In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, there is an important moment in which ...

... Sirius Black is killed.

The book and film handle the specific moment slightly differently:

Film: Bellatrix uses killing curse, definitively killing him, then he falls back into the mysterious veil and disappears.

Book: Sirius dodges Bellatrix's red jet of light (not killing curse, which is green), he laughs and taunts her, consequently gets hit squarely in the chest by a "second jet of light" (killing curse?), he falls back into the veil and disappears.

The main difference being that, in the film, we are certain Sirius died before falling into the veil and disappearing, whereas in the book we aren't certain whether the cause of death was Bellatrix's "second jet of light" or the veil.

The relevant scene in the film can be watched by clicking here.

The relevant scene in the books is described in the following excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35, Beyond the veil.

Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix’s jet of red light: He was laughing at her. “Come on, you can do better than that!” he yelled, his voice echoing around 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.
Harry released Neville, though he was unaware of doing so. He was jumping down the steps again, pulling out his wand, as Dumbledore turned to the dais too.
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 then fell back into place.
Harry heard Bellatrix Lestrange’s triumphant scream, but knew it meant nothing — Sirius had only just fallen through the archway, he would reappear from the other side any second. . . .
But Sirius did not reappear.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35

Harry believes for quite some time that Sirius will reappear from the veil, he is sure of it, until he realizes otherwise, and he goes toward the veil with an idea of rescue or retrieval in mind, but Lupin is there to stop him.

Similarly to the film adaptation, Lupin grabs hold of Harry and tries to console him and convince him that ...

Sirius really is dead, and there is nothing that can be done

Eventually Harry comes to terms with reality and agrees, then goes ...

... full revenge mode on Bellatrix.

So, my question is:

Why did nobody care to investigate further?

Within that question are a few lead-up questions like

How did Lupin know that a) Sirius was definitely dead, and b) enough about the veil to know that "there's nothing you can do, Harry"/"It's too late"?

Fair enough that Harry accepted the truth with Lupin there to sternly tell him so, but how did Lupin know? Why was nobody interested in investigating the possibility of rescue? We as an audience may know a lot of meta-things, but how did the relevant characters know enough to decide not to investigate the issue?

  • 4
    Spoiler tags are enough to warn about spoilers. You don't need a 500pixel wide banner to tell people.
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2016 at 12:55
  • @Valorum You're the boss, boss. The ways people handle spoilers on this site are, as far as I'm aware, kind of up to the discretion of the person bringing up the spoiler. I quote, " it's up to users to find their own guidelines" from a question "What is the policy for spoilers?" (link). I thought it was very considerate to go through the effort of prefacing a spoiler warning, and would very much like it to remain. Nov 5, 2016 at 13:02
  • 3
    Yeah, but there's no need to go overboard. You might also want to think about editing the question (with an axe) to get to the main point quicker.
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2016 at 13:05
  • Probably nobody ever returned after crossing the veil and ppl who'd grown up in the wizarding world (like Lupin) knew enough about it to conclude that 'yep, sirius is a goner'.
    – user68762
    Nov 5, 2016 at 13:32
  • 4
    I'm of the opinion that brevity is at the heart of a good question. Adding a vast chunk of pointless (albeit relevant) context isn't necessary since anyone capable of answering the question will already know the context. In this case, you could probably boil it just down to a 10 word question; "Why did everyone at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries assume that this character was dead?" with a picture of Sirius behind a spoiler tag in the body of the question.
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2016 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


The veil has been in the Ministry for as long as the Ministry has existed. We do not know exactly when it was created or by whom. It was in the Department of Mysteries so there were Unspeakables who were "investigating" it.

From a 2005 Leaky Cauldron interview:

MA: Our third winner question is from Monique Padelis, who’s 15, of Surrey. How and when was the veil created?

JKR: The veil's been there as long as the Ministry of Magic has been there, and the Ministry of Magic has been there, not as long as Hogwarts, but a long time. We’re talking hundreds of years. It's not particularly important to know exactly when, but centuries, definitely.

MA: Was it used as an execution chamber or just studying?

