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Out on the Road

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A fire blazed pleasantly in the corner of the room, providing light and warmth for the women hidden away inside. The room had come with a tub, and as a token of thanks for the help they had given the town earlier that day, the owner of the Inn had sent a serving boy up with pails of hot water for a complimentary bath. Cara had tried to let Dahlia bathe first, but Dahlia had insisted Cara take the first turn ("You're the one who's filthy") and Cara, tired from the active day she'd had and not in the mood to argue had eventually sighed irritably and then stripped her leathers from her body and climbed into the tub.

Dahlia kneeled by the side of the wash tub and dipped a cloth into the warm water, wetting it as she brushed strands of soft golden hair off of Cara's shoulder before bringing the cloth to Cara's neck.

"You don't have to do this," Cara murmured as Dahlia began to move the cloth over her skin, gently cleaning away the grim that had come to coat it during the skirmish they had stumbled upon – and then firmly put to an end – earlier that day.

"I want to," Dahlia breathed out, sweetly pressing her lips to Cara's now glistening shoulder.

"I can do it though," Cara insisted softly, skimming her fingers restlessly across the surface of the water. "You don't have to bathe me," she stated, angling her head back so that she could see Dahlia, and then quickly looking away from her.

Dahlia stopped moving the cloth.

"Of course you can," she breathed out carefully, not quite sure what was going on in Cara's head. Not yet at least. "It's just that … you helped so many people today, Ca. I'd like to do something to help you."

Cara dipped her head down after Dahlia had spoke, but she didn't say anything, so with a soft sigh, Dahlia began to move the cloth again, determined to leave Cara to her thoughts for the moment. However, when Cara's muscles remained tense despite the soothing motions of Dahlia's hand – and the gentle kisses she occasionally dropped down on to Cara's skin – Dahlia stopped again and turned a pair of concern hazel eyes on Cara.

"Cara, what's wrong?" she asked gently.

Cara was silent again for a few seconds, thinking, but then her shoulders straightened determinedly and she spoke.

"At the temple," Cara began stiffly, "bathing a sister was a subservient act. It was an act of submission to a more dominant sister. That's … not what I want with you," Cara continued slowly, struggling to find the right words to explain her unease.

"That's not what I want either," Dahlia whispered, leaning forward to kiss Cara's shoulder again. "And that's not what this is," she stated firmly as she drew back. "When I do things like this for you, it's because I want to. It's because I love you, and this is one of the ways I have to take care of you, like you take care of me everyday. Like today," Dahlia continued softly, blinking a little against the tears forming in her eyes as she thought back to that afternoon and how scared she'd been when she'd accidentally found herself in the middle of the melee in the town square.

Dahlia gasped as Cara's hand lifted to cover her own, the contact drawing her out of her thoughts.

"You do," Cara breathed out, stroking Dahlia's hand with her thumb. "I look after the fighting, and you …" Cara breathed in deeply, her eyebrows came together in consternation, and a slightly pained expression came onto her face, "you look after my heart," she whispered, her words so faint as to be almost inaudible at the end.

Dahlia sucked in a deep breath at Cara's words and she began to blink rapidly as tears welled in her eyes, trying to hold them back. She knew how difficult it was for Cara to share such things and she didn't want to embarrass her by crying – even if they were happy tears, very happy tears.

"That was painful for you, wasn't it?" Dahlia asked lightly when she had regained control of her emotions enough to speak without her voice cracking.

Cara grunted something in response as Dahlia began to move the cloth over her skin again, and Dahlia bit down on her bottom lip to stop herself from laughing at the display.

"I'm getting better," Cara murmured a few seconds later.

The comment surprised Dahlia, she'd assumed that after saying something so sweet that Cara would do nothing but mutter one syllable words for the rest of her bath in order to regain her Mord'Sith dignity.

Cara's voice had unconsciously lifted at the end of her sentence, but Dahlia had heard the question in her tone and she knew that Cara was a bit uncertain as to whether she was doing well enough.

"You are," Dahlia whispered to her, burying her nose in Cara's hair. "You're wonderful. Thank you."

It was hard for Cara to talk about her feelings. It was a fight for her. She had to force the words past her lips, she had to beat her training into submission every time she sought to express anything tender, and it discomfited her. Dahlia could see it on her face. But Dahlia was no Mord'Sith and sometimes she needed to hear such things, and Spirits bless her, Cara knew that and she tried. She worked at it, and as the months went on the comments came more frequently and with less agony for Cara, and it meant so much to Dahlia. It meant the world to her.

