A Sadistic Fairy's Table
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot, all Labyrinth characters are the property of Henson... I think.
Author's Note: YES! I AM working on my 'Kneazle-verse' stuff, this is a bit of spring-cleaning to scrub out my brain and get rid of all my galloping bunnies. This one was a friggin' Bunnicula! Sucking the life outta my other... anyways, read on!▬▬♦▬▬
Black and white.
Like old noir films, newspapers, and zebras: a medley of colors that weren't technically
colors at all.
For as long as she could remember, her dreams had been vague and colorless, like reflections in a midnight pool. They left her filled with half-formed thoughts, and were ultimately unsatisfying.
Why was she, who had so much imagination in her waking life, doomed to dream an endless monochrome monotony?
Sarah Williams snorted as she sat up, twisting her torso to give her frilly-lace pillow a hearty punch.
"Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it," she muttered as she settled back against the soft head rest, her tone and expression those of one who knew firsthand the truth of the saying.
Ever since the Labyrinth…
So much had changed on that stormy night. In less than thirteen hours she'd had her world turned upside-down, gone through the fire and come back impossibly changed.
Toby was no longer an annoyance, he was the most precious thing in her world. Babysitting him was a pleasure now. They shared a secret, the two of them were the only ones in the household - if not the world - to have faced the Labyrinth and come back… relatively unscathed.
Sarah knew and recognized that she was not the only one who had been changed by her experiences. Her little brother was no longer your average toddler. Going into that magical realm he had crawled, now he could run. When she spoke, he listened, not just to the tone and sound of her voice, but to what she said
He was her closest confidant, and if, on occasion, a tilt of the head or a gleam of amusement appeared similar to… someone else, well, that was to be expected, wasn't it? HE had had hours in which to prepare Toby for what was assumed to be his future life, as goblin or some other manner of subject.
She herself had been altered, her world held more magic for her than ever before. The constancy
and reliability that made her home and existence so pleasant was no longer to be taken for granted. She woke up every day, grateful that her bed was still facing the southern wall and positively joyous that the sun had risen in the east again.
Her everyday humdrum world was to be savored!
Not disparaged because it did not hold quite as many adventures and surprises as were depicted in her books. First-hand experience guided her daydreams now, and it knew that adventures were dangerous, leading to loss and changes so drastic that what had once been became almost unrecognizable.
That was not to say that she did not recognize her former self, her former existence as Sarah-the-Dramatic-Brat. She did, most definitely, and she winced in shame at every reminder she had of how she used to be and what she used to do and say. Her school work was finished on time now, no more, "The fairies spirited me away for a late-night revel," excuses for her!
Relations between Karen and her were more level now, too. Though Sarah doubted she would ever see eye-to-eye with the neurotic woman, she was now making an effort to recognize and adapt to the changes having Karen around required. The appreciative looks her father gave her for every almost-argument that passed them by was like salt in an open wound.
Had she really been that bad? Had she really been so
The answer, unfortunately, was an emphatic YES.
So, Sarah could find it in her heart to thank HIM for teaching her a valuable lesson, life was not fair, but it was most definitely precious. To be kept and guarded and not squandered with foolish wishes that were not at all
thought out! HE had taught her that through life's most exacting and strict lesson: experience. She was… grateful, not that she would ever let HIM know that.
It had been exactly two months since her foray into the land of myth and magic that housed the Labyrinth. She had made friends and had adventures. The quest she was happy to have behind her, but the friends she was delighted to keep.
Hoggle, though gruff and often stoic, was surprisingly good at things like Geometry, and was in fact, more than partially responsible for her rise from C to A in that class. Sir Didymus had a dry wit that never failed to make her laugh at the exploits and trials of her latest day. Last but not least was Ludo, the loveable dog-like giant of a beast that could sum up even the most impossible situation and put it in perspective with three words or less.
It was hard to gripe about High School girls and their backstabbing when you were brushing the fur of an ogre-like creature who was positively purring, "Sawah fwiend!"
All in all the Labyrinth had left her a better, happier, more well-adjusted person.
