Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 8 of 24

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The Way Back

Jareth had just turned towards the doors, when a strangled curse erupted from the corridor outside. A split second later, Nadia burst into the room but stopped immediately when she saw her king before her, holding the woman protectively in his arms. Jareth gave his vassal a wintry look. She could tell he was pissed.

"Your Majesty," she began, but was harshly cut off.

"I did not give you leave to speak, Lady Nadia."

She clamped her mouth shut and bowed her head in remembered deference. He slowly walked forward turning slightly to the right to step around her, as if she were something dirty, not worth his whole attention. When he came abreast of her, he cast is eyes askance at his trembling vassal.

She was horribly frightened, having never seen him in this state. She could feel the power roiling off him, but freezing cold, like the look in his eyes. She silently reached out with her mind for the connection she held with her brother, only used for emergencies. She had to make sure Aidan knew what was happening here.

Jareth's countenance took on a vaguely bored cast, as he spoke, a measured and controlled tone to his voice, "You will attend in our study in one hour's time." Jareth continued walking out of the room, but added almost as an after thought, "Inform Lord Aidan that his presence will also be required," before he vanished with the frail woman still sleeping in is arms.

Nadia fell to her knees in relief. Aidan would be there. They could both explain. Jareth understood. He just had to control his anger, she hoped fervently. She put her face in her still shaking hands. For most of the many centuries that she and her brother had been in service to the Goblin King, she had always assumed that he had no temper to speak of. He always kept a tight reign on his emotions, rarely opening up even to them. She had not seen him so angry since...Nadia gasped, ten years ago. Nadia suddenly realized the complexity of the situation and that it could have been so much worse. Even a decade ago, Jareth had been angry at no one, just that he had been so helpless, had not been able to protect her. Aidan had told her what he saw through the keyhole. Apparently, neither of them had understood the effect that Sarah Williams had on their king, until her return.

The golden woman stood up, still a little shaky, and turned to see her brother leaning easily against one of the open bronze doors. He had an uncharacteristically concerned look upon his face, his short locks falling into his amber eyes. With his dark gold shirt and tan breeches, it looked like he was melting into the door. Nadia lifted a hand to straighten her slightly mussed hair, and voiced the thoughts that were running through both of their heads, "This could be very good, or extraordinarily bad."

Aidan nodded curtly, "And we don't even know what brought her here. Does Jareth know?"

She shook her head, "I arrived too late. I don't even know what happened in here." She waved a hand at the broken glass and splintered wood all over the floor.

"And how will he react when he does know? Or has to tell her?"

"Aidan, I don't know!" She shouted at him, "We've never had to deal with him like this before," Nadia stopped to consider, "Maybe this is part of his true personality. How are we to know what he was like in the court of the Sun King? He never even told us why..."

She was cut off sharply again, "No," Aidan stepped forward, a strange conviction in his eyes, "You cannot hide such a nature for over half a millennia. I will not believe it."

"You just don't want to believe he would hide anything from us, even though he obviously has. Why would he leave the security of his Father's court? What could he have done..."

"Nadia," a hint of entreating came into his voice, "What does this have to do with Sarah anyway?"

"We never get any further in this conversation, you always stop me. And I wasn't aware we were only talking about Jareth relating to Sarah," she put her hands on her hips in mild exasperation. "We are both going to have to learn and accept new things about Jareth before all of this is over. You had better get used to that idea, and soon." She walked past him to the open doors, "We should get prepared. And it wouldn't hurt to be early either."

Jareth tenderly placed Sarah once again into his bed, not having the energy to prepare a room for her. He sank into the chair he had left at the bedside, and for the umpteenth time in the past days he put his head in his hands.

Mother of Light, he thought, what am I going to do? What could he do? The Queen was Sarah's own torturer and he had practically sworn revenge on his Mistress. And he would have to tell Sarah of his relationship to her captor. Then she'll definitely hate me, he cringed inwardly. Why should he care about the love of a "pathetic" mortal? How had he come to?

Jareth knew without a doubt that he would die to protect her. He would never allow the Queen near Sarah again. But he had to figure out how he was going to pull it off....

"Jareth?" He lifted his head to stare directly into her open, semi-alert eyes. Her hair was pulled all to one side of her neck and fell gracefully down to his creamy sheets. Jareth realized she must have had bangs before her imprisonment, for there were a few strands cut shorter to frame her face. In the darkness, it looked like shining black ink, engulfing her. Sarah's voice was soft, and not a little raspy from disuse. Nevertheless, it stilled his ancient heart. "I'm in your bed again."

He chuckled, "So you are, my dear."

"But where are you going to sleep?" She reached out to him and, without thinking he caught her hand in his own.

He was touched by the almost childish concern in her voice, but remembered he had yet to speak to the twins, "I have some things to take care of. I'll be back in a little while."

She smiled wanly and whispered, "You didn't answer my question."

"I imagine I'll conjure up somewhere to sleep," he told her. "It's nothing you need to concern yourself with, Sarah. Go back to sleep." He turned towards the door, but her voice stopped him.

"Jareth...I'm afraid," she hesitated, "of what my dreams will bring." Jareth's heart could bear the distance between them no longer, falling to his knees at the edge of the bed, he pulled her towards him so she was half sitting up and half in his arms. Their faces were inches apart, he could feel her breath on him, coming fast from exhilaration or fear, he couldn't tell. She spoke again, so softly he almost didn't hear, "Jareth, the reason I..." he stopped her before she went any farther.

