His wishes matched Marinette’s first actions perfectly after the two of them revealed themselves by accident. Adrien could still feel the lingering sensation of her lips on his own, before they were inevitably forced to part in their need for oxygen.
That was the fateful moment when the realization hit Marinette—who had been the Guardian of the Miracle Box for at least 20 minutes by that time—why they weren’t supposed to know each other’s identities. At first, she panicked, but soon switched into her problem-solving Ladybug mode and invited the boy over to talk it through.
Now they were sitting on her chaise, facing each other, and Marinette was desperately trying to figure out what would be the right thing to do. The sensible thing, a solution fitting of the brand new Guardian.
Adrien didn’t know about the responsible thing, but if her ‘solution’ didn’t involve the two of them dating in at least one out of the four possible arrangements, he objected.
“I need to unlearn your identity,” Marinette whispered at last, raising her heartbroken bluebell eyes to him.
“No, you don’t!” Adrien objected.
“I’m afraid, she really does,” Tikki chimed in with an equally devastated expression.
“Identities are to be kept secret. Hawkmoth is going to come after me, since he knows I’m the new Guardian. If he succeeds, I can’t risk letting your identity slip,” Marinette said, taking a hold of Adrien’s hand.
She’s heard this reasoning from Tikki more than enough times to internalize it.
“You can’t just unlearn a piece of information you find unpleasant to know!” Adrien huffed.
“No, I can’t,” Marinette nodded, before swallowing through the lump in her throat and continuing. “But I can unlearn everything that involves being Ladybug. If I name you the new Guardian I’ll forget everything, and we’ll even lead Hawkmoth on. He’ll never guess that I have relinquished the Miracle Box and will still be after me. And that’s a good thing because it will avert the attention from you!” she said with a sorrowful smile. “Trust me on this one, Kitty, this is the best we can do without giving up our Miraculouses.”
There were so many things about this plan that didn’t sit right with Adrien but right now, the sole focus of his attention was purely selfish.
“But how are we going to get together if you don’t remember anything?” he asked in a pleading tone, fearing to hear the answer.
“We won’t,” Marinette shrugged ruefully. “Until Hawkmoth is defeated, it’s safer to keep our distance.”
“You can’t be serious! This is everything we have ever wanted!”
“I know, Adrien. Believe me, I don’t want to do this either. But this is what heroes do. We make sacrifices to protect the world. It’s just how things have to be,” she smiled at him, before leaning forward to press a chaste peck at his lips. “I love you, please never forget that.”
“I love you too, Bugaboo,” he said seemingly resigned, a bitter plan forming in his mind.
“I, Marinette Dupan-Cheng, hereby relinquish the Miracle Box-”
“Marinette, wait!” Tikki tried to cut in but the girl went on.
“-and name Adrien Agreste the new Guardian!”
In the middle of the room, the Miracle Box rose from the floor, emitting shining lights in every colour of the rainbow. The red and black dotted pattern disappeared, its place taken by yellow, green and light blue stripes on a black background, before it dropped back down to the parquetry.
Adrien took a deep breath before turning to Marinette who looked back at him uncomprehendingly, still holding his hand.
“If you tell her that she’s Ladybug as Adrien, she’ll still know you’re involved somehow,” Tikki whispered to Adrien, panic evident in her voice.
“What are those floating things, A-Adrien?! An-And w-why are you handing my hold? I-I mean holding my hand?” Marinette squeaked.
As far as she knew, two unidentified flying objects were circling in her room and the love of her life was holding her hand for similarly unknown reasons. To top everything, she didn’t remember what she did before this and there were huge gaps in her memory concerning the past months as well. She didn’t understand anything and really started to freak out.
“It’s okay, Marinette. There’s nothing to be afraid of. These creatures are Tikki and Plagg, they’re friends,” Adrien smiled at her sorrowfully, squeezing her hand. “They will explain everything that you need to know. But before that, I need you to know that I love you. I have loved you for years now and I know I will love you again if you take a chance on me."
Marinette’s jaw dropped to the floor, cheeks red as she tried to get out a coherent sentence. She was failing at it spectacularly.
“This is gonna be fun!” Plagg grinned.
“What are you doing?” Tikki asked Adrien in indignation.
“Master Fu trusted Marinette with the Guardianship, I’m not doing it. And I won’t hold onto her secret identity while she has to forget mine. There’s no way we could be partners like that. Besides, I don’t know if you have heard me properly the last ten times but if not, it’s time to stress it again. I love her! So I’m not going to stand by knowingly, while she gets together with someone else because I’m obligated to reject her,” Adrien huffed determined, not waiting for any kind of answer to his declaration. “I, Adrien Agreste, hereby relinquish the Miracle Box and name Marinette Dupain-Cheng the new Guardian.”
Plagg’s heartfelt laughter filled the air while the Miracle Box flew into the air again, transforming in the shining lights. When it dropped down on the floor, the stripes vanished and a light pink dotted pattern covered the box.
“You must be kidding me...” Tikki murmured, devastated.
“What did you expect, Sugarcube? These dorks have been running circles around each other for years. You thought it would be that easy to make them forget they are in love?”
“In love? What are you talking about? And what are you?” Adrien regarded the floating black creature with a stern look.
“Adrien, what happened? You just said you loved me, and after that made me some kind of guardian. What’s this all about? Is this a joke to you?” Marinette demanded with tearful eyes.
“I didn’t say I loved you!” Adrien protested instantly, releasing her hand. “Why would I say that? I think you’re a very good friend and all, but…” he stared at her confused. What was he even doing in the girl’s bedroom?
“Too bad a Lucky Charm won’t fix this,” Plagg teased Tikki with a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Would someone tell me what is even going on? What are you, anyway?” Adrien was perplexed and growing increasingly impatient with the gibberish going on around him. Plagg didn’t think he could really blame him.
“We can still fix this!” Tikki decided, flying anxious circles in the air. “Marinette just needs to forget what the real Adrien said, and we’re good to go.”
“What do you mean the real Adrien?! I’m the real Adrien!” the boy burst out.
“I think she doesn’t want me to know that you said you loved me.” Marinette examined the situation, tilting her head.
“I’m really sorry about that, Marinette, but I’m sure I didn’t say such a thing. We’re just friends,” Adrien insisted.
“We both know he’s lying, don’t we, Princess?” Plagg whispered into the increasingly confused Marinette’s ear.
Tikki hushed him away with a fulminant look, to be able to speak with her charge seriously.
“Marinette, please trust me. You just need to say a few words after me and everything is going to be normal again,” she promised. “And you! Hide and take that kitten of yours out of here immediately after he gets the box!” she added, addressing Plagg. The other kwami rolled his eyes as if saying ‘Whatever you say, Sugarcube, but it won’t be enough.’
“Marinette, say it after me: I, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, hereby relinquish the Miracle Box and name Chat Noir the new Guardian.”
Marinette did. She hoped that after that, the flying red thing would be satisfied and would finally explain what the actual hell was going on.
At her words the box on the floor started floating again, radiating white light all around the room. Adrien covered his eyes and made a small sound that funnily reminded one of a hissing cat. When the box dropped down to its original place, a neon green paw print on a black background was displayed on top of it.
Marinette blinked a few times and looked around her room. She was certain, many things weren’t right here. For one, a giant bug was floating in the air. Second, Adrien Agreste was sitting on her chaise, looking at her with scared kitten eyes.
“A-Adrien? What are you doing here? And what is that?” she pointed at Tikki while tumbling to her feet to get away from the creature.
“Honestly, I have no idea, this is all really confusing. Look, there is another one. It looks like a tiny floating cat,” Adrien said, pulling Plagg out of the hideout of his overshirt.
“Good to see you, Princess!” Plagg welcomed her in a peachy tone.
Marinette cringed away, backing to her desk from the unknown beings.
Tikki didn’t seem pleased with how things were going. She muttered to herself, fuming about possible scenarios while Marinette tried to discreetly get her hands on a badminton racket to protect herself from the demanding intruders.
“This is it! Everyone, on the roof!” Tikki exclaimed finally, relieved.
“I’m not going on the roof, it’s dangerous!” Marinette opposed, crossing her arms on her chest.
“And I want answers!” Adrien pressed his almost forgotten claim.
“I can assure both of you that you can trust us! I’ll answer every question, once we’re on the roof. It’s important, please!” Tikki pleaded.
Adrien reluctantly agreed to the terms. He swung open the hatch to the balcony and climbed out before calling back to Marinette “Aren’t you coming?”
Marinette stood rooted in place, showing no intention of going along with the plan.
“You know, the story concerns how Adrien is head over heels for you,” Plagg shrugged nonchalantly before grabbing the Miracle Box and flying outside himself.
“He’s what?” Marinette managed, already halfway to the balcony.
Finally, everything fell into place as Tikki ushered Adrien to get over to the other side of the brick chimney at the back of the balcony, out of Marinette’s sight.
Floating in front of them, Tikki swiftly retold everything (again) that was worth mentioning about being Ladybug and Chat Noir, before progressing to the first task on said superhero agenda. Namely, Adrien placing the Guardianship onto Ladybug.
Marinette only pouted a little at the lack of love confessions.
When Adrien declared Ladybug the new Guardian and started to question everything again, Marinette only sighed and, following Tikki’s orders, gave the ownership back to him.
Now, with a freshly wiped memory, they were ready to take in the detailed commentary on their current position.
“So we’re superheroes and our identity is to be kept secret from the world,” Adrien concluded everything they heard.
He thought that he’d need some time to process all the information but overall, he felt hopeful. He and Ladybug must have gotten along well if they were constantly saving Paris.
