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"Richard! Richard, can you hear me?" 

Everything felt amplified in the dark; her ragged breaths, the sticky mud floor beneath her knees that was slowly soaking through her dress to her skin and the horrid stench of air that wasn’t mixed with sunlight – they were being kept somewhere deep underground.

"Kahlan?" She squeezed her eyes shut tight in relief, and let loose a murmured thanks from tight lips.

She had been knocked out early in the scuffle and woken up once while they were transporting them with a blindfold wrapped around her eyes. She had been hit again once she started struggling and now had no idea where they were.

His voice sounded so far away. "Where are you?"

"I'm here Kahlan, I'll get us outta this, I promise." Now that she had calmed slightly, she could make out the sound of dripping water to the north of her.

“Are you hurt?”

“Just tied up. I’ve been trying to saw through, you were quiet for quite a long time.” In his voice she hears the worry he must have felt while she was unconscious.

She wanted to reassure him that she was fine (although her dress had seen better days). Instead, she asked about Zedd.

"There was a Mord-Sith that overpowered him. He was taken up a few hours ago wearing a Rada’Han." Richard’s voice trailed off for fear of his friend and any other time, Kahlan would talk to him about it until she was sure he was feeling better. But she was too worried herself to notice the anxiety in his tone.

She was desperately trying to twist and turn her body to sit upright so that she might feel her own neck.

After a few more moments of struggle she was satisfied that the only thing around her neck was merely the same rough rope that bound her hands and ankles. She tried not to think what it meant that Rahl was not afraid of her anymore. Clearly her powers were now labelled as less threatening now that he couldn’t be controlled by them.

She was getting ready to call again to Richard when she felt something cold and hard against her skin. She jerked away before she heard Richard’s soothing voice.

“Kahlan, it’s just me. I’m going to try and cut the ropes at your feet.”

His hand rubbed against her skin on the backward strokes and she wanted to stop his wrist, to form his fingers into a chain around her ankle and move both their hands slowly up her leg. It’s a silly thought, her arms are still trapped behind her back, yet she flexes her fingers to keep the blood pumping and fight back the tingling sensation that has started.

She’s vaguely aware that he’s taking his time, careful not to nick her with the stone and she feels very vulnerable, trusting him to do this when she can’t even see the crinkles around his eyes that mean he is concentrating.

She thinks that her dress might be torn but knows that he’s lifted it up above her knee. She never for a second thinks that he’s purposely taking his time. Never feels the heat of his imagined gaze as it travels up her body and never breathes deeper, causing her chest to rise and fall more dramatically. It’s just that the air is thinner down here, that’s all.

She’s certainly not too busy dwelling on thoughts of another day when they were trapped in the dark to notice that he’s stopped.

“There, can you move now?”

“Huh? Oh, yes. Great.” She moves to straighten her legs in front of her and shifts away from the wall to allow him better access.

“Maybe you should undo my blindfold before you untie my hands. The better I know our surroundings, the better I can help plan our escape.”

He leaned against her, his arms circling her to reach the knot at the back of her head. Instead of undoing her blindfold, he carefully pulls away the rope that had been constricting her neck.

He places his palm over the red lines the rope created and blows warm air against her neck. She thinks that she could live in this moment forever when a loud crash booms above them and the resulting shockwaves jostle them together while rock rains down on them both.

Without her vision to orient her, she has to use her other senses to tell her what’s happened, but she’s distracted by the feeling of Richard covering her. He must have fallen on top of her after the explosion upstairs and she hears him groan slightly, rubbing at some part of his body where a large rock must have hit him.

With no vision to correct her, her whole world is filled with the delicious ecstasy that is Richard pressed flush against her own. His leg shifts between her legs, nudging them apart and she closes her eyes then, even under the blindfold. A part of her is afraid that he was just shielding her and that in a moment he’ll move to get off her and the hard warmth of him will be gone.

She can’t know for sure, but by the feeling of his breath ghosting across her skin, she guesses that their faces are only centimetres apart. She opens her mouth to breathe, finding it hard with his weight on her chest. She feels like she’s waiting for something and as the seconds tick by, the anticipation builds as her world shrinks to just the two of them.

“Richard...” 

He silences her with a kiss that she’s unprepared for but after a moment, she responds enthusiastically, her body coming to life under his touch. Their kisses are sloppy and uncoordinated with the blindfold so that she kisses his chin, his nose and his cheek. It turns every time their lips make successful contact into a victory. Fireworks burst behind her lids in celebration and a slow coil of heat begins its journey in her belly.

There’s a thrill of not knowing where or when he will kiss her next. His fingers move to cup her face and his thumb gently traces circles on her cheek as she relaxes into the situation. The pain on her shoulder blades from her arms being pinned under them both keeps her from losing control. She could shift them both, but she trusts Richard to untie her eventually and for now, it’s a relief not to caution him about getting carried away since she can’t wrap her arms around him as she so desperately wants to. She is forced to lie still and wait as he patiently kisses her with skill.

Richard has her more than covered and her head is spinning from the pure pleasure of being free of responsibility. She can let go and enjoy the feeling of his lips and tongue against her own without fear or guilt. She wants to direct him to where her body most wants him, but this isn’t the time, this is Richard’s show and she slowly lets her body relax into that fact.

Richard has lifted himself slightly off of her, putting the majority of his weight on his arms that he rests by her head and now he must dip his face down to meet hers. Strangely, she doesn’t find it easier to breathe.

Kahlan is surprised that with her body being barraged by the bliss that is Richard that her other senses can still function, but with her eyes made useless under the blindfold, her hearing has improved and she can hear the noise of fighting outside.

“Richard, someone’s coming.”

With a quick tug, the blindfold falls away from her eyes and for a second the world is still so impossibly dark that she’s afraid that she’s lost her vision. However, upon adjustment, she can see a weak, flickering light coming through from under the door. It’s not enough to give her the sense of how large the room is that they’re being held in though, so she focuses on the sound of steps approaching instead.

Richard has already loosened the knots tying her wrists and the rope slips away and he’s grasping her hand, ready for battle.

“Well, hurry up! We don’t have all day!” Booms Zedd’s voice after he kicks in the door. The sudden burst of light from the hallway temporarily confuses her so she just follows Richard’s firm hand, tugging until she can smell fresh air.