Disclaimer: all characters belong to J K Rowling and Warner brothers.

a/n see bottom. The title won't make sense until later, so bear with me here. One of the first stories I actually took the time to plan past the climax! Should probably keep the habit…

Cheating Death
by neutral

Chapter one - cheating lies

Harry rubbed his eyes groggily as he glanced at the clock in the dim light. It was still dark, but he didn't feel like sleeping again. The nightmare was still fresh in his mind, and although he couldn't remember it, he could still feel the lingering sense of pain and hopelessness. He had been having a lot of dreams lately, but he was sure they were not about the Triwizard Tournament. Harry would remember those; the ones he had lately were different. Shrugging, he pushed them out of his mind. As long as his scar didn't hurt, he didn't have to worry. But then again, his scar had been burning persistently ever since summer began, and he had learned to ignore it. Harry's definition of his scar hurting was a sharp blinding pain strong enough to split his skull.

Harry glanced out the window, barely making out the shadows. The moon had already set, and Hedwig would be returning soon. He wondered if she'd bring any mail tonight. During the summer, Ron and Hermione had been bombarding him with letters of encouragement; Harry knew they were mostly concerned, especially after the Triwizard Tournament. He was glad at least someone seems to care that he was still alive.

But Sirius didn't even send one.

It was totally uncharacteristic of Sirius, especially since over two weeks had passed, and over a month and a half since they communicated. Harry knew he was probably busy with Dumbledore's business, but knowing Sirius' personality, he would probably send him at least one or two letters telling Harry that he was safe.

He wanted to write, but he knew he probably shouldn't. What if his letter gave away Sirius' position? What if it was intercepted? What if he got caught? But what if he was already caught? Dumbledore would tell him, wouldn't he?

Sighing in defeat, Harry drew out a piece of parchment. He couldn't deal with the nagging voices anymore.


Is everything alright? I haven't heard from you for some time and I was getting a bit worried. Sorry if I'm not suppose to write to you; I'll keep it as short as possible. Everything is fine here.

Harry paused in his scribbling, wondering if he should tell Sirius about the strange dreams. But his scar didn't hurt, and he really didn't want to give his godfather any unnecessary worrying.

Please write back soon.


He folded the parchment and waited impatiently for Hedwig's return, feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted.

Harry ate his dinner in silence that night; a strange prickling in his stomach made him uneasy. It was the vague feeling that had been following him around second year, like something was watching his every move. He chewed his celery distractedly, wondering what could be wrong.


A burning pain spread from his shoulder. Harry jumped out of his seat in surprise, tripping over his chair in the process. Dudley laughed, waving his Smeltings stick triumphantly. Aunt Petunia purposely ignored it, but Uncle Vernon looked delighted.

"Didn't see it coming, did you Boy?" Uncle Vernon said, grinning past his newspaper. "That's it Dudley, take him by surprise!"

Harry stood up in disgust, trying to keep his anger in check. Dudley had been taking pieces of him ever since summer began, most likely bitter about the ton tongue toffee incident. Picking up his chair slowly, Harry turned to leave the dinning room.

"Not yet! Clean your dishes!" Aunt Petunia yelled after him.

Harry scowled as he turned. He fixed a glare on his Aunt that instantly silenced her. For a brief moment, she looked horrified. Her characteristic frown was back in an instant, and she shoved the plates towards him with annoyance.

"Don't expect me to clean up your mess," she mumbled.

Harry glared as he nursed his sore shoulder, but decided that he really didn't need his relatives mad at him. He took the dishes to the sink, Dudley taking another swipe at him with his stick as he passed. He considered banging and making as much noise as possible, but changed his mind. It would be rather childish, and he really didn't want to lower himself to his cousin's level.

Nevertheless, by the time he had finished and was making his way upstairs, he was in fairly a foul mood. His frown faded when he saw Hedwig's shadow sitting on his bed. Bruised shoulder forgotten, he eagerly ran to his post owl and checked her for the letter.

Hedwig looked a bit ruffled and jumpy when he reached for the parchment. She jumped and bit him hard enough to draw blood.

"Hedwig! What are you doing?" Harry asked in surprise, rubbing his hand. "First the Dursleys, and now you too. Give me Sirius' letter."

She stilled, obviously insulted by his comment. She stuck out her leg angrily, and took off to her cage immediately after he removed the letter. Confused, Harry unrolled the parchment.

It was blank.

Bewildered, Harry turned on the lamp and examined it, looking for Sirius' messy scrawl. Was there some sort of enchantment on his paper? Harry turned the letter over, and almost cried out.

