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Trust To Hope

Chapter 20: Chapter Nineteen

by Novedhelion

Trust To Hope - Chapter Nineteen

Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuil
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Justice served...
Beta Extraordinaire: Riyallyn
Disclaimer: Not mine...and did anyone else notice that Dol Amroth flag in the coronation scene?

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Chapter Nineteen
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“You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance.”
Evie to Beni
The Mummy
*************************


Fenwick glanced around the room, his eyes narrowed. Where could she have gone in such a short period of time? So like her, he thought, to avoid him, leaving him to answer questions as to where his betrothed was hiding. His anger reaching a boiling point, he stalked across the floor and caught Cam by the arm.

“Where is Lothíriel?” he demanded.

Jerking her arm free of his grasp, she glowered at him. “Do not touch me again, Fenwick, if you wish to keep your fingers intact.”

“I want to know where she has gone, Valesa.”

“If you do not speak to me in a civil tone of voice, Mardil Fenwick, you will be wearing yet another goblet of wine!” she answered, teeth clenched. “I suggest if you would like to ask me a question you do so in a polite and proper manner.”

Fenwick glared at the blonde, backing up a step. “My apologies, Valesa,” he offered, not quite sincerely. “I am concerned about Lothíriel. Have you seen her?”

“That is almost polite, Fenwick. Do not hurt yourself, biting your tongue so hard.” His icy stare almost made her giggle. “In answer to your question, the last time I saw her, she was dancing.”

“Dancing with whom?” he demanded rudely.

Cam glared at him, considering his tone. “Find her yourself, Fenwick.” She turned her back to him.

“Valesa, you do not-“

“Is there a problem, Mardil?” Amrothos was suddenly beside the blonde, holding two chalices of wine, his eyebrows raised in question.

Fenwick’s eyes narrowed, but he said nothing. Amrothos stood behind the blonde, his green eyes daring his sister’s betrothed to speak further. Turning on his heel, Mardil disappeared into the crowd.

“What was that about?” Amrothos asked.

“You did not hear?” Cam laughed.

“No, but whatever the topic of discussion, if you were arguing with Fenwick, your end of it had to be right, so...” he shrugged, taking a sip of his wine and grinning at her over the top of the chalice.

“He was looking for Ani. I was not about to tell him she was dancing with the King of Rohan.” She peered over the heads toward the dance floor. “There they are,” she commented, inclining her head in their direction.

Éomer stood tall and straight, gliding over the floor with the princess. The contrast between the two was striking. The king’s hair falling in golden waves, her dark curls brushing her bare shoulders. They moved together gracefully, their eyes locked on each other.

********

Éowyn nudged Faramir beside her. “My brother is dancing with your cousin,” she remarked.

“I thought he was looking for a woman he knew,” Faramir said, watching the dancing couple with interest.

Éowyn smiled, observing her brother’s wide grin. “Yes, a woman named Anhuil, from Belfalas. I guess he decided to make some new acquaintances.”

Faramir’s mouth dropped open, his blue-grey eyes staring at his beloved in shock. “Anhuil? From Belfalas?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Why? You know her?”

“Know her?” Faramir laughed. “He is dancing with her now.”

“I thought you said your cousin's name was Lothíriel.” Éowyn cast him a befuddled look.

The Prince of Ithilien turned to look at her. “Her name is Lothíriel, yes. We call her Ani, or Anhuil. It is a nickname her mother gave her, years ago.” He shook his head, watching his cousin and the king. “Your brother is in serious trouble if he has let that little hoyden steal his heart,” he commented quietly.

*******

Amrothos smiled at Cam. “Now, they make a lovely pair,” he observed casually. “Odd, but they seem quite at ease with one another.”

The blonde at his side returned his smile. “Funny you mention that, Amrothos.”

The young prince looked puzzled for a moment, his brow furrowing in question. Cam continued sipping her wine, smiling contentedly as she let him work through the possibilities and come to the conclusion on his own.

“Him? He is the one?”

Cam nodded. “I suppose he is.”

He slapped his forehead with his palm. “I should have known. She never told me his name, but she did tell me he was a marshal.” He turned his gaze back to the dance floor, taking in the pair. “This could become very interesting,” he muttered, watching as Fenwick approached the couple.

