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The Legacy of Merlin Chapter Three

Harry woke up early the next morning, the same dreams as before flashing across his mind, but far more intense than before. ‘What did it mean?’ he wondered. What was happening to him?

Merlin’s vault had preoccupied his mind ever since he read the newspaper. He barely got any sleep last night thinking about it. It wasn’t the galleons that he was focused on, or even the contents of the vault, but the cipher itself that had drawn his attention.

All thought of what to do about his lack of funds, or even the food he would need until Hogwarts started was a distant second thought.

He left the Leaky Cauldron early in the morning so that he could arrive at the museum when it opened. He hoped that by seeing the vault he could get it out of his mind so that he could focus on his more immediate concerns.

When the bus stopped at the museum, he got outside and marveled at the size of the building; it was truly incredible, both in size and beauty. He walked past the large columns of the entryway, making his way inside.

There was an archway that appeared as soon as he was inside that the muggles seemed to move around without even noticing.

‘That has to be the entrance to the magical side of the museum’ Harry realized, remembering what Tom had said.

As soon as he stepped through, he noticed a line had already formed to the right. It looked as if there were at least 20 families ahead of him. It was mostly children around his age that were interested.

He realized that he would have to wait quite a bit longer for his chance to see the cypher than he expected. Before the line could get any longer Harry stepped in behind a large family of redheads.


Rita Skeeter, reporter for the daily prophet let out a sigh. This was the absolute last time she would do a favor for Limus Filhous. These boring articles about museums and history were his job, not hers.

‘Try something different,’ she said to herself mimicking Limus’s voice. ‘It’s a nice simple job. It might even be fun.’

The problem was the article she wrote about the American wizards and Merlin’s vault were apparently far more interesting than the editor Barnabus Cuffe had expected.

Now she was stuck here for the rest of the day interviewing a bunch of kids that cold barely tie their own shoes let alone solve a puzzle that had confounded the wizarding world for more than a thousand years.

She should be out there, investigating, and exposing the scandals of the rich and powerful she lamented.

Rita let out a long-suffering sigh as she saw yet another child join the queue. It was going to be a very long day indeed.

She had already interviewed a few children and their parents near the front of the line. 

Even though the Americans had figured out the first symbol of the cypher was fire, the children were struggling to get even that now.

She suspected the parents were helping with that part because the gong sounded every now and then to announce part of the cypher had been solved.

Rita supposed she should get this over with and walked towards the line again, her cameraman Bozo following along.

She did not know why he was even here, it’s not like these kids would do anything worth taking a picture of.

She walked past the dark-haired boy with the messy hair that just joined the line and up to to the gaggle of red heads.

“Hello,” Rita said, plastering a fake smile on her face. “I’m Ri- “she began to say before she was interrupted by the apparent mother of the redheads who grabbed her hand shaking it vigorously. 

“Oh yes, you’re Rita Skeeter, I’m such a big fan of your work! Tell her Arthur! Children, stand up straight, on your best behavior,” she said enthusiastically.

“Yes, thank you, it’s so nice to meet a fan,” Rita replied, fake smile still in place as she extracted her hand from the overly excited woman.

“And you are?” Rita asked.

“Oh, where are my manners?” The woman blushed lightly. 

“My name is Molly, Molly Weasley. This is my husband Arthur,” she patted his arm.

“Over here is Percy,” she pointed to her son, “and these are the twins, Fred and George.”

“My two youngest, Ron and Ginny” Molly said as she placed her palms on the children’s head.

“So what brings you and your family to the museum today?” Rita asked, only half paying attention as she already knew the answer.

“Well, we read the Prophet of course,” Molly beamed. “It was so exciting to hear the Americans got as close as they did, solving the first part of the cypher, especially after so much time. 

“It reminded me of my second year at Hogwarts, that’s when I first found out about Merlin’s vault. As soon as Christmas vacation started I practically dragged my parents here to give it a try.”

“What about you Mr. Weasley? When did you first try?” Rita asked.

“Oh, just Arthur is fine,” he replied. “I think it was fourth, no, fifth year. My mates and I were in town during the summer, we decided on a lark to give it a try on a lark.”

“And what about you kids?” Rita asked, taking a moment to look down at her quick quill notes to make sure it was writing everything down. “Are you excited?”

The youngest of the children nodded their heads vigorously.