"Do you know what would really help me?" Cara asked a minute later.

"If I stripped and got into the tub with you?" Dahlia replied knowingly.

Cara simply craned her head around so that she could see Dahlia's face and then she smiled.

"You're incorrigible," Dahlia muttered, but she was smiling as she looked down at Cara and without any more prompting from the blonde, Dahlia rose to her feet and began to remove her dress. However, just as she was about to slip the dress off of her shoulders, she paused. "I was thinking …"

Cara groaned in response and Dahlia frowned down at her before bending at the waist and dipping her hand into the bath water so that she could flick some of it into Cara's face.

"What were you thinking about?" Cara asked dutifully a moment later, smiling sweetly up at Dahlia as the words tumbled from her lips.

"I put you in danger today," Dahlia said seriously, her beautiful faced etched with worry as she gazed down at Cara. "I froze up and you were so worried about me that you almost got hurt."

Cara opened her mouth to respond, but Dahlia continued before she could speak.

"I want you to show me how to fight … well, at the very least how to defend myself. I need you to teach me enough that I can at least safely make my way to a spot where I can hide until the bad men go away."

Cara was silent for a moment, contemplating Dahlia's words, and then fixing her gaze on Dahlia's eyes, she said, "Dahlia."

"I insist," Dahlia interjected before Cara could continue, not sure what Cara's response was going to be but fearing the worst. "If you refuse I'll ask Kahlan."

Cara arched a golden eyebrow at her.

"I will," Dahlia stated firmly, holding Cara's eyes boldly. "So you could as well just agree," she continued primly, standing with her back straight and her chin tilted up defiantly.

"For the record, I was going to say, 'I think that's a good idea', before you interrupted me," Cara drawled wryly as she looked up at Dahlia fondly. Dahlia's defiant streak was one of the things she loved most about her. "I'll teach you. Kahlan can keep her hands to herself," Cara continued, and Dahlia smiled at her before shaking her head in amusement. "Will you get in now? Please?" she asked, saying 'please' in the most obnoxiously impatient way possible.

"Yes," Dahlia replied making a face at Cara, and then she pushed her dress just a little further off her shoulders and a few seconds later it was fluttering to the ground and pooling at her feet. "Well, shove over," Dahlia said looking down at Cara, feeling a tingle run through her body as Cara appreciatively dragged her eyes up the length of Dahlia's body.

"Yes, Mistress," Cara drawled playfully, and then she obediently rearranged her limbs so that Dahlia could slip into the tub in front of her.

Part II

Two days later …

In the fading evening light, Cara moved further into the small clearing near the place where the group had set up camp for the night. Dahlia was already in the clearing, stretching to loosen muscles that were still tense from riding during the day. Cara's lips curved up into a smile as she watched Dahlia diligently lift her arms and rotate her torso, and when Cara crept up behind her lover and grasped her hips. Dahlia squealed in surprise and a second later the sound of Cara's laughter filled the clearing.

"Barbarian," Dahlia accused whipping around to face Cara as soon as she had caught her breath. "You nearly scared me to death," she breathed out, whacking Cara in the arm as she did.

"I would have brought you back," Cara replied easily, smiling quite contently as Dahlia swatted her again. "Besides, an important part of learning how to fight is increasing your situational awareness. "

"So scaring the daylights out of me was an invaluable part of the learning process?" Dahlia asked dubiously.

Cara nodded solemnly.

"It was for your own good," she intoned soberly.

"Oh, shut up and show me something useful," Dahlia exclaimed, unable to stop herself from smiling even as she reached out to knock Cara on the arm again.

When Dahlia moved to swat her again, Cara easily caught her wrist and pulled Dahlia into her body. Dahlia gasped at the sudden movement and Cara smirked and then leaned forward, bringing their lips together in a lingering kiss that had Dahlia wilting into her.

"That," Dahlia whispered breathlessly a minute later, "was not exactly what I had in mind."

"Then you should have been more specific," Cara responded, licking her lips as her eyes dropped down to look at Dahlia's. "You asked for something useful, and my mouth has many uses."

"Believe me, I know," Dahlia breathed out, biting down on her bottom lip and chewing on it lightly as she thought about how talented Cara's mouth was. "But you're supposed to be teaching me how to defend myself from ruffians, not how to give into them."

Cara made a vaguely displeased murmuring sound and leaned forward, kissing Dahlia one more.

