Chapter 53 : The Camping Trip
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The Camping Trip
The rest of the Victory Day weekend passed with lots of laughter and tears as they remembered people they had lost. Molly had a Victory Day dinner at the Burrow, same as last year, and everyone was invited to it, including the Lupins and Malfoys. She actually had the dinner on the Sunday, which was the day after Victory Day, because on the actual day she was busy planning Beth and George's wedding, and Arthur and the boys had persuaded her to wait and not do too much on the same day, and so she just visited the graveyard and put flowers on Fred's grave along with Arthur, George, Beth, and Ron. Hermione was nursing a bad chest cold and stayed home with Rose and Harry, Ginny, Severus, and Indigo came with a potted mum and a box of spinning fake flowers that sparkled.
Harry was just as glad that the big dinner was tomorrow, after that day's fiasco with Severus he wasn't up to a big family get-together and neither was Ginny. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he thought something was bothering his wife. She had been unusually moody and fractious ever since Severus had adopted Shadow, but Harry was sure the familiar wasn't the cause. It had started then, but even beforehand, she had started losing patience with little things. They had taken some three weeks leave after Easter so she could spend more time with Indi and then there had been Celia to deal with. Harry wondered if that had been what had set Ginny off, but then shook his head. No, Ginny had loved Celia, but still . . .could Severus be right? Could she be expecting again? It was a bit soon, but . . . she was Molly's daughter and Molly could attest to the Weasley fertility.
Once the kids were asleep that night, Harry snuggled next to Ginny in their bed and said teasingly, "So . . . are you sure you're not going to surprise me nine months later?"
Ginny stared at him, her face heating. "Harry! If you're asking what I think you are . . . the answer is no. Indi's only a few months old and I just got my monthly. I'm not some . . . baby making machine, you know. And I've been taking a contraceptive potion since Indi's not nursing."
"Oh. All right. I just thought I'd ask since . . ." he halted, not sure if he wanted to mention the mood swings right now.
"Since what?" Ginny demanded, one eyebrow raised.
"Since you've been so moody lately," Harry finished reluctantly. The last thing he wanted was an argument, but she had asked.
"Harry, what are you talking about?"
"Well , I've noticed ever since Shadow came that you've been short with Sev and even with me and Alby. I was just wondering if there's something wrong." He went to rub the back of her neck, which felt very tense.
She shrugged off the gesture. "I'm fine, Harry! Sometimes I just lose my temper, all right? That's all. It happens to everyone, especially when you've got two active boys and a little baby to take care of, plus you're going back to work in a few days." Her eyes snapped at him.
"Maybe you should take some more time off. It's not like you can't afford it."
She swiped some hair out of her face. "That's not the point, Harry. I still have class, my students need me. Especially the firsties. And now I've started coaching for the Quidditch teams too, so I can't afford to take anymore time off. Besides, I'm fine. Flying always relaxes me."
"All right, never mind. I just thought . . ."
"Stop thinking. And go to sleep," she whispered, then kissed him lightly on the mouth. "Night, lover mine." Then she snuggled down into the comforter and closed her eyes.
Harry did the same, wondering if there really was something to be concerned about. Maybe he was making a mountain out of a molehill.
The next day, at the party, Harry found himself cornered by Remus as he sat down with his plate of food at one of the picnic tables set out on the lawn. "Hey," he greeted the werewolf. "How have things been going with you?" It had been awhile since they'd gotten together, since Remus had been at Hogwarts teaching while Harry had been home.
"Pretty good. Dora has decided to run again for Head of the MLE, and she's been campaigning pretty hard, so we don't see too much of her these days. The kids miss her, even though they're in school most of the time. Teddy's started getting top marks in Charms, and Jamie won an award for the most creative project in Miss Patil's class last week. He made a balloon that changed colors and could turn itself into a dog."
"All by himself?"
"No, not exactly. He got the idea from Beth and her animal balloons and I think George helped him a little by tweaking the spell on it, but it was still pretty impressive for a seven-year-old." Remus said proudly.
"How about Sirius?"
"Oh, Sirius is doing as well as ever at school. He's smart, but I have to keep on top of him to do his homework or else he forgets. Like he used to do at Hogwarts," Remus answered. He smiled reminiscently. Then his smile faded. "Harry, yesterday was May 2nd . . . when Siri and Severus came back from the Veil, as well as the war's end. Was . . . Did Severus happen to have strange dreams last night?"
