Continuing Tales

Of Cupid and Psyche

A Labyrinth Story
by Chibi-no-oneesan

Part 13 of 16

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The bruise was not as bad as anyone had suspected. Jareth stared down at the purple-brown slash on her back and wondered how she'd managed to walk back by herself. Especially carrying that rather heavy pack. On her stomach was a bruise that was just as angry, but not nearly so large, and it was that bruise that troubled Caledonensis the worst.

Now, Jareth paced outside of her bedroom, because whatever they were discussing, Sarah said was just between herself and the magician. He was tense and agitated, and he did not like that his future bride had gotten injured in such a way. It made him want to find Septimus and give him the honor of the same gentle treatment. It bothered him that as he'd been leaving, he'd seen Caledonensis place a hand low on Sarah's abdomen, below where the bruise ended.

Still, Sarah was clever, and she was proving it to the courts again and again. Lance had looked positively furious that she'd succeeded. It was as though because his own chosen lover had denied him, he was trying to interfere with Jareth's love-life as well. Lately, every time the fool opened his mouth, Jareth wanted to shut it for him. Permanently.

Caledonensis left the room, a troubled expression on his face. He looked towards Jareth and sighed. "Your lady will be fine. Make sure she rests well tomorrow. No exerting herself. She needs this day, so make certain she does not exert herself. Perhaps you should take her to the library."

Jareth frowned faintly. "Is there something you and Sarah aren't telling me?"

"Yes." The old man said, arching a brow. "And it will remain so until she is ready to let you know. I am no happier with it than you, but she has valid points. Don't bother pumping Guenevere or Arthur. She hasn't told them either. To the best of my knowledge, this is between Sarah and myself for now."

His frown deepened. "That girl is more stubborn than an ass," he grumbled, pushing the door to her room open. She was laying face down on her bed, her bruised back still exposed to the air. Nearby was an ointment that no doubt was for that dark smear on her flesh. "Has the ointment been applied, precious?"

"No." She said, sounding weary. He saw how boneless she seemed and realized that her body probably felt like it was supported by nothing more than gelatin. He moved towards her, taking the ointment and opening it. He removed his gloves, then scooped the ointment into his hand, smoothing it gently over her back.

He remained silent for a long time, simply massaging the cool cream onto her skin. "I understand why it happened, but I cannot say I am pleased. Could you have not had one of the other trolls release the catch on the trap?"

"Too small." She murmured. "You didn't hear them. It was like they could feel the pain he was in. It hurt him a lot more than he even let them know. They were ready to attack me at first. They thought I was a threat. He realized I meant to help him before they did."

He smiled faintly, scooping more of the goop onto her back, then he set the jar aside, smoothing his hands along the bruise. "It still makes me want to treat one of them to the same manner of affection."

"Septimus didn't mean to hurt me," her voice grew quiet, slurred. She moaned softly as he slid his hands up to massage her shoulders. She pressed back into his hands, sighing softly. "The trolls are viciously protective of their people, their land. Really," she stifled a yawn, then continued, "not so different from anyone else..."

He cleaned his hands off on a square of linen, and then capped the jar, flipping the blankets up over the large bruise. She was quiet, her breathing steady, and he knew she'd fallen asleep once more. He settled onto the bed beside her, gently stroking her hair. It as a great relief that she'd not had any serious harm come to her. Still, it galled a bit to know she was hiding something from him.

It wasn't that she didn't trust him, which frustrated him more. He knew she trusted him. He'd seen it in her eyes when she'd look at him. Those glittering, green defiant eyes...yes that was the problem. She thrived on defying him. He knew, because just as sure as she trusted him, her eyes glittered with joy when his temper sharpened, her excitement increased. Just as much as it excited him when she did.

He sighed heavily, looking down at her with warm exasperation. She hadn't said anything regarding his confession, however in situations like this, actions often spoke louder than words. She was trying to console him, to prove that she wasn't going to leave him again, and she was putting herself in harms way to do so.

