|You know Lissa, my father always used to scold me, saying, 'Ivar, you shouldn't wag your tongue so much.' I never listened. Remember the Day of Matchmaking? the headsman's son came to you, gave you those nice boots only city ladies wear, and his servants brought a barrel of honey and a crate of sausages. The Mengar the Smith came – brought an ornate door casing, skillfully crafted locks, and piles of other housewares – and said he was going to decorate a house for the two of you with all he crafted. I came late in the evening, after all of them had left, and all I brought was a bunch of wild flowers. I set them on the porch and said, 'I saw a nixie crying in the forest. She'd planned to make a lantern of my heart, but she found my heart was already taken! It's bad fortune to make nixies cry, so Lady Lissa, would you go to the forest and give the heart you've taken to anyone who may need it more than you?'
You told me I was such a fool, and then you kissed me.
For our wedding, you invited your relatives, the old miller's widow, and stupid Aysel, the fisherman – out of pity, I suspect, as no one else wanted to spend time around him. I invited frogs, wind, and the full moon. 'Brother Moon,' I said, 'please be so kind as to share your light with everyone, for my bride tires of shining over this world alone.' The frogs sang along with Aysel, and you were more beautiful than the moon and more cheerful than the spring wind.
Arry was about to turn five and Mika was just four, and I'd spent a month dragging fish to the cliff and cursing a stupid wyvern who just wouldn't be lured. When I finally lured her, I chased her through the bushes, collecting her silver scales here and there after they fell. It wouldn't have been so hard to decorate our garden with those scales if I hadn't done it at night. Then the morning came, and our children went silent, their mouths agape – hundreds of silver lights sparkled atop apple and cherry trees. I hid my scratched hands in my sleeves and scoffed. 'This isn't so special – you've never noticed before how the stars hide in the trees from the cunning Sky Cat?' You looked at me without a word, but I could still hear your words in my mind. 'You're such a fool, Ivar. I love you.' ...I don't remember how I came up with the story of the Silver Dragon. I came home late with a black grouse I'd shot and said, 'It was a hard fight! I couldn't aim properly. The dragon kept peeping out from the clouds, blinding me with his shiny silver wings.' 'You saw a real dragon, Dad?' 'Not the whole dragon, no. You see, the only way to see the dragon is if two loving souls climb up the high cliff under a new moon, hand in hand.' At the same time, I wasn't thinking about how dark the night was, or how steep the path to the top of the cliff was – especially for little feet – or how wet the rocks were after the rain. I was just looking at you, wishing it was us – two loving souls, hand in hand, sneaking away up to the skies, as we did when we weren't that much older than Arry and Mika.
The next morning you woke first, and it was you who found our children's beds empty.
You said nothing to me then. Not then, not when we walked through the misty woods, not when we found Mika's doll at the start of the path leading to the cliff. You kept silent as I ascended the chasm with Arry's body in my hands. You said nothing when Aysel brought Mika's body, found further out, at the lake shore near the cliff.
You're such a fool, Ivar. You wag your tongue too much. It was just a story, another of your stupid fairy tales, how could it end this way?!
I'm so sorry, Lissa.
Better you married the smith. Or the headman's son. Or even stupid Aysel. Anyone but me.
It's all my fault. Forgive me. Please.
And let me go.
Today, I'll go to the children's graves and..."