"No, but he was moody and depressed all day," Harry said, then told Remus what had occurred with Severus, Ginny, and himself. "What happened?"
"Well, I was grading some tests in the evening after supper, like I always do. Teddy and Jamie were playing a boardgame, and Dora was at a meeting. Siri fell asleep on the couch reading some joke magazine and I went to put him to bed. Next thing I knew, he was wide awake and staring at me, but his eyes weren't focused. Then he started yelling about Bella and thrashing around, like he was trying to fight her all over again. I put him on the bed and he jumped up and shouted something that sounded like "Not Harry!" and I swear if he'd had a wand, he'd have used it. I figured he was dreaming about that last battle at the Ministry, you know the one I'm talking about—"
"Yes. The one in the Department of Mysteries," Harry said softly. "It was my fault he died."
"No, it wasn't," Remus said automatically. He'd been telling Harry the same thing ever since they had Sirius' funeral. "It was Sirius' choice to go to the Ministry after you, Harry. I've told you that before. Despite Dumbledore's orders, he went there to try and save you. It was also his choice to fight Bellatrix and no one else's."
"But if I had listened to Severus and Occluded my mind, or ignored my dreams, the prophecy wouldn't have been broken," Harry protested weakly.
"Harry, there's no sense in crying 'what if'," Remus said, laying a hand on his shoulder. "What's done is done. And the past is over. You can't undo it. Feeling guilty about it won't change it and will just make you miserable. Sirius knows that."
"You've had this conversation with him?"
"Yes, right after he woke from that dream state. At first he didn't know where he was, and was all confused. I had to sit down with him and remind him that he was safe in his own room at school and then he remembered. He told me he'd been dreaming about that last battle, and he said he was stupid for letting Bella distract him with her taunts, that he wasn't prepared like he should have been for that fight. He'd lost his killer instinct, he said, from being shut away so long in Azkaban."
"That's not true!" Harry objected. "Well . . . Bella was crazy, it's always hard to outthink a crazy person. You never know which way they'll jump."
Remus nodded slowly. "Yes, that's so. Even so, Siri blamed himself. He said it was his own fault that he died and left you alone to deal with everything."
"What did you tell him?" Harry asked curiously. Psych sessions with Lupin. Who'd have thought it?
"I told him that sometimes we don't get a choice with how things work out. That maybe he was meant to die at that time and well . . ." Remus looked awkward for a moment. "I really believe that, you know. I know it's strange, but what can I say?"
"Maybe you're right," Harry allowed. "After all, Somebody up there decided to let Sev, Siri, and Lily come back again. To have a second chance. How was he after that?"
"He calmed down some and let me tuck him into bed with some warm milk with honey," Lupin related, thinking, if he were older it would have been a shot of Firkin's. And Dora would never have needed to know about it. "I held his hand until he fell asleep again. And he slept all night and was fine this morning. Kids bounce back pretty quickly from tragedies, don't they?"
"Mmm . . ." was all Harry said. If they let themselves be kids, he thought, thinking of Severus, who was now playing happily with Lily, Cory, and Vickie. He hoped that now Severus would be willing to let the past go and try and have a happy childhood.
He bit into his hamburger, chewed for a moment, swallowed, then said, "Remus, you've been married longer than I have. Did you ever notice a time when Dora all of a sudden got really irritable and snappish?"
"Irritable and snappish? Sure, when she was having Jamie. Teddy too, though I wasn't there too much for that pregnancy. Not something I'm proud of, but . . . there you go. Why?"
"It's Ginny. Remember when I told you she's been really moody lately? Has no patience with Sev or Alby? It's got me worried. But when I asked her if she's pregnant again, she denied it. Said there was no way."
"And you don't believe that?"
"No, I do, but . . . what else could make someone get so crabby all of a sudden?"
"Hormones, of course," offered Astoria, sitting down on Harry's other side. "Hello! Couldn't help but overhear that last part, Harry. You and Ginny having some problems?"
"Uh . . ." Harry blushed slightly. "Well . . ."
"Come on, hero. You can tell me, I won't spill my guts." Astoria encouraged. "Draco claims I keep secrets till I die." She folded her hands in her lap. "So, tell me all your juicy little secrets."
