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Lullaby

Chapter Text

The clock strikes one.

“Gabriel!”

A small girl, blonde, about five years old, running full force across the playground. She halts before a boy just taller than her, his blonde hair sticking out in five different directions. He clutched his worn backpack in both hands, grinning.

“Emi!”

Emi grinned as she took the backpack from him, unzipping the front pocket. “Bumble!” she squealed, pulling out a stuffed bee. She waved it above her head, making a buzzing noise with her lips.

Gabriel grinned, pulling out a stuffed ladybug. “Let’s go, Bumble! To save the day!”

They ran around the playground, buzzing.

“Emilie, time to go home.”

It was the nanny. Emilie sighed, returning the bee to him. “Bye, Gabriel.”

Gabriel waved as she was escorted into a silver car.


 

The clock strikes two.

“Emilie!”

The girl, not so small anymore. She was 13, pretty, and popular. She turned to the source of the voice, smiling. “Hi, Gabriel!”

The other girls around her wrinkled their nose. “Ew, why would you even give that sewer rat the time of day?”

“Gabriel is my friend.” She shrugged off her other ‘friends’ and patted Gabriel’s shoulder. At least four sketchbooks were clutched in his arms, threatening to slip out any moment.

“New designs, Gabri?”

Gabriel pushed his glasses further up his nose. “Y-Yeah… would you like to.. see… some?” As he clasped one, the others fell onto the steps of the school.

Giggling, Emilie stooped down and grabbed them. “I’d love to.”

Gabriel grinned, his braces flashing in the sunlight.

The silver car pulled in front of the school.

“Emilie Clement!”

Emilie’s mother, Yvonne, and her father, Francois, stepped out of the car, eyebrows scrunched. “You are coming home, immediately !”

Head bent, Emilie trudged towards the car, looking back at Gabriel as they sped away.


 

The clock strikes seven.

“Mom! I’m seventeen! I don’t need your approval!”

“You are not to see anyone, you are not to speak to anyone, you are staying here until you learn who to interact with in society. That Agreste boy will never amount to anything. You will marry Javier Sancoeur, and that is final !”

Emilie ran to her room, locking her door. She flung herself onto her chaise, sobbing into a pillow.

Just earlier that day, she had done a modeling shoot for a fashion magazine, wearing a blue sundress that rested just above her knees. She had visited Gabriel’s house afterward, curious as to his living situation. His house was small but quaint, and he had several younger siblings. They crowded around her, asking her thousands of questions per second. Emilie had happily answered all of them as Gabriel prepared them dinner. Their mother returned home just a few minutes later, shooing them all out of the kitchen.

Emilie’s mother found out, saw the state of the house, and banned Emilie from seeing Gabriel ever again.

Emilie sat up. Her mother had always dictated what she did, what she wore, who she spent time with.

No more.

Emilie was not about to die in her mother’s house, at her mother’s wishes. She was going to escape.


 

The clock strikes eight.

She curled her hand in a fist.


 

The clock strikes ten.

She raises it in defiance.


 

The clock strikes eleven.

She strikes her window, smashing the glass. Her knuckles are red, probably bruised.


 

The clock strikes twelve.

She throws herself out, glass twirling down to the grass. Her body tumbles to the ground.


 

She’s alive.

She’s running.

Her arm’s broken, her nose running with blood.

She trips, falls. She gets back up, painfully.

Her mother screams her name. She’s too far away.

She keeps going.

An apartment building, its door still open. She ducks inside.

Her mother’s screams cease. Defeated, she returns inside.

The door to an apartment opens. Emilie shrinks back.

“There’s no need to be afraid. Come inside.”

Emilie balled her fists and entered the stranger’s home.

“Would you like some tea?”

The stranger held a teapot in his hand. He was rather short, a bit stout, and had a goatee-like patch of facial hair. He was graying but had a smooth complexion and young almond-shaped eyes.

“Y...Yes.”

He smiled, placing a cup in her outstretched hands. “Careful, it’s hot.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. The tea was rather sweet, even though she didn’t add any sugar or honey.

“I add honey to it initially for flavor,” he added as if he read her thoughts.

“Why did you invite me in? You don’t even know me.”

The man chuckled. “I figured you would be coming here eventually. I don’t mean to sound like a stalker, but I have encountered you in life quite a few times. I believe you have potential.”

Emilie furrowed her brow. “Potential?”

