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The Secrets of the Fidelius Charm

by Christine Kendrick

The Fidelius Charm is a powerful charm that is central to the Harry Potter tale. 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.

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Reader Comments: (Page 10)

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.

Posted by Casey from New Hampshire on December 11, 2007 8:25 PM

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?

Posted by Alissa from Pgh, PA on December 16, 2007 07:14 AM

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 d 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

Posted by HP#1 on December 28, 2007 2:03 PM

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

Posted by Hassan Saaidh from Male Maldives on January 5, 2008 07:29 AM

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.

Posted by Orlando from England on January 5, 2008 6:10 PM

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.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on January 14, 2008 07:26 AM

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

"We do not know whether the enchantments we ourselves have placed upon int, for example, making it unplottable, hold now that ownership has passed from Sirius's hands. It might be that Bellatrix 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?

Posted by Joe from England on January 23, 2008 12:38 AM

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.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on January 27, 2008 06:26 AM

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 , everybody else that new about the location 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...

Posted by Beth from Brampton,Ontario on February 23, 2008 5:49 PM

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!

Posted by Beth from Brampton,Ontario on February 23, 2008 5:56 PM

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?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on March 3, 2008 06:19 AM

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.

Posted by Squash from chicago, il on March 4, 2008 6:29 PM

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