Feedback: Yes, thank you.
Spoilers: For the film.
Summary: Ludo goes for a walk to a different part of the Labyrinth and has a pair of unusual encounters.
Author’s Note: Written for fandom_charity for kattahj who requested a Labyrinth fic about one of the supporting characters. I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by the Jim Henson Company. Absolutely no copyright infringement intended, and I am making zero money off this.
ETA: 8-11-11 After several spam comments from what appear to be Russian bots to this fic, I have disabled all comments.
Ludo usually didn’t like going towards the center of the maze, not even when the Goblin King was off soaring through the skies of one world or another and Ludo was certain he wouldn’t be surprised by a sudden ruffling of white feathers. Something told him it just wasn’t a good place. The Goblin City was filled with, well, too many goblins, and most of the time they enjoyed playing games he didn’t like, games like Tie Ludo Up and Bite Him or See How Long It Takes Ludo to Cry or Hang Ludo Upside Down and Forget to Feed Him for a Week. He really didn’t like that last one. Ludo’s mind wasn’t terribly sharp, but he knew enough to stay out of the way of mean people.
But the outside edges of the Labyrinth were scary in a different way. He was near the very boarders of his world there, the last shreds of what he knew. It made him a little dizzy sometimes, thinking about a world where there were no walls at all. He liked the parts of the Labyrinth that were green and rich, the bits that looked like a garden, but when the walls became too smooth, he felt uneasy. The rocks were all chipped into identical bricks, all the same size and color, and he didn’t think they liked that. Most people didn’t really think about what rocks liked. People were funny that way.
Today, though, he’d gotten tired of the incessant games of Head Ball the Fireys were playing. There’s only just so many times you can get hit with a disembodied head until it starts to get annoying, and Ludo was far past that number by the time he wandered away, not sure where he was going. The Labyrinth was never a dull place, so he just let his feet take him where they wanted, and somehow he wound up not far from one of the main gates.
Tired, he sat down on the crumbling pavement, leaned his back against the bricks (while quietly howling a small apology in case he was bothering any of them), and stretched his legs out in front of him. It was very quiet here. In fact, the Labyrinth seemed to be always either too quiet or too loud. Quiet meant Ludo was lonely, and loud meant the goblins were picking on him again. Neither one was really very much fun, he thought as he stared up at the reddish sky above, watching clouds skitter into view and out again.
“’ello,” piped a very tiny voice nearby.
Ludo blinked once and frowned. The Eye Moss was asleep, and he didn’t see anyone else around, but when he looked to his left, he noticed a small animal peering up at him from its perch on the wall, nestled between crumbling bricks.
“Huh?” Ludo asked, squinting at the blue and cream smudge.
“’ello,” the little being repeated, sounding remarkably cheerful.
Ludo moved his shaggy head closer to it. He was actually quite near-sighted, though he tried not to let anyone know, and he found he rather liked the world to be blurry around the edges. Most of the time it was better that way. But when he saw the face that belonged to the voice, he decided it was definitely not the face of a goblin.
“Hi,” Ludo puffed out carefully, but the power of his breath blew the feathers on the little animal’s head wildly.
“That’s quite a set o’ lungs you’ve got there,” it said, blinking its eyes rapidly.
“Sorry,” Ludo said, drawing his face back a little.
He didn’t really like to talk much. It was hard work, turning thoughts into sounds, and most times people didn’t have the patience to understand what he meant anyway.
“S’alright, no ‘arm done,” the little fellow replied. “I ‘aven’t seen you around ‘ere before. What’s yer name?”
Ludo frowned again. He knew it wasn’t a wise idea to go around telling one’s name to people if you didn’t know them. Names had a lot of power in them. Even he knew that. But it had been so long since he’d heard someone else say his name that he thought it was worth the risk.
“Ludo,” he said, squatting by the hole in the wall to see him better.
“I’m the Worm,” the fellow said with a little laugh. “s’not much of a name, I know, but it fits I suppose. Do you like tea, by chance?”
“Tee?” Ludo asked apprehensively. Occasionally the Fireys teed up their heads before playing Head Golf. It really didn’t look like something he would want to try.
“Yeah, a nice cuppa. True, I don’t know as I’ve got a cup in your size, but all the same,” the worm said, shrugging his nonexistent shoulders.
“Uh,” Ludo said, looking from side to side nervously, but he couldn’t see a polite way out of it. “Okay?”
