Continuing Tales

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 9 of 16

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Jareth was startled when Sarah asked for his forgiveness. But he was even more startled that she had placed her hand on his arm. He caught himself before he jerked away from her, reason overcoming his instinctive rage at being touched without permission.

The fact that she was reaching out to him physically, even with this small gesture was promising and he forced his anger away.

"Go to bed, Sarah," he said finally. "It is late, I should not have awakened you."

"So, you won't forgive me," she said with a sigh. It wasn't a question.

"We both believed a story that was untrue," he said carefully. "There is nothing to forgive."

She looked at him doubtfully. "Are you sure?"

"I am quite certain." He nodded firmly. "Go back to bed and we shall talk in the morning."

She started to speak and then just nodded slightly. She took the mugs into the kitchen and placed them in the sink. She stopped at her bedroom door and turned back to him.

"Goodnight, Jareth," she said softly.

He inclined his head, and she went into her bedroom and closed the door.

As he changed into his sleeping attire, Jareth thought back over the book and the effect that it had on him. While he refused to acknowledge to Sarah that she had been correct in some of her assumptions, a great deal of his agitation over King Richard's historic portrayal was caused by his own unjust depiction.

Why anyone would believe that he would change children into goblins was unfathomable. No one outside of his family had any comprehension of how truly difficult it was to rule those stubborn and dim-witted creatures. He shuddered as he thought of his subjects running amok and the amount of damage that they could do when unsupervised. While they could be taught simple tasks, usually anything requiring more depth of thought than whether or not to eat a meal was beyond their capabilities.

He could only hope that the Labyrinth was protecting his castle. By the time he was able to return to the Underground, he feared that it would be reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.


When Sarah woke the next morning, she dressed quickly, and then quietly went into the living room. As she slipped past Jareth's bed on her way to the bathroom, she caught a glimpse of tousled blond hair peeking out from the top of the blanket and quickly averted her eyes. She'd already been caught ogling him when he first arrived and she certainly didn't want him to wake up and find her admiring him.

After she brushed her teeth and washed her face, she ran a comb through her hair and decided that she needed to stay busy but still be quiet. She wanted to let Jareth sleep as long as possible. He'd had a late night and she wasn't fully convinced that he was completely over the effects of the iron poisoning.

She settled on finishing putting away the supplies and doing the laundry. They were beginning to run low on clean towels. She went into the storage room and closed the door. She didn't think that the washing machine would be so loud as to wake Jareth.

After she got the laundry started, she began sorting through the bags and stocking the shelves. She found a sack containing three bottles of wine, all bearing red bows, and she remembered Jean's note.

I thought if I got you drunk, you'd consider it.

Jean must have stopped by the apartment while Jareth was there alone. Jean obviously hadn't told Jareth about the paintings or he would have said something about them sooner than he did. Sarah wondered what they had talked about.

The fact that Jareth hadn't raked her over the coals about those paintings was still confusing to her. That had demonstrated a level of compassion that she hadn't seen in him before. Apparently, she had misjudged him in so many ways. He had even offered his condolences when she'd told him about her family.

Her family... Oh god, it was four years ago today... Nonono, she wasn't going to think about that. She would think about something else. Focus on putting up the supplies. The canned vegetables went on this shelf and the dried pasta went on that shelf. She forced herself to concentrate on the stocking the shelves, arranging things as she went.

The washing machine shut off and as she reached out to open the lid, her eyes were drawn to a box pushed between the washer and dryer. She knew what was in there. All she'd have to do is open the box...

The storage room door swung open and Sarah jumped, jerking her head up.

"Good morning," Jareth said. He stepped into the room and looked around. "I would have helped you put these things away."

She smiled faintly as she took in his appearance. A charcoal gray Hugo Boss suit this morning, she noted. They were in the middle of nowhere and he looked like he'd stepped out of the pages of GQ.

"I'm sorry, did I wake you?" she asked.

Jareth shook his head and watched curiously as she removed the wet towels from the washing machine, loaded them into the dryer and set the timer.

