This has totally run away from me. The idea I initially had was (what will be) the end of this, just a short, emotional moment. But when I sat down to write it, I found myself wanting to construct some kind of a beginning. So I thought, 'cool, just a few choppy paragraphs to kinda set the scene, and they will build up into the main bit which will have all the emotional stuff.' Before I knew it, I'd written a couple of thousand words, and I couldn't stop.

For this reason, it probably seems really detached and kinda rushed, but I really didn't feel like re-writing it in a different style; it would just make the whole thing even longer and more difficult to write. I'm not sure how I'm feeling about it so far, but it's been sitting around on my computer since July and I'm determined to finish it somehow.

I've updated these few chapters I had up, because I've changed a couple of little things here and there, and I've added a couple more. I'm close to the end, but I'll probably hold a few chapters back until I'm sure I don't want to change anything in them.

"If you must die, sweetheart, die knowing your life was my life's best part" – Keaton Henson, 'You'

An illness of the heart, the healer had advised. He believed that she had likely had it for a while and it had gone unnoticed, but it was getting worse, and there was nothing to be done. Zedd had tried to use his gift to heal, or at least strengthen her heart, but the magic wouldn't hold; illnesses that were not caused by magic could not always be cured by magic.

Thankfully they'd already made it to Aydindril before she'd collapsed the first time, and there it was that the healer had examined her and made the diagnosis. Of course, Kahlan had insisted on continuing to carry out her Confessor duties, but over time the strain had become too much, forcing her to retreat into her living quarters earlier and earlier each day.

Zedd had come to terms with the situation from the moment he'd felt for himself, through his magic, how fragile Kahlan's heart was, and how her lungs seemed to be following suit. He loved Kahlan like a daughter and had wept that day, but he was old enough and wise enough to know that this was something he could not change. Richard remained the optimistic youth he'd always been, reading all he could find in the libraries of Aydindril and the Wizard's Keep - and The People's Palace, when he was there for a while to see to matters in D'Hara - searching for a cure or ways to slow the illness.

In the face of the many issues that kept arising, each new evil they'd had to vanquish, things had cooled between Richard and Kahlan, but they still shared a strong bond. Zedd had worried that Richard's denial was setting him up for further pain in the future, but he realised that Richard was coping in the only way he knew how – by approaching the situation as The Seeker.

Cara had everyone concerned. At first she'd been the one to keep everything in order - matching Kahlan's impressive stubbornness with her own, often forcing the Confessor to put her duties aside and rest, and never allowing the others to become mired in sadness over what was to be. She'd taken a practical approach to dealing with things, appointing herself Kahlan's guardian, never more than two strides away, attuned to Kahlan's every move. Her Mord-Sith facade hadn't wavered the day she'd stepped in to catch Kahlan during a hearing; the Mother Confessor had become short of breath, causing her to become lightheaded and prone to fainting. Cara, ever vigilant, had noticed the change in Kahlan's movements quickly enough that she'd made it to the brunette's side just in time to slip an arm around her waist and lead her from the room as her knees began to buckle. As soon as they'd made it out of sight, Cara had effortlessly lifted Kahlan into her arms without a word, avoiding eye contact with the Confessor and marching her stoically through the quieter passages of the palace to reach her room.

That had been the beginning of Kahlan's acceptance of her state, the realisation that her illness was real and tangible here and now, not just a spectre of something she would have to deal with much further into the future. She'd been mortified at having caused something of a spectacle at the hearing she'd been presiding over but, more than that, she'd been frightened. Cara had been there to scold her for not being more careful (the "I told you so" had been implied) and the Mord-Sith's no-nonsense manner had comforted Kahlan. She and Cara had grown close enough over the years that she'd known Cara's eye-rolls and scoffs in that moment to be an expression of concern and affection, as evidenced by the blonde tucking her into bed and lecturing on how important it was for her to get enough rest - not to mention the warmth in her eyes that always gave her away. But Kahlan had known that she could no longer ignore the seriousness of the situation.