Podcast Question of the Week: Episode 223

Is one of the most mysterious charms in the wizarding world necessary?

Why is Harry brought into the Fidelius Charm and given the information regarding Grimmauld Place? Wouldn’t it be safer for Harry not to be given the explicit information if he were captured or questioned?

Leave us a comment with your answer below, and we’ll read some of them in our next recap episode!

  • DoraNympha

    Well, he’s not the secret keeper so he can’t reveal the location to anyone. They don’t really tell him anything specific about the Order’s tasks either. He’d be pretty useless if someone were to capture him in order to know more about the Order. Besides, the kid was willing to take a Cruciatus Curse rather than say anything to Umbridge. To paraphrase Dumbledore, I’m not worried about these secrets because they are with Harry.

    • travellinginabluebox

      Agreed. He is only Secret Keeper when Dumbledore dies, like everyone else. But they do not use Grimauld Place then anyways. Also let’s be real, the Order is not super efficient anyways, but I never thought the Death Eaters were either, so I suppose that works out.

    • Arthur Dent

      The way I understand it, Harry wouldn’t have been able to get into 12 Grimmauld Place if he hadn’t been brought into the Fidelius Charm, except if Dumbledore himself had taken him there — but that way he would also have been brought in on the secret by the Keeper.

      Yaxley only got in when he did because the Trio were Secret Keepers by then.

  • DoraNympha

    Also, had a follow-up question: if Harry’s captured or questioned, he’d rather endure whatever he had to before he betrays his people. However, the real risk is when Voldemort gets into his mind. Question is, would Voldemort be able to get inside Grimmauld Place if he breaks into Harry’s mind or memories and sees the piece of parchment with the address on it through Harry’s eyes? In that case, there’s an unprecedented danger to which the headquarters is vulnerable.

    • Arthur Dent

      I don’t think it would work this way. The secret can only be given by the Keeper directly, so even if Voldemort could access the memory of the parchment, it would still by Harry’s memory. He’d have to get hold of the parchment itself.

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        The secret can also only be given *voluntarily*. Intent seems to matter in magic (at least, in more powerful spells), so I doubt Voldemort accidentally spying on Harry’s memory would count.

        • Arthur Dent

          Agreed. Also, since Harry isn’t Keeper at that point, he couldn’t give away the secret even if he wanted to. I imagine if he put his memory of reading the parchment into the Pensieve, anyone who wasn’t in on the secret would only see an empty page.

  • ousley

    The concept of the Secret Keeper was intense and dramatic in Book 3.

    It lost all impact and power when the concept of the Unreakable Vow was introduced.

    The Potters should have requested an unbreakable vow instead of a secret keeper. That way, if the person deviates, they die instead of the Potters.

    • ousley

      Like seriously there’s no better way to say “I really won’t F’in tell Voldy where you are” than pledging your life to it.

      The Secret Keeper is just a half assed “lol yeah i got you bro I swear.”

      • Arthur Dent

        There is a difference. Using the Fidelius Charm eliminated the possibility that Voldemort could find out the Potters’ whereabouts by any means or from anyone other than the Secret Keeper, which the Unbreakable Vow wouldn’t have done.

        It would have been useful, though, to make the Secret Keeper give the Unbreakable Vow not to tell Voldemort.

        • ousley

          Yeah I guess that’s my problem with it – there was no “backup plan” if someone snitched.

          This is why we all have trust issues lol.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            I guess that is meant to be James’ whole thing though, isn’t it? That to ask one of his friends to make the Unbreakable Vow would be akin to distrusting them, which, as Lupin tells us, he would consider the “height of dishonor”. It’s a bit stupid really, considering the lives of his family were on the line, but the guy clearly had some ego issues.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    So according to Pottermore, the hidden information being kept by a Secret Keeper can’t be forced out of them, either by torture or magic. So I think Harry having that information is really a non-issue. He isn’t the Secret Keeper for one thing, so couldn’t give up the information anyway, and if Harry did get captured by Death Eaters, I think the Order would have bigger issues to worry about than their hideout being revealed. That can be changed- just cast the Fidelius on someplace else. As to why they don’t just use side-along apparation to bring Harry inside, I don’t think they could have unless it was Dumbledore himself doing it. Yaxley was only able to get in with the trio because at that point, they were all Secret Keepers themselves. And we know how intent Dumbledore is on avoiding Harry at this point. Plus, it is probably good that Harry knows the exact location so that he can get there on his own if necessary. If one of the Order’s priorities is keeping Harry safe, it seems logical to grant him as much access to places of refuge as possible. We see this come to fruition when the Trio retreats back to Grimmauld Place in DH.

