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Chapter 19 : Here Comes The Sun
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When Hermione awoke, the hospital room was dark. The steady beeps coming from the three heart-monitoring orbs were the only audible sounds as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Pushing her hair away from her face, she looked for her in-laws, but found their chairs surprisingly empty.
Rolling onto her side, she watched Ron sleeping in his bed for a minute before she moved. She wanted to touch him – wanted to feel him breathing and know without question he was alive.
Lifting her covers, she slipped gingerly out of her bed. The floor was cool beneath her bare feet, causing a shiver to run up the back of her legs. For a moment, the room swayed around her and she rested her hand on the mattress.
When she felt steady enough, she walked carefully across the room.
Feeling something hovering behind her, she whipped around. Her cry of alarm died in her throat though, when she saw it was simply her two monitoring bubbles floating along in her wake. Pressing a hand against her stomach, she turned back and continued on.
When she reached Ron’s bed, she pulled back his blankets. The white scar on his chest was vivid and she shut her eyes for a second against the memories that surfaced. Reaching out, she trailed her fingers over the symbol. Ron didn’t stir, his chest continuing to rise steadily under her hand.
Climbing onto the bed, she slid under the covers with him and leaned her body against the warmth of his. Laying her hand over his heart, she pressed her face into his skin, breathing in his familiar scent. Her hand moved to his arm, her fingers running up and down the scar Malfoy had given him.
“Ron,” she breathed. “Wake up.”
He didn’t move as she brushed her lips against his collarbone. Before she knew it, she was crying, wetting his skin with her tears.
“Wake up,” she pleaded again softly.
Her breath caught a moment later when he shifted beneath her. Looking up, she watched as his head rolled to the side and his fingers twitched under her touch.
“H’mionnn,” he sighed, his eyes remaining closed.
“I’m here,” she told him, pressing a kiss to his ear. “I’m here.”
“Sstayy,” he breathed, before he seemed to fade back to sleep.
“Yes,” she nodded, tucking her face into his neck as she caught his hand and squeezed. “I’ll stay.”
Holding onto him, she listened to him breathe until she eventually fell back to sleep.
Harry stirred only once during the night, drifting awake just enough to register he was cold. Groggily, he conjured a thick blanket, pulling it over Ginny who was shivering where she slept against him.
His eyes closed almost immediately as he murmured out a warming charm and wrapped his arms around her. In response, Ginny shifted in her sleep, rubbing her cheek against his chest as her legs tangled with his.
It was midmorning by the time Harry woke again, this time feeling the weight of Ginny’s body on his.
Being with her seemed so normal that at first, he didn’t think anything of it. Warm and comfortable beneath the covers, he lingered in the haze of waking as he ran his hands up and down her back.
Her skin was smooth beneath his palms, her hair thick and tangled when he dragged his fingers through it. Murmuring her name, Harry waited for her to stir, but she remained still.
“Ginny,” he repeated, stroking her hair. “Ginny, wake up, love.”
When she still didn’t respond, he finally rolled with her until she was on her back as he leaned over her.
Harry froze as his words caught in his throat. His body went cold and he squeezed his eyes shut, willing what he saw not to be real. When he opened them again, nothing had changed.
Staring up at him, Ginny’s eyes were wide and lifeless. Her neck was bent at an unnatural angle against the mattress.
“No,” he gasped, grabbing her face. As he did, her head rolled in his hands, the handprint shaped bruises dark against her pale throat as he checked for any signs of life. “NO!”
“Oh God, please no,” he choked out. Pulling her into his arms, he clutched her to him as he screamed her name.
The darkness within him surged, desperate and vicious in response to his grief. Unable and unwilling to stop it, Harry let it take him, sobbing into her hair until he finally, slowly, began to laugh…
With a violent jerk he awoke, tears on his cheeks and his heart pounding wildly. Once again, Ginny was draped across his chest. He sat up with a strangled cry of fear, rolling her quickly onto her back.
His hands trembling, he brushed the hair from her neck trying to check for bruises.
He gasped in relief when her eyes snapped open, startled and disoriented as they focused on him. In an instant, they filled with terror as she knocked his hands away from her throat.
“Ginny!” Harry said, reaching for her as she tried to scramble away. “Wait…”
“Harry, no!” she pleaded fighting against him when he grabbed her around the stomach. “Don’t! You don’t want to…”
“Stop!” he said, wrapping his other arm around her shoulders and holding her back against him. “Ginny, stop, it’s ok!”
“Let me go,” she begged over his words, trembling. “Please don’t do this…Let me go…”
Releasing her instantly, he heard her whimper as she crawled away from him.
“Ginny wait,” Harry said. “I-I love you.”
Freezing, Ginny crouched at the end of the bed. When he repeated his words, she looked warily over her shoulder at him. The sun shown brightly behind her, turning her hair to fire as it shimmered against her back.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he told her tremulously. “I just…I had a nightmare. I’m…I’m not going to hurt you, baby.”
Slowly, he turned his hand palm up and reached out to her, silently urging her to take it. Holding his breath, he watched as she cautiously turned, her legs curled up in front of her and her hands gripping the blanket as she stared at him.
Her gaze dropped to Harry’s hand for a moment before rising back to his face. As he watched her, Harry could see the confusion fill her expression as her brown eyes flicked back and forth between his own.
“But…your eyes...they’re green,” she whispered eventually, pulling the blanket up and clutching it to her chest. “If you had a nightmare, why are your eyes green?”
He stared at her for a second as her question sank in. Thrown into a panic by his dream, he hadn’t thought about his lack of reaction to her until now. Suddenly, he realized he wasn’t struggling to contain his power…he wasn’t struggling not to hurt her.
“I don’t know,” Harry answered finally. “It was just…a nightmare.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I don’t know,” he repeated, his heart pounding as he considered the possibilities. “But something’s different. I feel different.”
“It’s hard to explain,” he responded.
Inching forward, he stopped when she shifted back.
“Wait,” he said, raising his hand. “I want to try something but…you’ll have to trust me.”
She only hesitated for a moment before she nodded.
Holding onto his control, Harry closed his eyes and focused on her. Afraid his power would suddenly break loose, he was tentative at first, but when nothing happened he focused harder. He could feel her, but he didn’t want to destroy her.
“What’s happening?” Ginny asked softly.
