The Freedom She Never Wanted

LoTS

Cara x Kahlan'

Rating: Teen and up.

Disclaimer: All characters etc belong to Terry Goodkind I'm just taking them out for a stroll.

Summary: After the Keeper was defeated, Richard gives Cara a gift she never wanted and one that forces Kahlan to realize just how much she felt about the stubborn Mord'Sith.

CHAPTER 1

"Are you sure you don't want to stay a little longer?" Cara asked, her hand soothing up and down Kahlan's back.

"Are you trying to tell me you want to cuddle?" Kahlan teased, placing a gentle kiss over Cara's breast.

"Hardly," Cara scoffed, though she was grateful for the darkness of the forest disguising the cheeks she could feel heating in embarrassment. "It's just that between Zedd and Richard's snoring, you'll never get any sleep."

"Are you implying I'd get more sleep lying here with you?" Kahlan teased and then shivered at the intense look she received in return.

"You would get anything you wanted," Cara said quietly and Kahlan had no choice but to kiss her for that. The gentle kiss she'd intended quickly became more as the taste of Cara's beautiful lips set her on fire. She moaned, parting her lips for Cara's tongue while long fingers traced her body and before she knew what had happened she was on her back, Cara's hands and mouth worshiping Kahlan in a way she'd never known the Mord'Sith was capable of until Kahlan lost herself to pleasure like she'd never find with anyone else.

"Well that was unexpected," Cara purred with the arrogance that was far more seductive than it used to be.

Kahlan laughed, pulling away from Cara's arms and, shivering as those piercing eyes instinctively trailed over her naked body. Nobody looked at her the way Cara did and it never failed to set her blood on fire which is how she had found herself intimately involved with the Mord'Sith in the first place. "Everything about you is unexpected," she returned, getting to her feet and sliding into her clothes, fighting the urge to watch Cara do the same. She suspected if she even so much as caught a glimpse of tanned skin, she'd be staying in the forest after all.

The two women dressed in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. When Kahlan started to walk back to camp she felt Cara's hand on her arm stopping her.

"Kahlan."

Kahlan turned and was surprised by almost nervous look on Cara's face. "Cara, what is it?" she asked, concerned.

"I was…you realize that in a few weeks, all of this…the keeper and the veil that is, will probably be over."

"I hope so," Kahlan smiled. "And hopefully it will be to our benefit."

"It will be," Cara replied with the confidence that could be both so obnoxious and compelling at the same time.

"Cara, what's wrong?" Kahlan asked again. She'd never seen the blonde look so wary and it seemed so wrong somehow.

"I was just wondering…" Cara cursed herself for a coward and Kahlan for making her that way, but it was too late. "What happens when this is over?"

Kahlan frowned for a moment, trying to figure out what Cara was trying to say. "Well we rest for about a week I would think," Kahlan teased but her smile faded when Cara didn't return it.

"Cara, what is it?" she asked softly. Until recently, drawing an emotion, any emotion besides irritation from Cara was like pulling teeth, but once they became lovers, it became different. During those nights they found themselves alone, Cara willingly showed a side of herself that Kahlan knew without a doubt nobody else had ever or would ever see. There was still the familiar passionate arrogance in the way Cara loved her but there was a surprising tenderness in every touch that was impossible for Kahlan to resist. And occasionally, she caught a glimpse of the innocent wonder in Cara's eyes that had first captivated Kahlan when Cara had described the birth of the Nightwisps, the vulnerability that had been the catalyst to Kahlan acting on the desire that had continued to grow the more time that they spent together. That expression, as fleeting as it was, never failed to tug painfully at Kahlan's heart and it did so now.

"Once we've…rested," Cara answered slowly. "You will return to Aydindrill."

"Of course," Kahlan replied, confused.

"And I will return to D'Hara."

"Well sure. I mean you…" Kahlan froze as she finally understood what Cara was asking.

"Cara, are you wanting to know if what we've shared will continue?" Kahlan asked with bemusement. Suddenly everything, the gentle touches, the expressive looks, the caresses and embraces after their passion had been sated, all bombarded Kahlan's mind and a truth she had never expected to know became clear and her heart clenched painfully inside of her.

Cara turned her face away. "The thought did cross my mind," she replied but the nonchalant tone in her voice no longer fooled Kahlan.

Slowly Kahlan pulled out of Cara's arms and sat up, gathering her clothing. "Cara, I hadn't planned… I thought we were just…" she paused, uncertain of how to finish that statement. The way Cara stiffened told her she'd just made a very big mistake.

"I see. You thought we were just…easing tension," she interrupted bitterly. "And does Richard know about your little sexual exercises?"

