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On The Wings Of A Wish And A Prayer
By Shadow Dancer

Song by Westlife - My Love
From the album: Coast To Coast

An empty street
An empty house
A hole inside my heart
I'm all alone
The rooms are getting smaller
          Milgazia awoke before the sun did, as was his habit, rising from his sleeping pit and stretching his wings. He did not get out as he normally did but settled back down instead, listening to the silence that threatened to deafen him. Unsettled by a sudden realization that the quiet he used to enjoy now discomfited him, he got up and drifted aimlessly through his cave, pausing to peek into the room that Memphis, his elven friend’s daughter, would stay in when she visited. It was empty, and for a moment, Milgazia sighed, wishing that Memphis were around to try and get a smile from her "Milgazia-ojisama, *" with her jokes, or to try to get him angry with her pranks.

          The silence drove him out at last, the spacious caverns of his dwelling suddenly closing in on him, and Milgazia sat, listening to the giant waterfall that they called Seiryu-oh’s Blessing roar some distance away. For a brief moment, he was thankful for the calming sound of countless tons of water crashing into the stone below, knowing that the water slowly but patiently eroded the stone smoother than any artisan could hope to accomplish.
          Time could do the same to dragon souls, and Milgazia’s was much the like the stone after the Kouma War. To seal his grief and loneliness at the loss of his family and most of his friends, he buried his feelings with them.

          Milgazia ceased to merely exist upon the tumultuous appearance of a spunky redheaded sorceress who sought to bring about survival in the midst of a Mazoku plot to destroy the world. He had vowed to protect her so that she could go on living...
          How was her life now?

          He knew only about his own, and since he had met her, it had never been the same.

          Time had unearthed his emotions again, and Milgazia knew loneliness once more. This time, he could not bury it any longer.

          The rising sun’s light sparkled on moisture upon golden skin that was not spray from the waterfall, the only witness to a Golden Dragon’s longing and loss.

I wonder how
I wonder why
I wonder where they are
The days we had
The songs we sang together
Oh yeah

          Milgazia rose from his lounge and closed his eyes, tasting the wind and the sunlight. The sky above him remained gray, a harbinger of rain to come later that day.
          It hadn’t been raining that morning that she had arrived, and Milgazia remembered that the sky had been an almost jewel-like shade of blue. His kin had threaded the air like onyx and golden charms, and their songs had filled the mists rising from the waterfall. It had happened so long ago, and yet it seemed so fresh in his memory, the time that they had spent together. She was unusual indeed (though he could easily have called her companions queer, especially the ‘jellyfish swordsman’) and that uniqueness had first drawn his curiosity and then, his respect. He had questioned her, and her answers had revealed to him that she sought the Claire Bible, not for gain, for no personal motive, but for a desire to survive, to fight as hard as she could.

And oh my love
I'm holding on forever
Reaching for a love that seems so far

          Milgazia threw back his head and roared, heralding the new day to the rest of his folk. He listened as the last echoes of his voice reverberated from the mountains before he roared again and again, trumpeting to all the call of the tasks of the morning. He spread his wings and flew up to the high peak where he preferred to perch, settling on the distant spire. Far below, he watched as his kinfolk emerged from their homes and launched themselves from their ledges, jeweling the mists with black and golden wings. They seemed so small from up here, he thought, suddenly remembering how small Lina’s hand was in his as he clasped it tightly so she would not lose herself in the space between the Astral and where the Claire Bible was kept. It had been stronger than he thought it would have been, as he remembered having been afraid of crushing her fingers in his grasp. She had not winced at his strength, and proven her own.

          Milgazia could not remember when he had felt so comfortable with a complete stranger before. It had taken him so short a time before he relaxed enough to smile, and even shorter a time before he played a prank, which he rarely did now. Milgazia could not recall when he had felt so totally himself, and it was only then, when he was with Lina Inverse.
          Perhaps that was why he missed her so.

So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue to see you once again, my love
Over seas and coast to coast
To find a place I love the most
Where the fields are green to see you once again, my love

          Knowing that her life was fraught with danger, and just as much adventure, he lifted his head and closed his eyes against the rising sun, whispering a heartfelt wish for her to remain safe despite the risks she so loved to take. Milgazia remembered her retort at his admonition never to challenge a Mazoku in battle. She dared him to fight, and fight he did, standing against the Chaos Dragon Gaav himself, defying him at the risk of everything he knew and had worked for. Later, in quiet meditation, he wondered what had possessed him to take such a risk. Had Gaav not been destroyed by Fibrizo, the Chaos-Dragon would have returned to exact his revenge on what was left of the clan that served Seiryu-o Rugradia. Gaav may have been fighting for his life, but if he had to live, it would not be at the price of Lina Inverse’s. As long as Milgazia drew breath, he would protect her right to live her life.

          Milgazia opened his eyes and saw that the clouds that had cloaked the sky had fled, leaving behind a beautiful vista that stretched from the horizon, to where the sea touched heaven; as enchanting as a flawless sapphire.

          Perhaps she is looking up at the sky as I do, and marveling at it as I am.

          With that, he let himself plummet from the great spire, spreading his great wings at the last instant to keep him from certain death, and soared higher than the peaks, to join his kin in their daily tasks.

I try to read
I go to work
I'm laughing with my friends
But I can't stop to keep myself from thinking - oh no

          Memphis had returned to the Valley, and she provided slight respite from his turbulent thoughts with her resuming her intermittent studies of magic. She even managed to make him laugh when she cracked one of her puns. But the sound of Lina’s voice in his mind echoed once again and kept him from his duties and full concentration. More than once, he found himself remembering little insignificant details of her short visit to Dragon’s Peak, details he never knew he had noticed. He remembered how the sunlight had glinted off her hair, giving him the impression that her red locks were indeed flames and not ordinary hair. He suddenly remembered wondering at how light she was, as he lifted her out of harm’s way, remembering how gentle his grip had been, so that he would not bruise her accidentally. He did not release her immediately, ready for another attack to materialize, and noted absently how slender she was, and how she dangled, completely relaxed and trustingly leaning against him as he held her against his torso. He had put her down and she then tensed, seeing Gaav appear before them.

          And he remembered that despite Gaav’s words, he would not let it...let her...end there.

I wonder how
I wonder why
I wonder where they are
The days we had
The songs we sang together
Oh yeah


          "Yes, Memphy?" Milgazia replied, intent on the record he was transferring from written parchment to a crystal that would keep it forever.

          "You’re in love with Lina Inverse, aren’t you, Milgazia-ojisama?"

          "Yes I am, Memphy," he muttered, scowling at the crystal, which was not keeping record properly. "Now please, refrain from your questions for the moment, for I believe I have done something wrong. Besides, I’m certain that whatever question you have can be answered if you study your lesson exercise properly."

          Memphis waited patiently for the words to jump-kick her dearly beloved but preoccupied uncle in the face, her anticipating grin flickering from plain mischievous to purely sadistic.

          It hit like the mental equivalent of a meteorite landing when Milgazia finally realized just what it was he had just said. Memphis had a great view of ground zero.
        Memphis grinned, savoring the image of her dear ojisama gaping at her like a landed fish. The elf maid leaned forward, her chin cupped in the balls of her hands, her eyes twinkling almost mockingly at Milgazia. "Really, Milgazia-ojisama, was that so hard to admit? Oh, I’ve known for quite a while now," she held up one hand, knowing what he was about to stammer out. "You taught me to be observant after all, ne, Ojisama? You followed what happened to Lina-san rather closely, as closely as you could anyway. If it weren’t for the fact that you had to set up stronger defenses around the Valley, I know you’d have gone with them to face the Hellmaster in Sairaag. And when the Barrier fell and when the clans of the Chikyuryu-o and the Soraryu-o sent delegations concerning the welfare of our people, you could not search out for her, ne? I know you wanted to, if nothing else, to make sure if she was all right. Its been bugging you enough that you graded one of my test papers with ‘100%’ even though I deliberately answered all the questions wrong. You really want to see her again." Memphis stood up and winked at her uncle and sensei, wagging her finger at him knowingly. "Am I right or am I right?"

