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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 15: Forgotten and Remembered



Chapter Fifteen
Forgotten & Remembered




Revived friendship with Lily had led James wordlessly back to their office on certain evenings, knowing that he would find Lily there. It was like a strange barometer of how well they were getting along, for neither of them had been back there since their argument in October, as far as James knew. Besides the fact that it was the perfect opportunity to try to charm her, it also gave him the chance to tell her his new idea (which, as it happened, was partially about spending even more time with her).

He started by letting her help him with Potions homework, because he knew that it would put her in a good mood. Given her general apathy about being Head Girl, he figured he was going to need all the advantages he could get.

“I don’t know what I’d do without your help,” James said, after Lily had explained how to make a very complicated antidote that they were likely to be tested on during their N.E.W.T.s. Lily raised an eyebrow, but a gratified smile spread across her face.

“Probably get just an ‘Acceptable’ instead of an ‘Outstanding’ in Potions,” she replied.

“You must be pretty confident, claiming you can get me an ‘Outstanding’,” James teased; he suddenly saw the perfect segue. “Could you make that guarantee to anyone?”

Lily stared at him, confused, a sight which James always relished. It was not easy to puzzle her.

“Pardon?”

“Well, I’m just wondering,” James said, pausing to enjoy how well he had set this up, “if you really could help someone get an ‘Outstanding’ in Potions.”

“Are you doubting my intelligence?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.

“Not at all. Let’s say a fifth-year wanted help with their Potions O.W.L., though,” James said, but the rest of his explanation was interrupted by a trilling laugh from Lily.

That’s what you’re on about,” she said, doodling asterisks at the edge of her notes. “I can’t believe you’re back on this Head-Boy-Hero kick.”

James paused, suppressing his indignation. “I’m not on any kick,” he said, “except for Quidditch. But that one’s been around for years.”

“James,” Lily said, putting down her quill and leaning forward, placing her forearms on the desk, “it’s nice, what you’re trying to do, but I don’t have the time, or the sanity, to tutor fifth years in Potions.”

“We’ll get the sixth-year prefects to do it, then,” James said excitedly. He had expected her to make this objection.

“Oh, I’m sure they’ll love that,” she said, rolling her eyes in amusement.

“Come on, Lily. We haven’t done anything useful this year,” James said, his voice verging on a whine. He hoped Lily was the type of person to take pity on whining.

“Nothing useful? Are you kidding?” she asked. “First of all, we’ve done exactly what we’re supposed to do as Head Boy and Girl. Second, do you have any idea how much homework I’ve done this year? And last, you and I are friends. I don’t think we should disregard that accomplishment.”

“I’m among your top three accomplishments of the year, am I?” James asked, smirking at her across the desk. He saw her blush as she picked up her quill and started absentmindedly scratching at the page again.

“You can do this if you want, but I’m not getting involved,” she stated.

“Lily,” he said, matter-of-factly, “stop trying to pretend you aren’t Head Girl.”

She lifted her quill off the page, but it continued to waver for a moment. He waited as she bit her lit and stared off into space. The silence reminded him of the moment before they had gotten in their big fit, but this one was not angry: it was pensive.

“Fine,” she said, resting her chin in her hand. “What’s your plan?”

“Can I have your quill?” he asked, ready to answer this question after a night of thinking. She outstretched her arm and James felt cool, smooth skin as their hands brushed together momentarily. Lily smiled uncomfortably, and even James compulsively scratched his head. It was what he did when he was nervous.

“Erm...so...” he said, reaching forward and pulling a piece of scrap parchment from the table. He started writing: Transfiguration...Potions...Charms... “We’ll just list out all the subjects, and ask the prefects to sign up for one or two each—”

“Tell them, you mean,” Lily interrupted. “They won’t do it unless we force them to.”

“Right,” James said, grinning. He finished off with Divination and set the quill down. “We can post the list on the outside of the door.”

Lily crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair.

“I can tell already,” she said, “this is going to be a headache.”

