Chapter 1: unable are the loved to die
He should've protected her.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Adrien is well read. He’s flipped through the pages of Les Misérables more times than he can count, he’s more familiar with Shakespeare than he is his own father (although that’s not saying much), he can recite Baudelaire and Rimbaud and La Fontaine from memory.
As he looks into panicked blue eyes, he thinks that those assholes had no fucking clue what they were talking about.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, and not with a whimper, either.
Ladybug is gurgling as she dies.
It’s not poetry how her eyes roll backwards into her skull, bloodstained fingers grasping desperately for purchase, and when he clutches her hand she squeezes so tightly that he feels like his fingers are going to break. He lets her crush them, lets the pain erupt in his bones because just maybe it’ll wake him up from this nightmare.
A knife is sticking out of her suit, and the fabric is the wrong shade of red and her skin is dyed red too, and everything is red besides the awful, awful whites of her eyes, and even those are shot through with veins because tears are welling up in them.
He’s crying too, he realizes, but he does nothing to stop the droplets that land on her face. He can see her freckles amidst the smears of blood and he wipes the red away, he wants to erase every mark of hurt on her body.
He clenches his teeth.
He should’ve protected her.
“That was reckless, Chat, you could have died!”
“I didn’t, though.”
“That’s not the point. You throw yourself in front of everything that comes my way and endangering your own life! It needs to stop.”
“ Aw, is my lady worried about me? I’m paw-sitively flattered.”
“Of course I am! You’re my partner!”
“Pretty useless partner, if you ask me.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s true. You don’t need me to catch akuma. I might as well be a buffer between you and them.”
“Chat, can you promise me that you won’t sacrifice yourself to save me?”
“Please. I can’t concentrate knowing you’re ready to throw yourself in front of me at a moment’s notice. Please, chaton, try. For me.”
“What’s that look for, my lady? Do you not believe me? I promise to try, cat’s honor.”
“...I’ll see you tomorrow, Chat.”
Ladybug chokes on his name, bubbles of blood popping on her chapped lips as air rushes through them. Her face is grey. She’s convulsing a little, and he’s called the paramedics but they’re all over the city and she’s bleeding out too fast for them to get there and she’s going to die and there’s no way he can get her to the hospital in time.
“My lady?” he whispers. He stifles a sob, looking down at his beautiful, wonderful, amazing partner.
“You were...” she struggles with the words, sucking in oxygen with an awful rattling sound. “The best... I...”
He cups her face with his free hand.
“I...Tell him... it’s not his fault,” she whispers, her eyes managing to slide over his.
“Who, my lady?” he said softly, and her eyes focus onto something behind him.
“Sorry,” she breathes, and it’s not an answer but he suddenly understands as she’s enveloped in bright light, red suit replaced by civilian clothes and the mask melting always to reveal soft skin. He understands everything now.
As he stares into Marinette’s dying eyes, he wonders how in the world they came to deserve this tragedy.
“You did good today, kitty.”
“Thank you, my lady. You were absolutely purr-fect.”
“Meow-ch! What was that fur? That was a completely valid use of a pun!”
“You’re an idiot.”
“You laughed at this idiot, thank you very much. ‘Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face’, my lady.”
“You could show at least a little restraint, Chat. ‘People do not lack strength, they lack will.’”
“Ah! So you’re on a Hugo kick, too?”
“We’re going over him in school.”
“Same, actually. What are the odds? Maybe we go to the same place, hm?”
“...I need to go.”
“Wait, I didn’t mean to—Ladybug—”
“Marinette,” he croaks. He’s not sure why he’s so surprised, everything fits together like a jigsaw now. The pieces all rearrange and match in his mind and he sees everything now. Marinette is Ladybug, is the girl he loves, is the daughter of the akuma that hurt her, is the girl that’s dying in his arms—
“Plagg, can we save her?” He says, much more calmly than he feels (he feels like burning the city down, to make the buildings and roads and people feel the ache, to feel the abyss cracking open in his chest just as raw and painful as he feels it, crawling under his skin, and Ladybug always said he was overdramatic but he’s not exaggerating even a little bit right now.)
Marinette’s grip on his hand is weakening.
I’m not sure, his kwami responds, and he sounds completely serious for once.
“Can we—can we take it away? Like she does?” Adrien asks desperately, holding onto Marinette’s hand for dear life. Her eyes are drooping slowly.
“Come on, Princess, stay with me,” he murmurs to her, “you’re doing so good, please stay awake, Marinette, please.”
I don’t know, Plagg repeats. Usually Chat Noir is the one bleeding out on the ground.
“I should’ve been,” Adrien mutters, more to himself than to his kwami. “Plagg, please, I can’t lose her.”
Salvation comes in a flash of red.
“Let me in, and I’ll help you save her,” a high voice says, just as desperate as he feels, and he turns to see a scarlet creature roughly the size of Plagg hovering over his shoulder.
Ladybug’s kwami, he realizes.
The kwami that is the source of Ladybug’s powers.
I can cleanse the akuma if I take in her kwami.
Adrien, no, it’s dangerous to have two of us in the ring; the power makes it unstable, Plagg says immediately, you could die. You both could die.
But if I do it, she can live, Adrien thinks, and that’s all that matters. He looks at the strange red being.
“Hey Chat, what’s up?”
“Sorry for bugging you, my lady. Hey! No need to groan. There’s an akuma running around near the Tower and I think I might need some backup. And when I say ‘might’, I mean ‘definitely’. Lend me a paw?”
“Sure, I’ll be there soon. Anything I should know about it?”
“It’s nothing out of the ordinary. The only odd thing is that I know the guy, and he doesn’t seem to be the type to get akumatized.”
“Really? Who is he?”
“You know that girl Marinette you had me protect? It’s her father, Tom Dupain, he owns the bakery in the 21st arrondissement.”
“Don’t do anything yet, Chat. Wait for me.”
It’s excruciating to have two Kwami in his ring at the same time. His palms crackle with power and red spots have appeared on his typically jet-black suit, and even though the buzz is painful, he feels good. Strong. Stronger than he's ever been.
He feels the energy of Paris, he feels the thrums of heartbeats in the air, and he can feel his lady’s getting weaker. He places Marinette gently on the ground and stands, and the breeze is electric on his skin. He can feel everything. He senses the shifts and the currents and he can almost see the power of the akuma, only a mile away or so.
Chat Noir, Ladybug, whatever he is with this bizarre amalgamation of kwami inside his miraculous, closes the distance in half a minute, and when he attacks, he brings his rage with him.
It’s the fastest fight of his life.
“Chat, go and clear the area.”
“Because there are still civilians around and I’m busy with p—the baker.”
“But you can’t fight him all alone!”
“Do it. I’ll be okay.”
“I don’t need you, Chat! Go!”
“...If that’s what you want, my lady.”
“Miraculous Ladybug,” he says, throwing his lucky charm (a shoe, of all things) into the air. He doesn’t yell it triumphantly, nor does he scream it in desperation. He says it softly, reverently, like a prayer, and the sky lights up with electricity as it burns away the damage done.
“Please work,” he whispers, and his legs carry him to the place he needs to be, the alleyway where he found his lady bleeding out with a kitchen knife imbedded in her stomach.
The pain is getting unbearable, explosive shockwaves rippling through him, but he forces his feet to move, to carry him to her.
Adrien, I’m going to try and leave, comes a vaguely familiar voice. I’m sorry; it’ll hurt, but your miraculous can’t handle me for much longer.
“Okay,” he whispers. His head is pounding, movements jittery, like he’s had too many energy drinks in the space of an hour. He can’t imagine how it can get any worse.
As Tikki flies out of his ring, all the air exits his lungs, because, oh God, it can.
His skull splits in two and he falls to his knees and he can’t hold back the pained howl that rips its way out of his throat. It’s like the weight of the sky is pressing on his brain, and he’s no Atlas, oh God it hurts, but he sees a limp hand and blue-black hair and forces himself to crawl. His miraculous beeps. He ignores it.
She’s laying on the ground still, staring blankly at the sky, and for one horrible moment he thinks he was too late, that he didn’t protect her well enough, that she’s dead and gone and it’s all his fault. But then her eyes flick to him, and he nearly starts crying when his name flies out of her lips. She sounds so concerned. Like he was the one that was dying on the ground.
He reaches her.
“What would you do if there was an akuma that I couldn’t beat?”
“Probably die fighting it. Why?”
“Marinette,” he gasps into her shoulder, taking in her scent, her shaking hands clutching his arm, the warm pulse beating in her neck, so steady and sure and alive. There’s a beep but its not important, Marinette is alive and she’s Ladybug and she’s beautiful and she’s okay.
“Chat,” she says shakily, and he wants her to say it again, to let him know that she’s here and not just a dream, “Chat—your ring—“
“I don’t care, Marinette,” he slurs into her neck. His vision is swimming, head pounding like a hammer.
“Thought I lost you,” he hears himself saying softly, and he closes his eyes.
“I’m right here, kitty, we’re safe.” she says gently, and that’s the last thing he hears before darkness overtakes him.
