‘Alya, I can’t do it.’
‘You can , Marinette. Embrace the boss girl that you are! Jump into the unknown!’
Marinette shook her head abrasively, hands fidgeting and lower lip caught between her teeth with anticipation. She was so not ready for this. How could she when during class of madame Bustier, Adrien sat 30 centimeters away from her! Breathing! Living! Directly speaking to her without the filter of Nino or Alya to help her through her stumbling words and blushy cheeks.
Nope. She was not made for love. Or rather, love hadn’t been prepared for the explosion that was Marinette Dupain-Cheng.
‘I will jump, then fall, because I have two left feet,’ Marinette groaned, dumping her head on Alya’s shoulder. Her best friend chuckled, shoulder vibrating with her.
‘You’re being too hard on yourself, M. Just relax. You’ve been friends with Adrien for nearly a year, so treat him that way.’
Marinette inhaled deeply, nodding. ‘You’re right,’ but what if she accidentally farted? Or burped? Or talked his ear off without noticing and he’d get annoyed of her? She was surprised he wasn’t already, to be honest. Marinette genuinely thought he would’ve ran away, screaming, after she kissed him on the cheek at the picnic party.
‘I can see you thinking, Marinette. No but’s of what if’s. Just do it.’
‘Thanks “Nike”’, Marinette winked, feeling her nerves easing.
‘Alright. Let’s go.’
The two girls stood up from a bench in the courtyard and made their way up the stairs to madame Bustier’s class. Aside from Max, who was tinkering on his robot at his desk, the room was empty. Marinette believed Bustier had the prettiest class in the whole school. The desks where stainless, didn’t have scratch marks nor gum stuck underneath. Big windows made even the most tired students awake. The chalkboard wasn’t squeaky and whenever Bustier walked around the classroom reciting literature, her steps resembled the sound of rain pattering on a window.
Alya sat in her seat on the second row, twisting herself to send Marinette a thumbs up, who sat down on the opposite side of the room, all the way in the back. The girl squinted her eyes. In all her fifteen years of living, she never had a seat in the back. Marinette never questioned whether or not she had bad eyes, but now she was starting to worry. She glanced at Alya.
‘Breathe,’ the girl mouthed. Marinette gave her a shaky smile. She could do this.
The bell rang.
‘I’m going to die, Tikki,’ Marinette whispered as quietly as she could. She hardly even heard herself. Luckily, it seemed like kwami’s has supersonic hearing.
‘Don’t worry, Marinette! You’re Ladybug! You can do anything!’
Marinette’s head jerked up from her purse (How awkward must’ve that looked? She cringed.), stammering vowels as Adrien stared at her expectantly.
‘Good afternoon! I mean - Good morning! Hi. Sorry. I was - yeah.’
He chuckled. Great, he thought she was funny . Funny as in that weirdo you just deal with because it was the nice thing to do.
‘I’ve never sat in the back before,’ Adrien confessed conspiratorially, eyes glinting.
You can do this, Marinette. Adrien was a friend.
‘Weren’t you homeschooled before this?’, Marinette lightly jabbed, turning on her tablet.
‘Not in l’école maternelle. Even then I sat in the front.’
Marinette giggled. ‘Where did you go? Wouldn’t we have gone to the same one?’
‘I lived in Lyon until I was six,’ the boy shrugged. Everyone greeted Madame Bustier as she came in.
Marinette realised that she didn’t really know Adrien. She knew he was kind to everyone, that he could dance well (sigh.), was a gamer and that he modelled for his dad’s clothing line. But that was superficial level knowledge. Everyone knew this. How could she ever thought of loving him if she had only met his attractive face and kindness? She took a deep breath, a sudden calm washing over her.
‘Present!’, she turned to Adrien, ‘How did you know Lila was lying?’ Marinette kept her voice down. She’d rather not have the two-faced girl in the front hear her.
‘Uh…,’ Adrien scratched his neck, a little nervous, ‘Ladybug confronted her. I was there.’
‘Oh. Well, I’m happy you know.’
‘Okay, we’re going to start with looking at the symbolism surrounding Horatio’s purpose in the story,’ Bustier rose her voice, silencing everyone whilst doing so. Marinette turned away from Adrien, a small smile framing her face.
