Why Sirius Black Isn’t Coming Back
by Lauren Benere
Let me first preface this editorial with a confession: the death of Sirius Black really shook me up as I read OotP. I don’t know if it was because I had been frantically reading for 5 hours straight up to the death, or because he is my absolute favorite character in the series thus far. However, many HP fans speculate that Sirius is not really dead, that he will eventually come back in some form. As much as I wish this were true, I don’t believe this is possible according to the rules of Harry’s world.
JKR has given us a rich fantasy world indeed, but she does give it its rules and boundaries. She has given us, as far as we know, three ways in which a wizard can see or communicate with the dead:
1) The Mirror of Erised: Harry sees his dead parents in the mirror in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone because it is his deepest, most desperate desire. I’m sure this desire may have shifted with the death of his beloved godfather, so if Dumbledore placed the mirror in front of Harry, he would see Sirius. However, in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry cannot communicate with his dead parents. They don’t speak to him. They don’t hold up posters with, “We’re sorry we got ourselves killed and sent you to live with the Dursleys” or “My violet pudding is way better than Petunia’s” or even a simple ”We love you.” This inability to communicate with images in the mirror is solidified with Harry when he is with Quirrell. He looks into the mirror and his reflection winks at him, then puts the stone in his pocket. So, even if Harry saw Sirius in the Mirror, he wouldn’t be able to get any sort of message from him.
2) Priori Incantatem: As we all know, in one of the more poignant moments in GoF, Harry gets to speak with the shadows of his dead parents as they encourage him to reach the Portkey. There is much debate swirling around HP groups that falling through the veil killed Sirius, saying that Bellatrix hit him with a stunner. However JKR says Sirius dodges a stunner, and then JKR merely says the second jet of light hit him squarely in the chest. She doesn’t specify the color of the spell, meaning it could have been either the Killing Curse or a Stunner. If he was indeed killed by Bellatrix’s wand, Harry couldn’t use Priori Incantatem to speak with him because his wands brother (Voldemorts wand) didn’t kill Sirius; Bellatrix’s did.
3) Ghosts: Nearly Headless Nick killed this possibility when he told Harry the decision to become a ghost is a choice made immediately after death. He wont be coming back, Nick tells us, which makes seeing the shadow of Sirius’s former body walking around Hogwarts slim.
For you die-hard Sirius lovers who really think there is a possibility we will see Sirius again, I propose two possible methods:
1) The Veil: We dont know much about this veil yet, only that Harry and Luna can hear voices whispering indistinctly just beyond it, and it is possibly used in the Department of Mysteries by Unspeakables to study death. Perhaps they have discovered a way to use the veil to speak to the dead. If JKR makes this decision in 6 or 7, I’m sure it will be an extremely emotional moment for both Harry and us, but obviously we need to learn more about the veil before we can even engage this as a possibility.
2) Sirius’s wanted posters: Dumbledore speaks to several dead former headmasters via their portraits. I dont know if this could apply to the multitude of wanted posters out for Sirius, but it would be very interesting to see if that would work, or if it only applies to formal portraits. I don’t recall Harry being able to communicate with photographs of his parents, so this theory is questionable at best.
My theory: If Sirius is going to come back in any form, it will be in writing or in a possession of his. Dumbledore and Hagrid have a knack of finding things that connect Harry to dead loved ones which briefly lessen his pain: Hagrid created a photo album for Harry of his parents, Dumbledore gave him his father’s invisibility cloak. This is made considerably more difficult now that Sirius’s knife was destroyed in the Department of Mysteries and Harry angrily smashed the two-way mirror that Sirius gave him. Perhaps Sirius, in his months of confinement, left some sort of record to fight the boredom. I believe if this happens, Harry will get his closure.
Even though these possibilities exist, I still am skeptical that JKR will bring Sirius back, even in the form I think is most likely. One of the primary reasons she chose him, of all her characters to die is because he means so much to Harry and to us, the readers. He was Harry’s rock, the one hope of freedom, true family and unconditional acceptance that he clung to. She uses Sirius’s death to show Harry and us the finality of death, and sometimes, as painful as it is, we don’t always get to say goodbye. Death is supposed to make you angry with its permanence and oftentimes it takes months, even years to finally get closure for our sudden losses. However, I think the absence of Sirius, as painful as it is for Harry, will serve him well in 6 and 7, because as Nietzsche once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I will be the first one to jump up and cheer if we see Sirius again. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that is very likely.