Chapter Five: Reunion
On the train, Draco opened his eyes with a start. "Oh, no," he said. "Harry, you stupid prat, what have you done?"
Over the portrait's screams Harry could hear the sound of running feet in the corridor outside. He looked around wildly. There was only the one exit from the room and it led straight into the hallway. If only he knew how to Disapparate!
The fireplace, said a voice in his ear. Harry spun around madly; there was no one there. He didn't care, though. Dashing towards the fireplace he flung himself into it just as the drawing-room doors opened. There was a ledge at about chest height inside the flue; he climbed up onto it and braced himself there, panting.
Through a crack in the bricks, Harry saw Lucius Malfoy enter the room, followed by the Death Eaters and Narcissa. He looked angrier than Harry had ever seen him, angrier than Harry would have thought possible. His eyes scanned the room, taking in the disarrayed rug and the exposed trap door. Then his gaze fell on the portrait.
"Mona," he said. "Who did this? Who committed this outrage?"
Harry braced himself.
"A boy," said the woman in the portrait. "A boy unknown to me."
"Not -- Draco?" said Narcissa. Her expression was as set and angry as her husband's, but her eyes were darting wildly around the room, giving her a weird, almost schizophrenic look. Harry stared.
"The intruder had no Malfoy blood in him," said the portrait.
"Did he enter the dungeons?" asked Lucius.
"No," said the portrait, "He fled when I screamed."
"And where did he go?"
There was a pause. Then the portrait said, "I do not see. I only sense. I do not know where he went."
"Then you have failed in your guardianship," said Lucius in a freezing voice, and raised his wand. "Incendium!" he shouted.
The woman in the portrait screamed once as green flames consumed her. Then a fine drift of ash sifted to the floor.
"Lucius--" Narcissa began, but Lucius spun and glared at her. Her expression didn't change, but she turned and left the room.
One of the Death Eaters cleared his throat. "My, look at the time," he said. "Lucius, thanks for a lovely evening, regards to Narcissa." And he Disapparated.
One by one, the other Death Eaters Disapparated as well, until Lucius was left standing alone with Eleftheria Parpis. "Now, now, Lucius," she said soothingly, "It was probably just the portrait making a fuss over nothing, they do that sometimes when you ignore them. I'm sure there was no one in the house." Lucius seemed unmoved by this argument; he was still eyeing the exposed trap door. "Anyway," Eleftheria added, "at least we're alone now."
She sidled up to Lucius who, to Harry's astonishment, took her in his arms and kissed her neck. Harry was then treated to the most disgusting ten minutes of his life as Lucius Malfoy and Eleftheria snogged passionately on the loveseat. He screwed his eyes shut, but could still hear them at it; he couldn't even stick his fingers in his ears since he needed his hands to brace himself.
"Master Malfoy," said a soft voice in his ear.
Harry opened his eyes a crack and saw Anton floating suspended before him, looking tranquil. He seemed not in the least astonished to find the heir of Malfoy Mansion hanging halfway up a chimney flue by his fingernails.
"Master Malfoy, might I suggest that you climb a bit higher up the flue? You will find yourself in a disused second-floor bedroom, if I am not much mistaken."
Harry nodded his thanks and began to climb. It took him about three minutes to reach the empty fireplace; he clambered through and rolled out onto a bare stone floor, coughing and retching on soot.
Draco blinked and saw Hermione staring at him with her mouth open. "What happened?" she said. "You said "'Harry, you stupid prat'," and then you shouted "T'he fireplace!'"
"Did I?" said Draco, who had an odd little smile on his face.
"Did Harry fall into a fireplace?" asked Hermione. "And don't smile like that, you look like a mental patient."
"I'm not sure what happened," said Draco, "I don't see what he's seeing you know, I just get little flashes, like if he'd feeling something particularly strongly."
"So it's not like watching a movie?" asked Hermione.
"I wouldn't know, would I?" replied Draco. "I've never seen a movie."
The train started to slow down. They were pulling into a Muggle station. Looking out the window, Hermione saw a group of teenagers sitting on a bench under the florescent lights. They looked like they were returning home after some party; they were laughing and joking with each other. One of them was a tall boy with dark, untidy hair and glasses. He really didn't resemble Harry all that much, but Hermione found her throat tightening anyway.
"Is he okay?" she said, not looking at Draco.
"If he dies suddenly," said Draco, "I'll let you know."
After sneaking out of the second-floor room, Harry went to take a shower, since he was black with soot from head to toe. Then he put on Draco's pyjamas (they had fire trucks on them) and returned to his bedroom, where he found Lucius and Narcissa waiting for him.
"Boy," said Lucius the moment Harry walked in. "Where have you been?"
"I went to take a shower, Father," said Harry, who was quite glad he had left his soot-covered wet towel in the bathroom.
"Come here," said Lucius, and Harry very warily approached him. As soon as he got within grabbing distance, Lucius grabbed him by the arms and stared furiously into his face. "I'm not stupid, boy," he said with cold menace. "You've been acting peculiarly and I want to know the reason. Going into the topiary garden!" he snapped. Harry looked over at Narcissa, who looked away. "Not knowing about the family dress robes! Asking to be excused from one of MY dinners!" he shouted. "And if I even thought you had anything to do with that fiasco after dinner "
"What your father is trying to say, Draco," said Narcissa, twisting her hands in her skirt, "is .are you on drugs?"
Harry's mouth fell open.
"Because you can talk to us about it, if you are," she went on hurriedly. "We're, um, here to listen."
Harry looked from Narcissa, whose eyes were darting around the room again, to Lucius, whose face was so contorted with rage that it looked like a carnival mask.
"Nope," he said. "Not on drugs. Sorry!"
"Then--" Narcissa looked over at Lucius uncertainly.
"Your mother," said Lucius, who was now smiling a very unpleasant smile, "is worried that you're going mad, young Draco. There is of course madness in our family, as we descend in nearly a direct line from Uric the Oddball, but I confess I hadn't thought about it popping up in you. Now that she mentions it, however "
"I am NOT mad," said Harry shortly. "I got a bad bump on the head yesterday, that's all. Honestly! It's not like I've started talking to myself."
"Not yet," said Lucius shortly. Then he bent close to Harry's ear and hissed, "I sometimes ask myself what I did wrong, to be cursed with a idiot child instead of the heir I should have had."
Harry's irritation boiled over. "Come on!" he snapped. " Murder, torture, masses of Dark magic, what haven't you done wrong? You're just lucky you didn't get a son who had three heads. You must have the worst karma of anyone I've ever met!"
Lucius stared at him. Narcissa gave a little squeak.
"You must be mad, to speak to me in that manner," said Lucius. "Or perhaps you're just trying to show your mettle." He smiled, showing his sharp even teeth. "I admire that. I will not punish you."
Narcissa's shoulders sagged in relief and she turned away to hide her expression. As soon as she did, Lucius bent and whispered in Harry's ear: "If you put one toe out of line after this, my boy, it's St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies for you. They can toss you in with the Longbottoms and you can spend the rest of your life strapped to a bed, frothing at the mouth."
This mention of Neville's parents made Harry so angry he might well have forgotten himself and belted Lucius in the eye if the bedroom door hadn't opened at that moment, admitting two men in travelling cloaks. One of them was Angus McNair. The other was a short man in a dark green cloak, the hood pulled low over his eyes. From one sleeve of the cloak protruded a black-gloved hand; from the other, a shimmering hand made entirely of silver metal.
"Sorry to barge in," said McNair, pushing back his hood. "Anton told us you were up here."
"Back so soon?" said Lucius.
"Yes," said Angus, a bit nervously. "The journey from Cornwall took less time than expected."
"And Sirius Black?"
Please let him have gotten away, Harry prayed silently.
"Is here," said Wormtail shortly. The last time Harry had heard his voice, he had been screaming for Voldemort to heal his severed hand. Which Voldemort had done. He had given Wormtail a hand of metal, which now winked in the light as he raised it and pointed it towards the door, almost as if it had been a wand.
"Everriculum!" he shouted and a bolt of whitish light emerged from the palm of the metal hand. The light rose and expanded into the air until it was a net of silvery strands, rather like a spider's web. Then the filaments of the web broke apart, and something crashed through them, landing hard on the ground.
It was Sirius.
He was in his animal form, in the shape of a huge black dog. All his limbs were rigid, sticking straight out; only his eyes were moving, rolling back and forth between Wormtail and Lucius.
"Very impressive, Wormtail," said Lucius, but his eyes were on Sirius.
"My Master has given me a hand of great power," said Wormtail, gazing at his metal extremity with fondness. He waved it carelessly in Sirius' direction, and the black dog went skidding helplessly across the floor towards Lucius.
Narcissa gave a little scream.
"That's enough," said Lucius sharply.
"Turn him back," added McNair in a harsh voice.
Wormtail snapped his metal fingers. "Sapiens," he hissed, and the black dog gave a sudden twitch and was Sirius again; Sirius dressed in torn rags, with vicious cuts and scratches up and down his arms that had not been apparent when he was in his canine form. He still could not move, but his black eyes fixed on Lucius with hatred.
Harry heard Narcissa gasp. Then Lucius walked quickly across the floor and kicked Sirius in the ribs with one booted foot. Harry tried to rush forward, but tripped on the leg of Draco's pajamas and fell to the ground.
He had just begun to scramble to his feet when he was stopped in his tracks by the sight of Narcissa, who suddenly, silently, and to everyone's great surprise, had fainted dead away on the floor.
"We're here," said Draco, standing up and tapping Hermione on the shoulder. She bolted upright and stared out the window. They were at a tiny, lamplit station whose wooden signpost proclaimed it to be located in the town of CHIPPING SODBURY.
This was not exactly what she had pictured. She had rather imagined that Malfoy would come from a bleak castle perched on top of a rocky crag in the middle of a barren desert where vultures were always swooping down on anyone who didn't move fast enough. Not a cute little town called Chipping Sodbury. Still, you never knew.
"Come on," said Draco, and she followed him off the train and down onto the platform, where he turned left and walked towards the end of the platform. "Uh, Malfoy," she said, trailing after him with the bag bumping her leg, "The station's this way "
At that moment, he made another sharp left and walked right through the concrete wall at the end of the platform.
"Blast," she said, running to the wall, "how'd he do that?"
An arm came through the wall. It was Draco's. He yanked her forward, and with a whooshing feeling, she slid through the wall and sprawled onto the ground on the other side.
"Ow," said Draco. Her bag had caught him a sharp blow to the head.
"Sorry," said Hermione, standing up and looking around with interest. They were standing at the foot of an enormous wrought-iron gate whose arch bore the inscription Malfoy Park. "I guess we're not in Chipping Sodbury anymore?"
"Certainly not," said Draco, starting to walk, " This is Malfoy Park, its the village at the foot of the hill where our house is. You can get there from Chipping Sodbury, though, if you know how to go."
'You have a whole village named after you?" said Hermione, aghast.
"Yes, surprising I haven't got a big head, isn't it?" said Draco.
Hermione was about to make a sharp comment when she realized he was joking. Must loosen up there, she told herself.
They came out of the lane into a wider thoroughfare where there were shops and pubs. It was in many respects a little magical town just like Hogsmeade, but there was a difference: everything here seemed to either have the word "Malfoy" on it or be somehow related to Dark magic --- it was Knockturn Alley imagined by Lucius Malfoy. There was the Malfoy Market sandwiched between Helga the Hag's House of Horrible Hexes and a pub called The Cold Christmas Inn that offered a Malfoy lunch special (toasted bat sandwich.)
"They must really like you here," said Hermione, trying not to laugh.
"Ha!" said Draco. "They hate my family, we've been oppressing them for generations and every once in a while my dad comes down into the village and does some horrible Dark magic thing that terrifies everyone and keeps them in line."
"Doesn't that bother you?" she asked sharply, but Draco shook his head at her and whispered, "Shhh The last thing we want is for anyone to see me here and tip my dad off that Harry Potter is hanging around the village."
"Right," said Hermione, who hadn't been paying attention. For some reason, when he stood this close to her, and whispered like he was doing, she got little shivers all up and down her spine.
Draco turned and began trudging up the road that led out of town. Hermione followed him. They walked on for a bit in silence; Draco seemed lost in thought. Finally, he turned right at the top of the hill, and they came out from the tree-lined road into a wide-open space. Hermione couldn't help herself, she gasped; it was just what she had imagined Malfoy Mansion would be like. A huge spike-topped fence stretched away in either direction; directly in the center was an open gate shaped like an enormous M. Huge pillars topped by statues of writhing silver serpents flanked the gateway, and through the gate Hermione could see the looming black shape of an enormous, hulking house.
