Chapter 6 : Rebuilding
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Harry Potter walked down the stairs to the common room where he could already find quite the crowd, standing or sitting down, and talking between themselves. He rapidly located Ron and Hermione on a corner while Ginny and the Weasley’s were on the opposite side. Harry hesitated, but decided to go to his best friends.
The kiss he and Ginny shared in the middle of the night had been heaven on earth for the boy. The feeling of having her back on his arms, safe and sound, was unbelievable. The fact she still loved him was enough for Harry to manage to go back for some more sleep until morning. And indeed, when he finally managed to get off Ginny and got back to the dorm, he slept like a baby. It had been years since he last did that.
“Morning, guys.” He greeted, getting next to Ron and Hermione. They too seemed like they could finally sleep after Merlin knows how many days and had looked like they also took a deserved shower to get off all the War’s dirt.
“Morning, mate.” Ron greeted back.
“Hey.” Hermione said instead. She looked at him from his head to his toes, making Harry furrow a brow in confusion. “May I ask how did you manage to get clean clothes, if my bag was with me during the night?”
“Oh.” Harry only said, glimpsing behind him and discreetly smiling at Ginny who also caught his eye. “I had some help.” Mione didn't seem very happy with the answer, so he took a deep breath and carried on. “I woke up in the middle of night and went to take a bath and only too late I remembered you had my clothes. I came down to the common room to try to summon it, but then… hm, Ginny came down and found me there. Well, she was the one to get it for me.”
“And you were naked?” Ron inquired, making Harry immediately roll his eyes.
“I was covered with a towel, Ron, relax.”
“And did you two talk?” Hermione wanted to know.
Harry looked down uncomfortably. Although he and Ginny had a nice redo of their relationship days, they still hadn't talked about where they stood in the moment and, despite loving every bit of Ginny, Harry knew there were more important things to handle right now.
“Not really.” Harry confessed. “There were tears and, hm, a kiss, maybe,” he confessed, turning to Ron with a little smile before looking back to Mione. “But, no talking. And for as much as I love her, I-”
“You what?” Ron interrupted.
Hermione slapped his chest as Harry looked deeply into Ron’s blue eyes. “Yes, Ron I love your sister and that was probably what saved me at the end too, ok? She was the last thing I thought about before being hit by that bloody curse. And despite that, I think I may have some things to think about before I can talk with her about… us. And she just lost Fred.”
Ron lost his words for a moment before nodding and bringing Harry for a tight hug. Hermione was soon brought into the hug too and the Golden Trio just stood there for a moment. It was still weird for them that it was actually over and they could just go back to have a normal life, or as normal as they could.
“What about you two?” Harry asked when they parted the hug with a knowing expression.
“Hm, well,” Hermione started, blushing severely as she exchanged a glance with Ron. “We were thinking about going to Australia. You know, my parents.” She explained further. “We wanted to go as soon as the things got settled.”
Harry stared at them for a second before understanding he wasn't invited to go with them. And before he actually got hurt by that, he was happy. They would need some alone time to work out all those unresolved feelings they had about one another, for years. Harry finally nodded and smiled at his two best friends, but before he could say anything else about it, the common room went completely silent with Minerva McGonagall entering through the portrait hole.
“Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger.” She firstly called. “May I have a word with the three of you in my office before breakfast?”
They only nodded and followed her out of there. Harry even tried to glimpse one last time on Ginny but found her surrounded by her dorm mates while only Percy and George were left, talking between one another.
The four of them walked through Hogwarts in silence. Harry felt his heart punching him in the chest as he analysed how damaged the castle had become. They passed by some people, on the way to the Great Hall, which Minerva commented had been cleared with enough room to serve breakfast to all of those who stayed the night.
Once they steeped into the Headmistress Office, a few people were found, most of them from the Order of the Phoenix (or what was left of it) and a couple of men who looked like from the Ministry. In the room, Harry could find Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Charlie, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Hagrid and also Dumbledore’s painting awake. They all nodded in acknowledged at the three of them.
“Please, do sit down.” Minerva offered them some candy to which only Ron accepted before she too went behind her desk and sat down. “You can imagine why we wanted to speak with you three?”
“Yes, professor.” Hermione confirmed. “But who are those two men?”
