Chapter Twenty-One: You Can Be Your Own Secret-Keeper?

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Note: Several people have reviewed and said that in most circumstances a rat could take a cat. I really don't feel a rat that is as often mistaken for dead as Scabbers could. Granted, he could transform if his life were really in danger, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione hardly knew that, did they?

The idea for this chapter came from iheartmwpp and emodragon. Thanks for the inspiration.

Harry stood once he finished burying Dobby and went to go find Bill.

He was sitting in the living room with the others and Harry arrived in time to hear him say, "We're lucky Ginny's on holiday. If she'd been at Hogwarts they could have taken her before we reached her. Now we know she's safe too." He looked around and saw Harry standing there. "I've been getting them all out of the Burrow. Moved them to Muriel's. The Death Eaters know Ron's with you now, they're bound to target the family –don't apologize," he added at the sight of Harry's expression. "It was always a matter of time, Dad's been saying so for months. We're the biggest blood traitor family there is."

"How are they protected?" asked Harry anxiously.

"Fidelius Charm. Dad's Secret-Keeper. And we've done it on this cottage too; I'm Secret-Keeper here. None of us can go to work, but that's hardly the most important thing now-"

"Wait, what?" Harry interrupted. "You're the Secret-Keeper?"

"Yes, is that a problem?" Bill asked, mildly confused.

"I thought you couldn't be your own Secret-Keeper," Harry said slowly, trying to keep the anger out of his voice.

"That would be 'ighly impractical," Fleur responded. "After all, oo better to entrust with ze safety of yourself and your family than yourself?"

"Does anyone hear know how to contact Remus?" Harry demanded. "Because I need to see him as soon as possible."

Bill nodded. "Yeah, I know how to reach him. I'll see if he can come."

Once he'd left, Hermione turned her attention to him. "What's going on? I thought you needed to see Griphook and Ollivander?"

"Oh, I do," Harry agreed. "And that's very important but I honestly don't think I can focus on any of that until I get this confrontation out of the way."

"Another confrontation, mate?" Ron asked skeptically. "Are you sure that's the best idea? You haven't even seen him since the last one."

"I don't know if it's the best idea, but since my parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, and now even Wormtail are dead, he really is the only one I can ask," Harry said firmly.

"Ask what?" Ron asked.

"Why nobody told me you can be your own Secret-Keeper!" Harry burst out.

"I don't think you ever talked about it with any of them, did you?" Hermione asked reasonably. "What's the big deal, anyway? We've really only used the Fidelius as far as Sirius's house went and if he had been the Secret-Keeper, the security would have been blown a full year before it did."

"Alright, he's here," Bill announced, showing a befuddled and slightly apprehensive Remus into the room.

"Harry," Remus said diplomatically.

"Remus, I, er, really should apologize for what I said before. It really wasn't appropriate and I just-" Harry stammered out, feeling it was best to get that out of the way quickly.

"Don't apologize, Harry," Remus cut in. "As setting someone straight goes, it may have lacked finesse and been a bit crueler than strictly necessary, but I needed to hear it. I'm sure your father and Sirius would have said the same."

"I'm glad we can put that behind us because I just got some very disturbing information," Harry informed the last of the Marauders.

Remus looked concerned. "What kind of information? Or can you not say?"

Harry shook his head. "Oh, no, I can. You already know this, I'm sure."

"I'm afraid you'll have to be a bit more specific, Harry," Remus replied.

Harry took a deep breath. "You can be your own Secret-Keeper!" he declared dramatically.

"Well, not exactly," Remus corrected. "I mean, it's doable but not practical if you ever wanted to share the Secret. You could be the Secret-Keeper of your own residence, yes. Why is this so disturbing?"

"My parents were betrayed by their Secret-Keeper," Harry announced.

"We know, Harry," Ron and Hermione chorused.

"That was very unfortunate," Remus said, looking down. "And trust me, not a day goes by that I don't wish I had realized that they switched Secret-Keepers so Sirius wouldn't have had to languish away in Azkaban once he went after Wormtail seemingly unprovoked or possibly convinced them not to change their minds."

"Why did they need to use somebody else as a Secret-Keeper anyway?" Harry demanded.

"You-Know-Who was kind of after them," Ron answered helpfully. "Or you, really, but you shouldn't blame yourself; you were one."

"I'm not blaming myself," Harry insisted.

"This week," Hermione muttered.

