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Two nights before the students of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had to board the Hogwart’s Express bound for school, a huge and unexpected storm hit England, shaking the cores of every soul. With the final war between good and evil on the horizon, people were on edge. It was just a matter of time before Voldemort made his move, and in the suspense of pending doom, every little thing was causing jumps and fear in the hearts of the magical community.

Hermione Granger, despite being a muggleborn, was still scared by the sudden outburst of thunder and lightning mixed with pounding of rain, assuming the worst: that this was the time for war. As lightning sparked overhead, she jumped out of bed and ran lightly down the hallway to the large window at the end. The sky was as dark as sin, the sheets of rain so thick it seemed impenetrable, a huge driving force that solid objects couldn’t stop. The claps of thunder sounded like the booms of bowling balls on pins, and shook everything in a sickening way. As lightning crackled to life overhead, giving the sky seconds of brightness, Hermione’s eyes fell on a figure in the mist.

Saturated in rain, the figure was barely visible in completely black attire against the storm. He, or she, seemed to be walking briskly, giving off the sense of wanting to run but not wanting to risk it. A hood covered the head, a trenchcoat concealed the figure of the body and thick black boots seemed almost to float above the water rushing down the streets and sidewalks. Hermione couldn’t help but stare, wondering why anyone would be out in such a storm. She caught only a few glimpses as the person when lightning filled the sky, and after a few moments, the figure was swallowed into darkness and gone.

“Hermione? Dear?”

The 17 year old turned at the light sound of her name being called, and saw her parents standing in the doorway of their room with flashlights, her mother’s face full of concern. The airy voice of her mother was barely audible above the sounds of the storm, but her worry was so palpable in the air around them that Hermione could have sensed their presence without a single word spoken.

“I’m fine,” she responded, crossing the distance between her and her parents in a few hurried steps. The occasional bursts of lightning cast ghastly shadows on their faces and threw menacing silhouettes against the wall.

“Are you alright, Hermione?” her father asked, concern causing his eyebrows to furrow together.

She gulped. “I’m fine, I just... I saw,” she paused. Her parents patiently waited for her to continue but it seemed so strange that she wasn’t even sure she really had seem someone. “I thought I saw someone, walking in the storm.”

Her mother, always quick to worry and assume, gasped. Her father, though hesitant at first, turned towards the stairs and gradually picked up pace as he descended and headed towards the front door. Hermione ran back to her room to grab her wand before following after her parents.

The front door of the Granger house was thick, dark wood with oval shaped glass in the center to look in and out from, though partially distorted so it wasn’t a perfect view. Mr. Granger’s eyes darted quickly around their surroundings before opening the door to get a better look. The sound of the storm was terrifying and painful, and seemed to echo inside of them. Mrs. Granger flipped the front porch light on, and with a curious and fearful stare, cocked her head to the side looking down.

Hermione looked from her mother to what she was staring at, and saw a brown parcel lying on the welcome rug, seemingly missed by her father’s gaze. The thick wrapping seemed almost untouched by the rain, wrapped nicely in string and waiting without so much as a card or note. Just before Mr. Granger closed the door, his foot brushed against it and he bent over to pick it up. The heavy door closed swiftly and loudly, and Hermione watched curiously as her father’s facial features went from protective and determined to curious and confused. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, he held it out to his daughter.

“It’s addressed to you, Hermione.”

Hermione’s honey brown eyes grew wide as she took the outstretched package and ran her fingertips lightly over it. “It’s a book.”

Her mother took a sharp intake of breath before wrapping her arms around her only daughter. “I’m not too sure how I feel about you opening that. There’s not so much as a note or signature from the sender.”

“But it has her name, dear. I’m sure it’s fine.”

Hermione nodded. “It’s probably from a friend, someone who possibly assumed I’d know it was from them and therefore didn’t see the need to sign their name.” She turned the package over and over in hands, already wondering what kind of book was waiting for her to unwrap.

“It just seems so peculiar...” her mother argued.

Mr. Granger shrugged and put his hands on the shoulder of his wife, gently steering her towards the stairs. “It’s just a book, a harmless gift. If there’s a problem, I’m sure Hermione will obviously let us know and we can take care of it. In the meantime, let’s just head back to bed. The storm will pass by morning and we can all breathe easily again.”

Hermione watched her parents climb the stairs, her mother’s footsteps more hesitant and frightened than her father’s. She clutched the still unwrapped package to her chest before anxiously hurrying up the stairs, wanting to get back to the safety of her room and open the gift. She was positive that whatever it was, it would help her ignore the rage outside. Books always had a calming effect on her, and all she wanted right now was to feel safer and fall back asleep with ease.

Once back in her room, the door closed behind her and the lamp on the bedside table turned on, she climbed into bed and pulled the covers up around her. She carefully unwrapped the paper, disgarding it and the string on the floor. In her hands was a thick black book, a pink oval stretching in the center from top to bottom that read “The Art of Seduction” in gold capital lettering.

Hermione let out a surprised laugh, thinking it was a joke. Who in their right mind would give her a book on seduction? She was more interested in books and her studying than she was in trying to win the glances and winks of the male population around her. She had come to terms long ago that she wasn’t what guys would call “attractive”, and had instead thrown herself and her brains into a whirlwind of stimulating education. In her mind, there were better things to do than obsess over hairstyles or makeup tips or the latest fashion trends, and she figured her time was better spent improving what was in her head, rather than what was physically pleasing. Beauty would fade, but her intellect? No, that would last.

However, she had always been a curious girl and was constantly looking to increase her knowledge. On the back, the beginning of the paragraph in the pink center of the book began with, “Get what you want by manipulating everyone’s greatest weakness: the desire for pleasure.” It was intriguing enough, even if it was something she didn’t really have an interest in. She was about to start her final year at Hogwarts, why waste that precious time learning how to give pleasure to people who didn’t even hold a candle to her intellect?

But a small voice in the back of her mind persuaded her to open the book to the Table of Contents, where each chapter was described with a short paragraph. The book was split into two parts, the Seductive Character and the Seductive Process. Still chuckling, she flipped to the Preface and began reading.

HI EVERYONE! new story, how exciting! right? the book is a REAL book, so whenever it’s quoted, those are ACTUAL QUOTES from an ACTUAL BOOK. just so people don’t assume i’ve written them, because honestly i don’t think i could.
but yes, as always, please R/R!

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