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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 8)

yes patty, your explanation makes sense! now that you talk of it, yes, i m sure it must be so!
people are celebrating and according to the book, harry must have been sighted before hagrid took him away into hiding, and therefore dumbledore would not want harry to been seen by anyone he wont trust. he's probably thinking of a plan to protect harry as well, as it take him some time to decide that he place harry with the dursleys.
so i'm sure the charm must rest with the building itself and s when the building is blown off.

Posted by parnparn from hongkong on October 17, 2007 10:37 PM

This might have been addressed about Dobby finding Shell Cottage already, but you can't forget that the book explains that elf magic is different than wizard magic. This means anyone with an elf could get through the charm, right?

Posted by Tonton from Wichita, KS on October 22, 2007 12:13 PM

i just have one question. if it's true that snape was the original secret keeper of grindelwald place, why didn't he ever give this tid bit of info to voldemort.and yeah i understand he was a double agent originally working for dumbledore the entire time.but if voldemort was as great a wizard as he thought why couldnt he break the charm,get into snapes mind and get the truth or better yet extract it from one of the ORDER OF THE PHOENIX members before he ed them.and if WORMTAIL "with his ugly self" was the secret keeper of GODRICS HOLLOW and not Sirius did the spell wear off after his , and on top of that how did hermione see the house if no one ever took her before harry.and its easy to know how harry found it...he lived their when the charm was cast. but it still doesnt make since that he showed hermione just by walking to the house and not by apparating with her.

Posted by J. Mangham from Chattanooga, Tn on October 22, 2007 7:40 PM

i think that because dobby is a house elf, it doesn't count that he can get in the fidelius charm, because like hermione and ron said, house elves magic is different and wizards always underestimated them, so maybe it is made for human use only.

also, it is entirely possible that dumbledore took the fidelius charm off godrics hollow, although this means that Voldemort could do the same.

ps. when harry thought that the charm must have "d" with lily and james, i think he was thinking metaphorically.

Posted by penny on October 24, 2007 01:18 AM

I just had a comment on the shell cottage part, you said that Dobby was able to go there so then the spell musy have been cast later. However we learn that elfs have different powers than humans. ie dobby and kreacher can apparate in and out of hogwarts when its supposed to be impossible. Maybe elfs have power to get around it.

Also that would create another flaw, since elves can do side-along, then could they bring people with them? Such as a eater command him elf to take him to a protected place?

Posted by Cordell Gary from Tucson, Az on October 26, 2007 12:18 AM

I agree with everyone who think house elves are not bound by the Fidelius charm. Loyal house elves would not betray their masters, and wizards would not want to do without their creature comforts (pun intended), so they would not include them in the charm.
When I re-read the part where Dobby has been injured and Harry tries to take him to Shell Cottage, Harry feels Dobby grasp his hand tightly as if to guide him. Without Dobby, who knows where Harry would have ended up.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on October 26, 2007 07:47 AM

Regardless as to whether Dobby was bound by the Fidelius Charm or not I doubt very much that he had any hand in Harry getting to Shell Cottage on the basis that he had a knife in his heart and was seconds from . Oh poor Dobby! Harry Disapparted to Shell Cottage on his own and it leaves a gaping hole in the power of the Fidelius Charm as he walked into Shell Cottage after the charm had been cast (presumably after he landed in the grounds though) without having the location revealed to him.

Posted by Orlando from England on October 27, 2007 2:03 PM

I think JK has mentioned before that when writing ly Hallows, this gave her a lot of trouble (as well as Dumbledore). She has recognised that she changed a few rules to suit the purposes of the books, although it is a little confusing! Funny, I was actually looking at her site today and saw that poll question... I found it a bit funny that it was written down there (almost like in stone!) yet, she had to change it!

Posted by Catherine from Belfast, Ireland on November 2, 2007 12:40 PM

Well, this is all WAY too technical for me, but I would still like to make these points:

1. After Harry and Hermione fled from Godric's Hollow, Harry 'saw' into Voldemorts thoughts. Voldemort was thinking about the night he ed James and Lily. As he came to the bit where he is aproaching their house, he thought something along the lines of:

"They were inside, they didn't yet know the Fidelius Charm had been broken"

So, maybe when Wormtail told Voldemort about the Fidelius charm, it broke because it was no longer serving any purpose, OR, Voldemort was able to brake it himself, once he knew where the house was, but no-one relised until later that the charm was gone.

2. Harry was still on the Shell Cottage property when he buried Dobby (Dobby was buried in the garden) and the Fidelius charm was cast in the meantime, so, as he was inside the Fidelius's boundries, maybe he didn't need to be told where it was by Bill. I know the spell is on the property, (like at James and Lily's), not on the house, (like at Grimauld place), because later, when they leave to go to Gringotts, the have to walk beyond the Charms protection in order to disapperate.

3. I think that only a Secret Keeper can bring someone onto a protected property through side-apparation, (Hermione taking Yaxley), but, as Dumbledore d, everyone who knows the Secret is a Secret Keeper. Therefore, when Hermione "gave him the Secret" he became a Secret Keeper, and was then able to bring more Eaters into the house.


How can we actually know that Yaxley did bring more people inside? I find it difficult to believe that Yaxley can get people in, go through Moody's charms and and basicly take-over the place so easily, and still Voldemort remained convinced that Snape couldn't do exacly the same. He could, (but for obvious reasons didn't), and Voldemort must have relised that if Yaxley got in with such apparent ease. Therefore - um - I dunno... I'm not really sure where I'm going with this... Does any one understand what I mean? Yaxley coundn't of been bringing in Eaters otherwise Voldemort would have relised that Snape was keeping the Headquarters closed on purpose, and even Snape wouldn't have been able to talk his way out of that particular accusation.

Yeah, I know, I've confused myself with that last point. Sorry.

Posted by LadyMalfoy from MalfoyManor on November 2, 2007 6:09 PM

lady malvoy what you said made perfect sence. Yaxly was trying to out-do snape at the table when DH first begans. so if yaxly could get the best of snape he would. So as you said Yaxly couldn't get into grimauld place, for if he did Voldemort would have know snape had been lying to him. cause yaxly would have made sure voldemort knew.

Posted by Pamela sue from Ark on November 4, 2007 5:17 PM

i think yaxley only knows the secret but he is not the secret keeper, only persons knowing the secret at the time of of dumbledore are the secret keeper, they can tell others but others can't tell it subsequently. however, even yaxley alone knowing it defeats the purpose of secrecy for the trio, as one one eater even single handedly be capable of enough destruction.

Posted by swati from India on November 4, 2007 8:47 PM

I think that is a rather excellent point. If Yaxley did indeed take other Eaters into Grimmauld Place by side-along Apparition then Snape would have been done for. It also begs the question that if Hermione believed that she had revealed the secret by the side-along Apparition WHY had no Eater - or even Voldemort himself had ever just linked arms with Snape and said 'Go on then - secret headquarters'

Holes, flaws, questions... such fun to debate!

Posted by Orlando from England on November 5, 2007 04:31 AM

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