The silhouette of the dark mark was burned on his back. Trembling, Harry sank to his knees, clutching at the parchment so tightly that his knuckles were turning white. Sirius was in trouble, or was his letter intercepted? He desperately hoped it wasn't the former. Sirius was the closest person to family that Harry had, he didn't want to lose him. He was the one person who never wanted Harry to be anymore than just himself.

Harry drew a shuddering breath, watching the corners of he parchment blur in his eyes. He touched the blackened paper compulsively, but the moment his fingers brushed the scorched mark, his scar exploded with pain and his room melted around him like water, and his room was flooded with black.

"Look what Potter sent you."

The soft whisper sent familiar shivers down his spine. He looked around for the thin, skeletal figure, but all he could see was a swirling darkness on all sides.

"Wh-- what?"

The voice was so tired and strained with pain that Harry almost didn't recognize it. He sounded even worse than the time he first met him in the Shrieking shack.

"Sirius!" Harry wanted to shout, but when he opened his mouth, no sound came out.

"He finally realized you disappeared. I wondered how long it would take him."

"Leave Harry alone!"

"Well, I've been waiting weeks to get the message to him. Whose else who can take the letter through the barrier than Potter's own owl? Isn't that right, Black?"



There was no reply.

"That's too bad, isn't it?"

Silence. And then the air was filled with agonized screams. Harry cried out, trying to cover his ears, but Sirius' voice, filled with pain, seemed to resonate within his head.

"No!" Harry wanted to say. "Stop, please!"

The screams stopped abruptly, only Sirius' unsteady gasps could be heard. He coughed raspily, sounding tired and ill.


The voices suddenly melted away, leaving Harry, slumped against the floor with the note in his hands, and a lingering feeling of pain and helplessness. He had been dreaming about Sirius all along, but Harry had been too stupid to realize or was too afraid to think about them. How long had he been having those dreams? Harry wondered with a sinking heart. Had Sirius really been captured that long? He only experienced Voldermort's wrath for a few minutes, and that had been enough to give him nightmares for weeks. But to endure it for days without end… Harry shuddered, guilt feeling his stomach. It was all his fault. Voldermort wouldn't have cared about Sirius if it wasn't for him. He had been through so much already.

Harry wiped his eyes angrily, crumpling the note. He couldn't sit there, he had to do something. He couldn't let someone else die because of him, like Cedric. Like his parents. He pushed aside his old bed and pulled his truck out from underneath it. Hedwig hooted angrily from her perch, sensing her master's distress, but Harry ignored the sound. He carefully took out the invisibility cloak and his Firebolt, his hand lingering on the broomstick. Harry bitterly recalled third year, where Sirius had sent it as a Christmas present. He was always doing something to help Harry, and Harry did nothing but give him grief and worry. But tonight, he was going to help Sirius in return.

Harry pocketed his wand, wondering how many spells it would take before Fudge expelled him. Harry was surprised that he didn't care. As long as Sirius was alive, he could endure the Dursleys' jeering.

Going after Sirius was probably the stupidest thing he did ever since a long time, but he couldn't wait.

"Hedwig," Harry whispered as he opened the window. "Fly back to Sirius, okay? Come on, girl!"

His post owl flapped her wings angrily and flew to the other side of the room.

"Hedwig! Please, I have to see him!" Harry begged, digging out some owl treats.

She fluffed her feathers and scowled at him, almost chiding him for thinking that she was so easily swayed. Harry felt a sense of desperation as he watched her. Sighing, he mounted his broom and picked up his cloak, feeling slightly betrayed. True, Hedwig probably had more common sense than he, but she wasn't losing someone important!

At the sight of her master taking off without her, Hedwig seemed to finally relent. She flew out the window, landing on a lamp post and waiting for Harry to follow. Harry threw on the cloak, making sure his entire broom was covered, and pushed off from the floor. The familiar exhilaration of flying returned as he felt the wind toss his hair and brush his arms, but the feeling of freedom and happiness was lost.

He was doing something extremely stupid, but he didn't care.


a tad short, combined my first two story ideas into one, makes everything so much easier. Its too long to be a prologue but too short to be a chapter. Oh well.

Review review review! I think I'm one of those cursed writers who never get any reviews no matter how much I write. I hope it doesn't reflect my writing quality, ack ack ack.

Yes! Finals are over and I flunked! *sobs* too late to study now though, it seems that everyone's finals are over about the same time because the stories suddenly peaked last night. Weird. Oh well, I'm just rambling now. I don't think anyone actually reads the author's notes, do they?