Her ear still was red and raw where the faery queen had bitten her, and now she had this sizable, painful bruise. He knew that if Caledonensis had suspected that she were hurt worse than he could deal with, he would have called the healer in. Still, all these injuries troubled him. God only knew what the next trial would be, and Sarah was already weakened due to her illness. She didn't know he knew, but he heard her bolt from his bed every morning, and she'd spend the next several minutes in the bathroom, quietly retching. He knew she'd brushed her teeth to hide the fact from him, because when she returned to his side, her mouth tasted of sweet mint, but she could never quite get rid of the smell of sickness.

He wanted to fight her on her continuing the trials, but every time he mentioned it, she told him in a round-about manner that this was as much for her as it was for him. She was as stubborn as an ass. Unfortunately, that was one of the things he loved about her. Slowly, he slid down to lay beside her, putting his arm carefully around her waist. She made a weak noise of protest and he eased the slight pressure, concerned he was hurting her. He pressed a soft kiss to her shoulder, then pressing his face lightly to the place where she was the least bruised on her back.

After a moment, she rolled towards him, bringing her bruised back to his chest, making it easier to hold her. He rested his hand lightly against her chest, just over her heart, feeling her pulse pound softly against his palm. He could feel the thin chain that held the pendant he'd given her. He could not tell her how it touched him that she had kept it on her at all times. Even in the bath, he had seen it there, a telltale glint against her chest. He wasn't certain why, but since her return, his ability to feel her through the necklace had grown with every moment they were together. Now, he could feel her emotions when they were close like this without her hand coming into contact with it.

That was the trigger. Rather like the fingerprint sensors they had in the Above, the first time she'd touched it, it had imprinted the lines on her hand into itself. Now, as often as she'd handled it without realizing, it would only answer her. Only she could touch it. If a hand besides her own wrapped around it, he would know, and it would trigger the crystals own defenses, burning the person who'd so foolishly let their flesh come into contact with the delicate surface.

It had been meant as a sign that she was under the protection of the Goblin King. Now, she deserved something different, something fit for a queen. Once she completed the tests, he would contact the artisans required for such a creation.

Smiling fondly against her skin, he pulled his gloves off and set his hands on her arms, feeling the softness of her flesh. "Ah, precious. You love making me worry, don't you?" He sighed, wrapping his arms carefully around her shoulders, pulling her closer to his chest. He buried his face into her hair and felt himself finally relax, as her scent wrapped around him, luring him into the clutches of one of the dream weavers.


Whispers in the dark, low, fierce. They argued. They had always argued, but that passion had been a driving factor in their relationship. "What do you mean, she succeeded?"

The man's voice was just as angry. "It's not my fault! The crystals were switched, just as planned! But this witch is clever! She's taking the rules she's given and turning them to her benefit! Somehow she's charmed the faery swarm and the night trolls! These trials are not working! She needs something more ambiguous..."

"She needs something fatal!"

"There are two more trials. If my way fails this time, then we'll go with yours."

A long silence, and then the woman spoke again. "What will we do about the woman?"

The man laughed haughtily. "That fool has taken care of herself. The hint that you sent her was motivation enough for her to come here, to stand before the court. Arthur has taken her into custody."

"And if she speaks out against us?"

"Who would believe her? Everyone believes she's gone insane."

Two figures leaned into each other, and the whispers stopped.


Sarah woke the next morning in considerable pain. Every muscle ached, and the bruise on her back throbbed. She moaned, trying to roll onto her stomach. However, two arms tightened around her and she became aware of the feeling of silk against her back. One hand rested over her heart, the other was low on her stomach, holding her still. Lips on her shoulder, his nose gently brushing against her neck.

She would have squirmed around to look at him, but she suspected that trying would result in more pain. She turned her head, finding him sleeping, a content expression on his face. She smiled, relaxing and snuggling back into him. She winced a bit and withheld a pained moan. When she returned her gaze in front of her, she found a goblin with a plate of toast.

It gave her a secretive smile. "Ginger jelly. Kitchen ladies say it helps."

