Wishful Thinking

Ending and Beginning

After walking for a while, It became sunrise again, and Stephanie came to a passageway framed by two statues that she recognized from her last adventure the labyrinth. “Hello, again,” she greeted them.

“Hmm? Do I know you?” the tall and bony statue asked, squinting at her.

“Ah, I do recognize your eyes,” the short and squat statue said. “You’re that dirty girl who solved our B-flat riddle.”

“Dirty girl?” the tall one asked.

“You remember. The one covered in in that smelly slime.”

“Oh, that one. Well this new look of yours is certainly an improvement over the last one.”

“I wasn’t covered in slime because I wanted to be,” Stephanie said. “Anyway, what are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to be at the acid lake.”

“We were, but we closed our eyes for a nap and woke up here,” the squat statue said.

“You still have to answer a music riddle if you want to pass,” the bony one said.

“Okay, let’s have it,” Stephanie said.

“What do you get when you drop a piano down a mineshaft?”

Stephanie thought about it and decided there must be a pun involved. “A-flat minor.”

“Oh, she did it again!” the short one said.

Jareth was unimpressed. “It’s really not that hard.”

“Then why don’t you answer one if you’re so smart?” the tall one asked. “What is the musical part of a snake?”

“The scales,” Jareth replied.

“Okay, maybe you are smart,” the tall statue said.

Stephanie started walking. “Bye, it was nice seeing you again,” she told them.

“You, too,” the short one said.

She and Jareth made their way through the twisting and turning walls of the labyrinth. Nothing of much interest happened until they fell down a trapdoor that led to an oubliette. There were no helping hands to soften the fall this time, so it was fortunate that it wasn’t a very long fall. It still hurt, though. The lid snapped shut, leaving them in darkness.

Remembering how Hoggle had made a door out of a bench the last time, Stephanie set Jareth down and started feeling around in the dark for something they could use.

“Very good, Stephanie,” he said. “A little to your left.” He could see better than her in the dark.

Stephanie felt to her left and found a bench. She felt all around it and found that there was a knob on the underside of it. So she stood it up vertically and kept walking until she found the wall. She put the bench up against the wall.

Jareth had followed her over. “Pick me up, and hold me in front of the door.”

Stephanie felt around for him and did as he asked. Jareth placed his taloned feet against the door. The humming of his magic grew louder for a moment.

“You can open the door now,” he told Stephanie.

She reached out and pulled on the knob. The door swung open on hinges, and she walked forward, right into a broom closet. She should’ve known. That had happened to Hoggle, too. She was about to step back out, when Jared said,

“What are you doing? Keep going.”

“Keep going?” she asked.

“Open the door in front of you.”

Stephanie reached out and found that there was another door. She opened it, and all the brooms and mops fell out of the closet in front of her. Stephanie stepped over them and looked around. She smiled. They were inside the castle.

“Now where do we go?” she asked.

“To the left,” Jareth said.

Stephanie continued to follow his directions until they came to the M.C. Escher room. Unlike last time, everything was still and static. It had the feeling of an abandoned toy that had run out of batteries.

“Jump,” Jareth said.

“Huh?” she said.

“Jump. The gravity of the different planes is still working.”

Stephanie held onto him and the sword and jumped. She landed on the plane that had been above them. She managed not to land on her head, but she was definitely going to be black and blue all over tomorrow between that jump and the fall into the oubliette.

Jareth waited for her to stand up again. “Go down, then walk over the edge of that plane.”

“You want me to what?” Stephanie asked, going down the stairs.

“Walk over the edge of the plane.”


“So you can get to the next step.”

Stephanie didn’t like how cryptic he was being. The drop from the edge of that plane to the next plane was a lot farther than the jump she had just made. It was a bone-breaking height. But she didn’t think Jareth would try to disable her now, not when they were so close. She decided to trust him.

Jareth could feel his magical power growing. Something other than admiration was stirring in him. She was brave and beautiful, selfless yet still still possessing pride. And that fire in her eyes. He could see why his brother was so taken with her. But it was different from what he had felt for Sarah. Sarah, he had wanted to possess and bend to his will. Stephanie… he didn’t know what to do with her.

