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Green. Her eyes were a stunning green whose beauty rivaled even those of the jewels of the royal family of England. Alfred had been thrilled the day that Emma had finally decided to show off her emeralds to the world, claiming that she had her mother's eyes (somewhere along the line, Arthur had been declared the "mother", which he wasn't going to complain about since he had, in fact, carried Emma for nine long months inside of him and if that wasn't the definition of a mother then the nearest dictionary should fall and clock him upon the head). Arthur had to admit, he was a bit disappointed at first that the eyes of the child of the New World hadn't been the ones to stare back at him the day his baby girl opened her eyes, but he had quickly gotten used to them. It was almost like looking into a mirror every time he stared down at his babe, though her eyes were just about the only thing she had inherited from him besides her soft skin tone. As she got older, her hair color had turned a soft golden tint, like the wheat fields of Alfred's country, a trait her father was oblivious to (Alfred was still busy marveling over the fact that his daughter had inherited his Nantucket despite her not being an actual country). Still, Arthur couldn't possibly come up with words to describe his daughter's beauty since his brain temporarily stopped functioning every time he got an eyeful of her.
The British nation had been bedridden for several days after the birth, too weak to even get up and go to the bathroom by himself (something he was highly embarrassed about). Luckily for him, his husband was more than willing to help with every little problem that they faced, taking on the challenges like a true hero. Arthur cringed every time it was left up to Alfred to change Emma's diaper, knowing for sure that it would take weeks (if not months) for the younger nation to get the hang of it.
"Gack! It smells like a bomb exploded in here!"
Arthur heaved a sigh from his position in bed, sitting up a bit straighter and getting ready to give instructions if needed. "Yes, and the faster you clean it up the quicker that smell will go away."
"A stink bomb!"
"Yes. Yes, I know."
"Seriously, we should contact the Guiness Book of World Records or somethin' cause this has got to be off the charts on the stink radar!" Alfred obviously wasn't listening and Arthur was quickly losing patience.
"Just change her and bring her here, please."
Several more complaints resounded from the room down the hall before Alfred appeared with a very cranky looking baby in his arms. Emma squirmed about, her face wrinkled up in disgust as she was handed over to her mother, who examined her and quickly found the source of her discomfort. "It's on backwards."
Alfred raised an eyebrow, leaning closer. "What? How can ya tell?"
Arthur gently flipped Emma around to show Alfred the error he had made. "The bigger part with the little animals goes on the back." Emma wasn't the least bit happy about having a backwards diaper, and her little cries were quickly becoming louder in volume and much more whiny. Arthur set her down in his lap and quickly righted the wrong, patting down the sticky strips and smiling at his little girl. "There. Doesn't that feel better, baby?"
Emma's cries dulled almost instantly, her big eyes opening to stare up at her mother with curiosity before cracking a big smile and cooing. Arthur, in turned, laughed right back, lightly tickling his daughter's chubby belly with slender fingers. Alfred looked on, sitting at the end of the bed, content to just soak up the moment with a loving smile on his face.
All in all, Emma was generally a pretty easy going baby. She cried when babies normally cried (when she was dirty, at bath time, or when she wanted to be put down for a nap), but most of the time a toothless grin could be seen on her little face. She had calmed down a lot as the months passed, no longer a wiggle worm when it came time to be fed, turning into some what of a little lady. Alfred's old dresses suited her perfectly, though she did get them dirty on occasion. Arthur was sure that this weekend he would be in for a rather heavy load of laundry, since the family was headed over to New York for Alfred's birthday. It was the first time since the wedding that Arthur had been out of the house, and he was glad to finally get a chance to stretch his legs. July was turning out to be a wonderful month, so he and Alfred decided that they would take a vacation at Alfred's Virginia home.