    What I think is really weird about the Fidelius Charm is that we only see it used on a location in order to hide the people inside. But that is just one application and it could potentially be put to wider use. Pottermore refers to it as “the concealment of information inside a living person”, so doesn’t that mean that the information could be anything, not just addresses? So why don’t we see the Fidelius used to conceal important information like “Harry is looking for Horcruxes” or “Harry can see into Voldemort’s mind”. Or to even, I dunno, hide the fact that Trelawney made a prophecy about Voldemort? Snape wouldn’t have been able to tell Voldemort anything about it, even though he heard part of it himself. Are there limits to how abstract the “information” can be? Because if not, then I’d say they are really underusing this charm. Though hopefully it goes without saying that this enters a slippery slope of the charm being too easy of an option, narratively speaking. The Fidelius really enters gray area when Bill ends up being his own Secret Keeper, because then it is really stupid that no one else does.


    • Arthur Dent

      Maybe it’s a “putting the toothpaste back in the tube” situation, in that once the information has been learned by someone else, casting the Fidelius Charm afterwards doesn’t remove the knowledge from the outsider’s consciousness.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Hmm… but then wouldn’t that mean that there would be people outside of the Order who could see Grimmauld Place? Surely there were other people that knew where a prominent wizarding family lived, before the Fidelius was cast. Like Bellatrix, I’d expect her to have known where her cousin’s home was. So unless Sirius’ family kept it a secret from Muggles and wizards alike, than it seems like the charm would have to essentially erase that information from other people’s minds. Otherwise, that’s a pretty glaring weakness of the Fidelius.

        • Arthur Dent

          Narcissa, Bellatrix, and other Black relatives and acquaintances obviously knew the house existed, but nobody outside the Order knew that they’d make it their base of operations before the Fidelius Charm was cast. The Death Eaters may have deduced that it’s the Order’s headquarters afterwards — especially once Kreacher turned up at Narcissa’s during Christmas break –, but they weren’t told that fact by Dumbledore, so they couldn’t get in or even see the house.

  • Not A Muggle

    On the topic of Hermione wincing at the mention of Voldemort’s name, with Hermione being so well researched and well read, she would have read accounts of the first War, and people’s mentions on the tracking charms thing when the name was mentioned.
    And speaking of Percy, and him shutting the door in Molly’s face, Percy being always shunned by his family, and them being so accepting of Harry, and then taking Harry’s side against the ministry’s, could there be an element of jealousy ?

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    I think the main reason they gave him the information has to do with the nature of the Fidelius Charm itself. As I understand it, in order to enter into the “secret” in any way — in this case, for Harry to literally enter the house — one must be given the protected information by the Secret Keeper. In this instance, the protected information was not just the location of the Black home at 12 Grimmauld Place; it was the fact that Grimmauld Place was being used as the Order’s headquarters. So he had to be told that it was headquarters in order to simply enter the premises.

    Also, there’s the more practical matter that, once he was living there, he was bound to start asking questions about why closed gatherings of prominent wizards, including Snape, were routinely being held down the kitchens. Plus, I think Sirius would have insisted on letting Harry in on this (as we see in the next chapter, he’s an advocate of giving Harry as much information as possible). He had presumably recently written a will (or was contemplating it) in which he bequeathed the home to Harry, so I think it meant something to him that Harry have a sense of ownership in the house and what went on there. Given that Sirius is the “patron” who is lending the home to the Order to use, I think Dumbledore at least owes him the courtesy of letting him tell Harry about it.