“I…” Harry paused as he tried to answer the question. Again, he searched for the feelings of darkness that resided inside of him, but to his surprise, he felt…nothing. “I don’t know,” he murmured, opening his eyes. “It’s like it’s…gone.”
“But that’s impossible.”
“I know but…I can’t…” Rubbing his head as he tried to think, he shook his head. “How did we get here?” he asked finally, unable to recall anything before his nightmare. “What happened?”
“You don’t remember anything?”
“I don’t know, I…”
Thinking back, Harry furrowed his brow. At first his mind was blank, but then all at once it came to him. Gasping, he shut his eyes, curling his fingers into the covers as he remembered.
“Don’t go,” he gasped, hearing the fear in her voice. “I’m not…I just…Oh, God,” he groaned as the memories rushed in. “I came to Hogwarts. I came after you,” he said, pressing his hand over his eyes. “I...I almost killed you,” he said, his voice breaking.
“But you didn’t.”
“No,” he shook his head. “I didn’t want to…I…I ran and you followed me here...it was so hard. I wanted to hurt you...wanted to...”
“You wanted to, but you didn’t, Harry.”
Nodding his head, he remained silent as he thought through everything else that had happened. Breathing deeply, he became still as the memories from the previous night came back.
“Oh, God,” he whispered eventually.
“What is it?” she asked quietly.
Swallowing, he finally dropped his hands and opened his eyes.
“I remember you,” he said, his heart clenching painfully.
Across from him, Ginny shuddered at his words. For a second she turned her head away.
“Look at me,” he urged softly.
When she eventually looked back, her eyes were glistening.
“What do you remember?” she asked, brushing away an errant tear.
“I remember…I’ve loved you for a very long time,” he said, holding her gaze steadily as her eyes searched his. Moving slowly, he scooted toward her on the bed.
“I don’t understand what’s happening.”
“I don’t either,” Harry said, shaking his head slightly, “but…whatever this is, I think it’s good. I think it’s really, really good.”
“Yeah,” he nodded, smiling. “I think you’ve saved me.”
Choking out a watery laugh, Ginny wiped at her cheeks with her hand.
“How is that possible?” she asked shakily. “Your power, it doesn’t just go away. Dumbledore tried…”
“I don’t think it’s gone,” he corrected her. “I still…I feel my power. I just don’t feel the darkness.”
Curling his hand into a tight fist, he held it before her. When she was looking, he uncurled his fingers. In his hand, a small green bud had appeared. Blooming open as he blew on it, soft pink petals with shimmering gold edges folded out to create a perfect rose the size of his palm.
Gasping, Ginny picked it up, cradling it carefully as she ran her fingers over the delicate petals.
“We made love last night,” he said, watching the blush stain her cheeks as she stared at the flower.
Reaching out, Harry laid his hand on her lower back. When she didn’t flinch, he ran it slowly up her skin and into her hair. Staring at her face, he waited for the violence to come, but he felt nothing but pleasure at touching her.
“I know it doesn’t make sense. I can’t explain it,” he said as he leaned in and kissed her shoulder, “but I think it’s gone.”
“But how? How can it be gone?” Ginny asked, her eyes falling shut as he mouth traveled up to her neck.
“I don’t know, but when I touch you...when I’m close to you right now, I don’t feel it,” Harry whispered. “Do you know what I do feel?”
“What?” she asked, tilting her head as he kissed the sensitive skin behind her ear.
“You,” he told her, his hands shaking slightly as he cupped her face.
Leaning in slowly, he pressed his lips against hers. Again he waited, but nothing happened.
“I feel you,” he whispered again, breaking into a smile.
Slowly, Ginny smiled with him, her face lighting up as she searched his eyes. Then, with a cry she was in his lap, her arms around his neck as she clutched him to her.
“Harry!” she said, laughing even as she began to cry.
“Oh, God, Ginny,” he breathed, kissing her shoulder and neck. Bringing his hand to her cheek, he met her gaze for a second before pressing his lips to hers. “You’re everything,” he whispered, kissing her harder as her hands tangled into his hair.
Realizing after a moment that her tears were only increasing, he quickly pulled back.
“Hey,” he soothed, brushing his hands over her hair. “Shh…what is it?”
“This is where the dream…usually…ends,” she choked out, her fingers tightening in his hair as her forehead touched his. “And the nightmare begins…”
“Not this time,” he told her, tracing his hands down and then back up her arms to her neck. “This time…it’s real.”
“Swear,” he echoed as he kissed her.
Pulling the blanket from between them, he drew her closer, catching her gasp in his mouth as they touched skin to skin.
“Definitely real,” he whispered.
Running his hands down her sides, he grabbed her hips and pulled her tightly against him.
Crying out in pain, her hands went immediately to his as her forehead dropped to his shoulder.
“Gin?” he asked, as she pushed his hands away with a wince. “What’s…”
“It’s fine,” she said running her palms up over his arms as she kissed his chest.
Catching her hands, he held her away has he shifted back to look at her. His heart seized in his chest when he saw her body.
Until then, he’d only noticed the marks on her face, but now he saw the patchwork of dark bruises that covered her.
“Oh my God,” he said, his voice wavering. His heart sank to his stomach when he saw the handprints. “Oh my God!”
Shifting her out of his lap, he scooted back, his eyes wide with horror as she crossed her arms over her chest. A wave of nausea washed over him as he stared at the russet streaks of dried blood that mixed with the purple, yellow and green bruising. Scanning her body, he blanched when he saw the teeth marks on her shoulder.
“What did I do?” he asked, appalled as his eyes flicked across the blood on her face to the clumps in her tangled hair.
“Wait for what?” he demanded. “You’re covered in blood!”
“Well, most of it’s yours,” she said, looking down at herself.
“That doesn’t make it better,” he shook his head.
“I know, but just…”
“My handprints are all over you, Ginny,” he bit out, looking ill as he gestured to her body, “and…what is that?”
Looking down, Ginny placed her hand against the long fresh bruise that wrapped around her right side.
“It’s nothing. My rib was broken, but…”
“I broke your rib?” Harry demanded, his hands going to his hair. “I broke you? I can’t…I think I’m going to be sick…”
“Harry!” Ginny interrupted, pulling the blanket up quickly to cover her body before moving toward him. “It’s ok.”
“It is not ok,” he assured her tremulously.
