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Fifteen years have passed since she took her brother home, but the Goblin King still comes to Sarah’s bedroom window in the shape of a snow-white owl.
He loved to watch the gangly coltish teenager with the ebony hair and the wide eyes, and with greedy gaze saw her grow from girl to woman, beautiful and proud. Sarah came out of the Labyrinth knowing herself and her own strength, and will never forget it.
He loved to watch her, but it is another that he waits for, now.
On this still night the owl circles and swoops, banks sharply and comes to rest, hooking its talons around the roughened bark of the tree whose branches hang over the nursery window. The owl blinks, and a gust of wind throws the window open with a bang, so that the panes are set a-shivering in their frames, curtains billowing back against the pastel-painted walls.
Sarah's brat wakes and begins to cry. The infant is a hale and hearty young thing, the screams it emits earsplitting, and he is again reminded why he prefers goblins to babies. But the shrieks serve their purpose - Jareth knows that it will not be long now.
Sure enough, there are soon hurried footsteps on the stairs; the owl flaps and flutters; and a heartbeat later Sarah's brother bursts into the room, mouth drawn down in displeased line and a hank of hair falling across his eyes.
Fifteen years is a long time for mortals. Leaves fall and winters thaw, spring is followed by golden summer after summer. The years that turned Sarah into a woman have likewise worked on young Toby with all their powers of transformation.
He still walks with the clumsiness of one not yet grown into his stature, but even in his stumbles there are the seeds of grace; and to the eyes of the Goblin King, he is as desirable as his sister ever was. Even to strangers Toby’s gaze can seem like a promise, for he always appears as though he is about to say something wonderful and strange. Whether this was a quality born within him, or a sign of his sojourn at the heart of the Labyrinth, it is impossible to say.
But Jareth, of course, suffers no doubts on that score. To the boy and his sister both, he would whisper: I made you who you are.
It is with a pang that the Goblin King can recall the babe he dandled on his knee and tossed into the air with careless hands, the child he once thought no more than the honey to bait the trap, to compare that dim memory with the brightness of this shining youth. But who would have known? Who could have foreseen? (Not even, it seems, those who shape us.)
Though in this moment, as Toby scowls and hurries across the room, he seems neither unearthly nor destined. He is an impatient teenage boy, nothing more and nothing less, when he lifts the child from its cot and bounces it in his arms.
The infant continues to squall, its pink fists flailing and pink mouth drooling, and Toby’s short store of patience wears dangerously thin. With a frustrated sound, he dumps the baby back into its cot and takes a step back, and suddenly, now, he stands on the edge of a precipice, clear enough for even mortals to see.
"Stop it, Robert," Toby says out loud and perhaps even to his own ears his voice sounds strange. "Stop it."
Thunder rumbles in the distance; the owl beats its wings; and far away, the goblins begin to whisper.
"I wish," Toby says fiercely, "I wish..."
The words are simple and deep in his heart the boy can remember them still. Surely, surely, it is only a matter of time before he gives in to his desires and lets them pass his lips.
But Sarah warned her brother well and tonight is not that fated night. Even as the lightning strikes Jareth can feel his moment passing and sure enough the words die in Toby's mouth, come out only as a an impatient sigh. The boy looks human again, now, as he picks up the child and turns away.
The goblins cease their whispers and the owl glides away, a white shape against the dark sky.
Yet he is not discontent - for there will be other nights, and he will be waiting.
Toby's version: Wish
Disclaimer: Labyrinth and associated characters are entirely and utterly the property of the Jim Henson Company, etc. This is a non-profit fanwork, completely unaffiliated and benign.