Severus was supervising a late detention. I offered to stay and keep him company, while some hapless student scrubbed cauldrons or repeated a lesson until he or she got it right, but he had waved me off to our quarters, and I returned gladly enough, thinking about what I had planned to mark the third anniversary of our bonding. I murmured our password, a smile coming to my lips as always. When we were together, he always made me say it, his lips twitching in a vain attempt not to smile, his eyes seeking out mine.

"Forever yours," I would say, and every time, it ended in a kiss, the door waiting patiently for us to end it and enter, so it could close behind us and leave us to prove the point once again. I am his.

I moved to my desk, surprised to see that I had left my journal open, but realizing that I had been writing when he emerged from our room that morning, and distracted me, dressed in nothing but those damned silk boxers he knew I could not resist… And then we had had to scramble to make it to class on time, my cheeks blushing, knowing that the students and faculty would know very well why we had not made it to breakfast, and his low laugh followed me down the corridor when we parted. I am his.

I re-read what I had been writing… wanting so much to let him know… just how much I loved him.

My Severus,

I love you.

I love knowing you… knowing things about you others do not know… that your cotton boxers are white, but your silk ones are black… that you write poetry – which I have never seen, though I have seen you writing, a far-away, dreamy look in your eyes. I love knowing you read Sherlock Holmes – Muggle mysteries. "It sharpens one's mind," you told me, the first time I saw you with one. And that you love cinema – especially Muggle horror films. I love that you hum Scheherazade when you scramble eggs for us on Sunday mornings. I love that you abhor popcorn and broccoli and things that get stuck in your teeth. I love that you have seven – precisely seven – wands, that you caress them with careful fingers, oil them religiously, yet inevitably choose the ebony wand that suits your fingers so well.

I love the sigh that escapes your lips when you sink down into a lavender-scented bath, casually flicking a hand to warm it from time to time. I love that you inevitably call, "Come talk to me," and that we inevitably end up in the bath together, teasing each other with our toes and scrubbing each other's back. I love the softness of your lips on my neck, and the way your breath hitches when I kiss just under your left ear. I love the potion-stained fingers that you pretend to despair over but secretly cherish – the sign of your Mastery, your identity.

I love your stockinged feet, stretched out in front of you as you sit on the sofa in front of the fire, reading or catching up on correspondence on the lap desk I gave you last Christmas – just so you would leave your desk more often and sit by me.

I love your passion for your profession – both potions and teaching, and your passion for protecting… those people and things you cherish, including me. I love the small smirk on your face when you tease me, and that it makes me melt every time. I love that only I know that you are a deeply spiritual man.

I love that you love me, the feel of your arms around me in the kitchen, your hand on mine as you correct my method of stirring a cauldron, your voice as you read to me and the secret smile on your face when I accede to your demand that I read to you – or to any other demand. I love your possessiveness, for I want to belong to you, only you.

I love the way your eyes warm and sparkle with fire when you catch me watching you, the way you breathe my name in your sleep, and call it aloud when we come together. I love the sweat of you, mid-lovemaking, and the sweet sounds of your grunts and sighs and whispers and calls when we make love. I love that you want me.

I love your blazing temper and derisive sneer, the way your eyes flash and your lip curls, the exquisite care with which you form the put-down or cutting criticism. I love that you practice these aloud in front of a mirror that chides you to "Be nice, Severus!" I love that you don't know that I know this.

I love that you save your grin for me and me alone, for times we scamper out of duty and take off on a lark to hunt elusive, sometimes imaginary, beasts, or berries and potion ingredients. I love your triumphant shout when you happen upon a rare plant to supplement your potions ingredients, your derisive snort at others' lack of enthusiasm over your finds, and the twinkle in your eye when you know why it's important and they don't. I love that you bring me a single flower when you know I am sad or lost. I love that we dance together to music only we two can hear. I love your elegant, beautiful fingers, your beautiful face, your dark eyes that see me, even in the darkness of sleep or nightmares or memory.

