Continuing Tales

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 13 of 16

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Sarah flinched when she felt a soft touch on her shoulder. Peeking out through her fingers, she saw Jareth.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, puzzled.

At seeing him standing so close, Sarah jumped back, dropping her hands from her face. Her breath rapidly hitched in her lungs once, twice, a third time but showed no signs of slowing. She struggled to bring her breathing under control and failed.

Jareth grasped her by the arms. "Sarah? Are you ill?"

"I think," she gasped between breaths, "I think..."

Black dots swam before her eyes and the sudden fear that she was going to pass out stabbed at her. Alarmed, she broke away from Jareth. Grabbing the paper bag that had held the apples, she began to breathe into it. After a few moments, her breathing came under control.

Embarrassed, Sarah tossed the bag onto the counter and glanced at Jareth. He was obviously confused and...was that concern she saw? Her eyes quickly slid away from his.

"I couldn't seem to stop," she said, rubbing her eyes. "I’ve never done that before."

"What happened?" he demanded.

"I was hyperventilating."

"And that means?"

"It's when you breathe way too fast. It can be a caused by a..." her voice trailed off. Had she really been having a panic attack? She never had one before. But then, she’d never had the shocking realization that she was in love with the Goblin King before, either.

"I just got a little overwhelmed," she finally said. "The holiday and...everything." She waved her hand vaguely.

"Why were you breathing into that bag?" he asked, frowning. "That is an odd thing to do."

Sarah laughed weakly. "It corrects the amount of carbon dioxide in my blood," she answered. At his confused expression, she just shook her hand. "It doesn't matter. I'm fine now."

Jareth gave her a disbelieving look. "You are overly tired. In the past few days, you have slept little. These naps you have taken are not helping you to rest."

"I'll be fine," Sarah insisted. "I'll make dinner and everything will be okay."

He arched an eyebrow. "The meal is unimportant," he said mildly.

"No," she shook her head. "It’s Christmas and we’ll have Christmas dinner."

She could hear shrillness creeping into her voice and she grimaced. He didn’t seem to understand that this was the last Christmas dinner she would have. He was wrong, it was important.

"Then I shall assist you in preparing the meal," he said.

Her eyebrows shot up. "You don’t even wash dishes. How are you going to help?"

"You will instruct me," Jareth said simply.

Astonished, her mouth dropped open. The thought of teaching Jareth to cook threatened to send her back into hyperventilation.

"No," she shook her head. "It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer, but it would be easier if I did it myself. You go read and I’ll make dinner."

"Is there going to be a repeat of this hyper... hyper...?" Jareth made a frustrated gesture.

Sarah flushed. "I don’t think so."

His eyes narrowed and he looked her over carefully before nodding reluctantly.

She let out a sigh of relief when he returned to the sofa and picked up his book.


Sarah sat at the dining table, peeling apples for the pie and stealing little glances at Jareth as he sat, absorbed in reading. How had it happened? How had she fallen in love with him?

‘Don’t be stupid,’ her mind sneered. ‘You’ve been half in love with him since you were 15 years old. All you’ve done is taken the last few steps toward the inevitable.’

She frowned suddenly. What would happen to her when they went back to the Underground?

You have no power over me.

It had barely been true when she first spoke those words and it certainly wasn't true any longer. She was entirely too vulnerable now. What would life be like there for a woman in love with a king? A king who didn’t love her in return.

Sarah closed her eyes against the tears that threatened to rise. She drew in a shuddering breath and opened her eyes to find Jareth silently watching her. She quickly looked down and concentrated on peeling the apples.


Jareth had been keeping surreptitious watch over Sarah while she worked at the dining table. Her earlier ailment concerned him greatly. But, he supposed it was only natural that he would be worried, she was the key to returning to the Underground and he certainly didn't want her to become ill.

He glanced up from his book and saw that she was sitting with her eyes closed and a melancholy expression on her face. He had hoped that this holiday would not be painful for her. Her earlier mood had been so buoyant and he wasn't certain what had caused it to change.

As he watched, Sarah opened her eyes. When she met his gaze, he had a split second to recognize an almost despairing look flash through her eyes before they lowered again.

Enough, he thought. He laid his book aside and walked to the dining table. When she didn't look up, he reached out and stole a slice of apple from the bowl. As he'd known it would, it got her attention.

