A/N: Confession time… I like AUs. The HP Fanfiction Forum on FFN has a whole big list of AUs. 50 of was number 1. You know you're pushing the limits when your beta throws her hands in the air and says "Fine. Write a Muggle AU. Why wouldn't you?" :) I'm so lucky to have her.
Queen's Building Library, University of Bristol
"Miss Granger, are you free?" Dr. Pince poked her head into Hermione's small office with a slight grimace for interrupting her work.
"Of course, Dr. Pince," Hermione replied automatically. She glanced down at her desk and then looked up at her supervisor. "I just need to put this manuscript away."
Dr. Pince waved a hand at her. "That's fine, Miss Granger. There's been a mix-up in the schedules. Is there any way that you could cover the issue desk today?"
"Certainly," Hermione agreed.
While working with manuscripts was Hermione's passion, she also enjoyed working the issue desk. Helping both students and professors find documents and articles to assist them in their research gave Hermione a certain satisfaction.
That morning, the issue desk was a steady stream of inter-library loans and requests for specific articles that kept Hermione busy. In the afternoon, there was a brief lull, and it was at that time that Professor Lupin appeared in front of her with his trademark bashful half-smile.
"Miss Granger," he greeted her with a polite little nod. "How's the archive department?"
"Very well, thank you," Hermione replied. "What can I order for you today, Professor Lupin?"
"I've already ordered, actually," he corrected her. "I made an inter-library loan request last week, and I was wondering if it had arrived, yet?"
If Hermione didn't know any better, she would suspect that Professor Lupin was trying to give her puppy eyes, but she immediately dismissed the idea as silly. Remus Lupin was a well-respected professor at the university. Hermione had never been a student of his, but his reputation on campus was that of an excellent professor and an interesting lecturer, which was rather a difficult maneuver.
"Let me check," Hermione murmured. She turned to look through the 'just delivered' pile that had not been checked into the system yet. Professor Lupin's book wasn't among the items. Hermione frowned. "That's odd."
"What's odd?" Professor Lupin asked.
"Your request should be here by now," Hermione replied absently. She grabbed the invoice and looked it over. "Huh."
There on the invoice, fourth item down, was Professor Lupin's request. Hermione turned back to the pile of books and went through it again. The book wasn't there.
"What is it?" Professor Lupin asked with a frown.
"Sorry," Hermione said with a slightly-frazzled smile. "It's just… your request supposedly came in, but it isn't here."
"Oh." Disappointment radiated from Professor's slumped shoulders and downcast face.
"I'm sure it's just a mix-up," Hermione explained. She frowned and looked about the issue desk, as though Professor Lupin's request might jump out at her. "I'll find it, Professor." She paused and turned back to him. "How late are you here today?"
"Ah. Erm, just until five, today," he replied. Professor Lupin patted absently at his pockets. "I really do need it though. Let me give you my mobile number in case you happen across it."
Quickly, Hermione snatched up a pen and a spare bit of paper, and shoved them at Professor Lupin. He blinked down at her hands for a moment and then gave her another awkward half-smile before he took the pen and paper and began scrawling his contact information on it.
"I'll ring you as soon as I find it, Professor," Hermione promised.
Professor Lupin shrugged. "I'm sure you will, Miss Granger."
It wasn't until after five that Professor Snape from the Chemistry department rang up the issue desk to complain that 'some dunderhead' had mixed up his inter-library loan with Professor Lupin's.
"I'm terribly sorry, Professor Snape," Hermione tried to placate him over the phone. "I can't imagine how that happened."
"I don't care how it happened, you idiot girl," Professor Snape snarled into the phone. "I want you to fix it."
"Of course, Professor," Hermione agreed. "I'll be right over."
It was a brief jog to the Chemistry building and then up a couple of flights of stairs to Professor Snape's office. He was glaring at her as she walked through his door, panting for breath. Silently, he held out the book she had searched fruitlessly for all day. Hermione handed over Professor Snape's book, tried to apologize one more time, and then turned and escaped.
In her excitement, Hermione had called Professor Lupin right away. It was possible that she ought to have waited at least until she'd caught her breath, but Hermione harbored a small crush on Professor Lupin and she couldn't help the little thrill that ran through at the thought of calling his mobile.
"Hello?" Professor Lupin's voice sounded faintly surprised. "Padfoot? Is that you?"
"Professor Lupin?" Hermione panted into the phone.
"Miss Granger?" Professor Lupin's voice sounded almost strangled. He cleared his throat noisily and then tried again. "Miss Granger, is that you?"
"I found your book, Professor," Hermione exclaimed triumphantly. "Somehow it got mixed up with Professor Snape's inter-library loan."
"Of course it did," Professor Lupin muttered.
"Professor?" Hermione was surprised to hear the bitterness in Professor Lupin's tone. He was one of the most even-tempered Professors at the university.
"I apologize, Miss Granger," Professor Lupin said automatically. He sighed into the phone. "It's a bank holiday Monday, so I suppose I'll have to wait until Tuesday to pick it up."
"I could bring it to you," Hermione blurted out. She could feel her face heat up and was silently grateful that Professor Lupin couldn't see it. "I'm about to head home myself, and I could swing by on the way to my place."
