Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 10 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

Jareth awoke the next morning to find Sarah curled up against his side, one hand resting on his chest. He watched her sleep for a moment and gently pushed her hair away from her face, careful not to wake her. He knew that she must be exhausted. She'd barely slept the two nights previous and last night, after that initial frantic need had been gratified, he'd spent most of the night using skills derived from several hundred years' experience to thoroughly sate her.

Sarah had been correct; he did know that humans found the Leanan Sidhe unusually seductive. But he felt no remorse at using an innate allure as another thread to bind her to him; he loved her and wanted her to desire him above all others. If it helped to serve his purpose, then so much the better.

He had wanted to tell her that he loved her last night, but she'd stopped him before he could say it, preferring to allow her declaration to stand alone. Now, upon reflection, it occurred to him that Sarah had only said that she was falling in love with him. Not that she loved him. It was a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Both his nature and his training made the thought of giving anyone an advantage over him an uncomfortable prospect. He was so close to completely winning her heart. Perhaps it would be best to wait until he was totally certain she loved him before revealing his own feelings.

He took a quick glance at the clock and saw that it was time to begin preparations for the day. He rose, still being careful not to wake her. He smiled as she made a small contented noise and snuggled deeper into the bedclothes.

She should be allowed to sleep as long as she was able, he thought with a grin. After all, he intended to exhaust her again tonight.


Jareth was at breakfast when Ethain arrived carrying several envelopes.

"Good morning, Your Majesty. Did you enjoy dinner?" Ethain asked with a smile.

"Yes, very much," Jareth said in a casual voice, then nodded toward the envelopes. "Those must be important if you've brought them to the breakfast table."

If it had been anyone other than Ethain, Jareth might have been convincing. But Ethain instantly knew that the evening must have gone very well indeed. Jareth wouldn't have attempted to deflect interest so quickly if it hadn't.

"These invitations arrived by courier last night. I didn't wish to interrupt your evening." Ethain laid them down by Jareth's plate. "It seems that Lady Vivienne and Lord Marcan are giving a dinner party tomorrow night. We've all received invitations--you, Brennan and myself. And, of course, the guest of honor has received her invitation."

Ethain turned the last invitation over so that Jareth could see Sarah's name written in elaborate script.

Jareth glanced sharply up at Ethain. "It was inevitable, but I had hoped for more time."

"We could decline," Ethain suggested. "Claim a previous engagement. It's not as if any of them will be serious about challenging you. This is simply an opportunity to gawk. And, I believe, for Vivienne to obtain a bit of revenge."

Jareth shook his head slowly. "Declining would only be a delaying tactic. They would begin making excuses to visit here. And I'm not sure that this is Vivienne's attempt at revenge, she will certainly have assumed that Sarah knows the circumstances. Perhaps Vivienne is trying to be helpful. At least there we can control the situation."

Ethain looked at Jareth in disbelief, but said only, "How does Vivienne know about Sarah? Did you tell her?"

"No, but where there are servants, there is gossip. I suppose the news has already traveled throughout the Underground," Jareth continued, turning Sarah's invitation over in his hands.

"Have you fully explained the consequences to Sarah of her return?" Ethain asked.

"I shall tonight." Jareth's mouth tightened into a thin line. "I think she's sensible enough to realize that using her to produce children is not the reason I've brought her here." His voice lowered, "She may, however, react badly to the rest of it."

Ethain looked at him askance, "If I were you, I'd wait until well after sparring practice. I certainly wouldn't give her that news while she still has easy access to a weapon."


Sarah slowly came awake and sleepily slid one arm out, searching for Jareth. But instead of the warm body she was expecting, her questing fingers found something very soft and velvety. Something--ouch--that had thorns.

Opening her eyes, she stuck her finger into her mouth and sucked at the tiny scratch and looked at the red rose lying on Jareth's pillow. It had a note beside it.

I've forbidden the servants to enter my chambers. I thought it best that you sleep as long as possible. While I am particularly fond of the gown you wore last night, I'm not certain the serving staff would appreciate it as much as I did. The cloak will provide adequate concealment from prying eyes should you leave my chambers.

