Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling et al. Any characters or locations you recognise are the intellectual property of these individuals and corporations. I make no money from the writing of this story.
This story should have been written for the SSHG prompt fest back in July but my muse was not speaking to me and I was unable to submit it in time. I have been writing this story on and off since then and it is finally finished. It has not been beta'd, only read over by myself several times. Any errors are my own.
The basis of the plot is from this prompt by Worrywart: The Snapes go camping with the Grangers with one restriction; absolutely no magic. Feature a bad time setting up a tent, a pesky badger, and the Snapes dealing with the fact the Grangers don't know silencing charms (wink, wink!) and they can't cast one. Add a few other fun moments! (SS & HG.)
I hope you enjoy.
Camping is Not a Dirty Word
"Remind me again why we agreed to this?"
"You wanted to make your father happy."
"Come on, you two! You have to keep up!"
Hermione Snape hiked the rucksack she was wearing on her back a little higher and trudged on.
Jason Granger had had an odd request for his birthday that year. Normally there was a dignified reception or intimate dinner held to signify the anniversary of his birth each year. It would typically include members of the extended family and some close friends, and was highly anticipated by Hermione and her mother, Selene. They both loved making Jason's night special for him, he worked extremely hard throughout the year and provided his family with all the comfort and luxuries he could, this was a small way to repay him for his dedication.
This year he wanted something different. This year he wanted it to just be the four of them—him and Selene, and Hermione and her husband, Severus. This year he wanted to go on a weekend camping trip.
Hermione's brain had almost shut down at the mere word 'camping'. She had been looking forward to an elegant affair to celebrate her father's birthday. She had gone so far as to choose the Michelin starred restaurant in which the celebration would take place, but Jason was insistent. He even took Severus to the local outdoor department store so he could ensure his daughter and son-in-law were kitted out with the latest, top-of-the-line gear—tent, air mattress, sleeping bags, rucksacks, cooking equipment, food storage and camper chairs. Knowing Hermione and Severus as he did, he also ensured the purchase of several camping guides and how-to books to satisfy the researchers in them. He was positive that by the time the Spring Bank Holiday weekend rolled around, they would be theoretical experts.
There was only one request that Jason had for the two of them. No magic. For the entire weekend. For four hours the two couples sat on either side of the dining table in Hermione and Severus' spacious London flat engaging in negotiations more suited to treaty talks than in the planning of a long weekend away. By the end of the drawn-out meal, Hermione and Severus had conceded that they would not consciously perform spells, but they would bring their wands. They would not moan about not being able to use magic for the three days and two nights they would be away, but Jason and Selene could not complain if they cast a spell reflexively and, at all times, the deal would immediately be off if anyone found themselves in any sort of serious situation that magic could fix in a trice.
And so it was now that Hermione and Severus, renowned medical researchers at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, found themselves hiking down a small trail through the undergrowth toward the campsite her father had selected with the aid of a camping guide and Google Earth. The site was one of several in a cleverly designed camping ground that provided basic facilities but also the illusion of roughing it in solitude. The one thing keeping Hermione going at the moment with the rucksack on her back, plus a folding camp chair on each shoulder and carrying a box of food in her hands was the anticipation of the beautiful clearing within a shelter of trees and a lovely, flowing river that promised fresh trout for their dinner.
Unbeknownst to Jason, Severus had hiked to the spot the week before with Bill Weasley and Harry Potter in order to secure it for the holiday weekend. Harry had mentioned it was a popular weekend for campers and the spot would likely be snapped up early. Some cleverly placed Muggle Repelling Charms and illusions of a massive amount of poison ivy growing in the area ensured that any other would-be holidaymakers would head off in another direction. Jason and Selene were unknowingly passed through the charms by Hermione and Severus who strategically positioned themselves at the entrance to the trail so Jason would automatically assist Hermione while Severus did the same to Selene; the contact with a magical being enabling them to enter the prescribed trail. Severus deliberately left a small box of essential food items—tea, cereal, bread and sugar—in the Range Rover which was parked thirty minutes away from their campsite. Once the missing container was discovered, he would volunteer to go back for it and disable the charms, as well as give Hermione some time alone with her parents, time she rarely got these days.
It was not long before Selene's exclamations of pleasure were echoing back down the path to Hermione and Severus. Hermione smiled to hear the happiness from both her parents. She remembered a time when this was a common event—the weekend camping trip—and she knew her father's motivation for asking for this gift was to recapture some of the joy they used to experience from the activity.
When she and Severus broke from the trees, she could not help but echo her mother's sounds of delight at seeing the campsite. Immediately she could picture the three tents they had brought with them pitched around the ideal spot for a large campfire. Trees surrounded them on three sides and the fourth side, which guaranteed their exclusive use of the site, was a wide river. There were just enough rocks and flowing water to be able to create a soothing melody as the fresh water made its way downstream. In addition to the trail they had followed from the car park to here, there were four other trails heading off in different directions through the trees, linking the different sites and the facilities provided, as well as a well-established river path. Using Hermione as cover, Severus drew his wand and quickly disabled the pre-set wards on all these paths that he, Bill and Harry had set up the week before. He had just slid his wand back into the sleeve of his corduroy jacket when Jason turned to them, an excited expression on his face.
"See, I told you that getting here early was a good idea," he said. He placed all the equipment he was carrying onto the ground. "Let's get set up as quick as we can, then we can start in on the fun!"
"Fun?" Hermione asked as she placed the box of food on top of Jason's rucksack to keep it off the ground. She then proceeded to remove the chairs and her own rucksack from her shoulders and back. "What sort of fun do you have in mind? Just remember I don't do fishing!"
