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 Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]

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Lilliana Atkinson
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PostSubject: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Sun May 07, 2017 2:52 pm

They'd been together for a few months now, the engagement having not come as a surprise for her; she'd seen it coming, really. Call it woman's intuition, call it her skills at observation, call it wishful thinking -- whatever it had been, Lilliana had known it would happen. There was just one tiny little problem that she wasn't quite sure how to tackle.

Christopher Richardson had fallen for the dumb blonde persona, and she hadn't had a chance to tell him otherwise.

She knew he wouldn't take in badly; he'd still want her, still appreciate her, and still be (first and foremost) her friend. However, she also knew she would have to admit to him she'd been lying for all that time, and that was always nerve-wracking; she hid behind her mask for a reason. There was no doubt he would be surprised, and possibly even shocked, but other than that she wasn't sure. Would he be angry? Would he be amused that she'd fooled him so well? That was the part she was concerned about.

But more than that, Lilliana was stuck on how to tell him. Surely she couldn't just go up to him and say, "By the way, Chris, I'm actually really smart. I've just been lying to you this whole time." No, that wasn't proper or right.

Sitting in one of the private study rooms that she and Chris had booked for that day, Lilliana had open a book she was no longer reading. Today was the day she would tell him. That much she was certain; the charade had gone on long enough, much longer than she'd intended, and besides, they were engaged now. She'd meant to tell him their first date, and then she pushed that to the second, and then the third... Before she knew it, the days turned into weeks into months.

If she didn't do it now, she knew she might lose her courage to tell him altogether, and the last thing she wanted was to pretend to be an idiot for the rest of her life. She'd written -- and thrown away; well, burnt, really -- a letter. That had been too impersonal. The ashes now sat in the fireplace in the room, leaving her with, once again, nothing as her brain churned, trying to figure it out.

The door creaked open, and she glanced up to offer a smile at Christopher, returning his greeting with one of her own, and then watched as he moved to a seat and got out his things. They usually did their separate homework together, with Chris 'helping' her. She opened her mouth, then closed it, not finding the courage to speak the words she wanted to.

She took a deep breath and tried again. "I-" She cut herself off. I have something to tell you, was a start, but how would she continue? No. There was only one way to do this, and as it hit her she hid an internal wince; this was possibly the Worst Idea she'd ever had. But it was the only one, and so, thinking back to what she'd read a few days ago, she looked Christopher dead in the eyes.

"I was wondering," she asked, losing her usual tone of air-headedness (if that was such a thing) and instead using one she'd never used around him before -- her normal one. "About the carbon footprint of magic. Do magical fires produce any levels of carbon dioxide, or do they not follow the typical laws of chemistry? On one hand, muggles produce fire using oil, gas, or coal. Fire we create erupts from the tip of our wands; if we are not burning anything, what causes the fire?"

Tilting her head a little to the side, she watched him closely for his reaction to her words, eyes glinting in both amusement and worry.
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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Mon May 08, 2017 1:37 pm

University had been a ball for Christopher. From joining all the sports clubs he could dream of, to attending parties he'd never have experienced in the Pureblood world. His eyes had been opened to a copious amount of weird and wonderful things. The lectures hadn't been so bad once he'd decided to actually throw himself in to his studies too, and Christopher was achieving high marks in all he did.

It had taken him much too long to settle down in to uni life, though, something that had irked him entirely.

But something that had changed the most dramatically was his view on one Lilliana Atkinson. Lilliana had been a prude when he'd first met her, and something of a killjoy. He hadn't been particularly fond of the witch upon first impression because she had that "stupid" vibe around her.

However, the "stupid" vibe was something Christopher couldn't work out. She was at university. Completing a degree in Healing which was an advanced course and certainly didn't befit the personality she portrayed. They'd been paired time and again for coursework and time and again they'd scored highly.

It didn't, therefore make sense.

But even though it didn't make sense, Christopher had grown fond of the witch - he wouldn't say he loved her. Definitely not yet, but they had a dynamic that seemed to work, and... well, after consulting Serafina on the situation (which had taken some doing to go to his eldest sister for relationship advice) he'd put the proposition, via his parents to the Atkinson's.

They'd courted for a couple of months to get more used to the changed dynamic, and Christopher had pulled himself away from the side of his social life he knew would not be taken well by Lilliana if she were to find out. That period had worked, and thus, they had become engaged.

It was business, really. But business that wasn't too difficult to swallow. After all, Lilliana was compliant to him, worked well with him, and, if nothing else, she was at least one of the most beautiful Pureblood witches available.

Today they were meeting to study, and Christopher had the "surprise" of dinner for afterwards. Trying to make it look like he was really throwing himself in to this, even if he still worried over Lilliana's intelligence not weighing up.

"Hey," Christopher replied casually to his fiance as he entered the room, moving to her side and pressing a light kiss to her cheek in greeting. He, personally, played the kissing game to a low, whilst they were betrothed, he knew many young witches were terrified of doing something untoward before they were married - something Christopher thought to be more than stupid. As if it mattered if you were engaged?

Moving round to his seat, Christopher unpacked his bag and readied himself to begin. But at the sound of Lilliana tripping over her own words he paused, looking up across the table to see what the problem was.

The question, though, a deep question, threw Christopher completely and he could do little more than look at her blankly. It was not the question that had baffled him, though, it was Lilliana herself. The change of tone. The way she'd asked a question in that manner, that depth... it didn't suit her. It was weird. And Christopher wasn't at all sure how he was going to deal with this.

Blinking once, twice, three times, the man sat up a little straighter, playing his pen down and looking at Lilliana with a rather confused expression. What? That was what he wanted to say, but that was uncharacteristically rude. So he simply waited a moment more, before leaning forward, looking her dead in the eye.

"I'm sorry, can you say that again?" He said softly. Though, both the confusion and uncertainty was clear. Christopher was buying himself time, he'd heard perfectly well the first time.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Mon May 08, 2017 3:09 pm

She tilted her cheek towards him, allowing him to kiss her, taking in the way he did so. As always, it was light and spoke of not wanting to cross boundaries -- as if she cared. She wanted to do things properly, of course, but that was more for public view than anything. So long as it was kept private -- and well at that, not like her parents had tried to keep their affairs (and she meant that in both aspects of the word) a secret -- she did not mind going further. But, as with almost everything else, Christopher had bought her innocent act.

