Continuing Tales

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 15 of 16

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Jareth's euphoria and his relieved laughter over Sarah's recovery were short lived. In moments, exhaustion began to set in. Reordering time was taxing and even with the Labyrinth's huge reserves of power at his disposal, it had taken a great deal out of him. Unfortunately, along with the draining weariness, acute awareness of all the inhabitants of the Labyrinth once again rushed in on him. He had to find a way to raise the barrier that the Labyrinth usually kept between them. Without that separation, he feared being driven mad. There were too many voices, too many thoughts, too many others in his mind. But he wanted to raise the barrier in such a way that he retained command of it. Never again would the Labyrinth have sole control of its power.

Turning his attention back to Sarah, he compelled himself to focus completely on her. He tried to ignore the myriad voices that were threatening to overwhelm his mind, and the weariness seeping into his body.

"Do you remember what happened?" Jareth asked quietly.

She frowned slightly. "I remember getting out of the car and then something shoved me--twice--and I lost my balance and fell." Her frown deepened. "I know I hit my head because it hurt." She raised a hand and rubbed the back of her head gingerly. Surprised, she glanced at Jareth and sat up. "I don't have a bump on my head. It's not even sore."

He nodded slightly. "I would ask a courtesy of you. There are many things we need to discuss but we are both tired. Go back to your room and sleep. We will talk further in the morning."

"But something pushed me," she said, plainly confused. "What the hell shoved me? Do you know? I don't remember seeing anything."

"I promise that we will talk in the morning," he said, tension becoming evident in his voice.

She looked at him closely for the first time since she awoke in the cabin. "Are you okay? You look awfully pale."

"I am fine," he said through gritted teeth. "But I am very tired."

She swallowed hard at his tone and then stood, nodding uncertainly. "I left the car running. I'll go turn off the engine and get my keys."

Jareth shook his head. "That is unnecessary." He concentrated and, outside, the car suddenly stopped running. He reached into his coat pocket and closed his hand around empty air. When he pulled out his hand, her keys dangled between his fingers. Silently, he held them out to her.

"Oh, you turned it off," she said, surprised. She gave him a curious glance and took the keys from him. "I didn't think you'd know how. Thanks."

He nodded and watched as she walked toward her bedroom. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the sketch Sarah had given him lying on the floor, the glass shattered within the frame. She hadn't noticed it yet. In an instant, the sketch disappeared from the floor and reappeared, whole and undamaged, lying beside the lamp next to his bed. The fatigue he was feeling increased incrementally.

Sarah stopped at her bedroom door and turned back to him.

"Jareth, I'm really sorry about..." she began softly.

"Please, Sarah," he said, his voice suddenly sharply. "No more tonight."

She flinched and then looked away from him. "Okay," she said, nodding. Her voice was strained. "We'll talk in the morning."

She went into her bedroom without looking at him and closed the door.

Jareth sank down on the bed and dropped his head into his hands. He had not meant to snap at her, but the voices in his mind were becoming louder and more encompassing and his lack of energy was more persistent.

Dealing with this type of magic was unfamiliar territory and Jareth tried a number of blocking spells to no avail. Finally, a variation of a spell designed to shield the wielder from psychic attack was strong enough to protect him from the brunt of the Labyrinth's power.

He could feel the apologetic presence of the Labyrinth itself hovering anxiously at the edges of his consciousness but he pointedly ignored it. He would deal with it when he returned to the Underground.

As he spoke the last words of the spell, the presence of the Labyrinth inhabitants faded to an indistinct murmur. They were still there, but were easily ignored. Just as important, they were also easily called back to the front of his mind. The Labyrinth's power still surged within him, but it was now a muted hum rather than the roaring energy of before.

Jareth removed his coat and shoes. With a gesture, his sleeping attire was dry and clean, and he stretched out on the bed. He knew that he should return to his kingdom as soon as possible, but he also knew that he would be engulfed with important demands on his time and attention the moment he returned. He and Sarah needed to work out the problems between them before they went back to the Underground. If he had revealed to Sarah that his magic had been returned, he would have been forced to explain exactly why it had been returned. That was something he wanted to contemplate before talking with her.

