I looked down at my plate as I moved my fried breakfast around with my fork. It wasn't that I wasn't hungry, but as the days went by it became harder and harder to even stomach food during that first meal of the day. The normally, enticing scent of bacon and sausages did nothing but make my stomach churn.

My eyes moved upwards as I waited anxiously for the owls to arrive with the post, praying to Merlin that one of my parents had finally decided to write to me.

"Juliet!" Alice's voice snapped my attention to her. "Are you even listening?"

For the first time that morning I paid attention to what was going on around me. I was no longer alone, Alice and Lily had sat at either side of me, obviously trying to talk to me. Marlene and Dorcas were sat opposite, they too were staring at me as though I was a raving lunatic.

I shook my head as I turned back to Alice. "I was in a world of my own."

"We could tell." Lily had her usual kind smile plastered on her face. "Is everything alright? You've been a bit distant for a few days."

"I, uh," I stammered, "I'm fine. I've just been expecting an important letter."

All I wanted was to hear from one of my parents. I needed them to let me know what was going on and how Mom was doing. It had been four days since I'd seen Dad and I still hadn't heard from them.

My stomach clenched as I looked back to where the owls would be making their entrance any moment.

"Jules." Lily nudged me with her elbow but her voice remained soft. "You're doing it again."

"Sorry." I snapped my attention back to the girls, forcing myself to listen to their conversation. If I didn't want to tell them what was going on I'd have to do a better job at acting normal. I plastered my best fake smile on my face. "What were we talking about?"

"Girls night." Marlene snapped with an eye roll. "Tonight. Are you coming or not?"

"I'll probably pass." I said more to Lily and Alice than Marlene. "I really should get some work done."

Marlene let out a long breath before a satisfied smirk made its way onto her face. She wasn't even bothering to pretend that she wasn't happy about me not turning up.

"Nope." Lily was shaking her head at me. "You've spent too much time in that library."

"We're not taking no for an answer." Alice flashed me her best grin before she shared a look with Lily.

Uneasiness temporarily washed over me at the thought of not researching ways I could help my mom, but that quickly disappeared when it dawned on me that it was the perfect opportunity to show them that I wasn't as distracted as I really was. And maybe, just maybe, I could get drunk and forget all about my problems.

"Fine." I threw my hands up in the air in mock surrender, forcing out a small giggle as I did.

At that moment the post arrived in a flurry of wings. I scanned the owls looking for my own. Not that it was difficult. As soon as I saw the first blur of black I knew I had post. For the first time in days I felt hopeful that some of my questions were about to get answered.

Athena landed gracefully on my plate before she dropped a letter in my lap. I brushed my hand through her sleek, black feathers as she nipped my cheek affectionately, stealing a small smile out of me.

"Finally!" I picked up a small piece of bacon off my plate and gave it to her. "It's about time, Athena."

My good mood lasted for all of a split second, disappearing as soon as I realised the handwriting on the letter didn't belong to any of my family.


I know you don't want to hear this, but maybe you need to start accepting that she doesn't want help. You went through this last time and look at the state you got yourself in. There might not be anything you can do.

And tell them! Don't be silly and push them away. You'll need your friends around you, especially because I can't be there to deal with it with you.

Of course I'm staying with you at Christmas. I wouldn't miss an opportunity to see your beautiful face. I'm going to have forgotten what you look like by the time I see you again.

Remember to look after yourself. I know what you get like. You need to eat, no matter what! If I'm not satisfied when I see you I will be having words with these girls I've heard so much about.

I miss you too.

Love you more.


My shoulders dropped as I scanned through the letter before I placed it on the table next to Athena, who was revelling in the attention she was getting from all the girls, apart from Marlene, who was scanning through The Daily Prophet.

A gasp of horror escaped from Marlene's mouth, her hand shooting up to cover it. She slowly moved the newspaper down, her eyes were wide, her mouth opening and closing as she struggled to find the words to say.

"What is it?" Dorcas spoke for the first time as she picked up the paper off the table, her dark eyes scanning over the page to find what it was that had Marlene seen. "Oh, Merlin."

"Four families were killed last night." Marlene was scanning the Ravenclaw table for someone as she spoke to us. "There was only one survivor and that's because they're here."

"Who is it?" Lily followed Marlene's gaze but she didn't appear to find who she was looking for.

