Birthdays (Camelot AU)

by MTopaz


Part 1

Ezra knew what birthdays were.  He knew that people often celebrated them with treats and gifts but he didn't have the actual experience of one.  Ezra wasn't even sure of the date of his birth.  Sometime in the spring, he surmised.  It didn't matter, though.  It never had.

No one had ever thrown him a party--that would've been considered a waste.  Nor had he ever attended one.  He'd had no other children to play with who would invite him to such a function, not that Queen Maude would've let him attend.  It would've been a distraction from his studies and training.

King Lot always threw elaborate feasts for himself or for the queen to impress his vassals and the neighboring lords, but Ezra was always forbidden from making an appearance.  It wouldn't do for him to be seen by the guests--people from outside the castle walls.  However would the king explain to his astonished peers how his foster son had aged several years in only one year's time?  No.  Ezra's existence had been pretty much a secret beyond the castle.

It was hard to explain, but JD's upcoming birthday celebration made him both sad and delighted.  He was sad that he himself had never had such a party, yet happy that at last he would be able to at least attend one.  Ezra remembered many nights, locked in his room at Lot's castle, when the sounds of revelry and good cheer drifted up the stairs.  He'd tried to imagine what they were doing that could make them so happy.  Now he wouldn't have to imagine.  He'd been invited.  Ezra would get to see it all.  Now all he needed was a gift.

Buck was watching Ezra on the sly.  He'd been doing that a lot lately, trying to figure him out.   Using his head for once.  Buck had learned a lot, too.  It made him angry at himself for not noticing things before that he should've.  Buck wasn't going to let Ezra down again.  No, Sir.  

Vin said Ez wasn't the type to come right out and say how he was feeling or what he was thinking.  He'd show you somehow.  If that boy was on fire head to toe, he'd tell you he was fine.  But Vin said you'd be able to see the pain in his eyes.  So Buck had been looking.  And what he saw confused him.  Ezra seemed happy and kind of sad all in one.

He wanted to find out what was wrong and fix it for his friend.  He was still trying to make it up to Ezra for punching him a few weeks back.  He'd apologized and apologized.  Ezra accepted his apology each time and said everything was fine.  That didn't make Buck feel any better, though.  Ez seemed to forgive a little too easy--like he was just saying what he thought Buck wanted to hear.  He didn't think words meant much to Ez.  He'd probably been told lots of lies in his short life by people he should've been able to trust.  Actions would mean something.  They had to.  Buck just didn't know what kind yet.

When had Ezra started acting strange?  It was just the other day when Buck and Josiah were talking to him.  They talked about the weather--nothing upsetting there.  Josiah said something about the crops.  Buck mentioned the new serving wench down at the tavern.  Nothing odd about that.  Buck asked Josiah and Ezra to help him put together JD's surprise birthday party.  Wait a minute!  Ezra had that funny look right after Buck brought up the party.  Maybe Ezra didn't like parties.  But then why would he look kind of happy, too?

Ezra didn't talk much about his childhood, but the knights had been able to piece some things together.  What they knew wasn't good.  Every time Buck thought about it it made him want to dig up Ella Gainsborough and kill her all over again.  She'd hurt an innocent child just so she could take over Camelot and kill Chris.  Ezra never meant anything to her and she used him like a tool.  Ezra was still suffering for it.  Once Buck started paying attention, he noticed how hard it was for Ezra to trust people, make friends, or open up to others.  For a long time he thought Ezra just had his nose stuck in the air.  He wasn't the only one.  Nathan thought Ezra sometimes acted like he was better than everybody else.  Buck was starting to think it was the other way around--Ezra didn't think he was good enough for the rest of them.  He just made out like he didn't care what anybody thought about him or felt towards him.  That way no one would know how much they could hurt him.  He was protecting himself the way he'd learned to as a boy.

The party.  Buck wondered if Ezra had ever had a birthday party.  With Ella for a mother and King Lot and Queen Maude for foster parents, it was a good bet the answer was no.  And with what Ella did to him with her magic, making him age faster and all, well that would make for some awkward parties.  When was his birthday anyway?  Ella and Chris...  That was around early summer.  So Ezra must have been born sometime late winter, early spring.  It was already midspring.  Well, now.  He and the other knights would have to do something about that.

Part 2