It took all her willpower and then some to keep from laughing at the expression he gave her. It was almost worth it, pretending to be dumb for so long. If only she could record this, play this over and over to laugh at each time. There was no better way this could've gone, and already she found herself fighting a smirk -- and the fun hadn't even begun yet!

He blinked -- thrice, she counted; he really was speechless, wasn't he? -- and then hesitated for a few more seconds before he spoke. His uncertainty was showing, evidently, and all his control had apparently gone out the window. For all the training Pureblood males received, she'd found their education lacking in one, simple manner: how to hide contempt, disgust, or uncertainty when faced with the unexpected.

For her and all the other Pureblood females she'd talked to, it was one of their first training. If and when a male said something they disliked, disagreed with, or was downright inappropriate and rude, they were to smile, say something nice, and not react negatively. Males, however, were taught that they could say whatever and received positive reactions from females (well, perhaps not whatever but as close as it got to that). So to say she had an upper hand in this situation, therefore, was not an understatement.

He could say whatever he wanted in that moment and she would remain unphased; on the other hand, she could tell him anything and everything she wanted to and he'd probably be even more shellshocked than he was now. Having said that, she was sure that in a short while, he'd manage to pull himself together -- Christopher was no idiot; she'd learnt that much -- and all that would remain were her memories of the moment he found out he'd severely and utterly underestimated her.

Lilliana took in his words and knew at once they were not what they meant. The look on his face had given himself away. She began an automatic mental picking apart of his statement before realising that she no longer had to do that, and instead flashed him a smile -- making it airy and dumb just for the sake of added confusion.

"I'd rather not," she said, and her tone was once again knowing, although this time it held a slight amusement. "It's perfectly obvious you heard me the first time. Why make myself repeat words you know I've said? If you want me to prove I can recall them, I could quote them back to you, although I'm uncertain if you could recall them verbatim."

She paused, but only to take a breath. "If it's because you don't understand, I could define a carbon footprint as the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels. Or, I could define carbon dioxide as a colourless gas with a density roughly sixty percent higher than air that consists of one carbon atom double bonded to two oxygen atoms."

Chemistry. An interesting topic and one a halfblood friend had introduced her to when she found them studying for both Charms and a muggle subject. She'd taken to it and he'd practised his chemistry by teaching it to her.

"However," Lilliana concluded, "I presume that you have merely asked for a reiteration in order that you may gather your thoughts and create a suitable reply to my previous statement -- for which you would have none, since I have thus since presented you with new information you are struggling to internalise. Alas, I believe I have given you sufficient time -- more than you would have received had I simply done as you requested -- and the ball, as they say, is in your court."

She'd spoken slowly, articulately, the entire time, not rushing her words even in the excitement and churning of her mind. As always, her speech was poised and neat, each word pronounced as a whole, the sentences having a proper indication of start and end. She may have a hundred thoughts but she knew how to present them as well, and it was only now that Lilliana relaxed a little, leaning back into the couch, and waited for Christopher to try and say something.
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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Tue May 09, 2017 1:31 pm

Christopher's expression hardened as Lilliana insisted that she would not repeat what she'd said only a few moments before. Her compliance had faded in mere moments and Christopher... Christopher was not sure how he liked that tone.

Her tone was not one he, in a Pureblood mindset, expected from his future wife. Compliance... was key, he'd been told. And yet, Christopher was not the kind of person who appreciated being agreed with time and again. In himself. Behind closed doors, Christopher wanted a challenge.

And yet, here they were.

Lilliana defining carbon dioxide was and speaking to him as if he did not know what these things were. Christopher was silent, eyes calculating and lips pressed together. To say that he was not amused with her actions would be an understatement. The amusement on her lips was not helping the Potioneer take this well.

Only when she finally finished - putting the ball in his court at she said - Christopher simply remained looking at the witch. Uncertainty still flickered in his features as he looked at her, and he didn't begin to speak until he thought he was right in what he wanted to say.

Finally, Christopher sat back and looked at the witch with mild amusement. "So... what is it. A wit sharpening potion? A well rehearsed dialogue written by a friend? You swallowed an encyclopedia?" He asked, and though his features suggested amusement, his tone was hard. It said that the messing with him was over, and that he wasn't going to play.

Christopher, it seemed, was not happy with this change of events. He was not simply going to laugh it off, but mostly... mostly because he could recall Serafina's letter from when he'd first met Lilliana.

Do not underestimate a woman, that had been the message of her letter. But Christopher had not paid the letter enough attention. Labelled Lilliana as not dangerous.

And his gut knew this was coming back to bite him in the ass now.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Thu May 11, 2017 6:29 am

She could see the look in his eyes -- danger -- and the way he pursed his lips. He wasn't happy, not that she expected him to be, and that made it all the more fun. Still, she bit back down the excitment, not wanting to show too much. She couldn't, after all, let him know how much she'd enjoyed seeing his reation to the end of her charade.

At the end of her speech, she waited. It would take time for his brain to catch up with the information he'd received -- verbal and non, carbon dioxide and otherwise -- and the last thing Lilliana expected of Christopher was him speaking before thinking. It just wasn't done, whether you were male or female.

The question brought forth a laugh and she let it out, a light, carefree laughter that went on for a few seconds. "Oh Chris," she said, when she had allowed the laughter to run its course. "I would apologise for the deception, but I do not believe it's right to apologise without meaning it -- not behind closed doors, in any case." She didn't place any emphasis on her last few words; it wasn't necessary. If Chris was as smart as he potrayed himself to be during their time together, he'd figure out what she meant.

I offer, however, my sincere condolences. It seems your ego has suffered quite the hit, she thought. But this she didn't -- would never -- say. That just wasn't done, even if it was oh-so-tempting. She still had her standards, after all, even if her mind was a palace of unconventional.

