A/N: Well, it's taken four more years for an update. This chapter contains everything I already had written. With luck, a chapter will follow to wrap up the plot. I highly doubt that anyone is following this story any more, but if you were hoping for an update, your wish is granted. I loved this story, and I can't bear to let it sit unfinished.
The day of the wedding had arrived. Kahlan thought about her friends as she laced up her dress. It truly was lovely. Her dark hair cascaded over her shoulders, emphasizing the off-shoulder champagne colored bodice of the dress. The beading on the powder blue skirt continued up to the cusp of the bodice forming a floral pattern. It was a shame she did not remember the last wedding she attended while wearing it. She sighed and reached for the ornate hairpin her sister had lent her. Kahlan gasped as her hand closed around something crisp and slimy. She stared at the wet leaf in confusion. She squeezed her eyes closed, and when she opened them once more the leaf was gone, the gold hairpin in its place. As if it had never been gone at all.
She shook her head and fastened the pin and gazed into the mirror one last time. This was as good as it was going to get. Julian knocked and promptly entered the room to escort her to the transport room. It was time to go to Hartland.
When they arrived, Denee and Darken were already waiting. "Alright, let's get this over with." Kahlan said, "Will it hurt?" she murmured to Julian.
Apparently she hadn't spoken as quietly as she thought, because her sister answered her question. "No, it will just be a little uncomfortable. You will be perfectly safe." Denee assured her. "Are you sure you want to go through with this?"
Kahlan nodded. "I will be fine, little sister," she said. "Darken, I'm ready."
Kahlan grabbed ahold of Julian's hand tightly as the pair stepped onto the transport star. She closed her eyes tightly as Darken began incanting. When she dared open them once more, she was inside a wooden cabin.
"Are we here?" she asked, looking around the quaint space.
"Let's look around." Julian suggested, leading her by the hand through the door and into the next room. At the end of a long wooden table sat a man. He smiled and rose to greet them.
"Kahlan Amnell?" he asked. The man smiled warmly when she nodded to confirm her identity. "First Counciler Ethan, of Westland. We've been expecting you Mother Confessor. If you would wait just one moment, my wife and daughters should be arriving to escort you to the wedding."
"That would be lovely, Counciler." she agreed.
"Please, call me Ethan." he implored.
"Only if you will call me Kahlan." she bargained.
He chuckled lightly before turning his attentions to Julian. "And you are?"
Julian stepped forward, wrapping an arm around Kahlan's waist. "My name is Julian. I will be accompanying the Mother Confessor to the wedding."
Before the matter could be discussed further, a small brunette blur barged through the door and launched herself at the First Councilor. A taller young woman with caramel braids appeared in the doorway with a sigh.
"I'm sorry, Father." said the older of the two. "I tried to get her to knock, but she wouldn't listen."
Ethan laughed, running a hand over his daughter's head. "It's alright, Laurel. But what did the two of you do with your mother?" he asked.
Kahlan stared in shock as a woman entered the room in a boldly scant dress. "I'm right here." she said to her husband. "No thanks to our daughters, I made it on time."
"Anna?" Kahlan muttered in surprise.
Anna's eyes widened incrementally. "Kahlan, it's good to see you again." She turned to her husband. "You didn't tell me she was coming."
"I said we were meeting the Mother Confessor." he reminded her gently.
His attempt to placate her went unnoticed. "You didn't say Kahlan Amnell." she hissed.
"And I didn't know you knew her." he insisted. "Can we talk about this later?"
Anna offered her arm to Kahlan, and the two walked out of the room closely followed by the others. "I see you've found someone. I'm glad." Kahlan said.
"I thank the spirits every day." Anna said, exchanging an apologetic smile with her husband as the group walked down the hallway. "Are you and him..." she began, "I mean is he...?"
Kahlan shook her head. "Julian's not confessed, if that is what you wanted to ask me."
"I'm under a different power of hers." Julian piped up from behind them. Kahlan looked at him in confusion before he clarified, "Love."
Kahlan hit him playfully on the shoulder. "Oh, be quiet." she chided softly.
"As you wish." he replied in mock obedience.
Anna and Ethan both laughed. "Come along now, the wedding will begin soon." Ethan said.
The youngest daughter tugged at Kahlan's skirts. "My name is Maigen. Can I walk with you?"
Kahlan took her hand and followed the First Councilor and his wife out of the wooden cottage.
