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Thread: Fidelius Charm Questions

  1. #1
    Laurskii
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    Fidelius Charm Questions

    Okay - The Fidelius Charm is, in Canon, used to hide both the Potters and the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Presumably, there were those who knew of the location of these places previously to the Charm being cast - Bellatrix would've known 12 Grimmauld Place from her childhood, for example. What I'm wondering is if her knowledge of the place disappeared, her memories of its exact location disappeared, or if she would've known the place, at least as Grimmauld Place, even if not as the Headquarters of the Order, but could not have spoken its location. How, in your opinion does the Charm conceal a place already known by someone who should not know of its location.

    Next, would the Charm be able to conceal a person's identity? Why or why not? If so, in what manner - would the person disappear from people's memory as if they'd used a memory charm? Would those who knew the person previously be able to connect the dots? Or would there be a vague recollection of the old identity, having no connection to the new identity? Or something different?

  2. #2
    Vorona
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    How, in your opinion does the Charm conceal a place already known by someone who should not know of its location?

    I think that, with regards to 12 Grimmauld Place, that the Fidelius only affected the exact statement: that it is the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. I think they would have used other spells and charms (like whatever spell is used to make something Unplottable) to make it hard to find by other means (i.e. to someone like Bella). I think the Fidelius is used to hide certain pieces of information rather than actually making people/things/places disappear.

    Would the Charm be able to conceal a person's identity? Why or why not?
    I think it could, but again, only if other measures were taken. For example, if someone puts on a disguise (or uses Polyjuice, or is a Metamorphmagus, etc.), you could hide the information that, say "Roonil Wazlib is actually Ron Weasley". Then, people could know "Roonil Wazlib" but not know that that was actually Ron Weasley, without being informed by the Secret Keeper. But that knowledge would only work if Ron actually somehow became Roonil -- because there's nothing to say that Ron Weasley is actually Ron Weasley -- that wouldn't work. So people would have to accept Roonil as NOT Ron before the Fidelius would work.

    That's my understanding of it. Other people may have different ideas.

  3. #3
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    Hmm... I've always thought kept unwanted folks out of a location. In DH, the trio are there, and people (Death Eaters) are watching the place, right? Also, when Hermione Apparates there from the Ministry and Yaxley is holding onto her... I think she says something like "I took him inside the perimeter... I've given him the secret, haven't I?" And then Harry says, "Do you mean they can get in there now?" or something to that effect. My memory may not be perfect here, but I thought the charm merely protected a place from being penetrated by anyone outside the secret. ???

    I am now curious about this as well.
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  4. #4
    Laurskii
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    That's interesting and difficult. Now suppose that I have met Ronald Weasley, but you have not. So you meet him under the Fidelius charm as Roonil Wazlib, and know him from hereon as that. Then, I - not having been let in on the Fidelius Charm - re-meet Ron. Do I see and know him as Ronald Weasley, see and know him as Roonil Wazlib, or see him as Ron Weasley, but am unable to remember his identity?

  5. #5
    Laurskii
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    Ahh Gina - How bizarre. I thought there were some inconsistencies, but how many there were seems to be a big plot hole in the story. What's interesting is - should it have been the house where the Potters died, and not that they were hiding there, and that Wormtail had only ever told Voldemort where they were hidden, then the house ought to still be hidden, shouldn't it? At least until Wormtail's death. Or if Wormtail died, then only those whom he had told would know - so Voldemort in book 7 would perhaps be the only one to know where the Potter's home was.

    But I digress.

    Suffice to say, if I were to hide a person's identity using the Fidelius Charm, would I be able to adjust the use of it to suit my needs and still technically be in Canon?

    Also - do you think you could hide a person's true identity from even herself? Say, if I gave Ronald a memory charm, and told him he was Roonil Wazlib, then used a Fidelius Charm to hide his true identity, so that everybody knew he was Roonil Wazlib - would Ron not know about his true identity until he was told by the Secret Keeper? And going even further, would I maybe not even need a memory charm, because that which he had known about himself being Ronald Weasley would be Charmed so that he wouldn't know it? Or, if I did use a Memory Charm, would Hermione be able to break the Memory Charm, and thereby let Roonil in on the secret of the Fidelius Charm?

