Continuing Tales


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 18 of 40

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The first thing that Jareth noticed upon awakening, was warmth. The second thing he noticed was the feel of another body curled up against his own. Confusion washed over him. He usually slept alone in his bed, in fact he always slept alone, yet someone was definitely curled up against him!

His eyes flew open with a start and it was then that he realized that he was not in his own bed. He was the large spare guestroom of his castle. And his 'guest' Sarah, was pressed up against his chest, her face buried in his neck. The previous night's events swept through his mind and he remembered walking aimlessly around his castle. His wandering had brought him to Sarah's room and when she had cried out he had gone to her without even thinking.

He shifted slightly to get a better look at her and she reacted by moving closer to him. She was no doubt attracted to the warmth and the comfort of another body.

Sarah was a strange mortal. Her thoughts and actions were sometimes difficult to predict, a feature similar to himself. What surprised him the most was how much she had changed. Of course physically she had grown and changed over the course of 9 years. She was much more desirable, but to him it was not in the sense of physical lust, though that would become a part of things if she was ever to become his. She was more forgiving, less naïve, so much more charming. But the change over the years had not all been good. She was also very frightened. He knew that she wouldn't admit that to him openly, but he could see it in her eyes, her posture at times. He had seen it when he had first confronted her only two weeks earlier.

Something had happened to her, that had changed her outlook on life. Something had damaged her spirit and had left in its wake, a battered and bruised woman who was trying to understand who she really was. He longed to help her find herself again, but Dartaynian would never allow it and nor would his own heart. But he could still try. It was better to be her friend than nothing at all.

He sighed and brushed back the hair that had fallen in her face. Her eyes fluttered open. She did not move at first. She only stared at the wisps of fine blond hair that hung in her face. She didn't have blond hair.. what the? She pulled back as she realized she was pressed against a warm body. Her wide eyes settled on the Goblin King who was lying nonchalantly on her bed. What did one say to the Goblin King first thing in the morning?

Staring at him as he looked at her, she remembered her nightmares and how Jareth had suddenly appeared there beside her bed. And she had acted like some scared child, throwing herself at him like she had. Clinging to him for dear life. He had probably laughed at her after she had fallen asleep. Yet what was he still doing here? Lying in her bed with her no less!

"Good morning." His thick accented voice cut through the silence. He reached to brush back more hair that had fallen in her face (it was getting to be a bad habit of his) and she pulled further away from him. He frowned at her. "There is nothing to fear." He pulled his hand back to his side.

There was a lot to fear as far as Sarah was concerned. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she glanced over him. He had yet to move other than to reach for her with one hand. His hair nearly glowed in the morning sunlight. His shirt had fallen open and was wrinkled from her resting against him all night. She could see the pale skin of his chest that contrasted against his black shirt. She could see how his lean muscles moved as he took each breath. Her eyes fell lower to the gray tights that he wore. She blushed fiercely as her eyes fell lower still and finally she forced herself to look away from his lithe form. She couldn't deny how beautiful the man beside her was, no matter how hard she tried.

Jareth grinned as he watched her. He realized that she was looking him over, inspecting him and she had found him to be quite satisfactory. The blush on her face was clear evidence of that. Her innocence and blush because of her discovery, charmed him.

Most mortal women could not deny him. Young women who entered his Labyrinth tried to bargain with him when they lost. They'd offer to warm his bed, to be his mistress. He never gave into any of them of course. Even if their interest was true and not due to trying to take a child back. He enjoyed teasing them, baiting them and then denying them of what they wanted. Sarah's friend Lee had been no exception with the way she had fallen for him. But he was uninterested in playing games with Lee. He was interested in Sarah, yet he realized he did not want to toy with her. She was different than all the others. She had not thrown herself at him. In fact to his bitter disappointment she had never offered herself to him. She had defeated him and left him nursing his wounded pride and his heart. He loved how she became embarrassed easily when he looked at her. She was shy, innocent, sweet and so very beautiful. Qualities he found himself most drawn to.

He bit back the words, 'Like what you see?' as they surfaced in his mind. His intention was to grow close to her, to become her friend, not to frighten her away from him with his arrogance.

Time seemed to stand still as they gazed at each other. For the first time in his nearly immortal life Jareth felt the sexual and physical attraction that existed between them. It was so thick he would need a sword to chop through it. He knew that Sarah felt it as well and he was quite certain that is what frightened her. In a way it frightened him too. He often used seduction as a distraction to young women who dared to enter his Labyrinth. He toyed with their feelings and left them in an emotional tailspin. It felt very awkward to have the boot on the other foot now.