Emma had enjoyed the plane ride immensely, staring out the window and shrieking happily once they were high enough in the sky to see clouds. Arthur had muttered apologies to those around him when he found he couldn't quiet his daughter down, her excitement only rising with the altitude of the plane. Alfred held her close to the window, watching the clouds with her and telling her all sorts of things about where they were headed and what it was like to fly a plane. Though she was still much too young to understand exactly what was being said to her, Emma was content to listen to her daddy's stories, calming down and eventually settling down for a nap in his arms.
Getting through the airport without being stopped by a hoard of giggling teenagers was a difficult task indeed. The two were stopped several times, and Emma received more than enough compliments to make Alfred start to feel jealous that she hadn't inherited his eye color ("Why is that the first thing they notice anyway?"). Arthur politely conversed with as many people as he could before he had had enough, tugging Alfred by the arm out of the airport. He held Emma securely in his arms as Alfred haled a cab for them, the toddler observing the busy scenery around her with interest.
- - -
"I thought we would never make it!" Alfred dropped the suitcases on the floor by the front door before allowing the diaper bag to fall from his shoulder. "Imagine how crazy those girls would have gotten if they found out we were together."
Arthur only rolled his eyes, heading for the couch to sit down, "I think they already knew, Alfred." Honestly, how could someone be that thick? Emma had fallen asleep during the cab ride. Apparently the world below the clouds wasn't nearly as interesting as being in the sky, so she had drifted off to dreamland, no doubt dreaming of flying up high again. Arthur gently situated her a bit better on his shoulder, rubbing her back and speaking to Alfred. "I suppose we'd better put her down for a nap so that she's more awake for tonight."
Alfred removed his sneakers and walked over to join his husband and daughter on the couch. He reached out a hand, softly caressing the golden locks of hair that were rapidly growing on his daughter's head. That one strand of hair had continued to grow, now resembling Nantucket to the fullest, leaving Alfred to wonder what they were going to do when it came time to cut their daughter's hair for the first time. "Do you want me to bring her to her crib?"
A few months prior, Alfred had returned home and set up a room for Emma so that she would have a place to sleep when the family decided they could use a change in scenery. Emma couldn't exactly spend her entire life without knowing her father's country, now could she? Though the room wasn't nearly as fantastic as the one at Arthur's house (mainly because Alfred had to do everything himself), it was still rather homey. The walls were a light purple, the floors wooden with a circular dark purple area rug in the middle. The rest of the furniture was wooden to match the floor, and Alfred had made sure to stock the room with as many stuffed animals as he could possibly find (unicorns in particular) to make Emma feel at home. This would be the first nap she would take in her new room, and Alfred was excited to set her down in her new crib.
Arthur gave a nod, waiting for Alfred to hold out his arms so that he could pass off their baby to him. "Make sure you support her head,"
"I know, Iggy."
"Don't drop her."
"Arthur, I've been a father for a six months now. I think I know how to hold her." Arthur stopped, looking over at Alfred before realizing how silly he was being. A crimson blush crept across his face before he muttered an apology. "I suppose you're right."
Alfred laughed quietly, reaching over to peck his husband quickly on the lips. "I'll be right back."
Arthur kissed him back, his eyes closing for one fleeting minute. "Alright." Honestly, Alfred's smiles must be contagious, because Arthur couldn't stare at them for longer than five seconds without feeling the muscles in his face start tugging upward. He watched his husband climb the stairs, his heart swelling with pride at the care Alfred displayed towards their daughter. He really was turning out to be a wonderful father.
- - -
Her tiny fist reached forward a second too late as the grasshopper took the opportunity it was presented to hop into the air, landing beside the toddler's foot. Emma's cheeks puffed out into a pout as she looked around to find her lost bug only to have her father's hands in her face, the green inspect perched inside them.
"It's called a grasshopper, Emma." Alfred explained, laying on his stomach beside his daughter. They had spread a blanket out on the grass in the backyard to watch the fireworks that night. Emma had quickly become fascinated with everything the outdoors had to offer. She had already crawled off the blanket three times, but was content to sit there as long as she had something interesting to play with. The grasshopper had become her newest play thing.