    Argh I'm so confused.

  6. #6
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    Laurskii: What's interesting is - should it have been the house where the Potters died, and not that they were hiding there, and that Wormtail had only ever told Voldemort where they were hidden, then the house ought to still be hidden, shouldn't it? At least until Wormtail's death. Or if Wormtail died, then only those whom he had told would know - so Voldemort in book 7 would perhaps be the only one to know where the Potter's home was.
    See, you keep digging and more shows up!
    I've always found it odd to think that the Potters were already living in Godric's Hollow and then cast a charm on that same residence long after they had been there. We know from DH they were already in Godric's Hollow by the time Harry turned one, and we know that they socialized a bit, ie they knew Bathilda Bagshot. If Voldemort was really looking for them, he couldn't have been looking very hard, could he, since he literally needed a rat to find them when they were having small getogethers for their son in one of the oldest magical towns in England.

    And then why cast the charm when they'd been there for who knows how long? Why not move somewhere else and THEN cast the charm? Wouldn't that have been even safer, since they trusted Peter and had no idea he would betray them? I think so, but that's just me.

    I absolutely believe that the charm applied to more than just the house. It applied to the Potters themselves, and the knowledge that they were hiding there. Heck, it could have applied to the knowledge that they were in Godric's Hollow at all, in which case they could have very well been invisible to everyone for that long week they were in hiding. I find that unlikely, though, and stand by what JKR wrote: Voldemort could find the house and stick his nose to the window, but not see the Potters themselves inside.

    And I firmly believe that the charm is bound by trust and faith. When Peter broke that trust, the charm failed - for everyone. Anyone could see the house; now they could see the Potters. I don't think the rebounding Killing Curse has anything to do with it. I think the moment Peter betrayed them, they were made visible to anyone else who did not know the secret. It only makes sense, especially after DH. Sirius and Hagrid might have known the secret back in 1981, but if the charm held, how did Harry and Hermione find the house in 1997? I suppose if you hold that when the Secret-Keeper dies, the others become Secret-Keepers themselves (as per Grimmauld Place), that means someone could have told them.They certainly didn't hear it from Peter. I suppose Sirius could have told them before he died, or for that matter, Dumbledore, but why? And when? Why would JKR leave that out of the narrative? Remus didn't know and we're not sure Hagrid did even though we know he was there. Therefore, I think the charm broke when Peter gave up the Secret. I'm convinced of it.

    Now, as for the identity stuff - my head is still spinning. Whoa. Might I humbly suggest creating a new spell for your purposes? Seriously - you would not have to twist these two spells into knots and still have to worry about plot holes, plus it would be very creative and fun and could specifically fit the needs of your plot and characters. I could totally see there being a spell that erases a person's existence from living memory. It might be Dark magic, it might not. It's probably very rare, very old, and very secret. But I'm pretty sure it's out there. Check the DoM.

    ~Gina

    EDIT: OMP, the thread is really messed up! My first post is before my second post, which was an answer to Laurskii's post after my first post. Er - help?

  7. #7
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    I love trying to figure out the Fidelius Charm.

    First, I have to point out that JKR was rather inconsistent when it comes to this charm. She tells us certain things in PoA when it comes to the Potters' charm, and then other things when it comes to the Order's charm. Namely, that the secret dies with the Secret-Keeper (actually, that might be in an interview.) That might have been the case in 1981, but when Dumbledore died, everyone became a Secret-Keeper, which I always thought was rather lame.
    Anyway. Here's what I've always thought about Grimmauld Place. When McGonagall is discussing the charm with Fudge, Rosmerta, and Hagrid in PoA, someone says something about how Voldemort could press his nose against the windows and not see the Potters. So the secret wasn't the location of the house, but rather that they were hiding inside. Which begs the question of why he didn't just blow up the house, or even the entire village. But I digress.
    Taking that explanation and applying it to Grimmauld Place could mean, then, that while people might be able to find the house itself, they would not be able to see the people inside who were there as members of the Order. So say Bellatrix gets inside: all the Order members are invisible to her, protected by the charm because the Secret-Keeper has not told her Grimmauld Place is Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, even if she suspects it.
    Now, that's just my interpretation. It paints a neat picture, though.

