It wasn’t an issue. Merlin may have been born blind, but he could see with every other sense. His Magic shaped the world around him, taught him everything he needed to know about the world around. He knew what colours things were, even if he could not see them. He would dream of what the world might look like, of the brightness of everything around. When Camelot bloomed, and Guinevere collected flowers for Merlin to braid into her and Lady Morgana’s hair, he could almost see it.
Morgana knew, of course. Her Magic enabled her to tell something was different, that Merlin wasn’t quite what he seemed. Gaius knew, but never treated him differently for it.
When Merlin’s Magic was revealed to the King of Camelot, Merlin thought he might figure it out. But Arthur, just as he had been oblivious to Merlin’s Magic, remained ignorant of the true reason behind Merlin’s slight clumsiness.
The Knights of Camelot, however, were a different story. Lancelot was the first to know, swore to Merlin that he’d keep the secret. Gwaine was the next to know, and Merlin was glad. They would spend hours out in the fields surrounding the Castle, where Merlin would describe what he could see with his Magic. In return, Gwaine would describe the people around them in such intricate detail.
He would take Merlin’s hand, guide it to his face and let Merlin explore. When he became comfortable doing such a thing, he asked Lancelot if he could do the same. The two were similar in many ways, or Merlin had believed them to be, up until the moment he could touch. Gwaine’s hair was longer, thicker to the touch. Lancelot’s jawline was smoother, Gwaine’s nose squarer.
Percival found out by accident. He walked in on Merlin investigating the texture of different flowers, Lance and Gwaine explaining the colours and likening them to other things around the Castle. The Knight then joined in the sessions of description, would show Merlin the world through the eyes of a man born to a Druid-group. Percival was more in touch with nature, found beauty in the same things that Merlin believed beautiful.
When Elyan found out, he did so at the same time as Gwen. The Blind Buddies (as Gwaine had taken to calling them, everyone else protested heavily) had been meeting in Morgana’s Chambers when the two arrived. Gwen cried a little, apologised for all the times she had questioned Merlin’s choice of flower combinations. Reds and pinks apparently shouldn’t go in the same bunches, but Merlin’s Magic didn’t tell him what colour they were. It merely told him they were there.
Leon was the last to know, but by far the funniest. He quickly took to making jokes, to letting Merlin pet his curly hair and describing himself as the most amusing objects. His hair was the same colour as the pastries if the cook let them glaze, his eyes the colour of the Lake (Merlin liked that one, it reminded him of Freya). His skin was the same colour as fresh parchment, and his armour the colour of the stormy sky.
Merlin loved their descriptions. The group would spend the time to teach him, to tell him everything. Today was no different, the Knights of Camelot out Hunting in the forests. Merlin was between Percival and Gwaine, looking around and letting his Magic take in all that surrounded them.
‘We’ll make camp here.’ They had taken down a boar, and Merlin could tell they were cutting it up. Just because he couldn’t see it, didn’t mean he was blind to what was happening. The only issue came when Arthur paused, prodding at something.
‘Have you ever seen a pelt this colour?’ The Knights all appeared surprised as well, whereas Merlin was unable to note the difference.
‘What could have caused it?’ The question, he realised in horror, was aimed at him. Merlin fell silent, about to make up some random medical lie that certainly wasn’t anywhere near the actual truth, when Leon piped up.
‘It looks rather like the colour of that itchy blanket Gwaine keeps in his room.’ All the Knights quickly agreed, even if Arthur questioned the relevance. For Merlin, the news was good. He could now identify the pattern between the two, the colour supporting a theory that the pelt was a light colour, almost the colour of snow.
‘It’s a medical condition, Sire. Rare, Gaius calls it a lack of a certain pigment in the blood.’ That was about all he knew, but it was fascinating enough for Arthur to skin the creature. Merlin moved to Leon’s side, smiled up.
‘Don’t mention it.’ Leon said with a smile that matched his, ruffling his hair.
‘I thought that was you?’ Arthur’s question rang out after the silence that followed the Druid’s speech, and Merlin swallowed.
They had been consulting the Druids on a particularly nasty curse that was affecting the cattle in Camelot. It was then that the Druid in question, Aglain, told them that Emrys would be able to help, once his sight had been cured. According to the Druid, it was destiny that left the Warlock blind, until he was powerful enough to be given the gift of sight.
Unfortunately, Merlin had already told Arthur that he was Emrys.
Now, the awkward situation was upon them where Aglain scrambled for an excuse, but it was too late. Merlin turned to his King, smiled very steadily.
‘I am blind.’ Three words, never said more simply.
‘But I use my Magic to understand the world around me.’ He could tell Arthur was frowning, for example. That the King was looking to his Knights, that had bowed their heads because they were guilty of keeping the secret.
‘You cannot see.’ Arthur muttered, sounding horrified. Merlin risked a cheeky smile, lips twitching up.
‘A blessing, really, considering your face.’
He expected being cuffed around the back of the head.
‘I’m scared.’ Merlin admitted, and Gwaine pressed their foreheads together. They were in Arthur’s Chambers, with the potion seated between them.
‘Talk to me.’ His boyfriend muttered, uncaring that Arthur was seated not too far away. That all of them were here for this moment.
‘What if I don’t like what I see?’ Merlin questioned. Ever since he had been told he couldn’t complete his Destiny without his gift, he had known it would come to this. To the moment where he would drink the potion, and he would finally see the world.
‘I think I should be more worried, what if you think I’m ugly?’ Gwaine joked, and Merlin laughed right back at him. A hand came to rest over his, squeezing.
‘Nothing bad will come of this, okay? You’ll finally be able to colour co-ordinate.’ He only had two colours of clothes for that very reason, because he could just about tell them apart. Sometimes he got it wrong, and he knew when that was the case, because apparently a blue neckerchief did not suit a blue tunic.
‘And see what colour flowers you’re putting in our hair.’ Morgana added, seated on his other side.
‘To see the blossom on the trees.’ Gwen said dreamily.
‘And to laugh at Arthur’s bed-hair.’ Arthur threw a pillow at his sister, which she dodged easily. Gaius moved to uncork the potion, holding it out in front of him.
‘You’ll see how grey you’ve made me over the years, with all this stress.’ Merlin chuckled, took the potion from his Uncle’s hand. A deep breath, before he squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed it down.
It tasted foul, but his Magic responded almost immediately. It itched under his skin, reached up and surrounded him, until he shuddered.
‘I’m scared.’ He repeated the words, and Gwaine’s hands came to cradle his face. Soft, gentle, thumbs tracing his cheekbones.
‘Open your eyes, Merls. See the world.’
He would never forget the first colour he saw, the darkest of browns with flecks of gold and green, a mixture so perfect that Merlin fell in love all over again.
He had a whole world to rediscover.