If, half a year ago, Marinette had woken up to see a Grand Paris hotel room and Adrien stirring on the other side of the bed, she probably would have imploded--in shock or panic or sheer disbelief. She wonders what it says about her life that this is now perfectly normal.
The warmth and weight of another body on the other side of the bed is familiar (because Adrien sometimes sleeps over at her house, when things are bad at home or after an especially violent akuma attack), but the alarm is not. It sounds like soft wind-chimes. Marinette uses the most jarring alarm she can find, set to the loudest volume possible.
Adrien gets out of bed only a minute after the alarm goes off, without any prompting from Tikki or groaning about how early it is. It’s inhuman, she thinks.
“Marinette?” Adrien whispers.
“Hhhm,” Marinette says into her pillow.
Adrien laughs and gently brushes her hair away from her face. The touch is like an electric shock; it does more to wake her up than any alarm clock ever has.
Adrien putters around the hotel room, collecting scattered books and pens and putting them into their bags. He sweeps wrappers and empty bottles into the trash and mops up any spilled drinks, even though the Grand Paris Hotel has a fleet of cleaners at their disposal.
Marinette watches him from under the mound of blankets, eyes open just a crack. Normally, she would have fallen back asleep, but Adrien catches her attention, keeps her tethered to consciousness. If she closes her eyes now, she would miss out on the quiet, diligent way he moves about the room and organises everything. She wouldn’t get to stare, uninhibited, at his sleep-rumpled pyjamas, his unfairly cute bedhead, the cowlick in his fringe.
When Adrien is satisfied with the state of the room, he disappears into the bathroom with a change of clothes. With the door shut and Adrien out of sight, Marinette allows her eyes to slip closed and finally fits in an extra ten minutes of sleep.
A hand shakes her awake. Adrien is leaning over her, freshly showered and smelling of generic hotel soap. His cowlick is gone.
Marinette reaches out, still half-asleep, and runs her fingers through his fringe. It’s damp. No product smoothing it down. Soft and impossibly fine.
Adrien’s eyes go wide, but he doesn’t jerk away. He stares at her, while she frowns at the gold strands between her fingers.
“You got rid of it,” she mumbles.
“Your cowlick. You got rid of it. It was cute.”
Adrien laughs breathlessly. “Next time I’ll consult you before I wash my hair.”
The blankets stir. Plagg sticks his head out, Tikki just barely visible behind him, and demands, “Are you two done? Can we hurry up and have breakfast?”
Marinette realises, suddenly, the position they are in. Adrien leaning over, hands flat on the bed to keep himself upright, bracketing her waist. Her hands, combing through his fringe. Their faces, inches away.
Adrien jerks away, cheeks pink. “Sorry! Sorry. I’ll just--I’ll go find us some cheese. I mean, breakfast. The cheese is for Plagg. Not us.”
“I’ll get ready, then,” Marinette says.
Adrien nods stiffly and disappears into the hall.
Marinette groans and tries to smother herself with a pillow.
“You need to get ready for school,” Tikki says. Marinette groans again. “Marinette, stop trying to suffocate yourself. It won’t work.”
Marinette drops the pillow. “Tikki, he’s so pretty.”
Tikki, who has heard this exact sentence several hundred times in several hundred variations, just pats her on the head. “I know, Marinette.”
Adrien walks into Chloe’s living area. She is already perched in an armchair, sipping at an espresso and scrolling through Instagram.
“Good morning,” he says. “Sleep well?”
She doesn’t answer him. Instead, she looks him up and down, and then shakes her head. “I’m disappointed, but not surprised.”
“You slept in the same room as Marinette, didn’t you?”
Adrien sits down on the sofa. Jean has already brought over an assorted share platter and set it down on the coffee table, beside a fresh pitcher of juice. Adrien starts gathering bits of cheese and sweets on a small plate.
“We stayed up chatting,” Adrien says. “Neither of us could be bothered getting up and going into another room, so we just crashed.”
“In the same bed,” Chloe says.
Adrien sighs. “Yes.”
