Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 19 of 24

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The Way Back

Jareth pulled the distraught Sarah into his arms, utterly at a loss as she wept into his shoulder. He entreated anxiously, "Love, what's wrong? What happened?"

But she would only say "I'm sorry" and Jareth had absolutely no idea what to make of that. What, in the name of the Mother, could she be apologizing for? His head was still spinning from trying to sort through the strange experience he had just had. He could make no sense of either the occurrence or Sarah's perplexing reaction and the only thing he could do was hold her.

Jareth ran his hand over her hair, trying to soothe her, placing a kiss on the top of her head. He did the only other thing he could think of, he sang to her. It started out as a soft humming, but he soon broke into the words, "I'll paint you mornings of gold...I'll spin you Valentine evenings..." He heard her sobs quiet and to Jareth's subdued delight, began to quietly hum the tune along with him. He marveled that his song had stayed with her for so long.

It was an old song that his Mother had sung to him once. He had imbedded it in Sarah's dream on a whim. Jareth smiled; maybe his feelings had been showing themselves before even he understood them. He kept up the song, not wanting to break the tenuous calm, "Though we're strangers till now...we're choosing a path...between the stars..." He let her pull slightly away from him and raise her eyes to his own, they were red-rimmed, full of anguish and...something else. He sang on as she raised a hand to his cheek, brushing aside a stray strand of his hair, "I'll lay my love...between the the p--"

She broke him off with only a whisper, "Jareth, I love you."

His heart was full to bursting as he felt a blissful smile break over his countenance, but it died as he realized there was no joy in her eyes or her face. She leaned into his chest and his arms came securely around her once again, "Love, what's wrong? Tell me, please."

"I don't know how..." her voice cracked and her hand gripped his shirt tightly.

"Is it something I need to know?"

He felt the wetness of her tears as she let out a despairing whisper, "Yes."

He was about to question her further, to draw her answers out slowly when suddenly she pulled herself from his chest. She raised her arms and cradled his head, moving one hand to weave into his hair, drawing him into a fierce kiss. He was surprised as much as anything, but soon his desire for her took over and he lifted her further into lap, moving his hands to her waist and thigh. He was, for the moment, lost to all but his love.

Sarah had no idea what she was doing. All she knew was that she wanted to feel something else, anything other than the wrenching sorrow of her discovery. She wanted him to feel anything but the confusion and emptiness that must have consumed him for centuries...must still be within him now. She wanted him to feel her, she wanted to feel him.

But as she moved against him and he followed her lead heatedly, she felt something that she knew she should have anticipated. Her breath grew ragged and her anxiety began to rise as he unconsciously took control, her hasty plan was coming unraveled. Would she ever stop causing him pain?

Sarah let out a cry of frustration as she tore herself from his increasingly confining arms, "Fuck!" She turned away from him and fled across the path to lean against an immense mossy tree trunk.

She heard him sigh heavily and she cringed muttering into the tree, "God damn it...shit, shit, shit." It didn't really help to swear, but she found herself doing it anyway.

His voice traveled the distance between them achingly gently, he had no right being so nice to her. "Sarah...what...?" He obviously had no idea what to ask. She didn't blame him.

Sarah forced herself to turn around and face him. He was still sitting on the ground where she had left him, his face an almost comical mixture of concern and bewilderment, but Sarah didn't even smile, "I'm so sorry, Jareth...I didn't...I wanted to...but I just..." She couldn't find the words to explain to him, but he seemed to understand.

"Is that what you were upset about earlier?"

She wanted to laugh, if it only were. But instead she just shook her head.

"What was it?" He was being so patient. She wanted to cry again, she knew she didn't deserve it.

Sarah took a deep breath, trying to collect her thoughts, "After you...left the library, before Aidan and Nadia came in, I...had a conversation with a goblin."

"You had a conversation with a goblin..." he spoke flatly, not asking a question, as if he were trying to make sure that was what she had said.


"Sarah," he interrupted her, the disbelief plain on his face. "Goblins wander in groups and they are quite brainless. You could not have had a conversation with one goblin."

She looked long at him, trying to be as patient as he had been, "Jareth, if you don't let me get through this, I don't think I'll be able to." He pursed his lips and gave a short nod before she continued, "At the time, I was freaked out, you know, and he started saying some...strange things. At first they didn't really make sense to me, but now..."

