|SIYE Time:9:05 on 27th July 2021|
Category: Post-OotP, Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3), Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Lily Potter
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Summary: ** Winner of Best Adventure in the Girl Talk Challenge **
Three months into her fifth year at Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley starts having dreams with none other than Lily Potter, the mother of a certain green-eyed boy. Lily has plenty to offer in terms of extra lessons and advice, but as the Wizarding World falls under the lengthening shadow of the returned Lord Voldemort, perhaps the best help Lily can offer is friendship. Canon-compliant, written for SIYE Girl Talk Challenge 2010.
Hitcount: Story Total: 17659; Chapter Total: 3452
I used a total of 206 words extracted from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is chapter 3 in what looks to be a 5-part (and horrendously overlength) Challenge fic, but I'm really enjoying myself writing this. Chapters 4 and 5 are almost done, and if I may say so they aren't to be missed! Many thanks to DukeBrymin and babewithbrains for the reviews and for pointing out my mistakes.
CHAPTER THREE: CHRISTMAS
Christmas did not find Ginny in a very good mood.
Mum had invited Harry to the Burrow, as usual, to spend Christmas together with the family. As far as Ginny was concerned, she would very much welcome his presence if not for the fact that every time they caught each other’s eye she remembered their conversation the night after Gryffindor’s opening match against Slytherin. Added to that was the fact that Hermione was not around to offer her expert advice, having elected to spend Christmas with her parents this year. Ginny felt that she could really have done with her best friend’s help at that point in time.
Dean had also sent her a letter by owl post. The first half of the letter consisted of a few paragraphs detailing his Christmas holidays, spotted throughout with Muggle-isms that left Ginny feeling somewhat confused. The final two paragraphs, however, was what Hermione would have termed ‘illuminating’ in her understating way:
Ginny, sometime recently I’ve noticed that you and Harry are now talking more often. At this point you’re probably already going to hex me, but sit down, put away your wand and bear with me for a while. Yes, I’ve noticed. No, I am not being paranoid or delusional. And yes, I would like to remind you of what we agreed when we began this relationship. No secrets where you and Harry are concerned; I — want — the — truth, no matter what it is.
Ginny… you have to be honest with yourself, both for my sake and yours. Don’t tell me that you’ve gotten over Harry when you’ve still got some feelings for him, because it’s not fair on me, it’s not fair on Harry, and it’s a damn sight unfair on you yourself. I deserve better than this, Harry deserves better than this and you deserve better than this. I’m not about to recreate a Wizarding Wireless soap opera in the common room with my girlfriend and Harry Potter.
We’ve got a lot to discuss when Christmas hols are over.
Ginny had not replied to the letter. Every time she sat down and took out her quill, she couldn’t think of a suitable reply for Dean. The truth was… complicated. Ginny didn’t know half of what she thought she felt about Harry bloody Potter. Every time her letter writing ended the same way; she discarded both quill and unfinished reply and decided to vent her feelings by decorating the Burrow.
While Fred, George, Ron and Harry romped outside in the snow chasing garden gnomes, Ginny busied herself in the living room with tinsel, baubles, mistletoe and coloured paper. Although ordinarily she hated ‘women’s work’ such as putting up the decorations and would gladly have gone out into the garden with the boys, she had an ulterior motive for doing so.
Ginny considered the problem of decoration like she would have a fiddly bit of homework, finally coming up with a solution that, if it worked, would yield very good results for less actual work. First, she worked carefully on a paper-chain of alternating red, white and green links, painstakingly done by hand with glue and coloured paper. She was very careful not to make mistakes, which was important for what she had in mind. The paper-chain took her ten minutes to create, and was about a meter long. Now for the fiddly bit.
Glancing around, Ginny quietly drew her wand. Tapping the chain lightly, she concentrated and said “Gemino!”
The paper-chain swelled and burst into ten more identical chains of beautiful red, white and green links. Very pleased with her charmwork, Ginny picked up the chains and began hanging them up around the living room, beginning with the Christmas tree in the corner. She repeated the Gemino Charm on the chains once more and again on the baubles, with the result that the living room was really dripping with festive air by the time she had finished hanging them all up on the walls.
“And all in less than an hour,” said Ginny to herself, smiling as she looked around at the living room. “Thank you, Lily.”
