[Totally unrelated Author's Note: Why am I just know learning that what Brits call a 'flannel' is really a washcloth? I am shocked. I always thought 'Now why would Draco put a patch of plaid up against his wound?' This makes so much more sense! Okay, rant done!]
His Perfect Bertie Bott's Bean
"Anything for you, dears?" An elderly Squib pushing the cherry-red candy cart peered into the Head Boy and Head Girl's compartment.
"Yes, please. A carton of Bertie Botts and two chocolate frogs, please." Hermione dolled out the appropriate about of knuts and sickles, rolling them into the palm of the older woman. She smiled, handing over her sweets purchases, placing the money into the pocket on her horrid red vest.
She looked towards the Head Boy, saying, "And you, sir?"
He dragged his eyes over to the woman. "A carton of Bertie Bott's Beans."
"Sorry, dearie, but your witch bought the last one."
Draco sighed. Of course, that stupid Mudblood ruined yet another part of his school year and they weren't even on the grounds yet. Not only did he get the insufferable honor of being Head Boy with her, but they also had to share a train compartment, dormitory, and rounds. And now she was taking his beans.
Draco had been noshing on Bertie Botts far before he ever stepped his well-polished dragonhide clad foot on Hogwart's campus, but during his first train ride towards the castle he had only bought one thing from the Cart Lady. Bertie Botts. It became his tradition: eating twenty or thirty mysterious candies, enjoying a small slice of childhood before he had to smarten up and be an entity beyond himself. He was not just Draco, but instead a Malfoy, the heir to a pureblood throne. In the Wizarding World he was kin to royalty. Royalty didn't gorge themselves on silly, childish candies. So this was his moment to enjoy it.
"Oh. Thanks a lot, Granger." He growled out, turning back to the train window. The cart woman starred at him momentarily, giving him a chance to modify his order. Hadn't he wasted enough time on her, even speaking to someone so far low below him? She was just a simple cart lady. She should have gone by now. As if she knew his thoughts-and perhaps, his short temper-she slid their door shut, moving onto the next compartment.
Hermione peeled back the soft paper sides of the bean carton, pulling it first this way, then that. The soft paper resisted in her hands, then gave into her desires, tearing open to reveal the candies inside like little treasures. He watched her fingers pry into the package, picking a bean and raising it to pass past her lips. The bean she chose was bright pink. Maybe it was spotted; he didn't know, he wasn't close enough to see it.
She let out a pleasurable sigh as the flavour of the bean exploded in her mouth, closing her eyes, leaning her head back against the bench seat she rested on. Beside her was a stack of books-seriously, who would have guessed?-some quills and her newly purchased treats.
She swallowed and opened her eyes. Draco Malfoy was staring at her, looking terribly mad. She didn't know why, nor did she particularly care to find out. She moved her hand back into her package of gems and pulled out a neon orange bean. This bean, too, passed past her lips much as the pink one before it. And again, Hermione's head fell back slightly as she relaxed into the taste of the bean.
He licked his lips, "What's it taste like?"
The words hung in the air between him. At first Draco didn't realize it was him who had spoken. Why had he asked? Why was he watching her, so fascinated in her experience? He wanted the beans. That was it.
"What?" She peered at him, hesitant. She didn't know why he cared. Did he want a bean? She had purchased the last pack and he simply would have to deal with that fact. Just because he was used to people bending into his every whim, didn't mean that she should have to. For once, she had something he desired and it made her secretly happy to refuse him. It would be good for his ego to go without. Learn how the other half lives or whatnot.
"I asked what it tasted like?" She had heard him the first time, why did he need to repeat himself? What she deaf?
"Granger." He added her surname as an afterthought. Best she remember how much he hated her. He doubted that the Headmistress would allow them to squabble at Hogwarts. The bint would probably drone on about house unity, putting the past behind them… Whatever. He didn't need their approval. Frankly, he could care less. They had nothing to offer him.
Except Granger. She could give him some of these beans, couldn't she?
"Um. Why does it matter?"
"It doesn't. It was simply a question, girl," he spat. How did he manage to make each word seem so hate-filled? Wasn't it tiring to be this angry all of the time?
She lifted a mossy green bean to her lips, watching him eye it as it vanished in her mouth. She suddenly looked shocked and spit it out in her cupped hand.
"Filth. Spitting on yourself." Draco muttered, turning so that his legs we hoisted up on his bench, his side now to Hermione.
"Gross. That one was petrol." She shuttered. He smirked. It served her right being sassy with him. She would always come out on bottom, why couldn't she learn this?
Hermione pried two orange flecked beans out of the carton, pushing them past her lips. Malfoy's eyes followed her fingers clutching the beans as he had before.
"Oh." She looked a little surprised, but pleasantly so. "One is currant flavored. And the other is…" Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. She couldn't quite place what the other was. It wasn't fruity, but was distinctly sweet. Not syrupy like molasses or honey, but sticky sweet. "Cotton candy."
Malfoy's eyes crinkled up, just a bit at the edges, for a moment before he caught himself.
"Do you want one?" She didn't know what compelled her to share, but she suddenly found herself picking up the canister and tilting it towards him. "…uh, as a peace offering…?"
He looked over to her, the circus-stripped carton blocking most of his view. He shrugged, palming a handful. He tried desperately to not let any beans drop to the carriage floor.
He looked down at the teeny candies in my palm. In the middle of his creamy, white flesh sat twenty or so beans of various colors. His hands must have been warmer that he thought as some beans were already dying his hands with the colouring from their outer shell. Some were speckled with earth tones, others were hues not found in any food or drink in nature. Some were bright neon acid tones, others were deep, dark colors that almost passed as black. The fun of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans was that you never knew what to expect.