"Close enough," Alfred laughed, tapping Emma on the nose with his free hand. The grasshopper was getting ready to leap off, possibly because it was frightened of the six month old child who had her face so close to it that it was practically in her mouth.
"Alfred, don't let her play with bugs," Arthur came over to the blanket, carrying a plate of hamburgers fresh off the grill (Alfred had cooked them, only allowing Arthur to apply the condiments). "She's going to get dirty again." He set the plate down beside the bags of chips and the drinks, crossing his legs beneath him.
The grasshopper sprang from Alfred's hand as fast as a jack rabbit at the sound of the Briton's voice. Emma's bottom lip protruded and began quivering at the loss of her new friend, but she didn't cry. Within a minute she had found a nearby slug to focus her attention on. Her attention deficit disorder was yet another thing she had inherited from Alfred.
"I thought that's what the baby wipes were for," Alfred pointed out, pushing himself up onto his hands and knees. He turned around to face his husband, swiping a burger off the platter to munch on while he talked. "You never let her have any fun, Iggy. Loosen up! A little dirt ain't gonna kill 'er."
Arthur closed his eyes as burger bits were spit in his general direction, wiping his face with a napkin before opening up a cup of applesauce. "Emma, come here, love."
The toddler was lifted from her spot beside her slug friend, being perched on her mum's lap. Green orbs widened as she spotted her dinner for the night and her chubby arms waved around, hands coming together to clap awkwardly. "Om! Om!"
Arthur mixed up the sauce with the tiny spoon before holding out a generous amount for his daughter. She was quick to bring her mouth to the spoon, slurping up the contents nosily while clapping some more. Arthur's hopes that she would have a dignified appetite were out the window at this point. He cleaned up the excess food from her face with her bib and gave her another spoonful.
Alfred watched the display while devouring his third hamburger, making just as much of a mess as Emma was. His head tilted to the sky, thoughts drifting for a moment as it became silent around them. "The fireworks should be starting soon." No sooner had the words left his mouth than a loud whistling sounded around them and their heads snapped to the sky, noticing a firework exploding off in the distance. A huge smile spread across Alfred's face, leaning back on the palms of his hands to watch the show.
Emma remained silent, staring up into the clear sky at the pretty colors that were showering down upon them. She reached her hands up, as if hoping to catch the glittering remains with her chubby hands. Arthur looked down at his daughter, thoroughly surprised that she didn't seem the least bit phased by the loud noises. "She isn't scared." he breathed as another firework went off, and then another after that.
Alfred let out a loud "droohoo!" and pumped his fist, causing Emma to burst out laughing. "Of course she isn't! She's the daughter of a hero!"
A stupid statement indeed, but that didn't change the fact that Emma was acting more like Alfred by the minute. What child wasn't afraid of loud noises? Arthur prayed that perhaps it was because his daughter was just brighter than the average child, knowing enough that a sound wasn't something to be particularly scared of. Yes, that had to be it. It couldn't possibly be that his daughter was taking after Alfred to the point that she was turning out to have a hero complex.
"That one's red, white, and blue!" Alfred shouted over the noise, bending down to explain things to Emma who giggled in response. "Those are daddy's colors, Emma!"
Arthur was about to open his mouth and correct him, but decided against it seeing as Emma was having so much fun watching the fireworks display with her father. At least they would have something fun to look forward to now on Alfred's birthday which eased the pain a little bit for Arthur.
- - -
Once the fireworks display was finished, Alfred figured it was high time to bring out the sparklers. Arthur had forbidden him to purchase any other kinds of explosives, having deemed them dangerous and not suited for children (not that Emma was about to play with the sparklers). Alfred stood a little ways away from the blanket, lighting up the first sparkler and watching the look on Emma's face change from one of complete curiosity to one of utter amazement. It was as if her father had just produced fire from his hands and was waving it around on a stick a few feet away from her. She squealed loudly, bouncing on the blanket and clapping her hands as Alfred waved the sparkler around to entertain her.
