When things were slow, and it was easy to forget the important and dangerous nature of their quest, Kahlan would notice Cara looking at her. Well, not quite at her, but at her hair. It was only in brief moments that she caught glimpses of it before Cara would snap back to attention, a mask of indifference quickly closing off her features.
It puzzled her.
As the Mother Confessor, her hair was longest in all the Midlands, flowing full and gracefully over her shoulders and back. It signaled to all her position and authority, but Cara had never shown sincere deference to her role.
It was only a night around the fire, when Cara was slower than usual in realizing that Kahlan was aware of her gaze, that the Confessor realized what the furtive glances were about.
As Cara stared at Kahlan’s long dark hair, her gloved fingers ran through her own. Her face contorting subtly when the hair stopped at her shoulders.
In that moment, Kahlan felt as though she understood.
A few days later in early evening, they were settling down for the night when Cara started to walk off, presumably to check the perimeter of their intended campsite. Without a word, Kahlan followed her.
“Is there something you need Confessor?” Cara did not turn around to speak, but she had waited until they would not be overheard by Richard and Zedd before saying anything.
Kahlan stood wearily, unsure if this was appropriate for their relationship. Her hand went to her own hair as Cara turned and raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Cara would you braid my hair?”
Kahlan said it slowly as if that might add a measure of calm to the interaction.
Cara’s eyes narrowed in confused suspicion.
Kahlan let her hand fall to her side and took a deep breath.
“It’s been getting in my face too much when we fight. I think I would like to try it pulled back and see if that improves my reaction time.”
Cara bit the inside of her cheek seemingly pondering what Kahlan had said.
“I have noticed you’re a bit slow in responding to attacks from the left.”
Kahlan pursed her lips into a thin line and bit her tongue to keep from ruffling at the provocation.
“So would you?”
Cara still chewing her cheek, tilted her head and appraised the woman before her.
“Can’t you do it?” She huffed “I don’t really see why you would need my help.” As she spoke she turned and began to walk off.
But Kahlan would not allow Cara to dictate the way their encounters went, least of all this one.
“It’s too long.”
Cara stopped then and half turned to look at the Confessor.
“My hair, it’s too long and I can’t reach enough to do a proper braid.”
There was a pause and she was sure that Cara would just roll her eyes and walk away.
Instead, she nodded her head slowly and moved closer to Kahlan.
“Well, sit down and turn around.”
Kahlan turned and lowered herself to the ground, back straight as she felt Cara kneel behind her.
It suddenly felt very quiet as gloved fingers ran through Kahlan’s hair, smoothing tangles and unweaving knots. Then Cara pulled her hands away.
Kahlan angled her head to look behind her.
“Don’t do a…” She wasn’t sure if specifying might offend Cara “…a tight braid”
“I won’t do it like that of a Mord’Sith if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Kahlan was more relaxed then.
“You’re the Mother Confessor, a Mord’Sith braid would be ill suited for you”
Kahlan smiled, and the Mord’Sith began to weave her hair together, long strands joining compliantly beneath Cara’s surprisingly gentle touch.
She handled the brunette’s hair almost reverently.
Kahlan should not have been too surprised. In D’Hara, the Mord’Siths’ braid was almost as significant as the long tresses worn by Confessors. Kahlan inwardly shuddered at the shame and pain she would feel if her hair had been hacked off by her sisters. It was not something she envied Cara.
They sat in silence, and Kahlan found she could almost relax under the other woman touch as her hair was carefully plaited.
It was only when Cara’s fingers brushed against the nape of her neck did Kahlan realize that she had removed her gloves. The fragment of a second in which their skin connected startled her. A shiver went through Kahlan’s body as she felt the delicacy of Cara’s fingers, exposed without her leathers. It made her wonder, if only for a moment, about the rest of Cara. If all her skin was equally soft and tender, belying her strength and ferocity.
The sun had set by the time Cara finished, and Kahlan was slightly surprised that Richard hadn’t come looking for them.
As Cara backed away and stood, the absence of her body heat was evident as the evening’s coolness settled around them.
She reached up to touch her hair, pleased at the flowing braid Cara had done. It was loose enough to leave some hair falling around and framing her face. Yet, she knew she could trust Cara’s handiwork to hold in battle.
Kahlan grinned at her, and Cara nodded in response a shadow of a smile passing over her features.
They walked back to camp together in silence. Cara called out, alerting Richard and Zedd when they neared, so as not to unnecessarily put them on guard.
When they were close enough to be set aglow by the firelight, Richard started at Kahlan’s hair.
“Kahlan! Your hair.”
She smiled at him, eyes drifting to Cara who had taken a seat across from them.
“Cara did it. Do you like it?”
Richard grinned boyishly and kissed her cheek. Kahlan watched as Cara focused on something at the heart of the fire.
“I like it however you like it. Though I’ll miss seeing it down if you decide to make this a permanent switch.”
He gently touched one of the strands that hung around her face.
“Maybe. What do you think Cara?”
Cara glanced up briefly and rolled her eyes before looking back into the fire.
“I think that if the Seeker and the Mother Confessor want to spend their time talking about such frivolities, then the Keeper of the Underworld needn’t worry about being defeated.”
The words were not overly harsh, but rather said with the brusque tone they were growing used to from Cara. Richard and Kahlan only smiled in response.
Though Kahlan continued to wear her hair down almost exclusively, she would occasionally ask Cara to braid it for her. The Mord’Sith might roll her eyes or grumble a complaint, but she always agreed, working Kahlan’s long soft hair with gentle and deft hands.
It seemed to Kahlan that in the wake of that night Cara no longer looked at her hair. At times, she would notice the Mord’Sith looking at her, but that was a puzzle she had yet to solve.