The Secrets of the Fidelius Charm

The Fidelius Charm is a powerful charm that is central to the Harry Potter tale. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Flitwick tells us the charm is:

“an immensely complex spell … involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find — unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it.”

PoA pg 205/152

J.K. Rowling gave us further information on the how the Fidelius Charm works. In a FAQ poll on her official site, she says:

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them, or, to put it another way, the status of their secret will remain as it was at the moment of their death. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else.

JKRowling.com

So, although Flitwick describes it as “complex”, J.K’s description is seemingly straightforward, the information is concealed within the Secret-Keepers soul, and there it stays for an eternity, unless the Secret-Keeper chooses to communicate the knowledge. But is that the whole story? No.

The house at Godric’s Hollow, 12 Grimmauld Place, and Shell Cottage are three properties that are protected by the Fidelius Charm, three properties that have been secured against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. But within each property we see differences in the way the Fidelius Charm works.

godricshollow
Godric’s Hollow the night Voldemort attacked

We are told Peter Pettigrew, by virtue of the charm cast by either Lily or James, was the Secret-Keeper for the Potter’s home in Godric’s Hollow. But in the final book, Deathly Hallows, J.K. establishes how and why that secret is no longer kept:

“Harry –” “Look… Look at it, Hermione …” “I don’t … oh!” He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily.

DH 331/271

We have been told by both Flitwick and J.K. herself directly that the Fidelius Charm has a life span irrespective of the Secret-Keeper, that “the secret dies with them”. But here in Deathly Hallows is an example where that’s not true, in this case, the Secret-Keeper (Pettigrew) is still alive, but the secret has, nevertheless, been revealed to the world. And J.K. tells us through Harry’s narration that the reason the Fidelius Charm was broken was because the spell caster (James or Lily), NOT the Secret-Keeper, had died. Is this a mistake in the books? Maybe not.

This seemingly contradiction leads us next to the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, 12 Grimmauld Place, and a whole host of new questions.

We are first told by Sirius in Order of the Phoenix about the Fidelius Charm on 12 Grimmauld Place, when he tells Harry:

“Dumbledore’s Secret-Keeper for the Order, you know — nobody can find Headquarters unless he tells them personally where it is”

OotP 115/107

Dumbledore is Secret-Keeper, but who cast the charm? I think it is generally assumed that Dumbledore himself cast the charm, but this cannot be so, because if you follow the above example the spell only breaks upon the death of the caster, we see now that the location of 12 Grimmauld Place is still protected after Dumbledore’s death.

It seems a logical conclusion is that Severus Snape could have been the caster, as it has to be someone still alive after Dumbledore wasn’t. This is just another example of how deeply Dumbledore trusted Snape, to have given him such a powerful position in the secret of the headquarters of the Order.

12grimmauldplace
The Order arriving at 12 Grimmauld Place

OK. So now, because of how it is described why Harry and Hermione can see the remains of the house at Godric’s Hollow, we have a new understanding of the complexity of the Fidelius Charm. So, J.K.’s description of the charm should really have been:

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. UNTIL the spell caster dies, then the secret is revealed to everyone.

But wait, the spell gets even more complex. In Deathly Hallows, we learn why the Burrow has replaced 12 Grimmauld Place as the headquarters of the Order:

Mr. Weasley had explained that after the death of Dumbledore, their Secret-Keeper, each of the people to whom Dumbledore had confided Grimmauld Place’s location had become a Secret-Keeper in turn. “And as there are around 20 of us, that greatly dilutes the power of the Fidelius Charm.”

DH 90/79

So, was it a mistake to tell so many people the secret of 12 Grimmauld Place? It would be unavoidable, everyone who was in the Order and had to go there would have to know. Does this infer that Dumbledore knew the spell would eventually be very diluted, and so therefore only intended that the building be the headquarters of the Order for a short time?

We must amend the original description yet again:

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. UNLESS the Secret-Keeper dies, then all those who know the secret become Secret-Keepers. UNTIL the spell caster dies, then the secret is revealed to everyone.

In Deathly Hallows, we learn about another complexity of the charm, and why it’s so tricky to use. After their escape from the Ministry, Hermione says:

“As we Disapparated, Yaxley caught hold of me … we arrived at Grimmauld Place … I’ve already taken him inside the Fidelius Charm’s protection. Since Dumbledore died, we’re Secret-Keepers, so I’ve given him the secret, haven’t I?” There was no pretending; Harry was sure she was right. It was a serious blow. If Yaxley could now get inside the house, there was no way that they could return. Even now he could be bringing other Death Eaters in there by Apparition

DH 270/223

When Hermione inadvertently revealed the secret to Yaxley, since she was a Secret-Keeper, she has given him the secret. So, as we can see now, for the Fidelius Charm to be effective, both the caster and the Secret-Keeper must remain alive, and the Secret-Keeper needs to give out the information necessary with extreme caution — one mistake will cost both the Secret-Keeper’s life and lead to the revelation of the secret.

