This is a little one-shot I had on my mind for some time. I hope you'll enjoy it. Perhaps I'll write a second part later. It is very AU and not meant to be taken very seriously.
This story has nothing to do with my HP/DG trilogy.
Her knight in shining armour
Hogwarts – 31st of October 1991
"You're big and ugly," the Torch mocked him "an ugly duckling, but far too big and heavy to ever be cute."
The Thing growled and tried to grab him, punch him and teach him a lesson, but the little bug dodged his huge hands with ease. Instantly he went aflame and the Thing flinched back. He didn't like the heat as even he felt the burn. As he tried to dodge the flames, he crashed into a table and toppled it, breaking off a leg.
"Ugly, dumb and clumsy, my, are you ill-fated." With a last laugh the Torch went to the air and left, leaving behind an angry man who thought him to be a friend – most of the times at least.
Gregory Goyle – called Greg by his friends, actually only by Vincent 'Vince' Crabbe – flinched under the glaring look of his boss.
"You have to obey and protect him," his father had ordered him before he left for Hogwarts. And Greg always followed his father's wishes. To do otherwise only meant pain – and fewer meals. Officially the fathers of Vince and Greg were friends of Lucius Malfoy, Patriarch of House Malfoy. But even Greg understood that they were more akin to lackeys, certainly not on par with their 'friend'. A single look from Lucius Malfoy was enough to send his father – who otherwise behaved like the king of the world – scrambling away, eager to please him in any way possible.
Like father like son – Greg and Vince weren't Draco's friends, not really. He treated them worse than house-elves and more than once Greg had dreamed about putting his ham-sized fist into Draco's smirking face. He had no delusions about the outcome of a magical fight between them – Greg was hardly able to create enough light with a Lumos spell to read something – but in a brawl he would knock him out with a single haymaker. That was exactly the reason why Draco spent time with Vince and him: He needed bodyguards.
Usually both boys followed him silently, glaring at everyone that dared to oppose him, eager to attack even older boys on a whim like little pit bulls. They weren't allowed to speak, they weren't allowed to express an opinion, or even think. Sometimes Greg felt like a man-trained dog. Now they were sitting a row behind Draco and Pansy, who were struggling to learn the Wingiardum spell while pretending to be bored by 'all this easy nonsense' because Draco allegedly already learned so much more from his father.
He was partially right… Draco, like all of his friends, got spell-training from his parents since he received his wand. However, with his eleventh birthday in June and being one of the youngest students of his year, he hadn't gotten much time to actually learn something before school started – this and his spoiled, lazy preposition prevented him from being the wizard he pretended to be. He was still far better than Greg and Vince and the gap widened with every day, however he was no match for someone like Daphne – a girl Greg adored and feared at the same time – or…
Greg glanced to the left. He was struggling with the spell, certainly not a first. Vince was struggling too, equally no news there. Several times they started to ask Pansy and Draco for help, but that only earned them a vicious tongue-lashing. Greg sometimes wondered if Draco was only annoyed by them or if he simply wanted them to be stupid. He wasn't certain. Daphne would certainly have been able to help him, but she was so unapproachable all the time and her looks clearly told him what she thought of him – of his talent, his intellect and his graceless manners and body. Yes, Greg may be a bit on the slow side, but he spent much time thinking about all kind of things – time he was forced to stay silent because Draco ordered him to. Greg sighed, which earned him another glare. Luckily Professor Flitwick was too close and even Draco didn't dare to say something right now. So who else? Millie was pants with Charms as well, perhaps even worse than the hulking duo. Pansy wouldn't help him as long as Draco was near, despite being much friendlier when he wasn't around. This left only…
He glanced to the left again. The Mudblood and the Blood Traitor were sitting there. He hated them, both of them. Draco told him to and he had to obey. Still, there was Professor Flitwick and he watched Greg and Vince with this sad look again, as if he knew that they would never be able to make the feather fly.
