Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 16 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

When Jareth arrived in the garden, Sarah was sitting on one of the benches. It was obvious that she was waiting for him. As soon as he rounded the corner, she began shaking her head.

"I didn't invite him and I didn't expect him, so don't start with me," Sarah said coolly. "What I want to know is how I'm going give you the means to rule the Underground unopposed? What do my nonexistent children have to do with it? And why did you tell Vivienne about it and not me?"

He sat down next to her and for a long moment he didn't answer. He had to make her understand and this was going to be difficult for both of them. "I told Vivienne that you would bear enough children to marry into every prominent family in the Underground. As I recall, my exact words were, "A dynasty can be founded upon a woman like Sarah.""

"Why...why would you say such a thing?" she asked, confusion apparent on her face.

He sighed and looked at her evenly. "Because it's true. It's not the entire truth, but it is true."

She paled and he watched pain fill her eyes. She blinked and the pain was replaced with a terrible resignation. "So you lied," she whispered. "You really did bring me here because you wanted children."

"No." He reached for her hand and winced as she drew away from him. "As I've told you before, that played no part in my decision. I brought you here because I couldn't stand the thought of you dying. And after you came here, I grew to truly love you."

"You just said..." she began.

"I can love you and have children with you, and still do what's best for my kingdom. I must be pragmatic, Sarah."

"Pragmatic?" Her voice was hoarse with suppressed tears. "You're talking about having children for the sole purpose of using them as political pawns." She looked horrified.

Jareth shook his head. "No. I would have children with you because I love you. Arranged marriages are our way but I would never force my child into a marriage they did not wish. But our children would be raised to know their responsibilities.

"This is my life, Sarah, my world. If you are to be a part of it, you must understand. I have a duty to protect not only my family but all the subjects of the Underground.

"In our history there has never been a High King who ruled without dissention. There are many factions within the Underground, each with their own particular interests. The Fae, the Elves, the Dwarves, the list is endless. Peace can be a fleeting thing. Struggles for political power and territory can erupt into violence at a moment's notice. For the most part, they are localized skirmishes. But all it would take to plunge the entire Underground into a full-scale war is a slight shift in the balance of power.

"However, if the prominent families were united through marriage, if they all had a common bond, a common family, a new stability might be introduced."

Sarah ran a shaking hand through her hair. "We've never even discussed what was going to happen between us in the future much less whether or not we're going to have kids."

Jareth felt surprise at her last words. "You do not want children?"

"Of course I do," Sarah looked overwhelmed. "Someday. But you haven't discussed any of this with me and yet you just announced it to Vivienne. Why?

"As for our future, it is my intention that we will marry. Is that not your intention, also?" He kept his voice even. He knew he wasn't answering her question, but as far as he was concerned, what he had told Vivienne was no longer the point. He had to know what Sarah wanted for their future.

Sarah's eyes filled with tears. "I don't know. Maybe the idea crossed my mind, especially since it was recently pointed out to me that I'm your mistress." Her voice became slightly derisive at that last word. "But I haven't really thought that far ahead. You haven't talked to me about any of this. And, again, why the hell did you tell Vivienne that you could build a dynasty on someone like me?" Her tears were rapidly being replaced by anger.

"For the most part, romantic love simply isn't understood by the Fae. You know that," he said carefully. "To care for someone so deeply is considered a weakness and it's an exploitable one. So I led Vivienne to believe that I only wanted you because of your ability to have children."

Sarah took a deep breath. "You're not above manipulating me to get what you want, you've already proven that. Do you really love me, Jareth? Or is that just a lie?"

"If you do not already believe me, I'm not certain how I am to convince you, but I do love you. However, if my enemies know how I feel about you, they will find a way to turn it against me. As long as you are perceived as nothing more than a pretty toy, you should stay somewhat safe. But if it's known that I truly love you, it might put you in danger."

"You have enemies? I can't imagine that," Sarah said sarcastically.

Jareth looked away for a moment. He deserved that, he supposed. He looked back at her. "And there are always those who would take control of the Labyrinth for their own purposes."

"Why would anybody want it?"

He sighed. "It has its own power, but we'll not get into that right now. Suffice it to say that, yes, I have enemies who would use any perceived weakness against me. And that includes using you."

Sarah glanced down and when she looked back at him, her expression cut him to the quick. She was looking at him in disbelief. "Let me get this straight. You love me but you can't really let anybody know because they might use it against you. You want to have children with me because you love me, but you also want to use them to achieve a political goal. Is that it? Have I left anything out?"

