here go live with your very distant cousins on your mother's side

(A table of contents is available. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)

Part Twelve: Writing Cousins

I love cousins. They strike the perfect balance between sibling and friend in that they’re family–and therefore easier to form inside jokes with–but they’re not from your nuclear family, so you have some distance from them. You’re not always forced to be in their presence, so when you do see them, it’s not like you’ve been forced to share the bathroom with them every day for the past sixteen years. Inconveniences like sharing a bathroom are temporary–you know they’ll end so they’re less likely to tear down someone’s world. You put up with it amiably, knowing it won’t last forever. When you get one each other’s nerves, you don’t have to then go share a house and fight over a remote. Cousins are a special opportunity when it comes to writing.

Getting Along:

How close your cousin-characters are depends on three things: distance, personality, and age. Your character is more likely to be on good terms with their cousins if they live close enough to see each other on a regular basis. Whether that’s once a year at a family reunion or once a week at Sunday dinners, those face-to-face moments are going to help strengthen the bond between them. Of course, whether they even want to see each other at those get-togethers will depend on the personalities of both. The more interests or hobbies they have in common, the more affection will naturally blossom from that. And, of course, the closer they are in age, the easier it will be for them to bond. They’ll be in the same life stages and dealing with the same difficulties, unlike cousins who are separated by a wide age margin, who may not feel as though they can as easily relate. There’s still affection there–after all, they are family–but (in the case of my most recent cousin) 20-some-odd years is a very wide bridge to cross.

Humor me an example:
I have quite a few cousins, and both sides of my family hold family as something very important and special. Given how often my nuclear family moved, it was rare that we lived very close to any family, let alone my cousins. Other than the few years here and there where we lived within distance of two sets of aunts and uncles (4 cousins), we only saw each other when a life event happened (graduations, marriages, funerals, etc.) and when my nuclear family happened to be traveling. The exception to this was my maternal cousins, who also held family highly. They had an arrangement with my grandparents when my grandparents moved ~2300 miles away (they had formerly been ~130 miles from each other) that they would spend 2 weeks every summer out with my grandparents. Two and four years younger than me, my cousins extended the offer to me–would I like to join them for two weeks each summer? I spent the next several years making trips out to meet them, hiking, watching movies, video gaming, star gazing, making up dumb stories on the lawn, convincing them of a massive ninja corporation keeping watch on them, and overall having a great time. These two became some of my favorite people in the world, however since the invitation did not go out to my sister as well (for a variety of reasons), my sister never got the chance to bond this hard with them. She loves them dearly and thinks very affectionately of them, but it’s me my cousin reaches out to when he’s writing video games and it’s me they share goody pictures with.

Without those factors–close quarters, compatible personalities, and comparable ages–cousins are more likely to be ambivalent about each other. They may perhaps keep tabs on what the other is up to out of curiosity, but the level of investment that accompanies even distant siblings’ relationships is likely lacking. Animosity between cousins is less likely than with siblings, again, because they’re not people you live every moment with. A general dislike is more likely than hatred. To garner true animosity, generally an intolerable difference in ideology is required, perhaps a lifestyle or political belief that has been acted out in a way that one party finds offensive.

The Stakes:

Cousins often share a similar joking relationship to each other as with a character’s piblings, so cousins easily become a safe place for characters to go. They know they’re likely to find a smiling face, and because the cousin has some shared history as a family member, they’re easier to talk with. The cousin has the opportunity to provide a perspective that isn’t as closely aligned with the character’s nuclear family as, say, a sibling might, but they can still contextualize their response within the narrative of the family’s values. That fresh spin on things may be crucial for a character’s understanding and evaluation of a situation.

Additionally, since cousins were brought up by parents who were not your character’s parents, they were likely given different opportunities to hone different skills. After-school activities, hobbies, and manual labor tasks likely varied from your own character’s, so while perhaps your character can’t swim very well, a cousin might be able to. A cousin who grew up with parents just that much nerdier than your character’s may be proficient in archery from their parent’s Renaissance Fair competition days, or a cousin may bring better car-repair skills to the table from their mechanic mother. A character may feel more at ease asking a cousin for a favor since they already have a relationship that wouldn’t have to be built from scratch in order to ask, and may be able to twist the family aspect to get more or better service out of it. That very same familial obligation may convince a cousin to say yes, but don’t forget that they have goals as much as the next character.

