A/N: Due to popular demand of wanting to see more done with the general idea of "Keeper of His Heart" I'm working on a short story, it will only be a few chapters long, picking up where the other story left off. The chapters are small, I know, but, I'm still not entirely confidant with the couple yet, and you could call it practice for something later in the future, if little else...because this series truly does interest me.

This is, in a lot of ways, a coming of age fiction…but, if you read "Keeper of His Heart", you'll know that.

Season's Change
Chapter 1

There was something all too innocent about the way he twirled a stray lock of hair atop his head. Even as he relaxed naked in bed, something he took to doing in the afternoons when no one was looking, he could knot curse himself. After his wife encouraged him to continue to be himself, begging him not to avoid her anymore he had, reluctantly, agreed. If he were older, it wouldn't be so troubling, he concluded after quite a bit of soul searching and sleepless nights.

He felt like a mere child…and quite frankly, it bothered him.

Still, as the man he felt he should be for her sake, he went back to his usual routines. He wouldn't lie to himself thought, it was an easier thing to do when she wasn't around to look at him. He swallowed hard, clearing his throat as he put a hand around the base of his neck. He could feel the beginnings of what he knew would be a drop in his voice over time. That, coupled with that fact that he was now starting to grow more hair in places than he knew what to do with, troubled his mind…

To make matters worse, he was now dreaming of her too.

With a sign, he flung off the bed sheet as a blush engulfed his face. He didn't normally think suck dirty thoughts, at least not while seriously amusing them. Livius padded over to his washroom, feeling as though he could use a bath. He loved Nike, so desperately in fact, he wondered why he couldn't just tell her the truth…but, that part of himself was pesky too.

A man had to have some level of pride, he assumed, but even if his mind was far above and beyond the norm, his body begged to differ.

He looked down at himself, knowing that he was lacking due to age…and, no matter what he begged of his doctor, he was told there was no remedy. Only time, and a great deal of mental fortitude. Wetting a cloth in the hot water he drew for himself, he sat it atop his head as he sunk down into the tub, cursing his bad luck…

He didn't realize that elsewhere in the castle, the love of his life was doing the same thing.

"Am I simply not desirable?" Nike asked as the wise woman who treated her maladies on any given occurrence. She watched intently as the woman cleaned her hands on a pristine white cloth. Having made her inspection, her conclusion was the same as it always was, not that the girl before her would ever believe such a thing. "Could it be that I'm somehow unable to fit his needs? Nike pressed desperately.

The wise woman merely smiled. "Dearie, I would not be worried." She said slowly. "There is nothing wrong with you, nor your appearance." Having hailed from the same country as Nike, and, having also watched the child grow up into a beautiful young woman, she hadn't given it a second thought when Nike had written back home, requesting the doctor's aid. "You are every bit the bounty needed for a king, and such a conquest of the heart isn't to be taken lightly."

"Then, what's the problem?" Nike asked, pulling her sheet back around herself, feeling unsure of that.

"A boy's heart desires a great many things, Nike." The woman said with a smile. "However, you'll find that a man's heart is quite different. Your family was blessed with a gaggle of girls, and so, I'm sure it is not something you can understand from a boy's perspective. As a woman lacking the ways of many brothers, you are no match for the war in the lad's mind."

"What of me?" Nike replied. "What shall I do?"

Pursing her lips in careful thought, the wise woman tried to think of something, but came up short. "There are hints, of course, to determine if he is indeed able to be with you, or if he is not yet ready." Then, she shrugged. "Nike, I believe the phrase all in due time, is important to this predicament of sorts."

"I see, I was worried I was causing him to develop some kind of nervous condition." Nike said slowly, grabbing her pink dress.

She patted Nike on the knee, a soothing gesture from the girl's childhood. "He will discover his own path, as he should. It's within his nature, after all. As women, we have no right in which to question that."

"He's so shy right now." Nike admitted, feeling a little inadequate, even despite being told otherwise. "We used to bathe together, but he refuses that now, and our linens are changed much more than normal. In fact, it's as if the maids are washing the sheets every other day, or so it seems."

"Well, he may have an ailment, but it's not one within your power." The woman laughed gently. "Trust in him, Nike, the lad knows what he's doing."