Title: Better Than Owls

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: None

Summary: Draco eyes Dumbledore's phoenix in Diagon Alley and thinks it'll make a grander pet than an owl. How will Lucius teach him otherwise?

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Rowling. This is just for fun.

Author's Note: This story takes place shortly after "Chamber of Secrets", during the summer.

Twelve-year-old Draco Malfoy walked alongside his father in Diagon Alley, his head held high. The sunlight reflected off his pale white hair, the glistening strands free of the oil he had previously used to slick it back. Now his bangs hung smoothly on his forehead, drawing attention to his silvery gray eyes. Polished shoes echoing loudly on the cobblestones, he strode forward with purpose; pleased to be going on an outing. It was boring hanging around the Manor all summer, not that he wanted his classmates to know that. And if he were lucky, his father might even buy him ice cream. "And then they all came flying up from nowhere being carried by a bloody phoenix!"

"Yes, very interesting…" Lucius commented dryly, sounding very uninterested in the entire ordeal. The elder Malfoy's white hair cascaded smoothly over his shoulders, a stark contrast to his black clothing. As usual, he carried his silver snake-headed walking stick in one hand.

"First he arrives at school with a flying car, he beats me at Quidditch and now he has a phoenix carrying him about!"

Lucius sighed. "Draco, you very well know that particular phoenix belongs to the Headmaster. It is not Potter's. Whining will not get you one of those horrid Muggle vehicles!"

Draco frowned slightly. He didn't really want a Muggle automobile anyway, not for several months at least. No, he had his eyes set on something much better, more unique, more fitting his Pureblood status. The young blond shook his head slightly. His father could be so dense at times! His wanting a car was such old news!

Up ahead a man in pale gray robes caught Draco's attention. A large brightly colored bird was perched on his shoulder, very distinctive tail feathers and head plume adorning its body. The man paused and then turned towards the sweet shop that sold candy, his long white beard blowing in the warm summer breeze. It was none other than his Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, shopping for more candy. Fawkes leaped off his shoulder and flew to perch on the short roof that jutted out just above the sweet shop's door. The bird turned its head this way and that, surveying all the witches and wizards passing by.

Next to him, his father frowned. "Doesn't that man ever eat anything but sweets? I'd hate to think of the sticky mess he'd be offering us in this heat…"

But Draco wasn't paying attention. Instead he hurried forward, zigzagging through the crowd until he was just below the magical bird. Tilting his head backward, he gazed up at it with wide eyes. How could such a small creature lift and carry so many people? If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes he wouldn't have believed it at all! Luckily, he had been gazing out his bedroom dormitory window at just the right moment and had seen it happen.

"Draco, come!" Lucius called from across the street. "Stop staring at that bird and come into the bookstore."

Tearing his eyes from the bird for a moment, Draco turned to look at his father. "I want a phoenix! Everyone has owls, Father; even bloody Potter has an owl! I want a phoenix to carry my mail at school!"

Lucius crossed the street, the others quickly moving out of his way. "Draco, you will find there are some things that money cannot buy. A phoenix is one of them."

"But they're birds, just like owls…" Draco insisted, his arms crossed stubbornly across his thin chest. "They just look different and they're stronger! They're better than owls! You just don't want to buy me one!"

"Phoenix choose their owners." Lucius explained as he too stared up at Fawkes. "They are Light creatures, Draco. You would not want to be saddled with a Light creature, would you? It would spoil our reputation."

Draco bit his bottom lip ever so slightly, thinking. How could a bird choose its own owner? The idea was ridiculous! Still, his father had never lied to him before…

"Come, Draco. I will buy you a book on phoenix and then you can read about their peculiarities on your own. Perhaps you'd like your living space to reek of burned feathers…"

"B-burned feathers?" Draco asked, surprised. Suddenly the pretty bird didn't seem so pretty anymore. Nor did he wish to smell constantly like Uncle Severus; the noxious stench of potion ingredients permanently seeped into every pore. And smelling from burned feathers would be worst!

"Oh, yes. They burst into flame every so often…"

Draco backpedaled rapidly away from the old wooden sweet shop as if the entire building might go up any moment in flame. Perhaps it wasn't such a nice bird after all. No, he was quite attached to his smooth skin and cornsilk hair. The barbequed look wouldn't suit him at all. Maybe owls were better in the long run? "So they really do that?"

"Oh yes, that they do." Lucius led his son across the street towards Flourish and Blotts. "I'm sure they'll have a book on the creatures…"

Quickly finding a book on the desired subject, Draco sat down on a stool along the tall stacks to read while his father scanned the shelves.

The End