His unexpected and forced acknowledgement of his love for Sarah had made things awkward. He did not want her to learn of these feelings until he was completely certain that they were reciprocated. He would not needlessly place himself in a weak position. While it was apparent that Sarah certainly wanted him to love her, her feelings toward him were not as clear. Why was Sarah so convinced that sex with him was what she desired most?

These thoughts whirled around in Jareth's mind until the exhaustion claimed him and he slept.


Sarah tossed and turned but was unable to sleep. Finally, she gave up and lay in her bed thinking about the earlier events of the evening. She couldn't understand what had caused her to fall. Something had pushed her. Hadn't it?

Each moment that passed made her a bit more dubious of what had actually happened. She knew she had struck her head. She remembered the intense burst of pain vividly but then she remembered nothing else until she awakened lying on Jareth's bed.

He must have found her and brought her inside. Had he gone out to try to stop her from going? Or was it to ask why it was taking her so long to leave? And if she had injured her head badly enough to lose consciousness, why was there no evidence of that injury now? Was it possible to knock yourself out and not even end up with a headache? Or had Jareth talked the Labyrinth into curing her?

The more she thought about that last idea, the more sense that it made. While she hadn't been able to convince the Labyrinth to heal Jareth when he became ill, she didn't have the same type of relationship with it that he had. He must have asked it to heal her and it had agreed.

She'd ask Jareth exactly what had happened. He said that they'd talk in the morning, but he was acting so strangely. Before she'd gone outside, he'd been furious with her. After she woke up on his bed, he had immediately began laughing--she had no idea what that had been about. Then, only a few minutes later, he'd acted annoyed with her. With his mood swings, how was she ever supposed to figure him out?

She sighed. And obviously, the Labyrinth was talking to Jareth again. It had certainly ratted on her quickly enough. If it had only waited a few more hours, she would have told Jareth the truth herself. While he might not have taken the news any better coming from her, at least she would have had the opportunity to explain.

A distinct feeling of guilt swept through her. She was the reason that he was stuck here. She was the reason that his kingdom was suffering. She was the reason that he had suffered. No matter now many times she turned it over in her mind, there was only one sure way to fix this.

Trying to gather her courage, she lay there until the first rays of the dawning sun began to brighten the edges of her bedroom window. Finally, she forced herself from the bed and quickly brushed her hair, all the while avoiding her own eyes in the mirror.

Taking a deep breath, Sarah opened her door, stepped into the living room and went to Jareth's bedside. He was lying on his back, the blankets pulled up high on his chest, his breathing deep and even. He was sleeping so peacefully that she almost turned and fled but she knew that she didn't have a choice.

This had to be done.

Sarah carefully sat on the edge of his bed.

"Jareth," she said softly. "Wake up."

He shifted in the bed slightly, but otherwise didn't move.

Sarah reached out and lightly shook his shoulder. "Jareth," she called again. "Wake up."

This time, his eyes opened. They were hazy with sleep and he blinked a few times to clear them.

"What do you want?" His normally crisp voice was roughened by fatigue.

Sarah folded her hands together at her lap and wet her lips nervously. "I know you're mad at me."

Jareth opened his mouth and Sarah shook her head quickly. "Please don't interrupt, let me finish. This is going to be hard enough to say as it is."

Before he could speak, she continued rapidly, her eyes fixed on her fingers, which were twisting together nervously. "I'd hoped that you knowing the truth about the bargain I made with the Labyrinth would be enough to..." her voice faltered for a moment and then strengthened, "to complete it. Obviously, that didn't work.

"The only way that I can see that we can settle this bargain is if you and I have sex." Her cheeks burned and her words came out in a tumbling rush. "It's obviously not something that you want to do, but I think we should go ahead and get it over with." Sarah stole a glance at Jareth and saw that his eyebrows had shot up in surprise. She quickly ducked her head, her hair falling forward to conceal her face.

"Before we do that, I'd like to ask you a favor. I know that you're very angry, but this will be my first time to do this. I would appreciate it if you wouldn't deliberately make it any worse than it has to be."

