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they make it look easy

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“I’m sorry about your lumpy hat. Knitting is…a lot harder than they make it look on the internet and I’m sure you’ll have a bunch of better hats. Like, Granny will make you one and my mom will and hell, Henry probably knits better than I do." 

Poor little baby is barely more than an hour old and her precious head is wrapped up in Emma’s incredibly pathetic fifth attempt at knitting her a hat. Maybe she should have kept the fourth one, the edges were better but she thought she could do better, but then baby arrived and there wasn’t time for another try.

She opens and closes her little red lips and Emma sighs. No person should be this small, this warm and snuggly. She held Neal to day he was born, but that was a rescue, all terror and portals and heroics, this is quiet. The sky’s just barely grey by the window and Emma rocks slowly because she should rock, because babies like that.

Her brother does, and this little one is so much smaller. Still basically damp and fuck, what is she doing with her?

She moves her impossibly tiny fingers and Emma can barely breathe looking at her face. Regina’s there, in her ears and her nose, and her hair’s dark. Maleficent’s in her cheeks, in the shape of her shin and of course, she’ll be beautiful. She is beautiful, even slightly squashed and only half-awake.

Emma was not going to cry.

She really wasn’t.

But fuck. Here she is, little dragon baby, all wrapped up and warm and the squirmy example of a second chance, third chance, as many chances as it takes.

And she’ll grow up with her moms, safe and loved and so very spoiled. Even if her first hat is ugly.

Emma shifts her hand and wipes her eyes. "Dammit.” Her chest aches for Henry in a very old way, but he’s here in the kitchen with Zelena, making tea and some kind of very early breakfast. He’s nearly grown up and not a tiny baby in a lumpy purple hat. “Don’t feel like you have to keep this hat or anything. I should have brought you a little stuffed dragon like everyone else, but I like hats. They’re warm and they keep your hair out of your eyes, not that you have that much yet.”

Scrunching her face, baby sighs and sleepily and even that’s cute. Way too cute. Maybe she does want one. Staring at little fingers wrapped around her own, Emma rocks in the quiet while the sun creeps closer to the horizon and everyone else does something and she’s just there, with the baby.

They handed her the baby. Trusted her to keep her safe. Mal has to shower and Regina won’t leave her. This little baby is their miracle, but she’s in Emma’s arms while her mothers get cleaned up. She’s been fed and kissed, toes marvelled at and fingers adored. She’s had almost as hard a day as her mom, but she’s awake, staring up at Emma with unfocused eyes.

“Hi.” She takes a breath, her heartbeat thudding in her ears. “I’m Emma, and for some reason your moms made me your godmother. Not that I’m any good at the god stuff, or because I can teach you magic. Your moms are better at magic, even my mom’s better at cooking. You have the best big brother in any universe, any story, and I- well- I guess I- I’m here to help, okay? If you need extra cookies or skin your knee on the sidewalk outside Granny’s and tear your dress–”

Touching baby’s little cheek, Emma chuckled, picturing her older in the most adorable outfits. “You’re going to have the cutest little dresses, aren’t you? Your brother had had this pantsuit…” She didn’t really remember it, she’d seen pictures, but her lingering memories respond with thoughts of Henry, running and laughing.

“He’s really great, did I tell you? He’s so intelligent, and funny. He has such a big heart, literally the truest heart, it glows, like, he’s wonderful in every way. As you’ll be, as you are, I’m sure.”

Baby yawns and the effort it takes her tiny body makes Emma laugh. All of her arches and her little arms flail before she settles. Her eyes close, and she starts to fall asleep against Emma’s chest. “You’ve had such a big day.”

She’s warm and her chest is too heavy and too light all at the same time. How can a person start out so small? How is holding someone for the first time so poignant? This little one is a stranger. Emma’s only felt her kick through Mal’s body, and she loves her. She wants to keep her safe, make her laugh, watch her grow and see who she is.

“You’re safe,” Emma whispers. “You’re surrounded by so many people who love you in such a big, weird, crazy family, and we’re all here, your brother, your sister, your flying monkey loving aunt. We’ve got you. Whatever you want to do, whoever you find yourself turning out to be. We’re here and we love you, kid.”

She kisses that ugly little hat, leaving tears behind. “I’m going to make you another hat though, this one is hideous. I can’t believe your moms like it. They're supposed to have taste, you know?”