Sometimes, Harry wished he could just crawl inside a hole and disappear. Now was such a time. Especially when the entire Order of the Phoenix were breathing down on his neck, their faces grim with the nature of business at hand.
“M-Malfoy?” Harry sputtered. If they had found out about what he had done to Azkaban….
“Yes indeed,” Dumbledore pulled on his beard, his brow creased in thought. With a wave of his hand, a cushy armchair appeared at his side. Without preamble, he immediately took his seat. “Care for a seat?” Professor Dumbledore offered. Harry shook his head slowly, he liked the bit of distance between him and some of the most powerful wizards on the planet, especially when none of them were smiling.
“No thanks, I’m p-pretty good here, if it’s okay with you,” Harry said shakily. Dumbledore shrugged, and glanced over at Nymphadora Tonks.
“Well this may take a while, so maybe you would like to sit,” Tonks added, her face weary.
What was it with them? He didn’t feel like sitting! That’s all-
Harry looked at her in the eyes, and she smiled nervously back at him. Maybe , to put everyone at ease, he should do as asked. He sighed loudly, then grabbed a seat, dragging it roughly over the carpet so that it was facing the professor closely. “There. I’m sitting. Can you guys tell me what this is all about?” he asked in a strained, yet polite tone.
“After the incident at the Hogwarts express, something about what young Malfoy said made me realize that he was definitely in control and knew what he was doing. Things are becoming, how should I say it...complicated,” said Dumbledore. “Since the attack, the Order members, including myself, have carried out investigations as to what happened to him after defeating Voldemort on New Year’s Day. As you may recall, your injuries were quite severe….”
Harry looked back at the professor for a second- then it clicked. In the lab, with that scientist- What was his name again?…
“Yes, of course I remember,” Harry answered, not quite too confident if he did remember or not.
“Draco also was seriously injured. He was stunned unconscious, still under the Imperious curse, and then Voldemort was defeated shortly afterwards- inflicting a severe trauma known as Lobotomia. ”
“Lobotomia? ” Harry asked, not knowing what that meant. Tonks stepped forward and cleared her throat.
“When a curse, or strong hypnosis, or any type of mind enhancement spell is disengaged by violent death of the spellcaster. Mind Alteration- a very strong and very sensitive area of magic- is extremely hard to master,” Tonks said, her eyes dipped low.
“Indeed, Occlumency and Leglimency are branches of mind alteration- so are telepathy and telekinesis. And when taken to the extreme – also is the area of magic used for the foundation of the Imperius curse. Remember the difficulties you had in learning with Professor Snape? The headaches? Imagine that pain tenfold- that is what happens when someone is forcefully ripped out from under that level of mind control. In many cases it may be so severe that the chances of survival are next to none.” Dumbledore leaned forward to make this next point clear. “We have a task that we may need you to help us with- but, you must agree to it before we tell you more details. Too much information may be more detrimental than helpful right now. I need you to trust me. Will you do it?”
Harry looked back squarely into his headmaster’s face. Now this what they meant about being part of the order was not all heroics and bravery. Mrs Weasley harped on all about the dangers and responsibilities and so forth, but now that he was on the spot, Harry had the feeling that maybe he was too young for this. His heart picked up pace, and he could feel the clamminess of sweat trickling down his back. This was a matter of trust, and he knew, deep down, that he was being tested. Feeling cornered and treated a bit unfairly- after all- he did do the impossible and defeated Voldemort- he took a deep breath and called upon his wits to make the decision, not his gut feeling that was telling him one thing:
DON’T DO IT! DON’T DO IT! TELL HIM NO!
“I will do it.”
Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief, and Dumbledore relaxed a bit, but just barely. “Very well. Here are the details: After the battle at the train, we realized that Draco was acting under his own free will. Your friend Ron Weasley inadvertently attacked him- and surprisingly, Draco did not slaughter him on the spot as retaliation. As you found out earlier, all of the students at Hogwarts had their memories slightly modified to forget everything about him. Thinking he was one of the rogue escapees from Azkaban, Ron immediately tried to dispatch of him using a very dangerous spell. If Voldemort was still somehow possessing him- such actions would not go without consequences. And- when I tried to delve into his mind to exorcise any remnants of the Imperius curse- there were only haunts of Voldemort’s presence, but all in all, Malfoy was quite sane and in control, yet wanted me very much dead. This, I found to be quite strange. For what purpose, other than Voldemort’s lingering hatred, would he want me dead? I gathered that this was deeper than what meets the eye.”
