Bryt woke up the next morning after another bad night's sleep. She pulled on her dress robes, though she felt odd wearing something tan and orange to a funeral. Of course, she'd never been to a wizard funeral. The last one she'd been to was her grandparents' when she was nine.
She didn't feel as bad once she got downstairs and noticed the rainbow of colors of people in their own dress robes, however. Bryt immediately latched onto Ron again when she saw him and as they went to the Great Hall, she again looked around for her brothers, seeing Drew in between his two friends, then Mike sitting with his girlfriend and Natalie and Jimmy.
Breakfast was very quiet and no one ate much of anything. Bryt ate nothing at all, her appetite lost when she noticed the Minister of Magic and Percy Weasley were sitting at the head table. Ron seemed very displeased about his brother being there as well, taking it out on a piece of sausage on his plate.
After a very subdued breakfast, McGonagall announced it was time to head outside for the funeral—as Dumbledore was going to be buried near the lake—and for the four Houses to follow their Heads, with Slytherins following Slughorn.
Bryt kept her arm around Ron's as they walked outside where rows and rows of chairs were set up facing the lake and a large slab of marble. Bryt noticed many of the chairs were already filled with people she recognized. Shopkeepers from Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Members of the Order. She saw Emily, Julio, and Sofí sitting on the edge of an aisle and Hermione immediately broke away to sit with them, though no one stopped her. In fact, there were several people splitting off from their Houses to sit with family members they saw. Bryt noticed Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sitting together with Bill and Fleur, with Fred and George nearby. Though Bryt sat with Ron, Harry, and Ginny further up. She was already planning to speak to Julio and Sofí later, and to ask Emily how her parents were doing. She could only read so much from a letter, after all.
Bryt looked around, seeing groups of people taking their seats. She suddenly gripped Ron's arm and glared when she noticed the figures of two people she despised were among a group of Ministry workers. Dolores Umbridge and Rita Skeeter.
'What the hell are those two doing here?' Bryt thought. She felt her blood boil as she noticed Skeeter had a notebook in her hand and looked far too eager for someone at a funeral. If she got her hands on the woman...
An odd sound started echoing through the grounds and Bryt started looking around, realizing it was music. She heard Ginny whisper something and point towards the lake and she followed her gaze to see a group of merpeople just under the surface of the water. Bryt felt a slight chill, though it wasn't a bad one. The music was hauntingly beautiful, much like Fawkes's song a few nights before. Though the merpeople's song didn't sink down to her bones, Bryt still felt mesmerized by the sound and just sat there, staring at the rippling faces.
People started turning and Bryt snapped from her gaze and looked behind her, seeing Hagrid walking down the aisle, crying as he carried something long and wrapped in a purple fabric decorated in stars. Bryt gripped her hands into fists, knowing it was Dumbledore's body. Tears were threatening to spill again, but she was determined that she would not cry.
'Snape did this,' she thought, letting her grief turn to anger, 'Snape is the reason Dumbledore is dead. He killed Dumbledore.'
Hagrid slowly lowered Dumbledore's body onto the marble platform by the lake before retreating to the back of the crowd, where Bryt noticed with a jolt a giant was sitting. Though she had never met him, Bryt knew it had to be Hagrid's half-brother Grawp. After all, where else would there be a giant that seemed so tame?
The music suddenly stopped and Bryt turned back to the front where a short man was now standing in front of Dumbledore's body. He began a speech, but Bryt couldn't get herself to focus. Tears still threatened to pour and she was forcing herself to focus instead on the fact Snape had been the reason for Dumbledore's death. She was not going to let herself cry. She had not cried since she was nine and she was not going to let herself go now.
She knew she could cry. There was no reason not to. She was grieving the death of a great man. But after eight years of forcing herself not to, it was natural for her. She reacted without thinking to make herself angry so she would not cry. It was instinct for her now.
Bryt noticed Harry staring off towards the forest and she followed his gaze to see a group of centaurs half-hidden in the shadows. It seemed they, like the merpeople, had come to see Dumbledore off. Bryt couldn't help but thinking about running into the centaurs during a detention in her first year at Hogwarts, the same night she had seen the cloaked figure she later learned was Voldemort, relying on unicorn blood to survive until he could gain a body again.
Bryt couldn't help but wonder if they'd ever be able to defeat Voldemort. There were four Horcruxes out there, waiting to be found. She glanced at Harry next to Ron. She knew he was going to go after those Horcruxes. It wouldn't be like him to leave Dumbledore's work unfinished. She also knew he'd try to go at it alone. She realized with a start that she wasn't going to allow that. She had always known she was going to stick with Harry until the end, but it was slowly starting to dawn on her exactly what that meant. Heading out into danger, with the chance she would never see her family again.
