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Merlin never knew apples could be so red.

Red like a glaring nebulous-sun, breathtaking and too-sharp in his eyes. He's tempted to shield his eyes, to turn from the intensity, but it seems… one of his hands is already covered. By another hand, with golden skin popped in bright veins of blue.

It registers a bit late for Merlin, because the other man, carrying his own shopping basket, is gaping open-mouthed at him.

There's onions, and several tomatoes, and a bag of vinegar chips jumbled in Arthur's basket. And, Merlin doesn't know his name in this very moment, but he's struck by how enchanting this man is—chiseled features, but dreamy-stupor eyes.

Fingers, providing warmth, an eerie sense of comfort, slip over Merlin's hand gripping loosely to the piece of fruit.

"… Will you do the honours then?"

"Oh, I'll do anything you like," Merlin answers, slightly wide-eyed and beginning to grin. It sounds a little too eager and borderline creepy, but his soulmate laughs it off, throwing his head back and exposing his crooked, gleaming teeth.

.

.

The temperature is milder outdoors than usual.

He's never considered having it off on a trampoline, and Merlin doubts he may—maybe if Arthur can be convinced.

It's Arthur's family property after all. Mr. Stern Face Uther Pendragon is oddly genial, and not quite the troubling figure Merlin expects. He encourages Merlin into a discussion about his academy training, nodding at the right moments and asking the right questions. He reminisces fondly of his late wife—who has happened to dance pointe before.

Uther says when Ygraine appeared in his life, the colours were immediately luminous, glowy like veiled stars.

Everyone's different, he tells Merlin. Everyone will experience it the way it's meant to.

And it's meant to be like this, with them bouncing awkwardly on the trampoline, laughing childishly and kissing. Orange sunset gleams highlights to Arthur's blond locks, his fringe tumbling as he bends over and licks, hums pleasantly deep inside Merlin's mouth.

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Colours in motion is something to get used to.

Arthur finds himself dizzy, just attempting to keep his eyes on Merlin. The glitter-faced danseur pirouettes and leaps, rhythmic to the softly playing orchestra. He elicits admiring and semi-gleeful looks from everyone nearby. (Arthur's dizzy more and more often, along with fatigued, and he wonders if it's all to do with the dramatic visual transformation in his life.)

The stage is bedecked with greenery, to illustrate a forest scene. Merlin's character and another man sway together, caressing and reaching out. A completely silent and yet alluring version of Puck and Oberon.

Unable to fight off the nausea, Arthur shuts his eyes.

A crashing thud.

Low gasps echoing around him.

Somewhere deep inside him, a jolt runs through Arthur's body, as well as a flare-flash of pain. Arthur climbs to his feet, now with open, dreading eyes. Merlin's on the ground, one of his magnificent horns broken off, wincing and rolling over to clutch at his right leg.

Arthur nearly tears his way backstage.

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Merlin's injury keeps him from anymore professional ballet companies, but he accepts the circumstances given. With time.

Life gets busier every day without it, anyway.

They lay out on their den's sofa, with the lights out, Arthur reclining with the most space taken up. He taps Merlin's shoulder, distracting him from the blaring telly. "Watch," he says, the corner of his mouth lifting.

Arthur rucks his tee-shirt, stroking and pressing his fingers into the top of his overly pregnant belly. After a long, tentatively interested moment, Merlin chokes out a gasping laugh. Arthur's skin hollows upwards a little, as if a tiny elbow hits it.

"Oh my god, that's mad."

"It feels like I'm being punched," Arthur complains, removing his hand as his companion scrambles for his mobile. Merlin lets the recording go, holding it right in the direction of Arthur's exposed, huge tummy. "But… I'd like to think it's our baby's way of saying hello."

"Say hello, baby," Merlin coos, poking his skin repeatedly. He ignores Arthur nudging the side of his head with the television remote.

As soon as his finger stops, Arthur's belly pushes up gently with the impression of a teeny-tiny hand.

Arthur's laugh is high-pitched and excited, and it's exactly what settles into Merlin's chest.

"I think it's an alien," he concludes, recording Arthur smiling and holding himself.

"You're the alien, Merlin."

"But I'm yours."

Arthur's empty hand tugs on Merlin's collar, guiding him up, kissing him with friendly aggression.

"Of course you are."

.

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Violet—the colour of their little girl's ribbons.

Except he truly never is their little girl, and abandons his ribbons. Abandons the gender identity he has been assigned without his say, and Arthur is proud of him. William takes the jokes at his expense, the unforgiving cruelty, and the hatred from others with such bravery in his heart.

He can't see colours like his parents, not yet—but he is still the brightest thing Arthur has ever seen in his whole life.

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Merlin never knew the world to be so vibrant and bursting, or that the apples could be so red.

Until the day they aren't.

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Colours wither away, slow, ever-slowly,

They get replaced with blacks and whites paling to the winter frost. Merlin watches through the hospital window on Christmas Eve, his festive, thick-wool jumper knitted with grotesque grey reindeer and grey baubles. He cries noisily into one of his wet palms.

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It's been seven years, and the day comes where William babbles about a girl named Freya.

How brown her eyes are, Da.

And, so patiently, Merlin listens.

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BBC Merlin isn't mine. WOO! COMPLETE AND DEVASTATING ANGST. =D This was my entry to my own BBC Merlin Mpreg Father's Day Gift Exchange, and requested by rowanbrandybuck on Tumblr. I saw prompt online about: "You only see colors when you meet your soulmate and then you lose them when they die". I haven't tried any soulmate cliche fics SO WHY NOT MERTHUR, RIGHT? Any thoughts on this idea and what I tried out is so so welcome. Thanks!