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Chapter 4 ~ Slytherins and Skulduggery
Rick’s first few weeks at Hogwarts passed relatively uneventfully. He easily caught up with his studies and, thanks to the gifts of Rowena Ravenclaw and others, his homework took him hardly any time at all. That left him with plenty of time for intelligence gathering. He kept close tabs on Harry, using his Legilimency abilities frequently. If Harry was planning to sneak off somewhere or get lured into danger he wanted to know about it. As Hermione had noticed, Rick was frequently absent from the Gryffindor common room of an evening. He was most likely in a common room – just not his own. His most frequent ‘visits’ were to the Slytherin dungeon. Rick was learning how to use more of his gifts. One of the most useful, was the ability to Disapparate, without having to immediately Apparate somewhere else. It was like his body was nowhere at all, but his mind and senses were wherever he wanted them to be. It was much better than just being invisible, because no one could trip over him, hear him, or smell him. He spent quite a lot of time in the Slytherin sixth year boys’ dormitory. Most of it was listening to Draco Malfoy’s boring, arrogant drivel. But occasionally he gleaned some useful information. His Legilimency skills were of more use to him than his ears, because Draco didn’t reveal much. He just made snide, knowing remarks about Harry Potter, Dumbledore and all ‘those Mudblood and Muggle lovers’, insinuating darkly to Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott that they would very soon be getting what they deserved. Rick discovered that Draco himself wasn’t actually privy to the details of what the Death Eaters were planning. However, it was clear that there was to be an attack of some sort on Harry soon, and that Draco would be involved. He was awaiting instructions and a weapon or some other object from his father. There was also a plan to remove Dumbledore as Headmaster. Whenever Rick had some useful information to report, he would Apparate directly to the Headmaster’s office. Professor Dumbledore was most appreciative of the intelligence that Rick was able to provide, and always had a welcoming pot of tea with scones and jam and clotted cream to offer him. He was also helping Rick to understand some of the powers he had received, and from time to time would remind him of the heavy responsibility he bore. “The temptation to abuse your powers should not be underestimated,” he warned Rick very seriously, one evening. “Please remember that for all those powers, you are still human, with all the human frailties. The teenage years can be especially ‘difficult’ ones. You are still a teenage boy, with the powerful hormones and strong desires that go with it,” he added, engaging Rick with a very direct gaze. Rick was getting more embarrassed by the minute and worried about where this conversation might be leading. He had to fight the strong urge to immediately Disapparate out of Dumbledore’s office. But the Headmaster ploughed on, despite Rick’s obvious discomfort. “You must be very careful not to abuse your powers, to satisfy what are, after all, the perfectly normal interests of a boy of your age.” Rick gulped. “Now I’m not suggesting that you should have nothing at all to do with girls. Only that if you are ... hmm, pursuing such ‘interests’, that you should be very careful not to employ your special gifts, particularly your charm.” Rick’s face was glowing red by now. “I’m also sure you will understand that you should be careful in your ‘undercover’ work, not to put yourself in ‘inappropriate’ places and situations,” he concluded. Rick quickly nodded in agreement, then mumbled something about homework and with a hurried “thank you” for the refreshments, he Disapparated out of Dumbledore’s office as fast as he could. Rick had often thought about exactly those subjects, but it was one thing for him to think about it, and quite another to have the Headmaster talking to him about it. He was being careful with his charm, especially around Hermione, because his feelings for her were growing stronger. He had actually made up some rules of conduct; although there was no way he was going to discuss them with the Headmaster. Rule 1 was not to use charm on witches unless it is strategically necessary in the fight against the Dark. He continued to use his charm on Pansy Parkinson, because she was close to Draco and might be helpful – and he certainly didn’t have any romantic interest in Pansy, so that was safe. Rule 2 was not to use Legilimency to find out how Hermione felt about him. Although he probed the minds of Hermione and Ron from time to time in areas relating to Harry and any collective plans of the trio, he was experienced enough now to be able to identify different areas of the mind and only go where he needed to. It was like arriving at a crossroads and choosing which road to follow. He had so far managed to stay away from Hermione’s emotions, although he was dying to know if she had feelings for him, and also how she felt about Ron. He didn’t need his special skills to know that Ron fancied Hermione. Ron was a bit obvious. Rule 3: Stay out of the girls’ dormitories and bathrooms. Well, he did sometimes visit the dormitories of the senior Slytherin girls, but exited fast if they looked like they might be about to take off their clothes. The Slytherin girls weren’t really much of a temptation anyway.
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Defence Against the Dark Arts with Tonks had become the Gryffindors’ favourite class. Unfortunately they had it together with the Slytherins. Sure, Tonks was clumsy and managed to fall over something or someone or herself, at least once or twice a lesson, but she really knew her stuff, and her classes were always fun. She enjoyed teaching them and they enjoyed learning. What a contrast to Potions! Not to mention that her current appearance – whether it was really ‘her’ or not, was very much admired by all the boys. When she demonstrated new moves in front of the class, she always had their undivided attention. Rick had to be careful, and remember not to do everything perfectly the first time. Tonks was amazed at his abilities and to deflect suspicion he said that he’d received personal tuition before coming to Hogwarts from a very skilled wizard, and so already knew a lot of the spells. Rick was always a bit nervous when they paired up for practice and Harry was with Draco. He kept a close ‘watch’ on Draco’s intentions. Today, they were studying the Shield Charm. They were working in pairs. One person would cast the Shield Charm saying Protego, while the other threw a hex at them, which would be blocked if their shield was strong enough. After each person had taken a turn at casting the Shield Charm, they would change partners. Rick was being careful, using weak hexes so as only to penetrate imperfect shields. Like everything else, Hermione was very good at Defence Against the Dark Arts, although it was the one subject where Harry excelled her, at least in the practical part. Hermione cast her shield with a confident “Protego.” It was very strong and she looked smugly at Rick as if to say, “Let’s see you break through that.” Rick couldn’t resist the challenge. “Rictusempra,” he said and sent a Tickling Charm right through the shield. Hermione was furious, but she couldn’t stop laughing; and the more she laughed, the more furious she became. “Finite Incantatum,” said Rick finally, hoping she was not too angry with him. Fortunately it was time to change partners, and before Hermione could say anything, Draco Malfoy stepped up to her, saying smugly, “This should be easy, go on, let’s see you try to cast a shield Granger.” Hermione immediately cast her shield with a firm “Protego.” Draco began hurling hexes at it for all he was worth. But he couldn’t get through, no matter how hard he tried. “I don’t know how you managed that Granger,” said Draco, clearly miffed. “Either sheer luck, or else you spent the whole holidays practicing and swotting up on Shield Charms.” But it’s my turn now; I’ll show you how it’s done. Come on, let’s see you try to even dent my shield,” he said arrogantly. Rick was now partnered with Harry and since they were standing near to Draco and Hermione, he was probing Draco’s mind just to make sure he wasn’t planning anything unexpected. He was - Rick caught it just in time. Instead of casting the Shield Charm, he flung a Furnunculus Curse at Hermione who had dropped her shield, leaving her totally unprotected. “Take that Mudbood,” he spat. Hermione was caught completely off-guard, as she had been looking towards Rick and Harry, wondering if Rick would be able to break Harry’s shield. Rick flicked his left hand in Hermione’s direction casting a Reflecting Shield in front of her. It was something he had recently learned. It deflected the curse back upon its caster, but with double its original potency. Draco’s face began erupting in huge ugly boils. He had no idea what had happened. Tonks asked Pansy to take him to Madam Pomfrey immediately. Then turning angrily to the class she demanded, “Who cast the Furnunculus Curse?” “It was Malfoy – he cast it himself,” said Harry. “I heard him clearly, and saw him. Instead of casting his Shield Charm when it was his turn, he threw a Furnunculus Curse at Hermione. But just before it reached her, it bounced back and hit him square in the face. Maybe Hermione’s Shield Charm was still active or something.” “Shield Charms don’t send back curses like that” said Tonks thoughtfully, “I can’t understand it.” But Hermione could. Well she didn’t actually know what Rick had done or how he had done it. He hadn’t even used his wand, which had been in his right hand. But she had seen him flick his left hand in her direction, and was certain that he was responsible for whatever it was that had protected her – and sent Malfoy’s curse back into his smug face. She was thankful to him, but her suspicions about him were increased even more. First he had penetrated her perfect Shield, and now this, an unknown spell, cast without a wand. But for once in her life Hermione kept quiet. She decided not to reveal to the class what she had witnessed. She was sure now, that Rick was hiding something significant, and she was more determined than ever to find out what it was. When she told Harry and Ron about what she had observed in Defence Against the Dark Arts, their reactions were different. Harry was slowly becoming