Hermione started forward; she had taken only a few steps when Draco seized her arm. "No," he said sharply. "What did I tell you?"
"Oh," she said, feeling foolish. "Seventeen hexes. Right."
"My father invented the one on this gate," said Draco, sounding proud, "It's called the Jigsaw Hex, because if you try to go through the gate uninvited it'll chop you up into pieces."
"Your father sounds like he must be a lot of fun at parties," said Hermione.
In response, Draco took a pen out of his pocket and rolled it across the ground toward the gateway. As it passed under the arch, there was a blinding flash of green light and a sharp clanging sound. There was a pause, and then the pen rolled back to Draco, severed in two neat halves.
"So," said Hermione faintly, "one of those simple, two-piece jigsaw puzzles then."
"It's not funny," he said severely, and took out his wand. He pointed it at the gate. "Raptus regaliter," he said. There was another flash of light, this time blue, and Draco walked through the gate. Hermione braced herself, but he remained unscathed, so she followed.
They were now on the property of Malfoy Mansion. Dark grounds stretched in every direction and she could see the luminous lights of the house in the distance.
"We can avoid most of the hexes just by skirting them," said Draco. "Here. Take my hand."
She took it.
They followed the fence for a while, then Draco pulled her behind him along a narrow path that snaked through the trees. There were occasionally loud thumping and bashing noises as if something huge was crashing through the shrubbery near them. Hermione didn't want to think about that, so she concentrated on not making noise.
They were right up against the house now. The shrubbery ended, and a narrow white path wound towards the mansion wall and then alongside. It glowed faintly in the moonlight. A high black tower rose above their heads, spangled with sequins of light where windows broke up the darkness. Draco pointed upward, to a single row of windows glowing with light. "That's my bedroom," he whispered.
"Is Harry in there?" she asked anxiously.
Draco nodded. This was a mistake, for Hermione immediately darted forward onto the glowing path. He reached out to grab her and pull her back, but his hand closed on air. He heard, rather than saw, the small metal gate opening in the base of the tower - he knew what was going to happen, of course he ought to, seeing as how he'd put the attack mechanism in place himself. He swore, ran forward, and pushed Hermione aside, hard.
There was a loud whistling noise that ended in an unpleasant thump, and Hermione heard Draco fall to the ground next to her.
She scrambled to her knees and looked around; the path was empty except for her and Draco, who was sitting on the ground, looking down at himself with an expression of surprise. The shaft of a glowing arrow, about four inches long, was sticking out of the upper part of his thigh. Blood was spreading around the wound, darkening his jeans.
"Blast," said Draco, and then a number of other things, most of them rude. Hermione didn't blame him,though, there was a lot of blood and it looked like it probably really hurt.
She knelt down by him and put her hand on the arrow's shaft. It was strangely cold to the touch. She felt stupid tears welling up her eyes. "This is all my fault," she stammered. "And I don't have any bandages...although I could tear a piece off Harry's bag...and maybe you need a tourniquet....and oh, Draco, should you take your pants off?"
Draco was staring at her in disbelief. "Not that I don't appreciate being asked, Hermione," he said, "I mean, some other time, sure, but right now why don't you just think for a minute!" He hissed the last part. "Who's the smartest witch in our class? Who's been taking Advanced-Level Medical Magic classes? Who here can fix my leg in five seconds flat?"
"Oh," she said, "Of course. Sorry!" She fumbled for her wand, pulled it out, and put the point against the torn and bleeding hole in his pants leg. "Asclepio," she said softly, and saw the lines of tension in his body relax as the wound healed, pushing out the shaft of the arrow, which fell aside. She picked up carefully; it was sticky with blood and some kind of gluey, glowing substance. She tossed it into the bushes.
"Thanks," Draco said, feeling his leg gingerly. It seemed to be fine.
"Are you okay?" she said, looking at him anxiously.
"Positively cheerful," he said, reaching up his hand for her to help him to his feet. "Now I'll have a lovely scar to show my grandchildren."
"Six inches to the left and grandchildren would have been out of the question," said Hermione. "Now there's something to be cheerful about."
Harry was indeed in Draco's bedroom; he didn't have much choice in the matter, in fact, since he was tied to the bed.