And this uncovers another big flaw in how the Fidelius Charm works. If you know the secret of a hidden place, you can bring in someone else who doesn’t know the secret, if you bring them in using side-along apparition.

So the charm has huge flaws — but what about its complexity? How difficult a charm is it to cast, and how long does it take? How does it take effect? Does the property simply vanish into thin air, concealed as Grimmauld Place is in nothingness? Who can see it the moment the charm is done — are you exempt if you are within the boundaries?

Trapped in the dungeon of Malfoy Mansion, Harry tells Dobby:

“Right. Dobby, I want you to grab Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander, and take them — take them to –” “Bill and Fleur’s,” said Ron. “Shell Cottage on the outskirts of Tinworth!”

DH 468/379

And Dobby obviously finds Shell Cottage, as we see Luna, Dean and Mr. Ollivander had made it there. A little later, Harry and Dobby, who had returned to the Mansion, escape in the middle of the fierce battle to capture him. Harry grabs Dobby’s hand and disapparates them both through the sheer power of his will to Shell Cottage.

Back at the cottage, after Harry buried Dobby, Bill tells Harry:

“…The Death Eater’s know Ron’s with you now, they’re bound to target the family” … “How are they protected?” asked Harry. “Fidelius Charm. Dad’s Secret-Keeper. And we’ve done it on this cottage too; I’m Secret-Keeper here.”

DH 482/390

Dobby found Shell Cottage the first time on his own, so it couldn’t have had the Fidelius charm on it at that point. It couldn’t have been added in the time between Dobby’s first trip and when Harry brought Dobby back there, because even if Dobby had been told the secret, he didn’t have time to tell it to Harry, and Harry found Shell Cottage all on his own, so it couldn’t have had the Fidelius Charm on it then either. So, these new Fidelius Charms must have been added between the time that Harry arrived at Shell Cottage, and when he returned to it after burying Dobby.

But, this means that if you are within sight of the protected area before the charm is cast, you don’t need to be let in on the secret, because we have now pinned down when the Fidelius Charm must have been placed on Shell Cottage, during the time Harry was off burying Dobby, HOWEVER, he did NOT need to be told the secret to return to the cottage. He just turned back to it and it was still there.

So, let’s fully restate it one more time, with everything we know:

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. EXCEPT if you are within the premises of the protected area when the spell is cast, you do not need to be told the secret. AND if you know a secret place, you can bring someone who doesn’t know the secret into the hidden place using side-along apparition. UNLESS the Secret-Keeper dies, then all those who know the secret become Secret-Keepers. UNTIL the spell caster dies, then the secret is revealed to everyone.

Knowing what we know now from the information in the books, this leads us to dark and ominous questions such as:

Would the Potters really had been any safer if Sirius Black had indeed been the Secret-Keeper? At some point would he have only had to tell Peter Pettigrew for Pettigrew to sell Sirius to Voldemort, in order for Sirius to die, and make Pettigrew a Secret-Keeper by default.

And, if Bathilda Bagshot had wandered into the garden of the Potter’s home just as the Fidelius Charm was performed, would she too, like how Harry saw Shell Cottage, be able to continue to see the house and its residents without having been told the newly formed secret? Would she have kept the secret, even under the Imperius curse?

The flaws, the discrepancies, and in some ways, the reliance on mere chance, leads to the unnerving conclusion that if the Fidelius Charm really was the Potter’s best chance of survival, then perhaps it was always only just a matter of time before Voldemort got to them, no matter who had been chosen as Secret-Keeper. If Sirius had lived, could perhaps this realization have lessened the guilt he felt for feeling responsible for James and Lily’s death?

It would seem that the Fidelius Charm, on closer inspection, is not the powerful security measure that we were led to believe it was.

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Christine Kendrick
Christine Kendrick
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amy
amy
16 years ago

WOW, once again Beyond Hogwarts has shown pure genius and talent in their ways of making everything so clear. I finally understand the secrets of the fidelius charm. I’m speechless.

Katie T
Katie T
16 years ago

This does not make sense to me:

“When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else. UNLESS the Secret-Keeper dies, then all those who know the secret become Secret-Keepers.”

Not really with what you said, but with J.K. Rowling. Technically, she should have said, “When the Secret-Keeper dies, the secret *goes* with them, but all the people in whom the Secret-Keeper confided BECOME Secret-Keepers.”

Her only saying, “…will continue to know the information” sounds like it implies that, though they KNOW the information, they do not actually become Secret-Keepers.

So, is THAT a mess-up in the writing?

