I digress. Starting a new story is not always the wisest thing, and those who have read my stories know how horrible I am with updating. This will be a summer fanfic. Anyway! Please enjoy.

Name: Weighted Chain

Chapter Rating: PG

Overall: This fic is rated teen for a reason. There will be some violence, cuss words and actions that teenagers generally do. As I myself am only 17 I know how to act like a teenager so please don't contradict my writing. This story is purely for my own enjoyment and no beta will be helping me. This is so I can better on my own. Please enjoy.

Summary: Sirius dies. Time to deal with it, Harry. Moping around won't do any good, it's time to grow up. Fifth year summer learning about Sixth year classes, getting a job, meeting and gaining new friends, a mini snake army and trying hard not to give into the temptation of dark magic. No normal summer here.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Harry leaned against the cool frame of the car window, watching the land fly by in a blur. His eyes drifted from the landscape to his uncle's furious face. Although Moody didn't know any better, threatening his uncle wasn't the best of ideas. If the constant muttering wasn't an indication of the extra chores Harry was to be given, then the ugly little smirk on Dudley's face was enough.

Turning his eyes away from his so called family, Harry sighed softly as he stared at the cloudy sky. It seemed the world was mourning with him about Sirius's death. The events at the Ministry were heavy on Harry's mind; almost bring bile to his throat as he thought about his Godfather's form falling into the cursed veil.

"What's the matter, freak?" Dudley asked with a pathetic sneer. "Missing those freak friends of yours already?"

Harry's cold eyes stared straight into Dudley's, making the whale of a boy squirm uncomfortably.

"As a matter of fact, yes," Harry said softly before turning away with a frown.

Talk turned to non existent as Harry and the Dursley's waited for their return home. With the atmosphere so intense, it was a great relief to everyone when they only had to suffer for another twenty minutes.

"Finally," Dudley grunted, waddling into the house.

Giving his relatives disinterested looks; Harry quickly brought his trunk and Hedwig into the house and out of the rain, unsurprised to already see the door closed. Grunting with the effort of both his trunk and Hedwig, Harry opened the door, only to receive a purple faced Vernon.

It seemed his uncle wasn't in the mood for standing around and quickly got to the point. "Look here, freak. I don't care what those freaky friends of yours told us. You'll do all the chores asked of you and you'll write those blasted letters every three days. I don't want any of your kind disrupting my home. You got that, boy?"

"Got it," Harry said coldly, intending to just leave it at that and go to sleep. To his surprise, a large, beefy hand shot out at his face. A smacking sound echoed through the room, leaving a shocked Harry and a hard breathing Vernon.

"I… I won't have it," he growled angrily. "I won't have any of that cheek of yours. In case you forgot, you almost got my Dudders killed."

"I saved him!" Harry snapped angrily, receiving another sharp slap.

"Watch that tone, boy. Now get up to your room. And no dinner," Vernon added as an afterthought, sending another smack at the back of Harry's head.

Ignoring the sting in his cheek, Harry trudged up the stairs, carefully avoiding his uncaring aunt and cousin. Feeling a growl of frustration rise, Harry shut his bedroom door quickly, grabbed a pillow and screamed into it, hating everything and everyone at the moment.

Hedwig hooted in her cage, concerned for her keeper's health.

"I'm ok, Hedwig," Harry said slowly, panting just as hard as his uncle had been. Merlin he was so angry. "It's just… I hate him so much."

Hedwig fluttered her wings softly, hoping Harry would get the hint and let her out. Once free, she fluttered onto his shoulder and started preening his hair.

Rubbing his sore cheek against Hedwig's soft feathers, Harry muttered, "I've never felt this much rage, girl. I mean, yeah I've always hated that walrus of an uncle, but on top of Voldemort and Sirius, I don't know if I can relive my childhood abuse."

Hedwig cooed softly, letting Harry know that she was there for him.

"I know you're always there for me," Harry said softly, making sure to pet Hedwig in all the spots she loved. "Promise you'll be with me forever?" Harry asked, knowing that his question was somewhat childish. But he couldn't help it. He just hurt so much right now. The closest thing he had to a father figure was dead.

Hedwig gazed at Harry deeply with her beautiful amber gaze. She nipped him softly on the cheek, exactly where Uncle Vernon hit him and Harry knew that was her way of kissing him to make it all better.

"Love you, Hedwig," Harry said, yawning widely and laying down. Hedwig watched her keeper fall into unconsciousness, knowing very well that nightmares would plague his mind tonight. Doing what she could, Hedwig continued to preen Harry's wild hair, hoping the small act would calm him.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The hard rapping at his door made Harry bolt awake, momentarily unsure of where he was. Looking around, Harry realized that he had fallen asleep, still completely clothed and had yet to unpack. Seeing Hedwig peering up at him from his side on his bed, Harry assumed she had slept with him the entire night.

"The best girl in the world," Harry whispered kindly, making Hedwig puff with pride.

"Boy! Up!" his aunt's screech yelled through the door, interrupting Harry and Hedwig in their moment.

"I'm up!" Harry called through the door.

"Good, now hurry up and make breakfast. Vernon will be leaving soon and he needs his food!"

Footsteps told Harry his aunt had moved away, now done yelling at him. "If he's so bloody hungry he can make his own food," Harry growled quietly, still petting Hedwig. Finally getting up and cracking his back, Harry promised Hedwig he'd bring her back some bacon.

Hurrying down the stairs, Harry winced as he felt his cheek sting. Why did his face still hurt? Surely Uncle Vernon hadn't hit him that hard.

Upon entering the kitchen, Harry received an unwelcome stare from his aunt although she did glance at his cheek for a moment longer than necessary, notifying Harry that he most likely had a noticeable bruise. Ignoring his already growing anger, Harry got started on the bacon and toast, planning on making a few eggs afterwards.

"Is my breakfast ready yet, boy?" Vernon demanded as he walked into the kitchen, still trying to fix his tie with one hand and hold his briefcase with the other.

"Yes," Harry said, putting the plates in front of his uncle, meeting his eyes with a small glare. Vernon narrowed his eyes at the act and, without a thought, smacked Harry like yesterday.

Vernon blinked in shock. Apparently it had just been a reaction. Vernon must really have some anger problems if he was going around and hitting Harry.

Harry, who had staggered back a foot, spat, "You do know that I have to write a letter eventually, don't you? I'm sure the Order wouldn't be pleased if they found out your using me as a punching bag."

"Are you threatening me?" Vernon demanded.

Shaking, Harry glared. "Just remember that abuse is illegal in your world as well."

Vernon narrowed his eyes and seemed to think it over. "Just do what you're told and we won't have any problems," he snapped.

Still angry, Harry just managed a single, "Fine," unsure if he would explode. This seemingly satisfied Vernon because he ignored his nephew.

"Blasted rain," he muttered, glancing out the sky. "Must it ruin a good day?"

Harry fought back a snort. A good day? The day hadn't even started!

"Boy," Vernon addressed Harry. "Don't think this means you can skip off your chores. You'll do everything your aunt tells you. Understand?"

Harry eyed his uncle's hand forming a fist and nodded.

"Good." And with that Vernon was gone, leaving Harry and Aunt Petunia alone.

"Go get cleaned up," she snapped, not even bothering to look at him. "After that you can do the dishes."

"And then?" Harry questioned coldly.

"After that I don't want to even see you."

"Right." Putting a few slices of bacon, one egg and two toasts on a paper plate, Harry made his way up to his room, passing Dudley who had finally awoken to the smell of food. "The life and times of Harry Potter," Harry muttered randomly as soon as he opened his bedroom door and offered an excited Hedwig his bacon.

The two ate in a comfortable silence, making sure not to leave any crumbs on the bed. Watching the rain pound lightly against his window, Harry felt his shoulders sag, making Hedwig give him a scolding hoot.

