Blood Brothers? Or Is Something Else at Play?
SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
When the credits rolled and the theater lights came on after some of the first audiences saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, in many theaters there was a shocked silence followed by a lot a chatter. After two films of wondering, we now know who Credence Barebone really is. Or do we?
Brothers. It’s a word that can be taken literally, but there are also other interpretations. It could mean close friends, colleagues, peers, fellow human beings, etc. In the case of Albus Dumbledore and Credence, a.k.a. Aurelius Dumbledore, is it as simple as sharing a parent, or is there a little more going on here?
First of all, let’s look at what this could mean if Albus and Credence really are blood brothers. According to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay, Corvus Lestrange was born in 1901, the same year Credence was born and later swapped with Corvus. Because of that swap, the Lestrange baby drowned in a shipwreck, while Credence was carried to safety and later given to the Barebones. Of course, this birth date makes Credence 25 years old, which seems a bit old to have still been trapped under the guardianship of Mary Lou Barebone and to have everyone refer to him as “boy”… But that’s a story for another time.
Getting back on track, Kendra Dumbledore, Albus and Aberforth’s mother, died in 1899. That’s two years before Credence was even born. Fan theories are concluding that Percival Dumbledore must have survived in Azkaban long enough to father a child with someone other than his wife. Is that even possible with the Dementors keeping watch?
It all seems a bit messy.
So let’s entertain the thought that there could be something else at play here. I personally feel that Grindelwald restoring the name to Aurelius is more metaphorical than revealing Albus has a half sibling. What if Grindelwald is referring to a bit of Credence that shares a familial connection to Dumbledore? The Obscurus. We know Ariana died, but what we don’t know is if the Obscurus was destroyed or if it left its host’s body when she became lifeless. Could that very same Obscurus have latched itself onto Credence?
Can an Obscurus even do that? We know children can develop one, but can a dark force already exist and then latch onto a host? If the answer is yes, that could also help explain why Credence has lasted as long as he has, living with the “dark twin.” If the Obscurus latched onto him later in his childhood at, say, 12, he’s been living with it for around 13 years. This still places Credence as having survived longer than normally expected of Obscurials, but not an outrageous 25 years.
There’s no documented case of an Obscurial surviving past the age of ten. The one I met in Africa was eight when she — was eight when she died (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 151).
I know it seems coincidental to have the same Obscurus plant itself inside another host we know in the great, big wizarding world, but here’s why it seems plausible: We know there are not a ton of them in the world. In the first film, Newt and Tina’s exchange in the MACUSA cell illustrates this. Tina believes there are none left. Newt corrects her, noting, “There used to be more of them, but they still exist,” leading me to believe they’re pretty rare and making it less far-fetched to think we’re seeing the same one (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 150).
There’s another hint in the text of the screenplay itself. After Grindelwald says the name “Aurelius Dumbledore,” Credence blasts a spell through the window of Nurmengard Castle and hits a cliff in the distance, which explodes. J.K. Rowling writes, “The power of his Obscurus can at last be channeled.” It’s as if the name “Dumbledore” awakens something inside of him. That dark force now has a target, a purpose. That purpose is to reclaim its grip on the Dumbledore name, which Grindelwald calls its “birthright,” and to seek and destroy Albus Dumbledore, the man whose wand may have cast the fatal spell that killed its previous host.
My next point takes us back to the first Fantastic Beasts film. Before GrindelGraves realized the “child” he was seeking was Credence, not Modesty, he threw a few verbal abuses his way. One of those taunts was that Credence’s parents were indeed magical, but he was a Squib. How did Grindelwald go from thinking Credence was a Squib to suddenly knowing his name and that he’s part of a powerful wizarding family? It doesn’t add up.
There are fan theories swirling that Grindelwald is lying to Credence. It wouldn’t be the first time, but I can’t help feeling that would be a total waste of a film to have the ending be just a lie.
None of these theories is neat and clean, which is why I’m intrigued to see how this is explained in the coming films.