The Consequences:

The bond between cousins covers distance both as siblings in terms of the shared family history, but also friends, since they don’t live together. What this means for your story is that cousins can be easily pulled into a story without appearing conspicuous–they’re family!–but they also don’t have to have all the answers a character might be looking for–they’re not that family! If you’re still looking for your character to have family appear in the story so you can play with that shared history and tell hilarious family stories, but you also still want to preserve any Family Secrets™, cousins are a great way to go.

Of course, cousins have an easier time leaving, too. They have their own homes and their own families to attend to, and the obligations to help a cousin aren’t quite the same obligations to help a sibling. Figure out how far your cousins are willing to go for each other, taking into consideration age, personality, and how often they’ve been able to get together. As much as family will usually try to help out family, the limit between cousins is smaller than between siblings. Knowing a cousin’s goals will help with this, too.

Next up: Friends!

The Raven King, Chapter 2 – The Parent Trap: Angst Edition

In which the Foxes are Sad, we unlock level 2 of Aaron and Andrew’s tragic backstory, some wild speculations are formed, classic sports drama tropes are embraced, and Fight Club is brought up yet another fucking time.

Sounds good? Then it’s time for Nicki to read The Raven King.

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Relationships With Deities

Subtitle: Your UPG is probably totally legit, and here’s why.

I am no expert here, this is all from my gut and from listening to a lot of folks discussing UPG. My personal bias is this: I believe in coming from the lore we have and extrapolating out UPG from there based on reading, personal practice, and journalistic writing analyzing those base texts when accessible. That bias stated, let’s continue.

PART ONE: Polytheism in Norse revival practices.

I feel like I constantly hear people saying things like, Loki came to me, but that opened the door, and now I’ve got Odin (or Sigyn or Angrboda or whomever). Or, Freyja came to me, but now I also have felt needlings from Freyr and/or Njordr. This concept that when we access this pantheon with intention, the relatives of our access point come a-knocking. I feel that most people have experienced this, from what I have read, so I am not going to dwell too much on this point, as it’s mostly a base concept for where I’m going with it. 

What all this boils down to, for me, is 
“Relationships are important in Norse practices.”

PART TWO: Relationship schematics within personal practice.

I am using myself as an example here, but because of the aforementioned, I feel these things are hopefully understandable and/or relatable. Hel came to me first and I have always been hers. But the more I spent time with her, the more it was important for me to understand her in relation to her father; her in relation to her mother; her in relation to her siblings. So, again as an example, Hel brought me to Wolf and Tyr. Hel also brought me to Loki, who brought me to Sigyn and Angrboda. These are not my only ‘connections,’ but again, examples.

But it’s interesting: personally speaking, my relationship with Hel is incredibly intimate—at times feeling like an actual part of her; at times feeling like she’s my mother; at times feeling like a best friend. She is my mother literally in some aspects, so I put this up to a very intimate familial relationship. How I see her is how I would have the knowledge of the kind of person if you had a really solid, supportive, mother relationship. I see her very up close and personal, for lack of better terms. However.

My relationships with Loki is more like a grandfather. He drops in for visits “on holiday” (not literally, I’m speaking about frequency in a perceived ‘standard family dynamic™’) and so does Angrboda. My knowings of Loki are simply not as intimate as someone who has a personal relationship with Loki that is as intimate as mine with Hel. I may know Loki likes coffee, but I don’t know the things he would only tell his closest confidantes—because I’m not one. That doesn’t make me less valuable: it just makes our relationships different.

What this boils down to, for me, is
“Just as different people in our lives see different pieces of us—
just as who we are to our friends may not be the same as who we are
to our distant cousins, or to our grandfathers, or whatever 
‘normal’ or ‘fucked up’ dynamic exists—just as that is true for us,”
so too is it true for the gods with whom we work.”

PART THREE: How this applies to the multiplicity of UPG.

