It was with heavy steps that Marinette neared Bustier’s class, already anticipating Chloe being there to make her first day horrible. Coming up to the top of the stairwell, she peeked into the windows, seeing her fears confirmed. Chloe was there, talking away with Sabrina. Marinette gripped her bag strap tight, feeling the dread in her stomach churning away, before she released it with a sigh.
Time to face her once again. Time to deal with this long year once again.
Only as she stepped in, Bustier was quick to stop her. “Marinette? What are you doing here?”
Marinette blinked big eyes at the teacher, taking in her curious gaze with her nervous gaze. Bustier frowned, wondering aloud, “Were you not told?”
“Told?” Marinette echoed.
“You’re in Mendeleiev’s class this year.”
Marinette stared, taking in what Bustier said, repeating it over in her head just to make sure she heard it right. Marinette’s jaw almost went slack. She was in Mendeleiev’s class this year. She wasn't sharing class with Chloe this time. She… she was actually Chloe free.
The smile grew without her realizing, making Bustier frown, having never seen a smile like that on Marinette before. Or for any smile from anyone going to Mendeleiev’s class. A part of the teacher wondered if she was ok. Before she could ask, Marinette jumped to life, ignoring the eyes that turned to her.
“Thank you for letting me know! See you next period!”
Marinette ran off before Bustier could reply, racing down the stairs to Mendeleiev’s class. In her rush, her toe hit the floor, sending her flying in the classroom, flopping to the ground in a mess of limbs.
“Miss Marinette Dupain-Cheng.”
She glanced up, seeing the infamous Mendeleiev glaring down at her. “Your first year with me and you're already making quite the entrance.”
“Sorry, Mme Mendeleiev!” Marinette chirped, hopping up to her feet, beaming a radiant smile that had Mendeleiev grimacing. “I was just so excited.”
Mendeleiev narrowed her eyes, then pointed behind Marinette, ordering, “Take a seat.”
Marinette looked back, seeing a few empty seats, left by students that dropped this class. Marinette went to the only one close to front row, sitting down next to a blonde with pigtails and a light blue dress, side eyeing Marinette and that bright smile she wore. Unconcerned, Marinette turned to her and held out her hand, greeting with an excited chirp, “Hi! I’m Marinette Dupain-Cheng!”
The girl stared at the offered hand, then glanced up at her. Tentatively, she slid her hand into Marinette’s waiting palm, stating, “You smile a little too much.”
“I’m smiling?” Marinette asked, her voice giddy. “I didn’t even notice.”
She received an odd look and the girl withdrew her hand, leaning away.
“So what’s your name?” Marinette asked.
“I hope we have a great year together!”
Aurore had to turn away, overwhelmed by the radiance coming off this girl.
Despite her improved mood, Marinette hurried out of the school when she saw Chloe walk out of Bustier’s class, feeling the blonde’s burning blue eyes lock on her fleeing form. She didn’t feel safe till she was inside the bakery, letting out a sigh of relief.
“Welcome home,” Sabine greeted, from the counter, her smile knowing and coy. “It looks like it's been a promising day so far.”
“It's been an amazing day!” Marinette exclaimed, the brightest smile Sabine has seen in a while. “I don’t have Chloe in class at all!”
Sabine’s smile grew. “See, a new year, a new start.”
With an exchanged peck on the cheek, Marinette dashed up to her room, practically skipping through the second floor. In her room, alone, Marinette couldn’t contain it anymore and let it all out.
She shouted. She cheered. She jumped and danced around, just so happy she just had to move, let it out, feel alive, and live in the rush. In this bout of energy, she accidentally knocked a curious black box off her desk, missing how it popped open as it hit the ground, and a little red ladybug-like being drifted out, opening dark blue eyes in time to see her future holder dancing about wildly.
The small being blinked in surprise, watching this girl go, before she smiled, feeling a mix of amusement and confusion. What an energetic holder she got this time.
Marinette finished it by dropping onto her chaise, laughing off the last of this high, feeling good and tired. She laid still for a moment, just enjoying the moment. Only to find it broken when a voice chimed aloud.
“That was quite a scene.”
Marinette’s eyes snapped open, sitting up and looking over to see a small being floating in her room, watching her with dark blue eyes, smiling brightly.
For a moment, neither of them moved, watching each other.
The small being was the first to speak, starting to greet, “Hi! I’m Tik—”
“Aaaaah!” Marinette shouted, grabbing her pillow and flinging it at the small being, earning a squeak as it hit.
Marinette darted off her chaise, peeking over the cushion to eye the pillow. There was no movement. Slowly, she got up, creeping closer and started to slowly lift the pillow up…
A head popped out. “Hiya!”
Marinette squealed, scrambling back.
The being wiggled out from under the pillow, sitting down on her desk, waiting for her to quiet down. Then it continued, “I’m Tikki, here to make you a superhero!”
“A what?” Marinette squeaked out.
“A superhero!” Tikki repeated, darting up with a twirl, trying to reignite that energy. It was not successful as Marinette gaped at her. “There’s trouble coming soon!” Tikki continued, “And your help is needed—”
Marinette tensed at the rumble, hurrying to her window to watch a big golem stomp away from the school, a wall crumbling down behind it, shouting a name she couldn’t quite hear.
Marinette jumped, watching Tikki blink at her from where she hovered over her shoulder. “Don’t do that, please.”
Tikki darted away, picking up the box and setting it back on Marinette’s desk, presenting gleaming earrings to her. “You need to become a ladybug hero, you need to save the day, to save that boy that’s been turned into a monster. Lucky Charm will guarantee your success. Miraculous Ladybug will restore all the damage. And you must capture the butterfly to end this.”
Marinette stared at the earrings, then at Tikki, weary. “I, I don’t know…”
“You were chosen,” Tikki said, “you can do this. You can be a true hero, Marinette, I know you can make it.” Weary, Marinette took a few steps, reaching for the earrings.
In spite of the great turn this day took, this turn in direction she was unsure of.
What should be a bright morning started out more grim when Marinette awoke, seeing that people were still turned to stone, her mistake clear on the tv. It made her insides twist with guilt and stress.
She had one task. To catch the butterfly and she didn’t and now…
A hand settled on her back, making her look up to see her Papa smiling down at her, his smile tighter than usual. “It’ll be ok,” he said, trying to be optimistic. “I’m sure those heroes will take care of it!”
He kissed her brow, insisting, “How about you head to school, I’m sure this will be resolved soon.”
It would, as soon as she found someone better to be Ladybug. But who?
Making sure she had everything, and the little box in her bag, she hurried to school, shaky and unsure. She saw Ivan flee from Chloe, and after a moment of contemplation, followed to do what she could to comfort, support, and reassure. With Stoneheart hopefully avoided, she headed to class, dropping into her seat, feeling queasy and nervous, her mind racing as she tried to think of who to pass the miraculous onto.
“You’re as dreary as a grey sky today.”
Marinette looked up, seeing Aurore eyeing her, brow raised.
“Just, uh, shaken up,” Marinette mumbled.
Aurore hummed at that, gazing forward as she watched Mendeleiev go through sheets of homework, waiting for the bell to start class. “It is quite the calm before a storm,” Aurore agreed, drawing Marinette’s eyes to her. “Its… unnerving.”
“And it's all because Ladybug failed,” she mumbled, sagging in her seat.
Aurore scoffed. “She had some stage fright, not cause the end of the world.”
“But, people got turned to stone,” Marinette pointed out.
“We’re dealing with some unknown force of magic, anything is possible. That girl and cat boy seem to be connected to it, so I’m sure they’ll take care of it. This is just a small hiccup.” Aurore smiled, lifting up her arm, posing. “It’ll be easy breezy after this.”
“Well, I’m not sure , but I like to think so.”
Marinette glanced down at her bag, thinking of the little box. “Um, w-would you be one of them?” When Aurore glanced at her, Marinette elaborated, “Would you be the girl or cat boy, if you could?”
“You’re looking at the future weather girl on KIDZ+, whatever they are I won’t have time to be them, much less any interest in them. I have a future to focus on.” She turned away, sticking her nose up in the air, and unknowingly striking down any notion in Marinette for her to possibly be the new Ladybug.
Marinette sighed, leaning on her hand, back at square one.
She didn’t get much of a chance to mope when there was another rumble, followed by screams.
In the front of the class, Mendeleiev made a frustrated noise. “Not again, blast it! We can’t afford to miss days like this every damn day!” the teacher got up to see what was causing it this time, many of her students following to see as well. They came just in time to see Stoneheart back, with Chloe and Mylene in his fists, both of them shouting and screaming as he stomped past.
Marinette crept away, taking advantage of the eyes locked on them, and trailed after the golem, occasionally tugging up her bag, making sure it was still with her. If it came to it, she'll be Ladybug again. She'll do what she can.
As she followed, she caught sight of Chat Noir running on the roofs, looking like a natural with his miraculous already. She faltered, slowing down as she watched go.
Maybe he should have both. Maybe it'd be better if he had both. He seemed excited for this, eager for it, certain of himself; he should have then both.
Decision made, she hurried up, trying to keep up, determined to get the earrings to Chat. Chat got ahead, starting a scuffle with the army of Stonehearts, Marinette hung back, wearily watching as he fought them all off, grinning like he was having the time of his life as he dodged and darted around their coming fists.
Near the scuffle, Marinette caught of the girl from yesterday, eagerly recording this like a crazy person. And as anticipated, things took a dangerous turn. One of the golems knocked a car towards the girl, going too fast for her to avoid. Chat threw his baton to save her, getting grabbed by a stony fist while the girl ended up pinned by the car, her expression twisted up in pain.
A cold, terrifying feeling went through Marinette as she watched the scene play out slowly. A resolution ignited, she put back on the earrings, summoning, “Spots on!”
Whether or not she was the best for this, Ladybug was needed. And until she could find a chance to pass it onto someone better fit for it, she was going to help however she can, even if it was scary…
Third day of school and the world seemed brighter once more. While she wasn’t entirely sure, a decision was made. For now, Marinette was going to continue as Ladybug. Chat had faith in her, pointed out that she could save the day. She faced Hawk Moth, ready to fight him whenever he came out, to face all that that he threw her way.
She saved that girl.
She saved Chloe.
She saved Ivan and Mylene.
She saved Paris. She saved the day.
And with Tikki’s warm eyes and bright smile, maybe she could pull this off.
“So the clouds have cleared.”
She glanced at Aurore as she sat down. The blonde continued, “You seem to be in a merrier mood.”
Marinette smiled. “Things improved. And you were right. It was just a hiccup.”
“Of course. Since you’re going to be my deskmate, it's time for you to know: I’m always right.”
Marinette raised a playful brow. “Always?”
“Always,” Aurore promised, smiling a smug grin. “So I recommend listening to me when the chance arises.”
Marinette chuckled. “Sure.” Since class hasn’t started yet, and Mendeleiev was caught up in herself, darkly grumbling threats about any more interruptions, Marinette pulled out her sketchbook, ready to start sketching out ideas.
She was just designing a small jacket when a hand slammed on her sketchbook, making her jump. Her sketchbook was slid over to Aurore, eyes locked on the clothes designs Marinette had scattered over the page.
“I’m into fashion design,” Marinette slowly offered, unsure how to take Aurore’s gape. She jumped when Aurore turned to her, eyes shining.
“Are you in need of a model?” Aurore asked.
“I will model for you,” Aurore decided, grinning. “Some of these outfits look good, and will help me win as weather girl. And you’ll get good publicity.”
“Of course. I’m just that good.” She slid the sketchbook back to Marinette. “It was very fortuitous for you to decide to sit here, Marinette. I foresee bright skies ahead for us both.”
Marinette stared at Aurore, taking in that beaming, confident smile. She grinned herself, chuckling. “The brighter days are here.”
Only when school was over, those brighter days turned grey and dark. Marinette slowed as she headed to the entryway, see it storm outside. She leaned forward, wincing when she saw a flash of lighting streak through the sky, making her lean back in. She made a face, well aware of how close home was.
She sighed, hoping it’ll pass soon.
She blinked as someone came up beside her, a blond boy that was a head taller, opening up his black umbrella. He spared her a glance, offered an apologetic smile, and hurried, leaving Marinette behind to silently judge him.
Before she can get to foul, a soft yellow came over her, a gentle sun covering her from the storm. Blinking in surprise, Marinette turned, seeing Aurore smile as she came up beside her. “Where do you live?” Aurore asked.
It's become a game of cat and mouse at school. With Marinette no longer in Chloe’s class, Chloe needed to actually work to try and get to her. Not that Marinette has made it easy. And, fortunately for Marinette, circumstances didn’t make it easy for Chloe either.
If Chloe was waiting for her in front of the school entryway, Ladybug would drop onto the second floor, and Marinette would head downstairs, past Chloe to Mendeleiev’s class. And the blonde was none the wiser, waiting till it was time for class to start and arrived late.
Chloe would wait for her to pass during lunch, Marinette either went over her to get home as Ladybug or brought her lunch to school hanging out on the second floor, watching Chloe as she would gradually fume till she gave up and went to have her own lunch. Sometimes it made for a rather inventful lunch.
Only place Marinette was having a hard time avoiding Chloe was the locker room. Chloe was able to time things well and Marinette had a hard time escaping, no easy way to grab her stuff and go.
It often left with her being a few minutes late, hurrying to gather up her things that were slapped to the ground, or taking a few minutes to ground herself from any hurtful words Chloe breathed out.
Despite this, it wasn’t enough to bring Marinette down. She still got to go to class with no Chloe to torment her. She could talk designs with Aurore who was eager to offer ideas for outfits (though most of them were for her, and all weather themed). Mendeleiev was strict and intimidating, but she kept the class focused and diligent, any who didn’t drew in her ire, making it a good motivator to stay on top of work or drop out.
Actually, Marinette found that she was getting ahead academically. They were farther along in their studies than she was in any of Bustier’s class.
As scary as Mendeleiev could be, she took her job as teacher seriously.
And the day Chloe tried to follow her into class to torment her, she became Marinette’s favorite teacher.
Aurore and Mireille were out for the contest, getting interviewed today, leaving Marinette to have the desk to herself. In this moment, minutes before class started, Chloe prowled in like she owned the room. Ignoring the odd stares she got, Chloe zeroed in on Marinette, heading her way.
Marinette tensed at Chloe’s approach, unconsciously sinking into her seat as the blonde came to loom over her.
“I bet you think this is great, being in a different class than me.”
“Ye-yeah, it actually has been great,” Marinette replied shakily. “Why are you even here?”
Chloe smiled, vile and cruel. “To remind you that you can’t escape me. Doesn’t matter if you’re here, I’m still going to get you, so don’t get too comfort—”
“What are you doing here?”
Chloe stiffened at the cold growl that came behind her. She turned to see Mendeleiev standing over her, glaring down at her. Before Chloe could speak, Mendeleiev stated, “You’re not in this class.”
Chloe scoffed at her. “Do you know who I am?” she demanded.
Mendeleiev leaned down, eyes narrowing. “Do you know who I am?” Chloe opened her mouth to respond but Mendeleiev continued, “I am the meanest teacher in this school, and if I find you disrupting my class again, I’m going to see to it that you get suspended. Now, out!”
When Chloe just gaped at her for a minute, Mendeleiev snapped, “Out!”
That was the fastest Chloe ever scampered in her life to get out of the classroom, missing how Marinette slack jaw grew into a smile. As Mendeleiev went to the front to get class going, it was another day of giddiness for Marinette.
So it was just a game of cat and mouse these days, avoiding Chloe, focusing on homework, and facing any akumas Hawk Moth made.
A little busy for this year, but already it was way better than before.
“You’re smiling more often,” her Maman said one day, her voice warm and happy.
“I’m happier,” Marinette said. “Designing more, staying on class, no Chloe.”
Feeling affectionate, Sabine came over, rubbing her finger against Marinette’s cheek, sharing a smile with her. Marinette continued, “Aurore’s going to be coming over sometime this week, excited to try on the outfits I made. She said she wants to wear it for the upcoming—”
There was a clatter behind her and a muffled struggle. Marinette whipped around, sucking in a scared breathe to see her mother in a bubble, reaching for her as it floated right out of the room. “Maman!” she cried, quick to follow, barely touching the bubble as it floated up into the sky, with many other bubbles with adults in them.
“Tikki! Spots on!” she shouted, already moving to jump over the railing, the suit covering her as she threw her yo-yo out, flying high as she tried to get the floating bubbles. Only they were out of reach, and shit hit the roof hard, looking up in horror.
“This is not good,” she murmured, looking around, mind scrambling as she tried to think of where or what the akuma could be. She didn’t have to wait long when smaller bubbles floated about, the akuma’s appearing in their reflection, announcing the location of a party, listing off names of who he expected to be there, or else.
And some of those names she recognized.
Resolute to save her parents and the other adults, she flew off, heading for the Agreste mansion.
She heard the music before she arrived, landing on a looming high roof, looking into the courtyard to see Bustier’s class standing around, swaying slowly, their expressions scared and unnerved as they spared a glance at the akuma that watched them, his hands hanging around his wand threateningly.
In the middle of the crowd, dancing merrily and oblivious to his classmates discomfort was the Adrien Agreste, the one the akuma threw the party for. Ladybug made a slight unimpressed face, then glanced around, taking in what was before her, trying to form the best plan.
She wasn’t able to get too far.
She tensed, looking to see Alya pointing at her, the biggest smile on her lips. At her shout, everyone went still, looking up towards her, their dour expressions replaced by hopeful smiles and cheers.
“Thanks, Alya,” Ladybug muttered, quickly looking at the akuma, seeing the bubble coming her way just in time. She dropped down, rolling out of the way as it zipped by, standing tall as she held tight to her yo-yo.
“Hate to burst your bubble, Bubbler,” she called out, grinning as he scowled, “but this party is over!”
“This party is just getting started!” Bubbler shouted back, jumping high as he joined her on that roof, trying to trap her in a bubble or hit her with his wand. Focused on each other and everyone focused on them, none noticed the blond as he hurried inside the mansion.
In the hustle, one bubble came too close before it was popped by a gleaming baton, Chat dropping by her side, grinning. “Starting this party without me?” he asked playfully, mock pouting.
She grinned back, reassuring, “No, you’re crashing it at just the right time.”
Together, they charged at Bubbler, seeing this fight through. In fifteen minutes time, they parted ways, Marinette rushing back to find her parents home safe and sound.
Whenever Aurore walked into a room, she moved like she owned it. Her shoulders were set, her head was high, eyes bright, and smile proud. Or smug as some would call it, it bordered Chloe’s own grin very closely. Unlike Chloe, when she slipped into the bakery, she didn’t eye it like it like it was beneath her, though she did eye it with slight trepidation.
Coming to Marinette’s side, she declared, “This place is full of temptation, I hope you know that.”
Marinette grinned playful. “When you grow up in a bakery, such temptations you build a resistance to.”
“Fortune for you.”
“Come on, let's get you away from these temptations.”
“Yes, I’m in need of those clothes soon, you know.”
“When is this over?” Marinette asked as they slipped up the blue stairwell, heading for her room.
“One more week, and then my win is secured,” Aurore said, grinning confidently.
“And it's you and Mireille? She’s in our class, right?”
