For days, nothing happened. Nam'ya was too busy to meet with Kyave and the queen didn't call for him. Zokol was there, but he seemed distracted by something, so Kyave found himself spending most of his time in the library, reading children's books—the only thing he could read in the Heswa language—or in the stables, keeping Sh'yan from working.

It was frustrating. He had been busy constantly for days and now no matter what he tried to find himself to do, it seemed to backfire.

But at least Sh'yan was talking to him more. Apparently all Kyave had needed was some patience. In the last few days alone, he had discovered that Sh'yan was actually seventeen, despite looking at least a year or two younger than that. It made Kyave much more comfortable and hopeful about his crush. He even learned that Sh'yan had been working in the stales since he was thirteen, and that the only reason he was working there was because of the queen herself.

Sh'yan said it with a bit of awe and wonderment in his voice, but Kyave wasn't so sure. Heswa wasn't the same as Sheva, but working in a stable didn't seem like a particularly glamorous job there, either. But maybe because of his sexuality he had expected worse—every time Zokol mentioned Sh'yan, he certainly seemed to think the boy deserved worse.

He wished he could something to change Sh'yan's mind. He deserved to be happy, but even if he wished he could simply fix everything that was wrong with Heswa for the stable boy, that wasn't how things worked. Even if the queen seemed to be plotting something of the sort. Not everything was right in Sheva, either, despite King Reon's best efforts.

As for now, Kyave had decided to give the books and stables a break and stretched out on his bed, enjoying the bright sunlight. His mind needed time to rest, and wandering aimlessly about the palace only increased his frustration.

He sighed happily and let his mind drift and settle. He didn't have a headache, but he could feel the beginnings of one dissipate. Maybe he needed more sunlight; both the stables and the library were indoors, the stable had no windows, and he tended to stay away from the ones in the library.

"My lord?" Zokol's voice said, interrupting his drifting thoughts.

His voice sounded more somber than normal. The ambassador sat up and opened his eyes. "What do you need?" he asked.

Zokol's expression matched his tone. "Her Majesty requests your presence. Please hurry."

Hurry? Fortunately Kyave was already dressed, and if the queen wanted him to hurry from whatever she was doing, surely she wouldn't care about formalities. He stood up. "Let's go," he said.

Zokol nodded and led him out the door. Lenze and his other guard were waiting outside. "What's going on?" he asked, in Shevan just in case Zokol couldn't tell him. Zokol had already refused to tell him what was wrong when he had asked.

Lenze shook his head. Kyave couldn't tell if that meant he didn't have any information or didn't want to share it. It didn't really make a difference.

Dammit. Hopefully the queen was feeling talkative, because this was ridiculous. Ridiculous, and worrisome.

His escorts led him not to the queen's offices, but to her personal chambers. Kyave felt uncomfortable until Queen Malwe appeared, fully dressed and waiting for him in a chair. "Ambassador," she said with a sigh of relief. "You're here."

"Yes, of course, You Majesty. Is there a reason I wouldn't be?" he asked, feeling confused about what he was even saying. Why was the queen calling him 'Ambassador'? She didn't even like doing that during formal meetings, or so she said.

"Please, sit down and make yourself comfortable. Zokol, feel free to excuse yourself. I think it will be a while before I give you Ambassador Kyave back."

Zokol nodded and the two Shevan bodyguards followed him out the room.

"So…um. What's going on?" Kyave said, hoping he didn't sound as worried as he felt. If something was wrong, Sh'yan would be in danger, too, and no one was going to go rescue him—

"I think I've come up with a solution to my problem and how I can ask you for help. First, tell me what you know about Sh'yan."

"Sh'yan?" Kyave asked. "Why?"

"It's important. I don't want to tell you why yet, because I'm afraid it will change what you tell me. Please."

"Um. Well, I know that he really cares about the horses he works with, I know how old he is, I know how long he's been working at the stables, I know that no one respects him because…because he's homosexual, though how everyone found that out, I do not know. I know that I wish he didn't have to put up with this because he's far too nice."

"You like Sh'yan?"

Kyave flushed. "What do you mean?"

"It's a very simple question, Kyave."

It was a very simple question that could be taken a lot of different ways. Unless he was mistranslating, which was entirely possible—the nuances between related words was sometimes difficult in Shevan. But 'like' could mean a lot of different things.

"Like…how?" he finally asked, giving up. He probably sounded like an idiot, but he was starting to get used to that.

"In general, Kyave. Do you think he's a good person? Why are you so interested in getting to know him?"

"Of course I think he's a good person!" Kyave protested. Sh'yan didn't seem like a person who would hurt anyone. "And…and yes, I think he's cute. No one thinks such a thing is weird in Sheva, and I'd appreciate if you didn't hold that against me."

The queen held a hand over her mouth and started giggling quietly. "No, you misunderstand me, Kyave. I'm glad you like Sh'yan. He's a good friend of mine. We were childhood friends, until he was about thirteen or so. Tell me, what do you know of Sh'yan's past?"

"Well…not much of anything. He doesn't seem to want to talk about it and I don't want him to feel pressured."

The queen made a soft humming sound. "Then I will tell you the relevant details. Sh'yan grew up in a wealthy family, one renowned even here for its fine silks. He was, I believe, being groomed to take over the family, even as a male, because he was the eldest child by many years. Until there was a rather…unfortunate incident that led to his…preferences being known. His family disowned him almost immediately, but I was old enough at that point to find him another place so he wasn't sent to the farm fields."

Kyave wished he could say that he was surprised, but he wasn't. The fact that Sh'yan had grown up in a wealthy, respected family was a revelation, but he had known something unfair had happened to the stable boy. "I…see. And…this is important to your problem?"

"I think it may be. Silk is one of Heswa's most important exports, as I am sure you know."

Kyave nodded.

"I think…perhaps, that if anyone questions you, that we could…propose a challenge of some kind, one in which a man would have to prove himself…Sh'yan learned enough about the making of silk that he could help us there."

"Have you even asked if he'll help?"

The queen arched both of her brows. "I am his queen. He will not refuse a request from me. But if you like, you can ask him yourself. I am sure he would be eager to assist you."

For whatever reason, Kyave felt his cheeks heat up. "I will do that. But I think there are still some details that need to be worked out. For instance, what are we going to do to help your country if no one questions my abilities?"

The queen winced. "I don't think that will be an issue, Ambassador Kyave. I have already heard…whispered complaints. I don't think your open association with Sh'yan has necessarily helped your case with my people. I suspect things will be progressing quite quickly from this point on. We will need to get supplies for Sh'yan."

Kyave bit his lip. "If you don't mind, I'd like to go and ask for his help before we get any further in this planning."

The queen looked him over carefully. "If you wish," she said finally. "Make sure your bodyguards accompany you. I don't want anything to happen to you before things are resolved."

He shivered. No one had ever sounded so serious about such a thing before. Was he really in danger here?


A/N: I'm so sorry that it's taken me so long to update! I was having a lot of trouble, and then NaNoWriMo snuck up on me. And just. I'm sorry.

I don't really deserve reviews right now, but I'd like them. What do you think of what you learned about Sh'yan this chapter? A shock or not? Fitting or not? Interesting or (wait for it) not?