What might have been

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters, except the ones I threw in here.

A/N: Thought that I would try something new….

Alanna stared at the Daughter.

"I get to go to the Palace!"

"Yes, you have done excellent here. We have no more to teach you."

"Thank you, Madam. You are so gracious," Alanna said, relieved. She curtsied and left the room.

Leaning against the wall, Alanna thought back on the day she had arrived.

Her plan had failed. Maude refused to help and Thom told Coram, who had told Father.

Father had locked her in her room and sent Thom away, then her.

Her anger had been so bad; she refused to speak, even to Maude.

Anger finally ebbed after a month and she started speaking to the girls around her. Her beautiful voice and her reluctant maidenly skill awed the daughters. She soon turned into a lovely lady, making the Daughters extremely proud.

Now she was actually getting out of this hellhole. She touched her ember-stone for comfort.

The Goddess had come to her on a picnic, when she was separated from the others, giving her the token and a cat with the strangest feature, violet eyes, like her very own.

Alanna rushed to her room to find her things packed for tomorrow morning.

Faithful waited for her on the windowsill.

Looks like we are off to the palace, he said.

"Yes," Alanna slipped out of her dress into a nightdress. Pulling back the covers, she sighed.

"I'm so happy to go. I get to kill Thom deader than dead now."

Don't be too hard on him, Faithful advised.

"I know, I know," she said, drifting off to sleep.

000

After the three-day ride, Alanna was glad to be in Corus. She was early, it was just morning and she wasn't expected until afternoon.

Alanna got on her horse and sent the carriage with the luggage to the Palace with a note saying she would be arriving at the planned time.

With her guard, she rode through the market, looking at fabrics and jewelry.

A kind man's voice reached her ears, drawling, "Why is such a well breed lady out shopping in the market?"

"Wasting time until I have to be at the Palace," Alanna said, friendly.

The man was tall with handsome hazel eyes, but a large nose. His crooked smile was charming.

"A court noble. Where ye from?'

"I'm Alanna of Trebond. I just came from the convent in the City of the Gods to be introduced at Court. You are?"

"George Cooper, my lady. And may I say, ye're eyes are quite unusual."

"My brother, Squire Thom, has the same color. We're twins."

George smiled, "I know Thom. He speaks well of ye. As a matter of fact, I believe he is goin' to the Dancin' Dove. Come, ye can meet 'im there. I know a shortcut."

Alanna nodded to her guard and followed George. She felt that he was very trustworthy.

He led them to the slums of Corus, all the way to the Inn, the Dancing Dove.

"How do you know?" Alanna asked.

"I just saw 'im heading that way. Here we are."

A hostler came to stable her horse, Moonlight, as George led her inside.

"Sit down, please. Solom! An ale and a lemonade!"

The old Innkeeper come up and gave them their drinks.

"So you're friends with Thom?"

"O' course. And Thom's friends are my friends."

"I see. What do you do for a living?"

"I must be honest, I can't lie to a pretty lady. I am the King of the Rogue."

Alanna looked curiously at him, "That's right. Thom mentioned you once. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. By the way, who are Thom's friends?"

"'e didn't tell ye? Well, ye can ask 'im," George said smugly.

"George, New friend?" Thom laughed from the door.

"Yes, I say, ye and ye're friends might like to meet 'er. Turn around lass."

Alanna obeyed, looking Thom in the eye.

His mouth hung open.

"My lady, I am Thom of Trebond. Is there anything I can get you?"

Alanna and George whooped with laugher.

Alanna managed to stop and say, "Well, Brother dear, I would like to meet your friends," she said, indicating the people behind Thom.

Thom looked puzzled.

"Oh, Thom! You were always so dense. It's me, Alanna."

"Alanna? Dear Mithros, it is you! I didn't see your eyes!"

Now Thom's friends were laughing with George, seeing the joke.

Thom embraced his sister, then remembered what she had said.