“Yes, I share class with my competition. Luckily, she sits behind me so it's easier to ignore her existence. She’s a very faint breeze. Barely noticeable.” Aurore came up to stand happily in Marinette’s room, looking certain. “There’s no way a breeze like her will be able to stand against the brewing storm that I am.”
Before Marinette could respond, Aurore’s eyes landed on the few magazines Marinette had on her desk, the cover of one catching her eyes. She hurried to it, picking it up excitedly as she asked, “You’re a fan of Adrien?”
Marinette paused. “Who?”
Aurore gaped at her. She showed Marinette the magazine cover, tapping it. “This boy on the cover. Adrien Agreste. Often called the Radiant Butterfly , proud prodigy of the Gabriel Agreste.”
Marinette stared at the cover, taking in the coy smile and the playful green eyes of the model as he posed for the picture. He looked familiar… it clicked in Marinette’s head that was the one Bubbler was throwing a party for.
“Ah, I don’t really pay attention to the models,” Marinette said, “more the fashion they wear.”
She ignored the wild look Aurore sent her, and the blonde shook it off, smiling at the cover. “Did you know he now attends our school?”
“He’s in one of the second floor classes. I have yet to really see him but hopefully soon. Maybe we’ll even go on a date!” Aurore giggled at that, twirling her parasol playfully. “We’d be quite the pair together,” Aurore continued as Marinette finished getting everything ready. “The public would be awed by our beauty.”
“And you’d have pretty blonde babies together.”
“We would.” Aurore accepted the jacket from Marinette, sliding it on. When Marinette turned back around, camera ready, she paused, blinking to see Aurore already in a pose and ready to go. “Fire away,” Aurore said, “I was born to be on camera.”
The soft chirps of the camera filled the room as Marinette took pictures, mindful of lighting and angles, Aurore deciding each and every best pose for the outfit and herself.
It was a productive day, one a lot more fun than Marinette had anticipated.
In today’s match of cat and mouse, the mouse lost the game today.
Chloe had hidden herself away, catching Marinette as she walked right through the entry gate, shoving her from behind and pushing her to the ground.
“Quite the entrance as always, Marinette!” Chloe mocked with a laugh as Marinette sighed from where she was on the ground, grimacing at the laugh. Nearby, Alya paused from where she stood bye Nino, looking like, for a moment, she might move to help Marinette out.
“Well, its to be expected when she comes across a natural disaster like yourself.”
Chloe stiffened at the comment, and Marinette sat up, looking behind her to see Aurore standing at the entrance, giving Chloe an unimpressed stare. Chloe sized her up, looking up and down, equally unimpressed. “Who are you?” Chloe wondered in a sneering tone.
“Aurore Beaureal,” Aurore introduced with her own smug grin. “The future weather girl of KIDZ+, a true, upcoming star.” She drew near, twirling her umbrella from where it rested on her shoulder, coming to stand toe to toe with Chloe. “Someone who will end up far above a mess like you.”
“Big words when you’re addressing the Mayor’s daughter, the Princess of Paris.”
Aurore scoffed back. “I can say the same. You think that’s enough to make you known? Please, at least I don’t need to ride off my parents’ own success to be known. You are a small puff of cloud next to the splendor that is I.”
A furious look crossed Chloe’s expression but before she could respond, Aurore came around, holding out her hand outstretched for Marinette. “Come on,” Aurore bid, “no need to sit on the ground like that.”
Gaping, Marinette let Aurore pull her up, listening as Aurore continued, “As my designer you’re going to need to start standing up for yourself more. I can’t have you looking like a mess next to me, together, we’re going to be a perfect storm.”
“Um, I-I don’t know if I’ll be a perfect storm,” Marinette stumbled out, blinking as Aurore turned to her, beaming confidently.
“Now that you’re with me, you will be. It is in our forecast. Together, no one will be able to withstand us. Got it?”
Marinette smiled, a warmth settling on her. “Got it.”
It was slow going learning about her other classmates. Majority of them have yet to really reach out to talk with her, and her them. She could list off a few, and was able to recognize them.
She knew Mireille, who seemed nice the few times Marinette has talked to her, though the girl was always quick to sink back into her shell, and her circle of friends that kept with her. Of those friends, the only name she knew was Weyham Greenwood, easily the loudest and the only one to eagerly approach her and offer an introduction. His boyfriend, she wasn’t sure if he counted in the group, but she has seen him there a few times.
There was the dead eyed redhead girl that sat in the back and seemed to stare at nothing and yet, everything (she unnerved Marinette); it even seemed like that, sometimes, she wasn't there, making Marinette wonder if she was a part of this class.
There was a quiet kid who sat in the back, wearing a red hoodie.
Any others often came and went, unable to handle Mendeleiev and her strict schedule.
And then, there was Jean Duparc, or, a natural disaster, as Aurore called him.
Debatively, Mendeleiev’s least favorite student, often making quite a name for himself. He certainly gave Marinette quite the impression on their first meeting.
Mendeleiev was gone for a meeting, trusting her class to do their work. Aurore and Marinette just came back from the library, any books they needed clasped securely in their hands. They just sat down, Marinette opening her bag to grab a pen, when cards exploded out of her bag, nearly scaring her enough to fall out of her seat.
There was an immediate laugh full the room, followed by Aurore’s ire.
Marinette looked over, seeing a boy with soft, slightly wavy brown hair curled up in himself, grinning like a cat that got into the cream. “Sorry, sorry,” he said between his chuckles, “it was just too perfect…” He trailed off as Aurore stood, a burning fire in her eyes, parasol ready.
“Sorry!” he hurried out, leaping out of his seat to run, and with a growl, Aurore stalked after him, ready to kill.
Behind them, Marinette just stayed in her seat, trying to calm her frantic heart.
In minutes, Aurore plopped back in her seat, looking irritated. Glancing back, she saw Jean drop into his, rubbing his head with a wince. Shooting him a glare, Aurore nudged Marinette over, starting to angrily gathering up the cards. She told Marinette, “He’s not getting them back.”
Marinette glanced back at Jean, catching his honey eyes, seeing a smile offered her way and a sheepish wave. Mendeleiev came back before she could respond and all snapped to attention, less they brought on her ire.
Marinette was walking down the hall alone, when Jean was suddenly at her side, making her jump. The Cheshire smile he had just grew, honey eyes gleaming in amusement. “Is this going to be a thing?” she wondered, waving her hand around wildly. “You surprising me?”
“Sorry,” he offered, “I’m just really full of surprises.” To elaborate, with a twirl of his hand, a flower appeared, offered to it.
Marinette stared at it, not accepting it immediately. She glanced at Jean, asking, “It's not going to shoot water in my face… is it?”
“No,” Jean reassured, pushing the flower into her hand. “Aurore broke it. And my second one. If I don’t have it, I don’t walk around school with a wet shirt. As saddening as it is, it's worth not having.”
“Thank goodness,” Marinette said, twirling the fake flower, eyes brightening with intrigue as she eyed it.
Jean cleared his throat. “Anyway, I wanted to apologize. That trick was a little bigger than I had anticipated. And I bet I lost that deck of cards to Aurore.”
“So, I am sorry. It wasn’t my intention to scare you like that. It was just meant for, well, a laugh.”
“It’s ok,” Marinette reassured. “No harm done. Can I keep the flower?”
She slid the flower into her back, eager to design a hat to attach it to. Then she held out her hand, grinning. “Marinette Dupain-Cheng.”
“Jean Duparc,” he returned, eagerly taking her hand. “Or, according to Aurore, a true tempest in a teacup. Which I’m sure is also meant to be a jab cause I’m short. But I take the term with pride. Aurore has deemed me a tempest.” He set his hands on his hips, looking proud.
“...I think that means more of you irritating her, than actually describing you.”
“Shhh,” Jean shushed. “Just let me enjoy it.”
Marinette chuckled. “Do you know that you’re a real wild card, Jean?”
“Yes, and I am proud of it.”
It appears to be becoming a theme that Marinette is the last to learn of akumas. She was home doing her homework, listening to Jagged Stone when it was cut short with an unnerving hiss. Both Marinette and Tikki looked up just in time to see the screen change, seeing what had to be Alya as an akuma grinning at the camera.
“Hello, Paris. I’m your host on this lovely evening, Lady Wifi.”
The camera zoomed out, showing what was clearly Chloe dressed up as Ladybug. “I’m here to present to you the true identity of the Ladybug.”
“What?” Marinette mumbled.
The mask was peeled away, Lady Wifi declaring proudly, “Chloe Bourgeois!”
Tikki stared. Then glanced at Marinette, concerned when she wasn’t jumping up to go face the akuma. “Marinette?” Tikki asked.
“What the hell?”
“Chloe? She thinks Chloe Bourgeois is Ladybug ?!”
“Marinette, there’s more important things than—”
Marinette rounded on Tikki, continuing, “How can she think Chloe is Ladybug ?! This girl is crazy, Tikki, crazy !”
“And she’s got someone captive right now, and is endangering her cause Hawk Moth will think that she really is Ladybug,” Tikki pointed out, trying to get her holder going.
Marinette got it, standing up and heading for her balcony. “Come on, we can’t let Paris think Chloe is Ladybug. That’s just… too insane. I still don’t know how to process that!”
Tikki sighed behind her, following her holder onto the balcony.
Marinette could not escape last night.
Aurore was having a hoot. “Can you believe that girl thought the Chloe Bourgeois , the most spoiled and entitled brat in Paris, was Ladybug?” Aurore laughed. “That girl’s head is full of fog. She can’t tell true heroes apart from awful people.”
“Don’t remind me,” Marinette mumbled, slouching on the table, pouting. “That was just… crazy. Cause, really? Chloe? Of all people, its Chloe she thinks is Ladybug. All because she saw her in a costume.”
Aurore leaned in close. “From what I heard, it was because she caught Chloe secretly cosplaying as Ladybug.”
Marinette rolled her eyes. As exaggerating as this was, it gave her some comfort that Alya was crazy impulsive, and was never going to figure out she was Ladybug.
“You know, she didn’t even pull off the Ladybug look well,” Jean said, pulling up a chair and joining their table, grinning at the glare Aurore shot him. “She was blonde and still had a ponytail, Ladybug clearly has black hair and pigtails.”
Marinette stiffened when Jean’s eyes flickered to her.
Luckily, Aurore cut in, growling. “Why are you here?”
“Because I cannot bare to Duparc to my seat yet.”
Marinette snorted while Aurore fumed. She watched the banter between them, laughing as it got more wild, with Jean treading on dangerous waters. This really was turning out to be one of the better school years.
Ladybug stiffened, looking over to see Alya forcing her way through the crowd, heading for her. Ladybug quickly turned, trying to get out of the crowd and escape. Alya pursued, determined.
“Ladybug!” she called out again. “If you’re not Chloe Bourgeois, who are you?”
“That’s classified,” she called back, turning for a split second to shoot her a look before trying to continue her way.
“Most American heroes are fine sharing their identities!”
“I’m French, not American.”
Breaking through the crowd, Ladybug sped away, not relaxing till she was safely on a roof. Chat dropped down behind her, noting aloud, “You really don’t like that Alya girl.”
“She’s crazy,” Ladybug said. “She wants to find out our identities, which we covered last night why that’s important.” She gave Chat a pointed look, watching him purse his lips in response. “And she thought I could be Chloe Bourgeois.”
She made a face, insulted at the idea.
Chat tilted his head. “What’s wrong with thinking Chloe Bourgeois as a hero?”
“She’s mean, spoiled, entitled, and hurts people’s feelings for fun. I don’t want to be associated with that. And it's crazy to think that girl thinks ok to put that up on her blog as a possible identity of Ladybug. Its crazy she wants to find and reveal our identities when there’s a villain out there who wants to find them too.”
Chat hummed absently in agreement, thinking over what Ladybug said. With a grin, he asked, “So, I take it you know Chloe well?”
Ladybug stiffened for a moment, then shot Chat a look.
“Just wondering,” he waved off. “Luckily that Alya girl won't ever know.”
“Luckily,” Ladybug agreed.
Marinette’s tongue stuck out in concentration, eyes locked on the sheet in front of her. The pencil glided along the page, shaping the body of her sketch. On her head, Tikki sat quietly, watching Marinette draw, enjoying the free Saturday they had.
Both of them had a start when there was a knock behind them. Tikki hid away as Marinette turned to her trapdoor, brow raised. “Hello?” she called out.
The trapdoor opened slowly, a freckled redhead peeking in. “Hello,” came the soft return, a tall, muscular girl coming into the room, looking awkward. “We haven't officially met yet, but I'm one of your classmates! Ondine! Ondine Bubbles. It's nice to meet you!” The girl offered her hand, smiling shyly.
“Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” she returned, shaking hands. “Was there something you needed?”
“Yes! Um, Kim and Alix from Bustier’s class are going to race and I uh, promised to bring a banner, and Kim mentioned you were the go to girl from any sort of designs?”
Marinette’s beam was all the confirmation Ondine needed. Marinette waved to her chaise, prompting, “Have a seat! We'll talk details.” As Ondine sat, Marinette started to ask, “So, any ideas for a banner? Is there a theme? This being Kim, he’ll want something red and kinda crazy looking. And being a race, something bright and eye catching and exciting and… is there anything you know about Alix? I’d like to incorporate something for her too.”
She turned, seeing Ondine’s wide eyed stare on her. At Marinette’s concerned blink, Ondine whispered, “Woah. That has so much thought and so much detail.”
Marinette chuckled sheepishly. “Well, it helps to be organized when figuring out what your commission is, the details to incorporate, what to consider…”
“It's so admirable,” Ondine praised, making Marinette blush a little.
She cleared her throat, turning to Ondine, back to business. “So, do you possibly know Alix so I can consider her for this banner too?”
Aurore thought she was crazy and was making it annoyingly clear.
“That’s where hurricanes are brewed to perfection, ready to lash out at any fool that comes close,” she said, walking a few steps behind Marinette, arms crossed as she glared at the back of Marinette’s head. “And Hurricane Chloe will swallow you whole.” Aurore stopped at the first step, calling out, “I’m not going to do anything to pull you out of that storm!”
Marinette paused, turning to give Aurore a pout. “It’ll just be a few minutes!”
“That’s what a lot of storm chasers say!”
With a shake of her head, Marinette hurried up, ignoring Aurore’s grumble below her, heading inside the classroom. As Aurore anticipated, Chloe was quick to look her way, blue eyes locked on Marinette. Marinette quickly looked away, looking for Alix.
She saw her next to Mylene, right behind where Chloe sat.
Of course. Of course that’s where this Alix sits.
With a tight smile, well aware of Chloe and Sabrina’s eyes on her, Marinette came up to Mylene and Alix’s desk, their eyes on her, curious, though Alix looked more guarded. “Hi,” Marinette greeted, now very aware of everyone staring at her.
“Hi, Marinette!” Kim whispered shouted behind their desk, waving his hand wildly.
“Hi, Kim!” she returned, turing back to Alix. “I’m making a banner for the race between you and Kim.”
Alix perked, blue eyes brightening. “A banner?”
“Yep! And I wanted to know if there were any design themes you wanted for it.”
“Hey, what about me?!”
“I’ll get to you in a few minutes, Kim.”
Alix sat up, grinning. “Yeah, I’d love to have a banner made for the race.”
Marinette saw Chloe moving in the corner of her eye and requested, “Can we talk outside in the hall?”
“I’ll join too!” Kim insisted. “It’s part of my banner too!”
Marinette stepped back as Alix and Kim both raced out of the room, shoving each other in their rush to get out first. With an awkward smile to the class, she quickly followed, happy to get away from all the eyes in the room. As Aurore impatiently waited below, Marinette got the details, her banner planned out, and parted with a wave, promising it’ll be ready the day of the race.
Heading back to Mendeleiev’s class, Marinette gave Ondine a thumbs up when she saw her. The banner was set to be made.
Tikki could not stop staring at her, her dark blue eyes big and bright, full of marvel at what Marinette created. “It looks amazing, Marinette!” the kwami praised, darting to sit on Marinette’s shoulder, beaming as Marinette took a picture, sending it to Aurore. “They’re going to love it!”
“I hope so,” Marinette said. Ondine was going to be here soon to pick it up and take it to the race.
Marinette considered going since it sounded like fun, but learning that Chloe was going to be there, it sounded less fun.
“I hope I captured the energy of the event,” she continued,
“You did,” Tikki reassured, turning when she heard a bound of feet, and darted off to hide.
Ondine slipped into smiling brightly as she saw Marinette, then looked behind her, gasping to see the banner, stretched out in its crimson glory. “Woah,” she whispered.
“Glad you like it,” Marinette said, rolling up the banner and handing it to Ondine. “Let me know who wins.”
“Probably Alix,” Ondine said, giggling. With a goodbye, the redhead was off to join a race and Marinette was on her own, awaiting Nadja to come by in an hour. Aurore was off for another interview for the final of her race and wasn’t going to be free anytime soon, so Marinette settled with design a new shirt, a simple cute sun coming out behind the clouds.
She planned to wear it for Aurore’s big day.
As she worked, she let the news play, filling the room with white noise, till she heard the mention of an akuma. She paused, looking over her shoulder to eye her computer, seeing a green figure racing around in front of the Eiffel Tower, cackling as they touched people, leaving them frozen and starting to fade.
Tikki floated near, big eyed. “That doesn’t look good.”
“Isn’t that where the race is being held?” Marinette asked slowly.
If that’s Alix, did she become an akuma because she actually lost?
“Let’s hurry,” Tikki urged.
“Right,” Marinette agreed, getting up and hurrying to her balcony. She made a mental note to wrap this up and return as quickly as possible, just to be ready for Nadja when she came by.
When Ladybug arrived on the scene, pretty much all of Bustier’s class was frozen, and fading. She slowed to a stop, frowning as she gazed up at a transparent Kim, taking in his scared expression. Looking behind him, she could see Ondine, frozen in place, her eyes big as she reached for him. Around her were scattered classmates, all moving to escape, all wearing terrified expressions.
It was an unnerving scene to come upon.
She took a step forward, pausing when there was a soft chink under her foot. She looked down, seeing what looked like a broken watch under her foot.
“So you’re the culprit,” she murmured, not noticing the akuma racing her way, heading for her. She did notice the arms wrapping around her, scooping her up and carrying her away, just in time to avoid the akuma as she reached for Ladybug.
She squeaked as they landed, finding herself dipped down, Chat grinning at her. “Hello, My Lady,” he greeted, “it’s a lovely day, to race your way into my heart.”
He grinned at the flat stare Ladybug gave him, letting her stand up and straighten. They both turned to face the akuma, seeing her race towards them. “The situation?” Ladybug asked as she fell into a crouch.
“Timebreaker, caused because Mylene dropped Alix’s watch and she ran over it. And, Chloe, may, have bumped into her.”
Ladybug raised a brow, wonder if it was a bump.
Timebreaker was almost upon them as Chat told her, “Don’t let her touch you.”
They scattered, escaping Timebreaker’s grasp, starting the game of cat and mouse…
There was a squeal as Ladybug dropped out of the portal, rolling to a stop. She sat up with a groan, barely hearing the clatter of Timebreaker falling down the stairwell, grimacing. She moved to get up, only to stiffen when she heard the warning beep of her earrings. She barely had time to make sure that no one was able to pay attention to her as she detransformed, grabbing Tikki as the kwami dropped like a rock.
