They sat around the fire as it crackled and popped at it cooked their dinner, smiles on each of their faces. The Keeper had been defeated and the world was safe. Richard constantly looked sideways at the beautiful Confessor sitting beside him. Kahlan, the woman he loved, smiled widely, knowing his eyes were on her.
"You're going to get tired of staring at me." She said softly, keeping her eyes on the fire.
"I don't think that would be possible." He said moving closer to her and wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
Snuggling closer, she leaned into his embrace, enjoying the comfort of his arms. From across the fire, Zedd smiled at the couple, enjoying seeing them happy. He had known Richard would not be harmed by Kahlan's magic; he had, for so long, hoped that they would somehow realize it. Seeing both of them laughing together and holding hands was something he was glad to witness. Rolling her eyes, Cara let out a sigh as she poked a stick into the dirt. She had been avoiding looking at the happy couple sense they left The Pillars of Creation.
"Will you two just go off through the trees already?" she asked as she threw a stick into the fire. "You're making me sick."
Richard snorted a laugh at the Mord-Sith's reaction, Kahlan's smile widened as she looked over the fire at her friends. She had never felt so happy before, she had never known this kind of happiness existed. Not for a Confessor.
"Cara, if we are making you that uncomfortable, you could always go into the trees yourself." Richard said with a smile, tightening his hold around Kahlan.
"I am not the one who can't keep my hands to myself." she retorted quickly looking around them at the trees. "There's a river that way." she pointed behind herself.
Standing, Kahlan brushed the dirt off of her skirt and turned to Richard, holding out her hand to him. Taking her hand, he stood, his smile widening as she pulled him through the trees. His heart raced as he watched her flow gracefully though the trees before him, her perfect form outlined by the moonlight. Her pace slowed as they neared the river, the sound of flowing water filling the air. Pulling her to a stop, he wrapped his arms around her, resting his forehead against hers. Her breathing quickened as she leaned forward, capturing his lips with hers.
"I'm so happy I can do that now." she said with a smile as she pulled back.
"You could always kiss me. I would never stop you."
She smiled widely, "I don't have to worry about destroying you now." she pulled herself closer to him, pressing her body against his, "This, the thought of this, used to terrify me."
Wrapping his arms tighter around her, he kissed the top of her head. His heart slightly aching for the pain she had been in. "Kahlan?" he asked after a few minutes when she didn't pull away.
"Mmm?" she replied softly.
"The river isn't too far..."
She pulled back, opening her eyes, "Sorry. I forgot where we were for a moment."
"I didn't mind." he smiled as he took her hand and started walking towards the sounds of water.
Reaching the water, he turned towards her, smiling widely as he pulled his shirt over his head. "Care for a swim?"
She laughed, softly running her fingers across his chest, "It's hard to believe it's over."
"What is it?" he asked softly, noticing the smile fade from her face.
Looking up quickly, she tried to smile "Nothing, I was just thinking." she said as she reached for her jacket.
Stopping her hands with his, he sighed "Thinking about what?"
"What's going to happen now?"
"We're free. The world is safe, Kahlan, it's all over."
"That's what we thought when you killed Darken Rahl." she said softly, looking to the ground, trying to keep him from seeing the fear in her eyes.
"I didn't make a mistake this time."
"You didn't make a mistake when you killed Rahl." she said quickly, looking up into his eyes, "How could you know that when the boxes exploded, tears in the rift would appear?" she said smiling, trying to assure him.
He smiled a small smile at her attempt. Reaching up, he gently tucked the strands of her hair behind her ear. Her eyes close for a moment from the comfort of his touch. The sight of her caught his breath in his throat, his heart eternally grateful for her.
"How about that swim?" she said quickly, reaching for his pants and smiling mischievously.
"I do believe that The Mother Confessor wants me naked."
Pulling her hands from him, she reached for her jacket, "Well if you don't want to..." she tossed it to the ground, her eyes connected with his, "I'll swim by myself."
He watched, mesmerized, as she removed her clothes, her eyes remaining focused on his. Kahlan's smile widened as her skirt fell to the ground, his eyes moving over her slowly.
"It's only fair to lose your clothes as well, Seeker." She laughed as she turned and walked into the water.
