Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 13 of 16

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Erik stared down at the ivory keys beneath his fingers in surprise, almost as though he had forgotten they were there. The captivating tones of his music echoed away in the vastness of the ballroom, the fog in his mind clearing with it. Christine’s assertive voice seemed to cut clean through the clouds, like a startling wind.

“I would like to stop for the day.” Her mouth was set, her eyes wide and innocent. One hand rested near her abdomen, as it usually did recently, while the other reached out and touched his shoulder. It was the barest of caresses, but in his senses’ weakened state he was nearly overcome by it.

“Are you alright?” He twisted his torso around and gave a betraying glance to her middle.

“Yes,” she replied, with a fond smile at his concern. “I only wonder…”

He moved over as she settled down beside him, now immensely curious. They had never paused in a lesson, much less stopped one all together. Her eyes shined, with what he was not certain, as she looked up at him.

“I only wonder if perhaps we should not be having these lessons.”

His brow furrowed. “If you would rather we waited until after the child—”

“No, that isn’t what I meant,” she interrupted, gazing down at her hands, twisting in her lap. “Why do I continue to train my voice, Erik? We are no longer in an opera; I am no longer a diva. What makes us so sure that I will need my voice, when this is all over and done with?”

Erik inhaled sharply, his hand hovering just above the keys. He had never thought that he would hear Christine sing again, the night beneath the opera, four years earlier. He had been overjoyed, ecstatic to teach her again, to take command of the voice he could now finally perfect. To suggest that they live a life without their music—without the very core of the mutual pursuit that had first brought them together?

“It seems so pointless,” she murmured, the assertive tone suddenly gone. “I will never perform again, Erik—we have to face that. We can’t spend all our time chasing an nonexistent future.”

He watched her face as she spoke, and the moisture in her eyes provoked an unsettling revelation—she had loved the music with him.

You are not alone…

It had not been his madness; it had been their madness.

“Christine,” he said softly, taking her hand, his thumb grazing over her delicate fingers. “Christine.”

She seemed almost comforted by his gentle tones, and she leaned into him, sighing gustily.

“There is still a chance, beloved. No mere man could hide your gift.” His other arm wrapped around her front, pulling her to him. The intoxicating scent of her hair reminded him for the thousandth time that day how much he loved her.

“But I feel as though we are hiding in the past,” she whispered against his chest. “I feel as though we will be drawn into a false sense of security, and the music will blind us from the present, and whatever is after us will strike while we linger in a deceiving oasis—” The growing ardency of her words frightened him more than he was willing to admit. “—And then all we’ve fought for will be taken away!”

“If the music frightens you that much, we will stop,” Erik told her, closing his eyes momentarily. “I will not let you be taken away from me.” He brought her hand to his lips, sealing the noble gesture. If he had to make a choice between the music and Christine—well, he had already made it.

“Oh, but it isn’t the music,” she said earnestly. “It’s where the music leads us; where this music leads us. We haven’t moved on, Erik.” She watched him intently. “If you could change it, if you could take the music and bring it here, to us, instead of taking us to it—Erik, you must.”

“Christine, I cannot change my music,” he muttered hoarsely, averting his eyes. “I can only do what my own self tells me, and it speaks the same as it ever did. This,” he gestured to the piece resting on the music stand, “is the one thing you cannot reach, nor redeem. It is my life, and you merely wishing it away cannot change my past. You have my present, and my future, but nothing short of diving intervention can change whatever I might have done before now.”

She stared at him for the briefest of moments, in such an unrestrained way that Erik had to reach up and readjust his mask to reassure himself. At this, she turned grave. “I love you, Erik.” She drew his head down. “And all this time I believed it was our past haunting me.”

“I’m sorry?”

She smiled at him. “Oh, Erik, can you not hear yourself? You have moved on. It wasn’t our past at all—it was mine.”

* * *

Christine felt a tingling swell of paternal joy as she observed Seth in his new sailor suit. The boy admired it openly, examining himself from every angle in a mirror twice his size. His jetty black curls peaked out from under the white cap provided, the perfect contrast to the pale colours of the uniform, making his dark eyes—Christine could never seem to tell whether they were brown or grey—appear even more prominent among his already prominent features.