Sarah's lips quirked in amusement at her own little mental summation of her trip. Sighing, she turned and glanced at the red numbers prominently displayed on her bedside alarm clock…2:33 A.M.
If she followed the pattern of the last few weeks, she would not be able to sleep until 4:00, or possibly later. Vivid, colorful dreams had been haunting her sleep and disturbing her unconscious mind since the one-month anniversary of her trip to the Labyrinth.
They could not rightly be called 'nightmares,' though that was the word that jumped to mind when they first started. From the first, the content of the dreams had left her oddly unsettled, with too much energy and an inability to concentrate for hours after waking. Last week she had taken to running, exploring the neighborhood for an hour before school each day, trying to relieve the relentless desire for movement that dogged her brain and made her legs twitch.
What troubled her most was the sense that something was happening
as she slept, that there were… things she should remember. Yet every day she woke, recalling nothing but a few bursts of violent color, images that stayed burned on the backs of her eyelids until she scraped them off onto the canvasses that decorated her art room.
Mr. Graham, the art teacher, had never been so thrilled with her before. His compliments were profuse, and he desperately wanted to enter her in some of the local competitions held at the end of May. Something in Sarah held her back though, she did not feel that these were meant to be put on display, somehow. They were too… private. They were hers in a way that nothing she'd ever painted or drawn had been hers before.
It felt like she had put pieces of her soul onto those canvasses.
As Sarah thought and sighed, fantasizing about the sleep that eluded her, a thin film seemed to cover her eyes. Slowly her lashes flickered gently against her cheeks, until at last her eyes were closed, a few seconds later smooth deep breathing signified sleep as she drifted into dreamland…▬▬♦▬▬
School the next day saw Sarah yawning and fighting to stay awake. Teachers that had lately begun to look at the dark-haired girl with the affection reserved for those brightest of students now looked on her with concern as they watched, day by day, the dark circles under her green-gray eyes grow larger and more pronounced.
Art class was the first of her courses that received a fully-awake - or at least mildly aware - Sarah Williams. The images from last night were the most vivid yet, and she positively ached to set them down on canvass.
The next thirty-three minutes were a whirl of paint slapped down and splattered, a bold mixture of red-white-orange against a background made up of muddy purple-green-browns.
When at last she came up out of her trance she studied her work for a full ten minutes. A troubled expression dominated her face, her gaze flickering from left to right and top to bottom as if to deny what she saw so very clearly.
It was the Firey Forest, and it was the first thing she had recognized in her paintings thus far. In fact, her green-gray eyes widened perceptibly as the half-formed leaves in the painting stirred a little, as if in some unseen wind -
She jumped and spun, and if she'd had any training her hands would have been up and ready to defend against the possible threat. But because she was Sarah Williams, a relatively average girl despite all Labyrinthine evidence to the contrary, she merely crouched, taking on the countenance of a wild animal in her fright.
"Easy," Mr. Graham muttered, "I just wanted to ask, are you alright?"
Sarah laughed guiltily and stood, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear, oblivious to the green paint that stained her fingers, and now her hair, "Yeah, I'm fine, sorry."
"It's quite alright," he smiled and looked past to her newly-finished work, "This is amazing, Sarah." He stepped around her to study the canvass more closely, "I'd say it's your best work yet, why, you can almost see the trees moving! And those… creatures in the foreground, why they're marvelous!" He looked at her with wondering eyes, "Where on earth do you get your inspiration?"
Her fingers twisted nervously in her smock, "Sometimes real life, sometimes fantasy, sometimes dreams." She reached out and flicked a piece of debris away from the edge of the painting, "This was something I dreamed last night."
A new voice spoke out quietly, "You have a wonderful imagination."
Sarah flushed under the scrutiny of Rob Hogan, hunk and all-around Mr. Mysterious of the school. "Thank you," she murmured, looking everywhere except at his face. Even in her worst brat-days pre-Labyrinth, she'd never entertained the hope that Rob would notice her, let alone speak to her!
