This story takes place about 25 years after Tears. It prompted other ideas and I'm working both a prequel and a sequel to it. Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome.
Richard stood at the foot of the grave nestled in the shade of a giant Oak. Finely crushed stones of white marble covered the length of it from his feet right up to the massive granite headstone. Vibrant blue Morning Glories bloomed on either side. He smiled to himself...Kahlan's favorite flower. The tip of his thick black boots hugged the grass along the very edge of the stones. To step on them would be sacrilege.
He paid no heed to the beautiful day or the cool crispness of the morning air. His heart heavy and deep in thought, he was a solitary figure in the vast gardens that surrounded him. He took no notice of the graceful form silently approaching.
Mia was a beautiful woman of delicate features. Her soft brown hair fell lush about her shoulders. Tall and noble, she was the epitome of grace. As she made her way past the giant rhododendrons, thoughts of her beloved sprang to her mind…just last night they had shared a kiss in the shadow of its leaves. She thought of how much he loved her hair free and unrestrained, how he loved to bury his fingers in its length whenever he held her close. Today she wore the loose wisps at her temples pulled back, tied with a simple, yet elegant, blue ribbon. She hoped he wouldn't be disappointed.
Rounding the hedgerow she found the man she sought off in the distance. She knew she would find him here and was careful not to disturb his thoughts as she drew near. She knew the pain he felt. Though he rarely spoke of it, he had shared it with her on occasion.
Richard sensed her presence and raised his head, keeping his eyes fixed on the stone monument. They stood in silence for a time but when she slipped her soft hand into his, he at last found his voice. "You of all people shouldn't be here" he said quietly.
She squeezed his arm with her free hand. "I can think of nowhere else I'd rather be."
Richard turned then to look at her. Deep blue eyes stared back into his. They reminded him so much of Kahlan's and the faintest of smiles pulled at his lips. "Not true" he said.
She might have missed the slight change in his expression if she didn't know him so well. She smiled at his simple reply. "It is" she insisted.
He hoped his visiting the grave would not leave her dispirited. There was a certain solace he drew from his visits and he needed to find that comfort now. Especially today.
Richard squeezed her hand. "I don't want you to think I'm not happy. I am. I love you, Mia. You mean more to me than you could ever know."
She pulled him into a familiar hug, "I know. I love you too, Dad."
He hugged her back and then held her at arms length, "Let me look at you." His eyes surveyed her face before examining her hair, her dress. They fixed on the blue jeweled necklace around her neck. It had belonged to Kahlan's mother and she had worn it on their wedding day. "You look lovely, Mia. Robert will be pleased." His eyes were drawn back to hers. "Have I ever told you, you have beautiful eyes?"
She gave him a playful grin, "About a million times." She took his arm and gave it a gentle tug, "Come on. Mom says it's time to go."
He went willingly with her, "She sent you rather than do the job herself?"
"Perhaps she was afraid it would make her too sad."
"Perhaps" he said with a final glance back at the words etched in the stone: Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, First Wizard, Trusted Advisor, Great-grandfather and Friend.
"Taralyn, please take your child and keep her from becoming a mess." Kahlan handed the squirming toddler to its mother; she and Richard's eldest daughter.
"That may be an impossible task, but I shall try." She smiled and lifted the child from Kahlan's arms. "Where's the bride?" she asked bouncing little Mary on her hip. Mary had been named after Mary Cypher, the woman who had raised Richard, the woman he had believed to be his mother for so many years before learning the truth.
"I sent her for your father." Having freed herself from the toddler, Kahlan fussed with tying a blue sash that hung from the waist of her dress. "He wanted to spend some time with Zedd." She could have gone for Richard herself, rather than sending the bride, but she thought Mia should spend a few minutes alone with him. She would always be their daughter, but after today things would be different. It would do them both good.
Taralyn cooed at the child then looked to her mother. "He's down there now? Today?"
Kahlan tried again to tie the sash, mortified by the tangled mess of a bow at her hip. She cast her daughter a look of reproof. "It eases his mind. I'm sure he's a jumble of nerves right now."
"I know, I know…but it's such an important day…great-grandfather has been gone for almost ten years."
Kahlan continued her attempts at tying an acceptable bow. "All the more reason he misses him so…a day like today. I'm sure it saddens him that Zedd is not here to share in it with us."
