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19 June 2011 @ 09:48 am
Fic: Hide your face so the world will never find you (Part 3)  
Title: Hide your face so the world will never find you (Part 3)
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Kahlan/Darken Rahl
Summary: They both want this child, but for different reasons
Warning/Notes: See Part 1.
Part 2.


The role was seductive, almost erotically so at moments. A smile here, a touch there, an emotion let loose when his mind screamed to hold tightly. Of all the ones he'd played since childhood, this role required the least amount of hiding. He discovered, ironically, just how little of his life was really taken up by scheming.

But a little went a very long way.

He allowed himself to touch Kahlan more once her belly started to show. The swell wasn't noticeable to anyone else; only his eyes knew every inch of her, no matter the distance between them, but he took advantage of it. They had not shared marital relations since she conceived, and he thought a few caresses would hardly overwhelm her.

They almost did overwhelm him. Kahlan's skin was softer than any he'd felt, and the little rush of connection as he sat by her side and stroked her stomach came automatically. He let it. There was no harm in enjoying the role, as long as his goal was met in the end.

"Have you been feeling well?"

She sat very still as he ran his fingers around the slight curve that marked where their child grew. Still, but not frozen. That was different. His little smile at that could mean whatever she wanted it too—he cared not.

"I have, my lord."

Someday he would have her use his name, as he used hers. But not yet. Darken gave his wife's belly another stroke, eyes following the movement of his hand. Almost, he asked her to remove her nightgown. His fingertips itched for more intimacy, but he settled for the warmth he could feel through the thin fabric.

It was not a mere act when he forced himself to pull away. This role was addicting...it was the same, and different, from every one he'd played before. He wanted her. When he finally won her, it would not be merely an abstract triumph.

But he shook the thought from his head, rising from the mattress to prepare for another day of distance between them. Slipping into his small-clothes, he said without looking back to her, "Mistress Kellan of the midwives said that you did not take the draught she prepared."

"It was unnecessary. I felt no sickness."

Darken turned with a hint of a smile on his lips. "We can hope that our daughter will inherit your strong constitution."

It pleased him that she didn't flinch at his smile. And the slight cock of her head, as if demanding an explanation for it, was such a Confessor thing to do. He had a catalogue in his head of such things. They were unexpectedly attractive.

The rest of the small talk was entirely without purpose. To tell the truth, he grew tired of words. What was unspoken mattered so much more, and there was more than enough of that to decipher already. Not nearly enough when it came to the language of touch, but he stole what moments he could.

In a way, they only increased the craving. It wasn't part of his plans, to want a wife he could touch—just that, just touch—and he turned to physical pleasures to distract from the weakness.

Pleasure was a drug. In the moments when blood ran hot, when he was lost in the body of a woman, the world was perfect as he imagined. Kahlan's sweet thighs around his waist, her skin against his, a pure intimate joining—it was not an ideal marriage, but he'd never expected that. It was enough.

The drug lasted only moments. He would call out her name, the warm whisper of "Kahlan", and then release would crest and fall. Darken was used to reality, but those moments of hedonistic imagination were a guilty pleasure he would not give up. Everyone deserved a break from reality. Eyes still closed, he caught his breath and let himself fall slowly back to earth.

"My lord?"

He fell faster than intended. Mistress Triana, lying breathless and sweaty beneath him, stared at him with dark befuddled eyes, her question hanging awkwardly in the heated air around them. Darken wanted to hiss at her, strike her, for catching him off-guard saying Kahlan's name aloud.

The role he played of decent husband had tainted him with weakness in more areas than he intended. Too much honesty. Not even his faithful Mord'Sith were allowed to know that he would prefer to sleep with his wife, but could not. All for a plan that he controlled, but still, they couldn't know. Lord Rahl having to resort to fantasies was unacceptable knowledge for anyone to have.

Jaw tight, he rolled off the Mord'Sith and gave her a shove. "Leave."

Triana didn't protest. She was experienced to know when it was time to pretend that nothing happened. Gathering her leathers from the floor, she started to lace them on.

Her presence reminded him too much of the momentary weakness. "Leave now," he amended.

So she left unclothed.

This role of being in love with Kahlan Amnell was seductive, but Darken didn't like feeling as if he was falling for his own trap. No matter how lovely a picture the trap presented.

Kahlan was only one goal in his life. She would not become his life.