“Harry, stop...Look at you. This was hard on both of us,” she told him. “You look just as bad.”
Looking down, he blinked when he saw the bruises and scratches on his own skin. His arms, especially, were covered with bloodstains, although it was spread across the rest of him as well.
Reaching out, Ginny traced four livid scratch marks that ran down his chest.
“I hurt you too,” she said.
Catching her hand, he pulled her back into his arms. Holding her against him, he kissed the top of her head as he rocked with her.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
“It’s okay,” she soothed.
“Don’t say that,” Harry shook his head. “Don’t try to say it’s okay.”
“Nothing’s permanent, Harry,” she assured him, sliding her arms up and around the back of his shoulders.
“I could have killed you,” he breathed as she snuggled into his neck.
Glancing around the room, he took in the destruction. The glass had been blown out of all the windows and there was an alarming amount of blood smeared across the wood floor. Shifting on the sheets, he looked down at the ripped and bloodstained bedclothes beneath them.
Suddenly, he wanted it gone. He wanted the reminders of what had happened out of the room and definitely off of her.
“Why don’t you take a shower,” he suggested, threading fingers into her hair.
“I don’t want to move,” she murmured against his skin. “I want to stay with you.”
“We’re covered in dirt, and blood...and who knows what else,” he replied, kissing her forehead. “Trust me, you’ll feel better once you’ve showered.”
Scooping her up as she brushed her lips against his throat, he climbed off the bed. When he was standing, he set her on her feet. His hands rested on her waist as she looked up at him. The blanket hung around her shoulders, the bottom of it pooling at her feet on the floor.
“Go shower and I’ll try to put the room back together,” he told her. “I’m not going anywhere.
Leaning down, he kissed her, his lips lingering on hers before he pulled back.
Looking around, Ginny’s eyes travelled over the destruction of the room, lingering on the bloodstained floor before returning to his face.
“Fine,” she agreed reluctantly before leaning forward and kissing the hollow of his throat. “But I’m going to be really quick.”
Cupping the back of her head in his hands when she started to step back, Harry drew her up on her toes for another kiss.
“I’ll be here when you get back, I swear,” he whispered against her lips.
Wrapping his arms around her, he held her close for another moment. When he released her, his hands trailed across her sides, his fingers skimming up over her forearms as she moved away.
For a second he considered following as he watched her leave the room. He hesitated when the blanket she wore swept across the floor, bringing his attention back to the bloodstains. Frowning, he surveyed the room again before reluctantly beginning to look for his clothes.
Where are they? he wondered a few moments later when his search came up empty.
Thinking back as he wrapped a sheet around his waist, he vaguely recalled having banished their clothes the night before.
Pausing as that led to thoughts of Ginny naked, his eyes flicked to the bed. Memories of Ginny, warm and heartbreakingly trusting beneath him emerged in his mind. For several moments he remained still, his eyes on the bed as what had happened between them ran through his head.
Closing his eyes when a memory of Ginny on top of him surfaced, he swallowed as he recalled the way she looked with an evil grin and black eyes. His chest tightened in regret at the image and he glanced again at the door.
Suddenly, he wanted to be with her. He took a step toward the hall before he stopped, shaking himself.
She’s safe, he told himself firmly. She’s right down the hall.
Forcing himself to turn away, he tried to refocus on the task at hand. Quickly repairing the sheets, he moved to work on the windows as the bed remade itself.
Despite his attempt to distract himself, his discomfort of being apart continued to grow. After several minutes he couldn’t resist the need to be sure she was still there and ok.
Without thinking, he reached out with his power. It poured out of him, sweeping across the room in all directions in search of her magic. Realizing what he’d done, he had an instant of alarm, afraid the darkness would erupt behind it.
Grabbing the bedpost, he braced his body and pulled back hard, trying to reverse the flow. His magic slowed to a stop, but not before it swept through the bathroom. Harry instinctively tensed, holding his breath when he felt Ginny.
Strong and intoxicating, the pleasure of touching her aura went all the way to his bones. Gasping, he shut his eyes as his need to be close to her increased, but that’s all it was. There was nothing below the surface, no force threatening to erupt. It was his desire, based on nothing more than his love for her.
Slowly, his shoulders relaxed and he continued to draw his power back inside of himself. It came easily and he exhaled as Ginny’s aura faded away.
Standing frozen, he stared at nothing for a moment before slowly, he began to smile. The relief that came with feeling free…feeling like himself was so great that his eyes filled with tears even as he laughed.
Pressing his palms over his eyes, he leaned over as his shoulders shook. He didn’t know how it had happened, and at the moment he didn’t even care. All that mattered was that he knew she had saved him.
When he straightened, he brushed his hand quickly over his eyes. His gaze went once toward the hall before he went back to fixing the room.
In the shower, Ginny stood staring at the old white tile. The water ran down her back, curling in dark swirls around her feet before disappearing down the drain. The warmth should have been soothing as it eased the ache in her muscles, but her body refused to relax.
Whatever had happened to Harry was a miracle, but it was scary as well.
What if it’s not permanent? she worried. What if something changes and he runs or…
Turning around as the tension inside of her grew, she grabbed the bar of soap. Even as she began rubbing it up and down her arm, her focus remained internal. After only a few seconds she reached out, letting the soap slide from her fingers back onto its holder.
Pulling back the curtain, she poked her head around. The room was small, the once bright yellow walls now faded and cracked. The edges of the mirror were just beginning to fog up from the steam.
“Harry!” she called. “Harry!”
He Apparated into the room so suddenly that she jerked back in surprise, clutching the curtain against her.
“What is it?” he asked anxiously. Rushing toward her, he barely noticed when the sheet wrapped around his waist caught under his feet. “Are you ok? Ginny?”
“I…Well, I…” Trailing off, she stared at him. Seeing him so frantic made her feel foolish for calling him in. “I just…” Rubbing her forehead, she winced when she pressed against a tender spot.
“Are you ok?” Harry asked again, standing in front of the shower. “Did you need something?”
“No…just…just you,” she breathed unsteadily.
“I…I needed you,” she admitted, looking up despite the blush she felt on her cheeks. “I was afraid that…that you would…” Shaking her head, she looked away. “It doesn’t matter. It’s stupid.”
Silence filled the room as Ginny avoided his gaze. The hot water hitting her side did nothing to warm her as she fought against her embarrassment.
