Part 17 - Pansy's Revenge
While you were looking the other way,
While you had your eyes closed,
While you were licking your lips cause I was miserable,
While you were selling your soul,
While you were tearing a hole in me
I was taking control.
At first she intended do this delicately, just enough to make things fall into place. Just enough to wreak her vengeance and damn Draco beyond all doubt, beyond all hope. She would break him into little pieces and laugh as he tried to put them back together. One day she would stand with her arms crossed in front of her chest as he begged her on his knees for a scrap of respect, for help, for forgiveness. She was angry, she was in pain, but she wanted everything to happen just so, just right, with only just enough force. All she needed to do, really, was nudge everything in the right direction, and it would happen all by itself. She didn't mean to be so heavy-handed about it, but once she began, she found that she couldn't stop herself.
Pansy was leaving the following evening for the south of France. She wouldn't write her exams. She had been sitting in class for weeks without paying attention, only staring at the back of Draco's neck and willing his head to explode. She wished she were the kind of witch would could do that; will things to happen. She wished she could cause lightning to snap out of the sky and turn Draco into a little pile of charred bones, make heavy objects spontaneously drop out of the ancient stone walls and crush his skull while he walked along the paths outside the school, turn his pumpkin juice to poison while he sat in the Great Hall, fork in one hand. She had considered simply cursing him the way the Norwegian girls had taught her; but clearly there was a cure. There was a chance, of course, that no one knew the cure but Draco, but she couldn't bet on that. She wanted her revenge to be complete and irreversible, even if his strike against her was temporary.
Madame Montsouris in Lyon had already confirmed that she had a room set up for her; she had sent some powers and creams and vials of pretty-smelling oils to prepare Pansy for her healing. she sat on her bed, rubbing lavender essential oil into her belly, wincing. She was still in pain, still so angry she could barely focus her eyes on anything. It was as if there was a muscle in her chest withering and dying and sending bitter ash into her veins. The only way she could calm down enough to sleep at night was to picture Draco swinging from the rafters by his neck in vivid detail, blood dripping from his bare toes, or to work over and over and the formulaic plans of her revenge.
She had started by sneaking into the boys dorm while everyone was in class and in the middle of the afternoon simply dipping his toothbrush in the veritaserum. That would be enough, she knew, for nearly six hours of delicious torment, but then realized that only the boys would have access to him at that time, and most of it would be while Draco was asleep. Vertiaserum was powerful, and even a tiny amount of it would make Draco completely unable to lie; but with an nine hour lapse between Draco's evening teeth-cleaning and his appearance in public again the next morning, she simply had to get more creative if she wanted to ensure his downfall. She poured about a cup of it into the decanter of water sitting next to Draco's bed. She knew that he normally drank from this decanter first thing in the morning, so a good mouthful of the stuff should mean that she had at least the rest of the day to torment him.
But she didn't stop there. She dipped the ends of his quills in it, sprinkled it over his hand towels, his pillows, the cuffs of his pajamas. She poured a small amount of it into the jar hand lotion on his bedside table, and into the bottle of shampoo in his shower kit. She dampened his washcloth with it, sprinkled it into a box of tissues.
After dinner, she wandered down into the kitchens and bought an assurance from a House Elf with a dozen pairs of thick, mismatched socks that one glass, one in particular, slightly chipped along the bottom, already full of veritaserum, would appear in front of Draco's plate at lunchtime the following day. One full glass. If this works, Pansy thought, I might get him spewing random truth into next week.
Pansy of all people knew how much Draco's world was held together by lies. He lied to everyone. He lied to the girls he bedded to ensure their silence, their loyalty; he lied to the boys he groped in closets to keep them worshipful and half-afraid. He lied to teachers, to his friends, to his father. Pansy knew Draco had been only half-certain about his future career. He supported the Dark Lord to an extent. He agreed that their existence on the fringes of the muggle world was offensive at best and downright humiliating at worst; he agreed that mudbloods were problematic, and their entrance into Hogwarts without first cutting their ties to their muggle families was monstrous. He objected to intermarriage, to mixed communities, and had said that it would probably be more merciful to shoot squibs and put them out of their misery rather than allow them to go on living a half-existence. For everything that Death Eaters stood for, Draco was on board.
His issues, Pansy knew, came in their methods. He had begun to express his dissatisfaction years ago. When the stupidest Death Eaters gathered together and harassed muggles in public, Draco had shuddered and shook his head. He wanted to be dignified, he wanted to be rational. He agreed that sometimes violence was necessary and even just, the antics of the more prominent Death Eaters made him laugh. The Norwegians had said the more or less same thing; you English and your bullies and brutes. Draco had a strong distaste for the very same people who protected him, the same people Pansy knew he was instructing after hours with the silly party tricks Jan had taught him over the holidays. The large, stupid men who joined the Death Eaters because it gave them power over others; people too stupid and too hungry for physical control to live ordinary lives. When Draco had recently had conversations with his father, he was more sympathetic to the Dark Lord's need for these bulky, brainless types, but the longer he spent on his own the more critical he became.
There was always Professor Vector, whom Pansy knew Draco respected a great deal. There was always those few Ravenclaws, a pretty, elegant Slytherin girl or two who wanted to remake society the way that Draco did. A debate with these sorts of people fired Draco up and encouraged his convictions about his future, but there were few such people at Hogwarts anymore, and any that did exist certainly didn't trust Draco.
Pansy knew that Draco wasn't a Death Eater, and that he wouldn't take the mark until he had graduated. She knew few people knew this, or even questioned Draco's loyalty anymore. The latest rumour she had heard, probably directly related to the elegant and fantastic magical tricks he had been showing off, was that Draco was already a high-ranking Death Eater who had been present in elite meetings with the Dark Lord himself, and had special responsibilities all his own which may or may not have anything to do with Harry Potter. Pansy fumed.
Draco lied to everyone, and he was safe only as long as he kept lying. He even lied to his mother, though Pansy suspected he only kept things from her that he believed would hurt or upset her. Narcissa Malfoy was cold, far colder than anyone knew. Pansy had run into her once in the middle of the night one holiday while she was slipping from Draco's room back to her own guest bedroom down the hall, her nightgown barely concealing her naked body underneath. Draco was spoiled by his mother, it was true, but Pansy was still terrified when those icy eyes spotted her pinned her back against the wall. Would she object to Draco smuggling girls into his bed, girls visiting on the pretense of needing a place to stay while her parents visited Africa? Would she feel warmly toward Draco's girlfriend, or critical? In public Narcissa was nothing if not collected, welcoming, and open; she smiled warmly and looked at you encouragingly while you spoke, offered little sandwiches and never let your glass be emptied. She didn't even use charmed glasses; she made sure to fill each glass herself, nodding and smiling and boring into your with those icy eyes filled with casual nonchalance, with boredom, with genial acceptance. Pansy had witnessed the other side of those too sweet eyes, and she never forgot it.
She had given Pansy a small locket with a tiny miniature rose inside as a birthday gift that year, with a card that read, "I'm so glad that Draco has such nice friends." Pansy had puzzled over it, confused, until she realized that Draco had not told his mother that they had a non-platonic relationship. He had explained to Pansy that his mother was very protective, that she would feel jealous if he were in a relationship with a woman. At the time she hadn't thought to note an emphasis on the word woman.
Pansy had stood in the corridor at Malfoy manor at two o'clock in the morning face to face with Narcissa Malfoy. Of all the times to be caught, Pansy thought, this could not be worse. She smelled like sex and like Draco, with marks in the shape of his lips and his teeth on her neck and her hair disheveled, bare feet sinking into the carpet in the half-light, her arms not able to hide enough of her nearly naked body. Pansy had left her housecoat in the guest room several hours before, she had tiptoed into Draco's room with the moonlight casting the shadows of her hips, her calves, her breasts against her flimsy nightie, watching Draco's bare torso shift, his arm pull open his bedclothes in an invitation. She had not considered the possibility of running into Draco's mother in the middle of the night, her purple silk housedress finely embroidered around the neck, with a newspaper tucked under her arm. Narcissa had raised one perfect eyebrow at Pansy (just like Draco), lifted her chin, and said, "Goodnight, Pansy dear," in a tone so cold she nearly shivered. Draco even lied to his mother when it suited him.
She wondered what Draco was doing with the bottle of veritaserum in the first place, what he had intended to use it for, and wondered if he had discovered that it was missing yet or not.
She had managed to toy with it a bit, with some help from Madame Montsouris, who understood her dilemma. One pubic hair, dissolved in a teaspoon of veritaserum over the period of three weeks; one drop of flax oil, the dying breath of a horned toad. She added this thimbleful of liquid to the bottle and let that sit for a week. Really quite simple, as these things go, and she had read enough to know that it was fairly reliable. Veritaserum, with a difference. Veritaserum with motivation.
Now all that was left was the simplest spell. It was one her father had taught her on Hallowe'en when she was nine as a joke; you can cast it from a bit of a distance, and if you can even do it such a way to make it look as if you're just brushing a bit of dust off your wand. Her father used this spell in muggle bars to watch the beefy, stupid muggles get themselves outrageously drunk and then beat each other senseless; he used it at parties where he was bored just to watch the women sip nervously at their coffee, their wine, their little tiny glasses, and go wander nervously looking for more. It was a spell that made people dreadfully thirsty.
Draco's stomach was upset by Arithmancy class. He was feeling strangely, as though he had been pulled apart and then slammed back together somewhat askew; he felt as though he'd eaten far too much. He had been wrestling with a terrible thirst through the night and all morning; he wondered if he was coming down with something. He woke up twice during the night reaching for a glass of water after dreams of deserts, of acrid air, of drowning in a sea of sand with a scratchy dry throat and a screaming thirst. He drank a large glass of water at lunch, and then followed it with another, and then another. He was careful to sit up properly so as not to press against his already straining bladder. Finally by mid-afternoon his strange thirst was sated, but he still felt parched, gasping for water like a fish, drying and crumbling along the edges. He rubbed a fingernail across his front teeth, wondering whether he should go to the hospital wing.
That morning Crabbe had asked him, quietly, if he had slept alright. This was Crabbe's way of letting Draco know that he had been screaming again, and that he may have been heard somewhere beyond the small sanctuary of their dorm room. On the way to the shower, Draco mumbled an absent "no" through a yawn and wondered at his sudden honestly. As the water hit his body, dripping off his shoulders, he shut his eyes and imagined that it was Potter's hands on him, Potter's tongue on his throat.
Professor Vector paced in front of the class, pointing at the practice cubes in the air. He was reviewing the weeks' lessons, which were not as difficult as Draco had expected them to be. He glanced over at Granger and noted that she was just averting her eyes, as though she was watching him. He sighed. What now? He had wondered what she had done with that tidbit of information, seeing him collapsed against the wall in the hospital wing. She had told Potter, clearly. But they didn't understand, not really, not the whole sick charade. He had been worried about what she might say, what she might figure out, but finally dismissed it. Even if she did hit on something in her studying and fumbling, at least his father would never believe the logic of a mudblood.
Draco leaned back in his seat, rubbing his fingers over his forehead. He didn't seem to be feverish, but he really wasn't feeling well at all. His skin felt different, lighter, as if he were disappearing, becoming transparent. He was staring into the palm of his hand, and beginning to wonder if he was going to going to throw up in the middle of class or not when he realized that Professor Vector was speaking to him.
"Mr. Malfoy, are you paying attention?" Vector was saying.
Before he could even think about a reply, he found himself saying, "No." He dropped his hands against his desk, startled.
"What was that, Mr. Malfoy?"
"No, Professor Vector. I was not paying attention. May I be excused? I'm not feeling well." Granger gave him an odd look as he gathered his things. Draco shook his head. He felt odd, very odd.
"I see. Do head straight for the hospital wing, Mr. Malfoy. No loitering in the corridors if you are unwell." Vector coughed. Suddenly Draco was overcome with a strong urge to get out of that classroom, prompted mostly by the sensation that he was about to throw up. He rose from his desk and felt faint, and steadied himself with one hand on the wall and one on the desk, breathing deeply. "Mr. Malfoy," Vector was saying, holding an envelope toward him, the skepticism in his voice fading somewhat as he watched Draco attempt to compose himself, "could you take this to the Headmaster's office on the way?"
He stopped at the nearest boys bathroom and brought up his lunch, which was mostly water. He pressed his forehead against the tile and tried to will his stomach to settle down.
Draco was nearly in front of the Headmaster's office when he ran into Pansy. She was wearing a loose dress, in pink, with her hair undone and draped over her shoulders. She was carrying a bottle, dangling from her fingers, and she tapped it against her thigh. She smiled widely. Draco first tried to simply charge past her, but she reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, hooking her fingers into the folds of his robes. He stopped, turned, and narrowed his eyes.
"Hello Draco darling," she said, almost singing.
Draco opened his mouth to spit out, "Parkinson," but found that he couldn't. His throat constricted, his lungs felt as though they were collapsing. He clutched at his chest and spluttered.
Pansy laughed. The feeling dissipated and Draco took a deep breath. He looked at the bottle in Pansy's fingers and suddenly recognized it; veritaserum. His own bottle, filched and used against him. So, that was it. Revenge set in place, Draco was unable to lie, and it seemed, unable to speak the name of his tormentor. She eyed him, his chest moving rapidly, trying to replace lost air. She stepped closer to him, and ran her fingers along his neck.
"Have you figured it out yet?"
"Yes." Draco said, sneering. "Yes, I have. You've overdosed me with veritaserum, and made it impossible for me to say your name. How cute."
"I'm sure everyone will find it cute, Draco," Pansy said, smiling. "Maybe your new friend Potter will find it cute as well. Or Professor Snape. How about Crabbe and Goyle? Or your little Death Eater protegees, hmmm? I'm sure theyll all enjoy it." He was reaching for his wand when she dropped the bottle, which shattered against the floor. "How about Dumbledore, Draco, love?" she whispered. Draco had the sinking suspicion that he had vastly underestimated Pansy's ability to enact revenge.
Draco sat on his bed with his face in his hands. This simply could not be worse. There was light tapping on the door outside, almost constant, but not quite; tap tap tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap. Tap. Tap tap. No rhythm, just a reminder of who was sitting out there, watching, waiting, guarding him. Draco realized that he had been wrong to forget about Pansy all these weeks; he was wrong to have assumed she wouldn't know how destroy him. The sound of that bottle shattering against the stone floor was still ringing in his ears, the sound of Pansy's too-sweet voice and the look on Dumbledore's face when she explained that Draco needed to confess haunted him. The way she pushed him toward the door Dumbledore held open for him, the way she made sure to mention 'Death Eaters', to prompt the old man in every possible way to ensure that he would ask all the right questions.
Draco knew what he had done. He had betrayed his father. He had betrayed the Dark Lord even before entering his service. He had told Dumbledore about professor Vector, about professor Snape, about Lestrange and Fischer and Crabbe and Goyle. He had told him about his mother, his childhood, his first experiences with Death Eaters, and even, for a few horrifying moments that Draco pretended were not happening, he told Dumbledore about the time when he was eight years old, when some unnamed and unknowable brute of a man had lured him out of his bed and onto the terrace. Draco didn't tell Dumbledore about the way the man's face was shrouded in his thick Death Eater hood, the way his breath smelled bloody and metallic, the way the flannel of Draco's pajamas had torn as he yanked them down to his ankles. He didn't have any reason to explain about his shame, his confusion, his pathetic misunderstanding of what was about to happen to him. The way he had knocked his head against the marble railing the entire time, the way he could hear the man's breath, his throat squeezing out almost-words with every thrust. He didnt tell Dumbledore about blood, and pain, and crying, and screaming, and silence, the silence beyond the terrace, in the darkness in between the rungs of the railing, the silence beyond the closed door behind him. He said, "When I was eight, a Death Eater told me my mother was looking for me on the terrace. I followed him outside. He raped me."
He told Dumbledore about Norwegians, about wandless magic. He told him about the curse that nearly killed Harry, but stopped short in his explanation has he accidentally attempted to say Pansy's name. He choked, grabbed his throat. Dumbledore handed him a glass of water and changed the subject.
"Are you a Death Eater, Draco?" Dumbledore asked him. He sounded tired and sad.
Draco sipped at the water, and tried to relax his throat. "No."
"Are you planning to become one?"
It wasn't until afterward, when he received an urgent owl from his father, that he realized his portkeys were missing. Draco, his father wrote in his stern hand, Ms. Parkinson has informed us that you have been speaking inappropriately. If she is lying, you need to keep better control over your friends. I simply cannot imagine that she is telling the truth, but if so, you and I need to have words. I will be arriving at Hogwarts tonight. Draco shut his eyes and crumpled the paper into the palm of his hand.
Lestrange and Fischer had received corresponding letters, and while his father admitted that he didn't believe what Pansy had told him, he had taken the precaution of hiring the two to watch Draco. And watch they did. Tap tap, tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap. Lestrange's wand tapping against the door, a reminder. You are trapped, you are trapped. There was nothing he could do. His father would arrive, and he would have admit it. Yes. He had told Dumbledore about the spies. Yes, he had admitted to the Malfoy Death Eater connections. He had told Dumbledore that his mother was not involved, that his father was, that there were students who were Death Eaters already. That he was not, as yet. There was no denying it, not under the influence of the veritaserum. Pansy had been thorough. She could not be accused, and Draco could not stop confessing.
Draco looked up. Perhaps there was one last hope. He clambered up on his bed and reached for the latch on the ceiling. There were trapdoors over all of the beds, trapdoors they generally only opened to allow for a breeze in the hot evenings in September, when they had them. Normally it was Crabbe who did this small service for him, but, since his roommates had been relocated because of the guard order, he would have to do it himself.
The latch came open on the third try. He tugged down the ancient and fraying rope ladder stapled against the inside of the door and looked at it. Yes, it looked as if it would hold him, at least for one leap into oblivion. Listening to the uneven tapping on his door, he pulled off his robes, his tie, and his school shirt and trousers and tugged on a pair of black jeans, a black t-shirt, and a black sweater. He found an old pair of trainers and tied them too tight against his feet. He might not be able to cast an invisibility spell on himself just yet, but he could certainly blend into the shadows if he tried. He took one last look around his room, clenched his jaw, grabbed onto the old rope and pulled himself up into the ceiling. He could hide here, at least, until they discovered him missing. Then he could run for it. He breathed hard, pulling up the trapdoor and hearing it close with a snap. The odd echo he heard, completely out of place, made him look up.
Draco was shocked. He had climbed up here before, once, when he was in his second year. At that time he had found himself in a small, cramped, attic with a couple of old broomsticks and an ancient remembral stuck between two old, moldy books. But now, he was standing in a large, airy, open, very dark space. He couldn't see very far into the blackness, but the sound of his feet against the floor and his breath echoing made him certain that he was in a monstrously large room, like a concert hall. He wondered what on earth this place was, and how it had appeared over his bed within the last few years. He knew that the stairways shifted regularly; perhaps the rooms played games with each other as well. Was it an old gymnasium? A cage for dragons?
Dumbledore. Well, the old man was merciful, there was that. He must have known what would happen next, perhaps he even guessed at why Draco was being so open and honest with him. Yes, he was in grave danger; perhaps this was Dumbledore's way of trying to sway his loyalties. Let him escape this time, and let him think about who is more powerful than whom. Thanks, old man, Draco thought, look around into the blackness. But even with my betrayals today, you're still no further ahead.
He shivered, wondering what horrors he would run into in these forbidden and secret Hogwarts rooms. He had heard that there were hidden corners of Hogwarts that would transport you halfway across the world, into last week, or three centuries back. Rooms that would transform you into an insect, shrink you to microscopic size, expand you into giant proportions. Of course it was all lies, all rumours, all little children's tales to keep first years from wandering around too much. But he had never suspected that he he could have been looking up from his bed into an eternal room, another world locked away behind brass latches and porcelain knobs.
There wasn't a sound, other than his feet, as he stepped cautiously away from the trap door. He walked roughly east, knowing that that would take him toward the Great Hall. The sound of his shoes against the wooden floor sounded as though it was multiplied by thousands; thousands of boys, like himself, escaping from the hired thugs of their fathers. Thousand of boys clenching their fist and trying to breathe, trying to find a way out.
He must have been walking for twenty minutes before he felt as though he had moved at all. He could see, barely, through slits in the floor and the walls, which were narrowing around him, the ceiling dropping closer and closer until Draco was walking in what was becoming a tunnel. He had long ago lost any sense of where he was, what direction he was heading. So when he saw a dim light ahead of him, his heart leapt and he felt afraid; where would he end up? The teacher's lounge? The Hufflepuff common room? Dumbledore's office? Right back where he started?
