It was around the time where the amount of written homework Aaron McKindy assigned was larger than usual, which meant he was spending more time in his office surrounded by papers and packets than he might have otherwise. Things were quiet around the apartment anyway - although Madeleine was a frequent visitor, it was still different than when she and Drew were actually in residence - but quiet was a little unnerving honestly, after years with Godric and then years of children. Circe was much more well behaved than Godric, although she did have a similar penchant for pouncing on shoelaces and ankles. She was just...nicer about it. Like it was a game, rather than an assassination attempt. Also, less overall yowling. And there was Caliban. But it wasn’t the same and sometimes especially as the holiday season approached, Aaron found himself hiding from the calm in his office. So lots of homework, but well-timed for him.
Not that Aaron liked the holidays, or his birthday which was conveniently situated close enough to Christmas that most people just forgot about it, but the celebrations had grown on him because you couldn’t really have children in residence and not celebrate Christmas, not to mention Garen’s adopted family. Their Christmases were busy enough that Aaron had to work with the school’s magic to expand the apartment, and that wasn’t even taking into consideration that adoptive grandkids weren’t necessarily out of the question. Aaron had never done the math, but he was pretty sure that Marissa at least was older than her parents had been when they had her. Admittedly, Aaron was also sure that Marissa had more sense than at least her father had at that age but -
The thought was cut off with a knock at his door. Aaron got up to open it. He was dressed in his usual downtime clothes (jeans, Converse, and a t-shirt that had, at one point, been borrowed from Garen) but he didn’t bother putting on the dragonhide-green robe hanging next to the door before opening it. The knock hadn’t sounded like Deputy Headmaster Fell, which meant that Aaron did not particularly care about not having a robe on over his regular clothes.
In fact, his visitor was the opposite of Deputy Headmaster Fell - it was Madeleine.
“Good morning,” Aaron said with a smile. She was wearing what he suspected was one of her favorite dresses, and a bow. Madeleine had taken to bows after seeing Remy’s, and Aaron thought it was absolutely adorable. He had been worried about her entering that awkward teen-tween-rebellion period, but so far it looked like she was not going to take after her biological mother in the rebellion regard. On the other hand, he was pretty sure that the sunny dress, the bow, and Madeleine’s general attitude of cheer would all combine to make people dramatically underestimate the evil genius that she had gotten from Jessie.
Oh. There was a present involved in this. Aaron did his best to not look entirely stressed by the concept, but he really did not like presents. Especially at this time of year. But it was Madeleine, and the present was in a manilla envelope, so it was unlikely to be anything she had conned Rob or Jessie into helping with.
Then he opened it. And it took him a minute while he scanned the top sheet of the small stack of papers inside. And then it took him another minute to process what he was reading. And then it took him a minute to compose himself because. Merlin.
Aaron hugged Madeleine, at least in part to prevent her from noticing that his eyes were maybe a little bit teary, but also in part because that was the only response he could really come up with for this particular gift.
“This is the best non-birthday present you could ever give me,” he said. “I love you, Mads.”