As if on queue, Richard and Mia entered through the door of the main room, laughing and looking very much at ease and happy at finding the rest of the family preparing for the day's festivities. Richard had an arm around Mia and wore a smile from ear to ear.
Kahlan stilled her fingers, her heart leaping wildly in her chest. Richard was dressed in the now familiar black and gold of D'Hara. Once he had taken the title of Lord Rahl, he had done away with the morbid blood red of the uniforms. It was 'a new day and a new D'Hara' he had declared in his speech. Her mind drifted back to that day so many years ago…it had been their wedding day. She had feared the reaction of the people of the Midlands when they learned they would be joined with D'Hara, but Richard won them over. He proclaimed that not only were the Seeker and Mother Confessor united as one, but so would be their lands.
Today he wore his best attire, made up of finely tailored black trousers and a well fitted matching tunic with accents of braided gold roping at the shoulders and the D'Haran symbol of a gold sunburst over his left breast. The Sword of Truth strapped securely around his waist, well polished and shining brighter than ever. She admired his rugged good looks…they had only gotten better with age. And she was so very glad to see him at ease.
His eyes caught hers and spoke a silent message…one they had shared so often over their life together. He kissed his daughter's cheek and released his hold, "Go now." Mia lifted the hem of her dress and motioned for Taralyn to follow. The two sisters, with baby in tow hurried from the room, dresses rustling.
Richard's eyes fixed on Kahlan as he walked over to her, stopping just in front of her, taking in the features of her face. She still took his breath away.
Kahlan had learned over the years that it was best not to move or speak when he looked at her like this. Her silence seemed to draw his intense desire. If she kept quiet, she would surely drive him mad – in a most favorable way.
His eyes moved down her body in a way that left her breathless, settling on the tangle of blue ribbon at her waist. He picked up an end in each hand, slowly unraveling the mess of fabric. Sliding the lengths between a finger and thumb, he eased himself closer to her, placing a soft kiss on her cheek. "You look beautiful" he whispered. Holding the ribbon he moved behind her, arms circling around as he slowly wrapped the sash around her waist, his warm breath on her ear. He brought the ends together at the small of her back and gently touched his lips to her neck, softly caressing its length with his mouth, as he tied the perfect, delicate bow.
His kiss felt warm and wonderful, sending a flood of heat rushing though her. She felt his hunger rising. Kahlan was suddenly having second thoughts, realizing that fanning his desire at the moment was not a good idea. They had a wedding to attend…their daughter's wedding. Even as she leaned into him, arching her neck to accept his kiss, she reluctantly broke her silence. "You need to go with her. Why did you send her away?"
His lips lingered on her skin as he took in her scent, his hands holding firm to her hips. "I couldn't have her hear me telling you that you are even more beautiful than the bride." He loved his daughter dearly, but Kahlan was still the most exquisitely beautiful woman he had ever known.
Leaning back into his embrace, she rested her hands on his, smiling at his words. "She has a chance to have the same happiness we've found."
Richard wrapped his arms full around her now, just holding his wife, remembering their own wedding day…savoring the moment before they had to be on their way. "If she's even half as happy she'll be blessed."
Kahlan turned in his arms to face him, clasping her hands behind his neck. "Indeed." They shared a tender kiss, one that hinted of the passion to come later, when the celebration was through.
Mia and Taralyn sat alone in the small room at the back of the church. Sister's sharing small talk, the elder fussing over the younger. Little Mary sat with Dennee and her nearly grown daughters in the sanctuary; her now grown adopted son, Edmund, just behind them. Dennee's mate had died years earlier, after giving her three strong daughters.
Taralyn pulled and pinched at her younger sister's dress. "You're fortunate Mia…being able to marry for love. Mom and Dad were the first in three thousand years…not since the first Confessor, Magda Serus could one of us be with a man we love without our power destroying him. I wish I knew your secret."
Mia stayed her sister's hands with hers, catching her eye in the mirror before them, giving her a sad smile. "I wish you did too."
