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The Nine Year Wait
By Trynia Merin

 


The Nine Year Wait

4/8/07

by Trynia Merin

Disclaimer: Lazytown belongs to Lazytown Inc and was created by Magnus Scheving. I'm writing this for entertainment only. I'm only borrowing his characters for a while and this means no harm! Captain Nimrod and Gretchen belong to me!

Author notes: This is a one shot piece that I'm writing to practice a Sporta/Stephanie romance. I hope you like it! WAFF warning!

All those summers she had come, and the few times she had stayed after her father had passed away were times where she most needed him and they'd been there. However, when she had turned 14 everything had changed. Her mother remarried, and her stepfather had moved to Philadelphia. Stephanie found it harder to make it out to see Lazytown during the summers. The last time she had come for the summer was when she was 16.

Sportacus and the others had not seen her for two whole years. Now she was looking at colleges and had been admitted to Intellectual City's four-year college on a field hockey scholarship. Nevertheless she intended to study voice and dance. Her voice and dancing had earned her places on stage in New York and other productions. The latest had been a travelling production of Les Miserables where she substituted for Eponine. Her friends called her the pink songbird, and she had let her hair grown long and lustrous. What little makeup she had on today was just enough to enhance the curve of her face.

A new generation of children needed to be kept from trouble. At least five or six. Trixie and Stingy were going steady, and Ziggy was still discovering the world of dating himself. Pixel had a girl that he was interested in the next town, Whisperville named Priscilla or Cilla for short who liked computers as much as he did. Everyone seemed to be getting together except her.

Now as she was getting ready to move into her uncle's home for college she had run into her friends who had brought all sorts of congratulations gifts? They had then gone onto their usual business before the small celebration that Miss Busybody was holding for Stephanie. A longtime friend of hers, Gretchen Lidenbrock sat with Stephanie around the kitchen table. Both of them leafed through photos from Stephanie's album. For at least three years, Stephanie had come to live full-time in Lazytown when her parents had gone missing. However, it turned out her mother was alive although her father had not survived the plane crash. At the age of 14 Stephanie left Lazytown to live with her mother and new stepfather, leaving her friends behind.

Sportacus and Gretchen had dated for a few years, but the gold ring on Miss Lidenbrock's finger said things had changed. A letter that had been folded and crinkled told the story and Stephanie laughed as she looked through more of the pictures.

"You look so good in that dress," Gretchen smiled.

"I remember your wedding dress," said Stephanie with a smile. She gently nudged Gretchen's hand and the two of them giggled.

"My husband was so nervous when he stood at the altar that Sportacus was sure that he would drop the ring," said Gretchen.

"I can't believe you've been married for three years already," said Stephanie with a grin. "But I thought you were going back to Germany."

"My liebling passed on his position to my brother, and we moved back here. He takes care of Whisperville and Eaglecrest town, remember?" Gretchen reminded her.

"Any kids?"

"As a matter of fact," Gretchen said with a slight smile.

"That's just the thing, you and Sportacus I thought you would get together. I always wondered what changed your mind…"

"Sportacus was someone I grew to love. But in opening myself up to him I realized there was another that I had loved just as much for so many years. But because I was too young I was afraid to let him now my feelings. He and I were only ten years apart in age but it might as well have been centuries," she chuckled.

"And now you're Mrs. Lidenbrock-Nimrod?" she asked. "That's a mouthful."

"He had seen the woman I had grown into, and loved me. All the years when I was teaching and at school, he wished he could look past the little girl in the durndel. Then when he and Sportacus worked together on that one disaster that happened in Reykjavik, several heroes were trying to save Sportacus village from a lava flood. Captain Nimrod and my brother worked together with Sportacus 10…"

"When I thought that both of them were gone, I wasn't sure what to think. I had gone after them knowing when the eruption would happen. However, the course was diverted and I just had to get there to tell them. Fortunately, I was saved before the lava reached me. But when I saw the look on his face when he held me in his arms… I realized he had loved me all along. And I never gave him a chance because I figured he'd always see me as a child," Gretchen murmured.