“I’m going to buy Fortesque’s ice cream shop when I win,” Ron bragged, “that way I can have ice cream every day!”

The youngest, Ginny looked like she was about to speak when she seemed to lose her nerve and quickly turned around hiding her face.

“You’ll have to forgive Ginny,” Molly said apologetically. “She’s a bit shy.”

“Of course,” Rita nodded. “What about you boys?”

“I would like the opportunity to test my skills and knowledge,” Percy replied somewhat pompously. “I’m sure that if I make a good showing, it should help my future career opportunities.”

“We want to open,” George said.

“A joke shop,” Fred continued. “We can give old.” 

“Man Zonko a run for his money,” George finished confidently.

“Well, good luck to all of you,” Rita said as she walked away.

“The day barely started, and it feels like it’s never going to end,” Rita said to Bozo when she was out of earshot.

Bozo just nodded, not saying anything as he took a few pictures of the crowd.

Rita watched over the next few hours as she saw the line get larger and larger. Every now and then she heard the gong as someone ‘solved’ the first part of the cypher that the Americans did previously.

Cuffe had made it clear that she had to be in the room when anyone figured out the first part of the cypher in case they were able to get the next one.

Rita was finally able to take a break and sit down when the gong went off again, and just when she had gotten comfortable too. She groaned as she got to her feet and walked back into the vault room again.

She saw a boy there; he seemed familiar. That’s when she remembered it was the red-headed boy from earlier in the day. His family was off to the side, clearly he was the last in the family to try.

The vault door itself was a thing of beauty she had to admit. It was made of solid gold, but enchanted to be harder than diamond. The depictions on the door itself were also a work of art. 

It showed Merlin holding his staff in the center of the door, and around him were King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, and the knights of the round table. 

Around them were the symbols for each of the planets intricately carved, along with ancient runic script.

The script alone took over 300 years to decipher, as it switched between runes of different countries and dialects as it flowed across the vault door.

‘Here lies the final resting place of Myrddin, son of Balinor, grand wizard of the high court. Let those who are worthy claim my mantle.’

When the words had been deciphered the mural on the vault had appeared. There had been many attempts to cut or break through the vault door over the centuries, but all those attempts hadn’t left behind so much as a scratch. 

The knowledge of how to create the enchantments alone would have easily been worth more than the solid gold door itself if not for the artwork carved into it.

There were six cyphers arranged around the vault door. The one at the very top that was solved by the Americans and had been the first major breakthrough in hundreds of years.

They were four triangles, each made of a precious stone. The first was a ruby, the second was a clear diamond; the third was an emerald, and the last was tanzanite.

They could be moved and rotated into any position and placed in any order but could not be removed from the vault door itself.

It was already theorized a long time ago that they had to be arranged in a specific sequence or order, and every variation had been tried long ago.

Somehow when the Americans did, it revealed the next cypher.

After a long series of questions by the ministry and other experts in the field it was revealed that the symbol the Americans created was the depiction of fire, and more importantly, the vault could also sense intent.

It could tell when someone knew the answer, and when they were guessing, then it reacted accordingly.

Rita watched with a bored gaze as the red-headed boy stared intently at the next cypher that appeared on the right.

This one was far more complex than the last. There was a large number of red and blue sapphires, as well as a single emerald Just on the outside of the cypher. Each of them was the size of a galleon, and there were so many of them that they spread across the entire vault door.

Rita watched as the boy stared at the new cypher for a long time, before touching one of the emeralds.

The door of the vault flashed white and cypher’s returned to their original positions and reset.

Just like every other attempt today, it ended in failure. The boy walked off to join his family and presumably head home.

Rita started to turn around when she saw a messy haired boy approach out of the corner of her eye. She furrowed her brow in thought; she hadn’t remembered speaking to him.

Rita just shrugged as she turned around, looking for another unoccupied chair to rest her feet, but turned back quickly as she heard the gong sound.

‘That was much faster,’ Rita thought to herself. ‘Faster than anyone else had been today.’

This boy, whoever he was, moved with a confidence that she didn’t see from anyone else, not even the Americans who had been the first to solve it.

He paused just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else it seemed he was counting rather than just staring.

She could only see his back now, but she could tell he was staring intently at the cypher. Unlike the others that tried, he seemed unwilling to touch the cypher right away.

Finally, almost five minutes later, she watched him touch one of the red sapphires and move it to the center. She expected to see another flash and the vault door reset, but nothing happened.