At least she didn’t fall over her feet.
Macarons or tarte tatin?
Marinette chuckled at the question Adrien wrote in his notes app on the tablet. All morning, they’ve been having a heated debate about which delicacies were better. She couldn’t believe he chose crème brûlée over an éclair, and he didn’t understand how she has never eaten escargots.
(‘You’re French, for fuck’s sake!’
‘Excuse me, only half!’)
They’re so different. I rather gift macarons than eat them though. So, a tarte tatin.
Adrien scoffed. ‘Pears are honestly such useless fruits.’
‘Good. They should be.’
Marinette placed her head on her hand, peering at his through her mascara coated lashes. ‘Have you ever tried a real, homemade tarte tatin?’
Adrien thought for a second, looking up. Adorable. ‘No. Dad doesn’t let me eat much desserts.’
The girl frowned. She understood Adrien was a model and had to watch what he eated, but he was still a kid, like her.
Marinette sat back, crossing her arms. ‘Then it’s settled. Tomorrow, you’ll get the experience of eating a real tarte tatin.’
The boy leaned into her, curious. ‘You’re going to bring me cake?’
Blue met green as she beamed. ‘Yep.’
‘Okay, you win.’
‘I told you!’)
A lot of things went wrong that morning at the Dupain-Cheng household. She nearly poked her eye out with eyeliner, banged her head against a kitchen cabinet, tumbled through the last few stairs and nearly dropped her keys in a sewer.
It was just one of those days. Or in Marinette’s case, every other day.
She was used to it by now.
What she didn’t expect though, out of all the things happening that day, was Adrien awaiting her by their desk with two cups of coffee. She eyed it with wonder.
‘Are we allowed to drink coffee in class?’
Adrien was quiet for a moment, smirk forming on his face. ‘Class hasn’t started yet.’ The familiar glint in his eye made her stomach do somersaults.
‘Right,’ she sat down next to him and gratefully took the cup. ‘Thank you.’
‘I realised you weren’t a morning person,’ Adrien began, ‘so I - you know - I mean, I don’t mean you look tired or something. But,’ he stammered. Marinette’s eyes widened in surprise. Adrien? Stammering? In what alternate universe did she land today? ‘I just thought you’d like it. I can-’
‘It’s great, Adrien,’ she cut him off, cheeks tinted pink. ‘T-thank you.’
There was her stutter again. At least now she had a valid reason. Adrien thought about her! Outside of school!
‘How did you know I liked iced coffee?’, Marinette joked, breaking the awkward silence that had arisen.
Adrien cocked his head, a hint of a smile on his face, ‘I don’t know. I guess the lucky charm you gave me works.’
‘You use it?’, she said as she looked up in surprise. Marinette felt a blush bloom on her cheeks.
‘Yeah,’ his hand rummaged in his jean pocket, revealing the friendship bracelet. He ducked his head. ‘I always have it on me,’ Adrien confessed quietly. Marinette’s heart got caught in her throat, hammering as she felt herself be so grounded and there . She sensed his smell and proximity and breath and prickling nerves.
Adrien was everywhere and it only urged her to lean in.
But she was Marinette, and girls like her didn’t lean in to boys like Adrien.
‘I- well, me too.’ The girl opened her purse, making sure to hide Tikki and showed him his friendship bracelet. Adrien beamed at her. She melted.
‘Aside from coffee, has it helped you in other situations?’, Marinette asked, sitting cross-legged. The other students filed into the room, not taking note of the once-nice-girl Marinette and the once-popular-guy Adrien. Lila was the it-girl now, and people were used to the dethroned sitting in the back together.
(Except Alya, of course, she pulled Marinette aside every lunch break for deets.)
‘Yeah, I think it helps me with tests,’ he said, ‘and with harder shoots. What about you?’
Marinette stared at him for a moment, searching his familiar green eyes for anything but kindness. She had to ensure he only had good intentions for her.
‘Yes,’ she said boldly, ‘I think it’s working.’
He eyed her curiously, an amused smile adorning his handsome features. It was lopsided and a little imperfect but completely adorable. She decided she loved his smile the most.
