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Chapter 15 : Don't Let Them Say You Ain't Beautiful
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I was thirteen. It was little less than two months before I would start my first year at Beauxbatons, and I was living with my dad. My mum hadn’t sent me a letter since I left, my dad hadn’t been around for much longer, and the emptiness was starting to get to me. I was used to always having my mum around, doting on me, cooking me my favorite meals, and now I was trapped in a house, with nothing as company except my own thoughts. It was suffocating.
I had started eating better a couple of weeks ago, and I was finally starting to see results, but it didn’t make me feel better. I felt like I was still ugly, like no matter what, I could lose as much weight as I wanted and nothing would change. I wasn’t happy, and I probably never would be.
I hadn’t eaten all day since I’d slept through most of it, and I started to look around the kitchen for something to eat. My dad hadn’t gone grocery shopping in weeks, and when I opened the cupboard to see what we had, I saw two unopened peanut butter jars, sitting there side by side, as if they had appeared out of nowhere, just for me. I’d been having a hard day, harder than usual. I was missing my mum, missing my old sister, missing my old family, and staring at my old comfort. So before I knew it, I found myself grabbing the jars, and heading to my room. Once I entered I closed the door, separating myself from any sense of sanity.
And as soon as the door closed, I began to eat. It was like all the days I had denied myself a treat I was making up for with those jars. I couldn’t stop eating. The peanut butter reminded me of all the times I had needed someone, and I knew that now I needed someone the most. So I ate. I finished both jars, I’d even scraped around the sides making sure I got everything, it was almost as if they were clean.
It was after I was finished, that the self-loathing set in, as always. I had let myself break. I was reverting back to my old ways. My stomach felt heavy and suddenly, everything I had ever hated about myself flashed past me: my inability to stand up for myself, the way I let people effect me, the fact that no matter what everything seemed to wind up wrong. My stomach was exploding in pain and all I could think of was the weeks of self-discipline that were now disintegrating right in front of my eyes.
Then, I had a thought so simple and fleeting that it almost flitted by. Almost. And suddenly, I was overcome with this feeling of pure desperation.
I needed to get it out of me.
So I walked to the bathroom, my stomach groaning in fullness, and I looked around for something—anything—to help me. That’s when I spotted it. My flowery purple toothbrush, sitting in its holder, staring me in the face.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was grabbing it, and suddenly I was hunched over the toilet bowl, tears streaming down my face, and everything was finally out of me. But then the self-loathing returned, my tears turned into full out sobs, and I didn’t stop until my father came home, hours later.
This day became the toothbrush incident: the day in my life I had never been more ashamed of myself, of everything I had ever done. It’s the day I still revisit whenever I’m feeling low, to remind myself just how far I could fall.
But sitting here, in the astronomy tower, I wasn’t sure which day was worse. Because right now, I was feeling the exact same. The self-loathing, the shame, it was all returning to me in one huge blast, and I couldn’t let it go.
I wasn’t sure how long I’d been here. It had to be a couple hours at the least. The sun had set long ago, and there was nothing but moonlight illuminating the room as I continued to fold into myself and let myself cry for the first time since before the summer started. I cried about my family, I cried about what had happened, I cried about myself, and the fact that I would never be able to find happiness without something awful happening to me in return.
My face was bent into my knees and I wished I could disappear. That the room could swallow me whole and suddenly I wouldn’t exist anymore. Just one pop, and I’d be gone.
However, as the muffled sound of my sobs continued to echo throughout the room, I heard another noise. One that sounded an awful lot like footsteps and I felt myself look up and there, coming through the door, was James Potter, some large and mangled piece of parchment in hand that he was now tucking into his pocket. He really knew how to get me at my worst.
He looked at me, sitting there with tears streaming down my face, my hair in a state of disarray, and his expression seemed to change into something inscrutable. We both stayed in the same spot for what felt like forever, the silence stretching out before us so taught and thin, that I knew it could break any second.
“Are you…” he started to ask, but then seemed to think better of it and rephrased his question. “How are you?”
How are you?
Moments started flickering through my head. All of them crashing against each other as I tried to focus on all of the thoughts at once. It was like a dusty old film, playing in one long and continuous loop: Madison and James always together, James constantly coming up and apologizing to me despite his friends hating me, the angered face of Madison as she watched me leave the library, the picture used in the Great Hall.
