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Once Defied by pennyardelle

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 161,202
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily, Other Pairing

First Published: 06/01/2009
Last Chapter: 04/28/2010
Last Updated: 06/10/2014

Summary:
banner by Alora at The Dark Arts

At the beginning of their seventh and final year at Hogwarts, Lily Evans and James Potter find themselves closer to one another than ever before. With darkness taking over the world around them, they discover that love—the mix of fluttering heartbeats, stolen glances, shared smiles, and squirming stomachs—is the most powerful magic of all.

:: 2012 Dobby Awards Winner for Best Canon ::


Chapter 9: Lion and Serpent



Chapter Nine
Lion & Serpent




Remus did not seem to want to discuss what had happened with Mary any further. Sirius and Peter seemed to have no problem with this, and were constantly pointing out that she was clearly too dramatic and high-maintenance to be worth the trouble, but they had not heard him in the common room that night. What he had said gave James a feeling that the matter was far from finished.

“I hate being me,” he had said, staring at the ground. It was such a depressing pronouncement that it had taken James a few moments to find something to say.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Moony,” was all he could come up with.

“No, I mean it. None of you understand what it’s like. I have to spend the rest of my life like this. Pretending to be someone else,” Remus said. “I won’t ever be happy.”

“Maybe you should give people a chance,” James suggested. “After all, where would the Marauders be if you hadn’t given us a chance?”

Remus grimaced. “It’s not...that’s different. I mean, I can never...I won’t ever be able to...”

At this point, he had buried his face in his hands and James had spotted Lily at the bottom of the stairs. He had no idea what she had said to them, as they were still on speaking-only-when-absolutely-necessary terms, but he hoped she had done better than he had.

For all of Remus’ anguish, he and Mary were friends again by the next day. James was baffled but impressed by his friend’s ability to charm Mary back, and therefore felt it was not his place to criticize. He was obviously not the person to lecture someone else on how to deal with girls, given his pathetic history with Lily.

The next week was a blur of classes and Quidditch practice; before James knew it, it was the morning of the first match. Thick fog was hanging over the grounds, but there seemed to be no threat of inclement weather. The Gryffindor team ate breakfast together (James thought it was a good way to build solidarity before the match) and made their way down to the change rooms.

“Okay,” he said to the team, once they had changed into their Quidditch robes, “we all know we can do this. The word is, Slytherin’s been performing pitifully during training. They replaced two of their Chasers a couple of weeks ago, but as far as I can see, they’ve gone for two trolls who don’t have the brainpower to make a single play.”

Everyone laughed.

“Just stick to what we’ve practiced and we’ll be brilliant. And—er—you might want to watch your back a bit, especially once we’re ahead. Slytherin has the tendency to get a bit violent, but as long as we fly smart, it shouldn’t be a problem. Right, everyone—good luck.”

Madam Hooch, the Quidditch referee, stood in the middle of the pitch. James walked over to her, and the Slytherin captain, Malcolm Roes, joined them. The stands around them were roaring with cheers and catcalls.

“Captains, shake hands,” Madam Hooch said. James barely put his palm to Roes’ hand and withdrew his hand.

“Players, mount your brooms.”

James swung his leg over his broom, returning the glare that Roes was giving him.

Madam Hooch blew her whistle and released the balls into the air. Roes kicked off the ground and immediately torpedoed himself at James, who swerved out of the way just in time.

“Cracking start to the match as Roes tries to take out Potter! Slytherin’s obviously banking on decimating their opponents rather than their own skills.”

Sirius’ voice, magically magnified, filled the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch, followed by boos and hisses from the Slytherins. James caught a glimpse of Professor McGonagall leaning over to Sirius, mid-diatribe, before joining the gameplay. Every so often, when the Quaffle switched possession or he fell behind the play, he could hear Sirius again, usually mingled with increasingly-loud protests from McGonagall.

“...and I’m not sure why Slytherin’s picked such a pixie as their Keeper—”

“Mr Black!”

“Where’s Slytherin’s Seeker? Professor McGonagall needs a word with him.”

“Not him, you!”

