Chapter 27 : Explaining the Inexplicable
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Even though he was confused and generally imperceptive, Ron could tell that Hermione was having quite a hard time. He didn’t want to cause her such grief; he wanted to know what was going on, even if it did somehow involve Malfoy. Tentatively, he reached over across the sofa and gave her hand a squeeze. She smiled faintly at him, before turning her gaze to Draco. The shadow of a smile played around his lips and he gave a slight nod of his head. With a nod of her own, Hermione cleared her throat and started to relay how Draco’d come to be a werewolf. Ron expressed many a shocked face along with several snorts of outrage, but managed… for the most part… to remain silent.
“Harry was pretty bent out of shape too,” Hermione chuckled quietly at the memory of her valiant friend storming across the lawn.
“I would hope so,” Ron muttered. “How’d you tell any of this to him?”
“Pretty much the same way she’s told you,” Draco replied. “You two are so alike, you know. Potter also did the standing, sitting thing a multitude of times.”
Ron snickered, picturing the scene in his mind. “Good,” he mumbled, “glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks you’re both nutters.”
“Well, I’ve certainly felt that way, myself,” Hermione agreed. Draco made a face at her and she laughed. She was just starting to feel a little bit better about things when Ron dropped another bomb of a question.
“Speaking of Harry, where is he? I haven’t heard from him or Ginny since I’ve been back.”
“You… haven’t?” Hermione wished her voice hadn’t come out in such a strangled tone.
Draco raked a hand back through his hair before leaning forward over his knees. As far as his relationship with Hermione went, he really didn’t give a particle what the redhead thought. Telling him that his sister was in the hospital, however, posed an entirely new dilemma. He cleared his throat, “Harry and Ginny are-”
Knock - KNOCK!
They all just stared at each other for a moment before both Hermione and Ron jumped up.
“No way!” Ron exclaimed in disbelief. “Do you think it’s them? Wicked; Harry would have timing like that.”
“Let’s hope so,” Hermione replied quietly, chewing at her bottom lip. She didn’t know what she’d do if anyone other than Harry were just outside her flat. If it were some kid selling cookies, she didn’t feel up to making up some polite refusal. Grasping the doorknob and pulling on it quickly, however, she exhaled in great relief that was soon covered over with joy. Harry and Ginny were, in fact, standing in the corridor, and Ginny looked perfectly well. They smiled at her knowingly, understanding both her sigh and her look of relief. That was before they caught sight of Ron…
“Ron?” Harry and Ginny yelled his name in confused unison.
He chuckled at their surprise. “Yeah, I just got back into town a few days ago and decided to drop by to see Hermione, here. I didn’t expect her to have… company, though,” Ron glared over his shoulder in Draco’s direction. The blonde man merely gazed heavenward in a long-suffering manner, still out of sight of the Potters as they made their way in from the hall. After rolling his eyes, Ron turned back to Harry, “it’s good to see you; how’ve you been?”
Ron’s inexplicable appearance made Harry stammer a bit in shock. “Well, we… err…we’ve been- Malfoy?” he abruptly noticed Draco in the living room and his mouth proceeded to drop open in an odd combination of incredulity and horror.
“No, Potter. I’ve been Malfoy, for my whole life,” the blonde man smirked. “Weasley wants to know how you’ve been.”
Hermione briefly considered scowling at him before deciding it wasn’t worth the effort; it would’ve been totally pointless, as he would’ve impishly scowled right back. Instead, she turned to her friend. “How is everything, Ginny?” she asked happily.
“Good… really good. I’m completely fine; Alicia Spinnet was actually the healer who looked after me, so of course I’m now better than I was before I went to St. Mungoes.”
Ron’s ears perked at the name of the wizarding hospital. “St. Mungoes? You were there? Why? What happened? Are you all right?”
“She had a baby while you were gone,” Draco declared casually.
“Draco!” Hermione blew past the scowl and went straight to yelling.
“WHAT?!” Ron screamed.
“Ron, pull yourself together,” Ginny rolled her eyes. “You’ve been gone for a while, but certainly not long enough for me to have had a child!”
“I- well… but- err…” he stammered, still trying to get the facts straight in his mind. “Well… I don’t know these kinds of things! How long, and… and-” he ran his hands through his hair distractedly, “so, you don’t have a baby?”