And then everything suddenly clicked. It was like somewhere inside my brain, a light bulb had flickered on, casting light on everything that had happened.
As soon as I made this realization, I suddenly felt icy hot anger rush through me, one that went deep into my core, and all of a sudden I was pissed. James had been the one to take the picture; he was the one who had given it to Madison. And most of all, he had been the one to hang the pictures up. Madison and Elise weren’t smart enough to use a charm that made it hard to take the pictures down, they had needed outside help, and James was probably one of the smartest people when it came to charms. Not to mention James and Madison were always together. Who else would’ve helped them?
I finally understood why he’d been trying to get on my good side. He’d been lulling me into a false sense of security, so that I wouldn’t see it coming. So I’d be hurt more than I could ever have expected. He hadn’t changed, no matter how fleeting a moment I thought he might’ve.
I wiped the tears off my face and stood up as tall as I could, my face conveying nothing but pure, unadulterated hate. “What the sodding hell, are you doing here?”
“Um,” James looked at me worriedly, “I was just trying to check up—”
“Check up?” I asked, laughing hysterically at this. “Just drop the act James. Stop pretending like this wasn’t all part of your goddamn plan.”
“Plan?” James asked, suddenly looking confused. Oh he was a good actor, someone ought to nominate him.
“Yes, James,” I stated darkly. “I’m not stupid! I know you helped Madison and Elise do this, they’re hardly smart enough to do this on their own.”
“SHUT UP!” I bellowed, not wanting to hear James say anymore. “Just shut up, James!”
James closed his mouth and looked at me, as if he was frightened I was about to go off the deep end and murder him. And I suddenly just felt so tired. All of the energy I had just had was sinking out of me fast, and all I wanted was to be alone.
“Leave me alone, please,” I said softly. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted from you and Freddy. All I ever wanted was to wake up one day and not hate myself. All I ever wanted was to not cry myself to sleep. All I ever wanted was for people to accept me and I finally had that. Why did you take it away from me?”
“But you did,” I stated, tears forming in my eyes again and my voice growing thick, “you did.”
“Corinne, I’m sor—”
“Stop saying you’re sorry!” I interrupted my voice brinking on the edge of hysteria. “Sorry isn’t good enough and it never will be. Now leave me the fuck alone.”
And as he stood there, staring at me open-mouthed, I pushed past him and left the astronomy tower, not knowing where the hell to go.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Emeric Switch has managed to become a good friend of mine. It only seemed fitting, for me to totally jump to conclusions and hate him for creating a Transfiguration textbook, only to have that book be my escape from reality. Maybe this was karma for judging him so quickly.
“Corinne, don’t you just want to talk about it?” Wyatt asked, not being able to stand the silence any longer, and looking up from the essay he was writing.
Talking about it would mean accepting it had happened, and I was fine with pretending none of it had. Maybe I could even trick myself enough to actually believe that it hadn’t happened.
Hey it was worth at shot, wasn’t it?
“Because, I don’t.”
“Yes, but why?”
“Because I don’t.”
“Wyatt,” I said seriously, looking up from my book and giving him an unwavering stare, “Stop.”
“It’s not just me that’s worried you know!” Wyatt exclaimed. “Dom, Chaise and Ty are all freaking out because they haven’t seen you since it happened!”
“It’s been one day.”
“Yes and now it’s halfway through lunch time and I’m hungry and we’re all worried about you and you need to talk about it,” Wyatt stated. He gave me a level stare as he said this, as if daring me to argue.
I exhaled sharply as I thought over my response. After my argument with James, I had gone to the second floor bathroom, since I knew nobody ever went there because of Moaning Myrtle. I had locked myself into a stall and stayed there until the sky had changed from it’s inky black to streaky purples and withering pinks. Once I was sure breakfast was underway, I had walked through the deserted halls to the library, and sat at a table nobody ever went to because it was surrounded by bookcases.
However, Wyatt had managed to find me, I still wasn’t sure how, and he had yet to say anything to me up until this point. He had been sitting with me for the past hour while I refused to say anything, reading through page after page, his company being more than enough.
“Go to lunch then. Have fun and tell them all I’m fine and that they can quit worrying,” I responded, rolling my eyes.