Harry soaked it all in, was Malfoy really out to kill the headmaster? Or was it something else…
“Our intelligence gathering specialists, Tonks-“ she nodded at mention of her name – “Percy –“ Harry sneered at the mention of his name- “ Julie-Ann and Joseph…” Harry looked across to where two unfamiliar adults stood, their faces half concealed by large scarves wrapped around their nose and mouths “...have obtained vital clues about his circumstances. After being subjected to the Chamber of Iralem, Hargreaves, one of the more shady scientists at the Ministry of Magic, experimented on Malfoy, then covered it all up by sending him to Azkaban.”
Harry put on a fake shocked expression. He knew all of this of course, but didn’t really tell anyone, except Hermione.
“Now, it may or may not have been a mistake to try and neutralize his Infernus ability, but one thing is certain, I never gave any instructions for him to be sent to that horrible place. This- I fear, is the reason he wants me killed. Maybe he thinks that I am responsible for his imprisonment. It may be destiny that young master Malfoy and I are to cross wands again, but I do not want any more violence or blood to be shed. So this is what you have to do: It’s a recruiting mission.”
Harry froze- they wanted him to recruit Draco?! Ha! Fat chance.
“What?” said Harry, still not believing it. Remus stepped forward and stooped to speak softly next to him.
“Listen, this may be the only real solution to our predicament. Our last contact with Draco was a sighting in Madrid, presumably for the Quidditch match. Oh by the way- smashing job Harry!” Remus said.
“Yes! Good show lad, cheers!” one piped from the crowd.
“Aye- fine catch it was…!” said another.
“Oh that reminds me, my daughter asked me to get an autograph...” an elderly wizard said.
“Er –thanks.” Harry cut them off. Leave the niceties for when he was feeling in a ‘nice’ mood. Now was not the time.
Dumbledore cleared his throat loudly, and everybody simmered down, remembering the reason why they were here.
“Now as I was saying…your first mission for the Order will be a difficult one- or it may not, it depends on how you use your wits. Remember Harry, most battles are won before even throwing the first blow. Its up here” – he tapped his temple- “ that decides the outcome.” Dumbledore steeped his fingers under his nose, and gave Harry a piercing stare.
“So what do I do?” Harry asked, his nerves slowly changing from being apprehensive and uncertain, and now transformed into a battle-tense tingling. He’s been through hell and back before, Harry was confident that he would succeed.
Or at least he hoped so.
“Watch over him. Get him to join the ranks at Lionheart, and do what you two have always done ... Compete. Strive to be the best, and in turn, he will strive to better you. All you need to do Harry, is get him to sign up at the Auror Academy. From there, we will always be able to monitor him, and I daresay he won’t do anything rash and dangerous if he knows you are nearby.”
Harry’s spirit rose at those last words. Dumbledore and the others thought of him highly enough to handle Draco. Maybe that was just the encouragement he needed. Truthfully, it didn’t seem all that hard.
“So basically all I have to do is get him to apply, and just keep an eye on him, right?”
Dumbledore hesitated, but smiled and nodded reassuringly. “Exactly. Any more questions?”
“Yeah. What happens if he doesn’t want to co-operate?”
Everyone turned deathly silent at those words. Harry felt the sudden drop in levity, and a serious air settled like a mist around the wizards crammed into the room.
Dumbledore’s eyes turned stone cold, and he said softly, ”Let us cross that hurdle, if and when it comes to pass. Don’t worry, you’ll be all right. We trust you.” They locked eyes for a second, and Harry knew instinctively what may happen if he failed.
For yet another time in this ongoing rivalry, one of them will have to give their best to save the other’s life. The last time they met he had nearly killed Draco. Hopefully, the git didn’t hold anything against him. Maybe this won’t be as easy as he thought, Harry told himself. Draco definitely was a wild card if left unchecked. A rogue Slytherin was bad enough as it is. A rogue Slytherin who controlled the Infernus was even worse. Now was not the time for self-doubts. With a release of pent up breath, Harry nodded, and Dumbledore placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“Very well. Talk to him, man to man. You never know, he may surprise you in his response.” The Headmaster rose from his chair, and the Order of the Phoenix filed out quietly out of the room. Tonks was the last to go, and waited until everyone left before she approached him.
