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It wasn’t unusual, in fact Adrien turned down various girls every week, but he hadn’t expected it from Marinette of all people. Then again, thinking about how nervous she always seemed around him it did make a lot of sense.

“I’m sorry, Marinette. It’s just that I already have someone that I like.” It was his standard answer for these things, and he feels terrible for using it. This isn’t just a random fangirl off the street, this is his classmate and friend.

“No, it’s ok.” She wouldn’t make eye contact with him. “I knew you didn’t like me like that, but I just needed to hear it to move on.” Her hands were trembling as they clutched the strap of her bag.

“Um. I gotta go.” Marinette’s usually soft voice wavered and cut off into a sob as she turned and ran down the hall.

Adrien could only watch her go, letting the girl get ahead of him so that she could calm down in private. He felt like an asshole, but he couldn’t just date whoever asked him to. Adrien was destined to be with Ladybug, he just knew it.

“Yikes, that’s going to be awkward tomorrow. About time though, that one’s been watching you from day one!”

Adrien scowled down at the kwami popping its head out of his bag. “Thanks Plagg, that makes me feel so much better.”

Plagg shrugged his tiny shoulders in a way that came across as “What else did you expect from me?” and made a face. “Not my fault you’re stuck on your own unrequited love. I keep telling you to move on, and that girl was a better candidate than the others I’ve seen confess to you.”

The kwami wasn’t wrong, but Adrien still held out hope that Ladybug would eventually come around. He’d been dawdling on his way out of the mostly empty school when he heard crying coming from the girls’ bathroom.

He winced, knowing that he was the cause, and was about to hurry away when he saw it. A black butterfly flitted past him and under the door to the bathroom.

No…” Adrien breathed out, horrified that he had caused Marinette so much distress that she had attracted an Akuma. And god, he didn’t want to have to fight her.

The thought that he might be able to trap the thing before it reached her entered his mind, and in the next moment he was racing into the girls’ bathroom.

Adrien looked around desperately, but she wasn’t by the sinks. His heart lurched as he heard the one-sided conversation coming from one of the stalls. He was too late.

“Make him love me?” Marinette’s voice sounded hesitant. “But… it wouldn’t be love if he didn’t have a choice.”

There was a pause as Hawkmoth replied, no doubt using his silky voice to convince her that he was doing her a favour. Finally, she spoke again. “No, I won’t do it because I love him!” Another pause, shorter this time. “Because I’m stronger than that, and I’m stronger than you!

A white butterfly tumbled over the door to the stall, flapping about awkwardly and almost looking disorientated before it flying away. Adrien followed it back out of the bathroom, but it was gone.

A low, impressed sounding whistle came from his bag.

“Wow, you sure you’re not interested in the girl?” Plagg was staring back where they came from.

Adrien was more concerned with what he’d just witnessed. “What just happened?” He followed the kwami’s gaze back to the bathroom where Marinette was still hiding.

“Like she said, the girl was stronger than Hawkmoth. Her heart was so pure that she cleansed the Akuma instead of being taken over by it. I haven’t seen anyone do that in… a good few hundred years.”

“Wow.” Was all Adrien could get out. It was kind of amazing, to think that someone with such a pure heart could love him so much…

It was the first time he’d ever been unsure if his love for Ladybug was as strong as he’d thought.