convinced that Rick really was on their side. He had saved Hermione from a dreadful curse which he had turned back upon Malfoy. But the incident only strengthened his opinion that with all his unexplained power Rick would be dangerous indeed, if he turned out to be their enemy. “I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt for now,” said Harry. “But we should keep a close watch on him, until we are completely certain where his loyalties lie.” Hermione agreed with Harry, but Ron was still unwilling to consider Rick anything but an enemy. “Look,” said Ron reasonably, “How do we know that it wasn’t all an act, to get us to trust him, and then once our defences are down, he moves in for the kill?” “Godfry must have known what Malfoy was planning – no one could have thrown up a shield or whatever it was that fast. So his poor little ferret friend has to spend a few days in the hospital wing, gorging himself on lollies and sweets from endless ‘Comfort Packs’ from mummy dear, while he gets a holiday from schoolwork – big sacrifice that – I could handle it.”
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The following Monday morning was double Potions with Snape – what a way to begin the week. Draco, looking fully recovered from the Furnunculus Curse, was sitting with Pansy. Rick partnered Dean Thomas and Harry and Hermione were together as usual. Rick noticed that Draco and Pansy, who usually sat as far away from the Gryffindors as possible were at the other end of the Slytherin bench today, near to Harry and Hermione. “Today you will be making the Folliculus Rerverus Potion,” began Snape. It was immediately obvious to him that the insufferable, know-it-all Granger, knew all about the potion and could barely wait for him to ask for someone to tell the class about it. Her hand, he imagined, was primed to shoot up as soon as he asked. Humph, desperate as usual, to dazzle us with her knowledge, he thought with disgust. So, instead of asking, he continued immediately on, noting with satisfaction, the look of disappointment on her face. “It is closely related to the Polyjuice Potion, but is simple enough to be brewed in around an hour. Note, that I did not say that it was simple enough for everyone in this class to brew successfully,” he added with a smirk. He then waved his wand at the blackboard upon which the list of ingredients and the method of preparation appeared in his loopy script. The last item on the list of ingredients was three hairs from each person brewing the potion. “One person from each pair, go over to the bench,” he said, “and take your ingredients.” When they had returned to their places, Snape continued. “Correctly brewed, the Folliculus Rerverus Potion exchanges the hair of the two people who brew it. The effect lasts for approximately 24 hours.” There were some muffled giggles from the students as they each looked at their partner’s hair and then at that of the other pairs. “Only one pair will be asked to sample their concoction today, in order to demonstrate how this potion works,” he said. “Madam Pomfrey would never forgive me if I were to fill up the hospital wing with a whole class of re-arranged students,” he added with a smirk. “Be very careful to add each of the ingredients at the proper moment, and then make exactly the requited number of turns in the correct direction. If you do not, or if you should fail to grind the boomslang skin to exactly the correct consistency, your potion could have very unexpected effects.... For example, instead of exchanging the hair on your head, it could exchange ... well, almost any parts of your body at all.” Snape was obviously enjoying himself and finding it hard to conceal a sadistic smile. Everyone guessed who would be sampling the potion, and Snape did not disappoint them. “Potter and Granger, you will be demonstrating the effects of this potion. I do hope that you have been paying careful attention to me, because otherwise Gryffindor house might have to get used to two new students, ‘Herry Grotter’ and Harrmione Panger’. They might have some difficulty deciding which dormitories to put you in,” he added with unconcealed glee. The Slytherins were laughing with delight at the horror on the faces of Harry and Hermione. “Get started,” ordered Snape. Harry decided to allow Hermione to do everything, as she was much better at Potions than him. However he was watching her very carefully and double-checking everything she did against the instructions on the blackboard. Just as they were in the final stages of preparing their potions, an agonised scream came from the far end of the Slytherin bench where Theodore Nott was working with Blaise Zabini. Their cauldron had tipped over drenching Nott, who was screaming in pain. “Stop that terrible squealing Nott,” yelled Snape. “If you have been following my instructions correctly, your potion should be barely above blood temperature at this stage. The potion, whether brewed correctly or not has no effect when applied externally, save perhaps for some minor skin irritation. Get to your dormitory