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ML Fanfic Character Analysis - Alya Cesaire from MiniMinou’s “Lies We Tell (Ourselves)”

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I really love Alya from this fic. She’s flawed and makes mistakes and is sometimes selfish, but she’s TRYING to be a good friend and a good person while balancing that against her own ambitions. Unfortunately her limited information causes her to frequently make decisions that just make things worse for her. It doesn’t help that she’s a bit starstruck by Ladybug and tends to think of her more as an idol or celebrity than as an actual person, especially like a girl her own age. I wouldn’t fault her TOO heavily on that though; that’s an easy mistake to make, even for adults, and Ladybug definitely SEEMS larger than life and even encourages others to think of her that way, since that way the citizens of Paris are likely to feel more secure.

In any case, I really wanted to break down Alya’s actual actions and perspective throughout chapters 1-11 (11 is the most recent chapter published in case anyone in the future is confused as to why I chose that as a stopping point for this analysis). Alya is the hero of her own story. And when her actions are viewed through the lens of what she knows and perceives and believes, they make a lot of sense and honestly? I can’t say that I’d be likely to do any better in her shoes. Which is part of what makes her so compelling. She’s trying to do good, but that doesn’t mean she’s perfect at it. People usually aren’t. But she’s TRYING. She just can get a little lost along the way sometimes.

To put things into chronological order:

Alya appears to have conducted her first interview with Lila back in Volpina, like in canon. Nothing too noteworthy here. She was gullible to do so on no evidence, but that’s about all I can say about it. 

Sometime after Lila returned to school, Alya conducted a second interview with Lila, since the first one was such a hit. Everyone wanted to know more about Ladybug, and if they can’t get Ladybug herself to show up and answer questions, her supposed “best friend” is a good substitute - at least as good as they were gonna get.

Lila seems to have agreed pretty readily (of course). Alya was delighted to get access to her again, but had some reservations about her own motives.

“Weeell,” Alya said, playfully elongating the vowel. “I’d love to hear more about tea. Off the record, of course. And I promise it won’t spill any further than me.”

Lila pursed her lips, an unreadable expression on her face, and Alya’s heart dropped straight to her stomach. Oh no. Had she probed too hard? She didn’t want to come off as some crazed fangirl, or make Lila feel like she was only trying to get close to her because of her connection to Ladybug.

But aren’t I?

Well, maybe a little. But Lila was a genuinely fascinating person in her own right, and they were sure to be fast friends anyway.

This opportunity was just the lucky cherry on top.

I really like Alya here. Yes she’s initially getting closer to her so quickly because of her connection with Ladybug, but honestly from what we’ve seen of how Alya makes friends and how quickly, I don’t think she’s wrong that she’d try to make friends with Lila regardless. I’m glad that it at least occurred to her that her “connections” may have played a factor in her wanting to be friends so quickly and eagerly, and that she seems to have acknowledged that, but also seemed to view it as more of a bonus than anything. 

Because as a bonus it’s fine. Just so long as it’s not the core or only reason.

And then there’s Lila’s big lie. Of course she lies all the time, but this is the one that’s gotten Alya desperate, that has cut Alya to her core. Because this lie involves Alya herself, though Lila doesn’t know it, and just so happens to have similar enough effects to what Alya’s observed (though the actual reasons are different) and uses details that Lila shouldn’t have known unless she was watching the battle on Heroes Day or talked to someone who was directly involved with it who wasn’t akumatized.

“Alright, you didn’t hear this from me, but – you know that new fox hero?”

Alya grew perfectly still. “Rena Rouge?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“Do–“ She cleared her throat. “Do you know who she is?”

“You mean as a civilian? No. But let me tell you, behind the scenes…” Lila let out a trilling laugh. “She’s an absolute disaster. Got herself and half the team Akumatized on Hero’s Day. Ladybug’s seriously considering replacing her with someone else.” She shrugged. “After all, there are much more worthy candidates for wielding that particular Miraculous around.”

As Alya notes later on, Lila can’t have known this unless she talked to one of the Miraculous wielders involved or was watching from somewhere. Since Lila was supposedly out of the country (plus most everyone who wasn’t akumatized had fled or were in hiding), that means, as far as Alya knows, that Lila could ONLY have found this info out by talking to Rena Rouge, Carapace, Queen Bee, Chat Noir, or Ladybug.

Alya knows for a fact that she didn’t spill and that Nino didn’t either. I’m not sure how she ruled out Chloe from spilling, but she may have just figured that Chloe wouldn’t want to talk about that battle because of how poorly it went. Or she may have asked Chloe surreptitiously. It’s entirely possible, though, that she just took Lila’s words at face value. After all, no reason to do that investigation unless you suspect someone of lying, and while Marinette has accused Lila of lying, she hasn’t presented any hard evidence of her doing so. And this story of Lila’s, with her knowing something she logically shouldn’t unless her story was true? Is pretty compelling evidence that she’s not lying. Especially in respect to her connection with Ladybug.

Lila doesn’t know it, but her lie is PERFECT. For her at least. From Alya’s reaction, it seems like she’d probably been feeling insecure about her performance on Heroes Day since it happened, so she could easily believe Lila’s words - especially since it matched up nicely with how Ladybug had been avoiding her.

“Really?” Alya asked, somehow choking out a breathless laugh. “That bad?”

“Quite.” Lila tilted her head, a slightly puzzled frown on her face. “But as I said, completely off the record, please. Ladybug hasn’t yet decided what to do about her, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for rumors of discord on the team. Hawkmoth might take advantage!”

“Well.” Alya’s mouth was impossibly dry, yet she forced herself to smile cheerfully. “Any chance you might put in a good word for her getting another chance? Call me sentimental, but I kind of have a soft spot for her.”

“Oh. You’re a fan, huh?” Lila’s lips split into a wide Cheshire smile, her tone indulgent. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Lila noticed Alya’s reaction, but didn’t exactly know WHY she was reacting so strongly. In any case, she was able to offer Alya a way out of a sort. The possibility that she could get Rena Rouge reinstated. Of course, she doesn’t know WHY such a thing is so important to Alya - I’m pretty sure she just thinks that Alya is a HUGE fan of her - but it’s enough that it IS. It’s something she can dangle in front of Alya if need be. Mostly as a passive thing in the background I’d imagine, but if Alya started pushing back against her, she could bring it out actively as a hostage. She doesn’t appear to have had occasion to do that as of Chapter 11; but then again, Alya still fully believes her and hasn’t made any moves against her as of yet.

Which brings us to Chapter 1 (since I’m guessing that the interview takes place before the start of the fic). Chameleon happened a week ago, and Marinette’s trying to follow Adrien’s advice, but it’s still VERY clear that she doesn’t like nor trust Lila. Has been for awhile, judging by the videoconference call with Lila in Heroes Day.

And Alya still doesn’t know WHY. Why Marinette cares so much, especially since there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence to say that she’s actually straight-up lying. Lila always has a reasonable explanation for everything. Plus Marinette’s disliked Lila vehemently since the first day. So naturally she leaps to jealousy, since Lila DOES tend to try to hang out with Adrien, and that’s the only thing Alya could think of her that could cause such a severe ongoing reaction from Marinette. Heck, even CHLOE doesn’t earn this level of animosity. But there’s not much chance of Adrien returning Chloe’s affections. Lila, though… she’s (as far as Alya’s aware) someone awesome and trustworthy enough that Ladybug, the most amazing person in existence and Alya’s personal hero, trusts with personal information and is close friends with.

Ladybug doesn’t MAKE mistakes. Not for long at any rate. Ladybug’s actions can seem questionable sometimes, but if you trust that she has a plan and it all will make sense in the end, it always does. She only majorly messed up ONCE, on her first day, and she rectified that quickly. Generally speaking, it’s safest to just assume that Ladybug’s always right, and if she’s doing something that seems odd, that just means that she has a weird convoluted plan and is seeing something you’re not.

Ladybug becoming friends with a secretly horrible person, thinking that she’s trustworthy enough to share secrets with that she won’t share with anyone else? Unthinkable.

But Alya knows that Marinette CAN make mistakes. She did with Adrien on the first day he was at school, and with her impression of Kagami later on. And Marinette’s judgement with Adrien can go right out the window. It’s far more believable that Marinette could make a mistake in judgement - even an ongoing one - and stay hostile than it is for Ladybug to do the same.

Everything hinges on Alya’s (well-founded, though wrong) belief that Ladybug trusts Lila and so Lila is trustworthy by proxy. It turns it from a conflict of “Marinette Vs. Lila” to “Marinette Vs. Lila & Ladybug”. That makes a HUGE difference.

Anyway, Marinette seems to have been attempting to follow Adrien’s advice from Chameleon and just let it go. Just ignore Lila. Which was probably a relief to Alya, though the tension would still be apparent. Alya appears to have taken on a trend of still sitting with Marinette, but attempting to eavesdrop on Lila. Like she WANTED to be with Lila because she was really cool and also might give her some great new info, but she didn’t want to abandon Marinette, especially since she ALREADY seemed to be afraid of losing someone she cared about (Adrien) to Lila. So she stayed sitting with Marinette, but didn’t always give her her full attention.

Having to listen to Lila’s lies is nauseating enough, but what truly spoiled Marinette’s appetite today was the way Alya kept leaning over to the other table to better hear about the exploits of Lila’s BFF Ladybug.

There’s only so many absent-minded hums a girl a can take. Okay, yeah, she gets it – what Marinette had to say wasn’t that interesting, just dumb small-talk about Clara Nightingale’s new album, but–

She’s just so sick of Alya not listening to her.

It’s the best compromise ALya can muster, being pulled between her ambition, Lila, and Ladybug on one end, and her best and closest friend on the other. She still ultimately chooses Marinette, but tries to stay close to Lila as well. She wants BOTH of them.

Unfortunately that DOES mean that Marinette gets slightly shafted. Only slightly though.

Then Marinette blurts out her love confession to Adrien, he rejects her, and Alya shifts into Best-Friend-Of-She-Who-Has-Been-Scorned Protective/Comforting Mode.

She death-glares Adrien for hurting her best friend, even though technically he did nothing wrong. But her best friend is still devastated by his actions nonetheless and she DOES want to protect Marinette as best she can. She doesn’t know that Lila is a genuine threat to Marinette’s happiness and wellbeing. But Adrien? Adrien DEMONSTRABLY just hurt Marinette, even though he did the best he could at the time. Marinette’s too vulnerable to protect herself emotionally from Adrien’s clumsy attempts to reconcile and make things right, so it falls to Alya to try to protect her bestie.

Marinette’s still distraught and tense the next day. Luckily, Alya’s there to help as best she can. She can’t make everything better, but she can still be there for Marinette. And she is.

“It’s going to be okay.” Alya reaches to rub her back, and it feels nice, but it brings Marinette no closer to being okay, because she’s not ever going to be okay again. 

Then Lila appears and everything goes sideways. 

She appears perfectly saccharine and sweet, offering condolences and sounding bad for Marinette. From Alya’s perspective, it seems like Lila is reaching out to a girl who has scorned and abhorred her for no good reason, commiserating with her even though she has every reason not to care about the pain Marinette’s going through.

Lila even offers a solution to Marinette’s obvious discomfort with sitting behind Adrien, where she has to stare at the back of his head constantly. What was once a bonus is now torture to her. So she offers to change seats so that Marinette can distance herself from him. Something that seems like a generous, well-meaning offer.

Marinette lashes out.

Lila’s gaze slithers to Adrien’s empty seat and back to Marinette, the reassuring smile she’s wearing growing a little wider. “You must be so uncomfortable with him right in front of you. I’ve been thinking…”

She reaches out, fingertips ghosting over Marinette’s shoulder in some horrid mockery of comfort.

“Would you like to switch seats agai–?”

“Don’t touch me!”

Marinette slaps Lila’s hand away from her shoulder, yet the crawling under her skin still lingers. Lila stumbles back, clutching her bandaged wrist to her chest. The classroom falls silent, a dozen pair of eyes glued to the confrontation and holding their breath.

Lila’s eyes fill with tears, her lower lip trembling.

“I…” she chokes out. “I was only trying to help.”

 

Marinette actually hits Lila, if only lightly. Lila already faking having an injury doesn’t help matters. 

Marinette’s the only one who knows that Lila isn’t genuine here. That it’s all an act and that secretly she’s reveling in Marinette’s misery. Marinette and Lila are the only ones who know that Marinette’s response here was justified. From the information everyone ELSE has? It wouldn’t be.

