Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 17 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

Jareth and Sarah lay facing each other on Jareth's bed while Sarah idly ran her fingers through his hair, allowing the silky strands to slide through her fingers.

"I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I don't love you enough to marry you, because I do. But in the Aboveworld, a man proposes to a woman. He doesn't just announce that they're getting married."

"You wish a formal offer of marriage?" he asked, propping his head on his hand.

"Yes, I do," she smiled.

"I shall have the matrimonial contracts drawn up immediately," he said.

"No contracts. I want an Aboveworld style proposal," she laughed softly.

He arched an eyebrow. "And this would entail?"

"Well, the man usually gets down on one knee and holds the woman's hand in his. He tells her that he loves her and that he can't live without her. And then he asks her to marry him." Her hand drifted through his hair to the soft skin at the back of his neck.

"Ah, so you want me on my knees before you," Jareth said dryly.

Her smile faded as she thought of Jareth kneeling in supplication. He was too proud for that. He shouldn't kneel before anyone. "No, not ever, not even for me. Just ask me, that's all you have to do." She smiled suddenly, "But you can't ask me now, you have to make it a surprise."

He looked thoughtful. "A surprise. I believe I can arrange that."

Sarah sobered and looked away from him. "If people aren't supposed to know that you love me, how will you treat me in public?"

He stroked one finger over her cheek and then tilted her chin to bring her eyes back to meet his.

"I shall accord you the courtesy and respect that my wife will deserve. My public behavior toward you may seem somewhat aloof, but I assure you that in private I shall be a devoted husband who is passionately in love with his wife. I cannot offer you more, Sarah, not and remain King."

She nodded slowly and said, "You just may have to remind me occasionally. It's going to be difficult to have you act like you're some polite stranger that I just happen to sleep with. And I'll warn you right now, if the women start flirting with you in front of me, I'm going to hit somebody."

"It is considered extremely ill-mannered to strike a woman," he said, suppressing a smile.

Her lips curved mischievously and she raised an eyebrow. "I never said I'd hit them."

Jareth grinned and pulled her closer toward him. "I'll remember that." His eyes grew serious and he murmured, "You'll have no reason to be jealous. There will be you and no other, Sarah, I swear it. You and no other."

And then his mouth was on hers.


The next morning Ethain waited in the dining room for Breena. If he didn't know better, he would think that he was nervous. He had never been nervous waiting for a woman before. But then again, he mused with a smile, Breena was so delightfully different from most of the women he had known.

She was, of course, less than half his age. And while that would not normally be a consideration, Ethain had thought long and hard before making his decision to pursue a relationship with her. Breena's family was of a much lower social ranking than his family and to treat her in a casual manner could infer that he did not believe her suitable for more than a dalliance.

Breena's inherent shyness and obvious inexperience had also made it imperative that he be completely certain that he wished to seriously court her. Other men might take pleasure in trifling with a woman's future, but he did not.

Her arrival interrupted his thoughts and he rose with a smile. "Good morning. I hope you slept well."

"Very well, thank you," Breena said with a shy smile.

"Will you be staying the day with us?" Ethain asked as he held her chair. "If so, I'll open the locked cabinet in the library for you."

"I need to return home this morning, but I would like to speak with Sarah before I leave."

"Ah," he said as he sat next to her. "I do not believe that Sarah is in her room. She and His Majesty..." Ethain hesitated. "They..." He frowned slightly, there was no delicate way to put this.

Breena grinned. "They've made up? That's wonderful."

"Yes, it is." He nodded, relieved that he didn't have to explain. "Will you be returning to the castle this afternoon?"

"If Sarah would like for me to return, of course I will."

"I'm sure she will want that." Ethain looked at her intently. "I would like you to return as well. I had hoped that we could spend more time together. Perhaps you would agree to dine with me tonight?"

"It's always a pleasure to dine with all of you," she said carefully.

Ethain smiled. He recognized her unspoken question and he hastened to answer it. "I had thought that you and I might dine privately tonight."

Breena blushed and said softly, "I'd like that very much."


