Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory by Forge2
Summary: After the horcrux hunt implodes leaving most of those Harry loves dead, he starts a new life with a few fellow survivors far away from wizarding Britain. But the discovery of an ancient ritual that promises to send a single memory back in time sparks hope that maybe things can change. Dark ending to DH followed by a tweaked retelling of GoF through DH. Harry/Ginny. Friday updates.
Voldemort's Victory - Chapter 1-5 (Feel free to skip if you don't like major character deaths)
Tenochtitlán - Chapter 6-9
Harry's 4th Year - Chapter 10-28
Harry's 5th Year - Chapter 29-68
Harry's 6th Year - Chapter 69-Current
Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory by Forge2
Chapter 42: Chapter 42Author's Notes:
Hermione stormed into the Common Room with frustration written across her face. She stomped to where Ron and Neville were being trounced in a game of Exploding Snap against Ginny and Harry at a far table.
"She's absolutely infuriating!" She flung some paperwork onto the table and folded her arms in anger as cards flew in all directions, several of which collided with each other and exploded. She growled an apology as she pointed at the paper. "Apparently professors have the right of first refusal for all classrooms and the Great Hall for their lessons and tutoring."
Neville started to ask why that was a problem, but Ron kicked him from under the table and gave him a look.
"I'd gotten it cleared with Professor McGonagall for the Defense Club to use the Great Hall for our first meeting next week, but Umbridge has preempted our meeting because she's holding a seminar called Recognizing and Rebuffing the Media's Lies. Even if anyone attends it, which I seriously doubt anyone would, there's no way she'll need that much space. She's just doing it to throw our group out of the only space big enough for everybody!"
Her nostrils flared and her eyes flashed dangerously. Ron swore under his breath, but Hermione didn't reprimand him for it.
"What if we switched it up for the first meeting?" asked Ron. "Postpone the big group and start things out with each of the years meeting on their own?" Neville nodded along encouragingly, but Hermione kept frowning.
"That would still undercut the momentum we've got going. I think some of the students who signed up might have been drawn by having Harry and Cedric as part of the leader group. Having two of the Triwizard champions helping teach is kind of a big deal, and if people show up and neither of them is there… It might be a bit of a letdown."
Ginny snorted. "You're not wrong. I think Vane from my year signed up based on Harry alone, never mind that he's dating someone in her dorm."
Harry grimaced at the thought of Romilda sidling up to him while he talked about Defense. "Well, there's gotta be somewhere else we can hold the meeting. If Umbridge can just schedule anything to keep us out of the Great Hall, I'll bet she'll keep doing it no matter how many times we try."
"Cedric and I spent almost an hour working through options, but we couldn't think of anything suitable," lamented Hermione. "We thought the Hufflepuff Common Room might work; the Badgers do have the whole 'We'll teach the lot!' thing going, which might have been nice for school unity, but it's still a bit small and the younger students or those who weren't a part of the club would be really inconvenienced."
Ginny's eyes grew very wide as she slipped her hand into Harry's and leaned up to speak into his ear while Hermione listed off other options that wouldn't quite work. "Harry!" she whispered. "What about the Chamber?"
That was a thought that had certainly not occurred to Harry. His eyebrows rose as he looked into Ginny's eyes. "What do you mean? Meet in the Chamber?" His voice was low enough that only Ginny heard him over Hermione's insistence that there weren't any places outside that would fit their needs.
"Yeah, I think it'd work. There's plenty of space and you and Dumbledore checked it with McGonagall, Sirius, and Kingsley. Doubt there's any rule about teachers having access to it, too." Her nervous look transformed into one of mischievous glee. "Plus, can you imagine how much it would piss off Tom to have a bunch of students from every house training to fight him in Slytherin's secret chamber? Especially a bunch of Muggle-borns!"
Harry chuckled ruefully. "I mean, it's not like another reason for him to hate us is going to tip the scales or anything. You sure you'd be okay going back there?"
Ginny bit her lip before nodding. "I've been thinking about it ever since you told me about going back down there… I think I'm ready to face it. I'm a lot stronger than I was then. Maybe facing it again would help me deal with stuff."
"I'm only in if you are," said Harry.
"Something you'd like to share with the class?" asked a frustrated Hermione, who'd noticed that neither of them had been paying much attention. Harry shrugged at Ginny as she took a deep breath.
"Actually, I think we might have an idea that could work, but it's a little bit out there…" She leaned in and cast a furtive glance back and forth. "What if we met in the Chamber of Secrets?"
Ron and Neville blanched as Hermione's eyes grew wide. That option had definitely not been on her list of possibilities.
"Think about it: it's big enough to hold everyone who's signed up, and more if other people want to join. We could even do some one-on-one dueling. No way it's covered in the rulebook, so Umbridge couldn't swipe it out from under us. And it'd be kinda awesome to turn Slytherin's secret chamber into a place for students from every house to learn to defend themselves from his heir."
"Is it…Err… Would it be safe down there?" asked Neville nervously.
"There are 100% fewer Basilisks now, which is a plus," said Ginny, nudging Harry with her shoulder.
"That bloody idiot Lockhart caused a cave-in while we were there, but that took a really powerful explosion from my old, broken wand," said Ron with a shrug. "I kinda doubt any students could make an explosion strong enough to do that, but I'd still be a bit nervous. That was while we were still in the first passage, though. What was the actual Chamber like, Harry?"
"It wasn't quite as long as the entryway, but the ceiling was a lot higher and it looked more stable. It's not like I spent a lot of time admiring the architecture, but I'm with Ginny that I think it could work, especially if Dumbledore gave it a look first to make sure it was safe. I bet he could use some spells to reinforce the room, too!"
Hermione was staring off into space as she absorbed the conversation, murmuring to herself every once and a while. She focused back on Ginny with a faint smile on her face. "This is incredible. I'd want to run it past Cedric and Cho, but I doubt they'll mind. If we can get Professor McGonagall onboard, I think this would work!"
With a nervous look on his face, Ron looked at Ginny and Harry. "You two sure about this? I still have nightmares about that place, and I didn't even hafta deal with the damn snake or the diary. Are you good with going back down?"
Ginny rolled her eyes but still smiled at her brother warmly. "I appreciate the concern and all, but I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't confident. It might be tough, but I think it'll be good for me. Maybe good for all of us."
When the six students presented their proposal to Professor McGonagall, she had given them a genuine smile and commended them for "creative problem-solving." She cautioned them not to spread word of the change in venue widely, and instead have the students meet at the Charms classroom before making their way to their training facilities.
Dumbledore enthusiastically endorsed the plan as well. Instead of the second scheduled practical defense lesson, he suggested they make an excursion to familiarize themselves with the area while he and a few of the professors ensured its safety. The prospect of missing out on the special defense lessons dampened the spirits of the eager students, but all of them agreed with the headmaster's reasoning.
The foray into the Chamber went better than anticipated. Professor Dumbledore and the six students were accompanied by all four Heads of House. All the adults began by using various spells to ensure that the rooms were structurally sound, then the entire contingent fired "Scourgify" at any of the surfaces that were covered by grime and muck. Professor Flitwick used a complex charm to ventilate the musty rooms so that they no longer smelled like rotting snake and stagnant water, and Professor Sprout excitedly made a list of plants that would thrive in such a dark and damp environment.
While in the Chamber, Ginny stuck close to Harry, with Ron and Hermione hovering not too far off. She squeezed his hand tightly a few times, but she set her jaw and powered through despite the shivers that ran down her spine. When everyone reconvened to head back up, Dumbledore caught her eye while thanking them for their commitment to learning and cryptically promised that he had a few more renovation plans in store before their first meeting.
Harry and Ginny skipped lunch afterward and rested in the Common Room. She curled up on the couch with her head in Harry's lap. Despite the soothing touch of his fingers in her hair, she wasn't able to drift to sleep before a loud wave of Gryffindor quidditch players disrupted their relaxation en route to change for practice.
If anyone had thought that delving into the Chamber would throw Ginny off her game, they were sorely mistaken. She channeled her frustration into increasingly challenging maneuvers and goals that left both her brother and Frobisher wide-eyed. The youngest of the four Chasers was the top scorer during their practice session. When Angelina distributed golf balls that had been painted gold to everyone but the Beaters and Seekers, the competitive spirit dancing in Ginny's eyes assured Harry that he'd best not hold anything back.
"Alright, you lot!" yelled Angelina, even though her voice was already a bit ragged from shouting instructions and praise for nearly two hours. "When I release the Bludgers, I'll call out the name of a Chaser or Keeper. When you hear your name, you throw one of your fake Snitches as far as you can in any direction. Harry and Ginny will attempt to catch them before they hit the ground. Fred will be trying to protect Harry and knock Ginny off her lines, while George and Jimmy will be with Ginny against Harry. Any questions?"
"Yeah! Why'd you put Fred on his own instead of me?" asked George indignantly.
Angelina flashed a mischievous smile that rivaled anything Harry had seen from the twins. "Because Fred's been carrying your sorry arse for years! Just trying to make it fair, Georgie! Plus I know you were up a bit late last night…"
George's cheeks burned red as he flew over to his sister and Jimmy. "I know she's just trying to rile me up to make me play harder, but it's bloody well working. Ginny, I don't care how dreamy Potter's eyes are, outfly him or you're disowned. Got it?" Jimmy looked more than a little intimidated but Ginny was nodding along with her brother, who spit on his Beater bat and wiped it off on his robes.
"Well, Ange definitely kicked the hornet's nest," said Harry as Fred flew closer to him.
Fred grimaced. "Yeah, I'm pretty surprised that she didn't kill him last night. This is definitely a bit of payback."
Harry let out a low whistle. "What'd he do? I wanna make sure I don't make the same mistake."
"Seems unlikely," Fred said with a laugh. He leaned closer to whisper in Harry's ear. "Doubt you'll accidentally tell Ange you love her in the middle of a snogging session. Apparently, that's not the proper time to make such a declaration."
Harry swore loudly before descending into a fit of hysterical laughter that threatened to knock him right off his broom.
Angelina pointed her wand at the shaking box containing the Bludgers, which sprang open as the balls careened into the sky in search of bodies to bash. She cried out "SPINNET!" and Alicia hurled one of her golf balls toward the opposite side of the field. Harry and Ginny rocketed after it as the cacophony of teammates cheering and Beaters grunting with exertion filled their ears.
Ginny's smaller size allowed her to build a quick lead, but Harry's Firebolt would not be denied. The golden ball was losing momentum as Harry reached out to grab it. At the last moment, when his fingers were about to clasp the fake Snitch on its line of descent, it jutted away from his hand and turned in midair. Harry was so shocked that he didn't slow his broom until Ginny shot past him with the Snitch in her hand.
"Oi! Seekers! Did I forget to tell you?" Angelina looked thrilled with herself and grinned wickedly. "I got McGonagall to charm our Snitch stand-ins to evade capture a bit. More like the real ones, y'know?"
"Good thing!" yelled Ginny as she and Harry circled back to the others. "For a second, I thought Harry went easy on me. Would've been a real shame to have to end practice early for a funeral."
Angelina winked at the two before bellowing, "BELL!" Katie flung her Snitch substitute straight up into the air above them, which caused chaos when George smacked a Bludger straight through the group to cut off Harry. Ron had to duck to avoid a shot to the ear before the ball collided with Harry's thigh, leaving Ginny more than enough time to snag her second Snitch.
Harry managed to snare the next three, followed by Ginny taking a couple. They went back and forth a few times until each thrower was left with their last Snitch. Ginny had lost the lead twice but fought back to end up with two more than Harry as they gathered for Angelina's final instructions. Fred and George each held a Bludger as best they could while she spoke.
"Looking pretty good out there," she said with a proud smile. "Changing things up on this last one. When I yell, 'Go!' everyone throws their Snitch and these two will see how many they can secure before they hit the ground. You lot ready?"
The team may have been exhausted, but they grinned and nodded vigorously.
Harry made a mad dash for one ball that Ron had thrown more toward the ground, hoping he could catch it first and then find others on their way down. He snagged it before it could evade his grasp and quickly noticed another falling not too far from him. He started after it only to see that Ginny was much closer and better positioned for it. He sped in the opposite direction and caught up to Angelina's toss. He grabbed nothing but air the first two times but hauled in the golden ball on the third attempt.