Nearly every flavour imaginable was found within a canister of these magical candies. Draco had came across beans that tasted like grass, like berries, like minced meats, like sweat. But some flavours weren't easy to pin down. One bean reminded me of this dessert pudding that his mother and he would get from a small bakery in France. Another reminded him of taste of his first kiss. Sweet, delicious, but nonetheless a flavour he could never describe or determine.
Adding even another layer of confusion to the ever-growing number of possible tastes in a carton, the colors of the beans often misrepresented what the flavour beneath the crunch coating. Just now, Draco studied a dark blue bean before popping it in his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully, enjoying the unique taste of pumpkin juice.
The mystery intrigued him. You would never quite know what to expect. You could never know what devilish, delish flavour would lie dormant beneath an innocent-looking candy coasting; nor could you judge the ugliest most vile looking beans as being tasteless. He figured that sometimes the most sweet surprises lie within the most unusual shells. And he searched endlessly for his favorite flavour, knowing that it would come some day and it would be moot to taste anymore of these magical beans. He just wanted to find his perfect Bertie Bott Bean and he knew he would. Someday.
"What's yours?" Hermione asked him, popping a orange bean into her mouth as he bit down on a pitch black bean.
"Mint and chocolate. Yours?"
He ate another.
"Pie," he breathed out.
She gagged, "bleeck. Ash."
She quickly replaced the nasty taste in her mouth with a peachy colored bean.
"Carrot. Not great, but better than that last lot." She shuddered. There really was a surprise lurking in each bean.
He chuckled slightly. It wasn't a real laugh, but probably as close as Hermione was ever going to get.
"You keep getting all the good flavours, ferret!" So much for these beans being a peace offering. He let out a noise that sounded somewhere between a snort and a disbelieving laugh. It was harsh and ended as quickly as it began.
"I always have get the best of everything. When will you learn? I know your muddied blood probably clouds your intellect, but-"
"Malfoy! Shut. Up." She yelled out, snatching the remaining beans from his hand. A few beans clattered to the floor, rolling this way and that. What a waste! One of those beans could have been the best one yet, his perfect bean!
"You're just jealous!"
"Yes, yes, do tell? I am so jealous of the beans you had. The beans I gave you!" She snorted, gathering more candy gems in her own palm.
She sighed, running his fingers up through his hair, swinging his legs back into the space between their benches. "Can I have another? I'll play nice, Mudbl-"
She held her hand up, halting his speech. He bit off the end of his sentence.
"Stop calling me that and you can have some more." She levered something he wanted with something she wanted. Smart witch, actually.
"Fine. Just give me some good ones, Mu-mudb-um, Granger." He ground her last name out, showing the extra effort he had to put in to not call her by her dirty blood status.
"No, Malfoy. We will split the beans, that way no one person gets the good flavours." She looked pointedly at him.
"Well, we'll both have half so that we'll taste the same flav-"
"No, Mud-Granger. I know how splitting them works. I was asking how are you going to do it?"
She hadn't thought about how to do it. The train was still moving around them, making it difficult to cut or slice something safely. And she would hate for Hogwarts to lose a student to a vile candy-bean-cutting incident, even if it was the blond rodent sitting across from her.
He starred at her, hoping she wasn't thinking about using a knife on these unsteady tracks. And it would be tedious wand-work to do it with magic. Each and every bean would take at least a flick of the wrist and he was getting awfully tired from all the sneering he was doing today.
"Uh. We could bite them in half?" Since when did she compromise with a Slytherin? She should have just kept her beans all to herself.
He seemed to be thinking about it. He glared at her mouth. She looked back at him nervously.
"But I do it. I can't have your filthy spit on anything I am going to consume…"
His statement was meet with her eyes searing into the back of his head. She paused, but handed him the half empty carton. He reached in and grabbed an electric yellow bean. He nibbled off half of the bean, handing the scrap piece to the young witch.
They both breathed out. This bean tasted like fresh blueberries. It was quite…
"Nice," she breathed out. It was her turn to swing her legs up onto her bench, her legs arching over her books and sweets so that her knees fit nicely against her body. They looked at ease in their compartment. Passerbys looking into the compartment's window probably would have pinned them as mates, their bodies mirroring each others.
He nodded, "Yes. Next."
He plucked a grey bean out.
"Violets." She said.
Another yellow bean.
He nibbled a purple bean.
He clutched a red bean. Bit it in two and handed her half.
A baby blue bean this time.
A white bean with dots of blue and green.
He pulled out a red bean with gold flecks.
"Oh! What is this one?" he asked her, looking a bit frantic. It was…perfect.
She chewed slowly, she didn't know what this one tasted like. To her, it didn't taste like much of anything. He swallowed thickly, regretting letting the taste pass over his tongue, trailing down his throat. He wanted more of that bean, whatever it was. It was delicious.
She kept chewing, oblivious to the flustered wizard that sat across from her.
Oh god! She still has some. I want it. His thoughts were reeling.
"Malfoy, I don't know what it is…but I don-"
He words were silenced as Draco launched his mouth at hers. Their lips came crashing together and she yelped slightly. That brief moment was enough of a breech in security. He worked fast. His tongue thrust in her mouth, searching out the remnants of that taste. He moaned into her mouth. It was too much and yet he wanted more. His brain screamed over and over again: his mouth was latched onto a common street rat as he sought that taste out! Dumb boy!
Soon there was no more candy to be found in the caves of her mouth, but his kisses didn't relent. She tasted like the bean, so sweet and perfect and special. Like nothing he had ever tasted but still somehow utterly familiar. He groaned, his head feeling light.
When he pulled back, breathing in sharply and quickly, he realized what that particular Bertie Bott Bean tasted like: