Books · Film

Fantastic Beasts: The Harry Potter Prequel We Needed

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows left too many loose ends on Dumbledore’s life, because we were only told what Harry needed to know at the time. In one measly, fantastic information dump chapter.

  • Why did Dumbledore place so much faith in the power of love?
  • Why did Dumbledore wait so long to face Grindelwald? “Maybe he knew who killed Ariana” didn’t sound like the whole story.
  • What was wrong with Ariana?
  • How could Dumbledore have been swayed by the “greater good” argument of Grindelwald’s? Intelligent, kind, standing-for-the-defenseless Dumbledore? Never!

At least a part of the mystery was solved during J. K. Rowling’s Carnegie Hall interview where she revealed Albus Dumbledore is gay! Contrary to the internet opinion of Rowling wanting to milk the Potter craze even more, I think it’s the only explanation that makes perfect sense and makes Dumbledore’s tale of woe perfectly poignant. The man who so ardently believed in the power of love being greater than all other magic was the one who was forced to duel and defeat the only man he ever loved. That’s why he bought into the ridiculous “greater good” propaganda!

Dumbledore couldn’t face Grindelwald because the boy that he had once loved had become this monster who wanted to take over the world with the philosophies that they had perfected together, with the powers that he could gain from the Hallows that they had wanted to hunt together and the last crucial ingredient: Ariana.

I think there’s also more to Ariana’s story than was revealed in Deathly Hallows. A fight broke out during Kendra’s funeral between Aberforth and the other two, Albus and Gellert, over Ariana. The two wanted to take Ariana with them. I believed Dumbledore’s explanation to Harry that she was his responsibility, but what if there was more to it than that?

And this is where Newt Scamander comes in.

Dumbledore is Merlin. He’s a kingmaker. He trained Harry to fight and defeat Voldemort. What if he had had that experience before? And what if Fantastic Beasts has some more answers? [Spoiler: Of course it does!]

The little village of Godric’s Hollow has been home to many great magical families in its time. Why, rumour has it that the ancient Peverells, masters of the Deathly Hallows, lie buried in its church’s graveyard. More recent of its powerful families are the Dumbledores, neighbours to acclaimed historian Bathilda Bagshot. Percival and Kendra Dumbledore have three children: Albus, Aberforth and Ariana.

Albus was a prodigy, Aberforth was disgruntled, probably a consequence of living under his brilliant brother’s shadow, and Ariana was bright. All three promised to be powerful wielders of magic. Their world, and bright futures, took a dark and unexpected turn when six-year-old Ariana was attacked by muggle boys who caught her performing magic. Something broke in the child, and she was never again able to master her magical abilities. Furious, her father hunted down the boys and punished them, earning himself a lifelong cell in Azkaban. Her mother, Kendra, became her permanent cartetaker while Albus and Aberforth went off to become trained wizards at Hogwarts.

Life went on. As expected, Albus shone in every task he undertook, his brilliance unparalleled for generations gone by or to come. While his brother was the centre of attention, however reluctantly, Aberforth slunk further into the shadows, preferring to keep to himself and his animals. He had a special way with them. They seemed to understand him, just as Ariana did. They responded more to emotion than to words.

Aberforth was often worried about Ariana. Everyone knew that she behaved the best around him. He knew how to calm her, keep her happy, like a skittish unicorn. They could spend hours on end together, and his talented mother Kendra some time to herself and her study. She had long ago given up using her magical ability to its fullest potential since she had to care for Ariana full-time. Every summer Aberforth begged to stay home and not return to Hogwarts. Neither brother nor mother understood his pleas. Of course Hogwarts was better! Hogwarts was heavenly! Why on earth would he want to stay home with his Obscurial sister?

Because that’s what she had become, Ariana. Traumatized into internalizing her magic, she exploded when emotionally provoked. It was especially important to keep this information hidden from prying neighbours like Bathilda because if the Ministry caught so much as a whiff of the “dangerous creature”, they would haul her off to the Department of Mysteries to study her in the name of protection.

In her vast knowledge, Kendra didn’t know of another Obscurial who had lived beyond ten. Ariana was fourteen, and harder to control. When the boys were at Hogwarts, she had a particularly bad episode resulting in Kendra’s death. The Dumbledore boys rushed back to care for Ariana and hold a quiet funeral for Kendra, the only other attendee there being their long-time neighbour, Bathilda Bagshot. After the funeral, Albus remained as adamant as Kendra had been about Aberforth completing his education while he himself would put his world travels aside to settle down as Ariana’s guardian.

“Albus!” called Bathilda.

“Yes, Mrs. Bagshot?” smiled Albus politely as he tossed aside a book that was yet another magical classic whose teachings he had surpassed many years ago.

“My nephew Gellert is visiting. Would you like to meet him? You boys will have much in common and I do need to make this deadline. I’m writing a book. It’s called A History of Magic.” She ended with flourish.

