Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 15 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

"It's so beautiful." Sarah breathed.

"I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to a dragon as beautiful before." Jareth smiled.

She just grinned, never taking her eyes off the glorious creature. Iridescent gray-green scales shimmered across the dragon, fading to a buttery underbelly. A long tail, supple as a cat's, wrapped sinuously around the dragon's body.

"Can they really breathe fire?" Sarah whispered.

"Yes, " Jareth said quietly. "And they can move much more quickly than you'd imagine. It makes them all the more dangerous."

The dragon lowered its head and froze. Slowly, the horned head raised and turned in their direction. Yellow eyes glinted in the sunlight and Sarah could barely make the out slit irises as the dragon searched them out.

Jareth tensed and immediately took Sarah by the arm. Before he could transport them away, an odd sensation flooded through Sarah. A picture of Jareth, dressed in formal clothing and standing proudly within a circle of dragons, flashed through her mind.

"It seems I've been recognized," he said softly, relaxing fractionally.

"Did you see it, too?" she asked.

He looked surprised. "I didn't realize that you did. I wasn't certain dragons could communicate with humans."

The dragon regarded them with seeming curiosity for a moment and she felt an emotion akin to amusement emanating from it. Then the creature deliberately turned its head away.

They'd been dismissed.

Jareth laughed and said quietly, "And you thought I was arrogant."

Before Sarah realized it, the disorienting feeling of being transported swept over her and they were standing in his bedroom.

"Oh, that was wonderful!" she said as she threw her arms around Jareth.

"I'm pleased you enjoyed it." He pulled her close and chuckled, "And I have the entire morning off... Hmm, how do you suppose we should entertain ourselves?"

Sarah smirked at him. "Well, I guess we could always play cards."

He leaned down and kissed her throat close to her ear.

"Or we could go to the library and read," she said, playfully ignoring him.

Another kiss on her neck, this one lower.

"Or we could play hide and seek," she laughed.

"Now that idea sounds promising," he smiled against her throat. "You go hide under the bedcovers and I'll see if I can find you."


The next week passed in a languid haze of days spent reading or enjoying the garden and of dazzling nights with Jareth. Sarah had never been more content.

Sarah was in the garden, enjoying the beautiful weather and the sweet fragrances filling the air, when a goblin servant approached her.

"There's a visitor here to see you."

"To see me? Are you sure?" Sarah asked, surprised.

"I think so," he said uncertainly. "I'm to tell you that they're in the library. Should I..." the goblin trailed off nervously.

"Um, I'll be right there." Sarah said, glancing down at her jeans and t-shirt. Whoever it was would just have to put up with her casual appearance. Curious, she made her way back into the castle.

Entering the library, Sarah found a woman standing with her back turned to Sarah. She was leafing through a book on magic. As Sarah approached, the woman turned and Sarah smiled when she recognized Breena, the Fae who was so curious about the Aboveworld.

Breena smiled back at her. "Good afternoon, Sarah. I hope that I haven't inconvenienced you by visiting without an invitation. I know that it's very impolite to just drop in on someone..."

"No," Sarah said, "I'm glad to see you. I was just surprised to have a visitor at all."

"I'd heard that His Majesty's library was quite impressive," Breena said, gesturing around.

"Yes, this is one of my favorite places. Would you like to sit down?" Sarah asked.

The two women settled into chairs and an awkward silence descended until they suddenly spoke at the same time.

"I should thank you..." Sarah began.

"I was hoping that..." Breena said.

They laughed and finally Breena said, "I was hoping that you would tell me more about the Aboveworld."

Sarah smiled and nodded. Before she could say anything, Ethain suddenly entered the room with a slight frown on his face. As he saw Breena, his expression cleared.

"Ah, Sarah, I'd heard you had a guest. I wanted to see if there was anything you or your visitor needed."

Breena rose and curtsied to Ethain who bowed politely to her.

"Ethain, do you know Breena?" Sarah asked.

"Yes, we were briefly introduced at court." Ethain said. "Lady Breena, how delightful to see you again."

"Your Grace," she said with a shy smile. "I hope that you are well."

"Very well, thank you." Ethain nodded. "I shan't keep you ladies from your visit. If there is anything you wish, simply tell a servant and it will be provided for you."

Ethain bowed again and left.

"Well, that was interesting." Sarah said, "I think I'm being checked up on."

Breena looked puzzled. "I'm certain that Lord Ethain was merely concerned with your safety. With your situation, it is probably wise to..." her voice trailed off as she suddenly blushed.

"That's okay. Don't worry about it." Sarah shook her head. "Let's not talk about my situation, all right? So, about the Aboveworld... Well, let's start with television."

Breena's nodded eagerly.

"First of all--we don't catch pixies and put them in a box..."


Sarah learned that Breena was unmarried and had been instructed by her parents to go to Vivienne's dinner party. Her uncle, who had been compelled to attend, had escorted her.

"My parents want me to mingle with the other nobles. I know it's because they're concerned for my future and wish that I would marry, but I'm so shy that I never know what to say to a man." Breena explained softly.

Sarah laughed. "I don't think you really have to say a lot. Most men love to talk about themselves. If you just listen attentively and ask questions that indicate you've been paying attention, they think you're the most brilliant conversationalist that ever lived."

"So many of the nobles are interested in things that are different from the ones that I find intriguing. I don't care to keep up with the court gossip or discover who is having an affair with whom. I want to learn about new things and new places." Breena said.

"I'm guess I'm lucky to be living here with Jareth, Ethain and Brennan. None of them seem to have the idea that women are inferior beings. I got the impression that a lot of the Fae noblemen do," Sarah said.

Breena smiled and said hesitantly, "Lord Ethain does seem quite nice."

"Ah, so the truth comes out now, does it? You aren't here to see me, after all." Sarah grinned.

Breena blushed. "Of course I am. I was merely making an observation."

"Ethain is very nice. And he's attractive," Sarah said slyly. "I don't think he's seeing anyone... Maybe you'd like to stay to dinner?"

"No, I couldn't impose and I'll be expected home shortly," Breena protested.

"You don't want to stay?" Sarah asked.

"Of course, I'd be honored, but..." Breena's voice trailed off as Sarah jumped to her feet.

"Great," Sarah said. "Wait right here."

Sarah was gone for a few minutes and when she returned, she was smiling widely. "It's all set."

"What have you done?" Breena said suspiciously.

"Well, your parents want you to mingle with the other nobility, right? So, they're being sent a note from the King explaining that the honor of your presence has been requested at dinner tonight and that you have accepted. His Majesty assures them that he'll see that you arrive home safely." Sarah laughed at the formal phrases.

"Oh, my goodness. My family will be impressed," Breena said with a smile. "You merely asked and it was done? There are advantages to being the King's mistress, aren't there?" As soon as she spoke, she flushed. "Oh, Sarah, that was tactless of me. I'm sorry."

Sarah's smile faded and said slowly. "No, that's okay. I guess that's what I am, isn't it?"

Breena touched her arm. "I am sorry if I've offended you."

Sarah shook it off. "It's fine. I just keep forgetting that this isn't the Aboveworld. Everything is so different here." She forced a quick smile and pulled Breena to her feet. "Come on, you wanted to see the rest of my Aboveworld wardrobe. But I'll warn you, if you see my maid, you'd better pretend that you hate it or I'll never hear the end of it."


Dinner went extremely well. After Breena's initial nervousness at being in such close proximity to the King had passed, she began to relax and participate more fully in the conversation.

Jareth had watched the interaction between the two women with a slight smile. It was good that Sarah had made a friend and this Breena seemed a gentle creature. Although, he was hesitant about the matchmaking scheme that Sarah had hatched for Ethain and Breena.

He remembered their earlier conversation. He'd sat in Sarah's bedroom, long legs casually stretched out before him, watching Sarah dress for dinner.

"I'm still not certain why you require me to stay here instead of entertaining your guest while you change," he asked.

"Because," Sarah said, her voice muffled from the garnet satin gown she was struggling to slide over her head. "I want Ethain to keep her company." Heaving a frustrated sigh, she'd continued, "You know, you could give me a hand with this thing, I'm being smothered here."

Laughing, he went to help her. He twisted the fabric around, gave it a tug and the gown fell into place. Her face was faintly flushed as it emerged through the neckline. "There." He dropped a light kiss on her lips, "Now, why must it be Ethain?"

"Don't you think they're just perfect for one another?" Sarah asked as she quickly fastened the buttons.

"Oh, no," Jareth said, crossing his arms. "I make it a strict practice never to become entangled in my friends' romantic affairs."

"Well, it won't hurt to leave them alone for a few minutes, just to see if they like each other." She began brushing her hair. "And couldn't Ethain be the one to see her home tonight?"

Shaking his head, Jareth sighed, "If it will make you happy, I will see that he escorts her."

"Thank you." Sarah smiled widely and slid her arms around his neck. "I love you."

"And I love you." His hands came to rest at her hips and he smirked. "But I will expect recompense later tonight for being so accommodating."

"Oh, don't worry," she'd grinned. "I think I can make it worth your while."


Sarah wasn't surprised the next afternoon when it was announced that she had a visitor. She'd already invited Breena to come back. Sarah went quickly to the library to find her waiting.

"Hello," Sarah smiled.

"How are you today?" Breena smiled cheerfully.

"Forget about me, how did it go last night when Ethain took you home?" Sarah asked as she pulled Breena down into a chair beside her. "You two seemed to be getting along very well at dinner."