"She likes 'em, Iggy!"
Arthur couldn't help but smile. Emma was fascinated by everything that kept Alfred happy. She truly was his daughter, and he had to admit that it warmed his heart to watch this little display, but he had matters to attend to. "Good. Could you watch her for a moment? I have to get something from inside."
Alfred waited until the sparkler had gone out before going back over to the blanket and scooping Emma up into his strong arms. "Sure! But don't take too long, I wanna use the rest of these before she gets too tired."
Arthur gave a nod and stood up, dusting off his pants and heading for the back door, a smile on his lips. He made his way into the kitchen, picking up a platter from the counter and removing the tinfoil from the top of it. There sat the cake he had made for Alfred's birthday. It consisted of a plain yellow inside, covered with white frosting. On top, the words "Happy Birthday, Alfred" were written neatly in red and blue. Arthur stood back and admired his work for a moment before opening up a kitchen drawer and pulling out a pack of candles. He decorated the cake and lit each candle with care, being sure not to set anything aflame. Then, with the most balance he could muster, he carried the cake to the door. Alfred had his back turned to him, not suspecting a thing as Arthur crept back over to his family and sat down, the cake in his lap.
"Hm?" Alfred craned his neck around, instantly catching sight of the lit candles and breaking out into a smile. He turned his entire body around, Emma still situated comfortably in his lap, sucking on the ear of her stuffed unicorn. "Aww, Iggy! You made me a cake!"
The British nation pushed aside his pride and quietly began singing Happy Birthday to his husband, his voice quivering from nerves (the ridiculous smile that was plastered on Alfred's face didn't help matters in the least) thankful when he reached the last note that it hadn't cracked mid-chorus. Once the song was finished, he leaned carefully over the cake, catching Alfred's lips in a quick, but meaningful kiss. His eyes then turned to the bouncing babe in Alfred's arms. "Help daddy blow out the candles, Emma."
"Think you can do it, baby?" Alfred looked down, noticing Emma's eyes locked on the tiny flames of the candles. "Go like this," He demonstrated by blowing at the air, which Emma quickly began to mimic. "Alright! Here we go!" Arthur held the cake out to them and together they extinguished the flames, Alfred letting out a cheer. "Thanks, baby! We did it!"
Emma gurgled and laughed, clapping her hands again as Alfred bounced her in his lap. She was eating up the attention and the praise she was getting while Arthur began cutting the cake, pushing a plate over to Alfred. At that point, the American nation stopped bouncing the baby in his lap and looked nervously over at his husband. "Y-You don't really want me to eat this, do you?"
Arthur's head whipped around so quickly that Alfred could have sworn he heard his neck crack. A venomous green glare met him, thick brows knitting together dangerously. "I made it for you, Alfred. Why on Earth wouldn't you eat it?"
"That's exactly why I wouldn't eat it!" Alfred protested. "Because you made it!"
Arthur didn't seem to be listening. He picked up his plate of cake, breaking off a small piece and bringing it to Emma's lips. "Here. Emma will eat some and show you just how good it is. Say "ah", love."
"Are you crazy?! It could kill her!" But it was too late. Emma had opened her mouth and clamped it shut around the fork, chewing thoughtfully on the piece of cake. For a moment all seemed perfectly fine, until Emma's little face contorted into one of sheer agony, her eyes filling to the brim with tears. She burst out crying, spitting out the piece of cake as if the food had bitten her tongue, in complete hysterics. "See?! I told you!"
Arthur could practically feel his heart crumbling in his chest. His own daughter hated his cooking. What kind of parent was he? He was sure this recipe had been a success! Where had he gone wrong?
Alfred spooned Emma up against his shoulder, patting her back and shushing her. "It's okay, Em. I won't let mummy feed you nasty food anymore. Don't worry."
