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21 June 2011 @ 03:10 pm
Fic: What a Duet (Cara/Kahlan)  
Title: What a Duet
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Pairing: Cara/Kahlan
Rating: PG-13
Length: 6000+
Summary: Kahlan can't be on the run if she's pregnant. Cara can't leave her side, even if that means living in a forest cottage.
Notes: For random_zombie  who won my helpthesouth  auction. She asked for Cara/Kahlan and some kind of accidental marriage/forced domesticity trope, and this is what my brain popped out. It's set post-Season 2, and some plotty aspects may seem familiar to book readers.

Cara's relief on finally saving Kahlan was quickly tested by a new revelation.

"What do you mean you don't know who the father is?" Cara didn't understand how women could deal with this sort of thing. Oh the troubles of sleeping with men in the first place.

"I didn't have my memory!" Kahlan twisted her hands in her skirt. "The spell kept me from making new memories, so I still don't know who I slept with but now I'm pregnant and..."

Cara blinked and waited. "And?"

Kahlan's lips pressed together in a tight line. "Richard carried on to fight Jagang. He's gone. They're all after me, though, and if I'm pregnant..." Her look to Cara was awfully pleading.

"Oh no..."

"Cara, you're my only friend."

Hands on her hips, the Mord'Sith protested. "You have other friends!" A pause. "Just because I can't name them doesn't mean they don't exist. You're...a woman...you have to have other friends who can do this for you."

Despite the gravity of the situation, Kahlan's lips quirked. "Aren't you a woman?"

Cara's mouth opened and shut before she shook her head. "Not that kind of woman."

"I don't know if 'that kind of woman' even exists," Kahlan said, lips curving in a hint of amusement despite the drama. "But truly, Cara, if I don't have you, then who do I have?"

Skipping over that protest altogether, Cara jumped to the next. "I have duties! With Lord Rahl!"

"Who is gone, need I remind you." Kahlan's voice had the hint of steel in it. No, it probably wasn't comforting to know that Richard could go on without her. "Cara, we are going into hiding. No arguments."

"This is lunacy!" How did the Confessor always manage to breach her comfort zone?

Now it was Kahlan's turn to put hands on her hips. "You spent a year tracking me down and yet six months more is torture?"

Cara glared just a little. "Six months in a little cottage. Watching you..." her mouth twisted in a grimace "knit booties."

Kahlan seemed on the verge of giggles, despite the weariness in her eyes. "Cara."

The Mord'Sith pouted.



"You know you'll agree to it, just give up now." Kahlan reached out to touch her friend's arm and smiled a little. "Please, you know I need you. This is difficult."

At last, Cara sighed. "Fine. But only because...you are my friend."

"And you admit it now. I'm proud of you."

Cara's withering look did nothing but make Kahlan slide her hand down Cara's arm, squeezing the Mord'Sith's gloved hand. She breathed out, and Cara felt the shudder of tension in her grip. These things were not Cara's area of expertise, but stress she understood. And loyalty. And this was Kahlan, so it was more than loyalty. What, she hadn't figured out yet. Feelings were so annoying like that, defying category.


The little cottage could have been worse. Rough hewn logs made it look less cozy, and at least Kahlan didn't hang pastel quilts everywhere. "You know what pastels are?" the Confessor had teased her when she made the dry remark. Cara had huffed. Just because she didn't like them didn't mean she was ignorant.

But that had been a moment of levity in an hourglass full of misery. Kahlan didn't want to be pregnant with some mystery man's child of course. Or mystery woman, perhaps; Cara wouldn't put it past the world, given all the Powerful Magic running about. She didn't ask Kahlan if her desires ever went in that direction, though. Some questions were too vulnerable to be asked. Not that Cara was ever vulnerable. Never.

None of this was about Cara, though. Kahlan didn't want to be pregnant. She didn't want to have to hide up in a cottage in the mountains to keep herself and her child safe during this unsteady time. She didn't want Cara to be her only companion—she never indicated that so clearly, but Cara remembered how Kahlan had looked at Richard, and filled in the blanks for herself. Kahlan kept a brave face because she was Confessor and that was their duty, but she hated this just as much as Cara. Probably more, once the morning sickness kicked in.

"Make it stop..." Kahlan moaned one morning, clutching a bucket to her heaving chest.

