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#1. What Happened Next? by FawkesThePhoenix

Format: Novel
Chapters: 32
Word Count: 149,442
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: General, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, Draco, George, Ginny, Luna, Neville, OC
Pairings: Harry/Hermione, OC/OC, Ron/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 07/13/2015
Last Chapter: 03/13/2017
Last Updated: 03/13/2017

Summary:
Following on from the end of the Battle in Deathly Hallows. Harry and Hermione fell in love instead of Hermione/Ron and Harry/Ginny.

Follows the stories of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they deal with life after the greatest adventure of their lives.


Chapter 31: Chapter Thirty-One.

Before Hermione truly knew what was going on, she was swept up and floated through the air as her head spun out of control. She decided that, even though it was against everything that had been engrained into her during the war, she would let the clutches of sleep take her - besides, she was too weak to fight now anyway. "We need to get Elrick," she heard someone whisper.


"He's busy." Came another voice.


"I don't care how busy he is; he will want to be here. If what they said is true, this is truly out of our realms of understanding. To die by the curse and be brought back has never happened before. Get Elrick!"




"Harry? Are you alright?" Luna asked as they all rushed after Hermione and the two healers.


"I don't know, Luna. I can't quite get my head around what has just happened." He replied.


"She's alive," Aoife squeezed his hand, "that's all you need to know right now."


"Yes, but how?" Ron asked from behind them.


"Harry did it," Aoife pointed out.


"No, I didn't. I didn't die from the curse. She was struck by it and stopped breathing."


"It can't be impossible; it's happened."


"Mr Potter?" The taller healer turned around as the stretcher carrying Hermione glided into a room on their right. "I think it would be beneficial to us all if you and I had a chat about what happened. Do you think you are up to it?"


"Can't I stay with Hermione?" Was Harry's reply.


"She's not going anywhere," the man smiled. "Besides, the sooner we find out what happened, the sooner we will be able to help."


"We'll stay with her, Harry," Ron whispered.


"Can you come with me?" Harry asked Ron.


"Of course," Ron smiled reassuringly.


"Right then, follow me." The healer ordered as he strode down the corridor.


"We won't leave her side," Aoife confirmed to Harry as he turned around apprehensively.


"Thank you," he mouthed.




"Firstly, Mr Potter, let me introduce myself. I'm Todd Ackroyd, and I can assure you that Miss Granger will be given the best treatment possible."


"Call me Harry," Harry insisted as he and Ron sat down in the chairs on the other side of Todd's desk.


Todd nodded, "another thing I should let you know is that Aurors have just informed us that they have captured all four of those involved, a Mr Calum Ashcraft has been taken to the Muggle Prime Minister."


"Why?" Ron asked in amazement.


"He cannot be trialled in the Wizarding World because he isn't a Wizard and knows nothing about it, but that doesn't mean he can get off. He needs to be brought to justice, and that's the only solution."


Harry nodded, "I'm not sure what he did to them."


His eyes twinkled slightly as he looked down at some paper that had been left on his desk. "Shall we get on with the more pressing matter? Can you tell me exactly what happened? Did Miss Julie Eliot really use the Killing Curse?"


"Yes. Not only did I hear it, but no one can mistake that green light when it's fired. It struck Hermione, and she instantly fell to the floor."


"That's when we came in," Ron continued for Harry. "Everything was a bit manic, Julie was still alive, but her arms and legs were bound, the same with Rodolphus. Luna explained everything to us, and I couldn't believe it - I didn't want to believe it."


"But you saw Miss Granger, and she was dead?" Todd asked.


"I walked over to Harry who was beside her, and she wasn't breathing. She was dead." Ron confirmed.


"Then what did you do?"


"I picked her up," Harry took over, "and we walked outside. I knew she wouldn't have wanted to be in that room."


"And you walked her to that clearing we collected you from?"


"Yes. I don't know why we stopped there; I just felt something telling me to stop.”


"How long, approximately, would you say it was from the curse hitting her to her sitting up?"


"No longer than half an hour," Harry said confidently.


