Title: The Denna Dilemma
Characters/Pairing: Zedd/Denna, Richard/Kahlan, Kahlan/Cara (also implied Cara/Leo, Cara/Dahlia, and past Darken/Cara and Darken/Denna)
Spoilers: heavily for all of season 2, particularly post Light
Beta: brontefanatic, with my heartfelt gratitude. All remaining mistakes are my own.
Summary: My answer to the discussion question on peoplespalace: What if Denna joined the Merry Band at the end of Light?

"You really think I could be a better person?"

Although Zedd had not hesitated, at agiel-point, to assure Denna she had all his confidence, he was starting to regret that Kahlan had supported his decision.

"What would Richard do?" she'd asked simply.

Cara had actually turned away in order to roll her eyes, and added in an annoyed hair toss, which was a sure sign that she was either deeply upset or angry.

And now the four of them were seated around the fire, Kahlan and Cara pointedly ignoring Denna and talking in low voices, and Denna with her arms crossed, sulking because Cara had taken her white agiel, where it now contrasted oddly with her red leathers in a holster at her calf.

Zedd didn't feel up to inaugurating further conversation with Denna, after his desperate attempts over the past several days to convince her to give up her evil ways and join the cause of good, so he just watched her.

She sat very straight, her hair hanging in a tangled blonde mess down her back, and her hands on her knees. Without her Mord'Sith leathers, Denna looked vulnerable and heartbreakingly young.

"So…you aren't just wandering the Midlands nearly getting killed for the fun of it," Denna said at last. "Cara told me Richard is the true Lord Rahl, but I know he's done nothing to claim the throne."

"We're looking for the Stone of Tears," Zedd told her, reflecting that surely that at least was common knowledge, since Flynn knew the whole story, and a more unreliable person would be hard to find. And then, too, Denna must have heard at least half a dozen garbled versions of the peril in which the world now stood from her contacts in the D'Haran Army. Would General Grix have guessed why Richard traveled the Midlands instead of claiming the throne of D'Hara? Would he have cared?

Zedd tried to show Denna there was more to be concerned with than the D'Haran succession: "The Veil to the Underworld has been torn, and unless we succeed all life will perish and the Land of the Living will belong to the Keeper forever."

Denna gave Zedd a sharp look. "I see," was all she said.

Zedd could only hope he had impressed her with the gravity of their mission, and that she would at least refrain from sabotaging it further…she was dangerous, but their time together had certainly shown him she had a zest for life.

Kahlan had gotten out of the habit of sleeping with her daggers under her pillow, when she decided to trust Cara.

There had followed several nights during which she slept poorly, sure Cara would kill them all as soon as she had the chance.

But when Denna brought Dennee back from the dead to be revenged on Cara, Kahlan's relief at having her sister returned to her had made it easy to defend Cara from Dennee's wrath.

Now she need not feel guilty for trusting and liking Cara, because Dennee was safe.

And yet it was Denna who had returned Kahlan's sister to her. It confused Kahlan to feel gratitude to the woman who had almost taken Richard from her, twice.

And she knew better than to assume Denna had any other motive but her own advancement. She would turn on them all as soon as she saw the opportunity.

Denna was surely a new dilemma.

"You can't be serious!" Cara had protested, her low voice venomous. "Her?"

"It's no different than when Richard trusted you," Kahlan had maintained, trying not to let Denna overhear their dispute. "Cara, what happened to you when you were a girl…Denna must have gone through something similar. How can I not give her the same opportunity I gave you to show she's changed her ways?"

"She is nothing like me." Cara spoke through gritted teeth. "Richard and I…shared an experience that…we spent weeks in that desolate reality—! Denna killed Richard, or don't you remember—?"

Kahlan did remember, and her lips tightened at the reminder. But having spared Denna's life, how could she turn around and kill her now? Richard would disapprove.

Still, if—or when—Denna betrayed Zedd's faith in her, Kahlan would not hesitate to strike.

That night she slept with the sheathed Sword of Truth in her arms, thinking of Richard.

He was at the Palace of the Prophets, learning to become a Wizard. Kahlan herself had told him to go with Sister Verna, but now that Zedd was with them again, she wished Richard had waited. Surely his grandfather, a Wizard of the First Order himself, could have taught Richard how to control his Han.