But just as James had expected, Lily protested very little in the rest of their planning, and even insisted on doing some of the Potions tutoring herself. James envied the fifth-years who would benefit from her expertise and wished that they’d been on good enough terms for her to help him during their O.W.L.s (not that he would have been able to shelve his pride for long enough to ask her, of course). By the time they headed back to Gryffindor Tower, she was practically giddy.

They were in the middle of talking about their last Herbology class, in which a Ravenclaw boy had accidentally knocked a jar of Bubotuber pus all over himself, when Filch seemed to burst out of solid wall and stopped them in their tracks.

“It’s late,” he wheezed. James had to stop himself from exhaling obnoxiously. “Students should be in bed, not traipsing around the corridors.”

“It’s not even after hours,” Lily pointed out.

“And I’ve the power to send you back to your common room, if I see fit,” Filch said, staring them down.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re going,” James said, but apparently Filch was not done ranting at them.

“Strolling along talking about Bubotuber pus, no doubt returning from carrying on with each other in broad sight, mocking the dignity of the school—”

What?” Lily spluttered. “No, no, we weren’t—”

“Don’t try to deny it; I’ve seen students performing acts around this castle that would make Merlin’s wand backfire!”

James bit his tongue and held back a laugh, mostly to keep from making Lily more flustered than she already was. Besides, there was something distinctly un-funny about her reaction to the thought of kissing him.

“We were studying!”

“If I had a Knut for every time I’ve heard that excuse,” Filch grumbled. “Just be glad you didn’t get caught this time. Now I’ve got to attend to a flooded loo, so be off with you both.”

James had had enough unpleasant exchanges with Filch that he could laugh this one off, but Lily stood with her mouth half-open as he stomped away.

“It’s better if you call him some really obscene names in your head,” James suggested.

“Do you get everyone around you in trouble?” she said, smiling slightly.

“Pretty much,” James admitted. Lily nodded, and they kept walking back to Gryffindor Tower, leaving behind the subject. He didn’t even feel the urge to tease her about Filch assuming they were snogging, although he did chuckle that the only people that thought it was possible were himself and their grumpy old caretaker. He had never thought he would agree with Filch on anything.



.........




Before she had found out she was a witch, Lily had always been jealous of her classmates who had birthdays in the summer. She had sulked about never getting to have a pool party and usually having to go to school on her birthday. Once she had come to Hogwarts, though, she appreciated her birthday for the simple fact that she at least had good friends around her. The only problem was that none of those good friends seemed to have realized that her birthday was coming up in a few days.

She knew N.E.W.T.s were their first priority, and that the news that Aurors were in the castle (it had gotten around, as gossip always did) was distracting everyone, but how could Mary and Anna really have forgotten? The idea of reminding them made her feel pathetic, and she kept holding out hope that they would bring it up themselves and confirm that they were still her best friends. But then part of her felt like it was very self-centered and petty to care at all—it was just a birthday, after all.

After a half-hour of haranguing sixth-year prefects about participating in the O.W.L. tutoring, Lily returned to her dormitory. It was the night before her birthday, and she had spent the whole week becoming increasingly frustrated with Mary and Anna’s oblivious memory failure. Needless to say, she was not in a good mood when she found Mary and Anna seated on Mary’s bed, apparently deep in conversation until the moment Lily walked in the door.

“Hi,” Mary said brightly. “Where have you been?”

“Head Girl stuff,” Lily replied, which was how she had started excusing all her absences lately. “What were you two talking about?”

“Nothing really,” Anna said as Lily sat down on her own bed.

“Well, tell me so we can all talk about nothing,” Lily said.

“Well...I was just saying that...Remus has been gone for a couple days,” Mary said tentatively. Lily had been half-hoping that they were talking about her birthday, and it only added to her frustration to find that Mary was once again talking about Remus.

“So?” Lily said, more rudely than she might have usually.

Mary shrugged and started picking at her fingernails.

“She was kind of upset about it,” Anna responded, apparently speaking for Mary. This was how it always was: the two of them, and her.

Lily would have liked to point out that Mary should hardly be shocked, seeing as Remus disappeared every month, but she felt like she was encouraging a hopeless pursuit by even talking about it.

“That’s too bad, Mary,” Lily said, trying to sound sympathetic.

Mary nodded, but did not make eye contact with her. They sat in awkward silence for a few moments, and Lily felt even more depressed: all anybody ever cared about was Mary. Maybe I should start acting really vulnerable and helpless, Lily thought venomously, and then people will pay attention to me.

She knew she was being unfair, and it made her a little bit sick to even think that way. “Well, I’m going to go to bed.”

The sky the next morning was grey and water-logged; sleet came down heavily all day. Not once—not when they woke up, not when they were at breakfast, not in Charms or Transfiguration, not at lunch, not during their afternoon break, and not during dinner—did Mary or Anna show any sign that they had remembered that it was Lily’s eighteenth birthday. And there was no one else at Hogwarts, except for perhaps Snape, that would know that January thirtieth was anything more than a regular day. She had not even received her parents’ usual birthday card on time (unless they had forgotten also, and it was not coming at all).

By the end of the day, Lily felt just about as good-natured as a fire-crab, and all she wanted to do was go to bed. She was about to drag herself up the spiral staircase when James accosted her in the common room.

“Hey, I need to show you something,” he said, looking excited.

“I’m really tired,” Lily said, trying to make herself sound so. Even though she was now friends with James, he still managed to get on her nerves sometimes.

“It’s important,” James said.

“Later.”

“It can’t wait,” James insisted. “Come on, it’ll only take ten minutes. If we’re lucky, we might even get lectured by Filch again.”

Lily laughed, the first time she had done so all day.

“You’re not going to take no for an answer, are you?”

“Have I ever?”

So Lily followed James down seven floors, wondering how he managed to persuade her into these things. It hit her, as they neared the Entrance Hall, that James had not said anything about it being her birthday either. She suddenly felt just as sour as before. Wasn’t James, of all people, supposed to remember it? She knew it was pathetic to even think it, but wasn’t he supposed to be obsessed with her? Shouldn’t he know the birthday of the girl who he had asked out dozens of times?

“All right?” James asked, pulling her from her thoughts.

“Fine,” Lily replied.

“You sure? Your face looks all scrunched up.”

Lily tried to relax her expression, but she ended up feeling like Moaning Myrtle. What did she care, anyway? She had a right to look scrunched-up when everyone had forgotten her birthday.

They were in the tunnel leading to the Hufflepuff common room and the kitchens, Lily realized, and she could not imagine anything worthwhile that James could show her down here. When they reached the painting that concealed the entrance to the kitchens, Lily’s patience began to snap.

“I’m not hungry,” she said, as James reached out and tickled the pear. He pulled open the door and gestured her inside.

“Just trust me,” he said. Lily shot him a distinctly sullen look before taking a step.

“I wonder how many people have heard that right before they ended up jinxed into—”

Lily had finally turned and looked at the kitchen properly, and she felt her throat constrict into a knot. On the table in front of her was a piece of red cake with green frosting and a single candle placed in it.

“Happy Birthday,” James said, squeezing her shoulders with his hands.

“You remembered?” Lily asked. Her body still seemed to be deciding whether she was going to burst into tears or not.

“Of course,” James replied, sitting down on one of the stools around the table. “Although I couldn’t help but make you squirm a bit.”

Lily sat down across from him, feeling slightly catatonic. She didn’t have the presence of mind to think up a wish, but she was at least able to blow the candle out.

“Surprised?” James asked, and Lily started laughing for no real reason. It seemed to bring back some sanity, and shut out the possibility of crying.

“Why is the cake red and green?” she asked.

“Because it’s for you,” James said. “Red hair, green eyes.”

“It looks like Christmas,” Lily said. James rolled his eyes.

“Well, then, I suppose you look like Christmas too,” James teased. “Want a fork?”

The cake, despite its absurd appearance, was delicious, thanks to the always-superb culinary skills of the house elves, and Lily did not even care that they were taking turns with their forks, though she realized it was strangely intimate. At that moment—laughing over embarrassing childhood birthdays with family members—she felt like James had been the only real friend she had ever had.