“No!” Ginny stated firmly.
“Draco,” Hermione frowned at him as he lay over the arm of the chair, laughing uproariously, “don’t we have enough legitimately shocking things to discuss without adding a few false ones in?”
He sat up and straightened his back to look at her, when he suddenly caught sight of Harry. The dark haired wizard hadn’t said a word during the whole episode, and looked as mortified as a person possibly could. He glanced awkwardly around, as though he were trying to decide whether or not to hide behind the sofa. At the sight of him so flustered and out of his element, Draco broke into fresh peels of laughter and had to lean over the arm of the chair again. Hermione pursed her lips and turned to Ginny and the two of them sighed before chuckling a bit, as well.
Harry’s cheeks darkened as he caught sight of Draco. It didn’t require much mental effort to realize that the blonde was now laughing at his expense. “Laugh it up, Malfoy,” Harry said, angry that the other man had seen him looking so out of sorts. “Tell me again, when was it that you and Hermione were planning your honeymoon? Today? Tomorrow? A week ago, perhaps?”
“Harry!” Hermione screeched, nearly pulling out her hair.
Ron stood openmouthed, looking like he’d just been thrust back into the time of the dinosaurs.
Ginny swatted Harry on the arm and scowled at him.
Harry found himself instantly face-to-face with Draco.
“Listen here, Potter,” Draco growled under his breath, “just because we’ve officially become allies doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t mind adding a few new scars to that smug face of yours.”
“Is that so?” Harry asked, bringing his face even closer to Draco’s.
“What the hell, man?” Ron announced, surprising them all by pulling the two guys apart and standing between them. “I don’t have a bloody clue what’s going on, but you’re freaking out the girls.”
This was oddly valiant of him but only partially true. Hermione did seem a bit distressed, but mostly just at her wits end. She looked like a mother who was tired of separating fighting brothers, and who’d decided to just let them duke it out once and for all. Ginny appeared annoyed but mildy intrigued despite her concern. For the most part, Ron was the one who was truly unnerved. He liked things to be straightforward; he kept the facts black or white. Nothing that’d happened since he’d knocked on Hermione’s door could fall into either of those simple categories. His world had just become one huge, grey area.
“I don’t know how many more surprises I can take, here,” he added, the color of his face still a lingering shade of red. “Hermione,” Ron looked to her and took a bit of comfort in her caring face, “just… tell me whatever it is you need to tell me. I promise I’ll listen.”
“Ron… wow,” her eyebrows lifted in surprise that turned quickly to appreciation. “Susan’s been so good for you.”
He chuckled and sheepishly ran a hand back through his hair. “Yeah, you’re about the hundredth person to tell me that.”
“It’s true!” Ginny exclaimed. She hooked her arm through Harry’s and towed him over to the sofa. Draco watched him unblinkingly until Hermione stepped in front of him and pushed him back into the chair he’d been sitting in. He looked up at her and held her gaze; they didn’t need words, spoken or thought. She smiled faintly before sitting beside him in a rocking chair while Ron reclaimed his spot on the couch, now beside his best friend and sister. They all just stared at one another for a moment as they tried to let some of the tension seep out of the room. Finally, Draco reached over and grabbed Hermione’s hand, holding it up for Ron to see.
“Weasley, I married her,” he announced explicitly. The ring on her finger was showcased obviously and couldn’t be denied. Ron put his head in his hands and giggled out a spasm of hysteria. He didn’t speak, however, and Draco went on. “It was in a hurry, to save her life, actually… to keep her from being a direct target of Agilolf.”
“That sick bloke you were talking about earlier? The one who was after you for being Greyback’s protégé?” Ron questioned, raising his head a bit.
“Yes,” Hermione answered. “Agilolf thought that I was holding Draco back from his destiny with the werewolf clan, that I was preventing his real power from surfacing.”
“It was the total opposite,” Draco smirked.
“Yeah,” Ginny piped up, “Agilolf wanted to have Hermione killed-”
“He knew that’d be the only way to keep me from her,” Draco added.
“But, according the clan’s laws, married couples are treated as a single unit. If they got married and Agilolf still had Hermione killed, he’d instantly be kicked out of his own clan,” Harry crossed his arms over his chest as he remembered the last few days.
