Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 13 of 24

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The Way Back

He hadn't answered her question. Sarah's mind buzzed impatiently with that thought, while still in the circle of Jareth's arms. She mentally berated herself for being so petty. Obviously, Jareth had some deep-seated issues here and she couldn't get past the fact that he hadn't reassured her fanciful childish imaginings of romance.

Sarah opened her eyes and looked over Jareth's shoulder, stifling a gasp. The sun was along the horizon once again, painting the sky and clouds in pale orange and pink. How long had they been there? It seemed to Sarah that she had only shut her eyes a moment ago.

Jareth stirred in her arms, lifting his head from her shoulder, but still looking downwards. She gripped his arms and tried to duck her head to see his face. He must have been thinking along the same lines as she, for his next words were far from where they had ended the conversation, apparently such a long time before.

"I realize now what I did wrong at the end of our Game, why you refused your dreams." Sarah's hands tightened involuntarily. It was now; he was going to tell her.

He paused again, searching for words, and she wished he would get on with it, the suspense was twisting her nerves into knots, soon they would snap from the strain. Sarah tried to reign in her impatience, what he was telling her would be important. This was the foundation of any relationship between them. His voice was quiet and Sarah couldn't tell in which direction he was going.

"I read them too closely. You did not fully understand your desires. I did not anticipate that."

Sarah knew he was right. Had it all been real, had he meant what he said, had she accepted his offer...the words ran through her mind, echoing a child's dreams,

Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave

...they were all things she would have done, even without realizing it. At fifteen, she hadn't understood that love was as painful and terrifying as it was wonderful. He had frightened her with the rawness of her own emotions.

He began again, his voice wavering every so often, and Sarah had to strain to hear him properly, "For years, I worried about you; what you were doing, how you were living, who you were loving. But I could not search you out, for fear of her wrath. I worried in silence, trying to rid you from my mind. I told myself you should no longer be my concern. If I allowed no one from the Underground near you, you would never be in danger from her. Then I saw you in the hedge, what she had done to you, and my thoughts were filled with you once again. Now, when I think about what happened, when I think about you," he lifted his head and she had to lean back quickly to prevent him from smacking her face with his skull.

Sarah clung to his arms, trying to regain her balance, but his next words set her reeling again, "I wished that, when I said those words, that I had meant them. And that I had said them properly."

Her eyes widened until they actually hurt and his bore into them, with all the intensity of a Fae's passion. Sarah had seen such passion before, it had terrified her then, but now she felt her own dormant passion awakening.

He placed a hand against her cheek, and as she leaned into it Jareth spoke again, low and more intense, a fierce whisper, "Oh, how you've turned my world, Sarah."

She felt a tear roll down her face and he brushed it tenderly away with his thumb. Countless emotions rose within her, so quickly she could not sort them out. Sarah raised her hand to his and clutched it tightly, letting out a quiet whimper.

"Shhh, love," he crooned, "the quest is over. You have your answer now."

Sarah sighed heavily, moving forward to lean her forehead against his chest, "But now that I have it, what do I do?"

She felt his soft laugh, "Well, let's not worry about that just now. How about we get some supper?" He must have only just noticed the time.

Sarah, still leaning into the Goblin King, closed her eyes in resignation. She knew Jareth was right. They had dealt with too much that day, and she didn't think she could take much more. She had her answer, and that was enough, for now.

Jareth led Sarah through the still corridors of the Castle Beyond the Goblin City. She was as silent as the halls, following the steady pull of his arm, looking at and seeing nothing. Jareth had not really expected much else from her. He knew Sarah was at her emotional limit, she had been through far too much in only a few days. He would take her to the library, and try to get her mind off things, if only for a little while.

Jareth looked back at the exhausted young woman and replayed the day's conversation. He had told her so much and now barely believed that she still wanted to associate with him. But there was a great deal more that he needed her to know. But how much could she take? What would be the final straw, the one thing about him that would drive her away? How long before he broke her, by accident or deliberately?

He must have made some sort of noise in his musings for Sarah's right hand moved to cover his own resting on her opposite arm. He turned to see her looking at him thoughtfully. She gave Jareth a melancholy smile and shook her head slightly, almost as if she knew the turmoil of his thoughts. Jareth looked away, slightly sheepish, knowing she was right. How could he distract Sarah from the overwhelming complexity of their situation if he could not keep his own thoughts from it?

Jareth searched his mind for something else to ponder as he again turned his eye to Sarah. He thought she was once again looking at nothing, but he noticed her eyes were cast downward, at her horribly scarred wrists. She moved to finger her mutilated flesh but Jareth was faster, gently knocking her hand aside and shaking his head when she looked up at him.

Sarah rolled her lovely eyes upward and let out an unladylike snort of derision, "What a fine pair we make, Goblin King."

Jareth started slightly at her use of his title but flashed an answering smirk. Sarah let loose another of her silvery laughs in response, although it was not as blithe as earlier, and clasped both hands in the crook of his arm.

She leaned towards him and rested her head against his shoulder, "Where are you taking me now?"

Promptly, they arrived at the library door and Jareth stepped in front of it, putting his hands behind his back, grasping the bronze door handle. "Nadia told me you wanted to see the library, before your little side trip last night."

She lifted her head and gave him a huge smile, revealing her anticipation "Yeah, I did."

Jareth's spirit soared that he could incite such a response from the so recently abused woman but he sobered slightly as he spoke again, "I am warning you, it's probably not what you are expecting."

She gave him an appraising look, but pitched her voice low, a note away from bitterness, "I have learned that nothing in the Underground is what I was expecting."

Jareth let her statement drop, like a heavy stone in water, not knowing how to respond. He would not snap back at her with a snide apology for not meeting her high standards. The Underground should have been as she wanted, would have been far better for it. He should have been as she thought him to be, it would have been easier on them both.

She seemed to realize what it was she had just said and opened her mouth; he could see the apology ready on her tongue. Jareth turned the handle and pushed open the door before she could speak and with a twist of his wrist the curtains were drawn, flooding the dusk filtered light into the chamber.

It was not a large space, by castle standards anyway. Modest two storey walls and an arched ceiling confined the rectangular room, giving the space a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere that was often lacking in the other rooms of Jareth's domain. Books were shelved along every corner of the walls, even around the windows. There was also a fireplace with a chimney that ran up to the ceiling, encased in stones of earthy grey-brown granite. The carpeting and furniture were inspired by a nineteenth century smoking room into which Jareth had once been summoned. There were large leather upholstered chairs and sofa clustered around the fireplace and inserted in a few corners of the room as well as lavishly cushioned seats under each of the tall and narrow windows. The entire effect was a comfortable, if slightly dusty, well lived in and well loved chamber.

Jareth took this all in inside of a moment and he smiled when he heard Sarah's small intake of breath, he could tell she liked it. He pulled a crystal and summoned a small dining table, complete with plates of steaming food, to the center of the room, and Sarah gasped again. Jareth thought if he could just keep her safe and happy, it would be enough.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 13 of 24

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