A/N The second instalment of the opus of unlikeliness. But you know you love it.

Disclaimer This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter 2: Quoth of the Phoenix, Nevermore

It was Hermione who saw him first, stretching on her toes, scanning the crowds anxiously for an untameable raven mop.

"Where is he?" she muttered to herself.

"He'll be here somewhere-" Ron had had it up to here with Hermione's constant mothering.

"Oh, look there he is! Harry! Harry! Over here Harry!"

Harry had been milling about the crowd with no purpose but to get board the train, brooding to the point where his state could be called oblivion, shook his head to clear his mind and and made his way towards the pair, managing a small smile. Hermione engulfed him in a tight hug that, for all her size, threatened to collapse his ribcage.

"It's so good to see you, Harry!" She said enthusiastically, relinquishing him from her death grip. He allowed himself a small smile, still preoccupied with some of the darker thoughts he had entertained while waiting to board the Hogwarts express. But preoccupying himself with morbid ideas about faith, destiny and the question of whether he would live to see his 18th birthday were of no use to anyone. Best to keep up the facade of normalcy.

"Hey mate." Ron said affectionately, yet in a manner that did not compromise his masculinity. Harry smiled inwardly at his familiarity with Ron's actions. His friend never changed. He was loyal in his constancy. And it was loyalty that Harry would need as he entered his seventh year, the threat of Voldemort hanging ominously over his head. A hangman's noose of fate.


Harry entered the Prefects compartment having resigned himself to staying their for the duration of the trip, while Ron and Hermione bustled about self-importantly doing whatever they're new title required of them. He would see them in some time for the Prefect meeting. When he was honest with himself he realised he hadn't a clue what being a prefect would entail and just hoped that he could fudge his way through. Settling himself down in a plush couch that threatened to swallow him in cushions, it wasn't until he had managed to perch himself precariously on an arm that he noticed, he was not the only one in the carriage.

"Quite right there, Potter?" Draco asked, in his typical drawling tone, hoping Harry wouldn't notice that it seemed a little more forced then usual.

Harry glared at him, but in his mind it was only a perfunctory task. "Alright, considering who's company I'm in."

"Don't think this is barrel of laughs of me either. I don't know what common blood diseases I'm susceptible to being in close proximity with you."

"Shut your poncy trap, Malfoy, I don't want to hear it."

"Why?" Draco asked coolly, taking no heed of Harry's warning. "Worried I'm gonna say that your Mudblood girlfriend seems to have dumped you for the Weasel."

As soon as the words had made their debut on Draco's sneering lips, he found Harry's wand pointed at his heart, forcing him back to the wall. But he was not afraid.

"...back on familiar ground, somethings will never change will they Potter? Now you threaten me, and I scoff...and then you warn me this is the last time, but we both know it's not...we are so static...you are so static...surely a run in or two with the Dark Lord would have you break the monotony...or not."

"Give me one reason Malfoy, one reason. Because I have had it with your pathetic snide remarks. All I need is a reason." Harry said the words but each one seemed weighted, hanging in the air between them.

Why did he bother? Malfoy wasn't scared, Harry couldn't actually do any damage, and neither of them found their hearts in it anymore. It had been this way since their 6th year. After the death of Sirius and Harry's withdrawal into himself, coupled with Draco's father's imprisonment, which lent him a new freedom and emancipation from imminent Death Eater status, Harry and Draco found their enmity had lost it's previous intensity.

"You couldn't touch me, Potter, and you know it. Now drop your macho facade and let me pass. I don't want to stay here with you a moment longer."

Harry slowly pulled the wand away from Malfoy. "Don't bother going, I've had it with you. This is the last time."

There was something is his resigned tone, that sparked Draco's attention. " So your saying I could stay and not be subject to a wand at my heart because your trying to prove something."

Harry shrugged. "I'm not trying to prove anything. Do what you like."

Draco contemplated for a minute before sitting down definitively. "I'm staying."

"Whatever."