“My parents, you know,” James said, setting down his fork, “they mean well. But they always used to throw me these birthday parties where only adults were invited. They ended up feeling like high-society functions. Thank Merlin they stopped after I started at Hogwarts.”

“Well,” Lily said, “at my ninth birthday, my parents organized this big ice-skating trip with all my friends. Jane Wellington crashed into the side of the rink and sprained her wrist, and Sarah Berry spilled a cup of hot cocoa on Hillary Darcy's brand-new white coat. They hated each other after that, and we all had to choose sides the next day at school. Naturally, everybody blamed me.”

“Lily Evans: ruining friendships one birthday at a time,” James joked.

Over an hour-and-a-half passed before Lily found herself back in Gryffindor Tower, standing beside James and feeling a thousand times happier than she had been earlier. The common room was unusually deserted, with only a few stragglers gathering up their things before heading to bed.

“Thank you,” Lily said, looking up at James. He looked so proud of himself that Lily wanted to laugh.

“No problem,” he said, grinning widely.

“Er...” Lily trailed off. She was having a very hard time putting words to the warm feelings she was having.

“Guess we should go to bed,” James said, glancing up the spiral staircase that led to the boys’ dormitories.

“Yes, we should,” Lily said. After a momentary pause, James reached out and pulled her into an uncertain, one-armed embrace.

“Good night,” he said, his voice sounding a little shaky.

“Night,” she replied.

She felt very strange and light-headed as she walked up the spiral staircase, smiling the entire way. All the other Gryffindor girls were in the dormitory when she entered.

“Where have you been?” Anna asked, succeeding in wiping the smile off Lily’s face. Was there going to be an interrogation every time she walked into her own dormitory?

“Head Girl stuff,” Lily replied, as she always did.

“Well, surprise. Happy Birthday,” Anna said flatly. “We got a cake from the kitchens, but when you didn’t show up we let everyone in the common room eat it.”

Lily felt like she had run into a brick wall.

“I’m so sorry we didn’t say anything earlier,” Mary interjected. “I know you were really cross with us.”

“You thought we forgot,” Anna said contemptuously. “Because that’s the sort of friends we are.”

“I didn’t think that,” Lily lied.

“Yes, you did,” Anna snapped. “You thought we forgot, and then you avoided us.”

She didn’t let Lily get in another word before stalking out of the room. Mary cringed and put a hand on Lily’s arm.

“She was really excited about surprising you,” Mary said.

“I swear, I had no idea,” Lily said.

“It’s okay,” Mary replied. “If you’d known, it kind of would have defeated the purpose. It was our own fault.”

Lily couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Don’t worry, Lily,” Mary continued. “Anna will get over it; she always does. And I’m sorry we let everyone eat your cake.”

Truthfully, Lily was relieved that they had—she wouldn’t have put it past Anna to throw it in her face otherwise.

“Do you want to go see if we can find her, and you can work things out?”

“No—I mean, maybe tomorrow,” Lily mumbled. Usually Anna’s temper got in the way of any productive conversation, anyway. “I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“Oh...okay,” Mary said, and Lily could not ignore the tone of disappointment. She changed into her pyjamas and crawled underneath her covers, feeling unbelievably confused about her entire day. When Anna came back in, she pretended to be asleep, but judging by her friend’s incredulous laugh, she needn’t have bothered. If she’d been having that conversation about horrible birthdays with James a year from now, she certainly would have pegged this one as the worst.



..........




James had not gotten the first Monday of February off to a good start. That morning, he had made a complete catastrophe of his Freezing Fluid in Potions; somehow it had started snowing inside, which was hardly the effect he had been going for. Then he had forgotten his Charms essay next to his bed, but had not realized it until he had made it halfway to their classroom from Gryffindor Tower. Although he had run to his dormitory and back to the classroom, he had not been able to avoid being late. (He had also not been able to avoid losing five points for it, or the slightly disapproving eyebrow-raise that a certain redhead had given him.)

