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January 2004
One week.

Seven days.

One hundred and sixty-eight hours.

No, actually it was one hundred and eighty-three hours, Draco corrected when he noticed the actual time. It was Monday morning and Potions class was about to start. He'd arrived in the classroom early, leaving the Great Hall after he'd finished his breakfast. Potions was his favorite class, taught by his Godfather and friend, Severus Snape. There was something about the classroom that always felt comforting to the blond wizard and he did some of his best thinking in the cold, drafty room.

It had been a week since the train trip to Hogsmeade, since he'd learned that Hermione Granger loved him. She had no idea what she had said in her sleep, and definitely didn't know that he was aware of her true feelings for him. He'd teased her a bit about drooling on him when she'd woken up, but he'd not said a word about her moaned words of love for him. A part of him was convinced that she was confusing lust with love, desire with affection. How could she love him when she really didn't know him? She knew Draco Malfoy, proud Slytherin, arrogant Pureblood, sarcastic bastard. True, he was all those things, but there was far more to him than the image he had perfected over the years. He frowned as his gray eyes grew thoughtful.

Okay, so maybe there wasn't all that much more to him than the obnoxious git that had spent years tormenting her, but how could she possibly love him when he was so not a lovable bloke? He was sneaky and cunning and rude and overly proud of his family's name and his bloodline and he enjoyed making her friends' lives unpleasant at every opportunity and he liked fighting with her, especially when she'd get flustered and annoyed and her eyes would flash with fire and she'd come up with a witty comeback that challenged his mind, his arguments with Hermione always arousing his body and mind. He was handsome and wealthy and had a prestigious title, certainly, but Hermione Granger was not the type of girl to put much value on those sort of things, which had him rather confused about why she proclaimed love for him as she slept.

It was highly likely that she wanted him, just as he wanted her, and that she thrived on their arguments because she, too, appreciated an intelligent debate and liked a challenge. He was definitely not an expert at love, having no experience whatsoever with the silly emotion, but even he knew that desire was not love. Love had never entered into his feelings for Hermione. Lust, need, desire, hunger, those were the most common emotions he felt when thinking about the pretty brunette witch. Over time, he'd added respect, admiration, and, though he loathed to admit it, affection. He was fully prepared to learn how to love, though he still had doubts that such an emotion even existed.

He had read about love, the romantic and ridiculous stories of deep longing and intense affection, of the way one would be consumed by feelings for another, of an ideal mixture of friendship and passion and desire and affection, but he honestly didn't believe such an overwhelming emotion actually existed. He'd never witnessed such feelings, his parents' marriage far from loving, his parents never even telling him they cared for him. He supposed those silly Weasleys were supposed to be an example of love, always smiling and touching and being rather sickening in their displays of affection, especially for people their age. They had a million ugly redheaded brats and they had been poor and their house was falling apart, but he had to acknowledge that they were the only example he could come up with to match the description of love he'd read about. It was obvious from observing that family that they cared for one another. He had seen the hugs and friendly teasing, seen the devotion and loyalty to one another that also included their extended family of friends. It was one of the rare occasions that he felt as if there was something missing from his own life, watching those wretched wizards and witches smiling at each other and hugging and speaking words of affection.

He ran a hand through his pale blond hair, his lips curved into a frown as he realized that he was jealous of those damn Weasleys. Them and their 'we're proud of you even if you are too bloody daft to perform a potion correctly' and their 'we love you even if you are a couple of moronic gits that get into trouble with your pranks and don't spend enough time practicing your Quidditch' and even their 'you're friends of our Ronniekins so that makes you family and we love you all'. It was bloody annoying, he decided crossly. He had no idea if love even really existed and had no idea how to go about learning to show love for another yet that entire family was overflowing with the elusive emotion. He was going to learn, though, even if it meant making a fool of himself by admitting weakness and inexperience.