"Of course he does," Kahlan replied, confused by the strange tone in Cara's voice. If she didn't know the blonde any better, she'd think it was hurt. "I wouldn't keep something like this from him, and he said that he's okay with my feelings for you. He assured me that since he and I couldn't risk having a child right now, he would understand if you and I…" she shrugged.

Instantly Cara felt as if Kahlan had rammed the dark magic agiel against her chest as she realized just what a pathetic fool she'd been.

"I'm glad I could once more be of service to Lord Rahl and his betrothed," Cara said coldly, offering a bow so mocking Kahlan felt the sting of it in her heart.

Kahlan gasped as she realized how her words must have sounded. "Cara, that's not what I meant," she begged, wanting to remove the pain that Cara was clearly unaware was on her face but having no idea how to do that.

"It's your watch Mother Confessor," Cara said and walked back to camp, gripping her agiels tightly and not looking back.

Kahlan could only watch the stiff retreat of the Mord'Sith, guilt and shame eating at her as she realized that she had apparently hurt the surprisingly vulnerable blonde and hadn't known it.

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

"You did what?" Cara said with a deadly quiet that had Richard swallowing and his smile fading.

"I had Zedd suppress the Rahl bond with you."

"And why exactly would you do that?"

"Well…you see…"

"It's a gift Cara," Kahlan interrupted, stepping close to the blonde, smiling softly in hopes of alleviating the anger she could feel simmering beneath the emotionless facade.

"A gift. Hm. Like the gift of me as your personal whore?" Cara spat, the hurt she had felt these last few weeks refusing to stay buried. "Lord Rahl is quite a generous man," she added.

Kahlan gasped. "Cara, you were never my…what you said," she insisted, kicking herself for failing to see how her earlier explanation had been perceived. She glanced at Richard and then pulled Cara aside.

"Cara, what I said that morning. I didn't mean it the way you think."

Cara merely smirked. "'Richard told you to sleep with me since you couldn't be together right now,'" she replied mockingly. "There isn't any other way to take that Confessor, but you know what, that's fine. I've been Darken Rahl's whore, now yours and at some point I'm sure the Seeker will want his turn. I'm Mord'Sith. Sex and killing is what we are made for. What I was made for."

Ignoring the stabbing pain inside of her, made more potent by the lack of power in her Agiels, Cara walked back to the guilty looking Seeker and the old wizard.

"Give it back," Cara ordered.

"Cara listen," Richard pleaded. "You may not realize it now but this is for your own good. You've spent your whole life serving someone else. You've never been allowed to think or act for yourself and now that we've won and saved the world, I want you to have that chance."

"So you're giving me freedom by telling me what I want with my life, is that it?" The sarcasm and betrayal was so heavy in Cara's voice she was nearly hissing.

"If I have to," Richard said firmly. He reached out to place a hand on her shoulder, unsurprised when she jerked away. "It's only temporary Cara. One year. That's all. Just one year for you to be free and experience the life you were denied. If after that time you still want to return to D'Hara, you'll be welcome back with honor, given any position you wish and your bond will be returned. I swear."

Cara stood for a long moment, hands flexing on her dead agiels as she looked between the three people who'd turned her life upside down and now just took it away from her. Her eyes went to Kahlan who was now standing next to Richard, looking at her with those big sad eyes. Then Cara saw the way she was clasping Richard's hand and she barked out a bitter laugh.

"Oh I get it. This is really unnecessary you know."

"What?

"It's clear you want me out of the way while you're locked in your bedchambers with your future wife," she sneered, ignoring the ache in her chest as she fought against that image. "Of course I can understand that. After Kahlan's experience with a Mord'Sith, you might have concerns Lord Rahl, but I assure you, I scratched the Mother Confessor's itch quite thoroughly and won't be needed again."

"Cara," Kahlan protested in a pained whisper. How had she not seen how badly she'd hurt Cara?

"I'm sorry you're unhappy with my decision," Richard said coldly, "but I won't allow you to talk about Kahlan like that. She's done nothing…"

"I'm no longer yours to command remember?" Cara spit out and then she remembered who and what she was. The removal of the bond did not remove her training. She shoved everything resembling an emotion deep inside and reclaimed her indifferent demeanor.

"Very well," she continued blandly, "As you no longer have anyone who needs killing or a fiancee who needs…" Cara found her anger not enough to complete the insult and that just irritated her further. "I'm obviously no longer useful so I will accept your…gift."

Without another word, Cara tossed her dead agiels on the ground before Kahlan and turned and walked away, refusing to let even one of the tears that stung her eyes slip down her cheek.

"Cara wait," Kahlan caught up to her.

"What is it Mother Confessor?" Cara asked stiffly, refusing to look at the woman who had made her weak. Who had made her care.

"Cara you aren't leaving now are you?"

"There is no reason for me to stay."