"…if you know everything then let us see how you do it…" The Blood Traitor hissed. Greg frowned. You didn't speak to a girl like this. He wasn't certain if the Mudblood was a real girl, but she looked like one. She had patiently tried to teach Blood Traitor how to cast the spell. She's a far better friend to him than Draco to me, Greg pouted. BT – as he decided to call Ron Weasley in his head from now on – was as bad as Greg in Charms, a realization that made him snicker.
"You think this is funny?" BT growled, his outburst causing Mudblood to lose her concentration. As a result her feather fell to the table again, causing BT's frown to change into a smirk. At least he lost his interest in Greg. "See? You aren't any better, bucktooth."
With a harrumph the girl sat back in her seat and crossed her arms. She seemed to be near tears, something Greg didn't want to see, feeling a bit guilty because he distracted her. It wasn't nice to mock her because of her teeth. His aunt had a big nose and she hated to be ridiculed because of it. This still left him with the problem of today's lesson.
What would 'He' do in this situation? He asked himself. Greg grinned. 'He' would trash the room and whop BT with his own arm. Greg sighed again, ignoring Draco's hiss this time. He would pay for that later, he knew. Greg narrowed his eyes and tried to think. Professor Flitwick wouldn't allow him to punch BT. However – Greg widened his eyes. Mudblood wanted to help. Greg needed help. Professor Flitwick liked cooperation. A bit hastily he turned around and put his big hand on Mudblood's shoulder, forgetting for a second that he could get her germs – whatever they were.
The girl flinched as if he hit her. "Wha…"
The girl frowned, clearly not understanding.
"You help me…" He made a circling gesture towards the feather. By now half the class watched them with interest, most of them angry like BT or disgusted like Draco. The only one smiling was Professor Flitwick. Greg simply didn't care right now. He wanted to do this, make his feather fly. He liked magic, liked to cast spells despite being mostly useless at it. He was a wizard too, was he not?
"You want me to help you with the Wingiardum spell?"
"Yes," Greg eagerly nodded. She watched him with narrowed eyes, clearly pondering his plea.
Greg looked a bit like a lost puppy, waiting for a moment before he added with his face a mask of concentration as he tried to remember his lessons in good behaviour: "please?"
Mudblood's face softened and to his surprise she responded positive: "alright, show me what you've got so far".
With incredible thunder The Thing smashed into Rhino, his superior power hurling the villain away across the street and right into the next building. Stunned by the attack, Rhino needed some time to come to his senses, shook his head while standing up again.
"Not so haughty anymore are you?" The Thing asked, his thick arms crossed in front of his powerful chest.
Greg stood up, put his comic on the sink and tried to imitate the gesture, comparing the picture in the comic with what he saw in the mirror. It wasn't the first time he imitated his big hero, despite his father's opinion. He didn't like to think about his father and how he would react to this pastime, not in moments like this where he was "The incredible Greg".
I could be a hero too, Greg mused, glancing at the picture again. I'm strong too.
With dismay he noticed a drop of water on the page of the comic. Hastily he lifted it and carefully dried it with a handkerchief, showing a concern with the comic he had more than once noticed on Granger around her beloved books. Greg liked his comics very much. No, truthfully said he actually loved them, adored the heroes in them and wanted to be like them. First it had been Hulk. Josh, his cousin or something who was living in New York, had sent him his first comic years ago as a birthday gift.
He reminded me of you, the note told. Greg never got to know whether Josh meant the size, the temper or whatever else he shared with the Hulk. However, he didn't care. Comics were better than books. They had fewer words and if he was unable to understand a sentence, the pictures explained fairly well what was happening.
His father had instantly burned the comic and forbidden to ever again read this 'dirty Muggle nonsense'. Greg had been heart-broken. He had tried to get his hands on another one, but with his family staying clear of anything Muggle and shops like Flourish & Blotts not selling anything like this, it had been impossible – impossible until Josh sent him another one several months later. Greg had been more careful this time and hid the comic. Only at night or when his father was away with his friends – mostly doing lowly errands for Lucius Malfoy – did he dare to retrieve it from its hidden stash and enjoy it. It was those hours he lived for, hours when he wasn't 'Greg the big, dumb boy without any talent' but 'Greg the Incredible'.