"The sickness?" Cara stood back a good few feet. Three weeks of this had destroyed any initial sympathy for Kahlan—or perhaps the responsibility lay solely on that incident where Kahlan had vomited in her hair—and she regarded it as just another task to do for her friend. No comfort required until Kahlan's stomach was behaving.

"The rain," Kahlan said. "It makes me feel sick."

"Oh spirits..." Cara mumbled and rolled her eyes. Much as she cared for Kahlan's well being, this was just not where she wanted to be.

Where she wanted to be. She knew a thousand places that didn't fit the requirement, and none that did. Well, knowing is half the battle, as Lord Rahl always said. Not the real Lord Rahl, the old one. Darken. Richard's idea of wisdom was "follow your heart"—except when it wasn't, and Cara preferred it that way.


Chopping firewood for Kahlan was surreal. Delivering it into the house and seeing Kahlan slumped in a homemade rocking chair was worse. Some days Cara woke up and was sure that this was all just a dream. This couldn't be real...Cara was still on the search, surely, horse panting for breath as she searched every town from Breniddon to Stowcroft, looking for the woman who had disappeared from the face of the earth almost a year before. Maybe this wasn't Kahlan that she'd found; maybe she hadn't killed that sorceress to release the spell; maybe Kahlan was dead and this was just Cara's subconscious trying to make sense of it all.

She told herself she didn't really believe that, it was just that living in a cottage was the last thing she ever expected of Kahlan. Or herself. And this had all happened so fast. Cara set down the firewood and looked over to her only companion. Kahlan's face was a little pallid, her hands looking thin as they rested over the gentle swell of her belly. Cara would have to find more food, strengthening food. Dream or not, this mattered to her.

Even if sometimes her soul screamed that she wanted more. That this was flat. That there was something missing.


"I don't know what I'd do without you," Kahlan murmured as Cara offered her a rag to wipe her mouth.

The Mord'Sith didn't answer. Words made everything more confusing.


Kahlan didn't knit but she sewed. Sitting in the creaky rocking chair that Cara had haphazardly put together, she rocked and sewed and sang. Hours passed that way, every day, and she left Cara alone. It was oddly...considerate.

For all that, every time the sun set behind the trees and Cara realized that they hadn't spoken two words to each other, a tickling feeling built up in her chest. She itched at it, but it was an emotion and resistant to her fingers. Kahlan would have talked to Richard. Letting out a short sharp breath, Cara paced and shook her head. It didn't matter if Kahlan remembered she existed most days—which Cara sometimes grew paranoid about, if she was honest, and wondered just how healed Kahlan's mind was. It didn't matter because it wasn't about Cara. Nothing ever was.

And as always, Cara was fine with that. Just fine.


The summer passed by, and Cara's skin tanned as she hunted and gathered food, wood and water for Kahlan and her child. Her hair was finally long enough to braid out of her face, even if wispy strands escaped by the end of every morning. She hadn't touched her agiels in months. But since Kahlan was strong and glowing in health, and sometimes managed a smile, Cara counted it all worth it.

There was something alluring about this life. Quiet, safe, secluded. There had been nights where she'd lain awake, unable to sleep with the babbling of brook and crickets. But it wasn't so bad. Soon enough it would be over; Kahlan would have her child, they'd have the babe sent to Dennee, and they'd go join Richard in the massive war to the South. Until then, Cara decided she didn't feel guilty for indulging in this forbidden pleasure. A peaceful life.

As she came up the hill to their cottage one day, net of fish thrown over one shoulder and a satisfied smirk on her face, she saw Kahlan wave from the porch with a smile. "Cara, she moved," the Mother Confessor said with shining eyes.

The Mord'Sith blinked, confused. With a laugh, Kahlan grabbed her free hand and pulled her forward, splaying her fingers over the generous curve of her belly. "Oh," Cara said, just a little noise of surprise—but not the unpleasant kind.

"I was afraid I'd never feel it," Kahlan murmured. "It's getting close..."

Cara grimaced. "Not that close—" Her words stopped, though, as she felt a tremor of movement under her hand. She stared at Kahlan's belly, stunned. For all the burden and discomfort, there was a new life in there. She'd forgotten. It had been so many years since she... Well, and she had just forgotten.

"We'll be alright in the end, Cara," Kahlan said, a little more quietly. "I know this is all a big mess and we don't want to be here, but we'll be alright."