“I’m not going if you’re not,” Wyatt stated simply, leaving no room for argument.
“Well then we’re not going. I refuse to ever set foot into the Great Hall again,” I declared, looking back down at my book, letting him know the situation was closed.
I heard Wyatt let out a sigh, as he looked back down at his essay. There were smudges of ink all over it, and his uneven scrawl was hardly legible, which meant he would have to re-write it once he finished. Oh the unfairness of it all.
“I’m sorry that they did that to you, Corinne,” Wyatt said softly. “I had no idea it was that bad.”
I looked up at Wyatt, the sincerity in his eyes overpowering every other emotion on the rest of his face. He didn’t think any less of me because of the picture; maybe it was stupid of me to assume he would. I felt a lump in my throat, at the fact that he was being so incredibly sweet to me and tears prickled the back of my eyes. I didn’t deserve his kindness, I really, truly didn’t, but I got it anyway.
And that’s when the realization hit me. Maybe that was the point of having best friends. They were there to give you what you didn’t deserve. They weren’t supposed to put you up on a pedestal; they were supposed to be there, waiting to help you back up when you fell.
“Thank you,” I responded as my voice started to waver, trying to convey to Wyatt just how much his friendship meant. And as always, he just nodded his head, already knowing what I was trying to say.
“What’s this?” I asked, looking up at Roxanne Weasley, who was standing in front of me, fiddling with the ends of her hair, and biting her bottom lip.
“Well… um… I figured you were probably… hungry,” Roxy said, her voice tentative with a hint of worry, “You didn’t come during breakfast… or lunch.”
Wyatt, who was still sitting next to me in the library, grabbed the lunch bag of food out of her hand and started to rifle through it immediately. He pulled out a biscuit and bit a huge chunk out of it, chewing on it appreciatively.
“Thanks, Roxanne,” Wyatt said, shooting Roxy a smile that she returned timidly.
“It’s Roxy, I hate Roxanne,” she responded. She was still fiddling with her hair and looking at me with worry, as if wanting my approval.
I remained silent as I studied her, not quite sure what to think. Her raven colored hair was pulled into a loose side-braid, and her chocolate colored eyes were staring at me with concern. Why was she— the best friends of the two girls that hated me the most— helping me?
Wyatt, noticing that I had yet to say anything, shot me a look. “Yeah… Thanks, I suppose,” I said to Roxy.
I then looked back down at my Charms book, which I had pulled out after finishing my Transfiguration one. I began to scan the page, as I felt Roxy still standing there, her shadow casting itself over me and causing the words on the page to swim in front of me.
“Madison and Elise are cows,” Roxy said, after the silence had stretched out for far too long. “I didn’t know what they were doing, or I would’ve stopped them. I swear.”
I looked up at Roxy who had finally stopped fiddling with her hair and was staring at me with an unyielding gaze. There was something about the way her eyes looked at that moment that caused me to believe her. Call me crazy, but I just felt somewhere deep in my gut that she was telling the truth.
“I know,” I responded, because I guess I did know, deep down, that she wouldn’t have done this.
I expected Roxy to leave after this, to figure she had a deed well done, but she continued to stand there, as if waiting for something.
“Would you like to sit down?” Wyatt suggested, while I shot him a confused look. Since when had he become Mr. Friendship? I mean… I know I believed her, but we were hardly friends.
Roxy nodded her head eagerly as if this was what she had been waiting to hear all along, and sat down across from us. She reached into the bag of food she had brought for me and pulled out a cauldron cake, which made it clear that she hadn’t just taken food from the Great Hall. She had actually gone out of her way to put other food in it. But why? She began to unwrap the cauldron cake, the crackling of the wrapper causing me to cringe.
“They got two weeks worth of detention for it, you know,” Roxy explained, even though I hadn’t asked. I figured she was the type to volunteer more information than necessary when it came to awkward situations.
“How’d McGonagall know it was them?” Wyatt asked.
“Not sure,” Roxy replied, shrugging her shoulders, “Someone must’ve ratted them out.”
“I guess karma’s a bitch,” Wyatt stated simply.
“No, that’s Madison and Elise,” Roxy shot back, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly.