When Sarah woke, she looked over, but Jareth was gone. A glance at the clock told her that he was certainly already in his office working. She stretched and, as she moved, she winced at the dull throbbing in her head. She wasn't getting enough sleep, she thought as she sat up. She had been having headaches rather frequently lately.

She was rubbing the sleep from her eyes when a cold chill ran down her spine. She was having headaches again. She sucked in a sharp breath. That was how it had started before.

Cancer could recur, couldn't it?

There was only one way to find out. Fear crept through her and Sarah dressed hurriedly. She rushed to her room to bathe and change.


Marcan watched as Vivienne sat at her dressing table, brushing her hair.

"Why are you here so early? I have a fitting for my new gown in a few minutes," she said, glancing over at him.

"I've some unfortunate news for you, my dear. Eliminating the mortal will prove more difficult than I had anticipated. My visit to the castle confirmed that Jareth is having her closely watched. Too closely to carry out our little plan easily."

Vivienne slammed the brush down on the table and turned to him. "You assured me that the situation could be handled," she said, furious. "If she isn't dealt with, she'll end up married to Jareth and mother to a horde of his children."

"You have so little faith," Marcan smiled and sank into a chair beside the table. "I've given the matter a great deal of thought and the situation is still quite salvageable."

"How?" she demanded.

"By playing Jareth's desire against him."

"What do you mean?"

"He wants an heir." Marcan lifted an eyebrow. "Give him one."

Vivienne looked puzzled and then comprehension dawned in her eyes. "You mean..."

"Of course. As long as Jareth believes you are carrying his child, he will be bound by honor to marry you."

"And what am I do to about the fact that I'm not actually pregnant?" Sarcasm dripped from her voice.

"A miscarriage shortly after the wedding would be so terribly tragic, don't you agree?"

Vivienne rolled her eyes, "Jareth has a healer. Have you forgotten that?"

"You don't allow him near you. You're a fragile woman with a delicate condition. You'll insist upon having your own healer. Someone you're comfortable with, someone you know." Marcan smirked, "Jareth would never refuse the mother of his child such a small thing."

"Could you find a healer that would go along with this deception? I thought they swore an oath or something."

"As far as I am aware, their oath doesn't include being truthful," Marcan said dryly. "And actually, I already know of one--a minor noble with rather large gambling debts. The man really shouldn't be allowed to play cards, he's completely hopeless. I can guarantee that for the right price, he will say anything we wish. It will be expensive, but think of all you have to gain."

A slow smile crossed her face and then her eyes hardened. "I still want rid of the girl. Jareth discarded me for a mortal. I won't allow him to keep her."

"When you are Queen, I'll be visiting the castle quite often," Marcan said with a careless shrug. "Access to the mortal will be easily obtained."

"When should I tell Jareth of my little surprise?" Vivienne's eyes gleamed with anticipation.

"The longer you wait, the less time we have before your condition, or lack thereof, is readily apparent. You should visit Jareth as soon as possible," Marcan said.

Vivienne turned from him and gazed at herself in the mirror. She gave a triumphant smile. "Visit Jareth? Oh, no, I think not. I now have the upper hand. Jareth will come to me."

A knock on the door interrupted them and a servant announced, "The seamstress is here, my lady. Should I tell her to wait?"

Vivienne looked at Marcan. "Are you finished? I'd like to get on with my fitting. And I have a wedding gown to design."

"Don't forget. The sooner, the better," he said quietly.

"Have the healer here early this afternoon, I'll want to speak to him before Jareth arrives," Vivienne called to him and then gestured toward the servant.

Marcan nodded and walked toward the door as the seamstress entered the room.

He smiled pleasantly. "Good morning, Paslia. How nice to see you again."


Sarah opened the door to Dorenil's office. The Elf was sitting behind a desk, writing in a large leather bound book.

Sarah waited a moment and then said, "Excuse me?"

There was no indication that he'd heard her.

She went farther into the room and loudly cleared her throat.

"Yes? What is it?" Dorenil never looked up from his writing.

"I'd like to know... I was hoping that you could tell me if..." Sarah's voice faltered. There was no way she could say this out loud.

