The Mystery of Leta Lestrange
This post contains spoilers from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
A new Harry Potter story is released, and it’s like we’re back in peak Potter fandom: There’s some theorizing to be done! I went through my entire supply of Post-its and little flags while reading through the script over the weekend, after seeing the film twice. Of course, there’s a mad scramble to be the first one out of the gate with theories… and I have a theory just crazy enough that perhaps saner fans haven’t thought of it yet. And it concerns the name that made us all sit up and pay attention: Leta Lestrange.
Before we get to the craziness, let’s take stock of what we know: Newt and Leta had “a real close friendship” at school because “neither of [them] fitted in at school” (scene 92). However, it’s clear the friendship suffered an important rift, given that Newt is “hurting” and Queenie is “saddened” upon reading his mind. Queenie’s assessment is that “She was a taker. You [Newt] need a giver.”
We also know that Newt was “thrown out of Hogwarts for endangering human life […] with a beast” (scene 65). Yet Albus Dumbledore “argued strongly against [Newt’s] expulsion.”
If I had to guess, I would say the two are related. The likeliest scenario is that Leta endangered human life with a beast at Hogwarts, and Newt took the fall for her. Dumbledore either knows it wasn’t Newt’s fault or suspects it and therefore became Newt’s champion.
This would be interesting because it would add a precedent for events occurring three decades after Newt’s expulsion: the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. A lovable and seemingly good boy with a fondness for magical creatures is expelled for the crime of endangering human life with a beast, while there seems to be someone else who’s the actual perpetrator. Hagrid and Newt seem to have an awful lot in common. And remembering the incident with Newt and Leta, Dumbledore attempts to help Hagrid as best he can.
So that’s my theory for what happened in the past to Leta and Newt. But I have a theory I’m much more excited for, regarding Leta’s future.
Let us wade through the Lestrange family to see where Leta might fit in. We know Bellatrix was born in 1951, per the Black family tree. We also know there was a Lestrange who hung out with Tom Riddle in school (furthering the parallels between the expulsions of Newt and Hagrid: a suspicious Lestrange might be involved). This Lestrange boy, Tom Riddle’s peer, would have been born around 1926 as well, give or take a year. There are two possibilities:
- This Lestrange was Rodolphus, and Bellatrix married someone way older. The age difference could explain Bellatrix’s apathy toward Rodolphus, and we know she has no problem with older men given that Voldemort was the same age as this Lestrange.
- This Lestrange was the father of Rodolphus and Rabastan, and the Lestranges are multi-generational Death Eaters. This would make Rodolphus roughly Bellatrix’s peer if Riddle-era Lestrange had him around age 25.
I lean toward the latter explanation, both because it has fewer May-December marriages and because it works better with my theory, but either one is valid.
If Leta Lestrange was at school with Newt, she would have been born around 1897, same as him. This would make her nearly 30 years older than the Riddle-era Lestrange, of the same generation as his parents. Is she an aunt? A distant relative? Or is the connection deeper than that?
There could be reasons for Leta’s child carrying her last name. For example, if Leta got pregnant out of wedlock and had a child on her own, that child would probably carry the Lestrange last name. So it is possible that she is the mother of the Riddle-era Lestrange, and Rodolphus’s grandmother. And while we’re diving down the rabbit hole…
*crack theory alert!*
Who could have knocked up Leta Lestrange right around the time the Fantastic Beasts movie is set? Why, none other than someone who clearly has some kind of emotional attachment to her: Newt Scamander! It could have happened before the movie’s events if Newt found himself in Britain at some point, or it could still happen right after the movie’s events, when Newt gets back to Britain. Sure, there’s something brewing between Newt and Tina. But who knows what could happen right after the credits rolled? In a world of old flames, firewhisky, and love potions, there are many conceivable ways in which Newt and Leta could conceive.
For the Riddle-era Lestrange to take his mother’s name, Newt would have had to not have a great relationship with his kid. There are myriad ways this could have played out. Maybe the kid chose pure-blood mania and cruelty over Newt’s kinder nature and they became estranged. Or maybe Newt wasn’t in the picture at all, not knowing about the child. Certainly, having a witch mother with impressive pure-blood credentials and an absentee father would be an important commonality for Lestrange and Tom Riddle.
This could also be the film franchise’s way of linking to Tom Riddle at school. It certainly seems a waste not to check in on him if we’re in the time period, but it’s also fair to say that Tom Riddle has very little to do with the Dumbledore/Grindelwald conflict or Newt Scamander. But if he were the friend of Newt’s son, that would certainly make him relevant!
If my twisted theory is correct, that means we’re in for quite a twisted family tree! Rodolphus Lestrange and Rolf Scamander would be half-cousins, so Luna and Bellatrix would be cousins by marriage!
If this madness turns out to be true, you heard it here first, folks! And if not… well, let’s see you come up with something better!