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The Meeting

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Harry almost doesn't recognize his ex-wife. Sitting in the pediatrician's waiting room, his eyes continue to be drawn back to an attractive redhead, glowing with pregnancy, fussing over no fewer than three children. After the third glance, he is certain that it is actually her.

The receptionist calls her new name, and she goes to answer some question. On her way back to her brood, she catches sight of Harry. She calls his name with undisguised delight, swaying ponderously in his direction. He stands to greet her, shocked when she refuses the offer of his hand and throws her arms around his neck instead.

"How are you?" he asks politely, and she immediately points out each of her children. He smiles, pats her belly as encouraged, keeping an eye on the door where his own family will soon be appearing. Harry doesn't want to shock her; she's never been anything but kind to him, despite their marital incompatibility.

"I thought you were living in the colonies," he says, and she explains that they've only just moved back here, and isn't it the strangest thing? Her husband has a new job, and he's doing so well, and who are you waiting on, Harry? She wants to know all about the wife and his child, and how's the job, and did his aunt and uncle approve of this one?

He laughs, remembering belatedly that conversing with her had always been interesting, if a bit disconcerting. He explains that his son is getting his booster shots for school today, and had requested that his father take him in to the nurse, so that Harry wouldn't see him crying.

She understands his unspoken explanation immediately. Her smile is so kind, so accepting, that he finds himself enveloping her in a hug. She's so glad that he'd figured it out, she'd been so worried about him, and was his husband as good to him as he deserved?

"That's a loaded question," Harry replies, considering both just who he was married to and how his marriage to Ginny had imploded after he had admitted to wanting to sleep with her brother. Pretty much all of them except Percy, though he hadn't admitted as much to her at the time. Still, it had been more than enough.

She smacks his arm playfully, and says simply, "Don't be stupid. If not for all that, then we wouldn't ever have got here."

She had been a sweet, charming little girl, and as a woman she was no less sweet or charming; yet, motherhood had somehow made her so much more than that. She was much more intelligent than he'd ever given her credit for; having children had made her wise.

"I'm sorry," he says, and means it.

She tilts her head, studying him, and apparently he passes the test. "Being a parent has been good for you."

"You too." He wonders at that, if they would have been able to grow as people together, if children had been introduced into the mix. He doubts it. They had been too young, neither of them mature enough to take care of themselves, much less other, smaller people.

Severus's voice is echoing throughout the office, and Teddy's strident arguing tone is trying its best to match his father's bellow. "Oh for heaven's sake," Harry breathes, excusing himself. He has the nurse let him into the back hallway, and he is immediately accosted by an angry, irritated Teddy.

"My ex-wife is out front," Harry mentions to Severus, who is signing forms angrily. Teddy kicks his foot in Severus's direction, with no real intent to connect, but the set of Severus's jaw indicates that this might not have been the case earlier.

Harry bends down, scolding Teddy while at the same time checking him over. He'd been upset by Teddy's refusal to allow Harry in with him, but he is amused by the familiar angry set of Teddy's jaw. "Did you two have an argument?"

Teddy's answer is as close to a growl as a child could possibly get, echoed in his father's growled, "Is the chit spawning endlessly like her mother?"

The two of them could be more like squabbling siblings at times, rather than father and son. Severus immediately brightens, and Harry gives him a look which promises extreme discomfort. In no mood for either Severus's or Teddy's surliness, Harry huffs, "She's playing nice, and so will you."

There is sighing, and a look of being so very put-upon; but Severus tolerates the request, without any undue fuss. Teddy, however, doesn't take to the idea of being hugged, but does manage a "How do you do?" which insures his choice of restaurant for the evening. That this would have happened anyway is beside the point, really.

They part on good terms, Harry and his ex-wife, and she even gives him her phone number so that they can set up play-dates. That she's met Teddy and still trusts him around her children is even more surprising than her acceptance of his radical lifestyle change.

"Chinese again," Severus grumbles as Harry takes the keys, sliding into the driver's seat. "And you owe me so much, you may never get it paid off." His tone is grumpy, but he is leering suggestively. Teddy, as usual, is absorbed in a DVD, and pays them absolutely no attention at all.