“I look forward to it, Mrs. Bagshot,” sighed Albus. At least some company would be better than none at all.

When Albus and Aberforth met the handsome, smart and mischievous Gellert, Aberforth disliked him immediately and Albus didn’t know how he felt. That was odd. Albus was always self-assured. Over the next few days or perhaps weeks, Albus and Gellert spent an extraordinary amount of time together, even forgetting their families. They spent many a day debating life, arcane magic, the state of the world and how they would run it differently. Albus had never before met a wizard who could match his every step and had never before been so attracted to another mind. Gellert drew him in and entranced him.

They shared their deepest secrets. What had really happened at Durmstrang and how Albus felt about Ariana. Even the sacred secret: who she was, though of course Gellert had guessed. He wasn’t a fool!

“We should take her with us, she could be a powerful weapon! Let’s run our own experiments on her!”

As soon as Gellert had said it, he knew that he had said it wrong. Albus withdrew as he usually did from the people around him, the ones who couldn’t match his intellect.

“My sister isn’t a weapon. And we most certainly cannot experiment on her,” he said coldly before he stalked away, his blue eyes fiery. Gellert kicked himself for being an idiot and knew the matter would have to be handled delicately to bring Albus back. Albus, not for the first time, had misgivings about his new friend.

But of course Gellert could cajole Albus back. He always did. Though this wall lasted longer than any other had, Albus eventually thawed, unable to put up a permanent resistance against the golden-haired boy with the smiling face. Years later, that inability would haunt him.

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When they explained their plans the next time Aberforth was in town, Albus was shocked at the intensity of his brother’s disdain for Gellert and himself. He shouted at them for being cowards, for dragging off an innocent girl on their “world conquest” and many more terrible things. Gellert was furious. Albus was humbled. Before he knew it the matter had escalated into a duel between Gellert and Aberforth with Ariana getting worked up at her favourite brother coming to harm. Albus was ashamed that he hesitated. How could he choose between the people that he loved? But he retained his ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Had Gellert forgotten or had he never had it?

Aberforth was no match for Gellert. Albus stepped in. Though Gellert was powerful and talented, Albus had the edge. He felt the thrill of matching his wits against his friend as they had done so many times in the days past. It was Ariana’s screaming that brought him back to reality. This wasn’t a game and Gellert wasn’t playing.

The scuffle was too much for Ariana. She exploded and Gellert fled. Aberforth, stricken with grief and betrayed by his own brother, refused to speak to him for years. When Albus rescued him from penury by getting his a job at Hogsmeade, Aberforth had merely grunted as his way of thanks and continued to maintain a civil, if strained, correspondence with his brother until his death. Then he had had to help out another pesky boy dazzled with his brother’s greatness.

Albus for his part, returned to Hogwarts, shaken by how a lust for power had managed to ensnare even him, a man who thought himself above ordinary mortal follies. His saving grace had been love. His brother’s love for his sister, his love for his family… A feeling that he wasn’t sure Gellert felt, but he was too afraid to find out.

As a teacher, Albus found his true calling. Sharing his knowledge with the young, unformed and often bright minds. Many didn’t have his brilliance, but surpassed him in wisdom. He began to realize how short-sighted his arrogance had been. Forcing order for the greater good? How childish and dangerous the notion was!

Then the whispers started. Of a man who had become more than a man. He had stolen a powerful wand, some said the most powerful. He was taking over, quietly and swiftly. Dumbledore felt ice creep through his heart. And he did nothing. Though his instincts screamed, he had no proof, and no conviction to chase after an old… friend.

The whispers grew into rumours. The rumours turned into news. Proof mounted, letters poured in and yet, Dumbledore found himself incapable, unwilling to move. He couldn’t do it. He needed someone else. A boy of a pure heart, sensitive, kind, one who would know how to deal with the mysteries that this world had to offer and how to always make the right choice because he followed his heart, not his mind. Brave, but above all else, caring.

And there was only one boy, no, man, for the job.

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Most likely Dumbledore recruited Newt like he did Harry. He found the right person for the job and gave them the tools to be successful. We know they win of course.

Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the Dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and ten-pin bowling.

But it’s still exciting to relive the glory days of Potter, and answer some lingering questions with the new trilogy!

The fantastic trailer dropped this week. Wait for the huge reveal at the end!

And another thing…

I love Newt. I love the new series. I love Fantastic Beasts even more than the Harry Potter movies.

OK, I’m lying, more than the last 5 Harry Potter movies.

Really, only Azkaban compares.

Actually, Azkaban left out everything about the Marauders, so it’s probably not as good.

So, back to: I loved Fantastic Beasts, probably more than the Harry Potters (movies, not books, never books).

Anyway, Newt is awesome and you should watch this if you’re still here. I promise it’s worth your time:

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