Honestly, Alya’s response here, her actions, are actually really good and pretty much exactly what I’d want her to do… IF the actual situation was what she THINKS it is. Unfortunately, she can only work with the information she actually has.

Marinette.”

Alya’s reproach cracks like a whip, and something within Marinette just snaps. Whirling around, she snarls at her best friend. “Fine! You want me in the last row that bad, I’ll go to the last row!”

Lila is slumped in Marinette’s seat, crying prettily into her hands, while people crowd around her in comfort. 

A loud thump rings out, and Marinette startles, whipping her head around. Alya is slumped in the seat next to her, noisily unpacking her bag.

“What are you doing?” Marinette asks, torn between incredulous and hopeful.

Alya arches an eyebrow as she pulls out her notebook and lays it down in jerky, agitated movements, even as her voice is as smooth as silk. “Moving seats?”

Alya reproaches Marinette because with what Alya knows of the situation, Marinette IS in the wrong. But she still sides with Marinette over Lila, even though Marinette just “hurt” Lila, slightly physically and heavily emotionally, lashing out when it appeared to her that Lila was trying to mend whatever caused Marinette to dislike Lila so heavily. She calls her out slightly, but honestly? Sometimes being a good friend means calling out your friend when they did something wrong.

Alya DOES cut her some slack at least, because Marinette’s CLEARLY still not okay from Adrien’s rejection. Still not in the mood to hear Marinette blame Lila though when from what Alya can see, it’s pretty clear that LILA’S the victim here.

“Lila did that on purpose,” Marinette finally blurts out, and Alya sighs heavily.

“Girl, let’s not.”

“No, she was–“

Alya holds up her palm to interrupt her, and Marinette trails off at the look in her eyes. It’s not accusing, as she’d expected it to be, but rather soft and a little sad.

“I don’t want to fight, Marinette. That was… not cool, but I know you’re in a bad headspace right now, and I don’t want to add to it.”

Alya doesn’t reprimand her beyond that. She’s not gonna let Marinette rag on her new friend and “twist” (again, as far as Alya knows) Lila into being the bad guy, but she’ll still stay with Marinette in solidarity and share snacks she brought especially for Marinette to help her.

The vindictive words sit on the tip of her tongue, and Marinette swallows them with great difficulty. “Thanks,” she says instead, turning her face to stare at the floor because she can’t quite bring herself to smile at her best friend. “For being here.”

Because Alya is here, and is trying to be kind. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

“No place I’d rather be.” Briefly, her shoulder presses against Marinette’s, and then Alya is fiddling with her bag again, pulling out a chocolate bar and sliding it over. When Marinette shoots her a confused look, Alya grins. “Emergency heartbreak rations. I came prepared.”

And that thoughtfulness does coax a small smile to Marinette’s lips.

Alya helps as much as she can, even offering to talk to Ms. Bustier about rearranging the seating so she and Marinette can sit in the back, something that Marinette was hostile to a moment before - but from Alya, Marinette accepts the suggestion.

Alya’s still fending Adrien off the next day. She’s also just really worried about Marinette, and is trying to protect her as best she can.

Marinette trails behind, pointedly not looking at Adrien. Alya had told him she was going to meet her at the bakery and walk to school together, to keep Akuma-watch. Nino doubts it will do much good and they can’t watch Marinette every second of the day – especially when she decides to just ditch class, like yesterday – but feeling useful keeps Alya from going crazy – crazier – with worry.

She’s extremely worried about Marinette’s well-being and is even kinda mother-henning here, attempting to keep akuma-watch. Alya may not have been happy with what Marinette did yesterday, but she’s still Marinette’s best friend and she wants her to be safe.

Unfortunately, Lila decides to launch a grenade into that. Because Lila.

“Hey, Lila.” Alya greets her with an answering smile, coming to a halt to chat.

“I’m throwing a party this Saturday, you in?”

“Oh, um.” Alya’s gaze darts to Marinette who is very much not stopping to chat. “I… might… already have plans…?”

“Please?” Lila steps closer, pleading. “I want to get to know you all better. Unless…” As Marinette walks past, Lila’s shoulders slump and she sighs. “No, you’re right. It was probably too much to expect you to be friends with both of us.”

“Girl, we are friends!” Alya reassures her, and as Nino watches Marinette silently slink to the last row, somewhere in the back of his mind alarm bells start ringing.

Lila appears to just be the new girl here. Someone whom Marinette has taken a disliking to for very little reason. She’s very understanding and kind, even though Alya is friends with the girl who’s extremely hostile to her for reasons she can’t fathom, who stomps on every olive branch offered her for some unknown transgression.

Alya doesn’t want to shun Lila just because Marinette is. That’s reminscient of a mean girl squad, the members hating particularly people because the leader has taken offense to something about them and expects their followers to follow suit. 

And following off the premise that Lila’s lies ARE convincing, with any inconsistencies or contradictions easily being explained away by Lila? Alya hasn’t been given much of a reason for why Marinette hates Lila so much.

Nino’s beginning to have some reservations about Lila though. She basically strong-armed him into DJing, and he’s seen how Marinette reacts to Lila. While Alya has also seen how Marinette acts and reacts to Lila, she’s missing some vital knowledge; how Marinette looks and behaves when she’s being bullied without recourse. He knows that Marinette’s behavior around Lila now is similar to Marinette’s behavior around Chloe before the start of this school year, when she didn’t know how to push back against her bully.

Alya only arrived at the beginning of the school year. She only saw Marinette being forced to put up with Chloe’s crap for a day before she started showing her feistier side - thanks in part to Alya’s influence. What’s obvious to the audience and to Nino isn’t so obvious to her, since she’s missing that context.

Nino’ chastises Alya over text for agreeing to go to Lila’s party. Alya just didn’t see a way out of the party without hurting Lila’s feelings. When Nino points out that now MARINETTE’S feelings are hurt, since she’s not invited - the ONLY person in class who’s not invited in fact - Alya’s clearly hurt and frustrated.


                                                      You can’t blame Lila for not inviting someone who’s been nothing but mean to her

im not blaming

i’m saying this sucks

                                                       I know!!!