Nott, and get yourself cleaned up. If you feel unwell, then go to Madam Pomfrey. You, Zabini, can clean up that terrible mess.” Several minutes later, Snape handed Harry and Hermione each a goblet. “The moment of truth,” he announced, with a malicious grin. “Fill these completely to the top and then drink the entire contents. “This promises to be most interesting.” Rick began to feel uneasy, as if some sixth sense was warning him that something bad was about to happen. It wasn’t because they might have made a mistake with the potion, it was something far worse, Rick was sure of it. He probed Snape’s mind. No, nothing there but sadistic anticipation, that James Potter’s brat and his insufferable know-it-all friend, could be in for a very unpleasant and embarrassing time. He turned his attention to Draco. Yes, there it was – Harry and Hermione were just minutes away from an agonising death. While everyone’s attention was on the diversion that Blaise had created by deliberately upsetting his cauldron over Nott, Draco had tipped a deadly poison into Harry and Hermione’s cauldron. Draco’s mind was seething with anticipation, imagining the praise of the Dark Lord and the rewards that his father had said were sure to be heaped upon him, as the one who had killed Harry Potter, his master’s great nemesis. Plus he was getting rid of the Mudblood too – an unexpected bonus. As Harry and Hermione nervously raised their goblets to their lips, Rick jumped up and yelled out. “No, don’t drink it!” Snape strode over to Rick, fuming and towering over him, he said menacingly, “As I recall Mr. Godfry, I am the Hogwarts Potions master, not you. I am the one in authority here, not you. I am the one whom the students in the Potions dungeon have to obey, not you. Twenty points from Gryffindor, now sit down and remain silent.” “Potter and Granger, drink the contents of those goblets right now, or you will lose Gryffindor another ten points each.” But Rick did not sit, he stood his ground. “No,” he yelled frantically pushing past Snape, “Don’t touch it, it’s poison!” Snape was now livid. “How dare you disobey me Godfry. Another thirty points from Gryffindor and you are to leave this dungeon now! I want you back here at eight o’clock tonight and for the following six nights. You will be serving detention with me and learning obedience ... something which apparently you did not come across in your copious reading.” “I’m not going anywhere,” said Rick with a tone of steel in his voice, that was starting to unsettle Snape. “Draco Malfoy put poison in Harry and Hermione’s cauldron, when Zabini distracted everyone by upsetting his caldron over Nott. If they drink it they will die.” Snape still didn’t believe Rick. He still thought that he was just trying to save his fellow Gryffindors from the consequences of their own badly brewed potion. But there was a note of authority in Rick’s voice, which he seemed unable to ignore. It created just the slightest doubt in his mind. Certainly he disliked Potter and Granger, but he didn’t want to see any real harm come to either of them. “Prove it,” said Snape. Rick thought for a moment, how was he going to do this? “All right,” he said to Snape. “Why don’t you ask Draco Malfoy to drink a goblet from their cauldron. The Folliculus Rerverus Potion, whether brewed correctly or not only affects the pair who put their hair in it, it would have no affect upon him.” “Correct,” conceded Snape grudgingly. Then attempting to reassert his authority he added, “And when Mr. Malfoy suffers no adverse effects from the potion, I will award fifty points to Slytherin for his kind assistance. Potter and Granger will then drink their potion as requested.” “A further fifty points will be deducted from Gryffindor for your insubordination and fabrications – in addition to the fifty points already deducted. Plus you will have a second week of detention in my dungeon to learn the discipline of obedience ... which you so badly lack.” But Snape’s victorious grin was wiped from his face when Rick enthusiastically agreed to his terms without a moment’s hesitation. Harry, Hermione and Dean Thomas were all turning green at the prospect of Gryffindor going down one hundred points while Slytherin went up fifty – how would they ever catch them up? But before any of them could object, Draco spoke up for the first time. “Well I don’t agree. There’s no way I’m drinking anything out of Potter and Granger’s cauldron.” “Come, come now Mr. Malfoy,” said Snape silkily. “Here is an opportunity for Slytherin to go one hundred and fifty points up on Gryffindor in the House Cup, and I assure you, the potion, no how badly prepared, will have no ill effect upon you, at all.” “No ... no sir,” said Draco nervously, “I ... I ... just don’t trust those Gryffindors.” Snape now stared very hard at Draco, as if he was really seeing him for the first time. His Legilimency skills were not on a par with Rick’s, but it was clear that Draco was lying and hiding something. He was starting to sweat under Snape’s intense scrutiny. “It could all be a trick, between