"Sarah," he sighed, wishing he could shut out the past, and the rest of the world for that matter. "There is so much that you don't understand."

"Tell me," she whispered in his ear.

"Not tonight. You need to rest, love." He was stalling, he knew it, but for a good reason, this time. She looked at him fearfully and his resolve not to work any spells on her melted, "I can make it so your sleep is dreamless, Sarah. But, I will make it clear at this moment that I will only ever do so with your permission. By doing this you will be giving me a significant amount of power over you." He stopped when her eyes grew wide, but continued after leaving ample time for the idea to sink in, "Do you trust me to do this, Sarah?"

...power over me, she thought, trying not to allow a bitterly ironic smile to cross her face. How badly did she want protection from the dark recesses of her memories?

Sarah looked away from Jareth's patiently waiting face, softly illuminated by the candlelight, and shuddered, thinking how close she had come to reliving the past year, just a moment ago. Instinctively, Sarah knew that when she had been in Jareth's arms, her dreams had been calm, almost pleasant. It was when he had put her in the bed, when he had let go of her that they had begun to turn in a direction that terrified her. She could almost feel the Queen's touch on her shoulder, the cold hardness of the black stone floor. She had woken up only just in time.

Did she trust Jareth? That was what she had come here to find out, and look where that had got her...begging for his protection. But at what price? It was true that she felt an undeniable attraction to Jareth, her mind had been on him for ten years. But did that mean she could trust him? Sarah remembered how kind he had been since her arrival. She closed her eyes and thought of how he had brushed her hair. He had taken off his gloves.

A tear rolled down her cheek and she felt a finger brush it away. Sarah looked down to the bed, there lay his grey, well-worn gloves. They were different than the ones he had worn when she ran the Labyrinth. She imagined he was trying to send her a message, to tell her she could trust him. She looked up into his face again. He was still waiting for her answer, although with more of a guarded look on his face.

She realized she had kept him waiting for far too long and that he probably thought she would reject his trust. Suddenly something occurred to Sarah, it no longer mattered to her who held the power, only that it was safe... protected.

She spoke the words, clearly and with conviction, she almost thought he would not believer her otherwise, "I trust you, Jareth. You have my permission."

He smiled sadly at her and a crystal appeared in his bare hand. She kept her eyes on his face. He spoke softly, directing her, "You must give yourself over entirely, Sarah. It will not work if you hold back." Still she hesitated, not knowing why. He put a hand to her face, probably sensing her confusion, "It will only take your nightmares, love. I told you, I will only do as you ask."

"I know, I just..." she couldn't explain.

"Sarah, I don't have to," he began, but she broke him off quickly, frightened he wouldn't do it.

She almost savagely gripped the hand that still held the crystal, "Yes, you do." She immediately regretted this action. She didn't want him to know how terrified she really was.

His eyes grew wide as he finally understood the depth of her fear and she felt the barrier holding her tears back begin to break, "Oh Sarah, I'm so sorry."

Sarah could no longer hold them back, the tears burst forth, cascading down her already wet cheeks. She threw herself into Jareth's waiting arms and began pleading, "Jareth, p-please...please do it. I can't...please do this for me."

"Shhh, love, I told you I would." They had both ended up on the floor as a result of her quest for his arms. Jareth easily lifted her back into the bed and settled himself at the edge. His voice seemed to hold an echoing musical quality, "Just relax," he soothed, "and let me shield you from the nightmares."

Sarah nodded and he produced the crystal again. The reflections from the candle light bounded across the walls as Jareth manipulated the tool in his hand. She allowed her gaze to finally rest on it and her breath caught in her throat. It was...her mind failed to form the words to describe it. She wasn't really aware of what she was seeing that was so beautiful, but it didn't matter. She would keep looking, maybe even find the answer. The world around the crystal became hazy and unimportant, but a strangely compelling voice came from the haze, "Sarah, can you hear me?"

"Yes," she heard herself answer.

"Will you do as I command?" She realized that this must be the voice of the beautiful thing and smiled.

"Oh, yes."

"Sarah, do you remember what happened in the court of the Shadow Queen? Do you remember what she did to you?" The voice was somber and gentle, as if trying to inflict the least amount of pain.

Sarah's mind flashed images of what occurred in the Queen's dungeons. She shuddered violently, almost coming back to herself, but kept her eyes on the crystal and fled into its depths. "Yes," her voice was barely audible, or maybe it was loud beyond the crystal, she did not know beyond the haze.

"Sarah Williams, you must never walk down this path of memory in your dreams again. You will never be tormented by these deeds in sleep. By the earth and the air and the light that governs them both I bind you to this. Have you heard me?"

A wonderfully soothing peace swept over her as the voice said these words and Sarah thought she might faint. But her eyes stayed on the beauty before her and she answered in a slow, mellow tone, "I have, my lord."

"Will you obey?"

"I will, my lord," each succeeding word became more difficult to pronounce and even the image of the crystal faded into the haze. Sarah's body felt deliciously heavy and a long sigh escaped her lips. She thought she was sinking into something soft and warm as the voice came again, Sarah realized it was Jareth and smiled slowly, "You can sleep safely now, love." She felt his lips rest against her forehead and heard, "Goodnight, Sarah," before she fell into oblivion.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 8 of 24

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