I was sitting at work yesterday when this idea hit me. Then last night it evolved, changing into what is written below. Enjoy!
Please review; let me know what you think.
If this becomes as therapeutic as I hope it will be to write it and you all like it well enough, this could very well evolve into a series of fluffy one shots.
Hermione's reading speed has been edited as of 7/9/2019.
Hermione smiled to herself as she graded the last spelling test from earlier that day. Excited students laughed and chattered all around the room. In less than twenty minutes Christmas holidays would begin and her pseudo children would be out of her hair for nearly three weeks. Good thing too, seeing as her hair had gone crazier than usual. Outside the snow fell steadily, piling like fluffy clouds on the ground. Frost covered the windows in a thin glaze, sparse sunlight displaying a kaleidoscope of color. A shriek of laughter had Hermione whipping her head around, gaze falling immediately to a group of boys. They were flipping a paper ball back and forth across their group of desks and the ring leader appeared to be a blonde haired boy with bright blue eyes. Jack Hotchner flicked the ball and it had bounced of Michael Goodman's forehead. Once more they burst into raucous laughter.
Trying not to laugh herself, she stood and clapped her hands together, instantly getting the students attention. The room was enveloped in a hushed silence, little bodies vibrating in their chairs.
"Alright everyone, I think we're done for the day. Let's gather our things and we'll sneak out a bit early. What do you say?"
Smiles bloomed on every face and bodies began moving at near lightning speed. Little hands grabbed goose down snow jackets and hats, mittens falling to the floor in their haste. Books and papers were stuffed into backpacks of all colors and designs, the crunch of paper indicating their level of care. Minutes later they were piling in front of the door, bouncing in place. Hermione pulled on her knee length leather jacket over her dark skirt suit, thick leather gloves molding to her fingers. Slipping her laptop into her bag she gathered her 'to grade' folder, shouldered her messenger bag and reached for her trusty beaded bag. Flicking off the lights she grabbed the doorknob and held a finger to her lips.
Smiling she whispered, "Happy Christmas."
The students giggled when her accent crept into her voice. It wasn't often these days that the thickness of it showed but there were a few phrases where it was unmistakable. Almost in sync they repeated the endearment.
"Happy Christmas Ms. Granger."
Easing the door open she peeked out, looking for anyone to give away their escape. Hermione waved them forward and felt a little bit of rebellion surface, her heart pounding as her kids snuck through the open door, one by one. It was almost like sneaking around Hogwarts again. After the last one slipped by; she too snuck out the door and closed it behind her with a soft click. The kids were giggling as they ducked under doors and windows, sneakers squeaking on the freshly waxed marble floor. Reaching the front doors they burst through into the falling snow and bright sunlight. A gust of wind hit Hermione's cheeks, the skin instantly turning pink and a shiver going through her body. The group of eight year olds looked at her expectantly, waiting for permission. When she gave a nod they scattered. Some hopped on the already parked school buses while others ran to the car pickup line and crawled into warm, idling vehicles. With ease Hermione counted them all, one at a time, scanning for unfamiliar adult faces. When they were all accounted for, Hermione was left standing alone on the school steps. The last of her students was Jack Hotchner. She watched him walk over to a bench and sit down, to wait patiently for his Aunt Jessica.
According to Jack, his father was away on another case and had been for almost a week and a half. Hermione resisted the urge to frown, determined not to be a hypocrite. She had done time as an Auror herself, six years of never being home except to sleep and a shove a granola bar in her mouth. Several more usually had gone in her cargo pockets and a pepper up down her throat before going right back at it again. Hermione understood the jobs demands better than most; she knew the urge, the drive to bring criminals, monsters to justice. However she still disliked how often Jack was separated from his father. Jessica Brooks was a wonderful woman but she had her own life, her own commitments. And could never be a replacement for a parent. Hermione hoped to meet Mr. Hotchner soon. Jack had taken great pride in telling the whole class that his father would be at their career day in January, whether as a lawyer or FBI agent the boy hadn't decided yet. Mr. Hotchner had told him he could choose. The final bell of the day wrung, pulling Hermione from her own consciousness.
Students bust through the double doors, racing toward freedom. Hermione steeled herself against the bustling sea of children. As it thinned out and cars began leaving one after another she found herself gravitating toward the bench that Jack rested on. The schoolyard was soon empty; all that was left were the footprints in the snow. Another ten minutes went by and Hermione became worried. Walking over to Jack she sat down on the bench next to him and adjusted her skirt, trying to cut out the unpleasant draft sneaking up the garment.
"Your Aunt is picking you up today right Jack?"
Jack nodded as he looked around.
