The Sugar Quill
Author: Daye Baye (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Ugly Duckling  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.


KEEP OUT!!!!!!!!

Warning to all trespassers: This book is protected by The Jelly-Legs Jinx The

Leg-Locker Curse A Stunning Spell Furnunculus The Cruciatus Curse IF YOU READ



Dear Cassandra,

It's raining today. I hate rain. It drips and drips and makes your clothes sopping wet. Miserable. Mum loves rain. She goes on and on about how it helps flowers and makes them grow. Personally, I think it's stupid. She only plants annuals. I say, plant the stupid perennials and get it over with. Not that I really care one way or the other. But I really hate rain. It doesn't help that I'm eleven years old today, it's September 1st, and I'm starting school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. My da's flying me in on Mairy, our Aethonan. Da's made her invisible, and I can't say I like that, either. I usually like flying, but up high, in the cold and wet, is not my idea of fun. I can see King's Cross now. Da's just dropping me off. Mum took a Muggle car, because she said Mairy couldn't carry all my stuff. She's right. I wish I could've gone in the car, too. It's a Jeep, and there isn't enough room. "Good-bye, pumpkin," my da says, kissing me on the ear. "Get Sorted into Gryffindor!" I clamber out of the saddle, stubbing a toe on the ground. I look around to be sure no one'll see me, then let go of Mairy. I'm visible again. I look down at my clothes. They're in worse shape than I'd thought. The rain has soaked through my clothes, and now even my undershirt is wet. Hopefully it'll dry on the train. And won't shrink.

A car drives into the station. It's one of those old, junky models that you just can't miss. Never minding the fact that it's painted a rather glaring orange. My da bought it years ago and hasn't let my mum buy a new one since. Mum pulls up and opens the doors. She waves at me and I walk slowly over. She lifts my big trunk and I pick up my wand and Persevina's cage (It's invisible to most people, of course- you think Mum would let me bring something not an "owl, cat, or toad?" Think again. Arianrhod's cage bumps against it, but it's small enough that mum doesn't notice I seem to be carrying more than one item in my left hand). I never use it, but the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures requires demiguise owners to have cages. It's cruelty to animals. She's in there now, of course, but I can't see her without looking really hard. She's visible when she's not with something she's scared of. Like automobiles. Mum lugs the trunk through the barrier and I drag it onto the train. I set it down in a small compartment that maybe people'll leave me alone in. I look out the window and see Mum waving at me. "See you for Christmas, sweetheart! Get Sorted into Gryffindor!"

The Hogwarts Express is pulling away from the station, and I settle down into my chair to brood. What if I don't get Sorted into Gryffindor? What if I get into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff? Mum and Da would be so disappointed. I don't really know the differences between the four houses. What I do know is colored by Mum and Da's opinions- Ravenclaw is for the bookworms, Hufflepuff's for the stupid people, Slytherin's for the just plain evil, and Gryffindor is for the best and bravest. My family's Gryffindor way, way back. Da used to swing me around, saying "The MacDonalls have been in Gryffindor since time began, pumpkin! Just you wait 'til Hogwarts. You'll be there too!"

Dear Cassandra,

The train is stopping now. I'm wearing my school robes, and I can't say they make me look like a model. I'm thin, with yellowish skin that these bloody robes just accentuate. I look sallower than usual. My hair is black, but not Pocahontas-black. It's thin and cut around my ears, with annoying curls that turn into tangles as soon as you've brushed them. I don't think I'll ever have a boyfriend. Luckily, though, I'm all dry. We'll get wet as soon as we get out of our compartments though. Life stinks. There's no help for it.

A big man is calling "Firs' years over here!" I think I read about him in the papers. The half-giant Rita Skeeter wrote about- Hagrid wasn't it? Giants can't be as bad as the Ministry says they are, though. After all, they gave demiguises an XXXX rating. I've got one for a "pet," and I'm an underage witch. I follow the big man, and he tells us to get in boats waiting for us at the station. This is just what I need. Water above and water below. I just don't like water. I get into a boat, and, after awhile, a fat girl gets into the boat. The boat sways a bit, but there must be some sort of Floating Charm on it, because it doesn't sink. The next kid to get on is one of those really tall people who should play Muggle basketball. He is carrying a bag with the name Marc Kriomsky embroidered on it. He has spiky brown hair that I'm afraid to go anywhere near. There are four seats in the boat, but only three of them are filled when the boats begin to move across the lake. I can see lanterns bobbing in the front of the boats as we head towards Hogwarts. The fat girl seems scared. I bet she's a Muggle-born.

