Warning: Massive spoilers for the Harry Potter series ahead.

Sirius Black is a wizard who was locked up in Azkaban, the wizards' prison, for twelve years for a crime he didn't commit: he was accused of betraying Harry's parents to Lord Voldemort and then killing his fellow wizard Peter Pettigrew and some twenty Muggles before being captured by the Ministry Aurors.

Black had been James Potter's best friend, his best man and Harry's godfather - so you can imagine the betrayal was indeed severe. Since, however, he was not guilty of any of the above, a fact of which Harry became convinced at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he has been watching over Harry from afar, while staying in hiding and avoiding the vindictive and still suspicious Ministry of Magic.

Sirius Black is my favourite character in the the series so far; he has a depth of character, a conflict and a darkness about him which is almost uncomfortable to find in what is after all a children's story. I like the fact that none of the gritty, unfair and monstrous details of his fate are hidden way or euphemised for the young readers, just like I like the fact that Harry and Black don't get to live happily ever after at the end of the third book. That's life, it's not nice, and I'm glad Rowling has the balls to say so.

**spoilers for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to follow-- do not read past first paragraph if you haven't read the book and don't want to know what happens-- if you only don't want the big secrets revealed to you, then you can probably read to the end of the second paragraph-- but that's it! big important surprises after that if you haven't read :) enjoy**

In book 3 of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a new character is introduced: the convicted criminal Sirius Black. At first, all Harry knew about him was what he overheard Ron's parents say about him, i.e. that he was dangerous and had been heard in his prison cell in Azkaban to be muttering, "He's at Hogwarts..." over and over. Even though Harry doesn't know why Sirius was in prison in the first place, he realizes of course that the Weasley parents are especially worried for him because Sirius has escaped from Azkaban, something no other prisoner has ever been able to do before, and may be coming after Harry.

As Harry finds out later, from another overheard conversation since no one wants to forthrightly tell him about all this, Sirius was convicted on charges of murder and accomplice to murder: 13 counts of Muggle murder (with one curse), 1 count of wizard murder (although all they could ever find was a finger, not the body), and accomplice to 2 murders-- those of Harry's parents. Apparently, Sirius had been James and Lily Potter's best friend, even best man at their wedding, and he became Harry's godfather when he was born. So when they were on the run from Lord Voldemort, the Potters naturally made Sirius their Secret Keeper so that only he would know their location. But their Secret Keeper betrayed them, and Lord Voldemort found the Potters and killed them, while Harry escaped the deadly encounter with a small souvenir, a thin lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead that throbs and hurts and tortures him sometimes.

After Harry hears all this, he doesn't know that there's still quite a bit of story left to tell, but he finally finds out at the very end of the book in an encounter between Harry, Hermione, Ron, Professor Remus Lupin, Professor Snape, Sirius, and believe it or not Peter Pettigrew.

As it turns out, Sirius had convinced the Potters to use another friend as their Secret Keeper, unwittingly leading them straight into the hands of a follower of Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew had been not really a friend of Sirius and the Potters, but more of a hanger-on, a weak follower-type, which is why he was so easily converted to the dark side. When he saw the chance to deliver the Potters to his master, he took the opportunity, little knowing that the incident with the infant Harry would lead to the near-extinction of Voldemort.

Sirius was the only one who knew that it was Pettigrew who had betrayed the Potters, and he confronted him about this in public as the authorities were trying to capture Sirius. However, he hadn't counted on such desperate cunning as Pettigrew showed when he, in one deft movement, killed 13 bystanders with one curse and at the same time cut off his finger and turned himself into a rat. The point of this was to make it appear as though Sirius was indeed the dangerous criminal who had betrayed the Potters, and he was crazy enough to take out 14 more people when cornered. What's all this about Pettigrew the rat, and 14, not 13, people? If you're confused, be patient and read on.