Stephanie walked to the edge of the plane she was on and stuck one foot out. She squeezed her eyes shut and put all of her weight forward onto the foot. She felt stone under her foot. She took another step, more stone. She opened her eyes. She was standing on the underside of the plane she had just walked off of. Instead of falling, she had been pulled to stand where she was now. There was an open doorway in the wall by the plane.

“Go through there,” Jareth directed her.

Stephanie descended a long staircase and turned through several angles. They came out to one side of the throne. The vulture that was once perched over it had fled. The stone chamber of Jareth’s throne room was empty and deserted. The floor was still filthy. It was littered with bits of rotting meat and vegetable matter, garbage and junk. Stephanie didn’t want to step on it, but at least it had dried out and was no longer slippery or squishy.

She stepped toward the clock. It had fallen from the wall. The minute hand was still attached, and it was mostly intact, but the clock was so cracked that it looked like it might fall apart, and she was afraid to touch it. “What now?” she asked.

“Put the hand back on the clock,” Jareth replied.

“It looks like it will fall apart if I try that.”

“It will fall apart if you don’t.”

“Stop!” Jeremy shouted, appearing through the only other entrance to the room. “Think about what you’re doing, Stephanie.”

“I’m saving my friends,” Stephanie said.

“Friends?” Jeremy asked, stepping further into the room. He was holding a sword. “Don’t tell me you care for the repulsive little creatures living here.”

Stephanie frowned. “I think they’re interesting. The most repulsive one here is you.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“I think she does,” Jareth said.

“Someone as powerless as you would do better to keep their mouth shut,” Jeremy told him. “You can’t even fly anymore. Put him down, Stephanie. Let him walk on his own stubbly little legs.”

“What’s the matter, Jeremy? Jealous?”

“I’ll fry you up extra-crispy.” Jeremy raised his hand, preparing to hit Jareth with another bolt of lightning. Stephanie held onto him and turned away from Jeremy, shielding him. “Stephanie!”

“No!” she told him. “I won’t let you do it.”

“Very well. We’ll decide his fate in a duel.”

Stephanie was surprised. “A duel?”

“You have a sword, I have a sword. With my magic, I could easily overpower you. But with a fencing match, you might stand a chance. I’m giving you an opportunity to save him. Aren’t I generous?”

‘They’re definitely brothers,’ Stephanie thought. She was really tempted to look at Jareth and ask him how it felt to be on the receiving end, but she didn’t dare take her eyes off the enemy. “Fine. I accept.”

“Fighting him won’t be like fighting the goblins,” Jareth told her.

“I’m aware of that,” Stephanie said. But she was confident that she could win. As far as she knew, the only experience Jeremy had with fencing was choreography for plays.

“We’ll fight to the first blood. En-garde,” Jeremy said.

He and Stephanie took up their positions, adopting the correct stance. He was armed with a rapier, while she made use of the golden short sword. It was all she had.


Jeremy lunged, and Stephanie parried. The power behind his thrust was no joke, and his reach was longer than hers. Stephanie’s riposte was too shallow. He was able to evade it with ease. Stephanie moved closer, taking the risk of putting herself well within Jeremy’s attack range. All round the throne room, they continued their deadly dance. Stephanie was surprised by Jeremy’s prowess. He was much better than she had thought he would be.

She had no way of knowing, but Jeremy had centuries’ worth of experience with swordplay. But Jareth did know, and he was impressed with Stephanie for keeping up with his brother, especially when she was at a disadvantage.

Jeremy forced Stephanie down into the pit in the middle of the room, but she countered by swiping at his legs with her sword, forcing him to jump back, so she could jump out of the pit. She lunged repeatedly at him, targeting his legs as well as his torso and arms, but Jeremy continued to parry her.

He smiled. Wielding the sword in her hand had really made Stephanie come alive. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bright. “You always did prefer épée,” he said.

“When it comes to targets, you’re spoiled for choice,” Stephanie said.