Trevin
Trevin
16 years ago

On the issue of when the Fidelius Charm on Shell Cottage was cast:
It is possible that when Dobby, and next Harry, apparated to Shell Cottage, they did not actually end up within the boundaries of the Fidelius Charm. They might have come as close as possible, but could not come within the boundaries. Bill and Fleur would still be able to see them, and would obviously come out to help them, and take them inside, thus passing the secret on to them. This opens up the possibility that the Fidelius Charm was performed much earlier, eliminating the theory that if you are within sight of the area when the spell is cast, you know the secret.

Dave Haber
Dave Haber
16 years ago

Trevin: That’s possible, but we know from how Harry was let in to 12 Grimmauld Place for the first time that the Secret-Keeper has to actually tell you the secret, not simply show you in. Remember, Harry reads the note from the Grimmauld Place Secret-Keeper, Dumbledore. We see neither Bill or Fleur do this for Harry to let him into Shell Cottage.

MUKILAN
MUKILAN
16 years ago

The article is great. I didn’t know this much about the charm. Great work.

swati
swati
16 years ago

Very nice! I can see now, Dave, how you are going to carry the HP legacy on and on at beyond Hogwarts. I agree with �sm� (in thread of we were all correct) that you are like Dumbledore to us, bringing new light, new wisdom with the same facts. Hats off to you!

I think the information that was hidden were the Potters, not their home, as somewhere in series (I Think in PoA, I Don�t have it right now) someone said that voldemort could not have found potters even if he stuck his nose to the windows of their drawing room or so.

I think only the secret keeper (not all those who have been told) can bring anyone with him through side along apparition (which is equivalent to telling the secret to him). Otherwise yes, I agree that it was just a matter of time for potters. The only chance for potters could have been Dumbledore as secret keeper which would have been wise too. It will be interesting to know whether the newly (self) appointed secret keepers (after death of original one) can pass on the information (other than by side along apparition) in the same manner as the original one can?

Can a fidelius charm be cast on same secret (property etc.) twice, say when Dumbledore died, someone could have cast another fidelius charm with someone else (say harry) as secret keeper, than 12 Grimmauld place would be safe again as headquarters, and even snape could not have got there because now he would not know the secret. I mean can fidelius charm be overwritten?

Lauren
Lauren
16 years ago

I honestly think that Hermione was wrong about giving Yaxley the secret. Someone should ask Jo about that. I think she was just being careful, and they couldn’t go back just in case she had given Yaxley the secret. If you can take someone inside where the Charm has been performed my apparation, it doesn’t seem very safe.

Also, where exactly does it say that the caster has to die for the secret to be revealed? In DH, it says “the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily.” I think the Charm dies when the person/people it is supposed to be protecting die. Although it would make sense for the charm to fail if the caster dies, like Dumbledore’s Full Body-Bind curse on Harry. But in the case of Lily and James, I think it died because they did, and there was no longer a need for it.

And I agree with Trevin. I think Jo just didn’t bother putting it in because some of us (I know I was) were upset over Dobby’s death and honestly couldn’t be bothered about things like that. But now I’m going to contradict myself and say, what about in HBP and Dumbledore brought Harry to the Burrow? He didn’t tell him the location of it or anything, they apparated there. Wasn’t Dumbledore the secret keeper for it, because it was supposed to have all the protection of the Order? So maybe you can give someone the secret by apparating there with the secret keeper.

Dave Haber
Dave Haber
16 years ago

Yes, the passage about “Voldemort could stick his nose on the window and not see them” implies the spell was on the potters, not on their house. But the passage in DH about the fact that they shouldn’t be able to see the house but now they can contradicts that. JK comes right out and says Harry believed they could see the house because “the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily”.

Also, every other example we have in the books of the Fidelius Charm is on a location, not a person or persons.

Tim
Tim
16 years ago

If the death of the caster ended the charm, I’d say it is fairly useless as a defensive mechanism unless the caster casts the charm and then never leaves it’s confines — If all you had to do was off the caster, then there are essentailly two secret keepers — the keeper themself and the caster.

Also, there is no textual foundation for Snape having cast the charm at 12 Grimmuald place, so I don’t think I can accept that theory just yet.

Before I read the real DH, I read a fan fic that was being touted as the real thing…I can’t recall if it was in that or in the real DH, but someone mentioned the Fidelius charm as not being as secure as it leads us to believe. If it was in the real book, then JK already gave us the conclusion Dave drew. If it was in the fake I read, sorry for bringing it up:) Regardless, the conclusion is right — it isn’t as great a protection spell as we might believe.

missy
missy
16 years ago

David Haber: your comment to Trevin: “we know from how Harry was let in to 12 Grimmauld Place for the first time that the Secret-Keeper has to actually tell you the secret, not simply show you in.”

How do you explain how Yaxley was given the secret then? If you have to tell someone the secret, then how did yaxley gain entrance by just side-along apparition? or is it you become a secret keeper if by side along apparition OR you have to be told the secret?