Like everything nice that happened to him, it ended – far too soon and with an ugly bang.
Draco had noticed the comic and despite Greg's frantic urges his 'friend' ran straight to his father. Merlin, had he gotten a beating. Naturally the comic had been burned. Actually, his father had forced him to burn it himself.
He had been depressed for weeks – depressed and angry towards Draco, his 'friend'.
The woman screamed in fear. She was wedged under the steel beam and the fire got closer with every second. No way to escape, nobody there to help. At least that was what she thought, already settling her affairs with no hope left to survive this mayhem.
Only then did she notice the broad-shouldered figure stomping towards her. The woman screamed again, this time because a part of the wall came crushing down on the man. He simply shouldered it away and continued towards her. For a moment she flinched back as she noticed his stony skin. His broad smile certainly didn't help to ease her, but The Thing didn't hesitate. He would help her, irrespective of what she thought of him. He didn't do this for friendship, but because it was the right thing to do.
His large, shovel-like hands grabbed the steel beam and lifted it like a children's toy. Tossing it aside, he offered the woman a hand to help her up. For a moment she hesitated. Then she accepted his hand and his help.
Her smile was dazzling.
In the beginning it had been the Hulk, but later his favourite turned out to be The Thing. He was nearly as strong as Hulk, but far nicer. He had a big, soft heart, was able to make friends and, while not as intelligent as Mister Fantastic, he certainly had brains too. Greg often imagined being like his hero, helping people, smashing the villains and getting adoring smiles from everyone in return. He never got smiles, even less adoring ones. The Gryffindors glared, the Slytherins despised him and the other Houses showed neutral ignorance at best.
It didn't help that Draco wasn't a Mister Fantastic. He thought too much of himself and wasn't half as intelligent as he claimed to be. Certainly he was neither a boss nor a friend like Mister Fantastic would be.
Speaking of friends – BT was even worse than Draco at that. Mudblood had been very helpful and patient. In the end Greg had actually been able to cast the spell. Sure, his feather hadn't been very steady in its flight and only moved up from the table for about two feet. It was still far more than he had thought possible and even earned him congratulations from Professor Flitwick. Draco had been disgusted. BT had been furious. After the lesson he had yelled at the girl, called her a bucktoothed know-it-all without any friends. Unable this time to hold back her tears, Mudblood had run away. None of her housemates stopped her. None of them tried to placate her or scolded BT for his behaviour. Shouldn't the bloody Gryffindors be… I don't know… nicer?
Draco had been furious too, but Greg was used to that. He had endured the yelling and the stinging hexes, braved the usual belittling and agreed as expected when Draco ordered him to never again do something like this. Afterwards he had shrugged and continued his normal life as a brainless hulking shadow. Everything was as it was meant to be.
Greg had no idea how much his life would change because of one small silly idea – an idea and a comic.
"I would like to see your face."
The woman was standing at his side on the roof garden. The smell of flowers filled the air and rain had washed the sky clean from the fumes of the city.
"No, you wouldn't," the Thing responded sadly. "I'm ugly."
"For me you are not." With a soft gesture she placed her hand on his skin. He expected her to flinch back but she didn't. Her dazzling smile actually broadened – the smile below her blind eyes.
"She has been in there since Charms," Parvati told her friend Lavender. "She's still crying and doesn't want to get out."
"It's her own fault," Lavender responded without remorse. She didn't like Granger and never would. "She shouldn't have spoken with that brute."
Neither girl knew they were passing by Greg who was in one of his hiding places. He had left after Charms, allegedly to train a bit. Actually he did that quite often, had even got Madam Hooch's help with setting up a little training area near the Quidditch field. He used something he once saw in an American Football film as a model – not that his father or Draco knew about that part. Madam Hooch had realized it but had not uttered a word.
