Continuing Tales

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 12 of 16

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As soon as Sarah finished her morning routine in the bathroom, she slipped past the still sleeping Jareth and went into the storage room to find the cartons that held the remaining Christmas decorations. Rummaging through them, Sarah found a flat box large enough to hold the sketch. A little more digging produced a half-used roll of wrapping paper and a large red bow that was only slightly squished. She smiled at the childish Santa Claus figures that covered the bright green paper.

A quick trip to the kitchen 'junk' drawer for a roll of tape and a pair of scissors and a few minutes later, Jareth's present was wrapped.

When Sarah came out of the storage room, she heard the shower running. Quickly, she placed his present under the Christmas tree. Returning to the kitchen, she put the kettle on the stove for tea and began preparing breakfast.


Jareth finished dressing and, when he opened the bathroom door, he could smell the aroma of breakfast. He recognized bacon and eggs, but there was something else, something familiar. He went into the kitchen and his eyes widened as he recognized the small golden-brown cakes that Sarah was piling onto a serving plate.

"Merry Christmas," she said with a smile.

"You have made honey cakes," he said, both amazement and pleasure obvious in his expression.

"I made a version of them, anyway," she replied. "I obviously don't have your cook's recipe. I hope you like them."

"Why did you do this?" he asked, suddenly puzzled.

Her smile widened to a grin. "Because it's Christmas and because I thought you'd like them." She gestured toward the dining table. "Well, sit down. You can tell me how close I came to getting them right."


Jareth took a bite of a honey cake as Sarah looked on anxiously.

After a moment, he smiled and nodded. "It is delicious," he said and watched as she relaxed. "They are very similar to ones that I had as a child."

Sarah frowned. "How are they wrong?" she asked. "Too much cinnamon? Too little? Are they too sweet? I can make more."

Jareth laughed softly and shook his head. He gestured toward the platter. "There is already more here than we can eat."

She gave a chagrined smile and shrugged slightly. "I just wanted them to be the way that you remember."

"Then should you make them again, add a bit more of the spice," he said as he selected a second honey cake. "But these are very close to the ones I had as a child." He hesitated briefly before continuing. "It was very kind of you to do this for me."

"You're welcome. But that's not your only surprise this morning," Sarah said mysteriously.

"Another surprise? What is it?"

"You'll see," she answered smugly.

"You will tell me now," Jareth demanded. His tone was imperious, but the hint of a smile tugged at his mouth.

"Oh, no, I won't," Sarah said promptly. "I'll tell you after breakfast." She lifted a forkful of honey cake to her mouth.

"Immediately after breakfast," he specified.

Sarah smirked.


Jareth helped Sarah stack the dishes in the sink, but before she could begin to rinse them off, he touched her arm.

"Now, what is this other surprise?" Jareth asked. Impatience flooded his voice and Sarah laughed. She'd known that his fae nature would be tantalized by the prospect of a surprise and she couldn't resist drawing things out as long as possible.

"Are you sure you don't want to wait?" she asked.

"Sarah," Jareth said, warning clear in his voice. "What is the other surprise?"

"The tree looks very nice, don't you think?" she asked with exaggerated innocence.

Jareth's eyes narrowed. "This is not amusing, Sarah. You are deliberately avoiding the subject in an effort to tease."

Sarah laughed. "It may not be amusing for you, but I'm certainly enjoying it." Her eyes gleamed. "And I gave you a hint."

Throwing his hands up in frustration, Jareth turned to look at the tree. His head tilted as he noticed the green and red package under it.

"What is this?" he asked, walking to the tree.

"It's your Christmas present." Sarah followed him with a grin.

"My present?" Jareth shook his head slightly. "I do not understand."

"It's Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, you get presents. Well, you get one present, anyway," Sarah explained.

"But I have nothing to give you in return." He glanced at her, confused.

"That doesn't matter." Sarah smiled. "That's not the point of Christmas. Come on, don't you want to open it?"

She bent down and picked up the gift. Rising, she held it out to Jareth and waved it temptingly from side to side.

"You know you want it," she teased.

