Hidden under a thin sheet of snow were fields of grass, trees and bushes that flew past as Hermione stared out of her taxi window. The country had provided Hermione with a home and a nice little, quiet Muggle School at which to teach, for these last five years. Once she graduated from Hogwarts, she fled to the country, with her wand hidden away and the magical world forgotten.
Hermione looked down in her lap to where she was clutching onto a letter. Her only communication with anyone from the Wizarding World was with Remus Lupin. He had helped her to carry on in her last few months at Hogwarts. Hermione read the letter once again, Remus was pleading with her to return to Hogwarts for the fifth anniversary of the fall of Voldemort.
A memorial was set up in the Forbidden Forrest where the battle took place. A whole section had been destroyed from the fight and many lives were lost. Including her high school love and best friend, Ron. Her other best friend, Harry, did not survive either. The memories that flooded her head swirled around in her mind, bringing instant tears to her eyes as she remembered waking up to find her best friends either dead or dying…
…Hermione blinked as she began to stir. Her head was pounding and she tried so sit up, only to find something was holding her down to the ground. Her vision cleared and she looked up to find a mass of red hair splayed out across her chest.
“Ron, Ron…Wake up!” Hermione said as she tried to shake him.
Instead of Ron waking up though, Hermione had managed to roll him off her and his lifeless body landed next to her on the ground.
“Ron? No, Ron!” Hermione shouted as she scrambled onto her hands and knees and bent over his body. “Ronald Weasley, you wake up this instant!” Hermione pleaded as she shook him again.
After a while, Hermione gave up. Her sobbing echoing in the now silent forest, her heart shattering into a billion pieces as she mourned the loss of Ron. After her sobbing had died down, she looked at Ron’s pale face, leaned down and placed a soft kiss on his dry, cold lips.
“Goodbye, my love.” She whispered, and had begun to stand up.
As she was rising to her feet, Hermione could hear the rustling of leaves and looked around her. The darkness of the forest made it impossible to see too far ahead. Hermione patted herself down trying to find her wand. When she realized that it wasn’t in any of her pockets, she held out her right hand, closed her eyes and visualized what her wand looked like.
“Accio Wand!” she shouted, and within seconds her hand felt the cool wooden handle of her wand and she clutched onto it tightly.
“Lumos.” She whispered and her wand lit up, providing her with enough light to see in front of her.
Hermione stood still and tried to control her breathing as her body became aware of the cold night air. The rustling noise she had heard came from her left and Hermione headed in that direction, her wand leading the way as her eyes scanned for any sign of life.
Her eyes darted across the ground until she caught sight of a shock of messy raven coloured hair. Hermione gasped in shock, she would recognize that hair from a mile away. She hurried over to Harry, he was laying face down on the ground and she kneeled down beside him. Her ears picked up the sound of the rustling leaves again and noticed that it was Harry’s breath blowing the leaves as he continuously tried to mutter something.
“Harry?” Hermione said as she helped to roll him over and she cradled his head in her arms. “Its okay, Harry, I’m here. You’re going to be okay.” She whispered to him and she could feel her tears begin to fall once again as she noticed that Harry’s eyes were struggling to remain open.
“T…Tell Gin…Ginny…That I’m…I’m Sorry…” Harry struggled to talk as his breaths became shallower. “Tell h…her that I…I love…love…” he struggled on.
“Shh, Harry, save your strength. You can tell Ginny yourself.” Hermione tried to hush Harry.
Harry’s emerald eyes flicked and he looked at Hermione dead in the eyes. “Tell her, Hermione, that I love…love…” Harry never did finish his sentence as his eyes finally closed and he let out his last breath of life.
“NOOOOO!” Hermione screamed out into the night. She held onto Harry’s lifeless body and cried.
She had no idea how long she had been cradling Harry’s body as she sobbed, she wasn’t even aware of the remaining members of the Order that had surrounded her, or the gentle hands that were trying to coax her away from Harry.
“Hermione, you have to let him go now. Its time to let him go.” A voice whispered into her ear.
Hermione looked to see who was talking to her. Her eyes landed on a tired, pale looking face. “Remus, tell me he’s going to be okay…Tell me Harry’s okay.” She pleaded.