“Oh, that’s the Head Auror Robarts and Auror Bennett.” Minerva explained to which both men nodded on a greet. “And the man standing outside is Auror Maxwell.”
“I imagine you kids have some explaining for us, no?” Arthur Weasley interrupted.
“Yes, they do.” Minerva said in her cold and yet calming tone.
“But first we would like to thank the three of you for all you have done.” Kingsley continued for her.
“It’s us who should be thanking you and also apologising.” Harry added, exchanging a sadden glance with Molly, Arthur, Bill and Charlie. “And before the whole thing, how are we going to rebuilt Hogwarts?”
“Are you going to reopen it in September?” Hermione wondered. “I really wanted to come back and finish my seventh year, professor.”
Minerva gave her a not-at-all surprised look before she opened a smile. “I wouldn't expect anything different from you, Miss Granger. Me and the staff have already talked and after the funerals, we will be rebuilding it. We will call for help, of course, but don't worry about that, this summer. The three of you, especially you, Harry, will have other responsibilities to attend.”
“And also,” Head Auror Robarts interrupted. “I don't know what you will want to do, but Kingsley told me about your intentions in becoming Auror.” He was looking at both Harry and Ron. “It would be my pleasure to accept you both next September at the Training Programme.”
“Bloody hell! Are you serious?” Ron gasped, looking to his parents in awe.
“I- I’m honoured, sir.” Harry said, smiling unconsciously. “And I, for one, accept!”
“With that out of the way,” Kingsley started, blinking an eye to both Harry and Ron. “Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?”
Ginny Weasley had just left the Great Hall from lunch, leaving her friends behind for a moment to go for a walk. She had been sitting next to George through the whole meal and although she was a wreck for her brother’s death, George was just unbearable. She wondered where had Harry, Ron and Hermione been ever since Minerva called them to her office.
All around, she could see all the damage the battle had inflicted on the castle and memories from the previous day came running through her eyes and she couldn't help the tears that came with it. She saw her fellow colleagues being cold-bloodedly murdered, she remembered Fred’s body in the middle of the corridor, with George and Percy by his side, trying to figure out what had happened. And when Harry had been brought in on Hagrid’s arms and she thought, for those never ending minutes, that he was dead, she just-
The redhead didn't remember how she ended up on the floor, crying her eyes in some unfamiliar part of the castle. And now, she could feel the warmth from the hug she had been dying to feel again ever since Bill’s and Fleur’s wedding day. Harry was there, sitting next to her and holding her to his chest, making circular movements on her back.
“Harry-” she cried, burying her face even more on his shirt, being able to smell his amazing scent. “It hurts so much.”
“I know.” He only said and with those two words, Ginny knew how much he meant it. He had lost Remus that night, altogether with Tonks, Fred and he witness Snape’s murderer. She wondered if Harry would ever recover from that Battle.
“I’m sorry-” Ginny began but was immediately cut off with a soft kiss. Once they parted, Harry looked down at her with his big green eyes.
“Don’t ever be sorry again, Ginny.” He sternly said, before his expression softened again.
“I love you too.” Ginny managed to say, while he took the liberty to clean some of her tears. “In the train… when you said you loved me… I never said it back.”
“No, I thought I lost you and- and I hadn't told you just how much I love you.” The tears threatened to fall once again.
“Shhh. It’s over.” Harry promised.
They sat there, on the floor, for a little bit more. Harry knew it would take time for either one of them to go back to their old selves, and maybe they would never come to that. They had all changed in that Battle and Harry wanted hard to believe that he changed for the better.
“We should go find the others.” Harry suggested, speaking lowly in her eyes. “Minerva said they would start the funerals tomorrow and we are supposed to be out of the castle by tonight.”
“Oh.” Ginny only said. “And where are you…”
“I’m going to the Burrow for now.” He smiled. “Did you really think your Mum would let me go anywhere else?”
“I guess not.” She tried a little side smile.
“When this is all over, I wanna talk about us, Gin.” Harry suddenly announced. “I know I have somewhat explaining to do of what we’ve been about the last year, and well, I quite liked that kiss last night.”
“I did too.” Ginny laughed, before she took a deep breath and got up the floor. She extended her hand to help Harry up and they both stared at each other before holding hands and walking towards the Gryffindor’s Tower, where they should be packing to finally leave Hogwarts behind.