The two sat down at opposite corners of the compartment content on ignoring each other, even finding their silence something akin to companionable. Harry flipped through an outdated Which Broomstick? magazine that he had from the previous year and Draco pursued a heavy, tedious looking tome and muttered guttural incantations to himself under his breath. Glimpses of the skirting suburbs gave way to green open countryside and the train sped onwards to Hogwarts. Just as Harry was beginning to notice the lack of Ron and Hermione, Draco snapped his book shut sharply.

"Robes, Potter. Cover your unworthy eyes."

Harry sighed but did dutifully as he was told. "Your tragic, Malfoy." He said as he covered his glasses. "Like I would want to look at you half-naked."

He didn't need to able to see to detect Draco's smirk, it was evident in his voice." Seeing a Malfoy unclothed is a privilege you, Potter, with your plebeian ways will never understand."

"...What am I doing here? Trying to rile him and stripping naked...I think you're losing your touch Draco...Death Eaters do not undress in the presence of the enemy...not that you're a Death Eater...Father saw to that...well in his own perverted manner ...its ironic that his dedication to the Dark Lord hitherto freed me from ever becoming one, now his in Azkaban...Potter is responsible for my freedom...yet if Potter didn't exist there would be no need to join an army of dark creatures and beings...if irony were strawberries we'd be having an awful lot of smoothies right now..."

"Do you just plan on standing there and procrastinating a simple task like putting on a goddamn school shirt, or do you plan on moving in the near future?"

"Did I say you could uncover your eyes, Potter?" Draco replied mildly, lacking the vitriol that would generally lace his words, due to his preoccupation with his bizarre musings. This ability to drift off on tangents, these disjointed monologues and meaningless thought processes had been more and more prolific as he got older. If Draco was a Muggle, he would fear severe schizophrenia, but as he was a wizard he did not fear the idea of a voice in his head. It wasn't anyone else's voice anyway, it was his own. It was his own voice that should be feared.

"Since when have I done anything because you've requested it? Anyway while you were staring off into space, I managed to change into my own robes. Something which you've yet to do. And could you please cover yourself? Your near nakedness is disturbing me."

"Keep your common tongue to yourself, Potter." Draco answered absently. "I could tolerate you when you weren't making all that offensive noise." He finished changing into his robes and settled back down with his book, which was proving to be an interesting read. It was a common axiom that Draco Malfoy was a dangerous Dark wizard, but what they didn't know was that he was very erudite, craving and hording knowledge as a miser would count his coins. Granted his taste quite obviously leaned towards the archaic ways of past evil overlords and powers, that had fallen into obsoletion with the constant plague of the righteous, but he also enjoyed Muggle literature, a private fetish he kept from his father. But while in public no Malfoy would be seen to be reading a battered copy of Pride and Prejudice, and instead Draco had opted for Necromancy and Manipulation of the Dead by George Anubis.

The train slowed as it pulled into the station, and students poured forth. Both Harry and Draco made to leave at the same time only to find the other blocking their exit. Harry, being the Gryffindor he was, moved to let Draco pass.

"Malfoy." He said with a condescending nod of his head.

"Potter." Draco returned the gesture.

They left for separate carriages, ignoring the Thestrals that commandeered their vision and waited for their respective friends. Yet as the carriage pulled away from the station and the many turrets and towers of Hogwarts became visible in the distance both had the same solitary thought in their minds.

Home.

A/N Here we are, second chapter up after much delay. The 'irony as strawberries' comment comes from a South Park episode, and that line stuck in my head as something Draco would say. Some explanation behind the characterisation. Draco seems to have taken on neurotic, almost obsessive compulsive personality in my head, and Harry seems to be relatively canon, apart from being slightly more jaded and having matured considerably. Also I'm looking for a beta, a fellow slasher who will put up with my writers block and rather atrocious typos. Email me with a snippet of your own work or leave your interest in a review. A big thank you to those who reviewed the first chapter. Read and review!

Embittered