A/N: This story contains minor spoilers for the 7th Harry Potter Book, The Deathly Hallows. So if you don't want spoilers of any sort, no matter how small, don't read any further.
An Awkward Reunion
"Clean up on Asle 3; I repeat, clean up on Asle 3."
The corner grocer was abuzz with activity, and people milling in and out of isles—some running, and some walking leisurely—searching for food and other goods that they needed. As Harry looked around, he was struck by how strange it still felt to do something as mundane as grocery shopping. After having spent so much of his life living in constant danger, even years after it was all over, he still felt odd having a "normal life".
"Da?" asked the child sitting in the grocery cart before him, "ave' tat?" the boy asked, pointing at a package of cookies excitedly
Harry ruffled his son's hair. "If you behave yourself James, I might get them for you, so be a good boy, o.k.?"
The young child nodded solemnly, and promptly was distracted by something else, and pointed at another display excitedly, and babbled happily as his father pushed the cart into another isle.
"Let's see…" Harry murmured, "Eggs, bacon, pancake mix, flour, rice, tomatoes, apples, onions…" the eldest Potter scanned the list critically for anything he might have missed, "Oh! Mommy wanted us to pick up more milk, didn't she? We always seem to be running out of that…" Harry murmured, making his way to the dairy section, "Now, let's see… here it is!" he declared, but just as he reached down the grab the carton of milk, another hand reached out and did the same.
"Oh, sorry." The owner of the hand stuttered, "Here you go—" and suddenly the man paused mid-sentence. Harry looked up curiously, promptly froze himself.
"Dudley?" he enquired, "Is that…you?"
"Harry?" Dudley Dursley asked, looking as if he were in a state of shock, "I—you… is that yours?" he asked dumbly, pointing to the child in the cart.
"Ah… yes; my first born." Harry answered awkwardly, but then took a chance to take a good look at his cousin.
Dudley was still on the pudgier side, but he was nowhere near as bad as his father, and he had grown taller, which had helped make him look a little less round. He stood alone with a cart full of health foods, which made Harry guess that he was finally taking his weight seriously. The way in which Dudley was dressed seemed to indicate that while he wasn't exactly "well off", he was doing fairly well for himself, and was at least making enough money to keep food on the table, and decent clothing on his back. "Do you have kids?" Harry asked, but immediately regretted it upon seeing Dudley's jaw tighten.
"No." he answered simply, his voice hard, "No, I don't." It was obviously a touchy subject, so Harry decided not to pursue it further. He was just about to change the subject when James spoke up.
"Who dat' Da?" he asked curiously, eyeing Dudley with wonder as if he were a new playmate, or perhaps a shiny new toy, "Fwend?"
"Ah… In a way James." Harry replied uneasily, "James, this is Dudley; he's my… cousin." James merely stared back blankly at his father. Harry sighed, "We're related." He simplified, causing James to light up.
"Wike Ant Hermy and Uncle Won?"
"Ah… sort of." Harry replied, eyeing Dudley (who looked rather uncomfortable) out of the corner of his eye. "So… Dudley." He drawled, causing his cousin to jump, "How…how have you been?"
"Good." Dudley replied curtly, "Can't complain. I've got a well paying job, and a good apartment. You can't really ask for more, can you?"
"Mhmm." Harry opened his mouth to enquire about his Aunt and Uncle, but closed it again, not knowing if he should ask.
"Mom and Dad are doing o.k." Dudley continued, answering the unspoken question, "They're living on a nice little street in Bristol now that's rather similar to Privet Drive, so, not much has changed really…" Dudley shifted awkwardly, "You seem to be doing well yourself."
"Yeah." Harry answered softly, starting to feel rather uncomfortable himself, "I've got a job with the Ministry myself," he told his cousin, not needing to add the unspoken "magic" to make Dudley understand that he most certainly wasn't working for the British Minister, "And I'm married now, and I have a nice house, so it's… really been great." Harry told him, and suddenly felt guilty—but for what reason, he was unsure. Dudley's entire body seemed to droop at the mention of "married", but other then that, Dudley's face remained stony.
"Ah, well, that's good." Dudley told him, grabbing some random food item and placing it in his own cart. "I well… It was good seeing you." Dudley told him hurriedly with a nod, "I'll see you around I suppose."
"See you." Harry murmured after him as his cousin, feeling distinctly discomfited, and as if he had either said too much, or not enough at all.
It wasn't until later as Harry was heading home that it occurred to him that neither him nor Dudley had remembered to get their milk.
A/N: If this story left you feeling somewhat unfulfilled… that was my intention.
At the end of the Harry Potter series, I was left with the feeling that Dudley and Harry had come to a sort of understanding… but at the same time, that they didn't understand each other at all (if that makes any sense).
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