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Why Weren’t Lily & James Their Own Secret Keepers?


One of many unanswered questions in the Harry Potter universe is why Lily & James weren’t their own secret keepers & if that could have saved them.

The Harry Potter books and movies left a lot of plot holes and questions that fans are still waiting to be answered, among those why Lily and James Potter weren’t their own Secret Keepers. Although there are many books and movies that touch on the topic of magic and wizards, very few have been as successful as the Harry Potter franchise. It all began in 1997 with the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which introduced readers to the Wizarding World and the characters that would lead this story: Harry Potter, known as “the boy who lived”, and Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all.

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The Harry Potter book series was a big hit and quickly built a solid fanbase, allowing it to make the jump to the big screen. The Harry Potter saga was released between 2001 and 2011, with the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, being split into two movies. Although the movies were as loyal to the source material as possible, many details, characters, and events had to be left out to better fit the format, but that also made way for plot holes and unanswered questions – and in some cases, not even the books have the answer.

Related: How Harry Potter Survived The Killing Curse in The Deathly Hallows

Such is the case of the Secret Keepers and Lily and James Potter. A Secret Keeper is a witch or wizard chosen to hide a secret by means of the Fidelius Charm, a complex charm used to conceal a secret inside an individual’s soul. This made the selected person unable to pass the information on again, and the only way they could was by voluntarily telling or writing it, meaning the secret could not be blackmailed, bewitched, or tortured out of them, no matter how hard others tried. Of course, being a Secret Keeper was a dangerous position, as many were subjected to the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses in order to find the secret. Now, when Lily and James Potter were hiding from Lord Voldemort, Sirius Black was originally meant to be their Secret Keeper, but he made the huge mistake of suggesting Peter Pettigrew instead.

The reason for this was that Sirius suspected their friend Remus Lupin was a spy, which would have made him a target of Voldemort, so he suggested another person less likely to be targeted. Unfortunately, Pettigrew was the actual spy among the group, and he told the secret (which was the location of Godric’s Hollow) to Voldemort, leading to the deaths of Lily and James. Many fans have wondered why the Potters weren’t their own Secret Keepers, as this was entirely possible as seen in Deathly Hallows when Bill Weasley was the Secret Keeper for Shell Cottage and Arthur Weasley for Aunt Muriel’s home. If Lily or James were their own Secret Keepers, they would have been safer as the keeper would have lived in the protected home.

Some fans have tried to answer this by explaining the Potters might have not been familiar with the Fidelius Charm, though that doesn’t fully justify their decision. Others have theorized that there was a certain level of danger in Lily or James being their own Secret Keepers, as it was possible to accidentally bring people into the charm’s protection. A fan pointed out a couple of examples of this in the Harry Potter series and added that Lily and James would have had to leave the protected area at some point, and that would have made them easy to track. Perhaps it would have been less safe for the Potters to be their own Secret Keepers, or maybe they could have survived had they done so – ultimately, this is left to every reader and viewer to decide, as J.K. Rowling hasn’t shed light on this.

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