Its funny how similar Alan is to, well, Alan, Raoul mused while watching his new squire practice tilting. Alanna's son had the same slender, lithe body, and the same cat-like reflexes. Alan of Trebond's dedication to practicing and eagerness to learn was certainly apparent in Raoul's new squire. Both of the Alans had a certain quiet, fierce courage, and a desire to prove themselves. Alan of Trebond because he was secretly a girl, and Alan of Pirate's Swoop because he wanted people to know he could stand apart from his parents. Alan of Pirate's Swoop had Alan of Trebond's caustic wit and ease at repartee (although the way it was tempered with a good-natured affability was George through and through). Alan's disregard for rules and general attraction to troublemaking was an inheritance from both his parents. But Alan's constant restless energy, the way he moved through life as though operated by some sort of clockwork that was wound too tight, that was all Alanna.

It was hard for Raoul to get used to having his adopted nephew as a squire, because Alan was just so different than Raoul's former squire. Kel was a quiet, still person, while Alan was in a constant state of motion. Raoul noticed Alan had a tendency towards sleeplessness, judging by the flickering candlelight that could be seen under his door crack at all hours of the night. Raoul would often wake to find his study cleaned, or his horse groomed for him while he slept, and Alan with deep purple bags under his eyes. He tried to scold his squire about the importance of sleeping well, but Alan only shrugged it off.

Kel's room was neat and precise where Alan's room was a disaster. Books and papers teetered in massive piles surrounding his bed and desk. All of Alan's clothes stayed in trunks and bags that were never fully unpacked. His bookshelves appeared to be in use as some sort of wine bottle/dirty dish storage unit. Implements of art were strewn about, from charcoal and paint to clay and wood carving tools. Alan often reported to Raoul with smudges and paint streaks on his face and hands, to the point it was a joke in the Kings Own that any instructions or orders given to Squire Alan came prefaced with "Go wash up and change". Instruments were placed everywhere, lutes, lyres, a dulcimer, even a shofar. Raoul had been awakened by its mournful sound so many times that he and Buri were forced to implement a "no music after midnight" rule.

"Is that all instruments that are banned, or just the shofar? Because I can play the lute pretty quietly, if need be," Alan's green hazel eyes were wide and innocent, but his tone had more than a little of Alan of Trebond's pertness to it.

"Alan," Raoul had groaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He was starting to get some perspective on why Alanna had so many tension headaches.

Although Alan was a very promising squire, Raoul couldn't shake the feeling that knighthood wasn't really Alan's passion. Alan had Alanna's same fearsome energy, but hers was less frantic, and more focused than his. Alan moved through training and practice as though there was something else more important he should be doing at that moment. The boy was hard working and dedicated, but Raoul sensed Alan was holding something back. That uncertain feeling was solidified the first time Raoul saw Alan play.

They were up north, at a fort near the Scanran border. It was winter, and the men were restless and bored, to the point that they began to goad each other into getting up and showing off talents or abilities. Alan had quietly slipped away, and returned with his viol. Raoul was shocked that Alan had even brought the thing. He knew from talking with Alanna that it had cost about as much as the boat they purchased for Aly, both presents for the same birthday. Alan looked uncharacteristically shy as he held the intricately carved instrument. Eying the floor nervously, Alan murmured, "Be kind, I'm self-taught", before tucking the viol under his chin. Alan started with a basic piece, a classic for beginners, his face scrunched in concentration and his fingers hesitant. The men shifted, uncomfortable to be watching Alan struggle so. Suddenly he stopped, sighed, and asked, "That's not right, is it?" Then with a wink he began again, his fingers no longer unsure, but instead flying across the viol, as he played a lively and very complicated country jig with ease.

The Own were still, awed at first, but before long the tune got into their feet and they began to dance. Raoul watched Alan, whose face was alight with joy and satisfaction. Raoul recognized that face. It was the face Alan of Trebond wore when he dueled. It had a touch of the face George made when he pieced together a particularly difficult puzzle. It was the face of someone deeply in love with what they were doing. Raoul grinned as Alan began to dance in place, still playing, his feet moving nearly as quickly as his fingers. Alan's eyes were closed and his mouth tilted up in a crooked smile. Suddenly a thought occurred to Raoul that stopped his own smile in its tracks. This is clearly what Alan is meant to be doing, but nobles don't play music professionally and nobles definitely don't become Players. They serve the King in serious pursuits. As Raoul watched his nephew pick up the pace of the song, he considered why it was that the Alans he knew had so much trouble with doing what was expected of them.

Author's Note:

So in my headcanon Alan is a renaissance man. He's just very creative, he has that restless imaginative energy my artist friends have. His passion is music, but he likes fine arts as well. I think eventually he'd really want to become a Player or an actor of some sort. He doesn't know that yet, he likes knighthood well enough, and it's never occurred to him to pursue his real interests because it's not what nobles do. I was inspired partly by how Tammy described Alan:

"Alan just felt that if Thom wasn't going to be a knight, he ought to, and he rather liked the role. It had nothing to do with Aly or Thom or even Mother–the Crown just needed knights, they had a very nice life thanks to the properties granted to them by the Crown, and he felt they could use a knight in normal service. He likes to pretend that his other sibs are the clever ones, but he's no fool himself. He just prefers to take the course of least cleverness. One day the gods will catch up with Alan and he'll have to prove he's good for something more, but until then, I'll let him laze while he jousts and fights bandits and the like."

But also inspired by the fact that we know no one in Alanna's family takes the easy path. I just liked the idea that Alan ends up breaking the rules of the establishment in his own way.