A foot soldier comes to Gou Jian's cottage in the late afternoon.
"The Great Lord commands you to remain at home this night."
"Very well. Are we to wait on him tomorrow morning?"
"The Great Lord will summon you when he wishes to see you again." He turns and leaves without another word. Gou Jian watches him walk away, aware of Ya Yu troubled behind him.
"Majesty? What does this mean?"
Gou Jian's lips quirk. "The king of Wu is trying his wiles on us, just as you said. He'll let us stay here for a day or two or maybe more, hoping we'll beg an audience to find out why he's become indifferent to us of a sudden. He's hoping to see us creeping into his audience chamber, all tender solicitude-- 'Gou Jian misses the Great Lord.'" He snorts, amused. "The best way to make a man want to see you is by refusing to see him. Isn't that what women always do?"
Ya Yu smiles at him. "Your servant wouldn't know." He smiles back, a real smile. There was no courtship for them. Their marriage was arranged when they were children and their betrothal ceremony took place in the presence of her parents and the king and queen. The elders said all that was to be said. The two of them, barely into their teens, stood by in silence. But they'd glanced at each other, once and twice and then again, swift and brief so as not to call anyone's attention to themselves. It had been quite sufficient.
He takes her hand and draws her down to the bench. She sits close to him.
"So, the king of Wu is courting your Majesty in earnest?"
"Why no, of course not. He has a woman for his night's pleasure and doesn't want us watching him."
Ya Yu blushes. He grins.
"Yes, he's courting us. Or rather, he wants us to court him. Well, and maybe we will." His eyes narrow. "Maybe we will."