Disclaimer: I own something.
A/N: The final chapter/epilogue of Lionsnake Manor is finally here, extra long, even. Before going to the chapter, I'd like to say this: having eight children is not ridiculous. Having twelve children is not ridiculous, either. Yes, I do know of families with more than fifteen kids and only two parents, and these kids have grown up to be balanced, normal, happy adults with no childhood traumas of lacking attention and proper care. It is not ridiculous, only unusual.
But it is possible.
Now, multiple this with three, and we're getting somewhere...
One for Sorrow, Two for Joy...
"Daddy!" shrieked a girl's voice. "Daddy, James is being nasty to Albus!"
"What did you say?" asked Harry, frowning, as Lily ran to sight. "James is nasty to Albus?"
"Yes he is!" Lily exclaimed, looking half shocked at her twin's behaviour, half trilled to be the one to inform her Daddy about it. "Albus wants to play with James but James just goes all wun, wun, wun and Albus can't catch him at all! Now Albus is cwying!"
"Now, this won't do at all," Harry said sternly, picking up the girl. "Where are they?"
He followed his daughter's instructions until he indeed found a weeping Albus. The little boy sat in his wheelchair crying. As he saw Harry coming, he said, "Daddy, Jamez won't wait for me!"
"James!" Harry yelled, hoping that the boy was somewhere within hearing range. "James Anthony Lionsnake, get here at once!" After a moment, a small boy with messy black hair and brilliant green eyes peeked around the corner, looking very much like his Daddy without the glasses.
"What'z it, Daddy?" asked James sheepishly, although he knew very well that he was in trouble. As if the weeping Albus hadn't been enough, Lily sticking her tongue out at him definitely made everything clear.
"You know it very well, young man," Harry said, fuming. "You should know better than pick on your brother just because he can't run! What do you think your Papa would feel like if we all ran from him?"
"Papa would hex you all," James muttered. Glaring at Lily, he then hissed, "Tattletale!"
"Very well!" Harry snapped. "Then I recommend you watch out when Albus learns hexes. Until then, I think that it's enough that you are banned from going even near any broomstick for a week!"
"But Daddy," whined James, then fell silent as he noticed Harry's glare. His Daddy rarely got angry, but when he did, it was bad. And their parents were all a bit overprotective of Albus. "Fine," he muttered, turning around and stomping away. "Pet boy," he hissed under his breath.
Harry frowned but didn't say anything. Placing Lily down on the floor, he then turned towards Albus, crouching down to get on eyelevel with the boy. "Well, Albus," he said, "how would you like to go to the laboratory? I think that Papa and Father should both be down there right now."
"Yez!" exclaimed Albus, looking delighted. "Me wantz to do all teztz and potionz!"
Harry grinned as he followed the enthusiastic kid towards the laboratory. A mini-Severus indeed.
"It'z zmall," Lyra said, sounding a bit astonished as she peered into the crib. "How can it be zo zmall?"
"She's not smaller than you were in her age, Lyra my dear," Sirius said, grinning. "All babies are small."
"You were a real tiny baby," Cassiopeia said with all the knowledge of a four-year-old. "You were this tiny!" She put her hands almost together, showing the length of an inch or so. "A real tiny baby!"
"Wazn't!" protested the smaller girl. As her big sister just stuck out her tongue, Lyra screeched, "Was not!"
"Were too!" Cassiopeia announced. "Tiny tiny tiny! You're still a real baby!"
"Shut up, you two!" Lucius snapped. "If you manage to wake your baby siblings, I will kill you!"
"My, my, such hostility," Sirius commented, raising an eyebrow at his blond husband. "What's wrong?"
"What is wrong, you ask. How about the fact that I wasn't able to sleep a wink last night because this brat," at this, Lucius pointed at his very round stomach, "kept kicking me all night long?"
"Oh. That sucks," Sirius said, making a face. "Trust me, I know. Lyra and Alexander were a nightmare."
"A nightmare would have me better rested," muttered Lucius. "I definitely don't know what possessed me to agree to this." He poked his stomach. "And I still have labour to go through!"