*

She felt a little flutter—that she told herself was fear—when her child kicked right at Darken's hand. He smiled, proudly, and Kahlan again had doubts about her plans. She had not counted on her husband paying attention to their child.

"The child has her mother's strength already," Darken Rahl said as he rose to his feet, though leaving her hand on the generous curve of her stomach.

Would that strength be enough to see past the proud attention her father would show her? To see the monster beneath? Yet maybe he would not be a monster to their child; even tyrants could have moments of goodness. No. No, that was foolish. Not him.

He was still looking at her when she brought her thoughts back into focus. "You have made me so happy, Kahlan."

They were the last words she expected to hear from him. Her throat tightened; her instinct told her to end the facade by telling him she was tired. But her eyes couldn't find the facade in his expression, and so she hesitated.

He did not. "Our child will bring us such happiness. Have you thought of a name for her?"

Kahlan swallowed, recovering her composure. "No." This was not real, none of this was real. This child was born into a nightmare, and she could not pour all her hopes and dreams into such a babe. "I assumed you would choose, my lord."

Darken nodded slowly, removing his hand from her belly and brushing a fingertip over his lower lip. "Arianna," he said, but after so little time that she wondered if he'd pondered the question before. "After my mother."

"Your mother?" Kahlan's surprised question came out before she could stop it.

For the first time in their marriage, it was he who set his jaw and pulled slightly away from her. "Does it surprise you that I had one?"

Kahlan appreciated the defensiveness. "I just never heard you speak of her."

Darken looked at her with a sort of knowing expression in his eyes that made her flush. No, they barely spoke of anything, let alone their pasts. After a moment he seemed to deliberately shrug off the sudden tension. "You never speak of your mother either."

"She died when I was very young." Her hands twisted a little, thinking of her father.

"As did mine," Darken answered with eyes focused on a past lost to the world.

She was curious. It had never crossed her mind that Darken Rahl had once been a child. Panis Rahl's son, but what of the mother? "Arianna," Kahlan mused softly. "It is a lovely name."

"It is."

Once, Kahlan had thought that Darken would kill her as soon as he had an heir. She'd given her servant girl, Alice, a mission in case that were to happen. But seeing him stand now, distracted by the mere mention of a woman he'd barely known...she reassessed the situation.

Whatever else was a game, his reaction about this was not part of it. Her powers might be locked away, but she could still sense that much. And she could tell, through intuition that had served her well all her life, that he would not make his daughter's life a mirror image of his own. Darken Rahl would not let his child grow up motherless.

She laid a hand over her womb, and when the babe kicked again she said without thinking, "Arianna approves of the name choice."

The words sounded out of place in this mess of a life, and she regretted them the moment they fell from her lips. Yet Darken merely turned back, almost smiling. "I'm glad."

Kahlan felt offset for the rest of the day.

*

Despite the unexpected honesty of the day they named their daughter, Kahlan did not often converse with him. Darken more than anyone knew how powerful charm alone could be, especially his own, but there were limits. Kahlan would test those limits at the very least, and now was not the time to falter. For her to desire him, she had to know him, and as a Confessor she had enough self-control to resist mere physical seduction.

As the months of her pregnancy wore on, he started making his presence more known. It had the pleasant side-effect of bringing him close to their daughter, and he couldn't deny a tickle of delight when she responded to his voice with flutters and kicks, but what mattered was Kahlan. She never tried to be harsh with him if he showed attention to her pregnancy; maybe she felt guilty, or merely obliged out of duty to be his wife.

Either way, it did not matter yet. They were alone, and they would talk. It was an easy little game, compared to the others he played with Kahlan.

She lay as she usually did, on her side with her legs tucked just enough to support the weight of her belly. It was appealing, the way pregnancy filled out her already-perfect form. But that wasn't why he was here. Though her back was to him, Darken did not protest, lying as he did with his arm curved around her belly, cradling possessively the unborn child they'd created. Kahlan was his wife, this was their child. Someday she would be happy for it, even if it took years to seduce her heart. Yes, he would wait years.

Arianna kicked occasionally, and his lips quirked each time he felt the pressure against his hand. Game or not, he valued this. It was almost hard to hold himself back; he had to 'change' in Kahlan's eyes gradually, or she'd never believe it. He didn't stop to ask if he had to believe it too. Fingertips brushing the fabric smooth over her taut belly, he took pleasure in the simple sensuality of Kahlan's motherhood, as it was soon to become.

She didn't flinch, but he could tell by the intake of breath that she would not keep silent. Good. He preferred when she initiated; it made his role easier.

