Harry awoke to find that he had slept well past the afternoon. "What an unproductive start to the day," he mused to himself as he laboriously swung his legs over the bed and stood up ever so slowly. He wasn't entirely healed yet. The bones were still working on recovering and the bruises still ached, but he felt much better. He definitely endured far worse in the past.

Creeping out of his room to soothe the rumbling in his stomach, Harry was greeted by the peaceful sound of a familiar tune. It had been a while since he heard it – that melancholic melody Bellatrix once played.

It enticed him once again. Harry found himself following the noise towards the study. When he made it down the three flights of stairs, he leaned against the frame of the doorway, eyeing her with curiosity. Her fingers danced gracefully along the keys, producing that same enchantment that somehow soothed him. It brought Harry back to one of their first few days together. It made him think about how different things were from where they had started out. Once upon a time, he absolutely despised her. Perhaps more than Voldemort himself. She was, by all definitions, the craziest and most insane woman he had ever encountered in his life. He admitted to being stricken by her beauty upon first meeting her, but the fear she instilled in him overcame any attraction. He was sure that at the end of this whole prophetic battle, one of them would end up dead. However, this outcome, he couldn't imagine even in his wildest dreams.

It was all thanks to Sirius' will, as significant a turning point in his life as the day his parents were murdered, that Harry now found himself here. Harry absolutely resented his situation and only did so out of respect and love for Sirius. He could have bet that his godfather wasn't expecting his dear cousin to be the one to end his life. Although, from what little Harry had gathered from the brief history of Black family politics, the two were never really fond of one another so it made one wonder…

Regardless, the result of the will birthed something remarkably strange and unexplainable. Something… clicked between the boy who lived and the infamous Bellatrix Lestrange. It was, at first, purely animalistic and primal desire. She was undeniably stunning, a forbidden fruit, a dark and evil goddess in her own right. Truly, Harry had no idea what drew her to him. He was both revolted and intrigued by her – understandably so. Meanwhile, the witch found him a new toy to play with and a challenge to break. She figured, if she were to spend time locked in a house with Harry Potter of all people, perhaps till the last of her days, she might as well have some fun with it. That is what this all began as.

Somewhere along the line, after hatred and lust mingled together for a while, there came a sort of intrigue, then acceptance, then a certain fondness, and recently, trust. Now, they shared witty banter, enjoyed the other's company, and on occasion, looked out for each other. Harry recalled his whole birthday fiasco and how he somehow, miraculously, found himself fearing the thought of losing her. He could have easily let the Wizengamot take her and never hear the name Bellatrix Lestrange again but something compelled him to fight for her. It didn't have anything to do with that lust that once burned inside him. No, they had grown far beyond that somehow. Harry and Bellatrix were a step above tolerating each other. Sure, he went on and off with his resistance and acceptance of the fact, but now, as he stood there, watching her, he couldn't deny it. Despite her daily annoyances, Harry could not bring himself to hate her no matter how hard he tried. If he was completely honest, Harry felt drawn to her instead. He could only wonder what that meant for his feelings towards her.

Harry recalled once admitting that he liked her once, but looking back on it, he wondered what exactly he meant by it. Did he like her physically or as a person? He was in fairly deep with Bellatrix Lestrange - he acknowledged this and yet chose to ignore the consequences and play it by ear instead. It had worked so well for him in the past. While he wasn't sure exactly what he felt for her, the confused young wizard couldn't help but wonder. How did she feel about him? It couldn't possibly be hatred after she went out of her way to send him to St. Mungo's and get answers from Draco. But was their relationship to the point of something more affectionate, more definitively romantic? A strong part of him wanted to know but a stronger part of him feared the answer because he wasn't sure which would be worse – her liking him or still hating him.

However, he didn't take into account what Bellatrix wanted. They never really sat down and 'talked about their "feelings" together. Undoubtedly, Bella would scoff at the idea and Harry would be plain uncomfortable with it. They would never admit to harboring anything for each other – whether it was for sake of pride or their history, he couldn't be sure. Bellatrix conveniently behaved civilly with him, joked with him, and willingly spent time with him. He could be overthinking it, but it seemed they were both stuck in this sort of 'I tolerate you and your company isn't unwanted' state. While Harry wasn't sure of himself… he yearned to know what she felt towards him. Perhaps then he'd understand his own affections.