Commentary halted for a few moments; James half-expected Sirius to be removed mid-match, but he stopped paying attention when he managed to get a breakaway. He sped down the pitch, the cheers in the stands filling his ears, and he suddenly realized that the Slytherin Keeper, Andrew Delaney, was racing straight at him.

He waited until the last second before he and Delaney would collide, threw the Quaffle at the middle goal post, and turned sideways sharply. His shoulder slammed painfully into Delaney, but he managed to stay on his broom. He could not say the same for Delaney, who had lost balance and turned upside-down on his broom. James looked up just in time to see his shot soar through the hoop.

The red-and-gold mass of Gryffindors was emitting a mixture of cheers for James’ goal and angry yells for Delaney’s foul, while the Slytherin supporters were jeering happily. Madam Hooch awarded Gryffindor a penalty shot for skinning, and James made an easy score.

“Good score by Gryffindor Chaser—can’t quite remember his name at the moment, though. It’s something like Porter...Parker? Perkins?”

James laughed and ducked to avoid a Bludger. For some reason, Sirius’ joke had reminded him of their initial attempts to come up with nicknames. Remus’ had been easy, but James, Sirius, and Peter had tried several unsuccessful rounds of nicknames, including a Words-That-Refer-to-Troublemaking theme, a Physical-Characteristics theme, a Play-on-Last-Names, and the incredibly original Initials theme, all of which had been nixed for different reasons. (Initials were memorably voted down by Sirius, who would have been known as S.O.B.) James had been known at different times as Unruly, Specs, and Planter; he still couldn’t decide which one he hated the most.

Slytherin was next to score, but Gryffindor was quick to respond. James made an excellent reverse pass to Alison, who put the Quaffle deftly into the right hoop. They were now up thirty-ten.

Thirty minutes in, Slytherin had gained the lead by twenty points. Their strategy had become quite clear, and although James thought it was exceedingly stupid, it seemed to be working. Their Beaters kept hitting the Bludgers into the stands whenever the Gryffindors seemed likely to score, leading Madam Hooch to stop the game momentarily until the Bludger could be safely re-introduced into play. It got Slytherin a penalty every time they did it, but it was throwing off Gryffindor’s momentum, and Delaney had become nearly unbeatable when they took their penalties.

“Oliver!” James shouted. “Will you keep the Bludgers away from them when we’re trying to score?”

Oliver had no time to respond, as a Bludger was speeding towards Gareth, and he sped off to try and intercept it. Frustrated, James flew back into the play. Alison and Ursula were making an excellent play towards the Slytherin end. James halted in mid-air and watched Slytherins’ Beaters, waiting to see if they would try bumphing the Bludger again...

Westwicke, one of the Beaters, looked as though he was planning to do just that when Oliver and Devika swept in and hit his intended Bludger together. It shot with amazing force off towards Delaney and hit him squarely in the stomach. He doubled over and Ursula put the Quaffle right over his head.

From that point on, Gryffindor began to catch up, but Slytherin always managed to stay ten points ahead. The game went on for nearly two hours in this manner, and James finally called a time-out.

“Gareth, you’ve got to get the Snitch soon,” he said when the team had grouped together near the sidelines. “The longer we play, the more likely it is that someone’s going to get injured.”

“I’m trying, but Black keeps grabbing hold of my broom,” Gareth said.

“Can’t you hit a few Bludgers at him?” James asked Oliver and Devika.

“We’re trying, but it’s hard enough just keeping them out of the Slytherin Beaters’ reach,” Devika said, hunched over and breathing heavily.

“All right, well, Gareth, do whatever you have to do to catch that Snitch,” James said grimly. “Just try and do it while Madam Hooch isn’t looking.”

They resumed play, Gryffindor continuing to trail Slytherin by ten or twenty points for another half-hour.

“Look at that: signs of life from the Seekers!”

James looked up and saw Regulus holding onto Gareth’s broom. Gareth kicked out at him hard, and James immediately called another time-out. It solved nothing, however; as soon as Gareth and Regulus landed, Gareth hit Regulus hard in the stomach. Other players started to join the mêlée—Ursula threw her broomstick at Shannon Crowe, one of the Slytherin Chasers, and Oliver had to hold Devika back from kicking Delaney in the shin.

