Khaytman on Dumbledore, Ch 2

Further reflections spurred by reading The Life and Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore by Irvin Khaytman.

In his Chamber of Secrets chapter, Irvin goes over what it means for Dumbledore that he first realizes during this volume that Voldemort’s Dark Magic included making a Horcrux, and in fact, perhaps more than one Horcrux, “which I do not believe any other wizard has ever had” (as he recounts in HBP).

Even though I’ve known since 2006 that the diary from CoS was Dumbledore’s first evidence that Voldemort made a Horcrux at all, let alone multiple Horcruxes, I never thought about what that meant from Dumbledore’s perspective until now.  It took Irvin’s book to make me think about it.  I had a series of “ah-ha” moments.

Of course.  It must have been huge.  It was the last great secret mission of Dumbledore’s life.

OH.  Hallows versus Horcruxes, the false dichotomy that Dumbledore set up for Harry in DH, was not Harry’s struggle at all.  It was only Dumbledore’s.  Harry wouldn’t have been tempted by the Hallows; he never saw himself as a child of destiny.  Dumbledore knew himself to be one.  It was Dumbledore who, presented with the only artifact that was both a Hallow AND a Horcrux, responded to it as a Hallow and…

OH.  Jeez.  I never thought until now about why JKR made that one Hallow also a Horcrux, and none of the other Hallows or Horcruxes held that dual role.  It was a test.  How do you see this object?  You were supposed to see it as a Voldemort Horcrux, treat it with caution, strengthen yourself and destroy it.  Dumbledore saw it as a Hallow and grabbed for it, his greed overriding a lifetime of wisdom.  *loud rude buzzer sound*  NOPE.  NOT WORTHY.  Slow death for YOU, Mr. Dumbledore, sir!  Unworthy, unworthy.

He didn’t want the Stone to keep it from others to use for harm.  He wanted it for himself, to relieve his guilts and to aggrandize his magical power.  WRONG, Mr. Dumbledore.  *Horcrux curse explodes*

He was given a bit of extra life, long enough to last out the year, because he was working to impart knowledge to Harry and keep others from harm, not trying to stay alive for his own selfish reasons to outsmart Death.  Thanks to the skill of Snape, who has been staying alive for unselfish reasons since Lily and James died.

OH.  Wow.  Before Dumbledore destroyed the Horcrux with the sword of Gryffindor, did that bit of Voldemort’s soul try to talk to him?  What might it have said?  How might Dumbledore have overcome it?

*possibly spoilers/speculation about Crimes of Grindelwald movie below*


I think Voldemort, who’s about to be born shortly after the end of the first Fantastic Beasts film, tried to further whatever Dark Magic Grindelwald mastered.

Grindelwald wants to harness the power of an Obscurus, but nobody has successfully separated an Obscurus from its Obscurial and kept it alive, and as we see from Grindelwald’s showdown with Credence in the subway tunnel, it’s really difficult to control a power when it’s inconveniently attached to a living being with their own will.  (Like Dumbledore reporting surprise that Voldemort chose Nagini to hold part of his soul.  Not optimal.)  We also see from that showdown that there’s some sort of super-strength in an Obscurial, since it seemed like the Aurors destroyed Credence, yet he somehow survived.  We also know that JKR is presenting Obscuri as a sort of allegory for the power of splitting the atom.

We know that Horcruxes are formed by casting a spell when someone splits their soul by killing another person.

I don’t know if Grindelwald eventually gave up on Obscuri and tried to make a Horcrux, but I suspect that Voldemort studied Grindelwald’s problems with Obscuri and decided that Voldemort, greatest of all wizards in his own opinion, would not outsource this all-important operation but sacrifice part of himself, generate power by splitting a part of himself off his core rather than trying to harness the power of an Obscurus.

Nagini! Thoughts on Horcruxes, Possession, and Dark Magic

Warning:  This discussion gets dark.  (I mean, this whole series is dark.  And it certainly looks as if the Fantastic Beasts series, freed of any concerns about being intended “for children,” is going to go darker.  But yes, this discussion gets dark.)

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the final trailer for the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:  The Crimes of Grindelwald revealed that Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, was a Maledictus:  a human woman born with a blood curse, inherited through the maternal line, that doomed her to turn eventually into an animal.