"He is quite charming," Breena said with a bashful smile and then rolled her eyes. "My mother was beside herself. I'd had dinner with a king and was escorted home by a duke. My father offered Ethain a glass of brandy and he accepted." Breena's eyes were suddenly sparkling.

Sarah shook her head. "Does that have some special significance?"

"Perhaps not in itself, but the fact that he also accepted my father's invitation to dinner tomorrow night just might." Breena suddenly blushed.

"Oh, Breena, that's wonderful." Sarah smiled. "Well, when Ethain shows up in a minute, I'll just have to remember something that I need to get for you from my room. You know, leave you two alone for a little while."

Breena raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean? How do you know he's coming?"

Sarah sighed. "I asked Jareth if he'd told Ethain to keep an eye on me. He said that he wasn't keeping an eye on me," Sarah suddenly gave a near perfect imitation of Jareth's crisp accent, "He's keeping an eye on your visitors. I don't want you annoyed by social climbers who think it would benefit them to curry favor."

Breena looked suddenly stricken. "You don't think that I..."

"Of course not," Sarah said quickly and then continued quietly, "and neither does Jareth or Ethain. I told them what you did for me at Vivienne's party. I never did thank you for that."

"It's not necessary, but you're welcome." Breena smiled.

Approaching footsteps alerted them to Ethain's presence.

"Good afternoon, Breena," he said with a bow and a warm smile.

"Ethain," Breena murmured and blushed slightly, "How nice to see you again."

Sarah looked from one to the other and grinned. So, they'd dropped the titles and were now on a first name basis. And Ethain was going to her home for dinner. They were making definite progress. Sarah would just have to make certain that Breena came back for regular visits.


The next night, while Ethain was dining with Breena and her family, Sarah met Brennan in the sparring room for another fencing lesson. She had insisted that Jareth not accompany her. She'd finally had to tell him that he would make her nervous.

"You've said that for the past two lessons, surely after spending every night with me, you've gotten used to my presence by now," Jareth said, his eyes gleaming slyly.

"Yes, but that's different. That's not during a lesson. I... Compared to you, I feel so clumsy. You're so graceful and I'm."

"Very graceful, too," he interrupted.

"You wouldn't say that if you'd seen me trip and fall flat on my face during the last lesson. Brennan was trying so hard to keep from laughing that I thought he was going to choke." Sarah held up her hand to stop Jareth from commenting. "I'll make you a deal. Brennan's teaching me a new type of attack. At least wait until I'm a little more comfortable with the maneuver. Then you can watch."

Jareth had finally agreed.

Now, while Brennan made efforts to break her concentration, Sarah was going over and over the attack. Each time, at some point during her opening lunge, Brennan would suddenly yell at her or kick over the bench or fling his jacket at her feet.

Only at the end of the lesson, when Sarah finally ignored the distraction and completed the attack without flinching, was Brennan vaguely pleased.

"However, I'm not certain if you were ignoring it or expecting it. By the next lesson, I will have a different type of diversion planned and we'll know the truth of it. If you lose your concentration, you lose the battle." Brennan suddenly smiled and winked at her. "So we'll just have to make certain that you do not. I know that the training can sometimes seem tiresome, but it serves an important purpose and you are making improvement."

"Yeah," Sarah said sourly, "I managed to stay upright for the entire lesson this time."


During the following week, Breena visited almost every afternoon. As Ethain and Breena continued to learn more about each other, Sarah could see that the relationship was beginning to blossom. Breena's eyes sparkled at the sight of Ethain and he began to linger a few minutes so that he might stay and talk with Breena before returning to his duties.

Sarah would usually leave them alone during that time, using the pretext of seeing to something that Jareth wanted done or getting something for Breena. It was on one of these days that Sarah finally ran out of plausible excuses and had simply gone to the garden to wait while Breena finished talking to Ethain.

She stopped a passing servant. "Please tell my guest that I'll be in the garden."

Sarah had the sudden idea of turning the tables on Jareth. She grinned as she thought of the look on his face when she presented him with a bouquet of roses. She was trying to decide on a color when she heard someone approaching.

"Breena, which color do you think Jareth would like best?" Sarah asked, wavering between the red roses and the dark pink.

"I'm not certain which color Jareth would prefer. I, however, favor the red," a male voice said behind her.

Startled, Sarah jumped and turned quickly. "Lord Marcan. I'm sorry, I was expecting someone else."

Marcan gave a slight bow, "If I'm disturbing you..."

"No," Sarah smiled, "Not at all. How nice to see you again. What brings you here today?"

"Actually, I'm here to see how you are. I know that our little gathering was unpleasant for you and I wanted to apologize. I would have come to visit sooner, but I thought it best to wait until my cousin had cooled off a bit. I had the distinct impression that he wasn't too happy with me."