“Indeed,” Jeremy agreed, and he began to target her whole body as well. Stephanie parried him. The clashing of their blades echoed through the room. “You’re so beautiful.”

Stephanie felt sick again. She nearly missed her opportunity to counterattack, but the feeling of sickness gave way to anger, and she followed through on her riposte, almost slicing Jeremy’s cheek.

“Time to get serious,” he said. Stephanie was alarmed when he came at her harder than ever, and she was driven back and trapped against the throne with their swords locked. She tried to fight him, pushing his blade back with hers, but he was stronger than her. He sword was inching closer to her bare shoulder.

There was nothing for it, Stephanie would have to use that. It was a tactic she normally would never use, but this wasn’t a normal bout. People’s lives were on the line. Stephanie kneed Jeremy in the groin, creating an opening that allowed her to push him off. As soon as he moved to come for her again, she lunged forward and nicked his cheek.

Jeremy stared at her. He held a hand up to his cheek and looked at the blood on his fingers. He couldn’t believe he had lost. His faced hardened. “You think you’ve won? I can see I’m going to have to take your hope away.”

“What are you talking about?” Stephanie asked warily, moving away from him to stand with Jareth.

Jeremy looked from her to the clock. “I may have given my word not to hurt Jareth, but that clock is another matter.”

Stephanie’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t. That would destroy this place! Don’t you want to rule it?”

“I couldn’t care less. Rule it?” Jeremy laughed. “I despise it here. All I want is Jareth’s power. Once I make that mine, I have no more use for this place.” The humming around him grew more intense, and a tornado formed in the room. Stephanie ran over to Jareth and the clock and tried to shield them. Shelves were ripped off the walls and the dirty debris on the floor was sucked up as the tornado moved around the room. Stephanie could feel it pulling on her. She lifted off the ground.

Jareth was concerned for her. “Stephanie!”

The cracks in the clock deepened. It was breaking apart.

“Jareth, I believe in you,” Stephanie yelled anxiously above the roaring wind as the tornado swept towards the clock, “so do something about this!”

Jeremy laughed at her. “It’s no use. You can’t just say the words. You have to truly believe.”

But she did believe, and Jareth found that he was bursting with magic again. The hollow humming Stephanie associated with his weakened magic grew full and strong. To Jeremy’s shock, Jareth transformed back into his humanoid form. Stephanie saw that his appearance seemed younger, and he no longer had grey in his hair, as he had the last time she saw him like that. He was wearing his cloak that shined like beetle wings and beneath was his dark armored chest-plate over a fitted black shirt. He was shod in black boots, over black tights, and on his hands were black gloves. The Goblin King conjured up a crystal ball and threw it at the tornado. The tornado was sucked into the crystal and sealed away, harmless as a paperweight.

“Nooo!” Jeremy shouted. He shot lightning at Jareth, but the Goblin King waved his hand and a shield appeared to block it.

Another crystal ball was in Jareth’s hand. It became two, then three, then four. They spun and danced in his hand. Jeremy tried another lightning attack, but Jareth tossed one of the crystal balls at it, and it turned into a lightning attack of equal power, and they cancelled each other out. Jareth tossed a second crystal ball at Stephanie and the clock. It made a stone wall between her and them, so Jeremy couldn’t target her. Jeremy tried a more powerful lightning attack, but he was thwarted again by another crystal ball. Jareth tossed the last crystal ball in his hand at Jeremy.

Jeremy caught it. “You’ll have to do better than that!”

“I have,” Jareth told him.

Jeremy’s expression turned to one of horror when he realized his hand that caught the crystal had turned to stone, and the effect was rapidly spreading down his arm to the rest of him. Jeremy tried to drop the crystal, but it was no use. His stone hand gripped it tightly. He raised his sword to hack the arm off, but the stone took over his torso and froze his raised arm in place.

“No! No!” Jeremy screamed. There was no stopping it. He was a solid stone statue within minutes.

Stephanie poked her head up above the wall Jareth had made to protect her. She saw that Jeremy had been defeated and stepped out from behind it. “Is he still alive?” she asked.

