Lesson 6) Can You Keep A Secret?

Welcome back my dear and wonderful students! I do hope that your midterms weren’t too tough for you? I was very pleased with the grades that I saw coming in! You all seem to be getting the hang of all of this. Today we will be bringing it all together and discussing the Fidelius Charm as the capstone of our Home Protection unit.

Now I am sure many of you are curious why we are reviewing and putting these things together after you have completed your midterm. It may seem silly, but this will be more than a review of what we have learned. We will also be discussing some of the commonly used combinations of these spells. More importantly, I love to see my students doing their own review without my help. Independent work will be crucial in your future studies, so it is important to start early.

Home Protection Summary

Our first lesson on home protection was in week two of our course. In that lesson we discussed how to protect your home from Muggles. We learned about the Muggle Repelling Charm as well as the Hidden Homes Charm. Lessons Three and Four taught us how to protect our homes from magical intruders. We learned how to cast an Anti-Apparition Jinx, Hex Deflection Charm, Caterwauling Charm, and Blocked Barrier Charm. We also learned about making a location Unplottable, though only the theory as it is far too complicated for us to cast! We learned before our midterms about the Intruder Charm and Hominem Revelio, as well as had a fascinating guest lecture from Professor Penrose regarding the ethics of home defense.

We learned a lot of magic over these last few lessons, but these spells should not be used independently of one another. Protecting your home is a multi-faceted thing that takes many spells to do effectively. The particular spells one uses will depend on their goals for home protection. My personal home was protected with an Anti-Apparition Jinx, Muggle Repelling Charm, and an Intruder Charm before I moved to Hogwarts. My parents are very nervous about intruders and have some rascally teenagers in their neighborhood, so they have the same protections as I did in addition to a Hex Deflection Charm.

Perhaps the most popular home protection charms are the Anti-Apparition Jinx and the Intruder Charm. As I am sure you have learned in History of Magic, the majority of our wizarding villages are only partially magical, so Muggle Repelling Charms are not used very often. Otherwise Muggles would be running all over the place confused about where they are going! Regardless of what magic you choose to use to protect your home, it must be practical for where you live and must not to reveal the magical world by accident in the name of keeping yourself safe.

The Fidelius Charm

We will continue today’s lesson with a discussion of a very rare and very strong piece of magic - the Fidelius Charm - as well as a preview of next lesson with a fun and simple spell. I am sure you are all aware of possibly the most famous use of the Fidelius Charm - the Potter family. The Potters used the Fidelius Charm to hide from Lord Voldemort before their untimely death. They were successfully hidden until their Secret Keeper betrayed them and told their secret. Now, the Fidelius Charm is incredibly difficult and complex so we will not be learning how to cast it today, but we will be discussing the theory of the charm.


The Fidelius Charm works by hiding a secret inside of a living person, the secret being the location of a certain home in our case. Only the living person who holds the secret, called the Secret Keeper, can reveal to others where the home is located, and only by choice. The location cannot be tortured out of them or stolen from their mind - it must be given voluntarily, either verbally or through writing on a page. Anyone told the secret then becomes a secondary Secret Keeper. They cannot reveal the secret though - only the primary Secret Keeper can do that. Should the primary Secret Keeper die, all secondary Secret Keepers become primary Secret Keepers. Should the Secret Keeper die without telling anyone the secret, then it will die with them. The spell will still be in effect, but no one will know the location of the home. Any human being can be a Secret Keeper.

A location under  the Fidelius Charm will remain hidden even from people who may have known about it before the charm was cast. Take 12 Grimmauld Place for example. It was known by the Death Eaters that Harry Potter inherited this home from his godfather when he died. They sat and watched the location, but were unable to see it because it was under the protection of the Fidelius Charm. You also cannot hear what is happening inside of a location protected by the Fidelius Charm, nor can you feel the location or plot it on a map.