"Okay," Cara sighed a few seconds later, taking a step away from Dahlia to make it easier for her to resist touching her. "Let's teach you how to not die," she declared, and despite herself, Dahlia's eyes crinkled at the corners and she laughed. "Just so you know, you're off to a terrible start," Cara remarked a moment later. "Giggling is a horrible line of defence."

"Oh, I don't know," Dahlia drawled playfully, eyes twinkling in the moonlight. "It seems to disarm you."

Cara scowled at her for a moment, but she couldn't keep it up for long and when her lips helplessly curved up, Dahlia grinned at her winsomely.

"Alright, come over here," Cara said, holding her hand out to Dahlia a moment later, her voice a bit gruffer than before as she tried to focus her mind on the task at hand.

Dahlia grasped her hand and stepped towards her and Cara placed her where she wanted her before moving to stand behind Dahlia.

"Okay, we'll start with …"


Dahlia gasped as her back connected with the ground. Cara had helped guide her to the grass after knocking her feet out from under her so Dahlia wasn't hurt, but the sudden drop left her head spinning. She was disoriented her for a few seconds and when she next became aware of her surroundings, she discovered that Cara was straddling her and had her gloved hand at Dahlia's neck.

Cara looked beautiful astride her like that. Her hair was slightly tussled from their training, and her angelic face held a fetching flush from the physical exertion of the lesson she'd been giving. She looked regal as she straddled Dahlia, she looked powerful and commanding, and suddenly Dahlia wanted her with a desperate passion.

"Cara," Dahlia whispered, lifting her hand to stroke the back of the one Cara had at her neck. "I don't want to practice anymore," she breathed out, her chest rising and falling as she looked up into Cara's eyes.

Dahlia's eyes were burning with desire, and Cara wet her lips as she gazed down at her lover. She held Dahlia's gaze intensely for a few more seconds and then she bucked against Dahlia suggestively as she tightened her hold on Dahlia's neck just the slightest bit. Dahlia's eyelashes fluttered at the threat implied by the tightening of Cara's fingers and at the implications of the movement of her hips and she shuddered as a soft sound of want escaped from her parted lips.

"If you don't want to practice, what do you want to do?" Cara asked Dahlia as her gloved thumb stroked Dahlia's throat contemplatively.

Taking a page from Cara's book, Dahlia decided to use actions instead of words to answer Cara's question. Keeping her eyes locked with Cara's, Dahlia reached up and took hold of the hand Cara had on her throat and slowly, deliberately, tugged at the fingers of the glove until she was able to remove it. She dropped the glove to the ground nearby, and then she brought Cara's hand up to her lips and licked the tips of Cara's ring and middle fingers before she sucked them into her mouth.

Cara's eyes hooded and her lips parted as Dahlia sucked on her fingers. Dahlia was still watching her, still gazing up at her as she wet Cara's fingers and Cara shifted against her as liquid heat began to pool between her legs. Submission always pleased her, but willing submission excited her almost beyond reason. It had been so before with servant girls, barmaids, and lesser sisters, but the effect was even stronger with Dahlia. When Dahlia looked up at her with those eyes, so wide, so longing, so trusting and full of love, it took a great amount of control for Cara not to rip Dahlia's clothes from her body and take her at once.

"Use them," Dahlia whispered after she finally pulled Cara's fingers from between her lips.

Cara breathed in deeply and shuddered. She loved it when Dahlia was in a mood like this. She had gained much appreciation for making love during her time with Dahlia. Tenderness was far more fulfilling than she previously would have thought. But she had rougher passions within in her, and it excited her greatly when Dahlia was in a mood to let Cara take her without much romance.

Cara shifted off of Dahlia to give the brunette room to move, and then meeting Dahlia's eyes again, she husked, "Open your legs."

Dahlia breathed in sharply, and then sucked her bottom lip into her mouth as she slowly spread her legs apart, and then, eyes still locked with Cara's, she pulled her dress up until it was bunched up at her hips.

Dahlia's saliva had cooled and dried on Cara's fingers in the night air by the time Dahlia opened herself up to Cara, but when Cara dipped her hand between Dahlia legs and slid her fingers beneath her undergarments, she found that, as she had suspected, Dahlia actions had been for show and not out of necessity. Dahlia was more than ready to take her fingers. Extra lubrication had not been necessary but it was appreciated – Cara had enjoyed the show, just as Dahlia had known she would.

Despite the readiness of Dahlia's body, Cara did not immediately give Dahlia what she wanted. Instead she simply played Dahlia with her fingers for a while, teasing her flesh as she stared down at Dahlia, making her wetter and wetter until finally Dahlia released a shuddering breath and whispered, "Please."

