It was hard for Margarete and Hugo to get back on their feet after the explosion. As far as most of the townspeople were concerned it was what their family had deserved, even though they'd never say so out loud lest the strange foreign man who showed up from time to time to protect them came back again. To Margarete's surprise, it was the Squire's manor that had ended up taking the two of them in, a woman about her age, who she had soon learned was the Dana Eike had spent years searching for, had come and offered them jobs as a seamstress and an alchemist. Not wanting to leave their home town, they had agreed.

The days dragged by, Margarete and her brother saving up every coin they earned in the hopes they'd eventually be able to have their home rebuilt. Every day was ordinary, and for a few months they remained that way. And then, one last time, Eike came into Margarete's life.

She didn't recognize him at first, a bearded man in a ragged robe huddled in the corner of the church. In a hushed voice the priest had apologized for his presence, but it was a frigid winter day and God would not wish them to turn a pauper out into the cold. And it was because Margarete had been so close to becoming a beggar herself that she crouched down in front of him to offer him a hunk of the bread she'd bought earlier that day at the bakery, and then recognized his face. "Eike?" she whispered, shocked.

He blinked slowly and looked at her blankly. "Eike?" he replied, not seeming to recognize her or the name at all.

"Eike, it's me. Margarete." She pushed her hair behind her shoulder and smiled teasingly, trying to disguise how unsettled she was finding him like this. "I'd hope your memory's not so poor that you'd forget me this soon."

"Margar...ete?" His voice was hoarse, as if he was unused to using it, but it became stronger as he continued, "I--I don't... You know me?"

"Of course I do, Eike! This joke is getting a little silly. Why don't you--" Then her eyes widened and her hands flew to her mouth as her eyes met his for the first time and she saw how empty they were. "You really don't remember, do you? Oh, Eike, how could this have happened?"

He didn't seem to notice how upset she was, or maybe he was just so glad to find someone who knew him that he didn't care. He lunged forward and grabbed her shoulders. "Please, who am I? Tell me, please!"

If he were someone else she might have been afraid, but there was something about Eike that had always put her at her ease, and that hadn't changed just because he'd forgotten her. "You're Eike Kusch," she said. "You're from... oh, it's such a long story." She shrugged off his hands and pushed herself to her feet, brushing off her skirt with one hand and reached out to him with the other. "Come with me, Eike. I'll tell you the story somewhere more comfortable than this, with others who know it and can help me with its telling."

He hesitated then took her hand, and she led him out of the church. She knew that people would stare and whisper when they saw her walking through town tightly clutching a man's hand, that her job would be endangered if they discovered her hiding him in her quarters, and that he might once again leave as suddenly as he'd appeared if he did regain his memories and remembered how to return to his time, but she couldn't bring herself to care. His arm was warm against hers, and his hand held back just as firmly, and, where before she'd thought she'd never see him again, maybe now she would have time to win his heart. Those things were all that mattered.