Summary:

Halloween was now a holiday of remembrance. One lantern lit for each of her dear little ones drifting into the dark of night. 1-shot. post-HBP. MW-centric.

Disclaimer: I recognize that all things pertaining to Harry Potter are not mine. This is loosely inspired by Loreena McKennit's "All Souls Night" though I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a soundtrack. My writing soundtrack was the much more somber actually "Schindler's List. This is called "fanfiction" which means that "hey, somebody else's stuff really inspired me to stretch a few artistic muscles and to pay homage to said stuff's greatness."

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HBP SPOILER WARNING: This story contains both direct and passing references to events found in the Half-Blood Prince.

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Paper Lanterns

Since the end of Ron's first year, Molly Weasley had always hoped that Harry would slip off one night and defeat "You Know Who" while the Order distracted the death eaters. She continually murmured this hope to herself as she prepared supper for her brood, as she cheered their quidditch matches, as she tended their scrapped knees. In darker moods the ominous voice within her heart whispered that most of her family would die in a final battle while Harry defeated Voldemort as the remaining Order held the death eaters at bay. Then, should she be lucky enough to survive, she might witness her surviving children marry and eventually raise a lovely family of red-headed children. No matter her mood, Molly never doubted that Harry would one day defeat Voldemort.

The actual battle had surpassed her worst nightmares. It had been Halloween Evening in Ron's seventh year. Death eaters, werewolves, giants, vampires, and dementors attacked Muggle-London. Panicked muggles attempted to flee the city, barricade their homes, or fight their attackers. The streaking lights of charms, curses, incantations, and Muggle weapons had filled the night like uncontrollable whiz-bangs. This was no organized fight; teams of retaliating wizards darted behind fallen rubble and weakening shields as they tried to protect the innocents, tried to defeat their enemies, and tried to preserve their own lives and the lives and their loved ones.

Now, ten year later, Molly sat, hunched, broken, and slumped. Flickering shadows caused by bonfire light echoed Molly's dark memories. The strands of gray hair whipped around by the sea wind did not bother her, nor did the coarse beach sand within her shoes. Harry had, true to Molly's belief, defeated Voldemort. Tom Riddle's fall caused most of his allies to flee, but his death eaters only fought harder. In the end, very few of the Order stood. Each of her beautiful little ones and her dearest Arthur had died in that frightful battle. The once proud mother hen of seven was now alone in the world.

Molly barely heard the pulsing music or the rhythmic ocean waves behind her. These dancing youngsters did not understand this day of remembrance. Oh, their parents had told them the horrors often enough, but what are the wars of the past when there is an opportunity to celebrate? A hand touched her frail shoulder. "Now, Molly," Harry gently spoke as if reading her thoughts, "Don't be too hard on them, this is also a day to celebrate our victory." It hadn't been much of a victory. Those few who remained had barely escaped with their lives. Harry continued, "Come, the tide is beginning to leave."

Molly clutched her box of paper lanterns. Harry led her to the waterline to meet their friends. Once he had been revived, the battle worn boy-who-lived-to-defeat-you-know-who had immediately sought after the Weasley family. Harry had taken care of Molly as if she were his own mother. He was a good boy constantly ensuring Molly she felt safe and comfortable in their home.

Following up in his days of teaching the DA, Harry had taken to training the ministry aurors. Minerva had even offered him the position of the DADA teacher as a seventh year, but Harry had refused, "With the track record of that position, I would sooner take my chances against all of Hagrid's most 'adorable' creatures simultaneously." After the battle in Muggle-London, the entire staff of Hogwarts had to be filled save the Magical History position. Professor Vector, the only teacher surviving, now served as the Headmistress. She also had offered Harry the DADA position and he again refused this time pleading that too many memories were bound in that ancient castle.

The number of wizards on the beach continued to grow. Remus and Tonks paused to greet Molly. She could see Severus guiding Hermoine towards their group. Blast that murderer for living! She did not trust that murderer who had all too conveniently played both sides so well. Only a coward would have murdered a wizard in such a weakened state. Only a truly evil man could have murdered the loving and grandfatherly Dumbledore. While so many of the Order had reaccepted the murderer Snape back into the fold when he again turned coat in that final battle, Molly could never accept him. All too convenient an excuse he had used when it was clear that Riddle was to be defeated. That death eater should've been shipped off to Azkaban and given the kiss with the rest of the lot. The frown becoming more set on her face, Molly dropped the box of lanterns, scattering them like popcorn. She began to move towards Snape. She would certainly spell that murderer down as no one else had the sense to.

"Molly, listen to me, Molly," Harry diverted Molly's attentions. He guided her closer to her forgotten box. "Here, hold the lantern." Harry thrust a paper lantern into Molly's hands.