                                                       Don’t you think I know that? :/

                                                       God I wish they’d just work out their stupid drama

                                                       Shit I think Mme Bustier just saw me gonna put my phone away rq

                                                       Alright I apologized to Marinette

                                                      She told me she’s okay with it

Alya’s being stretched thin. She WANTS to stick with Marinette, to believe in and protect her best friend, but all the evidence that she can see and interpret points to Marinette being mean to Lila for no good reason. Which isn’t LIKE her, but Alya doesn’t see a lot of other options. She just wants this over with and for Marinette and Lila to reconcile from whatever caused this animosity so that things can be OK. Because this whole situation is unpleasant for everyone involved… except Lila, but Alya doesn’t know that.

The next day rolls around and Alya comes get Marinette - probably still on Akuma Watch. Plus Alya has a conversation she needs to have with Marinette… which would honestly negate the value of having a friend walk her to school watching for akumas. Though Alya doesn’t know just how BADLY this conversation is gonna go.

“Nuh-uh. I’m not leaving without you, so my fate is in your hands, Marinette.”

Isn’t it always?

This is kinda a funny thing actually. Here Marinette’s probably thinking about how EVERYONE’S fate is in her hands because she’s Ladybug, but narratively it’s BIGGER than that. Marinette has the most information in this whole situation besides MAYBE Lila, and by FAR the most ability to affect things. She has the knowledge and the ability to act on that knowledge to tip the balance and achieve better outcomes. She knows what Alya thinks of Ladybug and that Alya believes that Lila is Ladybug’s BFF. The only information she’s lacking is that Alya actually has good reason to BELIEVE Lila about that.

Problem is she doesn’t have the perspective to really reason through Alya’s decisions and to see what she sees. Especially since it would require her to imagine Lila as a good, kind person whom she herself is unfairly hostile towards. She KNOWS what the real situation is, but seeing the situation from Alya’s point of view requires her to put herself through such mental contortions that she just… can’t. Especially since she’s super stressed right now anyway.

Which means that when Alya talks about the “truce” she’s negotiated with Lila, Marinette has NO patience for thinking through how all of this plays out in Alya’s eyes. Especially this early in the morning.

Satisfied, Alya smiles, and continues. “So, I really thought it wasn’t fair to you to not be there when the entire class gets the chance to go. I understand that you two don’t like each other and want as little interaction as possible. And that’s fair. But for stuff like this, which are essentially group events, Lila has agreed to never exclude or antagonize you – if you extend her the same courtesy.”

Her tired brain needs a moment to process this, and when it does, the cereal in her stomach starts a rebellion, demanding the way up her throat.

And then, just as suddenly, the revolutionary fervor dissipates.

“So,” Marinette says, every word clipped and carefully enunciated. “You want me to let Lila tag along to every event that I organize.”

Alya shakes her head. “I mean, obviously not when it’s just you and me, but for something like this party, or girl’s night out, just stuff that’s big enough where purposeful exclusion gets hurtful…” She trails off, pressing her lips together in disapproval at whatever must be written on Marinette’s face. “Come on. It’s a fair offer.”

“I suppose it is.”

As silence elongates, Alya decides to prod her. “And…?”

“And I’m not interested,” Marinette says.

Honestly, what Alya’s worked out IS very fair for what she believes - and honestly has decent REASON to believe - the situation is. She can’t stop the animosity between Marinette and Lila, not when she can’t identify a cause that makes sense, but maybe she can stop it from getting worse. If Lila was the type of person that Alya believes she is based on what she’s seen of her behavior and what she believes about her connection to Ladybug, then this would be the kind of compromise that would probably work. Because both of them would be kind and decent people at their core who really SHOULD by all rights get along great, but there’s some unknown thing that’s causing them to fight.

Unfortunately that’s NOT the true situation.

Marinette can see Alya’s thought process here. She can see it from Alya’s perspective. But at this point she’s just so done with compromising and putting her own needs and wants on the back burner that she just… doesn’t care.

Exhaling in frustration, Alya squeezes her eyes shut, likely fighting to keep her composure. Marinette can almost see her thought process. The kid gloves need to stay on. Can’t be mean to the recently-rejected potential Akuma-victim with an irrational hatred for poor, innocent Lila.

Marinette watches the struggle with a strangely detached sort of interest. She knows she should be feeling something. Might have exploded if this conversation had happened yesterday.

Marinette has enough information about what Alya’s like and what she knows to see her viewpoint. She just can’t empathize with her right now. Because she’s just SO frustrated with Alya and everyone and SO done. She doesn’t have enough bandwidth to put herself in Alya’s shoes and try to manipulate the situation to one that’s better for everyone.

Whatever it is, looking at her best friend inspires none of the highs and lows it usually does. No warm glow of joy at having her around, and no agonizing splinter burrowing its way into her heart either. Only one thought is left.

You’re not fighting for me.

So what’s the point of fighting for you?

While Alya IS fighting for Marinette, it’s not to the extent or in the way that Marinette wants. Because to Alya, she’s trying to mediate between two good forces that inexplicably detest each other. Or… no. Maybe more accurately, two good forces where one of them inexplicably hates the other and the other wonders what they did to piss the other off. But while Marinette SEES that Alya thinks that’s the real situation, she doesn’t have the bandwidth to internalize that knowledge.

Based on what Alya knows, she’s actually handling the situation about as well as I could hope a fourteen-year-old to navigate it. But there’s a lot she DOESN’T know and that’s biting her right now.

Because for Marinette, even though intellectually she knows how Alya views the situation, emotionally she’s seeing the situation as it ACTUALLY is, with Alya asking her to invite this horrible person who wants nothing more than to make her suffer to her own events, in exchange for being able to go to Lila’s. And for that situation, Alya ISN’T fighting enough or in the right way.

Alya actually lays out her perspective pretty clearly, in case there was any doubt.

“God, Marinette, this isn’t like you. Why are you doing this?” Alya’s eyes are growing shiny, voice rising. “Are you really asking me to ostracize some girl who’s done nothing wrong just because you don’t like her? Is this the type of mean girl shit we’re at now? Do you want me to go up to Lila and tell her I’m not going to her stupid party after all? You know I changed schools to get away from bullshit like that!”

This really makes me wonder what kind of circumstances Alya went through in the past. Honestly she’s actually navigating this whole conflict surprisingly well so far I think, based on what she knows and believes about the situation. From this, I’m wondering whether Marinette was Alya’s first friend that she’d count as a close friend, one who she doesn’t just enjoy spending time around, but who she values closely, who isn’t just a fair weather friend and who will BE there for Alya, and who Alya will be there for in turn.