“It’s not stupid,” Harry said finally, seeming to understand what she didn’t want to say. Reaching out, he brushed the tips of his fingers across her cheek. “I didn’t like being away from you either,” he said, drawing her eyes back to his.
“I keep thinking of all the things that could happen,” she breathed. “All the bad things.”
“But nothing is going to happen,” he said, his face suddenly determined. “I’m staying like this…with you.”
“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t promise something like that.”
“Ginny, we both know, that no matter what happens I’ll be with you,” he said. “I won’t leave…and even if I did,” he said, his mouth quirking up, “you’d follow me, right?”
When she didn’t smile, he leaned in pressing his lips against hers. Cradling her face with one hand he murmured her name.
“I can stay in here for now, ok?” he offered. “I’ll stay right here until you’re done.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to.”
Catching his hand when he began to back up, Ginny held his gaze.
“No, I mean…you could…you could get in,” she offered.
Harry’s eyes studied hers, dropping to her red cheeks before trailing almost reluctantly down to where her hip and leg peeked around the edge of the curtain.
“Are you sure?” he asked, studying her eyes again. “I mean …I don’t want you to feel like you have to…I can wait out here, Ginny,” he offered. “I won’t leave.”
“No,” she said, tightening her grip on his hand when he began to pull away. “I want you with me.”
She hesitated only a second before letting go of the curtain. Keeping her gaze locked on the green of Harry’s eyes, she stepped back.
“Please,” she said, blinking back the tears that began to rise.
Without looking away from her, Harry dropped his sheet and stepped into the tub, absently dragging the curtain closed with one arm while he slid the other around her waist.
“It’s ok,” he breathed, wrapping her into his arms.
“I…I don’t want you to disappear,” Ginny admitted into his skin.
“Not going to happen,” he replied, pressing his mouth against her shoulder as the water ran down them.
Ginny felt her tears leaking onto his skin and squeezed her eyes shut. Her fingers threaded into the hair that lay on his neck, curling tightly as she held him against her.
“What if this doesn’t last?” she asked, hating that she was trembling but unable to stop.
“I think we take what we can get,” Harry replied simply.
His hands moved soothingly up and down her back as they stood together. The heat from the water curled around them, making the air thick as Ginny breathed him in.
“Whatever this is, it’s real, Ginny,” Harry murmured in her ear after a few moments. “We’re safe and together and that’s all that matters right now, ok?”
Nodding, Ginny shut her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her. Slowly, her shaking began to ease as she allowed herself to simply feel him. His body was firm against hers, solid and so real that for a second her tears threatened again.
“Just don’t leave me,” she pleaded, “No matter what happens.”
“Oh, I think you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of me,” he replied, nuzzling her neck. “I can’t seem to let go.”
Raising his head, he found her mouth with his. He kissed her tenderly a few times, before taking a breath and lifting his head.
Reaching past her, he grabbed the shampoo bottle. Snapping open the cap, he poured a large dollop into his palm before rubbing his hands together. Shifting back, his eyes flicked to hers and held as he began to wash her hair. His fingers massaged her scalp, sending shivers down her back as he worked out the clumped blood.
Closing her eyes with a sigh, Ginny rested her hands on his chest as her head lolled.
He couldn’t seem to stop looking at her. His hands worked automatically as he stared at her face, part of his brain still in awe that he was with her, and in shock over what he could now remember.
She was no longer just Ginny, the woman he’d fallen in love with over the last few weeks…she was Ginny the girl he’d loved more than anyone else for almost ten years. The feelings he’d felt for her a week ago had joined with what he’d had before, mixing and blending to create something deeper and more complete than he’d ever experienced.
“Feels good?” he asked when he eventually tilted her head back to rinse out the suds.
“Mhm,” she hummed, opening her eyes.
Seeing the remains of her bloody handprints still smudged across his shoulder, she reached for the soap and lathered it between her hands. While Harry worked shampoo into his own hair, she began to wash his chest.
Her fingers skimmed over his bruises, rubbing at the dirt and the dried blood left from the night before. After a few moments he hissed in a breath as soap seeped into the scratches on his chest.
“Sorry,” she said, her eyes flicking to his.
“It’s fine,” he said shaking his head, his eyes on her forehead as he frowned. “You’re bleeding,” he told her, his fingers moving to her temple. “I must have reopened a cut or something.”
Bringing her hand up, Ginny felt the tender knot and scratches.
“I hate that I did this,” Harry said roughly as his eyes ran down the front of her body, sickened by the thought of what he might have done to her…what he had done to her.
“You didn’t do this,” Ginny replied, remembering how Goyle had slammed her into the wall.
“I did, Ginny. You…”
“No,” she cut him off. “These aren’t all from you, Harry,” she reminded him. “You never hit me on the face.”
As soon as the words came out, she realized it was the wrong thing to say. She saw his surprise shift to confusion and then quickly anger. His face darkened ominously and his eyes ran back over her face.
“Bastard,” he breathed, cradling her face in his hands. “What did he do to you?”
“Nothing,” she tried to reassure him.
“Don’t lie,” Harry admonished, tracing his thumbs over her cheeks, “he hurt you.”
“It’s over, Harry,” she said. “It doesn’t matter.”
“It matters to me,” he insisted, holding her gaze.
“Harry,” she said firmly, putting her hand on his stomach, “stop it, it’s over. You killed him.”
“I don’t ca…”
Cutting him off with a kiss, Ginny leaned against him, her nails running over the muscles on his abdomen. His body responded instantly to the touch of hers, his breath catching as his fingers curled in her hair. Wet and warm, her lips slid over his, her teeth scraping lightly over his mouth until he opened it.
“Don’t distract me,” he murmured, his hand sliding from her cheek down the center of her neck. “It’s important to m…”
“What’s important is that you’re here and he’s not,” Ginny finished for him, her voice trembling as Harry kissed her chin. “He didn’t get what he wanted,” she reminded him, her hand lingering on the crease between his hip and thigh. “What you wanted,” she breathed as Harry rocked against her with a groan.
“What I will always want,” he told her huskily.
“It’s yours,” Ginny assured him as he slid his hands around her waist. “I’m yours.”
Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, Ginny clung to him as he kissed her deeply. Any feeling of awkwardness slipped away as he lifted her up, seemingly unable to get close enough.