Kahlan looked at Cara and a pain she never expected to feel pierced her chest. Cara's face was more expressionless than it had ever been. Even the eyes that hid so little were empty and it broke Kahlan's heart. She didn't understand the sick feeling in her stomach and the near panic she felt at Cara leaving.

"Come to Aydindrill," Kahlan blurted and then winced at the sneer she received.

"You can't be serious," Cara gaped, wondering if Kahlan had a hidden talent for cruelty after all or if she was really that oblivious.

"I am. You can come to the Confessor's Palace and stay while you figure out what you want to do." Kahlan smiled hopefully.

"And Richard?"

"Richard wants to go immediately to D'Hara and start establishing himself as ruler. We've put off our engagement until we've both had time to settle our business."

Cara stared at Kahlan for a long moment, having no idea how a woman who could force anyone to her will with just a touch of her hand could be so blind. Most likely it was that she still believed Cara was incapable of even the smallest emotion besides lust.

"I am no longer available to be a sex toy Confessor. Find someone else to fill your needs until your marriage."

Cara barely felt the slap that crossed her face. In fact, she smiled. She was done playing pet to these people. They didn't deserve her.

"Feel better?" Cara smirked.

Kahlan stared at the redness on Cara's cheek and was instantly ashamed. She knew Cara was feeling lost and her crude insult was her way of dealing with that, but still, this woman drove her closer to madness and drew more emotion from her than anyone she'd ever met.

"I'm sorry Cara, but I don't know why you won't believe that you aren't an object to me. That I care about you."

"I'm sure if you think real hard, you'll figure it out," Cara said with a resigned sadness that surprised Kahlan. Suddenly feeling too exhausted to deal with anything else, Cara turned and started to walk away. She paused.

"Perhaps one day while you're pining for Richard, you'll remember our last night together. Maybe you'll learn something interesting," she added without turning around.

And without another word, Cara was gone and Kahlan stood there wondering how trying to do something good had gone so wrong.

"She'll be alright," Richard said softly as he stepped beside Kahlan, taking her hand. "This is the best for her. She needs to discover an identity that's hers alone. Not one that was forced on her. She'll understand that."

"I know," Kahlan agreed, but her thoughts were on Cara's parting words. How could she bring herself to think of any of her nights with Cara. Just the memory of those many kisses and touches, the passionate words whispered hotly against her skin left her forgetting her own name. Guilt filled her when she realized she'd never once told Cara how she had made her feel.

"Richard we can't just let her leave like this," she argued. "Not thinking that we don't need her, that she was only my…" Kahlan couldn't bring herself to finish that thought.

"She's a proud woman Kahlan. I don't think there was any way we could have told her that didn't end in this same reaction."

"Why couldn't we have just waited until we returned home, where we could have eased her into the idea?"

Richard sighed. "I'm pretty sure she would have taken great pleasure in destroying half the People's Palace or the Confessor's Palace on her way out, not to mention anyone who got in her way."

Kahlan, wiped the tears from her face. There were so many thoughts running through her mind and any happiness she had felt at having won against the Keeper was gone.

"I think perhaps its time we leave," Zedd finally spoke, his own emotions mixed at the departure of the formidable Cara Mason.

LLLLLLLLLLL

CHAPTER 2

7 months later….

"Richard," Kahlan stood from her desk and embraced the former Seeker and new ruler of D'Hara. And her former betrothed.

"Mother Confessor," Richard bowed grandly, drawing a laugh from Kahlan.

"Stop that," she laughed. "Lady Rahl," she smiled warmly at the brunette standing at Richard's side.

Kahlan had been miserable from the moment she stepped foot back into the Confessor's Palace. All she could think about was the fact that Cara was all alone somewhere believing she wasn't wanted and that Kahlan had only been using her. She had stayed in her room for days, barely eating and not sleeping, haunted by a pair of sad green eyes. Eventually she managed to pull herself together enough to bury herself in her responsibilities to the point she'd even forgotten Richard.

It had been four months before Kahlan and Richard had finally managed to see each other again and to her shock, Richard had told her he had fallen in love. Surprisingly, he'd fallen for A Mord'Sith named Reyna who had been tasked with guiding Richard in his new responsibilities.

He had told her that the two of them had spent so much time together that he soon discovered she was different. She didn't follow him blindly nor was she limited to what Darken Rahl had made her. She was Independent, extremely intelligent and had a deep attachment to D'Hara and he found himself in love. Kahlan had taken it remarkably well, surprised she didn't feel even a hint of sorrow or betrayal. That's when Richard admitted that he had let himself grow close to Reyna because he had known that the day Cara left, Kahlan's heart had gone with her.

Kahlan hadn't bothered to protest because as soon as the words left Richard's lips, everything seemed to finally make sense. The way an innocent smile of wonder on Cara's face had melted Kahlan's heart. The way a simple heated look from Cara aroused her more than the most passionate of kisses from Richard, the way she constantly sought out the presence of the Mord'Sith despite the blonde's aversion to conversation, the way her world crumbled beneath her at the thought of Cara leaving her behind. All of it served to tell her that she loved the infuriating woman and had for some time.