... .. ... .. ... .. ...
Cara glanced at her reflection in the mirror as Grace helped her to position the veil. She couldn't keep her mind from wandering to her doubts and fears. She wasn't meant to be doing this. Mord'Sith don't marry. But she wasn't a typical Mord'Sith. And she knew in her heart that she loved Richard. She had always loved him. Of course, she wants to marry him. She shook her head to force these thoughts from her mind. But she couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. It hadn't been for quite some time.
"Aunt Cara?" Ella said, breaking Cara from her musings, "Zedd asked me to bring you this wristlet. He said you need to wear a piece of old borrowed jewelry." Ella helped her to fasten the silver and blue stoned wristlet in place. It was beautiful.
"This tradition is mindless stupidity." she insisted.
"You asked for a traditional wedding." Zedd reminded her from behind the door.
Cara stomped over to the door and almost ripped it off its hinges in her haste to open it. "I know that!" she growled. "I just don't understand all of this nonsense. I need to talk to Richard."
Zedd shook his head. "Tradition." He warned.
Cara rolled her eyes. "Forget tradition. I need to talk to him."
"Cara," Grace began gently, "Are you getting cold feet?"
"What? No." she scoffed. "Why would I be nervous? I am Mord'Sith. We don't do nervous."
"You were a Mord'Sith." Zedd corrected. "There's no shame in feeling nervous, child."
Cara sighed heavily. "I'm going to see Richard."
"And why do you need to see Richard?" Anna asked from the open doorway.
Cara whirled around in surprise, a hand flying up to clutch at her heart. "Anna." She gasped, "Don't sneak up on me like that."
"And here I thought the Mord'Sith weren't afraid of anything." she taunted.
The two women laughed. "Where are the girls?" Cara asked.
Anna gestured behind her. "They're giving Kahlan a tour of the place." She said with an air of nonchalance.
"She came?" Cara asked, awestruck. She hadn't dared to hope. Especially after what Zedd and Richard had told her about the last time they'd seen one another. It would be nice to see her old friend.
"Of course, she came. She's your friend." Anna said.
Grace, Ella, and Zedd excused themselves to make sure everything was in place for the wedding. Once Cara was left to her own devices, and the doubt crept back in.
... .. ... .. ... .. ...
Kahlan walked down to the room where Laurel told her Cara would be getting ready, froze for a moment, and then opened the door. Cara was standing in the middle of the room wearing a white flowing floor length dress with lace sleeves and sheer draped sleeve cuffs.
"Cara, you look beautiful." she said as she admired the lovely ivory garment.
"I look pregnant." Cara retorted, touching her swollen stomach absentmindedly. "Five months. You'd think I was about to explode. Listen, Kahlan. I'm really glad you came."
Kahlan smiled, "I would not have missed it for the world." She said, "Is the baby kicking yet?"
Cara nodded and placed Kahlan's hand onto her stomach. "Denna thinks it's a boy." she said.
Kahlan jumped as she felt a kick beneath her hand. "Denna?" she asked cautiously. Surely it couldn't be who she thought it was.
As if summoned by her name, Denna poked her head into the doorway. "Did you need something Cara?" Her gaze shifted to Kahlan. "Oh, Mother Confessor, it sure has been a while."
Kahlan bent down to retrieve her dagger from her boot and held it to Denna's throat. To her surprise, Cara wrenched the dagger from her grip and tossed it across the room.
Denna had the gall to laugh. "I told you she didn't care for Mord'Sith. That is the third time she has attempted to kill me." she said. "How are you feeling. The baby giving you any trouble?"
Cara groaned. "Denna, this is a wedding. You're here as a friend, not my midwife."
"Midwife? You are a midwife now?" Kahlan asked. "What, did running a brothel become too tedious for you?"
Denna bristled at Kahlan's tone of disdain. "Oh, Cara, that reminds me." She said, turning away from the confessor's tirade. "Tess has something to give you." Denna walked out of the room quickly, calling over her shoulder that she'd return shortly.
Kahlan seized the opportunity. "Cara, why is Denna here? And who is Tess?"
"She's Denna's daughter." Cara explained, "She's almost three."
"Denna is married with children?" Kahlan speculated. "What is going on here?"
Cara shook her head. "She's widowed, actually."
Kahlan took a deep breath. She did not want to talk about Denna. "How is Richard?" she asked, changing the subject.
