Before Chat Noir was the second most sexy superhero in Paris, he was just a little boy, like everyone else. He was born beautiful, which most people would expect, and he was born without cat ears, which most people would not expect. But like I mentioned earlier, he was just a normal boy. In most ways.
This is top secret information which must never be shared to anyone else ever, of course, but Chat Noir was actually born to two regular people, who were actually not really regular people at all. Their names were Gabriel Agreste and Emilie Agreste, formerly Emilie Graham de Vanily. What made Gabriel and Emilie Agreste not really regular people at all was the fact that they were astoundingly, disgustingly rich and beautiful.
Gabriel Agreste, at the time of Chat Noir’s birth, was a decent enough man who had clawed his way up through the fashion industry in the ways only a stubborn and vaguely morally defunct person could. He was the kind of man who claimed to have pulled himself up by the bootstraps, but also happened to have rich parents. We’ll see more of him later, unfortunately.
Emilie Agreste, at the time of Chat Noir’s birth, was a blooming and beautiful woman whose career as London’s heartthrob actress had recently been traded out for Paris’ heartwarming actress due to her marriage to a certain white French man named Gabriel. She was the kind of woman who tipped extra at any and every establishment she went to because she’d spent a fair amount of years as a young woman working in retail. We’ll see more of her later, fortunately.
Chat Noir, at the time of Chat Noir’s birth, was a squishy little golden mass of flesh otherwise known as a newborn baby, and his name was Adrien Agreste. Yes, that Adrien Agreste. Before Chat Noir was the second most sexy superhero in Paris, he was Adrien Agreste, teenage heartthrob and the face of the third most successful body fragrance, named after him, in all of France. But before that, he was just baby Adrien, newly born into the little Agreste family.
And, as a baby, Adrien learned many things. For instance, he learned that he had hands and feet, both of which could be placed into his mouth for gummy chewing, which is a thing that most babies are prone to learning in their early years. He also learned that he was French and white, which most babies are not necessarily prone to learning in their early years, and that was courtesy of his mother, Emilie.
See, the thing about Emilie Agreste, formerly Emilie Graham De Vanily, is that she was what could be generously called a ‘radical.’ Born in 1969, like most amazing and world-altering things, Emilie Graham De Vanily grew up in London alongside her twin sister, who is a nice enough woman and who is not really that important to this story, and she was raised with the firm and gentle hands of people who had witnessed war and cruelty and had found that they did not like at all. Emilie Graham De Vanily grew up learning about the true history of England, which is not a very nice history, truly, and she grew up knowing that people with white skin like her were historically not all that great. That, historically, was a very radical thought.
Emilie Graham De Vanily dreamed of changing the world, and she also dreamed of becoming an actress. She did both of those things. She never, however, dreamed of marrying, but she did that as well. Emilie Graham De Vanily was capable of many things, and she was of course capable of living by herself, but she met a French man named Gabriel who was immediately smitten by her and was actually quite nice at the time, which is quite hard to believe but is actually true, and so she got married and had a small golden child whom she named Adrien who would one day grow up to be Chat Noir.
Despite the fact that she was rich and married to a relatively politically tame white French man and also had to preserve her image as a famously sweet actress, Emilie Agreste was still a radical, and she raised her son with the same ideals she had grown up with, albeit a little updated for the times.
As an infant child, Adrien could often be found laid back on his mother’s bouncing knees, chubby golden fists curled around her index fingers as she smiled down at him and said, very sweetly, “if you love and respect powerful women, little chaton, it will be okay that you are French and white.”
Emilie Agreste had learned about France, too, and had since developed this opinion.
Emilie Agreste desperately wanted her son to grow up to be kind and good, and the first step to being kind and good that many men she had read about and knew personally forgot was to love and respect women. She never wanted her son to forget, and so she reminded him as much as she could, bouncing him gently on her knees and waving his little fists and tickling his little stomach. She would smooth back his head of full golden hair, so like hers, and she would press kisses to his forehead before laying him down to sleep.
As Adrien grew older, Emilie Agreste’s lessons never ceased, even as she grew tired and weak between movie shoots. She would pull her growing son into her lap, running cool hands through his thick locks of golden hair, and she would tell him all the stories she learned as a child about the history his tutors liked to gloss over. And Adrien would sit and listen because he loved and respected powerful women, and also because he loved and respected his mother more than anyone else.