‘Did… did you do something different with your hair?’
Marinette self-consciously tugged at the loose strands of her thick, black hair. She felt a little adventurous this morning (she woke up early, for once), so instead of opting for the usual pigtails, she kept it down. She messily curled it as well, just for fun. The girl shrugged.
‘Uh - Yes.’ Not that Marinette needed validation (She was LadyBug, protector of Paris, goddamnit!), but it would suck if Adrien didn’t like the way she styled it. It was hard enough being in a room full of judgemental people, with Lila being the epitome of that. She wouldn’t be okay if Adrien lifted his nose at her.
He didn’t. Instead, he gingerly, carefully, softly, caressed the strands as he tucked it behind her ear. Her lips fell slack, unsure of how to react to the sudden affectionate move.
‘I like it,’ he said, lowering his gaze.
Marinette giggled nervously, tugging at her red wrap dress. A sudden thought crossed her mind: What if she wore red lipstick?
Marinette made a face. She never thought about seducing Adrien before, especially not by using her appearance. Where did that confidence come from?
‘I can see you thinking. You have a very expressive face.’
Marinette peered at him, smiling. Words that she had tried to say didn’t come out, but the girl was weirdly okay with it. Words didn’t need to be said. She simply nodded, held his gaze, trying to pinpoint once again where she’d seen his eyes before. Perhaps she made herself too brainwashed by ogling his magazine spreads, but she swore he looked like someone else. The cut of his jawline, the shape of his green eyes, the way he moved his body.
Her gaze fell on his fingers that were playing the piano on the desk.
‘I wish I could play… what are you playing?’
‘Ah,’ Marinette squealed, ‘I love his work! Did you see “Intouchables”?’
‘It’s my favourite movie!,’ Adrien exclaimed, before backtracking a little bit, ‘Well, aside from the one my mum’s in, of course.’
She smiled, ‘Now that’s a story.’
Arien threw his head back, chuckling. ‘That was the weirdest day of my life.’
Without thinking, she pushed his shoulder teasingly, ‘Excuse you, I was great company!’, she hadn’t even said her last words before her eyes widened in surprise. Did she. Just say that. To Adrien? Oh. God. No.
He put his hands in the air in defense, seemingly enjoying their banter. Marinette’s shoulders eased a little. ‘You were!’
The girl didn’t know how to reply to that, her sudden confidence seeping out of her like a leaking balloon. Where the surge came from, Master Fu knows, but she liked it. Was that how Chloé felt twentyfour-seven? No wonder the world laid at her feet.
‘Adrien, can you tell us the answer of question seventeen?’, Madame Bustier’s gentle voice reached their bench, taken both the teens by surprise. They had been in their own little world, away from literature class and the perpetual scent of B.O. Adrien flushed red.
‘Uh - - -.’
‘Marinette, from now on, please do not distract Adrien. We wouldn’t want your grades to slip,’ Bustier warned them, creating a quiet giggling carrying through the classroom
from gossiping students. Marinette turned as red as her dress.
She? Distracted Adrien?
Marinette side-eyed her deskmate, but while she expected him to appear unfazed, a tint of pink was painted on his cheeks. She contained a smile.
Maybe she was made for love.
Marinette came in early once again. Not only that, but calm and collected as well. Her hands were occupied with a white t-shirt that she was embroidering with the portrait of Frida Kahlo. On instinct, she ascended the steps to her desk and sat down, relishing in the silence and the repetition of the stitches. It was hypnotising.
Without noticing, the blonde boy slithered into the seat next to her. She was transfixed on her piece, making sure that no stitch was out of place. He craned his neck in an odd angle, trying to get a peak at what she was doing.
Her tongue was caught between her teeth with focus.
She looked up, startled to hear him say her nickname.
‘Did you just say “Mari”?’
Adrien’s eyes widened, embarrassed, ‘Yeah… I hope that’s alright.’
‘Yes! Of course!’, Marinette held her hands out, putting out the fire. She didn’t mean for it to come out crude! ‘Sorry!’
He placed his hand on her shoulder. ‘It’s okay. You can make up for it by telling me what you’re doing.’
