Ch. 24.3 — Ezra barely noticed when Franklin delivered his lunch on a silver tray and then shut the door. He continued to pace back and forth, worrying. Would Butterfingers find the note he had left in the secret passage? Would Fritter heed his warning? Would any of his efforts help? Ezra’s two oldest brothers were so stubborn. As for the dragon, well, Jay B. R. Wokky was someone who could really hold a grudge.
Ezra became aware that someone was in the room watching him. The hair stood up on his neck. He stopped pacing, grabbed a spoon off the table, and backed up until his shoulders hit the wall. He listened. There wasn’t a sound.
Was this it? His assassin had come, but a few years too early? And all he had to defend himself was a teaspoon? Life really wasn’t fair.
Ezra gathered his courage. “Show yourself.”
An enormous tabby cat appeared on his window seat – a self-assured, even snooty cat who smiled, showing all his sharp teeth. At least, that’s what his normal eye saw. His magic eye saw a fey boy crouched on the cushion, scared, alone, and hungry.
Ezra felt sorry for the boy/cat: the fey child had much bigger problems than he did. Ezra knew better than to start a conversation with a hungry fey, so he sat down at the table and dished out a couple of strawberry tarts along with a saucer of cream. “Would you like to join me for lunch?”
While Ezra nibbled at a sandwich, the cat devoured the tarts as if it had been a long while since he’d had anything to eat. When the cat had licked up the last of the crumbs and drops of milk, he washed his face. “That was incredible.”
“I’ll let Cook know. They’re my favorite too.” Ezra took a bite of the last tart and savored the burst of flavor – rich, sweet strawberry filling in a light flaky crust. “Mmmm.”
The cat went back to the window seat and curled his tail around his toes. He stared at Ezra. “So, you’re the boy who sees.”
“So, you’re the knave who stole the tarts.”
The cat put back his ears. “How did you know that?”
Ezra shrugged. “I have friends in many places. They tell stories. I collect those stories. What else is there to do when I’m stuck in here?”
“Perhaps we can help each other,” Ezra said.
“I can’t get you out of your fate,” said the cat. “The name day gifts stand.”
Ezra resumed pacing. “So that’s it? I’m doomed to spend the rest of my short life in here?”
“Ha. You could have escaped long ago. You’re strong, agile, and clever. What I wonder is why you choose to stay?”
Ezra turned and looked out the window, feeling sad. His throat tightened. No, he wasn’t going to discuss his father with this lost fey boy.
“You know, I don’t hate the dragon for what he did to me. After all, I can’t remember being able to see normally out of my left eye, so I’ve never know the difference. It’s unfair to go and kill Jay after this many years. Besides, because of Wizard Colin’s gift, I’ve been able to help a lot of people. The gnomes are my steadfast friends. Thievery from the castle is a thing of the past. Changelings are no longer left in an unsuspecting mother’s cradle. The ghosts in the castle are happier. And just look at all the things I’ve invented. The kingdom is a better place.”
The cat had a sad expression on his face. “And yet, it’s never enough, is it?”
Ezra sighed and slumped down on the window seat beside the cat. “Nope. Maybe it never will be.”