Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog #41: Restart
Word Count: 1,152
Date Written: 8 November 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
He doesn't want it to start again, he thinks as he watches the young girl begin to make her way through his labyrinth. He doesn't want to do it all over again. Already he hears his subjects squabbling with commotion over the news of a new human girl in his kingdom. He doesn't want to do this -- to do any of this -- ever again.
He sighs truly wearisome today as he sits on his throne. His fingers gently tap his regal chin. He doesn't want to do any of this, but he also doesn't really have much choice if he ever wants to escape one day becoming the oldest of the goblins. So far, he's managed to keep his dashing good looks, magic, control, and his own will. So far he hasn't succumbed to the darkness of the magic in this land. So far he's still himself.
But he knows what will happen if he doesn't find a Queen. It doesn't really matter how many babies he gets to keep. The fact that most of them are eventually left behind is the very reason why his army is so large, but they won't keep him from falling prey to the curse that was cast upon him and all he controls long ago. They won't keep him human.
Nor will this girl, he already knows, nor any of the many who have come directly before her. There have been thousands who have walked his labyrinth, thousands who have solved part of the puzzle of his magical land, many who have even managed to befriend most of his subjects. Ludo may look scary, but he's actually a sweetheart, the easiest of them all to befriend which is why he's one of the first tests in his labyrinth. Hoggle is harder, but not the hardest.
When it comes to truly besting his labyrinth, there is only one way to do it, and only one who has ever succeeded, just as when it comes to breaking the curse, she is the only one who ever held that power; she's the only one who ever held power over him.
A Goblin scurries through his throne room, breaking through his reverie. "Your Majesty!" the little, green creature shrieks in excitement. "She's coming! She's coming!"
"Oh, do tell," Jareth almost growls, striking the floor with his whip. The Goblins scurry swiftly out of his way.
"She won't win!" one of the oldest calls out before vanishing.
Another giggles. "He's mad!" she exclaims as though her King's fury could ever be a laughing. She shrieks when Jareth whips her, but there are others who move toward his whip, each wanting to be the one who earns his touch, even if it is cruel.
"You don't understand!" the Goblin who first disturbed what had been passing for Jareth's peace calls back out. "She's already at the castle!"
"Is she?" Jareth asks, his voice cold. The Goblin nods swiftly and eagerly that he shakes his entire body up and down.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Get to your posts!"
But he knows already it will do the girl no good. It doesn't matter that she's broken Sarah's record in solving the labyrinth. There's only one record that matters, and she won't break it. None of the peasants yet to traipse through his land will ever break that one, most important record.
The oldest Goblin, the one who once cared for him as a mother when she found him abandoned as a babe, looks up from shining his boots. "Not Sarah," she says simply, and Jareth nods.
It's not Sarah. Sarah will never enter his land again. She bested him. She defeated him and solved the one riddle that no other girl before her has and no other after her ever will. His heart aches with the memory. Trely understands what no one else here but himself does: It doesn't matter how many times this game, such as it is, is restarted. It doesn't matter how many girls enter his labyrinth. None of these other girls will ever matter, because none of them will love him. None of them will ever win, because the only one who he will ever be able to love as his Queen is gone.
She lied to him, but she was convincing. She lied to herself, but they both know she did what she had to do to save her brother. And in that, Jareth knows is the crux. For him to ever be free of this underground realm, he must be loved by some one and love her in return, but that some one must love him so strongly that she willingly sacrifices the things most precious to her. She must sacrifice her world, her family, and herself and submit herself willingly to him. She must choose him above all things.
He is not an easy man to love, but his love is also not easily won. Millions of girls have crossed his path, and of them all, only one ever held his heart. She let it go to save her brother and herself. He could not have loved any one less courageous or bold. A girl who would not sacrifice everything to save some one she loves is not a girl worth loving.
But he loved Sarah. He loved her, and he lost her. He will always win his labyrinth from this day forward, but he will never again feel the triumph of winning. His heart's no longer in the game. It's been taken, stolen by the Princess who should have been his and carried back with her to her own world. All that remains is an eternity -- an eternity without love, and that really is, despite his sweet and cunning lies to his single soul mate in all the realms, the longest time there ever is.
Jareth sighs, his beautiful head hanging, but then he lifts his head and gathers his powers back to him. He will do what he must. He will send this spoiled brat along her way back to her world, back to Sarah's world, and from below, he will watch his Princess who should now be ruling by his side and would be if not for the twisted sorrow of the curse placed upon him so long ago, a curse he knows will never be broken.
He holds himself high and proud as he does what he must, but inside, he's crying. Inside, he's already flying into a darkness that never ends. Inside, he already knows. It's only forever, but it's forever without Sarah and without her love, a forever he does not want to live but knows he must, a forever for whose end he aches but knows will never come. It's only forever. He sighs and flies, another heart to break, another game to win, another endless while to spend without the Queen of his heart.