Finally Dorenil looked up at her. "What do you want?"

Sarah twisted her fingers together. "I've been having headaches again. I wanted to know if..."

"Ah," Dorenil said, "You want to know if the malignancy has returned."

Sarah simply nodded; her mouth was so dry it was becoming difficult to speak.

The healer sighed and put down his pen. He looked her over carefully, his eyes glowing very faintly.

"No, it has not returned," he said shortly and reached for his pen again.

Sarah's relief overwhelmed her patience. "Then do you have any idea why I'm having these headaches?" she snapped.

Dorenil sighed. "Are you eating?"

"What?" Sarah was confused.

"Are you eating regular meals?" Dorenil said, tapping the pen impatiently on the desk.

"Well," she said, "I have skipped a few lately."

"You are not eating regularly. You're missing meals and that's causing your headaches. You must begin eating properly." Dorenil gestured toward her midsection with his pen. "If you don't, you could harm the baby."

Sarah's mouth dropped open. "Wh--what?" she stammered. "What baby?"

"The one you're carrying."

"But that's not possible," Sarah whispered as she tried frantically to recall when her last menstrual period had been. Shit, was she late?

"Young woman, since you've arrived I've been forced to learn far more about human anatomy than I ever cared to know." Dorenil gave a delicate shudder. "I assure you, you are going to have a child."

"But I can't be pregnant," Sarah cried.

Dorenil simply lifted an eyebrow.

"Well, okay" she said, exasperated, "I can be. But he cast a spell every time." She hesitated, remembering that first night she spent with Jareth, "Almost every time."

"Obviously, 'almost' wasn't quite good enough."

"I still shouldn't be," Sarah insisted. "I counted days."

"And you took into account that time moves differently in the Underground?"

Her eyes grew huge.

Dorenil shook his head. "I thought not." He regarded her critically, "I'd say you're about three weeks along." He stood and reached toward her with a questioning look.

Sarah nodded apprehensively and Dorenil placed his hand on her abdomen. "The child is Sidhe." He half closed his eyes and then said, "Leanan Sidhe, to be precise." Dorenil's mouth quirked. "I'm certain His Majesty will be very pleased to learn of your condition."

Sarah looked at the healer silently for a moment and then said, "Is there anybody in this castle that doesn't know that I'm sleeping with the King?"

"No," he said flatly.

The implication of Dorenil's earlier words finally sank in. She was going to have a baby. It felt as if her legs were going to collapse under her and, shakily, she moved to a chair and sat down. Finally, she leaned over and looked at her abdomen, peering as if she could see the child growing there through her clothing and flesh.

"Can you tell if it's a boy or..."

"Not yet," Dorenil said. "In another few weeks, I'll be able to tell."

She looked up at him and her hand moved to cover her abdomen protectively.

"What am I supposed to do?" she whispered.


"Should I start taking vitamins, drinking milk? What?" Sarah asked.

"You really don't know anything about this, do you?"

She shook her head mutely.

"I will make out a list of things to do and things to avoid. But the best thing is to begin eating all of your meals. And I'll want to see you once a week."

"Once a week? Isn't that a lot for so early in a pregnancy?"

"Yes, it is," he sighed. "But you're carrying the King's first child. I'll be quite surprised if he doesn't insist that I examine you every day."


Sarah sat in the library, waiting for Breena and determinedly eating breakfast. She'd been stunned to learn that she was pregnant. She'd been alternating between shocked surprise and abject fear since she'd learned the news.

Surprise because she hadn't thought she could be pregnant and fear because she now had another life depending totally on her. Every bite of food she ate, every sip of liquid she drank and every emotion she felt could affect the child growing inside her.

What kind of mother would she make? She hadn't exactly had the best of role models in that regard. And what of Jareth? What kind of father would he be? She smiled ruefully to herself. He'd probably spoil the child rotten and teach the baby magic before he or she could even talk.