The last one he could see was Frobisher's, who had stolen Katie's first tactic by chunking it straight up as high as she could. Harry knew he likely couldn't overtake Ginny on points, but if she somehow only managed to collect one and he could grab this last one, they'd end up tied. He zoomed toward the plummeting ball, pressing himself flush with his broom to boost his speed. From the corner of his eye, he watched a Bludger off Jimmy's bat flying at him, but he did a rather impressive barrel roll to dodge it at the last minute. He thought he had just enough room to snag it before it hit the ground…
It took all of Harry's strength and balance to keep himself on the broom as Ginny's shoulder crashed into his. A groan escaped his lips, partly due to the pain where she'd collided with him but also from the glint of the golden ball resting in the grass below them. Harry smiled through his wincing as Ginny grinned back at him.
"Not injured, right Harry?" she asked with just a touch of worry in her voice.
He rolled his shoulder a few times. "I dunno, Gin. It feels pretty rough. Might need a kiss to make it better…" He waggled his eyebrows at her in the best impression of Sirius he could muster.
Ginny flew right up next to him and placed her hand on his cheek. She licked her lips as she leaned forward, but as Harry closed his eyes, he heard Ginny yell, "Oi, Captain! I think I broke your Seeker! He says he needs a kiss to feel better, can you send Ron down?"
The whole team was laughing as a blushing Harry flew back to the group alongside Ginny, who was holding two of the Snitches that had just been thrown. Harry realized that his girlfriend had already secured the victory before the final Snitch hit the ground and that she had kept him from catching the last one just to prove she could. He grabbed her hand in his and lifted it into the air as his teammates applauded her win. He smirked at her as she smiled broadly, thinking there was still a decent chance she might be up for that kiss later.
The falsely-sweet smile plastered on Umbridge's face during class did not phase Harry in the slightest. He stared at her with as little emotion as possible while she droned on about the Minister's proposal to regulate newspapers more closely and punish them for printing "false stories meant to stir up panic and division." Sirius' letter the day before explained that the no-confidence vote for Fudge would be occurring at the end of the week, and Sirius was scheduled to stand trial the following Thursday. With the hope that the government might soon take Voldemort's return seriously and that his godfather could be exonerated, Harry smiled right back at his Defense professor.
"Before you leave, I want to extend an invitation to each of you. I will be holding a symposium of sorts tonight after dinner in the Great Hall. Our topic will be Recognizing and Rebuffing the Media's Lies, which is a critical skill for anyone in the magical community. I'm certain that each of you will learn a great deal if you choose to attend. I may even extend a small extra credit to attendees who show the most promise!"
Umbridge smiled at the students as if she had just magnanimously offered them a reward of inestimable value. Harry yearned to throw in her face that her scheme to deny them a space for Defense Club had utterly failed, but Hermione's warning not to give her added time to think through how to further disrupt them kept ringing in his ears.
When the bell finally rang, none of the students left their seats. The entire class had lost five points apiece the previous class period for leaving before Umbridge had dismissed them. No matter how many rubies filled Gryffindor's hourglass through points earned throughout the week, it was now a regular occurrence for their total to end up nearly halved after an Umbridge class.
"Now, isn't this much more orderly than a brutish stampede? You are now dismissed. I hope to see you at the symposium!" Her eyes shone with a malevolent glint as she watched Harry gather his things and exit the classroom.
After making their way down the corridor, Dean and Seamus trotted up to the four friends as they walked, and Parvati and Lavender followed closely behind.
"Hey! What's going on with the Defense Club?" asked Dean. "I thought the whole point of it was to actually learn something, not get lectured by Umbridge even more!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "She's just trying to scare us off and make things more difficult. She's taking over the Great Hall because she thinks it's the only place big enough to hold everyone who signed up, but we found another spot that'll be even better."
"We're going to meet outside the Charms classroom then head over there," said Ginny slyly. "But we don't want to ruin the surprise too early."
Parvati looked at Hermione quizzically. "Are you all sure that doing this is a good idea? Umbridge is already going after us a lot more than some of the other classes. Won't this provoke her even more?"
"Honestly, it probably will," Hermione replied, a serious look across her face. "But we think it's important to keep learning how to defend ourselves."
"We're not going to judge anyone who decides it's not worth it," added Harry. "We're just going to keep doing everything we can to make sure Defense Club is worth the risk."
