TITLE: Unintended Consequences
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
CHARACTERS: Richard/Kahlan
RATING: T... for now.
STORY TYPE: Angst/Romance
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1 & 2.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: Kahlan relented to her duties and returned to Aydindril after the events of MARKED 2x01 . Richard and Kahlan reunite five months later, but things have changed that may destroy their love. And the Seeker's quest may not be over. (Goes AU from MARKED)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story goes AU from MARKED onwards. This one will have shorter chapters (roughly around 1000 words), so I can hopefully update quicker. For those reading THE CHIMES TOLL A FIRESTORM, don't worry, I'll still working on that one. This is just to keep me fresh, so I don't grow bored.

Chapter 1 – A Difficult Reunion

It had been the most difficult thing she had ever done… leaving him, that is. But she had no choice, and he had insisted. She could never refuse him, not when he looked at her with those big warm brown eyes, pleading with her to do as he told her. So, Kahlan did what was expected of her, she returned to Aydindril and did her duty as the Mother Confessor of the Midlands. She helped restore the peace as Richard and Zedd, along with Cara the Mord'Sith, went out searching for the Stone of Tears to seal the rift and stop the Keeper of the Underworld.

All the while, Kahlan sat in Aydindril and read reports, desperate for any news about Richard. He had been out there fighting banelings, screelings, and spirits know what else. Sometimes, alone at night, Kahlan would cry herself to sleep worrying about him. She hated being stuck in Aydindril, feeling useless, but there was nothing she could do. He was the Seeker and she… she was his Confessor. And she loved him. Kahlan would do whatever he said. She would obey his commands to her dying breath.

Zedd had predicted a long hunt, knowing that it was near impossible to find something as rare as the Stone of Tears, but that is not what had happened. Apparently, without her around to distract him from his quest, the Seeker located the Stone of Tears and sealed the rift in just five months. Kahlan had a sinking feeling that if she had been with him it would have taken longer. But now it was all over. The balance between the world of the living and the world of the dead had been restored and the Seeker was on his way to his Confessor.

The news of his return had sent waves of jubilation through the citizens of Aydindril. The Seeker was not just the man who had sealed the rift and saved them all from the cold embrace of the Keeper, but had also defeated Darken Rahl and had freed the Midlands from his iron fist. Kahlan tried to join in on the cheer, but she found it difficult. She had received word that before they had managed to defeat Rahl, the fiend had sent his most loyal Mord'Sith out to Valeria, where in a botched attempt to kidnap Dennee's son, they had killed them all: Her sister, her nephew, and her sister's mate.

Kahlan was alone. She was the last confessor. There was no one else to continue the line, only her. And it pained her to know that Richard could never be the man the seeded her womb. To even attempt it would risk confessing him, and that was not a risk she was willing to take. Though she cried over her sister's loss, she wept more from the knowledge that she could never be with Richard as a wife was with a husband. That was more terrible than anything, knowing that she could never give herself to the man she loved.

Presently, she stood on the balcony looking out at the city below, watching as an impromptu procession formed around the Seeker and his party. Despite their distance, Kahlan could clearly see Richard, the brilliance of the Sword of Truth hard to miss as it glimmered in the afternoon sunlight. Beside him, tall and scrawny, despite the fact that he ate like a pig, was the First Wizard himself, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, the closest Kahlan had ever had to a grandfather like figure. And then there was Cara. She stood out like a sore thumb in her red leather, and Kahlan felt her face flush with jealousy as she noticed how close the Mord'Sith rode to Richard.

Kahlan would never have admitted it aloud, but that had been one of her greatest fears the moment she had left their group. She was afraid that, without her there to be on guard, Richard would succumb to the blatant seductiveness of the Mord'Sith. She had seen the way Cara looked at Richard and it caused her much grief to think of them alone together without Zedd as a chaperone. Sure, the wizard had been on his the tips of his toes with her and Richard, but Kahlan was not sure how he might have been with Cara. With the Mord'Sith there was no risk that Richard's soul would be lost in confession. Lost in lust, maybe, but not confession.

She closed her eyes and tried to purge the images of Richard making love to Cara from her mind. They were just fears. She knew Richard loved her… but he was only a man. And men had urges. She knew it had been difficult for him burying his feelings for her, but they had had an understanding. When she had last seen him, Richard had took her hand in his and kissed it, swearing to return to her and find a way to love and be with her. However, things had changed since then. And they were things she did not care to think about. She only wished that he would still love her. That he would still burn with desire for her when he found out.

Biting her lower lips and furrowing her brow in worry, Kahlan turned from the view and went into her chambers to change into the long white robes she had taken to wearing. She walked down the hallways, looking at the portraits and tapestries that adorned their walls, making her feet move, yet not really there. Kahlan reached the foyer and stood in the center of the marble columns that surrounded her and waited.

The doors opened and the clamor of cheers and applause drifted through the rafters, echoing around her. Kahlan felt small and insignificant surrounded by the massive marble statuary of the ancient confessors. She was nothing compared to them. She was weak and powerless. Nothing more than a coward. Magda Searus, the first Mother Confessor, had found a way to be with the man she loved—the Wizard Merrit, the man who had turned her into a confessor. But Kahlan, no, she had been too stupid and dim to discover that wondrous truth.

Blinking her eyes to hold back her tears, Kahlan looked up to see Richard stepping through the door, surrounded by light. Spirits, he looked like an avenging demigod coming to punish her for her cowardice, because in truth, that's how she felt. She felt like a coward that she had not stood up to them and had instead relented to their demands. Flanking him, on either side, were Zedd and Cara. The old wizard grinned broadly and rushed to give her a big grandfatherly hug.

"It is good to see you, dear one," he smiled, wrapping his long arms around her. As he pulled her tight, he frowned, knitting his eyebrows together. Kahlan could tell from his expression that he knew, but thankfully he kept silent.

When he stood back, he looked down at her and gave an understanding nod, knowing that she had little choice. Richard was standing back, watching, oblivious to her inner grief, she hid it well behind her confessor's face. Kahlan looked up at him, wishing that nothing had changed, that he would simply rush to her and pull her into his arms, kissing her and declaring his undying and unending love. But he did not. They had not parted on the best of terms, but they had stilled said those three words: I love you.

Shifting her focus, Kahlan turned to the Mord'Sith and nodded. "Thank you for protecting the Seeker, Cara," she said. "I had my doubts, but you seem to have surpassed my expectations."

Cara gave a slight nod to acknowledge the compliment and pursed her lips. Spirits, Kahlan thought, she knows! Taking a deep breath, she finally turned to Richard, again, wishing things could be different.

"Richard," Kahlan spoke, hating how weak her voice sounded.

"Kahlan," he replied, looking at her with his big warm brown eyes. She lost her breath, seeing the love still reflecting back. He averted his eyes and raked his hands through his hair. "It… it's good to see—"

Kahlan stepped forward, wanting to embrace him, but as she did, her robes parted and revealed the secret she had been trying to hide. Richard's eyebrows rose, and his eyes grew wide and watery. He backed away, stumbling, staring in dismay at her swollen belly.