"They're hardly that," Harry laughed. "Or really secret either. But . . . here goes nothing." He related the Ginny incidents again.
Astoria looked thoughtful. "Hmm . . . sounds like hormones to me."
"But I thought hormones were when you're pregnant," Harry exclaimed.
"Hon, a woman's got hormones 24/7," Astoria giggled. "Look, I know it's hard for a guy to understand, but trust me . . . hormones don't go away after the baby's born. They're always there, and sometimes they can get a woman into a lot of trouble. I think Ginny's suffering from depression."
"Depression? Like you were when . . ." Harry trailed off, not wanting to be insensitive.
"Yes, but not exactly," Astoria said quietly. "Sometimes after she has a baby, even if everything's fine with it and her physically, a woman can suffer something Healers call post-partum depression. It can happen even months after the baby's birth."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked, looking alarmed.
"I've never heard of that," Remus began.
"That's because you're a guy, Lupin. Most men don't know anything about female problems. Unless they're Healers of some kind, and even then, some of them are dense as posts," Astoria snorted.
"I hope you don't me. Although lately I've felt a little dense," Harry said sheepishly.
"No. Once you've been pointed in the right direction, you're sharp as a tack," Astoria laughed. "Like Lily."
"I have to get it from somewhere," Harry chuckled. "So you think that's what she has? What do I do about it?"
"Well, there are potions a Healer can prescribe for it," Astoria answered. "But first you're going to have one see her and diagnose it. That should help things."
"Oh. Maybe I'll talk to her about it. Or . . . you can, Tori," Harry suggested. "She'd listen to you better than me."
"All right, hero. I'll do it. But only for you."
"Hey. I thought that was a line you only used on your husband," Draco said, coming up with a plate behind her.
Astoria smirked. "You snooze you lose, Dragonbreath."
"Dragonbreath?" Remus repeated, almost doubled over with laughter.
"It's . . . her pet name for me," Draco said with gritted teeth. "Thought you agreed not call me that outside of our bedroom, dear?"
"So I forgot. So sue me," Astoria retorted.
Draco plopped down on the bench next to her and drawled, "Nah. That costs too much money. I'll find some other way of evening the score."
"You always do, love."
Harry busied himself eating his dinner, anything to hide the blush slowly creeping up his face. He just prayed Astoria was right and could convince Ginny to get help.
On the other side of the yard, the children played. Sirius, Alby, Jamie, and Frankie flew brooms and Lily, Sev, Teddy, Cory, and Vickie played school, with Severus being the professor and the others his students. They were having potions class, because that was the thing Severus could teach the best, and were gathering lavender, chamomile, and valerian from Molly's herb garden to make a Sweet Dreams Draft. That was similar to a Sleeping Draught, but an added advantage to it was it brought a restful sleep with pleasant dreams and was easy to make besides. Severus recalled learning how to make it when he wasn't much older than Jamie with Eileen.
After they had all gathered the ingredients, Severus divided them up, they only had two cauldrons, after all, and Teddy worked with Lily while Cory and Vickie worked together. As the brew began to steep, it emitted a soft soothing fragrance, and they all agreed it was good. Cory watched the Lupin boys, Alby, and Frankie as they flew and said softly, "Once we're done with this, maybe we can fly too."
Teddy was agreeable, but Severus, Lily, and Vickie didn't like that idea much. "I don't want to fly right now. What if we did something else?" Vickie said nervously, twirling the end of her hair.
"Like what?" asked Teddy.
"I don't know." She shrugged.
"Maybe we could tell stories. Or play camp out," Lily suggested. She looked at Severus. "Remember, Sev? We used to play that in my backyard. When we still had our other parents."
Severus was startled. He had almost forgotten that little detail. But Lily was right. Even though she only had her memories up until fifteen, she still remembered odd bits of their previous childhood together. "I remember," he said quietly. He could recall Mr. Evans setting up a green pup tent in the backyard and making a small fire so they could roast marshmallows and small wieners on it, or toast grilled cheese on sticks. They had slept under the stars and weren't afraid . . . except if there were thunderstorms.
"That sounds cool. Once my dad took us on a camping trip," Teddy said.
