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Greatly Exaggerated

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Sarah grinned as she crossed the threshold between worlds.

"Hey guys I'm here! I brought cookies!" she called merrily.

There was no answer. She found this odd as they were typically waiting.

At 25 Sarah was a writer of children's books, all about the underground.

She had found after her journey through The Labyrinth, the door remained inexplicably open to her. So she came and went, visiting her friends, the goblins, everyone. They all loved and welcomed her.

Except him.

Jareth stayed away from her, though she saw him at a distance on occasion. He would stare at Sarah for a long moment then change into an owl and fly away.

Not that she was opposed making friends with the handsome king. If he had ever given her an opening, just once, she would have taken it.

He never did.

This day she trekked her way through The Labyrinth, which now she could travel unhindered. It was a good walk but the maze made it as easy as possible for her, it's champion.

Close to the castle she heard a great cacophony, wailing, screaming, crying. As she got closer it got louder.

When she crossed into Goblin City she could tell it was in the castle.

She never went there.

Out of respect for Jareth, she never was that bold. Or at least, never let him think she was. She would have loved to explore the great building, but she respected his space.

This day, with all the noise, she thought she should check it out.

The great doors stood open.

As she gingerly took her first steps inside she got a good look at the din.

There in the throne room, every creature, from the rock callers to the fieries, to the goblins, to the brownies, were weeping and wailing and crying.

She approached Hoggle when she saw him. He wasn't making much noise but even he seemed a bit glum.

"Hoggle?" She asked.

He turned, his eyes wide. "Sarah..ahh..I fergot..Well see..we gotta bit of problem and..."

"What is it?" What is going on?"

"He's gone." the dwarf said simply.

Sarah's heart fell. She knew exactly who. "Gone? Why? I mean how..where? What do you mean gone?"

Hoggle swallowed hard. "The goblins is sayin'...he died."

Sarah gasped. "WHAT?"

She couldn't explain the feeling that came over her. Sadness surely, but a longing, a pain developed somewhere around the vicinity of her heart.

I never told him I...No..don't go there Sarah.

"What happened?" She asked. She asked louder, "Where is the hell is The Goblin King?!"

Everyone turned then, seeing her standing there.

She immediately found herself at the bottom of a very stinky pile of creatures who apparently had no concept of personal hygiene or personal space.

With cries of "The Lady!" "Sarah!" and she swore a couple of "Queenies!" were in there, she lay in a daze on the hard stone floor as they clamoured over her.

She caught her breath and pushed them away. "Guys! Guys come on! Let me up! What's going on?!"

"WHAT IN ALL THE UNDERGROUND IS THIS ABOUT?!" Came a voice from the doorway.

Everyone in the room froze.

The time it took for Sarah to turn her head, the mob she had been trying to pry away from herself, had vacated her person and was headed straight for The Goblin King, who, though looking a little the worse for wear, was alive and well, it seemed.

"Jareth you should.." She began, but the words didn't make it's way out before he was bowled over by the crazed group of subjects.

Sarah watched helplessly as they did the same thing they had done to her,except they were actually kissing and hugging and crying as Jareth flailed around trying to break free.

Kissing and hugging.

She couldn't help herself, she started to giggle. The giggle turned into a hearty laugh as Jareth flung creatures away from him left and right.

"Get away from me you revolting cretins. Gah! " He yelled as he kicked, threw and pushed them off, finally managing to get his feet.

When he was standing, he straightened his clothing, smoothed his hair and turned to the laughing woman a few feet away from him.

"This amuses you, precious?" His eyes narrowed as he glared at her. "Perhaps a trip to the bog would be prudent for the great Lady Sarah as well."

Sarah faced him head on. She tried to control herself, but the occasional laugh escaped as she tried to speak. "I'm sorry..I mean...I really am but...and then they, and you.." She broke into laughter again.

"Ah yes. I am ever your foil. A joke, a conquered king, an object of your constant scorn." He answered wryly.

He made his way through the crowd and to his throne, throwing himself on it dramatically. "Why are you in my castle? You've never been brave enough to come before." Jareth said, his head tilting in her general direction.

"I wasn't planning on it." Sarah remarked as she approached him. "It's just I came to visit and couldn't find anyone, I heard noises, and well..everyone was in here. They seemed upset, then Hoggle said you were gone and I...well..." She swallowed hard.

