The Square Confessor (Part 6)
Summary: It's the end, guys!
When Cara gets back, it is very nearly night time. She has not been avoiding going back to the Palace and meeting Kahlan after their night together. It is just that she has been busy all day, and those idiotic Palace guards took a long time to see things her way, and her horse needed tending, and she had to wash herself and oil her leathers, anyway.
She finds Kahlan and Zedd at the table. Kahlan is looking pensive and Zedd is eating enough food to make three men sick.
She is surprised to find the wizard at the Palace, she has not felt Richard's arrival through their connection. In the last couple of weeks the bond has again gone suspiciously quiet, but she can feel enough through it to know Richard is not in Aydindril.
"Where is Richard?" Cara asks abruptly as soon as she enters, surprising them both.
Zedd starts coughing as the venison he had been eating goes down the wrong way and he literally inhales some of it.
"Cara," he finally says when he can talk, frowning. "You should let an old man enjoy his meal in peace."
"If we let you eat without interruption, wizard, you would string your meals together until you passed out from a bad digestion." She drawls.
Zedd frowns even more. "I have not had a bad digestion in my whole life, child."
Cara turns more fully towards him, her hand involuntarily reaching for an agiel. "Cara," Kahlan warns before Cara can say or do anything else, rising from the table and moving slightly closer to her. "Richard is fine. Zedd arrived ahead of their party because he has something he wants to tell just to the two of us; alone."
Both Zedd and Richard had worried that the news would come as an unwelcome surprise to the women.
Zedd has observed all of them through the years: Richard, Kahlan and Cara. Their comings and goings. Their times of happiness and of sadness. He had known of Cara's feelings for Kahlan, of course. Probably, before the Mord'Sith herself realized. She was never any good at hiding her emotions. He had also known of Kahlan's feelings for Cara. Those, a lot earlier than Kahlan herself had known.
He had seen Richard and Kahlan drift apart and he had been happy for Richard when he found love elsewhere. But, to be truthful, he had almost given up hope on Cara and Kahlan ever coming together. However, the narrative of what transpired on their recent trip, that Kahlan had summarised for him amongst much blushing and smiling had given him great pleasure.
Maybe they can all finally find the happiness they deserve.
After much discussion on how best to tell Cara, Kahlan had agreed to let Zedd tell the tale of the new prophecy, so that then, Kahlan herself may explain what she saw in the well. Whom she saw: her fourth daughter.
Zedd rises from his chair, putting on a serious expression.
"When we arrived at the Palace of the Prophets, we found a new prophecy, Cara. It involves you and Kahlan." He explains.
Cara rolls her eyes in dismissal. "I don't believe in prophecies. They are tales to scare old wives and little children," she says. Just the same, she moves closer to Kahlan; as always, the self-appointed protector.
"This prophecy speaks of the twin house of Rahl," Zedd continues, ignoring Cara's words. "Our initial interpretation of the texts Richard showed us was only partially correct. The mention to the twin house only refers to the eternal fight between evil and good inherent to those of Rahl blood. The main issue is not how many members form the house of Rahl at any point in time," he says, "it is the square base that supports it that is the issue."
"The square base?" Cara asks. She remembers now that Shota also mentioned something to do with squares. She looks at Kahlan briefly, but the confessor's eyes are turned towards Zedd.
"Yes." He nods. "It refers to Kahlan. Well, to confessors in general. They are the base that support the magic, and therefore, the house of Rahl. For as long as they have existed, they have kept the balance of magic across the territories. But their numbers have dwindled in recent years." He explains. "You know that, for a time, Kahlan was the last of her kind, until Dennee was revived and the girls were born."
Cara knows this, so she only nods. Unconsciously, she draws even closer to Kahlan, until they are standing side by side, shoulders and arms touching lightly.
"What the new prophecy and the old texts say is one and the same thing: the strength of the house of Rahl requires the birth of at least four confessors in each generation: a square base." He says as he moves his long fingers in the air, drawing an imaginary square.