After she'd finished speaking, Sarah kept her eyes on her hands and waited for Jareth to reply.


Jareth was still very tired and when Sarah awakened him, he felt an initial flash of anger. He had thought that he'd made it perfectly clear that they would talk in the morning. But then she made it apparent that she wasn't there to talk.

As he'd listened to her stammering reason for waking him, his anger had turned to amazement.

"Your first time to do this," Jareth repeated slowly.

Sarah nodded her head slightly. Her eyes were still downcast.

Jareth was stunned. Sarah was a virgin? It had never occurred to him that Sarah might still remain chaste. In his world, hedonism tended to be the rule rather than the exception and self-denial of pleasure was unusual. A fae woman of Sarah's physical maturity would have already taken several lovers by this point in her life.

"You have never before been intimate with a man?" he clarified cautiously.

She shook her head, the gesture causing her hair to swing from side to side.

Jareth sat up, wincing slightly at the weariness that still plagued him.

"Sarah, look at me," he said quietly.

She hesitated, but finally brought her eyes up to meet his.

"You have had relationships with men before," he said. "Why did those relationships never progress to the point of physical intimacy?"

"What does it matter?" she asked, frowning. "You want to go home. This is what it's going to take. Like you said, we could have gotten this over with days ago. I'm trying to correct my mistake." Her tone had become increasingly brittle.

Jareth sighed. "I apologize, Sarah. I was angry; I should not have spoken as I did."

She shrugged slightly. "It was true."

"You still have not answered the question," Jareth pointed out.

Sarah closed her eyes briefly and when she opened them, both her eyes and her voice had gone flat. "I waited for a man that loved me, a man that I loved in return."

At her explanation, everything became very clear. Jareth had not believed that love existed, but among those who did, he had heard it said that sex and love were two very different things. However, they were linked in Sarah's mind, becoming virtually the same. Mix her current belief with a 15-year-old girl's romanticized memory of a strong physical attraction and Sarah had made the assumption that a sexual liaison with him was what she desired most.

But if sex and love were the same in Sarah's mind, then what, exactly, were her feelings toward him? Could it be that she loved him but was not willing to admit it, either to him or to herself?

Jareth looked at her silently for a long moment and then moved over in the bed, making room for her.

"Lie down," he said softly.

The apprehension that shone out of her eyes was unmistakable but she lifted the bedcovers and slid under them to lie beside him.

Jareth turned onto his side to face her and watched as she tensed slightly. Wordlessly, he urged her onto her side, facing away from him, and he moved close behind her, slipping his arm around her waist.

She went rigid.

"Relax," he said softly into her ear, "and go to sleep."

"But... But aren't we going to..." she started.

"No, we are not," he murmured. "Now, go to sleep."

"But," she tried again, clearly confused.

"Go to sleep," he said firmly.

Jareth closed his eyes and, after a few moments, when he made no further movement, he felt her slowly relax against him.

His last conscious thought before once again falling asleep was that he had to be certain of Sarah's feelings toward him. If he allowed anything physical to happen between them before they each knew how the other felt, she might never forgive him.


When Jareth woke, it was early afternoon. Sarah still slept and he rose carefully to avoid waking her and went into the bathroom to shower. The hot water soothed away the last of his exhaustion and then he was dry and dressed with barely a conscious thought. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror and grinned. He would have to change. It would not do to walk out in his customary style of clothing and high boots. He tilted his head and now he wore the black suit that Sarah had procured for him. While the fabric and cut of the clothing was excellent, he would be very happy to return to more familiar garments.

When he went back into the living room, he found that Sarah was already awake and had dressed and made up the bed. She was now sitting on the sofa, sipping a cup of tea. She picked up a second mug from the coffee table and held it out to him.

"You want to explain to me what happened last night?" she said abruptly. Before he could reply, she answered her own question. "You talked the Labyrinth into curing me, didn't you? That's why I didn't even have a bump on my head when I woke up."

Jareth sidestepped her assumption.