"He did? I don't remember that," Jamie stated, landing beside his brother.
"You were little, just walking," Teddy replied. "But I remember it. We went fishing, went on a nature walk, and cooked over the camp fire."
"Where was it?" asked Cory.
"In the woods somewhere. Near a lake," Teddy answered.
"Maybe we could do it again," Sirius said eagerly.
"We'd have to ask Dad," said Teddy. "And it would have to be after school ends. While we're on vacation."
"I'll ask my dad too," Lily said happily. "What about you, Sev?"
Severus bit his lip. "It sounds good, but I don't know. Harry will probably be fine with it, but I don't know about Ginny. She's been really irritated lately."
"Yeah, Sevvy's right. Mum's like a big ole crab now," Alby agreed.
"But if it's all right, we could do like Teddy said," Vickie suggested.
"You wouldn't mind camping out?" Sirius asked, surprised. "Thought you were afraid of everything."
Vickie scowled. "Not everything, Sirius. Just some things."
"Why's Ginny been grumpy?" Lily asked Severus.
"I have no idea," Severus replied. "All I know is that yesterday she was like a bear, growling and snapping at me. I wanted to be left alone and I thought . . ." Here he leaned over and whispered something in Lily's ear.
Lily's eyes widened. "Oh! Oh, Sev, that's awful! You should have written it to me, in the diary."
"I was too upset to write anything," he admitted softly. "And she made it worse when she threatened to . . . spank me."
Lily's eyes flashed. " 'Cause you were upset? That's mean! If she'd done that, I would have . . . I would have Flooed over and . . . hexed her bum right off!"
"Lily!" Cory gasped. "You can't hex anybody. You don't even have a wand."
Lily shrugged. "I might not have a wand, but I know how to do magic. I remember a few spells from a long time ago and I could probably do them. If I got mad enough," she added.
"You do? Like what?" Sirius asked, his eyes wide. He remembered some magic from his old life too, but wasn't aware Lily did as well.
"Um . . . just some charms and transfiguration spells. And some potions," Lily said. She didn't want to admit that the spells were all jumbled in her head and she would need to concentrate very hard to recall them. But when she got angry, she concentrated very well.
"You don't have to do that, Lily. I'm fine," Severus said quickly. While he appreciated the gesture, he didn't want Lily to get in trouble hexing Ginny, and anyhow Ginny had apologized to him, so it was over. "What's done is done. I'll ask Harry about doing the camping trip."
"It would be so cool if we could do it all together," Vickie grinned.
"It wouldn't be like the last time, would it, Sevvy? With the centaurs?" Alby asked fearfully.
"No," his big brother answered. "This time we wouldn't be in the Forbidden Forest, Al. And we'd be with Harry and Draco, Remus, and Bill too. We'd be safe."
"Wouldn't our mums come too?" asked Jamie. "Well, not mine, cause she's always busy, but . . ."
"Mine can't 'cause who's gonna watch Indi?" Alby said.
"Mine hates bugs and stuff," Cory replied.
"So does mine," said Vickie.
"Mine don't," Frankie added. "So she might come."
"We can figure everything out later," Severus said. "For now, let's finish our potions and then we can get something to eat."
"You sure are bossy, Snape," Sirius said. "Just like a real professor."
Severus glared at him. "Very funny, Black. Very funny."
The kids tried to discuss the camping idea with their fathers, but they were so busy talking and reminiscing that they barely paid attention. Severus suspected it was best to wait until later to talk to Harry, and spent the rest of the time at the Burrow playing Exploding Snap with Lily, Cory, and Vickie.
Harry waited until they arrived home, had bathed and put the kids to sleep before approaching Ginny about Astoria's theory. They were finally alone, curled up together in bed, when he said softly, "Gin? You ever wonder about what's eating you lately?"
She blinked and looked at him. "Huh?"
"I'm talking about your mood swings. The ones you pretend you don't have."
"Harry, will you stop? I'm not moody!"
"Oh, yes you are!" he declared triumphantly, with a look that made her want to slap him. "Look at how you're reacting to my simple question."
"That's because you're being ridiculous!"
"Am I? Then why are you getting mad at me?"
"Because you're infuriating!" She made as if to turn away on her side, but he caught her and held her.
"No, because you're overreacting," he said, using his most persuasive tones. "I think you need to see a Healer."