He had a pile of homework to finish that he had avoided touching over the weekend, but he couldn’t even start on it because he had Quidditch practice instead. It was very windy, which made flying around on a broomstick unpleasant in itself, but to top it all off, Ursula appeared to still be contemplating a mutiny. Her attitude was so bad that James would have liked to throw her off the team, but they had a match in only a few weeks. He ended up wishing he had not called a practice at all—more than one of the Gryffindor players had left with the beginnings of nasty colds.

He knew Peter and Sirius would still be serving detention when he returned to Gryffindor Tower, and he had a hunch that Remus would be in the library “studying” with Mary, so he decided to change out of his Quidditch robes and see if he could make some headway on his homework. Or find Lily.

When he opened the door to the dormitory and realized that there were people inside, he couldn’t help but jump, especially since it was Mary and Remus, who appeared to have taken their “studying” to a more private location. James was pretty sure that he hadn’t interrupted anything more than talking, especially as Remus was seated on his own bed and Mary on Peter’s across from him, but he still stood in the doorway uncomfortably.

“Erm...hi,” he said, his voice rising as if it were a question rather than a statement.

“Oh, I’m really sorry, James,” Mary said, jumping up. She looked even more uncomfortable than James felt. “I was going to go, anyway.”

She walked quickly to the door before she seemed to remember that Remus was there, and she stopped to give him a very awkward wave-goodbye before disappearing out the door. James turned to his friend with a smirk.

“Don’t look like that,” Remus said.

“Bringing girls back to your room, Moony?”

“Yeah, well, when she offers to come up and complain about her friends, how can I resist?”

James placed his Nimbus underneath his bed and sat down to take off his Quidditch boots.

“Being a bit harsh, aren’t we?” he asked Remus, who tried and failed to shrug disinterestedly. It was typical Remus: determined to be casual about everything when he was actual working himself into a frenzy in his own mind. It was ironic that he refused to ask people for help when he was one of the few people who truly needed it.

“She won’t leave me alone,” Remus replied.

“Do you want to be left alone?”

“Yes, and I’ve told her that more than once.”

James took out his wand to clean up the mud that his Quidditch boots had tracked on the floor and tried to think of a way to phrase his words properly.

“You know, Wormtail told me he saw you two snogging,” he said finally. It was slightly tactless, but he was not going to let Remus deny his way out of this one.

“He was just having a laugh with you,” Remus said, but he looked over James’ right shoulder as he said it, a tell-tale sign that he was nervous or lying. James could tell when all of his friends were being dishonest, he knew them so well. Sirius’ tone of voice changed completely when he was lying, and Peter could not help but scratch behind his left ear. It was impossible to get anything by a fellow Marauder.

“Well, putting that aside,” James continued, “what’s going on?”

“Nothing’s going on,” Remus said. “I must have told you this a hundred times.”

“Sorry to say it, Moony, but I still don’t believe you,” James said. When Remus looked reluctant, he added, “Come on, just get it all out there. What do you have to be embarrassed about? It’s me, remember? Prongs, the guy who won’t give up on a girl who’s rejected him dozens of times? The bloke who sticks his foot in his mouth every time he talks to said girl? Whatever’s happened, I’ve been through worse.”

Remus made a loud sighing noise. “You know, you really shouldn’t say that to a werewolf.”

“Moony, have you ever seen some of my more spectacular failures with Lily?” James said, and he was glad to see his friend laugh.

“Merlin, Prongs,” he said, sighing. “This is the hardest—the worst thing I’ve ever been through. And that’s including the furry problem.”

“What’s so bad about it? She seems to fancy you. And you fancy her?”

“I suppose I do,” Remus muttered, after a long pause.

“So what’s the problem? I’d kill to be in your shoes.” And James would have, truly. Sometimes he felt like Lily might be showing the faintest signs of liking him, but considering what had happened the last time he’d assumed that, he was no longer putting any stock in his own opinion.

“Again, you’re talking to a werewolf,” Remus replied pointedly.

“Oh, Moony, come off it. You’re not seriously going to tell me that you’re worried about that? I know we Marauders are a special lot, but we’re not the only people in the world that aren’t going to judge you.”

“It’s not...” Remus trailed off. He sighed and renewed his sentence, “You know that you finding out about the furry problem was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, right?”