"I am a king, Sarah, I can never--not even for a moment--forget my responsibilities. That is part of who I am. I realize this situation is difficult for you to comprehend," Jareth said, his voice harsher than he intended. He quickly clamped down on his anger, "But there are only two important facts in your statement. I love you and I want to have children with you. The rest of it is unfortunate, but true. This world is, in many ways, a much more unforgiving place than the one from which you came."

Sarah looked suddenly tired. "I just need to think about all this. I think it would be best if I spent tonight in my room. I need some time alone."

Jareth knew that she was right, she needed time to come to terms with what he had told her and to see that he was telling her the truth. But he had to bite back his instinctive urge to demand that she believe him, to demand that she go with him to his chambers and allow him to make love to her until she forgot about all this nonsense.

He gave a curt nod and went back to his office but concentrating on work was impossible. He'd been more than a little hurt by Sarah's admission that she hadn't given much thought to marriage. True, they had not discussed the subject, but he had assumed that his intentions were clear. He was in love with her and she loved him in return. Where else had she thought the relationship would lead?

Why didn't she understand that he could love her and their children and still have the need to protect his kingdom?

Shaking his head, he tried to think of another way to help Sarah understand. An idea struck him, perhaps being completely alone was not what she needed. Jareth scribbled out a note and placed his royal seal upon it. Summoning a courier, he handed him the note and sent him on his way.


Sarah had asked to have dinner brought to her room and was currently looking at the tray sitting on the table across the room. She shouldn't have even asked for it, she didn't have an appetite.

A knock on her door roused her from her thoughts. Opening it, she was surprised to find Breena standing there.

"I thought you weren't coming back until tomorrow," Sarah said in confusion. "Is something wrong?"

"I don't know," Breena said softly. "His Majesty sent for me. His note said only that you had need of me."

She began to frown at Jareth's interference and then realized how glad she was to see Breena. Sarah promptly burst into tears. Breena came in and drew her into her arms.

"What has happened?" Breena asked, concerned.

Sarah pulled away from Breena and began swiping at her eyes. Breena drew a handkerchief from her sleeve. "Here. Wipe your eyes and tell me what is wrong."

"It's a very long story," Sarah hiccuped.

Breena led Sarah to the bed and sat down next to her. "Since I've been invited to stay the night, I believe I have time to hear it."

"You have to promise not to tell anyone the things I say. There are some things that Jareth doesn't want known." Sarah laughed bitterly. "If they're even true."

Breena was slightly alarmed. "Perhaps you shouldn't tell me these things. If the King doesn't want..."

"No," Sarah interrupted. "If Jareth sent for you, then he knew I'd tell you. But you have to promise."

"Of course, the things we discuss shall remain between us," Breena said.

Sarah drew in a shaky breath. "Okay, here goes."

She told Breena everything except the truth about her initial visit to the Labyrinth. That was a secret she'd promised never to reveal and she wouldn't break her word.

When Sarah had finished relating the events, she looked at her friend. "So, what do you think? He says he loves me. I thought he did." Tears filled Sarah's eyes again. "But maybe he doesn't. Maybe it was all just a lie to get me to stay with him and have lots of little Goblin Kings."

Breena smiled at that image and, involuntarily, Sarah smiled, too.

"Is that what you believe? That he's only taken you to provide children?"

"I don't want to, but why else would he want me?" Sarah whispered. "I'm not as beautiful as those other women. I don't have any magic. I don't have political influence or land. Why else would he want me?"

"Perhaps he simply wants you."

Sarah gave her a skeptical look.

"Why do you love him?" Breena asked.

"Well, because he's..." Sarah's voice trailed off.

"Handsome? Because he has magic? Because he's a king?"

"No," Sarah said, "And I see your point. I love him because of who he is."

"And yet you will not allow him the same reason?"

Sarah looked down.

"So the Goblin King has fallen in love." Breena mused wistfully, "He's very lucky. So many of us do not have that fortune. We have legends, of course, of Fae that loved quite ardently. We love our children, our parents. And we can love our spouses, but the depth of passion that mortals feel seems to be beyond most of us. I've always thought that it was because we are immortal."

"What does that have to do with it?"

"Forgive me for saying this, Sarah, but mortal lives are so brief compared to ours. I've often wondered if it was that you burn so brightly that you simply burn yourselves out." Breena regarded Sarah for a moment. "I really shouldn't be surprised at this news, the King's temper is quite renowned. Isn't that a sign of passion?"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Well, he's got a temper, all right. But then, so do I." She gave a little snicker, "The first time I yelled at him, the look on his face was priceless."

