Cara looked up from the letter to meet two pairs of sky blue eyes. Kahlan had her infant daughter cradled securely in her arms. But while Mary just looked tired, Kahlan seemed wistful. She stepped closer to Cara, gaze flicking to the letter and away: too polite to read over her friend's shoulder, but curious.
"Grace is fine," said Cara.
"And her family?"
"Also," Cara said shortly. Grace had written a lot of tedious detail about her husband and children, but what it boiled down to was they were all alive and healthy, and what else mattered?
Cara had neither forgiven nor forgotten Grace's husband's spirited attempt to see her confessed for every crime ever committed by a Mord'Sith, but the leagues upon leagues separating the People's Palace from Stowcroft gave her the distance to merely wish him mild misfortune.
"You should go home for a visit," Kahlan suggested. "Spend some time with your sister. She seemed like a lovely woman."
Cara did not answer Kahlan's words. She spoke instead to the sadness underlying the Mother Confessor's voice.
"No word from Aydindril, then?"
"No." Kahlan shifted Mary up further against her shoulder as the baby began bored fussing. "I mean yes, but—Dennee hasn't…" Her voice trailed off, and the words hovered unhappily on the air.
"It's my fault," Cara said. "If I hadn't…"
If you hadn't made friends with your sister's killer, Dennee would write you long boring letters. She might even come to D'Hara. She hates you because of me.
Cara felt a warm hand grip her shoulder. "Cara, no," Kahlan insisted. "It's not your fault—if anything, it's Richard's."
Cara turned from pensive contemplation of Grace's firm handwriting. Mistress Nathair had certainly taught the Mason girls well, she thought. Grace could read and write as well as any Mord'Sith.
As Cara shifted in her chair, she felt a stabbing pain in her scalp. When Kahlan had bent to grasp her shoulder, Mary had seized a handful of her hair in one tiny fist. Cara relaxed into the pain, letting it ground her. It wasn't as effective as her agiels—and considerably less dignified—but she'd take Mary's rebuke happily, especially if Kahlan refused to put the blame where it belonged.
"What do you mean, it's Richard's fault? Dennee likes Richard," Cara said reasonably.
"She likes Richard, yes," agreed Kahlan. The skin around her eyes tightened, giving a prelude of the wrinkles that might one day mar that perfect face. "Dennee and I were trained to protect the Seeker. But 'Rahl' is a name almost as feared and hated as the Keeper in the Midlands. And Richard is Lord Rahl now."
Cara opened her mouth, and then shut it. There wasn't anything she could say that would help. A part of her wanted to kill Dennee again just for giving Kahlan's eyes that haunted look, but she knew how much Kahlan loved her sister.
"Dennee and I did everything together," Kahlan said. "Before I knew Richard, she was the one person I trusted most in the whole world. Someone I could count on."
You can count on me, Cara managed not to say. She shifted in her chair, and felt several hairs part company with her scalp in Mary's strong grip.
"My sisters…" Cara said. She hesitated, and then went on. "Among the Mord'Sith, our strongest loyalty was to each other. The Sisters of the Agiel are not my kin, but we are closer than Grace and I ever were."
Kahlan did not ask why Cara had spoken in the past tense. No doubt she assumed that Cara's strongest loyalty now was to Richard.
In fact, she didn't say anything. She just smiled shyly at Cara. Her eyes had that filmy look that made Cara think of sunlight on the ocean.
When Kahlan shifted Mary higher in her arms again, more of Cara's hair went with the child. Kahlan frowned and disentangled her daughter's fingers from her friend's hair.
"Thank you," said Cara.
Kahlan smiled more broadly this time. "What are sisters for?"
Cara smiled back as Kahlan swept out of the room.
When they had fought to save the Land of the Living from the Keeper, the Mother Confessor had needed a protector, and Cara had done everything she could to fill that role.
If what Kahlan needed now was a sister, then Cara would be hers in that way, too.
Cara was Kahlan's in whatever way she needed.