It should be mentioned that Gabriel Agreste was not a radical. It should be mentioned that Gabriel Agreste hired Adrien’s tutors that liked to gloss over certain parts of history. It should be mentioned that Gabriel Agreste did not stop his wife’s supplemental lessons for their son, but it should also be mentioned that it was very likely that he knew he couldn’t stop her if he tried.
Gabriel and Emilie Agreste were very different from each other. But on long nights when Gabriel would fall asleep at his desk in his office, Emilie would tiptoe into the room, gently remove his glasses, drape a blanket over his shoulders, and press a kiss to his temple. And on early mornings when Emilie had begun to have trouble getting out of bed, Gabriel would wake Adrien up and the both of them would climb into the bed beside Emilie, and Gabriel would take Emilie’s hand in his, thumb rubbing gently over her knuckles, and he would kiss her on the cheek and say it was a wonderful day to eat breakfast in bed.
These were the things that Adrien knew as a young boy: his parents were very different from each other but still loved each other very much, loving and respecting powerful women was common human decency, and he was rich, French, and white - characteristics he should always use to help other people and never to put anyone down.
And when Emilie Agreste, formerly Emilie Graham De Vanily, disappeared after sixth months of becoming sicker and sicker and closer and closer to death, these were the things Adrien knew as a young teenager: his father would never be the same again, he would never be the same again, and his mother would want nothing more than for him to live by the principles she’d tried so hard to teach him.
Adrien Agreste was a good learner. He was also very lonely.
Because, like Adrien had expected, his father was never the same after Emilie’s disappearance. He became detached and cold, and he isolated Adrien more than ever, which is generally not very good for young teenage boys who are missing their mothers. Adrien Agreste needed a friend and a father, but Gabriel Agreste was too busy being a businessman and an absent father.
This is around the time Adrien Agreste became Chat Noir.
We’ll speed through the details because it’s a very magical and wondrous story that is actually just very regular, but the gist is basically this: Adrien wanted to go to a public school, ran away from home for a morning, helped an old man who had fallen over who just so happened to be in possession of a collection of magical artefacts called Miraculous, and subsequently was allowed to go to public school and make friends and also subsequently became Chat Noir. It is really a very average origin story, when you think about it. His lady’s is much more interesting, but we’re not talking about that here, either.
In public school, Adrien got to experience the joys of public school, which include making actual friends for the first time in his life, meeting his future wife in a less than ideal way, and accidentally brushing a finger against gum stuck underneath his desk and trying desperately not to gag over this in public. As Chat Noir, Adrien got to experience the joys of being Chat Noir, which include being beat up by a different supervillain every day, meeting his future wife again in a more idyllic meat-cute way, and dying sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose during daily exciting supervillain encounters and actively choosing not to think about the existential and mental repercussions of dying and being brought back to life so many times.
Before we get into that, we’ll talk about Adrien’s future wife because she is quite important and quite powerful and quite compelling. Her name is Marinette Dupain-Cheng, and she is just a normal girl with a normal life, except she has a secret.
That secret, which, of course, is quite confidential information that I trust you will never share, is that she is actually in fact the first most sexy superhero in Paris, Ladybug.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng hated Adrien Agreste at first, which is quite funny, and Adrien always thought his mother would approve of that. Of course, it was only funny because Marinette Dupain-Cheng would end up developing a debilitating crush on Adrien Agreste and eventually marrying him, but that wasn’t until later. Emilie Agreste, as it turns out, does approve of Marinette Dupain-Cheng very much, but that is also not until much later.
At the time Ladybug, who is actually Marinette Dupain-Cheng and who was to be Adrien Agreste’s future wife, and Chat Noir, who is actually Adrien Agreste and who was to be Marinette Dupain-Cheng’s future husband, met, they did not know that each other’s real names were Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste, and they would not find that out until much later. However, they quickly became best friends, and Adrien developed a debilitating crush on Ladybug, due to the fact that Ladybug is, and always has been, a strong and powerful woman who just so happened to also be beautiful and kind and funny, though she always tried her best not to laugh at Chat Noir’s jokes, which were always funny.
Ladybug, being smart and caring, did not really approve of Chat Noir’s tendency to die spontaneously during their daily supervillain fights.
“Chat Noir,” she said one day after Chat had just been brought back to life by her very cool and very powerful Miraculous-provided creation magic, “I do not really approve of your tendency to die spontaneously during our daily supervillain fights.” The supervillains were actually called akumas, which were all made by one big bad supervillain called Hawkmoth, so she actually said she did not approve of his tendency to die spontaneously during their daily akuma fights. She said this with her arms crossed, her pretty lips pulled down into a frown and her eyebrows furrowed.