"You used to love fishing, dove," Jason said with a small pout.
"Well, now you have a son to fish with as you always wanted," Hermione said, gesturing at Severus. Severus looked slightly pained just at the thought.
"Now, Severus, if we don't fish, we don't get to eat," Jason said. "Well except for the vegetables and rice that were brought along. Ooh; maybe we can find some wild mushrooms, too!"
"NO!" Hermione shouted, her face going pale. Severus grasped her arm supportively but her parents both stared at her as though she had gone crazy. "Umm…" she quickly cast her head around for an explanation for her outburst. "Severus is allergic to mushrooms," she said.
Jason nodded with an expression that said 'fair enough', but Selene looked at her daughter a little strangely, saying nothing. "Let's get these tents set up!" Hermione declared, hoping to distract her mother.
The packs were all quickly dug through and equipment, clothes, food and activities sorted into piles. Jason and Selene volunteered to put up the communal tent where they would be storing the food and odds and ends they would need for their three-night stay as well as their own tent, leaving Hermione and Severus to erect their sleeping tent themselves.
"Okay, we can do this," Hermione said bracingly. "Hand me the instructions."
Severus unloaded the pegs, rods, canvas, tarp and small hammer from the carry bag the tent was stored in. He reached in and rummaged around before making a puzzled sound. Hermione's heart began to sink as she watched her husband unfold first the ground tarp, then the canvas tent. There was no little white piece of paper written in several languages to be seen. "Ah, yes," Severus said in realisation.
"Where?" Hermione asked in resignation.
"I believe on the side table, under the mirror, with that hideous phoenix statuette sitting on top of it to stop it from possibly blowing away when we were shaking out the cover tarp," Severus said confidently. As that had been the last step of the process, they did not need the instructions again.
"That was a wedding gift," Hermione said, referring to the statuette.
"Just because it was a wedding gift makes it no less hideous," Severus pointed out. If he had his way the ugly looking thing would be stored somewhere no one would ever have to lay eyes on it but since it had been given to them by a fellow member of the Order of the Phoenix, and he and Hermione dutifully took their turn in hosting the regular meetings the group still held, and since Hermione refused to have to remember to pull it out each time, the small figurine had found a home on the most out of the way, useless table in their home.
"Can you remember what to do?" Hermione asked. As per the numerous camping guides' suggestions, they had pulled the tent out a few days ago and erected it as practice for when they were out in the great outdoors. Since they did not have a backyard in which to do this, they had transfigured a section of their sitting room floor into a patch of countryside for the purposes of authenticity. The plan had been to put it up and down a few times, but the first time had gone so well as they followed the step-by-step instructions, followed by a test of the air mattress to ensure there were no leaks, that they had only gotten that far before deciding they were obviously experts and it would probably be a good idea to christen both the tent and the mattress. By the time they had finally slaked their desire for each other, they had really only had enough energy to disassemble the tent (using magic of course) and pack it away ready for their departure.
"We've done it once," Severus reminded her. "Very well if I recall correctly, how hard could it be?"
"Yes, we did," Hermione agreed. She started to organise all the equipment. Once it was all lined up on the ground they quickly got their bearings and spread the ground tarp out so the tent would be facing south once it was erected. After securing the corners and sides with pegs, Severus shook out the canvas of the tent.
"Now what?" he said to his wife.
"Oh, shit…um," she frantically thought back to the instructions she had diligently read out three nights before and tried to recall what she had said. All she could remember though was ogling Severus' arse as he crawled around their sitting room, following the instructions as she read them out to him. Her eyes involuntarily roved down his body to the part in question again as she remembered watching it again just a few minutes ago as he bent over to secure the pegs in the ground.
"Ahem," Severus cleared his throat pointedly. Hermione jerked her eyes away from his backside and to his face where a smug grin resided on his lips. "See something you like?" he teased.
"Very much so," she murmured. "Okay," she shook her head as though to clear it. "First I think we clipped the little string things on the tent to the clasps on the ground tarp, then we put the framework in and dragged the tent over it. Then we put the cover tarp over the top and secured it with the pegs into the ground."
Severus looked at her with an admiring little tilt to his lips. Her almost perfect recall was one of the things he loved most about her and one of the reasons the two of them worked so well together. He was all about experimentation and thinking outside the box. Prior to Hermione joining his department barely a week went by without him melting or exploding a cauldron containing an experimental potion because, in one instance, he had forgotten he had added two mustard seeds to the base four days before and adding that dram of powdered ashwinder egg caused the potion to bubble and blow sky high. Since she had come on board, her meticulous note taking and hawk-eyed observation of his experiments had prevented numerous repeats of disaster.
They set about trying to replicate their one successful attempt at putting the tent together. In the time it took Jason and Selene to erect both their tents and put away all the food and equipment, Hermione and Severus managed to clip the tent base to the ground tarp (after realising they first had it upside down, then facing the wrong way), put the framework together (again after several attempts at putting the wrong poles together or using the wrong ends) and drag the tent over the top of it. Luckily Hermione realised just in time that the canvas was caught on a sharp edge on one of the poles and stopped Severus from pulling it taught which would have caused it to rip. They were just fastening the last Velcro strap when Selene's voice called out from inside the communal tent, "Where's the tea?"
Hermione and Severus looked at each other apprehensively, which turned into almost-alarm when Jason realised the bag must still be in the four wheel drive and volunteered to go back for it.
"No, don't do that," Severus said hastily. "It was my job to make sure we had everything from inside the car, I should be the one to go back."
