“He will only be gone from the school when none here are loyal to him.”Before Merlin had a chance to say what happened next to him and his companion Rigel during their long escape from Gringotts, the sound of a heartbreaking lament pierced the noise of the tavern and the isolated quiet of the little back parlor.
– Harry Potter, Half Blood Prince, American hardcover edition, p. 649.
The companions around the little table looked round at each other with eyes wide, moved by the sound as much as by each others' expressions of shock and sadness.
Spanky pulled down the hood of his robe.
A moment later, the other witches and wizards in the parlor removed their various veils, fake eyeglasses, handkerchiefs, and cloaks of invisibility, exposing themselves to each other out of respect for the dead.
Without anyone calling for a moment of silence, each one held his or her own peace, waiting for the phoenix’s lament to end. They all knew what had happened, though none had ever heard such a sound before. The bird’s heart-breaking melody filled each of them, not only with grief, but with knowledge of what a terrible sacrifice had just happened.
As the sound faded into the distance, Spanky stood up. “Endora, my dear,” he whispered. “May I borrow that cloak of yours? I feel that I may be needed up at the school.”
“I’m coming, too,” said Merlin, rising from his seat.
“No,” said Harvey. “The rest of you, go home this instant. And stay there! A very dangerous time has come, more dangerous I think than any that has been seen in living memory. Wait for word from me or someone you trust, then do what you must. And watch the Daily Prophet. When it is time for us to gather again, I will place a notice there containing the words la scala di seta. Be careful, all of you!”
Reluctantly, the other wizards and witches disapparated, while Spanky looked over his wands and fastened the invisbility cloak around his neck. He and Harvey exchanged nods, and Spanky left. Harvey remained in the small, dingy parlor alone.
“Alas,” he said to himself, conjuring a fresh goblet of smoking liquid. “We did not toast our departed friend. I shall toast him alone then.” Standing up, Harvey raised his goblet and said to the empty parlor: “The only one You-Know-Who ever feared: May his next great adventure end more happily than the last!”
He waited, as if listening for a voice to say, “Hear! Hear!” – then drained his goblet, and disapparated.
[Originally posted 7/28/05--shortly after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince]