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Sirius Black

"You are -- truly your father’s son, Harry...."
--Sirius Black (PA21)

"Personally, I'd have welcomed a dementor attack. A deadly struggle for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you've had it bad, at least you've been able to get out and about, stretch your legs, get into a few fights.... I've been stuck inside for a month."
--Sirius Black (OP5)

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NAME MEANINGS
Birth name: Sirius Black.
First name meaning: Sirius=seirios (Greek) meaning "burning;" Sirius=the "Dog Star," the brightest one in the Canis Major ("Great Dog") constellation; a pun on the fact that he can change into a big black dog.
Other names: "Snuffles" and "Padfoot" (PA18). "Padfoot" refers to his Animagus form; it is also the name that residents of central/northern England (i.e. Staffordshire, Yorkshire) have for the magical black dogs of their legends/fears. Usually, Padfoots guard churchyards or certain roads; are said to roam the countryside at night; tend to be larger than ordinary dogs; can vanish instantly or fade slowly away while standing still, yet can run extremely quickly; typically described as having huge and "blazing" eyes; tend to be silent. Because of their association with graveyards, scholars once believed the black dog form was the preferred form of the Devil, and are usually considered an omen of death, and are, thus, also called the Grim (Colbert Book: Magical Worlds of Harry Potter.).

FAMILY
Birthdate: 1959 or 1960 (year based on James's dates-DH16).
Deathdate: June 1996; killed by his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange whose spell knocked him through an ancient, veiled archway in the Department of Mysteries (OP35). Sirius left all his possessions to Harry in his will (HBP3).
Ancestry: Pure-blood.
Family in general: "The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" dating to at least the Middle Ages (OP6); descendent of Phineas Nigellus Black, a Hogwarts Headmaster. Parents convinced that to be a 'Black' made you "practically royal." Disowned by his mother (and blasted off the family tapestry) for his rejection of the family’s belief in pure-blood supremacy. Black family members tend to be named for constellations.
Childhood: At 16 Sirius "had enough" of his parents' "pure-blood mania" and ran away to live with James Potter’s parents. At 17, bought a house of his own with money from Uncle Alphard (OP6; note that UK ed. says he "got" a house.)
Location of childhood home: number twelve Grimmauld Place, London.
Mother: Walburga Black (1925-1985); her portrait is permanently mounted in the hallway of the Black family home.
Father: Orion Black (1929-1979) who heavily fortified the family home at 12 Grimmauld Place, London.
Siblings: Regulus Arcturus Black (1961-1979) [more...]
Grandparents: Arcturus (1901-1991) and Melania (McMillan) Black, and Pollux (1912-1990) and Irma (Crabbe) Black. Both sets of Sirius's grandparents were direct descendents of Phineas Nigellus Black. One of his grandfathers (either Arcturus or Pollux) was awarded Order of Merlin 1st Class for "Services to the Ministry" (OP6).
Aunts, Uncles: Uncle Alphard, who left Sirius money and Aunt Elladora who started the tradition of beheading house-elves when they were too old to carry tea trays.
Cousins: Narcissa (Black) Malfoy, Andromeda (Black) Tonks, Bellatrix (Black) Lestrange. Andromeda’s daughter is Nymphadora Tonks, and Narcissa’s son is Draco Malfoy. Arthur Weasley is a second cousin once removed. Andromeda was his favorite cousin (OP6). Distantly related to Molly Weasley.
Family motto: Toujours pur (French for "always pure") (OP6).
Family crest: is mentioned in OP6 but not described; however, Rowling drew it on her Black Family Tree. It shows a shield with hounds rampant emblazoned with a chevron, 2 five-pointed stars and a short sword.
Additional info: Sirius was Best Man at the Potter’s wedding and Harry’s godfather.

The Four Marauders, copyright Marta T.APPEARANCE
Eye color: Gray (WEB LINKJKR) and "fathomless" (PA19).
Hair color: Black: tended to let it grow long when he was depressed (PA, GF27) and wore it short when things go well (OP9).
Build: tall (PA17, OP24), and since Azkaban very thin (GF27).
Distinguishing features: very good-looking -- the aristocratic, somewhat haughty Black good looks -- when he's eating enough, but of late years the characteristic gauntness of an ex-inmate of Azkaban, which takes a long time to fade entirely (GF27); laugh like a bark.
As a young man: "Sirius was lounging in his chair at his ease, tilting it back on two legs. He was very good-looking; his dark hair fell into his eyes with a sort of casual elegance." (PA18)
After Azkaban: "A mass of filthy, matted hair hung to his elbows. If eyes hadn't been shining out of the deep, dark sockets, he might have been a corpse. The waxy skin was stretched so tightly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth were bared in a grin. His eyes were fixed on Harry." (PA17)

SIRIUS at HOGWARTS
Years: 1971 - 1978.
House: Gryffindor (WBD).
Artifacts: Created Marauder's Map with James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew.
Notes: Reputation for being a troublemaker (PA10, OP29).