Lavender smiled at them. "Okay, that's good to know. Ever since Umbridge started talking about her symposium thing, there've been some rumors going around that she was going to be part of the club. It may have scared a couple of people away, but we'll see what we can do."
"Between the two of us, it shouldn't be too hard to get some counter-gossip going that Defense Club is getting under Umbridge's skin. Lav and I are pretty good at spreading the word."
"Finally using your powers for good, huh?" said Seamus with a chuckle.
The gaggle of Fifth Years found seats at the Gryffindor table. Ginny was seated with a couple of other younger students, so Harry slid down the bench to join them. "Hey everyone! How'd the day go?"
Even though he was trying to focus on their answers (Colin was saying something about a difficult Charms class), Harry found his attention split by Ginny's fingers running through his hair just above his collar. Some of the tension he'd accrued during Umbridge's class dissipated as he smiled and nodded at whatever Colin had just said.
"Look at him, Ginny!" said a Third Year girl that Harry vaguely recognized. "You can't tell me he wouldn't have let our year join the Defense Club if you'd just asked him really nicely!"
The other students giggled as a blush crept onto Harry's cheeks, but Ginny was undeterred. "He just finished up with Umbridge, Demelza. Give him a break." She turned to him with her hand still resting in the back of his hair and a serious look. "Please tell me you didn't get any more detention from her today…"
"Only thought of jinxing her a few dozen times, but managed to hold off. I didn't even lose any points today, which was a minor miracle."
Dinner with Ginny and some of her friends was pleasant for Harry, though his nervousness was building as the first Defense Club neared. As the students finished their meals, Dumbledore rose from his seat to stand behind the staff table. When the Great Hall had fallen mostly silent, the headmaster addressed the group.
"Students, I have been asked to remind you of two opportunities that will be available this evening. The first is Professor Umbridge's lecture on truth and the media, which will be held here in the Great Hall. At the same time, several students have reformed the Defense Club, whose first meeting has been moved in order to ensure their group does not interfere with Professor Umbridge's talk. Students who are Fourth Year and above should promptly meet at the Charms classroom, from whence you will adjourn to the newly-refurbished Defense Club Chamber. To those who choose to join the Defense Club, please remember to bring your wand." Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled as he smiled at the students. "For those attending Professor Umbridge's lecture, wands will not be necessary. Good evening!"
Harry's laughter at the headmaster's unsubtle jab was drowned out by the chattering of excited students and the scraping of benches away from tables. He slung his bag over his shoulder, caught Ginny's hand in his, and joined the throngs of students exiting the Great Hall. When he glanced over his shoulder, Harry saw Umbridge glowering malevolently at Dumbledore.
The Charms hallway was absolutely jammed with students by the time Harry and Ginny arrived. The scene was fairly chaotic at first, causing Harry to wonder why they hadn't planned their excursion in more detail. Before he had time to ask Ginny what she thought they should do, Cedric climbed up on a pedestal that held a suit of armor so that he was head and shoulders above the crowd. He pointed his wand at his throat before speaking over the din of dozens of conversations.
"HEY EVERYONE!" Cedric's magically magnified voice crashed over the assembled students, several of whom let out a cry of surprise or covered their ears. "WHOA! WAY TOO LOUD! MY FAULT!"
He dispelled the charm and attempted to start again without enhancement to aid his yell. "First time trying a Sonorus! Sorry about that! Every head down the corridors that way! We're following Hermione Granger!"
Harry looked down the hallway that Cedric was indicating and could barely glimpse the top of a bushy brown head of hair that was attached to an arm that was waving back and forth excitedly. The mass of students jostled their way behind her until they reached what had once been the doorway leading to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. In its place was a stone archway opening into a room that was hardly recognizable to Harry.
Gone were the taps and stalls that Hermione, Harry, and Ron had used to hide their Polyjuice Potion from prying eyes. Instead, the room contained several medium-sized bookshelves, a few plush couches, and some tables surrounded by chairs. A stone stairway descended from the center of the room into the torch-lit passage winding below their feet.
