Why I Shouldn't

Zedd shut the door behind the Margrave's Herald, absentmindedly moving the skirts of the disguise he wore out of the way. Wearing the Duchess' dress was not so very different from wizard's robes, after all. It was the undergarments that got to him.

He turned to face Cara and Richard, further instruction on how to behave in the Margrave's court on the tip of his tongue.

"It seems you have an admirer," Cara said, sultry laughter in her voice, that feral smile he had come to know lighting her features.

His stomach plummeting suddenly, Zedd met her eyes and asked, "Is there any reason why I shouldn't?"

Time stood still, and the skin on his neck crawled. Cara's shock showed on her features for a moment all too fleeting.

In reality it was only a few seconds, but those seconds were heavy with weight of the past. The first grudging show of trust. The ferocity in battle. The good natured teasing. A long fingered hand pushing a stray strand of blond hair from Cara's cheek as they stood too close. Zedd's smile to see Cara enjoying his cooking. A shared look of playful disgust over the fire, as Richard and Kahlan waxed poetic about their destined love.

Zedd and Cara would never be a great romance. Theirs would be a thing of campfire smoke and badly told jokes, irritated huffs, and unwanted advice. It would be sweat, and pine sap, and a small thing under a large sky, and yet there would be no room for it indoors.

And it would be a thing that would never be, for too many reasons to name.

How Zedd wanted Cara to declare that there wassomething wrong with him having admirers. She even considered saying it - that there were plenty of reasons why he shouldn't, the foremost being the Agiel strapped to her hip when she wasn't trussed up in a ridiculous pink gown.

But when she opened her mouth to speak, all that came out was, "I don't see any reason why not."

Zedd's heart sunk into his gut, and he nodded. Cara's heart inexplicably remembered how to break.

And then their moment was over, and time moved forward, and Richard asked them what to do next.

For a second they didn't know.