Dave Haber
Dave Haber
16 years ago

Missy: The side-along apparition thing is a loop-hole. The apparitioner gets in because he knows the secret. The side-along person just comes along for the ride. I suppose that even though the side-along person gets in, they still don’t know the secret, and could not later get back in on their own.

Patty
Patty
16 years ago

I think the Fidelius Charm was on the Potter’s house, not on them. In her letter to Sirius, Lily mentions James’ frustation when he was not able to leave the house because Dumbledore had his Invisibility Cloak. If he was protected personally by the charm, couldn’t he have wandered freely?
Also, if the house was unprotected, Voldemort could have destroyed it on the chance they were inside so it wouldn’t have been a safe place to hide at all.

Casey
Casey
16 years ago

I think the the Fidelius Charm is far more simple than stated in article. The charm only breaks when it is no longer needed. The charm on the Potter house has no use if there is no one to protect.

Alissa
Alissa
16 years ago

I assumed Dobby was able to take everyone from the basement of Malfoy Manor to Shell Cottage because Ron told him where to go- Bill was secret-keeper there, and Ron stayed there over Christmas, so he obviously was told. But that wouldn’t be true, because Bill would have had to have told Dobby; Ron was not secret-keeper. Was Dobby able because “house-elf magic is different”, as stated regarding apparating in Hogwarts?

HP#1
HP#1
16 years ago

yeah this article makes a lot of sense. So, it wouldn’t have really mattered if Sirius was secret keeper or not, lily and james would have both died anyway. so wait, when did they protect bill and Fleur’s place with the fidelius charm? after or before harry went there? because harry would have had to know if he had entered their house without knowing about it… i dont think bill ever told him did he? i forgot, i finished the last book a day or so after it came out so i forgot

Hassan Saaidh
Hassan Saaidh
16 years ago

According to the book Harry lived there and he pointed it to Hermione so she could see it. I think this is a possibility but please don’t take a note of interest in this

Orlando
Orlando
16 years ago

I have noticed a lot of comments regarding the fact that ‘elf magic’ is different and therefore Dobby was not bound by the rules of the Fidelius Charm. BUT, there is a suggestion that house elves are indeed bound by the rules, if you consider Kreacher’s role in OotP.

‘Kreacher was not able to betray us totally. He is not Secret Keeper for the Order, he could not give the Malfoys our whereabouts’ (Ootp UK. pg732)

This suggests that Kreacher could not reveal the location due to him not being Secret Keeper -thus implying he is bound by the rules of the Fidelius Charm.

The conversation goes on to say that Kreacher was further bound by ‘the enchantments of his kind’ – meaning he could not disobey a direct order from his Master (Sirius).

So if Kreacher could not reveal as he was not Secret Keeper there is a logical step that Dobby would not have found Shell Cottage IF the Charm was already in place as he had not been told the location by Bill.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
16 years ago

I thought the Fidelius Charm was only cast on Shell Cottage after Dobby got Harry and the others there. Bill was still going to work up to then so there was no point having the Fidelius Charm in place any earlier.

Or it might be that Bill placed the charm on the house when Dobby arrived the first time with Luna and the others. I don’t know if Dobby, being a house elf, would be able to apparate within Shell Cottage’s boundaries with Harry and Griphook even though he wasn’t a secret keeper. It seems likely though. We have already seen that house elves are able to apparate and disapparate where a witch or wizard cannot. Hogwarts for example and the cave where Voldemort hid the locket.

Joe
Joe
16 years ago

Just come across this at beginning of HBP (p53);
Dumbledore talking to Harry about 12 Grimmauld Place and Sirius’s will:

“We do not know whether the enchantments we ourselves have placed upon int, for example, making it unplottable, will hold now that ownership has passed from Sirius’s hands. It might be that Bellatrix will arrive on the doorstep at any moment”

Does this imply that the magic keeping Bellatrix away is not the Fidelius Charm but rather the enchantments making Grimmauld Place unplottable? Or does something happen to the fidelius charm on 12 Grimmauld place when Sirius no longer owns it?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
16 years ago

Joe, it might be that you can’t hide something from its rightful owner with the Fidelius charm, or something like that. True ownership overrides enchantment or something.

Beth
Beth
15 years ago

Yes, as per usual when people try their hardest to explain something complex, i have no idea what their talking about. I think in a sense i do understand, but i still think it is really foggy…

So, let me think. Does the spell caster stay the secret-keeper or pick one? Oh no wait i think it was that if they die, everybody else that new about the location will take turns becoming the secret-keeper.What about when Harry when to shell cottage?I think its that since Harry already knew about the place and…and…OK the more i think about it the more i get confused so just leave it…

Beth
Beth
15 years ago

Ok thanks another writers comment i finally sumwhat understand the shell cottage insident.But all of this fidelius charm sh… stuff it going to make my head EXPLODE just reading 3 paragraps OF THIS is making my head DIZZY!

