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Chapter 153 : Restless Tension
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Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Three
Ted went on reading the 1997 journal over breakfast. Andromeda made no comment and left him to it, and long after she was finished, he remained at the table, hunched over the account of the aftermath of his grandfather’s departure.
Needless to say, Nymphadora and Andromeda were both out of sorts in the days following Ted’s departure. Of course he would send news when he could, but that wasn’t very comforting. There was no way to tell if a lack of correspondence from him was simply because he was unable to deliver it, or if it was because he was dead.
At any rate, Andromeda had sworn off speaking directly to Remus at all, and when he was in the room, she simply pretended he wasn’t present, except to flash him a look of cold fire from her steely indigo eyes, so like her daughter’s. Lucky for him though, when Nymphadora’s indigo eyes filled with tears at odd moments when she’d drop a plate or come across something that reminded her strongly of her father, they looked upon him with them with nothing but love.
And it occurred to Remus that Andromeda might be a little envious of her daughter. Not that she meant to be, it was just a feeling she couldn’t help because of her own misery: that though her father was off God knew where, at least she still had her husband, and unfortunately, Andromeda certainly could not be said to be grateful that she still had her son-in-law. She did have her daughter though, into which she poured more love than ever, and it brought a smile to Remus’ face (though he made sure Andromeda wasn’t looking), when, on her way out from visiting with and looking after Nymphadora while Remus was away on patrol, his mother-in-law would fawn over her daughter’s slowly progressing pregnancy.
No “baby bump” yet, that wouldn’t be for a few months. According to the literature Nymphadora was keeping up with and making sure Remus did the same, by now the child was a veritable fetus about the size of a blueberry. A considerably long way from the mere knot of cells in such a short amount of time.
Remus gave this some thought as he considered one of the blueberries in his bowl of cereal at breakfast on the Wednesday morning after Ted’s departure. Then he glanced over at his wife, who was picking at her own cereal. She’d lost some interest in eating since dinner on Friday, Ted’s last supper.
“Dora.” He reached over and laid his hand over hers sitting still beside her own bowl of cornflakes.
Nymphadora looked up at him and sniffed. “What?”
“Please try to eat. I know you miss your father, and you’re worried about him….”
“It’s okay, Remus…I’m going to be fine, really.”
Remus gave her hand a squeeze. “Sweetheart.”
“I—” Nymphadora withdrew with a demure and apologetic attempt at a smile.
“I’m right here,” he told her.
She looked into his eyes as they grew misty again, and she took his hand in both of hers and returned his affectionate squeeze with her own. “That’s good that you are. I don’t know how I’d get through this without you.” She lowered her lashes. “I just wish there was something I could do for Mum.”
Remus laid his other hand over the two of hers so that now they were clasping both each other’s hands across the varnished wood. “Keep her looking forward to becoming a grandmother.”
That day while Remus was out on patrol, Nymphadora and Andromeda risked venturing out shopping for some new clothes for her to wear, particularly some bras one full cup size larger than her normal size, since that’s how much her breasts had managed to grow by now. When he returned home, Remus was greeted with a loving kiss and embrace from his wife and a cold farewell from his mother-in-law.
“Oh Remus, don’t worry so much about it,” said Nymphadora, brushing across his fringe with her fingers the way she liked to do. “Come see what we bought today.”
Remus was just glad to see her trying to smile for him. He was also pleased to learn that after tracking the frequency for some time, she really wasn’t getting bouts of nausea all that much anymore.
“That’s certainly good news,” said Remus, glancing once at the spot far off in the distance where Andromeda had Disapparated. And then he presented Nymphadora with something he had picked up at the market on his way home form patrol.
“Olives?” Nymphadora stared as she took the jar from Remus.
“For your cravings,” he said. “Mind you still remember to eat well and not just fill up on these. Aaaaaand—” He withdrew the other surprise from inside his robes: a very large bar of chocolate. Though it’d cracked in half with the force of Nymphadora’s very tight hug.
Not that it mattered. She looked at the two gifts, so ordinary really, but they meant so much because he had been thinking of her. She set them on the little lowboy underneath the coat hooks…and Remus barely had time to brace himself before she pounced on him, sending him sprawling all the way out onto the front path of the house, giving a great squeal of delight as she did so.
