Hey everyone! Sorry it's been far too long since I've updated and unfortunately this will be the last chapter (please don't hate me lol).I started this fic over a year ago and I never planned on doing so many chapters as much as I have loved writing it, I wanted to write a happy ending.
This chapter is for everyone who has stuck with me. I've been overwhelmed by the response and amazing reviews from all of you... Hope you enjoy the finale.
Seven months later...
The party was in full flow at the Swan-Cassidy household. Multi-colored 'Happy Birthday' banners draped over the tops of each door and there was a stack of unopened presents in the corner of the room. Each present had smooth shiny wrapping paper and pink bows tied around them. The birthday girl had definitely been spoiled. A loud group of excitable children ran through the house, followed by Pongo, who was wearing his own pointy party hat.
"Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday dear Eva, happy birthday to you!"
Everyone sang to a very bemused Eva who was bouncing up and down on her mother's lap. She clapped along with them, even though she was still far to young to understand the fuss everyone making, she was most definitely enjoying all the attention.
Emma delicately brushed one of Eva's loose blonde curls away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. "Make a wish baby girl." She whispered softly and placed a small kiss on her daughter's cheek.
Everyone clapped and cheered again when Eva, with her mother's help blew out the star candle on her birthday cake. The music started up again and all the children scattered off to play.
"Way to go birthday girl!" Neal grinned and kissed the top of her's daughter head. "And way to go Mom." He winked at Emma, who merely rolled her eyes at him.
"Time for presents!" Henry cheered loudly making Eva jump at the sound of his voice. "You want to open some presents, don't you Eva?" He laughed at his little sister's attempt to wriggle free from their mother's lap and he took that as a yes.
"Come on then Princess." Neal smiled and lifted his daughter off Emma's lap.
Eva giggled hysterically as her father kissed her little nose and lifted her high above his head. Neal gently swung her around a couple of times in the air which caused her to giggle even more. He loved the sound of her laughter. He carefully brought her back down to his hip after hearing Emma concerned protests that Eva was more likely to throw up after all the treats she had eaten today.
"Guess we better listen to Mommy." He smiled and tickled Eva's chin.
"Dad, come on!" Henry complained impatiently.
Emma could have sworn she almost heard the excited cogs turning a frenzy inside her son's head as she raced over to the stack of presents. Seeing how excited he was, anyone would have thought it was his birthday today and not his little sister's.
Henry was in his element as he picked up the biggest gift he could find in the pile. He began to shake the present in the air, almost knocking his father's head off in the process.
"Whoa there Buddy, remember that's for Eva, not you." Neal laughed and ducked again to avoid being hit.
He looked over his shoulder at Emma who was still watching on from the kitchen. He tried to ignore the slight concern that she hadn't joined them, but he knew she still struggled a little especially when they were lots of people around.
"Right let's get started on these presents." Neal grinned and sat himself down next to Henry with Eva on his lap.
Henry passed the gift to his sister and started to help her tear the wrapping paper. Unlike her brother, Eva was more fascinated by the shiny paper than the gift itself and the second she had a piece of it in her hands, it made a straight course to her mouth.
"Aw Eva honey, I'm sorry but you can't eat that." Neal laughed and tried to wrestle the paper out of his daughter's sticky hand. But she was having none of it and tried to poke the soggy paper into his mouth instead.
After a struggle with Eva, they finally got the gift unwrapped. It was a bright yellow ride-along car which was almost a perfect likeness to the yellow bug. Neal picked up the tag on the discarded paper and smiled when he saw it was from his Papa and Belle.
"Look Eva, this is awesome." Henry beamed and started pushing all the buttons on the plastic dashboard. The toy car beeped and the lights began to flash.
Eva, however had managed to escape her father's hold and was crawling around on floor, stealing the discarded shred of paper. Unknown to Henry, she was secretly hiding the paper down the back of his shirt.
