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Chapter 34 : The Rhythm You Started
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“What’s wrong with him?!” I cried.
“I don’t know darling, he just owled me, I’d just arrived in Japan...I think it’s serious, I’ve been trying to contact him all morning,” She fretted.
I’d woken up this morning to find some owl tapping frantically on my window, a folded hastily done note with drops of ink all over the place from Marie telling me that she was having someone pick me and that Francesco was ‘in trouble’ as she put it.
I’d probably been through everything a thousand times in my head.
“Are...are you sure it’s something big I mean...he might just...” I breathed.
“I don’t know, I’ve tried everything, he’s got one of those stupid apparition locks on his apartment, you know he’s awfully paranoid that someone’ll steal his work or something...oh what if they’ve taken him, you know people are disappearing and...oh,” She said a hand moving over here mouth as she gave a dry sob, the panic rolling off her in great distraught waves.
“Which apartment is his?” I asked.
“That one down there, the doors off its hinges and it all looks so awful darling, we can’t get in though, you have to be invited and there’s no one there TO invite you in,” She said.
I glanced down the corridor, watching the various men in long robes scurry back and forth, blasting spell after spell but it made no difference.
“Someone must be able to do it,” I said.
“Francesco is incredible at spell work...they probably caught him unaware...oh you know he’ll crack in 5 seconds...he needs me darling,” She said before promptly dissolving into a mass of tears.
...In the back of my mind some part of me was snorting amusedly, wondering why Lord Voldemort would really want to kidnap such a drama queen...everything else in me was just...terrified.
“That is it! I want this fucking sorted! Get out my way!” came a snappy voice before I saw Bridgett appear down the corridor, pulling her wand out.
But no matter what anyone did, nothing would work. Within half an hour Marie had just...well pretty much broken down so I decided to take her home. Antony was there, along with Bridgett and Frederick and a whole load of other people including a few from the ministry but it didn’t seem to make any difference.
“Look I’ll get you a drink or something just...sit down,” I said, not knowing quite what else to say as I led her into the parlour.
I’m sure I could find him, I just needed to sit for a moment and try and find him out of the multitude of different threads that spread across the world...without being interrupted...which apparently wasn’t to be because it wasn’t long until what sounded a great deal like the sound of glass clattering.
I moved back, opening my mouth...when I saw Francesco...oh that bastard.
“YOU!” Marie cried.
“Yes darling?” Francesco said.
She looked at him before grabbing a pillow off the settee.
“YOU BASTARD! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW WORRIED I WAS?! WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!” She demanded, smacking him round the head with it.
“Owwww! Darling you know I bruise like a peach!” He said indignantly, shielding himself.
“YOU CALL ME SAYING IT’S URGENT, I ARRIVE AND THE PLACE HAS BEEN FUCKING RANSACKED! I THOUGHT YOU WERE IN TROUBLE! YOU SELF ABSORBED LITTLE PRAT!” She cried chucking another one.
“MARIE! CONTROL YOURSELF!” He exclaimed, ducking out of her way.
“I THOUGHT YOU WERE DYING OR...OR BEING TORTURED!!” She roared.
“No darling see, if you’d let me explain...” He began, ducking out of the way of yet another pillow.
“I’LL RING YOUR NECK!” She snapped.
He stopped ducking, his gaze flattening.
“Darling now really, you know we’re both too attractive for that kind of activity...and...good Merlin Marie...you’re make up’s running!” He cried.
She paused, her hand coming to touch her face before her eyes narrowed, moving with a speed I never thought she’d have in her, and chucking a slipper at him.
“OWWWW!” He snapped.
“IT’S YOUR FAULT!” She shouted.
“...darling nothing is worth your make up running...now stop it, you’re being silly...oh Iris! Oh this is perfect...Marie I swear if you chuck anything else at me I shan’t be happy,” He threw at her sternly as he dragged me forward.
“WE THOUGHT SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED TO YOU!” I snapped.
He turned to look at me before rolling his eyes.
“Oh not you too darling,” He breathed.
“What were you thinking?!” Marie demanded.
He grinned at that before pulling a pamphlet out of his top pocket.
“THE SCHOOL REUNION!” He said excitedly.
We both paused, watching him confusedly.
“But...you said you never wanted to set eyes on any of them again,” Marie said slowly.
“Ah! But you see, I am generally better than them and what better way to show them by turning up with an uncommonly pretty daughter, in incredible clothes they could only dream of and spit on their sad pathetic lives!” He said gleefully.
“...I still don’t see what this has to do with a trashed flat,” I said slowly.
“Oh, little mishap when I was creating, got a little carried away, spell misfired and ricocheted, absolute nightmare...the place needs redecorating anyway though and none of my things were harmed,” He said pleasantly.
“...I really want to kill you,” Marie scowled.
“Well I could say the same!” He said.
“I come here, hoping you’ll be around to discuss outfits and you’re off, outside with smudged make up! Darling it’s despicable!” He said shaking his head.
“I have smudged make up because you, Eustace Widdle,” She said, poking his in the chest.
“...darling don’t dampen my aura, Eustace Widdle is dead,” He said flatly.
“...you pulled me out of school for this?” I said arching an eyebrow.
“Yes, it’s important,” He frowned at me.
Great. So I’d spent the night in a fucking shed, snogged the guy that I’d fancied for the past few months, now wasn’t too sure how I felt about aforementioned snogging, was ‘rescued’ by the caretaker who of course assumed that we were shagging fiercely for most of the night (which we weren’t...seriously...don’t even think it), I finally get away, crawl up to bed and am then woken by a fucking owl.
Sirius could have been waiting to ask me out or...or something but no, I’m stuck with my over dramatic ‘father’...no let’s not even pretend that Francesco could ever be a father, we’ll settle with my ‘Francy Godmother’, and my irate ‘mother’.
...and I didn’t even want to think about the horrible knawing feeling that jolted through me at the thought that Antony was probably around somewhere close by...oh for fuck’s sake, I don’t know why things can’t just...go to plan!
“...then I’m going back to bed...then I’ll have breakfast...a big breakfast,” I grumbled before trudging off to my room.
“...you’re not going anywhere missy...I can see an ‘I’ve slept in this outfit’ look from a mile away,” He said.
I stopped, turning slowly.
“...you’re point?” I asked.
...yes...so I may have not bothered to get changed...
