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April Fool

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                It was a beautiful afternoon in Paris.  Place Des Vosges was bustling with activity.  A teenager with dark pigtails was chasing a smaller brunette child through the crowd.  The elder rolled her blue eyes in anger and blew out a puff of air in exasperation.  A loose bang caught in its wake.

                “Manon!”  Marinette called.  “Come back here!  It’s time to take you to the studio!” 

                She continued to chase mocha-skinned girl through the crowd, not letting her eyes stray from her small form.  The last thing she needed was to lose Mrs. Chamack’s daughter on the walk from her house to the studio.  When they had passed an entrance to Place Des Vosges, the little girl took off running.  Weaving through the goings on, she took a sharp turn and slammed into someone with an audible “oof.”

                When she looked up she was met with blonde hair, green eyes, and a bright smile.

                “Adrien!”  Marinette gasps.  She looks like a small frightened animal.  “Oh…no..no, Manon!”

                “Marinette.” Adrien looked concerned. “What’s wrong?”

                “I’ve lost Manon!”  Her eyes darting around the area.  “This is not good.”

                “I’ll help you find her!”  Adrien placed his hand on her shoulder.

                “Oh…I couldn’t…you don’t have to.” Marinette stuttered.

                “Poisson D’Avril!”  Manon’s voice rung out as she appeared behind Adrien’s shoulder.  Using her momentum, she pushed off of him and jumped into Marinette’s arms. 

                Adrien’s hand explored the space between his shoulder blades and came back holding a tiny paper fish.  A look of puzzlement crossed his face. 

                “I’ve tried to tell her it’s tomorrow.” Marinette huffed, half turning to place Manon on the ground.   The action exposing several more fish taped to her own back.  “We were making them so she could take them to school tomorrow.”

                “But it’s fun to do, now.”  Manon whined.

                “You need to have more patience.”  Marinette scolded her.  Seeming to have forgotten Adrien’s presence.

                “Still, this one is really cute.” He commented, inspecting the fish.    Marinette blushed.

                “I made a few of them myself.”  She smiled.  Manon reached out and placed another fish on Marinette’s back.

                “Poisson D’Avril!”  She covered her mouth with her hands and giggled.

                “Well, it looks like the panic is over.”  Adrien stated, scratching the back of his head absentmindedly.  “I have to get back to my photoshoot.”  He thumbed in the direction behind himself.

                “Ooh…Oh!  Come on, Manon!”  Marinette gathered the little girl in the direction of the studio.  “We’re going to be late!”

 

 

 

                Mrs. Chamack sat in a chair next to a very austere looking woman in a white business suit.  The woman had a very straight, short haircut that was as sharp as her nose. Dark eyes perfectly matched the brown of her hair.  Her gaze focused on the magenta-haired newscaster.

                “Ms. DiAmant, you’ve made quite a name for yourself in the business world.  What would you say is the secret to your success?” 

                “I have a very serious approach to everything I do in life.  No nonsense.  I grew up with the circus, and witnessed people laughing at my parents, day after day.  They were literal clowns, but I knew that the only way for me to get ahead was to take everything seriously.”  She ran her hand up and down in the air in front of her, ending with a flourish of her fingers.  “No one would ever even dare to laugh at me.”

                “POISSON D’AVRIL!”  Manon appeared from behind the stern woman.  Ms. DiAmant’s eyes widened in surprise.  The crew laughed at the precocious little girl’s stunt.

                “Manon!”  Mrs. Chamack grabbed her daughter’s hand and began to scold her, while simultaneously apologizing to her guest.

                 Ms. DiAmant heard none of it.  The only sound she could process was the laughter of the everyone surrounding her.  It closed in all around, her vision narrowed in on the maniacally grinning faces.  In an angry huff, she ran for the studio exit. 

***

                In a dark space, a dot of white light appears.  As it grows, a circular window with a butterfly pattern is revealed.  A dark figure clad in purple stands in the circle of light.  Hundreds of white butterflies scatter at his feet.

                “Oh, the carefully crafted mask is cracked, exposing insecurities in front of so many others.  This is the perfect breeding ground for negative emotions.”   He opened a gloved hand and a white butterfly fluttered in to land, trapped it with the other.  A dark swirling energy began to appear between his palms. 

