I'm not actually entirely sure where this came from. I had it stuck in my head that I wasn't going to write any LOTS fic. But, here it is. It's fluffy and it's sweet, the edges are a little angsty, but they're easy to ignore if you really feel you must. Warning: The sweetness could make you feel ill.
A Life In Leaves:
Restlessly, Kahlan rolled over onto her side, paying close attention to the feel of her dress trickling over her knees. It was a cool night, and she had the forest-green, knitted shawl that Rachel had given her, wrapped tightly around her shoulders as she wistfully watched Richard's chest rise and fall.
He looked so peaceful. The light from the moon was casting an almost ethereal glow across his face, making the ends of his gradually growing beard, glitter and the angle of his nose cast a shadow across his cheek. She smiled, letting her mind wander to places unknown. She'd wanted to know what that night had been like, when they'd had the chance to finally lose themselves in each other. He hadn't known that it wasn't her and in truth, she didn't blame him. She was even glad of it, that he had the memory, even if she didn't. But beyond the goofy smile and the promises that it had been just as amazing as he'd always dreamed, he'd refrained from going into detail. She wasn't sure what that had meant, worried even that he was holding back because he didn't want to share. But then, she shook the thought away, because there was nothing Richard didn't want to share with her, she was sure of that. But she did wonder why he'd become so coy about it, all of a sudden, even when they were alone.
Rolling her head back, she tried to divert thoughts away as she looked up into the stars and felt the soft crumpling of leaves underneath her hair. She knew that she'd be picking leaves out of it all morning, but she really didn't care. Letting one hand free of her shawl, she reached down to the bed of leaves and gently, reverently, feathered her fingers across the crunching edges as they rustled under her touch. The course texture of them made her think immediately of Aydindril, of her bedroom, her bed. She thought of the delicate, sheer drapes around her bed and the soft, blissful comfort that her matress would offer her. She remembered it vividly, the feel of the silk against her skin and the warmth of the candlelight, flicking in the darkness. The sense of peace it brought her was almost as relaxing as the giddy joy she got from seeing Richard smile; except, when she went there in her dreams, Richard wasn't with her. It felt almost like if she chose one, she would lose the other and while that thought troubled her, the only worry she really had was that, for the rest of her life, she was going to be sleeping on a bed of leaves, watching the stars and listening to the crickets as Richard snored softly, mere feet away, though an eternity apart.
"What are you thinking about?" His voice caught her off-guard and she startled a little, breathing out through her smile as she pressed a hand to her heart. Richard laughed silently, reaching over the divide between them, grasping her upper arm with a loving squeeze.
"Nothing, really." She breathed. "Lots of little things." She rolled her head to the side again, taking him in. He was laying on his side, closer to her now than he was before. And his eyes were studying her face so intently that she thought she might drown in him. Though she doubted that she would really mind a moment of that.
"I know you, Kahlan." He chuckled gently and she knew that he was doing his best to keep his voice to a whisper so that they wouldn't wake Zedd or give Cara any inkling that they were awake. "you don't think about little things."
She smiled softly, rolling onto her side completely, so that her position mirrored his. She took his hand, entwining their fingers and smiling when the light from the fire cast a shadow of their hands over their temporary bed. She studied their fingers for what felt like a long time, listening to the crackle of the fire, an owl hooting, his breathing and her own heart beating. "Sometimes I do." She whispered, letting her eyes drift back to his just to see his face break into a grin.
Before she knew it, he was tugging on her hand and for a moment, she didn't know what to do. They always slept side-by-side and lately, they'd been sleeping even closer together. Sometimes they slept so close thay their blankets touched, but never had he breached the divide, nor she, for that matter. It was new and the feeling of it made her tingle as she gave him no resistance, pulling her to him. The front of her right thigh rested against the side of his left and for a moment, she didn't know what to do with her other leg, so she rested it on top of her own. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and she shivered involuntarily as she felt his fingers weave their way into her hair until his hand was pressed to the back of her head. He pulled her arm across his chest and for a second, she panicked that he'd feel her heart beating wildly through their clothes; but even if he did, he said nothing. He shifted a bit, seemingly making himself comfortable beneath her. His mischievious smile distracted her while he pulled her leg over his until she was wrapped around him with her shawl stretched over their bodies and her Confessor's dress covering their legs.
She couldn't deny that she was now, blissfully warm. To Kahlan's embarressment they heard a gentle cough from behind them, but thankfully, the sound of Cara's pacing footsteps could still be heard, drifting a little further away and she didn't say a word.
"So what are these little things that are keeping you awake?" Richard questioned, drawing her attention back to him and Kahlan smiled, finding his bone pendant suddenly very interesting as she fiddled with it in the dip of his throat. Her cheek resting in the crook of his arm.
Kahlan took a deep breath, allowing the last vestige of her reddened cheeks to drift away with the sound of Cara's boots on dry leaves as she took a deep breath, doing her best to focus on Richard's chest rising slowly, rhythmically, in time with her own. "It's just," She paused, pulling the pendant down to his heart and resting her hand over it, intensely thankful beyond belief that he didn't flinch as her fingers pressed down on the skin of his chest. She wasn't sure if he'd ever understand quite what he'd given her in showing that he didn't fear her, that he trusted her. She wasn't quite sure he'd ever really know just how much she'd always been hated. She couldn't even find the words to say that just knowing he loved her, just knowing he was there beside her, was enough for her. Even though she desperately wished that she could give him more.
"Do you ever wonder what it'd be like to be ordinary people?" She questioned, quietly, sweetly. Trying her best not to wake his sleeping, snoring grandfather.
