Disclaimer: Both Harry Potter and its characters created and owned by J.K. Rowling, and I do not claim any ownership over them or the world of Harry Potter. The story I tell here is my own invention, and it is not purported or believed to be part of J.K. Rowling's story canon. This story is for entertainment only: no profit will be gained from the creation of this story.

We Can Pretend (Until Time Runs Out)

Summary: When Sirius has the chance to change everything, he's pretty sure he's going to fuck everything up instead.

Chapter 1

"You Can Do Better Than That"

"Come on, you can do better than that!... And Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather's wasted, once-handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind and then fell back into place."

~ J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Date: June 18, 1996

"Come on," Sirius cried, laughing. Merlin, he hadn't had this much fun in ages. Ages! "You can do better than that!" He taunted, dodging a killing curse.

Bellatrix had never been able to best him at dueling and even now he knew she wouldn't. He also knew he should just disarmed her and been done with it—her shield charms had always been on the weaker side—but he was having too much fun to stop just then.

Opening his mouth to call out his next spell—Moody would have been extremely displeased as his refusal to use wordless magic but Sirius didn't care, it was too easy then—when he felt his world tilt and his feet go out from under him.

To his left, he heard someone screaming his name. Then he heard nothing more.

Date: September 1, 1974

Sirius Black, age 37, stepped onto Platform 9 ¾, his luggage firmly in hand. Besides him, his younger brother, Regulus Black, age 13, stood facing away towards their mother, listening,

"And remember, when you go to Hogwarts," his mother, Walburga Black, age 49, continued, "You are going as representatives of our house and name. I want to hear no reports of lollygagging and mischief-making. Sirius, are you listening to me?"

Sirius turned to face his mother and saw a painting, just for a moment, before he saw a woman, "Yes, Mother."

Walburga frowned. They had the same face, Sirius thought, they had the same face and the same eyes and the same hair. And one day, they would be the same height. And yet, he thought rather morbidly, he would never live to be as old as she was now. "What did I just say?"

Sirius wondered if he looked like that when he frowned and supposed he did. "No mischief-making or lollygagging that could hurt the family name," Sirius parroted, turning away again to roll his eyes.

He had heard this far too many times. First when he was truly a child and now again, a grown man in a child's body, all throughout the summer and now on the platform, off to school in a way he had not gone in 20 years.

Walburga gave him a look but said nothing else and turned back to Regulus, straightening his collar and tightening his tie.

Sirius turned his attention back to the Platform where families were saying their goodbyes, helping their children onto the train, or leaving, heading back to their lives. Outside his bubble with his long dead brother and mother, Sirius felt strangely disconnected from the world and everyone in it. He was just watching, taking it all in, and wondering how this was all possible.

He knew it was real.

When Sirius had first woken up in his bed, he was livid, horrified, disgusted. Bellatrix had beaten him! She had gotten the best of him! He felt like kicking himself. He should have just finished her off and been done with it. But…but he was sure that that would have been the last time Dumbledore would have let him out of the house and, honestly, he had just wanted to milk it while he could. Now he had lost and Snivellous was never going to let him hear the end of it. He felt like smothering himself and just being done with it.

And then Regulus had walked into his room, saying something about how their mother wanting him down for brunch with the second branch and Sirius had found himself screaming, throwing himself off the bed and forcing a shocked and terrified Regulus out of his room with a wandless wind charm strong enough to be felt throughout the house.

Father had been livid for all of 15 minutes (as Regulus had told him later) before the family had realized they couldn't force the door open. Apparently, Sirius had glued the door shut and even he was surprised by the strength. Azkaban had taken most of his magic and he hadn't had an accidental outburst since he was 11 when Snivellous had cut off all his hair during the fourth week of school.

It took them three hours to end the spell and it was only because Sirius had begun to feel the drain.

He didn't remember much after that.