"What's your name?" I ask the girl. "I'm Isabael MacDonall." She looks at me with brown eyes that seem like they're going to pour at any moment. I can't stand people who have hysterics. She stutters "Eu-Eugenia M-Marsh." I look at her for a long, long moment. She's honest-to-god terrified. "You a Muggle-born?" I ask. "Just wondering." She nods her head wordlessly. Yep. I knew it. You can spot Muggle-borns a mile away. It's their eyes, I think. They're always surprised-looking. Having one of your companions gushing faucets of water behind you is not very pleasant for an avowed enemy of water, so I guess I'll just have to prevent that. "If you're worried about friends, fitting in, grades or any of the other multiple woes scientific studies have shown us preteens suffer from-" I got a watery smile at that, "then you needn't worry, Eugenia. At Hogwarts there's a friend here for everyone, even if you're the nastiest person on the planet. And everyone comes here knowing absolutely nil. You'll do well enough." The girl sniffs a bit, but then stops crying. The boy talks for the first time. I don't like his voice, it's all reedy and annoying. If it were up to me, I'd outlaw all such

voices. "I should have known better than to get on this boat. Stuck with an ugly Irish milksop and a Mudblood. Yuck!" I really don't care about his calling Marsh a Mudblood. She gets on my nerves, anyway. But to be called ugly and a milksop in the same sentence (I can call my own self ugly, but getting that from anyone else-) in that voice- that is just not allowed. I've perfected a cold, scary voice over the years, to use

in plays and such when I'm cast as the villain. I use that voice now. "Kriomsky. You have just made yourself an enemy who won't ever forgive for that comment. When you are an old man, you will still rue this day." I scrape my hand on the boat, and hold the trickleof blood over the lake. "Thus do I swear." The fat girl looks frightened, her face wide in the moonlight. Kriomsky looks about to sneer when we reach shore. No, Cassandra, I'm not kidding. He will be my enemy from now on. No one calls me a milksop. Or ugly. Sorry, people-who believe-in-innocent-eleven-year-olds.

Dear Cassandra,

The boat bumps ashore, and Eugenia scrambles out first. She disappears into the crowd of first-years, probably hoping she'll never see us again. That was a hard sentence to write. Putting Kriomsky and myself in the same group even for a moment is horrible. He has an enemy. For sure. I get out last, Kriomsky spitting in my direction as I get out. I avoid the spittle, and now I am sure of what I'll do to him first chance I get.

A tall, thin, don't-mess-with-me sort of woman is standing at the door. The giant-man greets her as Professor McGonagall. She thanks him and welcomes us to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. If you've ever been welcomed somewhere, you know the drift. She leads us inside, and all of a sudden we're in a huge room lined with tables. The rest of the school is already seated. Why, oh why, do I have the impression that I'm supposed to be terrified? Oh, I know now. All the school is staring at our raggedy line, and unless you're one of those people quite immune to stage fright, that's supposed to be scary. Right. Well, all the other first-years are quite panicked. No one else with that peculiar immunity today, I see.

They're not eating- waiting for us, I guess. The ceiling's like the sky outside- cloudy and gloomy and rainy. McGonagall lines us all up in front of this slightly raised platform in front of what I assume to be the Head Table. The only thing on the platform is a stool that looks like it would break if Marsh sat on it. The Professor carries an old, battered hat onto the platform. I think all the first years are supposed to look at it and start having butterflies in their stomachs. I'm not scared right now, though. I'll only have reason to be scared if the Sorting Hat doesn't put me in Gryffindor. But hey, what's done is done and I'll be in whatever House they send me to irrevocably.

