it's illegal to be alone on christmas

it's illegal to be alone on christmas

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closed it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Ace Longbottom on Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:32 am

"I'm surprised Frank and Alice still have their tongues."

"Hmm?" Hannah Longbottom was rubbing lotion into her arms while her husband tried to rouse his useless lump of an owl to go outside to hunt. Neville sighed and turned, tempting a smile out of his wife's face as she beheld him in his full red-and-green glory. The plaid pattern was ghastly, broken only by the addition of white and a huge, cheery-face Father Christmas plastered on the chest. She, of course, wore Mother Christmas, and Frank the elf, Alice the reindeer. She had made sure they all had socks to boot. "Mmm, sexy."

Neville looked a little horrified as he slipped into bed, but he knew his wife well enough to know that she was trying to get a rise. "I'm just saying, they scarfed down their cocoa so quickly I'm surprised they don't have third degree burns. I wonder what has them so rushed."

Hannah cocked an eyebrow, glancing sideways at her husband. "Do you... You really don't know?" He gave her one of his go-to looks of confusion and her lips curled into that knowing smile only a wife could bear. "Oh, honey."

"What?" he said, not quite irritable but certainly not wanting to encourage her usual game of dangling information before finally giving in.

"They're sneaking out. Apparently, Christian lied about having somewhere to go tonight."

Neville frowned deeply. "Why would he do that? He could have stayed. We would have been glad to have him."

"That's probably why he lied," Hannah said.

"That doesn't make sense," Neville started, suddenly interrupting himself. "Wait, so what are Frank and Alice doing?"

"Kidnapping him, sounds like."

"Oh. Right... Wait-"

"He'll have to spend Christmas with us then. You don't mind, right?"

"No! Not at all. I like him. He's a good kid. But-"

"Come on, Neville, it's Christmas-"

"But he won't have pajamas."

Hannah blinked and dropped her arms, staring at her husband before a slow smile unfolded. She slowly leaned towards him and kissed him. He blinked in surprise but kissed his wife back, smiling against her lips. When they broke apart, he offered her a bemused smile. "What was that for?"

"For being the best man I know. I'll sneak down to the tree and duplicate some pajamas. You want to go look through the library, see if there are any books?"

The two slipped out of bed, immediately reaching for shoes and coats."I'll do a quick run. I'm sure there's somewhere open that sells something. Maybe try a different time zone."

Hannah grinned. "You want to change first?"

Neville put his hands on his hips. "And not show off your handiwork?"


The Leaky Cauldron was surprisingly full. The patrons were, unsurprisingly, all a bit drunk, which Ace supposed made sense for anyone who spent Christmas Eve at a bar. Still, she couldn't find it in her to begrudge their happiness. If they knew they had no one to spend the night with, she accepted their attempts to find company.

Not like some people she knew.

She scoffed, tugging her coat around her a little tighter. "I can't believe he didn't tell us," she repeated for the fifth time since Frank had spilled the beans, following close behind him as he led the way. "Did he really think we wouldn't figure it out?"

#ChaceSavesTheWorld
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Christian Zabini on Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:33 am

The Leaky Cauldron was.... surprisingly boring. As nice as the owner apparently could be, despite the past summer, Christian had to admit something: A day and a half in, he regretted his decision. In fact, he half wished he'd just put Ace and her family in a weird position for the whole break if it meant not sitting about in a room with little to do. Arryn had a little back room with his piano and a variety of books charmed in some way or other to keep them in the building. Or Christian assumed as much, since one had appeared on the counter that morning and Declan had rolled his eyes. Of course, his expression seemed to say. Someone had tried to take another one.

But Christian had no plan to try and steal anything. After all, he was probably stuck there until it was time to return to school. His parents had decided - though he could sense his mother's reluctance - that it would be best for the boys to stay where they were. So he had written to Apollo that first night of staying at the Leaky, avoiding specifics of his own lot, but he hadn't heard back. Which figured.