He woke up again in St. Mungos, his brother sleeping on the edge of his bed and his father talking to a Healer. Mother was not there. Apparently, he had been in a coma for about four days and 12 hours. His magical levels had been dangerously low, even before his outburst, and his mindspace had shown signs of extended exposure to Dementors—"most likely brought on by a curse that had also drained his magic". He had also severally strained his vocal chords while screaming. They were going to keep him under observation for another day or two before discharging him.

They kept him for three when they saw his magic wasn't recovering as fast as it should have—usually a sign of acute starvation, but unexplainable in this case. When he returned to GrimmauldPlace in the company of his dead family, he went straight up to his room only to find himself without a lock—or a door for that matter. He felt like screaming, but refrained in hopes of not going to the hospital again—it had been painful playing dumb during the diagnosis.

The month after was one of Sirius' most surreal experiences that he was sure he was dead. He just needed to prove it. Certainly, these things that looked like his blood family where no more than projections of his dying mind, he just had to wait for them to trip up.

But they never did.

"What do you think of putting portrait in the Hall, Mother?"

"I have no time for this, Sirius."

"Hey, Reg! What do you think of the Lord Voldemort?"

"Shhhh! You want to get us in trouble!"

"Father, how do you suppose you die?"

"…I'll speak to you in a moment, Sirius. Now, where were we?"

"'Mr. Donevello, while I understand. I too implore you to understand. Someone nearly killed my son,' Mister Back."

"Thank you, Martha…Yes now, someone nearly killed my son and yet I do not see the DMLE doing enough to find out who did it…"

Finally, Sirius couldn't take it anymore. He didn't want this…this purgatory. He knew he was near death; when would he finally just die? He didn't want to see these people, people who were dead (especially, Reg who had taken to following him around and sitting with him as if they were children again). He didn't want to relieve his mistakes. Certainly not fifth year. He wanted out.

And he had heard that dying in dreams meant you died in real life too.

(He only hoped Harry could forgive him for his selfishness.)

Three weeks after the hospital visit, his family went to visit the Manor in the Parisian countryside. Their first night there, Sirius walked out of the fourth story window.

It was Kreatcher who found him and saved his life.

His father made sure no one outside of the four of them knew. He paid the Mind-Healer to keep quiet when Sirius insisted that he was dead and brought in world-renowned Healer Henry Olsich to find any lingering curses that could have done such terrible things to his heir's mind.

(In the end, Olsich found nothing to justify his expenses and so made claimed that it was a strange mixture of an Imperious Curse, Legilimeny, and a Cunfundo charm that caused Sirius to walk out the window and then later convince him he had died. Father contacted the DMLE immediately after demanding protection.)

After that, Sirius was forced to accept that maybe he wasn't dead, but back. That this was real. And that somehow, somehow during that duel with Bellatrix, he had been sent back in time into his 14-nearly-15 year old body and he felt sick.

And now here he was, about to board the Hogwarts Express, about to go to Hogwarts. About to walk through those doors as a free man, not a dog, just as he had dreamed of two years ago. Only it wouldn't be with Harry at his side, but…

"Sirius! Sirius, mate!"

Sirius felt ill. He stumbled back, nearly tripping over his own luggage. His mother caught him, her slim, strong fingers wrapping around his shoulders to keep him upright. "Sirius?"

Sirius opened his mouth, moved his jaw and tongue uselessly before he managed to make a sound, "I…I don't feel…"

His mother's hold tightened and she gave Regulus a pointed look, communicating to go get his father, Orion Black, age 50, who was talking to the Goyles a few steps away.

"I don't…" Sirius tried again, turning to face his mother.

"Breath, Sirius," his mother commanded, "Remember what the Mind Healer said." She spoke in whispers so that no one over heard and Sirius was sure if he were looking at this scene from outside his body it would look as if she were merely scolding him for something or the other, as always.

Mother had always been very good at keeping appearances.