She was actually one of only two teachers showing any respect towards Greg, even going as far as training Vince and him, urging them to try out as beaters next year. The second one was Madam Sprout. Perhaps it was her kind nature. Perhaps it was because Greg was surprisingly gentle and careful with the plants. In any case, she was always friendly to him. Hagrid could have been the third teacher in this little group. However, Greg was mean towards him like he was expected to from his boss, with Draco always mocking the half-breed. Greg didn't like this. He would prefer far more to speak with the big man about creatures of all kinds as he really liked the subject, and even intended to choose it in third year – if Draco allowed it.
Yes, he was training quite often, wanted to stay fit at least, even if he had no hope to ever get graceful or something that could be called agile. He liked to be sweaty, his heart pumping. It gave him a feeling of being alive, of having accomplished something and not being worthless. Sometimes however he used those hours to slink away. His beloved comic hidden under his robes, he went to one of his hiding places and relived the adventures of his big hero. In those hours he was mighty as well. He was a hero, respected and adored. Villains would fear him. Heroes would try to imitate him – try and fail hopelessly, as he was unmatchable. He was Greg the Incredible.
Vince was the only one knowing about his dirty little secret, but he didn't tell. Vince, like Greg, didn't like how Draco treated them. He had different dreams than Greg but still he had dreams too about a better future. However, he behaved like expected: a well-trained little servant. He would never defend Greg from Draco's wrath but at least he wouldn't betray him either. It was one of the reasons Greg saw a real friend in him – a friend and not a boss or an ally.
Greg glanced at the girls and followed her gesture. Patil – the silly one not the bright and nice one that once helped him in Astronomy – pointed towards the girl lavatory. The girls slowly left, their conversation turning to the Halloween party that would start very soon. The Halloween party! Greg's eyes widened. He was already a bit late. Draco would be waiting for him in the Slytherins' common room. For a moment his eyes returned to the lavatory's door. He had this weird feeling again – guilt. It was his fault that she was hiding therein – partially at least. Without him asking her for help, BT would have left her alone.
Greg sighed. It wasn't like he could help her. She wouldn't appreciate his presence. Hell, he couldn't even enter the room. It was a girls' lavatory. She'll cope, he mused with a shrug of his broad shoulders. She doesn't need me. Carefully hiding his comic under his robes again, he scrambled away.
Time to party!
He hated it.
He hated to run around like this.
Draco had forced Vince and him to change into this stupid something. What did he call it? Roman gladiator something. They wore a kind of linen shorts, sandals and leather bands around their chests. Oil had been rubbed into their skin and now looked like some cage animal. At least the oil protected him from the cold. Why couldn't he go as a super hero? No, he had to look silly – again. He had to follow Draco and Pansy around who posed as Roman nobles. If Greg wanted to know how silly he looked – and why even BT, who was wearing an ugly Chudley Cannons jersey, was smirking – he had only to glance at Vince.
His friend stoically endured the humiliation but Greg slowly felt his heckles rising.
He hated it.
The door to the Great Hall banged open and someone stumbled into the hall, down the free aisle between the rows of Gryffindor and Slytherin. Greg needed a moment to recognize Professor Quirrell. He looked very paled and ill. He staggered.
Greg pricked up his ears.
"A Troll in the dungeons."
Quirrell took another few steps and went down in a heap before anybody could catch him. Apparently he had feinted.
"Everybody stay calm."
Greg sighed. The un-calmest one in the hall was Headmaster Dumbledore himself.
"The staff will search the castle for the intruder. Prefects, lead the students back to your common rooms. Keep calm and stay together. No wandering around; leave nobody behind."
Greg rolled his eyes. Draco and Pansy were whispering frantically about the seriousness of the story. Had Quirrell actually seen a troll or was he imagining things? Why did he faint? Wasn't he supposed to be at the front line to fight the creature, being DADA teacher and all?
Leave nobody behind.