"You two haven't finished putting up your tent yet," Jason pointed out reasonably. "I'll go."
"NO!" Hermione shouted. If her father went back to the car he would never be able to find his way back.
"Hermione, what is wrong with you today? That's twice now you've reacted strongly about one of my suggestions," Jason said.
Hermione stuttered as she tried to come up with an answer. Severus loudly banged the last peg into the ground. "Done," he said firmly. "Darling, why don't you set up the air mattress and get all our things inside. Jason, you could set up everything we need for fishing; I know I would much prefer a nice trout for lunch than a salad sandwich. I will go back to the car and get the box I missed." He hurried over to the table and plucked the car keys from the wicker basket that Selene had put all their valuables in. He took off at a fast pace before anyone could object further.
"Hermione," Jason said, a warning tone clear in his voice. Even at age twenty six she still found herself cowering under it.
"I'll just set up the mattress," she said meekly.
"Young lady, I'm waiting," he said firmly.
Hermione sighed and capitulated. "Severus came out here last weekend with Harry and Bill and they set up wards around the site so no one would take it before we got here because I knew you really wanted it and being a bank holiday we might have missed out and I just wanted your weekend to be perfect," she said in a rush. Her expression turned contrite. "If you went to the car you'd never find your way back because they set Muggle repelling wards on the trail," she finished.
Jason blinked as he tried to process what she had just said. "So even though I asked for no magic…" he began.
"We still fully intend to hold up our end of the bargain," Hermione said. "But you wanted the perfect spot and this is by far the most perfect camping spot I've ever seen and… will you forgive us? We only did it for you." Hermione put on the big eyes and slightly mournful expression she had always used as a child when she had been caught doing something wrong. As always, her father immediately wilted before it.
"Oh, dove, it's all right," Jason said, coming to place his arm around her and squeeze gently. "I'll admit I was a little worried this site would be taken when we got here. One thing, can we not use the words 'Muggle repelling'? It makes me feel a bit like an insect."
With a sharp intake of breath, Hermione covered her mouth with her hands. "I'm so sorry, Dad," she apologised. "I never realised…"
"It's all right," Jason said again. "Come on, I'll help you with your mattress and getting your things set up."
Hermione smiled, she knew that having her dad help her was his way of showing her that all was forgiven even though he had already spoken the words. Selene came over to help as well and the three of them laughed as they remembered the first time they had set up a tent just for her when they used to camp regularly.
"How many books did you manage to bring this time?" Jason asked teasingly. Hermione used to stick books into every available space when they would take their trips, even once shoving two into the waistband of her jeans in order to carry them from the car to the camping site.
"Not that many," Hermione said, nudging him gently with her foot. "A few paperbacks and magazines are all. Severus brought along several journals he's been meaning to catch up on as well, I'll more than likely read those, too."
"A man after my own heart," Jason joked. "I brought along a few journals myself—there have been some interesting developments in root canal treatments I would like to read about."
Selene dragged in Severus' rucksack and placed it at the side of the tent where Hermione had stored all their things. The air mattress had been filled and covered with a flannel sheet and their sleeping bags were stretched out on top. "Is there anything to go over into the communal tent, Hermione?" she asked.
"Yes, I'll unpack the rucksacks and bring it all over," she said. She was waiting for her parents to leave the tent so she could zip their sleeping bags together. She had studied the weather forecast for the area diligently before their departure and (due to an unseasonal cold snap) the expected temperature was predicted to drop to four degrees Celsius. There was no way she was not going to snuggle up to her husband.
An hour later Hermione looked around the campsite. She was sitting next to a small fire she had built, tending a vegetable stew her mother had prepared. Selene was busy preparing the two trout that Severus had already caught. The silence was punctuated with the sound of the flowing water and the good-natured ribbing Severus was giving Jason about his fishing prowess as the two men stood on large rocks in the middle of the river, gently flicking their poles back and forth to lure the abundant fish to bite. This is what she remembered from her childhood. This was how camping ought to be.
The four of them feasted on fresh trout and vegetable stew for lunch. In the afternoon, Hermione and Severus set off down the river path hand in hand to explore the surrounding area. They hiked downstream for two hours before finding a river crossing then hiked back, waving to Jason and Selene as they passed them on the opposite bank. They knew there was another crossing only a quarter of a mile upstream from their camping site and so they were back just in time to catch the last of the light to wash up before dinner.
Another meal of trout and vegetables went down nicely with some wine drunk out of plastic cups and a rousing conversation of the ineptitude of the Muggle parliament versus the Wizarding government. One of the things Hermione loved most about spending time with her parents was that they were interested in what was happening in her world and gently insistent that she and Severus stay abreast of what was happening in theirs. So many of the Muggle-borns she knew were forced to make a decision—one or the other and never the twain shall meet. To his credit, Severus devoured The Times every morning just as diligently as he did The Daily Prophet simply in order to be able to converse intelligently and knowledgeably with his parents-in-law.
As darkness fell they moved closer to the campfire, both for warmth and light. Hermione brought out a pound cake she had made and they ate it with cups of hot, sweet tea. Jason teased Hermione about her cake making abilities which led to humourous stories of cooking disasters from all of them from years past to the present being brought up. Hermione's cooking disaster stories ended at the age of twenty.
After the disastrous year she had spent camping out with the boys she had turned her single-minded attention onto learning how to cook. She took lessons from everyone available from Selene, to her grandmother, to Molly Weasley and even Hagrid—although Hagrid's effort was approached as more of a lesson of what not to do. She knew she had succeeded in her efforts when Ron Weasley sat back after dinner in her cosy kitchen one evening, patted his stomach and pronounced it excellent. Her friend was one of the fiercest food critics there was and it was only a few days before his girlfriend was contacting her for tips.