Siena
Siena
15 years ago

Beth, my sympathy; I think a wrackspurt just hit me as well..
but, what puzzles me most: enchantments working or not, I find that the Potters were a bit blase about their safety, they didn’t even have their wands at the ready! I mean they should have been prepared for the possibility that Voldemort might find a way to enter their building despite any enchantments, he was, after all, an extremely powerful wizard! Also I don’t understand why they decided to pass on the role of the secret keeper from Sirius to someone else, sure this was a risk, this process of passing it on?

Squash
Squash
15 years ago

what is the fidelius charm had already been casted and because Dobby is a houself the charm doesn’t apply to him.

Also, i don’t think that J.K. Rowling ever put that much thought or complexity into the details of the charm.

Abhishek Kaulgud
Abhishek Kaulgud
15 years ago

i just cant make the connection that how can one disapparate when the fidelius charm is working. . James and Lily would have done the same,They wouldn’t have died,would they?

andrew
andrew
15 years ago

you see, towards the end of the description, it explains all the possibilities that could’ve happened with Bathilda Bagshot, and it says she was under the Imperious curse when Lilly and James were still alive…i don’t understand that, because when Rita Skeeter interviewed her, (i guess she must’ve used Legimency) she wasn’t under the Imperious curse, because, if she was indeed “gaga” and wouldn’t have realized she had given information, she couldn’t have been under the Imperious curse, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to remember all the information, would she? Of course, im just assuming that, when it says she was under the Imperious curse, it was meaning when Nagini was supposedly controlling her…:D

Callum
Callum
15 years ago

I noticed two flaws with the Charm,

1. In the Malfoy’s basement; Ron says: SHELL COTTAGE, BILL AND FLUERS PLACE.
But later Harry said: How are they protected?
Bill: Fidelius Charm; I’m secret keeper.
If Bill was secret keeper how could of Ron told the secret?

2. In Prisoner of Azkaban it says: YOU-KNOW-WHO wouldnt even know they are there! Even if he had his nose (not that he has one) pressed against their living room Window.

How does the Charm work? is the house invisible to the people who don’t know the secret? Or Just The People.
Rowling should have gone further in explaining it.

HP-Fan
HP-Fan
15 years ago

I think that the idea that being inside the premises (or being in sight of it) when the spell is cast lets you in on the secret is false… It’s entirely possible that Dobby could have found a place protected by the Fidelius charm, because like Rowling told us so many times, elf magic is different from wizard magic.

Will
Will
15 years ago

In the ‘Deathly Hallows’, aren’t we told that Ron went to stay with Bill and Fleur when he left the others? Therefore he already knows the secret. He told Harry, who then told Dobby. Therefore, the fidelius charm may have been in place, but Dobby knew the secret so it didn’t matter.

(correct me if I’m wrong)

Simone
Simone
15 years ago

If Hermione was right about Yaxley being able to circumvent the Fidelius Charm and bring DEs inside by Side-Along Apparition, then why did they hide there? They should have thought that Snape would bring DEs there!

Orlando
Orlando
15 years ago

Will from London.

I don’t think the Fidelius Charm was in place when Ron went to stay with them, however – if it had been, Ron is not/was not Secret Keeper and therefore would have been unable to tell Dobby or anyone else for that matter where his brother lived.

Anonymous
Anonymous
15 years ago

Abhishek Kaulgud

very good point, about apparating. but youre forgetting that these are the potters. for one thing, they are members of the order of the phoenix, so they would feel obliged to fight. and lily probably wouldnt have disapparated for a few reasons:

1. she was terrified because her husband died too, and she wasnt thinking clearly. im sure you can imagine the emotions.

2. harry was a baby. remember how uncomfortable apparation is? imagine that on a baby. it might have killed harry

3. she didnt have a wand on her, remember? and you cant apparate without a wand, as far as we know.

Ayoub
Ayoub
15 years ago

Callum

yea good point about shell cottage. but i think your missing something here.

for one thing, elves can apparate and disapparate pretty much anywhere, so thats a problem solved.

for another thing, we must remember that every spell will work according to how the perpretator of the spell wishes it to work, when possible. i think this is one of the things the room of reqirement has taught me.

the OotP headquarters was meant to be untraceble to people who knew the place personally, like bellatrix lestrange and malfoys and other pro-voldemort Black relatives and friends.

so whoever the caster of the fidelius charm [whether dumby or snape] had made it that way, so that unless the caster personally passed the message on, the OotP HQ would be unplottable and invisible.

on shell cottage, on the other hand, i think the spell would have been cast slightly diferently. Bill and fleur were newly married, so they would have made it so that Bill could let anyone he knew personally and trusted to be in the secret.

i know that sounds confusing, so think of it this way. Bill, when casting the charm, would have done so intending to let it be open to his family members. if this isnt the case, how the heck would ron have even known about shell cottage?