“You weren’t sleeping in your own bed last night, were you young lady?” He said testily, moving a hand onto his hip.
“You slept with someone!” She cried.
“No I didn’t, I got locked in a shed,” I said flatly.
“Mmm,” Francesco said disbelievingly.
Marie gasped before moving forward and pulling me towards the settee.
“Who was it darling?” She asked.
“No one because I was stuck in a shed,” I scowled...I didn’t like to go into the fact that there was in fact someone else there.
“Then how come you didn’t get changed before you got here, hmm?” Francesco asked.
“Because I was answering Marie’s hysterical call telling me that you’d gone missing and that your flat had been partially destroyed,” I said bluntly.
“...was it good?” He asked sitting down on my other side.
“I DIDN’T FUCKING SHAG ANYONE!” I snapped.
“Oh go on you can tell us,” Marie said nudging me.
My gaze flattened.
“I’m going to bed now, don’t wake me up for anything other than the house falling down or Deatheaters turning up at the door...and I didn’t sleep with anyone, I just got out a shed at some ungodly hour of the morning, climbed into bed...then ended up here...you owe a VERY big breakfast,” I growled before stalking off.
“...WE WANT DETAILS!” was the last thing I heard before I slammed my door shut.
...they were mental, just truly mental.
I went back to sleep but was, unfortunately, woken up by shouting that could only have belonged to one person.
And Bridgett would not shut up.
In the end I simply gave up and trudged out in my nightdress, thereby going straight into Antony.
“Oh...hey,” He said, a large smile touching his lips.
“...hey,” I said in a small voice, not quite able to meet his gaze.
...it wasn’t like we were actually together...I don’t think...but...I liked him and now I’d gone and snogged Sirius and it made everything complicated and the best thing about it was the...uncomplicatedness of it all...and I don’t even know if that a word but heck, we’ll just stick with it.
Luckily however, my awkwardness didn’t have to last very long because Francesco was busy ‘preparing’ everything for the reunion which apparently meant stuffing me into too tight clothes, making a number of stylists and ‘hair surgeons’ appear out of nowhere, my hair being tugged from a variety of different of angles while a number of terribly patronising voices exclaimed ‘how pretty I was’. I was then ordered into the bath, whereby, minutes after I’d got in, I was dragged out again and subjected to more torturous ‘beautifying’ and Francesco forcing me into a number of different outfits.
I’m sure it all looked lovely but I simply Did. Not. Give. A. Shit.
As far as I was concerned, breakfast was the highlight of the day and I didn’t even get to finish it all.
And worse than that was the fact that Antony was coming to the blasted reunion and for once, rather than looking forward to his company, I was dreading it.
It wasn’t so much guilt, just...regret. It was stupid really, considering how long I’d been obsessingwaiting for Sirius but I’d...ruined it now.
I’d ruined the most obnoxiously perfect thing and it bloody sucked.
If I’d known that Francesco really did actuallyintend to do aforementioned gloating to such a large extent I would have downright refused to go.
Marie apparently purposely had all banners of the ‘Hogwarts year __’ taken down before her arrival although by that time I simply did not care. I think Antony may have cottoned onto the fact that I wasn’t particularly talkative...and perhaps avoiding him too because he didn’t try speaking to me after the first few 5 attempts or so. Marie was still rather irritated with Francesco who, apparently, was the only person in the carriage who felt like talking, and therefore abused the right.
It was already late evening when we arrived at the large manor house and I don’t think I’d ever been more uncomfortable. My head was still throbbing, my feet were aching already and I found myself shifting constantly, simply to allow my blood to keep circulating, my dress was far too tight despite the fact that I’d pointed this out...on several occasions and would have happily stayed in the bloody carriage.
Once again however, my opinion counted for very little.
It was a pretty decent place, several large crystal chandeliers hanging across the vast ballroom with marbled flooring and the long forked staircase down into the main hall. Who knew that Hogwarts reunions could ever be this nice...
I easily unhooked the (ridiculously unnecessary) full length cream cloak, immediately kind of relieved to have the heavy thing off my shoulders. My dress this time was pretty simple...by Francesco’s standards at any rate, the same fitted shape with a weblike detail at the bottom and climbing up my left side, growing increasing narrow as it travelled.
As I said before, it was pretty but uncomfortable.
Despite her initial reservations, Marie was swept off in seconds, her expression brightening as she dragged all of us off, exclaiming loudly.
There were of course a great many hugs and a multitude of ‘Merlin! I haven’t seen you in ages’.
“Darling!” Francesco suddenly hissed at Marie during a temporary lull.
“What?” She whispered back.
“If you ever need confirmation that I am ALWAYS right, look over there, porker in the seat over there...that’s Erik bloody Travers!” Francesco grinned.
“...he used to be so gorgeous,” She said sounding terribly disappointed.
Francesco grinned before turning to me.
“Come on darling, we have work to do!” He beamed before leading me off.
Horrifyingly embarrassing could never quite cover it.
Each one went along the lines of ‘Oh yes, well LOOK WHOSE SUCCESSFUL NOW!’ followed by my introduction as ‘better than any child they could EVER produce’...I didn’t like to point out that he hadn’t exactly produced me either and so remained silent.
Marie did however, thankfully save me, scolding Francesco snappily.
“...this is probably awfully good for him though, you know, facing his demons and all,” She breathed happily as we watched him move onto someone else gleefully.
“...I’m pretty sure several people are going to need counselling after this though,” I said unenthusiastically.
“...mmm...” She agreed absently.
“Well anyway, I’ll be off, Antony should be still around somewhere,” She said sending me a quick wink before moving off.
Oh great, thanks for reminding me.
I heaved an irritable sigh, my hand sitting atop the dress as I tried to draw a few breaths.
"Excuse me," came a voice behind me.
I turned to see some 10 year old kid...all I can say is his mother must have had issues with him because he was in a brown woollen suit with a red and White polka dot bow tie with a rather bright sage green shirt underneath.
"Sorry." I mumbled, moving to the side slightly and out of his way to the punch...needless to say he had absolutely no interest in the stuff.
"Are you in pain?" He asked me.
I looked at him.
"Erm...pardon?" I said slowly.
"Because it must've hurt," He said.
I looked at him warily; rather hopeful he didn't come up with the next phrase I was rather sure he would.
"...pardon?" I said slowly.
"When you fell from heaven because you must be..." He began.
