I firmly believe that Sirius did not get hit with Avada Kedavra the night he fell through the veil in the Department of Mysteries. Events from that night just don’t add up to make us assume that Bellatrix hit Sirius with AK.
Here’s what we know about Avada Kedavra:
- Emits a green light
- Kills instantly
Here are all of the curses Bellatrix used that night:
- Accio (Prophecy) (783, OotP)
- Stupefy (784)
- Stunners are shot from various DE’s (796)
- Crucio (800)
- Unknown spells fired at Tonks (803)
- Jet of red light [stunner] (805)
- Mystery spell that hit Sirius in the chest (805)
- Spell that caused the brain tank to tip over (809)
- Counter-spell knocked off the head of the wizard statue (810)
- Crucio (810)
- Protego (811)
- Accio (Prophecy) (812)
Nowhere on that list do I see AK, nor do I see the effects of a curse that match those of AK. So one can only assume she never fired it. She seems to have stuck with the same curses all night, so that gives me no reason to think she suddenly deviated from her pattern. Now let’s look at the infamous scene:
“Only one couple were still battling, apparently unaware of the new arrival. Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix’s jet of red light: [stunner] He was laughing at her.
‘Come on, you can do better than that!’ he yelled, his voice echoing in the cavernous room. The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest.
The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock.”
We’re told Sirius gets hit with the curse and THEN his eyes widen with shock. If Sirius had been hit with AK I’m sure he would have become lifeless instantly. But he doesn’t just fall to the ground. Harry is able to see his godfather’s eyes widen in shock. Let’s move on to the fall itself, shall we?
“It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall. His body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backward through the ragged veil hanging from the arch…
And Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather’s wasted, once handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind and fell back into place.”
Now of course this could just be Rowling’s way of making Sirius’ death more dramatic, but I highly doubt that. His body curved back as he fell into the veil. This indicates that there was a lot of force behind the curse that was fired at him. Now I know I probably shouldn’t refer to the HP movies to prove my point but just go with me on this. (I believe the movies are at least a little reliable since Rowling works very closely with the writer and director.) In the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone movie – when Hagrid is explaining to Harry what happened the night his parents died – we’re shown ‘clips’ of what happened. Look at the part in the scene where Lily gets hit with AK. Now compare that to the fall of Sirius. The two are nothing alike. We are shown that Lily falls straight down to the ground. She doesn’t fall backwards like Sirius did. Now I know someone out there is going to attempt to disprove this by saying that “We shouldn’t rely on the movies because [insert reason here]!” That scene shall henceforth be considered my visual aid for this. We have seen two other people die by AK in the books, in GoF to be more specific:
“There was a flash of green light, a rushing sound, and Frank Bryce crumpled. He was dead before he hit the floor.”
“A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words to the night: ‘Avada Kedavra!’A blast of green light blazed through Harry’s eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him; the pain in his scar reached such a pitch that he retched, and then it diminished; terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes.
Cedric was lying spread-eagled on the ground beside him. He was dead.”
These are two perfect examples of the effects of AK directly from the books. Now compare these to Sirius’ fall; they’re completely different. Besides, Harry knows what AK looks like because he’s seen the green light so many times in his dreams. I’m sure if he had seen it he would have instantly recognized it. If he recognized it as AK then he wouldn’t have thought Sirius to be alive and kicking and just beyond the veil.
Now let me say that I do not believe Sirius is still alive. I do, in fact, believe he met his untimely end when he fell through the veil. There is too much evidence pointing towards his death at the end of OotP.
- Lupin does not let Harry go to the veil in an attempt to rescue Sirius. If Lupin knew that the veil did not kill then I’m sure he’d have been over there in a heartbeat himself. Plus if Sirius was still living then I’m sure that he wouldn’t appear to be pale and become completely sad when looking at the veil.
- Dumbledore said that Sirius is dead. Dumbledore admitted he’s been wrong sometimes, but I doubt this is one of those times.
- Rowling said that she would be killing off a character that she loved to write. The only other deaths we saw were of lesser-known characters, and I doubt she was talking about them.
But fear not, my fellow fans of Sirius Black. The death of our much-loved Padfoot cannot, under any circumstances, be considered meaningless! There are a few reasons why I think he had to die. First, Harry has to overcome any fear of death he might have. If he’s afraid to die, how is he supposed to bravely go forth to rid the wizarding and Muggle worlds of the evil that is Lord Voldemort with the ever looming possibility of Harry himself dying? Second, Rowling needed to show us that characters will die whether we like them or not. She’s showing us the reality of death in her world. Third, Harry has experienced death in the past, but he needed to connect the emotions. Let’s say that there are two ways of experiencing someone else’s death: the emotional and the physical. The emotional part of experience is the pain that you feel when you lose someone who is close to you. The physical part of the experience is when you see the person die and are aware of it. Now let’s look at the deaths in Harry’s life (and Frank Bryce doesn’t count in this situation):
- The death of his parents – emotional: The bond between a child and a parent makes the loss a million times worse than imaginable. Yes, I understand Harry was in the room at the time his mother died to save him, but Harry wasn’t old enough to really remember it or realize what was going on.
- The death of Cedric – physical: He was aware of the fact that Cedric was murdered in the graveyard. He always considered Cedric to be a rival; therefore, they weren’t exactly close friends. So even though Cedric’s death haunts Harry’s dreams during the following summer, it just isn’t the same as losing a loved one.
- The death of Sirius – physical/emotional: And here’s the connection. Sirius was and is the closest thing Harry has had to a father. James died when Harry was only a year old. That gives us the emotional side of things. Add to that the sad fact that Harry witnessed Sirius’ death. That gives us the connection between the emotional and the physical.
Therefore, I feel our beloved Padfoot has joined Prongs and Lily. But I do not believe we have seen the last of Sirius Black. We will see him again, somehow.