Title: Lost, But Not Forgotten
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Pairing: Cara/Dahlia, Happyverse AU
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Prompt: Cara/Dahlia - Happyverse AU. Schoolteacher!Cara teaches Dahlia a few things...
Meme: seriousfic's The (potentially) Great LotS Spooning Commentfic Meme
When Cara's eyes finally blinked open she found herself in a strange room, in strange clothes, with a strange woman. She was careful when she shifted on the bed to swing her legs over the side, but despite the lack of noise she made she saw the woman, the Mord'Sith, standing at the window tense and she was knew that the woman in red was aware that she was awake.
"I ..." Cara began uncertainly, hovering nervously near the foot of the bed as she stared at the strangers back. "I don't know who you are, or why you saved me, but I thank you."
The woman turned and Cara's breath caught in her throat. The Mord'Sith in front of her was uncommonly attractive, but it was more than the woman's arresting looks that robbed Cara of her breath. There was something in the woman's eyes, something about the sweet oval shape of her face and the sly curve of her lips that pierced Cara's heart and made her blink to contain the tears that had suddenly welled in her eyes.
She knew this woman. It seemed impossible, but she was certain of it. She knew this woman.
"Cara," the Mord'Sith drawled. Her voice was cool and smooth as a winter wind and Cara felt herself shiver at the sound of it, but not from fear.
She knew this woman. She couldn't remember how, or where or when, but she knew this woman.
"What's the matter Ducky? Cat got your tongue?" the Mord'Sith asked, her blood red lips curving up in a mischievous smile when Cara failed to respond to her name being spoken.
Cara blinked rapidly and her eyebrows scrunched together. Ducky? She hadn't heard that name in years, not since she was a young girl. Only one person had ever called her that. Only ...
Cara's lips parted and her hand trembled where it was pressed against the side of her body.
"Dahlia?" she whispered, jerking forward on unsteady feet until she was standing in front of the Mord'Sith. "Dahlia?" she repeated in an equally soft tone, extending a shaky hand towards the woman in red until her fingers brushed hesitantly against the leather covering Dahlia's arm. "Is it really you?" She choked out; her voice trembling with barely suppressed emotion as a tear finally escaped her eyes and slowly began to trail down her cheek.
"Yes," Dahlia replied, her tone steady and firm though her eyes were restless, scanning Cara's face curiously as the young mother gazed at her tearfully and her body trembled. "You're unhappy to see me," Dahlia said, her voice revealing nothing as she lifted a gloved hand up to Cara's face and wiped away the tear adorning it with a tenderness that surprised her.
"Unhappy?" Cara breathed out blinking in surprise. Her fingers tightened on Dahlia's arm, clutching her. "No. I'm not unhappy. Why would you think that?" Cara asked, her eyes still wide with the shock of seeing Dahlia again all these year later, a woman, and beautiful and so very changed from the girl she remembered.
"You're crying," Dahlia stated drawing her hand away from Cara's cheek, her thumb unconsciously rubbing against the slick spot Cara's tear created on her glove.
"They are happy tears," Cara said gently reaching for the hand Dahlia had just had at her face and taking it into her free hand. "I always hoped that you were alive, and that you were okay. When you disappeared," Cara's voice faltered and her eyes filled with tears that she didn't try to stop from spilling over. "I missed you so much Dahlia. I'm so glad to find you alive and ... strong," she continued, stumbling over the last word.
Dahlia's clothes had not gone unnoticed by Cara, nor had her demeanour. She knew that what had happened to Dahlia in the years since she had been taken would not have been pleasant, and she wasn't sure if Dahlia was 'well' in the sense that most people used the word, but Dahlia was there, and healthy and Cara was so happy to see her.
"You are the first village woman who has ever been happy to see me," Dahlia responded, her lips quirking up slightly as she thought about the running and screaming that usually accompanied her arrival in country villages.
Cara's lips curved up slightly at that. She imagined that was very true.
"I'm not any village woman," Cara responded squeezing Dahlia's hand. "I'm your friend."
Dahlia blinked at the sound of the word. It felt alien to her ears. She couldn't recall the last time she had ever heard it, let alone the last time she had heard it directed at her. 'Friend' was a word that had died a hard and mean death years ago, alongside its acquaintances 'innocence', 'purity' and 'love'.
