NEARLY THREE WEEKS HAD passed since the eventful night when Tygrem had released Urbegit, and he and Siarame had yet to sit down and actually discuss everything that had happened. A few comments had been made that night, but Siarame still felt as if something needed to be said.

Tygrem was working in his study, books spread around him and filling the room when Siarame finally worked up the courage to talk to him about everything. She stood in the doorway without saying a word, waiting for Tygrem to notice her and initiate the conversation himself.

Tygrem somehow knew what Siarame wanted to discuss before she even said a word. Without looking up from his books, he said, "My spies have informed me that Urbegit has a job working for a farmer during the summer. The farm is part of a community about twenty miles outside of Jetspru, and it looks like he'll be laboring in the fields with a lot of other Hehtkuppr and Pektinti who need a job."

"That will be good for him," Siarame said, stepping into the study and taking a seat beside Tygrem. "He needs to make some friends who aren't ex- members of the Kiamrit. Who knows? Maybe he'll even get along with the Pektinti on the farm and decide to change his ways."

Tygrem sniffed loudly and said, "Well, I'm not sure if that's going to happen, but we can always have hope, right?" He turned away and said, "At least it seems like he intends to actually work on the farm, from what my spies say, he doesn't look like he's going to try to cause trouble any time soon."

Siarame said nothing, and they both sat in silence for a few moments. Then, Siarame spoke up and said, "You know, Urbegit and I did have. . . . feelings for each other, but that was a long time ago." Tygrem looked up, obviously unsure of where Siarame meant to take the conversation. "It was just feelings, though, and they're gone now. I don't feel the same way anymore."

Tygrem sighed. "Siarame, I know what you're trying to do," he said. Siarame shook her head- she wasn't trying anything; she just wanted Tygrem to know about her past. "Urbegit has been unofficially banished from Jetspru, and you may never see him again, and you think that by pretending that you don't feel for him anymore, it will be easier to deal with his absence. Believe me, you'll only hurt yourself if you try to hide your feelings. You need to be honest with yourself."

"I am being honest!" Siarame cried. Tygrem appeared to be startled by her outburst. "I'm trying to tell you about myself and my past, and I really don't feel romantic feelings for him anymore. To tell you the truth, when I realized how I felt, I didn't want to admit it because I felt so silly, knowing that I'd confused whatever it was I'd felt with true love!"

Tygrem made a face, then nodded and said, "I see. I didn't mean to imply anything, I just thought that you. . . . . I'm sorry."

"It's all right," Siarame said automatically. "What I meant to say is, I don't feel that way about Urbegit anymore. I haven't felt that way in a long time, and I thought you should know." She didn't tell Tygrem that she loved him, because she wasn't sure yet, and she didn't feel ready to talk about love with anyone, not even with him.

Tygrem nodded, but didn't say anything. Siarame blushed, patted her stomach, and said, "There's something else I need to tell you. I've had my suspicions for a while, but I didn't want to say anything until I was sure, and I also wanted to wait until things had calmed down a little."

"Siarame, what are you trying to tell me?" Tygrem asked, rising from his chair with obvious concern on his face.

"I'm, well . . . ." Siarame cleared her throat, unsure of how best to share the news with Tygrem. "In about eight months, you're going to be a father." She said finally. Tygrem's jaw literally dropped, and she continued, "I met with a healing woman today, and she said that I'm pregnant with a very healthy baby."

Tygrem looked more surprised than Siarame had ever seen him. "That's wonderful!" he cried, jumping out of his chair. Then, with obvious effort he regained control of his feelings and sat down in his chair again. "That's very good news," he said with a forced calmness.

Siarame nodded excitedly. Things weren't perfect- not yet. From Tygrem's reaction to the news, she knew he wasn't ready to open up to her yet, and she still wasn't sure how she felt about him. However, it was a time for change, and there was no longer anything to hold them back. All they needed was time.