He moved gracefully away from her and rose to stand by her bed, smoothing his wrinkled shirt as he did so. The tension was too much for him, he needed space. "How do you feel this morning?" He asked her. Without thinking, he reached to touch her forehead and found it surprisingly cool. "Your fever has broken." He was astonished.

" has?" The tension was suddenly gone and was replaced instead with relief and also sadness.

"Yes." His voice was a whisper. "You will be able to see Lee now."

Sarah smiled. Oh how she had missed Lee's crazy antics, but what about Jareth? Would she see him again or would things go back to the way that they were? "What about you?" She blurted out.

He smiled sadly. "You will have little need of me now."

She shook her head. "Nonsense! I-" she suddenly didn't know what to say, what to think, what to feel.

He shook his head slowly. "You no longer need me. Lee, I'm sure will be more than happy to help you." His voice was a mere whisper.

Sarah frowned and took his words to mean the wrong thing. "You mean you don't want to help me anymore. You never wanted to in the first place, did you?" There was anger in her voice and tears stung her eyes. She had begun to believe that he might actually care for her.

Jareth shook his head again. "Sarah, I never said that." He really didn't wish to fight with her.

"You didn't have to!" She turned away from him, suddenly angry.

Jareth was ready to snip back at her and her sudden attitude but stopped when he saw the tears in her eyes. He suddenly understood her anger. She did not wish for him to stop helping her. The thought of that warmed his heart and gave him hope. He barely acknowledged the glowing pendant resting against his chest as he moved cautiously toward her.

"Sarah, I never said that I didn't want to help you." He started slowly. He sat himself on the edge of her bed. "I admit that I was taken back by Lee's request for me to help you. I didn't know what to do. You had made it very clear that you wanted nothing to do with me while you were here, so if I helped you I would be going against your wishes. But at the same time I saw the concern on Lee's face. I could not ignore that just as I could not ignore my own desire to help you."

Sarah turned to look at him, tears shining in her eyes. "You *wanted* to help me? After how I treated you?"

Jareth sighed and lowered his head. "I had hoped that things would be different for us this time. I had hoped that we could be civil with each other and more understanding."

Sarah's jaw dropped. She had not expected him to ever want to make peace with her. She had never really thought about what would happen if they met again. She didn't believe such a meeting would ever take place.

"I hoped that if I helped you and made you understand that I am not the villain this time.."

Sarah smiled through the tears that slowly trailed down her cheek. "What were you hoping?"

Jareth looked uncomfortable and he lowered his gaze from her for a moment. Did he dare tell her that he wanted the friendship like she had with the dwarf? The friendship he was so envious of because he felt it could never be his? He looked up at her cautiously. "I had hoped that we would become.friends." *And maybe more with time.*

There was no reaction from Sarah and then a smile spread across her face. A real smile, a genuine smile that made Jareth's heart leap in his throat. "Friends. I'd like that."



Jareth smiled and it made Sarah feel warm inside. Jareth was a handsome man and when he smiled it made him devastating to a woman's control over their emotions and feelings.

Jareth felt as if the weight of the entire underground had been lifted from his shoulders. They had come a long way in a little time. It was much more than he had hoped for. They still had a long way to go if he was ever to claim her as his Queen and there would be Dartaynian to deal with. But a friendship with her was a wonderful place to start and a wonderful place to stay if fate had arranged it that way.

"Perhaps we could all walk through the gardens this evening after dinner if you are feeling up to the task." He suggested.

Sarah nodded. "I'd like that. I feel much stronger today."

"Good. I shall inform Lee that she may see you." He leaned forward and brushed the tears from her face. He then stood, walked to the door and reached for the handle. Her voice stopped him from leaving.

"Will I see you today? I.I mean before dinner?" She smiled nervously as he turned to face her.

"I wish that I could say, yes. But my absence from the castle has not gone unnoticed by my goblins, unfortunately. I will need to spend the day getting things in order."

Sarah nodded but Jareth saw the disappointment in her eyes. He turned to leave again before the look in her eyes forced him to take her into his arms. He would have to be on his guard if he was her friend. He couldn't afford to let his emotions get the better of him or he would suffer cruelly.

Jareth?" She called. He turned once again and watched as she lowered her head and fidgeted nervously with her hair. "It's very possible that you.saved my life." She glanced up at him. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." He gave her a long stare, his eyes roaming and memorizing her form before he slowly opened the door and stepped out, closing it behind him. "You're quite welcome." he whispered to himself as he walked to Lee's door. He felt that he was in particularly generous mood today. After he talked with Lee, perhaps he wouldn't kick any goblins . Perhaps things would be different today.


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 18 of 40

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