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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 19: All Together




Chapter Nineteen

All Together




James had tried his best to heed Dumbledore’s order not to retaliate against the Slytherins, but they seemed to have made it their goal to openly harass him whenever possible. Sirius, Peter, and Remus were only too happy to come to James’ defence, and the result was some fairly nasty confrontations between classes—luckily, none of which the teachers had witnessed.

It wasn’t just James who had become the target of a fair number of curses from the Slytherins. They also seemed to be taking every opportunity to pick on younger students, though he got the impression that this was also directed at him, as if they were trying to goad him into some larger confrontation. He assumed this was their revenge for him selling them out to the school governors, despite the fact they had gone unpunished. They were certainly antagonizing Lily nearly as often, and James couldn’t help but admire how little she let it shake her. She took points away from Slytherin and threw the offenders in detention calmly and casually, and seemed impervious to being called names or receiving murderous glares. Sometimes James wondered whether she might make good on their joke about getting rid of Death Eaters. After all, there was a part of him that hadn’t been entirely joking.

There was a very, very tense grudge between the Slytherins and Gryffindors, worse than James had ever experienced before. Classes like Potions were a nightmare to get through. Even Professor Slughorn, who usually relished nothing more than spending a couple hours with his N.E.W.T-level students, seemed to be relieved when the bell rang at the end of each class.

“Flasks up to the front, everyone!” Professor Slughorn called out to them at the close of a Monday morning class. James swore under his breath—he was only half finished with his Hate Potion, nowhere near the “opaque red” colour that Advanced Potion-Making set out as an ideal result. Lily glanced at his cauldron as she was bringing her flask up to Slughorn.

“I think you forgot to strain the Ashwinder eggs,” she said. “You’re not supposed to add them whole.”

“I didn’t finish most of it,” James said, bottling up his own potion resentfully.

“Yes, but it’s gone orange instead of golden,” Lily said, before striding up to the front of the class. James stood in shock, trying to figure out how on earth someone could pay that much attention to a potion.

“What do you think?” Peter asked, holding up his own flask for James to survey. He had sweat beading on his forehead, and had obviously put in considerable effort. His potion looked like it might be slightly congealing at the top, but it was at least red, which was more than James could say.

“Looks good,” James said, trying to offer an encouraging smile. He knew that Peter usually had a terrible time with Potions, and that it would probably be unfair to ignore the few successes that he had.

They managed to depart from class without anyone accidentally spilling their potion on someone else or knocking over one of their classmates’ flasks, “mishaps” that had become conspicuously common in the past week, and which all seemed to be caused by the Slytherins in one way or another. With Professor Slughorn as the head of their house, however, it never resulted in anything more than a hasty mop-up and an assurance that the victim wouldn’t lose marks for that day’s class.

Defence Against the Dark Arts was blessedly free from the Slytherins, except Snape. As far as James was concerned, learning about Dark creatures was done better when said creatures weren’t sitting across the room from you. It seemed that he wasn’t able to completely escape the subject of them, however, when Professor Dearborn asked him to stay after class.

“Damn good work today, Potter,” Dearborn said, leaning against the edge of his desk.

“Erm, thanks,” James said. He was still a bit put off by Dearborn’s general attitude of callousness, but it was nice to receive a compliment from him. Dearborn was awfully hard to impress at the best of times.

“I have high expectations for what you’ll do when we start working on Patronuses,” Dearborn continued. “Ever tried one before?”

“No,” James said. He sincerely hoped that Dearborn wasn’t about to ask him to make an attempt now, but he simply waved his hand casually.

“You’ll have no problems, I’m sure of it,” Dearborn said. “You planning on becoming an Auror when you’re finished here?”

James hesitated. He had, of course, entertained the prospect at different points, but never very seriously. Dearborn’s disdain for Aurors made it seem like a rather loaded question, in any case.

“I’m not trying to trick you, Potter,” Dearborn said, his beard twitching. “I know some good Aurors. More bad ones, but that’s not to say you’d be among them.”

James grinned. “I don’t know...the Aurors seem a bit of a mess these days, don’t they?”

