Why Lily’s Wand had to be Good for Charms

by Nadezhda

I was listening, yet again, to episode 26 of MuggleCast when something occured to me. The hosts were discussing Peter Pettigrew and his role as a Secret-Keeper. Let’s first refresh our memories with what was said then:

ANDREW. Now, why did Dumbledore let him become Secret-Keeper? I mean, in a way, you think, “Okay well, it’s because he’s always hanging around them,” but, around James, but could that be the full reason why?ERIC. Is it…is it in my memory that, uhhh, maybe, ummm…is it just in my head that maybe Dumbledore thought that it might have been Pettigrew that was sneaking information to the Potters and he still let them make him Secret-Keeper anyway?

LAURA. I don’t think he had anyone specific in mind. I know Dumbledore offered to be the Potters’ Secret-Keeper.

ERIC. Yeah, I know that, too, but see what happened was, ummm…

LAURA. I think they knew that one of their friends was betraying them.

ERIC. Yeah, and so I think, even though Dumbledore has always been characterized as, you know, valuing choice and all this other stuff. Even though he sat by as they made Peter the Secret-Keeper, I think he probably should have objected to it.

LAURA. What could he do though? Because, I mean, the Potters were adults. He couldn’t tell them what to do.

ERIC. I’m just saying, I really, honestly don’t know why it wasn’t Dumbledore anyway because that would have been the absolute…


MICAH. Didn’t they talk about Sirius being it, too? But they thought that was too obvious.

LAURA. Yeah, they wanted to use Sirius originally.

ERIC. Yeah.

LAURA. But I think it was actually Sirius who suggested Pettigrew.

ERIC. Yeah, it was.

LAURA. Because he, he basically said in Prisoner of Azkaban, “I as good as killed them.”

ERIC. Yeah, because he joked, which is what I said. He joked about choosing Peter and then lo and behold Peter was the upper hand…or had the upper hand.

(Emphasis mine.)

Something struck me while Andrew said, “Why did Dumbledore let him become Secret-Keeper?” And immediately I thought — did he really? Did Dumbledore even sit by and watch as Eric said?

* * * * *
One thing we notice in OotP (when the wizarding world is at war again) is that Dumbledore is very busy. He plots the Order’s moves, he recruits new people, and he tries to think about Voldemort’s next plans and how he could thart him. This time around Dumbledore is on even footing with Voldemort; he was notified (thanks to Harry’s survival) about Voldemort’s rebirth immediately and had time to reorganize the Order. But back in the first wizarding war, the Order was trying very hard to keep the pace with Voldemort. He was years ahead of them, years when he was quietly recruiting his Death Eaters, bribing the Giants and werewolves to join him. He quietly amassed his army of “creatures whom all fear,” and then he struck upon the wizarding world. Dumbledore was at the time probably doing his best to gather a small group of dedicated wizards who would be willing and brave enough to confront Voldemort and his faithful servants. At that time Dumbledore (what with his being headmaster of Hogwarts and the strategist of the Order) couldn’t afford to lose an hour and he most certainly did not have enough time to take care of people’s personal matters.

But upon hearing the prophecy and upon receiving news by someone (could it possibly be Snape again?) that Voldemort decided to track down the Potters he got involved in their matters suggesting they hide as completely as possible — by using the Fidelius Charm. In PoA it is Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher who explains what the Fidelius Charm is. Just in case you have forgotten how the Fidelius Charm works, it is:

an immensely complex spell involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find — unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it. (PoA, page 222, Bloomsbury paperback edition)

Now, this is a very direct reference — we have a Fidelius Charm, the charms teacher explaining what the charm does, and a witch, Lily, whose wand was very suitable forcharm work. Let’s go back to PS/SS for a short visit at Mr. Ollivander’s shop:

You have your mother’s eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work. (PS/SS, page 93, Bloomsbury paperback edition)

It is my belief that all this points to the fact that Lily performed the Fidelius Charm by which she made Peter Pettigrew the Secret-Keeper. Many people seem convinced that it was Dumbledore who performed the charm, but I can say that it was not so. Were Dumbledore present at the time when the charm was placed, he would have known about the switch from Sirius to Peter. Dumbledore clearly does not have that knowledge and he explains so at the end of PoA, after he talked to Sirus, who was kept a captive and was waiting to for the Dementor’s Kiss:

There is not a shred of proof to support Black’s story, except your word – and the word of two thirteen-year-old wizards will not convince anybody. A street full of eye-witnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew. I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potter’s Secret-Keeper.(PoA, page 422, Bloomsbury paperback edition)

Dumbledore had no reason to lie. He would not gain anything by it. I think that if he had known about the switch and the Potters’ finally making Peter the Secret-Keeper, he would have given a different statement for the Ministry. Lying while under oath is not something Dumbledore would do; perhaps he might omit the truth, but he would not lie straight out.

Obviously Lily and James were planning on using Sirius, prior to the warning that the charm needs to be placed very quickly, as Voldemort is getting closer all the time. At the last moment, however, as Sirius informs Harry in the Shrieking Shack, “I as good as killed them. I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as Secret-Keeper instead of me… I’m to blame, I know it…” (Emphasis, again, is mine.) Dumbledore is not mentioned. Dumbledore probably asked the Potters who they were planning on using as a Secret-Keeper so that the person who was used could inform Dumbledore of the hiding place – so that the person could share the secret with Dumbledore. Perhaps Dumbledore was also afraid that the Secret-Keeper will betray the Potters (his fear was justified), leading to his offer to be the Secret Keeper himself. The Potters told Dumbledore that they wanted to make Sirius their Secret-Keeper. At the last moment, however, and unbeknownst to any of the people who were not present when the charm was placed, they changed their mind.

As the above statement by Dumbledore shows, he was convinced that the Potters had used Sirius in the end, when they hadn’t. This excludes the possiblity of Dumbledore’s being present at the placing of the Fidelius Charm. Whether Sirius was present at the time when the Fidelius Charm was placed (and Peter thus made a Secret-Keeper) is irrelevant. Peter was used, and no one apart from the Potters, Sirius and Peter knew about the switch. This means that one of them had to place the Fidelius Charm; I believe that it was Lily who did so.

Even though I think we could take it as pretty much given that Lily placed the Fidelius Charm (her wand helped her to place this immensely complex charm, and it should also be noted that Lily was an extremly able witch), many questions remain. Was Dumbledore informed about their hiding place, other than the fact that it was in Godric’s Hollow? How could Dumbledore point out the place from which Hagrid was to rescue baby Harry? Since Dumbledore would have known that Pettigrew was Secret-Keeper if Pettigrew himself had told Dumbledore (and no one else could have), how could he have found the house in Godric’s Hollow?

How could Hagrid have found that house in Godric’s Hollow, if the Fidelius Charm had protected it? And, if the charm had been lifted, who did, and how did he or she do it?

Only Book 7 will tell.