Dazed and Dumbfounded 15

"Oh, it's just an apron, Father." Draco drawled calmly as if it was nothing. "But you can wear it when you barbecue later today! We made desert, but you'll have to make the meal."

Lucius frowned. He didn't want to do this dreadful barbecuing thing. It sounded too much like common manual labor. But if he backed out now, his son would never forgive him. So he supposed he had to suffer through the utter nonsense. "Must I, Draco? Wouldn't you rather eat out at a nice restaurant?"

"No, Father. You promised you'd do it. Remember?" Draco stared at his father the way he had been taught, his gaze steely and unafraid. Malfoys didn't back down for anyone. And although sometimes he was scared of his father, this wasn't one of them.

"Oh, very well!" Lucius sighed, knowing his son would keep pestering him until he did it. How did he ever end up with such a grouch for a son? First he wanted this and then that, it was enough to drive him mad! The elder wizard's gray eyes landed on the cheerful teenage girl that was in his … kitchen? This whole mess, of course, was her fault! She had contaminated his son's way of thinking and if he wasn't careful, soon Draco would be saying he wanted his own awful metal box to drive around in! The idea was just too horrible to contemplate! What would his fellow Death Eaters say? What would the neighbors say? It would be a real nightmare! He needed to put his foot down firmly yet it wasn't that easy. "Where is this barbecue thing?"

"It's outside." Draco explained as he took off the cheerful apple apron and handed it to his father.

Lucius eyed the ruffled piece of clothing with clear distaste. It was without doubt one of the most hideous things he had ever seen. One dark brow rose and he sneered. "I'm not going to wear that thing, Draco. I wouldn't push your luck too far if I were you."

"Suit yourself, Father." Draco shrugged and tossed the apron onto a nearby chair. Reaching out and gripping Hermoine's hand, he led them outside. Within moments he showed his father where the new barbecue sat. He had picked a nice place for it in the courtyard. The Malfoy's backyard was huge, as was befitting a Manor, and was broken down into different sections. They had a courtyard for outside dining, stables for their horses and several gardens. The land they owned was spread out over acres and even included some sections of wild forest. The horses were Pegasi, of course. One certainly wouldn't expect a Pureblood wizarding family to own ordinary thoroughbreds, after all. The courtyard was lined with expensive marble blocks and a cheerful fountain gurgled nearby, the water pouring out of a sea-dragon's mouth. Draco pointed to the black three-legged barbecue. "Well, there it is."

Lucius approached it cautiously and peered at it. The weird Muggle contraption was black, which pleased him slightly. Poking it with his snake-headed walking stick, he was rewarded with the loud clunk of metal hitting metal. Did Muggles really cook with these things? If so, how? Turning, he stared at his son. "And exactly what am I supposed to do with this thing?"

"I told you, Father, you cook with it." Draco explained in his customary drawl. "That lid there comes off…"

Still eyeing it with distaste, Lucius reached out and picked up the rounded lid. Underneath he saw a metal grilling. "And I suppose the meat goes on this metal thing?"

Draco nodded.

"Well, I can do that." Lucius decided, smiling. This barbecuing nonsense was simple after all. He didn't see what he had worried about after all. Turning, he called for his house elf. "Zunno!"

Zunno appeared in a flash of white light and bowed low. "Yes, Master?"

"Go and bring me some raw steaks!"

"Yes, Master!" Zunno popped off and moments latter appeared with a huge platter of raw steaks. The elf held them out in front of Lucius, his knees bending under the weight.

Looking about for something to grab them with, Lucius eyed the funny-looking fork next to the barbecue. Grabbing this, he stabbed a steak and placed it on the grill. An evil grin spread across his face as he happily thought he was a master cook already – on his first try!

Harry, who had followed the others outside, had an alarmed look on his face. "Uhh … Mr. Malfoy?"

"You're supposed to call me father now, remember?" Lucius reminded him as he paused in the act of placing steaks on the cold grill. He didn't know what he was going to do with his second son, either. There were problems with both of them! "And while this is cooking, we're going to discuss your little problem."

"Ah…" Harry paused, feeling to weird to call him 'father'. "You're supposed to put a fire in the grill first."

Lucius blinked and turned his attention to the cold grill. "Oh, am I? Well, how fortunate I am to have you here then."

Placing the steak he had been holding down on the grill, he pulled his wand out of his walking stick. Pointing at the grill, he spoke the spell for fire. Instantly a blazing fire appeared within the metal belly of the grill. "See? That's fixed now, isn't it? Now why don't we discuss your little problem."

Sighing, Harry wished he could escape. He needed to go see Dumbledore. "Look, I'll help you cook the meat if you'll let me go see Dumbledore."