Bryt looked back to the man speaking in front of them and thought about what Dumbledore would think about all of this. He had once sent Bryt, Harry, and Hermione back in time to save Sirius and Buckbeak from execution. He took Harry along to find the Horcrux that turned out to be a fake. He had allowed Harry to trust Bryt, Ron, and Hermione with every secret. Maybe he'd approve of them going with Harry, of making sure he made it through alive.
Finally, the man giving his speech finished and returned to his seat. There was a long pause, but no one else seemed to be willing to speak up. Bryt was just starting to wonder what would happen next when white flame suddenly erupted around Dumbledore's body and she jumped, staring in shock as they started to climb higher and higher until they disappeared as quickly as they came. In their place, now encasing Dumbledore's body, was a white marble tomb. Dumbledore's final resting place, right at the edge of the lake. On the grounds of the school he had devoted so much to.
Hundreds of arrows suddenly streaked through the sky, landing several feet away from where the crowd was sitting. Several people let out screams, then nervous laughs of reliefs. Bryt, again, looked to the forest where the centaurs were now retreating. She looked to the lake and saw the merpeople, too, had vanished.
People slowly started to get up and Bryt kept her arm around Ron's, the two of them heading to talk with the García siblings while Harry and Ginny remained behind.
"How're you holdin' up?" Julio asked. He currently had his arms around Hermione, who had her face hidden against his chest and crying softly. Sofí was standing nearby, uncharacteristically silent as she stared up at Hogwarts castle with an odd expression on her face, as if she were staring at something she'd seen in a nightmare. Though Sofí noticed Bryt looking at her and then the look was gone, replaced by Sofí's usual grin.
'You're imagining things,' Bryt told herself. It was just the sun glare on Sofí's face. Nothing bothered Sofí, after all. Bryt turned towards Julio, forcing a smile of her own.
"I'm doing okay," she said, "Better than I expected, with everything going on."
"Mike and Drew?"
"They're fine, they've been staying with their friends," Bryt said with a sigh, looking around to try and spot her brothers, "It's good for them. No one should be alone with everything going on."
Ron was glaring nearby and she followed his gaze to see Percy the source.
"Ron, I want to hit him as much as you, but drop it," Bryt whispered, leaning against Ron slightly as she looked back to Julio and Sofí. Emily came over, giving Bryt a weak grin.
"How're my parents?" Bryt asked.
"Better than you'd expect," Emily said, "They're both worried. They know something is going wrong, but they still don't quite understand everything. They're eager for you, Drew, and Mike to be home."
"We're all eager to be home," Bryt said. In fact, the Hogwarts Express was going to be leaving for London within the next hour, though there were many people who were going to Apparate home with family. Bryt was one of those groups. Emily had already taken Bryt and her brother's trunks home earlier.
"It all seems so surreal," Julio said, "I only talked with Dumbledore once or twice, but to think that he's dead..."
"I know," Bryt said with a sigh, looking over to see Scrimgeour talking with Harry by the lake, "Wonder what that's about..."
"Maybe we should go see," Hermione said weakly. She looked up at Julio, "We'll be right back, okay?"
Julio nodded and kissed Hermione lightly. Sofí told them not to take too long and said she'd round up Mike and Drew. Bryt nodded and followed Hermione and Ron off towards where Harry had finally left Scrimgeour and was waiting in the shade of a nearby tree.
"What did Scrimgeour want?" Hermione asked.
"Same as he wanted at Christmas," Harry replied with a shrug, "Wanted me to give him inside information on Dumbledore and be the Ministry's new poster boy."
Bryt glared over towards where the Minister was. Dumbledore was just buried and he had already had another go at Harry. Did he even care that one of the greatest wizards of all time was dead?
Ron had been glaring off towards the crowd as well, but for a completely different reason.
"Look, let me go back and hit Percy!"
"No," Hermione said sharply, as if telling a child he couldn't have ice cream for dinner.
"It'll make me feel better!"
Despite herself, Bryt laughed. The first time she'd actually laughed in days. Even Hermione gave a small smile, but it was gone again quickly as she looked at Hogwarts in the distance.
"I can't bear the idea that we might never come back," she said quietly, "How can Hogwarts close?"
"Maybe it won't," Ron said, "We're not in any more danger here than we are at home, are we? Everywhere's the same now. I'd even say Hogwarts is safer, there are more wizards inside to defend the place."
"But you can't blame families for wanting to keep their children close by," Bryt said, "They'll just feel better knowing their children are with them."
"What d'you reckon, Harry?" Ron asked.
"I'm not coming back even if it does reopen," Harry said.
Ron stared at him in shock, but Bryt had been expecting this. Apparently, so had Hermione.
"I knew you were going to say that," she said, "But then what will you do?"
"I'm going back to the Dursleys' once more, because Dumbledore wanted me to. But it'll be a short visit, and then I'm gone for good."