She threw away the little scraps of paper that were left, and wandered into the kitchen to find something to nibble. Mother was nowhere to be found, which was good. The Weasley matriarch had a nasty habit of finding work to be done whenever a pair of idle hands were around. Ginny found the biscuit-tin, and was helping herself to a ginger biscuit when the kitchen door slammed open. Guitily she stuffed the jar under the table, chewing quickly, before the cacophony of noise told her it was just the boys coming in from the garden.
“Bloody hell,” said Fred, shaking his foot vigorously while holding a basket of carrots aloft with his wand. “Blighter’s got a particularly nasty bite.”
“Yeah, well, he won’t be doing it again I reckon,” chortled Ron. “Jolly good Stunner, George.”
George pretended to curtsey, to general applause from the other three.
“What are you lot rambling about?” said Ginny. She placed the jar on the table and peered at Fred’s foot. In answer Fred directed the carrots onto the kitchen table and pulled up his trouser leg to reveal a circular set of teeth marks around his ankle, blood seeping slowly from some of them.
“Garden gnome,” said George. “Bit Fred while he was carroting.”
“Oh, I can fix that,” said Ginny brightly. Before any of the others could say anything she whipped out her wand and said “Episkey!”
The wound vanished immediately, leaving no trace but for a set of circular bumps. Fred inspected his foot gravely, then tapped it again with his wand to eliminate the scars. “Jolly good Healing Charm, Ginny,” he said. “Thanks.”
“Ginny!” exclaimed Ron, looking scandalised, “You’re still underage, you’re not supposed to do any magic!”
“Oh bother,” said Ginny, “the Ministry won’t come nosing around around Christmas time.” She risked a glance at Harry, who was staring at her with a very impressed expression on his face. How’s that, Potter? “What did you do to the gnome who did that, then?”
“Oh, I got him with a Stunning Spell before he got too far,” said George with a grin. “You’ll be seeing him around. Ron, get the gold paint out will you?”
The boys exchanged gleeful, conspiratorial glances, and Ginny didn’t fail to see that Harry’s pocket had a gnome-sized bulge in it.
* * *
The Weasleys and their guests were sitting in the living room, which Ginny had decorated so lavishly that it was rather like sitting in a paper-chain explosion. Fred, George, Harry, and Ron were the only ones who knew that the angel on top of the tree was actually a garden gnome that had bitten Fred on the ankle as he pulled up carrots for Christmas dinner. Stupefied, painted gold, stuffed into a miniature tutu and with small wings glued to it’s back, it glowered down at them all, the ugliest angel Harry had ever seen, with a large bald head like a potato and rather hairy feet.
- Excerpt from Chapter 16, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
* * *
Aft er a fairly bog standard Weasley Christmas eve, Ginny was tired enough that she went to bed without even a sharp glare at Fleur, who was sharing her room. When Ginny next opened her eyes, the black granite of Hogwarts’ walls was three inches in front of her nose. She started backwards and collided into the feet of a grinning Lily Potter, who helped her up.
“Oh, no, you are not teaching me anything on Christmas night,” said Ginny angrily, “I won’t be able to keep my eyes open tomorrow!” She looked around. “And why are we in the Potions dungeon?”
“Because we’re going to learn about Potions, silly,” said Lily, giggling. “I was thinking about your little problem waking up in the mornings after our lessons, when it hit me. I’ll just dose you with a spot of Invigoration Draught before you go. It’s a handy potion to know, and we’ll be making it tonight. Later on I’ll teach you some more complex ones.”
“I hate Potions,” grumbled Ginny. “Mainly because of Snape. I don’t think there’s a single Gryffindor besides Hermione who isn’t rubbish at it, and it’s mostly the greasy git’s fault…”
Lily frowned. “Professor Snape is a very good potioneer,” she said. “Anyway, I happen to be very good at Potions, and I’ll be teaching you some handy ones to learn.”
Ginny opened her mouth to say that she didn’t think they would have time in a war to brew potions, then closed it again. Lily was watching her, with her head cocked to one side and a small smile playing around the corners of her mouth. “Well?” prompted the older witch.
“We might need to brew potions for ourselves,” Ginny said slowly. “Healing potions like Restorative Draughts, or Blood-Replenishing Potions, or antidotes, or to help cure cursed wounds. Then there are other potions. Tonks said,” her brow furrowed, “Tonks said Aurors use potions like Polyjuice and Veritaserum too.”
“Correct,” said Lily, looking pleased. “At last you’re finally using that head of yours. Now, Invigoration Draught. It’s quite simple, really. The main ingredient is borage, one of the more uncommon herbs, some dried nettles and a few other herbs and leaves, some magical, some not, and don’t forget a bit of crushed peppermint. Mainly you boil it, stir it a bit and it’s done. Rather like baking a cake, actually.”
Lily fished out a piece of parchment and flattened it on a work-desk, smoothing out the wrinkles. Ginny bent over the scroll, which was written on in Lily’s somewhat messy hand. The directions were clear enough, but the instructions were very fiddly, comparable to some of the potions they were doing with Snape. The fire had to be just so, and the slightest error in stirring the potion or preparing and measuring the ingredients would result in too weak a potion to be much more effective than tea. It was as far from the so-called simplicity of baking a cake as Ginny could imagine.
Lily must have seen the look of despair on her face, for she said soothingly, “I’ll be right here helping you, Ginny, you needn’t worry.”
Ginny went to the student cupboard and found that the ingredient jars were all well-labelled, full to the brim and arranged neatly in alphabetical order, very much in contrast to its usual state of disorganisation. She shot Lily a quizzical glance, who shrugged. “It’s how I remember it,” said Lily.
Ginny found the ingredients and began preparing them, starting with borage. She had used borage before, and now she took up a knife to shred the flowers.
“What are you doing?” inquired Lily politely.
“Cutting up the borage,” said Ginny. “How else would you prepare it?”
Lily blinked. “You don’t cut up borage, it’s not nearly effective enough.”
Ginny scowled. “Well, how else would you do it?”
“Here, use that,” Lily said, pointing at a mortar and pestle. “Pound them to an almost liquidlike paste.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “I never… well all right, it’s your potion we’re making.” She scooped the borage into the mortar and pestle and began to grind them.
“Just do it and we’ll see,” said Lily.
They continued in much the same vein for the next half-hour. Ginny was very bored. She certainly hadn’t thought that she would be spending Christmas night making potions in the Hogwarts dungeon. She was also sure that she would wake up the next morning in a very fractious mood, and said as much to Lily.
“Never you mind, the Invigoration Draught will sort that out,” said Lily, poking at the potion bubbling in the cauldron with a ladle. “If you’re bored, you can start thinking of what exactly you’re going to tell Dean Thomas.”
“How do you know about that?” said Ginny, outraged. “That’s private correspondence, you’re not supposed to read that!”
“Yeah, well, when you’re dead you find your entertainment wherever you can, however poor it is,” said Lily with a grin.
“Not funny,” said Ginny, making a face. A thought struck her. “You don’t look at me all the time do you?” she said suspiciously. “Like when I’m in the loo?”
“Certainly not,” said Lily. “That’s strictly forbidden.”
“As forbidden as visiting the living in their sleep and giving them Potions lessons?” said Ginny snidely.
“I’ll worry about my end, you just worry about Thomas,” said Lily. Glancing at Ginny, however, she realised that the younger witch was now staring moodily at the simmering potion. She sighed, and said “What exactly is your problem with Thomas, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” said Ginny shortly. “And you needn’t pressure me about it, either.”
“I’m not pressuring you on anything, Ginny. I’m just going to tell you that I had similar problems in my day and I would be glad to help.”
Ginny arched an eyebrow. “Really, now? You had problems like I do? I find that so hard to believe.”
Lily giggled. “Well, I was quite popular. The boys seem to think red hair is so fascinating, and with my rather unusual eyes… well, from my third year onwards I got plenty of attention. Not all of it welcome,” she added darkly. “James would get very jealous and hex people for looking at me wrong,” said Lily. “And that was before we were even friends, mind you.”
“He didn’t!” exclaimed Ginny.
Lily nodded. “Oh yes, he did. He was quite annoying in school,” she said with a chuckle, “but I guess he got a proper shake-up when one of his pranks backfired spectacularly. He was quite nice after that,” she added. “Wouldn’t hex anybody for the fun of it.”
“I can’t for the life of me,” said Ginny, frowning, “see Harry hexing anybody for fun.”
“Oh, no, Harry wouldn’t,” said Lily, smiling. “That was just James, really. I mean if you think Sirius was reckless, well, the both of them were even worse back then.”
“Well,” said Ginny slowly, “except maybe the Slytherins.” She made a face. “I’ve seen this Zabini bloke looking at me, it’s downright creepy.”
“Yes, well, most of them are toerags, I’d agree,” replied Lily. “But I had someone to keep them off me, so I was okay.”
“Harry’s dad?” asked Ginny, as she added crushed dried nettles and stirred the cauldron carefully, following the instructions Lily had written down.
“No,” said Lily. “Someone else.”
“Someone else?” said Ginny sharply. “You don’t mean… a Slytherin?” she said incredulously.
To Ginny’s surprise, Lily blushed. “He was a decent boy,” she said quietly. “If he hadn’t gone to Slytherin, he might have turned out differently. I’d swear he could be quite the Gryffindor at times.”
“Tell me about him,” said Ginny breathlessly.
“He was quite bookish,” said Lily, and Ginny snorted as she pictured a Slytherin boy resembling Hermione. “He was very good at Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, and a genius in Potions. He had the capacity to be kind and caring, but bad upbringing and poor choice of friends made him very bitter very early in life.” Lily started. “Ginny, your potion!”
Ginny whirled around to see that her Invigoration Draught was almost bubbling over, and immediately extinguished the flames under the cauldron with her wand. “Well, that was easier than I had expected,” she said. “Why don’t they teach this potion in our year?”
“Of course it’s easy, I made some personal corrections to the textbook instructions,” said Lily with a hint of pride. “Most of the potions instructions in your textbook are quite outdated, there were better ways of doing things even in my time, but the traditionalists like to keep the instructions as they are, so…” she shrugged. “Sever… Professor Snape knows all of them, and I daresay he’s developed a few more methods himself.”
Ginny was outraged. “He’s never told any of them to us! We just follow what’s written in the textbook!”
“Didn’t he?” Lily looked at Ginny oddly. “Well… I suppose a potions master must have his secrets.”
Ginny didn’t think that was very much of an excuse at all, but she didn’t press the point.
“Never mind, it should still be effective,” said Lily, looking over the potion, before sitting down. “Well, let’s wait for it to cool.” She looked directly at Ginny. “I’ve told you enough about myself. Dean Thomas. Spill.”
Ginny sighed. “He’s a very nice boy, alright? He’s in Harry’s dormitory. Muggleborn and a very good artist.”
“On ce or twice,” admitted Ginny, and Lily tittered.
“Did anything more?”
“Want anything more?”
“NO!” exclaimed Ginny emphatically.
Lily winked. “I remember how it was like to be young, Ginny, but then again my poor, noble James could never really bear to explore the broom cupboards and secret passages with me the way Sirius did with his girlfriends. Bit of a pity, really,” she added cheekily.
“I’m quite sure I wouldn’t know,” said Ginny innocently.
“Ginny,” said Lily, her tone serious, “I don’t know very much about your relationships with Dean and Harry. But what I do know is that it’s not fair on both of them to keep them hanging around you while you make up your mind about yourself. Pick one or the other, or none for that matter, and then live with it. Don’t leave them hanging around like Quidditch substitutes, for heaven’s sake.”
Silence. Lily got up to test the cauldron of cooling potion. Ginny was starting to feel very guilty, and more than just a little rotten. The picture Lily had painted of herself was uncomfortably close to the truth as told to herself frequently by her conscience, whenever she was with Dean and looked around to see if Harry was nearby.
“I thought I’d be more of my own person,” she said defensively. “Hermione thought… She thought Harry would notice me a bit more that way.”
Lily arched an eyebrow. “And snogging Dean Thomas completes your idea of how you are like when you’re ‘more of your own person’?”
Another long silence passed as Lily busied herself getting a goblet from the store cupboard. “Your relationship with Dean,” called Lily over her shoulder, “How is it like, exactly? Do you really fancy Dean as partner material? Or is he another means to getting Harry to ‘notice you a bit more’.”
“I don’t know!” burst out Ginny. “Does Harry want to be my friend or something more? Does he even know that I used to like him? That I still like him! You tell me what I should do about him, Lily! While you’re at it, tell me what I should do about Dean! You tell me what to do, Lily, you seem to know everything!” She sniffed loudly and blinked back tears of anger.
“I can’t tell you what to do, Ginny,” said Lily calmly. “I can only suggest and advise. It’s entirely up to you what you do with Harry and Dean.”
“I said I don’t know.”
Lily ladled a gobletful of potion and handed it to Ginny, who accepted it meekly. “Well, what I know is this, Ginny. You need to sit down and have a proper think about who you would really truly love to share your life with; all of it, good and bad. You need to make a clean breast of it, and I assure you, they’ll appreciate the honesty. Drink up.”
Ginny lifted the goblet to her lips and took a sip. The Invigoration Draught was cool and refreshing to the tongue, and she drained the goblet. Lily nodded with approval.
“Thanks, Lily,” said Ginny, feeling immediately the uplifting effects of the potion - or was that the feeling of goodwill that came from making a decision to do what was right? “And not just for the Invigoration Draught.”
“You’re welcome,” said Lily, curtseying in acknowledgement. Ginny smiled. “Ginny, go on and be yourself. And I really mean your proper self. Merry Christmas.”
The Potions dungeon faded around her, and Ginny blinked as she sat up in her bed in the Burrow. She felt more energetic than she had ever before, thanks to the Invigoration Draught. It was Christmas morning, the first few rays of the winter sun was shining through the window of her room, and there was a stack of wrapped parcels at the foot of the bed. Ginny felt like singing a few bars of Celestina Warbeck.
There was just a small cloud on the horizon, though. Ginny tried her best to forget it, but it fought its way to the forefront of her mind as she unwrapped one of her mother’s signature sweaters. She needed to have that talk with Dean.
* * *
“H arry, you’ve got a maggot in your hair,” said Ginny cheerfully, leaning across the table to pick it out; Harry felt goose bumps erupt up his neck that had nothing to do with the maggot.
- Excerpt from Chapter 16, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
But at that moment there was a loud squeal of “Won-Won!” and Lavender Brown came hurtling out of nowhere and flung herself into Ron's arms. Several onlookers sniggered; Hermione gave a tinkling laugh and said, “There’s a table over here... Coming. Ginny?”
“No, thanks, I said I’d meet Dean,” said Ginny, though Harry could not help noticing that she did not sound very enthusiastic.
- Excerpt from Chapter 16, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
* * *
Her mione woke with a start, her hand snatching for the wand on her bedside table. In the pale moonlight, she could just make out the figure perched on the end of her bed. It said “Shhhh!” in Ginny’s voice, and she lowered her wand. “Lumos!”
It was a testament to Hermione’s sense of tact that she made no loud exclamations, alarmed fusses or painfully obvious remarks about the unshed tears she saw building in Ginny’s eyes, but instead sat up and pulled her knees up to her chin, leaving more room for Ginny to sit. Ginny climbed up on the bed and sat down cross-legged. Neither spoke for a moment.
“Dean?” said Hermione gently, “or Harry?”
Ginny sniffed. “Both, rather. Dean’s… not very happy with me. We had a bit of a quarrel. He thinks that I’ve still got feelings for Harry.”
Yes, thought Hermione, but she waited before saying, “And is he right?”
Ginny nodded miserably.
Hermione considered this for a moment, and decided on a straightforward approach. “Did you break up?”
Ginny shook her head.
“I said — I said we’d give ourselves a bit more time.” Ginny sniffed again. “I said if it still didn’t work out, we’d go our separate ways.”
Hermione nodded, digesting this. “Do you think that’s wise?” she asked, although she knew the answer herself, and it was in the negative.
Ginny shrugged helplessly. “I didn’t know what to say. What do you think I should have said?”
“Ginny,” said Hermione gently, taking Ginny’s hand, “you already know my thoughts on the subject, as far as your love life is concerned. I feel there are enough people trying to tell you what to do. You ought to make your decisions yourself. Search your heart for your deepest and truest feelings, and act on them, and then never look back with regret. And remember that whatever happens, I’m still your friend, alright?” She squeezed Ginny’s hand.