Looking up, Cara saw that there was more question in Kahlan's eyes than firm belief. She swallowed and nodded just a little, though. "Of course we will, Kahlan. This is just a detour." For some reason, she gave Kahlan's belly a little pat. "This will soon be over, and we can get back to where we belong."

Kahlan chewed the inside of her lip, but she nodded and smiled a bit. "I'll help you cook the fish."


Autumn destroyed the happy golden summer with falling leaves and crisp breezes. As the glow departed, Cara realized that there was one thing this life would never provide her. She was fine on her own for the most part—but she had needs. It was becoming annoying.

"Cara, I'm stuck, I can't get up," Kahlan called from behind the curtain Cara'd hung around the bath.

Grimacing, Cara steeled herself and approached. Even heavy with pregnancy, Kahlan's body was magnificent, and Cara was as red-blooded as any Mord'Sith. She managed to focus on helping Kahlan balance and rise out of the lukewarm water, but the expanse of gleaming wet flesh was...distracting. Once Kahlan was settled, Cara took a quick trip outside.

This was insanity. Cara valued Kahlan as a friend, of course, and there was no doubt that she was a beautiful woman—but Cara was not used to desiring that which she could not have. Yet even in the chill evening air, her blood throbbed maddeningly. Sighing in frustration, she hefted an axe to her shoulder and stalked over to the pile of logs. They'd need a good supply of firewood soon enough.

Arousal, once stirred, was difficult to suppress. Even for Cara. Despite the fact that they would be gone before winter fully hit, Cara spent hours every day at the chopping block.

"You're being more than thorough," Kahlan said when she waddled out to take a look at the mountain of firewood.

"I have nothing else to do," Cara muttered.

Kahlan laughed. "Oh I doubt that."

Cara gritted her teeth and told herself she would not look back. Kahlan didn't mean it that way, but Cara's mind disobediently shifted to what she really wanted to be doing. Not that it was probably possible, with Kahlan that fully pregnant. Oh the things that being stuck in a mountain cottage for five months did to a person.

Kahlan kept sewing and singing, now with brighter tunes that made her voice sparkle in the crisp air. Either the Mother Confessor was deliberately taunting her, or she really was starting to enjoy this. Cara just wanted to get back to civilization where she might bed someone who would not kill her in the process. She kept chopping wood as if to stop would stop her heart.


Childbirth was terrifyingly messy. Cara had forgotten that part.

Kahlan whimpered and gripped the back of the chair till it snapped under the pressure, and Cara tried to remember if it was all going well. There were too many body fluids everywhere; it reminded her of battle, and surely this wasn't right. But there was no blood yet. Kahlan shivered as contractions wracked her body, over and over.

"You need to lie down," Cara said, gesturing vaguely towards Kahlan's bedroom.

"I don't want to!" Kahlan snapped, tears leaking from her eyes just from the force of her exertion. "This has been going on all night, I'm not going to just lie down and take it." She sucked in a half sobbing breath and clenched her hands as she paced to the wall, then back to lean on the chair.

Mord'Sith were not meant to perform this role.

After watching Kahlan struggle for another fifteen minutes, not sure how much she should force her point, Cara finally clenched her jaw and walked over to take Kahlan's arm. She was not going to catch this child in mid-air because Kahlan refused to get in bed.

The moment her hand touched Kahlan's, though, the Confessor turned with another sob and clung to her. Cara made a surprised noise, suddenly finding herself being used as a cross between a pillow and a pillar of strength. She could feel Kahlan's belly contracting hard every couple minutes, and in sympathy she managed to wrap her arms around the woman, hands resting at the small of her back. "Oh Cara..." Kahlan whispered, holding onto her.

"This will be over soon," Cara murmured, firmly. "Everything is going well." Possibly a lie, but one that they both needed. The Mord'Sith's tension and discomfort faded just enough for her to breathe out and close her eyes, finding a sort of comfort in being Kahlan's source of strength. They were sharing this moment together, the conclusion of this whole awkward detour. Just friends still, unfortunately, but at least the very best of friends. It was more than Cara had ever expected.

Kahlan whimpered again, tightening her grip around Cara's neck.

"I can't catch your child like this," Cara pointed out.

Kahlan laughed through tears. "Fine, I'll get into bed."

Thankfully everything went quickly after that. A girlchild was born wrinkled and covered in blood and fluids, screaming as soon as she could, and Kahlan wept in pain and exhaustion. Cara didn't know what she was doing as she handled the wriggling newborn, cutting the cord and somehow managing to swaddle her in a clean cloth—half afraid she would break something if she held her wrong. Kahlan had no such fears, and cradled the babe to her breast as soon as Cara hastily handed her over.