**********
“Pardon me.”

Éomer felt Anhuil stiffen in his arms the instant she heard the voice. He squeezed her hand reassuringly, and turned toward the interloper with a questioning look. “Yes?”

Using the look he commonly threw at subordinates to intimidate them into doing his bidding, Mardil pulled his tunic straight and locked eyes with the king. “Might I be so bold as to ask if I may cut in?”

Éomer nearly bit his tongue in half, but remained placid, his expression neutral. “Are you requesting my permission to ask if you may cut in, or are you asking if you may cut in?” he answered with a polite smile.

Ire rose visibly in Fenwick, the memory of their earlier confrontation in the stable still fresh. His eyes narrowed, one eyebrow slightly raised. “I will rephrase my request,” he stated icily. “May I cut in?” He glanced down at the princess, who held her chin high, unsmiling, at his intrusion.

“No, you may not,” Éomer stated, just as calmly, returning his gaze to the woman in his arms, whose fingernails were digging into the back of his hand.

“Very well,” Fenwick snapped. “I will have plenty of time to dance with her,” he cut his eyes to hers, glaring, “AFTER we are married.” He spun on his heel and left the dance floor.

The princess watched him walk away, her stony glare following his tall form. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“I detest that man,” she said softly.

“I am not overly fond of him myself,” the king agreed. “If he had not left when he did I doubt there would be aught but shreds of flesh remaining on my left hand.” He smiled teasingly at her, turning his hand over to look at the back of it.

Gasping, she tried to pull her hand from his. “I am so sorry, Éomer. I did not mean to-“

“I was teasing, Princess,” he informed her with a chuckle. “I have suffered far worse. I can take your abuse.” She laughed shyly.

The song ended, a livelier one beginning. A polite tap on Éomer’s shoulder caught his attention.

“Begging your pardon, Your Majesty,” the tall, handsome Elf beside him spoke eloquently, bowing graciously to the princess, but with an impish smile. “Your Highness,” he addressed her politely.

“What do you want, Elf? Can you not see I am occupied?” Éomer snapped at him teasingly. The Elf grinned widely.

“Your sister has requested your presence at her table.”

“Tell my sister I am busy,” he remarked, smiling at the princess.

“She insists it is of utmost importance that she speak with you,” the Elf continued. He turned his attention to Anhuil. “Forgive me, Princess. I do not wish to intrude. I am Legolas, of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood.”

“He is a prince, too,” Éomer commented dryly. “Another one who did not bother to tell me that until after I accused him of being a spy of Saruman.”

“A bit suspicious, were you not?” the princess queried. She turned to regard the Elven prince. Blonde hair braided back, he stood tall and straight. The pale blue raw silk tunic he wore over soft grey leggings made his blue eyes look even more so. She smiled conspiratorially at him. “Did he tie you up to question you, too?”

Legolas looked taken aback. “He tied you up?”

“Where did you say my sister was?” the king interrupted.

The Elf indicated the table where Éowyn sat, smiling broadly, with Faramir, and Gimli, but his gaze remained on the princess. He winked at her surreptitiously, and she returned his charming smile. This Elf was up to something.

Éomer looked from Anhuil back to Legolas, who was still standing straight, hands behind his back innocently. “We will be back momentarily, Princess,” he said resignedly.

“Oh, my presence is not required,” Legolas said. “Perhaps the lady would allow me to have one dance, while you are otherwise engaged?” He held out a hand in her direction.

Anhuil chuckled softly. Éomer’s eyes narrowed playfully at the Elf, who was clearly trying to get a rise out of him. “Maer, hiril Eldar,” she said, taking his outstretched hand. “I would like that very much.” She turned to Éomer. “I will be fine. Go and speak to your sister, if it is a matter of such urgency.”

Eyeing Legolas suspiciously, Éomer stepped back. “Watch yourself,” he warned the Elf.

“Aye,” Legolas answered. “I need not worry. I am certain you will be watching myself for me.” With that, he took her other hand and joined the couples on the dance floor.

Shaking his head, Éomer strode over to the table the Elf had indicated. Éowyn was beside herself with laughter, Faramir snickered, his hand over his face, and Gimli roared.