She and Richard talked for a while, then embraced and said their goodbyes until the next visit. That night Kahlan lay in bed and finally allowed herself to do what Cara had told her to do. She remembered their last night together. She lay in bed, body burning as she remembered each slow caress, each kiss, each whispered erotic word against her skin and then everything changed as she finally saw the horrible, beautiful, painful truth. That night, when she had reached her release, Cara had still been holding her. Cara's fingers had still been inside her, bringing out as much of Kahlan's magic as she could, encouraging more. Cara had been touching her and she hadn't been confessed. With that one sharp flash of understanding Kahlan had fallen apart as she finally realized that Cara had been in love with her all this time and she had been too blind to see it and too blind to see just how in love with Cara she was and just how much she needed her. She vowed that night that she would find Cara and she would bring her home whether the stubborn woman was willing or not.

After three months of looking for Cara with not even a hint of where she'd gone, Kahlan had grown desperate. Cara had seemed to vanish and she didn't know what else to do. Finally, Richard contacted her and said he had news and that he and Reyna would come to Aydindrill. Now he and his new wife were there and Kahlan finally felt as if things would be alright..

"Please come and sit." Kahlan finally said leading them to her private quarters. She kindly asks a young maid to bring some tea and they take a seat.

"I'm so sorry I missed your wedding," Kahlan said guiltily. "Denee was away and between my duties here and trying to find anything about Cara… well I couldn't get away."

"Reyna thinks she's found her," Richard stated abruptly and for a moment the air went out of the room.

"What?"

"I really didn't know Cara that well," Reyna admitted. "I had been at a different temple when she had been betrayed by the others but I know the mind of Mord'Sith. Please don't take this the wrong way, but by severing her bond and telling her to go off on her own, you took everything from her, much like her sisters. You removed the only purpose she's ever known and a Mord'Sith with no purpose..."Reyna paused, sympathy for Cara Mason halting her words.

"I never intended to that," Richard protested, sharing a guilt ridden glance with Kahlan. "And I told her that it was only temporary."

"Well from what I've heard, Cara Mason is a stubborn woman that makes even the strictest Mord'Sith appear gentle," Reyna smiled softly.

"Oh Cara," Kahlan whispered, tears springing to her eyes, realizing how completely she had betrayed a woman who had done nothing but protect her and who had trusted her among others to occasionally lower her walls just for Kahlan.

"But you found her?" she asked desperately.

"I followed up on a few ideas" Reyna continued, "and two days ago I met someone who had heard of a dangerous bounty hunter who was single-handedly ridding the Old World and the New of those who try to avoid justice. He said that some even make it to the magistrate without severe injury."

"You think this bounty hunter is Cara?" Kahlan asked hopefully.

"Blonde with a bad attitude? Yeah I think so. The only thing different was that instead of red, she was dressed head to toe in black leathers."

"Did he say where she was last seen?"

"The last he heard, she was terrifying a small village called Elstow, just outside the upper border of the Midlands."

Kahlan stiffened as she made up her mind. "Well I'd say it's been far too long since I've paid a visit to that part of the border then," she said firmly.

"You want some company?" Richard asked.

"No, thank you Richard. I need to see her by myself."

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

"No please!" the big man begged as Cara kicked his legs out from under him.

"Is that what Eleni Warwick said when you tried to force that shriveled up excuse for your manhood inside of her?"

"She wanted it!" the man swore just before he felt Cara's boot under his chin.

"Want to try that again?" she asked blandly as she pulled the man to his feet only to knock him back to his knees.

"Come on," the man said, spitting blood from his mouth. "Don't think I don't know you're Mord'Sith, black leathers or not. You know what it's like when you got an itch and some whore looks at you a certain way."

Cara's dagger was instantly against his crotch and she leaned down until her nose was pressed against his. "I have never forced myself on a woman," she hissed, grinning evilly at the man's whimper when she pressed lightly on her dagger. Suddenly, as usually happened when Cara came close to dispensing the type of justice these pieces of filth deserved, a pair of sad blue eyes crossed her mind, whispering that killing without a trial was not justice.

"Fuck," she swore bitterly. She forced the man to his feet once more and jabbed the dagger in his back. "You were right I am Mord'Sith," she told him forcing him to walk toward town. "If you so much as twitch the wrong way, you'll find out exactly what pissing off a Mord'Sith entails, all without killing you."

The man swallowed and kept quiet, knowing that facing the magistrate was a much better option than dealing with this woman.

Cara shoved the man into the offices of the local magistrate and as he was put in irons, she impatiently waited for her payment. The old man knew better than to keep her waiting and dropped a bag of coins into her gloved hand.

"I won't waste your time complimenting you on your restraint," he commented. "I expected a few more broken limbs to be honest."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," Cara replied drily, though privately she admitted she didn't mind the old magistrate of Elstow. He was a man of few words and about as much tolerance for the idiocy of people as she possessed.

"Will you be moving on then?" He asked curiously.

Cara started to say yes. She had no desire to stay in one place too long unless she was working as it only served to remind her of things she wanted to forget. Still, she was more tired than she could ever remember being.

"For a few days," she finally said. "My horse could use the rest."

"Well, I'm glad to hear it. It's nice to have one person in this town that doesn't talk my ear off or go poking their nose into my business," he said gruffly. "If anything else comes in I'll send for you," was all he said.

Cara merely nodded and left the office and headed straight to the tavern where she was currently staying. All she wanted now was a drink or several and two days of uninterrupted sleep.

She entered the tavern and froze when she heard the unsettling silence in the usually noisy room and saw the dozens of eyes turned toward her. Instantly her hands went to her daggers as she waited for the attack. Nothing happened and she shrugged, heading toward the bar. Whatever their problem was, it wasn't hers.

"You have a guest," the bartender whispered nervously as he slid Cara a tankard.

"Too bad for them. I don't want to see anyone," Cara replied drily as she took a long drink.

"Would you make an exception for an old friend?"

If Cara had been anyone other than who she was, her ale would have been sprayed all over the face of the last person she wanted to see.

"Kahlan," she managed coolly. "You're a bit far from Aydindrill aren't you?" She turned away from the woman who had ripped her heart out more efficiently than any Mord'Sith could have.

"I'll travel as far as I need to." Kahlan said softly. From the moment she'd seen Cara enter the tavern, so arrogant and proud and poured into black leather that was somehow even tighter than her red leathers, Kahlan's heart had been pounding so hard she could hear it and the love she'd carried for her without recognizing it, would not be held back any longer. It had taken all of her restraint not to rush forward and kiss Cara until they both ran out of breath. Now, seeing the hard expression on the blonde's face, Kahlan was glad she hadn't. It was clear it wouldn't have been welcome and it broke her heart.

Cara heard the gentle words and she nearly weakened until she remembered why she was stuck in this Creator forsaken shithole. "Well don't let me keep you then," Cara said, swallowing the rest of her ale. She threw a couple of coins on the bar and started to walk away but a firm grip on her arm stopped her.

"Cara please," Kahlan whispered. "I need to see you."

"Why Kahlan?" Cara snapped. "Is there a job you don't have the stomach to do? Is there some dirty task that only a former Mord'Sith is capable of doing? Or is it that Richard hasn't..."

"Because I'm in love with you, you stubborn woman," Kahlan shouted and then clapped her hand over mouth, terrified of what response she was going to receive.

Cara heard the outburst of whispers in the tavern but they barely penetrated the shock she was feeling. Kahlan Amnell just said she loved her. She couldn't have heard right.

"What? She whispered.

Kahlan looked around. She had never been to this part of the Midlands, but the people certainly knew who she was, even if her white dress didn't give her away.

"Is there somewhere private..."

Against everything screaming at her to walk away, Cara nodded once and then led the way up the stairs to her room, part of her hoping that Kahlan would panic and leave and a bigger part fearing she wouldn't. The sound of booted feet close behind her caused Cara to sigh.

She opened the door and gestured for Kahlan to enter first and then followed her in, leaving the door open.

"This is...nice," Kahlan mused, looking at the absolute sparseness of the room. Only a bed and dresser and wash table filled the room with not one personal item to be found. She knew that was typical Cara but she couldn't help but remember Reyna's words saying how they had taken everything from Cara.

"It is what it is," Cara said tonelessly, leaning against the door frame, arms crossed almost as if she were bored but inside she was anything but.

Kahlan shifted nervously under Cara's impenetrable gaze and suddenly words deserted her. What could she possibly say to a woman she'd hurt so badly without even realizing it.

"Are you planning on saying something or are you just going to stare at me all night?" Cara prodded, proud of herself for not demanding Kahlan repeat what she'd said.

Kahlan gritted her teeth, remembering how aggravating the blonde could be when she wanted to. "I have a lot I plan to say," she finally said. "But first I have to say that I really, really like your new leathers." Like was an extremely weak word, Kahlan thought, her eyes sliding over the black leather that seemed to caress the magnificent body it encased.

Cara's mouth went dry at the very thorough examination she'd just been given and the flush on Kahlan's soft pale cheeks, but she was only reminded of why she required a change of clothing.

"Well I couldn't continue to wear my other, could I," she retorted, though there was less anger in her voice than she was hoping.

"Cara..."