Sarah sighed softly, wondering if there was anyone here besides the ones she'd told the healer and Caledonensis not to tell that didn't know of her condition. She accepted the toast, nibbling on it, hoping that she'd be able to actually rest today. Once she began to eat it, the goblin skittered away and not a moment too soon, either.

A hand slid from her heart and settled on her breast, massaging it, teasing her nipple till it began to ache. She pouted at her toast and contemplated driving her elbow into her lovers stomach. "I'm eating." She muttered to him.

"Hm." He agreed.

Huffing softly, she twisted so she could look at his face and saw him wearing that contented, sleepy smile and found she couldn't quite chew him out. "Jareth..." She sighed softly.

He opened his mouth, biting down lightly on her shoulder, just enough pressure from his teeth to stimulate, not enough to cause harm. It caused a shiver to start at the bottoms of her feet and work all the way to her scalp. "That is not fair." She muttered, and heard a throaty chuckle from the man behind her. She felt his arms ease from around her and he popped up, leaning over her and smiling in that mischievous way of his.

"You say that so often," he teased, leaning closer towards her, a devilish look in his eyes. "I wonder what your basis of comparison is..."

His nose bumped against hers, and just before he could press his lips against hers, she became aware of the pain the twisted position she was in was causing. He must have seen the pain on her face, because his became a mask of concern and she straightened, laying on her stomach once again. There was a soft, pained sigh and she felt him move a bit from her side, and then return a moment later.

Then, the scent of lavender hit her nose and she felt him smoothing the ointment onto her skin once again. She relaxed under his gentle touch and sighed softly. "Sorry..." She said quietly.

His hand paused, then began moving once again. When he spoke, he sounded perturbed. "Whatever for, precious?"

"You...want me to stop doing the challenges. You keep telling me that I have nothing to prove. And I didn't take your advice and got hurt." She kept her voice low. "I know you would do anything to get me out of the situation, but..."

His movements had stopped, hands had come away from her skin. "Yes, Sarah. I would do anything for you, and yet you wont let me. But to be honest, I doubt I would have ever fallen for you if you took the easy way out of the situations you found yourself in. You can't see yourself when you're before the court. You're dazzling, precious. Defiant."

Slowly, she sat upright, once again, shocked at how much pain her back was in. Holding the sheet to her breasts to maintain her modesty, she turned to face the man on the bed with her. He was giving her a look of patience, and she blushed, lowering her gaze. "I love you." She said softly, lifting her gaze to look at him.

He flashed that dazzling smile at her, and leaned forward, kissing her. "I know, precious."

She drew back, staring at him. "What do you mean you know?"

That patient look again and he tilted his head to the side as an amused smirk turned up his thin lips. "Firstly, precious, because you came back. Second, because you're insisting on proving to me that you want to stay. Finally..." His fingers came up, touched the corners of her eyes. "Because the manner which the curse was removed from you." He cradled her face between his hands, kissed both of her eyes, then drew back.

She felt wetness on her cheeks, but it took her a moment to realize she was crying. His thumbs brushed the tears away again and again and he just smiled warmly down at her. Without a word, she burrowed her face into his chest, not caring as her back protested the movement, as well as the weight of his arms on it. She fisted her hands in the soft silk of his shirt, trying to catch her breath, calm herself.

There was a soft knock at the door and she felt Jareth look up as the door opened, revealing Caledonensis and the healer. Both entered, and moved forward. When he spoke, his voice was colored with mild amusement. "I suppose that's my cue to leave." He gently extracted his shirt from her hands, pressed a tender kiss to her forehead, and headed to the connecting door.


Jareth turned, looking towards Sarah in concern. "Yes?"

She blushed darkly, twisting the blankets in one hand while clutching the other to her chest. "You...can stay." She said softly. She saw surprise on all three faces and took a deep breath. "It's as much your business as mine, Jareth." She felt anxiety holding her captive and had to force the next words out. "I'm pregnant."