“Gareth, stop it!” James yelled, attempting to pull him away from the fight with Regulus. All of sudden, he received a sharp blow to the side of his head. He staggered sideways and saw that Roes had punched him.

As James tried to regain his balance, Oliver swept past him and cracked Roes on the side of his head with the Beaters’ bat. Devika took her chance and punched an unprepared Delaney right in the nose.

“ENOUGH!” Madam Hooch had finally descended upon them all. “All of you, to your own sides, and if one more person commits a foul, both teams will be disqualified.”

The Slytherins resentfully crossed the pitch. Delaney’s nose was bleeding slightly and Roes was having trouble walking in a straight line.

 “Well, we can only hope something that exciting will happen again,” Sirius said to the crowd. “Although, the way this match is going, I wouldn’t hold your breath. In the meantime, I have to congratulate the Gryffindor Beater for her excellent right hook, especially since Delaney’s head is made of solid rock.”

“Sirius Black! Commentators cannot encourage—”

Though Professor McGonagall had stopped the spell that made her voice echo throughout the pitch, she was still yelling loud enough that everyone could hear her.

“—fighting! It is against the rules, and if there is one more problem I will have you banned from all further matches!”

James usually would have found this very funny, but he was so tired and frustrated that he resented anything that did not help them win the match.

“Gareth, just get the Snitch so we can end this,” he said seriously.

But Gareth did not get the Snitch quickly. The game continued for another hour, then another, then another...it was turning into the longest game James had ever played. People had started to leave the stands because they were growing bored with the match. Moreover, it had started to rain slightly.

Westwicke was sent off after another joint Bludger hit by Devika and Oliver smashed into his collarbone. The Slytherins were getting exhausted, James could tell, and he only hoped that they would run out of steam before the Gryffindor team did.

Finally, an hour later, the remaining crowd gasped loudly. James turned around sharply and watched as Gareth sped toward the ground, Regulus on his tail...but where was the Snitch? James squinted but saw no glimmer of gold. A few people screamed in the crowd as the two Seekers hurtled downward, but at the last moment, Gareth pulled out of his dive and lunged upwards instead. Momentary shock registered on Regulus’ face before he ploughed into the ground with an audible thud.

James flew over to where Madam Hooch was examining Regulus, but he was accosted by Gareth mid-flight.

“I got it! I got the Snitch!” He held out his hand and James saw the tiny gold ball beating its wings feebly.

James could not remember a moment where he felt more elated or more relieved. Gareth held the Snitch up for the remaining Gryffindor supporters to see, and they cheered remarkably loud considering there were only about thirty of them left. Regulus was unconscious and Madam Hooch was escorting him to the Hospital Wing, and the Gryffindor Team practically collapsed in the change rooms.

“That was amazing, Gareth,” James said as he lay on one of the benches. "I never would have thought that you could pull off a Wronski Feint."

"A what?" Gareth asked, and James realized that the young Seeker had somehow performed one of the most difficult diversions in Quidditch by accident.

“Yeah, we would’ve put you up on our shoulders all proper, but I can barely support my own weight right now,” Ursula said from where she was splayed out on the ground.

Outside the change rooms, Gareth had a veritable fan-club of four year girls who giggled and followed him up to the castle. Peter and Remus were hanging around near the front steps, waiting for James and Sirius.

“That was a bloody boring match,” Remus said, “just so you know.”

“I think the only thing that kept anyone there was my commentary,” Sirius said dryly as they trudged up the steps. “I think this calls for a massive dose of sugar, courtesy of Honeydukes.”

As they walked up the many floors leading to Gryffindor Tower, they discussed the finer points of the match (there were not many of them, admittedly) and made a list of what to bring back from Honeydukes. There was, as always, a celebration of their victory going on in the common room, but it seemed rather subdued compared to other times. They sat down for a while. James grinned as he saw that Gareth’s fan club was still surrounding him in one of the corners. Figuring that they might as well get a move on if they were going to Honeydukes, he turned to Sirius.

“Padfoot, I’ll go grab the cloak and we can — ”

Sirius, however, had already fallen asleep on a chair, his mouth hanging open slightly.

“Watch,” Peter whispered. He took out his wand and dyed Sirius’ eyebrows shocking pink.

