Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 18 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

When Jareth arrived at the castle, he went immediately to his office. For the first time since Sarah had come back to the Underground, Jareth produced a crystal so that he could watch her.

Within the clear depths, her image came into view. She was smiling widely and had her hands on her hips, looking around with a self-satisfied expression. A brief examination of her surroundings told him that she was in his bedchambers.

Sarah's image began to shake. Jareth willed the image to steady but with no result. Puzzled, he finally realized that it wasn't a fault of his magic. Dismissing the sphere, he held his hands out in front of him and watched as they shook.

He knew he should speak to Sarah immediately, but he needed a moment to regain his composure. Conflicting emotions lashed at him. The seething anger he felt at both himself and Vivienne for being careless enough to create a child was rapidly being overlaid with icy dread. He knew that he stood a very real chance of losing Sarah and the thought was almost enough to choke him with fear.

Steadying himself, he went to his bedchamber. Opening the door, he was surprised to see not only Sarah but Breena, also.

"Oh, Jareth, you're early," Sarah said with an exasperated smile. "Now you've ruined part of the surprise. Dinner isn't quite ready yet."

Breena dropped into a curtsy and he nodded to her. "Lady Breena, I would like to speak to Sarah alone," he said quietly.

Breena rose and said, "Of course, Your Majesty." Giving Sarah a smile, she said, "I'll just go dress for dinner. I've left my gown in your room. If you don't mind, I will change there."

"Sure, that's fine," Sarah said softly, still looking at Jareth. A slightly worried expression came into her eyes. She knew something was wrong, but what?

Breena left the room and Jareth walked swiftly to Sarah. He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, murmuring softly under his breath. He began pressing frantic kisses across her face and into her hair. When his mouth reached her temples, she finally understood that he was saying, "I love you" over and over again.

She realized that he was trembling very slightly. Alarmed, she said, "I love you, too, Jareth. Now, what's wrong?"

He caught her face in his hands and looked down at her, his expression hungry. He was almost overwhelmed with the urgent need to make love to her, to use his touch, his body to show her how much he loved her. Forcefully, he pushed that need away. Once he told her about Vivienne, Sarah might misinterpret his actions and he couldn't afford to add to the tension that he was about to create between them.

Taking a deep breath, he released her with a look of regret and led her over to sit in front of the fireplace.

"There's no easy way to tell you this." He hesitated and then said, "Vivienne is pregnant. She carries my child."

Sarah was stunned and went cold. "What?"

"She is about seven weeks pregnant," he continued slowly.

"Seven weeks," she said numbly. "I don't... What... What are you doing to do?"

The sorrow in Jareth's eyes was clear. "Honor requires that she and I marry," he whispered. "She wants to wed within the month."

"No," Sarah shook her head slowly. "You can't. You and I, we're supposed to..." her voice trailed off and confusion shimmered in her eyes. "Do you love her?"

"No," he said quickly, "I love only you."

"But you're going to marry her?" Sarah's voice rose angrily.

"She carries my heir, Sarah. I cannot allow the child to be illegitimate. Please, try to understand." His voice was calm, but there was a look of imploring in his eyes.

"No," she jumped up, furious. "I won't try to understand. Since I came here, all I've been asked to do is 'try to understand' and I think I've done a damn good job of it. But I don't intend to try to understand this. I don't intend to try to understand how the man I love" her voice broke, "is going to marry another woman. And why? Because she's pregnant? There's nothing special about that, Jareth."

To his surprise, she began to laugh harshly, "Believe me, there's nothing special about that at all."

"I've made it clear to Vivienne that she and I will be married in name only," he rose to face Sarah and reached for her hand, but she jerked away from him. "You will remain here in the castle. Nothing need change between us."

"Nothing need change?" she repeated in disbelief. "You'll be married to Vivienne and you want me to be your...your what? Mistress? Concubine? Whore? What would be the appropriate word for a woman who sleeps with another woman's husband?"

"That is undeserved, Sarah. I have no choice in this matter. I don't like it any better than you, but I'm trying to do what's best for everyone concerned."

"No, you're doing what's best for Vivienne. This isn't best for me." Sarah started for the door. "Hell, it's not even best for you."

"Where are you going?" Jareth asked.

"I'm going to pack. I won't stay here and watch you marry her." Sarah reached out to open the door and Jareth crossed the room in long strides. His hand slammed against the door, preventing her from opening it.

"You're not leaving the castle," he said sharply.

"You can't stop me," she spat out.

"I can, Sarah, and I will, if necessary." Jareth's eyes narrowed.

"How? Are you going to put me in the dungeon? Drop me into an oubliette? What are you going to do to me? It looks like those lines you wrote for me nine years ago are finally true, Goblin King." Sarah looked at him and a cold smile formed on her lips, "You have no power over me."

His eyes blazed and he grabbed her by the shoulders. "And where would you go? You have no idea, do you? How would you provide a roof over your head? Where would find your next meal?"

At that, tears suddenly filled her eyes and she looked away from him while her hands involuntarily moved to press against her stomach.

Sarah could hear something shrieking in agony in her mind, but it suddenly seemed very far away and grew rapidly more faint, until finally it was gone and she was relieved when she felt absolutely nothing at all.

"I had a surprise for you. It was going to be such a wonderful night," she whispered dully. She looked back at him. "I want to go my room. I won't leave the castle."

"Sarah," Jareth's voice softened. "We can..."

"No," she interrupted in that same lifeless voice. "No more. Let me go to my room."


Sarah concentrated exclusively on putting one foot in front of the other. When she reached her room, she went in and curled up on her bed. She felt frozen, as if she'd never be warm again and when her teeth began to chatter, she pulled the blankets up around her.

Jareth loved her, but he was going to marry Vivienne and there was nothing she could do about it. No matter how hard Sarah tried to banish it, the thought kept creeping into her mind like a malevolent spirit intent upon destruction.

Perhaps he would let her live somewhere else. She could find a job. While there certainly wasn't any need in the Underground for a junior editor, she could cook or clean or... Suddenly, the last of her hope fled. Even if she could find a job, Jareth would certainly never let her leave when he knew about their baby.

She grimaced in the dark and touched her abdomen softly. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't tell your father about you. Not tonight," she whispered. "You're mine and I won't let you be second best. And I'm not sure I want anyone knowing yet. I don't trust Vivienne. What will she do when she finds out about you?"

Sarah knew that the numbness she felt would wear off but right now she was grateful for it. She didn't think she could take any more emotional turmoil without losing her mind. Virtually everything--her love for Jareth, her pain at the thought of his marriage to Vivienne, her anger at the situation--all of these things seemed muted and indistinct, as if they had been wrapped in gauze. The only emotion that still shone brightly was her instinctive love for her child.

She was surprised at the depth of that emotion. She'd only found out about the baby this morning and yet she already loved him or her fiercely. She knew, without a second thought, that she would do anything to protect her baby.

As much as she hated to admit it, Jareth was right. Unless she had somewhere else to live and some way to provide for her child, she couldn't leave. Shaking her head, Sarah realized that she had no options. No matter what she had said to him earlier, she was the one who was powerless.


After Sarah left, Jareth looked around his chambers and finally noticed the small linen-covered dining table, and the flowers and candles that filled the room. Each was a mute and reproachful witness to the idyllic evening she had planned for them.

He suddenly felt as if he was suffocating and a vicious gesture banished the romantic trappings. Would there ever be another romantic evening for them? He would have held more hope if Sarah had raged out her fury, throwing things in a destructive tantrum. But her apathetic manner had stripped him of optimism.

His natural reaction to fear of any kind was to take action but there was no action here to take--not in the foreseeable future. All he could do was give Sarah time to try to accept the situation and attempt to prove to her that, while they would not be joined legally, he would still consider her to be his true wife.

He suddenly felt as if he had aged a millennium. With a growl of frustration, he launched himself at the window, transforming into an owl and took flight.


Breena nervously went into the dining room and looked around the room in confusion. It was empty. Wasn't she supposed to have dinner with Ethain? Just as she was turning to leave the room, a goblin servant rushed in.

"Lady Breena," he said breathlessly, "His Grace wanted you to have dinner in the garden this evening. I was to tell you earlier but I didn't know where you were."

Breena smiled and thanked the servant. Sarah had wanted to keep the decorating of the King's private chambers a secret, so the servants had no way of contacting either of them during the afternoon.

As she walked to the gardens, she smoothed her pale yellow grown carefully and checked that her hem was hanging smoothly. A nervous smile played about her lips. She had never had dinner alone with a man before.

When she arrived in the garden, she found Ethain standing beside a small dining table already set with crystal and silver. He had dressed formally for the occasion in a dark blue jacket and breeches. Oh my, she thought, he looks so handsome.

"Good evening, Breena," he said. "You look very lovely." He looked into her eyes and took her hand. Smiling, he raised it to his lips.

"Thank you," she said, with a flustered smile. She gestured toward the table. "What a nice idea, dining outside. It is a beautiful evening."

"I had hoped you would enjoy it," he said softly as he seated her. He sat across from her and made a slight gesture. A servant brought out the first course, placing it before them.