"You have nothing to apologize for, you were very nice to me and I appreciate it. Jareth was just a little...tense...that night."

Marcan smiled. "He caused a great deal of tension. It was quite a successful ploy."

Sarah looked puzzled.

"Arriving with an armed entourage and choosing a duel to the death," Marcan explained.

"That isn't normal?" Sarah asked, surprised.

Marcan threw back his head and laughed. "He made such an extravagant gesture and he didn't tell you? Isn't that like Jareth? He's always been so secretive." Marcan motioned toward the bench. "May I sit down?"

"Yes, please," Sarah said and sat beside him. "What do you mean, he made an extravagant gesture?"

"No other guests were armed and a duel to the death is such a rarity that I haven't heard of one in centuries." Marcan smirked. "Jareth values you very highly."

Sarah smiled at the perceived compliment, but her smile faded at Marcan's next words.

"It is completely understandable, of course. Jareth confided his strategy to Vivienne. You'll give him all the children that he needs to rule the Underground completely unopposed. That will be quite an achievement for Jareth."

"What do you mean?" A frown suddenly creased Sarah's forehead.

"Lord Marcan," Ethain's voice was sharp, "We weren't aware that you were coming. I'm certain that while you are here, you'll wish to pay your respects to the King. I'm also certain that he will want to see you immediately."

Sarah looked around to see Ethain and Breena standing behind them. Breena looked completely confused and Ethain's eyes were cold.

Sarah glanced back at Marcan and he smiled lazily. "Oh, yes, I'm sure that Jareth will have quite a lot to say to me."

Marcan turned back to her and bowed, "Goodbye, Sarah. I don't expect I'll be allowed to visit you again."

He rose and walked with Ethain toward the castle.

Breena immediately sat beside Sarah. "What's going on? Apparently there was some confusion and Ethain didn't get the news that you had another visitor for several minutes. He seemed upset at that, but when he saw Lord Marcan, he looked absolutely furious."

"Ethain doesn't like Marcan. He doesn't trust him," Sarah said absently. "Breena, have you ever been to a challenge before? Do you know what normally goes on?"

"No, I'm sorry, I haven't. They're actually very uncommon, so few mortals come back for a second time." Breena touched Sarah's arm. "Are you all right?"

A vague headache had begun to throb behind Sarah's eyes and acid churned in her stomach. Jareth had confided something about her to Vivienne? And what was this strategy that Marcan was talking about? What did it have to do with children?

"Yes, I'm fine," Sarah said. "Breena, I don't mean to seem rude, but it might be for the best if you left. Jareth will probably be angry and I would really prefer to talk to him alone."

"Of course," Breena said. "With your permission, I will call on you tomorrow."

Sarah smiled faintly. "I'd like that."

"Then I shall return tomorrow." Breena, concern vivid in her eyes, smiled back at her friend and then faded from view.


Ethain escorted Marcan to Jareth's office in icy silence. He knocked on the door and almost immediately opened it.

Jareth looked up from the budget ledgers and his eyes narrowed at the sight of Marcan.

Both men bowed and Ethain said, "Your Majesty, Lord Marcan is here... Actually, I'm not certain why he is here. But I did discover him in the gardens speaking with Sarah. Alone."

Jareth stood and locked eyes with Marcan. "Thank you, Ethain. You may leave us." Jareth never looked away from Marcan. Ethain gave a bow and left, closing the door firmly behind him.

"Your Majesty, you're looking very well. I see having the mortal in your possession agrees with you," Marcan's eyes gleamed with spite.

Jareth came around the desk to stand directly in front of his cousin. "What was your purpose in talking to Sarah?" he demanded.

"She's quite in love with you, but you know that already." Marcan ignored Jareth's question. "She becomes so charmingly flustered at the mere mention of your name."

"I won't ask you again. What was your purpose in speaking to Sarah?"

"You made a mistake, cousin. You really should have told her. Pretty little Sarah was quite bewildered to hear of your plans for her children. I think she honestly believes you have some feeling for her beyond that of her usefulness." Marcan shrugged elegantly. "But don't worry, you may spend a lonely night or two while she pouts, but I'm certain you'll have the girl on her back again in no time."

Jareth's hand shot out and caught Marcan by the throat, his thumb digging into the sensitive pressure point at the base of the neck. "You are never to go near Sarah again, or I will kill you. Do you understand?" His voice was so matter of fact that he might have been commenting on the weather.

Marcan tensed and Jareth suddenly lunged forward, the weight of his body and the hand locked on Marcan's throat pushing the other man against the wall. "Do you understand?" he asked in that same eerily calm tone.

At this, Marcan began to feel the first stirring of fear. He'd expected to provoke Jareth to anger, but this went far past anger, far past rage. Marcan looked into his cousin's eyes and realized that Jareth was completely, and deathly, serious.

"I understand," he whispered.

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 15 of 28

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