Chapter 1: Leaving Home
At 11 o’clock at night in a nearly empty train station was a young girl, stood beneath a small canopy of an open air boarding platform to stay dry as rain fell steadily from the storm clouds. It wasn’t an ugly storm or a brutal one, but it still rained. It was still cold.
The young girl reached up, tightening her coat around her thin body and watching the empty rails before her with a kind of tension about her.
‘I can’t believe I’m doing this,’ her thoughts quietly repeated for the hundredth time, the girl swallowing against an ever building lump in her throat as she nervously looked down to check her luggage.
Three red bags, one strapped to the top of a rolling suitcase, another sitting patiently on the ground. Three bags was all she had.
She sighed deeply, her breath making a small white cloud as the air turned just cold enough to allow it, its chill bringing memories of home. The train station felt so cold in comparison to the house she had left behind, the smell of rain on the railways in such startling juxtaposition to the smells of the bakery she grew up in. Her fingers tightened on her coat, just shy of trembling as she bit down on her lip.
How could she really be doing this… what was she thinking? Three bags? That’s it? Three bags and a bank account with barely enough to get by and she really thought she could just…go. Start a life somewhere so far away. A small village near the sea, a seamstress shop with a ‘hiring’ sign stuck plainly in the window. A friend she had met on only a handful of occasions but had felt like she had known all her life. A promise of a life with simple joys and miracles, a life on her own… for the first time in her life.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng closed her eyes, taking a shaky breath to steady herself and feeling the sharp chill of the storm in her lungs as she did. She was acutely aware of the ghosting spray of rain water as it collided with the cobbled stone ground, the sound of it the only thing apart from her own heartbeat.
There was only one train left to arrive, and no other passengers to take it. She wondered if she would be the only one on board and if that was some kind of omen, an empty passenger care warning her to turn back and just go home. Or maybe it would be a sign that this really was a moment to decide the course of her life.
She chuckled once, the sound strange when mixed with the rain.
She was scared. To make a decision to just start a new life away from home was… insane. But it was also exciting. Though she was terrified and uncertain she could still fantasize about everything life would present her in her new home. She thought of pale pink curtains and hand sewn pillows, placemats and ceramic eating bowls. They were simple thoughts but they were thoughts of a home she would make for herself, they were images of a place that could be ‘home’ because she made it home. Living away from her parents for the first time.
Could she really be so bold? Or when the train came would she even get on board?
She liked to think she would but…
When she first heard the rumble of train she thought it was thunder, but as the feeling of the locomotive made its way to the souls of her shoes she felt her breath catch. Her heart started to pound in her ears as she opened her eyes, looking down the dark rainy track to see a bright single light on the face of a great train approaching the station.
One train heading west, with her its only passenger.
Waiting for the train to come to a stop was some of the longest moments of her life, and she wasn’t sure if the feeling in her chest was anxiety or anticipation, or perhaps a mix of both. The ground rumbled and the gentle sound of the rain was drowned out by a long jarring sound of steam and brakes, huge rolling pins chugging to a halt in front of her.
‘This is it,’ she thought, hefting her bags and feeling with one laden hand for the ticket nestled safely in her pocket. ‘This is it… Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared… It’s time to live our own life. Alya is waiting for us… A life is waiting for us. I can do this. I can do this.’
Marinette took a long moment to gather her wits, settling the weight of her bags before taking a step forward, shivering in the chill of the rain as it dampened her hair.
She jumped a little when the great door swung open, the heavy metal clanging and the face of a monkey in a conductor’s uniform leaning out. She hated to admit that she jolted slightly, not incredibly used to having animals around. The city she had grown up in was very far inland and mostly populated by humans. It wasn’t that she had never known them, she had had many animal friends growing up, she just had never met a monkey before. She’d have to adjust though, animals lived primarily in villages and she was moving to one herself. It was incredibly likely that there would only be a handful of humans in her entire community.
“Hello miss!” the monkey greeted cheerily, and even though it was cold and the rain was still falling she felt significantly warmer. It was nice not to be alone.
The monkey lifted a paw, tipping his hat and grinning. “Are you the only one boarding?”
“Yes sir,” Marinette answered quickly, fumbling for her ticket and drawing slightly closer to escape the rain in the shelter of the train. “I’m going to uh, Miracle Village? It’s far from here.”
The monkey whistled, making a strange chuckling type sound to itself as it inspected her ticket, stepping aside to let her board. “That’s far indeed Ms.! You’ll be on this train for quite a while but don’t fret, we’ve made sleeping preparations like you requested. It’s a nice train miss, we’ll get you there by tomorrow morning. Let me take your bags.”
Marinette tried to tell him it was alright but he was having none of it, grabbing one bag from her arm with his tail and running off with the others wheeled along the ground, urging her to follow him.
She hesitated for a second, looking out the door and into the falling rain not reluctantly, but with a sense of… farewell. That’s how she’d describe it, it was like she was saying goodbye.
“Goodbye,” she said aloud, her fingers twisting together as she look a slow step after the helpful conductor. “I’ll visit soon… after I’m settled.”
She lingered only a moment more before taking a deep breath, padding down the hallway after her attendant.
Marinette walked until she found a compartment with the monkey inside, the kind gentleman stowing her bags and happily gesturing to the sleeping cot made up near a long window.
