Part-way through Goblet of Fire Sirius returns to Hogsmeade, the village in which he'd successfully evaded Ministry of Magic capture in for the duration of the previous year. The reason that he wants to be in Hogsmeade at the time is to be near Harry:

He grinned up at Harry, but Harry returned the grin only reluctantly.

"What are you doing here, Sirius?" he said.

"Fulfilling my duty as a godfather," said Sirius.

Goblet of Fire, chapter 27, Padfoot Returns

We learn that Sirius is living in a remote mountainside cave, which takes around 30 minutes to walk to from Hogsmeade. My question is why Sirius felt the need to use the mountainside cave at all. Sirius has several requirements from a dwelling place:

  • It must be secretive and impossible to stumble across so as to evade Ministry capture.
  • It must be near Harry (to fulfil Sirius's intrinsic desire to be paternal to Harry), and therefore have good access to Hogwarts.
  • It must be big enough to allow him to store a contraband Hippogriff.
  • It must allow Sirius to gain basic supplies (such as food and access to news of the outside world).

It seems to me that the Shrieking Shack meets these requirements just as well as if not better than the mountainside cave does. There was plentiful room for Buckbeak in the Shack and indeed presumably the squawks and cries given out would've only have enhanced the folklore surrounding the Shack amongst nearby wizards. And the Shack is not only literally closer to Harry (surpassing the 30 minute trek into the village that Sirius otherwise faced) but has a direct tunnel link to Hogwarts that Harry, Ron and Hermione could've freely used to visit Sirius and pass him food. His life as a stray facing the cold of the mountainside and living off scraps seems completely unnecessary.

The whole cave plan as it turns out was Dumbledore's idea:

"You are not Sirius' only correspondant," said Dumbledore. "I have also been in contact with him since he left Hogwarts last year. It was I who suggested the mountainside cave as the safest place for him to stay."

Goblet of Fire, chapter 30, The Pensieve

One possible reason for avoiding the Shack is that it's not safe for Sirius once his hideout is disclosed in Prisoner of Azkaban. However, only Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Lupin, Wormtail and Snape know about secret passageway through the Whomping Willow post-Prisoner of Azkaban. All of these people are pro-Sirius, apart from Snape and Wormtail - and neither of those two have reason to know/suspect that Sirius has come back to Hogsmeade. The Shrieking Shack is therefore still a perfectly safe place to live during the events of Goblet of Fire.

So why did Sirius/Dumbledore overlook the Shrieking Shack when it had served Sirius so effectively the year before?

  • 1
    Here's a question: can you side-along Apparate a Hippogriff? If not, the Shack is out. Plus, consider Sirius' reaction to being cooped up inside a dank house in Book 5 - I doubt the Shack appealed to him at all.
    – DavidS
    Apr 19, 2016 at 8:39
  • @DavidS If you can, the risk of getting a talon in the face is probably severe. I'm not sure you can explain that sort of thing in advance to a Hippogrif. Good point, I hadn't thought of that. Apr 19, 2016 at 11:17

4 Answers 4


Too great a chance of discovery

As @Sabbahillel mentioned, Wormtail might have been checking up on the Shack for Voldemort, to make sure that Sirius didn't try to contact Harry.

Another possibility is that Severus Snape was keeping an eye on the shack, hoping to catch Sirius unawares and send him off to Azkaban once more. It's not clear that Dumbledore told Snape everything he knew about Sirius until after the end of Goblet of Fire.

Snape had not yelled or jumped backward, but the look on his face was one of mingled fury and horror.

“Him!” he snarled, staring at Sirius, whose face showed equal dislike. “What is he doing here?”

“He is here at my invitation,” said Dumbledore, looking between them, “as are you, Severus. I trust you both. It is time for you to lay aside your old differences and trust each other.”

Harry thought Dumbledore was asking for a near miracle. Sirius and Snape were eyeing each other with the utmost loathing.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

But I think the main reason is more than this. I don't think Sirius was staying in the Shrieking Shack most of the time in Prisoner of Azkaban. It is an extremely popular place for students to visit. Sirius wouldn't want them to spot him through the windows, let alone possibly break in and get a real look at him. True, he maintains his Animagus form much of the time, but we also see that, even in the third book, he occasionally appears in human form.

In any case, numerous sightings of a large black dog at the Shrieking Shack might have aroused Lupin's suspicions in Prisoner of Azkaban, so I think Sirius would have wanted to avoid that.

  • Not that the very last point is of much significance anymore in GoF.
    – Egor Hans
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:07

Dumbledore had to worry that it might be suspected that Sirius would try to make contact with Harry. Thus, he would be afraid that Wormtail would check the shack at intervals to ensure that Sirius had not returned there. While he could trust Snape (though we would not know that) he had to also ensure that if Sirius were found, Snape would not fall under suspicion as his agent.


