Full version of this chapter is available on LJ and AO3. Also finally edited PDF downloads of my three LotS epics are now available on LJ.
Darken Rahl sat on his devotional balcony, watching the National Festival play out before him.
He was bored.
He should have had his double, Walter, attend in his stead.
Egremont watched his lord from the corner of his eye, gauging his mood, and then looked across the balcony to Mistress Cara. She dipped her chin in a minute movement to signal she understood, and then was gone, her boots echoing against the marble of the floor.
"And now my lord, we should like to present you with gifts, in thanks to the royal line that has made our nation so great," Egremont beckoned and a line of nobles stepped forward, one by one kissing Lord Rahl's signet ring and placing a gift at his feet.
The more mundane gifts were presented first – furs, fine silks, gold and jewels, weapons made especially for the hand of the Lord Rahl. Darken received them all with the disinterested grace of a man who was used to such things.
And then Cara entered, and with her came the more exotic gifts. Each tied to a silken rope and led by one of his Mord'Sith, a line of buxom women made their way to his throne, then spread out at the direction of their handlers so that he could inspect them.
Darken rose, moving along the line, his red velvet robe trailing behind him. Cara smirked saucily, and his lips twitched at the expression. She felt she had a particularly nice treat for him, then. Refusing to do as she wanted too soon, Darken took his time over the other women, paying particular attention to a blonde who stood like she knew how to please a man.
She was dressed in finery he had provided, decked out in jewels, though tastefully so, her hair piled on top of her head. Darken did not care for such frilly things often, but he found a tumble or two with such a creature on occasions such as this could be rather diverting.
Cara cleared her throat. Suppressing a snort of amusement, Darken cut his gaze to her, and then approached.
Kahlan had expected Darken Rahl to be many things. She had expected power. She had expected cruelty. She had even expected charisma.
She had not expected him to be handsome.
Yes, of course she had heard the tales of his exploits, both magical and sexual. Yes, she had seen the drawings of him that were sold by street vendors. But she had expected that to be part of the legend, the lies, the carefully controlled image he portrayed to the world.
It was not.
His hair was as black as her own, his eyes a magnetic blue, and he moved with a feline grace that was as dangerous as it was intoxicating.
Perhaps it was appealing because of the edge of danger.
"Cara," he addressed the Mord'Sith that held Kahlan's velvet rope, his voice a deep caress that made a small dark part of Kahlan whisper that soon it would be only her name that he would say that way.
It was a dark, bright flame in her chest. Kahlan brutally quashed it.
"You have done well," Darken Rahl was saying, trailing one finger along Kahlan's breast as he walked around her to openly stare at her backside. She flushed and didn't know why.
Darken Rahl came around to face her once more, fingers against his lips. "She does look good in green," he continued to talk to Cara as if Kahlan wasn't there, or was some sort of pet that could not understand them, "but with that hair, and these lips," he ran his fingers over them, making Kahlan draw in a quick, surprised breath, "I think she would look better in red."
Darken Rahl took the end of Kahlan's silk leash from Cara, tugging on it with a wry twist to his lips. "Come along….?"
It took several long seconds for Kahlan to realize he wanted to know her name. She had to swallow twice before she could speak.
"Come, Kahlan," he smiled edgily, making Kahlan's insides squirm with things both pleasant and terrible.
Kahlan went, following docilely behind him.
When she turned back for one last look at the other women, Salindra winked at her.
Kahlan stood awkwardly in Lord Rahl's – no, Darken Rahl's – bedchamber. He moved to a low table set with fruit and wine, pouring two glasses. She stood frozen in the moment.
Confess him as soon as you are alone, the Mother Confessor had told her, and she had agreed. No matter how charming he is, remember the deeds he has done, the lives he has destroyed.
Remember that evil can be beautiful, too.
She should do it now, and then bed him, try to conceive an heir that would solidify her hold on the throne even before she commanded him to marry her. She should walk up to him, hand outstretched, and take his throat in her fingers as she dropped the hold she always kept on the power that slumbered within.
She should make him beg to be allowed to touch her, in revenge for all the havoc he'd wrought, the humiliation she had suffered to make it to this moment, the damage done to her people.
"Are you going to stand there in the door, or are you coming in?" his voice jarred her out of her thoughts.
She stepped further into the room, walking towards him with a sinking feeling of destiny. He handed her a glass of wine, and she took it, jumping when their fingers brushed.
Darken Rahl raised a brow.
"I'm not used to men touching me," she said, wondering why she bothered to explain.