"Get a drink and go, I'm far too old for you," I said flatly.
"I'm nearly 11?" He offered.
"Too. Old," I reiterated. He scowled, grumbling under his breath.
"...and when you are old enough, I suggest you refrain from using that pick up line, it's awful," I said.
"I just wanted to talk to you," He said giving me a wide eyed pout...oh bloody hell.
"I wouldn't try it," I said distastefully.
He wouldn't piss off though. I tried a great number of things but it made no difference.
Worse than that it was almost as if he seemed to signal the go ahead for others, all with equally dire 'chat up lines', if you could even call them that. Ordinarily I wouldn't have minded, ordinarily I may have even played along but I was NOT in the mood and refused to pretend to be either.
Marie however seemed to be having a lovely time, every so often there'd be a delighted squeal, not to mention she was probably the vocal point of the entire place, Francesco, of course by her side, probably still gloating heartily but at least I no longer had to be present for it.
"Do you want to dance?" some bloke said beside me.
I gave a snort.
"I don't think so," I said.
"Darling! Over here!" I heard someone...well Marie call.
I glanced up before breathing a sigh, kneading my neck slightly as I made my way over, leaving the small number of boys behind...and that bloody 10 year old.
"Oh good lord is that your daughter?!" a plump woman gushed.
"Yes! She's lovely isn't she? Anyway Iris this is Helen, we protested the use of newts in potions together," She beamed.
"Oh gosh I remember that!" She laughed.
Marie beamed before introducing me to a few other people, most of whom had kids and finally, and this was the one that really stuck; a tall blonde man with murky green eyes, perfectly chiselled features, impossibly handsome...and familiar for all the wrong reasons.
"Eridanus," I finished for Marie as she gave a rather giggly introduction.
He looked at me, the slight, permanent half smirk remaining on his face as he mustered a look of interest.
"...sorry I read something about you in the daily prophet," I said with a small laugh, mentally kicking myself.
He was a deatheater, a rather high profile one at that too with VERY powerful ties in the ministry. I'd spent the majority of my summer holidays sending owl after owl to Dumbledore, instructing him on 'cutting him off'. It hadn't been as successful as I'd hoped, he was far cleverer than I'd first assumed but at least we'd managed to stop him getting the post of 'Defence Secretary' which wouldn't have been...ideal to say the least.
"Ah," He said, his gaze playing amusedly across my face...I couldn't claim to particularly enjoy the way he looked at me so I decided to make my exit, the wand in my clutchbag seeming to weigh thousands of pounds.
I could so easily take him down, right now, I could turn and hex him...and yet something held me back, something stilled my hand and I can only say it was probably the same thing that had forbidden me from telling on Cane...and I loathed it because Eridanus was worse in EVERY way.
I'd tried, I had, I'd heard Dumbledore mention Cane briefly in passing, I'd opened my mouth to speak...and been simply unable to spit it out. Physically unable.
They say there are two types of evil, those who do evil, and those who see it and do nothing to stop it. I suppose I was the second, and the very worst kind at that.
I hung around a little bit before eventually slipping outside, despite the cold. I was unaware someone was falling me until I heard a twig snap beneath a heavy foot. I glanced back before pausing with the tell tale shimmer of blonde.
...because I am SO clever that I go wondering OUT of a suitably crowded place, into the dark with plenty of cover with a known deatheater on the loose.
Better just take that award now, shouldn't I?
"As far as I know, I haven't been in the daily prophet recently," Eridanus said smoothly.
"I have good memory?" I said easily although I kept walking, deciding it best to go back inside...which also had the added advantage of being warm.
"There's no need to hurry," He said, a somewhat authoritative tone slipping into his voice.
"I'm..." I began when I felt him pull me to a stop, my skin screaming at the contact.
"Stay," He told me.
"I'd really rather not, I'm cold," I repeated, attempting to keep my voice even and 'unimpressed' rather than allowing the slight apprehension the various images in my mind caused.
"W..." He began when, much to my relief, I heard a familiar voice. "Eridanus?" came a voice behind him.
I turned, feeling his linger on me until he too, eventually turned.
...thank you Merlin!
"...Noble..." Eridanus said, straightened up slightly, turning towards him fully.
I didn't think it'd have ever been possible for Antony to look even slightly unfriendly but he did then.
"I think it'd be best if you went inside," He said, easily reaching the same height as Eridanus who was himself, a rather tall man.
Eridanus gave a laugh then.
"Oh how silly, I forgot, you're a big boy now," He mocked.
Antony's face remained set before he spoke, his voice still calm and even.
"I'll prove it someday," He breathed quietly.
"I'm sure you will," Eridanus chuckled amusedly, giving him a pat on the shoulder before he moved off.
I didn't say anything for a moment, stuck in place as Antony remained rooted to the spot, the apparent dislike still sitting unhappily on his face.
"...we should probably go inside," I said eventually.
His gaze swung round to me, almost as if he'd forgotten I was there at all.
"Oh...yeah," He said, glancing back although neither of us moved.
"So how do you know him?" I asked finally after rather a long pause.
"I've known him for a while...I wouldn't suggest walking..." He began.
"I know," I said simply.
"Oh...of course you do, sorry," He said. I shook my head.
"It's no problem," I said.
He nodded slightly before clearing his throat.
"Well...do you want to go inside or something?" He asked.
"Yeah," I said.
Neither made a move although silence poured between us like a great rift.
"I'm sorry...about earlier, I didn't mean to look like I was ignoring you," I said finally.
His looked up from where he was absently scuffing the ground with his shoe, his hands sitting in his trouser pockets.
"Oh...it's fine, you've probably had a pretty long day by now," He said.
I relaxed slightly.
"You could say that," I laughed slightly.
"Yeah..." He said a little awkwardly as his gaze returned to the ground making a very good show of looking decidedly interested in his shoes.
...perhaps I had offended him after all.
"I just...I didn't much sleep last night, I'm kind of irritable when I don't sleep...actually I'm probably irritable a lot of the time but...I'm babbling..." I said, finding myself NEEDING to fill the silence, perhaps unnecessarily.
He did give a slight laugh.
"It's fine, they did mention it," He said.
"Huh?" I said rather stupidly.
"Marie and Francesco, you know..." He started but came to a stop when I gave a small gasp.