"MacDougal." Dorcas' voice flat with know hint of emotions as she stared at the front cover of the newspaper.

"That can't be right." James chimed in revealing that he, and most likely the rest of the boys had been listening to our conversation. "Freddie's from a long line of pure-bloods."

"They haven't exactly kept it a secret that they don't agree with what Voldemort is working towards." Sirius stated, getting involved in a conversation with us in what felt like forever.

"I just assumed we'd be safe, you know?" Marlene was still staring at the Ravenclaw table, the colour had drained from her face. "Any one of our families could be next."

My stomach tied itself in a knot at the thought of my mom at home on her own; ill and defenceless. All whilst people are going around and killing people just like my family. And why? Just because we didn't mind muggles?

Athena gently nipped at my cheek again to get my attention now that everyone had stopped giving her fuss.

"I'm sure we have nothing to worry about." Remus always seemed to be the voice of reason when everyone needed it. The optimist who was always trying to give people hope when they saw none. "Freddie's dad was publicly open with his opinions on what was going on. None of our parents are."

"Remus is right." Lily agreed, trying to comfort Marlene. "And there's no reason that we would be on his radar."

"This is the first time we've known one of the families." Peter piped up from next to Sirius, his beady blue eyes landed on Marlene. "This war has suddenly become real. Even here we're not safe from being affected."

"Do you not remember what happened to Mary?" Lily snapped causing Peter to recoil slightly.

"Who's Mary?" I managed to keep my voice even, despite the internal panic that was slowly engulfing me.

"Mary MacDonald was a muggle-born in our year." Alice explained, sadness reaching her eyes as she did. "Mulciber attacked her with dark magic back in our fifth year."

This time it was my turn to gasp. "Did she...die?" I whispered the last word, trying to think back to whether I'd ever been introduced to a Mary.

"No." Dorcas' eyes seemed to grow a shade darker than her already almost black eyes. "She was really hurt thought. A month in St Mungo's and she was as good as new. Or as good as she was going to get."

"So what happened to her?" I asked as I absent-mindedly ran my fingers through Athena's jet black feathers.

I followed Lily's gaze as she turned around to look at the Slytherin table. Her gaze landed on a boy I recognised from our potions class. A boy that was laughing and joking with Regulus.

Mulciber was quite attractive. His face was chiselled, with a strong jaw line. Bright blue eyes stood out against his slightly tanned skin and dark brown cropped hair.

"Her parents pulled her out of school." Lily never once moved her green eyes from the boy who had her attention. "She didn't feel comfortable coming back whilst he was still here."

He didn't look evil. Especially as he sat there, a big grin on his face, dimples in his cheeks, whilst Regulus smirked at whatever he had said. If it wasn't for the fact that I had just been told I would never have thought the blue-eyed boy would have been capable of anything like that.

"How do you know he did it?" I didn't once take my eyes off Mulciber and Regulus.

"Everyone knows." James shrugged at the old news. "Rita Skeeter wrote an article about it."

"And they're all fine with it?" I nodded over to the Slytherins before turning to face them, my eyes instantly catching Remus' eyes.

Remus nodded and gave me a sad smile.

"They're all as bad as each other." Sirius scoffed as he glared towards the table. "Most of them just found it funny and laughed about it. I wouldn't piss on a single one of them if they were on fire."

"You can't really be trying to suggest that there isn't a single person in Slytherin that is half decent." I shook my head in disbelief. I refused to accept that Regulus had anything to do with what they were talking about.

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Sirius scowled in my direction but he made sure not to meet my gaze.

He literally made my blood boil. His own brother was sat at the table in question and he refused to even acknowledge it. He was so set in thinking that every Slytherin was bad that he wouldn't even give any of them a chance. They all were!

"And I'm sure every single one of them thinks the same about you." The words came out of my mouth before I could stop myself.

"Well, then every single one of them is wrong." Sirius laughed, Peter chuckling along with him.

"Or you're just a very deluded boy." I couldn't stop myself from scowling at him as I ruffled Athena's feathers one last time before she flew off the way she came from.

Before Sirius had a chance to say anything else to me I excused myself from the table, saying goodbye to the girls as I threw my bag over my shoulder. As I walked out of the great hall I could feel Sirius' glare burning into my back but I wasn't going to let him get to me. Not once did turn back or drop my head until I was well on my way to my first lesson of the day.

