8- Falling...

The peach was poisoned. She took a bite and lost her strength. Sarah was shaking- she was dying. Her mind went black. She could see nothing- she didn't even feel like she was falling...

'Wake up! My Lady! My Lady?'

Sarah opened her eyes and stared into Sir Diddymus' black eyes.

'Sir Diddymus?' Sarah asked, still in a daze.

Sir Diddymus was worried. He'd been knocking for a few minutes, but had decided to go in when he heard no reply. The Lady was on the floor in a heap, her sheets tangled round her body, fists clenched, her face contorted in fear and confusion. Sir Diddymus immediately rushed to her side-having sent his trusty 'steed', Ambrosius, to find Hoggle.

'My Lady, everything will be all right now, I've sent Ambrosius to find Hoggle.' the fox comforted, 'I shall not leave your side.'

Sarah shook her head in understanding-but abruptly stopped because it sent everything spinning again. Weakly, she glanced at the forgotten fruit, and cursed Jareth inside her head. Why must he hurt her this way? She felt numb...hearing and seeing everything through a pane of frosted glass-blurred and unfocused. Sarah closed her eyes- hoping the waves of pain would fade away with her dreams.

'What is it? I'm busy.'

Hoggle grunted as he went to answer the door. Every time he got down to cataloguing his cache of trinkets, something always happened; Hoggle was beginning to think his collection cursed. Or he could be cursed- but Hoggle didn't waste a thought on that. It was also an added bonus that whenever anyone knocked on his door, they never announced themselves- causing Hoggle to give up asking the fruitless question. He hoped it wasn't Jareth...he hadn't wanted to give Sarah that 'gift' as Jareth had termed it. He also had no desire to be sealed in an Oubliette and forgotten about, nor was the idea of being thrown into the Bog of Eternal Stench appealing in the least-basically, Hoggle's hands were tied. Jareth didn't give 'gifts'- it was a Pandora's Box that he handed you, slyly smirking, 'Have fun', as he walked away.

By this time, Hoggle'd reached his door. His room wasn't very big in general...but Hoggle liked to take his time answering- in hopes whoever was waiting would get tired and leave before he got there. This approach usually failed; Jareth's servants were particularly insistient. Sighing, he swung open the door and was attacked by Ambrosius-whose sense of urgency knew no politeness. Hoggle knew it was completely pointless to try understanding what the dog was saying- only that deranged fox could-and he was the only one who bothered, anyway. Taking a moment to hide his stash of baubles, Hoggle followed the impatient mutt down the corridor, on the way to Sarah's room.

Hoggle stifled a yell as he saw Sarah on the floor, the cursed peach beside her. Thinking quickly, he sent Ambrosius to get a pillow to put under Sarah's head. Again, Hoggle silently cursed Jareth- the King never had any sense. Giving a Mortal girl an enchanted peach? Mortals, Hoggle had discovered, did not have the same tolerance for magical substances as he did. Sure, give them pretty tricks to watch and they were happy- it didn't take much to mystify them- but Hoggle had always found Jareth's magic too ornate.

When Sarah was about eight years old, Hoggle'd given her a cookie. The cookie was enchanted to make whoever ate it float. It gave Sarah something called a 'fever' and had kept her abed for three days. Hoggle still felt a twinge of guilt- he should never have given her the cookie. It was shortly after this unfortunate occurrence that Jareth had wanted to let Sarah visit his Labyrinth and to meet him in person. After a lengthy discussion with Hoggle, Jareth decided that she was still too young, and instead sent Ludo to play with Sarah for the first time. The two had become fast friends, and spent countless hours playing Sarah's favorite game- hide and seek.

As she grew up, Sarah used to read that little red book so often that Hoggle sometimes grew tired thinking about it. Jareth's patience had been long-lasting- waiting until Sarah was fifteen to finally 'meet' her. He still remembered her rapt attention as he explained who he was and why he'd come. She never said anything, but a silent gasp had escaped her mouth when Hoggle and the others had confirmed that they were 'real'. Jareth had just stood by and watched this exchange, too immersed in Sarah's reaction to his subjects. She had looked up at him with those brown eyes, silently questioning if this was all real.

Pushing these memories from his mind, Hoggle began to put things together again. He covered Sarah with a blanket, hoping she wasn't going to be in too much pain when she awoke- there was no way they could put her on the bed, she'd have to stay on the floor. He made himself comfortable beside Sarah, stroking her hair as she slept more peacefully- apparently adjusting to the aftermath of Jareth's spell quite nicely. Muttering softly under his breath, Hoggle motioned for Ambrosius to lay beside Sarah- this action provoking her hand to find a place in the dogs' soft fur. Hoggle smiled- this was a good sign.

Creeping away as not to wake Sarah, Hoggle left the room to find Jareth. After about an hour's search, Hoggle found His Goblinness in his study- reading Oscar Wilde. Feeling a presence in the room, Jareth lifted his blue gaze and focused on Hoggle.

'What is it?' he asked, fearing Sarah's sickness had worsened.

'Sarah's doing okay, we managed to get her onto her bed- she's resting now.' Hoggle replied.

A feeling of relief washed over Jareth like a wave.