The note arrived in the flurry of morning delivery when owls crowded the Great Hall in a veritable storm of feathers, leaving behind parcel and post. Remus Lupin found it tucked neatly behind his porridge and spent a moment wondering how it had gotten there when none of the owls had seemed to pause in particular near him. He trapped the note with desperate fingers as it began to move of its own volition.
"What's that?" Sirius demanded, wand still raised in the act of a Levitating Charm.
"Nothing," Remus mumbled, tucking it into his sleeve. The words Dear Remus had leapt out at him in gilded calligraphy font and he knew instinctively this was one letter he didn't want his friend reading. No one addressed a letter to him as such, particularly his parents. He thought of blaming James for pranking but his other friend was broadcasting delight to the entire table as he opened up a parcel from home. If he'd done something dodgy, one dark eye would be turned in Remus' direction to gauge the effect.
Later, with breakfast far behind and him in between classes, Remus ducked into the loo and unfolded the note with hesitant fingers.
Dear Remus. I've waited a long time to confess my true feelings. Please meet me by the statue of Adonis Gladheart in the fourth floor library after supper. Yours, An Admirer.
"Oh dear," Remus muttered, and immolated the note before flushing it down the head. He didn't want a speck of evidence to remain.
"Quit pacing," James said, "it's giving me a headache."
"Sorry to bother," Remus apologized at once, sinking onto the bed. He picked up a book, fumbled it open, and realized after several minutes that he'd opened it to entirely the wrong chapter and hadn't read a word, anyhow.
"Something wrong?" James prompted.
Remus blinked, and swallowed hard. It was ten minutes past supper and he was acutely aware of the continual sweeps of the second-hand on the enchanted clock just above Peter's bed.
"Whatever," James said breezily, slamming his book shut and making Remus jump. He stuck his wand behind his ear and stood looking Remus over for a moment. "You proper, really?"
Remus swallowed again, wincing as it stuck just past his Adam's apple.
"Right, well, I'm going to the library," James said, eyeing him doubtfully.
"The–ah, the library." Remus scrambled to his feet. "That's it, I have to go to the library – the fourth-floor one, James, will you come with me?"
James' black brows climbed up his forehead. "It's not haunted."
"No, no—but it's quieter, see–"
"All right," James said, scratching at his ear, causing tiny red sparks to cascade from the tip of his wand. He didn't seem to notice. "Let me grab Lily, then."
"Sure." Remus tasted gratitude spreading like iron across a bitten tongue. Perhaps he had, in fact, bitten his tongue. This was the perfect pretext. He had no idea who this Admirer could be – it still might, in fact, be the prank of another sixth-year – but at least with his friends there, he could always claim coincidence had brought him there.
"Ah...I'll be but a moment," Remus said quickly, setting down his pile of books and moving off into the library with a light, quick step.
Lily and James exchanged a glance, then set aside their own papers and schoolwork after a mutual nod.
Remus paid them no heed as he wove through the bookcases, alert for the slightest footfall, eyes scanning the stacks for a lone robed figure. Finally in a remote nook he found it – the statue of Adonis Gladheart, and a tall, dark head propped on a slender, fine-boned white hand. Quick dark eyes met his with astonishment.
"Remus?" The low, rich voice was uncertain.
"You're joking," Remus gasped, feeling his heart freeze in his chest. He continued reproachfully, "Sirius, this is a cruel trick."
Black's brows quirked. "What are you talking about? You–you asked me for this meeting." Sirius rose to his feet, dark hair sweeping over one shoulder, and cast him a sulky look.
"I?" Remus inhaled, voice rising an octave. He drew himself up with indignation to hide the quiver of his chin. "I found a note..."
"The note from this morning?" Sirius seized on that. He blinked, dark eyes unfocusing. "I found one tucked in my book when I opened it during class."
"So, someone's had us," Remus said steadily, using the tight clamp of control that helped him during waxing-moon days. It kept the quaver from his voice, barely. He turned.
Sirius' hand fell on his shoulder, keeping him immobile. "You came, Remus," he said, his voice low and steady. "Who were you expecting to find, Adrian Locksley?" He named a handsome sixth-year Ravenclaw, the only true rival to Sirius' claim on the hearts of the female population of Hogwarts.
"A-Adrian? Don't be stupid–"
Sirius' hand tightened. "Don't tell me...you don't know what it means for someone to ask you to the statue of Adonis?" he said, low voice thrumming with speculation.
"What does it mean?" Remus gasped, knowing it was a mistake, turning under the pressure of Sirius' fingers to face that intent, charismatic stare.
"Why, it means that a boy likes you," Sirius said, as if it were a matter of course.
Remus blinked like a landed fish for a moment until it processed. "You came," he said numbly. "But...but...but that means..."
Sirius laughed, the sound of it low and masculine and working the kind of magic on Remus that normally took a toe-curling dream to induce. "I like boys?" he supplied. "Yeah, I'll come clean."
"And Adrian–" Remus continued, faint with surprise.
"Adrian's not here and I am," Sirius growled, flexing his fingers on Remus' robe. "So? What you going to do about it? You didn't know...I s'pose I should let you off easy..."
Gears were turning in Remus' cranium, clicking into place. Remus had noticed, in point of fact, that while Sirius flirted with many, he fooled around with none. "Do you like all boys?" he asked quietly. "Or..."
"Give over, Remus, I've been wanting you for months and months," Sirius said, voice rough and his fierce black eyes sliding to a far corner of the room. "I just about shot my wand off when I saw you standing there. Sorry someone tricked you, now, if you want to be excused then say so and we'll shake hands and that'll be it–mmf–" His earnestly-delivered speech was interrupted with an enthusiastic kiss.
Sirius Black stood stock-still for a long moment, then his arms twined around the slighter robed figure, pulling Remus Lupin flush against him.
The kiss went on and on, past the point when breath should have given up on both.
"This is loads better than watching them fumble round the issue for months," Lily whispered from the dubious shelter on the far side of a doily-festooned credenza. Her green eyes were wide and brilliant as if she herself were the recipient of a love confession.
"Mmm," James agreed, nuzzling at her neck. "They would've gotten nowhere if not for me."
Lily cast her sharp green gaze on him now. "If not for us, you mean."
"Mmm." James' lips sought a spot behind Lily's fair ear. "Was my idea to have them meet by Adonis Gladheart."
"As if you could've charmed the note behind Remus' porridge, and Sirius' History of Magic book, without either of them realising," Lily continued, her voice tapering into breathlessness.
"Mmm," James verbalized, and it could have been agreement or disinterest as he pushed aside a handful of red hair and devoted his attention to trailing a chain of kisses toward her mouth.
Lily surrendered the field.