Richard cradled both girls in his arms, his eyes moving quickly from one to the other. Elizabeth would widened her eyes each time he looked to her and Jade would wiggle while reaching out touch his face, the sight proving to be the best she had ever seen. The popping noise he made with his lips, captured their attention completely, bringing a smile onto both of their faces.
"Hi," he repeated again and again, pleased with their reaction each time.
"They're going to be a handful," Kahlan said as he handed her one of their children.
"The first ones always are," he countered with a suggestive grin and a raised eyebrow, making her laugh. "Thank you."
"Everything you did for me when I was confessed. If I had missed this, the birth of our children or if I hadn't spent any time with them-"
"I know," she whispered. "I knew you would want to be there."
"I know it wasn't easy for you."
"No, but I knew that it would mean something to you and... I couldn't have done it without you."
He smiled at her, rocking his arms as Jade began to move, asking quietly for some more attention. "I don't think you realize how strong you are."
Raising her eyebrows, she tilted her head and motioned to their daughters. "I gave birth to twins. I think I'm as strong as they come."
Their laugh mixed together, filling the room until Elizabeth began experimenting with sounds of her own.
"She reminds me of Dennee," Kahlan said. "Always wanting attention." Inching closer to him, she leaned over and grinned widely. "Make that sound again. The one you made before, the uh, the clicking?"
Confused, he nodded, willing to do anything she ever asked him to. "Alright."
The instant his tongue clicked against the roof of his mouth, both babies looked to him with their eyes wide and instantly tried to copy the sound. Richard jumped in response, surprised by the noise and pleased with the soft laugh coming from their mother.
"When you first did that, they spent some time trying to do it as well. It was like you hadn't left."
When he looked back to her, she was staring at the floor. The smile had faded from her lips and even from only being able to half of her face, he saw the anguish. She would never say anything, never let on that what they had been through had been harder on her. He knew better though. She was the strongest person he knew and yet, when he was taken from her, what he saw in her eyes was an amount of fear and pain that he had never seen before. It made him remember his time with Denna and how he had used his feelings for Kahlan to hold on and he knew that if he had gone though what she just had, it would have broken him.
"I'm not going to leave you again, Kahlan."
"You've said that already."
"Kahlan," he started, but closed his mouth quickly, the look in her eyes freezing his tongue.
"It's only a matter of time. If her magic doesn't reclaim you, one or both of us will die when the resistance attacks." Tears were collecting in her eyes, but from the way she held herself, he knew that she refused to let them fall. "We were kidding ourselves by thinking that we could have the life we wanted."
Laying Jade inside the small crib, he looked back to the Mother Confessor and motioned to the child in her arms. "Put her in here, I want to show you something."
"She's awake; if I lay her down-"
"She'll be fine, I promise."
He was holding her hand tightly, making sure she couldn't escape his grasp as he pulled her along behind him. The sun was beginning to set, but the heat of it still rained upon them, bringing sweat to drip down the faces and backs. With the wind blowing swiftly, dragging the scent of the trees and flowers past their noses. If her mind wasn't on the upcoming battle, she would have found it all comforting. If she allowed herself to, she would remember the similarities between now and the time they had previously spent in the trees.
"Where are we going?"
"It's not much further, just through these trees." After a few more steps, he stopped and turned to face her, knowing that she wanted an explanation. "This is where I would come. This is where I remembered you the most. Kahlan, before, when Zedd and I would leave the palace, this is where we would go and I would pace these leaves and curse myself for hurting you. I stood right here and do everything I could to shut her out of my head. And I came out here the last few weeks and all I could do was think about you."
Turning away, he walked another couple of feet and pointed to the trees. "They reminded- no, remind me of the ones that hovered over us that night, the first time we were together. Just before I asked Annabelle to let me stay in my room, I was here. I felt close to you, not the way I did when you were near, but here, I could think and remember things more clearly." He stared at the trees, his mind replaying everything that had happened between them up to the current moment. "I remembered the way we were and not like I had before. I could almost see it as clear as the moment itself."
"It was here, even through my confusion, that I realized that what we had was worth it. I was confessed to another woman and yet, I wanted to be with you. Kahlan, we can have the life we imagined. Elizabeth and Jade are just the beginning and you can bet that I will not let anything happen to any of you. When those men come, I will protect you, all of you and then we will have everything we talked about. I refuse to believe anything else."
