‘Dumbledore’s name is mud with the Ministry these days…’
So said Fred in Order of the Phoenix. And the reason Dumbledore’s name was mud? Cornelius Fudge, the then-Minister for Magic himself.
From the moment Fudge turned up to cart Hagrid off to Azkaban in Chamber of Secrets, it was clear he and Dumbledore were not on the same page, but the real line in the sand came when he refused to accept Voldemort’s return after the death of Cedric Diggory. Fudge’s behaviour from then on caused real problems for the wider Wizarding World, and damaged his reputation so severely he was eventually forced to resign. If Fudge had listened to Dumbledore, Voldemort’s Death Eaters may not have escaped Azkaban when they did, and Harry’s version of events would have been believed much earlier, giving him vital support when he needed it.
And Fudge was not the only Ministry official to turn against Dumbledore. His successor, Rufus Scrimgeour, fell out with Dumbledore within hours of his appointment, largely because Dumbledore refused to arrange a meeting between Scrimgeour and Harry. And of course, there was the whole Ministry-interfering-at-Hogwarts thing – otherwise know as Dolores Umbridge – but the less said about that, the better.
Still, as feuds go it was pretty one-sided. Dumbledore repeatedly offered his opinions to the Ministry, and they never took him seriously. But given the damage Fudge in particular wreaked just because he didn’t want to admit Dumbledore was right, it’s up there.
We’re very happy this very sad disagreement didn’t create a lasting rift between Fantastic Beasts’ Queenie Goldstein and her later husband, Jacob Kowalski, but for a while it looked pretty dark. In Crimes of Grindelwald, Queenie was so taken with Gellert Grindelwald’s promises of a better world for witches and wizards that would apparently mean she could be with Jacob – who, as a Muggle, she was forbidden from marrying due to the Magical Congress of the United States of America’s strict rules – that she ended up following Grindelwald, even though that decision ultimately led her away from Jacob. Thankfully she later realised what Grindelwald and his followers were really about, and she and Jacob were eventually married. But it demonstrated just how manipulative Grindelwald could be.
The relationship between Harry and his nearest relatives, the Dursleys, was a festering saga of resentment, dislike and sometimes out-and-out nastiness. Harry was treated badly right from the beginning, and even if we did later get a hint as to why Aunt Petunia harboured such negative feelings towards the Wizarding World, it was never an excuse. Perhaps she felt envious of her sister, Lily, when Lily went off to Hogwarts after she’d been rejected, and perhaps she felt left behind as Lily delighted everyone with magical skills Petunia would never possess, but that envy solidified into something not very pleasant, and it didn’t warrant the serious lack of warmth and welcome Petunia showed her only nephew. They housed him in a cupboard, for goodness’ sake.
But if Petunia was lacking in warmth and welcome, Vernon was something else. Locking Harry in his room, putting bars on his window, threatening to ‘knock the stuffing’ out of him, telling Aunt Marge Harry went to school at St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys. He was relentlessly mean, and he encouraged his son Dudley to be the same.
And yet Dudley was the one Dursley to make at least some attempt to show Harry kindness. Belatedly recognising Harry had saved him from a Dementor, Dudley’s dislike softened to a point where he was actually able to shake Harry’s hand when they said goodbye. It’s not much, but it was a lot more than either of his parents managed.
Proving that family rifts and long-held resentments were just as present in the Wizarding World was Harry’s godfather, Sirius. The rest of Sirius’s family died years before Harry met him, but from what Sirius said, they were a pretty unwelcoming bunch:
So out of place did Sirius feel within his family that he ran away from home at 16 and apparently did not return until he was forced to hide out in Grimmauld Place whilst on the run from the Ministry of Magic. The Blacks may not have forced him to live in a cupboard under the stairs, but Sirius clearly felt just as unwelcome as Harry did in Privet Drive.