Of course, caught up in the insecurities that hounded every teenager, Sarah could not know that while she believed herself to be below most boy's notice, they thought of her quite differently. Her quiet beauty drew them in and her dreamy smile made many wonder what it would take to focus her attention on the real world, and more specifically them
, for a short while. She seemed both fleeting and timeless. An almost palpable aura of freedom surrounded her, saying almost clear as words that she was above the petty concerns that consumed most of their time.
Mr. Graham smirked a bit, recognizing a teenage drama in the making, and hurriedly left them to it. Hormones were things better left to those who still had the energy to deal with them.
Rob moved forward a little to inspect her work, "It's… different."
"Different good or different bad?"
He reached out and traced his fingers lightly over the surface of one of the Fireys, almost but not quite touching the surface, "Different… wild, it looks like a forest that Man does not know."
"Man knows this forest, but he really wishes he didn't," Sarah muttered under breath.
Rob shot her a blinding smile, "How do you come up with this kind of thing?"
"Oh, you know, the usual inspirations…" Class was about to end, she noted absently, and began to gather up her supplies while she spoke.
Mr. Mysterious followed her as she tidied up, "I'd really like to pick your brain sometime. Would you like to go get lunch, or see a movie on some Saturday? Say, tomorrow?"
Sarah stood bolt upright, a slow flush suffusing her face, "Me?" She coughed slightly before stammering in a slightly-less squeaky tone, "Um, yeah, sure, I guess-"
The bell rang and he grabbed his bag, "Great, well it's settled then, I'll see you tomorrow," he flashed her one last brilliant smile before leaving one rather flabbergasted teenage girl behind.▬▬♦▬▬
Date. She was going on a date
. A Date with ROB HOGAN.
"Breathe, Sarah, breathe…" she fanned herself with one hand while trying to apply blusher with the other. Rob was due to pick her up in a little less than twenty minutes, and with each passing second she could feel her nervousness growing, rising up her throat like bile.
She braced her hands on the vanity and stared at her reflection before picking up the concealer yet again
. Even with what felt like a gallon of the stuff under each eye, there was still a bit of purple skin showing through.
A few dabs with the swab later and she gave it up as a lost cause, sitting down to wait with a good book. Though 'Harry Potter' was one of her favorite series, it held no appeal as she kept glancing at the clock, watching the minutes tick past as she waited.
He was now twenty minutes late and counting. This was unprecedented, Sarah had gone out a few times before, but none of her dates had ever been late
Sarah heard Karen open the door and usher Rob inside, "Sarah! Your date's here!"
She slowly descended the stairs, still a little annoyed that he had been -
"I'm so sorry," he smiled apologetically, "Traffic was awful, there was an accident on Main."
Instantly her annoyance transformed into concern, "Was anyone hurt?"
"I don't think so, I didn't see any ambulances." He held out an arm, "Shall we go?"▬▬Five-And-A-Half Hours Later▬▬
Sarah studied herself in her vanity mirror with a look of mixed horror and amusement. Her once-pristine yellow sweater and khakis ensemble was now coated in an awful mixture of juice and some other unrecognizable stains.
And everything was topped with a nice healthy dollop of pure April rain.
Teeth chattering she stripped and dashed across the hall for a quick shower, thanking the fates that had seen fit to send her father, Karen, and Toby to the newest exhibit at the museum.
The hot water was soothing, and soon she began to feel human again. As her chill decreased the hilarity increased until she was crouched against the wall of the shower laughing like a hyena as her shampoo ran down the drain.
And if her laughter was interspersed with a few tears…. well, she had
just experienced the 'Date from Hell.'
Dressing in a worn-out pair of sweatpants and a comfortably ragged t-shirt, she made herself some hot chocolate and propped herself up on her window seat.
The rain pouring down outside was positively torrential, so much so that the windows didn't even have water-tracks across their surfaces, they were one big sheet of wetness. The water pounded against the house, the violent noise calming to Sarah's jangled nerves.
From the moment she'd stepped out the door with Rob, it had been one thing after another.
First there was the movie, every seat was sold out.
Lunch wasn't too much better, she still
wasn't quite sure how that fight had broken out…
Then came the positively satanic
traffic. The cap to an already wonderful time, three hours spent in an enclosed space with someone who she had once
harbored romantic feelings for.
