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Cats and Cauldrons

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Kanda isn’t superstitious. He doesn’t believe in bad luck because of broken mirrors or black cats. He scoffs at astrology, tarot and healing crystals. Kanda believes in modern medicine and science.

But that doesn’t stop him from walking to the apartment of a so-called witch on a rainy evening. He also doesn’t – guess what – believe in magic and shit, but this headache is killing him, since nearly six months. It’s no migraine and no cluster headache, it’s also no high blood pressure and his head is perfectly fine. He went from doctor to doctor, tried yoga and physiotherapy, took medication and time to relax, drank lots and lots of water, and nothing is helping. No matter what he’s doing or what he’s planning, it’s only a matter of time and Kanda gets a headache. Quite often very painful, all of the time incredibly annoying. Sometimes only during the day, sometimes the headache keeps him from sleeping or wakes him up at night.

Kanda is desperate and so he clutches at straws. One of them is named Lavi and apparently a witch. Alma loves him and recommended him whole-heartedly. Trust me, they said and Kanda does, even though Alma also sleeps with a crystal under their pillow, reads their horoscope daily and makes a face whenever he walks through a ladder – of course Kanda makes a point of doing so. But Alma is his best friend and Kanda is worn out.

And so he walks through rain and darkness towards a questionable apartment complex. He doesn’t know anything about this guy, aside from being a witch and probably completely nuts. Kanda’s mood gets worse, because the rain builds up, it’s cold and windy and he can’t find the right house number, because apparently it’s only logical to skip right the one he’s searching for. So he stomps through puddles and hates everything and everybody, until he finally stops in front of an old plattenbau. At least the bell for Lavi’s apartment is easy to find, thanks to big bold purple letters and little dark blue stars. It’s an eye catcher between all the other plain little signs. Kanda presses the bell and wipes wet hair out of his eyes while he waits for an answer.

Instead the door just swings open, no buzzing or anything, just as silent as the night. The hall is deserted and Kanda hesitates, before he darts a last look at Lavi’s apartment number and goes inside. It’s pitch black, aside from a single naked lightbulb, which flickers and sways, though there is no wind. Just like a cheap horror movie and other people would probably turn around and run, but Kanda Yuu is a fearless asshole with a nice right hook and a persistent headache. He has to take five flights of steps, only hardly illuminated and on Lavi’s floor he even needs his phone to find the right door. Surprise, surprise, it’s the one with a comic cauldron and several stickers of black cats on it. He stops in front of it and takes a deep breath to calm down or otherwise he’s probably going to yell at the poor sap, because Kanda is wet and tired and his head hurts. He still knocks a little too hard against the old door, which rattles alarmingly loud. It’s silent for a moment, then he hears a cat meowing and steps. Finally the door opens and –

Well, shit.

Kanda doesn’t know what he expected. Maybe some old creepy guy, a weirdo with a tinfoil hat or the concentrated smell of cats piss. He only knows it wasn’t this.

A young man with wild red hair, very green eyes and a soft smile on even softer lips.

Well, shit.

“Hello,” Lavi says and his smile widens. “Oh my, come in. You’re so wet.” Kanda stares at him, suddenly very aware how deranged he looks and his heart all fluttery, and doesn’t move, so the redhead just takes his cold hand into his warm ones and leads him inside.

“Hey,” Kanda croaks and nearly stumbles over a fluffy black cat, which gives him the stink eye and curls around Lavi’s naked calves. “Oh, fuck.”

“Oh Artemis, you clumsy little girl,” Lavi says softly and picks her up. The cat immediately starts to purr and only pauses to stare some more at Kanda, who fights his wet hair out of his eyes and clears his throat. “How can I help you?”

This isn’t good.

Kanda looks like shit, hadn’t sex since like forever and this Lavi is fucking cute. “Headache,” he blurts out way too loud and cringes. And, of course, the most important detail of his misery, he’s shitty with pretty men. “I have a headache,” he adds more silently and notices that he keeps dripping on Lavi’s ugly purple tiles. “Oh, fuck,” he says for the second time in hardly a minute.

Lavi laughs, which makes him even handsomer, and stops him with a wave of his hand. “Don’t worry, it’s cool. I’ll get you a towel and then we sit down and talk, okay?”

“Okay,” Kanda answers and proceeds to nearly step on the tail of another black cat.

A few minutes later he sits in a midnight blue beanbag, which nearly swallows him whole, and tries to not knock the cup out of his hands with his knees. The tea tastes horridly, like Kanda would imagine licking a muddy autumn leave would taste like, but he still sips it, because it’s warm and he might be an asshole, but one with manners. Lavi sits in a beanbag, too, but while Kanda feels like his ass is already hanging into another dimension, Lavi seems to float like a flower on top of it and looks even prettier in candle light.