Zedd looks at Kahlan. "The prophecy speaks of the birth of a fourth daughter next summer," he pauses and looks at the Mother Confessor. "Kahlan's daughter," he adds, a kind smile covering his leathery features. Then, he looks at Cara, something like mischief entering his eyes. "The prophecy says that this fourth daughter is also a daughter to the Mord'Sith, and thus, in a way, to the house of Rahl."
Cara's eyes first open wide and then, they narrow down. Her right eye twitches slightly.
"You are making this up." She says in a flat voice.
Zedd continues unperturbed. "Richard and I figured out what it all meant: how it came to be. There was a strong pulse in the magic three weeks ago," his voice almost looms over the next words, "very powerful magic was invoked, and right after that, the prophecy appeared. We think it was when the girl was conceived."
They are all silent after that. Kahlan can see the wheels turning in Cara's head until she comes to the inevitable conclusion.
"I knew Shota did something to Kahlan!" she says in outrage. "That damn witch. I should had throttled her with her own entrails when I had the chance." Cara says, looking at the window as if trying to gauge how long it would take to ride all the way back to the mountains and do just that.
Zedd coughs a couple of times to cover a smile and then, he announces ominously. "One of you is pregnant with the other's child."
Cara blanches, all of her blood dropping to her feet.
Zedd raises his hands as if to check their wombs, "I can check who it is," but before he can move any closer, Cara reaches for one of her agiels and moves threateningly towards the wizard.
"Zedd!" Kahlan hisses at the old man, "You are supposed to be helping!"
But Zedd is no longer making an effort to disguise the broad grin that covers his face. His eyebrows wiggle comically at the Mord'Sith.
Kahlan moves to stand between Zedd and Cara.
Cara just looks on, confused and incredibly pale.
When she is sure that she has her full attention, Kahlan finishes their tale.
"Cara, it's not you. It's me." Kahlan whispers as she grabs onto Cara's hand. "I am going to have your daughter."
Of what happens next, Cara has no clear memory later, but she will turn whoever started the rumour that she fainted into shadrin food.
There is celebration and much smiling and congratulations from Council members, staff and other random people. Cara is not sure who they are or where they came from. She is just glad not a single one of them dares to extend their congratulations to her.
When Kahlan is not looking, she may have briefly used her agiels on Zedd... twice.
Only until he stopped smirking and winking her way, really.
When Richard finally arrives that night, he is cautious for only a moment and then, he is hugging everyone around, also celebrating the news.
Cara stands by the side, stiff as a board, one of her hands firmly on top of an agiel. She keeps casting glances at Kahlan's abdomen when she thinks nobody is watching her.
She is not even sure what she expects to see.
Richard observes the women during dinner and the remainder of the evening. At one point, when they move from the table to the chairs that are placed by the fire, Kahlan puts her hand on Cara's waist, slightly lower than it would be proper. As she does it, she stands closer than she normally would, her body pressing along Cara's side. It would be nothing out of the ordinary, except this is Cara. And you do not touch Cara Mason and get to keep your fingers attached to your hand if she does not welcome the touch.
Richard knows that Cara has always suffered through Kahlan's touches, but never without flinching, or at the very least, rolling her eyes or staring pointedly at the hand daring to touch her. But this time, the opposite happens: Cara relaxes when Kahlan touches her, her posture growing less rigid.
The lighting in the room is not very good, but he thinks both women blush at the touch.
He has to look away.
He is the Seeker of Truth. And there might be truths he does not want to see: in others and in himself, but they do not disappear because he dislikes them. He knows then, with absolute clarity, that something must have already happened between them. It makes something ugly stir in his chest. Something dark and odious. And later, when the four of them are finally alone and Richard is slightly inebriated from the wine Zedd kept giving him, some of that darkness casts a shadow over them all.
It helps them settle the score on a number of things that perhaps needed saying.
It starts after a slightly inappropriate, mostly one-sided, conversation about Zedd's youthful contests, followed by an equally racy discussion of the expertise of Mord'Sith in matters of the flesh that has Kahlan blushing and Cara looking torn between amusement and pride.