“Right, and nothing was more important to Agilolf than being the clan’s leader,” Hermione muttered, “or, in his mind, king of the universe.”
“Let me get this straight,” Ron leaned forward, “you got married so that Hermione couldn’t be targeted by the werewolf clan leader?”
“At the time, yes,” Draco nodded. “Just so you know, though, I’d been planning to ask her to marry me for a while. It unfortunately became a matter of life or death.”
“Agilolf came after her anyway, though,” Harry growled.
“About that, what exactly happened? You told me that Draco found her, but… where was she? That all happened after Lovella knocked me out…” Ginny put a finger to her chin as she tried to mentally piece the events together.
“Merlin, Ginny!” Harry exclaimed, “Agilolf grabbed Hermione and disapparated! To… where?” he didn’t know the particulars, either.
Draco glanced sideways at Hermione, his lips in a tight line. I told you that I didn’t want to go over this part, again, he thought to her.
“I know, she whispered while Ron, Harry, and Ginny gazed at them, “but, there’s nothing for it, I suppose.”
Harry leaned over to Ron and muttered, “another part of their unbreakable bond: they’ve developed some sort of telepathy.”
“You’re bleeding kidding me!” Ron gasped. “That’s wicked! I mean- when you get around the fact that it’s totally bizarre,” he quickly added, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning a little.
Hermione smiled at Ron before beginning to explain. She relayed what she could remember and, as she spoke, flashes of memories slowly flooded her brain. Draco felt her body become still as she sorted through the mental images; he tightened his grip on her hand and worked on quelling his rising temper. She looked off into the distance as she told what parts she could of what had happened when she’d been alone with Agilolf. She spared everyone the disturbing specifics; most of them she didn’t even want to speak of aloud.
“Having a soul mate certainly has it’s benefits,” Ginny chuckled quietly after Hermione described the unique sensation of “pulling” Draco to her aid.
“Especially when that soul mate is me,” Draco smirked arrogantly. Hermione laughed and reached over to swat him affectionately on the chest.
Ron was on the edge of his seat, despite his personal feelings toward Malfoy. It was like his friends had lived through some muggle action movie while he’d been off tailing bloodsuckers. “So, what happened next?” he asked, trying not to sound too interested.
“Well, I hadn’t wanted to kill Agilolf because- well, yes, actually… I did want to kill him… very much, but there were a lot of repercussions to deal with if I’d done it,” Draco folded his arms and spoke honestly.
“Which you did,” Harry supplied, “you killed him.”
Draco leaned forward and rubbed his hands over his face. “Yes, dammit, I did,” he muttered through his fingers.
“I don’t get it; what’s the big deal? I mean, killing isn’t cool, and all, but… what else could you do? He was a bad guy,” Ron stated simply.
“Yes, Weasley, he was a very bad guy,” Draco agreed.
“So… what’s the problem, then?” Ron asked again.
“Draco killed the werewolf clan leader,” Ginny replied, “that means that he has to take his place.”
“Take his… so, Malfoy’s the clan leader, now?” Ron raised his eyebrows.
“Yep,” Draco sighed, hating how he was getting used to the wretched idea.
“You’re still not thrilled about it?” Ginny remarked contemplatively. “I’d have thought it would’ve grown on you by now.”
“Being the clan leader of the ‘largest mass of werewolves currently assembled,’ as Lyulf put it?” Draco snorted, “hardly! It’s kind of a big-arse deal, you know?”
Ginny laughed as Hermione added in shock, “that’s right! I’m a leader now, too!”
“You only just remembered that?” Draco raised an eyebrow and smiled at her. “You’re now officially my queen; before, it was just because I said you were, now you actually have duties-”
“This is no time for joking around!” Hermione declared. “Draco, we need to get in touch with Lyulf and find out what we need to do. We need to speak to the current members of the clan and go over how we’re going to handle things… what things will change and what will remain the same-”
“Oh, holy hell,” Draco murmured before laughing as she glared at him. “That’s quite a roll you’re getting on, love.”
“She’s right, though,” Harry said with a sigh.
“Is this what they mean by ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’?” Ron’s mouth wasn’t fully hiding a smirk.
“Yes, Weasley, it is- Mi, stop glaring at me like that!”