“I warned you this time,” Chat Noir had replied very reasonably. “Did you not hear me shout ‘watch out LB, I’m about to die spontaneously’?” He was joking. He had not yelled that, and she knew it.
“This is not something to joke about,” Ladybug had replied, but she’d snorted, and Chat Noir had marked that down as a ‘win’ in his mental book of ‘Times He’d Tried to Make Ladybug Laugh List,’ in which he mentally recorded every time he’d tried to make Ladybug laugh and whether or not he succeeded so that he would know for future reference. He very much enjoyed seeing Ladybug laugh.
“It’s okay, Ladybug,” Chat Noir had said, a little more seriously now because he did not like to make Ladybug upset. He placed his hand on her shoulder to signify this was a serious moment. “You always bring me back, and I trust you. Also, if I don’t come back, then that’s one less white French guy on earth, and no one would really complain about that.”
Ladybug, who was also Marinette Dupain-Cheng, was half Chinese and knew how terrible white French men could be, but she still punched Chat Noir hard on the shoulder and said, “Chat,” in that reprimanding tone that she always used when she thought he was being too negative or too much of an idiot.
“What?” Chat Noir had asked. “You know I’m right.”
“Yeah, white French guys suck,” Ladybug had relented, but she could be very stubborn when she set her mind to it, which she did, quite often. She flicked the little golden bell that hung from the neck of his black leather suit and said, “but you don’t.”
“That’s very nice of you to say,” Chat had said, “however Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes starts with me.”
“Did you just refer to yourself in third person?” Ladybug had asked.
“Of course. That’s the title of my list,” Chat Noir had said, about the list he’d just made up five seconds before for something that could generously be called a joke.
So that’s how Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes was born, and it quickly became an inside joke between Ladybug, who was also Marinette Dupain-Cheng, and Chat Noir, who was also Adrien Agreste, although neither of them knew that last part yet.
“Stop dying in the middle of akuma fights!” Ladybug would tell him.
“It’s for feminist purposes!” Chat Noir would reply back to her.
They would also add white French men to Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes, which was mostly a joke, and that trend started with Hawkmoth, which made it kind of not a joke.
“Hawkmoth must be white and French,” Chat Noir said after a particularly gruelling akuma battle as he and Ladybug rested on a rooftop before going back to their separate homes to go study for regular Parisian school exams.
“Only a white French man would have the audacity to be such a jerk,” Ladybug had said, although she actually used a different word than ‘jerk’ which is not a polite word to use in polite company. Ladybug, who is actually Marinette Dupain-Cheng, is actually very polite, except for when she’s had to fight twelve akumas in the past week and has watched her partner and best friend die seven times during said past week. In such circumstances, it is alright to allow Ladybug to use impolite words, and in general, women like Ladybug are allowed to say whatever they like because they are most likely correct in what they say.
“Adding him to Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes as we speak,” Chat Noir had replied. It was feminist because Hawkmoth inconvenienced Ladybug, who was a strong and powerful woman, and it was also feminist because in general taking down entitled white French men is considered feminist.
At the time, Chat Noir and Ladybug did not actually know if Hawkmoth was white and French. They knew he was a man because they’d seen him a couple of times before, but you can not generally assume race and nationality during passing encounters with a man in a skin-tight purple suit whose only visible skin is his cruel pale mouth and who is not only trying to steal from you but also kill you.
However, they were correct. Hawkmoth was in fact a white French man. They would not find that out until later.
Returning to the history of Chat Noir, who is the star of this particular story despite the fact that his future wife is much more interesting, it should be mentioned that being a superhero is very hard. Chat Noir, handsome and beautiful as he is, can make it look very easy, but the truth is that it is not. Ladybug, who is also handsome and beautiful, can also make being a superhero look easy, but she will readily agree with Chat Noir that being a superheroine is not easy.
The both of them became superheroes at very young ages, which should likely be against the Geneva Convention, but it does make for very interesting and compelling stories, so I suppose that makes up for it. And because the both of them became superheroes at very young ages, they each had ways to cope with their unique struggles.
Ladybug, who was also Marinette Dupain-Cheng, coped by having long talks with her little magic kwami friend named Tikki, stress baking, having cleansing cry periods, and relying on her friends. These are all very understandable coping mechanisms.
Chat Noir, who was also Adrien Agreste, coped by not coping and also by going out of his way to sacrifice himself during supervillain attacks. These are also very understandable coping mechanisms, but they are significantly less healthy than Ladybug’s.