At his quizzical look, she said, "It's like a blow dryer for clothes."

"Ah," he nodded his understanding. He gestured toward the living room before changing the subject. "I have rebuilt the fire, but I have used the last of the wood."

"Yeah, we're going to have to bring in more wood. Why don't we have breakfast first and then we'll brave the elements," she suggested.


At breakfast, Sarah looked at the suit Jareth was wearing and frowned thoughtfully. He glanced up from his scrambled eggs and caught her expression.

"What is wrong?" he asked. He looked down at his suit with a puzzled air.

"You've only got sneakers and you don't have a heavy coat. You're going to get drenched. And that suit wasn't made for going out into the snow."

"Do we have an alternative?"

She sighed. "No, I guess not. Well, if you're finished, we might as well bundle up and get this over with. "


When they opened the back door, they found that snow had drifted against the door, causing them to have to push against it several times to clear the snow away from the wooden steps enough that they could fully open the door. The shock of the frigid air stole the breath from their lungs for a moment.

Sarah went first, carefully negotiating the steps. It was barely snowing, flakes lazily drifting down from a leaden sky.

With their first footstep, they both sank to their calves. Sarah grimly started toward the shed, moving slowly through the heavy snow. She had encountered deep snow before and quickly fell into the awkward walk necessary to maneuver under the conditions.

She looked back at Jareth; he was struggling along in a kind of overly exaggerated shuffle. One foot was pulled free and placed down before the other foot was lifted. She knew that she was moving in the much the same fashion, but seeing the normally graceful Goblin King lumbering through the snow suddenly struck her as hilarious.

Sarah couldn't help it, she started laughing.

"What is so amusing?" Jareth called out, moving steadily toward her.

With each step he took, her hilarity rose. She bent over, resting her hands on her thighs as she watched him, and howled with laughter.

"You're... You're..." she gasped. "You're waddling like a duck."

He shot her a disgusted look. "You have the audacity to laugh at me? You look no different when you walk through this... this mess."

Sarah straightened, still laughing as Jareth approached. His eyes were suddenly gleaming and when he drew even with her, he reached out casually. Her own eyes widened, but she didn't have time to react. For a split second, his gloved hand rested lightly just below her throat. Then, with a disconcertingly gentle smile, he gave her a firm shove.

Her shrieks of laughter abruptly became a howl of protest. With her legs mired in the snow, Sarah was caught completely off balance. She teetered for a moment, her arms flailing wildly before she finally lost her battle with gravity and fell backward into the soft snow.

Jareth looked down at her with a smirk. "Now that was amusing."

She came up sputtering and brushing snow off her face, and out of her ears and nose. She shook her head and snow flew from her hair in all directions.

"Oh, you'll pay for that," she gasped.

"I believe I have already paid," Jareth said archly. "Consider it reimbursement for the repairs to the bridge," he called out over his shoulder.

He made it to the shed and waited.

"Well?" he said imperiously. "You have the key."

Sarah's eyes narrowed until she saw his mouth twist into a quickly smothered smile. She looked down and saw snow clinging to her everywhere. She realized that she must look like the snowman she had tried to describe to him and she chuckled. She lifted her eyes to his and, as she gave in to full-throated laughter, he began to grin.

"I hope you enjoyed yourself," she said, knocking snow off her coat, "because you won't get another free shot."

"I shall remember that," he laughed.

Still smiling, she struggled to the shed and opened the lock. Jareth looked at the firewood stacked neatly along the left side of the shed's interior and then gestured to boxes stacked along the opposite wall.

"What do those contain?" he asked.

"Decorations, mainly," Sarah said. "My grandmother loved Christmas. She'd decorate every room in her house. After she passed away, my grandfather couldn't bear to part with any of it and I just haven't gotten around to going through it."

Jareth nodded and began picking up wood.

"Hey, wait a minute," Sarah said. She reached up for an old plastic snow sled that was hanging from a hook on the wall. A long nylon cord was looped through holes on one end. She placed it on the ground. "We can put the wood on this and then just drag it back."