He sat down on the ground, crossing his legs before him while keeping his back to her. "Tell me that you don't feel it here. Tell me that when you look at those trees, you still feel like we will never have the life we both want."
"I know that you've been through something difficult, I do, but Kahlan, you and I, we can do this. We always find a way through." Looking over his shoulder toward her, he creased his brow. "I want you to trust me."
"I do," she said breathlessly.
"Do you? Kahlan, you're looking at me like you don't know who is who you're talking to and I understand, I do. I left you so many times, but I'm right here and I'm fighting for us. What about you?"
Sitting down beside him, she too, crossed her legs and looked out at the trees. "I'm afraid."
"I'm right here. I won't let anything happen to you."
"That's not what I'm afraid of."
Turning his body to face hers completely, he sighed. "I'm confused."
"I don't care what happens to me and I haven't since we separated months ago. I am- I'm afraid of what will happen to you, Elizabeth and Jade. I- I thought that we had everything and I watched it all slip from my grasp. Richard, I..." She turned away, finding it difficult to look at him while she spoke. "I know that this has passed, but it feels like it's still hanging above my head and I'm waiting for it to fall again."
"Kahlan, it's over."
"No, it's not. How can it be over when she's still alive? You can blink and then be hers again. We can stand up, be ambushed and killed before we have a moment to think. We don't know what-"
"You're right," he interrupted, laying his hand on her arm. "We don't know what's going to happen next, but that's not a reason to give up. You know that and I think that's why you haven't said anything. Kahlan, I know that you're scared and you have every reason to be, but I'm right here. I'm going to go through this with you."
"How can you go through it if you're confessed?"
"I can't do it again, Richard." She spoke as she turned to look at him, her heart pounding against her chest, making her fear that he could see it. "I don't want to. Everything that happened, it- It scared me."
He didn't expect those words to leave her lips. She was the strongest of them all and he didn't think she would say anything of it. "I'm sorry."
"You don't have to be afraid anymore. I will not leave you, I promise. We will get through this, together."
Wrapping his arms around her, Richard brought her back to his chest and held her firmly. Bringing his lips to her ear, he kissed it softly before whispering his promise once again.
Their enemy came in numbers, a set of four circling each of them to make sure they were unable to move to another's aid. Kahlan's magic had ripped through the first wave, taking one of the strongest and turning him against his own men. Without effort, he cut down nine soldiers before he, too, was killed. The Mother Confessor seemed to be their main target and with each moment, they drew in closer. She held her ground, taking down one, two, three... Twelve men before the others had a chance to see what was happening. She moved with such grace and speed as her mothering instinct to protect, took over her.
The battle quickly became a blur of grunts, gasps for air and loud cries. Her eyes focused on the men that surrounded her, searching quickly for any sign of a weakness she could use to her advantage. At times, Richard's voice would drown out all of the other sounds with the cry of her name, telling her when another set of men came to her back. She could see him from the corner of her eye, fighting beside Annabelle, who, to her surprise, wasn't as helpless as she assumed. He swung the Sword of Truth with a deadly force, killing each man almost instantly with one swing. Wiping the fresh blood splatter from her forehead with the back of her right hand, the Mother Confessor tightened her hold on her daggers and prepared for another lunge forward.
The smell of flesh filled the air, announcing to all that the battle had yet to come to an end and from the continuous battle cries of the enemy, it appeared to them all that it could last forever. Unable to control himself any longer, the Seeker swung his sword and ran in her direction. There were so many of them and he couldn't get his mind to stop imagining the worst. Cara had taken their children, she would be more than a days ride away by now, safe, but their mother was in the thick of the war. She could be taken away from him at any moment and the thought was killing him.
The palace guards did their best to thin out the enemy, meeting them at the tree line to keep as many of them as possible from getting to their leader. Bodies began to pile at their feet, helping to keep the enemy at bay long enough to catch their breaths. The taste of blood stained their mouths, keeping count of their kills. What little time they had spent with the Mord'Sith had clearly rubbed off on them. It was clear quickly, that they enjoyed the fight. They took great pleasure in keeping the enemy from the Mother Confessor.