Richard chuckled. Rather uncontrollably at first and Kahlan frowned, with a slight up-turn to her lips as she watched him, confused. Richard hugged her tighter, kissing her forehead and Kahlan felt a rush of warmth surge through her at the extra touch.
"What's so funny?" She whispered and he smiled down at her, brushing the hair from her face with an adoring hand.
"It's just," He smirked, touching the back of his fingers to her cheek. "when you were torn in two, you asked the same question, just after..." His voice trailed off and Kahlan's cheeks reddened again, causing her to avert her eyes and bury her face in his chest with a smile as wide as his.
"Anyway," She continued to laugh. "what was your answer?"
Richard watched her smile for a moment, as she continued to beam up at him with the fire-light behind her, casting a reddish glow through the loosened strands of her dark hair. He sobered slowly, pressing his palm to her cheek as her heartbeat quickened and her breathing slowed, focussing desperately on his eyes and his thumb slipping dangerously closer to her lower lip.
"That there isn't a day goes by, that I don't think about that." She felt his hand at the back of her head, his fingers massaging, caressing, loving and her eyes drooped for a moment, savouring it. "But I meant what I said in Aydindril, Kahlan." She looked up suddenly, blinking, wondering for a moment, what of the many things he'd promised, he was referring to. "I'd rather have you, all of you, than everything else ordinary and safe, with anyone that's not you."
Without thinking, Kahlan placed a gentle kiss to the edge of the keeper's mark on his chest, feeling the warmth of his skin against her lips and the beating of his heart against her. His hand came up to the side of her face as she held her lips there, just a moment longer than she had to. And she smiled when he guided her face back up to his, raising her until she rested herself on her elbow, looking down at him with her lips mere inches away.
"I do love you." She stated, as if the sentiment actually required clarification and Richard smirked.
"I know," He studied her as if she were a spirit sent from the Creator herself. "and I'm constantly asking myself why? How?"
A tear escaped Kahlan's eye. It trickled down her cheek, making it's own path, bold, purposeful and completely alone; much the way her life had always been, until the day that silly wood's guide had thought he could save her from a quad. "And I," She choked on her tears, smiling through them as best she could in order to assure him that she was alright. "I could ask the same thing of you."
She cut him off with a finger to his lips. Richard silenced, staring at her as Kahlan licked her lower lip as she shook her head. "Richard, you know what I am, you know about me. I've told you before how people feel about Confessors, how they really feel. People are afraid of us; well," She smiled, an expression filled with a deep sorrow. "just me now, I suppose. But the way you just brush that aside, you make me feel like this terrible bane on my exsistance, this power that I can't ever imagine living without, is something I don't have to fear. I may not be able to love you the way that I want, but Richard," She grinned, widely, happily. "you've taught me that I ican/i love you."
Richard broke the space between them, lifting his head up just high enough to capture her lips, gently, chastely, tenderly. The hand in her hair held her to him as he smiled against her mouth, kissing along her bottom lip until his lips found their way beneath her chin, kissing a line along her jaw, making a path to her lonely tear. With a gentle flutter of his lips, he kissed the tear away and Kahlan dropped her face to his chest, burying herself in him as he hugged her tight and kissed the top of her head.
"You won't always be the last Confessor, you know." He whispered and Kahlan's heart skipped a beat.
"I know." She choked, trying to hold back the pain of knowing she'd one day have to bear a child that isn't his.
Richard seemed to have a similar thought, because his hand in her hair stilled for a moment before he released a breath and pressed a kiss to her hairline. "Why haven't we done this before?"
"This." He gestured with his hand, the length of them wrapped in her blanket, her dress.
Kahlan sighed contentedly, hugging him closer. "I don't know."
"Your powers aren't released when you sleep." It wasn't really question, but it was unsure.
"No, it's different when I sleep, somehow." She didn't really want to go into details, her eyes were starting to droop and the warmth around her was lulling her to sleep. "Then why don't we? I like sleeping with you."
"I suppose." She smiled. "You don't think it'd make Zedd and Cara uncomfortable?"
Richard chuckled, seemingly, he was finding it difficult to stop kissing her whenever he could. Pressing another kiss to her forehead, she pulling the shawl up higher on her shoulders.
"We're not doing anything wrong." She could hear the smirk in his voice. "And I like having you this close. It makes the dreams seem more real."
Kahlan pulled herself up for a moment, looking down into his eyes again. "What dreams?"
"If I told you that, it wouldn't be a surprise when they come true." He grinned and Kahlan playfully slapped his chest. "Don't worry though, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that they do."
Kahlan rested her head back down, snuggling in tight to his side as he wrapped his arms around her. He pulled the shawl up this time, wrapping it around her shoulders and tucking it firmly around her so that she wouldn't get cold. They could hear Cara's footsteps making a path back towards them and while they were both thankful that her loop of the campsite had taken a little bit longer than her last, the idea that she was still there made Kahlan tense. Ridiculously worried of being discovered. But Richard was relaxed and comfortable and she could feel it. That, in turn, calmed her nerves and she blocked out thoughts of prying eyes, knowing deep down that Cara wasn't the type to care what they did when they slept as long as it didn't interfere with the mission or put Richard in danger. Kahlan still wasn't quite sure on the latter and she still feared it, but lying in his arms she knew that he was safe and for a moment that had been very rare in her life, before Richard, she too, felt completely safe.
"We'll be free one day," Richard's whispered voice brought her momentarily back from the brink of a blissful slumber. "I promise."
She smiled, pressing her palm lovingly to his chest as she drifted off to sleep with the sound of his breathing and the crackle of the fire.