"A Healer? What for? I'm perfectly healthy!"
"Your body is. But I think you have a . . . umm . . . how did Tori put it? Oh, a hormonal imbalance. From having Indi."
"I'm not crazy, Harry Potter!" she growled. "And how dare you talk about me behind my back?"
"Hey! Don't scream at me, Ginevra!" he snapped back. "This is what I'm talking about. I can't even have a decent conversation any more without you flying off the handle. Just so you know, I asked Tori a few things because I was concerned about you, not trying to start gossip."
"Oh really? And what did she have to say?"
Harry ignored her sarcastic tone. "She said she thinks you've got post partum depression. But she's not a Healer and only a Healer would know for sure."
Ginny gulped. She had been feeling odd lately, but she had put it down to the stress of having a new baby. "I'm . . . not depressed. I'm not crying all the time or anything," she blustered. At least not where anyone could see.
"It's not like that, Gin. You've been so tempermental. The boys are . . . well, they're nervous around you. You're scaring them."
"What do you mean, I'm scaring them?"
"The way you go off, I think they don't know what to expect. And they think—especially Sevvy thinks you might . . . hit them over nothing."
"I've never done that!"
"I know, but remember what Sevvy grew up with, Gin. An abusive violent father. Tobias Snape."
"I'm not a drunk, Harry!" Ginny cried, hurt and angry. "I'd never deliberately hurt someone like that!"
"I know that . . . but Sevvy doesn't. It takes time and right now . . . he's nervous around you. Hell, even Alby's nervous." Harry said softly. "I'm sorry, Gin, but you just don't realize how you're acting. Won't you please make an appointment with Healer Devon?"
"And then what? He's going to make it better?"
"At least he can tell you if anything's the matter."
"There isn't! Just . . . leave me alone, Harry!" Ginny cried. His insulation that she wasn't a good mother rankled, and she grabbed her pillow and started from the room.
"Where are you going?"
"To sleep on the couch!" she growled. "Good night, Mr. Potter!"
He winced as the door slammed. Merlin, that had gone over well, he thought ruefully.
The next morning they still weren't speaking to each other, and each got themselves ready for class and the kids ready for school and tutoring in silence. Severus wondered what happened, but didn't dare ask. He didn't want his head bitten off. Alby asked Harry blithely about the camping trip and received a "we'll see" in return.
Harry brought Severus and Lily to Filius for their tutoring session and Ginny brought Alby to Miss Patil's class. Then they separated for their respective teaching duties at Hogwarts. By the day's end, each family member was exhausted and tired. They ate in the hall, then went back to their quarters and went to bed. Nothing more was said about the camping trip or Ginny's post partum depression.
Things were strained in the Potter household for the rest of the term, which went till the first week of June. Due to McGonagall's revamping of the old curriculum, they'd managed to shave a few weeks off it, and so the students now could get out early in June rather than later. It was a relief when finals were done, graded, and handed in.
Harry bid farewell to his students and friends and hoped the summer holidays would be better. Ginny still hadn't sought help for her problem, and Harry didn't know how to get her to do so, the stubborn witch! Finally, he decided to mention it to Molly, figuring she, if anyone, might be able to coax Ginny into seeing a Healer. He arranged a time soon after the summer holidays had started for Ginny to stay a week at the Burrow. During that time, he decided to take up Alby's suggestion of a camping trip.
He talked with Remus, Draco, Neville, Bill, and Ron.
Ron couldn't go, since Hermione was very close to her delivery date and he wouldn't let Rose go without him. Bill couldn't go either, as Vickie was sick with the flu. So it was just Neville, Draco, and Remus with Harry.
Remus told them where his favorite camping spot was, up near a small lake several miles from the Scottish border. There were plenty of woods and a good fishing spot. As predicted, none of the wives wanted to come, not even Luna, who was busy working on a new edition of The Quibbler. So it was just the fathers and their children.
Harry bid goodbye to Ginny and Indi on a bright sunny Monday morning, and Flooed to Remus' house. They would all meet there and use a Portkey to get to the camping spot. All the kids were excited, practically vibrating in place, especially Jamie and Sirius, who often behaved as if they had ants in their pants.
"Or ADHD," whispered Severus to Lily.
Lily just laughed. She was glad she was going camping with her best friend.