"We haven't known each other for a long time," Dahlia said finally, her back straightening as she spoke. "I'm a stranger to you, and you to me. Do not think about me with fondness, Du ... Cara. You'll find I'm quite unable to return it," she went on flatly before she stepped back from Cara and removed her hand from the schoolteachers.
"Liar," Cara whispered, shaking slightly though to her credit she managed to hold Dahlia's eyes.
She had seen the teasing smile on Dahlia's lips moments before, and she had heard the way the woman nearly used her childhood nickname to address her. Years had passed and their lives had taken them along very different paths, but they were not as foreign to each other as Dahlia would have her believe.
Dahlia eyes narrowed and she stepped towards Cara again, invading her personal space.
"Did you say something?" Dahlia asked coolly, her eyes cutting into Cara like blades.
"I called you a liar," Cara replied straightening her back so that she was looking directly into Dahlia's eyes, her voice ringing with a bravado that she did not feel. "You breathed life back into me," Cara whispered, remembering the feel of hot blood trickling down her torso and the way the world had suddenly gone cold.
She had been dying before the world faded to black and she knew that the Mord'Sith's ability to bring back life was the only way she could have survived.
"You saved me from those crazy people who wanted to make my children disappear," she said shuddering, remembering the Mother Confessor's eyes which had been sympathetic and all the more terrifying because of it. "You brought me here away from your ... companions who tried to kill me."
Cara blinked rapidly and had to bite down on her lip to stop the tears welling in her eyes from falling as she remembered the feeling of arrows piercing her skin.
"You saved me, Dahlia. You are my friend," Cara declared, her voice trembling with conviction. "Even after all of these years, you are my friend ... and I am yours."
Cara did not try to touch Dahlia at that moment, she simply held Dahlia's eyes until Dahlia's lips curved up slightly and something that looked almost like affection flashed momentarily in her eyes.
"You are a foolish woman," Dahlia said, and then she turned her head to the side to look out the window of the small cottage she had 'encouraged' a young farmer and his wife to vacate for the night.
Her words were righteous. Cara was far too at ease with her and far too accepting of the strange situation she had found herself in. Cara was too trusting. She was naive and weak and idealistic, just as she had been as a child. It a world that was rotten, and cruel and wicked, it was a miracle that Cara had managed to make it to adulthood. Dahlia should have been disgusted with her; she should have pressed her agiel to Cara's breast and saved her from having to continue on with such a shabby, pathetic existence. Yet, Dahlia felt something like fondness in her heart when she looked upon the woman she had once called 'Ducky' and she knew that it would take some provocation for her to actually harm her.
"You are a foolish woman with a long day ahead of you. You should get some rest. We have a tight schedule to keep if you want to see your children alive again and if you fall behind I will leave you to fend for yourself," Dahlia continued as Cara gazed over at her tenderly. "Sleep now. You will not have the opportunity to later."
Cara stared at the woman before her, at her face which was so familiar and yet so strange to Cara all at the same time, and nodded. She wasn't tired. She knew from the darkness that lay behind the window that she had been unconscious for some time and it had rejuvenated her. She wanted to say more, she wanted to talk to Dahlia, she wanted to know about her life, but Dahlia's back was rigid and her lips were pressed together in a thin line and Cara knew that this was not a time to push.
Dahlia was not her mistress, but this was a command that Cara would obey.
"You need sleep too," Cara said near an hour later, her voice rough with sleep. She did not know what had awoken her, but she had awoken and when her eyes cracked open she saw Dahlia sitting rigidly in a chair by the window staring at her.
"My needs are my concern, not yours. Go to sleep," Dahlia replied turning her head away from Cara to stare broodingly out of the window.
She shouldn't have intervened on Cara's behalf. It was only going to cause her problems. Her plan would have to be carried out exactly as she envisioned or else there was no way it would work. It was a risky plan, and Dahlia knew that things very rarely ever worked out exactly how one envisioned. The risk she had taken was great, too great, and for what? For a school-teacher? For a mother of two children who would likely grow up to be as weak and useless as their mother? For a childhood friend when childhood was long over and she had no use or need for friends?
It was madness. Her actions were madness. She needed to be disciplined. If she managed to make it back to the temple without anyone discovering her treachery she would order her Sisters to punish her. Seeing Cara had made her weak like she was as a child. It would lead her to ruin as it had when she was a child.