Tikki blinked rapidly in her palms, looking up at Marinette, frazzled.
“You ok?” Marinette asked.
“Ye-yes. Where’s Timebre—” Tikki collapsed, making a face. Marinette winced, putting the tired kwami in her bag, standing up to look for the akuma. She was able to see the crowd below, Chloe moving to hound Mylene.
With a grimace, Marinette started to seek out Timebreaker, wondering where the akuma went. She didn’t get far in her search when there was a shout above.
She turned, seeing Ladybug drop down in front of her, giving her a critical look. “What’s going on? Tikki said she sensed herself...”
“Time traveling akuma,” Marinette quickly told her, “I’m you five minutes from the futur—”
Her cell went off, cutting into Marinette explanation. Tikki leaned out, holding onto Marinette ringing phone, looking tired. When Marinette took it, she slipped back in, returning to her cookie.
“Nadja,” both Ladybug and Marinette groaned, Marinette answering with a pout. “Hey, Nadja! This isn’t really the—”
“Where are you? I’m here in front of the bakery.”
Marinette blinked, starting to scowl. “You were scheduled an hour later,” Marinette pointed out.
“But I’m here now.”
‘Oh my god,’ Marinette mouthed to Ladybug, making her roll her eyes. Ladybug whispered, “Go give her the cake, I’ll handle this.”
“Give me a few minutes,” Marinette stressed as Nadja started to ramble off on the phone, disappointed in Marinette not being there or being responsible like expected. She ended the call with a slight scoff. “Don’t let the akuma touch you or Chat, you’ll start to fade from existence.”
“See you in a few!” Marinette tore off, leaving Ladybug to face the akuma till her return and Chat’s appearance. She narrowed her eyes as Chloe shoved Mylene, sending the watch into Alix’s path, the catalyst for Timebreaker, and saw the other Timebreaker slide in, release a cry of rage.
“Time to break this cycle,” she declared, wishing Chat was here to hear that as she dropped down to join the chaos.
“I’m surprised you’re not nervous,” Marinette said, hurrying around her room, tugging at her blazer, sparing fast glances at her mirror, debating it if worked with the light blue shirt she made, with the sun coming out behind a cloud. The black and blue wasn’t too bad but her pink purse…
“I was born for this role, trained for it,” Aurore declared easily, unbothered by Marinette scrambling around behind her. She sat on her chaise, staring out the window, awaiting her limo to arrive. She wanted to see Marinette before she was off for her big day. She had the utmost faith that Marinette would be there, but, knowing Alec and how impossible he can be, there was no certainty that she would see Marinette there, even if she was.
So she’ll get this moment while she had the chance.
“I love being in front of the camera,” Aurore continued. “Love having attention, love weather and talking about weather patterns, watching it change and letting people know what’s coming. I’m just, it's a natural role for me. And I’m eager to embrace it. Just as you’ll be a star fashion designer one day.”
Marinette grinned, coming back to the mirror, pleased with the black and gold purse she chose. Much better. Aurore joined her, doing one last check before she was off. While Aurore was focused on the mirror, Marinette opened up her purse, letting Tikki dart in.
“We really can’t go together?” Marinette asked.
“Sadly no, Sunshine. Its Mireille and I who need to arrive, greet the crowd. If I could bring a plus one I would, but it's meant to just be us. I will look for you in the crowd but, well, I’ll have faith that you’re there.”
“I will be,” Marinette promised. “Jean also said he would.”
Aurore made a face. “He doesn’t have to show.”
“He said he wanted to.”
“I am not waving at him.”
Before Marinette could reply, there was a honk outside. The two peeked outside, seeing a limo waiting for her outside the bakery.
“Good luck hug!” Marinette declared, giving the blonde a fast hug. “You’re going to ace it, Aurore!”
“The skies are looking clear in my future,” Aurore said confidently, returning Marinette’s hug. She parted and hurried down, calling out as she went, “See you at the party afterwards!”
Grabbing her phone and ready to follow after, she glanced down as Tikki popped out, seeing the kwami beam up at her. “So exciting today,” Tikki said. “Aurore’s going to be the weather girl!”
“I know! It's exciting!” Marinette agreed, heading down, giving her parents goodbyes. She came outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun. It was going to be a great day.
This had to be a mistake. Something wrong with the system. Someone, someone got this wrong! This, this travesty! This, this made no sense. How could it, why did…
These thoughts ran through Aurore’s mind as she stomped down the hall, a true tempest in her head, angry, festering, and violent. And there was no immediate outlet for her. She was angry, confused, hurt, disappointed, and felt so hollow.
How could this happen?
How could she lose? To Mireille ?
Mireille, who mumbled when she talked.
Mireille, who looked at her shoes instead of the camera.
Mireille, who didn’t have this passion for the job that Aurore did, who didn’t train as hard as Aurore did, who didn’t want this as much as Aurore did…
Breathing hard and fast, Aurore pushed the elevator button harder than needed, gripping her parasol tightly, impatiently waiting for the elevator to come, ready to just, sneak away, go somewhere to be alone so she can let it out. So she can shout and rage and cry and break, settle into the stillness of a post storm.
Unfortunately, Aurore didn’t have much of a chance to settle.
She heard the nearing footsteps before she knew who they were. She looked up, tensing to see a smug Chloe coming her way. “You don’t look so good, Aurore,” Chloe called out, “is the day not agree with you? Too hot? After you just got burned at the polls?”
“Chloe,” Aurore warned. “This is not a storm you want to poke.”
“Oh yes, you’re a big mighty storm. Oh, I’m so afraid,” Chloe mocked, missing a black butterfly the flew towards Aurore, settling on her parasol and the soft glow that was over Aurore’s face. She continued on, unaware of the danger she was in. “Unfortunately for you, your effort to win is in no comparison to the money I have. It was easy to buy votes for Mireille. Bet you’re not so high and mighty now.”
“You little witch.”
Chloe stilled at the change of tone in Aurore’s voice, looking up to see Aurore floating over her, an akuma, angry sparks coming off the umbrella she held. It was pointed at Chloe, making her back up, a fear settling on her.
“Brace yourself, little witch,” Aurore said with a mad smile. “The storm is here, and I, Stormy Weather, is here to command it!”
Marinette came to join the crowd a little too late, missing Aurore just by seconds. She came up beside Jean, asking, “How’s she looking?”
“Confident and proud,” Jean reassured. “And she didn’t wave at me, after all the love and support I tried to put into my wave!” he said dramatically, sagging with a sigh as he told Marinette regretfully, “I think she missed all that.”
“I’m sure she saw,” Marinette reassured, patting his shoulder. She leaned forward, eyeing the doors. “Are we going to be able to make it in?”
Jean made a discouraging noise, eyes the two men at the doors. “I think that guy, Alec? Being picky about who gets in.”
“Aurore’s going to have a fit.”
“You think she’ll hit him with her parasol?”
Marinette gave him a look, raising a brow. “You sound hopeful.”
Jean just grinned. “Just give it a few minutes, and our new weather girl will be out, brighter than the sun.”
Marinette wiggled excitedly next to him, leaning forward as she stared at the doors, waiting in anticipation. Only the guards at the door stood, turning to glance behind them, a little confused and concerned as minutes. Marinette’s smile fell. “Something’s wrong.” Turning to Jean, she asked, “Shouldn’t she be out by now?”
“I think so,” Jean said, frowning. “Usually she can’t wait to show off her win.”
Marinette frowned worriedly, eyeing those doors, not seeing either girl coming out yet. “I’m going to sneak in,” she told Jean, ignoring his call after her.
Tikki peeked out, blinking her dark eyes at Marinette. “You sure about this?”
“I can feel it in my gut, Tikki,” Marinette said. “Something’s wrong.”
Coming around the building, Marinette found a set of doors, unguarded and no one in sight in the hall. Trying the doors, she found them locked till Tikki phased through them, unlocking the doors for her. With a whisper of thanks, Marinette sought for the stage, searching for Aurore, stiffen when she heard screams and chaos.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Tikki whispered, leaning out of the purse.
“Nope,” Marinette agreed, starting to run that way, “not good at all.”
She faltered when she came across a frozen Chloe, and heard muffled shouts and a soft pounding sound. Coming to an elevator, she found Mireille stuck in the elevator, a wall of ice in front of her, staring at Marinette with scared eyes.
“It’s ok,” Marinette reassured loudly, watching Mireille press against the ice. “Just be patient, Ladybug and Chat Noir will be here soon to get you out.”
With one last smile, she left Mireille alone, running into the stage, relieved to see that it was almost empty, no one else frozen except for Alec. She stepped up on stage, searching for Aurore, stiffening when she heard a cackle of static behind her.
She turned, seeing Aurore floating behind her, a mad smile on her lips, dark eyes locked on her. “Aurore,” Marinette breathed, taking a step back as she stared up at the akuma.
“Marinette,” the akuma greeted, drifting around her. “Why so dreary, it's going to be my time to shine, you should be happy. Embracing.”
“Aurore this isn’t you—”
“Stormy Weather,” the akuma cut in, “and this is me. I am what I’m supposed to be! A weather girl!” The umbrella pointed at her, cackling. “You can either ride along this breeze, or be swept up by the storm.”
Marinette held up her hands, placating as she gazed upon Stormy Weather, frowning. She gazed around the room, mind darting about, trying to come up with the best solution on what to do. Stormy Weather floated in front of her, waiting her answer. Before Marinette could even think of anything to say, that umbrella lowered, Stormy letting out a low laugh.
“Sorry for the scare, sea breeze,” Stormy said fondly, patting Marinette’s head. “Of course you’ll ride the wave with me.” Aurore looked past her, listening to muffled cheers that were coming from outside. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a crowd to greet.”
She drifted around Marinette, heading outside to greet expected fans. With her focus elsewhere, Marinette turned to Tikki as the kwami darted out, looking determined.
“Let’s save Aurore,” Marinette said.
Aurore wasn’t immediately upset when the akuma was cleansed and everything restored. She was confused to find herself on a roof, Ladybug and Chat Noir fist bumping nearby. When her eyes settled on them, Ladybug was quick to come to her side, offering the blonde a reassuring smile.
“Hey, you doing ok?” Ladybug asked softly, offering her umbrella back.
Aurore took it slowly, coming to realize what happened. She looked up at Ladybug with big eyes, making the hero wince. As Ladybug moved to reassure her, Chat came up behind her, setting his claws on her shoulder, warning, “You’re about to detransform, My Lady.”
She huffed to herself, getting up and hurrying inside. She closed the door behind her and the transformation fell away quickly. She caught Tikki as she dropped down and gently let her fall into her purse. Not caring if it was suspicious for her to come out right after Ladybug, Marinette shoved that door open, crying out, “Aurore!”
Aurore turned to her, still wide eyed and shakened. Marinette didn’t hesitate rushing to her side, wrapping up the shocked blonde in a hug. Aurore leaned onto her, a tremor going through her.
“You’re ok,” Marinette whispered. “You’re ok.”
“I lost,” she whispered, Aurore’s voice bordering a shaky chuckle. “I actually lost.”
Marinette squeezed her a little tighter, letting Aurore hold her back tight, pressing her face into Marinette’s shoulder, mumbling out frustrated and confused words. As the two held each other, Chat left, leaving them be.
It seemed like hours that they sat there, holding each other before they drew away, Marinette helping Aurore to her feet, and pulling her along, all the way back home. Aurore wound up settled in her bed, Marinette joining her with a tray of cookies and tea for them both to share.
They spent the rest of their day in her bed, drinking tea and nibbling on cookies as they watched movies on her laptop. When they fell asleep, Tikki happily finished the rest of the cookies.
Marinette has come to notice that Aurore’s been more interested in her magazines, as of late. Since the weather girl competition, Marinette figured it a way to distract Aurore from the loss, and perhaps she was starting to move forward with it.
But it kept going, dreamy sighes and soft smiles. And at school, Marinette noticed how Aurore would slow down, and stop to peer down or across the way. The first few times, Marinette stopped with her, looking around, trying to spot what Aurore was looking at.
Only there was no one who stood out at her that would catch the eye of Aurore Beaureal. After a few days of wondering, Marinette caved, unable to guess who it was Aurore was interested in.
And when she got the answer, she wanted to slam her head onto her desk.
“Adrien Agreste,” Aurore sighed, leaning on her hand, peering out affectionately.
“I forgot he went to our school.”
“How could you forget the radiant sun that walks among us?”
Marinette shrugged. “I hardly see him. It's like he’s hardly ever there.”
“He still works as a model,” Aurore pointed out. “Which still baffles me that you didn’t know he was a model.”
“I don’t pay attention to the models,” Marinette huffed, puffing up her cheeks.
With a slight roll of her eyes, Aurore settled back on her hand, sighing contently. Marinette eyed her, brow raised. She asked, “So… you going to talk to him?”
“...Did you want some help?”
“So what’s the plan?” Jean asked as he invited himself over, plopping down in the seat he dragged over, his smile growing as Aurore bristled. “Aurore’s going to need all the help she can get.”
Aurore started to raise her parasol, Marinette gently pushed it back down. “One thing we can do is try to find him at school, start with a quick hi. Work our way up to conversations.”
“Oooh, you do that, you’ll get him hook, line, and stinker.”
Aurore glared at him. “Stinker?”
“I’ve overheard some people say he smells like cheese. But if you like cheese, that works for you.”
Aurore started to lift up her umbrella once more, only for Marinette to snatch it up and set it on the other side of her, away from Aurore. “I’m just going to keep this over here.”
Aurore huffed, crossing her arms and pouting in her seat. Her best friend somewhat appeased, Marinette persisted, deciding, “So that’s what we’ll start with, passing hellos and work our way up to talking.”
“Yeah! Team Stormy with a plan!” Jean declared, holding out his hand for a high five with Aurore, who just gave him the flattest stare he’s ever seen. “What? Too soon?”
Marinette leaned over, raising a brow at him. “Team Stormy?”
“Yeah, cause we’re super storms! I’m the natural disaster, Aurore is the perfect storm, and you’re the brainstorm…” He trailed off as Aurore’s glare got more and more heated the more he talked. With a chuckle, Jean drew away, deciding, “Ok, time for me to Duparc .”
After he left, Aurore turned to Marinette, insistent, “We are not accepting his help.”
Marinette doubted they really had a choice, but opted to not tell Aurore that.
So began project “Whoo Adrien” or “No RAgreste” as Jean insisted they call it. Like Marinette planned, they started out small. Every time they passed, Auore offered a quick greeting to him. They received a blink and a polite greeting back, before he turned away to go back to his friends.
While Marinette knew this would take time, for Aurore who liked to achieve her goals, this was taking too long.
“There has to be something we can do,” Aurore huffed, frustrated. “No matter what, we’re not leaving our mark. And it's driving me crazy.”
“I know,” Marinette eased as they walked down the sidewalk, trying to think of a way to speed up befriending Adrien. “But these things do take time.”
“But it's been a week!”
Marinette moved to give Aurore a comforting pat, only for them both to jump when Chat Noir dropped down in front of them, startling both girls. He straightened, offering them a smug smile. “Hello ladies,” the hero greeted. “I’m wondering if either of you have seen the elusive Ladybug? I’m in great need to see my partner.”
Another Chat Noir dropped down in front of them, giving that Chat an accusing finger point. “She’s my partner!”
The first Chat scowled as he turned to face the other, starting to argue with him. Aurore and Marinette looked between them, gaping.
What was going on?
Why were there two Chat Noirs?
Both looked up, seeing a car flying their way. The two Chats acted, both of them grabbing a girl and rushing them away. Behind them, there were two more Chats, arguing, with one angrily pointing out the other almost hit those poor girls.
That was the last Marinette heard as she was dropped off, alone, this Chat grinning at her proudly. “You’re safe now, Princess. I’ll accept your thank you kiss later,” he said with wink.
Marinette could only gape at him as Chat turned and tore off, Tikki slowly floating out of her purse, staring after him with Marinette. “What is going on?” Marinette wondered.
“I, I honestly don’t know,” Tikki said, equally confused with her holder.
Marinette transformed, quickly calling Chat, hoping the real Chat Noir will answer.
Luckily, he did, with a slight groan, rubbing his head as he squinted at the little screen. “Chat what’s going on?” Ladybug asked immediately.
“Well someone should’ve been at the ceremony today…”
Ladybug blinked in surprise. There was a ceremony? She echoed it, brow furrowing.
Chat made a face, biting out, “There ceremony for the completion of our statues, the mayor’s thank you to us.”
“I haven’t heard anything about that.”
“Well, his daughter has been talking about it all week.”
She didn’t want to know how he knew what Chloe was talking about. Instead, she huffed out, “Well, I never got an invite or heads up.”
“Well maybe if you embraced your hero status more and came out to greet the public—”
“We’re heroes not stars!” She took a breath, breathing out a huff. “Ok,” she murmured, focus on the now. This was not important. “Why are there so many of you?”
“Well, this akuma was upset that you didn’t show, and was clearly jealous of my dashing good looks and had to be a mirror image of me—”
“Since I couldn’t get ahold of you, I took matters into my own hands.”
“And you can’t cleanse…” And now there were hundreds of Chat Noirs running around. Oh boy.
“Meet at Notre Dame?”
“It’s a date!”
She was off, hoping they’ll be able to find the real akuma, and that she’ll think of a way to tell her true partner apart. This was going to be one of the most challenging akumas yet.
Marinette sighed as she plopped on her desk, still wore out from yesterday, trying to find one small piece of paper in the horde of Chat Noirs running around. They made it, and she apologized to Theo, and could now get back to focusing on Aurore.
Who was currently eyeing Marinette with concern. “If this is weathering you down too much, you don’t have to help me, I can pull this off,” Aurore told her.
“Oh no,” Marinette quickly reassured. “I want to help. Just a little wore out from yesterday. Too many Chats.”
“I’ll say. And I thought Jean was a natural disaster. That was a hurricane.”
“So I’m not the worst natural disaster!”
Aurore stiffened, turning to glare at Jean, only to blink at his white fencing attire. “What is this?” she asked.
“Well, I joined the fencing club! Guess who found out that Adrien fences.” Aurore went stiff and Jean continued, oblivious to the danger he was in. “Don’t you worry, I’ll make sure to build you up, now that I’m in closer quarters with him, sharing club activity—”
He paused, looking at Marinette, then looking over to Aurore.
He turned and ran, and Marinette was not fast enough to stop the blonde as she leapt up and chased after him. Marinette sighed, settling back on her desk, too wore out to try and stop them.
When Marinette had a goal on mind, she liked to tackle it having all the details and make a plan around it. Having a plan gave some semblance of control, shaped a path forward for her. And with this, she could succeed.
As of now, her goal was helping Aurore with her crush, and as much as Aurore didn’t like it, Jean has now become a valuable source of information for them to use. Fencing with Adrien was a big help.
Jean was friendly, and so was Adrien, and, surprisingly, he didn’t mind talking about his modeling schedule with Jean. And a favorite location. Particularly a park that was next to her bakery.
