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What the future holds, we'll never know

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21st of January, 1h after the reveal

 

 

Marinette stood in front of the bistro door, pacing. Pretending to look at the menu, pretending to think of what to choose, pretending that everything was absolutely normal and fine and this was just a perfectly normal day.

 

It was, however, not normal nor fine inside her head.

 

She had to push that door. She was already a good half an hour late and it wouldn’t do good to make her friends wait longer—excuses were harder and harder to explain the more she shied away.

 

Please, don’t be here. She never thought she would hope for that. Please have your bodyguard bring you home. Your father forcing you to go home.

 

Please, go home by yourself and find some stupid excuse.

 

She would feel bad for having all these unfair hopes if she hadn't been feeling completely panicked inside.

 

Her phone vibrated in her pocket. Gulping, she chanced a glance at it.

 

Alya

girl where are u?? we’re waiting to order!

 

Well. She couldn’t delay for much longer. Taking a deep breath, Marinette pushed the door open and scanned the room.

 

Please, please don’t be inside.

 

She wasn’t being fair, she knew that—it wasn’t his fault if she didn’t feel like facing him. 

 

“Marinette!”

 

She turned in the direction of her name where Alya was waving at her, hand held up high, while Nino was grinning and— he was there.  

 

Swallowing—though her mouth had been dry for a while now—Marinette headed towards them despite her legs screaming at her to turn around and run as fast as possible away from here.

 

“H-hey,” she stuttered, “sorry for...for being late.”

 

She sat next to Adrien (because of course she had to be seated next to him). Their eyes met for a split second and he gave her a timid smile that she couldn’t return.

 

“It’s fine,” Alya waved off, “the most important thing is that you’re here now! But quick, choose what you want to eat, I’m staaarving!”

 

She, for one, clearly wasn’t.

 

Adrien was giving her quick glances and she tried her best to ignore him.

 

It was him, it was him, it was him.  

 

And it was oh so unfair. She picked up her menu to hide her face as tears threatened to escape the corners of her eyes.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

5th of October, 108 days before the reveal

 

 

“Try that.”

 

Marinette turned around, abandoning the search for her size amongst the many red skirts on the clothes rail.

 

Adrien was holding a tacky glittery dress, reflecting  the light of a multitude of disharmonious colours, supporting two red fabric-flowers on each shoulder straps. It was positively horrendous, the kind of clothes you wonder who would ever buy when passing in front of it in the store.

 

She looked up to Adrien’s innocent smile and had to bite down the disgusted expression she suspected she must have shown for a split second. She hoped he hadn’t noticed—the last thing she wanted was to offend him. Growing-up in the fashion industry didn’t make him a good judge in the field, it seemed.

 

“I… You want me to...to try that on?” she stammered.

 

He gave her a nod, humming enthusiastically.

 

Maybe it was the kind of dress Adrien saw on girls at fashion shows, and she just hadn't seen it before. Maybe he liked it on them. 

 

Maybe he would find her pretty in it.

 

Against her better judgement (because her judgement was always lost when it came to him, wasn’t it?), Marinette stretched a hand towards the piece of clothing, gulping. She raised her eyes to his, offering a tight smile.

 

Adrien’s mouth twitched, and his eyes held a new mischievous glint that hadn’t been there a few seconds ago.

 

“You...you’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?” she said, deflating.

 

He burst out laughing, a genuine, happy laugh that reminded her of a certain day in the rain, and she couldn’t help but smile despite herself.

 

“You should have seen your face!”

 

He hadn't made fun of her in a while—in fact, he hadn’t laughed at her since that day, in the rain. The thought of him being comfortable enough with her to allow himself to do it again made her cheeks heat up.

 

“I could...I could call your bodyguard or...or your dad! Yes! I could call your dad and out you, you know!” she threatened, fighting back the nerves that always messed up her words when she spoke to him.

 

She wouldn’t mess up today.

 

It stopped Adrien momentarily and suddenly he was pleading her, begging with joined hands.

 

“Marinette,” he said, and he did sound serious—she would have been convinced had his eyes not looked a tad too much like a kicked puppy’s, “please, you can’t do that. Please please please please, I’m sorry for ruining your shopping day and running into you and insisting to tag along and—”

 

Marinette giggled. “I’ll wear it,” she said, snatching the terrible (terrible!!) dress from his hands, careful to not brush his fingers and make it awkward. “Because unlike you who’s trying to hide, I’m no coward.”

 

Adrien straightened up. “I’m no coward either!”

 

She could feel her heart beating erratically in her chest. She wasn’t nervous. She wasn’t gonna be nervous when talking to Adrien. Not again. Not this time. She could banter with him—this was known territory. Not with him though, never with him, but…

 

“Okay,” she crossed her arms. Her eyes scanned  the different clothing items before landing on a pink plastic fur dress on a mannequin. “Prove it.”

 

He choked on a laugh before grinning at her. “Oh, you’re so on.”

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

16th of November, 66 days before the reveal

 

 

Adrien opened his diary, ready to write down the homework of the day Mrs Bustier was dictating.

 

The sound of ruffling papers and rummaging in bags filled the classroom, but he tried to focus on one sound in particular, resisting the urge to smile.

 

Any moment now.

 

Just a little longer before—

 

A loud groan resonated from behind him, and this time he let the grin slip onto his face, thankful that she couldn’t see it.

 

“What’s wrong?” Alya’s whisper made its way to his ears.

 

“Someone drew me with a towel on the head, swimming glasses and an ugly party dress!”

 

Adrien couldn’t help the snort that escaped him. 

 

Teasing Marinette, he found, was very entertaining. He didn’t know exactly when he started to feel comfortable enough to do it. Didn’t know what exactly it was that was making it deliciously familiar yet all so new—and above all, warm. 

 

Her reaction had been worth the wait. He silently delighted in the way she battled between raging against him and finding him hilarious (because with the way she giggled, or stammered, or even bit her lips the few times he had joked with her, before getting ahold of herself and teasing back, she had to find him hilarious, right?).

 

He guessed he deserved the ruler slap he received on the head.

 

Yes, Adrien liked her reactions, he thought while rubbing his head. He liked that new, teasing dynamic he’d been having with her for a couple of weeks now. He liked it.

 

But above all, he loved—

 

Adrien let a soft fond smile pull at his lips when he opened his diary that evening, once seated at his desk. A drawing quickly scribbled in the margin lit up by his many computer screens welcomed him of what he assumed was a new Gabriel ad featuring him in an atrocious fur dress coloured in fluro pink highlighter.

 

Above all, he loved her witty and sneaky comebacks.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

8th of December, 44 days before the reveal

 

 

“What are you thinking about?”

