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The Secret Keeper is the witch or wizard designated to hide a secret by means of the Fidelius Charm; the secret is embedded in their very soul. Once a Secret Keeper is selected, the person who told them the secret will find themselves unable to pass the information on again, as the Secret Keeper is the only one capable of revealing the secret, whether orally or written.[1] The Secret Keeper can tell as many people as they like, but they must do so voluntarily and the secret cannot be blackmailed, bewitched or tortured out of them.

Being a Secret Keeper is a very dangerous position to be in; although it is impossible to bewitch or torture the information out of the Secret Keeper, many have in the past been subjected to the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses in attempts to find the secret.[1] It is such a serious and binding enchantment that few would undertake it lightly.

If a Secret Keeper dies, all the people already aware of the secret information become Secret Keepers.[2] This would unfortunately dilute the effect greatly; should all the people who knew of the secret die, then the secret would die with them.

Known Secret Keepers

Wizard(s) Notes
Peter Pettigrew Originally meant to be the Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter, Sirius Black thought Voldemort was on to him (he thought that Remus Lupin was a spy), therefore passing on the Secret Keeper to Peter Pettigrew. Albus Dumbledore originally offered to be the Potters' Secret Keeper, but the couple refused on trust of their friends. Pettigrew was then the new Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter after they went into hiding during the First Wizarding War with their infant son Harry, keeping their whereabouts in Godric's Hollow a secret. However, Pettigrew was secretly a traitor to the Order of the Phoenix. He informed Lord Voldemort of the Potters' location, resulting in the murders of James and Lily and Voldemort's first defeat when the Killing Curse rebounded from Harry. Sirius Black was later believed to have murdered Pettigrew and twelve bystanding Muggles in front of more than fifty eyewitnesses, when really Pettigrew had killed them himself and went into his Animagus form to flee the scene, leaving behind his severed index finger. Caught at the scene of the crime, Black was thus blamed for the betrayal of the Potters (not knowing that Pettigrew had really been the betrayer) and imprisoned in Azkaban for it without a trial. He escaped twelve years later using what was believed to be a trick Voldemort taught him that made Black and his insanity unaffected by the Dementors' depressing aura, when really Black had maintained his sanity due to the knowledge of his innocence since incarceration (a non-happy thought that the Dementors could not take) and went into his Animagus form to slip through his cell door while the Dementors were bringing in his food, swimming across the North Sea after seeing a picture of Pettigrew still in his animal disguise of "Scabbers", the pet rat of Harry's best friend at Hogwarts Ron Weasley, on a copy of the Daily Prophet given to him by then-Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge.[3]
Albus Dumbledore The Secret Keeper for 12 Grimmauld Place, the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, until he died in 1997,[4] thus making all the members of the Order, along with the trio the succeeding Secret Keepers. This forced the Order to abandon it, as they erroneously believed Severus Snape to be a traitor and he knew the location. Later, the trio returned to the house (accepting the risk of a visit from Snape) until they infiltrated the Ministry of Magic, where afterward Yaxley grabbed Hermione as the trio Apparated to 12 Grimmauld Place to escape. They then considered the location permanently compromised.

[2]

Order members
Trio
Bill Weasley (Shell Cottage) In 1997 and 1998, the Order of the Phoenix used many safe houses, including Aunt Mueriel's House and Shell Cottage, all of which were under the Fidelius Charm and maintained by various Secret Keepers.[2]
Arthur Weasley (Aunt Mueriel's House)

Behind the scenes

  • If the Secret Keeper divulges their secret, those he or she informs are also bound by the Fidelius Charm and therefore cannot tell anyone else.[1][4] Despite this, Ronald Weasley was able to tell Dobby the house-elf where Shell Cottage was, despite the fact that it was under the Fidelius Charm, with William Weasley as Secret Keeper.[2] It is possible that Ron himself was also a Secret Keeper, or that house-elves have ways around such ancient charms that are, after all, not without their flaws, and that he was not bound by the charm since it was his master's bidding for him to go there. Also, the Fidelius Charm could have been cast after the trio and Dobby arrived, since Bill states that he had to place Shell Cottage under the charm after Dobby's funeral.
  • Rowling once stated that, should the Secret Keeper die, anyone who knew the secret would be permanently unable to pass it on[5]. Obviously, this is no longer the case.
  • It is not clear how Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, or the numerous visitors paying their respects in the years following the murder of James and Lilly Potter were able to see the Potter cottage as the secret keeper, Peter Pettigrew was alive at the time.

Appearances

Notes and references