“The door slides shut so no one will bother you miss, not that there is many others aboard at the moment,” he chuckled again, paws on his hips. “You’re alone in this section but there are some passengers further down so don’t be spooked if you hear them walking around. You’re the only one going as far as Miracle village but I’m not sure if we’re picking anyone up in between. I’ll leave you to get settled, but would you like me to come and wake you up by a certain time?”
Marinette quickly waved her hand, smiling at his kindness but shaking her head. “Oh no it’s alright I have an alarm. We’re arriving at 8?”
“Yes!” he confirmed, stepping towards the door, his tail twitching with his almost overwhelming positive energy. “We’re never late! Except when we are, hehe!”
With that he bounded out, bowing and tipping his hat again before sliding the compartment door shut and leaving to go about his work.
Marinette looked after him, staring at the door for a second before giggling quietly to herself. If monkeys were all so energetic she could imagine herself getting along with them fine… she wondered if any lived in the village.
She shook her head, black pigtails swaying with the force as she turned to face her cot, jumping slightly when she felt the train start again with a great rumble.
“Hope I can sleep through that,” she muttered to herself, not bothering to change at all just draping her coat over a nearby seat and kicked off her boots.
“I can’t believe I’m going through with this…” she whispered to herself, crawling into her sleeping space and trying to get settled as the train started with a lurch.
The cot was warm and watching the rain connect and slide down in little rivers down the window was relaxing but… she still felt that twisted anxious feeling in her chest, the compartment feeling overwhelmingly dark and empty.
This had all started with a message. And to think she was actually doing it…
About two weeks prior Marinette had been working in her family’s bakery when her mother had come down into the store front with an amused expression on her face.
“Alya is messaging you,” she said with a laugh, rolling her eyes at something. “Quite a bit in fact. I’ll take over for you if you want to check it, she is being rather insistent.”
She hadn’t gone upstairs expecting a hundred different messages from her friend Alya, each one a different variation of her name demanding to be acknowledged.
Alya had been her best friend for years, the two of them meeting online in a chatroom and sticking together online in one form or another for years. It had been just the year prior when they had met for the first time, Alya taking a trip inland to visit Marinette specifically. After that they had been together in person a handful of times but always with Alya being the one to make the trip, never her. Marinette had never done it on purpose it had just always worked out like that, though Alya had always spoken highly of the village she had moved to once she moved out from her parent’s house that was also farther inland.
It was an animal village, and Alya had always wanted her to visit it. Marinette had thought about it but had never had the money, she’d been saving up to make it out for Alya’s birthday when the messages had started.
To put it simply Alya was urgent because of something that had come up in her town, something she figured would be of interest to her designer friend online.
It was a job at a place called ‘Sable Sisters’. According to Alya it paid well, was exactly what she had always wanted to do, had amazing co-workers, etc. etc. But the main thing she was excited about was-
“Alya: It’s here! In my town! I know you’re going to think I’m insane but you’ve been talking about moving out. I know your parents wanted you to work in the bakery but that’s not what you want! You want to design and make clothes and you can TOTALLY DO THAT. You should take the job! YOU SHOULD MOVE HERE.”
Her immediate response had been, “Are you freaking crazy,” but it had eaten at her. Alya had always talked in glowing terms of the small beautiful village, telling her its lore and all about her life there. Alya herself worked as a reporter and journalist for newspapers in neighboring slightly larger cities, but she mostly worked through online channels so she was always home. She had so much to say about the people (or rather animals for the most part) who lived there and… she had always made it sound so amazing.
And now there was a job there, and Alya had always made pointed remarks about the spare bedroom in her house.
A small house near the sea… in a village far from home. With a job she had always wanted, living with a friend she loved so deeply and almost never got to see.
And… it stuck with her. Every shift at the bakery, every errand and every family dinner it was on her mind. And once Alya had recruited her parents on the endeavor and got them completely on board it was impossible to escape. Her parents were excited, they wanted her to pursue design, they wanted her to live her own life. Going on such a grand adventure was exactly what they had hoped for with her, she deserved the opportunity.
She just had to be brave enough to go for it.
And now lying in that small cot as the train shook gently around her she wondered if this is what brave was. Alone in a cold train compartment on her way to a village so incredibly far away… is this what brave was?
Marinette closed her eyes, listening to the white noise of the train as it rolled through the night. She clutched her phone close to her chest, too anxious about sleeping through her alarm to let it go. She wasn’t even sure if she would sleep but…
She pulled her head beneath the covers, curling up slightly and trying to calm her pounding heart.
This was a good thing… she was moving out. She was going to live with her friend until she could get a place of her own, or maybe she would just stay there. She didn’t even have that much planned, the only thing she had was a job, somehow procured through an over the phone interview and glowing recommendation from her best friend.
Sable Sisters… she had heard of it before from Alya. She loved their clothes, they were all handmade and beautifully designed, but Alya always preferred the clothes Marinette mailed her. She wondered if the other villagers would agree… she didn’t know how to make clothes for animals. She’d probably have to use thicker material for animals with sharp spines… maybe different cuts for one with wings. It had seemed like such an intriguing challenge but now she was just intimidated, her addled brain looking for any excuse to make her panic.
Marinette clenched her jaw, closing her eyes and forcing herself to calm down. She was already on the train, all the arrangements had already been made. She was starting a new life in a new place whether she liked it or not, and she was going to rise to the challenge and she was going to be amazing. She could do this, and she was going to. There was no reason for her to lay there in fear, because she had Alya. Alya was going to be there for her but even if she wasn’t she was more than capable. She could, and she was going to. She kept repeating that to herself, saying it over and over again to herself as she lay in the dark.