“He looks much better like that,” Remus said. “Don’t worry, Prongs, Wormtail and I will go to Honeydukes instead. You’d better watch after him; other people will do much worse than Peter.”

Peter scrambled up to their dormitory to retrieve James’ Invisibility Cloak, and he and Remus left soon after. James considered taking a nap himself, but decided not to for fear that someone might dye his eyebrows.

“Hi, James,” a voice said from beside him. He looked up and saw Ursula standing next to his chair.

“Hi, Ursula,” he said. “Great job today.”

“Oh, yeah, you too,” she said. “Mind if I sit?”

She sat down and started chatting with him. He was so tired that he was barely listening to half the things she said, but he tried to say “yeah” and “uh-huh” from time to time. His mind drifted to other places, such as whether Lily had watched the match, and how Sirius had done his entire commentary without once insulting his brother.

Eventually Ursula left to join her friends, leaving James waiting for Remus and Peter to return with a snoring Sirius at his side. He ended the day by consuming a mountain of chocolate frogs and falling into bed with a stomach ache.

On Monday, James was eating dinner in the Great Hall when Ursula approached him again.

“Hey, James,” she said. “Listen, I had a really good idea the other day about a play we could practice, and I thought I’d tell you.”

“Oh...er...okay,” James said, slightly taken aback. “Why don’t you...er...sit down?”

“Sure,” Ursula said. She proceeded to tell him all about the new play she had thought up, and their conversation eventually devolved into one on Quidditch in general; even Sirius, who considered himself a knowledgeable spectator, seemed to be impressed by her knowledge of Quidditch teams and leagues. Of course, nothing could have stopped his friends from making fun of him for his new admirer when they returned to Gryffindor Tower.

“In all fairness,” Remus said, after they seemed to have exhausted every possible joke, “she’s not bad at all.”

“Oh, come on,” Sirius said, “she’s obviously a fake. A girl can’t be pretty and know stuff about Quidditch.”

James laughed. “Says the man who wanted to buy a Holyhead Harpies poster from Quality Quidditch Supplies.”

“I just thought their colours would match well with my room,” Sirius replied.

“I’m sure you were thinking about their robes,” Peter said.

“Oh ye of little faith,” Sirius said. “All of you, actually. What’s the plural of ‘ye’?”

“Yees?” Remus offered.

“Right. Oh yees of little faith. I’m not nearly as devilish as you might think. I was actually trying to figure out a way to charm the poster so it would most offend my mother. She hates Quidditch, and scantily-clad Quidditch girls might actually kill her,” said Sirius, and James gave an uncomfortable chuckle. He knew Sirius was exaggerating—or at least he was pretty sure—but he mentioned his family so rarely that it brought instant tension to a conversation.

“She’s not Lily Evans,” Peter stated. It was true, but James was having trouble figuring out whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.



..........




The month of November brought harsh wind, soggy grounds, and grey skies to Hogwarts, but, more alarmingly, the Daily Prophet had started printing reports of ever-escalating danger from Voldemort and his supporters. Lily read many of these articles fervently at breakfast, ignoring Anna’s statements about the Prophet’s lack of journalistic integrity.

Within the first week of November, several alarming developments made the front page of the Prophet. The Ministry was apparently having some difficulty controlling the Dementors, and had stationed over fifty Magical Law Enforcement officers at Azkaban, who were using Patronus Charms to keep them from leaving Azkaban entirely.

“We would like to assure the magical community that the Dementors will not be allowed to leave Azkaban under any circumstances, and that any attempt to do so will result in harsh retaliation,” said Alvin Mockridge, Minister for Magic, late Wednesday evening. Though she was questioned repeatedly on the manner of this retaliation, she maintained that such information is classified and could lead to a serious security vulnerability if made public.

Despite multiple reports originating from the Liverpool area of Dementors attacking unwitting Muggles (to whom Dementors appear invisible), the Minister of Magic emphatically stated that, “these reports have been investigated and deemed false. Not a single Dementor is outside Ministry control.”

These reports have intensified the public outcry for harsher action by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, who could not be reached for comment.

In addition to rebellious Dementors, there were stories of a dramatic increase in the number of werewolf attacks in past weeks.