Emma smiled to herself as she watched the little scene unfold in front of her. She couldn't stop herself from laughing when Henry realized what his little sister had been up to. Eva beamed and clapped proudly as the paper fell out of his shirt as he shook it, her daughter definitely had her father's mischief streak.
She relaxed back in the chair and let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding in. She had a sense of relief that after the year they had been they were still carefree and happy. She hadn't completely screwed it up. She smiled again as she now watched Henry push Eva around on her new toy car while Neal raced after them. The sight of her husband and two children laughing and playing together made her heart flutter with pride. It was perfect.
"It suits you." A voice interrupted her thoughts.
Emma reluctantly pulled her gaze away from her family and turned to face the intruder. Her eyes went wide with surprise when she saw Regina standing over her. Though her timing could have been better, Emma didn't want to seem rude and acknowledged Regina's presence with a smile.
The two women stared awkwardly at each other for moment until it dawn on Emma that even though she had heard Regina's voice, she hadn't registered what she had said. "Uh... Sorry, what was that?""
Regina stretched her lips into a tight smile, "I said it suits you." She tried not snort as she watched Emma's eyebrows crease in confusion. It was obvious she didn't understand the meaning behind the words. "Being a mother, you look happy."
Regina couldn't help but notice how Emma's face lit up with pride and gratitude at her words. She knew that look all too well. Gone was that frighten, broken, little girl she had bumped into that night at the diner and in her place was a woman who had proved herself as mother. Though she would never admit it out loud, motherhood most definitely suited Emma Swan.
Emma felt an embarrassed blush creep over her cheeks. She took a deep breath and let out a half nervous laugh. "Thank you." It felt odd to hear those words especially from Regina. Her eyes narrow slightly. "Wait a sec, why are you being so nice to me?"
Regina pulled a mocked hurt face before breaking out into a smile. "Just take it as compliment." She laughed and began to help herself to the cake.
Emma suddenly felt her eyebrow arch when she spotted Robin Hood standing only a few feet away from them. She smirked to herself when his eyes caught hers and he immediately looked down to the floor. Emma had heard rumors about them being a couple but after spending the last few months of being the main topic of gossip she had chosen to ignore it. But this definitely explained why Regina was in a good mood.
"And you look happy too." Emma said and looked back to meet Regina's eyes.
For a moment a feeling of mutual understanding and friendship passed between them as they smiled at each other. Regina give Emma a small nodded of gratitude before re-joining Robin with two slices of birthday cake.
Emma heard a grumble of frustration and turned to see Henry flop down on the chair next to her. He crossed his arms over his chest and huffed loudly, in attempt to get her attention. There was a sense of teenage moodiness about him, that she knew only too well.
Emma barely kept her laughter inside her as she watched him mutter away to himself. She desperately wanted to lean forward and brush his cheek, but held herself back. Sadly Henry wasn't a little child anymore and no matter how much she wanted to recapture the childhood memories she missed out on, he probably wouldn't appreciate his her coddling him in public. What teenager would?
"Okay Kid, what's wrong?" She asked, trying the direct approach instead.
"Eva got bored with opening her gifts." Henry grumbled.
Emma followed his gaze across the room until they fell upon Neal and Eva dancing along to the music. She smiled softly and watched Eva as she tried to catch one of the balloons floating in the air while Neal was twirling her around.
"Why aren't you up there with them?" She asked, turning her attention back to her son.
Henry shrugged, "I haven't got anyone to dance with, but Eva is having fun, that's all that matters." He answered. He tried to hide the disappointment in his voice, but there was no fooling his mother.
Seeing Henry's disappointed face was enough to spur Emma into action, though she still felt self-conscious and knew she was probably going to embarrass both of them; she had to ask before she changed her mind.
"Right come on Kid." She said and held her hand out towards Henry, who stared up at her confused. "Your dad and sister have proven they know how to work the dance-floor, so I think it's down to us to show them a thing or two."
Before he had chance to refuse, Emma pulled him up for a dance. Mother and son glided well stumbled around the room, laughing together as they pulled each other round to the music.