 

Ladybug saw a smile stretch across her partner’s lips. He let out a fond chuckle, throwing his head up towards the sky. His eyes were closed, but she could tell that he was seeing more stars that way than if they had been opened looking up at the Parisian sky. She envied him a little.

 

“I’m thinking,” he simply said. 

 

And didn’t say anything after that.

 

She waited a little, just in case, but he remained silent. His feet dangled above the edge of the roof and he started gently swinging his legs one after the other. He let out a breathless giggle, as if he couldn’t control it, and hummed a song her ears caught only because of the wind blowing towards her.

 

Her heart did a somersault in her chest at the sight. She felt a weird mix of emotions, not unpleasant but not entirely enjoyable either, bittersweetness and happiness mingling together. 

 

He did look happy—but tonight it felt like she wasn’t a part of it. That he was in his own bubble of joy, a bubble she once had complete control over but, in that instant, was slipping through her fingers. If she was being honest, it had been slowly and subtly escaping her for a while now.

 

He was in love, she realised. Her gaze on him softened, before she turned away from him to look towards the sky, too, and exhaled a puff of hot air that dissipated in the cold and continued to grow as she joined him in his humming, closing her eyes.

 

If she wasn’t the one he was shining for tonight, she would still share that moment of exhilaration with him. 

 

Besides, she had reasons to feel giddy herself too.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

29th of December, 23 days before the reveal

 

 

“Hey.” Plagg’s voice wasn’t loud enough to pull Adrien out of his reverie completely, but enough to bring the cloud he was on a little bit back down to Earth. “You’ve been staring at the ceiling for the past twenty minutes now. What’s up?”

 

Adrien let the thread of his lucky charm pass through his fingers, feeling the beads between them rolling from one to another. “I have?”

 

Plagg stayed silent for a few seconds. “Yes. Are you alright?”

 

Adrien chuckled. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I am.” I have been for a little while now, he didn’t say.

 

Suddenly, he got up, walked towards his computer, picked up his phone from his desk and opened Instagram. His fingers quickly found Marinette’s name and pressed her icon to see her latest story. He smiled as a selfie of her and Alya appeared, and played it again once it was over.

 

“Ah. I see.” Adrien hadn’t noticed Plagg flying above his shoulder but he couldn’t care less. “You like her?”

 

“I love her,” he simply corrected.

 

“Really?! Planning on asking her out? Sweeping her off her feet?”

 

Adrien shook his head, chuckling. He put his phone back on his desk and let himself fall further in his seat, pushing his feet against the desk leg to propel himself back. 

 

Marinette, Marinette, Marinette.

 

“We’ll see,” he stretched his arms above his head. “We’ll see what happens and when I feel that the time is right. I don’t want to mess it up. Not this time.”

 

Not with her.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

11th of January, 10 days before the reveal

 

 

When she found Adrien waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs that morning, blushing, a hand rubbing the back of his neck, the other holding a yellow rose with red tips on the petals and stammering a simple yet powerful “I think I love you”, Marinette was glad she had been on time for school for once.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

21st of January, 1h before the reveal

 

 

“I can’t believe you made me wake up at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning,” Marinette shook her head.

 

Adrien laughed and held her hand tighter as he pulled her along with him, striding alongside the Seine. “But you have to admit that it was worth it.”

 

Spending time with you is worth the world, she thought. I could wake up at five if that’s what you wanted. She didn’t say any of that out loud. They had only barely started dating, after all. It could scare him off.

 

Instead, she let half a smile pull at her lips. “I suppose.”

 

Adrien stopped in his tracks and turned to her. “It was worth it! It just snowed during the night—for once! It’s so rare, we have to enjoy it! And the sunrise was beautiful!”

 

She crossed her arms, pretending to think about it and evaluate her morning.

 

“It was,” Adrien insisted, pleaded for her to agree.

 

“Fine,” she conceded, giggling. “It was beautiful. I’m glad you forced me out of bed.”

 

She was rewarded by a brilliant smile, that melted her heart despite the cold January air on her cheeks, and a kiss on her forehead (that melted her whole).

 

A giddy laugh escaped her and she couldn’t help but kiss his nose, making him giggle, the sound sweeter than the glockenspiel a busker was playing a few meters away.

 

Adrien’s cheeks were red when she pulled away—from the cold or from her kiss, she didn’t know, but she hoped for the latter. She decided to grab his winter hat, leaving his hair all messy on top and wide eyes of outraged shock on his face. Adrien, she had realised, really liked when she was messing with him and she berated herself for never having dared to do such a thing before.

 

In retaliation, he grabbed her own hat and put it on his head. “Jokes on you,” he said, “now I have a pink pompom while you have a lame black one!”

 

She laughed as she put his hat on her own head. He likes me, she chanted in her head. He loves me even. He loves me, he loves me, and I love him. All was well that day. All was perfect.

 

“When are we meeting up with Alya and Nino for lunch, again?”

 

“I think we still have an hour,” Adrien replied.

 

It felt like nothing could disrupt their date, their day, them, really.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

21st of January, the reveal

 

 

Accidents were stupid, most of the time. One second of miscalculation, one careless mistake and every neatly protected secret could be disrupted forever.

 

Detransforming in the same alleway was probably the stupidest, lamest and most careless way to reveal their identities, Marinette and Adrien thought, as they faced each other with wide eyes and heart beating too fast in their rib cages with their kwamis hanging incriminatingly at their side.

 

Marinette didn’t think. She ran.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

21st of January, 1h30 after the reveal

 

 

To say the atmosphere was awkward was an understatement. They were barely glancing at each other, passing each other the salt without brushing a finger or looking where they handed it.

 

Marinette overfilled Adrien’s glass when pouring him some water; Adrien startled when Marinette’s hand accidentally brushed his arm while trying to clean his table up.

 

They were a mess.

 

In a way, Marinette was glad that Alya and Nino were here to provide distraction.

 

She just hoped they wouldn’t notice the tension between her and Adrien. 

 

“So, how have you two lovebirds been doing? Still in the chummy-chummy phase?”

 

So much for that. There was an awkward silence, none of them knowing what to really say.

 

“Sure,” she decided to take the plunge and ate a mouthful of fries so she wouldn’t have to explain further.

 

Alya and Nino said nothing, looking between the two of them. 

 

“We’ve been, uh…we went walking around the Seine this morning,” Adrien mumbled. “To see the snow and, uh…”

 

“Oh, that reminds me,” Marinette cut. She couldn’t believe she was managing to talk to him. “Y-your...your winter hat.”

 

She handed it to him and Adrien looked at it for a few seconds before taking it back, his face crumbling and disheartened.

 

“...Thanks. Um, here is yours, I suppose.”