Kahlan could not let herself miss Richard, or she would start to cry and never stop.

"How am I supposed to fight?" Denna asked bitterly.

Cara had tied her hands together, and she still had Denna's agiel.

"I'm sure you'll manage," Cara said sardonically.

She was taking no chances that Denna would escape. If Kahlan wouldn't allow her to kill Denna, the next best option was keeping her under constant surveillance.

The new Seeker, Leo Dane, proved an unexpected distraction, however.

"Why are that woman's hands tied?" he asked, after Zedd had named him Seeker and they'd set off following the compass. He nodded at Denna, who was walking with Zedd.

Kahlan, Cara noted, was walking alone. She was taking Richard's absence hard.

"She's our hostage," Cara said shortly.

"We're giving her a second chance," Kahlan added, loud enough for everyone to hear. "A last chance."

Denna scowled, and stumbled over a rock on the path. Apparently without thinking, Zedd reached out and caught her arm, sparing her an ignominious fall.

Cara rolled her eyes. The Wizard was too kindhearted.

"So, if she's on her second chance…" Leo asked quietly, "what did she do with her first one?"

Cara did not relish the prospect of explaining Denna to anyone, much less Leo, who seemed to have no conception of the danger posed by a Mord'Sith.

A renegade Mord'Sith was an even greater threat, since Denna, as far as Cara could ascertain, felt no loyalty to anyone. She had betrayed Darken Rahl…

So had Cara. But the cases were different—Darken had not seen what Cara and Richard had, in that future that would never be.

"Cara?" Leo asked.

"She wasted it," Cara said harshly. She doubted Denna would have the wisdom not to do the same again.

Only when Richard finished kissing Kahlan hello did he bother to greet her companions.

Although it had only been days for him since they parted, he felt as though he and Kahlan had been separated for years, and was more thankful than he ever had been for anything that his nightmares in the Valley of Perdition had been false.

The joy of holding the real Kahlan in his arms was bliss, the very antithesis of the hopelessness of the Underworld.

Still, all good things must end; Richard looked up.

Zedd was smiling in relief that Richard was safe; Verna was looking austere, and Richard guessed she was still angry with him about Nicci; Cara was on her knees beside a body too badly burned to be revived; and Denna was examining a dacra that had once belonged to a Sister of the Dark.


"What is she doing here?" he demanded of Kahlan.

Kahlan shrugged. "Zedd says she wants to be a better person."

Richard accepted this, and was even glad that Denna had apparently come to her senses, but doubts remained with him. He knew he trusted too easily.

Denna was trouble. She'd proved that more times than he could count, and Richard had not forgotten her scheme to take over D'Hara using his body (though not his soul), as her puppet.

"Are you sure we can trust her?" he asked Zedd that night.

They were just finishing dinner, which had been unusually good; Richard noted with approval that Kahlan was encouraging Cara to eat, despite her sorrow.

Zedd looked up, but before he could answer, Denna said coolly, "You already have, Richard. I cooked, remember? I could have poisoned you all."

At that, Kahlan gave a slight gasp, horrified.

Cara gave no sign that she'd even heard.

"I didn't, though," Denna said flatly.

Richard wondered how Cara could be such a terrible cook and Denna a good one, since they were both Mord'Sith; but he did not wonder at his grandfather's championship of the woman who'd made this.

Nonetheless, good at cooking was not the same as good at life.

"They're just waiting for me to fail," Denna complained to the Wizard.

Somehow, they'd gotten into the habit of walking together. He was marginally less irritating than the others.

"Can you blame them?" he asked.

Denna chose not to answer.

"Even Richard expects me to fail," she said, after a moment. "He believes in Cara, but not in me."

It might be said—and had been, several times—that Denna had given Richard no cause to believe in her.

But it was the same with the Wizard—with Zedd—and he was the only person who didn't give Denna the feeling that every time she opened her mouth he expected to see fangs.

It was his fault that she was starting to care what Richard, Cara, and the Mother Confessor thought about her.

No matter what her own feelings, she had to convince them of her desire to change. She was totally dependent on them now.

But there were days when she found herself wishing the Wizard's friends were her friends, too.

Folly—she had no choice but to join their quest for now, but the moment she saw a way to claim the throne of D'Hara…she was just using them. Friends were for the helpless, and she had not yet sunk so low as to wish that the four of them cared for her.

