Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to JKR. The plot is mine

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One Dark Night, I Dreamt of Youth…

The campfire flickered brightly on the shores of the lake. It was nearing midnight, and the black water lapped gently at the sand, a thick, viscous liquid that formed impressions on the shoreline even as it seamlessly erased them: a continual cycle of motion. Lily Evans yawned, blinking. If she wasn't careful, she was sure that the sound of the wavelets would lull her to sleep.

In a determined effort to stay awake, she stared into the fire, blocking out the drunken murmurings of her companions. The flames stretched toward the sky, quivering fingers of light reaching in a futile attempt to touch the stars.

An empty case of Firewhiskey lay abandoned several metres away, the wood of the crate dark and knotted, and strangely foreboding in the darkness. By all means, Lily was certain she could not call this night an uneventful one. She smiled to herself, chuckling as she recalled the boys' drunken and cavalier antics. They too had fallen silent now, the toll of the copious amounts of alcohol finally catching up with them. Or so she thought.

"So, Lily," James Potter murmured, smiling suavely as he stretched an arm around her waist. "Can't say we don't show you a good time, eh?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "James, I'm sitting in sand in the middle of the school grounds at midnight in my pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers. I'm having an awesome time," she told him teasingly.

"Well, we did say midnight snack," Remus Lupin clarified from the other side of the fire.

He lay on his side, lazily waving a stick in front of the fire, the golden flecks of his hair illuminated in the darkness.

"Not outdoors! It's creepy out here at night," Lily retorted, pulling her dressing gown closer.

When James had suggested a midnight snack, she had envisioned herself curled up with James, and perhaps joined by the other boys, in front of the crackling fire of the Gryffindor common room - a quiet, peaceful night with her boyfriend, not downing bottle after bottle of Firewhiskey in the abandoned school grounds with a bunch of wild Marauders.

Sirius Black grinned, the firelight catching his eyes, giving him, in Lily's opinion, a rather aptly demonic look.

"Creepy? That's nothing. You haven't been to the cannibal's lair in the Forest."

James and Sirius exchanged knowing smirks, and Remus simply shook his head, amused. Peter Pettigrew, however, straightened quickly and glanced apprehensively behind him, toward the Forest. It rustled in reply, making him jump.

"C-cannibals?" he repeated, alarmed.

Sirius threw a pebble at him. "Wormtail you idiot," he told him scathingly, taking a swig from his bottle.

Sirius winced slightly as the sapid taste of old, untempered Firewhiskey swirled down his throat. "You're enough to drive me to drink, I swear."

Lily sighed, gazing out into the night. Shadows settled like thick, warm blankets upon the surrounding hills. In the middle of the lake, she could see the Giant Squid basking in the moonlight; it's long, sleek tentacles performed pirouettes on the surface of the water.

Tired, she rested her head against James' shoulder, grateful for the warmth that seemed to radiate from him. As if reading her thoughts, he unclasped his cloak and resettled it so that it fell across her shoulder, covering her too.

James watched her snuggle closer, and smiled. Lifting his gaze, he met Sirius' eyes. His best mate nodded his approval, which only made James' smile widen. Glancing back down again, he stroked the soft waves of her hair, twirling them around gentle fingers to form delicate little curlicues of red.

"What we need," Lily murmured, " is a guitar. Muggles make music with them-"

"We know what a guitar is, Lily," Remus interrupted with smile.

"But why do we need one?" Peter protested, frowning.

He glanced over his shoulder toward the forest suspiciously, as if at any moment now he expected those cannibals to come creeping out toward them. The Forbidden Forest made him nervous.

Lily shrugged. "It's an old Muggle tradition," she explained. "Everyone sits around a campfire and sings."

Sirius frowned. He was sprawled on his stomach in the gritty lakeside sand, drawing in the soft dirt around him with his fingers. "We don't need a guitar. We need food," he complained.

Lily bit back a smile.

Sirius Black – incessantly hungry. Pleased to meet you.

A crinkling sound lit upon the night air, and everyone glanced toward Peter as he drew out a small packet.

"Crystallized pineapple, Padfoot?" he offered.

Sirius pulled a face. "Why on earth do you have crystallized pineapple?" he demanded harshly.

The smaller boy shrugged, selecting a long, thin stick and carefully threading some little yellow pineapple pieces onto it.

"You melt them in the fire; and then you eat them," he explained softly, doing just that.

