Marinette was seething.
She curled her hands into fists as she watched Lila pawing after Adrien, clenching her jaw hard. Why couldn’t everyone see through her? And why did she have to sit in the back by herself now? How could her friends do such a thing to her and turn against her so easily? It made her so…so…
Seeing Lila with Adrien, being moved to the back, all of her friends treating her like she was the enemy made her unspeakably angry. And hurt. Betrayed. Disgusted. As she blinked back hot tears, something fluttered in the corner of her eye, and she glanced over to see a black butterfly hovering beside her.
At first her stomach dropped, but just as quickly an idea formed in her brain. It was risky, but if she played her cards right she could rid the school of Lila’s lies for good. She could learn more about Hawkmoth and potentially gain inside information on him. Maybe she could even figure out where he was hiding. Her mind was full of possibilities, weighing pros and cons as she reached a hand into her school bag and pulled out a skein of yarn and set her purse on the bench beside her.
“I’m sorry, Tikki, but please trust me,” she whispered before offering her object to the akuma and watching as it disappeared when it made contact. Suddenly she was met with a voice in her head, Hawkmoth’s sickeningly soothing lilt feeding her promises of revenge and justice, but little did he know that she wasn’t about to be his pawn. He was about to be hers.
At the front of the room, Mlle. Bustier began calling role, and Marinette waited patiently for her name.
“Marinette?” She said finally, and several classmates glanced back in shock as a twisted laugh sounded from the backrow.
“Oh, Marinette won’t be joining class today,” she cooed, standing up on her desk. “I am Lie-on Tamer, and I’m going to expose the truth.”
“Marinette…” Alya gaped in horror, covering her mouth.
“Don’t look so surprised, Alya. What did you expect to happen when you abandoned your bff for some show-off with pretty stories?” She cocked her head to the side with an unsympathetic glare. “So, Lila, why don’t you tell us the truth?”
She cocked her whip back, but as she lashed forward, Kim jumped in front of Lila and took the blow.
“Run, Lila!” He ordered, and the girl in question, slipped out the front door before Nino took a defensive stance in front of it. Lie-on Tamer hopped off the desk to stand face-to-face with Kim, seemingly unbothered by Lila’s escape. She knew she wouldn’t make it far.
“Oh, Kim, always playing the hero,” she cooed, cocking a hip. “Fine then. Why don’t you tell us a truth about yourself?”
“I’ve never kissed a girl,” he said automatically before cupping a hand over his mouth as a Lie-on Tamer’s shoulders shook with a giggle.
“I didn’t need superpowers to know that,” she teased, pinching his cheek.
“Marinette, this is crazy! If you want to sit somewhere else then just tell us,” Alya pleaded, but Lie-on Tamer simply glared through her.
“You’re still clueless, aren’t you?” She sighed before slapping Alya with her whip. “Tell me, did you ever stop to wonder why I don’t trust Lila?”
“I thought you were just jealous,” she admitted, and Lie-on Tamer’s lip twitched in annoyance.
“Do you really think so little of me, Alya?” she asked, leaning into her face with a cold glare. “Some best friend you are, taking someone else’s side over mine when you know for a fact that I don’t dislike anyone without a good reason, and now I’m going to expose Lila for the liar she is, so you’ll all realize how wrong you were to turn against me.”
“You’re gonna have to go through us first,” Alix threatened, but Lie-on Tamer threw her head back with a laugh before leaping over them to the front of the room.
“Lila never did anything to you, Marinette! Quit bugging!” Nino said, holding his arms out, and she reared back her whip to strike before another voice spoke beside her.
“Marinette, it’s okay. No one here meant to hurt you,” Adrien said, approaching her cautiously. “I know what it’s like to be alone, so if you want, I’ll sit in the back with you.”
She eyed him a moment before stepping forward to kiss his cheek.
“You’ve always been sweet, Adrien, and I know you’d never lie to me,” she said, closing his gaping jaw before stepping toward Nino blocking the door. “You’re in my way.”
Nino struck forward, but with a practiced maneuver, she redirected his attack and sent him barreling into Ivan. Blowing a kiss over her shoulder, she kicked down the door and stepped out into the hall, hopping up onto the railing.