“God, Gin, you’re so…so…OW!”
Dropping her, his hands went to his eyes as he staggered back a step.
Ginny’s pitched forward as she landed, her feet slipping on the slick tub. With a shriek she grabbed Harry’s shoulder and the shower curtain, pulling it off several rings as she began to fall.
Catching her, Harry tried to keep her upright while he wiped at his face. His attempt to steady her, unfortunately, sent his own feet sliding out from under him.
They went down in a heap, Harry crying out when the back of his head smacked against the tub.
“Harry!” Ginny exclaimed, pushing up on her arms.
“God, that stings,” he groaned, one hand still rubbing at his eyes while the other cradled the back of his skull.
“Let me see,” she said, shifting to her knees so she was straddling his stomach. Water pounded down on her back but she blocked him from most of the spray.
“Soap,” he winced, squeezing his eyes shut as he drew his hand away. His face remained skewed up as he sprawled against the bottom of the tub.
“Ok, hang on,” she soothed, grinning as she suddenly fought not to laugh.
Seeing him brought down by a bit of soap in the eye was quite a sight after everything that had happened. Reaching behind her, she turned the center knob to the left. Instantly the shower spray stopped and water flowed instead out of the bath tap.
Shifting farther around, she caught a scoopful of warm water.
“Here, hold still,” she told him as she turned back and began to rinse out his eyes. Gently, she ran her fingers over his eyelids before getting more water and rinsing again. When he finally blinked them open and they seemed clear, she washed the rest of the shampoo from his hair.
“Big baby,” she teased, leaning down to kiss him.
“It really stings,” he murmured against her lips.
“I’m sure it does,” she told him, lifting up enough to see his bloodshot eyes. “How about your head?” she asked. Slipping her hand around into his hair, she felt for a bump.
“It’s ok,” he said, sitting up with a grimace. “It doesn’t hurt half as much as the soap did.”
Holding her around the waist with one arm, he pushed the curtain open with the other before leveraging his weight on the side of the tub and helping her carefully stand up.
“I guess the shower’s over,” he said, stepping out gingerly.
Pulling two towels from the rack on the wall, he handed one to her as she followed him out.
Moving away, Ginny shook out the terrycloth and began to dry off. Suddenly, she was conscious of being naked with him. Knowing it was silly after having just showered together, she nevertheless couldn’t shake the blush that started. Rubbing the towel more quickly over her skin, she tried to figure out where to look.
After a few moments she glanced over at Harry. His chest was broad, his muscles sleek and defined as they flexed with his movement. The line of hair on his abs was still damp, stuck to his skin where it trailed down past the towel he was rubbing over his stomach.
Swallowing, her eyes flicked up to his face. Her cheeks heated when she found his gaze on her. Unlike her, he seemed to have no embarrassment at his nakedness. Instead, his eyes were dark and focused as they moved over her skin.
Looking away, Ginny could still feel him staring as she hurried her movements. Acutely aware of her body, she wrapped the towel around her without bothering to run it over her hair.
“Stop looking,” she told him finally, blushing as she tucked the towel under her arms.
“Can’t help it,” he replied, his mouth curling up at the corners. “You’re beautiful.”
Shaking her head with a grin, she angled away as she adjusted the towel. Her hair was still dripping, several drops rolling down the side of her face. Without thinking about it, she raked her fingers through her hair.
Glancing in the mirror, she paused with her hands halfway down. Surprisingly, the top of her hair was dry. Slowly dragging her hands the rest of the way through it, she watched as the rest dried instantly under her touch. Wavy and wild, it hung loose around her shoulders.
“I forgot I could do that,” she said, smiling briefly at her reflection.
Reaching up, she fingered one of the red strands that curled over her shoulder as she considered the wandless magic she now remembered. Just as her mood began to shift, Harry shook his head behind her, sending a spray of water against her shoulder and the glass.
“Hey!” she laughed, turning toward him.
“Well, do mine,” he smiled before shaking his head again.
Laughing, she reached up, catching his head to stop him. Resting her arms against his shoulders she ran her fingers through his hair. When she was finished, she watched the now dry locks fall into his face.
“I like your hair long,” she decided absently, tucking the strands behind his ears.
“I like yours long too,” he said, lifting a curl from where it hung down over the front of her towel.
“It’s always been long,” she reminded him with a smile as he wrapped it around his fingers.
“Yes, but I didn’t know that,” he replied, using her hair to tug her toward him.
His words seemed to suck the levity from the room. Holding his gaze, Ginny held her breath as he brought his free hand to her hair.
“I didn’t remember,” he whispered longingly, watching the light play through the strands as he ran his fingers through it. “I forgot how beautiful.”
“You didn’t forget,” Ginny corrected softly.
Tipping her face back, he pressed a kiss against her lips before he turned her toward the mirror. Standing behind her, he let the backs of his fingers trail up and down her arms as he studied her.
The top of her head was level with his chin, her hair bright copper where his was inky black. His hands were large as they pulled her hair behind her, baring the freckles sprinkled across her pale shoulders.
“I used to count these,” he reminded her, tracing his fingers in a familiar pattern.
Ginny shivered under his touch, unable to look away from the green of his eyes as he stared at her.
“You are, you know,” he murmured, his fingers tracing down over her collarbones.
“Are what?” she asked.
Sliding his hands to the top of her towel, he pulled it open, shaking his head when she started to stop him. Self-conscious, Ginny crossed her arms over her chest. She could feel the flush spreading across her body, starting in her face and moving down her neck, but Harry didn’t seem to mind. For a moment he remained silent, letting the towel fall to the floor as he took her in.
His gaze followed his hands as they slid over her ribs, tracing the discoloration before moving down to rest gently against the dark bruises that wrapped around her hips.
“I hurt you,” he said, noting with a grimace how his fingers fit into the dark smudges. “Last night, when we…I was way too rough…”
“I didn’t mind,” Ginny whispered.
Sucking in a breath, his eyes flicked to hers for a moment.
“Still,” he said, his voice husky. “I didn’t want it to be like that,” he said regretfully, lowering his face to her hair. “It should have been beautiful and perfect.”
Turning her head, she stared at him until he shifted to look at her.
“I don’t remember the pain from last night,” she told him, her hands moving to rest on his where he held her. “I only remember you…us.”
“I’ll make it better,” he swore, catching her lips with his.