They quickly began loading wood onto the sled. When the sled was full, they carefully returned to the cabin, Jareth pulling the sled and Sarah pushing it. At the cabin, they carried the wood inside and stacked it in the wood box.

It took two more trips before the wood box was full. Although they had managed to trample down a path between the cabin and the shed, by the time they brought the last load of firewood into the cabin, Sarah and Jareth were both tired from struggling through the snow.

After a change of clothes, they settled in front of the fire to play backgammon. It quickly became apparent that Sarah's attention wasn't on the game.

"If you are not going to pay attention, there is no point in playing," Jareth chided after she fumbled an easy move.

Sarah gave him an apologetic smile. "I think I'm just a little tired."

"You should lie down for a bit," Jareth suggested. "We will call this game default and when you awake, you will be refreshed and will present more of a challenge."

"Your concern is overwhelming," Sarah said dryly.

"I only meant..." he began.

"I know what you meant. I think." Sarah smiled. "But you're right. I will take a nap. Think you can occupy yourself for a little bit?"

His eyebrows rose. "I am not--" he began.

"--a child," she finished with a grin. She turned away and started toward her bedroom. "Believe me," she said under her breath, "I've noticed."


When Sarah woke from her nap, she looked over at the clock and then rubbed her eyes and looked again. She had slept for over three hours.

When she went into the living room, Jareth was reading.

"Why did you let me sleep so long?" she asked.

"I did not know that you wished me to awaken you," he replied, setting the book aside.

"I would have set the alarm if I'd thought I'd sleep so late. Did you have lunch?"

"I was not hungry," he said. His expression brightened and he gestured toward the backgammon board. "I have been waiting so that we might play again."

He definitely wasn't a child, she thought with a bemused shake of her head. But he was still a big kid in some ways.


They played the rest of the afternoon away and ended up even, each of them winning two games.

After a quick dinner of sandwiches and chips, Sarah made tea and they went into the living room. Jareth sat on the sofa and Sarah took her usual place, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the coffee table.

Jareth said, "I shall ask the first of my questions now."

Sarah nodded and waited.

"Tell me of your last romantic involvement. Who was he?"

She looked down. "It's a really long, boring story."

Jareth lifted an eyebrow and gestured around. "It seems that I have no prior engagement. I have time to listen."

Sarah hesitated and then said, "After my family died, I was lost. My friends..." Sarah's voice trailed off and she gave a deep sigh. "My friends didn't know how to act around me. It was as if they thought death was contagious. They were so uncomfortable that they stopped hanging out with me. They didn't know what to say or how to act and so it was easier just to avoid me. And I suddenly had all these responsibilities. I didn't have the first clue about how to settle an estate, so when Mark showed up and offered his help, I was just so grateful."

"Mark?" Jareth asked.

"Mark Colley," she said. "He was a friend of a friend of a friend. I knew him in a casual sort of way. He was very attractive, very charming, and he planned on being a lawyer, so he knew something about the laws regarding wills." She hesitated. "I was completely alone; I was almost out of my mind with grief. I was barely eating or sleeping and I was so damn tired. It was easier to let him take care of things." She gave a bitter laugh. "I trusted him."

"I don't think we ever actually went out on a date. He was just suddenly always there and before I knew it, he'd asked me to marry him and I'd said yes." She shook her head slightly and looked away from Jareth.

Ah, Jareth thought, that was the blond man in the photographs at Sarah's apartment. The one with the possessive attitude.

"And yet you did not marry. Why?" Jareth said curiously.

"No, we didn't get married," Sarah said, ducking her head. "I didn't love him and I didn't really want to marry him."

"Then why did you agree?" Jareth prompted.

"Because I wanted someone to love me," Sarah admitted softly. "My family was gone, my friends were gone. I just didn't want to be alone anymore."

She turned her head and stared into the firelight. "The closer it got to the wedding date, the more I knew that I couldn't go through with it. And on top of everything else, Mark and I had started arguing over the money."