“You are so terribly perfect sometimes, Remus, I just can’t handle it!” she crowed as she sat up astride him.
Remus laughed as he considered her words, and their current position. “So that justifies knocking me flat on my back, does it?”
Nymphadora leaned down on him again so she could plant a kiss on his forehead. “Don’t tell me you don’t enjoy being tackled by a beautiful woman?” she teased.
“Can’t argue with that,” he murmured against her ear. “My beautiful rainbow.”
As she lifted her face to look at him, he leaned up and kissed her lips. Her smile widened and she kissed him back, nuzzling her nose with his.
“My beautiful rainbow with her cute little nose…her cute little nose that tastes of the chocolate cake she’s baking….”
Nymphadora giggled as she too remembered the moments leading up to their first kiss as a couple, though the surprise one Remus had sprung on her over a year before then had been quite enchanting too. Then she kissed his cheek, and everywhere else on his face, over and over again until they were both laughing. And she ran her hands lovingly through his hair.
“You know what, Remus?” she said.
“I’m awfully hungry. Starving. Famished.”
Remus slid his hands up along her thighs as he wound his arms around her and pressed her closer to him. Her appetite was coming back.
“My strong Nymphadora.” She lifted her head again to look at him, and he reached up and stroked her pink hair. “My Dora. I just know you’re going to be all right. That we’re going to be all right. We just have to be. We have to be.”
Her smile quivered, but she didn’t lose it. “I hope you’re right, darling,” and she leaned down and brushed her lips across his again.
Gladly he deepened the kiss with her, and all that mattered was what he felt now, holding her and kissing her like this, Bellatrix Lestrange and her ilk be damned.
“Remus? Are you awake?”
“Yeah.” Remus rolled over and pulled his wife closer to him beneath the sheets. He stroked his fingertip along her bare arm. “What is it?”
“Hm, I was just wondering…if there wasn’t something we could do to help Harry, even though we can’t go with him….”
“Ah yes…I was wondering the same thing myself.”
“Is that why you were awake?” Nymphadora stroked the length of his bare back.
“It is actually. You read my moods too easily.”
“That’s because I know you too well.”
“Oh, is that so?” Remus slipped his arms around her, enfolding her close as he touched his nose to hers, her eyes glittering in the dark.
“Yes,” Nymphadora giggled under her breath.
Remus gave a little growl, an echo of their fiery delights from about an hour ago, and leaned in and kissed her. “I’ll bring it up at the next Order meeting,” he murmured against her lips. “We all may have to put our heads together on this.” He withdrew on a sudden thought. “Although, now come to think of it, Fred and George have been talking about taking the technology from the spy transmitter a step further. Luckily the bugs are still on Nott and Travers—they’re clingy little devils—but they’ve been talking about applying that to a broadcasting device.”
“Well The Daily Sod-It’s been no help in giving people the real news.”
“Indeed it hasn’t. Now that definitely needs to be corrected.”
On the first of September, Remus had the morning off from patrol duty, so he and Nymphadora decided to go visit Molly after she and Arthur took Ginny to King’s Cross for the Hogwarts Express.
“It was so strange not taking Ron as well, like we thought we’d be doing,” said Molly, trying to sound off-hand about it as she bustled about the kitchen preparing a small lunch spread for them. “He only had one more year, and then it’d just be Ginny…but this…feels wrong somehow….”
Remus and Nymphadora glanced at each other at the kitchen table, and then Nymphadora said, “Things’ll be put right, Molly. Who knows what’ll be in store for us in the next year?”
And Remus added, “That’s right. By then we may finally be rid of Voldemort, and we can make a bid to rebuild the world we nearly had taken from us a second time. We can always hope for that.”
Molly made a small whimper at Voldemort’s name, but she changed it quickly into a clearing of her throat. “Anyway,” she went on as she passed them each an empty bowl, “if that’s not bad enough, we’ve got Severus Snape to deal with as our children’s headmaster this year, the nerve….”
Remus had never heard Molly speak of anyone with such acidity and contempt. But he couldn’t exactly blame her. It was an understatement to say that everyone in the Order was less than thrilled that Albus Dumbledore’s treacherous murderer had replaced him in his respected office of Hogwarts headmaster. Remus himself had flung the newspaper aside when he read the announcement earlier.
He glanced at the magical clock, which Molly had brought with her just as she’d done all of last year, so even though it was back in the kitchen, it remained in the laundry basket rather than returned to its perch on the wall. He mildly observed the now usual look of all the hands—all the faces of all of the Weasleys—pointed to “Mortal Peril”. It was almost standard now, a kind of stasis, though a tense one, if ever there was.
In his own heart he could hear the ticking too, and he imagined the chug of the scarlet Hogwarts Express barreling northward, absent of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Absent of Undesireable No.1 and his accomplices.
So where were they, if not on the Hogwarts Express? He had to wonder. If not for his own sake (though that was certainly part of it, being that he cared very much for Harry, and his friends too), then for the sake of James, Lily, and Sirius.
If anything it awakened a restlessness inside of him that he imagined Sirius must have experienced ten-fold while locked up in Grimmauld Place. There must be something he could do to help Harry. Indeed, he had sincerely wanted to help the young man with his mission for Dumbledore to defeat Voldemort. And he still did. He was just sticking by his wife and child while he did so, and was quite glad of it.
But patrolling Muggle dwellings for threat of Death Eater activity, when in the wake of the coup things had been suspiciously quiet apart from so much fascist buzz and investigation about the Ministry, while it was a noble endeavor, it didn’t give him the same satisfaction he craved.
Maybe Harry was right, he reflected grimly. Maybe I do fancy stepping into Sirius’ shoes.
Something of his thoughts must have shown on his face, because Nymphadora said, “Remus? What is it? Something’s bothering you.”
Remus looked at her, and found that the air in the kitchen seemed oddly thin, the whole place crowded, even though it was just him, Nymphadora, and Molly, and their cooking lunch of course. Nevertheless….
He stood abruptly from the kitchen table. “I need to get some air. I’ll be back. If you’ll excuse me,” leaving Nymphadora and Molly staring puzzledly after him, Molly about to serve them both stew from a ladle into their bowls.
Outside in the Weasleys’ little garden, Remus had his hands dug in his trouser pockets and kicked broodingly at a rock.
I don’t like feeling so helpless. I’d like to latch onto Fred and George and see what they’re up to with that transmitter. Perhaps I’ll visit them later today….
Then he smiled. By now he could well recognize the approach of his wife behind him before she even spoke.
She slipped his arms around him, and through his long-sleeved, threadbare shirt and shabby vest, he felt her press her warm cheek against his back.
“Darling, what is it?” she murmured. “You can tell me.”
“I think I’m going to pay Fred and George a visit this afternoon. I want to get this transmitter technology business squared away. We can hatch a plan, an objective and present it at the upcoming meeting tomorrow.”
“Patrolling Muggle dwellings not enough for you? Not enough direct involvement with the masterwork of bringing down You-Know-Who?”
Remus turned in Nymphadora’s arms and slipped his around her in turn, looking into her shaded indigo eyes set in her grinning, elfin, heart-shaped face. “And you’re nosy,” he teased.
“I prefer curious,” she said, teasing back.
“Well, you’re right, I do hate feeling useless.”
“At least you’re not tied down by a tiny blueberry growing inside you.”
“Is that how you feel about it?” Remus asked, furrowing his brow. “That being pregnant ties you down? I never got that impression from you before.”
Nymphadora’s eyes went round. “No! Of course I don’t feel that way! I’m ecstatic to have the baby, I just…hate being left out of the thick of things.” She cast her eyes down. “That came out wrong, didn’t it?”
Remus stroked back a few locks of her pink hair. “Does this mean you’re going to be one of those mothers who absolutely adores their children one minute and then can’t stand them the next because they love them too much?”
“Because they get on my nerves, more like.” Nymphadora managed a kind of wistful smile. “I mean apart from the idea of it, and satisfying the cravings for olives and chocolate, what joy has there been in it? Nausea, vomiting, bloating—need I go on?”
“No, not really.”
“And then there’s the labor, which my mother had a good time preparing me for with horror stories from her own experience.”
Part of this has to be the hormones talking, Remus decided, and he kissed his wife’s forehead. “You do realize this is probably all going to pale in comparison to that wonderful moment when you first hold the baby, right?”
Nymphadora gave a raise of the eyebrow that clearly said, “Who’s the pregnant woman here, you or me?” but she said nothing.
“Just hold that image in your mind, okay? I know I’m going to.”
It seemed the notion of Remus holding their little newborn-to-be pleased her, because the happy grin came back, only to be replaced entirely by a desolate look of apprehension.
“Dora, what is it?” Remus tilted her chin up to make her look at him.
Nymphadora’s eyes grew a little brighter, and she gripped onto him a little more tightly.
“What if you don’t even live to see it born?”
Remus never liked leaving Nymphadora when she was fretful, and right now she as good as admitted that she frets about him round the clock, and wasn’t truly settled in her mind until he came home to her. Even if she did manage to find ways to distract herself, like shopping for pregnancy clothes with her mother or something, her worry for him, not to mention for her father, was always lurking in the back of her mind.
He was glad though that today in the care of Molly Weasley when he went to go see Fred and George. Molly, he felt, would be good company for her in such a state, because A) she wasn’t her mother, which allowed for some emotional distance from the whole, “father off God knows where” issue, and B) because Molly was more than an expert in that kind of nail-biting torture of waiting for a beloved husband to come home safe, or just…come home at all. It made him think, with some admiration and much compassion for her, of the night when Arthur was attacked by that snake, and what she must have gone through until they knew for sure that he was going to pull through.
“Hello Remus,” said Fred when he opened the door after they exchanged security questions. “Are you all right?” he asked as Remus entered the little flat over the joke shop (which was unfortunately quite dismally near-empty today).
He realized that his rumination concerning his wife’s anxiety must’ve shone on his face. He managed a smile. “I’m fine.”
“Better. Worried about her father of course, but she’s strong.”
Fred returned Remus’ smile.
In the sitting room, George was fiddling with what appeared to be a prototype of the transmitter next to him on the coffee table. He looked up when Remus and Fred entered.
“Hello Remus,” he said. “Come to see what we’ve been tinkering with, eh?”
“More or less,” said Remus. “I’m wondering if you have in mind what I think you have in mind.”
“Besides a way to give Harry’s campaign a lift?” George raised his eyebrows, his grin widening in that manic way that he and his twin would when they got a wild idea brewing.
Remus chuckled. “Campaign? I don’t think Harry sees it as a campaign.”
“Well, he should, that’ll give it more power,” said Fred, bustling around in the little kitchen. “Cup of tea, Remus?”
“Please.” Remus sat down in the chair next to the sofa, where George sat hunched over the brass cogs and springs with a sorcerous screwdriver.
“Where’s Tonks today?” George asked as he twisted a screw into place.
“She’s at the Burrow with your mother,” said Remus. “We visited her for lunch today after she and your father took Ginny to King’s Cross.”
George and Fred shared a look, and Remus knew they were both thinking of their sister, going to Hogwarts all on her own for the first time, and a year too early, just as their mother had observed. Not to mention contending not only with Severus Snape as Headmaster, but also two new staff additions, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, two of the Death Eaters they’d all fought during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, the night Albus Dumbledore died.
Their only comfort was that the teachers would, rather than leave in protest, remain in their posts and do all in their power to protect the students from Voldemort’s emissary behind Albus’ desk and his two lapdogs.
“I asked Tonks if she wanted to come with,” Remus went on, trying to distract the conversation from the dark turn of events at the once safe haven of Hogwarts, “but she said she was feeling a bit tired. It comes and goes.” He tried to sound casual about it, but it all went back to his concern for her and how much stress she was undergoing with her fears for him and for her father coupled with the effects such things had on her pregnancy, even in small ways, even though she was still so early on.
But Fred and George both latched onto this welcome distraction.
“Bill says Mum’d get tired a lot too,” said George. “Dad doesn’t like to talk about it much, but Bill’s got stories—or at least he does about when she was pregnant with Ron and Ginny and he spent half his time trying to keep Charlie, Percy and the two of us in line when Dad wasn’t around. I mean when Ron was born he hadn’t even turned ten yet, I think he was like…nine-and-a-half, or nine-and-three-quarters. It’s still all part of the privilege of being the oldest, I suppose.”
Fred snorted amid the chinking of crockery. “Privilege? A privilege minding someone like Percy?” As he and his twin shared a laugh, he floated the tray of tea things over to the empty space on the coffee table with his wand.
Over tea, Fred and George explained further their plans for this new device based on the transmitter’s technology.
“See, the thing is, we’re getting all of this information from the transmitter that’s the inside of You-Know-Who’s operations,” said George, “but everyone else—apart from being told that Harry is Dumbledore’s murderer and a threat to wizards and witches everywhere, they’re also being forced to swallow that tripe from The Daily Sod-It.”
Remus smiled at how quickly Nymphadora’s mocking moniker for the publication had caught on.
“So,” Fred went on, “if we can build a device that transmits recorded information from our little ‘bugs’ through to the speakers, why not use that same transmitting technology the other way around, and we build our own wireless studio?”
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Remus asked, his heart thudding a little faster.
Fred and George both grinned, and together they summed it up in two simple words: “Radio program.”
“I see.” Remus set his teacup down on its saucer. “An underground wireless station, is it? And I trust you’ve thought about security measures as well?”
“We were thinking,” answered George, “there needs to be a kind of password that only listeners know. It’ll probably change every time we broadcast, and at the end of each we’ll give the password for the next time we go on air. We haven’t worked out the details yet.”
“Well I’m all for it,” said Remus with sincere enthusiasm, allowing himself a moment to relish in the thought of Voldemort’s day-to-day toadies doing their utmost to go on spoon-feeding their lies to the wizarding populace of Britain and Ireland, only to be thwarted simply because everyone would know the truth.
Then he went on, more soberly: “You may have trouble convincing other members of the Order to climb on board.”
“But this is what it’s all about!” said Fred, gesturing almost wildly to the transmitter and the broadcaster-in-progress. “Resistance, arming people with the truth, standing behind Harry, and Ron and Hermione too. Protecting them. You said it yourself, You-Know-Who’s trying to turn them against Harry, and if we give them the truth, he’s got a better chance of taking on You-Know-Who himself, because we’re giving him what he can’t get back himself, and that’s support. We could even name the program in his honor. It’ll be the rallying point everyone was hoping for!”
“But that’s just it,” said Remus, with a kind of sad smile. “Voldemort is turning people against him, people who would’ve gladly done what they could to help him.”
“Not everyone’s stupid though, Remus,” said George.
“We certainly aren’t,” said Fred, with some measure of self-satisfaction.
“Yes, but even then, there’s the problem of fear,” Remus pointed out grimly. “Voldemort’s power is based on fear, and fear is a powerful weapon, don’t you ever underestimate it. It can make even decent people do terrible things,” and for a moment he thought of Wormtail and of what he had allowed fear to do to him.
Though he saw the twins’ morale sinking, he had to finish making his point, dreadful as it was.
“But it’ll be the truth everyone’s hungry for,” Fred stubbornly tried again.
Remus shook his head. “But Fred, with this paralyzing weapon of fear, who among the common people will be truly brave enough to listen?”
As it happened though, the events of the following day would in fact aid Remus and the twins in their bid to get this radio program off the ground with the Order’s support behind it.
Since it was a Monday, the Order meeting was to be held after Ministry hours so that Arthur, Bill, and Kingsley would be there in time to join them, as well as Denise, who had been inducted officially into the Order via Kingsley’s excellent recommendation, not to mention the fact that their relationship was now, for all intents and purposes, “public”.
The trouble began when the time for Arthur, Bill Kingsley, and Denise to arrive came and went, and so the start of the meeting was put off. Molly began wringing her hands almost automatically, and Fleur tried to encourage her to put her anxiety out of her mind until they knew what was going on by helping her bake a treacle tart in the kitchen for everyone as they waited. The others meanwhile gathered in the sitting room, and Remus himself suggested they nurse a few drinks, save for poor Nymphadora, who had to content herself with pumpkin juice.
Remus slid his hand in hers and rubbed his thumb soothingly over the back of it. “Please darling, you’ve got calm yourself. Even though it’s not that big yet, this still isn’t good for the baby,” he told her in a consoling undertone (so as not to alarm the others, or Molly and Fleur in the kitchen for that matter). None of the fears you’re harboring are good for the baby, but what am I to do when even I can’t chase them away entirely?
