Disclaimer: I own none of the Harry Potter characters except for Jim J and Mrs. Plinkley L. If either of these seem like worthwhile characters to you, please ask before you use them. Thank you.
Note: I got the idea for this story when, one day, I remembered a janitor in my old elementary school that was always nice to me even when other kids picked on me (I was - and still am - considered "weird"). I would like to dedicate this story to him.
An Angel in Disguise
November 18, 1988
"Get him!" Dudley Dursley shouted as he and his bullying, elementary-school gang caught sight of the skinny and bespectacled Harry Potter. The gang was quick to obey, running as fast as their legs could carry them toward the eight-year-old.
Time to go, Harry thought, standing at the far end of the play area during recess. He took off, able to run remarkably quick despite his small stature. He immediately took off to the sanctuary of the trash cans behind the school, Piers and Dennis close behind, close enough to brush Harry's oversized and holey T-shirt with their fingertips. Harry put on another burst of speed, but he was tiring. Almost there, he told his failing legs as he saw the trash cans getting closer at every step. Never had rotten fruit and cockroaches looked so inviting as he leapt behind the trash cans, his heart pounding in his ears. . . .
"How'd you get up there?" Malcolm asked incredulously.
"Whoa, you're going to be in a ton of trouble with mum and dad," Dudley said gleefully, pointing a pudgy finger at his cousin. Harry didn't understand how he'd gotten up here, all he knew was that he had tried to jump behind the trash cans and was now on the school roof! He supposed that a gust of wind must have caught him in mid-jump. Still, it was strange. However, Harry left the strangeness of what had happened aside as he saw the headmistress looking up at him with narrowed eyes from the asphalt feet below and Harry knew why. He had been responsible for several other strange occurrences during his years at school, such as turning a teacher's wig blue and somehow finding another student's bag of chips in his desk that he swore he had never even touched. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had wholeheartedly supported the headmistress's claim that Harry was a juvenile delinquent and "a candidate for St. Brutus's if ever they saw one."
"Mr. Potter, get down here this instant!" Mrs. Plinkley ordered.
"I can't, ma'am," Harry answered as respectfully as he could.
"And why not?"
"I don't know how!"
"Well, how did you get up there, then?"
"The wind, Mrs. Plinkley."
"Oh, for goodness sakes!" she said, raising her hands in exasperation. "Enough of your fairy tales, Potter. A detention tonight and get down here this instant or it will be two!" A crowd had started to gather by now.
"But I can't!" Harry shouted shrilly. He was really frightened by now, he didn't want to be left up here.
"You liar!" she shrieked, her monocle glinting fiercely in the sun and her wig askew. "A week's worth of detentions and I am going to contact your relatives right now. Meanwhile, I will leave you up there until they come to sort you out." With that, she swept off in her pinstriped suit-jacket, murmuring, "St. Brutus's" under her breath. Once she left, the crowd dispersed as well, even Dudley's gang who seemed to think that he had been punished enough for now and of course they had to live up to their angelic dispositions in front of the adults. Harry was very scared now and he let loose a whimper. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia would kill him.
It was then that a ladder scaled the wall and a few seconds later, a man's head popped up. The man was balding quite a bit and the hair that he did have was frazzled and graying. He wore oversized clothes just like Harry did, and, more often than not, they were stained with something or other. The man's name was Jim, Jim the janitor.
"How'd you get up here, lad?" Jim asked.
"The wind," Harry said. "And I can't get down."
"I can see that. Gets mighty windy around here sometimes, don't it?"
"Well, we'd best get you down or that'll be another reason for that b- er . . . your principal to think you're a delinquent of some sort."
Harry grinned at what Jim had been about to say about Mrs. Plinkley. He had heard Uncle Vernon say the word several times when he got mad at Mrs. Number Six who had her radio on at two in the morning. Jim was a funny man, he decided as the janitor helped him down the ladder.
"Thanks," Harry said politely once Jim set him on the ground.
"No problem, lad," the janitor assured him. "Hey. D'you think you could help me with this?" He gestured to a box that he had been carrying along with a few others. "It's full of cleaning supplies that I need to take to the boiler room."
"Sure," said Harry, delighted to be able to help the kind old man.
"Thanks, m'boy," said Jim as he grabbed another box and folded the ladder up.
The two walked down the clean halls of the school until Jim opened a narrow door and went into the boiler room, placing the boxes into a crowded corner of the cramped room. "Thanks, little helper," he said again.
Harry nodded. "Well, I'd better get going now. Mrs. Plinkley will probably want me in the principal's office." He tried not to show the fear in his eyes, but some of it must have shown on his features for Jim said, "Here. It looks like you could use a little cheering up." He then dug a lollipop out of his pocket and gave it to Harry.