"Well, I'm cured of that now
," Sarah murmured bitterly, "I'm not gonna date again until I'm thirty!"
"Glad to hear it," came a cool, cultured, and shockingly recognizable voice from behind and just to the left of where she sat.
She spun, mouth a small 'o' of shock as she came face to face with HIM.
"What are you doing here?"
His eyes were blank, a small smile curled up the corners of his sensual mouth, but that was his 'normal' expression, it told Sarah nothing. He lounged against one of the posts on her bed, leaning nonchalantly against the space that was meant to be a refuge, a relaxation point.
Sarah felt a lot of things when she was around him, but 'relaxed' definitely wasn't on the list.
A crystal appeared in one of his gloved hands and he let it crawl over his fingers like a caterpillar, dipping and gliding in a dizzying manner. It came to rest in his palm and instantly his hand shut like a vise around it as his gaze came to rest back on her face.
She gulped at the violence she could see tethered there.
"Do you know, Sarah, of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone?" he asked, his tone seeming almost idle.
"Yes," she whispered, mesmerized by his eyes so intent and intense on her face… Shaking herself she continued in a stronger tone, "What does that have to do with anything?"
His posture against the bedpost was suddenly no longer relaxed, instead he seemed almost like a cat about to pounce on a rather fat and exceedingly stupid mouse. His next words came out almost like a caress, and Sarah shivered at the minute breeze they caused against her skin.
"Cryptic, as usual," Sarah huffed, trying to regain some composure.
"Obtuse, as usual," he returned, standing upright and crossing to her vanity. He examined the toys that collected there.
Sarah pressed herself farther back against the wall as he passed her, letting out a breath she had not known she was holding once he reached a 'safe' distance. Of course, with him, the safest distance was not one measured in feet, but rather in magical barriers…
Which reminded her: "You have no power over me."
He glanced at her over his shoulder, amused, before returning to his perusal of her things, "Correction: I have no power over you except that which you allow
me to have."
"And what does that mean, exactly?"
He turned to face her again, and Sarah saw yet another crystal dancing on his fingertips, "It means that magic, my dear Sarah, has a mind of it's own, and even the most experienced of practitioners are sometimes caught off guard by it's… desires."
Here, at last, was something she could address with certainty. She all but spat her words, "I am NOT 'your dear Sarah!' I'm not your dear ANYTHING!"
A fierce expression crossed his features before he smoothed them back into their typical amused mien, "Are you sure of that, Sarah?"
She wished desperately that he'd stop saying her name, it came out… wrong
when he used it. Sounding as if he new her intimately, better than she knew even herself.
"Why are you here?"
He settled himself against the vanity, the crystal picking up speed until it was barely a flash of sparkling glass across his hands, arms, and sometimes even shoulders. "I've found that I do not like others touching what is mine," he frowned a little, a slight puckering of brows.
"You're jealous?" Sarah squawked in surprise, "Of what, and why? You don't own anything up here!"
That small smile was back, curling his lips just the tiniest of bits, and giving him a much more sinister air to Sarah's way of thinking. "Don't I?" He mocked, flicking his wrist and beginning to play with the crystal like a yo-yo.
"No, you don't," she stubbornly defended, "You have no power over me."
Exasperation touched his features, "You say that so often, Sarah, I begin to wonder if you really know what it means." He shifted, making himself more comfortable and took on a slightly mocking, lecturing tone, "To have power over someone doesn't just mean ownership
, it means allegiance, duty, or…" His face became stony, "Emotion."
Sarah stirred slightly, her mind flashing back to that night among the broken stairs of the ruined tower-room. She had denied all ties with him, so what? Then why was he here?
"Duty, allegiance… emotion," he answered the question she hadn't realized she'd spoken.
"That doesn't really tell me anything," she grumbled.
He changed topics lightning-fast, "Been having any strange dreams of late, Sarah? Anything happen that was a bit… unusual?" When it became obvious that she was not going to answer, he stood and began to pace, "Bursts of creativity, perhaps?"
