She came back to him late the next morning and stood just inside his doorway. "I am sorry," she said, her eyes on the ground. "I could not accept it, but I must. I risked you, Tomas, for my own selfishness. I did not care that you might be hurt. Had you gone through the gate without me . . . " She shuddered. "You would have died." She tried to cover her heart in ice for her next words, to tell him she would leave forever if he wanted.
She looked up and for the first time noticed the changes in his house. When they'd left the night before, his belongings were set out and ready for his nephew. Now they were bundled tightly into packages meant for travel. Even his second largest loom was dismantled, packed up. Her eyes ran across it all then raced to him. It seemed she would not need to offer to leave; he was leaving her first.
"You're . . . going somewhere?" she asked, trying to keep the trembling from her voice.
He shook his head. "No, not me."
She wrinkled her forehead. "I cannot use your loom."
"No, Ivana. Not you either. Us. Together." When she didn't respond, he waved her over and turned to a piece of paper he'd set out on his table. "Look here." He pointed, and when she stepped closer she could see that it was a drawing of the lake and its surroundings.
She looked where he pointed, at a spot far above the lake.
"Look. I've been asking the elders again, and Matias says that there is a legend of this place. The story is of a land, here on this mountain." She looked again as he pointed to a range of pointed triangles. "You go up the mountains far enough, it is cold. Cold and white, and flakes of coldness fall from the sky there. No one knows where the legend came from, or even if it's true. Matias says long ago groups left the village to learn more, but no one has ever returned." He nodded in excitement. "That is where we are going."
She stared at him.
"It won't be like your home," he added apologetically. "It might not even be real. But it looks promising, yes?"