“Touché,” Wyatt responded a smile tugging at his lips. Then, he looked at me seeming to realize something, and passed the bag of food Roxy had brought over to me. “Take some.”
I sighed and reached my hand into the bag, pulling out a roll of pumpkin bread, which I began to eat slowly. Wyatt, seeming satisfied with this, turned back to Roxy who was still looking at me.
“I told them off for what they did,” Roxy said again, trying to make an effort to include me in the conversation. But the thing was, I didn’t want to be included. I didn’t feel like putting in the effort to act like I was fine, and everything would be okay. “And I—I told Madison I didn’t know if I could be friends with someone like that.”
After she said this, I found myself looking directly at Roxy. I took in the indignant look in her eyes, and the way her gaze seemed to be fixated on my reaction. And let’s just say my reaction was shock. Shock that Roxy had stood up for herself, and even more shock that she had stood up for me. “But she’s your best friend.”
Roxy’s face changed from one of indignation to one of sadness as I said this. Like there was something so delicate inside of her that was about to break.
“I know,” Roxy said, looking down at her hands, “But I don’t think I was ever really hers.”
When I woke up the next morning, I immediately knew there was something wrong. It just didn’t… feel right. You know what I mean? When you’re so used to waking up to something constant, and then all of a sudden it’s shifted.
I opened my eyes, and immediately knew what was wrong. There was sun, blazing hot and glaringly bright, coming in through the windows. I hadn’t seen the sun in what felt like weeks, with the whole overcast humidity and drizzles of rain becoming the norm that I had almost forgot it existed. Another out of the ordinary thing I noticed was that Dominique Weasley was standing above me in a ruffly blue polka dotted bikini, one hand on her hip while her other was holding a fluffy pillow.
“It’s time to get up Sleeping Beauty,” Dom announced, throwing the pillow on top of me with an amazing amount of force, causing me to let out a grunt and Milo, who was curled up next to me to meow, despite the fact he wasn’t actually hit. “It’s beautiful outside and you’re not wasting another second indoors.”
“Yes, I am,” I stated, my voice a bit muffled by the pillow.
“No,” Dom said powerfully, “You’re not.”
I looked at Dom, who had a glint of determination in her eye, her face seeming set in her decision. She then opened her mouth again. “I let you wallow all of yesterday with Wyatt, and I didn’t say anything when you snuck back into the dorm past curfew when you knew the trolls were fast asleep, so it’s time for you to get up and face your fears.”
“And how am I going to do that?” I asked curiously.
“By putting this on,” Dom said, shoving a red polka dotted bikini that matched hers, onto my bed, “and coming outside with me to tan. The weather hasn’t been this beautiful in forever, and we need to take advantage of it.”
“There’s no way I’m putting that on,” I said, looking at Dom in disbelief. I was publicly humiliated in front of the whole school for being fat, and her solution was to wear a bikini? Dom never ceased to surprise me with her gall.
“Oh but you are,” Dom stated, telling me I was not to argue. “Everyone else is outside waiting for us. The guys want to see you, they’re worried.”
“Dom,” I said slowly, “I really don’t feel like seeing anyone.”
“And I don’t care,” Dom said, sitting on my bed and locking her eyes with mine. “As your best friend, I refuse to let you become a hermit. It’s what they wanted to happen you know.”
I knew by ‘they’ she meant Madison and Elise. They had obviously humiliated me because they wanted to hurt me, to knock me down a peg and remind me of what I was. And by not doing anything, I was letting them win.
“I don’t know…” I said unsurely, as I broke my gaze with Dom and looked at my hands. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to face anyone.”
“Well you’re going to be ready in the next ten minutes,” Dom stated, standing up looking all business. “Because then I’m dragging you downstairs and we’re going to tan and have a swim in the Black Lake, while you show to the school you’re hot bod. No ifs, ands, or buts.”
I was never, at this moment, more thankful to have Dominique Weasley as my best friend.
“Okay,” I said after a long moment. Then, I picked up the red bikini and walked into the bathroom, letting the door close softly behind me.
After the last wizarding war, when Hogwarts got completely trashed by Death Eaters, there were a lot of renovations that went on in order to fix up the school. Memorials were placed all around the grounds, the classrooms that had gotten demolished were rebuilt and re-decorated, the Forbidden Forrest had gotten fenced off. Everything had become more controlled, in order to make Hogwarts a safer environment.