Another thing that figured, of course, was that Frank had irritated his sister. Very successfully, he might add. But this time, it wasn't actually entirely his fault. He'd watched her classmate tip-toe around their house, their garden -- everywhere, really - for a good twenty-four hours before the boy finally approached him for help. It was a matter of time, really.

Ugh. Hufflepuffs.

Christian, quite unlike his ancestors seemed to have been, was not the type to put people out. He didn't seem okay with people paying him much attention. No wonder he got along with Ace. Merlin. Poor git. That, typically, would not have been a problem. Ace couldn't keep †her mouth shut half the time, and the other half she was plotting something. How she ever heard anything Christian had to say, Frank just could not tell you. No wonder she hadn't realized what happened! Merlin. ...Again.

Downstairs, Frank rolled his eyes at Ace. Again.

"We didn't figure out anything, Ace. I'm surprised the poor idiot is even friends with you. You couldn't tell when he was lying?"

Frank lifted an eyebrow at her before walking up to the bar and asking Will which room the boy was in. He'd looked around for Declan, but the man must have gone off in the past day or so, for the holidays. Fair enough. But Will seemed unconcerned, particularly once Frank said he'd brought Christian in the night before but left before he caught the room number. They wanted to bring him something for Christmas, Frank claimed.

Will super didn't care. He looked up the number and gave it to them before turning away to prepare another round for a couple blokes at the other end of the bar.

Shrugging at Ace, Frank led the way upstairs.

Christian, at the time, was trying to decide if it would be weird for him to go get the Longbottom family something for Christmas on the twenty-fifth. Not because of the sales, but because it was too late now and he felt bad about it all. It probably would have helped if Christian had realized the truth about his guilt. If he had understood that he felt bad for leaving just as he felt bad for showing up in the first place, perhaps it would've been easier to decipher the way his chest ached.

He jumped when someone knocked loudly on the door. Letting out a heavy breath to calm himself, Christian shoved the book aside and stood to open the door. Whatever the deal was, he just hoped - bizarrely - that it would take a while. At least it would be something to do.
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Ace Longbottom on Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:42 pm

Ace was a bit surprised she had not caught the lie, especially considering how uncertain Christian had been on the first day of his stay. But he had seemed to warm, to get almost comfortable. She liked to think it had something to do with their successful attempt to to smuggle a gnome into Frank's things (and she only suffered one nasty bite for the effort) and her focus on PA housekeeping busywork. But she knew the truth. It had been a group effort. Between Hannah's cooking, Frank's snark, and Neville's school stories, the Longbottoms had quietly come to the agreement to make the Zabini boy feel as much at home as he could. And it seemed he had.

So why had he left?

Ace chalked it up to him being an idiot, naturally. Christian had many great values and was very clever when he wanted to be (and she might even be persuaded to admit that he was better at Charms than she was) but sometimes he could be a dunce. Or maybe he was deaf, or blind, or something because the Longbottoms had not done a single thing to imply he was overstaying his welcome. Hell, Hannah already seemed to like him more than her own two just two days in.

Pft, just because he offered to do the dishes. Suddenly he was Saint Christian.

It had, of course, occurred to her that maybe he didn't want to be there. They were loud, they sassed each other incessantly, and she and Frank had moreorless ramped up their usual squabbles in their attempts to establish a winner in the eyes of their new audience. Neville and Hannah were mortifying in their festive spirits, and every day had been full of mandatory family activities, be it gardening, looking at Christmas lights, baking, or, of course, family meals. There was every chance in the world that they had been too much for him.

Ace Longbottom wasn't sure if she believed that was the case, but she couldn't be certain. She was certain of one thing: she really hoped that wasn't the reason.

So they were back to the Dunce Theory. And since she had not caught his lie, it meant she had been played the fool by a fool, which was displeasing, to say the least. She attempted to minimize it, in the hopes that Frank would forget to hold it over her head, and said, "What's important is that we caught it and we're correcting it."

There was that we again. Subtle. Nice. He'd never notice.

It probably took Christian under ten seconds to answer the door, but of course it was enough for Ace to get impatient. The door opened and before he could say anything she chirped, "Right. This is for lying."