She looked at Jareth. "When my family died, I inherited everything. It wasn't a fortune, by any means, but it was still a respectable amount of money."

"Why did you argue?" Jareth asked.

"Mark wanted to use it to buy new cars, take expensive trips, things like that. I wanted to keep it in savings and use it to pay for my education and for the taxes on this cabin. One day, I just put my foot down and told him that the money was going to stay in the bank. When Mark realized that I was serious, that I wasn't going to spend the money the way that he wanted, he told me that he'd never loved me at all. That he'd only wanted me because of the money."

She bit her lip and glanced away.

"Perhaps he only said those things to hurt you," Jareth said quietly. "He wanted to strike out at you and knew that his words would be the most effective weapon."

"No," she said, looking back at him, "I started asking around about Mark and I found out that he'd lied about his background. He didn't come from a wealthy family; he wasn't even going to law school. He made a career out of living off of women. He'd find a woman with money and he'd make himself over to be whatever she needed him to be. In exchange, he expected her to... to buy him things."

Sarah turned toward the fire. "I felt like such a fool. And the worst part of it was that, even though I didn't love him, it still hurt that he'd never wanted me." She lowered her head. "That's pretty stupid, huh? If I didn't love him, then it shouldn't matter that he was just using me."

"No, it shouldn't," Jareth said quietly.

Her head shot up and she turned back to him. "Well, I didn't expect that you would understand." Her voice had become cool.

"Why would you think that?" Jareth asked, surprised. He had been trying to reassure her. Had he offended her in some way?

"Well, because..." her voice trailed off and she lifted her eyes to his defiantly. "Because of all your "acquaintances." You certainly haven't been alone."

"No," he said coldly, "I have not been alone."

He watched as her defiance faded, leaving weariness in its place. "See? I knew you wouldn't understand."

Sarah rose to her knees. "I'm going to make more tea. I'll get you some, too." She reached out to pick up his mug and he grasped her by the wrist. She looked at him in surprise.

He was silent for a long moment before he finally spoke.

"Through the Labyrinth I am able to control vast stores of magic. With that power, my kingdom is virtually unassailable, my place in the Seelie Court is completely assured."

Sarah looked confused at the turn in the conversation, but she stilled, listening to him.

"Most of the fae are able to produce only illusions. Glamours and trickery. They can cast a spell that would cause you to believe, in every way, that this cup of tea has suddenly become a flower. But in reality, it is still merely a cup of tea. I, however, can actually transform it into a flower.

"In a race of people who prize beauty, I am considered very beautiful and my skills as a lover are quite well known." His tone became increasingly remote. "I am in great demand as an escort to the various social functions. After all, what woman wouldn't want a suitor who could provide them with whatever they might desire?"


Anger swept through Sarah. Why was he bragging? She had just told him about one of the most humiliating times in her life and in return he boasted about his abilities and how popular he was?

"Then why aren't you already married?" Sarah asked, her voice sharp. She jerked her wrist out of his hand. "It sounds like you've got your pick of women. What's the problem? Haven't you found one who lives up to your standards?"

Jareth didn't reply; he just looked into her eyes as if he was searching for something--something he obviously didn't find, because he frowned slightly and shook his head.

When he said nothing further, Sarah snatched up the mugs and stalked into the kitchen. She rinsed the mugs out and refilled them with water. Placing them in the microwave, she set the timer with vicious little punches of the buttons.

God, Jareth was such a jerk. Why didn't he just marry one of those women? Why was he stuck here with her?

At that, she suddenly narrowed her eyes. Hadn't she already asked Jareth why he didn't marry one of those fae women? She'd asked him that question when he'd first arrived, but she'd been in such shock at the time that she hadn't listened as closely as she should. What was it he'd said? Something about his kingdom.

"The Goblin Kingdom is not prestigious enough to satisfy any of the other fae royalty."