Chloe leans forward, maintaining intense eye contact, and tells him, “Adrien. Honey. Darling. You’re ridiculous.”
Adrien shakes his head and looks away. His friends keep encouraging him to make a move on Marinette, but he had tried that when he was Chat Noir, multiple times, and it had lead nowhere. He doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable. She’s in love with someone else, though he doesn’t know who, and even if she wasn’t, she doesn’t care for Chat Noir. She might have been attracted to Adrien Agreste back in the day, when he was just a polite and distant supermodel, but she doesn’t love him the way he loves her.
Adrien is fine with that. She means so much to him. He’ll be okay with it so long as he can spend time with her, his partner, his best friend, chatting late at night about nothing and everything, supporting each other constantly.
“Utterly ridiculous,” Chloe says, mostly to herself. Adrien ignores her and focuses on breaking up the large cookies so Tikki can eat them easily.
Alya and Nino emerge shortly after that, backpacks already thrown over their shoulders.
“Alya, you owe me €20,” Chloe says without looking up from her phone.
Alya glares at Adrien. “Agreste. A whole night. In the same bed. And you did nothing?”
Adrien blinks at her. “What? Marinette and I share a bed all the time.”
“I’m going to kill him,” Alya tells Nino.
Chloe rolls her eyes. “I told you, he’s not going to do anything. Marinette needs to pull on her big girl pants and do it, or we’re going to be watching this garbage when we’re in our thirties.”
“What?” Adrien says again.
“Dude,” Nino says, and it sounds pitying. Adrien just blinks at him.
Marinette is the last to join them. Her hair, damp from the shower, is braided into twin plaits. She’s wearing a pastel pink hoodie that actually belongs to Adrien, and the only make-up she is wearing is lip balm. The uniform of a senior student rapidly approaching finals.
“Hey, beautiful,” Adrien says, holding up the plate. Tikki and Plagg fly out of her hoodie pockets and attack the neatly portioned food.
“Morning,” Marinette says, folding onto the couch beside him.
They eat breakfast right there in the living room. Jean comes by with extra food and a tray of coffee sometime after. After studying late into the night with his friends, and then talking to Marinette for hours after that, Adrien has to resist the urge to hug Jean when he’s handed a mug of freshly brewed coffee.
Sitting there together, eating and chatting idly, Adrien is reminded of a hundred mornings spent at his friends’ houses. At Marinette’s, Tom and Sabine piling food onto their plates and pushing day-old bakery food into their hands. At Nino’s place, his dad burning their breakfast, asking how school was going. At Alya’s apartment, weaving between her sisters, trying to forage for food in the fridge, before giving up and deciding to stop at a cafe for breakfast instead. Those memories are warm and soft. Safe. Tucked protectively inside his chest.
(There has never been any mornings at Adrien’s house.
Adrien has never invited them over. And his friends have never asked.)
They leave the Grand Paris Hotel and walk to school. It’s a bit of a trek, but they enjoy the cold air, the chance to stretch their legs after being cooped up inside. In the past they’ve discussed how their miraculous has changed them, amped up their senses and altered their instincts. None of them know, however, whether this new desire to be outside, to see their city up close, stems from magic, or if this--the constant urge to patrol--is just the institution of a hero.
Nino and Adrien are up ahead, laughing together. Alya is typing furiously on her phone with one hand, the other hanging onto Nino’s backpack so she doesn’t crash into anything. Marinette is a few feet behind her friends, admiring the way the thin sunlight shines on Adrien’s hair.
He looks back, waves at her. His eyes are crinkled up. His smile is crooked. Asymmetrical. She loves seeing him so unrestrained, still laughing at whatever terrible joke Nino has told. She waves back, heart in her throat.
Chloe lags back, until she’s walking side-by-side with Marinette.
“He’s not going to do anything, you know,” she begins.
Marinette blinks. “Pardon?”
“Adrien. He’s not going to make a move. He might enjoy throwing rose petals around and flirting obnoxiously when he’s Chat Noir, but that’s different.”
Marinette shrinks in on herself. She doesn’t need Chloe to point out the stark difference between Chat’s behaviour before and after he found out she was Ladybug. “I know.”
