Disclaimer: Sadly, I still haven't blackmailed the authorities into giving me Jareth - *coughs* Ah, that is, they haven't sold me the movie rights yet.


Chapter 4: Revelations


Sarah sat down hard. In the last few minutes, she had vacillated so many times between fear and relief that the flashes of both were beginning to lose their devastating potency. So this time she only breathed hard for a few seconds before reaching up to unfold the note the rest of the way, reading it with mingled hope and apprehension.

Hello, precious. I've brought you a gift.

I apologize for the fright I gave you. Playing a little trick on you so soon after your wonderfully devastating dream was simply too good of an opportunity to resist. Consider it a bit of payback, if you will. And don't worry. The first event was, as you had first thought it, just a dream. Even I am not that devious. Most of the time, anyway.

Sarah laughed a bit breathlessly. Even in writing, his sarcasm and rather...quirky...sense of humor were all too evident. Of course, this was the man who had set the Cleaners on her for fun…

I hope you will forgive me for my impropriety in entering your room without invitation. If you find that you are missing something important, please inform me so that I can properly smack my kleptomaniac little goblins. You can communicate with me for other things as well, if you wish; simply say my name to the crystal.

Sarah raised the smooth globe, turning it slightly but still finding no imperfections. It's just a convenient excuse to let me talk to him. But still... She lowered the crystal tremblingly, looking back to the missive and almost letting her lips shape the word that would call him to her side… Then she set it down quickly, too quickly, almost knocking the globe off the little stand that kept it from rolling off the sill. Then that too caught her eye, and she set the crystal on the floor so she could pick up and stare in consternation at the small gold ring.

Oh, and do please keep the ring. It was meant simply as a prop for my little performance, but I believe it is quite a fetching piece of jewelry, and thus should not be wasted on goblins. Besides, you, my girl, need something to remind you to stop taking things for granted. I had thought you had learned that lesson already… But perhaps I was too hasty.
Lately I find I have been too hasty in many things...

Too soon... just a child... Echoes of whispered, half-remembered words raced through her mind, and Sarah sighed. Three years ago, she had still been a child... But everything had changed in the Labyrinth. She wondered what it would be like to run the gauntlet now. There are definitely some choices she would have made differently... Sarah quickly shook all thoughts of peaches out of her head.

But I digress. If you no longer wish to have contact with the denizens of my kingdom, you can simply dispose of this crystal. However, it can also function much as your mirror once did, if you seek to contact your friends when you are away from home. I believe Hogbreath in particular has been complaining that he misses your company.

Sarah laughed again, heartier this time. He always forgot Hoggle's name, if only just to annoy the little goblin. Then the full meaning of the message sunk in, and she gasped. It can function as your mirror once did... She could talk to her friends again! And if her mirror didn't work anymore, then she wasn't completely to blame...

Then Sarah hung her head. She hadn't talked to her friends in over a year, and when her longtime enemygave her a way to contact them, she started trying to absolve herself of guilt? I can't believe myself sometimes... Maybe I haven't grown up as much as I thought. But I can reach them now, and I will... even if it's because of Jareth. I guess I'll have to ask Hoggle to thank him for me - Sarah giggled at the thought. All right, so maybe not Hoggle then. But someone... Sarah looked back at the piece of paper she still held.

There's no need to thank me; I believe my little act of retribution to be thanks enough. You taste quite good, by the way. Rather like peaches. I'm only sorry you happened to be asleep at the time; I believe the experience would have been enjoyable for both of us. You've grown, precious - you're certainly not a child anymore.

Sarah could practically hear the smirk in the last sentence as she pressed a hand to her lips in sheer disbelief. "He… kissed me? Jareth kissed me?" Her voice turned from wondering to furious. "I can't believe that bastard actually kissed me! I was asleep! And he dares insinuate that I would have kissed him back?! That pervert... I'll show him how much I've grown - by beating his face into the ground..." Sarah was about to shred the note in frustration when the last few lines caught her eye.

There, I believe you should be angry enough now to banish all traces of sleep for your system. Consider it a wake-up call. And do try to guard your mind better in the future; as enjoyable as this particular enterprise turned out to be, I tend to dislike being pulled into others' dreams. Now, though, I confess I am rather grateful for the opportunity to contact you.

Believe it or not, precious, I'd like a truce. I have no more grievances against you - you are hardly the same foolish child as before - and I would like to at least make peace between us, for however long it can last. All I ask is that you do not forget us, Sarah. Do not forget the kingdom you always dreamed of, do not forget your friends… And remember me. Whether with love or with loathing, remember me - for I find I cannot forget you.

Your obedient servant,

Jareth

Sarah's anger faded as quickly as it had come. Perverted, arrogant bastard or no, he had used her name… and those last lines sounded almost like he was… pleading. Remember me…

"Remember you?" she murmured aloud, then laughed softly. "Oh, Jareth, how could I forget?" Sarah paused a moment and gazed into the crystal so much like the one that had once held all her dreams. "How could I forget anything, when those thirteen hours made me who I am? And really, all because of you..."

She picked up the ring from the sill and looked at it a moment, watching the sunlight sparkle into the mazelike patterns carved onto the outside and the infinity symbol etched onto the inside of the band.

"A truce, huh?" she said contemplatively. "A truce..." Sarah gazed at the crystal a moment more, then slipped the ring onto the third finger of her left hand. "Well, Jareth, for as long as it lasts... You've got yourself a deal."

Sarah looked at the gold band a moment, resting next to the place an engagement ring would sit. A snatch of song went through her mind, a tune she had heard a long time ago, before that fateful night. "It's only forever…"

She smiled and picked up the crystal, tossing it lightly in one hand as she looked again at the last lines of the note. "Oh, I'll remember you all right, Goblin King. With love and loathing both, for now and always…"

Sarah grinned out the open window, raising her face to the sun. "It's only forever, really. And that's not long at all."

The owl winging its way happily home reveled in the sound of her laughter ringing from the trees.


I had a lot of fun writing this (and I'm glad it's finally stopped fighting to get out of my head!) and I confess I rather like how it turned out. Honestly, with these two, I figured a truce would be the closest thing to happiness either of them could get. There's room for a sequel here, or a companion story anyway, or I could even write a couple more chapters and make up an actual plot! (le gasp!)

Anyway, this is the end of Now and Always. Thanks to everybody who reviewed: SeducingReason, notwritten, hazlgrnLizzy, Adriana, and satta - reviews are what keeps us authors going! And, of course, to Kali Rose, who makes me actually write the crap that's in my head... You rock, grrl =)

As I've said before, if this gives you ideas, feel free to write... just tell me please so I can read it! And, now and always... Please review!

~Ash