“I still can’t believe you are leaving for Australia!” Molly Weasley buffed while Hermione closed one of her luggages. No small bag with Undetectable Extendable Charm this time around. She had booked a hotel room in Sydney where she and Ron could sleep and take proper showers and meals, while they searched for her parents. Hermione had had her fare share of poor traveling for a life time. Although... she did try to keep her second thoughts of not getting two rooms nor inviting Harry to come along quiet.
“I’m sorry, Molly.” Hermione said of the thousandth time. “But I have to find my parents. And Ron was nice enough to volunteer to come with. Harry has business in the Ministry that he and Kingsley so kindly took off our backs and Ginny has Quidditch to worry about this summer.”
“Relax, Mum.” Ron tried yet again. “We’ll probably be back in time for Harry’s birthday anyways.”
Molly sighed and left Ginny’s room, where the foursome were at. Harry and Ginny, despite not still having had their ‘talk’, were sat on Ginny’s bed, holding each other, while Hermione finished her last minute packing. Ron insisted he was ready to go.
It had already passed three weeks from the Battle and the funerals had taken two weeks to be completed. Fred’s and the Lupin’s funerals had been one of the firsts to take place and still, almost a month later, the Weasley’s hadn't gotten used to the fact Fred wasn't there anymore, nor did Harry understand that Remus and Tonks wouldn't see Teddy grow up.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with to the Ministry tomorrow?” Harry asked for the hundredth time. Ron and Hermione had a scheduled portkey for the following morning; Kingsley had managed to get it for them for free. It’s the least I could do for you, he had said.
“Harry, there’s no need. Tomorrow you have to get Teddy in Godric’s Hallow.” Hermione remembered him.
Although Andromeda was more than pleased to take care of the baby, that way she didn't have to think about having lost her daughter and son-in-law, Harry insisted on spending as much time as possible with his godson. Since he was spending most of his time in the Ministry or at Grimmauld Place looking out for the renovation, the weekends he reserved for Teddy. And he also found out that taking care of a baby was more difficult than he previously anticipated. But he wasn't one to give up and so, every weekend he would get him on Saturday morning on Mrs. Tonks’s place and give him back on Sunday night. He liked to think he was getting the hang of it (that's more than Hermione, he liked to remember, who actually couldn't figure out how to change a diaper).
“I know.” Harry said. “And I’m actually dreading the fact Mrs. Weasley won’t be home tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here for you.” Ginny remembered. “And I recall last weekend that Teddy very much liked being with me.”
“You’re right.” Harry gave it to her. “I’m actually excited for the renovation to be over at Grimmauld Place. Teddy’s room is turning out to be awesome.”
“I loved the idea of having a room there too.” Ron smiled.
Since Harry had inherited 12, Grimmauld Place from Sirius, he decided it would be a good enough place for himself. After some renovations, of course, as the mansion was so damn cold and dark. Harry hired some people that could do the job (and he even found out that magical architects are actually a thing) and set his mind on turning the house more to his terms. He kept Sirius's room, he choose a room for Teddy, gave another to Ron and Hermione and set up a guest room, not to mention a den for him to work once he becomes an Auror. Mrs. Weasley had been dreading the day he would finally move out from the Burrow, feeling like her own son was leaving her.
Hermione, on the other hand, accepted the Weasley's hospitality and had still no plans for the future. She wanted to go back to Hogwarts, of course, but she too wanted to find her parents first and maybe then go back to her family's place. She just couldn't think about renting or buying an apartment if she wasn't even sure if her parents were ok.
“I think I’m done.” Hermione announced, pointing her wand to the second suitcase and making it close itself. “What about some lemonade?”
Harry looked at his watch. “I’d love to, but I gotta run. I have a meeting with the Head Auror. I really wished we didn't have to have that many meetings to figure stuff out, for crying out loud. You're lucky to have escaped the whole thing.” He added, rolling his eyes. “I’ll see you at dinner.”
Harry placed a soft kiss on Ginny’s head and waved goodbye to Ron and Hermione before leaving the room. They stayed silent for a moment before Ginny made Ron leave the room as well so she could talk with Hermione alone.