Ahead, Richard, Cara, and the Mother Confessor were chatting happily, all about the Falls of Aldermont and romance. Denna knew Richard was sentimental, but she'd expected more from Cara.

Suddenly, a shift in the wind carried the smell of rotting flesh to all five of them, and the Mother Confessor stopped babbling on about pink waters and love and frowned.

Denna and the Wizard followed Richard, Cara, and the Mother Confessor to where several bodies hung from a tree, swaying gently.

While Cara expressed contempt for the unknown killers' technique, the Mother Confessor read the notice of the men's execution in dawning horror.

Cara was right about the executioners' lack of finesse, but Denna couldn't muster up the energy to care. She could have done better than this the day she first got her leathers.

Creator, how she missed the armor of a Mistress of the Mord'Sith—

"That's the seal of Aydindril!" the Mother Confessor exclaimed.

They all crowded around to examine the design and its attendant warning message.

Apparently, someone named Prince Fyren had usurped the Mother Confessor's throne in Aydindril.

This was such a good idea—after Lord Rahl was killed the Midlands had been in utter uproar—that it momentarily took Denna's breath away. Why hadn't she thought of it?

Denna was still admiring the brilliance of Fyren's scheme when a wizard of the second order appeared out of nowhere, and Zedd and the Mother Confessor disappeared in a cloud of smoke, and she had to bite back a ridiculous protest.

Don't leave me, she wanted to say. The Wizard was only kind to her out of some misplaced sense of honor, but that comfort was one Denna was not at all anxious to relinquish.

Cara stalked back and forth in front of the burned out embers of their fire, definitely not listening to Richard and Kahlan sneaking off to consummate their love under the stars, now that Kahlan had lost her powers.

"How do you stand them?" Denna asked.

Cara frowned. If Denna had possessed a shred of either consideration or self-preservation, she would have been asleep at a time like this.

"Richard is the Lord Rahl," she replied, as best she might. "And Kahlan is…"

"So emotional," Denna supplied. "It's astonishing that those two defeated Lord Rahl—although I understand you provided them with much-needed assistance."

Cara stopped pacing. "Well?" she demanded, drawing her agiels.

A Mord'Sith did not pull out a weapon she didn't mean to use, but Denna seemed unperturbed, not even wincing as she dragged Kahlan's hairbrush ruthlessly through her long, tangled mane.

Cara hated that Denna was using Kahlan's hairbrush, and that Richard had long since insisted Cara not bind her hands, and that Cara herself had been forced, because the peasant gown was practically in tatters after weeks of travel, to go into town and order a leather dress for Denna that bore a passing resemblance to Kahlan's, although Denna's was brown and not nearly so pretty…

Denna was drop-dead gorgeous, though. She always had been.

It was this, in Cara's opinion, that made her so insufferable. Denna knew the power of her beauty—she used it to break men before she ever struck them with her agiels.

Cara had always distained such overly feminine tricks. (In some ways, Denna had been eminently suited to running a brothel.)

But Cara considered using beauty that way to be cheating.

"You're just as much of a traitor as I am," Denna hissed. "When you reach the Underworld, do you think Lord Rahl will forget how you served Richard?"

"Richard," Cara repeated, "is Lord Rahl."

All at once, an idea came to Cara—a way of, just possibly, shaming Denna into obedience…if Denna were capable of feeling shame, which would actually be a surprise.

When Richard finally returned to camp, Cara paused to pull a leaf from his hair before putting her plan into execution—a move she regretted when Kahlan threw a tantrum and lost her mind.

"Over the top even for you," Denna observed dispassionately to Kahlan, who, quite forgetting that she'd lost her powers, grabbed Denna's throat with a purposeful expression.

After that, it was all Cara could do to get them safely to Aydindril to find out what the Underworld was going on.

Richard had only just regained Kahlan, this time her full and wonderful self, when Cara insisted they all stop for a moment.

Richard, still feeling guilty for not having been able to tell at once that Kahlan wasn't quite herself when they had made love, wasn't paying much attention to anything else.

Cara pulled Denna forward, not very gently, and pushed her to her knees.

Denna glared, and Zedd raised his eyebrows.

"Master Rahl guide us," Cara said, her gloved hand tightening on Denna's shoulder.

Richard winced. "Cara, you know I don't—"

"Master Rahl teach us," Cara went on, and Denna reluctantly added her voice to the chorus. "Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours."

It was like a preview of what awaited Richard if he were ever forced into assuming the title of Lord Rahl.

Denna was looking murderous, and Richard did not feel Cara forcing the issue was going to help keep the peace.

"I don't—I'm not—" Richard said incoherently. He looked to Kahlan for help, but she had her arms folded and plainly considered the loyalty oath between Mord'Sith and their Lord Rahl to be out of her purview.

"Richard," Denna said, rolling her eyes and twisting out of Cara's grasp to get to her feet. "Don't spoil it. If I'm forced to maintain your dignity as Lord Rahl, I do ask you actually have some."

This surprised a laugh out of Cara and Zedd, and even Kahlan smiled a little.

Richard grinned reluctantly, flipped open the compass, and led the way toward the Stone of Tears.

Cara chased down the bandit who had run rather than staying in the clearing and allowing Kahlan to Confess him, glad for the chance to get a moment to herself.

She cared so much for Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd that it hurt, a near constant ache in her heart—they shouldn't matter to her, but they did, and Cara hated the feeling that she was still an outcast.

She caught the villain (who had apparently been kidnapping people so they could be killed by banelings) easily enough, and was in the midst of compelling him to tell her what she wanted to know when Denna appeared, and had the effrontery to save her life.

Cara hadn't been looking—Denna pushed her out of the way and the knife just missed her throat.

Cara caught herself on a tree branch, bark scraping against her glove.

Denna gave her an enigmatic look, and then they both turned to the man who had almost succeeded in killing Cara.

"I don't need your help," Cara snarled, after the information was obtained and the man was dead.

She was shaken, and didn't want to admit it. If Denna hadn't been there—

Denna shrugged, and turned away. "As you wish."

Cara was reminded that Denna was more of an outcast than she would ever be—and part of her gloried in her Sister's disgrace.

The identity of Lord Rahl might change, but Mord'Sith rivalry was forever.

It took all Zedd's ingenuity to convince Cara to masquerade as the Princess of Thryce, and when he tried to teach her poetry, he nearly despaired.

"I'll do it. I'll play the part," Denna said abruptly. She'd been quiet ever since Kahlan was kidnapped by the Margrave's trained gars, and Zedd couldn't tell if she were worried about Kahlan, or worried about the prophecy.

Lately she'd been stern about Kahlan's safety, insisting that she, Richard and Cara could fight the banelings and Sisters of the Dark who routinely accosted them without Kahlan or Zedd's help, even though Cara still refused to return her agiel.

Denna had gotten quite good with the dacra she'd stolen from a Sister of the Dark, and thankfully, no one had confiscated it.

Nonetheless, Zedd had not expected Denna to go so far as to volunteer to play the princess in order to save Kahlan, whom she hated.

"Excellent," Zedd said, after a beat. "Cara can be your lady-in-waiting. Now, you must—"

Before he could seriously instruct Denna in the frivolous arts of royalty, however, Cara changed her mind.

She snatched the pink dress to her chest, glaring. "I'm doing it," she said firmly. "This is for Kahlan."

Zedd guessed she still didn't trust Denna. A pity—not that it wasn't perfectly possible Denna would use this opportunity to make some sort of bargain with the Margrave or the Keeper.

Still, Zedd doubted it.

"I can sing, stitch, and rhyme better than you can," Denna said matter-of-factly. "And I dance much better."

"You must unlearn everything you know and believe," Zedd said, trying to avert a quarrel by annoying both Denna and Cara at once. "Both of you. To begin with, you must never look any man in the palace directly in the eye. You must never speak your mind on any subject but always defer to the opinion of your masculine betters."

Cara rolled her eyes. "There's no such thing."

Denna clasped her hands together and fluttered her eyelashes wickedly, and Zedd was surprised at the way his heart lurched at the sight.

He blinked, and refocused on Cara. "Exactly the attitude you must abandon!"

She scowled.

Richard was at the mercy of a Sister of the Dark who held Kahlan's fate over his head like some kind of prophetic doom.

Nicci had dragged him off to find the Stone of Tears, and apparently the only way to save Kahlan, and therefore Richard and the world, was to find a way of undoing the Maternity Spell.

Denna hated magic. She hated Nicci. She hated that Kahlan was so essential to the fate of the world and so they couldn't just abandon her to her fate—not that Richard would ever do such a thing even if Kahlan weren't 'the love of his life.'

She hated Richard for caring so much.

And most of all, she hated that she'd gotten into the habit of thinking of the Mother Confessor by her given name instead of her title.

That woman was too good. But not too good to have warned Denna away from Richard, with a hand curled into a claw and a look that would have sent a weaker woman crying into Underworld.

They would never be friends, but it was hard not to admire that strength, even tainted as it was by sickly sweet emotion.

Denna was uncomfortable with Kahlan's father; she wasn't used to being ignored. She was also uncomfortable with the new information that Kahlan, like the Mord'Sith, had had a difficult childhood with a parent who clearly did not have her best interests at heart.

Finally, the Maternity Spell was broken, and for the first time, Denna saw Zedd perform serious magic. It was one thing to burn banelings alive, which he didn't even do particularly often, leaving Richard, Cara, Kahlan and Denna to clean up and only deigning to burn the bodies when they were finished.

The spell that called Kahlan's mother back from the Underworld was something else.

Denna was awed, in spite of herself.

Zedd had this power all the time, yet only rarely used it…how could he bear not to scatter spells like flower petals, careless and beautiful?

If Denna had that kind of power at her fingertips, would she still be so afraid?

Darken Rahl was in the Underworld, and for now, nothing could have been more finely calculated to keep Denna aligned against the Keeper. But after she helped Richard and Zedd and Kahlan and Cara save the world, she would find a way to save herself.

Caring for others only made a person weak.

"The Creator…ran away with a boy?" Denna scoffed.

Cara had never felt more in charity with her.

Had she been a devout daughter of the Creator, Cara would likely have been more disappointed in Her earthly presence, like Kahlan. As it was, she was merely bored at this needless interruption.

At length, thank the Creator, the impromptu trial of Richard's methods was over, and they were back on their way.

That night, Kahlan took one look at the way Denna was ruthlessly brushing her hair, and re-appropriated the hairbrush.

"This," she said, holding it up, "is not a weapon…or if it is, it's one that must be wielded with the utmost delicacy."

Kahlan was obviously getting ready for a really good lecture. Cara settled back to enjoy herself.

Richard and Zedd were off collecting firewood, so it was just the three of them in the gathering dusk. It was oddly intimate, like being back at a temple again.

Denna scowled. "Your point?"

Kahlan sat down on a log behind Denna, and pulled her gently by the hair until her head was between Kahlan's knees. The pale gold of Denna's hair was like strands of sunlight across Kahlan's dark skirt.

"Hair like this needs to be treated properly," Kahlan scolded.

Cara got the distinct impression that Kahlan cared more for Denna's hair than for Denna, and grinned at her.

"It's so beautiful, and you're treating it like it's done you an injury," Kahlan complained, letting a few golden locks slide through her fingers. "Brushing your hair isn't about ridding it of tangles—it's about soothing the troubles of the day. You want to take it slow, nice and gentle…"

Kahlan began brushing Denna's hair, her touch delicate and expert.

"I don't have time to fuss about my hair," Denna protested halfheartedly. "If I had my leathers back, I could braid it, but—"

"What a waste, keeping hair like this confined," Kahlan said. "It should be free, loose, warmed by the sun, silky smooth…"

Cara raised her eyebrows. "Are we still talking about hair?" she asked drily.

Kahlan blushed, but she never stopped her expert strokes with the hairbrush.

Denna had her eyes shut in what Cara recognized as sensual enjoyment, and she wished Kahlan would brush her hair.

The increased sympathy she'd felt for Denna started to wane.

Zedd blinked, and flexed his fingers. What a relief to no longer be under the Nygaax's control!

Richard's birthday party had taken an unfortunate turn when a bereaved father kidnapped Kahlan and Cara and summoned an ancient, undying creature to take revenge on the mayor of the town, who had sent all five of the man's sons to die in the war against the D'Harans.

Richard, with his usual flair, had found a way to rescue Kahlan and Cara from the tomb where they were being held before their air ran out, and then he and Denna and the mayor's son had trapped the Nygaax forever, freeing Zedd from its mindless, terrifying power.

"Don't do that," Denna told Zedd sternly. "You can't go around getting taken over by ancient cloth monsters. A birthday party was bad enough."