"When I found you, you were already unconscious." He hesitated only a moment. "You were very badly injured."

Sarah blanched. "How badly?"

"You were dying," Jareth answered evenly.

"Dying?" Sarah shook her head in stunned disbelief. "You must have been mistaken."

"No," he said softly, shuddering at the memory of her limp body in his arms. "I was not mistaken."

She looked down into her tea.

"Something pushed me, something I couldn't see," she said slowly. She met his eyes. "That was the Labyrinth, too, wasn't it?"

"Yes," he replied.

"But why?" She stiffened suddenly, her eyes going cold. "Was it for you? You were so angry. Did you want it to hurt me?"

"No," Jareth said vehemently. "It made that decision on its own."

"Then why?" she cried, jumping to her feet. "Was it because I was leaving? I'd already decided to come back and talk to you." Sarah shook her head. "It doesn't care about anyone or anything except itself, does it? It almost let you die, remember? I begged it to take you back and it wouldn't do it."

Jareth's temper flared and he rose to face her. "Only because you made a bargain with it that it was bound to uphold."

Sarah's mouth thinned into a straight line and she crossed her arms over her chest. "Then let's get that bargain settled and you can go home. Just don't expect me to tag along with you."

"You seem to forget, Sarah, that you have a bargain to keep, as well. If things are "settled," as you put it, you have agreed to return to the Labyrinth."

She held up her hand to stop him from speaking.

"I'll do what it takes so that you can get your magic back and go home, but I'm not going back to the Underground," she said flatly. "I'm not going to live in a place where a maze is trying to hurt me."

"It will not harm you again," Jareth replied firmly.

"Who's going to stop it?" Sarah looked incredulous.

"I assure you that the Labyrinth will no longer have sole control over its power. I will share that power with it," Jareth said. "You will not to be harmed in any way."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better? What happens when you and I have another argument? Is it going to decide to punish me while you're asleep? You can't watch both of us 24--oh, excuse me, 26 hours a day," Sarah said derisively. "So let's just get this done and you can go home. Alone."

Jareth ignored her words and tilted his head, regarding her seriously. Perhaps it was time to bring certain things out into the open. "Why are you so certain that having sex with me is what you desire most?"

Sarah's cheeks flamed red and she looked away from him.

"What else could it be? It certainly fits this scenario. It's like the story about the monkey's paw. You end up getting your wish, but when you do, it isn't what you wanted at all."

"What do you mean?" Jareth demanded.

"I told you--I waited because I wanted my first time to be special," she said bitterly, "and now it's going to be with a man who doesn't love me."

She drew herself up and looked at him, challenge in her eyes. "So, do you want to go home or not?"

Jareth started to speak and then paused. There was something about what she said... He thought back over her earlier words.

I waited for a man that loved me, a man that I loved in return.

But she had not completed her sentence. She had only stated that he did not love her. She should have continued, saying that she did not love him either. Or she should have emphasized that she did not love him. But she did neither.

Perhaps her phrasing meant nothing. Or perhaps it meant everything.

Jareth remembered the gifts she had given him, her interest in his life and his family, the way she had calmly accepted that they would marry, and most particularly, he remembered that soft emotion flickering in her eyes after their dance.

His eyes narrowed speculatively.

"Sarah, what are your feelings toward me?" he asked.

He watched her mouth drop open slightly but, to her credit, she recovered quickly.

"At this particular moment in time?" she said sarcastically. "Right now, I'm kind of pissed off at you."

He smiled. She truly should have been fae. Even when angry, she was still quick-witted enough to deflect a question she did not wish to answer. Unfortunately, he did not intend to give her a choice.

"I will ask my last question now," he said, his smile widening. "Or, more accurately, I will ask my first question now."

"What are you talking..." Sarah's mouth closed with an audible snap as she remembered that Jareth still had the first question that he had won, the one without a time limit. He still had one last question that required her to give a complete and totally honest answer.

Her eyes suddenly widened in alarm.

"Ah, good, I see that you remember." Jareth's voice was silky. "So, tell me, Sarah, do you love me?"

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 15 of 16

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