He turned his back to her, then sprawled on the massive bed that dominated the room. "If you do not wish to be here, you are free to leave," he said to her surprise. "There are too many women willing to come to my bed for me to bother with forcing those who are not."
There was a lie somewhere in that statement, but Kahlan could not pin down what it was, though she could see the split second his awareness fell away, as if he was remembering something that happened long ago.
"I'm willing. I chose this," she told him as she sank onto the bed next to him, unsure what else to do, but knowing she did not want to confess him yet.
He sat up, setting his wine glass aside, saying, "Then come to me, Kahlan."
And he said her name the way he had said Cara's, a caress down her spine, a tingle in her loins.
Working girls stop being embarrassed by sex, or they stop being working girls.
Was it so wrong to want a man's touch, to want him to kiss and lick, and yes, make love to her without being compelled to by magic? Could it hurt to let him, to tease him?
Did it matter that it was Darken Rahl, so long as she completed her mission in the end?
Did she care anymore?
She was giving her life, her dreams, her hopes to the people.
This she would take for herself.
Kahlan knelt atop Darken Rahl, looking down at him, at the way his black hair fanned out on the pillow. Her voluminous skirts hindered her movement, but she pulled at the jewel studded sash that held his robes closed, gaping as he pulled sculpted arms from the sleeves.
"Darken," she moaned, hands in his hair, and had a moment to wonder when she had begun using his first name. But then she refused to call him 'lord' and the urgency of the moment did not give her time to consider what one calls the arch nemesis you are about to enslave forever.
Darken whispered reassurances into her breasts, into her neck, trailing biting kisses along her flesh. He would not hurt her, he would bring her only pleasure this night. Kahlan laid there and heard only the truth of his words. She squirmed under him, finding her voice to demand he kiss her.
He laughed, and indulged her, and his mustache tickled. It shocked a laugh from her, a strange bubble of joy amidst the shards of her shattered life. How strange and unexpected that Darken Rahl's mustache would tickle when you kissed him.
She opened her arms to him, demanding things, asking for things that she later could not or would not remember, and he smirked and fulfilled her wishes, seeming to find it amusing when she was in fact there to service him.
And yet, very few made demands of Darken Rahl, in the bedroom or otherwise. He was always praised, so much so that he oft did not know what was real. But this concubine, this Kahlan, she demanded, and panted, and wanted with a veracity that drove his lust to new heights.
"Could you love me? Do you love me?" she hissed in his ear, wanted to know.
"Yes," he answered smoothly, his chest gleaming with sweat. "I would make you my queen," he whispered to her over the sound of flesh hitting flesh, voice rough with sex.
He was telling the truth, but he did not yet know it.
In moments, or years, Kahlan came undone, turned inside out, saw spots before her eyes before they swirled black, the release of her power triggering another climax.
She never told anyone how good confession felt. She was afraid she was the only one.
Above her, Darken's eyes flooded black as he too spasmed with release, then came to rest with a look of bliss.
"Command me, Confessor," he whispered into her hair.
"Get off of me."
He did, rolling to the side and then gazing upon her with a look of such tender love that it broke Kahlan's heart.
"Mistress," Darken touched her back, concerned, then gathered her into his arms, pillowing her head on his chest, "you're crying."
"Call me 'Kahlan' when we are alone, and 'my lady wife' when in public," she ordered as her face paint ran with the salt of tears and sweat.
"You wish to wed me?" he asked, a grin of pure happiness stretching his lips wide.
"Yes. You will announce it tomorrow, that you are taking me as your queen. Will that make you happy, Darken?"
Darken's heart fluttered when Kahlan said his name. "It will make me the happiest man who has ever lived. I love you."
Kahlan nodded against his chest, her tears unabated. It was all so wrong and right at once, she didn't know where to begin.
"The other women that were brought to you tonight? I want them. They are mine."
"They are yours. Anything you ask of me is yours."
Kahlan was silent so long, Darken thought she had fallen asleep. He strove to breathe shallowly, so the movements of his chest wouldn't wake her.
"Darken… tell me what we are, because I don't know."
He kissed her forehead, gently pushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear, "We are in love, we are the Lord and Lady Rahl, we will soon be husband and wife."
Feeling more tears she refused to shed waiting at the edge of her eyes, Kahlan replied, "For all that we have, and all that we are, I wish we weren't."
No easy hopes or lies shall bring us to our goal, but iron sacrifice of body, will, and soul.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave me a review, con-crit (as in you tell me how I can make something better, not just that you don't like it) welcome! I may write a sequel and/or continue this if it's well received. ^_^