Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Pairing: Cara/Dahlia, implied Cara/Kahlan
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: Cara has been retrained but the ghosts of her former life still haunt her.
Dahlia's body rested beside her, warm, soft and familiar, but when Cara closed her eyes at night she dreamed of flowing raven hair, ice blue eyes and freckles dusting pale skin that smelt of smoke, comfort and the sun.
Cara's eyes would open wide, her heart pounding madly beneath her breast and she would stare into the darkness of her chambers trying to understand the source of the aching, hollow feeling inside of her only to then ignore the answer when it came to her.
She would turn to face Dahlia who looked so peaceful in slumber, and hesitantly extend her hand until it hovered just above her face, close enough to feel the warmth of Dahlia's skin but not quite touching it. In her mind she saw herself lower her hand to trace Dahlia's features, slowly, softly, lovingly memorizing the contours of her face. She imagined herself leaning forward and pressing her lips to Dahlia's closed eyelids. But her hand always withdrew.
Sometimes, Dahlia would stir as if sensing Cara's eyes on her, and Cara would lean forward, pressing her lips against Dahlia's, kissing her urgently before Dahlia could speak. Her hands would slide up slim, nude thighs, trailing knowingly over familiar curves as her tongue licked at Dahlia's upper lip, longing for a scar that wasn't there.
In the day she would hear a blade being unsheathed and see a flash of flowing dark hair out of the corner of her eyes.
When they were training outside and a butterfly flew by, Cara's hand darted out to crush the pests just like her sisters, but when she opened her fist the small creatures were always alive, waiting to be proudly presented to a woman that she was supposed to hate.
At meals Cara alternated between picking up apples, pears, figs, strawberries and grapes, but her fingers always bypassed the plums. Plums had been a favourite of hers in the past but she had not eaten any in almost half a year. Plums were also Kahlan's favourite, and after all that the Mother Confessor gave, Cara couldn't bring herself to take such a simple pleasure from her.
Sometimes when it rained, Cara stood alone at one of the few windows in the temple and looked out, watching, remembering the warmth of bodies around her. Her eyes would close and she could practically feel the heat of Kahlan's thigh were it pressed against hers as they crouched beside each other. She could feel the hot, damp air pressing on her skin as Zedd complained about the rain making them miss lunch and Richard teased him about using some of his powerful magic to conjure them up some food.
One time as she watched the weeping clouds a hand pressed against the small of her back Cara's eyelids fluttered before she turned she head, expecting to see shining blue eyes and a wide, easy smile. What greeted her was a pair of disapproving eyes as Dahlia's economically clipped voice inquired what Cara thought she was doing.
One night, as sweat cooled on her bare skin and her body rested, aching and sated, Cara found herself gazing at Dahlia as the torchlight danced over her pale skin. It reminded her of the glow of a campfire and Cara suddenly wanted to know things, strange, meaningless things like what Dahlia's favourite colour was, and she wanted to share such things about herself.
"I don't like rabbits," Cara found herself saying before she could think better of it; before she could remember that she no longer did such things. "Their ears are too big."
Dahlia blinked once and stared at Cara for a long moment, then her lips pressed tightly together and she released a weary sigh. Their eyes held for a moment longer, and then Dahlia said, "Put out the light," before turning onto her side so that her back was to Cara.
Cara rose and moved towards the torch, remembering how Kahlan's hair looked almost red in the firelight. She reached up to put out the flame, but before the light died out completely she saw Kahlan's smiling face exactly as it had looked a month before.
They had all been gathered around the fire discussing secret fears as they prepared their beds for the night. Zedd was afraid of starving, which had made Cara snort and roll her eyes. Richard had been afraid of failing his quest, which made Cara roll her eyes until they hurt. Cara had claimed to be afraid of nothing, which had made Kahlan smile indulgently and Zedd and Richard exchange amused looks. And as Kahlan settled down on the bedroll next to Cara's she had admitted that she was afraid of chickens in particular, but that she wasn't really very fond of anything with a beak.
Cara slipped back into bed with Dahlia remembering how she had stared incredulously at Kahlan, but the Mother Confessor had simply shrugged, unconcerned with Cara's opinion of the worthiness of her fears. In the silence that followed they all lay down and prepared for sleep, but as the men shifted and turned on the other side of the fire Cara leaned towards Kahlan and whispered, "Now I know how to break you."