When they had become young adults, Ladybug and Chat Noir had become very close. They were the only ones who could truly understand each other, although at the time they still didn’t even know each other’s true names, and they found solace in each other’s company when they had the free time to spend with each other. Ladybug cared about Chat Noir very much, and she did love him, but not in that way; she’d told him so every time he told her he loved her, and that was okay. He was never angry with her for not reciprocating, and he valued their friendship more than anything.
So they loved each other, and they were close, and Chat Noir kept on going out of his way to die, and that was very rude of him.
“I don’t get it,” Ladybug had said one night when they were older teenagers, sitting side by side on a rooftop and watching the sun set. Her voice had been very sad. “Why do you always sacrifice yourself? Why do you always do that to me?”
He’d done it again that day. He hadn’t even thought about it, which is actually kind of worrying, and he was quite surprised to see that his lady was sad. He looked at her with furrowed eyebrows.
“I’m not doing it to you, Ladybug, I’m doing it for you,” he’d replied, which seemed like a very reasonable answer. “To buy you time, you know? Give you a little extra space to come up with your brilliant plans.” She still wasn’t looking at him, and she still looked quite sad. Chat Noir bumped his shoulder with hers, trying to lighten the mood. “And you remember Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes. I’ve always been first on the list.”
Ladybug had rolled her eyes, which was always a full blown spectacle with her long eyelashes and glittering blue eyes. She was always rolling her eyes at him, and he didn’t even mind. He could sit and watch her roll her eyes all day, but he figured it would probably make her head hurt. “So, what? You’re always killing yourself for the good of feminism?”
“I live to serve,” Chat Noir had said, bowing his head dramatically and placing a fist on his chest. “I love and respect powerful women” - he’d looked pointedly at her then - “and I want nothing more than to do everything that would benefit them.”
She’d shaken her head at him. “You know you’re not one of the white French guys that needs to be on a feminist hit list, right?”
“Are you not-all-men-ing me?” he’d asked.
“Shut up,” she’d said, so he’d shut up. She’d looked at him, with that squint-y look she got when she was trying to figure something out. “How did you end up like this?”
Chat Noir blinked at her. “Like, in general?”
“No, I mean so…” She trailed off, gesturing in the general direction of him, which did not clarify things. “So respectful. And so self-deprecating,” she’d finished, which did clarify things, but did so in a confusing way.
“Well, I drink my respect women juice every morning,” Chat had said, and Ladybug had given him a look that told him she was being serious, so he should be, too. Ladybug was very good at giving ‘looks’ that could convey entire novels with a single glance. Chat cleared his throat. Looked away from her. Chat Noir was not very good at talking about his inner feelings back then. “I mean. I guess my mom taught me to be respectful. She taught me a lot of things.”
“She must be pretty cool,” Ladybug had said, and Chat Noir, who had not seen his mother in a very long time, had swallowed thickly.
“Yeah, she was.”
The silence had been thick, then, and Chat Noir had stared at the setting sun, watching the orange bleed into blue. Ladybug laced her fingers with his, and she leaned her head on his shoulder. Ladybug was very good at understanding the things Chat Noir did not say out loud.
“About the other thing?” she’d asked softly.
“Being self-deprecating?” he’d asked, clearing his throat, and she’d nodded. “I’m not, really.”
“You put yourself on a hit list,” she’d said.
“That’s mostly a joke,” he’d replied.
“You call yourself the second best hero in Paris,” she’d said.
“Everyone knows you’re the first,” he’d replied.
“You die almost everyday.”
This was obviously something that bothered Ladybug very much, so he decided to take a moment to actually think about the fact that he had spent the past several years choosing to die over and over again, without hesitation. He realized, perhaps for the first time, that it was quite morbid to die so much, and he understood why Ladybug might be so upset about it. He’d hate to have to see her disappear, over and over again.
He decided to try and talk his way through why he died so much.
“It started because I needed to be the one to protect you,” he said, slowly as he thought. “I still need to protect you, obviously, because you’re the key, always, to success. I can’t afford to let you get hurt. So that’s how it started.” He’d paused, and she’d squeezed his hand in hers. “And then it was just… easier. An easy way to protect you, and an easy way to get.” He’d stopped.
“To get?” she’d prompted.
“To get out of my life,” he’d said, with just a little bit of horror because he was realizing quite suddenly that he most definitely should go to therapy. “Not forever, just for a little bit,” he’d added, as if that made it better. “It felt like a good enough punishment. For not being good enough.”