"Trust me," Sirius said, smiling a bit, "when you have the kid in your arms, you will know why you did it."
Lucius didn't say anything to that, just huffed and marched off. And Sirius didn't get to think about it overly much, either -- at exactly that moment, little Cameron got enough of Cassiopeia and Lyra's shouting and started to screech like only a baby can. A split-second later Ashley joined in the chorus. Lyra was startled and began crying as well, while Cassiopeia snuck off as quickly as she could.
Sirius sighed a bit. Yes, the children were adorable, but at times he wished they could have been a little less loud. Or perhaps there should be a "silence" button in their backs. Yes, that would work.
It was raining. Heavy drops of water fell down from the sky in an endless stream, thoroughly soaking the people gathered on the small cemetery. Nobody seemed to even notice it; rather the weather seemed to perfectly reflect their general mood.
Nobody dared to speak as they saw the tiny coffin being lowered to the grave. Some did cry, little children sniffling as they clutched on their parents' clothes, a couple of witches patting their eyes with wet handkerchiefs. It was a tiny affair, no outsiders -- just Lionsnakes and a few Weasleys were present.
Severus closed his eyes briefly. He could feel the eyes of all his husbands on himself as they watched him for even the tiniest sign of self-destructive behaviour or depression. When were they going to learn that he wasn't about to hurt himself anymore?
A sigh escaped his lips. Although not about to harm himself, he was indeed rather depressed -- but then again, so were they all. Perhaps he had even more of a reason than the others -- after all, not only had the child been his, the only child he had accepted to carry, but he had also been the one to find the crib silent. The babies were often brought to his laboratory to sleep. They could keep him company, as he still, ashamed as he was to admit that, feared being alone for even the shortest of moments, and he could easily watch over them as he worked. That one evening he had gone to his stockroom, all the time fighting against the panic that threatened to take over him. As soon as he had got back to the laboratory he had hurried for the cribs situated there, wanting to assure himself that he wasn't alone, that the babies were still there, that he wasn't the only one in the lab. And he had been proven correct. Cherilyn and Joseph had still been fast asleep, their quiet breathing calming his nerves, their smooth cheeks under his trembling fingers reassuring him that everything was all right. When he had moved to the last crib, he had felt confident that nothing was wrong, that he could do this.
Except that when he had got there, Sylvia hadn't been breathing.
His scream had echoed through the whole Manor.
There was no explanation, they had been told. Sometimes it just happened that way -- an infant, often of perfect health, died without any apparent reason. Nobody was at fault, they'd been assured, there was nobody to blame. Sylvia just hadn't been meant to live.
For the first couple of nights he had done nothing but cried, his husbands all at a loss as of what to do. They had feared he'd broken completely, which was quite understandable, given his uncharacteristic behaviour. Then, however, he had collected himself -- an act of will rather than anything else -- and forced himself to return to normal life. Well, as normal a life as possible. He doubted he could ever enter his laboratory again without instinctively checking the cribs to see if Sylvia was there, sleeping peacefully, as always.
But she wouldn't be. She wouldn't be, and he knew that, and he also knew that it would not stop him from checking for her every single time. She'd been his child, his baby, and he doubted he could ever fully accept the fact that she was gone.
But he wouldn't harm himself. He wouldn't. He had promised himself as well as the others, and he would keep that promise.
"Goodbye, Sylvia," he whispered, too quietly for anybody else to hear.
"Lionsnake, Albus!" Professor McGonagall read out the name. Everybody stared as a very small boy seated in a magical wheelchair rolled to the professor's side. The Hat was so big on his tiny frame that it almost covered his shoulders.
There was a moment of silence as everybody waited. Then, the Hat shouted, "SLYTHERIN!"
There was a bit of polite clapping from the Slytherin table as the older students looked disbelievingly at the boy as if wondering just what somebody like him was doing at their table. However, just then Dumbledore chose to speak up. "I'd like to now announce that young Mister Lionsnake will not participate in first-year Potions classes," the Headmaster said calmly. "Thanks to tutoring from his father, the former Head of Slytherin Severus Snape, he will start the third-year Potions course."