Jareth arched an eyebrow and smiled slowly. Sarah was not the only one who could tease. He deliberately allowed his gaze to drift over her from head to toe. "Yes," he drawled. "I believe that I do."

Sarah's mouth dropped open slightly and her cheeks reddened.

"Here," she said hastily and thrust the package into his hands.

It was so easy to make her blush, Jareth thought with a self-satisfied smile, and Sarah deserved it for tormenting him regarding the surprise. Turning his attention to the package, he began to carefully remove the wrapping paper.

"You're supposed to just tear the paper off," she said impatiently, her hands beginning to flutter over the package he held.

He arched an eyebrow. "Would you care to open it?"

Sarah didn't look the least bit chastened. "No." She pouted slightly. "It's your present. You should do it the way that you want."

He looked at her closely. She was acting almost as if she were an excited child. Her eyes were bright and she was even bouncing slightly on her feet.

"You are truly enjoying this," he said, surprised.

"Well, yeah," she exclaimed. "It's the best part of Christmas."

"Giving gifts? Not receiving them?"

"That's fun, too, but this is better." She shook her head slightly and pointed at the gift. "Are you going to open it?"

He gave a bemused nod and then suddenly smirked at Sarah as he once again began to delicately remove the paper from the box.

"Oh, for pity's sake, you opened the gloves faster than this." Her tone was exasperated and the bouncing motion she was making had become more pronounced. Jareth laughed softly and abruptly ripped the rest of the paper from the package.

He opened the box to find a framed picture. As he lifted it from the box, he saw that it was a sketch.

He'd had formal portraits painted, of course. A near life-size portrait hung in the great hall of his castle that depicted him standing before his throne. There were others, done by various artists, displayed in different locations within the castle. But none of them compared to this small drawing.

The detail was astonishing. Sarah had captured him in the process of reading, relaxed upon the cabin's sofa. He held a book in one hand, and his head rested on the other. He wore a faint smile as if amused by what he was reading.

Jareth's mouth quirked when he saw that Sarah had taken a small artistic liberty. Rather than the dog-eared copy of "The Hobbit" that he had actually been reading, the book in the drawing was entitled "The Labyrinth."

What truly surprised Jareth was the sense of ease that Sarah had captured in the sketch. In each official portrait, there was a tension and an arrogant determination in his bearing that was completely absent here.

Jareth noted with a small shock that he appeared to be almost...content.

"Do you like it?" Sarah asked hopefully. "I mean, obviously I couldn't buy you a real present, but I framed it so that it would seem more like one."

"This is a real present," Jareth said quietly. "When did you create this?"

"Last night," she said. "You like it, then?"

"Very much," Jareth said. "Thank you. It is exquisite."

Sarah smiled widely. "You're welcome."

Jareth looked down at the sketch in his hands and then at the woman standing before him. "If you worked on this last night, you must have slept very little. You should rest a bit." He reached out and Sarah's eyes widened but she didn't flinch as he brushed a gloved finger gently over a shadow under her eyes. "You are tired."

"If I take a nap, then dinner will be late."

"Then it will be late." Jareth shrugged.

Sarah suddenly tilted her head suspiciously. "This from a man who doesn't like to wait for anything? Are you trying to get rid of me?"

He smiled. "I am merely attempting to insure that you are not so exhausted that you inadvertently poison my meal."

She hesitated. "A little more sleep would be wonderful. But just an hour. If I sleep past that, you'll wake me up, right?"

"I will wake you." Jareth nodded.


Sarah did need the rest, but Jareth also wanted an opportunity to think of something to give her in return. If he had access to his magic, he could conjure virtually anything she might want but he had nothing here that would serve as a suitable gift. Therefore, by necessity, it must be something intangible.

After thinking it over carefully, he made his decision. A small voice in his mind instinctively protested even considering such a gift, but the initial antipathy he had to the idea made it all the more appropriate.

There was only one question that Sarah had asked that he had flatly refused to answer. He intensely disliked discussing that particular topic; he found the entire subject abhorrent. But Sarah was curious and so he would satisfy her curiosity.