Her eyes grew large as the boy touched one of the blue sapphires this time, moving it to the center as well, and again the vault did not reset the cypher.

She chanced looking over at Bozo to make sure he was doing his job, but just like everyone else he was staring in rapt attention as the boy moved more of the sapphires into place.

Rita shoved Bozo hard. “Start taking pictures you idiot,” she hissed at him quietly, not wanting to distract the boy.

Bozo shook himself as he got to work, taking pictures as the boy moved sapphire after sapphire into the center of the vault door, always alternating between red and blue.

The room had gone dead quiet as they stared at the boy. 

As the boy moved each sapphire he drew closer and closer to solving the cypher. Rita could practically feel the excitement in the air.

Quietly, more and more people filled into the room to watch.

Finally, when he moved the last sapphire to the center of the vault door, there was a flash. Rita felt her heart drop when she saw the flash, but when she looked again, the vault had not reset.

The crowd gasped as the sapphires had been replaced by a circular cut diamond the size of a quaffle.

Now all that was left was the emerald, Everyone held their breath in anticipation, wondering what the boy would do next.

The boy slowly reached for the emerald moving it towards the center, but stopped just short. The emerald then moved around the diamond’s orbit.

To everyone’s surprise there was another emerald, exactly where the first one originally was. They watched as he moved that one as well, and then it too floated around the diamond.

Just like with the sapphires, he placed more and more around the diamond. Finally he dropped his hand to his side and stared intently at the cypher.

“26 red sapphires, 26 blue, and 30 emeralds,” Rita counted out, wondering what it all meant.

What was it that the boy created? How did he know to arrange it the way he did? A moment passed, and then another, yet nothing happened.

As the seconds passed Rita felt her excitement ebb. Had the boy failed? But then she heard it, loud and clear. The gong had sounded again.

The room erupted into deafening cheers! Most shocking of all to Rita was that she caught herself cheering with everyone else.

The boy didn’t seem to hear any of them though, because he was staring intently at the third cypher.

It was even more complex than the last one. There were even more sapphires than before, and a single emerald.

Rita watched as a museum worker practically ran to the fireplace, floo calling the ministry demanding to speak with the minister.

Rita could not hear what they were saying, and absolutely refused to leave from her spot, watching the greatest mystery of the wizarding world being solved before her eyes.

It became obvious what they were discussing when the minister himself quickly stepped out, followed immediately by a group of Auror’s.

She watched as the Auror’s attempted to disperse the crowd to no avail. No one here witnessing what was happening would give up their front-row seat for all the gold in Gringotts. They eventually just formed a perimeter around the minister and blocked the door to stop anyone else from entering.

The Minister looked as astonished as everyone else. Just days ago some of the greatest wizarding minds had got closer than anyone in hundreds of years to solve the cypher of Merlin’s vault.

And now here was a boy, perhaps even a first year Hogwarts student that had surpassed even them.

Minister Fudge straightened up, adjusted his bowler hat and purposefully stepped toward the boy. “Hello there,” he said clearly. “I am Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic of the United Kingdom. Please identify yourself.”

Rita watched the boy, wondering how he would react, but he didn’t even turn around.

“As the Leader for Magic of the United Kingdom I demand your identity-” Fudge said more forcefully as he took a step closer.

This proved to be a mistake because he impacted against some type of shield, shoving him back a few steps, and nearly toppling him over. It flashed blue, where he touched it, rippling outward. It looked almost like a pebble impacting a placid pond.

The flash of light seemed to have caught the attention of the boy because he spun around.

Rita could tell he was shocked as his eyes widened and he stumbled a few steps backward.

He then tried to speak, or at least his lips moved, but there was no sound.

Rita tried to read his lips but she couldn’t, it looked as if he was speaking gibberish.

The boy stepped forward, but just as he did there was another blue flash, he was trapped on the other side of the barrier.

Minister Fudge stared at the boy, not sure what to do next either. 

“Get Bones and Croaker in here,” he finally decided, “Maybe they know of a way we can communicate with the boy.”

“That won’t work Minister,” Rita said as she stepped forward.

“Rita Skeeter?” The Minister said in surprise, “What are you doing here?”

“I was here for a follow-up article about the vault,” Rita explained to him.

“What do you mean it won’t work?” The Minister asked.

“I can read lips, one of the benefits of the job,” Rita explained. “And what he is saying is absolute gibberish.”