“Our lives have just hit the top-most level of complicated, you know that, right?” she asked him tersely. She couldn’t believe how casually he viewed the whole scenario.
“Oh, yeah… I forgot to stop and think things through before preventing Agilolf from attacking you and turning everyone else into werewolves,” he snorted sarcastically. He trained his sharp grey eyes on Harry and asked, “what was that you were saying about our honeymoon? When did it happen? When will it happen? If ever-”
His words were cut off when Hermione, in one of her random bouts of stress-induced intensity, grabbed him by his collar and yanked his face over to hers. Ron’s jaw hung slack in surprise; Draco’s would’ve too, if he weren’t so used to his impetuous little wife.
“…Yes, dear?” Draco asked sweetly, an eyebrow raised in interest as his face was inches from hers.
“You said it yourself; this is a big-arse deal!” Hermione announced in full brainiac-mode. “We’ve got to get on top of things, here!”
Without turning his head, Draco slid a sideways, impish glance toward the three onlookers sitting on the sofa. What do you want from me? He asked her silently, knowing that there wasn’t a shade of red dark enough to convey her embarassment after his coming statement. I’d love to ‘get on top of things,’ right now, but… something tells me that you’re friends might not be interested in such a show.
The roots of her hair could’ve been singed by the fire of her blush. She let go of him immediately and he sat back in his chair, victorious. Hermione glared at him out of the corner of her vision and thought, Draco, now’s not the time-
And when is? He asked. For an exemplary Gryffindor, you’re not being very fair, you know.
What? Please! Hermione rolled her eyes.
“They do this a lot, eh?” Ron leaned over to ask Harry. Harry closed his eyes in exasperation and nodded.
“Well, I hate to interupt your freaky silent confrontation, and all,” Ron said casually, “but my engagement to Susan wasn’t the only thing I came over here to tell you about.”
“You finally asked Susan to marry you?!” Ginny squealed.
“Way to go, mate!” Harry clapped him on the back in congratulations.
“She said, ‘yes,’ right?” Ginny mirrored Hermione’s earlier question.
“Yes, yes, of course,” Ron said, flapping a hand and feeling like his big news wasn’t really so big. He used to mind such things in the past, but since becoming a ‘war-hero’ and realizing how obnoxious the attention sometimes actually was, he just no longer cared. “I’m trying to tell you that we three,” he glanced at Harry and Hermione in turn, “are supposed to be guests of honor or something at a big charity ball the Ministry is throwing this Christmas.”
“I though we were done doing that kind of thing?” Harry asked, rolling his eyes.
Ginny poked him playfully in the ribs. “Well, you only saved the whole wizarding word,” she stated.
“The whole world period,” Hermione added, smiling at her humble friend.
“I’d really like to get away from making big, formal appearances,” Harry sighed.
“Tell me about it,” Ron agreed.
Draco just laughed. “I’m sorry but, what exactly is the big deal, here? What do you do? Shake a few hands and then go home?”
“I wish,” Hermione ran her fingers through her wild hair, “most likely we’ll be there all ruddy night, talking with officials and basically squirming under the microscopic eye of the Daily Prophet reporters who’ll show up en masse.”
“Kind of like you did when they all showed up at your house earlier this year, Malfoy,” Harry smirked.
“As I recall, Potter, that was thanks in part to you,” Draco scowled.
Harry just laughed as Ron went on, “well, seeing as Mione went and got herself hitched to the King of Werewolves since last year’s random extraveganza, I have a feeling that… this year will be a bit different.”
Harry tossed his head back as his laughter increased.
“Wait, I have to go?” Draco asked disbelievingly.
“Of course you’re going! You’re my husband!” Hermione frowned.
“Or, did you want someone else to accompany your lovely wife?” Harry inquired, ever the mischievous instigator. As Draco’s expression grew darker and darker the green-eyed wizard added, “maybe she can just go stag and get hit on by every guy there-”
“When is this blasted ball?” Draco asked from between his teeth. Ginny glanced knowingly at Hermione before gazing heavenward, her face awash with merriment.
“This Friday night,” Ron said, his words flat.
“This Friday?” Hermione exclaimed.
“Brilliant!” Draco declared sarcastically. “That’s just what we need!”
“Draco-” Hermione started. He wasn’t about to be silenced however.