Anonymous
Anonymous
15 years ago

also, and i meant to write this before, but i didnt want to mix this i the same post as the previous one, but i want to draw everone’s focus on that sentence quoted of harry and hermione at Godric’s Hollow in the article.

“Harry –” “Look… Look at it, Hermione…” “I don’t… oh!” He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily. (DH 331/271)

i have a different theory to Daves, although his one is very deailed and probably more liekly to be correct.

i think harry was a secret keeper of his house at godrics hollow. it was the atention to the above quote that made me thnk that. hermione doesnt see the house until harry personally points towards it and tells her to look there.

Is this to far-fetched? let us examine this. i thnk one thing we can agree on when it comes to the HP novels, is that ‘far-fethed’ is non-existant in Jo’s world.

now, you may wonder if i have any base for this theory. yes i do, but it may sound feeble, but here goes…

harry was a baby but he was living in the potter residence, and this is definitely while the fidilius charm was cast and present over ther residence.

for those of you saying that since harry was a baby, him living there when he was at such a young age would have meant it was pretty much impossible for his memory to hold him as secret keeper. but then, with that said, we must wonder how, before he even knew he was a wizard, how was he able to recall the green flash?

swati
swati
15 years ago

there are 2 points which do not support harry being secret keeper theory. how could have voldy got in the house of potters if harry was the secret keeper and we know for sure that wortail was the secret keeper.

Orlando
Orlando
15 years ago

Anonymous.

Harry cannot have been Secret Keeper for Godrics Hollow – for if he had then Voldemort would not have been able to find the Potter’s. I am afraid that it is canon that Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper for Godrics Hollow.
With regards to the ‘green flash’, it is not so amazing that he remembers it. Children who suffer a trauma in their younger years will often say (once they are older) ‘Oh all I remember is…’ such as a loud noise, a flash of light etc. So all Harry can remember of the terrible event is a flash of green light – which he assumes is from lights on a car.

Libby
Libby
15 years ago

OK, my question is…
Why did the Potter’s choose Peter as their secret keeper when they could have chosen themselves?!
I mean, Bill chose himself for shell cottage, Dumbledore for the Order and Arthur after he died. So why didn’t James or Lily just choose themselves?

Oh and another thing –
The secret is supposed to die with the secret keeper, as in the people they confided in will still know but no one else will find out, right? Then how can the people the secret keeper told become secret keepers and be able to tell others?

But I suppose maybe that wouldn’t work because it might give people an incentive to kill their secret keeper to ensure they stay hidden.

Orlando
Orlando
15 years ago

Libby.
In answer to your first question – if only the Potter’s had chosen one of themselves, or even if they had accepted Dumbledore’s help they would still be alive… but there would be no story to tell.

Your second point – well, yes, that is what the article is about – how the Fidelius Charm seemingly mutates throughout the series and what we thought we knew about the Charm is not what is used in Deathly Hallows.

It does indicate that the charm is not as powerful as we were led to believe initially, and that a lot is left to trust – and chance!

Trey C
Trey C
15 years ago

I just want to say that the whole Dobby thing, you have to remember elves have different kind of magic that don’t require wands. I think it’s completely possible that house elves and other magical creatures (non witch/wizard) can apparate within the Fidelius charm. Basically meaning the Fidelius charm does NOT protect you from creatures, only people.

Pang
Pang
15 years ago

Dobby is a houself, meaning that he has higher powers that can withstand ordinary wizard charms. We all read where Dobby can enter Hogwarts (ie. Fidelius Charm and other enchantments are cast on that so how do you explain into that?and the students?) and even Grimmauld Place, and even the Malfoy Mansion (though, technically he had lived/worked there) and now Shell Cottage. So that means that even if the Fidelius Charm is casted on Shell Cottage he would still be able to enter even without being given the secret, because he is a HOUSELF (agreeing with the above that creatures can still enter into the charm zone).

also don’t forget that even the Dursley House might have had it casted on too, seeing as Voldemort and others could not find Harry during his summer holidays (or was it Aunt Petunia who was charmed or was it the house?)

So maybe the charm was cast quite a while before when Fleur and Bill got the house and moved in after the wedding and had given Harry and family members the required address and made them also secret-keepers (i think at some point, Bill or a Weasley family member would have given the trio information on Shell Cottage, letting them know that it is safe for them to rely and be safe at during their secret journies).

Godrics Hollow and every other magical neighborhood is protected somewhat by charms (muggle repellant, mapping?, and even Fidelius). The Potter’s House had been charmed and as they DID trust Bathilda Bagshot, they must have had her as a secret keeper also besides Sirius. Sirius was maybe the original secret keeper, meaning that night he had made Peter Pettigrew a secret keeper too when he told him where the Potters were. So if you think about it, Sirius gave Pettigrew the information while he (and maybe a few trusted others) was a secret keeper.

