TITLE: The Day For Fathers
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
TIMELINE: 15 years after "TEARS"
STORY TYPE: Family/Humor
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1 & 2.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: ONE-SHOT; 15 years after they have sealed the rift, Richard and Kahlan enjoy a special day with their family.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this in honor of Father's Day.
The Day For Fathers
There was a loud clattering of metal, and his eyes darted open, concern immediately leaping into his chest as his heart pounded with worry. Quickly glancing over, his worry grew when he found the space next to him on the bed empty. He knew he shouldn't be concerned, they were, after all, in the Confessor's Palace, surrounded and protected by both Aydindril guards and loyal Mord'Sith alike, but she had a way of making him worried. She was stubborn, fiercely independent… never once submitting to his authority as her husband—except in bed, of course, which she gladly did… and quite often at that.
Running his fingers over the soft pillow, which still held her scent, Richard sat up and narrowed his eyes, looking for the source of the noise that woke him from his slumber. Their room was empty, saved for the children's toys scattered across the floor. Flinging the blanket off him, he grabbed for his shirt and pulled it over his head. Sitting up on the bed, he tugged his trousers up just a bit and tied the laces. After putting their youngest to bed, Kahlan had surprised him. After a long day playing with the children, he had not expected her to be so playful. He smirked to him, remembering their tussle in the sheets.
Slipping off the mattress, he nearly tripped on a little wheeled horse that he had made Simone for her birthday. Balancing himself, Richard gently placed a hand on the side of the bed. Tiptoeing around the hodgepodge that littered their floor, he grumbled to himself. Maybe Kahlan would finally relent and agree that they needed to set aside a playroom for their children. He didn't mind playing with them in here, but he was getting tired of the constant mess in their bedchambers. It made it more difficult to do certain other activities that he enjoyed doing with his beloved wife.
He spotted the letter blocks that he had carved nearly thirteen years ago, seeing them stacked high. It looked like the twins, Hailey and Jane, had been trying to build a castle for their dolls. A stack of books, some large old tomes that Zedd had provided from the Wizard's Keep, were scattered in one of the corners, denoting were Karen, their eldest had sat and buried her head in the pages. She was a smart one, and took after her mother. Near the door he spotted a tumble of stuff animals that had all been arranged in a neat little line—bound and tied with strings. Shaking his head, he wondered if it was such a good idea for little Cara to play make-believe with her godmother and namesake.
Opening the door, he stopped short and shook his head, seeing the source of the clattering metal that had woke him. A suit of armor had been knocked from its pedestal and laid in a heap on the floor. Two Mord'Sith were trying to clean it up. When he approached, they immediately stiffened and stopped what they were doing.
"Lord Rahl… we were…?" one tried to cover.
Richard held up his hand. "Let me guess… the twins," it was more of a statement of fact than a question.
The closest Mord'Sith gave a nod of her head. The other one jabbed her with the elbow and shook her head. Richard smiled softly and shook his head, knowing that the two had originally planned on covering for the two little terrors. As he left them to their duty—cleaning up the mess caused by his offspring—Richard went out in search of the two terrors. It had been more than fifteen years since he had claimed the throne of D'Hara and united it with the Midlands with his marriage to the Mother Confessor, but he would never get used to the sight of Mord'Sith cleaning up after his daughters… and caring for them. Each one of his children had a personal bodyguard, hand-picked by First Mistress Cara.
He rounded the corner and saw the aforementioned Cara, and her goddaughter, sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking out the big window that overlooked the Confessor's Garden. Richard hung back, and smiled softly as he listened to their conversation.
"I like roses, Auntie Cara," chirped up little Cara.
"Why is that, little one?" the elder Cara replied, arching an eyebrow, using her affectionate nickname for her namesake.
"Because they're red!" little Cara beamed. "They remind me of you, Auntie Cara."
Cara smirked and inclined her head. Her eyes flicked up and spotted him smiling in the shadows. Little Cara followed her godmother's eyes and beamed. "Daddy!" she squealed, wiggling up to her feet and darting over to him.
Richard bent down and swooped her up in his arms, hugging her tight as she possessively wrapped her little arms around his neck. Unlike her sisters, little Cara was fair-haired. Richard guessed it probably came from her grandfather and great-grandfather, seeing how both Panis Rahl and Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander both had had fair hair. But her eyes, her eyes were just like her mother's. Currently those blue orbs were glued on his brown eyes.
