Continuing Tales


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 15 of 40

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He tapped lightly on the door and waited patiently for her to bid him to enter. The only thing that greeted him was silence. Jareth waited a few moments, his previously pleasant mood faded with each passing minute. He raised his hand to the old oak door and tapped again. He frowned as silence met his ears for a second time. A feeling of dread began to wash over him. What if something was wrong and Sarah could not respond to him? What if her awakening had merely been a lull in her sickness and she was lying helpless on the floor? His heart began to pound loudly in his chest as more and more worst case scenarios filled his mind. He reached for the handle of the door and turned it urgently. The door creaked open and he slipped in silently, closing the door behind him.

"Sarah?" He couldn't keep the worry out of his voice. He should not have left her! The room was deathly silent except for the erratic beating of his heart, which to him was deafening. He walked quickly to the bed and feared what he would find. Sarah was curled up amongst the blankets, her dark hair spread out on the cream colored pillow. He let out a shuddering sigh of relief. She was sleeping.

Jareth tried to still his racing heart. He knew he should not be allowing himself to worry so much about her. He was helping her because her friend had asked him to and because he was the only one who could. He could not afford to feel anything for this woman or all would be lost.

Two perfect crystal spheres appeared in his leather encased hands. They became bubbles at his will and he sent them in the direction of the bedside table. The bubbles popped one at a time on the old oak and in their place was two trays. Steam rose from the hot bowls of soup and the freshly baked bread smelled wonderful as the scent reached his nose. He realized that he was starving, but he would not eat until she was awake. They would eat together as he had agreed.

Sarah rolled over in her sleep, facing him now. It was then that he noticed the slight trembling to her form. He frowned and leaned over the bed, allowing his lips to barely touch her forehead. Her skin was still very warm. Much too warm for his liking. The damned fever was being persistent. She was not deathly ill, but she was also not well.

She looked so peaceful as she slept and he couldn't deny himself a look at her. In her sleep the blankets had bunched at her waist. He allowed himself to gaze at her, the flimsy nightgown not doing much to hide her feminine form from his greedy eyes. He watched the slight rise and fall of her chest as she took in and let out each breath. His eyes trailed up her chest to her neck and then her face. Her dark hair framed her creamy complexion. A sudden desire to touch her overcame him and he allowed himself to attempt it. He slipped one glove from his hand and reached out, letting her hair slide effortlessly though his fingers. Her hair reminded him of the softest silk. He reached out to move some of the stray strands out of her eyes, and slowly brushed the hair away and back behind her ears. His fingertips gently grazed over her smooth skin.

Sarah's eyelids fluttered unexpectedly and Jareth staggered backwards, nearly falling into the chair he had left beside the bed.

Sarah opened her eyes and stared directly at him. He looked startled but she soon forgot his expression when a wonderful smell drifted toward her. She smiled faintly when she saw the trays of steaming soup on the table. He had kept his word, he had returned with soup for them both.

Sarah allowed her eyes to roam over the Goblin King's lithe form as he sat himself slowly in the chair beside her bed. She noticed that he had changed out of his white poet's shirt and was dressed completely in black. The shirt was of the same style as the white one, with a long ruffly collar and a very low neckline that exposed his pale chest. His hair looked neater and he looked a little more rested.

"I didn't expect to fall asleep." She told him rubbing her eyes.

"It was good that you did." He told her softly. "You need as much rest as you can possibly get. I hope I didn't wake you." She shook her head and Jareth breathed a sigh of relief. It didn't seem as if she knew about the little feast he had allowed his eyes to have. He swore to himself that he would not do it again. "Are you hungry?"

"A little."

"Just a little?" He raised a brow. She had not eaten for nearly 3 days and she was only a little hungry? He frowned at this. It meant that she was still not well.

She nodded. "But I'm thirsty."

"Yes, you must be. And it's important that you drink a lot of liquids."

Sarah smiled weakly as she watched him reach for a large mug on one of the trays. She believed that she might come to like this side of Jareth. His concern warmed her. Her thoughts were broken as he held the mug and started to bring it to her lips.

She frowned when she saw the contents. "Ick, what is that?" She glanced distastefully at the greenish liquid. Not only did it look disgusting, it smelled equally disgusting as well. It looked like something that could have very well come from the Bog of Eternal Stench.