"Where's Richard?" Cara interrupted, unwilling to surrender to those damned blue eyes without a fight.

Kahlan sighed. "He's in D'Hara. With his wife." She fought a smirk of triumph when for the first time Cara's expression shifted from indifference and anger to surprise.

"Wife?" Cara repeated.

"Yes. A Mord'Sith named Reyna. They married last month." Kahlan suddenly felt more sure of herself as she saw that adorable confused expression she'd missed for so long.

"But..I don't understand."

Kahlan desperately wanted to place a hand on Cara's puzzled face. "It's simple. Richard knew from the moment you left us that he no longer held my heart and that left him open to finding his own love."

"Love," Cara frowned,

Knowing that Cara was too stunned to run away, Kahlan finally approached. Not taking her eyes from Cara's she pulled her into the room, closing the door behind her.

"Yes Cara. Love. I love you and I have even before our first night together. I just...I never realized it."

Cara learned a long time ago that hope was just one more method of torture and one that ultimately caused more pain than the Mord'Sith training ever did.

"Kahlan, you don't..."

"No Cara," Kahlan interrupted quickly. Remembering who she was, she stood strong and pulled Cara inside, closing the door behind them.

"I know you don't owe me anything," she said sadly. "I hurt you and don't even bother denying it," she added when Cara opened her mouth.

"I swear to you now Cara, on everything that I am, that I never saw you as just a stand in for Richard. I've wanted you for so long but it was so different than what I felt for Richard, so much stronger I never knew love could feel that way. I would see you in the sunlight and you stole my breath. I watched you fight and I ached. I saw your smile and I wanted to kiss you. You consumed me Cara and I didn't handle things well, but from the first second you kissed me, I was yours."

Cara just stared numbly, trying to understand what she'd just heard. Kahlan had just said everything she had never expected to ever hear from anyone and had only ever wanted to hear from Kahlan.

"No Kahlan you weren't," she finally managed, hating herself when she saw the devastated look on Kahlan's face.

"Cara..."

"No, I didn't mean...I just meant that you are the strongest person I've ever known. You will never belong to anyone but yourself." And then Kahlan smiled and it was as if she was witnessing the birth of the baby Nightwisps all over again.

"You are so beautiful," she breathed, forgetting what she had been saying, forgetting that she'd been angry, forgetting everything except the fact that this woman was the only person in the world that had ever made her feel whole.

Kahlan's eyes stung as Cara's quiet tenderness once more pierced her heart.

"Cara, I love you and I need you. I will always need you. Not for protection or for sex or to kill people, but because my life is empty without you. I am so very sorry I hurt you. Please say you'll forgive me?"

Cara's instincts were to scream her refusal and forcibly remove Kahlan from her room. While it was no secret that Confessors were death to Mord'Sith, this one was different and so much more dangerous. Kahlan wouldn't have to confess Cara to destroy her.

Kahlan waited anxiously for a response from Cara and as she looked at the expressive eyes studying her, she felt a knot in her stomach. This fearless, strong and courageous woman was afraid and it made Kahlan slightly ill to know she was the cause of it. Just as she slowly began to accept Cara would not forgive her, Cara moved. She stepped so close that Kahlan he could feel the warm breath on her cheek and then Cara placed a hand on her cheek.

"You have forgiven me for so many things," Cara whispered, "things that should have had you confessing me. How can I not forgive you this one?"

Kahlan's eyes slid shut in relief, thinking that if she had a million years, she would never understand this woman and she wouldn't have it any other way. Her eyes flew open as she felt a gentle kiss against her throat.

"I love you Kahlan," Cara said simply, the truth shining in her incredibly innocent eyes.

Kahlan swallowed, her chest tight with a beautiful longing ache. Unable to speak for fear of bursting into happy tears and scaring off the unpredictable woman, Kahlan simply did what she'd been wanting to do for seven long miserable months. She cupped Cara's face and kissed her. It was a gentle, questioning kiss at first to make sure that this was what Cara wanted but almost instantly strong arms slid around her waist.

"Is that all you've got for me Mother Confessor?" Cara whispered into Kahlan's ear, loving the shiver she'd caused.

"Oh not by a long shot," Kahlan replied seriously, capturing that taunting mouth with hers. Kahlan's fingers gripped tightly into Cara's hair as if afraid she'd pull away, but the way Cara's tongue slid demandingly between her lips told her that was not an issue.

Cara's head was spinning. She hadn't so much as looked at another woman or a man since being sent away. She hadn't wanted anyone but Kahlan and now her legs were shaking as if it were her first kiss and she was an inexperienced child but the rest of her body knew better. She spun around and pushed the taller woman against the closed door. All the frustration, the rejection, the love she'd carried alone for so long poured out of her and she pushed herself aggressively against Kahlan, her knee going between those beautiful thighs as she deepened the kiss.

