"Lorna? I think she lives at the end of the bridge." A woman said. Josep nodded his thanks and followed the trail. Gamaraf… Josep would have never thought she'd move here. He knocked on the door and heard movement in the house. The door opened and his mother stepped out. She was still pretty, but in an old way. She wasn't yet in her forties, but she wasn't the woman he remembered either.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"How?" he asked quietly. "How did Gabby die?"
Lorna seemed to remember him then. She stepped out and embraced her son.
"I thought you'd die too!" she cried into his shirt. When she finally looked at him again, she asked him, "Did you ever find your father?"
"No." he said, following her into the house.
"Mother, I have to go now. I can't stay at home for the rest of my life."
"Where shall you go?" she asked her nineteen year old son. He shrugged.
"Maybe I'll go to Aramof."
"Come back in time to marry Me." said a sweet voice. Josep turned and looked at his fiancée. She smiled at him and he hugged her, twirling her around. He finally looked at her.
"I will, my love. I will return safely." He said, and Lorna began crying.
"That's what your father said to me…" she sniffed. Then she smiled and stood with Alana to watch her son ride away.
Klasta clung to Josep as all of her strength vanished. He caught her before she sunk into the dreary depths of the water.
"Are you okay?" he asked. She nodded.
"Doing that makes me tired."
"Then why did you do it?"
"Because I knew it was the only way I'd ever learn anything about you." She laughed. "I'm so sorry."
"You promised Alana… I should have never let you come with me."
"But aren't you glad you did?"
"That question can go either way."
"You know what way I mean it to go."
"Yes I'm glad I let you come."
"Then marry me," he whispered in her ear.
"Josep, I couldn't possibly marry you. I'm but sixteen!" she cried. "And I can't fall in love…"
"I promised myself I wouldn't let my attraction for you interfere…" she muttered as she began swimming away. Josep swam after her and caught her arm, pulling her towards him. He held the back of her head and kissed her. She squirmed against him. He was too strong for her at that moment, seeing how she was weak.
"Listen…" he said into her hair. Her struggling ceased and she stilled. "… I don't care if you promised yourself you wouldn't 'fall in love with me'. But we are in love, and you can't do a thing to change that."
"I'll change it if I want." She said, stubborn as always. Josep sighed.
"Why? Why torture us both?" he asked, letting her go, but still holding her hands. She shrugged and looked into the water.
"I'm but a child still; I don't know what I want. Plus, you have Alana waiting for you in Gamaraf."
"Then why did you ask me to stay here? I could have been home and married by now!" he yelled, letting her go completely. She turned and swam to shore. Josep followed her. She hastily turned to face Josep, who was watching her.
"Then leave!" she cried. "I don't— I can't— love you or anyone else!"
"Why not?" he asked, stepping towards her. She reached for her dagger, but it wasn't there. Josep held it on his belt.
"Because, I can't touch a man! You saw what I did to Alon." She yelled.
"It would happen to a woman; too, if they gave you reason enough to hurt them."
"But love makes people weak. And that's something I can't be right now."
"I have to live!" she screamed. Josep nodded.
"I once promised to protect you if you let me ride along your side." He whispered, holding her arms above her elbows. "And you let me, but saying you didn't need protection. You let me come with you, and I owe you protection. As your husband I could protect you with my life. As your guy friend, I am only around you every so often. No! I'm not forcing marriage on you, Klasta. Not by any means. But I am offering you something you'll never want, or feel that you need. Yes, you are too young to know what you want. But you have an idea, do you not?"
"Yes." She managed to say.
"What is it you want?"
"Happiness." She said ever so softly. "But I can't have you. I'll never be able to have you."
"Because you hold yourself out of my reach!" Jonkai walked to them.
"You'd never understand why…" she said, looking at him at last.
"Maybe not, even if you explained it to me. I know you need your 'space' right now. And I'll give it to you. But even on good reasons, I won't wait for you forever." He said, getting onto Jonkai. He held his hand out for Klasta, and pulled her up.
"Klasta, what is it that bothers Josep?" Jasmyn asked. Klasta shrugged.
"I don't know." She said, sighing and looking at her older sister.
"Well, I'll leave it at that, even though I know you know." She smiled sweetly. "Aren't you going to ask how Alon is?"
"I have no need to know how he is, Jasmyn."
"You almost killed him."
"And for good reason!" Klasta screamed. Jasmyn looked at her.
"Okay, Klasta. Just calm down."
"She'll calm soon enough," Josep said from the doorway. Both turned and looked at him. "Although soon in her time isn't known to me."
"Screw you!" Klasta spat.
"You almost did, remember?" Josep replied. Jasmyn gasped.
"Yes I do."
"Klasta, you'll be happy to know I'm leaving." He said quietly.
"I'll leave you two," Jasmyn said, walking out the room in a hurry.
"You can't leave, Josep!" Klasta said, the past moments' words forgotten.
"Oh, yes I can."
"I've made my mind up…" she said, putting the towel down and wiping her hands on her shirt. "I'll marry you."
"You don't mean it. You say that so I'll stay."
"I do mean it, Josep."
"Prove it to me, then."
"How am I supposed to do that?" she asked.
"Figure out a way," he replied calmly, leaving the room. Klasta followed after him. She couldn't tell where he went, so she gave up and sunk into a chair.
"Goodnight, Klasta." Xania said, kissing her daughter's forehead.
"Goodnight mother." Klasta said over her shoulder. She walked up the stairs and to where Josep's door was. She didn't bother knocking, but quietly slipped inside. Josep was asleep. She walked to the other side of the bed and pulled the covers back. Then she curled into a ball and fell asleep.
She woke at dawn. Josep was still asleep, his chest rising and falling. Then she got out of the bed as quietly as she had got in it the night before, slipped a note beside his head, and left the room. She tiptoed to her room and opened the chest. Klasta pulled out a fleece cloak and a silk one. She got dressed into a pair of warm slacks and a long sleeve shirt. Her room was cold and dark, but she knew where everything she wanted was. She grabbed the jewelry her mother and sister had given her and threw them into a tie string bag, along with the silk cloak, two pairs of britches, and three shirts. She tied her blades, her original dagger and a specially made sword, onto her waist and slipped into the cloak. The huge hood concealed her face and any features that might give her away. Then she silently slipped out of her room, out of the house, and to the stables. Jonkai was waiting, expectant as always. He seemed to know what she was thinking and what she was going to do. He didn't make a sound as they rode out of Laramon and into the Secret Forest, taking a shortcut to Gartheren. Klasta had made up her mind to leave her childhood home. She didn't belong there. She never would.