* * * * *

By the time lessons had finished for the day I was so drained, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and try to get an early night. Telling that to the girls, though, was out of the question. Alice was persistent, there was no way she was going to let me get out of it, especially after not being around for a few days.

It was for that reason, and that reason alone, that I found myself being dragged from the common room when everyone else was settling in for a fun evening. Alice and Lily were either side of me, as though to make sure that I didn't escape their clutches, whilst Dorcas and Marlene followed behind.

"Where are we going?" I asked, letting the two girls link their arms with mine and lead the way. "I thought we were just going to have a girls night in the dorm?"

"Who said anything about staying up there?" Marlene blew air out of her nose as she spoke to me. It was like she was forcing herself to even be part of the same conversation, finding any reason to speak to me like shit.

It was very clear that, despite the arguments and lack of time spent with Sirius, she still had a problem with me. I really didn't understand why though. It's not like I actually did anything wrong. If anything, she should have been taking whatever her problem was out on Sirius.

"Ignore her. Her and Sirius fell out again." Alice turned around to throw a stern look at Marlene. A warning look. "She'll be fine once she's got a couple of drinks in her."

I nodded in understanding, my questions answered by the one short sentence. Of course she was going to take out her problems on me. I was a perfectly good punching bag for her. Especially because she could try and blame me for all her relationship problems.

"And we can't tell you." Lily nudged me with her elbow, sending me a wink as she did. "It's a surprise, but you're going to love it."

I gave Lily a weak smile as we continued walking down to the fifth floor. As we went, Alice found herself gushing about how sweet the letter she received from her boyfriend was and how much she couldn't wait to see him. I wasn't really paying too much attention, nodding my head and making sounds of agreement at random intervals. It seemed to work as she didn't once waver from Frank.

"Here we are." Alice sang, her whole body was basically vibrating with excitement as she said the password.

The door swung open and the four girls all headed straight in whilst I stood in the doorway, taking in the entire room. To one side of the room there were toilet stalls, with nothing special about them. Every single part of the floor and walls where the whitest marble I had ever seen and there was a candle-filled chandelier that gave the room a soft glow.

In the floor, on the other side of the room was a giant, empty swimming pool, equipped with a diving board. Or what looked like a swimming pool, except it had hundreds of gold taps around the outside of it, each tap had a different colour jewel on it. To one side of the bath, or swimming pool, was a rack filled with all these different bath products, from shampoo to bath salts, to moisturiser.

That wasn't the part that grabbed my attention. It was the large, stained glass windows that I couldn't tear my eyes away from. There was a mermaid brushing her hair, looking around the bathroom, taking in each of us one at a time.

"Are you just going to stand there gawking?" Marlene snapped, yet again. "Some of us would appreciate it if you shut the door."

I stepped into the room, letting the door slam shut behind me and watched as Lily started turning certain taps on to fill the giant tub up. It wasn't just water coming out of the taps, bubbles were filling the tub too. Different coloured bubbles that were gradually creating a rainbow effect above the water.

"I am definitely not dressed for this." I gestured towards my jeans and top as I watched the other girls take their clothes off to reveal swim suits.

Alice and Lily both seemed to wear bikinis that matched their eyes. A bright blue halter-neck bikini for Alice and emerald green strapless one for Lily. Dorcas was wearing a simple black one piece. Finally, Marlene was wearing a bright red bikini, that somehow managed to make her boobs look even bigger than normal.

"Marlene." Alice basically scolded as she gave Marlene yet another warning look.

"Keep it." Marlene said, looking down her nose at me. "I definitely do not want it back once you've worn it."

The bikini landed by my feet so I quickly bent down to pick it up, silently wishing it could have been anyone else that was lending it to me. "Thank you." I grumbled, forcing myself to be polite to the girl who was made it blatantly obvious that she hated me.

I disappeared into one of the toilet stalls to change into the bikini, cleaning it before hand with a simple spell. I was surprised at how perfectly it fit, and how much the white stood out against my slightly tanned skin.

When I came out of the toilet the bath was already full and the girls were passing around a bottle of elf-made wine, each person swigging from the bottle before passing it to the next person.

"Why haven't you brought me here before?" I went and joined the other girls, sitting on the edge of the pool with my feet dangling in the warm water. "It's amazing."

"It's for prefects, head girls and boys and quidditch captains." Alice put the bottle to her lips, guzzling some of the wine down before passing it to me.

"Which means Potter has access to the room." Lily sighed with an eye roll.

"And wherever Potter goes, the rest are sure to follow." Dorcas' voice was low as she jumped into the pool with a small splash.

"And the four of them are in here a whole lot more than they'd like people to think." Alice moved to sit behind Lily and started plaiting her hair.

I took a swig out of the sweet, fruity wine. It was amazing. Taking one last, long drink before I passed the wine to Marlene, which she promptly snatched away from me.

My eyes narrowed as I glared at her. I wished she'd just disappear. How could I have a good night when she was constantly pulling faces or making snidey comments about me?

"You're welcome." I exclaimed loudly but I was only ignored.

Instead, Alice gave me a sad smile before grabbing a second bottle out of her bag. "You need something stronger?" She offered me the bottle of firewhiskey which I gladly accepted.

"Since we got the good stuff out, might as well play a little game." Marlene's voice was sickly sweet, a dead give away that she was planning something, and I would put money on that it would involve me. "You know, get to know each other a bit better."

I resisted the urge to scoff. If the others thought she was being sincere there was no way I could throw it in her face. She'd just turn the whole thing around on me and I'd be the bad guy. Again.

"Sure." I dragged the word out, making sure to match her smile with my own. "Everyone knows the rules?"

Everyone except Marlene nodded their answer. She just sat their smirking at me.

I wasn't stupid. I'd met people like Marlene before, and if she thought I didn't know her game she was mistaken. My skin was a lot thicker than she realised and it wasn't going to be that easy for her to make a fool out of me. Game or no game.

Lily pulled some small, plastic cups from Alice's bag before handing one to everyone, letting me fill them all up with the firewhiskey.

"Who's going to go first." Dorcas asked before she swam to the edge Marlene was sitting at and pulled herself up to sit next to her.

"I will." Alice grinned, her eyes shining brightly at the prospect of playing a game. "Let's start off easy, shall we? Never have I ever stolen anything from a shop."

Everyone except Lily and Dorcas took a swig of their drink before Lily took her go, followed by me, Marlene then Dorcas.

The first few rounds were pretty basic. Everyone was just trying to get everyone else to drink at this stage. Questions like whether we'd ever cheated on a test, cheated on a person, been in love, got detention; were just to name a few.

It was on Marlene's third go that she decided it was time to up the anti.

"Never have I ever," Marlene's eyes met mine, "fallen in love with someone else's boyfriend."

She raised her cup to me, as though to say cheers and I downed the rest of my drink, not once looking away from her. The firewhiskey scorched my throat but I refused to show her it bothered me.

Suddenly the door to the bathroom opened, resulting in a collection of groans coming from the other girls as they turned their attention to whoever had walked through the door. I had barely turned my head towards the door when a body crashed into me, sending my flying into the pool, the cup flying from my hand and also landing somewhere in the pool.

Water forced it's way up my nose and down my throat so when I finally emerged from beneath the water I was nothing but a spluttering mess.

Turning around in the pool, I came face to face with a bright, cheeky grin and mischievous hazel eyes. Skimming my hand through the water, I splashed as much water in his face as I could. It was impossible not to smile back at the happy-go-lucky boy.

"So much for girls night." I grumbled as I looked past James, my eyes landing on Remus, Sirius and Peter making their way over to the pool.

My heart sped up, as it always did at the sight of initial sight of Sirius. It didn't last long. The second me and my poor heart realised he was still his cold self I made sure not to waste my time dwelling on it. A quick internal pep talk was all it talk to calm myself down. He wasn't going to ever know that he still had this effect on me.

"Did you not bolt the door, Jules?" Lily sighed before taking a swig of firewhiskey. Her whole face screwed up as the liquid travelled down her throat.

"Careful, Evans." Black barked, with a laugh. "I won't be the one carrying you to bed when you pass out."

Lily rolled her eyes before holding the bottle out to me. In no time I was next to her, leaning against the side of the pool she was sitting on with the bottle of firewhiskey in one hand. The amber liquid burnt my throat as it slid down it. The burn kept me centred, yet at the same time it was like with every burn, the pain from deep within me got lesser and lesser.