There was only one clean blanket in the house once Cara had finished cleaning up the birth and afterbirth, and after she washed her hands she brought it to cover up Kahlan. She was staring down at her little daughter, eyes like bright stars radiating love for the tiny thing suckling at her. Cara's throat tightened, and she swallowed both fear and longing as she turned, saying under her breath, "I'll light a fire and leave you two be."


She looked up, lips tight.

"I messed up all your bedding, where will you sleep?"

The Mord'Sith shrugged.

"You can guard us from here," Kahlan said, scooting over to make a space on the bed. "We can all sleep in this room tonight."

Every bit of logic and intuition and training told Cara to run. Her heart, treacherous as it was, told her to stay. Her heart won out in the end, and she nodded.

Her dreams were full of tormenting images that night as she slept at Kahlan's side, and each time she woke she knew it was nothing more than she deserved. Yet she stole these intimate moments all the same.


After a restless night, though, Cara's mind finally gave up and let her sleep soundly. Late morning shone boldly through the bedroom window when Cara finally blinked awake, but it wasn't sunlight warming her chest. She stared groggily at the little heavy bundle resting between her breasts, rising and falling with each breath.

Kahlan came back into the room, hair wet. "You're awake."

"Did you leave her alone with me?" Cara asked, slightly in shock. Kahlan's daughter didn't stir.

The Confessor frowned a little, teasingly, "Should I not? Do you eat babies, Cara?"

"I don't..." Cara lost her words.

"I needed to get clean, and she seemed to settle down when she could hear your heartbeat."

Cara stared at the small dark head peeping out of the blanket. Her heart ached.

"Her name is Lucia," Kahlan said softly. "And she wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for you, Cara. I trust you with both our lives."

The Mord'Sith swallowed, tentatively raising a hand to make sure the child didn't roll off her. "Oh."

This was not going to be as simple as she'd planned. Damn feelings to the Underworld!


If Cara procrastinated on washing the sheets so she could have her own bed back, Kahlan didn't remark on it. Five days since the birth, and all three still slept under the same blankets. Cara was finding ways to turn the guilt off. There were oh so many.

"It's getting cold, I'm glad you're here," Kahlan said two days after the birth, snuggling Lucia between them as they bedded down for the night.

Cara made a noncommittal sound.

"I know you'd rather be on guard," Kahlan said the next day, "but it's probably safer for you to be well-rested and close to us."

Cara merely nodded.

"I'm glad Lucia has someone other than me to bond to," Kahlan sighed the night after that.

"I'm not bonding," Cara muttered. Glancing down, she decided that her words would sound more truthful if Lucia wasn't hugging her index finger close—but when she tried to pull away discreetly, the babe refused to let go. Well, she'd tried.

Kahlan gave her a soft smile when she looked up. "Thank you, Cara."

The Mord'Sith didn't know how to answer.


The problem was, babies were designed to invoke feelings. Cara's interest in Kahlan had, she told herself for months, been merely physical—she had needs, Kahlan would have met them perfectly. Now all that was ruined.

"Admit it, you love her," Kahlan teased when Lucia was a week old, and refused to let go of Cara's shirt.

No, I love you. Cara forced the words down, keeping silent, and glared at Lucia. Feelings for infants were leading to all sorts of feelings she shouldn't have; this baby was like her mother, trying to ruin Cara's life.


"Nothing." Gently but firmly, Cara dislodged Lucia's grip and handed her to Kahlan. "I'm going to go chop more wood."

Kahlan frowned. "You said we'd be leaving in a few weeks, there's no need. You already chopped enough to last nearly another year."

It was a mistake to meet Kahlan's eyes. Cara stared for a moment, searching for an excuse and merely getting distracted. Finally she said flatly, "Fine, I'll check the traps for rabbits."

Icy winter wind bit deeply into the heavy cloak Cara wore, stomping through the frosty underbrush. She welcomed the cold. Like scalding heat, it was cleansing and painful, masking pleasant warmth. Comfort would be the death of her. Not the physical death, but the death of Mistress Cara. She was falling in love with Kahlan Amnell, and if that wasn't the cruelest joke the universe could play, Cara would eat her agiel.

This had been a bad idea from the beginning.


"One more week," Kahlan had said.