He nodded. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Fu. I have been called Master Fu, Guardian of the Miraculous. I protect the miraculous jewels with my life, and I believe that you are called to wield one.”

“Me? I… how? I’ve never heard about these until today.”

“Believe me. You’re the one. Now, these are ancient relics that must be protected. Are you willing to accept the responsibility of becoming a protector of the miraculous?”

Emilie nodded. “Yes, Master Fu.”

Master Fu turned to his old [record player] and opened the top. “Emilie Clement, you are chosen to wield the miraculous of the peacock. May you grow in strength, power, and wisdom.”

He placed the miraculous, which was in the form of a brooch, in her palm. It glowed with blue energy as a small form materialized.

“Hello, master!” it chirped. “Or, should I say, mistress.”

Emilie smiled. “Hello.”

“My name is Duusu. I am your kwami. If you’d like to transform, just say so!”

Master Fu nodded. “This will allow you to transform into a hero, known as Mayura!”

“A… hero?”

“Yes. You are instilled with great strength, speed, agility, all the good qualities of well-known superheroes. You will protect the city of Paris, and the rest of France, and the world! You are vital to keeping the balance between good and evil.”

Emilie’s eyes went wide. “May I… try it?”

“Of course. But, beware of its power. It may prove to be too much. One must have a good heart and never use it for evil. When used for evil, the power can corrupt the wielder to the point where they are unrecognizable to their loved ones, or anyone else. The miraculous becomes damaged, and it is hard to restore it.”

Duusu shuddered. Emilie nodded. “I solemnly swear that I will not use this bestowed power for evil.”

“Good. I think you’re ready to try it out. Go ahead.”

“Duusu, transform me!”

Duusu flew into the brooch, the appearance becoming more vibrant. Emilie felt a tickling sensation up from her feet to her neck, then down her arms. She brushed her hand across her face, a mask appearing around her eyes.

Emilie grinned. “Wow…”

She now wore a blue, spandex-like bodysuit, with light blue gradients around the wrists and ankles. Her mask curved into a point, mimicking a beak, and she had a half-skirt, mimicking tail feathers, that came down from her waist to about knee-length.

Master Fu nodded. “Good. We begin training at dawn.”

Emilie frowned. “Training? For what?”

“To make you a hero.”

Emilie sighed. “Master Fu… I… I ran away from my parents. They’ll come looking for me.”

“You are 17?”

“Well, yes…”

Fu patted her shoulder. “I will work it all out. I wouldn’t miss this opportunity, Emilie. Peace like this is rare. Tomorrow may bring chaos.”

“So, I can stay? Here?”

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

Emilie’s arm was now bandaged to her waist, as per Fu’s insistence. She stood over a bubbling pot of broth, left-handedly stirring vegetables and a few stray noodles.

“We will add more once these are cooked,” Fu commented from a few feet away. He was busy slicing a loaf of bread to be made into croutons for a salad.

Emilie smiled to herself, continuing to stir. Fu had invited his lawyer, Daniel, to have dinner with them to sort things out before their court date to take custody away from Emilie’s parents.

A knock on the door interrupted Emilie’s thoughts. “Coming!”

It was Daniel, who smiled warmly. “Ah, you must be Emilie. He offered his hand, then chuckled awkwardly, switching to the other hand. “Daniel Maher, at your service.”

Fu smiled. “Ah, Mr. Maher, please, do come in.”

Daniel nodded in respect to the older master, removing his suit jacket. “Is there a place I could hang this, sir?”

Fu took it from him. “Allow me to hang it in the hallway for you.”

Emilie made her way to the kitchen to set the table for their guest, but as she did so, Daniel stopped her. “Mademoiselle… please, would you sit down? You have been through enough stress. Allow me to continue setting up for dinner.”

Emilie, relieved, thanked him profusely, settling onto the futon in Master Fu’s living room.

Dinner was served promptly, with the soup Emilie had begun preparing earlier, salad with mandarin oranges and croutons, smoked salmon with crackers, and a small cheese platter with small toasted pieces of baguette.

Emilie had missed eating well. Her modeling career meant that she had to stay within certain parameters to stay “beautiful”. In reality, she became pale and sickly looking, and had just begun to regain weight to be a normal, healthy size. Though she was still rather pale, she noticed that her face rounded out a bit more as well as her torso. Fu fed her well, better even than when she was a little girl.

Daniel helped clean up once dinner was over, pouring the three of them a cup of tea.