                “Come my little Akuma.  Absorb all of this negative energy and use it to darken her heart.”  He released the now black butterfly into the air.  It flew out of the middle window pane and began its trek across the Parisian skyline.

***

 

                Ms. DiAmant stormed out of the studio building and into the streets, laughter echoing in her head.  No, it wasn’t just in her head, it was everywhere: the children running up and down the street, the couple casually holding hands as they walked down the sidewalk.  They all must have seen what that little brat had done!  Everyone was laughing at her! 

                A breeze blew through and something lightly fluttered against the base of her neck.  Reaching back, she plucked a little paper fish from her shoulder.  Staring at the offending item with a seething hatred, its round unexpressive purple eye contrasted with the crooked smile drawn in red crayon.  She crumpled it in her hand, unnoticed, a tiny black butterfly merged with the paper.  Suddenly the laughter stopped, replaced by a deep commanding voice.

                “Hello, April Fool, I am Papillion.  Would you like to make sure that no one ever laughs at you again?  I can grant you that power, all you have to do is bring me the Miraculouses of Ladybug and Chat Noir.”

                A vision of a black ring and red earrings appeared in her mind.

                “Yes, Papillion.”

***

                “Poisson D’Avril!”

                The booming voice caught Adrien’s attention.  The rising tide of people caused the photoshoot staff to scatter in a panic.  Using the distraction to his advantage, Adrien ran behind a row of hedges.  He opened his shirt and poked at the black cat Kwami currently sleeping in an inner pocket.

                “No time for a cat nap, Plagg.”  He threw out his hand.  “Transform me!”

                In a flash of green Adrien was replaced by the black clad super hero, Chat Noir.

                “Let’s check it out!”

***

                “Where are you little fishy?  I’m looking for you!”  A woman’s voice crowed.

                Marinette exited the TV studio, followed by Manon and Mrs. Chamack, just in time to glimpse the figure of a Harlequin casually strolling through the crowd of screaming bystanders.

                 A black bodysuit created the base for the terrifying figure, covering the tips of her fingers and toes.  Over the suit, a frilly high-necked collar extended past the shoulders and combined with the sharp lines of the bodice to create a triangular shape out of her upper torso. The addition of round puffy breeches created a silhouette not unlike a child’s rendering of a fish. The collar, bodice, and breeches were white and covered in a pattern of large black diamonds. 

                Her eyes were framed by a black half-mask shaped like two diamonds contrasting with the pale lilac skin of her exposed nose and chin.  The sharpness of her features blended seamlessly with the diamond motif.

                If she had any hair on her head, it was hidden by the large floppy hat that extended out into two points.  It was black, and covered in small white diamonds.  Each point was long enough to flow along the back of her head and rest on her shoulders.

                The villain grinned like a predator that had just set sight on their next meal. 

                “Possion D’Avril!”  She shouted, smacking the back of a man in a charcoal suit and aqua tie.

                In an audible “poof” the man suddenly turned into a giant paper fish covered in brightly colored flowers.  The transformed victim fell flat against the ground.

                  April Fool continued this action, swarming through the crowd like a shark invading a school of tuna, each fish she created had its own bright and distinct pattern.  The ground quickly became littered with the colorful bodies.

                Marinette needed to get somewhere safe to transform into Ladybug, but she couldn’t leave Nadia and her daughter unprotected.  As if on cue, Chat Noir landed in front of them. 

                “You ladies better run.”  He grinned and cocked his head to the side.  “This place is looking a bit fishy.”  Using his staff, he vaulted in the direction of the crazed akuma.

                Marinette grabbed the hands of her charges and pulled them out of the milling crowd.  She pulled them into the lobby of a tall building across the street from the panic. 

                “Get upstairs, and hide.”  She ordered.

                “What about you?”  Nadia questioned.

                “Mama, Marinette is best friends with Ladybug!”  Manon explained.  “I bet she’s going to find her so she can help.”

                Marinette grinned at the cover provided by the little girl, and only nodded in confirmation before running out of the building.

                As soon as her feet hit concrete, Marinette ran for the closest alleyway and ducked out of sight.  She popped open the clasp on her purse to release the little red and black Kwami that resided inside. 

                “Tikki!  Transform me!”  In a flash of pink, Ladybug was making her way towards the fray.

***

                “Hold still kitty!”  April Fool hissed.  “I just want to give you a pat on the back!”  Emphasizing the last word as she lunged for the superhero. 