"Are you going to say something or just stand there gawking at me all night, Harry?"

"W - What?" he stammered, recovering himself. "I wasn't gawking!" He wasn't sure how long it had been since Bellatrix stopped playing, or when exactly she had turned around to face him. She smirked slightly.

"Perhaps it was my imagination then," she responded with a shrug. There was a brief silence, as Harry weighted his words.

"Hey, Bellatrix, "I never got the chance to uh… thank you."

"For what?" Harry found it somewhat endearing that she didn't know what she had done. It was as though it just came instinctively to her.

"For making me go to St. Mungo's. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you actually care for me." He teased. She scoffed in response.

"In your dreams, Potter."

"Fair enough. Anyhow, I'm going out." Bella turned around in her seat to this news only to see that Harry was pulling a black trench coat out of the coat closet

"And where are you heading to now?"

"Should I update you on my whereabouts at all times? Last I checked, it's me that should be keeping an eye on you." Bella stood up and walked over to him, grabbing the jacket from his hands.

"Come now, if you're so thankful to me for sending you, tell me." Harry made an attempt for the jacket but was too slow for Bellatrix who quickly skirted out of the way. "You can do better than that, surely." He tried and failed again. "Defeated by your elder, a shame. How you overcame Lord Voldemort is beyond me." He attempted once more only to grab at air again when she draped it over her shoulder.

"Bellatrix! Come on, I have to look into this!"

"Ah, so that's what it is. You're going to look into what happened that night."

"If you must know, yes," he said with a defeated sigh as he reached for the coat closet to look for something else to wear rather than fight Bellatrix all night. She slammed the door shut soon as he opened it and tossed him the jacket.

"Well, alright. But if you return with broken bones again I'm not fixing you up," she stated with a shrug. Insulted by this, Harry threw on his jacket and crossed his arms over his chest.

"I was caught off guard. I can handle myself."

"Yes, yes, I'm sure you can. But just in case, take me along."

"I'm telling you I don't need your protection. Besides, you don't even have a wand."

"I don't need a wand to be dangerous. And to be quite honest with you, this isn't a matter of protecting you," she said with a light pat on his cheek. "I just want to go out. I need a drink and a change of scenery."

"No. You went out last night," Harry replied curtly.

"Ah, but you see this time I'm asking permission," she said with a pointed finger before grabbing a hooded robe from the coat closet. "Come now. You owe me." Before Harry could respond, Bella was already headed towards the fireplace. He sighed, massaging his temples with his thumb and index finger. She had a point… he did owe her. Besides, he recalled that challenge – to get to know the woman behind the sarcasm, bitterness, and anger. There was one there and Harry, admittedly, wanted to get to know her.

"What exactly do you expect to find?" Bellatrix asked as they sneaked around through back alleys. It was a Sunday evening. Witches and wizards would be out and about tonight with friends and family, more than they would be on a weekday. They had to play It safe.

"Honestly, not sure. Just going to wing it," he replied with a shrug as they walked.

"Wing it?" Bella questioned incredulously, stopping to looking at him with a raised brow. Harry stopped as well and gave her a nod. "Has 'winging it' worked for you in the past?" He chuckled at this.

"The past few years of my life have been winging it. You think an eleven-year-old boy with no knowledge of magic had any idea what he was doing going off against one of the most dangerous wizards of all time?"

"Hmm, you make a good point." She said before continuing her stroll. Harry followed suit.

"Actually, that reminds me. I have a question for you." She hummed in response, urging him to continue. "Voldemort wasn't able to kill me with the killing curse because my mother protected me. But I wonder… why use magic at all? I was only an infant he easily could have killed me in some other way, right?" Bellatrix cackled at this, a whole-hearted one. Harry couldn't help but think that, while he once found the sound to send chills down his spine, it somehow pleased him to hear now.

"Oh, I have wondered that too many times." She said, wiping away a tear. "I told him once that he could have easily tossed you out a window and be done - no more Harry Potter. But no, too much pride. What kind of wizard would he be if he couldn't kill an infant with a spell? Besides, it's more dramatic." Harry laughed this time.