Rowling announced via tweet that she had been keeping quiet about this backstory for Nagini for “around twenty years.”  She described the ethnic context of the Nagini character in a different tweet:  “The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi.”

Some fans were repelled at the darkness of a storyline in which a human woman becomes a snake who is beheaded by Neville Longbottom; some expressed skepticism that Rowling could have come up with such a backstory for Nagini 20 years ago.  But this is not the first time we have seen such a dark ending for a being possessed by Voldemort or part of his soul.  In fact, this is a standard outcome for anyone Voldemort possesses, in whole or in part.

On pages 653-656 of Goblet of Fire (U.S. edition), Voldemort addresses the Death Eaters and discusses what powers he had while he was bodiless in the forest:

“Only one power remained to me.  I could possess the bodies of others.  […]  My possession of them shortened their lives; none of them lasted long…”

Of Quirrell, he said, “I took possession of his body…  The servant died when I left his body.”

He explained that once Wormtail offered his services, “Wormtail was able to follow the instructions I gave him, which would return me to a rudimentary, weak body of my own, a body I would be able to inhabit while awaiting the essential ingredients for true rebirth…”

We know that for most of Goblet of Fire, Voldemort resides in a rudimentary body the same size and shape as a baby.  He stays in that form, small and weak, until he can obtain ingredients for a magic potion that includes the maternal nurturing from Lily Potter’s blood protection of Harry, which enables him to grow to adult size.  All of the other ingredients are readily available to him; that’s the only one he lacks.  Until he has it, he remains in his rudimentary and stunted form, all year.

We know from the diary Horcrux’s possession of Ginny that Voldemort, even a fraction of him, could draw life out of the person he possesses and take them over.  Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, Sirius, and Hermione were all afraid that Voldemort would start to use the scar connection with Harry to possess Harry, and the only time Harry ever heard Dumbledore sound frightened was at the Ministry battle in Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort possessed Harry and tried to goad Dumbledore into attacking him and thereby killing Harry.

In the Forbidden Forest in Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry learns that Voldemort drinks unicorn blood to stay alive, Firenze tells him that “it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn…  You have slain something pure and defenseless.”

Rowling has never revealed exactly how Voldemort got himself into corporeal form at the beginning of Goblet of Fire.  She said in interview:  “There are two things that I think are too horrible, actually, to go into detail about. One of them is how Pettigrew brought Voldemort back into a rudimentary body. ‘Cause I told my editor what I thought happened there, and she looked as though she was gonna vomit.”

Combined with the original crime at the heart of the HP series, Voldemort’s attempt to kill a baby, it seems reasonable to guess that Voldemort stole a body by possessing a human infant, kidnapped for him by Wormtail.  The infant didn’t die during the year of GoF, since it seems that Voldemort leaves the bodies of beings he possesses if they die.  So the original human infant within that body either still lived and was overpowered by Voldemort’s stronger personality, or became subsumed into Voldemort’s self, perhaps gradually to disappear or become indistinguishable.  Perhaps once Voldemort rebirthed himself in the cauldron and arose as an adult, the infant body and soul died; that would be a more merciful fate than the possibility that some vestige of the original infant lives on within Voldemort.

Which leads us to the question of whether or not Neville Longbottom, in the Battle of Hogwarts, actually beheaded a human woman.  And I would think that the answer is no.  Based on the glimpses we get into Nagini’s thoughts, her urges to strike in Order of the Phoenix or her advanced acting as Bathilda Bagshot in Deathly Hallows, it seems that by the time she is a Horcrux, Nagini is very much a magical form of snake, no longer thinking like a human.

On page 506 of Half-Blood Prince (U.S. edition), Dumbledore tells Harry that he thinks Nagini is a Horcrux.   Harry asks, startled, “You can use animals as Horcruxes?”  Dumbledore replies that it’s inadvisable “because to confide a part of your soul to something that can think and move for itself is obviously a very risky business.”  We know that this is a set-up for the eventual revelation that Harry is an unintended Horcrux, but this also resonates with some themes from the first Fantastic Beasts movie.