This made quite a few eyes widen, and the Slytherins now all applauded. They had definitely heard of Severus Snape, one of the most legendary Heads of Slytherin of all times. Well, he maybe hadn't been that legendary while he was still at Hogwarts, but his efforts in the War and his Potions research had definitely earned him some name and respect. A wheelchair or not, they were definitely going to welcome Snape's son into their House.
However, as the next name was announced, many of them looked stunned. "Lionsnake, Cassiopeia!"
A girl with long black hair walked to the Hat. Almost immediately it cried out, "GRYFFINDOR!"
The Gryffindor House Table broke out in cheers. Three of the kids still standing in the line, as well as Albus Lionsnake, joined in the applauding. The other Slytherins seemed to only now notice that the three kids, as well as Cassiopeia Lionsnake, had also applauded when Albus got Sorted into Slytherin.
"Who exactly are you?" snapped one of the second-year Slytherins, Mariel Zabini, at Albus. "And who are those kids? And if you're Snape's kid, how don't you look like him at all?"
"I am Albus Lionsnake, and they are all my siblings," replied Albus levelly. "And I don't look like my Papa because he's not biologically my father. My biological parents are Remus and Lucius Lionsnake -- or, if the names are more familiar that way, Remus Lupin and Lucius Malfoy."
Now, Mariel just stared at him for a while. If Snape was legendary as a Head of House, then Malfoys were simply a living legend. They had been the leaders of Slytherin about as long as there had been Malfoys. "If your biological parents are those two, how can Snape still be your dad?" she finally asked.
"He's not my Dad, he's my Papa," the small boy replied happily. "And he can be that because I have six fathers." Ignoring her stunned expression, he then leant forward, listening closely as Professor McGonagall read out the next name.
"Lionsnake, James!" was the one this time called forward.
Another boy walked to the Hat, this one also rather short for his age but by no means as tiny as young Albus. Instead of the golden brown hair and piercing silver eyes of the other boy, he had messy black hair and emerald green eyes. And, although his features were a bit sharper, he still greatly resembled a person everybody in the Wizarding World recognized -- Harry Potter. "GRYFFINDOR!" yelled the Hat.
"Another Gryffindor, I see," Albus commented. "Not that I'm surprised. James's like a clone of Daddy."
"Who doesn't happen to be Harry Potter by any means, does he?" asked Mariel, sounding defeated. She didn't even bother to look surprised as Albus simply nodded in confirmation.
"Lionsnake, Lily!" The girl had red hair and the same stunning green eyes as James did, and looked like she would be very beautiful once she grew up. Happily she made her way to the Deputy Headmistress.
The Hat had just barely brushed her head as it already cried out, "RAVENCLAW!" Waving happily at her siblings, Lily walked towards her new House Table. There she was especially enthusiastically welcomed by Sierra and Harriet Weasley, curly-haired twins on the third year.
Apparently the Lionsnake family still hadn't made an impressive enough entrance to the Hogwarts. The next name Professor McGonagall found on the list was, "Lionsnake Mirabelle!"
This girl was a redhead as well, but otherwise she didn't resemble Lily one bit. Her hair was straight where Lily's was wavy, and instead of emerald green her eyes were a piercing black colour. Like with the other Lionsnakes, the Hat didn't need much time to think before crying out, "SLYTHERIN!"
"Mirabelle and Cassiopeia are biologically Papa's children," Albus explained levelly. "I bet he's going to be happy to hear that at least one of his daughters ended up in Slytherin. Their other parent is Pops -- better known as Sirius Black, I think. Now there's a true Gryffindor."
"Hi, Albus," Mirabelle said as she sat down next to her brother. "Any problems here?"
"None, I think," replied her brother levelly. "I just have some problems explaining our family relations." He nodded towards Mariel, who looked like she didn't even know how to react to anything anymore.
