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"It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn't use magic, but she couldn't get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn't control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless."
— Ariana's unstable disposition[src]

Ariana Dumbledore (c. 1885 – summer 1899)[1] was a British half-blood witch and the youngest child and only daughter of Percival and Kendra Dumbledore. She was the younger sister of Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore. At the age of six, Ariana was attacked by Muggle boys who saw her practising underage magic, which left her traumatised to the point of rendering her magical abilities uncontrollable. Ariana would later become an Obscurial as a result.[2]

This prompted her father to attack the boys and be imprisoned in Azkaban, while her mother moved the family from Mould-on-the-Wold to Godric's Hollow and kept Ariana hidden away from the general population. Because of this, the few people who saw Ariana often got the impression that she was being imprisoned.

During a fit when she was fourteen years old, Ariana accidentally caused a magical explosion that killed her mother. Her older brother Albus then became her guardian, a role that he resented.[5] Ariana died when she was accidentally struck by a curse in a three-way duel between her older brothers and Gellert Grindelwald, the soon-to-be infamous Dark Wizard revolutionary.[5] This event would have a profound impact on both her brothers' lives.

After the incident, her eldest brother Albus would become a Transfiguration professor and then the longest and most noted Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, while her favourite brother Aberforth became the owner and barman of the Hog's Head Inn in Hogsmeade.

Biography

Early life

"When my sister was six years old, she was attacked, by three Muggle boys. They'd seen her practising magic, spying through the back garden hedge: She was a kid, she couldn't control it, no witch or wizard can at that age. What they saw, scared them, I expect. They forced their way through the hedge, and when she couldn't show them the trick, they got a bit carried away trying to stop the little freak doing it."
— Ariana's brutal and unprovoked attack[src]

Ariana Dumbledore was born to Kendra and Percival Dumbledore in 1885 in the mainly wizarding village of Mould-on-the-Wold. Ariana lived a fairly normal and happy childhood up until the age of six years old.

A young Ariana before the attack

In 1891, six-year-old Ariana Dumbledore was outside in the back garden hedge playing with her uncontrolled use of magic. Without her knowing, three Muggle boys had been spying on her. After becoming scared of what they witnessed, they confronted her. The boys tried to get Ariana to show them her trick, but when she was unable to because of her young age, they turned violent and started to attack her to stop her from using magic.

As a result of the attack, she became traumatised to the point of her unwillingness to use magic, causing her to develop an obscurus. This caused her to have violently powerful magical accidents and outbreaks. Despite the instability of Ariana's condition, she was not detained at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, as her father never revealed the reason for his attack on the Muggle boys in her defence.[6][7]

Percival Dumbledore in Azkaban

Her father sought revenge against the boys and attacked them. Because of this, he was sentenced to Azkaban. He refused to reveal the reason for the attack, since Ariana would have been sent to St Mungo's if her condition was discovered, as it threatened the Statute of Secrecy.[6]

About a year later, in 1892, to keep her daughter safe, Kendra moved the family to Godric's Hollow and Ariana was secluded from the outside world.[6] Many did not even know that the Dumbledores had a daughter. Ariana was sweet and kind, but when she could not control her magic she became slightly dangerous, so she was never even sent to Hogwarts despite her attempts to fix her problem. In fact, many believed Kendra had produced a Squib because Ariana did not attend Hogwarts.

Mother's death

"...Ariana couldn't control it. But my mother was killed."
Aberforth Dumbledore about his mother's death[src]

When Ariana was fourteen years old, she had an episode in which her emotions and her magic spun out of control. Her favourite brother Aberforth was not at home to calm her down, and she caused an explosion that caused the death of her mother.

Albus Dumbledore, who had been preparing to go abroad with his friend, Elphias Doge, stayed in England in order to attend his mother's funeral and to take over the position of taking care of Ariana. Aberforth wanted to be the one to take care of his sister, but he had not yet finished his education, and his older brother insisted upon him graduating from Hogwarts.[6]

Death

"I resented it, Harry. I was gifted, I was brilliant. I wanted to escape. I wanted to shine. I wanted glory. Do not misunderstand me. I loved them... but I was selfish... So that, when my mother died, and I was left the responsibility of a damaged sister and a wayward brother, I returned to my village in anger and bitterness. Trapped and wasted, I thought! And then of course, he came..."
— Explanation of Ariana's death[src]

Ariana's brother Albus with his friend Gellert Grindelwald

At some point after Albus became Ariana's guardian, Gellert Grindelwald came to Godric's Hollow to stay with his great-aunt, Bathilda Bagshot, having been kicked out of Durmstrang Institute for his extreme experiments with the Dark Arts. Grindelwald also had a history of violence which Albus chose to ignore when they met. Albus and Gellert quickly became friends, as they were both extraordinarily talented and very ambitious. The two formed a plan to take over the wizarding world and make Muggles subservient "for the greater good".