“If you’ve got nothing to hide then why are you running, Lila? Surely if your stories are true then my powers will have no effect on you, so why don’t you come out and prove it to us?” She called across the courtyard.
“Marinette, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you!” Alya tried, but Lie-on Tamer simply tapped the handle of her whip against her shoulder with an amused glint in her eye.
“You should be,” she said coldly before leaping down into the courtyard below, leaving Alya standing with a horrified gape and tears bubbling in her eyes.
“Where are you hiding, Lila?” She called, slapping her whip against the ground tauntingly. A flash of orange caught her eye making a break for the front door, so Lie-on Tamer leapt across the courtyard to cut her off before she could reach the stairs. “Not so fast, liar.”
Lila skidded to a stop, rocking back on her heels and losing her balance as Lie-on Tamer paced toward her. Crawling backwards on her hands and feet, she braced herself for the strike, but a smile curled on Lie-on Tamer’s lips before she suddenly dodged backwards just before Chat Noir’s baton struck.
“Right on time, kitty cat,” she giggled, pressing a hand over her lips.
“Get somewhere safe,” Chat instructed, brandishing his staff as Lila scrambled back to the locker rooms. “I thought you were supposed to be the positive one?”
“What can I say? Everyone has bad days; I am only human,” she shrugged, clapping her whip on the ground. “But I guess everyone is so used to me taking care of them that they forget that fact.”
“I’m sure this was just some sort of misunderstanding,” Chat insisted, holding up a defensive hand as if to calm her.
“I understand perfectly what happened. Little miss Lie-la is so in love with attention that she convinced everyone to turn their backs on their good friend,” she said with narrowed eyes, “and now I’m going to prove to everyone once and for all that she’s a liar.”
“Not on my watch,” Chat said before charging forward, but she dodged his attack easily with another mocking giggle.
“Too slow, and now it’s my turn, so let’s see you dance, kitty.” She slapped the ground at his feet causing him to jump back.
“Unfortunately for you, I’m a different type of cat, so don’t expect to tame me so easily,” Chat shot back as she slapped the ground just shy of his boots each time, driving him back.
“We’ll see about that,” she said under her breath before lunging forward to attack.
Chat tried to dodge, but she was ready for his next movement, landing a blow to his stomach and forcing him to double over. Each step he took, she was right there waiting, every swing of his staff or strike with his fist was easily blocked, dodged, and countered almost as if she were reading his mind. He searched her expression but only found himself met with a taunting grin each time she got the better of him, and after a couple minutes of sparring, he put distance between them, eyes narrowing.
“You can’t beat me, Chat Noir,” she hummed, resting her whip on her shoulder.
“How do you do that?” He panted, taking a knee and clutching his side. “How do you know every move I’m going to make?”
“Silly kitty,” she giggled. “I know you better than you think. Better than anyone I’d say.”
“How?” He croaked, standing on unstable legs and brandishing his staff.
“I’d tell you, but it’s a secret,” she winked, and he let out a bitter laugh.
“Isn’t your power exposing the truth?” He taunted, and she tilted her chin with a smug grin before slapping him with her whip.
“Good, Lie-on Tamer. Ask him to reveal his identity!” Hawkmoth commanded in her ear as she paced toward him with even strides.
“Well, well, kitty,” she cooed, tracing his jaw with her finger, his eyes wide in horror as she tapped her chin. “Tell me, why do you chase Ladybug repeatedly when she has told you she loves someone else?”
“Because she’s the most incredible girl in the world,” he answered, leaping back as soon as her spell wore off, and she cackled in amusement. “Ladybug, if you’re out there, now would be a really good time to help out!”
“Oh, Ladybug won’t be saving you today, kitty,” Lie-on Tamer said, cocking a hip, “but don’t worry. Justice will still prevail.”
“The only justice that’s going to be had today is you getting deakumatized!” Chat growled before charging in again, but Lie-on Tamer dodged easily with a dramatic yawn.
“Is that the best you can do?” She teased, catching his staff between her palms before turning over one shoulder and tossing him across the courtyard.
Chat hit the basketball carts, tumbling over with a groan as he struggled to move. He reached for his staff, but Lie-on Tamer kicked it out of his reach before crouching down beside him as he dropped in defeat.