And oh my love
I'm holding on forever
Reaching for a love that seems so far

          Milgazia tried to scowl at her. "Don’t do that, Memphy. You look like Xelloss. And consider that test paper null and void as of this moment." Then he sighed in resignation, knowing he had lost another battle of wits against his precocious niece. "You are quite both that I harbor emotions for Lina and in my admission of them. But my admission of my feelings, even if it is just to yourself and myself, mean little. She is human, and I am Ryuzoku, and she will age and die while I do not change. She is unbound by duty to another save her own whim, and I have responsibilities here. I do not think she would want to remain here in Dragon’s Peak for the rest of her life."

          "You’re jumping to conclusions, Milgazia-ojisama, and that is simply illogical." Memphis said, mimicking his lecture-mode tone. "You haven’t even told her how you feel, and who knows? She might just return your feelings, and ta-daa! You both live happily ever after, even if it’s just for her lifetime, hey, at least you were happy!" Memphis vaulted over the table and landed on the edge of Milgazia’s desk. "I swear, Ojisama, I never saw you smile and chuckle so much as when you recounted her trip here to me. And besides, she had companions, and you barely mentioned them! It was ‘Lina this...’ and ‘Lina that...’ As the humans say, Uncle Dear, you’ve a terminal case of lovesick." She put a finger on his lips. "And don’t you deny it! You’ve got ALL the symptoms and I’ve been observing you for two years now. You’ve got a problem."

          Milgazia favored her with a raised eyebrow. "I have many problems, Memphy. Your point?"

          Memphis sighed. "What are you going to do about it? Every problem has a solution, ne? So what will you do to solve it?"

          "Absolutely nothing." Milgazia looked down at his niece from where she lay twitching on the floor. "You will put your nose out of joint that way, Memphy."

          With a low howl of frustration, Chibi-Memphy jumped up in front of her uncle. "THAT’S IT! I KNEW YOU WERE STUBBORN BUT NOT STUPID!!!!" Hand over hand, she hauled herself up the front of his robe until she was perched on the folds of his cloak, her fists clutching a lock of his hair, her face squarely in his line of vision. "THERE IS A VERY SIMPLE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM, UNCLE: GO AFTER HER!!!"

So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue to see you once again, my love
Over seas and coast to coast
To find a place I love the most
Where the fields are green to see you once again

          Milgazia stared at her. "You cannot be serious."

          "I’ve never been more serious in my entire life, ojisama!" Memphis hopped off her uncle’s chest and returned to normal size. She darted behind him and started to forcibly propel Milgazia out the opening of the cave.

          "What are you doing, Memphy?"

          "It’s been five years already! Get your tail out of here and go after her!" Memphis shouted,

          "That is a point in fact. I have not noticed the passage of time, as I am immortal. She is not. I will not age, and it will be unfair to her if..."

          "She’s a sorceress! She’ll live longer than most humans! Besides, it’s five years you could have spent with her instead of being sequestered here in Dragon’s Peak!"

          Milgazia blinked, realizing that Memphis was herding him out toward the labyrinth that kept most humans from discovering where the Valley was. Its defense was defeated by the one who was destined to find it, and when she had stood gazing down at his people, he went to meet them. "How do you know that I will find her, Memphis?" he asked. "Do you know where she is, and where I should start looking for her? Ah, I see by your silence that you do not know. You have no guarantee that Lina Inverse feels the same way I do. What if she does not?"

          They were standing on the ledge that overlooked the Valley, where Lina herself had stood with Xelloss, Zelgadiss, Amelia and Gourry a little over five years ago. Memphis gave her uncle a rough shove toward the outer world and stood with her arms crossed over her chest. Milgazia blinked in surprise, recognizing her frown as a mirror of his own. "You don’t know that either, Uncle. Who knows what the future holds? You can’t have guarantees, but I am certain that nothing will come of nothing if you stay here in the Valley. What have you to lose besides a few blinks of your eyes in the measure of time? At least you will know if you go, and even if she doesn’t feel the way you do, you have to take that risk. Can you really live with yourself for not having made the attempt? I know she isn’t married—we’d have heard about it from someone, if not her sister."

          Milgazia shook his head again, wanting to protest but finding it hard to form any argument that would hold water.