Oh god, Sarah thought. A plain baby was responsibility enough. What would she do with one who could do magic? If she scolded the baby, would he or she drop her into the Bog of Eternal Stench in a fit of pique? She suddenly laughed out loud. Well, that just meant that Jareth would have to be the disciplinarian until the child learned some self-control.

Sarah's hand drifted down over her stomach. Jareth had said he wanted children. She hoped that he had been serious. She decided to tell him about the baby over dinner tonight. She would have the cook prepare the same meal they'd eaten the night the baby was conceived. A small dining table could be set up in his chambers and she'd fill the room with flowers and candles to make it as romantic as possible. She'd ask Breena to help her arrange the flowers and light the candles.

Breena's entrance into the library disrupted Sarah's train of thought. Breena saw the extra breakfast tray and smiled at her.

"Thank you, but I've already had breakfast," Breena said. "Before I went home, I wanted to see how you were this morning."

"I'm fine," Sarah said. "And thanks for last night. It really helped to talk things over with you. You gave me a different perspective and I need that. Especially now."

"Now?" Breena asked.

Sarah smiled secretively. "I have some good news to tell you. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow."

"A surprise?"

"A very big surprise," Sarah said wryly, but then gave a wide smile. "But a wonderful one."

"Then I'll look forward to it." Breena said.

"Can you come back this afternoon? I want to get the surprise ready for Jareth and I'd like your help."

"But you won't tell me what it is?" Breena feigned being indignant.

"No, I won't," Sarah laughed. "Not until tomorrow."

"I shall be delighted to help. And, I will be coming back to the castle tonight in any case," Breena smiled. "I had breakfast with Ethain and he has asked me to have dinner with him privately."

"Oh, that's great!" Sarah jumped up and gave her friend a hug. "I'm so happy for you."

"It's only dinner, Sarah." Breena tried to be casual, but failed miserably.

"No, it's not. It's your first real date."

"I must go home and decide what to wear." Excitement began to bubble through Breena's voice.

"Then I won't keep you any longer. Bring your dress when you come this afternoon and you can change before dinner."

Breena gave Sarah a quick hug. "I'll be back a little later." With a wide smile, she faded from sight.

Sarah smiled at the thought of her friend and Ethain becoming closer. So much marvelous news today, she thought. She briefly contemplated the second breakfast tray and with a sigh, pulled it toward her and began to eat.


The courier arrived mid-afternoon and Ethain frowned as he examined the envelope. "It is from Lady Vivienne and is marked both private and confidential," he lifted an eyebrow and handed the paper to Jareth unopened.

Jareth broke the seal and glanced over the message. He looked puzzled for a moment and then his face went white as he read the words written there.

"Is there something wrong, Your Majesty?" Ethain said, alarmed at Jareth's reaction.

"Reschedule my appointments for the rest of the day." His voice was harsh.

"Of course, but... Jareth, what is wrong?" Ethain insisted.

"Everything," he said and Ethain was taken aback by the sudden anguish he saw in Jareth's eyes. Then Jareth blinked and the emotion was gone and his cold mask was in place. "I will return as soon as I can."

"Of course," Ethain said, confused.

Jareth vanished from the office and Ethain looked at the paper now lying discarded on the desk. Ethain had spent most of his life doing the honorable thing, and he knew that honor demanded he ignore the note. But he also knew that sometimes the honorable thing wasn't the right thing. So, with no further misgivings, he picked up the message and read it.


Jareth appeared in Vivienne's foyer and, to the consternation of a startled servant, strode immediately toward her sitting room. The servant, bowing hastily, pleaded to be allowed to announce him.

Jareth brushed the servant aside without a word. He opened the sitting room door and Vivienne jumped up from a sofa and rushed toward him.

"Jareth," she cried, throwing her arms around him. "Isn't it wonderful?"

He made no move to embrace her and she slowly released him with a small sigh.

"Oh, I know you're upset at getting the news in a note," she said, "but I wasn't certain you'd come without knowing why. I thought you might still be upset with me after my little party prank."

"How is this possible, Vivienne?" he asked coldly. "One or the other of us always cast a spell to prevent this exact situation."