"I am told that when I was a babe," she went on, "I did attempt to eat a book I found on the floor. Perhaps it was an encyclopedia, perhaps it wasn't. I never found out, and some details aren't pertinent to stories, so I doubt anyone could even recall the title."

She waited a moment. "But no, it was none of those things, although I have written dialogue for friends before. It's harder than one might imagine, regurgitating words one doesn't understand; there lacks the confidance and ease that comes from a topic one fully comprehends."

She offered him a dry smile. "While on that topic, ask yourself this: would a wit-sharpening potion grant people intelligance that wasn't there before, or merely enchance what they already posess? I don't intend on lecturing you on your area of specialites, and so I merely point you to what you already know. If you believed me to be empty in the upper department, would a wit-sharpening potion accomplish this level of understanding of muggle chemistry?"

"As Sherlock Holmes said," she continued, not giving him a chance to respond; no, this was too much fun. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Eliminate the impossible. It cannot be a potion; a dialogue written by a friend would not take into consideration your responses, and as such we could not have predicted this topic of conversation; and swallowing an encyclopedia would do nothing but give me a stomach ache. That is, after all, not how osmosis works."

"I pose the question back to you. So, what is it?"
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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Sat May 13, 2017 12:04 pm

The fact Lilliana was not going to apologise to him for things behind closed doors when she had no remorse for her actions. The laugh was not helping Christopher's internalised anger at the witch. She was laughing at him. Making him look a fool. Christopher did not take kindly to such things, and simply would not allow her to think that this was, in any way, okay.

But it stuck out to Christopher that she'd said behind closed doors. Honesty, that was what she'd eluded to in that moment. That she would be honest with him about her feelings -- when they were alone. Except, up until now, she hadn't been honest. She'd lied to him since the beginning -- that much was slowly sinking in -- which meant that the comment on being honest with him private was, currently, void.

Christopher had been left with little and less opportunity to interrupt Lilliana, too, and he did not think for a moment about doing so. It would be rude, for one, and Christopher was listening to Lilliana closely, trying to find the reason why she was doing this. Was it faked? Was it to be believed?

Oh, he knew it had not been a wit sharpening potion -- he'd purposefully played that card to see if she knew what it was. Upon finding that she did, Christopher had put that information away safely. She could correct him, at least, which meant her previous words had not been an act...

The question posed back in his direction simply made Christopher consider the witch for a few brief moments, raising an eyebrow in a manner that said he didn't really need to answer this, they both knew what had been going on -- now, anyway. However, Christopher was going to play, just this once, because he was confused on one matter.

"If we eliminate the impossible," Christopher said, buying only an extra moment. "Then we would know that a wit-sharpening potion would only enhance one's knowledge. The encyclopedia comment would only be flippant at best, and not work either. The speech would have lost it's way because you could not predict my response, and even if you'd thought you'd covered all bases it would likely come to a point where I pose a question for which you wouldn't have an answer."

That answer, was merely to show he knew the truth, not exactly necessary, but playing the game the witch before him had started.

"Therefore, if we exclude the impossible, as Sherlock Holmes would do, this would leave us with the possibility that you've always had brains inside that head of yours. That you're not, by any stretch of the imagination as stupid as you would have lead me to believe from when we first met." Christopher continued, his tone a little frostier than it normally would be around Lilliana, because the truth was that she'd played him, and done it well.

"The probable outcome is that you have been leading me to believe this because... your mother told you a woman with brains could never be married off very easily? Because we men can't handle it?" Christopher asked the question, though he continued on. "Or, perhaps the lie spiralled and you couldn't find the right opportunity to tell me the truth.

"Upon finding that I wanted you as my wife, you couldn't come clean about it then, either, because more than likely you would have worked out that disappointing me in such a manner would turn the Richardson heir away from you, and this would not have looked good on your family. So, you continued with the charade. Until today." Christopher finished, his eyes flickering from the witch, to past her, and then back.

"So, you're a liar. Who's come clean... for what reason?" Christopher asked her, because he was truthfully struggling to see where the benefit to Lilliana was. Hell, he could leave this room now, go and call off their engagement. Throw Lilliana under the wrath of her family...

But, she'd come clean. Trusted him to... what? Accept this?

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:35 pm

Her mind was spinning with countless thoughts. Already she had gone over this exact scenario over and over in her head, preparing herself for all possible reactions; it had taken her more than a few weeks to puzzle it all out thoroughly, adding more and more details as she thought about them to ensure she covered everything.

She knew what she would do if he took unkindly to it. There were five or so options, depending on how unkindly his reaction was, each with varying levels of anger, disappointment, and hurt.

She knew what she would say to soothe him, should he appear to be on the fence, with his ego being the only thing standing in the way; she would make promises and apologies and comfort him. Depending on the exact way he expressed his uncertainty, there might also be light touching and sensual smiling.

She knew what she would do if he accepted it without much question; that is to say, she would probe more and ensure he wasn't lying or acting.

Every possible scenario that she could have thought of (and then some; she'd asked her closest friends for help) she had covered. So, to say she was well prepared would be an understatement. Some might have said that she was being paranoid, that she shouldn't have spent so many weeks thinking about this one interaction. For most things, Lilliana would've agreed. However, she also knew that this was quite possibly her undoing. If she didn't know exactly how she was going to handle whatever he threw her way, this could very well be the last thing she did; her reputation, and therefore her, would be destroyed. This was, in all likelihood, the most dangerous thing she'd done -- tied only by the time she blackmailed her parents.

Lilliana, therefore, held an outward calm appearance; she had already predicted this reaction, and knew instinctively what she was going to do next. There was no need to worry. Still, her mind was going off on different tangents, running through her plan and making sure she would react without needing to think about it.

Her eyes never wavered from him, so she noted the tiny movements of his jaw and throat, indicating he was going to speak, before he had opened his mouth. On the very edge of her mind, she began to bring focus on the incantation to a simple spell -- levicorpus -- and held it in place, not willing it to release just yet. Depending on the words he said, she would either let the spell die or send it out towards him.

