Right before Harry goes off to Hogwarts in Prisoner of Azkaban, Arthur pulls him aside and attempts to make him promise not to go looking for Sirius Black "whatever [he] might hear." To this point of the novel, we could believe Arthur's worries that Harry will pursue Black stem from merely from the fact that Black was allegedly a high-up Death Eater... and Harry has a propensity to dole out his own servings of vigilante justice.

However, after overhearing the conversation in the Three Broomsticks and learning that Sirius "betrayed" the Potters, Harry asks himself:

Why had nobody ever told him? Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius Fudge … why hadn’t anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry’s parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 263, paperback US Edition).

At least by strong insinuation, JKR is telling us that Mr. Weasley was, in fact, worried that Harry would find out this particular information.

So, as this information was so privileged, how did Arthur Weasley, who was not in the original Order of the Phoenix, know it?

Best I can come up with: His work at the Ministry of Magic? Could he have heard Dumbledore's testimony?

Came across a detail I had forgotten: Pettigrew yelled it out for everyone to hear... people at the Ministry would have learned this.

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    It doesn't say Mr. Weasley knew. It shows Harry assuming Mr. Weasley knew that Sirius was involved in the betrayal of the Fidelius charm and subsequently the death of his parents. By the time Harry was 13 -- the age he was at the Three Broomsticks -- the whole Potter story was beyond urban legend. Surely everybody knew that Sirius was supposed to have been involved. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:56
  • 2
    "You don't know the half of it, Rosmerta," said Fudge gruffly. "The worst he did isn't widely known" (254, paperback).
    – CCHP
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 19:59
  • I think their relationship wasn't widely known, but Sirius's actions were. So it wasn't necessarily clear that it had (supposedly) been a betrayal. I think Arthur would have heard it from OotP members who respected his family's growing bond with Harry.
    – ThruGog
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 20:04
  • 1
    The exact line is “why hadn’t anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry’s parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them”. It would be possible for Arthur to know that Sirius betrayed the Potters, but without knowing the exact details of the Fidelius charm.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 20:16
  • 1
    I'm calling Hagrid for spreading the word of Sirius' betrayal.
    – Don_Biglia
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 7:07

4 Answers 4


It does not seem to be widespread knowledge that Sirius Black was the Potter's Secret Keeper, or that they even used the Fidelius Charm to hide from Voldemort.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, Madam Rosmerta, the Three Broomstick's proprietor, is even unaware of this. Being the owner of the most popular bar in the only entirely non-muggle community in Great Britain, it would be safe to assume she has heard a lot of gossip over the years.

So who knew that Black was to be the Secret Keeper?

We know that Dumbledore knew of their plan:

"Naturally," said Professor McGonagall. "James Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding himself... and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters' Secret-Keeper himself." - Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 10: The Marauder's Map

But it does not seem anyone else in the Order of the Phoenix was aware. At the least, Hagrid was not:

Never occurred ter me what he was doin' there. I didn' know he'd bin Lily an' James's Secret-Keeper. - Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 10: The Marauder's Map

So the list of people who could have leaked this information is very small. Since Black never tried to explain that Pettigrew was the real Secret-Keeper, and the Potters dead, that leaves two people that could of leaked the information: Dumbledore and Pettigrew.

"Pettigrew died a hero's death. Eyewitnesses -- Muggles, of course, we wiped their, memories later -- told us how Pettigrew cornered Black. They say he was sobbing, 'Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?' And then he went for his wand. Well, of course, Black was quicker. Blew Pettigrew to smithereens...." - Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 10: The Marauder's Map

And of course, now we know that Pettigrew setup the entire encounter with Black. It makes perfect sense that he made sure it was well-known that Sirius was to be the Secret Keeper, and thus the traitor, before he went into hiding. So prior to the muggle's memory being wiped clean, they must of relayed what Pettigrew yelled on the street to the Ministry officials.

Finally, many times throughout the series it is shown that Arthur is privy to information that is not widely known due to his position in the Ministry.

