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. 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.
If a Secret Keeper dies, all the people already aware of the secret information become Secret Keepers. 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
- Sirius Black was originally meant to be the Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter, but Sirius 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 twelve Muggles and a wizard in front of more than fifty eyewitnesses, when really Pettigrew had killed them himself and went into his Animagus form and fled the scene with a missing finger. Sirius Black, however, caught at the scene of the crime, was blamed for the betrayal of Lily and James Potter (not knowing that Peter Pettigrew had really been the betrayer) and imprisoned in Azkaban for it without a trial.
- Albus Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper for 12 Grimmauld Place, the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, until he died in 1997, thus making all the members of the Order, along with Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger 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.
- In 1997, after Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger infiltrated the Ministry of Magic, they escaped to 12 Grimmauld Place, but Yaxley grabbed Hermione as the trio Apparated to the house, thus revealing it to him.
- In 1997 and 1998, the Order of the Phoenix used many safe houses, including the Burrow, Shell Cottage, and the Tonks house, all of which were under the Fidelius Charm and maintained by various Secret Keepers.
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. 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. 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.
- Rowling once stated that, should the Secret Keeper die, anyone who knew the secret would be permanently unable to pass it on. Obviously, this is no longer the case.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows