"...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]

The Duel at Godric's Hollow was a three-way duel that took place in 1899 between brothers Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore and the future Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. It resulted in the death of the Dumbledores' fourteen-year-old sister, Ariana. After Ariana's death, Grindelwald fled Britain.


Background information


Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald

Gellert Grindelwald, who was a talented student in Durmstrang, had been expelled for his very dangerous experiments about Dark Arts. He decided to stay with his great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot. Bathilda knew Albus Dumbledore was a talented boy, too so she met Grindelwald with Albus Dumbledore. They liked each other, they were intelligent, talented, and they wanted to rule Muggles with their magic. They decided to search for the Deathly Hallows, which could make them invincible. While Albus was getting ready, his brother Aberforth said that he can't leave his little sister Ariana.

The duel

Ariana Dumbledore Hog's Head

Ariana Dumbledore

When Aberforth confronted his brother Gellert lost control, displaying the 'darker side' of his nature that Albus had always attempted to ignore or deny. He attacked Aberforth, using the Cruciatus Curse on him. This resulted in Albus stepped in, attempting to defend his younger brother and stop the two fighting. This intervention subsequently turned into a three-way duel between Albus, Aberforth and Gellert.

As the struggle progressed, it grew ever more fierce, and what is likely to have begun as an attempt of disarming or neutralisation quickly changed into an all out battle. While they failed to hit each other, Ariana Dumbledore, who had witnessed the duel, was killed by a stray curse. Although Grindelwald fled, fearing retribution, none of the three participants actually knew who had cast the fatal curse.


Grindelwald ran away from Godric's Hollow, fled Britain and started the search for the Deathly Hallows alone. Albus and Aberforth had guilty conscience for their sister's death, especially Albus. Aberforth charged this death to his brother. They had a funeral for her. During the funeral, Aberforth broke Albus's nose. For ninety-eight years afterward, the results of this duel haunted Albus. He never knew who had in fact uttered the curse that had killed his sister. This had produced fear in Dumbledore, causing him to take forty-six years to finally stop Grindelwald, though this was also a result of their blood pact.

Decades later, in limbo, Dumbledore explained to Harry Potter what had led up to the duel, and Harry, out of sensitivity, did not ask if he had ever learned the direct cause of Ariana's death.

Behind the scenes

  • Curiously, Dumbledore and Grindelwald's blood pact must have been made after the three-way duel, since otherwise it would have been broken during said duel, but this is queer since Albus and Grindelwald fell out because of this duel and would not have trusted one another sufficiently. However, it is possible that losing Ariana was the punishment for violating the pact, as the cause of her death is never revealed.