"No, I suppose I shouldn't wallow in self pity," Harry said calmly, his eyes half lidded. "Even if it is my fault, I know Sirius wouldn't want me to…" Harry broke off, knowing he was only trying to convince Hedwig he was fine. It of course didn't work as she followed him closely with her eyes as he left her to take care of the dishes and take a nice, hot shower.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Where are you going?" Aunt Petunia demanded.

Harry, who was about ready to walk out the door, paused and turned to face her. "Out," he said tonelessly.

Harry's aunt looked out the window. "In the rain?" she asked suspiciously.

"Yes, in the rain," Harry clarified, already opening the door. He ignored Aunt Petunia's calls, knowing he would probably blow up at her.

Pulling up his hood on his gray jacket, Harry walked calmly through the rain, uncaring if anyone saw or if he would soon be soaked to the bone. He needed to get out of the house he hated so much, away from the people who hated him and walk through the rain to feel its weight on his shoulders.

"Suppose I'll head to the park first," Harry said out loud after leaving the safety of the porch against the rain.

Despite there being rain, it was still hot and wasn't that uncomfortable to Harry. It was strange, Harry conceded, there being rain during the summer. Knowing very well he knew too little about science and weather, Harry decided it would just be one of those unnatural occurrences that always happen around him.

The park was, of course, empty, giving Harry some very much needed privacy as he walked through each play thing. Old memories of his childhood flashed through his mind. Memories of being chased by bullies and never being allowed to play without fear of getting hurt.

Harry growled in frustration as he remembered being beaten by Dudley and his gang. He unconsciously rubbed his cheek. Why must he live through those memories? Why must he be so weak?

"Why?" Harry questioned to the empty playground. Why…

He left the park quickly, knowing he would start thinking too much. That why had not just meant why he was weak, but so many other things in his life.

"Hey, kid," a man called, startling Harry.

Blinking in surprise, Harry saw a man and woman walking together under an umbrella. "Yea," he asked cautiously.

"You ok being out here? It's not good to be out, getting soaked like that."

Confused by the man's words, Harry just let out, "I'm fine. Thanks, though."

Harry heard the man call out to him but was silenced by the woman with him. "Just leave him, dear. He's that Potter kid, remember? He's the little hooligan that causes so much trouble in the neighborhood and for his relatives."

Harry snorted, this time unsurprised by those words. No one in his stupid little neighborhood ever gave him a chance nor did they know him enough to know that he would never do whatever he's been blamed on. Even an idiot would know it was all Dudley's fault but apparently Harry's neighborhood takes stupid to a whole new level.

Abandoning the park, this time Harry headed toward to the part of town with all the stores, hoping to just waste some more time.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dylan Trey wasn't exactly what you'd call normal, especially being only twenty-five years old and having to run her own business so she could escape her family. Dylan had dirty blond hair with a bit of brown dye mixed up in her short, spiky hair. Her purple eyes always seemed to stop people in their places. Seeing her odd colored eyes must really make people want to waste their time. Aside from normal punk clothes, Dylan wore a chain necklace.

Not one of those fake things, but real chains. They weren't heavy, not like in the beginning, but they still had a little weight. She wore them as a symbol, and someday that chain necklace would be taken off.

Dylan had originally come from Northern California in America. She had come to the U.K to get away from her abusive family, hoping that distance and time would heal both her outer and inner wounds. Sadly, Dylan had yet to come to terms with her new life.

New life indeed. Running a small restaurant was no easy task, especially since she only had two cooks, four hosts and five waiters. Her cook kept ditching, often leaving Dylan herself and the other cook to cook. Unfortunately for the customers, Dylan had no skill in the cooking department. The irony of owning a food joint.

Right now her restaurant, which was called Dylan's Joint, was closed. Hey, it was her business and she would call it whatever she wanted. The reason why it was closed was because Brandon, one of her cooks, had failed to show up once more. If she didn't need him so much he would have been fired. Not one person had shown up to apply for a job.

But that wasn't what was bothering Dylan right now. What was bothering her was that it was pouring harder than anyone could have guessed and there was a boy walking outside. No, actually more like pacing. Dylan had seen the same guy pass her restaurant at least four times looking both bothered and angry.

