It is the year after the Battle of Hogwarts. School is starting again. And the thestrals are confused by all of the attention they are getting.
WHY IS THIS NOT A THING I’VE CONSIDERED?
No. NO. Sit the fuck down, we’re going to talk about this.
The year after the Battle of Hogwarts. Students nervously climbing into the carriages (no first years, thank god, no one wants to think about that) and eyeing the creatures in front of them. Is this some sort of stunt? Like a memorial?
Hagrid showing the fifth years the thestrals. He wonders if he should, if this is asking too much, but he thinks it would be wrong to keep the truth from them. There are more in the class who can see them than those who can’t.
He wakes to a knock on his door after nightfall. For a second he thinks it’s those three again, but no, that’s not right. He shuffles to the door, holding Fang down behind him, and finds a wide-eyed second year on his doorstep. They came to ask about the horses.
Hagrid isn’t one to turn someone away, so he ushers the child inside and puts the kettle on. He explains they’re not quite horses. They’re gentle creatures, really. Yes, you have to…you have to have seen things to see them, too. But they wouldn’t do anyone harm.
Can he see them? Why, yes, he can, has for the longest time. Ever since his Dad…ever since…
Hagrid stops for a moment, unable to speak. But the child at his table waits patiently, understanding. This is not the first time they have heard someone’s voice catch on the words. It’s reassuring, somehow, hearing an adult share the same problem.
They drink a pot of tea before Hagrid sees the kid back to the school, Fang loping along beside them. It’s reassuring to have these two massive, almost comical forms tromping to the front door. Safe.
Hagrid warns not to go out after dark again. If you want to visit, come along any time in the day.
The next time he opens his door, there are three. Third years, this time. They know a little more, more than they ought to, he thinks. Makes him feel nostalgic.
He sits them down as before and has a long talk. They’re less open, keep glancing at each other as they speak, but he can see they have questions. It’s just a matter of waiting them out.
This goes on for weeks. Hagrid sees a steady stream of students at his door until he’s sure at least half the school has walked across his mat at some point. One day McGonagall approaches him and suggests a change in the curriculum. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to move a few things up on the syllabus? If he’s willing, of course.
Hagrid leads more students into the forest. He sees their faces, eyes wide with fear, as they see the creatures in the light of day. He patiently explains that they’re quiet animals, don’t much like a lot of noise. Easier to manage, certainly. That’s why they pull the school carriages.
He finds taking them once isn’t enough. Students keep asking to see the thestrals. Bewildered, he takes them back again and again, watching as the kids sidle up to stroke the long, black wings. They hold out bits of meat to the sharp beaks and whisper calming words under their breath.
Gradually, the looks of fear subside into something else. More than once he hears someone say these things are all right. Kids show up at his doorstep to ask about what he does and what kinds of animals he’s seen. Someone even says they might like to be a teacher like he is someday.
He doesn’t know what to say to that. His eyes glisten and he makes a sound like a trumpet as he blows his nose. He hears a giggle when he knocks over the umbrella stand with his elbow.
Things have changed, he thinks. He leads children into the forest because they ask, not because they’ve been punished. Students are clambering to get into his classes when it used to be seen as a last resort. People don’t stare up at him with suspicion or fear when he walks the halls these days.
They aren’t afraid of monsters anymore. They fear the people who become them.