“Come on now, let Harry go. It’s okay.” Remus told her, as she finally allowed him to unwrap her arms from Harry. He helped her up and then he held onto her as she clung to him and continued to cry…
“Hey, Miss, you alright?” a voice called out and Hermione jumped slightly as she was brought out of her thoughts.
“Oh…I’m fine” Hermione replied as she realized that the taxi driver was talking to her. She gasped when she also noticed her fresh tears on her face and wiped them away.
“Well, we’re at Kings Cross Station.” the driver said impatiently.
Hermione felt a little flustered as she hurriedly found her purse and paid the driver her fare. Once she was out of the cab, she shivered against the ice-cold air and wrapped herself more tightly in her coat. She looked over the Muggle station and her brain was instantly washed with old memories. It was as if she could see the ghosts of her past mixed in amongst the Muggles.
As she made her way to platforms 9 and 10, she stopped in front of the barrier between the two platforms that would take her to Platform 9 ¾. Again, her ghosts of the past haunted her. She could see Harry, Ron, and the rest of the Weasley’s laughing and joking around as Mrs. Weasley hurried them to pass through the barrier.
Hermione shook her head to clear her mind of the memories and looked around her to make sure no one was paying attention to her. She then ran through the barrier and found herself standing before the all too familiar Hogwarts Express. She was an hour and a half early, and had planned it that way. She knew that Remus was to meet her here; however, she wanted to hide herself away from the many faces she knew she would see again.
She boarded the empty train and made her way to the very last carriage. She opened the door to the last compartment and let herself inside of it. No matter how hard she tried memories of Harry and Ron would enter her mind. There simply were too many, as the trio had spent so much time together on this very train.
Hermione withdrew a book and sat down by the window facing the barrier. She wanted to see who would turn up before she faced them. As she looked out the window, the book in her lap was forgotten, as her thoughts strayed back to Remus. After the clean up of the war was finalized and the funerals were all over, Hermione simply wanted to leave Hogwarts. She saw no reason to carry on with her two best friends gone and half her peers that had were in St. Mungo’s wounded, left the school or had died.
Ginny was one of those that decided to leave. After Harry, Ron, her father and Percy were buried; Mrs. Weasley had arranged with Professor McGonagall that Ginny finish her studies at home. This only made Hermione more upset, her only friend left was leaving and her loneliness and sorrow became greater.
She was in a Defense Against the Dark Arts class when she finally found the courage to smile again. Her favourite Professor had returned. She addressed him properly back then, Professor Lupin. He had returned to teaching as they were short of people to carry on as teachers and because Tonks was badly injured and in St. Mungo’s. McGonagall had allowed Lupin to return as a teacher and allowed him time to visit with Tonks. Lupin was most appreciative as teaching gave him a distraction from worrying about the woman he wanted to be with and that he loved so deeply.
Lupin encouraged her to continue her studies and graduate. He knew that Harry and Ron would be right there with her if they could be. Deep down inside, Hermione knew that too. After she graduated and left for the country, her old Professor was the only person she would confide in. Their correspondence first started out as an update on their lives. Hermione made him promise to always keep her updated on Tonks and any other news, which he obliged to.
Tonks’ recovery did not go as well as expected. She recovered from most of the spells that had been cast on her; however, the side effects were what eventually led to her death. Remus at least got to marry her and be with her for a couple of years before she died. After her death, Remus’ communication multiplied. He wrote his grief to Hermione and she was able to not just sympathise, but also empathise with him. After a while, Remus took to visiting Hermione out in the country to escape. This only made their friendship, and the bond they had, stronger.
She had not seen him now for three months, and was looking forward to being able to speak to him face to face again and not just read his letters. As her thoughts were jarred back to reality, Hermione was surprised to see that people had already started to arrive on the platform, and she recognized a few faces, though none of them were Remus. She sat up straighter in her chair as she saw red hair bouncing around; however, to her disappointment, the red hair belonged to Susan Bones.
Hermione decided to focus her attention back to her book that she had neglected earlier. Oblivious to the voices as people began boarding the train, Hermione flipped the pages in her book as she read, she was also oblivious to her compartment door opening, someone stepping into the room and closing the door.
“Now, there is something that has never changed,” a familiar voice sang out.
Hermione looked up and her face instantly lit up. Her book went flying across her seat as she tossed it aside and jumped up and into the arms of the person standing before her.