Severus was a dab hand in the kitchen as well but he had really only started to put in an effort when he began to need to cook for Hermione as well. Prior to that he was the king of the fry-ups (something Jason also admitted to), when he had not been being fed by the house-elves at Hogwarts of course. It was this habit that had first led to him and Hermione becoming more than just colleagues at St Mungo's. After five days straight of him answering, "Probably a fry-up," to her query of what he was having for dinner, she insisted he come over to her flat for supper that evening and eat some real food. Since she had already informed him she was planning on making a lasagne, he acquiesced. He never could resist Italian food and after sampling her fare that evening, he made it a point to enquire after her cooking plans and try and wrangle an invitation as often as possible.
It was nine o'clock when the family decided to call it a night. Quick trips to the small ablution block hidden in the trees nearby and ensuring the campfire would slowly burn away to nothing took up some more time and by nine thirty the two couples were saying goodnight.
Hermione slipped into the sleeping bag as quickly as she could and cuddled up to her personal hot water bottle. Severus put his arms around his shivering wife and held her close.
"It's really not that cold," he said with amusement.
"Yes, it is," Hermione disagreed. They were whispering in the stillness of the tent. "It may as well be below freezing!" Her hand drifted lower on his bare abdomen until she unexpectedly hit fabric. "Are you wearing pyjama bottoms?" she asked.
"Your parents are sleeping mere yards away from us—of course I'm wearing bottoms," Severus said.
"You don't when we stay at their house," Hermione pointed out.
"At their house we do not operate under a magic ban. We can cast silencing and locking charms, we have our own bathroom and in the event I actually have to leave the room in the middle of the night, I can use magic to dress myself in an instant. Besides, you are rugged up to the nines! If you wore apparel like this to bed every night I can tell you now our sex life would suffer immensely. I would have deflated by the time I reached bare skin," he teased, fingering the collars of the jumper, nightie and undervest she was wearing.
"Well I can't cast a warming charm, can I?" she said. "I just thank the Gods that no matter the time of year you are like a furnace." She burrowed even closer to her husband.
Severus chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "Goodnight, my little icicle," he said.
"Goodnight, I love you," Hermione replied, lifting her face so they could kiss each other. As usual, their kiss deepened quickly and before she really knew it, she was on her back with Severus looming over her body, his weight pressing her into the air mattress delightfully. She moaned when she felt his erection against her thigh.
"Ssh," Severus admonished her.
Hermione pushed him away enough so she could rise up on her elbows and glare at him. "Did you just shush me?" she asked incredulously.
"We cannot cast a silencing charm," Severus reminded her in a whisper. "You, my love, are a screamer."
"You like that I'm a screamer," she pointed out.
"I love that you're a screamer," Severus agreed. "Your screaming of my name when you are at the height of your pleasure gives me a rush that cannot be compared to. It is, however, the reason why there is a permanent silencing charm over our entire flat. I shudder to think what the neighbours would say about us if they could hear you. It is only two nights, love, on Monday I will bring you to such heights as to render you hoarse from screaming," he promised.
"Do you think me incapable of remaining silent right now?" she asked.
"Indubitably," he retorted.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Challenge accepted!" she declared.
"Very well," Severus agreed. Oh, she was in for it now. With the ease born from several years of making love to this witch, Severus began an oral assault on his wife starting at her neck. Several minutes were taken up as he removed layer upon layer of clothing, but once he had her down to her knickers, he knew it was only a matter of time before he emerged the winner of their little game.
Once again pressing her body into the air mattress, Severus sought out the one spot on Hermione's neck that he knew drove her wild. Alternately sucking and licking the sensitive skin soon had her thrashing her head and valiantly remaining silent while doing so. Only breathless pants could be heard from her. Undeterred, Severus merely began to move lower. He kissed and sucked his way down her throat and over her chest until he reached the swell of her breasts. He adjusted his position above her before practically burying his face in the valley between the two peaks and proceeding to ravish her. Not one section of the entire area was left untouched either by his hands or lips. It was while he was suckling on her right nipple that the first audible whimper escaped Hermione's lips.
'I've got you now,' he thought. One hand snaked down over her abdomen, under the elastic of her knickers and immediately dipped into the wetness that had liberally pooled around her entrance. One swipe of his finger over her clit had her crying out loudly in pleasure.
"While we do want grandchildren, we do not want to hear them being made!" Jason's voice called out from the other tent.
"Told you," Severus said as he rolled off Hermione.
"Wipe that smirk off your face!" Hermione hissed as she turned onto her side—away from Severus.
Severus knew it would only be a matter of time before Hermione grew cold and so he turned to spoon her. "How do you know I have a smirk on my face?" he asked. He began to fondle her breast again but Hermione swatted his hand away. She sat up to put her nightie back on.
"I know you!" she retorted, lying back down again and allowing him to cuddle up to her back.
"Yes you do," he agreed. He turned her face toward him and kissed the corner of her mouth. "Goodnight," he whispered.
"Goodnight," Hermione whispered back. She took his hand which was lying across her waist and put it back on her breast.
Severus smiled into the darkness as he gave the fleshy orb a gentle squeeze. He knew he was forgiven.
There was no way of telling how many hours had passed when Hermione and Severus were jolted awake by an animalistic scream—followed closely by a very human one. Grabbing their wands from under the mattress where Hermione had put them earlier, they almost ripped the zip on the tent trying to get out.
