoulder at the drawing of him dancing with Sarah in the enchanted ballroom and wondered how he’d missed the loving look on the girl’s face all those years ago.

“You knew? You knew the second you confronted this girl that she never wanted her brother taken or that she’d never harm him!” It was a revelation that solved many questions. Jareth had never been beaten in the Labyrinth, no Goblin King had. There were only the occasional, odd rumors from six years ago. “You took the child and made her run the maze, when you had no intention of keeping the babe. You even helped her. That’s how she won?”

“Mother!” Jareth tried to appear properly scandalized at the suggestion. “It would be against everything I stand for to give aid to a human who had wished away a child!”

“But you did it nonetheless,” she shook her head and smiled. “After all, you couldn’t very well keep the babe when it was the girl you were interested in, and you were – don’t try and deny it.”

“All I did was keep her safe. It would hardly be seemly to have the future Queen’s head bounced around by Fireys or to have her smelling like the Bog of Eternal Stench.” He shrugged, finding it easier to play the role of King than to admit the reason for his actions. “Besides, I wanted to teach her a lesson. Threatening to take the boy wouldn’t have been enough.”

“You’re in love with her and you were then. Why can’t you admit it?”

“She interested me.” He refused to say the words out loud. In his experience words held power beyond belief.

“It was more than interest.” Livia patted his arm. “It was your feelings for her that wouldn’t let you see her as the woman-child she really was.”

Jareth sighed as he leafed through the pages of Sarah’s Labyrinth book. “I find it ironic that this book has no ending.” He smiled sadly. “The story stops when the girl confronts the King. It lets the readers make up their own minds as to what happens. Maybe it would have been better if it had ended there for me as well.”

“Oh, my dear, give yourself time. I know this is very hard for you, but there may still be something you’re missing.” Livia kissed her son on the cheek and left. She had a visit to make on the way home, a stop at a small thatched cottage that belonged to an Elf whom she’d known all her life.

Jareth leaned back in his chair and sighed. He was missing something alright, and he would for the rest of his long life. Out of habit he pulled Sarah’s crystal from the air, but stopped himself before he held it to the light. Once he looked in the magic sphere and saw only gray shadows where before there had been dreams of the future, it would lock the door on any hope he had that somewhere, somehow, she lived.

“My love,” he whispered as he cupped the crystal with both hands. “You will be forever within my heart.”
…………………………
Ellamora, Sarah and Toby took the shortcut over the hill behind the Elf’s cottage. They had been summoned for an audience with Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins. The note that had arrived mid-morning had been worded politely enough, but Sarah was wise enough to know it was a command, not a choice. The three of them had been invited for tea with Her Highness, and Sarah a private audience first.

“Now, girl, remember all I told you.” Ellamora said for the tenth time since they’d started out. “You’ll be in the presence of Royalty and expected to act like it. I know that not all you Abovegrounders are familiar with the concept.”

“But I don’t understand why I have to meet with her alone.” It took all her effort not to add, ‘it’s not fair’.

“Because that is the way it’s done, child.” The Elf was discovering that even though the human girl appeared exhausted and wounded from her ordeal, she was extremely stubborn. “And it’s not just you Her Highness wants to meet, but your brother as well. You just get to go first.”

When they crested the hill, a castle with tall turrets and stately gardens lay nestled in the valley below.

“Well there it is, Corramar, the loveliest piece of land you’ll ever see, in any of the seven worlds.” Ellamora pointed to the place where she’d grown-up and had worked for a good part of her life.

“She…”

“Her Majesty, Her Ladyship, or Her Highness, never ‘she’.” The Elf corrected Sarah gently as the girl stood awestruck staring into the distance.

“Oh…yes…sorry…” Suddenly it became very real to Sarah. She was going to face Jareth’s widow. The thought of all that involved made her dizzy just to think about it. Then a flash of brown and another of blinding white caught her attention, as two animals raced in a fenced-in pasture behind one of the outbuildings of the castle. “Her Highness, raises horses?”

“Well, not exactly horses,” Ellamora grinned. “What do you get if you cross a horse with a unicorn?”

“Pardon?” Sarah blinked. For a moment she wasn’t sure if the Elf was trying to tell a joke from the Aboveworld, or if she was being serious.

“Wow!” Toby gasped. He’d been quietly listening to the adults talk and couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer. “You mean the Queen raises some kind of Unihorse.”

