UPDATE: I’ve now read the screenplay for the film and some interesting new details have been revealed. It undoes some of my theories in this post, but I’ve keep my original theories and put my updated ones below them in the “UPDATE” section. Anyway…
MAJOR SPOILERS for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald below. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this will 110% ruin it for you, so I very much suggest turning away now.
Here we go. I’m sure you recall at the end of the movie, the boy who we’ve come to know as Credence Barebone is revealed by Grindelwald to be…
This surprise certainly left the entirety of my early screening audience shocked, including myself. But when putting the history that Rowling developed in the Potter books in context with this new development, is this possible? How well does it fit into the existing canon? I’ve done some digging, and I think it’s possible in only one scenario: Jo Rowling gave us false information about an important character in Deathly Hallows.
Aurelius is obviously the youngest of the Dumbledore family. Ariana Dumbledore died in 1899 and Ezra Miller said in an interview that Credence was 18 years old during the first Fantastic Beasts film. So that means he was born sometime between December 1907 and December of 1908.
Now, we know that the patriarch of the Dumbledore family, Percival Dumbledore, was sent to Azkaban in 1890 and that he eventually died there. This is important.
In order for Aurelius to be a Dumbledore, Percival had to have been his father. Could Aurelius’s father have been Percival’s brother or something? Maybe, but Grindelwald’s line, “Your own brother wants to destroy you” strongly points to Albus being Aurelius’s brother and therefore Percival his father.
Kendra Dumbledore died in 1899, so she couldn’t have been Aurelius’s mother. And Percival was sent to Azkaban in 1890. There’s no way he could have had a child with another woman while he was in Azkaban, right? I highly doubt the Dementors would allow the inmates to have any pleasure, especially that kind of pleasure. Would one even be able to ‘do the deed’ with Dementors sucking the life out of them? Probably not.
So Aurelius had to have been born before Percival went to Azkaban, right? But that doesn’t make sense either. If Credence/Aurelius was born around 1907, then his father would have been eking out a miserable existence in Azkaban or already been dead. So maybe Ezra Miller was given false information and Credence was actually 35, making him born in 1890—right before Percival was put in Azkaban. Call me crazy, but somehow, I don’t think Credence was 35 in the first film. So then how is this possible? I can think of only one theory that makes the most sense to me. But it requires Jo to ‘rewrite’ history that she’s already created.
If Aurelius Dumbledore was born around 1907, then that means Percival somehow escaped Azkaban and had a child with another woman (the woman we see reach for her drowned baby that she thought was Aurelius but was actually Corvus). And this would mean Percival was the first person to escape Azkaban, not Barty Crouch Jr. And it would mean that Percival may still be alive by the time of Crimes of Grindelwald. That would certainly be an interesting development, but one that doesn’t make sense for the story. What would Percival Dumbledore add to the mix in future films? I can’t think of anything. His absence served Albus’s story—it shaped him into the protective and mature man he became at that young age. Bringing his father back decades later would be throwing a wrench in the works for no reason.
Now…to switch gears for a second.
Another big question that’s been floating around my head since seeing the movie was whether the ship that Leta Lestrange switched Corvus and Aurelius on was the Titanic, or a completely different cruise liner that sunk? It looked like it could be the Titanic. It did sink and does seem to be around the right time. But not quite. The Titanic sunk in 1912, and if Aurelius was born in 1907, he’d already be five years old. Much older than the infant that Leta switches Corvus out for.
Oh, but what if—again—Ezra Miller had wrong information and Aurelius actually was born in 1912 or 1911, making that ship the Titanic? That would mean Credence/Aurelius was 14 or 15 by the time of the first film. Still seems a bit young, but not nearly as bad as 35. That brings into question the Obscurus and if it’s existence in Credence is less surprising/powerful in a boy significantly younger than 18.
But that aside, and still assuming Percival Dumbledore escaped from Azkaban and had Aurelius with another woman, then this could work. It’s a pretty big stretch, and Jo has not made it easy for us. But it’s possible. I do like the idea that Percival’s offspring are prone to develop Obscurials, because now we have two of them in the Dumbledore family. Quite interesting.