There are similarities between Horcruxes and Obscuri.  An Obscurus is a semi-sentient entity that cannot survive independent of its human host; the burden of having an Obscurus kills most Obscurials in childhood.  Newt Scamander is the first person to successfully separate an Obscurus from its Obscurial, keeping it protected in a magical container, which is perhaps similar to the container for a Horcrux or the enchanted bubble around Nagini.

The ability to isolate an Obscurus is of great interest to Grindelwald, who would like an Obscurus to use as a weapon without the pesky inconvenience of fighting the will of the host Obscurial; Credence, for example, proves to be obstinate in resisting Grindelwald’s exploitation.  We know that Voldemort was the first wizard to make more than one Horcrux and that he invented Dark Magic more advanced than any wizard before him.  My guess is that Grindelwald may eventually conclude that it is impossible to harness an Obscurus for himself.  He may turn to Horcruxes as an alternate way of splitting off and containing power, but if he succeeds in making a Horcrux at all, we know it will not be more than one.  This would set the stage for Voldemort to go further than other Dark wizards by embracing the Horcrux strategy wholly, depending only on himself, as Voldemort does, considering himself powerful enough to sacrifice segments of his own soul without loss of power.

But the more Voldemort splits his soul, the more unstable he becomes, which results in his final two soul fragments being encased in living beings.  By the time he goes to create the sixth and final intended Horcrux, he fails to generate the requisite energy by splitting his soul through murder, and he accidentally creates a sort of Horcrux without even noticing.  How embarrassing.  By the time he creates the Nagini Horcrux, he is desperate and settles for this unstable container.

As seems to happen every time Rowling releases new information about Potterverse, many fans object to this expansion of Nagini’s story.  Some argue that it is disturbing to think that Nagini, the human Maledictus portrayed by Claudia Kim, may have joined Voldemort as a sort of slave or lover.  But based on what we see of the Voldemort-Nagini relationship, it seems clear that he has positioned her as a surrogate mother.  In the opening chapter of Goblet of Fire, Voldemort and Wormtail enact a ghastly parody of Hagrid carrying baby Harry to the Dursley home, and Voldemort instructs Wormtail to “milk” Nagini so he can drink snake venom from a baby bottle during the night.  In a book about adolescent metamorphosis, in which Voldemort suffers uncontrollable physical conditions and then rebirths himself at the tomb of the parent he murdered, it is easy to imagine that he might repudiate the memory of the “weak” mortal mother who abandoned him by dying and reinvent himself as the offspring of a magical beast.

Many fans have seemed to resist the human Maledictus backstory for Nagini, but perhaps this is primarily an initial reaction of horror at the darkness of the story.  Rowling has been working up to hereditary blood curses for a while; they played a significant part in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and they are characterized by inevitability and blamelessness.  They fit well into the general Potterverse concept of Dark Magic as harm that strengthens over time (as with the curse that withered Dumbledore’s hand).  Perhaps this kind of hereditary blood curse is too dark for a children’s series, but not too dark for a PG-13 film series for adults about the evil and hate that led to World War II.

Background Remarks: Grindelwald, Fantastic Beasts, and Gay Representation

Note:  This was how I introduced a discussion session about gay representation in Potterverse at MISTI-Con.  These remarks were meant to provide general background only and to get the conversation started, not to be analytical or comprehensive.  — LK

Delivered Saturday, May 21, 2017 at MISTI-Con.


Twenty years since Philosopher’s Stone was first published.  Seven books in the series, eight movies, three tie-in books, a stage play, and now a new film series.  Hundreds of characters.  And how many of them are identified as gay in canon?  Add in extra-canonical author comments, and the total rises to one.

How is it that the Potterverse, created by a woman who must know people of all sexual orientations, who has tweeted her support of LGBTQ people, is more heteronormative than the world at large to such an extreme degree?  Within Harry Potter canon, when Rowling has shown her characters to have any sexual orientation, it has been heterosexual.  Homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, any type of queerness — she simply has not named it.  Even if we take the lowest commonly accepted estimate, that 1.5% of the population is gay, that’s still a higher percentage than what Rowling has chosen to show.