the three of them sir, to poison me,” he said desperately trying to justify himself. All this time, Rick was probing Draco’s mind, trying to find some evidence of what he done. He found it. “Professor Snape,” lied Rick, “I saw Draco pour something into their cauldron from an envelope, that he returned to an inside pocket of his robes.” “Rubbish,” spat Draco, “I didn’t put anything in Potter’s potion and there’s nothing in my pockets.” “Are you sure,” said Rick lifting his wand and uttering the Summoning Charm “Accio.” But Draco clamped his hand over his robes, against the lip of the inner pocket. A Summoning Charm was not going to be strong enough to extract the envelope. Rick quickly did a Severing Charm, opening up a slit beneath Draco’s hand, then before he could cover it said “Accio” again. A brown envelope popped out through the slit and floated towards Rick. Draco made a lunge for it, but Rick used a Banishing Charm to send it up, out of reach and towards Snape who plucked it from the air. He studied it carefully. It had the words Amanita Phalloides written on the outside, in what he immediately recognised as the elegant hand of Lucius Malfoy. He carefully held the envelope at some distance from his face, peering inside at the dregs within. Yes, the label was correct. “Dried and powdered Death Caps,” said Snape. “The most poisonous mushroom in this part of the world. In a concentrated form such as this, it causes death within minutes.” He then carried on as if he were delivering a regular Potions lecture. “Flobberworms are particularly susceptible to fungal poisons. However, their very simple digestive systems are impervious to most other poisons and Potions ingredients. As such, they are ideal for detecting the presence of fungal poisons, particularly as they turn different colours depending upon the variety of mushroom or toadstool they are tested with. Death Caps, for instance, turn them red.” Without missing a beat, he took down a jar from a nearby shelf, and removed a wriggling Flobberworm. First, he dunked it in Rick and Dean’s cauldron. “As you can see,” he said holding it up and examining it, “it suffers no ill-effects from the Folliculus Rerverus Potion. Now let’s see how it fares in this one” he said, dunking it in Harry and Hermione’s cauldron. When he removed the unfortunate Flobberworm, it had turned bright red and swelled to twice its previous size. It was also, obviously, quite dead. “Ah,” observed Snape. “The classic response of a Flobberworm to Death Caps. He then turned to Draco and asked in a feigned tone of casual curiosity, “So would you care to explain Mr. Malfoy, just why you would have an envelope containing a lethal poison such as dried powdered Death Caps in the pocket of your robes, and how most of it seems to have found its way into Mr. Potter’s caldron?” Draco’s face went red, but he kept his mouth shut, he knew that he was cornered. “You do realise Mr. Malfoy, that poisoning one’s fellow students, is completely against school rules,” said Snape with heavy sarcasm. “It shall be my unfortunate duty, to have to report these events to the Headmaster. I must tell you that the certain outcome, will be your immediate suspension from Hogwarts, pending an official enquiry which will, in all likelihood, result in your permanent expulsion from this school. You should also be aware, that attempted murder is a criminal offence, for a wizard of your age, and is punishable by a lengthy sentence in Azkaban.” Draco, held his head high and replied in his most arrogant voice. “I deny everything. Anyone could have put that poison in Potter’s cauldron and then slipped the envelope into my pocket, to pin the blame on me, just to get me expelled. No Malfoy has ever been expelled from Hogwarts, nor convicted like a common criminal.” “My father will not stand for these trumped up charges. I think you will find that he has quite a lot of influence at the Ministry. Then turning angrily on Harry he said, “Don’t worry Potter, I’ll be back ... you’ll keep.” He then turned and stormed out of the dungeon. Snape shrugged his shoulders in resignation. Draco was probably right. His father would get him off. “Everyone clean up, and put your things away,” he said. “All house point deductions and detentions are rescinded,” he added as an afterthought, before exiting the dungeon. “Can you wait a minute Rick?” asked Harry as Dean followed the last of the Slytherins out, leaving Rick, Harry, and Hermione alone in the dungeon. “I just wanted to say thank you. Hermione and I would be dead by now, if it weren’t for you, I don’t know how we can ever repay you.” “I do,” said Rick. “How about you both try trusting me, for a change.” Harry and Hermione both began protesting that of course they trusted him, but Rick brushed their protests aside with a wave of his hand. “Listen, I’m very perceptive, and I know you don’t trust me – OK? Look, I know that I’m a bit different and I can do things that you never learned here at Hogwarts, but please believe me when I say that I’m on your side – one hundred percent.”