Mia knew the secret only worked without foreknowledge. She couldn't tell Taralyn that if she loved someone with her full heart, was willing to give herself over to him completely, and he to her, without any fear of the consequences, that he would then be protected against her magic. Her parents had confirmed this truth to her only after she learned her power did not work against Robert. Had she or Robert known of it before, it would have left room for doubt in their minds, wondering if they loved each other enough to withstand her power. Even the smallest shred of doubt would be her lovers doom.
They shared a long look in the glass. Taralyn broke away first. "Pssh…I'm not one for sentiment. Rafe is a good mate. I can see already Mary has his formidable will. He's sure to give me more strong daughters."
She had Confessed him several years ago when a band of thieves attacked her in the woods. It was sad really…Rafe had been following the men, believing they were up to no good. His suspicion had been correct and when they attacked her, he jumped into the fight. He had been trying to help Taralyn when she Confessed him, thinking he meant her harm. Only after his confession did she learn the truth. She was devastated by what she'd done and struggled for months with the guilt. Since he had no family, she decided to take him as her mate. In the years since she had come to terms with what she'd done.
Mia smiled softy at her big sister. The firstborn had always been the tougher of the two. She was a natural warrior and very much like her mother in ability and looks. She had her mother's beautiful raven hair and milky white skin. But her warm brown eyes were definitely her father's. Not so for Mia. She'd inherited many of her father's traits; his brown hair and easy smile, as well as his love of the woods. More importantly, her mother often told her, she had inherited her father's good heart.
But her eyes were most decidedly her mother's – blue and captivating. She feared the day when her mother would pass on to the Creator's Light. She knew her father would never be able to look in her eyes again. No, if the good spirits didn't allow them to go together, it would be better if he were to pass first. Not that her mother wouldn't be devastated, but she would continue with life as if it were her duty. Existence would become just another obligation for her to fulfill as Mother Confessor.
But for her father, a world without his beloved Kahlan would be a world too desolate to bear.
Mia brushed at the tears gathering in her eyes. They were bittersweet…saddened by the thought of such great loss, but joyful at such a love being shared.
A knock at the door pulled Mia from her reflections and Richard poked his head in. "You ready for me?"
She stood in a rush. "Yes, yes, come in."
Concern came over him as he stepped inside. He looked from Taralyn back to Mia and placed a tender hand on her shoulder. "Why the tears?"
She dismissed them with a wave of her hand. "Happy tears, daddy."
Richard held Kahlan in his arms, as they swayed slowly to the music. It was late in the night and many of the guests had taken their leave. Still, a good many couples remained on the dance floor.
Kahlan's head rested on his shoulder as they danced. She felt his warm breath on her ear, "The flowers you planted for Zedd are in full bloom" he said. "They look beautiful."
She smiled at that and held him a little tighter in her arms, a quiet answer that she was glad to hear it.
They continued their dance, holding one another, slowly moving to the music.
"Robert is a good man" Richard said, expecting Kahlan's swift agreement; she adored Robert. But she danced on in silence.
Surprised, he asked, "You alright?"
"You seem quiet all of sudden." His voice offered a small hint of his suspicion, he had an idea what she was up to.
She nodded again.
His arms held her a little tighter and he nuzzled her ear. "Care to tell me why?"
In the darkened corner of the ballroom Kahlan allowed herself more freedom than usual. She slipped her fingers into his hair and gave a slow, lingering kiss to his neck. She felt secluded somehow in the shadows, as if any watchful eyes would have a harder time seeing them. Besides, she thought, if she wanted to kiss her husband on their daughter's wedding day, she would.
Richard's suspicion confirmed, he lifted her chin with his fingers to look in her face. She could see the glint in his eyes. "As well as you know me, Kahlan, I also know you."
She said not a word. She only held his eyes with hers letting them speak their familiar silent message. In an instant, she saw the flash of desire she knew would come.
Mia and Robert held each other close as they danced in the center of the room. She knew she shouldn't be able to take her eyes off of her new husband, but she found her gaze being drawn to the far corner of the ball room, to the shadows where her mother and father danced. She didn't know what they were saying, but she could see, as she had always known, that they were very much in love. Robert followed her gaze. He seemed to know her thoughts and held her tighter. "I will try my best to make us as happy as they are."
She pressed her cheek to his, keeping her eyes on the far corner of the room. She watched as her father kissed her mother with a tenderness she had seen many times before. "If we're even half as happy, we'll be blessed."