Good-byes and Hellos
Surprises, quick thinking and family 'secrets' come into play, and the D.A. has only been at King's Cross for five minutes! It's family reunion time, with more pleasant surprises. 'Big Hug'
Good-byes and Hellos
The wind whipped at their hair and clothes. Draco, Theo and Neville knew instantly what had happened.
"Grab your wand and be ready," Neville yelled. "Stun first, ask questions after."
"I can't believe my own Mother..."
"She was under an 'Imperious'," shouted Draco, looking down. "We're starting to land. When I say /now/, kick your feet down and bend your knees; keeps you from falling."
The other two nodded, having pulled out their wands.
With a couple of grunts, they landed. Spinning around, they saw three Wizards with very surprised looks on their faces, two of whom Draco recognized instantly.
"Expelliarmus!" "Stupefy!" "Incarcerous!" "Silencio!" "Petrificus Totalus!" "Accio wands!"
In seconds, Draco, Theo and Neville were looking at Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle and Theo's father lying on the ground, bound and obviously astounded by what had just happened to them. Their looks of silent, wide-eyed surprise turned to looks of anger and frustration as the boys began to walk over to where the three rested, unmoving and mute.
Neville pocketed the three wands and then bent and picked up the necklace and ring. Handing it to Theo, he followed Draco to where Crabbe and Goyle lay, a little way across the grass. Theo stepped toward his Father.
"Hello boys!" Draco smiled down. "Surprise! Bet you didn't expect three of us, now, did you? My, my, my, you two haven't gotten any smarter, have you? Well, you're soon going to get a really good lesson in what the 'Crucio' spell feels like, as I imagine old Tom will be none too pleased to hear about this little cock-up of yours."
"Now, Draco...is that any way to speak to these two dangerous Death Eaters?" Neville stood there, twirling his wand.
"No, I suppose not.....what did you have in mind?"
"Hello Father. Can't stay and chat but do a favor for me, won't you? Tell your Master that Mother did as she was forced to do, and that I will see to her welfare, personally/, from now on. You're the only member of the Nott family he'll /ever hear calling him anything except 'Tom Mudblood Riddle'. You've made your choice and so have I. Goodbye, Father."
"Oh, that's just wrong, Neville!" Draco was giggling.
"Yes, I know...but I couldn't resist."
Theo walked up beside them.
"We've got to get out of...here..." He looked down and did a double take. "Oh, Merlin, whatever possessed you, Neville?"
"Revenge is sweet and so are these two."
Neville bowed to the two livid teenage boys lying on the ground, dressed in pink pinafores, white blouses, white knee socks and black Mary Jane patent leather shoes with pretty pink bows in their hair.
"I had an 'Umbridge' moment."
The three D.A. members stood there, grinning, then turned and looked around.
"You're right, Theo; we better get going before anyone shows up," agreed Neville.
"Like my Aunt Bella," said Draco.
"But how? Should we try to 'Side-by Apperate' back to King's Cross?" Theo wondered.
"Portkey here." Draco leaned over and grabbed the chain and ring from Theo's hand. "Portkey back."
"You can make a Portkey?" Neville asked. "I'm impressed, Draco."
"Father taught me, 'for emergency getaways' he said," Draco informed them.
"Well, I would say this situation certainly qualifies."
"Ok, grab hold." Draco raised his wand.
"Goodbye, Father." "So long, girls!"
Harry was trying to keep May-eye Moody from going ballistic on Mrs. Nott, who, having come around from her fainting spell, was crying hysterically in Daphne's arms. Daphne was not in much better shape, but could at least comprehend what was being said.
"It's not her fault! Stop yelling at her, you old goat!"
It had been a chaotic scene for the past few minutes, as the D.A. had gathered around Daphne and Mrs. Nott and the remaining students and their parents, with Remus and Arthur's guidance, had rushed around them and through the barrier to escape the platform.
"Mad-eye!" Harry stepped in front of the livid Auror, drawing his attention away from Theo's mother. "Is there any way to trace where they've gone?"
"Naw. We'll just have to hope they can get away; maybe Apparate to safety. I understand Longbottom's right good at that."
"Or we could just Portkey back," came a voice from behind them.
"Draco!" "Neville!" "Theo!" "How'd you..." "Where?" "What?" "Who..."
Theo walked over and turned his Mother around to show her he was there and unharmed, at which point he had both her and Daphne clinging to him, sobbing.
"You two explain! I'm a bit busy," his muffled voice instructed.
Neville looked at Mad-eye and smiled, holding up three wands.
"Here you go, Mad-eye, three Death Eater wands: Theo's Dad's, Vincent Crabbe's and Gregory Goyle's."
"Aye, they'll come in handy, when there's a trial," declared the old Auror, as he pocketed them.
"Crabbe and Goyle were there?" asked Ron.
"Yeah, it was a welcoming committee for Theo."
"What did they say?"
"Nothing, actually. We stunned the three of them as soon as we landed," explained Draco.
"Element of surprise," Neville added. "They never even opened their mouths."
"But if looks could kill..." muttered Draco, earning him a poke in the ribs from Neville.
"Any idea where you were?"
"Near the west coast; I saw an old ruin in the distance, backed by the setting sun and I could hear waves hitting the shore," Neville related. "Matched the description , ah..." looking at Mrs. Nott, he turned back to Moody and whispered, "Severus gave us of Voldemort's hideout."
"Didn't see anyone else?"
"No, not another Death Eater in sight." Draco shook his head. "But we didn't skulk around, waiting to see if anyone else was coming, either; grabbed the ring and Portkeyed back."
"Which brings up a point...how?" Remus asked, as he joined the group.
"Draco made it. Little 'family' secret; emergency Portkeys," explained Neville, draping his arm over Draco's shoulder.
"It /was /an emergency; I didn't want to be there if my Aunt Bella showed up!"
"I bet Gregory and Vincent wish they were anywhere but there, too," added Theo, as he joined in the discussion, an arm around his Mother's shoulder and the other around Daphne's waist.
Neville, Theo and Draco exchanged looks and broke up laughing. Harry and the others looked askew at the three, perplexed.
"You had to be there; trust me," gasped Draco. "Neville was brutal!"
"Brutal? Neville?" Hermione looked at her friend, totally confused. "Those two words don't belong in the same sentence. Exactly what did you do, Neville?"
As Draco and Theo related the 'punishment' Neville had handed out to Vincent and Gregory, the astonished, open mouthed looks of surprise turned to broad grins and fits of laughter. Even Mad-eye was chuckling. Then, a timid voice broke through the giggles and snorts, silencing everyone.
"What about your Father, Theo?"
It was Mrs. Nott. Everyone turned toward her, standing, looking very lost and anxious, Theo's arm around her shoulder. She gazed up at her son with tears in her eyes.
"He'll kill him, Theo. Why did you leave him there?"
"It was his /decision, Mother, to be a Death Eater. He obviously doesn't care about me /or you, for that matter. I'm choosing a different path. Voldemort won't kill him; he needs all the followers he can find."
"/No/, Mother. You're out of it, and /alive /I might add. I have my life to live and I've made up my mind."
Turning to Mad-eye, Theo took a deep breath. "Mad-eye, I would like to have my Mother put into protective custody, for the foreseeable future, for her own safety. My Father thought nothing of putting her life in jeopardy, but I will not. Can you arrange that?"
"Theo!" Mrs. Nott gasped, obviously scared of the old Auror, shrinking under the scrutiny of his magical blue eye.
"We'll see to her." Mad-eye nodded. "She'll be well hidden and taken care of." Patting Mrs. Nott on the arm, he tried to re-assure her. "Don't you worry, Mrs. Nott, you're safe."
"Mother, I'll go with you. We'll get everything settled and then I'm going back to Hogwarts. We," looking around at the others, "have a job to do."
"Here, here!" "Bravo!" "Well said, Theo!"
'pop' 'pop, pop' 'pop'
Remus, Tonks, Percy and Arthur Weasley Apparated at the gates of Hogwarts and looked around.
'pop' 'pop, pop' 'pop, pop' 'pop'
Neville, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Harry and Draco appeared next. They were all returning from the Ministry of Magic, where they'd had a debriefing in the Auror's office. Theo would be Flooing back after seeing his Mother safely hidden. This also perpetuated the illusion, for the moment, that the Portkey trickery had been successful, at least to Scabbers, who was amazed to see them all outside of the gates.
The other members of the D.A. were prepared to return to Hogwarts, using Anna's 'BritRailPass-Plan B', if necessary. It depended on how the Ministry reacted to the Dementor attack. Hagrid was waiting and as he closed the gates, Scabbers scampered across the road and disappeared into the pine trees.
Vincent Crabbe felt bloody awful/; there wasn't a muscle or bone or square inch of skin that didn't hurt, /at lot/. Gregory was lying on the floor next to him, moaning. Theo's father lay crumpled against the far wall, unconscious. At least Vincent /hoped he was just knocked out. He had been writhing on the floor in agony when Voldemort had blasted the older man across the room to hit the wall with a sickening thud.
"IMBICILES! How could three students/, /INCLUDING /NEVILLE/ /LONGBOTTOM/, manage to disarm and humiliate the three of you with such ease? INCONCEIVALBE! I am surrounded by incompetence!"
Voldemort paced back and forth for a few moments, and then he stopped and looked down at the two boys.
"Stand up! Idiots!"
Gregory and Vincent hauled themselves off the floor and stood swaying, heads bowed. A pink bow came loose from Gregory's hair and fluttered to the floor. Voldemort took a step toward them and crushed it under his foot. The boys winced.
The Dark Lord bent over until his head was level with theirs and hissed, "When we invade Hogwarts you will.../personally/...go to the Slytherin dorm rooms and find Theo Nott and /kill him/. Do...you...understand?"
"Yes, Lord Voldemort." "Yes, Master." The whispered replies were barely audible.
"Then/, you will bring Draco Malfoy to /me/. Can you /do that?
"Yes." "Yes, Master."
"Your next failure will...be...your.../last/."
The color drained from the boys faces.
"Now, get out of my sight and take him," he growled, flicking his boney white hand at Mister Nott, "with you. I don't want to see or hear any of you, until we go to Hogwarts. AND GET OUT OF THOSE /MUGGLE CLOTHES/!!!!!!!!"
The boys stumbled over to the unmoving body of their classmate's father and, rather roughly, dragged him through the doorway. Something smashed against the inside of the door, just as it closed and they could hear Voldemort's roars of rage. Vincent and Gregory exchanged glances as they continued dragging the unresponsive man down the hall.
"Ah, come in, come in."
Dumbledore rose from his chair, to greet Neville and his Gran, as they entered his office.
"Good evening, Albus."
"Good evening, Headmaster."
"Neville. I understand you had a bit of an unexpected side trip today."
"But none the worse for wear, eh?"
"I also understand you, Draco and Theo 'got the drop', I believe is the expression, on Theo's father, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle."
"Yes, sir." Neville grinned at the Headmaster, who winked.
"Don't be modest, Neville; tell Professor Dumbledore what happened," Gran urged him, beaming at her Grandson.
"Trust me, Gran, he already knows all about it, don't you, sir?"
"Indeed I do, Neville," chuckled Albus. "But/, that's /not the reason for inviting the two of you to my office tonight. I thought, perhaps, you'd like to visit with your parents, Neville."
"Frank and Alice are here?" gasped Mrs. Longbottom.
"No. They are, let us say, right next door."
"Excuse me? I don't understand, Albus."
"Where are they, sir?" Neville asked, craning his neck to look into the Headmaster's study.
"With Anna and Severus; you are going to go and visit for a little while this evening. Also, Augusta, we, that is Anna and Severus and I, think that when the attack starts, perhaps you could go and stay with Frank and Alice, thereby freeing up Artemus Pye and Penelope Clearwater to come here and assist Madame Pomfrey."
"And get these old bones out of harm's way," Gran added, looking over her spectacles at the Headmaster.
"Very well, I'll agree to your idea on one condition."
"Which would be?"
"I can call my house elf and take her with me. She's at home, keeping an eye on things, but I'd rather have her with me and I know she'd love to see Frank and Alice again."
"Of course you may take her. Why don't you call her now and she can join us tonight; perhaps talk with Dobby and Winky and check out the household arrangements while we visit."
"Splendid idea! /Posey/!"
"Yes, Missy Augusta."
"Hello, Posey. How are things at home?"
"Quiet, Miss. No one is coming to the house, Miss. Oh, hello, Master Neville, sir."
Turning around to survey the room, the house elf's eyes widened when she saw the Headmaster.
"Hello, Posey. I'm Professor Dumbledore."
Posey curtseyed and blushed to the ends of her ears.
"Good evening, Professor, sir, Posey is hearing about you, she is, sir."
"All good things, I hope," Dumbledore chuckled.
"Oh, yes, sir."
"Posey," said Gran. "I called you because we're going to visit with Frank and Alice and wanted you to come with us."
"To St. Mungo's, Miss?"
"No, to their hiding place."
"Hiding place? I is not understanding, Miss."
"Neville, why don't you explain, while I let Anna know you're here?" Albus smiled at the young wizard.
Neville sat down in front of the Headmaster's desk and called Posey over, patting a spot on the stone step next to him, indicating to the house elf that she should sit down.
"Have a seat, Posey, this will take a few minutes."
"Yes, Master Neville."
Albus walked over to Christopher's portrait and calling Chester and Beau from their spots on the hearth rug, and then instructing them to go find their master, knowing he was just 'next door'. In a minute or two, Christopher Jones sauntered into the frame, with the dogs returning to their customary napping spot.
"Yes, Albus? Oh, good, I see they're here. I'll go alert Anna."
"Thank you, Christopher; we'll be ready whenever they are."
"I think this will work out splendidly, don't you?"
"Yes, I think it will be a very special visit."
"And now, somehow, we are going to go for a visit."
"Yes, sir. I is a bit confused, but if Mister Frank and Missy Alice is safe, then Posey is happy."
"Anna will be here is a minute," Albus informed them. "Would you please come over next to Fawkes' perch?"
"We're not flying with your Phoenix, Albus? I'm not dressed to go out in this weather," declared Augusta Longbottom, looking taken aback, glancing at the raindrops hitting a nearby window.
"No, you're not flying and you're dressed quite appropriately." Albus smiled at her.
Suddenly, the stone column next to Fawkes perch split and opened, revealing the hallway of Greystone manor. Anna and Severus stood there, with Gwen, Cissa and Artemus in the background.
"Good evening," Albus said, bowing.
"Good evening, Albus," replied Anna.
Turning to Gran and Neville, he smiled and said, "Have a good visit. I'm going to stay here and do some paperwork."
"Thank you, Albus." "See you later, Professor."
"Gran, Neville, welcome to our home," Anna said, stepping back, allowing them to step through the door.
"My word; a Passage /Door/!" exclaimed Gran. "I haven't seen one of these in ages! Hello, Anna." Gran and Anna hugged.
"And who is this?" Anna asked, when she spotted Posey peeking around from behind Gran's skirt.
"This is my house elf, Posey."
"I'm glad to meet you, Posey."
Anna held out her hand and the house elf, with a glance at Gran, who nodded, shook hands with Anna.
"Dobby and Winky are around somewhere, Posey. Why don't you go and find them; I think they're in the kitchen." Anna pointed down the hall.
"Yes, Miss, I is wanting to talk to Dobby and Winky, Miss." The house elf trotted off, looking around as she went, toward the back of the Manor.
"Hello, Neville." Anna hugged him. "I hear you had quite the adventure today."
"We want all the details, Neville," Gwen spoke up, grinning.
"Ok, but first, could we see Mum and Dad?"
"Oh, alright, we'll rein in our curiosity for a bit," grouched Gwen, giving an exaggerated sigh. "They're in the conservatory. Frank has practically lived there since they came. He...well, come and see."
Gran took one step to follow Gwen and came face to face with Narcissa and Artemus.
"Hello, Mrs. Longbottom," Artemus said quietly.
"Healer Pye. I must thank you, and Miss Clearwater, for your quick actions at St. Mungo's. You saved Frank and Alice from certain death."
"You have Anna and Albus to thank for the plan, I just carried it out. Glad to have been of service."
Gran patted him on the arm and then turned to stare at Narcissa for a long moment.
"Madam Malfoy," she said, lifting her chin, distain dripping from every syllable.
Neville came and stood in front of his Grandmother, a thunderous look on his face. "Cissa is our friend/, /my friend and Draco's Mum. She's on our side in this war. She's /not /Bella Lestrange!"
"Neville!" Gran gasped. Augusta Longbottom stood, staring at her Grandson, as if seeing him as an adult for the first time. She seemed to come to a decision, nodding her head. "You're entirely correct, Neville." Turning back to Cissa, she extended her hand. "I apologize for being rude, Narcissa. It's been a long time. You're looking well."
"Thank you, Mrs. Longbottom," replied Cissa, as she took the old woman's hand. "I'm glad to see you are also in excellent health."
Both women stood regarding each other, then smiles slowly appeared.
"Call me Gran."
"If you call me Cissa."
"Very well. I understand you have a baby daughter?"
"Yes, Lyn; she's in bed for the night, but maybe later you'd like to take a peek at her."
"Draco and Neville became a little sidetracked today, I understand."
"Yes, it's quite the most bizarre story."
"I'll tell you all about it later," interrupted Neville, as he linked arms with his Gran. "but /now/, we're going to go see Mum and Dad."
"Right...you're so right, Neville. Sorry." Cissa nodded, shooing them on their way. Artemus put his arm around Cissa's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"You're quite the diplomat, aren't you?" observed Gran, as she patted Neville's cheek.
Anna laughed and walked past them, motioning them to follow her. "Right this way."
"Very well, Anna, lead on. Oh! Good evening, Severus; I didn't mean to ignore you."
"Quite alright, I'm getting used to it."
"Putz!" Anna called back over her shoulder.
The group stood outside the door of the conservatory, watching Frank and Alice for a few minutes.
"What on earth is Mum holding?" Neville asked.
"Oh, ah, that's Po," Gwen volunteered. "It's a character from a children's program on telly. Alice would only watch that one particular show, so I purchased the doll for her."
"Mum watches telly?"
"Did...at the first hideout," explained Artemus.
"I can't believe what I'm seeing. Frank is actually puttering around with those flower pots. I'm...I'm...gob-smacked!" Gran stood, shaking her head.
"They seem to have improved a great deal, just being out of St. Mungo's. I'm not saying that was a bad place to be, you understand; it was the only place, come to that," Anna told her.
"Yes," agreed Artemus Pye. "They both are more reactive and seem almost to the point of speech. Alice does whisper little things, occasionally."
"Frank comes in here every morning and repots the houseplants, empties bags of dirt and fills the spare pots. I'm going to pick up a few flats of seedlings on my next trip to town, so he'll actually have new plants to work with," Gwen informed them.
"Has Dad said anything?"
"No, Neville, not yet."
"And Alice?" Gran wanted to know.
"She says 'again, again'; it's from that show, but they both nod yes and shake their heads no, so we know they understand what's being said to them," replied Gwen.
"I think they don't speak because that is the last thing they remember from the torture they endured; Bella Lestrange and Barty Crouch screaming at them to 'talk!' which, because of the ongoing torture, they couldn't do. They didn't know the answer to the question of where Voldemort was, in any case," Anna said quietly. "But I'm hopeful they will both start saying small words or short phrases soon. Even 'yes' and 'no' would be a good start."
"Shall we go in," Severus asked, as he opened the door and held it to the side, ushering the ladies, Artemus and Neville into the glass enclosure.
Penny, who had been sitting on a stool near Frank, looked over and smiled. Reaching out, she touched Franks' sleeve. "We've got visitors, Frank. Look who's here; your Mum and your son Neville."
Alice had turned at the sound of the door opening and stood up, Po clutched in her arms. Neville walked over to her.
"Hello, Mum. Who's your friend?" he asked, pointing to the chubby red doll.
Alice looked down at the stuffed effigy and then at her son. She smiled and then, very softly, said, "Po..again, again."
"That's right, it's Po. She's a cute little thing. May I see her?"
Alice looked down at her stuffed friend and then held Po out to her son. Neville took the doll and looked it over, smiling.
"Squeeze it's middle, Neville," whispered Gwen.
"Big Hug!" Po's voice rang out, nearly causing Neville to drop her.
"Goodness, it talks! Did you hear that, Mum? Po talked!"
Alice nodded, smiling.
"Big hug," she whispered, holding out her hands. Tears in his eyes, Neville took a step toward her and enveloped his Mother in his arms.
"Big hug, Mum," he mumbled into her hair.
Artemus stood in back of Cissa and Gwen, who had their arms around each other's waist, tears streaming down their cheeks, while Severus came up behind Anna and put his hands on her shoulders.
"A breakthrough, my dear. Bravo!"
"Oh, Severus, this is so special! Wait until Christopher hears! He always said a change of environment would be best for them."
"Look," Severus whispered in her ear, turning her toward Frank and Gran.
Frank Longbottom was holding a half filled flower pot, trowel in hand, staring at his Mother, brows knit.
"Hello Frank. What are you doing?" Gran asked. "Getting ready to grow some flowers for the garden?"
He nodded slowly, looked down at the pot in his hand and then set it and the trowel on the work bench. Looking over at Alice and Neville, he seemed puzzled for a moment, and then his eyes opened wide and he turned back to Gran.
"Mum?" he mouthed.
"Yes, dear; we've come to visit."
He looked at Alice again. She smiled at him and nodded. Frank glanced down at the floor, took a deep breath and raised his eyes.
"Mum?" he croaked.
"Oh, my boy!" cried Augusta, who couldn't control herself any longer and threw her arms around her son and crushed him in her embrace. Looking thoroughly startled, he slowly put his arms around her and patted her back.
Late that same evening, Anna watched as Severus walked across the room toward their bed.
"Do you think it's the same place, the same hideout where you were that last time?"
"The description Neville gave us leads me to believe it was, indeed, one and the same."
"Do you think the Ministry could find it?"
Severus, in the midst of lifting the covers to get into bed, looked over at Anna, her legs drawn up, arms wrapped around them, and raised one eyebrow. Anna snorted and dropped her forehead onto her knees.
"That was a rather stupid question, I suppose."
"Indeed, "agreed Severus, as he settled onto the bed and arranged the covers. "I dare say the Ministry is not overly concerned with locating the Dark Lord's headquarters at this moment. They are, in all likelihood, too busy fending off owls from outraged parents of Hogwarts students, who are no doubt clambering for the head of whomever was responsible for the guarding of the Express."
"I can't wait to see what 'spin' the Daily Prophet puts on the incident; to say nothing of the D.A. members involvement. Rita Skeeter will be beside herself," giggled Anna.
Severus put a couple of pillows behind his back and leaned against the head board, pulling Anna into his arms. Snuggling up, they sat, lost in their own thoughts. Anna sighed.
"It's close, isn't it?"
"Yes. Not immediately after Spring break but soon. He's waiting for you."
"Yes. This is a very complicated chess game we're involved in, and it's your move."
"He needs me to make my break, from hiding to Hogwarts, doesn't he?"
"Queen to rook."
"Ha! Ha! I never did like chess. Ah, well, we have everything ready to go, just shifting a couple of boxes of supplies. Fred and George are setting up the early warning system over the break and Bill and Fleur will be moving to Hogwarts in a couple of days."
"Have you any contingency plan if the Express doesn't make its run back to Hogwarts?" asked Severus, as he pulled her closer.
"The D.A. members who are home visiting can make their way back, no problem there. But I doubt seriously if Albus will allow the school to be closed, Express or no."
"True; we'll just have to wait and see what happens then, I suppose. By the way, I noticed that Cissa and Artemus are getting on rather well. Am I imagining things or...?"
"Are we contagious?" Anna giggled.
"That's not what I meant, silly woman."
"I know; just kidding. Actually," said Anna, turning to look at Severus. "I think they'd be great together. He's quite capable of holding his own against Cissa. Good give and take, similar likes and dislikes; she could do worse." She settled back into Severus' arms. "Maybe it was their destiny to be brought together like this. Why should we be the only ones to have a second chance at love?"
"And I am thankful for that good bit of Karma, everyday, my darling wife." He nibbled on her ear.
"Lyn likes Artemus, too, which is a plus."
"Innocent babies love anyone who smiles at them; look at our two! Goo-gooing at the infamous Professor Snape; evil ex-Death Eater and Potions Master, scourge of the Hogwarts dungeons and all first years students."
Anna sat upright and turned to face Severus, hands on her hips.
"Oh, stop! You're their Daddy. Of course, they're not aware of that fact, but they know, love and trust you. And believe me; babies DO know who they can trust."
"Do you trust me?"
"With my life."
"Then come here; I need some re-assurance of that love."
"Oh, alright...." She settled back into his embrace. "Severus...is that your wand in your pocket ...or are you just glad to see me?"
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