"This is Prince Jonathon of Conte," Thom said, pointing to a tall, coal-black haired youth with bright blue eyes.

Alanna curtsied.

"Gary or Gareth the Younger of Naxen," a brown haired man smiled wickedly, "And Raoul of Goldenlake," an even taller black haired youth with twinkling black eyes.

"My Prince, my lords, it is an honor," she said with another curtsy.

"Jon, Gary, and Raoul, this is my sister, Alanna of Trebond."

They lined up and kissed her hand.

"You were supposed to arrive this afternoon," Jonathon said.

"I know. I sent my servants and some guards with my luggage to the Palace and browsed the market, where George found me," Alanna said, smiling at George.

"I 'ad seen ye, lads, so I brought 'er through a shortcut so she could be here afore ye. She 'ad just tol' me who she was an' 'ad mentioned Thom."

"Did you tell her your occupation?" Gary asked.

"Oh, the lass already asked. And she knows the truth."

They ate lunch at the Dancing Dove, then headed to the Palace, after Alanna promised to visit George, with Thom to accompany her at night.

Every important noble was there to greet the Lady Alanna as she rode to the King and Queen, where Jonathon helped her dismount.

Alanna curtsied to the rulers, "Your majesties."

"Lady Alanna, I see no point in reintroducing the Prince with you, as he and his friends seemed to have found you," Queen Lianne said, smiling.

The King smiled down to her, too, "There is going to be a ball tonight, so you can be properly introduced. You shall be informed of the time and brought to the waiting room by a servant. Until then, I suggest taking a nap in your rooms that have been prepared.

"Thank you, Your Majesties," she gracefully said.

"Lord Thom, please escort your sister to her rooms," the King ordered.

"Yes, your Majesty."

Alanna took her brother's arm and he led her through the corridors.

"Thom, you should know something."

"Oh, and what would that be?"

"I am blessed by the Goddess. She gave me a cat with violet eyes, and this ember-stone."

"Blessed by the Goddess! Wow, amazing! Wish I could have been there."

Alanna smiled. That was her brother.

000

Alanna gracefully desended the Great Stair on the arm of her brother.

Thom let her walk to the thrones by herself.

She curtsied, "Your Majesties, My Lord Prince."

"Lady Alanna, we ask you to make your home with us," King Roald said expansively.

"Enjoy yourself tonight," Lianne said.

Alanna stepped away to be swallowed by a group of young men.

She blushed and chatted with the men when a shadow stood next to her.

She smiled up at Jonathon.

"Lady Alanna, permit me the first dance," he said, offering her his arm.

"Of course, I'd be delighted, my Lord Prince," she said with a smile.

000

Alanna paced her room. She needed to see George.

All the court males overloaded her with compliments, hoping for her affections.

A week was enough!

Alanna couldn't bother Thom, as he was away. Who could she take?

Faithful! Looking at the cat, she saw him watching her. The sly smile on her lips unnerved him.

Alanna dressed in a simple gown, did up her hair, and grabbed a cloak.

And where are you going?

Alanna smiled at the cat, "Didn't I tell you, you're coming?"

Oh, that's all right then.

She laughed and called a guard.

000

Walking through the slums to the Dancing Dove, Alanna couldn't help but pull her hood up.

It was warm and broad daylight, but people were staring at her.

Reaching the Inn, she opened the door.

Solom was cleaning up someone's lunch when he saw her.

"May I help you, my lady?"

"Is George here?"

"Yes, he's taking lunch in his room. Would you like to see him?"

"Yes, please," Alanna said and motioned for her guard to stay.

Following Solom up the stairs, she composed herself.

Solom knocked and opened the door.

"Majesty, this woman is here to see you," he said, indicating her hooded figure.

"Well, let 'er in an' close the door."

He ushered her in and bowed to George, eating his lunch. Then hastened to close the door and go downstairs.

George was looking at her strangely and she realized he couldn't see her.

Pulling down her hood, she smiled at him. George's face broke out in a huge smile.