"You guys are just in time!" Marlene basically screeched, everything about her changed as soon as the boys walked into the room. I was no longer on the receiving end of her death glare, instead she posed seductively, making sure her breasts were all that Sirius could keep his attention on. "We're in the middle of Never Have I Ever."

I pulled myself back out of the pool and reclaimed my spot around the pool. Thankfully James and Peter put themselves between me and Sirius. The last thing I needed was to be anywhere near Sirius and Marlene as he whispered whatever in her ear.

Before we continued the game the boys all stripped down to their swimming trunks, obviously not giving up the chance to stay and join in with our game.

"Let's get the drinks flowing, aye?" Sirius sent Alice his signature smirk as she sent drinks around for each of the boys. "Who's go is it?"

All of a sudden the whole idea of playing the game didn't sit well with me. It was one thing her trying to humiliate me in front of the girls that I'd managed to get close to, but to do so in front of Sirius was something I don't think I could face. There was so much that I hadn't told him, things that he'd never find out if it was down to me. Things that she would out me about the first chance she got if she could.

The next round of questions were fairly simple again, most of them designed to make the boys drink. Everyone was obviously giving them a chance to catch up with us before things started getting interested.

"Never have I ever, had sex with anyone in this room." Marlene's eyes darted to Sirius before landing on me to see my reaction to the question. She lifted her drink up to take a swig, keeping her gaze on me.

With a slight blush to my cheeks I quickly took a swig of my drink, Marlene's eyes darkened as I did. Thankfully, Dorcas didn't waste any time in asking her next question.

"Never have I ever been kicked out of a pub or club." Her voice was quiet and husky as she spoke. She seemed to favour looking at Remus, making it completely obvious what her feelings were.

Sirius and I both drank, much to the dismay of Marlene. The more we seemed to drink together, the more she seemed to work herself up.

I kept my attention away from that side of the pool. I wasn't about to let her ruin my night. All I needed to do was ignore her snidey remarks and not let her obvious dislike for me get to me.

"Never have I ever, had sex in this pool." James had the biggest grin on his face as he looked towards his best friend. Who, along with Marlene, both took a sip of their drinks.

"Really?" Lily cried as we all took our feet out of the pool. "You're not even meant to be in here!"

Sirius had the biggest grin on his face as he watched her reaction. "It's a natural thing!" He barked his signature laugh, the sound echoing off all the walls. "Just because you're a prude, doesn't mean we all have to be."

Lily's cheeks flushed pink, which was the only sign that she'd even heard what Sirius had said. James threw a look in Sirius direction and he put his hands up in surrender, despite the cocky grin on his face.

Remus and Pete's questions were pretty basic, but when it got to Sirius his smirk grew. As he pretended to think his eyes landed on me.

"Never have I ever, lied to my friends about why I've been avoiding them." This time it was his turn to raise his cup at me as though he was saying bottoms up.

I took a small drink, ignoring the looks everyone was giving me.

"Never have I ever, slept with someone else boyfriend." It was Marlene's go again and I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

"Really?" I spoke before thinking, not bothering to hide my exasperation. "Is that all you're going to do all night?"

"Drink up." She wasn't even bothering to put on her sickly sweet voice any more. The venom that oozed off her was enough to make anyone flinch back. "We all know you've done it."

"What is your problem?" I snapped at Marlene. I shoved myself up and went to find my wand to dry myself off.

"You're my problem." Marlene quickly copied my actions before making her way to stand in front of me. "Ever since you got here..."

"No way!" I interrupted her. Everyone in the room was staring at me, their mouths hanging open at my sudden outburst. "I'm not going to sit here and have you blame all your problems on me when you should be looking closer to home!"

Alice and James jumped up, rushing over to where Marlene and I were standing in front of one another. Marlene, who was taller than me, looked down at me with a snarl on her lips but I did the only thing I could. Ignored it.

"Guys, come on." Alice place a hand on Marlene's hand but she immediately pulled away from her.

