When Did Grindelwald’s Search for an Obscurial Begin?
There were so many connections between Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, but the first thing on my mind when the credits started rolling was the sudden realization that we had seen an Obscurial before. Although she was not named as such, Ariana Dumbledore’s fits of uncontrollable rage, a result of repressing her magic, are undeniably similar to the explanation of Obscurials we get in Fantastic Beasts. This connection between Grindelwald’s stay in Godric’s Hollow and his time in New York City raises a few questions: Was Ariana the reason he got so close to Dumbledore, did she show Grindelwald that Obscurials could potentially be used as a weapon, and when did he start looking for other children with repressed abilities?
In 1899 (according to the Harry Potter Wikia timeline), a young Gellert Grindelwald spent a summer with his aunt in Godric’s Hollow, befriending Albus Dumbledore. Grindelwald knew of Ariana’s “condition.” When recounting the night of Ariana’s death, Aberforth says that Grindelwald told him that the mission of the “greater good” would lead to liberation for children like Ariana.
He told me what a stupid little boy I was, trying to stand in the way of him and my brilliant brother… Didn’t I understand, my poor sister wouldn’t have to be hidden once they’d changed the world, and led the wizards out of hiding, and taught the Muggles their place? And there was an argument… and I pulled my wand, and he pulled out his….
— J.K. Rowling (Deathly Hallows)
Now, having seen what Grindelwald went to New York City in search for, is it possible that Ariana triggered that search? Yes, Grindelgraves tells Credence he had a vision of a child with immense power, but J.K. Rowling confirmed a theory I’ve had since my first viewing of the film. Grindelgraves was lying. He knew exactly what he was looking for. I believe that Grindelwald witnessed things in Godric’s Hollow that made him realize how much power could be harvested by unleashing repressed magical children on the world.
Over 20 years had passed between Ariana’s death and Grindelwald’s attempt to use Credence as a part of his regime. In those years, did Grindelwald search the world for whispers of Obscuruses? There is a gap between his leaving Godric’s Hollow and showing up in the United States. There are years of actions that are unaccounted for. One thing seems certain to me: Grindelwald did not infiltrate MACUSA on a whim. He did so because he knew it would bring him one step closer to finding another Obscurus. Taking out a high-ranking Auror and tediously brewing and continuously taking Polyjuice Potion for a long period of time is dedicated work for not knowing what you’re searching for. Grindelwald knew. He knew he was looking for a child who could look innocent until they strike, killing in an instant, unable to control the evil that their repressed magical abilities can accomplish. After all, a young Grindelwald had already given thought to the matter. “Didn’t I understand, my poor sister wouldn’t have to be hidden once they’d changed the world.” It was never about freeing magical children. It was about using them up until they can’t hold on anymore, until their powers overcome and consume them, leaving no more life. For the Greater Good.