Because even though it doesn’t seem like it to Marinette right now, Alya IS being there for her as best she can. Being a good friend doesn’t just mean going along with anything your friend says, does, or thinks. That’s Sabrina’s “friendship” with Chloe. It also means trying to help when your friend is struggling. Trying to give help and support when you can, while also keeping them from causing harm while they’re lashing out. It can mean standing up to your friends. And from what Alya knows of the situation? This IS the kind of situation where you’d offer support and try to compromise, but ultimately put your foot down if they were causing harm to anyone else.

Really the only thing I might fault Alya for here is her assumption that Marinette’s acting this way because she’s jealous. But honestly? I think that’s just Alya’s desperate way of trying to understand, to reconcile the girl she knows with what she’s seen of Marinette the past few weeks. Because the alternative is that either Marinette’s changed from the girl Alya used to know, or that she’s always been like this and wasn’t as nice and friendly and just overall good as Alya thought. Which is why Alya says that this isn’t like Marinette and asks why she’s doing this. She doesn’t want it to be one of those two reasons, but now she’s beginning to think that it might be. At least if it was jealousy all of this would make SENSE to Alya.

“Because the one and only demand I do have is that you believe me when I say Lila is a bad person.” As she speaks, certainty hardens within. Yes. This is what she wants, and she will accept nothing less. “That’s not something I can compromise on.”

This is a LOT to ask without good reason. Marinette has that reason. Alya doesn’t.

“Where is y–“

“Fuck the evidence.”

Alya rears back, eyes wide.

A tiny nudge, that’s all it would take. Lila has built a house of cards just waiting to collapse. One transformation into Ladybug and a casual interview with a certain blogger would undo her.

Marinette holds the key to ending all this. All this pain, all this frustration, gone, just like that. Vindicated at last. And she could do it tonight, never mind what Adrien told her.

But that won’t really make things turn back to normal, will it?

Because it’s not about the evidence. It never was.

“I’m asking that you trust me, Alya.”

And when the girl meant to be her best friend hesitates, that’s all the answer Marinette needs. She turns to walk to school, and ignores Alya’s pleas for peace.

From Marinette’s perspective, this makes sense and is right. And objectively, the reader has enough information to know that she IS right.

But from a different perspective?

MARINETTE is the one lashing out at Lila for seemingly no good reason.

MARINETTE is the one accusing Lila of lying without sufficient evidence.

MARINETTE is the one asking Alya to believe that Lila is a horrible person without having a damn good reason to believe it.

If this was the other way around - if Lila had been around since the beginning of the school year, and Marinette had transferred in, and their personalities and moral alignments were the same - would it really have reflected well on Alya if she had sided with Lila the same way she’s siding with Marinette generally and trying to fix things? Would it have reflected well if Lila asked her to just TRUST her that Marinette is a bad person with no evidence to back it up, and Alya had believed her and started shunning Marinette for that reason?

The reader and Marinette know that Lila’s evil. But Alya DOESN’T. And Marinette simply SAYING that she’s evil isn’t sufficient reason for Alya to believe it.

They spend the first half of the school day in silence, Marinette giving her bench partner the cold shoulder. Alya alternates between trying to get Marinette’s attention, growing frustrated and mirroring the silent treatment, only to try again. The cycle repeats.

Eventually, as lunch break comes to a close, she slides more chocolate Marinette’s way.

It’s a Swiss brand.

And Marinette laughs. Laughs and laughs, until Alya’s hopeful expression turns into one of concern, clearly wondering whether she should be calling for the school nurse.

When she recovers from her laughing fit, Marinette collects her prize, because why not, and smiles like a shark. “Thanks, Switzerland.”

Thinking she’s in on the joke, Alya’s shoulders sag in relief, and she laughs politely to break the tension.

Alya still doesn’t want to lose Marinette as a friend. And honestly? Here I’m kinda impressed that ALYA wasn’t the one giving Marinette the silent treatment. Because from what she knows of the situation, Marinette’s in the wrong. But she REALLY doesn’t want to lose Marinette.

And even after that fight, Alya wants to be with Marinette and comfort her and hang out with her, to offer her emotional support and be her friend, even though she doesn’t understand what’s going on with Marinette.

The bell rings and the class immediately starts chattering about tomorrow’s party – where to meet, what to wear and who to share a ride with. Marinette barely takes notice, lost in her daydream. She only starts paying attention when she nearly trips down the stairs, only saved by Alya’s quick reflexes.

They stare at each other for a long moment, Alya’s hand still on her shoulder, and then Marinette is suddenly being crushed in a hug.

“Want to hang out on Sunday?” Alya murmurs near her ear.

“Family plans,” Marinette lies, and then lies some more by wrapping her arms around Alya in return.

Kind of a side note, but I love Alya catching her when she falls and offering Marinette emotional comfort with a hug. Alya IS supporting Marinette, even if Marinette’s not really in the headspace to recognize it right now.

Alya’s text messages with Nino give more insight into her thought process as she tries to navigate the situation she finds herself in. She doesn’t want to skip the party and lose Lila as a friend, but she doesn’t want to go and hurt Marinette further either.

She’s still trying to figure out WHY Marinette hates Lila so much. Because from what she knows of Marinette and Lila, it doesn’t make much sense. At this point, she thinks that it has to do with Marinette getting a bad early impression of Lila and it sticking, because that’s something she can at least sorta see causing this that doesn’t completely go against what she knows of Marinette or Lila.

Nino floats that Marinette might have a reason, but simply saying that doesn’t really give much insight into what that reason IS nor whether it actually IS a good reason. Jealousy is the best reason Alya can come up with, so she goes with that. Because that’s the only thing that might cause Marinette to lose her head for seemingly little reason, from what Alya can see.

Nino brings up that since Adrienette has thoroughly sunk, that that’s probably not the reason anymore. But Alya has a counterargument.

                                                First: lasting impression

                                               Second: if Adrien got together with Lila NOW, that would be like THE ultimate blow to her self esteem

Honestly, those are somewhat reasonable. And it’s not like Alya has a better explanation. Even if Alya DID know that Lila was a liar, it still wouldn’t explain Marinette’s sheer level of animosity towards Lila. She doesn’t know that Lila is actively targeting Marinette, nor that one of Lila’s most pervasive lies revolves AROUND Marinette. Heck, LILA doesn’t even know the second one.