She had gone to a great deal of trouble in order to prepare a present for him. It was only fitting that he match her offering with one of his own.

Nodding to himself slightly, he picked up his book. Bilbo was just now creeping into Smaug's lair and Jareth was curious to learn how the little hobbit would survive his encounter with the dragon.


Sarah stretched out on the bed and plumped the pillow under her head. She looked over at her grandmother's photograph, now propped up against the dresser mirror.

"Thanks for letting me use your picture frame, Grandma," she said softly. "I knew you wouldn't mind."

Sarah smiled to herself. Jareth had seemed to like the sketch. It was fun surprising him, she decided sleepily. She'd have to try to surprise him more often.

Then Sarah was drifting into sleep and in the next few minutes, she began to dream.

She was sitting on the sofa in the cabin. The Christmas tree that she and Jareth had decorated was across the room, but this tree had a great mound of presents under it.

"I don't think Toby can stand waiting any longer," her father chuckled, walking in from the kitchen. "We'd better go ahead and open the presents."

Toby followed him, laughing and clapping his hands in excitement. He dropped down to sit cross-legged on the floor as close to the presents as possible.

Sarah looked around the cabin. Her father and Toby were there in front of the Christmas tree and her stepmother was sitting in the chair beside the sofa smiling at both of them fondly.

Sarah's father bent down and began moving presents aside, selecting specific gifts. After he had located one present for each of them, he began to pass them out.

"Okay, kid, this one is for you," he said as he handed a brightly wrapped package to Toby.

Sarah chuckled as her brother let out an excited squeal and began to rip the paper from his present.

"Jareth," her father said, holding out a familiar green and red package. "I believe this is yours."

Surprised, Sarah turned her head and saw that Jareth was sitting by her side. She hadn't noticed him there before.

Jareth smiled and inclined his head as he took the package from her father, but instead of opening it, he simply held the present in his hands and looked at Sarah.

"Sarah," her father admonished, placing his hands on his hips, "aren't you going to help Jareth open his gift?"

She nodded. "Oh, yeah. Sure, Dad."

As Jareth held the present, Sarah tore off the wrapping paper and removed the lid from the box. Inside was her childhood music box, the tiny princess already dancing and twirling to the melody that was beginning to play. Jareth lifted the music box and held it up.

"Such a pity," he murmured.

"What?" Sarah asked, looking at the music box. Was it broken?

"She is alone," Jareth said sadly. He raised an eyebrow and brushed his hand over the music box. Suddenly, a blond king in a glittering blue coat accompanied the princess.

Sarah frowned.

"No," she said slowly. "That's not right. That's not right at all."

Jareth tilted his head and regarded her solemnly. With another brush of his fingers, the princess vanished, replaced by a woman wearing a pale pink bathrobe, and the king was suddenly a man in a dark Armani suit.

Jareth held the music box out toward her.

"Do you want it, Sarah?" he asked.


For a disorienting second, Jareth's voice seemed to be coming from all around her.

"Sarah? Are you awake?"

Sarah's eyes flew open and she saw Jareth standing in the doorway to her bedroom.

She blinked and then rubbed her eyes. She pushed herself up to a sitting position and nodded to Jareth.

"Yes, I'm awake. I'll be out in a minute," she said.

He nodded back and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Sarah sat on the edge of the bed and tried to shake off the dream. It had been perfectly understandable, she decided. Christmas and presents and dancing had all blended together in her subconscious to produce a pretty little dream.

It had been nice, she thought wistfully, seeing her family like that. But she didn't want to think about the dream too closely. There were things there. Things she wasn't certain she wanted to know.


In the bathroom, Sarah splashed water on her face and tried to wake up fully. As she dried her face with a towel, she heard the beep of the microwave.

She walked into the living room to see that Jareth was making tea and when he brought one of the cups to her, she gave him a grateful smile.

"Oh, thank you so much," she said, taking a sip.

Jareth motioned toward the sofa.

"Please, sit down," he said, "I want to talk with you."

He sounded so serious, she thought. Sarah bit her lip for a moment and then silently sank down on the sofa and waited.