“Thanks, Hermione,” said Ginny, with a watery smile. “Do you mind if I just sort of sit here for a while?”
“Not at all, Ginny.”
They sat there in friendly silence, Ginny turning over her feelings in her heart while Hermione sat up patiently, occasionally squeezing her friend’s hand. Presently Ginny turned to Hermione.
“Hermione,” she said quietly, “what would you say if I told you I’ve recently been talking to someone who’s dead?”
Hermione wondered if this was a trick question. “I’d ask if you’d been spending much time with Moaning Myrtle?”
“I don’t mean a ghost, Hermione,” said Ginny. “I meant someone who had… passed on.”
Hermione felt a flicker of fear and looked Ginny in the eye in the darkness of the moonlit dorm, seeing nothing but a serious earnestness. She racked her brains for any magical possibility the dead could contact the living. Finding several and discarding them one by one after reasoning that they could not be, she decided with finality that it was quite impossible. “Er… how have you been talking to this someone?” she said, hedging for more time. How Ginny answered this question would be most indicative, Hermione knew.
“In my dreams,” said Ginny quickly.
Hermione felt better. It was probably only a strange, possibly frightening dream Ginny had had. Best to comfort and reassure her. “It’s not possible for the dead to come back, Ginny. The closest anybody’s come to communicating with the dead is through seances and divination, and as Professor McGonagall rightly says, Divination is very imprecise and riddled as a field of study by old bats like Trelawney.”
“So my dreams could be real,” said Ginny at once.
“A dream?” said Hermione quickly. She immediately thought of Harry and his dream connection with Voldemort… and its deadly consequences. “You’ve been talking to someone in your dreams?”
“Yes,” said Ginny.
Ginny hesitated, then took a deep breath. “Harry’s mum, Lily Potter.”
This revelation took Hermione completely by surprise. She blinked, digesting this bit of information. This was a whole different topic altogether. “Er… it’s perfectly normal to dream of the family of a boy whom you sort of, er, fancy,” said Hermione. “Er… what does Lily say?”
“She teaches me Charms,” said Ginny promptly. “And Potions,” she added as an afterthought.
This was also a surprise; Hermione had been expecting topics revolving around Harry. Well, it seemed like this was a fairly basic problem. Hermione dreamt of lessons often herself. “Well, you’re probably just reviewing your notes in your mind, and somehow you thought of Harry’s mum,” she said.
“This is different,” insisted Ginny. “She taught me N.E.W.T.-level stuff. I couldn’t possibly have learned the things she shows me in class.”
Easily explained, thought Hermione. “Maybe you read some details in the library, and your imagination supplied the rest.”
“I’ve done some of the charms,” said Ginny. “They work.”
This stumped Hermione for a while. “Well, you probably heard the incantations somewhere and forgot them until they appeared in your dream,” she said finally. “Ginny, no one can come back from the dead. We all wish we could see those who passed on again, but there are some things magic can’t do. Your dreams were just that, Ginny… dreams.”
Ginny mused for a moment, then shrugged. “I guess so. It’s not like my other dreams are real.”
Hermione smiled. “You mean dreams that involve a certain dark-haired, green-eyed Chosen One?”
Ginny scowled. “Or a certain git of a brother whom my friend happens to fancy in secret?” she said, and Hermione’s smile slid off.
“Well,” said Hermione presently, “we’re both in a pretty state aren’t we?”
"Right you are," nodded Ginny with a small smile. She pretended to lift a goblet above her head. "To shared misery, friendship and thickheaded gits."
"Hear, hear," said Hermione, who promptly stuffed her fist into her mouth as Parvati Patil gave a loud, grunting snore and the two girls doubled over in suppressed mirth.
They sat there companionably in the dark for a while longer and talked about other things. Ginny would have stayed till morning if she could, but in the end she got up off Hermione's bed and bade her good night.
“Well,” said Hermione, suppressing a yawn, “good luck with Harry.”
“Yeah well, good luck with my thick-headed git of a brother,” said Ginny.
As Ginny exited the dorm and Hermione pulled the covers to her chin, she muttered to herself, “People can’t come back from the dead.”
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