Spoiler alert: This article contains minor spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
In the second Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald, we get to know Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), as well as her family history. Obviously, Harry Potter fans are aware of the Lestrange bloodline thanks to Bellatrix, although if fans remember, Bellatrix married into the Lestrange family. Regardless, something happens to Leta at the end of The Crimes of Grindelwald.
At the beginning of The Secrets of Dumbledore, Leta is quickly mentioned, and of course, we can feel her absence. Before this film, Leta was Theseus’s wife and Newt’s best friend, so the fact that Zoë wasn’t in the third movie after being central to the second was noticeable. So what exactly happened to Leta Lestrange before the third Fantastic Beasts?
We learn about Leta Lestrange’s past in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.’
In The Crimes of Grindelwald, we finally understand a bit more about who Credence really is. There’s a rumor that he is Leta’s long lost brother, Corvus V Lestrange, but only Leta knows the truth, which is so shame-inducing that she keeps it a secret as long as possible. Eventually, we learn the truth about Leta’s family history, which connects her directly to a major character in The Secrets of Dumbledore, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam).
Basically, Leta’s mother, Laurena Kama, was stolen and raped by Leta’s father, Corvus Lestrange IV. Laurena died soon after Leta’s birth, and the Kama family swore an Unbreakable Vow of vengeance against Corvus IV. When Leta and her infant half-brother, Corvus V were brought to the United States, Leta was so fed up with the infant’s crying that she secretly switched him with another infant.
As it turned out, the switched baby was Credence, or Aurelius Dumbledore. Corvus V perished when the ship sank. Yusuf wanted to attack Credence in The Crimes of Grindelwald to avenge his family, but when he learned the truth, his motives changed.
Leta Lestrange sacrificed herself to the cause against the dark arts.
Leta always had a complicated childhood. From switching her infant half-brother with another child and feeling responsible for her half-brother’s death to getting bullied and sorted into Slytherin, Leta was a well of secrets. Growing up, Newt Scamander was her only ally, in an unlikely friendship that mirrored that of Severus Snape and Lily Potter’s.
As Leta grew up, she grew into herself and married Newt’s older brother, Theseus, despite Newt’s clear love for Leta. At the end of The Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta distracts Grindelwald to give Theseus, Newt, Tina, Jacob, Yusuf, and Nigini time to get away from Grindelwald’s grip. In doing so, she is incinerated by Grindelwald’s flames of dark magic. It’s an act of sacrifice fueled by her love for the Scamander brothers — she even mouths “I love you” to both of them as she dies.
However, it’s also an act of freedom from her sins. Leta has spent her entire life trying to make up for her part in Corvus V’s death, and she still feels the shame. By sacrificing herself for a good cause, she frees herself of the guilt, the shame, and the sin.
In The Secrets of Dumbledore, Leta is actually barely mentioned. One would think that Theseus and Newt would be grieving at least a little more, but Theseus also has his eye on the prize of defeating Grindelwald; perhaps his sole purpose is to now avenge her death. Newt is finally ready to take charge and work to defeat Grindelwald. And Yusuf Kama feels the same way.
So while the heart of Leta’s death isn’t really felt in The Secrets of Dumbledore, it does very easily explain the motives of many of the film’s characters. The third film posits that what happened to Leta is tragic, but it was necessary.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore releases in theaters across the United States on April 15.