Marinette grinned, gaze falling on the two coffees in his hand. ‘I will if you hand me my coffee.’
She took a sip of her iced coffee, feeling energy surge through her brain and lightening the headache behind her eyes. There was a major influx in akuma’s as of late, and Marinette hardly slept. Coffee was truly the only painkiller.
‘I’m embroidering Frida Kahlo on this T-shirt for Ayla. It’s her role model.’
He shuffled closer to her, thighs bumping. She froze. He didn’t notice.
‘I honestly think you’d pick up the piano fast, with your fingers.’
She looked at him in surprise, trying to keep her voice even. ‘I - I mean - You th-think?’ Shit. He still hasn’t moved his thigh. Not she wanted him too but - - - ugh. What if he genuinely didn’t realise it? What if he thought his thigh was touching the desk or… or whatever. Or maybe he didn’t care and saw the simple touch as something innocent and nothing weird at all because, let’s face it, it wasn’t weird. Indeed Marinette, she scolded herself, it was not weird . So calm down!
‘Yeah. I can teach you if you want?’
Marinette frowned, ‘Would your father be okay with that?’ Don’t think about how close he is, don’t think about how close he is, don’t think about how close he is, don’t think about how close he is, don’t think about how close he is, don’t think about how close he is, don’t think abou-
‘You’re a friend and you don’t accidentally call him “Dude” like Nino, so I think it’s fine,’ he said it in a joking matter, but something about the way he looked made her question the relationship Adrien had with his father. Not only was Gabriel Agreste stern, but he also seemed estranged from his own biological son. Adrien must’ve felt lonely for awhile.
Maybe he still did.
‘Cool,’ her eyes averted from the green-eyed boy whose thigh touched hers and met Lila’s. They were cold and venomous, sending poisonous thoughts and daggers her way, but Mari didn’t care. For the first time, she didn’t care. She had two great friends, a partner in crime and loving parents. Who cared if Lila hated her personally. Taking down Lila on a professional level though, that was priority number one. If Lila wanted to be petty, then so be it. Marinette felt strangely mature. She sent Lila a genuine, brilliant smile back, kept her leg pressed against Adrien’s and waited for Madame Bustier to call her name.
‘Would you rather… be in a relationship with Max’ robot or Monsieur Damocles’ alter ego?’, Marinette giggled at Adrien as they ascended the steps to the school. Adrien had awaited her outside of the bakery (!!!) with two coffees and his bodyguard lurking around the corner.
(‘Aren’t you supposed to be escorted to school?’
‘We decided to take the scenic route.’)
He scrunched his nose, ‘What kind of a question is that, Mari?!’
‘A good one!’
After a beat, ‘I’d pick the robot.’
Marinette gasped, ‘Really? At least “The Owl” is a hero.’
‘Yes,’ Adrien said, ‘but it’s still Monsieur Damocles.’
The girl shook her head at the thought of kissing her principal. ‘True. Your turn!’
He thought for a second, pursing his lips. She tried not to stare at them. ‘Would you rather…,’ Adrien took three fast steps to walk in front of her whilst facing her, ‘have everyone know your biggest secret or never be able to confide with anyone?’
Marinette stopped in her tracks. Her blood turned into ice and her heart halted its rhythmic beating. Did he know? He couldn’t, right? Or could he? But how would he? No. It’s not possible.
She let out a nervous laugh. ‘Uh… that’s a tough one. I thought it was going to be a funny one again.’
He roved her face, somewhat concerned. ‘Everything okay, Mari?’
‘Y-yeah. Just… wasn’t expecting that question. Anyway! I ah… I’d have everyone know my biggest secret. I would hate it if I couldn’t have real relationships with people.’
Adrien smiled at her answer, but there was something… soft about it. It wasn’t his usual beam or his lopsided chuckle, it was… she couldn’t pinpoint it. It was different. A good different.
She liked it.
‘Me too,’ They made their way up to their classroom, him opening the door for her. Lila and her followers were already seated, eyeing the two as they passed them. Adrien and Marinette sat down, instinctively close to each other. Mari didn’t know when it happened, but from one day to another, she felt this gravitational pull in a way that wasn’t there before. When her crush seemed too unattainable, the pull she felt was frantic, but this felt normal.