With the most common times and dates given to her, and a little concern about how easily Adrien was up to share that information, Marinette saw to it that Aurore would get her chance. The plans she made were full proof, or so she liked to think.
It’d be easy, hang around the park, enjoy their time together as a picnic, say hello to Adrien when he was free, and offer up the pastries they had with them. No one can resist pastries. With the power of pastries, Adrien eyes would be only on Aurore.
It was full proof.
But… Marinette didn’t factor in how dense Adrien was.
“Good day, Adrien Agreste! My friend had some extra macarons, way too much for me, would you like some?” Aurore asked, presenting a little try of macarons, all shaped out to form a heart.
“Oh, wow! Really?” Adrien asked, eyeing those macarons with bright eyes. “Are any of these passionfruit? Those are my favorite!”
“I have croissants today!” Aurore called out, presenting a pair of croissants, placed in a heart shape, on Tom Dupain’s favorite plate that had I loaf you written on, set right below the pastries.
Only Adrien blinked at her in alarm, raising a concerned brow at the blonde. “You loathe me?”
“Here!” Aurore huffed during their third attempt, shoving a little box into the model’s hands. “A cookie.”
Adrien cracked it open, gasping to see a frosted, heart shaped cookie inside, written on it was love. With a playful smile, Adrien told Aurore, “I love cookies too!”
It should’ve been full proof.
“For goodness bakes,” Marinette muttered, face flat against her desk, fighting against her strong will to headdesk. “What is up with that weirdough?!”
“Marinette, you’re doing bakery puns.”
“I’ve reached this point, Aurore! Doughnut stop me!”
Aurore sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Ok, I'll just ask him out.”
Marinette planted her face on her hands, groaning loudly. “He's going to find a way to misunderstand.”
“How can he misunderstand ‘Hey, Adrien, I like you, let's go out’?”
“He'll find a way.”
“We shall see! I'll go and ask! I am Aurore Beaureal! I am a fearless storm! And I'll be noticed!”
She was met with a weary look from Marinette. She huffed, heading off with a twirl of her parasol. “I'll prove you wrong, you doubter.” She was gone, leaving Marinette alone in her room, till Tikki took the chance to pop out.
“I'll think it's really admirable that you're helping Aurore get with Adrien,” Tikki praised with a secret smile.
One Marinette missed as she leaned on her hand with a sigh, pouting. “It'd be a lot more admirable if I was successful. How dense can he be?”
“Maybe Aurore is right, maybe you just need to be direct.”
She was cut off when Aurore came back into the room, Tikki barely hiding away in time. Marinette watched as Aurore came in, not sparing her a glance, and dropped on her chaise, making a face.
Tentatively, Marinette asked, “Did he…?”
“He did. ‘Oh! I like you too! You're a friend , though I have to admit, I never got your name. Hi, I'm Adrien.’” Aurore finished it with a slight sob, pulling a pillow over her face.
“...Did we really forget to introduce you?”
“Marinette, that’s not the problem!”
Marinette had her lips pursed as she walked along the sidewalk, eyes on her phone, scrolling through the new fabrics her favorite store just put in, showing off all they had. But she couldn’t decide what she wanted…
Marinette squeaked, stumbling back, cringing when her phone fell, hearing a little crack . Oh great. She looked up, blinking to see a wide eyed Adrien staring at her, looking panicked.
“Adrien—” she started to ask, but he cut in.
“Not today fan!” he cried out, darting around her and tearing off, missing her gape after him.
“Fan?” she repeated, a little offended that he would think of her like that. Sure, they never officially talked but he has seen her before with Aurore, never coming over to talk to him. That’s not a usual fan—
Marinette jumped when a crowd tore past her, a little wide eyed as she stared after them. Trailing behind them, her classmate Wayhem slowed down enough to give her a wave, shouting, “Hi Marinette!”
Then he sped up, joining the crowd.
Marinette stared after them, then uttered to herself, “Nope.” She picked up her phone, relieved to see it wasn’t a big crack, turned and continued on her way.
She found Aurore awaiting her at the cafe they were meeting at, starting off, “You are not going to believe—”
Paris shuddered as a big blue foot slammed on the street, right next to the cafe they were in, and walking off. Stiff with annoyance, her smile rigid and tight, Marinette finished, “That I need to use the bathroom.”
Aurore raised a brow. “You really need to go to the doctor about this. This is happening way too often.”
“I will, I will,” Marinette promised, hurrying away.
“You better!” Aurore shouted after her. “Or I’ll drag you there myself!”
After cleansing the giant gorilla themed akuma, Ladybug paused, eyes on Adrien in the helmet. Seeing a chance, she beamed, hurrying to his side, missing Chat’s curious look. “Adrien!” she called out excitedly, watching the boy tense up. “You were very brave and amazing today!” She praised. “My favorite weather girl has a bit of a crush on you, wouldn’t hurt to say hi occasionally.” Ladybug gave him a wink, and then tore away.
Chat peered after her thoughtfully, intrigued.
A weather girl… who did he know was a weather girl…
He sucked in a breathe. Could Mireille be Ladybug?
The next day at school, Adrien happily told a blushing Mireille hi, with Marinette and a very distraught Aurore nearby. That evening on patrol, he was a little concerned to see Ladybug in a sour mood.
“You ok, Marinette?”
Marinette looked up from where she was slouching at the library desk, seeing Ondine on the other side, brow raised in concern as she peered down at her. Marinette offered her a small smile, reassuring, “I’m ok, just…” She paused, thinking of her words carefully, before admitting, “Helping a friend try and confess to one of the densest guys I’ve ever met.”
Ondine sat across from her as Marinette dropped her head on the table top. “It's ridiculous.”
“I can relate,” Ondine said with a sigh, the tall girl joining Marinette in the wore out atmosphere. “I like the cutest, sweetest guy, and he can be so funny ; but he’s really dense. And he might like someone else…”
“You going to confess?” Marinette asked.
“Oh, no, no,” Ondine said. “Not yet… I haven’t gathered the courage for that…” Ondine looked at her lap, sighing. “Plus… he’s happy that we’re friends. Since he’s been talking about confessing…”
A hand rested on top of her own, looking up to see Marinette offering her a small smile. “If you need some comfort food and just, watch Disney movies all day, come on over.”
Ondine smiled. “Thank you, Little Sea. and, something you can try, maybe a letter?”
Marinette stared at her, eyes going big. “Ondine you’re a genius!” Marinette shouted jumping up and racing out of the library, missing the shush the librarian fired after her.
When she came to Aurore, it was a shared excitement.
“I can be as direct as I want to be in this letter,” Aurore said, pacing around, ponytails swishing about.
“And you can make it clear that it's a romantic like, not platonic,” Marinette added, pleased.
“And then he’ll notice this storm!” Aurore laughed in delight, clapping her hands happily.
“Now, it's a wonder if he’ll be able to handle the storm,” Jean called from above, grinning when Aurore’s sharp eyes went up to him. “I can confirm he doesn’t quite have much of a backbone.”
“I don’t remember asking you,” Aurore huffed. She grabbed Marinette’s hand, pulling her along. “Come on, let’s get this letter going.”
Ladybug was groaning loudly as she detransformed, Tikki blinking as she came to Marinette making gross faces. “What happened?” Tikki asked, concerned.
“I had to kiss Chat,” Marinette said. “It was…” she made a face. “But it broke the spell of hate, and he doesn’t remember. We won’t have to talk about it, ever.”
Tikki offered her a smile. “At least it worked out!”
“Thankfully. And Aurore’s letter got sent, we were clear, this shouldn’t mess up at all.”
A part of Marinette was scared that, somehow, Adrien was going to miss the message, but she wanted to be optimistic. Really, how can he missed ‘I have romantic interest in you, and would like to go out on romantic date sometime ;D’
There should be no way that Adrien Agreste messes up this message.
Only, he did. Adrien’s eyes widened as he read over the embellished letter that Plagg had dropped on his desk, he took in the words of admiration, the weather related terms weaved into this letter, and her clear interest in him. A weather loving girl that Ladybug supported and had wanted him to talk to, this girl, Aurore, this had to be her.
Aurore knew Ladybug.
Aurore was his key to Ladybug.
There was a knock on the door, and Ondine opened it curiously, sucking in a breath to see a down Kim in front of her, his eyes on the floor, bummed out. “Kim?” she asked, alarmed.
“Hey, ugh, it didn’t really work out today…” he admitted, shoulders sagging.
Ondine slipped outside, closing the door behind her. “Um, how about movies and pastries?”
Kim nodded and Ondine pulled out her phone. “Hey, Marinette, can I and a friend take up that offer?”
It all started with a “Hi!”
It gave Marinette and Aurore a start, looking up from where they sat on the bench, seeing Adrien leaning on the wall, smiling down at them both, looking between them, and the sketchbook in Aurore’s lap.
Aurore was quick to get over her surprise, smiling back at him flirtatiously. “Why hello, Adrien. What brings you by?”
“Oh, I just wanted to stop by, say hi.” He glanced at the sketchbook in her lap, immediately, “Oh! You joining the hat competition? We got a surprise guest for it.”
“Oh, it's not my sketchbook, its Marinette’s,” Aurore said, waving to her best friend.
Marinette leaned forward, interest perked. “Surprise guest?” she asked.
“Ah, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
Adrien received a dark look for that. Aurore cut in, laughing a little too loudly. She put Marinette’s sketchbook back in her grasp and stood, standing close to Adrien, watching him draw away a little. “I’m actually her model, but, with this competition, maybe we’ll end up modeling together?”
“Oh, that could be fun. I didn’t know you modeled.”
“Just a little. I have been reassured to be quite the model.”
Marinette was debating leaving so the two could be alone.
“Actually, I heard from Ladybug herself that you’re quite the weather girl, her favorite, actually.” Marinette tensed, looking over to see Adrien leaning a little past Aurore, eyeing Marinette. “Do you know Ladybug?”
“She said that?” Aurore asked, gasping happily. She shook her head, pigtails bouncing with the movement. “Sadly, no, I don’t. To my knowledge, we never talked. She must have been rooting for me during the competition.” Aurore smiled, delighted that Ladybug was a fan.
Adrien just nodded, curious eyes on Marinette, who gave him an awkward smile back. Before he could say anything else, she hopped up, loudly declaring, “Well, Aurore, I’m going to go to my favorite spot, and sketch. Figure out a design. I’ll catch you later?”
Marinette tore off, almost running right into Chloe and another blond boy. She tensed instinctively as their blue eyes locked on her and her charging form. With a mental “nope” and a strangled noise, Marinette twisted around them and tore off, missing how they stared after her. She was more relieved that she was able to avoid Chloe.
Though, it was weird not to see Sabrina with her.
And she doesn’t think she recognizes that boy… Marinette shook her head, dismissing the thought. It didn’t matter, she escaped, she was off to relax, plan, and draw.
Behind Marinette, the two blondes didn’t move, the Chloe look alike humming to herself. “Wow, that girl was in a rush. I almost thought she was about to flip over us.”
There was a disinterested hum beside her.
“Anyway, looks like it’ll be lively here! Have you decided on what class you want to be in? I’m going to be in Mendeleiev’s, Chloe’s in Bustier’s. No way am I sharing a class with her.”
“Undecided,” the boy beside her declared, looking over the information of the two classes that were presented to them. He was still unsure…
Marinette has performed a true miracle.
Not only did she design her first bowler hat, but she got over her artblock, witness actual progress between Adrien and Aurore, fought an akuma, and made it back in time to finish her hat and present it.
Aurore was there waiting for her, beaming as Marinette ran up to her side, setting her box on the pedestal.
“I’m ready to be wowed,” Aurore said, twirling her parasol.
“Ta da da!” Marinette sung, lifting the box and presenting her hat. Only to falter when Aurore’s smile fell. “What’s wrong?”
“That is what’s wrong,” Aurore said, nodding to where Chloe stood smugly, right next to an identical hat.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Marinette whispered.
“Should I do something?” Aurore asked. “It can end up, damaged.” Marinette narrowed her eyes, looking over Chloe’s design critically. Aurore blinked intrigue when Marinette’s lips curled up.
“I can handle it,” Marinette reassured, and added, making Aurore laugh, “luckily Chloe’s an idiot.”
A woman in a suit appeared, Adrien at her side, making Aurore fidget excitedly, waving at him. Both girls blinked as another woman followed, wearing an outfit of black and white and big shades on her eyes. Behind her was the Chloe look alike from before, making Marinette’s jaw go slack, looking between Chloe and the other.
“Why are there two of them?” Aurore wondered.
“I’m confused,” Marinette uttered, her gaze then settling on another blond boy that followed them, his blue eyes glancing her way.
“Greetings everyone,” the woman called out, drawing all eyes to her. “I am Audrey Bourgeois, the Style Queen.”
There were excited whispers around her, and Chloe rose up, waving to her, shouting, “Hi, Mommy! You’re winner is right here!”
Chloe was ignored.
“I am here to judge with the Gabriel Agreste for this hat competition, who my star model will model with,” she waved her hand to the boy next to her, his posture straight and certain, “Felix Agreste. I hope you all brought your best work, for he will only wear the best.”
The woman in the suit held up a tablet, with Gabriel’s face appearing, his bored eyes looking them all over. “Let’s begin.”
As they started to walk around the hats to judge them, Aurore leaned to Marinette’s side, asking, “Felix Agreste?”
“Maybe he’s a cousin?”
“I think so, Adrien doesn’t have any siblings.”
They became quiet as the group approached, their gaze critical and judging as they took in Marinette’s hat and the similarities to Chloe’s.
“Explain,” Gabriel prompted.
Chloe was quick to cut in, accusing, “Marinette stole my design! Disqualify her!”
“I actually didn't,” Marinette said, setting her shoulders back, standing tall. “This is my own creation. Chloe’s an amazing replica, but I can prove that this is mine and that she has stolen my work.”
“How?” Audrey asked, the blonde teens looking on with interest.
With a proud smile, Marinette lifted up her hat, moving it upside down as she revealed, “I sew my signature into my work, making it look like embroidery at first glance.”
Her name gleamed gold in the lighting, and everyone glanced at Chloe’s hat, catching her tensing up.
“Chlorine,” Audrey called.
“Let me see that hat.”
Chloe made a face and for a few seconds, didn't move. Then she brought the hat over, allowing her mother to turn it over, seeing Marinette’s name unknowingly stitched into the side of it.
“You are here by disqualified, and banned from entering future fashion competitions.”
As Chloe was told off in front of the gaping crowd, Marinette struggled to contain her smile. Next to her, Aurore didn’t even bother, her smile smug and big. It just pissed Chloe off more to see Aurore’s laughing eyes locked on her.
A voice was cleared and almost everyone turned to the tablet on the woman's hands, Gabriel gazing upon Marinette. “With your design and clever inclusion of signature, you are the winner, Miss…”
“Congratulations. My nephew Felix will be modeling with it.”
Felix stepped forward, taking the hat from her, eyeing her curiously. Aurore wondered aloud, “Not Adrien?”
“Felix was the surprise I mentioned,” Adrien explained, rubbing the back of his neck. “And Chloe’s mom and sister.”
“Who's still very sour with you,” Chloe’s sister spoke up, crossing her arms to give Adrien a dark look.
Adrien winced. “I said I was sorry, Amber.”
“I still can't believe you mistook me for Chloe.”
As Adrien half protested, half tried to reason with Chloe’s twin, Marinette took the chance to really look at this new girl, this Amber. While blonde and blue eyed like Chloe, there were differences to her, she wore her hair down in a low hanging ponytail, was a little more tanned, and had perked up bangs that jut out. And, unlike Chloe, wasn’t going out of her way of being mean.
Marinette then glanced at the quiet blond at her side. He hasn't moved since he accepted the hat, looking tired at the arguing group. His uncle was gone, and the woman leaving.
“So, Felix,” she prompted drawing his blue eyes to her. “Are you going to be attending Francois Dupont?”
“I will be.”
“Cool! We'll both be students here!” she said with a bright beam. She was given the smallest twitch in return, then he started fiddling with her hat.
Aurore leaned forward, asking, “Who's your teacher?”
“I'm considering Mendeleiev.”
Aurore grinned. “Marvelous. We'll be classmates then.”
Catching onto Aurore’s glee, Marinette chuckled. “I'll be looking forward to seeing you in class.”
Marinette was a little confused when the blond suddenly hurried away, grabbing Amber and pulling her away from Adrien. Aurore grimaced beside Marinette, declaring, “Rude.”
Marinette shrugged, turning to Adrien as he approached them, green eyes set on Marinette. “So, uh, congratulations!” Adrien grinned. “You’re quite a designer.”
“My work really comes alive thanks to my favorite model,” Marinette bragged, slinging at arm around Aurore, earning a warm smile.
Adrien laughed. “Maybe we will model together sometime, Aurore.”
Aurore blushed happily. “I would love that.”
Things technically took an optimistic turn, technically. Adrien was going out of his way to come hang out with them, but Marinette began to notice that his attention wasn’t on Aurore as often as it should be. Like he was more focused on her .
This was not part of Marinette's plan, how dare Adrien not get this hinted memo. Aurore was who he was supposed to give attention to, not Marinette who wasn’t interested at all. Sure, he was cute, but cute don’t cut it. Not when her best friend was crushing hard on him.
Why was he always making this so hard?
Marinette pouted down at her sketchbook, her cheek smeared up as she stared down at the sheet over paper before her. There were some half hearted sketches on it, but nothing that really grabbed her. It was with an angry hum that she started to tap her pencil against the page, like that could get her creative juices flowing.
Not that her creativity was compliant. It never was when she needed it to be.
“Oooh, those are cute!”
Marinette looked over her shoulder, having an instinctive start when she saw Chloe hanging over her, only, with a second look, she realized this wasn’t Chloe. Chloe kept her bangs down, not sprung up like that, nor was she wearing the signature yellow that Chloe took pride in, instead there was a indigo vest, light blue jeans, and a white shirt under the vest.
Blue eyes turned to her, eye her expectantly.
Marinette shuffled away, turning to the girl awkwardly, asking, “You’re… Amber, right?”
“That’s right! Amber Bourgeois! I don’t think truly introduced ourselves.” She offered a hand. “Congratulations on winning the hat competition.”
"It was a very cute hat that you made. For the petals, did you make extra strips to be the feathers on the hat?”
“Yeah, I took the thinnest velvet and did little cuts for each one. Are tough into fashion?”
Amber chuckled. “Audrey Bourgeois’ daughter, it's a given that I'd get into fashion. I actually made a lot of my wardrobe.”
“So have I!” Marinette exclaimed. “Could never find anything I liked so it just—”
“Easier to make them,” she and Amber said at the same time, both of them grinning in amusement, till Amber’s smile fell away. She cleared her throat and straightened.
“Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you on your win, I'll need looking forward to facing you in future fashion competitions.” Amber held put her hand. “May the best designer win.”
Marinette blinked at her, surprised. With a slight smile, she shook on it. An actual rival designer from the Bourgeois family, how wild, Marinette thought, looking over Amber’s outfit, noting the design and detail. And unlike Chloe, this girl can actually design. Marinette grinned, a competitive spark shooting through her. She was looking forward to this.