The apartment is tiny and decorated with dozens of candles, hundreds of books all stacked up to the ceiling, at least six wind chimes and other frippery, about as many cats, which are all black and stare viciously at him, and a little cauldron on top of a hotplate. Urban witchcraft, apparently.

“A headache?” Lavi asks and wipes his wild hair out of his face. Not two green eyes, only one of them. The other is hidden behind a black eyepatch. Kanda was way too busy looking at Lavi’s naked shoulder to notice, since his wide shirt keeps slipping down. Maybe Kanda has a thing for collar bones, or rather not, because that’s kind of weird.

He catches himself staring and casts his eyes down, before he clears his throat. “Yeah, since months. I saw several doctors, but nobody finds anything or can help,” he explains and takes another sip of disgusting tea. By now he can nearly rest his chin on his knees. Fucking beanbag.

Lavi nods slowly and doesn’t say anything, instead he scrutinizes Kanda with a small little smile. Kanda is positive that he doesn’t only look bad but also smells, since he was sweating his ass off under his jacket all the way up to Lavi’s crammed apartment, not to mention quite a few spots on his face, since his skin hates him and likes to break out, when he’s stressed. And Kanda is stressed ninety nine percent of the time, since he’s a tense bastard. He has no idea what to say, so he sips some more muddy leave tea. Lavi keeps staring and apparently thinks very hard, because he softly frowns and starts to bite his bottom lip. Kanda looks immediately away, because shit, that’s kinda hot and he really hadn’t sex in ages. And so he resigns to his fate and keeps drinking, until he’s done. He wants to thank all gods, because the fucking tea is finally gone, but Lavi already sits up and pours him another cup, which tastes even stronger and has some tea leaves flouting in it.

“Thanks,” Kanda answers deadpan and some part of his careworn heart might be crying, but at least the pretty boy smiles at him, before he gets up.

“I’m gonna mix you something,” he says and then he’s busy with the cauldron, while Kanda proceeds to – thankfully unnoticed – knee himself in the chin while trying to sit up a little. One of the cats, a fluffy monster, stares judgingly at him, before they flounce off.

“Fucking perfect,” he mutters and suppresses a gag, because one of the tea leaves touched his lips.

“Mh?” Lavi asks and looks at him.

“Nothing,” Kanda replies quickly and downs the rest of the tea, thankfully without swallowing one of the tea leaves. And then he spends the next five minutes with climbing out of the monstrosity of a beanbag, until he’s finally free. But no reason to be happy, since his knees creak and his back hurts and Kanda haphazardly wonders how one can be this whacked in their late twenties. This should be the best time of his life, instead he’s knackered, his breath has to smell like wet leave and also he’s a paying customer of a witch. Wonderful.

A thought darts through Kanda’s mind and he clears his throat. “How much?” Because on top of all of his misery he’s also broke.

Lavi looks up and smiles at him, all cheery and pretty, and he probably could ask for Kanda’s left arm and he would actually think about it.

“Don’t worry about that,” he answers softly and Kanda already forgot the question, because damn, that’s a really handsome smile. Lavi takes a small flask and skilfully pours milky potion into it without spilling anything, then he stops in front of Kanda and hands it to him. “It’s a sample. You’ll try it for two days and then we can adjust,” he explains and their hands touch, when Kanda takes the flask. “Three drops three times per day. And when you’re acute in pain you can take up to two additional drops, but all in all not more than fourteen drops per day, okay?”

“Okay,” Kanda answers and starts to frown, because next to the instruction is his name in pretty curved letters. Kanda Yuu. “How do you know my name?”

“Oh, Yuu,” Lavi answers and starts to laugh. “I know a lot of things.” Then he winks at Kanda – at least he thinks so, since there’s only one eye – and squeezes amicably his shoulders, before leading him to the door. “Take the first dose tonight and then come back the day after tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay,” Kanda answers blandly and his heart jumps against his ribcage, like it wants to escape his boney prison and run right into Lavi’s arms. And then he’s outside of the crammed little apartment and Lavi closes the door with a last cute smile and Kanda feels all dazed and fluttery, until he’s back in the cold rain, which knocks some senses into his bewitched brain.