“So, how are things with my brother?” Ginny finally asked with a very excited smile.
“Weird.” Hermione confessed. “We haven't really had the time to talk about us, you know.”
“I do. Harry and I still haven't talked yet.”
“Really?” Hermione said in surprise. “For the way you’re together, I would think you had.”
“Well, it’s quite obvious we love each other and want to be together.” Ginny started. “But there are stuff to be cleared about.”
“But this isn't about me and Harry, missy.” Ginny scolded, making Hermione sit in front of her. “Talk.”
Australia wasn’t as hot and sunny as one should expect for the country in June. That was obviously because it was winter there, Hermione had explained that to Ron. But it still didn't make any sense.
Hermione was at the check-in counter, handling the muggle in charge while Ron sat with their suitcases by some sofas. She had insisted they should enlarge them once they got off the Office of the International Arrivals of the Australian Ministry at Sydney airport, so they could blend in. Hermione also insisted they should get a cab and arrive like 'normal' people, instead of simply apparating there. Ron hadn't minded, of course. He was there for her and he knew that the prospective of seeing her parents again was scaring the shit out of Hermione.
"They said if we want separate beds we just have to ask the maid." She suddenly said, arriving next to a distracted Ron, with two card keys in hand.
"What?" Ron instinctually responded. "Oh, I- I don't mind." He admitted, feeling a warm sensation coming up his neck. "Which floor?" He added, getting up and handling his luggage and one of Hermione's. She discretely smiled and pulled her other suitcase.
They arrived at their room within a couple of minutes and their eyes shined at the luxury of it all. After one year running away, it was nice to have some hot water and clean sheets for this mission. Hermione started to unpack immediately while Ron went to window to stare at the beautiful view beneath them.
"We should send Harry a letter." Hermione suddenly announced, in between the bathroom where she had put her stuff and her suitcase on the bed. "He must be worried."
"We should. But I doubt he'll have time to worry about us with Teddy over." Ron laughed, going by Hermione and sitting on the bed next to her bag. She nodded and went back to get her clothes out of the luggage to get it to the wardrobe. Ron furrowed his brows.
"What, Ron?" She wondered while on her back.
"You're nervous." Ron affirmed, rising from the bed and going to her side. She had just placed her clothes on the hangers and froze once she felt his hands on her shoulders. Ron slowly turned her around so she could face him. "We're going to find your parents, Mione. We found all those Horcruxes, I'm sure your parents are going to be easy."
Hermione giggled. "You think I'm nervous about my Mum and Dad?"
"Well, yeah." Ron said, feeling somewhat stupid.
"I'm not. You're right, compared to the Horcruxes, finding a couple of dentists is child's play!" She smiled and stared into his blue eyes, daring to place her hand on his blushed cheeks. "I'm a bit nervous about being here with you, silly." She admitted.
"Oh." Ron only said, not knowing what to say next, but placing his hands on her waist even though. "I'm glad it's just the two of us."
"Me too." She agreed, coming a inch closer to him.
"Hm, Mione?" Ron called and she nodded. "That kiss, on the battle... I really meant that. I- I love you, I really do."
Hermione's grin opened wide. "I love you too, Ronald."
They kept staring at each other for a moment, not sure what they should do next. The whole situation was still very new and strange for them. Taking their time, this time with no worry about being killed in the next moment, nor Harry standing awkwardly in front of them, they closed any distance between them and kissed. It was a soft and caring kiss at first, like they wanted to get to know each other on this new perspective. But soon Hermione opened her month to Ron's pleading tongue. It was magical, like that kiss was supposed to be there all along, bringing them closer together.
Ron and Hermione, for the first time, weren't bickering with each other and that was more than wonderful. Harry certainly will appreciate some non-bickering for a bit.
"Teddy!" Harry called, running after the baby before he fell off his changing station that Mrs. Weasley had arranged in Ron's room. Harry caught Teddy just in time, sighing out of relief once the baby was safely in his arms again. "Are you trying to give me a heart-attack?" Harry added to the baby.
Teddy's big green eyes that he had whenever he was with Harry stared at him and he giggled to his godfather. Harry tried to maintain a stern look, but soon smiled to him and kissed his little head.