Merlin I was such an idiot...but so hoped I was right. Marie and Francesco probably told him I'd spent the night shagging someone...and I was pretty sure he was jealous. Sad though it may be I was rather pleased. I didn't WANT him to be jealous, it was more the fact that...well...he must have had SOME interest if he was. I know he'd asked me out but...I'd been beginning to wonder if...I don't know, he was truly interested. As alien and strange an idea it was, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps it was simply something wrong with ME. I was so used to blokes practically jumping to get into my knickers that if things took more than one meeting or date, I was convinced that something was wrong.
I know I said I liked how slow it was, well I did, I was just afraid of the uncertainty that went with it.
My confidence sprung from action and there was none.
That was all.
"What's wrong?" He said looking round.
"No...sorry I just remembered something...homework or...something," I said rather stupidly.
"...oh," He said.
"I didn't sleep with anyone last night," I blurted out.
...I had been planning on something far more subtle.
He didn't say anything for a moment, obviously embarrassed although I didn't like to take it back.
"Oh...well...that's good," He said awkwardly.
...oh god...ok so I'd been way off the mark...crap.
"...I just thought...I thought I'd say it before you assumed I was some sort of...scarlet woman or something," I said.
"Yeah...well...it's none of my business, is it?" He mumbled.
I don't know why but that hurt more than I could ever have really expressed.
"...I just didn't want you to think badly of me...that's all," I said quietly.
He finally looked up but by that point I was rather sure I'd already made a suitable fool out of myself and with an unintelligible mumble I soon escaped.
...well that went...well. Not.
He didn't follow me, in fact I didn't see him for the majority of the evening.
So I simply sat at the table, busying myself with watching Eridanus flirt shamelessly with Marie...who of course returned the favour. I moved my chin against my hand, absently fiddling with my purse when I felt someone sit down beside me. I turned, just about ready to tell them to fuck off when I realised it was Francesco.
I scowled, turning away from him.
"You look very much like a woman scorned darling," He told me wisely.
"I'm fine," I grumbled.
"...Marie and I didn't mean to upset you...if you really did sleep with someone I mean, we were only teasing," He said gently.
I turned and looked at him before sighing.
"It's fine," I said.
He didn't look particularly convinced but pulled out his cigarette case none the less.
And then just like that I came out with it all.
At random I just...poured my heart out. I didn't care that he was probably a terrible gossip, I just needed someone to moan to and he was simply conveniently placed. I told him all about Sirius (admittedly skipped the rape bit), touched upon Ace, ranted about Mary and finally finished with Antony.
"And it doesn't make any sense because I know nothing about him and everything with Sirius is laid out so perfectly at the moment and it's been ages and I feel so stupid because it's what I wanted and it still is, it's just that now I want something else too and I can't have both," I ended rather pathetically.
He didn't say anything for a moment before a tiny smile pulled at his lips.
"Darling you're human, of course you want everything, we all do. I can't tell you what to do, I only know what you've told of Sirius but I do know Antony and I'm rather sure Antony DOES like you. You just have to let him work things out sometimes, he can be terribly shy and he's a little slow when it comes to people but...well he's already done better than usual, usually takes at least a year to ask anyone on a date," He said pleasantly.
"But he said he didn't care..." I began.
"Darling don't be silly, how often do you deflect a question with 'don't care'? Just give him some time, he'll come back round again, you can't rush him...just give him a few nudges in the right direction," He told me.
I looked at him before I gave him a small smile.
"...thanks," I said.
He smiled back.
"And as for Mary...she has nothing on you darling, don't even think it," He said giving my hand a pat.
"Now, if you don't mind, I think I shall go and retrieve my wife...never did like that man...used to have awful dandruff," He said snubbing his cigarette before getting up.
"Oh she's your wife now?" I said amusedly.
"Oh she is indeedy...when it matters, the trousers do come out darling!" He said pleasantly.
"I'll be right back," He told me before leaving.
I cheered up somewhat after that, even accepting an invitation or two for a dance.
Ok so I can't say Francesco had cleared everything up for me but on one hand, if we'd progressed from strangers to dating in a few months then it couldn't be THAT bad.
"Darling you're unattractively pissed out of your mind," Francesco informed Marie shortly.
"It was your idea to come," She giggled.
He rolled his eyes.
"We've got a portkey to catch in a few hours," He said flatly.
She gave a whine.
"...I don't even like those people!" She complained.
"Well it doesn't matter...Antony darling, do us a favour and take Iris back to school, will you?" Francesco threw over his shoulder as he led Marie over to one of the carriage.
"O..." Antony started.
"Love you too darling, don't know what we'd do without you," He cut across him pleasantly.
...nice to feel wanted and all...
I turned to Marie and Francesco but they'd already disappeared.
"Urm...so apparition then?" I asked.
He nodded before extending a hand which I took, admittedly rather enjoying how warm...ugh, ignore that. I hadn't really been counting on the fact that it was going to absolutely pouring it down when we arrive in Hogsmeade. My robe swirling around me as the wind tore through the highstreet bringing stinging sleet and the odd flash of hail with it.
Got to love Scottish winters right?
Well apparently, the answer appears to be yes because in this case, due to the inability to safely get up the hill we ended up popping into The Three Broomsticks.
There were a fair number in there considering the time, mostly looking out at the storm unfolding from the warm, softly lit interior of the cosy pub.
"...I can make my own way up when the storms died down if you need to go," I told him, pulling the sodden cloak off my shoulders.
He turned from where he was looking out the window, managing to look the tiniest bit hurt.
"Of course not. I said I'd make sure you got back," He said.
"Oh...ok," I said before beginning to pull the various hair grips and ties out of my hair before picking up my wand and drying myself from head to toe.
"Look erm...what I said earlier..." He began uncomfortably.
"I...I didn't mean...I do care...about you...I mean..." He coughed.
"I think you're..." He began growing increasingly pink.
"Would you like something to eat or drink?" came a chirpy voice. I felt my gaze flatten as they fell on 'Mademoiselle Rosemerta'.
"Oh...it's you," She said distastefully.
"So it is," I said in the same unenthusiastic tone.
She sent me a brief glare before turning back to Antony.
"What would you like sweet cheeks? Something warm I expect," She giggled.
Oh that bitch.
I can't even be quite sure where our mutual hatred stemmed from, she was only a few years older than me but...ugh.
"Erm...I think we 're good for the moment thanks," He said.