"Well, I think it's clear to both of you that this is a highly rare case. As you said before, Harry, the curse didn't kill you. For Miss Granger, however, this wasn't the case. If like you say, she was dead for thirty minutes; we will need to check for any lasting damage - if there is any. I'm going to have a chat with some of my colleagues and get an interview with Julie Eliot to see if she knows anything about why this has happened. In the meantime, you can go back to Miss Granger. If you remember anything that might be of importance, don't hesitate to tell me." He said with a smile that seemed to show that Todd didn't really know what he should be doing and whether what he was planning on doing was the right thing.


"Thank you," Harry, and Ron said at the same time as they walked towards the door.


"Mr Ackroyd," Ron turned back to face the man, "could you give the Muggle Prime Minister a message from me?"



*



"What a crazy day," Aoife sighed as she settled into a seat beside Hermione's bed.


"We're going to be doing some tests on Hermione, so right now she in unconscious and probably can't hear anything you are saying." A timid looking man explained.


"Probably ?" Ardal repeated.


"I mean, it's unlikely she can hear." He said, less confident than before.


"Thank you," Aoife sang to stop the poor man having a panic attack.


"What do you think will happen now?" Ardal asked once the nervous man had vanished.


"They'll be running test after test, trying to work out what happened and why and how. I wouldn't be surprised if they keep her in just to further their understanding. She's going to be a test dummy now."
Aoife replied sadly, gazing at Hermione's hand. "That ring really is gorgeous."


"Harry adores her," Ardal smiled.


"Where have Luna and Neville gone?" Aoife asked, tearing her eyes away from Hermione.


"They've gone back to Hogwarts to see if there was any damage and then I think they're going to tell McGonagall what's happened - she'll be able to inform Hermione's family."


"It's going to be so hard for them to understand," Aoife sighed. "Experts here can't comprehend so imagine what it will be like for Muggles."


"She will be alright, though?" Aengus finally spoke.


"I don't know, Gus, but she's definitely in the right place."


He was pale and ghost-like, this whole experienced looked like it had aged him. "I had no idea you had fallen this hard," Ardal said delicately to his brother.


"Nor did I," Aengus replied quietly, so no one heard.


"What's happening with Robyn?" Aoife asked brightly, trying to change the subject, but failing to grasp that Robyn and Hermione were linked.


"Yeah, I saw you talking to her at the party?"


"I needed to tell her something, but I never got around to it."


"Tell her what?"


"Not now, Aoife." Aengus snarled.


"Aengus-" She began.


"It was about Emiliana - I needed to tell her what happened between us because she deserves to know everything."


"I'm sure she'll understand, maybe," Aoife whispered.



*



"Sir? Everything seems absolutely normal with Hermione Granger. No lasting damage, no trace of spell or potion that might have helped, no signs at all."


"Thank you," Elrick replied. "I was just about to go and see Kingsley to explain to him what has happened, even though we don’t know what’s happened and then I want to meet with Miss Granger’s parents.”

 
“But, Sir, they’re Muggles. Surely they cannot walk through those doors.”

 
“Alex, their daughter has just done the impossible, their daughter has just come back from the dead. I’m sure we can make an exception just this once.” Elrick replied sarcastically.

 
“Of course,” Alex nodded, “you are the head of St. Mungo’s, if rules are to be broken, it’s best you are the one to do it.”
 

“Splendid,” Elrick smirked, “I would like you do go now, Alex. Get on with some work,” Elrick smirked as the man opposite him tiptoed away.

 

*


 
“Harry,” Aoife bounded towards him as he entered the room. “We’ve just been told that Hermione seems alright. She hasn’t got any lasting damage from being de- for the amount of time she was. It’s truly a miracle.”
 

“So, she’s going to be okay? She’s going to make a full recovery?” Harry asked tentatively.
 

“She-“ Aoife began.

 
“I’ve already made a full recovery.” Hermione smiled a teary smile.

 
“How long were we with Todd for?” Ron whispered to Aoife.

 
“Long enough for tests to be done and results to be returned,” Todd said as he stood behind them at the door. “Magic, Mr Weasley, is a very quick method of gaining a full picture of one’s health.”

 
“She’s really going to be alright?” Harry asked, spinning around to face the Healer.

 
“Everything seems to be pointing that way, Harry. I’d like to speak to Miss Granger on her own for a moment,” his eyes fell on Hermione who was now sitting up in the bed.

 
“Can Harry stay?” Hermione asked sheepishly.