Greg came to a sudden stop. Someone slammed into his back and started to curse. Greg ignored him like he ignored Vince's questioning look.
Leave nobody behind.
He hastily looked around towards the Gryffindors. BT was there as were his brothers, his oldest gathering their housemates. He saw Potter as well and a few others. Longbottom the clumsy one was there, Patil and that flower-named girl chattering like mad. However, he saw no bushy-haired head. I wouldn't overlook her, would I? Despite her petite size she normally was hardly to miss, mostly because of her mass of hair and her loud voice. Mudblood never stopped to speak and in a moment like this it would hardly change.
She isn't there, Greg realized. She's still in the lavatory.
Without thinking he changed directions, pushed through the ranks of his housemates, ignoring the complaints, hisses and insults.
It's my fault she's there. She was only being nice and now the troll will kill here.
He scampered away. Somewhere behind him Vince called his name. One of the Slytherin prefects did the same. Greg didn't listen. None of the Gryffindors cared. He had heard the girls. They would be relieved to see Mudblood killed. It was so unfair. He was despised because of his lack of intellect. She was scorned because she had too much of it. Nobody lifted a finger to safe her. Nobody turned around to help him.
Greg pushed the door open and left the hall.
They were all alone in this.
He felt so exhausted, deathly exhausted. Blood was dripping down from his shoulder – or the fluid that worked as blood for him. Doctor Octopus was a hell of an opponent. He had already knocked out Mister Fantastic; he dowsed the Torch with water from a torn off hydrant. Now Susan tried to rescue her brother and her beloved husband while he had to distract this overwhelming villain.
The Thing glanced around. The street looked like a war zone. Dozens of cars were burning or lying around like broken toys. Hundreds of windows were shattered and a few smaller houses actually destroyed. At least there were no civilian casualties so far.
This won't change today, he promised silently. The Thing glared angrily at Doctor Octopus, who was ignoring him and looking around, certainly searching for the last member of the Fantastic four. You won't get her, the Thing snarled. She's like my little sister and you won't hurt her.
Picking up a broken car like it weighed nothing, the Thing started to whirl around, doing circles with increasing speed, the car following his motions like a throwing hammer on a sports field. In a few seconds he won't ignore me anymore, the Thing grinned. He loosened his grip and like a missile the car advanced towards its destination.
Greg cursed as he rounded the last corner only to see that BT and Scarhead had somehow been faster. Both boys were standing right in front of the lavatory, congratulating each other. Blasted gits. He wanted to be the hero, not them. Greg frowned. Something was wrong. If they had already taken care of the problem, where was Mudblood?
"What are you doing here, Crabbe?"
Greg rolled his eyes. "I'm Goyle. Crabbe is the other one." They were meant to be the clever one and couldn't even distinguish between Vince and him?
"Whatever," Ron shrugged. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you hide in some rat hole?" He snickered, but Greg ignored him, instead addressing Scarhead who had been silent so far.
"Where is Mudblood?" He looked around. "And where is the troll?"
"Mudblood?" Harry asked. He had heard the insult once or twice, mostly used by Draco to hurt Hermione. Why did the Slytherin care? Had he been doing the same, looking for Hermione? It couldn't be.
Ron puffed his chest and drawled: "we've taken care of him. We locked him into the lavatory." He appeared to expect some kind of praise but actually got a big hand grabbing his robes and pushing him into the wall.
"You did what?" Greg fumed.
"Let me go, you damned snake," Ron growled and tried to break free. It was hopeless. Greg was far stronger thanks to his training and right now he was more than pissed, both by the boy's stupidity as well as his dream of being Greg the Incredible shattering around him.
"Idiot," Greg growled but actually let go, only to hurry towards the door. Fruitlessly he tried to open it, getting only mocking laughter from Ron. "Told you we locked him in. Who's the idiot now?"
"Open it," Greg ordered.
"Why should we?" Ron asked, ignoring the simple fact that he couldn't do it in any case as he had to rely on Harry for the spell casting.
