The mother and the father, Irene and Robert Williams, were waiting anxiously at the couches in the center of the room. Robert paced while Irene waited by the phone on the coffee table.
A knock on the door interrupted their frantic thoughts. It was Irene who went to answer it, and it was Jareth who stood in the doorway. In his right arm was Toby, sleeping peacefully, and in his left hand was a letter written by Sarah. He smiled pleasantly.
“Toby!” Irene cried, taking Toby from his arms. “What’s going on? Why do you have my son?”
“I’m afraid it’s a very complex situation,” Jareth said. “May I come in?”
Irene glanced nervously over her shoulder, then back at Jareth. She smiled uncomfortably and moved aside to let him enter.
“I am Jareth,” he said, bowing at the waist. “King of the goblins,” he added as an afterthought, but it did nothing to solve their confusion. “Your daughter wanted me to deliver this to you,” Jareth said finally, handing the letter over to Robert.
It was Sarah’s last request that she was able to write a letter, presumably to explain what was going on although Jareth hadn't read it to be sure. Robert tore open the envelope. Irene leaned over to see what she could read of it. Front and back, from top to bottom, the page was filled with messy scribbles and ink drips as Sarah struggled to write with the quill and ink Jareth had provided. He watched them read with the forced coolness he had mastered over the years.
Slowly, they looked up at him.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Robert hissed slowly, afraid to ask the question but unable to hide his anger.
“As I said, it’s complex. You two weren’t here last night, were you? No, you couldn’t have been. While you were away, you left Sarah to babysit. And while she was babysitting, she wished her brother away to my land, the underground. The only way to get him back was to solve the labyrinth, but she couldn’t make it in time. So she took his place instead.”
They stared at him blankly.
“So you’re saying,” Irene whispered, “that Sarah is...gone? In this underground place?”
“Not an underground place, but the underground,” corrected Jareth. “It is, I suppose, my home. And we have certain rules there, including ones about the seriousness of wishes and of promises. She cannot take back what she said. It is only luck that she was given the opportunity to take his place at all.”
“And we’re supposed to be okay with this?” Robert said. “We’re just to accept it?”
“There’s nothing to do about it. One can’t leave the underground so easily.”
“But you’re here.”
“Ah. It takes a sort of magic to go between the underground and the aboveground. Perhaps she will be taught it someday.”
He hadn’t meant to say it out loud. He looked up sharply.
“You mean this is some sort of...dimension,” Irene said. She stepped forward. “Or realm or whatever you want to call it. And you’re saying you use magic to go back and forth between it. And that it can be taught to others.”
“Yes,” he said, for there was nothing else to say.
“Then teach her.”
“Teach her how to go between the realms.” Irene was nearly shouting at him now. She clutched Toby tightly to her chest. “You’d better not be lying to me, Jareth King of the Goblins. You teach my step-daughter how to come back her as soon as you can, and then you let her visit. Got it?”
Jareth put up his hands. “We’ll see.”
“There’s no seeing. You promise.”
“You want me to make a promise?”
“You said something about wishes and promises, didn’t you? I want you to promise me that you will teach Sarah how to come here.”
Jareth hesitated. “Time works differently in the underground, and magic is hard to master. What is weeks to us, her, will be years to you.”
“I don’t care how long it takes.”
Jareth looked at her, then at Robert. Then at Toby.
“I promise,” he said quietly, surrendering.
He took off before any more deals could be made.