It was fortunate, in a way, that Narcissa had fainted when she did, since Harry's desperate attempts to get to Sirius had been interpreted by Lucius and the others as desperate struggles to get to her instead. Otherwise Lucius would most likely have been even more angry when he had tried to prevent Harry from getting past him and Harry, losing his head completely, had hit Lucius in the eye. In a fury, Lucius had thrown a Binding Hex at Harry that had wrapped around his wrists, fastening them to the bedpost. Then Lucius had magicked up a stretcher for Narcissa and stalked out of the room with her, barking at Wormtail and McNair that they should take Sirius down to the dungeons and lock him in.
Harry had been trying to squirm out of the Binding Hex for several hours now, but all he had accomplished was to wriggle partway out of his pajama top so that he was now very cold as well as being very uncomfortable and extremely unhappy at the thought of what might be happening to Sirius in the dungeon at that very moment. This, he thought to himself, could not possibly get any worse.
And then the window exploded.
After a whispered conference, Draco and Hermione had decided to use Lifting Spells to get themselves up to Harry's window. Draco would go first with Hermione performing the spell; if it went well, he would bring her up after him.
"Okay," said Hermione, "here we go. Wingardium leviosa," and she pointed her wand at Draco. He felt himself rising steadily into the air, twisting and turning a little as if he were being pulled up by a string. He saw Hermione crinkle her eyes at him in concern and he gave her a thumbs up. She gestured that he should bring her up as well, so Draco pointed his own wand and at her and whispered the words of the spell.
He was, however, not as good at that particular spell as Hermione was. Instead of rising slowly into the air she rocketed up as if she had been shot out of a cannon, too startled to scream, and crashed headlong into Draco. With nothing to brace himself, he flew backward, slamming into the mansion wall. Hermione, quite terrified, had her arms wrapped around his neck and her legs wrapped around his waist as they spun wildly in midair.
"Make it stop!" she hissed in his ear.
Draco just shook his head; he was trying to steady his wand. The spell seemed to still be propelling Hermione skyward; even her hair was lifting into the air as she held onto him desperately (she had her hands where no girl had handled him before, but he was in no mood to enjoy it). "Leviosa!" he shouted hysterically, losing his head completely, and they plunged sideways like a hanglider out of control, then flew upward again, rolled over, and shot towards the mansion with the force of a cannonball. Hermione screamed once as they plunged through the window, spraying flying glass everywhere, and crashed to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs.
For a moment, they just lay there, not moving. Hermione had her face buried in Draco's neck and was breathing in long, unsteady gasps. I really thought we were going to die for a second there, he thought, I guess she did too.
At that moment a voice spoke from above their heads; a very familiar voice. "What--?" it said. "How--?"
Draco had shut his eyes, so he felt rather than saw Hermione loosen her death-grip on his neck and sit up.
"Oh," he heard her exclaim, sounding dazed, "Harry!"
"W-what?" said Harry. "How?"
Harry knew he should close his mouth, but he didn't seem to be able to. Hermione, her hair dusted with bits of shattered glass, was staring at him from the floor, and while he was incredibly happy to see her, he was horribly shocked to see that she had not just her arms but her legs wrapped around....Draco Malfoy? A Draco Malfoy looking exactly like Harry in every particular, true, but still Draco Malfoy.
"Oh!" she said, and he thought she sounded rather guilty, "Harry!"
Draco had his arms around Hermione, too. His eyes were open now, and he was looking at Harry with a faintly amused expression that Harry desperately wanted to hit.
"Hello, Harry," he said. "I see you've found my pajamas. Although I usually wear the top bit as well."
Hermione burst into tears. "Harry," she said again, staggered to her feet, and limped over to where he was sitting. "You're alive!"
"I told you he was alive," said Draco, sounding irritated.
Hermione looked like she wanted to throw her arms around Harry, but was discomfited by the fact that he was both shirtless and tied to the bed. "Is that --?" she asked, pointing at his wrists.
"Binding Hex," said Harry shortly.
Hermione took her wand out and pointed it at Harry; "Finite incantatum!"
Harry's wrists dropped into his lap, and a second later Hermione had thrown her arms around him and was crying into his hair. Over her shoulder he could see Draco getting to his feet and brushing glass off his clothes. He was looking at Harry and Hermione and his eyes were very cold.