And she punched him.

Okay, it wasn't exactly a punch. It was more of flick of her wrist against his upper arm, with just enough added force that he couldn't tease her for hitting like a girl, or some nonsense. Not enough to hurt him - but enough to make him not want her to hit any harder.

"Frank's gonna apparate us back," she said. "I'll help you get your stuff." And she moved to push past him into his room, never considering that such an action just might be a slight invasion of privacy.
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Frank Longbottom on Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:16 pm

Frank didn't even look at Ace when she replied, though he worked very hard to avoid rolling his eyes. Very, very hard. But when the young man opened his door, Ace left no room for Frank to speak up. Or for Christian to block them from his space. Not that Frank really thought he wouldn't have done the same thing if they were here to kidnap Jack or Kip. But then again, Jack would've put up much more of a fight.

Christian just let his mouth fall open a bit when Ace hit him, and actually stepped out of her way when she moved past him. And Frank could only lift an eyebrow. When Christian finally inched towards Ace as if he thought he could stop her, Frank smacked a hand down on the boy's shoulder.

"Don't bother, mate. You're not getting out of this."

Christian shrugged Frank's hand off, frowning up at the Gryffindor. "This isn't up to you, Ace," the Hufflepuff told her. "You can't just-"

Frank cut in smugly. "She can't. But I can."

Christian made a frustrated noise and stepped away from Frank to sit on the edge of the bed. "Seriously, it's not a big deal." So much for wanting something to do, eh, Christian? Perhaps he was just angry with Frank for telling on him. Even if he wasn't the type to say as much or show it. "Christmas is for-- for family. And I haven't ever had-"

"You've never had a family Christmas before?" Frank asked, shock and disbelief marring his features.

"No, I have. But not like what you lot do."

"What, do I have to make you an honorary Longbottom or something for you to play along? Trust me, the name isn't the only bonus," Frank said wryly. "We also end up with gnomes in our stockings."

He shot Ace a disapproving look but Christian just sighed. Merlin, this wasn't going well at all.
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Ace Longbottom on Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:56 pm

Ace hadn't fully expected to get past him, but she refused to look like she was anything less than completely on top of it. She spotted a small case for his things and crossed to pick it up, hefting it onto the bed before glancing around to begin deciding which was his and which was the room's. She scooped up a pair of socks, an open book, leaving Frank to the negotiation.

Mostly leaving it to him.

"She can't. But I can."

"But I can a little bit," she interjected defiantly, shooting Frank a glare. Because that was a priority right now.

She was busy popping into the bathroom, grabbing his toothbrush and comb before returning to the bag, just in time to hear Christian say "No, I have. But not like what you lot do."

"Us lot?" she repeated over Frank's sarcasm. But she had more or less rounded up his things and now stopped to hear Frank out, hands falling on her hips as she watched the two speak.

Wow, they already seemed to be more comfortable than acquaintances. How did Christian ingratiate himself so quickly?

Christian glanced over at Ace and she dropped her hands, ambling over to sit next to him, registering that they had basically just attempted to take him hostage. Maybe they needed a more gentle approach. "Look, if you really don't want to spend Christmas with you, we'll leave you be. But I'd personally like a buffer between me and my parent's irritating desire to smother us in garland and gift wrap. You're not putting us out, you're not interrupting anything. In fact, no idea why, but parents would probably really like to have you."

Of course, she'd never admit that she or Frank might enjoy his addition. She could be nice but she didn't want to go overboard now.
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Christian Zabini on Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:57 am

Christian had no idea at all what to make of the Longbottom siblings. Ace was never nice, and Frank did not seem like the type to actually care about someone who was basically a stranger. And Frank would have said so himself, if this post was from his point of view. See, Frank doesn't do sentimental, or sappy. He wants you to know that, reader. But he was just far too fascinated by Ace having a best friend to avoid telling her the truth.

What Christian actually wanted to know was whether or not Ace realized just how many compliments she had just given him. Her parents apparently liked him. She wanted him there, if not in as many words. Frank had told her and helped her come back to get him. It was almost like-

No. Best not to touch that.