"You yelled at him?" Breena raised her eyebrows.

Sarah nodded with a grin.

"At the Goblin King?" Breena seemed astonished.


"And he allowed it?"

"Well, he couldn't very well have stopped me."

"Actually, he could." Breena smiled, "He gives you unprecedented freedoms, Sarah. And, unless I have misunderstood, he intends to take you as his wife."

"And wasn't that just the most romantic marriage proposal in history?" Sarah snorted. "It wasn't even a proposal, it was a declaration."

"Do you not love him enough to marry him? From what you've told me of your reaction, he may think that you do not."

Sarah looked at Breena sharply. "Of course I do. But he's never said anything about marriage until today. I hadn't really thought that much about it. In the Aboveworld, people don't usually rush into marriage."

"Things are very different here. Most of the marriages amongst the royalty are arranged. It's possible to marry someone you've known only briefly. Some parents even begin negotiating their children's future marriages while the children are still infants."

Sarah looked incredulous.

Breena saw her expression and laughed. "It is our way, Sarah. If you are to be happy in this world, you must accept our ways."

"It just seems so cold."

"Perhaps it seems that way because it is unfamiliar to you," Breena said gently. "We are raised to honor our responsibilities, to do our duty to our families and to our king."

"Jareth said basically the same thing," Sarah remembered. "So you don't think this plan of his to have lots of kids and then marry them off is wrong?"

"I think that if the King were successful, he would bring a unity to the Underground that has never before existed. I think that he is trying to be a good king for his subjects, but at the same time he's trying to be a good man for you. Being in love must be quite new for him. Perhaps he is as unfamiliar with the Aboveworld concept of romantic relationships as you are of the Underground ways. And perhaps, Sarah, he is simply doing the best he can."

Sarah's breath caught in her throat. "I hadn't thought of that." She hesitated and then continued, "Would people really use it against him? If they knew that he loves me?"

Breena sighed. "Unfortunately, yes. He would be thought weak to allow any woman to capture his heart in such a fashion, much less a mortal woman. Political influence and allies are the true currency of this realm and he would lose both if the truth were known."

Sarah nodded slowly and looked down at her hands, lost in thought.

Breena waited a few minutes in silence and then touched Sarah's arm. "Do you wish for me to stay with you? Or do you truly want time to yourself?"

Sarah glanced up with a grateful smile. "I would like some time alone to think all this through. You've given a lot more to think about."

"Then I shall go down to the library. There are several books there that I would like to examine more closely. If you need me, just send for me."

Sarah gave Breena a fierce hug. "Thank you," she said softly. "Thank you so much."


Breena slipped into the library and, after reassuring herself that she was alone, wandered about the room looking at the volumes on the shelves. The King had an extensive assortment of rare and unusual books and one collection, locked away in a glass-fronted case, contained some of the oldest books that she had ever seen. Breena tilted her head to the side to better read the titles when a voice behind her spoke.

"Would you like to see them?" Ethain said.

Breena turned around quickly. "Good evening."

"Forgive me," he said with a smile, "I did not mean to startle you. I'll open the cabinet for you so that you may look at the books more closely. We keep it locked because the servants can sometimes be less than gentle when handling them."

He produced a key from his vest pocket and unlocked the case. "Are there any in particular that you wish to examine?"

"Is that an original treatise on the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh?" Breena was amazed.

"Yes," Ethain said as he removed the document from the case. "Exquisite, isn't it?"

"I'm afraid to even touch it," Breena said reverently.

"It's actually very sturdy. At the time it was written a spell was bound into it to strengthen the parchment. I'm not certain if that's a sign of self-confidence that the work would continue to be of enduring importance or merely a sign of arrogance on the part of the author," Ethain grinned.

"It must be wonderful to have access to so many books."

"You enjoy reading quite a bit, don't you?" he asked.

"I enjoy learning things," she said shyly. "There's so much more to know than just proper seating arrangements and new hairstyles."

Ethain teased, "Are you certain that you're a member of the nobility? I'm positive that there is a rule against a noblewoman having any other thoughts enter her mind."

Breena looked down and said quietly, "I'm afraid I don't fit in as well as I should. My mother often points out that I should be more outgoing and less inclined to keep my nose stuck in a book."

Ethain touched her arm and she looked up at him. "I think that a desire for knowledge is an admirable thing."