"Ah, well. They do get a bit complicated at times, don't you think?" Mirabelle laughed a bit. "So. We've got six fathers. They had us all in three couples -- and the younger kids in other combinations. We're pretty much a mixed group. It doesn't matter to us who are our biological parents; they're all our fathers anyway."
"And besides, genes hardly mean anything," Albus continued. "I am definitely most like Papa out of us all, and I don't have a single drop of his blood in my veins. Of course, the fact that neither of us can walk and we thus prefer to just work in the lab may have affected my character some."
Mariel apparently had no idea about how to respond to this. So, she just fell silent, although her eyes stayed wide for quite some time.
"Albus has a girlfriend! Albus has a girlfriend!" yelled Leonard as he ran down the hall, waving a piece of parchment that could be identified as a letter in his hand. Apparently he didn't worry overly much about the enraged big brother coming after him as fast as his wheelchair would move.
"Now, what's all this commotion?" asked a calm voice, and a hand snagged the parchment from Leonard's hands. Dark eyes scanned over the first few lines of the letter, and then the corners of Severus' mouth curled into a smile. "My, my. What do you know? It appears you are right, Leonard."
"Papa!" exclaimed Albus, who just then had got to his side. "Give that letter to me! It's mine!"
"So it appears to be," Severus said levelly. "And it appears to be from a girl, too. What exactly is this, Albus? Have you managed to get yourself a girlfriend and not even informed your old Papa?"
"She's not my girlfriend," muttered the boy with a fierce blush. "We're just friends, Papa, just friends! Now, give me back my letter!" He tried to reach for the letter, but couldn't reach it as Severus held it up, using his longer arm on his advantage to keep it out of his son's reach.
"You will get your letter back... as soon as you tell me everything about this 'just friend' of yours," Severus said calmly. "According to what little I read, she is definitely not just a friend. And Leonard," he then said, turning towards the blond boy, "run off. You've done quite enough."
The boy pouted a bit, but then smirked. "Just wait till I tell James!" he shouted over his shoulder as he ran off. Albus groaned and hid his face in his hands, while Severus just smirked a bit.
"Now, my dear son," he said, "let's go to a sitting room, shall we? Unless, of course, you absolutely want to discuss this matter in the hallway..." He had rarely seen Albus moving that fast.
"So. Who is this girl, how did you get to know her, and just what is going on between you two?" asked Severus levelly once they were securely in one of the Manor's numerous sitting rooms. "And be honest. Rest assured that I'll know if you try to lie to me."
Albus sighed, gazing longingly at the letter still held in his Papa's hand. Apparently he had no choice but talk -- and be sure that every word he said would reach the ears of all of his fathers before the day was out. Well, maybe this was the best way. His Papa had always been the one parent closest to him, even closer than his Dad, who was a good second. He definitely wouldn't have liked to discuss the matter of girlfriends with his Pops, for example. Most probably the Gryffindor would have been laughing in a minute.
"She's Mariel Zabini, a Slytherin one year above me," he started his explanation. "When I was Sorted, she started questioning me about my relationship to you and James and the others. At first she appeared rather stunned at my explanation, but a couple of days later she came to talk with me again, asking more about my family and suggesting that I could help her with Potions. Well, we became friends, like Mirabelle can surely tell you, and stayed friends, as well. And, well, just before the last Hogsmeade weekend of last school year, I asked her for a date, and she agreed. Somehow, James and the girls didn't even suspect anything -- most probably because Mariel and I always go to Hogsmeade together. And, well, we've been owling to each other all summer. She's my girlfriend. And that's that."
"I see." Severus nodded thoughtfully. Then he asked seriously, watching his son intently, "You do realize she may not be your soulmate, don't you?"
"Of course." Albus sighed again. "I'm not stupid, Papa."
"That's good to know." Smirking at the teenager, he ruffled gently Albus' hair. "I just don't want you to be disappointed if her soulmate is somebody else than you."
"Well?" asked Harry eagerly, practically bouncing up and down. "What does it say?"