It ends with a comment from Richard. "You know what is funny, Cara? Darken already told me," he says, "how eager you always were to please." His eyes turn towards Kahlan, his meaning clear.
Cara feels the words like the touch of an agiel to her stomach. Pain does not bother her, of course, but it surprises her nonetheless that such simple words can cause it. Regardless, she only smirks back at Richard.
"And so I was," she says, voice rough. She may regret her past actions, but she will not deny who she is, what she has done.
"Do not talk to Cara like that," there is fury in Kahlan's eyes, darkness swirling in them for a moment.
Zedd shakes his head. "Richard, my boy," he mumbles, "don't-"
But Cara stops them. "I can fight my own battles," she says.
Kahlan is quiet for a long time after that. "I know," she finally whispers, looking away: she is wondering if anyone can ever truly take precedence in Cara's life over her Lord Rahl.
Richard blinks, finally realising what he just said, emerging with a near gasp from the black waters of dark feeling that nearly drowned him for a moment. He stands, rubbing his forehead. "I am sorry, Cara, I don't know what came over me." He says. "I do not begrudge you this happiness. I do not."
It is that darn Rahl blood of his. He has noticed, recently, that without the influence of Kahlan to help him tame it, there is a certain darkness that sometimes takes over him. It is why they need this fourth confessor: the balance she will bring. He talked to Zedd about this during their stay at the Palace of the Prophets. The wizard has started to help him control it with the aid of the sisters of the light. Also, to control the bond. He knows from Tamica, the Mord'Sith that travels with him, that some of his darkness has been leaking through the bond.
He turns to Kahlan. "I am sorry, Kahlan," he says. There is sincerity in his eyes. "I just lost my mind for a second. Please forgive me?"
Kahlan keeps her gaze averted. She is not upset with Richard.
"It's understandable," Cara says, breaking the silence between them all before it can become even more uncomfortable. She also rises and stands next to Richard.
"It is not. You have done nothing wrong, Cara." He says softly.
She says nothing, because the thing is, she has. She has coveted and dreamed and wished for Kahlan. Every day and every night for as long as she has had this new life Richard gave her. She only frowns and looks down at the floor.
Richard is her Lord Rahl. And more than that. He is her friend, her ally. She loves him. She would never betray him. If it were possible, she would have already rid herself of this idiotic weakness. She thinks about the countless hours in between visits to Aydindril and the People's Palace that she has spent over the years with what remains of her sisters' order; hanging from chains, half beaten to death and back: trying to break herself out of her foolish feelings for Kahlan.
It simply cannot be done.
It is stronger than her bond to her Lord Rahl, much as she resists the knowledge.
"I will be ready to leave when you depart for the People's Palace," she finally tells him.
Kahlan gasps at hearing the words. "Cara," she breathes, reaching out, but her hand stops before she can touch her. It is Cara's duty, she knows. Who she is. She will not come in between Cara and Richard.
But Richard shakes his head. "No," he says at last. "You must stay here, Cara: protect Kahlan and our daughters," he smiles as he adds softly, "as if they were me."
He finishes the old command by reaching to touch both of Cara's shoulders, looking into her eyes.
It is a command that he has issued dozens of times, and for the first time in years, Cara does not want to rebel against it.
"I will." She simply says.
Soon after, Richard and Zedd retire to their rooms, leaving Cara and Kahlan alone.
They sit in silence for a long time, each one lost in their own thoughts.
Finally, Cara stands up and moves to Kahlan's side. They look at each other until Cara offers a hand.
Kahlan stares at Cara's hand but does not reach to take it.
Then, Cara remembers something Kahlan told her that morning. She takes off her gloves and puts them on her belt, offering her hand again.
This time, Kahlan takes it, letting Cara pull her to her feet.