Jareth knew she was not going to make things easy for him. "I know it doesn't look very appetizing and I can't claim that it tastes wonderful, but it will help to make you feel better." He brought the mug closer to her lips and she turned her head away. He sighed. "Please, Sarah. Drink it."

"Not until you tell me what *it * is." Had he just said, please?

"It is a combination of different roots and herbs found within the Labyrinth. I assure you, it won't harm you. Trust me."

Trust him, eh? His words brought her back to the day that he had appeared in her apartment after she had wished to see her friends and him again. He had offered his hand to her for their journey back to the Labyrinth. She had not taken it and she had not trusted him either. She discovered that she still didn't trust him. Yet she found herself *wanting * to trust him. He had cared for her when she was very sick. One side of her argued that he had done so because no one else was in a position to help her without getting sick themselves. But the other side of her told her to take a better look at him. She looked into his face noticing the faint lines around his eyes. He had appeared rested at first site, but now she wasn't so sure. His eyes looked tired. She came to the realization that he may have been the only one to care for her, but he had sacrificed both sleep and meals to remain by her side.

Sarah looked at the mug and then into Jareth's eyes and nodded slowly. He said nothing, but he did seem pleased that he didn't have to force her to drink. He brought the rim of the cup to her lips and gently tipped the mug up. The liquid filled her mouth and Sarah's eyes widened.

He pulled the cup away noticing that she still held the liquid in her mouth. "Swallow it." He ordered and she shook her head. " The taste will pass once the liquid has left your mouth." He offered a little more gently.

She swallowed quickly and nearly gagged. "That was the most horrible thing I've ever tasted!" She cried out.

He grinned. "It was created to help you feel better, not to taste good."

She swallowed a few times to make sure the last of it had left her mouth, but she found once she had swallowed it, the taste was gone, just as Jareth had said. Moments later she could hardly recall what it tasted like. Jareth lifted the mug to her lips again and Sarah shook her head. "No, no more." She told him.

"Only a little more. Don't act like a child or I'll have to treat you like one." He grinned wickedly.

"I'm not acting like a child." She defended.

The pout on her face brought Jareth back to the time when Sarah was 15 years old. He grinned and found that he enjoyed teasing her. "Yes you are. Now drink it." He tipped the mug up again and this time she took a big sip. She nearly gagged on the taste yet again and she didn't bother to hide her relief as he set the horrible drink back on the tray. "See, now that wasn't so terrible, was it?"

"I'm dying from the taste." She joked.

Jareth frowned. "That isn't amusing, Sarah."

Jareth sat back in his chair and Sarah decided to change the subject. Her joke had obviously bothered the Goblin King. "Have you eaten yet?"

He shook his head, his wild blond mane dancing around his face. The way the sun reflected off of a nearby mirror, bathing the room in light, made his hair appear golden. She had never taken the time to realize how handsome he really was. She glanced over him quickly before locking her eyes with his. "No, I have not eaten." He told her quietly.

"Why not?"

" I agreed to eat with you and you were sleeping so I waited."

Her brows furrowed. "You could have eaten, you didn't have to wait for me." She knew how hungry he was. His stomach had been growling earlier that morning. Judging by the sun's position, it was after noontime, which meant that he had missed yet another meal on her account. "We should eat before the soup gets cold." She told him. He nodded not seeming too worried about the situation.

"Can you sit up on your own?" He asked her.

"I think so." She tried twice before slumping back down. "Okay, maybe not."

"Let me help you." He rose from his chair and slowly hooked his hands beneath her arms. Gently he pulled her up. The contact sent Sarah's head spinning. One of his hands was not gloved for some strange reason and she could feel the warmth of his skin against her side. The warmth of his body so close to hers and his scent, something like cinnamon and spices made her feel lightheaded.

"There you are." Jareth whispered softly. His voice was low and seductive sounding and he cursed for not being able to hide his emotions. He leaned her against the oak bed board and moved his hands away from her as quickly as he could without making himself look suspicious. His bare hand tingled and he put it behind his back. Sarah smiled her thanks weakly.

Moments later Jareth set one of the trays over her legs carefully so he would not spill the hot soup on her. Sarah blinked wondering if she was going crazy. She could have sworn that one of Jareth's hands had been bare, yet now both were gloved. Her attention swayed and Sarah noticed that the glass on her tray contained water and not that horrible drink.

