Part 3

Buck was about to pull out all his hair.  Vin and Ezra would be back tonight and they were nowhere near ready.  He'd told Vin to keep Ezra out on the border as long as possible, but they couldn't stay out there all night.

Madam Nettie had the kitchen staff working overtime to get all Ezra's favorite foods done.  Buck and the others had noticed that Ezra always ate what was offered, but there were certain foods he would take seconds on.  A few times, he'd even remarked how good something was.  They'd been paying attention.  Josiah remembered how much he seemed to enjoy Madam Nettie's stuffed pheasant.  And Nathan mentioned that he always perked up when berries and cream were served.  Vin noticed how his eyes lit up whenever they had chocolate cake, too.  Of course, those would be in the menu plus some of the other things he seemed to like.

And then there was the entertainment.  JD said Ezra told him he was lucky to such amusing acrobats at his party.  So they just had to get them back for Ezra's birthday, too.  They'd done some sneaky interrogations, too, to get other ideas.  Buck chuckled as he thought about the look on Ezra's face every time they asked him some strange question.  They tried to work them into conversations naturally, but sometimes it just didn't work.  Ez would look at them like they were crazy.  You could almost see the little wheels turning in the young lord's head as he tried to figure out what was going on and what they were up to.

Buck looked around at the different shades of blue in the room.  Ezra wore a lot of red, but his favorite color was actually blue.  Chris found that one out.  He went to Viviane and asked her for any information she could give him on things Ezra would like.  It was a good idea that never occurred to Buck.  Ezra talked to the Lady of the Lake a lot and had mentioned how beautiful the different shades of blue in her lake were.  He said when he was a boy, he would look out his window at the sea and the sky and the blues always cheered him up a bit.  He always thought there had to be something special and magical about the color.

Buck shook his head as JD and Casey hung up the banner all crooked.  They still had to decorated the whole Great Room before Vin and Ezra got back.  Sure they could order the servants to do all the decorating and it would be done in no time, but it wouldn't be the same.  It would mean more to Ezra that they'd done it themselves like they did for JD's party--like he was worth the extra effort.  Just more of them actions that Ezra could believe in.

Josiah patted Buck's shoulder in a reassuring gesture.  "Relax, Brother Buck.  Everything will be ready by the time they get back."

"I guess.  I just want this to be perfect.  This is going to be the best birthday party Ezra's ever had."

"I think this might be the only birthday party he's ever had."

"You got that impression, too, huh?"

"It was hard to miss his reactions at JD's party.  His show of indifference wasn't very convincing.  He was definitely excited to be there.  The way he looked at some of the foods and entertainers...  It was obvious he hadn't seen such things before."

Buck had found out after he talked to the other knights that they'd all noticed Ezra's astonishment, too.  Buck should've known.  "I feel bad about sneaking around behind his back, though." 

"We all do.  I think our secrecy hurt his feelings.  We keep forgetting how sensitive he is."

"We did do a good job of it didn't we?"

"That we did.  But I think our young friend will forgive our deception once he sees the reason for it."

Buck rubbed his hands with glee.  "I can't wait to see the look on his face!"

Part 4