Jareth smirked at her, raising his brow. "You...what?"

"They said you...died."

It was Jareth's turn to laugh. "Ahh..my subjects. What blithering idiots they are. No need to worry love. Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Again."

Sarah found herself irritated at his blase' attitude. "Why would they think that, Jareth. Why would you just disappear? You can't just do that! People count on you! It's just wrong!"

He stood and looked down at her. "Why Sarah, I didn't know you cared."

He strolled down the steps and over to her. "If one didn't know better, one might think you were..." He paused, running his tongue over his sharp teeth, looking her over carefully. "Concerned for my welfare." He finished, grinning.

"Hmph. Don't be absurd. But I am concerned for theirs. They count on you you know." She reminded him again and glared up into his blue eyes.

His beautiful bright blue eyes, Ugh. Stop it.

He conceded to explain. "If you must know...I had what you humans call a cold. A fever, all that. Took to bed for a few days. I swear these fools..once I cut my finger and they went and wove a funeral sheath out a particularly prickly form of brambles. Which they left on my chair. Which I sat on. Imbeciles."

He shook his head.

Sarah giggled again. "Ohh. I..oh. If I knew you were sick I would have..." She stopped, blinking at her sudden tender feelings for the under the weather king.

"Made me chicken soup? Oh Sarah, such a precious thing." He stepped closer.

A gloved finger traced her cheekbone. "A very precious thing." He murmured.

Sarah took a deep breath. "Well anyway, I'm glad you're okay. I better get home." She announced, going to turn away.

He grabbed her arm. "Would you miss me?" He asked.

She scoffed, but the feeling in her gut told her he struck a nerve. She could never tell him that.

"Not really." She answered, waving a hand. "Can you please let me go?"

"You are lying, I saw it in your eyes. You WOULD miss me!" He grinned fully.

"Well I.. I mean..maybe if you weren't here, I would notice, and I would be...sort of bummed about that, for a day or two, but.." She stammered, her lower lip trembling.

He pulled her against him, his hands in her hair. "You would miss me." He said, softly.

Sarah couldn't recall how it happened, but the next thing she knew he was kissing her, and her heart was soaring at the sensation of his lips on hers.

She could not stop herself from melting into him, from kissing him back, from enjoying it.

For a moment it was bliss..then she began to feel uncomfortable.

She pulled away and looked around. Every pair of eyes were on them, gaping, staring, gasping as their king kissed their champion.

Jareth looked around too. "What are you all staring at! Turn away you idiots! No manners at all!"

He went to kiss her again and she pulled away. "No. That should not...you should not have...I definitely should not..." Sarah's brain try to gather itself.

"You're stuttering again dear. Not that I am surprised, my kisses have that affect."

His words made her ire rise again. "You arrogant, asinine, cocky..bastard." She said through clenched teeth.

He laughed. He kept laughing as he let her go and walked back up the stairs to his throne.

By the time he had sat back down, Sarah was angry.

"Jackass!" She yelled. "I would not miss you! I would dance! That is what I would do! I would throw a party!"

He stopped laughing and just watched her fume, amused.

How lovely you look when your passions are stirred up.

"It's alright, Sarah. I would miss you too, if you no longer visited us. That is why I leave the way open for you."

Sarah's mouth snapped shut. She gave him one more glare and a gesture to go with it, then turned to leave. "I'm going home. You had better not have given me your cold, or I'll be back with an iron skillet."

"Regicide is frowned upon in my world love. But you'll be back, and now that the ice has been broken..I'm sure we will speak again." He said to her retreating back.

"Goodbye, Your Majesty!" She growled as she went out the door and slammed them shut.

"Yes yes yes..run home. My sweet." He murmured. "Soon you will be back, and then you'll come back again." He smiled. "Then after that, someday, you will never leave, my dear beloved."

Jareth leaned back, his crop appearing in his hand. He tapped the top of his throne, deep in thought.

"Scribe!" He yelled suddenly.

A small goblin woman came forward. "Yes, Sire?"

"Write me a story. One of a grand adventure. One that involves a dashing king and lovely maiden, dark haired, green eyes, and in the end, she will become his queen. Can you do that?"

She nodded and bowed."Yes, My King."

She ran off to get to work.

Jareth got comfortable and smirked. "It's good to be The Goblin King."