"Calm down, will you?" asked Severus, raising an eyebrow. "Give me some time to read." In reality, he was almost as excited as his younger husband. Their eldest children had all recently turned sixteen. Despite many inquiries, Albus had refused to respond to any questions concerning his possible soulmate before his siblings were all sixteen as well. Now Mirabelle and Cassiopeia had finally reached that fateful age, and they were all eager to hear the news.
"Dear parents," the letter began, "you are probably frantic to hear my news. Well, first things first: Mariel and I are indeed soulmates." Almost without noticing it Severus let out a sigh of relief, stopping his reading for a moment. He had indeed feared for his son. Then he resumed reading, aloud so that everybody would get the news at the same time, "Mirabelle has not found her soulmate yet, so it must be somebody younger than her. Lily is now dating a seventh-year Hufflepuff boy -- an odd couple if I've ever seen one, but cute. And as for James and Cassiopeia... Well, let's just say that some of the younger Gryffindor Muggleborns apparently had some very hard time trying to understand why nobody thought it odd that two siblings were kissing in the corner of the Common Room. And, like that wasn't enough, they just had to involve a guy from Ravenclaw."
Draco laughed. "How am I not surprised?" he asked, grinning. "At least they don't share the same gene pool." He leant back into Lucius' embrace, a smirk on his lips.
"I hope they all realize they'll have to bring their soulmates here during the holidays," Remus said, smiling. "I definitely look forward to seeing them all, especially this boyfriend of James and Cassiopeia's. He must be quite a character to be able to handle them both!"
Laughter was the only response to this comment.
"Lionsnake, Amanda!" shouted Professor McGonagall. In an instant a small girl with black hair skipped to her. Sitting on the stool, she allowed the Sorting Hat to be placed on her head.
"RAVENCLAW!" shouted the Hat. Everybody applauded politely as the girl went to her new House table.
"Lionsnake, Arcturus!" This time, a red-haired boy was sorted into Gryffindor and greeted accordingly.
A couple of the first-years looked surprised as now was called, "Lionsnake, Belle!" The older students, however, didn't bother -- they just applauded at the new blonde Slytherin.
"Lionsnake, Jonas!" The boy who was called happily went to the Hat, being Sorted into Hufflepuff.
Hearing that the next one was not a Lionsnake, the girl now seated next to Amanda Lionsnake turned towards her. "That's incredible," she said. "Are you cousins or something? How on Earth are you all on the same year?"
The other girl, however, just blinked. "Well, we were all born on the same year, of course," she then said cheerfully. "And we're not cousins, we're siblings. Belle and I are twins, and so are Jonas and Arcturus. I'm glad to be in Ravenclaw -- so many of my siblings are here!"
This, of course, made the other girl blink in surprise. "How's that possible?" she asked. "It simply can't be! Two sets of twins born during the same year is impossible! And just how many of you are there?"
"It's not impossible if you have six parents," Amanda said happily. "And at the moment, there are forty-two of us children. Albus, Lily, James, Mirabelle, and Cassiopeia are all on their seventh year here -- Albus is that boy in a wheelchair in the Slytherin table, he's the Head Boy this year. Then Norma, Lyra, Axel, and Alexander are on the fifth year. Ashley, Cameron, and Leonard are third-years, and then there're us four on the first year. And younger than us, well, there's Cherilyn, Joseph, Aquila, Perseus, Oliver, Emily, Daryl, Alya, Evelyn, Haley, Anna, Jamie, Jocelyn, Cedric, Alyssa, Maria, Castor, Mallory, Andrew, Eric, Belladonna, Ara, Orion, Procyon, Adhara, and Tyl."
For a moment every first-year in the hearing stared at her. Then, finally, somebody said, "Woah."
And, to that, nobody had anything to add.
"So, Albus, how many Lionsnakes will there still be?" asked Professor McGonagall. "In seven years we have had sixteen of them. Are they going to break a record or something?"
At that, the Headmaster chuckled. "That I do not know, Minerva," he said with a smile. "I'd say that they simply like children. At the moment, though, they have twenty-six children under Hogwarts age, if I'm not severely mistaken." His eyes twinkled as the others' widened.