 
“If you want him to, yes.” Harry walked over to the chair which Aoife had been sat in as the rest of them filed out of the room. “My boss, Elrick Mungo, will be with you shortly to talk to you. You must be aware, Miss Granger that this has never happened before and so we can’t quite be sure of what will ensue in the future. As my colleague explained to you before, everything seems to be working as normal, and there are no signs of lasting damaging, but we can’t say for definite that that will continue to happen. We’re confident in our Healers and the tests we have performed so I can say with some confidence that currently, from an entirely medical perspective, you seem to be okay. Elrick is now talking with your parents and trying to explain things as best he can, but they will be confused I’m sure, quite like the rest of us, and he will be bringing them here to see you.”

 
“I don’t want them to see me in here,” Hermione interrupted, “can you tell them that I’m fine and I will see them once I’ve been discharged?”

 
“Are you sure?” Todd asked.

 
“Positive,” Hermione nodded.

 
“Right, give me a second, I’ll just let Elrick know of your wish.”

 
“Why don’t you want them to see you?” Harry asked delicately.

 
“They already see magic as dangerous; I don’t want them to be even more convinced. You heard what he said, Harry, nobody knows what’s going on and I could really do without my parent’s questions and snide remarks about magic right now. I just want to get out of here as soon as possible and then I’ll try to explain things to them.” Hermione said so defiantly that Harry would be foolish to argue with her.

 
“Elrick has received my message,” Todd confirmed as he walked through the door. “Right, as I was saying, I don’t see any point keeping you in for further testing at this current time, Elrick might feel different about this so you won’t be allowed to leave until he has said you can. We would, however, like you to see us weekly so we can document your progress just in case there is something we have missed and absolutely get in contact or visit us if you have any questions or worries.” Todd smiled, his grey eyes sparkling at the very thought of being around when history was made. “Have you got any questions or worries now?”

 
“I’ve got about a hundred questions, none of which anyone can answer,” Hermione laughed, “but thank you for everything you have done.”

 
“We haven’t done anything, Miss Granger, but I assure you we will try and find out who did. I shall see you later with Elrick.”

 
“I know who helped,” Hermione whispered to Harry as Todd exited the room once again.

 
“You do? How? Who?”

 
“I read a book once about mythological creatures. Of course, I was only young and didn’t even know about magic at the time, but it stated that fairies are the most powerful magical being on the planet – if they existed and I'm beginning to think they do. Witches and wizards aren’t the only magical being; we know that, so what if it was someone even more magical than you and me?”

 
“You really are the brightest witch of your generation, Miss Granger,” a person who was more beautiful than humanly possible sang as he opened the door to her room. “May I come in?”

 
“Who are you?” Harry asked defensively as he stood up from his chair.
 

“I beg your pardon, Mr Potter; my name is Sequoia Ewing. I can explain what happened to you, Miss Granger.” His voice was so soft, it melted in her ears, his golden eyes so warm and kind.
 

“Come in, Mr Ewing,” Harry smiled, something about this man put him completely at ease.

 
“I think I better start from the beginning,” he smiled as he took a seat, “but first, I don’t want to be interrupted.” He flicked his finger and the door locked shut. “I would put charms on it, but I haven’t rested long enough, my powers are still weak.” He explained, realising instantly that there was no one to explain to as the two who sat in front of him had no idea what he meant by it. “Hundreds of years ago, before even Tom Riddle was born, we roamed the world like any other being. Mixing and mingling with magical folk and muggles alike. We, like witches and wizards, were sought after, hunted. Like all magical beings were kept ourselves hidden. Forming societies away from muggles, but still part of a wider community. Then, witches and wizards began noticing that we were different, that our powers were much greater than they had ever imagined and they exploited us. We are the most trustworthy of creatures, and if we make a promise, we can never break that pledge. We had to hide from it, we were scared that terrible people would start using us for their rise to power, so we went underground, away from everyone. Not everyone was happy about this decision; some thought that it wasn’t mine to make, but I knew what was best for our kind and it wasn’t what would have happened if we stayed put. We watched Voldemort's rise and fall. We watched as Albus Dumbledore sought the Deathly Hallows. We watched as countless good and bad fell. We watched as you fought. And we watched as you fell, Miss Granger. We felt like this was the time to reconnect with the people we longed to speak to for many years. We knew that with your backing, nobody would dare exploit us again. I’m here to extend my hand, to ask if you will help us to become part of the magical community we left so many years ago, to ask if you will help bring Fairies back.”

 
Harry couldn’t even begin to fathom what had just been said. Hermione, on the other hand, seemed less confused – something which was very common in their friendship. “It’s true? It’s all true?” Hermione whispered. “The book my father used to read to me said there were three sub-groups.”

 
“Your muggle book made some mistakes, Miss Granger. There are three sub-groups, yes, but I am the leader of the biggest group of all, I am the leader of the Mixlings, also known as General Fairies. It’s a bit like your Pure Bloods, Half-Bloods and Muggle Born, the three groups cross bred, and Mixlings became more familiar and less discriminated against.”

 
“Fire, Wood and Meadow,” Hermione said as she looked at Harry. “How come we never learnt about Fairies at Hogwarts?”

 
“We went into hiding so long ago; nobody is alive who remembers us. We destroyed all evidence of ourselves.”

 
“And you want to come out of hiding?”

 
“We’re beginning to struggle. We’ve lost hundreds and numbers are starting to deplete. Fairy genes outnumber all other genes. If one of your parents is a fairy, you will be a fairy, Mr Potter.”

 
Harry looked up at him, unsure why he was being addressed to, but wanting to say something. Wanting to do something to thank this wonderfully strange man in front of him. “What do you need from us?” He found his voice.

 
“Nothing, not quite yet, but I will get in contact with you when I feel you can help us the most. It goes without saying that I don’t want you to repeat anything you have heard today. I don’t want you to tell the Healers the reason you are alive and show no signs of damage. I don’t want you to talk about us until I have given the go ahead. It may take years, it may never happen, but if it does, I will have a plan, and you will follow it. Do you understand?” He asked sternly, but still, his voice sounded calm and friendly. Nothing about this man signalled anything wrong or evil.

 
“We understand, Mr Ewing,” Hermione nodded.

 
“Just one thing, before you go,” Harry called as the man walked towards the door. “Is Hermione-”

 
“She’s absolutely perfect, Mr Potter. There is nothing to worry about. You could even pretend like none of this has happened.” He said with his back to them before vanishing from sight.

 
“Hey, can we come in now?” Aoife asked as the four of them appeared at the door just as Mr Ewing had disappeared.

 
“Of course, come in.” Hermione smiled.

 
“What did you say? Is everything okay?” Aengus asked.

 
“Everything’s perfect,” Harry explained, “he said that Hermione might be able to go home soon if Mr Mungo agrees.”

 
Aoife gasped, “Mr Mungo? You’ve got Mr Mungo treating you? He’s the seventh Mungo to go into Healing. His great, great, great, great-grandfather founded this place. Nobody has ever been good enough to overthrow the Mungo’s to become the boss.”

 
“Do you want to stay and meet him?” Hermione asked.

 
“Could I? That would be fantastic! Thank you!” She squealed.

 
Noise from behind Aoife made everyone jump, “sorry; I should take this.” Aengus said gazing down at his phone and frowning.

 
“I’m going to go, too,” Ardal announced, “I’m so glad you’re okay, Hermione. See you all later.”

 
“Thanks for all your help, Ardal!” Harry called after him. “You’re going to stay, aren’t you Ron?” Harry turned to him.

 
“Of course, I went to Mum and Dad’s and explained what has happened. They’re with your parents, Hermione. Do you know when Mr Mungo will be in to see you?”

 
“He was talking to my parents, but if they’re now with yours, I don’t know where he is. I’m sure he won’t be too long.”

 
“Not too long at all,” a tall man with a greying beard and little head hair said as he walked in. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, Miss Granger. I’ve spoken to every conceivable person, and no one seems to be able to explain why this has happened. I’ve talked to Julie Eliot, but she was just as surprised to hear you were alive. I’m happy to let you leave; I just wanted to see you myself first. I’m sorry we couldn’t give you more answers.”

 
“That’s alright, Mr Mungo. Sometimes things just don’t have answers.” Hermione said carefully.

 
“She’s alive; that’s all that really matters,” Harry included.

