Rolling along through freshly fallen winter snow, a small school bus made it's way up along a mountainous road, following an array of sign posts all pointing in the direction of the 'French Alps.' The bus trudged along under the morning sun, the road un-smooth and icy.
Inside the somewhat nicely decorated school bus were Miss Bustier's class, all entertaining themselves during the 6 hour drive out of Paris. Everyone sat together in pairs, almost mirroring the seating arrangement from the classroom. Above them, their luggage stored away in shelf like compartments.
Sitting toward the front of the bus were Alya and Marinette. Alya was editing the Lady Blog™ on her phone while Marinette simply gazed longingly out of the window with a childlike grin plastered across her face. The snow danced about gracefully as the bus traveled along the mountain pass, it was a gorgeous sight, enough to make anyone gaze in awe. But it wasn't just the snow that made Marinette smile. In the reflection of the glass, she could see Adrien sitting in the seat in front of her. It was only the side of his face, but it was enough to make her feel warm and content inside. Adrien continued about his business blissfully unaware, chatting to Nino who sat beside him.
Marinette's other classmates made up the rest of the bus, all sat in their usual pairs, chatting, playing games and having a pretty good time. However, for one person that wasn't the quite the case. Chloe sat at the other side of the bus, clearly not wanting to be there. Staring down at her phone, she scrolled through various fashion blogs with a discontented look on her face. Each echo of laughter from her classmates making her grimace. Sabrina sat quietly beside her, watching the scenic view outside with a smile.
The bus continued along its path, up and along the winding snow swept road. The driver, keeping a steady speed in order to maintain full control of the bus, was trying his best to make the journey as smooth as possible for everyone on board despite the rough weather conditions. However, despite his best efforts, some obstacles couldn't be avoided. Disrupting the leisurely trip, the bus hit a pot-hole that had been disguised by the freshly fallen snow. The force of the bounce knocked Chloe to one side. Putting her hand down to catch herself on the window ledge, Chloe's palm landed against some old chewing gum. She let out a shriek.
"Ugh, this bus is disgusting. Utterly disgusting. And you!?" Her intense scowl fired toward the bus driver. "Do you even know how to drive!?" Chloe yelled, frantically wiping her hand. Sabrina digging in her bag for wet wipes and disinfectant.
The driver, a meek looking middle aged man, turned briefly with an apologetic expression.
"Sorry, Miss." He spoke nervously. "There are a few pot-holes along this road, but we're almost there!" He reassured, before turning back to focus on the road once again.
"I don't understand why I couldn't have taken Daddy's private helicopter. This is so ridiculous!" Chloe muttered under her breath, before sitting back down in a slump.
Turning around from the front of the bus, Miss. Bustier smiled toward Chloe.
"Like I said earlier Chloe, this whole trip is about bonding with the rest of the class." She sighed almost playfully. "What kind of bonding would you be able to do from 20,000 ft in the air?"
Chloe sighed, sinking further into her chair with her arms folded as Sabrina attempted to comfort her.
The rest of the class spoke amongst themselves, minding their own business: Rose and Juleka were giggling together over something on Juleka's phone; Ivan and Mylene both napping, Mylene resting her head against Ivans shoulder; Alix listening to music; Nathaniel drawing in his sketchbook, and Kim and Max handing out bottles of water to their fellow classmates. Everyone was busy focusing on their own business, even Chloe who had now averted her attention back to her fashion blogs.
Everyone except for one student. One student had only one thing on her mind. The destruction of Marinette.
Sitting at the back of the bus, Lila watched Marinette smiling away at the front. Lila's scowl grew more intense with each smile. However, suddenly Max popped up from the seat in front of Lila, breaking her gaze.
"Here, Lila" He smiled, holding a bottle of water out toward her. "Would you like some water? It's pretty warm in here, right?"
As if by magic, Lila's expression transformed in an instant, her lips now presenting a loving smile with an aura of kindness radiating from her.
"Oh, Max. Thank you." She smiled, taking the water. "That's so kind of you. You know, I actually have a rare condition that makes my body temperature increase faster than it should in warm environments. It's actually very uncomfortable for me. So thank you for thinking of me Max, you're such an amazing friend."
With deer like eyes, Lila smiled gratefully, to which Max blushed. Putting his hand on his neck, he smiled bashfully in response.
"It's n-nothing. Don't worry about it." He appeared a little flustered. "That's what friends are for!" Saying that, Max turned back around, sitting back in his seat.
The second Max was out of sight, Lila's face morphed back into a twisted scowl, once again poised in Marinette's direction. She clenched her fist tightly around the bottle of water causing the plastic to deform and crumple in her grasp.
Suddenly, the bus hit another pot-hole, this one bigger than the last causing the bus to shake. Simultaneously, one of the bags stored away above moved out of place, tumbling down into the centre passageway of the bus with an echoing thud.
It was Marinette's bag.
Falling with a clatter, the open bag landed toward the back of the bus. Due to the zip being partially undone, a few items fell out in the process.
"My bag!" Marinette jumped, hopping up and squeezing past Alya to pick up her belongings as the bus pulled over momentarily.
"Oh, well done Dupain-Cheng!" Chloe moaned from the front.
Looking down, Lila noticed one of the items had travelled over toward her, a pink diary. Thinking quickly, Lila slid the diary under the seat in front of her with her foot, moving it just out of sight. Marinette approached and began sorting out her bag and the missing contents with haste, not wanting to cause trouble for anyone. Packing the bag up quickly, Marinette zipped it shut before putting it back, firmly into the shelf above once more.