"How do they look?" Belle asked as she placed another batch of freshly baked cupcakes down on the table. It was ridiculous how much her stomach was in knots as she waited to hear the verdict on her baking.
"They're perfect Belle, thank you." Snow replied, eager to compliment her friend. "I think we did well." She laughed as she looked at the bright-colored bowls filled with all kinds of party food and the tower of cupcakes.
"We make a good team." Belle smiled, feeling relieved they had managed to succeed in pulling off their first team Grandmothers task of preparing the party food together.
Snow nodded and smiled at the sentiment. It seemed the party guests agreed with them as Alexandra and Roland came running up to the table and grabbed another cupcake each. Both women laughed as they watched them fill their mouths with another handful of candy before running back to re-join the party.
Snow passed Belle a well-deserved a glass of punch. "And thank you for helping me keep our husbands in check today, I did not want a repeat of what happen as Thanksgiving." She joked before taking a sip.
However it didn't stop her from glancing over her shoulder to double-check on David and Rumpelstiltskin's whereabouts. It did slightly worry her when they saw them in the corner playing a game of chess. For some unknown reason, when the two of them together it very quickly turned into 'battle of the grandfathers.'
"You're welcome." Belle smiled. She had already given Rumple a lecture about his behavior and that any use of magic of 'any kind' was strictly off-limits. "I have to say this is definitely turning into some birthday party."
Snow nodded in agreement as her eyes looked around the house. It was clear the amount of effort Emma and Neal had gone into decorating every room. They had also taken the time to make sure every child had their own party hat and choice of games to keep them entertained, but it didn't stop her from letting out a sad sigh.
"I think Emma felt that she had to make up for the lost months after Eva was born..." Snow paused suddenly. Her eyes darted away from Belle. She hadn't meant to say that out loud. Emma was doing so well and she had tried so hard to avoid bringing up the subject of daughter's depression, but the words had just slipped out. She blushed again shyly. "I'm sorry. I really don't know why I said that."
Belle was hesitant for a second; she was unsure of the right words to say. She knew how difficult the past year had been for everyone. She reached down and took hold of Snow's hand in her own. "It's okay, it's been a tough this year, especially for Emma, but we can all see how well she has done and we're all very proud of her."
Belle could see Snow's face melt almost in awe at her. "This is truly the best birthday party birthday Eva could have ever hoped for." She squeezed Snow's hand reassuringly. "And her parents are certainly enjoying themselves."
Snow followed Belle's gaze to the other side of the room. A smile began to spread across her face when she caught sight of Emma dancing and laughing with Neal and her grandchildren. Her daughter and her family looked so happy and carefree that Snow allowed herself to push all her worries to one side for now.
Two hours passed quickly and all the guests and children had left, equipped with a party bag and piece of birthday cake.
Snow smiled gently to herself as she sprinkled grounded cinnamon over the steaming mugs of hot chocolate. For a moment she reminded herself of the similarities she shared with her daughter and how much she loved each one of them.
Her smile began to fade slightly, the last time she had made hot chocolate in this kitchen was the day her daughter had broken down and confessed to having postnatal depression. Snow pondered on the memory for a moment before quickly shrugging it away. Belle was right today was about celebrating Eva's birthday instead of dwelling on the past.
She lifted the two mugs up and made her way towards the front room, passing the small gathering around David and Rumpelstiltskin's chess game. Her eyes caught her son-in-laws and she could see the relief in his eyes that the game hadn't broken out in a fight just yet. They both shared a warm smile, before she continued on her way to the next room.
Snow paused suddenly in the doorway, her mouth opened as she marveled at the sight of Emma and Eva in front of her. She tilted her head and smiled as she watched them sat together on the sofa.
Emma seemed so relaxed as she lounged back with Eva sprawled comfortably on her lap. Her very posture showed how much she had changed in the last few months. She was no longer holding back or afraid for being close to her baby. She was completely contented and involved with the little girl.
Eva was blissfully happy as she bounced up and down. "QUACK!" She squealed happily and waved her new duck beanie in the air.
