Richard couldn't help but think Shota had somehow helped him, though likely not intentionally...and he had no doubt she would have made good on her "offer" if given the chance. But he understood now that he couldn't take away Kahlan's pain or his own. They had to allow it in their lives and find a way to through it. As much as he hurt over Ethan's death, they would have more children. But he couldn't survive without Kahlan; she was his very reason for existence. Not having Kahlan by his side was not a life worth living.
He pushed the heavy wrought-iron chair away from the table and went to stand beside the thick stone rail of the terrace, staring up at the moon. Though he understood now, he still couldn't shake the anger. The magic of the sword wouldn't let go. Even when he set it aside he could feel the rage of it burning within.
The sound of iron scraping on stone pulled Kahlan from sleep, her eyes slowly drifting open. She was startled to see Richard out on the terrace looking up at the stars. Tears sprang to her eyes at the sight of him so near, it seemed forever since she'd last seen him. More than anything she wanted to run to him and bury her face in his chest, tell him how much she loved him, but she fought the urge. She knew he was hurting. Cara's words that he blamed himself for Ethan's death weighed heavy on her. It was an unfair burden for him to bear…he'd done everything in his power to save their son. She had to get him to see that.
Kahlan knew she had 'conquered her mountain', so to speak; but Richard still needed to conquer his. Making it to the summit, seeing Ethan's grave, sitting there beside it, had been a turning point for her. She could finally breathe again and was at last wading out of the murky gloom. She wondered how long before Richard would do so as well. She was desperate to have him whole again…only then would she be whole as well. She knew he felt dead inside, just as she had, but she also knew he loved her. He just didn't know how to get through the pain. Kahlan silently pleaded for the good spirits to help him; it tore at her heart to see him like this.
Richard turned to make his way inside and Kahlan was suddenly filled with trepidation, her heart pounding wildly in her chest. She could scarcely see him in the darkness as he crossed the floor and came to stand beside their bed. She held her breath. She heard him pull off his boots and prop his sword still in its scabbard, against the wall. He sat down on the bed with a heavy sigh. She could just see his weary outline in the shadows; head bent, shoulders sagging. Her heart ached for him.
He laid down beside her in the dark, eyes fixed on the ceiling. Kahlan thought surely he could hear her heart hammering against her breast. It had been weeks since they'd spoken, catching only glimpses of each other from a distance, she from the terrace; he from the cover of trees. She had to talk to him, had to make him see it wasn't his fault. Silently, she moved close and cupped a hand to his cheek. She felt him tense at her touch; he hadn't known she was awake. She turned his head to look at her though she could scarcely see him through the shadows.
She could feel his pulse thundering in his neck, the warmth of him beneath her fingers and the rough scratch of his beard. It was a wonderful feeling, one she had missed so much. Her quiet voice broke through the stillness of the night; "Don't blame yourself, Richard; it's not your fault." His whole body went rigid. The woman he loved more than life, the wife he'd barely seen in months, the one he had caused so much pain was reaching out to him. He wanted desperately to respond, to tell her how sorry he was, how much he needed her, but rage blazed inside him anew. Only moments ago on the terrace he had fought bitterly to control it…and lost. He didn't know how to answer her so he didn't. "I see this eating away at you, but you can't let it destroy you…destroy us." She moved in closer, "I miss you, Richard" she whispered and gently kissed him.
Richard trembled with fury but otherwise didn't move. He didn't pull away from her, but he didn't return the kiss either. Somewhere in his mind, he knew she was right, but he couldn't shake the rage. He battled with it now, even as his sword stood against the wall. "Kahlan…" his voice so thick he could say nothing more.
She knew him well enough to know when the Seeker's wrath consumed him. She could hear it in his tone, felt his shaking with it now. She didn't care if he was angry…she was angry too, but right now she was desperate to feel again…She had been dead too long.
"I know you're angry Richard. I'm angry too: Angry that our son is dead; angry at your pain; my pain; angry that we're apart. There is plenty for us to be angry about. But I also know I wouldn't feel such pain if it weren't for the love we share. You showed me what true love really is." She held his face in both hands, adamant in her words, "I bear a pain no other Confessor has ever born – the loss of a beloved child, one created in the deep emotional bonds of love. Without the depth of that love, we would never suffer this torment. We've been given a wonderful gift…we can't let it tear us apart." She pressed against him in the darkness, tenderly nudging him with her nose, pressing her lips to his cheek, "Make love to me, Richard."
His fixed countenance told her he was too full of rage for anything that required feeling. Anguish tore at his heart, he knew she needed him, but his wrath consumed him. All of his emotions were churning inside him, tossing about like the angry waves of the sea, smashing together as they joined as one: Love, rage, despair, grief, everything he'd ever felt came crashing together. He clenched his jaw against the onslaught assaulting him within.
She nudged him again, pleading for him to take what she so hopelessly needed to give, "Please, Richard," she showered him with soft kisses, hoping to quell the storm inside him.
Richard ground his teeth and gripped her by the shoulders, his fingers digging in to hold her at bay. Kahlan felt the power of his fury coursing through him, channeling into her through his strong hold. The force of it was frightening. Had it been anyone other than Richard she would have been terrified but she knew he needed her just as much as she needed him. Undaunted, she leaned in to kiss to his neck, just below his ear where she knew he liked it, burying her soft lips in his skin, she whispered her need.