"I can't stay asleep," Cara said softly.
It wasn't true. She wasn't exhausted, but she was tired and she was sure she would fall back asleep within seconds of closing her eyes, but her lie was a noble one. She could see that Dahlia was tired from the weary cast of her shoulders and the slight dipping of her head. She didn't know how Dahlia had managed to save her and escape with her earlier, but she was certain that it had been quite an arduous task. Dahlia would rest, she would need her strength as much as, if not more than, Cara did come morning and there was no way Dahlia would get any rest sitting in that chair all night.
"This place is strange to me," Cara continued gazing over at Dahlia, "it makes me uneasy."
"This hovel is not what you need to worry about," Dahlia replied still gazing out of the window. "I'm what you need to worry about, and you are displeasing me."
"I don't mean to," Cara sighed.
"What you mean is irrelevant. What you do is what matters," Dahlia replied huffily.
She finally deigned to angle her face back towards Cara's, and immediately wished that she hadn't. Cara's hair was tussled from sleep and hung loosely, almost wildly, around what Dahlia had always thought was one of the most exquisite faces ever created. Cara looked soft. She looked beautiful, like a painting, and Dahlia felt something stir in her chest at the sight of her.
"I don't want to be left to fend for myself. Perhaps you could lay with me?" Cara proposed tentatively, watching Dahlia closely. "Your presence will help me sleep and the bed would certainly be more comfortable than the chair you're sitting in."
Dahlia's eyes slipped shut and she tipped her head back, her nostrils flaring slightly as she took a deep calming breath. Mord'Sith were not teddy bears. She was not for this woman to use to comfort herself to sleep. She was the razor edge of a blade. She was a biting winter wind, cold and violent enough to strip skin from the body and freeze a man mid-step. Men's blood adorned her body as proudly as fat, pampered noble women's earrings and jewelled necklaces. She was a nightmare made flesh.
"Dahlia," Cara whispered. Her voice cracked slightly as she spoke, but her gaze remained steady as she looked in Dahlia's direction.
Dahlia's leg twitched and her fist clenched.
She had almost moved.
Dahlia's leg twitched again and her bare hand traveled to agiel to grasp it tightly.
She still wanted to move.
Cara shifted, leaning forward into the shaft of moonlight shining into the room. She looked like a dream and before she was conscious of what she was doing, Dahlia was on her feet and reaching for her belt.
"You are an embarrassment to all women," Dahlia muttered darkly when she realized that she was standing and she was going to continue to move. "If leaving you now wouldn't cause me more trouble I would already be out the door. I should not have wasted my breath on you."
Dahlia's words were harsh, but Cara didn't mind, for despite what Dahlia said she had removed the belt that had been buckled to her waist and had placed it on the table beside her corset and neck guard. Dahlia was going to lay with her, Cara was sure of it, and she didn't want to say anything to dissuade the other woman.
Dahlia moved towards the bed and Cara scooted over creating a spot for her on the mattress. Without a words Dahlia lifted the covers and lowered herself on the bed where she settled rigidly on her back. She looked incredibly uncomfortable but Cara didn't say anything, she simply slide marginally closer to Dahlia on the bed.
"What are you doing?" Dahlia asked, a touch of alarm entering her voice as she felt Cara's body press against her.
"We used to lie like this as children," Cara said, her eyes watching Dahlia carefully as she lowered her head on the other woman's shoulder. "When we slept at each other's houses we always slept wrapped up together. Do you remember?"
"Yes," Dahlia replied, tensing under Cara though she did not try to remove herself. "We are not children. Remove yourself."
"I always slept so peacefully on those nights," Cara breathed out, draping her arm over Dahlia's waist.
Dahlia's words were harsh again, but her actions – or lack of action – did not match them. Dahlia kept her expression guarded, she turned her face into a mask of stone, but her eyes were not so easy to disguise and Cara saw a sort of longing in them that encouraged her to stay true to her course. As a child Dahlia had loved nothing more than to wrap Cara up in her arms, or to be wrapped up in Cara's arms, and Cara knew that there was a part of the woman Dahlia had become that longed for the same contact though the Mord'Sith in her raged against it.
"I woke up so energized in the morning," Cara continued softly, offering Dahlia something practical to latch onto. "I could run around for hours after breakfast on those mornings."