Ginny let out a low whistle as she and Harry looked around while waiting their turn to head down the stairs. "He wasn't kidding about renovations! It's so bizarre that this used to be a girls' loo…"
Just before the two started down the steps, Harry noticed a U-bend in the far corner of the room with a small plaque mounted above it. He raised an eyebrow until a ghostly figure emerged and looked directly at him. He cocked his head to the side in confusion as Myrtle floated their way. Harry was shocked to see that she was smiling.
"Hey, Myrtle! I don't think I've ever seen you looking so happy," he said brightly while allowing other students to slip ahead of him and Ginny. "Looks nice in here!"
"Hello, Harry! I was hoping you'd come back to visit soon!" Her eyes fell to Ginny, who was still holding his hand, then returned her gaze to Harry as if the youngest Weasley didn't exist. "Dumbledore converted my room into a student lounge. I expect that I'll have a lot more visitors now that it's more comfortable, but you're always more than welcome. And since it's not a girls' restroom anymore, there's nothing to stop you from dropping by more often!"
A rush of heat burned on Harry's cheeks as he muttered, "Thanks for the invite. Err… We've got to head down for Defense Club. See you around…"
The ghost waved as she returned to her corner of the room while the two joined the stragglers who were making their way down the stairs. When Ginny was fairly certain they were out of earshot, she let herself fall into hysterical giggling. "Oh, Harry, that's too good!" she said while trying to regain control of herself. "At least now I know that I've got some competition!"
Harry grimaced as his girlfriend's laughter shook her next to him. "Y'know, Gin, I've gotta say that I'm rather happy with things as is. No need for you to get jealous or anything." Ginny snorted loudly, drawing the looks of two Sixth Years who were a few steps ahead of them.
Once at the end of the stairs, Harry and Ginny marveled at how much less creepy everything looked now that there were ample torches lighting the way. The entryway leading to the main Chamber was filled with the chatter of dozens of students who were just as impressed by their surroundings. The huge stone doors were already wide open, allowing Harry and Ginny to file into the Chamber and make their way to where Cedric, Hermione, Ron, and Cho stood next to Dumbledore.
"Excellent, excellent!" said the headmaster to the six. "I hope you don't mind if I share a few words with everyone before you get started in earnest?" He smiled as they all assured him that they held no objections.
"Good evening, students!" boomed Professor Dumbledore's voice, echoing slightly in the cavernous space. "Welcome to your Defense Club Chamber, formerly known as the Chamber of Secrets!" Some students gasped at this revelation while a low murmur of whispers steadily grew.
"I would like to assure you that these rooms have been thoroughly searched by myself and your Heads of House. We have cast a variety of spells and wards to ensure your safety while learning and practicing defense. Though a professor may occasionally join you during your meetings, these six students," He gestured to his right. "Have done the majority of the legwork to restart this club and have aided in making this incredible room suitable for your use.
"On that note, some of you may not be aware that this very Chamber was once home to a Basilisk, one of the most dangerous magical creatures known to the wizarding world." With realization dawning on him, Harry let out a low groan and covered his face with his hand. "I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that several of the students who have planned this club were instrumental in the discovery of the Chamber and the defeat of the Basilisk.
"Miss Granger was the first to identify the beast and determine how it moved around the castle undetected. Miss Weasley fought a dark object that was attempting to unleash the Basilisk. Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter located the entrance to the Chamber based on Miss Granger's research and subdued an assailant who tried to prevent them from rescuing Miss Weasley. Mr. Potter was then attacked by the Basilisk, which he was able to successfully slay. Without their efforts, it is unlikely that Hogwarts would remain open today."
The wide-eyed stares of the myriad of students shifted from the headmaster to Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione. Dumbledore smiled as if he'd done nothing more than announce which students scored highest on a Transfiguration essay.
"Additionally, you are all aware that Mr. Diggory and Mr. Potter represented our school in last year's Triwizard Tournament. What you may not be cognizant of is that Mr. Diggory was aided in his significant training by Miss Chang. Likewise, Mr. Potter worked alongside Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Weasley during his preparations for the tasks.
"Pointing out these facts is not meant to insinuate that these students are infallible, but rather to impress upon you the truth that they have experience with the kind of magic for which the Defense Club was created. Now that Voldemort has returned, it is all the more imperative that you learn how to defend yourselves and those for whom you care. I urge you to learn from each other and grow your skills here in ways that may be prohibited elsewhere. For now, I leave you in their capable hands."
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