How to Write a Love Letter Summary: James writes his first love letter. Well, he tries, anyway. One shot-y goodness.

Written to celebrate and give thanks for my 500th favorites' lister…which, by the way, is so insane I can't even begin to contemplate it. Going on six years of doing this is paying off in a big, happy way, I guess. ;)

"I swear on petits fours, Zonko's, Heather Locklear, and all other things holy in this world," James said immediately upon entering Sirius's bedroom, where the other boy was lying on his bed, his knees drawn up to his chest, the Evening Prophet resting on his thighs, "if you tell anyone—and, yes, Moony and Wormtail fall under the category of 'anyone' in this situation—what I am about to ask you, I will ritualistically dismember you with a blunt object, limb by limb, and then dispose of your body in a lake filled with piranhas, do I make myself clear?"

Sirius considered this. "No, actually," he replied calmly, blinking up at his best friend with wide blue eyes.

James exhaled loudly, obviously disappointed. "Really? I practiced that speech all the way here."

Sirius smirked. "The whole voyage down the hallway?"

"Ask your question, tosser."

"Am I dead when you throw me into the piranha pit," Sirius inquired, folding his arms over his chest, "or just…limbless?"

James thought. "Leaving you alive would cause more pain," he mused. "However, you could die of blood loss before I even get you to the piranhas." He shrugged. "The piranhas are mostly for the clean disposal of the body, really, so I suppose you would be dead first."

"Excellent," Sirius said, folding up the paper and casting it aside, positioning himself so that he was sitting cross-legged on his bed, his hands clasped together in his lap and an angelic, oxymoronic smile on his face. "How can I help?"

James poked his head out into the hallway for a second before closing the door, as if to make sure no one was eavesdropping on them. His right hand gripped the shiny doorknob, his left tugged at the pockets of his trousers. "I want," he mumbled, "to write…" He said something else, but it was rendered completely unintelligible by the gruffly guttural tone of voice he was using to disguise his embarrassment.

"Prongs," Sirius smiled, still using his Susie Salesgirl tone of voice, "you and I talk about everything. This must be the seventeen thousandth time you've come to ask me for help with something humiliating, and every time, we go through at least a half an hour of me trying to decipher your incomprehensible babble before we actually get to the hilarious inquiry itself. Maybe we could skip that part this time and get right to work chipping away at your self-esteem?"

James glowered, though in all honesty, James's glowers weren't very effective, on account of the fact that he was wearing his horn rimmed glasses (he wore wire-rimmed ones for everyday things, but he felt the horn rimmed ones gave him the appearance of intellect, and thus, had actually come to believe that they helped him think) and his fringe was awfully overgrown, so when he glowered, his eyes kinda got lost behind the spidery fringe and the thick spectacles. "Fine," he said crossly. "Fine. Laugh all you want. 'Oh, it's poor, pathetic James again, wanting help because he's so pathetic that he can't even solve his own pathetic problems.'"

"Oh, I would never say that," Sirius assured him. "If I'm going to repeat an idea, I usually like to use a different word for it every time. So what I'd actually say is, 'Oh, it's poor pathetic James again, wanting help because he's so pitiable that he can't even solve his own wretched problems.'"

James ignored him, plowing on. "'I wonder if he'll ask me to borrow my talking Kama Sutra again'—"

"Don't know why you'd do that," Sirius said. "I already told you, I threw it away; I don't need it anymore."

"—'or maybe he'll ask when an appropriate time to ask his girlfriend to dress up as a cupcake would be'—"

"I'd just tell you 'never' again," Sirius replied, picking at a loose thread in his red and black striped socks. "That is too weird a fetish you have, Prongs. Vanilla girl like Lily, she'd never go for that. I don't even think your ex-girlfriend would do that, and she'll do anything with a pint or twelve in her."

"—'or maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky and he'll just ask for advice on how to kill himself!'"

"Oh, don't say that," said Sirius solemnly. "I would hope that our friendship would mean enough to you to ask me to kill you, should it ever come to that."