"Everything ok in here?" Gunny asked, getting into the room, with a summer dress and a smile. Once she saw Teddy on Harry's arms, her smile grew larger and she went to their side. "Look who's up! Who's the cutest baby? Yes, you are, baby boy!" She added with her baby voice.
"I was thinking about taking him to the lake. What to come with?" Harry asked, his heart melting by the way Ginny was so loving with Teddy.
"Sure. Get Teddy's stuff and I'll ask Mum for some food. She’s still around.” Ginny proposed, kissing Teddy's head and leaving the room.
"You know, Teddy, I'm going to marry that girl one day." Harry told the baby, placing him on his bassinet and starting to pack his baby bag. "And she'll be your godmother." Teddy seemed pleased by the prospective and laughed. "Oh, Merlin, you're laughing!" Harry commemorated.
From outside the room, Ginny heard what Harry had said to Teddy and she couldn't help but smile. They still hadn't talked or anything, but she knew in her heart that all she wanted was to be with Harry. That's what would make her happy. And the fact he wanted her to be Teddy's godmother was... Unbelievable.
"Why the silly smile?" Percy asked from the kitchen table.
"I- what?" Ginny blinked and saw him sitting there with a sandwich in his plate while her mother looked at her from the stove. "What are you doing here, Perce?"
"I came for lunch." He explained. "And you didn't answer my question."
Ginny rolled her eyes to her brother before turning to Molly. "Hey, Mum, could you arrange some food for me and Harry to take to the lake. He's taking Teddy there."
"Oh, of course!" Molly immediately said, picking up a picnic basket from a cabinet and starting to fill it with several types of food and beverage.
"Now I know why the smile." Percy said more to himself, receiving a killing glare of his sister.
"Are you sure you'll be alright with Teddy?" Molly wanted to make sure.
"We'll handle him just fine." Ginny assured her. "He's the sweetest baby I've ever seen. It's adorable how much Harry loves that boy."
"I think he tries his best to be the father Teddy will never meet." Molly opinionated. "And who better to relate to Teddy than Harry?"
"Are you speaking poorly behind my back?" Harry joked, coming into the kitchen with Teddy on one arm and his bag on the other. Teddy's hair turned from black to Weasley red once he saw the three redheads in front of him, getting him some laughs. "I think he likes you better." Harry added.
"He knows from whom the food comes from." Percy put in.
"That's actually very accurate." Harry sadly admitted while he passed Teddy to Mrs. Weasley's pleading hands. The boy giggled at the older lady who threatened to throw him in the air.
“So, you three will be spending some quality time at the lake?” Mrs. Weasley finally asked as she gave Teddy back to Harry and got on with filling a picnic basket will all sorts of food, for both the young adults as some bottles of milk for the baby.
“Just the three of you?” Percy repeated, his eyes on his baby sister.
“Yes, and what’s the problem with that, Perce? Harry asked me to help him with Teddy, that’s all.” Ginny fiercely answered, daring her brother to say another word. He decided to only nod and go back to his meal.
“Well, have fun, you two.” Mrs. Weasley wished as she gave her daughter the basket and kissed her cheek.
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley!” Said Harry, leaving the kitchen right behind Ginny.
Harry and Ginny made their way to the lake making small talk. It had been weeks since they had been by themselves (and Teddy). Actually, after the day Harry found Ginny all alone crying in Hogwarts, they hadn't had one single alone time. So that was a perfect opportunity. The sun was high in the sky and a blessed tree provided some shade for them to set their picnic. Ginny placed a towel big enough for the three of them under it and took Teddy from Harry’s arms before sitting down. Harry put down the basket with the food and the baby bag before sitting next to her.
“Why are you laughing, baby?” Ginny asked Teddy with her adoring eyes and baby voice. Teddy looked between her and his godfather and smiled dearly. “That’s Harry. He’s your godfather.” Teddy pointed to her. “I’m auntie Ginny. Gin-ny, can’t you repeat?”
“Blah.” Teddy replied making Harry snort.
“Close enough.” He joked, as Ginny placed Teddy down and watched him ask for toys. Harry grabbed a couple of his favourite toys in the bag and soon the baby was entertaining himself.
“He’s so quiet.” Ginny noted, after a couple of minutes.