    As for identities - that's much harder, isn't it? I would guess that it would only protect *new* information. If I already know someone's identity, putting the Fidelius Charm on it won't erase it from my memory. That's what Memory Charms are for. But it will keep others from finding out. And if it's something like the example given - Ron hiding as Ronzil - then it becomes even trickier. I think Ron could play two parts, then. Someone introduces him to me as Ronzil, and I think he is Ronzil. But then if he is playing the part of Ron, I already know him as Ron. Does that make sense? I can't really wrap my mind around this one, lol!

    ~Gina

  8. #8
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    And I firmly believe that the charm is bound by trust and faith. When Peter broke that trust, the charm failed - for everyone. Anyone could see the house; now they could see the Potters.
    At the risk of this post appearing in another dimension entirely , I wanted to say that I love that idea, Gina. There are a few plotholes with the Fidelius charm, but if the 'betrayal' aspect of it is put into use, then it makes sense. Fidelius means faithful, so Dumbledore giving harry the location of Grimmauld Place does not have the same effect as Peter giving the secret to Voldy.

    To muddy the waters further, JKR said that James and Lily went into hiding when they found out she was pregnant and the prophecy could apply to them. I think the Longbottoms probably went into hiding too. But they weren't immediately protected by the Fidelius Charm, so it's probably they had many other charms in place. Grimmauld Place had other Charms, so Godric's Hollow probably did as well. We don't know when Voldy decided the Potter's were the targets. We know that Snape came to see Dumbledore and informed him that James and Lily were the targets. before then, Dumbledore may not have known what Snape had overheard. If Snape only came to see Dumbledore say, two weeks before Oct 31st 1981, then thye set the Fidelius Charm (using the traitorous rat - CURSE HIM!) and ... no plot hole.

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  9. #9
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    To muddy the waters further, JKR said that James and Lily went into hiding when they found out she was pregnant and the prophecy could apply to them.
    She did?! Oh my goodness. Right, okay, time to re-work my plot AGAIN! Seriously, JKR really didn't think this part of her history through at all well... *grumbles*

    I've always found it odd to think that the Potters were already living in Godric's Hollow and then cast a charm on that same residence long after they had been there. We know from DH they were already in Godric's Hollow by the time Harry turned one, and we know that they socialized a bit, ie they knew Bathilda Bagshot. If Voldemort was really looking for them, he couldn't have been looking very hard, could he, since he literally needed a rat to find them when they were having small getogethers for their son in one of the oldest magical towns in England.
    They were there when Harry was born; Dumbledore says in DH that Harry was 'born, as Ignotus was, in the village of Godric's Hollow', so they'd been living there for over a year before they died. This is something that is annoying me; the Potters aren't exactly acting like the darkest wizard of all time is after them and their son (by going out and socialising etc), and Voldemort isn't acting like he wants to try and find the boy who could destroy him. It's very frustrating to have to come up with reasons to explain all this!

    Back on topic, I don't think that the Fidelius Charm would be able to protect something so complicated as someone's identity; there are just far too many factors you'd have to conceal, and the fact that everyone would know who Ron was before he became Roonil would be a problem. The Fidelius Charm hiding the Potters was simple; the secret was that they were hiding in that house. The Fidelius Charm protecting 12 Grimmauld Place was also simple; it was the Headquarters of the Order. Hiding someone's identity would be too complex for that particular charm, I think.

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  10. #10
    Vorona
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    Yes, the Fidelius alone wouldn't be enough, but if Ron went away and *then* did the charm, and then disguised himself well enough that the people who knew him as Ron wouldn't recognize him . . . then I think it would work. But you definitely need the disguise, and you need to account for the "real" Ron. Eventually people are going to wonder why he didn't return, so that story would have to be taken care of.

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