The moment the last syllable of the word left Dahlia's lips, Cara's fingers were at her opening, and then she pushed inside in one smooth motion, slowly giving Dahlia the full length of her fingers before pulling out and then firmly entering Dahlia again.

"Look at me," Cara commanded when Dahlia's eyes fluttered closed as she lost herself in the sensations Cara's fingers were causing. "Keep looking at me," she ordered, and though it was a struggle for her with Cara's ring and middle fingers pumping into her faster and harder, Dahlia forced her eyes open and looked up into Cara's beautiful face.

Dahlia's lips parted and her breath started to come out in harsh pants. She kept her eyes open and focused on Cara's face, but as her pleasure mounted a glassy expression came into her eyes and Cara knew that Dahlia was aware of very little besides the feel of her fingers inside of her.

Cara thought that she looked beautiful, beyond beautiful. Dahlia was ravishing and Cara could not resist any longer and she leaned down to kiss Dahlia, thoroughly claiming her mouth as her fingers continued to claim Dahlia below.

"Spirits!" Dahlia gasped into Cara's mouth as her orgasm neared.

Cara stopped moving her fingers and drew back from Dahlia's lips.

"The Spirits aren't the ones taking you. I am," Cara declared, looking down at Dahlia, lording over her like a Mistress. "Credit where credit is due, Dahlia," Cara continued, and even in the throes of passion Dahlia's lips curved up in amusement for a second before she bucked her hips into Cara's hand and moaned, "Cara."

That was more like it, but Cara kept her fingers still inside of Dahlia. She knew it was a bit mean, but Dahlia begged so prettily and she wanted to hear more.

"Cara," Dahlia breathed out, frustration creeping into her tone as she bucked her hips again. "Cara!" she exclaimed, her eyes flashing as she looked up at the blonde. "Cara," she moaned longingly, wiggling on the ground and then bucking her hips again. "Cara," she sighed pleadingly, looking up at Cara with eyes that shimmered, threatening tears. "Please," Dahlia whispered.

A single tear slipped from the corner of Dahlia's eyes, and Cara's heart ached for her. She leaned down and pressed her lips to Dahlia's cheek, kissing the drop of moisture away and then she took mercy on Dahlia and began to move her fingers again.

Once she had regained her rhythm, she leaned down to kiss Dahlia once more, but Dahlia surged up to meet her lips and this time Dahlia took control of the kiss, clutching at Cara as she kissed her with abandon, small sounds escaping from her throat into Cara's mouth as Cara began to drive her to the edge again.

"Cara!" Dahlia cried out and Cara moaned into her mouth as she felt Dahlia inner muscles begin to convulse around her fingers. "Cara," Dahlia moaned kissing at Cara's cheek, and throat, her teeth nipping at Cara's jaw. "Ca," she gasped, trembling. So close, she was so close.

"Let go," Cara whispered knowing Dahlia only needed the slightest encouragement to tip over the edge. "I love you," she breathed out against the corner of Dahlia's mouth, "Come for me," she rasped, and the moment the words were past her lips, Dahlia's eyes squeezed shut and she cried out as she came apart.

"Mm," Dahlia sighed contently, a large smile plastering itself across her face, her body continuing to tremble and shake even though the crest of her orgasm had passed.

"Satisfied?" Cara asked, smiling with smug affection as she stroked Dahlia's cheek gently with the hand that wasn't still between Dahlia's legs working her down.

"Almost," Dahlia whispered.

Cara's brows creased together in consternation and her lips turned down slightly in a frown.

"Almost?" she questioned.

"Almost," Dahlia repeated, the corners of her lips twitching as she tried to contain a smile.

She reached out and brought her hand between Cara's legs, cupping her.

"There's still work that needs to be done before I'm completely satisfied," Dahlia husked as she pressed her thumb hard against Cara's crotch so that she could feel the touch through her leathers.

And then Dahlia's hands were on Cara's belt, undoing it with expert haste, and Cara's eyes hooded in anticipation of Dahlia's mouth between her legs.


"You know," Dahlia said thoughtfully, resting her chin on Cara's stomach so that she could see her lover's face. "Maybe I should have asked Kahlan to teach me."

"Why?" Cara asked frowning. "Do you think Kahlan is better trained?" she asked and there was a touch of vulnerability in her voice that made Dahlia wanted to slide up her body and kiss her forever.