Aberforth confronted them over these plans, pointing out that Ariana was in no state to be dragged along with them as they pursued their dreams. Grindelwald became furious, insisting that once they subdued the Muggles, there would be no need for Ariana to be hidden. A three-way duel broke out between him, Albus, and Aberforth. Ariana, aged about fourteen at the time and unable to control her magic, tried to stop it, and was inadvertently killed; it was never known which of the three wizards was directly responsible for her death.[6]

Post-mortem

Aberforth Dumbledore: "And Albus was free, wasn't he? Free of the burden of his sister, free to become the greatest wizard of the-"
Harry Potter: "He was never free."
Aberforth Dumbledore: "I beg your pardon?"
Harry Potter: "The night your brother died, he drank a potion that drove him out of his mind.... He thought he was watching Grindelwald hurting you and Ariana... it was torture to him, if you'd seen him then, you wouldn't say he was free."
Aberforth Dumbledore and Harry Potter[src]

Aberforth Dumbledore's portrait of Ariana

Immediately after Ariana's death, Grindelwald fled the scene, fearing retribution from the authorities and losing his friendship with Albus permanently, though it seems they retained some affection towards one another.

At Ariana's funeral, Aberforth grew angry and broke Albus's nose, then vocally blamed him for their sister's death.[8] Aberforth never forgave his brother for his part in her death after that, nor was Albus ever able to forgive himself.[5] Ariana was buried in the same location as her mother in Godric's Hollow, and they shared a gravestone bearing the epitaph, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," selected by Albus.

In the Mirror of Erised, Albus would forever see his family whole and intact with Ariana alive and using magic, although, when questioned, he claimed to see himself holding only a pair of socks he liked. Rita Skeeter wrote a scathing biography of Albus Dumbledore after his death in 1997, and included humiliating false statements about Ariana being a Squib whom the family mistreated.[9]

Harry Potter standing next to Ariana's portrait

A portrait of Ariana hung in Aberforth's room in the Hog's Head Inn in Hogsmeade. It concealed a secret passage to the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts Castle.[6]

Sometime in the 1930s, Albus Dumbledore stood behind his younger sister's portrait while observing his Blood pact.[7]

Later, Dumbledore, looking at Ariana's portrait, explained to Newton Scamander that Ariana was an Obscurial, much like her nephew Credence Barebone. However, unlike Credence, Ariana never learned to express her magic and every time it grew darker, Ariana's magic began to poison her and worst of all, none of her family could ease her pain. Dumbledore explained how Ariana had died during the duel between himself, Aberforth and Grindelwald and Newt suggested that her death may have spared her some pain in a failed attempt to comfort his friend. As a result of having watched Ariana's Obscurial nature slowly poison and kill her, Dumbledore was aware that Credence was also dying.[2]

Ariana leaving her portrait

In 1998, the secret passage behind her portrait appeared only after the students had begun using the Room of Requirement in their efforts to fight the Hogwarts administration under Headmaster Severus Snape. Aberforth told Ariana to open up the passage in order to transport Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley to Hogwarts with Neville Longbottom, and later other members of Dumbledore's Army and the Order of the Phoenix who answered the call to defend the castle against Lord Voldemort's encroaching army.[10]

Physical appearance

Harry Potter thought that Ariana, as an infant, "was a little longer than a loaf of bread and no more distinctive-looking".[9] At the age of fourteen, as depicted in her portrait in the Hog's Head, she was described as "a blonde girl who gazed out at the room with a kind of a vacant sweetness".[6]

Personality and traits

" [...] the flashing lights and the bangs set her off, she couldn't stand it... and I think she wanted to help, but she didn't really know what she was doing, and I don't know which of us did it, it could have been any of us — and she was dead."
Aberforth Dumbledore recalling Ariana's death[src]

Ariana was sweet and kind, but following the attack she suffered at the age of six, she was severely traumatised. Afterwards, she was unable to control her magic. At times, she was mad, strange, and dangerous, according to her brother Aberforth Dumbledore. On these occasions, she could let out her magic in uncontrolled explosions, like the one that killed her mother. Most of the time, however, Ariana was not like this. According to Aberforth when she was calm she would help him feed the goats. She was also brave, as she tried to intercede in the three-way duel between Albus, Aberforth, and Gellert Grindelwald, but was killed in the effort.[6] She was shown to be caring as well, especially for her 'favourite' brother Aberforth, further adding incentive to her stepping in to stop the duel.

Magical abilities and skills

  • Underage magic: Ariana was capable of performing underage magic when she was six years old.[6] However after being attacked by the Mould-on-the-Wold boys for witnessing her perform magic, she lost control of her magic, which became extremely dangerous and unstable,[6] with her becoming an Obscurial.[2]
  • Obscurial: Ariana became an Obscurial after suffering extreme emotional trauma, which resulted in her developing a dark, parasitic energy which was known as an Obscurus.[2] This power was extremely volatile and dangerous, which killed her mother Kendra in an uncontrolled explosion.[6]

Relationships

Parents

Ariana's mother, Kendra

" [...] my father went after the bastards that did it, and attacked them. And they locked him up in Azkaban for it. 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... We had to keep her safe and quiet. We moved house, put it about she was ill, and my mother looked after her, and tried to keep her calm and happy."
Aberforth Dumbledore regarding Percival and Kendra Dumbledore on their love and sacrifice for their only daughter[src]

Ariana's father, Percival

Ariana's parents, Percival and Kendra Dumbledore, were devastated by their daughter's attack. Kendra moved the family to Godric's Hollow and looked after her daughter. Eventually, Ariana accidentally killed her mother in an explosion of uncontrolled magic.[6] Because of this, little is known about their relationship.

Aberforth Dumbledore

"I was her favourite... She liked me best. I could get her to eat when she wouldn't do it for my mother, I could calm her down, when she was in one of her rages, and when she was quiet, she used to help me feed the goats."
Aberforth Dumbledore and his relationship with Ariana[src]

Aberforth, Ariana's brother

Aberforth Dumbledore was Ariana's older and likely favourite brother. After her attack, Aberforth was the only one who could calm her down when she flew into a rage, something even their mother could not accomplish. The two often fed goats together in their free time. Aberforth was not present when Ariana lost control of her magic and accidentally killed their mother.

Long after Ariana's death, Aberforth continued to keep a portrait of his late sister in the Hog's Head Inn. It concealed a secret passage to the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts Castle during the 1997-1998 school year.[6]

Albus Dumbledore

"They say he feared me, and perhaps he did, but less, I think, than I feared him... You see, I never knew which of us, in that last, horrific fight, had actually cast the curse that killed my sister... I dreaded beyond all things the knowledge that it had been I who brought about her death, not merely through my arrogance and stupidity, but that I actually struck the blow that snuffed out her life. I think he knew it, I think he knew what frightened me."
Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter about his guilt over Ariana's death[src]

Albus Dumbledore, Ariana's eldest brother

Albus Dumbledore was Ariana's eldest brother and was not nearly as close to his younger siblings as they were to each other. Although he loved his younger sister, Albus was resentful when he had to take responsibility for her after their mother's death, which forced him to stay at home, and abandon his ambitious plans. When he met Grindelwald, Albus and he made plans to start a revolution and planned to take Ariana with them. However, before this plan could ever be carried out, Ariana was killed when trying to intervene in a duel between Albus, Gellert, and Aberfoth. Ever since then, Albus would live the rest of his life feeling tremondous guilt and remorse for what happened to Ariana.[5]

From then on, Albus's Boggart would be Ariana's corpse. In 1991, Albus Dumbledore told Harry Potter that he saw himself holding a pair of thick, woollen socks when he looked into the Mirror of Erised.[11] However, in truth, he saw "his family alive, whole and happy — Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him". He did not want to admit it to anyone, especially Harry.[12]

Etymology

  • Ariana derives from the Greek name Ariadne, comprised of the elements αρι (ari) "most" and αδνος (adnos) "holy".[13] In Greek mythology, Ariadne was a princess of Crete who helped Theseus slay the Minotaur. The legend revolves around the Labyrinth: a hidden and enclosed location where people were sent to die as tribute. In this way, Ariana's name nods to her secluded, tragic life and death.
  • The name could also originate from the Welsh arian, meaning "silver".

Behind the scenes

Ariana's portrait as depicted in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

The portrait of Ariana as seen in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

  • Hebe Beardsall portrays Ariana Dumbledore in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[14] and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.[15]
  • Although Ariana is identified in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Aberforth does not explain how she died or her back-story as explained in the book. This might be because of that fact that Harry, at that moment, isn't interested in the situation that happened in the past.[16]
  • Harry Potter Film Wizardry states that Ariana died in 1900, and that she was thirteen at the time. This seemingly runs contrary to her age and birth year in the books, perhaps indicating another difference between her character's story in the books and the films.
  • The epitaph on Kendra and Ariana's gravestone, which was made of granite — "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" - is Matthew 6:21 from the Christian Bible. This epitaph, chosen by Albus Dumbledore, is curiously similar to the function of one of Albus Dumbledore's inventions, the Deluminator.
  • In the Harry Potter books Ariana has blonde hair but in the films, she has more of a dark blonde or light brown.
  • In the 2022 movie Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore confirms that Ariana was an Obscurial, just like Credence Barebone. This means that Ariana lived longer than the average Obscurial: Most Obscurials fail to survive past age 10, with the exception of Credence Barebone. It is unknown how much longer Ariana would have lived, had she not been killed in the duel between Albus and Grindelwald.
    • This also means that Ariana being an Obscurial was kept hidden by the Dumbledores; more than thirty years after her death it was widely believed no Obscurial had existed for at least a hundred years (though, since Newt Scamander had recently dealt with one, this is clearly false). However, after seeing her power it is possible that this is what led to Grindelwald searching for Obscurials in 1926, as she must have been very powerful to survive past the age of ten. Therefore, witnessing first-hand the power of Obscurials strong enough to survive longer than normal would doubtlessly make Grindelwald believe that only Obscurials of her calibre could kill her elder brother.
      • Another more confusing part to this is Grindelwald's dismissive attitude of her as Aberforth stated. If he had known her as an Obscurial, he would have doubtlessly been intrigued by her potential and sought to understand her more, considering how he treated Credence, but Aberforth never mentioned Grindelwald having any interest in anyone but Albus. That said, Aberforth was never close to Albus and loathed Grindelwald, so he likely didn't bother to oversee the full extent of which they interacted, meaning it is still possible Grindelwald could have been more interested in her than he thought. Alternatively, as Grindelwald was said to have been willing to take her with him and Albus in their crusade, it's possible he may have, in fact, been aware of her Obscurial powers and possibly sought to train her along with Albus and just never got the chance until she was killed.
    • Ariana being an Obscurial explains why her family worked so hard to keep her hidden, as Obscurials were considered extremely dangerous by the Ministry, and she likely would have been killed, or kept under heavy guard at St Mungo's.
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore also confirms that Credence Barebone is in fact Aurelius Dumbledore. This further justifies why Ariana may have also been an Obscurial, as this may have ran in the Dumbledore family. In addition, Albus pointed out that he felt Ariana was not given as much affection as she needed, which is similar to Credence's case.
  • There are parallels between myth and Ariana's relationship with her two elder brothers, Albus and Aberforth, and their roles in her life and demise. Aberforth represents the heroic character of Theseus, fighting against Albus and Gellert Grindelwald (who function together as the dual-natured Minotaur). Aberforth was the most devoted to his sister, and was also her favourite; Ariadne also takes an instinctive liking to Theseus. As in the Greek myth, Ariana (Ariadne) enables Aberforth (Theseus) to defeat Albus and Gellert (the Minotaur). Additionally, both stories end in tragedy — Theseus betrays and deserts Ariadne on the island of Naxos. Reading Ariana's death through this myth, it can be argued that Aberforth may have cast the fatal blow. Alternately, it could be argued that he either failed or did not attempt to prevent her death. Ultimately, her death exists as a source of conflict between the Dumbledore siblings.

Appearances

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Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore), it is stated that Albus received a letter informing him of Kendra's death shortly after leaving Hogwarts in mid-June 1899, that he befriended Gellert Grindelwald that summer, and that this friendship ended after "barely two months" when Ariana was killed.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror) - "...single large oil painting of a blonde girl who gazed out at the room with a kind of vacant sweetness."
  4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 28
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore - The Complete Screenplay
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  12. MuggleNet transcript of Bloomsbury Webchat
  13. Behind the Name: Ariadne
  14. "Deathly Hallows Casting Updates: Teen Dumbledore Cast, Chris Rankin Returns (Updated)" from The Leaky Cauldron
  15. IMDb favicon.png Hebe Beardsall at the Internet Movie Database
  16. COS forumsdead link
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