“I canna believe ya fell for that one, laddie,” the dwarf howled, slamming his tankard down on the table.

Plunking down into the seat vacated by the Elf who was now dancing merrily with the princess, Éomer stared at him. “What?” He turned to his sister, who was wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

“Éomer, Legolas bet Gimli that he could get a dance with your princess,” she giggled.

He leaned back in the chair resignedly, a good-natured grin on his face. “I suppose I should have expected this from the likes of you,” he growled at the dwarf.

“Aye, ya should have,” Gimli grinned. “Tis a good thing, being underestimated by one’s opponent. Makes for good sport.” The dwarf held his mug high in salute, then downed the contents.

Shaking his head, Éomer watched as the princess twirled with the tall Elf, laughing. “Don’t you worry yerself,” Gimli said quietly. “He’s only doing it to harass ya. He’s got no designs on your pretty princess.”

“Good thing,” the king remarked dryly. “I would hate to have to take him to task. It might muss his hair.” The two stared at each other a moment, then burst into laughter.

Faramir grinned at him. “So, it is my lovely cousin that has so captured your heart, Éomer King?”

“Captured?” He nodded. “That is a fair assessment of the situation, I should say. Though it would have been much simpler had I known all along who she was.”

“You did not know?” Faramir asked.

“It is a long story, Faramir. Another time I will tell you the whole tale. Suffice it to say she was not exactly forthcoming with that information.” He smiled, watching her dance with the Elf.

“Are you certain you know what you are getting into with her? She is stubborn enough to back down a cave troll, friend.”

“Dare you speak to me of stubborn women? Look beside you, Prince of Ithilien,” he said, gesturing toward his sister. “This woman took down the Witch King of Angmar.”

Smiling adoringly at his beloved, Faramir chuckled. “Yes, but I feel it only fair to warn you. Ani would have backed down Sauron himself but for the bad luck of having three overprotective older brothers in lieu of one.”

“I have seen what she is capable of, Faramir, and I do not fear her.”

“Then you have not seen all she is capable of,” the Prince of Ithilien muttered softly.

*****************

Legolas smiled at the princess. “Lothíriel. Na eneth vain,” he said.

“Hannon le,” she responded, smiling broadly.

“Ceni henia thyrin Eldarin,” he commented, seemingly not surprised.

The princess shrugged. “I had very thorough tutors,” she commented.

“Did he really tie you up?” The Elf asked, his expression incredulous.

Anhuil laughed out loud as the song ended.

“Hannon le, brenníl nín,” he said with a deep bow.

“Glassen, hiril Eldar,” she responded with a polite curtsey, heading off to find Cam.

Fenwick watched from a corner table as she danced first with the King of Rohan and then with the Elvish Prince. The girl at his side prattled on, seemingly unaware that he paid her no heed whatsoever. His eyes followed the princess as she moved across the room and spoke animatedly with her blonde friend and her brother, sipping from a goblet Cam handed her. Her father leaned over her shoulder, whispering to her, and with a nod, she handed the cup back to Cam and followed him to the floor.

“Lothíriel, do you not think you should be spending some time with Mardil?” her father asked as he took her into his arms.

“Ada, I have the rest of my life to spend with Mardil. I am sure he will not begrudge me a little time with friends I rarely see, and perhaps may not see again for some time.”

“I suppose,” Imrahil agreed. They moved in silence for a moment, before the Prince spoke.

“Lothíriel...I wanted to ask you about what happened earlier.” He paused, looking for the right words. “It is not like you to drop an entire chalice of wine, daughter.”

“I know. It just...startled me, that is all.”

“Startled you? Why?”

May as well tell him the truth, she thought. “I have met Éomer before, Ada. He was the marshal of the soldiers of Rohan who aided me and provided me with a horse and escort to Minas Tirith. I had no idea he had become king. It surprised me, that is all.”

“Are you sure that is all there is to it, Lothíriel?” her father asked, looking down at her with one eyebrow raised.

Anhuil paused. She did not like lying to her father, but she dared not tell him the whole truth, either. “I was simply surprised, Ada. Éomer never mentioned being an heir to the throne.”