“I think your mama will like it very much,” she commented, rising to her feet and stepping up behind him. They were in the parlour, one of the lighter, more cheerful rooms in the manor. The morning sun, spreading through the high windows, brightened the robin’s egg blue of the walls. Through said windows one could see the glorious marble fountain, its elegant figures reaching up towards the, for once, clear sky.

“Mama does not much care for fashion,” Seth remarked, but he returned the smile Christine had offered with a toothy grin. “Thank you very much, Aunt Christine.”

She squeezed his shoulders as he employed the term she had invited him to use. It seemed ridiculously formal to keep referring to her as Madame, and too informal to simply call her by her first name. All the more, it seemed to amuse Erik a great deal. Christine suspected it had something to do with Edith.

The woman in question appeared in the doorway, and announced that M. de la Rue was waiting for them with the carriage.

“Must I go?” Seth asked despondently, turning his wide unambiguous eyes on Christine’s already thwarted countenance.

“I will visit you whenever I can, my dear boy. You must remember what M. de la Rue told you—it is not safe for you to come here nowadays. I promise you that you will come back, but

Your mama needs you more than I do right now.”

The reference to his mother seemed to persuade him, though he was still unusually solemn as they stepped outside into the cool spring air. Christine could understand that Seth preferred Erik’s high standard of living to the shelter he was accustomed to, but it was decidedly strange that he seemed almost afraid to rejoin his only family. He had been away for nearly two months now, and barely seemed to miss the woman who had raised him. In fact, he had seemed so happy without her that it had taken Christine nearly a week to summon the courage that she needed to tell him he had to leave. Erik had reassured her that it was the boy’s best interest, what with the danger approaching them.

Brimming with curiosity, she took the boy’s limp hand and led him across the plaza. Feeling an irrational twinge of jealousy as Erik lifted the boy onto the driver’s seat beside him, she helped herself into the coach and smoothed her skirts distractedly.

She was wearing a walking gown of pale rose silk, setting off her dark hair and eyes—but she felt almost naked. Erik had insisted, and she had not argued, that she should not wear corsets or even waists, until the child was born. The pregnancy would not be visible for another month at least, if her calculations were correct, but she had no problem with taking precautions.

There is no harm in protecting oneself from that which does not exist, she had once heard said, and, in this instance, she wholeheartedly agreed.

“How are you?” Erik asked, leaning inside. The question had all but become routine since she had first told him she was pregnant, though the genuine concern in his tone still affected her. She sucked in a breath of surprise, her cloud of thought vanishing. Silent for a moment, she admired his blazing sapphirine eyes, their scattered flecks of gold glittering as he watched her.

“Jealous,” she finally replied, in jest. “Seth has the pleasure of your company for a full hour and a half, while I sit here and contemplate the weather.”

It was rare for Erik to smile outright, but there was always something among his features that betrayed his amusement. In this case, his eyebrows raised and the gold flecks shone brighter than ever. “I had never thought you to be a jealous woman,” he said teasingly.

Christine leaned forward, smirking uncharacteristically. “Then I daresay you know very little pertaining to all women, monsieur.” Her mocking disposition quickly melted as Erik gently seized a stray curl and wound it around his finger.

“All the more unfortunate your case, then, madame.” With the catlike quickness he possessed, the curl was released and he disappeared to the driver’s seat.

Christine leaned back and groaned.

* * *

The slums of Plymouth would have goaded pity even from the coldest of hearts. Christine was not cold-hearted. A miserable lump of sympathy and rage rose in her throat, dampening her eyes, as the carriage rattled along the grimy streets.

Though no town could compare to Breast in level of greasiness, the occupants of the dismal back streets of Plymouth related Christine to the place in a way no sailor could ever do. Children, faces covered in filth, limbs awkward and bony from lack of nourishment, played in the streets. Their bare feet, black with dirt and blue with cold, padded along as though they could not feel the hard ground beneath them.

As the pristine carriage passed through their clusters, they stopped their shrieking games and turned with wide eyes to admire the alien luxury. One, a little girl with her scraggly hair bunched up inside a shabby bonnet, reached up for the window that Christine looked out of.

Christine eyed the approaching hand with a strange enthrallment, until she heard the sound of the horses’ whip, and the pair of greys sped up, leaving the hand far behind.