"Where will you go?" Bryt asked, even though she already knew he was going to go after the Horcruxes.
"I thought I might go back to Godric's Hollow," Harry said, referring to the village he had been born in. The place his parents had died. "For me, it started there, all of it. I've just got a feeling I need to go there. And I can visit my parents' graves, I'd like that."
"And then what?" Ron asked.
"Then I've got to track down the rest of the Horcruxes, haven't I?" Harry said, looking towards the place where Dumbledore now rested, "That's what he wanted me to do, that's why he told me all about them. If Dumbledore was right—and I'm sure he was—there are still four of them out there. I've got to find them and destroy them, and then I've got to go after the seventh bit of Voldemort's soul, the bit that's still in his body, and I'm the one who's going to kill him. And if I meet Severus Snape along the way, so much the better for me, so much the worse for him."
Bryt stared at Harry. She didn't like the way he so casually talked about murdering Voldemort and Snape. Though she understood why—God, she definitely understood why—it seemed so strange coming from him.
"We'll be there, Harry," Ron said finally.
"At your aunt and uncle's house," Ron gave a weak grin, "And then we'll go with you wherever you're going."
Harry opened his mouth to protest and Bryt grinned a bit.
"Did you really expect to do this alone?" she asked, "We've stuck with you for six years already. We're going to stay with you until the end."
"We've had plenty of time to turn back," Hermione added.
"We're with you whatever happens," Ron said, "But mate, you're going to have to come round my mum and dad's house before we do anything else, even Godric's Hollow."
"Why?" Harry asked, staring at Ron with a confused expression.
"Bill and Fleur's wedding, remember?"
Bryt stared up at Ron. It was so odd to think that a wedding was going to happen now, of all times. But at the same time, she couldn't help but think it was also a good thing. The world was going to hell. So why not enjoy what little light they could?
"Yeah, we shouldn't miss that," Harry said with a nod.
The three made their way back to where Emily was waiting with Julio and Sofí. Mike and Drew were waiting there, both having said goodbye to their friends. Reluctantly, Bryt realized it was time for her to head home. She knew the time was coming that she was going to have to explain to her parents what was happening. How she was soon going to be leaving. She couldn't tell them why, but she had to let them know it was necessary. She was going to help stop Voldemort once and for all.
She just hoped her parents would understand.
"I'll see all of you soon enough," Bryt finally said, turning back to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Bryt gave them all hugs, lingering with Ron longer than necessary and kissing him before she left with Emily and her brothers. Julio was staying behind to take Hermione home and Sofí said she knew that Bryt needed to just be with her family. Emily was going along to help with the side-along Apparition, but Bryt needed Emily to stay once they were home. She needed to talk with Emily as much as she did her parents.
Bryt's group made their way to the outside of the castle gates before she took Drew's arm, Emily taking Mike's. Seconds later, the four found themselves in an alleyway near Bryt's home and quickly made their way to the Watkins residence.
Mr. and Mrs. Watkins were waiting for them in the kitchen. When Bryt and her brothers came in, Mrs. Watkins jumped to her feet and hurried over, pulling her children into a hug and didn't seem to want to let go. Bryt hugged her back, squeezing her eyes shut to once again hold back tears that were threatening to spill that day. Soon, Mr. Watkins had joined in the hug and Bryt simply stood there, taking it in, trying to imagine the worry they were going through. They weren't magical, like Bryt, Mike, or Drew. They were Muggles being pulled along for the ride, dragged into a war simply because of who their children were. Bryt couldn't imagine the terror they had to be going through.
And she was planning on leaving them...
Too soon for Bryt, the family hug ended and Mrs. Watkins looked over at Emily, who Bryt was surprised and glad to see was still there.
"Thank you for bringing them home," she whispered.
"It's no problem, Amelia," Emily said, "I should get g—"
"Actually, wait Emily," Bryt spoke up before she could lose her nerve. She took a deep breath, looking from Emily's confused expression to her parents and brothers. Mike and Drew were frowning, though looked no different than they had the past few days. Mr. Watkins looked worried, an odd thing for the man who never seemed to have a care in the world. Mrs. Watkins was pale, fiddling with the bottom of her shirt, twisting and untwisting it in her hands. Bryt felt a small pang of recognition, knowing that was a habit she had started up herself since the loss of her bracelet. Having something so simple in common with her mother only made Bryt realize what was coming next would be even harder to get through.
Finally, she cleared her throat. She couldn't keep putting this off. It was for her family's own safety. The safety of the entire Wizarding world. She had to do this.
"There's..." Bryt started, her voice breaking slightly. She cleared her throat again, straightening herself up, "There's something I need to talk to you about..."
A/N: And here ends Year Six. Only one more to go, which I hope to have up very soon. I've been looking forward to (and also dreading) the final installment of Through Muggleborn Eyes for quite some time. I hope you all enjoyed this one.