She could… she could.
Hadn’t Alya always said it was called Miracle Village because it was a place where miracles happened?
“Pardon me, Ms. Marinette? We’ll be arriving soon! I wanted to make sure you were awake.”
The voice came through the closed door, Marinette looking away from the window as she brushed her hair to call back.
“Yes I’m awake sir! Thank you!”
“Alright then,” the muffled voice answered back, the sound of padded feet fading down the station car as he went about his business.
Inside her compartment Marinette pulled her hair into two uniformed pigtails, watching as the world flashed by in a blur of green and brown on the other side of the window.
“New day…” she whispered to herself, eyes drifting closed. “New life…”
She opened her eyes to check her outfit almost compulsively at this point, a simple ladybug print shirt paired with cute blue overalls that ended in shorts. Alya had messaged her that it was warm in Miracle Village even for spring, and she seemed to have left the storm behind in the night.
Marinette shifted on her cot to stare at her bags set neatly on the floor, all ready to be lifted and dragged out with her as soon as the train stopped. Which it would… very soon.
She took a deep breath, hands on her exposed knees as she waited anxiously for the long train whistle that would announce the approaching station.
It was another twenty minutes before that whistle finally rang, and when it did she stood immediately, gathering up her bags and opening the compartment door as she had practiced in her mind a dozen times. She stepped out and into the hall, slowly making her way to the front, careful to shift her weight as the train began to slow down.
Alya had promised to be waiting for her, and the excitement of seeing her friend again was enough to keep her walking until she was faced with the doors, the world still blurred past it but slowly coming into focus as the station neared.
“Miracles…” she whispered to herself, gripping her bags tightly as her heart hammered in her chest. “Time for miracles. Time for a new life Marinette, a new amazing life. And you are going to be okay.” She laughed a little breathlessly to herself, undeniably nervous as the train reached a crawl, a cobbled stone station visible beyond. “Oh gosh I need a miracle… or good luck. Either or at this point.”
Marinette’s breathing hitched as the train finally stopped with a lurch, the release of steam as the great locomotive ground to a halt filling the air.
“Never did have good luck…” she muttered a little dramatically, pulling her bags close and trying to be optimistic as at last, the train doors opened.
And she arrived at Miracle Village.
Marinette took the first step bravely, her feet touching the ground of her new home and sending a phantom electric shock through her body. She breathed in and the air was… clear, almost sweet, and she started to feel something besides anxiety. She started to feel excited.
Marinette’s steps quickened, a giddy laugh slipping out as she looked around at the humble mostly wooden station building beyond the cobbled platform. The door frames were painted green, the color and the building as a whole well kept. To her surprise there were some folks about, every last one of them animals going about their business. Actually she stood corrected, there were two humans, one a man in a red baseball cap waving with a friendly grin, and a wom-
Marinette was thrown backwards a step as that same woman sprinted forward, tackling her in a crushing hug and yelling her name excitedly. Marinette took a second to lean back and look at the woman’s face before-
“Alya!” she shouted back, instantly equally as excited, “Oh my god it’s so amazing to see you!”
The redheaded ecstatic woman took a step back to grab her long time long-distance friend by the shoulders, her smile absolutely infectious as her bright eyes shined in joy.
“Marinette!” she said again, laughing at nothing at all as she crushed her with another hug, “You’re really here I can’t believe it! You’re really here!”
Marinette hugged her back with equal enthusiasm, laughing too as they rocked back and forth with Marinette’s carried bag squashed awkwardly between them. Just like that so much of her anxiety vanished, because this was the most important part about leaving. Finally getting to spend time with her friend.
“I can’t believe it either,” she said back, the statement honestly true. “God this is so crazy! You look amazing!”
“And you!” Alya shot back, hopping in place in a way that made her gently curled hair bounce and shine in the station lights. “Rocking those adorable overalls, and the pigtails as usual.”
Marinette reached up, playing with one of the tails with a giggle. “Hey they look good!”
“Wasn’t knocking them, super cute right Nino?” Alya called out, suddenly turning backwards to address the man from before who was now approaching them with a chuckle.
He was dark skinned much like Alya, gold eyes shifting into a friendly wink as he said, “Totally. Nice to meet the legend behind all of Alya’s obsessive praise.”
Marinette blushed slightly as Alya turned indignantly, gesturing towards Marinette as she said, “it’s not obsessive look at her she’s adorable!”
Nino just laughed, headphones resting on his shoulders shifting a little from the movement when something finally occurred to the newcomer.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, dropping a bag and extending a hand. “You’re Nino! Alya’s mentioned you before, hi! I’m Marinette its so nice to meet you!”
Nino looked pleased as he accepted the handshake, his smile so friendly Marinette instantly took a liking to him.
“Alya’s mentioned me?” he asked jokingly, “Don’t believe a word.”
Marinette shared a laugh with her new found friend as Alya scoffed, before Marinette noticed that Nino was looking past her.
“Waiting for someone?” she asked, looking over her shoulder too even though she knew that she had been alone in her compartment.
“Yeah actually,” he replied, looking around the station. “I’ve got a friend moving in today too, I had kind of hoped he would show on the same train you did so you guys could meet him, but I haven’t been in contact with him today so I’m not actually sure when he’s arriving.”