“Hey,” she said, smiling.
“Hey,” Harry replied wearily. He was suddenly feeling under a lot of pressure. Slowly, she tiptoed a bit and kissed him on his cheek. Harry didn’t expect that. “Huh?”
“Harry belated birthday, Harry,” she said, and presented him with a gift-wrapped parcel. “Go on, open it!” she encouraged him, and Harry took it from her hands. He tore them open, and opened a neatly wrapped package. They were books. One was a diary of some sort, covered in a classic leather with a masculine look and feel to it, the other was 'The Greatest Wizards through the Ages' - a book about legendary tales of wizards throughout time, and finally, a strange muggle paperback book. On the cover read: “How to be a Good Godfather” . Harry frowned. The other two books he could understand…but this…?
“I hope you’ll read that one before the end of this year.”
Harry was even more confused. “What did you give me this for? I’m not anyone’s godfa….” He stopped halfway through the sentence, understanding slowly dawning on his face. His eyes darted to the book cover, then to Tonks’ blushing face, then to her stomach.
She was pregnant? Holy…when did that happen?!
“On behalf of myself and Remus, we’d love for you to be our baby’s Godfather,” she said softly, looking up into his eyes. Harry could not believe it. They wanted him to be their baby’s godfather? He just turned seventeen! He didn’t know what to say. After seeing the hopeful expression shine through her eyes, he immediately knew exactly what to say. The tiredness that was beginning to swamp him disappeared and he smiled and gave her a warm embrace.
“I’d be honoured, Nymphadora…”
This is it.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! WELCOME TO THE FINALS OF THE EUROPEAN UNDER TWENTY ONE QUIDDITCH CUP! “
Harry stood at the exit of the tunnel leading to the Quidditch Pitch. His captain, Oliver Wood, was at his side, and in that fleeting moment of intense emotion he felt the exact same butterflies of his first year at Hogwarts. He couldn’t believe he made it this far, through all the escapades, through all the brushes with death, he just could not believe that he was here; standing on this spot. This was another crowning point in his life. If someone had told him before his eleventh birthday that he was destined to become someone important he would have maybe slunk away into his cupboard and cried. His life meant nothing before Hogwarts.
“AND NOW…..FOR THE VISITING TEAM, IRELAND! I BRING YOU JANSEN! –POLLOCK!- IBRAHIM!- THOMPSON!- KELSING!- HUHGES! AAAAAND HARTE!!
The away supporters roared their appreciation of their championship contenders, they were extremely confident that their nation could get a brace of Trophies two years apart. They already had the World Cup from two years back, now it was time for their next generation of Quidditch stars to come into the limelight. Goosebumps rose on Harry’s arms, and he felt his reservoir of magic warm to the euphoria coursing through him now. He closed his eyes against the brilliant sunshine, tilting his face to be bathed in the sun’s glory.
Mom…Dad…this is for you…
“All right Harry?” said Oliver Wood .Harry remained silent, his eyes still closed, his fist clenching once as the crowd began to chant:
LIONS! LIONS! –LLIONS!!
Harry reopened his eyes, and looked straight ahead, his excitement written all over his face. This was his dream. This was his time. Nothing else mattered right now, he was in his element, and now he was invincible. There was no fear. With a twinkle in his eye, and an even, steady voice, he answered his teammate. “Never better, mate. Never better. Lets do this!”
“ENGLAND! PLEASE GIVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR OUR NATIONAL TEAM! IT HAS BEEN TWENY FOUR YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF BERLIN, AND NOW IT HAS COME BACK FULL CIRCLE!! WITH A RECORD OF 5-2-0 AND FOUR HUNDRED AND TEN ACCUMULATIVE POINT DIFFERENTIAL –PLEASE WELCOME YOUR ENGLISH LIONS! WITH CAPTAIN OLIVER WOOD, BEATERS- RICHARDSON AND MORRISON, CHASERS- CHANG, GRAMBLE AND JEMSON!”
The players darted off unto the pitch when their respective names were called, and in that split before his name was called, he felt a presence laugh in the back of his mind. It was more of a bark than a real laugh and he knew exactly who it was.
“Do me proud, Harry...”
Harry mounted instantly and zoomed off unto the pitch. He still could not believe it- this feeling of being watched by everyone, thousands of faces contorted in national pride. How the mere announcement of his name could make all these people scream at the top of their lungs he would never know. His blood surged through his veins as he felt the cacophony of voices create a roaring sound, a sound that he knew he would remember to the last of his days. There was nothing like it- that feeling of hearing your name being chanted from so many voices. He didn’t know if he should be flattered or embarrassed, all he knew that there were a LOT of people here, and they were counting on him.
And with that- the whistle blew, and the match was on.
“Draco, why you always do that?”
He glanced across to his sister, but did not answer her, turning his face forward again such that his hood was blocking any view of his face. After a few moments of silence he answered softly.
“This…what you are doing now. It is so ..ahh..creepy…don’t you feel ahh happy? No no no.. excited?”
Draco smiled underneath his hood. He had to admit the Quidditch atmosphere was giving him memories of the good old days of Hogwarts, but it didn’t feel the same when he was not actively competing against him.
“Watch the game.” He dismissed her quite bluntly.
“You’re no fun. I will be going down a few chairs.” She spotted some of her year four-into-five classmates a bit further down. Look, the guy with the camera and his little brother. She just loved to tease them. “Be back in a bit!” Kenna walked down to where Dennis and Colin Creevey were sitting, right in front of Marrietta and that Luna girl. Dennis had nearly all of her classes, and she found him to be such a cute little boy. As heads turned and catcalls followed her down the main stairs she ignored them all, smiling to herself. She wore a tighter than skin white jeans, and a read halter top. She may be Italian, but when in England, do as the English do.
“Hi,” she breathed, as she sat in the empty seat next to Dennis. Colin turned at her voice, and his eyes noticeably widened. Dennis glanced across at her, and turned his attention back to the match, trying not to notice how gorgeous she really was. The older Creevey brother smiled and greeted her.
“Hi!” he said enthusiastically. “Enjoying the match?”
“Very.” She smiled back, looking across Dennis to talk to Colin. Suddenly there was a roar of appreciation from the visitors and the English simmered down a bit. Ireland had scored again, and it was now 60- 10. “ Aahh- no. Ireland in the lead, yes?” She asked, turning her head slightly to look directly at Dennis, who was beginning to feel quite heated so close to this particular girl. “Dennis? How are you?” she asked, straightening a crease on the shoulder of his supporters’ jersey. Dennis gulped.
“I’m fine,” he answered. “Eh- How are you doing?” he asked, trying to make small talk.
“It’s soo hot in here. Don’t you think?” she fanned herself, a sexy sheen appearing just below her collarbone.
Christ that was so cliché, but from her it’s damn sexy….
“um- I have a soda, if you want to share…” he offered, trying his best to keep his eyes off of her. Whoo boy…
“Thank you,” she said, taking the large cup out of his hands. When she placed her lips around the straw Colin and Dennis’ jaws dropped a few inches. She returned the drink to him, and Colin absentmindedly took it, his eyes never leaving her lips. When it slipped right out of his hands and fell at his feet Kenna giggled and Colin burned red. Thinking off himself as a clumsy git, he mentally smacked his head a couple times with his palm.
Stupid! You Idiot! You want to be the next DA instructor and do something as clumsy as this in front of her?! Get your act together, Colin! At this rate, you’ll never be as strong as Harry! Harry would have totally ignored her and not fall for her tricks! Just watch the game and forget about her. Colin shook his head in self disgust.
Kenna turned around to chat with some of the other Ravenclaw girls. She laughed with some of them about some thing or the other, and then looked further down the aisle at the red haired girl who was watching her intently. Another of the Weasley gang: what was her name? Ginny? With an expression of extreme malice, Kenna looked directly at her. Their eyes locked, and both broke eye contact at the same time. She had no love for any of Granger’s friends. Well, maybe except Dennis, he was so cute!
Harry zipped around the Irish hoops, frantically searching for the “Sneaky Snitch” as they so affectionately named it. This match was far less intimidating than the semifinals against Spain, but there was the extra factor that he had to consider. They had a solid core team, the best goalkeeper on paper, and as the rankings had it, the second best seeker to Viktor Krum. Spain’s seeker was not their main strike force; it was the combination of their superb defense and their trademark unusual dual bludger attack. Combined with two of the fastest chasers from Diablos QC, Spain had nearly the complete package. Ireland were more experienced, and they drafted their World Cup winning coach to take charge for their under twenty one team. In addition to all of that, Harte, their seeker, was absolutely top drawer.
Harry had a fight on his hands.
“Okay Hermione,” Ron said in a clear ‘do-you-understand-me?’ tone. “Do not, and I repeat- DO NOT- do this Divine Summoning thing again.”
Hermione sighed. “ Ron, I didn’t do it on purpose. I felt Draco nearby, and something...something about him- triggered that memory. I told you before- It wasn’t my fault!” Hermione looked exasperated. Ron’s attention was already back on the game, and Hermione grumbled about how he had such a one-track mind. “Ginny? What is it?” Hermione looked over at her, and by the expression on her face, Hermione knew that something had irritated her.
“Rossilini. Why does she always have to do that to Dennis?” Ginny snarled. “ He such a good hearted guy. And I think he has a crush on her. She just turns him on and leaves him hanging.”
Hermione’s eyes narrowed on Kenna Rossilini. She never knew how it felt to be the center of attention during Hogwarts, well except the Yule Ball, but she found it unfair how one girl could command so much influence over boys. If not for the time when she delved into her mind, Hermione may not have believed that there was such a thing such as a magical ability to seduce men. Trying not to think about Harry’s little “escapade” with her, she left Ginny to grumble by herself. She just hoped that Harry would be okay, one crash was enough for the summer.
After nearly an hour of toe-to-toe competition between the teams, Draco felt the medallion of the Order of The Phoenix warm slightly against his chest. Potter was getting agitated. That is good. Soon this will be over, and he’ll be able to have a few words. Something was still not right about this whole messed up situation. He needed to know what really happened to him for those months that he couldn’t remember. And how in the world could he fly? The moment he saw Dumbledore he felt a presence enter his mind, and it magic surged through to him, making him much more powerful than he had ever felt before. His back had produced a new Infernus tattoo, the symbol of an 8th tier Summoner. Compared to being only a second level Summoner two years ago, that was a remarkable increase.
And he knew in his gut Harry was hiding something from him. For some reason, he was the hardest person to get into contact with these days. Not that he tried overly hard, but there were potholes in his memory that he needed filled. With a sigh, he slowly got up from his seat and ambled down the stairs to get his sister. The match would be over soon, and he needed her help to get past the security without causing too much of a ruckas. Sometimes she was good for things like that. He approached silently behind her, and she was speaking huskily to one of those bratty Gryffindors. He overheard the last snippets of her conversation before putting it to a stop.
“…your eyes, Dennis... they are really nice, you know that?”
“Come on,” He ordered. Kenna almost jumped out of her seat. Her brother knew how to sneak up on people all right.
“Don’t scare me like that!”
Dennis looked up at the stranger dressed in a thick black cloak and hood, his face barely discernible underneath the shadows. Squinting, he peered hard to make out the face. “Who is that?” he asked Kenna.
“Oh, don’t mind him. He’s just my brother,” she said light heartedly.
“You have a brother?” Colin asked incredulously. Draco stiffened. First Weasley, now this little mudblood? What was this, some sort of epidemic? This was getting ridiculous. He pulled back his hood.
“You don’t know who I am?”
“Should I ?” Colin asked, looking quizzically at his face. Dennis looked intently at his face, and recognition dawned immediately.
“YOU!” Dennis screamed, jumping to his feet. “YOU’RE THE ONE WHO ATTACKED THE PROFESSOR!” In a flash he drew his wand, and had it pointed directly under his chin. “STUPE-! “
He didn’t get a chance to finish. Draco backhanded the wand out of his grasp without much of an effort. It fell on Luna’s lap in the row behind, the girls' eyes shot up at him, slowly realizing that a fight was going to start. They were a bit frozen at first- but eventually came to their senses. No one was going to attack a fellow DA member and get away with it! In the blink of an eye, everyone in the vicinity who went to Hogwarts was standing up, all of their wands trained on the guy in the dark robes.