His words were but a rephrasing of everything she said, and Lilliana merely nodded once, in acknowledgment, and said nothing. He was stalling, repeating things she'd said in order to sound like he was simply trying to understand when in actuality he was trying to figure out how to reply. It wasn't what he said, therefore, that told her a lot -- it was how he said it. Not for a moment did she miss it, nor did she take it lightly. Christopher was anything but amused, and she knew she wasn't helping that with her laughter and her smiles. She would need to monitor it, and monitor it carefully, to make sure she didn't cause him to make the wrong decision. He was on the fence, although leaning towards being okay with it, and she would need to pull him towards her without making it obvious she was doing so, or he'd go the other way. He went on, and she pulled herself out of that train of thought to focus on him, his words, and his tone.

Mentally, Lilliana took note of each question he posed and each argument he made. There would be time for answers, later, when he stopped. For now, all she would do was listen and take careful notice of everything. After all, communication was hardly based on words said alone.

When he finished, she waited a moment to ensure he was paying attention, and then gently shook her head. "My lies are deliberate and planned; untruths do not pass my lips lightly. Nothing I do spirals out of control. If anything, I am too far in control," she said. This time, her tone was soft and gentle, showing she was merely explaining and not trying to show off -- not anymore.

"However, you are partially right in saying this deception has a lot to do with my mother's teachings. She has taught me that no respectable Pureblood male would marry a woman smarter than them; it isn't proper. None of my tutors have said otherwise, and my own observations and testing have proven this to be true," she continued. "A theory is merely a theory. In science, a law is a theory that has been tested under multiple conditions and has remained true; I have conducted my own tests, although not as thoroughly as I would have liked, and it seems my mother's theory is law to many. It is not a theory. I ask you: how many Pureblood males do you know would be willing to marry a woman they know is smarter than them? Would you, or your family, respect these men?"

Lilliana allowed another few moments to pass, although only for him to internalise it. As soon as she saw he had, she moved on, not giving him a chance to speak just yet. "Your presumptions are not entirely accurate, although it did play a small part in my decision not to inform you." She smiled again, showing him she had no ill-intents in saying so. "I arrived at the decision not to 'come clean' as you put it at that point of time had everything to do with timing. I simply could not tell you, although I wanted to, because we were not close enough. I could not yet predict your reactions, and therefore it would not have been the smart or safe option, for both of us."

A soft sigh escaped her. "I care for you, Christopher. In all honesty, with no lies, I care, and I did not want to see you hurt. Weeks of planning have gone into this very moment. It was not a spur of the moment decision to tell you; I wanted to the moment I started realising I cared." Again, she smiled. "I didn't tell you then simply because I knew you would be even more hurt, and I did not want to do that."

The entire time she spoke, she kept eye contact, not breaking it for even a moment. She wanted him to see the truth reflected in her eyes, to show him she was being raw in that moment without hiding. Now, and only now, she closed them, inhaling deeply, before reopening them. "I am not a liar. I am an actress," she told him. "Actresses tell lies, yes, but a liar lies for the sake of lying; an actress tells lies for the sake of the character. I have to portray myself in a certain light and in a particular way that is opposed to who I believe myself to be up here," she gently touched the side of her head, before bringing it down to her chest and let her fingers graze the location of her heart, "and in here."

She lowered her hand to her lap once more. "That, Christopher, is the reason I tell you this -- I want you to see not the character I am forced to play, but the person I am. I tell you the truth now: you know parts of the real me; you have not been fed a character entirely opposed to who I am. However, the intelligence -- or rather, the lack of -- my character possesses is not accurate to me."

Once more, she paused to let him take this in, and then concluded with, "This is, in a way, for your eyes only. It is the version of me you will only ever behold behind closed doors; as far as your family and your friends are concerned, I am everything my character is. To put another way, they believe I am my character. However, if you please, I could easily be the Lilliana you are used to, versus the Lilliana I am. It is entirely up to you, although I advise you think about it -- truly think -- before making any decisions."

Having said her peace, she simply waited and watched for his response.
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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:15 am

Lilliana's words were conveyed with confidence, accuracy and not an ounce of hesitation. All the ideas Christopher had had of this - bar the actuality of the witch having more brains than he'd believed - had been cast aside by both of the words throughout the brief time they'd been together.

Christopher's mind was processing all their previous conversations, all the small signs of being... overly needy of his help when he hadn't thought she'd needed it. His mind went to the letters he'd shared with Serafina on the matter of Lilliana, and how... how he'd missed the obvious. Serafina had warned him, but he had not heeded the warning because they'd been speaking of Lilliana. He had made it too easy for the witch by simply not looking past the image projected by the witch before him.

Lilliana's mother had been the cause - indirectly, perhaps - of the deception Lilliana had played, and... well, a small part of Christopher was starting to side with Serafina's ideologies. Women were, in truth, much more influential than he could ever have imagined. They had minds greater than many men he knew, but they were never given the chance to show it...

Was that right?

Christopher's mind was pulled back to the present, though, as Lilliana posed the question of whether he would ever look at a man the same were his wife smarter to him. Quite simply, the answer would have been no. He would not have looked at a man the same. The man would be considered an inferior being, in Christopher's eyes. And yet, was he the cleverer of the two people in the room now? Was he potentially walking in to a marriage, willingly, in which he would not be the cleverest party? No, Christopher was a highly intellectual individual. He was not stupid.

And yet, Lilliana had deceived him for so long, did that not mean she were more clever?

A small look that spoke that he would not trust someone who was outsmarted by their wife was given to Lilliana, even though she barely waited before continuing on with her words. Christopher let her, too, his mind still racing to keep up with everything she had said thus far.

The words of caring for him, not wanting to hurt him, made Christopher stand from his seat, turning away from the witch so that he could listen, but not be read. He didn't like it, and yet... the logic of the situation was so very easy to follow. Why would she tell him if she were unsure of his reaction, which could not only ruin her reputation, but also taint his own? Why would Lilliana tell him if she could not know exactly the reaction he would have given if, as she said, she cared for him and wanted to make sure he would be able to take the information well?