His beloved Sarah had an amazing knack for completely turning his world upside down, inside out, and destroying it with just a few words. Naturally, his first reaction was shock. His knees suddenly felt a bit like jelly and he staggered back towards the bed, sitting on the edge, uncertain what to say. Shortly after shock came concern for Sarah as well as the babe inside her. He turned, staring at her, and came to realize that for now, at the very least, Sarah was fine.

Finally, came fury.

She must have seen it on his face because she lowered her head, seemed to brace herself.

Even seeing that, he couldn't stop the darker side of him from racing to the surface to yell at her. "You little idiot," he shouted, getting to his feet and starting to pace the room. "You...and you..." Wow, it had been years since he'd been so furious that he'd been at a loss for words. He looked towards the healer and his mentor and his breath hissed out from between his lips. "Make sure she and the babe are fine, then I'll discuss this with her." He wasn't certain how he'd managed to keep his voice steady, nor how he found the words and strung them together legibly.

The healer hurried forward, pulled out several gadgets that Jareth did not have a name for and coaxed Sarah into laying down. He pulled down the blanket, and gently palpated the slightly fainter bruise on Sarah's abdomen, a frown on his face. "These two have good strong spirits..." the man said, resting a hand flat, a slight frown on his face. "The lady isn't doing poorly either."


He didn't realize he'd spoken until the healer looked towards him. Fortunately, Sarah looked just as baffled. The oldest man in the room, however, sharpened, and moved towards Sarah.

"Yes, your majesty. The lady is pregnant with twins."

The world bobbed, spun, and a strong, slender hand caught his arm and he was being hauled over to a chair and dropped in it. A flask was pushed into his hand and he followed the sharp order to drink it. Once the world stopped acting like a tilt-a-whirl or a child's top, he opened his eyes and found Sarah looking at him in concern.

For some reason, that was extremely amusing to him. Still, he was furious with her, and couldn't bring himself to chuckle. The doctor was still examining her, had her sitting upright while he looked and palpated the bruise on her back.

"You're very fortunate. That troll must have pulled the blow at the last minute." He withdrew, started digging through his bag.

"What do you mean?" Sarah asked, puzzled.

"You're bruised, and you'll be sore as hell for a few weeks, but if a night troll had hit you at full strength, you would have several broken bones, possibly a snapped neck. I've seen people's brains reduced to paste, Lady Sarah. Believe me, you were quite fortunate."

It was gratifying, the way she paled, looked weak and a little frightened.

The doctor handed her a small vial, spoke softly to her, handed her another bottle, and continued speaking. "Keep up with the eating. We'll worry about the rest of this later. I'm sure your mate and Caledonensis wish to speak to you." With that, the healer headed towards the door.

Once the door was shut behind him, Jareth jumped to his feet, about to have words with his lady, but a fist held strategically over his head scrambled his head enough that he plopped back down into the seat. Caledonensis moved towards her, his face calm. "I suppose you still wish to continue." It was more a statement than a question.

Sarah's eyes grew determined. "I don't give up once I start something."

"You're a stubborn young lady," there was sad amusement in his eyes. "Jareth chose his queen well." Those intense blue eyes pinned the Goblin King a moment later. "Do not interfere with her choice, young man. You have to learn to trust her, and if you cannot trust her, how is she supposed to trust you?"

The words knocked the wind right out of his sails and Jareth sagged into the chair a bit. "Leave us, Caledonensis, this conversation does not involve you. I..." He swallowed his pride. "I will take your advice into account."

The man nodded, moving towards the door, and disappearing into the hall.

Jareth put a hand to his face. "You precious little fool..." He whispered, massaging his temples. He looked up at her, feeling bruised and still quite a bit off kilter. "Why didn't you tell me? Do you realize what could have happened to you? To the children?" His children, their children. A surge of joy killed abruptly by pain. "And you wish to continue! You've not left one of these challenges unscathed, and they're going to get worse!"