At the same time, warmth moved from his hands into her skin, easing the underlying ache as he healed the worst of her bruising.
“Thank you,” she breathed, smiling slightly against his mouth.
“Look,” he urged quietly, nudging her shoulder with his to get her to turn back around.
Glancing at the mirror, she saw their reflections again. Silently, she watched as he brushed his fingers over her cheeks, his thumb lingering on the corner of her mouth.
“I wish I could do that,” she said softly as her bruises began to fade.
“No, you don’t,” he replied, his voice low.
Unable to come up with a reply, Ginny watched as his gaze moved over her. Seeing the reverence replace the pain in his eyes, Ginny’s reticence of being naked before him began to fade.
Sucking in a breath, her throat became tight as she stared at him. Part of her still couldn’t believe it was him…that they were together. The green in his eyes made her body ache with memories and feelings that had been forgotten.
“I used to dream about you,” he said, breaking the silence as his fingertips skimmed up over her stomach. “I used to dream about this,” he said, reveling in the softness of her curves as he touched her.
“Harry,” Ginny breathed, her back arching against him.
“You drove me crazy,” he whispered. “All I had to do was look at you back then and I could hardly breathe. I barely got to touch you like this…but it didn’t matter. You still owned my soul.”
“Harry,” Ginny managed again, her voice breaking at his words as her eyes unexpectedly filled with tears.
“I’m going to spend the rest of my life loving you,” he swore. “I will never, ever, hurt you again,” he promised huskily, pressing his lips against the base of her throat when her head fell back against his shoulder.
Harry couldn’t seem to look away from the mirror as she reacted to his touch. Her pale skin flushed beneath his hands, her eyes dark and wide before they fluttered closed. The sound of her voice as she moaned his name was intoxicating, sending a rush of emotion racing through him.
“Bed,” he managed eventually. “We should...”
Shaking her head, she whimpered as the flush of her cheeks darkened.
Desire rippled down his body before he dragged his towel off. Skin met skin, smooth and warm as he breathed out the contraceptive spell. Her gaze met his, slightly dazed as she grasped the basin in front of her with both hands to steady herself. Reaching around, he pressed his hand firmly to her stomach. Spreading his fingers wide in a fan, he repeated the spell.
In the mirror he saw the area between his fingers glow blue for a moment before it faded. It was the last coherent observation he made before he brought them together.
He’d never had trouble maintaining control in the past, but being with her was different. She was different. He’d never felt for the others what he felt for her. Finally touching her without any reservations or fear, the sensations were almost too much.
The flowery scent of her hair was strong and achingly familiar, the strands tickling his lips as he focused on simply breathing. Inhaling slowly, he looked up. Heat surged through him anew at the sight of her trembling beneath him. Her head was down, her hair creating a crimson curtain around her.
“Look at me,” he whispered. “Ginny…look…”
Pulling her head up, she met his gaze in the mirror. Everything he felt seemed to be reflected in her dark chocolate eyes as a tear rolled down her cheek. She was his, her body made for him just the way he was made for her. Everything about her was beautiful and, for a second, Harry’s heart squeezed at the realization that they were finally together.
Love overwhelmed him suddenly, closing his throat with a force just as strong as what he’d always felt from his power. Primal feelings of protectiveness rushed through him and his hand shifted to curl over hers on the counter.
“Harry…Harry your eyes!”
Glancing up, he faltered when he saw the ring of gold shimmering around his pupils. Instantly he began to straighten, but Ginny gripped his hand hard, keeping him in place.
“No,” she moaned, drawing his focus back to her. “Don’t go…What do you feel?”
Shuddering, he shut his eyes for a moment before opening them again. The gold rings flared brighter for a second as he said, “you.”
“So, stay,” she breathed, squeezing his hand. “Stay with me.”
Gritting his teeth, his eyes flicked back to the mirror for a second before he wrapped his arm around her stomach and pressed his face against her hair.
Please, he thought, please don’t let me hurt her.
But all he felt was her, inside him and around him and somehow filling him more than the darkness ever had. Beginning to move again, he thought of nothing, felt nothing beyond the pleasure of being with her. Soon he was losing himself once more, his fear slipping away as he was overwhelmed by the feel of her and the sounds she made as she gasped his name.
When they finally spiraled over the edge, Harry slumped forward. Catching himself, he rested his forehead against her shoulder as she sank down to her forearms.
“I love you,” he breathed after a few moments, pressing a kiss to her shoulder while his hand drew caressing circles on her stomach.
Pulling her hair out of the way, he kissed the crook of her neck before slowly straightening. With the sound of Ginny’s soft moan, he rested his hand on her lower back. Tenderly, he traced a line up her spine with his palm, feeling the ridges beneath his touch.
Seeing her shoulders shudder, he grasped her arms and guided her up. She sniffled, wiping at her cheeks as he turned her around. Her eyes were wide as they searched his, tears overflowing and trailing down her cheeks.
“It’s ok,” he said, pulling her to him.
“I love you so much,” she said, curling her arms around his shoulders as he scooped her into his arms.
“I love you too, baby,” he told her.
Apparating into the bedroom, he carried her to the bed. The blankets folded back on their own, allowing him to climb up and lower her down on the sheets. He slipped in beside her, curling his body around hers as he dragged the blankets over their shoulders.
“Everything’s going to be ok,” he whispered as she clung to him. “I’m right here.”
“I know, I just….what we just…” Taking a steadying breath, she shook her head as her chin trembled. “I can’t describe what I felt…”
“It was incredible,” he whispered, stroking her hair as she nodded.
“What I feel for you, I…It’s so much,” she breathed. “It makes me think about…what they took…the things they took…”
Harry pressed his face against her hair as she began to cry.
“I want it back,” she choked out. “I want the…time back.”
“I know, baby,” Harry murmured, kissing her hair. “I do too.”
The sun was creeping higher in the sky, warming Dumbledore’s office as it streamed through the window. Bill stood facing away from the glare, the heat soothing on his back as he watched the other men in the room. His shoulders ached with fatigue and he could feel a twinge from the bone still healing in his ankle. Despite his exhaustion, he held himself alert, unwilling to let himself rest for even a second.
Not until she’s found.
Dumbledore was beside his desk, speaking in low tones with Remus while Arthur paced in front of the fire. The rest of the Weasley brothers, excluding Ron, were out searching, calling in every favor and following any trail, no matter how remote.
Arthur had talked Molly into returning to the hospital several minutes before. Bill was grateful, unsure he could handle anymore of her grief. When she’d arrived and heard the news of Ginny’s disappearance, she’d crumpled to the floor, weeping “my baby, my baby,” over and over.
The last several hours had been a nightmare. At dawn, he’d returned to Ginny’s small chamber to find her missing. The panic that had come with that discovery had been swift and he’d torn the room apart looking for any sort of clue to what had happened. Infuriatingly, there had been nothing. No note…no sign of a struggle…nothing.
Her disappearance didn’t make any sense. No alarms had been tripped. No one had seen or heard anything. Bill didn’t understand how she could’ve gotten out of the room, let alone the castle. That left only one logical option, but Bill also couldn’t believe Harry would’ve simply slipped in silently to get her.
Left without any leads, they’d been essentially helpless as they waited for some sign of her…or him. Preparation to recast the Fidelius had begun, but without knowing where they were, actually performing the ritual would be extremely dangerous, if not futile.
Although he tried to cling to hope, in his heart, Bill knew Ginny was either dead or would be soon. Even Remus seemed unable to argue for the best outcome now that Harry had his memories back and was so clearly out of control. The fact that he’d momentarily come back to himself meant nothing. They all knew in the end he wouldn’t be able to stay away.
The tension in the room was palpable, seeming to ripple through the air as Bill watched his father pace back and forth. His hands were clasped behind his back, his graying hair and pale lined face standing out starkly next to his dark blue robes.
Watching him, Bill could see the way the last several days had aged him. He looked worn and nearly defeated as he turned and crossed back the way he’d come.
“Dad, you should sit down,” Bill said, his voice measured. “There’s nothing else to do right now.”
“There has to be something,” Arthur snapped, grief flicking across his expression before the determination returned. “We’re just missing it. She’s out there somewhere.”
“We don’t know…”
“That’s right, we don’t!” his father said, spinning toward him. His eyes were full of an anger born of desperation and pain as he lashed out. “You don’t. I left her in your care and now she’s gone and we don’t know a bloody thing!”
Bill recoiled sharply, his body going cold at his father’s words. Hearing the truth aloud made his heart stumble and his vision blur. All at once his hands started to shake, forcing him to fist them tightly at his sides.
“Arthur,” Dumbledore said sharply, looking over from where he stood with Remus. “We were all here. We’re all responsible for what’s happening now.”
“I know,” Arthur said quickly, his hand wiping over his eyes as he shook his head. He suddenly looked lost before he crossed to where Bill stood frozen. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, gripping his son’s arm hard. “You know I don’t think…this isn’t your fault.”
“Yes, it is,” Bill breathed.
“I should’ve stayed with her.”
“You weren’t the only one here,” Arthur reminded him, echoing Dumbledore’s words. “There’s nothing you could’ve done. I’m just…I’m scared. She could be anywhere…she could be…dead.”
“No,” Bill corrected tightly. “We’d know if she was dead.”
“Yes,” Arthur nodded as he looked away. “But if she’s with him…there’s no telling how long he might…he might…”
Trailing off, he choked out a harsh sob before pressing his palm to his eyes. Bill didn’t breathe as a hundred scenarios of what Harry might be doing to her flashed through his mind. When Arthur dropped his hand a moment later, his face was ashen, but his eyes were dry.
“Albus, we can’t just wait here,” he said gruffly turning suddenly toward the older wizard.
“We’re remaking the potion,” Dumbledore said. “We can’t do anything more until that is ready.”
“That’s not good enough,” Arthur said angrily. “My baby is out there…”
“He doesn’t have anything more to offer, Arthur,” Remus snapped, his voice rising with his frustration. “There’s nothing else we can do. We’re watching for signs of his power, we’re checking the places we know, we’re making the potion. If we knew of any other way to find him, we’d be doing it!”
“If she’s still alive when the potion is finished it could work,” Dumbledore said more calmly. “Ginny will be confused when she wakes, but she would have no reason not to come home. Harry as well will come looking for answers. If she stays alive for a few more hours there’s hope.”
Harry lay on his back, half asleep as he cradled Ginny against him. One hand was buried in her hair, massaging lazy circles on her skull while the other rested on his stomach. The sun was shining through the window and he flicked his fingers, conjuring a thick curtain that blocked most of the light.
Turning his head, he looked at her through heavy eyelids. Her face was peaceful, her tears having dried while she slept. Now her lips curled up in a slight smile. Briefly, he wondered what she was dreaming about before he pressed his nose into her hair and drifted off himself.
Ginny stood in the shower as warm steam curled up from the bottom of the tub. The luxurious clouds smelled like Harry as they surrounded her. Breathing deeply, she smiled when she felt his arms slide around her waist.
The feel of his slick skin touching hers was wonderful and she shut her eyes as she leaned back against him His voice was soft in her ear as he murmured her name.
“Can we stay like this?” she asked.
With a whoosh the dream shifted and they were out in a field. The tall grass tickled Ginny’s ankles while a slight breeze blew the hem of her dress against her legs.
The sun was almost too bright, the colors of the sunflowers and trees so saturated they looked like thick wet paint on a canvas. Everything was beautiful and Ginny sighed as she took it in.
Turning around, she smiled up at Harry, whose hair was flying around his face. Taking his hand, she led him toward the large crystal blue lake in the distance.
The colors danced around them, swirling as they began to run. Laughing as they neared the edge, Ginny spun around, pulling him in a circle before coming to a stop.
She was in his arms an instant later, her mouth pressed against his as her feet dangled over the grass. One of her sandals hung from her toes, but she didn’t notice as he lifted her higher.
…You’re my home. You know that, right?
Gasping at the sound of his voice, Ginny pulled away.
“Did you hear that?” she asked, looking around.
“Yeah,” he answered, smiling. “Don’t you remember?”
…It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?...
…I want to be with you, Ginny. I want forever and always…
…I never really gave up on you. Not really….
…You’re my home, you know that right?..
…Harry! Harry where are you?!...
…Please, marry me…
Their voices echoed through the air, speaking words she’d long forgotten. Lowering her to the ground, Harry’s grip on her hand tightened as they looked around.
“Wow,” Ginny breathed, her eyes wide as she took in the memories surrounding them.