If she put so much thought in to getting through all of this together, it could surely only mean one thing. That this marriage was something that she wanted. That he was something she wanted, and that... perhaps, they had a hopeful outlet on the future.

Not that Christopher was a romantic by any stretch, but it did sway his feelings from somewhat outraged by the deceit, to someone more understanding of the holistic approach that Lilliana had taken up until now.

The Richardson heir half turned back, though, when Lilliana spoke of the real version of herself only coming out behind closed doors. That was the safest option. For now. Giving a stiff nod to those words - it would need to be something he considered before he agreed to it being closed off from the world, or else wise. It was - and Christopher hated to admit this - something he was going to have to speak to Serafina about. Serafina could, he believed, be trusted with something this sensitive, despite her own views, he trusted her with his worries.

Throughout Lilliana's talking Christopher had not uttered a word, instead staying quiet as he rolled through all the information - processing, making decisions, building questions, creating meetings, letters. All of it was being done whilst she spoke, and yet she'd never know of how his mind worked in the background. Bringing a hand up to his face, Christopher ran a hand over the light stubble that had grown in to place, having a single, momentary awkward moment to himself before he turned back to Lilliana.

Still no words rose from his lips, though, the Richardson heir didn't really know what he was expected to say. Something, nothing, would it matter whether he did or not? Merlin, he did not know what the answer to that question was, but he decided to ignore that question and rewind to the very beginning of the conversation. Where this epiphany of realism had developed from, and start there.

Moving to sit on the table just to the side of where Lilliana sat, Christopher looked to her for a moment, remembering the question she'd posed him a short while ago word for word. It was going to be the words that sat with him for a very long time, he was sure of that much.

"To produce Carbon Dioxide, I would assume that you would need to be burning something." Christopher told the witch, not making reference to the fact he was switching back to her original question. "So, Magical Fire... we'll reference a fireball in a jar for the moment, with no means of fuel being given to it, would not give off Carbon Dioxide, to my understanding. But, it would consume the oxygen available around it.

"Therefore, there would be no carbon footprint, but are we not inadvertently aiding in the issue of Global Warming by reducing oxygen levels?" Christopher proposed, though his argument was only based on the theory he knew from Muggle Chemistry, not any work he'd done on the effects of magic on the world around them.

"As for what we burn..." Christopher continued, reaching out to take Lilliana's hand from her lap, his eyes taking in the slender fingers of his fiance and the Richardson ring that sat upon her ring finger. It was absent intake of details about her, because Christopher was thinking about an answer to that question. "Nothing. Something. Oxygen. What does a fire need to survive? Oxygen. How do we create a flame without the fuel necessary to a Muggle in the same position. Magic. Does magic comply with Muggle chemistry? No, because Muggles are not nearly clever enough to incorporate something they do not understand to their ideologies.

"Does this mean that Magic could comply to chemistry with a few tweaks of information here and there? Most certainly." Christopher explained, his tone taking on one that he'd perhaps never used before around Lilliana, much the same as when she had asked him the question. There was no patronising tone, or mollycoddling. He expected her to follow the logic now. He wasn't making sure she understood everything to a t before carrying on.

"There just needs to be the minds to find the answer." Christopher finalised, almost as if encouraging her to continue down that road. Perhaps an offer that they - both of them - could continue down that road. Explore a new horizon of magic that no one had tried before.

But, Christopher did not allow Lilliana to answer any of what he'd said - turning the table on her in much the same manner as she'd been talking to him since they'd been discussing this new avenue of information. He may not have even given her enough time to completely process any of it as the Richardson heir leaned forward from his seat against the desk and did something he'd never, ever done before.

His lips moved to Lilliana's without hesitation, but they were gentle when they met hers. Pressing a single light kiss against her lips, before adding another, longer and firmer than the first kiss had been. For a second, or maybe two, Lilliana hadn't moved at all, but at the third, Christopher could feel her kissing him back, his free hand moving to cup her cheek and draw her in to him.

Feelings had built within Christopher for the witch before him. Feelings that he had not really known how to express with the witch that had been... not nearly clever enough for Christopher to begin with. And yet, knowing now that he was going to have a life with a woman that might be his equal on an intellectual basis. That he could discuss not only their chosen subjects but more, business, feeling, relationships, money, people, travel, books...

Christopher's lips came slowly to a stop, though he did not move away from the witch, his eyes slowly opened, realising what he'd just done. Kissing Lilliana like that without so much as a questioning look of approval.

"I'm..." Christopher breathed, the word sorry getting stuck in his throat because he was not sorry. Not truly. He'd wanted to do that for so long - though more because of her obvious beauty than anything else, until today - and he was not sorry for giving in to his personal wants. But... he was sorry for not asking Lilliana's permission first. Christopher's hand slid away from Lilliana's cheek, and he sat there, once again, at a loss for words.

Their hands, though, remained together, and Christopher's eyes settled on that.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:57 pm

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet, Aristotle had once said; she'd read it somewhere. There was also the common saying patience is a virtue. In her mind, though, patience was merely a tool; there was nothing either brilliant or awful about it. Waiting was simply one of those things that one had to do. It wasn't always bitter, nor was it always difficult; on the other hand, it wasn't always easy or nice, either. Mostly, though, it simply was, and Lilliana saw no need to delve too deeply into the whole concept of waiting for something.

There was no denying, however, that everything that happened, all the frustrating times and moments when she had to literally bite her tongue in order not to correct Christopher or admonish him for taking on a patronising tone -- and oh, how she hated that -- was made meaningless right there and then. Being real, being herself, in front of Christopher was more freeing than she could have ever imagined. There was risk, yes, and a bit of unknown thrown into the mix, but it was worth it.

She could see him thinking, see the clogs in his brain churning, and she waited. The rhetorical questions she'd posed had received answers, as she expected, although nothing verbal -- but body language and looks were as much a response as words, if not more.

It was obvious; she'd spent enough time around him and other Purebloods to know their style of thinking. She was, after all, raised to cater to that. Nobody respectable ever married someone smarter than them -- not knowingly, in any case. And, on the off chance it happened, nobody else could know.