She had her father's taste. That was another thing to add to the list of traits Emma had inherited from Alfred. But Arthur wouldn't let this get him down. He was positive that Emma had inherited something from him as well. He just had no idea of knowing just how special that inheritance was at that moment in time.
- - -
The cake incident had signified the end of their outdoor time. It took a great amount of effort to get Emma to stop crying. In fact it was nothing that either of her parents had done to make her stop crying, she had simply tired herself out. She had fallen asleep against Arthur's shoulder, leaving Alfred to bring the blanket inside and throw away the food. Arthur was displeased to say the least, but once he brought his daughter up into her new bedroom all of his anger had dissipated.
He took the time to admire the quaint little room as he set Emma upon her changing table, putting her into a fresh diaper and pulling her nightgown on. Alfred had really put a lot of effort into making this room look cozy, and it made Arthur's heart clench within his chest. So this was what he was up to when he had gone home that one weekend a couple of weeks back. This was the project he was working on. The Briton had to admit, it was one of Alfred's better ideas.
Arthur scooped up Emma once she was dressed for bed and crossed the room, bending over the crib and gently laying her down inside. Her unicorn, Winston, was already there waiting for her, so Arthur tucked him close to her side. Her little hand clasped around the strands of hair on Winston's mane, holding him close as a small smile appeared on her rosebud lips. Arthur smiled back, straightening up and reaching for the airplane mobile above the crib. He turned the device until it was good and wound, letting it go and listening as the sound of the music box-like tune filled the room. He stood staring as the mobile went round for a few minutes when something glittery caught his eye.
There, sitting upon the railing of the crib, were the four fairies who had helped him clean his room all those months ago. His eyes widened, catching the smug looks on their tiny faces as they each waved to him. "You--" he started, shocked as to why he was seeing his fairy friends for the first time in over a year.
"Arthur likes his baby, right?"
That was when it hit him. His eyes traveled from the fairies to his daughter who was peacefully dozing off in her crib, then back up again. "You did this…didn't you?"
Suddenly it all made sense. The reason the fairies had asked him so many questions about Alfred's childhood, the constant pressing of the fact that Arthur was now childless and alone, the fairy dust he had found coating his sheets the next morning. Everything clicked into place, making a clear and simple picture in his mind. It was so obvious! Why hadn't he thought of it before?
A chorus of soft giggles broke him from his thoughts, and just like that the fairies had disappeared, leaving Arthur to wonder if they had even been there to begin with. Had the fairies really been the one who had helped him become pregnant? Were they responsible for the child sleeping in the crib beside him? Something in his heart told him that they were, and if he was right then his friends had given him the greatest gift the world possibly had to offer. He would treasure her, forever.
A ghost of a smile appeared on his lips as he stared distantly at the spot where the little fairies had been only moments prior. "Thank you…" Arthur Kirkland then pressed a kiss to his daughter's forehead, wishing her sweet dreams before heading off to bed with the man he loved.
- - -
I…did it…I actually FINISHED this story!! Even I can't believe it! Honestly, I'm going to cry any second now…I always get so emotional after finishing these (it's a good thing I hardly ever finish, right?).
I know this wasn't my best chapter, but it was really hard to write and I hadn't a clue what to write for a very long time. Inspiration suddenly hit me one day and I took a few hours to write the middle portion. The end had been planned out since the very beginning, of course.
All in all, I hope you guys enjoyed it! The sequel will get started as soon as I sort out some minor details going on in my life right now. But I would love to hear from you guys! Leave comments and suggestions telling me what you want to see in the second story! I have a general idea of what's going to happen, but nothing too deep, so I need all the help I can get!
I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me since the very beginning! You guys are honestly the greatest! I couldn't ask for better readers! Thank you to everyone who has sent me their lovely art for my story (please keep it coming, if you want to do more)! I just can't thank you guys enough, honestly!
I'll see you all next time!