“Good!” the Worm said, smiling happily. “Haven’t had a cuppa with anyone but the Missus for a long while now. Folks are always in such a rush.”
He darted back into his hole, and Ludo sat back down to listen to a collection of thumps, clatterings, and crashes, looking doubtful all the while. He had made up his mind if the Worm came back with a cup full of tees, he’d do his best to politely but firmly run away.
His fears proved groundless, though, when the Worm returned, his tail curled protectively around a tiny china teacup. With an adroit flick, he raised the steaming cup towards Ludo without spilling so much as a drop. Very gently, and Ludo could be surprisingly gentle when he set his mind to it, he lifted the little cup. It was smaller than his littlest fingernail, and when he held it close to his eyes, he saw that it was patterned with little pink and yellow flowers. He smiled.
“Well, go on, go on! Take a sip, then!” the Worm urged him. “I’ve got my own here. Oh, I should have asked! Do you take cream or sugar?”
“Uh… no?” Ludo said, thinking this would be the easiest answer.
“Whew, good, because we’re fresh out of both,” the Worm said, then took a delicate sip from his own cup.
Ludo followed his example and carefully swallowed the few little drops from his cup, then looked up, smacking his lips thoughtfully.
“You like it?” the Worm asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” Ludo said, tipping his head to one side and smiling. “Good!”
“Glad to hear it! I… whoa!” the little Worm yelled as he was abruptly lifted into the air in one of Ludo’s furry hands.
“Worm nice,” Ludo said with great enthusiasm. “Like tea! More?”
“Um, I suppose so?” the Worm said uncertainly. “I must admit, I’m not very fond of heights. Would you be so good as too…?”
He motioned with his tail towards the ground.
“Oh,” Ludo said, embarrassed, as he carefully lowered him back to his home. “Sorry.”
“No trouble at all. The Missus quite likes heights, of course, but I never could get the hang of it,” he said as he crawled back into the wall and returned with a small pot of tea, filling Ludo’s cup again.
“Missus?” Ludo asked.
“Yeah, the wife, bless her. She’s out at the mo’ or I’d introduce you,” the Worm said. “I expect her home any time.”
Ludo drained his second cup of tea, and then his third, all the while listening to the Worm chatter on about the trouble with the fairies on the other side of the wall and the problems of mildew in mortar. He didn’t understand all of it, though the pesky fairies were something he had run across far too often (he usually dealt with the problem by sitting on them). It didn’t really matter though since he was enjoying himself with his new friend.
“Oh, say! There’s the Missus now!” the Worm said suddenly.
Ludo looked around on the ground, careful not to move his feet for fear of crushing the other little one, but he didn’t see her anywhere.
“Where?” Ludo asked, his brows drooping in confusion. He hoped he hadn’t accidentally squashed her.
“There!” the Worm said, and his tail pointed straight up.
“Huh?” Ludo asked, looking up, and then his mouth opened in shock.
Coming rapidly closer, her wings creating a stunning breeze down the maze corridor, was an enormous, fire-red dragon, her scales glistening gold in the sunlight.
Ludo continued staring, even though he knew it was rude, as the dragon, which was easily five times his size, landed softly on the pavement and then blew a small spout of flame in the air along with an ear-shattering bellow.
“His name’s Ludo, luv,” the Worm said. “Nice fella.”
The dragon looked at Ludo with vibrantly green eyes, her vertical pupils widening a little as though she were considering him. Ludo was pretty sure she was trying to decide whether he’d make a better appetizer if he was fried or broiled.
“Uh… thanks. Bye!” Ludo called as he sped away through one of the Labyrinth’s twists, darting with surprising speed in the direction of the Door Knockers.
“Well, that was abrupt,” the Worm said as he crawled towards the dragon and onto her outstretched paw. “Did you ‘ave good luck with your shopping?”
The dragon nodded and showed him a basket of radishes and apples hanging from her arm.
“Oh, apples! Lovely! Just what I wanted for my dinner,” the Worm said, and gave her a kiss on the nose. “Come inside.”
She put him back on the ground and watched him go in, then passed the fruits and vegetables in the door one at a time. When the last one was in, a puff of smoke obscured her from sight, and when it cleared, a little dragonfly buzzed happily into the hole in the wall, content to be home once more.
After all, in the Labyrinth, things are very rarely what they seem.