There was only one exception to this: Christopher's eldest sister, who had seen through her deception rather quickly. The wedding ring did not escape Lilliana's sharp eyes, and a mere questioning look had the both of them talking; Seth Corbett, it seemed, was as smart as Serafina, and everyone knew it. Still, somehow it had worked, possibly due to both families having such prominent names; had it been anyone else and there would have been talk. Besides, neither were ... conventional ... in the direct definition of the word, and so it hadn't been too much of a shock.

Lilliana would never be a Serafina; no, she adored the status of Pureblood a tad too much to do what the Auror-in-training did.

Besides, with one female already smarter than him (although Lilliana wasn't entirely sure if Christopher knew this or whether he was in denial) it wasn't as though Christopher would openly and willingly accept another to be his wife. That was, however, something else Lilliana wasn't sure about. Having never had the chance to fully and properly converse with Christopher about other subjects, she wasn't sure exactly how smart he was -- and, likewise, he could never be certain as to how smart she was, not if either of them held back by the slightest. That would still have to be seen; if he didn't like it, she would hide. It was simply a sacrifice she was willing to make, just like telling him here and now was a chance she'd taken.

The turn away told her a lot, although she kept on talking, not changing her tone of voice. Mentally, though, she was trying to figure it out. He hadn't stopped her, hadn't stood up and walked off, so it wasn't that he didn't want to hear, or that he didn't care. Was it because he'd discovered she was apt at reading body language, something anyone with half a pair of brains would be capable of, and didn't want her to see whatever it was he was displaying? That was the most likely explanation, although (obviously) she couldn't tell what emotion he was currently feeling.

It was either he was beyond angry, or he was starting to soften. Either way, it would be something he didn't want her to see. Still, without being able to tell, it made her somewhat apprehensive, and she kept the spell on the tip of her mind.

She watched him move, altering the spell as he did; he was too close now. If she tried levicorpus, he'd still be in range to physically do something, not that she thought he'd do. Still, it was always good to prepare herself for the worst, and so she focused instead on a shield. As he began to speak, she shifted her mind to pay attention.

It didn't take her more than a split second to figure out what he was talking about, and for the first time she felt... at home. He was talking to her as he would any of his friends, as though she wasn't some dumb blonde, as though she understood everything he was saying -- and she did. Her eyes, sharp as they were when she was herself, glinted as she absorbed the words.

She let him talk, let him run the course of the topic. What he said brought up many more side topics that she wanted to discuss, but perhaps not now. The taking of her hand confirmed it; he was speaking science, chemistry, intellectual, but he was speaking of something else entirely with what he was doing, and she let him take her hand, followed his eyes taking in the ring. What was he thinking? Certainly not just about oxygen.

But there was validity to his points, and while part of her was curious about what his true intentions were, she couldn't help but ponder over what he was saying. If there was a way to blend muggle chemistry and magic... what would the results be? It would be something she would have to look much deeper into, that was for sure. For just a moment, a split second of a split second, she distracted herself with the sudden rush of thoughts.

By the time she brought herself back, Christopher was already inches from her, and she realised a moment too late what he was going to do; she missed the previous signs. His lips met hers and all she could do was blink. Part of her wanted to pull away, simply because she hadn't been ready; another wanted to kiss back, to lean into him and enjoy it, inappropriate or not; yet another wanted to hex him for not asking. This last part was more her training than anything, and she entertained the thought for no longer than when it first popped up.

By the time she decided, the kiss had happened for a few seconds -- how long she wasn't sure -- and as she kissed back, feeling the warmth of his lips against hers, his stubble against her skin, and his hand on her cheek, drawing her closer towards him. She leaned forward slightly, closing her eyes and allowing the sensations to take over. There was an urge building inside her that she never knew could exist, telling her what to do and what she wanted -- more, always more -- but she ignored it and focused on the kiss alone.

When he pulled away, she was tempted to reach out and pull him back, but she didn't, instead opening her eyes and regarding him seriously and intently. At the back of her mind, she still held the spell in place; she wasn't entirely sure if she was safe or not. He was inches away, and she studied his eyes, taking them in not to read him but simply admiring them in that moment. When was the last time she'd done this? Never. He was seeing her in a whole new light, and likewise she was discovering sides to him she never knew. Was it good? Was it bad?

It was neither; it simply was. And that meant she could make it whatever she wanted.

She waved away his word mentally but merely offered him a slight lifting of her lips, a smile of sorts. The moment passed, and then another, and she left her hands in his.

"Perhaps this should be our project for potions," she murmured, tone low and soft, not matching the professionalism of her words in the least. "Combining muggle chemistry and magic; who knows what we could create?" She paused, eyes glinting in humour. "If you wish, naturally; I would hate to do anything to displease my fiancé."

There was another pause, although there was a level of comfort in it she had never felt before between them, and then she leaned forward, bridging the gap between them, and touched her lips to his cheek ever-so-lightly, let it linger for a heartbeat or two, and then pulled away, the imprint of her lipgloss just visible, sparkling in the light.
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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:34 pm

The smile that had come from Lilliana at his failed attempt of an apology denoted - to Christopher at least - that she was not made at him for kissing her without permission. That information in itself spread a new light about the witch before him that he'd never considered before.

The prudish nature with which Christopher had decided Lilliana had over their time together was but an ideology created in his head. Sculpted over the years of lessons he'd been given. A woman from a Pureblood family would never, ever consider being with someone outside the constraints of marriage. It would give her too much of an issue, could ruin her.

And yet, Lilliana and he had just shared a kiss. A kiss, in his mind, that meant something. What, he could not say. But it was not a peck on the cheek, or a chaste kiss to her knuckles in greeting. No, it had been a proper kiss.

Which meant Lilliana... didn't follow the social constraints completely of their standing. Questions rose up from that point. Why had she not pushed him away? Why had she smiled? Had she done this before? Did she want to do it again? Was this going to drive a wedge between them, or was this what she wanted from him. So many questions, and yet, Christopher could not bring himself to ask even one of them of her.

Mostly because he didn't have the time in which to do so. Lilliana had reverted back to the conversation he'd brought up only moments before he'd kissed her, and he quickly moved back to that subject. As Lilliana spoke of making it a project for themselves, Christopher found himself nodding along. It would be interesting, to know the answer, delve in to an area that nobody had before gone in to, or worked on. They could work on creating something no one else had ever fathomed.

Not for the money, but simply because they could do that.

The comment on displeasing him brought an amused smile to Christopher's features. Somehow... he didn't think that he was going to be disappointed with Lilliana. He had been - who wanted to spend their life with someone who was not as intellectual as you were. Who needed carrying from one subject to another. He had someone who he could work with, on a project such as this and find out more about them.

Disappointed would be the last thing Christopher was with this suggestion.

But, the Richardson heir did not say this, his eyes noting that Lilliana was moving. Her lips moved to press a light kiss to his cheek, one that left him mildly confused. Why. Why his cheek? What did that denote? She said nothing, either, which didn't much make sense. There was no reason for the kiss, but... then, did there need to be? A new dynamic then? Born from his momentary lapse in manners.

Why his cheek..?

"A project." Christopher agreed, nodding his ascent to the idea whilst still trying to figure out the meaning of the kiss to his cheek. It was internalised the whole time, outwardly he was composed, but Christopher was not worried -- now -- about showing Lilliana when he was thinking about things. No, being afraid of being real around one another was not going to aid their relationship in the slightest.

"I don't think you'd disappoint me. Knowingly." Christopher replied to the latter of her comments, giving her a small smile that was enough to say that he held her in some regard, trusted her just enough. But, underlying to that, the unspoken part of the sentence was clear enough. That if Lilliana thought it would be funny, to her benefit, or else wise a good thing, she would be sorely mistaken. It was a comment that said this deception that had just taken place was going to be the last.

That this would be the last time he would be so accepting. Christopher was not stupid, and he did not like to be played as such. Next time... well, next time he would not let her off so lightly.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:55 am

There were two courses of action she wanted to pursue, two vastly different areas of conversation she wanted to touch upon. They couldn't be done together, and if she started on one, Merlin only knew it could take hours, if not days, before the other would be brought up. And so, for a while more, she said nothing, merely watching him and thinking, eyes glinting as her mind raced with thoughts. She no longer needed to hide the fact she was processing information and no longer needed to pretend she didn't understand something; rather, she hoped he would understand that she never spoke before thinking, and her silence was not a sign of stupidity like he had before -- rather she was mentally analysing different aspects of things.

It was a rabbit hole that, if she hadn't trained herself to get out of before she went too deep, she'd never return from. Indeed, if she could but sit and think and record her thoughts without ever really speaking, she knew she could do it for days if not weeks. There was just too much to think about.

If she were to be honest, Lilliana was somewhat dissatisfied by the lack of questions coming from Christopher. Either he thought he had it all figured out (in which case he would be wrong; nobody who thought they knew everything were ever truly smart at the end of the day. As Socrates once said, "I am the smartest man alive for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.") or he was too afraid, in which case he'd also learnt nothing.

She wasn't typical, not fully. Oh, sure, she would obey the social constructs of the Pureblood society she both loved and despised, but she was never in the belief that questions should be held back for any other reason than it being an inappropiate time. There was, however, nothing inappropiate about the current situation; they were alone, with nobody nearby, and nothing to interrupt them. Why, then, wasn't he asking her anything? Surely -- surely -- there were thing he wanted to know, more than the little bit of information she'd given him?

That was the first point she could have brought up; she could have commented on it and told him not to be ... whatever it was. Shy? Embarassed? Afraid? Polite? ... and to not hold back. Tell him she was willing to answer everything and anything, and that, for the moment, there would be no social barriers between them; nothing would be too inappropiate.

And then there was the second option -- potions.

The question she had first raised -- and the questions he had raised with his answer -- was fascinating. Indeed, she had been thinking about it on her own, but it had never been done in full seriousness. But now that Christopher had continued the ball rolling, Lilliana couldn't help but realise there was so much potential lurking behind the seemingly innocent possibility of combining muggle magic and chemistry.

What could she -- they -- accomplish with this? There was a moment where she wondered how much chemistry Christopher knew, but that would be easily taken off later, should it arise that he wasn't as well versed as her; it would be interesting for him to be on the receiving end of lessons from her, but that was something that might or might not happen, and either way Lilliana was satisfied. Still, if they were to actually try this, there would have to be careful manipulation of the results in order that most, if not all, of her contributions were not known to anyone other than the Professor.

If, of course, James Balan could be trusted with such a secret. Lilliana was very careful when it came to which Professor knew her capabilities. That is to say, those that kept their mouths shut and never asked questions. The list, therefore, was short.

But before she could reach a solid conclusion as to which path she wanted to take, Christopher was speaking, replying her, and she caught the one loaded word that made all the world of difference. She mentally waved away the smile; that did nothing to change his words. Knowingly. It was a word that held so much weight. Put together with the rest of what he said, and the message was clear -- she'd toed the line today, a line he hadn't known existed, and he was now making a new line, the constraits of which meant she would never, ever do anything like this again.

And, somehow, Lilliana found herself okay with that idea.

With a gentle laugh, one that showed not only that she understood but that she accepted it, and one that was not mocking or teasing in any manner, she smiled at him. "I promise there will be no more deceptions that could do you harm or embarassment of any sort, on my part, Christopher," she told him, tone gentle and soft. "Naturally, this does not cover surprises for anniversaries, birthdays, or other celebrations, unless you are so adverse to surprises that you would prefer I don't." Her smile was now slightly teasing, and her eyes glinted in clear amusement. "Would you be against such form of deception, if only temporary and for your enjoyment?"

This was a third option she didn't have before that bypassed the previous two altogether, even if only for a short moment, and it gave her more time to ponder and figure out which route she wanted to take first.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:04 pm

Christopher listened as Lilliana promised that she would not deceive him again. He took that with a pinch of salt in this moment, though. He couldn't say he trusted her, in truth. How could you trust someone who had been deceiving you for so long? No, the trust would need to rebuild until he would trust that she would not do something like this again.