Ladybug had pulled away from him, her hand still steady in his, and she’d looked at him with perhaps more concern for him than he felt for himself at that moment, which was honestly quite a miracle. She searched his eyes. “For not being a good enough white French guy?” she’d asked, which sounded like a joke but was actually quite serious.
He’d shaken his head. Being a white French guy was not great, in terms of wanting to be a morally righteous individual, but he’d made his peace with that when he was about five years old, and he also recognized that, out of all the white French guys on earth, he was doing quite well in comparison. He cared about people, and he did his best to be good. So that wasn’t it.
“For... not being a good enough son,” he’d said.
You’ve heard it here first, kids. Chat Noir, who was also Adrien Agreste, had daddy issues. You can’t really blame him for that, though.
It was at this moment that Chat Noir got to watch the terrible spectacle of Ladybug’s heart breaking for him in real time, and she’d thrown her arms around him and squeezed him so tight that he couldn’t really breathe. Ladybug was a very strong young woman. Chat Noir, who was used to her vice-like hugs, had simply placed his arms around her and tried to come to terms with this newly discovered facet of all his problems.
“You are good enough,” Ladybug had said, so fiercely that Chat Noir had no choice but to believe it. “I mean it. You’re the best I could ever ask for. The best anyone could ask for.”
Chat Noir was crying then. And Ladybug held him, and he loved her very much.
“Guess I should take myself off the hit list, then,” Chat Noir said because he was very bad at staying in serious moments concerning himself for prolonged periods of time.
“Idiot,” Ladybug said, quite fondly, and she hugged him tighter. Chat Noir’s back might’ve popped, but that was all okay. His back had been stiff anyways.
So from then on Chat Noir tried his best not to die during akuma attacks. Granted, there were still times in which putting himself in harm’s way to make sure Ladybug remained unharmed was the only option - she was the key, after all, to making everything good again - but he definitely wasn’t dying as often as he had been. Hawkmoth was now the first entry on Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes. Life seemed as good as it could get for two overly burdened, stressed out teenage superheroes.
However, Chat Noir, now that he was consciously trying not to die during akuma attacks, noticed a particular feeling that he couldn’t quite explain. He felt a pull of sorts, the urge to jump into a beam of magic that would kill him, the urge to self-sacrifice. At first he chalked it up to habit, and then up to his style of superhero he’d established for himself (the self-sacrificing kind), but it was so intense. He sometimes found himself running toward sure death without even thinking about it, realizing what he was doing, and sprinting as far out of the danger as he could on such short notice from his mind. It was worrying. He wondered if he actually wanted to die.
It should be mentioned, at this point in time, that although Chat Noir had been just a normal boy, he had not quite been born like a normal boy. It should be mentioned, at this point in time, that Emilie Agreste was capable of many things, but bearing a child had not been one of them. It should be mentioned, at this point in time, that both Emilie and Gabriel Agreste would do anything to be able to have a child that was theirs. And they did.
However, Gabriel Agreste was not the adopting type, for reasons I’m sure you can guess based on the fact that he is a white French man. He wanted an heir, and he wanted the heir to be, unequivocally, his. Emilie Agreste was the adopting type, but she also wanted to birth a child. She would’ve been alright with just adopting, but Gabriel wanted her to give birth, and she herself wanted that, so their desires aligned.
When the happy couple realized they could not conceive a child that would live to term, Gabriel, a man who would do anything, no matter how questionable, for his wants, set out looking for a solution. He started with doctors. And when that did not satisfy him, he looked elsewhere. And he found traces of the existence of some magic objects called Miraculous that could, if used in a certain way, grant wishes.
He and Emilie searched for the Miraculous, and although they did not find the Miraculous that, combined, could grant wishes, they did find two other Miraculous. These were called the peacock and the butterfly Miraculous, and the peacock Miraculous was capable of creating sentient beings from small objects. I am sure you can see where this is going.
I will spare you the details because they are not very pretty and include a lot of theory on magic and science both, things that I still don’t quite understand and I don’t know if I ever will, but the short of it is that Emilie Agreste gave birth to a beautiful golden little boy, and he was a miracle. And he was made from magic. And he grew on his own with that magic, but magic like that is not meant to be sustained for so long.
Emilie grew weak. She is a very powerful woman, but even powerful women have their limits. Thirteen years is quite a long time.
When she disappeared, she was actually put into a stasis by none other than Gabriel Agreste, a stasis that allowed her to keep on providing energy to the peacock Miraculous in order to keep the miracle baby, now a miracle preteen, alive.