Right now Alya’s trying to thread a needle. She texts Lila later to tell her she’s skipping the party, she’s sorry but she really doesn’t want Marinette to be akumatized, and tries to reassure Lila that Marinette really is a very nice person.

                                                      About tomorrow, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it. Please, please don’t take this personally, I’m just super worried about Marinette getting akumatized! This thing with Adrien hit her hard

                                                     It’s just going to be this one time

Okay :(

I mean I get where you’re coming from

But I have to be honest, it feels really shitty of Marinette to be throwing around ultimatums like this

                                                    I promise she’s not usually like this

THIS is how Alya’s trying to stand up for Marinette. By trying to protect her feelings even when she thinks she’s wrong, and trying to put out fires from the bridges she thinks Marinette’s burning with Lila. Just because she’s not standing up for Marinette in the way that Marinette WANTS her to, doesn’t mean she’s not doing it. If the situation was the way that Alya perceives it to be, this would be the kind of “fighting for” that Marinette would NEED, even if it’s not the response she’d WANT.

Luckily by the time Monday rolled around Alya turned out to be fine with missing the party, since it meant she was there to see Ladybug and Chat Noir play tag all over the city.

Alya’s still being super careful and considerate with Marinette, trying her best not to exacerbate any of her stress points, so long as doing so doesn’t hurt anyone else. For instance, she tries not to talk about LadyNoir too much because she’s fears that talking about romance might bring up her heartbreak again. Something which Marinette recognizes.

Marinette frowns, suspicious of her stubborn friend’s sudden acquiescence. Alya can wax lyrical about the beauty of the SS LadyNoir for hours, and no amount of naysaying on Marinette’s part has ever cut it short. Why–

Oh.

No discussing romance with the heartbroken girl.

Even later - and I don’t know whether this is later that same day or a few days later, not that it matters much - Alya’s still in “pamper her bestie to help her through heartbreak” mode.

“…ave time for movie night?” Alya asks, the cheer in her voice just a tad too forced. “Just you, me, some snacks, and a whole lot of self-care.”

Marinette hesitates, but then there’s a smile in her words. “Yes. That sounds really nice actually.”

She also subtly fends off Adrien, since she KNOWS that Marinette isn’t ready to face him yet.

“What kind of movie did you have in mind?” Marinette asks.

“Your choice, girl.” And then, as if sensing his scrutiny, Alya’s narrowed eyes fixate on Adrien. “But I was thinking something without any dumb boys in it.”

Sadly Alya’s STILL desperately trying to reconcile Lila and Marinette, something which just plain won’t work and she can’t understand WHY. Based on the information she has about both of them they SHOULD be able to get along just fine. So she texts Lila and tries to get her to “allow” Marinette to come to her girl’s night, even though Marinette won’t reciprocate.

                                                  So I hate to bring this topic up again

                                                  But can we invite Marinette too?

                                                  Now I know what you’re thinking but she’s in a much better headspace now! I won’t deny that she’s been super rude to you but I swear if you two could just get to know each other I’m certain she’ll change her mind about you. And Marinette’s not the type of person who shies away from taking responsibility for bad behavior, she’ll apologize for sure.

                                                 Not that you’re obligated to forgive her

Alya IS fighting for Marinette. She’s fighting for her not to lose out on potential friendships, and to not become the kind of person who her classmates will shun because she’s being mean to Lila for seemingly no reason.

This whole feud makes no sense to Alya, but she’s trying HARD to fix things anyway, to include Marinette as much as she can and to keep her from being left out, even though she thinks Marinette is wrong about Lila. Even though she has REASON to believe that Marinette is wrong about Lila.

Honestly writing this whole thing makes me wonder what Marinette would do if she and Alya had swapped places, had swapped what they did and didn’t know. I’m guessing Alya at least would’ve been a lot more aggressive than Marinette’s been, though I dunno what Marinette would do under such circumstances.

Alya texts Marinette and tells her that Lila extended an invitation without any strings attached, but Marinette still shot her down, saying she wanted nothing to do with her. Alya doesn’t push her too hard on that at least, instead noting that she’s been withdrawn lately, and letting her know that people miss her when she’s missing. Letting her know that people CARE about her and notice when she’s not there or isn’t herself, and then reminding her to engage in self-care and not to work too hard.

I will maintain that based on what she knows and believes of the situation, Alya is actually being a pretty awesome friend to Marinette. She can only operate on the information she has though.

Marinette tells Alya that she’d like her to stop trying to get her to hang out with Lila, and Alya appears to accept that.

                                                      alya

                                                      i know you reaching out is coming from a well-meaning place

                                                      and i do appreciate that

                                                      but i’d appreciate it more if you stopped trying to get me to hang out with lila

I get that

It’s just

It looks like Lila is going to make girl’s night a regular thing

I don’t want you to be left out, Marinette

Marinette at least KNOWS what Alya’s trying to accomplish. She knows both the situation and the people involved well enough to put that together. But she has no bandwidth to do more than realize where Alya’s coming from. She has a way of changing things, of giving Alya the information she needs to figure out how to proceed better, but sh doesn’t WANT to just hand Alya all the information about how much of a liar and a terrible person Lila is. She wants Alya to just trust her implicitly, evidence or no evidence. A point of view that makes sense with what Marinette has gone through, but not a terribly realistic one.

Huh. Actually I wonder whether part of that may come from Marinette being Ladybug? Because the whole city trusts her unquestioningly, and Chat in particular will go along with anything she says to do, no matter whether what she says makes sense or not or even whether it goes against what they try to do, like giving up and handing over their Miraculouses. And while intellectually she may know that as Marinette, there’s not much more reason for people to have that level of unquestioning trust in her as a civilian than they do in any other ordinary person, emotionally it still would hurt since she’s the same person either way, even though she’s the only one who knows that.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: Alya.

Lila tries to manipulate Nino into DJing the party for free again, but he sees through her tactics, especially when she becomes more manipulative about it. Unfortunately Alya isn’t there to see exactly how Lila ‘asks’ him to do so, to see how clearly she’s being manipulative.

This incident gives Nino some of the evidence of Lila being a bad person that Alya sorely needs and is lacking in. Nino has directly seen and experienced how clearly manipulative Lila is. But Alya still hasn’t yet.