Marinette felt weirdly calm with her thigh pressed against his.
She bend over to grab the tablet out of her backpack, suddenly sensing movement in Adrien’s messenger bag a meter away from her. Nearly hitting her head against the desk, she jerked up. ‘Something in your bag moved , Adrien!’
Adrien paled, yet recovered in the blink of an eye. For a moment, Marinette wondered if she imagined it, but then Adrien kicked his bag in one swift motion (Did he kick his bag more often?) and gave her an awkward grin.
‘This uh, fan gave me a this toy today that’s like a virtual pet that you have to feed and it… moves.’
Adrien was a terrible liar.
Adrien tapped his foot impatiently on the marble floors of his grand hallway as he wanted for his bodyguard to find the car keys. It wasn’t that he was so eager to go to school and read further upon Shakespearean tales (It was kind of getting repetitive, if he was being honest.), but he just didn’t want to miss Marinette on the way. They had been walking together for two weeks now and it had honestly made his mornings a hundred times better. She always knew how to make his day better, with her curious questions and anecdotes about her own life. She had been working on an embroidered tee for him, and apparently finalised it last night. (They chatted about it on the phone right before he met up with Ladybug to check out what caused the rumble at the Champs-Élysées. It ended up being peaceful protestors though.)
He groaned, checking his smartphone. He was going to be late! Well, late for Mari. Adrien wondered what she’d wear today. She had this red dress she sometimes wore and it made him feel-
He pulled himself out of his reverie, frowning at the ground.
What was he doing ? Daydreaming about Mari like a madman! But the dress did make him feel… a lot. The way it hugged her waist and tickled her thighs. How soft it looked, how soft her skin looked. He knew her skin was soft, with her thigh sometimes (accidentally? On purpose?) brushing against his.
And she was pretty. God, Marinette was pretty. Her blue eyes were captivating.
He thought he should feel guilty for thinking that and feeling that, because wouldn't that he betraying his Lady? But for some reason, he knew it was okay? Adrien just had this gut feeling that the problems would solve itself.
Right now, he just knew that he had to get out of this freaking house and see Marinette because he was going to be late !
As on cue, Gorilla grumbled something incoherent, dangling the keys in his meaty finger and motioned for Adrien to follow him. The blond sighed with relief, running towards the car and flying into the back seat. He didn’t even argue about wanting to be in the passenger seat.
‘Can we pass Marinette’s house again, please?’
Gorilla nodded, and Adrien swore he saw a hint of a smile on the stony man’s face. Huh. So he did have emotions.
Just as stepped Adrien stepped out of the car, Marinette slammed the door shut, croissant in mouth and cheeks flushed from running around. The girl nearly slammed into him, not looking where she was going.
‘Ah! Wha- Adrien! What are you doing here? You should’ve been at school! Just because I’m running late doesn’t mean you should too!’
He smiled at her like a fool, not knowing what to say. He felt a lot like a fool lately.
Mari looked stunning. He could bet the pastel pink dress she wore was handmade, and the baggy denim jacket seemed thrifted. Her hair was loose, and her eyes seemed more blue, more vibrant, more… like Ladybug.
He shook the thought away, focusing on the girl in front of him.
‘You look beautiful,’ he exhaled, before realising what he said as he saw her flushed cheeks becoming more red. He backtracked, ‘I mean - I - uh. Doesn't matter. Let’s go!’
Boldly, he took her hand and dragged her along as they ran to school. He couldn’t contain a smile. Her hand fit perfectly in his. Both callous, his a little larger, her fingers a little thinner. The simple touch felt euphoric, it felt… it felt. It felt like this.
It dawned upon Adrien.
Holy shit. He liked Marinette.
Seconds before the final bell rang, they stormed into the classroom, disturbing the peaceful chatter. Lila glared at them, probably assuming the worst. His eyes met Nino’s, and his friend was simply smirking. Adrien narrowed his eyes at him.
Marinette let go of his hand, cold encompassing him instead. He suppressed a pout.
They sat down, thigh to thigh, and Adrien realised he wouldn’t have it any other way. Mari was his deskmate, and soon, he’d ask her to be more than that.