She made headlines ten years ago with her unplanned announcement that Dumbledore is gay.  On the one hand, the way Rowling got hundreds of millions of people worldwide to love the humanity of a fictional character and then identified him as gay, as just one more aspect of his personhood, is exactly how to combat homophobia and reduce prejudice.  On the other hand, when you identify your one gay character casually, in an author appearance and not your official text, making it clear that you created gay characters but chose to keep that information off the page, that is a textbook case of marginalization rather than representation.

There’s a school of thought that holds that the author’s intent or personal background are not important for determining the meaning of a piece of writing.  Many within HP fandom have drawn strength from this stance to mold Potterverse to their own needs; many choose to ignore Rowling’s extra-canonical comments about the series, say they wish she would stop talking about closed canon and let it stand on its own, and form headcanons that they protect from contradictory author statements.  For example, some fans have spectacular headcanons about Professor McGonagall belonging to the powerful tradition of lesbian educators, and maintain these headcanons regardless of the heteronormative, celibate backstory that Rowling gave her on Pottermore.

This stance of selectively ignoring the author is useful, but it takes effort to maintain, because after all, the author is very much alive and still creating.  She is a cisgender white heterosexual woman, British, married, Christian, a mother, originally middle class, gifted — and the closer her stories stick to terrain that she knows, the more authoritative her writing feels.

For example, when she writes of Aunt Petunia’s kitchen, or interviews, or the dynamics of Hermione, Lavender, and Parvati beaming falsely at one another, people familiar with such scenes report a sense of deep recognition.  Her writing has a flatter affect when it’s about things less central to her experience:  Harry’s classmate Anthony Goldstein, for example, has the one acknowledged Jewish surname in Potter, with no identifying character traits of any sort, creating an effect of tokenism, of name-checking without depth.  Now that this surname has resurfaced in a World War II-era setting, we shall see how confident we feel about Rowling’s ability to write Jewish American witches with nuance.

When she has written people of color, sometimes the results have ranged from off-base to hurtful to harmful.  Cho Chang, Angelina Johnson — more instances of tokenism.  Tamela J. Ritter has a talk tomorrow about some of the hurtful implications of Rowling’s appropriation of elements of Native American religion and culture for her Ilvermorny backstory.  I love the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I did wince at the representation of blackness in 1920s New York — a jazz singer who is a goblin rather than human, an executioner with a distinct mammy vibe.  Rowling, and the people involved closely in the making of this film, did not flag these things as uncomfortable, but they made me tense up:  after Rowling’s faux pas with the Ilvermorny backstory, I didn’t know how much I could trust a Rowling film to handle the complexities of American race politics.

I argue that a “death of the author” approach is not going to work for Potter fans engaging with new Fantastic Beasts output.  It’s understandable that we might wish for it anyway:  it’s uncomfortable to be constantly in the position of worrying that we may find wrong notes that we may have to forgive or ignore in our desire to remain fannish about something that has given us so much.  We may be afraid, too, of being judged if we didn’t notice something that others find hurtful.  For the record, I do not believe that there’s moral superiority in either boycotting or remaining within a fandom after troubling output from a creator.  It just…is, a series of decisions.  I saw Rowling misuse a word of Asian origin in a racist manner, I winced, and I stayed.  And I track her progress with each new work:  Has she heard the feedback?  Has she grown?

To be aware of the author is an enjoyable analytical pastime, and it is also self-protective to be prepared:  based on prior evidence, what do I expect of this author?  Should I keep my expectations low on some fronts?  Should I steel myself?

So what are we to think when this author, who has never written canonically about a Potterverse character being gay, gives us Graves drawing physically close to Credence in a shadowy side street?

There were references to homophobia and same-sex anxiety within the Potter series, occasionally.  Dudley mocked Harry’s nightmares with wording that suggests a terrifying gaybashing:  “Don’t kill Cedric!  Who’s Cedric?  Your boyfriend?”  Infuriatingly, Rita Skeeter called Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry “unhealthy, even sinister”:  “there is no question that Dumbledore took an unnatural interest in Potter from the word go.  Whether that was really in the boy’s best interests — well, we’ll see.”  Without ever naming Dumbledore as gay in canon, here, Rowling conveyed the insidiousness of the prejudices that many homophobes level at gay teachers.