He had decided one week ago that Hermione was going to love him. Really love him, the way he'd read about in books and secretly longed to experience for himself. He was tired of being lonely, of being miserable, of being unloved. Merlin, he sounded pathetic even to his own mind, he cringed. He could hear his Father's voice taunting him, 'poor wittle Draco, unloved and useless', gray eyes closing as he took several deep breaths and let them out slowly. He had loved his Father, but Lucius Malfoy had never been a caring or emotional man. He'd never been satisfied, nothing Draco had ever done was good enough, and he'd definitely be disappointed if he knew that Draco had fought alongside Scarhead against Voldemort, albeit secretly, and that he now wanted to have a relationship with Hermione. Lucius wouldn't be proud that he'd been given the position of Head Boy this year, he wouldn't care that Draco had earned the title of Slytherin Quidditch Captain without having to buy it, and he certainly wouldn't care that Draco was ranked second out of all the seventh years or that he earned top marks in Potions.

He ignored his thoughts about his Father, knowing the elder Malfoy was dead and buried and that there was no point dwelling on the past. He was still trying to figure out the best way to seduce Hermione into loving him. He'd been relatively friendly since school started, greeting her during their shared classes, which was a majority this term since they were both taking advanced classes, even being somewhat polite to her friends whenever their paths crossed. They shared a common room and had spent most nights studying together and having general conversations about school. He'd also taken to touching her casually whenever possible, knowing that she desired him and finding it rather enjoyable to keep her off balance by 'accidentally' touching her arm or leg and leaning against her to look over her shoulder and pretty much making physical contact as often and as subtly as possible.

He knew she was intrigued by his behavior. The silly girl had a fondness for solving puzzles, something that Draco was fully aware of, and he had to admit that he found it quite pleasing to have her concentrating on trying to figure him out. He was such an enigma, he smirked slightly, knowing the words were relatively true. No one really knew him, no one had ever tried to know him. Of course, even if they had, he'd never found anyone that he wanted to allow inside the fašade that he had created until he'd met Hermione. She was special, smart and beautiful and witty and brave and loyal, everything he had ever wanted in a partner. She wasn't a Pureblood, but Draco didn't much care about bloodlines and that other nonsense anymore. Hermione was the brightest witch at Hogwarts and could argue with him for hours over the most mundane topics and was naturally beautiful and sexy because she had no idea she had such a classic beauty. She was his equal even if she was muggleborn. And she was going to be his.


His fantasies had centered around her for years, even before he'd actually liked her. He'd woken with his cock hard or spent, her image burning in his mind, more times than he could since he'd realized that he found her attractive. Merlin, he'd wanted her even when her hair had bushy and she'd had large front teeth. He'd been captivated from the first time they met, honestly, amazed that the foolish mudblood dared challenge him, intrigued that she was smart enough to best him, annoyed that her opinion of him actually mattered. He'd taken to teasing her whenever possible, calling her a mudblood whenever her attention was not focused on him, insulting her friends in hopes she'd realize he was right about their stupidity and possibly want to be his friend instead, bloody hell, his own Father had even observed his obvious fascination with the know-it-all mudblood even before Draco had admitted to himself that he wanted her.

It had only been a week since he'd decided to seduce her, knowing that he'd have to take it slow because he wanted more than just a shag, but he was not particularly known for his patience. He was spoiled and used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it. Once he'd admitted that he wanted Hermione and planned to actually do something about getting her after being a pathetic whelp for the last few years by trying to ignore what he felt for her, he found it a bit irritating that he really wasn't any closer to having her. Last night had truly been a test and, he smiled smugly, he'd passed. Barely. She'd been studying and looking particularly delectable in a pair of muggle pants she referred to as sweats, which didn't really make sense to him, and a T-shirt displaying the name of some muggle band named after bugs, Beatles or something like that. He'd been preoccupied with how the worn fabric caressed the soft curves of her breasts and the way the shirt raised up to display her stomach when she moved in a certain way so he'd given little thought to the name on her shirt.

He'd moved to stand behind her using the pretense that he wanted to look at her Arithmancy work, his hands moving to her neck casually. He'd made some comment about her being tense and then he'd started to massage her, keeping his touch friendly and as platonic as possible, considering his cock was about to burst after hearing her soft moans of appreciation at his massage and all too easily imagining her make similar noises as he fucked her into the mattress until they were both too exhausted to move. His intention had been to offer a friendly massage, knowing she'd had a hectic day and looked a bit tired. He'd also hoped to touch her and give her a bit of pleasure in hopes that she'd start to link the two: his touch and pleasure.

Certainly, he had not anticipated having a reaction from giving her pleasure, thankful that she'd not been able to see his cock bulging against his trousers. The massage had become rather intimate, his hands caressing her neck, his thumbs pushing into her flesh, her hair brushing against his hands, her lips parted as she moaned and practically purred, her eyes closed as she let him massage away her tension. When he'd finally removed his hands, she'd told him that he had great hands and stretched, a satisfied smile on her face as she'd gone back to her homework. He'd retreated to his room where he'd quickly removed his clothes, closed his eyes, and stroked himself to orgasm with the sounds of her moans in his head.

After cleaning up and taking a cold shower, which was becoming habit over the last week of sharing a common room and most of his classes with the object of his desire, he'd gone to bed early and proceeded to dream about her. He'd woken that morning hard and aching, her image in his mind. After another cold shower and a personal thank you to whomever decided the Heads deserved their own private bathrooms, he had dressed and gone to breakfast. He was supposed to be seducing her, teasing her, tempting her so why was he the one using up all the cold water at Hogwarts? He'd watched her at breakfast, unable to look away from her. She was so bloody beautiful, her chestnut hair wild and curly, framing her pretty face.

She'd looked at him and smiled, one of the smiles that she usually reserved for Scarhead and Weasel, and he'd been unable to stop himself from smiling in return. Not a smirk, not a sneer, not a smug smile or even his 'I'm better than you are so don't even bother trying' smile, just an honest smile at the girl he wanted and hoped to figure out how to love. When his breakfast was finished, he'd immediately headed towards the Potions classroom, wanting some time to think about this unexpected development. It had been rather nice, sharing a smile with Hermione across the Great Hall, seeing affection in her eyes and knowing that it was meant for him.

He was pulled from his contemplations regarding the brunette witch as the other students began to arrive in class. Strangely enough, Draco had to acknowledge that he and Hermione were becoming friends. He still wanted her desperately, fully intended to make her his, wanted her to teach him about this love thing, but he had to admit that it was rather nice, having someone smile at him like that, as if she cared about him and wanted to know him. She had said she loved him during her dream. He wanted her to look into his eyes and say the words, to know that she meant them and that she wanted him and believed he deserved to be loved.

He also wanted to be able to love her, to know that the emotion was real and not merely myth, to feel in his heart that love really did exist, knowing that Hermione was the person meant to teach him, to show him how to love. He discretely watched her enter the room with Potty and Longbottom, Weasel thankfully not taking the Advanced Potions class. She sat beside Potter, turning to smile at Draco, her eyes moving over him before focusing on his lips, finally catching his eyes as she blushed prettily and looked away.

He knew she wanted him, had known that from the moment she'd woken from what must have been an erotic dream starring him. She was quite good at concealing her desire, he could give her credit for that, but he watched her closely and noticed the way her body reacted to him, saw the way she looked at him with longing and desire. If she was even half as affected by his teasing as he had been, she had to be using up her own share of cold water. He enjoyed teasing her, loving her reaction even as she tried to hide it, liked seeing that he affected her in such a way. It wasn't enough, though, which surprised him. He'd always thought he'd be happy simply shagging her, taking her to his bed and exploring the desire and passion he felt for her. Now, though, he wanted more.

He wanted the shagging, certainly, but he also wanted the late night conversations that had taken place over the last week, the shared smiles, the arguments about the silliest of topics, the feel of her simply laying in his arms. He was finding it all too easy to imagine a future with Hermione and he rather liked that feeling. It had only been a week, his plan was still relatively new, and he knew it would take patience and many more cold showers before he broached the subject of that elusive emotion called love. Snape entered the classroom and Draco prepared to pay attention to his lesson, wanting to concentrate during his favorite class. As Snape prepared his notes, Draco took a moment for one last contemplation regarding his plan and love and Hermione. She already wanted him, which was part of the plan. Now, he just needed to learn how to love and hope that she had meant the words she had said in her sleep. He wanted Hermione Granger to love him.

To be continued