Phoenixes and Family Connections

There’s no mention in the book Fantastic Beasts of phoenixes bonding with families as opposed to individuals. Even if it’s true that they have some special connection to the Dumbledore family (or perhaps one particular phoenix does), that doesn’t mean they couldn’t also appear in other places, to other people.

Phoenixes are famous for dying in a burst of flame and being reborn from the ashes, which makes them a pretty good symbol for the Dumbledore family. They apparently had a noble ancestor accompanied by a phoenix, which vanished when he died. By the time Albus Dumbledore and his siblings came along, their family was definitely in the “ashes” stage of a phoenix’s life. His father was in Azkaban, his mother was dead, his sister was unwell/probably an obscurial, his brother was coarse and ignorant, and Albus Dumbledore himself was easily manipulated by Grindelwald, who went on to be one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time. Elphias Doge’s “In Memoriam” piece in Deathly Hallows describes how, when eleven-year-old Albus Dumbledore arrived at Hogwarts, his name did him no favors; he was viewed with suspicion and distrust, not the respect and admiration he later received.

Of course, later in life – after fighting and defeating Grindelwald, not to mention making a name for himself as a great scholar and teacher – Dumbledore’s humble origins were more-or-less forgotten. Just as nobody cares, looking at an elegant red-and-gold phoenix, about the ashes it rose up from, no one cared about Dumbledore’s father who died in prison, his rather unpleasant brother, his mysterious younger sister, or his youthful association with Gellert Grindelwald.

Major Crimes of Grindelwald spoilers below!

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What Deathly Hallow Would They Choose?

In the time period when the Fantastic Beasts movies take place, Grindelwald is searching for the Deathly Hallows. He already has the wand and will never obtain the stone or cloak, so I don’t think they will play a large role in the movies, but the symbol has already appeared, and they’re bound to be mentioned at some point. I wonder if at some point the characters will hear the Tale of the Three Brothers, and if they did, which Hallow they would be most drawn to. Here are my thoughts:

The Wand

Gellert Grindelwald. Although he’s actively looking for all three, Dumbledore claims that they both were drawn more to the first two Hallows and mostly interested in the cloak simply because it completed the set; they did not see much practical use for it. However, while Dumbledore longed to bring his parents back from the dead, he admits to Harry that Grindelwald more likely saw the stone as a way to create inferi, which isn’t what it does at all. Inferi are reanimated corpses, basically zombies, that do the bidding of a dark wizard, while the people the stone brings back are more like ghosts. Its only real purpose is to talk to someone who has died. Therefore, if Grindelwald knew what each of the Hallows really does and knew he would only ever obtain one, he would almost certainly choose the one he already has.

Theseus Scamander. As an auror, his first impulse is to fight. He doesn’t seem to be in mourning for any lost loved ones, and he’s too much a man of action to see the value in the cloak, so I don’t think there’s any doubt he would choose the wand.

Tina Goldstein. At least, Tina before she met Newt would definitely have chosen the wand. The Tina from the second movie, who has “gone middle head”, as Newt puts it, might hesitate a moment longer. She might consider that the cloak has value as well (I doubt she’d be too tempted by the stone). In the end, though, she’s still an auror and still the most practical and straightforward of the main four. I would guess she would still choose the wand.

Credence Barebone. Or whatever his true identity is. Credence has been completely powerless for so long – abused by his adoptive mother, forced to suppress his magical abilities, manipulated by Grindelwald – that an unbeatable wand would no doubt appeal to him. I don’t know who he would want to bring back with the resurrection stone, and an invisibility cloak might be useful when he’s on the run in Crimes of Grindelwald, but it wouldn’t compare with what the wand offers (or seems to).

The Stone

Albus Dumbledore. Even as an old man, in Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore writes that he would have the easiest time turning down the third Hallow, though he seems aware that the third one is the wisest and “right” choice to make. Dumbledore does end up finding all three Deathly Hallows, but the wand is the only one he keeps and uses for a long period of time. However, he does not seem to think it’s the most valuable Hallow and notes that it is far from unbeatable, having been beaten many times and passed from one person to another when its owner is defeated. It is perhaps the stone that is the greatest temptation for Dumbledore; even as an old man, he tried it on and attempted to use it despite knowing that Voldemort had turned it into a horcrux and that it would be dangerous to do so. Having lost so many loved ones at a young age, it’s understandable he would long to bring them back.

Queenie Goldstein. Queenie’s greatest strength is also her greatest weakness: she loves deeply and cannot let go of those she loves. If she would make the choices she makes in Crimes of Grindelwald for the sake of her romance with Jacob, you can bet she would pick the stone, too. In a heartbeat.