Nymphadora leaned her cheek against his shoulder, her solace after making it through another day waiting for him to come back safe from patrol.
“Sweetheart, nothing of any significance has even happened yet on these patrols….”
“But that’s what scares me. I mean it keeps me on tenterhooks….”
“I know, it puts me on my guard too darling….”
“And now this business? What if something else has gone wrong at the Ministry…? A failed uprising maybe…?”
“Shhhhh.” Remus kissed his wife’s hair. “We’d know if there was going to be: Arthur, King, Bill, and Denise all keep their eyes and ears well open, and if they were themselves directly involved, we’d know about that for certain….”
“Well what if Arthur said something damning…you know? Unable to help himself…?”
“Arthur’s smart, he’s got plenty of tact. He knows when to stand and when to play it safe. And when to apply a secure mixture of the two.”
Just when Molly and Fleur came in to announce that the treacle tart was finished, there came a rapping at the back door. The tension in the room was unleashed in full force as everyone stood at attention, ready for anything. Molly approached the door and with a shaking voice exchanged the security questions with Arthur on the other side, and when the door opened and he, Kingsley, Bill, and Denise stepped inside, it seemed to take all of Molly’s self-control to keep herself from flinging her arms around her husband and son and hugging them as if she’d never let go.
Fleur on the other hand was unbridled in her relief and she flung her arms around Bill’s neck and held him tight. Bill laughed while Molly remained content with a more reserved kiss with Arthur, who on the whole appeared not as if he’d blown in from a blustered day at the Ministry, but rather seemed in better spirits than he had been in days.
Kingsley too was beaming, as was Denise, as the two of them followed them inside arm-in-arm and helped Arthur and Bill replace the wards when the door was closed behind them.
“We’ve got news! Great news!” Arthur announced to the sitting room at large.
The atmosphere in the room was recharged with a renewed energy, a positive one, one that would make the treacle tart Molly and Fleur had made all the more delicious.
And it did. And as they all tucked into it around the kitchen table, Arthur, Bill, Kingsley, and Denise imparted to them the “great news”.
“Today—earlier—Harry, Ron, Hermione were sighted in the Ministry,” Arthur told them. “Barely escaped by the skin of their teeth I hear, Yaxley was on their tail—”
Molly nearly choked on her treacle tart; her hand flew to her chest, and blinking and catching her breath, she gasped: “Arthur! Why on earth are you calling this great news?!”
The others around the table shared her shock, though also Arthur, Bill, Kingsley, and Denise’s celebration of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s evasion of the jaws of capture.
“Well they escaped didn’t they?” Arthur reasoned after another swallow of tart.
“That was our youngest son! And Harry! And Hermione! How can you be so—?”
“What were they doing trying to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, Arthur?” asked Remus.
“Can’t say,” said Arthur.
“But they managed to liberate all of the Muggle-borns that were brought in that day for questioning,” said Kingsley. “That’s a noble feat in and of itself.”
“And the mess Yaxley and his lot found themselves in,” laughed Bill. “That’s why we were hung up, we were all being forced to pitch in putting things back in order.”
“And they found Miss-High-And-Mighty-of-the-Muggle-born-Registration-Commission’s office riffled through,” Denise reported, referring of course to Dolores Umbridge. “And she herself was Stunned in the courtrooms. Apparently she was in the middle of interrogating Reginald Cattermole’s wife when they struck. They were among those running after Harry, Ron, and Hermione when they made the final break for it.”
“Well I certainly hope they and their children got out alright,” said Molly now that she’d recovered some.
“They did, thankfully, but there were some people who were claiming that they could see two Reg Cattermoles,” said Arthur. “As they were escaping, there was a Reg Cattermole who came back after going home sick for the morning. Gave Mrs. Cattermole quite a turn.”
“And they found Albert Runcorn and Mafalda Hopkirk unconscious in an abandoned theater around the corner from the entrance to the Ministry,” said Bill.
“Which means, after I gave it some thought,” said Arthur slowly, swallowing the last of his tart and pushing away his plate, “that when Runcorn—when I called him out for turning Dirk Creswell in for forging his family tree—when he told me, that our family’s being tracked, it wasn’t a threat: it was Harry trying to warn me.”
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