Nino wants to try to persuade Alya that Lila isn’t what she seems. Unfortunately, he’s not as good at clearly laying out and arguing his reasoning as Alya is without having lots of time to come up with stuff in advance, and Alya’s extremely curious by nature and wants to know what Nino needs to talk to her about. So she ends up pressing him into conversation before he’s ready, though she does at least TRY to restrain herself at first.

Unfortunately Alya’s frustrated and isn’t exactly in the mood to listen to more anti-Lila talk without some very good reasoning and evidence to back it up. She’s been through a lot of that with Marinette lately, who she’s kinda had to walk on eggshells around. She wasn’t expecting it from Nino too.

And while she’s willing to walk on eggshells around Marinette, especially with how much she’s still hurting from Adrien’s rejection, she doesn’t have the patience to do so around Nino, who has served as a third-party to this conflict that Alya’s found herself in the middle of, someone she could vent to and discuss this openly with. Him so thoroughly taking sides changes that, eliminating her main support.

So she lashes out in her frustration.

“It’s different with Lila,” he says. “Marinette hates her, Alya. And I’m starting to see why.”

“Oh, right. Because of the,” Alya raises her hands and curls her fingers into air quotes, “bad vibes.”

Golden eyes narrow, and Nino’s voice grows colder than Alya has ever heard it before. “I told you I wasn’t ready to have this conversation. Don’t mock me for not being at my most eloquent when you’re the one choosing to put me on the spot.”

“I’m not mocking y–“

“Yes. You are. And you always do this–”

“No, I don’t!”

“–but just because I’m not as good at debate as you are, that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot!”

Alya flinches and silence falls as he looks as taken aback by his outburst as she feels.

This has clearly been building for awhile. And Alya can see the truth in Nino’s words here. She’s not MEANING to hurt him. But she’s doing it accidentally.

This kind of thing has been happening a lot with Alya lately. She’s hurting the people she cares about by accident and she doesn’t know how to fix it. Though she at least TRIES to here, calming down and attempting to listen more openly and not to cut him off prematurely.

“Okay,” she says soothingly, and reaches to take his hand. It lies limp and unresponsive in her grasp, even when she squeezes. “I’m listening.”

He gazes at her for a long moment, then makes another frustrated noise. “Look. I understand why you don’t want to have to choose, but Marinette is really hurting over this. Don’t you realize this could drive a real wedge between you two?”

“Of course I realize that!” Recognizing that she just raised her voice, she tempers it to be more gentle. “Why do you think I’m trying so hard to fix it?”

“And how’s that working out?”

Alya is trying and trying and TRYING, but nothing she’s doing is helping and she doesn’t know what to do. And just telling her that Marinette’s hurting and it might drive a wedge between them doesn’t help. Alya KNOWS this. She doesn’t need it reiterated. She needs more information, because right now she’s just being told to choose based on nothing but her friends’ words, and not even about anything specific.

Notably, Lila has NOT tried to force such a choice on Alya… yet. And honestly? If Alya was describing this situation to an outsider, even trying to be as fair as possible about it, it would very much sound like Lila was in the right and like Marinette and Nino were being bad friends for trying to force her to make this choice simply based on them not liking Lila for unspecified reasons without evidence, while Lila’s actually willing to reach out.

I had to deal with a few manipulative friends growing up, the type who tried to use the whole “if you don’t do X I won’t be your friend anymore” tactic. This sort of reminds me of that, at least from what Alya is experiencing. Her friends are trying to make her choose them and throw Lila under a bus and at least implying that they might cut off their friendship with her if she doesn’t. And the reason right now basically boils down to “because I’ll be upset if you don’t”.

Granted, that’s partly on Alya for not letting Nino gather his thoughts sufficiently to actually make an argument, but still.

“But Lila’s not malicious,” Alya says, and cannot help but let her frustration bleed into her tone. “And it’s not fair to ask me to write her off as that with no evidence. She’s Ladybug’s best friend, for god’s sake! Ladybug isn’t friends with bad people!”

I really love Alya here. Because honestly? She’s right. And it’s not like anyone ELSE has been asked to write Lila off without evidence. Nino and Marinette didn’t write her off until they personally experienced evidence that she’s a terrible person. Getting upset with Alya for not doing the same when she HASN’T received such evidence may make sense emotionally, but it ISN’T fair.

And then of course, Ladybug gets tangled up in this whole mess. Well, technically she has been from the beginning, but it’s not like Alya KNOWS that Marinette is Ladybug, so for her they count as two completely separate relationships.

Here Alya DOES genuinely stumble. I don’t blame her for believing that Lila is Ladybug’s BFF, she’s been given very good evidence that she is, and it’s not like she’s been given much opportunity to ask Ladybug about Lila - or ANYTHING - lately. But her priorities are getting skewed.

“Nino!” Alya shouts. “If you’re going to ask me to trust your gut feeling, then how about you consider trusting mine! Ladybug is actively going out of her way not to acknowledge me!” Miserably wrapping her arms around her waist, she whispers, “She always used to – to give me a wink, or a nod, or something. But now she just swings away, even when I know I caught her attention.”

Nino takes a deep breath, hesitantly reaching to brush his fingers along her shoulder. “Look, babe, I get it, you know I do. Being a hero is fun and all, but–“

“Fun?” Alya repeats incredulously. “Fun? Nino, it’s a dream come true! And you can’t ask me to give that up and antagonize Ladybug’s best friend because you and Marinette got bad vibes. That’s not a fair thing to ask!”

“Yeah, well,” Nino says, gaze growing cold again. “Life’s not fair. And I didn’t take you for the kind of person who’d sacrifice her friends for ambition.”

Now it seems like Alya’s choosing between friendship and sucking up to Lila in order to be a superhero again. I don’t think that’s what she really means - certainly as the ONLY reason for Alya’s reluctance to antagonize Lila without good reason - but NINO’S taking it that way right now, and that IS the reason she just stated. It certainly plays a factor, though even without that angle, I doubt that Alya would just shun Lila because Nino and Marinette don’t like her without being provided with more of a reason. But it probably ups her standards of evidence, because she has more to lose if it turns out that Nino and Marinette are wrong.

She rears back, choking on an angry yell. Heavy silence falls, a crushing weight on her shoulders broken only by their harsh breathing.

“…you don’t mean that,” she whispers.

He exhales, shaking his head. “I don’t. But babe – whether you’re aware of it or not, this is the path you’re on. And I want to have your back, but there’s only so far I can go with you.”

God, has he ever looked at her like this before? So – so disappointed?