Headlines appeared in the Prophet a few times a week criticizing the Aurors’ lack of progress and petty infighting.

“Well, you keep up on current events,” Dearborn said, “Which is more than I can say about most of the twits that run around these halls. But you’ve got a talent for fighting the Dark Arts, and a passion for it, too, from what I’ve heard from Albus.”

James was not sure how to respond, a predicament which Dearborn apparently found amusing.

“I’m not about to give you a lecture,” he said, chuckling. “Sounds like Albus already took care of that part. But good on you to try and do something about it. I’ve only been here for six months and already I can tell that Albus hasn’t been going about things in the right way.”

“Thanks,” James said. “Not that it did much good.”

“That’s life, Potter,” Dearborn said, “especially these days.”

“I suppose so,” James said, shrugging.

“Something to think about, anyway,” Dearborn said, straightening up.

Sirius, Remus, and Peter were waiting outside in the corridor for James when he exited.

“What’d he want?” Peter asked. James noticed that Snape was standing not too far away, his nose stuck in a book called The Dark Arts Outsmarted.

“I’ll tell you later,” James muttered, and they headed off to dinner.

James felt encouraged that someone believed him and Lily, apart from Sirius, Remus, and Peter, of course. They had wanted to know about his conversation with Dearborn, but it was only when they had returned to the dormitory after dinner that he had relayed what had been said. They seemed to take their professor's words to heart.

“We’re going to have to take matters into our own hands,” Sirius said.

“Whatever it is, we’re going to have to make sure that no one finds out it was us,” James said. “Dumbledore’ll kill me.”

“If you’re worried about people finding out, maybe you shouldn’t risk it,” Remus said, looking up from a torn set of robes he was mending. “It’s not like it’ll take many guesses before they land on us.”

“Unless we do it well,” Peter interjected. “Better than we ever have before.”

“We were never really trying in the past, anyway,” Sirius said. “If we actually make an effort to not get caught...”

Part of James had a nagging feeling that this wasn’t a good idea, but he was so eager to take the Slytherins down a peg that he hardly cared. Sirius and Peter were right, anyway.

“I say we go all the way and frame them for something bad enough to get them expelled,” Sirius said.

“I dunno,” Peter said. “They poisoned people and Dumbledore still didn’t kick them out.”

“But Dumbledore said it was because there was no proof,” James reminded him. “As long as we make it so there’s evidence—”

“So we’re going to bring some sort of Dark object into the castle?” Remus asked.

“Well, now that you mention it, that sounds like a brilliant idea,” Sirius said. Remus rolled his eyes. “But we don't have to bring anything in, Moony. There’s loads of stuff we can just nick and plant on them. Those candlesticks Dearborn has, some of the stuff Filch has confiscated, that shelf of banned books Dumbledore has up in his office, the supplies Slughorn keeps locked up in his office...any one of those would be enough.”

“And none of them are going to be easy to get to,” Remus said.

“We’ll figure out a plan,” James said. “We’ve got the map and the Invisibility Cloak, after all. How hard can it be?”

“Moony’s right,” Peter said, “it’s not going to be easy.”

James nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe Lily would help us.”

Sirius groaned, Peter snorted with laughter, and though Remus stayed quiet, he seemed to be having difficulty concealing a smile.

“What?” James asked. “She went to Dumbledore with me.”

“There we were, having a nice conversation about getting the Slytherins expelled, and you find a way to bring it back to Evans,” Sirius said.

“I was only saying that she might help us out,” James replied.

“Prongs,” Remus said, “I think you should probably avoid telling Lily anything to do with this.”

“It’s not like she's going to tell one of the teachers on us,” James said. “She was the one who suggested going to spy on the Slytherins in the first place.”

“All right, Prongs, I can tell you’ve reached your breaking point,” Sirius said. “Just get everything you need to say about Evans out.”

James exhaled heavily. “There’s nothing to say. I’ve still got about as much hope as a Puffskein does against a dragon.”

“You never know about those Puffskeins,” Peter said. “They could probably lure the dragon in with that weird noise they make.”

“Well, there you go, Prongs,” Sirius said, laughing. “All you’ve got to do is make strange noises at her.”

James took the opportunity to throw a very dirty sock at Sirius’ face.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” Sirius said once he had extricated the sock, giving James a look of faint concern. “She’s walking around making moon-eyes at you all the time. You’re the only two who don’t think you’re already a couple.”

“That’s not true,” James replied.

“Ask anyone in this room and they’ll agree with me,” Sirius said. James thought this was a bit hyperbolic, considering it was only himself, Sirius, Remus, and Peter sitting in their dormitory.

“Don’t ask me anything about girls,” Remus muttered, throwing his robes into his trunk.

James and Sirius looked at Peter. “Sorry, Prongs, but I agree with Padfoot.”

Sirius made a noise of triumph.

“But do what you want,” Peter added, making James feel slightly better.

“Thanks, Wormtail,” Sirius said. “Listen, Prongs, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’re rubbish with girls.”

“I am not!” James said. “Just because of that one time in fourth year...”

He was referring to the time that he had very stupidly tried to ask out Irene Fancourt, who had been at the time the seventh-year Gryffindor Quidditch captain. To this day James still had no idea why he had done it, and his friends (Sirius in particular) never let him live it down. At the time it had seemed a perfectly logical thing to do, and when she rejected him, he had actually convinced himself for a little while that she really did like him but was afraid of what her friends might say. Even thinking about it now made his entire body cringe in embarrassment, which was probably why Sirius liked to bring it up from time to time.

“No, it’s not just because of that,” Sirius said, smirking. “Merlin, I’d forgotten about that for a little while. What a spectacular—”

“Let’s not talk about it,” James interrupted.

“Right. Anyway, your entire history with Evans has been disaster after disaster,” Sirius continued. “It’s like every time you get near a girl your brain shuts down and you do something stupid to try and impress them. I blame the glasses.”

“Actually, I was under the impression that most of those stupid things were your idea, Padfoot,” Remus said.

“Well, Prongs took my good ideas and turned them stupid because he was trying to show off,” Sirius said. Peter sniggered again.

“Padfoot, can you just make your point?” James asked.

“My point is that you should probably ignore all of your instincts when it comes to girls,” Sirius said. “If you think Evans doesn’t like you, she probably does. And I have to tell you, it’s a bit torturous watching you throw away the last chance you’ve got with her. Time’s running out.”

James knew he was right, at least about his chances disappearing. It was already March, and he had a feeling that if he waited too long, they’d head off for the summer and he would never see Lily again.

“So, Dearborn thinks you should be an Auror?” Remus asked. James shrugged, still thinking about Lily.

“I suppose so,” he replied.

“Wouldn’t that be brilliant?” Peter asked, a slightly dreamy look in his eyes.

“It’s really hard to qualify,” James said. “You’ve got to get E’s in all your N.E.W.Ts and then do three years of training, and if you fail the tests, you have to do another year before you can take them again.”

“Yeah,” Peter said. “But you could do it, if you wanted.”

“He’s right, you know,” Sirius said. He was looking across the room at James with one eyebrow slightly raised, and James knew he must be remembering their conversation over Christmas. Somehow it had never been mentioned to Remus or Peter, and James felt like it might be verging on boasting to bring it up at this particular moment.

“We’ll see,” James said. “At the rate I’m going I might not make the Potions grade anyway.”

“Now there,” Remus said, “is something that I’m sure Lily wouldn’t mind helping with.”



..........




As time slid closer to Easter holidays, Lily found that she had too many things to do and not enough time to do them—and it was all James’ fault. He was making it far too difficult to devote enough of her brain to homework and other responsibilities, and besides that, he had been the one who had forced this O.W.L.-tutoring idea on her, which had turned out to be a nightmare. It had taken more than a little begging (and a dash of coercion, in some cases) to get any of the sixth-year prefects to volunteer their services, especially in some of the more obscure subjects like Divination or Muggle Studies, which fewer students enrolled in. Even James, who most of the prefects seemed to be much more amenable to (Lily was still at a loss as to how that had come about), had a fair amount of trouble getting them to agree.