"One more week," Cara had thought.

Then the snowstorm came.


Trapped. Cara had plowed her way north, south, east, and west. Always she met with a drift too high. Always the pass just out of reach was clogged with snow. She returned to the cottage, cheeks red with snowburn, mouth and eyes grim as death.

Timing had won a crushing victory, and Cara was forced to say through gritted teeth, "Unless there's a miracle, we're snowed in 'till spring."

Kahlan rocked nervously, Lucia held close. "We'll starve."

Cara shook her head. "I gathered more roots than we ever ate, and nuts, and I salted all the fish from the nets. And we have meat from the traps."

"You did keep more busy than you had to," Kahlan admitted, but her face still looked a little pale.

If she only knew the truth of her words... Cara sat in silence, listening to the muffled sound of snow falling from branches. Lucia made a tiny noise in Kahlan's arm and squirmed. "At least it will be easier to travel when she's not so...small."

Kahlan bit her lip and didn't answer.

They sat in silence for another hour, possibly longer. Cara's heart pounded with dread. They would survive the winter, she would make sure of that. But how would they come out the other side? She looked down at her hands, clenching them, thinking of the summer and fall that had passed like a hazy dream. There would be consequences. Stuck for at least another four months with Kahlan...she cringed to think of what weakness might overtake her by then. I love you she still wanted to say. She must never say it.


Lucia turned out to have lungs that would rival a town crier. Sleeping in the same bed as Kahlan was bad enough for Cara, but being awake in that same bed while they attempted to calm the child...it was worse.

"What if she screams all night?" Cara said, as if pronouncing some grave doom.

"Then she screams all night," Kahlan answered. "We can't control that."

Those words alone made Cara want to scream along with the baby.

A few more minutes of trying massage, feeding, changing and more cushioning, and Kahlan let her head drop back on the pillow. Dark marks under her eyes reminded Cara that she was still recovering from the birth only two weeks before. Gritting her teeth, she swaddled up Lucia the way Kahlan had showed her how, and stood up from the bed. "I'll rock her in my room. It's on the other side of the house, so you can sleep."

Kahlan was too exhausted to even protest, and just nodded.

Cara wouldn't have exactly minded a protest. But she walked off with the squirming infant anyway. Lucia wailed as if wolves were on her tiny heels, face red as a tomato and tears wetting her blanket. The sound would have melted glass, if there had been any around. Cara hated it. "Why can't you be happy?" she asked under her breath. "What more do you need from life?"

Lucia kept screaming.

Doing what she'd seen Kahlan do before, Cara put the babe to her shoulder and paced back and forth, hand patting at the small bundle. When the screaming made her grind her teeth together, she forced herself to hum instead. This child would not overcome her self control. She wouldn't allow it. A jaunty military tune, therefore, was the only sound that escaped her lips. She hummed and paced, patting Lucia's back rhythmically.

It took five minutes for Cara to realize that her humming was the only sound in the cottage.

Brow furrowing in surprise, she kept pacing and humming, listening for any change. But the only sounds Lucia made from then on were muffled incoherent sounds of sleepiness. Cara...had...put a baby to sleep. It both bothered her and made her smug.

"You are a lifesaver," Kahlan murmured when Cara brought the sleeping bundle back to bed. She leaned over Lucia and kissed Cara's cheek before curling up around her infant, the two of them almost instantly asleep together.

Cara watched them for a while. And against her will, one hand rose to touch the cheek that Kahlan had kissed. Something like a smile wouldn't leave her lips for the rest of the night.


"I hate this place, I hate the winter, I hate you and Lucia and the entire world," Kahlan said through angry sobs. "Why did you find me, Cara? Why didn't you just let me live out my days not knowing about any trouble at all."

Cara held her tongue. This depression was perhaps understandable, but she was at a loss to fix it. When Kahlan started to sob, more miserable than angry yet again, she murmured, "If I could melt the snow, I would, even if it drowned me."

"I know you would," Kahlan said through tears. "That's the only thing...the only thing that keeps me alive."

"You need to eat," Cara said, changing the subject as fear gripped her heart. She was losing her mind, and so was Kahlan.


They were snowbound nearly a month when Kahlan caught a chill. Logic told Cara that it was just a fever, and she'd never known anyone to die from one this light. But where could logic live in such a tiny cottage as this? She paced until she knew every creak in the floor by heart, eyes locked like a falcon's on Kahlan's sleeping form. Her chest rose and fell, cheeks flushed with fever, and nothing changed no matter how many times Cara wiped her brow with a cool rag.