Unable to sit still any longer, he bounded out of the chair, pacing the length of the room. "Sarah, do you really understand? I'm terrified of what might happen to you. If this is what you want...I wont stand in your way. It may kill me, but I will not stop you. Before that, you have to understand..."

She lifted her gaze, looking up at him. "Yes, I've been hurt. I've faced these trials and I've gotten hurt, been worn out, been through things I never dreamed possible. Yes, I know that. I understand I'll probably get hurt again. But while you may accept me, this world...the people in that court do not want me here. They've made that blatantly obvious. Maybe it's because they hold Lance's word in esteem, maybe it's because you show such interest in me...I don't know."

His head hung and he sat on the bed with her. "You want to make everyone know that you belong here."

Her hand rested on his. "With you."

He looked up at her and felt her drag his hands over, setting them lightly against the lower part of her abdomen. He glanced down at where her hands held his and his breath left him all at once. "Sarah..."

"I'll protect our children. You...just think about the wedding?" She seemed shy, nervous, worried.

He sighed, a small smile turning up his lips and he put one arm around her, pulling her close. "Very well, precious." His smirk broadened as he pressed his face into her hair. No need for her to know that he'd been planning that wedding since she'd last left him.

They snuggled like that for awhile longer, before they untangled themselves, deciding that it was a good time to bathe, change, and get ready to greet the world. Once finished, Jareth led Sarah down to the room he knew Guenevere and Arthur would be waiting. Upon pushing open the door, he heard raised voices and Jareth held up a finger, a gentle request for silence before leading Sarah into the room.

"That girl is twisting the rules set for the trials! She's blurring the line between right and wrong until there is no distinction! Splitting hairs!"

Arthur saw Sarah standing there at Jareth's side and flicked his gaze back towards the man before him, Lance, who was livid with anger. "And what do you suggest I do, Lance? She has not broken the rules set. She is simply being clever, using her brain to work around the restrictions. That is not against the rules, in fact it is counted on. Has it been so long that we've had an immigrant that you were not at court the last time? She has been given more difficult challenges than I've ever seen and she is triumphing. Why does that bother you so?"

The sound of the man grinding his teeth was audible. He turned on his heal and seemed startled that Sarah and Jareth were standing there. The man shot them both a look of undisguised malevolence, and then stalked out of the room. Once he was gone, Arthur sagged. "That boy has become twisted in these past years. There is some wound that is festering more and more with each passing day..." He shook his head.

Jareth moved forward, guiding Sarah until she was sitting near Guenevere, who looked troubled. "Gwenny, whatever is the matter?"

"He protests too much. He genuinely wants Sarah to fail. And he feels..."

"Wrong." Sarah muttered, then looked at Jareth. "He hates us. All of us, not just me. I think he despises Arthur and Gwenny as much as you and I...He feels malignant."

Jareth frowned, settling into a chair close to his lady and glanced towards Arthur. "He wasn't always like this."

Arthur nodded wearily. "Jareth and he trained together here, under Caledonensis, as well as myself. Lance's sister and a cousin of his immigrated to the Above years ago, and that should have put him in direct line for his father's throne. He was a favorite, however he was arrogant, vain, and had a few personality problems which left him ill suited to rule. His father by passed him and put a distant cousin in charge."

Sarah frowned a bit, looking at them.

"I suppose he blames me for his own problems. He was offered a position in the high court and he jumped on it, rubbed it into my face for days, as I had not been offered a position of such 'prestige'." Jareth rubbed his neck, frowning deeply. "Then, I was offered not one, but three kingships. Lance was furious. He was a bit older than I, and naturally he claimed that he should have been offered first pick of the kingdoms. It came as little consolation that I took the Goblin Kingdom, rather than one of the ones closer to the court."