Where were his parents? The kid couldn't be more than thirteen. And in the rain too. What was wrong with people? Dylan had also seen a few people pass the kid without offering any type of support or words.

Making up her mind, Dylan walked toward the front door with the big closed sign on it and opened it, waiting patiently for the kid to return, knowing full well that he would make another circle.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Harry shook his head wildly, sending water everywhere but not doing much to dry his hair with the amount of rain pouring. What a weird summer this was turning out to be.

"Hey, kid."

And his summer kept getting weirder and weirder.

Harry looked for the source and finally laid his eyes on a girl leaning against a door to some type of restaurant. Looking up, Harry read 'Dylan's Joint.' "Yea?" Harry asked cautiously, wondering what this stranger wanted.

"You're soaked."

The comment caused Harry's lip to twitch. How blunt of her.

"Why ain't ya inside with your parents?" the woman asked.

Harry felt his shoulders sag. "Don't got any," he said, shaking his head as a particularly fat raindrop hit him in the eye.

The woman looked him over, judging his size and large clothes. "Orphan then." Harry didn't say anything to that. "Well, come one in."

Harry blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Come inside. You're soaked and you obviously have no where to go since I've seen you walk past my windows at least four times."

Harry blushed, embarrassed that a complete stranger had noticed something like that. "It's ok," he said quickly. "I don't need to come inside. Besides, aren't you closed?"

"Course it is, but since I run this place I get to say if I want it open," the woman said smugly.

"So you're Dylan?"

"Excuse me?"

Harry pointed to the sign. "It say's Dylan at the top. Since you own this place I'll assume you're Dylan."

"Oh!" The woman seemed embarrassed that she hadn't understood at first. "Yep, I'm Dylan. Now come inside." Seeing Harry hesitate, she said, "Now," in a stern voice.

Slowly, Harry followed Dylan inside the warm restaurant, fidgeting a bit as he dripped heavily onto her floor.

Dylan looked Harry over once more. "So what's your name?"

Harry eyed her carefully, his eyes resting on her own for so long he didn't know what she had asked.

Dylan cleared her throat, catching Harry's attention. "You do know staring is rude, don't you?" she asked teasingly.

Harry averted his eyes quickly. "Sorry," he mumbled.

"Forget it. Besides, I've been staring at your eyes as well. Guess we both have unnatural eyes." Seeing Harry flinch at that, Dylan quickly said, "Not that that's a bad thing! I just meant they're different from everyone else's."

"I get that a lot," Harry amended. "What did you say before that?"

"I asked for your name," Dylan said, gesturing for Harry to follow her into the kitchen.

"I'm Harry," Harry replied. "Why are we in the kitchen?"

"I'm getting you some towels," Dylan responded, tossing him a few. "I live on the top floor of this place so just chill for a sec and I'll go get you some pants and a shirt."

"You don't need to do that!" Harry blurted out. "It's nice enough you let me inside. 'Sides, I'll just leave in a minute so I don't bother you."

Harry made to leave but Dylan, quite coldly, said, "Stop." She sighed at Harry. "Look, I'm trying to help you out, so at least allow me to do that, kay?"

Dylan narrowed her eyes at Harry's hesitancy but nodded as he muttered an ok.

Harry peeled off his wet shirt and jacket and began to dry off his hair and glasses so that he could see a bit better. He frowned as he put his glasses back on. They weren't doing much to help with his eyes sight. Not that they ever did, but it wasn't always so bad. Had his prescription changed?

"Got them!" Dylan called happily, tossing him a pair of black pants and a black shirt with the logo Volcom on it. "Don't worry about size since all I've got are boy clothes."

Harry held them out, still unsure. "Are you sure?" he asked, "I mean, it isn't as if we know each other."

"Pshaw, it's fine," Dylan said, waving it off. "I can't stand seeing someone helpless."

"I wasn't helpless," Harry stated angrily.