"My dad was on his way home this morning but didn't think he'd make it in time to pick me up, so Aunt Jessica is supposed to."
"We'll wait for a little bit longer and if she doesn't get here, we'll make a few phone calls okay?"
Jack smiled and nodded.
"Would you tell me more about England?"
"Alright Jack, how about we go make that phone call?"
Hermione stood with him and retrieved her things, following him back to the main doors.
"Ms. Granger, why does it rain so much in England?"
Hermione paused, shrugging. "I don't know Jack. It just does."
Inside the main office she waved off the secretary who had been getting ready to leave herself. Approaching the student files she eyed the drawers before pulling one open, the metal cabinet screeching at the abuse. They really needed new ones. Flicking through the neatly filed manila folders she found Jack's and removed it, closing the drawer with her hip. Setting it on the desk she opened it and located Jack's emergency contact information before picking up the phone and dialing. There was no answer at Jessica Brooks home, nor her cell phone. The same results were produced when calling Mr. Hotchners office and cell phone. Hermione left a voicemail at each number, explaining that Jack was still at the school with her and if they could please call the main office upon receipt of the message. Sighing she hung up the phone and leaned back in the chair, watching Jack swing his feet across the desk, his sneakers lighting up every time they bumped the chair. The puff ball on his beanie bounced with the movement.
"I'll try back in a few minutes. Your dad probably hasn't turned his phone back on quite yet."
Jack raised his head to look at her, a mischievous grin on his face.
"Ms. Granger, could you take me there?"
Hermione did a double take so quick, her neck hurt. "What?"
Jack hopped off the chair, sneakers lighting up again.
"It's not far, I promise! And I have the address, dad made sure I knew it."
Hermione raised her hands to ward off his excitement, fearful it would be her downfall.
"Oh no Jack, we can't do that. It's against school policy and besides, what happens if your Aunt Jessica shows up and we're not here? What happens if your dad calls the school?"
Jack shook his head energetically, his beanie falling down over his eyes. He lifted it up, hair sticking on end from the static electricity.
"Aunt Jessica has been tired, she's working a lot. She overslept this morning and that's why we were late. My dad's home, we can let her sleep."
Hermione glanced at her watch guiltily, noting that it had been almost an hour and a half since school had let out. Merlin knew how long she would wait here for someone to pick Jack up and though she didn't mind one bit, she feared for her knitting basket. Crookshanks was home alone and had been awful moody the last few days since his trip to the vet's office. If he mangled her yarn again she wouldn't be responsible for the Kneazle skin rug that would decorate her living room. Glancing back at Jack she had a foreboding feeling she would regret this.
"You know the address?"
Jack nodded fervently.
"Are you sure?"
He nodded again and Hermione swore his head would pop off.
"Alright, we can go. C'mon."
Jack let out a whoop of joy and grabbed her hand, dragging her toward the door. She was barely able to flick her fingers discreetly and direct his folder back into the cabinet before the office door shut. Jack was practically dragging her along in the direction of the teacher's parking lot.
"Hold on Jack, slow down. We'll get there, I promise."
They reached the parking lot and Jack stopped short. He looked up at Hermione, eyebrow raised.
"What do you drive Ms. Granger? My dad has a big black SUV."
Hermione laughed and dug through her beaded purse, berating herself for putting her keys in there in the first place. It was a magically enhanced, bottomless bag after all.
"See that blue truck over there?"
Jack's eyes got wide.
"The one with the otter on it?"
Hermione nodded. Jack hurried over to the vehicle, running his hands over the silver otter airbrushed along the rear panel, the animal surrounded in a mist that traveled the length of the truck bed. On the back window in cursive writing the word Marauder glittered in the setting sun, offset by the dark tint on the glass. Jack ran over to the passenger side, and grabbed the door handle.
"Is it open yet?"
Hermione shook her head and set a hand on her door, near the key lock.
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
The door locks popped.
"Can you get in on your own Jack? It's kind of high."
When Hermione pulled her door open she found her question was a moot point. Jack sat in the passenger seat, backpack on the floor and a huge smile on his face. He was already buckled in and ready to go.
"I like trucks but dad said we can't have one, too much snow. And Uncle Derek says they 'guzzle gas'. I don't know what that means but if Uncle Derek says so it must be true."