“Land sakes, young man don’t let anyone hear you call them that.” The Elf laughed. “They are special animals, only bred here. Her Majesty’s father was Master of the Horse for the old King, back when her Ladyship was a child. It had been his dream to create a new breed of animal. Unicorns have magic, but their temperament makes them unpredictable and wild. They refuse to be ridden by anyone, even the Fae lords whose powers are the strongest in the Underground. The Horse Master believed that a successful mating with the proper horse would create a new strain, one that had both stability and magic. Monoceros is what he called his new breed.

“The big white animal in the corral is a unicorn. I can see the sun flash off his horn from here.” Toby jumped up and down in his excitement. The magic of the Underground was working its way into the boy’s system and taking away his hurts. Unlike Sarah who was fighting to keep it out, the child had embraced it and was looking and feeling better.

“You are very observant. His name is Moonbeam and he belongs to the present King, who caught him in the wilds and raised him from a colt. That unicorn always knows when His Highness comes for a visit, almost as if their magic speaks to one another. He can be a bad tempered brute but will eat an apple right out of His Majesty’s hand, though he won’t let anyone up on his back. It has been rather hard on the King’s posterior.” Ellamora smiled at Jareth’s many attempts to ride the wild beast.

“Is that a horse in there with him?” Sarah smiled as Toby kept asking all the questions she wanted to ask, but couldn’t get past the lump in her throat.

“Yes, that’s Magic. Her Ladyship named her that when Moonbeam chose the filly a year ago. That stallion had been giving everyone fits. It was past time to breed him, but he turned up his nose and pranced away like he didn’t have a care in the world whenever he was presented with a likely candidate. Then about a year ago, one of the handlers accidentally left a young sable-coated filly in his exercise pasture. The unicorn threw a regular temper tantrum, but he didn’t harm her. Next thing everyone knew, the big white brute was prancing around showing off like a peacock, but Magic was too young to mate, and didn’t have a clue what was being asked of her. Somehow Moonbeam realized it and settled back to wait and watch over her. Well, his time of waiting is growing to an end. Magic will come into season sometime in the next month or two.”

“It sounds like a love story.” Toby crinkled his nose. Love stories were for girls, and not something that interested him. He didn’t plan on doing anything mushy like falling in love, ever!

“I guess you could say it is.” Ellamora smiled softly. “If any animals know about love it would be the unicorns. They mate for life. Once those two animals join, Moonbeam will become more possessive of Magic than he already is. If you want to meet them, better do it now or there will be no getting near her unless you win him over first. If he already trusts you, there should be no problems later.”

“Moonbeams and magic…” Sarah could only stare as she felt herself surrounded by the scent of the Goblin King.

“A fitting combination,” Ellamora responded cryptically. “We’ve dallied long enough. You go in the front way, girl. I’m going to take Toby to the kitchen. Her Majesty’s cook is a friend of mine. We can help to prepare the tea.”

Sarah’s hand shook as she knocked on the great door of the castle. She had no wish to meet living proof that all her dreams of the last six years were a lie. The King had been acting a part to win her brother when he pretended that he cared about her. She should have known and if she’d been older, it would have been clear. He was a powerful Fae lord, what would he want with a fifteen-year-old girl? Even knowing that didn’t change the way she felt about him, but she wished it did. Her guilt over his death was intensified knowing the man she couldn’t get out of her heart belonged to another.

The elderly goblin who answered the door led Sarah into a drawing room. Late afternoon light flooded the spacious room from several large windows, but it was the radiant Fae woman sitting with her head bent over her needlepoint who captured Sarah’s attention. Her rose satin dress with long full skirts accented her blonde loveliness.

Sarah blinked back tears when confronted with the Dowager Queen’s beauty. She was an excellent match for Jareth. They must have been a striking pair. For a moment Sarah was embarrassed. The idea was laughable that she had thought that this woman’s husband might have looked with affection at the gangly girl she had been, when he had his Queen with her soft womanly curves and graceful manner waiting for him at home.

“Your Majesty,” as the butler’s clear ringing tones announced their presence, Sarah bit her lip and prayed for strength to get through the necessary meeting. “The spinster, Sarah Williams, wishes an audience with you.”

Soft blue eyes lifted from an intricate needlepoint pattern to meet the girl’s green ones. Livia was careful to keep her face blank of any emotion, though she wanted to blink in surprise when confronted with a living, breathing version of the drawings she’d seen in Jareth’s office the night before.