The Hat opens it's mouth and begins to sing (it really doesn't have good pitch. Not to mention it's putting some alarming F#s in there). I won't record the whole song, but it boils down to this- Hufflepuffs are patient, loyal, kind of like house-elves, but not to that extreme. Usually. Ravenclaws are the really smart people in terms of schoolwork and book learning, and kind of on the shy side. Slytherins are supposed to be smart, cunning and planners. Gryffindors are brave, courageous and rash. I'm guessing that stupid, toady people go

to Hufflepuff as well, stupid, nasty people get Slytherin, stupid, non-thinkers get Gryffindor and stupid readers get Ravenclaw (You know- sit around reading cheap romance novels to the exclusion of aught else. Let's see what this song rules out for me- I'm not a Hufflepuff, 'cause I'm a lazy bum and I'm not a toady. I can't stand books- unless I'm doing the writing, and I am not that good at school work. That rules out any

hope of Ravenclaw (not that I want a raven as a mascot. What a cheery thought). But I don't see myself as brave- I'm a coward at heart. And I think enough, so- oh, god, please, no!- I don't see myself going to Gryffindor. But that leaves Slytherin. As far as I can tell, I'm not plain nasty, nor am I a manipulator. So, as to which House I get, I'm still in the dark. I wonder if it is possible to render people unsortable??

The line is moving slowly. I can hear the grumbling bellies of the people watching us. Finally, McGonagall's on M's. "MacDonall, Isabael." I walk towards the Sorting Hat slowly. I think it has eyes. I know it's watching me. It's a struggle to get on the stool- I'm not tall enough yet to just lean back, as I'm 4'2. I put the Hat on my head, and it slips down over my chin. Gryffindor must've had a big head. "Let's have a look at you," it whispers in my ear. "I remember your parents, and grandparents, all the way back to the Founding- all of them I gave Gryffindor. Something different for you, I believe." I clench my fists tight as I can and think hard at the Hat. Gryffindor, please! Gryffindor, Gryffindor, Gryffindor, please! It laughs mockingly in my ear. "You'll go where you belong. And don't for a moment think your house is as bad as they say, or that you don't deserve it. I say you belong in SLYTHERIN!" I remove the hat, place it back on the stool, and trudge slowly over to the Slytherin table. McGonagall looks surprised. Well, of course she does. She's the

Gryffindor Head of House. She probably knows my parents and grandparents (who knows how old she is). The Slytherin table looks surprised, too. And guess who else is here? I smile sweetly across the table at Kriomsky. It's going to be a long seven years.

Dear Cassandra,

I'm going to have to tell my parents which House I'm in. They'll probably never speak to me again. But that's not what I'm worried about. I'm not worried about the kids here, either. I'll survive. I've learned how to. I'm not worried about remembering the password, either. Right now it's Cruciatus. Wonderful password, don't you think? You just say it to this empty wall- it doesn't have a picture in front of it. The wall slides open. It's my kind of place, I can see immediately. Dark and gloomy, where you can just sit around and be left alone. I'd guess that any Slytherin social gatherings going on either doesn't happen or happen somewhere else. I'd guess the former, as they can't be such sticks-in-the-mud that they don't throw a party for themselves once in awhile.

And my guess is right. It happens in a place that only a Slytherin can access. It's like a quick test to discover whether the Sorting Hat really Sorted you into Slytherin. I can hear a sixth year telling his sister about that. Professor Snape welcomes us as our Head of House. "Welcome back, those of you who have been here before. I trust you have all enjoyed your summers. You all realise it is your responsibility to make sure none of your housemates act in any way that is an embarrassment to Slytherin House or myself. And without further ado, I would like to welcome the new to Slytherin House. We have many House rules that you will be expected to follow, but I will not detail them to you- you will have to read them on your own. First, however, I would like to introduce you to the real Slytherin common room. If for some reason you wish to be left alone, here is the place to do it. But for the normal magic-users amongst us- Pericardium!" the floor slides open right behind him. I can see a row of well-polished stairs behind him. He gestures the second to seventh years away, and us newbies make our way slowly down the steps, following Snape.

At the bottom of the stairs is a huge room, well-lit, and with all sorts of things lining the walls. One long row of bookshelves is devoted to books found only in the Restricted section in the Darkest of libraries. Another wall is filled with advanced, legitimate, curses, spells, hexes and charms. Not bad at all. And, my personal favorite, a huge row of books right next to very precise potions accouterment. Have I ever said Potions has always been my favorite subject (other than Magical Creatures and Recess)? It is.

"This, not the room upstairs, is our common room. But because of some of the- delicate materials in here, they are not stored in plain view." He smiled unpleasantly. "Not even the Headmaster knows of this room, much less the password, which is changed daily, always the next word in this dictionary." Here the Professor held up a Dictionary of the English Language. "If you speak of this room in the hearing of any person not in Slytherin, you are an outcast, plain and simple. And I wouldn't trust that you'd live much longer either." I believe him. After all, what's the use of all these books if you don't know how to use them? Some Slytherins probably know this library inside out and are not afraid to use their knowledge. In addition, I don't think he's the sort of man to make idle threats. Nasty, you know? He'd better teach Potions. Only a really good Potions brewer would be able to make hair look like that. I wonder what his reason is for liking greasy hair is. I know my uncle's reason. He thinks grease'll make his dreadlocks grow faster."Also, use of the knowledge contained here in a way revealing a deposit such as this before outsiders is punishable in the same way."

Threatening. If I need lessons on threats, I believe my manager is to be found here. I am going to have fun here. I might not have any friends, but half the time they're just nuisances waiting to happen anyway.

Dear Cassandra,

My dormmates are all asleep. I'm sitting here, trying to write a letter to tell my parents that their little girl isn't in Gryffindor. I think I'll tell them at the end of the letter. I'll cushion it with every other tidbit of information I can find.

Dear Mum and Da,

I'm having a lot of fun already. Maybe the rain isn't exactly uplifting on the spirits, but it won't rain every day. The feast was wonderful, but Mum- Dumbledore's crazy. Seriously. I don't know if this is how he normally acts, but he sang the school song right along with us, and sang it to the theme song of the American TV show Jetsons. There's this awful boy I met, Marc Kriomsky, who called me an ugly Irish milksop. Can you believe it? And no, I'm not overly excited by his remark. He called this fat kid I was sitting next to, Eugenia Marsh, a M*db***d. He got Sorted into Slytherin. I'm not that well acquainted with the other girls in my dorm, but I expect I will get to know them eventually. The Great Hall's neat, but it was raining today. See you for Christmas.



P.S.- Please don't freak, Da, and break the news to the family quietly. I'm not in Gryffindor. I'm in Slytherin.

My parents are going to kill me. Ach, if I do survive, I dedicate all my worldly goods to the largest orphanage in London.

Dear Cassandra,

There are five other girls in my dorm. One has a bed right next to mine. She is waking up now. Her name is Linda Kinderlake. She's one of those rich brats with everything. I imagine there are more of them here than in any other House. She feels awful superior to me, I bet. It's because her parents and grandparent and greats all the way on back are or were Slytherin. Somehow the whole house seems to have discovered I'm

Gryffindor by birth. They needn't worry. If the Sorting Hat says I'm either cunning or a stupid, nasty person, I'm determined to be cunning. I refuse to be either stupid or nasty. I'm going to try to keep clear of her. I think she's closer to the "stupid, nasty person" description. I can live without stupid people messing up my life. It's messed up enough already. Three of the other girls who live here are Cathy Miller, Julie

Macnair and Hortense Avery. Hortense is a horrible name, If you ask me. Which is not eclipsed by the fact that she's really, really ugly. Not that I should be talking, but she has the ugliest face in history, and resembles a man (probably in more ways than I care to think about). Julie is kind of out of it- I think she's the Slytherin version of a toady. Miller is okay, I guess. She's pretty quiet, with short, frazzled hair. But guess who the 5th person in this dorm is? That-idiot-Kriomsky's twin sister! She's just scary. She couldn't be- not with Kriomsky as a brother- but for some reason she reminds me of a veela. In both senses. Really pretty, but for some reason I think she's going to turn into a feathered snake. Her name is Alexandra. And I don't talk to snakes. So, basically, if I aim to have friends at all, they're not Slytherin first-year girls.

First class today is Transfiguration, directly after breakfast. Ugh. Why me? Iam abysmal at Transfiguring. My da says it's genetic. My mum says he's being stupid because she got highest marks in her class for Transfiguration. In York Wizarding Primary, we learned theories for most of the stuff we'll learn here. I was bloody terrible at Transfiguration Theory.

