“It looks like you do not have a choice in the matter,” Bayani told him. “Really, I do not understand why you feel the need to hide it.”
“Oh,” Nashtra said, “do you know what the problem is?”
Peter narrowed his eyes and glared at Bayani.
“Don’t be mad at me,” his boyfriend told him. “Listen, it’s your sister you’re worried about, and I think he can agree not to tell her.”
“If it means getting you into the past,” Nashtra said, I can probably agree to it. “What is wrong?”
Peter grumbled and cursed under his breath, crossing are over his chest.
“It’s something that happened back home,” Bayani explained. “He does not want his sister to worry about him, though.”
Peter scowled and began to walk away, finding a less-occupied corner of the bathing hall. Bayani and Nashtra followed him.
“It seems as though whatever happened to you back home was quite traumatic to you,” the elf commented. “It makes sense if you might want to hide something so terrible. Will you trust me, though? I might be able to help you with your problem. If it has nothing to do with us being able to finish the quest, I have no reason to tell Cerys.”
“See?” Bayani pointed out. “He will not tell her. Just to show him!”
“Fine,” Peter snapped, trying not to be too loud, knowing that he should not be drawing attention to them. He slid out of his tunic, pulled the linen shirt that was underneath it over his head, and stood there with his arms crossed over his chest.
Nashtra looked him over, and then noticed his torso. “Those are some very bad bruises,” he said, leaning in close, being careful not to touch them. “How did you get hurt?”
Peter refused to answer.
Bayani knew from the first five seconds of silence that he would not explain anything. He had expected as much. “Do you remember when you noticed but he and I are a couple?” Nashtra nodded to him. “Back home, it is a problem. You said that here it was not an issue whatsoever, and we have been greatly relieved that that is true. At our school, however, there are many people who believe that we should not be together.”
“Because you come from different backgrounds?” Nashtra asked. “It happens here every now and then, usually when there is tension between different kingdoms.”
Bayani shook his head. “They use that as an excuse to be even more cruel, but the real reason is that he and I are both boys.”
Nashtra looked at him and blinked. “He was treated this badly because of that? Because the both of you are males? Even though the two of you are in love with each other?”
Bayani could tell that he had never heard of something so terrible before. “Back home, most parts of the world are accepting of people like us. A few places, though… they hate us. They would hate Cerys and Himeko, too, if they were together. In some places, the people believe that only a boy and a girl are supposed to be together.”
Nashtra shook his head. “We really do not have such thinking here. In truth, we have a lot of reasons to believe that it does not have to be that way. It is the way that produces children, but not everybody wants them, or they do not want to have them with somebody of the opposite sex.” He thought for a moment and added, “How are you supposed to control whom you fall in love?”