This is not a practical spell to use on your home for everyday use, but it is a very interesting and unique piece of magic. People typically do not use the Fidelius Charm willy nilly on their homes for the same reason they do not make their homes Unplottable just for fun - it’s not easy, and it simply doesn’t make sense for use on a home where people will be coming and going regularly. This spell is incredibly difficult to cast. It takes a wizard the likes of Albus Dumbledore to cast it alone, or a few wizards working together to cast it properly. If not cast correctly, you will have a home that is not hidden when you believe it is, which is incredibly dangerous. Spells like this are most often used in wartime, so it is very important they be cast properly.

The Silencing Charm

A simpler spell to cast that can help you to hide is the Silencing Charm! I am sure you all know what the Silencing Charm is - if your parents are anything like mine, they may have had to use it on one or two of your toys growing up! The Silencing Charm does exactly what the name says; it temporarily silences the target object, eliminating any noise that may have been coming from it. Those of you who have taken Care of Magical Creatures may be familiar with this spell as it must be cast on Fwoopers in order to silence their dangerous cry.

Incantation: Silencio (si-LEN-see-oh)
Wand Movement: Starting at the upper right, move your wand down, left, and up in a half circle. Finish with a downward flick.
Willpower: Moderate to strong; Must overcome the will of the object making noise.
Concentration: Moderate; Focus on the sound of silence.
Category: Static.

I know the wand movement sounds very complicated, so I found this lovely diagram for you! The wand movement is meant to mimic the shape of a human mouth, with the flick sort of snapping the mouth shut. Despite the wand movement most resembling a human mouth, this spell can work on all animate and inanimate objects, not just humans. It was originally created to silence humans though! Or at least, that is the speculation. Drawings of this wand movement have been found in the journals of court magicians in France next to illustrations of prisoners holding their throats as they cannot speak. Based on these illustrations, it is believed that this spell was invented in order to keep prisoners in royal courts quiet so as not to bother the royalty with their screams. A gruesome start, unfortunately, but one must look forward with their spellcasting, never back.

Now, the willpower for this spell is also very important. You must overpower the will of the target making noise. This may seem simple, but consider this scenario. A child is crying because they have fallen and scraped their knee. They are hurt and cannot be consoled. It would take more will to silence this child than it would to silence, say, a teapot whistling. If your willpower is not strong enough, the object will simply ignore the spell and continue to make noise. Your concentration works in hand with this, as you must focus on the sound of silence. This may seem counterintuitive, but the sound of silence is a real and true thing. All of you close your eyes. Do not move, do not breathe, do not make a sound. Listen to the sound of the silence happening around you. Do you see what I mean now, about the sound of silence? It is a real thing!

The Silencing Charm has many practical applications in the magical world. It is very often used when magical people are moving amongst Muggles with their magical pets. It can also be used on magical children when out in public amongst Muggles. Unfortunately, when very young, magical children often forget themselves and will start talking about magic in front of Muggles. Most take it as simple imagination, but if one is in a place where the Muggles may be suspicious for some reason, a discrete Silencing Charm can be a lifesaver. I have a friend with a pocket watch charmed to sing a little ditty on the hour every hour. When he is in the Muggle world, he Silences his pocket watch to make sure that it will not give him away. Make sure to keep this spell in mind next week - it just may come in handy! Now that’s not to say you should be casting the Silencing Charm willy nilly on whoever you please. The ability to cast this spell comes with the responsibility of knowing how to use it. You should not be casting this spell on anyone, ever, unless you are in dire circumstances.

And with that, we end our lesson for the day! Today you will have an essay to complete regarding home protection as well as a short quiz on the Fidelius and Silencing Charms.

Image credit: Harry Potter Wiki

Charms Year Five will discuss more practical areas of spellcasting that can be used on your home. We will discuss ways of keeping your home safe as well as touch upon methods of keeping yourself safe from intruders. We will end the year discussing methods of keeping yourself hidden in the Muggle world and touch upon some more advanced spellcasting. This year of Charms aims to prepare you for your OWLs at the end of the year.
Course Prerequisites:
  • CHRM-401

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