He didn't know what to do with himself. He considered leaning around her to pull the book out of his bag, but he knew that it wouldn't really follow him if he left. And it was starting to look like he indeed would be. Because how could he turn any of that down? Christian could hardly believe he'd given any of it up in leaving, but he hadn't even known any of it was there.

Friends were quiet, sometimes abrasive, but okay with spending time apart and with leaving the other alone when they were meant to. All of that applied to Ace. But family wasn't actually all that different, in his experience. He and his brother cared about each other. They really did. But it didn't mean they were close. And Christian knew that he and Ace did care. She wouldn't be here if they didn't, and he wouldn't have left. But this wasn't how people expressed that almost casual level of care for another person.

Ace was his best friend. Not because either of them had tons of other people to choose from, but because nobody else really understood them like the other person did. Christian didn't understand this, though.

But he did think he liked it. It was kind of nice, even if he felt strange about it.

One of these days, Christian would start to understand the importance of Ace's candor.

The main problem he had now, actually, was that he was a bit embarrassed. Walking back into their home after a stunt like this was bound to turn into a bit of a mess. But he wanted to do it anyway.

Christian ran a hand through the front of his hair, trying to make it look at least halfway presentable. It was honestly a miracle he hadn't gone somewhere to pick up pajamas, but was instead wearing something halfway normal. He probably would have felt even worse if he'd had to return to their house looking like more of a nightmare than he probably already did. With a sigh, the youngest Zabini looked at his hands as they fell to his lap.

"I- .. Sorry," he said finally, looking over at Ace and lingering there a bit before turning his attention to Frank. "I'm not -- ungrateful, it's just.."

"It's unusual. For you."

Christian nodded, his mouth flattening into a line.

"So," Frank continued. "You coming home with us or what?"

Whoops, Frank decided to cut in, again: So perhaps he could've phrased that better. Frank knew that. But he wouldn't have been Frank, really, if he filtered himself outside of his parents' house. He caught Christian's bemused look as well, but the Hufflepuff merely smiled - a little, anyway - and nodded. So Frank offered up both hands once things were fully gathered, and took the idiots back.
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Ace Longbottom on Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:29 am

Ace could probably be described as persuasive. She was certainly headstrong and opinionated, and when pushed, she could even make her words sound pretty and inspiring. And it was probably obvious to anyone who spent more than a moment in her company that persistence might be the one trait the rose above all others in the belly of her character, an unshakable determination to achieve that which she has decided to be good for herself and good for all - usually the latter, if it isn't too complimentary.

Ace could be persuasive. But no one could accuse her of being manipulative.

She had an odd mix of awareness and oblivion that made being Ace Longbottom excessively hard. She could only assume that she was probably a pain most of the time, and for this, she could be considered self aware. And yet, she'd just as quickly argue that being a pain was a more forgivable sin than being wrong, and it was here that her immaturity and age really shone through. The girl hardly knew what to make of herself, and was only now beginning to learn how to extend her feelings beyond a first impression. She was learning.

Ace was oblivious to the idea that she should have ulterior motives beyond doing whatever she felt was right at any given time. So, it was this pleasant myriad of traits, almost all her best and worst in one breath, that made it impossible that Ace was manipulating Christian to get him to return. She was only trying to persuade him to see what she could so clearly see. There wasn't a single reason for him to be alone. He had a place at Christmas.

And any other time he felt he might need some safe harbor to return to.

He sounded like he wanted to apologize for leaving, and Ace was thankful that Frank stepped in before he could, because she probably would have hit him again. Now, if she could persuade Christian to stop apologizing for himself, she'd be getting somewhere. But, that was no matter. He was nodding. He had seen something in her persuasion. He would spend Christmas with them - which was obviously the right thing.

She was happy for having done the right thing. She was happy that Christian saw reason. And she found that, beneath all that, all that business type of thinking, she was just happy he'd be returning. She hadn't exactly missed him when he had gone. Hadn't keenly felt his absence. It was a loud, busy house. But somehow it seemed... fitting. That he was joining them. As though they really couldn't have had Christmas without him.