So the truth of this matter is this: Adrien Agreste, who is Chat Noir, exists from magic - experimental magic, which is maybe the most dangerous kind. And that experimental magic does not mix well with other magic. Adrien Agreste, as Chat Noir, found himself diving into danger not only because he had severe daddy issues, but also because the magic that kept him running should not exist with the magic that made him a superhero. It should not exist at all, to be quite frank. This was the pull that Chat Noir felt.
Chat Noir and Ladybug would not find that out until later.
As Adrien Agreste, Chat Noir did not want to die, which he figured was a plus, and served as enough to stave off his worries. Life continued on.
Ladybug and Chat Noir drew closer, Marinette and Adrien grew closer, akumas came and went, Hawkmoth stayed, homework filled up the free time, Chat Noir confessed his love a few times and was rejected a little more hesitantly each time, Marinette let slip a truly terrible pun and Adrien wondered if it was possible to love two powerful women at once, stars exploded, the sun did not, life continued on.
However, as life continued on, it became apparent that Ladybug and Chat Noir must defeat Hawkmoth before they graduated unless they wanted to be stuck in Paris during their university days instead of travelling the world like they both wanted to. And both of them lamented the fact that Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes still had Hawmoth on it, right up at the top. It was a hit list for a reason.
So they devoted their time, as much of it as they could, to trying to find and defeat Hawkmoth, and if their hands brushed during stakeouts on suspects, then that was fine, normal even. And if Ladybug kept her eyes trained on the windows of the houses they looked at, her fingers twining with Chat’s, her ears tipped with pink, then that was also fine.
Chat Noir, who had gotten better at trying to talk about feelings, asked, “what’s happening?” in such a quiet and hopeful voice he actually found himself quite pitiful, if at least honest.
“I’m holding your hand,” Ladybug had said, in such a sure and steady voice that it was not to be argued with, and that was fine.
And if Adrien had study dates with Marinette that were not actually supposed to be dates, and he reached his foot forward and hooked it around her ankle to see her look up from her textbook to wrinkle her nose at him, then that was also fine. And when Adrien walked her home to her parents’ bakery, if she hooked her arm with his and leaned close enough that he could smell the sugar that clung to her and she talked animatedly about something he couldn’t quite understand while he looked at her adoringly, then that was also fine. And if they - as their superhero selves and their civilian selves - never talked about what was happening between them, then that was still fine.
Generally, everything was fine.
Until they discovered who Hawkmoth was, and then Chat Noir was not fine.
Ladybug did not understand why he was upset. “I admired him too,” she said, her voice confused, her words infused with that anger and frustration from not catching him sooner. “I thought he was the best designer in the world. I wanted to be like him.”
“It’s more than that,” Chat had said, and Ladybug had shaken her head in confusion because she would not understand until she knew his name, even if she knew everything else about him. He figured it was time. “Remember that father I thought I wasn’t good enough for?” he’d asked, and Ladybug had blinked, and then she realized, and then she was embracing him in so fierce a hug that he feared he might die.
“I’m so sorry,” she’d said, and she’d been crying, because she was so powerful that she was kind and full of empathy, and she loved him so much. “Oh, Adrien, I’m so sorry.”
He knew she was.
He was not surprised she knew his name. The third most successful body fragrance in Paris had been named after him, after all.
But that was not really why she knew his name. He did not find that out until after the big battle, which is really quite interesting and not really interesting at all. It is quite tragic, and it is quite sad, and it is the type of thing that only needed to be lived through once to have enough of it.
During that fight was when Adrien Agreste, who was also Chat Noir, learned the truth of his origins. Hawkmoth, who was also Gabriel Agreste, did his evil villain monologue on the tragic sickness of his wife, suspended in a glass coffin among a room full of fluttering white butterflies - which was really quite a beautiful and tragic sight - and they learned it all. Gabriel tried to tell Ladybug and Chat Noir that he was just. That the means justify the ends.
He said this while swinging his cane into Chat Noir’s side, taking the wind out of his own son. He did not know Chat Noir was his son, but Adrien did not think that mattered much. Gabriel had known Ladybug and Chat Noir were teenagers. White French men who hit teenagers are generally not very nice people who should be listened to.
Gabriel Agreste was arrested, which is the only correct thing to have happened, and Ladybug and Chat Noir stood in his abandoned evil lair afterwards, staring up at the suspended state of Emilie Agreste, formerly Emilie Graham de Vanily, Adrien Agreste and Chat Noir’s mother.