Sarah quickly averted her eyes and stepped forward to curtsy as Ellamora had taught her. She tried to remember the careful instructions on proper court etiquette she’d been given by the Elf. One of the most important had been to not speak until spoken to.

“Thank you, Chazel, that will be all.” the Queen nodded to the butler and waited until the doors were closed behind him to acknowledge the human. “You may rise, girl.” She had no intentions of making this meeting easy on Sarah. Information was needed and the sooner the better. It was only a matter of time before Jareth learnt of the two newest inhabitants in the Underground. If these Abovegrounders planned trouble they would discover the Dowager Queen to be a formidable enemy.

“Your Majesty,” Sarah whispered and tried to look the other woman in the eyes, but failed. She knew she was at a disadvantage in her ill-fitting borrowed dress, with her left arm wrapped to protect burn marks that were slowly healing into scars and the long angry red blister that went from her chin, down her neck to her collar bone. But the sooner the meeting was over, the sooner she and Toby could get to work trying to find a way back home.

“Ellamora Kilhaggen tells me that you’ve recently arrived in our small village.” Livia looked the girl up and down unable to take her eyes off her. A queen could stare and it wasn’t considered bad manners, but Livia doubted the girl would take much comfort in that fact as she watched her pick nervously at the skirt of her poorly tailored dress. She had no doubts about the stranger’s identity. It was her intentions that were in question. “And that you have no memory of how you got here.”

“That’s correct, Ma’am…ah…Your Highness. One moment my brother and I were trying to get out of our burning house, the next we were falling.” Sarah’s eyes darted around the room, unable to meet the piercing blue ones that seemed to look into her soul. They came to rest on a life-sized portrait that hung over the fireplace to the right of the Queen’s shoulder. There was no mistaking the joyous couple who had been captured in oils for posterity. The male was tall with wild blonde hair. He was slim and proud in a striking blue frock coat and breeches that fit him like a second skin. His beautiful face was filled with love as he gazed into the eyes of a younger version of the woman who sat in front of Sarah.

“That is the painting that was done in commemoration of my wedding day.” Livia watched carefully as the girl turned pale and had trouble catching her breath. Though she wasn’t as adept at reading humans as her son was, it was easy to see that the portrait was causing the girl distress.

“Ohhh…” Sarah gasped and covered her mouth. Black spots formed in front of her eyes and her head swam, but she moved forward on unsteady feet to get a better look. There was something wrong with the painting, but her mind wouldn’t take it in. Part of her knew that she was giving herself away, but she couldn’t stop her forward motion if her life depended on it. “It’s not right,” she muttered.

“What isn’t?” The older woman rose and followed Sarah as she stared up at the portrait. Something very important was happening, Livia could sense it, but she was unsure how to interpret it.

“I’m not sure…but…it’s him, but it’s not,” She said, hardly audible, her voice full of doubt. For the first time in six years she was in the presence of a likeness of Jareth that she hadn’t drawn. “But…but…his eyes…his eyes are wrong.” Tears were streaming down her face, but she didn’t feel them. All she knew was that the Goblin King in the painting had deep blue eyes, not the fascinating mismatched ones that had haunted her dreams for years.

“No, that is exactly how they looked,” Livia smiled as she remembered learning the joys of love while watching those eyes flash with blue fire as they lit with passion.

“But…no…” Sarah shook her head and backed away from the painting, all rules of etiquette forgotten. For one moment she wondered if she had died in her burning room and this was her own private version of hell. “All that happened before couldn’t have been a dream or hallucination.” Sarah was staring into the face of the man who lived within her heart, and tried not to doubt herself. She fought for what she believed was the last shreds of her sanity. “It wasn’t only my imagination. It was real,” she added. “Because Toby and I are here now and we’re real, you’re real, Ellamora is real and…” her voice cracked “…and Jareth was before I killed him,” she sobbed. “But those aren’t his eyes! His were different, unique,” she smiled softly as she remembered heavy-lidded mismatched eyes that had the power to make her feel things she hadn’t felt in a very long time. “I know because they’ve haunted me for six years.”

