“Can you take me back to just before you grabbed me? I know how to fix this.” Ladybug firmly placed a bowl on her head so she was unable to see anything.
To her surprise, Bunnyx pulled the bowl away. “Nuh-uh. You need to fix this now, in this timeline.”
“But I think I know how to prevent it from happening!” she argued. “I…did do something out of the ordinary today. I left a present for my crush and I was able to sign it—for once—so somehow, that must have led to this!”
Bunnyx gently placed her hands on the younger girl’s shoulders. “Minibug. I know. But if you undo it, then I won’t have known to bring you here to fix it in the first place—so you won’t have known to undo it, and there’s a paradox. Cast Miraculous Ladybug now and it’ll be a stable time loop. Trust me. You did nothing wrong.”
Ladybug hesitated, but then nodded, determination fixed on her face. She stepped back through the portal to find Chat Noir staring out over the flooded city.
“My Lady!” he cried excitedly when he saw her, racing towards her for a hug. “You’re back!”
She held up her hands in a gesture for him to stop. “I—I’m not your Lady, Chat Noir. Not yet, anyways.” She threw up the eraser and cried, “Miraculous Ladybug!”
Back in the present—her present, anyways, Bunnyx left her in an alleyway out of sight after thanking her for her help.
She transformed back to Marinette and sighed, realizing that the fight and the time travel had done a number on her hair. She pulled out her pigtails and loosely combed it with her fingers. She could ask Alya for a brush when she got back to her friends.
She was startled by the girls cheering for her when she approached them—in all the excitement, she’d completely forgotten that she’d only just left them to drop off Adrien’s gift. She deflected their questions about how she’d done it, intending to just let that little embarrassing moment lie in the past and move on. It’s not like Adrien was going to even care about a silly beret she made him anyways.
But then suddenly—“Marinette?”
She turned to see Adrien, wearing the beret, smiling at her in that way that made her heart melt. Her friends pushed her towards him, and her heart pounded in her ears as he said she was not just a friend.
“…do you like the beret?” she asked lamely. She was dreaming, right? There was no way this was real. There was no way her life could be going so well after what she’d just seen in the future.
Adrien took her hand in his, and somehow she didn’t faint. “What I mean is—I love you, Marinette.”
He kissed her, and suddenly, everything was perfect. The future she’d seen didn’t matter anymore.
When he pulled back, ending that perfect kiss at a perfect moment, he lifted a hand to her hair, gently holding a lock between his fingers. “I’ve never seen you with your hair down before,” he commented. “You’re beautiful.”
Her cheeks turned pink and she made some sort of sound not unlike a squeak. Behind her, she was vaguely aware of her friends leaving, giving the two of them some time alone.
“You…you really love me?” she asked, her voice soft, breathless.
Adrien nodded. “You’re so important to me,” he murmured. “I just didn’t have the words for it until I got your present.”
Marinette smiled widely. “I love you,” she said, finally getting out the words she’d held in for so long. “I—you’re so kind and sweet and—I just want you to be happy.”
“Then—can I kiss you again?” he asked. His smile was so eager, so joyful, that there was no way she could say no. So she leaned close to him for another perfect kiss.
On Monday, Marinette chose to keep her hair down again for school. After all, Adrien had called her beautiful.
And when Adrien saw her outside the school, he greeted her with open arms, prompting her to run into his embrace, grinning like a crazy woman as she leaned close to him. She didn’t even notice the rest of the class reacting to this.
When the two of them entered the classroom, hand in hand, Lila immediately left her seat, walking up to Adrien with her usual cloyingly sweet grin. “Adrien!” she cooed. “Remember how you said you’d help me catch up on math? How about we go out at lunch to work on it?”
“Sorry, Lila,” he replied. He briefly squeezed Marinette’s hand before saying, “I’m going to spend lunch with my girlfriend.”
Somehow, Marinette did not melt at those words.
She did enjoy the sour look on Lila’s face, though.
Adrien asked Marinette to stay with him one weekend. “It’s been one year since my mother…”
He didn’t have to finish the sentence. “Of course I’ll be there,” she murmured, hugging him tightly. “No matter what.”
If he saw Ladybug jumping over the wall before Marinette came to sit beside him at his mother’s statue, he didn’t say anything.
A message went out from Adrien’s phone to the class group chat, a video of Adrien calling them all out for some perceived slight.
A moment later, Marinette sent a video to everyone. “Uh…yeah, that wasn’t Adrien. His cousin who looks exactly like him is visiting.” She swung the phone’s camera around to show two Adriens standing side by side, one of them very confused, the other scowling.