"I'm sorry to have caused you inconvenience," Zedd said, concealing his amusement. She was so bossy—but he guessed she'd felt some real concern, and that made it easy to forgive her impertinence.

She was adjusting well to the group, he thought—and, although Richard was still wary of her, Kahlan had apparently decided to make use of her, and was now actually encouraging her to cook for them…which was a very good thing.

Richard and Kahlan were both reasonably skilled with preparing food, but not more than necessary for people who spent so much time traveling, and Cara was frankly awful. By contrast, Denna was a genius, and Zedd did appreciate being able to just sit back and enjoy such creature comforts.

Denna complained that Kahlan treated her like an erring child, but Zedd thought she was showing real maturity.

He watched her all the time, and he saw what she tried to conceal from them all—the moments when her mask dropped, and she was just a soul in pain.

As much as he enjoyed her playacting and her wit, it was those moments that gave Zedd his confidence in Denna's ability to become a better person.

She was cheerful, or as near to it as Mord'Sith ever got, and somehow it seemed Denna had always been part of the quest.

Zedd hoped she could be happy with them.

Then came the night when Zedd awoke to the sounds of someone in deep distress. "No…please, no…take me instead…Delphina!"

Zedd was up and at Denna's side at once. She was asleep, but her thrashing had tangled the bedroll around her limbs, and her breathing was labored.

Richard and Kahlan didn't stir, where they slept with hands outstretched and almost touching. Cara, on watch, cast one contemptuous glance at Denna and then turned back to regard the night.

Zedd sighed, and reached out, probing with his magic…it was probably just a nightmare, but it was always possible Denna had been placed under some kind of curse, from which waking her too suddenly could be dangerous.

He saw only glimpses of what she was dreaming, but they were enough.

A pretty little blonde girl who was unmistakably Denna, screaming as another blonde girl who couldn't have been older than five or six was dragged away by Mord'Sith…Denna running after them, grabbing her—sister?—and clinging for dear life…"We'll take both," a Mord'Sith saying. "It's against protocol, but…"

The next image was in a dark cave, water trickling in ominously down the walls…the other girl was chained to the rock, and Denna, still screaming, was being dragged away by several Mord'Sith.

Denna curled into a ball in a corner, rocking herself and crying, and then an impossibly tall shadow—"She won't break, my Lord," and Darken Rahl, suddenly thrown into sharp relief, bending over Denna and picking her up, apparently caring nothing for the dirt and blood she smeared into his ornate robes—"Oh, yes, she will."

"Denna?" Zedd asked hesitantly.

She moaned, but still didn't wake.

Zedd shook her, and suddenly her eyes flew open. Denna stared at the Wizard for a moment in bewilderment, then proceeded to fling her arms around him, burying her head against his shoulder.

Considerably startled—no matter the horror of her dream, Zedd had not thought of Denna as someone who would accept reassurance—he patted her back and murmured soothingly.

After a moment she pulled away. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't—I'm fine."

"Who's Delphina?" he asked, although he could guess.

"My—my sister." Denna bit her lip. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"She died, didn't she?" Zedd asked. "During training to become a Mord'Sith."

"The Drowning Caves," Denna affirmed. "She was too young…she couldn't—they said she was weak."

Zedd put his arm around Denna, unable to express his sympathy aloud. There were no words that wouldn't seem hollow.

She stiffened. "Don't you dare pity me, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander!" she hissed. "I survived, didn't I? And I've done worse myself—to Richard and to you. I don't want your pity."

Angrily, she brushed the heel of her hand against her eyes, and the next instant she winced.

Zedd let her go, and instead put his fingers to her temples, closing his eyes and concentrating.

"As I thought," he said. "Your nightmares have given you a headache, haven't they? Let me help you."

"You can't help me," she said, looking away.

But Zedd sent a whisper of healing energy through her, gladly taking the purely physical part of her pain upon himself and banishing it from his body with a flicker of Han.

Startled, Denna looked up at him, her lips parted in surprise.

She didn't say anything, however, and after a moment Zedd got up to return to his own bedroll.

"Wiz—Zedd?" she asked, her voice high and unsure.

He turned.

"Thank you," Denna said, as though she'd never spoken the words before.

Zedd smiled. "You're welcome, dear one."