Despite all the years of peace, Kahlan still has some calluses left from handling her knives. She has nice hands, with elegant, long fingers. They are bigger than Cara's, and when she closes her hand around Cara's and squeezes lightly, the Mord'Sith remembers how those fingers had felt on her body, the pleasure they gave her. It makes her impatient. She tugs again at Kahlan's hand and starts moving them towards the door.
Kahlan lets her lead. She is tired. She is not sure if it has been a good day after all.
"Cara, would you have gone with Richard if he had asked?" She asks as they walk side by side down the poorly lit corridor.
Cara does not stop walking, "you know I would have."
"I know." Kahlan says. It is Cara's duty. Duty above all else. Kahlan thinks morosely.
But then Cara says something unexpected. "But I would have come back."
When they make it to Kahlan's rooms, Cara stops. She hesitates, but Kahlan pushes the door open and, reaching again for Cara's hand, pulls her into the room behind her. When they are inside, she turns towards the Mord'Sith.
"You can go to your room if you want," she says. "But I would like it if you stayed with me. You are always welcome here, Cara."
Then, she moves in closer, kissing Cara softly, once, twice. Just a brush of lips over impossibly soft, plump lips. She lets her tongue reach out to lick her upper lip. Just a taste. She hears herself moan. Her hand reaches up, to caress Cara's throat and jaw, moving some blonde hair out of the way, pushing it behind Cara's ear.
She pulls back and looks into Cara's eyes. They are bruised: darkened by an emotion that makes Kahlan's heart jump in her chest. Words that may need to remain unsaid for a while rising in her throat, almost escaping.
She pulls back completely before she cannot stop herself. Last night awakened a need in Kahlan that may be difficult to repress if she keeps touching Cara. She squeezes Cara's hand and moves towards the bed, half of her mind on changing her clothes and the other half on listening to what Cara is doing. She does not want to pressure Cara into doing anything she might not be ready for. Last night had been wonderful, but it felt like she had pushed things along.
She needs for Cara to come to her.
She slips under the covers as she hears the door to her rooms close. She closes her eyes in frustration, thinking that she might have to run after Cara come morning, but then, she opens them wide as she hears the lock to the door turning from the inside. She waits for long minutes after that, but the Mord'Sith does not join her in bed. When Kahlan finally raises herself enough to look around, she sees her: she is seated in one of the chairs by the fire, her back to Kahlan.
Kahlan is almost asleep when she feels the bed shifting, Cara finally, finally, joining her. She turns on her side and reaches for the other woman, finding only warm skin. It wakes her up immediately: Cara is naked under the covers.
"Take this off." Cara tells her as she tugs on her night clothes.
"Cara," Kahlan whispers. "Maybe we should talk first." She reaches to touch Cara's face, caressing her high eyebrows, her straight nose and soft cheeks. She cannot imagine what Cara must be thinking right now. She should have told her about what she saw in the well sooner.
Cara only frowns and tugs again, impatiently. "Take it off, Kahlan."
And so she does. She raises up slightly to remove the shift, throwing it carelessly to the side of the bed, before quickly slipping again under the covers, blushing, goose bumps raising all over her skin.
Cara reaches for her immediately. There is no hesitation from the Mord'Sith as she tangles their limbs together under the covers, one of her legs thrown over Kahlan's thighs, the soft hair at the apex of her legs brushing against Kahlan's warm skin, wet flesh making contact, causing Kahlan to lose all the breath in her lungs and start trembling in Cara's strong arms.
"Cara," she tries again. "We should talk." She wants to ask Cara if she is going to stay in Aydindril, and what this means: that she is here, in this bed, rubbing herself against Kahlan like this. Touching her. Kissing her shoulder, and her neck, and caressing her breasts and stomach. But then, Cara's hand reaches between her legs and she loses the power of speech.
Later, they lie in the centre of the bed. Kahlan on her back, one arm around the Mord'Sith. Cara is on her side, her face against Kahlan's shoulder, a hand absently rubbing Kahlan's stomach.
"Why did you lock the door before?" Kahlan asks.
