A/N: Hi, Everyone. It feels good to be back and writing! Here is the start of the story that I promised at the end of ATT. For those of you that were a fan of ATT, I'm hoping that this will have a similar feel. I need to warn you that I've already put a good amount of time into starting this story and it's taking me a while to get to the smut that some of my faithful followers enjoy. I just want to give a fair warning that I'm working on building up the story and characters before I have Cormac and Hermione getting their hands on each other ;). With that being said, the first few chapters are spent setting the stage (and I apologize) but please stick with it. I'm hoping to have a similar vibe as ATT.
Please don't call it quits after this chapter, i just want to have a reasonable plot device to get Cormac and Hermione back at this camp between Fifth and Sixth year (slightly more age appropriate).
With a flick of the wrist, the stack of parchment with the extra credit opportunity the Muggles Studies department had been offering for over a decade hovered to each of the students' desks. The professor had just explained the opportunity.
"There is an eight-week-long Muggle camp located in the northwestern part of England. If you choose to go- that is sign up and enroll- you will spend one week-long session, of your choosing, to better understand that Muggles aren't that different than we wizards. Should you complete a week long session and write a foot long report about the differences and similarities between your fellow campers, you will receive a significant head start to your Second Year grades on your classmates."
A few people in the room were listening with interest. Some were genuinely interested in the opportunity to assimilate with Muggles their own age, a few were more interested in understanding the differences between the two groups and others were excited for an opportunity to earn extra credit. Among the room of First Years, Hermione Granger was one of the students whose ears perked up at the mention of extra credit.
She eagerly took the parchment that floated to her desk and once the professor had dismissed them- the words of the Muggle camp being the final announcement of the day- she reread the assignment requirements before stuffing the piece of paper in her school bag.
"Mr. Malfoy, a word?" the professor said as Hermione threw her bag over her shoulder and jogged out of the classroom to catch up to Ron and Harry who couldn't escape from the final class of the day soon enough.
That school year ended atypically for most, but without Hermione's knowledge, First Year ended more similarly for her than she could've imagined. She, Ron and Harry halted the Dark Lord's inevitable rise, by thwarting him in his attempt to collect the Philosopher's Stone.
Hermione was somewhat of a heroine for the remainder of her days in the Wizarding World- at least in Hogwarts, but once she returned to her parents' home, life returned to normal. She spent the beginning of the summer by organizing her First Year academic documents; she filed her notes away, put her books in proper hiding places from wandering Muggle friends' eyes, and stored the rest of her magical school supplies. As she was filing away her school papers, she came across the extra credit assignment. She jumped up to her feet from sitting on the floor and ran downstairs to her parents.
She explained the assignment and at first Mr. and Mrs. Granger were hesitant to agree to send their daughter to a "regular" camp. They didn't see the educational value in sending her, but after Hermione pleaded for the fourth time and made her case, they agreed that she could sign up for one week.
In the conventional way, Hermione filled out the required form and mailed the letter to the correct address. A week later, she received a letter confirming her enrollment at the camp. She now had something to look forward to.
Hermione had never gone to sleepaway camp before so she was nervous for the whole train ride to where she was headed. Both of her parents were accompanying her, because the trip was not short. Hermione had two suitcases as large as her 12 year old self.
When Hermione and her parents stepped onto the platform of the rail station, there was a herd of children roughly her age all around her. Some were getting on the train, being reunited with their parents, while some were also stepping onto the platform just like Hermione, about half accompanied by parents and the other half, a little older, escorting themselves.
Not too far from where Hermione stepped off the train, there were about a dozen people between five and ten years older than Hermione. They were all wearing the same bright yellow shirt. On the front were the words "Camp Craig" with a circle of different animals surrounding the letters.
"Anyone coming to Camp Craig, the buses are going to be leaving in 10 minutes," the oldest looking person in a yellow shirt was saying.
Hermione turned back to her parents and was feeling very nervous - almost as nervous as her first day at Hogwarts.
Sensing their daughter's nervousness, Mr. and Mrs. Granger embraced their daughter, whispered some encouraging words to her and walked with her to one of the staff members in a yellow shirt.
Hermione wasn't the youngest student aged camper among the lot. It seemed like the ages ranged from eight year olds to about fifteen year olds. Hermione and her parents approached one of the staff members, and introduced themselves. The counselor was polite, charming and made Hermione feel at ease. She was a pretty girl with auburn hair.
"It's wonderful to meet you, Hermione," the counselor said to Hermione, but next she whispered, "Are you a little nervous? My first time at camp I was very nervous."
Hermione shifted a little, but nodded.
"That's ok. You and I are going to be great friends. My name is Nicky." The girl flashed Hermione a warm smile. Nicky couldn't be older than 17, but Hermione immediately knew that everything was going to be fine.
Again, the oldest looking counselor tried to shepherd the throng of children out toward the exit. This was the final call for last goodbyes to parents. Hermione gave her parents one final hug and kiss, before she grabbed her suitcases by the handles and rolled them behind her.
The rail station was small. There was a waiting area, several bathrooms, and two windows to buy tickets. But to get from the train tracks to the waiting area, the travelers needed to step down three steps.
Still following Nicky, Hermione was so focused on dragging both her bags behind her, that she didn't see what was coming next.
A blonde flash shot to Hermione's right and something toppled into the suitcase that she was dragging in her right hand. That suitcase clattered into the one in her left hand and clipped the girl to Hermione's left in the ankles. That girl fell forward down the three steps and took out the legs of the boy in front of her, which created a domino effect. Before all the stumbling and shouting ended, fifteen of the ninety campers that had gotten off the train had fallen to the floor. Hermione was among the fallen
"Hey!" the girl that was clipped by Hermione's bag shouted back at her.
Hermione turned bright red.
"Watch where you're going, Granger," the slick git, that was Draco Malfoy called down to Hermione. He was looking at her with a satisfied look.
Draco was still walking toward the exit when he bumped into a boy slightly bigger than he. Hermione thought she recognized him, but was too ashamed to think back to how she knew him. Instead, she was fumbling around trying to figure out which bag was hers in the sea of fallen teens.
The boy looked down on Draco standing straight up and intimidatingly. Draco slunk around him to the side.
"Here," the boy said reaching down to her. He assisted her to her feet and volunteered to take one of her bags for her. He didn't say another word while he helped her.
All while this was happening, Nicky and the other counselors were trying to get everyone to their feet, while leading them outside. Once everyone was back up, the party continued moving.
"Not a great first impression," Nicky whispered out of the side of her mouth to Hermione. Hermione thought she was being scolded but Nicky smiled a sly smile out of the corner of her mouth. Hermione, who was still red, was thankful she had Nicky, and the so-far unnamed boy.
Outside the station there were two big yellow buses that fit sixty people each. Behind the yellow buses there were two vans designed to transport luggage. Hermione dropped off her first suitcase in one of the vans, and the boy helped her placed the other one next to the first.
"Thanks for helping, Cormac. You're such a sweetheart." Nicky said to the boy.
"Anytime, Nicky," Cormac said back to her before he tore away to join some boys that were his age on the bus.
"Are you all ready, Hermione?" Nicky said turning and addressing the young girl.
"I think so," Hermione went right behind her new mentor and followed her onto the bus. Nicky sat down with a fellow staff member in yellow and Hermione sat adjacent to her. To Hermione's surprise the girl that she had inadvertently tripped, thanks to Draco Malfoy, was her seatmate.
"Is everybody sitting down? It's a fifteen minute drive to camp," the driver of the bus announced to the noisy group behind him.
Hermione couldn't help but introduce herself and apologize for knocking over the girl next to her. Hermione found out that her name was Naomi. She was also twelve and this was her third year at Camp Craig.
By the time the bus was driving down the last dirt road toward the camp, Hermione was feeling confident in the friends she had made, Naomi and Nicky. Hermione and Naomi were discussing their different strengths in school, Hermione was making sure she call her exceptional skills in Potions as "Chemistry" and History of Magic as "History", but the conversation was transferable just the same.
Hermione was in the middle of telling Naomi about how much work she needed to spend on her Language course at school (Ancient Runes), when she was immediately thrown forward.