Each father brought his own supplies and food, they would later combine them.
When they finally reached the spot, everyone quickly pitched their tents, put their trunks away, and gathered around the firepit to discuss what to do next.
It was decided that fishing was the first order of business, and Remus said he would see about renting a boat or three and left while everyone else gathered up their fishing gear.
Once Remus had secured the boats, one for him, one for Draco, and one for Harry and Neville, then they began to fish.
At first, no one had a bite.
Then Severus felt a tug on his line. He began to reel it in, and soon had a fine bass flopping on the end of his pole. "I got one!"
"Good job, Sev!" Harry praised, and took the fish off and put it in the magical cold water bag they carried. Then Severus rebaited his hook and cast again.
The next fish belonged to Jamie, then Lily caught one. Cory caught a huge one, and so did everyone else except Neville, who only caught some lake weed.
But they all had a good time and headed back to camp to clean and fry the fish for dinner.
Along with the fresh fish they had flatbread cakes and some salad. For a treat they had marshmallows and Fizzing Whizzbees. They all took turns roasting the marshmallows, then Remus told them some spine-tingling stories until the moon came out and it was time for bed.
Harry groaned when his bed was invaded by two small bodies as Albus and Severus crawled into his bedroll, complaining of nightmares. I'm going to kill that werewolf! He thought, disgruntled. But then he fell asleep and didn't wake up until morning, when he smelled hot tea boiling, and Neville cooking bacon, pancakes, and eggs over the fire.
The next four days were quite pleasant, with each father taking a turn at doing something fun. Neville headed up a nature walk, using his Herbology skills to introduce new plants and roots to the children and gathering edible roots, seeds, and nuts to eat. He also pointed out animals to them. Remus rowed them around the boats in the lake and fished some more with them. Draco brewed potions with them and also helped them build little houses with sticks. Harry flew with them and hunted for special rocks, feathers, and other small treasures in the woods with them.
All in all, everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, even down to singing silly songs and playing games around the fire after dinner.
It was why they were so unprepared when it happened.
Late on the fifth day, Remus took Cory over to the bathrooms near the camp service station, about a quarter mile from their campsite. Draco accompanied him to buy more treats at the small store, as they were running low and he didn't want to hear little kids complaining. Which left Neville and Harry alone at the campsite with the kids for a while.
Frankie was tired and said she was going to take a nap. Teddy wanted to draw some deer he'd seen at the far end of the trees. That was when Sirius, Jamie, Severus, Lily, and Alby asked if they could go play near the edge of the woods.
"All right, but stay where we can see you," Harry agreed.
Some ten minutes later, Alby and Jamie limped into camp, crying that they'd fallen down and bruised their knees and elbows on the rocky ground. Harry took them into his tent to fix them up. Neville was outside, examining a plant he'd found, trying to identify it.
That was when he heard the screaming begin.
Jerking up, he looked over to where the children were.
To his horror, he saw a cloud of hornets chasing them into the trees.
"Oh, dear sweet Merlin!" he cried. "Hang on, kids! I'm coming!"
He Apparated over to where the hornet cloud was, a spell of dispersment on his lips, only to see three tall figures wearing the masks and robes of Death Eaters appear out of the trees. Without a sound, they ran forward and snatched up Lily, Sirius, and Severus.
Before Neville could so much as cast a spell, they had vanished and so had the three UnVeiled children.
A/N: I hope this satisfies some of the questions reviewrs asked last chapter. Please note, at the beginning of this tale, jlbrew27, whos story this originally was, had Sirius die on May 2nd as well as Severus, though at a different year. He did this so they both could come back at the same time, so I'm sticking to it. Since this is AU, it makes no real difference. Also, he had them leave school early and so I came up with a reason for it.
Also, if some people are getting bored with this story and it's pacing, might I remind them that this story is not an adventure story, like Prince Manor or Broken Wings, but rather a family relationship story. If you're looking for something else, like romance between Sev and Lily, read Irresistible Chemistry or But For A Dog, since this story is meant to be a story of new beginnings and childhood, and I may end this once they are at Hogwarts and continue with a sequel. If this bothers you, don't read.
Thanks for all the reviews and reads from my loyal reviewers though!
Next: In the hands of Death Eaters! What will happen now?
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