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Meeting in the Woods

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The forbidden forest looked alluring. The dark green of the leaves and brown of the tree trunks spelled her name. The wind urged her to move forward. Luna didn’t know what it was that drew her to the forest, but she’d always followed her intuition and today wasn’t different. The closer she got the faster she ran. The open field disappeared behind her, hidden by the trees, and Luna stood still.

A dead bird lay on the ground. Its blood spilled on the earth. She walked closer to the animal. “Poor thing, who would do something like that to someone as beautiful as you”. As she moved closer she was startled by ruffling bushes not far from where she stood. “Who’s there?” The question remained unanswered. “Who’s there?” The girl repeated, starting to get scared. Another minute passed without anything happening. ‘It was probably nothing,’ Luna told herself and turned around.

Heavy breathing coming from the bush made Luna spin around. A horse - no, not a horse - came out of its hiding spot. Thin black skin covered its flesh and skeleton. Barely succeeding in the latter. Big leather wings sprung from the animal’s back and brushed the trees surrounding the creature. As it came closer Luna could see the thick dark hairs forming its tail.

Taking ragged breaths, the girl stood frozen. Eyes on the not-horse, trying to figure out what it was. Luna’s breathing stopped completely when the animal stood only centimeters away from her. The Ravenclaw could see the flanks of the animal move up and down. Slowly breathing heavy breaths that Luna could feel and made her skin tingle.

Without fully knowing why, Luna moved her hand up. Her fingers almost touching the animal. She looked the creature in the eyes - although it didn’t have any pupils to see with. In that clear white, where she had expected to see nothing, Luna saw a spark. A spark of life. And she saw the animal for what it was: beautiful. Her hand reached out, only wavering for a second, and Luna placed it on the creatures back. Softly stroking the rough skin. “You scared me,” Luna said even though she knew the creature wouldn’t answer - she wasn’t that crazy.

Luna didn’t know how much time passed. It could have been an hour, but it also could’ve been a few seconds. Her attention was on the animal and all other things were forgotten, even time.
The creature looked like a horse, but its head somewhat resembled that of a dragon and its snout ended in a beak, like that of a Hippogriff. The wings looked like those you would find on a giant bat. The animal was a pure magical creature, not a skeletal horse, so much was clear just from looking at it.

A shrill scream sounded through the woods. One that the animal answered with a scream of its own. It looked Luna in the eyes - like it was saying farewell -, turned around and disappeared in the sea of trees. “Goodbye”.

Later that day, Luna could be found in the library. Seated at a table with at least five abandoned books under the one she was currently reading. Candles shone their light on pictures of all kinds of animals displayed on the pages.
On one was a drawing of what the ravenclaw had seen. Her fingers followed the words on the paper. “A Thestral”, she whispered to herself. ‘An animal that can only be seen by those who have seen dead and have fully accepted, understood and internalised the concept’.