“So,” Adrien called out as he came to sit with the girls. “You guys going to be joining the gaming competition?”
“Game?” Marinette echoed, interest piqued. Behind the smiling Adrien, she could see Chloe angrily chewing on a magazine, Sabrina looking unsure behind her.
Adrien nodded. “I learned from my bud Nino that it's going to be held in our library this Saturday to decide who's going you compete.”
“What an odd place to have it,” Aurore said aloud.
“Yeah, a little… but you guys going to come and cheer me on?”
“Actually I think I'll enter,” Marinette said.
“Really?” Adrien asked, surprised. “That means we may end up facing each other.”
“Then get ready to have your butt handed to you.”
Adrien grinned, a playful glint in his green eyes. Adrien rose up, declaring, “I'll be looking forward to it then.” He abruptly cut himself off, clearing his throat. “I'll see you Saturday.”
He departed with a wave, Aurore waving after him. “Well, that'd be a little awkward if you wound up facing him,” Aurore started off. Marinette pursed her lips, but Aurore continued before Marinette could speak. “But we have our pride as girls. If you come to face him, don't hold back. I expect full on savagery.”
Marinette laughed, “I wouldn’t do it any other way, Aurore.”
“Good. Be vicious, sea breeze.”
It was a quiet Friday afternoon as Marinette slipped into the library, wanting to see them setting up the system, and what game it could be. Adrien has been playfully vague, trying to keep a leg over her, but Marinette was not so easily put down. She left a little earlier, letting Aurore have a chance to meet up with Adrien alone, and Marinette got to learn what she could.
Racing games weren't quite her forte. Horror games were a no show, especially if they were graphic with a lot of suffering… nope, Marinette rather skip out on that. And puzzle games, of it was puzzle games she was so going to ace it.
Marinette narrowed her eyes, leaning forward when she saw a game in the headmaster’s hands. Is that…
“You’re going to fall.”
Surprised, she almost did fall over the railing till a hand grabbed her blazer and pulled her back. She looked up, surprised to see Felix Agreste standing behind her, giving her a dry look. She flashed him a sheepish smile. “Thanks. That was close.”
He gave her a curt nod before slipping past her. “Going to play tomorrow?” she called after him.
“Ok.” She glanced down, narrowing her eyes. Once she was sure that Felix was a good distance away, she whispered, “Hey, Tikki, think you can sneak down there and see what game it is?”
“Marinette, I'm not going to risk revealing myself over a game. How could you think so?”
“Hey, you're the one who's always popping out into the open.”
Tikki gasped, giving Marinette a pout. “I do not!”
“Do to! You’re going to get caught one day and I'll give you the biggest I told you so ever.”
“If it happens, cause it won't, I'll even eat a slice of cheese. And if it doesn't for a week, you feed me cookies.”
“But you eat so slowly. How about I make you something?”
“Oh! A little chef hat?”
“You’re on,” Marinette said, holding out a finger, Tikki took it her paws, giving it a shake.
The game was on, and Marinette came in prepared. She barely noticed how Adrien’s eyes followed her around the room, her own set on the screen, watching people play, eye their scores on UMS, grinning all the while. When it was her turn, she was up against the potential champion of these matches, Max Kante, a student in Bustier’s class, who so far, bested everyone, except for Adrien, his first loss.
And Marinette was ready to grab the highest score.
Accepting the controller for Adrien, she dropped down in his seat, teasingly declaring, “I didn’t think I was going to get my chance to play.”
Max in turn just raised a brow at the bubbly girl that sat next to him, looking skeptical and surprised. “I see… well, in case you don’t know,” he started off, leaning the controller her way, ready to explain how everything worked.
Marinette immediately shut him down. “I know how to play.”
The game started and Marinette dived in like a true savage. Where Max started off easy, wanting to be a little considerate before he wrecked her, he was quick to find he needed to act as Marinette took out almost half his health with her first attack. He leaned forward, gritting his teeth as Marinette leaned back, grinning with confidence as she watched the fight, going the most logical route to win.
In a minute, the battle was over, and she jumped up to celebrate her victory. In the background, the students exploded, awed by the easy win, Marinette’s score shooting up, easily surpassing Adrien’s highest. She looked back just in time to see him gape, jaw slack. She stuck her tongue out at him, laughing.
Turning to Max, she held out her hand, offering, “Good game!”
Max stood and took it slowly, his eyes to the floor, a dark flicker in them that had Marinette faltering. Then he forced a smile, offering, “Congratulations.” He quickly let go of her hand and moved on, leaving the room. Marinette let him go, Adrien coming up to her side, green eyes locked on her, oblivious to Max. As Damocles announced them as winners, Adrien noted aloud, “I guess we’re going to be working together, partner.”
“I suppose so.”
“Should we practice? At your home? My father really wouldn’t allow it…”
“Yeah, we can.”
And they really could, it was just the annoyance Marinette had to put up with, her parents being way too nosy as they poked around, trying to learn what they could about this boy, an eager speculation of who he could be to Marinette. She has tried to do what she could to dismiss these eager suspicions, but unsurprisingly, they were selective listeners.
And this is why it's often only Tikki that she turns to for advice. Tikki is more likely to listen.
With slight exaggeration, she returned to her room, stopping with a raised brow to see Adrien nosing around her room, like he was looking for something. She watched him jump as she loudly announced, “So my parents are going to be bringing up some croissants soon for us to snack on.”
He beamed. “Sound tasty!”
“Yeah! So, uh, let’s get the game going.” She dropped into her chair, starting up the game. It was awkward at first, both of them very aware of the other, before the game called their attention, Adrien jumping into focus as Marinette started to go all out on him. But much like Max, he barely stood a chance.
“How’d you get this good?” he asked, baffled.
“I played with my Papa a lot,” Marinette confirmed.
Like a summon, Tom popped in, a plate of steaming quiche in his hands. “Lunch is served!” he sung out, beaming at the two. Marinette chuckled when she saw Adrien practically drooling. “How about you two go eat in the park? Get some sun!”
“That’s a wonderful idea!” Adrien agreed, jumping up and eagerly heading for the presented plate. Marinette followed, already thinking of ways to build up Aurore and help her girl out. With a plate in each of their hand, they headed for a bench, Adrien quickly digging into his quiche, humming in delgith. Marinette ate hers a little slower, and when Adrien wasn’t looking, tore off a little piece to give to Tikki, resisting the urge to giggle when Tikki nibbled on it like a little mouse.
“Your parents are amazing cooks,” Adrien praised, popping the rest of it in his mouth. “I live with a five star chief and I think your food is better.”
“You should tell them, they’d be giddy.”
He smiled playfully, but before he could speak, there was a muffled boom . They both paused, staring at each other in confusion. They turned, looking up and up to see a big black robot come into view, turning to stare down at them. They gaped at it, watching as the green circle on its head started to glow, a loud hum filling the air.
“Look out!” Adrien cried, grabbing Marinette and leaping forward, just as the robot fired off a shot. The bench disappeared behind them, and Adrien rose up a little with an awkward yet playful grin. Marinette though had her eyes on the akuma, and rolled them out of the way of another shot. It was Adrien who got them to their feet and tore, holding her hand tightly, not letting her escape. Marinette went it, glancing back as the robot followed, zapping at them wildly.
Adrien dragged her to safety, ducking into thin alleys, and successfully losing the robot tailing them. They slowed, looking back and around, searching for the akuma. “Seems we lost it,” Adrien proposed.
“It seems so,” Marinette agreed, moving to walk to the edge to lean out and search, only to stop when she was tugged back. She looked down, seeing Adrien holding her hand. She raised a brow his way and he sheepishly released her hand, offering a hush apology. “We should go hide,” Marinette proposed.
“We should,” he agreed. “Any ideas on where we could hide?”
He watched as she made a face, looking torn and unsure. “Um, maybe we can hide in one of these buildings,” she proposed, starting to think and plan to escape Adrien so she can slip away to be Ladybug. “This one,” she pointed, an antique shop, full of a variety of items that she could easily sneak around and escape. They headed for it, only to get cut off when the akuma shot the building, cutting off their escape.
Adrien grabbed her again, dragging her off to escape.
When they found another safe hiding spot, with Marinette looking away, Plagg darted out, whispering, “What are you doing?”
“Making sure she’s safe,” Adrien shot back.
“Chat Noir would make sure she’s safe,” Plagg pointed out.
“I know, but—” He spared a fast glance at Marinette. “She might be Ladybug.”
Plagg raised a brow. “If she was, don’t you think she’d be putting more effort in to get away from you so she can transform?”
Adrien paused, really thinking that over. That would be true…
“Incoming!” Marinette cried out, jumping out of the way. Adrien turned, just in time for the beam to come at him, making him disappear. Plagg barely had time to hide as Marinette turned to peer where Adrien stood. “Oops…”
No time to react, she got up, racing for another hiding spot to transform. Plagg followed after, ready to help however he can.
After Miraculous Ladybug swept through Paris, bringing everyone back, Plagg returned to the dazed Adrien, paws on his hips. “I hope your happy with yourself,” Plagg lightly scolded.
Adrien pursed his lips, giving the kwami a pout. Plagg darted down, snatching some cheese from Adrien’s pocket. “Met with Ladybug today while you were out.”
“Well?” Adrien prompted.
“Is Marinette Ladybug?”
“I dunno. We didn’t really have time to talk about secret identities.”
Adrien sighed as Plagg popped his cheese into his mouth, humming happily. Frowning thoughtfully, Adrien said, “I don't think she is.”
“You were right. Ladybug would've made more effort to get away. Duty always comes first with her, after all.”
“And so the search continues,” Plagg said.
“Yeah, another day. I'm going to head home.”
“What about the tournament?” Plagg wondered.
“Um…” Adrien winced, unwilling to admit that learning Marinette wasn’t Ladybug, he wasn't as interested in playing with her. He said, “Max really had his heart in playing, a lot more than I did. He can play in my place.”
“Very considerate of you,” Plagg praised, slipping into Adrien’s pocket. “While you're on this kick, get me some more cheese.” Adrien rolled his eyes as he headed off, pulling out his phone to call Nino, let him know what's going on. At least it works out for Max in the end. Now all he can do is hope for the same for himself, that one day, he'd know the hire beneath the mask, and they'd be together. He just had to be patient.
Update today cause early start tomorrow for work.
Marinette doesn’t know what happened. Suddenly, there seemed to be a ridge between Adrien and Aurore. He came by to see them less, offered a wave and smile here and there, but was always quick to move on. And not only did Marinette notice, Aurore did as well.
“Was I too great a storm?” Aurore wondered, seated perfectly, poised, face tilted skywards as she posed for an outfit Marinette designed. The only thing to give away her agitation and nervousness was the little twirl of her umbrella, unsure and twitchy.
“You were fine,” Marinette reassured, going around, taking pictures. “Maybe… he’s busy?”
“I suppose,” Aurore sighed.
Marinette offered him an optimistic smile. “Give him some time. And if he doesn’t come to hang out with us, we’ll go pester him.”
Aurore cracked a small grin, though she turned her head, eyeing the school where the fencing practice was being held, where Adrien was. There in the courtyard, Adrien found himself in a match against Jean Duparc. He was a playful kid, lively, with energy Adrien can appreciate. Though, he was a weak punner, had to really, really reach sometimes. But, not everyone can stand with the greats in the master of wordplay.
Today, Jean was a bit different. Usually, he didn’t take fencing too seriously. A little more dodgy than he should be, quick on his feet, likes to jab but never strikes too hard or go directly aggressive, which often irritated D’Argencourt, but he’s somewhat given up trying to correct it.
Today, Jean was more focused, more serious, nothing playful in his style. The shorter boy fought Adrien with a little more aggression, coming at him directly, his hits still not as hard as they should be, and he was still flighty, but it was a definite difference to how he usually worked.
But, facing the secret Chat Noir, Jean stood little chance against him, and wound up on the ground, the tip of his foil pressed against his chest.
“You ok, Jean?” Adrien asked, lifting up the mask to offer the boy a hand.
“I guess you could say I’m a little poked,” Jean said, taking his hand and letting Adrien pull him up to his feet. He lifted off his own mask, giving Adrien a frown. It was weird to see on the usually lively boy. “Aurore’s been a little down lately.”
“O-oh, really? Something wrong?”
“Yeah, a lack of you.”
Adrien winced, and quickly said, “I’ve been busy.” He turned, hurrying to his bag to grab a drink. Jean followed, undeterred.
“You could’ve at least sent her a message to let her know.”
“Yeah, I could’ve.”
“She may not say it, but I can see that she thinks she did something wrong.”
“She didn't. I’m just busy, is all.”
“Doesn’t seem like you have a lot of rAgreste.”
“Ok, Jean, you’re starting to push it,” Adrien warned, rounding on the shorter boy.
“A bit,” Jean admitted, “but Aurore is a friend who’s getting really hurt over the lack of communication. Don’t leave her hanging thinking the worst. She’s going to think the worst.”
“Ok, ok. I’ll talk to her,” Adrien sighed. Jean nodded his thanks and left, though Adrien caught to slight evil eye the boy sent him. Adrien made a face back at him, turning to his bag and grumbling, “He’s not even that funny.”
“That’s a matter of opinion,” Plagg replied, peeking out to peer up at Adrien. “He can be funny. Just like you’re sometimes funny.”
Plagg received an offended look for that. “I’m always funny!” Adrien insisted, but Plagg only shrugged, hiding himself away in the bag once more, leaving Adrien alone to pout.
Marinette frowned, slowly walking along the columns of books, seeking out specifics about storms. Since Adrien’s distance, Aurore’s been very down and to improve her mood, Marinette wanted to make her a storm themed dress. But she wanted to do research, figure out what to do. There were a lot of things she could do with stormy elements, she could go dark colored dresses with lighter design, like a bolt of lightning, or something like a hailstorm or snowfall, just something bright and shining against the dark cloth. But she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go dark for Aurore, so maybe something colorful, like wind on a sunny, or…
Marinette pursued her lips, adjusting the books she had to take out her pencil, doing a little quick sketch to just get the newest thought down. So caught up in sketching and walking, Marinette didn’t look where she was going, and collided with two others as they walked down the hall.
She dropped her things with a squeak, eyes locking onto the falling books; she moved with pure instinct, catching what she could and was able to salvage the loss. Releived, she looked up, ready to apologize, only to blink at the double, gaping stares received from both Felix Agreste and Amber Bourgeois.
With a sheepish smile, she uttered, “Sorry.” She put the books back in Felix’s hands, dropping down to gather up her things, Amber followed, helping her.
“That was wild,” Amber said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone move that fast.” She paused, eyes settling on the sketches Marinette had done, taking in the designs and notes dotted around the dresses.
“Let’s just say I had a lot of practice,” Marinette offered, standing up, holding out her hand for the sketchbook. Amber returned it, lips a little pursed. Catching on that her eyes were on her sketchbook, Marinette revealed, “My friend’s feeling a little down, so I’m going make her a little dress.”
“The weather girl,” Felix noted, eyes on the books she had.
“Yes!” Marinette confirmed, adjusting her hold on her books so she can finger gun the blond. “Anyway, I need to go. Have a good one you two!” She was off with a wave, leaving the blondes alone in the library. She was on heading down the hallway, eyes ahead, when her arm was suddenly grabbed and she was pulled into a familiar classroom.
“Here, she can help with makeup!” someone declared for Marinette, the girl barely managing to hold onto her books. She looked up in surprise, her arm held securely by a boy in a blue shirt with an eyeball on it. He turned to her, pushing, “You’re good with that, right? So you'll do it.”
“Uh, excuse me?” she huffed, jerking her wrist out of his.
“She designs clothes , Nino,” Kim voiced, giving the boy a dry look.
“She's still some sort of stylist then,” Nino waved off. “She can help—”
“ She has no memory of saying yes,” Marinette cut in, giving the boy an unimpressed look. Then looked around, stiffening to see she was surrounded by Bustier’s class. It took all her willpower to not gulp. Any one of them could end up an akuma…
“We should let her go, Nino,” Adrien voiced, making Marinette tense. She turned, seeing the blond peering at her wearily. Marinette narrowed her eyes at him, not happy that he has cut himself off from Aurore.
She jumped when she was grabbed and pulled close, fighting off a twitch as the redhead declared, “She's always doing artsy stuff, Adrien. She'd be a big help.”
“She has plans,” Marinette insisted, getting free if Alya.
“Oh no, stay. I insist.”
Marinette’s blood went cold, turning to see Chloe grinning at her, looking like a cat that caught the mouse. She drew near, knowing Marinette was trapped. “Don't know about makeup, but she'd be a great little helper, wouldn't she, Sabrina?”
“Maybe she can help bring Mylene back,” a large boy that Marinette recognized as Stoneheart murmured.
Chloe rounded on him, snapping, “We don't need her! I'm lead actress now! Me! Not that chicken! She's out and I say good riddance!”
The boy gave her a dark glare, but before anything could be said or done, the lights went out, scaring everyone. They all became even more unnerved when something dark covered the windows, blocking out the light outside.
Oh no, Marinette thought, inching away from the crowd that gathered around the windows. She sped out to find a secluded spot to transform only to ram right into Felix as he and Amber came by the classroom.
“Sorry,” Marinette murmured, rubbing her nose as Felix gave her a slight frown.
“Do you know what's going on?” Amber asked, brow furrowed.
“It's just an akuma,” Marinette explained, “it'll be ok.”
“Big words from the scary cat who tried to runaway,” Chloe huffed.
“I just wanted to do a quick check of the area,” Marinette said, moving to get away once more. Only she was grabbed by the back of the blazer and pulled back. She looked up to the stern eyes of Felix.
Loudly, he declared, “No one is going anywhere. We don’t know what we're dealing with or what's going on, so we're staying together till then.”
“Oh yeah, Felibear in charge.”
“I trust him a lot more than you, Chlo-Chlo.”
“As if your opinion matters, Lamber.”
“Since it's better than yours, of course it does.”
“Enough,” Felix cut in, pinching the bridge of nose. “We need to stick together and stay safe. Perhaps stay in this room and block off exits.”
“That'd trap us on,” Adrien argued. “We should try and get out of here.”
“There is no way out of here,” Felix said, pointing to the window. “Whatever covers the window is probably covering the whole school, blocking our escape. Here, we'd be safe and able to keep up with everyone, out there, we'd get picked off.”
“Makes sense,” Marinette agreed, “ but you still need a scout!” She moved to hurry out only to end up grabbed again and dragged in.
“Would you stop that?” he grumbled. He stiffened when Adrien darted past, no way to grab him as the boy shouted he'd do it. Felix scowled, turning to the rest of the room, he said, “No one else leaves.”
Marinette could feel Felix tensing beside her. Everyone turned as Chat prowled into the room, giving them a salute.
“Chat Noir!” the boy in blue cried out in delight, earning himself a wink.
“Oh look, a real leader,” Chloe called out, making Chat preen.
“Indeed I am. Here to take charge and get you all out safely!” Marinette raised a brow at that, a little baffled. “Now chop! Chop! Everyone move it! Single file! Pick a buddy!”
Marinette wiggled to Chat’s side, asking, “Is there a plan?”
“Yeah! Cataclysm the dome!”
“And the akuma?”
