It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman in possession of a bright, inquisitive mind must be in want of a good book.
That Hermione Granger, now in her second year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is one such young woman is a truth easily deduced from the larger-than-usual school bag she generally carries around on her person, out of which she would draw thick, heavy tomes with fascinating titles such as Contemporary Findings Regarding the Healing Properties of Beozar, Revised Edition and Wand Waving for Witches.
It's no exaggeration to say that Hermione is the smartest witch in her year. Indeed, she's recieved, enclosed with her first year exam results, a small letter from Headmaster Dumbledore himself congratulating her of having scored the highest grades amongst her peers in every subject—and after her inaugural Hogwarts letter, it's most valuable piece of correspondence she owns.
Conversely, Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown, the only two other Gryffindor witches in their second year, cannot be more different from Hermione if they tried. Just as one immediately thinks of books the instant they hear the name 'Hermione Granger', the names of the Gryffindor Patil twin and Brown similarly conjure at once the mental images of Muggle lipstick and Witch Weekly. The only point in common they share is the fact that they lived in the same dormitory, ate at the same table and attended the same classes.
Try as Hermione might not to let it show that this truth vexed her, vex her it does. She remembers, clear as day, how, when she stepped into the Great Hall for the first time last September, she'd torn her gaze away from the Enchanted ceiling with no small difficulty to find her peers looking around themselves, their faces a perfect mirror of her own. Looking at their slackjawed expressions, Hermione felt a thrum of excitement pass through her. She was a Witch, her classmates-to-be were just like her and finally, finally, she'd found where she belonged—
At that moment, the world had seemed alive with possibilities.
One year later has found Hermione significantly more realistic about her prospects. It's impossible not to, having shared a room with two girls whose fast friendship is something she's borne unwitting witness to, and which she's wanted and made attempts to be a part of ever since her Sorting, only to fail time and again, for the duration of an entire school year.
Hermione Granger shares not one common interest with Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil. Such had been the nature of things in the Muggle world: really, she oughtn't have expected the Wizarding World to turn out any different.
Needless to say, when she finds a book emblazoned with the words Fallen Under His Charms on the spine one day, lying on the floor precisely at the halfway point between her bed and Parvati's, her curiosity is piqued.
There is no possibility of leaving the dormitory that day. The day Hermione Granger comes across a book and leaves it unread is the day pigs turn human*.
Hermione picks up Fallen Under His Charms and, sitting crosslegged on the floor, turns it over in her hand. For a piece of literature that belongs to either Parvati or Lavender it feels surprisingly heavy under her hands.
She squints at the front cover, a tasteless mix of fuschia—yes, fuschia; if anyone needed a reason as to believe why the book cannot have belonged to Hermione, this is it—and gold. Starting from the top, in letters that decreased in size with every line: Fallen Under His Charms, Or, In Which Winifred Wichley Finds Her Match. Near the bottom, with the dots of the I's charmed to turn into hearts, sparkle twice and turn back, the name Iphigenia Ignifer.
Hermione hesitates, her eyes lingering on the sparkling hearts. It wouldn't do for one to judge a book by its cover. But the garish amalgam of fuschia, gold and hearts does not exactly bode well.
Nevertheless, her curiosity gets the better of her. Just one page, Hermione tells herself. A quick look. For all the time she's spent in Wizarding bookshops and the Hogwarts Library, she can't remember the last time she read any sort of fiction—Why would she, when she's in fact living a life that's the stuff of fantasy to the average Muggle?
This, Hermione realizes, has been a grave oversight on her part. One she makes a note to remedy with a trip to the Library as soon as possible.
With a determined nod, Hermione opens the book at random.
Aurelius Cavalier twirled his wand (eighteen inches, Acacia, Veela hair, pleasantly supple) betwixt his fingers. " I must say," drawled he, in his characteristic French accent, "Never in all twenty years of my life have I met someone as talented and innovative with Charms as you, Miss Wichley. And I have travelled far and wide across the plains of Asia Major, the jungles of Bombay, the tundra of the Arctic North on my journeys." Golden strands of hair fell across Cavelier's face as he sighed, and he lifted a hand to tuck them behind his shoulder. Lowering his hand, Cavelier looked at Winifred with his acquamarine eyes. Eyes that can charm even the most brilliant of Witches, and Winifred Wichley was the most brilliant Witch in her generation.
"It gives me great pleasure to ask you, Miss Wichley, would you like to become my Research Assistant? In you I have at last found my equal in intellect and magical prowress—"
Before Hermione knows it, she's flipped back to page one. Curling up against the side of her bed, she resumes reading.
Miss Winifred Wendolyn Wichley, formerly of Ravenclaw House, sighed as her eyes fell on the calendar on her wall. It was September first and, as one of the newest alumni of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, she would no longer be boarding the Hogwarts Express and returning to that dear castle which had been like a second home to her—
Good books are all alike; every brilliant book is brilliant in its own way.
Hermione, after having read Fallen Under His Charms in its entirety, can say with much assurance that the said book is of the latter category. She is no discerning reader—she's read much and read widely—but no book has captivated her as deeply as that of one Iphigenia Ignifer. In Wendolyn Wichley she can see much of herself: they are both brilliant, talented witches whose pursuit of knowledge knew no bounds. Wendolyn also has some rather clever spells in her arsenal that Hermione's determined to replicate, such as the Bookmark Charm, which one casts by pointing at a page and saying Nota Bene!; when flipping through the book one's finger would automatically find the page again without meaning to.
And then there is Aurelius Cavalier. Oh! What an amazing man he is. It's as though Iphigenia Ignifer had written Fallen Under His Charms for Hermione herself, so seamlessly does Aurelius match the idea what Hermione fancies in a future partner (Hermione may not spend half her waking hours with her mind on boys the way Parvati and Lavendar seem to do, but she has given it some thought from time to time). Aurelius Cavalier is intelligent, charismatic, with golden hair and sharp, discerning eyes that could spot minds of similar brilliance and most importantly of all, has accomplished many feats of daring that rivaled Professor Lockhart's in their sheer audacity.
When Parvati returns the dorms to find Hermione in the middle of a third readthrough and offers her the sequel, Blinded By His Glamours, with a grin, Hermione accepts it at once.