Lucia squirmed in her cradle and made a whimpering noise. "My thoughts exactly," Cara murmured, grudgingly bouncing the infant until she soothed and clung to her...to her...whatever Cara was to the baby. "I'm as close to a father as you have," Cara had murmured one night. In her defense, though, she hadn't slept in two days when she said it.

"Cara," Kahlan murmured, turning under the sweat-soaked sheets and flickering her eyelids.

"Here, as always," the Mord'Sith said, stepping to the bedside. "What do you need?"

The Confessor swallowed slowly, bleary eyes opening. "Sit with me."


"Because I want you."

It took a few moments for Cara to swallow away the instant tightening of her throat, and sit on the bed next to Kahlan. Adjusting Lucia's position on her lap, she tried to appear unaffected.

Kahlan made a contented sound, and smiled a little.

"You're not contagious. I can leave Lucia with you, if you like."

"No," Kahlan murmured, brow furrowing. "I want you here, Cara. You've been...so good to me. I never thought you could be like this."

"I'm not," Cara muttered under her breath, but she could tell by Kahlan's tiny smile that she too knew it to be a lie. At least more a lie than a truth.

"I want you here," Kahlan whispered, and put a hand on Cara's knee.

The Mord'Sith's heart pounded. She was starting to be utterly terrified of the emotions this woman could arouse with the barest of words or touches.


Nights grew colder. Winter fell heavily around the little cottage, and made them grateful for the surplus of firewood. Kahlan and Cara and Lucia slept in one bed, piled under every blanket they had, just to keep warm. It stopped being frightening intimacy to Cara then—it was just survival.

Her days were spent in tedious chores, followed by nearly-as-tedious baby care, followed by sleep, over and over and over until she was sure her brain would melt out of her ears. When Kahlan did finally open a conversation, she welcomed it. In a world of silence, words finally became valuable.

"I can't believe I ever thought I could be a farmer's wife," the Mother Confessor murmured one evening, as Cara stoked the fire and Lucia babbled and drooled in her fur-lined bundle. "This is horrific."

"Then why do you sing so much?" Cara growled, though it was more for show than she cared to admit.

Nearly a minute passed while Kahlan didn't answer. Cara reluctantly looked up from the fire, and then the other woman shrugged. "Is not-singing any better?"

For the life of her, Cara couldn't honestly say yes. So she snorted.

"I hate it here. I'd rather be fighting in the south. Giving birth didn't change that, Cara. It's just...I won't be miserable unless I have to. I do love Lucia, and I do love the peace, and it could be a lot worse. I could be stuck here with Denna, for instance."

Despite catching the smirk in the corner of Kahlan's mouth, Cara glared at her. "That's not even funny."

"You know it is," Kahlan protested, lips quivering as she attempted to keep them unemotional.

Cara shook her head firmly. "No. Never."

The Confessor only smiled.


Over the weeks, Cara found that it was not so hard to talk much without actually saying anything. She could speak to Kahlan for hours, yet if Lucia interrupted them with a demanding cry for food, Cara still held onto all her secrets. Kahlan knew so much...and so little. And those blue eyes of hers held secrets of their own, Cara knew.

It was best that way, of course. They were friends, but friends had boundaries. Even as they slept wrapped in each other's arms, shivering a little with the cold, Cara had to remember that.

And then, of course, there was Lucia. Kahlan still couldn't remember how she'd become pregnant, but that didn't matter so much. The child was here. She had Kahlan's coloring, Kahlan's stubbornness, and a wilfulness that no child had ever been born without. Cara found herself hating and loving the babe in equal amounts, so she told Kahlan when pressed.

Kahlan's smile said she didn't believe it. Cara hated that she was right to do so.

It was impossible to feel anything but grudging affection for a tiny thing that clung so trustingly, smiled so easily, and had eyes that made you forget that once you'd denounced all love. Even when she was wailing her head off, Cara simply couldn't think of the baby as a thing. She was Lucia. She was precious in her own way.

Somehow, they were making a little family, and Cara didn't mind so much. At least it wasn't her baby.

"She loves you," Kahlan cooed, as Lucia first learned how to roll over so she could grab onto Cara's ever-growing braid and start chewing the forbidden treasure.

The Mord'Sith sighed. "She doesn't know what love is."