"Hey," she exclaimed, her head jerking up. "If you eat all the apples, I won't have enough for a pie."

"One slice will surely not affect the outcome." He smiled and took a bite.

She smiled faintly. "I used to do that."

He sat across from her and arched an eyebrow.

"Steal slices of apple," she explained. "And that's exactly what my grandmother would say. 'If you eat all the apples, I won't have enough for a pie'."

"Tell me of your grandparents," he said.

"There's not a lot to tell. They were my dad's parents," Sarah said, continuing to slice the apples. "My grandfather was in the army during World War II..."

"World War II?" Jareth interrupted.

Sarah shook her head. "I'll explain all that some other time. Anyway, he met my grandmother when he was stationed briefly in Georgia." Sarah glanced at Jareth, "A far away province."

"And they married."

"Yes, and when he came home from the war, she moved to Connecticut with him. They bought this place to use on vacation and after my grandmother died, Grandpa sold the house and moved here."

"He lived here alone?" Jareth finished eating the slice of apple.

Sarah nodded. "He said that he couldn't stand to keep their house in Connecticut. Too many memories."

"You said that your grandmother particularly enjoyed this holiday, also," Jareth recalled.

Sarah smiled. "Oh, yeah. She always had decorations everywhere. Her family was so poor when she was a girl that they couldn't really afford to celebrate Christmas. I think she was trying to make up for all the years that she didn't have much of a holiday." Sarah laid down the knife. "Would you like to see a picture of my grandparents?"

Jareth nodded.

Sarah wiped her hands on a dishcloth and went into her bedroom. When she returned, she carried a framed photograph. She handed it to Jareth and he examined it. A tall, sandy-haired young man wearing a military uniform and a wide smile stood with his arm proudly around the waist of dark-haired young woman. The woman, smiling shyly out at the viewer, wore a light-colored suit and carried a small bouquet of flowers.

"This is their wedding picture," Sarah said.

"They were a handsome couple. Your grandmother was a beautiful woman," Jareth said. He looked from the photograph to Sarah. "You bear a striking resemblance to her."

As he watched, Sarah colored slightly. "Thank you," she said softly.

"We should have a wedding portrait done," Jareth said thoughtfully. "If you do not want to paint it yourself, you can audition artists and select the one you wish."

Sarah sat down and began slicing the apples once again. She said nothing for a moment and then asked, "Would you want a wedding portrait? It's not like you have much choice in all this. You just got stuck with me."

"Perhaps we have been forced together," Jareth admitted. "But that does not mean that our marriage has to be unpleasant."

Sarah took a deep breath. "What do you want from this marriage? From me? I mean, besides children. What do you want?"

"Want?" he asked blankly. What was she asking?

"Yeah, do you just want someone to look pretty and be a hostess? Do you expect us to live separate lives until it's time to have another child? Or do you want an actual wife?"

He was taken aback for a moment. He had always considered children to be the primary purpose of marriage. He had never actually thought beyond that point.

"I suppose," Jareth said slowly, "that I would like a friend."

Sarah met his eyes and he was surprised by the sudden glimmer of hope he found there.

"Me, too," she said softly.


Sarah began to prepare the chicken and huffed out an annoyed sigh when she realized that she was out of tarragon. In the storeroom, she located an extra container of the spice but, turning back toward the door, hesitated. After a moment's contemplation, she found the sack containing the wine and pulled out the Chardonnay. It would go well with the meal and she knew that there were wineglasses in the cabinet. Besides, she had to tell Jareth the truth in the morning. One way or the other, she would be leaving here, so it was a shame to let the wine go to waste.

At the door, she stopped again as an icy feeling of dread swept over her. She had to tell Jareth the truth in the morning.

On second thought, she went back and picked up the champagne and pinot noir, too. She decided to have at least one glass of each tonight and try to forget what she had to do tomorrow.


While the chicken finished roasting, Sarah took a quick shower and then, in her bedroom, she rummaged through her tiny supply of cosmetics. At the time, she hadn't even been aware that she'd packed them. Apparently, she'd simply dumped the entire contents of her bathroom drawer into her suitcase. She gave a shudder at the memory of that fearful trip out of New York.