"Oh God! What is it? What is it? What is it?" Selene's shrill voice could be heard in the darkness.
"Lumos Maxima!" Hermione's spell lit up the entire campsite, just in time for them to see a European Badger dart off into the darkness. "It was just a badger, Mum," she said.
"Just a badger?!" Selene repeated. "It was huge!" Jason put his arms around her and held her close.
"It's all right, love," he soothed.
"Now I really have to go," Selene said, almost hopping up and down. "Hermione, come with me and bring that light with you!" Hermione meekly followed her mother, picking up the small hygiene bag Selene had obviously dropped and pulling on her trainers.
Severus picked up the torch that Selene had also dropped and shined it around the edges of the campsite. "I can check for any more of them," he offered, holding up his wand.
"No, it is just a standard hazard of camping this time of year," Jason said. "It was probably coming close to the warmth of the fire and scrounging for food. That one will be long gone. Thank you, I know it's hard for you and Hermione this weekend not using your magic, but I appreciate how quickly the two of you were able to jump to our defence—even against a silly badger."
"It is, and always will be, our pleasure," Severus replied. "This hasn't been too taxing on us, if anything it provides an appreciation for the gift we have and also an appreciation of how it is to live without it."
"You don't think Hermione is resentful do you?" Jason asked worriedly.
Severus pondered for a moment. "No, it is not the magic ban that has her upset per se; she is just using it as the most convenient excuse to hide the real issue." Both men took a seat by the nearly-out fire. Jason poked at it with a stick, added a few pieces of wood and got it going again.
"What is the real issue exactly?" Jason asked as he stared into the flames. It was a little bit hard for him to admit there was something about his daughter he was unaware of while another man knew all too well.
"Camping in general," Severus replied quietly. "How much has she or the blunder-duo ever told you about the year they spent on the run?" Years spent in their company allowed Severus to gain a tolerance for Hermione's two best friends but he rarely let an opportunity go by to get in a dig at them. These days everyone knew it was meant as a form of affection, even though Severus would never admit it.
"Not a great deal," Jason admitted. "All three of them just refer to it as the camping-trip-from-hell. Given that they usually laugh after they say it, I figured they were exaggerating a bit."
"It is a situation of either laugh or cry," Severus said astutely. "They have told me about it—granted they were blind drunk when they did—but it truly was a camping-trip-from-hell. They spent most of the year starving, they only ate what they could scrounge in the wild or purchase farm-fresh, often not in the most ethical of manners."
"What do you mean?"
"They would take food from farms in the dead of night, but leave money to pay for it," Severus explained. Jason just nodded his understanding. "More often than not they ate wild mushrooms and berries. Added to that they were camping with a piece of the Dark Lord's soul tied around their necks in turn, it was winter, they really had no clue what it was they were doing and how to accomplish the end goal and Ron even left them for a time. The entire experience would be enough to turn a person off camping for life."
"Then what on earth is she doing here?" Jason asked incredulously.
"Celebrating your birthday in the way you wanted," Severus replied without rancour.
Just then, Selene and Hermione could be heard walking back through the trees, bickering about the badger.
"It was a fully-grown badger, Hermione," Selene said firmly.
"It was not, Mum," Hermione argued. "At best it was in its late adolescence; maybe only about fifty centimetres long—oomph!" She stopped talking as her father almost barrelled into her and wrapped his arms around her, as though to protect her from the world.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, sweetheart," he said.
Hermione was quite surprised by his behaviour. "Um, okay, I accept your apology… for what?" she asked.
"For forcing you to come on this trip," he said. "Severus just told me about the last one. I didn't know, if I had I would never have suggested this." Jason's voice was cracking with emotion as he apologised to his daughter over and over.
Hermione stared at Severus in accusation. He simply shrugged his shoulders, his expression clearly unconcerned with having confided Hermione's real problem with camping this weekend. Still being held tightly in Jason's arms, Hermione lifted her own to hug her dad back. "It's okay, Dad," she said reassuringly. "I knew it was time to confront this. If I truly didn't want to come on this trip, nothing you could have said or done would have convinced me. Screaming badgers and mothers aside, I am having fun; this is fun, this is not hell. We have plenty of food and no one is trying to hunt us down and kill us," she laughed a little bit as she said this. "Maybe next time we can lift the magic ban, but I am glad we are here."
"I am glad you are here, too," Jason said softly. Hermione knew he was not just talking about being in the wilderness.
Severus had been filling Selene in on what he had told Jason while the girls were off in the trees. She walked over and put her arms around Jason and Hermione, just holding them quietly. Severus watched them with a small smile until Hermione and Selene both held an arm out to him, beckoning for him to join the family hug. With an inward grimace (he really did not enjoy the amount of physical affection this family bestowed upon each other) he joined them, gently placing a hand on each of the women's backs briefly before stepping back again.
Hermione was nearly asleep when she heard a noise. She lifted her head from the pillow and concentrated but all was quiet. Just as she was about to lay back down, she heard the noise again. It was a moan. And it was coming from the direction of her parents' tent! A third moan broke the stillness of the night, louder and slightly more urgent. Hermione could tell from Severus' breathing that he was awake.
"Can you hear that?" she whispered.
"The dead could hear that," Severus retorted quietly.
"And they had the nerve to stop us!" Hermione pointed out in her furious whisper.
"Are you going to say something?" Severus asked.
"I wish we could cast a Silencing Charm," Hermione said.
Severus chuckled. "I meant to them," he clarified.