I will be thinking of you. Until tonight, Jareth.

She looked down and saw a cloak thrown across the foot of the bed. Glancing over at the clock, she felt her mouth drop open in astonishment. It was past one o'clock. While she now felt wonderfully refreshed, she'd slept most of the day away.

Well, she thought with a blush, I had good reason to be tired. He'd been so gentle with her, so tender. She stretched luxuriously and thought, No more doubt. I'm going to tell him that I love him tonight.

With a smile, she threw back the bedcovers and began gathering up her clothing.


If Ethain had harbored any doubts about the current nature of the relationship between Jareth and Sarah, they were banished at dinner. From the moment Sarah entered the room, he knew that the two had become lovers.

The first sign was Sarah's quick smile and slow blush at the sight of Jareth. The second was Jareth's unfailingly polite manner but possessive body language. His hand lingered at the small of Sarah's back as he guided her to her chair and he leaned into her a bit too closely. When he seated her, he deliberately bent down and inquired after her health. The way Sarah's eyes had half closed at the sound of Jareth's voice in her ear was unmistakable.

Ethain glanced at Brennan to see if he, too, had noticed the exchange. Brennan was grinning widely, his eyes moving from Jareth to Sarah and back again. He looked back at Ethain and shrugged as if to say, "Well, what did you expect?"

Throughout the meal, the two of them barely managed to focus on anyone else and on one occasion Ethain caught Sarah staring at Jareth's gloved hands while Jareth smirked at her.

Brennan glanced over at Ethain and just shook his head wryly. He cleared his throat and said, "If you've finished your meal, Sarah, I'd like to begin your fencing lesson. We have a lot of material to cover tonight."

Startled, she looked up and flushed. With an awkward smile, she stood and said, "I'll just go change." As she left, she sent a warm look in Jareth's direction.

The men rose and after she'd exited, Brennan looked pointedly at Jareth. "I don't want an audience for her training tonight. She needs to concentrate. She doesn't need distractions."

Jareth raised an eyebrow and drawled, "What is that supposed to mean?"

Brennan laughed. "Even a blind man could see the way you two are mooning over each other. At least allow me to have her undivided attention for an hour. I promise to return her unscathed. And then we'll ask her to stay through our practice and distract you."


In the sparring room, Brennan said he wanted to talk to her and gestured for Sarah to sit on the bench while he spoke.

"We're going to begin your actual training tonight. I've given the matter a lot of thought and I've come to the decision that you should be trained differently than anyone I've trained before. From now on, we'll dispense with the salute and the en garde and concentrate on your attack."

"Why?" Sarah seemed surprised. The salute and the en garde were traditional in fencing. To omit them was considered a serious transgression.

Brennan looked at her steadily. "Should you ever find yourself facing a serious opponent, you'll probably be outclassed in both skill and experience. Your biggest advantage will be that no one expects a woman to fight with any ability. In my estimation, you could have as little as five seconds before your opponent realizes that you are a danger to him. Therefore, I'm going to train you to go for the kill with no warning."

Sarah felt shocked; it sounded so cold and brutal.

Brennan noticed her expression. "I have my reservations about training you, Sarah. I'm not certain that you have it in you to kill without hesitation." Sarah opened her mouth to protest and Brennan cut her off.

"There's nothing wrong with being reluctant to kill. In most cases, it would be an admirable quality. In battle, however, that hesitation will prove fatal. As I've told you before, fencing in the Underground isn't competition, it's combat and the point of this training is to teach you to survive. The fencing you've done in the Aboveworld has given you the necessary skills. Now you must cultivate the necessary attitude."


By the time her lesson was over, Sarah was ready to scream. She'd performed the same maneuver over and over and still Brennan wasn't satisfied. He'd driven her to react faster, to recognize the threat and go into the attack more quickly. Finally, with a frown, he'd told her that he knew breaking eight years of training would be difficult. But, he insisted, she would learn to overcome that training and adhere to his way of doing things.

Before Jareth and Ethain arrived, Sarah went up to her room to change her clothes. When she came back to the sparring room, Jareth and Ethain were already in the middle of a bout. This was the first time that she'd seen Ethain fence and saw that he was just as skilled as Jareth and Brennan.