But tonight was a special occasion and she wanted to make an additional effort to look nice. A little blush, a touch of eye makeup and a quick slick of lipstick gave her a face a bit of extra color. She got dressed and then brushed her hair out.

A small voice in her mind jeered at her reason for taking this extra care in her appearance. 'Special occasion,' it scoffed. 'You want to look nice for Jareth.'

"It's Christmas," Sarah murmured aloud, examining her makeup in the mirror. "That's all."

And in her mind, that little voice laughed and laughed.


Sarah checked the timer and removed the chicken from the oven. Everything else was ready, but the chicken needed to stand a few minutes before being carved. A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed that everything was in place on the dining table. While searching the cabinet for wineglasses, she had found her grandmother's crystal candleholders. It had taken her a little longer to find candles that would fit them, but she'd finally located a box of tapers pushed to the back of the junk drawer.

She found the corkscrew and took the Chardonnay from the refrigerator where she had allowed it to chill. When she turned around, Jareth was standing beside the oven.

"It smells wonderful," he said. His eyes widened as he took in her appearance and he smiled. "You look very nice tonight."

"Thank you, um, can you work one of these things?" she asked, holding up the corkscrew. "They never work for me."

Jareth took the implement from her hand and, smirking slightly, deftly opened the bottle.

Sarah shook her head wry appreciation. "If you ever give up being the King of the Goblins, you can always become a sommelier."

He grinned and gave a slight bow. "Shall I pour the wine, then, madam?"

"Yes, please, and light the candles," she smiled.

When Sarah placed their prepared plates on the table, Jareth held her chair for her and then took his seat.

After complimenting Sarah on the meal, they ate in silence for a few moments before Sarah spoke.

"What happens when you get your magic back? Are you going to..." her voice trailed away as she struggled to find the words she wanted to say.

"Am I going to what?" Jareth prompted, taking a sip of wine.

"You've been nice to me," she said finally. "You weren't when you first got here and you weren't when I met you before. Is everything going to change when you--when we--go back?"

"I did not know you then," he replied. "When we first encountered each other, you were my opponent and I acted accordingly." He hesitated, "And when I arrived here, I was confused about the circumstances. I still am, but I have come to understand that you are no longer my adversary."

"You know that we're still going to argue, right?" she said slowly.

"Now? About what?" Jareth looked surprised.

"I mean when we get married," she smiled slightly. "We're going to argue."

"Sarah, I would expect no less from you." He laughed.

"Well," a teasing light came into her eyes. "You have to promise that when you get really angry with me, you won't send me to the Bog."

"Now why would I make a promise like that?" Jareth smirked. "It sounds like the perfect threat to keep a recalcitrant wife in line."

"Because sooner or later, you'd either have to put up or shut up. And I know you; you'd do it. I'm warning you now, if I end up permanently stinky, I will follow every step you take for the rest of your life. If I have to smell it, you have to smell it."

"Ah, well, if I have to suffer, I suppose that's reason enough not to do it," he grinned. "So, no sending you to the Bog."

Sarah's smile faded and she glanced down. "What will happen, then? I mean, seriously, if we have an argument are you just going to, poof, vanish? Or get mad at me and send me someplace else? Are there rules for that kind of thing? I'm not going to end up in an oubliette, am I?"

"You will have your own magic, don't forget. Even if I were to send you to an oubliette, you would soon be out of it," he reminded her. "There are no specific rules, I would assume that each couple must decide those things amongst themselves."

Sarah nodded. "Well, no zapping me away if we're arguing. And no poofing away either."

Jareth laughed. "Your terminology needs a bit of work, but I get the gist of what you are trying to say--no fleeing from arguments. But you must agree to the same terms."

"Okay," she said. "When we argue, we have to stay and talk it out."

"Agreed," he nodded.


After dinner, after the apple pie had been eaten and complimented, and the dishes washed and put away, Sarah took out two new wineglasses. She briefly wished that her grandmother had invested in champagne flutes, but you couldn't have everything, she thought. The champagne didn't require a corkscrew to open and so she wrapped a dishtowel around the cork, held it firmly in place and twisted the bottle gently.

Jareth had just finished rebuilding the fire when he heard the subdued pop from the kitchen.

