Boy

She is going to marry Sirius Black. They're related, but he's not her brother or anything so Dora reckons that it's allowed, and if it isn't then she's going to marry him anyway.

Princes in picture-book fairytales have thick brown hair and square jaws and wear gold sashes. Dora is glad that she's always hated fairytales because Sirius doesn't look anything like that. He's got long dark hair like Mummy's, except his is wilder. When Dora was little she liked to thread her fingers through Sirius' hair and Mummy and Daddy were surprised that she didn't yank it, but she was more careful with Sirius' hair than with Mummy's. Sirius' face is bony. He wears black jeans and boots and tight t-shirts in different colours. He's got a tattoo of an arrow on his arm and another tattoo at the top of his chest that looks like a cross. Sirius Black is more handsome than any prince in any fairy story.

On the days that Sirius comes to visit Dora grows herself taller and makes her face look what she hopes is a bit more grown-up.

"What are you doing?" Daddy asks as she studies herself in the mirror. She's not meant to grow herself because the Healers say it'll mess with her height in the future. But she makes an exception for Sirius.

Dora shrugs. "Just practicing."

Most adults give her a hug or a hair-ruffle when they come into the house, but Sirius always kneels down and kisses Dora's hand like she is a grown-up lady and says, "Hello, Nymphadora," in his gravelly voice. She hates her real first name but there's something in his tone that makes her not want to correct him. Sirius listens to everything she says and answers questions properly and asks serious questions of his own. He often asks her if she wants a brother or sister.

"Maybe," Dora shrugs, "Only if it would play with me,"

"Well, who wouldn't want to play with you?" he says, looking affronted. They're lying on their tummies on the living room floor making her toy dragons fight each other.

"And I want a brother, not a sister,"

'How come?"

"Girls are boring,"

"You're a girl. You're not boring," Sirius points out.

"Hmm. Yeah,"

"You're loads of fun," he says, and to prove it he leans over, grabs her arms and tickles her until she feels sick.


Sirius has a motorbike. When Dora was little he would lift her onto the seat and sit close behind her tilting the handle bars and growling engine noises like they were really driving. She liked feeling his tummy against her back and his arms touching hers. He smelt of smoke. Mummy always tells him off for smoking but Sirius doesn't care. Dora doesn't think he cares about anything. Nowadays Sirius takes her for a real drive out on the motorbike. It's so exciting. He tosses her his spare helmet which is huge on her head, and Daddy makes him promise to only ride around the block and to drive slowly. Sirius nods solemnly and crosses his heart, then winks at Dora as he puts his own helmet on, and she knows that they will be going further than just round the block and they will not be going slowly. Sirius jumps onto the bike and Dora climbs on behind him, looping her arms around his narrow body, and they drive onto the high street and up to the main road, the bike juddering and rumbling. Sirius does a couple of laps of the roundabout, titling the bike on the curve. Dora squeals and clings even harder to his t-shirt. They turn off the roundabout and drive back along the riverside track. There's no cars there so they can go really fast, the bike gets getting louder and jerkier and Sirius whoops from underneath his helmet. Then he drives home through Eldon Road and she tries not to giggle when Sirius tells Daddy, with a completely straight face, that they only went two streets from home.


Mummy and Daddy ran away together, and Sirius ran away too, so he's the only one of Mummy's family that writes or comes to visit. This doesn't make sense but Dora didn't understand when Mummy explained it to her.

"I think that you and Daddy are worth more than the rest of my family, and so does Sirius," Mummy had said at last, "So that's the most important thing, isn't it?"

Dora supposed that it was.

Sirius sometimes tags along to see Dad's side of the family. They don't do magic because they are Muggles. Sirius doesn't know many Muggles so he likes showing off to them. That's what Dad calls it when Sirius warms up the tea with his wand or turns the coffee table into a hedgehog. Dora thinks it is brilliant.

Daddy fixes broken Floo networks and Mummy works at the bank with something called counterfeits. Dora isn't sure what Sirius' job is and he never gives her a straight answer. She suspects it's something cool and secret like catching dragons or hunting treasure. He's good at keeping secrets, like the motorbike rides or the pair of earrings he bought Mummy for Christmas when they were all out in Diagon Alley, or when he pretended he didn't know anything about the flowerpot Dora had smashed. Mummy gets cross at calls Sirius a "feckless cad' and a "recalcitrant rascal". But also calls him "my love" and "darling" and "ma petite puce". Daddy calls him "that mad boy" and says that he was "born to hang" but like Mummy he smiles when he says it. Sirius' favourite things to say that aren't swear words are "It's worth a shot" and "I'd like to see you try". His laugh is sharp and rough. When he's cross he makes a sort of, "Tchh" noise with his teeth. They're neat and white even though Mummy says that the cigarettes will turn them yellow.

Sirius Black loves loud music, dogs, fireworks and Bertie Botts'. He hates tomatoes, pigeons and history. He often speaks French with Mummy, and he likes it when Daddy shows him his Muggle map collection. He supports the Tutshill Tornadoes. His handwriting is neat. He assured Dora once, very seriously, that he is never wrong. He always puts brown sauce on his bacon sandwiches. Dora is sure that she is going to marry him.


When she is nine Sirius disappears. Two people die and Sirius is the reason why. He is going to prison.

"How long for?" Dora asks Daddy, because Mummy is upstairs shouting and crying.

"A very long time," says Daddy.

"But we can visit him, can't we?"

"No, sweetheart. I know this is difficult, it's difficult for all of us. But he wasn't who we thought he was,"

"Who was he, then?"

"He was…bad. He must have been good at pretending because every believed he wasn't like the rest of them, but…"

"The rest of who?"

"Your Mum's family,"

"But Sirius is the only one of Mummy's family she talks to, isn't he?"

"He was," said Daddy sadly, "Which means that she's only got you and me now, Dora. Understand?"

"But, Sirius…" she says uselessly.

"I'm sorry, darling. I know you liked him,"

"I didn't like him," she mumbles, wiping her tears with her sleeve, "I love him".