There are still many unanswered questions, like how did Percival escape Azkaban (did he escape Azkaban?) and how did Grindelwald find out about Credence’s true heritage? Hopefully that will be revealed in the next movie. Until then, theorize away my fellow wizards!
The script for the movie has clarified some important things. First, the ship that sunk is definitely NOT the Titanic, since the script reveals that part of Leta’s flashback occurs in 1901. So it’s reasonable to assume Credence/Aurelius was born in that same year since he’s still an infant. That would make Credence 25 years old by the first film. That still seems too old for someone with an Obscurus, but if anyone could keep a dark force like that alive inside them for 25 years, it would certainly be able to wreck a city. At the very least, right?
1901 is still over ten years since Percival Dumbledore was sent to Azkaban. So if Aurelius is his son, my Azkaban escape theory could still hold. But one more thing was revealed in the script during the flashback scene that could potentially be very important. I assumed (wrongly) that the woman Aurelius was taken from on the ship was his mother. Turns out, that woman is his aunt.
Could Percival have had a sister? Maybe. But something about this whole situation now reeks of Kendra Dumbledore. First off, I think Jo was far more interested in Kendra than she was in her husband. We know Kendra had features resembling a Native American, so we can speculate that she has ties to America. We know she died in 1899, probably in an Obscurial accident with Ariana. But could Kendra still be Aurelius’s mother. I dismissed it right off the bat before, but now I’ve thought of a couple ways it could potentially work.
First, could Kendra have faked her death? It sounds outlandish, but her death in 1899 and Aurelius’s birth in 1901 suggest something’s afoot. What if Kendra left a fake body for her two sons to find and fled to her sister’s. Sounds like a really crappy thing to do to your kids, especially with no apparent reason for it. But now it’s 1900, and Aurelius would be conceived shortly. But with whom? It could have been with an escaped Percival. Or another man? But if it was another man, then why does Aurelius still carry the Dumbledore surname?
I think Percival is still the father. But say my entire theory about Percival escaping from Azkaban is way off, and Kendra didn’t conceive Aurelius with a different man. Then there’s really only one option I can see. It’s a bit weird, though. What if there’s a magical way to keep a man’s…um…’prostatic fluid’ alive. Kendra and Percival likely had time to say goodbye to one another before Percival was shipped off to prison. What if he asked her to have one more child to ensure his legacy (or something) and gave her a sample. Maybe at first she didn’t want to, but towards the end of her life, decided to have his baby. Albus, Aberforth, and Ariana would have seen their mother pregnant before she died. Maybe Kendra did give birth to Aurelius, but she did it secretly, giving him to his aunt after his birth and telling her children it was a miscarriage.
OR (this is so much lol) her children knew Aurelius was born, meaning Albus knows EXACTLY who Credence has been this entire time. Maybe Kendra gave birth to Aurelius very soon before she died, and after her death, Albus was the one who sent Aurelius to his aunt in America (probably because he already had too many people to take care of and knew he wouldn’t be able to support an infant on top of everything). Aurelius would then be two years old by the time of the baby-swap-ship-drop (haha) which I think is a bit old for the Baby Aurelius we saw in the movie. But it’s not too glaringly different. And of course, then Credence would be 27 by the time of the first film. At this point, I think Credence’s age in Fantastic Beasts is going to make no sense, no matter what.
This is a lot to process, and my gut is telling me that Jo is just not very aware of her own timeline and changed a few of these dates—the same dates that I’ve been considering hard facts—to be mere suggestions, easily moved around to suit her story. And if that’s the case, this entire (lengthy) essay has been for, more or less, nothing. But it’s always fun to speculate these things with a fan base as creative and open-minded as this, so I don’t really care. I had fun writing it!
Thank you so much for sticking with me. There’s so much here to unpack, I know. But nonetheless, I love getting to know what you guys think about all this. Any theories you think I might be on the right track with, or any new theories of your own that will make me slap my forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Whatever it is, put it down below in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond.
Have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Keep in mind, I’ve written this one week after seeing an early screening of Crimes of Grindelwald. I tried my best to remember all the details of what happened, especially in Leta’s flashback scene. But there’s a chance I missed something or got something messed up along the way. The whole baby-swapping thing is rather confusing.