Richard was almost beside her now, working twice as hard to keep the, much larger, men from surrounding her completely. His mind screamed for him to keep an eye on her; to make sure the blood that stained her white dress wasn't hers. The view almost paralyzed him as it brought back the memory of finding her bloodied on the floor and the fear of losing her and their children. The moment of thought was interrupted by her screaming his name while rushing toward him in concern.
Blinking the world around him into focus, Richard, at last, saw what had her worried. The man he had been fighting stood two feet away, his sword stuck in the Seeker's side.
The scream that left the Mother Confessor's lips ripped through the air. Her eyes burned red, her arms outstretched and ready to tear the mans head from his body. Everyone froze, the enemy in complete terror and her friends in knowing. Watching her come closer, Richard tried to keep his eyes open, needing to make her the last thing he saw.
The man stood no chance against her, her magic soared through him and before he could ask for a command, she had his body falling limply to the ground. Within an instant, she turned to a group of the enemy and her magic rushed forward, claiming them before she moved on to another set and repeated until they all bowed before her. Looking down at the Seeker, she felt her heart begin to race and she instantly gave into her urges.
"Kill yourselves," she said in a heated whisper, her eyes moving from the man at her feet to each of the others, watching as they plunged their knifes into their own hearts. When the last man fell to the dirt, Kahlan lowered herself to her knees and pressed her hands against the bleeding wound on Richard's side. "Heal him."
Zedd moved forward instantly, not wanting to make her ask again. Blood soaked through his grandson's shirt, staining the Mother Confessor's hands as she tried to slow the flow. She reluctantly removed her hands, allowing the wizard access to the young man's wound, watching him carefully to make sure he did as she said. She was staring at him, her eyes still red as the magic continued to reel within her. When Richard's eyes opened, he reached for her with a jolted jump, taking her hand before their eyes met.
"Kahlan?!" He hugged her through the pain, knowing that it would soon be gone. "It's alright, now. I'm... I'm here with you." Taking her face in his hands, he stared into her dark eyes and watched as she pushed back the magic of the ConDar and returned the beautiful blue to his view. "Hi."
She was embarrassed for a moment, but it fled her quickly, replaced with relief and a burning flame within her stomach. Grabbing his face, she pulled him against her and connected their lips in a fiery kiss. Breaking their connection, she kept her eyes closed, trying to regain more strength while he tightened his hold on her hips to steady her.
"We should get you back to the palace. Here, let me-"
"I'm fine," she lied quietly, at last opening her eyes. "I need to find Elizabeth and Jade."
It was pointless to argue with her, her mind would be on their children until they were wrapped safely in her arms. "Come on," he smiled. "I know where Cara took them."
She was on her feet within seconds, waiting for him to join her as she looked to the others, who stared blankly. "Take a couple of men and make sure that there isn't any more of them. I will not have our home taken away from us."
The soldiers nodded, each of them straightening their backs as she looked to them, fear still rolling through their bones. "Yes, Mother Confessor."
Her back pushed against the bedroom door, her legs wrapping around his hips as he leaned into her. Their mouths danced together, bringing them closer with each kiss. Lifting the bottom of her dress, Richard slid his hands up her legs, slowing to caress her thighs and draw out a long, heated moan. Breaking their kiss, she arched her back, pushing the back of her head into the cool wood and the rest of her into his warmth. His hands continued their journey, living off of the sounds that left her lips.
The door flew open, dropping the couple to the floor with a grunt, moan and soft laugh. Lifting his head from her chest, he met her eyes, quickly checking to make sure she was alright and that he hadn't crushed her when they landed. Her fingers rewound themselves in his hair, bringing his face closer to hers, a smile forming on her lips. Shifting beneath him, she kicked at their door, closing it loudly before reconnecting their lip. Without losing a moment, he brought his hands back to her body, wanting desperately to pick up where they had left off, but finding it nearly impossible in their new position. Forming a new plan, the Seeker began to skillfully unlacing her dress, growing more excited as more porcelain skin was revieled.
They were naked quickly, their clothes discarded to a place that neither cared. The bed had yet to be touched, the couple finding it difficult to focus long enough to move from their lovers body. Kahlan had just come to settle above him when one or both of them decided that they were too far apart and crash themselves together, rolling until they hit a cool wall. Each moment revieled a truth, whispering to them both of the trials they had faced and where they had gone, making them grow more desperate for the other. Without warning, she broke their kiss and pulled away, sitting up for a moment to catch her breath. He didn't move.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. It was almost a reflex of words, but she still meant them. Moving back to him, she laid her head on his shoulder and draped her arm over his chest. "I- For a moment I thought we were back out there."
