Will Dumbledore Kill Credence?
The Harry Potter books were filled with plot twists, and there was no shortage of them in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Perhaps the most puzzling revelation was that, apparently, Albus Dumbledore had a second brother, named Aurelius Dumbledore, who was never once alluded to in any of the seven published Harry Potter novels. Fans were left mystified, wondering what it all meant. How could Credence be a Dumbledore? The timeline of Credence’s conception is confusing when scrutinized against previous information. Who were his parents? “How could Kendra be his mother if she died and Percival Dumbledore was sent to Azkaban?” Was he really Dumbledore’s “blood brother”?
According to some fans, Grindelwald lied to Credence: “Well, obviously, he’s lying; he’s the villain.” However, if Grindelwald lied, what was the point of it all? It would be disastrous, from a storytelling perspective, if we learn in the third Fantastic Beasts film that Grindelwald was lying to Credence when he restored the name Aurelius Dumbledore to him. Such a move would cheapen the franchise. Plot twists should serve the story. A plot twist for the sake of shocking audiences, but that is inconsequential, is a sign of desperate storytelling.
Therefore, I don’t think that Grindelwald was being entirely dishonest with Credence in Crimes of Grindelwald. I certainly don’t think he was being entirely truthful either. To borrow a line from Return of the Jedi, Grindelwald could have been telling Credence the truth “from a certain point of view.” This wouldn’t be the first time the truth wasn’t what it seemed in J.K. Rowling’s universe: In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry mistook Barty Crouch, Jr. for his father on the Marauder’s Map.
It seems that the name Aurelius has been on J.K. Rowling’s mind since at least October 2016. That’s when she changed the header image on the “Answers” page of her website to a photo of her desk, on which a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is placed. My colleague, Aurelia, has analyzed the origin and meaning of Aurelius.
Aurelius is a Latin name (pronunciation: ow-RE-lee-oos) that was derived from the word ‘aureus,’ meaning ‘golden.’ So Aurelius means ‘the golden one.’
One of the first things readers learned about Dumbledore was that he was renowned for “his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel” (SS, ch. 6). Although Flamel barely appeared in Fantastic Beasts and was a comic relief character, I suspect that alchemy will play an important role in the upcoming films in the series. Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading, wrote an article, “‘Your brother seeks to destroy you’: More about that blood oath (FBCoG #2),” attempting to explain what Dumbledore meant when he said, “If Credence has a real brother or sister out there who can take its place, he might yet be saved.”
If an Obscurus is developed out of suppression and lovelessness, a bond of love like the one Dumbledore entered into with Grindelwald would be a vow to take on and heal the partner’s pain.
Lorrie was responding to Susan Sipal’s theory that Grindelwald himself had an Obscurus. Although I don’t subscribe to this theory – we know that Grindelwald attended Durmstrang and there’s no evidence that his magic was ever suppressed – I am a fan of Sipal’s theory that Credence is an alchemical homunculus.
If Credence was the love child of Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald, could his Obscurus not be the physical manifestation of their love or lack thereof? Sipal has theorized that “the blood pact they have made also involved protecting their homunculus.” Dumbledore tells Newt in Crimes of Grindelwald that “an Obscurus grows in the absence of love.” What if Credence’s Obscurus is symbolic of the love that was lost between Dumbledore and Grindelwald after Ariana died? Credence is Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s very own Picture of Dorian Gray, his anguish and turmoil representative of their deteriorated relationship.
Consider Grindelwald’s choice of words when we see him tell Credence that Dumbledore sought to “destroy” him.
You have suffered the most heinous of betrayals, most purposely bestowed upon you by your own blood. Your own flesh and blood. And just as he has created your torment, your brother seeks to destroy you.
The word “destroy” is also used in the previous scene, when Newt and Dumbledore are discussing the blood pact, which I don’t think was an inadvertent move by J.K. Rowling.
Newt: Can you destroy it?
Dumbledore: Maybe… maybe.
If Credence was a consequent of the blood pact, then he could be considered Dumbledore’s flesh and blood and from that perspective, his “brother.” And he would also be Grindelwald’s flesh and blood as well. So when Grindelwald says that Dumbledore has heinously betrayed Credence, he was actually talking about Dumbledore betraying him by abandoning their quest for the Hallows and subjugation of Muggles.
Could Credence, like Harry, be a pig for slaughter who, in Dumbledore’s eyes, needs to be destroyed in the name of the greater good? This might explain why Dumbledore was able to be so calculating and emotionally detached when he explains to Snape in “The Prince’s Tale” that Harry needed to die. He had been down a similar road before.
The theme of blood magic plays a vital role in the Harry Potter series. By using Harry’s blood to regain his body, thus ensuring keeping Lily’s sacrifice alive, Voldemort anchored Harry to the living world. If Dumbledore’s and Grindelwald’s blood, intertwined, flows through Credence, as long as Credence lives, the blood pact cannot be destroyed because it lives inside him. Knowing this, it’s unsurprising that Grindelwald would want to get on Credence’s good side and keep him close. Why, then, would Grindelwald talk about using Credence to kill Dumbledore at the risk of his destruction? One possible explanation is that Grindelwald believes that Dumbledore, tormented by Ariana’s death, won’t be able to bring himself to destroy Credence.
Another question fans have asked is, “How does Nagini turn bad?” At the end of Crimes of Grindelwald, Nagini is with our heroes, on the Hogwarts bridge. Earlier in the film, she implores Credence not to join Grindelwald, saying, “He knows what you were born, not who you are…” How does Nagini go from opposing Grindelwald to aligning herself with Voldemort and becoming one of his Horcruxes? Well, Crimes of Grindelwald established that Credence and Nagini had a strong bond with one another. Credence is seemingly Nagini’s closest, perhaps only, companion. After Credence defects to Grindelwald’s side and Grindelwald’s dragon-like creature threatens to engulf Paris, we see Nagini huddled alone, looking fearful.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry’s and Dumbledore’s eyes meet, shortly after Nagini attacks Arthur Weasley, “Harry’s scar burned white-hot, as though the old wound had burst open again – and unbidden, unwanted, but terrifyingly strong, there rose within Harry a hatred so powerful he felt, for that instant, that he would like nothing better than to strike – to bite – to sink his fangs into the man before him” (OotP, ch. 22). In this scene, as readers, we assume that Voldemort’s hatred for Dumbledore is being channeled through Harry. However, what if Harry was sensing Nagini’s hatred for Dumbledore? Since Harry and Nagini were both hosts for fragments of Voldemort’s soul, they were connected to him as well as each other. And if Dumbledore were to kill Credence in the Fantastic Beasts series, Nagini would resent him and be motivated to align herself with Voldemort, the person who most defies everything that Dumbledore stands for.
Will Credence survive the Fantastic Beasts series? Was Grindelwald lying? Please leave your comments below, and for more discussion on Credence, check out Episode 93 of SpeakBeasty.