But finally, it seemed like it was all going to come together. They roped enough people into leading some of the tutoring, and volunteered for a few themselves, so that they were able to draw up a schedule. They were going to run one session for each subject: three each week for three weeks. It was hard to tell how many students might show up for each one, since many of them would have other commitments on certain evenings and some wouldn’t be interested in attending, but Lily had thought it best to have two prefects for each session in case the crowds were on the larger side.

James and Remus had volunteered to take the Defence Against the Dark Arts session, which Lily thought was an excellent match. Both of them were naturals at the subject, and she thought that James’ knack for leadership and Remus’ patience would lend themselves well to teaching younger students.

As for herself, Lily had made good on her initial commitment to handle Potions. Finding someone to pair with her had been another story entirely. The obvious choice, based on marks, would have been Severus, but Lily hardly thought he would be a good role model, and there was almost no chance that he would have agreed, anyway. In the end she had enlisted Diana Greengrass, a sixth-year Slytherin who was apparently the best in her year at Potions.

“There,” she said, writing in the last name on the schedule and handing it over to James and Remus, who were sitting in adjacent chairs in the common room. “How does it look?”

She had perhaps stared a little too fixedly on him as he examined it, since Remus was giving her a quizzical look. Her face went hot and she turned her head away.

“Evans, you’ve left me out again,” Sirius said, craning his neck over James’ shoulder.

“Sirius, as I’ve said a half dozen times already, you’re not a prefect,” Lily said.

“Well, neither is he,” Sirius said, pointing to James.

“Yes, but he is the Head Boy,” Lily said, “and the Quidditch Captain. So he’s got a bit of a leg up on you, I’m afraid.”

“Rampant discrimination,” Sirius said. “Just because I’ve got more than half a personality...”

“You’d have to be missing at least three-quarters of a normal life, as well,” Anna muttered.

Lily shot her an unamused look. In recent days she had found that her and James’ social circles (which, admittedly, were not exactly far from one another) had begun to bleed together. It had become increasingly troublesome to divide their time between each other and their respective friends, and senseless, as well, considering they were all in the same House and many of the same classes. It was a nice development, she thought, even though she hardly knew Sirius and Peter, and Remus much less than James. It was at least some form of progress, even if it was not exactly of the kind that she wanted to occur.

Mary, of course, could hardly hide her enthusiasm about getting to spend more time around Remus, who always seemed to choose a seat as far from her as he could whenever the seven of them were in a group. Anna was characteristically unmoved by the entire thing; she seemed neither pleased nor irritated with the new arrangements.

Sirius was difficult to read. At times he seemed resentful, and at others he seemed to enjoy having a few more people to hold court with. Out of all the boys, he seemed to be the most bothered by the presence of outsiders, and Lily got the impression that he much preferred the insular, exclusive group of himself, James, Remus, and Peter. He certainly made a habit of starting conversations that were clearly meant for the four of them only, even when Lily, Anna, and Mary were in their presence. Peter, for his part, hardly ever spoke. He seemed to be very nervous around girls, Lily thought, and it was a shame—on the rare occasions that he did speak up, he usually had something funny to say.

“Speaking of discrimination,” Sirius said pointedly, looking at his friends. Dark looks passed over their faces.

“Yeah, I saw,” James muttered.

“Are you talking about today’s newspaper?” Anna asked loudly, looking up from her Charms textbook.

Sirius looked over at her in obvious irritation. “Yeah, I am. Why?”

“I just thought I’d join the conversation,” Anna said. “If it’s all right with you, of course.”

Lily had a feeling that Anna and Sirius sort of couldn’t stand one another, which didn’t bode well for the future of these group arrangements. She was glad that someone was trying to put a stop to these ridiculous fenced conversations that Sirius kept starting, though.

“What was in the newspaper?” Mary asked.

“Some stupid thing about people in the Ministry trying to put through anti-half-breed legislation,” Anna said. This was news to Lily as well, who didn’t pay as much attention to the Daily Prophet as she probably should have.

“Was your sister writing about this?” Lily asked.