She pouted prettily. "As far as I can determine, it was the night we went to Treise's party. We'd both had a bit too much wine and, well, I can't actually remember casting the spell. Can you?"

Jareth frowned. He couldn't remember if he'd cast a spell that night.

"We were in such a rush that night to..." Vivienne began with a laugh.

Jareth interrupted. "How did you find out that you' this condition."

Vivienne sighed and sat on the sofa. "I began to become ill in the mornings but it always passed away by lunchtime. Even then, it didn't occur to me that I might be pregnant. It was actually the farthest thing from my mind. So, when it continued to happen, I sent for my healer and found out that I'm going to have a child." She smiled up at him.

"Treise's party was...what? Eight weeks ago?" Jareth asked.

"Seven, actually," Vivienne said. "The healer confirms that I'm about that far along. I was hoping that we could marry within the month. I'd prefer not to be obviously pregnant when we wed." Vivienne laughed brightly. "Although, with the wedding preparations so rushed, everyone will certainly suspect."

At the mention of marriage, Jareth closed his eyes briefly. How was he going to tell Sarah? Could he ever make her understand this? And, more importantly, how would he ever make her accept what he had to do?

"Who is this healer you have seen? I wish to speak to him before we discuss anything else," Jareth said coolly.

Vivienne went very still. "Are you refusing to marry me?"

"Of course not. I understand my duty and I will perform it," Jareth said wearily. "I simply wish to speak to the healer."

"Your duty? I would have thought that you would be pleased to marry the woman who carries your child," Vivienne's voice began to rise and she stood to face him.

"What would you have me say?" Jareth looked at her evenly. "Our relationship is over."

"Hardly over," Vivienne scoffed. "I carry your heir; I'm to be your wife. I would say that our relationship has scarcely begun." Her expression softened and she touched his hand, "We will be happy together, Jareth. As happy as any two people can be."

He shook his head slowly. She didn't understand that there could be no happiness from this situation.

"The name of the healer, Vivienne," Jareth insisted.

"He's still here, if you insist upon speaking to him," her lips trembled and her tone was hurt. "I had planned to discuss a health care regimen with him after I had spoken with you. Although, Jareth, I must tell you that find this highly insulting. Exactly what does this need to speak to my healer imply?"

"It implies nothing, I merely wish to inquire about the health of the child," Jareth said, his tone neutral.

"Very well," Vivienne said with a resigned sigh. She moved to the doorway and summoned a servant. "Tell Lord Carden that the King wishes to see him immediately."

In a few moments, a dark-haired young man with a pale complexion entered the room. He bowed to both Jareth and Vivienne. Vivienne presented the healer to the King.

"I have questions regarding Lady Vivienne's pregnancy," Jareth said coolly.

For the next several minutes, Jareth questioned the healer regarding Vivienne's pregnancy. He was told that both she and the child were healthy and that the pregnancy was progressing normally. He was also told that there was no way to determine the sex of the child so early during the development.

Nodding, Jareth dismissed the healer. For a moment, Jareth's shoulders slumped fractionally and then he straightened and turned to Vivienne, his expression unemotional.

"I will have the matrimonial contracts drawn up and sent for your review," he said quietly. "There is, however, something you must understand."

Vivienne began smiling as he spoke but her smile faded and she frowned slightly. "And that is?"

Jareth's eyes locked with hers. "Sarah will continue to live in the castle. She is my property and will remain so."

"You'll no longer need the mortal, Jareth. You'll have your heir." Vivienne looked puzzled, "I'm certain you can find someone to give her to. Surely someone will want her."

He simply shook his head.

"You don't mean that you intend to keep the mortal as your mistress even when you're married to me?" Vivienne looked incredulous. "You'll make me the laughing stock of the entire Underground."

"My intentions toward Sarah are none of your concern. You will be my wife but we will not be sharing a bedchamber. I assure you that I will be discreet and you will not be the object of ridicule."

"I don't find this acceptable," she said, her eyes narrowing slightly.

"It is non-negotiable, Vivienne."

She looked at him silently for a long moment and then said with a casual shrug, "Very well, as you wish."

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 17 of 28

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