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In Search of Old Dreams

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As a child, Toby dreams of the sound of wings beating against the air and a song that feels both familiar and strange, a fey voice that calls to him with words he can't understand. He wakes from those dreams feeling like he's left something behind, that he wants to go back... but he doesn't know where. Just not this house and this family.

He can deal with those dreams, as much as they make him crave something he doesn't know how to explain. But there are others. Dreams of blinding light and dense smoke and laughter so cruel it leaves him crying. Those nights he falls from his bed and stumbles down the hall into his sister's room, crawling into her bed and pressing his teary face into her stomach.

Sarah sighs and runs her fingers through his hair under the blankets, humming tunelessly until he calms down. She always asks what scared him, but something always stills Toby's tongue, keeping the words he wants to say locked behind his teeth. And Sarah never pushes; she holds him close and tells him stories about far off lands and fairytale creatures until he falls asleep.

When Toby is turns ten, Sarah tells him a different story. One about cruel King and his Labyrinth, the mistakes Sarah made and the friends she won along the way. Sarah promises him it is a true story, trying to convey both her sincerity and remorse as she asks him to believe her...

But Toby already knows it is the truth. It is like the click of a lock being opened, the answer to the strange dreams he's always had. When Sarah asks him to be careful, Toby agrees. He has no desire to meet the man who could laugh so cruelly.

He doesn't think of their conversation for years. He still dreams of course, the whisper of feathers in the air and music that he can almost sing along to drifting through his days and nights. But he has grown used to hearing things that others cannot see, and does not think much of it anymore.

Until he turns fifteen.

Toby is turning fitfully in his bed, debating with himself the merits of going downstairs for a glass of milk to help him sleep, when the house rattles and shakes and the balcony doors swing open with a cloud of smoke that glitters like the stars in the night sky. A white barn owl swoops down through the open doors with a flutter of wings that sends Toby's heart beating wildly in his chest, and his head turns to follow the bird, only to see the stretch and growth of a shadow on the floor that comes to encompass his own.

When he turns back towards the balcony doors, someone is standing there with glittering eyes and nest of pale hair, head cocked like a bird and mouth smiling wide enough to display a set of sharp teeth.

"Toby," they say, their voice rich and familiar. They say nothing more, but extend a gloved hand in invitation.

Toby knows he should say no. He knows who this is and what he has come for. He knows what Sarah did to get him back and how much she regretted wishing him away in the first place; besides that, he promised.

But when Jareth begins to withdraw his hand, the faint music he can hear in the back of his head going with it, Toby lunges forward and holds on to the hand that had been held out so sweetly. Jareth smiles, a vicious thing of triumph, and Toby feels the world spin around him as he finally gets to go home.