"What did it say?"

"First he said that he was worried about you, that you were scared, and that...she hurt you. Then he said that she had you both." She noted how Jareth's eyes widened, and she thought she heard him mutter something, but forged ahead regardless, "He seemed to know so much about you and what was going on, so I tried to get some more information from him. I asked him...what you said...before you left...I asked him what else she took from you. H-he said that s-she made you forget the dream, that she made you forget me. Jareth, what if...the dreams that you lost..." She paused, perilously close to tears once again and she closed her eyes to prevent them from escaping.

A moment later when she opened them again, Jareth was right next to her, also leaning against the tree. She noticed he was close but not touching her, and she silently thanked him for his apparent unconscious consideration. He turned to her and lightly pressed an index finger to her lips as she opened them to complete her terrible theory. His face was contorted in a doleful mixture of pain and muted anger, "D-don't, Sarah." She looked at him questioningly and he elaborated in a harsh whisper, as if he could not summon up any more of a voice, "Maybe if you don't say won't be true. Maybe...if I don't believe it...then I'll still have them..."

She couldn't hold back her tears for him, "Jareth, I'm so sorry...all these years...all this time..." Unable to bear their even minimal distance any longer, she threw her arms around him, thinking with an inward groan that he would be soaked with her tears by sundown at the latest. She should be the one comforting him. He was the one who had had his dreams stolen from his mind.

"Shhhh love, don't cry." He spoke softly into her ear, his voice slightly quavering with uncertain emotions.

"I'm sorry," she moaned into the tangled blanket of his ivory hair.

She could feel his melancholy smile as he replied, "What have you done now?"

"You shouldn't have to be strong for me, Jareth. They're your bloody memories! I should be the one comforting you, and all I can do is sit here and bawl." She pulled slightly out of what had become an almost crushing embrace and looked down, her face full of self-loathing, "I feel utterly useless."

"Oh, love, you're not useless," his arms came about her again, and he rested his cheek against her hair. Jareth's lips were inches from her ear and as he spoke softly his words struck home, as if they pierced the very core of her being. "Don't cry, Sarah. It's alright, you're here now. I have you, not just dreams of you. I have you and nothing will keep me from being near you now. I love you." His words were accompanied by his warm breath, flowing over her, his scent of down and spices. Sarah felt the distress melt from her, he was right. They were together now, by whatever means, she had found him and she would not let him go.

Jareth kept a tight rein on his anger, not wanting to further upset Sarah. But he knew that this new revelation was adding fuel to what had become a slowly dying fire. Over the long centuries his hatred towards the Queen had dwindled, only returning with the annual visits he paid to the court. He had become complacent in his role of servant and prisoner. He remembered often feeling as if he was waiting for something. Now he knew what that something was. Jareth moved his hand to smooth his love's hair, not wanting to move from underneath the tree.

He looked over her shoulder and raised his eyes skyward to send a silent prayer of thanks to the Mother when he saw the raven. Jareth froze in Sarah's arms as his blood ran cold.

The raven, the favorite messenger of the Queen, the bearer of every the summons she had ever sent him, sat comfortably on a low branch directly across the path. The unnatural bird's ebony feathers shone in the approaching dusk with an immaculate sheen, for the Queen kept nothing near her that was unclean, except her dungeons and her prisoners. Its eyes were also unnatural, an arctic blue, like the Queen's own. The foul creature saw with the eyes of a witch and looked at Jareth with its head slightly cocked, as though it were looking at a small child in exasperated amusement. Jareth gritted his teeth, pissed that the thing was enjoying itself.

"Jareth, what is it?" Sarah's voice broke his distracted gaze but his heart wrenched with fear as he realized what would happen. Cold panic gripped him as his mind raced with uncertainty and speculation. He still didn't know how much the Queen knew about his relationship with Sarah. Did she know he was harboring her? Did she know Sarah had won the game? Did she know that this was her discarded plaything, alive and well in his arms?

Sarah started to turn to see what he was still staring fixedly at. Jareth knew he had to act quickly and decisively. He took her head in his hands, using a strong but gentle grip. He turned her face back to him, not able to keep a fearful hiss from his voice "Don't, Sarah...please."