"Oh no," Professor Lupin protested. "I couldn't ask you to do that."
"It's no trouble," Hermione countered quickly. The line was silent for several long moments and she knew that Professor Lupin was weighing how badly he wanted the book with how much he didn't want to impose.
"All right," he sighed.
Apparently, he wanted the book very badly indeed.
"If you could just give me your address," Hermione prompted him.
Hermione stared at the address that she'd scribbled down and then frowned at the faded, peeling sign that proclaimed: "Marauder Motorcycle Maintenance & Repair." It was difficult to tell whether or not the shop was open, and Hermione hovered in the street torn by indecision.
Off-key whistling drew Hermione's attention, and she turned toward the sound. A set of garage doors were propped open, and the whistling seemed to be coming from the dim interior. Hermione cautiously inched closer to the garage doors, clutching Professor Lupin's book to her chest.
Kneeling amid what appeared to be scattered pieces of motorcycle was a shirtless man. His long, dark hair was pulled back from his face and arranged into a messy bun, which was secured with a slender wooden stick. Spread across his back was a complex scene of a forest under a full moon, or at least that's what Hermione thought it was. As he moved, his muscles rippled, and Hermione could feel herself growing warm. She averted her eyes from the expanse of golden skin and cleared her throat.
"See something you like, love?"
Hermione's gaze jerked back to the shirtless mechanic. He was watching her, and smirking, and she shifted uncomfortably, suddenly self-conscious.
"No!" Hermione flushed and bit her lip. "Sorry, I mean… It's not that you aren't," here she paused and flapped a hand at him. "Because you are, obviously—"
"Obviously," he agreed with a wicked grin. He stood and wiped his hands on an already filthy rag that he shoved in his back pocket. "What's a tasty little bite like you doing in our neck of the woods then?"
"Erm, I think I got turned around somehow," she muttered.
"Lost are you?" The mechanic's smirk grew.
"No, not lost," Hermione protested.
"Padfoot, have you seen Prongs' ratchet set? He thought he left it out here." Professor Lupin's voice drifted out of the garage.
The man who strolled into the garage looked nothing like the quiet, neat man that frequented her library. A knit cap kept his hair out of his face. He was wearing a well-worn set of coveralls, and a streak of grease was smeared across his forehead. Hermione knew she was staring, but she couldn't help herself.
"Professor?" Hermione squeaked.
"Miss Granger!" Professor Lupin beamed at her. "Is that it? Let me go wash my hands," he told her before he turned and hurried back to wherever he'd come from.
The shirtless mechanic, Hermione assumed he must be the "Padfoot" that Professor Lupin had referred to a couple of times turned and cupped his hands around his mouth.
"PRONGS! WORMTAIL!" He bellowed. Hermione blinked at him in surprise and took a nervous step back.
"What is it, Padfoot?" A tall man with impossibly messy black hair loped out of the back, followed closely by a short, round, blond man who was blinking nervously.
"Look what followed Moony home," the shirtless mechanic announced and waved a hand in her direction. "Again," he added half under his breath.
Hermione took another step back when all three of them turned to stare at her with rather intense gazes.
"There was a mix-up with the inter-library loans, and… and Monday's a bank holiday," Hermione burst out and then flushed. The two new men blinked and looked back at the shirtless mechanic.
"Did you break her?" The messy-haired man demanded. "You know Moony hates it when you do that."
"He gets all pissy and ends up sleeping on my couch," the shorter man added with a frown.
"She was already like that," the half-naked mechanic protested.
"Look, sweetheart," the messy-haired man began and turned in her direction. "I'm sure that Moony is an amazing professor, but he's taken, yeah?"
Hermione frowned at the messy-haired man. "Professor Lupin's personal life has nothing to do with me," she snapped, embarrassed and irritated.
Of course Professor Lupin was taken. Why wouldn't he be? Hermione had to admit that the messy-haired man was handsome. She didn't blame Professor Lupin a bit for snagging him.
The messy-haired man frowned at her. "If that's true, then why would you-," he began, only to be cut off by Professor Lupin's return.
"I can't tell you how grateful I am, Miss Granger," Professor Lupin said as he came back out to the garage.
"It was no trouble, Professor," Hermione assured him. She ignored the disbelieving snorts that earned her. She held out the book to Professor Lupin. "Just remember, you only have it for two weeks. If Dr. Pince has to come hunt it down… it won't be pleasant."
Professor Lupin snorted in amusement and shook his head at her. "Trust me, Miss Granger, I know."
"Very good then. I'll just be going," Hermione said.
"Good-bye," the shirtless mechanic called with an exaggerated leer.
Hermione eyed him warily and then turned back to Professor Lupin.
"Thank you again, Miss Granger," Professor Lupin said.
"Of course," Hermione assured him with a wry smile. "Ta."
The next Wednesday found Hermione working the issue desk again when Professor Snape stalked in, followed by a stunning redhead wearing professor's robes.
"And this is the issue desk," Professor Snape drawled coolly. He glanced at Hermione who nodded politely to them both. "Most of them manage to not completely cock up my orders."