“So, Emilie, you know your parents better than anyone. Would you say that they’d hire one of the best lawyers in town?”

“One hundred percent. They aren’t easily discouraged by much.”

Fu nodded. “They will put up a good fight. You can handle it, Maher?”

Daniel nodded. “We’ll have to. But I believe that a good testimony will be enough.”

Emilie signed. “I hope you’re right.”


 

“All rise!”

Emilie stood, her blue calico-cotton skirt sliding from its scrunched position on the chair down to her ankles. Master Fu wore a black suit with a blue tie, and Daniel wore a dark grey suit with a red tie.

“Please present your testimony.”

“Your honor, my name is Emilie Clement. I am seventeen years old.”

“Your mother is Yvonne Clement?”

“Yes.”

“Was she your primary caretaker?”

“Yes. My father, Francois, was at work all day.”

“Were you taken care of well, would you say?”

“Not exactly.”

“Please elaborate.”

“I wanted for nothing physical, I had many things given to me. But I did not eat well and I never liked myself.”

“You are a model?”

“I was.”

“No longer?”

“No.”

“Was this due to your diet?”

“No. I ran away from home.”

“And stayed with this man, who presents himself as Mister Chen?”

Mister Chen was the legal cover up for Master Fu, so his guardianship would not be compromised. “Yes.”

“Willingly?”

“Yes.”

“And he fed you, and clothed you? You had an adequate sleeping situation?”

“Yes.”

“Your arm is in a cast. Would you tell the jury why?”

“I broke it.”

“Confirmed by a doctor?”

“Mister Chen practices medicine,” Emilie spoke fondly, gesturing to Fu. “He is certified, with a medical license and the proper training to set broken bones.”

“Very well. That information may be confirmed later. Was your arm broken before you left home?”

“After I jumped out the window, yes.”

“You jumped out a window, and fell on the ground?”

“From a second story window, yes.”

“Why did you jump?”

“I wanted to escape.”
“Was someone chasing you?”

The court reporter furiously scrambled to take down everything that Emilie and the prosecutor were saying.

“Were you afraid?”

Emilie hesitated. She wasn’t expecting that question. Everything else had been well rehearsed.

“Was I… what?”

“Were you afraid after you left?”

Emilie began trembling. She sniffed. “Yes.”

“Do you regret running away?”

“No.”

Yvonne began to sob, Francois attempting to comfort her.

The judge, ignoring the outburst, nodded. “Continue.”

“I rest my case, Your Honor.”

Emilie’s mother was next to testify, explaining her faults and making up stories of “little Emi” and denying recent events. She merely testified to faults in Emilie’s youth, making no reference to current times. “She eats like a bird! I tried to feed her very well!” was one of many excuses made.

Fu countered her blathering by relaying his observations in changes in Emilie’s behavior and implied that she was emotionally abused at her former home.

In the end, it was ruled that Emilie would be granted full independence from her parents, and certain possessions should be handed over to her. One of these things, to her delight, was her cat, Toby.

Fu, Emilie, and Daniel returned to Fu’s apartment, moving the few possessions Emilie received into her new bedroom, once a storage room. Emilie was given her sports trophies, her modeling portfolios, her scrapbooks, her novels, her pillows and bedsheets, her school things, her dolls, her yearbooks, her stereo, and her great-grandmother’s upright piano. She didn’t know piano very well, but she knew each key and could play simple songs.

Toby curled himself around Fu’s legs as he set the last box down on her bed.

Daniel gave them his best wishes and left for home after bringing in the last box.

Duusu peered out from under Emilie’s hair. “So, we’re staying here?”

“Until I can afford to move out, that is, yes.”

Fu smiled. “Will you be returning to school, Emilie?”

Emilie nodded. “Shall I return Duusu to you, then?”

Duusu patted her hand. “I can hide during the day in your school bag. The other students won't notice me at all.”

“All will work out, Emilie. I would get some sleep, now.”

Emilie agreed, closing the door gently behind him. After she changed into her pyjamas, Duusu settled onto her pillow.

“Something wrong, Emilie?”

“I’m worried about tomorrow. I don’t want my friends to think badly of me… what if they already forgot about me?”

Duusu glided to her hand, patting it gently. “If they’re really your friends, they wouldn’t.”

Emilie smiled, nuzzling Duusu with her cheek. She switched off her light, drawing the bedsheets over herself.