Chapter 3 of Half-Blood Prince makes it very clear that The Order doesn't quite knows how the enchantments on Grimmauld Place work:

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.

This problem is resolved by testing if Harry owns Kreacher ("if you have indeed inherited the house, you have also inherited [...] Kreacher". But why does this resolve anything to do with the enchantments? At best, the Kreacher test only proves that in the eyes of the magic that binds Kreacher, Harry owns the house. This says nothing about the magic that's on the house itself. Furthermore, we already know that the magic that binds Kreacher isn't foolproof, as pointed out by Sirius' confusion regarding Kreacher not following Tonks' orders and on top of that, Deathy Hallows repeatedly shows elf magic breaking wizarding magic's rules. So why should we believe that Harry's ownership of Kreacher is the solution to this problem?

  • 2
    do you mean aside from the fact that one would assume that Dumbledore, generally, knows what he's talking about?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 23:55
  • @NKCampbell The conversation appears to be prefaced on the idea that they don't know exactly how these enchantments work.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 23:56
  • ... unless the Kreacher thing worked ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 0:17
  • I would guess it was because Kreacher came along with the Black family inheritance--house-elves were considered to come with the house. Again, this is just a guess.
    – user103390
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 3:14

2 Answers 2


My understanding was that they were confident in the enchantments, if the house ownership had passed to Harry. There was a possibility that there was an enchantment in place that would mean Bellatrix inherited ownership, described slightly earlier in the chapter:

‘Black family tradition decreed that the house was handed down the direct line, to the next male with the name of Black. Sirius was the very last of the line as his younger brother, Regulus, predeceased him and both were childless. While his will makes it perfectly plain that he wants you to have the house, it is nevertheless possible that some spell or enchantment has been set upon the place to ensure that it cannot be owned by anyone other than a pure-blood.’

‘And if such an enchantment exists, then the ownership of the house is most likely to pass to the eldest of Sirius’s living relatives, which would mean his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange.’

If Bellatrix owned the house, it wasn't certain if ownership would trump the protective enchantments.

As Kreacher was inherited along with the house, demonstrating that Harry was Kreacher's new master also settled the ownership question.

  • This seems to dodge the question. Yes, according to the elf magic that binds Kreacher, Harry inherits Kreacher if said magic agrees that Harry has inherited the house. However, my question is based on the premise that there is no obvious reason to believe that the enchantments that are on the house follow the same interpretation as the magic that binds Kreacher.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 15:42
  • If Harry owns the house, the enchantments aren't challenged and persist. If he doesn't, the magic involved in ownership might outweigh/overcome the protections- they're no longer certain.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 15:59
  • @Michael That's correct. The only reason to even be concerned that the enchantments were endangered by Bellatrix inheriting the house...is if Bellatrix actually inherited the house. If she didn't, she's essentially a stranger. It would be like being worried that some random muggle in Argentina suddenly could overcome the enchantments randomly. There's no plausible nexus for concern.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 14:31

The concern isn't that the protections will recognize Bellatrix as the rightful owner - the concern is that ownership will give Bellatrix a backdoor that skips the protections.

Imagine your uncle buys a castle, and with it comes a massive keyring with keys to all the doors of the castle. Your uncle changes all the exterior locks he can find, and keeps the new keys separate. But there's a rumor that there's a secret passage under the castle, which can be opened by one of the keys on the keyring. Your uncle never identified all the keys on the keyring, so this is possible, but you have no way of verifying.

Your uncle dies, and the keyring is passed down to your worst enemy. Is it safe to live in the castle? They don't have access to the normal entrances, because your uncle changed the locks. But if the secret passage exists and your enemy finds it, they have free passage into your castle.

On the other hand, if the keyring passed to you instead, then it doesn't matter if the secret passage exists, because if it does only you can unlock it.

That is what the Kreacher test was for. It verified that Harry owned the keyring, so any theoretical secret passages through the protections were irrelevant.

  • But why assume that the magic that binds Kreacher follows the same rules as this hypothetical backdoor?
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 23:38
  • @J.Mini Because the Black house has no incentive to put any protections on the house ownership that don't also include Kreacher. Kreacher is bound to the house and the house's owners. To separate the two the Black family would have to create two separate magical concepts of house ownership, one which is protected and one which is not. They would only do this if A) it was easier than just keeping everything together, or B) they specifically wanted to exclude Kreacher from the protections. B is unlikely, and while we don't know enough about the magic to judge A, presumably Dumbledore did. Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 1:40
  • But I see no reason why we should assume that the magic that binds Kreacher has the same definition of who owns the house as the enchantments on the house.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 21:11

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