Guenevere's eyes lowered. "There is something going on with these trials that is bothersome. I believe that Lance is involved. There is greed and envy in his eyes. I do not know how interfering with Sarah and the trials would help him achieve his desires, however-"

"Because if I'm out of the way, Jareth would be left to take whichever woman was left that wanted him, and no doubt they've got someone primed and ready to slide into that particular slot..." She glanced towards Jareth. "Alura." She pointed out. Surprise on his face, and then understanding. His jaw clenched a bit. "There's something else I've noticed. It bothered me when I first met them, but when Morgaine isn't in Alura's presence, she feels...different. Confused, troubled. I...I want to speak to your mother before the next trial, just to test my theory."

Jareth frowned deeply. "You'll go with your knights?"

She nodded. "Yes."

He sighed, massaging his temples. "This whole situation is turning into a quagmire of intrigue. This is why I avoided any of the courts close to the high court. Too many power hungry idiots. Life is much simpler when all you've got to worry about is who stole whose chicken."

The picture caused a chuckle to leave Sarah, and the sound broke the tension in the room, drawing laughter from the others there.


It was cold, dark in the tower. The blanket she'd been spared was tattered, scratchy. Her body ached from sleeping on the cold, dark floor of the tower, in the little hay bed that she'd been allotted. In that tower, she was isolated from the world. The only fresh air came from the small holes in the wall, only large enough that she might peer through, too small for her to attempt to end her life prematurely.

It smelled disgusting, and she wondered how many people had died in the this particular spire, wondered if that, too, was her own fate. The smell of waste never quite seemed to leave the air, and the hay and blanket which were her only comforts were saturated with the smell also.

There was a knock on the wooden door and she lifted her face to it. "Yes?" She asked wearily.

"You've a visitor!"

By now she was used to being snapped at by the guards. She lifted her face to the door as it opened and a young woman with dark hair and fiery green eyes entered. The woman was dressed in a flowing gown of lavender, and her hair was twisted into an easy braid. "Hello, Morgaine."

She hissed at the woman when she realized who she looked at. This was the girl who'd hurt her son! She should just-

Sarah gestured to someone else outside the tower room, and a squat dwarf entered, swept out the hay and took the blanket. Then, a great hairy beast brought in a mattress and pillow. Behind him was a small fox goblin holding some thick bedding. The woman-child stepped from the room for a moment and spoke to the guard in a cross voice.

"That is highly irregular!"

"That room reeks! I don't care what she did to me, she's still the mother of a king! This is unacceptable! How will you explain this to the Goblin King if his mother takes ill and dies? Or will you shovel the blame off on something else?"

There was some muttering, and Sarah was in front of her once again. She unlocked the shackles which held her and offered her a hand.

Morgaine could do nothing but look at her in confusion. "Why?"

"Because you were defending your son. At least at first. Before this is over, I'll make sure that you know the whole story. For now, let's take a walk in the garden. You need to stretch your legs."

Slowly, she set her hand onto the girls, letting herself be helped to her feet and led out of the disgusting room. As soon as they were out, several maids poured into the room. They walked through the halls, and the girl beside her ignored the shocked murmurs, the objections. Once they were out in the quiet of the garden, the girl seemed to relax, those three companions of hers hanging back a bit, giving them some privacy.

"I tried to kill you."

Sarah turned towards her, a placid smile on her lips. "You failed to kill me." She sat on a stone bench, seeming to ponder something. "I don't expect you to like me. From what Jareth has said, you felt the pain I caused him six years ago and rushed to his side. So I wont ask you why you did it. What I want to ask is this, when you created the illusion to put me in his room, was that just you? Or is someone influencing you?"

Morgaine felt something brush that idea aside and she snarled viciously. The girl didn't even flinch. "What does it matter? He was angry, and then something happened and you left him again! You don't deserve-"

"I know." She looked at the grass beneath her feet. "I know I don't deserve his love, but he does love me. I love him as well. And we've been blessed, Lady Morgaine." She lifted her eyes, looking at the woman. "I am pregnant with his children. You will be a grandmother, Lady."

Shock and awe warred within her and she looked at this green eyed woman who stared back at her, her brain connecting the words until they had meaning. "Twins...?"

Lips curled into a warm smile. "Yes." She lowered her gaze for a moment. "Are you interfering in the tasks I'm performing? Are these challenges your last slice of revenge against me?"

