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SUMMARY: Definitely AU from "Eternity" on.
Cara's POV. Kahlan/Cara, Cara/Dahlia, talk of Kahlan/Richard
DISCLAIMER: As always, everything here belongs to other (much more wealthy) people. I'm just having fun.
COMMENT: Thirteenth part, a continuation from "Rupture"
“How long is she going to do that?” Dahlia asked, bewildered.
Kahlan sat some ways from us on a felled tree, unblinkingly gazing down the path that Richard and Zedd used to leave camp. Slow, silent tears steadily streaked her face, keeping it wet and shiny. She seemed oblivious to the mid day sun bearing down on her.
“As long as she needs to,” I snapped.
Dahlia’s face curled with distaste. “Can’t you make it stop?”
I had to answer honestly, though it pained me. “No.”
“So we’re going to just sit? Here? All day?”
“I don’t know,” I said absently. Then I looked at Dahlia and made a face. Had she forgotten where we were taking her? “Maybe. Does it matter?”
She tilted her head in honest confusion, and asked quietly, “And you still think soft emotions are a desirable thing?”
I paused. “Yes.”
“I’m not seeing the advantages,” She retorted quickly.
“This is the price you pay for… the others.”
She seemed to consider that, eyeing Kahlan speculatively. “I’m not convinced it’s worth it,” she finally said. “The Confessor is a formidable woman. Yet look at her.”
I shrugged, remembering I had similar thoughts at one time. Though Dahlia expected me to explain, I didn’t feel like I had much of a grasp on what was happening either.
I never really believed Kahlan would tell Richard anything. I never believed she truly wanted to. And now I couldn’t help but half expect that moment when she would realize it was all some feverish mistake, and she would beg Richard to come back to her.
Kahlan had clung to me all night, and I had tried to soothe her. But I didn’t know quite what to do with my hands, as if gentle motions required muscles that were too long unused and had weakened. I tried anyway, but I was certain I had failed. I also felt guilty that I was pleased to be so close to her, knowing the opportunity sprang from her misery and grief and knowing what it cost her.
I felt helpless, and that was unacceptable. But there was nothing to do, nothing to fight or outwit or intimidate, that would make it better.
But I had stayed with her, held her, and watched over her as the untended fire faded out. Kahlan seemed to go in and out of sleep, fitful and restless. Occasionally during the night, I would flash on Richard’s face hovering above me, angry veins full and hot on his forehead, his mouth a thin line of hate. It would shake me, freshly, each time.
I‘d often complained in the past about some of my companion’s habits, but I liked that it meant they were familiar to me. Richard was kind and helpful to a fault and easily distracted, Zedd snored and was always hungry and told bad jokes and pointless stories, and Kahlan talked too much and kept looking for the good in people, even when it wasn’t there.
It was all annoying, but it was predictable, ordered in its way. It was part of the rhythm of my daily life. The way things were supposed to be. It made me feel as secure as morning devotions in the Temple, the rituals of the baths, and scheduled sparring used to do. The nuisances were reassuring reminders that they were there and that they were known to me.
Richard trying to kill me did not fit. Kahlan thinking she was in love with me did not fit.
Dahlia sighed pointedly next to me, raising her brows. She had always wearied when I thought too much on things, calling it “wasteful brooding”. I imagined she thought I was so much worse now. She was always the one to act first and quickly. No regrets and no second thoughts. Exactly how everyone else still saw me.
I raised the waterskin. “Have you had enough?”
“I’ve had more than enough,” she replied, stressing each word. I dropped the skin petulantly at her feet, and got up. Mord Sith feared nothing. I would have to improvise.
When I reached Kahlan, I crouched in front of her, and placed my hands on her knees, and waited for her to focus on me. When she shifted her watery eyes, she smiled in such a warm way it confused me.
“Kahlan. We can’t stay here,” I said softly. “We’re too exposed in the daylight and we don’t know if we’re being tracked. We can go on to Dinas. They’ll know to join us there.”
Kahlan straightened, and her face smoothed out, almost looking like her old self again. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“There’s no need for you to apologize.” I blinked, uneasy. “I’m…sorry I can’t do more for you.”
She looked at me, disbelieving. “You’ve done everything, Cara.”
That conflicted so much with what I thought, that it made me stare at her dumbly. Kahlan reached out with both hands and gathered mine in her lap. She started stroking my gloved fingers with a pleased, contented smile, looking at my hands like they were a gift she’d never expected to receive. “Thank you,” she barely whispered.
Then a dark thought flitted over her face. “Do you really think they’ll meet us in Dinas?” she asked, without looking up.
I didn’t know anymore, but I said yes, anyway. She nodded, convincing herself, too and strands of Kahlan’s hair fell over her eyes, and I found myself reaching up to tuck them back behind her ears. She looked up at me in wonder.
“Kahlan, did you – What did you think we would do? After? Did you believe we could all travel together, as before? What did you hope for?”
She took a deep breath and rubbed the back of her neck. “I didn’t think beyond telling Richard, really. I know that sounds…naïve. It was just…All my life, I’ve been taught that honesty and the truth were the highest good.” Her voice fell to a murmer again. “How could a Confessor lie about love?”
She licked her lips and looked up at me. “The only thing I hoped for, really hoped for, is that you’d let me prove the truth of what I feel for you. Maybe in time, that you’d believe in it. In me.”
I recognized that look on her face, but it had never been directed at me before. Not like that. It was more than affection. It was adoration and devotion spilling from her eyes, competing with the sunlight on us in its intensity. I had seen something of that look towards Richard, but never towards me.
I didn’t even realize I was crying until a fat tear slapped against my leathers.
She reached over and brushed my cheeks and then stopped herself, like she thought that’s what I wanted, not wanting to push me. “I’ll gather our things,” she said with a shy smile and got up.
She brushed against me as she rose, and I lifted myself up, too. My hand grabbed hers as she passed me. I tugged her back towards me and in the same motion I pulled her mouth to mine and hungrily tasted her. Her other arm flailed by her side for a moment in surprise, but as her lips answered mine, her fingers slipped to the back of my head, scratching my scalp, urgent and forceful.
Eventually I parted from her, taking her lower lip gently between my teeth and then releasing it as I did. She continued to lean towards me, her eyes closed and mouth still open, searching for me. Then she opened her eyes only half way, and the promise and invitation was clear.
But this was Kahlan. I wouldn’t take her in an open field with an audience, like some willing Sister in the baths. I traced her lips with my thumb, making my own promise. “We should go,” I said, looking her steadily in the eyes.
She didn’t respond for so long, I thought she didn’t hear me. But then she nodded slowly, glancing back down at my mouth.
As I walked away from her, I couldn’t figure out why my face ached until I realized it held a large, full smile that I couldn’t tame. Dahlia watched me approach, her expression unreadable, but her posture looked like her arms would’ve been crossed, if she’d been able.
“Well. That was effective,” Dahlia said with cold approval, as I neared. “At least it got her moving.”
As I gathered the supplies on the ground around us and loosened the rope that held her there, Dahlia's stare scorched me, fixed and unwavering.
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