This is an outtake – well, more like an alternate beginning – to chapter three of my story "Finding Home." I couldn't quite make it work in the story and wrote a different nightmare scene instead, but I figured that since I wrote this I might as well post it. It takes place during the Marauder's second year at Hogwarts. I think it makes sense on its own, even without the context of the larger story.

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Sirius sat upright, his heart pounding, his eyes wide open with panic. Had he screamed out loud? It had been the sensation of falling that had finally woken him. The nightmare had been long and intricate, and had felt terribly, terribly real. He wondered if it was the Black blood in him that enabled his mind's eye to see so vividly what may have happened to Ceclilia Sinicky's children. Even as the nightmare began to fade, he felt a wave of nausea, hating himself for even being able to picture those things.

"Nightmare, Sirius?" From across the room, Peter's voice was quiet and shaky.

"Yeah," Sirius said, embarrassed. Apparently he had screamed out loud.

"About the story in class today?"

"Yes." Sirius really did not want to discuss this.

"Me too," Peter said softly. "It was awful."

There was silence for a few minutes, and Sirius thought Peter must have gone back to sleep. What kind of torture would a professor refuse to even talk about? Sirius wondered for the millionth time. The silence was broken by Peter yet again. He was whispering, but his voice still carried in the silent room.

"Remus? Remus, you awake?" His voice still trembled a little bit.

"Yeah. I'm awake." He didn't even sound sleepy. "What do you need, Peter?" Remus prompted him when Peter didn't speak right away.

"I was wondering..." he sounded extremely embarrassed, and in his mind's eye Sirius could see him turning red. "I was wondering if maybe I could sleep with you tonight."

"Oh, thank Merlin," James's voice said from beside Sirius before Remus even had the chance to answer. He heard feet hit the floor, and James walking to Remus's bed.

"What?" Remus said. "You had a nightmare too?"

"Are you kidding me?" James asked scornfully. "I haven't even been able to fall asleep. Move over."

Sirius was about to say, "You guys have got to be joking," but he stopped himself. He knew that James must be extremely scared if he was willing crawl into bed with Peter and Remus, and Sirius couldn't bring himself to humiliate him by teasing him about it. He shook his head as he listened to his friends all climbing into bed, then closed his eyes again, trying to calm his mind down enough to sleep.

"Come on, Sirius," James ordered, and Sirius's eyes popped back open.

"What?" Sirius asked, startled.

"Yeah, what?" Remus echoed. "My bed is only so big, James!"

"It'll hold one more," James said dismissively. "You were screaming in your sleep, Sirius, so don't pretend you're tough. Get over here."

Then Sirius understood. James wasn't going to run the risk of Sirius teasing them the next day, or worse yet, telling everyone else in school that the three friends were driven to nightmares by a silly Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Sighing, he crawled out of his own bed, and crawled in beside Remus.

"Hey."

"Hey," Remus echoed, mirroring Sirius's slightly amused, slightly sheepish expression.

Sirius laid perfectly still, trying not to roll off the edge of the bed. No one said anything for several minutes and then James's stomach growled, breaking the silence and making everyone laugh.

"Hey, at least I didn't fart," he said defensively.

"Absolutely no farting in my bed!" Remus ordered, sounding almost panicked, and the boys all roared with laughter. "I mean it! I mean it!" The boys laughed even harder, and James elbowed Remus good-naturedly. Remus elbowed him back, and the two of them instantly began pushing and shoving each other, each trying to push the other off of the bed. The result, of course, was that Peter and Sirius both fell off instead.

"Hey, watch it!" Sirius growled, reaching up and snatching the pillow off of Peter's bed so he could smack them with it. He triggered a full-out battle. Ten minutes later, all four boys were collapsed on the bed, panting.

"You know," James said as he tried to catch his breath, "that was our first pillow fight of the term!"

Sirius thought back over the past couple of weeks and realized that James was right. "We didn't even have one the first night!" He felt a bit disappointed, actually. He liked the idea of starting each year off with a pillow fight.

"Well, nothing we can do about it now," Peter said. Like Sirius, he was now lying with his head at the foot of the bed.

"Except make up for lost time," Remus said, and his smile could be heard in the dark. For a boy who was generally quiet and passive, he was fierce with a pillow. "Why is it," he asked with insincere annoyance, "that we always have pillow fights on my bed?" His sheets had nearly come off the bed completely, which was convenient as it allowed Peter and Sirius to crawl under the covers as well.

"That's not true!" James protested. "Sometimes we tear up Peter's bed."

"Next time, we're going after yours, James," he grumbled, and James laughed. James, Sirius, and Peter had all settled in for the night, but Remus was still tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. "All right, who has two pillows? I don't have one."

Sirius smirked and settled down still more comfortably with his two pillows, and Remus smacked his legs. "Give me."

"What makes you think it's me?" he protested, but his friend had already leaned forward and was yanking one of the pillows out from under his head.

"It's my bed. I definitely get a pillow."

Sirius let him take it, still smiling as his head landed on the remaining pillow. He was pleased to discover that he couldn't remember his nightmare anymore. He snuggled into the bed, pulling the covers up to his neck. He felt safe and warm, and slept without dreaming.