"No," Dahlia breathed out, placing a gentle kiss just above Cara's bellybutton. "I just think she would prove less of a distraction," she continued, kissing Cara's stomach again to prove her point.

Cara snickered at that, and then stroking her fingers through Dahlia's hair she sighed, "We did … digress, didn't we?"

"Just a little," Dahlia agreed, smiling before she kissed her way up Cara's stomach so that she could rest her head on her chest, just above her heart. "It was a nice digression though," she sighed happily.

"Very nice," Cara purred contently, a smile spreading across her lips she stared up at the stars. "We're going to have to move soon," Cara warned Dahlia as the brunette snuggled up against her.

Cara was in danger of relaxing herself and she knew if she was feeling the effects of their love-making and post-coital resting that Dahlia was likely to fall asleep and she did not care to have to explain what had happened to the others if she had to carry Dahlia back to camp.

"Why though?" Dahlia moaned. "I like it here," she mumbled against Cara's skin.

"It's dangerous to lounge around in the woods snuggling," Cara said reasonably.

"You're Cara Mason," Dahlia replied. "You'll beat any bad guys that show up and I'll … I'll hide over there until you're done," Dahlia said pointing to a clump of bushes to their left.

"I'm naked," Cara pointed out.

"Like that would stop you," Dahlia sassed and Cara smirked in response.

It was true. She was deadly without clothes on as well.

"We should still move soon," Cara said a few seconds later.

"Okay," Dahlia sighed, but she clearly wasn't thrilled about the idea. "We need to find another Inn," Dahlia murmured a few seconds later. "I miss having you naked beside me for hours on end."

"So that you can molest me to your heart's content?" Cara asked smirking.

"Exactly," Dahlia sighed happily. "Molesting you is fun."

"We'll be at the Palace soon and we'll have private chambers there. If it'll make you happy I'll never wear clothes when I'm inside of them," Cara replied smiling down at Dahlia when Dahlia tilted her head up to see you. "But I have to warn you, it will lead to debauchery, lots of debauchery, debauchery loud enough for people to hear down the hall."

"That sounds perfect," Dahlia breathed out dreamily and Cara chuckled before reaching out to stroke Dahlia's cheek and then gently guiding Dahlia's face up so that she could kiss her.

"We should …" Cara began.

"I've heard this song before," Dahlia drawled cutting her off. "I'm getting up, I'm getting up," she continued, shifting away from Cara's body so that she could stand up.

Cara lounged on the ground for a few moments longer, watching Dahlia stand and stretch with appreciation, and then she rose herself and began to gather her clothes.

"I look like I've been ravished in the woods," Dahlia sighed a few minutes later as she looked down at her rumpled dress. "We can't go back to camp looking like this," she continued noticing smudges of dirt on her skin from lounging on the ground with Cara after their love-making.

"They do know what we're doing when we go out to 'gather supplies'. This will be no different," Cara said, amused. "They'll assume I ravished you even if you don't look like it. We're among friends," Cara continued smiling. "There's no need to look presentable."

"Yes, well, thank you for that. But I'd still like to take a walk down to the stream," Dahlia replied sounding completely unimpressed. "Kahlan always manages to return from her 'evening strolls' with Richard looking immaculate."

"Richard must not be as … vigorous as I am," Cara replied smugly.

"You are very vigorous," Dahlia agreed, and she could stop herself from smiling as her mind drifted back to how they'd spent the last candle mark.

"Mord'Sith train for endurance as well as strength and I have both in abundance," Cara declared proudly and Dahlia looked over at her for moment and then laughed.

"Wonderful," Dahlia breathed out, "then you can use some of that Mord'Sith energy to walk me to the stream."

Cara's shoulders slumped.

"Fine," she sighed.

"Don't pout."

"I'm not pouting," Cara grumbled as Dahlia carefully drew her belt around her waist and then began to buckle it for her.

"I may not be a Confessor, but I have eyes. I know that's a lie," Dahlia teased as she stepped back from Cara, taking a moment to admire the fine figure that Cara cut in her uniform, even as disheveled as she was.

"Then you need to get your eyes checked," Cara huffed as Dahlia took her hand and entwined their fingers, "Because Mord'Sith don't pout."

"Checked by whom?" Dahlia asked as they began to walk. "I'm the healer."

"That's really sad then," Cara said in response, "because your eyes aren't working properly and there's nobody to help you," she continued and Dahlia couldn't stop herself from laughing.

"Maybe Zedd knows a spell," Dahlia speculated.

Cara made a disgruntled sound in her throat.

