“Why thank you, Adrien, darling,” a stout, but petite figure cooed as a tall blond boy — nearly a man— laid down a sack of flour a few feet from her.
He wiped his brow and replied with a smile, “It’s nothing, Mrs. Dupain. Glad I could help.”
The boy Adrien was breathtaking, indeed. Sunshine hair, green eyes, and handsomely charming features. He was a familiar face over at the Dupains’ bakery, as he started out about five years ago to help the shop out to earn extra money for his family. He was the son of a humble tailor just quite across the bakery, and though he ought to learn his father’s work, he still insisted to help out in the bakery, instead.
His presence brightened teenage Marinette, who had been closely eyeing the lad since he entered the bakery, and still ever since he stepped into her life. She distinctly remembered herself peeping out of their shop window the moment she noticed the new neighbors coming in, and as soon as she got a glimpse of him, her eyes never seemed to wander anywhere else.
She was ten, then, and she had no idea how to make contact with him, obviously as he seemed more mature, and she was just a little girl. However, it seemed as if Adrien found his way to her, and not the other way around. He was the only child of the tailor, so he treated every little one as a sibling of his own— but Marinette was special.
There was something about Marinette that reminded Adrien of her mother, who had mysteriously disappeared during a snow season in his former home. The warmth in her smile, and the glint in her eyes, he found it all too familiar in Marinette’s. They were an unlikely pair, for no one expected that they would be the best of friends.
“I see you, Mari,” Adrien looked up at the gap of the staircase where Marinette was peeping out, winking at her then flashing a disarming smile.
The girl blushed, hearing the sound of her nickname escape from his lips. Very little knew of her endearing short. Adrien used it as often as he could— he found the nickname rather cute.
Mrs. Dupain took notice of her daughter and said, “Good morning, Mari.” Then, she turned to Adrien and thanked him once more, “I still cannot thank you enough for helping us out, Adrien, even though we could hardly repay you, since the bakery has been slow.”
“Please don’t worry about it,” he reassured her. Catching Marinette’s eye as she stepped down from the stairs, he continued, “Actually, I came here to say goodbye.”
The girl paused, and her heart suddenly drummed against her ear. Did she hear that right? He was going to say goodbye?
“Goodbye?” She asked him, her eyebrows furrowed. “Where are you off to? When will you be back?”
Adrien’s heart fell as he opened his mouth to explain to young Marinette. There was so much in the world that her naïve soul could still not comprehend. How was he to break it to her easily— that in a week, her every day with him was about to change?
He took her hand, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. Even her hands were so little, soft and nimble, just as she was. It broke his heart to say what he had to.
“I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m going to the city,” Adrien finally said, his gaze not breaking hers. “I want to start a life there, perhaps own a house, and get a decent living. I have just graduated, after all.”
Mrs. Dupain broke out in a series of praises and kisses before him, but Mari’s consciousness was splitting into bits. She repeated what he had said in her mind a thousand times, and it all summed up to one thing she was terrified of: Adrien was going to leave her.
Of course, he would. They both knew that this old town was too little for the both of them. They had confided with nearly everything, and she remembered what he had said:
As soon as I am old enough, I would leave this place and head for the clouds.
But she didn’t exactly expect that it would come any time soon.
“That’s… Really… I’m happy for you, Adrien,” was all that came out of her mouth. He saw it in her eyes— that pleading stare. The one thing that could almost bring him to stay in this town. Almost.
“I’m going to really miss you, Mari,” he said with a sigh, giving the girl a hug.
She wrapped her arms around his waist, and he head rested on his chest. This was it. His goodbye. He was leaving, he was growing up, and there she was — still young, and still hoping that her young heart had encased his. She had to find a way to tell him. That was the last thing he knew that would change his mind. She had to try. Perhaps, it was her only hope.
“Hey, before you go,” Marinette spoke out has Adrien turned for the door. “Could I stop by your house? I want to give you something to remember me by. I’ll come by before you leave tomorrow morning.”
“Sure, Mari,” he replied with a wink. “Thank you, by the way.”
It’s now or never.
Dressed in the overalls she knew he liked, Marinette took a deep breath as she knocked on their front door. The entire town was still sound asleep, but she knew that this house wasn’t. Their only son was about to leave, but deep inside, she knew that she would be able to change his mind.
She clutched the envelope on her hand, as Adrien opened their front door.
He looked different. He was wearing clothes that she had never seen him on before. His hair was different. It was styled up, all ready to go out. His eyes were different. They looked like they were hungry for a new world, a new adventure — as if they had already been long tired of their little hometown. Although different, he still had the same smile that she loved upon his face as he greeted her hello.
Marinette sighed. She soon had second thoughts about giving him the note. This was his dream after all. Who was she to stand in the way of what he wanted? Moreover, he was just a little girl. Would what she held in her hand be enough to make him stay? There was one way to find out.
“Here,” she said— her shaky hands reached out to give him her note. “I… I hope this would… change your mind.”
“Mari, what do you mean?” Adrien chuckled for a moment, then opened the envelope.
The adventurous glint in his eyes faded away as he read what Marinette had to say:
Adrien, please say you’ll wait for me.
I’ll grow up someday you’ll see.
Saving all my kisses just for you,
Signed with love forever true.
“Please, Adrien,” Marinette managed to say out loud. “D-don’t… Don’t do this… I lov-”
“Marinette,” Adrien called her out with a stern tone. He never did that before. He never called her Marinette before. He’s never done that. Marinette felt hot tears brimming up in her eyelids, as she saw Adrien’s expression change, but she was sure that his decision didn’t.
“Mari,” he said as he embraced her. “Please, please don’t cry, Mari.”