During one of these renovations, the school board decided that the Black Lake was a hazard, with first years constantly falling into the lake and the Giant Squid threatening to eat them up, and so they put a lot of time and effort into fixing it up. The Ministry cleaned the lake, took all the sea creatures out of it and instead put them into a controlled habitat, and actually made the lake… swimmable. It was no longer black, and instead was a light blue color, but the name of it didn’t change. I guess it was used for too long to have people suddenly call it the Blue Lake.
So now, there Dom and I stood, each wearing a sheer white cover-up over our matching bikinis, and watching as the students of Hogwarts surrounded the lake, some swimming in it, some sunbathing, and some sitting under the large tree and watching everything unfold.
“I can’t believe the weather’s so nice today,” Dom stated, as we stood on the steps of the Hogwarts castle, taking in the scene. “I mean I know it’s called Sunday but who knew that it was called that because of the weather.”
I rolled my eyes at Dom’s lame excuse at a joke, which caused her to glare at me, pretending to be offended.
“Well the guys told me that they’d be on the left side of the lake,” Dom said grabbing my arm and starting to pull me across the schoolyard. “Let’s not make them wait any longer.”
As we walked towards the left side of the lake, I noticed the students of Hogwarts eyeing me. Their faces were curious, most of them probably wondering what I was doing out in public, after the huge spectacle on Friday. I didn’t meet any of their gazes however, and stared straight ahead, acting like I didn’t see the stares I was getting. I noticed a couple girls whisper to each other as I passed, and there were several points where I just wanted to turn around and go back inside, but Dom was gripping my arm tightly—probably because she suspected I would try to escape— and I had no choice but to follow her.
We arrived at the place the guys said they were going to be at and realized none of them were there. I scanned the groups of people and saw Tyson surrounded by a group of seventh year Hufflepuff girls, doing his typical flirt routine.
“There’s my girl,” Chaise said, making his appearance known as he walked up to Dom, slinging his arm around her shoulder. The two of them smiled at each other like grinning idiots, and I had that whole third-wheel feeling all of a sudden.
“And there’s my guy,” Dom said back to him, a flirty smile coming across her face. She threaded her hand through his, and they started to give each other loving stares.
“And what am I, chopped liver?” I asked, pretending to look offended.
“Definitely not,” a voice I recognized—Tyson’s— said, grabbing me around the waist and picking me up. I let out a small laugh as he set me down, and looked back to the group of Hufflepuffs he had been talking to, who were now shooting me the stink eye.
“Well at least someone appreciates me,” I stated jokingly, crossing my arms and giving Dom and Chaise an offended look.
“We all appreciate you!” Tyson said, looking at Dom and Chaise who nodded their heads profusely.
“Course we do,” Chaise started.
“You are the wind in my sails, the light during the dark, the magic in my wand,” Dom rambled dramatically.
Tyson and Chaise laughed while I just offered a weak smile. Tyson noticed this and decided now was the time to pull me aside, while Dom and Chaise continued being their couple selves.
“Co, are you okay?” Tyson asked looking at me worriedly. It was weird to see Tyson, the king of jokes, having a moment of sensitivity.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I snapped, even thought I wasn’t sure what I was. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
“Because we care about you,” Tyson said, looking taken aback at my tone. I found myself instantly feel bad for how I had acted and my voice softened.
“I know, Ty,” I said. “Sorry… I just… Want to forget it. You know?”
Tyson nodded his head as he said this, as if he understood perfectly and then he slung an arm around my shoulder. “And forget we will.”
“So you don’t hate me because of what happened?” I asked, voicing the worries I had felt ever since the pictures of my old self had been revealed.
“Those pictures mean nothing,” Tyson stated. “As hard as it might be to believe, you’re my best mate because of your personality, not your looks.”
“Aw, Ty. You aren’t as shallow as you seem,” I stated, ruffling Tyson’s hair and smiling at him. “Can’t say I’m not a little surprised.”
“Always have to ruin a beautiful moment with your insults, don’t you?”
“I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t,” I replied as we walked back and joined Dom and Chaise, who were now arguing over the merits of feta vs. gouda cheese. Yeah, I’m not sure how that topic came to be either.
