A/N: This is a work of fanfiction, produced for fun, not profit. J K Rowling owns the characters; I'm just messing about with their lives.

"Marry me."

Two words. He could have said them anytime, anywhere. He could have taken her to a nice restaurant and slipped a ring into her wine glass. He could have cooked her dinner and gone down on bended knee. He could have whispered them as he held her in his arms in the warm afterglow of love-making. But in the end, they were lying on the sofa, reading by the firelight, on a very ordinary November evening when he uttered those words; her head resting in his lap, him absently stroking the mass of curls atop her head.

Two words, softly spoken.

"Marry me."

It wasn't quite a question, but nor was it a demand. On the surface, it was a simple request; a suggestion. She knew better.

"Marry me. Will you marry me? Make this arrangement permanent. Do me the honour of becoming my wife. Stay with me. Forever.

"Please, don't ever leave me. I have no doubt that we will bicker and fight, and I will get upset, and I will say hurtful things, because I don't know any other way. I will try to push you away when all I really want is to hold you close. I won't mean it. So promise me you'll never walk away, that you'll give me the chance to apologise. Don't turn your back on me like so many before. Promise you'll never give up on me.

"Reassure me that you really don't care about the age difference. Because I still worry that you might. For almost two decades, I was older than my years; now I'm playing catch-up. I look up to you now, and I need your guidance.

"I need you. Before you and I were You-and-I, I didn't think I needed anyone. I was wrong. I survived on my own for a long time, but that was before you showed me what living really was.

"I love you, so much more than you'll ever know. And I know you love me too, even if I struggle to understand why. So let me make you mine forever, and I will be yours... Always."

That was what he wanted to say; what he would have said, if he hadn't been quite so... him. But he was Severus Snape: he would never be good at expressing his feelings. So he just said two words.

She knew what he meant.


So there we have it: my first ever Harry Potter fanfic. I hope it will be the first of many, and I have lots of ideas for stories to come, so I'd really, really appreciate knowing what you thought of it. Please tell me what you liked, and what you didn't like - I want to hear it all! Reviews make me happy, and keep me going!