A/N: Ever since I saw "Reckoning" for the first time I have wondered what might have happened if, instead of giving birth to Nicholas, Kahlan had given birth to the Confessor daughter that she wanted so badly; the daughter she believed would bring Richard back to her. Also, what effect would Kahlan's terrible losses - her sister, Zedd, and, of course, Richard - have had on her emotionally. What kind of a mother would she have been to such a child? What kind of a father would Darken have been? Most importantly - Would the child of this marriage be able to meet her mother's expectations?

This is my version of what might have happened.

This story was inspired not only by "Reckoning", but also by another story on this site: "Down through the Years", by Vorquellyn.

Disclaimer: The Sword of Truth copyright/Terry Goodkind. Legend of the Seeker, characters, names and anything related are trademarks of Sam Raimi and ABC Studios. This fan fiction is written for entertainment purposes only. I own nothing and make no profit. This story is based on the television show and not the books.


Cruelty has a human heart,

And Jealousy a human face;

Terror the human form divine,

And secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,

The human form a fiery forge,

The human face a furnace seal'd

The human heart its hungry gorge

A Divine image

William Blake

(Songs of Innocence and Experience, 1794)


Hope

It was the first royal birth in more than thirty-five years.

Everything was prepared.

Alice sent for the healer as soon as the pains began.

Queen Kahlan Rahl stroked her swollen belly.

Ignoring the commotion around her, she thought only of the task at hand.

She will be here soon, Richard.

I will raise her to love you.

She will be our salvation.

Kahlan repeated this litany every hour of every day since she had learned she was with child.

The child conceived of a bargain made with a demon.

Only sheer will and determination had carried Kahlan through these last nine months.

The determination to do what was necessary.

The determination to bear a confessor child to accomplish what she could not.

A daughter to guide the man she loved back to her.

Then the world would be made right. The nightmare she was living would never happen.

Kahlan gasped as the pangs of labor gripped her like a vise.

Soon, Richard, soon.

oOo

Darken Rahl stalked through the Palace chambers like a caged tiger.

Servants and guards were careful to maintain a safe distance. His Mord'Sith remained alert and carefully impassive.

"What is taking so long?" his voice was harsh with impatience, and something more.

A concern he found it difficult to conceal.

It infuriated him that the process of childbirth would not yield to his need for control.

So much depended on this small new life.

"My Lord"

Darken turned as Alice, his wife's companion, came into the room carrying a small bundle. "You have a fine, healthy daughter."

"And her mother?"

"Fine, my Lord, but very tired. It was a hard birth."

Fighting down a confusing surge of relief, joy and disappointment, Darken gathered up the child in his arms.

As the Lord Rahl it was his right to determine whether this child would be permitted to live.

He tentatively put one arm underneath the tiny body, using his other hand to gently support her head. He had never held an infant before and was terrified of dropping her.

Not that he would ever let it show.

The Darken who was obsessed with power had wanted a son. The prospect of having a male confessor to raise and mold had been intoxicating. For the past year, ever since he had discovered that his brother, the so-called Seeker, was coming after him, Darken had attempted to harness the power of confession by any means possible.

But the Seeker was no more.

The shadow that had haunted his life for the last twenty-four years was finally gone.

During Kahlan's pregnancy, horrifying visions had often jolted him awake in the small hours of the morning.

Visions of a devastated and barren landscape.

Visions of D'Hara's future under the rule of a male confessor.

A confessor son who would rebel against his father.

If a son this powerful could destroy his own kingdom, what would that son do to a father who stood in his way?

Male Confessors had once come very close to destroying the world.

Darken had always known that any children Kahlan gave him would almost certainly be daughters. He had been willing to make that concession in return for the benefits she would bring to him, and to D'Hara, as his queen.

With the Mother Confessor at his side, amnesty granted to those who laid down their weapons, places of healing established and homes provided to the children orphaned in the fighting, the Resistance had, for all practical purposes, sputtered and died. The few isolated rebellions had been swiftly extinguished as he consolidated his power.

Terror as an instrument of control was no longer necessary.

The people loved their Queen and, through her, were beginning to accept their King. A child, even a daughter, would further help wipe away the misperceptions his people had held about him for so many years.

Through a daughter, he would still have the power of confession.

Under his loving guidance and control, she would help him maintain the peace that had finally been restored with his marriage.

She would belong to him in a way that a son never could. There would be no struggle for power between an aging ruler and an ambitious young man.

This daughter would always love him.

She would never flinch away from his touch.

Would never look at him with cold distain.

She would not despise him.

Her love and admiration would finally make him complete.

Would fill the constant tormenting emptiness inside.

In return, he would make sure that she would have everything she ever wanted

For the first time in as long as he could remember Darken Rahl felt an emotion that certainly must have been happiness. He smiled into his daughter's eyes and took her in to meet her mother.

If he remembered the birth of an ungifted son who had never been held, he gave no sign.

oOo

Kahlan Rahl was so exhausted she could barely lift her head off the pillow. It had been a long agonizing labor.

The physical ordeal was over.

But she was beginning to grow anxious as she kept her eyes on the door to her bedchamber.

As was the custom she would know nothing about the child until her husband had decided its fate.

She had prayed so hard for a daughter. Surely, after all she had gone through, the Creator would not deny her that.

The prospect of a son born of this marriage was too monstrous to contemplate.

The door to her room swung open as Alice helped her sit up.

Rahl entered with their child in his arms.

Despair swept over her at the look on his face.

He would never look this happy if it were a girl!

Her husband sat down on the bed next to her and gently pulled the blanket away from the child's puckered face.

"We have a beautiful daughter, my love."

She almost sobbed with gratitude.

She smiled at her husband with complete happiness as she reached out for her child.

As Darken relinquished the newborn to her mother's arms he reached out to brush Kahlan's still damp hair away from her face. She didn't even try to pull away.

"Have you picked out a name, Kahlan?"

They had never discussed names. Since the bargain made before their marriage, they had rarely discussed anything.

Gazing down at her daughter, Kahlan suddenly thought of another little girl. A ten year old child who had dealt her husband what, at the time, had seemed to be a crushing blow.

Once Richard had obtained all three Boxes of Orden, they had both believed Darken Rahl's destruction inevitable.

They had been so hopeful.

This child would bring about what the other child could not.

"Rachel", Kahlan smiled softly to herself, "Her name is Rachel".


Reviews, comments and constructive criticism are very welcome.