Emma instantly melted, her daughter was a funny little thing. Both herself and Neal had tried to teach Eva to say 'Mama' or 'Papa,' they had even tried 'Henry' but the only word Eva had mastered was 'Quack.' It was probably due to them spending most of time visiting the duck pond, which had become Emma and Eva's favorite past-time to do together.
Emma loosen one hand from around Eva and took hold of the toy duck, she wasn't going to let a perfect opportunity to teach her daughter a new word pass them by. "That's right Eva ducks go quack but can you say duck... D-U-C-K."
Eva stared at her bemused for a moment, "Du... Du..."
Emma's eyes grew wide in anticipation, "You can do it Eva, say duck." She smiled as she tried to encourage her baby.
"QUACK!" Eva giggled and continued to bounce and waved her arms excitedly clapping her hands.
Emma huffed in defeat and leaned back against the sofa with the duck still in her hand. Her eyebrow arched as she gave the toy a mischievous look. "I'll give you quack..." She joked and lightly took a swipe at Eva's nose with the soft bean-filled beak. "It's quack attack time!"
Eva burst into raptures of laughter as she let her mother hit her little nose repeatedly with the soft toy.
Emma smiled softly, she loved the sound of her daughter's laughter and it amazed her that such a silly little thing like this could make her so happy. She had done that, she had made her little girl laugh. She continued to smile and pulled her daughter closer. Eva smiling face looked up at her and she could feel a new wave of love forming between them.
Snow quietly watched the mother and daughter exchange. Their little moment was full of love and tenderness she almost felt like she was an intruder spying on them. But she couldn't force herself to turn away.
Emma raised her eyebrows knowingly when she sensed a familiar presence watching them and turned her head towards the door. A small blush crept over her cheeks when she saw her mother standing by the door. "Hey," She said shyly and smiled.
Snow felt the smile appear on her lips before she could even think about it. "Hey," she repeated as they both stared at each other for a moment. "Oh sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt..." She suddenly blurted out.
Emma let out a small laugh and shook her head. "No don't be stupid it's okay. Come and join us."
Snow moved towards the sofa, holding out the cup of hot chocolate which her daughter gratefully accepted. Emma took a sip and smiled when she tasted the cinnamon, that had always been one of her little quirks and she loved that she now knew where she got it from. She wondered for a second if Eva would inherit it too just like her brother had.
Snow held her mug tightly in her hand and drew it away from her lips "The party went well." She smiled.
Emma took another sip of her drink. "Yeah, but I think we may have gone overboard though," she admitted with a laugh. Her eyes traveled around the room, they had one hell of a job tidying up later "Do you think Eva had fun today?" She blinked heavily and took another mouthful of hot chocolate, before moving her hand to brush on Eva's tiny fingers.
Snow could see the nervousness swirling round in her daughter's eyes as she chewed her lower lip with her teeth. Emma was anxiously waiting for the answer to her question, as if her whole existence as a mother depended on it.
Snow gave Emma a small smile. "Of course Eva had fun, we all did." She tried to keep her voice causal as possible despite the awful feeling in pit of her stomach that Emma was withdrawing from her again.
Emma made a small hum of acknowledgement and her eyebrows furrow. Snow didn't fail to notice the shift in her daughter's mood, it felt like the atmosphere in the room had changed with her. Even Eva began to fidget uncomfortable on her mother's lap. She had no idea what could have happened to cause the sudden change in Emma
"Emma, what is it? What's wrong?" Snow's tone was almost forceful and demanding as she tried to stop her daughter pushing herself away.
Emma cursed herself. She felt stupid and embarrassed for giving herself away so easily. She hadn't meant to detach herself from the moment she was sharing with her mother and daughter.
"I just... I can't believe that all this is real." She whispered as her fingertips brushed over baby's cheeks. She knew she probably wasn't making much sense but continued anyway. "Eva is so beautiful and I love her more than I ever thought possible but... I can't stop thinking about the first few months I missed out on and all the things I could have missed if I hadn't... I almost lost her..."