"He always needed flair." They continued walking in silence, a slight distance between them. Bellatrix was lost in her thoughts for a moment, thinking of her old master and how ironic it was that her once unwavering trust in Lord Voldemort now rested in Harry Potter. If she thought hard about it, she could vaguely recall the hatred and animosity she held towards The Boy Who Lived. It dawned on her now that her only real quarrel with Harry was that he was the enemy of her master, and therefore her enemy. She never really knew more than the name. When she first put a face to him, she had to admit, he didn't look like a challenge. He was just a boy. 'How hard could it be to kill him – this scrawny, four-eyed, half-blood?' she remembered pondering to herself one night. Apparently, very. "We're here."

Bellatrix was pulled out of her thoughts and glanced up at the rickety sign over the building. "The Hog's Head?"

"I have a feeling the man who tried to kill me the other day may be behind this. It makes sense right?" She shrugged and entered the rickety building. Harry was smarter than she gave him credit for. The Hog's Head was a good place to start. 'Rodolphus always did love his drunk,' she mused to herself as she took a seat in one of the further darker corners of the establishment. Meanwhile, Harry headed towards the heavily bearded, grey-haired man behind the bar.

"Look who's returned – Harry Potter." A few slumped heads turned to get a look. Harry greeted the old man with a small smile as he seated himself on one of the stools. It still blew him away how much he reminding him of the late headmaster of Hogwarts. His long wispy hair flowed down his face as did his beard. The only feature Harry could really make out in the dim lighting were his eyes – piercing blue orbs peering at him behind dirtied lenses.

"Good to see you again, Aberforth." The aged wizard leisurely began pouring him a warm tankard of Butterbeer.

"What brings you to these parts, son? Heard there was a bit of a skirmish here the other day." He mentioned knowingly.

"Word travels fast."

"If it's about The Boy Who Lived, you can bet the news will race to every corner of the wizarding world." Harry chuckled softly at this as Aberforth set a mug of beer in front of him.

"It's a pain in the arse to be honest with you." Harry replied with a touch of humour before chugging down the sweet drink.

"Hmph, I'm sure." Aberforth's eyes scanned the pub, looking past Harry before returning to him. "I see you brought Lestrange with you." Harry choked on his drink.

"Wait, what? No that's – "

"Please, boy, try not to hide it. I have too many years to be fooled. I saved you from that woman after all." Aberforth interrupted with a knowing look, daring Harry to deny it. He didn't and instead took a long swig from his drink to fill the silence that filled the air. "I won't ask why you're with her nor do I care to know." Aberforth continued, "However, it is certainly a strange alliance."

"You're telling me…" Harry mumbled under his breath.

"Well, regardless, it's none of my concern. So I won't utter a word of it." Harry smiled gratefully.

"Thank you, that's a relief." The old wizard raised a hand to the young man as if to dismiss his gratitude.

"But really, why are you here?"

"I'm looking for someone." Harry answered simply. Aberforth didn't take long to figure out 'someone' was the attacker.

He stroked his long grey beard thoughtfully before speaking, "That man has come in a few times – always just as disheveled as when he first came in. There's not much else I know. He keeps to himself and remains hidden. Haven't seen anything more than a dark beard on him."

"You never thought to try and get a good look at him? Was he not suspicious?"

"No. Why would I? Have you seen my patrons?" he said as he held out a long arm, pointing towards the few guests behind them. "They prefer their privacy." Harry turned his head and instantly noticed the point he was making. All guests were reserved, their faces covered and voices low. His gaze passed over Bellatrix a moment who sat with her head held in the palm of her hand, her gaze fixated on the candle before her. In the brief seconds that his eyes trained on her, Harry found himself admiring the little things about her features – the sharp jawline, the full lips, and the dark eyes. She was the very essence of beauty and fear. Harry could vaguely remember the hatred that would burn inside him at the very sight of her, or at that, the sight of her sisters who resembled her. Perhaps if he focused hard, really thought of all she'd done, he could somewhat reignite that sense of abhorrence. But he didn't want to try. While Harry wasn't sure where he stood with Bellatrix now, it certainly wasn't on the terms of an enemy.

He returned his attention to the bar and finished off his beer in one long gulp. "Understandable. Thank you for telling me what you know" Harry said as he pushed himself out of his seat. He looked back towards Bellatrix who eagerly stood up. Pausing for a moment, Harry turned to Aberforth and spoke, "And… get me a Blishen for the road." In response, the man quirked a thoughtful brow before pulling out one of the premium bottles of Firewhiskey and handing it to him.

