Katsuki’s been cursed.
Fucking Monoma, getting all pissy that Katsuki beat him out on their final exam. Fucking curse, making him sneeze and his vision go blurry, and his claws and fangs pop out and disappear uncontrollably. Fucking useless Deku, just sending him to the apothecary around the corner from UA University’s campus because he “didn’t know” what the curse was.
Deku knows everything. He’s doing this to fuck with Katsuki, he’s sure of it. Maybe he’s even in on it!
Okay, that’s a stretch maybe. They’re roommates, they’re civil at least. Deku wouldn’t help curse him.
He needs Katsuki to pay the rent.
Still, he can’t help but harbor some resentment that Deku is sitting in his last final exam, completely unbothered, while Katsuki is stumbling, sweaty and shaking, towards the Uraraka Apothecary, two blocks from their apartment.
People are staring and giving him a wide berth.
Useless fucking extras.
God he feels like shit.
He snarls at the next guy who makes a noise and skirts around him.
It doesn’t make him feel as good as he’d hoped it would.
The door to this stupid shop weighs six million pounds. Who the fuck needs such a heavy door? Are they trying to keep their customers out? Fuck dude. This is stupid. He doesn’t need any fucking apothecary. He doesn’t need help! Stupid Deku, making him come here for help like some weak little… baby.
Okay, so maybe his ability to think is starting to slip a bit. Sue him.
“Welcome to the Uraraka Apothecary!” a voice rings out. It’s too high pitched and sweet, and the person it’s coming from smells of overripe peaches and the lightning strike scent of magic.
Katsuki’s head is fucking reeling. He sneezes again. His fangs and claws pop out unbidden, and this time his ears change too.
He whines at the feeling of his body rearranging itself too quickly.
“Excuse me? Is there something I can help you with? I— woah!” The person… girl, she’s a girl, he thinks. The peachy magic girl snaps her fingers as Katsuki lists dangerously forward, freezing him in place.
She rounds the counter to prop him up before the slap-dash levitation spell falls, helping him lean against it. Fuck, she’s strong. And round. And her cheeks are so pink.
“Hey, hey! Can you hear me?” Oh. She’s been trying to get his attention. “What happened to you?”
“Curse. Got cursed.”
And then Katsuki passes out in her arms.
When Katsuki wakes up, he does not know where he is.
He’s in a room he doesn’t recognize, in a bed that’s not his own, and everything reeks of ginger, chamomile, and magic, and fucking peaches . It nearly makes him retch with how oversensitive his sense of smell seems to be at the moment.
He doesn’t know what’s going on or how he got here.
He’s so fucking sweaty.
Katsuki forces himself to sit up, despite how shaky his arms are.
It looks like he’s in an office, there’s a desk on the other side of the room, and a filing cabinet on either side of it. A closed laptop sits at the center of it. Tiny drawers line the entirety of two walls, each labelled for a different herb or crystal or metal, waxes and bones and woods. Katsuki himself is on a small cot in the corner, covered in a blanket adorned in runes, a cluster of herbs suspended from the ceiling and smoking above him.
A witch’s office then.
He must have been cursed.
The door creaks open.
The smell of peaches gets stronger.
Katsuki resists the urge to retch, and instead snarls in the direction of the girl who enters the room. Peaches is holding a tray with a steaming mug and a bowl on it. She smiles when she sees him.
“Oh good, you’re awake!”
“What the fuck am I doing here, Round Face?” he snaps back. His fangs have come out, his face more wolf than human. His words sound a little funny when he gets like this. Peaches only sets down the tray with a quiet sigh.
“You tell me, Wolf.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Don’t call me Round Face.” Touche.
“Fine, Peaches. What am I doing here? What do you want from me?”
“It’s Uraraka Ochako, Mr. Manners. And I don’t want anything from you. You’re the one that came crashing into my parents’ shop looking like death warmed over. Do you remember that?” Her comeback for his snarky nicknames is short and snappy, but Uraraka’s expression stays soft and kind. Her heartbeat stays level and steady, even with a seething werewolf snapping at her. Her scent doesn’t sour with the tinge of fear or deceit.
For some reason, Katsuki trusts her.
So he starts wracking his brain. What happened? What led him here?
He remembers… studying with Deku. They had their Magical Applications of Mathematics exam coming up. It was a final exam, and even with the weight of a whole semester on his shoulders, Katsuki had been confident, and rightfully so. He’d aced that exam, beat out every other top student in the class with ease, even Deku and Yaoyorozu.
Monoma, who was a petty bastard with an affinity for hex magic.
Monoma, who fucking hated losing, almost as much as Katsuki.
Monoma, who definitely cursed him in retaliation.
Katsuki remembers feeling the sharp jolt of magic hit him as they left their professor’s office building after finding out their scores. He remembers beginning to feel ill as he made his way home. He remembers fumbling his key in the lock of their stupid shitty apartment, and Deku starting to fret as soon as Katsuki was inside. He remembers insisting he was fine, Deku had his last final for the semester to take in half an hour, he’d been on his way out the door. He remembers Deku saying to just hang on, that he’d take his exam and be right back, there’s an apothecary right around the corner.
Katsuki remembers leaving on his own anyway.
Well shit. He’d gotten those instructions muddled up in his magic addled brain.
“Well, you stumbled in here on your own, are you sure this… Deku person said he’d take you? Because he wasn’t here when you showed up.”
Well, apparently Uraraka had taken most of that trip down memory lane with him. Stupid magic making him say his thoughts out loud.
“Hey, Wolfy, you’re still thinking out loud.” Fuck. “Do you remember anything else? I think you’ve got a phone on you that’s been going off a lot. I kept hearing something buzzing, but I didn’t want to go sticking my hand in all your pockets, that’d be invading your privacy way too much!”