As Sarah watched the two men fencing, she realized again their grace and ability. The men were fiercely intent upon besting the other, and their swords moved at lightning speed. With a sinking heart, she understood that Brennan was right. She'd never be able to defeat anyone of such skill in a structured bout. If she ever ended up with a sword in her hand, fighting for her life, she would only have one opportunity to come out of it alive.


When sparring practice had ended, Sarah was surprised when first Brennan and then Ethain gave elaborate yawns and professed to be far too tired to keep their eyes open any longer. They made their apologies and said they'd be unable to join Sarah and Jareth in the library for the customary brandy.

Sarah looked at them both suspiciously and caught the hint of amusement in Brennan's eyes before Brennan looked away and she saw Ethain's quickly smothered smile. Her eyes narrowed as she searched the two men's faces and their suddenly innocent expressions were almost laughable. She turned to Jareth, who merely shrugged elegantly, and gestured toward the door.

"Did you ask them not to go to the library with us?" Sarah asked as they walked through the hallways.

"Would I do such a thing?" Jareth said with a smile.

"Yes, I believe you would," Sarah laughed, as they arrived at the library.

Once inside, Jareth immediately closed the doors. "I've been thinking of doing this all day," he murmured. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her thoroughly.

She responded eagerly and felt his hands slip under her blouse to caress her back. She pressed closer to him and then felt him pull away.

"I have to tell you something," Jareth said somewhat reluctantly.

Sarah smiled, "I have something to tell you, too. But you go first."

He led her to the chairs in front of the fireplace with a strangely regretful expression and sat beside her. "We have received an invitation to a dinner party given in your honor tomorrow night."

"In my honor? Given by who?" she asked, surprised.

"Lady Vivienne and Lord Marcan. They are half brother and sister. Though Marcan is my cousin, Vivienne and I are not related," he explained.

"Oh, they're family and friends of yours. Did you ask them to give a party for me?" Sarah gave a pleased smile. Her smile faded when Jareth didn't respond. "What's wrong?"

"You'll undoubtedly hear it tomorrow night... Vivienne and I had a relationship in the past," Jareth said.

"I see," Sarah said uncomfortably. "Well, I didn't expect that you would have been a monk. But, um, the relationship is over?"

"Yes, it's over," Jareth said flatly.

"Did you ask her to give the party for me?" Sarah desperately wanted to ask questions about his relationship with this woman, but told herself that it wasn't any of her business and shoved those questions aside.

"No, I didn't ask her to do this," Jareth said grimly, "The point of the party is to force me to display you."

"Display me? For what?" She was confused.

"As I've told you, the Fae have few offspring. It is extremely difficult for Fae women to conceive children. Human women do not have this difficulty." Jareth looked at her closely.

"And it's possible for a human and a Fae to have a child together?" she asked, beginning to understand.

He smiled faintly, "Yes, very possible."

"Would the baby be human or Fae?" She asked.

"It would depend on whether or not the woman remained in the Underground throughout her pregnancy. If she does, the magic nourishes the child in the womb and the child will be born Fae. However, if she returns to the Aboveworld while carrying the baby, even for a moment, then the child loses the magic and will be born human."

He tilted his head and watched as she nodded her understanding, then he continued. "I've never before brought a mortal woman into the Underground for a second time. Since you cannot leave, it will be assumed by most that I brought you here because I wish to have an heir."

She looked unsettled for a moment and then asked quietly, "Is that why you brought me here?"

"No, of course not," Jareth said vehemently. "I brought you here because you were ill. Your ability to bear children was not a part of my decision."

Sarah sat, silently looking into his eyes. Then, to his surprise, she smiled slyly. "I believe you. If that was why you'd brought me here, you'd have been nicer to me from the beginning."

Jareth had the good grace to look sheepish for a moment.

Sarah said with a teasing expression, "So, you're supposed to show me off because of the baby thing? Lord it over the rest of them that you have a brood mare and they don't?"

Jareth winced at her choice of words. "No, the gathering is so that the single men invited may decide if they wish to issue a challenge for you."

"Challenge? Like a fight?" She asked slowly, her good humor fading.

"A duel, actually," Jareth said with a raised eyebrow.

She sat, stunned for a moment, and then burst out, "A duel? That's idiotic! I'm not some sort of prize to be dueled over. Why would they have to challenge you? Why not just ask to court me? I could turn them down and that would be the end of it."

"Because they can't court you. You wished yourself over to me, you belong to me." Jareth said evenly.

"I keep being told that," she frowned. "What do you mean, 'belong to you?' It sounds like I'm a possession or a piece of property."

Jareth hesitated.

"I don't view you that way," he said softly.

Comprehension slammed into her and Sarah felt sick. "But you could view me that way?" she asked. "If you wanted to?"

He didn't answer.

"So that's what you meant that first night when you said you do have power over me."

Her voice began to rise. "Could you sell me? Or give me away to somebody else?"

"I would never do that," Jareth said quietly.

She was his slave, she realized. She had no rights, no value beyond that which he assigned her. Sarah felt a dull pain grip her heart and she felt as if she couldn't catch her breath. What would happen when he didn't want her anymore?

She finally choked out, "Never is a very long time, Jareth."

She stood up and looked around the room, anywhere but at him. She dug her fingernails into her palms to keep her hands from trembling.

She gave a shaky laugh. "When Ethain or Brennan do a really good job at something, you can always just send me over for a little visit as a show of appreciation. Like a Christmas bonus."

Jareth rose to face her, his jaw clenched and his eyes cold. "You go too far, Sarah," he warned.

She didn't listen.

"And when you get tired of me, you can just hand me over to somebody else. You won't have to bother with me again. It's not as if I'll have any say in it." Her voice was bitter.

Jareth's voice went deadly, "You are correct about one thing, Sarah, never is a very long time. You are mine and I will never allow another man to touch you."

She finally looked at him.

"Never? Oh, really?" she sneered. "Don't bother telling me that, I know all about "never." It only lasts as long as it's convenient." She tossed her head and turned away from him.

Before he thought, he reached out, grabbed her by the upper arms and swung her back to face him. "I'm not certain who you're comparing me to, Sarah, but it would be wise for you to stop now," he snapped.

"Or what? What are you going to do to me?" She gave a scornful laugh and then widened her eyes in mock understanding. "Oh, that's right, anything you damn well please." She looked pointedly at his hands gripping her arms.

Jareth followed her gaze and immediately released her.

Sarah looked at Jareth and felt something shrieking inside. She'd wanted to tell him that she loved him tonight. But now, she realized, she really didn't know how he felt about her. He'd never told her. She'd been so intent on seducing him that she'd never allowed him to say.

She opened her mouth to ask him what he felt for her and then shut it abruptly. If he said anything other than that he loved her, what would she do? What could she do? And if he did love her, wouldn't it be worse? Wouldn't it just hurt worse when he finally did get rid of her?

She had to get out of there; she couldn't breathe, she couldn't think. She felt tears well up in her eyes and barely had time to register Jareth's surprised look as she turned and rushed out of the room.


Jareth watched Sarah leave the room and started to go after her. Stopping at the doorway, he changed his mind. It would be best if they both had a moment to calm down. How did that woman manage infuriate him so easily?

He'd made it clear that he didn't consider her to be his property and that he would never give her to someone else. She'd said she trusted him, so why couldn't she believe him? Why did she expect...

At that, something occurred to him. Something from her previous visit that he'd always found intriguing. Mulling her words over in his mind, he found they had a pattern.


Sarah had no idea where she was going; she just walked blindly. Her feet instinctively took her back to the sparring room. She still couldn't seem to catch her breath and her mind was in turmoil.

She wandered around the room, staring blankly at the weapons on display. Before she could stop herself, she grabbed a staff and started slamming it viciously against the stone wall. The harder she hit the wall, the less self-control she had and in just a few moments she was screaming aloud and the staff was splintering against the stone. Finally, her rage spent, the shattered wood slipped through her fingers and clattered to the floor. She sank to her knees, breathing heavily.

She heard running footsteps and looked over to see Ethain burst into the room.

"Sarah, I heard you scream. What's wrong?"

She looked up and regarded Ethain coldly. "Did you know?"

Ethain was immediately on guard. "Know what?"

"That I'm his property," she said through gritted teeth. "That he can just give me away anytime he wants."

Ethain sighed. Obviously Sarah had taken the situation as badly as he had feared.

"I know that some could consider you such. I also know that Jareth does not," Ethain said softly.

"Really? I'd say the phrase "you are mine" implies otherwise." The tears were back in her eyes, but she swallowed them down. She refused to cry over this.

Ethain walked over to her and held out his hand. She ignored it and climbed to her feet.

"I would think it would depend upon the context in which that phrase was said." Ethain said, watching her carefully.

"How about, "You are mine and I'll never allow another..." Sarah stopped abruptly. That wasn't any of Ethain's business. Even if she did suspect that he and Brennan already knew that her relationship with Jareth had changed, it wasn't something she wanted to talk about with Ethain.

Ethain, however, had other ideas. "Sarah, may I be frank?"

She nodded.

"If you take a king for a lover, you really shouldn't be surprised when he acts like a king." Ethain's tone was chastising.

Sarah flushed bright red.

Ethain's expression softened. "I didn't mean to embarrass you. Normally, I would never presume to discuss this with you, but these are not normal circumstances."

"Just because he's the King doesn't mean he should get to own me," Sarah said defiantly. "He doesn't own you."

Ethain laughed. "In a way, he does. In a way, he owns all his subjects."

"What do you mean?" she asked, scowling.

"He can order us to war or surrender us into defeat, he sets the laws we obey and judges us for our crimes. Any command he gives is to be obeyed without question. He may even arrange our marriages."

Sarah seemed surprised. "I didn't think that happened anymore."

"Perhaps not in the Aboveworld, but if he deemed it necessary, His Majesty could arrange my marriage to a woman who holds lands or has political influence that will benefit this kingdom. In exchange, as my wife, she'll become a Duchess."

"But what if you don't love her?"

"Love has little to do with most Fae marriages, Sarah, particularly marriages between the nobility. They are undertaken to benefit both parties, not for love."

"That's horrible," she said.

He gave a small smile and then shrugged, "I will admit that I sometimes envy you humans your ability to love so passionately. That type of love is something that most Fae never feel."

She looked stricken, "Aren't the Fae capable of love?"

Ethain shook his head at her and smiled at her expression. "I didn't say that we weren't capable of it. And I said most Fae never feel it, but there are those who do."

She looked at him for a long time and her eyes became uncertain. "It's just... I've never been a thing to be owned before. I don't know how to react to that." She threw up her hands.

"Are we back to this? I understand that he's given you more freedom than any other person in this kingdom. Do you really believe that he feels you are a thing to be owned?"

"No," she looked down. "I don't know. I don't know how he feels about me. What happens when he gets tired of me? What happens to me then?"

"I believe those are questions you should be asking of me," Jareth said quietly.

Sarah turned to see him leaning against the door, his arms crossed.

"Thank you, Ethain, but you may go." Jareth said.

Ethain shot her a reassuring look, and made a slight bow in Jareth's direction before leaving the room.

"How long have you been standing there?" she asked.

"Since shortly after Ethain found you." Jareth began walking toward her.

"Why didn't you say something?" Sarah couldn't quite meet his eyes.

"Because I wanted to know why you refuse to understand that I don't view you as a possession." He tilted his head to catch her eye. "And I want to know why you assume that I'll betray you."

"What?" Sarah said, confused.

"Each time you've said "when" I get tired of you. Not "if," or "should." You assume that I'll grow weary of you and give you away to someone else."

"You could," she said quickly.

"I could, but I will not," Jareth said sharply.

Sarah just shook her head.

And then his voice turned speculative. "But you won't allow yourself to believe that, will you? When you were here before, you created your friends to help you through the labyrinth. But the little dwarf was made specifically to betray you. I've always wondered why you would fabricate a creature that was so willing to be disloyal to you. And it finally begins to make sense."

She looked away from him.

"Who taught you that, Sarah? Who taught you to expect betrayal?"

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 10 of 28

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