"Is not your Council waiting for you?"

"They will wait as long as I make them wait." He ran his thumb over where Arianna had just kicked. "I am father as well as ruler."

The words didn't relax her. It was good that he didn't expect relaxation, then.

When she spoke, her voice was low and steady. "You know that no matter how well you treat our child, I will never care for you."

An eyebrow rose, but he didn't look up to her face. "Never is a close-minded word, Kahlan."

"I cannot forget or overlook that you were willing to kill innocent people. Families." Her restraint was admirable; he'd once heard far more heat behind such words.

Taking a deep breath, Darken shifted back, though he left his hand splayed over her swollen stomach. "It's an accusation that can be very easily leveled at you as well."

"You did it for power."

"For safety," he corrected. "Many more innocents die when lands are scattered and at war, rather than united under a cause of peace."

She didn't scoff, but she didn't accept the point either. So stubborn. "Peace is just a side benefit. You sought control."

Darken shrugged slightly, acknowledging the bare truth if not the tone and judgment she added. "And what did you seek, when you waged war with the lives of innocents?"

"Freedom," she answered without a thought.

He didn't argue the point. It would be useless to discuss how no one's ideals were that pure. Heroes never admitted to being human, to enjoying the power and influence that came with championing 'goodness'. Maybe one day they would have that argument, but for now he simply wanted to talk. He mused aloud, "I sought power to save lives, you to free them. Is freedom more important than life, Kahlan? Is that your justification for causing such death?"

She hesitated only the barest of moments. "Yes."

"Then why are you here?"

Darken couldn't deny a smug satisfaction at the long minute his words just hung in the air. He so dearly loved to win points in a duel, even if the victory he sought from Kahlan was one of the heart rather than the mind. She had a sharp wit, but he had the advantage of a lifetime of arguing against conventional wisdom.

Finally she answered. "I'm here because it's not just about my life. I'm the Mother Confessor, I must protect the Midlands above myself."

He turned his gaze up to meet hers, and waited until she turned her head. His lips softened into a hint of a smile, and he was glad that there was no need to say anything but the truth; it was easier. "That's why I must rule. The greater good of our two lands is worth more than freedom or any individual life. We operate under the same principles, you and I."

Kahlan had no immediate answer to that.

Satisfied with their conversation, Darken leaned in and pressed a light kiss to her belly. For affection, possession, playing a part—motivation was such a complicated thing.

He had a country to rule. It was her move on the chess board, and he had no doubt that it would take much deliberation before she found a way to counter him.

*

The high-pitched wail of a newborn turned Kahlan's haze of pain and exhaustion into something like euphoria, emotions completely taking over her being. She caught her breath, felt the sweat trickle between her breasts, and almost laughed at the overwhelming weight of feeling. All her defenses worn down by a labor that had taken a day and a half, she was left with pure instinct, and cared only that her daughter was born and healthy.

Arianna screamed as the midwife swaddled her, almost loud enough to cover up when the door opened and her father was ushered in. The blood had been cleared swiftly away, for no Lord Rahl should have to see the full mess of birth. Kahlan didn't care, just felt a pang of sudden fear when she saw the midwife place the crying infant in Darken Rahl's arms.

This child would be his downfall, Kahlan had planned. This girl-child born of unholy union would restore everything to rights. Surely if her father knew, he would wring her tiny neck. Kahlan's heart skipped a beat, forgetting all logic as fear gripped her chest so that it felt like she would bruise.

She locked her gaze on Darken and held her breath. But he stood as still as her, awkwardly cradling the bundle of wriggling infant, eyes locked on the new wrinkled face. They were too far away for Kahlan to do anything but watch, but close enough for her to truly see. She waited, breath still caught, to make sure she saw correctly. For minutes he didn't move, face caught in the same bewildered expression.

Darken Rahl looked at his daughter as if she were the sun, and he was a seedling finally reaching out of moist spring soil.

Kahlan wondered for the first time if there might be a hint of a soul left deep inside of her monster of a husband. And she shivered at the heresy of the thought.
 
 
 
brontefanatic: Rahl and Kahlanbrontefanatic on June 19th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
So the baby's finally here!

I liked Kahlan finally concluding that Darken would never let his child grow up as he did.