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After lunch, Harry, Hermione and Ron were in a private huddle in a corner of the Gryffindor common room. Hermione had recounted the events of the morning’s Potions class to Ron, as the story of Malfoy’s attempted poisoning of Harry and Hermione had not yet got around the school. “So,” said Hermione finally, “Does that change your opinion of Rick then?” Ron was quiet for a few minutes. He was using his not inconsiderable intellectual abilities to try to find an explanation which fitted his dislike of Rick – and he found one. “I’ve got it!” he said triumphantly. “He was in on the whole thing all along. The plan was to poison Harry, right? But as it turned out, both Harry and Hermione would have to drink the potion. Of course Malfoy was probably more than happy to poison Hermione as well – we all know how much he hates her. But, when Godfry discovered that Hermione was going to die as well, he decided to scuttle the whole thing, it’s obvious,” said Ron, clearly convinced by his own argument. “What utter nonsense Ron,” said Hermione. “If he was really in with Voldemort, the Death Eaters and the Malfoys, why would he ruin all their plans just to save a Muggle-born witch, it’s completely absurd!” “No it’s not,” said Ron, “I’ll tell you why. It’s because he fancies you.” “Don’t be ridiculous Ron, of course he doesn’t fancy me. I think I might have noticed if he did.” “Well actually Hermione, you may know every word in ‘Hogwarts, a History’ and half the books in the library, but there are some things that you just don’t seem to have a clue about,” said Ron. “Oh, that’s rich coming from you, Ron. You can’t see what’s right under your nose sometimes, if it doesn’t happen to fit in with your prejudices,” retorted Hermione angrily. “You’re wrong Hermione, if you’re talking about Godfry,” said Ron. “I gave you a perfectly rational explanation for what happened in Potions this morning. It explains everything. How do you explain the fact that Godfry alone, managed to catch Malfoy putting something in your caldron, when everyone else was distracted by Zabini’s diversion?” “Even if he did see Malfoy put something in your cauldron, how could he be so certain that it was a deadly poison, that he would dare to stand up to Snape like that and risk going a hundred and fifty points down against Slytherin? How did he know that it wasn’t just a harmless prank – the sort of thing that Fred and George would get up to? Go on, tell me then,” demanded Ron. “He’s got a point,” said Harry, “It is kind of hard to explain.” “Oh, I’m so confused,” said Hermione. “There are just so many things he seems to know and do which I really don’t understand, but there is something about him that makes me trust him, I just can’t explain it. “Oh, come on Hermione,” replied Ron. “Since when are you the ‘intuitive type’, going on feelings rather than using your brilliant mind. You know what ... I think you fancy Godfry! That’s why you’re behaving so out of character. That’s why you’re so blind to his true intentions.” “Ron, that’s enough,” cried Hermione, jumping to her feet, “I do not fancy Rick Godfry, I’ve never heard anything so stupid in all my life,” and with that she dashed up to her dormitory. “She does fancy him you know,” Ron said to Harry in a jealous tone, “I’m sure of it.” “Yeah, I think you might be right there,” said Harry. “I just don’t know what to think any more, it’s just too confusing.” “We’re going to have to keep an eye on her you know,” sighed Ron. “Oh well, look on the bright side mate, we’ve gotten rid of that git Malfoy.” “For now,” replied Harry, “But let’s wait till he’s safely locked up in Azkaban before breaking out the butterbeers.”
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