Breakfast is yellow and orange. Eggs, toast and butter, waffles and cantaloupe. Looks like I won't be eating much this morning. Cantaloupe gives me hives, eggs give me awful stomach aches and I'm not that fond of

toast. Under the cover of getting eggs, Kriomsky drops a handful of flies onto my waffles. Does he think I'm stupid enough not to have seen that? One of Slytherin's rules is to always appear a team, no matter how much you hate someone's guts. So a feud between two members of Slytherin House during school is breaking rule #986. Kidding. Only rule #74. #986 is a Quidditch foul Slytherins are not allowed to commit. Most fouls are allowed, but none that compromise our "honor as members of the distiguished House of Salazar Slytherin." I "accidentally" spill a potion I'd created an hour ago for this purpose on his toast. His

food will soon be tasting like underarm hair. He doesn't see me. Fool.

Dear Cassandra,

The post owls are flying in. I sent my letter last night. I wonder what my parents' reaction will be. Rejection? Support? Silence Treatment? A Howler? A post owl comes flying towards me. I don't recognise him. He drops a letter in front of me. I do believe my last guess was correct. A red envelope, and it has already started smoking at the corners. Another owl, and another owl and another owl are dropping red envelopes on my lap. It seems my whole extended family has decided that I have shamed my 5x great

grandparents. I let them all explode at the same time, my hands over my ears. The people closest to me see my "gifts," and they, too, cover their ears. It's a family fight during Christmas multiplied 2,000 times. Go figure. The words are undistinguishable because of the number of voices. I know what they're saying, though. A full minute passes before they're all finished. My eyes see white flashes as the last Howler

explodes. I can hear my Mum's voice, as it concludes. " .....SLYTHERIN!" Not, you know, what you'd expect from a Gryffindor, but hey! people aren't always perfect, poor creatures. This must have come as a shock. It explodes. The Great Hall is silent, as all the students stare. I am not going to blush. Kriomsky is struggling with the urge to snort. He wins. Too bad. I'd like to see that idiot break rule #74. That would make my day.

I head towards Transfiguration with the rest of the Slytherin first years and the Ravenclaws. They're all looking at me funny. I see Marsh got into Ravenclaw. Maybe she is smart. I wouldn't know. She looks at me with a slightly hurt look in hereyes. What did I ever do to her? Maybe she's disappointed that somebody who "stood up" for her got into Slytherin. They probably tell ghost stories about Slytherins in the other houses. With Slytherins running amok and making everybody else ghosts. Not that some of my housemates wouldn't do that. What I'm really dreading, though, is this class.

Dear Cassandra,

I sit, fiddling with my wand, as Professor McGonagall reads us a long lecture on not goofing off, staying serious in class, and most of all, paying attention. Then she turns into a cat, turns back, and says not to try that at home. We spend the rest of class taking notes on Elementary Transfiguration. My handwriting's horrible- if I ever need to look back at notes, I'll be out of luck. Not that it matters, really. I'm going to fail this class anyways. Diana Clearwater, from Ravenclaw, is studiously copying notes in tiny, legible handwriting. She glances at my notes and turns up her nose. Someday....... someday........... I promise myself. Behind me, the Kriomsky twins are studiously ignoring each other. I think each being the other's sibling for eleven years must be rather wearing. Kriomsky the First is playing with a beetle that unfortunately stumbled into his line of sight. He's poking it with his wand as it scuttles around his desk. McGonagall sees him. She becomes silent for a minute, looking right at him. Naturally, the rest of the class looks that way, too. He's too absorbed by the stupid beetle. Her nostrils flare slightly, and her mouth pinches.

"Mr. Kriomsky. I believe you were told to pay attention in my class, were you not? Detention and ten points from Slytherin. Please learn to pay attention when it counts." My mind races frantically. There's a rule somewhere about standing up for a "fellow" Slytherin. Am I supposed to raise my hand and say "But Professor..."

Never mind. I'm not getting my bum in trouble for Kriomsky. Miller, unfortunately, does not have this idea. She raises her hand. McGonagall, looking like she sees what is coming, stares at Miller with the iciest look I have ever seen. The room goes cold. Another source of theatrical menace, perhaps? "Yes, Ms. Miller?" I feel almost sorry for her. Cathy puts her hand down, stuttering "N-never mind." Alexandra smiles at her, showing all of her teeth. I just know she's going to turn into a feathered serpent.

