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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 13)

"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?

Posted by Jason on November 22, 2009 5:56 PM

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 s 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. -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 -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 d and fear was everywhere. It would have been very difficult to thinking logically. So them not spotting that is more realistic.

Posted by Tee from UK on December 22, 2009 05:52 AM

Is the Fidelius cast on places or people or a combination of both? Does it work by influencing human perceptions nearby or does it alter the physical manifestation of what is being hidden?

Does it work by subliminally planting false images in the minds of people who come near the object being hidden, or by physically removing the object from this plane of existence?

If it works by altering perceptions, does it affect humans only or all manner of creatures such as dogs, cats, owls, snakes, elves, dragons, or centaurs? Can a satellite capture images of a Fidelius-protected house? Can a printout of those satellite images be perceived by, say, an analyst sitting at his office halfway around the world from the hidden house?

* * *

Whatever it does, surely the charm does not act by removing knowledge already in existence. For instance, if Scabbers overheard Arthur and Molly mention that Grimmauld Place is the headquarters of the OOTP, then a Fidelius designed to confine that knowledge to order members would work on OOTP members but have no bearing on Scabbers.

'The headquarters of the OOTP is in Number 12 Grimmauld Place' is a fact that is hidden in two ways. First, by magically compelling the two dozen order members to keep their traps shut. Second, by cloaking the place. What it does not do is remove existing knowledge. Should the OOTP recast the charm to exclude Severus Snape, still it would not erase Snape's knowledge of it. The only way to do that would be to obliviate Snape, which would require subduing him first.

The implications are staggering if by force of Fidelius the OOTP could make Snape forget what he knows about the OOTP regardless of where he is. The OOTP could end the war simply by casting a Fidelius on the following information: 'Lord Voldemort is a bad person and Eaters exist'. Voldemort would turn good, not knowing he is bad. DE's would drop , not knowing they exist.

Imagine the consequences for muggles if the following items were put under Fidelius.

- democracy exists
- you can make fire by rubbing two sticks together
- the world is round
- 1+1=2

The notion that a charm can be cast to remove knowledge from human minds regardless of distance is untenable. We must recast our notions of the Fidelius and accept that it is some kind of security charm placed around certain locations combined with a certain compulsion effect of limited range.

Posted by Newyn from MNL on May 3, 2010 07:10 AM

The beginning of the article is false. James and or Lily wasn't the spell caster. Dumbledore was. So when he d, the house was revealed.

Posted by Anonymous on May 8, 2010 4:18 PM

What's your evidence for this claim? My original article quotes the Harry Potter book directly:

"Harry --" "Look... Look at it, Hermione..." "I don't... oh!" He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have d with James and Lily. (ly Hallows US pg. 331/UK pg. 271)

The book says very clearly James and Lily conjured the spell.

Posted by Dave Haber from Ottery St. Catchpole on May 8, 2010 4:55 PM

I just thought of something. we know Harry was able to see his own house. When harry and Hermione arrived at the Potter's old house she doesn't answer right away. not until harry tells her "hermione, look". does that mean that Harry had just told her the secret of where the house is? but then again, all the wizards and witches who came to visit were able to sign the sign.

That must mean everyone was able to see the house even though Wormtail had not yet d, because this all happens before Malfoy Mansion.

Posted by Lily Evans from Boston, US on June 15, 2010 12:27 AM

"James and or Lily wasn't the spell caster. Dumbledore was."

I'm not sure that we are ever told who cast the charm. Dumbledore's involvement was that he offered to be their secret keeper.
Could the force of the rebounding curse, which broke Voldemort, have also shattered the Fidelius Charm? Or, given the charm was cast to protect the Potters, could the s of James and Lily have rendered it void? Obviously Hagrid and Dumbledore were in on it, otherwise Hagrid couldn't have taken Harry out of the house if the charm hadn't been broken. Maybe it was Harry's removal from the ruins that finally broke the charm. All sorts of possibilities here.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on June 19, 2010 07:22 AM

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