"Because Mudblood was in there, crying because of you worthless worm," Greg fumed, his voice getting louder with every word.
"Mudblood? You mean Hermione?" Harry asked deathly pale. He had convinced Ron to search for her. Had he now caused her death?
"Mudblood. Granger. Bushy hair, big teeth. Helps everyone, even stupid prats and evil snakes." Greg kicked the door. "Now open the blasted door."
"He's lying, Harry." Ron tried to stop his friend. "You can't trust…"
A ham-sized fist stopped his complaints. It was a single twist of the body, a single heave of the broad shoulders, before strong muscles hurled Greg's hand into Ron's face like he had imagined more than once – only that it had been Rhino or some other villain he imagined at the end of his power punch.
Slightly shocked Harry watched his red-haired friend go down in a heap. A single haymaker had knocked him out cold. He only came to his senses as Greg shook his shoulders. "Open the door, Scarhead."
With a last glance towards Ron, Harry complied.
His voice was a bit shaky but he succeeded at casting the spell nonetheless, the spell he had learned right from the girl he wanted to rescue now – together with a Slytherin to add. As the door opened, a girl's scream greeted them, evaporating the last doubts he may have felt. The scream greeted them and an incredible smell. Hurrying into the lavatory, they heard a crashing noise. Something wooden shattered and seconds later Harry's heart nearly stopped. The eleven-foot Troll was swinging a club longer than Harry around, destroying cubicle after cubicle while trying to fetch something scurrying around – something or someone.
The Troll stopped swinging his club and turned around, looking for the cause of his distraction.
Harry had to admit that he was impressed by Greg's aim. The Slytherin was standing right beside a shattered sink – the sight making Harry ill as he wondered what would happen should the creature hit someone with his club, someone like a first year student – and used the remaining fragments as missiles. The chunks didn't do any real damage, but apparently they annoyed the Troll at least, distracted him from his intended victim.
What can I do? Harry wondered, while observing how the Troll slowly turned around and advanced towards Goyle. Behind him Hermione became visible, completely in shock. She wouldn't be able to run away, Harry realized. None of the spells he knew would do any damage to a creature this size.
"You…" *tonk* "…stupid…" *tonk* "…heap…" *tonk* "…of shit."
The speech was neither nice nor extremely imaginative, but it did its job. Together with the renewed hail of stone missiles it was enough to let the Troll completely ignore Hermione – or Harry. Suddenly the Gryffindor had an epiphany, realizing the remains of the lavatory, the crashed sink beside the Troll, how he was moving.
Greg, who had felt so good for a few moments, who had felt like a real hero – one about whom could be stories written about – scowled as he watched Scarhead running towards the Troll. No, he wasn't running towards the Troll but towards the sink. Don't, he thought slightly angered. This is my battle. Harry naturally didn't know and wouldn't have listened anyway. He jumped on the sink and immediately followed up with a second jump, this time on the back of the Troll. With sheer determination he was able to get a grab and hold fast while trying to pull himself up high enough to reach his face. For a moment the Troll was confused, thinking about how to grab the nuisance while keeping his club in his hand.
This is my battle, Greg growled again, jumping forward and smashing the stone he had wanted to throw onto the big toe of the Troll. The Troll roared in pain and started to jump around. Harry had difficulties to hold on but still tried to get closer to his face.
Greg's eyes fell on Mudblood's face. She was still very frightened and deathly pale, but her eyes rested on Harry who was riding the Troll like a made bull. There was obvious concern in her eyes. Why can't she look at me like this? Greg wondered sadly. His sadness turned into anger as he watched Scarhead shoving his wand into the Troll's nose, further distracting him. I should leave them, Greg thought, his mood deflating and his shoulders sacking. She doesn't want me to be her hero.
Harry was slowly getting ill from the mad ride. The Troll was still dancing and whirling around. He had long lost his club and tried to pick him off. He had no idea how to continue. Sooner or later the Troll would be able to get hold of him. With slight despair he noticed Greg walking away, apparently wanting to leave.