McGonagall's giving out assignments now. I do think they're rather large for our first day in her class. My book is looking tired. Maybe it sees long use in the future. Books have a great deal of consciousness when it comes to themselves. Next class is Herbology. With the Hufflepuffs. I wonder what they're like. I am well-acquainted with Gryffindors, marginally less acquainted with Slytherins, and have met several Ravenclaws. I don't believe I've ever met a Hufflepuff.

Dear Cassandra,

Professor Sprout - she's the Herbology teacher- reminds me a lot of Mum. Professor Sprout just has more time, I guess, to muck around in the mud. Both of them have short nails, with dirt already finding a home under there. They both wear clothes that I, personally, think should have been thrown into the rag bag years ago. You know the type- covered with dirt stains, old and new, grass stains, little rips and tears from

thorns, rather burned bits of cloth from encounters with plants I'd rather not think on. At least this is going to be a hands-on class. No theory. I hope. It's ever so hard to remember. We have an assignment already. These teachers don't believe in giving us poor students a chance to adjust, or adjust back to, school schedules. We're supposed to read the first hundred pages of Magical Herbs and Fungi and be prepared for a quiz on the information. She assures us that it is only a test of our abilities and will not count towards our final grades. If I knew worse words, than "idiot" and "stupid," I'd insert them in the blank _________. I leave it up to your imagination, Cassandra. Never trust those words from a teacher.

Dear Cassandra,

I wonder if it's safe to eat any of this stuff- I mean, it sure looks all right, and everybody else is eating it with apparent relish- but for some reason, I think Kriomsky suspects poor, innocent me of thoroughly destroying his breakfast. He's right, of course, but am I going to tell him that? Not on your life. I push the blueberries around with my fork- ah, there. Those were once blueberries. Something has- been added. No lunch today. And don't you agree, Cassandra, Kriomsky needs a bit of a present.

I glide past him and drop a few bits of my "blueberries" onto his plate. He doesn't notice- too busy staring at a very buxom Ravenclaw. She's gotta be at least five years older than him. Dark eyes flash in my direction as I drop those fateful blue blobs. Alexandra is smiling. A real smile. I think she despises her twin as much as I do. What's that saying about the enemy of your enemy being a friend? Nobody else noticed, though.

Dear Cassandra,

We've got a free period at the moment. Poor, poor Kriomsky. He's missing out on all the fun. He's in the hospital wing now. His hair is purple with nasty green streaks, and his skin is polka-dotted orange. Was that supposed to happen to me? I'm glad it didn't. I'm reading our Herbology assignment right now. Or rather, I just finished. Two Chapters all together- Australia, The Native Desert Fungi of, and Northern Europe, Hardy Herbs of. Boring, boring, boring. Mum has half these plants. Well, looks like the test should be pretty easy. Now what to do? Persevina's out exploring, Arianrhod is asleep and I couldn't convince Mum to let me bring Mardian. Sweetest little Crup you ever did see.

After the free period, we're going to have Potions. Yes, Professor Snape does teach it. But it's still a half-hour left until then. Explore the real common room? Nah, not nearly enough time for the in-depth exploring I'd like to do. Hmmmm a little voice at the back of my head whispers maybe make sure your equipment's all ready and spotless? It's supposed to be new, y'know. I walk over to my trunk (I still haven't unpacked anything) and withdraw one of my favorite boxes in the world. It doesn't look like much- a tin box with a small dent on the left side, from a game of Exploding Snap, and a series of white scratches froman exploding concoction I made up and didn't do anything but that- explode. And give me a small white burn at the base of my thumb. It didn't hurt when I got it- I was more worried about the vial I'd mixed it in, but after that I left it bandaged up for days.

I open the box and survey it's contents- racks and racks of refilled bottles and packets of ingredients, all of which are labeled in my best handwriting- which is pretty bad, if I do say so myself. A couple of the basic "tools of the trade" are in there too, but my glass and stuff is at home. Da thought it might break in the trunk. He was probably right. I look at the clock on the wall above Miller's bed. The right hand is dangerously close to "Potions," written in large green letters at six o'clock. I close the box again, grab my cauldron, and negotiate my way down to the dungeon


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