Leta Lestrange. She has spent most of her life feeling guilty about Corvus, a situation which is even compared outright to Dumbledore and Ariana. Surely she would jump at the chance to bring him back.

The Cloak

Newt Scamander. Obviously. Newt rarely uses combative magic and would not see the need for an “unbeatable” wand. While he’s a compassionate person who would no doubt grieve if he lost loved ones, he would also be wise enough to understand that no magic can truly bring back the dead. He would find the invisibility cloak extremely useful in all the sneaking around he does, as well as to hide his magical creatures when necessary.

Jacob Kowalski. As a muggle, Jacob would be unable to use the wand and likely couldn’t use the stone either. Anyone can hide under an invisibility cloak. Even if he were a wizard, he’s a pretty humble guy who probably wouldn’t care for the power offered by the wand, and his willingness to step out into the memory potion rain suggests that he can let go and move on after a great loss, so he probably wouldn’t choose the stone.

Ariana Was an Obscurial: Part 2

Very mild Crimes of Grindelwald spoilers

This is hardly a new idea, but it’s worth revisiting after Crimes of Grindelwald. I think it still works, perhaps even better than before.

First of all, Dumbledore seems to know a lot about obscurials. That could just be his tendency to provide whatever explanation the audience needs, but it could also confirm that he has past experience with them and, perhaps, a personal reason for obtaining that knowledge. Most wizards believe that obscurials no longer exist, but Dumbledore has all kinds of ideas about how their curse works and how it might be cured. He describes the obscurus as a “dark twin” born out of loneliness and says that finding his real family – a real brother or sister – might be enough to save Credence.

Obscurials typically don’t survive childhood, but Ariana was a teenager when she died. She didn’t even die from being an obscurial; she died when she was caught in the crossfire of a duel between the Dumbledore brothers and Grindelwald. You would think if Newt learned about obscurials from Dumbledore, he would have known that ten years old is not a hard limit and been less surprised when Credence turned out to be the obscurial in New York. However, Ariana was the exception. She was afraid of her magic and refused to use it, but she had a family who did their best to protect her, even if they didn’t fully understand what she was going through. Most obscurials don’t escape so easily from the circumstances that made them develop an obscurus in the first place, and most don’t have a loving family to watch over them. If Dumbledore did research after her death and found records that said most obscurials died before a certain age, he might have just assumed his sister was the exception.

Dumbledore does not seem surprised that Credence survived to young adulthood as an obscurial and suggests that he could be saved by the love of a family, which is exactly what kept Ariana alive for so long.

Five Alternate Families for Credence

Credence being who he apparently turned out to be doesn’t make a lot of sense. Here are a few options for families he could be part of that I think would work better:

  1. Black. He has the same general look as the rest of the family – dark hair, pale skin, slightly creepy – and it would be totally believable for him to fit in somewhere between the burn marks on the family tree. The Blacks make a habit of disowning their relatives who are not evil enough, and those people’s children don’t show up on the family tree. He could easily be the son of Phineas Black, who is up to 24 years older than Credence and was disowned for supporting muggle rights.
  2. Peverell. The Peverell name no longer exists in Harry’s time, but they still have descendants, including the Gaunts and the Potters. If Credence were a descendant of one of the three brothers, that might explain why Grindelwald thinks he’s so important, as well as why he would lie to him about his true heritage. After all, if Credence was descended from the Peverell family, he would have more right to the Deathly Hallows than Grindelwald does, and we can’t have that.
  3. Greengrass. The Greengrasses are pure-blood Slytherins who don’t look down on muggles (or at least, Astoria didn’t), and they are themselves looked down on by many other wizarding families for carrying a blood curse. What if that blood curse originally came about because their ancestor was an obscurial?
  4. Scamander. Look, we know nothing about the Scamander family. Who’s to say Newt and Theseus didn’t have a younger cousin who they believe died as an infant? Dumbledore spent all that time talking about how the obscurial feeds off of isolation and how finding his family could help save Credence – and then insists that Newt has to be the one to find him. Does he know something he’s not telling?
  5. Goldstein. Given that he grew up in America, the logical conclusion – at least before Crimes of Grindelwald – would be that he’s from a family of American wizards. Even after the boat scene, it’s totally possible they had visited Europe but were on the way home. Now, remember that Queenie and Tina are orphans who only have each other because their parents died when they were children. In a shipwreck with their baby brother, perhaps?