"Guess what Auntie Cara and me are going to do today?" she demanded.
"Pick flowers?" he asked, already knowing, having overheard the end of their conversation.
Little Cara bobbed her head. Richard grinned and affectionately squeezed his daughter tight. She was nearly ten, but was still small for her age, and her godmother was very protective of her.
There was a reason she was named for the Mord'Sith standing not far away. Kahlan had only been six months along, and was riding out in a carriage to visit with some local delegates in Kern, when she suddenly went into an early labor. All the officers guarding her were confused and fearful to touch a confessor in labor. So Cara, who had gone with the Mother Confessor, took change and helped Kahlan through the early birth. As soon as word reached Richard, he rode out immediately and met them at an inn. Kahlan was safe, and so was the babe. After he embraced them both, Kahlan declared that the girl would be named after the woman who helped bring her into the world. And so, little Cara was named.
"Daddy?" whispered his daughter.
"Yes, Cara?" Richard whispered back, combing his fingers through her long fair hair. It may not be the same color as her mother's, but it was just as soft and silky.
"Mommy and Karen have a surprise for you," she murmured in a soft voice. "It's supposed to be a secret."
Richard nodded. "Then I will act surprise… and I won't tell anyone you told me," he smiled and kissed her cheek as she giggled.
Setting her back down on her feet, he watched as Cara went over to her godmother and grabbed her hand. "Let's go pick some flowers, Auntie Cara," the little Cara declared.
"What kind?" Cara smirked, allowing the little one to lead her away.
Little Cara gasped and shook her head, rolling her eyes just like her namesake. "Roses, of course!"
Richard sighed contently, loving how much Cara had become a part of the family. With each everything they had gone through, she had slowly begun to lower her walls until she finally admitted she was one of them. That she was family. Raising his nose, he smelled an enticing aroma. His feet followed his nose as he traced the smell to the kitchens.
Kahlan was standing next to a cutting table, her beautiful raven black hair tied back into a loose ponytail as she and Karen, their thirteen year old daughter, worked at chopping up vegetables. Glancing up, Kahlan gave a smile.
"Richard!" she beamed. "Look who finally decided to get up."
"Well, someone kept me up late last night," he replied in a low husky voice as he gazed back at her with open desire. Kahlan's cheeks blushed bright pink, like they always did, whenever he so openly looked upon her in such a fashion.
"Um… guys, gross! I'm right here, you know," Karen butted in, giving her parents a disapproving look.
Kahlan's lips curled up into a grin and she winked at him. Richard chuckled softly and wrapped an arm affectionately around Karen's shoulder. "Good morning to you, sweetheart," he murmured into her ear and kissed the top of her head. Karen smiled brightly and eased into his hold.
"Morning, Dad," she chirped back.
"So, what are you two lovely ladies making?" he inquired, raising his eyebrows.
"A SURPRISE!" belted out a high-pitched voice.
Richard jumped, startled, and looked down to see that yet another one of their many offspring was present. Simone, who looked very much like her mother, except for the fact she had his brown eyes, was sitting on the floor near Kahlan's feet, playing with a toy doll. Crouching down, Richard tousled her dark hair and kissed her forehead.
Karen groaned. "Mother… Simone's going to ruined it!"
Richard straightened and looked at his eldest, trying to keep a straight face. He'd promised little Cara he'd keep her telling him a secret. "Not at all, sweetheart," he rubbed her shoulder. "From all I can see, you and your Mother are simply preparing something to eat."
Karen smiled. "Yes… just making something for lunch," she nodded. "That's all we're doing."
Looking over Karen's head, Richard gave Kahlan a knowing wink, telling her he knew exactly what his girls were up too. Kahlan gave him a look back, telling him that he better act surprise… or else. Running a hand down Karen's raven black hair, he kissed her temple, then leaned over and planted a quick kiss on Kahlan's lips. They would have lingered longer if Karen and Simone weren't present. Backing away, he sighed contently.
"Anyone seen Hailey and Jane?" he asked.
"Ugh!" huffed his eldest, her hazel eyes rolling. "The two terrors at it again?"