"I know he's after me," said Harry wearily. "I heard Ron's dad telling his mum. Mr. Weasley works for the Ministry of Magic." - Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 9: Grim Defeat

  • Yes. After reading the rest of 3, it seems to be a combination of Pettigrew yelling it out for the world to hear and Dumbledore's testimony, both of which would have resulted in Ministry officials knowing the alleged truth.
    – CCHP
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 1:37
  • I'm not sure I'd expect Madam Rosmerta to be so knowledgable about this. At least, she would likely not have owned the Three Broomsticks yet during WWI (not sure if her age is mentioned anywhere explicitly, but probably rather young: Ron seems to be somewhat attracted to her in OOtP and HBP). Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 13:01
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    @leftaroundabout She did own The Three Broomsticks during WWI, or at least worked there. In the same scene, she describes “the number of times I had them in here”, referring to James and Sirius coming into the pub when sneaking out of school. So you would expect her to be as knowledgeable about gossip from that time as she is about current gossip—perhaps especially because she personally knew at least three of the four people involved. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 11:50
  • A minor, but I think important, detail: it doesn't say anywhere that Mr Weasley ever knew about the Fidelius Charm. He knew that Sirius was the traitor, but that doesn't necessarily mean knowing anything about there being a Fidelius Charm at all. The quote in the question is Harry dealing with the information that Sirius was not just an evil Death Eater, but a close friend of his parents who betrayed them—the fact that the betrayal was Fidelian is basically immaterial here: he hadn't known that there even was a betrayal until that scene. (Remember, even Malfoy nearly tells him earlier on.) Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 11:57
  1. Two of Mrs. Weasleys' brothers, Gideon and Fabien Prewett, were members of the original Order of the Phoenix alongside the Marauders and Lily. It was certainly possible that they knew, and they told Molly before they died.

Keep in mind, Sirius was pulling off a bluff. The more people knew that HE was the original Secret Keeper, the less people would go after the actual Keeper: Peter. So it was in the Order's benefit to leak that Sirius was the Secret Keeper.

  1. Alternatively, Fudge knew, and knew that Mr. Wesley was watching over Harry. He could have simply told him.
  • Another option: he watched the original trial Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 16:48
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    @DVK doesn't Sirius say that he was sent to Azkaban without a trial in book 4?
    – TZHX
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:45
  • @TZHX - I assume there was SOME sort of a hearing, but don't recall details. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:40

Mr. Weasley would not have had to known any of the specifics of Sirius's betrayal.

Let's assume he knows the following:

  • Sirius Black and James Potter were best friends.
  • Sirius Black was always presumed to be on the good side, a staunch anti-Voldemortian.
  • James and Lily were murdered by Voldemort on the very day that Sirius was discovered to be working for Voldemort.
  • Sirius is looking to kill Harry now as well.
  • Based on the above, Sirius was likely involved in some way with the Potter tragedy, even if the details are unknown.

Mr. Weasley, knowing this, puts himself in Harry's shoes and realizes that knowing the above information could easily arouse in Harry the desire to go after Sirius. Even if Harry would never know that Sirius was the secret-keeper and directly told Voldemort how to get to the Potters, there is enough here to spark Harry to action, particularly given Harry's propensity to get involved in things.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense for Mr. Weasley to try to prevent Harry from going after Sirius, even though he himself (Mr. Weasley) was unaware of the extent of Sirius's betrayal.


I dont think that it was potentially the fidelius charm that Arthur knew about. But more that potentially Sirius had sided with you know who and let slip where they were living.. The whole charm thing may not have been known at all, Sirius and close friends may have known that originally they picked Sirius, but then you would have thought that they would have known it got changed.

Its unclear how the charm works on people who maybe dont know there is a charm, but know the information.

IMHO the whole Sirius blowing up the village to get away was supposedly an act of guilt. He didnt stay to protest his innocence after all. Although, given he blew up the village and ran away.. err, how did he give Hagrid the bike to take Harry to the Dursleys? I always wondered that.

  • He went to see if Peter was in his hiding place, saw he wasn't, went to the Potter house, and THERE he met Hagrid, before chasing after Peter.
    – CCHP
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 22:58

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