You can't trust a Slytherin; he heard Ron's voice in his head. Harry shook his head. No, that wasn't right. Goyle had gone after Hermione. He wanted to rescue her. Without him they wouldn't have known…
Goyle stopped and turned around. What a sight to behold: Harry riding the Troll. All around them were the shattered remains of the lavatory. And over there was Mudblood cowering, staring at him with wide eyes. She only now seemed to really see him – see and recognize. She seemed surprised. Why is she surprised? Greg wondered. I'm her hero, am I not?
Only he wasn't. He wasn't the incredible Greg. He was a little boy pouting because Scarhead dared to intrude into the fight he wanted to be his chance at becoming a hero. However, it wasn't about him. It was about her and what he had to do.
He didn't do this for friendship, but because it was the right thing to do.
Something clicked in Greg's broad chest, like a switch turned in his mighty heart. His face turned into a masked of fury. His shoulders tensed. He got down in a hunched stance, one he had seen in the same film about football training. For a moment Harry and Hermione watched him curiously, their eyes widening as the Slytherin let out a mighty growl and started to run towards the Troll. His mighty legs pumping, one shoulder put slightly forward, he closed the gap with a dozen fast steps. The Troll, still trying to catch his involuntary rider, was completely caught by surprise. With a mighty crash the boy hurled himself against the Troll's leg like he had done so often with that Football obstacle, a kind of padded wooden rack. He hit the knee with the whole power of his not too puny body. It instantly buckled and the Troll started to topple.
"Jump away, Harry."
He instantly followed Hermione's command and felt his fall being slowed by her Wingiardum spell. The Troll on the other hand had nobody to slow him. He came crashing down, his head smashing against the sink – the same sink he had destroyed minutes ago. A last time the Troll groaned in pain before his body relaxed, caught in happy unconsciousness.
For a moment there was only silence.
His head hurt like hell. With a low groan he opened his eyes and tried to take a look around.
"Easy man," he was stopped by a big hand. Greg knew this hand and voice well enough.
"Who else?" His friend asked back with a grin.
Yes, who else? Draco wasn't there and Pansy neither. He hadn't expected to see them but still felt disappointed. Wouldn't a friend be there? A friend like Vince.
"You alright?" Vince asked with some concern.
"Yeah," Greg answered, instantly regretting that he tried to nod. Slowly the memories returned. He had slammed into the Troll's knee. The Troll had toppled to the ground, smashing him into the stone floor with his immense weight. Luckily nothing seemed to be broken. Or Madam Pomfrey had already healed him. He still felt sore overall and it hurt everywhere.
Greg just wanted to ask Vince what happened to Mudblood and Scarhead as the door opened and Professor Snape entered the Hospital Wing. His black robes billowed behind him and he stepped nearer with wide, fast steps. His face didn't betray any emotion besides a light curiosity.
"You're awake, good. Feeling better, Mister Goyle?"
"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir." Despite his snarky behaviour Professor Snape actually cared about his students. Greg knew it. He had seen him calming an upset, homesick Tracey Davis.
"Good," Snape slightly narrowed his eyes, for a moment pondering about Crabbe before he spoke to Goyle again. "Get better soon. I'm certain Mister Crabbe will help you not to fall behind for the next days."
"Yes, sir, I will." Vince hastened to agree. Greg grinned. Vince hated taking notes as he had troubles with writing.
"Good," Snape nodded. "Slytherins stick together." He slightly pronounced the word 'Slytherins' while watching Goyle. He understood. Snape turned to walk away but stopped again for a moment. "Some friendships are not meant to be, Mister Goyle. They're dangerous for both sides."
"I understand, Sir," Greg said with a sad voice. They wouldn't be friends. She wouldn't thank him for his heroism with a dazzling smile. "Sir," he stopped his Head of the House. "What happened to Mudblood?"
Snape frowned at the word. "Don't use that word. It's unbecoming."