Kahlan felt closer to fainting than she ever had. Cara had always been a passionate lover but this...Kahlan felt as if she were being consumed and she wanted more. Her hands pulled at Cara's hips, gasping as the intrusive knee slid against her. Just when she thought she may collapse from lack of air, Cara tore her lips away from Kahlan's mouth only to trail them across her jaw.

"Creator," Kahlan panted, her head falling back against the door.

"There's been no one since you," Cara whispered as she nipped along Kahlan's jaw before kissing down the long line of her throat.

"Not for me either," Kahlan croaked, whimpering as those arousing full lips of Cara's attached to her shoulder. Her fingers tightened in the soft blonde hair, thrilling at the resulting in the small grunt as Cara bit lightly into the skin before her tongue lapped soothingly at the spot.

Images of all the places she wanted Cara's mouth to be swept through her mind and Kahlan felt her magic pulling inside of her. She reluctantly pushed Cara away sharply.

"Kahlan?" Cara inquired, her breathing shallow, but hurt clear on her face.

"It's alright Cara. I just..my magic..."Kahlan tried to explain.

"You can't confess me," Cara replied, wondering if Kahlan truly didn't remember.

"I know," Kahlan smiled, "but I've waited too long for this moment with you and I don't want it to be over so quickly"

Cara blinked as she considered Kahlan's words and then she grinned, unable to suppress the pride at the affect she had on the powerful Confessor.

Kahlan watched as the familiar smug, arrogant smirk lifted Cara's lips and all of a sudden she realized how close she came to never seeing that again and against her will, she burst into tears.

Cara stood horrified and helpless as Kahlan cried, wondering what she had done to cause it. She shifted awkwardly on her feet as she tried to decide how to comfort her. Just then Kahlan lifted her head and her sobs shifted to water laughs as she saw the adorably panicked expression on Cara's face.

"Oh Cara, please don't panic," Kahlan said quickly, "I'm fine. it's just...I missed you so much and was so afraid I'd lost you forever."

"I don't like it when you cry," she said bluntly.

Anyone else might have seen the words as annoyed, but Kahlan could see the sincerity in her eyes. "I'm fine now. Just seeing you again, having you kiss me and look at me with that obnoxious arrogance, I finally feel a happiness that I never thought I'd feel again."

Cara shifted again. Kahlan's words went straight to the part of her that had always been empty until she met Kahlan and it was only with her Cara felt shame at her inability to express herself and she searched her mind for anything that could be seen as comforting.

"I was never far away," she finally said. "That is why I chose Elstow. It is far enough that I would still follow the terms of Richard's order but close enough that I was aware of what was happening in Aydindrill and if you were in danger."

No flowery compliments or declarations of love would have sounded so beautiful to Kahlan and only the desire to keep from scaring Cara again, held her tears at bay.

"As much as I love your black leathers," Kahlan whispered, her hands drawn to the black leather covering Cara's body, "I want you out of them."

Not removing her eyes from Kahlan's, Cara reached behind her and in a half a second was sliding out of the top of her leathers. "I designed them to only require one person."

Kahlan felt a hint of guilt, knowing why she had done that, but refusing to let sadness replace the joy she felt being reunited with Cara and the desire that was consuming her as she ran her eyes over the beautiful body. She lifted a hand and ran her finger slowly down between Cara's breasts.

"You are so beautiful," she sighed.

Cara shivered at the seductive caress of her skin and her desire for conversation vanished as she took Kahlan's lips once more, her own hands working to free Kahlan from white dress.

"It's a shame you didn't wear your leather dress," she whispered against Kahlan's throat, her hand sliding up a long muscled thigh where the slit in her travel dress would have been.

"I have it, but I changed in case nobody believed who I was and decided to hide you from me."

"Would you have confessed them to find me?" Cara murmured, trailing her tongue up Kahlan's throat, saving the sweet taste of her skin.

"Without a second thought," Kahlan breathed before pulling Cara's mouth back to hers and then both women lost any interest in continuing the conversation.

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

"Will you return to Aydindrill with me?" Kahlan asked softly, nearly purring in contentment as Cara stroked a hand up and down her back.

Cara was silent for a long moment. "There are still five months left in my exile."

"It wasn't exile Cara," Kahlan protested, sitting.

"No?"

Kahlan sighed and slid out of bed, wrapping a sheet around her and walking to to look out the window. Guilt returned as she remembered everything Richard's wife had told her.

"Reyna was right," she said softly.

"Reyna?" Cara said, sitting up, not even bothering to cover herself. She looked at Kahlan feeling bad for ruining the moment.

"The Mord'Sith that Richard married," Kahlan reminded her. "She told us that what we had done was wrong, that as a Mord'Sith you would never understand."

