I don't own Merlin in any way or form. I know, it's a shocker. Take a few minutes, calm down, catch your breath. You'll get over it eventually.
Arthur led a group of fourth graders through the local museum for their most recent school project. He had been teaching elementary school for several years now and was still enjoying it immensely. He adored children. Well, at least the nice ones. He had met a few bad eggs in his lifetime.
This year he had moved up to teaching fourth graders instead of his usual class of second graders. He wasn't enjoying it as much as he had with the younger children, but he kept getting surprised at how much teaching, especially teaching little children, was a learning job.
This semester was focused around the Middle Ages, a subject which he had always enjoyed in his youth. Secretly, even though he was in his late twenties by now, he still loved that time period and enthused over it to the children all day long. He was very thrilled about teaching his favourite things. Knights and tournaments and such had always enthralled him, pulling him into the world of fantasy and adventure that he so often visited.
So there he was, at a museum, leading a school trip to learn more about Medieval art. He had a group of about twenty five children trailing behind him, some of the more attentive ones scribbling notes and observations down in a notebook when they came to an interesting piece. They were about halfway through the Medieval section, and when they were finished with that, they were going to move onto more modern art and compare the two different eras.
Arthur looked behind him and started to count his children, making sure that there weren't any missing. Arthur quietly swore under his breath, making sure that none of the children heard him, when he saw that Cameron and Taylor were gone. He scanned around the room in search of them, and soon found them at the opposite side of it, staring in awe at a painting that he couldn't quite make out from the distance. He sighed in relief and began to direct his students to the other two. This time, he brought up the rear of the group, keenly watching to make sure that no more of his pupils were wandering off.
"What were you two doing? You almost gave me a heart attack!" Once the group had finally reached the two separated children, Arthur knelt down and looked them over, as if searching for an injury of some sort. "Are you alright?" He asked.
"Yeah, we just-" Taylor of them started to reply, but Arthur interrupted.
"Well then, what were you doing? I told you not to stray from the group!"
"We know, but we saw the painting!" Cameron exclaimed excitedly while jumping up and down, pointing to a large painting that was hung up in front of them on the wall. Arthur stood up and looked at the painting that such a fuss was being made over. When he finally saw it he was stunned into utter silence and stillness, his mind racing for a plausible explanation before getting lost in the portrait. He felt like his heart plummeted into his stomach and stopped beating all at once. Then he felt like his heart was beating so fast that it would burst out of his chest.
"It's just like your drawings." One of the children remarked in obvious astonishment.
It was true. It did look like Arthur's drawings.
For as long as he could remember, Arthur had been drawing people. There were no names to go with them, just faces and figures. As if distant memories from a dream that was dreamt long ago, constantly dancing and drifting along all throughout his mind. There were many different people there, trapped inside his mind until they leaked out through ink on paper. A woman with dark skin and long, wavy hair, wearing majestic and royal looking clothes. Sometimes though, she had short and frizzy hair, usually tied back, and wore much simpler clothing. Mostly the same pink dress or a light lilac one.
Several times there were men dressed in chain mail, armour, and long, flowing, red capes with a golden dragon on the side. These men each had drawings of themselves alone as well the group ones, but they were mostly put together around a campfire in the woods, or fighting off some white ghostly skull thing with lit torches, among other adventurous things of course. Arthur himself was included as a knight in most of the group drawings. He often questioned why he was there, but it seemed too empty when he tried leaving himself out of them. He first made an effort to leave himself completely out after the two months he had gone entirely without drawing.
It was because one night, when he was seventeen, he started sketching. Just randomly drawing whatever came to him, as he did with most his drawings. He realized several minutes through it that it was of a boat on water from a bird's-eye view. He kept going, curious to see what else was included. As the sketching went on, he saw a man standing in the water, leaning over the boat. He couldn't see his face, though, as the head of dark hair was facing down, looking into the boat. So he kept going. Lying in the boat, he saw armour and a red cape, flowers and plants spread around the edges, the outline of a face, light hair, and finally, before he realized who it was, it was finished. Arthur looked at it, dread and a sinking feeling in his stomach falling over him when he realized he'd just drawn his own funeral.
He stopped drawing completely after that for a couple of months, as he had given himself quite a scare. However, drawing being his outlet and his passion in life, he couldn't go very long without it. It did take him a little under a year, though, to start cautiously and very slowly entering himself back into the mix of characters. So during that year, he kept with drawing the others.
Such as the kingly looking elderly fellow with a scar across his forehead. Sometimes he looked soft and compassionate, but most times very cold and stoic. There was a beautiful woman with long dark hair and and sharp green eyes, sometimes looking very regal, and other times looking positively wretched, with tangled and knotted hair and a black lace dress. An old withering man with shoulder length white hair and a quizzical yet caring look upon his face also appeared sometimes.
But the person that appeared most in Arthur's drawings, was one man. He looked to be ranging anywhere from his very early twenties to his early thirties, but there was a sense of knowledge and experience practically radiating off of him. He was just one solitary, young man, who seemed so wise and... so very old, even though still in his youth. He emitted a sort of presence. Very powerful, but very peaceful, calming, caring and so familiar. Like nothing could go wrong as long as he was there by your side where he would always belong. Other times though, he looked just plain goofy with an idiotic and friendly grin plastered onto his face, making Arthur either beam with happiness or become ill with a sad, melancholy feeling of nostalgia and pain every time he saw it. Often both at the same time.
Arthur had learnt from a young age to always carry a sketch book around with him, and he hadn't broken the habit once he became an adult. By the time that he become a teacher, he had filled out scores of drawing pads. He had designated a portfolio for each person, and by the time he had reached his adult years, he was incredibly good at drawing these faces. He'd even mastered painting them, but he liked them better done with drawing charcoal or a pen, even a pencil sometimes if nothing else was at hand.
Around the beginning of the school year, his students saw him drawing a picture of the woman with the wild hair and black lace dress and insisted that he show them the rest of the sketches. That's how Cameron and Taylor recognized the painting of a mystical young man, wearing a red neckerchief and a blue shirt, looking up with dazzling blue eyes, with a faint but clearly visible glimmer of gold in them.
A man seemed to notice Arthur's bewilderment and fascination in the portrait and walked closer to him.
"Interesting piece, isn't it?" He commented. Arthur ignored him as he kept staring at it, a strong sense of nostalgia and familiarity coming over him in waves.
"It's called 'The Protector'," He added, ignoring Arthur's disinterest in his entire existence. That caught Arthur's attention, though. He tore his gaze away from the painting and and looked to the man to his left. The man took this as a sign to continue and kept on speaking.
"It's unknown who painted it, but it's a mystery as to how he did it." He pointed to the painting. "If you look closely you'll see that there are no brush stroke marks. It's as if it was made by magic." He mumbled the last part and looked again to Arthur, blushing as if he were embarrassed by such a childish comment about magic. But Arthur didn't hear it, as he was already looking to the painting again, almost in a trance. The man walked away, leaving Arthur with his forgotten children.
Arthur knew that face. He knew that he knew it. He knew that familiar grin, that was just beginning to dance around the figure's lips. He knew those eyes and the dark hair. He knew this man, better than anyone.
"Arthur," A voice called from behind him. It was barely above a whisper, but oh so recognizable.
Arthur closed his eyes as he felt them begin to fill with tears.
He knew that voice.
He turned around slowly and opened his eyes.
Thank you so much for reading!
Also, I had Arthur noticing the colours of outfits and things from his drawings. I just wanted to specify that there isn't colour in the sketches. That's just Arthur remembering them.