Surprisingly Greg felt only relief. At least he could still call Weasel 'BT' in his mind. "What happened to Granger?"
"She's well." Snape glanced at Crabbe before he continued. "Apparently she was rescued by Potter and Weasley. Redhead is strutting around telling everybody how he knocked out the Troll with a levitated club." Greg wanted to interrupt but Snape continued with a glare. "It's only just and right that one obnoxious Gryffindor was rescued by two other oh-so-brave Gryffindors, don't you think so? A Slytherin would never act so reckless and stupid."
Crabbe looked from his Professor to his friend and back, trying to decipher was this was about.
"You're right, Sir." Greg agreed a bit deflated.
"When am I not?" Snape asked mockingly. "Mister Goyle. Mister Crabbe." With a last nod he left the room, left the boys alone with their own thoughts.
Two months later
His part in the adventure had never been mentioned. Everybody still believed that it had been Scarhead and BT who rescued Granger. Granger – he liked to call her that, both in his head and in the class room. Not that he did the latter very often. Following Professor Snape's advice he kept his distance. He never again asked for help, but also never insulted her. It still hurt that he couldn't defend her against Draco and Pansy. At least Vince followed his example and left Granger alone. His friend never asked why he behaved like he did. Vince simply trusted him.
Someone had apparently spoken with Granger too. She neither supported nor objected to BT's claims about his bravery. She never thanked Greg, at least not with words. A small smile and a single nod, more he never got. It wasn't even a dazzling smile, but far more than Pansy, Daphne and the other girls even showed. It was enough.
It hurt and felt good to watch her with her new friends. Somehow the trio had bonded over the Troll adventure and BT slowly seemed to actually believe his own lies. She has friends now, Greg thought a bid sad. She doesn't need me.
He had been at home over Christmas and only there he noticed that he had lost his comic in the lavatory. For the rest of the break he felt floored. Greg could hardly tell his parents about his loss. Even Josh would be hard pressed to find another copy of the comic. And it was far too late to have a look at the lavatory – not that he had the urge to visit a girls' lavatory in the slightest. Certainly Filch found it long ago and burned it. Or put it in that case of banned and confiscated items.
I should have been more careful, Greg mused, his mind not really on the lesson. History of Magic was boring as always. Professor Binns was even worse than before Christmas. Perhaps winter darkness was depressing him too. Could a ghost feel depression?
Something caught Greg's eye. His bag, standing beside his desk, seemed to move on its own. Its flap moved. With a deep frown he just wanted to act as he sniffed something. It was a scent well-known, reminding him of old parchment and book-leather. Granger? Something – no: someone – moved around the classroom invisibly. He had no idea how she was doing it, but he wouldn't betray her. Greg noticed Vince questioning look. He shrugged and his friend went back to sleeping through the rest of the lesson.
What have you done, Granger? What have you done?
It was hours later that he at last had a chance to have a look at his bag without prying eyes. With confusion he noticed a gift-wrapped package about the size of a book. He pulled it from the bag and it even felt like a book. The curtains drawn, his doing protected from view – not that Draco cared what he was doing, being far too occupied to tell Nott and Zabini what presents he got from his parents – he gently pulled the wrapping paper away, disclosing something he hadn't hoped to ever see again: it was his comic, completely without smirches and wrinkles. There was a little paper note added to the top of it.
Found this. Thought you certainly want it back.
Thank you. H.G.
Carefully he put it aside, still not willing to fully believe he had it back. With wide eyes he took a look at the rest of the package. There were more comics. Hulk. Fantastic Four. Thor. All in all nearly a dozen comics. In his mind a real treasure. The best however was the last one. It was a small comic, only half the size of the others and only eight pages long. However those eight pages contained something very special. Its pictures and words contained…
The first adventure of Greg the Incredible.
This was it. So far no permanent friendship and certainly no HG/GG romance but 'simply' an act of bravery caused by a Muggle comic. Hope you enjoyed it.