“Remus, it’s so good to see you again.” Hermione whispered and she felt his arms tighten around her waist.
“It’s good to see you again too.” Remus whispered back, as he pulled out of their embrace he placed a soft small kiss on the top of her head.
Hermione smiled up at him and took the seat she had just vacated and Remus took the seat beside her.
“Have you been here long?” he asked
“You know me,” Hermione beamed. “I wanted to be here before everyone else.”
“You’ll have to face them sooner or later, you know. You will be seen at the memorial.”
“I know. I’m just choosing the later part.” Hermione replied with a sigh. “It has been so long since I have seen anyone and I feel like it’s my first year all over again. Just, this time, there is no Harry or Ron.”
Remus understood and he let it go. Instead of saying anything more, he wrapped one arm over her shoulder and pulled her into him. Hermione leaned her head on his shoulder and they sat that way in silence as the last of the people returning to Hogwarts boarded the train.
The beginning of their trip was uneventful. Hermione and Remus caught up with what has been going on in their lives since they last saw each other. They really had no need to as their letters had already provided that information, however, Hermione wanted to steer the conversation away from the Memorial Service and Remus simply followed her lead.
The trolley lady made her rounds at about noon, signaling the half way mark of their trip. As the train ride continued, Hermione and Remus fell into a comfortable silence. In truth, Hermione was not looking forward to arriving at their destination. They were to first have dinner in the Great Hall then head down into the forbidden forest for the service. The snow outside was still gently falling from the sky and Hermione was quite glad she had remembered to bring her wand.
As the train pulled into Hogsmeade Station, Hermione could feel butterflies in her stomach as her nerves took hold of her. Remus stood up and removed their luggage from the racks, turned to look at Hermione who was still in her seat, and looked at her with an amused face.
“Hermione, its time to go.” He said
“I know. I’m just not ready.”
Remus laughed at her response. “Trust me, you are ready. It has been five years Hermione. You have dealt with most of your grief. It’s time to let go.”
Hermione stared up at Remus, she could see the sincerity on his face and deep down she knew he was right. With one last sigh, she stood up and left the compartment to exit the train. Once she stepped off the train, the cold air hit her hard and she caught her breath in her throat. A moment later, she felt a robe being placed around her shoulders and looked back to see a smiling Remus. She smiled back at him and mouthed her thanks. Before she had time to think of where they were supposed to go, she felt an awful weight upon her.
“I never thought I’d see you again!” came a shrieking voice.
Hermione pulled back and saw the mass of red hair first, then the freckled, smiling face of Ginny. “Ginny, it’s been a long time.”
“It has, hasn’t it? How have you been?”
“I’ve been well.” Hermione replied with a smile and both girls stood there, unsure of what to say next.
“Perhaps you ladies would like to get out of the cold?” Remus chimed in and gestured to the waiting carriages. Both girls nodded and the all piled into one.
As the carriage began to move and the Hogwarts Castle came more into view, Hermione was once again haunted by past memories. However, this time, her memory was a good one and she laughed. Both Remus and Ginny looked at her in curiosity.
“Oh Ginny, do you remember the time Harry and Ron were too busy arguing about Quidditch and they missed the carriage ride up to the castle and we kept throwing dung bombs at them?” Hermione retold her memory as she continued to laugh.
Slowly a smile came to Ginny’s face, then as her memory recollected what happened, she too begun to laugh.
“Yes, I do. They both received a detention for being late.” Ginny said as both the girls laughed together.
Remus sat back and smiled at Hermione. For the first time in a long time, she was happy. He had not seen that sparkle in her eye or heard her laughter in such a long time, and he felt extremely glad that he pleaded for Hermione to come this year. After Tonks had died, he found comfort in Hermione. She knew exactly what he was going through and somehow they had bonded and found a friendship beyond what he had ever expected.
Professor McGonagall greeted them as the carriages came to a stop out front of the entrance to the Castle. Seeing her old headmistress once again, made Hermione feel like she was truly at home. There was no need for formalities as the two ladies embraced.
“Hermione dear, it’s so very good to see you here.” Minerva said as she pulled back from the embrace.
“It’s good to be back. I’ve forgotten how much this place feels like home.” Hermione admitted.
“Ginny, your mother and brothers are already in the Great Hall.” Minerva informed Ginny then turned to look at Remus. “Mr. Lupin, it is also very good to see you back again this year.” She said as she extended her hand to shake Remus’ hand.
“Likewise.” Remus replied.
With the greetings outside finished, they headed inside. Hermione was glad to enter the warm confines of the castle. She smiled as she looked around the entrance hall; something inside of her seemed to awaken. It was more then just a feeling of being home; it was as if her magical side was calling out to her.
The dinner went rather fast as she was greeted by the Weasley’s and other people she once knew as fellow students. The chatter and laughter echoed loudly in the Great Hall as she caught up with everyone and swapped stories of their lives. Hermione took great comfort at knowing that Remus had sat right beside her, at one point, he had reached under the table and took her hand in his, and gave a gentle squeeze.
Soon enough, the feast was over and it was time to head down to the forbidden forest. Hermione was extremely grateful that Remus stayed by her side and did not think twice as he held her hand the entire way. As they entered the forest, she forced herself to forget the terrible things that had taken place amongst the ancient trees.
Finally, they came to a stop and the ice chill in the air cut through her robes. She felt strong arms wrap around her from behind, and from the spicy scent, she smelled, she knew it was Remus. She let out a sigh and leaned back against the warmth of his body as she looked ahead of her to see Minerva standing on a podium with a huge marble wall behind her.
Remus had told her about this memorial and from what Hermione could see were the names of those that perished in the war written along the marble wall. As Minerva began her speech, Hermione tuned out as one name that was written in big bold letters right at the top had caught her eye.
Harry Potter 1980 – 1998
We will always remember
The Boy Who Lived
Hermione could feel her tears begin to fall once again as she allowed herself to think of Harry. Again, she felt strong arms tighten around her and Remus unconsciously places a kiss on the top of her head as he comforted her.
“…And now, I ask you all to come forward and collect a white rose and pay your respects to those who lost their lives to save the ones we enjoy today.” Minerva had finished her speech and Hermione watched as people collected a few white roses and placed them underneath the row of names.
She did not attempt to move though, she allowed herself to take comfort in Remus’ arms and watch the others. Once the crowed had cleared a bit, Remus reluctantly pulled himself away from Hermione. She lightly groaned her protest and he smiled, yet felt a blush creep up on his cheeks.
“Come on. Let’s pay our respects.” Remus said as he once again took her hand and led her to the basket of Roses.
Hermione took a handful of roses and as they approached the wall, Remus let go of her and went off in his own direction. Hermione watched him go then looked at Harry’s name once again. She took a deep breath and stepped up to the wall. She kissed the top of one rose and gently placed it on top of some other roses that had been previously laid down.
“I miss you, Harry,” she whispered and chocked back on her tears.
She then scanned the names and found the one name she was dreading to see. She looked at Ron’s name with his year of birth and the year he died and this time she allowed herself to cry. She tried so hard to bury her memories of Ron. He was her first love, and their relationship had only just begun when it was taken from her.
“I miss you so much, Ron. There was so much of this life that I wanted to share with you. Please forgive me for not being stronger.” She whispered and lifted another rose to her lips as she kissed it and laid it down.
Hermione scanned the names, and found other friends she had lost and for each name, she paid her respects to them. Once she was done, she wiped her tears away and took a step back. As she took in a deep breath, she realized that she had felt like a weight had lifted off her chest. She felt better within herself and knew she had finally begun the process of letting go.
Again, she felt those familiar strong arms wrap around her from behind. She, in turn, wrapped her arms around Remus’ and hugged him tight. They stood in silence as they watched the last of the people pay their respects and move on, and she did not notice a grinning Ginny approaching them.
“So, are you two ready?” Ginny called out.
Hermione jumped slightly as she looked at her old friend. “Ready for what?”
“We have a surprise for you.” Remus said from behind her.
Hermione pulled out of his arms and turned to look at him. She saw the mischievous look upon his face, and then turned to Ginny who wore a similar expression.
“What are you two up to?” she asked in apprehension.
“You’ll see.” Remus replied as he grinned at her, took her by the hand and begun to lead her off, Ginny following slightly behind them.
As they walked out of the Forbidden Forest and instead of heading up towards the castle, they turned to their right, headed around the castle, and were heading for the whomping willow. Ginny ran slightly ahead of them, picked up a stick, and prodded the little notch at the base of the trunk to stop the tree from swinging at them.