“I don’t think there are many more inland trains coming in today,” Alya spoke up, looking down at her phone as if to verify. “You sure he’s coming today?”
Nino pursed his lips, taking another long look around. “He said he was, but he hasn’t been able to talk to me much. He’s sort of moving on the down low so he hasn’t risked a lot of contact.”
“Well my train ran through the night,” Marinette hypothesized, “If he was that set on secrecy this would have been the one to take.”
“He a criminal or something?” Alya asked, and Nino instantly burst into laughter, talking as he reached down to pick up one of Marinette’s bags for her.
“No it aien’t like that, but I’m not gonna share way too much either. I’ll let him do that, but you guys will like him I swear. He’s really cool, he’s rooming with me till he finds his own place.”
Marinette floundered helplessly for a second as all her bags were taken but gave in not long after with a laugh, too happy to protest much. She looked up at Nino as they started to walk, finding conversation effortless. “You don’t seem like the kind of guy to be friends with anyone shifty, so I’d love to meet him when he arrives. We can wait if you want,” she offered, stopping in place to prove her point.
“Would that be alright?” he asked again anyways, looking over to Alya who shrugged.
“Yeah you waited with me, and Marinette doesn’t have loads of stuff. We can wait till the train empties.”
Nino thanked them both, carrying the bags over to a long green bench and setting them down as the girls chatted excitedly. He watched their banter with a smile, glad for Alya that her friend was with her at last. He understood the feeling, he just hoped he’d get to have the same sort of animated conversation himself.
“It’s all set up,” Alya was saying as she sat down, “I cleaned out the whole spare bedroom and bought a new comforter and put a dresser in there. There isn’t a mirror or anything yet, but I put an old armchair I had in there too. You can paint and decorate or do whatever you want as soon as you’re settled, and I totally stocked up on all your favorite food. If you aren’t too wiped out I can show you around town once we drop your stuff off too!”
Marinette looked around the train station, allowing herself to feel excitement for her situation. “I’m awake!” she said with a giggle, “I’d love to explore! I need to pick up some basic stuff if there is a store anywhere.”
“Nook’s nephews will have what you need probably,” Nino cut in, leaning over to join the conversation, “They have a store on Main Street. The shop you are going to be working at is in that same area.”
Marinette’s hands flashed up to her face, making a small noise of surprise. “Ah that’s right I should probably tell them I’m here! Once we drop off my stuff we should go there first, so I know where it is. Ah I’m kind of nervous to meet them, maybe I should wear something better…”
“No way, you made that yourself it’s the perfect thing to wear,” Alya disagreed, adjusting her glasses as if to inspect her more closely and finding her just as cute as the last time she had looked.
Marinette hummed to herself in thought, plucking at her ladybug shirt and nodding a little as she rethought her words. “Yeah… maybe.”
“Oh actually,” Nino piped up again, getting Marinette’s attention to point across the expanse of the boarding area, "there is a little office window thing over that way. If you ask I bet they’ll give you a map of the town.”
Marinette hesitated only a moment before she was on her feet, thanking Nino as she ran off to get it. A map is exactly what she needed! That way she would know where the shops were and she could pick some things up and talk to her new bosses and- Marinette giggled as she jogged across the station, apologizing the a grumpy looking penguin as she passed him and almost tripped him. She was excited, now that she was actually there it wasn’t quite so terrifying. She had so many things she needed to do! There was no time to be paralyzed with nerves!
Marinette asked politely for the map and waited patiently as the kind animal working darted off to retrieve it. She kept giggling to herself now and again, actually twirling on the spot in her sudden jubilation. This was going to be okay! She was going to be okay! Miracle Village would be her mirac-
Marinette’s foot caught on an edge of a cobbled stone in the flooring as she came down from her twirl, tilting the temporarily optimistic girl off balance and threatening to throw her over in a sprawling mess. She pin wheeled her arms, a quite squeak slipping out as she actually started to fall, bracing for the impact when suddenly, there wasn’t one.
Marinette instinctively gripped onto the support that was offered her, something firm and warm grabbing hold of her just before she could plummet to the ground. Strong arms were holding her, stabilizing her and drawing her close on instinct, so that when she looked up, it was into the bright gorgeous green eyes of a young man.
She was so close to him that her face flushed, but his looks would have been enough to manage that even without the proximity. He was… stunning actually, handsome and kind looking even at a glance. He was blonde, his hair slightly disheveled from travel and expression soft and concerned. And, she noticed a moment later as he quickly pulled her to her feet, he looked flustered too.
“Haha, hey,” he said suddenly, standing her up and taking a respectful step away. He grinned, his arms dropping to his sides as he allowed her a moment to collect herself. “Uh, watch your step.”
Marinette didn’t speak right away, so absolutely embarrassed to have just been basically French dipped by a total stranger in the middle of a train station that words were beyond her. However even mortification would not allow her to be rude.
“I-I’m sorry!” she blurted out, bowing her head and feeling her cheeks burning. “Thank you for catching me, I’m so so sorry!”
She heard his laugh again and looked up at the sound, gasping quietly as she watched him laugh. It was something… pure, and warm. She found that her words escaped her again.
“It’s okay!” he responded at last, grinning at her. “I’m glad you didn’t fall. I’m actually kind of surprised to see another human here, I now they aren’t really common in villages like this. I figured my friend Nino was going to be the only one.”