"Bloody, Camp Adventure!" the bus driver swore. A teal colored pickup truck had swerved in front of the bus and was ripping down the road. Hermione watched as the truck sped and took a right at a fork in the road. The truck's dust path was all that could be seen. The bus for Camp Craig took the path to the left. A few meters down the left fork, there was a wooden sign ornately painted "Welcome to Camp Craig". The same animals that created the seal to the counselors' t-shirts were emblazoned on the sign.
After a fairly long- unpaved road, the bus came to a halt in a quiet circle that surrounded a patch of grass with a lone flagpole in the middle. The camp crest was adorned on a flag that waved in a breeze that didn't even extend the flag to its full extent.
The counselors in the front of the bus announced the arrival and were the first to disembark. All the campers from the first bus followed. Behind the first bus was the second bus as long and after the second bus, the vans with the luggage.
It took about fifteen minutes of utter chaos until everyone had retrieved their suitcases, but finally when everyone was in control of their possessions, the counselors led a procession to the "Gatehouse" of Camp Craig. As Hermione and the rest of the campers walked through the small building, she took in her first impression of the camp.
From the outside, the gatehouse, along with most of the other buildings, had a red coat of paint with white trim around the door frames and windows. Roofs were also wooden, but had a slate colored tint. Walking through the tiny lodge, Hermione noticed that the insides of the building had a beautiful skeleton of exposed oak that appeared to be expertly crafted. Inside there were simple rafters and supports that appeared to hold the building up, as well as ornate patterns that displayed a delicate elegance.
By the time Hermione had exited the staffhouse and followed the rest of the camp to the designated meeting place, the sun was high in the sky. The throng was making their way to a half-dug-in amphitheater. A semi-circle of 15 rows circled halfway around a stage. The stage could hold 30 people comfortably, but if there was a need you could squeeze 70 people up there.
Hermione left her luggage at the top of the amphitheater steps in the same pile that everyone else left theirs in and walked down the steps. Fortunately, she found Naomi sitting alone about halfway down the steps. Awkwardly, they sat next to each other, relieved that they had a friendly face, even though they didn't speak. Looking down on the stage, there was a microphone and speaker set, 18 young adults in yellow shirts that said "Staff" on the back, and two people that Hermione would consider adults were spread out.
Some of the staff members in yellow shirts were waving out to the crowd at familiar faces, others were chatting among themselves with smiles. Once the last campers sat down, a friendly-looking man, which was the only male adult Hermione could see, stepped up to the microphone.
"Gooooood afternoon, Camp Craig," the man said gaining the attention of the campers. People were finishing their conversations, and the excited buzz that was surrounding the amphitheater died down.
The man gave a confused look, "I said 'Gooooood afternoon, Camp Craig.'"
There were two responses. One set of those seated replied with the traditional drone of "Good Afternoon". While the other set - the set that had been to camp before - replied, "Gooooood afternoon, Camp Craig" put their right fist in the air and pumped it twice while making a sort of hooting sound.
The man on the mic smiled back to the crowd, "That's more like it. For those of you that don't know, that is the typical greeting here." His smile continued, "Also, for those of you that don't know, I am John Craig. This is my home. This is my life's work. And this is my pride and joy." He motioned around him to the camp, "I consider all of you my friends and welcome!"
Mr. Craig gave some general administrative information - Camp do's and don't, what is on and off limits, rules about the boys' and girls' cabins, and other typical words of welcome. Once his rehearsed speech was done he introduced the other woman who was the Assistant Camp Director as well as the camp nurse, as well as his wife. After Mrs. Craig was introduced, Mr. Craig turned the mic over to the young adults to his left.
The counselors went down the line and introduced their names, favorite camp activities, and made some sort of association with an animal. Hermione was confused about the last part, but didn't want to start being the weird girl that asked too many questions. After the last staff member in yellow introduced herself, Mr. Craig took the microphone back. He still had a large smile on his face.