As they passed through, Christine’s concentration moved from the children to the people who were supposed to be caring for them. Women, aprons stained and doughy flesh bulging, lingered around doorless frames that opened onto the street. They twittered like excited birds, some even knitting grey lumps of tangled wool. As the carriage went by, the twitters sunk to low chirps of curiosity and contempt. Unsettled, Christine pulled the curtain shut until they had gone a ways.

The sad, defeated houses seemed to lean in towards them, as the bright sky overhead was steadily discoloured by smoke spewing from crooked chimneys. But the rays of the sun still burst through, strong as ever, and it was their harsh white light that cast the deadening truth on the people’s wretched existence. No alley’s shadow was left unexplored, no wrinkle on a face was left concealed, and every gross detail was thrown into focus with cruel accuracy.

Seth’s home, Christine thought, painfully aware of the good fortune she had possessed, and scarcely deserved, throughout her life. His home that he so unhappily anticipates returning to…


Christine thrust her head out the window as Seth jumped from his seat, scrambling off his knees and tearing over the cobblestones. She watched in something akin to horror as the boy bounded up a set of stairs towards the largest building on the street. The overall design of the structure suggested a library, but somehow Christine did not think a domicile of education would last long in such a place.

Erik brought the horses to a stop in front of the steps, but Christine did not wait for him to open her door. She stumbled out just as Seth took hold of a figure just about to descend. At first glance, the hold looked like a loving embrace, but then the form swayed and Christine realized the woman was about to collapse.

Damn.” Christine started, not having been aware that Erik had come up behind her. He quickly followed the boy, Christine coming more slowly and cursing her heels. When she finally reached them, the woman was fully reclining on the stone steps, apparently unconscious. Christine could see very little resemblance between Seth and his mother; the woman had flaxen hair in comparison to Seth’s black, her face was heart-shaped and her features weak where Seth was all prominence and angles.

Then her eyes fluttered open, and Christine recognized the same indistinct shade, a mixture of brown, green, and grey. “Seth?” She murmured, her voice hoarse. “What happened? Where am I?”

“You fainted,” Erik replied curtly. “You are on the steps of the shelter, for, as any sensible person would realize, that is as far as one as sick as yourself would be able to walk without assistance. And, if my suspicions are correct, you have been going out every day since your son has not been here to take care of you. In result, your condition has only worsened.”

The woman, who had been initially frightened by Erik’s looming figure, now bristled with indignation. “How dare you speak to me in—” She started, but cut off with a screech as Erik lifted her and carried her inside. “You fiend, you—you ruffian—common thug! Release me at once!”

Christine took Seth’s hand and followed apprehensively, mind buzzing. His mother’s accent was educated—even Christine could tell the proper English language from the crude slang they used here—and yet she lived in a shelter. Had Seth not always lived on the streets? Who was his father?

Christine absently observed the back of Erik’s head, her thoughts blocking out the protesting shrieks of his luggage. Suddenly, a hideous cold washed over her, and Seth tugged at his hand as she inadvertently tightened her grip.

Who was the father, indeed?

You wouldn’t lie to me, would you, Erik?

She had never had reason to doubt Erik’s story about how he came across Seth—but now that she mulled over it, was it really so believable? Taking in a boy, simply because he knows how to disguise himself?

Teaching a young girl to sing, simply because she believes in an angel?

But that was different.

Was it?

Yes. No. But—!

There is no reason to doubt him.

And yet…

And yet…

The shelter was old, musty with age, and reminded Christine of a hospital. Volunteer nurses seemed to glide through the halls, their feet making only the lightest of shuffling sounds as they moved from patient to patient, charity case to charity case. Erik seemed to know exactly where he was going, turning left, and then right, then left again. Seth shoved open one of the many doors lining the hallway, and they all filed in. Erik dropped the woman unceremoniously one of the small cots in the correspondingly small room. There was one other cot, Seth’s, presumably, and a small bureau. A desk with two chairs and a bedside table were the only other pieces of furniture in the bare room. Two large windows, only one with curtains, let in the morning sun’s acute brilliance.

Christine struggled to control the pity swimming just beneath her countenance, releasing Seth’s hand and giving him a pat on the head before he went to his mother’s side. The woman had quickly propped herself up into a sitting position, straightening out her plain skirts and glaring at Erik.

