i: leslie's reunion

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NOVEL TIMELINE: February - May 2013

ONE SHOT TIMELINE: November 2014

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"Do you want anything?" Leslie called into the kitchen where Greg was bent over a pile of school books, diligently marking with his red pen.

"Just something for supper," he said without lifting his head as he answered his wife, scrawling a comment at the end of a piece of creative writing. "The kids can choose."

Leslie smiled softly. "Ok," she said, padding silently into the room in her ballet flats and surprising Greg with a kiss on the jaw from behind. "Don't work too hard."

"I'm not," he said, reaching up to stroke her cheek. "Only ten more."

"Ok. Well, we'll be back before you know it and I'll need to get some wrapping done else Emma's just going to be unwrapping plastic bags on her birthday."

Greg chuckled. "She probably wouldn't mind that. But yeah, I'll get started once I'm done here."

"Everything's under the bed in the spare room," Leslie said, in case Greg hadn't been paying attention for the two months that she had been squirrelling things away for Emma's fifth birthday. "See you later." Blowing Greg a kiss, she walked into the sitting room where Emma and Freddie were sitting in front of the television, booted and coated and ready to go.

"Are we going now?" Emma asked, slipping off the sofa.

"Yup," Leslie said. "Ready?"

Emma nodded and ran to the front door, while Leslie gave Freddie a hand with the zip of his coat, which he had been fiddling with while watching Scooby Doo.

"Mum," Emma called from the hallway, and Leslie's heart fluttered the way it had the first time the word had left Emma's mouth. As far as the law was concerned, she and Greg were officially Emma and Freddie's parents, but she had never expected for the two of them to transition so well. Then again, it had been more than a year since Jas' death and the impressionable young minds were losing their memories of her.

"What?"

"Let's go," Emma said, jumping up and down on the creakiest wooden floorboard, an irritating habit she had grown into over the past week.

"Coming," Leslie said, grabbing Greg's car keys from the chest in the hall and stepping into her favourite pair of boots. The heels were wearing down, slightly lopsided from Leslie's imperfect gait. As soon as she opened the front door, Emma raced out and began tugging on the car door, both tiny hands wrapped around the handle.

"It's locked, hun," Leslie said as she pressed the button on the key fob and Emma yanked the door open, scrambling into her car seat. She was still tiny for her age, taking after her mother in so many ways. Jas had been a slip of a thing, barely five feet tall and thin as a rake. Leslie only hoped the similarities would stop at physicality.

With the engine going and the heating on, Leslie rubbed cold hands together and tied her hair up in a bun. It was getting too long: she'd been so busy recently that her hair had been somewhat neglected, growing long without her noticing. It brushed her shoulder blades now, swinging when she walked and constantly getting caught in straps and zippers, unless she tied it up. Never having been much of a fan of the hair-up look, it'd been something she'd had to get used to.

"Where're we going?" Freddie asked, fidgeting in his seat. He was terrible at staying still, always bouncing up and down if he was restrained to a seat for more than a few seconds.

"Just the supermarket down the road," Leslie said, double checking that both children were safely strapped in behind her before peeling out of the driveway in reverse. "I have a very important job for you two."

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