James, red-faced with anger, made a low, strangled, snarling sound in the back of his throat. "I don't know why I ever ask you for anything," he muttered, turning the doorknob under his hand and jerking the door open violently. "Don't listen anyway, more interested in making jokes at my expense—" He stormed out of the room, shaking his head as he went.

"Oh, Prongs," Sirius called, leaning over so he could watch James's retreating form, "don't leave like this. I do hate it when you leave angry. Come on, I won't laugh at you. Come, tell Brother Padfoot your troubles."

It was with a satisfied smile that Sirius greeted James's return.

"You promise you won't laugh?" James grunted, closing the door in a distinctly sullen manner.

"On my mother's grave," Sirius said seriously, raising his hand as if to say, 'Scout's honor.'

"Your mother is still alive."

"God willing, not for much longer," Sirius muttered, scratching at his temple. "Anyway, what is it? Performance anxiety? Withdrawls? You have been away from Lily Vanilly quite a bit lately, are you going through a rough patch?" He blinked innocently at his best friend, his eyes wide with concern and curiosity and the slightest bit of laughter, which was not lost on James.

"'Lily Vanilly'?"

Sirius grinned. "D'you like it? I made it up when I called her vanilla earlier. I think it's catchy."

"Lily hates nicknames, as you should know."

Sirius sighed wistfully. "Yes. Pity 'Slave driver', 'Lady Satan', 'Gold digger', 'Killjoy', and the resulting 'Joy' met such violent ends. However, 'Lily Vanilly' has the all-important rhyme factor, which was sadly lacking in 'Lady Satan', which was my particular favorite. I think this could be the one that stays, as it does not attack her personality whatsoever, simply her name." He paused. "Okay, it does attack her personality, but she doesn't have to know that."

James eyed him warily. "You still call her 'Lady Satan' in your head, don't you?" he said, but not in an accusing way—more resignedly than anything.

Sirius gave a coy smile. "Sometimes I do," he nodded. "Anyway, stop avoiding the question of your question: what is it you need from Sirius, God of Sex?"

James rolled his eyes. "I wish you'd stop calling yourself that," he said irritably. "It seriously undermines your credibility."

"Ah, or does it add to it?" Sirius shook himself. "Stop steering the conversation in my direction! You know I'm powerless not to talk about myself! For once, James, let's talk about your miserable excuse for a life."

James attempted to glower again.

Sirius tried not to laugh. Audibly. Or visibly.

"As you know," James began, with as much dignity as he could muster, "Lily and I have been separated for much of this, our first month out of school. I feel this separation, while ostensibly temporary, could have disastrous effects on our budding relationship."

At the phrase 'budding relationship', Sirius began to snicker. James shot him a very dirty look before continuing.

"I feel it imperative for me to establish a…romantic form of communication early as soon as possible, so as not to have our relationship fizzle out before its time."

His speech was met with confused silence from his best friend.

"Well?" James prompted.

"I didn't see a question anywhere in there," Sirius confessed plaintively.

James scoffed, annoyed. "I want to write a love letter," he explained snappishly, color rising to his cheeks.

Sirius's entire face lit up.

And James was sure he felt one of those Sirius-induced migraines—frequent amongst all who knew him—coming on.

"Okay, the first thing you want to do with a love letter," Sirius began, hitting his open palm with a yardstick as he paced the small stretch of floor in front of his desk, which was where James was sitting, a clean piece of parchment in front of him. James was clutching an exuberant peacock feather quill that practically screamed of flamboyance and monitoring Sirius's progress nervously, "is establish what sort of letter it is to be with the initial address."

At James's confused expression, Sirius clarified, "What you call her. Like, for a caring, romantic letter, you would write, 'My darling Lily'—Vanilly, his head instantly added, but Sirius ignored it—or 'Lily"—Vanilly—"'light of my life', or 'Sunshine in the storm, thy name is Lily Vanilly.'"

James looked up from the paper, which he appeared to be taking notes on.