Though after his near deaths, his family had changed (or maybe he remembered them poorly). His father spent more time with him, talking to him about the family business and the family politics. He took Sirius to the Ministry and let him sit in on a debate about the new tax regulations in the heir seat, something he hadn't done since he was 9. Regulus did not ignore him or keep his distance under Mother's watchful eye, but instead clung to him as if they were 10 and 7 and neither had ever been separated by house or family expectation or blood views. His mother had been the most surprising. She didn't spend more time with him or interact with him more than he remembered. She was the same, cold, unmovable fixture in his life as she had been until he ran away that summer (next summer?). She did not mention his friends or his house or his views. If something upset him, she made it go away unless it pleased her. She allowed the house-elves to make his favorites for dinner some days.

It was strange. He had never seen his mother so...attentive. Or at least, not towards him.

Father looked at him over his mother's shoulder, "Sirius, what is wrong?"

Sirius could not speak.

"Orion, is everything all right?"

The urge to hurl intensified and he took heavy breaths. He took another step forward into his mother's hold and kept his head bowed. He didn't want to see who that voice belonged to even though he knew.

Regulus held his hand.

"It is fine, Harry" his father said, turning to face Harry Potter, age 55, and his family: wife, Margret Potter, age 49 and son, James Potter, age 15.

Sirius squeezed Regulus' hand back, tightly.

"Is Sirius all right?" Mrs. Potter—he used to call her Mum, the only woman he had ever called Mum—asked. Mother's grip moved him closer and away from the gathered family.

"I thank you for your concern, but Sirius is fine." His mother replied.

Suddenly, an Auror, Ashworth, stepped forward and said, "The area is secure, sir."

Sirius sparred a glance to see his father's face tighten. Obviously, he did not want the Potters to know what was going on.

"Thank you, and the train?"


A second Auror stepped forward and took the bag from Sirius' hand. "If you could please accompany me, Mr. Black."

Sirius took a deep breath, trying to get his heart rate to settle, and nodded. His mother let go. Regulus held his hand and together they boarded the train.

Sirius never looked at James. He couldn't do it. But he knew what he looked like. He knew James' face; he knew James' reactions. He knew that if he turned, he'd see James was confused and worried, but mostly worried: eyebrows furrowed and jaw clenched with his lips drawn in in a tight frown. He would see the way his hair stuck up in every different directions as if he'd never seen a comb in his life and the way his dress shirt wouldn't be tucked in and his robes would be falling off him despite being sized perfectly. And he could see all of this without looking and his knees gave out the minute he stepped into the compartment where the Aurors had placed their bags.

"Sirius," the second Auror, Baggins, asked, "Can you tell me what is wrong?"

Sirius took deep breaths, "Nauseous," he said finally.

"Do you feel like you're being compelled?" Ashworth asked.

Sirius shook his head. "Weak, though," he added, "As if all my energy was gone." Give them a little and they'd run with it. Just enough of the truth to back the lie.

"Baggins, stay with him, I'm going to alert Moody that there's been an incident," Ashworth commanded before leaving the room.

Baggins took a seat across from him. She was a nice looking girl, wavy hair and a strong face. Not his type, but all right. If his body had been just 4 years older, he'd made a pass at her. In fact, part of him remembered that even at this body's current age he'd have made a pass at her. But now…now he was much too old for her at 37 and her at 26. Plus, he wasn't sure he remembered how to make a pass at someone. He hadn't done so in 18 years.

Lying down with his head in Regulus' lap, he decided he would have to learn how again. If he was going to convince anyone that he was the same Sirius Black he had been when he was 14-nearly-15 years old.

He knew he'd already mucked things up. Couldn't even look at his best friend. Regulus pet his hair and Sirius imagined it was Harry petting Padfoot and began to feel sleepy.

Yes. He'd have to fix things…if he wanted to change anything, he was going to have to fix things.

Himself, included.

A/N: Just a story I wrote when I was bored and looking for Sirius-goes-back-in-time fics that seemed to have all mysteriously been removed from this site in the five years I was gone *sad face* I might continue it when I have time and if ppl want to read it.