“After you.” Ginny turned and gestured for Hermione to go through the hidden tunnel first.
Hermione looked back at Remus and he gave her a smile, a quick nod to let her know it was okay, and squeezed her hand before he let it go. As her hand fell from his, Hermione felt her heart miss a beat and a feeling of loss went through her. As she crouched down and slid herself down into the secret passageway, she heard Ginny drop in behind her and Remus followed behind both of them. Hermione was not sure, why she was feeling the way she was, however, she was missing the closeness of Remus. She shook her head of those thoughts as they continued along.
After a while, Hermione stopped in her tracks as she looked about the tunnel. There were fire torches lining the walls allowing them to see, and Hermione could swear that they were not there the last time she had made this trip.
“Things change after five years, you know?” Ginny stated as opposed to asking a question as she giggled and walked past Hermione.
Remus was close behind her again and Hermione’s heart raced as she felt him take her hand again, and he led the rest of the way through. As they neared the entrance to the shrieking shack, Remus stopped and turned to face Hermione. Ginny had disappeared somewhere, and Hermione became slightly nervous.
Remus smiled down at Hermione, and he raised his free hand to hold her face gently; his thumb lightly stroking her cheek. Hermione leaned into his hand and briefly closed her eyes as she enjoyed his touch. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised yet slightly thrilled to see Remus had leaned in closer to her.
Remus closed the gap between them and his lips lightly pressed against hers in a small soft kiss. As he pulled back, Hermione followed him slightly as she did not want him to break their kiss. Remus chuckled and looked sweetly at the young woman before him.
“Do you trust me?” he whispered
“Of course.” She replied, and looked at him puzzled.
Remus again smiled at her and pulled her by the hand he still held, past him and to the entrance to the shrieking shack. He turned to stand behind her and covered her eyes with his other hand. Hermione gasped slightly, but didn’t remove his hand. Remus then guided her to enter the shrieking shack; Hermione could feel the atmosphere around her instantly change as she felt warmth surround her. Remus then uncovered her eyes.
“SURPRISE!” A chorus of voices yelled out to her.
Hermione jumped in shock and covered her mouth to hide the scream that threatened to come out. Standing before her were Ginny and the rest of the Weasley crew, a few friends she used to know from Hogwarts and a few old Order members. As Hermione looked around the room she was in she did not hide her surprise at what she was seeing.
They were standing in the living room of the shrieking shack, only it was not as she remembered. The last time she was here, the house was falling apart, wood rotting and glass shattered everywhere. Now she was standing in a fully furnished, refurbished, living room, a small fire crackled in the fireplace, the walls newly painted.
“Wow, this is beautiful.” Hermione whispered to no one in particular.
Cheers and shouts of joy sprung up around the room as her eyes landed once again on Remus. He wore the hugest grin on his face and Hermione saw him in a different light. While his face was still pale and tired looking, he was also quite a handsome man with the most precious, gentle soul.
“Welcome back, Hermione.” A unison of voices sounded on each side of her. This broke Hermione’s trance and her eyes shifted to the Weasley twins.
“Glad to see you back after so long. We really have missed you.” Fred said as he hugged her.
“Yes, and don’t forget to join our party outside.” George piped in and hugged her from the other side.
Hermione giggled and shook the boys off her. “Thank you.” She said around her giggles.
The twins headed out side and Hermione had noticed that the room had cleared of all the people, leaving only Hermione standing there facing Remus.
“How did all this happen?” she asked him as she held up her hands to the room.
“After Tonks, I needed a distraction. I returned to Hogwarts to teach and with Minerva’s approval, I restored this house to become habitable. There is an underground section for me to go during my change, so I’m not ripping apart my new home.” He slightly chuckled. “As my visits with you increased, I kind of developed a plan.” He said with a twinkle in his eye.
“A plan?” she recited
Remus nodded and stepped up closer to her. “Yes, I want you to come back. We all do. You are missed Hermione, and considering you refuse to speak to your parents, I thought that you would like to stay here, with me.” Remus finished with a slight blush on his cheeks.
“Oh, Remus,” Hermione whispered. “This is all so…wonderful…But I have a life out in the country now. Too much time has passed and I…” Hermione was cut off as Remus’ lips found hers once again.