"I have no gift to give you in return for your present to me," Jareth said.

"Well, that's okay, you don't have to..." Sarah started and then stopped as Jareth lifted an eyebrow.

"However," he continued, "in exchange, I would like to answer your question now. The one that I originally refused to answer."

"What question?" she asked, confused. "What are you talking about?"

Jareth sat next to her and took a deep breath.

"You asked if I had loved any of the women that I have known," Jareth said quietly.

"Oh," Sarah breathed. She'd forgotten about that.

"I have not loved them," he continued. "However, I did ask one of them to marry me."

Sarah's eyes widened and she went perfectly still.

"When I first became king, it was understood that I would require a wife and children. And so I began to consider the most eligible of the various princesses and grand duchesses. After careful consideration, I made my choice and approached the woman and began courting her," Jareth paused and shook his head slightly at the memory.

"Initially, I thought things were going quite well. She enjoyed my company and I hers. We spent a great deal of time together and I believed that we were well suited to one another. Eventually, I asked that she become my wife." Jareth's eyes shuttered at the memory.

"The look of aversion that crossed her face was fleeting but very clear. She had the good grace to attempt to conceal it, but it was too late. I had already seen. At that point in my life, I was still very naive in many respects." His mouth curved in a cold smile. "I actually asked why the idea seemed so distasteful to her.

"She explained that becoming the Queen of the Goblins would cause her position in society to suffer and she could not allow that to happen. Our time spent together was pleasant, but surely I had not expected her to consider marriage.

"I was...upset," Jareth said tonelessly, "and I ended my courtship of her immediately. As I soon learned, each of the women I approached thereafter had the same view of any relationship with me.

"They expected a great deal." Jareth paused and contempt colored his voice. "They certainly were willing to take a great deal. But in the end, each of them regarded any serious liaison with me as pointless. Ruling over the goblins was a disadvantage that they had no intention of enduring."

Sarah reached out and carefully placed her hand on his arm. When he tensed, she curled her fingers and squeezed his arm lightly, but she didn't take her hand away.

"I can't imagine any..." Sarah's throat tightened as he met her eyes and she stopped abruptly. "I can't imagine anyone being so cruel," she finally said.

"Women are cruel, Sarah," Jareth answered. His voice was cool, but there was pain in his eyes that he was carefully trying to keep hidden. "Cruelty is a part of their nature."

"Not all of them," she said, shaking her head. "Not like that."

He glanced down at her hand on his arm. "Perhaps," he said softly. "Perhaps."

"Jareth," Sarah began, but he cut her off with a shake of his head.

"Not now," he said firmly. "Let's not talk about this further."

Hesitating, Sarah nodded and forced a quick smile. "Okay, well, I'll start working on dinner, then."


Her hands on autopilot, Sarah made the piecrust for the apple pie. She formed it into a ball and placed the plastic-wrap covered bowl in the refrigerator to let the dough to chill. She began washing the apples while her mind wandered back to the conversation she'd just had with Jareth.

Before she'd managed to stop herself, she had almost said, "I can't imagine any woman not wanting to marry you."

The implications of that quickly stifled observation staggered her.

Because she had meant it.

Sarah stared blindly at apple in her hands. Was it possible that she... Could she really...

She turned slowly and looked at Jareth. He was once again intently examining the sketch, a pleased expression on his face.

An image from her dream bloomed in Sarah's mind--an image of a childhood music box, and a brunette woman whirling in the arms of a blond man. That image dissolved into the memory of dancing with Jareth, the feel of his mouth on hers, and the look in his eyes as he recounted being used time and time again.

Sarah's breath caught in her throat.

Oh, god. She loved him, she realized. Somewhere along the way, she had actually fallen in love with Jareth. Not the romantic figure from her drugged dream, and not the magical king who had dazzled her as a young girl, but with Jareth.

The apple slipped through her fingers as Sarah slumped forward, rested her elbows on the edge of the sink, and covered her face with her hands.

He was vain and egotistical, arrogant and stubborn, and entirely too exasperating and frustrating.

But, god help her, she loved him.

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 12 of 16

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