"You think they should have gone with Dumbledore?" Remus asked. "His character was beyond reproach, but then, so was Sirius's. And we did have faith in Wormtail, even though hindsight has proven that foolish. Since his death would have meant we were all in a lot of trouble – as it does now – he really should have been chosen but Lily said something about how some old woman they lived next to mentioned he used to be friends with Grindelwald…They didn't believe it, of course, but it reminded them that there was a lot they didn't know about Dumbledore and not much they didn't know about Sirius and so they wanted to put their faith in him and, in turn, his recommendation."

"I see," Harry said quietly. He had been wondering why they would put their best friend in danger by having him be the only way to find them when Dumbledore wouldn't have been in any more danger than he already was and he supposed that made about as much sense as anything. "But that wasn't what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?" Remus asked.

"Why did my parents have to have anyone from the outside serve as their Secret-Keeper when one of them could have very easily done it and since it was their lives – and mine – at stake there was no chance that they would ever give up that information?" Harry challenged.

"I-" Remus stopped. "That's actually a very good question, Harry."

"Did that even come up?" Harry wanted to know. "Because apparently both Bill and Mr. Weasley are serving as the Secret-Keepers on their places and no one is acting as if it is very odd. I would have thought from the fact that Dumbledore was Grimmauld Place's Secret-Keeper but was almost never there would indicate that the Secret-Keeper couldn't stay at the place being protected for too long or the charm would weaken but that clearly isn't the case since Bill seems to be living here and from what I can tell Mr. Weasley is with the rest of his family."

"I wasn't privy to all of the discussions that James and Lily, and Sirius, I guess, held about who should be the Secret-Keeper," Remus defended. "I'm not sure if they thought about it and dismissed it for some reason but since it really does seem to be the most secure method, I doubt that was the case. Since they died sixteen years ago, we have advanced as a society. Maybe people didn't realize it was possible then and thought as you did that you couldn't be your own Secret-Keeper."

"But you don't know," Harry said disdainfully, clearly under the impression that Remus should.

"The Fidelius Charm, for all that it seems to be standard issue these days, is a very complex and obscure piece of magic. I had no reason to have even heard of it before your parents decided to use it," Remus explained. "And when they said they needed a Secret-Keeper, it sounded like they would need an outside party to be that. Granted, I heard nothing that explicitly stated that they couldn't serve as their own Secret-Keepers but in their rush to cast the Charm and get hidden they were looking more for whom to entrust everything to and less in finding a loophole."

"But they should have!" Harry objected. "Then maybe they wouldn't have died and Sirius wouldn't have had his life destroyed and Wormtail wouldn't have been in any position to bring back Vol- You-Know-Who," he quickly amended, remembering that they had just gotten out of Malfoy Manor after he'd thoughtlessly triggered the Taboo and what escaping had cost them.

"Maybe he wouldn't have vanished, either," Hermione said gently. "And while outright taking over probably wouldn't have taken place with Dumbledore around, would you really want the last sixteen years to be just like our sixth year?"

"No," Harry admitted. "But surely in sixteen years SOMEONE could have hit him with an Avada Kedavra."

"It wouldn't have killed him," Ron pointed out.

"It was fairly effective as a means of making him go away for a decade and a half," Harry countered. "And who knows? If Dumbledore had more time, he might have been able to prevent You-Know-Who from coming back at all."

"Wouldn't Wormtail still be around to bring him back?" Ron wondered.

"If no one knew he was a traitor and he wasn't desperate, would he go back to You-Know-Who?" Harry shot back.

"Point," Ron conceded.

"I suppose that's another thing you can't tell me about?" Remus asked wryly.

"Kind of," Hermione said with a wince. "Sorry."

"Although considering that this is Dumbledore we're talking about and he didn't have to waste third year worrying about Sirius and fourth year Wormtail wasn't helping him, who knows what he could have accomplished," Ron said loyally.

"That's all well and good," Remus said, "but the fact of the matter is that Lily and James did not end up using themselves as a Secret-Keeper and they did tragically decide to go with Wormtail and he did decide to betray them. They weren't betrayed immediately, so I suppose they did mean something to him after all but in the end they are dead, you are alive, and we've got a war to fight."

"You're right," Harry sighed. "But I swear to God, next time I see any of these people, they have a lot to answer for."

Note: Dumbledore's possible friendship with Grindelwald was hardly common knowledge, true, but if Lily could send a letter about it to Sirius, why not tell Remus? They might not have been sure that they could trust him, but gossip like that wasn't exactly considered classified, now was it?

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