He didn't have to ask to know what she was talking about, he could hear it in her voice. There was a pain and fear that he didn't hear from her very often. "We're safe now, Kahlan. All of us."
"The things I thought of... What I was going to do- Richard, I was so afraid that I had lost you again and I what I was going to do to those men... I couldn't control myself and I don't know what I would have done if I... You can't do that to me again." He chuckled for a moment, tightening his arms around her until she was forced to lay completely on top of him. "I mean it, Richard."
Lifting his head, he connected their lips briefly, savoring the taste. "I know." Tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear, he sighed, knowing how much it all bothered her. "I'm alive because of you."
"You saved me, Kahlan. The man who stabbed me, it was you who killed him. You came after me. I know that it upsets you; that you don't understand it yet, but Kahlan, if you hadn't gone into ConDar, we may all be dead. I know that you felt like you had no control, but I watched you. I could still see you and you didn't do anything that you wouldn't have done without the magic. Those thoughts you had, the ones that upset you, you didn't do them. Whatever it was you wanted to do to those men, you didn't. You had the control."
Her heart was pounding, sending each beat through him as she breathed in slowly in an attempt to hide her emotions. Their eyes were locked intensely and she knew it was a pointless attempt. The only man who was able to read a Confessor was laying beneath her and what was more was that she never saw the look she expected to. When all others would look away in fear or uncertainty, he would be there, waiting to meet her eyes with a reassuring smile.
"It scares me."
"I know." He shifted his eyes for a moment, looking past her head to the ceiling. "You wanted to kill her didn't you?"
His eyes returned to hers, unexpectedly calm. "Why didn't you?"
"I couldn't." It was a simple answer, but he saw that there was much more to it. He also knew better than to push it from her. "She may have taken you away from me, but if I had killed her, I would have destroyed us and I couldn't lose you again."
Lifting her into his arms, he moved slowly and carefully to his feet and carried her over to the bed. "You won't lose me, Kahlan."
The instant her back hit the bed, she pulled him down above her and rolled over him.
"You're not upset with me?" she asked quietly, her lips lightly grazing his.
"Why not?" she asked, watching his eyes flutter closed as her lips continued to touch his.
Richard pushed her back a bit, removing the contact from their lips and allowing their eyes to meet without the blur of closeness. "Because you were only wanting to protect what's yours."
"There's nothing wrong with protecting the ones you love. I understand, Kahlan." When he said her name, the pit of her stomach heated and tightened quickly, making a soft moan leave her lips. His fingers began to circle her back, slowly making their way up and between her shoulder blades, drawing her nearer. "We protect our family."
Sitting up, she looked down at his darkened eyes. His body was still ready, anticipating hers and suddenly it all became clear to her. The one constant she had, the one singularity in their world was them. They were always craving each other, a fact well known by not only them, but the people around them and when they were close, nothing could stop them. She once spoke aloud, asking how they had kept apart for so long. Richard had chuckled, telling her that before they didn't know what they truly had and that they wouldn't make the mistake again.
"Kahlan?" She blinked quickly, realizing she had gotten lost in her own thoughts. "Are you alright?"
"I'm sorry, I was thinking."
"You," she smiled, removing the concern from his face and replacing it with a grin.
Widening her smile, Kahlan shifted her hips, rubbing against him. "Mmhm."
Richard fought the urge to pull her to him and roll them over. Sitting up, he pulled on her hips, strengthening the pressure between them as he took her bottom lip in between his. "Good thoughts?" he questioned with a dry and raspy voice, their contact making his body quake.
"Richard..." she half whined, half whimpered in desire, reacting perfectly to his teasing. "Please..."
"You started it," he hushed into her ear.
"Mmmhnm," she moaned, her nails digging into his shoulders as she leaned her head back. "Richard..."
Kahlan abandoned his shoulders and reached between them, shifting her body until she was able to slide down onto him. Their united gasps of pleasure filled the air around them, removing all of the tension, fear and loss that had filled the room before and joining the cry of life that had taken room within the walls. This was an end to their terror and a beginning to all that was to come.