Hermione remains angry at Ron, but Ron and Harry feel much more optimistic now that they’ve destroyed one Horcrux. Ron tells Harry that a magical Trace has been placed on Voldemort’s name, so that anyone who says it can be tracked by the Ministry. This Trace is how the trio were discovered in Tottenham Court Road. Fortunately, Harry and Hermione have already slipped into the habit of calling Voldemort You-Know-Who.
Hermione announces that she wants to visit Xenophilius Lovegood, having found, in the signature of the letter from Dumbledore excerpted in Skeeter’s book, yet another appearance of the triangular symbol associated with Grindelwald and worn by Xenophilius. Ron concurs, noting that Xenophilius’s underground newspaper, The Quibbler, has been staunchly pro-Harry, despite the price on his head.
The trio find the tower where the Lovegoods live, but Xenophilius seems alarmed at their presence and reluctant to invite them in or help them. Grudgingly, he lets them come in. Ron chides Xenophilius for printing in his newspaper that people should help Harry, then appearing unwilling to help Harry himself, and finally Xenophilius agrees to help. He excuses himself to go call Luna, who, he says, is outside fishing, then serves them a nasty-tasting root infusion. Xenophilius asks Harry what he has come for, and Harry inquires about the symbol. Xenophilius tells him that it is the sign of the Deathly Hallows.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all baffled—none of them have heard of the Deathly Hallows. Xenophilius explains that the Deathly Hallows have nothing to do with Dark Magic, and that the symbol is merely a way for wizards to indicate to each other that they believe in a particular legend and are engaged in a quest for certain objects—the Deathly Hallows. To explain what these objects are, Xenophilius has Hermione read an old and familiar fairy tale from The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Three brothers were traveling on a road when they came to a river. They made a bridge using magic, but when they were halfway across, Death spoke to them. Death was angry at being cheated of their lives, but he congratulated them and offered them each a prize. The oldest brother asked for a wand that would always win duels, and Death fashioned one out of an elder tree branch. The second asked for the power to bring people back from the dead, and Death gave him a stone with that power. The youngest brother asked for something that would let him leave that place without being followed by Death, and Death reluctantly handed over his own Invisibility Cloak.
The three brothers departed. The first brother was killed in his sleep by a thief after he boasted about his wand. The second brother summoned the spirit of a girl he had once loved, but she couldn’t truly be with him in life, so he killed himself to join her. The youngest brother lived for many years, then handed the cloak off to his own son and welcomed Death like an old friend.