A knock sounded at the door, and she stood up. Stephanie moved over to answer it and saw two figures standing behind it. Tall and thin, the angular figure wearing a broad brimmed hat with a feather tucked into it dropped a bow. His sharp nose and hazel eyes gave him the appearance of a hawk, his graying curly hair pulled into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. Strung over his back were both a compound bow unstrung and a crossbow with a quiver. The tails of his anachronistic coat came to his knees, his red vest sewed with rose buttons and floral trim to the pockets. Black pants were tucked into the tops of knee length boots, giving him the appearance of a pirate with a modern flair. That graceful beard under the slicked moustache added dignity. The buckle of his bandoleer strap was rectangular and glittered with a Roman numeral VIII across it.

"A bouquet of flowers for the young woman who's graduated!" Captain Nimrod himself said, dropping a bow and grabbing Stephanie's hand to kiss it. He doffed his hat and Stephanie opened the door.

"Thank you," Stephanie giggled. "They're very pretty!"

"Liebling what are you doing HERE? I thought you'd meet me at the get together later!" Gretchen gasped as she rose from her chair and stood by a rather amused Stephanie.

"I happened to be visiting someone ELSE who gave me a ride here. Someone ELSE who knows that this lovely lady is home for the summer," Captain Nimrod said in a crisp German accent.

Stepping aside the German hero revealed someone else. Behind him stood a slightly shorter figure in snug blue and white striped sports gear. The vest with the number 10 emblazoned on the back was hooked together with a badge holding a crystal and a number 10. The second cast a pair of crystalline blue eyes and smiled under his moustache. He carried a basket of sports candy.

"Stephanie!" Sportacus laughed, a smile splitting his face. Rushing through the door he swept her up and swung her around.

"Sportacus! Where were you HIDING! I was wondering if you'd left!" Stephanie laughed, hugging him tightly around the neck. Like a banner her pink hair swept out in a half arc as they hugged. Captain Nimrod strode over and slid his arm around his wife's waist, watching the two of them reuniting.

"You really didn't have to chase me," Gretchen blushed.

"I enjoy the hunt, liebchen. You know that."

"So it was YOU who kept Sportacus busy till Stephanie unpacked! And she thought he was away on a mission elsewhere!" she slapped his velvet sleeve.

"Mmm, she's very surprised," he whispered.

Sportacus held onto Stephanie with one arm around her waist, and with his other hand clutched the basket wrapped in silver and blue cellophane. Stephanie still clung to the bouquet of white roses that the Captain had given her as she felt herself crushed to Sportacus chest.

"You tricked me!" she pouted as Sportacus set her down. "Uncle said you flew your airship on a mission with the Captain and…"

"I couldn't resist the look on your face Stephanie," Sportacus blinked. "Happy Graduation."

"Thank you," she said taking the basket of fruit. Setting it down on the table, she carried the flowers in. "I need to put these in water…."

"Allow me," Gretchen said, taking the bouquet as the Captain took the fruit and placed it near the other gifts left there.

"It was his idea," the Captain said smoothly, setting his hat under his arm and inclining his head to Sportacus.

"But you were the one who kept an eye on things for the RIGHT moment," said Sportacus back to his former teacher.

"You have lots to catch up on. We'll see you later at the graduation party," Gretchen said as she hugged Stephanie.

"But you two can stay…"

"Oh no, we have intruded enough," the Captain winked. He gave Sportacus a meaningful look, which made the sports elf a bit nervous. Kissing Stephanie's hand the Captain left as Sportacus gave Gretchen an affectionate hug. Then both of them waved goodbye and exited the door. Oddly enough, the chestnut brown horse standing near the house did not surprise Stephanie. Nor did the hovering skychaser.

"Wow, I can't believe it's been two years," Sportacus said as Stephanie closed the door. "You've gotten taller!"

"And you're still wearing your hat indoors," Stephanie teased him. "Captain Nimrod knew to take his off!"

"Well the Mayor never complained," said Sportacus. "But if you insist."

"Only if you want to," Stephanie said with her eyes a bit wide. "I was only kidding."

"Welcome back Stephanie. I wish I could have been to your graduation,” he said quickly. Her heart pounded in her chest despite her effort to slow it down.

"I know I live miles away from here by train. I would have loved you to come. But with all the pictures and such it was hard to tear myself away," she murmured. She wandered in the kitchen, grabbing the pitcher of ice tea out of the fridge.

"Do you want some help?"

"Why don't we have some iced tea… and I'll catch you up," Stephanie said.