As much as I enjoy the maneuvering between Darken and Kahlan, I am very eager to see how you develop his relationship with his daughter. Clearly that's a dynamic that fascinates me <_<. I see Darken as someone who desperately wants that emotional conection, yet would hate or be terrified at the vulnerability that parenthood can bring - when a child's life and love become so important to you. "Darken Rahl looked at his daughter as if she were the sun, and he was a seedling finally reaching out of moist spring soil." - This is a wonderful line.
Merry Fivanolix on June 19th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
I'm always interested in Darken-as-father as well. This story is more about Kahlan and Darken's relationship, but the effect of parenthood is an underlying key to that, so it's all connected.
confessorlove: LotS | Kahlan | Babyconfessorlove on June 19th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
*FLAILS ALL OVER THIS CHAPTER* The belly touching and the baby naming and the just IDK *FLAILS*

I really have like nothing coherent to say except YAY ARIANNA :3333333333333333333333333333333

P.S.: Inner!Kahlan is mad at Fic!Darken for not holding his wife's hand during labor :P
Merry Fivanolix on June 19th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! :3

And well, I think fic!Kahlan would have punched him if he tried to hold her hand. She does not like him at all :P
Lisa: legend of the seeker: richard cyphermeridian_rose on June 20th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Loved the name discussion - lovely name, too - and how again Kahlan and Darken have something in common. It is a odd moment when his mother is mentioned, because in canon she's never there, nor is Zedd's wife. It makes sense that Kahlan is surprised to discover something of her identity - and does this worry her, that she too might be one day nothing more than a distant memory who was eclipsed by her husband and child?

Next part was pretty hard going for me and I admit a skipped over it a bit.

The aftermath of the birth and the Lord mustn't have to see blood seems very in character and yet a silly sensibility given how much blood he spills - there's a lot of hypocrisy in both Darken and Kahlan. The talk of the child as having a distinct purpose - 'his undoing' shows a ruthless side we sometimes forget Kahlan has, one that shows more when she's paired with Darken than with the idealistic Richard.

And the close; now Kahlan sees a touch of true humanity in Darken and it strikes at her deeply held beliefs about him, and she's worried..

I don't know how far into the future you intend writing this, how much we'll see Arianna grow up. The name, with the a suffix, makes me think of her as a potential Mord'Sith - a leather clad Lady Rahl with an agiel on her hip and the power of Confession in her hands. I don't think I've seen that yet; Bex's Rachel Rahl has always struggled with the duality and has been seen as weak by Darken, while Riona's Nila Rahl is still very young but is currently a spoilt brat trading on the Rahl name without showing any of the steel and reserve I associate with the idea of a Lady Rahl. Which is the joy of fic, where so many different things can be explored.

Merry Fivanolix on June 20th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
On one hand it bothers me that we don't hear about Darken's mother...on the other hand, it makes so much of his characterization that much richer.

and does this worry her, that she too might be one day nothing more than a distant memory who was eclipsed by her husband and child?

This is addressed, though not as explicitly as that, in upcoming chapters. Kahlan has to own her identity in this universe, because it's not handed to her on a silver platter (at least, not the identity she wants).

there's a lot of hypocrisy in both Darken and Kahlan

That's what makes them especially interesting as a couple, IMO.

I don't know how far into the future you intend writing this, how much we'll see Arianna grow up.

It would be giving away too much to explain who/what all the major characters and themes will be...but I can say that Arianna's current thematic purpose is just as a tool of manipulation for her parents. Darken especially uses Kahlan's pregnancy and then their child solely to bring himself closer to Kahlan. Kahlan only wants a confessor child to change the world. Neither of them are, right now, thinking of the consequences of creating a family—they're looking at each other, not really at Arianna. The story, likewise, keeps that focus on Darken and Kahlan for many chapters yet.
Lisa: legend of the seeker: cara smilemeridian_rose on June 21st, 2011 07:17 am (UTC)
Oh, I'd never want you to give away plot points, I just enjoy the speculation :D
I'm interested to see your Kahlan and Darken, who are currently working at cross purposes, grow and change as time goes on.
Rionahrhrionastar on June 20th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
Ooh, the baby :D

I love that last scene, where Kahlan's hatred conflicts with her impartial Confessor judgment.


For the first time in their marriage, it was he who set his jaw and pulled slightly away from her. "Does it surprise you that I had one?"
This is just so cute :D And I love that Kahlan realizes Darken doesn't plan to let his daughter grow up motherless.

The conversation about their reasons for, well, killing people was also really well done :D
Merry Fivanolix on June 21st, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
Thank you!