A spur of the moment thing that popped into my head today when I was trying to edit a fic and really not getting far at all. This is for my brother, who shares my love of all things Tortall (or all things SotL and Immortals anyway), thinks Numair and George are "the coolest characters ever," and not just to annoy our mum. He reads (bits of) my fics, compliments me, points out bits that don't make sense and generally acts as a beta, for all that he's 14. One day I'll get round to reading his stuff too. Promise.

Disclaimer: Alanna, George, Numair, Daine and the children belong to Tamora Pierce. The general randomness is all mine.

A Discovery of Brotherhood

Alanna is never sure how to treat Numair.

She knows he is a good friend; one of the best she has ever had, in fact. Between the pair of them, they've got each other out of more sticky spots than she cares to count, and walked into more skirmishes and battles than she likes to remember. They have both taught each other so much; not only about magic and weaponry, but about themselves as well.

In fact, it is not until George one day finds the need to say sharply to her, "He's not Thom, Alanna," that she realises how she might actually be treating him.

"I know that," she retorts sharply at her husband. "He's nothing like Thom."

"Just thought you needed reminding, lass," George says gently, before pulling her into a hug.

But, when she comes to think about it, Numair is like Thom. A magical prodigy, one of the youngest, if not the youngest, black robes, in the history of magic. The excitement she can see in the mage's eyes when discussing his craft makes her wary, as does his unparalleled aptitude for getting lost in books and experiments for days at a time. His inability to trust when he first arrived in Tortall. Her new tall friend is very much like her long-passed brother.

But he is also not like her brother. Alanna can see this plainly when she sees him talking to people. Numair, she thinks, is one of the least likely people she knows who could possibly be persuaded by a pair of pretty eyes into raising the dead, purely for pride (although he does have a substantial ego). In fact, if anything, Numair is most definitely in control of the situation when it comes to women when she first knows him. She watches him sweep the single ladies of the Court off their feet one by one with some amusement, knowing her brother would never have done anything of the sort. When she sees him in conversation with the nobles, listening politely or discussing animatedly, she realises he is nothing like Thom, who had very little time for anyone, including even her sometimes.

One day, she catches Numair conjuring shapes and juggling for her children. She can hear their shrieks of laughter and delight even from the beach at the Swoop. Even more amusing is the look of unconcealed remorse on his face as he is scolded by Maude for exciting the children even more than usual before their bedtime, and his guilt extending so far as to even offer to help put them to bed, a task Alanna wouldn't wish upon her worst enemy, dead or alive. Thom would have avoided his nephews and niece like the plague if he could have helped it, and would most certainly never have let anyone call him anything as undignified as "Uncle Numy."

Most of all, she is reminded he is not Thom when she watches him find Daine, teasing and coaxing her into happiness as he himself comes further away from his shell, teaching her her magic with patience and gentle understanding, and eventually finding love with her. The way Daine knocks him so far sideways Numair barely gets out of a confused and bewildered daze for the first few years of their relationship, which Thom would never allow to happen to himself. Even his sheer refusal to admit his feelings at first, out of concern for Daine and not himself, show Alanna that he is not like her son's namesake.

That doesn't mean he is not her brother though. She discovered long ago that blood has nothing to do with family. If she could choose a brother, there would be no question of who it would be. Numair is just more social (and no less stubborn) than the rest of the Trebonds.