“I’ll handle it.”
The events of Copycat fresh in her mind, Marinette wasn’t so confident… but it was a doubt that wasn’t shared with the others. As a hero and wanting to get out of here, everyone was up to follow Chat’s lead. They all kept close, moving in single file, and Felix took on the effort of keeping track of everyone, including Marinette. He was quick to catch onto her wanting to be at the end of the line and situated her in the middle where the tall boy could keep an eye on her. Which of course upheld her becoming Ladybug, which bothered Tikki enough that Marinette was surprised the anxious kwami wasn’t shaking up her bag.
Till an opportunity arose, Marinette bided her time, looking around, trying to figure out what they were dealing with. From what she gathered, the victim today was Mylene, a very shy, anxious girl that became too overwhelmed by the little horror flick the boy Nino wanted to film. It scared her enough that the motive seemed to be to scare her classmates back.
And, Marinette can admit, she was going a good job… the school was redecorated with goo, the lights out, and it was hard to see with the school covered. It unnerved Marinette enough that she wrapped her arms around her middle.
“I'm sure it'll be ok.”
Marinette looked over, seeing Amber offering her a small, unsteady smile. “Like, sure, it's our first akuma attack to be in, but I hear the heroes do good work. And Chat Noir is right there!” she excitedly whispered.
Chat’s ears flicked back, catching what Amber said. He turned back to them, grinning coyly as he said, “Indeed I am, here to protect you lovely ladies.”
Amber giggled while Marinette rolled her eyes. What she really needed was a chance to get awa—
There was a shout behind them, everyone jumping as they looked back to see a redhead being carried off by a long purple tail. Chat was off to pursue him and with attention locked on them, Marinette took her chance to get away. It was with relief when she became Ladybug, sliding out to help salvage and help however she could, taking charge over the panic.
It lead to a long, long afternoon, and quiet promise that if she ever finds herself in a room alone with Bustier’s class, Marinette was to run .
Ladybug sighed, rubbing her face as she landed in the Louvre. That was not an easy akuma today… from an army of mummies, to Alya being in the middle of it all, to Tikki being vague about the exhibit she was all excited about it. She was just ready to drop in bed.
Spotting her bag, Ladybug headed for it, ready to head home. She jumped when there was a shout behind her.
She whipped around, wide eyed to see Alya’s crazy eyes locked on her. Loudly, Ladybug declared, “Oh no! I’m going to detransform!” She threw her yo-yo out and zipped away, unaware of the book that fell right out of her bag.
Alya wasn’t. She ran to it, eagerly snatching it up, gasping in delight when she recognized the book. The same book she had. This, this meant Ladybug went to her school!
So giddy, she turned to her phone, holding it up to eagerly blog, “Hey viewers! Look what the Ladybug just dropped! And from a pink bag. Be on the lookout! We’ll find out who Ladybug is soon enough!”
As anticipated, the views on her blog skyrocketed, and the giddiness surged in Alya as she headed outside the Louvre. Pocketing her phone, she started to flip through the pages, trying to find anything that could give away who this book belonged to—
She paused at the stern tone above her, looking up to see Ladybug hanging upside down, giving her a firm look. She held out her hand, prompting, “Give me the book.”
“Is this your book?” Alya asked excitedly.
Ladybug dropped down in front of her, crossing her arms as she stated, “Actually, no. This belongs to another student, one I recognize and wanted to get her things back to her.”
“This student knows you?!”
“Not that personally. The book, please?” Ladybug held out her hand, eye twitching a little.
Alya pouted, but did as she prompted, placing the book in Ladybug’s hands and watching the spotted hero dash away. She crossed her arms, narrowing her eyes as she stared after the hero. Alya wasn’t going to let this go so easily…
At school, she prowled around, on the search for Ladybug, keeping a look out for a light pink bag. There was no way it could be so simple as Ladybug knowing another student and delivering a bag back. That student had to be Ladybug. And Ladybug went to their school!
No way was Alya going to let her slip around under her nose, not when she was so close…
Alya paused, eyes going down when she spotted light pink in the crowd below. There was Chloe’s favorite target, talking to another blonde with pigtails, one Alya had recognized to be Stormy Weather. A short boy ran passed them, cracking a joke then tore off, the blonde in hot pursuit, and the dark haired girl was left alone. Alya narrowed her eyes, really considering her.
Everything seemed to suggest she could be Ladybug. Same hair, same height, same build, same pink bag…
It was all so promising. Seeing her chance, Alya did what she could to follow Marinette around, eager to prove that this had to be Ladybug. Her phone out, she recorded Marinette everywhere she went, trying to get a look into her locker from a distance, and one time, was even close enough to get to her bag to peek inside when Marinette suddenly tore off—
“What are you doing?”
Alya jumped, looking up to see a redhead standing behind her, frowning slightly as she stared down at Alya. “Nothing,” Alya hurried out, standing up as she faced the girl. “Just uh, found that girl’s bag lying around and thought I’d get it to her.”
“Oh, that’s very nice of you!” the redhead praised, offering Alya a sweet smile, one that could rival Rose. “But, don’t worry, I’ll make sure Marinette’s bag gets back to her.” Before Alya could protest, the broad girl grabbed Marinette’s things and carried them away, shouting an excited greeting to the blonde Marinette hung out with, who turned sharp eyes onto Alya. Tensing under that sharp stare, Alya hurried away.
She was going to have to be a little subtle in her snooping.
At the end of the day, with Marinette started walking home, Alya was ready to follow, only, she never got too far. A cold voice asked behind Alya, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Alya jumped, turning to see the blonde Marinette hung out with looming over her, eyes sharp and furious. Defensive, Alya said, “Nothing.”
“Nothing my umbrella. You’ve been following my friend all day long, even tried to go through her things; I want to know why.”
Alya faltered under that glare. She looked back to see that Marinette was gone, it was just her and the blonde. Alya admitted, “I think she’s Ladybug.”
Aurore blinked, then laughed. “You think she’s Ladybug?”
“Oh, I see. Well, in that case,” Aurore drew near, coming to tower over Alya, making the redhead tense under her frosty eyes, “let me share with you a hard truth. Whether she’s Ladybug or not, its none of your business. And if I catch you snooping around her anymore—”
“Got it,” Alya huffed, drawing away from Aurore, meeting her glare with her own. “I’ll lay off.”
“I would hope so.”
There was nothing more terrifying than coming home to find Chloe standing in the bakery, talking with her mother. Marinette went still at the door, tensing as Chloe turned and fired off a smirk Marinette’s way. But she gave Marinette no comment as she prowled past, and Marinette side stepped her, watching her go warily.
She approached her Maman, warily staring after Chloe. “Everything ok?” Marinette asked.
“Oh, yes,” Sabine reassured. “Chloe just wanted to hire us for her half birthday.” Marinette made a face. “It’ll be a big paycheck,” Sabine encouraged.
“I know… I’m just, nervous,” Marinette said.
“You’re welcome to help us,” Sabine added, slipping into the back before Marinette could respond. Marinette huffed, and slipped upstairs, setting her things down. Tikki darted out, an excited blur around her.
Marinette watched her go for a few seconds, then chuckled. “You’re ready for tonight, aren’t you?”
“So ready,” Tikki whispered, bright eyed.
Marinette chuckled, settling down to start on her homework. Tonight was the night that Ladybug and Chat Noir was going to have a formal interview with Nadja, their first official one, giving the public a chance to get to know them a little better. It was going to be airing soon and she wanted to take this chance to get some work done.
Tikki hovered close the whole time, eyes on the clock, just to make sure they’ll make it on time. When it was close to airing time, Tikki darted around her, starting to usher Marinette away from homework so they’ll make it on time.
Ladybug was off soaring through the skies in just a few minutes, arriving a few seconds after Chat, smiling warmly as Nadja turned her eyes to the door.
“Ladybug!” Nadja greeted, her voice full or relief. “So glad you can make it!”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said, plopping down next to Chat, greeting him with a brofist.
“This is really exciting,” Nadja started off, “first official interview with Ladybug in person. You haven’t even given one to reporters on the streets.”
“Usually there’s not enough time to give for any real interview,” Ladybug said.
“Plus, Bugaboo here is big on secrets,” Chat added, shooting Ladybug a playful look.
“Yes, secrets with the public, but what about you two?” Nadja asked, looking between them. “Do you two know who each other are?”
“One day, yes,” Chat answered confidently.
“So, the plan then is to reveal after Hawk Moth’s defeat?”
“Ideally,” Ladybug started to say, only for Chat to cut.
“Though could be sooner.”
Ladybug shot him a look while the cat just grinned cheekily. “We are pretty tight,” he continued, “could be possible we may know who we are before Hawk Moth. Could even make us a stronger team.”
“It could,” Ladybug agreed, “but there are also some really big risks to that. It’ll be safer for us both to just wait to Hawk Moth has been caught and found.”
“So no on identities, which makes me wonder, what are you views on the most popular of blogs, the Ladyblog?”
Ladybug tensed. Was it that popular?
“It has the most popular theories of who you two can be and desires to find out who you are,” Nadja continued.
“I’m sorry,” Ladybug said, “but that’s a blog I don’t support. Our identities are supposed to be kept secret, for not only our safety but the safety of our family and friends.”
“Well, its all for good fun,” Chat tried to reason.
“It has some very big risks in the name of fun,” Ladybug quietly shot back at him, earning a pout.
Taking this in, Nadja tried a new direction. “Ok, next question. What about the relationship between you two? Does the mystery add to the spice of your relationship?”
“What?” Ladybug asked.
“Oh, definitely,” Chat said, earning a look from Ladybug.
“We’re not in a relationship,” Ladybug said.
“But perhaps one day…”
Ladybug huffed, shifting in her seat.
Nadja raised a brow at her, wondering, “You two are really not together?”
“Our relationship is purely professional,” Ladybug declared strictly. “And it will stay that way.”
“At least for now,” Chat persisted, earning another sharp look.
“But from what I’ve seen and heard, there’s a lot that says otherwise,” Nadja noted aloud, watching Ladybug carefully. When she was greeted with confusion, Nadja pushed a button on her remote, and the dreaded Dark Cupid kiss appeared on screen. Ladybug tensed and sunk back into her seat while Chat gaped.
Oh no .
“You two were really going at it, there was really no feelings there?” Nadja asked, as Chat whipped around, gaping at Ladybug, hope and thrill shining in his eyes.
“He was under a spell,” Ladybug explained quickly. “An act of love would break, for love beats hate.”
“I see,” Nadja said slowly, “but there is another source that counters this. Bring him in.”
Ladybug and Chat turned, Chat tensing as Theo Barbot walked onto the stage, looking sheepish and unsure. “H-hey, everyone,” he greeted, offering a weak wave.
“Theo here is one of my best sources to your secret relationship,” Nadja practically gloated, this time watching as it was Chat who sunk into his seat. “He confirmed that you two are in a relationship.”
“What?” Ladybug asked.
“I heard it from Chat himself,” Theo said. “Said you two were like this.” He intertwined his two fingers. “That actually upset me enough to become Copycat…” Theo turned away, rubbing the back of his neck, adding lowly, “I am sorry about all that. I hope you two are still happy together.”
Ladybug stared while Chat looked like he wanted to be anywhere else.
Nadja grinned smugly, asking excitedly, “So, do you two want to change your answer? Are you secret dating? Does the mystery add a nice spice to it?”
“We are not in a relationship. This is not what this interview should’ve been about.”
“But there’s that kiss, and word from Mr Barbot—”
Ladybug stood, loudly declaring, “This interview is over.”
Nadja blinked in horror, calling for Ladybug to wait as the spotted hero grabbed her partner and dragged him out of the studio. She didn’t stop, not when he tried to talk, not when people moved to stop her; she just kept going till they reached the roof.
She let Chat go then, turning to peer at him darkly.
His faux ears were flat on his head, staring at her with big eyes, holding his wrist like her grasp on them had burnt him.
“What, was that?” she asked slowly, hands on her hips.
“Uh,” Chat started off weakly.
“You lied to me about how Copycat happened, making a big fit about how it was my fault because I wasn’t at the ceremony.”
“W-well, it played a part—”
“You lied to me . You lied about me .” She took a deep breathe, her body trembling with contained anger and hurt. “How could you?”
He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Look, Bugaboo—”
“Don’t call me Bugaboo.”
“—we are going to be a thing one day, you know.” When he received a raised brow about that, he quickly continued, “Everyone’s expecting it, we have the two miraculous counterparts to each other and are clearly made for each with this,” he pointed to his ring, “and even you clearly want me.”
“That kiss, back during Dark Cupid. I’m sorry I forgot all about that, I would’ve loved—”
“I don’t love you.”
Chat went quiet, Ladybug’s stern stare locked on him. “I didn’t kiss you out of romantic love, Chat. I do love you, but, as my best friend, who I thought had my back. But then, this,” Ladybug cut herself off with a growl, burying her face in her hands, pacing around, frustrated. “This was a mistake.”
“It's just a formality, and a given,” Chat offered. “We’re popular. Celebrities, everyone wants to know if we’re dating. They get a big kick out of it. And… even if we aren’t, it's good publicity—”
“We’re not celebrities,” Ladybug cut in. “We’re heroes , Chat. We’re not out here saving the day for a big show to please the public, this isn’t some big act! This is real! There’s a terrorist out there, taking advantage of people, doing some real harm! And all they want to know if we’re dating ?!”
She growled, stomping away from him. “And you too, you’re caught up in that too…”
“Night, Chat. I’ll see you later.” She threw her yo-yo out, just ready to call it a night. Only, just as she landed on another roof, a screen lit up, showing an akumatized Nadja laughing maniacally. Ladybug stared up at it tiredly, barely listening to her monologue.
With a sigh, she turned around to face the akuma with Chat, just, ready for this night to be done.
The school was abuzz when Marinette slipped in, catching bits of conversations as she walked by, a lot of them revolving around Face to Face last night, its first, and last, showing. Marinette got to hear a bit of it last night when Sabine called Nadja, hearing that her boss didn't care for her unprofessionalism and her night ended sour.
Personally, Marinette was fine with that, unappreciating being hounded like that on live tv. And learning that Chat had lied to her, that he was the cause of not only Copycat but unwittingly started that rumor. Marinette was in a foul mood.
Foul enough that she wouldn't meet anyone's eyes, and when even Chloe came her way, taking advantage of Marinette's boldness to walk in the open, she faltered at the angry, frosty expression on her face. She backed off, letting the pissed girl be.
She plopped down next to Aurore, not meeting the blonde’s curious stare. “You ok, Sea Breeze?” Aurore asked, “Why so overcast?”
Marinette paused, taking a deep breath to situate herself. As calmly as she could, she told Aurore, “I found out my other best friend lied to me. And played a part in starting a rumor about us, which isn't true!”
She slammed her books on her desk. “How could he do that? Why would he do that?”
“Sounds like he wasn't thinking.”
“Evidently, “ Marinette huffed.
“Well, there's only one thing left to do,” Aurore said, bringing Marinette’s gaze to her. “You drop his ass.”
Marinette chuckled dryly. “It's not that easy…”
“Then perhaps he should meet my parasol.”
“No, Aurore, its… it's ok. I just need my time to be mad at him, and we'll get past this.” Ladybug and Chat Noir can't afford to have issues after all.
“Well if you need help you let me know.”
Marinette wasn’t the only one that came in with a fowl mood. Minutes before class started, she noticed the grim Amber when she came in, her comrade Felix trailing behind her, slipping into class in time before it started. Despite Amber’s scowl, Felix gave no indication in his expression about what was wrong, not meeting anyone’s eyes as he walked by.
Marinette felt curious and concerned as she watched Amber go by, tempted to ask but Mendeleiev came, starting class and demanding attention.
One does not refuse Mendeleiev when she calls. And Marinette latched onto her call, more than willing to have her mind focus on something else other than yesterday. When class was over, Amber was the first up, coming to everyone and chatting merrily with them; when she came by them, Aurore watched her tentatively, very much aware that this was Chloe’s twin.
“Hey, you two,” Amber greeted, “my twin is throwing a half birthday party and that means it’s my half birthday too.”
“And you want us to crash the party?” Jean asked, coming to lean on their desk, earning a growl from Aurore.
“If you do, I won’t know about it.” Amber winked. “I’m just inviting my own guests. I’m hoping I’ll see you guys there.” With a wave, she slipped away, leaving the three alone.
“We’re not going, are we?” Aurore asked, hopeful.
Marinette made a face.
“Why?” Aurore asked.
“Chloe hired my parents,” Marinette told her. “I want to make sure she won’t do anything. Actually, I won’t even be here after lunch.”
“What’s going on?” Jean wondered.
“A request was placed for Papa to show Bustier’s class the basics of baking and I’m going to be his assistant. They’re doing it after lunch so no one would be hungry enough inhale all those pastries.”
“Ooooh, you’re going to be in the belly of the beast,” Jean murmured.
“Quite literally,” Marinette sighed.
“Does it really have to be you?” Aurore wondered.
“Yeah. But, there is another goal to this,” Marinette said, hoping that she can leave some destressing tips for that class and hopefully, keep down the akumas. Hopefully.
“True,” Jean agreed, “like, Adrien will be there.”
Aurore pursed her lips, a light blush on her cheeks. She said, “I don’t know… he’s been, rather distant for a while.”
“Well,” Ondine piped in, joining them. “Think of this as a game changer!” She came by Aurore’s side, setting a hand on the blonde’s shoulder, beaming down at her as she declared, “You may win him over this weekend! You’re beautiful, full of confidence, have a wonderful personality; maybe this time, this will be his chance to see you!”
Aurore set a hand on top of Ondine’s, gazing up at her with starry eyes. “Ondine, you’re a gift to us all, knowing just what to say to make us feel better.”
“And give Aurore a swelled head,” Jean muttered, earning a hard poke from her parasol. “Ow.”
Marinette chuckled, asking Ondine, “You’ll be there?”
“Oh, yes!” Ondine beamed, a blush on her cheeks, making her freckles darken. “I’m hoping to have one dance with Kim.”
“Just one?” Marinette teased.
Ondine giggled. “Well, not just one. But, at least one would be amazing.”
“I can do some magic tricks,” Jean offered, “that’ll capture his attention so you can ask.”
“And stick to slow dances,” Marinette advised, recalling her childhood. “He’s a wild dancer otherwise.” She’s gotten enough accidental smacks to know.
“Alright, I’ll see you guys later!” Marinette called out, waving them goodbye and rushing off. Papa wanted her to drop by at lunch to get all the details for tomorrow. Outside, she paused when she saw Alya slowly coming down the steps, shoulders sagging, glaring at the ground.
Marinette stopped, watching her go, feeling very torn. With a sigh, she approached, watching Alya’s honey grey eyes rise up to meet her.
“You doing ok?” Marinette asked slowly.
“Peachy,” came the dry response.
She felt instinctive hackles rise at the tone but breathed out and relaxed. She said, “I’m sorry that you got a lot of backlash. But… I think it's for the best.” When she got a dark look for that, she continued, “Ladybug doesn’t want her identity revealed, or you—”
“American heroes don’t mind it!” Alya cut in.
Marinette gave her a sharp look. “A lot of those American heroes revealed themselves of their own consent. Has Ladybug ever consented in revealing herself?”