Marinette blinked, staring up at this tall handsome boy for a second as what he said sunk in. “Wait, d-did you say Nino?”
The stranger looked like he was about to reply before from across the station the man they spoke of called out, the two of them turning in time to see Nino sprinting across the station with his arms wide.
“Adrien!” he called out, tackling the stranger in much the same way Alya had tackled her. “Dude you’re here!”
“Nino!” the stranger replied, apparently named Adrien as he excitedly hugged his friend. “It’s great to see you!”
Marinette stared on as the boys reconnected, going through the same things Alya and her had just a few minutes before. It actually took the nice working animal tapping a map against her arm to snap her out of it, accepting it with a hurried thank you.
“I’m so excited to be here!” Adrien was saying, Marinette noticing the single large black rolling suitcase with him for the first time. “Sorry I hadn’t texted you in a while, I had to switch phones and forgot to send you the new number.”
“Hey it’s fine you’re here bro!” Nino said happily, clapping his friend on the back, looking over and blinking once at Marinette before saying, “Oh crap I’m being rude! Dude, this is Marinette I just met her myself. And you met her judging by that wicked dip you two just pulled.”
Both addressed parties went slightly red in the face, Adrien trying to stutter something out when they were joined by a fourth, Alya smiling almost mischievously as she took in how flustered Marinette looked.
Luckily Nino distracted her with an introduction, putting a hand on her back and gesturing to his friend.
“Alya, this is Adrien! He’s who we were waiting for. Adrien this is my buddy Alya, she works as a reporter and lives more towards the ocean than I do. Her friend Marinette came in on the same train you did to start working here as a fashion designer.”
Adrien and Alya shook hands, but his attention was quickly pulled back to the awkward young lady clutching a map, his interest peaked. “Oh, you’re a fashion designer? That’s awesome, I’m actually a fashion model myself. Or, well I was before moving here anyways. Don’t really have a job yet but I’ll figure something out.”
Marinette stared at him, blue eyes wide as he just smiled charmingly, her pulse quickening slightly. Before she could say anything though Nino was talking again, hopping in place.
“We’ll set you up with something dude, get you away from all that high-blood crap like you wanted. Teach you to fish, sell some bugs, man stuff. I’ve got your back man this is going to be awesome!”
Nino started to pull him away, Adrien saying something with a laugh like, “You can just sell bugs?” but they were walking ahead, Alya shaking her head with a chuckle as she doubled back to the bench they had been sitting at to collect Marinette’s luggage.
Marinette’s head darted between the two groups before she ran off to join Alya, grabbing the biggest of the bags as they turned to follow the boys towards the entrance of the station.
“Oh my god he is cute isn’t he?” Alya said suddenly, walking alongside her friend.
“I know right?” Marinette instantly agreed, one hand touching her cheek. “I can’t believe he caught me like that I’m so humiliated. He probably thinks I’m a ditz. Right when I met him too, ugh, what a first impression.”
“No way!” Alya comforted her, looking ahead at the boys who stood waiting just beyond the doors. “He totally thinks you’re cute, and he seemed interested in your job too.”
“Cute!?” Marinette sputtered indignantly, almost falling all over again. “Where are you getting that from? I just met him!”
“But you already think he’s cute,” she pointed out, laughing at Marinette’s expression. “Oh come on you just moved in let yourself have the good things! Plus, I told you the legend of this town right? It’s where miracles happen, it’s famous for bringing together soulmates. What if your one and only is mister model over there?”
This time Marinette really did almost fall, making her friend laugh at her so loud the boys actually turned to look. Marinette hissed in a low voice, “Oh my god don’t be ridiculous I just met him! You’re just trying to embarrass me!”
Alya was snickering, whispering too as they drew closer to the boys. “You guys just happened to move in on the same day? Don’t tell me that’s a coincidence. He’s perfect!”
Marinette huffed, face red as she whispered back, “Oh yeah well didn’t you say you and Nino moved in on the same day too forever ago? What do you say to that huh?”
Alya faltered, blinking once before rolling her eyes and scoffing. “I call that coincidence.”
The rebuttal had been enough to quiet her as they finally met back up in a single group, Nino still filled with unchecked energy as he gestured happily out from the train station.
“Welcome dudes!” he said now that the newcomers were gathered, drawing their eyes to the gorgeous natural view banking away from the station. “This is your new home, Miracle Village!”
Marinette took a step forward, unable to contain a gasp at the sight of such naturally beautiful trees forming slow rolling forests, cobbled roads winding through rich flowing grass, blooming flowers at the very start of spring waving lazily in the breeze. The sight of the crystal blue ocean just visible beyond the stretch of the town, a few colored rooftops only just visible through the canopy. It was so wonderful, tiny yellow birds flying through the air and chirping to announce their arrival, flying out over the station and out of sight as Marinette felt like her heart would burst.
She was there. She had made it… a place where miracles were real.
And to her right she heard Adrien speak, so she turned to look up into his shining green eyes once again as he smiled a smile that was meant just for her.
“Alya this whole place is so beautiful,” Marinette said, her voice awed as she pulled her bag down a dirt path winding next to a Cliffside overlooking the ocean. “You really live right next to the sea!”
“We live next to the sea,” she reminded her friend with a laugh, shifting the bags in her arms as she started to fish in her pocket for her keys. “It’s not right on the cliff but you can hear the ocean at night and you’re on the second floor so you can see it too.”