Emma sniffed back a few tears that were threatening to fall. "Sorry," she quickly added and tried to laugh it off casually but she felt still felt guilty for feeling this way.
Snow sat back in her chair, almost speechless as she listened to Emma talk so openly about how she feeling. Normally her daughter would keep it all bottled up inside until she hit breaking point. She knew exactly how Emma felt; they had both been thrown into motherhood so dramatically and shared the same fears of losing it.
"Emma honey, you didn't lose Eva, she still here." She reached out and placed her hand on top of her daughter. She squeezed her hand reassuringly
She wanted to tell Emma that this was only the beginning, yes she missed out at the start of Eva's life but it was a small glitch before a lifetime of happy memories. Emma would get to see Eva grow up. They would have silly arguments over clothes, boyfriends and schoolwork. She would be there to see Eva get married and have a family of her own. There so much ahead for both them.
Snow bit her lip to stop herself from mentioning all these wonderful memories they would create together, due to the possible daunting effect it could have on Emma, who was stilling struggling to her head around what was happening in the present time.
"And you haven't lost us any of us, we're all still here and we're never going to leave you." Snow smiled again as she tried to brush over her daughter's awkwardness.
"Oh great… Did you hear that Eva? We're stuck with them." Emma joked and sarcastically rolled her eyes.
However she was unable to suppress the smile that form on her lips. Her mother's words had made her realize that this was all she had ever wanted. She may not have the most conventional family she once hoped for as a child and despite everything, she had one that loved and supported her. She had a home where she felt welcome and that all what mattered
Her thoughts were suddenly broken when Eva whimpered quietly, the sound of her cries magnified in the silent room. It had been a very long day and her baby's tiredness was starting to kick in.
Emma looked down at the small infant "Hey baby," she murmured soothingly, her voice just above a whisper. She gently patted Eva's back and rocked her side to side as she tried to comfort her.
"Hey there Eva, be good for your Mommy." Snow sang softly at the tearful baby. "Your Mommy takes good care for you doesn't she?"
She continued to coo softly and reached out with her hand to tickle the bottom of her granddaughter's foot. Both of them tried to comfort Eva but her cries got louder as she tried to fight against her exhaustion.
"She's a stubborn little thing; I better try to put her down for a nap." Emma sighed and stood up from the sofa. She lifted the sleepy toddler up and rested her weight against her shoulder. She felt Eva move her arms around her neck as she tried to cling on tightly to her back.
"Shhh…I've got you baby," Emma whispered softly and she rested her cheek against the top of her daughter's head. She began to move slowly out of the room, with Eva stirring against her shoulder.
Snow stood up and collected the mugs, she was just about to make her way back to the kitchen when she heard Emma call out to her.
Snow turned and stared at Emma for second. Her daughter's eyes sparkled with a smile. She hadn't realized how much she had missed that look in Emma's eyes until now.
"Thanks." Emma said simply with a small shy shrug.
Snow gave her a nod, she smiled as she watched them disappear up the stairs.
In the bedroom Emma had settled herself and Eva down on the bed. She reached out and softly stroked her baby's hair. "Hush now Eva," she soothed, her voice hushed. "It's okay Mommy is here," she whispered almost inaudibly.
Eva's cries slowly soften to a whimper. Her breathing became deep and steady as her head fell into her mother's side. Emma felt her heart balloon with adoration for her little girl as she rested her head back against her pillow.
A comfortable silence fell between them and they both were just happy to stay in each other's arms a little longer.
Emma knew she should probably leave her daughter to rest but she couldn't force herself away. She sighed lightly with a small smile on her face. She tilted her head and gazed down intently at her little girl.
Eva's blonde curls covered the pillow. Her little thumb was in her mouth and she had tucked her duck toy under her arm. Emma was just about to leave when Eva let out a sleepy sigh and cuddled further into her mother's side.