The answer rose to her lips and Morgaine suppressed it, frightened. "I don't...know."

Green eyes sharpened upon her and saw too much. "You were compromised...When?"

"I don't know."

Sarah closed her eyes, nodded. "I understand. Would you like to stay outside awhile longer? Or return to the tower?"

She'd have to go there eventually, regardless. She wasn't going to spit on this kindness and seal herself up into that hateful room again. So she sat down on the bench besides the girl and frowned, realizing that somehow this girl must have bewitched her as well. Not using magic, but with the same method she'd done so with everyone, everything else. Simply by being herself, by being kind.

Sarah turned towards her, a faint smile on her lips. "Would you like to hear a story?"

Morgaine considered it for a moment and then, with a very small smile, she nodded. "That sounds agreeable."


That night, Sarah told Jareth of her conversation with Morgaine, and Jareth's expression saddened a bit. They ate dinner together, she took her medication, and by the time he slipped into her bed beside her, she was already mostly asleep.

The next day, they got cleaned up, and Sarah noticed he couldn't seem to stop touching her stomach, the same place she'd rested his hands the day before. It was as though the knowledge that his children were growing inside her still amazed him. She, again, dressed in a loose shirt, a the leather jerkin, and some sturdy jeans. This she included her walking boots, and slipped her medication into the bag.

Just before they entered the court, Jareth put his lips near her ear. "I know you feel you must do this yourself, but do not forget, those are our children inside you, and I will be most perturbed if anything should happen to you or them. I'm not above going to the Underworld to yell at you, precious."

She laughed softly, turning her face and softly kissing his jaw. "I know." His hands tightened ever so slightly on her arms and then he released her. When after he'd left her, Hoggle arrived with the heavy pack and she slipped it on. Before she entered, he tugged on her sleeve and gestured for her to lean down.

"Jareth says there's been someone messing with your challenges. I put in a little something extra just in case. Just for protection." He released her and when the others arrived, they headed in first. Then, Sarah entered, trying to maintain her calm.

The circle of people was less intimidating than the first time, but now she knew that one of these people was trying to foil her attempt to enter the Underground. She saw Lance glaring down at her, an expression of disdain on his face, and then saw Jareth with that same anxiety that he thought he hid from her so well. Arthur, too, had a look of worry that was echoed by the high queen. "Lady Sarah of the Above, are you prepared for the third trial?"

She smiled faintly at him and nodded. "I am."

The third crystal was brought forward and Arthur sucked in a breath after viewing it. He glanced towards Jareth, who gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head. Those blue eyes returned to her and she swallowed hard. "I would not ask any mortal to undergo this trial, but since it is before this court, I have no choice. You are determined to take it, regardless."

She nodded once again. "Yes."

A gusty sigh. "Very well. To the north is a series of falls. The source of these falls is a well spring inside the mountain. The source is guarded by two dragons, among other creatures." A deep breath. "You are to go collect a sample from the well spring."

Sarah frowned faintly. This had a different feel than the previous missions. She wouldn't know, however until she tried. "Very well." She bowed slightly, then headed out. She accepted the map from Hoggle, gave each of them a goodbye kiss, and was surprised to find Jareth waiting for her near the entrance.

He looked at her for a long time, then leaned down, kissing her lips gently. "Return safely, precious...and don't forget, perhaps you can't ask for help, but that doesn't mean you can't accept it when it's offered." He winked at her, then headed into the castle, leaving her alone to chew on that tidbit.

Again, the trip was long, and she found that carrying the back on her shoulders caused it to jostle rather uncomfortably against her bruised back. She sucked it up, and kept walking, until she reached her destination.

Then, she stopped, dumbstruck.

She stared down the face of the cliff and scowled, letting the pack drop from her shoulders. Far below, she could hear the crash of the waterfall. "You have got to be kidding me."

Of Cupid and Psyche

A Labyrinth Story
by Chibi-no-oneesan

Part 13 of 16

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