Thus, the secret keeper on the Fidelius Charm is like a chain that almost never ends even after the caster or the original secret keeper dies. And I’d like to remind you guys that HARRY was also part of the Charm in which he resided within the enchantment even if he was a baby at that time, he would be able to see it and Hermione knew because Harry hold her and also that it’s already told all over the magical community where the Potters were found and died (seeing as they all left messages there on the spot).

The Fidelius Charm works simple, but has it’s complications in the severance of caster and keepers. I assume the caster might die, but the keepers still know of the secret place so the charm can never truly die, until all know where it is.

Orlando
Orlando
15 years ago

Interesting Pang.

I don’t think that Hogwarts is under the Fidelius Charm, it wouldn’t be at all practicle. Nobody ever tells Harry the exact location of the school – just how to catch the train to get there. The school may be unplottable and invisible to the ‘Muggle’ eye, but I don’t think that the Fidelius Charm is part of its protection.

4 Privet Drive is also not under the protection of the Fidelius Charm because Voldemort and his gang DO know where Harry lives – but Harry cannot be touched whilst there due to the complex magic Dumbledore performed following Lily’s sacrifice. The protection only lasts whilst Harry is under age though – hence why he has to be removed in DH and the resultant attack from the DE’s.

It is anyones guess when the Fidelius was cast on Shell Cottage – but one thing for sure is that Bill Weasley is the Secret Keeper for the cottage,as he tells Harry as much himself.

One thing I would like to add to the debate is IF Dobby IS able to apparate beyond the controls of the Fidelius Charm then it is yet again a major flaw in the charm itself, for Dobby was not just taking himself there- he was taking people with him. Thus, it suggests that any Death Eater at any moment could apparate into any property under the Fidelius Charm as long as they went side along with their House Elf.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
15 years ago

The Fidelius charm certainly has weaknesses. I agree houselves are able to apparate beyond itas controls. It also seems likely houselves can take people into the boundries of a Fidelius Charm, even if that person does not know the secret. I don’t agree the charm was cast on Shell Cottage when Bill and Fleur first arrived there. Based on what Harry goes in and hears after digging Dobby’s grave, it seems that the charm was cast only after the Weasley’s knew the Death Eaters had learned Ron was with Harry. I think this means the charm was cast when Harry was digging the grave. It could not have been cast before because Ron told Dobby where to go. Ron was not the secret keeper. He Would not have been able to say the name of the place.

Christopher
Christopher
15 years ago

It’s my understanding that the fidelius charm is about the secret.

Grimmauld Place’s secret was shared with all the order members including harry by dumbledore, but they could not give up the secret until after he died. Once he did, everyone was then capable of telling others.

A lot of the information from the article is out of context. Most of what we know comes from speculation by Harry or Hermione, or inferred from informal conversation between characters. That being said, Hermione must have been wrong about yaxley being able to find Grimmauld. Moody, (an accomplished Auror) had the idea to tie up Snapes tongue to keep him from exposing the secret. He still could have shown the secret through side along apparition, or just writing the secret down.

Consider the importance of intent when it comes to the fidelius charm. Perhaps Pettigrews intention to betray the Potters ended the charm and exposed the world to the Godrics Hollow house, leaving only a couple of anti muggle charms.

Or when the secret keeper tells someone else the secret, such as Dumbledore to the rest of the order, not to betray but to provide sanctuary, the charm holds up. Shell cottage has been explained in the first couple pages of posts.

I’ve thought about it, and anyone performing the fidelius charm should immediate do the unbreakable bond, making the secret keeper swear to never give up the secret for malicious reasons. If this had been done by james to peter, peter would’ve have died when he dimed to voldemort, or (more likely) never done it at all.

Geoffrey Laforge
Geoffrey Laforge
15 years ago

Godric’s hollow was destroyed and James and Lily were dead, hence the Spell ceased to be. It had no more purpose,very much like the curse on the DADA post stopped after Voldmort died.

I suspect a part of Bill work in Egypt consited of finding Pyramids and ancient Tombs under fidelius.

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

Sorry but to me, this article makes no sense. As the person above said the house could be seen as it was destroyed, there was very powerful magic.

What JKR said may have been wrong, but to me this whole article was contradictory and has no point to it.

Orlando
Orlando
14 years ago

Dave.

The article is not contradictory – the Fidelius Charm itself is contradictory, hence the point of the piece, to show the flaws and contradictory elements.

On the basis that the story of Harry Potter takes place through Pettigrew selling out the Potter’s to Voldemort through the Fidelius Charm, it makes sense to question the charm and its flaws.

The ‘point’ to such an article is to merely create debate. Of course there is no point in overly arguing it, because in the end it went the way it did – but the article creates the ground for so many other possible outcomes and therefore room for discussion and debate.