Breena toyed with her fork as a silence fell between them. Finally, with a sigh, she said, "I'm sorry. I don't know how to do this very well."

Ethain looked puzzled for a moment and glanced down at her plate.

Smiling slightly, Breena said, "No, I don't mean eating. I mean the dinner conversation. The polite discussion that people use to get to know one other. I'm not very adept."

He laughed softly, "It is nerve-wracking, isn't it? The continual struggle to find a topic that is interesting and yet not too controversial. Perhaps you and I should make a pact."

It was her turn to look puzzled.

"We'll discuss whatever we like. If there is something either of us wishes to know about the other, we'll simply ask it. If we are able to answer, then we shall. If not, we'll move onto another question. Agreed?"

She smiled widely, "I'd like that. I'll go first." At Ethain's nod, she asked, "How did you come to be the King's aide?"

"His Majesty and I are actually distantly related through his mother's side of the family. We had been friends for many years and when he was crowned, he asked me to assist him as his aide. Now, it's my turn."

They spent the rest of the meal trading questions and becoming more relaxed with each other. By the time they had finished dessert, they were trading humorous anecdotes from their childhood.

Suddenly, a white owl burst from an open window in an upper floor of the castle, winging furiously away into the night. Ethain frowned suddenly and Breena noticed that his expression saddened.

"Is something wrong?" she asked.

Ethain tracked the owl with his eyes silently. If Jareth was leaving in owl form, things were not going well between he and Sarah. But, Ethain thought, there was nothing he could do to help either Jareth or Sarah right now and he was dining with a very intelligent and very pretty young woman.

He shook his head and smiled, "No, nothing is wrong. Would you care to take a walk through the garden?"

He offered her his arm and they walked the pathways, with Ethain pointing out some of the rarer species of flowers contained in the garden. When they reached the far edge of the pathway, he stopped and turned to her.

"Breena, there is something I would like know."

"All right," she smiled, thinking of some of the sillier questions that they had asked each other over dinner.

Ethain took her hands in his. "I enjoy your company very much. You are a very remarkable woman and I would like your permission to court you. If this is agreeable to you, I will approach your father to arrange the details of the courtship."

Breena took in a sharp breath. Ethain was asking to formally court her. This would mean that they would agree to an exclusive relationship and was, in the world of the nobility, a precursor to an offer of marriage.

She looked at him in wonder, "Are you certain you want me? You could court almost any woman in the Underground. I'm not sophisticated or..."

"You are intelligent and inquisitive and gentle and beautiful and is that a yes or a no?" he smiled.

"Yes," she said quickly. "It's a yes."

Laughing, he slipped his arms around her and then sobered, "You've made me very happy."

Breena took a deep breath and then astonished herself by putting her hands on his shoulders, tilting her head back to look into his eyes and saying, "Then I think you should kiss me."

Ethain's eyebrows shot up and he gave a slow smile. "With pleasure," he said, and his head lowered to give her a gentle kiss.

It started out sweetly, but when Breena's hands tightened on his shoulders, he deepened the kiss, tentatively giving it an edge of passion. She responded instantly and by the time they broke apart, each of them was breathless.

"And surprising," he murmured, holding her close. "I mustn't forget that you're very surprising."


After Breena had returned home, Ethain went to the King's private office and was waiting when Jareth returned.

"There you are. I wondered when you would come back," Ethain said quietly, tapping Vivienne's message against the edge of the desk absently. "I saw you leave the castle."

Jareth shot him a cold look and anger swept through him. "You read a message addressed to me that was marked as confidential?"

"Yes," Ethain said, "I would not normally consider doing so, but I felt I should learn what had caused such an intense reaction. If we were, say, about to go to war, I would prefer to know it as soon as possible."

Jareth's anger fled, leaving him exhausted. He sank down into his chair. "You've read the letter," he said wearily, "so you might as well know that Vivienne and I are to marry within the month."

"And Sarah?" Ethain asked softly. "Obviously, things did not go well when you told her."

"No," Jareth said bitterly, "things did not go well at all."

"I suppose that, the situation aside, congratulations are in order. A child is a precious thing."

"How you've turned my world, you precious thing."

Those long ago words echoed in Jareth's mind and he fixed Ethain with a severe look. "While it is not the fault of the child," he said coldly, "I wish no congratulations. As duty requires, I shall legitimize the child by marrying Vivienne and I will raise him to the best of my ability. But the price for this baby is far too high to ever warrant congratulations."


Twylla knocked on Sarah's door the next morning and waited. When she received no reply, she opened the door and looked in. She could see Sarah lying on her bed. When Twylla had heard the gossip concerning the King's impending marriage, she had been curious to learn the mortal woman's status.

