"I have to turn you in," Jon said.

"I know," Alanna whispered. She was staring at the ground. "Please, though, Majesty. Wait until we're in Corus."

The prince sighed heavily. "I suppose, if only because you just saved my life."


"George, I need help." Alanna was biting her lip, which seemed strange to him—had she ever done that before?

"They found you out," George said. "And the prince is going to tell."

"How—right, sorry. I was wondering if... if you could give me a job. Here. At the Dove. With you."

"You're turnin' away from the law, then?"

"I won't steal, not unless I have to. I'll just disappear."

"They'll come looking for you," George warned.

"I can hide."


Alanna wiped her dagger on the dead man's clothing. "Come, Faithful," she hissed.

The cat hurried to her side, and together they managed to sneak out of the man's room unnoticed. Alanna had made sure to leave the door wide open as well, so everyone could see evidence of the Duke's treachery.

A hand stopped her when she was almost free. She looked up into cold blue eyes. "Majesty?"

"What are you doing here after all these years?" His tone was icy. It reminded her of him talking to Ralon.

"Don't worry, Highness. I can show myself out." She wrenched her arm back. "I have a new life now, away from treacherous nobles. My friends may be crooks, but they aren't rats."

Jon took half a step back. "Alan-na..." He caught himself on her name.

She bowed. "Until next time, Highness. Good luck with Douglas. He should be a fine squire. And watch out for Alex. I won't always be here to protect you."

She was gone before he even had a chance to speak.


The Dove was noisy when she returned, but Alanna had expected nothing less. She hopped up onto a table. "The Duke is dead!"

If anything, the noise increased, all of them celebrating with her. A certain hazel eyed Rogue pulled her into a kiss after she jumped down.

"Maybe I'm happier here," she whispered against his lips.

He pulled back, and she saw he'd somehow heard her through the noise. "It's not hard to be happy here."


It had been five months, and things were beginning to settle down in the kingdom. Roger had been officially declared a traitor, and a search began to find his killer. Alanna never stepped forward, and for some reason the prince had never accused her. Perhaps he didn't want to be a rat, or he felt bad for telling everyone she was a girl. Either way, she thought she was safe.

Then the prince walked into the Dancing Dove with Raoul and Gary. It wasn't strange to see the latter two there, though Alanna always made sure to stay away from them. George probably would have tossed the prince out on his ear had he been there, but it was still early, and even Alanna, as his lover, had no idea where he had gone.

Lightfingers burped in her general direction. "Those knights are probably here for you."

Alanna squared her shoulders and tossed her apron over to Solom. She had been filling in for one of the usual girls, who was sick. "I'd better go talk to them then."

Gary and Raoul stayed close beside the prince as they walked further in. They had noticed the cold glares they were getting, though the prince seemed oblivious. Alanna managed to sneak up behind them and tap him on the shoulder.

"Looking for someone?" She asked.

"Alanna? Is that you?" He was squinting and leaning in a bit closer.

"No," she spat, "it's the bloody king. Of course it's me!"

Marek appeared at her shoulder. "Do you need me to throw them out?" He asked.

"No, but thank you," she said. "Keep an eye out just in case, though. I wouldn't want the prince of our fine country to end up dead."

Raoul and Gary were staring at her like they had never met her before in their lives, but her attention wasn't on them.

"I came to apologize," Jonathan said, shifting uncomfortably. "You saved me, didn't you?"

Alanna nodded. "Just doing my duty." She saluted and managed to disappear into the crowd.


Ending rewritten

I don't own SotL.

This was for the Men of Tortall challenge. The prompt was that there was a cost to every action. I know it doesn't fit perfectly, but there was still a cost to Jon's action... he lost Alanna as a squire, almost died, etc. And the cost for Alanna, which was the main point of this fic, I guess.