I want to point this out not to have a ‘who’s the best devotee’-off—That completely misses my point. My point is that if we can acknowledge that our best friend may know that “you only drink coffee when you’re missing your girlfriend,” your grandfather probably doesn’t know that. That doesn’t make your best friend ‘more valuable’ than your grandfather. Each relationship is important. 

Not saying you can’t bring those relationships closer or more emotionally intimate, but the degrees of intimacy vary, and with that, information dissemination. So it would follow that while I personally have the ‘grandfather’ level of intimacy with Loki, I probably have different UPG than someone who has a father or best friend level intimacy with him. He is showing us two different faces. This does not make him inauthentic: the moon is still the whole moon, no matter which phase of it in the night sky we are perceiving. The moon is still the moon. 

So while there is a base person—for example, if you were to say, Loki is actually someone who would never lie, never think outside the box, and you experience him as the upstanding moral citizen who loves rainbows and the status quo, I’m going to say that’s poor UPG inasmuch as it directly contradicts the only known information we have about him. However, if you tell me that Loki speaks to you of fire while he speaks to me of electricity, I see how these things can co-exist without either one being wrong at all. 

The one does not invalidate the other;
just different phases of the same moon.

PART FOUR: Complications and lessons.

Then, to add just one more piece to this mix, there is also the question of the faces of our gods. Are you seeing Odin the Wanderer? Odin the Frenzy? Odin the Poet? Odin the most intimidating gunslinger this side of Texas person on Asgard? That also, I think, would change your UPG. I think this is how, for example, Raven Kaldera can say he has an incredibly intimate relationship with Hel as well, but a lot of my UPG does not match his. Reading what he has written, however, it seems he has seen a lot of what I call the Hel Hailstorm aspect, or the face of her that deals in ordeals.

As an alternate example, for me, (using myself specifically again), when I’m giving offerings to Hel As Herself Wholly, I have a set of go-tos (roses, hematite, bones, etc). However, if I want to talk to her in her aspect as someone who deals with ancestor veneration and memoriams, I’m thinking juniper and magpies. When I am thinking of honouring not just her death side but also her living flesh, there’s hummingbirds and rose quartz. I have the intimacy to see all of these sides of her; perhaps some people will only see some, and not all, of the sides.

All of these are simultaneously true.

PART FIVE: Overlap and ‘validation.’

But at the end of the day, someone having different UPG than you means very little. Your relationship with your deities is yours and you are your own spiritual authority. You can pry my association of amethyst and Sigyn from my cold dead hands (and citrine with Loki and so ametrine with Logyn), though I know not many people share that, and I’ve made peace with that. 

It’s exciting to find overlap—to me, that just shows me that the relationship I have with Hel is similar to the relationship the other person has with Hel. I was pleasantly surprised with lavenderwrath and I shared so much (though not all) UPG, and bedaelia too. This does not make us more correct, it means that we have seen the same ‘moon phase’ and have the same or a similar intimacy level with her.

It is exhausting to keep that level of intimacy with so many deities—which is precisely why I also keep hearing that people tend to practice around one and branch out honouring in varying degrees other deities that relate to their main deity. I don’t think there is anything wrong with not having an intense level of intimacy with everyone you honour. There is no way I could dedicate the same intimacy I give to Hel also to Freyr and to Loki and to Skadi. I just can’t.

For me, this is not a shortcoming. For me, it lets me know that someone who who has a closer intimacy to Skadi may have more or different insight. I might be inclined to listen to them ‘first’ and see what resonates for me out of respect and acknowledgement of their experience, but if it doesn’t resonate, I just hold with the fact that that was not the face of the god meant for me to see or the relationship that god desired of me. And frankly, I think that’s beautiful. It makes us all a family tree here on earth, both part of their family and to each other. 

And in a strange way, I’m wondering
if that is exactly what the gods are asking us to create
as we revive this dead religion.

i like me better (when i'm with you) || {one}

What: BTS Fic
Genre: Fluff
Pairing: Kim Namjoon x Reader
Words: 3k

A chance meeting with you in a library and then again in a cafe has Namjoon intrigued, he says fate. You say coincidence.

Suggested Listening: I Like Me Better - lauv

A/N: This is for a very special friend to whom I sent random scenarios late one night and this is the final product.