Imrahil studied his daughter as they danced. As far as he knew, Lothíriel did not make a habit of lying to him, but something in her tone made him wonder if he was getting the full tale. “Éomer?” The prince asked. “You called him by his first name.”

The princess felt her cheeks warm with color and prayed her father didn’t notice. “I meant Lord Éomer, of course,” she responded shakily.

Imrahil nodded silently. His daughter was not one to carelessly forego propriety and he knew it. “Lothíriel, about this marriage to Fenwick...”

“Ada, no,” she said, shaking her head. “I know. All my life, I have known. That is the way of it for us, is it not? Funny how those not in our positions envy us, yet they are the ones with true freedom. What is best for Dol Amroth prevails. I know that Fenwick’s services are needed by our people, and if that is what must be done then so be it. You said yourself that a marriage between our regions would strengthen the ties and help our people better accept his authority in the harbors. You know I will do my duty, whatever that may be.”

“I do not doubt you will, my daughter,” he answered quietly.

“So let us not speak of it further, agreed?” She smiled up at her father. “At least, not this night.”

“At least not this night,” he acceded with a nod, a bit puzzled at her seeming acceptance of the matter.

Mardil approached the pair, knowing her father would not begrudge him cutting in. Speaking politely to Imrahil and flashing the princess his most charming smile, the prince relinquished his hold on her to her fiancé. Her agitation at the intrusion did not go unnoticed by her father.

Éomer watched from the table. Fenwick spoke softly to her, his smirk visible from across the room. Anhuil maintained her posture, shoulders squared, as much distance between them as her short arms would allow. Leaning forward, the dark haired man whispered something to her that made her turn her head quickly. She attempted to pull away from him, but he held her tightly. Éomer tensed, wondering if he should intervene, as she yanked herself free of his embrace and stalked off. Mardil caught her arm and said something that made her glare at him.

He became aware of Éowyn, still ribbing him gently. Legolas approached the table and sat, beaming at him.

“What?” The king asked self-consciously.

“She is lovely, Éomer. Graceful and beautiful, well-spoken and witty. I can see the blood of the Eldar still flows in her family.” He picked up his ale and smiled. "You have chosen well."

The king threw him a wry smile. “Thank you for your approval, Master Elf.”

Legolas laughed out loud, tipping up his own tankard. Setting it down, he looked at the king askance, the roguish smile returning. “You accused her of being a spy as well?”

“He did what?” Éowyn chimed in, her blue eyes wide, and faced her brother. “You did not tell me about that, Éomer.”

“He tied her up,” Legolas stated matter-of-factly, grinning over his cup.

“Tell me you did no such thing!” his sister exclaimed, half horrified and half laughing.

“Surely that is not necessary for a lad like you to keep a lass,” Gimli joked, slapping him on the shoulder.

“I did not tie her up!” Éomer finally blurted out. “In fact, I cut her bonds.”

“Was this before you accused her of being a spy or after?” Faramir piped up.

“I did not...my men...” the king stammered.

“So you had someone else tie her up?” Legolas conjectured.

Gimli grunted into his mug. “Laddie, ya know there are places you can go for that sort of thing,” he offered with a chuckle. He caught Éowyn’s questioning stare. “Or so I hear,” he added quickly, ducking back into his tankard.

Éomer dropped his head into his hand, shaking his head, then rose from the table with soft laugh. “I yield. I am going to find her. With your leave, my friends.” A slight nod of his head and he strode off across the room.

Standing beside the dance floor, he scanned the room for her. “So you are the one,” a voice behind him startled him. “You are the rogue from Rohan who stole my sister’s heart.”

Éomer turned to see Amrothos, the son of his friend Prince Imrahil, staring at him, eyes narrowed. At his side, the tall, lithe blonde smiled knowingly. He knew the young prince as a comrade in arms, and for his part, a friend. The king shook his head. “I concede my guilt,” he admitted, raising both hands in surrender. “But she stole mine first, I assure you.”

“And I am supposed to forgive your inappropriate dalliance with her, un-chaperoned, without leave of her father or brothers, simply because you are my friend and King of Rohan?”

The king shifted nervously under the gaze of the prince. Why did he suddenly feel like a stable boy caught filching sweets from the kitchen? “I promise you, Amrothos, your sister’s honor has not been sullied on my account.”