          "Don’t tell me you’re scared, Milgazia-ojisama." Memphis scolded.
          "There are few things in this world that I fear, Memphy," Milgazia snapped, piqued.
          "Good! Then if you’re not scared, go look for her and tell her how you feel! Don’t turn dragon and fly over the world—you’ll miss her that way. Humans look really small from a thousand feet up and Lina Inverse is smaller than most humans. You’ll have better chances of finding her on foot." Memphis turned, grinning, knowing that for once, she had him trapped. She jogged back up the path going into the Valley, the setting sun giving her eyes an encouraging sparkle. She stopped and looked at him over her shoulder. "Good luck, Uncle! Don’t give up until you know for certain that you have to! I’ll mind the store while you’re gone!"

          Milgazia watched her disappear, wondering how she had suckered him so deftly into what seemed to him an impossible endeavor. As much as he hated to admit it, she was right. What did he have to lose?

          All that he had to gain.

To hold you in my arms
To promise you my love
To tell you from the heart
You're all I’m thinking of

          Milgazia walked through the winding paths and ravines, keeping the Peak at his back. He was too busy taking stock of the events of the past few hours to consciously know where he was going. Not that it mattered, for he knew the Labyrinth like the inside of his own home. Still, it would take him at least a day of walking just to emerge outside the little farming village that was nestled in the forests like a mouse in its bower. As he walked, he thought, and as he thought and walked, he began to mutter to himself, finally stopping to sit on some boulders which were all that was left of an ancient rock slide. Talking to oneself helped, he had discovered, though he had learned early on to do that only when he was completely and utterly alone. No human dared venture into the Labyrinth, and the Valley Ryuzoku had no inclination of doing so, so he was perfectly safe in entering a monologue for an audience of zero.
         "You have not been thinking too clearly since you realized what it was that was bothering you, and who it was that haunted your thoughts." Milgazia sighed and leaned back against the stones to look up at the predawn sky. "Well, now that you have said it out loud...does it really matter? Does knowing how you feel change anything?" The stars were at their brightest at the moment, but they offered him no answers. "It doesn’t change a thing to know I miss her...that nothing would make me happier than to see Lina again. But then, so what if I see her?" the Dragon Elder clasped his hands behind his head and gazed up at the silent stars. Noting that a few of them were missing from the constellation of the Gray Wolf, he guessed that the moon, in its darkest phase, was covering them up.

          "What will I do when I see her? Surely I cannot simply walk up to her and say ‘I love you, Lina Inverse, and I have been since the day we first met’?" Milgazia’s eyebrows knit in disgust. "That sounds ridiculous even to me. After all..." he swung his feet onto the rock in front of him "...we barely know each other."

          A long silence followed as the Dragon Lord digested that realization. "What am I doing out here? My friend’s daughter just dragooned me into searching for a human maiden just because my thoughts day and night turn to her. Who haunts her thoughts? Who does she dream of every time she closes her eyes? Perhaps...she has someone already. Besides, I am far too old for her. I have seen more than a thousand years, while she has barely seen twenty. It isn’t right to impose on her that way, when she could have someone much more like her.
        "...but could there be really someone like Lina Inverse? No, there could not be. She is unique after all. There is no one like her." Milgazia said firmly. "Like I, she is alone...and perhaps that is why I love her so. We are both, in our own way, different from our own races and people. Her power sets her apart from the rest of the humans, and my very lineage alienates me from the Ryuzoku. Fear and respect, or both...keep us from creating close ties with others of our kind. We are both lonely because of who and what we are."
         Milgazia rose suddenly. "Memphis is right. I have to tell Lina what I feel for her and what she means to me. Perhaps her returning my love is as remote a possibility as Xelloss ever revealing a secret, but it is still a chance, and a risk, that I must take. I can never forgive myself if I do not make that gamble, nor will I be able to live with the uncertainty of it should I not make the effort. At the very least, she will know my heart, and I will know of hers." Determined, he took four long strides and rounded the bend. "Besides, Memphy will never let me rest." He laughed ruefully.

::short guitar solo::

          Milgazia felt something smack into, and bounce off him. He looked down and froze as his eyes met bright ruby ones.

          His heart skipped a beat. Only two people in all of the universe could have ruby eyes: Shaburanigdo, and Lina Inverse. He glimpsed bright red hair tumbling like flames about a small, pale face, and immediately his mind removed the first assumption.