The five watched as the small mounds of yellow seemed to glimmer above the fire before slowly transforming into little molten lumps of gold. Peter drew them out of the flames, smiling as he delicately took a bight. He winced.

"Argh – tis 'ot," he complained, wrinkling his nose.

The sensation appeared to pass quickly for in the next moment, the contents on the melting stick again disappeared into his mouth.

Sirius took another swig from his bottle, the dark brown glass of the bottle clinking against the ring on Sirius' finger. A man's ring, he called it. James, on the other hand, knew it to be the only thing Sirius possessed from his Uncle: it was a signet ring, emblazoned with the Black family crest – the only acknowledgement Sirius afforded to his estranged family.

Eyes half closed, he rolled over, regardless of the tiny grains that now clung to his clothes.

"You know what I really feel like?" he mumbled.

Remus yawned widely, picking up his own bottle of Firewhiskey hopefully; it was empty. He glanced toward the empty crate, regretful. "What do you feel like, Paddy?"

"A hot air balloon."

James and Lily exchanged looks of amusement; James' hazel eyes twinkled merrily.

"Why's that, Padfoot?" he asked lazily, planting his lips to Lily's forehead as an affectionate after-thought.

"Jus' do. We could go flyin' – watch the sun rise. Can't wait to get out of this place," Sirius mumbled. "So sick of Mc… McGonagaggle," he slurred, making Lily giggle. "Want to get out into that big, wide world. I want – I want adventure, ya know?"

"In a hot air balloon?"

Sirius smiled. "That'll get the girls," he reassured them with a wink.

Lily felt James shake with silent laughter, and shook her head, amused. Why was it that the only time Sirius showed an interest in girls was when he was drunk?

"I don't want to leave Hogwarts," Lily admitted softly.

She felt James' hand tighten on her waist in reassurance.

"Holds my fondest memories, this old place," Remus murmured his agreement, gazing up at the silent castle.

James sighed. "I guess we have to grow up sometime."

Sirius sat up, looking appalled. "You'll miss this place?" he repeated, stunned. "It's – its- boring!" he stuttered. "It's rules, and repressed students, and bossy teachers, and too much homework, and nasty exams…"

"And friendship, and laughter, and the best food in the world," James reminded him.

Sirius scratched his head. "I s'pose so," he agreed reluctantly.

From the far side of the fire, Peter emitted a soft snore. His head had fallen forward, so that his chin settled on his chest, his hair flopping into his eyes gently.

James slowly withdrew his arm from around Lily. One by one, the Marauders looked at each other, mischief written across their faces. Suddenly alert, they stood, and crept carefully towards the sleeping boy.

Lily opened her mouth to protest, before falling silent, too tired to argue.

Sharing a nod, each took a hold of Peter: Remus took his head, cradling it gently in his hands, while James and Sirius gently lifted him, each grasping a leg. Peter continued to sleep, cradled by air, as his friends gently maneuvered him toward the shoreline.

"One," Sirius murmured, swinging him gently.

"Two," James added, smiling at Lily.

"Three!"

They released him simultaneously, and the next moment there was a great THUNK as Peter hit the dark water, sending rippling wavelets into the shore.

"Gah!" the poor boy cried in alarm and surprise, standing and now fully alert.

Sopping wet, he waded back onto the beach, glaring at the boys. All three of them were doubled over in silent laughter.

Lily, however, beckoned him kindly toward the fire, and waved her wand. The next moment, his clothes were dry once more, and Peter shot Lily a grateful smile.

"Thanks," he mumbled.

Together, they watched the three friends kneeling beside the water's edge, and rolled their eyes.

The flames were dying now, their tired fingers licking the air lazily. Something crackled. Lily resumed her seat, drawing James' cloak back around her. One by one, the boys trickled back up to the fire, resuming their positions, and watched it die.

One dark night, I dreamt of youth…

It was fun, and light, and laughter, and fleeting –

Gone when I awoke.

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A/N: This was written for the May List Challenge on the Reviews Lounge Forum.

The Reviews Lounge is a community and forum that aims to raise awareness of talented but under-reviewed authors and their stories – we would love for you to drop by, read some of the work archived or say hi on the forum!

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P.S: For anyone who is wondering (because quite a few of you have asked, by now) the poem at the end is not a quote from somewhere else. It is mine; I wrote it, and therefore I shall claim it! Thank you :-)