But she couldn’t hold it in anymore. Marinette broke into heartbroken sobs on Adrien’s chest, which the boy tried his best to keep upright for her. He was breaking her heart, and that alone should be just enough for him to take it all back, but he couldn’t. It wasn’t right.
He broke off from their embrace, and placed his hands on her shoulders. He started into her blue eyes, all red from crying, but still nevertheless his favorite blue. He tucked a strand of her dark hair behind her ear, and then he lightly grazed his thumb on her cheeks to wipe away her tears.
“You’ll find someone better— just not me,” he said, his green eyes trying to comfort her soul.
“I won’t,” Marinette cried out. “I just want you. I’ll grow up soon. Five years is all I ask from you. Adrien, please.”
Adrien shook his head, and stepped back from her. He turned his back for the front door, then he stopped.
“Marinette,” he sighed. “You’re just fifteen, and I’m twenty-two. I’m sorry, but I just can’t wait for you.”
She watched as he closed the door at her face. He closed the door at everything that they could be. He closed the door, so that he could not see how he tore her apart, for that sight would have made him believe what she thought he was — a careless heartbreaker.
Autumn leaves of warm colors slowly fell down on the pavement as Adrien walked home from work. In a quiet corner in Boston, he had lived in a small apartment ever since he arrived. He noticed it was getting colder, though it has always been.
It was really quiet, as compared to the busy streets where he always found himself entangled in. His job did bring him good pay, but there was always something that bothered him about everything.
Adrien unlocked his door, then stepped inside. There was just enough room for one person in his place — a tiny television set in a corner, and the kitchen counter just two feet away from it. Two large windows gave him air, but oddly enough, this place was blocked away from the sunlight, as even more buildings were beside his. Buildings. Hundred thousands of them, unlike in his old hometown where the tallest structure was just the lighthouse by the coast, which was nothing compared to what he had seen now.
He turned on the lampshade right next to the television set, which was kind of the only piece of lighting in his whole place, if you do not count the screen on his phone. He was almost never home, anyway, so he didn’t bother to fully furnish his home — which didn’t really feel like home.
He then sat down and stared blankly at his television screen. He didn’t bother to turn it on. It was in times like this that he really got to think, as the peace and quiet gave his mind the clarity he wanted.
Adrien looked back at what he used to be: a simple tailor’s son who lived in a small, but beautiful home in a quaint town. More so, he remembered the lovely bakery right across his home before, how passing by the place always made him stop to smell the surroundings. Even more, he remembered that young girl who always made him stop and forget that he was growing up. He remembered Marinette.
She must be older by now.
He recalled the fun times they had together, like that time when they climbed a tree. Marinette reached for the highest branch, but then was so scared to come down. He was on the ground and motioned her to let go and fall down on him. He wanted to catch her.
“Don’t you trust me, Mari?”
Her hands trembled as she decided to take the fall. Unfortunately, he didn’t catch her, but the girl did land on his chest, and they tumbled down the grass in an embrace.
A cold shiver ran down his spine when his mind turned to a different memory — the most recent one. The one where he broke her heart, when he saw her shatter into a million pieces, his dear Mari.
He stood up and opened one of the drawers in his dresser. There it was. A small pink envelope that had wrinkled over the years. He stopped reading it over and over again when he got here, and it was just that moment that he remembered it again. He didn’t need to open it. He knew what was exactly written on the paper — every stroke and every line.
He had memorized what it said and what it meant, and now that he remembered, he remembered more than just the note, more than just those memories.
He remembered her, and with all the years that passed by, he now wanted her to know that he felt the same, too.
Adrien got on a plane the very next day. He realized that the life he had always dreamed of wasn’t the life he wanted anymore. He was both anxious and excited to see her. He wanted to apologize. He wanted to tell her that she meant the whole world to him— that he was dumb enough never to notice that it was her all along. Most of all, he wanted to know if there was still a place inside her heart for his.
The town he once knew had changed very much since he left. There were notably a few more buildings, but it never felt crowded as it was in Boston. Though cold there, it was always warm in his hometown. That was one thing he missed of all the beautiful things he missed in this place.
He broke into a sprint and made his way in front of the bakery, the familiar scent enveloping his senses. As he approached the porch, he stopped and stared at the front door. The last time he was here, he made a girl cry. This time, he hoped that he could take her in his arms and sweep her off her feet. That would make him the happiest man alive.
With a deep breath, he knocked on the door, and as it opened, he swallowed back his tears.
There in front of him was Marinette — her dark hair now pulled into a low ponytail. Her eyes seemed deeper, as she had dark circles forming under them. Tiny beads of sweat were rolling down her neck, but she was as fair as he remembered. Her bright blue eyes were just as blue as he had left her.
Though completely glad that he had seen her again, bitter tears fell from his cheek as he noticed the child that Marinette was carrying on her shoulder.
“Mari, I came here to tell you,” he said, attempting to stop himself from wrapping his arms around her shoulders. “I’m sorry. I never should have left. I didn’t realize it before, but now I do. Mari, I was so blind, but I realize it now. I’ve loved you all along, and—”
“Oh, Adrien.” Marinette cut him off and sighed. “I’m so sorry… Please don’t cry.”
But he could not hold it in anymore. Adrien slowly fell down on his knees and broke into heartbroken sobs.
Marinette sat down in front of him, grazing her hand over his cheek, stroking his tears away with her thumb. He looked the same, just as she remembered. She knew she was still the same Adrien that she fell in love with, but the thing was, she was no longer the same girl who fell in love with him.
“You’ll find someone better. You’ll forget me by and by,” Marinette slowly said, holding back her own tears, for his heartbreak also made her remember a little girl’s own heartbreak years ago.
“It’s been five years since you’ve been gone,” she continued. “Adrien, I married your best friend Nino.”