In a moment, Sarah walked into the living room carrying two glasses of wine twined through her fingers and a bottle of champagne in the other hand.

"Champagne?" she asked with a smile, holding out the glasses to him.

"Are we celebrating?" he inquired. He carefully extricated one of the glasses and held it up, admiring the tiny streams of bubbles rushing along the sides.

"It's Christmas, that's enough reason to celebrate," she replied. She placed the champagne bottle on the coffee table and sat on the sofa, drawing one leg underneath her.

Abruptly, Sarah asked, "Do you like being the Goblin King?"

Surprised at her question, Jareth sat next to her, angling his body to face her.

"I have never thought of it in that fashion," he said slowly. "It is my responsibility. If I had a choice, I would not perform certain duties that are required of me, such as taking children who have been wished away. But I enjoy the power of the position and, at any rate, I was not given a choice. I must rule the goblins to the best of my ability."

"I'm still not sure I understand why solving the Labyrinth was supposed to be some indication of whether I was supposed to marry you," Sarah asked. "I mean, what if I'd been nine instead of fifteen?"

"A girl too young to marry would be too young to solve the Labyrinth," Jareth explained. "As it was, while you were physically mature enough to wed, you were not mentally ready to become a wife."

"You know that I'm not going to be able to help you with distracting people who run the Labyrinth. I don't think I could go out and be all flirty with some guy who was trying to get a child back. I just don't think I could do that," she said softly.

"That will never be part of your duties. Distracting those within the Labyrinth is my obligation alone to bear," Jareth said. His mouth quirked in a quickly suppressed smile. "And I was not 'all flirty'."

"Yes, you were. You were definitely flirty." Sarah grinned.

"I was seductive," Jareth clarified, finally giving in and smiling.

"No," Sarah shook her head and spoke before she thought. "You were flirty. Your pants were seductive."

Embarrassed, her hand flew to her mouth and she blushed.

Jareth laughed with obvious delight. "Sarah, how much wine have you had? I believe you are intoxicated."

"I don't drink very often. I'm not intoxicated, but I am very relaxed. Maybe a little too relaxed," she admitted, chagrined.

"I have wondered. Were you tempted in the least to accept my offer?" Jareth asked quietly.

"Are you kidding? Of course, I was." She hesitated and looked down into her wineglass. "I wasn't the most popular girl at school. Boys didn't really seem to notice me and I don't guess I was ready for them to. But to suddenly be the focus off all that attention from somebody like you? It was overwhelming." She stole a glance up at him. "I didn't know how to deal with it. I didn't know how to deal with you. Not... Not on that level."

She drained her glass and Jareth lifted the champagne bottle questioningly. Her head tilted in contemplation for a moment and then she leaned forward, holding out her glass.

"Sure," she said. "Why not?"

He refilled her glass and she settled back onto the sofa.


Jareth was talking, but Sarah wasn't listening closely. Instead, with the sound of his crisp voice rising and falling in her ears, she simply looked at him. The way the flickering firelight wove through his hair transformed it into a shimmering cascade of spun silver and gold. She remembered how soft it felt in her hands when she'd dried it for him and, unconsciously, her fingers stroked gently over the fabric of the sofa.

Her attention drifted to his mouth and she gave a wistful little sigh. Pale rose lips parted as he lifted his wineglass, giving her a glimpse of sharp white teeth. Her eyes lowered to his fingers as they held the stem of the glass. Even encased in gloves, it was clear that they were long and perfectly formed.

She nibbled her bottom lip as her gaze flicked up and took in those achingly high cheekbones, the skin over them fine as porcelain. Jareth took a sip of wine and delicate eyelids fluttered closed over enticingly mismatched eyes.

Sarah had heard stories claiming that the fae were actually fallen angels, too proud and haughty to remain in heaven but not deemed wicked enough to be cast down into hell. Looking at Jareth now, she had no difficulty believing that it might be true; he was absolutely glorious and yet his beauty held an underlying darkness that fit those tales completely.

She knew that this was dangerous thing to be doing, particularly in her current state. While she wasn't drunk, she was very definitely tipsy, and her inhibitions regarding certain types of behavior were becoming more distant with each sip of champagne.

Before the wine, pushing Jareth down onto the sofa and straddling his lap was unacceptable behavior. Now, however, it sounded like a marvelous idea.