5ft. you walked with a purpose, nose deep into your favourite book; as usual not watching where you were going. With a loud oomph you crashed into someone’s chest, a someone who seemed a foot taller than you since you nose was smack in the middle of his chest. The tall stranger’s hands grabbed at your arms to steady you. Flustered, embarrassed and red faced, you managed to trip on all your words of apology as he bent his head closer to check on you. The sudden closeness caused you to flinch and take a few steps back which ended up in you banging your head on an inconveniently placed bookshelf. You muttered a soft aah as the bump began to sting. The tall stranger was still standing there, smiling at your clumsiness. Somehow your klutz behavior hadn’t sent him running in the other direction; for his hands reached up to rub the back of your head in efforts ease the sting while his other hand held your face in place.

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Into The Wand has been a beautiful lore-centered episode. It’s amazing how much world-building it delivered by simply using a couple of (gorgeous!) tapestries: the atmosphere was truly incredible in those scenes.

Most importantly, however, it marked the long-awaited return, more as an ominous presence though, of lizard lawyer Toffee, dropping some huge hints on his mysterious past, motives and the so-called “history” with Star’s family.

While the episode did give some kind of answers, it definitely rose many other questions. This post is in fact mostly a big theory-dump and I may be stating thoughts and theories already shared by the rest of the fandom, but feel free to join me into this new kind of lore-trash!

The waifu tapestry room in the royal palace gave us viewers a quick history lesson on Star’s ancestors. There is a lot of stuff to talk about here, lots of theories and (possibly) symbolism, but we’ll try to focus on Toffee instead, which is possibly the key to all of this mess.

So of course we start with Celena The Shy. While (probably) not directly related to the reptile lawyer, Celena is the only ancestor in the room that Star addresses using an appellative, “great-great-grandma”, thus helping us viewers drawing a timeline of the Butterfly dynasty. From this point on, since Star started with Celena’s epigraph, we can assume that the tapestries are in chronological order, considering that the last one we learn about is Moon’s.

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Haunted Heart

Rannva gave me this prompt forever ago - yay for angst and otps! :D


“I’m terribly sorry.”

The plastic of the phone was cold against Gru’s ear. He had never heard Silas speak so quietly, so full of sorrow. Odd that it was this moment he had to analyze everything, down to the rustling sounds coming through the line.

“Vell .. I thank you for your call. But dat.. goodnight.”

“Mister Gru?”


“She really loved you.. showed everyone the ring before she went-”

“Listen here Ramsbottom, I vant you to never call me again.”

“..I understand.”

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Roger the Cat & Betty the Asshole Betta Fish: Neighbors AU

“I’m acknowledging that in the food chain of pets…”

Summary: Emma’s always wanted a pet, but a fish isn’t what she had in mind. Plus, the neighbor’s cat keeps sneaking into her apartment, and little Roger loves Emma almost as much as Emma loves him. All is well and good until said neighbor comes knocking on her door. 

A/N: Roger as in Jolly Roger because I am trash. I love cats. I also had a betta fish and I still have a lot of unresolved issues from our time together.

(I curse my friend for picking it. Rest in peace, Fesh the Fish.)

Also on

Originally posted by luxyrose


Emma Swan never had the picket fence life. She had never inhaled the scent of garden flowers baking in the hot summer sun, or petted a lounging cat on the porch banister eyeing a golden dog running around an old tree she was proud to have in her yard. Sure, she would’ve loved having a pet like the ones she imagined cuddling up to on lonely nights inside her current and previous apartments, but cats and dogs… Well, as much as she wished for a fuzzy little companion, it was a big step. A big commitment. Could she even go out, adopt a fluff-ball, and truly give it a better life than some other family with that white picket fence?

But ‘Betty the Betta Fish’—its official and less offensive name—was a different story. 

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(11-year-old Catalina of Aragon, as painted by Juan de Flandes)

Today we are going to talk about Catalina of Aragon, fifth and last child of the Catholic Monarchs Isabel and Fernando of Spain, and Queen of England between 1509 and 1533. Catalina was born in Alcalá de Henares, Castile, on December 16, 1485. She was the first of Henry VIII’s six wives, and mother of Mary I of England.

Catalina is said to have been quite beautiful, with her mother’s looks: light hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and great elegance. Thomas More and Lord Herbert are quoted as saying that ‘few women could compete with the Queen in her prime’. She was also described as ‘the fairest creature in the world’. Her education was extremely meticulous, in politics and culture as well as religion; unlike her sister Juana, Catalina did share their mother’s fervour. She learned law, math, Latin, Greek, French, dance, drawing, cooking, manners, music, and had a soft spot for literature. Her education was superior even to that of other royal women of her time.

She had been considered as a bride for Arthur, Prince of Wales, since they were both small children; Catalina was three years old when they were betrothed. They were married on May 19, 1499 and she arrived to England in 1501.

Not much is known about this short-lived marriage, yet a lot is said about its (lack of?) consummation. They were together for only five months, in which he had to travel around the country and later fell ill and died. She swore until her death that this first marriage was never consummated. It was so declared by Pope Julius II, and that declaration allowed her to marry Arthur’s brother later on. In 1533, Thomas Crammer annulated her marriage to Henry on the grounds that the one to Arthur had indeed been consummated. What really happened there we will never know, but analysts and historians tend to side with Catalina, since her education and values would have never allowed her to lie, and declaring she was still a virgin brought her more trouble and suffering than if she had just said there had been intimacy with Arthur.

Marrying Catalina was a huge help to the Tudors –they were new to the crown of England and needed to solidify their position on the throne. The House of Trastámara, which her mother came from, was the most prestigious of Europe after the fall of Granada, the discovery of the New World, and the overall rule of the Catholic Monarchs–an alliance of such importance was vital to strengthen the Tudors. She was of English descent from her mother’s side, and a distant cousin to Henry VII; it is even said that her own claim over the English throne was superior to that of the Tudors. That is why even after Arthur’s death they offered her to marry Prince Henry, five years her junior.

The wait between both marriages was very difficult for her. After her mother died in 1504 Catalina’s position was no longer safe and she suffered mistreatments at the hands of her father-in-law, who would not allow her to return home so that he didn’t have to give back her dowry, but wouldn’t give her proper care, wouldn’t support her financially, and was even harsh and rude to her. There are letters from Catalina to her father complaining about these mistreatments, which she endured with dignity and strength ‘for I am not as simple as I may seem’. Eventually, she married Henry in 1509 and became Queen of England that same year.

We all know about the king’s Great Matter, that in which his passion for Anne Boleyn made him desperately seek a way to reject Catalina in order to marry Anne. I will not stop too much here since most of the events around this episode are widely known. But I do want to go over what happened on June 21, 1529, when Catalina was summoned to the Court to question the validity of her marriage. Instead of testifying before the Court and the representative of the Pope, she knelt at Henry’s feet and gave one of the most famous, most moving speeches in history. Here are some parts of said speech:

‘My Lord, I beg you in the name of all the love that has been between us to do me justice, to have some mercy and compassion on me, for I am a poor woman, a foreigner (…) I have no sure friend here, and much less an impartial Council (…) I name God and the whole world as my witnesses, for I have been a true wife to you, humble and obedient, always according to your will (…) I have loved all of those you have loved, only for you, had I reason or not, were they my friends or my enemies (…)

And you have had from me many children, although it has pleased God to take them from this world (…) And I humbly implore you that in the name of charity and the love of God, who is the supreme judge, you spare me the trial before this court while my friends in Spain have not advised me which is the right path for me to choose. But if you do not want to grant me such a small favour, your will be fulfilled, for I commit my cause to God.’

After speaking, Catalina left the audience. Given that Catalina did have the Pope’s support (after all, she was Isabel of Castile’s daughter and the aunt of Emperor Charles V), Henry VII decided to break with the Catholic Church altogether.

Catalina never gave up her title as Queen of England, and her court and supporters always addressed her as such. When she and her daughter Mary (only surviving child after a series of terrible miscarriages and stillborn babies) were banished from Henry’s court, and sent to different locations, Henry offered to let them be together and have better accommodations and service if they gave up their titles and recognized Anne and her daughter Elizabeth as the legitimate Queen and heiress. Both Mary and Catalina refused.