Emma carefully pulled her hand out from underneath Eva so she could pull her baby blanket up. She gently draped the blanket over them and tucked the soft wool round her sleepy child.
She gently brushed her daughter's blonde curls away from her face before pressing a soft delicate kiss to the crown of her head. Eva let out another yawn which ended with a small cute hiccup.
Emma laughed softly, she could never get used to how much she loved this little girl. She stroked Eva's rosy cheek, completely fascinated by this little girl. She knew she may have made a mess of things at the start, but Eva had become everything she had ever wanted or dreamed of. She would lay down her life for her child without a second thought.
Eva's brown eyes began to droop as her mother softly stroked her cheek. She let her eyes flutter close and a small smile appeared on her face.
Emma wasn't entirely sure if her baby was asleep or not, but either way she was just happy to spend this rare moment of peace and quiet together. She moved forward and pressed her lips again gently on Eva's forehead. "Sleep well baby" she whispered, the sound of her voice was barely audible.
The silence was suddenly broken by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Emma turned to see Neal leaning against the door frame.
"Hey," Neal whispered. He felt his breath catch in the back of his throat when their eyes met. Emma's bright green eyes stared directly into his brown ones. Her eyes were a mixture of pure happiness and vulnerability.
Neal took her in, this was the real Emma, the only one he got to see. This was her without the walls around her heart or the tough exterior, this was her laid bare with their little girl curled up at her side and he had never seen her look so beautiful in all his life.
Despite herself, Emma couldn't stop her cheeks from going red as she blushed. She recognized the look in his eyes and she knew exactly what he was thinking about. "Hey you." She returned his smile and leaned back against the pillows.
"I managed to escape, so I thought I would check in with my two favorite girls..." Neal paused and swallowed hard. "I was wondering if I could... um... Would you mind if I joined you?" He stuttered over his words and nervously scratched his head. He was always worried that he was interrupting an intimate moment between them.
Emma watched him amused as he fidgeted nervously. Neal Cassidy could be such an adorable idiot at times. Of course she would want him to join them, he didn't have to ask. She thought about mocking him but decided against it, instead she shuffled over to make room for him on the bed.
Neal's eyes instantly lit up, this was all the sign he need. Without another word he walked over to the bed. He enveloped his wife and daughter in arms and cuddled them up together.
Emma sighed quietly and wrapped her arm over his chest as she took comfort in his warm presence. "Can you believe it's Eva's birthday today?" She asked and brushed her finger tips gently over their little girl sleeping face, taking advantage of her slumber.
Neal propped himself up and rested on his elbows. He looked intently at his daughter with a sense of disbelief. "No way our little Princess is one already." He replied with a whisper and shook his head.
He hadn't admitted it to his wife, but he had struggled with the idea that their baby was turning one. Eva had already been through so much in her short life. So much heartache had surround them all since she was born, he sometimes wondered how they had made it through.
Emma refused to move her gaze back up at him, she knew exactly what was going through his mind because she was having similar thoughts herself. She decided to ignore the subject and focused her attention on their baby. She gently stroked her fingers through Eva's hair again and twisted one of her loose curls around her finger.
"She's so beautiful." Emma sighed quietly to herself, unable to take her eyes off her Eva.
Neal chuckled to himself. Eva was beautiful and that was because she was all Emma. The only thing she had inherited from his was her big brown eyes, but even they sparkled brightly like Emma's when she giggled. Eva also had the same little button nose that crinkled up when she got annoyed or frustrated, identical to her mother.
"Yeah... Yeah she is." He smiled softly in agreement, but it was obvious he was not just referring to their daughter, but her mother too.
Emma rolled her eyes when she realized the double meaning behind her husband's answer. She let her head fall on his shoulder to hide another shy blush on her cheeks. Damn Neal Cassidy! She thought quietly to herself, he always had a way to embarrass her.
"I don't think I can remember what our lives were like before her, can you?" She questioned, breaking the comfortable silence between them.
Neal frowned sadly, though he tried to fight it, he couldn't stop himself thinking back to the time in his life without his family. He spent so many years miserable without Emma, that he never wanted to imagine his life, like that again.
Emma felt guilty when she noticed how serious his face had grown, she hadn't meant to bring back bad memories. "Though I do vaguely remember a time when we used to get a full nights sleep." She joked and playfully nudged him.
Neal nodded. "Well we all know where she gets her set of lungs from." He teased and received a subtle kick for his trouble.
"I still think Eva inherited some of her father's genes too... Unfortunately." Emma bit back with a wry but with a good-humored smile.
Neal let out a little laugh and swept her back up in his arms. Emma snuggled against him, bemused but perfectly content. It felt so good that they were finally back to their old routine of laughing and joking together.
Emma allowed herself to relax into his warm embrace and rested her hand on top of heart, feeling it beating beneath her hand. Her eyes slowly began to close as she felt the gentle rise and fall of her husband's chest.
A soft gentle sigh escaped her lips when she felt him brush his fingers through her long blonde hair. She loved it when he held her close, it made her feel safe. No matter what life threw at her, she always knew Neal would be there, fighting for her happiness.
"Are you tired?" He whispered when he noticed her closed eyes. He traced gentle circles on her lower back
Emma knew he was trying to lull her into sleep, it was the same trick he used with Eva, when she would wake in the middle of the night. However it was still early and she wasn't tired. "No... I'm just comfortable." She protested. She just wanted to stay like this in the comfort of his embrace as long as possible.
"Me too." Neal chuckled lightly and moved his hand to cradle Emma's head against his chest. "And I think Eva is too."
After a few minutes Emma's eyes shot open and she gazed up at Neal. "I just thought, we actually managed to have a family event without it ending in disaster. I mean, no happiness ruined, there was no magic portal or a crazed villain out to kidnap someone, can you believe it? We did the impossible." She grinned triumphantly.
Neal smiled. "Well I don't know honey," his face went serious again. "It nearly got heated when Granny and Regina both went for the last sandwich. That had disaster written all over it." He joked which evoked a snort from Emma.
He gently clasped her face in the palm of his hand and brushed his thumb across her cheek. I love you." His voice was barely above a whisper.
"I know. I love you too." She whispered back before Neal and brought his lips to hers.
Emma slid her free hand round his neck and pulled him closer to her, it felt so good to feel his mouth moving on hers. They became so lost in each other that they failed to notice Henry as he popped his head around the bedroom door.
"Oops sorry." Henry quickly apologized when he realized he had interrupted his parents sharing a private moment. He averted his eyes everywhere but at them and awkwardly shuffled his feet.
Emma gently but firmly pushed Neal away from their kiss. She heard him grumble as he settled back to his side of bed. There was a lingering silence as nobody spoke. Emma could see her husband trying to fight the smirk which play at the corners of his mouth.
"Hey buddy!" Neal grinned. "Uh... how's the chess game going?" He asked trying to ease the awkward tension which was forming in the room.
"Uh... Well..." Henry paused. He blinking several times as he tried to get up the courage to speak. He didn't want to ruin the day by telling them about the chaos happening downstairs. "Your Dad kind of insulted Mom's dad and well... Let's just say my grandmas kick-ass!" He replied sheepishly but with a smile.
"What were you saying about a disaster?" Emma looked at her husband with one eyebrow arched. "And it sounds like your father started it, so it's your turn to sort it out." She added and playfully hit him with a pillow.
Neal groaned at the prospect of having to get up and leave his family to resolve a domestic his papa had caused. "How about we all just hide away here until it blows over?" He suggested and buried his head in the pillow like a little toddler would.
Before Emma could disagree, Henry jumped on the bed and wedged himself in between his parents. "Sounds like a good plan to me." He grinned back up at them.
Emma gave Neal a glare when she caught him winking at Henry, it obvious he was thanking their son from getting him out of dealing with his father. She was just about to tell them off when Eva began to stir beside her.