I can think of a number of reasons. In my mind, all of these reasons were what influenced Dumbledore to overlook the Shrieking Shack; all Sirius did was listen to Dumbledore's shrewd ideas. Here is my reasoning:

  1. So he wouldn't distract Harry. Harry was going through a lot of stress in a very dangerous time for him and a Sirius to sneak out and see would create a lot of distraction for him and take up time that he could use more productively.

  2. So he wouldn't arouse suspicion. With the spotlight on Harry, if he were to be seen going into the Shrieking Shack, where he had last year found Sirius Black, would create suspicion from the Ministry and Hogwarts students, as well as the infiltrator that he knew was at Hogwarts.

  3. Because Buckbeak. Sirius would be able to stay quiet, but Buckbeak might not, and this would reboot all of the legends about the Shrieking Shack and arouse suspicion, since Sirius was still tied to the Shack in the voices of the Hogsmeaders.

    And the shack does not serve your four basic needs as well as you think. Let's look at each one. First, you say thatit needs to be secretive and hard to stumble upon. The shack is not nearly as much as the cave, as I have already covered. In the middle of Hogsmeade and in his old hideout, he could be easily discovered. Second, you say that it needs to be near to Harry. This is teue, but not too near, as the shack is. Third you say it must be big enough for Buckbeak. Both are, but one is too public for Buckbeak. Lastly, you say that it must allow for Sirius to get food. The shack is near food, of course, but that food is surrounded by people. In both cases he would be forced to eat rats, but in the cave he would have less chance of being discovered.

  • I take your point about distracting Harry. By the way, by secretive I don't mean impossible to find at all (as the tent is in Deathly Hallows) but 'possible to hide in'. My point was that Sirius was able to successfully evade capture by staying in the Shack even at the height of the Ministry manhunt. The Shack is impenetrable from the outside. Whether it's possible to 'pop in and out' isn't too obvious. Presumably you could Apparate inside but the fear factor would stop people from ever wanting to enter. Apr 18, 2016 at 18:13
  • @The Dark Lord but after it was revealed that Sirius was hiding in it in book 3, it would just take some simple logic to conclude that he was there again. In the beginning, it was impenetrable, now it is just a shack.
    – CHEESE
    Apr 18, 2016 at 18:36
  • I'm not sure if it's mentioned whether or not Snape had got as far as explaining about the Shack in his conversation with Fudge. As far as I can tell, Fudge was more focused on congratulating Snape and arranging the execution than finding out the backstory. I'm working on the assumption that Sirius' hiding place has only been "revealed" to a handful of people. But I could be wrong. Apr 18, 2016 at 18:46

Also, the Goblet of Fire was a very important wizarding event. It probably meant that the security for both Hogwarts and probably Hogsmeade my extension too was pretty tight. It might've meant increased tourists in the village. Probably. So, increased population increases risk of detection (How many people actually listen to the no entry signs anyway, especially wizards/witches?)

All this and probably more passed through the bearded head of the genius that was Dumbledore and thus, concluded that an out of the way spot was better for Sirius.

A dog living in a cave? Not really noticeable compared to a dog moving in and out of a haunted building.

  • 1
    It seems to me that security was definitely lower in year 4 than it was in year 3 what with the security trolls and Dementors. Sirius was still one of the UK's most wanted wizards but wasn't thought to be actively breaking into the castle. As for access to the Shack: "No one can get in. Fred and George tried, obviously, but all the entrances are sealed shut..." PoA chapter 14. Apr 18, 2016 at 16:04
  • Yeeeees, there is that too. This is just conjecture, mind you. You've raised excellent points @TheDarkLord. But, we could look at this way. No one could get in SO FAR. Who knows? What Dumbledore (probably) did was weigh all the options and decided that the cave was less riskier. Plus, there is Sirius' uhhh....nature. He was too close to Hogwarts. It might lead to him taking too many risks. Just saying. Apr 18, 2016 at 16:18
  • I think you've made a valid point about Sirius. In PoA he was acting under his own volition but in GoF he was (to some extent) subject to Dumbledore's plans and guidance. I'm sure that Dumbledore wouldn't have wanted a man wanted for mass murder freely wandering the grounds because of the uproar that would ensue if Sirius got caught. You may be right that if he'd lived in the Shack the temptation to just see how Harry and co are doing may have been too strong. Apr 18, 2016 at 17:08
  • Yeah. For further proof, we could look to The Order of the Phoenix, where Sirius leaves Grimmauld Place in explicit defiance of Dumbledore's orders asking him NOT to leave Grimmauld Place and goes to King's Cross Apr 18, 2016 at 17:11
  • True. It seems this may be the start of the theme of Dumbledore telling Sirius where to go even if Sirius himself may not be keen that ultimately results in Sirius' death in Order of the Pheonix. Apr 18, 2016 at 17:14

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