"Yes, that would be a good conduit, I suppose," he snapped his fingers and suddenly there they all were, everything she had painted since coming back from the Labyrinth. There were almost thirty canvasses of various sizes leaning against the walls and surfaces of her room. He reached out and one floated to him: it was her latest, the one of the Firey Forest.
Sarah watched in shock as he seemed to punch through the fabric, "What are you do-" She gasped, though she had clearly seen his hand enter the painting, it had not come out the other side.
He smirked and drew his hand back out, drawing, to her surprise, a handful of leaves with it. Setting the painting down he lifted the leaves until they were at face-level and blew them towards her. They floated like they were no heavier than feathers, raining down over her head and shoulders and surrounding her with the smell of the Firey's Forest: earth and smoke and rotting plant matter, all spiced with a faint scent that she associated with magic. After all, Jareth positively reeked
"What did you do to it?" She asked, rising, for the first time since he had entered her room, and crossing towards him to pick up the discarded canvass. There was no hole, nothing to indicate that he had damaged her work in any way, and still when she turned to look at him, her eyes were accusatory.
"I? I did nothing, Sarah, it was all you."
"All me? I didn't do anything to it! I just painted it!"
it, Sarah. You made a doorway between Earth and Faerie. You called to me, and I answered." He turned her and forced her head up, making her look him in the eye as he scanned her features slowly with his mismatched eyes, "And what do I find, my Sarah?" His hand skimmed down her form, almost touching but not quite, "I find that my pretty little innocent mortal… is no longer as mundane as she used to be."
She wrenched from his grasp, eyes fearful at the triumphant gleam that had entered his eyes, "What are you talking about?"
He was back to being the predator, eyes hooded and watchful like some great jungle cat as he smiled lazily, "Merely that all citizens of the Labyrinth owe their allegiance to ME. They are
in effect, mine
." His hand clamped tightly around her wrist and drew her forward, "You
are, in effect, mine
She twisted her arm in his grasp, but this time he held firm, "What are you talking about?"
"Consequences, my dear, consequences." His smile became almost whimsical, "Who would have thought so simple a thing as a peach and a dream…" He shook his head, "But no matter, the means is unimportant, the ends though…" The grin that spread his lips was positively shark-like, "Well, as they say, the devil is in the details."
"You'd know all about that," Sarah spat, meaning it as a dig.
His thumb began to gently stroke along her pulse point, a disturbing contrast against his firm grip. "Yes, I do believe I would," he stepped back abruptly, leaving Sarah confused, angry, and though she would vehemently deny it: the slightest bit bereft.
She rubbed at her wrist unconsciously, trying to understand the situation she'd found herself in. She now knew why
he'd come, he felt her make that whatever-it-was with her painting. Why, though, did he believe that it made her owe some sort of… fealty to him?
"Only a Sidhe can make a doorway between worlds, and only someone directly keyed into the Labyrinth… or myself, can open a door into my realm," he continued, unconsciously answering her query.
Sarah's eyes widened and her mouth gaped open and shut soundlessly, leaving her looking like a fish, albeit an attractive one. "What? But I'm not a fairy! I'm a mortal girl! How could I become a - a - a whatever-it-is YOU are?" She gestured wildly.
He leaned in as if to impart some delicious secret, "You have eaten of the food of the fairy-folk, no mortal can do that and remain unchanged."
"Wha - the peach! That peach you gave me!" She glared at him accusingly, placing an alarmed hand to her stomach, "What is it doing to me?"
The crystal was back, and he was toying with it again in a deceptively innocent manner, one would never have guessed that he'd just dropped the bombshell of all bombshells into Sarah's lap.
"The food of my people can have numerous effects on your kind. It can awaken creativity, a spark of genius that will change the world. It can elongate life, so that the man who eats it watches as all he loved wither and die while he stays in his prime. It can shorten life, so that the mortal is but a mayfly to even your
people's limited span…" He smirked here, "I must admit that in some of my… darker moments I hoped that that
would be your fate, but this…" He closed his eyes and gave an exaggerated shiver, opening the mismatched orbs again to pin her with an unrecognizable expression, "This is so much sweeter."
"What's going to happen to me?" Sarah whispered, eyes wide as she clutched her arms as if to offer herself some of the support she desperately needed.