Shit, his phone.
He digs it out of his pocket, only a little clumsily. His claws won’t retract. Sure enough, he has seventeen texts from Deku, three missed calls from him, one call from Auntie Inko, and one text from his mother that just reads “you better not be dead, runt”.
His phone is also telling him— “It’s fucking eleven at night? I’ve been here for thirteen fucking hours?”
“Sure have.” She seems unbothered. “Whatever curse you were struck by? I think it was magic meant for a human. Meant to just… make them feel under the weather for a day or so. It interacted with your lycanthropy pretty badly though, and made you feel a lot worse. But! I’ve got some tea for you, should help clear out the remnants of that curse, and some rice, if you’re up for trying to put something in your stomach.”
This is… above and beyond what Katsuki would’ve expected. He figured he’d be given a tonic to drink, or crystals to keep under his pillow as he slept and herbs to burn. Maybe a quick spell performed on him in-house.
Not this girl, this stranger, sticking around hours past closing time to take care of some random guy who stumbled into her family’s shop and passed out on her.
Any normal person would’ve just called an ambulance. Hospitals would’ve had witches on staff to help him out.
But no. She’d helped him out and stayed to keep him safe. Well beyond any obligation as a business and a client. This is just… pure kindness.
Something deep in his chest warms.
Katsuki stamps it down, because he doesn’t know how the fuck to deal with that.
“Hey, come on.” She carefully cups the back of his head to keep him steady. He only barely keeps from flinching, but her touch is gentle and soft, and he really is shaking too much to keep himself upright to drink this stupid tea. The smell of peaches doesn’t seem so overbearing anymore. “Just drink this, and text whoever’s been so worried about you, and then you can rest off the last bits of this curse and head home in the morning. Okay?”
She lifts the mug to his lips, guiding him to drink.
It smells wretched.
It tastes worse.
He chokes at the first sip of it, and coughs it up before he can force himself to swallow.
Uraraka yelps in surprise, but, to her credit, does not spill any more of her awful tea, and does not disturb her hold on Katsuki.
“Are you alright?” Concern colors her voice and her expression.
Katsuki coughs one last time, and tries not to look embarrassed. He glares instead.
“Tastes like shit.”
Fuck her, she actually giggles at him. Goddammit. It should be more infuriating than it is.
“I’m sorry. But it’s not made to taste good. It’s made to help your body after having been cursed. So quit being a baby, and drink.”
He grumbles and glares and flashes his fangs, but does as he’s told.
When the stupid tea is gone, he shoots off a text to Deku that’s… mostly comprehensible. His fingers are not cooperating.
He’s asleep before he can even think about the fact that he’s feeling tired.
Katsuki comes back to his senses the next morning. He feels infinitely better than he did when he stumbled into the apothecary the previous morning. That Uraraka girl really knew her stuff.
Speaking of Uraraka, she’s asleep in the desk chair, head pillowed on her arms on the desk.
Katsuki considers waking her, thanking her for taking care of his dumb ass for hours longer than she should have had to.
But the humiliation of having needed that help in the first place, of spitting tea in her face, wins out.
He empties his wallet onto the desk instead, leaves a stack of cash enough to pay for her services three times over, hopes that’s enough to compensate her for putting up with him, and flees.
Tail between his legs.
Like the coward he is.
A month later, and Katsuki still hasn’t lived this shit down with Deku, who has already memorized his class schedule for the new semester— Katsuki himself hasn’t even done that yet— and has texted him after each one, asking if he’s been cursed, or if he’s gotten himself lost, or if he’s in the care of another random witch.
Katsuki is very close to simply crushing his phone as he takes a seat in his History of Magical Sciences class.
“Woah there, Wolfy. You’re gonna break that!”
Katsuki is hit, abruptly, with the smell of peaches. He nearly chokes on his next breath.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” That’s… more aggressive than he was aiming for.
Nevertheless, Uraraka seems unphased.
She beams at him.
“Well I was just going to ask if this seat next to you is taken, but I’m gonna guess people don’t like to sit next to such a grumpy wolf,” she teases, taking the seat directly to his right. She’s not wrong, really. People do tend to give him a buffer zone in classes. He has Resting Bitch Face.
Uraraka, as it seems she always is, is undeterred. “And since I’m not asking about the seat anymore, I figure I’ll ask something else instead. Like are you free this weekend? I’d love someone to try out that new coffee house downtown with. And I figure you owe me for running away without even a goodbye after I removed that curse for you. I didn’t even get a name.”
Her tone seems teasing, but she’s got a pout on her face to rival even Deku’s big teary eyes.
Katsuki is a weak man.
“Bakugou. Uh. Bakugou Katsuki. And I am free this weekend. But I don’t owe you shit. I paid you, Peaches.”
“Peaches?” she questions, one eyebrow cocked, and her pout suddenly turned into a smirk. “Well now you’ve got to come out for coffee with me, cause class is starting, but I need to know what that’s about. Saturday at two?”
He inhales, and the scent of peaches washes out everything else.
And well. How is he supposed to say no?
“Fine but you’re paying.”
“I think I can manage that. The strangest thing happened a couple weeks ago! A client at the apothecary I work at left me four times the amount I’d normally charge for the magic I did for him. Odd, wouldn’t you say?”
And Katsuki is a weak man, so he sighs, already a touch fond, and agrees.
“Pretty fuckin weird. Ya got me there.”
Katsuki pays for their date that weekend.
But Uraraka smiles at him, all pink cheeks and big eyes, so he can’t really complain.