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by: Coraline Larson
March 1, 2012
An old, seemingly-abandoned warehouse in a dark, mostly deserted section of Diagon Alley.

'My my... things certainly have recovered in the last year...' Cora thought as she exited the more populous part of the shopping hub. When she had left, most of Diagon Alley was still in near-ruins and it was just a few intrepid or stubborn shopkeepers that had reopened their stores. It almost felt like entering a new, exotic place rather than the old familiar area she had called her home for the better part of a decade coming back after so long away. As she strolled through the familiar streets toward her home she took in as much of her surroundings as humanly possible, searching out familiar faces and noticing several new buildings amid the old standbys. 'New growth... bigger crowds... ugh. Obnoxious...' She could barely keep the look of disgust off her face at the thought.

On a more positive note, she had noticed a few of her old contacts still skulking around in the shadows at least. It put a brief smile on her face to know that rumors of The Dark Lady's return would soon be spreading through the criminal underworld like wildfire. Briefly Cora wondered how many wannabes had tried to usurp her position while she was away. Just the thought of hunting them down and teaching them the error of their ways was enough to warm her cold little heart... momentarily. Perhaps she could even convince 'His Lordship' to join her in the hunt, she considered fondly. Cora quickly quashed that line of thinking once again and silently berated herself for even thinking about the damn tracker. 'Didn't you learn yet, idiot?' she scolded herself, once more thoroughly disgusted with her own thoughts.

Besides, she had more important business to consider currently. Trevor hadn't mentioned what the emergency was that required her immediate attention, but Cora knew her old boss wouldn't have called her back home for just anything. She wondered if perhaps there was a mutiny in the ranks that needed to be weeded out? Those were always her favorite... mmmm... or maybe there was a new recruit that needed proper vetting? She smiled a cruel, wicked smile at that prospect. She hadn't had a chance to... train... a new recruit since her days with the Dark Lord himself.

As she finally approached the familiar alleyway that housed her warehouse Cora couldn't help but sigh softly in relief. After travelling and hunting for almost a year it was good to be home. Looking around she was pleased to see that this part of Diagon Alley was still mostly old storage buildings, abandoned homes, and a scant handful of seedy storefronts. "Home, sweet home..." she whispered to herself, taking out her wand from its holster on her right thigh. She let out a dark, satisfied chuckle at the small pile of ash on her doorstep as she stepped up to the door. Apparently someone had tried to break through her wards while we she was away... pity she wouldn't get to deal with the potential usurper herself. With a subtle movement of her wand the wards surrounding her property surged briefly in recognition of their mistress and Cora stepped inside.

Looking around at the open ground floor of her home the hit-witch allowed herself a brief moment of relaxation. While Cora enjoyed travelling and loved exploring new and exotic places, after a year of playing cat-and-mouse with rebel riff-raff in the far corners of the globe it really was a relief to be home. The moment of relief didn't last long as she realized there was another presence approaching her home. She felt the wards recognize the person and knew it had to be one of two people. Well, one more likely than the other. She assumed that one of the two men who were allowed through her wards would be pretty upset with her for just vanishing a year ago...

Sighing softly, Cora strolled over to her kitchen and hoisted herself up onto the island facing the front door. When she recognized the silhouette of the man coming in, she chuckled softly and said in greeting, "You know, I thought I would have more than 5 minutes to unpack when you called me back..."
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by: Trevor Williams
Calling Coraline Larson back home was hardly something Trevor had wanted to do. In fact, it was fairly high on that list of things Trevor wanted to avoid. However, it had quickly become a necessity. With Teague tied up with his new-found duties of Lordship and Delilah tied up with helping him, there was no one else Trevor could possibly turn to. He had been searching on his own, but he wasn't the tracker Teague was. After all, his job had been kill or be killed. He hadn't had to find the targets, only follow and learn about them after they had been picked out by the former Dark Lord. Trying to run the show by himself entirely was overwhelming.

Trevor realized the likelihood of Cora being much help whatsoever was fairly small, but he needed a voice of reason in his life right now, and if there was one thing he knew about Cora, it was that she would hit him upside the head with a nice verbal attack that pushed him back to reality. That and he needed to know something. Those photos showed Teague as being behind everything, and Cora could certainly get close enough to Teague to find out the truth, right? At least, Trevor hoped. He knew Teague had missed the brunette to some extent after he had sent her off, but then again, Teague had gone on with life rather quickly after that. And if not, then, well, she had been tracking down resistance groups and factions to attempt to eradicate the issue at hand. Her reports certainly made it seem she was doing well, and if she could track down resistance cells, surely she could help him track down his daughters.

The sound of feet against cold concrete caused Trevor to look over. It was dark, however, and the motion subtle enough that the female appeared not to notice his presence. He stood as she passed and followed behind her. He leaned against the doorway and crossed his arms as Cora greeted him and smiled despite himself. "What can I say? It's an emergency," he told her, his tone light despite the reality of his statement. The fact she had come home despite the possibility his owl had been from someone pretending to be him had Trevor feeling slightly giddy. He knew Cora was loyal. He knew he could trust her--for the most part. He was sure if a higher (or better) bidder came along, she would turn for her own sake, but that didn't matter now.
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by: Coraline Larson
Cora smirked and pointedly did not sheathe her wand, rather idly twirling it around her right hand. Her expression was carefully smooth and seemed almost bored as she observed the other Death Eater. Several things about this whole situation didn't sit quite right with Cora and she would be damned if she was caught unawares. From her perch on the kitchen island she almost resembled a predatory cat stalking its next target, her grey-green eyes glinting slightly as she observed Trevor.

First, what could possibly have gone wrong enough that Trevor would cut her mission short before the agreed on 18 months had passed? She had just left Southeast Asia and had barely made any headway in Australia before she had received his owl with new orders. Which brought her to reason number two she didn't like this: owl post? Since when was that a secure way to contact someone, especially someone who was supposed to be undercover? And, more importantly, since when was Williams that sloppy with security? It was child's play to intercept an owl and get one's hands on its message, for Merlin's sake! One of the first lessons any spy or assassin worth the title learned. Not to mention it could have damaged her cover if she had been unfortunate enough to receive it when she was with the wrong people.

Third and most importantly in Cora's mind, it seemed highly unlikely to her that Trevor would have called her back at all, letalone how sloppy he was about it. A trap or an impostor seemed likely as far as the hit-witch was concerned and until she heard the correct signal her wand was staying in her hand, that's for damn sure. On the bright side, if it was an impostor she could at least use him as an example of what happens when you cross the Dark Lady... At that thought Cora's bored half-smile turned into a predatory grin, the shadows in the dimly lit room making her pale face look downright sinister as she purred, sarcasm dripping from her words, "An 'emergency', hmm? Oh, do tell..."
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by: Trevor Williams
Cora's suspicion was palpable, but could Trevor blame her? No. He hadn't held to his usual standards, after all. He hadn't been thinking clearly, and he was sure he would gain an earful for it once all was said and done. While Cora did work for him, she was not one to be treated as less than.

Trevor inhaled and then sighed as he tried to collect his thoughts. "I have reason to believe there's a new resistance around here," he said. "They're not like the Order, and they're careful to avoid being noticed or caught, but they're there if you look closely enough." Trevor paused a beat as he walked toward the shelves to his left. He looked over the contents as he continued to speak simply for something to do besides stand there. "I found a man, Elias Hunt, who was speaking out in muggle papers. Muggles probably thought him a lunatic, and perhaps he is. He seemed to believe his own lies. He's now being watched by MacTail and Chase. Thinks he's won outright, I'm sure. But now that I'm out of the limelight, I can't help but wonder if he's somehow connected. If he is, they'll figure it out and have him tried for treason. He's the least of my worries, however. Only worth mentioning for the mere timing of his comments being noticed in the paper. Almost as though to distract from what happened or to try to seek an in."

Trevor sighed again as he fingered a vial with a label that proclaimed it held Eye of Newt. He picked it up and held it, twirling it a little in his fingers as he turned to look at Cora again. "But the real problem is the rat. Or rather, the rat-man." A pause to make sure Cora was more or less following. "He seems to have a certain proclivity toward stealing the love and attention of young Ravenclaw girls and wooing them into following him out of the castle. My eldest amongst them." Trevor had every intention of powering through this with about as much emotion as he would if he were talking about the weather, but even best laid plans failed at times. Trevor swallowed, the knot in his throat overwhelming, then quickly forced himself to focus on the anger. Anger at whoever took his girls, anger at himself for showing a weakness to Cora, anger at himself for not finding his girls after all this time, anger at everything. Anger was the only emotion powerful enough to get him through this.

Trevor closed his eyes then opened them, now steeled against the momentary threat of an emotional display. "They took Layla as well. Needless to say, they were trying to get to me, and they did. But while they think they have the upper hand, they don't. But I'm only one person and can only cover so much ground. I thought with your expertise in hunting down these groups, you would be my best bet."
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by: Coraline Larson
Cora wasn't buying it. Either the man in front of her was an impostor or Trevor had lost his damn mind in truth. She listened intently as 'Trevor' explained, her expression remaining stoic and impassive as she listened. Really? He called in the assassin to track down a kidnapper? Oh, so suddenly she was the tracker apparently. She bet Teague would be quite interested to hear that he was out of a job. Wait...was that emotion? The thought briefly flitted through her mind that he was talking about his children so emotion would be natural, however the Trevor she knew would never have shown such a weakness to someone like her. That was like dangling an injured deer in front of a hungry tiger, for Merlin's sake!

Silently and smoothly the hit-witch slid off her perch on the island and stalked sedately toward Trevor, grey-green eyes narrowed slightly. "Well, that is unfortunate..." As she paced across the room her demeanor and expression made it clear that she did not trust what she was hearing and seeing from her 'friend'. Her grip on her wand tightened slightly and her left hand almost-idly drifted to the sheathed kukri at her hip, her fingertips grazing the hilt tenderly. Her eyes seemed to be trying to bore through Trevor's as she spoke, her voice full of incredulity and malice, "Just how stupid do you think I am? Did you really think you could fool me? Or maybe you thought I didn't know Williams well enough to catch on to the ruse." She snorted in derision and drew the kukri as she closed the distance between them, confident in her logic and so sure of herself. "You're sloppy. Making amateur mistakes like sending a bloody owl with new orders to someone who was working undercover? I could maybe understand the need to cut the mission short if there was an emergency, but there is no excuse for the sloppy and downright inexcusable mistakes you made in doing it."

She paused about 5 feet away from Trevor, a feral grin on her face making her truly look like a predator now. Without warning Cora lunged for the other Death Eater, aiming to use her sudden momentum to knock him off-balance and take him to the floor. The lithe woman expertly attempted to grapple him, using the naked blade in her left hand to 'encourage' his cooperation. "You have 60 seconds to convince me not to skin you alive..." She ruthlessly knicked his cheek with the point of her kukri. "Start talking."
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by: Trevor Williams
Cora's lunge was quick but not entirely unexpected. Her predatory look foretold her intentions. Trevor managed to control the fall enough that he landed how he wanted--to one side. The landing wasn't so easy and effortless as it had once been, but Trevor managed not to flinch. As soon as he landed, he pulled his wand and let himself fall back on his elbows. He glared up at Cora as she held the knife to his throat and said nothing for a few moments as he kept his eyes locked on hers.

"Why should I?" he asked icily. "You already have your mind made up." Just when he figured he was pushing his luck too much with his aloof act, Trevor lifted his wand as he stated, "Locomotor Cora," followed by "Impedimenta!" to effectively lift and then throw her across the room. He used the distraction to stand. He had no intention of harming her, but he had no intention to be killed either. "We used to bloody well work together from time to time. Remember, Crane?" Their careful assassination of the former Minister had lead to Crane's (unbeknownst to them, Harold Masters) instatement as Minister, effectively leading to where things were now. Not that they'd had a clue what would unfold at that time.

((Sorry so short. Almost losing it kinda made me lose my train of thought.))
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by: Coraline Larson
"You already have your mind made up."

The hit-witch let out a dark chuckle, her eyes flashing. "If I had my mind made up already y -" her retort was cut short as Trevor threw her across the room. Reacting quickly, the raven-haired mercenary twisted in mid-air, using her momentum to push off the wall and land in a forward roll about 10 feet from Trevor. Damn, she hadn't even seen him take his wand out! 'Quick reflexes doesn't mean it's him though...' she thought. Beginning to doubt her surety that she was dealing with an impostor, Cora came gracefully back to her feet, her kukri still in hand. She was about to finish her interrupted sentence when Trevor's next retort caught her totally off-guard, bringing her to a halt about 5 feet from the other Death Eater.

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion as she stopped to think. There were only a handful of people who knew that she and Williams had been the ones to assassinate Scrimgeour and several of them were now dead too. It had been a hush-hush job, even moreso than usual considering the importance of the target. Cora could only think of maybe 3 other people besides her and Trevor who would know the details of that particular job... "How did Scrimgeour die?" Cora's icy stare seemed almost like it was trying to bore through Trevor's as she questioned him. Waiting for the man's answer to the first question, she gave no indication whether the answer given was right or wrong and simply fired another question back at him. "Who gave us the intel to get us into his flat?" Again, not giving any indication of correct or incorrect, she waited for an answer before asking another question. "How many Aurors did we kill to cover our tracks on the way out?"
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by: Trevor Williams
Trevor rolled his eyes, entirely frustrated with this whole exchange. It didn't matter that he understood her caution, her doubt. He wanted her obedience and trust now--not after proving himself. For crying out loud, he had no time! He had no time for this! There was too much at stake, and too much time had already passed. But he was like Cora once. He almost wished he was like her still. He wanted nothing more than to care but not care all at once, to have enough wherewithal to distance himself and be calculated. He missed that. But he had stolen that from himself by opening himself to emotions first with Morgana, then with Layla, and finally with Katya and Sienna. Perhaps it had started sooner with Evie, but what did it matter? Wasn't this why he had come to Cora in the first place?

"A nice simple Addler's potion," Trevor replied once he collected himself. While it was at most a couple seconds, it felt like his resolve had vanished for much longer. The Addler had most likely made the potion they had so conveniently ensured made it into the former Minister's night cap that night. "I scouted it out for nights, shadowed him for days. The spell work was simple, rudimentary, and hardly proper for one such as he. And none. None whatsoever. Any deaths aside from his would have been suspicious. We did, however, ensure the guards were preoccupied and out cold. I believe a certain blond even had the vial conveniently on a chain around his neck when we left."
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by: Coraline Larson
The frustration was clear on the man's face before he answered her, and for a moment the hit-witch thought he wasn't going to answer her at all. When he did speak Cora was only mildly relieved to hear the correct answers to her probing questions. After all, even though it did appear to be Trevor, they still needed to address what the hell had made him so damn sloppy in calling her back in the first place. That was certainly not like him and Cora would be damned if she was going to let it go unanswered. Besides, as long as she didn't get too insubordinate she knew she would get away with questioning her friend; she knew it was one of the reasons he tolerated her. She wasn't afraid to tell him when she thought he was being an idiot and frequently offered her own opinion or (mostly) constructive criticism.

Sheathing her kukri and crossing her arms Cora closed the distance between them casually, her icy grey gaze roving over Trevor thoroughly as she approached. The mercenary resumed her usual bored facade and sighed, obviously not impressed, as she stood in front of the other Death Eater. Quirking one delicate brow Cora drawled, "So you gonna tell me what the bloody hell your problem is? Amateur mistakes... from you? I get it, it's your kids, but doing stupid shit like that is just asking for someone to interfere, and you know it. You have to assume the scum that took them is still watching you and getting sloppy is neither going to shake anyone watching you nor get your girls back. I shouldn't have to tell you that, Williams..."

Even to Cora her words sounded more harsh than she intended, but she certainly wasn't going to say so directly. The man was her friend and she was sure he was not at his best with his kids missing. She kept her emotions in check, but she wasn't totally heartless... Her intense gaze softened ever-so-slightly and she sighed again more softly than before, strolling over to her worktable and leaning up against it. Sighing again she continued, her tone that of a concerned friend or what passed for it for her. "You know I'll do what I can. But where's the bloodhound? This is more his expertise than mine you know."
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by: Trevor Williams
His life was in no immediate danger at the moment. The simple sheathing of the weapon gave that away, but Trevor was no fool. If Cora wanted to hurt him or kill him, she still very well could, though it would take a good deal of effort as he wouldn't simply let it happen. It was when Cora's predatory look disappeared completely that Trevor even remotely believed he wasn't in for any immediate harm. No, he was in for a scolding instead, and Trevor did nothing but listen. Maybe he wanted to be caught. Did Cora even entertain that idea? If he was caught, captured, he would be right in the position he wanted. They would never get the opportunity to put him behind bars or to truly capture him, but if he created the illusion, the belief...maybe.... Yet Trevor realized it was foolish and had never had any actual intention of executing such a plan of action. It was too brazen even for him.

"At the heart of it," Trevor replied almost defeatedly. Cora was his only real allie. Yes, Sienna would help him in a heartbeat, but he had his reasons for not involving her. And no, he didn't think Cora would accept such an answer without proof, so out came the photos Teague had denied being real to his face. He held the small stack out to Cora. "He claims they were enchanted, that someone must have polyjuiced as him. All it would take is one hair, naturally, and I can think of no reason for him to do such a thing. I was blindsided, plain and simple. But he's too cowardly to admit to the wrongdoing. Or too prideful. Never know with the git."
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by: Coraline Larson
"At the heart of it."

Whatever answer she had expected as to Teague's whereabouts, nothing could have prepared her to hear Trevor's answer. Her heart dropped like the stone most people thought it was, and Cora couldn't keep the look of shock and utter betrayal off her face. It felt as though Trevor had just dug a knife through her heart as she listened in stunned silence to Trevor's words. "At the... what...?" she choked out, her hurt showing in her voice as she trailed off. She silently berated herself as her hand shook ever-so-slightly when she reached to take the photos Trevor held out to her. The raven-haired witch scrutinized each photo carefully trying to find some flaw in them, some mistake that would prove they were indeed fake, turning her back to Trevor in order to hold the photos under the light over her worktable.

After several minutes poring over the pictures, Cora's shoulders fell in defeat and she leaned forward over the table for a long moment as her thoughts ran rampant through her mind. How could this be possible? Teague was one of the most loyal of Trevor's Death Eaters, next to herself and Sienna... they were friends! What could possibly have driven the tracker to turn on Trevor like this? Could someone have charmed him, messed with his mind to make him turn traitor? For that matter, he had been her lover, for Merlin's sake! She had let her guard down for him...she actually cared about Teague! How could he have done this?

Taking a shuddering breath and giving herself a harsh mental shake, the hit-witch turned back to face Trevor. After a moment she carefully schooled her expression back to indifference, reigning in her own emotions once more. She hated the fact that she had let Trevor see her vulnerable, even for a moment, but she supposed that made them even today considering his own slip earlier talking about his daughters. When Cora finally spoke her voice was still tinged with anger. "I'll find him. He'll talk. One way or another..." Her grey eyes roiled like storm clouds as she held Trevor's gaze. Nobody made a fool of the Dark Lady and got away with it. She would make sure of it.
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by: Trevor Williams
Emotion was not so rare with the Dark Lady as she would like to believe. Trevor had always seen it lurking behind the surface here or there throughout the time he had known her. However, she usually utilized it to fuel some other emotion, one that was more useful than the one she was feeling. This emotion and her ability to control it and mold it to help her accomplish the great things she had accomplished was one of the reasons Trevor had decided to utilize her for the mission he had sent her on a few years back and just now called her out of. Yet it seemed her feelings for MacTail had run deeper than even Trevor had realized. Coraline Larson seemed unable to speak, unwilling to believe, and even...defeated?