 

Marinette closed her eyes tight as she snatched her hat from his hands, feeling nauseous all of a sudden.

 

Where did they stand, now? They had barely even started dating. Could they brush off the massive new developments that were their identities? Could superheroes even date?

 

White flashed before her eyes. Her heart did a somersault, and the nausea intensified, making her head spin.

 

Stupid. Idiot, superheroes couldn’t date, least of all her and Adrien.

 

It was unfair that she was having these thoughts now, when she still didn’t know what was going on in her head—Adrien, Chat Noir, her partner. The same… so similar yet so different.

 

He had given her a rose when he had confessed. It was such a Chat Noir thing to do...she should have known.

 

They were the same person and it was awkward and she needed time she didn’t get the luxury to have. The second she thought she had acknowledged this information, it would all come back the next with the panic accompanying it.

 

The silence following must have been long and heavy because Alya took in a sharp breath. “Okay. What’s going on between you two? You’ve been acting awkward since we’ve got here.”

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

23rd of January, 2 days after the reveal

 

 

“So, this is it?”

 

Adrien felt the knot in his throat tighten a little more and more as Marinette kept looking to the side, silent, avoiding his gaze. He didn’t know why he asked; he knew the answer. And he knew that hearing it would cut like a knife, but maybe that’s what he needed instead of foolishly pretending there was hope.

 

“This...this is it,” she finally said in a breath.

 

He swallowed. “Okay.”

 

“Okay,” she repeated.

 

“I… okay.” Okay. Because what could he say? It wasn’t like he could decide for her.

 

If it was only on him, of course he wouldn’t want anything to end. Of course he would fight for them, and try and see where they’d go, identities be damned because...well, it was still them, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?

 

“I’m sorry. I...I really am. It’s just… It’s…” Marinette sighed. “It’s just that it’s a lot to take in, you know?”

 

She had finally raised her eyes to his, and Adrien had to fight back tears; maybe it would have been better if she had continued to avoid him.

 

So he was the one to turn his eyes away this time.

 

“I guess,” he couldn’t help the bitterness in his voice to show through. “I just...I didn’t know it would be so bad.”

 

“It’s not! It’s not that! It’s just that… we still...we still need to get used to this,” she gestured between them, “and… superheroes ca—”

 

“—can’t date, I know. I understand. I mean—not completely, but... I get it.”

 

And he did; really, he did get it.

 

It was selfish of him, probably, to not want things to stop. He found that it was also maybe a little selfish of her to want them to.

 

None of them had decided to be heroes—and yet they had to bear the consequences of such a responsibility.

 

Looking back at her, she had now dropped down her eyes and wasn’t watching him anymore. A strong gust of wind blew on the balcony, making Marinette’s hair wave with it.

 

“It’s getting late,” Adrien spoke. “And you’re freezing out here. I should get going. We’ll see each other tomorrow at school.”

 

He extended his baton.

 

“Adri—Chat Noir! Wait!”

 

She grabbed his tail, stopping him in his tracks. He turned around. She was fidgeting, and looked tentatively into his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry. I hope it’s not...I hope it’s not too hard but…”

 

He sighed. “I’m not gonna lie and pretend it doesn’t hurt. It...it does. A lot. It’s like…” he sighed. “It’s like we had everything, and then…” He paused. “But I guess… none of us can control the way we feel, right?”

 

She nodded numbly. He attempted to give a smile, but he knew he wasn’t doing a good job at it.

 

“I just wished I knew what’s wrong with me, “ he murmured, voice barely above a whisper.

 

“I… it’s not… I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you,” Marinette tried. He could hear her voice trembling. I don’t think there’s anything right with me either, he didn’t say—and she didn’t say either, he noted with a bitter smile. “We’re just a mess right now.”

 

She bit her lip and he had to force to keep his eyes on hers. He felt terrible. Worse than all those times she had rejected him, because—well, because now he knew just how much he was losing.

 

“That we are.”

 

“We’re still...we’re still friends, right?” she asked after a few seconds of awkward silence.

 

“It’s you and me against the world, so… of course.” He shrugged. 

 

And with that, he left, finally letting the tears blur his vision on his way home.

 

Tonight, their old promise sounded more bitter than comforting. Them against the world, the heroes fighting for the city, forced together by their duty and pulled apart at the same time.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

23rd of January, 2 days after the reveal

 

 

Marinette rushed back inside her bedroom as soon as Adrien had left and threw her head in her pillow, crying her heart out. Screaming to Tikki how unfair it was to have to be responsible, at Master Fu for choosing this life for her, at herself for following it, at Adrien and Chat Noir for being the same people.

 

Shouting at Adrien again, at another Adrien she hadn’t even really known that it was all his fault. His fault, his fault, his fault, all his fault. She knew it was unfair of her—but she needed to put the blame on someone, and Chat Blanc, who didn’t exist anymore, seemed like a good candidate, no matter how wrong she knew it was.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

24th of January, 3 days after the reveal

 

 

“...My father wanted us to break up.”

 

Marinette shrunk on herself. She wished she had been able to come up with a better excuse on the spot. Anything that would have avoided Adrien’s cold and numb tone when he repeated her flimsily excuse.

 

But nothing sounded plausible enough; nothing else could explain this sudden change in their dynamic.

 

“It...it was a surprise, really, we weren’t expecting it,” she tried, hoping he would follow her lead.

 

Adrien clicked his tongue. “A surprise, indeed.”

 

“Aaaand you didn’t think of dating in secret becaaause…?” Alya drawled, the cease in her brow increasing the longer she looked between the two of them.

 

“Because… well… because…” Marinette fumbled, trying to think  of a way out because Alya wasn’t wrong and it was a flaw in her carelessly crafted plan.

 

“Because Marinette didn’t want to,” Adrien supplied curtly. 

 

Alya and Nino’s heads snapped towards her with incredulous looks in their eyes, making her involuntarily shrink on herself even more.

 

“She said it wasn’t worth a try,” he shrugged and sat down, his back now to her.

 

Alya looked between the two with a mix of worry, incomprehension and a hint of pity. Marinette didn’t dare look at Nino to see what emotions would flicker in his eyes.

 

“That’s not it, it’s…” she struggled, took a deep breath, and tried again. She had to roll with what he came up with. “If he were to find out we...we’d be in trouble. You’d be in trouble… and I don’t want that,” she whispered the last words.

 

“Like I said,” Adrien said coolly, half turning towards them. “Not even worth a try.”

 

Her heart crumpled.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

26th of january, 5 days after the reveal

 

 

“Chat Noir, you’re here!” Marinette exclaimed, relieved.

