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Title: Knew you at all
Summary: Sarah Williams wants to be a wizard.
Author's Notes: Crossover between the movie Labyrinth and Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. Co-written between [livejournal.com profile] katarik and [livejournal.com profile] ilyena_sylph.
Word count: 2688

Prologue


//Part of my problem,// Sarah thought ruefully as she snagged a copy of the script from the pile on the stage, //is that I always seem to be typecast.//

Almost anyone that looked at Sarah Williams would dismiss her as just another typical young dreamer girl; all long, loose dark hair and wide green eyes in a pale, pretty face. The fact that she typically wore something like her current off-white, creamy peasant blouse and pale ribbons in her hair, and carried them off with the ease of someone used to dealing with long sleeves and hair in her eyes, did not help to change that impression.

Someone looking more closely would notice her lack of jewelry, and her scuffed tennis shoes, and the fact that she looked at the theater as though she were calculating strategies for it, and wonder if she was as much of a dreamer as they had first thought. Most people wouldn't look that closely.

And because they wouldn't, in a play about wizards and witches and fairy princesses Sarah would doubtless be Princess No. 1, or whatever ridiculous name she might be given. She was hoping this audition for a thoroughly modern play would break that habit.

She glanced at her script, then froze.

Someone looking at Sarah Williams now would step backwards very quickly, and would not be subtle about it

She had seen the scripts when she came in. Simple slim paperback volumes that were scribbled on and dog-eared from years of players' use. What was in her hand now was still a slim paperback volume, but the words on the cover were So You Want to be a Wizard.

Staring at the book, Sarah ran her fingers over the stapled spine, feeling the quality of the paper. It was a cheap book, same texture as any high-school script, meant to be used for a few years and then discarded.

But Sarah had seen every script the school carried at least twice, and this title was not supposed to be here.

Sarah walked calmly to the back of the theater and slipped the book into her backpack. Then she returned to the front, got a new script, and opened it to flick through for the part she had planned to try out for.

***

When Sarah got home she smiled at Karen, waved absently at her father where he was working on one of his projects, bent to kiss Toby's grubby cheek, and -- routine finished -- headed upstairs to her room at as close to a dead run as she could get away with in the house. Then she pulled the book out of her backpack, sorting through Shakespeare and Bullfinch and Eliot to find it where it had nestled down in them.

She climbed up onto her bed once she had it in hand and settled in to look through the book. After Jareth, she hadn't avoided books -- the very thought had been horrifying. Sarah could no more avoid books than most people could avoid breathing; they were simply too important to her. She had, out of caution, avoided fantasy and instead switched to science-fiction and poetry and histories and classical mythology for the next couple of years. She'd read Toby stories about Athena and dragons which blew fire onto wriggling silver threads that ate the land for his bedtime rituals instead of tales about princesses and goblins and faeries. Books, and the worlds they showed her, had been Sarah's life and fuel for her dreams for years. Even now, even when she knew that the dreams could be real and could be more dangerous than she imagined, giving up dreaming would be worse than dying.

Karen hadn't understood why Sarah had suddenly stopped complaining about babysitting for several years, or why she occasionally had had to shake Sarah awake from where she had fallen asleep over Toby's crib with a book in her hands and a flashlight still on. She didn't know that it was easier for Sarah to sleep if she were the one watching Toby.

Sarah still had nightmares about Toby sometimes. Most of them involved empty cribs and silver-edged darkness.

Despite how well she knew that some books were dangerous, she opened the book anyway, reading down the chapter titles carefully. Her eyes widened as she read, "Preliminary Determinations: A Question of Aptitude." "Wizardly Preoccupation and Predilections." "Basic Equipment and Milieus." "Introduction to Spells, Binding, and Geasa." "Familiars and Helpmeets: Advice to the Initiate." "Psychotropic Spelling."

Most of the concepts on those pages Sarah was vaguely familiar with. She had read a lot of fantasy, before. The rules and conceits of fantasy were not easily forgotten, even so much later.

She'd never seen those rules written out quite like this. She had never seen geasa explained like the contracts that they were, with a table of terminology and a listing of the consequences for breaking one. She had never seen emphatic warnings before an explanation of psychotropic spelling theory regarding just why it would be a very bad idea for someone to attempt a spell to alter another thinking creature's mind.

Perhaps this wasn't a joke.

Most people probably would have assumed at the outset that the slim little book was practice for the senior prank. They would have laughed, waved it at their friends to pull them in on the joke, then perhaps tossed it back in the pile. Maybe buried it down among the others to see if they could startle someone else with it. Sarah, too, had assumed someone on the troupe was either playing an elaborate joke, or practicing a plot for their book or their next play.

What she had not done was taken it for granted that they were doing so.