Harry's eyes were as wide as saucers. He couldn't remember anyone ever giving him a sweet willingly. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had only grudgingly given him the food he needed to stay alive. "Thanks," was all he could manage to say.
"No problem, little helper," Jim said, grinning. "Now you'd best get off to the principal's office, now. She'll be surprised to see you. She might think you should be a gymnast now, since you got down. Probably didn't expect you to, the b-. . . ." He trailed off, when he saw Harry looking at him curiously. "It's nothing, lad," he said. "Run along, now."
"And enough of this 'sir' business, lad. Call me Jim and let me call you by your name."
"Erm . . . alright. My name's Harry by the way s- . . . er, Jim."
"Alright, then. See you around, Harry."
"See you," Harry said, setting off to the principal's office with much more spring in his step than usual. School might be more bearable from now on.
July 16, 1997
"Ready to go, Harry?" Remus asked.
Seventeen-year-old Harry Potter, standing at the top of the stairs nodded and said, "Yeah, I'll just go and get my stuff." A minute later he was running back down the stairs dragging a heavy trunk that clunked on every step and carrying his owl, Hedwig's, empty cage under one arm. He jumped the last few steps joining Remus and Tonks who had come to pick him up. "Let's go," he said, trying hard not to jump up and down in his excitement.
Tonks seemed to know for her eyes twinkled and she said, "Glad to be leaving, are you?"
"Glad? I don't know when I've been so happy here!" Harry exclaimed, giving a little jump for joy and dragging his trunk to the doorway.
"Wait, Harry. You should at least say goodbye to your relatives, first," said Remus, placing a hand on the young wizard's shoulder.
"As if they care," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
"But they are your relatives, Harry, and Dumbledore would have wanted you to," Remus said, not harshly, but firmly enough that Harry knew he wasn't negotiating on the subject.
"Alright," Harry said with a sigh, knowing what the man said was true. "Bye, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley."
"So you're finally leaving, are you, boy?" Uncle Vernon asked, coming out of the kitchen where the Dursleys were having lunch.
"And we never need to see your miserable face in this house again?"
Uncle Vernon grinned maniacally. "Wonderful," he finally said. "Wonderful, wonderful." Tonks looked disgusted that anyone could be so horrid to a boy such as Harry and her hatred for the man increased as he said, "Well, get out of here, boy," with the manic grin still firmly on his face.
"See what I mean?" Harry said, as he rolled his trunk out of the door. "They don't care about me, they hate me."
"Well, at least now you're away from them forever, Harry," Tonks said, "I wouldn't have been able to live with them my whole life, I can tell you that much. And I thought I had it bad, being named Nymphadora," she said with a shudder.
Harry chuckled, then asked, "Where are we going?"
"To the Burrow, we're using the fireplace at Mrs. Figg's," Remus answered.
"Oh," Harry said, having trouble dragging his trunk along a rough piece of sidewalk and pulling it up with an "oof."
"Do you want me to Shrink those for you, Harry?" Remus asked kindly, taking out his wand.
"Yeah. Thanks," Harry panted. Remus flicked his wand in a deft motion and soon Harry's trunk and owl cage were pocket-sized. "Thanks, Remus," Harry said, slipping them into his jeans pocket. "Man, I can't wait until I'm of age so I can do this stuff."
"It won't be long, Harry," Remus said, smiling at the boy.
"I know," Harry said as the three headed through the alleyway leading to Wisteria Walk. Harry noticed that the two adults tightened their grips on their own wands and he did the same. Despite not being able to use magic for trivial things like Shrinking a trunk, he knew that he could use it in life-threatening situations, like if dementors or Death Eaters showed up. And, despite his internal attempts to try and reassure himself, every shadowy corner seemed to hold a horde of Death Eaters and every soft breeze seemed to be a dementor's rattling breath.
Once they were out in the light of the fine summer's day again, Harry breathed a sigh of relief, closely echoed by Remus and Tonks. Harry could see Mrs. Figg's house in the distance and he turned toward it. However, just then, his eyes caught sight of the elementary school near the play park in Magnolia Crescent and an old man struggling to carry a load of heavy boxes. The man looked vaguely familiar and then Harry remembered. "Jim," he said.
"What?" Tonks asked. But Harry didn't answer, he was already across the street.
"Harry!" Remus said, running to catch up with the teenager, Tonks close behind. "Harry, what in Merlin's name do you think you're doing?"
"Visiting an old friend," Harry replied, lengthening his strides.
"A Muggle friend?" Harry nodded. "Harry, don't you think we look a bit . . . strange for the occasion?" This was indeed true, Remus was dressed in blue robes, patched in several places and Tonks in flaming pink to match her hair. Harry could only guess that they were dressed for Bill and Fleur's wedding.
"I didn't make you come along."
Remus rolled his eyes. "Harry, you are driving me insane."