Harry put his arms around Hermione rather stiffly. For nor reason that he could understand, he was feeling extremely angry with her. "Where's Ron?" he said sharply.
"Ron?" Hermione pulled away from him in confusion and rubbed her eyes. "He's he's back at school," she said, startled. "I left him a note."
"You left him a note?" said Harry disbelievingly.
Hermione opened her mouth and then shut it again. She couldn't believe Harry was being so obtuse; she also couldn't believe that practically the first words out of her mouth had been Wheres Ron? Wasn't he happy to see her at all?
"Ron hates Draco," she said in a shaking voice. "He wouldn't have agreed to come."
"Yeah he would," said Harry.
This, Hermione had to admit, was true. "Okay, he would have, since it was for you," she said, "but I would have to have explained the whole thing to him and he would have taken forever to come around to the idea of going with Draco and it would have taken hours, and I thought we'd be back by morning anyway, and Harry .." Her voice broke off. "Once I found out .all I thought about was getting to you and making sure you were all right."
Harry was just looking at her with a very odd expression on his face. "Did I hear you right?" he said. "Did you just call Malfoy Draco?"
Draco stepped forward, putting himself between Harry and Hermione. "Look, Potter," he said sharply. "I know you don't like me. I don't like you either. I would have let my father toss you in the dungeon to die if it were up to me. But it isn't. And whether or not you believe me, you should at least believe Hermione that we are here to SAVE YOUR LIFE YOU UNGRATEFUL GIT!" Draco yelled the last part. "So let's get going!"
Harry blinked. Then he said, in a perfectly controlled voice, "I am not going with you."
Hermione and Draco gaped at him. Even Draco appeared to have nothing to say. Finally Hermione gasped, in a tiny voice, "Why not?"
Harry sighed. Then he explained about Sirius, about McNair's plan to trap Harry at Malfoy Mansion and hand him over to Voldemort, and about Wormtail. Finally he added, "And I think there's something wrong with your mother, Malfoy."
"Ah," said Draco. "Insults. Of course."
"No," said Harry, "I mean there's something really wrong with her. She seems really unhappy and she fainted this afternoon when they brought Sirius in."
This shut Draco up.
Hermione's lips were trembling but her chin was firmly set. "That's it," she said. "We're on a rescue mission. We'll just have to get Sirius as well."
"That won't be easy," said Harry. "I tried to get into the dungeon today and it set off all sorts of alarms--"
"There's spells on all entrances to the chambers under the house," said Draco, "you have to have Malfoy blood in you to even get the doors open. We don't like strangers."
"Or anybody else," said Harry. "There's not a lot of positive energy in this house, you know that Malfoy? That's about all I've learned being here. That, and you really need a better central heating system."
"Harry, I bet you've learned a lot of helpful stuff," said Hermione placatingly. "I'm sure you--"
"It's all homework to you, isn't it Hermione?" interrupted Harry rather nastily. "Fine, then. I've learned that the Malfoys have madness in their family, which makes sense since everyone in this house is completely bonkers; I've learned that blondes do not have more fun; oh, and I've learned that Draco has a birthmark exactly the shape of the United Kingdom on his bum."
"I do not," said Draco.
"You do too."
"Ooh, let me see," said Hermione.
"No," said Harry and Draco together.
"What do you care, Harry, it's not even your body," Hermione pointed out reasonably.
"Well, if you behave, I might let you see Scotland."
"It's my body," said Draco sharply, "and I will not let you exploit it. Look at you!" he added, "poncing around shirtless, you could hardly wait to get my clothes off could you? Nice to have muscles for a change, isn't it, Potter?"
"Don't be stupid," said Harry. "You've got pipe-cleaner arms, Malfoy, and you know it." He windmilled them for emphasis. "Look! All bone!"
"BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP," said Hermione with finality. "We should be talking about Sirius."
"Oh," said Harry, feeling extremely guilty, "Right."
And then it happened. There was a knock on the bedroom door. They all froze, staring at one another with wide eyes and hoping that whoever it was would just go away. But as the knocking became louder and more insistent, the door began to shake on its hinges.
Harry pointed at Hermione and Draco. "You two," he hissed, "Into the wardrobe! Now!"
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