“I was just wondering.”
“And what would you do, my lady?”
“Probably the same. I’d want to get you out of the way first, though.”
“Never gonna happen.”
yikes i hope you liked this incredibly angsty chapter one, part two should be up in a few days
also i did not have a beta for this so feel free to point out mistakes in the comments!
Chapter 2: form prayers to broken stone
She needs to be there for her father, first.
"i'll update in a couple days!!!1111" she said, over a month ago.
guys. i am SO sorry. a lot of things happened; my tumblr got deleted and so did all my drafts (yikes) and then my computer died so everything that i didn't have on google docs just went down the toilet. i was just a TINY bit devastated so i didn't write for a while and then a few days ago i finally pulled myself together and rewrote this chapter. i hope you enjoy!
EDIT: i completely forgot to mention that i was floored by how well-received this was! over 1k hits and 100 kudos, ahhh you guys are amazing!!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Sabine...Please talk to me, honey.”
“Stay with me, love.”
Before Tikki, before Ladybug, before her world flipped like a coin on its side, Marinette emanated bad luck. She tripped over empty spaces, objects dropped through her fingers like they weren’t even there. Her limbs often acted like they didn’t belong to her, moving awkwardly, tentatively. She remembers when she had gone ice skating with her family, the frost pinching her little nose and cheeks till they were bright red. She had looked back to her maman and papa, warmth and affection radiating on their features as they gazed at their eight-year-old daughter.
Their expressions had quickly turned to horror as a cracking sound split through the air and Marinette was plunged into icy-cold water. The gentle nip of cold air abruptly shifted to the screaming pain of freezing liquid. Marinette had shrieked, jerking her head and hitting it on the thick ice that had given way underneath her. Her limbs, clothed in a thick winter jacket and swears, had flailed, trying to swim, trying to grasp something as she sank deeper under the water. The back of her head felt warm-wet, pain searing from it. She gasped for air and only got water, so much water, and she was going to lose herself to it.
Her last recollection was of strong arms pulling her out before the world went dark.
She had nearly died. The doctors had said that she was lucky, that not many small children could have survived the cold and the water and the nasty head wound she had received. Later, Marinette inwardly mused that if she were actually lucky, the ice wouldn’t have fractured beneath her feet in the first place. After all, grown-ups had been skating on the ice too, and it was only under her small frame that the surface had broken.
Her father had saved her, and she was not surprised. He had always been there to catch her when she tripped, or to help her or to just be there for her, his eyes twinkling as brightly as his smile. The way his large hand cradled her small one had made her feel safe and loved, his entire presence had been one of comfort.
Then Tikki came, and while her luck had improved, she still needed her papa, still relied on him to be there for her, always. To help her when she was down. To save her when she fell.
When Chat Noir told her that he had been akumatized, she hoped she could return the favor. Sending Chat away had been a stupid mistake, a decision she made on the fly, flinging cruel lies at her beloved partner to drive him away. She knows he has insecurities, abysmal self-worth that he hides behind a swagger and a flirty smile, and it had pained her to say that she didn’t need him. But when it comes to Chat, she can be selfish. She doesn’t think she would’ve been able to handle seeing her best friend being hurt by her father, doesn’t think she could’ve handled him taking a hit for her.
(As she felt the piercing agony in her ribs, she was grateful that it was her and not Chat that would bleed out onto the ground.)
But her luck doesn’t work that way.
She thinks that when she became Ladybug, her misfortune didn’t simply disappear. It’s not a thing that can be destroyed, not something that a dash of good luck can cure. Marinette had noticed the people around her tripping a little more as she did less, dark circles becoming slightly more prominent when she managed to fit in a good night’s sleep. With a surge of guilt, she realized that she was siphoning her bad luck off to other people. Either that or she was a leech, feeding off of other’s good luck, stealing it away from them like some sort of parasite.
She hates to think it, hates to consider that her newly found good fortune was acquired through less-than-heroic means.
However, it certainly explains why she’s the one with the perfectly healed knife wound and her partner is the one unconscious in her arms.
“Chat... I’ve got you, we’re safe. We’re good. We’ll be okay.”
“Mon minou, please. Wake up.”
The hospital is pale. Washed out blues and grays and pinks that attempt to be cheery but only make everything else seem more dull. Adrien, cradled in her embrace, is paler than anything here. His normally golden skin is the color of milk, and Ladybug’s heart rate spikes with panic.
“Help!” She calls anxiously, her hold on Adrien tightening. A receptionist gapes at her. A passing doctor’s eyes catch her bright red figure, glazing over the scarlet and the polka-dots until they find the unconscious boy in Ladybug’s arms. He yells something, but Ladybug’s heart is pounding so hard in her ears that she can’t hear his muffled words. A nurse appears behind him, her eyebrows scrunched up in concern. They stride towards them, pulling a gurney and a clipboard in their wake. Ladybug adjusts her grip on Adrien and gently sets him down on the still-rolling gurney, smoothing his hair out of his eyes. They’re lined with dark circles, made even more prominent by his sickly complexion.
“Oh, you stupid cat,” she whispers gently, too soft for anyone but herself to hear.
The nurse taps her on the shoulder, and she inhales through her nose before swinging around to face the inevitable onslaught of questions.
The woman standing in front of her is short, dripping with confidence and an odd sereness that is only rivaled by the clever spark in her eyes. Her scrubs cling to her curving figure, held in a stance of complete control and assurance.
“Name, age, medical history and allergies?” The nurse asks calmly. Her brown eyes are steady and clear. Ladybug feels herself relaxing slightly.
“Adrien Agreste, he’s sixteen. Um… he’s allergic to feathers,” She says awkwardly. “Uh...His father is Gabriel Agreste but there’s an assistant that you can reach more easily. Um, Nathalie, I think.”
“We’ll check to see if his record is on file. Thank you, Ladybug.”
“Yeah,” She replies, somewhat miserably. He wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place if it weren’t for her. She watches as Adrien is wheeled into the Emergency Room, guilt bubbling in her stomach.
She had placed Adrien Agreste in danger.
She had placed Chat Noir in danger.
She never even suspected that they were one and the same. No, maybe that's a lie. She never allowed herself to suspect. She never let herself reconcile Adrien's reserved behavior with Chat's unruliness, despite their shared kindness and similar appearance and even their similar mannerisms, with the bowing and the chivalry and their impressive fencing techniques. She had never looked below the surface, had only glossed over their similarities in the rare moments she actually thought about Chat and Adrien in the same strand of recollections. It's odd, how quickly everything locks into place in Marinette's head. It makes sense. It makes so much sense.
She's been so blind, this entire time.
She slowly turns around, rips herself away. She trudges to the hospital exit, legs feeling like lead. She doesn’t want to leave him, she wants to be there for him.
She needs to be there for her father, first.
>NEWEST ATTACK: LE BOULANGER
laladybug99: omg were any of you watching what happened
evi11ustrat0r: yeah im so glad lb got out ok!!! its weird, it really looked like she was going to die
kitty_chat: and chat noir!!!! he looked so weird, he had red spots everywhere and he beat the akuma on his own….
laladybug99: maybe ladybug lent him her powers or something
sarahloveslb: is that even possible? he looked pissed tho
parisheros: huh. i wonder what the akuma guy feels like since he managed to hurt lb and got his ass kicked by cn
kitty_chat: [image enclosed] yeah, look at how upset he looks…
adminalya: Hey guys, quick update because my friend’s in the hospital and I won't be able to update my blog until tonight: I spotted Ladybug carrying a civilian away after the fight, so she's confirmed to be in good health. Chat Noir left the premise right after he beat the akuma, but I'm guessing he’s alright as well? The akuma victim’s identity will be kept confidential for the time being but he is recovering with his family at the moment. Stay awesome, Ladybloggers! Alya out.
lizzyblogs247: thanks alya!
laladybug99: ya thank you!!!
Marinette creeps into the bakery from the back door. It’s the middle of a Wednesday and it’s unnerving to see the place so empty, free of the bustle and chatter of customers, free of her mother’s warm smile and her father’s boisterous laugh. She has a million and one texts from Alya, and she sends her a quick reply, telling her that they would talk later. A moment later, she sends another two.
M: alya please don’t tell anyone it was my dad
M: i know that its pretty clear that it was but hes gone through enough without being swarmed by reporters
Alya’s text back is almost instantaneous.
A: ofc girl i wouldnt do that to you
A: also, idk if you know but adrien’s in the hospital, nino just called me.
M: i know
Marinette stares at the two little words, at a loss for what else to type. She settles for sliding her phone back into her pocket and hoping that Alya would understand. She walks past the register, past the stale pastries in the display and the still-simmering oven. With each step she takes, her nervousness increases.
What will she say to him? What could she say? Hey, Papa, glad you’re okay, just letting you know that your knives might be a little too sharp and they really fucking hurt when they’re shoved into your ribcage.
Definitely. Probably just the information her father needs in his vulnerable state. Congrats on being the first akuma to almost kill me; we should go out for cupcakes!
Marinette sighs and walks through the bakery door that leads to their adjacent home.
They’re in the living room, flipping through a book that Marinette recognizes to contain their wedding pictures. Both of their eyes are a little red, and when her eyes meet theirs and she sees the worry and the concern and the guilt she can’t help but feel tears well up.
“Papa,” She sobs, and she’s suddenly enveloped by two sets of arms, one significantly larger than the other.
“Oh, darling,” Tom Dupain whispers, his normally bright and cheery voice choking up.
Marinette hates to see her parents like this. She may be a superhero, but her maman and papa were always the strong ones, the ones who would protect her if anything went pear-shaped. She holds them tighter.
A question is still niggling at the corner of her mind, had been slowly growing since Chat had first told her that her father had been akumatized. It nearly eats her whole and she needs to ask, she needs to know.
“What happened, Papa?” She asks softly, blinking away her tears.
Her father looks stricken. He slowly releases her and retreats back to the couch with her mother, hand-in-hand. He stares at his knees, apparently trying to find the words to answer.
Sabine is the one who speaks up first.
“There was a large delivery order that had come in,” she explains, keeping one hand on her lap and the other on her husband’s clenched fist. “Your father was busy at the ovens, and you were at school, so I volunteered to run it over. It was only supposed to be a small trip, a fifteen-minute walk.” She smiles, a little sadly. “It didn’t end up working out that way.”
“What happened?” Marinette repeats, her voice little more than a whisper. Anxiety pools in her stomach, and her hands start to shake. She has a feeling that she knows where this story is heading, and it aches somewhere deep in her bones.
“It was my fault,” Sabine says plainly. “I was in a rush; I didn’t look before I stepped out onto the road. I heard a honk and a scream and then… nothing.” Tom lets out a pained noise, and Marinette inhales through her nose, trying to keep her hurricane of emotions sealed beneath her skin.
“He just...drove past,” her father finally says. “He didn’t even stop to make sure that she was okay. And she died. I held her as she stopped breathing, and I swear to God that I have never experienced so much pain in my entire life.”
Marinette feels a trickle of warmth trace down her face. And another.
“And then…” she says, trailing off, urging him to continue.
He sighs. “I was beyond grief, I was beyond hurt. I was angry. I wanted whoever had done that to my love to suffer just as much as I was suffering. And then there was this voice…”
“And he told you exactly what you wanted to hear,” Marinette murmurs. Her father nods.
“He told me that I could get my revenge, that I could maybe even get her back if I gave him Ladybug and Chat Noir’s jewelry. After that...everything’s fuzzy. I can’t remember much.” He shakes his head and buries it in his hands.
Sabine embraces him, but Marinette just stands in place.
“You stabbed Ladybug,” she says.
It’s not accusatory, just stated as fact. They live in Paris, the sky is blue, Tom Dupain had stabbed Ladybug and almost killed her.
Oh God, her father had almost killed her.
Oh God, her father had almost lost both of them.
She hadn’t been fast enough, she hadn’t been good enough, and her father had almost been left all alone to stew in his guilt because of her inadequacy. She had let too much Marinette out during her fight with her pére, and she had nearly destroyed her family because of it.
She had hurt her partner because of it.
Her papa looks at her, and his eyes are swimming with tears. Marinette’s stomach drops even more.
“I know,” he says, and he looks so miserable that Marinette curses herself for even bringing it up.
“And…” Her father clasps his hands together, “I wish I would say that I regretted being chosen as one of Hawk Moth’s supernatural...freaks.”
“But you don’t,” Marinette whispers.
Tom hesitates. “I don’t. Because Ladybug and Chat Noir brought your mother back to me. Because I would rather get corrupted a hundred times over than lose her.” He turns to his wife, tears streaking down his face, and he holds her like one would hold broken glass: carefully, gently, like it was all a dream and he would wake up soon.
Marinette is a statue, feeling like an intruder in her own home. Her hands have stopped shaking, but her heart is going double-time, thoughts floating through her head like debris caught in a raging current.
And she died…
There was this voice…
I could get my revenge…
I wish I could say...
The thoughts, the phrases and words and memories of blinding pain swirl around in her mind, and they hurt more because it’s all her fault, she shouldn’t done more, she should’ve buried Marinette so deep inside her that she didn’t feel anything. And when the amalgam of thoughts finally come together Marinette is sure of one thing, above all else:
He can’t ever know.
“Chat, please, come back to me.”
“Chat, please, oh God, oh God.”
“I love you, please.”
“Your ring, Chat, wake up before I see you. Or after, I don’t care, just wake up, please, Chaton.”
i promise i will make this happy....eventually.