          Lina stared at him, as though she could not believe her eyes. Milgazia dared not even breathe, afraid that she was a dream that would vanish if he so much as blinked. Briefly, he wondered if she had heard him talking to himself.

          "Milgazia...!" Lina flushed, and Milgazia realized that he had knocked her off her feet.

          He held out his hand. "I’m sorry, Lina...I did not see you there. Are you hurt?"

          "Huh? Oh, no, no, I’m fine, really! It takes a lot more that this to hurt me!" Lina took his hand and Milgazia pulled her back onto her feet, looking her over anyway. She smiled up at him as though to reassure him that she was indeed alright, but Milgazia knew that he could have bruised her, what with his Dragon’s strength and all. Then he realized that he was still holding her hand, clasped firmly in his own larger one. Lina followed his gaze and at the same time, they both looked up and their eyes met, cheeks stained with splashes of bright red.

I'm reaching for a love that seems so far

          Lina smiled shyly, her eyes lingering on how her fingers were swallowed up in his grasp. "Ah...Milgazia...?" she mumured, her eyes veiled by the curtain of her eyelashes.

          "Yes, Lina?" It took all of Milgazia’s will not to sink to his knees, as they threatened to give way beneath him. Her hand squeezed his and his breath caught in his throat.

          Lina ducked her head, as though to hide behind her shroud of spun-flame bangs. "I...heard you...talking. Earlier. Before. Before I bumped into you, ah I mean, you bumped into me...we bumped into each other, I mean."

          Lina peeked up at him, and Milgazia knew that she could see him pale, then flush, and then pale again in rapid succession. He needed to sit down badly, before his heart burst inside him and he lost his footing. It was Lina’s tiny, slim hand, the delicate fingers pressed tightly against his that kept him from collapsing. One thought echoed in the depths of his mind, shattering any attempt at coherence: She heard you talking!

          "I heard what you said. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I did. I won’t ask you if you mean it, because I know you did, and that everything I wasn’t supposed to hear is true." Lina’s voice grew stronger with each word she uttered, and she looked up at him again. "But I want to hear it from you, said to me. What you feel, tell me."
          Milgazia reeled, dizzy, unable to make any part of him respond. He blinked twice slowly, grasping at control. Here was the chance to admit to her the truth he had denied within for so very long, dropped into his lap like a godsend. Unable to take his gaze from hers, Milgazia managed to force a nod, and a deep breath before he could speak. "Yes...I spoke truly. I have been...thinking of you every moment that I have been awake, and many of the moments that I am not. You have haunted my dreams since the day you and I met, and I know only that I have wanted to see you once more. I love you, and I will love you for the rest of my life."

So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue to see you once again, my love
Over seas and coast to coast
To find a place I love the most
Where the fields are green to see you once again, my love

          Lina bowed her head, giggling, her shoulders shaking, until her laughter bubbled over and she clung to his hand for support. Milgazia twitched. This was not how he imagined how a woman would react to a confession of love. Lina must have realized that laughter was not the best reaction, because she coughed and smiled up at him. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry...I’m not laughing at you, really! It’s just that I find it really funny that you were coming out of the Valley to tell me this...when I was heading to Dragon’s Peak to tell you the exact same thing!"

          Milgazia’s eyes widened. "The...exact...same thing?"
      "What I mean is..." she stood up on tiptoe and pushed down on his hand to bring his face level to hers. "I love you too, Milgazia of the Gold Dragons." She kissed him lightly on the lips and wrapped her arms around his neck, smiling.
        Milgazia’s smile slowly spread across his face, and his eyes glowed with wonder. "You love me as well?"
        "Yeah. Want me to prove it?"
        Milgazia suddenly chuckled, realizing that there was a side to Lina none of them could possibly have imagined: a sensuously naughty one. "...And how do you propose to do that?" he asked mischievously.

          Lina grinned and kissed him again. "By kissing you until you believe it. Why?"
         "Well...I believe that there would be need of proof when we tell the world, ne?" Milgazia took her hand, smiling gently at her, elated and unable to believe his luck at finding a perfect complement to his own personality.
       "Well, I think it’s fated, or else we wouldn’t have met each other like this." Lina suddenly clenched her fist. "So nobody had better dispute it!"
         "I think that very few will." Milgazia said softly, bending to bestow a kiss of his own on her lips. It lasted quite a while, and when they parted, Lina’s breathing was quite shallow and fast. He drew her with him as he stepped backward, guiding her back toward the Valley. "Come, my...beloved." Her eyes lit up with the word and she wrapped an arm around his waist. The slightly evil grin curving his mouth made her blink in surprise however. "I have someone I want you to meet. Provided I get to introduce you before she kicks me out of my house again."