Marinette couldn’t help the giggle as it tumbled out, picking up the pace and forcing Alya to walk faster. “I can’t believe this is real! I’m so excited!”
“Wait up girl!” Alya said with a teasing tone, fast walking too now as she found her friend’s excitement to be infectious.
Marinette was smiling so wide it was starting to hurt her cheeks, her heart swelling every time she looked out over the ocean and back at the vibrant forest. It was so… natural, small boulders decorating the side of the cliff and marking the turns in the paths that lead back to the forest, one thinner one continuing on and she knew it lead to her new home. She walked faster still, unable to keep from gasping as she moved through the trees lining strewn in the front yard, revealing a modest but gorgeous two story Oceanside cottage.
“Alya,” she breathed out, pulling up to a sharp stop as she looked up the soft blue gray paneled walls with white trim, stepping forward to place a hand on the white painted wood railing leading up the few short steps to the front door. The railing felt warm from the sun as she moved her hand across the smooth finish, words failing her as she looked up at the dark blue door. The trees created scattered shadows that fell over the front yard, the shifting sunlight making the few groups of colorful flowers glow against the rich color of the grass. The home stood firm, well built and complete with a small white mailbox that was surrounded by a ring of dark blue orchids crawling up the support and swaying along with everything else in the gentle ocean breeze.
It was gorgeous…
“Welcome to your new home Mari,” Alya said softly, respecting the moment and letting her friend take it in. She watched as the designer raised a hand to her mouth, eyes watering as she took a slow breath. “Want to use your key?” Alya asked, unsurprised when Marinette nodded her head and fished out the small silver key Alya had given her on the way there. She took the steps slowly, looking over every inch of the short white wood deck as she approached the front door, taking another deep breath as she unlocked the door with a click.
The thick dark wood door swung open obediently when Marinette pushed against it, the girl stepped over the threshold and felt momentarily overwhelmed.
It was simple, it was warm. The front door opened into a large area used as a sitting room off to the left with long white wood paneled windows looking out into the front yard. There were many windows, making every space feel open and connected, the stone tiled kitchen floor visible beyond the bend of a wall. A round table placed squarely before the largest of the windows pointing out towards the back of the house, the ocean visible beyond and its pale wood face scattered with papers and all the small things that made a space feel lived in.
Alya was making a comment about how she did clean before Mari had arrived but it just seemed to get messy again, but Marinette didn’t care. She pulled her bag inside and set it to the side of the entrance before turning back towards her friend, grappling her into a tight hug.
“It’s perfect,” she said quietly, her voice hoarse with emotion. “It’s so perfect… thank you.”
“Oh Mari…” Alya said in reply, fondly patting her friend’s hair before separating to close the door. “Alright girl, let’s get your bags in your room. The stairs are to the right, you got the bag?”
“Yeah,” she said quickly, sniffing to keep from actually crying and grinning again before picking her heavy bag clear off the floor in her enthusiasm and turning to head up the stairs.
Alya was following up behind, explaining briefly where bathrooms were and which sinks sort of leaked and how there was one nail somewhere along the baseboard that stuck up from the carpet so be careful. There had been rugs downstairs but for the most part things were either hardwood or stone. Upstairs, except for the bathrooms, everything was soft light colored carpet.
Marinette gasped when she reached the top, another window looking out over Alya’s sizable backyard with a perfect view of the crystal blue ocean over the cliff edge.
“You’re on the left,” Alya informed her, moving ahead of her friend to push the already ajar door with her hip. “I’ll put this near your dresser so you can unpack later, but we are showing you main street first before you wear yourself out.”
“Oh,” Mari breathed again, bouncing a little and nearly squeaking in excitement as she looked around her bedroom.
The walls were painted white, most likely by Alya since she knew the spare room had been blue before, and a comfortable looking queen bed with dark wood frame was pushed up along the far wall beneath a long flat glass window. Puffy white curtains hung around it and sunlight poured through the freshly cleaned glass, illuminating the fair sized room and simple dark wood dresser.
“We still need a mirror and stuff for in here but it’s got the basics,” Alya continued. “We can check the furniture available in town today when we go in. You don’t have a bathroom in here but I have one in mine so the one in the hall can be yours. That’s the one with the tub so you might need to share occasionally,” she said with a laugh, feeling her own heart swell as she watched Marinette bounce around. Seeing her there felt… better than she could describe.
“It’s perfect, it’s perfect! I need a desk, a long one and a moving chair and a mirror, it can go over here! By the closet, and a few garment bags and a small table for my sewing things! And I’ll need a waste basket… hm, a small one, what color should I paint? Or I could do a mural! Ooh Alya!” she cheered, jumping fully now and squealing happily as she finally overloaded. “I love it, I love this!”
“I told you!” Alya said happily, grabbing her friend for another hug as they both bounced in place and squealed in their excitement.
The two girls, chattered happily, Marinette dashing around and pointing out where things could go. Alya was making a mental list and flipping through her phone for catalogs even as she trailed behind her friend. Mari explored the whole house, peering in cabinets and running out into the backyard to twirl in place, giggling nearly nonstop.
Now that she was here? Now that she was home? She couldn’t understand how she had ever been nervous. It was perfect.
Her ecstatic dancing was interrupted a short while later when Alya called out from the doorway, phone in her hands.
