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The Bookworm and the Beast

Chapter Text

Once upon a time:

"Fuck off, old hag!"

"You know that is not very polite, young man."

"The hell if I care."

A scowl.

"Such a charming vocabulary you have right there."

It had been a peaceful night. About half an hour ago. When the gentle breeze of the wind brushed against every plant life, when the crickets chirped, the owls hooted and frogs croaked; a gorgeous symphony of evening's orchestra. The stars like pieces of broken diamond placed upon an ebony blanket and the moon bright and mysterious in its glow.

It had been all good.

Until after a certain cloaked figure materialized from seemingly nowhere and blocked a running carriage as it was riding towards home. The vehicle came to an abrupt, skidding halt so as not to flatten the slumping old woman, throwing its passenger against the floor for the unceremonious face-plant of the century.

A young man had launched himself out of the carriage, positively livid, with a very colorful introductory phrase: "WHAT THE FUCK?"

His face had presented a magnificent shade of red, sporting a very prominent bruise on his forehead.

"Listen, my good lad, all I ask for is a night's shelter in your home. That is all." The lady said, willing her voice to sound patient despite the fact that she very much wanted to smack the ash-blond bastard with her cane. What a disrespectful man!

He gave the woman an open-mouthed 'are you serious' look.

No one could tell what sort of expression the old woman wore that moment because the hood of her brown cloak concealed her face very well. All that could be seen from her were her wrinkly jaw and thin pale lips.

"Yah? What's in it for me?" he drawled.

The tiny woman reached inside her cloak and pulled out an old, navy blue book. She held it out for him to see. "This is a very special book. It is hundreds of years old, the only one of its kind," she ran her thin wrinkled fingers against the surface of its cover, and her voice assumed a fonder tone as she spoke the next words, "it is very dear to me. It is yours if you grant me my request." She bowed as she offered the item to the young man.

Silence stretched on for three minutes, with the night creatures sounding their calls and the trees rustling loudly, but soothing to the ears. The aged woman waited uncomplaining for the man's reply, holding the book reverently in offer.

A bark sounding between outraged and amused broke the stillness.

"What the hell am I going to do with that?" said the ash-blond incredulously, looking unnecessarily disgusted with the offer.

"It has plenty of uses." The cloaked stranger replied flatly, excusing the impudent way the young man spoke. "It is up to you what to do with it."

"Keep it." He spat, climbing onto the carriage, slamming the door closed and returning to his seat. "I've got a shit-load of books already. Don't need to add one more."

The woman's lips curl in distaste, her patience reaching its full stretch at that moment. She hugged the book closer to her person, revealing dark shaded eyes under the shelter of her hood as she tilted her head.  She spared a glance towards the driver of the carriage who had chosen to remain silent and pretend to not have heard anything throughout her entire exchange with his passenger. Stoic may be the coachman’s expression, but she could see the faintest trace of concern for her well-being in his eyes. She inwardly smiled at the older of the two men present. Ah, such a lovely fellow, she thought fondly.

Her pleasant features vanished as she shifted her attention to the younger lad, who had made no remedial action for his terrible behavior towards her. She blinked, eyes flashing a yellowish color, one that they missed.

"I would watch my manners when dealing with others if I were you, Bakugou-sama," she warned her eyes narrowing into dangerous slits. She brought the book to her lips and gave the rough surface a gentle kiss.

Inside the carriage, the boy replied, "Too bad! I'm not you!" 

A moment’s pause, and then:

"How the hell did you know m—"

Just as he emerged from the vehicle to demand from the old lady again, a bright flash of light erupted from where she stood in the forest, blinding him.

His world numbed for a moment, face ablaze with the warmth of the light that bathed every corner of his sub-conscious. He was floating in an empty white abyss that seemed to stretch infinitely, his body rocking gently as though gliding the surface of the ocean.

A bell chimed and he fell.

As quick as blowing candlelight out, everything came back to its original state.

Well, almost everything.

Katsuki's eyelids fluttered open finding the small figure of the old lady gone. The coachman was nowhere to be seen, too. The hell?

He groaned, realizing just now that he was lying on the ground beside the carriage. Beside him, the elderly blue book lay. Angry, tired and aching, he reached for the stupid piece of crap.

Only then did he also realize that he had claws.

Fucking claws of all things!

Shuuzenji Chiyo smiled pleasantly perched atop a long, crooked redwood branch 50 feet from the ground when she heard the resounding 'the Fuck' coming from the very place where she left Bakugou Katsuki with her enchanted book.

She sighed contentedly as she peeled off her hood, allowing the calming splash of moonlight kiss her wizened face.

More profanities echo across the treetops courtesy of a very furious, very confused and very cursed young ash-blond. Chiyo chuckled albeit more sympathetic this time.

"I shall discuss the terms with you next time, Bakugou-sama." She folded small, wrinkly hands on her lap. "In the meantime, do try to cool down until my next appointment!"