Oh, Newt. You never met a monster you couldn’t love.
-- Leta Lestrange (CG)
Leta Lestrange was a close friend of Newt Scamander at Hogwarts. The two of them were outsiders and shared a love for magical creatures. They became friends at age 13, when an unhappy Leta was being chased by Professor McGonagall for casting a spell on another student. Running to hide inside a Hogwarts cupboard, Leta found Newt inside caring for a baby raven, the symbol of Leta’s family, and they bonded while staying at Hogwarts over the Christmas holidays. However, later when Leta took an experiment a bit too far and endangered the lives of other students, Newt took the blame and was expelled from Hogwarts. Newt keeps a picture of Leta on the wall of his shed, inside the case.
In 1927, a picture appeared in Spellbound Magazine of Newt posing with his servant, Bunty, his brother Theseus, and Leta Lestrange. The caption referred erroneously to Leta as Newt’s fiance, when she was actually engaged to Theseus. The picture was troublesome and confusing to Newt’s friend from New York City, Auror Tina Goldstein, who was jealous of the relationship and began dating another Auror.
Leta was always inviting Newt to dinner with herself and Theseus, but Newt always declined (CG). Theseus encouraged her to become part of the “Ministry family” and work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She often accompanied the Aurors on their missions in Paris against Grindelwald, but it was not clear whether she was training to become one herself.
Leta was haunted all her life by the death of her baby half-brother, Corvus Lestrange, Jr. At Hogwarts, her boggart appeared in Dumbledore’s Defense Against the Dark Arts Class as a baby’s hand and a flash of green light (CG).
Her mother, Laurena Kama, was the first wife of Corvus Lestrange, Sr. who used the Imperius Curse to kidnap her away from her husband and son. Leta’s half-brother Yusef Kama watched his father go insane over losing her, and vowed to take revenge someday.
After Laurena died, Corvus took a second wife who gave birth to a son named Corvus Lestrange, Jr. When he realized that Yusef wished to harm his son, he sent both Corvus Jr. and Leta to America to hide with a servant Irma Dugard, who was half-House elf. On the ship, Leta grew weary of Corvus Jr. crying in his crib, so she switched him with another baby who was quiet. This childish act led to tragedy because the ship soon began to sink and in the confusion, the lifeboat containing her brother and the other baby’s aunt sank, killing them both. The child left with Leta would be adopted later in New York and named Creedence Barebone.
Her guilt over the death became her boggart, a baby sinking through the light of the green ocean water. Years later, Dumbledore remembered the boggart and guessed what was on Leta’s mind, urging her to confess and avoid even more remorse. But she chose not to confess at that time.
Leta was reunited suddenly with her half-brother Yusef as well as Creedence Barebone at the Lestrange Mausoleum in Paris, 1927. While trying to hunt down the family of Corvus Lestrange, Yusef used a book called The Predictions of Tycho Dodonus, which he believed referred to both Leta and her baby brother:
“A son cruelly banished
Despair of the daughter
Return, great avenger
With wings from the water.”
Yusef believed Corvus was the”son cruelly banished,” while Leta was the daughter in despair. Yusef saw himself as the “great avenger” of his own mother and father when he sought to kill Credence Barebone, the child he believed was rescued from the sinking ship. At that point, Leta had to explain her own involvement in her brother’s death at sea due to the switch.
Soon after her confession, a large amphitheater opened under the Lestrange Mausoleum. Grindelwald was having a rally there. calling out to his followers while protected by a magical ring of black fire. He targeted Leta, saying, “Leta Lestrange . . . despised entirely amongst wizards . . . unloved, mistreated . . . yet brave. So very brave. … Time to come home.” But Leta saw Theseus trying to rescue her from the fire with Newt beside him and made a decision to sacrifice herself. Saying “I love you” to both brothers, she caused an explosion near Grindelwald as the flames surrounded her, allowing the Scamanders, Tina Goldstein, Jacob Kowalski, Yusef Kama, and Nagini to escape death.
Leta was a member of the notorious Lestrange family (WFT). Her father, Corvus, loved only his son with his second wife. His family tree listed only the men, and the women in his line were recorded as flowers instead of people. When Leta explained her role in the death of her brother Corvus Jr in the Lestrange Mausoleum, a magical representation of the family tree appeared; the orchid representing Leta twisted around the tree branch for Corvus Jr., making the leaves "wither and die."
Possibly from African-Swahili "Leita" which means "bringer" (Her half-brother Yusef Kama is described as "French African")
In Old Norse, "Leita" means "to look for" or "search"
In Latin, Leta is a variant form of the verb "Leto" which means "I kill or slay" (Possibly referring to Leta's dead brother)
Another possibility is the Greek "Leto" - womanly goddess of motherhood who gave birth to the children of Zeus, Artemis and Apollo, then had to flee and hide with them because the wife of Zeus was hunting them down
Also possibly adapted from "Leda" - the name of a queen in Greek mythology who produced four children (who hatched out of two bird-like eggs, two to each egg) at once from two different fathers (source: Wikipedia). Leta's role in switching two babies and being involved in a plot about confused and tangled questions of uncertain ancestry resonates with Leda's role in causing the uncertainty and ambiguity as to which children hatched from which egg, which children were the progeny of which father, and which children were mortal versus divine. Also notable, one of the children was Helen of Troy. In the Fantastic Beasts films we certainly see an entire war being waged over a single person whose origins are connected to Leta.
David Yates discussed the character of Leta Lestrange in an interview with Cinema Blend magazine:
"Yes. Leta Lestrange comes into the second movie. She's quite complicated and damaged and confused and Newt is absolutely still in love with her, so she has a kind of power over him, and she, yeah, she's a kind of tragic figure, so we will see a bit more of her in the second movie."
Zoe Kravitz spoke about her character with Collider:
"The relationship between Leta and Newt Scamander is a complex relationship, so I think there will be a lot of time for that to grow and develop, which will be fun.”
Leta's wand had an ebony wand stem, "It had to look rich and commanding." according to designer Molly Sole - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Movie Magic by Jody Revenson
From the Web
Leta Lestrange on Harry Potter Wiki
The Mystery of Leta Lestrange by hpboy13 on MuggleNet
Collider: Zoe Kravitz on Fantastic Beasts 2 and Newt and Leta's "Complex Relationship"
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