"Ok...call if you need anything," She said with a wink before moving off.
She so did that on purpose...
The conversation however was at least a little easier...even if I didn't know how to nudge the conversation back to the previous subject...ah well.
We sat together in one of the booths in the furthest part of the place to the door, and I became increasingly glad of the seemingly unending raging of the storm.
"It doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon," I said nodding over towards the window as yet another great rumble of thunder sounded.
"I know," He said. "If the worst comes the worst, we can always get a couple of rooms, I can send a patronus up to Dumbledore and Marie and Francesco," He shrugged.
I liked that idea more than I really cared to admit...
I nodded before turning back, a small smile touching my lips.
"It's funny, when I was a kid I used to love it when storms hit, everyone else would start going mental because the lights ALWAYS went out but we'd have gas lamps and it was somehow always a major event," I chuckled vaguely.
He smiled, circling the rim of his glass (which we'd safely procured after the other barman had resurfaced).
"Will...will you still come on Saturday...if storms stopped?" I asked randomly.
His smile widened.
"You know I come every Saturday...even if it is like this," He said motioning at random.
"I probably spend an unholy amount of time getting ready each time," I laughed.
...Oh Merlin, did I really just say that?!
"I think you look beautiful either way," He said ducking his head slightly.
I gave him a smile as my gaze met his.
And I think that's the point where I kissed him.
Ok I know I'd already snogged Sirius and all but...I couldn't help it. Nor could I help how all my thoughts shuffled and reshuffled themselves into a chaotic mess as his hand slipped round to cup the side of my cheek, his other arm slipping around my waist as his lips met mine.
I didn't really want it to end, as if by breaking apart everything would just fall to pieces. Of course I had to because otherwise we both would have starved from lack oxygen but luckily, the world didn't quite fall in as a result.
"Jesus," I breathed.
"...I've wanted to do that for rather a long time actually," He chuckled shyly.
"I don't think any guy has ever made me feel as nervous as you do," I admitted sheepishly.
"Ah but you can at least form coherent sentences," He teased gently, his thumb stroking the side of my face.
"But I think I rather like your incoherent ones," I laughed.
"I didn't know whether you fancied me or not," I admittedly quietly.
He laughed at that, as if it were the most hilarious thing he'd ever heard.
"I...ages ago, before Christmas, there was a Quidditch match, I came with David. And...I dunno, I saw you and I sort of just...liked you," He said lamely.
...crap I really can't say I remembered that...
"I've probably driven all my friends mad and I didn't know how else to do it so I got myself invited to one of Slughorn's parties, hoping you'd be there but then I chickened out because I didn't know what what to say to you," He continued, the tips of his eyes going red with embarrassment.
"...I really had no idea," I said.
"I'd run out of ideas after that but then you sort of just appeared at Marie's party so I thought I might as well try," He chuckled.
"Well I have to say I'm rather glad you did," I grinned.
"I thought you realised, I came every day after the party to see you," He said.
"I thought you were just running errands and stuff, I thought you were talking to me because you had a few spare minutes...kind of thing," I said stupidly.
"Ah but that's what I wanted you to think!" He said wisely.
"And...you know that package you brought, before Venice...that wasn't from Marie was it?" I said slowly.
"No," He said wincing slightly.
"I thought it was just me being forgetful," I laughed.
"I owled her and she said she hadn't sent anything," I said.
"Yeah..." He laughed.
"...it was a really nice bracelet, thank you," I grinned. He smiled.
"I feel like a right prat now..." He admitted with a chuckle.
"No, I thought it was very nicely done 'Say, Iris, I don't suppose you want a drink?'," I mimicked.
"Pure genius on my part I must say," He teased.
"Oh indeed," I nodded.
He smiled before his lips brushing mine again, somewhat cautiously.
"I..." I began softly when the most horrifyingly familiar voice sounded far too close for comfort.
"Iris!" came a bark.
I paused before slowly turning until my gaze landed on Moody.
"What are you doing here?! You're supposed to be in school!" He snapped furiously.
"Marie and Francesco pulled me out," I said flatly.
His eyes narrowed before they turned to Antony.
"What are you doing here?" He said in a soft deadly voice.
"Erm...bringing her back..." He said slowly.
"Oh really?" He growled.
I slid my head onto my hand.
"Moody..." I began.
"Don't start! I have a bone to pick with you anyway!" He snapped.
"How surprising," I said sarcastically.
"Did I, or did I not, tell you that you were DISALLOWED from venturing OUT of the orphanage during the holidays?!" He said poking the table with a knarled finger.
"I can't help the fact that I was adop...!" I retorted.
"YOU WENT OUT TO MEET THAT ACE BOY!" He roared.
"I did not go out to meet him, I went out and met up with him by chance," I scowled.
"I told you I didn't like him," He said.
"He's my friend," I said flatly.
He just eyed me for a moment.
"Oh for...I was bored, I went out, I'm sorry!" I cried in aggravation.
"I don't care, you're in detention anyway!" He snapped.
"You can't give me detention! Detention is reserved for school, not you bloody stalking me outside of it!" I snapped.
"2 weeks!" He cried.
My gaze flattened.
"I'm talking to Dumbledore," I said flatly.
"You can't, he's not in," He retorted.
"Anyway, come on, you're going back to school," Moody said.
"Have you seen the weather outside?" I said flatly. He thought about it for a moment before he scowled.
"Then...go get a room...and stay in it!" He snapped.
I just arched an eyebrow before finally turning to Antony.
"I'm sorry Antony, Moody's a psycho with delusions of parenthood," I said flatly.
"Make it 3...and don't even get me started on this!" He cried motioning around.
"He was only dropping me off," I breathed.
"That's what they all say," He said eyeing Antony.
"...and we'll leave it at that," I said edging out from the booth, coat in hand.
"I will not have you seduce..." Moody began.
"MOODY!" I said.
He turned to before humphing.
"I've got my eyes on you," He threw back at Antony before crossing over to the landlord.
"I'm sorry..." I began.
"Iris!" Moody barked.
I rolled my eyes.
"Wait!" Antony said as I began to move off.
"Still wanna meet on Saturday?" He asked softly.
"Of course," I grinned before kissing his cheek.
"IRIS!" Moody cried, his neck going rather red.
I sent another grin at Antony before moving off.
After that I didn't even mind the hideously long lecture I received from Moody on the way up about 'young mens intentions' followed by a large dose of 'touching is bad'.