Dylan looked at him again, her oddly colored purple eyes looking deeply into his emerald green ones. "My mistake," she amended, smiling. "I'll give you a bit of privacy while you change."

Watching Dylan walk out the door, Harry still couldn't understand why she was helping him. After all, it wasn't as if they knew each other. Quickly putting the shirt on and drying off his legs before putting the black pants on. He left his soaked clothes and shoes in the sink to let them dry off before heading back to the front, looking around for Dylan.

"I'm by the bar," Dylan called, her head protruding from behind the table before disappearing as she searched for some cups and soda.

"You do know I'm too young for alcohol, right?" Harry asked hesitantly as a black, bubbling drink was handed to him.

"Wow, you're the first underage guy I've ever met that hasn't tried to sneak a beer," Dylan said laughing. "That's a cherry coke, bub."

"Coke?" Harry asked, sniffing the drink.

"Never had it before at the orphanage?" Dylan asked, taking a sip of her own cherry coke.

"Orphanage?" Harry asked, confused.

Dylan blinked. "Didn't you say you were an orphan?"

Harry laughed. "Oh, I am, but I live with my relatives."

"Uh huh." Dylan eyed his cheek.

Subtly, Harry turned his head slowly so that it looked like he was looking around. It didn't fool Dylan for a second. Right away Dylan could tell something was wrong. Harry practically oozed sadness and anger.

"Get into a fight?" Dylan asked, referring to his cheek with a pointed look.

"No," Harry said, glaring at his drink. "Accidentally got a door to the face."

Liar, Dylan thought amusedly. She was the queen of lying; having to give excuses all her life to cover up the bruises and broken bones. "So where do you live?"

"Close by," Harry said, taking a sip. "This is really good," he commented.

"It is," Dylan agreed, taking a sip as well. "Got any pets?"

"An owl," Harry said before thinking. His eyes widened before trying to come up with a quick cover up when he saw Dylan's incredulous look. "I found her at the park a few years back," Harry lied. "She had a bad wing and has stuck with me ever since she got healed."

"That's cool. Animal rights and health all the way. What's her name?"

That was the lamest lie ever, Harry thought sadly. "Her name is Hedwig. She's a snowy and incredibly smart," Harry said with pride.

"All animals are smart," Dylan said. "Humans just don't give them enough credit and always blame them for things humans did."

"Sounds like you don't like people that much," Harry observed, watching Dylan twiddle the chain around her neck in her hand.

"While there are still good people out there, most choose to be bad," Dylan said darkly. "Animals aren't evil nor are they bad."

"No bad breeds, just bad humans," Harry muttered thinking about a slogan he had seen on a poster once that was protesting about illegal dog fighting.

"Exactly," Dylan said brightly. "See, the difference between and animal and a human is that while animals kill for necessity, humans kill for pleasure."

"I agree with you on that," Harry muttered glumly, thinking about Sirius. Harry could feel his eyes begin to water. He blinked them away, hoping Dylan hadn't noticed.

"Anyway, what school do you go to?" Dylan asked.

"What's with all the questions?" Harry asked, looking at her from the corner of his left eye.

"Why not?" Dylan shot back. "It'll pass the time until the rain stops." They both looked outside to watch the rain pound away. "If it ever stops," Dylan said with a laugh.

Harry leaned against his hand and sighed. Dylan leaned back on her chair after reaching over the counter for some more soda. All in all the silence was beginning to get a little awkward.

"If you don't mind my asking," Harry said, "but where did you come from? I've never heard an accent like yours."

"The U.S." Dylan said with a grin. "California bred and then tossed here just recently."

"What's it like there?" Harry asked. He had never been outside of England before and often wondered what the outside world was like.

"Random weather," Dylan commented. "It'll rain like crazy for about twenty minutes before the sun comes out all happy like it didn't even leave."

Harry chuckled. "That must get a little annoying. Not knowing if you should wear a jacket or short sleeves, I mean."

"Got that right," Dylan said happily. "It's either hot or cold or maybe even a bit of both."

"Any snow?" Harry asked, interested.