“At least we’ve cross him off Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes,” Chat Noir had said, wiping the tears from his eyes and sniffing up the snot and blood that had gathered in his nose.
“Adrien,” Ladybug had said, and she’d given him one of her novel-length looks, her voice quiet.
“We’ll have to cross off me, too,” Chat Noir had said, and he realized, not for the first time, that he wanted to live. He wanted to live so badly - for the girl next to him, for his friends, for himself. “Because I’m,” he said, because he felt like he needed to explain as the tears leaked out of his eyes, “you know. Not supposed to exis-”
“Shut up,” Ladybug had interrupted, glaring hard at the glass coffin that held Emilie Agreste aloft and alive despite the odds. Chat Noir figured she was not glaring at his mother but was rather glaring at their circumstances. “That’s not happening. I don’t care. We’ll figure it out.” She grabbed his hand, squeezing hard enough to make his bones grind together in fierce love and also pain. Ladybug had a very firm grip. “Together.”
This was around the time that Chat Noir learned her true name because, after they spoke to the police and informed them that Emilie Agreste must be kept in the glass coffin for the time being lest she die, Ladybug took him home. To the bakery her parents owned.
“Marinette,” Chat Noir said as they dropped down into her room from her balcony. Ladybug - who was also Marinette Dupain-Cheng - smiled at him.
It should be mentioned that they still did not talk about what was happening between them, which was fine. They had bigger things to worry about for the time being, and it didn’t matter if sometimes Adrien fell asleep in Marinette’s arms or if Marinette would pull Adrien down by the cheeks and lean up on her tiptoes to give him a kiss on the forehead. That was all fine and normal for them, really.
They searched for solutions, Marinette using her trademarked and extremely powerful stubbornness to refuse to leave any stone unturned. But she always knew the limits of her search - she knew what lines they shouldn’t cross, no matter how much easier it could’ve been, and then, through a series of events I will not describe too far in detail, they found their solution.
The peacock Miraculous, damaged from so many years of prolonged use in a way it was not accustomed to, could not be wielded by someone who would not be able to sustain Adrien’s existence. It could, however, be reunited with the magic that had come from it to not only repair itself, but also for said magic to be able to sustain itself.
As it turned out, ‘reunite’ could mean something as simple as being placed in the hand of one particular golden miracle boy who moonlighted as Paris’ second most sexy superhero.
So Adrien could exist, on his own terms, and his name did not have to be added to Chat Noir’s White French Man Hit List for Feminist Purposes and then stricken off. This was considered a huge plus.
In addition to this, now that Emilie Agreste did not have to sustain Adrien’s existence, she could be released from the glass coffin and allowed to live her own life, separate from the burden of sustaining a life that she was not meant to sustain. She recovered in a regular hospital, and Adrien visited her nearly every day, almost always accompanied by a certain Marinette Dupain-Cheng, whom a certain Emilie Graham de Vanily - formerly Emilie Agreste - approved of very much.
All of these things, also, were considered a huge plus.
“You’re marrying that girl, aren’t you?” Emilie asked her son after she’d been discharged and they had begun setting about changing the decor of the Agreste mansion to fit their Graham de Vanily tastes. They were sitting at the small table in the kitchen, and Emilie had been arranging a bouquet of yellow roses, baby’s breath, and other filler greens for Adrien to take to Marinette’s family when he went to visit later that night.
“Yes,” Adrien had replied without a hint of hesitation. “I am.”
Emilie had given him a smile, handing him the bouquet. “Are you even dating her?”
Adrien took the bouquet and blinked. “Yes?” he asked, with some hesitation. He did not actually know.
He asked Marinette that night. “Are we dating?”
Marinette killed his video game character with ease for the fifth time that night. She leaned back in her desk chair, setting down her game controller and raising her eyebrows at him. She looked at him, at first, like he was asking a stupid question, and then he saw her think it through. Her eyebrows raised.
“Huh,” she said. “Not really. We should, though.”
“Yeah,” Adrien had said, blushing fiercely. “I think so, too.”
“So we’re dating,” Marinette said, just to clear the air, and Adrien nodded. Marinette nodded decisively and then picked up her game controller, turning back to the computer screen. Adrien stared at her,
Adrien, who was also Chat Noir, had gotten quite good at talking about his feelings - because there was a lot to talk about and he’d also found himself a therapist - but he was a little embarrassed. He cleared his throat. “Um,” he said.
He saw Marinette’s lips twitch up into a smile, like she could tell what he was thinking. “Yes?”