"I don't want Zedd doing magic anywhere near you. He might undo you again … or turn you into a turnip."

"But what about my eyes?" Dahlia asked. "I'm sorry Cara, but I can't go around hallucinating people pouting left, right and center. If you don't admit that you were pouting I'll have no choice but seek out Zedd's help."

"Fine, I was pouting," Cara said dully, "and now you've made me do it again," she added turning her face towards Dahlia, consciously pouting her lips as she did. "I'm going to push you in the stream," she added petulantly.

"You're so cute," Dahlia cooed in response, her eyes crinkling at the corners as she smiled at Cara.

"I love it when you say things like that," Cara drawled looking over to meet Dahlia's eyes.

"Really?" Dahlia asked.

"No," Cara replied darkly, and Dahlia, charmed as ever by Cara's surliness, leaned over and placed a quick kiss on Cara's cheek.

"You know, I think you're being a little hard on Zedd," Dahlia commented as they neared the stream. "Sure he got that undoing spell wrong a bunch of times, but you have to admit that it worked out in the …"

They continued to the stream hand in hand, talking about silly things, and when Dahlia finally declared herself fit for the public once more they headed back to camp.


"How was training?" Kahlan asked curiously, smiling up at the two women as they rejoined the rest of the group.

"Vigorous," Dahlia replied and beside her Cara grinned and snickered.

"Right," Kahlan drawled, eying the two of them knowingly. "There's food," she continued a moment later nodding to the pot sitting beside the fire. "I'm sure you've both worked up an appetite," she continued suggestively, making Dahlia's skin flush prettily, while Cara's lips turned up smugly at the corners.

"I told you they knew," Cara whispered to Dahlia as they headed towards the stew pot.

"Oh, shut up," Dahlia muttered.

There was a difference between knowing and seeing, and the others didn't need to see evidence of Cara's vigor.

Cara laughed and then angled herself out of the way as Dahlia took a playful swipe at her.

"Looks like we're going to have to do some work developing your reflexes, Da," Cara sassed, walking backwards so that she could see Dahlia's face as she moved towards her saddlebag to retrieve their bowls.

"Be careful Cara, I sleep beside you. Your situational awareness is excellent, but you've trained yourself not to react to me. Who knows what mischief I could get up to while you slumber," Dahlia said winking. "Like say, a kohl mustache scratched onto your upper lip, perhaps?"

Cara's only response was a deep, unimpressed frown.

"Well, I for one think you'd look dashing," Zedd declared grandly turning to look at Cara. "You have the cheekbones for it, my dear."

Cara glared at Zedd and Kahlan shook her head at Dahlia.

"Look at what you've done," Kahlan murmured, and Dahlia had the good grace to look bashful before she whispered, "Sorry. Sometimes I forget how they are."

Cara and Zedd needed very little provocation to start squabbling like old ladies.

"… come closer and say that Wizard," Cara said threateningly as she glared at Zedd.

"Why? Is there something wrong with your hearing?" Zedd asked arching a bushy eyebrow.

"No. But something's going to be wrong with your face after I rearrange it," Cara declared.

Dahlia sighed and took a seat next to Kahlan as Richard moved over to try and manage the brabble that was developing between Cara and Zedd.

"You know," Dahlia began conversationally, looking over at Kahlan, "sometimes when we go to gather supplies we're actually gathering supplies."

"And sometimes when Richard and I go for evening strolls we're really just enjoying the night air," Kahlan said meeting Dahlia's eyes.

"Really?" Dahlia asked smirking.

"No," Kahlan giggled and Dahlia smiled wider and then giggled too.

"Did you actually get any sort of training done?" Kahlan inquired when their laughter had abated.

"A little at first … but I distracted her pretty early on," Dahlia confided lowly and Kahlan smirked. "That was terrible of me really. I'm the one who asked for lessons. But she's so cute when she's earnest."

And so Dahlia and Kahlan chatted quietly as Zedd and Cara traded insults around Richard. Then, when Zedd and Cara finally got bored of arguing with each other, Cara continued on her way to her saddlebag and retrieved bowls for herself and Dahlia.

After that, Dahlia stood up to join Cara by the stew pot, and Richard walked around the campfire and took up the spot Dahlia had vacated beside Kahlan. Cara filled a bowl for Dahlia and then for herself, and as Dahlia handed her a spoon, Zedd declared, "This is a perfect night for a story."

Three sets of curious eyes – and one set of narrowed eyes – turned towards him and Zedd started his tale as Cara and Dahlia began to eat.

The End