“You’re making me blush here, Moony.”

“Funny. I’m just trying to say that I’m glad you did, but the thing about Mary...the thing is, I’ve never really had a friend who didn’t know...and...I don’t know, it’s nice...it’s nice to feel like someone isn’t just performing some sort of charity by hanging around with you,” Remus said, his voice becoming less and less audible as he finished his thought.

James did not know what to say. He had always worked hard to make Remus feel like one of them, and not feel like they were only his friend because they felt badly. Something in him knew that they would never be able to completely assure Remus, but hearing it said out loud for the first time was much more difficult than he had ever expected.

“You know it’s not charity,” he said.

“It is, to some extent,” Remus said, perhaps thinking this was a funny, self-deprecating statement not unlike many others he had made before.

“Moony, you say that one more time, and I’m going to have to show you how uncharitably I feel towards you sometimes,” James said. “Don’t you think if we were just doing it all to be nice we might have given up after the first few life-threatening incidents?”

“And after every one of those, I told you that you should have.”

“And every time you told us, we told you that there was no way, that we’re your best friends, and that best friends don’t turn their backs,” James said.

“I know. All I was trying to say was that Mary doesn’t have to make special arrangements with me, she doesn’t have to drive herself mad thinking about ways to make my life easier when there isn’t—” Remus faltered in his speech and did not continue his sentence. James sighed.

“All right. So you’re not going to tell her, then?” James asked.

“No. And—”

“And you can’t be more than friends with her because you’re not going to tell her,” James finished for him.

“I know you think I’m an idiot,” Remus said bitterly.

“I don’t think you’re an idiot,” James replied. “It’s your life; you’ve got to do whatever makes it easiest on you.”

“Yeah, well, believe me,” Remus said, “this definitely isn’t making my life any easier.”

“And she must be going spare,” James said, recalling how even months ago a rejection from Remus had put Mary into tears.

“You have no bloody idea,” Remus said. “Every time we’re alone I’m afraid she’s going to take it as an opportunity to try and snog me. I’ve had to develop new ways of standing and sitting to lessen the odds.”

“Merlin’s arse, Moony, can you teach me whatever you’re doing? I’ve been waiting three years for that kind of problem,” James said.

“Still no luck with Lily?”

“Well, let’s put it this way: there’s as much luck as there’s ever been,” James said, adding in his head, Maybe an ounce more. He couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud.

“Think there’s some spell we could do to get them to swap attitudes?” Remus asked, grinning.

“I’m not pointing a wand at Lily ever again after that time in third year,” James said. She had ended in her running off to the Hospital Wing shrieking because he had made her nose grow to five times its regular size. He had been aiming for Snape, really, but since then he had tried to avoid directing any magic at her on principle.

“Fair enough,” Remus said, seeming much more cheery than he had just a few minutes before.

“I hate to harp on about this, Moony, but are you really hoping that you can make it the next five months without forcing the poor girl into a nervous breakdown? It is N.E.W.T. year, after all,” James said.

“Here’s hoping,” Remus said. The door suddenly swung open and Peter and Sirius came in, making more noise than James would have imagined possible.

“Bloody toilet bowls!” Sirius yelled. “That’s what Filch had us doing. Without magic! We had to get down on our knees on those grimy bathroom floors and stick our hands inside the toilets!

“We were wearing gloves, Padfoot. Stop wetting yourself over it,” Peter said, sprawling out on his bed. “Besides, it’s not the first time he’s made us do them.”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if Moaning Myrtle hadn’t popped out of the bowl for a little whinge,” Sirius retorted.

“You didn’t seem too broken up when she pointed out that someone had written on the door of her stall, Sirius Black makes my cauldron boil over,” Peter said, smirking.

“You’re joking,” James said.

“No,” Peter said, shaking his head. James laughed.

“Well, there you go, Padfoot, at least you could think of that when your hand was in the toilet,” James said.

“Some comfort that is,” Sirius replied.

“Especially,” Peter said, smirking even wider, “since I snuck in and replaced his name with mine.”

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