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This prompt is for [livejournal.com profile] chaoticevil, who wanted Labyrinth fanfic with a darker, nastier Sarah.  Happy Xenothon, [livejournal.com profile] chaoticevil!  Warnings for emotional manipulation and coercion.

Fairy Tales


Sarah knows how stories work. She's read every book of fairy tales she can find. King Arthur, Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, she knows them all. Her life, she is certain, is a fairy tale; it's just a matter of getting the world to acknowledge it and behave accordingly.

The librarians, teachers, and relatives who gave her the books probably hoped that she'd be a princess. Everyone loves a princess. Sarah wouldn't mind being one, except that everyone forgets one thing: princesses become queens, and rule.

That is what Sarah wants. Oh, wealth is nice, glamour and fame too, but power, power is everything. She doesn't want to be a beautiful girl; she wants to be a powerful woman.

She knows how stories treat women with power. Evil stepmothers and witches, the lot of them. Women who get their hands dirty, murdering, poisoning, torturing everyone who stood in their way. Powerful women, frightening women, evil women.

Not a bad trade-off. Sarah lives in a privileged world, but it's not hers. It's her parents' world, and she's under their control, whether they use it or not. To make things worse, now she has a baby brother in the house, and she's lost all the leverage of sweet only child. They have someone new and cute and malleable to dote on, and they go to his beck and call, not hers.

It wouldn't be like this, in times past. Sarah wouldn't be just a teenager. She'd be an adult, with all the powers that came with it. Alexander the Great ruled at sixteen. Cleopatra was joint regent with her father at fourteen, a queen at eighteen, holding power over three million people.

But Sarah lives in the enlightened era of 1986. She has power over nothing. Except her baby brother.

When she wishes goblins to take him away, she doesn't expect anything to actually happen. But it does. And when the Goblin King tells her Toby won't come back unless she solves his labyrinth in thirteen hours, all she can think is that she could never fabricate a believable kidnapping story. She says yes.

Sarah knows her Greek mythology too. She knows right away that the Goblin King has a maze, not a labyrinth. You can't solve a labyrinth, because it only has one route, while mazes are full of dead ends and multiple passages.

This tells her two things. One, the Goblin King wants to impress her, so he throws out fancy words, even if they're wrong. Two, either he isn't that bright, or he thinks she isn't. Whichever mistake it is, it's the last he'll make.

Sarah knows how to solve a maze, but the structure is so colossal that she's uncertain she can solve it in time, and there might be—are—magical pitfalls. Besides, though the Goblin King obviously wants her to lose, he wouldn't give her a fighting chance unless he expected entertainment. She'll give him it. He wants a helpless, air headed little princess? She'll give him one, and take advantage of the planning time. If he wants a challenge or entertainment, he'll have to help.

So she blunders through the maze, making sure to stamp her feet and whine like the theatrical child he apparently expects. Her hunch proves right; the maze supplies her with helpers. Not ideal—helpers can be taken away—but Sarah takes it anyway. The knight and the powerful stone-beast buy her helpless act, but the dwarf seems to have his doubts. She catches him eyeing her suspiciously now and again. If anyone is going to betray her if she shows too much competence, it'll be him.

She's right, but when the dwarf gives her the peach, she has to conceal her incredulity. Why not give her a bright red apple with 'POISON' written on it and be done with it? Still, the maze isn't getting her to the Goblin King as quickly as she wants. Maybe this will speed things up. She eats.

When she opens her eyes again, she's at a masquerade ball. Promising. She sees velvet and pearls, and when she looks down, she's wearing a beautiful gown. Very promising. He's trying to impress her again, and disturb her too, judging by the grotesque masks. Maybe now she can finally deal with the Goblin King face to face, if she can find him...

For a minute or two, she wanders the crowd, but then there he is, removing his mask. He offers his hand to dance, and she takes it. Naturally, he's a better dancer than she is, but let him think her incompetent. It's more suiting of her role that way.

He's vain, she knows that much. And not the brightest. But he's confident and manipulative, willing to poison her one moment and charm her the next. Can she control him? Will she be able to overpower him? For a moment, she's not sure.

But then he starts talking. “Sarah, beware. I have been generous up til now. I can be cruel.”

Sarah has to resist a laugh. At him, for trying so hard, and at herself for worrying. Does he still truly think she's that malleable? Does he expect her not to recognize the need in his eyes, covered with bluster? He's the one trying to impress her with self-importance.

Keep him dancing. Keep him talking. “Generous? What have you done that's generous?”

“Everything! Everything you have wanted, I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me. I was frightening.”

He continues on, but Sarah's watching his face, not listening to his words. He's beautiful, and passionate, and he needs her. She can't match him in passive aggression, and seeing it in action, she doesn't really want to. But maybe...

“--I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn't that generous?”

Perhaps all he needs is--

“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”

And Sarah smiles, because she's had it wrong all this time. She's been trying to play the princess, because that's what everyone writes about, that's what people want. But he doesn't want a princess.

She steps forward, and he falls back. She moves again, too fast for him to catch her, grabs him by the front of his shirt, pulls him down to her level.

“You have no power over me,” she purrs. “And you don't want to.”

He gasps, and she knows that he and his world are hers.

Date: 2013-05-04 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaoticevil.livejournal.com
The bonus art is lovely, she has quite an appealing smirk, and my friend was cheered by the story. Thank you!
Edited Date: 2013-05-04 10:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Aw, I'm glad you and your friend liked it! To be honest, I very rarely write fanfiction--I find it far more difficult than people seem to think it is--so this was a great exercise for me. Thanks again!

Date: 2013-08-09 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allie mandell (from livejournal.com)
This is the best fanfiction I've read hands down. I just love how you took the whole little girl princess trope and turned it on it's head. I grew up with the Labyrinth and it was my favorite movie for a long time when I was small. Watch out David Bowie, there's a new queen in town ;) Just exquisite how you explained all Sarah's actions through the lens of scheming queen. Love the artwork too.

Date: 2013-08-09 03:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked it! I was never a Labyrinth fan, and I'm generally not much of a fanfic writer, but I enjoyed writing this one.

--Rogan

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