ROLES (Camelot AU)

by MTopaz


Part 1

Lord Ezra Standish, knight of the Round Table, was hiding in the royal stables of all places.  Perhaps Sir Josiah wouldn't come looking for him there.  Ezra liked him well enough, but lately he'd become overbearing.  Once he realized the Ezra had some magical abilities, the aging wizard decided to make him his apprentice.  Apparently, Ezra's protestations meant nothing to him.  The young lord had been congenial and polite at first, simply declining to join him in his sorcerous endeavors.  The man wouldn't take no for an answer.  Sir Josiah was constantly following him and pushing him on the subject, becoming more vocal as time passed.  He seemed to think that Ezra had a duty to himself and to the kingdom to master his nascent powers.

It was bad enough that Morgan's tampering had permanently imbued him with certain passive magical abilities--he could see through glamours and illusions, feel the presence of magic--but now Josiah wanted him to actively use and strengthen that part of himself.   

Unfortunately, Ezra had lost his temper earlier this morning and said something unkind.  Of course, Sir Nathan then had to step in and castigate him for being ungrateful to Josiah.  After all, he was going to be doing Ezra such a huge favor by deigning to share his wisdom and experience with him.  After what Lady Morgan did to him, Ezra would much rather gain wisdom on his own, thank you very much.

Ezra hung his head with a sigh.  Just more reason for Sir Nathan to put him down.  The healer already thought Ezra was using magic to cheat at cards and just about everything else.  Just the other day the man had accused him of bewitching his horse when the beast began acting out of sorts.  What was one more black mark against him in Nathan's eyes?

Couldn't they understand how much he hated the magic within him?  He had nothing against magic in general.  It was a natural part of the world.  Some magics were good for healing and fighting evil.  But whatever power Ezra had was a result of the things his mother did to him combined with whatever potential he'd inherited from her.  Morgan's power was one of destruction and terror.  He wanted no part of that.  Magic was fine for others, but not for him.  Ezra couldn't find the words to explain how the thought of wielding such power repelled him.  They should've been perceptive enough to see it.  He didn't want to have that kind of power over others.  Why couldn't Sir Josiah see that?

"Ezra?  Hey, Ezra!  What are you doing in here?  Josiah's looking for you."

"When isn't he?  I much prefer the company of the horses at this time.  Was that the only reason you were seeking me out, Sir JD?"

JD frowned.  Ezra was always so formal with them.  It was starting to get on his nerves.  And why was he being so uppity?  "How come you always call us by our titles?  I thought we were friends."

"Sir JD...JD.  I was taught to always be respectful of rank and title."

"But the way you say it...  Sometimes it sounds kind of high-and-mighty."

How could he put this so the young man would understand?  "Sometimes the things we are taught as children always stay with us.  You ask me why I address you so formally.  I could ask you why you wear a peasant farmer's hat."

"What's wrong with my hat?"

"Nothing.  It's just...  You're a knight of the Round Table, a man of standing and respect.  Why do you cling to something from your childhood life among the village folk?  Even though you're a knight, there's an aspect of the common man in you because that is how you were raised.  I, in turn, was raised another way.  Like you, I cannot simply turn off the habits of my upbringing."

JD's face turned red.  "You saying I'm common?  That I'm a peasant that doesn't know how to act or dress?"

"Good Heaven, no!  I..."

"Well, maybe I didn't have your fancy clothes and education, but my ma did the best she could.  I'd rather be 'common' than a snobbish dandy who treats his friends like strangers."  JD ran out of the stables, almost knocking down Buck who was headed their way.  JD just kept on going.

Ezra whispered to the empty room.  "I'm sorry.  It's just hard for me to turn it off."

Buck came in to the stable, looking for answers.  "What's the matter with the kid?"

"A misunderstanding, I'm afraid."

"What did you say to him?"

Ezra didn't want to get into it.  "Nothing you'd care to hear."

"When it comes to that boy, I have a right to know what's going on with him."

Ezra was getting angry now.  Ever since he woke up this morning, he'd been harassed and railed against by the others.  He was sick of trying to defend himself to people who didn't care to listen.  "He's a knight of the Round Table, not a boy.  Are you going to follow him around the rest of his life, wiping his nose and holding his hand?"

Buck hauled back and punched him square in the jaw.  JD may be a knight, but he was still pretty naive and needed some looking after now and then.  That's what family did for one another.  He turned and stormed out of the stables.

Ezra wiped the blood off his mouth.  One of the horses nickered and stamped his foot.  "Mind your own business, you ugly plow horse."  He staggered over to a stool in the corner to sit down.  When had everything gone wrong?  After Morgan's troops had been routed from the castle, the others had welcomed him to their group.  They'd nursed him back to health, sat with him as he'd recovered, and included him in their activities.  But over the weeks, things had changed. 

It had started with the king.  King Christofer would yell at him for no apparent reason, talking to him like he was a stupid child.  Then he would force Ezra to sit with him while he got drunk and told stories of his dead wife and son.  The next day he would avoid him like the Plague.  Ezra hardly ever went on missions or campaigns anymore.  The king always found some excuse to assign him to guard the castle with one of the others in their absence.  Did he not trust him to watch his back in battle?

The others had seemed to adopt the king's attitude.  They usually kept their distance or forced him into activities he abhorred--like Sir Josiah and his magic lessons.  No matter what Ezra did, he just couldn't seem to fit in.  What did they want from him?  If they would just tell him, everything would be okay.  He'd been trained by Lady Morgan how to pretend and how to fool others.  If he knew what they wanted him to be, he could become it.  Except for the magic.  He couldn't do that.  He wouldn't!  Anything else.

But they all seemed to expect something different.  Sir Vin was the worst.  Ezra couldn't read him at all.  Why were they confusing him like this?

Part 2