Dahlia's eyelids fluttered at the gentle sound of Cara's voice and the warmth of her at her side and she felt something tender and fragile quiver inside of her.
She shuddered, violently.
"It's not very awful is it?" Cara asked softly feeling Dahlia's body shake against her, "lying beside me."
Dahlia was quiet for a moment even though she did not need time to think about the answer to the question. It was not awful lying beside Cara. Dahlia was used to feel of another woman's body against her own, and so feeling Cara at her side was almost familiar.
It shouldn't have been familiar though.
Cara's body was soft and trim, instead of muscled and solid like the bodies of her sisters. Cara was not naked and sweating beside her after a furious bout of sex, she was simply holding her ... for comfort. How Cara was acting was not at all what Dahlia was accustomed to, yet she couldn't help remembering lying with Cara as a child and how perfect it had seemed to be with each other that way.
However, they had been young then. She had just been a simple village girl, not a Mord'Sith sworn to faithfully serve the true Lord Rahl. When they were children there was no fault with weakness, there was no fault with affection, but they were not children anymore and there was no room in Dahlia's life for either now.
"Go to sleep," Dahlia said, feeling a strange ache inside of her chest as Cara's breath warmed her throat.
Dahlia closed her eyes and tried desperately to shut the sensation of Cara's breath on her skin out of her mind, but despite her best efforts her mind wandered.
She remembered running her fingers through Cara's hair, and Cara playfully kissing one of her cheeks and then the other before pressing her lips quickly against Dahlia's lips. Dahlia remembered the way her heart always seemed to freeze in her chest when Cara did that, and how her body felt tingly and light. But then Cara would laugh and bury her head in the space between Dahlia's neck and shoulder and Dahlia would laugh as well, and they would return to lying together and talking until sleep overwhelmed them.
The tips of Dahlia's fingers were brushing against the silken cornflower strands of Cara's hair by the time her brain registered what she was doing and it was with a feeling of genuine alarm that she pulled her hand away.
Cara bit down on her lip to stop the sigh of protest she felt welling up inside of her as Dahlia's fingers pulled away from her. For a moment, when Dahlia's fingers first ghosted over her hair, it felt like they were ten years old again huddling together under the blankets of her bed so that her sister couldn't intrude in on their private world. For a split second it had felt to Cara as if the years hadn't passed at all and Dahlia had never been taken away from her and it had felt so good, so ... right.
"Goodnight," Cara breathed out softly, wishing she knew what to say to make the terrible hesitance and fear in Dahlia fade away.
Desire bloomed in Cara's mind and her body stilled for a long moment as she struggled with the decision of what to do. Reason told her to be cautious, but there had always been a rebellious streak in Cara. She tried to fight it most of the time. She tried to be reasonable, to be sensible and responsible and dependable. But at times the dragon in her heart would lift its head and roar and reason and caution were thrown to the wind.
That night, the dragon roared.
Cara pushed up so that she was supporting herself on her hand and then she leaned down so that she could press her lips against Dahlia's left cheek, and then her right. She hovered above Dahlia's mouth for a moment and then she lowered her lips, placing a sweet kiss there as well. Her lips lingered at Dahlia's mouth for longer than they ever did as a child, but eventually she was forced to pull back and with a soft, aching little sigh she returned her head to its resting place on Dahlia's chest.
Dahlia's pressed her eyes shut and she felt the unfamiliar stung of tears behind the closed lids. Her jaw clenched as she struggled to keep the wetness contained behind her eyelids and she forced herself to breath in and out slowly and deeply in an attempt to control the sudden rapid beating of her heart.
Wrong, Dahlia's mind hissed at her. This is wrong, it screamed. But Cara's breath was warming her throat again, and Cara's body fit so very neatly in her arms, and her fingers were combing through silken cornflower hair as they had longed to before, and it didn't feel wrong.
Cara's arms wrapped more tightly around her waist and Dahlia exhaled deeply, her body trembling for a moment before it sagged into the mattress and she relaxed into Cara's embrace.
"I missed you."
The words were soft, barely a whisper, and when they registered with Dahlia she hardly recognized the voice that spoke them as her own.
"I missed you too," Cara whispered tucking her face into Dahlia's neck as tears burned her own eyes. "I missed you too."