                Chat nimbly jumped from her reaching palm.  To his surprise, she did not land face first on the ground.  She used the forward momentum place her hands flat against the ground, transforming the fall into a handstand. 

                “Awe,” She crooned in a sing-song voice, “I thought cats liked fish.”  She pushed off the ground and summersaulted in Chat’s direction.

                Chat used his baton to vault out of the way, but it caught a crack in the cobblestone street.  Causing him to go down instead of out.  He braced for impact as he felt gravity pull him in an unplanned direction. 

                A familiar “zing” accompanied with the feeling of string wrapping around his mid-section caused a wave of relief to wash over Chat.  The forceful jerk that reversed his trajectory came just in time to rescue him from the waiting clutches of April Fool.

                His hand came into contact with the falling baton and he grasped it as he was pulled onto the nearest rooftop.  The landing was less than graceful, his rear coming into contact with the tiles covering the gable his rescuer stood upon. 

                “Ah, My Lady!”  He smiled and adjusted into a crouched stance as she released him from her yo-yo.  “I guess it’s time to stop clowning around.” 

                At the word “clowning,” April Fool stood stark still.  Everything was suddenly quiet.  Only the sound of April Fool’s deep seething breaths cut through the air.

                “Clowning?”  She spat at the heroes. “A clown am I?”

                A small breeze started to blow in, rustling the fish scattered about her feet.  April Fool cocked her head and a menacing grin broke out across her features.

                “If I am the clown, then why am I the only one laughing?”  She released a skin-tingling cackle as she raised her hands into the air.  The light breeze picked up and began to lift all the paper fish off the ground.

                As the volume of her laughter crested, fish began to swarm around her in a colorful tornado. 

                “Go my fishies!”  She pointed to the heroes and the fish army followed. 

                Ladybug spun her yo-yo, creating a shield that deflected the onslaught of paper minions.  One ricocheted a little oddly and caught a stray hair that had separated from the rest of her pigtail.  The razor sharp edge of the paper sliced through as if nothing had been there in the first place.

                Chat was at her back spinning his baton creating a barrier similar to Ladybug’s. 

                “Watch out for the edges.”  She called out to him.

                “Right.”  Chat adjusted his position to deflect the newest flurry of fish.  “Once we get away from this arts and crafts nightmare, we need to figure out where the Akuma is hiding.”

                From his perch, Papillion watched the chaos unfold.

                “Perfect, April Fool!  You have them surrounded.  Now grab their Miraculouses!”  He commanded.

                “Yes, Papillion.”  April Fool turned her predatory gaze on the flying mass of paper.  She called one of the fish to slide between her feet and street beneath.  A gust of wind picked up and she rode it up to the roof where the heroes were visibly loosing energy.

                She was about to land on the roof when Manon’s voice drifted through the air.

                “Leave them alone!”  The little girl stood with a determined glare aimed at the villain.

                “My little fish....”  April fool whispered darkly.  She changed direction and began to float down towards the child.  The swirl of fish around Chat and Ladybug fell onto the rooftop.

                “Nooooo!  What are you doing?”  Papillion crowed.

                “Here fishy, fishy, fishy…”  April Fool crooned, crooking her finger into a beckoning motion as she stalked the child.

                Manon squeaked and turned to run, only to be blocked by her mother’s legs.

                “I’ve told you to stop running off.”  Nadia chided, unaware of the approaching danger.

                “Mama!”  Manon jumps into her mother’s arms and points at the approaching Akuma.  Nadia grips her daughter tight and runs.  The action sets off something in the Akuma.  She picks up her speed to chase the source of her humiliation. 

                Ladybug spotted the abrupt change in action and threw her yo-yo at the dangerous creature.  When it locked in place, she pulled as hard as she possibly could.  The force of her pulling from the opposite direction pulled April Fool off of the fish.  Her head crashed hard enough against the ground that cracks appeared in the pavers with which it came into contact.  A deep frown marred her face as her attention returned to the heroes.

                “Guess that was one unhappy landing.”  Chat giggled at his own joke and Ladybug rolled her eyes. 

                The sound of his chuckling caused the Akuma to fly into a blind rage.

                “QUIT LAUGHING AT ME!!!!!!” She bellowed from her prone position on the ground.

                The breeze started to pick up again, and Ladybug noticed a small fluttering in the brim of April Fool’s hat.