Alya stayed quiet.
“You reveal her identity on your blog, Hawk Moth will find out and come after her, or the people in her life. That’s not worth knowing who she is.”
Alya looked away, her grip tightening on her bag strap.
“It’s also not worth risking yourself like that,” Marinette added. “You’re getting too close to the attacks, and it makes you a liability as Ladybug now needs to watch out for you. I know you got a lot of harsh backlash, but, the whole blog’s existence and purpose wasn’t worth it. It never was.”
Marinette turned to leave, only to pause when Alya spoke up.
“I was starting to suspect that you were Ladybug.”
She froze, turning to the blogger in surprise. Alya watched her, like Marinette’s reaction would give the answer away. Seconds went by as the two stared at each other, waiting for the other to move, to respond. It was Alya who moved first, shoulders slouching as she looked defeated. She murmured, “But, that, that doesn’t really matter anymore.”
She broke eye contact, heading out of the school and heading home. Marinette followed, turning to go to the bakery.
At the end of the day, Marinette learned that the Ladyblog had been deleted.
“You hold the bowl securely with one arm and you stir steadily,” Marinette lectured while her father tried to help Kim with his batch. Lunch was over and Marinette was in this class with her Papa, watching these kids carefully. Her gaze settled on Alya the most, weary of her being upset, the girl wouldn't even meet Marinette’s eyes. But there hasn't been an akuma yet so Marinette continued the lesson, stressing aloud, “It's actually a very relaxing motion, and one I really encourage you all to get into.”
Thankfully, none of them asked about that, all of them more focused on stirring and making sure all the ingredients mixed together. So far, things were going smoothly and Marinette was relieved.
Behind her, Bustier stood attentively, beaming as class actually went well so far, no one causing any trouble. And it would be just a matter of time till it was always like this. Bustier was certain about that.
She glanced at Marinette, listening to how clear she spoke aloud, how her shoulders were set and her head high; despite the appearance of confidence, Bustier could see the tension in the girl. How her eyes flickered about like she was expecting trouble, unable to relax in her class.
Bustier’s heart went out to Marinette. She could only imagine what Mendeleiev was forcing this girl through, getting her out of her comfort zone, breaking that sweet, quiet girl she used to be. Bustier recalled her fondly. She used to be one of the best examples Bustier had for Chloe, always compliant, went along with whatever anyone wanted, never disrupted class.
She had been a good student. While she may seem more certain, Bustier just can't shake the unease coming off Marinette. With one last mournful look at Marinette, Bustier turned back to her class, watching them start to pour into little trays.
Back in Mendeleiev’s class, Aurore sat with a pout. For three years, she had sat alone and was content with it. Then came Marinette and now she's grown used to sharing her desk. It was weird that she was absent from her side.
She sighed, leaning even more heavily on her hand. She tensed up when a body slipped into Marinette’s chair, playful brown eyes glancing her way.
“Jean,” she warned with a growl.
“What? You seemed sad,” he whispered, his smug grin becoming huge, the coming pun barely contained.
Aurore glared at him, daring him to cave and let that pun out.
Jean broke, unable to resist as he teased, “Is is because the princess is in another classtle ?”
They both tensed, looking up to see Mendeleiev eyeing them both with a slanted glare. “That’s not your seat, Duparc.”
“But Aurore was lonely,” Jean offered weakly.
“I rather her be lonely than disrupting class. Back to your seat, now.”
“Ha,” Aurore whispered, jabbing after the pouting boy.
Mendeleiev cleared her throat and Aurore faced the front, poised and proper, like a good student should be.
Satisfied, Mendeleiev continued her lesson.
It was the night of the half birthday and Marinette went all out in making sure they’d be ready. For Aurore, she made a white and black dress, with ruffles around her collar and lightly-colored flowers printed all over the black hem. For Ondine, she made the light blue long skirt Ondine had wanted, which was worn with a black top and a crab necklace that hung off the collar. Marinette herself had decided to go with a simple white dress, which had her themed polka dots all over it, along with bows on the hem and pink ruffles beneath it.
They all looked fabulous and ready to own the party. They even walked together, talking excitedly to each other as they headed for the hotel.
A small crowd was already there and bustling, the music definitely loud enough to be from a party.
The girls braced themselves, not quite sure what they’d been expecting, and slipped inside. They were greeted by a chorus of music and laughter, the smell of a variety of food, and a wide space full of familiar faces. Chloe really did invite her whole class it seemed, as many of the people there were Bustier’s students, all of them having split off into their own groups. Amber did her own job, inviting people of her class, though the majority of them was grouped together with only a few hanging around on their own.
“Everyone is here!” Ondine gushed, giving Marinette’s arm an affectionate squeeze while also looking around for a certain tall boy.
“Yeah, a lot more than I expected,” Marinette admitted.
Aurore scoffed beside her. “These girls like to shine, Sea Breeze. Whether they like anyone or not, they’re going to want a lot of people at their parties. It’s a classic show of popularity, and I know because I actually held a few parties like these myself. Played up how good of a host I was. I won, of course, though not that it matters much in the end.”
Marinette leaned her head on Aurore’s shoulder. Aurore, in turn, leaned back, resting her forehead on Marinette’s and sharing a grin with her. Ondine nudged them, pointing up to where the two hostesses stood above the party, their heads pointed towards the crowd as they looked happy with their guests. But, everyone could see the tension between the two, especially given the butler standing anxiously behind them like he was expecting the room to catch fire.
“Looks like someone needs to break that up,” Marinette told Aurore, leaning over to whisper in her ear. “I feel like Chloe’s going to start a fight.”
“And someone should probably break that up,” Aurore said, sounding both torn and amused. Marinette looked over to see Jean was trapped in a conversation with the Soulless One, the strange girl’s blank stare looking a little past him and a faint, odd smile playing on her lips. Jean himself was babbling away in front of the redhead, looking unsure on how to even escape.
“Oooh,” Ondine uttered, “Poor dear.”
Aurore caved into helping, shouting aloud, “Jean! There you are!”
Jean’s head shot over to see Aurore waving to him, and after a hurried excuse and goodbye to the unwelcome person next to him, he dashed towards the girls and whispered his thanks. “I couldn't figure out how to slip away without being rude. Like, that girl gives away nothing on what she's thinking.”
“She is always… vague, ” Marinette agreed.
Ondine reached over, pulling Jean to her side and urging, “Come on, Jo-Jo, we got a Bourgeois-hosted buffet to attack while it's still free.”
“I bet my deck of cards they'll charge us afterwards.”
“Amber wouldn't let that happen,” Ondine reassured, easily pulling Jean along as they left Marinette and Aurore alone.
With a broad smile, Aurore pulled Marinette close, locking their elbows as they started to leisurely wander around the foyer. They enjoyed the atmosphere around them, even seeing many familiar faces wandering about, mingling, and enjoying the provided food and drinks.
The two slowed when they saw Adrien, who was happily eating away at the buffet. Marinette gave Aurore a nudge, grinning. Aurore didn’t move for a minute before she nodded, a look of determination on her face.
She went forward alone, greeting Adrien merrily. He was surprised for a moment before returning it pleasantly. Pleased, Marinette wandered away, leaving the two blondes alone.
She slowed to a stop when she saw Alya, who was hanging by herself and not looking alive as Marinette is used to. After a moment of eyeing, Marinette slowly drew near, greeting, “Hey, Alya.”
Alya had a start, looking up with wide eyes to Marinette and seeing the soft smile directed her way.
Unbothered, Marinette asked, “You’ve been doing good?”
“Well enough,” Alya answered awkwardly.
For a few minutes, it was quiet between them, both of them feeling a bit awkward before Marinette braved the topic. “It was very big of you to delete the blog.”
“Not much of a choice, really…” Alya seemed to sag, like her purpose was lost. Marinette felt her heartstrings pulled.
“Well, if you really want to do a blog for the heroes, maybe you could do something Ladybug could be more for,” Marinette suggested, drawing Alya’s intrigued eyes to her. “The Ladyblog was more of a tabloid to try and find out who she is, so instead, how about a blog that would help her?”
“What do you have in mind?” Alya asked.
“Oh, like, alerts, so people and the heroes can know where akumas are and maybe where they’re going. Also, maybe something of a support system to help people calm down if they’re under risk. Maybe even self defense if things are getting too close for comfort…”
Marinette trailed off, noting Alya’s wide eyes still directed at her.
“Those are brilliant ideas,” Alya said breathlessly.
Marinette cracked a grin. “I’ve been told a few times that my ideas are crazy, but crazy as they may be, they're good ones.”
“There’s nothing crazy about that idea!” Alya interjected, drawing in close, making Marinette jump as an arm came around her shoulders. “That idea is perfect! It’s just what Paris needs! And, just maybe, we can instead start directing theories at who Hawk Moth is.” Alya did like to try and uncover secrets, so logically, she just needed to direct that at the right target.
“I think that’s a perfect idea,” Marinette agreed, also appealed by the thought.
“I can work on it soon, if uh, you’re up to help.”
Marinette smiled, chuckling as she drew away. She offered her hand to Alya, encouraging and happy. Alya took it, shaking it eagerly.
“So,” Marinette began, “I guess sometime soon we’ll start working on the…”
“Ladywatch,” Alya offered.
“Ladywatch it is.”
The tension was running high between the Bourgeois twins. Their dear but worn out butler stood between them, having been ordered to keep the peace by a mayor who didn’t want to involve himself in his princesses’ squabble, preferring to leave the problem to someone else. That problem lay to the head butler, him, and he was to see this night through, have it go perfectly, and simultaneously perform the miracle of having Chloe and Amber Bourgeois get along.
That’s something he’s certain that not even the actual miracle worker, Ladybug, could even do.
However, Jean was an optimistic fool. He had been serving this family for a long time, and even known both girls since they were little. Back then, they were sweeter and on better terms, though the fall out was more of them being drawn to different parents and interested in different things.
Chloe thrived off her father’s attention and gifts and liked taking the easy way out. Conversely, Amber had an interest in drawing and fashion, was awed by her mother’s fierce spirit, and followed her down the more stylish past. She adopted her mother spirit, drive for diligence, and inner fire.
It made the two opposites. Specifically, opposites that clashed in what they stood for, with Chloe’s ego and jealousy not helping smooth things out as she deemed that it was Amber alone who kept away the attention from their mother that Chloe wanted so much. Amber herself had no care for who Chloe was and was unwilling to humor her.
Thankfully, in this moment of time at least, there was peace. Jean was uncertain of how long it would last, as he could see the growing tension between them and could see Chloe was nearing that snapping point, but they haven’t reached that point yet. So, for this moment in time, he could enjoy the silence, even if it was doomed to brea—
“Uuurgh! Amber! Look at them!”
Ah, never mind, it was starting.
“They’re stuffing food into their bags like the poor people they are!” Chloe huffed, eyes locked on Ondine and Jean, grabbing all their favorites and stashing them away in their bags. “This is why I didn't want these slobs here! I wanted it to just be my class. We're sophisticated and poised .”
Amber hummed, sounding very unimpressed and uncertain of that. Sending a smirk Chloe’s way, she reasoned, “Well, this is my half birthday too, so I can invite all the slobs I want. Plus, mine aren’t the only ones causing trouble.”
Chloe gave her a sharp look and Amber nodded to her left, pointing out, “Isn’t that your classmate who’s trying to parkour up the foyer wall?”
Chloe stiffened, then looked over. She started to twitch as she saw that, yes, Kim was trying to scale the wall, with Max, Nino, and Nathaniel even goading him on.
“And that goth girl,” Amber continued, “I think she's been stealing our silverware.”
Juleka was definitely eyeing the diamond encrusted spoon she held, and Rose seemed to be trying to talk her out of something.
“What a very sophisticated group you have,” Amber teased, earning a growl.
“Well,” the butler spoke up behind them, “Miss Chloe, maybe you can—”
Chloe stomped off, ready to manage her guests.
Turning to Amber, the princess from across the sea, the butler murmured, “I wish you wouldn't goad your sister on.”
“I wish you guys didn't baby her,” Amber shot back, giving him Audrey’s infamous pointed look that made people feel small and unworthy. “It's made her very unimpressive.” Amber slipped away as well, ready to mingle and enjoy the party. She even had a few stories from childhood to share, like classic Crowe .
Amber grinned. This was going to be a fun night.
When Chloe came at them, screeching like a banshee, Jean was quick to flee the scene. He glanced back at the scene, keeping his distance as he watched Ondine take on Chloe. The towering redhead was unphased by the blonde’s fury, answering her sweetly and patiently as the rich girl went off at her.
Seeing Ondine handling herself just fine, Jean slipped into the crowd, honey eyes darting about to find a friend to hang with.
He paused when he caught sight of Aurore hanging out with Adrien, frowning slightly as he watched them talk leisurely to each other. At a glance, it seemed fine, with Aurore smiling charmingly and Adrien returning it, but Jean was no longer so on board with Adrien. Though, with him having yet to bring up these concerns and issues, there wasn’t much he could do to intervene, and it wouldn’t be a welcomed intervention since Aurore seemed to be happy for now.
But, he did have a few tricks up his sleeve if things got sour and the tension needed to be broken. Until then, he faced the party once more, wandering about as he sought for something to do or someone to hang with.
He paused when he saw a lone figure sitting by the stairwell, practically hidden away until Jean’s perceptive eyes noticed him. Jean clambered up the steps, coming to peek over the railing to see someone in a red hood sitting away in their corner, journal in their lap as they looked out at the party.
With a tilt of his head, Jean stretched out his arm, letting a yellow-orange rose drop out of his sleeve and drift down to on the journal, startling the stranger.
“A rose for the wallflower,” Jean lightly teased, drawing the brightest green eyes he’s ever seen up to him. Jean’s smile grew, nodding his head to the party. “Going to join the party?”
The boy blinked up at him, looking alarmed. He spared the room a fast glance, then turned back to Jean, shaking his head frantically. Jean swore that the kid even shrunk down, looking smaller as he continued peering up at Jean.
“Okay,” Jean said, coming around to stand in front of him. “You like magic?”
The quiet boy eyed him for a minute before he scooted to the side, giving Jean some room. The brunette happily sat beside him, eager to show off all his tricks.
And this time, there was no risk of a certain blonde swiping his deck of cards or telling him that his tricks sucked. As the green eyed boy looked on with wonder at the tricks Jean presented him, Jean felt he could puff up his chest.
He knew his magic tricks were great!
If given a choice, Felix typically would opt out of any sort of social gathering, and especially one hosted by a certain Chloe Bourgeois. Anything hosted by Chloe Bourgeois was an event you didn’t want to be at.
Before he was officially dropped into Audrey Bourgeois’ lap to be mentored and “set straight”, brought to New York City alongside Amber, Felix’s childhood was often spent in the twins’ presence alongside his cousin. Chloe embraced being in charge while Amber would slip away at the first chance she had, which Chloe happily allowed.
But for Chloe’s “princes”, it was not so easy to escape.
It took Felix literally and figuratively spilling the tea to get out of a tea party, though it did often lead to him getting an angry scolding from the mayor for “hurting the princess’ feelings”. Alongside the mayor’s dislike of him, it sparked off spiteful clinginess in Chloe. Every visit, she’d grab him by the shirt and drag him to her tea party ‘til he got kicked out, making a cycle of endless misery until the adults had enough. At that point, the “troublemaker” was given to Audrey and taken to New York, which probably just added to his mean streak and unwillingness to take any of Chloe’s bull.
They had yet to officially clash, but Felix knew it was coming. Any day now, Chloe would come his way and Felix would be ready for her.
Until then, he’d enjoy the peace while he had it.
Though, part of him wondered if the clash would occur here. He could see Chloe trying to tear into a cherry redhead, but it seemed that her verbal tear down was just bouncing right off, the redhead smiling pleasantly throughout the whole thing. Felix knew that Chloe would get bored soon and seek out a new target.
A bigger part of Felix was really tempted to just leave, but Amber really wanted him to be there.
“You look like you’re having fun.”
Felix glanced over, seeing the small smile of Marinette Dupain-Cheng drawing near. She was holding a cup of punch and was eyeing him with curious caution. He shifted a little as she came to stand near him, ignoring the nervous flutter of his heart. He pushed it down, and relaxed.
He replied in a dry tone, “More fun than humans should be allowed.” His answer earned him a chuckle. “No weather girl today?”
“I’m giving her some needed privacy,” Marinette told him, glancing back to see Adrien and Aurore still talking and seeming to get along well.
Felix wondered how long that would last.
“I’m hoping it goes well,” Marinette said.
Felix opted not to comment, instead taking a sip of his punch, only to stiffen when the extreme sweetness touched his tongue. He set it down, scowling a little.
Felix glanced at her. Marinette bit her lip, looking unsure of how to ask her question. When he narrowed his eyes slightly, she let out, “Is Adrien always so… dense?”
Marinette winced. “I hope it goes well.”
He hummed, not really sharing that hope himself. Personally, he’d recommend Aurore finding someone better.
Chloe scowled as Ondine slipped away, unbothered by her ambush. It's like she came at a bubbly wall and was bounced off with a mere shrug, as if Chloe coming at her meant nothing.
It irritated her. When she came at people, they were supposed to cower like good poor people!
Huffing, she prowled around, sending evil eyes at every single one of Mendeleiev’s class that she saw. Her scowl twisted up more seeing that not only had Amber calmed Kim down, but she was hanging with the group of boys, laughing loudly in the small group (minus Nathaniel, who wandered away with the Bourgeois twin drew near).
How dare she get along with Chloe’s classmates. She’s supposed to be sticking to her own class, not getting along with people who were clearly beneath her!
And Chloe knew that she was just doing this to piss her off, to set it up for her classmates to like Amber far more than her, as if she could steal Chloe’s power away and get them to fear the Bourgeois name less.
Why was she even back? Why was she even staying?
No one wanted Amber Bourgeois here.
Chloe froze when she heard a familiar laugh, looking over to see a certain evil blonde next to her Adrien. Making him laugh and smile, grinning at him like a fox about to get into the coop. How dare she…
Chloe moved to intervene and kick Aurore out, but paused, a realization dawning on her.
That blonde was with Adrien.
And Marinette was on her own…
An evil smile slid across Chloe’s lips, a thrill racing through her.
Marinette was on her own. No one to back her or protect her. Chloe had free rein.
And it was her party, so she could do as she desired.
With an evil chuckle, she started to prowl around, seeking out her prey and looking between the bodies for Marinette. Eventually, she saw her parting from Felix, probably to wander off and mingle with some other fool.
Marinette froze, slowly turning to see a smirking Chloe coming her way, eyes locked on her. For a moment, it felt like she couldn’t move, like a lion was approaching her, claws out and ready to tear her down. Marinette shook herself of her nerves as she turned to face Chloe, mentally reminding herself that she could handle this.
She wasn’t the same girl that she was at the start of the year. She was no longer Chloe’s victim. She was Ladybug. She was a hero. She could do this.
“Hey, Chloe,” she returned, trying to keep the tremor from her voice and fight against the instinctive fear she felt. “Happy half birthday. I’m surprised you’re having a party this big for everyone.”