“Jareth?” Livia gasped in surprise. She’d imagined many possible conversations she might have with the human, but this was not one of them. “That’s not Jareth. It’s his father, my husband, Mesmer.” Livia watched as her words seemed to bounce off Sarah. All the girl could do was shake her head and cry harder. For the first time the Queen was aware of how thin and fragile she looked. Whatever the child had been through in the last forty-eight hours had left deeper, more painful marks than the ones on her skin. “Why would you think it was Jareth, or that he was dead?”

Sarah had trouble catching her breath between sobs. She’d wrapped her arms around herself to keep from flying into tiny pieces. “I was there in the Escher room when it cracked and his magic broke beneath us.” Her voice shook with emotion as she felt and saw all over again what had happened six years ago. “Jareth died and it was my fault.” Sarah buried her face in her hands while silent tears shook her body. “I’m….so…so...sorry.” Her words came out in rough sobs. “I didn’t mean to do it, really I didn’t.”

“Oh, my dear,” Livia put her arms around the human. “You didn’t kill him. My son is very much alive in the Castle beyond the Goblin City.”

“But I saw it happen and it felt as though something essential to my being was ripped from within me. After the spell shattered, he was deathly white, I could feel the pain he was in…but the clock was almost to the thirteenth hour. I was out of time. There was nothing else I could do, so I said…I lied to him….I had to…I couldn’t let him turn Toby into a goblin…I swear I didn’t know it would make him disappear. I thought I was the only one who would pay a price.” Her legs gave out and Livia helped her to the floor, still holding on to her as she cried. “I didn’t know it would kill him.”

Sarah sat on the floor with her head in the lap of Livia, Dowager Queen of the Goblins, and cried her heart out. All the pent up sorrow she’d kept hidden tightly away for the last six years was finally freed. She cried for the loss of the man she knew she’d loved when she was a child and believed she now loved as a woman. She cried for her mother, Linda, who had drifted out of her life years ago and for the recent loss of her father and stepmother. And for all the empty years that she would spend in regret because of a careless childhood game that had cost her so much.

“It’s all right, everything is going to be all right,” Livia soothed as she comforted the sobbing young woman. She ran one hand down the girl’s neatly braided hair and whispered soft words just as if she were dealing with a grief-stricken child. It was obvious that Sarah was as distraught as Jareth had been the night before, but much less adept at hiding it. The Fae woman shook her head at the mess these two had made of their lives. Both were sorrowing and in pain because they thought the other was dead. It was almost like one of those odd Aboveground novels that her son would occasionally bring back for her to read. “Hush, my dear, you’re going to be all right.”

“No, nothing will be all right ever again.” Sarah pulled back and tried to wipe her face dry. “Now you and everyone will know the truth. I wished my brother away on a whim and killed a Goblin King in order to get him back.”

“Here, take this,” the Fae woman held out a lace edged handkerchief. “I meant it when I said Jareth is alive. I’m his mother; I wouldn’t lie to you about such a thing.” She wondered what had happened between the two six years ago to make Sarah think she’d destroyed Jareth. Knowing her son the way she did, she was sure he was behind it. “You didn’t kill him. You couldn’t, you’re human and don’t have the power to do so. The man in that picture is Mesmer, his father. The artist captured his eyes perfectly. Jareth has the famous mismatched eyes of the Goblin Kings, which skips every other generation.”

“He’s really alive?” For one joyous moment Sarah let herself feel guilt washed away by joy. Then fear began to eat at the edges of her happiness as she remembered how determined the Goblin King had been to win her brother. Her complexion paled even more, if that was possible, as she absorbed the new information. “Oh my God, I left Toby with Ellamora. They’ll all see him, they’ll all know and then so will Jareth!” She gasped and tried to get to her feet, but Livia’s sure grip on her shoulders held her tightly in place. “I have to hide him until I can get us out of here. If he finds him here, he’ll turn him into a goblin for sure this time!”

“Sarah, you’re not making any sense.” The Queen tightened her hold on the girl and gave her a little shake to get her attention. “What’s all this nonsense about goblins?”

“No, please, I have to get to my brother.” Sarah sobbed, but black spots were forming in front of her eyes as pain throbbed from the burns on her arm, which Livia was inadvertently digging into as she held onto her.

“Sarah….Saraaaahhhh…” Livia’s words twisted and swam toward Sarah as if from a great foggy cavern until they filled her mind and blocked out all the pain and sorrow that had been her constant companion for the last forty-eight hours. Darkness rushed toward her as she fell forwards, unconscious, in the lap of the worried Dowager Queen.

Ch 3 - Second Chances

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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