When the King had gone to such lengths to keep Sarah during the challenge, everyone had assumed that she would turn up pregnant and that the King would marry her. Now that he was to marry Lady Vivienne, no one knew what to think.

Some whispered that Sarah had obviously done something displeasing and the King had discarded her in anger. Others said that the King had merely grown bored with her.

Twylla, however, suspected another motive. Hadn't the girl been seen coming from Dorenil's office yesterday morning? Surely she was damaged in some way and couldn't have children. That's why the King had returned to Lady Vivienne.

"Good morning," Twylla said as she placed the tray on the table. "I've brought your breakfast."

"Leave it," Sarah said without moving.

"Do you want me to draw a bath for you?" Twylla didn't want to leave until she had some confirmation of her theory. The other servants knew she was the human's maid. They would expect her to provide details.

"No," Sarah said. "Leave the tray and go."

"Should I lay out your clothing?" Twylla stood now beside Sarah's bed, peering at her inquisitively. She hadn't even bothered to change into her nightclothes, Twylla noted.

"Just leave the tray and go," Sarah repeated, never opening her eyes.

Nodding to herself, Twylla knew that she had been right. What else would explain this? The mortal had learned that she could not bear children and the King had thrown her aside.

While Twylla might be nosy, she was not completely unsympathetic. She reached out and patted Sarah gently on the cheek before leaving the room to share her news.


Jareth had been unable to concentrate on work. He'd finally gone to the garrison to apprise Brennan of the situation. His friend had been shocked and had immediately suggested that they go to the sparring room.

"You need to release some of that anger," Brennan said, "before you explode."

"I'm not angry," Jareth said through gritted teeth.

Brennan laughed and shook his head. "Come on," he said, slapping Jareth on the back, "we'll use the staffs. It will be a lot more satisfying than swords."

And Brennan had been right. Jareth had driven himself during the workout and sparring with the staff had been particularly satisfying, he did feel somewhat better. But his spirits began to sink again as soon as he allowed himself to think of Sarah. How was she doing? Was she all right? He knew he should give her more time, but he needed to see her.

Which is why he found himself outside her door shortly after lunch. He knocked and waited but when there was no reply, he simply opened the door and walked in. He paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the dim light provided by a single candle.

Sarah sat on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chin, arms wrapped around them protectively.

"Go away," she said flatly.

Jareth was alarmed at her appearance. In this murky lighting, her eyes were dark smudges in her paper white face. She still wore the clothing she'd had on last night and her hair was tangled where it fell over her shoulders.

He walked over to the bed, disquiet becoming stronger with each step.

"Sarah, don't do this to yourself," he said softly.

She wouldn't look at him and he thought she wasn't going to speak, but she finally said, "Has something changed?"

"No," he said, his throat tight. "Nothing has changed."

She lowered her head to rest her forehead on her knees. "I don't want to talk to you right now." Her voice was muffled.

He felt as if his heart would break and he reached out and stroked her hair. For an instant Sarah leaned into his hand, and then she tensed. Her head flew up and her eyes, suddenly burning with anger, locked with his.

"I said I don't want to talk to you right now. Go to your fiancee if you want a conversation."

Jareth flinched as if he'd been slapped and a terrible regret filled her eyes. Then it was gone and she lowered her head again.

He turned without a word and left her room.

It was obvious that Sarah was depressed and he didn't want her left alone. She needed companionship and right now she would not accept it from him. Returning to his office, he once again wrote out an invitation and summoned a courier.


When Breena arrived at the castle, she following her instructions and went immediately to the King's private office.

Ethain opened the door and seemed delighted to see her standing there.

"Breena, how wonderful. I will be with you in just a moment," he said with a grin.

Seeing at the gleam in Ethain's eyes, she blushed slightly. "Actually, I'm here to see the King. His Majesty has sent for me."

"Show Lady Breena in, Ethain," Jareth spoke from within the room. "I've been expecting her."

Ethain escorted Breena into the room where she curtsied to the King.

"Thank you, Ethain," Jareth smiled and waited.

Recognizing that he wanted to speak to Breena alone, Ethain shot Breena a questioning look, but bowed and left the room.

Jareth looked at her gravely. "Lady Breena, I would like your assistance in a rather delicate matter concerning Sarah. I first need your assurance that the things I reveal to you will remain private."

Breena nodded, "Of course, Your Majesty." She knew something must be terribly wrong if the King wanted to speak with her about Sarah.

"Please, sit down." Jareth gestured to a chair in front of his desk and impassively explained the situation regarding his upcoming marriage, Vivienne's pregnancy and Sarah's reaction to the news.

