The legend states that Uther Pendragon fell in love with the lady Igraine while she was married to Gorlois the Duke of Cornwall. Ignoring that fact, as Kings are known to do, he pursued her. The lady fell for his charms and his grace, become enamored with the attentions of not only the man who was her king, but a man who was younger than her husband. The King showered her with gifts, spent hours in her company, and didn't spend much effort attempting to hide his affections. Under his rule the Kingdom was at peace, and he could afford to stop and kiss the ladies hand, or listen to her speak of poetry. In time the whole court knew about the secret, budding romance
As things grew more serious between the pair, Igraine balked. She was married and though she didn't love her husband, she did care for him and she had a duty as his wife. Plus what future could she have as mistress to the King? There would be scandal and any child born to her would be a bastard in the eyes of the court, even if it belonged to her rightful husband. There was also her husband to consider. Gorlois was being cuckolded and no man could take that for long. He had every right to punish her, to go against his King even, it was a miracle he hadn't already done so. Then again, if the King wanted something, who could stand in his way?
Afraid, suddenly, of where this path might lead her, Igraine told her husband about the affair. The Duke of Cornwall had known of course, it was common knowledge at court, but he took this as reason enough to take action. Packing up his wife he moved them to their castle and hoped that the distance would quell the King's interest.
If anything distance made it worse. Both Igraine and Uther were miserable and the kingdom suffered for it. Uther was a good king, strong and respected, but his interest in ruling the kingdom drained with Igraine's absence. Likewise she seemed to fade away the longer she was kept in her husband's castle, cut off from most contact in the expansive countryside.
Seeing as the country had only just begun to really knit itself together not that many years ago, there were still pockets of resistance and usurpers spread out throughout England. They could sense the weakness in the King and they rebelled. It was a small rebellion, and Uther met it heartily as he had any other battle he'd faced, except that during the melee the Duke of Cornwall was reportedly killed by enemy knights. As soon as Uther heard the news he called up his second in command and ordered them to crush the remaining rebels before speeding off to the Lady of Cornwall's castle.
Even in the midst of battle his mind had been on the woman, and he wasted no time going to her. He brought the news of her husband's death himself. She was sad, distraught, and fell into his arms. The rest, they say is history.
Igraine was given a month to grieve before she was wedded again and this time crowned Queen. Eight months later she gave birth to Arthur in secret. Legend says that the boy's life was in danger, or at least foretold to be so by the sorcerers in Uther's court. Desperate to protect his heir and mindful that people might not consider him legitimate considering how quickly Igraine had gotten remarried, he sent the baby off in the night to be fostered with another family. His first family was primarily chosen to offer the child a wetnurse, it wasn't until he was already at least a few years old, that he was moved to Sir Ector's care.
Uther's intent had been to bring his son back and proclaim him heir once the boy had reached a certain age, but fate had other plans. The still growing kingdom knew peace and prosperity during Uther's reign. When he died suddenly, leaving no heir to the throne, it crumbled. There was disorder and chaos, factions fought over the throne, and lords battled for the title of who should become King of all England. Then when the Sword appeared it was as though heaven was granting them an end to the bloodshed. Men from all walks of life flocked to the churchyard to try and pull Excalibur from it's rocky sheath. One by one they strained their muscles, and one by one from the strongest to the weakest, they failed. In time, the miracle was seen as nothing but an empty dream and the people lost hope again. The battle torn country fell into darkness and the last golden light that had been the reign of Uther sputtered out completely.
During all that chaos Arthur grew up under the care of Sir Ector. He knew full well that the knight had taken him in without having to. So as he grew he did whatever was asked of him without fuss, not so much to avoid punishment, but because he wanted to show he appreciated all that he'd been given. After all he had a roof over his head, clothes, and food. He was just a small boy really, he didn't need much else. He never complained even when he was forced to spend hours cleaning the kitchens or treated as little more than a nuisance by Kay. In fact he didn't mind even when Kay was mean to him, because well he felt honored. Not that many kitchen boys/wards got to be squire to a knight. Yet there he was, training for it.
You could perhaps say he was foolish, but to a boy his age, especially one who was most likely from a low class family, that was a big honor. A squire was certainly a lot better than a kitchen boy, or just normal old Wart. He'd get to travel, go on adventures, it was almost a bigger dream than flying. He'd do anything to prove himself worthy of the position, even running into wolf infested woods looking for a lost arrow.
He wasn't scared so much as determined to do his duty. After all, it was his fault the arrow was lost in the first place, what type of squire would he be if he didn't try and get it back? It probably wasn't his smartest decision but it was one that would change his life in ways he certainly wouldn't have expected.
Meeting Merlin and Archimedes was the biggest changing point in young Arthur's life. Here was a man who'd been expecting him, who saw something inside of him that was worth troubling over. He didn't know what it was, he'd never thought he'd amount to much outside of being Kay's squire, but he was fascinated by the old wizard and his magic. He was excited at the idea that someone actually wanted to teach him about the world, and as far-fetched and fantastical as half of what Merlin said sounded to him, he had no doubts that all of it was true.
In some ways Arthur came to consider the odd pair as his friends. He was glad Sir Ector had agreed to allow the wizard to stay (if a bit reluctantly) and went to bed each night anticipating what tomorrow's adventures would bring.
Of course almost getting eaten by a fish, and then almost again by a wolf showed him rather quickly just how dangerous these adventures could get. Still, he trusted Merlin, and if anything they made the lessons he was being taught stick. He realized now that he didn't have to be big and strong to beat someone, he could use his mind and as long as he had that there was a chance he'd win. He'd never really thought like that before. It made him, for a while, not feel quite so small.