Richard chuckled and then informed them. "Apparently they've knocked over that suit of armor by our bedchambers," he directed his explanation towards Kahlan. "I caught two Mord'Sith trying to dispose of the evidence."
Kahlan laughed as Karen frowned. "Mistress Bella and Ilia coddled them too much," she groused.
"They're only six, Karen," Kahlan said, giving her daughter a stern look. "Let them have fun."
"Let them have fun," Karen repeated with a harrumph that she had learned from her mother, rolling her eyes, and making quick work of cutting up a carrot. "When I have children, they'll be disciplined and orderly, I tell you!"
"Well, hopefully that's a long ways off," Richard stepped in, giving Karen a hard look. He was hoping to wait maybe another twenty years before having grandchildren. Spirits, he'd be fine holding out forever, but that was just the protective father in him talking. He knew that all his daughters would eventually have to take mates to continue the line of confessors. He just wanted to wait a little while longer until that happened.
"What?" Karen paled, recognizing his look.
"Don't play coy with me, young lady," Richard scolded. "Don't think your old man doesn't notice how you're starting to look at the young handsome soldiers that parade outside the palace steps."
"What? No!" Karen blush bright red. "I… I… I'm not looking at them. I go out on the balcony to read in the sun! That's all."
"Sure you do," Richard inclined his head and gave his wife a knowing wink. Kahlan narrowed her eyes and frowned at him. Coughing, he pretended to stretch as he placed an arm around his daughter's shoulder. Karen gave him a worried look. "Soon… you're mother and I are going to have to have a talk with you."
Karen blushed even more. "No… that's okay," she protested feebly. She may only be thirteen, but she was old enough to know what kind of "talk" her father was referring too. Richard figured it was about time, too, because Karen was rapidly blossoming into a beautiful young woman. And she was the spitting image of her mother, which meant she was exquisitely perfect.
"DADDY!" a shrill cry called his attention, saving Karen.
Richard glanced down to see the three-year-old Simone standing on her feet, her big brown eyes looking up at him. She stuck out her lower lip and pouted, extending her arms. Chuckling, Richard bent down and scooped her up in his arms. Simone immediately giggled and squeezed her little arms around his neck, claiming him.
"All right, I guess Simone and I will go off searching for Hailey and Jane," he said, pressing a quick kiss to Kahlan's cheek. He turned and looked into the hazel eyes of his eldest. "Don't think you've escaped, yet, Karen. One way or another, we will have the talk."
He watched with satisfaction as Karen shuddered and looked towards her mother for help. Just as he was about to smile smugly with victory, Kahlan started to speak. "If anyone is going to talk to our girls about that… it will be me, not you," she declared.
Richard knitted his eyebrows together and turned to look at his wife, giving her an expression that told her that they needed to put up a united front. However, she would not back down. She crossed her arms and gave him a determined look.
"We will discuss it later, all right?" she said, making it clear that the discussion over, at least for now.
He nodded, and glanced back to Karen, who was risking a small smile of triumph. Rolling his eyes in surrender, he patted Simone on the back of the head and left the kitchens in search of the twin terrors.
Simone and him (well, really him, Simone just hugged on tight and shouted out at any Mord'Sith they passed that he belonged to her.) searched all the upstairs room, but found no sight of the two terrors. Richard furrowed his brow and decided to check the one place he knew Hailey and Jane loved to play hide and seek.
The grand hall was empty, saved for the occasional guard and Mord'Sith. Simone gripped his neck and arched her own as she gazed up in wonder at the large statues dotting the hall. "MOMMY!" she cried with glee, pointing a little finger towards the large marble statue standing in the center of the room.
"Yes, that's Mommy," Richard confirmed, stopping to admire the way the artist had captured Kahlan's beauty. He had been a little wary about allowing such a statue to be put up, mainly because he didn't like the idea of other people getting to gaze intently upon the beautiful face of his beloved. But he had relented when Kahlan had informed him that every Mother Confessor had a statue built in their honor and placed in the center of the grand hall during their reign.
"Mommy pretty," concluded Simone, bobbing her head, her dark tresses cascading down her cute face.
"Yes, Mommy is pretty," concurred Richard, before turning his head and rubbing noses with Simone. "So is Simone. Simone is very pretty."
Simone giggled and shook her head. "No… Mommy more pretty," she asserted and gave him a look that was so much like her mother's that Richard had to laugh out loud.