“No,” Anna said. “Last I heard she was taking a temporary hiatus to finish planning her wedding...” She stuck out her tongue in disgust.

“Anyway,” Sirius said irritably, “not a good sign, is it?”

“It’s never going to pass,” James replied. Lily followed his gaze as it flicked towards Remus, who seemed to be having trouble finding something in his schoolbag.

“You never know,” Anna said. “Those idiots at Magical Law Enforcement seem to be behind it—”

“No, you’re right, James,” Sirius said, interrupting Anna, who looked extremely put off. “There are enough people out there who’d have a fit if they let it go through. Besides, the Aurors would have a hell of a time defending their position against Voldemort if they supported it.”

“Or maybe they want to use it to defend themselves,” Anna said. It was like watching a tennis match. “It’s not like they’ve done much useful lately.”

“And that would be useful, you think?” Sirius asked.

“I—I see what you mean, Anna,” Mary said. “A lot of people think werewolves and half-giants, and people like that, are for—Voldemort.”

Lily was shocked to hear Mary saying Voldemort’s name like that. She had hardly ever even used You-Know-Who in the past. It sounded a little childish when she said it, as if she was aiming for the kind of careless defiance that Sirius had used a moment earlier but had failed terribly.

The shock wore off and Lily’s attention returned to her surroundings. Remus had gotten up with his things and was heading in the direction of his dormitory. He didn’t seem to be angry, but an uncomfortable silence had descended over them, and the boys were exchanging ominous glances with one another.

“Hey, wait up, Remus, I’ll come with you,” Peter said, also leaving them behind.

“Exactly, Mary,” Anna said, closing her book. “I think I’m going to go to bed too.”

Sirius looked like he was holding back a good riddance as she left. Lily looked at Mary, whose cheeks had gone magenta. James and Sirius seemed to be having a telepathic conversation with one another, and noticing their distraction, Mary mouthed over to her, “What did I do?”

Lily shrugged, but she thought she might have an inkling of what had happened. She wasn’t about to divulge it to Mary, especially as she wasn’t sure if it was right. Mary shook her head, clearly embarrassed.

“I’ll see you up there, Lily?” she asked quietly, picking up her books.

“I’m just going to clear this up,” Lily said, gesturing to the rather haphazard pile of books and parchment she’d accumulated on the floor in front of her chair. “Be there in a minute.”

Lily tried to take as long as possible to get it all together, hoping that Sirius would leave and she would be able to speak to James alone.

“Coming, then?” she heard Sirius ask in a low voice.

“In a minute.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this really the time?”

Lily remained concentrated on sorting some Herbology notes as she heard Sirius sigh and trudge off to the dormitory. The last few stragglers in the common room were also gathering up their things, as it was nearing midnight. She finally straightened up and felt her heart catch in her throat.

“What just happened?” she asked. For some reason she felt like she had just run up a flight of stairs.

“Nothing,” James said, sticking his hands in his pockets. “Everybody just went to bed, I suppose.”

Lily raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “Everyone went to bed after things got unbelievably tense.”

“Well, we were talking about an unpleasant subject—”

“James, come on,” she interrupted. “I’m not stupid. Something strange just happened there.”

He shrugged. Lily sighed and folded her arms across her chest. She wasn’t going to let this drop without an answer—she’d spent far too much time wondering already.

“Are you sure Remus wasn’t upset?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” James said. “Just tired, I expect.”

“James,” Lily said, looking at him very pointedly. He looked back at her, expressionless, for a few moments, but then exhaled loudly.

“Bloody Snivellus,” he said. “He’s the one who told you, right?”

“So it’s true?” Lily asked. “Remus is—?”

He massaged his forehead. “Don’t—Lily, you can’t say a word—”

“Of course I won’t,” Lily said.

“Especially Mary,” James continued. “He really doesn’t want her to know.”

Lily found this a little troubling, although not unexpected. She had suspected from the beginning that this had something to do with Mary’s perpetually unrequited affection.

“I won’t say anything,” she said, and James nodded. Silence fell for a few moments, and Lily could see a pained look cross his face.

“They’ll kill me for telling you,” he muttered.