I love every single thing about this man, this wizard, the Potions Master who has claimed me, and made me his.

I love that you love me. I'm yours… forever yours… only yours.

I thought it might do… incomplete, but… I turned a page to try to pen some other things, and caught my breath at the familiar, thin writing that followed my own.

Beloved,

I love you. I love that you gave me this chance – to know you, to love you. I love that you forgave me, still forgive me, even when it is impossible for me to forgive myself.

I love that you brought laughter and joy and the need for music and flowers and dancing into my life, into our home. I love the feel of you in my arms. I love what you have done to my heart.

I love your energy and your courage and the fact that only I know that these have limits. I love that you turn to me in your sadness and loss and fear, and that you take comfort in me, of all people. I love the feel of you in my arms, my beloved, when you need me… when I need you. I love that you sit with me in my darkness and bring the light.

I love that you pull me out of the dungeons, out of the school, out of Hogwarts and into the world, that you do not let me sit in my gloom, that you still let me teach you, even though you, I assure you, teach me. I love that you are teaching me, have taught me, to be gentle, and that loving should include laughter, and that tears do not make a man any less strong.

I love the smell of leather and broom polish and sweat on you after a Quidditch game – and that you let me scrub it from every inch of you, before we fall, exhausted and laughing and loving, into bed, where we engage in… other sports. I love that you kiss the corner of my mouth, and say, "Love you, Sev," and curl into me, falling asleep and leaving me bemused and bedazzled and bewitched, every single time we make love. I love that you let me make love to you… that you make love to me… that we make, create, build love with each other. I love the scent and sound and taste of our lovemaking. I love when you tell me I'm beautiful, even though I don't believe you.

I love that when I hold you, you fit so neatly under my chin, into my body, into my heart. I love that you want me on the sofa with you, that you tap my toes with your own, that your fingers find their way to mine, so that I want to let the work stop and just sit with you, my own love, lost in the feeling of being loved… of loving… of this. I love that you make it hard to go to work every morning, and so easy to come home every night. I love that you call my name when we make love, and whisper it in your sleep. I love that just looking at you makes my breath stop, in wonder that you could ever love me.

I love that you championed me to your friends until they took me in, that you have added that love to my life, and refused to let me take it from yours. I love your bare feet slapping on the floor of our quarters, the way your sleep pants slip down your hips so enticingly, your tousled hair and sleepy eyes as you work your way into your first cup of tea. I love how beautiful you look, dressed for yet another Ministry function, and that you are proud to be on my arm, in public, proud to let others know we are together. I don't understand that, but… I do love it.

I love the way your hands trace my scars as if they are marks of beauty, badges of honor, and the wide-eyed look of love and adoration in your eyes when you finally lift your eyes to mine when you are done tracking my scars, yet again. I love the way you take my breath away, and the fact that you laugh in that absurd way when I lick and kiss my way down your belly. I love that you try, and fail, and keep trying, to brew Amortentia, and laugh when I say I have brewed enough to keep you enslaved forever. I love that you play wizard's chess with that gangly friend of yours, and the sound of your laughter as you argue rules and points. I love every bit of evidence of you in my life, in my home, in my heart. I love that you have love enough for the whole of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and Godric's Hollow and London and the Burrow combined – but that you are mine, and prove it, every day, every night.

I love you, beloved. I love that you are mine. I pledge myself to you, forever and ever. I am yours.

Always. Your Severus

A soft sound told me he had come home as I read, stunned, tears running down my face. I turned to find him behind me, that soft step, that silent snake, the only man I could ever have loved… the only man I would ever belong to, would ever want to call mine, the only man who made me feel safe… home. I laughed through my tears. He'd brought me a daisy again, and as I took it, he held out his arms, and caught me when I threw myself at him, sobbing out my joy and my love for him, my gratitude for his love, for the fact that we were both still here, and he caught me up and took me to our room, and showed me, yet again, just how very much he loves me.