Trevor found this curious. Even in the midst of everything going on in the world around him, he could find something interesting. He watched her study the pictures, watched her as she slumped forward and took a shuddering breath. He watched as she turned back toward him, her face seemingly raw with emotion. He watched as her face returned to the poised, expressionless one he was used to. The the trained coldness returned to her eyes. She once again looked the woman he knew, the woman he had come to respect. Yet somehow he found himself not wanting to respect her wishes this one time. No, this was a confrontation he needed to make on his own, and this was a confrontation Cora could afford to have later. He needed information from MacTail, and while the Dark Lady could no doubt get it, there were things that could complicate her ability to do so. There were certain emotions that accompanied any degree of love or lust that complicated things and gave others a power over you that they otherwise wouldn't have. This was why Voldemort had always called love a weakness.

"No," Trevor replied simply despite the fact he knew Cora would not like that word. "Not yet. I'll let you have your way with him, but for now, I need him to believe he's getting away with things. I need him to believe all is well in the world and that no one suspects a thing. I need you to watch him, to see what he's up to. I can approach him in a few days once we're sure of what we can expect from him. Once we have no further use for him, I'll let you have your fun."
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by: Coraline Larson
"Excuse me?" Her voice rang like cold steel and her grey eyes flashed dangerously at Trevor's refusal, her left hand falling almost automatically to the hilt of the knife strapped to her thigh. How could he deny her the chance to bring MacTail in? The tracker had betrayed her as much as he had Trevor as far as she was concerned! As Cora's anger and hurt struggled to free themselves from her careful control once more the Dark Lady's expression took on a decidedly predatory cast again. The expression was gone as quickly as it appeared, however, and the loyal mercenary focused on calming herself and controlling her emotions once again.

While her expression was one of carefully controlled indifference, Cora silently berated herself for letting her emotions get the better of her and paused a long moment to listen to the rest of Trevor's reasoning. As angry as she was at the situation, the hit-witch had to admit that Trevor had things right. It galled her to admit it even to herself, but Cora knew that if she confronted MacTail herself right now things would get.... messy, to say the least. Cora knew she still had feelings for Teague and, judging by her emotional reaction to Trevor's revelation, she was wary to trust herself not to completely obliterate the man at the moment. She was certain that Trevor had come to the same conclusion himself.

She could practically hear Voldemort's voice in her head scolding her in that haunting, almost parental way he had trained her..."My dear Coraline... I always told you that love was a weakness. You knew better and now you have only yourself to blame for this hurt... Do. Better."

Shaking her head slightly to clear away the lingering memories, Cora looked back at Trevor with what passed for an apologetic look for her. When she finally spoke again her voice was once more the slightly sarcastic, apathetic tone her friend was accustomed to. "You're right. On both counts," she added, acknowledging she understood his unspoken reasoning. "I will track him down if I can and observe only. I assume you will signal me when that order changes?" After a moment the Dark Lady let out a snort of amused disgust, one corner of her mouth quirking upward in a slightly regretful way. "I'm waiting for your 'I told you so' you know... she raised one delicate brow at her friend, sitting on the corner of the worktable and crossing her arms in front of herself. Merlin knew she deserved one from him she thought begrudgingly, remembering a brief conversation they had had when her and the tracker had first gotten together. 'Should have listened,' the Dark Lord's voice rang in her head.
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by: Trevor Williams
"Seems this is punishment enough," Trevor replied with a shrug. Perhaps he should tell her he told her so, but he was in the same damned boat. Betrayed by the first friend he'd had in a long time in much the same way as Trey had betrayed him all those years ago. The only difference? Teague had at least let Sienna live unlike Trey, who had killed his wife at the time, Anna.

"And I will signal you when the order changes--far less clumsily than this, I assure you. I can't afford any more mistakes. I've already made enough as it is." He'd not have admitted that if it were anyone but Cora, and for that, he mentally kicked himself. He should exercise restraint and self control starting now--not later. He needed to be cold and cruel, demanding and worthy of the power and respect he required.

"You may go," Trevor said, his expression hardening. "Unless you have further questions."


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