 
“Indeed,” Elrick said through narrowed eyes. “You must be Aoife Curran,” he said as he turned to face Aoife.

 
“That’s right; it’s good to meet you, Sir.” She extended her hand, and he took it firmly in his.

 
“I look forward to working with you. Miss Granger, I would like you to keep in contact for the foreseeable future. Good evening.” He nodded his head surely and walked away from them.

 
“He’s looking forward to working with me,” Aoife squealed, staring at the hand he had shaken. “Did you hear that, Ron? He’s looking forward to working with me !”

 
“Can we go now?” Hermione interrupted, “I don’t think this is a good place to celebrate Aoife’s exciting news.”

 
“Definitely,” Ron agreed.

 
“We’ll meet you at your parents, Ron,” Harry suggested.

 
“See you there,” he nodded as he took Aoife’s arm and spun around.


“Can we really keep this a secret?” Harry whispered, despite the fact they were very much alone.

 
“We’re going to have to; you heard what he said. Just put it out of your mind, it’ll be fine. Besides, we’re joining the ministry in a couple of weeks, there we will have more influence, and so we won’t be keeping secrets for too long.”

 
“If you saw so.” Harry smiled, taking Hermione’s hand and helping her up.
 

“Before we go to the Weasley’s, can we go home? I think we need to celebrate properly.” She grinned, glancing down at her left hand.

 
“Hmm let me think about that,” he smirked.



*



“Where is she? If she’s okay, why can’t we see her?” Mrs Granger asked frantically as Ron did his best to explain.

 
“I don’t know where she’s gone, Mrs Granger. She’s with Harry, and I’m sure they’re both alright.”

 
“With all due respect, Ron, the fact she’s with Harry doesn’t lessen our worry. She was with Harry when she di-” Mrs Granger couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence.
 

“Obviously, we don’t blame him whatsoever, but right now we want to get her away from magic.” Mr Granger took over.
 

“Take her away from magic? But it’s her life,” Ron replied.
 

“No, it became her life. Her life used to be with us without magic.”
 

“Ron, I need you to help me with something,” Aoife asked quickly, trying to stop an argument irrupting.


“With what?” He asked vacantly, turning back to face the Grangers.

 
“Packing,” Aoife lied, she was disappointed in herself, that was the worst lie she could have possibly come up with.

 
“We don’t want to take her away, Ron, but it’s the safest thing to do. We can’t have her in a world that has threatened to kill her on more than one occasion.”

 
“You don’t understand, Sir, Hermione belongs in this world. Magic chose her for a reason, and that reason was to help save it. You could try and take her away, maybe you’ll succeed, but she won’t thank you for it, I can tell you that.” Ron said, seemingly as though he had made his peace as he didn’t hang around to hear the reply from either of them.

 
“Ron’s right, this is my world now.” Everybody had failed to realise that Hermione and Harry had arrived some moments before the start of the conversation. “This is where I belong and if you can’t accept that, maybe you can’t accept me.” Her head dropped as her parents gazed at her.

 
“You’ve got to understand that this is impossible for us. We don’t understand things like you do. Nobody warned us that this would happen.”

 
“Nobody knew, mum. Nobody knew I would become best friends with Harry and Ron and nobody knew what we would be up against. There are things I don’t understand,” her left hand rested on her heart as she took a step forward, “but what I do understand, what I know more than ever before, is that I belong here.”

 
Her parents looked at her and then at each other, “we knew this would happen the moment she read that letter, Rose.” Mr Granger said reasonably.

 
“We didn’t know that the world she was about to enter was in the middle of a terrifying war.”

 
“The war is over, Mrs Granger,” Harry stepped forward this time. “What happened today isn’t easy to explain or understand, but she’s safe. I will never let anything happen to her again, I promise.”
“We can’t be sure of that anymore, Harry. This happened today right in front of you.”

 
“True,” he agreed, thinking about what he could say to help, “but it’s too late. The whole wizarding world knows her face now. She would be less safe without magic because she wouldn’t be able to defend herself.” Maybe stating that their only child would be in grave danger for the rest of her life wasn’t the best way to go about things. Mrs Granger’s face went from slight concern to absolute sheer panic. “I don’t mean it like that,” Harry quickly added.