She got a message back from Nino: good to know but alya juleka and rose just got akumatized anyway
“Well I have to go to the bathroom!” she announced loudly as she set down her phone.
Ladybug carried who she thought was Adrien across the rooftops, out of the path of the oncoming akumas. But before she left him in supposed safety, he stopped her with, “I’ve always loved you, you know.”
She couldn’t help the anger that crossed her face as she pulled away from him. “You’re not Adrien, are you?” she asked in a cold voice.
‘Adrien’s’ face suddenly shifted into a smug smirk. “Does it matter if I really am? Doesn’t everyone want a chance with a model?” He walked towards her, pressing a hand to the wall behind her to trap her.
Chat Noir landed on the rooftop behind them, his ears flattening and a hiss escaping his throat as he saw the imposter threatening his girlfriend. He was ready to rush in, toss him aside, defend her honor—but then Ladybug punched Felix in the face and Chat was able to relax slightly.
“Adrien, I’m so sorry I can’t go see the movie with you, I already promised Nino I’d babysit his brother,” Marinette said on the phone, chasing the rambunctious kid around her room. “Chris! Leave those alone!”
“Ooh, presents!” Adrien heard from the other end of the line.
“No! Those are for Adri—ahh!” she yelped suddenly as she realized she was still on the phone. “Gotta go Adrien love you bye!”
She hung up before he could respond, so he texted love you too <3 before asking his driver to bring him to Marinette’s house instead of the theater.
“Stop the car!” Adrien cried suddenly, seeing two very familiar people on the sidewalk beside him. He got out and ran to catch up with Nino and Alya.
“Oh, hey dude!” Nino said. “What’s up?”
Adrien frowned. “I was supposed to be on a date—until my girlfriend cancelled to babysit your brother. What are you doing?”
Nino hesitated, guilt crossing his features. “Dude, I’m sorry. She didn’t say anything…”
“Oh, I don’t think she minds!” Alya said brightly. “She babysits for us all the time!”
“Why?” Adrien asked, genuinely baffled. “Haven’t you seen how busy she is? I barely even get any time with her as it is, and she’s always complaining about having no time for her homework or her commissions. Why would you pile onto that?”
Nino and Alya exchanged a glance, and Nino sighed. “Mind giving us a ride back to her place? I’ll pick Chris up so you two can go.”
“But we were going to—” Alya began, but Nino just shook his head at her.
“We’ve got tomorrow, babe. And I don’t want to be the reason my bro’s having a bad day.”
“Thank you,” Adrien said with a grateful smile.
When Marinette got expelled, Adrien ditched school to be by her side. He walked home with her and her parents, explaining the situation further to them, laying out all of Lila’s lies.
By the time they arrived at the bakery, they fully believed their daughter was innocent of all wrongdoing, and were talking about suing the school.
Marinette was able to keep a clear head thanks to her boyfriend, and they disappeared into her room for a while, enjoying the solitude and her parents’ trust in them.
They were together, cuddling on her lounge, Adrien pressing soft kisses against her head, when they heard the news of Ladybug facing Mayura alone.
Marinette sat up quickly. “I, uh—I need some air. I’m going to the balcony please don’t follow me for a while!”
He let her go, not even bothering to point out that he could still see through her skylight the flash of magic when she transformed.
Chat landed on a rooftop to see two Ladybugs. The imposter was definitely a good one—he couldn’t tell which one was his.
“Chat Noir!” one of them cried in a soft voice. “Please! Protect me!”
“Don’t listen to her, Chat!” the other said. “That’s not me!”
“Please, Chat!” the first one said. “I never told you, but—I’ve always loved you!”
The actual Ladybug watched, frozen in shock, as Chat Noir, her partner, walked towards her double, tenderly holding out his hand. The imposter placed her hand in his, giving him a doe-eyed stare.
He suddenly stepped behind her, twisting her arm helplessly behind her back. “How stupid do you think I am?”
Ladybug smiled as Chat caught her eye and winked. Of course she could trust her Kitty.
Marinette and Adrien invited Kagami along when they snuck out of the Bourgeois’ anniversary party. The poor girl looked so bored, so the two of them took care not to make her a third wheel as they brought her along, hiding out in the rooftop pool filled with plastic balls.
The three walked along the riverbank together, until Adrien left the girls to grab some ice cream for all of them.
“I see you didn’t hesitate,” Kagami mentioned to Marinette.
“Are you…okay?” Marinette asked. “I know how you felt about him.”
Kagami just nodded. “He’s happy with you. Anyone can see that. I just have to hope I’ll find someone who makes me as happy someday.”
“You will,” Marinette promised her.
Adrien returned with two ice creams—one for Kagami, and one for him to share with Marinette. The three sat together until the screams started from across the city.
“We need more help!” Ladybug realized as they fought against Heart Hunter. “I’ll go, you keep it distracted!”
“Right!” Chat replied with a confident nod. He watched his Lady as she leapt away, and noticed a shape following her. The akuma could wait—he chased Ladybug’s stalker.
Hawkmoth, seeing Chat Noir trailing him, cursed and veered directions, losing sight of Ladybug in the process.
Marinette dropped her transformation a little ways away from the park before safely meeting Master Fu.
Gabriel destroyed half his office in anger when his plan to lure and akumatize Chloe failed. Luckily, he had one more ace up his sleeve, one more plan that was sure to create the strongest of akumas.
He sent Nathalie to the Dupain-Cheng Bakery, so he could talk with his son’s girlfriend.
It was raining when Marinette went to break up with Adrien. That seemed fitting. She didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to break her own heart as well as his, but she didn’t have a choice—Adrien valued his freedom so much, and she couldn’t be the reason it was taken away.
“I don’t love you anymore!” she lied, turning so she couldn’t see his face as she ran away. She only made it across the street before she broke down, sobbing on the steps to the metro.
“Marinette!” she heard Adrien cry, and despite knowing she shouldn’t, she turned to look at him. She gasped when she saw him transform into Chat Noir and cataclysm the butterfly just inches from her face. And when he called her ‘my Lady’…everything clicked into place.
The long-forgotten vision of the future, why Chat knew her identity, why he said they were in love…she fell into Adrien’s waiting arms, letting him hold her close as she openly sobbed, her emotions overwhelming her.
“I—I do love you,” she managed to say between tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry…”
He held her tightly, and she could feel his body release some of its tension. He kissed her temple, gently stroking her hair. “It’s all right,” he murmured. “You’re okay, it’s all right…”
His transformation fell away, leaving Adrien there, getting soaked in the rain as he sat on the cold ground with her. Marinette reached for her umbrella, and felt an odd sense of déjà vu as his hand covered hers, holding the umbrella with her.
“Why?” he asked.
Adrien frowned, his grip on Marinette’s hand tightened slightly. “He doesn’t get a say in this. He can’t control who I love. And I love you, Marinette.”
“He said he’d pull you from school!” she protested. “I can’t—I can’t let you lose that!”
She wasn’t expecting Adrien to laugh and pull her closer in response. “So, we let him think we broke up,” he said. “And if that means we need to sneak around to be together—well, we’re both already pretty good at living a double life, right?”
She rested her head against his shoulder, a few more tears spilling from her eyes as she joined him in laughter. “I love you so much. My Kitty…”
“My Princess,” he murmured, pressing another kiss to her cheek.
Ladybug watched with horror as her boyfriend, her partner, her love was akumatized, transforming before her eyes. The black leather of his outfit faded to all white, and she recognized him, recognized this future becoming her present.
“My Lady!” he called to her, his power building out of control.
She knew that it would be set right. She knew that her past self would fix it. But that didn’t stop her from reaching out to him, calling out for her Prince.
Everything went black.
“Little kitty on the roof,” Chat sang, idly swinging his legs as he watched the world around him be set right again. “Languishes without his Lady…”
He heard the whir of a yo-yo beside him, right before Ladybug dropped down next to him. She rested her head on his shoulder. “Silly Kitty, your Lady’s right here.”
He turned to her and held her tightly. “I’m sorry,” he murmured between soft kisses to her cheek. “I shouldn’t have—I—”
She silenced him with a brief kiss. “You have nothing to be sorry about,” she murmured. “This is all his fault.”
Chat hesitated for a moment, and then asked, “Where is he?”
“With the police,” she replied. “They want to talk to us as well—they want our input on how to prosecute him.”
He winced. She noticed it.
“You don’t have to do anything right now,” she added softly. “Come home with me. Let’s get some dinner, get some sleep, and we can worry about everything else later.”
He smiled slightly. “Okay. Girlfriend time now, worry later.”
“That’s the spirit,” she said with a grin. “We’ve got a whole future ahead of us, still plenty of time to make decisions. No need to rush.”
“You—you really see a future with me?” he asked, awe in his voice.
She giggled. “Of course I do! I’ll be a fashion designer, you’ll do anything you want to do, and we’ll have a nice house together and a hamster. The only thing I haven’t figured out is the hamster’s name.”
“That’s okay,” he replied, grinning widely at her. “We’ve got time to decide.