“I shouldn’t have asked, I’m sorry,” Lily said.

“No, it’s all right. You already knew, anyway,” he replied.

“But—I mean, I shouldn’t have put you in that position. It was stupid of me.”

“Lily, it’s fine,” he said, looking straight into her eyes. “It feels like a bit of a relief, actually.”

Lily smiled weakly and nodded. She felt embarrassed about having been so presumptuous to force the information out of him like she had.

“They’ll get over it,” he continued. “And if not...I suppose I could always hire Anna to kill Sirius, couldn’t I?”

Lily exhaled a laugh. “I’m not entirely sure that our friends are going to get along very well.”

“We get along, though,” James said. “That’s all that matters, anyway.”

Lily nodded, trying to ignore how violently her stomach was squirming. She could say something, right now—they were completely alone, after all, and she was feeling almost confident enough to just let it all spill out. The only problem seemed to be that her words were stuck to her throat, but maybe if she could just get one out, the rest would come.

“James?”

Peter was back, standing on the bottom step of the spiral staircase.

“What is it?” James asked him. There was no trace of annoyance in his voice, no sign that he was bothered that they had been interrupted. Lily’s confidence shrunk back into hiding.

“Can you come upstairs?” Peter asked.

“Yeah,” James said, and he turned back to Lily. “Sorry, Lily, but I really should—you know.”

“Of course,” she said. She did understand. Thinking back over the conversation, she could imagine that Remus was probably not in the best state of mind and needed his friends’ support. But it still felt awful to see him walk away from her.

She picked up her things and headed off to her dormitory. When she got there, Mary was in the washroom brushing her teeth and Anna was, of course, fuming about something.

“Lily, I don’t know if I can stand it if you start dating James,” Anna said, slamming her trunk shut.

“He’s not that bad, Anna,” Lily said, referring to Sirius. “You just need more patience.”

“He reminds me,” Anna said, pausing dramatically, “of my brothers, Lily. So, actually, he is that bad.”

“Well, just ignore him,” Lily said, setting her books down beside her trunk. Anna laughed derisively.

“How am I supposed to ignore someone who likes to fill the air with the sound of their voice?” Anna asked.

“And I don’t know what I’m supposed to have done,” Mary said, re-entering the room. “I say one thing, and everyone clears out of the room! Remus looked like he couldn’t get away fast enough.”

“Let’s just go to bed,” Lily said.

“Well, in future,” Anna said, “if Sirius is around, I’m not.”

“Same for me with Remus,” Mary said, pulling back her sheets. Anna looked at her in exasperation.

“Mary, I actually mean it,” she said.

“So do I!”

Lily could tell that neither Anna nor Mary were completely serious, but she still had a feeling that everything with James was going to be even more complicated than she had thought before.

And Remus—he was really a werewolf! It felt so strange to have it confirmed after suspecting it for all that time. She was very glad that Severus wouldn’t get the chance to say I told you so after all the times she had dismissed his theory. Of course, she had only denied it to try and stop him from obsessing over it—otherwise she had been almost certain that he was right. It had only taken a visit to the library and a look at the moon charts to realize that Remus’ disappearances did coincide with the full moon. What she had disagreed with was Severus’ insistence on interfering and trying to expose Remus. It was none of his business, or hers, Lily had always believed, which was why she had never repeated it to anyone.

Without James standing in front of her, Lily could better appreciate the tragedy of it. Remus was the last person who deserved such an awful thing. She admired how he acted like everything was normal, but she could only imagine how difficult that facade must be to maintain.

And on top of everything else, Lily felt conflicted about promising not to tell Mary. She supposed she could understand why Remus didn’t want her to know, but nothing was ever going to get solved if it was kept a secret. Both of them were miserable in this state of suspension. Besides that, Lily couldn’t understand why Remus was so reluctant, seeing as Mary was very kind-hearted.

She turned over with her mind still churning. One thing was certain: everything was going to get much more complicated before it got any easier.




Author’s Note: In case you’re wondering, sometimes people just dislike each other. It doesn’t always turn into a love/hate relationship. Know what I mean? ;)


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