As his glass lowered, their eyes met and she saw with a shock that his were twinkling with knowing amusement.

She'd been caught.

Sarah swallowed hard and placed her glass firmly on the coffee table. No more wine for her. In fact, the smartest thing she could do now was beat a hasty retreat.

Rising a bit unsteadily, she gestured vaguely toward her room. "I think I'd better go to bed. Goodnight."

"Retiring so early?" Jareth's voice held just the slightest mocking edge.

Sarah shot him a wry glance. "I think that would be best."

She made it to her bedroom door before the thought that she had been pushing to the back of her mind all evening finally slammed into her full force.

Tomorrow Jareth would know the truth. Everything that happened thereafter would be tainted by it.

Sarah paused, hand on the doorknob, and then walked back to him.

"Jareth?" She hated the way her voice broke. "There’s something I want to know."

"Yes?" He looked up at her, waiting.

She gave a strangled laugh. She was standing; he was sitting. That wasn't going to work.

"You, um, have to stand up," she said.

Looking slightly puzzled, he rose and she walked close to him.

Hesitating only a second, she raising a shaking hand to place it lightly on his chest and watched as comprehension flared in his eyes.

"What would it have been like if it had been more than sympathy?" she murmured.

He gave a slow smile and stepped into her, almost but not quite touching her. Sarah's eyes slid closed as he leaned forward and brushed his mouth against hers softly once and then again more firmly.

His arms came around her then, gently pulling her against him. His mouth covered hers, his tongue brushing against her lips, and she parted them at this encouragement. When his tongue slid into her mouth to tease against hers, her arms slipped around his neck.

His mouth tasted of champagne and he kissed her leisurely, as unhurried as if he had all the time in the world. When her arms tightened around his neck, he deepened the kiss and then broke it, only to claim her lips from a slightly different angle. His mouth became more demanding and one hand came up to cradle her head while the other moved to the small of her back, urging her hips forward to press more intimately against his.

When she felt him, already beginning to grow erect, she unwittingly moaned into his mouth and he responded instantly, the kiss becoming harder and more passionate. It was only when his hand came up to brush against her breast, and she instinctively arched into him, that Sarah finally came to her senses. They had to stop. Now.

She broke away from him, trembling and wide-eyed, and she stumbled back a little, gasping for breath.

"I think... I think I need to go to bed now," she said, breathlessly.

Jareth was suddenly looking at her as if she were a particularly tempting treat on a dessert tray and, at her words, he grinned.

Sarah flushed. "I mean, goodnight."

She turned and quickly went to her bedroom. Once inside, she closed the door and tried to convince herself that she hadn't been running.


Jareth smiled as he prepared for bed. He hadn't failed to notice the makeup that Sarah had been wearing. He had no doubt that it had been for his benefit, and her almost impudent manner throughout the evening had been most alluring. If this was the effect that wine had on Sarah, he would make certain that champagne was served each night in their bedchamber.

And then there had been the kiss. While it had definitely been erotic, it had been strangely comforting to hold her in his arms. His body had protested when she left, but his amusement over the haste with which she fled had outweighed any discomfort he felt. She would be his soon enough. Her hungry appraisal of him when she had thought he wasn't paying attention guaranteed it. While she continued to struggle against the attraction between them, her resistance was melting away.

As he reached to turn out the bedside lamp, he once again picked up the sketch she had given him. First honey cakes for breakfast and then the gift of this sketch. He couldn't recall the last time that anyone had given him two gifts in one day, and, other than his parents, no one had ever giving him a gift without expecting something in return. Sarah had turned out to be a very surprising woman. Having her in his life everyday promised to be quite enjoyable.

Giving the sketch one last glance, Jareth set it aside and turned off the lamp. He settled down into bed and slipped into sleep.

And into a dream.

He was standing in the living room of the cabin, clad only in his sleeping attire. The room seemed to be exactly as it had been when he had retired. The fire crackled quietly in the fireplace and the empty wineglasses still stood on the coffee table that he had moved against the wall. A quick glance confirmed that Sarah's bedroom door remained closed.

As Jareth looked around the room, the silent voice of the Labyrinth suddenly echoed through his mind.

"You must bring her to us. We remain incomplete."

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 13 of 16

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