“Precisely,” Tikki confirmed with a content smile as her world shifted back to normal. “Now it’s time for you to head home, Chat Noir.”
“Just one more thing before we do that” Plagg chimed in officiously, a misboding grin plastered on his face. “So, now you know that you are superheroes. But there is one more thing that you should know about. That thing being that you are disgustingly in love with each other.”
His statement was welcomed with three different uproars. Adrien looked excited, Marinette went pale because that couldn’t be (she was in love with Adrien!) and Tikki plainly lost it.
“Plagg!” she cried, shaking her tiny fist at the cat kwami. “Why are you like this?! I know you live for the chaos but we just smoothed the problem!”
“Keep calm, Sugarcube. This doesn’t compromise their identity, so what’s the harm? And here I thought you lived for the romance,” he shrugged, before drifting to Adrien and ushering him to transform and depart.
Tikki had to admit, she did live for the romance. She wanted only one thing more than seeing her charge’s feelings reciprocated. Sadly, that one thing was avoiding to repeat her former mistake from about ten thousand years ago, and the chances of that significantly decreased with Plagg’s little interlude.
“It's okay, it’s going to be okay,” she soothed her nerves as she followed her flustered charge back down.
Tikki flopped down on her tiny bed tiredly while Marinette kept pacing the room, muttering to herself.
“Tikki, I don’t understand! I can’t be in love with Chat Noir, I’m in love with Adrien!” she finally exclaimed.
“Well, then it’s a good thing you don’t need to choose, isn’t it?” a gleeful voice came from the skylight as Chat’s figure descended into the room. He squeezed the Miracle Box to his chest as he landed on the floor, dropped his transformation and released the hysterically laughing Plagg.
Tikki didn’t even bother to raise her head, she screamed into her pillow in frustration.
“What? You mean even we mustn’t know each other's identities?” Adrien seemed baffled. “But you said we’re dating!”
“He said we’re in love,” Marinette corrected, an enormous blush spreading on her cheeks.
“This is a nightmare!” Tikki decided furiously. “Why did you let him come back?” she questioned Plagg, floating to him.
“I didn’t really have much choice, he was transformed,” Plagg pointed out, wiping the last tears of joy from his face. “But look, Sugarcube. We both know the perfect solution for this awful mess. You’re just too afraid to take a chance on them.”
“Of course I am! Don’t you remember what happened last time?!” Tikki’s voice scaled to the sky.
“How could I forget? That was your dinosaur incident, it was priceless,” he grinned in a manner that made you think schadenfreude was his good friend. “But you aren’t a greenhorn anymore, and they are the best heroes we have had for a long time. If someone can pull it off, it’s these dorks.”
“It’s way too dangerous!” Tikki said stubbornly, crossing her tiny arms on her chest.
“What happened last time?” Marinette wanted to know.
“Oh, just the biggest lovers to enemies shenanigan of unwritten history. Isn’t even worth mentioning,” Plagg tried to make it seem insignificant but at their charges' judging look he gave in. “Ten thousand years ago there was a Ladybug and a Black Cat Miraculous holder who fell so madly in love with each other that they persuaded us, well mainly Tikki, that it was a good idea to let them become Guardians together. Fast forward a few years, a few siblings have been killed, nations dishonoured and they were leading a campaign against each other, both sides equipped with Miraculouses. Since the Miracle Box has to be relinquished, we couldn’t do anything.”
“This is why I wasn’t willing to consider this option,” Tikki admitted apologetically.
“However, every circumstance seems to point in this direction. Making both of you Guardians would be the fastest way to settle this. No more unnecessary identity shenanigans, no more secrets,” Plagg went on.
“I hate when you make sense,” Tikki grumbled while their chosens processed the information.
“So, it would be possible to…?” Marinette’s eyes shined in anticipation. Her kwami sighed and nodded in confirmation.
“If that’s what you want, I think we can try. But you have to promise to be very careful. After this, there can be no secrets in your relationship. Open communication is key!”
At the heavy nodding of the two teenagers, Tikki sighed once again before making the decision official and by the power of Creation declaring both of them the new Guardians.
The box flew into the air for—hopefully—the last time, and transformed. When it touched the floor again, the red and black yin-yang constellation that covered it was unmistakable.
“So, this is it then. It’s a pleasure to meet you at last, my… Lady.” Adrien bowed to Marinette with a wide grin on his face, taking her hand in his and pressing a light kiss onto her knuckles.
“The pleasure is mine all! I mean all mine,” she said blushing but returning the heartfelt smile.
“I’m proud of you, Sugarcube. They did deserve a chance taken on them,” Plagg elbowed her in the side playfully.
“I know,” Tikki answered, smiling contently as the love-struck couple tried to pick up their threads.
Little did any of them know that all the current Guardians’ forgotten memories would slowly resurface, making the whole mess nothing more but a hilarious interlude.