A young girl was found severely wounded by an alleged werewolf attack on Friday morning. Her case is the thirty-fifth reported in less than two weeks.

Officials from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures have voiced conflicting opinions about these attacks. Newt Scamander, recently-retired Head of the Beast Division, believes that these attacks are indeed the work of werewolves. From his Dorset home, Scamander said, “The evidence that I know of points firmly in the direction of werewolf attacks. Such a high volume of attacks in a short span is extremely unnatural, and suggests some sort of coordination among the werewolf population. The Ministry would do well to investigate into what sort of motivation might be behind such an effort.”

Bertram Lawrence, a senior official who routinely works with werewolves, told this reporter that, “Over half of these attacks have not yet been fully investigated. I question the wisdom of labelling these all ‘werewolf attacks’ when they have not been confirmed as such. Doing so can only serve to create hysteria among the general populace, and I urge the magical community to wait until our investigations have been fully carried out.”

As the debate rages on, the spokesperson for the Wizarding Families Alliance, Guinevere Constance, commented on the attacks at a public rally on Thursday. Constance advocated the segregation of all semi-human creatures, including werewolves, from the wizarding population. The WFA’s controversial Family Protection Act, which proposes that the Ministry make public the names of all werewolves, vampires, and half-giants, is currently in its second reading by the Council of Magical Law.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour was also being investigated after several people had been poisoned after enjoying sundaes, there had been a mass attack in an upscale London neighbourhood, and an Auror spokesperson stated that they had received indicators that Voldemort was planning on moving more aggressively in months to come, and that the wizarding community should be on high alert.

Every day there seemed to be a new tale of death, injury, or warning on the front page of the Daily Prophet, and Lily could not help but remember the Sorting Hat’s warning about the worst being yet to come...it looked like it had been right after all. A feeling of dread seemed to follow her around constantly; she had not even bothered going to watch the first Quidditch match, and had stayed in her dormitory doing homework instead.

Her dread was replaced by anxiety when Professor McGonagall told her that a career planning day had been organized for the beginning of December, and that she was expected to help coordinate it as Head Girl.

“What does coordinating involve?” she asked, sincerely hoping that it was not an avalanche of extra work.

“Greeting the career representatives and showing them to the tables we’ve set up, for the most part,” Professor McGonagall replied. “We generally expect the Head Boy and Girl to outshine most of the silliness of the rest of the seventh years so they seem competent and employable.”

“Right,” Lily said uncertainly. She did not think she would be good at outshining anything.

“Here is a list of all the representatives that are coming, so that you can familiarize yourself with their names,” Professor McGonagall said. “I already gave one to Potter.”

Lily was reminded that she was once again going to be forced to spend time with James. Every time she was near him, she harboured a hope that he would apologize and they would go back to being friends, but it never happened.

So, in addition to studying Transfiguration charts and incantations, Lily tried to memorize the names of Ministry officials, shop owners, journalists (Anna’s sister was not among them—according to Anna, she was swamped with wedding plans), Quidditch players, and many more people.

Lily almost thought the career day would be cancelled less than a week in advance when chaos hit close to Hogwarts. A near-riot had broken out in Hogsmeade, leaving storefronts smashed and a slew of products stolen. It was not surprising; given how distracted Magical Law Enforcement was, crime was sweeping through wizarding villages. Hogsmeade’s proximity to Hogwarts and Dumbledore had made it seem safer, and it was sobering for those inside and outside of the school to find that this was not the case.

Lily was so surrounded by frustration and worrying news that she could hardly concentrate on anything. She wished more than ever that she and James were still speaking. They could have commiserated over the career day, and James would have known exactly what to say to take her mind off of Hogsmeade being vandalized and robbed. She could almost imagine him smirking and making some offhand joke about it.

When Professor Dearborn asked her to see him after class one afternoon, she was sure that it was about the essay she had written on curse-breaking. She was sure she had never written a worse essay in her entire school career, and it was surely bad enough to warrant a lecture from her professor.

“No need to look so frightened, Miss Evans,” Professor Dearborn said.

“If this is about my essay, I can rewrite it,” Lily said.

“Essay?” Professor Dearborn asked, puzzled.