“Marinette, I know you’re still in there,” he tried weakly. “I know you’re hurt, but you can fight this. Lila is a liar, I know, but this isn’t the answer to your problem.”
“All out of steam, so now you’re hoping to appeal to my humanity?” She quirked a brow, an amused glint in her eye. “I appreciate the sentiment, but I have bigger fish to fry first.”
“Take his Miraculous!” Hawkmoth ordered, and Lie-on Tamer flicked her gaze down to the ring on his finger.
The spark left Chat’s eyes as she took his hand and traced her thumb over the ring, all of the fight left in him draining in an instant. Part of him still silently prayed that Ladybug would save him, but as her fingers closed around his ring, he knew that this was finally the end for him. He held his breath, waiting for her to slip the ring from his finger and expose his identity to the world, but after a moment, a crooked grin broke out over her lips.
“On second thought, Hawkmoth, I don’t think I want to give you his Miraculous,” she said, dropping his hand, and his mouth hung agape as she lifted his chin with a wink.
“We had a deal!” Hawkmoth growled.
“Yeah, but if I give you his Miraculous now, then how do I know you won’t just take my powers away before I get my revenge on Lila?” She challenged. “And how am I going to get it to you? I don’t suppose you’re going to let me come drop it off at your evil lair, are you?”
“We will make arrangements,” Hawkmoth said, but Lie-on Tamer shook her head.
“I don’t like not knowing who I’m working with, so let’s see what we can find out about you, Hawkmoth,” she said, pressing back against the pressure in her mind.
Hawkmoth gasped in shock as her will clashed with his own, taking a step back to root himself as he struggled against her consciousness. His will was strong, but so was hers. Losing wasn’t an option for her because if she lost then everything she knew and loved could be taken from her. Her family, her friends, her city. She pictured everything in her mind as she pushed against his control until she finally felt a snap, and a wicked grin curled on her lips.
“Who are you?” Hawkmoth wheezed, leaning against his cane.
She could picture him in her mind, the dark room, the light creeping in from the window. His location was familiar. Too familiar. In an instant, her rage returned, a new fire coursing through her veins as she turned to the locker room with a scowl.
“Your worst nightmare,” she said before stalking toward the double doors.
She kicked them open, and several students cowered in fear as she stomped passed them. A few of her classmates stood between her and Lila, but she maneuvered around them with ease, tossing Kim and Nino aside, ducking under Ivan’s fists, and shoving Alix into Max until she stood face-to-face with her target. Lila’s eyes narrowed, jaw clenching as Lie-on Tamer raised her whip and struck.
“You’re going to want to record this,” she said to Alya before turning back to Lila and crossing her arms over her chest. “You already know what I’m going to ask, so fess up. Everything you’ve said from the moment you came here is a lie, isn’t it?”
Lila glared through her, tears bubbling in her eyes as she attempted to clamp her mouth shut, but Lie-on Tamer’s magic couldn’t be broken until truth was spoken.
“Yes,” she blurted. “Everything is a lie. I’ve never been in a movie, I don’t know Jagged Stone, and I never saved his kitten. I’ve never set foot in Achu, and I’ve never even spoken to Prince Ali. It was all a lie to make you all like me.”
Lie-on Tamer stepped back with a satisfied smirk as her classmates stared in awe. The room fell into stunned silence until Lie-on Tamer let out a short laugh and broke her whip handle over her knee. Darkness poured over her until Marinette blinked open her eyes, stretching out a hand for the black butterfly to rest on. She eyed it on her finger, taking a deep, concentrated breath and watching it fade from black to white before fluttering off.
“It seems as though my work here is done,” she said cheerfully, clasping her hands behind her back and turning to pace back to the courtyard with her head held high. “You can all spare me the apology.”
Back in the courtyard, Marinette paced over to Chat and crouched beside him once more, shoving basketballs out of the way. He glanced up at her in surprise, and she shifted his head into her lap.
“Sorry, kitty,” she whispered, caressing his cheek. “I don’t have a lot of time to explain, but I need you to trust me.”
“I know who Hawkmoth is.”
At that his eyes widened, and he attempted to sit up though that proved more difficult than he anticipated, so he fell back against her lap with a grunt.
“Who?” He asked, mask furrowing.
“I’ll tell you,” she said, pursing her lips, “but you’re not going to like it.”