A form of that implicitly gay-related anxiety from Deathly Hallows reappears in Fantastic Beasts.  Rita Skeeter’s insinuations were pure hatemongering — there is plenty to say about the Dumbledore-Harry relationship, but it stings to think of it maligned from that angle.  But that is the dynamic we see Graves invoking with Credence. We know his true interest in Credence is neither personal nor sexual, but he was using the narrative of the sexually abusive predator as a cover for a motive that is, almost unbelievably, even more exploitative.

Fantastic Beasts puts a new angle on the Dumbledore story from Deathly Hallows.  We knew Dumbledore desired Grindelwald, but not whether Grindelwald felt the same or only manipulated Dumbledore’s attraction for ulterior motives.  Grindelwald’s scenes with Credence give us an up-close look at the dynamic.  From the information in Deathly Hallows, it had appeared that Grindelwald wanted Dumbledore’s company in subjugating the world, and Ariana would be an afterthought; we know now to suspect that Ariana was Grindelwald’s target after all.  He never resumed contact with Albus after Ariana’s death.  We don’t know if it was because of guilt and fear or because Albus without an Obscurial was of no use to him.

We don’t know Grindelwald’s orientation, but he was sensitive to male-male attraction and comfortable with encouraging it.  Even without being named, then, male-male attraction exists in the Fantastic Beasts universe.  We see a hint that the nonjudgmental Queenie has matter-of-fact knowledge of it, as well:  she tells Jacob that “Most guys think what you was thinking, first time they see me.”

Do we read Credence as gay, or would this lonely wizard have responded to attention from anyone?  It seems probable that Grindelwald knows enough Legilimency to know that attraction would be one of the ways to hook Credence, as well as promises of education and special attention.  To add layers to this reading, the abuse from Mary Lou Barebone could easily read as an attack on homosexuality rather than magic.  She calls Credence’s birth mother “wicked” and “unnatural,” words associated with antigay rhetoric as well as witch hunts.  Her command of “Take it off” to Credence, followed by the ritual of him removing his belt, gives a horrific sexualized tone to the punishment.

The secret meetings with Graves, the repressive abuse from the parent — these images and emotions are evocative of experience with homophobia.  The film uses gay people’s experience to create a metaphor and draw emotional impact from those associations.  To me, it feels oddly outdated and possibly misleading for Fantastic Beasts to centralize this dynamic so heavily without grounding it in context by naming gayness and showing matter-of-fact gay characters.

Even 10 to 20 years ago, it felt curious to me that Rowling chose to reveal no canonically gay characters in her encyclopedic universe, when that ground had already been broken in YA lit, and she was in a position to dictate rather than follow rules within publishing.  I felt frustrated to see Rowling use timeworn tactics such as coding to signal that some characters could, if knowing readers chose, be read as gay, such as the infatuated Dumbledore or the short-haired, pipe-smoking Grubbly-Plank.  Some readers have speculated that Rowling held back from identifying Potterverse characters as gay because the series was meant for an underage audience.  Putting aside, for the moment, how misguided that strategy would have been, if true — the Fantastic Beasts series is targeted to an adult market.  Subversive literary coding of gay characters has been essential in more oppressive times and places, but I confess that I grow impatient.  Is it too much to ask that the remaining films in the series include realistic LGBTQ representation?  What do you think?

Let’s open this up for discussion.  What are some of your thoughts on gay representation in Fantastic Beasts and Potterverse?  Where do you think the rest of the series will go?  What do you hope to see?


The Obscurus in Potterverse and BBC Sherlock

This 5-minute talk was presented at a panel about the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at 221B Con, April 9, 2017.

Newt Scamander says about what’s in his case:  “Please don’t hurt those creatures—there is nothing in there that is dangerous.”

What do we know about how Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald?  We know it wasn’t by force.  We know he hoped, for the rest of his life, that Grindelwald felt remorse for his Unforgivable crimes.

Newt’s words about the Obscurus, separated from the Sudanese girl who was its Obscurial, hint at what Dumbledore might have done.  Without a host, the Obscurus is harmless, defenseless.  It does not deserve to be destroyed.  We have seen this before.  Not only in Ariana, but also the flayed baby in King’s Cross.  As Hermione tells Harry about an adult Death Eater with a baby’s head:  “You can’t hurt a baby!”