He would have to give it time so that Serafina would not be pronounced right once again. Her letters were like a burning imprint in his mind at the moment, but he pushed them aside.

The teasing comment, though, did make Christopher smile, and then let out a small laugh. "Surprises," Christopher replied, "are definitely allowable. But don't have to be limited to special occasions." He added, an amused smile playing on his lips. "Preferably, though, surprises that don't include my sisters in any manner -- because I can tell you now that that would be a huge disappointment."

For a moment, Christopher's features were serious and then he let out a laugh to show that he was joking. Lilliana didn't need to know about the rivalry between him and his sisters, not yet, and thus he didn't go down that route. Instead, he allowed a small pause, thinking to himself for a few moments, before he returned to the original problem.

The part he couldn't get his head around.

"When we first met..." Christopher started, giving Lilliana time to think back, but also himself time to think around his question a little more aptly. "You could have been you. You could have portrayed yourself as clever -- perhaps... perhaps not as clever as you are, but still clever. And yet, you went for the airhead vibe -- sorry, I don't mean that... You know what I mean. Why? Why put yourself so far from the truth that it wouldn't fit your upbringing?

"I mean, you had me fooled. So I'm not saying it wasn't convincing. But it can't have been easy to continue that role all through the times we've been together. I'm sure I've treated you in a manner most infuriating for you to deal with. But you've let me..." Christopher said, pausing. "It doesn't make sense..."

Christopher was now frowning slightly, piecing together all the information he had in the best possible manner. He didn't care if he had to ask the obvious questions to learn more about Lilliana. He was sure she would forgive him for asking questions she could only see as obvious. After all, they could only move forward if the path behind was left clean.

"Oh," Christopher added, laughing to himself slightly that his mind could conjure up this question now, even though it was an insignificant one before. "A Pureblood woman does not get drunk. You might be a Pureblood woman, but you never answered my question the first time we met. You avoided it." Christopher prompted, looking to her for the real answer, and the story behind why she had avoided him the first time he'd asked.

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PostSubject: Re: Appearances Can Be Deceiving [Christopher]   Yesterday at 8:40 am

[[OOC: I think this is the most Lilliana has ever said, ever. I'm amused. She's really opening up to him xD]]

At the mention of his sisters, Lilliana merely smiled, and nodded. Internally, though, she let out a single cuss word. She'd almost forgotten that point, and it was far too late to bring it up now; Serafina knew. From the first meeting, Serafina had known about Lilliana's deceit, and had gone so far as to offer advice on how to continue the charade.

And while it wasn't being brought up now, Christopher would no doubt figure it out at some point and ask -- or she would tell him. She'd promised no secrets, after all, and that was a massive one that definitely needed telling. The only question was how; how would she bring it up? How would she tell Chris that his own sister had been involved in the lies? There was no real way. Besides, she didn't want to rat out Serafina...

She pushed it aside for now; she'd figure it out when the time came. Instead, she turned her attention to his next statement.

"Why indeed," she said, chuckling lightly. "I could say I got carried away with it, potrayed myself a little too lacking and then found no opportunity to ammend it. That would be a plausible explanation, but it would be a lie." She paused, making sure Christopher was still following, and then said, "It has mostly to do with upbringing. I do not doubt you remember what I said earlier -- that my mother raised me to believe that no real Pureblood would want a woman smarter than them. This is not entirely true; she told me that no Pureblood male worthy of respect would want a woman who was smart."

"Looking back, I strongly suspect she was -- and is -- merely jealous of my ability to comprehend things that she can't and the speed with which I learn and absorb information," she continued, not faltering in her explanation, although she had never really admitted this to anyone before. This was new territory, but for some reason she wasn't uncomfortable; she trusted Christopher. "However, that is mere speculation, and I would appreciate it if you did not take it as truth."

Smiling a little, she gathered her thoughts once more and went on. "I was, therefore, taught from a young age not to show any signs of intelligence beyond my mother -- and she, I am not ashamed to admit in private, although I would never say anything like this outside of the constraints of trust, is as you put it, an 'airhead'." She lifted a shoulder ever-so-slightly in what would no doubt be a shrug had she not controlled it so well. "My mother would not have known how to answer the questions we were presented, and as such I did not, either."

There was more she wanted to say, but she figured it was enough for now. At the end of the day, there was no point badmouthing her mother, even if what she said was true, and Lilliana still held some sense of respect for her family.

Instead, she concluded, "It wasn't easy, you are right, but there is an ease with familiarity, and it wasn't a position I wasn't used to." She flashed him a smile that was part teasing and part accepting, showing him she held no grudges. "In any case, I could spend my time mentally penning letters to friends; what you didn't realise was that, while our assignents went on, I was holding in depth discussions with various other people about various topics, and whenever I would seem distracted when you tried to uh... help me on topics, I was reviewing their arguments and constructing counter-arguments of my own. If you are ever interested, I could show them to you; I keep copies of them all."

She laughed, too, at his next point, a knowing glint in her eyes. "Let me ask you the a question, and you shall have your answer as to why I avoided it: would you think less of a Pureblood family if you know their women willingly and knowingly inhibited their minds and actions by getting drunk, even if only once? It has nothing to do with 'living' as you put it, and everything to do with my and my family's reputation. The drunkesness of a male can and usually is overlooked; the double standards present, however, mean that it would not be so easily forgiven for a female to do the same."

Pausing, she smiled at him. "To answer fully, however: yes. I have been drunk once and only once, in a controlled environment, out of sheer curiosity -- and also to test my limits. It was not an experience I enjoyed; I prefer being a hundred percent in control of my mind and my actions without that haze of alcohol clouding my judgement."

There was a short lull, and Lilliana sighed very gently and softly to herself as the previous issue rose again. She would have to tell him. Quietly, seriously, she turned to look Chris in the eyes. "I need to tell you something else," she said, tone taking on a hesitant quality. This was real; she was done faking. "You're not going to like it."

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