"He's too old for you," He scowled, pacing as I sat on the surprisingly comfortable bed, waiting for him to finish and bugger off.
I breathed a long suffering sigh.
"He's..." I began.
"He'll expect things!" He warned. I rolled my eyes before looking up at him.
"I have, on numerous occasions, exercised the right to say 'no', I'm positive I can do it again." I said.
He narrowed his eyes.
"How long have you been seeing him?" He said suspiciously.
"...a month," I said.
He looked at me before turning.
"I'll be conducting a full character reference and background check..." He began.
"No!" I cried in horror.
"You will be chaperoned..." He continued.
"Moody! That's ridiculous!" I cried furiously.
"Plus you've already done background checks! If you can trust him with what I can do, it can't be that difficult to trust him with me!" I snapped.
"There's a difference between business and 'leisure activities'...plus I don't trust you either, you're getting into increasingly bad ways," He told me.
No matter how hard I tried to protest these points, it made very little difference.
The storm raged through the night and I simply lay there, my mind whirling with each howl of the wind.
I was so...confused. Sirius was...god I just...I liked him. I knew I did and I'd enjoyed last night.
...it was probably a very good thing that Moody couldn't read my thoughts because my mind easily began to wander. Ok so perhaps things had got a little...heated. In fact I'm rather sure I would have ended up shagging him...if he hadn't suddenly fallen asleep.
...turns out the chocolate bars were spiked with sleeping potion. It had been rather alarming actually, he'd been happily groping me one moment and then the next he was out like a bloody light. I'd never really lusted after anyone like I had last night and I'd been rather annoyed considering the inconvenient timing.
Then again I was probably also the tiniest bit relieved considering the fact that losing my virginity (well that was already a lost cause but willingly having it off with someone) in a shed really wasn't exactly what I'd envisioned...at all. Not to mention I hadn't thought it through at all and Sirius was...well I liked him...a lot and I didn't want to make a fool out of myself which, I guess with the cold rationality of the morning, didn't seem like such a bad thing.
And then onto Antony.
Antony who was a completely different story altogether.
I was still buzzing with that warm elation, the odd grin slipping onto my face every time I so much as thought about it. I liked him, I did and it was stupid because I liked Sirius too but I was dying to give Antony a chance, just to see what happened.
I just...I liked the way he made me feel. Let's face it, Sirius and I didn't exactly have the calmest of relationships but...Antony made me feel extraordinary childlike and yet mature at the same time and...and so safe.
It was a stupid observation but I did, when I was with him everything just calmed down, nothing mattered like it had before. It freaked me, like seriously but, at the same time, I adored it.
I'd walked into this totally unguarded and thus far had remained so, he knew about my visions and yet that didn't bother me in the slightest.
I didn't even realise I'd gotten out of bed until my feet hit the floor. I'd go talk to him, I decided, probably somewhat later than the rest of me had done so.
I picked up the cape, wrapping it around myself considering I was sleeping in only my underwear due to a lack of clothes. I stepped lightly to the door, twisting the handle and opening it marginally, waiting a moment or two and pulling it further open.
"BACK TO BED!" a voice roared causing me to have several simultaneous heart attacks AND jump out of my skin.
"Jesus," I gasped, clutching my chest.
"Bed, now!" Moody ordered.
"Wh..." I began.
"I'm keeping an eye on you. Bed," He snapped.
My gaze flattened into a scowl before I moved back into bed, locking the door behind me as I muttered an obscene number of curses.
"Hey Iris!" came a voice to my side as I walked in through the entrance hall, having had no choice but to wear the same things as yesterday.
I turned, cringing ever so slightly when I saw Sirius.
"I..." I began when he reached me, his hand slipping round the back of my neck before his lips met mine.
...I can't say I was exactly protesting though. He was a very good kisser...
"I've been thinking about it and I was gonna say let's forget what happened but...bloody hell I don't want to," He said with a slight, ever so quietly nervous, chuckle.
"I..." I began.
"I broke up with Mary yesterday and...I wanna be with you," He said somewhat sheepishly.
...I couldn't just reject him but I certainly couldn't agree either...
"Ok," I said.
He grinned before kissing me again.
In my defence...ok no, there really isn't much of a case...
"So what happened yesterday then?" He asked as we began to walk.
"Oh Francesco went 'missing' for a while so everyone was going mental, turns out he'd disappeared so he could 'create darling'," I breathed.
"I thought you were coming back last night?" He said.
"I got caught in the storm, had to stay at the three broomsticks," I said. He chuckled before moving an arm over my shoulder.
"I forgot to say I like your dress," He grinned.
"It's a fucking torture device," I said before glancing up at him.
"Err...this is...you know the other night errr...ok basically we are not going that far for a while ok?" I said. Although he tried to stop it, a grin still pulled at his lips.
"Not even if I do a great deal of seducing?" He said.
"No, not even then," I said admittedly somewhat amusedly.
"I've been told I'm very good at it," He said waggling his eyebrows.
I chuckled as I rolled my eyes.
"Don't let Moody hear you say that, he's on the war path as it...oh!" I said giving a slight gasp as realisation hit.
Moody knew about Antony.
Moody knew Sirius.
The unfortunate possibility of Moody seeing Sirius and I together was uncomfortably high...ugh, this was...ugh!
"What?" He frowned.
I glanced at him, wincing ever so slightly at the expression of open innocent curiosity on his face.
"Nothing it's just...well Moody's apparently having a 'moment' so..." I began.
"Behave around him," He chuckled.
"Yeah..." I said slowly.
"Cool," He said.
I nodded once before we continued walking, his arm seeming to weigh a thousand pounds as it sat against shoulders.
"So let me get this right, you nearly shagged Sirius then snogged Antony, then agreed to be Sirius' girlfriend?" Hemera said slowly.
I gave whimper, burying my face further against the pillow, giving a mumbled reply.
"...you can't cheat on Sirius!" She cried. I lifted my head, frowning at her.
"I'm not cheating on Sirius," I said indignantly.
"Did you or did you not kiss Antony?" She said shortly.
I looked at her in horror.
"Oh my god I am!" I moaned.
"I...but you like Sirius!" She said almost desperately.
"I know but...Antony's just..." I began.
"Oh Iris no," She moaned moving her head into her hands.
"I can't help it!" I snapped.