 

He twirled his baton, deflecting a spurt of gooey green liquid she could only dread to know the composition of—some akumas truly were more disgusting than others to deal with. “As for every akuma.” He raised a brow. “Don’t act so surprised.”

 

She startled. In the midst of all the action, in the hope and wait for his arrival—because she always felt bolder and stronger once her partner was by her side—she had forgotten.

 

This was Adrien, her ex- boyfriend with whom she had broken up and had upsetted. And who still wasn’t talking to her much. Thinking about him as ‘ex’ suddenly hurt as she realised it was the first time she was referring to him as such in her head.

 

Marinette blinked back remorseful tears and tried ignoring the tightness in her chest to focus on the akuma again. She still needed to find where the akumatised object was, and she couldn’t let her emotions get in the way of her job.

 

She decided to pretend things were fine. “His name is Snowtty, we don’t know the victim but it’s a kid who was made fun of for having a runny nose after receiving a snowball in his face. Try to avoid his green spurts, they would freeze you on the spot!”

 

Adrien barely nodded before jumping into action, without so much as a word of acknowledgement like he would usually do. It hurt more than she would care to admit.

 

She knew they hadn’t talked since that evening on her balcony, but she had hoped he just needed time to process and that it wasn’t deeper than that. He had said they were still friends, hadn’t he?

 

Trying to ignore the sting in her eyes, she jumped after him into the fight.

 

“Ladybug! I see your pet has arrived to the scene as well,” Snowtty sneered. “All the better for me, I need both your miraculous after all!”

 

“I’m my own person, thank you very much,” Chat Noir said, none of his usual teasing in his voice. “And you won’t be getting any miraculous. Why don’t you give us your akuma instead and save everyone’s time? You’re just gonna lose like the others do, anyway.”

 

The akuma let out a growl of frustration and double-fired in their direction. Marinette ran for cover using her yoyo as a deflecting shield, Adrien using his baton.

 

He didn’t take cover with her.

 

She called him and was almost relieved when he picked up.

 

“Okay, he’s angrier than I thought he was. Any idea where the akuma could be?”

 

“You’re telling me you don’t? ” he raised a brow. “He’s throwing his substance from that bracelet he has on his left wrist, and there aren’t any other objects.”

 

It seemed obvious now. But she wasn’t at the top of her game and was far too focused on her relationship with her partner than she was on the fight at hand, and she realised how detrimental it could be—not letting her personal life interfere with her duties as Ladybug was one of the rules she had promised herself to never break, yet here she was.

 

“Right,” she said, voice wavering. “I… Right . You’re right. Good job, Kitty.”

 

She regretted the nickname as soon as it left her mouth.

 

“‘tis nothing, Ladybug,” he shrugged. “Guess you cast your lucky charm and I distract him as usual.”

 

“Not yet, I need to first figure ou—” She let out a sigh as he ended the call, and turned to see him heading back straight for the akuma.

 

Well. The message was clear.

 

Throwing her yoyo angrily in the air, she called on her lucky charm. And was rewarded for her effort with an umbrella.


She wanted to scream.

 

She glanced up and closed her eyes, temporarily blinded by the brightness of the sun. “And it’s not even raining,” she grumbled.

 

She stomped away from her hiding place, only to be thrown on the ground a second after.

 

“Wha—”

 

Adrien was hovering over her and spared a glance behind towards Snowtty before standing and helping her up.

 

“Thank you,” she mumbled.

 

But he ran back towards the akuma without so much as a glance in her direction. The momentary relief she felt when he saved her evaporated right away. She ran after him.

 

She hated how he could be upset with her in the middle of an akuma fight but still be able to focus on the task at hand. Because he was paying great care to the akuma and his surroundings and was trying to actively find a solution to put an end to the fight—something she had a harder time doing when her personal feelings were getting overwhelming. She couldn’t reproach him for that. It was just incredibly infuriating.

 

“Adri—Chat Noir, will you please talk to me and stop ignoring me?” Marinette exploded, frustrated. “It’s been two days and now is not the time!”

 

“Bold words from someone who ran away and avoided me for two days after discovering my identity,” Adrien snapped back, avoiding another blast of green.

 

Her heart stuttered painfully. He was right, but it made it no less hurtful to hear. She and Chat Noir had argued in the past, and while it had never been pleasant, it was something they knew how to navigate through — how to come out stronger from. She and Adrien, however? Never. She hadn’t even fathom the possibility of it ever coming up one day. Any comebacks she could have had died on her tongue, and Ladybug found herself speechless.

 

They both ran for cover once again behind the safety of a rooftop chimney, leaving Snowtty growling at having lost their track.

 

She swallowed painfully. “Listen. I know you’re hurt, I understand and you have every right to be. But we need to work together right now.”

 

He kicked some of the remaining snow from the roof, fidgeting with his hands. “I don’t know. I don’t think my father would approve of that.”

 

She frowned. “Of what?”

 

“Us working togeth—” he sighed, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “Sorry. Forget I said anything, that was rude. Let’s...let’s just get back to the fight. I’ll behave.”

 

She grabbed his hand before he could vault away. “Wait.”

 

“Ladybug, I don’t think we have the time to talk or—”

 

“And I think it’s important that we talk now,” she said, giving him a pleading look. “Please.”

 

He kept eye contact with her for a few seconds before glancing hesitantly towards the city, nibbling at his lower lip. “Okay,” he finally murmured.

 

She involuntarily squeezed his hand in relief. He didn’t squeeze back, but he didn’t take it away either. 

 

She hadn’t taken the time to focus on her feelings for him in the midst of her freakout about his identity; the warmth of his hand and the tips of his claws barely grazing hers and enhancing its delicacy made her realise that if anything, they had only gotten stronger.

 

It was painfully heartwarming.

 

“Are you...are you still… upset, about us, um… about me… you know…” she gestured between them.

 

“Breaking up with me?” He shook his head. “No. I’m hurt, yes. But that’s your right. That’s not what I’m angry about.”

 

“Then what…” she trailed off.

 

He sighed. “I thought I had made it clear, but I guess not.” He paused and kicked some more snow. “I didn’t like you telling everyone that my father forced us to break up,” he mumbled, and she had to listen carefully to pick up every word.

 

She blinked. “That’s… it?” She threw her hands in front of her at the glare he sent her. “I mean, don’t get me wrong… I agree it wasn’t my best excuse, but we had to find one that sounded plausible and…”

 

“That’s the thing, Marinette,” he said. “You decided to use my father as your excuse without asking me first.” He wrapped his arms around himself and looked to the ground. “I know my father isn’t… isn’t the best and that he can be… a little strict, but… He wouldn’t do that.”

 

There was a beat of silence. 

 

“He wouldn’t do that,” he repeated more quietly. 

 

She didn’t know if he was trying to convince himself or her; but she didn’t know Gabriel Agreste much and thus couldn’t confirm nor refute his words.

 

He shook his head. “But the thing is… How would you have felt if I had told everyone that...that your parents had forced us to break up?” He lifted his gaze towards her, green eyes piercing through her.

 

“Oh,” she said, understanding dawning on her. “Oh. I see.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I hadn't...I hadn’t thought about that,” Marinette admitted.

 

“Well.” He sniffed, angrily wiping at his eyes. “You should have.”

 

She hadn’t noticed that he was on the verge of crying, but she instantly felt shame coursing through her.

 

He kicked the snow harder. “And the worst part is… the worst part is that… it worked," he almost spat. “They...they believed your excuse. They didn’t even doubt it, they just…” He gestured with his hands, “... Bought it as if it was obvious and that...that hurt.”

 

She stayed quiet for a few seconds, taking it in. She didn’t want to start the conversation now as to why it had been that easy for their friends to believe his father would do such a thing—it was something that they would have to discuss another day. A day on which he’d be more ready. 

 

“I’m sorry,” she finally whispered. “I panicked because I...I realised I hadn’t thought of a reason for our breakup. My mind was busy with something else.” She chuckled dryly with a hand gesture in the air. “But you’re right, I crossed a line and that’s not an excuse. I probably would have killed you if you had told them my parents were the reason for our breakup.”

 

A timid smile appeared on his lips. “Good thing it was just me, then.”

 

She giggled tearily. “Yeah, good thing. But still. I hope you can forgive me. I promise I’ll be more careful.”

 

He sighed. “You know I can’t stay mad at you for very long, Marinette. Thank you. And I apologise too. I… I probably overreacted. And I should have known better than to snap during a fight.”

 

She smiled. “It’s okay. But maybe now, don’t wait until there’s an akuma to talk to me. Now that we know each other’s identities, you don’t need to.”

 

“I think I needed time to… digest that. But you’re right, will do.”

 

They looked at each other, smiling shyly as an awkward silence settled between them.  

 

“So, Ladybug,” Adrien spoke with a wobbly smile, glancing towards the lucky charm in her hands, “shall we go back to the fight so you can play Mary Poppins?”

 

It still wasn’t a ‘my Lady’ or a ‘Buguinette’, and there was no wink to accompany his teasing, but he was back to joking. She would take it.

 

“Of course.” She smiled. “But let me recharge first.”

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

15th of February, 25 days after the reveal

 

 

“Psssst, come here, kitty kitty! I just want to be your frien—”

 

Marinette groaned as the ginger cat ran away, joining a tabby cat further up the alleway.

 

A chuckle from behind her startled her. “Looks like you’re having cat troubles.”

 

She turned around to meet her partner’s cat -like eyes, and yes, she was having cat troubles, indeed.

 

“They don’t like me,” she just said.

 

Adrien seemed to search her eyes for a second or two, his expression unreadable. “You know that’s not true.”

 

She didn’t know if the conversation was about the cats in the street anymore, and she wasn’t sure whose fault it was. But soon after, Adrien shook his head, blond hair softly sweeping against his cheeks, and let a smile pull at his lips.

 

He crouched down, grabbed his belt tail and slowly moved it around. 

 

“You need to let them come to you.”

 

Marinette watched the tail slither, half hypnotised by the movement, until she heard the soft tapping of his claws on the ground. His fingers drummed in a steady rhythm, and she couldn’t help but marvel at how delicate the motion was.

 

It seemed that some cats around agreed because, soon enough, one advanced towards him, while another had laid down and began wiggling his butt and tail, ready to pounce.

 

She looked back at Adrien and he was smiling widely at them, anticipating their every move and excited to see their reactions. He looked so happy, so carefree and her heart did a somersault at the sight — she knew that she shouldn’t think like this, but she wished she had been the one he was looking at. She wished she could be one of these kittens, ready to tackle him to the ground, so they could fall in a heap of laughter together. So they could suddenly stop, and gaze into each other’s eyes, getting lost in each other, and maybe, just maybe, lean a little bit closer and ki—

 

“Wow.” Adrien’s loud laughter shook her out of her reverie. “No need to bite me, little one!”

 

While a small grey cat had attacked his tail and was nibbling at it, rolling on the floor, another one was more focused on his hand.

 

The white one with blue eyes.

 

“Careful,” she told him, “that one’s nasty.”

 

Adrien continued to play with the cat, moving a finger around and hovering it above his nose that the kitten tried to take a mouthful of.

 

“What? Why do you say that?”

 

“Well, he bit you. And earlier, he scratched me. Good thing my suit could protect me or my arms would have been covered in blood,” she informed.

 

Adrien smiled. “That doesn’t make him nasty.”

 

She spluttered. “Wha—? How—of course it does! He’s a mean cat, trust me on this! All white cats with blue eyes are!”

 

He chuckled, giving him a fond look the kitten didn’t deserve. “Good thing I’m a black cat, then.”

 

She shuddered.

 

“And he’s not mean,” he went on, “he’s broken.”

 

Marinette frowned. “What do you mean, ‘broken’?”

 

Somehow, Adrien had managed to pet the cat on the head, making him let out a contented meow. “Cats who have been abandoned or rejected by their mother too young tend to be more aggressive,” he explained, a pained smile she wasn’t quite sure how to interpret. “They scratch and bite a lot because in a way, they’re kind of lost.”

 

He took him in his arms and kissed his nose, to which the cat answered with a small ‘meow’. Staying close to his face, he scratched under his chin that the cat was exposing happily to him as a sign of complete trust. Adrien’s smile melted when a purr rumbled out of the kitten, and Marinette hung on it with both fascination and envy.

 

He let out a breathy chuckle. “See? He just needs someone to show him they care.”

 

“Show him they care,” she repeated dumbly. She could do that. She coul— “What if...what if it still doesn’t change anything?”

 

Adrien’s gaze left the kitten to turn to her. “What do you mean?”

 

“What if...What if even if someone cares about him, and cares about him so much they would sacrifice their own happiness for him if it came to it, and shows him everyday and tells him everyday but he still…” She stopped, fumbling with her words for a second. “...He still keeps biting and scratching and feeling lost and alone a-and no one can save him?” She lifted her eyes to his, only to find her vision blurry.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you talking about?” Adrien breathed.

 

“M-maybe, this cat is doomed from the start. Maybe he’ll be like that forever, no matter what and maybe they’ll all be like that and—”

 

“My Lady,” a hand landed on her shoulder, stopping her from spiraling further—and here it was, the ‘my Lady' she’d been craving for so much, at the most unexpected time. “That’s stupid. I’m not sure if it’s about cats anymore,” he chuckled, “but I’ll pretend it is.”