"You mean I haven't already?"
"He's got you there, Remus," said Tonks, laughing.
Harry ignored the two and walked up to Jim who was attempting to clean up the contents of a spilled box. "Need a hand?" he asked, picking up a roll of paper towels and handing it to the old janitor.
"Thanks," Jim said hoarsely, taking the roll and glancing up at Harry. His mouth dropped open as he saw the teenager. "You aren't . . . you can't be. . . ."
"Mighty winds today, aren't there?" Harry said, a twinkle in his eyes.
"Harry!" the old man gasped. "Harry, how you've grown!"
"Took you long enough. And of course I've grown, I'm nearly seventeen now."
"Nearly seven. . . . Amazing. And who are these charming people with you? Your foster parents?" he said, gesturing at Remus and Tonks and not seeming to notice their strange apparel.
Harry looked up at the two who were standing behind him. Then he said, "Oh, no. Remus, he . . . he was a friend of my parents and he's just a friend of mine and Tonks," here his eyes lit up with mischief. "Tonks is Remus's fiancé."
"She is not!" said Remus, outraged.
"Quiet, you," said Tonks, pretending to be stern. "I'll take that."
"But we aren't even engaged yet."
"Well, then, you'd best get to it."
"Need help, Jim?" Harry asked, eager to get away from this uncomfortable situation.
"Thanks, lad," Jim said, handing Harry a few of the boxes. Harry took them, lifting them easily, his muscles toned from years of Quidditch practice. "So, you still live with your aunt and uncle?" Jim asked.
"Up until a few minutes ago," Harry said with a grin. "But I can leave them now that I'm old enough."
"Good for you, wish I could do the same, though," Jim said, sighing.
"What do you mean?"
"I just wish I could get away. I hate staying here, mopping up the floors and cleaning up kid's puke, especially now that I'm so old. Your cousin and that horrid gang of his don't make it any easier, putting graffiti all over the school walls, beating up the little ones. I just want to get away."
"Probably the country with wide-open space, I might get a horse, my dad owned a horse farm and I used to ride this little Appaloosa. Lizzie, I think her name was. Ah, yes, it was wonderful the country."
"What happened, though? Why don't you have it anymore?" Harry asked inquisitively.
"My dad died at a young age and my mum and I had to sell the farm. Mum couldn't scrape up that much, so I did a lot of the work and got used to this janitor-type stuff at an early age."
"Oh. I'm sorry," Harry said.
"No problem, it happened a long time ago," said Jim, waving an airy hand, but Harry could sense a deep hurt in him. They had reached a truck now that transported school goods and Jim began loading it up. "But look at me, dredging up ancient history. I'll work until I die, lad, you and I both know it."
"But why can't you retire? What about pensions?"
"Retire? Are you mad?" Jim asked incredulously. "This job doesn't make enough money for me to retire. I can barely afford the rent on my apartment. As for my pension, that b- . . . oh, alright, you're old enough, that bitch of a principal won't give me enough money to do so. I'm something that she's grown used to like the garden or the school roof," he said, with a slight grin. "And she'll make me work till the day I die, you see about that." As Jim finished his tale, he finished loading the truck and turned to leave.
"Wait!" Harry said, digging his money bag out of his pocket as he spoke.
"What is it, lad?"
"Here," Harry said, placing the money in the janitor's weathered and calloused palm.
Jim opened the money bag and his eyes widened as he saw the gold. "Harry why this . . . this must be a fortune! I can't take this!"
"You can and you will," Harry said firmly. "Cash it in, tell them it's old currency you dug up on the school grounds or something. That'll bother Mrs. Plinkley enough and you'll certainly get enough for it. Go get a home in the country, buy ten horses. Do what you want with it, but use it."
"But where did you get this?" Jim asked, attempting to count out the gold Galleons. "Surely you didn't steal it?"
"Of course not," Harry said. "My parents left me a large legacy and so did my godfather. I don't need half of what I have, so I want you to take part of it."
"But why are you giving it to me? I mean, you could get to very important people with this money, Harry, why me? I'm nobody."
Harry looked surprised for a moment, then said, "Because you helped me when nobody else would. You were somebody to me, Jim." And with that, he walked off, rejoining Remus and Tonks (who were now holding hands).
Jim watched the trio disappear into Mrs. Figg's house and disappear, leaving his life forever, then he gazed down at the money again, amazed. Now, Jim had never been a religious man, but he had always thought that there was something strange about Harry - good strange, like finding out you were a wizard, not bad strange - ever since he had rescued the boy from the school roof. And now he knew, Harry was an angel, an angel in disguise.
Note: To anyone who may care, this is a one-shot, not a chaptered fic. However, this story does have a companion fic called An Unlikely Hero that I'll (hopefully) be putting up soon.