"We do our best Professor Snape," Hermione chirped with a tight smile.
The stunning redhead hid a smile behind her hand.
"Lily, this is Miss Granger, who is also the archivist. Miss Granger, this is Professor Potter," Professor Snape introduced them to one another stiffly.
"Miss Granger?" Professor Potter perked up at that, and turned her brilliant green eyes on Hermione. "The same Miss Granger that helped straighten out the mix-up with you and Remus?"
Confused, Hermione turned to Professor Snape for help. He rolled his eyes at her.
"Professor Potter is referring to the inter-library loan meant for Professor Lupin that your idiot co-workers delivered to me, Miss Granger," he explained.
It took a phenomenal amount of self-control to avoid giving Professor Snape a piece of her mind, but Hermione managed.
"Severus," Professor Potter scolded and swatted him on the arm.
Hermione could feel her eyebrows creep up her forehead at Professor Potter's familiarity with Professor Snape. What was even more shocking was the fact that Professor Snape didn't have an absolute fit over someone invading his personal space. Padma was never going to believe this.
"So, tell me everything," Padma demanded as she plopped into the seat in front of Hermione's desk.
"Erm…," Hermione looked up from the manuscript she was working on to frown at her friend.
"You know! You got to see Professor Lupin's house," Padma reminded her. "What was it like? What was he like in his natural habitat?"
"His natural habitat?" Hermione repeated incredulously. "You make him sound like some sort of wild animal."
"We should be so lucky," Padma said and waggled her eyebrows at Hermione. Then she leaned forward and leered. "Did you try to get a leg over?"
"Padma!" Hermione shrieked.
"What? We're all adults and he's fit," Padma pointed out. "It's not like you're a student, or something."
Hermione just covered her face with her hands and groaned.
"Hermione?" Padma poked her in the shoulder. "What's wrong?"
Haltingly, Hermione described the awkward scene at the motorcycle garage.
"So then what happened?" Padma demanded as she leaned forward, her eyes gleaming with curiosity and excitement.
Hermione rolled her eyes at her co-worker. "Nothing happened. I gave the man his book. I am a professional, you know. I hold a masters in archive management," she snapped.
"Yes, yes," Padma agreed with a wave of her hands. "But… Professor Lupin."
"Apparently has a possessive boyfriend," Hermione retorted. Then she paused and bit her lip. "I think."
"A boyfriend?" Padma sat up and blinked at that. "He's gay?"
Hermione frowned at her co-worker. "So what if he is?"
"It doesn't matter to me," Padma protested. She giggled and shook her head. "But I'll have to let Lavender Brown know that she might as well stop unbuttoning her shirts when Professor Lupin has appointments with the Dean of Instruction."
"She does not," Hermione gasped, horrified.
"She does," Padma countered with a snicker.
They both stopped when there was a light knock on Hermione's office door. Both Hermione and Padma jumped to their feet and looked at one another with wide eyes. The light knock repeated itself and Hermione moved around her desk and headed for the door. Standing on the other side was Professor Potter.
"Professor Potter," Hermione greeted her with a nod. "How can I help you?"
The Professor gave Hermione a brief smile. "I was wondering if I could schedule a session for my Organic Chemistry class to examine the Dumbledore collection?"
"We can book one of the library's class rooms," Hermione said thoughtfully. "When is your Organic Chemistry class?"
"Mondays and Wednesdays from two to four," Professor Potter replied.
"Let me pull my schedule," Hermione said with a small frown. "I don't think I have anything down, but I'll need to clear it through Madam Pince."
"Of course," Professor Potter agreed. "Just let me know as soon as you can."
It was just before five, and Hermione hurried, hoping that she hadn't missed Professor Potter. It had taken a little juggling, but Hermione was finally able to arrange everything for Professor Potter's Organic Chemistry students. She had tried calling, but the phone in the Professor's office had gone unanswered. That wasn't entirely uncommon, and Hermione took the chance that Professor Potter might still be on campus.
Hermione poked her head into the Chemistry building's faculty lounge on the off chance that Professor Potter might have stopped in for a cuppa before heading out.
Easily recognizable messy hair made Hermione freeze in the faculty lounge's doorway. Professor Lupin's boyfriend had Professor Potter pressed up against the wall, and was snogging her as though his life depended on it. He was wearing coveralls similar to the set that Professor Lupin had worn when Hermione was at the garage. For all Hermione knew, it was the same exact set of coveralls.
Fury sparked through her at the thought. Professor Lupin was such a genuinely sweet man. He deserved a boyfriend that kept his lips to himself. Angrily, Hermione marched across the room to tap on Professor Lupin's boyfriend's shoulder.
"Shove off, yeah?" The messy-haired man grumbled as he turned to glare at Hermione.
The CRACK of her hand against his cheek was deeply satisfying. When both Professor Potter and the messy-haired man stared at her in shock, she glared at them.
"How could you?" Hermione demanded, furious on Professor Lupin's behalf.
Professor Potter's brows rose in surprise and she turned to stare at Professor Lupin's boyfriend.
"Something you'd like to share, James?" She asked drily.