Hermione shook her head ruefully, wondering what kind of man this 'Uncle Derek' was. Hoisting herself into the vehicle she set her stuff in the back seat of the cab. Her truck was indeed a gas guzzler but she had money to spare these days and frankly she loved it too much to part with it. It had been her first purchase in the muggle world, after leaving the Auror Division. Shortly after she began teaching and writing, helping edit college textbooks and transcribing her own both in the muggle and magical world. Five years later and she was left wondering where the time had gone sometimes. Every year she added to her truck, whether it was new leather seats or a stereo upgrade. It was an anniversary sort of thing. The day she died would be the day she gave her baby up. Buckling up Hermione started the truck, eyes widening in mock indignation as Jack reached for the stereo controls. Jack batted his eyelashes, and twitched his fingers comically.
Hermione nodded and shifted the truck into drive before pulling from the parking lot. Merlin was this kid trouble, no matter how adorable he was.
The main FBI building was an unassuming stone structure however its size was pretty imposing. The fullness of the parking lot surprised Hermione, the thought of so many people working in one building was astounding. The sheer volume of people they had seen walking the lobby in the last few minutes was undoubtedly only a fraction of the manpower inside the building. To be honest she was sure this office outnumbered the DMLE office ten to one. Suddenly she wondered what their budget looked like. She was jerked from her thoughts by a sharp tug on the sleeve of her jacket. Looking down at Jack she smiled.
"Where do we go from here?"
Jack took a moment to think before pulling her toward the elevator.
"The fifth floor is where my dad works."
Stepping into the elevator Hermione was uncomfortably aware of the fact that everybody in the small space carried at least one firearm. She may have been a school teacher but some instincts never went away, including awareness of weaponry. Her shoulders were tight, hands clenched. To make matters worse she was a former Auror who was kept on retainer and used more often than she should have been. Her name was still on payroll for special instances, which she doubted was even legal. Hermione was all too aware that she was in someone else's jurisdiction, uninvited, armed and unnoticed. She would have been lying if she told anyone she was completely retired.
The elevator stopped on the second floor, letting off some people and bringing more on. The doors slid closed again and it continued to rise once more. Jack fidgeted next to her, his small body between her and the wall. Hermione let out a heavy breath, willing her civilian mindset to take over. Merlin this was uncomfortable. The elevator opened again on the fifth floor and she followed Jack into the hall. He looked to be thinking hard, eyeing all the different doors and hallway choices. Hermione didn't question him when he pulled on some glass double doors. Holding it open she let him through first, Batman staring menacingly at her from his backpack.
The room was huge with a lowered center that housed desks covered in computers and file baskets. It reminded her of the DMLE, just a tad. Off to the left a stairway went up to an elevated walkway and a partial second floor. Phones wrung off and on throughout the room and people bustled in and out.
"Jack, where are we?"
Jack was spinning in place, looking for a familiar face.
"Uncle Derek says this is the 'bull pen' but I don't know why it's called that. I've never seen any bulls here."
Hermione smothered a laugh.
"Who is Uncle Derek?"
Jack suddenly got excited and point across the room.
"There he is, so is dad! Hi dad!"
Before Hermione could grab him he took off toward the stairs and scrambled up them toward a pair of well built men. One was tall; dark skinned and had dark eyes while the other was slightly shorter and stockier with thick dark hair and sharp features. When Jack caught the second man in a flying tackle around the legs she figured this was his father. Hermione bent down and picked up Jack's backpack and hat that had been discarded in his haste. She tried to summon a smile as she climbed the steps, ears picking up the growing silence in the room. The eyes that watched her openly made her want to run to the loo and fix her appearance. Her leather boots made no noise on the carpet and her jacket whispered around her legs.
Hermione met 'Uncle Derek's' assessing gaze head on and held out her hand.
"Uncle Derek, this is my teacher Ms. Granger."
Derek gripped her hand tight, enveloping her fingers in warmth.
"Hello Uncle Derek."
Derek didn't say anything, and instead turned to Jack.
"Hey buddy, we were just talking about you. Garcia has a surprise in her office, just for you."
Jack's eyes lit up. "Penny?"
Derek nodded and Jack took off like a rocket down the hall. Derek nodded to Hotch and followed Jack at a sedated pace. Hermione watched them for a brief moment before turning to Hotch. Holding out her hand once more Hermione tried for a pleasant smile.
"Mr. Hotchner I presume?"
Hotch shook her hand.
"Ms. Granger was it?"
"Thank you for bringing Jack here to me; but how exactly did this come about? Has he done something wrong?"
Quickly Hermione began to explain what had happened, being as succinct as possible.
"Jack thinks Ms. Brooks may be working too much."
Hotch nodded and motioned for her to walk with him.
"I thought she may be stretching herself too thin and I told her I would get a proper sitter if need be. She assured me she was fine but that is obviously not the case."