"I don't know about you, but I am just too excited for this session to begin." While he was addressing the campers in front of him, all of his counselors were going behind the stage and pulling out large bins with letters drawn on them. "Without further ado," Mr. Craig was saying. As his words vibrated through the speakers several, more-experienced campers sprang to their feet and several others joined. That was the beginning of the second round of chaos. "Head to the counselor with your camp schedule and cabin assignments." He had to should this last part over the ensuing noise. "They're sorted by last name!"
Hermione and Naomi walked down the stairs without a word. Once on the same level as the stage, Naomi went left to retrieve her schedule and cabin assignment, Hermione went straight because the "G's" were right in front of her. Nicky was standing on the stage, getting last names shouted at her. While rummaging through the box in front of her, she caught Hermione's eye and smiled at her. Nicky reached down on the floor and picked up a folder and reached down to Hermione.
"I'm guessing you are the only 'Hermione,'" Nicky said with a wink.
Hermione took the folder and said thank you. Hermione opened it and she was very confused.
"Follow the rest of the crowd and I will see you at the cabin soon," Nicky shouted down to her while multitasking and retrieving more folders.
Hermione looked at her with quizzical eyes.
"You're in my cabin," Nicky replied, before she shooed Hermione with a free hand.
Hermione turned around and was grateful to see that Naomi was waiting for her.
"Ready?" Naomi asked as she spun on her heels to head up the steps. Hermione followed her.
Hermione was trying to take the steps and trying to read through the confusing packet. She wasn't aware of her surroundings. She was sharply kicked on the back of her right leg, which collapsed into her left leg causing her to crash onto her knee on the stone steps. Immediately, she felt tears swell to her eyes.
"Watch you step, Mudbl…" were the only words Draco was able to get out.
Hermione looked up to see her assailant, but as she looked up she was happy to see Draco tumble to the floor. Standing in Draco's place was the boy that helped her up earlier. He had two-handed shoved Draco to the floor. Completely unexpecting an attack, Draco didn't have the chance to protect himself.
To Hermione's horror, but also amusement, Draco went face first into a stone step. He was most unfortunate that his mouth broke his fall. Draco screamed. His bottom lip was spewing blood and Hermione could see pieces of chipped tooth on the step that he fell on.
Hermione almost cracked a smile. The boy looked back at Hermione with a wry smile. Hermione was beginning to feel a blush coming on, but was robbed of the moment when Mr. Craig stormed through the crowd and grabbed both boys by the upper arm and escorted them up the amphitheater steps. Hermione couldn't hear the whole interaction, but heard Mr. Craig mutter, "Not even the first activities and already fighting…"
Hermione was thankful for her knight in shining armour. She brushed some debris off her clothes and rubbed the pain from her knee before she continued to climb the stairs. She met Naomi, found her luggage and followed the rest of the crowd.
There were two paths that led through a series of trees. A large sign had two directions pointed. To the right the sign said "Upper Bridge" under that in bullets said "Ducks" and "Beavers". If the crowd continued straight, the sign said "Lower Bridge" and bulleted under that were, "Squirrels", "Foxes", "Hares", "Otters", "Eagles" and Hornets".
Very confused on what those meant, Hermione followed the only word that she came across in her packet, "Otter". Fortunately, Naomi was headed in the same direction. Once on the other side of Lower Bridge, which wasn't more than 10 meters long, spanning a very narrow creek, Hermione and the rest of the campers came to a large opening. Directly in front of them was a large stone circle with a hollow center. To the left, were six cabin. Four larger cabins and two small huts. On the other side of the fire pit, were another six cabins and just to the right of those were another series of six cabins. To Hermione's immediate right was the lake that the creek that Lower Bridge spanned over, opened into.
Outside each set of four larger cabins there were signs. "Squirrels & Foxes" were to the left. On the other side of the opening it said "Otters & Hares" and closest to the lake read "Hornets & Eagles". Hermione made her way toward the Otter cabins.
Hermione was pleased to see that she was still following Naomi. The girls climbed the stairs and pulled the door open. Hermione took a deep breath and counted to ten before she stepped inside.
A/N: Thoughts? Lost cause? Or something that could set the stage nicely for a future summer of Cormac and Hermione coming back as counselors in the future?