We may not have witnessed this first-hand, and, yes, in the days immediately after Hagrid landed the afore-mentioned flying motorbike in Privet Drive Sirius was hauled off to Azkaban, but still. Owning a flying motorbike was pretty daring. Giving it up to Hagrid was pretty generous. And leaving it behind in protection of Harry before heading off to confront Peter Pettigrew was pretty brave. So: daring, generous, brave – it was all pretty Sirius.
It’s difficult to identify one standout moment from the infamous Shrieking Shack scene, but the truth about Scabbers is up there. Sirius’s revelations about Crookshanks were also pretty incredible. A dog that was really a human, working hand-in-hand with a human-like-cat to unmask the biggest rat of them all? The mind boggles.
And when Pettigrew was forced to transform, unwillingly, back to his human form, it changed everything. It was also the first time we saw Sirius and Lupin working together and understood who the Marauders were. Pretty special.
The bond between Harry and Sirius was there from the minute Harry learnt the truth about Sirius’ involvement in his parents’ death, and of all the too-brief moments of hope that followed, this exchange was the most bittersweet:
‘Are you mad?’ said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius’. ‘Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?’
Sirius turned right around to look at him; Snape’s head was scraping the ceiling but Sirius didn’t seem to care.
‘You want to?’ he said. ‘You mean it?’ ‘Yeah, I mean it!’ said Harry.
Sirius’ gaunt face broke into the first true smile Harry had seen upon it. The difference it made was startling, as though a person ten years younger was shining through the starved mask; for a moment, he was recognisable as the man who had laughed at Harry’s parents’ wedding.
It was not to be, of course. But we’re glad that, for one shining moment, they each got to enjoy the possibility.
Sirius spent much of Harry’s fourth year looking out for Harry from afar. In fact, he was far more concerned for Harry than for his own safety – returning to the country as soon as he heard Harry’s scar was hurting, showing up in the Gryffindor common room fireplace, camping out in Hogsmeade. In contrast, his godfatherly advice to Harry was cautious: he even told him not to go out of bounds which, as Harry pointed out, was a bit rich given Sirius’ own school record.
But Sirius’ desire to protect Harry, regardless of the risk to his own safety, was always paramount. It was, after all, the reason he broke out of Azkaban in the first place. So when Sirius was able to comfort Harry in person after the terrible things he’d witnessed after the Triwizard task, it was a meaningful moment.
‘We can leave that ’til morning, can’t we, Dumbledore?’ said Sirius harshly. He had put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. ‘Let him have a sleep. Let him rest.’
Harry’s arrival at Grimmauld Place might have been unceremonious, coming as it did after a summer at the Dursley’s and an unexpected Dementor attack, but it probably didn’t warrant the angry outburst he almost immediately unleashed on Hermione and Ron. And yet, there was one person who understood exactly how Harry felt: Sirius.
Like Harry, Dumbledore’s orders had left Sirius effectively imprisoned in a house that had never really been his home. The effect it had on him was stark. When Sirius was on the run, his attitude to Harry’s safety had been cautious, but as soon as Sirius himself felt restricted, things changed. He became far less careful, and while that caused issues later, it also allowed him to sympathise with Harry’s own feelings – a rare thing for Harry.
As Harry’s fifth year progressed, Sirius seemed to become even more reckless. His increased visits to the Gryffindor common room fire, his encouragement of Harry’s rule-breaking, his suggestion of a Hogsmeade visit – as the restlessness began to overtake him, he became more cavalier about even Harry’s safety.
But amongst the thoughtless behaviour, there were some wise words. This sentence in particular was one of our favourites:
‘…the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.’
Yes, Sirius said that, not Dumbledore. We know, right?
Unless he was reminiscing about his school days or encouraging Harry to throw caution to the wind, it was rare to see Sirius smile. So his delight at having unexpected guests to stay over Christmas was perhaps the most touching moment of all. We’ll even forgive him that rendition of ‘God Rest Ye, Merry Hippogriffs.’