"If you know where to go. There are a few mountains you can go up to, to go skiing."

"Have you ever gone?"

"No… My family wasn't the type to go out on family fun activities."

Harry had apparently hit a nerve because Dylan's voice sounded a bit hollow. "Same here," he said dully. "At least with me, that is."

They drank in a relative silence.

"If you don't mind my asking," Dylan said with a grin, "but what's got you so down?"

"Nothing," Harry muttered, looking away.

"Liar," Dylan said. "Believe me, talking about stuff really helps."

"It's nothing," Harry repeated.

Silence again.

"Why do you have a chain on your neck?" Harry asked curiously.

Dylan fingered the chained necklace. "To represent my pain," she told him simply.

"Your pain?" Harry parroted softly.

"Had a shitty childhood, Harry," Dylan told him seriously, glaring into her own cherry coke. "It's the weight of all my bad memories and other crap like that. I promised myself I would take it off when I accepted my new life away from my abusive family but, sadly, the weight is still heavy. I'm not talking about physical weight, but mental stuff.

"Parents used to beat me, didn't give a shit if I died and pretty much though I was useless. 'Course, no one ever really noticed when I was a kid. I was good at lying but I also know that adults like to look the other way when they see something they don't like. I promised myself I would never be like that. Guess that's kinda why I invited you in."

Dylan sighed. "Damn, I need a drink." She hopped over the side of the bar and started concocting some type of alcoholic drink, leaving Harry dumbfounded that she had told him something as personal as that.

"Amaretto brandy always hits the spot," Dylan said, taking a sip out of her brownish drink.

Harry stared at her for a few minutes, just merely watching her drink and grip that chain of hers.

"My Godfather died," Harry blurted out, causing his hands to form fists in surprise. Why had he told her that?

Dylan took another small sip. "Why'd you tell me?" she asked quietly.

"I don't know," Harry said quietly but honestly. "Why did you tell me you had a bad childhood?"

"Touché," Dylan remarked. "Because I told you it helps me feel better. Don't start believing I tell everybody this. I don't want pity. In fact, I hate it."

"Same here," Harry said with a scowl. "People only give you pity when they won't do anything."

"Got that right."

Silence once more…

"His name was Sirius," Harry said hesitantly. "He was murdered in front of me…"

Without a word, Dylan once again hopped over the bar and fixed up a new drink. She handed him a clear, green drink. "Its liquor," she clarified. "Absinthe, to be exact."

Harry stared at the drink. "I'm underage," he reminded her.

"Kid, at a time like this, you need it."

Harry eyed his soon to be first alcoholic drink ever before taking a small sip. He made a face, disgusted by the taste but still managed to swallow it.

"It's an acquired taste," Dylan said, taking a rather large gulp. "But it helps the words come out. It'll help with the mind. And don't worry, I can already tell you won't get drunk. If it goes too far I'll stop you."

Harry nodded in gratitude before taking another small sip. He still made a face but could taste a hint of some type of plant or perhaps apple. "We weren't very close," Harry started, wondering how he should start. "He was once in jail."

Dylan didn't make a move to interrupt but gave a nod for him to continue.

"He was thrown away without a trial even though he's innocent." Harry sighed and tried another sip. They were tiny sips, but Harry could feel the alcohol running down his throat. "Sometimes I think he only saw me as my father," Harry muttered dejectedly.

"Did he know your father?" Dylan asked calmly, knowing soothing words would get Harry to open up. Her purple eyes glanced at his slightly watered green ones.

"Best friends, I was told. The sad thing is," Harry said with frown, "is that we never had a chance to live together to get to know each other."

"Why's that?"

Harry shifted a little but gave a ruthful grin. "He was on the run. He escaped jail to try to see me."

"Cool," Dylan breathed. "The guy must have really loved you."

"He told me he did." Harry paused. "My parents were murdered as well. The madman… well, he was never caught so people assumed I would be safe if I lived with my mother's sister." Harry snorted and this type downed a rather large gulp, almost choking to death in the process.