Draco’s expression did not change an inch. He stood there completely surrounded by enraged students, who on the drop of a pin, would stun him into oblivion.
“Watch it mister,” Colin warned. “ That’s my brother you’re messing with.”
“Is it?” Draco asked politely, his face completely neutral.
“Yes it is,” he replied. “And we were trained by the best!” he added, motioning towards all his fellow DA members.
“Do you know who I am?” Draco asked.
“No, neither do I care.” He retorted. Luna was trying to get a good look at his face, her wand dropping ever so slightly as recognition dawned. Wait- wasn’t that…
Draco nonchalantly lifted his hand straight out to the Quidditch Pitch, his irritation growing. Most of the students snickered, waiting to see what this idiot was going to do without a wand. Draco’s lips twitched into a fraction of a smile, then he immediately clenched his fist.
Flames suddenly burst into life from the grass of the pitch, engulfing the entire field with a weird pattern of towering flames. The crowd screamed at the sudden miracle, then began to panic. The referee was first in the sky to notice the inferno below, and blew on the whistle with all of his breath. The game came to a halt, all of the players slowly coming to a stop high above the roaring flames. Everyone watched at the horrifying scene of the inferno, wandering what in Merlin’s name was going on. People started to run out of the stands as fear of another Dark Wizard attack washed over the stupefied crowd, while others simply stood in their seats marveling at the awesome display of power. The commentator immediately tried to quell the forthcoming stampede.
“PLEASE STAY CALM! PLEASE STAY CALM! DO NOT PANIC! I REPEAT, DO NOT PANIC!”
Colin and the others gawked down on the pitch, how in hell? By the time they caught their senses and turned back to face the stranger, he was already at the bottom of the rows, heading down the exit with a reluctant Kenna in tow. Dennis was still trembling as he stood there, his pupils dilated in fear. That guy could do that, and he, an ordinary kid, tried to Stun him? He just thanked god he was alive, with nothing more than an injured pride as the consequences of his foolhardy challenge. And here he thought he was cut out to teach DA classes. He slumped back down into his seat, his eyes fixed on the spot where Kenna and her ‘brother’ just disappeared from view. He had a lot to learn.
The Order of the Phoenix was at the stadium until late into the night, searching for clues as to the source of this incident. They had arrived immediately after Ministry Police contacted Tonks and Arthur Weasley, and helped with the evacuation. The match had been cancelled, and the competition would not continue in fear of another terrorist attack. Those flames were extremely potent, and if it were directed at the stands, it would have been a disaster. Harry Potter was sitting on the highest tier of the stands, his head in his hands. It was so close, he could picture himself holding the Champions cup high above his head, and imagining what how proud his parents would be of him. He had a lot riding on this day, but now it was taken away forever. Still dressed in his Quidditch robes, he pulled back his long hair through padded gloves. When would this end? There were no closer to finding out who did this than when they had started hours ago. The most plausible cause was some sort of sabotage, if it were an attack, the perpetrators would not have planted Hades’ Fireworks under the grounds, they would have placed them under the bleachers. This sort of investigative work was not cut out for him, he’ll let Dumbledore and the others handle this-
Wait- was that? He peered down unto the burnt grounds, -yes- there definitely was a distinct pattern. He could not have noticed it on the pitch itself, but from his vantage point he could see it at a better perspective.
“PROFESSOR !” he shouted. ”Come here- take a look at this!” Dumbledore looked up at him from the little group talking on the field.
“What is it, Harry?” Harry still did not get how Dumbledore could throw his voice without shouting. It was a neat trick.
“Tell me if you recognize this symbol I’m seeing here! It’s weird though!” Harry shouted back down. The next instant Dumbledore apparated next to Harry, and looked down at the burnt field.
“I had my suspicions, but it is definitely confirmed now. Harry, you must make haste on your task. I fear that this is far more important than we realized.”
“What do you mean?”
“That,” Dumbledore pointed at the symbol engraved into the ground- “ Is the seal of the Infernus. I must warn the others.” And with that, he disapparated. Harry swore loudly, balling his fists in his hair.
Draco, you stupid git. You ruined the match, and now pissed off the Order of the Phoenix.
He got up, and shook his head in annoyance. He better get cracking on getting him into Lionheart. The things he had to do for that idiot….
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