"Why don't you stop trying to accuse me from stealing Sirius from you!" I took a deep breath to push the nerves back down. I stared into her brown eyes, not once giving her any sign that I was at all intimidated by her. "One, he obviously isn't yours or he wouldn't be sleeping with half the girls in the school! Two, I didn't know about you, which once again makes that his problem. Three, the bloke has barely said two words to me since the beginning of the year and you're still threatened! What else can I do to show you that we aren't even friends?"

As I turned away from Marlene a sense of relief washed over me for a moment. It soon disappeared when my eyes landed on a pair of curious grey eyes. Eyes that, for the first time in a long time, weren't cold. The rage bubbled up inside me again but rather than letting it out I took a deep breath and turned away from him.

"It was just a game, Jules." Sirius barked, his voice was soft, yet I could almost hear the smirk on his lips. "You don't have to take it to heart."

"Juliet!" I corrected. My eyes snapped to his and, unless I was mistaken, Sirius flinched slightly at the action. "And you're right, I don't, but I have every right to stand up for myself when someone is going out of my way to make my life difficult. Let's stop it there though, shall we? I don't feel like getting into it with your sorry ass as well."

Alice had dragged Marlene off, and James was stood just behind me, waiting to see if he would have to drag me away from his best friend or not.

Sirius didn't once take his eyes off mine. Amusement flitted across all his features, causing the anger, that I was struggling so much to keep under control, to rise up inside me. I wasn't sure whether it was the drink, my family issues, or his arrogant demeanour had finally struck a nerve.

A bark of laughter escaped from Sirius' lips, my fists clenched together at the sound.

"You don't feel like getting into it with me?" The smirk on his face was all I needed to see to know that he was only getting involved now to try and get a rise out of me. "You act like you're above this, better than me. You're not."

Rather than brushing it off and ignoring it I bit, finally letting out all the anger I'd been holding in. "But I am, Black. I don't use people as and when it suits me. I don't go out of my way to make peoples lives miserable if they don't fit in with my life. Just because you don't have the balls to make your shitty comments to my face, it doesn't mean I can't hear you!"

"You don't use people?" Sirius laughed at me, a humourless laugh. All the amusement had left his face leaving behind a pair of dark eyes that were boring into me. He knew the effect he was having on me. We both did, yet neither did anything to prevent it. "So you weren't in a relationship when we met? You aren't still in it now?"

My mind went black. All the anger I was feeling suddenly disappeared and I was left confused as I looked at the arrogant boy. I knew the confusion was clear on my face as I racked my brain to figure out what the hell he was even going on about.

"Don't play dumb." He laughed again, once again it was empty. He tugged something out of his bag that was beside him. A letter. My letter. " I wouldn't miss an opportunity to see your beautiful face. I miss you too. Love you..." He read.

I snatched the letter out of his hand, the anger had come back ten times worse. "Joe? He's a very old friend. Nothing has, or will ever, happen between me and him. Not that I need to explain myself to you. I don't owe you anything!" I took a step forward, not bothering to hide how fuming I was. "What gives you the right to read my letters?"

"What is it you need to tell them?" He gestured to everyone else in the room and it's like I saw them for the first time. Like I'd suddenly remembered Sirius and myself weren't alone. "What are you going to need their help to get through?" His eyes were nasty, cold, almost lifeless. How could someone so full of life be like that?

"Screw you!" I snapped, tears were forming in my eyes as I looked at the hollow man I thought I once knew. I willed the tears to stay put as I thought back to what Regulus had said.

Don't let them see you cry.

I spun on my heals, picked up my things and a half empty bottle of firewhiskey and stormed out of the bathroom. I didn't care that I was just in a bikini. The only thing I could think about was that I had to get as far away from Sirius as I could. Get away from the constant reminder that he was a pig-headed idiot who enjoyed throwing his toys out of his pram.

I turned a couple of corners before slowing down and leaning against a wall, the cold brick shocking my bare skin. I took the biggest swig of firewhiskey, hoping to forget. To forget about my drama with Marlene. To forget about Sirius. To forget about my family.

A/N: I'd like to thank everyone who is reading/reviewing this story. It really does mean a lot.
And a big shout out to EmmyBacon, thanks for all your reviews. Constant smile on my face when I'm reading them. If anyone wants a new read, go and read her story if you haven't already :)
Hope you all enjoy this chapter :)
Stay tuned for the next chapter. Big Jules and Sirius scene coming up. Hopefully we might get a bit of a breakthrough ;)

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