There was a lot of cheerful laughter at the Training Grounds. This was, perhaps, the favorite class of many students. And how could it not be, when you get the chance to fly. It was really something to look forward to. Shortly after I arrived, Merula approached me.
“They say your little friend Khanna ended up in the Hospital Wing trying to help you find a Cursed Vault...” She said with a lot of sarcasm in her voice.
“Don’t pretend that you care about my friends, Merula,” I replied.
“Oh, I don’t care about you or your friends, but I do care about the Cursed Vaults. Though not as much as your brother. Why do you think he was so obsessed with the vaults?” she asked.
“There are rumors that the vaults are filled with prophecies and artifacts. I assume he wanted it to learn their secrets,” I answered.
“I know what happened to him,” she said with a slight grin.
“You know what happened to my brother?! You have to tell me!” I got surprised by her response.
“Later, Edwards. Class is about to begin...” She replied.
Could it be that she really knows something about Jacob? Or is she just toying with me and trying to get revenge for what happened during the Potions Class? I guess I’ll go with it, for now. I mean, for all it’s worth, she might be telling the truth…
I nearly fell off my broom while performing the take off and landing. Thankfully, I was calm enough to land safely, but for a moment there, my thoughts were completely elsewhere. I wasn’t focusing on the class… Later on, while I was doing the broom maintenance, I couldn’t help but notice that Merula is grinning at me ever so slightly. She is definitely up to something, but I can’t yet figure out what it is.
Not long after that, the class was over. She was still smiling wickedly at me. I approached her and bluntly asked about Jacob. “Tell me what you know about my brother.”
“I will. As long as you do something for me...” She replied.
“What do you want?” What could she want in return, I wonder…
“It’s unlikely given your ineptitude, but promise to tell me if you ever open a Cursed Vault…” She said.
“Fine. I’ll tell you if I ever open a Cursed Vault. Now, tell me what happened to my brother,” I agreed to her proposition.
“I’ll tell you everything I know as soon as you tell me what you find in the Cursed Vaults,” she replied. “You’d better hurry, Edwards. From what I’ve heard, your brother won’t survive much longer…”
What could she mean by that? Does she really know what happened to Jacob? I am still not entirely convinced, but it could potentially be true… Well, in any case, she didn’t ask me to do anything for her, and since I am already searching for the vaults, it won’t be any harm if I tell her about it AFTER I open one.
“Are you feeling better, Rowan?” I asked him, still concerned about his health.
“Much better. Though I do get a terrible chill every now and again…” He answered honestly.
“You still seem sort of down. I hope you don’t think I’m upset about you not wanting to return to the Cursed Vault…” I replied.
“I just wish I was stronger, and hadn’t been so eager to explore that Icy Corridor…” He admitted.
“I should never have put you in danger…” I added.
“I want to help you, but I feel like I’m useless…” He said. I could notice a slight expression of disappointment in his eyes. It seems as if he’s lost faith in himself… I have to get his confidence back up…
“Rowan, you have other talents that are invaluable,” I replied.
“But what can I do to help you with your search?” He asked, curiously.
“By providing me with all the Knowledge and information I need. You are one of the smartest students I know, and all your Knowledge could help me tremendously in my pursuit for vaults.” I explained.
“Thanks, Dylan. I guess you are right. There are other ways I can help you with the vaults,” he replied.
“I’ll definitely need your help to work out a plan for getting into the Cursed Vault. I don’t think I’m strong enough to get past the door myself,” I pointed out.
“Lucky for you, I’ve spent countless hours alone in my room making multiple lists of the most powerful students at Hogwarts,” he said with a smile on his face. At least he’s feeling better now. I still feel responsible about what happened to him. Now I have to try my best and keep him out of harm’s way.
“Do you think there’s someone who can help?” I asked.
“Ben is the obvious answer because he’s powerful in charms, but he won’t be feeling up to something like this for a long time,” he answered. “Merula is powerful, but you obviously can’t trust her. You’ll have to ask someone you’ve never even met… Someone even more powerful than Ben and Merula. Maybe even more powerful than you...”
“Who?” Who could he have in mind?
“Bill Weasley!” He answered excitedly.
“Never heard of him,” I bluntly admitted.
“You’ve never heard of Bill Weasley?!” Rowan was shocked when he heard that. “He’s one of the most popular boys in school! He’s one of the most powerful wizards in his year! He’s sure to be a Prefect and Head Boy, and everyone says he’s one of the bravest students at Hogwarts!”
To be honest, I do recall one Weasley being sorted in Gryffindor with us, but I never really hung out with him outside of classes. Could this Bill be related to him perhaps? Rowan seems pretty infatuated with him, by the looks of it.
“He does sound like the perfect person to help with a Cursed Vault…” I said.
“The question is, how will you get a fourth-year you don’t know to help with a Cursed Vault?” He asked me. To be fair, that’s a valid question.
“I’ll bring him something nice. Hopefully, it will convince him to help me.” I answered.
“He’s usually practicing defensive spells on the Training Grounds,” Rowan replied.
“Good luck, Dylan. If Bill Weasley become your friend, he’ll sort of have to become my friend!”
The Training Grounds were pretty quiet on the following day. There was no flying class, so some of the students got to practice their spells on dummies. Bill was there, honing his skills and practicing spellcasting.
“Did you get my owl?” I announced myself as I approached him.
He stopped casting, turned towards me and asked with a pleasant voice. “What can I do for you, Dylan Edwards?”
“You know who I am?” I asked, surprised he recognized me immediately.
“Your brother was the talk of the Weasley household when the Daily Prophet printed his search for the Cursed Vaults,” he explained. “Rumor is, you’re following in his footsteps...”
“I brought you a gift...” I said as I pulled out a book and gave it to him. “It’s a book about a witch named Patricia Rakepick. Rowan says she’s one of the world’s most famous Curse-Breakers.”
“Thanks, Dylan. You didn’t have to do that,” he kindly appreciated the gesture. “I might be able to help you. Tell me what you want with the Cursed Vaults...”
“My brother was obsessed with the vaults and disappeared. I’m hoping something inside gives me a clue to what happened,” I explained.
“I’ll help you, Dylan,” he said as soon as he heard my reasons.
“You will?” I was surprised that he so suddenly agreed to help.
“Of course. This cursed ice is a danger to all of Hogwarts, and breaking a Cursed Vault might stop the ice,” he said. “Besides, I’ve never been on a curse-breaking adventure before.”
“That’s amazing, Bill. Thank you.” At least some good news for a change.
“Don’t thank me yet. It will take hard work, and even a little pain to prepare to break a Cursed Vault,” he continued. “Practice your spells in class, and I’ll train you to duel. After that, we’ll break the curse on this vault together…”
I thanked him once again before leaving. Well, I’ll have to prepare well this time. After what happened to Rowan, I don’t want to endanger Bill, nor anyone else. And if the rumors are correct, the cursed ice may pose a much greater threat than I initially thought… As for Merula, I’ll keep this a secret from her. At least until I manage to break the curse. I definitely don’t want to risk endangering her again. I’ll have to ask Rowan to keep quiet about this too. If she finds out, there could be trouble…