Cara laughed. "I wouldn't know. They won't let me see him until the wedding." She said. "Listen, before Denna comes back, I wanted to apologize to you."
"For what?" Kahlan asked dumbfounded.
"Kahlan, you know what I'm talking about. I'm sorry I kissed Richard, but he kissed me back. And he was the one taking off my leathers. I never meant to hurt you." She admitted. "But I love him. And I will be good to him, I promise."
Kahlan opened her mouth to reply but her voice stuck in her throat as she processed the information she had just received. Maybe it was better not to know.
Cara blanched, taking in Kahlan's reaction to the apology. "And I shouldn't have brought it up now." She said, berating herself. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring back bad memories. I've just been feeling so awful about this whole thing lately and I wanted you to know."
Kahlan just nodded. She didn't trust her voice. The silence caused Cara to ramble on.
"I'm so sorry that we hurt you. If he hadn't returned my feelings, then I would never have acted on them. I wouldn't have even told him or anyone without that potion." She took a deep breath to calm herself. "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
Kahlan swallowed the lump in her throat. "Cara, I've visited before," she began, remembering what Rahl had told her, "why didn't you say anything then? As much as what happened between you and Richard hurts me, I consider you to be my friend. Cara, I would forgive you anything in time."
Cara wrapped her arms around Kahlan and squeezed her into a tight hug. Even though she couldn't remember her transgressions, it was bliss to be forgiven.
Denna knocked on the doorframe, and the two women reluctantly ended their embrace. The blonde toddler hobbled into the room and stretched out a fist to Cara. Inside, was a pair of sapphire earrings.
Cara gasped. "Tess, they're beautiful."
Denna shrugged off the gratitude. "They reminded me of the sapphire we were supposed to retrieve as girls. Though your vocabulary earned you a different trip than me."
Cara laughed. "Not many people would gift something to a bride because it reminded them of past torture." She said. "They really are lovely, Denna. Thank you."
Kahlan couldn't believe what she was hearing. Denna had crossed the line. "Get out!" she snarled.
Denna's smile withered. There was no mistaking the deadly threat in Kahlan's eyes. She took her daughters hand and fled from the room.
Cara stared at Kahlan in shock. "What's wrong with you?" she asked. "I can't believe you would speak to Denna like that in front of her child. She was just giving me a present."
"A present?" Kahlan scoffed, her entire body shaking with rage. "What kind of monster gives a gift to remind someone of torture?"
"Denna understands me. We've been through things you couldn't begin to comprehend. But even so, she's my friend and you have no right to tell her to leave." Cara said, "You complain about Denna reminding me of pain, but with just one touch you can call forth your power and cause an excruciating death for the both of us. But Denna didn't ask you to leave because of that. And if you can't respect her then maybe you should leave, Mother Confessor."
Kahlan recoiled as if she had been slapped. Her eyes stung with tears and a sob bubbled up in her throat. She had to find Julian. They could go back to D'Hara now and pretend nothing had happened. Coming to this wedding had been a mistake. She turned to flee but was stopped by Cara's hand on her wrist.
"Please don't go." She begged. "I don't know why I got so angry. I want you here, at my wedding. I understand why she upsets you and I'm sorry for what I said. Kahlan, I just have so many feelings all the time and I'm not used to that. I don't know how to handle it. I'm sorry."
Cara had never apologized this much in all the time Kahlan had known her. Especially unprompted. Kahlan wrapped her arms around Cara in a forgiving embrace. They were friends, and the Spirits knew the two of them had been through far worse than this.
Ella cleared her throat to announce her presence. "Aunt Cara, it's time to start the ceremony."
Kahlan excused herself as Cara took a deep breath to calm her nerves and followed her niece.
... .. ... .. ... .. ...
Richard stood at the edge of the field. He couldn't remember how or when he had gotten there. Or when he had changed into these fancy clothes. Or where he had purchased such attire. He felt a dainty tap on his shoulder and turned to see Anna, who kissed him on the cheek.
"Anna?" he said dumbly. Behind her were several rows of chairs with a thin aisle between them. The chairs were filled with several people Richard recognized and others he did not. He opened his mouth to ask Anna what was going on, but found himself unable to phrase the question, and only managed to open and close his mouth.
Anna chuckled at his speechlessness. "Don't worry Richard. She's coming now. I can't believe you're getting married." she babbled. "Did you ever think this day would come?"