“Erm...the curse-breaking one?” Lily said.

“Oh, right, yes,” Dearborn sputtered. “What grade did I give you?”

Lily had to suppress a laugh. “You haven’t handed them back yet.”

“Hm,” Professor Dearborn said. “I’ll have to find where those got to.”

Lily was slightly comforted by the thought that Professor Dearborn might never read her terrible essay.

“No, Miss Evans, I wanted to ask if you’ve been having any problems with the Slytherins lately,” he continued. Lily was taken aback—how did Dearborn know she had been having problems with them in the first place?

“What problems?”

“Hagrid told me he found you about to curse the Mulciber boy in half.”

Lily bit her lip. Was she about to be punished? There was no telling with Dearborn.

“It was nothing,” Lily lied. “I’m sure you know how famously we Gryffindors get along with Slytherins.”

“The Head Girl makes a habit of cursing other students?”

Lily consider.

“I leave that to the Head Boy, actually,” she said, hoping that humour would work as well on Dearborn as it did on Slughorn. To her relief, he laughed.

“I don’t mean to reprimand you,” Dearborn said, “although I should discourage someone who knows so much about hexes from duelling with other students.”

“It was self-defence,” Lily said, “if that makes it any better.”

“I figured as much. I think it's impressive that you're willing to stand up for yourself.”

Lily shrugged. “It was nothing.”

“On the contrary. Having the courage to stand up to someone is never 'nothing’. There are few people in my classroom that will ever take any of the lessons they’ve learned in this class to heart.”

“Judging by how busy Madam Pomfrey is, I think a lot of people already have,” Lily said, although she could not think of many lessons anyone would have learned from Dearborn.

“Those aren’t the lessons I mean. It takes no courage to throw Bat-Bogey Hexes or Full Body-Bind Curses at your classmates; in fact, it takes a specific kind of cowardice. Fighting the Dark Arts is about much more than that.”

Lily suddenly gained much more respect for Dearborn. He might not plan the greatest lessons or keep track of essays, but he did understand Defence Against the Dark Arts. He understood it the way Lily always had, though it had taken until now for her to realize it.

“Well, I’m sure you have homework to do,” Dearborn said.

“It wouldn’t be seventh year if I didn’t,” Lily replied.

“Hang on to that courage, Miss Evans.”

Lily felt significantly happier as she headed to Gryffindor Tower. Her conversation with Dearborn had taken one more thing off her mind: suspicion over where the professor had come from. She no longer minded if his appointment at Hogwarts seemed slightly mysterious. Wasn't the fact that he was a good teacher all that really mattered? As she reached the seventh floor, she made a mental note to reassure James as well, but then remembered that they were no longer speaking.

Her happiness was diminished when she saw Mary and Remus talking outside the portrait hole. When had they become friends again? And for that matter, why?

“Hi,” she said, clearly spoiling a very nice moment between her two friends, or at least what they saw as a nice moment. Lily saw it as one step closer to another breakdown.

“Hi, Lily,” Remus said. “Sorry, I can’t stay. I promised I’d help Peter finish his Potions essay.”

“Yes, I think you should go do that,” Lily said pointedly, half-glaring at him. She and Mary followed him into the common room; once he had disappeared up the spiral staircase, Lily raised her eyebrows at her friend.

“Lily, don’t look at me like that.”

“Don’t look at you like what? Like you’ve forgiven a bloke who put you into tears?”

“He apologized,” Mary explained.

“And that was it?”

“What else should he have done? Leave me alone and pretend like he didn’t care?”

Lily did not know if Mary was purposely drawing parallels between what had happened with her and James, but it did nothing to persuade her.

“I just want to be happy, Lily.”

“Well, you’re going about it the wrong way. He’s just going to end up making you miserable again,” Lily said. Surprisingly, Mary smiled.

“I don’t think he will,” she said.

Lily was still not convinced. She could not believe that both Mary and Remus were ignoring everyone else’s advice. Although, now that she thought about it, maybe Remus was following James’ advice; it was the only explanation for why he could be exercising such poor judgment. She quickly dismissed that thought from her mind, though—if James were involved, Remus certainly wouldn't have apologized. Perhaps Remus should take a turn giving advice.


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