"What funny, Daddy?" she asked, furrowing her cute little brow.
"Oh, nothing, Simone," Richard assured her, running his fingers through her locks of dark hair. "Nothing at all." He kissed her cheek, making her giggle.
Suddenly he heard soft sounds of muttering voices. A grin tugged at the corner of his lips and he turned on his heels, catching the two terrors off guard. They jumped, startled and both squealed loudly.
"Hailey… Jane…," Richard began, intent on admonishing them for knocking over the suit of armor and then abandoning Mistress Bella and Ilia to the task of cleaning it up.
"We are sorry, Daddy," they spoke in unison, both twiddling their thumbs as they clasped their hands in front of them, looking up with big blue puppy dog eyes.
Spirits, they knew how to melt his heart, didn't they? Richard sighed in defeat and nodded his head. "Don't do it again," he sternly rebuked them.
"We won't," they chimed as one, grinning wickedly.
Richard shook his head, knowing that the moment he turned his back the two little terrors would most likely do it again and feign innocence. "You two spend two much time with your great-grandfather," he said. "Speaking of which, where is he?"
"He's with Auntie Jennsen, looking after baby," Jane said, grinning proudly that she was able to answer her father's question.
Richard smiled down at them, while rubbing the back of Simone's back. "Do you want to come with daddy and visit baby?" he asked them.
Hailey and Jane looked at each other and squealed. They jumped with joy and their long dark curls bounced around their faces. Soon they were running after their father and little Simone, who looked down at her sisters with a confused expression. They arrived at the nursery, where Richard found Zedd hunched over the crib making strange noises. Hailey and Jane ran up and jumped him from behind.
"Oof!" Zedd collapsed as his great-granddaughters tackled him. He was not as young as he used to be, spirits, Richard never even knew if Zedd had ever really been young. He had always been the crazy old man of Blackthorn Hill to him as a kid. The wizard looked over the dark-haired twin terrors and looked pleading to his grandson for help. "A little help from the Seeker, please?"
"Girls," Richard called. "Don't kill you're great-grandfather."
"We wouldn't do that, daddy," Hailey insisted.
"Yeah," Jane put in, as the two backed off. "Grampy is funny. And he helps us with our—" she stopped mid-sentence as she noticed her twin shaking her head to silence her.
"Well, help me up, won't you, girls?" Zedd huffed.
"Sure, Grampy," they both replied as one, as they helped Zedd to his knees, who then used his great-granddaughter's shoulders to help heave him up off the floor.
Jennsen had been standing back, watching the entire exchange with amusement. Richard turned to look at his red-haired sister, seeing the little fireball in her arms. "I still can't believe you named that little thing after me," Richard said, indicating the bundle in her arms.
"Tom thought it was appropriate," Jennsen said, running her fingers through the ginger hair dotting the head of her sleeping son.
Richard shook his head. "How's Arilynn doing?" he asked, turning his attention to the crib, to the latest addition to the family.
"Well, I think she must find me boring or something," Zedd said with a huff, putting his hands on his hips. "I was making all these funny noises, and all she did was fall asleep. Can you believe it? The nerve of the girl!" He moved to cross his arms. "I'll tell you, she is definitely her mother's daughter."
He smiled and rolled his eyes. "Wanna see baby?" Richard turned to three-year-old Simone. The little girl looked at him with her big dark eyes and nodded.
"See baby!" she almost shouted.
Richard grinned and rubbed his fingers through her dark hair. Holding her close, he inched closer to the crib. "Now be quiet, okay, Simone. Baby is trying to sleep."
"Yes, Daddy," Simone nodded vigorously.
Hailey and Jane crowded around his feet and gripped the edges of the crib to look over the railing. Arilynn had his nose and Kahlan's brow. Her chin… well, she must have gotten if from Zedd (poor girl). She still had a mass of thick dark hair on her head and though her eyelids were closed, they were as bright and blue as her mother's. Richard smiled at that. He didn't mind in the least that most of his daughter's had Kahlan's eyes. He had nothing against it. Simone was the only one to inherit his dark brown eyes and Karen had hazel eyes, just like her great-grandfather.
"Where's Cara?" Zedd inquired.
"Which one?" Richard questioned back.
