It was a well known fact that Friday nights in the Gryffindor common room were not the ideal time nor place to study. After a week of classes, the students were ready to kick back, have fun, and generally make as much noise as possible.
Sirius, James, and Peter were doing their part in contributing to the noise of the room, and were playing a game that was a strange hybrid of Gobstones and Exploding Snap (explosions were more fun when they also involved puss and acid squirting at your face). Sirius felt that he was doing very well at the game, as in his next turn he had set it up so that James would almost certainly get a faceful of putrid liquid from a gobstone.
But James had lost focus on the game and was staring off across the room, a look of strange concern on his face. Sirius followed James' gaze and found him to be staring at Remus.
Remus, ever an oddity among students, was oblivious to the noise and commotion around him. He sat curled up in an armchair by the fire, completely engrossed in a disturbingly large book. A group of girls were chattering loudly beside him and now two fourth year boys were wrestling at the foot of his chair, but Remus was so absorbed in his book that he had an almost drugged look on his face.
"And just why is he 'poor' Moony?" Peter asked, carefully removing a card from underneath a gobstone. Sirius grinned. James would definitely be at the bad end of gobstone very soon.
"He's got no confidence. Look at him, hiding away in his book. When's the last time you can remember him asking a girl on a date? Never."
"Not everyone thinks that pestering a girl until she goes mad is the best way of finding a date," Sirius replied mockingly.
"But he's never gone after any girls. He's too shy. We know he's ace, but none of the girls do because he's too shy to talk to them. And I bet they'd flock to him, he reads all that girly Romeo and Juliet stuff. Girls love that."
Sirius snorted. It was quite absurd that James try to dictate what it was that girls liked, as his endless failed attempts at wooing Lily proved that he clearly had no idea.
"I don't think he's shy. He's just..." Peter paused, considering Remus. "Well, maybe he's a little shy."
James nodded in agreement, but Sirius raised an eyebrow at this. Were they talking about the same Remus? Remus wasn't shy. Sure, He could be a bit quiet around people he wasn't comfortable with, and sometimes he tended to get a little too wrapped up in the literary world, but he certainly wasn't shy. Had they missed Remus' acerbic dry wit, or the daring pranks he pulled off with them? There was nothing shy about Remus there.
James had an intent look on his face that usually appeared whenever he was presenting an idea that he thought to be particularly genius. "He's got no confidence. He lets his furry little problem get the best of him. What he needs is a confidence boost."
Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Honestly Prongs, Moony isn't wallowing in self pity."
"What he needs is a confidence boost," James repeated. "So, here's the plan. We get him a secret admirer."
Peter looked curious at the idea, but Sirius was skeptical. The look of triumph on James' face was quite unnecessary for such a stupid idea. James usually came up with brilliant plans, but every now and then he thought of something ridiculous like this.
"I don't think a secret admirer is something you just pick up at the shop. Where do you suppose we find one of those?"
"Oh, we don't need to find a real secret admirer. All we need to do is write some letters and send them to him, and sign them 'your secret admirer'. It's all about confidence. There doesn't need to be a real girl, because when he reads the letters he'll realize that girls do like him, and then he'll be able to start chatting up some real girls on his own. It's genius!"
"It's a bit fishy. Isn't he going to know it's from us? He'll recognize our writing."
"That's why I picked up this." James pulled a quill out of the pocket of his robes. For all appearances it looked like a normal quill, though there was still a shop tag attached to it. Sirius and Peter leaned in to read the tag.
'Perfect Penmanship Quill, ' Generic Girly'. Tired of being unable to read your own writing? Embarrassed at your notes looking like chicken scratch? Then the Perfect Penmanship Quill is for you! Simply use like a normal quill and find your writing instantly transformed into the perfect script you've always wanted. Generic Girly is the perfect feminine handwriting style for the girl who wants her notes to be pretty and practical. Also available in four other charming fonts.'
"So you see? It's the perfect idea. Soon our dear Remus will be chatting up some nice girls and living happily ever after, and all that. He needs this."
Peter nodded in agreement, but Sirius was less believing. It was quite a ridiculous plan. Sirius didn't want Remus to be falsely lead on by some girl, even if the 'girl' was actually the three of them writing pathetic letters. But still, once James had made up his mind it was essentially impossible to persuade him otherwise. Grudgingly, Sirius settled into the idea.
"Well, Black. It's up to you."
James held out the Perfect Penmanship Quill to Sirius.
Sirius didn't take the quill. "What? Why do I have to write these stupid letters?"
A delighted sneer spread across James' face. "You're the best suited for the job. You're the girliest."
"I am not."
"C'mon Pads, it's not that hard. Just write a soppy romantic letter to him and send it off. Some sort of romantic rubbish, 'I love you forever', and all that."
Sirius warily accepted the quill. He had never been very good at saying no to James.
James, having accomplished his goal, smiled triumphantly and returned to the game they had been playing. Sirius couldn't help but feel a smug surge of satisfaction as a gobstone sprayed putrid liquid into James' face.
But now it was Sirius who had lost focus on the game. He looked across the room at Remus, still absorbed in his book, and pondered.
'My Most Dearest Darling Remus,
For many long nights I hath sitten at the window, gazing out upon the stars and thinking of thee. I've kept it a secret close to mine own heart, but I have loved you from the exact moment my eyes first fell upon the divine vision of thy perfect face. My most deepest heart's desire is only that one day your heavenly beauty shall instill the confidence upon me to speak to thee.
Yours, most truly, now and always,
Your Secret Admirer'
Sirius stared at the finished letter for a moment before he crumpled it up and tossed it in the rubbish bin. No way would Remus would like this soppy garbage. The way Sirius abused the English language would probably make Remus physically ill.
Why was writing this so difficult? It really shouldn't be. In fact, James couldn't have been more right when he said that Sirius was the one who was best suited for the job. Sirius thought that it should be quite easy to write a love letter to someone you've secretly been in love with for months.
Really, Sirius thought that he could write a book about all the things he loved about Remus. Sirius could write about the little things, like Remus' smile or the colour of his eyes. Or Sirius could write about how bloody brilliant Remus was with the little twists he added to the Marauders' pranks. Or Sirius could write about how Remus' sense of humour was so horribly charming, even if he did make terrible puns. Perhaps above all Sirius could write about how strong of a person Remus was; that, in the dawn after the full moon, Remus could lay there utterly exhausted, shaking in pain and bleeding, and still be able to smile at his friends. That meant more than anything to Sirius.
But he couldn't very well write all that in a letter from a secret admirer.
He wanted to tell Remus the truth. Often Sirius had entertained the fantasy of confessing his love to Remus, and to have Remus admit similar feelings, and the both of them living happily ever after together and all that. But that chance of it actually playing out like that was very very unlikely. No, what would probably happen would be that Remus would say that he was flattered but did not feel the same, though they would still be good friends. They would go on the same, though a certain awkwardness would hang over them from then on and a wedge would be driven into their friendship forever. After nearly ruining their friendship over that stupid prank in fifth year, Sirius couldn't bear the thought of losing Remus again.
As a Gryffindor, Sirius knew he should be known for his bravery, but even Gryffindor courage wasn't strong enough to help him do this. Sirius would rather spend his life lonely but at Remus' side than without Remus at all.