He doesn’t know what it is, when Mr. Graves shows him the thestral. He takes Credence to a mysterious dark room, and he can hear a strange huffing noise. There is a fenced section in the area, encircling a stretch of grass.
“It’s invisible,” Mr. Graves says. “I intend to use it as a way to recognize the child.”
“It can tell--?”
“Yes,” Mr. Graves says. “In 1852, there was an Obscurial boy who lived on a magical reserve. There was something about him that attracted the thestrals in the surroundings. Drew them to him.”
“Mr. Graves,” Credence says, swallowing, eyeing the blank space in the room with trepidation, “you wish for me to bring you the child so you can show this--thestral to them?”
Mr. Graves nods. “That is your task, Credence. I hope you will not disappoint me.”
Credence can’t tear his gaze away from the gated section. He can’t see the thestral but there’s a heaviness to the air, a shimmering blur, and it raises the gooseflesh on his skin. Without glancing back at Mr. Graves, Credence steps forward, approaching the fence until his hands are pressed against it.
He closes his eyes. This feels...familiar. Like he’s in the company of an old friend, or a childhood blanket. A person or place so comforting and alluring and tempting.
Something light touches his cheek. He opens his eyes, and he realizes that it is--a shadow. A moving shadow reaching to touch his skin and caress it softly, making him feel light-headed and warm.
“Ah,” he hears Mr. Graves says, a quiet noise of surprise. “I should have realized. Credence…”
The way Mr. Graves says his name now is new, different. There’s a trace of reverence to it--a hunger. Credence drinks in the sound of it, all while the shadows brush his face, his hair, his neck.
Then the ghostly shadows dip underneath the collar of his suit, making a pathway to his chest. It quivers, pressed flush against his heart, and it taps against the beat of it. It is tender, but there is something wild about it, like it is a claw, like it will tear open his chest and spill everything out.
It feels like dying, and it feels like night, and Credence...reciprocates. He feels his own shadows pulse from his fingertips, creeping up and intertwining over the tendrils on his heart.
“Beautiful,” he hears Mr. Graves say, and it makes Credence flush. “Will you show me more, Credence?”
“Yes,” Credence breathes. He will bear this; he will take this.
The outside shadows ripple against his nipples, rolling, twisting. Credence urges it on with his own shadows, pushing and stroking back, and the intensity of it all forces him to his knees. His shirt is ripped open, in tatters.
Then the foreign tendrils curl around the urgent curve of his erection. Cradling his cock through the fabric of his trousers, and Credence lets out a gasp.
A sudden feeling of panic rises in his chest, and he wants the thestral to slow down. There is something gripping about its grasp, and Credence wrestles with his darkness, wrestling with the thestral to pry it away.
But the thestral’s tendrils curl over his shadows and holds him--holds him.
“Stop,” he stutters, but he can't fight back. The thestral seizes his cock with its misty shadows and touches, touches, touches.
He is being touched by this invisible creature while he's on his knees, twitching, panting, and he can feel Mr. Graves’ approving gaze.
Then he feels Mr. Graves’ hand in his hair. It is a soothing brush of fingertips.
“You are special,” Mr. Graves murmurs. “You are special, Credence, and you are beautiful, reduced to this.”
And this--this is what makes him come, semen dripping, spurting, from his cock.
It takes him a couple of moments to recover, but when he does, he struggles to his feet. He holds out a shaky hand and strokes the thestral’s invisible muzzle--strange scaly features that are rough against his fingertips.
I am the child, Credence thinks, feeling dizzy at the realization. I can't see it, but it saw me.
He bends his head down, and presses a soft, hesitant kiss against the thestral’s skeletal neck.