Dumbledore knew he had a chance of reaching Grindelwald’s vulnerability, the part of him that, like Credence, is frightened by himself and his murders.  I’m guessing that the kindness that Newt shows to the Obscurus is related to how Dumbledore reached Grindelwald.  It’s how Snape and Dumbledore saved Draco, Snape with his healing song after Sectumsempra and Dumbledore with his merciful offer of refuge for Draco and his family, when Draco believed he was beyond help.  Dumbledore’s offer tells Draco:  It is not too late.  You are worth saving.  Harry sees Draco lower his wand and “the tiniest drop of pity mingled with his dislike.”  That drop is enough for Harry to recognize that Draco is a fellow creature who does not deserve to be destroyed, just as the small amount of Harry’s blood was enough to render Voldemort susceptible to empathy.

Newt couldn’t save one Obscurial.  That strengthens his resolve to save Credence.  This is like Dumbledore unable to reach Tom Riddle but wiser for that failure, accepting the agonized Snape rather than attacking him.  Dumbledore trains Harry to confront Voldemort because Harry may be the only person Voldemort has connected with enough to possibly show him his fear.

The words to that vulnerable terror go:  “I’m scaring myself with what I’ve done.  Help me.  Stop me.  Contain me.”  That’s what Credence asks of Graves, who violates that trust and abuses him.  But Dumbledore did respond in good faith to Snape, Snape to both Draco and Harry after Harry casts Sectumsempra.  When Voldemort hunts down Harry Potter, forbidding anyone else to kill Harry, and sits forlornly in the clearing in the forest, saying, “I thought he would come.  I expected him to come,” he’s asking for the same thing.  When Harry offers him the opportunity to feel remorse, he gives Voldemort the choice to be seen, stopped, contained.  Voldemort decides it’s too late and chooses to gamble on Avada Kedavra rather than experience the pain of remorse, but Harry set up that choice for him.

So let’s talk about Sherlock, and the sister who was frightened by her own destructive power.

Eurus said:  “Every time I close my eyes, I’m on the plane.  I’m lost, lost in the sky, and no one can hear me.”

By age five, she had killed and no one could stop her.  No one could even find the evidence.  Prisons cannot hold her; she roams on buses, to 221B, to therapist offices.  Like Credence, she could control her Obscurus, to some degree; she just doesn’t want to.

She had to recall Sherlock from exile.  It was useless to reach out to her parents; her mother wouldn’t wake up and her father wasn’t even on the same plane.  Moriarty is dead; Mycroft has no mercy; Sherlock is her last hope.  She reprograms her prison and reproduces her original crime so she can return to being five and beg Sherlock to find her, save her soul, stop her, contain her.  Once she gets her wish, her Obscurus subsides.  She stops talking, she stops killing people, she stops breaking out.

Sherlock’s kindness to her is like Newt’s to the Obscurus.  One can understand Mycroft’s proposal to let the girl land the plane in the water.  She is, after all, an unstoppable criminal.  There’s mercy for Mycroft here, too; no one but Sherlock Holmes can contain this era-defining genius.  It’s a good touch that when she overpowers Mycroft, she doesn’t kill him; she just locks him in her cell, as Dumbledore did to Grindelwald.  “I could kill you, but I’d rather you learn how you made others feel” — that’s a mainstay of Potterverse, that empathy can both save your soul and be your punishment.

Serial murders are Unforgivables.  Dumbledore doesn’t have to forgive Grindelwald, and Sherlock doesn’t have to forgive Eurus.  But if they recognize that even an Obscurus is a fantastic beast worth protecting, they can help save people’s souls by helping them feel, however painful that may be.  That’s what Eurus asked for.  That’s why Sherlock, who is not even gifted compared to Eurus — an “idiot” — succeeded in containing her:  because she asked him.

“I’m in the plane, and I’m going to crash.  And you’re going to save me.”

“I can bring you home.”

“It’s too late now.”

“Open your eyes.  I’m here.  You’re not lost anymore.”  They change how the story ends.  Eurus has essentially built a Time-Turner and brought Sherlock back with her.  This time, he has grown enough to find her, and she tells him how to save his friend.  I think both Newt and Sherlock listen when Obscurials ask, and respond with kindness and containment.  Dumbledore couldn’t save his own sister, but I wonder if that’s what he did for Grindelwald.