"Unsweetened I hope," Sportacus said, reaching for two glasses out of the top shelf. He placed them down while Stephanie poured two glasses, then turned to get ice from the freezer. Soon they were sitting at the table looking through her photo album. Sportacus pulled his chair so he sat next to her and could look more closely at the pictures by leaning over one shoulder. Seeing she was suddenly so serious, Sportacus gave a small smirk. Reaching around her he suddenly grabbed a piece of fruit and shoved it in her face.

"HEY!" Stephanie giggled.

"I bet you can't get this lovely piece of sports candy away!" he grinned.

"Oh really?"

"I double dare you!" he grinned.

Stephanie laughed as Sportacus his hand snaked out to snatch it away. Hefting his hand above his head, he chuckled to see her straining on tiptoes to grab for it. Slightly he angled his arm, feeling her hand grab his shoulder so she could push down and leap again. Then he spun out of the way, twirling around to twist his arm holding the fruit behind his back. To the left she dodged, then the right, trying to catch up with him.

"You are going to get it, Sportacus!” she panted. Mischievously his blue eyes twinkled. They wrestled with the fruit a bit more, and Gretchen did not stop to think that she was actually enjoying physical activity. It was all a silly innocent game.

“Thought I'd get you moving… hah!" Sportacus laughed glee in his handsome features.

“Come BACK here with that!” she gasped, and then lunged forwards. Slightly turned to the side Sportacus leapt out the way. Then she whirled around to charge him again. Although he sidestepped, she accidentally stepped in his way, tangling her foot around his booted one. A solid muscular leg clad in spandex landed against hers, and she found herself loosing balance.

“Whoops,” he said. His arm shot out to grab her around the waist as she shot forwards toward the table. The last thing he wanted was for her to slip and crash into the table or counter.

“Hey give me that you!” she yelped, snatching at the pear again when he held his arm way to the side and still held her at his hip with his other hand. Reaching around she grabbed his muscular arm. Both their chests pressed together so the warmth of their bodies became apparent. For his part Sportacus appeared just as surprised as she, for his hot breath drifted into her face. Caught against his body she stopped with shock. No sooner had she grabbed his arm then Sportacus accidentally let go of the fruit. He dodged down to rescue it at the same time she did. They tripped over one another's legs, Sportacus leaning back for the apple and thrusting his body forwards like a volleyball player making a save.

“I've got it,” he gasped. Simultaneously Stephanie lunged forwards.

His fist closed around the pear, but the floor crashed hard and cold under his back. He had landed easily enough, realizing instinctively that she was going to fall. Rather then let her hit the floor he had broken her nasty spill with his own body. That explained why he had a soft warm girl in his arms. Soft breasts pressed tightly to a well-muscled chest, the lump of his numeral 10 badge digging into her throat.

“I told you I'd get it,” he answered. Confusion filled his blue eyes to see her blushing awkwardly. The tips of her toes just hit his ankles while he cocked his head up to peer into her surprised face. On either side of his cheeks her pink hair hung down like a curtain. Her body stiffened. Unconsciously his left hand wrapped around her waist to hold her but it would not' let go.

“Whoops guess I need to work on my dance routine,” she grunted, gently pushing up from him with a hand on the floor and the other braced on his chest. Her other hand slipped and brushed past his cap and goggles.

“No harm done. I'm not hurt and you don't seem hurt, so why worry?” he asked. For a moment, she enjoyed the feel of his body spread beneath hers. He was not that much taller then she, perhaps a bit more then average height for a human male. Every muscle was economized and solidly built, for his frame and stature.

“You didn't have to take a dive for that sports candy! I bought plenty at the market,” she spluttered.

Effortlessly he sat up, angling her with him so she sat on one muscled thigh. Still she blushed, unable to will herself to move because she fluttered between embarrassment and desire. She did not want to get up just yet because Sportacus had yet to complain about her sitting practically in his lap. Was he that oblivious to what this seemed to be? To make matters more awkward he handed her the pear nonchalantly with a polite smile. On the floor lay his hat and goggles, and she saw his short hair falling lazily around his handsome face. Without the cap, he looked younger still, his slightly pointed ears lost in the lengthening bangs. The back was partly shaved, but the hair on top was slightly long and the bangs hid his forehead like his goggles had done.