Sirius spent years in the dread prison of Azkaban for his alleged crimes, and when he finally got out, he wanted to have his revenge upon Pettigrew, who he knew was at Hogwarts ("He's at Hogwarts..."). How did Pettigrew manage to get there, you ask? Follow this semi-side note and you will learn:

Professor Lupin, the students' Defense against the Dark Arts teacher that year, had been a friend of the Potters and Sirius when they were all in school together. Unbeknownst to the rest of the wizarding world, Lupin, James Potter, Sirius, and Pettigrew were all unregistered Animagi, i.e. they could turn themselves into animals. Lupin was a werewolf (nickname Moony), James Potter could turn into a stag (Prongs), Sirius into a large black dog (Padfoot), and Pettigrew into a rat (Wormtail). **fun fact: Remember these names? Padfoot, Prongs, Moony, and Wormtail are the creators of the Marauder's Map!** Now remember our good friend Ron Weasley? He has a pet, Scabbers, a scrawny little... rat. Yes, rat. That's right, Peter Pettigrew aka Wormtail had been living in disguise as Ron's pet rat ever since he disappeared in that confrontation, leaving part of his body (a finger) to make it look like Sirius had killed him with that explosive spell.

This all came out in the aforementioned encounter that happened at the very end of the book. Now what happened after everyone there learned the truth about Sirius Black? Long story short, Wormtail escaped, Sirius couldn't prove his innocence without him, and Harry's joy at finding his godfather to be a good person and a great replacement for the Dursleys was cut short as Sirius remains on the run from the Ministry of Magic. Confused? Intrigued? Want to know more (and there is so much more)? Read the book. It's fabulous.

Sirius Black is a character in the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling.

WARNING! Severe spoilers from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ahead!!!


Family Tree

Sirius Black was born in 1958 to a pure-blood wizarding family. His parents were great followers of Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

Though his parents supported Volemort's idiology, they never became Death eaters themselves. Yet his younger brother Regulus did. He became a death eater, until in 1980 he got scared of what he was doing and tried to run away. Voldemort caught him and killed him. Sirius's mother died around 1990.

Sirius had three cousins: Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa.

Bellatrix married Rodulfus Lestrange and they both became Death Eaters. Both of them were sent to Azkaban prison for the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom. In 1996 they escaped from Azkaban and rejoined Voldemort.

Narcissa married Lucius Malfoy who became a Death Eater. They had a son Draco Malfoy.

Andromeda was Sirius's favorite cousin. She married Ted Tonks, a muggle (a person with no magical power), and they had a daughter, Nymphadora Tonks.

In Hogwarts

Sirius attained Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. In Hogwarts he met three good friends: James Potter, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. As the years went on the four became more and more mischievous, and together they created the marauder's map.

Remus Lupin was a werewolf. The other three decided to become Animaguses - witches or wizards who can transform into an animal.

In their fifth year they succeded: Sirius could turn into a Dog, James could transform to a Stag, and Peter Pettigrew could turn into a Rat.

The four gave each other nicknames according to what they were. Sirius was "Padfoot", James was "Prongs", Remus was "Moony", and Pettigrew was "Wormtail"

Sirius became an especially good friend of James Potter, and when in the age of 16 Sirius ran from his home because his parents were too supportive to Voldemort, he moved to live with the Potters.

Into Azkaban

In Voldemort's years of terror Sirius was an active member in the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards led by Albus Dumbledore who fought against Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

In 1981 Voldemort murdered James Potter and his wife Lily. When he tried to kill their son Harry he failed and the curse backfired on himself. Voldemort wasn't killed, but lost his body and lived only as a soul.

Before James's death he assigned Sirius as Harry's godfather, just in case something bad happened. After James was killed Sirius went to the house to pick up Harry, but he met there Rubeus Hagrid who told him Dumbledore sent him to bring Harry to his muggle Aunt and Uncle.

Sirius then understood Pettigrew had betrayed them and had told Volemort the Potters' hideout. Sirius found him and tried to kill him, but Peter Pettigrew escaped.

After Pettigrew ran away, the whole wizarding wold believed Sirius had been the one who told Voldemort where the Potters were hiding. Sirius was sent to wizard prison, Azkaban

The escape from Azkaban and the meeting with Harry

In the summer of 1993, Sirius found a newspaper and understood Pettigrew was still free as a Rat and at a perfect position to attack Harry Potter.

Sirius decided to escape from Azkaban. He transformed into a Dog and one night, when he was given food, he escaped.

In June 1994 Sirius made contact with Harry Potter and told him he was his godfather. He nearly captured Peter Pettigrew, but Pettigrew escaped once again, and Sirius stayed undercover.

After Voldemort's return to power

In June 1995 Voldemort retained his body with help from Peter Pettigrew. Dumbledore decided to regather the Order of the Phoenix and naturally Sirius is in it again.

In June 1996 Sirius and other Order of the Phoenix members fought Death Eaters and Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic. Sirius was killed by his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange.

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