Caleb
Caleb
14 years ago

Isn’t is possible that when you cast the Fidelius Charm that the person you are protecting and other people included in the charm do not have to be right there when it is cast? It has been a while since I have read the book, but it is possible that when they cast the spell, they included Harry as one of the people that held the secret and, therefore, could enter the shack freely.

Charlie Lobo
Charlie Lobo
14 years ago

Strong arguments, but as many people have said, we need to asume a few facts before knowing.

First of all everyone knew that James and Lily HAD DIED, now where they (or their corpses) where. I might be wrong but I don’t remember a visit to Harry’s Parent’s grave.
So the spell didn’t dissapear, no one knows where James and Lily’s bodies are. The spell did not protect their state (they being dead).

The effects of the secret keeper are reasonable. We can argue that when the secret keeper dies, the secret goes to the graveyard with him. BUT all the people in on the secret wouldn’t forget it (it’s never told). The logical conclusion is that they are all Secret-Keepers, or maybe we could argue that anyone on the secret (either told by the original secret keeper or a new one) becomes a secret keeper if the original secret keeper dies. There are various ways to interpret this.

Finally on the ways to spread the secret. We are never told what is “telling” someone else a secret. I could tell a secret fully willingly but indirectly (with a secret code, indirect messages and so forth) without ever actually saying the secret word for word. What about writing? What about actions? I can show someone where I keep my secret diary without telling them anything, and I would have release the secret to him.

This may explain why Harry Potter found the house by being brought in without being told. It may also explains Hermione’s fear of releasing the secret inadvertently.
The complexity of the spelling comes out in how hard it is to define what is releasing a secret. What is to do something willingly? If I’m trick to releasing a secret without knowing what I’m doing, does that count? One would argue that if I were willing but unknowing it would work. Others would argue that I didn’t explicitly told the secret to the trickster, so, would it work?

More over the way the spell works, with certain effects disappearing at certain events (like the exclusivity of the secret keeper at his death). I don’t really understand how a complex-compound spell might work. We could argue that if there are different spell effects working in tandem we could get chaotic reactions, which might be extremely hard, or impossible to fully understand and predict (such as with chaotic systems in physics).

Because of this the spell should be done carefully, understanding as fully as possible what the effects would be. So it’s not a matter of a slow spell, but of careful casting of it. Of course the wizards at the cottage are grade A spellcasters, and could do it quicker than most people.

More issues:
The secret-keeper can’t be the secret kept. As soon as the spell is cast no one would be able to see the secret-keeper and learn the spell! So while the caster might generally keep himself the secret-keeper, this is not such a good idea as they would become disconnected from the world forever (unless that is what they want).

Jason
Jason
14 years ago

“Dobby found Shell Cottage the first time on his own, so it couldn’t have had the Fidelius charm on it at that point. It couldn’t have been added in the time between Dobby’s first trip and when Harry brought Dobby back there, because even if Dobby had been told the secret, he didn’t have time to tell it to Harry, and Harry found Shell Cottage all on his own, so it couldn’t have had the Fidelius Charm on it then either. So, these new Fidelius Charms must have been added between the time that Harry arrived at Shell Cottage, and when he returned to it after burying Dobby.”

I don’t agree with this part. Dobby himself says that elves have magic even wizards don’t, so who’s to say that elves can’t enter a place hidden the Fidelius Charm without being a secret keeper? If we go by that then Harry became secret keeper when Dobby took him there, which is why he was able to see Shell Cottage even with the charm in place. It makes sense, right?

Tee
Tee
14 years ago

Going back to Peter Pettigrew and the Godric’s Hollow Fidelius Charm, I thought that it broke because the Secret-Keeper told the Secret to the person or people it was intended to be kept secret from, i.e. Voldemort. Therefore, the point of it existing becomes void. It is no longer a secret because the people who aren’t supposed to know do know. Peter could have told other people, e.g. Hagrid, and it would still continue working, because the Secret of the Potter’s location wasn’t intended to be kept from Hagrid or other friends and supporters of the Potters.

We see this at Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore dies and Hermione becomes one of the Secret-Keepers. Yaxley hitching a ride by Side-Along Apparition meant that she had revealed the Secret to the people it was intended to be kept from, i.e. Death-Eaters and Voldemort. So the Charm is no longer on Grimmauld Place.

So what I’m saying is that the intention of the Secret, why its a secret and who its being kept from, is more important than the caster.

Also, I agree with a point made in an earlier post stating that Hermione and the gang should have realised that the fact Snape, as a fellow Secret-Keeper, didn’t tell the Death-Eaters (maybe beacuse of a tongue-tying curse?) nor show them through Appariton like Hermione did, should have shown them that he was still on there side. Though just like in life sometimes our emotions blind us to what is obvious. Emotions were very high at that time because Dumbledore had just died and fear was everywhere. It would have been very difficult to thinking logically. So them not spotting that is more realistic.