"I did get carried away but you were having so much fun I didn't want to spoil it," he said letting go of her hand. She looked away with a slight pink flush coming over her freckled skin. He had seen her up close, staring into dark brown eyes that gleamed. Having grown her pink hair out of its bob, Sportacus had to agree that Stephanie's face was nicely framed by it.

“You sure you are okay, Stephanie?” he asked her. Worry crossed his face, wrinkling his brows over the blue eyes she could not tear her gaze from.

"Yes. I am not hurt or anything," she said quickly. Part of her was waiting to see if he even noticed how close they were together, or if he even understood what was the natural progression of a man accidentally having a woman in his arms so close to him. Would he continue to see her as a girl, or would he notice that she was a woman?

"We can't be too careful with a fall like that, Stephanie," he murmured absently, trying to steady the pulse that suddenly was racing.

He threw her other arm around his neck, and then clasped his arms under her back and knees. With no effort, he stood up with her cradled in his arms before setting her on her feet again. Being so close to a woman, a human woman gave him small shivers that were much like the rush he got from working out. Not to mention his pulse rate and breathing were matching when he loved to move. Nevertheless, how could he get such symptoms of a hard workout from standing still? He had danced with Stephanie many times since the summers she had visited. Now that she had graduated from high school and gotten a driver's license, she had not always come back here to Lazytown.

"Sportacus, here's your hat," she said, pointing down.

"Whoops, how did THAT come off," he muttered. Stephanie leaned over and grabbed the cap before he could, then held it out to him. Sportacus reached over and took it from her shyly, his hands brushing hers.

"Thanks," he nodded. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Shivering she bit into the pear. “No harm done. I'm not bruised and neither is the fruit,” she blurted out. Sportacus panted and nodded, still giving her that curious confused look that she found adorable. Tucking his cap and goggles into a pocket of his vest for a change, he flashed her a winning smile.

“Good I'm glad you like them. I only pick the best you know," He said. Pulling out the chair, he helped her sit down again and look at the album once more.

Her face flushed as she thought of the high school prom. Pixel had stepped in when her date had broken up with her, and she was grateful to him. He had spent the night at her place then left the following day. Although she knew he had feelings for her, she had been torn up after her last boyfriend Kevin had broken it off.

"Something wrong, Stephanie?" Sportacus asked, reaching up to brush a piece of hair behind one ear.

"I can't fool you for a minute can I?" she sighed, and then settled into a chair. Sportacus turned the nearest one around and sat straddling it. His feet bounced a bit despite his best effort to stop them from moving. At this, Stephanie blushed.

"You must have heard from Pixel about the prom," she guessed. Sportacus nodded.

"I saw the picture of you and Pixel as I walked in. You make a nice couple," he said.

"Well he's sweet but I just… damn," Stephanie murmured, wiping away a tear.

"You can tell me anything," Sportacus said softly, reaching out to take her hand.

"His name was Kevin. He was supposed to take me to the prom, not Pixel. I was singing a few of the songs with the band. I think Kevin got jealous of some of the attention the fans were giving me when I was at the rehearsals. Because two weeks before he broke up with me, and I was stuck with two tickets…"

"I'm sorry," Sportacus said, squeezing her had that lay on the table.

"Well, it got worse," she muttered biting into another apple violently. She swallowed hard, then glanced back into the concerned face of her lifelong friend.

"How worse? Did he hurt you in any way?" Sportacus asked. The protective gleam in his blue eyes made her heart skip beats, but she tried not to show it.

"Sportacus, don't kill him or put snakes in his bed! He took another girl to the prom, that's all. I figured he wouldn't want to miss the most important night of his life," she grumbled.

"Had he been seeing her all along?"

"I heard some of my friends talking. My best friend Stacey felt horrible because she and Carlie had seen Kevin last summer with a girl named Celia. And Celia worked as a lifeguard at the pool where Kevin did. It's only natural that he probably went to her when I was not… good enough for him…"

"Stephanie that's ridiculous! Don't you dare ever say that! If anything YOU were too good for him!" Sportacus growled. She blinked in surprise at the sound from his throat.

"That's sweet of you, but what he said still hurts. I'm glad that Pixel was there, because he made sure I laughed and had fun. And Kevin and Celia were slow dancing right in front of all of us. Especially when I had to sing the slow dance numbers."