Sirius Black, copyright Marta T.SKILLS, ALLEGIANCES, ETC.
Wand: ?
Other devices: Flying motorcycle; Marauder’s Map, created in last 2 years at Hogwarts (PA18); two-way mirror (OP24), assorted Black family heirlooms.
Organizations & affiliations: Marauders; Order of the Phoenix.
Animagus: Bear-like black dog (unregistered Animagus) since his 5th year at Hogwarts (PA18).
Career: Sirius joined the Order of the Phoenix, along with James and Lily, right after he graduated from Hogwarts (OBT/CH).
Incarceration: After Pettigrew framed Sirius for the betrayal of the Potters, and Dumbledore confirmed that Sirius had been the Potters' Secret Keeper (PA21), Barty Crouch Sr. committed Sirius to Azkaban without a trial (GF27). Incarcerated for 12 years, but survived by turning into a dog so the Dementors could not deeply affect him. Escaped when he recognized Wormtail in a newspaper photograph. Reward was set at 10,000 Galleons.
Gringotts Vault: 711 (PA).

Profile of Sirius Black
James Potter’s closest friend, Harry Potter’s godfather and an Animagus, Sirius Black was falsely accused of betrayal and murder and imprisoned in Azkaban.
 
Sirius Black was the elder of two boys born to an aristocratic family that was fiercely proud of its pureblood status and vehemently anti-Muggle. Unlike his younger brother Regulus and just about all of his ancestors, Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor and rejected his family’s belief in pure-blood supremacy. By the time he was sixteen, he had completely severed ties with his family and was literally blasted off of the Black family tree. Ironically, two members of the family he so reviled proved to be far braver than he thought. 

At Hogwarts, Sirius became close friends with fellow Gryffindors James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus J. Lupin, a werewolf. To keep Remus company in his werewolf state, the three other boys secretly became Animagi during their fifth year. Given his name, it was probably no surprise that Sirius’s Animagus form was a large black dog. At each full moon, the Marauders: Padfoot (Sirius), Prongs (James), Moony (Lupin) and Wormtail (Pettigrew) explored the school, its grounds, and even the Forbidden Forest and recorded what they learned in a magical map they called the Marauder's Map (PA18).

James and Lily's wedding, copyright 2001 Laura Freeman.After finishing Hogwarts, Sirius and the other three Marauders joined Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix, a small group of wizards and witches fighting to stop Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters’ reign of terror. During these desperate times, James Potter and Lily Evans married and started their family, unaware that a prophecy would cut their lives short. Soon after the death of James and Lily Potter, Sirius was framed by his old friend Peter Pettigrew for their betrayal and the murder of twelve Muggles during his attempt to escape Ministry law enforcement.

Twelve years later, Sirius escaped from Azkaban and convinced Harry and the Order of the Phoenix of his innocence; however, he was forced to remain a fugitive because there was no viable proof. This second captivity seems to have been more corrosive than Azkaban. Sirius chafed at his forced inaction. Harry longed for Sirius to be the father figure he craved, but Sirius seemed often more interested in regaining the camaraderie and urgency of his glory days.

Sirius was killed by his cousin Bellatrix in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries; his body fell through a mysterious veiled arch and could not be recovered (OP35).

In his youth, Sirius was good-looking in an elegant, casual way with dark hair and gray eyes; after his imprisonment he is often described as looking gaunt and unkempt.

Movie poster for Prisoner of Azkaban. SIRIUS IN THE MOVIES
Sirius Black is played by Gary Oldman.

Quote: "I've done so much R-rated work, it's nice to have a job you can show your kids." -- on making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

 

 

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Primary editor: Lisa Waite Bunker. Previous editor: Parker Nesbit; heartfelt thanks must also be extended to the helpful members of WEB LINKImmeritus.
Original artwork of Sirius ©2001 Lisa M. Rourke, used by permission.
Original artwork of the Four Marauders ©2003 Marta T., used by permission.
Original artwork of Sirius after Azkaban ©2003 Marta T., used by permission.
Original artwork of the wedding party ©2001 Laura Freeman, used by permission.
Original page date 18 March, 2001; Last page update 6 October, 2007.