"No, Mum was pretty shaken up, even though it was just a badger," she said. "She probably needs the comfort." The moans were dual now—they could clearly hear both Jason and Selene in the throes of passion. Hermione squeaked uncomfortably and buried her head against Severus' chest with her pillow over her ears, constantly chanting, "This is not happening. This is not happening." It made no difference and the trembling of Severus' body as he tried to contain his laughter at the situation did not help either.
A final, passionate cry of "JASON!" echoed over the campsite and Hermione emerged from her self-made cocoon, now with a more thorough knowledge of her parents' sex life.
"Look at it this way, we may have just been auditory witnesses to the creation of your little brother or sister," Severus whispered. He was highly amused by the entire situation.
Hermione sniffed. "I should hope so; clearly they have only ever had sex once before since I am an only child." Severus could not help the soft laughter at her prim-sounding tone.
The quiet talking and residual pants from the other tent came to an abrupt halt until Jason's voice could be heard asking, "Do you think they heard us?"
This was too much for Hermione. She sat bolt upright and shouted, "THE DEAD COULD HEAR YOU!"
Severus laughed loudly as his wife flopped back down onto her pillow and Jason and Selene's sheepish apologies carried through the night air to them. Still chuckling, he gathered Hermione into his arms, ignoring her huff and tenderly kissed the top of her head. Placing one of his legs in between hers, just the way she liked it; he tightened his grip and felt her burrow into the space between the mattress and him. Sleep came quickly after that.
The next morning, Hermione woke early; the call of nature suddenly quite insistent. She grabbed her own hygiene bag and trudged through the trees to the small toilet hut that serviced several of the nearby campsites. She exchanged a few friendly words with a mother and young child that were already waiting before it was finally her turn. Unlike at home, where she could go to the loo and then crawl back into bed still half asleep, by the time she got back to their campsite she was wide awake. She only went back to the tent in order to drop her bag back inside and to grab the knitted blanket she had brought with them.
With the assurance of one who had started many campfires in her day, Hermione prepared the kindling and wood and sparked a small flame. She smiled as she remembered having to show Arthur Weasley how to operate the matches way back at the Quidditch World Cup just before her fourth year. It amused Hermione no end that magic was clearly being performed all around them, yet Mr Weasley insisted on maintaining the charade that they were just ordinary Muggles ordinarily starting a campfire. The fact that they were essentially camping in tents that were internally the size of small cabins did not seem to enter his head. They would have had a far more difficult time trying to explain that than a worrying about if a surreptitious wand point and a non-verbal Incendio had been seen.
'Mr Weasley sure would love this though,' she thought fondly as she filled the tea kettle with water and hung it over the fire to boil. If she survived this weekend she might suggest to Ron and Harry to bring Allison, Ginny and Jamie along on another weekend with her and Severus. 'It is time,' she thought to herself. For all the griping and moaning she had done so far, looking around the campsite now in the early dawn hours, she felt a peace within herself that she could not remember feeling for a very long time.
Even when she and Severus were at home there was a level of energy in the air. Magical beings and magical objects just radiated it and she was around them all day, every day, at home and at the hospital. Given that all their friends were magical—some of them from the most pure-blood of families—it was no wonder she had become used to the constant thrum of magic around her. This morning, she only felt stillness. She wondered if maybe it was an effect of so much life magic being around her in the natural surroundings. A gentle breeze blew through the site, causing Hermione to shiver suddenly. 'Natural magic,' she scoffed. 'Natural magic would be warmer.'
The kettle suddenly spewed forth a great deal of steam so Hermione lifted it off the direct flame and hung it on the higher hook Severus had placed so it would stay warm but not continue to boil away to nothing. It was very similar to some of their lab set ups. She quickly prepared herself a cup of tea before she hunkered down under the blanket. Looking over at her parents' tent, she smirked slightly as the warmth of the blanket enveloped her completely. 'So much for no magic, Dad,' she thought. This blanket had been a gift to her from Molly Weasley two Christmases ago and usually resided over the back of the large sofa in their flat. Many a night she and Severus had fallen asleep under it, a warming charm infused into the very wool of the blanket.
If anyone had been observing her for the next hour, they would have thought she was mesmerised by the fire. She did not move from her position except to take sips of tea from her mug. In reality she was reviewing the latest results from their research and devising new ways to test the conclusions she and Severus had reached but it was done without her moving. It was not until Selene emerged from the tent that she snapped out of her reverie.
"Good morning, Darling," Selene said fondly, bending and kissing the top of Hermione's head.
"Good morning, Mum, tea?" Hermione asked.
"Yes please," Selene said before disappearing off to the toilet hut. By the time she returned, Hermione had all but disappeared under her blanket again and Selene's cup of tea was waiting for her. As she sat down she gave an exaggerated shiver. "It certainly is brisk out here, isn't it? I wish I'd had your foresight to bring a woolly blanket with me." She was rugged up in a quilted, down jacket, gloves, scarf and a knitted hat.
Hermione lifted up one edge. "You can climb under if you like," she offered. "Severus and I share it all the time."
Selene gave her a wry smile. "If it's all the same to you, I think I might decline from taking warmth from a blanket that you and your husband share," she said, loading the last word with innuendo and then laughing at Hermione's rising blush; it only confirmed her initial thought of what Hermione and Severus might just share under that blanket.
"After what we heard last night I don't think you can take much of the high ground," Hermione quipped, laughing in turn at the immediate flush that overtook Selene's face.
"Oh, please stop," Selene begged, covering her face with her gloved hands. "I was mortified about that, especially given that your father had effectively poured cold water over you and Severus earlier in the night."
"Mother, please, are you telling me that you thought you were being quiet?" Hermione asked.
"Well, no," Selene admitted. "I guess we just forgot that we weren't actually alone. Why didn't you say something sooner?"
"As I told Severus, even though it was only a badger, you probably needed the comfort," Hermione replied.
"Can I tell you a secret?" Selene asked. Hermione nodded. "I was comforting your father."
"What? Was he—" Hermione abruptly cut off her question when she remembered his reaction the previous night. "Oh," she said in a small voice.
"It kills him a little bit that he wasn't here to protect you—I know, I know," she said, holding a hand up to stop Hermione's apologies, "you saved us and we are eternally grateful to you for that. But after what Severus told him last night, he just was a little bit unsettled."
"Well, I had hoped you wouldn't learn of a lot of that," Hermione confessed. "Not that I don't trust you or anything," she said quickly. "I just thought it all wasn't something you necessarily needed to know had happened."
"Hermione, we're your parents, we want to know everything that happens with you," Selene said.
Hermione raised her eyebrows dubiously. "Right up until you hear me having sex with my husband?" she asked pointedly.
"Touché," Selene said. "Did we interrupt you very far into it?" she asked with an apologetic smile.
"No," Hermione huffed. "We had barely started."
"Well, as frustrating as it is to be stopped like that, I am sorry," Selene said, not sounding particularly sorry at all.
"The frustrating part was that Severus was right!" Hermione said grumpily.
"Hush! Have I failed as a mother?" Selene teased. "I am sure I would have taught you to never utter those words out loud where your husband might hear you."
"Too late," Severus' sleepy voice floated toward them from inside the tent. "I may have to preserve the memory for posterity."
Hermione and Selene both laughed. "He said I wouldn't be able to keep quiet and I accepted his challenge," Hermione confided in a hushed voice. "One touch, down there, and that was all she wrote."
Selene laughed again. "Maybe once you get home," she predicted.
"The minute we get home," Hermione corrected her mother firmly.
They shared another cup of tea while they waited for the men to emerge and start the day.
After a breakfast of bacon sandwiches and hot tea Severus and Jason left the two women and headed off for a hike through the trees. Even though they had promised no magic, Severus knew the woods would be teeming with flowers, plants and trees that would yield ingredients pertinent to his and Hermione's experiments. He was planning to harvest as many as he could while he had the opportunity. Jason was very interested in hearing about the possible applications as he assisted his son-in-law in his task. Research was something Jason highly encouraged and he had been ecstatic when his daughter had pursued a career in that line. He was also able to brag to his family, friends and patients that his daughter was a medical researcher. Some of the jobs her friends had would have been impossible for him to explain to others: Dark Wizard catcher, professional Quidditch player, magical prank shop owner. While they were hiking they also managed to trap a rabbit which would serve as their dinner. Knowing how squeamish Hermione was when it came to dead animals, they made sure it was prepared before they headed back to the camp. Jason turned a blind eye to Severus magically preserving the meat for the hike back.
"Done," Severus declared. He put the freshly skinned and gutted rabbit into a plastic zip-lock bag and used his wand to completely banish all traces of the unneeded parts. "Sorry," he said as he placed his wand back up his sleeve.
"Don't mention it," Jason said with a wave of dismissal. "In fact, I think we can relax the rule entirely."
Severus looked surprised. "Are you sure? You were adamant," he pointed out.
"That was just because I thought Hermione was denying her roots," Jason confessed. "I wanted her to recapture our brand of magic, the fun we used to have when she was a kid. She used to love coming out into the woods and hiking, fishing and bird watching."
"She still does love that," Severus said. "Only now we tend to take day trips. Fresh ingredient harvesting is a huge part of our jobs."
Jason smiled sadly. "I suppose I have to get used to the fact that my little girl has grown up and experienced things that mean she will never look at the world the way she used to," he said.
"I imagine if we were to speak to your mother she would offer a similar thought regarding you," Severus observed.
There was silence while Jason pondered this thought. "I suppose you're right," Jason said. "You never really think of it from that perspective but we were all someone's child once and grew into adults before their eyes. Now that I think about it, it's probably why the grandchildren are so spoiled."
Severus just smiled tightly in response. He had not been particularly loved as a child by his parents let alone his grandparents. The Snapes had died long before he was even born and the Princes certainly never had any contact with their half-blood grandson. At least he knew any future children of his own would not suffer for the want of love from those who should provide it instinctively. If anything, his children would almost drown in love when he factored in the honourary uncles, aunts and grandparents they were sure to have.
Upon their return to the campsite they endured the mini-lecture Hermione gave them about the rabbit.
"She could have been out getting food for her babies and now you've condemned them as well!" she said passionately.
"Your words would carry a lot more weight if you weren't salivating over the thought of fresh meat," Severus teased her gently.
"That is beside the point. The rabbit is already dead and me abstaining from eating it is not going to change that fact. Besides, who is the one who refuses to eat duck?" Hermione retorted.
Severus blushed slightly to Selene's amusement. "You don't like duck?" she asked.
"He thinks they're too cute to eat," Hermione said triumphantly.
"Ducks serve a purpose and some of them are endangered," Severus defended himself. "We just saved a whole ecosystem by killing this rabbit and preventing it from birthing hundreds more."
Hermione patted Severus' cheek patronisingly. "Of course, dear," she said. "Just next time make sure it is an old rabbit past its baby-rabbit-bearing years."
"Given this rabbit was male, the whole point is moot anyway," Jason said as he placed strips of meat onto the skillet for cooking. Hermione stuck her tongue out at him but laughed when he mimicked her. The four broke open another bottle of wine to share while they waited for their dinner to cook.