Kahlan had laughed softly at that and teased that Cara would have to find a very big chicken to break her, to which Cara had replied, "I happen to travel with a Wizard who knows powerful magic."
A large smile spread across Kahlan's lips, and with twinkling eyes the Mother Confessor whispered, "You shouldn't tease me so Cara. If I have a nightmare about a giant chicken bawking after me I might just have to hold your hand to make it through the night."
Cara's eyes narrowed as she held Kahlan's sparkling gaze, and then she released a deep sigh she turned her back to the brunette though the movement wasn't out of irritation but rather a desire to hide the smile tugging at her lips.
Cara awoke the next morning to the feel of Kahlan's arm loosely draped over her waist and found that the brunette's fingers were entwined with her own. Cara turned to face the Confessor and discovered Kahlan's eyes already open and gazing at her amusedly. Then, before Cara could speak, Kahlan said, "I thought I heard a chicken cackling in the night." Cara had stared at her blankly for a moment, and then despite herself, she had smiled.
The daylight faded from Cara's minds-eye and she found herself engulfed in darkness of her chambers once more. She stared at the outline of Dahlia's body, longing for something she couldn't name, and then, hesitantly, she shifted forward and moulded herself to Dahlia's back. Her lips brushed affectionately across Dahlia's bare shoulder and she draped her arm over her lover's waist, resting her hand on top of the other woman's before finally closing her eyes.
In the morning Dahlia held out Cara's neck guard to her, as she had every morning since Cara had returned to the temple and Cara took the thick leather collar from Dahlia's hands and placed it on the table, as she had every morning since she had returned to the temple.
Cara reached for the buckles to Dahlia's own guard and began to secure it to her corset.
"He's not going to indulge you forever," Dahlia sighed as Cara's fingers trailed down her side, over her hips and then back to cup her behind.
"But he does for now," Cara murmured tugging Dahlia into her body, nipping at the other woman's lips playfully before capturing them with her own.
"Your uniform is incomplete," Dahlia exhaled against Cara's lips. "It makes you vulnerable in battle. I don't understand why you won't dress properly," she continued in a tone as close to a whine as a Mord'Sith dared get.
"The neck guard is a hindrance, Dahlia," Cara purred dismissively, kissing the corner of Dahlia's mouth. "It limits our peripheral vision and the corsets reduce our range of movement. I fight better without them," Cara whispered, running her nose along Dahlia's cheek, refusing to think about the protection the corset provided from glancing blows and the support the guard provided for their necks when blows were delivered to their heads.
Cara's lips moved for Dahlia's once more but the other blonde pulled back with a sigh to study Cara critically.
"You have to let them go," Dahlia said finally. Her features were perfectly schooled but there was an almost pleading quality in her eyes. "You have to make yourself forget," Dahlia continued before Cara could voice the denial that was on the tip of her tongue. "If Lord Rahl realizes how ... distracted you are," Dahlia paused and breathed in sharply, her mask of aloofness momentarily falling to reveal a glimpse of fear she wasn't supposed to feel. "You won't survive that agiel again," she whispered, stepping towards Cara and taking her hand. "You are home now, Cara. This is your life."
Dahlia leaned forward and pressed her lips softly to Cara's. Cara returned the kiss, lifting her hand to cup Dahlia's jaw, but she was not soothed by the caress of Dahlia's lips as she normally was. Something inside of her churned, making her gut ache and her heart pound.
"I know," Cara whispered as Dahlia pulled back, stroking her thumb across Dahlia's cheek tenderly. "This is where I belong," she continued, her eyes dropping from Dahlia's to watch as her thumb moved across pale skin.
Dahlia's gloved hand raised and caught Cara's bare hand, pressing Cara's warm palm against her cheek.
"I love you," Dahlia stated fiercely, eye's blazing with something that looked very much to Cara like fear.
"And I you," Cara replied, lips curving up as she met Dahlia's eyes, holding them for a reassuring moment before she moved in to brush Dahlia's lips with her own.
"Everything will be fine," Dahlia said softly, still holding Cara's hand when they broke apart. "One morning you'll wake up and the time you were away from us will seem like a bad dream."
Cara nodded acknowledging Dahlia's statement but she could not make herself respond to it, because despite the assuredness of Dahlia's words and the warmth and weight of her hand against her own, Cara couldn't help but think that her life felt like a dream, and her dreams felt like her life.