"No, she knows better than any of us." Kahlan watched, a wistful smile on her face.

Cara let the infant maul her hair a few moments more before tugging it loose, handing Lucia a makeshift toy to distract her. "At least we will only be here for another month or so."

"At least," Kahlan murmured.

But for the first time, as Cara stared down at Lucia and furrowed her brow, she realized that she would miss this. When they were gone, and Lucia put into the care of Kahlan's sister so that the Mother Confessor could return to war...when this cottage was left far behind, something would be missing. And not Lucia.

Lips pressing tightly together, Cara had to face the facts that she didn't want this to end. Not because she wanted to settle down, spirits no, but for something almost as pathetic. She was afraid that this was the only way she'd ever have Kahlan's love. Platonic life partner, blanket washer, wood chopper, and babysitter.

And she yearned for so much more.


Long before the passes out of the mountains cleared, the snow around Kahlan and Cara's cottage began to melt. Many a cold morning, Cara lay half beneath Kahlan and waited for her or Lucia (snuggled in a bundle on Cara's other side) to wake, and heard the relentless dripping of icicles and tree branches around them. To Cara, it symbolized an attack on this little life of theirs. An attack on the domesticity that was as close to love as she would ever know.

Her fingers twitched, tapping her thigh, until finally Kahlan stirred. It was not particularly cold, but the Mother Confessor snuggled into Cara and made a contented sound. The action was taunting, even if she didn't know. Cara had to clench her fist to keep from stroking Kahlan's hair and more...so much more.

"Is it morning?" Kahlan asked drowsily.

"Of course it is," Cara mumbled, rolling her eyes. The sun was shining brightly through their tiny window, lighting up the chamber.

"Don't move..." Kahlan murmured, shifting so her head rested between Cara's breasts. "Until Lucia wakes up, we can stay here."

"Why?" Cara couldn't help but ask, frustrated with the teasing intimacy. It was bad enough to suffer on her own, but Kahlan was driving her insane. If she didn't force all her attention on keeping still, she would have crossed all the boundaries between them at once, without a second thought.

"Because I love you and I want to stay like this."

Cara broke. Before either of them could take another breath, she'd shoved Kahlan to the side and sat up, hair askew around her shoulders, trying to mask the hurt in her eyes with anger. "Do not say that, Kahlan," she said in a tight warning tone.

The Mother Confessor looked at her with confusion. "Cara...?"

"You have lost your mind if you think that's an appropriate way to speak to me," Cara snapped, wishing her heart wouldn't ache so much. "You don't love me, and I don't want to hear you say it." Even in the flutter of hurt emotions, Cara knew she was overreacting, and anyone paying even a little attention would find it easy to read the truth. She just hoped in vain that Kahlan wouldn't. Pity would be a thousand times worse than oblivion.

"I do."

Cara sucked in a quick breath, waiting for more. It didn't come. She looked to Kahlan as she sat, hair framed in soft morning light, clad in nothing but a nightdress. "You do...what?"

"Don't be stupid," Kahlan chided in a soft voice. "I do love you."

"What do you mean?" Cara demanded harshly, shaking her head. "You can't—"

Kahlan stopped her words short by leaning in and kissing her. All the world disappeared until there was nothing left but the sensation of Kahlan's lips on her own, the warmth and pressure and undeniable spark of her skin. Cara couldn't move.

"What are you doing?" Cara demanded in a breathy tone, as soon as Kahlan released her lips.

"You don't know everything, Cara," Kahlan said, with a pointed look. "Stop trying to pretend that you do."

The Mord'Sith could feel her world crashing around her, and she stared at Kahlan with a vulnerability that seemed more potent than Lucia's. Everything that she had denied herself was sitting before her, and everything she held to be true was a lie. Kahlan was the truth, and with that truth she brought love. It stole Cara's very breath.

Kahlan seemed to understand, but still she reached for Cara's hand and clasped it. "Do you love me?"

Cara sucked in a breath and held it too long, then exhaled with a whispery, "Yes."

"Then lie back," Kahlan said, too gently for her words to be a command. "I want to stay in your arms a while longer."

It couldn't be as simple as that. But it was. Somehow. Cara obeyed, and Kahlan rested comfortably against her once again.

Lucia would not be the only new thing they would be taking away from this cottage.

As Cara ran her fingers through Kahlan's hair, she couldn't help but smile.

Merry Fivanolix on June 22nd, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!