“What of her reputation, Lord Éomer? A princess of Gondor, marching around the countryside of Rohan, the only woman in an entire company of men? What will the courtiers of Dol Amroth have to say about that, I wonder?”

“Begging your pardon, Amrothos, but if your sister handles courtiers the way she handled an entire contingent of Orcs I daresay they will not cause her much travail.”

“You allowed my sister to fight Orcs?”

“Allowed? Amrothos, how well do you know your sister? Do you think even I could keep her from doing something she is determined to do?”

The two men held each other’s gazes until Cam smacked Amrothos in the chest with the back of her hand. “Stop it!” she fussed. Amrothos broke into a grin, much to Éomer’s relief. “You are terrible, Amrothos. And you are a lousy liar.”

“I take it your sister told you, then?” the king asked him, chuckling with relief.

The young prince shook his head. “Only that there had been someone, but never a name. Ani is very secretive about some things, and entirely too open in others.” Gesturing to the blonde at his side, he grinned. “Forgive my lack of decorum. This is Lady Valesa, daughter of Admiral Merric. She prefers to be called Camwethrin. And Ani tells her everything.”

Éomer turned his gaze to the blonde and bowed politely, taking her hand in his and kissing it lightly. “A pleasure, Lady Camwethrin,” he said. “A valuable ally you may turn out to be.”

“Ani said you were a charmer,” she quipped. Éomer chortled softly, releasing her hand.

“Cam is a bit...candid,” Amrothos told him.

“You say that as if this is a bad thing,” the king stated. “There are far too many who wield a tongue of mithril and never speak their true intent. I am a firm believer in directness. It is a quality I appreciate, my lady. Never apologize for it.”

“I was not the one apologizing,” Cam said with a sideways glance at Amrothos, whose cheeks colored adorably.

The king grinned in appreciation of her wit, and then scanned the room again. “I was searching for your sister, to claim another dance, but I cannot find her.”

Their eyes darted around the room, seeing neither the princess nor Fenwick. Cam’s worried look did not go unnoticed by Éomer. “What?”

“I do not see Fenwick either,” she mentioned quietly. “But I did see her speaking to Gandalf a few moments ago...”

***************

Anhuil was standing near the stone archway that led to the terrace, laughing merrily at something the hobbits had said. Gandalf shook his head slowly. “Hobbits,” he muttered.

A hand on her elbow pulled her slightly back from the group. “Lothíriel, a word, please?” Fenwick cast a glance at the old wizard, who only raised his bushy eyebrows in question.

“Pippin is in the midst of a tale, Fenwick, I do not think-“

He cut her off, speaking to the group. “I will only be a moment...gentlemen...” he said, rather sarcastically.

“Well, see to it you are, and no longer, because the princess promised the next dance to me,” Samwise informed him.

Anhuil grinned at him. “I will be right back, Master Periannath. For both dances promised,” she added with a wink at Pippin.

The young hobbit beamed broadly. “I like her,” he stated, taking a swig of his ale. “She is not too much taller than me!”

Merry smacked him on the back of the head. “Have a care, you dolt! She’s a princess! A little courtesy, if you please!”

Gandalf sighed and rolled his eyes skyward.

***************

Striding off quickly, Éomer found the wizard. “Ah, King of the Mark. If you are seeking a princess, she just stepped outside with one Mardil Fenwick.” He indicated the doorway with a nod of his head.

“How did you...” Gandalf raised is thick eyebrows. Shaking his head, Éomer headed for the door with a nod of thanks.

**************

“What do you want, Mardil?” Anhuil asked irritably, as he led her by the arm out on to the terrace. “That was very rude, taking me from my friends that way. What is so important?”

He led her around a corner to an alcove, still gripping her arm. “Lothíriel, you are to be my wife, and I will not have you behaving the way you have tonight.”

“What in the name of Manwë are you babbling about? I have done nothing!” She jerked her arm free of his grasp and turned to leave.

“Lothíriel, you are my betrothed. Your behavior reflects on me, and tonight it has been abhorrent. I will not have you ignoring me this way, all the while drinking far too much wine and cavorting with every other man here, from that heathen Rohirrim King to Elves, and now those...those...halfwits!”