Dylan, thoroughly amused by the sight of Harry choking like that, waited patiently for him to continue.

"Course, being safe from a killer wouldn't help against my relatives…"

"Assholes, the whole lot of them," Dylan muttered darkly. "Nobody ever checked on you?"

Harry shook his head and continued with his story. He told her most of his life story without adding anything about the magical world, his school and Voldemort. He had to make up a few parts to fit the story but Harry was pretty sure Dylan got the gist of it.

Dylan finished off her drink while Harry pushed away his only quarter empty drink.

"The thing about society," Dylan said seriously, "is that it never truly helps those in need. But honestly, after living to our age, I'm pretty sure we both don't want help. Well, at least I don't. I realized when I was little that the only way to help myself was to do it on my own."

"I know what you mean," Harry said. "I believed that same thing when I was little."

"Believed?"

"Well, I already told you I went to a private school for most of the year," Harry said patiently. "I met some friends there and a few… others." Stupid fans. "I guess I got a little dependent on others."

"I don't blame you," Dylan said, stretching a bit. "What kind of eleven year old wouldn't want help? So, did you ever receive any?"

"Not really."

"Ever tell anybody what I told you?"

"A little," Harry admitted. "But the teachers and a few kids thought I was making it up to get attention."

"Always the same answer," Dylan said with a scowl just as her stomach growled, causing her to blush heavily.

Harry checked the clock on the wall. "It is 5:28," Harry said. "I hadn't realized how much time had gone by."

"Well, you did walk quite a bit and we talked for a while," Dylan pointed out.

"I guess… I can make us dinner."

"Excuse me?"

"I can make us dinner," Harry repeated. "I have to at least pay you back."

Dylan laughed. "You don't have to do that, Harry."

"I know," Harry said firmly. "But I want to."

Amused, Dylan said, "Alright," and followed him into the kitchen. Settling down on a chair, Dylan watched Harry get to work as he sorted through the foods, picking something for the both of them. Interested, Dylan watched as Harry properly cut vegetables, cooked with the pos and pans effortlessly and basically did what she dreamed her cooks could do.

"Dang, Harry. Where did you learn how to cook?"

"Had to make food for my fat uncle and cousin and giraffe aunt since I was four."

Dylan felt her jaw tighten. "Do you still cook now?"

"Yea, but I don't really care anymore."

"And what about you getting enough to eat?" Dylan demanded. "You're nothing but bones."

"We just told each other we were both abused," Harry said tonelessly as he turned over a steak and added seasonings. "What do you think?"

Dylan scowled. "You need to leave."

Harry laughed bitterly. "Kind of impossible for me."

"Why? Do you need money?"

"No, parents left quite a bit of money for me to last till I get my own job when I'm done with school."

"Really?" Dylan lifted a brow. "Then tell me why you don't buy any decent clothes."

"Because the Dursley's wouldn't like it," Harry said, now piling the steak, vegetables and onion rings onto plates.

"I still say you leave," Dylan muttered before picking up an onion ring. "What's with the onion rings?"

Harry shrugged. "Always wanted to try them."

"Wow, even I got out more than you."

"I don't doubt that."

Taking a bite out of her steak, Dylan was practically crying in happiness. "So. Good." She emphasized each word slowly. Suddenly, as if inspiration hit her, Dylan looked at Harry slyly.

Eating his own steak, Harry blinked at the older girl. "What?"

"I think I know how you can get away from your relatives."

"I just told you that I can't."

"Not really," Dylan returned. "But if you truly can't leave them for good, get a job."

"A job?" Harry repeated. He had honestly never considered getting a job. The thing with his future career with McGonagall was just a spur of the moment kind of thing. He had most likely picked being an auror because his father had been one. Now Harry knew he didn't want that.

"It'll get you out of the house and you can get money to help pay for clothes," Dylan said. "And maybe some new glasses. I keep seeing you squint."

"Probably," Harry said with a scowl. "But honestly, I don't need money. And who would hire me?"