This time their kiss was neither soft nor small. He conveyed his feelings to her in the kiss that he gave her. The kiss was passionate, urgent, needy, yet sweet and loving. Hermione kissed him back with just as much passion. Falling into his arms and allowing him to show her how to feel again. When he pulled back from the kiss, Hermione hesitated, as she did not want to loose the newly found feelings he was stirring within her. His breathing was shaky as he tried to regain his breath and composure.
“Please, think about it.” He whispered to her.
Hermione stared into his eyes for some kind of understanding. Her mind whirling around trying to understand what was going on around her.
“What are we doing Remus? We are friends, very close friends. What are we doing?” she asked him.
“We are progressing, moving on. I care very deeply for you Hermione. We are both adults now and you cannot deny the chemistry we have. You understand me like no one else does. Only one other woman knew me this way, and as much as I loved her, she is gone now. If there is one thing I learned from Tonks, was that you cannot hold back. I held back with her for so long because I was afraid of hurting her and not giving her a life that she should have. She showed me that I could have that life. I miss her very much, but the feelings I have now are not for her. They are for you.” Remus poured out his heart to Hermione.
Hermione choked back tears. She never imagined herself ever loving anyone again. Could she be in love with Remus? Or is she only feeling this way because of their friendship? Hermione shook her head as she tried to understand everything. Remus took this as a sign of refusal and he stood up a little straighter and composed himself.
“Well, nothing has to be decided right now.” He said in a formal manner. “I’ll be outside where the festivities are continuing, come and join the fun if you wish.” He then placed a soft kiss on top of her head before leaving.
Hermione let out a deep sigh. She had not come here to find love or to change her life. She had come to say a final goodbye to her lost friends. She looked around the room again before allowing herself to explore the rest of the house.
As she entered the kitchen, a strange orange glow illuminated the room. Hermione walked over to the window and looked outside. She gasped as she saw the hugest bonfire she had ever seen. It was burning bright and higher then what she could see. Around the fire, a snowball fight had taken place. Bottles of butterbeer were scattered everywhere, and all around she could see the happy smiling faces. Her eyes then landed on Remus. He was sitting on a huge log, a blanket wrapped around him and his face was the only one not wearing a smile.
As the flames of the bonfire danced across his face, Hermione saw him for what she truly felt. A man who she loved, a man who helped her stand up when all she wanted to do was to fall. He stood by her when she thought she could never find happiness again and showed her the path to take to find it again. Yes, they were friends, yet what she felt deep inside of her was more then what she should feel for a friend.
As she stood there watching him, she came to a realization. She looked about the kitchen; the glow from the bonfire was bright enough for her to find her way around. She made two cups of hot chocolate and headed outside.
She stood right in front of him, blocking his warmth of the fire and reached out to pass him his cup. He looked up in surprise, when he saw her though, his face softened and a smile tugged on his lips. He took the cup from Hermione and whispered his thanks. She sat down beside him on the log and sipped on her chocolate. Again, they shared a comfortable silence as they both drank and watched the flames of the bonfire dance.
When she was finished her drink, she placed the cup beside her and shivered. While the front of her was warm, her back was freezing from the frosty air outside. Remus saw her shiver, placed his cup down beside him and opened up his blanket.
“Here, come sit with me,” he urged Hermione.
Hermione stood and took a seat on the log between Remus’ legs and he rewrapped the blanket around them, hugging her tight to him as he did. They sat there in silence once again, enjoying the feeling of their closeness.
“I’ll have things to do before I make the move. I’ll have to find a replacement for the school, pack up my house, and say my goodbyes.” Hermione spontaneously said.
Remus perked up as she spoke and he let go of her slightly, he reached a hand under her chin and turned her head towards him so he could look at her. She was smiling up at him; her eyes brimmed with tears, though she wore no sadness on her face.
“Does that mean you’ll stay here, with me?” he asked incredulously.
Remus beamed at Hermione, his heart was racing with joy and he leaned down and kissed her again. Hermione reached a hand up and placed at the back of his neck pulling him closer to her as their kiss deepened.
She had no idea if she was making the right choice, she had no idea what the future held in store for her. All she knew right then was that she was happy, she felt more at home than she had ever felt in the last five years, and she would always remember that her romance began right here, by the bonfire.
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