She watched as Jareth set himself down in the chair and began to eat. His movements were graceful. Sarah found that she could not keep her eyes off of him. She had never watched him before, not seriously. In the past whenever she saw him it was through angry, bitter eyes. But now she didn't see him that way. She noticed things about him that she had never noticed before. He had a gentle side to him, a caring side.

Jareth sensed her intense gaze and he met it. Sarah lowered her eyes from him, feeling ashamed. She had been staring at him so openly. "Is the soup too hot?" He asked her.

"I.I haven't tasted it yet." Damn, her honesty. She was sure that he would make some smart remark at her, but as the moments passed, it never came.

"It's going to get cold if you let it sit too long."

He went back to his meal and she watched as he ate. He had manners, unlike his goblins. He didn't lick his fingers, he didn't belch, he didn't get food all over himself and the table. He was not like any other man she knew. Not even Dartaynian had such manners, such etiquette. Dart pulled at roasts with his bare hands, sending meat and dressings out in all directions like some sort of barbarian. Sarah realized shamefully that she had not thought much about Dartaynian. Her thoughts seemed to drift toward the Goblin King and that alarmed her. She had not seen Dartaynian since he had left for business. Did he know that she was ill? Did he care?

Sarah reached slowly for her spoon. "Why hasn't Dartaynian come to see me?" She asked quietly.

The question shattered the silence like a shrill scream and Jareth felt his spirits sink. He knew that Sarah would ask about Dartaynian eventually, he just had hoped not so soon. He didn't want her to know Dart's reason for not being present because it would hurt her. Nor did he want to lie to her. Jareth realized to his horror that he cared a great deal for Sarah. More than he should have and already he wanted to insure that nothing would harm her. He felt protective of her and that was a very bad sign.

Sarah's unsteady hand brought the spoon to her lips as she awaited Jareth's response. She was so weak that she couldn't hold it properly in her fingers and it slipped just before it made it to her mouth. The spoon hit the bowl, which tipped sending hot soup all over the tray and Sarah. She cried out in alarm.

Jareth was on his feet in an instant, his previous thoughts forgotten as his attention quickly turned to Sarah. "Are you all right?"

"The soup is definitely too hot." She told him. She smirked as she said this and Jareth sighed, realizing that she was all right.

"Let's get this cleaned up, hmm?" He carefully lifted the tray and dishes and placed them on the table.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. It was an accident. We're just lucky that the soup was not any hotter or you would have been scorched." Jareth realized that the soup had spilled more on the blankets than it had on the tray which meant that Sarah had spilled a great deal of soup on herself. He pealed the blankets back and away from Sarah's form carefully. Her lap and her legs were soaked with the broth of the soup.

Sarah gasped as one of Jareth's hands slid under her knees and the other steadied her behind her back. He lifted her carefully from the bed and into his arms. "We'll have to get you changed. We can't have you wearing soggy clothes." Sarah blushed bright red at the thought of him dressing her. Jareth seemed oblivious to her nervousness. "Do you have another nightgown?"

"I. It's ok. I can get it myself and change." She told him.

"Sarah, you are so weak that you can barely hold a spoon." He didn't seem to be paying direct attention to her. He was looking around the room trying to think where the nightgown might be.

"It's ok, I can do it." She insisted.

Jareth focused his attention on her and noticed that her face was flushed. He suddenly realized why she was being persistent. He grinned wickedly. "Where is the nightgown?"

She realized that he wasn't going to give up. "The-the bottom drawer." She stammered.

He dropped to one knee while carefully balancing her in his arms. He opened the drawer and pulled out a long blue nightgown. He stood and she buried her face into his shoulder squeezing her eyes shut. Jareth realized to his horror that she was afraid of him! What kind of a monster did she believe him to be?

"There you are, Sarah." He said softly.

She raised her head slowly and saw that the gown was no longer in her hands. She looked up at him with confusion. He looked concerned. She glanced down and saw that she was now dressed in the blue nightgown. He had used his magic! She let out a shuddering sigh of relief.

"You thought.?" He didn't finish the sentence.

"I forgot about your magic.I."

"You were frightened of me." His expression was one of hurt and it made Sarah feel guilty. "Sarah, I would never hurt you..ever." His voice was soft and Sarah closed her eyes. "I fear that where I intended to bring you, will not be a good idea."

Sarah opened her eyes and looked up at him. "I don't understand. What do you mean?"

"There are no spare sheets and blankets in the room I can't dress your bed. The goblins will have to wash the sheets by hand and put them out to dry."

