By George R. R. Martin

Translated by means of Andreas Helweg

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On the appointed day, hundreds of people travelled from all over the kingdom to reach the garden walls before dawn. Male and female, rich and poor, young and old, of magical means and without, they gathered in the darkness, each hoping that they would be the one to gain entrance to the garden. Three witches, each with her burden of woe, met on the outskirts of the crowd, and told one another their sorrows as they waited for sunrise. The first, by name Asha, was sick of a malady no Healer could cure.

27 The Tales of Beedle the Bard Then the great Worm placed its face upon hers and drank the tears from her cheeks. Its thirst assuaged, the Worm slithered aside, and vanished into a hole in the ground. Rejoicing at the Worm’s disappearance, the three witches and the knight began to climb the hill, sure that they would reach the Fountain before noon. Halfway up the steep slope, however, they came across words cut into the ground before them. Pay me the fruit of your labours. Sir Luckless took out his only coin, and placed it upon the grassy hillside, but it rolled away and was lost.

Was the cry, as the wizards drew further and further apart from their non-magical brethren, culminating with the institution of the International Statute of Wizarding 1 It is true, of course, that genuine witches and wizards were reasonably adept at escaping the stake, block and noose (see my comments about Lisette de Lapin in the commentary on “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump”). However, a number of deaths did occur: Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington (a wizard at the royal court in his lifetime, and in his death-time, ghost of Gryffindor Tower) was stripped of his wand before being locked in a dungeon, and was unable to magic himself out of his execution; and wizarding families were particularly prone to losing younger members, whose inability to control their own magic made them noticeable, and vulnerable, to Muggle witch-hunters.

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