 

She blinked back tears. He kept on, “Yes, some of these hurt cats never change. But not all of them! You can never really know what will happen, how they’ll evolve, because they’re all different, and they’ll all live different lives.”

 

He smiled at her, his delicate hand never leaving her shoulder, while the other continued petting the purring white kitten. “We can’t guess what will happen to them. All we can do is try, and take the risk. And maybe the owners of this lovely kitty will be lucky and have a loving ball of fur”— he bopped the cat’s nose who in turn let out a small ‘meow’— “or they’ll be less lucky and have a little monster that— ouch,” he said, as the cat chased his bopping finger to bite it, “bite them from time to time but still would be worth caring for.” He sighed a chuckle.

 

Marinette swallowed, taking it in. “So you mean that… the future of this cat isn’t… set in stone?” she asked carefully.

 

“Of course not! No one can know what he’ll grow into now, it will depend on a lot of factors.” He took his hand off her shoulder to lift the cat off his lap and nuzzle his nose with his. “Isn’t that right, little one? You’ll be a good kitty, won’t you?”

 

She let a smile pull at her lips at the sight. Adrien turned to face her with a big goofy grin on his face.

 

“If our future was written in our DNA, we’d have known all about our futures a long time ago,” he chuckled.

 

She let his words sink in, closing her eyes. What if...what if.

 

What if their love wouldn’t destroy the world, this time. 

 

But what if it did again.  

 

...But what if it didn’t?

 

She heaved a sigh, releasing some of the tension that had been weighing down on her. When she opened her eyes, it was to see that Adrien was back to playing with the kitten.

 

“And what are we gonna call you, hm? Ooooh, I know! See, I’m Chat Noir, so that would make you Chat Bla—”

 

“—FLOCON!” Marinette interrupted him.

 

He blinked at her. “Chat Flocon?”

 

“No, just...just Flocon. He’s white as snow, and fluffy like a snowflake, so it makes sense. And,” she added after a beat, “it’s cute.”

 

And it reminded her of that date they shared, just before revealing their identities, strolling through a snowy Paris. It was a memory she cherished, even if it didn’t end quite well.

 

Adrien grinned. “Okay. Flocon it is.” He scratched the cat’s chin, who purred in turn and tried to bite his finger again. “No,” he told him, “I said no biting, you thickhead.”

 

She could watch him bicker with a kitten for hours, she thought.

 

“Hey, Buguinette,” he called out to her, pulling her out of her momentary reverie, “you wanna hold Flocon?”

 

She blinked. “Errr… I don’t know if that's a good idea or…”

 

He laughed. “He’s not that aggressive. It’s up to you; but if you want to try befriending him again…” He held a half-wiggling and meowing Flocon in the air towards her.

 

Marinette bit her lip, and took a deep breath. Maybe it was a bad idea to cave, but... “Okay,” she finally said. “I’ll give him a try.”

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

26th of April, 95 days after the reveal

 

 

“Adrien, aren’t you gonna snap her in half?” Alya asked with incredulous eyes.

 

It made both him and Marinette giggle. “It’s like she doesn’t know that you’re usually the one snapping me in half between the two of us,” Adrien whispered in her ear, which made her laugh harder. “She said she wanted to!” he told Alya louder.

 

“Yes, Alya,” Marinette added, “I’m a strong girl and I can carry him! Right, Adrien?”

 

“Right!” he replied enthusiastically, clinging harder on her back.

 

He wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but he was too busy feeling lighthearted and free on this spring afternoon. It was the first warm day of the year, with only a slightly chilly breeze coming to ruffle his hair at times that only contributed in increasing his  giddiness. For the fifth time this day, he thanked the star that made his father allow him to go out to the temporary funfair with his friends—though he thought they were studiously working on a school project.

 

“It’s not because you can carry him that you should,” Nino said, shaking his head fondly.

 

“You’re just jealous because Alya isn’t carrying you.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Let’s ride to the moon and back!”

 

“To the moon and back!” Adrien repeated, one hand raised in the air.

 

Marinette let out a warrior cry before attempting to run, albeit slowly because of his weight, and he could tell they wouldn’t go far as he already felt himself slide down and her grip on his legs slacken.

 

He should have known they’d fall face first before she got too exhausted. If he had, maybe he’d have had the time to react and avoid it.

 

As it was, he just found himself on top of Marinette on the ground. He lifted himself up and sat down, Marinette soon doing the same.

 

Distantly, he heard Alya and Nino running towards them shouting “are you okay”s and “are you hurt”s at profusion, but he didn’t pay them any mind as Marinette looked up at him with eyes glinting with mirth and they both fell in a heap of laughters.

 

Some passersby looked at them funnily while others whispered some “that must hurt”s or “everything alright?”s to them.

 

“It’s okay,” Adrien told them. “We’ve had it worse!”

 

“Yes,” Marinette chimed in. “One time we were thrown by an akuma—”

 

“—A big tuna," he quickly corrected.

 

“—a big tuna, he’s right,” she repeated, “and we both fell right into a moving bus, and we survived!”

 

“And you find that funny,” Nino deadpanned, putting his hands on his hips as Adrien helped Marinette up.

 

Adrien just grinned at him. “Yup! We’re the survivors.”

 

“And we’re gonna make it!” Marinette sang.

 

“You’re insufferable,” Alya chuckled. “The both of you. I don’t know how you two can be more unhinged than me with Marinette, but—”

 

“—That’s because we’re exes besties,” Adrien chirped. Despite the months that had passed, it always hurt a little to call each other “exes”. But he had long since learned that laughing at his suffering was better than crying over it. He just wondered when and if he’ll ever be over her one day. He probably never really would.

 

“Hey,” Nino said indignantly. “But you’re my best friend!”

 

“Maybe, but are you also exes, hm?” Marinette asked him. “Because we are, and it makes us the unstoppable exes besties! And now, our next stop will be…” She jumped on Adrien’s back without warning and he caught her with a ‘oof’. “...to that splashing boat attraction over there!”

 

“Dudes, you already fell once, what are you doing?”

 

“We’re getting back up, Nino, and we try again,” she announced proudly, raising her fist up. “Let’s go to the boat, Adrien, and may our ship sail! Go, go, go!”

 

Adrien faintly heard a ‘they’re beyond help’ from Alya as he ran towards the attraction, both his and Marinette’s laughters echoing in the wind.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

28th of May, 127 days after the reveal

 

 

Adrien landed with a grunt on the pavement. The suit was a good protector, but it didn’t stop his back from hurting from the impact with the ground. This akuma — Firebender as he called himself — truly was more violent than usual.