She blushed and, to her embarrassment, suddenly had to cover her mouth to stifle a yawn.

Ethain laughed. "It is late, isn't it? Why don't I escort you to your room? I promise that you may look at these books in the morning."

She nodded and he placed the treatise back in the case and locked it. He offered her his arm.

"Perhaps you'd care to join me for breakfast in the morning?" Ethain asked. He deliberately neglected to mention that he usually ate breakfast far earlier than most. Tomorrow, he would wait until she arose.

She gave a quick smile. "I'd like that very much."

During their walk through the hallways, Ethain said quietly, "While I'm glad that you and Sarah have become friends, I have also benefited from your visits. I find your company quite charming."

Breena's mouth went dry and she tried desperately not to stammer. "I enjoy your company, also."

Once at her door, she said goodnight and reached for the doorknob. The slight touch of his hand on hers stopped her. She turned to him, curious, and Ethain regarded her seriously.

"Your mother is wrong, you know. You're quite extraordinary just as you are," he said and slowly leaned toward her.

Her heart began to pound as his hand came up to gently cup her cheek and her eyes slipped closed as his lips pressed against hers in a soft kiss.

"Sleep well, Breena," Ethain said with a smile.

"Goodnight," she breathed. She went into her room, closing the door and leaning back against it.

Breena traced her fingers slowly over her lips while a brilliant smile illuminated her face. She'd never imagined that her first kiss would be so wonderful.


Sarah sat cross-legged on her bed, going over what Jareth and Breena had told her.

Sighing, she wondered if Jareth could really love her? Could he have taken her only to give him enough children to gain a future political advantage?

'Do you have to ask those questions?' her mind chided. 'If he were using you, he would have been much more charming from the beginning. He was downright rude at first. And you set out to seduce him, not vice versa. He loves you; the way he looks at you when you're alone with him is proof enough. The emotion in his eyes is real. You don't really doubt that.'

She nodded to herself slowly. That left the question of being able to accept her place in Jareth's world. She was having such difficulty understanding all the convoluted rules and political machinations. She was going to have to let go of so many long-held notions of how the world was supposed to work. But those notions had no place in her life any longer. She would have to adapt to Jareth's world. As Breena had pointed out, if she ever wanted to be happy she had no other choice.

And, surprise! Jareth wanted to marry her. Sarah knew she loved him enough to marry him. She'd never known it was possible to love someone so much. She'd lain beside him with her heart so full of emotion that it actually ached while she watched him sleep, and the news that he wanted her for his wife should have made her ecstatic. It might have, had he actually asked her.

While she knew that arranged marriages had occurred in the Aboveworld in the past, and probably still occasionally occurred, it bothered her to think of anyone simply being told to marry someone. And even though Jareth assured her that he wouldn't force their children to marry against their will, the very idea that he could was unsettling.

The thought that disturbed Sarah most, however, was that he saw the political possibilities in the first place. That sort of cold calculation wasn't something she associated with Jareth but was a trait that belonged to the Goblin King.

"But all it would take to plunge the entire Underground into a full-scale war is a slight shift in the balance of power."

"This is my life, Sarah, my world. If you are to be a part of it, you must understand. I have a duty to protect not only my family but all the subjects of the Underground.

"I think that if the King were successful, he would bring a unity to the Underground that has never before existed."

"Being in love must be quite new for him."

"...perhaps, Sarah, he is simply doing the best he can." All this time, she'd thought that the Goblin King was a mask he wore. A disguise he presented to the public, but it wasn't. He was as much the Goblin King as he was the Jareth she knew and loved. There was a hard streak of ruthlessness that ran through him and he was willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted. If she were completely honest, she had to admit that Jareth wouldn't be the same man without it. She'd either have to accept that or leave him. There could be no compromise.

Sarah looked at the clock. It was very late and Jareth would probably be asleep but this couldn't wait. She made her way through the corridors to his chambers. Taking a deep breath, she swallowed hard and knocked firmly on the door.

In a moment, Jareth opened it. He was wearing his robe, but it was apparent from the smooth bedcovers that he hadn't been sleeping. He simply looked at her impassively and waited for her to speak.

Tears filled her eyes and she opened her mouth, but the words wouldn't come. She finally just stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her head on his chest.

She heard him give a soft sigh and felt his arms come round her.

"I love you," she said as she listened to his heart beating. She pulled back slightly and looked into his eyes. "But if you don't really love me, I'll have to leave you. So if it isn't true--don't ever tell me."

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 16 of 28

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