“You will NOT speak of the periannath that way, Mardil Fenwick! If not for them this land would this day be under shadow, if any of us were still breathing to see it!”

He ignored her. “Even that old wizard!” He gripped both her wrists in one hand, turning her to face him. “You will come with me, sit at my table, and dance with ONLY me. Do you understand, Lothíriel? I will not be made to look the fool!” Fenwick’s steel grey eyes bored into hers.

“You will NOT tell me what to do, Fenwick! You will not tell me what I can drink and with whom I may dance, you pompous little prat!” She struggled to free herself from his grip, but he held her fast.

“You will behave like a proper lady, Lothíriel. No wife of mine will act like a common tavern wench!”

“No, that would be your mistresses! And I am NOT your wife, Mardil Fenwick. Take your hands off me this instant!”

“You will be my wife, Princess, and you will act like it!” He started to raise his other hand as if to strike her.

“Or else what? Are you going to hit me now, Mardil? Go on, then,” she goaded him. His hand lowered, although his iron grip did not relent. “You are a coward! Release me, you son of a-“

“I believe the lady has asked that you remove your hands from her person.” The deep, calm voice came over her shoulder. “I would suggest you do so. If I had to wager on which of you would best the other I would waste no coin on you, Mardil Fenwick.”

“This is no business of yours, Horsemaster,” Fenwick spat back.

“When a lady is being manhandled against her will it becomes my business. Release the lady and apologize.”

“I am telling you to back off, heathen king.” He glowered back at Éomer but held his grip on the princess’ wrists.

“How dare you, Mardil! You will not address him in such a manner!” Anhuil shouted at him, aghast at his impertinence. Éomer gave her a calming look, but it did nothing to abate her anger.

Ignoring her still, his steel gray eyes focused on Éomer. “What goes on between my wife and myself is none of your concern.”

“She is not your wife,” the king stated calmly, stepping toward him.

Fenwick’s grip tightened, causing the princess to wince. “She will be. It is time someone taught her to behave in public. As for how she behaves in private,” he gave Éomer a scathing once over, “I suppose you know far more about that than do I.” He paused, letting the accusation sink in. Éomer did not respond, but clenched his fist at his side. Mardil smirked at him.“Rest assured, Horselord, she will be my wife. And I will make her forget whatever...indiscretions she shared with you!"

"Mardil! How dare you!" Anhuil tried to jerk her arm free of Fenwick's hand.

"Whatever passed between the princess and myself is a matter solely between us, Lord Fenwick. And I will not have you insulting her in such a manner!"

"Insulting her? You dare accuse ME of impugning her reputation after what you did?"

"He did nothing, Fenwick! Let me go!"

"And YOU," he said, directing his attention to the princess, "you are fortunate that I am still willing to marry you, after this little stunt. Do you know what this has done to MY reputation, to have my betrothed run off like that? Do you know the kind of gossip I have had to face? And here you are, openly flirting and dancing with this...with him...in front of all of Gondor! I will not have it, Lothíriel."

"So call it off, Fenwick! Call off the marriage. I care not."

Fenwick laughed, throwing his dark head back. "Oh, you would love that, would you not? NO, Lothíriel. My marriage to you is part of my plan, and you will not get out of it so easily. But you will pay for your betrayal, mark my words."

"That is enough," Éomer snapped, stepping forward. "Release her now. The lady has done nothing to betray you. If you have issue with this then you take it up with me."

Mardil eyed the king for a moment, regarding his powerful build, but he was not one to back down from a challenge. One corner of his mouth turned up slightly. Pulling the princess to him, he kissed her full on the mouth, ignoring her struggles. He grinned down at her wickedly. "Excuse me, darling," he said, shoving her roughly aside as he turned to the king.

Anhuil stumbled back, nearly falling, catching herself against a railing.

Éomer’s dark eyes blazed in the pale light. Before he could even think, the fist clenched at his side met the Fenwick’s jaw, sending him reeling backwards to the stone floor.

*****************

"What is meant to be will always find a way."
- Trisha Yearwood

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Chapter Nineteen
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21 Mar 2004
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21 Mar 2004
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