 

“Wow,” he managed to breath between two gasps, “you’re on fire today!”

 

He tried to push himself up with an arm, and raised his head towards Firebender with a half-closed eye. The fireball he saw coming towards him arrived so fast that he didn’t even have the time to do so much as widening his eyes. An anguish cry was the last thing he heard before it faded and he saw nothing at all.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

28th of May, 127 days after the reveal

 

 

Marinette realised she was screaming when she felt her lungs were empty.

 

Usually, when an akuma took lives, the victims just disappeared into thin air, as if they had never been. They weren’t lying there, unmoving on the pavement like Adrien was. Somehow, seeing was worse than not.

 

She felt dizzy, as if everything around her was moving in slow motion. She staggered, trying to turn her head away from the sight of her unresponsive partner who was becoming blurrier and blurrier the longer she looked at him. She needed to breathe, she needed to—

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” she screeched instead, the sound reverberating into the street, bouncing from building to building.

 

She took a ragged breath, and another, closing her eyes as she took in the dead silence that greeted her scream.

 

She swallowed her first sob and squeezed her eyes tight shut, taking yet another heavy breath. She turned towards the akuma before opening her eyes, otherwise she knew she wouldn’t be able to tear her gaze away from Adrien’s dead form. She gritted her teeth as soon as the thought of him being gone entered her mind again.

 

“You’re a monster,” she spat, low and cold, the last word echoing through the silence and carrying her voice to Firebender’s ears — to Hawkmoth’s .

 

All these days worrying over the possibility of a devastating future she had seen, all this time doing everything she could to avoid it no matter how little she knew of it, and she hadn’t considered the possibilities she hadn’t been a witness of. All these days flirting with the line between caving and resisting only for her regretful indecision to hit her in the most cruel way.

 

“Give up, Ladybug,” Hawkmoth spoke through Firebender, “you no longer have your pet. All you have to do is surrender your miracu—”

 

“And what?” she spat. “Let my partner die? Listen to me, Hawkmoth. I have a chance to save him, and for that I need to defeat you. You think I’m stupid? I’m not giving up on Paris. I’m not giving up on him!”

 

And I’m not giving up on us, she told herself.

 

“Lucky charm!” she roared, rage and determination coursing through her veins.

 

She knew nothing about how Chat Blanc had really happened, she realised, catching the spotted chain falling from above. Nothing about her current future, as she scanned her surroundings for a solution. Nothing but the crushing weight of the present and her fear of the unknown, as she opened her yoyo to retrieve the dragon miraculous and put it around her neck.

 

“Tikki, Longg, unify!”

 

As she surrounded herself with water and ran towards Firebender with only one goal in mind, she promised herself to never let the gifts the present gives her slide in favour of hypothetical futuristic tragedies. She was finally done running away and sacrificing her life to her fears.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

28th of May, 127 days after the reveal

 

 

Light suddenly flooded Adrien’s vision as he took a sharp and deep intake of breath. His lungs were burning with the sudden air filling them up, and he squinted his eyes, trying to make sense of his surroundings. He groggily lifted himself up on his elbows when—

 

“Chaton!”  

 

—a red blur threw herself at him. He caught her, her hair in his nose and her warm breath and hot tears in his neck.

 

He let her sob and squeeze him as understanding washed over him. He gently threaded his clawed fingers through her hair and massaged her scalp, noticing absent-mindedly that she was also wearing the dragon miraculous.

 

She slowly detangled herself from him but stayed close, looking into his eyes through her wet ones and caressing his cheek with her thumb.

 

“Kitty,” she whispered, her voice hoarse, “my Kitty.”

 

He didn’t have the time to react before her lips were on his and she took her time to savour him before ever so slowly pulling away. He let her do.

 

She didn’t stop there. Gently cradling his face in her trembling hands, she kissed his cheek. And his other cheek. And his forehead. His nose. His jaw. Puncturing each of her kisses with whispers of “mon Chaton”, or “Kitty”, or “my love”, to which his heart made a somersault at, before diving for his neck.

 

Each time he kept on letting her do, keeping her close to him as she sobbed through her kisses and yet another nickname for him.

 

He could feel her breathing him in; so, with his nose in her hair, he inhaled her scent too. Her hot breath left his neck once again, and she came back for his lips.

 

This time, he kissed her back, and as soon as his lips moved against hers, she choked on a sobbed whine and pushed her mouth closer to his, if that was even possible

 

He hadn’t forgotten the taste of her lips on his, even after all these months; but he also knew their kisses had never burnt so intensely, driven by despair, the need to memorise the present and the aroma of being alive. 

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

1st of June, 131 days after the reveal

 

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“What for?” 

 

Marinette smiled sadly. “Oh, I don’t know. Hurting you. Putting us through this mess. Not telling you about Chat Blanc. Take your pick.”

 

She let her arms rest on the railing of the bridge, looking across the Seine. The clouds were getting darker and darker, though a sunray pierced through one of them, lighting up a few buildings on the shore in a powerful atmosphere. Her eyes followed a barge floating further and further away, waiting for the moment it would cross the ray of light.

 

“You’ve been hurting too,” Adrien said after a few seconds. “You’ve been shouldering it all on your own. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

 

His hand slid into hers and she welcomed it, intertwining her fingers timidly with his. She glanced at him with a tentative smile and he smiled back, looking at her with soft eyes. She looked back towards the Seine just in time to see the barge slicing through the sunbeam.

 

“Still. Maybe, if I had told you… if I hadn’t let my fears get the best of me…” She trailed off, not knowing what else to say.

 

“And maybe,” Adrien spoke when it was clear she wouldn’t add something more, squeezing her hand once, “if you had told me earlier, I would have given up Chat Noir.”

 

She gasped and turned to him, but he was looking at the Seine with saddened eyes.

 

“What do you mean?” she breathed.

 

“I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle hearing that I could destroy the world as an akuma,” he whispered, caressing the back of her hand with his thumb as if to reassure her. “It’s… really hard already, but I feel like it would’ve been worse before.”

 

He turned his head towards her again and she held his gaze, gripping his hand harder as if to dare him to leave.

 

“You said it yourself,” he went on, “just like we have no idea about what the future can really hold, we can’t know how things would have played out if we had done things differently. What really matters right now is what you want us to be from now on.”

 

She searched his expectant eyes for a few seconds before looking back at the Seine. A tourist boat coming towards them had replaced the barge in the sunspot before the window of clouds closed on the light, leaving only a dark atmosphere in its place. The clouds grew darker and a warm gust had picked up, making their hair fly in every direction and their clothes ruffling in a frenzy. Marinette felt her emotions growing with the wind, begging to be said and to explode.