Harry's wand glowed as he cast to incantation to light the lantern. Molly picked up a second lantern. Two lanterns should be lit - one for her Bill and one for Fleur. It had been a beautiful wedding despite Molly's reservations concerning the bride. Fleur was too delicate, too feminine, and certainly too spoiled to build a home and rear a family. The girl reaffirmed her right to be a Triwizard Tournament competitor as she cleverly forced giants to the ground. Another of Bill's wolf-like tendencies had manifested itself as he had attacked Fleur's murderers with his bare hands and teeth. Unfortunately, hands and teeth offer little defense to holly with a core of dragon's blood.

A lantern lit for Charlie who had lived off in Romania tending to vicious, wild dragons. Her second child had striven hard to not be shadowed by his older brother. Molly always hoped that his annoying pony tail and fang earring were just a cry for attention from her little boy. He had been spelled down by a Muggle weapon. The chaos and sheer number of casualties had prevented the battle healers from even glimpsing her son before he had bled to death.

The tears in her eyes blurred Molly's visions, a lantern for her Percy. He had never caused an ounce of trouble as a boy, but had little trouble breaking his mother's heart in favor of aspirations to become Minister of Magic. His ministry alliances had abandoned him the face of a shiver of dementors. She only wished that her darling bookworm of a son had spent a little more time at home that Christmas. Perhaps had he known it was to be his last, might he have stayed for a bite of his favorite plumb pudding and a small chat with his adoring mother? She would never have the opportunity for that hope again.

Unlike Percy, heaven knew her Fred and George had never heeded authority or rules. Molly fetched another lantern for each of them. True to Molly's beliefs, her inventor-sons had amounted to much more than joke shop proprietors. The twins had created many of the tools and techniques that were instrumental in tipping the battle to the Order's favor. They had been inseparable both in life and in death.

A lantern lit also for her Ron who was never the boldest of the family, but died had protecting his best mate's back. Loosing his crowd-fright Ron had become an admirable quidditch player and actually optioned to play for his beloved Cannons. Had the war not escalated he would have spent his first graduated summer training with other professional quidditch potentials.

For her only daughter, Ginerva, an eighth lantern must be lit. Molly had always fancied Harry for her Ginny. Harry, acting as Dumbledore's successor, had insisted she stay behind the battle lines to tend to the wounded and to help strategize. The fevered battle allowed few victims to retreat for medical attention. Ginny would have none of that, "Of what use was training with the DA if I can't help fight?" Despite her leader's orders Ginny ventured from behind the hospital shields to tend to the wounded. Many personal accounts would later return to Molly of a "red-headed angel" saving their lives. It was difficult for Molly to not begrudge them the life of her daughter.

And last, a lantern for her husband Arthur. He had been a tad eccentric and always enthusiastic in his fascination of Muggles and their non-magical ways. As a first-year traveling on the Hogwarts Express Molly had met the handsome, red-headed third year. She had observed Arthur passionately describing some Muggle contraption. Right then and there Molly Prewett had declared to herself that she would someday be Molly Prewett Weasley. At times, Molly had thought the schoolboy a bit odd; particularly when he attempted to gain her affections by imparting a portion of his battery collection to her or presenting her with some Muggle gadget or another. She had recognized the thoughtful sincerity behind the gifts and loved him more for it.

Arthur had fought by Molly's side that demonic night in Muggle-London. Throughout most of the battle it had been uncertain who was winning. Having lost count of the number of enemies fallen Molly could only hope, just desperately hope that the Order would come out on top. Green avada kedavras and silver patroni painted the demonic battlefield. She and her husband had been side by side. Flames leapt for the obscured stars as the city burned. Memories of the screaming deaths, echoing curses, cackling, and the rumble of falling buildings filled Molly's ears. They should have realized that Muggle structures lacked reinforcing wards and charms. They should have run, or cast a shield, disapparated, or something. Overwhelmed by memories, Molly collapsed Harry enveloped her in a comforting hug, allowing her to shudder and cry on his shoulder. "Hush, hush, Molly, it's alright, it's alright. You're safe here. You're safe here, Molly. We all miss them. We all miss your family."

Slowly, her sobs abated. The wizards and witches began to release their thousands of paper lanterns to the tide. Following the tradition, many survivors gave their songs of mourning to the sea wind; they sang of loss, of triumph, of survival, and of hope. Molly watched the bobbing lanterns dance away on the waves. One for each one of her dear little ones drifted into the distant dark of night.

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Author's end notes:

This piece was intended to be strictly from the perspective of Molly Weasley, hence there are many details left out that she either represses in her mind or simply does not consider remarkable. Poor lady, she deserves better than what this story gave her. I do want to learn how to improve my writing through this exercise, but please be courteous in your reviews.

I took a bit of artistic liberty in describing a group of dementors as hp-lexicon offers little and I do not have any HP texts on hand to search out a cannon version. I figured if one can have a murder of crows one can have a shiver of dementors. "Craze of dementors" was a close second, but could not determine if dementors could actually drive an individual mad or if that was just popular fanfic myth.