The light was coming from another tunnel. He had to choose, at this point, whether he would turn right, or left. On the right the tunnel curled off into darkness; the light was coming from the left. It seemed so bright, like sunlight at midday, but blocked but something that looked like a body, a heavyset man guarding the entrance, the exit. He didn't move at all. Draco tiptoed quickly toward the light, trying to focus on what he was seeing.
As his eyes became accustomed to the light, he realized that it wasn't sunlight at all. It was moonlight, pouring through the tall windows in the large open corridor. It wasn't a man he was looking at, either, a menacing figure waiting for him to emerge. It was the statue of the humpbacked witch.
It would have all worked so perfectly if he hadn't run into Filtch. He had nearly been free when he was nabbed, almost out the front doors of Hogwarts. But even if he had escaped, he had no idea what he would have done. Wait in the Forbidden Forest, chewing on leaves and bark? Go to Hogsmeade, get a room at an inn, bide his time until this stuff wore off and he would feel safe contacting his father? He knew he could explain himself, if he could speak properly. He could explain about the veritaserum, that he had been forced to tell Dumbledore his secrets. He wouldn't explain why, though, it would take some work. But he knew he could do it. Not, however, if his father caught him like this, babbling answers out like a fool and unable to control himself.
Filtch had hauled him back to his dorm, all the way back to his door, right back into the faces of Fischer and Lestrange, had been playing exploding snap, their backs pressed up against the wall beside the locked and barred door. They looked up, shocked. It wasn't until then that Draco understood, understood how completely and utterly foolish he had been, how blind. The squib didn't like mudbloods any better than Voldemort did; he blamed them for his unfortunate condition. There was a reason why he and the others had never gotten caught, with all these secret meetings and after hours showing off. Filtch pushed him down on the floor in front of the boys and said, "Now. He almost escaped! Keep a better watch on him, will you, boys? Or his father will have my head. Take him to the broom closet beside the potions room, he'll be quieter in there." Filtch grinned wickedly at him.
The had beaten him first, out of frustration and anger. The squib had caught their prey under their noses, they hadn't even noticed that Draco was gone. Even a squib was a better soldier for Voldemort than they were. Draco's left eye was already swelling shut when they grabbed him by the arms and hauled him out into the corridor.
"This way," Lestrange hissed. They pushed him into the broom closet, an old, musty place filled with the broken ends of wands, old potions casks, some gym equipment, ancient robes, a stray pair of socks, and old school banners balled up and collecting dust.
Tonight, Draco considered, as they pushed him against the wall and pounded their fists into him, tonight he had planned to show them how to walk over bodies of water. He felt one of his ribs crack under Fischer's knuckles, but he said nothing. He had been planning to lead them to the lake, cast the spell on his feet and shock them. More party tricks. These stupid children were so easy to impress, and Draco admitted that he had gotten somewhat carried away. But it was so amusing, so fun, to show off these little tricks, these impressive and unthinkable games, to encourage their perception of him as more important than them, more powerful than they would ever be. He dangled his power in front of them and laughed in their faces; even the Ravenclaw boy had been swayed. When Draco held them under his sway like this, he imagined this was how his father felt. Lestrange kneed him in the groin and he collapsed on the floor.
"You're not even a Death Eater, are you, Malfoy?"
"No," he groaned, spitting dust and blood out of his mouth.
Lestrange was winding up for a powerful kick to Draco's head when they heard Filtch's voice speaking sharply just outside the door. "You two! Quickly! Follow me into the potions room!" They spun around, and then looked at each other.
"Lock the door, then!" Fischer panted, giving Draco a half-hearted kick to the stomach as Lestrange pulled out his wand. "Not like he can get too far like that!" He snorted.
"You stay put this time, Malfoy," Lestrange spat haughtily. "We'll be right back for you." The shut the door firmly, and Draco could hear their heavy footsteps pounding off down the hall.
Draco sobbed, attempting to get a breath. Some of his ribs were broken, as was one of his ankles, his face was cut and bleeding, his brain was still sparking with the force of that knee to the groin. There was no more hope for escape. His father would be arriving shortly; he would confront him like this, a bleeding mess babbling everything he didn't want to say. His father would be furious. He curled up against the floor and wheezed. He hoped for a moment that one of the pieces of his ribs might press against his heart and stop it from ever beating again.
Draco thought he was hallucinating when he saw a patch of air draw back like a curtain to reveal Harry Potter with his wand in his hand.
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