"Yes mistress!" he called after her, quickly removing his pants with a smile as she turned back towards him, eyebrow raised.
He moved quickly into the water, swimming after her. "I could get used to this." his voice soft and husky, his body inches from hers.
"Me too." she smiled, moving closer to him, her arms wrapping around his neck. Speaking without words, they waded in the water, holding each other.
"Yes?" he replied looking down at her, their eyes meeting.
"What are we going to do now?" her voice soft and fragile, "I must return to Aydindril."
"I'll go with you." he replied quickly, cupping her face in his hands.
"What about your home in Hartland?"
Smiling warmly, he brushed her wet hair from her face, allowing his hand to linger on her shoulder. "Kahlan, my home is with you."
A smile crossed her features, as she reached up to his face, pulled him closer and kissed him. Slowly, her legs wrapped around his waist, removing any distance between them, her body begging for him. He laughed as she pushed into him, her fingernails slightly digging into his shoulders. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her impossibly closer, his own need rising with hers.
"Are you two done? You are not the only ones who wish to bathe!" Cara's voice came from the trees. She looked through the limbs, she watched as Richard turned them around, using his body to cover Kahlan's. Smirking, she noticed their clothes lying on the ground, a few feet from the water. "Hurry up, before I run off with your clothes!" she called out smiling widely.
"We're coming Cara!" he shouted back. Being sure to keep Kahlan behind him, he walked slowly towards the river shore. Bending down, he grabbed her clothes and handed them to her before going for his own.
Dressing in silence, they each glanced at the other, smiling widely as they both shivered from the cool wind flowing past them, drying the water dripping from their bodies. As Kahlan laced her corset, he took her hand and led her towards camp.
"We should send word to Chase. Maybe he and his family would be able to meet us..."
Turning towards her, a smile across his face, he let out a laugh "I suppose." Even now, after thinking he could not love her any more, he found himself falling deeper in love with her. She knew how important his friends were to him and if he didn't want to go back to Hartland, she was going to be sure he didn't lose anything. "I love you."
She smiled warmly at his words, her heart still swelling over the amount of love she felt from him. "And I love you." she said as her arms wrapped around his waist. "I want you to be happy, but Aydindril isn't your home."
"Not yet, but it will be." he tightened his hold around her, keeping her body against his, "Kahlan, anywhere you are, as long as I am with you, that will be my home."
She pulled back slowly, looking to the ground, "The People's Palace." her heart stopped at her own words. "You're the heir to D'Hara."
He sighed, realizing she was right, "I do not wish to rule D'Hara. I will not rid them of a tyrant only to replace him with myself."
"You can protect the people, Richard."
"I don't know anything about it. I wouldn't even know where to start."
"I can help you." she said looking up, "You can change their lives." she added, her smile returning.
Brushing a few strands of hair behind her ear, he smiled, "I don't want to be away from you."
Her smile widened, "Well then, I guess we're going to have to find a way to keep you with me."
Taking her hand, he turned and started walking back to camp "I hope Zedd didn't eat all the food." he laughed
"He probably left us a piece of bread." she said trying not to laugh as she imagined how much the wizard ate.
"If you wanted us to save you some food, you should have said something." Zedd said as he sat forward on his bedroll. "I do not read minds."
"Oh really?" Richard retorted, trying to keep from smiling. "I remember you always seeming to know what I was thinking about Kahlan."
Her face heated at the men's expressions.
The wizard laughed "My boy, everyone knew what you were thinking when you looked at her. You were like a love struck child!"
Richard smiled at the statement. "I am like a love struck child." he corrected, turning towards Kahlan, who had knelt down beside the fire.
"Thank you." she said as she lifted up some food and looked up to Zedd.
"You are welcome. Cara seemed to think you both would return hungry."
"She threatened you?" Richard asked with a wide smile.
"She merely... suggested it." he said as he lay back, staring off into the stars. "There is some soup left as well, though it tastes terrible." he laughed "Cara made it."
"I think I'll pass." Kahlan said as she lifted the lid and smelled the soup.
Richard snorted a laugh at her face, "It can't be that bad."
"You want to try it?" she replied spooning some into a bowl. She watched as the smell hit him, his eyes closed as he let out a cough.
"Maybe not." he laughed as he took the bowl from her. He waited a moment, slowly moving the spoon through the soup, "What's in here?"
"I don't know. She made it while I was getting the real food." Zedd said as he looked over towards them.
"I think she was trying to kill us." Richard said dumping it into the grass.
"You could have done no better." Cara said walking over to them. "You are lucky I made it all, the way the old wizard eats, and we would all starve."
Kahlan smiled up as the Mord-Sith walked past "Thank you Cara."
Rolling her eyes, she laid down on her bedroll and turned away from them. "Try not to devour each other while we sleep." she said loudly making Zedd laugh.
His eyes opened slowly, allowing them to adjust to the sunlight beating down upon him. His arms tightened around the small woman lying against him. Her right arm lay over his chest, her palm open against him. Their blanket lay on his other side, their bodies keeping them warm throughout the night. The sound of Zedd and Cara packing up camp echoed in his ears.
"How long do you think we can lay here without being told to get up?" she asked softly, being sure not to move.
"Not long." Cara said standing above them. "Get up." she said as she dumped a bowl of water over them.
Kahlan's body jumped from his, her arms wrapping around her from the sudden cold. "Cara!" she said as she looked for her, her eyes closing from the brightness of the sun.
"What? Now you're awake. You can finish packing up camp." She smiled down at them, "Get up!"
They watched her as she walked through the trees. The moment she was gone, Richard pulled Kahlan back to him, hugging her close.
"Zedd won't say anything." He said as she looked around for him. "He's almost as happy about this as we are." He added with a sigh.
"We should help them, Richard."
He smiled and closed his eyes, "And we will… Tomorrow."
Covering her mouth to drown her laughter, she sat forward. "I'll get it Zedd." She said as the wizard knelt beside the fire and began packing their plates.
"It's alright child. You can lay for a while longer." He looked up to the trees, "It would be wise to be up before Cara returns." He added with a smile.
Moving from Richard's arms, she stood up, brushed the dirt from her clothes and walked over to Zedd, leaving Richard lying in the sun with a smile on his face.
"You're worried about returning to Aydindril." He asked as she knelt down beside him.
She looked up at him surprised "How did you know?"
"I am a Wizard of the First Order, I know everything." He replied looking past her at Richard.
"Zedd, he says he doesn't want to go back home."
"You are his home." Their eyes connected, "Kahlan, you are all he has left."
"He has you too." She said smiling softly as she pushed the pack closed.
The wizard smiled, "I am here. You are here. He has no reason to go back."
"He must have friends." She said softly, "Zedd, I'm afraid."
"That he will not like your home?" he said smiling, "You should not be afraid dear. He will love being with you. Nothing else will matter."
"Zedd, you know my duties will keep me away from him."
He nodded, "He will understand Kahlan."
"I don't want to disappoint him." She sighed, "He will be bored." She added as he placed his hand on her shoulder, giving her a reassuring squeeze.
"Everything will be fine. He loves you." He smiled watching her face light up with joy. "You two will be happy."
"Still sleeping Lord Rahl?" Cara asked stepping into sight. "The Mother Confessor is doing her part-"
"One day Cara, when you are as happy as I, I will not stand in your way." Richard said sitting forward.
"We should be moving. If we hurry, we can arrive in Aydindril in a week." Zedd said, helping Kahlan to stand.
"First we must stop at the People's Palace." Cara said looking around at them all.
"No." Richard said firmly, "We're going to Aydindril."
Seeing that it was not the time to argue, Cara picked up her pack with a sigh and waited for the others. With a smile, Kahlan walked to Richard, knelt down and helped him pack his things. Their eyes constantly locking on each other, until they were finished.
"Will you two hurry up?" Cara said as she leaned against a large tree. "If you keep up this pace, I'm going to die before we leave."
Wrapping his arm around her, Richard and Kahlan walked towards the Mord-Sith, who immediately started off as they made their way towards her.
"You know, It's rude to forget the Wizard of the First Order!" Zedd called out after them, making them all laugh as they turned to watch him hurry towards them. "I didn't even get to pack a snack."
Handing him a piece of bread, Kahlan smiled, "I thought you would be hungry."