“Hey girl it looks like we actually do need to go to town,” To Mari’s surprise she was rolling her eyes. “We’ve got dinner guests. Apparently Nino didn’t actually get enough food for him and Adrien, so instead of going to the store he just wants to bum off us. Normally I’d tell him I’m not his mom, buuuut,” she chuckled, winking at her friend who watched her in confusion. “He’d be bringing model boy over so I said yes. We need to go to the store to pick up some food for four.”
“Alya!” Marinette chastised weakly, slightly warm in the face. “I’ve been here for an hour can you stop trying to set me up with someone?”
“Not just someone,” she said, waving a finger. “An incredibly hot very nice someone who just moved to town. You’ll thank me later, but come with me! I don’t want to carry it all by myself and you need to see town anyways.”
Marinette pouted, sighing and shaking her head but unable to keep the smile away for long. Soon enough she was giggling again, running forward to dash through the door way and up the stairs.
“I’m grabbing my purse hang on!”
“Soo,” Alya drawled, happily watching her friend skip ahead on the simple dirt path as they headed to town. “Main Street has a bunch of little things. Not really much in the way of name brand anything or big shop names, but I like what we’ve got better anyhow. We’ve got T.I.Y which is like a home center run but Nook’s nephews.” Alya’s brow furrowed as she thought, tapping a slender finger to her chin. “There are two of them, twins I think? I don’t really know how it works with Villagers but uh, I can’t tell them apart so take from that what you will. Timmy and Tommy, which is equally as unhelpful.” Marinette chuckled up ahead as Alya continued. “We’ve got Able Sisters, as you know, and the attachment accessory shop. Kicks, which is the store name and the name of the skunk who runs it. Kicks is friends with Nino, you’ll see him around he’s cool. Shampoodle, she’s the salon type thing we have. She’ll do whatever, her combined with the Able Sisters keeps everyone looking good. You’ve got Nook’s home renovation place, that’s the place you’d go for hinges or mailboxes or fencing. A grocery store, a sort of hoodooiey Fortune shop, a club which Nino works at, aaand the Museum. That’s pretty much everything there. Off of Main Street and in town you have a few other little things run by Villagers like the Bait shop and stuff like that.”
Marinette made an ‘oooh’ type sound, looking back at her friend. “A museum! That’s awesome!”
Alya nodded, navigating the pair of them at a split in the road. “Most everything in it has been donated by people who live here, I’ve got a few things under my name. Pretty much every single fish in the aquarium section has been donated by Nino, he’s the resident angler. I’m sure you’ll get your name in there at some point too.”
Marinette hummed, drawing back a little and looking off the side of the path into the trees that bordered it. Alya walked beside her, looking over and raising an eyebrow at the marked downplay in enthusiasm.
“What’s up?” Alya asked, unhesitating when her friend was so transparent. They were almost there.
Marinette hummed again, fidgeting with her overalls and Alya rolled her eyes.
“Don’t be nervous! They’ll love you, the Able sisters are really sweet. I’ll go in with you if you want.”
“No no,” Marinette quickly shook her head, squaring her shoulders and looking ahead. “I can do it, I should meet them on my own since they have only known me through you so far really. I can do it I’m just nervous, I love it here. It would be so heartbreaking if I got fried before I even started and… and had to-“
“Work at the bait shop?” Alya said with a chuckle, not even entertaining the idea of Marinette having to leave for work reasons. She’d pick up a second job herself if she had to.
Marinette smiled, her anxiety still in her eyes but her stance as a whole a bit stronger. A good thing as well, the dirt beneath their feet had been traded for cobbled road and the signs of the first few shops were finally close enough to read.
“Miracle Village Museum,” Marinette read aloud as they approached the large Greek styled building, it’s columns gleaming and well kept. There were ponds winding around its corners like misshapen jelly beans, tiny lily pads decorating it’s surface with Dragon flies buzzing around lazily.
The doors were ajar as she passed them, a studious looking owl with a bowtie standing in its opening happily talking to a blue furred mouse like creature holding a teetering pile of boxes. The owl was hopping in place, taking his delivery from the top of the pile and vanishing inside the delivery mouse readjusting his burden and trotting off to continue his work. As he jogged passed them the mouse craned his neck awkwardly to regard them, giving a happy “’Ello there!” before heading down the path they had just left.
“That’s Eddie, he works as an errand boy. And the owl is Blathers, he runs the museum,” Alya informed her, looking down at her phone again before sighing heavily. “I can’t believe him! Nino is making requests for what I make tonight, he is unbelievable.”
Marinette giggled, still looking at the light foot traffic ahead of them as she said, “He’s nice isn’t he? You say he annoys you but you’re cooking for him anyways.”
“Well,” Alya grumbled, “he’d show up no matter what I did, and as much as I’d like to tell him to make his own food I’d rather not starve Adrien too.”
Marinette rolled her eyes, seeing through her friend like glass but electing not to say anything as they walked up on the sidewalk in front of the majority of the stores.
She looked up when a bell chimed and the door a little ways ahead of her opened to show a large but pleasant rhinoceros happily checking her shoes as she was escorted out by a sharp looking skunk.
“Fit’s ya well miss,” he was saying, leaning against the doorframe as his customer strutted off to show her new shoes to her friends nearby. The skunk adjusted his paperboy cap before looking over and catching sight of the women approaching and grinning. “Hey there Ms. Alya,” he said smoothly, nodding his head before locking his gaze on Marinette. “And another miss, hello there.”