"Our food has two other, much rarer
effects. If the mortal who imbibes is singularly UN-magical, lacking both imagination and creativity to such a degree that even our food
cannot bear it…" He smiled, "Why, it turns them into a goblin, or some other lesser Fae, so that the poor mortal can at last have some of the magic that has eluded it since it's first breath."
A choked cry escaped Sarah as she remembered the goblins that had defended the city against her desperate attempts to release her brother. Had they all been mortal like her once? Had they been doomed to that… existence by a bite or sip from some sadistic Fairy's table?
Recognizing her look of distress, Jareth laughed, "Oh, don't worry your pretty little head. It is, as I said before, very
rare that a mortal does not have some
smidgen of magic in their soul. My goblins are all true
goblins. It is rare that I have… visitors, and even rarer that I offer them some sustenance on their journey."
"So, I'm NOT going to become a goblin?" She asked tentatively.
"Of course not, Sarah," he straightened and began to circle her, inspecting her from all angles. "Too much magic in you for that. No my dear, you appear to be subject to that last
option." He stopped in front of her, capturing all her attention and smiling a true smile, "You are going to become full Sidhe, like me."
The cat who got the canary could not have a more satisfied expression than the one Jareth wore, "Yes, Sarah, the peach and the magic of the Labyrinth have seen fit to gift you with the Fae's Blessing." He bent down until he was eye to eye with her, "You are a subject of the Labyrinth now, and as such, you are my
subject." The smile was back in place, "Understand now?"
Her mind whirled as comment after comment of this surreal conversation clicked into place. She frowned as she thought back to something he had said earlier, "What do you mean you don't like other people touching what's yours?"
Jareth's face grew stony, and his breath hissed out from between his lips as he sneered, "That… boy you 'went out' with. Never see him again."
Sarah's eyebrows shot up into her hairline at the command in his tone, "What I DO or do NOT do on a date is none of your business!"
His long fingers had wrapped around her forearms and pulled her tightly to him before she could so much as flinch. "Everything
you do is my business, Sarah," he snarled at her. "I
am the one who will teach you to guard your new abilities as they develop, I
am the one who gave you that peach, I
am your king
!" His lips curled, "You are Sidhe now, Sarah, or at least, you will
be. That makes you mine
He released her and took a step back, warning, "And I keep
what's mine." Seeing the tears that were threatening to spill from her bright eyes, he offered, "You have one year to get used to the idea." He smirked, "Such a short span of time, one year, but by the end of it you will be running to me, begging
for me to help you." The crystal reappeared in his grasp, "In one year your transformation will be complete, and your education will begin."
One more step back and he started to drop the crystal, a thought and it stilled in midair as he gave her one last reminder, "Remember, Sarah, even with a year-long reprieve: you are mine
… do not care too deeply for any of those mortal boys, else it will go badly for them."
The crystal resumed it's downward path and with a brilliant flash, he was gone.▬▬♦▬▬
Karen found Sarah sitting in her window seat, face pressed against the glass. When the teenager looked up, her eyes were over-bright, as if some fire burned behind them that hadn't been there before.
The blonde sighed, glancing from her stepdaughter to the street below and back again, before sitting down beside the girl. "I know that we haven't exactly been… friends," she began uncomfortably, how the hell was she supposed to broach this topic? "But you'd tell me, if there was anything really wrong, wouldn't you?"
"Sure, Karen," Sarah answered tightly, a bitter little grin hovering about her lips.
"Even if it was something really, really strange, you could tell me," Karen continued, "It'd be ok."
"There's nothing," the brunette sighed, turning back to face the steadily-pouring rain.
The blonde sighed and tunneled her fingers through her hair, so it was going to have to go the hard way, was it?
"Well, then Sarah, tell me something: why have my wards been tripped, and why aren't you completely human anymore?"
Karen had to grin at her stepdaughter's expression: it was the first time she'd seen the acerbic teenager totally speechless.▬▬♦▬▬
A/N: Technically Sarah;s stepmother's name is supposed to be 'Irene,' but I like Karen better, so nyah!