Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Weekend Challenge: Sara Smile
Word Count: 1,799
Date Written: 10 July 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Henson, not the author, and are used without permission.
He would have given her his all. There was not a thing that he would not have done for her or anything he would not have given her if it had been in his power to do so, and if it had not been within his power and she had wanted it, he would not have stopped at anything until he had delivered her heart’s desire to her. He would have taken down the moon and handed it to her. He would have taken all the lands beneath her feet, all they touched, and all the creatures living within and on them and given them all to her to do with as she saw fit.
He had tried to make her fear him, but fear had not been what he had wanted out of that girl. Whereas he would have given her anything, he’d only ever wanted one thing. He had wanted her to look at him and smile, to look at him and see him as he was, to gaze upon him and see a most beautiful and powerful creature already her willing slave. He had loved her from afar for years before she had called upon him, and when she had called him, he had thought at last his chance had come. At last he could stop dealing with the other, trivial girls who called his name and cast their spell and he could woo the one thing he truly desired.
He had tried to woo her. He had tried everything he could to make her want him, to make her love him, to make her at least fear him and fear his wrath if he was not given what he wanted -- and what he wanted had always been her, not her nuisance of a baby brother. But nothing had been good enough for Sarah. Nothing he could have done or given her would have made her look at him as anything other than the way she had, an enemy to be beaten, another person trying to use her but one over whom she could demand power.
He should have just given her back her brother, but the spells cast over the labyrinth to ensure his eternal damnation were not as simple as that. He could not simply hand the baby back once he, or she, was taken. They had to be earned back. The very one who had sent them into his arms in the first place had to be able to willingly and deservingly take them back. There had been no other choice for either of them, Jareth realized now, once she had called him and he had taken her brother: She had had to take him back, and he had had to make her.
Never in all his life had he wanted to give a child back so quickly, but it had not been through any wrongdoing on Toby’s part or even on his own. He had played the part he’d been forced to play. She had called upon him, and he had answered. He had done exactly what she’d asked, and she had never asked the right words for him to be able to simply hand the baby back to her. She would have had to have been willing to make a sacrifice, not simply go through the labyrinth and beat his beings and traps. She would have had to offer herself in the place of her brother. She would have had to have stayed with him instead, and she’d never been willing to make that sacrifice.
To make matters worse, he couldn’t have told her. Doing so was strictly forbidden in the rules of the game, the rules which bound him to this place and had since he himself had been a child, one whose sister or brother -- he didn’t know, couldn’t remember, and it didn’t really matter -- had failed to take him back. He often wondered what had happened to them, if they had even tried, but even if they had, he was quite certain they’d never tried as hard as Sarah had to win Toby back.
And she had won him back fair and square. She was one of the few who had managed to beat the labyrinth over which he now ruled and had earned her brother back with no apparent repercussions -- except that, of course, there were repercussions. There were always repercussions, but Jareth had not expected these. He had known his heart would break with her departure, but he had not expected her own to break from it as well.
She, after all, did not love him. She had never loved him, but she had found in this place what she had been seeking her entire life nonetheless. She had found acceptance. She had found family. She had even found love, though it had not been with him or of a romantic nature. This was the place where she belonged, however, where she had always belonged just as he had come to belong over the years he’d been kept here quite unwillingly at first. This was the place where she was meant to be, the kingdom over which she was meant to rule beside him, not that dreadful place up above ground, where he only wanted to go, Jareth knew deep down, because he was not allowed to stay.
This was the place that was meant to be her home, and yet she was as trapped beyond its reach, in the world above, as he was in the land here, except perhaps more so. He could at least visit the world above, but Sarah could not return down here unless she had another child whom she was willing to offer up to the Goblins and their cursed King. Even then, the game would simply begin again, and the poor fool of a girl had no idea how to make it so she could stay. She did not know the words, did not possess the knowledge needed, and he, though he would in a heartbeat if only he could, could not share them with her.
“Ah, Sarah, Sarah,” he whispered, his voice lilting and almost musical in the dark of night. He caressed the crystal ball as he gazed upon her image within its power. “If only you could have stayed. If only you would have failed! If only you could have known -- “
If only she could have known, he thought, that this was where she belonged and there was only one way to stay here. She might not love him, but she loved this land and its inhabitants and would never belong in the world she had unwittingly chosen. She would always be amiss up there, one stray, golden light in a world full of meager people, one Queen trapped in a world full of servants. “You should have chosen me,” he whispered though, of course, she could not hear him. “You should have chosen us.”
Sarah stirred in her dreamless state. Every night she laid down only to toss and turn. Her dreams of the labyrinth had finally finished. She fought to hold on to her memories every day, but it was getting harder and harder to recall the faces she had known and the friends she had made while within his magical kingdom. Soon she would forget them all together. She would be lonely even when surrounded by her supposed people. She would feel lost even when she knew logically right where she was and with whom. And once she forgot them, she would never know why.
It was a painful process to watch. It was even more painful to watch knowing that the transformation was inevitable and that once she forgot them, her heart would never again be sealed or otherwise made whole. She’d always be missing something, someone, and she’d never again understand why. Lesser things had driven people of her species mad. What chance, he wondered, did his beloved Sarah have even with her ironclad will?
“Oh, Sarah,” he whispered. “Remember. Please remember.”
It was not his name she called out into the darkness, but it was a name they both knew well nonetheless. “Didymus?” He did not mind her calling for his most loyal Knight, but when she spoke the next name, his grip around the ball tightened so that the crystal would have broken had it been made of anything less powerful than his very own magic. “Hoggle?”
The Bog of Eternal Stench suited the Dwarf well, and Jareth held no remorse for placing him in the position into which he’d warned him he would if Sarah had chosen to give him her affections while still refusing to fall in love with Jareth. To think such a beautiful, strong, passionate, and intelligent woman could love an ugly, little Dwarf over him! The thought still repulsed him, but what was done was done. He could no more change her mind where Hogwart was concerned than he could make her love him -- and if he had succeeded in doing that, all their problems would have been over.
Of course no answer came to his treasured Queen from the dark shadows that filled her room. She listened, cocking her beautiful head this way and that, but she heard nothing else. She certainly did not hear him fuming over the rodent of a Dwarf. Eventually she laid back down, but her eyes cast an unseeing glare out at her dark world. She had made her choice. She literally had to lay in it now, but they both regretted it. They both regretted it, but there was absolutely nothing they could do to change the hands of Fate now.
“Oh, Sarah, Sarah.” He caressed her image once more as tears stole silently down her beautiful cheeks. “Why did you just not simply love me when you had the chance?” He knew the answer of course. Men like him were always cursed, but Queens like his beloved Sarah did not deserve to also suffer.
And yet suffer she would. One night, she would forget the namesto which she still clung tightly. Their faces were already blurred in her mind, he knew, and soon she would forget them entirely. But she would forget other things along the way as well. She would forget how to smile with her heart; her smiles would always be empty. She would forget where she belonged, and she would never feel right again.
For all his power, Jareth was powerless to stop the coming transformation. He was powerless to save the woman he loved because she had not chosen to love him in return. He was powerless to do anything more than watch, remember, and weep as his cherished Queen suffered in solitude. Turning away from the crystal, he did just that.