“What the fuck was that?” he asks into the darkness and walks to the metro station, wondering if the disgusting tea is the reason he feels less tired and cold. Or maybe it’s because of the tea brewer. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

 

The medication – potion? – actually helps, but not a lot. It tones down the pain a little, but there’s still a sharp sensation behind Kanda’s temple the whole next midmorning and thankfully nobody talks to him more than necessary, because Kanda is in the mood for murder. He barely slept, since his head kept bugging him and also maybe, not really, only a little he thought about freckles and wide smiles. The idea of going back is a) exciting and b) horrifying at the same time, because a) Kanda feels all warm and fuzzy thinking about the so-called witch and b) Kanda feels all fucking warm and fuzzy thinking about the so-called witch.

“Fuck this shit,” he mutters under his breath and wonders if he should wear his new dress shirt.

 

The next day he goes back. Thankfully it’s not raining and Kanda doesn’t look like wet dog when he knocks for the second time at Lavi’s door. He’s greeted by a smile, an angry black cat and the concentrated smell of herbs.

Lavi beams at him and looks absolutely ridiculous in his sweater – orange with tiny black cats on it – and Kanda has only to enter the apartment and he has cat hair all over his dark shirt. “How are you?” Lavi asks and Kanda might look a lot better today, but he’s still an awkward bastard.

“Still headache,” Kanda answers a little too brusquely and forgets spontaneously correct sentence structure. “I mean, the headache is still there,” he corrects himself and for fuck’s sake, why do his cheeks feel so hot? “It does help, but not enough,” he adds and clears his throat.

“Oh, we can fix that,” Lavi says with a wave of his hand and holds his hand out. Kanda freezes and then he takes Lavi’s hand, because his panicking brain decides it would be rude otherwise, and they stare for a few seconds at each other, before Lavi snorts. “I need the flask,” he says and starts to laugh, when Kanda grimaces and lets go of his hand.

Oh god, he thinks and finds the flask in the depths of his pocket. “There,” he says and wishes for the ability to leave his body by willpower. Lavi is still laughing and Kanda isn’t even angry, just a little annoyed and embarrassed, because Lavi has dimples and apparently that makes up for everything.

A few minutes later he’s back in the beanbag from hell and drinks a different sort of tea, which tastes weirdly like Kanda imagines licking an iron bar would taste like. Maybe it’s blood. Oh well, Kanda thinks and makes eye contact with the biggest cat he has ever seen, nearly twice the size of the other cats, incredibly fuzzy and black, of course. The cat sits enthroned on a stack of books and starts to growl after a few seconds.

“Heracles, don’t growl at our guest,” Lavi says without looking up. He’s standing at the cauldron and mixes different herbs and fluids together. Heracles meows like a small kitten and jumps down – the tea pot on a tiny side table shakes – and walks over to him to circle around his legs, still meowing. Lavi picks him up and lays him over his shoulders like some kind of dangerous stole, before he turns back towards the cauldron.

Kanda examines them for a moment, before he empties his cup – blegh – and gets up. He thinks about clearing his throat to announce himself, but Heracles already does the job and hisses. Lavi looks up and starts to laugh.

“I have no idea why he’s so angry. He’s normally the friendliest cat one can imagine,” he says and Kanda begs to differ, but doesn’t say anything. Instead he just nods and watches Lavi grating some kind of root.

“So, you’re a witch?” he asks and there’s no way for it to not sound ridiculous. Lavi seems to think otherwise.

“Yep,” he answers beamingly and throws something into the cauldron which looks suspiciously like dirt.

“I see,” Kanda answers, because what does one reply to that? So he just watches for another minute, while Heracles fixates him and waves threateningly one of his murder mittens.

“Done,” Lavi says soon and fills some greyish liquid into the flask. “It’s stronger than the last one. Try it for another two days and then you come back,” he says and hands Kanda the flask. It’s still warm, just like the tips of Lavi’s fingers.

“How much?” he asks and his eyes wander over long brown lashes and freckly lips.

“It’s still a sample,” Lavi answers and winks at him, while Heracles casually bares his claws. Kanda promptly takes a step back.

“Oh, thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Lavi replies and nonchalantly clenches Heracles under his arm, so he can lead Kanda to the door without bloodbath. “See you the day after tomorrow!” he says happily, while Heracles grumbles silently and then he closes the door and Kanda goes home. And his knees are not wobbly, not at all.

 

This time the potion is too strong. Kanda has no pain the next day, not even after hitting his little toe at the corner of his nightstand, but he also can barely keep his eyes open. He sleeps like a drunken sailor, wakes up two hours too late and can barely remember his workplace’s phone number to call in sick.

At least he remembers the way to Lavi’s apartment and around noon he sits once more in the beanbag, while Lavi examines him with furrowed brows.

“Oh my, that was way too strong, apparently. I’m sorry,” he says and examines the flask Kanda brought back. “How did that happen?”