“Maybe you’re not as good at your job as you think,” Fudge snapped back.

“Get them in here, that’s an order,” the Minister demanded to the Auror standing next to him.

The Auror quickly marched to the fireplace and called for Amelia Bones and Saul Croaker.

A few minutes later Amelia Bones was the first to step out. “Minister Fudge,” she greeted as she walked up to him.

“Good, Amelia you’re here. We seem to have a problem. There is some type of barrier separating us from the boy,” Fudge summarized. “We need a to find a way to communicate with him.”

Amelia said nothing for a moment, staring at the boy, who was also looking back at them.

She pulled out her wand, but instead of casting a spell formed words in the air. ‘Who are you?’

They all watched as the boy looked at the glowing letters. He just seemed to be more confused now.

They watched as he then used his finger to trace out some strange symbols in the air.

“I told you this would not work, Minister,” Rita reminded him.

“What do you know about this Skeeter?“ Amelia demanded.

“I can read lips,” she repeated.

“What did he say,” Amelia demanded.

“That’s just it, Madam Bones, I couldn’t understand anything he said. I think The barrier is not letting us communicate with him, or him with us.” Rita explained.

“Why do you think that is?” Amelia asked.

“If I had to guess, I would say the cipher does not want there to be any outside interference. It wants the child to solve it on his own.” Rita answered.

“Very advanced magic,” Amelia mused out loud.

“Could we really expect any less from Merlin?” Rita asked.

“Minister Fudge,” Bones said, turning to face the Minister. “The Obliviator teams have cleared the muggles from the museum, the official story for the muggles government is a gas leak.”

“We have closed off all entrances, but we have no way of clearing the witches and wizards already inside the museum.”

“Why not? Your Aurors should have no problem clearing out about a hundred witches and wizards.” Fudge asked.

“We estimate the number to be close to five hundred inside the museum, Minister. For the moment they are calm, but if we attempt to use force, things could escalate quickly. Considering the potential loss of life, as well as danger to the museum itself, I would advise against it.” Amelia answered.

“Quite right,” the Minister said as the implications hit. “I can’t imagine that would look good for my reelection campaign,” he joked.

From the looks on Amelia and Rita’s faces the minister could tell his joke had not gone over as well as he thought it would have.

“Rita Skeeter, because of the current circumstances I order you not to publish or disseminate these discussions until the situation is resolved,” Funde ordered.

“What? You can’t do that! I have a responsibility to the wizarding public to tell the truth.” Rita denied.

“Actually he can,” Amelia corrected. “You provided pertinent information to an ongoing incident that affects the safety and well-being of the general wizarding public.”

“You also received information about the ongoing incident directly from two senior ministry officials that you could not have reasonably obtained from any other source.”

“At this point we consider you an agent of the Ministry of Magic, and we will consider public discussion or dispensing of this information treason.”

Rita’s jaw dropped after Madam Bones finished speaking. ‘If only I had kept my mouth shut, I could have avoided all this.

“… Yes, exactly right Amelia,” Fudge said. “I was just about to say so myself.”

Both Bones and Skeeter looked at the Minister, both unimpressed.

“Anyway, there are a further 4000 wizards surrounding the museum. The time has long since passed for keeping this contained.” Amelia added.

“4000?!?” Fudge said in shock. “But that’s almost half the wizarding population of the United Kingdom!”

“I have called in every available Auror, and reassigned all Aurors on non critical assignments to crowd control. If this is not managed correctly, we will have to request additional foreign Aurors from the ICW.” Amelia continued.

Minister Fudge paled at the implications, his political career was on the line. “What is going on? There was nothing like this when the American wizards solved the first cypher.” Fudge asked.

“There is quite frankly, a lot. The wizarding public knew about the American’s attempts weeks before they even tried. It was reported on extensively in the foreign press. Also, when the foreign wizards got to the next cypher they failed immediately, in effect ending the story.”

“But what’s happened now? A British child solved a puzzle the greatest wizarding minds could not solve. It’s inspiring, and more importantly, the story is still happening.” Rita explained.

“What would you do?” The Minister asked.

“I would set the boy to work on the puzzle instead of staring at us,” Rita advised. “The longer this goes on for, the more likely that the situation is to escalate.”

All three of them looked at the boy then, and he must have come to the same conclusion as them because he turned around to face the cypher again, followed by another cheer from the crowd.

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