If Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald has told us anything, it’s just how expansive Rowling’s Wizarding World truly is. There is so much more to it than meets the eye, both good and bad, light and dark, and many unanswered questions. Particularly regarding a character who is prevalent in both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises. We are, of course, referring to Albus Dumbledore.
Not much is known about Dumbledore, a very mysterious character by nature. We know he was incredibly close to Grindelwald in his younger years, closer than brothers, as he puts it. We know his brother Aberforth didn’t want much to do with him, and we know that their sister, Ariana, died when she was quite young. Her death was a tragic accident, and happened long before the 1920s, when Fantastic Beasts is set. So, we’ve never heard terribly much about her. But there’s one fan theory that connects her to the franchise more than any other, a theory that states she herself was an Obscurial. But is it possible?
To answer that, we must first look into Ariana’s past. When she was only 6 years old, Ariana was attacked by three muggle boys, who saw her practicing magic. The attack was brutal, leaving her too traumatized to properly practice magic again. In fact, after the attack, she began having fits of sorts, and during these highly emotional times, she was unable to control her magic. The fits were incredibly dangerous and destructive, there was no telling what she was capable of. That does sound a little familiar, doesn’t it?
In Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, we meet Credence Barebone, our first encounter with an Obscurial. Credence is beaten regularly by his adoptive mother, his magical abilities and emotions both repressed. Credence, for much of his life, was alone and unloved, the perfect breeding ground for an Obscurus. Newt describes the premise in the first Fantastic Beasts.
“Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. So instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus.”– Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
An Obscurus, a dark parasitical magical force, often occurs when a child lacks a sense of belonging, feels unloved, and/or is abused. All of which applies to Credence. But a witch/wizard can also become an Obscurial if a deep enough sense of shame, guilt, or terror is associated with magic, which unquestionably happened after Ariana was attacked. And what happened shortly after is sure to have shaped her, as well.
Her father went after the muggle boys, attacking them, an illegal act. And when the Ministry asked him why he did it, he refused to answer, as it would have led to Ariana being sent to live the rest of her life in St. Mungos. Their father spent the rest of his life in Azkaban prison, leaving Albus, as the oldest of the siblings, to assume more responsibility for Ariana. But as the years went on, he grew closer and closer to Grindelwald. The two were planning a new world order. Albus was working alongside Grindelwald to expose the magical to the non-magical community, and rule. But when Aberforth, Albus and Ariana’s brother, confronted the two wizards, a three-way duel broke out, one that Ariana pleaded to end. Her emotions ran high and she lost control of her magic, unable to end the duel. It was then that a stray killing curse struck her.
No one knows whose killing curse it was. Some theorize it was Grindelwald’s, thinking that it was purposeful and that it made Albus realize the evil man he truly was. Others think it was Albus’ curse, a particularly painful theory, but one that also makes sense. What we do know for certain is that was the event that forever divided Grindelwald and Dumbledore.
Now, Ariana was 14 at the time of her death, older than most Obscurials, who don’t often survive past the age of 10. But as we’ve seen with Credence, it isn’t impossible for an Obscurial to live longer, depending on their strength. And it’s impossible to deny the similarities between Credence’s powers and Ariana’s description. Their upbringing and environments combined with their lack of magical control could be a coincidence, but Rowling has never been one for coincidences. Ariana being an Obscurial would also explain Grindelwald’s fascination with Credence. From the beginning of Fantastic Beasts, he was searching for an Obscurial. Was it perhaps simply something he just read about, as Voldemort later would do with Horcruxes? Or was it something he witnessed? Did he see the power of an Obscurial, and realizing the extent of it, decided to go after it to further his cause? None can say for sure, but we’d say it’s a safe bet. It would also mean that the Dumbledore family has seen 2 Obscurials, thanks to the revelation regarding Credence’s true identity. But only time will tell.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald Is In Theaters Now.