"Fawkes taught you to put fires out?"
Harry felt his eyebrows draw together, puzzled, because that level of incredulity seemed all out of proportion to the topic. "Um, yes? Sort of? I mean, he showed me I needed to know how to do it. Which isn't exactly the same thing…"
"Harry. A phoenix. Taught you something."
He glanced over at Hermione, whose brow was furrowed, but so far wasn't saying much. He didn't understand why of them all, it was the wizardborn who was having trouble with this concept. Although wizards do seem to have some kind of weird ideas about other magical creatures... Maybe that's it?
He frowned at his friend. "Fawkes isn't stupid, Ron. He saved me in the chamber. He's at least as smart as Hedwig – he understands when you talk to him."
"I don't- That's not-" And wow, Ron wasn't always the smoothest talker, but the sputtering was unusual. Ron threw his hands up. "Gah! That's not what I meant. Harry. Do you have any idea-" In the middle of what seemed like the start of a rant, Ron abruptly stopped. Inhaled slowly, then exhaled. "Never mind. Muggle-raised. Of course you don't." Another slow, inhale, exhale repetition. "Harry," Ron's voice was level, the way it only got when his friend was being dead serious about something, "phoenixes don't do that."
And he knew Ron wasn't accusing him of lying, but he couldn't help that defensive flash of emotion – too many people accusing him either of doing things he hadn't. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon and Private Drive neighborhood residents and his elementary school teachers and Hogwarts students and Professor Snape and he was so sick of it all - and he had to shove down the flare of emotion, borrowing the control he'd hard-learned with wandless magic. "Well, Fawkes did, so obviously they do." Then he winced, because that had still come out a touch snappier than he'd intended.
"I think what Ron means to say," came Hermione's voice, and he glanced over at her, "is that he's never heard of that happening before."
"What, really?" he asked, head twisting back towards the other boy.
"Well. Not exactly, but." Ron pinched his nose. "Right. Look, there are legends about people who learn from magical creatures. I mean, it's rare enough you can get information from other races who speak: the goblins don't share their secrets of weapons forging with anyone, people stopped asking the centaurs to tell them the future once the survivors started coming back with arrow holes in them, the merfolk drown wizards who poke their noses into treasures they've claimed from the seas! But, the really, really, old stories, like the girl who learned to weave starlight from the unicorns, or the sage wisdom from the Augureys. They exist, but everyone knows they're just stories. Myths. No one takes them seriously these days."