"I did not mean to say 'Lily Vanilly' out loud," Sirius said genially. "My apologies. Feel free to scratch out 'Vanilly', because I know you wrote it down."

James did so.

"Now, conversely, if you want to do…a dirty letter—and please, God, say you don't want to—you would write something like…" Sirius searched his mind for something suitably sexy, but tame enough for a couple like Steve and Sally Suburbia over here. "'Hey there, Honeycakes' or…knowing you, something else to do with cake."

"I think," James said, either ignoring the last comment or not hearing it, "I'll just go with 'My darling Lily'." He blinked owlishly at Sirius behind his glasses. "She might kick me for any of the others."

"I think you're right about that," Sirius agreed. He was extremely relieved to hear that James did not want to go the Honeycakes route. He really had no desire to teach James how to write vaguely pornographic propositions and comments but then match them up with enough sweet things to ensure Lily would still talk to him after she received the letter.

Using another piece of paper, James copied the 'My darling Lily' line with painstaking attention to his (hopeless) penmanship. The tip of his tongue actually stuck out of his mouth as he added a flourish to the 'y' in Lily's name. "Okay," he said as he finished that project, dipping the quill in the inkwell in front of him—the perfect student. "Okay, what do I write next?"

"In this particular case," Sirius said, inspecting every age-induced groove on the yardstick, "you would talk about how much you miss her."

James replied, "All right, but what do I say?"

"You talk about how much you miss her. For a paragraph or so. Use sentences like, 'My heart has a hole in it, and that hole is only fillable by you' and 'my fingers ache to touch you' and all that good stuff."

James frowned. "All right," he said slowly, "but what do I say?"

Sirius found himself wanting to beat James over the head with the yardstick with such burning intensity that it worried him. A little. Until he realized it was completely justified. "Prongs, I cannot write a love letter to your girlfriend for you."

James's expression suggested that he had just been abandoned. "Why?"

"Um, a couple of reasons," Sirius said. His fingers were tightening over the yardstick. "One, I don't love her."

"You don't love half the girls you write letters to," James pointed out sulkily.

"I love all of those girls in different, special ways," Sirius said defensively.

"Weird Skunk Hair Girl?"

"Alexandra has a beautiful—"

"Chest," James supplied, nodding.

"—personality. How dare you suggest I'm shallow?" Sirius sucked in a calming breath. "Two, I don't even like Lily very much, to be truthful."

James stuck out his lower lip—he was pouting.

"Three, she's your girlfriend. I don't want to write a love letter to her; I am merely helping you do so because you are my best friend and if it were not for me, let's face it, you would not even have a girlfriend, so I feel some responsibility towards this freak show of a relationship."

James pushed the paper and the quill away from him. "I can't write this," he declared dramatically. "I am just not good at it. You know how much I miss her; you complain about how I whine about it at every opportunity. I tell you everything. We're very nearly the same person, Padfoot—"

"I draw the line there," Sirius interrupted. "I am nothing like you, Prongs."

"But you know me," James wheedled. "You know me, and because you know me, you can write like me. Come on. Tell Lily all my feelings."

Sirius glared.

James flashed him his best, most convincing grin.

Sirius threw the yardstick down moodily and picked up the quill.

My darling Lily,

Every hour that I am without you feels like a day. It's very lonely here, even though Sirius does his best to brighten up my life, the relief he provides from the gloom of your absence is brief, and I always just end up missing you more afterward.

I hope your sister isn't giving you too much trouble, and that your job hunt is going well. I have complete confidence that you'll find something you like soon enough—and hopefully I'll be able to see you more once that happens.

I keep thinking about the last day I saw you—last week, we had dinner. I just replay that night over and over again in my mind—your dress, the story you told me about Petunia's latest diet, how we snogged for a good thirty minutes on that bench in the park.

Write back soon; I can't wait to hear from you.

With love,

James

A/N: If you caught the Josie and the Pussycats reference, I applaud you. :)

Pointless, short, fun, fluff-like substance that took me…three hours to write. Huh.

Must. Sleep now.