Blinking back the hurt, she reaches for his hand again. “Alright, can we just – just stop? Please? Let’s forget this happened, okay?”

Thing is, Alya’s STUCK at this point. She’s losing everyone and everything she cares about and her attempts to fix it only make things worse and she doesn’t know what’s going on or what to do and everyone’s mad at her and SHE JUST WANTS THINGS TO BE OK AGAIN.

Alya and Nino become akumatized into Oblivio due to how upset Alya is and how much she just wants to forget that argument ever happened. When she wakes up, Ladybug and Chat Noir are kissing, like in canon. So she snaps a photo.

I honestly don’t blame her for that, either in the fic OR canon. She just woke up and the first thing she sees is her OTP kissing, there hasn’t really been an opportunity for her higher brain functions to engage. Her actions afterwards carry a lot more weight.

Chat Noir and Ladybug realize what happened and Ladybug flees, even as Alya calls out to her.

His somersaulting thoughts are interrupted by the beep of Ladybug’s earrings. She blinks as if coming out of a trance, then whispers, “I have to go.”

“No, Ladybug, please wait!” Alya calls out, rushing forward, but his Lady has already leapt away.

And she doesn’t look back. At either of them.

Alya WANTS to talk to Ladybug, presumably to try to straighten out the whole mess with Heroes Day and maybe to get confirmation that Lila IS Ladybug’s BFF, since Nino doubted it. Sadly she doesn’t get the opportunity. Alya thinks that Ladybug in part might have been fleeing her because she’s mad at her, and honestly? She might not be totally wrong there.

Alya and Nino talk after Ladybug leaves.

Alya blinks, Nino’s voice pulling her out of her reverie, and she turns to look over her shoulder. He’s looking at her with concern with his eyes – probably because she’s been standing motionless, doing nothing but silently stare at the roof’s edge.

Ladybug hadn’t even looked back.

“Told you she’s mad at me,” Alya says with a brittle smile, and regrets it instantly when Nino’s expression grows hooded. What is she doing? She just got the two of them Akumatized and the first words out of her mouth directed at him are about how she’s right.

“I don’t think that was about you,” he says stiffly.

Right now it just seems like everything Alya says and does is WRONG and she KNOWS her friends are hurting but she doesn’t know how to fix things. Everyone’s mad at her and she has nowhere to turn. Nino was the one person who wasn’t at least sort of upset with her, and now he is too. And she just can’t stop making mistakes that just upset the people around her more and more.

And then there’s the matter of the picture Alya just took.

“Hopefully,” she murmurs, clutching her phone to her chest. For all that she managed to capture a priceless scoop, sure to set the internet aflame, it doesn’t feel like a triumph at all.

Will Ladybug be angry if she publishes it? Angrier?

Maybe she should consult Lila, she’ll know what Ladybug would be comfortable with…

Alya really wants to publish it, but she wants to check first. She can’t ask Ladybug, so she wants to ask Lila, which honestly is reasonable. It’s really, REALLY tempting to just post it, but she doesn’t want to upset Ladybug more than she already has.

Chat torpedoes that.

“I wish.” His lips twitch in amusement. “No, I was reminded I had to do something. So, Alya, right? Can I borrow your phone?”

“Um.” She glances down at her treasured companion, screen still displaying The Kiss that would undoubtedly cement her blog’s reputation as the number one source for Ladynoir-related news. Alya rarely lends her phone to anyone, not even her friends who are used to her overprotective ways at this point. Yet unwilling to deny one of the heroes of Paris a request when she’s already on thin ice, she finds herself holding it out toward Chat Noir. “Sure.”

Claws clacking against the protective case, he plucks it from her hand. The slight frown on his expression melts away as soon as he catches a glimpse of the photo she managed to capture. His gaze darts hungrily over the screen, pupils growing wide and round. A wistful smile plays at his lips as he stares for a long moment, enraptured.

Then his thumb taps on the display.

“Annnd deleted.”

“What!?” Alya shrieks, snatching the phone back at once. Nonono, he can’t have–

“My Lady is a private person,” Chat Noir says, both his smile and his voice gaining a sharp edge as he turns to leave. “Journalism is all well and good, but nobody likes a paparazzi.”

She DOES at least hand her phone over, if only reluctantly. Though she’d probably have been a lot MORE reluctant in that case, considering how hesitant she was to hand over the Fox Miraculous after the first time. She still did it though.

She freaks out afterwards, having not had any preparation for what was coming and having the one positive of what just happened snatched away.

And while Chat has a point about paparazzi, Alya’s not exactly in a position to think calmly about what happened and re-evaluate her eagerness to post a private moment I think. She might realize that they were right, but her headspace right now… I don’t know. Because now she’s pretty clearly seen it demonstrated that BOTH the Heroes of Paris are unhappy with her in some capacity. She doesn’t HAVE anyone.

Actually it sorta makes me think of Marinette, how she can see Alya’s point-of-view on the whole Lila situation but is unable to sympathize with it at all due to her own mental bandwidth being near capacity. Really all of these kids just need a freaking BREAK.

That’s as far as “Lies We Tell (Ourselves)” has gotten so far. Honestly after really digging into the nitty-gritty of Alya’s character arc so far, I think she’s actually handled the Lila-Marinette situation better than could be reasonably expected, considering the information she’s operating off of. I don’t know whether anyone else knowing only what she knows would have done better. She DOES need to improve on her relations with Ladybug and being a hero, but part of that seems to be ambition going to her head a little, and needing a reminder that Ladybug isn’t just a celebrity, she’s a person too. Those are reminders that adults often need as well honestly.

Hopefully she remembers what being a hero REALLY means. Because anyone can get a little lost sometimes, but she needs something to tell her what she can do that’s RIGHT. Alya’s perfectly willing to stand up to bullies and protect her friends, but when it’s not clear who’s the bully and who’s the friend? Not so easy.

I actually feel really bad for Alya right now. Because while Marinette has lamented how no one fights for her, Alya’s actually experiencing that right now more than Marinette was. She doesn’t have a friend like Chat to run to and seek comfort from. Everyone she’s close to is mad at her for one reason or another and she can’t fix it, however much she wants to.

I hope things work out for her. She needs to re-examine her reasons for wanting to be a superhero, but aside from that, she really HAS done everything right or as close to right as is reasonable based on what she knows. And that’s all ANYONE can do.