 

She took a deep breath, closing her eyes and feeling the wind coursing through her as she gathered her thoughts, and opened them again.

 

“I love you, Adrien,” she spoke, her declaration followed by a distant rumble in the sky. “I love you so, so much. Discovering that you were Chat Noir, once I took it all in… it was the best thing in the world, but also the worst.” 

 

She faced away from the Seine to face him instead and take both his hands in hers, gripping them as tight as she could to ground herself as she felt a flow of tears coming in. 

 

“It made me fall in love with you so much more it hurt, but I knew I couldn’t be with you or I knew I shouldn’t because…” She paused, taking ragged breaths. “...Because it wouldn’t be responsible . Because we’re superheroes and because I had this warning with Chat Blanc, and as the guardian it’s my role to keep us grounded and to do the right thing.”

 

A lighting bolt pierced through the sky, accompanied by a loud thunderstrike a few seconds later. Adrien was looking at her with a pain in his eyes that she knew meant he was hurting for her and not him.

 

“But I don’t want to do the right thing this time,” she murmured, as she felt a first drop of water slide down her cheek. “I’m tired of doing what’s supposedly right. Not when...not when we’re both hurting so much that it feels like it’s more dangerous to stay this way instead of just… giving in.”

 

At this point, she didn’t know who out of her and Adrien were gripping the other’s hands the tightest. She felt more and more raindrops falling on her face and clothes. She didn’t know if the water in his eyes were because he was tearing up or not.

 

“So maybe our love destroyed the world, once,” she continued, “but I think there’s enough far more damaging hate in this world; and ever since these akuma attacks started, what saved it is our love — for Paris, for our family and friends… and for each other.”

 

Adrien’s eyes now held a glint of adoration. His now damped hair was sticking to his face while some strands curled with the water. She supposed hers wasn’t faring much better.

 

“So to answer your question,” she swallowed a sob, “I want us to be together… if you’ll have me.”

 

Lightning ripped through the sky accompanied by deafening thunder as Adrien pulled her into a crushing hug. She put her arms around his neck to pull him even closer to her and let the flow of her tears finally mix with the rain on her cheeks.

 

“Marinette,” he whispered, voice wavering and lips barely touching her ear, “I love you, of course I’ll have you. I’ll always have you.”

 

The rain fell even harder as they hugged closer and cried, soaking them, yet they couldn’t care less. Their clothes were sticking to their bodies, growing more and more uncomfortable, which was worsened by them being in each other’s arms, but Marinette hadn’t felt so good in a long time.

 

She suddenly pulled away from the hug and cradled his head between her hands. He took her face in his and they stayed closed, forehead against forehead, breathing each other in. Another rumbled resounded and Marinette’s last resolve snapped with it—she brought her lips to his and kissed him.

 

He responded in kind, and she drank him in and pressed her mouth closer as she felt him doing the same. She should care about the rain falling and the thunder rumbling, but the battering of the elements were just making her feel freer, finally allowing her to get away from all her self restraints. 

 

She sighed against Adrien’s lips as they kept coming back for more. They kissed their reunion, the relief of finding each other again, at last—unlike when he had come back from the dead earlier, these kisses tasted of the promise of more to come, because they knew they would stay together this time.

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

21st of January, 1h45 after the reveal

 

 

“Okay. What’s going on between you two? You’ve been acting awkward since we’ve got here.”

 

What was going on. What was going on.  

 

“We’re fine,” the lie rolled out of her tongue easily. “Really.”

 

Alya raised a brow. “Adrien?”

 

She saw him smiling from the corner of her eyes. He was a much better actor than her—always had been.

 

“It’s nothing. It’s… we just… we’re working on it.”

 

...And much more honest than she was, be it with his feelings or with his heart. Always had been.

 

“Well,” Nino said, “I hope it’s not too big of a deal and that you’ll get over it soon. You guys are the cutest out there.”

 

Marinette smiled painfully. She glanced at Adrien who was looking at her with soft eyes that she didn’t deserve considering her reaction, and she felt his warm hand timidly covering hers. 

“Yeah,” he whispered. “I have hopes we will. We always do.”

 

 

───※ ·❆· ※───

 

 

21st of January, one year after the reveal

 

 

“You’re heavy,” Adrien gasped.

 

“That’s a rude thing to say to a lady,” Marinette commented from atop him, head resting on the arms she had folded on his chest. “And even more so to your girlfriend.”

 

He groaned and attempted to lift himself up. Fail. She was grinning at him and he pouted in fake-annoyance. “Not when said girlfriend is purposefully putting all her weight on you! I can’t breath!”

 

Marinette giggled and pressed herself further on him to which he let out a choked whimper, before pushing away from him after a few seconds, ending his suffocation.

 

“I could report you for attempting murder, you know,” he threatened with a finger. “‘Ladybug slips into teenage model Adrien Agreste’s room and proceeds to suffocate him’, now that would make the newspapers talk for months.”

 

She laughed and came back to hover over him. “‘And Adrien asked her to do it again’,” she smirked, and she bent down to peck his lips.

 

He couldn’t even argue with that.

 

He discreetly brought his hand close to where his head was lying to grab a pillow. When she pushed herself up and sat next to him, he quickly hit her head with it.

 

She gasped, betrayed and that sent him into a fit of laughter. She glared at him playfully, grabbed his other pillow, and swatted him way harder than he had.

 

“You’re dead, Kitty! You hear me?” she said, trying and failing not to laugh. “You’ve just signed your death contract!”

 

“No, my Lady, please I’m just a defenseless citizen!”

 

“I’ll knock you out with my yo-yo!” she threatened.

 

They fought again for a few minutes before stopping, Adrien breathless but Marinette only slightly out of breath due to being transformed.

 

“I hope your father won’t come in,” Marinette said.

 

“Don’t worry, if he or Nathalie come, you’ll just say you’re investigating here because, uh...because you suspect me of being Hawkmoth!”

 

She laughed. “Kitty, that’s such a stupid idea.”

 

“Why not?” Adrien wiggled his eyebrows. “After all, I do disappear during every akuma attack.”

 

Marinette smiled and crawled into his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck as he steadied her with his hands on her hips. They lost themselves into each other’s eyes, faces close but not close enough to exactly touch.

 

“Then,” she murmured against his lips, and he felt his cheeks heating up. “I’ve come to seduce my enemy. Is it working?”

 

“I’d rather be your partner if that’s okay,” he whispered.

 

“Yes, but is it working Adrien?”

 

He chuckled—she didn’t even need to try, he’d always been too far gone when it came to her. “A bit too much.”

 

He kissed the proud and satisfied giggle from her lips.