Harry’s children didn’t endure the childhood he did, but as his son Albus found in Cursed Child, it was not always easy having the most famous wizard in the Wizarding World as your father. When Albus was placed in Slytherin by the Sorting Hat, it set him apart from the rest of his family – just like it did for Sirius, although their family situations were very different. Also like Sirius, Albus ran away (albeit from the Hogwarts Express rather than his parent’s house). That action sparked a chain of events that almost ended in the re-emergence of Voldemort and the possible erasure of Albus himself, which is quite a consequence to face for being a teenager with something to prove to your father. Luckily, the rift was resolved, with Harry and Albus reconciling as they stood in front of Cedric Diggory’s grave. But the damage it almost caused makes it pretty serious, if you ask us.
Another odd-one-out in his wizarding world family was Percy Weasley. Upright, bossy and sensible to the point of superiority, Percy never shared the easy-going, at times bordering-on-chaotic, attitude possessed by most of the other Weasleys. Still, this wasn’t a major problem until his appointment as Junior Assistant to the Minister for Magic (Cornelius Fudge, of course) bought him into conflict with his family. When his father Arthur suggested Percy’s appointment to that post, barely a year since he’d graduated from Hogwarts, might be because the Ministry wanted to use him to keep tabs on the Weaselys and other Dumbledore associates, he went – as Ron said – berserk.
For Percy to throw his lot in with the Ministry was pretty bad, but the way he did it was even worse. Insulting his father, blasting out his resentments, and ditching his family to such an extent that he even returned his Weasley jumper – well. He may have come round in the end, but he created a lot of turmoil for his family in the meantime.
From Quidditch rivals to sworn enemies, the feud between Harry and Draco started before they even arrived at Hogwarts and lasted well into adulthood. As we saw in Cursed Child they did reach an uneasy truce in later years, but their schooldays were characterised by a bitter rivalry. There were fouls on the Quidditch pitch and pranks in the corridors, there was that disastrous Duelling Club and the time in* Prisoner of Azkaban* when Draco tried to frighten Harry into losing a Quidditch match by dressing up as a Dementor.
And then there were those much more serious occasions: Draco almost ensuring the death of Buckbeak partly to spite Harry; Harry using Sectumsempra on Draco and nearly causing him to bleed to death; Draco and the Inquisitorial Squad holding Harry and the others back when they were frantically trying to reach Sirius in the Department of Mysteries (or so they thought). With all this in mind, we’re impressed they managed to move forward as adults and at least be civil to each other.
Another schoolboy feud with serious consequences was Harry’s father James’ ongoing rivalry with Harry’s teacher, Severus Snape, whilst they were both at Hogwarts. Somehow we can’t imagine these two being civil to each other as adults.
Like Draco and Harry, the rivalry between Snape and James began early and lasted a long time. So long, in fact, that Snape was unable to stop himself projecting his dislike of James onto his son, Harry. And that was despite the love Snape also felt for Harry’s mother, Lily.
Because that was at the heart of this rivalry, even if it wasn’t spoken aloud. Snape could never have liked James because he loved Lily, and James didn’t help the situation by making his own dislike of Snape just as clear. There was hexing, there was name-calling, and there was a moment with the Whomping Willow that almost cost Snape his life. Good thing they weren’t Quidditch rivals too, right?
This relationship could have been so different, but when Grindelwald deserted Dumbledore after driving a wedge between him and his family which, in one way or another, caused the death of his sister Ariana, there was no going back. And in the years after, as Grindelwald began his rise to power and Dumbledore could no longer ignore the fact that his old friend’s desire to set wizardkind above Muggles served no “greater good”, that personal betrayal became something much more.
These two might have started out on a similar page but they ended up literally duelling to the finish for vastly different ideals. Dumbledore famously won, but the rift between them must have cost him a great deal.
It was the feud to end all feuds, so it had to be our number one. From the moment Voldemort first tried to kill Harry as a baby to Harry’s final defeat of Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, there were so many moments of bitter, hate-filled rivalry, as well as few glimpses of understanding. Like the prophecy said, neither could live while the other survived. There was only one way it was ever going to end.