We’ve read the Harry Potter books…at least three times. We’ve watched the Harry Potter movies…dozens of times. But one of the most heartbreaking deaths of the whole series (if you ask me) is Sirius Black’s untimely demise at the hands of his evil, cackling cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. If Sirius’s death was tragic, the brief amount of time he was actually in Harry’s life was completely devastating for an orphan who seems to keep losing all of the family ties he’s ever had.
I mean, seriously, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, just keeps on living while everyone else is either run off, like casually handsome werewolf Remus Lupin, (who later ends up very much not alive), or perishes at the hands of dark forces.
I guess Harry should count himself lucky as, even though his loved ones keep dying, they, even in death, are capable of recognizing him, unlike the very unfortunate parents of Neville Longbottom who were tortured into insanity by the same sinister Bellatrix Lestrange.
If you are a faithful reader of the Harry Potter series, then you probably remember the spark of hope Harry felt as he was returning to the school to search the halls for his recently deceased godfather, (after the big fight at the Ministry of Magic over Harry’s and Voldemort’s shared fortune). Who could forget the severe disappointment he felt when Sirius was not there? I know I never will. Those pages of my hardcover copy will forever be stained with tears. But of course, naturally, Dumbledore has a ready explanation about why Sirius could not be found haunting the halls of Hogwarts, him not having any unfinished business to attend to. But isn’t watching after Harry, who, I repeat, has lost every family member he’s ever known, business worth attending to?
We’ve met a few ghosts from Hogwarts: the trouble-making poltergeist who seems to only be afraid of the Baron (another ghost) and Professor Severus Snape (who is scary, even to the living), nearly Headless Nick who was mostly decapitated but has forever been denied the chance to join the headless hunt because of the tiny flap of skin still holding his skull to the rest of his body, and, maybe everyone’s favorite, Moaning Myrtle, the only unfortunate victim to die by staring into the yellow eyes of the enormous basilisk, set loose from the Chamber of Secrets by the young Lord Voldemort during his school days at Hogwarts (you know, when he was still hot, but creepy and going by Tom Riddle). Did I forget to mention Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, who was a key part of helping to destroy a horcrux and free the world from the terrible entity of the dark lord? But of all those souls who stayed to float along Hogwarts’ halls, who I was most hoping for was Sirius Black.
Isn’t it enough that maybe Harry (and all of the Harry Potter readers and movie-watchers) weren’t ready to let the dashing and brave Sirius Black go to his grave so soon after meeting him? (How could JK do this to us?!)No, of course, none of us were, but if the reason ghosts remain at Hogwarts is because of unfinished business, the conclusion I come to is that Sirius considered his business complete.
Of course, Sirius probably had some other life outside of Harry when he was on the run with Buckbeak (whatever happened to him?!) or hiding out in his childhood home. Maybe he even got into some secret relationships, or also left behind some other loved ones horrified by his arrest for the betrayal of James and Lily Potter who never believed in his innocence. But I’m thinking that Harry, the light of Sirius’s brief stint of freedom, was his highest priority. You know, other than trying to help defeat the Dark Lord.
And why shouldn’t he have been? Sirius came from a home of evil, Dark Lord-serving, pureblood, prejudice lunatics who burned his lovely face from the family tree, so he was, in essence, a kind of orphan, a bond which he and Harry connected over. A bond that didn’t have to end with Sirius’s death…had he chosen to become a ghost.
We know that Sirius adored his godson. That was never in question. So I’ve come to the conclusion that Sirius was secure in the knowledge that Harry knew that he was loved by his godfather, his parents, and by all of the wonderful friends he still had in his life. It’s possible that Sirius was just the type of guy who accepted that people were not meant to live forever and strove to have the best relationship he could with his godson in the amount of time he was granted. Sirius does do his best to tell Harry as much as he can about Harry’s parents in order to help fill the void he must be carrying from never having had the chance to get to know them. Sirius even asks Harry to come stay with him, offering a home filled with love and mutual respect, which is something Harry was denied when he lost his parents (I was pretty much in tears during this part of Prisoner of Azkaban).
Perhaps it is just hard to accept that Sirius really did finish all of the important things he’d had on his agenda by clearing his name, outing Peter Wormtail for the coward and betrayer that he was, and assuring that Harry felt loved and experienced what it was like to be part of a family, which of course, he never got with the Dursleys, who generally suck as people. Sirius left him in the best hands, after all, with fiercely loyal friends who stood by Harry…until the very end.