A/N: Hey all! It's been a while since I've written anything outside of research papers, and though I've been reading Harry Potter fanfiction for as long as I can remember, this is my first fic for the HP fandom. I hope you enjoy it!

I am currently looking for a beta reader to discuss my storyline and give my chapters a quick onceover for spelling and grammar mistakes. Or if anyone is interested in co-writing this fic or another one that I am currently planning for, please PM me.

Thank you for reading, and please rate & review. I will definitely read and consider all your comments and suggestions. Happy Holidays!

Forced Holiday

Hermione Jean Granger was not called the Brightest Witch of Her Age for nothing. She graduated from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, the most prestigious magical school in the western continent, at the top of her class and with a handful of job offers. Shortly after, she accepted one of the positions at the French Ministry of Magic as a junior researcher shortly after graduation, and has been steadily rising up the Ministry ranks ever since.

Nevertheless, despite her accomplishments, Hermione found herself quite unsatisfied with her life. Her work left very little time for play, so she often found herself curled up on her couch at the end of a long workday, eating take-out by herself or reading a book by her fireplace. It wasn't so much that she didn't have friends, but at the age of twenty-six, most of them had gotten married and settled down. Her parents, who had both decided on early retirement, were often away traveling. Hermione had tried seeing a few blokes here and there, but eventually gave up since they never seemed to understand her commitment to her work. She responded to each disappointment by throwing herself more and more into her work, convincing herself that she would be happy once she made it to the top.

Yes, though she hid it well, Hermione Granger was a lonely witch. She didn't fool everyone, however. Her boss, Monsieur Laurent, a fifty-something, balding man with kind eyes, had been worried about her for quite some time. It was no secret that the two had grown close throughout Hermione's career, and he had come to see her as the daughter he never had. He, too, had let his ambitions precede everything else in his youth, and did not want to see her repeat his errors. As the head of her department, he also did not want her to burn out, since she was a great asset to the Department for the Protection of Magical Creatures and the French Ministry.

His solution was to give her a month off for the winter holidays, though he already knew that the suggestion would be met with much resistance. Believe it or not, Hermione Granger had never taken a day off since she became a Ministry employee at the age of seventeen. Indeed, she had been against the idea immediately, denying her need for a vacation, then argued that a month was an absurd amount of time. But Monsieur Laurent was adamant, telling her that she had more than earned the time off, and that the vacation was a direct order. He also warned her against staying in France the entire vacation, since he knew that her parents were currently in Kenya doing volunteer work with a nonprofit there.

It wasn't until she had walked out of his office that Monsieur Laurent allowed himself a small smile. He hoped that she would take his words to heart and actually allow herself to have some fun for once. Listening to her stories about her childhood, it seemed as if the young witch had spent much of her youth behind books, determined to prove herself a great witch despite her muggle upbringing. She had definitely succeeded, as she had been more than capable of defending herself during the instances that the Second Wizarding War had spilled onto the continent in the form of raids and revolts. She had truly come out of her shell, forming a group in her school where the older students tutored and trained the younger ones in academics and combat. However, as the war ended and everyone began to settle down, she seemed to have sought solace in those yellow pages and thick tomes again, growing more discouraged as each of her friends married off, leaving her one of the last of the single lot. It pained him to see her hide behind those books, working twice as hard to make up for what she didn't want to admit was missing in her life. He sincerely hoped that she would be able to find what she needed.

And maybe she could even find herself a nice young man, he mused.

After leaving the Ministry that day, Hermione owled one of her oldest friends, Fleur Delacour-Weasley, who had moved to England after marrying a curse breaker named Bill Weasley. She knew that, if she had to go somewhere, there was nowhere else she would be going but England. She certainly didn't fancy running off to a tropical island somewhere by herself, and she hadn't been back since her family left Oxford for France when she was only eight years old.

Fleur, of course, was all too excited to hear the news, telling her that she would handle finding her a place to stay, urging her to leave as soon as possible and make the most of her month. A few hours later, Hermione heard back from her blonde friend again, who asked her if she was willing to do a home exchange with her sister-in-law, Ginny Weasley, who was getting over a horrible break-up and needed to get away for a while. Hermione hesitated at first, not too keen on the idea of a stranger living in her home while she wasn't around, but relented after Fleur had vouched for the woman and begged her to do it as a favor for her. Besides, she didn't fancy having to stay at an inn for an entire month, and appreciated that she would have her own space.

As she apparated home and began packing for her departure the next day, Hermione realized that she couldn't remember the last time she had done anything remotely close to as spontaneous like this. At least this was harmless. After all, the worst that could happen was that she would be bored out of her mind from feeling idle. At best, she would be able to reconnect with her friend and finally get to visit the magical communities that she had read about but never got to visit. She hoped that the month would go by quick. She would go to England, try to have a good time, and be ready for work again when the month was up. Simple as that, right?