by: J K Rowling

?You?ve never heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard?? said Ron incredulously. ?You?re kidding, right??
Containing clues that were to prove crucial to Harry Potter's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the volume of wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [170724]. Only one - The Tale of the Three Brothers - is recounted in the book. Now the four remaining, deliciously titled stories are also revealed: The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock's Hairy Heart, The Wizard and the Hopping Pot and Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump. Each has its own magical character and is sure to bring delight, laughter and the thrill of mortal peril. (Release date: 4th December. Available for pre-order. Orders will be despatched on 3rd December.)
128pp, 125mm x 178mm, hardback, 2008

The Fountain of Fair Fortune
High on a hill in an enchanted garden, enclosed by tall walls and protected by strong magic, flowed the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

Once  a year, between the hours of sunrise and sunset on the longest day, a single fortunate was given the chance to fight their way to the Fountain, bathe in its waters and receive Fair Fortune for evermore.

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. She hoped that the Fountain would banish her symptoms and grant her a long and happy life.

The second, by name Altheda, had been robbed of her home, her gold and her wand by an evil sorcerer. She hoped that the Fountain might relieve her of powerlessness and poverty.

The third, by name Amata, had been deserted by a man whom she loved dearly, and she thought her heart would never mend. She hoped the Fountain would relieve her of her grief and longing.

Pitying each other, the three women agreed that, should the chance befall them, they would unite and try to reach the Fountain together.

The sky was rent with the first ray of sun, and a chink in the wall opened. The crowd surged forward, each of them shrieking their claim for the Fountain's benison. Creepers from the garden beyond snaked through the pressing mass, and twisted themselves around the first witch, Asha. She grasped the wrist of the second witch, Altheda, who seized tight upon the robes of the third witch, Amata.

And Amata became caught upon the armour of a dismal-looking knight who was seated on a bone-thin horse.

The creepers tugged the three witches through the chink in the wall, and the knight was dragged off his steed after them.

The furious screams of the disappointed throng rose upon the morning air, then fell silent as the garden walls sealed once more.

Asha and Altheda were angry with Amata, who had accidentally brought along the knight.

'Only one can bathe in the Fountain! It will be hard enough to decide which of us it will be, without adding another!'

Now, Sir Luckless, as the knight was known in the land outside the walls, observed that these were witches, and, having no magic, nor any great skill at jousting or duelling with swords, nor anything that distinguished the non-magical man, was sure that he had no hope of beating the three women to the Fountain. He therefore declared his intention of withdrawing outside the walls again.

At this, Amata became angry too.

'Faint heart!' she chided him. 'Draw your sword, Knight, and help us reach our goal!'

And so the three witches and the forlorn knight ventured forth into the enchanted garden, where rare herbs, fruit and flowers grew in abundance on either side of the sunlit paths. They met no obstacle until they reached the foot of the hill on which the Fountain stood.

There, however, wrapped around the base of the hill, was a monstrous white Worm, bloated and blind. At their approach, it turned a foul face upon them, and uttered the following words:

'Pay me the proof of your pain.'

Sir Luckless drew his sword and attempted to kill the beast, but his blade snapped. Then Altheda cast rocks at the Worm, while Asha and Amata essayed every spell that might subdue or entrance it, but the power of their wands was no more effective than their friend's stone, or the knight's steel: the Worm would not let them pass.

The sun rose higher and higher in the sky, and Asha, despairing, began to weep.

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...

From The Tales of Beedle the Bard, ?2008 by J.K. Rowling, published by The Children's High Level Group.

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