“Here’s the deal,” he said, rising to his feet, “I’ve been in hiding for four years for a reason. I decided to come around purely for Hermione’s sake; because we were going to be together no matter what, anyway. I immediately got picked out of a crowd by a werewolf who decided that I would either join him or die, Mi was held captive in her own room, and all the while, I was being subjected to the Hitler of all non-human races. After seeing my girl get attacked, my house elves enslaved, my home destroyed, getting married, going after that rat-bastard and killing him and becoming the damned leader of them all, now… now I thought I could finally have some peace and quiet... But no! I’m now getting the wonderful social opportunity of chatting up a bunch of fools at a Charity Ball! Well, what the hell? Why not have the all-important ball tonight? How about right now?” Draco wasn’t yelling; he was half-way to delirium.
“You’re right,” Hermione murmured, “not… not about having the ball tonight, of course, but… what if we could use this ridiculous situation to our advantage?”
“Our advantage, hm?” Draco looked at her quizzically. “I think that having some bloody time to ourselves is the only advantage I need right now.”
“Seeing as that’s apparently not an option yet, I think that going to the Charity Ball and showing everyone how we’re a normal couple like everyone else could really be a good thing,” Hermione stated, looking for any silver lining to their newest undertaking.
“You two, a normal couple? Ha!” Harry snorted.
Hermione ignored him, “what do you think, Draco?”
He remained quiet for a moment, captured in a glaring contest with Harry across the room. After many awkward seconds, he finally broke away and looked over to his wife. His calm regained for the most part, he said, “I’ll certainly go with you, but I don’t want everyone thinking we’re some boring, normal couple. They’ll know that we’re better than them… because we are.”
Hermione sighed while a myriad of snorts came from the direction of the sofa. “That’s fine with me,” she replied, smirking resignedly at him as he lounged in his chair. “I suppose Bee-bom will have to make me a new dress, or something… Draco!” she yelled, thinking suddenly of the little elves.
“Yes, I know,” he nodded reassuringly at her. “They’re fine; I haven’t called for them because I was waiting until we went back to the house, that’s all.”
“The house…” Hermione trailed off and gazed at the floor.
“Is it really that bad?” Ron asked. Harry looked at him and nodded.
“Hermione, what if we all helped you?” Ginny asked the troubled brunette.
“Well, that just might-”
“That’s not the whole reason why I haven’t gone back,” Draco interrupted. “We’d certainly appreciate your help, naturally, it’s just…”
“The clan?” Harry suggested.
“Yeah,” Draco raked his hands through his hair, “they know where the place is; they could even be there right now. I get that we’re the leaders now and everything, but, I really don’t feel like dealing with all of them right now.”
“How long do you think it’ll be before they find you here? They’ve got to be looking for you, right?” Ginny pursed her lips as she thought aloud.
“Yes,” Draco sighed. The redhead was confronting him with facts he’d been trying to ignore. She seemed to be good at that.
Hermione was frowning and staring into the distance. Maybe… she thought, maybe we should just… no, that wouldn’t work. Well, it might be the only thing to do; Draco wouldn’t want to hear about it, though… she was lost in her own mental ramblings. Meanwhile, her husband stared blatantly at her.
“What are you talking about?” he asked her, having heard all of her musings.
“Oh, right, haha! You two talk telepathically,” Ron looked at the ceiling and snickered sarcastically, “care to clue the rest of us in?”
Hermione stammered a bit, having been caught off guard. “Well, I was just… thinking, that we should confront the clan and get it over with.”
Draco’s gaze held hers, “do you think it’ll be that simple? We’ve both virtually just come back from the dead, me a little more literally than you. It could turn into a big ordeal… I have no idea what to expect.”
“We don’t have to do anything right this minute,” Hermione said, still appearing a bit lost in thought. “I wouldn’t mind getting some sleep, though” she added honestly with a smile.
“Sleep? What’s that?” Draco joked. “I suppose that’s a bit like what happened to me when I was unconscious on your floor.”
“That doesn’t count because you were two-thirds dead!” Hermione poked a finger at him.
“Err, glad to see you pulled through…?” Harry commented, nonplussed. Draco and Hermione exchanged glances. Neither felt like launching into more explanations of the unexplainable, and thus they chuckled simultaneously and looked away.