Weird. Maybe she'd start understanding people and feelings soon. That'd certainly be helpful.

She cleared her throat. "Good. Because I lied. There was no chance we'd leave you be. Would've sooner dragged you kicking and screaming." But, maybe if he was quick enough, if his eye was sharp enough, he would have seen the twitch in her lips masked by the curt nod of her head, the twitch of her hand which was quickly transformed into a pat on her own knees as she pushed herself up. "Right. We'd better get going. Don't want Santa to beat us."
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Christian Zabini on Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:35 am

Christian and Frank both rolled their eyes at Ace's quip, and although Frank squinted at the younger man for a second before they disapparated, Christian was oblivious to the fact that they were acting similarly again. When they landed at the house, Frank dropped them upstairs that time. It was probably best, he felt, to try not to give Pop a heart attack.

So Frank released them and bounded down the stairs, calling out that they wanted to know if there were any cookies left for them to put out and then sneak down and eat. He was shocked, when he made it down, to find that dad wasn't there. And it looked like Mum was up to something, though he couldn't tell what and was rather nervous to ask.

But she smiled at him in an almost proud manner, completely knowing and happy. And it made Frank slow to a stop, rather unused to seeing his parents look proud. Of him. He knew he was loved but it was another thing entirely to think he'd done something they truly felt good about. It wasn't like they thought he'd ever done anything impressive for his career, so he fidgeted awkwardly before muttering that he'd just sneak down later anyway and then darted off to his room.

Upstairs, Christian set his things down on the bed, as he'd not been able to do last time, and found himself at a loss. Again. Part of him honestly (and he hated this part a bit) wanted to ask how, exactly, Christmas worked. At their house, anyway. But that would sound stupid. And, surely someone would give him instructions?

Merlin, he needed help. At least he could admit it, because usually that's the hardest part.

Instead, he opened up his bag and started shifting things around. Ah, yep. The book had stayed in its home. Hopefully Arryn wouldn't think he'd tried to steal them after already being warned. Oh well. Too late now.

Since Frank was gone, Christian supposed that he was meant to say something better than his sorry attempts back at the Leaky. It was just them - him and his best mate - and surely he should have been able. It was Christmas. Christmas meant... fun? For the Zabinis it meant food and generic gifts that he didn't know weren't the usual, but their house was so festive and warm and there were gnomes for some reason. And stockings. And cookies made by the lot of them and, like, holiday films. Christian couldn't remember ever watching one before.

Was this how Muggleborns felt coming into the Wizarding World, but divided by, like, a million? Because Christian was weirdly starting to understand it. Just, backwards, and on a miniature scale. How odd. He felt absolutely dense, and yet his family was known for thinking that Muggleborns were somehow less than them. That Muggles or even Halfbloods were. But look at everything they had, that he didn't! This was, was nothing, really. Hardly even that different. But if this was just the beginning, what else was out there that people like the Death Eaters wanted to be rid of?

What the hell. Stop.

Looking over at Ace, he just kind of stood there. Until he couldn't handle it any longer - which, by the way, only took a second or two.

"So.. what happens now?"
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closed Re: it's illegal to be alone on christmas

Post by Ace Longbottom on Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:35 am

They landed back in Christian's room and Frank left them, and Ace didn't even think to question her brother's motives. She frowned, noticing that Christian had closed the window before he had made his exit. She shot him a look that was both amused and exasperated as she crossed, a vague sense of deja vu as she reached it and opened it.

The room got stuffy.

"You can start by looking less miserable."

Her eyebrows were raised and her cheek was dimpled from the effort of hiding her smirk. It was a joke. Ace could be pretty rotten with basic communication, but there was no mistaking her attempt to lighten the situation, at least this time round. She waved him over to the window and pointed out. "See that house? Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, we're going to be forced to walk over and give Mrs. Hanfield a gift from Mum and Dad. And she'll probably invite us in, but Frank will make an excuse. But as for tonight, I'm sure we're going to be forced to go through everything again. So when we do downstairs, Mum's going to make us change into our Christmas pajamas. The second Mum figures out you're staying, she'll probably duplicate someone else's and tailor it for you."