“Yes, he’s an angel. Most of the times.” Harry added, before turning his head to face her. “Gin?”
“I wanna talk.” Harry said, getting her complete attention. “Explain everything. Will you hear me out?”
“Sure, Harry.” Ginny smiled, taking his hand and kissing it softly.
“Ok, so-” Harry started, before getting interrupted by the soft pop of someone apparating in front of them. It was Bernard Bennett and Robins Maxwell, both Aurors. They looked like they had just left a harsh fight.
“Harry!” Bernard called before he realized Ginny was there. “Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt. Miss Weasley.”
“Auror Bennett, Maxwell.” Ginny greeted, as she let Harry’s hand go.
“Sorry, Harry.” Said Robins with a little smile. “But we just captured another Death Eater, and we need you for a couple of hours, Harry.” He explained.
“Oh,” Harry sighed. He looked at Ginny with an apologetic expression.
“That’s ok,” She guaranteed. “I’ll take care of Teddy for you.”
“You’re my life saviour.” Harry thanked, getting up and kissing her head before whispering in her ear. “And you have no idea how much.”
Harry said his brief goodbyes to Teddy before going away with the Aurors. Ginny was left with the baby and her thoughts. What had Harry meant with that?
“Blah.” Teddy said with a smile and lifting his arms. Ginny grabbed him and kissed his little head.
“Yeah, baby boy, blah!”
It had been almost a whole week since Ron and Hermione had started their search for the Grangers. Who would have thought Australia had that many dentists? Because of her charm and for safety, Hermione had no idea under which name her parents were under. She dreaded that she could get captured and someone would have wanted to hurt them to hurt her. And so, they had to go to every dentist practice in Australia. They took two days to cover all of them in Sydney and another couple of days in Canberra. Another whole day lost in Perth and now they were in their second day in Melbourne.
“Can we go to lunch now?” Ron pledged once they left one more dentist office.
Hermione checked her watch and sighed. “Fine, where do you want to go?” Ron started to answer but she interrupted him. “Not Burger King again. It’s not like we don't have it back home.”
“But how have we never gone to one?” Ron protested, but gave up once he saw her face. “Ok, look, that restaurant looks nice.”
He pointed out a restaurant a couple of blocks away, on the other side of the street. It had a great view of the Harbor and some tables on the deck, outside. Hermione nodded to Ron’s suggestion and immediately felt being pulled away, making her laugh inside. Always thinking with his stomach, she thought.
Once they got to the place Ron had pointed out, they were sat on a table outside, with the Harbor view. The waiter gave them the menu’s and took their drinks’ order. Hermione took the time to appreciate the sea and all its magnitude. Suddenly, she felt Ron’s hand grabbing hers across the table.
“You alright?” He asked.
“Yeah, I- just-” She took a breath and turned back to face him. “I wish we could simply enjoy where we are and each other’s company with no worry. I can’t walk into one more dentist practice and not find my Mum and Dad.”
“And I don't think you’ll have, Mione.” Ron suddenly said, looking at something behind her head. Hermione stared at him in confusion before she turned around to follow his eyes.
Her heart stopped. The same waiter that had sat them down was now sitting a middled-aged couple. Her parents. Her own Mum and Dad. They looked happy, quite tanned and didn't seem to have aged one bit, differently from their daughter, who they wouldn't recognize if she were to go to their side.
“Oh my God.” Hermione lost her breath and tears threatened to leave her eyes. Ron squeezed her hand. “It’s them. Ron, it’s them.” She commemorated. “Ok, where’s my wand?”
“Mione,” Ron called her. “You can’t just take the charm off out here.”
“Oh.” She sounded disappointed but nodded acknowledging he was right. “I could cast a muggle repellent out here on the deck-”
Ron grabbed her hand again, making her stop talking. “Love, we had a plan already.” He reminded her. “We’ll follow them to somewhere safe.”
“I guess you are right.” Hermione admitted. “I’m sorry, it’s just that-”
“You finally found your parents, Mione. You don’t have to apologize.” He assured her, taking her hand to his lips and kissing it.
“I love you, Ronald.” Hermione suddenly spilled out. “I have ever since we were 14. Thank you for being here with me.”
“I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else.” Ron smiled. “I’ve always loved you too. Now, let’s get your parents back!”
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