                “The Akuma has to be in that little paper fish!”  She pointed out.  “It’s in the brim of her hat!”

                “Well, then.”  A determined look took over his face.  “I guess it’s time for the usual distraction?”

                The wind had picked up speed, the fish were once again gathering around April Fool. 

                “Just be careful.”  She warned.

                “Aren’t I always?”  He responded as he jumped from the roof.

                “No, you aren’t.”  She muttered as she watched him provoke the angered Harlequin.

                “I don’t know why you assume anyone is laughing at you!”  Chat taunted the villain behind the swirl of paper fish.  “Personally, I think I’m way funnier than you could ever be.  You’re just fooling yourself.”  He leaned casually against a fire hydrant and laughed, once again, at his own joke.

                The intended effect happened.  April Fool turned her full fury in his direction.  She sent the paper fish in his direction with alarming precision. 

                Ladybug flinched, in the moment her eyes closed she heard Chat call out.

                “Cataclysm!”  His destructive power disintegrated the fire hydrant he had been propped up on.  The geyser of water that shot into the sky soaked the oncoming fish.  The smack of wet paper hitting the ground was Ladybug’s cue.

                “Lucky Charm!”  She threw her weapon into the sky.  It rewarded her with a banana cream pie sitting in a pie pan that was red with black spots.  Using her keen skills of observation, Chat lit up her vision.

                “Chat Noir!  Catch!”  She slung the pie in his direction, and he caught it with a level of grace even she found surprising.  The Akuma, furious at having her weapon neutralized, charged at the snarky hero.

                Without missing a beat, he adjusted his grip on the pan and launched it at April Fool’s face.

                “Here’s pie in your eye.” Chat taunted.  The confection hit its mark. The right side of her head.

                When April Fool pulled the pan away from her face, the paper fish came off with it.  Stuck, unnoticed by the villain, in some filling that remained clinging to the side.

                “I’d give that a 3.14.”  He quipped, picking up the pan.  Ladybug joined him and took it from his hand.  She plucked the little fish out of the cream filling and ripped it in half.

                When the little black butterfly escaped, she captured it in her yo-yo and preformed the purifying ritual. 

                “Bye-bye little butterfly.”  She waved to the white creature that emerged from her yo-yo and flew off into the distance.  Ladybug threw the pie pan into the air.  “Miraculous Ladybug!”

                The magical swarm of ladybugs began casting their healing magic over the city.  The paper fish returned to being people, the hydrant restored, and in April Fool’s place sat a very confused and disheveled Ms. DiAmant

                The two heroes bumped fists in a job well done.

                “Bon joué!”

                Nadia and Manon approached the duo. 

                “Thank you so much for saving us!”  Mrs. Chamack stated. “What will it take to get you two to come into the studio for an interview?” 

                “Well...” Chat was interrupted by a beeping from his ring.

                “Some other time.”  Ladybug intervened.  With that, she and Chat took off in different directions.

                Ladybug circled around before landing back in Place Des Vosges.  She had to make sure that Marinette approached from a different direction to keep suspicions away from her relation to Ladybug.

                When Marinette emerged from the hedges, she rounded a corner, only to hit something solid.  The force was great enough that both she and the object let out an audible “oof.”  When she looked up, she saw the object was Adrien.

                “I’m s..s..sorry.”  Marinette stammered.

                “It’s fine.”  His green eyes were filled with concern.  “You’re not hurt are you?”

                “No no no.”  She replied, flustered. “I just got separated from some people and I want to make sure they’re alright.”

                “Where did you see them last?”  He asked.

                “Ummmm……that way!”  She pointed, then ran in the opposite direction before he could respond.

***

                The next morning, Marinette met Alya at the front steps of the school. 

                “Nice to see you on time, for once.”

                “Come on, I’m not always late.”  Marinette countered her friend’s comment.

                The two of them turned to walk in together, then Marinette felt someone grab her shoulder. 

                “Hey, Marinette.”  Adrien smiled at her, then leaned in to whisper in her ear.  “Poisson D’Avril.”

                He continued on casually as Marinette stood in a dreamy-eyed state.

                “Great.” Alya said, pointing at the little paper fish taped to Marinette’s back. “Now you have to wear that all day.”

                Marinette gave a deep and contented sigh.

                “I’ll wear it forever.”