Catalina died at age 50 on January 7, 1536, after a long agony. Her death arose quite a few suspicions, both because of the whole conflict between her and Henry and because upon autopsy her heart was found to be blackened; this was interpreted as the result of poisoning. Modern science has explained that the blackening of the heart could have been provoked by cancer, which would then be the cause of her death. This is a plausible theory, since both her mother and her daughter died of cancer. In turn, this agrees with several health issues present in Isabel of Castile’s line, one of which is the chronic depression Catalina’s grandmother and her sister, the famous Juana ‘the Mad’, appear to have suffered.

As to why Henry and Anne wore yellow when Catalina died, there are many explanations. Some interpreted it as mourning in Spanish style, for yellow was the colour of mourning in Catalina’s homeland; others viewed it as a rather vulgar display of joy, for Catalina’s death finally settled Anne and Henry’s marriage. There are now reports that say that Anne and Henry mourned Catalina in private. The fact that Anne miscarried a son on the day of Catalina’s funeral definitely did not help to the connections of ill will that were being drawn between the three of them.

Along with Margaret of Austria and Anne of Brittany, Catalina of Aragon is considered one of the most intelligent women of her time. In 1507 she became the first female ambassador in European history, when she worked for Spain’s interests while living in England. She was a huge influence during Henry VII’s reign: he even named her regent of the country while he fought in France in 1513. She was loved and respected in England, where people took her side during the Great Matter events. Catalina is known to have fought for female education and donated to several universities; in fact, the book ‘The Education of Christian Women’ was commissioned by her.

Time has contributed to solidify Catalina’s position as one of the best, most distinguished monarchs and women of history. Thomas Cromwell, one of her best-known enemies, was even known to say that ‘if not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History’.

Jupiter Ascending - more than sequins in space!

Okay, this is where I talk about Jupiter Ascending. Those of you not interested, or who have decided that this over-the-top homage to space operas and Regency romance tropes is not for you, feel free to scroll on by! I may not agree with your opinions, but I respect them; IT IS OKAY TO NOT LIKE THE THING.

Warning: spoilers are under the “Read More”. General wittering is before that.

  • This movie is a big-budget glittery dream. Every penny of that multi-million dollar budget is on screen, and HOW. Space craft that are designed to look like lionfish! Art Nouveau levitating sedan chairs! Enormous cathedral-like spaces filled with hundreds of flickering candles! Everyone in space has some sort of shimmery, textural details to their costumes! GLITTERY SPACE ROYALTY SWATHED IN SILK AND SEQUINS! The design aesthetic for this movie is glorious, and I am here for every Swavorski-crystal covered bit of it. Yes, I intend to start accenting my lipstick with single rhinestones, NO ONE CAN STOP ME.
  • This movie is not rooted in the Hero’s Journey monomyth. This is not a quest epic where the main character learns lessons about themselves, about friendship, loyalty, hardship, and comes out the other side with their status as The Special One confirmed. Which, as I mentioned briefly in a previous Tumblr post, is what I think caused parts of the general viewing audience to side-eye the plot and characterization. Familiarity, even on an unconscious level, with the monomyth means that viewers can make narrative jumps and assume motivations for character actions that aren’t explicitly spelled out or explained. If you’re (TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLY) distracted by the sparkle and explosions, not having the familiar framework of the monomyth to fall back on means Jupiter Ascending can feel a lot like choose-your-own-adventure fanfic. And there is NOTHING wrong with interacting with the film on that level, because it’s bombast with a female lead, and everything is either glittery or exploding! But the film does hold up to a more in-depth reading, honest!

Regency romance tropes! No, really.

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Predators in Training

Prompt: AU where Carmilla first meets Laura when her mother calls her in from globetrotting to meet her new “little sister”—a freshly-turned Laura Hollis, naive yet determined to survive this dangerous new world.

Sorry this took me so long to do but in my defense I accidentally deleted my blog and that set me back with a lot of things. That’s also why I have no idea who sent me this prompt.

If she was being perfectly honest with herself, the only reason she hadn’t written back to Mother arguing against coming back home – if one could truly call it home – was that she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Mother would probably behead her if she did. A call back home was indisputable. You return promptly or be hunted down.

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