She turned, elbow resting on the sill. "And then, we'll have our yearly fight over which film to watch. Dad will probably defer to you, so if you're actually my friend, you'll pick the Grinch. Meanwhile, we'll eat our weight in cookies, and drink through an entire market's worth of cocoa and eggnogg. And Dad will keep interrupting the movie to tell stories about Christmas at Hogwarts. And Merlin forbid it starts snowing. Because Mum will shuffle us outside to look at it, putting the heaviest blanket she can find around each of us."

She sighed. "Eventually, one of them will realizes it's late, we always end up staying up late, and they'll remind us Santa won't show up if we're awake. So we'll go to bed. Of course, that's when Mum or Dad fill the stockings. So it's 'magic.' I actually don't know which one does it." She paused, frowning thoughtfully.

"Frank and I are sort of... well, we're not festive people." Surprise, surprise. "But we try to wake up before they do. Start coffee, put frozen waffles in the toaster, start opening the stockings. It's dumb but Mum and Dad seem to like the idea that we can't wait to get to presents. They force me to wear this stupid hat and pass out the presents, but usually Mum gets impatient and does it for me. After presents, Mum and Dad make a better breakfast, and that's when we visit Ms Hanfield."

She paused, realizing how much she had just thrown at him. "Look, it'll probably be super embarrassing and lame. If I knew a way out of it, I'd let you know. But they'll be really happy to have someone else to force through the Christmas song and dance. They love it. And, I guess, it's not the worst thing ever."
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Post by Christian Zabini on Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:12 am

Christian sat down on the bed as she started explaining and he realized it was going to be quite a list, and a fairly long-winded one. Most of it sounded absolutely nonsensical, and he hoped he would remember everything later on when he would inevitably felt put on the spot. He quite liked the more giving traditions they had, and it registered again that Ace was in exactly the right house.

He got the distinct impression that Ace did not actually think their traditions for the holiday were lame. Indeed, the fact that she'd taken so long to tell him, and tried to counter whatever impression he would receive from that, told Christian everything he needed to know.

Best not to comment on it, though. It also didn't feel like he had any right to ask if they saw any... other family, for the holidays. So he just nodded, then stood up to head downstairs with her.

As they descended, he nearly paused. They had walked down the stairs at Hogwarts a million times, probably, side by side. And it hadn't even been six months. Yet this somehow felt strange. But he decided to chalk that up to the circumstances and his failed escape attempt. If he could even call it that.

In the living room, he noticed that Frank had gone off somewhere, but their Mum was still around.Christian glanced over at the tree again and the packages that lay beneath it, only for Ace's dad to come in with another one, stopping short when he saw them.

"Ah, good. You're down!" Neville said, as if Christian hadn't left at all but rather had just been called for... whatever list item they chose first. "Frank, where're you at?"

It took a minute, but the Gryffindor returned from his room, looking less interested than he actually was. Half an hour later, they had all donned eerily matching pajamas that Christian was entirely certain they hand't planned to give him, but he obviously wasn't going to complain. So as they settled in front of the telly, it was, indeed, time to pick out a film. And whoops, Christian couldn't remember what it was called.

Attempting not to glance Ace's way in case her coercion would cause a problem, he floundered for a minute before saying, "... The-- Gr..ouch?"

Frank choked on a gulp of hot chocolate and Christian flinched, whipping his head around to look at the older man with wide eyes. After a few coughs, it was understood that Frank had actually started to laugh, which was better than Christian had expected, though it lifted a deeply embarrassed redness to his neck and ears.

Though the Hufflepuff refrained from explaining himself, the truth became evident when he merely stared at the screen the entire time, taken aback if not entirely frightened by the whole thing. It was probably a good thing he didn't look Frank's way again, because it would've created another choking hazard if he had.
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