Well, that didn't make any sense, she thought, her eyes going wide. If he had all those other things going for him, then what did it matter if his kingdom was a little shabby around the edges? It certainly didn't stop all those women from...

From what? Sleeping with him because he was good in bed? Treating him like a pretty trophy at social events? Asking him to conjure up lavish presents?

Those women thought that Jareth was good enough for all those things.

But not good enough to marry.

Sarah sighed. Why couldn’t Jareth have just told her that?

Because he’s a man and they rarely just come right out and say anything about their emotions. And because, on top of that, he’s a fae male. Throw in his natural tendency to talk in riddles and it was a miracle that they were even able to hold a conversation.

Deep in thought, she took the mugs from the microwave and prepared tea. Jareth had been trying to tell her that he understood what it was like to be used without actually telling her that he understood. How typically male.

When she went back to the living room, she didn't sit on the floor, she sat next to Jareth on the sofa. She tilted her head and considered the best way to try to approach him about the subject.

"Did you love any of them?" she asked tentatively.

"To whom are you referring, Sarah?" he drawled.

She met his eyes and winced inwardly. He’d been willing to open up for just a moment and she’d completely misunderstood. Her anger had caused him to close himself off. She'd missed her opportunity.

Sarah decided to try anyway. "The women in the sketches. Did you love any of them?"

"And this is of concern to you for what reason?" His arrogant tone was firmly in place.

"Well," she said slowly, "technically, you are my fiancé. I guess I’m curious."

"Love, in the sense that you define it, does not exist, Sarah. It is merely a pretense used by those who think they must justify having a sexual partner," he said flatly.

She shook her head. "I don’t believe that. There’s more to love than just lust."

He shrugged. "Believe what you will."

"You haven’t answered my question," she said.

"No, I have not," he said with narrowed eyes.

"And you're not going to?" she asked with dawning understanding.

He smiled coldly. "That is correct."

"I'm sorry I said that you wouldn't understand," she said softly. "I missed a cue. But I'm learning."

"Learning?" he repeated, puzzled.

"About you."

He locked eyes with her. "Are you?" He lifted an eyebrow.

"Slowly," she admitted. "Maybe very slowly. But, yeah, I'm learning."

He gave a delicate snort. "It will take you far longer than a few days to learn about me."

"Well, it wouldn't be so difficult if you wouldn't fight me every step of the way," she said, slightly exasperated. "I could use one of my questions and make you answer."

"Then do so," his voice went flat.

She opened her mouth and then closed it again, slowly shaking her head. "No."

He arched an eyebrow. "Not so curious as to waste a question?" His tone was mocking.

"It wouldn't be right to force you tell me about something that you obviously don't want to talk about," she said slowly.

Jareth looked surprised.

Sarah stood. "I forfeit my questions tonight. I'm going to bed."

She turned away and then froze as he spoke.

"I have one question still to ask," he said.

She turned her head toward him. "Then ask it." She sounded exhausted.

"Do you truly want to learn about me?" Jareth asked softly.

A frown creased her brow for a brief moment as she considered the question and then it cleared. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes, I do."

She met his eyes. "Goodnight."

At that, she turned and went into her bedroom and shut the door.


Sarah had tried to sleep, but had only ended up tossing and turning for hours. No matter what position she tried, she couldn't get comfortable. Finally she gave up. She knew what she wanted to do.

She got up and put on her robe, opening her bedroom door quietly. She stopped at the foot of Jareth's bed and listened for a moment to his even breathing. When she was certain that he was deeply asleep, she continued on through the kitchen and into the storage room.

She pulled the door closed behind her and flipped on the light. She quickly pulled out the box between the washing machine and dryer. There, among old vacation souvenirs and keepsakes, was a photo album.

Sarah placed the photo album on the top of the dryer and opened it slowly. She smiled as the first picture of her family came into view. With a hitching sigh, she traced her fingers over Toby's picture and tears filled her eyes.