Like a giant oak struck by lightening, Richard snapped. He seized Kahlan by the arms, kissing her so fierce she could hardly draw breath. He rolled on top of her as need washed over him like flood waters bursting through a dam, desperate to take everything and anything that would make him feel again. Powerful hands yanked open the bodice of her dress. Kahlan gasped for air, stunned by the power of his strength. She hissed at the scratch of his beard as he buried his face in her breasts, his hands furiously pushing her skirt above her thighs. Desperate to feel again, she welcomed his fierce manner knowing tenderness would only be lost on the raw pain she felt inside. Then, without warning, he was suddenly there, taking her with a power she could scarcely comprehend. She wasn't ready for him but his intensity made her feel alive again, masking the pain of anything else. Strong hands gripped tight to her as he furiously lost himself in her body, his visceral need shaking Kahlan to her core, both delighting and frightening her at the same moment.
It ended just as suddenly as it began. All of Richard's emotions, all of his pain, everything he'd ever felt, spiraled out of him with his release. Holding himself up on his arms, he stayed fixed inside her, panting over her in the darkness, fully spent with exhaustion. He knew he should feel remorse at how forcefully he'd taken her but he was numb inside. Completely spent, he awaited her disgust.
Like the warm glow of a fire in the midst of a brutal tempest, Kahlan reached a gentle hand to his face, her soft touch at once quieting the rage inside him. He saw her now through the watery blur of his pain. She was covered in tears. His tears…her neck wet with his weeping. So consumed by the maelstrom inside him, he hadn't even been aware of his crying.
She tenderly brushed his cheek with her thumb. He had wept furiously with his release, and her heart broke with his pain. She wanted only to comfort him, love him; heal him. She leaned up to kiss away the tears that clung to his jaw, ready to fall from his chin.
Her mouth was heaven. She was heaven. Richard thought he would surly die from her gentle touch. It was the sweetest thing he'd ever felt. He felt her gentle fingers lovingly caress his hair as she held him close, felt her soft breath as she whispered her words of love to him. He buried his face in her skin, holding so tight he thought he would crush her. He sobbed his grief into her, telling her how much he loved her, how sorry he was for it all. Kahlan quietly 'shushed' him as he wept more hot tears into her neck, hugging him tight with arms and legs, soothing him with her words.
His big arms wrapped around her never felt so wonderful and she clutched him tight, never wanting to let go. As much as he had needed to take, she had needed to give. To feel him again was to awaken to new life.
Richard finally loosened his hold, kissing her with all the tenderness he'd ever felt, as if she were the most precious thing in all the world. And she was. In his world there was nothing so precious as she. As fierce as he had been just moments ago, he was now equally tender, holding Kahlan like a delicate flower lovingly in his arms. Richard tenderly caressed her lips with his, tracing their outline as he whispered his love, their grief bringing forth shared tears.
He never needed her as much as he did this night, unsure if he would ever feel again, not knowing how to get there. Kahlan had broken through his wall of pain, his wall of nothingness – one he had built so high he couldn't find his way back. Her love had done what nothing else could, not Shota's magic, not the magic of the sword Richard had so foolishly turned to. Her love had shown him the way back to life and he clung to her with desperation. As fiercely as he had taken her only moments before, he just as tenderly made love to her now.
Richard had laid awake for what seemed like hours just holding Kahlan in his arms, watching her sleep. When she stirred, happiness at being wrapped in his embrace brought her fully awake. She lifted her lips to his for a tender kiss, "Haven't you slept?" she asked groggily.
He cupped her chin in his fingers, keeping her close, pain evident in his eyes. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there Kahlan" he said softly. "You shouldn't have had to do that alone."
She smiled at his gentleness and kissed him again, resting a hand on his heart…his precious heart. "You were with me every step of the way Richard, as surly as you are with me now." She shared with him how his words had stayed with her and that knowing his love for her was the only thing that kept her going. "I would never have made it without you."
His eyes shone with an ever deepening love as he traced a thumb down her cheek. "You're an amazing woman, Kahlan Amnell."
Four Month's later:
Richard looked out over the valley and rubbed his hands together, blowing on them for warmth, watching a cloud of birds migrating for the coming winter.
He turned at the sound of someone coming and saw Kahlan making her way up the last part of the trail, fall's last batch of Morning Glories in hand. He rushed over to help her, "What are you doing? I would have brought those."
"I wanted to come. I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able make the trip." She panted a bit as she caught her breath, resting a hand on her growing belly.
"Well, I would have brought you then" Richard scolded, but she was too beautiful for him to be angry with. He took her hand and slipped his other arm around her waist, guiding her into the clearing.
They had grown closer than ever since that night some months ago…the night when Kahlan's love had saved him from the brink of despair, bringing him back from the edge of madness. She said he had saved her too but he wasn't so sure. Since then, they had been to the summit many times together and found joy in being there.
He helped her place the flowers on Ethan's grave and then they both took a seat on the bench: A more elaborate bench than the one Richard had originally made. One he'd taken his time in carving with intricate patterns of vines, leaves and trees.
When Kahlan had come some months back to him to tell him she was with child, she said she wanted a better bench to sit on. "One fitting the Mother Confessor" she had teased. She'd said she wanted happy memories here and had chosen this spot to tell him he was going to be a father. Richard immediately set out to making the new bench for his pregnant wife. On the backrest where they would lean for hours, were perfectly carved bunches of Morning Glories, all tied together with a wispy vine that stretched between them, running the length of the bench. In the middle, between the bunches of flowers, was the face of young boy. It wasn't the exact likeness of Ethan, the child was older, but he held the features that, even in his young age, had so clearly been Ethan's. How Richard had captured the life in his eyes was beyond Kahlan. They seemed to beam with joy and love. It warmed her heart every time she looked at it. She ran her fingers lovingly over it now. "I can't thank you enough for this, Richard."
He smiled and gave her a kiss, resting a big hand on her belly. "And I can't thank you enough." They had at last found a way to honor their son: "Our daughter will know her brother and through us all, he will live on." The End