"Twenty-six?" echoed Professor Sprout. "Where do they find the time?"
"Well, a year ago there were only eighteen children under ten years of age," the ancient wizard told cheerfully. "But then, well, Sirius happened. He's rather inclined to having multiple children, it appears. Still, it was indeed surprising when in addition to Draco's set of twins they got sextuplets."
Now, everybody looked even more shocked. Then Professor Vector asked quietly, "And the other father?"
"Lucius, I believe," Dumbledore replied calmly. "We have some interesting times ahead, don't you think?"
It was outwardly just a usual summer day. Well, the sun was shining especially brightly, and it was rather warm, too, but there was nothing exactly amiss. However, it was a very special day to the Lionsnakes, as well as to all their friends gathered there for a celebration.
That day the older Lionsnakes were introduced to their first grandchild.
Little Blaise, they all agreed, was just adorable. She had the dark brown hair of her mother and the silver eyes of his father, and her toothless smile was just the most charming thing any of them had ever seen. The proud parents, Albus and Mariel, watched with bright smiles as their little princess was passed from one person to another, grandfathers and uncles and aunts and family friends all cooing at her.
Cassiopeia sighed as she had to give Blaise to the next relative wanting to hold her. Then she leant back against her husband's chest, a dreamy smile on her lips. James wrapped his arms around her, resting his hands on her round stomach and his chin on top of her head. David stood beside them, an arm around James' waist, a grin on his face as he placed his free hand on their wife's shoulder. Soon Blaise would no more be the only grandchild in the family.
Severus watched his family, all the children, children-in-law, and the one grandchild born and the twins currently growing inside his daughter. He thought about it all, and finally came to the conclusion that he had never been happier.
"I will not come to the graduation."
This announcement startled everybody who heard it. "But why, Severus?" asked Draco, astonished. "There are four of our kids graduating this year! Cherilyn, Joseph, Aquila, and Perseus -- they'll be very disappointed if you aren't there!"
The black eyes met his gaze squarely. "Cherilyn, Joseph, Aquila, and Perseus will all be there, yes," the Potions Master said quietly. "And they may or may not be disappointed. However, Sylvia will not be there. And, because of that, I will not attend, either."
To that none of them found anything to say.
Of course they had known that the day would come eventually, that at some point they would have to say goodbyes. And, somehow, although nobody had ever dared to say it aloud, they had always also known who they would be saying goodbye to. However, they had never expected it to come this soon.
Seventy-two years old -- that wasn't an age for a wizard to die! This couldn't be happening, and yet they could not deny it. He was leaving them, and they couldn't help it.
His hair was completely silver now, had been that for quite some time, actually. His years had left their lines on his pale face, but there was still a sparkle in the amber eyes that told of life and strength. However, even that wasn't enough to save him now.
They were all gathered around his bed, only barely fitting in the room, their whole family. His husbands, children, and grandchildren had all come to say their goodbyes. Many of them were crying openly, some just sniffled quietly, while some stood with grim expressions, only their eyes betraying their true emotions. Even in the middle of all this sorrow and grief, however, he somehow found the strength to smile.
"Do not cry for my sake," he said quietly. "To me it's just relief from all the pain and insecurity. I'm too weak, too weary, too tired. It's well about the time for me to leave."
"Dad!" wailed a little girl, climbing up to his bed. "Dad, don't leave! Please don't leave!"
"I'm afraid I have no choice, Elyon," the werewolf said with a weak smile. "Don't worry, though, my dear. I'll always be there for you in your other parents. They are all a part of me just like I am a part of them."
After some more teary encounters Albus discreetly led the other children and grandchildren out of the room, leaving the eldest generation in peace. Thus the six first Lionsnakes found themselves alone.
"Sirius," Remus said, looking at his first love with a small smile. "Don't look like that. I'm a Marauder, remember? This is the greatest of all adventures; I would be a fool to turn it down."
"This is not a bloody adventure you're facing," muttered the Animagus angrily. "It's death! Death, Remus! No coming back anymore. You'll be gone forever!" Remus didn't say anything, just met his furious gaze calmly. And, unsurprisingly, Sirius then broke down, crying as he hid his face in his hands, falling onto his knees beside Remus' bed.
"It's not fair," he sobbed. "You shouldn't die. Just because a fucking wolf bit you you'll now have to die, the transformations have worn you out, and you're still young and our kids are so small and you should fucking live for another seventy-two years at least!"
"We all know that is not going to happen, Sirius," said Remus softly, gently caressing the other's hair. "As you said, the transformations have worn me down. I no more have the strength to live, and you must accept that." His eyes travelled to the next of his husbands. "Lucius. We were enemies once."
"But not anymore, I hope," the Slytherin said, raising an eyebrow. It took all his willpower to keep up the calm facade when all he really wanted to do was to cling on Remus and never let go.
"No, not anymore," the werewolf admitted, smiling softly. "You are the oldest of us, Lucius, and, I like to believe, also the wisest. I trust you to make sure none of the others does anything stupid as a result of my death." The only response he got was a curt nod. However, he was satisfied with that.
"Harry, Draco," he then said, looking at the youngest of them. "You are the youngest. I fear that, once we others are all gone, you will be the ones left behind. If and when that happens, and also now, remember that we don't really go anywhere. We share a soul, my dear ones. We cannot ever truly be apart."
The two nodded slowly, hesitantly. Then Draco said quietly, "I'll miss your voice, Remus," and Harry said, "I'll miss your smile." It was apparently all they could say now without starting to cry.
Now, Remus turned his eyes to the last of his husbands, seated in his wheelchair on the other side of the bed. "Severus," he said, clutching on the other's hand, "promise me."
Onyx met amber. "I promise."
No other words were needed; they both knew just what had passed between them.
Sirius had finally managed to stop his sobbing, although tears still streamed down his cheeks. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. They all knew -- although they tried to deny it -- that Remus was now living mostly with the force of will, had been for some time already. Now that he had seen his family for the last time and said his goodbyes, he had no reason to cling to life anymore.
Amber eyes swept over them for the last time, drinking in the features of each of them, a tiny smile lingering on the werewolf's lips. "I love you," Remus whispered, "I love you all so very much."
Then, very slowly, he close his eyes, his breathing evening out. Then it faltered, got weaker, and finally stopped altogether. Remus looked like he was just sleeping there, his head leaning to one side, a peaceful smile on his lips. However, they knew that from this sleep he would never wake up.
For a moment everybody stayed silent, unmoving. Then, suddenly, they found themselves all hugging each other, crying helplessly like lost little children, trying to find some reassurance in the closeness of each other. Remus was gone, a part of their soul was gone, and they were now torn and shattered.
They were no more who people thought about when the Lionsnakes were mentioned, if they'd ever been that. Everybody seemed to prefer calling them by their old names. Blaise and Sylvia would soon begin Hogwarts, and after that would come others, their youngest children and eldest grandchildren in the same classes, taking over the traditions of the name.
They didn't need to be Seers to know what would happen. The name of their family would spread as new branches were added were added to the already overgrown family tree, growing to cover new areas, new countries, new fields of life. One day the Lionsnakes would be one of the strongest Wizarding families, if not the very strongest, roots deep in the tradition, leaves reaching for the skies. One day nobody would remember the six men who had shared one soul, who had abandoned their old names and family bloodlines to live and raise a family together. However, it didn't matter. What mattered was that they were there now, they remembered and were there for each other, and one day would all be able to unite again.
A part of their life had just come to an end, but the tale of Lionsnakes had only just begun.
A/N: There will be no more chapters. There will be no sequel, either. The Lionsnakes may now freely continue their lives in your own minds, but, as much as I have enjoyed this, I will write no more of them.
It appears that this fic, intended to squick as many people as possible, actually managed to squick the incredibly amount of three people altogether. I don't know whether I should feel proud or disappointed. Either way, I hope you have enjoyed reading this story. I most certainly have enjoyed writing it.