she’s tiny, all chubby kicky legs and sticky curls of golden hair - and she’s so tight where she’s wrapped around even’s heartstrings like a pint-sized violin player.

he loves her. he loves her. he loves her so much that he can’t possibly imagine what life was before her.

today, she stands up wobbly on his thighs, little toes curling into the scratchy denim of his jeans, and she’s got her hands in fists in his collars for balance. she’s tug-tug-tugging with all two centimeters of her strength while the joy spills out of her giggling sounding like, “ba ba ba ba bay-bee.”

he’s grinning so big and he’s so gentle when he dusts a kiss to the tip of her freckled nose.

“baby! that’s right,” and he sounds like he’s singing, like she’s a song he can’t and won’t ever stop playing. “you’re my baby!”

isak’s sitting on the other couch to the side, and the happiness is blooming free and toothy on his face. seeing even with his niece is like experiencing colour for the first time, like watching a seed grow into the prettiest, wet flower at his fingertips.

chin propped on his knuckles, he watches, and he learns, and when the little baby curls up into the crook of even’s neck with a tiger yawn a while later, he whispers, “i love you.”

and the world cradles it in its palms, carries it across to even’s ears.

he kisses her mop of curls, but he meets isak’s eyes, and he promises with a smile, “i love you, too.”