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Rules for Around-The-Bends can be found here

I was hanging out in Flourish & Blotts the other day when a little girl* came up to me. She said, “I’m Rose Granger-Weasley. If you guess my favorite magical creature, I’ll give you my autograph”

After a while of me just staring blankly at her, she sighed and gave me some letters to use for my answer:

akebzqmp

I looked at the letters but couldn’t make any sense of them. After a while of this, she said, “Oh, sorry, I forgot to give you the key! Here it is:”

around the bend grid

Then she left, and I still can’t make sense of the letters. I really want her autograph. Can you all help me?

What are Rose’s favorite magical creatures? (Yes, it’s a plural)

*I’m aware that Rose would be a teenager in 2020. And that I’m using a modern day figure for one of the words. Just - Time Travel Shenanigans, okay?

I managed to track Rose down again (by lurking in F & B) and got a hint

Hint 1

"My mom insisted on using Muggle nursery rhymes when I was little. I could recite one right now, if you want."

Hint 2:

"My eyes are always drawn to uppercase letters - they're just so bold!"

Hint 3:

"My mom always told me to upper-case the first letter of each line in a poem. I would argue that it makes no grammatical sense. Oh, well, better listen to her."

Hint 4:

"I saw this Muggle encoding style, and I thought it was quite useful. You see, while it's easy to understand, it's impossible to reverse without a key!"

Rose was quite meticulous about clues; all her plurals are correct :). However she seems to have prioritized the letters required for her message over the word quality. And the puzzle complexity appears to be out of control. Sorry about that!

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  • $\begingroup$ Just a note... the unscrambled words (see @El-Guest) appear to have their direction misinterpreted. Yes, you want to look at the rot13(SVEFG), but of each what? $\endgroup$ – bobble Jun 8 at 22:39
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The completed crossword is as follows:

HP crossword

I can’t make heads or tails of the letters to unscramble, though, which I believe might be

A key to a Vigenere cipher.

One way to unscramble the letters is

FIRST WATER SPIDER... A nursery rhyme which follows this is “The Itsy Bitsy SPIDER climbed up the WATER spout”. Using FIRST we can maybe get the key TIBS?

Now, to use this

to decode the cipher text.... proving more difficult than thought, given no clues as to the type of (likely substitution) cipher to use or even what the key is... still plugging...

Update:

! Looks like the ciphertext might be the FIRST letters of the clues: TBMCATOLPSOSKOFUMNTC. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, per @Stiv, climbed up the water spout — good catch! So maybe CTNMUFOKSOSPLOTACMBT with the key akebzqmp? Still no idea on the deciphering technique.

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  • $\begingroup$ Those are the right words, and the right letters. And yes, the unscrambled letters will point you towards a key. You're good at these crosswords! $\endgroup$ – bobble Jun 8 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you!! @bobble. Does the word rot13(fcvqre) come up in the key at all, or am I barking up the wrong tree? $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Jun 8 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that word is intended $\endgroup$ – bobble Jun 8 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yay, you unscrambled! Look carefully at the hint... $\endgroup$ – bobble Jun 8 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Have you used all of the unscrambled words? $\endgroup$ – bobble Jun 8 at 21:37
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Words I have so far:

1: ELBOW, 2: WOOFER, 3: REFORMAT, 4: TAMRAC, 10: FOINED, 11: DENIER, 12: REWETS, 13: STEWPOT, 14: TOPICAL, 15: LACING, 16: GNOME, 19: SEAWARD, 20: DRAWABLE

I may be wrong somewhere between 13-16, as I feel like I'm reaching a dead end

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