"Here. For the road." He said as he handed it to him, his voice letting off that he knew that the drink was probably for the woman travelling with the young wizard. Harry took it and left a handful of coins on the counter with a generous tip.

"Thanks again." Harry said as he held the door open for Bellatrix who swiftly walked through it. Aberforth waved a hand nonchalantly.

"Just be careful, boy." Harry nodded in response, not sure if the warning regarded the man or the woman walking ahead of him. Probably both. He would surely try to be careful, but when was safety ever a possibility for him? It might be a long while before he would know peace and a happily ever after.


"Here." Harry said tossing the bottle her way after they apparated back to London. The streets were still alive with those who ignored the fear of Monday and sought to enjoy their Sunday evening instead. Bella eyed the bottle and the red the label before her eyes went wide.

"Blishen, Harry?" she said with a sort of amazement in her voice. "Haven't had this in ages."

"Ages, huh? Wow, that must have been a while ago." Harry jabbed with a playful smirk. She shot him a glare.

"I have half a mind to hit you over the head with this for that." She placed a delicate finger on her chin. "Actually, it would be the perfect escape." Harry hoped to himself that she was bluffing but just in case, he casually slipped behind her and let her merrily walk ahead of him in that haughty stride of hers.

"Don't even think about it. Come on, you can enjoy it at home." To this she turned around, a slight pout on her lips that, for some strange reason, caused a sort of heaviness in Harry's chest. He sighed it away.

"I'm always there."

"Not recently," Harry retorted.

"Regardless, I want to enjoy the fresh air just a bit more." She proceeded to skip towards the statue in the middle of the square, the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain as Harry knew it to be, and seated herself at the top most step at the base of it. She then patted the seat next to her and, with a shrug, Harry joined her. She held out the bottle towards him and he took out his wand then, with a quick wave, the bottle popped open. Bella helped herself to a long swig straight from the bottle and proceeded to sigh contentedly. "Merlin's beard, that brings back memories." Harry looked at her curiously.

"Care to share?" She waved her finger at him.

"No, no, Potter. That's not how it works. You'll have to get me a bit more plastered before I tell you anything." She hummed in thought for a minute before continuing slowly, "Actually… I have a better idea." Harry didn't like where this was going but he was curious. "For every drink, we tell each other something. It's either that or I tell you nothing," she finished holding out the drink to him once more.

"Seriously, Bellatrix?" She looked him dead in the eye. Harry hadn't seen that look of hers in a while – the one that reminded him who she really was.

"Deadly." He sighed, and thought of how much he really wanted to know about her. There just had to be more to Bellatrix Lestrange than that evil and deranged exterior everyone notes immediately. So, he bravely took the bottle and let the burning drink slide down his throat. It quickly loosened him up.

"I lived in a cupboard for eleven years," Harry said straightforwardly. The witch looked taken aback by this.

"A cupboard? For eleven years?" He nodded. "Why?" she asked.

"No, no, Lestrange. That's not how it works. You only get one fact." She rolled her eyes at his mockery of her before snatching the whiskey from him.

"Fine." She said sourly and downed a little. "I had my first drink of Blishen at my wedding. How spectacularly that turned out." Harry snickered at this. Somehow, it was hard to imagine Bellatrix Lestrange in a white wedding gown. Perhaps she wore black for the occasion. Harry took his share of the drink.

"Well, I lived in a cupboard because, as you probably know, I lived with my dear sweet aunt and uncle and their son. They didn't like me very much, being magic and all. They punished me whenever I did something remotely magical like when my hair grew overnight after a horrid haircut or I somehow ended up on a roof or released a snake from a zoo. I didn't know how it happened or why I was being punished for it."

"It appalls me that after that you still favor muggles and mudbloods." Harry glared at her.

"For the most part, they're very good people." He replied pointedly to which Bellatrix scoffed.

"All the same to me." Bella retorted with another big gulp of alcohol, already feeling it start to loosen her muscles and embolden her soul. Bellatrix had never shared her memories with anyone other than her sister. To be honest, she wanted to share a bit more of herself with someone. After all, underneath all the obvious insanity Bellatrix was, at the end of the day, a person. And every person has a story – a separate little universe only they know about. To share it, even the miniscule bits, was a marvelous thing. Had it not been for the whisky however, she never would have allowed herself or gathered the courage to let her inhibitions go. "I've always had a sweet tooth – could never have enough Chocolate Frogs and Cauldron Cakes."

