Grimmauld Place's location was revealed to Yaxley when he held onto Hermione, while she was apparating there. This indicates that the Secret is vulnerable for the length of time it is being accessed by the Secret Keeper.

As we Disapparated, Yaxley caught hold of me and I couldn’t get rid of him, he was too strong, and he was still holding on when we arrived at Grimmauld Place, and then – well, I think he must have seen the door, and thought we were stopping there, so he slackened his grip and I managed to sake him off and I brought us here instead

-Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I take this to mean that when the Secret Keeper touches the wall of Grimmauld Place from the outside or even gazes at it from the outside(outside the area that is protected by the Fidelius), Grimmauld Place becomes visible for that brief duration of time.

NOTE: This vulnerability applies only to the Secret Keeper, and not to a person who has simply been told the secret.

The best way for a Secret Keeper to enter would be to apparate directly inside, which has its drawbacks as demonstrated by Hermione.

Bill Weasley was the Secret Keeper for Shell Cottage. Would it not be dangerous since he was actually living there? Every time Bill went out and entered Shell Cottage, he was risking the Fidelius. James, not being his own Secret Keeper was a practical choice, even if it backfired. Why did Bill risk it?

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    How can we be sure that Bill was the one that needed to go out and not Fleur? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 13:47
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    Your first sentence isn't, as far as I know, ever confirmed to be true, it's just speculated on by the Trio in the books. They move from Grimmauld Place just to be safe. Your second paragraph is a logical leap that is definitely incorrect, though; there are a few times mentioned in Deathly Hallows where one of the Trio misjudged their Apparition, and part of them was seen by the Death Eaters, yet that didn't reveal the secret to them. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 13:54
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    @AnthonyGrist -My first sentence is logical since Yaxley is said to have looked directly at the door to Grimmauld Place, and JKR hasn't refuted that, as far as I'm aware. On my 2nd para...can you cite one such instance where the trio landed near the doorstep, and were seen by deatheaters?...sources?
    – Simpleton
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 14:05
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    I meant in your question...comments can disappear at any time.
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 14:35
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    @Simpleton He saw the door. Does that mean he knows the secret? If he left, could he go back whenever he wanted? We don't know. To be safe the Trio assume that the answer to both questions is yes, but that doesn't mean it's definitely the case. I'm not aware of JKR addressing the question either way (doesn't mean she hasn't, just that I'm not aware of it). I'll have to get quotes from the book later when I have access to a copy. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


You Put Your Secret Keeper In A Dangerous Position

Yes, the 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.

This implies that the Secret Keeper is also the only one who can pass on the information by accident, as Hermione did in the cited example. Thus, it could be reasonable to make an outsider who does not get in and out of the place that often the Secret Keeper.

BUT. As the precedent of Peter Pettigrew has demonstrated, this solution has its own issues. You have to blindly trust the Secret Keeper, and that is best achieved if it is against her/his own personal interest to reveal the secret.

In this instance, you could argue that Bill could blindly trust his dad, and vice-versa, and that the optimal solution may have been to be each other's Secret Keeper. However, as clearly stated in the Pottermore page linked above:

Generally speaking, being a Secret Keeper is a dangerous position to occupy. It is such a serious and binding enchantment that few would undertake it lightly. In spite of the fact that the secret can only be given up voluntarily, many have been subjected to the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses in an effort to make them share their information.

Now, probably this is the answer. Personally, I would never put my father/son (or another loved one) in jeopardy by making him (or her) the Secret Keeper and thus a target to whoever wants to find out where I live. It's a personal choice, and, apparently, Bill and Arthur Weasley made it the same way as I would do it, to minimize the threat to their loved ones.

Of course, the fact that it's always the husband reflects in some way a patriarchal family structure, but hey, it's the 1990s!

  • An answer after a long time! Thank you for taking the effort! However, I can point to a flaw in the reasoning of the answer: If the Death Eaters don't know who the Secret Keeper is (which would usually be the case), they would torture anyone and everyone whom they would suspect, just to be sure whether they would be capable of giving away the secret. Eg. If Bill goes into hiding, and the Death Eaters suspect that he is under a Fidelius, they would still torture his entire family to check whether any one of them were capable of giving away the secret. They would be targets either way.
    – Simpleton
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:17
  • Basically, what I mean is that being a Secret Keeper doesn't make you any more or less a target, if you're already family to the hidden person. +1!
    – Simpleton
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:21
  • @Simpleton It all depends on the family's defense strategy. First of all, to torture the entire family you have to first get to them. Bill states "None of us can go to work", they are in a lockdown situation. Second, torturers can usually tell when their victim is able to give them information or not. Plus, as I understand it, the Fidelius Charm protects the information about the place, not the fact that you are the Secret Keeper, which consequently could be revealed by some solid work of Legilimens.
    – erised
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 3:01
  • @Simpleton Imagine this situation. Bill decides to be his own Secret Keeper. Both he and Fleur quit work. She stays at home. He tries to get out only if really necessary. Death Eaters catch him, torture him to know the hiding place hoping to find a lead to Harry Potter, carry on sensing that he could be the Secret Keeper. However, Bill exerts total self-control and therefore is finally killed by the torturers. Fleur then can take precautionary steps (go to another hiding place) when she senses something's off.
    – erised
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 3:11
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    @Simpleton you can never protect 100% yourself and your family, but if you are your own Secret Keeper then at least you a) trust yourself, b) control how much you expose yourself, c) know it will be you and not a loved one who will be tortured to death. Of course, they should not get in and out of the hiding place. You should be the only one. The optimal insurance would be a cross-Fidelius, i.e. having a second hiding place but this time with the other person being the Secret Keeper. If Fleur was wrong and Bill returns to an empty house, he knows she is in the second hiding place.
    – erised
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 3:20

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