Together they watched ghosts of themselves wander in and out of sight. Above them two figures in Gryffindor robes flew on brooms, racing each other through the sky. Another pair lay on their backs in the grass, Harry’s image lifting his arm to point at something in the sky.
All around them, visions blurred and overlapped, walking and talking or simply embracing as a hundred different moments played out.
By the trees to their left a couple stood together with a faint echo of the Burrow’s kitchen visible around them. Not far from that was a darker memory, a scene that was sinister and rainy as Ginny knelt over Harry’s body.
Shuddering at the image, Ginny looked instead at a younger version of herself who stood at the lake, her hair blowing behind her. After a second, a young Harry ran up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist.
“Look,” Harry said, squeezing her hand and pointing in the direction of another memory.
As Ginny watched, she saw herself running toward Harry with a fierce look of determination. Her younger-self threw her arms around Harry’s neck just before he kissed her.
As she looked the scene seemed to solidify, the colors becoming sharper and bringing the crimson and gold of the Gryffindor common room into focus. When Harry finally pulled his head up, the two figures stared at each other with wide eyes.
Entranced, Ginny remembered the moment like it was yesterday. She knew what would happen next and she waited for Harry to lead her out of the room. They’d walk by the lake, holding hands before eventually kissing again.
Her brow furrowed when the memory seemed to jerk abruptly to a stop, as though someone had hit pause. Instead of releasing her, the shadow of Harry suddenly disappeared. The shadow of Ginny’s eyes widened with fear before she too vanished.
Confused, Ginny looked around. All across the field, her memories began to shimmer and fade. The wind picked up, turning cold as Harry wrapped his arm protectively around her waist.
Glancing up at the gathering clouds, she cried out when Harry yanked her quickly to the right to avoid the falling brooms. Their riders where nowhere to be seen, having disappeared in mid-air.
“Harry?” she asked, frightened as thunder rolled across the sky. “What’s happening?”
“Don’t look,” he told her, pulling her close and pressing her face into his shoulder.
Pushing away, she turned back to where his gaze were trained on the lake. Ginny’s eyes widened when she saw her parents, brothers, Dumbledore and Remus standing around a cauldron. Seeming to have emerged straight from the water, their features were grotesque characterizations as they smiled at her.
The cauldron between them bubbled over unnoticed as its black contents oozed out across the water. Black waves rose up from under them, churning menacingly toward the bank.
“It’s ok, Ginny,” Bill said, reaching out and gesturing her forward.
Around her, the world began to disintegrate. Her memories began to scream as they ran, helpless against the force causing them to slowly disappear. The ones that didn’t were swallowed up by the darkness, sucked down into the wave as it rolled across the field.
“Stop it!” Ginny yelled, looking around frantically as her memories were taken from her, one by one. “Leave them alone! Please stop!”
“It’s better this way,” her father said, reaching toward her.
“Run,” Harry said, pulling her away. “Ginny, run!”
Together they fled, but no matter how fast they ran, the lake and the group of wizards stayed right behind them. The darkness from the cauldron followed them too, slinking around their feet as they stumbled and tripped their way into the trees.
“Ginny!” Harry cried, doubling over suddenly in pain. His arm wrapped around his stomach as he fell to his knees.
“No!” she screamed, cupping his face as he gasped for breath. “It’s ok, Harry,” she told him, holding him close as he pressed his face against her stomach. “You’re hurting him!” she yelled frantically at the others as Harry began to shake, his hand fisting into her dress. “Leave him alone!”
“You can’t have him, Ginevra,” Dumbledore said from behind her. “You know that.”
“No,” Ginny gasped, tears spilling over her cheeks. “No, don’t take him…”
“Gin,” Harry managed, his eyes full of fear when he wrenched his head up. “I love...”
“NO!” she screamed as he vanished. “HARRY!”
Ginny awoke screaming for him, her eyes flying open as she sat bolt upright in bed. Struggling to breathe, she choked on her panic as Harry shot up beside her.
“What is it?!” he demanded, his arms flying around her. “Ginny, what is it?”
“Harry,” Ginny cried, twisting in his embrace and linking her arms tightly around his neck. “I can’t lose you,” she whimpered, feeling him warm and real against her. “I can’t, I…not again…”
“Shhh,” he soothed, stroking her hair. “It was a nightmare. I’m right here.”
“No,” she gasped, clutching him tighter. “No, we have to go back.”
“They’re going to take them,” she choked out, her breath choppy as she trembled.
“Who, Ginny?” Harry asked, trying to make sense of what she was saying. “Take what?”
“Take you. Oh, God, we have to go back.”
“Wait, calm down,” Harry soothed as she pulled away. “Breathe, baby, it was only a dream. Just take a second to...”
“We don’t have time!” she shook her head as she shoved him away and scrambled out of the bed.
“Ginny,” Harry countered, following her. “Stop,” he insisted, reaching for her arm and turning her around to face him. “Talk to me for a second. Tell me what you’re talking about...Who are they and what are they taking?”
“Dumbledore...all of them! It’s what they were trying to do,” she said shakily. “They took the spell off of us to…”
“Wait,” Harry cut her off. “They took it off? On purpose?”
“Yes, to put it back on,” she nodded. “But you woke up. You messed everything up…Harry they don’t know what happened. They think you’re evil. They’re going to put it back on…to take our memories again.”
Swallowing, Harry tried to think back to his memories of waking in the cave. They were jumbled because he’d been so out of control, but he knew Ginny was right. If they still believed he was a threat they’d try to do the spell again.
Not again, he vowed, angry and frightened, his mixing emotions seeming to clamp down on his chest.
“Harry,” Ginny implored. “We have to…”
“Go,” he nodded. “Right now.”
Quickly, he grabbed his wand and pointed it toward the window. A flash of silver shot from the end and streaked away before he turned his attention to the bed. With several flicks of his wand, the sheets and blankets transfigured into two sets of clothes.
“Here,” he said, snatching them up and tossing a white dress to Ginny before beginning to put on his pants.
They dressed quickly, Harry pulling Ginny against him as soon as they were ready.
“We’re not staying long, right?” Ginny asked, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. “I mean…I don’t…”
“Just as long as necessary,” Harry assured her, ducking his face into her hair. “Ready?”
Ginny nodded against him before they Disapparated with a pop.
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