 
“What Harry is trying to say,” Hermione glared at him, “is I’m just as safe in both worlds. But here, I have the backup of witches and wizards.”

 
Mrs Granger sighed knowing she was fighting a losing battle. “You look like you could do with some tea,” Mrs Weasley announced from behind the two muggles. “Arthur told me all about your love of
tea. I’ve got some supplies just in case. Come on through.”
 

“Thank you,” Hermione mouthed as the three of them walked through to the kitchen.
 

“I’m sorry, Hermione. I didn’t help at all there, did I?” Harry asked shamefully.
 

“I wouldn’t say that,” Hermione smiled, “you may have helped a tiny bit,” she laughed. “I’m going to spend some time with them, they’ve had a busy day.”
 

“See you later,” Harry smiled, he stepped forward to kiss her forehead.

 
*

 
The evening hadn’t quite gone according to plan, Harry thought as he walked around the house in search of anyone he could talk to while Hermione was busy with her parents. He supposed he should be with them as well, but he felt like he would put his foot in it. Harry tried Ron’s room, but strangely he or Aoife wasn't there. He thought about any of the other Weasleys who may know where they had gone so he made a beeline to George’s room. “Hey, Harry, congratulations and sorry about what happened after. Luckily nobody got hurt. Do they know what happened to Hermione?”
 

“Thanks, George,” he grinned, “no, they have no idea,” Harry said, “it’s a miracle.”
 

“Completely. I’m glad everything worked out well in the end, though. Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t come here to talk about that. What can I do for you? Do you want a job?” He joked.
 

“I’m alright for a job, I was looking for Ron, have you seen him?”
 

“No, I haven’t. I suppose he’s with Aoife somewhere.” George informed him. “I assume you’ve tried his room?”
 

“Yes, he isn’t there. Thanks,” Harry sighed as he walked away.
 

“Bye then!” George called after him.
 

 
“Oh, hi Ginny, sorry for bumping into you there,” Harry said as he and Ginny met in the hall.

 
“What are you doing here?” She asked rather abruptly.

 
“Well, did you hear what happened to Hermione?” Ginny nodded, so Harry continued, “her parents are here, and she’s trying to calm them down.”

 
“Right, so what are you doing in the hallway?”

 
“I was just talking to George, Ginny, what’s wrong?” Harry asked suspiciously, Ginny was acting entirely out of character.

 
“Nothing, I just wasn’t expecting to see you is all.”

 
“Sorry…” Harry replied tentatively.

 
Ginny wanted nothing more than to cry. She was staring at the boy who only a couple of years ago, she was with and she thought they were happy. Now he was engaged, but unlike her dreams she used to have, the ring wasn’t on her finger. “Don’t apologise, Harry,” she sighed, one reason she was so upset was because of how nice he was. She could hate him if it weren't for that.
 

“When are you going back to Wales?” Harry asked trying to diffuse the tension.
 

“In the morning,” Ginny replied bluntly. “The season starts soon, and I’m hopeful that I can get some game time.”
 

“You’ll be great, we’ll have to come down and watch a game soon,” Harry smiled.

 
“Yeah,” she replied quietly. “Harry, I can’t do this, I’m sorry. I can’t talk freely like nothing has happened. I just need some time to get my head around this.”
 

“I thought we were alright?”

 
“Why? Because we danced together and I said I didn’t blame you? Just because I don’t blame you doesn’t mean I’m going to be okay with you getting engaged. You won’t understand it, you can’t understand it.”

 
“Ginny, I’m-”

 
“I know, I just need some time,” she repeated, “I will be able to say congratulations sincerely sometime soon, I promise you,” there was a small smile, something which Harry valued – at least she wasn’t trying to lie.

 
“Harry, can you come down here, please?” Mrs Weasley called from the bottom of the house.

 
“I guess that’s my cue to leave,” Harry laughed.

 
“See you around,” Ginny nodded, watching as he walked away.
 

 
“Harry, Hermione has something to ask you,” Mrs Weasley was grinning from ear to ear, along with the Grangers.

 
“Harry, I want us to get married as soon as possible. I don’t want to wait around. Is that alright with you?”
 

He wanted to seem like he was thinking about it, but his answer came almost immediately. “We better get planning then,” he smiled.

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