"Good point," the wizard inclined his head. "But if I was a betting man, which I'm not…" he looked down at his great-granddaughters. "Gambling is bad!"
"Yes, Grampy," chimed Hailey and Jane in unison, both giving him secret winks that Richard caught. He ignored them and turned back to Zedd as he continued.
"As I was saying," the wizard grumbled, looking back up to his grandson. "Both Caras, wherever they might be, are probably together."
"Well, last time I checked, they were going to go down to the garden to pick flowers," Richard said.
He noticed Zedd try and hold back a laugh. "Sorry," he smirked. "I'm just trying to picture that Mord'Sith picking flowers."
A wicked thought crossed Richard's mind and he smiled broadly. "Why imagine, when we can see with our own eyes." He turned down and looked at the twins, but made sure to include Simone in the discussion as well. "You girls want to go outside and pick flowers with Cara and Auntie Cara."
Hailey and Jane's eyes went wide at the same time and the two nodded. "Yes, Daddy!" Hailey said. "Oh, please, yes!" squealed Jane.
The three-year-old was still staring down at sleeping Arilynn. "Baby come?" Simone asked, looking back up at him.
"No, baby is still sleeping," Richard informed her. "Auntie Jennsen and your cousin Richie will be with her."
Simone looked up at the red-haired woman she knew as her Auntie Jennsen, who nodded in confirmation. Richard watched as his daughter narrowed her eyes in thought. Her cute little nose wrinkled and she looked very much like Kahlan at the moment that Richard just had to beam at her and kiss her brow. Blinking, Simone looked up at him with big brown eyes. "Okay… I wanna see flowers," she then pouted. "But kiss baby goodbye?"
"Sure," Richard said, and knelt down by the crib, holding Simone over the edge. The little girl bent down and planted a soft kiss on Arilynn's forehead. The baby stirred and shifted, mewling softly, before going back to sleep.
Simone shifted back into his hold and looked over at Richie, who had woke and seen his cousins. Simone gave him a smile and gestured towards him. Richard obliged and took his daughter over as Zedd corralled the twin terrors. Once in reach, Simone stretched out her arms and gave Richie an awkward hug. The one year old looked startled, even more when Simone then planted a kiss on his cheek.
Jennsen laughed softly and ran her fingers through Richie's ginger hair as he turned his head up to look at his mother, his brow furrowed in confusion.
After kissing his sister on the cheek, Richard and the others made their way outside to join both Caras in the garden. The Mord'Sith was not hard to spot. As soon as they saw her, Hailey and Jane darted off at full speed. Richard had to call after them to be careful, but as usual, they ignored him. When they got closer, Richard let Simone down, and she scampered off after her older sisters.
Zedd made the mistake of laughing as Cara bent down to pluck a rose. The Mord'Sith shot him a deadly glare and threatened him with an agiel. Little Cara mimicked her godmother, but with a twig. After Zedd backed down, he turned to Richard with a grave look. "Spirits help the poor soul who marries that one," he said, gesturing to the older Cara.
Richard inclined his head. "I think she's started seeing one of the generals in the D'Haran army," was his answer. "Apparently they had had a very physical relationship during the latter half of the civil war in D'Hara, but then she ended it afterwards, when Kahlan got pregnant with Karen."
The wizard nodded. "She wanted to be able to protect you… all of you," he inclined his head, his eyes glazing over with the memory of those days after the rift had been sealed and the struggle against Rahl in D'Hara for the throne had begun. The civil war had lasted two years, but it had been brutal. They had to fight for every square inch of D'Hara, thanks in large part to Rahl having the aide of Sister Nicci. But, with the aide of Cara, Richard was able to turn the Mord'Sith to his side and victory was achieved.
"Well, apparently, this new general was selected to replace General Haas, and when he arrived, and introduced himself I noticed this little eye exchanged between the two of them," Richard said. He sighed. "Cara's been holding back her own life for us. And honestly, I think it's about time she starts living for herself, and makes a family of her own."
"But she has, my boy," Zedd replied, gesturing out to the sight before them. The Mord'Sith before them was no longer the stiff, socially awkward woman she had been when she had joined their little family. She was laughing and having fun with the little Cypher-Amnells. Not to mention her close bond with little Cara. Richard chuckled and nodded, conceding his grandfather's point.