JKR: No, it's just studying. The Department of Mysteries is all about studying. They study the mind, the universe, death…

Lupin was well versed in Defense Against Dark Arts, he was the professor in Harry's third year. He was also a member of the Order of the Phoenix which had connections to the Auror Department with Moody and Kingsley, they may have been aware of the object and it could have been brought up at one of the Order's meetings.

While Lupin may not have known exactly what the veil was, he knew enough to recoginze its dark magic potential. Also, remember that they are in the middle of a battle and trying to escape with their lives. There was no time to explore and investigate.

  • 3
    Doesn't answer the question Nov 5, 2016 at 12:59
  • 1
    That's because you edited your answer after reading my comment... It's also generally not satisfactory because the first part of the relevant second half is speculation (at best), and this idea of recognising its dark magic potential is also problematic. There is nothing there to answer "How did Lupin know?". As for being in the middle of battle, they had time to stop fighting and stop Harry from running in and consoling him etc. (there was a pause). While I appreciate the urgency, the fact that they ignored the possibility of saving Sirius is whats troublesome. Nov 5, 2016 at 15:03
  • It was weird that you confronted me asking "how this doesn't answer the question", eventhough you knew perfectly well that I'd made that comment before you edited it to add a whole second half that actually had some relevance to the question, retroactively (after the fact). Nov 5, 2016 at 15:29
  • @Skooba Where does the "Dark Magic" come in? I read the veil as a literal portal to death (hence Harry feeling like he can hear voices just beyond it), but why would that involve dark magic?
    – DavidS
    Nov 8, 2016 at 17:50
  • @DavidS Something that can instantly kill you, I would call dark.
    – Skooba
    Nov 8, 2016 at 19:01

Something to keep in mind is that the Order has been staking out the Department of Mysteries for the past year under Invisibility Cloaks. Later, Dumbledore seems to suggest he had knowledge of what lies behind a door in the Department that is always locked.

'There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,' interrupted Dumbledore, 'that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all.

So Dumbledore, and therefore presumably the rest of the Order, know the secrets of the Department of Mysteries beyond just the prophecies. That suggests the reason that no one investigated is because they all knew that the veil was a door to death itself, and Sirius was definitely dead.

  • Brilliant answer. There's a solid connection between Dumbledore and Sirius.
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
    I think that Dumbledore is referring to the Love Chamber in that quote, seeing as he says "you [Harry] posess" but Voldemort doesn't. Nov 5, 2016 at 18:58
  • Is there more quotes/info you could add to back the claim "the Order has been staking out the Dpt. of Mysteries for the past year"? That does seem convincing, given that (unlike in the film) Dumbledore was there with Lupin, Harry and company, Nov 5, 2016 at 18:59

Sirius had already been killed when he fell through the veil.

The veil is symbolic of the barrier between the living and the dead before Sirius and Bellatrix duel. It has imagery, in Sirius crossing to the other side in more ways than one.

But when he goes through, the Ababa Kedavra spell has been cast.

Would he have died by going through the veil without the curse? Maybe.

But Harry's urge to call him back or pull him back is like him racing to the bottom of the tower in book 6. It symbolises the madness of grief, the inability to accept what has happened etc. Forgive me, I'm not an author and can't explain it well.

  • Ababa Kedavra xD? Anyway, doesn't answer the question Nov 5, 2016 at 16:02
  • @GhotiandChips (Nice user name btw), I think this answer hints in the right direction. Remember that the book chapters are written heavily from Harry's point of view, so while it was very obvious for everybody else that Sirius died and then fell through the vail, Harry went in denial and saw only the stepping-through-the-vail part. Reminds me of people in shock trying to search a hospital for their deceased loved ones, because "I just saw him right here, he must be here somewhere". No one would search the hospital, because the death is obvious to everybody else.
    – Philipp
    Nov 7, 2016 at 14:51
  • It does answer the question. Nov 9, 2016 at 0:27
  • It does answer the question. Nov 9, 2016 at 0:28
  • Nobody investigation because they saw Sirius killed by the Avada Kedavra curse. Nov 9, 2016 at 0:28

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