"Don't you like my hospitality?" Lucius asked innocently as he placed the remaining steaks on the grill. Waving Zunno away, he sneered. "I assure you I'm perfectly capable of cooking these myself."

"I bet…" Harry eyed him darkly, imagining them burned black.

A new voice broke into their conversation.

"Lucius, what in Merlin's name are you doing?" The dark glowing form of Severus Snape stood there, his dark eyes focused on Potter. A pale hand soon rose and pointed a finger at the now white-haired Harry. "And what is he doing here?"

"This," Lucius said as he moved to stand behind Harry and place a fatherly hand on his shoulder. "Is my long lost son, Dragonne Malfoy."

"That's Potter!" Snape scowled as he stepped closer to the unlikely pair. "And if you think that bad disguise is going to fool anyone, I'll let you know I can see his scar from here. What kind of scheme are you doing now, Lucius? And why would you want that for a son is beyond me! If you knew half the things I do…"

"Hey!" Harry cried, insulted. "I'm right here!"

"Quiet!" Snape said. "I'm not speaking to you."

"Why should I be quiet when you're insulting me?" Harry asked, annoyed. Out of all his teachers at Hogwarts, the one he hated the most was Professor Snape. "And keep your big nose out of other people's business!"

Snape's dark eyes widened and he pointed a finger at Potter. "Detention!"

"It's summer! You can't give me detention!" Harry replied as he glared at Snape with hatred in his green eyes. "Or are you really that dumb?"

"Why you…!" Snape bellowed truly mad now. "Fifty points from Gryffindor!"

Harry started laughing. "The hourglass isn't running!"

"This is your fault!" Snape said to Lucius. "If he's your son now, then do something about him!"

Lucius smiled sweetly at his old friend and poked one of the steaks. The one in the middle of the grill looked like it was done already, as it was a nice solid black. Picking up a plate, Lucius stabbed it with the fork and handed it to Severus. "Have a steak…"

000

Draco watched the heating exchange and rolled his eyes. By the sound of it, it'll continue all day with the two of them arguing up and back. Turning, he pulled on Hermoine's hand. "Let's go look at the stables."

"But…" Hermoine glanced behind at her Potions teacher with the black steak on his plate. She knew it couldn't possibly be done already! Lucius had just put them on… "That steak…"

"Forget it!" Draco said as he pulled her down the path towards the stable. A smile appeared on his pointed face as he had something much better to show her. He knew most girls loved horses and hopefully Hermoine would, too. And these, these were very special indeed. The big building loomed ahead and finally they were there. Opening the door, he led her inside. "Trust me, once you see these you'll forget all about those dumb old steaks…"

Hermoine waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darker interior of the barn. She could smell hay and something else, something sweet. A soft nicker reached her ears and she slowly followed the blonde Slytherin. Horse stalls were up ahead, a whole row of them. And poking its head out over the low door was an all white horse! Excitement spread through her body as she realized what the Malfoys keep in this big building. "You have horses!"

"Not just any kind of horse, Hermoine." Draco corrected, a smile on his face. Talking softly, he opened the door and led the white mare out. As the Pegasus walked, she raised her hooves high off the ground with each step. The slow clip-clop echoed throughout the barn as she was led outside. Her white wings were folded down along her sides and as soon she was clear of the confining building she stretched them out wide, the white feathers glowing in the sunlight.

Mouth dropping open, Hermoine just stood there gawking. "That's … that's …"

"A Pegasus, I know." Draco replied matter-of-factly. "While Father is cooking, I thought we could go for a ride."

Hermoine eyed the Pegasus with a look of trepidation, her brown eyes widening in fear. Nervously she backed up a few paces and shook her head. "I … I'd rather not."

"Oh, come on, don't tell me you're still nervous about flying!" Draco held out his hand towards her. "I promise it'll be fun! We can ride on the same one if you want…"

The Pegasus was just so beautiful! Just seeing it standing there all glowing snowy white was enough to make her glow with joy and happiness. It was without doubt one of the most enchanted creatures she had ever seen. Its black eyes were so wise and full of love. It was like its shiny eye could look right into her soul and know who she was. And it had the most incredible long lashes she'd ever seen. Its nose was the curved dish shape that was characteristic of Arabians, its ears long and tall. The legs were finely made and denoted speed, its flanks powerful. The white main and tail sparkled like thousands of priceless diamonds were intertwined in the long, fine hairs. A soft breeze blew and the tail fanned outward, the long hairs brushing the green grass. Just seeing it there was enough to send her heart soaring high overhead; she didn't need to be seated on it.

"Come flying with me, Hermoine…"

To be continued…