They spent the better part of the afternoon in the gardens. Zedd had to take a nap during one part, which the twin terrors coaxed Simone into helping them disrupt. When Cara had to go about her duties, Richard spent some time laying in the grass with little Cara lying next to him, telling her about the time he met her mother, which was her favorite story.
"So there I was, eating an apple, minding my own business, when suddenly I heard a noise," he said, waving his hands in the air and making a funny noise, coaxing a giggle out of his fair-haired daughter.
"What was it, Daddy?" Cara asked, even though she already knew the answer.
"Well," he turned onto his side to look into his daughter's brilliant blue eyes, so much like her mother's. "I saw this exquisite woman, breathlessly beautiful. She had this flowing white dress and gorgeous dark hair that ran all the way down her back."
"Oh…" Cara obligingly said in awe. "I bet she was a princess!"
"Nope," Richard shook his head, grinning. "She was a confessor… just like you." He ran his fingers up her chin and tapped her nose before kissing it. Cara squealed and smiled. "She had brilliant blue eyes."
"Just like me!" his daughter squealed.
"Yes, just like you," Richard winked.
"What was her name?" Cara inquired, grinning at him as she played along. Though she kept a look out for his fingers, knowing that very soon was the part in the tale when her father would try and tickle her.
"Kahlan Amnell," came an exquisite voice, answering little Cara's question.
Richard popped his head up and smiled, seeing the object of his affection. Kahlan grinned brightly at him. Little Arilynn had woken and was currently residing in her mother's arms. Her little blue eyes were looking all over the place, fascinated by everything.
"Mommy!" Cara squealed, jumping up and pranced across the grass towards her mother.
"My little Cara," Kahlan beamed as the little girl buried her head in her legs as she hugged onto her. Richard shifted onto his knees and heaved himself up off the grass.
"So, are my two lovely ladies finished with whatever they were doing in the kitchens?" Richard asked knowingly, watching as Kahlan smiled and nodded.
Stepping over to her, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, little Cara looking up from between them. He leaned down and gave her a slow kiss, earning an "Eww!" from the peanut gallery across the way with Zedd. Richard smirked and backed out of the kiss glancing over at the twins, who were covering their eyes. Simone was looking at them with a confused expression. Cara was the only one completely unfazed. Her smile just grew wider.
Turning, Richard looked down at Arilynn, who looked up at him with curious blue eyes. "Why hello there, precious one," he whispered and kissed her forehead. "Want to play bouncy time?" The little baby smiled and gurgled happily.
"Be careful, Richard," Kahlan warned in a soft voice. "I just fed her. Remember what happened with Simone."
"What happened with Simone?" Cara piped up, looking highly interested. Richard grinned and gave Kahlan a look to say, thanks for bringing that up again, now I've got to explain it.
Kneeling, he placed his hands on Cara's shoulders and brushed her blonde hair away from her dirty face. He made a note that she was going to have to bathe before supper. "Well, you see, when Simone was a newborn, like Arilynn," Richard begun, inwardly hitting himself over his own stupidity. Spirits, he should have known better, especially after successfully surviving Karen, the two twin terrors, and little Cara.
"Yes?" coaxed his daughter, glancing up at her mother and grinning wickedly.
"Oh come on, you two are playing me," Richard groaned, looking back and forth between the two. "You've told her this story haven't you, Kahlan?"
"A mother and daughter's private conversations are just that, my husband," Kahlan grinned mischievously. "Private."
Richard lowered his brow and grumbled.
"Well, Daddy?" Cara asked. "You going to tell me, or should I finish the story?"
"You know what? I feel ganged up here," Richard asserted.
"You know, Daddy," Cara's little hands played with his tooth pendant. "I have ways of making you talk. Auntie Cara's taught me a thing or two."
Richard rolled his eyes. "When will I learn," he mumbled, with a shake of his head. "I can never get away with anything with my girls."
Cara grinned triumphantly.
"Okay," Richard sighed, admitting defeat. "Mommy had just finished feeding Simone. Now remember… I was unaware of this. So when Mommy went to have a meeting with the Midlands Council, I went to play with Simone. Little did I know... she had a surprise waiting for me." He paused and sucked in a breath. "So I was bouncing her on my knee, like I used to do with you, remember?"
Cara nodded. "Giddy up, horsy!" she replied on cue.