Her eyes widened and she grasped his wrist in surprise, lowering her voice in reaction to his fear, "Jareth, tell me what's going on."

Oh, how he wanted to, but his eyes flicked back to the sinister bird, "There is no time, love. I would but...I can't allow her to find you." At that Sarah's grip on his arm became one seeking support and Jareth saw the terror of memory surface in her eyes. He continued, speaking low and quickly, "I don't know how much she knows...I should have been more careful. She's sent a can't see your face...I don't know what she's going to do if..."

"What do you want me to do?"

As she spoke those words, Jareth saw her fear transform into determination and knew had never loved her more. But he made quite possibly the quickest decision of his extremely long life and steeled himself for what he knew he had to do. He had to make it look as if things were not going well... they weren't, really. But, if the Queen knew he had Sarah, he had to make it seem as though their relationship was far removed from the mutual love and affection that they had discovered in these few short days. If she didn't know...well, she'd have a laugh about him being unlucky in love.

Jareth slid his hand cradle Sarah's neck and tangle in her hair, he leaned forward so that their noses were almost touching, "I need you to trust me, and I need you to fight back."

He only waited long enough to see her eyes narrow in understanding before he pulled her into a fierce, almost violent kiss. She tried to push away from him immediately, but his other arm came securely around her waist and his hand still held her by the neck. She then did something so unexpected he had to choke back a bark of laughter, after he cried out as she bit down hard on his lip.

The humor was short lived though, as he reacted to her impudence as his Father would have, as any other Fae would. Silently begging Sarah's forgiveness, he released her immediately and let his hand fly, hard. Jareth heard the sound of his own hand striking his beloved, followed closely by the damn raven cawing, like a cackling hyena, as Sarah fell in a heap at his feet, her hand pressed to her cheek.

Jareth set his mouth in a grim line, wiping the small trickle of blood from his throbbing lip and bending to haul her to her feet with a brutality he had never before used on a woman. He tried to exude impatience and aggravation as she again attempted to escape his grasp. He pulled her close once again, murmuring, "Here is where you really need to trust me," as he pulled a crystal.

Sarah's eyes widened and she gave an almost imperceptible nod before mouthing the words he had thought she might never say to him, "I forgive you."

However much he wanted to, Jareth gave no outward sign that she had done anything but spurn him. He brought the crystal up to her eye level, giving it a violent twist. He couldn't tell if Sarah was acting as her eyes grew even larger and she tried to back away from him. She, of course, didn't get very far before he dropped the crystal and it transformed into the same shimmering powder he had used the night that she appeared.

The powder drifted on the surprisingly gentle breeze a few feet to where Sarah had retreated. Jareth immediately stepped forward to catch her before she hit the ground in a dead faint and silently called the twins to attend him. He swiftly scooped her limp body into his arms, careful to keep her face hidden from the watchful eye of the raven as he waited for his miniscule court. There was still no reason to assume how much the Queen knew.

Jareth looked about while he was waiting, judging that they were not far from the House of the Wished. A few minutes later the two gold finches flitted nervously onto the path and transformed with little fanfare.

The twins' faces held bewildered confusion as he looked them over sternly before thrusting the virtually comatose Sarah into the brother's arms, "Take this from my sight, Lord Aidan." At the golden man's shocked expression, Jareth moved aside to allow his vassals to view the foul messenger. It let out an impatient caw as he brusquely clarified "I am called away. The girl will sleep until my return." He then cast his gaze back to the Queen's minion, and added as an afterthought, but with a slight shake of his head that he saw Nadia note, "And don't touch my mark on her. I aim for her to remember this day."

Aidan's mouth still hung open, but his sister smoothly stepped in, "Understood, Your Majesty. Shall she be taken to the House or the Castle?"

Jareth filled his voice with ice, but spoke words that, while terse, were also true, "One is as good as the other. I will know where she is."

Nadia gave a curt nod and Jareth turned swiftly away, regretfully determined not to give his love, the woman of his dreams, a second glance. Transforming into his owl form he spread his pale wings and followed the raven, who also took flight, flying into the shadows on the horizon.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 19 of 24

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