“He is and he isn’t,” Jareth replied. “He’s technically alive, but he has no awareness, and he will stay like this until his statue breaks.”

“Good,” Stephanie said, standing next to him while they both looked at Jeremy. “I don’t want him anywhere near me or my family.” There was just one problem. “But what am I going to tell them?”

“Don’t tell them anything. I’ll take care of that for you.”

“You will?”

“As long as you take care of the clock.”

Stephanie looked back at the wall between them and the clock. She walked around it and kneeled in front of the clock. “What do I do?”

“Put the hand you’re holding back on the clock,” Jareth replied.

Stephanie carefully did as he said, afraid it would break more when she touched it. But it didn’t. The clock held together.

Jareth made it hang on the wall again. “Now, repeat after me,” he told her. “O the clock that has been broken.”

“O the clock that has been broken.”

“Heal the hurt time.”

“Heal the hurt time.”

“Let’s hear it chime.”

“Let’s hear it chime.”

“Heed these words that I have spoken.”

“Heed these words that I have spoken.” Stephanie looked up at Jareth. “That’s it?”

“Not all spells have to sound like they were written by Shakespeare,” he said. “Sometimes the simplest ones are most effective.”

The hands on the clock began to move. They spun around until they pointed at thirteen o’clock. The clock chimed thirteen times.

Stephanie could feel a change with every chime. The rhythm of the humming in the air became less erratic and confused. It was steady and calm. Through a window, she could see the sky changing from sunset, to twilight to sunrise. It settled on sunrise. Jareth stepped over to the window and looked out at the labyrinth. Stephanie looked with him. From the castle, under the growing light, they could see all the schisms and the extensive damage that had been done. The schisms were sealing, and the floating isles were rejoining the rest of the labyrinth, and the damage to the castle was being undone.

But the chaotic arrangement of the labyrinth was unchanged. Everything had stopped moving about of its own accord, but other than that, it was just as jumbled up.

“I suppose I’ll have to fix it,” Jareth said. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to that. He had just gotten the labyrinth the way he wanted it before this happened. He was sure it would be a pain to sort everything out again.

“Sorry about that,” Stephanie said, though she didn’t look particularly apologetic, thanks to the smile of relief she was wearing, watching everything heal.

“You really do like this place, don’t you?” Jareth asked.

“I do,” Stephanie replied honestly.

“You’re welcome to stay here.”

Stephanie was surprised. “Really?” She looked out that the labyrinth again and smiled. “Thanks, but I have to get back home. Maybe I could some visit sometime?”

“I would like that,” Jareth said.

Stephanie was surprised again. “You would?”

Jareth was surprised as well. He really would. He didn’t want to say goodbye to Stephanie. In their short time together, she had become something more precious than a lover. “Just say your right words.”

“What are my right words?” she asked.

“I wish the Goblin King would come take me away, right now.”

“That seems a bit final,” Stephanie mused. She wouldn’t have to solve the labyrinth again to go home, would she? “How about: I wish I could visit the Goblin King, right now.”

“I suppose that will do.” Jareth wondered if she had seen through his attempt to keep her there.

Stephanie sighed, resting her chin against her hands as she leaned on the window sill. “I am going to miss this place.”

“Are you going to miss me?”

“Actually, yes.”

Jareth looked at her. “Really?”

Stephanie looked at him. “We’ve been through a lot together.”

It certainly felt that way. Jareth had lived for a long time, but he had never bonded with anyone like this. It had been a long time since he had trusted anyone the way he had trusted Stephanie. She believed in him, and he believed in her.

“What do you call it when two people believe in each other?” he asked her.

Stephanie was a little puzzled. Was he asking her a riddle? The answer seemed obvious. “Respect,” she said.

Respect. That was what he felt for her. Respect for an equal. She might be only human, with no magic of her own, but she had defeated his labyrinth twice. She had power, the power to overcome any obstacle. She didn’t need others to believe in her to succeed. She believed in herself. She was indomitable. Before, he had wanted to crush her, to see that strong will break. Now, he wanted to help her. It was a foreign feeling for him, to want to show unselfish support of another. He wasn’t sure how to go about it.

