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Sirius Black was first mentioned in the first book, as a means of foreshadowing, with no information given about him except that he lent Hagrid a flying motorcycle. His character becomes prominent with the third book, where he is the "Prisoner of Azkaban" in the title.
Sirius Black is said to have been one of the last members born to the House of Black, a prominent family of pure-blood wizards and witches. Known members of the family include Narcissa Black, who is married to Lucius Malfoy as Narcissa Malfoy which soon lead to the birth of Draco Malfoy; Andromeda Black, who married Ted Tonks and had Nymphadora Tonks; Bellatrix Black, who married Rudolphus Lestrange; and Regulus Black, who was killed on Voldemort's orders.
Sirius Black was best friends with James Potter, Harry's father, and with his friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. When it was discoved that Lupin was a werewolf, his friends helped him by becoming Animagi since Lupin was not compelled to attack non-humans. Sirius' Animagus form was that of a dog and went by the nickname "Padfoot" because of this.
When James and Lily had to go in hiding from Lord Voldemort, they wanted to make Sirius their Secret-Keeper, but Sirius convinced them that Peter Pettigrew would be a better choice, because no one would suspect him of being given that task. However, Pettigrew was a traitor, and he betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. He faked his own death, succeeding at the same time in framing Sirius Black for the Potters' death and his own "murder".
Sirius' family sympathized with Lord Voldemort's desires to cleanse the wizarding world of non-purebloods and his younger brother Regulus joined them. This may have led to Sirius' incarceration at Azkaban due to accusations of murdering thirteen people, including Pettigrew. No trial was given to Sirius -- it seems that his guilt was assumed so completely by everyone that no trial was considered necessary and Barty Crouch, who gave the order, was a very ruthless man.
During the course of events described in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius escapes on Buckbeak the condemned hippogriff after learning Pettigrew was still at large. After a good deal of confusion, Harry comes to realize that Sirius is definitely on the side of good; however, being on the run, Sirius can communicate with Harry only sporadically. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione communicated with him in the fourth and fifth books, they call him "Snuffles" and pretend that he is a friendly stray dog.
During the events described in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius donates his family home for use as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. He is effectively trapped there due to the manhunt for him, even though the Auror assigned to his case is also a member of the Order. When he leaves for a short time to see Harry to the train station on his journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he is recognized by Lucius Malfoy.
Despite this, Sirius makes a number of attempts at contacting Harry through the Floo Network , a system by which wizards and witches can communicate through fire, which is eventually monitored by the Ministry of Magic and Dolores Umbridge. Lord Voldemort uses his growing power to influence Harry's mind, making him believe that Sirius is being held captive in the Department of Mysteries. In the ensuing battle, Sirius actually disappears - he falls through an arch and does not reappear; he is thereafter presumed dead. He was hit by a stunning spell by Bellatrix Lestrange, his own cousin. This sent Sirius through a mysterious veil, which is presumed to have killed him. This is still not solidly answered, and may be a plot in future Rowling works.
Note: As with many Rowling characters, Sirius' name reveals part of his nature. "Sirius Black" is a pun on the fact that Sirius can turn into a giant black dog; Sirius is the name of a star (the brightest one in the sky) which can be found in the constellation Canis Major (the big dog). The star Sirius was called "dog's star" by some ancient cultures such as the Egyptians. Most (but not all) of Sirius' family is likewise named after stars (Bellatrix is in the constellation of Orion; Regulus is in Leo. Andromeda is a constellation in the northern hemisphere).
- Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. ISBN 0-439-35806-X
- Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. ISBN 0-7475-4629-0
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