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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 6)

i agree with dave: i think james cast the charm. and i think it would have been better for sirius to be the secret keeper. he said in POA he would have d rather than betray his friends. so if some how somebody close to lord voldemort found out sirius was secret keeper and he did the secret would have d with him unless he told somebody else.

Posted by tonks from midland nc on October 7, 2007 12:41 PM

i was reading the books again to understand more about the Fidelius Charm because i got confused about Bill being the secret keeper of the Shell Cottage. i was thinking why wouldn't Lily and James have been the secret keeper of their own house if Bill could. there the secret could have been safe with them, the owner; no worries for betrayers.

Posted by Aisha from Richmond, Virginia on October 7, 2007 6:17 PM

dobby was able to get inside the fidelious charms boundaries because house elves are able to apparate where other people cant, like hogwarts and the cave where the fake horcrux was.

Posted by rob from japan,oakland on October 8, 2007 1:10 PM

Rob: OK, if the Fidelius charm had been previously cast, that's a possible explanation as to how Dobby found Shell Cottage the first time? But then how did Harry find it the second time? Dobby was along for the ride on that apparition, he didn't have time to tell Harry anything before the apparated, and was when they arrived...

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on October 8, 2007 1:11 PM

I'm inclined to think that Lily must've casted the charm, because i think it was Lily's wand that was excellent for charm work and James' wand was more powerful and good for transfiguration. However, does it matter who could have casted the charm?

Posted by swati from India on October 8, 2007 10:52 PM

swati has a good point, so does aisha. lily's wand was better for chrams. as for aisha, i have no idea why lily and james couldn't have been the secret-keepers. i'll have to do more research on that.

Posted by tonks from midland nc on October 9, 2007 1:16 PM

Good point about Pettigrew not having told anyone (well only Voldemort) the secret because no-one knew that he was secret keeper and not Sirius. That must mean that if you knew the secret before the secret was cast, you must continue to know it afterwards. So people like Sirius who knew where the Potters lived before the charm was cast would continue to know it afterwards? So Sirius and Dumbledore and Hagrid must have known the Potters were at Godric's Hollow before the charm was cast and the fidelius charm prevented anyone else from knowing unless they were told by Pettigrew....Unless they knew the Potters were at the cottage in Godric's Hollow, but wouldn't have been able to see them inside the house unless told by Pettigrew? Confusing. Maybe Lily did cast the charm. But if the charm breaks with the of the caster, then why didn't the charm on Grimmauld place break when Dumbledore d? Unless someone else cast it? Who?

12 Grimmauld Place is slightly different because it wasn't HQ for the Order of the Phoenix until Sirius offered it to Dumbledore. Only Dumbledore and Sirius would have known initially...Dumbledore would have cast the charm with himself as secret keeper (if you can do that and don't need a third part?), and no-one else would have been able to find out unless he told them.

Also, the eaters knew the general whereabouts of 12 Grimmauld Place, they were waiting about in the vicinity when Harry, Ron and Hermione were hiding there, but they couldn't see the house. I guess this supports the idea that Harry et al may have apparated to the vicinity of shell cottage and Bill came out and invited them in...thus telling them the secret...enabling them to see Shell Cottage.

Posted by Joe from England on October 9, 2007 1:21 PM

Could you make yourself a secret-keeper? If you could, wouldn't it be safer?

Posted by stevie from PA on October 9, 2007 1:39 PM

Wouldn't all of Sirius' relatives know where #12 Grimmauld Place was? Surely wizards had birthday parties and events at each others houses. When Kreacher went to the Malfoy's when Sirius told him to get out, Bellatrix should have known where he came from. How would you put a charm of secrecy on a place that other people know of already?

stevie- making yourself secret keeper all alone would be a dangerous thing. If you were ed, what you were protecting would risk being lost or hidden forever. Maybe at a loss of wizard lore and knowledge. Not good.

Posted by Dave Porter from New Mexico, USA on October 9, 2007 8:51 PM

This is the quandary...why I think the meaning of the thing being protected comes into the equation. Yes, Sirius's relatives would have known of the existence of 12 Grimmauld Place and perhaps have visited there in the past, (not since the of his mum though) but they wouldn't know it as HQ of the Order of the Phoenix or be able to see it as such...hence the eaters hanging around in the square...and then 12 Grimmauld place also had lots of other enchantments on it to protect it.

Similarly with the Potters cottage. Lots of people would have known of the existence of the cottage before the Potters went into hiding in it but after the charm, they wouldn't have been able to see the Potters in it unless they were told the secret....but this still doesn't explain how Sirius, Dumbledore and Hagrid knew where Harry was without Wormtail telling them the secret...unless, as others have suggested, the charm broke when James and Lily d.

Perhaps we are all thinking too logically about it all...after all it is magic!

Posted by Joe from England on October 10, 2007 01:38 AM

The Potter's only went into hiding a week before they were ed - they presumably already lived in the village of Godric's Hollow and that would explain why people knew where they lived.

When the Fidelius Charm was performed the Potter's would have seemed to be always 'out' if a neighbour came around. The Order would have been able to meet with the Potter's at Headquarters (wherever that was...). If a person had been asked 'Do you know where James Potter lives?' then the words would not have been able to form in their mouth -

I don't know if their tongue would have been binded, or if they would just suddenly 'forget' for those few moments. But nobody apart from Pettigrew could reveal the address and I guess nobody in the Order got suspicious that the location had not been revealed to them immediately (and they would have thought it was Sirius's job to tell) as a week is not long - and they were at war. Or perhaps even the decision had been made that nobody would see the Potter's other than at Order Headquarters so that Voldemort couldn't use spies to find out which village the Potter's lived in.

Just to add, that although the charm d with the caster - it could not have d with immediate effect. There is a missing 24hrs between the moment Voldemort attacked the Potter's and the moment Hagrid picked up baby Harry from the rubble.

McGonagall says herself 'that last night Voldemort turned up at Godric's Hollow.' (PS uk 14) and then some 24hrs later Hagrid tells Dumbledore 'house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggle's started swarmin' around' (PS uk 16)

I don't think the Muggle's ever did 'swarm' around as of course the house is invisible still to Muggles.

However, if the charm had ended with immediate effect surely the magical residents - such as Bathilda Bagshot would have heard and seen baby Harry inthe rubble, but as she - or no other witch/wizard did it perhaps points to a delayed charm break.

Posted by Orlando from England on October 11, 2007 04:47 AM

Ok so people keep saying that people who knew about an area before the charm was cast would still know about it. True and not true at the same time. In the sense that they would know that it was in an exact spot true. Like they would know that the Potters house was such and such blocks away from the grave yard, but in the sense that they would still be able to see and enter the house would be utterly impossible. The case in my mind is Belatrix. According to your theory she should be able to see Grimauld place. But she cant. We know shes been there. Shes seen it before.

Now on this next area im not sure because but i thought when Yaxley apparates with hermione he seems bewildered so how do we know that his bewilderment is caused by the fact that hes seeing the house? maybe all he sees is darkness all around him. or he just sees the surounding houses the fact that hes dumbfouned proved nothing.

Posted by Raphael13 on October 11, 2007 7:58 PM

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