Sarah stood in the circle she created in the deep woods in the moonlight. She had waited for this perfect night, a Samhain with a full moon.
He appeared before her, as she'd hoped.
" Hello Sarah. Finally you have reached out to me. It's about time."
"It's been a long time, Jareth."
He grinned, his sharp teeth showing.
"Yes. You've aged magnificently. As I knew you would.".
She looked up at him, gauging his reaction. "Well, that's sort of the problem. I haven't aged much at all. I'm 100 years old today and, well I...obviously you see why I contacted you."
"I thought you humans had an unnatural craving for staying young. At least, looking young. Am I mistaken?"
"No, but there is a limit. At 100, if I'm even still living, I should be an old old woman. Yet, here I am. I haven't even started menopause, for fuck's sake."
The Goblin King examined her closer, then crossed his arms. "What do you want from me, Sarah Williams?"
"Answers. Did you do this to me?"
"No. You did this to yourself. You accepted my gift. You ate food of my world. The food itself would have left you touched, but accepting my magic, that made you like me."
"How did I accept your gift?" Sarah asked, startled by the revelation.
He waved his hand and held it out to her. "Look within."
She saw herself, standing on the platform in the ruins of his castle, reciting those lines she remembered so well. Though the book had been gone the day after her adventure, she still had it memorized.
" Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered,
I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City
to take back the child that you have stolen,
for my will is as strong as yours,
and my kingdom is as great.
Yo u have no power over me."
As the Goblin King melted into his owl form in front of her,
The crystal became a bubble, a bubble that landed on her fingers.
She popped it, the droplets landing onto her hand and disappearing into her skin.
Jareth closed his hand, and the crystal disappeared. "There. In the end, you couldn't resist. Touching the crystal meant you accepted my gift."
"But...but I came home!"
"Oh? Did you? Or has your entire life been simply an illusion? To show you what would have been?" He leaned against a tree and he shimmered. The tree shimmered. The entire scene began to shimmer.
"Oh God...Toby." Sarah felt a fear rise up her body.
Have I been living in a dream?
"If it's any comfort. Toby awoke in his crib. Your parent's precious son saved by his heroic sister from the evil Goblin King." You won the boy back after all. I'm nothing if not...fair."
" Where am I? What did you do to me?!"
" I did nothing, Sarah. And you know very well where you are."
"My family..." Sarah sat down on the ground, sobbing into her hands.
"Dead, as humans do end up eventually. Toby recently, at 83. He had a good life. I wiped the memory of you, as was necessary. That you disappeared would have been torture for them."
The ground started shaking. "What, what's happening?" She scooted to a tree and held on for dear life. " Jareth?"
He smiled and disappeared.
Sarah screamed. She sat up, the nightmare dissipating. She couldn't even remember what it was about, but she knew it had been terrifying. Her heart was, pounding.
She turned to see her husband, her King, looking at her with concern. "I'm...okay. I think. Just a bad dream."
"Oh dearest. Please, tell me about it." He took her into his arms and pulled her over, laying back so Sarah's head lay on his bare chest.
She said nothing until her hear rate returned to normal. "I don't remember. I know I was walking through...a forest?" That's all I can recall."
" There there, my love. You're safe here with me. Forever safe. Nothing can hurt you here. Never again. I swear it, my Queen. Go back to sleep. I'll protect you. "
She yawned and snuggled against him. "Mmm. I do feel sleepy again. You promise you'll keep the nightmares at bay?"
"Of course. Sweet dreams only now, for the rest of eternity."
As she fell back to sleep, The Goblin King created a crystal. Satisfied with what he saw, the crystal disappeared and he smiled down at his Sarah, safe by his side.
:WLBH NEWS BULLETIN:
The human remains found in the woods by hikers recently were found to be the remains of a one Sarah Williams, missing since she was 15 years old, nearly 85 years ago. She was never reported missing in her lifetime, her disappearance only coming to light with the discovery of her remains. It's like the world forgot she existed until now. Her parents and brother are deceased, and his descendants have no memories of her name being mentioned. It's a mystery that will likely never be solved. The only clue, a tattered red book found near the body, along with a few owl feathers and, oddly, the undamaged bones were covered in glitter.
Services and internment will be private.