Cara is silent for a bit. Then, she shifts against Kahlan. She reaches down, spreading the lips of her sex and pressing herself more firmly against Kahlan's thigh, starting a slow grind. "I like to take my pleasure best in the mornings." She taunts, voice low.
It is a nonsensical answer, but Kahlan's breath hitches at the seductive words, at Cara's actions. From the tone that she used, Kahlan is almost sure that the Mord'Sith is just messing with her, but she feels her body reacting just the same. A sure hand moves over her body, fingers splaying over her ribs, reaching up possessively to caress her breast. She does not think she can go again so soon after her last orgasm, but maybe she is wrong. This is an area where Cara is clearly in a league of her own. Kahlan is only now beginning to truly understand how much the words mistress of pleasure fit Cara. What they mean.
"I closed it because, otherwise, the girls could come into the room in the morning." Cara finally answers, her tone of voice back to normal. She is thinking about the undignified exit of the previous morning and perhaps, yes, a little bit about the possibility of sex in the morning. She would be totally up for that.
It is hard to think clearly when Cara is touching her, but Kahlan wants Cara to be part of her whole life. Not just to share this bed with her. "They will find out eventually." She says hesitantly, her words implying there will be other occasions: that this is not just a fling. She waits, but Cara does not correct her.
Kahlan does not say it, but she wants to tell the whole world about them. In fact, she wants too many things to name when it comes to Cara. "And, in any case, they are not that sophisticated, they would not know what we were doing," Kahlan concludes.
Cara bites her earlobe, kissing the sensitive skin there. "What if they come in when you are licking my-"
"I see your point," Kahlan interrupts before Cara can finish her sentence, a hand reaching to cover Cara's mouth. She looks into Cara's eyes and sees the smile there. She is only teasing her, trying to embarrass her with her forward words and behaviour.
It makes Kahlan smile right back as she hides her face in Cara's neck, blushing.
It is a while until any of them speaks again. Kahlan is warm and comfortable, very nearly dozing against Cara.
"I had a son, once." Cara says it so softly Kahlan is not sure if she has imagined it.
She does not know what to say. Cara has never, in all these years, mentioned her son.
Cara is as shocked as Kahlan. She is not sure why she has mentioned it now.
Zedd had told them the story of the other world, the one that was erased by the spell of undoing, all those years ago. Kahlan had known that he was not telling everything as the wizard was spinning his tale of Cara, the pink-dressed school teacher. She had seen him talk to Cara that night and how withdrawn the Mord'Sith had become afterwards. And so, later, when she had confronted him in private, he had told Kahlan about Cara's son, and how Darken had taunted Cara, telling her that he had been killed immediately after being born.
Zedd was not sure if the Cara of this world, twice undone, had known of his fate. He had felt Cara needed to know.
Maybe, in a way, he had also known that it was something Kahlan should know about.
Kahlan moves her arms more firmly around Cara, hugging her tightly to her body. It makes her aware of how much smaller Cara is. It is only her fierce, imposing persona that projects the illusion of a larger size. She hugs Cara so tightly that the Mord'Sith cannot breath for a moment. She feels Cara growing tense against her, but then, she relaxes, her body growing heavy and boneless in her embrace.
Kahlan kisses her shoulder. "I know." She finally whispers into Cara's ear, choking back on the tears the Mord'Sith will not shed, crying for her, for him: their nameless, lost son. Ever since her vision in the well, Kahlan has started to think of her daughters as being also Cara's, and thus, in a way, Cara's son has somehow become hers. "Zedd told me."
Then, she talks quietly for a long time, murmuring into Cara's ear. She talks about how much Kyla, Sonja and Doly love her. How they always ask about her and want to hear stories about the Mord'Sith before they go to sleep. How Doly sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, frightened by a dream, and calls for her Mommie Cara. How when that happens, Kahlan herself wishes for nothing more than the Mord'Sith could be there with them. How when Cara is in Aydindril the sun reaches higher in the horizon, the sky is bluer and every hour lived feels a bit longer, a bit richer.