“Mama, you are not supposed to go outside—” Seth exclaimed in shrill tones, brow furrowed.

“Hush,” she ordered, her voice now sharp and decisive. “I am perfectly able to go for a short walk by myself.”

Short being a bit of an understatement,” Erik added acerbically. She refuelled her glare.

“Thank you for returning my son to me, once again, sir. You may leave.”

“But Mama—!”

“Seth, please.”

“Mama, I must introduce you to my Aunt Christine!”

Christine flushed painfully as Seth enthusiastically pulled her closer, transferring the attentions of his bitter mother to her. The woman’s face constricted, and Christine was struck with the fact that this person was not much older than her.

“You have no aunts,” she told her son quietly.

“Now I do!” Seth seemed oblivious to the cold seriousness of the room, his smile spreading from ear to ear.

“My apologies, ma’am. It was only to give him something to call me,” Christine said meekly, holding out her gloved hand. “We have not been introduced. Christine—” she paused, her eyes flickering surreptitiously towards Erik. “—de la Rue.”

“Laura Davies,” Laura replied, giving Christine a surprised look as she briefly clasped Christine’s silk-covered fingers with her bare ones. Christine assumed it was the last name that startled her. “Your husband has never brought you before,” Laura remarked coldly.

“We are only just engaged,” Erik cut in, his tone just as cold.

“Indeed? You are fortunate, ma’am.” Her mouth twisted in a smile. “Your master is kind enough to marry his whores after they beget a child.”

Christine couldn’t say how the horrid creature had known, but her face was enflamed with embarrassment and rage. Erik snarled, his form going rigid.

“Do not speak to my fiancé of whoredom, madam, when it is your own self that is so well-versed in the area.”

“How dare you insult me so,” Laura hissed. “You who know nothing of misfortune in your sprawling manner and with your penitent servants!”

At least I can afford to care for your son.”

It was a vindictive blow, and the woman recoiled. But as she opened her mouth, preparing her next retaliation, a soft, quivering voice cut through the blazing anger that heated the room.

“Out,” Seth commanded. “Get out of my home.” His diminutive form, barely reaching Erik’s middle, was shaking with indignation and fury. Hate had altered his face beyond recognition, when it had once been wreathed in the kindest smiles.

Christine reached for Erik’s hand, and clutched it tightly, but the man took no notice. He was staring down at his pupil, his expression blank. Even she could not read what was beyond its hard exterior.

Then, without even a blink, he turned on his heel and left the room. She rushed after him.

* * *

The ride home was made in silence, despite that Erik had let Christine sit up beside him. But for once, the quiet was a comfort, when no words could do justice to their emotions. Christine rested her head on Erik’s shoulder, one hand around his arm, and the other positioned over her abdomen. As the countryside passed by, she could not recall ever experiencing such a sense of deep remorseful tranquility. She felt as though the entire world was at war around her, but she was safe exactly here, if she would only stay perfectly still.

Erik would move his gaze from the road to her, his eyes narrowed in contemplation and his lips set in a frown.

By the time they reached the house, it was early afternoon, and the sky had lazy clouds drifting over and around the sun. It was cool and shaded one moment, warm and bright the next.

Weary and hollow-eyed, the two companions trudged blindly inside.

“You mustn’t think it was your fault,” Christine said, as they stood there uselessly.

“Wasn’t it?” Erik asked, his posture radiating the intensity he no longer cared to voice.

“Both of you said…things. But she was the one who spoke first. Seth chose a side. He loves his mother, as horrid as she is.” Christine stepped forward and buried her face in Erik’s shirt. “I think he loved us too—only a little bit less.” She clamped her lips shut and closed her eyes as she felt tears swell up behind their lids.

“Will our child hate us so, Christine?” He folded his arms around her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

“Never,” she replied fiercely, tilting her head up invitingly. “Our child will love us, and protect us as fervently as Seth did his mother.”

Erik accepted the invitation.

* * *

“What do you mean, he is gone?”

Raoul jumped up from his chair, the coffee he had been about to drink falling from his flaccid grip and spreading across the carpet.

“M. Deniau is not in his quarters—no one has seen him since last night, monsieur.” The footman shifted his weight from left to right nervously.