“Hi! I’m Marinette, you must be,” she glanced up at the store’s sign, “Kicks right?”
Kicks gave that same smooth smile before extending a paw as Marinette approached, shaking her hand and nodding. “Yes mam.” He glanced down and leaned back with a chuckle. “Though I’ve got to say I like your shoes as is they’ve got travel wear on em. You must be the one moving in, one of em anyways. Welcome to town miss.”
“Thank you!” Marinette said happily, fond of the charming animal already as he gestured back into his store.
“I sell shoes and socks and things, but even if you aien’t buying I’d like to see you around all the same. Free shoe shines for friends, and free pair on your first visit. As a welcome gift.”
Marinette gasped, smiling as she thanked him again, Alya starting to gently pull her along. “Goodbye Kicks! I’ll stop by your store before heading home, but I have to go to Able Sisters to meet my new bosses.”
“Good luck to you,” he said simply, giving a short wave goodbye before heading inside, letting Alya pull away the new comer with a chuckle.
“He’s nice!” Marinette exclaimed, cheerfully, distracted as Alya suddenly pulled them to a stop.
“Told you he’s cool,” Alya chuckled, glancing up at the store sign they had paused under before looking back at her phone. “Okay, I’ll leave you here I’ve got to pick up the shopping. Just relax and you’ll be alright.”
Marinette didn’t react at first, confused and still reflecting on her new friend before she tensed, looking up at to see the artfully painted wooden sign declare the store to be-
“Ah! Able Sisters!” she panicked, gripping her overalls in sudden self-conscious impulse. “I didn’t know we were so close!”
Alya didn’t even look up from her phone, she just snickered. “You’ll be alright Mari, you already have the job remember?” She glanced up over the edges of her glasses and smiled supportively. “You got it girl. Just go in, and before you ask yes you look fine!”
Marinette froze with her mouth open, her nervous question snatched from her mouth and leaving her to scowl grumpily as Alya laughed and started to walk away.
Alya called a cheerful, “Good luck!” before she turned a corner and was out of sigh, leaving Marinette in front of her new place of employment.
She swallowed, smoothing her shirt and adjusting her pigtails before hesitantly walking to the door, about to open it when it suddenly swung outward and threatened to knock her over.
The sound of the storefront bell clanking against the glass of the door was jarring, more so than the actual impact which didn’t have much force behind it, it was the scare that almost tripped her up. She heard a tiny ‘oof!’ and looked up to see a large mound of fabric with two paws clutching at them to keep them from falling. There was a shift in the cloth before sudden a small black nose popped through, sniffing busily as a female voice said, “O-oh excuse me! Excuse me sorry, um, whomever.”
A brown furred hedgehog face peeked around the pile, mostly looking for the door but passing over Marinette, stopping suddenly as she took her in.
“Um, do you need help Miss Sable?” Marinette asked hesitantly, chuckling a little nervously but the hedgehog blinked once before calling over her shoulder.
“Mable!” she called, shuffling passed “Marinette is here!” She turned back, struggling to hold open the door with her foot and managing a soft smile. “Hello dear, welcome. Um, Mable will help you. I’ll be back.”
“Oh of course!” Marinette hurried to say, relieved to have been expected but she gasped when she was suddenly pulled inside by two firm well worked paws gripping her arm.
Sable let the door swing shut and shuffled away on her errand, leaving her slightly more energetic sister to greet the new employee. She seemed sweet, the girl. She had made a good impression in her interview, her designs lovely. Still though, Sable kept mostly to herself.
Inside the store Marinette was faced with a younger, blue furred hedgehog, obviously Mable, who smiled at her warmly.
“So nice to see you made it alright!” Mable was saying, gesturing for Marinette to follow. “Sorry about my sister, she’s not much for conversation with new people but she’ll warm up eventually. Your outfit is adorable! One of yours I’m assuming? Welcome welcome!”
Marinette laughed a little breathlessly though she hadn’t been doing the talking, bowing her head a little. “Thank you for the opportunity! I know I’m not meant to start till tomorrow but I wanted to check in and let you know I had arrived.”
“So responsible!” Mable commended her, smoothing her green lined apron with her paws and grimacing a little when her claws cause the frayed edges. “So much work lately,” she sighed, continuing a conversation Marinette could only guess at. Mable huffed, looking around the pleasant clothing store and finding some kind of fault with it. “So busy, that’s why we’ve hired you. Even between the three of us it’s been too much lately what with the orders from the city now. Labelle never helps much in the main store, keeps to her pretty things and you saw Sable,” Mable huffed good-naturedly but there was weariness behind it. “Amazing seamstress but hardly ever talks with the customers, always shooing them over to me. And of course it’s too much to expect her to take the phone orders! Humph,” she huffed, her small tail swishing slightly as she turned about with one paw on her hip and the other smoothing her spines. Then she turned to beam at Marinette again, saying happily “But now we have the extra set of paws! Hehe or rather hands! Nibble things, you’ll fit right in I promise. You can meet Labelle later, for now let’s show you the store! We’ve got a machine all ready for you.”
Mable set off, walking towards the back suddenly and forcing Marinette to follow her. She stifled a chuckle, seeing that Mable easily made up for any lack of enthusiasm her older sister presented. All business it seemed.
As she walked Marinette trailed a hand over a loose and supple mound of fabrics and smiled, all but skipping after her new boss.
She had a feeling she’d be alright after all.