Dumbledore performed the Fidelius charm on the Potters, so he knew who the Secret-Keeper was1. That implies he knew not Sirius but Wormtail betrayed the Potters. Why didn't he prevent Sirius's conviction and suspect the explosion killing twelve Muggles was caused by Wormtail (and that Sirius cornered Wormtail instead of the other way around)?

1: Though in this thread it is said Dumbledore didn't know. I find it hard to believe the person casting the Fidelius charm doesn't know who the Secret-Keeper is.

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    Sirius was convicted of having killed the Muggles and Wormtail, I don't think it had anything (legally) to do with the Fidelius Charm being broken or who the actual secret keeper was.
    – Möoz
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 1:01
  • 2
    It wasn't Dumbledore who performed the Fidelius charm. Most probably it was James Potter.
    – vap78
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:12
  • @vap78 I always assumed that the one who performs the charm becomes the default secret keeper, thus it was Wormtail himself who cast the charm. Although that may warrant a question on its' own. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:33
  • @vap78 IIRC it is actually stated Dumbledore casted the charm and it is suggested it is so difficult to cast only few people can, making Dumbledore a likely suspect. Will try to find a quote later today.
    – 11684
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:36
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    @11684 Bill Weasley and Arthur Weasley also did use Fidelius on their own houses. So it is not THAT complicated.
    – vap78
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:51

4 Answers 4


Dumbledore didn't see Sirius as innocent at the time of the incident:

(Dumbledore) 'A street full of eye-witnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew. I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters’ Secret Keeper. Sirius didn't act like an innocent man.’

(Hermione) ‘But you believe us.’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Dumbledore quietly. ‘But I have no power to make other men see the truth, or to overrule the Minister for Magic ...’

Prisoner of Azkaban - page 287 - Bloomsbury - Hermione's Secret

Also see Why didn't Dumbledore insist that Sirius Black be questioned under Veritaserum?

So, mainly, Dumbledore didn't believe in Sirius's innocence until the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. Further, he did not have the power, ostensibly, to override legal decisions made by the Minister for Magic or the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (that said, we've seen Dumbledore step around Fudge more than once. For example, when he creates the Portkey in front of Fudge, which is against regulations.).

  • Thanks, this says definitively that Dumbledore didn't know. Any information on how this could be, while he cast the charm?
    – 11684
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 12:54
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    @11684 - Dumbledore didn't know until the events of Prisoner of Azkaban that Sirius had traded his position as Secret Keeper with Peter Pettigrew. The Fidelius Charm is super complex -- I've asked a few questions on it here and have yet to get a thorough, canon-based answer. Personally I think the idea of the person casting/sealing the Fidelius Charm not knowing who the Secret Keeper is is a huge discrepancy. But there is no canon explanation for this issue yet. Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 13:06
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    I don't remember reading anywhere that Dumbledore cast the Fidelius Charm. Quote? Also, here is a real comprehensive analysis of the Fidelius Charm: beyondhogwarts.com/harry-potter/articles/…
    – Treborcram
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 14:16
  • I agree with Treborcram. Chapter 10 of Prisoner specifically does not say who it was that eventually cast the Fidelius charm. It could have been James.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 17:57
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    I think it is said that Dumbledore offered to be the secret keeper, it did not specifically say he cast it. In fact as far as I remember, it's never mentioned who actually cast the Fidelius Charm for the Potters. It can be assumed that the secret keeper casts it, which in this case would be Pettigrew.
    – user13267
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 11:18

I think this question is founded on an incorrect premise. I don't believe it is anywhere stated that Dumbledore performed the Fidelius Charm. What is stated in Chapter Ten of Prisoner of Azkaban* is:

Dumbledore told them that their best chance was the Fidelius Charm."

I remember him offering to be the Potters' Secret-Keeper himself.

It seems that Dumbledore advised the Potters to use the Fidelius Charm and offered to be the Secret-Keeper, and they accepted his advice but turned down his offer.

Later in Chapter Nineteen Sirius says:

"I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as Secret-Keeper instead of me....

Presumably Dumbledore was simply never told about the switch. Indeed, Dumbledore explicitly states in Chapter Twenty-One that he gave evidence that Sirius had been the Secret-Keeper, which he surely would not have done had he known that Sirius had not been the Secret-Keeper:

I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters' Secret-Keeper."

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    Then there's another plot hole - Dumbledore knew how to get to the fideliused house, but needed to be told by the secret-keeper where it was. So surely he would have known who it was, unless Sirius and Wormtail have the same writing. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 20:47

As far as I'm aware, Barty Crouch Sr. sent Sirius to Azkaban without a trial.

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    Fair point, but I find it hard to believe Dumbledore would not have been able to help him at all.
    – 11684
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:32
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    See the quote from Dumbledore in the accepted answer "I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters’ Secret Keeper.". It may not have been a formal trial, but evidence was presented, and Dumbledore was among those who believed Sirius to be guilty.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:49

Personally, the only real and reliable evidence is the evidence that Dumbledore gave and even that could be wrong. Sure, i mean there was a finger left where Peter was but does that necessary mean it was his. The street was blown apart just before Peter disappeared so the finger could of belonged to a muggle. Also, the eye-witnesses. I mean there was lots of witnesses that believed they saw Sirius kill Peter, but there is a big different in witnesses that know about magic and that it exist and muggle witnesses. Would they uses muggles witnesses at death eater trials? For all we know one of the eye witnesses may of saw Peter turn into a rat but immediately got rid of that idea because for them people can't turn into a rat. For me it's that fact that Dumbledore was one of the greatest wizards but he didn't even think for a minute that Sirius was not guilty. He saw Sirius from when he was 11 all the way into an adult and he must of saw the bond that he and James had so what what in his mind made him believe that Sirius suddenly changed? I think Dumbledore expected the Potter's to tell him if they changed the secret keeper but surely a genius like him must know that the less people you tell that you swapped secret keeper the safer the protection. "Sirius didn't look like an innocent man." Who would? You just found out one of your friends who you lest expected to betray you and your friends and of course you aren't going to take it well. Not to mention that Sirius probably felt like he deserved it as he thought it was his fault the potter's were dead because he suggested they changed secret keeper.

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. It's very hard to understand what your answer to the question is. Buried in the middle you kind of skim over a possible answer ("[Dumbledore] didn't even think for a minute that Sirius was not guilty") but you don't explain it, nor explicitly identify it as the answer to the question. Please answer the question that was asked; if it raises new questions for you, you're much better off asking them.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 17:17

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