After another evening of food, wine and lively conversation, they again split to sleep in their respective tents. They made sure to douse the fire completely in order to discourage any other wild animals from entering their campsite and all the leftover food and rubbish was stored away securely.
"I bet I can make you make noise," Hermione said sultrily when Severus slipped into the sleeping bag. The small window at the back of the tent was open to allow fresh air into the confined space and the moonlight that spilled in provided enough ambient light for Hermione to see the raised eyebrow Severus sported on his forehead.
"Is that so?" he drawled. "What will I win?"
"Completion," Hermione whispered. "If you make a noise I will stop and leave you to your frustration."
"Carry on then," he said with a smirk. They started by kissing passionately, their tongues sliding against each other while their hands got busy. Hermione had rolled on top of her husband and had one hand sliding up and down the column of his throat while the other was palming the growing erection hidden in his pyjama bottoms. For his own part, Severus had both of his hands buried in the wild hair he loved so much, gathering it away from their faces and tugging on it gently as he knew she loved. He smiled into their kiss as he heard soft whimpering noises fight to escape her lips. They were not loud enough to carry through the still night to her parents' tent but they were still audible sounds—none of which he was yet to make.
Hermione almost tore her lips from Severus'. The hardness under her palm continued to swell and began to throb lightly. Swiftly, she kissed and nibbled her way down his body, only pausing long enough to move his pyjamas out of the way of her goal. She was determined to win this little game and leave Severus frustrated, just as she had been the night before. His erection sprung out toward her face, almost hitting her in the nose. Judging by the way Severus' body shook he was trying to hold in his laughter; Hermione mock-scowled at him before turning back to the task at hand. She regarded him for a moment, trying to draw out his anticipation as well as deciding on her course of action.
With the tip of her tongue, she reached out and swiped the end of his cock. There was no sound from Severus but he did immediately begin to rub her head, his fingers buried in her hair. Hermione worked her mouth to generate an excess of saliva before sinking it over the head of his erection and swishing her tongue around. This time she was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath, still nothing that constituted a sound per se, but definitely a reaction. For a minute or two, Hermione bobbed her head up and down, trying to take as much of him in her mouth as she could. Still no sound emanated from the man below her.
'Time to up the ante,' she thought. Hermione's hands and tongue got busy; toying with all the sensitive parts of him that she knew drove him wild. Hearing the quickening breaths from her husband, Hermione redoubled her efforts, gently cupping Severus' scrotum and squeezing just hard enough to not cause him pain. This technique usually worked on him, all he did tonight was grip her hair firmly to keep her mouth where it was as his release flowed up and out of him and down her throat. Another sharp intake of breath was the only indication he was affected at all.
Still with nary a sound he hauled her up his body and crashed her lips against his own. His tongue plundered the depths of her mouth, causing her to moan softly. Severus broke away from the kiss with a smirk.
"I win," he whispered.
Hermione huffed and gently thumped his shoulder. "How do you do that?" she hissed irritably. "I give you a fucking orgasm and you do not make a sound. You give me one kiss and I'm a fucking wantonly moaning mess!"
"I am very talented," Severus whispered smugly.
"Humph," Hermione exhaled. "If that weren't so true…"
"Come, we should get some sleep. We will be busy in the morning." Severus pulled his pyjama pants back into position and allowed Hermione to burrow herself next to his body. He kissed the top of her head once she had gotten herself situated. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you too," Hermione murmured.
Before she drifted off to sleep she reflected on the last two days. She had really enjoyed herself. It had been lovely to spend some time with her husband and parents just sitting in the open air reading, talking and playing some games. She would have to arrange another weekend trip—this time with the boys.
Three weeks later Hermione led a line of people down the trail to the same clearing with Severus bringing up the rear.
"Why didn't we just Apparate, Hermione?" Ron Weasley whined. They had been walking for nearly thirty minutes! He did not know what had possessed him to agree to this—it was bringing back way too many unpleasant memories, despite the assurances of the abundance amounts of food his wife had packed in a magically expanded hamper and the promise that there was a total absence of potential torturers and murderers hunting for them.
"It is a popular camping spot, Ron," Hermione's voice echoed back to him. "We can't run the risk of Muggles seeing us just pop up out of nowhere." A couple of minutes later her words were proven when they emerged from the trees in time to greet a pair of fishermen standing on the rocks in the middle of the river. Luckily they moved on quite quickly, informing the group that their time might be wasted if they tried fishing—nothing had been biting. The three couples were not concerned at all, the hampers and ice chests they carried contained enough food to last them several weeks. Ron wanted nothing left to chance.
With the help of a few discreet spells, the campsite was soon set up and they were able to start relaxing. Hermione and Severus immediately took off with Harry and Ginny's young son in tow to harvest more of a specific herb that Severus had found here on their last trip. The herb had proved to be the breakthrough they had needed on one of their experiments and testing had used up their entire supply. It was the main reason they had decided to head back to this location and make a weekend of it with their friends.
That night, after a companionable dinner and songs around the campfire, Hermione and Severus settled themselves into their tent.
Severus immediately latched his lips onto Hermione's neck and she moaned appreciatively. When he continued his attentions, Hermione gasped, "Aren't you worried about them hearing us?" She remembered from the weekend with her parents how quick he was to stop any noise she had made.
"What do you think I am, woman?" he asked. "I placed a silencing charm on this tent about five seconds after it was erected."
"Oh," she said. "Want to have some fun then?" she asked saucily.
"I thought you'd never ask."
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