She looked down at her daughter to see a pair of sleepy brown eyes staring back up at her. Her annoyance with Neal faded instantly faded away when Eva cooed and waved her arms up in the air as she tried to grab a lock of her mother's hair. It seemed Eva was saving her father the same way Henry had just done.
"Hey there, birthday girl!" Neal exclaimed, delighted to see his daughter awake. He raised her hand to Eva's face to brush the hair out of her eyes before pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head.
"Oh I almost forgot!" Henry suddenly said very cryptically and jumped off the bed. He dived under the bed and began rummaging for something.
Emma and Neal looked at each other confused when they saw their son's feet sticking out from underneath the bed. Sometimes Henry was a complete mystery to them.
"Uh Kid?" What the h.. What are you doing?" Emma asked confused.
"I'm looking for Eva's birthday present." He called back. "I didn't want to give it to her when everyone else was there."
Henry suddenly reappeared with a large box and smiled proudly. The wrapping paper was slightly torn and covered in far too much tape. The bow on top had also fallen to one side, it was clear he had attempt to wrap the gift himself.
"Right, come on Eva, do you want to open your birthday present?" He asked smiling and held the box out in front of his little sister.
Emma lifted the box out of his hands and helped Eva to tear off the paper. Henry watched and waited nervously to see how his gift would be received. Once the paper was off, Emma carefully lifted the lid up off the box.
Her breath hitched in the back of her throat when she saw what was inside. "Oh Kid," she breathed out barely finding her voice, she was almost speechless.
Neal looked over her shoulder and his eyes went wide, he turned to back towards Henry with his mouth slightly open. "You sure about this Buddy?" He asked in surprise.
Henry grinned and nodded at them.
Inside the box was Henry's book. Emma ran her fingers over the rough texture of the leather cover as she lifted it out and rested it on her lap. She knew just how much the book meant to her son and the importance it had in his life. She looked up at him unsure what to say.
Henry smiled again, "I wasn't sure what to get Eva for her birthday," He began to explain, "then I remembered what Grandma said when she gave me the book. She said wanted me to have the most important thing anyone could have, hope. I wanted to give the same gift to Eva."
"Henry, it's perfect, thank you." Emma smiled, she was unable to hide the happy tears forming in her eyes. She pulled him close to her and pressed a loving kiss on top of his head. "You're a wonderful brother to Eva." She whispered against his hair.
"Well um..." Neal said clearing his throat. He could feel himself starting to well up with pride at his son's thoughtful gift. "I think it's only right that Henry gets to read Eva her first story from the book... Which one will be it?"
Henry eyes instantly lit up with enthusiasm as Emma passed him the book. "I think we should start with Snow White and Prince Charming." He suggested and turned the pages of the book to his grandparent's story.
"Oh wait sec Kid, are you sure the first story you want Eva to know is how her grandparents fell in love, during an armed robbery?" Emma asked and propped herself back against the bed with Eva tucked beside her.
Both Neal and Henry looked up at her with their eyebrows raised. "Isn't that how you and Dad first met?" Henry asked innocently.
"Uh... So your Grandparents story it is." Emma quickly replied, avoiding the subject while Neal just smirked at her, clearly enjoying seeing her squirm a little.
The four of them cuddle up comfortable on the bed as Henry began to read the story from the book out loud. Eva had curled up between her parents. She cooed quietly to herself as she held her mother's hand in her tiny one. Neal watched on with a softness in his brown eyes.
Emma sat there happily in silence as she took in the company of her family. She looked over at Neal first, the love she felt for him was completely and utterly overwhelming. She had come to learn that even though they had always been connected by fate, they also shared an undeniable bond that went beyond love and magic. They had finally found their shared dream of a home and a family.
Neal looked up at her and understood what she was thinking without another word needed. "I love you." He mouthed and gently placing his hand on her knee.
Emma next turned her attention to Henry and Eva. She hadn't realized what true love really felt like until she become a mother. This was it for her, this was everything she had ever wanted. This was her Tallahassee, Emma Swan was finally home.