"Why don't you just use your magic?" Sarah asked confused.

"I can't always create something from nothing. Illusions, glamour perhaps, but material things I must have nearby."

"You can't just create sheets and blankets out of thin air?"

"I could, but it wouldn't do well to have you catch cold in the middle of the night after the magic wore off. Magic is well for certain things. I am quite powerful and can do a lot with mine, yet there are certain things that magic just doesn't work well for. Food, clothing and bed sheets are among them. It will take the goblins a while to wash the sheets and for them to dry."

"So what happens to me in the meantime? Can I stay with Lee?"

Jareth shook his head. "I'm afraid not. You're still not well, Sarah."

She frowned. "So what happens to me then?"

Jareth looked hesitant. Sarah was not used to seeing this side of him. Her fear of him had bothered him. She was certain of it. She moved closer to him to show him that she did trust him somewhat and she felt a stream of emotions shoot through her. Fear, guilt, worry, concern and an emotion she could not comprehend. The only way she could describe the unnamed emotion, was warmth.

The feelings startled her as she had no idea where they were coming from, but she wanted Jareth to know that she did trust him to a certain extent. "Take me there." She ordered softly and she lowered her head onto her shoulder.

He hesitated again and this bothered Sarah. Twice he had hesitated in less then 10 minutes. She sensed something was wrong with him.

Jareth finally nodded and he and Sarah disappeared from the room in a shower of glitter.

"Aw, rats!" Lee cried out. She had enjoyed watching the soap opera playing out in front of her. Ah well, there were other things for her to do.

Sarah's eyes focused on their whereabouts and she gasped. She shook her head and held onto Jareth tightly. She had not expected her to bring her here. She had expected a guestroom, yet here they stood in what appeared to be Jareth's bedroom.

Jareth sensed her nervousness and her fear long before she had gripped his shirt in her fists. He should not have brought her here, not so soon. His room was frightening as it was and the fact that she was in unfamiliar territory, his territory might lead her to believe that he would try to take advantage of her. "It's only temporary. I promise you." She didn't seem to be listening. "I may not be many things, Sarah. But one thing I am is a gentleman, even if you don't want to believe that. You are here to rest, nothing more."

She glanced up at him and nodded slowly. The room was quite a bit darker than her room and the theme was dark as well. Paintings of strange creatures lined the walls. Dark colored tapestries hung from the ceiling, and the Goblin King's large bed was dressed in black sheets and blankets. What had she expected? Pink bunnies?

Jareth moved toward the bed and pulled down the blankets and sheets before lowering Sarah carefully down onto the mattress. He felt a warmth spread through him as he looked at her, but he forced himself to ignore it. "I will see to it that your sheets and blankets are washed and returned to your room quickly. I will also return with more soup. You need to eat."

She nodded but her attention was focused elsewhere. Her eyes focused on his chest and Jareth gazed at her curiously. Her gaze did not waver and he wondered what she found so interesting. His gaze dropped slowly and he realized what suddenly fascinated her. His pendant was glowing softly. He practically growled as his eyes focused on the amber light.

"Why does it glow like that?" Sarah asked quietly. She looked like an innocent child as she gazed at it wide eyed.

"Because it does." He snapped suddenly irritated.

'But why? I've never seen it glow before." She reached out a hand to touch the pendant detecting a warmth the closer her hand inched. Jareth intercepted and grabbed her wrist a little more harshly than he had meant to. She frowned at him and pulled her hand to her chest once he had let go. Jareth cursed for being too rough with her.

"Why can't I touch it?" She didn't seem angry with him, but confused. It was only a piece of jewelry. What was the big deal?

"Because you can't." He snapped again offering her no further information. He reached for the pendant and hid it under the folds of his black poet's shirt and away from her innocent wide eyes.

Her eyes focused on his face and she noticed that he would not look her in the eyes, no matter how intently she stared at him. It dawned on her that he was unnerved.

"I will back in a short time to return you to your own room. Rest until then." He ordered. He didn't give her a chance to respond. He quickly left the room and closed the door loudly behind him.

Sarah frowned and gazed at the closed door. What had that been all about? She pulled her hand away from her chest where she had been clenching it and noticed that the warmth she had detected from the pendant was still there. Her palm and fingers tingled with what felt like energy. She wiggled her fingers and moments later the sensation was gone. Her brows furrowed.

"How strange."


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 15 of 40

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