Dylan gave him a 'duh' look. "Here, duh! I need another cook since Brandon, one of my cooks, keeps bailing all the time. I need at least two cooks a day. I'm open from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. Come on, what do you say?"

"I don't know," Harry said slowly.

Dylan sighed. "Is this about the money?"

"Honestly? Not really, but I don't want a lot."

"For goodness sake. How about free breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on when you work of course. I'd also pay you $6.00 which, if I'm correct, is at least 3 pounds per hour. That's as low as I can go."

"If I did, then when would I work?" Harry asked. "With my schedule, three days a week." Pulling out a small notepad and pen, Dylan got ready to write. "Today is Friday but since my cook is gone it's closed. I'm closed every Sunday to give the workers and myself a break. You would work Mondays, Tuesday's and Saturday's from 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon.

"Make sure to arrive at 8:00 to help with setting everything up and eating breakfast. I let all my workers get a free breakfast. The cooks don't mind making food for the others since it's a quick egg and pancakes. You get a forty-five minute lunch break with a ten minute add in to cook your lunch. Your lunch breaks are usually around 1:00 since everybody clears out around 12:40 since people go back to work after a quick lunch.

If you ever work for dinner it would be a break at 7:00. Bathroom breaks are whenever you need them but make sure to warn your partner. No bathroom breaks every five minutes just to get out of work and no messing with the customer's food."

Harry looked horrified at the thought of someone messing with a customers' food order.

Dylan grinned at Harry's look. "Don't worry, that kind of behavior gets people fired and I doubt you'll act like that."

"Of course not," Harry said, still looking a little grossed out.

"Ok then," Dylan said, handing Harry a menu. "You won't do any drinks, alcoholic or no, but food is your priority. Can you make these things?"

Harry looked through the lists of food, nodding every now and then at a particular food he had made for the Dursley's. "Almost all," Harry said. "But I don't know what a pizza is or a hot dog." He looked over the list again. "Or most of this fish food."

Dylan looked over it. "Pizza and hot dogs are an American food. Since tomorrow is Saturday you'll be coming in to watch and learn. I get an order of pizza everyday. Hot dogs are quick and easy to learn. Adam, my other cook, can show you the ropes. He also is excellent with sushi and other types of fish food. He'll show you how or will mostly work on them himself.

I doubt you'll have to worry about it since people usually order fish food at night for dinner. And since you don't work at night it won't be a problem."

"I still don't…"

"Come on, Harry," Dylan interrupted. "You'd be doing me a huge favor. Besides, it'll get those relatives out of your hair." Her eyes traveled to the barely visible bruise on his cheek. "If something happens, just come on over."

Harry smiled. "Thanks, Dylan. You, what you're doing, it's just, well, thanks."

Dylan snorted. "Think nothing of it. Now are you going to be my cook?"

Harry snorted as well. "I'll be your cook." He quieted for a moment. "Dylan," he asked hesitantly. "Does the weight ever get lighter?"

Dylan stared at Harry for a moment. Harry truly looked like a lost child. It was hard to believe he would be turning sixteen. Maybe cooking and serving would help a bit. Seriously, having to carry heavy food all day eventually gives you some muscle.

Sighing, Dylan got up and left, leaving a confused Harry to sit alone. He wasn't alone for long, however. Dylan came back with a small cord of chain. She had plenty of chains in the back. What was one less little string? "Why don't you find out?" Dylan said softly, staring deeply into Harry's eyes.

Harry took the chain and eyed it for a moment.

"It's only a reminder," Dylan said softly. "The pain goes away after a while because that weight reminds you to do things for yourself."

Firmly and without anymore reluctance, Harry wrapped it around his neck and clipped it together. "It's on." Harry didn't know why he stated that dull line, but it just felt like he needed to.

"It is," Dylan agreed. "Congratulations, Harry. You're on your way to a new life."

Harry fiddled with his chain, which was now a necklace, and nodded. "But for now," he told her quietly, "I'm being put down. Too many thoughts, dreams and… stuff."

"Because, Harry, you now have a weighted chain."