“I was thinking,” he’d said, “that since we’re - you know - dating, we should.” He stopped. Cleared his throat again. “You know. Um. Kiss.”
Marinette put down her game controller again, and she turned her chair to face his, the grin on her face making his heart skip a beat. He turned his desk chair, and their knees touched. He stared down at their touching knees. Marinette’s hand touched his thigh, her palm warm through his jeans.
“Come here,” she said, and he looked up to see that she had leaned closer, that satisfied grin on her face, and I am very happy to say that Adrien kissed that grin until it disappeared and then reappeared, mirrored across the both of them.
It should be mentioned at this point in time that they got married a few years later - not because it took them that long to realize they should be married. Marinette admitted that she’d had fantasies of marrying Adrien Agreste only about two weeks after they’d become friends, those fantasies only deepening in realism and fervor when she knew he was also Chat Noir. Adrien told her he’d dreamed of marrying either her or Ladybug, then her and Ladybug for several years. They only waited so long because they decided to wait until after graduating from university. It should be mentioned at this point in time that it was, and is, a happy marriage, one that resulted in several hamster babies as well as a pair of pretty twins who are perhaps a little magic. It should be mentioned at this point in time that this story is not over, although I’ll stop telling it here.
So that’s the story of Chat Noir, who is also Adrien Agreste, who was very much a normal boy, except for the fact that he wasn’t. It’s a sad story, but it is also a happy story, and it is highly confidential. I’m sure you understand. Goodnight, little ones, sweet dreams.
Adrien leans his cheek against the railing of the crib, looking down at the pretty face of his little twins, fast asleep in the way that only babies can be, their little squishy faces illuminated by the glow of plastic glow-in-the-dark stars glued to the ceiling and the little Ladybug and Chat Noir-themed baby night light on the nightstand. Emie, short for Emilie, reaches a chubby hand out in her sleep and grabs Hugo’s similarly chubby hand. They are both sound asleep, and Adrien sighs.
“What a story to tell them,” Marinette says softly from the door, and Adrien startles. He turns and sees her sitting in the doorway, back against the doorframe, hair still messy from sleep.
Adrien stands from where he is kneeling by the crib, offering a hand to his wife and helping her to her feet. “How long were you listening?” he asks, pressing a kiss to her temple, and she grins up at him.
“Born beautiful, huh? And quit it with that second most sexy superhero in Paris. We both agreed we were equal,” she says as they walked back to their bedroom, leaning on each other in their exhaustion.
“You agreed,” Adrien says, squeezing her side and kissing her neck, and she laughs. Adrien flops onto the bed, but Marinette makes a stop in the bathroom. She returns with a glass of water, offering it to Adrien. He gulps it down gratefully, and then they settle down together in the bed, Adrien resting his head on Marinette’s chest. She moves her fingers idly through his hair, smoothing it away from his face. “If you were there so long you could’ve jumped in on the details,” he murmurs, and he feels her laugh rather than hears it, right up against the beating of her heart.
“You seemed to have it covered,” she says, pinching his cheek. “You’re a good storyteller. If a bit of a morbid one.”
“The twins had fallen asleep by the time I finished talking about my parents,” Adrien says with a shrug.
Marinette pauses in her brushing of his hair. “Why’d you keep going, then?”
“It was all for you, just like always, my lady love,” Adrien says humbly, and his wife flicks him in the ear.
“You didn’t even know I was there,” she says, and he laughs. A little silence envelopes them, and she resumes running her hands through his hair. He shifts his arms and legs so that he is entirely surrounding her, as best as he can, as close as he can get without merging them into one person.
“How many times have we told that story, all the way through?” he asks, his voice heavy with sleep.
His wife hums. “Almost never.”
“Yeah,” he says, and he feels his knees touch hers, beneath the blankets. He reaches up and blindly touches a hand to her face, palm cradling her jaw even though he really meant to touch her cheek. She moves so that she can press a kiss to his palm. “I just wanted to tell them, even if it’s just this once. I know my side the best, or else I would’ve told them your side.”
“Your side is much more interesting anyway,” Marinette said, and Adrien scoffed.
“Liar,” he said, and he knew she was smiling and rolling her eyes because her smile was up against her palm and because he always knew, subconsciously, when she rolled her eyes. He could feel it in the air, just like he could feel her smile and her laugh in the air. It was a certain thing, the way they could both feel each other in the air around them. Almost like magic.
“Goodnight, my chaton,” she says, and he shifts his head so he can press a kiss to the underside of her jaw, “sweet dreams.”