Things were even looking up in the other part of his life. There was a tournament coming and he was going to be Kay's squire. The extra training made finding time to see Merlin everyday a little difficult, especially since he still had his occasional kitchen duties, but he never complained. He was learning, and he was going to go to London, so he worked his hardest for both.
Then he got in trouble.
He knew he shouldn't have mouthed off like that, but for once in his life he couldn't just keep his mouth shut. Sir Ector was being unfair, and stupid, and the words just tumbled out on their own. He'd never had an outburst like that in his life and it was no surprise when he was told he wouldn't be going to London after all. He'd never felt so disappointed in his life, and he almost instantly regretted his decision to act the way he had. Still he wasn't angry at Merlin, and he used that extra time to go spend more time learning with the old wizard.
Merlin gave him the chance to fly, something he really never thought he'd do, and it was even better than his dreams. Even if it put him into the hands of Madame Mim and nearly got him killed a third time...or is it fourth? He tries not to keep count of that sort of thing.
After that events kind of blurred together. Luck granted him his old position of squire and he was getting to go to London. It was honestly the happiest news he could have gotten, and his first thought was that he had to tell Merlin. He was happy about it, that at first, Merlin's clear disapproval of it all threw him off balance. He didn't understand, he knew that Merlin kept wanting him to be something great, but as far as he was concerned this was as great as he was going to get. He was lucky to have gotten back his chance to be squire, why couldn't Merlin see that?
He tried not to show just how disappointed he was when the wizard just blasted away and left them there. He still had Archimedes and for that he was grateful, but he'd been hoping that he'd have both of them. It didn't help that he felt like he'd done something wrong, and that feeling knitted into him the entire way to London.
He was nervous, eager to please not only Kay but Sir Ector, and worried about Merlin. It showed. He was normally very careful about the work he did, but that morning he forgot Kay's sword at the inn. Seeing as he had no way to get it, he was desperate, and his eyes fell on a sword buried in a stone in an empty churchyard. He should have been worried when the thing glowed at his touch, but he needed that sword, and he so he pulled it out and ran back to the tournament.
That's when the darkness came, filling the sky, and making him truly utterly terrified for the first time in his life. They ran. They ran because he was scared, and because Archimedes said they should run. They run until they are out of London, until the land looked so unfamiliar to him he wondered if they hadn't somehow traveled to one of those undiscovered lands Merlin used to talk about. They ran, and he dragged the sword behind him. It was big and cumbersome, but on some level he felt it was his and that it would be better to keep it then to let it out of his sight. Even if he wasn't really coordinated enough to use it. Having a sword was better than not having one at all. He kept expecting Merlin to come and tell them everything was alright, but it was always just them.
Considering the new world they found themselves in was completely and utterly different from Medieval London, Arthur took the transition pretty well. If only because he realized that the experience must have been a lot harder for Archimedes. He'd only been a bird for a little while, but the sense of freedom he'd felt in that time had been beyond words, he couldn't imagine what the change must feel like for the owl. Plus, and he had Merlin to thank for this, he was already familiar with the idea that the future was an amazing thing, and with the ability to change shapes. Though as far as he could tell the Portal's version of changing was different in some way. It wasn't just changing an owl to a man, or a boy into an adult. It was changing some fundamental aspect of who they were. He didn't feel like Wart anymore, the world didn't feel the same anymore.
Even the sword was different, one minute he was holding a blade almost as big as he was, the next he was grown and the sword was a small pendant clutched in his hand. He like it. It makes sense, and it lets him keep the sword with him at all times. Something he probably would have worried over otherwise.
He didn't think he would have noticed any of that before, but he did now, and it was his curiosity that cushioned the culture shock. The people there helped a lot too. They understood what it must have been like for him and they worked to make things easier, explaining the basics when he needed it. Of course everything he learned made him miss Merlin even more.
When he had to choose a name he decided it wouldn't hurt to stick with his own name. After all he'd mostly gone by Wart back in his world (it was a little weird having to think of the places as two separate worlds) so Arthur should have been safe enough. His middle name was chosen because after having nothing to look at but that sword when they were running, he'd learned enough to read the inscription on its blade. It hadn't really sunk in before, but according the sword he was King back in London. He didn't know what to make of that information, but he asked Archimedes for help choosing and came up with Alexandre and he figured it fit someone who was supposed to be a King. As for his last name? There had been banners with a dragon on them in the town. It reminded him of home.
He was sure that Merlin would come find them. While he settled into the world he was increasingly thankful that Archimedes, now Frank had chosen to stay with him. He doesn't know what he would have done without him, and in a way he came to see the older man as not just a friend but a father figure he hadn't really had before.
Seven years later there was still no Merlin.
Even as optimistic as Arthur could be, he had to admit that he'd lost hope of seeing the wizard again a while back. He knew Frank felt abandoned and hurt, but all he could feel himself was that it was his fault in the first place. After all wasn't it his announcement to become a squire that had set Merlin off? All these years later, after learning and doing what Merlin and Frank had been trying to do for him back home, he understood why the older man had been so angry. So as compensation, like the demerits he used to receive he threw himself into his schoolwork. Not just that, but physical training as well. He didn't want to be scrawny Wart ever again, and one day he actually did want to go back home, this time as a knight or even a king. Someone who can protect people, and save them. He wanted to be someone, and he couldn't think of a better way to start.
Sometimes he'd forget that you needed to cross over to remember, yet no matter how many time he'd put it off the memories never seemed to fade. He doesn't really know why, but he can go months, maybe longer (he's been scared to try) without crossing back to his home world, and the memories don't even get foggy. He keeps meaning to ask Frank what he thinks about it, but since he doesn't feel it's important hasn't really found the time to bother. After all, it's not a bad thing, so why question it and just let it be.