"Yep, that's it," Richard nodded. "Though, at the time, it had not been wise for me to bounce baby."
"Because baby then threw up on me."
Cara giggled and smirked in a very older Cara kind of way. Richard sighed. Yes, she was definitely spending too much time around her godmother!
"Mom, Dad!" came Karen's voice. Richard looked over Cara's shoulder and saw her. For a moment his breath caught in his throat. He was struck with how much like her mother she looked. He nodded to himself, deciding that he was going to tell Kahlan that she was going to have to have "the talk" with Karen sooner rather than later.
Kahlan looked over her shoulder, and smiled upon seeing her oldest daughter. "Is it ready?" she inquired softly.
Karen smiled back and nodded.
"When I agreed to this, I was unaware that I was going to be blindfolded," Richard protested as Karen led him down what he believed was a hall.
"Suck it up, Seeker!" Karen retorted, sounding exactly like her mother.
Richard frowned, hearing Kahlan snicker, along with his other daughters, except Simone and Arilynn, who were too young to understand. He groaned and submitted to his girls. They were his life, his world, and he wouldn't change a thing about them. He felt little Cara reach up and grab his free hand. He squeezed it back when she squeezed.
"Are we there yet?" Richard asked, mimicking the twins's favorite phrase when they went on holiday, which heard him a giggle from the two. Jane was the louder of the two.
"Hey," Kahlan reproached them. "I thought we weren't going to encourage him."
"We can't help it if Daddy's silly when he's blindfolded," Hailey and Jane replied in unison. Always twins. They did almost everything together, though Zedd could always be found not far behind, especially when they were pulling off some prank on the palace staff or Mord'Sith—especially the Mord'Sith.
"Don't worry, Daddy," Cara piped up. "We're almost there."
Richard heard Karen huff in frustration. "Of course Cara would be the first to give in," she grumbled.
"Now Karen," Richard began, intent on admonishing his eldest for speaking like that about her sister, but was interrupted when he caught the scent of a wonderful aroma.
"WE HERE!" screamed Simone.
"Simone… Hailey, Jane… wait! What? Not you too, Zedd!" Kahlan called out, but it was obviously too late, because Richard suddenly heard the clattering of plates and silverware on the floor.
"Grampy's fault!" he heard the twin terrors quickly pronounce. Simone laughed loudly as Zedd babbled out apologies.
Kahlan groaned. "All right, I guess you can removed the blindfold now, Richard."
Karen helped him and when the cloth was removed, Richard blinked and looked out over their private family dining hall. The table was filled with sumptuous meats and fruits, breads and cheeses. A large bowl was in the center of the table, obviously the centerpiece of the entire meal. The room had also been decorated with drawings. He recognized the skills of his daughters in them. There was even some by Simone.
"What's this?" he asked, looking to Kahlan.
She smiled and shook her head. "This wasn't my idea," she gestured towards Karen.
Richard turned to his oldest. She promptly blushed, always embarrassed about praise. "Well," she shyly averted her eyes. "I was reading some of the old books that great-grandfather let me borrow, and I found this passage that talked of an old holiday in which we give thanks and pay honor to our fathers." Karen swallowed and looked back up at him. "So… I talked to mother about it, and she thought it was a brilliant idea that we start it up again."
"My little scholar," Richard grinned and pulled his worried looking daughter into a hug. She immediately relaxed and returned his embrace. Leaning back, he brushed her dark hair away from her face and kissed her forehead. "My brilliant scholar! I love you, Karen."
Karen beamed. "I love you, too, Dad."
"So, what's that delicious smell?" he inquired, wrapping and arm around his daughter's middle and holding her close as she guided him to the head of the table.
"Well, the others, Cara, Hailey, Jane, and even Simone, drew the pictures and helped make the decorations," Karen informed him. "But I wanted to do something more. So… Mom showed me how to make spice soup."
Richard grinned, having recognized what the two had been up to in the kitchen. Looking over at the large bowl and seeing its contents, he smiled even more. "Well, it looks delicious, sweetheart," he murmured into her hear and kissed her head through her long tresses.