"You can! You can just stop seeing Antony!" She cried in exasperation.
"I like Antony! I like Sirius too but I don't want to fucking date him! I just...I know it sounds pathetic but I really want to give Antony a chance," I finished pathetically, my gaze dropping to my hands.
She didn't say anything before she sighed.
"Ok then," She said simply. I looked up.
"But you can't keep Sirius hanging like that, you need to tell him," She said.
"But then he'll hate me," I said quietly.
"...but finding out you cheated on him..." She began.
"This is stupid. I don't know why it couldn't just be simple and...there's no way I can do it without hurting someone," I breathed.
"I know but I guess if you're going to do it, you might as well do it once and do it right. You'll just end up miserable otherwise," She told me gently.
I looked at her for a moment before giving a sigh.
"I need to think about this," I said tiredly.
"It'll be alright," She chuckled, nudging me gently.
"...thanks Hemera," I said gently.
"No problem," She smiled.
I smiled back before it widened into a grin.
"Speaking of which, I haven't heard much about you and Monsieur Andy," I said.
She made a face.
"Ok so although he's an annoying moody pain in the arse, you were sweet together," I said. She grumbled a reply.
"I don't know, Cane's practically stalking me now so I've just avoided him," She said.
"Oh Merlin!" I suddenly gasped.
"What?" She said looking confused.
"Last night Cane and Severus and Ace and that lot were on their way to the forbidden forest, I meant to follow it up but..." I began.
"I know. It woke me up last night but I couldn't see a bloody thing," She said chewing her lip anxiously.
"Crap," I said deflating somewhat. She looked at me before she sighed.
"Anyway come on, we've got a 'friendly' to go see," She said getting to her feet, the various items of clothing covering my bed discarded as I too followed. The 'friendly' was a simple result of some insult going too far and reaching gargantuan proportions. Slytherin as Gryffindor as usual.
It'd started out as a small thing to 'sort a few things out' and had now completely blown up into a school event. The Marauders were of course at the heart.
I didn't particularly actually want to go but considering the fact that I was supposedly now Sirius' girlfriend and still possessed the title of 'head watcher' I had very little choice. It wasn't terribly cold today but I still resented the fact that the majority of my jumpers had been destroyed.
Francesco of course had happily provided me with a solution, sending me a surprisingly warm jumper dress. My mind was a whirl of rather confusing thoughts as we made our way down, catching a quick glimpse of Cane and Severus who'd obviously (unfortunately) made it back just fine the night before.
"Ah bloody hell," I groaned as we came to a halt at the door.
"What?" Hemera asked.
I rolled my eyes.
"I forgot something, I'll be right back ok?" I said unenthusiastically.
She frowned, shrugged and continued on none the less. I turned, a small smile playing on my lips as I saw Andy move after her, a somewhat determined look on his face. I thought it best to leave them too it. I hadn't really forgotten anything but for some odd reason I still found myself going back to my dorm.
I'd just climbed the stairs to the second floor when I heard a voice.
"Shouldn't you be at the match...or are you going to stand him up too?" a low drawl sounded.
I looked round, my eyes veering into a roll when I saw Ace.
“Shut up Ace,” I said flatly.
"Well done Iris, for showing up my point brilliantly, here was I thinking you actually had a thing for Sirius but...fuck, no, you were using him too," He said. I just looked at him before I sighed, dropping the hand to my side.
"I'm REALLY not in the mood right now," I said flatly.
"Well you were OBVIOUSLY in the mood when you slept with him," He smirked, leaning against the wall, tilting his head to the side. I just looked at him before I rolled my eyes.
“Where the hell did you hear that?” I said.
“I dunno,” He said, his eyes glimmering as he watched me.
“...right, well, I think I’m going to go then, unless you have something else insightful to say,” I said sarcastically before turning and on my heel and continuing up the stairs.
“So, I’m curious, how does it feel to know that that there are two people who could take you down?” He said conversationally as he followed.
I glanced at him.
“What are you talking about?” I said tiredly.
“I’d be a bit more careful if I were you,” He grinned.
I paused and turned to look at him.
“Pardon?” I said.
“You talk too much, I always said it,” He said.
My gaze flattened as my impatience began to simmer on the surface.
“Ace stop playing fucking games and spit it out,” I snapped.
“Sirius is gonna hate your fucking guts you know, when he finds out what happened,” He smirked.
I closed my eyes, breathing a quick sigh before opening them again and turning to him.
“What do you want?” I said monotonously.
He grinned before he chuckled, shaking his head as he bounded up the few steps towards me.
“Nothing, I’m just bored so I thought I might as well come wind you up,” He said cheerfully.
I paused, my brow furrowing at the sudden change in tone.
“Wh...I thought you weren’t talking to me...” I said slowly.
“I want front row tickets to watch you fuck up your life,” He said pleasantly, slinging an arm round my shoulders.
By this point I was just downright confused.
“How...” I started slowly.
“Just heard you talking about it,” He shrugged.
“...so I’m guessing this means you’ve decided to bless me with your presence again...” I said sarcastically. He pretended to look thoughtfully for a moment.
“You’re still a screwed up bitch...and a user, but we’ll settle on the agreement that if you ever make me look like an idiot again I’ll just fuck everything up for you,” He said simply.
“...why are you really talking to me Ace?” I said after a moment as we continued walking.
He looked down at me before tilting back his head and letting out a sigh.
“Fine! I fuckin’ missed you, ok?! Cane’s fucking boring, Snape needs to wash his fucking hair and that Carrow girl keeps coming onto me! Have you even fucking seen her?!” He scowled.
I looked at him before I simply burst out laughing.
“Oh darling it serves you right,” I said affectionately.
“Shut up. I haven’t shagged anything for 2 whole fucking weeks now, do you know how many times a week I usually get laid...?” He began.
“I really don’t want to know,” I interjected before I paused slightly.
“But what I do want to know is what you were doing last night in the forbidden forest?" I said.
He looked up, a frown crossing his features.
"Wh...it was you wasn't it?" He said flatly.
"Me...?" I began uncertainly.
"You left your wand behind," He said.
"I know," I said slowly.
He sighed, sitting up slightly.
"Look Iris, don't...don't get in the way alright?" He said somewhat condescendingly.
"Why?" I said, my eyebrow immediately arching, almost as a default reaction to his tone.