"She is right. Kahlan, I have been Mord'Sith far longer than I was that innocent little girl and I've always been D'Haran which means I have never been without the Rahl bond. I've never known anything else. I didn't know how to be anything else."

"We...I understand that now Cara," Kahlan turned, refusing to be distracted by Cara's nakedness. "And we are both sorry. I will never forgive myself for letting you think..."

"Kahlan stop," Cara smiled. "I told you I forgive you and I believe I just spent all of last night showing you as well."

Kahlan blushed and her eyes roamed hungrily over that smooth, tanned body. "That you did, but you haven't answered my question. What is it you want to do now? Do you want to come home with me? Stay here? Or do you want to return to D'Hara. Richard said he would return your bond."

Cara's eyes widened. "Richard said I could come home?"

Kahlan's heart broke at the word 'home' but she would not shame Cara for her choice. "Yes and his promise to you will be kept. Full honors and any position you chose."

Cara's first instinct was to throw on her leathers and be on her way back to D'Hara before Kahlan could even dress but as she lay there looking at the Mother Confessor, standing naked and wrapped only in a sheet, soft hair a tangled mess from Cara's hands and blue eyes looking dejected, it suddenly became no choice at all. Cara slid out of bed and walked to Kahlan.

"Spirits Cara," Kahlan swallowed, wondering if this woman had a specific aversion to clothing and not minding at all if she did. And then Cara did something Kahlan would remember the rest of her very long life. She dropped on one knee and looked up at Kahlan with an intensely sober expression that shook Kahlan to her very core.

"What are you doing?" she whispered.

"Richard was right about one thing," Cara said softly. "I have learned that I no longer want to serve because I have to. I will no longer kneel before a person I did not choose. From this point forward Kahlan, I will kneel only to you. Not because I love you, but because there is no one else I respect more. There is no one else I trust with my life so if you will have me, I choose to return to the Confessor's Palace, to serve the Mother Confessor and to love Kahlan Amnell."

Kahlan whimpered as she fought to contain the tears that once more stung her eyes. She reached out and stroked Cara's sweet face.

"Oh Cara," she whispered. "You will never truly know just how much I love you," she said earnestly but still the sight of the proud Mord'Sith on her knees before her was disturbing. She gently prodded Cara to her feet.

"I want nothing more than to have you with me but Cara I don't want you to 'serve' me. I want you beside me in every way and I know between the two of us we can create a position for you that gives you what you need while allowing you to retain your independence. Do you understand?"

Cara looked at Kahlan. Independence would forever be a foreign concept to her but she trusted Kahlan. "I...not really," she admitted. "My feelings for you connect me to you just as strong as the Rahl bond."

"If the world knew the Mord'Sith were capable of saying such beautiful things…."

"That won't happen will it?" Cara interrupted with a fierce expression that would no longer intimidate Kahlan.

"No, because I love being the only person who gets to see this side of you," Kahlan said honestly and with an arrogant smile of her own.

"You are the only reason I am even capable of it."

Kahlan wanted see more of this tender side of Cara but she wouldn't push Cara for any more than she was willing to give.

"Cara, your life from here on out is your own. If you want to stay here and continue your very successful work ridding the Midlands of it's most disgusting citizens, I will stay with you. If you'll have me."

Cara's eyes widened. "Kahlan, you...you're the Mother Confessor, you can't stay here."

"I can. Dennee can fill in for me day to day stuff and I would return for Monthly judgments and I truly believe I haven't spent near enough time in this part of the Midlands."

Cara shook her head. "No, you are needed in Aydindrill Kahlan and I'm not interested in staying here. There is no other place I intend on being then by your side," she stated firmly.

"Far be it from me to try and talk you out of anything," Kahlan replied with a smile before dropping the sheet, grinning broadly when Cara's stubborn expression was replaced with surprise followed instantly by desire.

"You, Mother Confessor do not play fair," Cara replied sliding her hands up Kahlan's arms and around her neck.

"Not when there is something that I truly want," Kahlan replied before dropping her lips to Cara's shoulders. "And having you with me, where ever that may be, is all I want." She looked into Cara's eyes needing her to hear her next words and truly believe them.

"Cara, you are everything to me. Whatever you've ever been taught or believed, you are needed and wanted. You are important to me, not for what you can do, but because of who you are. If you doubt everything else, please believe that. Please believe that I love you with all of my heart."

Cara's eyes stung and for the first time that she could remember, she was not ashamed of her tears. Nobody had ever made her feel like she mattered beyond her agiels before and when Kahlan's thumb gently wiped the tear from her cheek, she silently swore she would give her life a thousand times over for this woman.

"I do believe you," she said. "I love you too and I will even into the underworld and beyond." Then unable and unwilling to speak anymore, she kissed Kahlan with everything in her heart, finally understand what freedom truly meant.

END