The Black sheep of his family (well... dog, actually), Sirius was the kind of brave, caring and loyal person anyone would want as their godfather.

Sadly, we only had the pleasure of Sirius’s company for three books, with his fierce, complex, clever and downright cool character wooing us on several occasions. But in which chapter did Sirius particularly stand out? Well, it took a while to pick one, but...

‘The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black’

In the ‘Noble and Most Ancient House of Black’, Harry realised just how dark Sirius’s life had been. As if Azkaban hadn’t been enough, the rugged hero also had to contend with a childhood riddled with a pure-blood obsessed family.

The revelations all pour out during this particular chapter. While the gang were hiding out in Grimmauld Place and Mrs Weasley was as cross as two sticks with Mundungus Fletcher, Harry inspected an ancient tapestry in one of the rooms. Sirius explained that it represented his family tree – but unlike most family trees, a lot of names were heartlessly burnt out.

‘You’re not on here!’ said Harry, after scanning the bottom of the tree.
‘I used to be there,’ said Sirius, pointing at a small, round, charred hole in the tapestry, rather like a cigarette burn. ‘My sweet old mother blasted me off after I ran away from home – Kreacher’s quite fond of muttering the story under his breath.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sirius explained how his family, principally his parents, displayed frankly bigoted behaviour, wanting their children to have absolutely pure blood and strictly follow Black family tradition. They shared many of the same ideals as Voldemort, even if they weren’t card-carrying supporters.

Sirius then mentioned that his brother, Regulus, was formerly a Death Eater, much to Harry’s surprise. This was before Harry found out about Regulus’s U-turn, of course.

Sirius went on to explain the interconnected nature of wizarding families and how he was related to Nymphadora Tonks and Bellatrix Lestrange, not to mention the Malfoys. Besides being a pretty shocking revelation, it gave Harry a better idea of how relationships work between wizarding families and that every pure-blood wizard has some connection, however distant, to the others.

Why it matters

Sirius hugs Harry in Grimmauld Place.

In many ways, Sirius was a lone wolf – or, rather, a lone dog. He spent a great deal of the series living alone. His disconnect from others was obviously due to his incarceration in Azkaban but ‘The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black’ shows that Sirius’s relationship with his family left him feeling like an outsider long before then.

Sirius bucked the trend in the Black family by being sorted into Gryffindor as opposed to Slytherin, like the rest of his family. This marked him as being different from the off and him being a Gryffindor – coupled with a significantly more sympathetic disposition – resulted in a rocky relationship with his family.

His discontent with being at Grimmauld Place, the house where he spent many of his formative years, resulted in Sirius’s more bitter side coming out. He made no bones about the fact he didn’t enjoy his childhood.

‘I don’t like being back here,’ he said, staring across the drawing room. ‘I never thought I’d be stuck in this house again.’
Harry understood completely. He knew how he would feel, when he was grown up and thought he was free of the place for ever, to return and live at number four, Privet Drive.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This is an important chapter not just in the development of Sirius but in a wider sense: it outlines how close-knit the wizarding community is. And, of course, Sirius mentioning his brother Regulus sowed the seeds for the discovery of the R.A.B. locket – and the truth about Regulus’s tragic ending.

‘No, no, but believe me, they thought Voldemort had the right idea, they were all for the purification of the wizarding race, getting rid of Muggle-borns and having pure-bloods in charge. They weren’t alone, either, there were quite a few people, before Voldemort showed his true colours, who thought he had the right idea about things ... they got cold feet when they saw what he was prepared to do to get power, though. But I bet my parents thought Regulus was a right little hero for joining up at first.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sirius Black taught us that your biological family don’t have to be your true family. For Sirius, he found a family in Harry’s father and Remus Lupin. Sirius taught Harry many things, but one of the most important messages he imparted on his godson was that even if you don’t have a family, you will always have one in the form of your friends.

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