Chloe makes a frustrated noise in the back of her throat. “He won’t make a move because it’s too much for him when he’s Adrien. He won’t risk losing you. You know how he is about losing people.”
“I know,” Marinette says again, “but ...”
“Dupain-Cheng.” Chloe’s eyes are blazing. “Ask him to prom. Ask him soon, or I will.”
“I thought you were going to ask your dad’s intern? Don’t you have a crush on her?”
Chloe huffs and looks away, trying to hide her sudden blush. “I do, and I was, but I can just as easily ask her to be my date to one of father’s parties. Adrien and I would look stunning in coordinated outfits. And if he and I go as friends, then you can’t use this opportunity to ask him to be your date.”
Marinette almost swallows her tongue at the word ‘date.’ “I’m not--I don’t know why you think--”
“Marinette, I know you’ve been daydreaming about going to prom with him since our class started planning it. Really, you probably started thinking about it the day after you met him.”
And--she’s not wrong. When Rose first broached the idea with the class, the image of Adrien in a pink tie had flashed in her mind, but. But.
“Marinette,” Chloe says again. “He likes you. I know it’s difficult to see stuff like that sometimes beneath all your--” She stops and makes a face, as though she’s thinking about how mean she wants to be, before finally deciding not to be cruel. It’s a familiar expression. “--anxiety, but he really does love you.”
When the school comes into view, Chloe abandons her. She jogs to catch up with the others, effortlessly graceful in her low heels, shoving herself in between Nino and Adrien. Marinette doesn’t catch what she says, but it makes Adrien pause. And then stop.
“What did Chloe say?” Marinette demands when Adrien is beside her. Alya must have caught on to Chloe’s plan, because she has pocketed her phone and grabbed Nino by the jacket, dragging him up the stairs after Chloe.
“She asked what my favourite shade of pink was,” Adrien says. “And then she said something about a design you’ve been working on for a while. I didn’t know you were working on anything right now. Do you want me to model for you again?”
Marinette fights to keep her attention focused on the now, on the school steps teeming with students. If she thinks about afternoons spent hauled up in her room with Adrien, sewing and pinning and adjusting her designs, while he watches her, endlessly patient, just enjoying being together; if she thinks about the way he looks when he wears her designs, so delighted and proud, a vision even when wearing her sloppiest seams; if she thinks about the sketch of a tea length pink gown and a suit with a matching pink tie that has been in her sketchbook for months, just waiting to be brought to life, then--then--
“It’s the colour of your purse,” Adrien says, while Marinette struggles to pull her thoughts together. “That soft colour that’s all over your room? It’s my favourite shade of pink, because it’s your favourite.”
But that’s not her favourite shade of pink. She prefers the dusty pink of Adrien’s cheeks when she gets too close, when she says something that catches him off guard. It’s an impossible colour to recreate, though. Marinette knows. She’s tried.
“Would you want to wear it?” Marinette asks.
She knows how he looks against the pink of her chaise, lounging on a rare day off, nodding off to the thrum of her sewing machine. She knows how he looks with her purse looped over his arm, murmuring to Tikki. She knows how he looks wearing her designs, or standing against her walls, or squeezing into one of her pink sweaters.
But this is different, somehow.
“A pink tie,” she begins, “to match a pink dress.”
“A pink prom dress,” she says. “Adrien, will you--”
“Oh,” he says. “Oh! Yes.” His eyes are wide. There’s her minou, she thinks. There’s her Adrien, rocking back onto his toes, wearing that brilliant crooked smile.
But the joy is gone as fast it comes. He swallows, and asks, “But do you mean … Are you asking me to go with you as your friend, or--”
“As my date,” Marinette says, as firmly as she can manage. “Will you go to prom with me as my date, Adrien?”
Adrien throws his arms around her waist and pulls her into a hug. Her feet leave the ground. His laughter, echoing in her ears, makes all her nervousness fall away, and she wonders why she was ever scared of him, Adrien, her minou.
“Yes,” Adrien says into her hair. “Yes, Marinette.”