Continuing Tales


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 13 of 40

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Though her skin burned like the dangerous heat of a wildfire, she shivered uncontrollably. Pain stabbed her frail body and horrible dreams tried to rob her of her sanity. She cried at night, missing her mother. She threw tantrums at the birth of her step brother. She watched David waltz comfortably into Jenny's arms over and over and over again.

Despite the nightmares she felt glimpses of peace. Gentle hands caressed her face, her hair. Soft words were whispered into her ears, encouraging her to hold on. It was that comfort alone that willed her to live.

Night merged into day and she was never aware of it. All she knew was the pain that attacked her, the illusions that confused her and the soft touch of someone who had great concern for her life.

* * *

Lee groaned as she awakened. Her face stung from leaning against the door all night. She was certain she would have a permanent imprint of the designs from the door on her cheek. She wasted no time peering through the space in the doorframe. Jareth had shifted positions and he had placed Sarah back on the bed. He was leaning over the bed and dabbing Sarah's face with a cool damp cloth. Lee noticed that his usually wild energetic hair looked limp, much like the proud king's posture. He looked exhausted from only one night.

There was a tap on Sarah's door and Jareth stirred, rising and leaving Sarah's side for the first time since he had come into contact with her. He opened the door and greeted Hoggle coolly.

"Ye. ye sent fer me?" Hoggle stammered.

Jareth nodded. "I want you to travel to Dartaynian's castle and give him a message."

Hoggle nodded.

"He has not responded to a letter I had sent to him. I need someone that I can trust.partially," he spat. "To deliver an important message."

"What is it? I ain't got all day." The dwarf grumbled.

"You have eternity, if I desire it." Jareth glanced back at Sarah with pain in his mismatched eyes. Hoggle followed his gaze and gasped. Jareth watched the dwarf's reaction. "She is very ill, Hoggle." The dwarf didn't catch the fear in the King's eyes. Nor did he see the hurt that replaced it as Jareth spoke his next words. "She would want Dartaynian here to take care of her, not me."

"You want me to fetch him? Bring him 'ere?"

Jareth nodded slowly, his eyes falling upon Sarah's shifting form. She was dreaming again. "Yes, tell him that Sarah is ill and that she wishes for his company."

Hoggle nodded and when silence formed, the dwarf took his cue to leave.

Jareth sighed and ran his gloved fingers through his hair. Feelings stirred within him as he gazed at the sickly but beautiful mortal whom lay a few feet from him. Feelings he should not have been feeling. He cursed aloud and forced them away. What good was it to desire what could never be his? Damn his persistent heart. Dartaynian would arrive by afternoon and he could go back to his own chambers. He could lock himself in the darkest corner he could find and lock his feelings away as well. A fate much worse than death would await him should his feelings be found.

Sarah was crying softly, though she was still unconscious, and the sound tore at Jareth's heart. She was vulnerable and in pain.

"Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me there was someone else! Why did you lead me on?" She sobbed.

Jareth frowned as she spoke. He ran a gloved hand over her forehead and she stilled for a moment before sobbing again. His heart felt as if it was ripping in his chest. He cursed everything he could think of. He continued to try and soothe her, running his fingers through her sweat dampened hair. He tried to still the tremors that shook her body. He tried to push the demons of her past away as they fought to reclaim ground. He sat and tried to comfort her as he waited for Dartaynian to appear and take his place.

Lee watched as the hours passed and Jareth remained by Sarah's side. The Goblin King refused to eat. He sent any food brought to him away and remained faithfully by Sarah's side. By nightfall as Sarah lay sleeping quietly, he paced. Hoggle nor Dartaynian had returned. What if they had encountered trouble along the way? Had Hoggle made it to Tabor Castle or had his cowardice deterred him.?

As the room grew darker, a wave of one hand lit the candles and created a roaring fire. Much later, the door creaked open and Hoggle stepped in. Jareth prepared to rise from his seat along side Sarah but Hoggle's grim face stopped him.

"He ain't comin'" Hoggle told him.

"And why not?" Jareth shot back angrily.

"He said he's too busy and that Sarah won't mind if you take care of 'er."

"Too busy?!" Jareth roared. "Did you tell him how ill she is? That she may die?"

Hoggle nodded. "I was told that he was too busy. That you could handle it. You can handle things, can't ya?"

'Of course I can, but that's beside the point. Dartaynian courts her, yet he does not accept the responsibilities that go hand in hand with courting." Sarah, who had finally settled, stirred against Jareth and pressed her face into the warmth and comfort of his chest. She clutched the fabric of his shirt into her trembling hands.

"She seems ok with you takin' care of 'er." Hoggle noticed, watching Sarah's actions.

"I don't think she realizes that it's me. She'd probably be furious if she knew. What was so damned important that he couldn't come here?" Jareth demanded.

Hoggle lowered his head.

"Tell me, Higgle."

"I wasn't allowed to see him personally. They relayed me message to 'im and his to me. But I believe he was too busy because he was entertaining."

Had Sarah not been in his arms, Jareth would have destroyed the bedside table in his rage. "Entertaining? The bastard can't come to his lady because he is entertaining?"

Hoggle nodded and shrank back as Jareth's face turned white with anger. Sarah nestled her face comfortably against his arm. .Jareth watched her, and with a heavy sigh his anger dissipated. "He doesn't deserve her." He said quietly to no one in particular. His heart ached as he looked at the woman curled in his arms. She found comfort there, but what would she find when she awakened. If she ever did?

"He don't."

"What was that?" Jareth snapped.

"I said 'He don't', yer Majesty."

Jareth nodded and put a protective arm over Sarah's shivering form. There was a chill in the night air and he wanted to protect her from it. "Your task is over. Return to your post."

"Beggin' yer pardon, but is the little lady gonna be all right?"

Jareth swept back dark damp locks of hair from Sarah's face. "I don't know."

Hoggle nodded numbly and left the room.

Sarah remained nestled in Jareth's arms for an hour. One of the Goblin King's arms had gone limp with the dead weight against him. He was glad to know that she was sleeping soundly for the time being. Her peace did not last long, however.

It didn't take long for whatever it was that disturbed her earlier to do so again. She tossed and turned in Jareth's arms. Occasionally clutching his arm or his shirt tightly in her hands. She cried out and fought imaginary demons. No magic he possessed could help her, only time could do such. Time and the hope that his touch would soothe her and will her to live.

The hours dragged on with little change. She tossed and turned against him every so often and he set himself to the task of calming her.

Her fever had returned with a vengeance and he was once again forced to dip her in the cool water of the tub and then wrap her in blankets. She didn't protest this time and that worried him. She was giving up. He sat her up in his arms, realizing that it had been a long time since she had eaten or drank anything. He filled a cup with cool water and tipped it so that the liquid filled her parched mouth.

He wished that Lee was the one taking care of her or even Dartaynian. No, he shook his head at that thought. Dartaynian did not deserve this woman, and his absence proved that. But had Dart appeared, nothing could have kept Jareth away from Sarah. Worry tore at him in ways it never had before. He felt helpless as she clutched him tightly. Helpless as her dreams tormented her. As her own illusions seemed real to her and she cried out from their onslaught. He felt so bloody helpless.

The Goblin King did the only thing he could do. He held the mortal woman in his arms and protected her as best as he could.

* * *

Jareth welcomed the dawn as the sun's rays began to filter into Sarah's room. He was exhausted beyond belief. Sarah had had a rough night and he was exhausted from trying to protect her from hurting herself. He gazed down at the woman in his arms and realized that she was not shivering. He lowered his lips to her forehead and nearly cried out when he found that her fever had disappeared.

Sarah was still sleeping, but he was sure that she would be all right. She groaned groggily and her eye lids fluttered. Jareth nearly panicked. It amazed him how this mortal woman could throw him so off guard. How would she react to his presence?

Instead of opening her eyes she edged herself closer to him. He sighed as she fell asleep once again. She slept on through breakfast and lunch. Jareth was starving by this time and he could only imagine what his goblins had been up to in his absence. He sighed and gazed down at Sarah. Her eyes were open and she was staring at him curiously, her brows furrowed.

His heart began to pound his chest and he gave her a weak smile.

"Hello, Sarah."


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 13 of 40

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