Everyone in Jareth’s realm was an island. If you did something for someone else, it was never an act of kindness but of calculation, an investment that would turn a percentage when you called on it. The verb “to give” was considered obscene. The verb “to love” connoted nothing but desire. But that wasn’t what he felt for Stephanie.

“Well, I’d better be getting home,” Stephanie said. “I wish I could see everyone before I go.” She wanted to make sure they were okay.

A crystal ball appeared in Jareth’s hand. “Look here, and you can see them,” he told her.

Stephanie peered into the ball and saw Hoggle with Beynon, who was reuniting with his parents as she watched. “Oh, thank goodness,” she said. Jareth spun the crystal ball around, and she saw that Ludo had found Sir Didymus. They were all safe.

Jareth watched her smile. She was so easy to please.

Jeremy had tried to use trickery and force and lost her. Jareth decided to bide his time and watch over Stephanie, for now. He had plenty of it, thanks to her.

“Close your eyes,” Jareth instructed Stephanie.

She did as he asked.

“Open them,” he said.

Stephanie opened her eyes, and she was back in her room. She and her dress were clean, and her shoes had been returned to her. “Oh, thank you,” she said. The dress was dry clean only, and she had been worried about what to tell her mother when she asked why it needed to be cleaned. “You fixed my clothes and shoes last time, too, didn’t you?”

“You did win, after all,” Jareth replied. “Stephanie,” he took her gloved hands in his, “I’m only one wish away, should you ever need me.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she told him with a grateful smile.

Jareth smiled back at her, fondly. Jareth took a step back from her and, with a bow and a whirl of his cape, turned back into an owl.

Stephanie opened her window for him, and he flew out into the evening twilight. “Goodbye,” she called after him. Stephanie leaned against the window frame and watched him soar, pure white under the moonlight. She smiled. She would never forget the Goblin King, and he would never forget her.

She watched him fly until he faded from sight, then she closed the window. Stephanie found herself wishing she could have said goodbye to the others as well. Their faces appeared like reflections in the window. Stephanie knew from previous experience that looking behind her would do no good, so she kept her eyes fixed on the window in front of her and smiled with relief.

“I’m so glad you’re all right,” she told them.

“Thanks to you,” Hoggle said.

“Stephanie—fix,” Ludo said.

“I’m glad you’re all right, too, Stephanie,” Beynon added.

“Aye, ye’ve done us proud,” Eynon said, while Aerfen smiled and nodded.

“I’m going to miss you,” she told them all.

“From what I hear, you can always visit,” Hoggle said.

“That’s true,” Stephanie agreed. “And maybe he’ll let me bring Sarah, too.”

“I’d like that.”

“I’m sure she would, too.”

They all said goodbye and faded from the window.

Stephanie sighed and fell back on her bed. Sarah was never going to believe this.

She heard her mother’s voice call out, “Stephanie!” There was happiness in her tone. Stephanie wondered how Jareth had ‘taken care of’ Jeremy’s sudden disappearance from their lives.

Her mother burst into her room. “Put on your glad rags, darling,” she said. “We’re going to celebrate!”

“You got the part?” Stephanie asked, sitting up. She was surprised she remembered so quickly. It felt like very long ago when she had found her mother’s note.

“Yes! Oh, I see you anticipated my success,” her mother said brightly, noticing her dress. Her mother looked so happy that Stephanie didn’t have the heart to correct her, not when she had just lost Jeremy because of her. “Come on, we’re going to that French restaurant you like.”

“Is Jeremy coming?” Stephanie asked carefully, testing the waters. Her mother turned her nose up in the air at the mention of his name.

“Hmph! You know he’s left us to move to London. I don’t want to hear his name mentioned ever again.”

“Yes, mother,” Stephanie answered. “Shall we start with dessert first?”

“You read my mind,” her mother said with a smile.

Stephanie smiled too. It looked like her mother would be all right.

“So, how was your day?”

“Oh,” Stephanie’s smile grew, “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

In his castle, Jareth watched Stephanie in a crystal ball and smiled.

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