Karen beamed all the more, and planted him at the head of the table. Simone climbed up into his lap, while Cara squeezed her way onto the arm of the chair. The twin terrors thought about maybe trying to push their way into making Simone give up some space, but then decided to just sit at the table. Kahlan set Arilynn down in the well-used high chair that Richard had made nine years ago. It had lasted much longer than he had suspected, especially since it survived the twin terrors, who had taken turns using it.
Kahlan and Karen worked at dishing out the food as Cara and Simone entertained their father. Zedd planted himself between Hailey and Jane, receiving a grateful nod from Kahlan. The twins arched their necks to look around their great-grandfather and grinned wickedly at each other, silently plotting some prank or scheme to pull off on Mistress Bella and Ilia. Part of Richard felt sorry for the two Mord'Sith, but only part of him. He had to put up with a lot from the twin terrors, so he didn't mind spreading the wealth, as it were.
Eventually Kahlan told Cara and Simone to get off their father and take their seats. They grudgingly obliged. Cara arched up and kissed his cheek before jumping off the arm of the chair and helping Simone wiggled down. Cara gripped Simone's hand and led her over to their chairs. Kahlan stopped distributing the food for a moment to help Simone up into her chair. Blinking, Richard turned right to see Karen place the largest helping of the spice soup in front of him. He smiled up at her and she leaned down and kissed his cheek.
"Happy Father's Day, Dad," she murmured.
Richard beamed, and pulled her down in his lap, like she was still a little girl. She protested and blushed as he hugged her and kissed the top of her head. "Thank you, so much, Karen," he whispered softly. "You'll always be my little princess."
Karen blushed and hugged him back, before squirming out of his hold. He smiled up at her and his heart hammered with pride at what a gracious and kind woman his daughter was becoming. Taking a breath, Richard glanced around the table at all his girls, admitting that he liked this idea of a Father's Day. After all, Kahlan had Mother's Day. Catching a knowing look from his wife, he winked. And she winked back.
Karen took her seat and raised a glass. "To our father, Richard Cypher, Seeker of Truth and Master of D'Hara, we love you so much!"
Richard raised his glass and inclined his head towards his eldest.
"Can we eat now?" blurted out Hailey.
"Yeah, I'm starving!" insisted Jane.
Kahlan shook her head and rolled her eyes. Richard smiled at her and reached over to pat her hand. She immediately grabbed his hand and intertwined her fingers with his.
"Well?" Jane hollered at them. "Can we eat?"
"I'm with Jane," Zedd nodded. "Can we eat now?"
"Yeah," Hailey shouted out. "You all know how grumpy Grampy gets without his supper!"
"Yes, yes," Richard nodded, smiling at his family. "Let the feast begin!"
"Feast!" Zedd raised his bushy eyebrows and looked towards Karen. "How much food did you make, dear one?"
Karen balked for a moment as she stared at her great-grandfather. "Not enough to feed you, apparently," she commented under her breath as they all began to partake of their supper.
Richard dipped the spoon into the spice soup and brought it up to his mouth. He paused and inhaled the rich aroma. Parting his lips, he tasted his daughter's creation. A warm feeling filled his chest as he savored the flavor and spices. Swallowing, he looked across the table to a nervous looking Karen.
"It's delicious, Karen," Richard informed her. "You did a brilliant job."
Karen smiled and visibly sighed with relief, relaxing and started to enjoy her meal.
Zedd nodded vigorously. "I'll say, dear one," he concurred. "It's as good as toasted toads!"
"Eww!" the twins exclaimed in unison before bursting out into laughter as the wizard leaned over, already serving himself a second helping. He grinned down at his great-granddaughters and winked.
Little Cara shook her head and rolled her eyes like her godmother. Simone looked on, confused. And Karen just shook her head, looking the spitting image of her mother. Arilynn gurgled out happily and hit her tiny spoon against the tray attached to her high chair.
Richard smiled happily and refilled his spoon, dancing his eyes across the sight of his family. He ended on Kahlan, his beautiful, exquisite wife, who always seemed to have a radiant glow about her. But tonight, she looked exceptionally radiant. Locking eyes with her, he silently asked a question. Kahlan batted her eyelashes together and reached across the table for his hand. Biting her lower lip and blushing ever so slightly, she gave a tiny nod in the affirmative.
His grin grew wider, and he raised her hand up to his lips and kissed it, loving every hour, every minute, and every second of the life that he and Kahlan had built together. Today was, indeed, a good day to be a father.