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The Fidelius Charm: Other Uses

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrSarcasm, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Order Member

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    We all know about the Fidelius Charm. It can be used to hide houses and locations from view. A number of fanfic authors have asked the question of how come James Potter couldn't be the Secret-Keeper, as a sort of "duh, stupid" remark on the magic. (Though I'd argue he wasn't because he couldn't be: that a Secret-Keeper has to avoid the location of the Secret, or else the magic doesn't work. Short visits are fine, as seen by Dumbledore and Grimmauld Place, but you can't live there.)

    However, here's the actual description from the books:
    Note that the description of the charm does not mention that the secret of a location is hidden inside a soul. Just a secret. A fact.

    So that got me wondering: what else could the Fidelius Charm be used for? Could Voldemort have used it to hide knowledge of how he used to be Tom Riddle? Have there been certain magical secrets, such as how to make certain objects or cast some spells, that have been lost to time? Is making a location Unplottable related to the charm, or separate?

    Has anyone come across stories that play with this concept, or discussions about it?
     
  2. Silirt

    Silirt Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    Prince of Slytherin
     
  3. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Quite.
    No.
    First off, I like to de-power the Fidelius.

    As per the definition, it hides a secret. I take that literally: Something that is secret, i.e. not publicly known. So you can't hide a fact. Of course, this isn't binary, but then the charm also needn't be binary: If Lily and James had annouced in the Daily Prophet they lived in the cottage and then used the Fidelius, it would have achieved very little. If they moved there in secret, and cast the charm right afterwards, it would have been an immensely strong protection. Also, given that, if the secret keeper told more and more people, the protection would weaken, since it'd become less and less of a secret. In principle, if you told the whole world after casting the charm, the magic would be gone.

    Edit: Also, I want to make the case that it can't erase knowledge. I know that's how it's usually done in FF, but there is nothing in Canon demanding this: It makes a lot of sense that as Flitwick says, you can't find that information in any way, implying you don't know and are looking for it, and conversely, those that do know (but aren't the secret-keeper) can't share it; but that if you knew the secret before the charm was cast, you still will know afterwards.

    And I like the idea that it's based on trust, i.e. you can't become your own secret-keeper, because the magic is fuelled in part by the act of placing your life (reputation/secret of success/...) in someone else's hands.

    All this makes it a spell that's very powerful, but also quite limited. Using those mechanics, I'm on board with Voldemort hiding his origin with it, except that he trusts no one, so he wouldn't use it.

    Regarding historical use, it depends in part on what happens with the secret if the secret-keeper dies. I dislike "everyone who knows the secret becomes the secret-keeper", but if you propose that everyone who knows the secret, dies, then sure, it will be lost to time. However, note the obvious similarity: There is no difference between someone making a discovery and keeping it secret, and doing that and adding a Fidelius. The concept is the same because that's what the charm is founded on, and presumably, most lost discoveries are lost without any magic at all.

    And I dunno that unplottability works the same. It seems useful mostly to hide things from Muggles, if what Sirius says in OotP is true.
     
  4. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    I should have come across this thread earlier: I wrote my thoughts up in the personal headcanon thread wrt the Fidelius. Maybe that aligns with what you might want to discuss?
     
  5. JuniorAL

    JuniorAL Second Year

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    I don't think it can erase knowledge, it merely hides a secret location.

    Voldemort could have hidden his Horcruxes with it but chose not to.

    Perhaps you can only keep one secret at any given time.
     
  6. aAlouda

    aAlouda Seventh Year

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    He'd have to trust the secret that he created Horxruxes to at least person at the time, basically for all eternity. I doubt that was ever an acceptable risk for him.
     
  7. JuniorAL

    JuniorAL Second Year

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    Other uses that I can think of is that you could use it to hide a secret basement in your house. Your house and it's public areas would be accessible to anybody but the Secret Basement would only be known to you.
     
  8. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I'm completely in agreement with Sesc on this, I prefer when the strength/success of the protection is derived from how well known the secret is when the spell is cast.

    I'd also say that using it on anything other than a physical location is...pretty boring. When you take it to the level that Prince of Slytherin takes it it becomes ridiculously OP and it basically a "how to win at life" spell.
     
  9. aAlouda

    aAlouda Seventh Year

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    I mean Voldemmort in Prince of Slytherin kinda cheated by
    turning his Horcrux into the secret keeper, thereby forgoing the need to trust another person
    .

    In most situation you can create real conflict based on how much the secret keeper is trusted.
     
  10. haphnepls

    haphnepls Second Year

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    Note that in Deadly Hallows Bill was able to divulge to Ron and Harry that Arthur was secret keeper of Muriel's house and that they are hiding there.

    It is so, because Bill was aware of it before the charm was actually cast and secret became concealed in the living soul.

    The location isn't concealed from the view but rather a secret. Flitwick said, "not even if he had his nose pressed against their sitting room window!" The existance of property is quite poor secret, but the inhabitants of it, if they arrived in secret and recently, known to only a couple of people, are not the widespread knowledge and therefore it makes for a good secret.

    Bathilda was able to visit Potters - she probably knew they were there, and was friendly with them.

    Edit: I just noticed the title and realised I haven't answered it. It is a charm with singular use - hiding a secret. If it is ineed a secret, the charm will help with keeping it so, and if it is widely known, it would do very little. I suppose you could be creative about the definition of secret, but that's all there is to this charm.
     
  11. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Dark Lord

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    When Dumbledore died, everyone who knew the secret of Grimmauld Place was able to let others in.

    So I'd tend to view it as a forced secret, and probably limited to actually secret information. You couldn't cast a fidelius on what day comes after Wednesday, because that's common knowledge. You could cast a fidelius to hide your location.

    But I also like my magic to be a bit whimsical, and feel more than just foolish wand-waving.

    So it's the act of imparting the secret that gives it power. If it's something you tell someone without care, then it's not going to be much use. But if you tell your closest friend a secret that is protecting your life, something that will literally kill you if it leaks, then the spell is much more powerful - Voldemort can be looking right at you, but not see you.

    I've previously put some thoughts on the fidelius in this thread here, which a few others did too.
     
  12. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Second Year

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    JKR's writing from 2015:

    "The Fidelius Charm is extremely ancient and still used to this day. It involves the concealment of information inside a living person. The chosen person, or Secret Keeper, is the only person who is thenceforth capable of revealing the protected information to others, however many previously knew it. If the Secret Keeper shares the hidden information, the person to whom he or she has confided it will be bound by the Fidelius Charm and find it impossible to pass the information on."

    As for fanfics that put good spins on it, there's Not by Force by the divine comedian, which makes Sirius secret keeper and Pettigrew still the traitor. It's a short dystopian fic where Sirius is captured and tortured for the information, which he can't give 'by force', so they have to figure out other ways of getting the information from him.

    The Renascentia series has Grimmauld Place as the headquarters of the Order, although plenty of members of the Black family can still both see and visit it because the building itself and its status as ancestral home is not under the fidelius. It has Regulus and Andromeda Black wandering around the house unable to see the Order members who are also there.
     
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