“Last night? How—who—where in hell has he gone?” Raoul demanded, a numbing fear slipping over his senses.

“No one knows, monsieur.”

Then find out!

“Yes, monsieur!” The young man vanished through the door, and Raoul collapsed back into his seat.

Think, man, think! The Comte tried desperately to focus his thoughts, but an image of Christine, running from some unknown foe, kept floating to the surface of his mind.

Deniau has left—either Bonheur has given up, or is about to strike.

There was no way to get a warning to England fast enough, not if Deniau had been gone the whole night. Christine and Erik would be on their guards, of course, but a cautious mind-set was nothing against a madman.

But, on the other hand, Erik had been exactly that for nearly all his life.

How is it that you are always offending men of the same ilk, Chagny? Scheming, ingenious, utterly insane…?

Trust in Christine’s protector. He will take care of her.

Of course—the infamous Phantom, Christine’s ever-loving angel and saviour, would rescue her from all evil, even when the evil was the Angel himself.

“Take her—forget me, forget all of this…”

Forget, indeed! Raoul’s mind cried bitterly, as his dark thoughts fed the jealousy festering in the pit of his stomach. Everything she had done was exactly contradicting the man’s heartbroken command. The way Christine had glowed with health after barely a week of his company; the way she had reached for Erik when she was told she had to flee the country; the way she was so quick to forgive him for manhandling her; the way she caressed his future child, still growing in her womb…

He knew—he knew!—there would be no other love for him. Christine’s face was enshrined on his heart, the only woman who could ever understand what he had been through, for she had shared it all…

…all but the ugliness of losing her.

No, in that field she had come out the winner. Raoul’s direst wish was that he could even begin to fathom the connection Christine felt with her Erik, that Raoul could begin to know what they had shared that could possibly make their bonds stronger than hers and Raoul’s.

But, no! How could Erik be her saviour, when it was Raoul who had come to her in her darkest hour, when she had been most in need of comfort, and it had been Raoul who had promised to guard her always! Erik had demanded her presence, where Raoul had pleaded for his own.

And yet…

And yet she found her last resting place, so to speak, in this murderer and deceiver of the highest degree.

So which was it? The eyes of love are blind, or the eyes of love see the good in a thing others believe entirely evil?

Christine must be blind to Erik’s faults, but still she had accepted and forgiven them.

Erik had been blinded by the hate he had received without respite, and been driven mad by it.

The mob that had ravaged the Phantom’s home in the catacombs, the entirety of persons Erik had encountered throughout his life, had been blinded by outward appearances, blinded by the brainwashing cruelty of common beliefs and immoral viewpoints.

Nicolas Bonheur was blinded by rage for his father, so that he could not see past his own desires and take in the good in the world around him.

And now Raoul was blinded, by jealousy and hurt, but most of all love for the one woman he had had and now could never have—

—For Christine was the only one that had not succumbed to the weaknesses of deficient mortals, the vanity of the world, and the incessant blinding of humanity. She had seen past wickedness and found holiness—a feat unequalled to this day.

Raoul dropped his head in his hands, and wept for the untouchable beauty of her. And yet, now that he understood, he knew he could move past the love, to respect and understanding, as she had moved on with a man who could understand her, respect her, and love her more than Raoul could ever have.

Erik had known in a moment all of what had taken Raoul five years to discover, known it from the second the masked, tormented creature had laid eyes on the tiny corps girl praying for her father and heard her sweet voice.

Christine had sought Erik out because within him she found an awareness of herself that she had never before known, an identity, when she had been lost. Raoul had not comforted her after her father’s death, that had been Erik, and Raoul had left her for whiskey when Erik had been drying her tears for her dead child that she had never allowed herself to shed.


Such a gentle, delicate woman, influencing so many with a mere look or gesture.

A saint.

Where was Deniau?

* * *

This time, they were both awake, lying together in the darkness. Christine propped herself up on her elbow, her dark tresses tumbling down over Erik’s face—unmasked face—as they spoke of things rarely worded, reassuring each other of everything they did not always bother to say.

“What shall we name him?” Christine asked dreamily, her fingers running lightly over Erik’s chest. He grabbed her hand as it hovered above his heart, and brought each finger to his lips.

