Chapter 3 of Half-Blood Prince makes it very clear that, because she now probably owns it, The Order is concerned that Bellatrix can go to Grimmauld Place:

We do not know whether the enchantments we ourselves have placed upon it, for example, making it Unplottable, will hold now that ownership has passed from Sirius’s hands. It might be that Bellatrix will arrive on the doorstep at any moment.

However, we know from the previous book that Grimmauld Place is under the Fidelius Charm and I know of nothing indicating that said charm cares about who owns whatever it's attached to. After all, the Fidelius Charm doesn't protect things, it protects secrets. So, why is there any concern that Bellatrix might now be able to subvert this?

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    They weren't sure what scope the Black family enchantments over the years had. Maybe there was some old magic that would supercede the fidelius charm? Nov 7, 2020 at 20:34
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    There are a lot of unstated semantics involved, so it matters very much if the location of her personal property can be considered a "secret" to Bellatrix, whether or not the charm previously affected her.
    – chepner
    Nov 18, 2020 at 20:17
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    She knows where it is. Somebody puts a spell that prevents her from finding it (despite Bellatrix knowing exactly where it is), making the place Unplottable. That somebody dies. The spell ends after their death (remember Lily Potter's "lily petal into fish and back" spell which stopped working after her death! That's how Horace Slughorn knew she died.). Or maybe the ownership of the object in question supersedes Fidelius charm. It makes sense that you can't hide the object from it's rightful owner, secrets or no secrets. Or maybe it was combination of the two reasons.
    – jo1storm
    Nov 18, 2020 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


Does the Fidelius charm actually factor in here much?

Remember the Exact Words of the secret:

The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.

So it's not that the Death Eaters don't know the location of the house per se (in fact, they do have placed observers right outside!) - they are "just" prevented from knowing that the Order is in there and cannot intentionally search the house for them.

But what if Bellatrix tries to visit the house without second thoughts about finding the Order (especially now that she has a reason to)? That does not violate the secret in any way. She may have been able to do so all along as far as the Fidelius is concerned. But would have instead been prevented from finding the Order by the second line of defense in form of the other protective charms.

Before Sirius' death, the Order seemed to trust these charms. However, at least some of them are apparently less well-researched than the Fidelius charm (for which the consequences of the death of the secret-keeper are known). On the other hand, it's not too far-fetched that some are somehow tied to the ownership of the things they protect. We know that "ownership affecting the effectiveness of some magic" is a thing from the Elder Wand, for example. The Order members probably know more instances of this and this is why they are worried about their protection becoming ineffective against the new owner of the house, Fidelius or not (which they expect to hold, for the moment at least, - they fear Bellatrix on the doorstep, not any other random Death Eater).

  • I'm unconvinced. It's clear from the chapter that contains the bit that you've quoted that Harry could not see the house until he had read the secret. From that, we can easily infer that the secret covers the existence of the house as well as the fact that it's The Order's headquarters. In other words, it's clear that the exact words don't tell us everything.
    – J. Mini
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:07
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    @J.Mini Harry could not see the house, but wizarding world structures around London appear to be hidden by default if you do not know where they are. Bellatrix would have known of the existence of 12 Grimmauld Place merely by virtue of being a Black. We don't have any indication that the Fidelius Charm can make anyone forget knowledge they previously possessed.
    – tbrookside
    Nov 19, 2020 at 14:46
  • @tbrookside It's unclear.
    – J. Mini
    Nov 19, 2020 at 15:10
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    I think that I'm forced to accept this, but in confusion. I've recently discovered that Chapter 12 of Deathly Hallows tells us that the house has been hidden to muggle eyes for a very long time, implying that Fidelius wasn't responsible for hiding it. Despite this, the house becomes visible to Harry once he learns the Fidelius-protected secret, implying that Fidelius was responsible. I think I'll ask a new question.
    – J. Mini
    Dec 2, 2020 at 18:01
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    New question
    – J. Mini
    Dec 2, 2020 at 18:37

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