Hermione wasn't sure what to say so she kept her mouth shut. Her opinion here did not matter. It was a family issue and as long as Jack was whole and happy she had no right to intrude. She tried not to look impatient as Hotch gave her assurances that it wouldn't happen again and that a proper sitter would be found when needed. People were giving her odd looks for the first time that day as they got closer and closer to the bull pen where Jack was happily talking with a vibrantly dressed blonde.
Hermione soon found herself shaking hands with several people as Jack introduced them one at a time. Glancing at her watch Hermione was ready to beg off, worry for her knitting basket increasing. Crookshanks was no doubt up to trouble, paying her back three fold for his supposed pain and suffering. Despite Jack asking her to stay Hermione was and had been ready to leave the moment she stepped into the building. She opened her mouth to say her goodbyes when her titled name caught her attention.
Voices around her stopped, the BAU team becoming silent and wary at the new bit of information. Hermione visibly cringed, uncomfortable with someone mentioning her qualifications in a room full of near mind readers. She turned to find a lithe young man a few inches taller than her with soft features and darky wavy hair framing his face. He too had a gun on his belt, this one a small revolver and Hermione tried not to stare as she accepted his outstretched hand. He was a very effeminate man.
"Dr. Granger, I don't know if you remember me but I attended your Occult Studies lecture six months ago. Your sub-lecture on the Misuse and Interpretation of Culture Lore was also very fascinating."
Hermione wracked her brain, going back to her last lecture appearance and she recognized this man now that he mentioned the lecture. It wasn't often that law enforcement showed up at academic lectures. The man blushed at her hesitation.
"My name is Dr. Spencer Reid."
Hermione blushed in return.
"I'm so sorry Dr. Reid, I usually brain dump after my lectures. They stress me out and occupy my mind completely if I let them, and I can't have that when home, I need to focus on my students. Forgive me."
A tug on her other hand had Hermione looking down into Jack's upturned face. He had shed his jacket now and his hair was sticking up in all different places.
"Ms. Granger, you're a doctor?"
She shook her head.
"No Jack, I'm not a medical doctor. I'm an academic doctor, like Mrs. Holden."
"So you're smart like Spencer?"
Hermione quirked an eyebrow.
"I should hope so, since I am your teacher. Teachers have to be smart right?"
Jack looked serious as he spoke.
"Spencer is a genius, his IQ is 187. He also has an eid-eidetatic memory. Penny calls him 'boy wonder'. "
Hermione paused. 187 was very impressive. She looked at Reid; the poor guy's face was red like a tomato.
"Well Jack, my IQ is only 165 and I don't have an eidetic memory. However I can read two thousand words per minute and remember it all afterwards."
She watched Jack sound out the word 'eidetic' over and over, his lips moving silently as he pronounced it one syllable at a time. Looking up at Reid she smiled.
"I suppose I'm not as smart as you are Dr. Reid."
Reid began stuttering, trying to assure her that her IQ was still at genius level and that the MENSA tests weren't always on target. She just waved him off, trying not to giggle.
"I'm kidding Dr. Reid."
Looking around at the other members of the team who had been silent since Reid's approach she sighed.
"I really must go; my cat is no doubt tearing up my knitting basket as I speak. It was nice to meet you all. Dr. Reid, I hope to see you at my next seminar. "
"I look forward to it."
Hermione handed Jack's things to Hotch after saying goodbye once more.
"Happy Christmas Jack."
Jack smiled; a giggle escaping. There was her accent again.
Stepping outside the cold air hit her, making Hermione shiver. The sun was nearly gone, the stars blinking brightly. Walking back toward her truck she pulled her jacket closer around her body. Digging out her car keys she stepped around the fender and froze, fingers going for her wand. A dark figure leaned against her truck, a small orange light indicating his audacity to smoke near her new paint job. Warily she steadied her body, spreading her feet to open her stance.
"Who the bloody hell are you?"
The figure let out a chuckle and stood straight.
"Relax Granger, it's only me."
The tension immediately left Hermione's body, her grip on her wand becoming slack. Blaise Zabini stepped into the moonlight, a rogue smirk on his face.
"You look good Granger. Teaching agrees with you."
"What's going on? You know not to sneak up on me like that."
Blaise suddenly got sober and tossed his cigarette on the ground, stepping on it.
"We need a hand. Got some Morganna's Dust being manufactured in extremely large quantities."
Hermione was instantly alert. "Are you sure it's Morganna's Dust?"
Blaise nodded. "Bloody sure."
Hermione nodded and stepped around the man. Opening her truck door she motioned toward the passenger side. "Get in."
Her knitting basket would just have to hold off Crookshanks assault for a little longer.
How did you like it? I have a feeling there will be more one shots in this series.