Thanks for all the comments! Here's the last chapter. I will probably pick this one up later and continue it on. I have some ideas for what Zedd learned about what Rahl is up to. We'll see. I also have some others on the back burner I'm itching to do.
Hope you all enjoy!
The Confession (Chapter 7)
Dropping his sword, Richard instinctively caught Kahlan's trembling body before she collapsed. Enveloping her in his strong embrace, Richard lowered her to the ground and held her as she sobbed uncontrollably.
"Shhh, it's alright. You're safe now…I'm right here; I'm not going anywhere," he murmured, stroking her hair, fighting back his own tears of relief and sorrow. She needed him right now and that's what was most important. Pushing aside his own heartache for what she had been through, Richard just held her.
How long he held her while she cried, he had no idea, nor did he care. She was back safe in his arms; that was all that mattered.
Having set up a new campsite away from the barn, Zedd went to take care of the bodies and also to let Larson know what had happened. He also wanted to give Richard and Kahlan some time alone.
They would have a lot to work through, but he had no doubt they would get through this. Their love was strong, uniting them and binding them together as one. This would only bring them closer and strengthen their love.
Although what Darken Rahl was planning needed their attention, Zedd knew they had to give Kahlan some time to rest. They could afford to wait a couple of days for her to recover from her physical injuries and regain her strength. Unfortunately, he could only sit on this new information regarding Rahl for so long. If they waited too long, it would be catastrophic for this region and quite likely the whole Midlands.
Zedd tried not to let himself become overly alarmed; Richard and Kahlan would quickly sense something was wrong. They both needed a bit of time to recover or they wouldn't be any good to anyone. No, he silently resolved within himself, this could wait a couple of days, but then they would have to act…
Before leaving Richard and Kahlan, Zedd had grumbled about how, between the two of them, he was spending more time as a healer than as a Wizard of the First Order. Seeing a twinkle in his eye, Richard knew Zedd was as relieved as he was that disaster had been averted and that he and Kahlan were both safe now.
Walking over to her with a bowl of water, Richard sat down on the log next to Kahlan who was staring into the dancing flames of the fire. Startled, Kahlan jerked back at first, settling back down upon realizing it was Richard.
"It's ok; it's just me. I didn't mean to startle you," he apologized. "Here, let me see your face."
Turning towards him, Kahlan was met with soft brown eyes filled with love that mingled with heartache. "Richard, I'm ok…really," she unconvincingly attempted to reassure him, giving him a weak smile.
"No, Kahlan, you're not. No one could be after what those men put you through…not even the Mother Confessor," he softly said as he gently began to clean her cuts on her forehead and face with a cool, damp washcloth.
She closed her eyes against the threat of hot tears, pushing them back down inside, instead savoring the comforting and loving touch of her soul mate. He was the only one who would ever possess her heart, her body and soul.
Tears threatened his own eyes at seeing the brutality of what she had endured imprinted on her beautiful face. Noticing the peaceful look that suddenly graced her lovely features as he continued to care for her, Richard knew that his Kahlan was still there beneath all the cuts and bruises, the hurt and the pain.
"Kahlan, I'm so sorry that you…that I…" Richard began, voice trembling with emotion, unsure where to start, startled by the warmth of love and compassion that reflected in her eyes. Even after all she'd endured, after he had tied her hands together with rope, Kahlan was concerned about him. A single tear escaped and slowly trailed down his cheek.
"Richard, it's alright. Listen to me; none of this was your fault," Kahlan heatedly replied, caressing his cheek and wiping his tear away.
She knew Richard at times better than he knew himself. He would play and replay the events of this night over in his mind, berating himself for what he should have done to protect her. Knowing that he would blame himself for all that had happened to her, Kahlan wanted nothing more than to reassure him that there was nothing he could have done to keep them from taking her.
"I tied your wrists and hands together with rope, Kahlan! The one thing you despise and dread the most. I did to you exactly what your father did all those years ago. How could you ever forgive me?" Averting his eyes, he could no longer behold his Confessor's gaze.
"Richard, you had to! He had your sword pointed at your throat! If you hadn't, you'd be dead…and I would still be at their mercy…" The thought of still being tied up, the thought of those animals' hands touching her, hitting her, made her shudder.
Richard, seeing how visibly shaken she was, gently placed a comforting hand to her face. "Kahlan, I know they did a lot of things to you, terrible things, but I have to know…did they…" he asked softly, his voice trailing off; unable to say the words for fear that they might be true.
"No, you saved me before they could get that far. Thank you for coming for me, for saving me from those monsters," she replied, tears stinging her eyes as she thought about what had almost been done to her. What they had done, the way they had touched her, had been devastating enough. But what they were coming back to do almost made her vomit again.
Richard stared into the face of his soul-mate, amazed by her strength, her self-sacrificing love for him. Unable to contain his own emotions any longer, he leaned in and placed a gentle kiss to her bruised lips.
Kahlan, comforted by his love for her, responded to his touch, his kiss. Sliding her hand along his neck and into his hair, she pulled him to her, never wanting to let go of him. She relished his taste, the security and the comfort she received from him. She felt so loved, so safe with him.
Richard tenderly wrapped his arms around her in answer to her invitation, the kiss comforting as it began to heal the wounds that lay beneath the surface; wounds that a wizard's magic couldn't heal. Wounds that could only be healed with time and love.
Reluctantly ending the kiss, Richard again set to the task of caring for his Confessor. After finishing her face, he moved on to the burns on her wrists caused by the rope. Pulling out a small bottle from his pack, he gently applied lotion to her burns.
"This should help lessen the pain and help the burns to heal more quickly. Once Zedd's powers are restored again, he can take care of the cuts and bruises. Until then, you'll have to rely on this lotion. I've at least cleaned the blood off your face and arms."
"Well, at least this time, you didn't end up with blood on your shirt," she teased, trying to ease the anxiety and concern that still etched itself heavily in his handsome face.
"Thank the spirits for that, at least! I've had enough heartache tonight without that. Hey, that reminds me. As I recall, I still owe you a lesson in combat," he smiled back, more than happy to see her sense of humor showing itself.
"I think you'll just have to wait on that for now. We'll have plenty of time for 'lessons' later," she mischievously replied as she seductively wet her lips with her tongue, causing Richard's heart to flutter with desire.
"You're right; I think we should call it a night. You need to rest. Come here with me," he said as he got up and made his way over to his blanket.
Following him, Kahlan laid down where Richard had a blanket spread for her. Richard, lying down beside her, pulled a blanket over them. Wrapping his arms around her, he gently pulled her close to him until her face was nestled into the crook of his neck.
Relief once again flooded in soul having her back safe in his arms; relieved that one more threat to his Kahlan had been eliminated, even though he didn't have the satisfaction of eliminating Carter himself. Her strength and resolve, her compassion never ceased to amaze him. Whatever he had done to deserve such a remarkable woman's love, he would never know.
Kissing the top of her forehead, he whispered, "I love you, Kahlan."
Wrapped within the safety and comfort of his warm embrace, Kahlan was so amazed at the depth of his love for her. How could he still look at her, love her after what those men had done to her, had planned to do to her? He had been brutally injured and he still came to rescue her. His strength and compassion overwhelmed her soul. What had she, a Confessor, ever done to deserve such a remarkable man's love? She would never understand it, but gladly welcomed and accepted it.
"I love you, Richard," she murmured into his neck as sleep swiftly swept over them both.
THE END (?)