"Oh, Sarah must be heartbroken," Breena said. Her eyes filled with compassion as she regarded the King. While his demeanor was remote, Breena knew that it was certainly a facade. He loved Sarah and to be required to marry Lady Vivienne must be tearing him apart. "I'm so sorry for you both, Your Majesty," she said softly.

Jareth looked briefly surprised, as if he hadn't expected to be included in her sympathies, and he gave a nod in acknowledgement.

"I believe that your presence would be beneficial to Sarah, she is rather depressed. I would ask that you stay here in the castle for an extended visit. A room will be prepared for you and every effort will be made to see to your comfort. I will, of course, make it quite clear to your parents that I consider your visit to be a personal favor to me," he said.

Breena smiled slightly. There was no way for her parents to refuse a request from the King if worded in such a fashion. "I would be delighted to stay for as long as I am needed."

"Lady Breena, I will admit that I dislike discussing such personal matters, but I would be glad of your opinion," Jareth hesitated and then said, "Sarah is having difficulty accepting my obligations in this matter."

Breena screwed up her courage and she looked him in the eye. "Forgive me, Your Majesty, but I cannot say that I blame her."

Jareth arched an eyebrow and Breena hurried to explain. "You are asking her to accept your marriage to another woman and to accept that another woman will bear your child. You also ask her to accept that her place in your life will never be secure."

Jareth's expression became cold. "And what would you have me do, Lady Breena? Ignore my responsibilities?"

"No," she hastened to say. "I am not suggesting that at all. It's just that Sarah must be devastated and you ask her to set aside her feelings and accept everything within a few hours. Again, please forgive me for saying this, but perhaps, Your Majesty, you are simply asking for too much too quickly."

Jareth's expression softened. "I do not dismiss her pain, Lady Breena, but I cannot change this situation, as much as I would will it. I do ask that you try to help her."

"I shall try, Your Majesty, but Sarah told me of her life prior to coming back here. She was an independent woman who had her own home, her own employment. Her own life. Now, she is quite literally at your mercy and she is very aware that the loyalties of everyone around her are first and foremost to you." Breena sighed. "Sarah may no longer trust any of us in quite the same way that she once did."


Breena knocked at Sarah's door and waited. As the King had predicted, she received no reply. Opening the door, she cautiously went inside. Her heart sank when she saw her friend lying on the bed, curled tightly into herself.

"Go away, Breena," Sarah whispered, "I don't feel like talking right now."

Breena shook her head and waved her hand around the room. As all the candles and torches lighted, Sarah blinked against the glare and sat up, frowning.

"Well, that's unfortunate, because I think you need to talk," Breena pulled the chair to Sarah's bedside and settled into it.

"Did Jareth send for you?" Sarah asked, her voice flat.

"The King has been gracious enough to invite me for an extended visit," Breena said gently. "He's very worried about you."

"So he told you?"

"Yes. Oh, Sarah, I can only imagine the pain you must feel."

"I don't want to talk about this." Sarah looked at her friend with a detached curiosity. "I don't mean to be rude, but what good is talking about it going to do? Will it change anything? Will it stop Jareth from marrying that woman? Will it make all this go away?"

Breena reached out for Sarah's hand and Sarah shook her head, scooting back farther on the bed, out of Breena's reach.

Breena refused to be swayed. "Then let's talk about something else. Tell me of your surprise. You said that you had a wonderful surprise and that you'd tell me this afternoon."

Sarah's eyes filled with tears. She blinked them away as her lips trembled and then twisted into a mocking smile.

"Vivienne is seven weeks pregnant and she's going to marry Jareth. I'd say she's rendered my surprise redundant." Sarah sighed. "Go visit Ethain, Breena. I'm sure he'll be very happy to see you. I just want everybody to leave me alone right now."

"I will leave if you want but first I need to be fair, Sarah," Breena said quietly.

"Fair?" Sarah looked at her, baffled.

"I sat in front of the King a few minutes ago and asked that he consider your position. I now ask that you consider his."

"I know his position," Sarah looked away and said bitterly, "He has to marry..."

Breena interrupted softly, "That's not what I'm talking about."

Sarah's face shuttered. "What then?"

"Do you not realize that my very presence here proves how deeply he loves you and how bitterly he regrets this entire situation? For the proud and haughty Goblin King to discuss such intensely intimate matters with a virtual stranger must have been an anathema to him. And yet he did so out of concern for you."

Sarah reluctantly met Breena's eyes.

"And you, Sarah, are not the only one who is in pain. He simply hides it better."

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 18 of 28

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