"I don't think I care for this man. If you brought him here, I don't think even Robbie Rotten would like him," said Sportacus darkly.

"Robbie Rotten? Come on," she laughed.

"Well he HAS seen pictures of you in his sneaking around. And I have seen him mumble something about 'Pinkie's grown up'," Sportacus said softly. "I caught him trying to steal a picture from this home of you at your Sweet Sixteen party."

"You're kidding me," she said, giving him a shove across the table.

"You've grown up nicely," he murmured, looking at her. Still he clasped her hand and his eyes searched her face for something that made Stephanie feel hot blood flushing in her cheeks. Grabbing his hand and giving it a soft kiss, she murmured thanks.

"You're welcome."

"I ate my sports candy and did my workouts," she teased.

"Good. Wouldn't have expected any less," Sportacus nodded. "I know this sounds rather silly but if Pixel couldn't have taken you, you could have asked me."

"You're kidding me," Stephanie laughed. "You wouldn't want to spend time with a bunch of kids!"

"I did here," Sportacus returned, pretending to look hurt.

"I mean teenagers," she answered.

"Well I know it's a bit late, but I figured you should know I was willing to, as a friend," said Sportacus.

"It would have been sweet of you," she smiled. "Always coming to my rescue."

"That's my job," Sportacus nodded with a sweet smile that made Stephanie melt inside. Something came over her and she leaned over. Softly she pecked his cheek and then leaned back in her chair.

"Thank you, Sportacus," she whispered. Reaching up Sportacus touched his cheek where she had kissed it, rubbing at the oily substance.

"Oops, that's lipstick," Stephanie groaned, reaching for a napkin. She rubbed at his cheek but Sportacus chuckled.

“Your face always lights up when you smile Stephanie. It's good to see again,” Sportacus said.

"So does yours," she said, looking shyly away. "I um… I…"

"What's wrong Stephanie?" he asked. "Now you're off in left field again."

"I just feel guilty I hadn't been here for two years. I never told you about Kevin," she said.

"You DID write me often enough," said Sportacus. "I've kept all your letters."

"You have?" she blinked.

"I've put them into a scrap book like this one," he said. "But you look like you could use something else after all this time."

"What?"

"I haven't given you a proper hug since you came. And you owe me," he teased. Standing up they both walked into each other's arms.

Sportacus was a bit surprised at the sudden kiss on his cheek but a hug was something he understood. After all, he hugged Stephanie all the time and she was his best friend. So when he slid his arms around her and returned the hug, she laid her head against his shoulder. It felt good to be held by the sports elf, even if he was doing it out of a need of platonic comfort. He quite liked the way her hand slid around and stroked his shoulders and her hot breath fanned his sensitive earlobe. As good as it felt when Stephanie hugged him as a child; having a full-grown woman hold him in her arms was extremely pleasant.

"You smell different, Stephanie," he murmured, then hit himself for that stupid crack.

"You always smell like the outdoors, and fresh air, like the sort you breathe when skiing," she answered. Safe and comfortable in his arms she pushed away memories of Kevin. She tried to fight the tears on her face. Feeling her tense, Sportacus looked down and pulled back.

"It's all right to cry," he said, noticing her tears.

"I'm a big girl," she said. "It's nothing."

"Don't play THAT kind of game with me Stephanie. I know you too well," Sportacus said, cupping her face in his hand.

"He… he called me a band slut. I mean what sort of a jerk would… I mean it's not MY fault I like to dance and sing!" Stephanie sniffled bitterly.

"That man was an idiot," Sportacus snorted. "Hardly a man, just a boy. He did not deserve a woman… I mean a young lady like you," he said brushing her cheek lightly with the back of his hand. Stephanie caught the slip, and swallowed hard. Her eyes focussed on his, and she realized that in all the years she had known Sportacus he had not aged a day. Still he looked young and strong as he did ten years ago when they'd first met.

"Thank you," she said softly.

Sportacus smiled at her sweetly, his blue eyes fixing directly into hers. "I wouldn't say it if it weren't true, Stephanie. I HAVE missed you."