“So, where’s Wyatt?” Dom asked, breaking away from her argument with Chaise.
“He’s talking to that cousin of yours… the one with the nice rack,” Tyson responded. I gave him a shove as he said this, to which he pretended to be pissed off at me.
“You need to not objectify women,” I said sternly.
“But they’re here for me to objectify,” Tyson said gesturing to all the random Hogwarts girls who were loitering around the lake in their bathing suits.
“Women are people you know. They don’t just want to be ogled—”
“Wait so which cousin of mine is he with?” Dom said, interrupting what would have been a long ramble of me telling Tyson that girls actually have feelings.
“I told you,” Tyson said looking annoyed. “Nice rack, dark hair, tan skin.”
“Roxy?” I suggested.
“Yes!” Tyson said snapping his fingers. “That was her name!”
Dom rolled her eyes at Tyson’s forgetfulness, while I scanned Hogwarts grounds and finally found them. They were sitting by the lake, Roxy dangling her feet into the water as she chattered a mile a minute, while Wyatt nodded his head seriously next to her.
“Oi now, take those froufee things off and let’s go into the lake,” Chaise said to Dom and me, gesturing to our cover-ups.
Dom and I rolled our eyes and flung off our cover-ups while the guys wolf whistled at us, causing a bunch of the Hogwarts students to look our way in curiosity.
Then, Tyson and Chaise ran back into the lake, gesturing for us to follow. Dom and I ran as fast as we could to catch up with them, and just as Tyson was about to hit the lake I jumped onto his back, causing us both to topple over into the water.
The water was a cool relief. Surrounding me and pulling me into my own sense of calm. I stayed underwater a bit longer than necessary as I let it seep into my skin, and then I pushed myself back up to the surface.
“You’re—so—dead,” Tyson sputtered, once the both of us resurfaced, our hair slicked back from our faces.
“Oh really now?” I said starting to swim away from him. “I’d like to see you prove that.”
“You better swim fast,” Tyson shouted as I continued my escape from him, “because I am going to kill you.”
As he said this, I felt something bubble up inside of me, and I let the laugh I’d been holding out. It was like nothing had changed. Like the Great Hall debacle hadn’t happened at all. Tyson was still Tyson, Chaise was still Chaise, and Wyatt was still Wyatt.
They were still my mates. My best mates. And I guess I knew somewhere, deep down, that nothing could’ve really changed that.
So after our hands and feet had gotten particularly pruny and we had played Marco Polo enough times to be able to guess each other’s moves, we finally finished swimming. Over the past couple of hours Wyatt, Roxy, and some other people from Beauxbatons had joined us in our swimming, and I suddenly made another realization.
Friends weren’t something optional. They weren’t something you could just choose not to have. They were something much, much deeper. They were family. They were a shoulder to cry on. They were the confidence I found that I had lost. They were the ones to see you at your worst, the ones who knew your deepest darkest secrets, and even then they still stuck it out. But most of all, friends were the people who chose not to judge you, despite your flaws, and didn’t care what anyone else thought.
A/N: Alrighty my amazing readers, there you go, the followup chapter. I hope it didn't disappoint?
And I'll just say this here in case you have questions but Coco does NOT have an eating disorder. It just happened once when she was feeling very low. I've known since the first chapter that I would include it in the story (if you read the first paragraph of the first chapter you'll see the foreshadowing) and I thought now was the time to reveal the little secret of hers. I hope you guys don't hate the secret, but I felt it was a part of Coco's character that you all needed to know.
I'm sorry it took so long for me to get out this chapter. There's been a lot of stuff going on, with having to evacuate my house from Hurricaine Irene and one of my family members dying, so things have been a bit difficult... But I'm managing.
Anyways, onto my ramble of questions: What do you think about Coco's talk with James? Do you think James helped M&E? What about Coco and Wyatt's talk? What about ROXY? Do you love her, or do you love her? And the guys reactions, where they what you thought?
Alright that's all I have to ask, please review if you'd like and let me know what you think. Hopefully you guys liked the chapter? And speaking of review, may I just say I was overwhelmed by the lovely response I got from the last chapter? You're all amazing, I gotta say.
Thank you all for being such wonderful readers, honestly I don't know if I'd be this far without you guys.
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