"Because then I'd have to hurt you and I don't want to do that," He said softly though...beneath it I could hear the threat.
"You'd 'hurt' me?" I said raising an eyebrow sceptically.
He just looked at me for a moment, a flicker of dark irritation crossing his features but he simply shrugged before allowing a grin to move onto his face, the mood lightening with it and I allowed him to, I didn't pry because I didn't want to know.
I missed Ace.
And that was a stupid excuse to turn a blind eye.
"You, love, can be a bit dim sometimes," He told me casually.
"Mmm?" I said.
He glanced back at me with a grin.
"Because you know I know about Ant," He said in a sing song voice. I paused.
"You wouldn't dare," I growled. He looked up again before he chuckled, taking my hand and pulling me onto the same beanbag as him.
"Nah, I wouldn’t but you know, if you're ever looking for something, I'm always here to help," He said waggling his eyebrows.
"Letch," I said flatly.
"You missed me," He grinned. I scoffed.
"Because really right now, you don’t want to be..." He began but I simply moved my hand over his mouth.
"The absolute LAST thing I want to do right now is shag anything, let alone a walking mass of disease," I said flatly.
He groaned, his head flopping back in an overdone show of 'misery'.
"I haven't shagged ANYTHING in 2 weeks. 2!" He cried.
"I thought you had Leda?" I said amusedly.
"She’s buggered off hasn’t she," He scowled.
"Said I didn't 'respect her' or some shit like that...who said you had to respect someone when you were fucking them?!" He cried in aggravation.
I just looked at him.
"My god...you're such a...bastard," I said in utter disbelief.
"...I'd respect you though," He grinned, giving his eyebrows another suggestive waggle.
"On a scale of 1-10 that proposal ranks about -3," I said flatly.
"Ah so still in with a decent chance then," He said with a wink.
"You're impossible...and remind me next time I see Leda to congratulate her," I said.
"Nah she's leaving, her parents have decided to leave before 'things get worse'...you know she wouldn't even let me bloody touch her to say goodbye..." He began when I smacked him round the head.
"Owwww! What was that for?!" He cried indignantly.
"For being a prat, shut up," I snapped.
"I was just being honest," He grumbled.
"Well keep it to yourself," I said flatly.
"I'm just explaining the situation, just so can make it all be...OWWW!" He cried when I elbowed him once more.
"Shut up," I said.
"Never used to be this fucking violent," He grumbled.
I rolled my eyes.
"Keep off the suggestions, I'm not in the mood," I scowled.
"But you were in the mood when you nearly shagged Sirius," He sang innocently.
I turned to look at him.
He looked back at me suspiciously innocent look on his face, twiddling his thumbs pleasantly.
"I did n..." I began.
"Took you a while," He commented with a grin.
"Shut up, I did n...!" I began indignantly.
"Yeah you did, stop denying it, we both know you did. You know you nearly sleep with a lot of people," He said pleasantly.
"Are you calling me a slut?" I said, my eyes narrowing.
"If I was calling you a slut, I'd call you a slut love," He said giving me a pat. I glared at him.
"So what stopped you this time, did he get you drunk too?" He asked with a huge grin.
"I...wh...shut up," I snapped.
"Ah come on, I'm just asking. Who the fuck am I gonna tell anyway? You need a blokes advice and look at that! Here I am," He said.
"I don't trust you," I said narrowing my eyes.
"Ah! But you see you do, you just don't want to trust me, there's a simple distinction love," He said. I looked at him before rolling eyes.
"He passed out," I said.
There a moment before the predicted great rip of laughter sounded. I crossed my arms over my chest, my gaze flattening as I waited for him to finish, totally unamused.
It wasn't long until he'd practically fallen off the beanbag, gasping for air as if it were the funniest thing ever. It finished eventually of course, with him wiping away the tears of mirth that were rolling down his face as he settled with a chuckle.
"Always knew he was a light weight," He snickered. I glared at him.
"Shut up Ace," I said flatly.
"So what, you were nearly there and he went out cold?" He snorted.
I opened my mouth and closed it again.
"Did you get as far as we did?" He said waggling his eyebrows. I rolled my eyes.
"That's disgusting Ace," I said.
"Wouldn’t mind seeing all that again," He said slyly.
"It’s funny how I'd almost forgotten how your thoughts and speech are centred purely in your trousers," I said flatly.
"S'like a breath of fresh air, isn't it?" He said pleasantly.
"We didn't even get that far anyway," I scoffed.
"You did flash me," He said fairly.
"I had my underwear on all night, I did not flash you," I said rolling my eyes.
"And you let me put my hand up your skirt," He said.
"That doesn't count," I snapped.
"And you weren't even THAT drunk yet," He grinned.
"AND you also put your hand..." He began.
"No I did not!!" I cried indignantly.
"Who has a full and vivid recollection of the aforementioned night?" He said.
"Oh shut up you prat," I snapped. He grinned.
"You were throwing yourself at me," He scoffed arrogantly.
"And you kindly didn't take advantage," I said pleasantly, giving him a pat. He of course, scowled.
"Shut up," He said gruffly.
"What's so bad about being semi decent anyway?" I said.
"'cause then I turn into some prat like Sirius, not getting laid because I'm too busy saving damsels in distress," He snorted.
"He was shagging Mary," I pointed out.
"Everyone shags Mary," He said dismissively. I rolled my eyes.
"He's not too smart though, I wouldn't give up a regular shag for an uptight, sarcastic, argumentative bint in Babbitt rabbity underwear," He said.
"Wow Ace, you really know how to make me feel good about myself," I replied sarcastically.
"Especially if she was dating some other poor git behind my back," He said.
"Don't Ace," I said sharply.
"I don't even have babbity rabbity underwear anymore," I scowled.
Francesco had destroyed the lot of them on sight, bar the one pair that I’d been wearing at the time, insisting that they were ‘satanic garments’ and deserved to return to the ‘hell fire’ from which they’d sprung.
"Really?" He said.
"If you think you're going to come out with some kind of..."
"You gonna let me have a look then," He said cheekily. I whacked him...hard.
"You're impossible!" I cried in aggravation.
So I know it's been a while...a very long while and I'm REALLY sorry but everything's been kind of hectic and I just haven't felt up to doing anything :S I had a whole long thing to say but now it's completely gone so we'll keep it short and sweet :P
p.s. Sorry if this chappies a bit disjointed x.x
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