Undone, she swallowed hard and squeezed him tightly. Sportacus held her close, rubbing her back and pressing soft kisses to her temple. Breathing deeply Stephanie lifted her face and peered into his eyes that she could lose herself in forever. Sportacus wiped away the tears with his strong callused fingertips. He seemed to be waiting again for something. Just what Stephanie did not know? Old feelings that she had long sealed away bubbled up when she saw the concern in Sportacus' face. That way in which he slightly frowned and creased his brow tugged at her memory because that same expression graced his face when he saw Robbie Rotten trying to sabotage her dance. So long ago it had been that it seemed worlds away and yet Sportacus looked the same as her memories told her.

Stephanie slid her hand at the back of his head while lightly pushing the bangs out of his face with her other hand. Sportacus arms wrapped around her waist securely. She realized she didn't have to lean up on tiptoes to look into his face for her lips reached just at the level of his collarbone and her eyes at the level of his lips. Then her left hand reached down to grasp his shoulder while she quickly leaned up and hung hard by the hand around his neck. Blue eyes widened with surprise at the contact of her soft lips against his firmly. For a full minute of shock he stood stiffly, letting Stephanie's mouth move across his and his moustache tickled her lips. Then it registered that it was Stephanie kissing him and pressing her soft breasts into his hard muscular chest. The very same little girl who had once idolized him now worshipped him not with words but loving caresses. The force she put into that desperate tight squeeze around his neck told him she was afraid.

Just as he fell into the kiss and responded, Stephanie pulled back. Shock and shame filled her face and Sportacus thought she was going to burst into tears again. She seemed to try to pull away, but his arms did not want to release her. Grasping her tightly he pulled her against his chest and leaned down to kiss her back. Stephanie's shocked squeal was lost in Sportacus strong mouth claiming hers. Leaning backwards a bit, Sportacus let Stephanie's neck rest on his hand and his other wrapped around her waist to caress the small of her back. Long locked away desires poured into his kiss, trying to tell Stephanie that he did not want her to run away or be frightened of the realization of her dreams.

Stephanie jolted in shock, realizing that Sportacus was kissing her with all the grace and passion of an adult. Was she more terrified that he did not pull away then her fear of him rejecting the one kiss? He felt her pushing against him and let her go their mouths parting and Stephanie breathing hard with a dazed look in her brown eyes.

"Oh my gosh," Stephanie stammered.

"Didn't I do that right?" he asked innocently enough. Stephanie blinked her head spinning and her knees growing weak.

"I thought you'd think I was a silly girl… I…" she stammered.

"Shh, it's all right," he hushed her, pressing a kiss to her brow. "I'd be blind not to notice that you're a beautiful lady, Stephanie. And if you do not want this, please tell me now. I do not want to frighten you or push you…"

"You want me…" Stephanie gasped. Sportacus nodded and gave her a serious piercing gaze.

"I have missed you, Stephanie. And the thought of someone hurting you like that boy did just proved that this is right. This feels right. Unless you do not' feel the same way," he said with a helpless look.

"All this time I was so scared that you'd just pat my head and push me away like I'm a kid and that you were too old for me," she whispered.

"You're 18 Stephanie. A woman, and a beautiful one at that. And the last thing I want is to see you hurt. I wanted so badly to protect you, keep you here. Now that you're back, I'm afraid… that…that…"

"Sportacus, you're scared?"

"That if you leave again I will never see you again, Stephanie," Sportacus whispered. "You probably noticed I haven't changed much while you've blossomed. I was afraid that if you knew that I did not age like… others did… that you would not want…"

"I've waited and dreamed many times that you'd take me in your arms and kiss me like this," she whispered placing her forehead to his chin. "And now that you have…."

"Are you disappointed?"

"It's far better then I ever could have imagined," she chuckled, feeling happiness flood her body. She leaned her head against his shoulder and felt his heart beating against hers. Yet the fear still permeated. Suddenly Kevin and her life in the other state seemed so far away and gone. Brown eyes sparkled with that same light Sportacus remembered as a child.

"So, would you do me the honor of letting me take you to your graduation party?" Sportacus asked, offering his elbow to her.

"I'm hardly dressed for it!"

"I'll wait," Sportacus said. "If you want to go get changed now we can go over together. Or would you rather come with Trixie and…"

"I'll only be a half hour or so," Stephanie assured him. She leaned up and kissed his lips again, and he inhaled her unique scent. Then she rushed into the hallway to the room she used when she had visited all those years.

 

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