"Lass! I was startin' to think ye 'ad forgotten me!"

"How could I, when I enjoy your company more than that of the Palace men," she teased.

"Now why would tha' be?"

"You don't always compliment me and you treat me like a human being," Alanna said scornfully.

"How do they treat ye?" he asked, smiling slighty.

"Like a stupid idiot! A prize horse to mate with another!" She had finally blown.

George almost couldn't stop laughing.

Alanna scowled at him.

"It took ye that many years of trainin' at the convent to learn that?" he asked.

"No, it just majorly hit me, being with them all the time," she complained.

George pulled out a chair and motioned her to sit. Alanna obeyed.

"Ye should 'ave expected that, then," he said, putting his arm around her.

"I know. Every man seems to be bored with Lady Delia, and flock around me. I do want I can to satisfy them, but they still want more. It just tires me out. I don't want to consider marriage to one of those bafoons anymore," Alanna sighed.

"I'll bet they'll tire of ye soon. Count on it."

"Thanks, George," Alanna said, looking at his plate. She snagged a roll and stuffed it into her mouth, much to George's amusement.

Strange thoughts whirled through his mind. He couldn't possibly love her. Thom would kill him. But, it could never hurt…

George leaned forward and kissed Alanna. She was too shocked to move.

Then shock turned into pleasure, then passion, as the kisses became deeper.

George pulled away and went to the door, locking it. Turning back to Alanna, he realized that this was love. Alanna would never do anything rash, unless she wanted to.

George scooped her up and put her on his bed. Kissing her, he slopped out of everything, but his loincloth.

Employing his teeth, he pulled open her gown. He pressed his lops against her creamy skin, enjoying her soft texture.

Alanna barely whispered his name, urging him.

The passion flowed through them, binding them together.

000

Slipping into her suite of rooms, Alanna breathed a sigh of relief. She had gotten this far undetected by any of the young court nobles.

She had barely gotten properly dressed when someone knocked on her door.

Alanna gracefully opened the door, revealing Thom. His purple eyes snapped with fury.

"I know what you did! George? Why did you go to George?"

"Thom, come in and settle down. If you are so worried, you shouldn't shout near others, ruining my reputation."

Thom glared and entered. "Why did you make love to George?" he demanded.

"Well, first, I hadn't planned on it, second, I can't stand being preyed upon by these lords! They never talk, are never serious, and constantly and looking me over! Third, how, in Mithros and the Goddess's name, did you find out?"

"George wrote me to apologize. He said he hadn't meant to, but, well, things went too far."

"You can say that again. I need to prepare for dinner. Excuse me, please…" Alanna ushered her twin to the door. "See you later."

Shutting the door, Alanna started crying. It was all too much, and so confusing. She wasn't sure she loved George, but the most honorable thing to do was to marry him. But she couldn't actually do that…

Remembering the time, she started toward her washroom and a night of torture.

Pulling her copper locks up, she softened them into curls. Applying only the bare minimum of face paint, she prepared herself.

Putting on her last pieces of jewelry, one of her brother's gallant knight friends knocked on her door.

She opened it and curtsied to her escort that night, Raoul of Goldenlake.

"Sir Raoul, what a pleasure."

"Just call me Raoul. Your brother asked me to accompany you tonight, since I am not interested in the court ladies."

Alanna laughed, "Good, I was afraid for a moment."

Raoul laughed and offered his arm, "Just as well, we feel the same way."

They were soon chattering away when a man settled down at their table, Delia of Eldorne at his arm.

"Duke Roger, it is an honor to have you sit with us." Raoul said clearly, to Alanna at least, nervous.

Alanna couldn't blame him; she detested the man on sight.

"Well, Sir Raoul, I couldn't figure out who your lady tonight was. I've seen her around, but I must have missed her introduction to court." Duke Roger of Conte was saying.

"Your Grace, this is Lady Alanna of Trebond, Squire Thom's sister."