Jareth woke when Sarah came out of her bedroom. He had assumed that she was going into the bathroom. But when she stopped at the end of his bed, he began to wonder what she was doing. He kept his breathing rhythmic, feigning sleep and waited. After a few moments, he heard her move away and then the storeroom door opened and closed.

What could she be doing in there so late? When the minutes ticked by and she hadn't returned, his curiosity demanded satisfaction.

He rose and went through the darkened kitchen to the closed storeroom door. He quietly opened it and looked inside. Sarah was standing at the clothes dryer with her back to him, her head bent over something. Was she doing more laundry? If so, why was she tending to it in the middle of the night?

He drew in a breath to speak to her when he realized that she was shaking.

"Sarah?" he said softly, suddenly concerned.

She stiffened at the sound of his voice, but didn't turn to face him.

"Go back to bed, Jareth," she said. Her voice was thick with tears. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"What is wrong?" he demanded.

Her shoulders suddenly sagged. "Nothing's wrong," she said dully. "Just... Just go back to bed."

She was obviously lying and he disliked having anyone lie to him. He stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder.

Her head bowed and she attempted to shrug his hand away. "This doesn't concern you," she said harshly.

His eyebrows shot up at her tone. He tilted his head and looked past her. Lying on top of the dryer was an open photograph album filled with pictures of Sarah's family. Understanding swept through him. He'd known that this had been the anniversary of their deaths, but other than her response to his earlier question, she hadn't mentioned it all day. He had thought she was trying to ignore it and so he had not broached the subject.

"Oh, Sarah," he murmured. "You needn't hide this from me."

She remained silent for so long that he began to wonder if she had heard him. Finally, she spoke.

"I know I forfeited my questions, but I need to know something," she said softly. "It's important."

"All right," he said. She had not turned toward him.

"If I had lost... If he had stayed with you, would Toby still be alive?" Her voice was a broken whisper.

"I cannot answer that, I am not a seer." He hesitated. "I can tell you what I believe, however, if you wish to hear it."

She nodded with a jerky motion.

"I believe it is possible that the time of a mortal’s death is preordained," he said quietly. "Over the years, I have seen many who should have died due to injury or illness and yet they did not. I have seen just as many who should have survived and still they died."

"Do you know who he would have lived with?" she asked plaintively. "Do you pick out families in advance?"

For a split second, Jareth considered deceiving her. He wasn't certain how she would take the truth.

"I had thought to keep him with me," he said softly. "I thought he would make a fine heir."

She turned toward him at that. Tears slipped slowly down her cheeks and her reddened eyes met his.

"Then he would still be alive," she choked out. "Because you wouldn't have let anything happen to him."

At that, she covered her face with her hands and began to sob.

Jareth was momentarily bewildered. He never knew what to do when confronted with a weeping female. He usually encountered them when he was called upon to take a child that has been wished away. The only thing of which he was certain was that, in this case, his customary aloof response would be completely inappropriate.

After only a brief hesitation, he reached out and pulled Sarah into his arms. She resisted for a moment and then relaxed against him, burying her face into the space between his neck and shoulder. Her arms slipped around his waist and he tightened his hold on her, drawing her closer.

He began to slowly sway back and forth in a rocking motion and he made shushing sounds, as if he were comforting a child. Sarah clung to him and cried until finally, her sobs trailed away into hiccupping sighs and then faded to silence.


Sarah didn't know how long Jareth held her. Long enough that she managed to cry out the worst of her pain and frustration. Long enough that exhaustion began to creep over her. She drew in a shuddering breath and lifted her head to thank him at the same moment that Jareth bent his head to look into her eyes.

Sarah froze as she realized that his mouth was scant millimeters from her own. She could feel his breath against her face and she was suddenly and sharply aware that her arms were wrapped around his waist and that he wasn't wearing a shirt.

Later, she would try to remember which of them moved first. But right now, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that his lips were warm and soft against hers and he was kissing her gently. All that mattered was the silken feel of his skin under her hands as they slid up to rest on his shoulders.

All that mattered was that she was kissing him back.

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 9 of 16

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