Sarah continued flipping slowly through the book, but she stopped when she got to a page of type sitting alone in the middle of the page, looking quietly solemn and steady against the cheap, yellowing paper. She read through the words silently, her face setting into a contemplative, deliberate mask.

Someone looking at Sarah Williams now would have wondered what she was thinking, that her green eyes were so cold, and they might well have been a little afraid of this teenage girl and her serious, searching look.

If she had felt like giving that onlooker an answer, it would have fallen along these lines. She was thinking about Toby, and about a self-described "cowardly dwarf" who had saved her life, and about a ten-foot tusked orange monster who had nevertheless been the single kindest being Sarah had ever met, and about a small, fierce, courageous fox-knight and his sheepdog steed. She was thinking about a tiny goblin woman hunched under a load of rubbish she could not release, and about peaches with worms inside, and about sparkling ballrooms that were bounded by a crystal nutshell.

And she was thinking about the Goblin King; about both the smug condescension in his voice when she had made her wish and the stricken look on his face when Sarah had realized where the Labyrinth's power really lay.

She was thinking about life. All the petty little cruelties of it, and how she felt she had been punched when she realized what Ludo and Hoggle and Sir Didymus were willing to do for her. Because she'd said she was their friend.

She was thinking about duty, and the payment of debts, and about the fact that life was not fair, but sometimes you won anyway.

She was also -- and this was perhaps another reason that someone looking at her might be a little nervous -- thinking very seriously about consequences. She was recalling a dark-haired girl in jeans and a peasant blouse, her voice shaking as she stammered helplessly, "I didn't mean it!"

"What's said," another remembered voice replied, "Is said."

Words, Sarah was remembering, had power. That was also in the book. What was said was said, and could not be taken back simply because you had changed your mind.

Her voice, when she finally spoke, was very quiet.

"'In Life's name, and for Life's sake, I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will fight to guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so -- until Universe's end.'"


***

The aggravating portion of being a Senior, Carl decided, was the same aggravation that troubled management everywhere: the paperwork.

He had decided this before, but every time he checked the status and potential of a new wizard he made up his mind about it all over again, especially when the new names came up at ten o'clock at night when he'd been working out a late-night ad.

Then he looked more closely at WILLIAMS, SARAH, her age, her prospective power rating, and the Ordeal note next to her name (visible to Senior-level only), and he let out a quiet whistle. "Tom?"

His partner poked his head out of the kitchen, flour on his nose and an aggrieved expression on his face. "Yes?"

"The Powers just called a sixteen-year-old. There's a request for backup on her Ordeal."

Tom blinked, then he nodded and waved his hands in a quick gesture. "Give me ten minutes to finish the prep work for this spell and I'll come see."

Carl turned back to his manual, his eyes narrowed as he tried to get a sense of just what the Powers were up to this time.

Ordeals didn't normally get backup; not every potential wizard took the Oath, and of the ones that did not all of them were really cut out for wizardry. The Ordeal was designed to be a solo test, just the novice wizard against the Lone One in some form. There were always exceptions, like the pair of wizards that came to him and Tom for Advising, Nita and Kit, but even they had run into each other at least nominally accidentally. Accidentally, indeed, he thought with a snort. There were rarely true accidents in wizardry. For the Powers to request assistance for her before her Ordeal had even started... what would make that necessary?

His manual suddenly grew a little bit thicker as information began to appear next to Sarah Williams' name. Carl read, and his eyebrow notched a little higher as he did.

Tom, coming in to lean warm and flour-smelling over his shoulder, whistled softly in Carl's ear. "Firebrand before she was called, huh?"

"Looks like it."

The Goblin King didn't come up in most manuals. Wizards under the Advisory level, for instance, would probably assume you were only discussing a fairy tale. One of the harder things for wizards to get used to -- and it usually took until they weren't younger wizards any more -- was the fact that wizardry wasn't the only magic out there. Like this piece. He was an example of entropy made manifest from humans; the only relation he had to the Lone Power was coming about because of Its invention of death. If a wizard happened to run into the Goblin King while on her normal business, it was her duty to aid anyone attempting to recover what he had taken, but other than that interference was banned. Their style of magic couldn't solve everything. Wizardry needed wizards, and part of being a wizard was knowing when the Art was appropriate, and when it wasn't.

That was the other hard thing to get used to, once a wizard did know something about him. The Goblin King wasn't evil. He did what humans had made him to do -- the Goblin King took nothing that was not offered to him and always gave a chance for retrieval.

The Goblin King wasn't evil. He wasn't even bad. Every species, Carl knew, needed predators. Humans had just created their own.

But Sarah Williams had wished away her little brother, and then she had not just gone after him, she'd beaten the Goblin King at his own game. That was the weird part, when the prey won.