          "‘She?’" she looked up at Milgazia suspiciously. "Who is this person who kicked you out of your own house and why did she?"

          Milgazia laughed softly. "I will explain as we...meander back. I am in no hurry at all. Are you?" he kissed her again and felt her shake her head no. "That is good."

          Lina smiled. "Yeah. I like having you all to myself right now."

          "And I will be yours alone for the rest of eternity." He rubbed his nose into her hair, noting how she smelled of green woods and wildflowers. Milgazia liked whatever perfume she wore—if she used perfume at all.
       "‘Mine for the rest of eternity...’" Lina repeated, her lips curving into a very smug, relishing smirk. "I like the sound of that."
        "I thought you would."

        Memphis looked up, frowning. It had been almost a year since she’d driven her Milgazia-ojisama out of the Valley. She wondered how his search for Lina was going, though a nagging suspicion that her stubborn Ojisama had chickened out and simply camped out somewhere in the Kataart Mountains lingered. None of the other Ryuzoku had reported seeing any humans in the area, or having caught traces of Milgazia’s scent a week after he had left, so his being in the area was fairly remote.
         So why was she worrying now?

          Memphis pushed aside the book she had been reading and stood up, striding from her room and stopping abruptly at the sound of something scrabbling outside the ledge. Getting a really bad feeling, Memphis grabbed the broom leaning against the wall and dashed out.
        She skidded to a stop, her mouth sagging open in disbelief. Milgazia was crouched on the ledge, looking over his shoulder at her. He grinned and waved, doing a frightening impression of Xelloss at his most cheerful. "Hell-o, Memphy! I’m home!"

          Memphis growled and swung the broom at him. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, UNCLE?! YOU SHOULD BE OUT THERE LOOKING FOR LINA INVERSE!!!"
        Milgazia ducked, an amazing feat for someone who was crouched to begin with. "I don’t think so, Memphy." He blocked another blow.
         "And why not?!" Memphis shrilled.
          Milgazia’s answering grin was simply too smug as he hauled Lina up with one hand, standing at the same time, onto the ledge to stand next to him. Lina was visibly pregnant, possibly four or five months along.

          Lina stepped forward, her hands on her hips. "And why are you hitting my mate with that broom? That’s my privilege!"

          Memphis dropped the broom gaping in amazement. She looked at Lina, then at Milgazia, then at Lina’s slightly swelling midsection. Totally robbed of speech and thought, Memphy sank down to sit on her ledge.

          Lina blinked at Memphis and looked at Milgazia. "You sure she’s your niece?"

          And Milgazia started to laugh. "Yes, she is, my wife."
         Memphis stared at him. "‘Wife?’"

          Lina looked up at Milgazia rather plaintively. "I really need to sit down, Mil...oh!" She blinked and placed her hand on her belly. "Kicking again."

          Memphis’ eyes took up 90% of her face. "...Baby?"
         Milgazia bent and swept Lina up into his arms, carrying the tinier sorceress. "Yes, baby. Ba-by, Memphis. Mine." He said with his most deadpan expression. It looked decidedly out of place, as he was also mimicking Memphis’ stupefied tone of voice.
       Memphis shook her head to clear it, then jumped up. "But-but...How did you—?! When did you—?! Where did you—?! When did she—?! Milgazia-ojisama!!!" she waved her hands around, babbling frantically.

          Milgazia grinned, enjoying every minute of it. Lina tugged on his hair. "Mil...?"
      "Of course, dear. Come along, Memphy...I’ll explain inside..." Milgazia snickered, stepping into his home, his lifemate in his arms.

        Memphis turned to see a veritable flight of Gold and Black Dragons peering curiously at her, their questioning expressions saying what didn’t need to be said.

          The elven maid grinned, held up two fingers in victory and scampered inside after her uncle and aunt.

~ The End...or would that be The Beginning?~

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