Image Source: Warner Bros
Since the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, there have been a lot of questions surrounding one of the most famous wizarding families in the Harry Potter universe: the Dumbledores. While we've mainly had our eyes on the eldest Dumbledore sibling, Albus, events in Fantastic Beasts have shifted the story's focus to the youngest, most tragic member of the family and her mysterious "illness."
For anyone who needs a reminder about Ariana's heartbreaking story, here's a refresher: as a young, 6-year-old witch, Ariana was brutally attacked by three Muggle boys after they caught her doing magic. The attack left her traumatised and she tried to repress her magic, causing it to violently burst out of her in times of distress. Worried for her safety, her mother decided to keep her away from the rest of the world, only letting her outside of the house at the dead of night. When she was 14, Ariana went into a fit of rage that caused a magical outburst so forceful it killed her mother. Being the eldest and having just graduated from Hogwarts, Albus was forced to return home to care for his sister on his own.
Before we step further down memory lane, let's examine that bit of information. The way the brothers tell the tale, "sweet and scared and harmless" Ariana was actually incredibly dangerous. Aberforth described her magic as something that "turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn't control it." When their father, Percival, was sent to Azkaban for attacking the boys who hurt her, he refused to defend his actions, wanting to protect Ariana from being taken away. As Aberforth explains in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, "He never said why he'd done it, because if the Ministry had known what Ariana had become, she'd have been locked up in St. Mungo's for good." Sounds incredibly ominous, no?
Fast forward to the Summer of Gellert Grindelwald's arrival in Godric's Hollow, a time that ultimately led to Ariana's death. Albus and Grindelwald began planning a "new world order" between the wizarding and Muggle worlds that would break the secrecy of magic. When Aberforth confronted the two regarding their neglect of Ariana, a fight broke out that caused the young witch to panic. When Aberfoth retells the story in Deathly Hallows, he suggests that Ariana was trying to help, but couldn't control her magic. The details get a little fuzzy from here and we're not quite sure who does the awful deed in the end, but from the way Albus recounts it, we're meant to assume it was Grindelwald who hit her with the death curse. "Grindelwald lost control. That which I had always sensed in him, though I pretended not to, now sprang into terrible being. And Ariana . . . after all my mother's care and caution . . . lay dead upon the floor."
Image Source: Everett Collection
So Ariana's story ends in devastation, but there are still some questions left unanswered that we can't ignore. It's obvious that Ariana had something more than just a case of uncontrollable magic — which most wizarding children have before they begin schooling. For anyone who's seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Ariana's "illness" is almost identical to the situation of one Credence Barebone, which means that Ariana Dumbledore was almost certainty an Obscurial.
As we learned in Fantastic Beasts, an Obscurial is "a young wizard or witch who developed a dark parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse." Though Obscurials are commonly known to die before their 10th birthdays, Ariana didn't start repressing her magic until she was 6 years old, which probably extended her life expectancy and made her more powerful. From their traumatic histories to their destructive outbursts, the similarities between Ariana and Credence are too great to ignore. Ariana being an Obscurial would also explain Grindelwald's desire for her to travel with him and Dumbledore in their youth, his fascination with Obscurials, and his hunt for Credence — he'd seen the explosive power within Ariana and the danger it posed for the secrecy of the wizarding world. Of course he would seek out another Obscurial after Ariana's death.
Taking into account Grindelwald's "reveal" that Credence is actually a Dumbledore, this opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for how the wizard is really connected to the Dumbledores. We're not sure how the Obscurial connection could play into it exactly, but it definitely makes the idea more feasible. Here's hoping we figure out how and why, sooner rather than later.