“Creepy,” Ron murmured, elbowing Harry’s side. “It’s like they’re the same person, or something.”
“Yeah, Potter,” Draco smirked in the direction of his wife again, “Hermione healed me; I’m good as new, now.”
The three friends looked pointedly at each other as they sat on the couch. Rising suddenly, Ron stretched.
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m bloody beat. This whole thing of getting engaged, then finding out one of my best mates is already married… to a prat extraordinare-slash-werewolf, has me at sixes and sevens,” he stated, as though to no one in particular.
Ginny glanced at Harry before standing, too. “I agree, Ron. I mean… I only just got out of the hospital, and all. After lying on that cot they call a ‘bed’ for hours, I can’t wait to get home to our real bed; the one with a mattress,” she took Harry by the hand and, with a smile, pulled him to his feet.
Hermione laughed and stood with them, appreciating what her friends were up to. “I’m glad you came over, Ron,” she said, “and I’m so glad about you and Susan. I’m sure we’ll see each other again really soon, although, I just might sleep for twenty-four hours.” A huge yawn punctuated her sentence.
“I’m glad, too,” Ron said, stuffing his hands into his pockets and looking so much like the boy Hermione’d first met on the Hogwart’s Express, minus only the smudge of dirt on his nose. She could see fine traces of concern and even distress behind his brilliant blue eyes, even as he adopted a casual smile. He was blown away and a bit worried for her in her new, incredible situation. Still, however, he simply smiled and said nothing, in a very un-Ron-like manner. Something’s changed in him, Hermione knew; more than one thing, too…
She sighed quietly before reaching up to ruffle his already-mussed hair, “thank you, Ron.”
Pinkness rushed through his cheeks; he’d always blushed in response to praise. “Err, you’re welcome, Mione… what for, exactly?”
“Well, for being yourself, someone I’ve always been able to trust. You must know that I’ve been beyond sick with worry about how I’d talk to you about all of this. I honestly wouldn’t have blamed you for storming out of here, mad as a hornet,” she clasped her hands behind her back to keep the edge off her anxiety.
“I thought about it,” he laughed, although he was being completely serious, “a few times! But, I’ve realized-”
“Finally!” Ginny interjected in the background. Ron nailed her with a glare while she laughed.
“Ahem!” he started again, “I’ve realized,” he glanced around at everyone in the room, as though waiting for the okay to proceed. When expectant silence and twinkling eyes were all that he met up with (Draco’s eyes weren’t twinkling so much as sparking, probably due to the lack of physical space between the tall redhead and Hermione), Ron continued, “it’s actually a good thing for me to process my emotions and the situation at hand before simply reacting.”
Hermione’s jaw fell open. “You?” she asked incredulously as his blush returned in a slightly darker shade. “No! Wait… did I just hear you right? Ronald Weasley… processing his emotions?” Hermione broke into a rush of laughter that lifted an almost visible weight from the room. Even Draco snickered in disbelief.
“Yeah, yeah,” Ron said, “I feel more mental than Trelawney; you should know that you aren’t the first person I’ve had a reaction like this from.”
“Who was?” Harry asked, a mischievous grin spread across his face.
“Susan,” Ron replied.
“Oh!” Hermione gasped involuntarily, “Ron! That… that’s just so romantic!”
“Yeah,” he cleared his throat and ran a hand through his hair distractedly, obviously feeling a bit uncomfortable. He scuffed a foot and jammed his hands back into his pants pockets.
“All right, there, Weasley?” Draco called curiously, finally standing with the others.
“Of course I am, Malfoy,” Ron said with half-hearted defensiveness. He sized the blonde man up; Ron was at least two inches taller, but something about Draco seemed to permeate the space around him in a larger-than-life way. Ron tried to remember if he’d ever noticed such a thing before.
“Relax, ginger; I know what it’s like to fall for a woman… hard,” his words sent silence through the room, even though that hadn’t been his intention. Draco went on, ignoring their blatant stares of wonder. “The thing is,” he said, chuckling lightly to himself as he thought over the past six months, “changing for a woman is generally construed as a negative thing… and, generally, it is,” he paused to glance at Hermione, “unless it’s the right woman. You should know, Weasley, for every woman alive in the world, there’s some poor man who’s just falling all over himself to change whatever he can for her.”
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