Warning: This article contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Prior to the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it was already revealed that Albus Dumbledore was the only one who objected to the expulsion of Newt Scamander from Hogwarts. While the beloved headmaster has no appearance in the first Fantastic Beasts, his name is mentioned by Percival Graves, the character who turns out to be the infamous wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
While Percival is interrogating Newt about his magical suitcase, he finds out that Albus indeed argued against the expulsion of Newt. “I wonder, what makes Albus Dumbledore so fond of you?” he asks. Last April, author J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to explain the line which also appeared on the trailer.
Albus Dumbledore is fond of Newt Scamander for the same reasons that I am fond of Newt Scamander. You're welcome. https://t.co/bNdwX6Tf40
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) April 11, 2016
Newt remains silent but it appears that the headmaster’s attachment to him comes from a personal reason. In “The Missing Mirror” chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet Aberforth, Dumbledore’s brother. He tells them that Dumbledore became friends with Grindelwald while he was living in Godric’s Hollow.
However, what was supposed to be a friendship between two great wizards ended bitterly. A duel involving Aberforth, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald ensued. Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, died as a result of a stray curse. Little is known about Ariana but in the same chapter, Aberforth talks about a traumatic incident that happened to their sister when she was 6-years-old.
“It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless.”
He says that Ariana was attacked by several Muggle boys when they saw her practicing her magic. Following the incident, Ariana refused to show her abilities again, but restricting them only made things harder. Her magical abilities would still come out through episodes of uncontrollable fits. Their mother was even killed during one of such fits.
How is this related to Newt? Viewers first came across the term Obscurus in Fantastic Beasts. When he arrives in New York City, his suitcase does not only contain quirky creatures like the adorable Bowtruckle, but also the mysterious Obscurus.
The Obscurus turns out to be a parasite that preys on children whose magical abilities are repressed. The Obscurus slowly kills its host or Obscurial while causing chaos to the child’s surrounding. Newt has the Obscurus not because he’s the bad guy, but because he managed to remove it from a girl in Sudan.
The Harry Potter books might not have described Ariana as an Obscurial but her condition is greatly similar to one. Since Dumbledore never really got over the death of his sister, it makes sense that Dumbledore had a soft spot for someone so determined to understand and control spiteful magical forces.
Dumbledore is also known to exhibit compassion to students who are considered “outsiders” – students who are initially hesitant to come out of their shells because they do not know yet what they’re capable of.
Potterheads will further find out about Dumbledore’s role with the release of Fantastic Beasts 2 on November 16, 2018. During a roundtable interview for the then-upcoming film, as reported by Screen Rant, director David Yates teased that Dumbledore and Newt would have scenes in the sequel.
“In the second movie, Dumbledore comes back. He’s got a couple of good scenes with Newt. We’re discussing who would play Dumbledore, any suggestions would be good.”
Fantastic Beasts 2 will reportedly have a Paris setting.
[Featured Image by Warner Bros.]