"You'd think all those sweets would sweeten your personality." He said sarcastically earning him a slight snort from his pleasant company.

"Irony at its finest." She replied as she handed him the bottle. So Harry took his turn then she hers and so on. The two shared memories and secrets and hopes and dreams under the street lights and towering old buildings of London. Their game continued and as the hours passed, the crowd of people was reduced to a trickle and was soon nonexistent. Bellatrix learned of how Harry ended up on the Quidditch team, to when he discovered Snape's journal, and to the point of how he tricked Voldemort into believing he was dead. Harry learned of Bellatrix's excellence at Hogwarts, her adventures with Cissy around the castle, and till her arranged marriage to Rodolphus. They uncovered a great portion of each other's would-be memoir. They shared laughs and shared sorrows. Had there been a bit more alcohol and a little less wind, their confessions would have continued. But the bottle of Firewhiskey finally ran dry, its warmth fading. Harry pushed himself up and held out a hand for Bella who took it and allowed herself to be pulled up, stumbling a bit as she did so.

"Come on, we've got to head back." Harry said as he took out his wand. Bellatrix snatched the wand away from him. "Hey!"

"Are you mad? I'll positively vomit." That ruled out most other modes of transportation such as the Knight Bus or a portkey. Although, the only portkey to 12 Grimmauld Place was the black tea kettle that's still on a shelf in Dumbledore's office.

"What do you suggest we do?" he asked as he snatched the wand back.

"We can take the train under the ground. What do muggles call it?"

"The tube?"

"What a ridiculous name." Bellatrix remarked with a sneer.

"Well… our school is called Hogwarts." Bellatrix looked confused by this response.

"Yes, and what's strange about that?" Harry couldn't help but laugh a bit as he started walking towards the nearest underground subway entrance a few feet away. It was strange to him how different her life was from his own. She never knew things such as football, television, phones, or video games – things that were as common to muggle children as owls were to witches and wizards. Harry and Bellatrix truly lived vastly different lives. And yet somehow, their fates crossed to bring them here – to this point, together in some strange way for Merlin knows what purpose.

"Come on then." Bellatrix was then closely at his heels, humming that tune of hers, as they headed towards Grimmauld Place.


Still feeling the effects of the whiskey, Bellatrix and Harry laughed about their shared memories the whole ride home. Harry could hardly believe that Bellatrix had looked up to Minerva McGonagall of all people once upon a time. Apparently, Professor McGonagall had earned herself quite the reputation by the time she graduated Hogwarts and any girl with the brain and skill to achieve it hoped to have her outstanding marks. By many standards, she was considered nearly as great as Dumbledore himself, although she certainly bested him in Transfiguration. Surprisingly, despite her half-blood status, Bellatrix strived to be as talented as McGonagall and she was. Although her talents, unsurprisingly, lay in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Apparently, she would have made prefect had it not been for her mischievousness. Harry was not the least bit surprised by this.

Bellatrix was surprised to know Harry became a Quidditch player in his first year. Sure, it wasn't against any rules when she was in school yet it was still odd and far too risky for first years and was uncommon – especially for someone who had never flown a broomstick before She also thoroughly enjoyed hearing of his experiences with girls he liked and who liked him. It was shocking really that there weren't whole armies of girls who fawned over The Boy Who Lived. In fact, Bellatrix found it hilarious that he had to get a last minute date to the Yule Ball and even then, he didn't dance with her. Meanwhile, she had to turn down a never ending list of men in favor of her scarcely affectionate betrothed, Rodolphus. It worked out however seeing that she didn't really have feelings for anyone – that is until she met Tom Riddle.

The drink provided them the openness to learn something about each other. Before that point, despite however their relationship changed, Bellatrix and Harry could see little more than how they had always known each other. Now,By the time they stumbled into their home, half plastered and brimming with giddiness and laughter, they were exhausted.

"I cannot believe you did that, Bellatrix!" Harry exclaimed with laughter as he opened the door for the far more drunken woman who stumbled in after him.

"I never liked that weasel - Peter Pettigrew. Even his name was despicable," she replied with a pointed finger.