“Her,” he corrected absently, and Christine smiled. “And I had not thought of a name…”

“Antoinette,” she murmured, “Or Robert, perhaps…”

“Such common names,” Erik scorned, chuckling at her offended look. “And it is a girl. Isabel,” he said decidedly. “Maybe Nadine.”

‘Nadine’, Christine mouthed, nodding slowly. Then, timidly, she asked, “If it is a boy, will you be disappointed?”

“If it is human, I will be ecstatic, my dear.”

With a sigh of contentment, she leant down and kissed him, at first only a grazing of his lips, but then he brought his arms down around the small of her back and she was pressed against him.

Flipping her onto her back, Erik’s lips made their way from her jaw line, down her neck and between her breasts, until he reached her middle and covered it with kisses. She laughed, though her skin was heated with lust, and let her hands travel across his broad shoulders and her nails dig into his arms as his mouth traveled lower.

They heard the sound at exactly the same time, both of them stiffening as they whispered each other’s names in warning. Again it came, the crash of a shattering windowpane, somewhere in the room below them, this time accompanied by a female’s shriek.

“Edith!” Christine cried.

With a string of curses, Erik flung the blanket off, grabbing his breeches as he stumbled towards the door.

Christine sat bolt upright in the bed, watching him in dreadful fascination. Then, suddenly, the spell was broken and she untangled herself from the sheets, and ran after him. “Erik, wait,” she pleaded.

He turned to her, his body practically screaming in wanton as she rushed towards him, naked, her eyes fraught with worry. He caught her around the waist and gave her a bruising embrace. “Stay here,” he ordered. “Wait for me.” When she hesitated, he continued with growing ardour, “Promise me you’ll stay here, no matter what you hear!”

“I promise,” she choked out.

A kiss that was all tooth and blood, and he left her there, slamming the door behind him.

* * *

The house was pitch black, save the weak light of the moon. Erik moved on instinct, his eyes refusing to adjust to the dark. The room just below them—one of the many sitting rooms, nothing singularly impressive or meaningful about it—was one of the few rooms with a connection to the servants’ quarters. It was unlikely that the scream had been Edith’s—she had her own room, and it could have been any number of the maids his aunt had hired.

But Edith was there when he entered the room, her candle shaking as she tried to steady her hands, examining the scattered glass and broken window. Her eyes were wide, and the lines of age on her face seemed deeper than ever in the shadows of the flame she held.

“Edith, what’s happened—the scream—” Erik panted, trying to quell the nausea in his stomach.

“One of the maids was just returning, and someone threw a rock—” She held up a grey, indefinable shape in her palm, “—through the window as she was crossing the room. I’ve sent her to bed.”

“A rock…?” Erik asked weakly.

“A rock,” his aunt confirmed grimly, but there was something else…

“Why would someone come all this way, just to vandalise one window?” Erik demanded, as though the old woman might know the answer.

“I don’t know,” she replied, her voice quivering.

A broken window in the middle of the night…a rock…disturbing his and Christine’s—moment…he had come all the way downstairs for a broken window.

His stomach churned, his head pounded, his throat tightened…something wasn’t right.

All the way downstairs, for a window.

All the way downstairs.

Christine, upstairs, was trembling with fear and the curse of not knowing.

All the way downstairs.

Christine, upstairs.

Downstairs, upstairs.

All this way—for a window?



The echo of his bare feet slapping against marble seemed to taunt him as he sprinted back the way he had come, his ears roaring. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead as he gasped in sharply for breath that would not come.

Black spots appeared in front of his eyes, but still he did not slow, as terror flooded his veins and unknown fingers, covered in freezing slime, ran over his flesh.

Another female’s scream, from upstairs—and there was only one person upstairs.

And not a blank scream, not one of paralysed terror—“Erik!” The voice screeched, reverberating in his head, his chest, his heart…

His throat was like sandpaper as he reached the door, closed, as he had left it.

“Promise me you’ll stay here…!”

Wood splintered and crackled as he kicked it open, not bothering with the door handle.

The room was perfectly silent and undisturbed, save for the balcony doors, forced wide open. Their curtains fluttered lightly in the breeze, and his compositions from the last month, resting on the piano, cut through the air and skidded along the floor.

There was no one there.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 13 of 16

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