“It’s kinda concerning you’re asking this question,” Kanda replies all woozy and closes his eyes. Was the beanbag always this comfortable? Okay, his chin lies on his knees, but the fabric is so soft. Maybe he should get one for his apartment? “Am I high?” he adds and Lavi bursts out laughing.

“A little,” he answers and then he’s back at the cauldron, while Kanda watches absentmindedly a tiny black kitten playing with one of the wind chimes, while his eyelids get heavy.

“Yuu?” Lavi later asks and when Kanda opens his eyes, he’s kneeling next to him and Kanda’s first instinct is to draw back, because he’s close enough to count his freckles and that’s not good.

“What time is it?” he barks, because his cheeks are hot and the pretty boy is much too close. At least that makes him flinch back a little.

“You slept about an hour,” Lavi answers wide-eyed and starts to laugh. “Geez, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Same,” Kanda grits out and then he has to fight against the damn beanbag to get on his feet. At least Lavi is polite enough to turn away and pet the kitten for the next two minutes, until Kanda is finally on his feet. The potion seems to have slackened off, because he feels less dizzy and also his headache comes back with the force of a hammer. Kanda sighs and rubs his temple. “For fuck’s sake.”

Lavi examines him for a moment, before he hands Kanda the kitten and disappears nearly completely in a huge cabinet Kanda somehow never noticed before. Instead he’s standing there with a wiggling little cat in his hands and watches him.

“Maybe we could try some kind of combination,” Lavi’s voice resonates from the depths of the cabinet. Kanda doesn’t see much of him, aside from his backside and purple socks. Not that he’s complaining.

“Sounds good,” he answers distractedly and gets bitten by the kitten, maybe as a punishment for staring at their owner’s ass. “Ow.”

“Be careful, the kitten likes to bite,” Lavi says now and Kanda stares at the little black thing gnawing at his fingers.

“Thanks for the warning,” he deadpans and wants to sit them down on the side table, but the kitten holds tightly to his sleeve and keeps chewing his fingers. Apparently that’s what they’re doing now. And so Kanda accepts his fate and waits for Lavi to make a find with a toothy kitten dangling from his hand. At least he hasn’t to wait long.

“There it is!” Lavi climbs out of the cabinet and wields a thin flask. He’s all smiles, a little dusty and also there’s a stalk of dried mint hanging in his hair. “Oh dear, Eos, we don’t bite our guests.” He hands Kanda the flask and spends the next minutes with prying his hand free from little sharp claws and teeth. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I’m barely bleeding,” Kanda answers absentmindedly and plucks the herbs out of Lavi’s hair, because that’s only polite and not at all, because he wanted to touch his hair, no, no. (It’s as soft as he imagined)

“Oh, thank you,” Lavi answers and smiles at him. Then he’s fumbling with the flask and Kanda doesn’t even think about asking what he’s planning, because he’s too busy with being smug how fucking smooth that move was. “So,” Lavi says and Kanda has barely time to react, because suddenly there are two warm hands cupping his face and he freezes. “Let’s try this,” Lavi mutters and starts to rub gently Kanda’s temples, who just now notices that there is some kind of oil on his fingers. Kanda is hyperaware of every little movement, of the softness and warmth of his hands, and needs a few seconds to notice that Lavi is looking at him. “How’s that?”

“Nice,” he answers silently, because it is and all of a sudden he notices how long it’s ago that he was touched like this. Lavi smooths his thumbs over his cheekbones and his smile is so honest and kind. Then he presses a little harder and starts to rub circles into Kanda’s temples, who’s head over heels – who is he gonna fool – and can barely keep his eyes open, because a) the pain ceases, b) it feels way too good and c) the pretty boy is touching him.

This goes on for another heavenly minute, before Lavi draws his hands back and only then Kanda notices that he leaned into the touch.

He draws back and clears his throat – of course his cheeks are back at getting hot, for fuck’s sake! – and his eyes jumps over the pretty boy’s face.

“Better?” Lavi asks gently and Kanda nods, because it is better. Not only the headache, but Kanda feels like his problems spontaneously shrunk a little. His heart is all fluttery and he wants Lavi’s hands back on his cheeks.

“Yeah, it is,” he answers and shoves his hands into his pockets. Kanda Yuu, an awkward bastard at your service. “Thanks,” he adds and Lavi laughs.

“That’s good to hear.” He hands Kanda two flasks. “A more appropriate potion and some of the oil. Use it as an acute treatment.” Like always he lays his hand on Kanda’s back and leads him to the door. “And it’s still a sample. Come back in two days, okay?”

“Yeah,” Kanda answers through the fluttering in his chest, before he stops. “Do you treat all your customers like that? Like massaging and shit?” he asks with a frown, because why should he be the only awkward idiot in this conversation and of course not, because he really wants to know. He clearly catches Lavi off-guard, who looks at him in surprise. He falters, only skipping a moment, before he’s back at manoeuvring Kanda out of his door. “Maybe,” he laughs and is that a fucking blush on his face- and the door is closed and Kanda is alone with his dancing heart.

 

He doesn’t sleep in this night. No headache – what a nice change –, just some longing for warm hands on his face.

Kanda Yuu is a lot of things and some he’s not. Kanda is the quiet type. He doesn’t say much, because a) he doesn’t think he has to say a lot and b) he doesn’t know what to say most of the time. He’s awkward, often an asshole, a loner, most of the time at least mildly pissed off, kind of cold and all in all not pleasant company. He doesn’t like cats, spiritual stuff, frippery or candles. If it’s not pouring down and he’s well-dressed, he’s kind of handsome, but that’s nothing he can claim credit for. He’s also a reasonable cook, a good friend (if he cares and often he doesn’t), brave, surprisingly sharp-witted and he doesn’t kill spiders. Kanda is a bad son, but a good brother. He’s trilingual, good in mental maths and bad at ball sports. He has a good stamina, shitty social skills and a talent for handiwork. There’s barely anything he can’t fix.

One could say Kanda is quite a character, though that sounds like a shitty euphemism.

Kanda Yuu is a lot of things and some he’s not. But foremost he’s in love.

(Something has to happen or he loses his mind or what’s left of it.)

 

Kanda doesn’t wait for two days. He comes back the next evening.

“Is your pain so bad?” Lavi asks with a wide very green eye at the door and looks worried. The bitey kitten sits on his shoulder and plays with a loose string of his green sweater.

“No,” Kanda answers and steps inside. His heart is racing and his hands are all shaky. Kanda Yuu, a bastion of calm and currently as nervous as an owlet before its first flight. “Your stuff works, but there’s another issue,” he explains and slips out of his jacket, before he steps closer and cups Lavi’s cheeks, whose green eye is jumping over his face. The kitten takes a leap into a nearby curtain and watches from a fold.

“Oh?” he only says and his cheeks feel very warm against Kanda’s ice cold hands. “What kind of issue?”

Kanda takes a shaky breath and pulls him closer until he can spot every single of his freckles. Lavi lays a warm hand on his chest, feels his heart jumping against his ribcage and he’s so pretty it hurts.

“I want to kiss you so bad,” Kanda breathes. It’s ridiculous, kind of pathetic and horrifically beautiful. He swallows and his heart feels a little lighter, because Lavi starts to laugh in a heart-warming way.

“That’s the issue?” he asks and curls his fingers into Kanda’s chest.

“Yeah, that’s the issue.” Lavi lays a hand on his shoulder and pulls him closer, until they’re flush.

“Close your eyes and I’ll fix that,” he whispers and Kanda does, though they barely know each other, he doesn’t believe in magic and the smell of herbs makes him dizzy. Kanda couldn’t care less.

And Lavi kisses him.

 

 

The headache is still there from time to time, but barely a bother anymore. Other than the cats. Eight of them, all black. Kanda can’t tell the most of them apart, aside from angry Heracles, the bitey kitten Eos, who’s by now a beautiful slim cat with yellow eyes and a fluffy little girl named Harmonia, who’s the only one that doesn’t try to bite Kanda at any given opportunity. Instead she likes to lie on his chest at night and nibble at his pony tail.

So Kanda lies in the darkness with some black fluff on his chest, a bitey slim cat curled around his foot and gnawing at his toes from time to time, and a pretty boy half on top of him and deep asleep.

And Kanda, a sceptic and kind of an asshole, is happy, which isn’t a word he uses a lot. That doesn’t mean he was unhappy before, he was content, sometimes even pleased, but not happy. But now he is and Lavi would probably tell him that he doesn’t have anything to do with it, it’s just because you opened your heart and learned to love yourself, but he’s thankfully asleep and so Kanda doesn’t have to think about an answer, which expresses that it’s kinda bullshit and also doesn’t offend Lavi, which is tough, especially for somebody with the social skills of a potato.

Instead the redhead moves in his sleep and hides his face in the crook of Kanda’s neck, who feels like he’s gonna melt. Thankfully the only witness is his gal Harmonia, who purrs in her sleep, and probably some of these spirits Lavi likes to talk about.

It’s witchy, kinda weird and a new world and Kanda loves every second of it.