"Did they ever pull a prank on you?" At this, she cackled.

"Oh, no no. They wouldn't dare," she said matter-of-factly as she dropped her coat to the floor and sauntered up the stairs.

"Really?" Harry asked as he used his wand to hang the coat neatly before following after her. "What did you do to frighten them?"

"Me? Absolutely nothing. It was more so what Sirius told them about me that frightened them."

"And what do you suppose he told them about you?"

"Perhaps something along the lines of me being deranged and psychotic."

"All true," Harry responded as he opened her bedroom door for her and ushered her in. Bella turned sharply on her heels then and stared at him with this large brown eyes, hooded under her heavy lids.

"And I'm assuming…" she drawled with a hand suddenly pressed on his chest, "that you won't be joining me?" Harry hoped she couldn't feel his heart suddenly begin to race.

"Sorry. I won't. It was hard to say this as the liquor did a fine job of clouding his judgment and making him crave nothing more than to feel his hands on her. But he wouldn't, he couldn't. Besides, if avoiding her didn't work perhaps restraining himself would do the job. However, of all the things Harry was known for, self control was not one of them.

"Really? You'll leave a drunken woman all alone for the night?" Her hand trailed up his chest and wrapped around his neck, her nails lightly pulling at his hair. "One who's practically begging for you?" He pursed his lips and took a great big sigh to calm his still racing heart. 'Come on, Harry. Get yourself together.' He told himself. Lost in his own mind, Harry recalled the question that had bothered him for a while now, especially since the night began. Perhaps now was a good a time to ask as any. After all, a drunk mind speaks sober thoughts.

"What do you feel for me?" Her hand retracted as her eyes went wide. Bellatrix was visibly taken aback by this question. She quirked a brow at him, her previously seductive look being replaced by a withdrawn one.

"Must you require a definition?" A pause.

"It would be nice."

"Then good night." The door slammed in Harry's face. He stood there a moment, pondering what that could possibly mean before letting it go.

The only answer he could conjure was that he was nothing more than a toy for her. The assumption, surprisingly, stung a bit but passed quickly. After all, it was Bellatrix Lestrange. What did he expect? For her to confess an undying love? To fall into his arms? For them to live happily ever after at 12 Grimmauld Place? As if. She was teasing him and has been since the fate-altering day she walked back into his life. As Harry lay in bed, he asked himself if it even mattered how she felt. It's not like he was in love with her. Sure, she occupied his thoughts more than he cared to admit but that was nothing more than concern. And he did care about her for some unexplainable reason. She mattered to him and he needed her. Harry convinced himself that whether or not Bella felt the same didn't matter. But he couldn't help but ask over and over: what were they? He couldn't call them friends nor lovers. Theirs was a new type of relationship that didn't have a term quite yet and he would have to learn to be okay with this. Maybe they'd never be anything and one day Bellatrix Lestrange would just be a memory and he would go on with his life – become an Auror, a husband, and a father.

For now though, it seemed that all he could do was what he'd always done – wing it. If there was truly nothing between him and the Dark Lord's most loyal, then it wouldn't happen. Whether or not he wanted something to happen between them however, Harry couldn't tell. He could certainly do better, someone more, well, clean-hearted for one. If he felt something strong for someone else, he would certainly move on. As far as Bellatrix was concerned, he shouldn't allow himself to pursue something romantic with someone who was of ambiguous character and even more ambiguous affections. But would he turn her down every time she teased him? Would he keep her at a distance? Would he forget all the wrong's she's done? Would he be rid of her one day?

His head began to ache with all these unanswerable questions. He couldn't tell how many hours he had laid awake, staring outside his window, but it took a while until he finally shut up that confused and nagging voice in his head. As he drifted into sleep, Harry could only conclude one thing: How much she would matter in the future was a mystery as was what he felt for her. However, Bellatrix Lestrange, despite her past as the Death Eater, the enemy, the murderess, was important to him.


A/N: Here it is. It took me a very long time but the semester ended before I knew it and finals were my priority. Now that summer's started, I'm hoping to be more dedicated to my stories as my love for this pairing grows once more. Thank you for your continued support - to old and new readers. Your never ending interest and enthusiasm is my motivation. Please leave a review and give me your thoughts, the encouragement keeps me going.