She pinches one of Cara's buttocks lightly and shushes her when the Mord'Sith starts trashing against her, trying to escape, complaining about all the feelings Kahlan is bombarding her with. She ignores all of Cara's groans as she tries to interrupt her ridiculous speech, because this is something she has to say.
Something Cara needs to hear.
She also explains a small part of what she saw in the well, not all, because there will be time for that later, but she speaks of the little girl with the long blonde hair and eyes the colour of the sky during a bright summer morning, running after night wisps, playing with her three older sisters.
"Shota showed me four healthy, happy little girls. They all grow into strong confessors, Cara. Loved by Richard, and Zedd, and her mo-, her family." She says.
She reaches up to move some hair out of Cara's face, but the Mord'Sith refuses to make eye contact.
Kahlan kisses her mouth tenderly, pressing lightly for a few moments, and then, more firmly, letting her lips open, her tongue reaching out, stoking a fire that had laid in embers moments before. She feels Cara surging against her almost immediately, body arching into hers wantonly. Their kiss grows passionate very quickly, but before Cara can take over, as Kahlan has noticed that she is keen to do, she pulls back.
"We will protect them, Cara." She says, breathing heavily. "Nothing bad will happen to any of them."
"You cannot know that." Cara answers, finally making eye contact.
But she does not correct Kahlan on any of her other statements.
It tells Kahlan all she needs to know: it makes her smile. And maybe, cry a little, but she hides her face in Cara's neck before the Mord'Sith can notice. She sniffs quietly as she tells herself she needs to stop crying every time they share a bed if she does not want to scare the Mord'Sith away.
She wants to tell Cara that she knows they will be happy, all of them together, but she only kisses her again.
She does not fool herself. She knows there is much to discuss, much to arrange, much to fight over. She knows Cara will need to run away sometimes, that she might never share herself with them the way she would like her to, but it is of no consequence: Kahlan will have whatever Cara can give her and it will be much more than enough.
The following morning, Kahlan wakes up very early. Cara is still asleep, lying on her side. Kahlan takes her time to study the other woman. She cannot stop herself from reaching over and touching Cara's cheek, her throat, her collarbones. She moves her hand lower, close to the tantalizing valley between Cara's breasts. She feels Cara stir and she moves her eyes away from her treacherous hand.
Cara is awake and looking at her.
It makes her shy. "Hey," she breathes the word, flushing slightly at being caught touching her like this.
Cara reaches for Kahlan's hand and places it over her left breast, her nipple growing hard immediately. Kahlan's soft hand squeezes lightly, feeling the strong heart beat underneath.
Cara regards her seriously for a moment and finally asks what she has been wanting to know. "What else did you see in the well?" she says.
"This." Kahlan answers as she pushes Cara onto her back and moves in to give her a deep kiss.
Almost immediately however, they are interrupted by the sound of tiny fits banging on a door.
"It's the girls. They must be awake." Kahlan says with regret as she breaks the kiss.
Cara only rolls her eyes and slides off the bed. She picks up Kahlan's discarded shift and puts it on. Once she is dressed, she opens the door to the connecting room.
Kyla and Sonja run into the room and jump on the bed, tackling their mother to the mattress before Cara can even say good morning.
It takes Doly about a second longer to attach herself to Cara's legs. Her dark hair wild and untamed, hiding her face.
"I also saw this," Kahlan mumbles, almost apologetically. Then, she looks at Cara from behind a curtain of dark hair not unlike her daughter's, bright blue eyes twinkling with humour and that other thing. The one that starts that strange, annoying pressure in Cara's chest and that Cara has already determined is only relieved when she buries herself in the confessor.
Cara huffs as she crosses her arms under her breasts and stares at Kahlan.
"At least, when they came in, I didn't have my head between your-," she starts to say.
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! Also, thanks to everyone that left a comment. I read them ~all. Sorry I did not warn about the FPreg. I did not want to spoil the whole 'square' thing.
Anyone up for a completely over-the-top fluffy epilogue with all four of the girls? ;)