“Well, in truth, only the people who really matter should be here, but Amber had to be soft and extend an invite to you.” Chloe drew near, towering over Marinette. “I’m surprised you came here, Marinette. That you thought you were worthy enough to be here at my party. To be in my presence and among my wealth.”
Marinette took an instinctive step back and Chloe followed.
Chloe kept talking. “You have a big dream right? It's laughable that you thought you could be amongst your betters. That you have as much right to be here as everyone else.” Chloe grinned at her. “I have a temptation to just see you escorted out, with those rags you’re wearing matching who you really are.”
“Shut up,” Marinette whispered.
“What,” Chloe chuckled, “are you about to say that’s your best work?”
As Marinette struggled to stand firm, Aurore noticed the situation from across the way, her expression now troubled.
“What’s wrong?” Adrien asked.
A furious edge growing in her tone, Aurore frantically replied, “Chloe’s going at Marinette, we need to—”
“Woah, woah,” Adrien cut in, stopping Aurore. “What are you going to do?”
“Put a stop to that!” Aurore snapped. “She’s going to cry if that keeps going!”
“But you might upset Chloe!” Adrien protested
Aurore gaped at him. “What?”
“If you upset Chloe, we’ll have a dangerous akuma on our hands. Marinette can handle herself, this is no problem,” Adrien said. “But with Chloe, we need to be considerate of her.”
Aurore stared at him for a few seconds, then tore herself away. Adrien stumbled a little, about to make a comment for the rough treatment, but froze at the glare Aurore gave him. He slowly backed away from her, hands up to either placate or get ready for a coming fist.
She didn’t even spare him a comment as she turned away and stomped towards Chloe, cutting in with her own snarl.
“Hey!” Chloe snapped as she was shoved back, Aurore standing right at Marinette’s side. “Watch it, loser!”
“ You watch it.” Aurore snapped, drawing near till she was almost nose to nose with Chloe. “If you keep coming at Marinette I'm going to pull down from your high horse myself.”
“How dare you—”
“How dare you, ” Amber cut in, joining the squabble with a glare. “Marinette’s my guest and you're harassing her.”
“She's unwanted!” Chloe snapped.
“ I wanted her here,” Amber said. “This is my half birthday too.”
“You weren’t even going to come!” Chloe snapped, rounding on her twin. “You did this to spite me!”
“I did this because I thought it’d be fun and a good chance to bond with my classmates, so calm down. You’re starting to cause a scene, Chloe.”
“ You’re causing a scene!” Chloe shot back.
“Miss Bourgeois,” the butler softly urged as he neared the group, “Miss Amber is right. How about you come with me and we’ll have some chocolate—”
“You dare take her side?!” Chloe rounded on the butler, eyes ablaze. “You’re fired! ”
The butler stiffened.
Amber hissed, “Chloe!”
“I don’t need him anymore,” Chloe continued, “I’ll get a better butler!”
As the twins started to argue, the butler slowly backed off, feeling stiff and cold and hollow. He slipped into the hall, shaking as he brought up the stuffed bear he had with him.
She fired him. Just like that, no hesitation. Even after it was him that was there for her, practically raising her… she fired him, just like that…
“Hello, Despair Bear…”
The argument was near-explosive on Chloe’s end. Not wanting to get caught in it, Marinette pulled Aurore away and gained a bit of distance from the twins.
“Thanks,” Marinette whispered, frowning as she watched things play out.
“It’s no problem. Just... can’t believe this is happening,” Aurore huffed. “This was supposed to be a fun night.”
Marinette let out a dry chuckle. “This is a party Chloe’s hosting. Something was going to go wrong.”
A voice cut in, “It went wrong because you started it.”
They turned, seeing Adrien frowning their way. He continued, “Look what you caused, Aurore. The party’s ruined because you upset Chloe.”
Aurore raised a brow at him, and before she could respond, Marinette stepped forward, hackles raised. “ I was getting upset Adrien, I could’ve ruined this party if Aurore didn’t step in—” A hand came to Marinette’s shoulder and she was pulled back, looking up at Aurore with confusion.
Aurore in turn just shook her head. “It’s alright, Marinette. There’s no point in acknowledging an empty cloud.” Taking Marinette’s hand, she pulled her away from Adrien, just wanting to get them away from all blondes. As far as Aurore knew, she was the only good blonde around here.
Before they could leave, there was a screech behind them.
“SABRINA! What do you think you’re doing!”
They whipped around, seeing Chloe on the floor and Sabrina grinning above her. Marinette’s eyes flickered down, catching sight of a little black bear clutching her leg.
“Akuma,” she whispered.
“What?” Auore hissed. “I knew there was a high chance of one happeing, but why did it have to be here while we were still here!” She threw her hands up in the air, huffing.
When she turned to Marinette, ready to get them out of there, she blinked when she saw no Marinette at all. Aurore started to look around, alarm shooting through her.
Where did Marinette go?
Ladybug burst out of the crowd, startling the guests and making them scatter. As Chloe fled as well, Ladybug kept her eyes on the bear as Sabrina turned to her, ready to fight.
With attention on the hero, the akuma wasn’t paying attention to Amber, who also noticed it. She came up slowly behind Sabrina as the girl started to monologue, then snatched it up, tearing it away from the redhead and holding it up high.
Surprised, the little bear started to struggle, growling threats in a squeaky voice. Amber gaped at it, starting to realize what she just did. “Oh my god, I’m holding,” she whispered, “I am holding an akuma, oh my god.”
“You’re okay,” Ladybug hurried out, drawing near and reaching for the struggling bear. “You did great—”
Chat came out of nowhere, slapping the bear right out of Amber’s hand. The bear rushed off into the skittish crowd before anyone could move to grab it.
“Chat!” Ladybug and Amber cried out at the same time. He took a step back as the two angry girls rounded on him, furious.
“It controls people through touch,” he defended.
“When it grabs people,” Ladybug told him.
“Well, how was I supposed to know!” Chat grumbled.
“By paying attention, you dimwit!” Amber snapped, earning a look from the cat hero.
“Come on,” Ladybug urged, grabbing Chat’s wrist and dragging him away from Amber. “We need to find that akuma—”
Suddenly, Chat was grabbed from behind and flipped over, Ladybug whipping around to see Felix doing it, the bear clinging to his ankle. The bear looked up, just as Ladybug dove for it, and jumped away, escaping Ladybug and leaving Felix alone. Felix could only blink as he saw Chat upside down on the couch, glaring at him.
Chat got to his feet and followed after Ladybug, creating a complicated game of tag as they struggled to get the akuma that hid itself among the guests. The “game” lasted longer than it needed, what with Chat not paying as much attention as he should.
When Despair Bear approached, coming after Ladybug with no restraint, he was tripped up when Jean tossed a single card out and made him slip. Aurore came out to help pin him down, and Amber grabbed the bear once more, holding it securely as she offered it to Ladybug.
Ladybug sighed with relief. This night was finally over with.
“You’re over Adrien?”
Aurore hummed her confirmation, taking a long sip of tea. “As I said, he’s an empty cloud. You expect a great storm from him, one to truly marvel at, but you just wait and wait, and that marvelous storm never comes. I wish I realized it sooner.”
Marinette nodded, agreeing, “If that’s what you want, then we’re both done with Adrien.”
“Good riddance. And, thank you, Marinette, for helping me and sticking with me during that crazy pursuit.”
“Any time, Aurore. If you ever need help, don’t be afraid to ask.”
“Same to you,” Aurore said earnestly. “If there’s anything you ever need, I’ll be there.”
Marinette smiled, touched as a warmth settled over her. It was nice to know that Aurore would be there if Marinette ever needed her.
And the same would always extend to Aurore too. They’d always have each other's backs.
Of that, they were both certain.
Wooo! Update out before I'm gone on vacation!
One morning, the hotel was in an excited hustle, with butlers and maids rushing everywhere to make sure things were cleaning and lovely and that the hotel will be at its best. Amber and Chloe dodged the employees skillfully, both of them used to busy bodies darting around them. As they passed one of the royal suites, Amber strayed a little to glance inside, curious to see just how royal they wanted this room to become.
They learned yesterday that they would have a true royal guest coming to Paris; an actual prince who was visiting in good faith of France, coming to visit children’s hospitals and offering up donations of wealth and toys. Prince Ali Kowar of Achu was his name, and Amber wasn’t able to hear too much else about him.
Chloe wasn’t so curious about him, seeming smug and eager while hearing that there was a prince coming to their hotel. Amber could already foresee the clinginess ready to jump out and latch onto the poor boy.
Though, he was a prince, so perhaps he wouldn’t mind? Who’s to say what modern princes were like these days.
“Ah, there are, my princesses!” their father loudly exclaimed, delighted to see his girls coming down to join him. The rehired butler stood quietly near him, hands behind his back, and their father continued, “I have your morning presents!”
Chloe stepped forward expectantly while Amber made a slight face. The butler came forward, presenting a white box that Chloe snatched out of his hands. She opened it and took out a black beret, eyeing it critically.
When the butler turned to her, Amber waved it away, stating, “I’ll look at it when I get back home,” and slipped past them, ignoring the frown her father shot after her. Her mom raised her to not accept empty gifts from desperate men who want to buy her affection. Amber wasn’t interested in that and had better things to do than pile her room with things she didn't want. She’d rather make most of what her father got herself, and then she’d know it was be well made, because she was the best at what she did.
Well, one of the best, she corrected, thinking back to Marinette. It reminded Amber that she’d need to step up her game, since that hat design easily impressed her mother. Audrey Bourgeois was not an easily impressed woman.
Feeling pumped, Amber headed to the limo, ready to start the day.
Be a storm.
It's what Aurore was told and it's what she embodied. She was a storm; fierce, loud, imposing, and commanding, leaving awe in her wake.
But how could a storm be when there was no direction? No flourish of energy, nothing to help it thrive and exist in stupendous momentum. Aurore had to admit that she felt rather… aimless.
She lost the weather girl competition.
Her crush on Adrien was a wasteful blunder.
So now Aurore had found herself a tad aimless, slouching at her desk, idly spinning her parsol around and watching the clouds on it twirl around slowly. It was even worse that Marinette wasn’t there, being very, very late today.
It was something Mendeleiev took notice of, having spared their desk one sharp look before she turned and started the lesson. Aurore winced, knowing that Marinette was going to be hearing about it when she finally joined the class. With a sigh, Aurore leant her umbrella against her desk and started to focus on the lesson.
Nearby, there was one blonde who wasn’t paying attention. Amber had her eyes on her sketchbook instead of the board, sketches of Ladybug on the page, different designs laid out before her. Ladybug with winged themed cape. With a black jacket over her suit. With boots and more padding for some. More black. Some white. Longer ribbons. Biker Bug. Punk Bug. Princess themed.
“She’s going to notice.”
Amber paused, sparing a glance at Felix, then Mendeleiev. She whispered, “I’m getting this out of my system.”
Felix released a breath beside her, but let her go, knowing full well that Amber would do what she wanted, risky or not. Like grabbing an akuma on a whim; insane, but she’d do it.
“Is that chicken scratch I hear?” Mendeleiev loudly called out, to which Amber promptly put her things away, having her notebook replace her sketchbook.
Felix’s lips twitched up and Amber hissed, “Shut up.”
“Thank you, Ladybug!” the kid cried out, taking their cat back from the hero. They ran off to their mom, shouting happily that “Mittens” was safe. Ladybug smiled after him and waved, then threw her yo-yo out and swung away. She sighed to herself as she landed.
She hadn’t even reached half the day yet and she was wore out.
It seemed like today was the day that everything that could happen would happen. A last minute delivery her parents wanted her to do before school started, a falling helicopter, an old man walking into the street, Officier Roger needing to go on a bathroom break and grabbing her to direct traffic for him, and now a cat stuck in a tree.
And she hadn’t even had a chance to get to school yet, and was so late Mendeleiev was going to kill her .
Ladybug opted to not think about that, just get there, better late than never.
However, when she landed near the school to detransform, Tikki dropped like a brick and Marinette had to rush to catch her. “Tikki?” she asked in alarm.
She was answered with a cute, tiny sneeze. The kwami cracked her eyes open, blinking them as she peered up at Marinette.
“Are you ok?” Marinette asked, alarmed.
“Hm? Oh, oh yeah, I, I’m fiiii—choo!” Tikki sat up with a wobble, rubbing her cheeks with a wince. “Ok, maybe a... a little under the weather.”
“My kwami’s sick,” Marinette uttered, a panic starting to set in. “My kwami is sick. What do I do? Like, uh, a vet?”
“Can I take you to a vet? No, no, I can’t you to a vet—”
Marinette went quiet, turning to Tikki with big, worried eyes. Tikki smiled and waved, insisting, “I’m ok! You, you three don’t need to worry.” She fell back in Marinette’s palm, squinting.
“You have school,” Tikki reminded, giving Marinette’s thumb a pat. “I’ll be ok, I just need cookies. Cookies solve everything.”
“You really just need food?” Marinette asked.
“Ok, ok. There’s cookies in the purse, eat away, and we’ll see how you’re doing at lunch.”
“School! Yes! Right! School, I gotta go!” Marinette was off, frantic to get back to school as quickly as possible.
Tikki did not get better, which was made very clear while in the middle of a lecture for their career day when Tikki let out a loud sneeze that fired her right out of Marinette’s bag. When all glanced Marinette’s way, she coughed awkwardly, her smile tight and awkward as Mendeleiev narrowed her eyes at her. As the class resumed their focus on the teacher, Marinette reached out with her foot and gently slid Tikki under her desk, where the kwami safely crawled back into the bag.
Marinette anxiously waited for lunch to arrive and was off before the bell even rang, missing Aurore’s surprise gape after her.
“Wow, she must be super busy today,” Ondine offered as she came by to stand beside Aurore. “Since she’s busy, you want to join me for lunch today?”
Out in the hall, Marinette went to the most reclusive corner she could find, holding her purse to her chest. When she felt safe, she opened it, peeking in to see Tikki curled up. “Oh those cookies did not help.”
Tikki shook her head, not even opening her eyes. “You need to take me to a healer.”
“A healer, ok, um… the vet? Do I take you to a vet? Or—”
“A kwami healer.”
Marinette went quiet, surprised. “There’s a kwami healer?”
There was someone else out there who knew about kwamis? There was the wonder of how Tikki came to be in her room… maybe this healer was the one who gave Tikki to her?
There was a cough and Marinette snapped out of it, her eyes becoming firm. She got up, starting to head outside the school. “Can you guide me to them?”
Tikki gave her a weak nod, starting to tremble in the bag. Between rushing through the school and keeping a watch over Tikki, Marinette wasn’t watching where she was going, and didn’t see the open school bag, or that she was heading for it till her foot went right inside, tripping her up and sending Tikki flying outside her bag.
“Marinette! Are you ok?!” Jean cried out in alarm as Marinette drew away from Adrien catching her, regaining her balance.
As Marinette calmed Jean down, Chloe paused from outside the limo. Rose had been sent away, the letter torn up and dropped at her feet. Chloe looked over, seeing something red on the ground, and headed for it as Amber headed for the limo. Picking it up, Chloe decided to keep it, deeming it be a nice little toy for the prince, even as ugly as it was.
She jumped, looking up to see Marinette rushing her way, hand outstretched. “That’s mine!”
With a smirk, Chloe rushed inside her limo and commanded the driver to go. “Bye, Marinette!” she cried out smugly, waving the toy about in clear view of the distraught girl.
“Chloe, what did you do?” Amber asked as Chloe dropped back inside, smug.
“None of your business,” Chloe answered, making sure to hide the toy away so Amber wouldn’t see it. She received an annoyed look but her twin let it go, drawing away in her dumb book.
When they arrived at the hotel, they were immediately ushered in to see the prince, with Chloe trying to inconspicuously look over the toy she swiped.
The twins jumped, whipping around to see some girl in a red helmet, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, holding a box of pizza.
“Greasy food!” Chloe shrieked in fear, jumping into the elevator. Amber was quick to follow her, horrified at the risk of greasy coming near her sketchbook. She slammed on the close button over and over again, and both sagged in relief as the doors closed, keeping the greasy food away. Safe.
When they got to the room where the prince was, Amber leaned out a little to eye him, seeing what appeared to be a sweet boy with bright eyes. She narrowed her own, falling into place behind Chloe as their father eagerly introduced them.
Unease shot through Amber as Chloe offered her hand to be kissed. What was she doing? Trying to make the biggest scandal? To have someone above you status-wise kiss your hand was going to upset people and cause political turmoil, Chloe why .
Amber’s fears were put to rest when the prince simply raised a brow at first, then with a cheery smile, took Chloe’s hand to shake it, much to her twin’s offense. Crisis averted, Amber happily smiled as the prince turned to her, eager to give him her handshake as Chloe went off to the side with a scowl.
At least, Chloe thought to herself, she had a special gift to get a leg up, her lips curling up into a slight smile with the “toy” clutched tightly in her pocket.
In that pocket, Tikki hoped Marinette would get there soon.
After the craziness of the afternoon, Tikki was finally safely back in Marinette’s hands. However, the relief didn’t stop her as Marinette was restlessly making her way through the streets, desperate to find the healer to fix Tikki. Then, she’d have to come back for the akuma, already knowing that Chat was out of commission.
And then, she’d have to get some answers.
With Tikki’s instructions, Marinette found herself at a little massage shop. It was one of the smallest buildings she’s seen in Paris, and one that would be easily overlooked. Coming to it, one hand in her purse to hold Tikki and let her know that Marinette is there, she tentatively knocked on the door.
“Come in .”
With a deep breath, she slipped inside, filled with anticipation. Inside, she found a familiar old man, meditating on a mat with burning incense near him. He opened his brown eyes and smiled warmly at her. “Hello, Ladybug,” he greeted.
She blinked at him, surprised. “You… you were crossing the street earlier today!” she cried out, jaw going slack. This was the old man she saved earlier!
He looked sheepish. “Ah, yes, that time was not intentional.”
“Not intentional? That time ?”
He chuckled. “That wasn’t our first encounter, Ladybug. Do you remember your first day of school?” he asked, voice full of fondness.
Marinette did, the first save she did that year coming to mind. That was him.
His smile grew at the remembrance shining in her eyes, and he commented, “It really stood out to me as a possible hero that I could rely on.”
“I did what anyone would’ve done,” she said, rubbing her arm.
The old man just smiled, looking pleased.
Clearing her throat, Marinette became serious as she approached him, dropping to her knees and taking out Tikki. Presenting the kwami to him, she explained, “She’s sick. She said you can help her?”
He looked concerned, gently taking the wore out kwami from her. “This was caused by overuse,” he told her, watching Marinette reel back, looking horrific and apologetic. “Tikki’s a workaholic,” he reassured, setting the kwami on a table, “she’ll always bite more than she can chew. Just, in the future, be more aware and decide when you truly need to transform.”
“Yes, I will. So, uh, you can help her?”
“Yes, she just needs to be rebalanced. It won’t take too long.”
She sighed in relief. Then with a determined look, she voiced, “I will be coming back, after the akuma’s been dealt with.”
“For answers?” he guessed, watching her nod. He eyed her for a moment, truly considering it, then he nodded. “Very well, I will tell you what you need to hear.”