Which, now that Carl thought about it for a little while, was a very good explanation for why the Powers called her late. If she'd managed something like that all on her own... she would probably turn out to be a really good wizard.

"Somebody young," Tom said thoughtfully, resting his chin on Carl's shoulder as he talked, still looking over at the manual and its information. "She'll need somebody with the oomph she doesn't have."

"Dairine?" Carl suggested their own young firebrand, one of the most powerful wizards anyone had seen -- on Earth or off it -- for quite some time. Especially with her planet of mobile computer wizards to call on, if she needed the extra help. Between the mobiles and Dairine herself, not much could stand in their way. "Might distract her from Wellakh."

Tom shook his head, dark hair brushing over Carl's cheek lightly. "Too fiery. They wouldn't work well together, I think, and she wouldn't appreciate the distraction. Kit's steady, and not much older than Dairine. He could use a distraction from Ponch."

"Kit won't go without Nita," Carl pointed out. "They work better as a unit, anyway. And they could use the rest of an Ordeal that doesn't involve the Lone One as personally." Why the Powers had decided Sarah Williams would face the Goblin King again, rather than the Lone One head-on as was normal, Carl didn't know, and didn't want to. That wasn't his job, thank the Powers; he looked after what They sent him and They handled Their part.

Tom nodded against his shoulder, but his voice was slow and wary. "That One will probably show up anyway. You know It; It probably thinks this is a great chance to deal with a wizard before she has time to grow into what the Powers think she could be."

"Another good reason for Kit and Nita," Carl pointed out, and his smile was sharp. "They've gotten good at pulling victories out of places we wouldn't expect." He didn't mention the Song, and how stunned he'd been to see Kit and Nita come out of the water, where only Kit should have been. If he'd been willing to let her die alone... which Carl wasn't always certain he could be, even at the times he should be willing. There were moments Kit and Nita worried him.

He tried, often, not to think about what might be coming for Nita that a Power manifesting as the Master Shark had died for her. Not simply in the Lone One's spite, but for Nita. That was always the Master Shark's role, to spite the Lone One simply by... being the predator it was, but it should have taken Nita's sacrifice. Carl didn't want to think about what Nita's life was going to be like, if a Power like the Unfallen Destroyer had thought her important enough to dis-incarnate for.

Tom nodded again, more firmly. "They don't have anything active going on right now. I'll call Nita and tell her to grab Kit."

"Okay," Carl said absently, looking again at Sarah Williams' description in the manual. Something was niggling at him, and Carl had been a wizard long enough to know when to listen to the things the Powers couldn't tell you directly.

Something was still bothering him about this, but Carl wouldn't figure it out right now. Whatever it was could wait a little while, at least long enough for his subconscious to listen a little better. "Give it 'til morning, Tom. The Powers will give her a little time to get used to this first."

***



Chapter two is ...this way

crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] myriadwords
More chapters tomorrow, after we crosspost.

Date: 2009-01-17 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] second-batgirl.livejournal.com
This? Is awesome. *adores the entire premise massively*

Date: 2009-01-17 02:00 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (rhiow answer)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
Thank you so much, honey!!! +grins happily+

I am... way too fond of it, myself.

Date: 2009-01-17 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
I am still not sure why exactly my brain decided that Sarah needed to be a wizard, but once I *mentioned* it, well... *points to Ilyena*

Date: 2009-01-17 03:00 am (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Nate Ford sitting on a bench, Sophie Devereaux resting against his lap (Default)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
Don't even need canon to follow and enjoy this so far. Great job both of you.

Date: 2009-01-17 03:07 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (rhiow answer)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
Oh, thank you so much, baby!

I'm glad we're doing it well enough to bring you in with us. +beams contentedly+

Date: 2009-01-17 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
Thank you! I was really hoping that between the two of us we'd be able to craft a story that people who didn't have both canons could still enjoy.

Date: 2009-01-17 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foomf.livejournal.com
You've captured the Senior Wizards really well there. I had issues with the preface ... the Lone Power didn't ring true to me, and starting the story with the Enemy of Light seems, to me, to create an unwanted familiarity and comfort with the character. I was also unhappy with the outright telling of that relationship between Gareth and Lone - it would be stronger if it were revealed rather than expounded. I am not sure about Sarah matching my image of the character from the movie, but she doesn't ring false.

Taken all together, this has real promise and I'll definitely keep reading.

Date: 2009-01-17 03:13 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (smirk)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
*grins* Thank you for the compliments on Tom and Carl.

Sorry it didn't suit your taste, but *shrugs* to get the effect we wanted, we had to start with the Lone One. And neither of us wanted to see someone more familiar with the YW canon fall into a belief that Jareth was some kind of an Avatar or incarnation. Because it's kind of crucial for the story that he's not.

I'm glad Sarah works for you. And she should be at least somewhat different than the movie, she's had two more years to grow up.

thank you very much, and welcome!

Date: 2009-01-17 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
I confess, this particular version of the Lone Power is based very heavily on Esemeli, so persons who are more familiar with/prefer the less ambiguous versions probably wouldn't think this one was quite right.

I see your point re: Jareth, but, as Ilyena said, part of what we wanted to get across was that Jareth had nothing to do with the Lone One, and that needed to be done right out of the gate so that persons only familiar with one canon would know exactly what we were doing.

Sarah was mostly me, so I am glad that she doesn't ring false to you. I was trying to posit a Sarah who had taken to heart everything the Labyrinth had taught her, albeit one who was still a teenager and thus hadn't *finished* learning it yet.

I'm glad you like the Seniors! I adore Tom and Carl, I really do.

And I appreciate the time you took to both read and critique.

Date: 2009-01-18 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foomf.livejournal.com
Esmeli is much more of an 'interacts as people do' avatar.

Which leads me to wonder, since we see avatar-ness in several places, including the kid who took over for Pichu as the avatar of Michael Archangel.
I am beginning to wonder if that particular thing will be investigated by Ms. Duane in some upcoming story.

Edit note: Wow, I completely erased the sentence that made this into something sensible. Way to go!
Edited Date: 2009-01-18 06:09 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-18 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
I certainly hope so, especially since

SPOILERS FOR WIZARDS AT WAR



Ronan no longer hosts the Winged Defender, and Ponch isn't so much an avatar of the One as a portion of It.

END SPOILERS

But we do have the canon that those who serve the Powers themselves become the Powers, so...

Date: 2009-01-18 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foomf.livejournal.com
Need to get that book.

Date: 2009-01-17 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caia-comica.livejournal.com
This is amazing! I'm looking forward to the next bit.

Date: 2009-01-17 06:43 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (rhiow answer)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
I... wow. Thank you, so much!!!

Tomorrow, promise. +grins+

Date: 2009-01-17 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! *bounce bounce bounce* You are one of the people whose opinions I quite respect, so hearing that you are looking forward to the rest is a lovely thing. :D

Date: 2009-01-17 06:20 am (UTC)
ext_1186: shadows of utena and anthy (03)
From: [identity profile] rynia.livejournal.com
Oh man, it's going to be delightfully torturous to have this slowly released. That being sad, you took two of my favorite fantasy worlds and put them together, and I am incredibly excited to see how it'll turn out.

I think I understand [livejournal.com profile] foomf's discomfort with the interaction of the Lone Power and Jareth, but I also understand why it's necessary. One of the most emphatic points of the Young Wizards series is in the *choices* - Fighting entropy. Trying to ignore Tt. Actively taking Its gifts and all the horrors that come with. I want to hold more comment on it until I see Jareth in action and see more of the plot.

All the coherent responses aside, EEEEEEEEEEEEE, I feel like I've got a story custom-made for my hopeful side, and I'm going to be watching like a hawk for each new chapter. :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

(Also, oh *Nita*. What is going to happen to you *now*? You have so much more of Its attention than you could've ever expected.)

Date: 2009-01-17 06:41 am (UTC)
ext_1186: shadows of utena and anthy (Default)
From: [identity profile] rynia.livejournal.com
Oh, also, I'd love to rec this in my journal, if you don't mind. Would you rather I linked to the [livejournal.com profile] myriadwords posts or these here?

Date: 2009-01-17 06:42 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (rhiow answer)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
I truly do not care either way. Whichever suits you more.

Date: 2009-01-17 06:41 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (lone power: writhe)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
+grins+ oh, thank you so much!

Yeah, that's totally part of the reason we're doing it slow -- the rest of it is that it's 50+K and we don't want to blitz anyone out on it.

+laughs+ Yeah, I get the discomfort too, even if that's probably one of my two favorite scenes in the entire thing. It is... vaguely heavy handed, but we both felt like we needed to stomp on any and all ideas of Jareth as an avatar or incarnation of the Lone Power and nix them straight out of the gate. And yeah, choices and gifts and the ways reality gets changed because of belief or the lack of...

I hope we live up to your hopeful side, then. Because we are madly in love with both canons, and hey, when Redemption is the theme and the goal and all of the intent of one of the series... hope's a little easier.

(Oh, oh, THANK YOU! Yes, yes yes yes. You make me glee.)

Date: 2009-01-17 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katarik.livejournal.com
*bee hee hee* We are mean, mean people. :D

*nods* I get what he was saying, but that was one of the reasons we wanted Todd to beta, because both of us adore Jareth and he creeps Todd out, so. Todd! Make sure we are doing him right!

Hopefully we will live up to your hope!

(Really, really yes. She rewrote *reality*, rewrote *It*. It... keeps an eye on her.)

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