With Marinette safely back in her seat, the bus continued on once again.
"Why do these things always happen to me?" Marinette sighed.
"It's ok girl. At least it didn't hit anyone on the way down." Alya reassured her friend. "No harm done."
"I suppose you're right." Marinette smiled with a nod of agreement.
"Come on, let me show you the knew article I'm working on for the Lady Blog™!" Alya playfully suggested, pulling her phone out. Marinette laughed awkwardly before taking Alya up on her offer with a smile.
At the back of the bus, Lila made sure that no one was looking in her direction before her gaze moved to the seat before her. Stealthily, Lila used her foot to fish out the hidden diary from under the seat. Picking it up, she began to examine it. There was a lock. Looking about once more to make sure the coast was clear, she attempted to force the lock open. However, this was to no avail. She attempted a few more times, at one point using a hair pin and then a pen. However, the lock did not budge one bit. With a sigh, she leant back in her seat before looking up to Marinette once more. Her scowl returned. Her eyes followed Marinette's loving gaze to Adrien, Lila's scowl softening slightly in the process.
Suddenly, an idea struck. Her eyes widened as a menacing grin emerged upon her face. Looking down to the diary and back up to Adrien once more. Lila had a plan. She stuffed the pink diary into her bag before leaning back, quietly content.
Arriving at the resort, the students along with Miss. Bustier poured out of the bus, collecting their bags and gathering beside the entrance way.
Sitting comfortably within the French Alps, the ski resort was beautiful. Surrounded by nature, the resort was made up of wooden lodges nestled cutely among the towering trees. Around the entrance, a cluster of larger lodges, presumably the main buildings for customers and staff alike could be seen. However, spurring further off into the surrounding nature, smaller lodges were also present. These looked to be the places in which guests could stay, and where the students would be staying for the duration of their time here.
"Alright class." Miss. Bustier began, turning toward the class with her clipboard as the bus disappeared behind them. "During this trip you will be assigned a 'buddy', this is going to be the person you spend the duration of the trip with. This is a safety measure put in place to make sure no one goes of by themselves, alright?"
Marinette's face lit up. There was definitely someone she wouldn't mind spending the duration of the trip with. She couldn't mask her excitement one bit. Alya, standing beside her simply chuckled in her direction, knowing full well that Marinette was fantasising about being Adrien's buddy right now.
Behind the cheery girl, Lila stood watching the interaction between Marinette and her best friend, her expression less than impressed.
Raising his hand to ask a question, Kim smiled excitedly.
"Yes, Kim?" Miss. Bustier asked.
"How do we know who our parter is going to be?" He smiled, his eyes flickering back and forth from Chloe standing a few meters to his left hand side. Noticing his gaze, she grimaced in disgust before turning away. However, this didn't phase Kim, he was used to it.
"Oh, good question Kim." Miss. Bustier smiled. "You will actually be able to pick your own partners in just a few minutes. However, since there's an odd number of you, one group will have to be a group of three."
"So...can we pick now?" Kim responded.
Everyone began eying up their potential partners.
"In a moment. First, we are going to go over some ground rules and information regarding our stay here. So, everyone, please listen carefully and pay attention." Miss. Bustier's expression turned a little more serious. Everyone turned to pay attention.
"Ok, so as I stated a moment ago, whenever you leave your lodge for any reason, you must be with your buddy. You're not allowed to go out alone under any circumstances" Miss. Bustier began. "In addition to this, from the moment we enter the resort, you're not allowed to leave. You must stay within the resort grounds for the entirety of the trip. If any emergencies come up where you need to leave for some reason, please find me right away."
The class nodded along to Miss. Bustiers words.
"Finally, the sleeping arrangements. Each cabin should be big enough for 2 sets of buddies, so 4 or 5 people." Miss. Bustier continued. "So, now. Can everyone please get into the groups they wish to be in for the duration of the trip. Once you're done, I can assign each group to a cabin."
The second Miss. Bustier finished her sentence, everyone hurried into their chosen groups. Kim hurried off toward Chloe but Sabrina stood in his way. Linking arms with Chloe it was clear they had already partnered up. With a sigh Kim looked down to the snowy ground beneath him, but was comforted by Max, who placed his hand on the tall boys back with a smile. Smiling back at him, Kim nodded at his friend, partnering up.
With a smile and a wink toward Marinette, Alya stepped forward and stood beside Nino, taking his hand in hers firmly. Marinette looked back at her, nervously. With a chuckle, Alya gestured with her head toward Adrien, standing alone a few meters away.
Taking a deep breath and putting on a brave face, Marinette stepped toward the blonde haired boy. As she began to walk over, Adrien turned to look in her direction, meeting her determined gaze. Seeing her approach him, he smiled, almost welcoming her over. Marinette's cheeks were growing pinker by the second. However, she persevered. She wasn't going to let her nerves get the better of her this time.
However, at what felt like the speed of light, Lila appeared beside Adrian. With a smile she took his hands and said the very words Marinette was just mustering up the courage to say herself.
"Adrien. Will you be my partner?" Lila asked be blonde haired boy, a sickly sweet smile decorating her face.
Adrien's eyes widened as he paused momentarily as Lila's appearance had caught him off guard. Unsure of what to do, he proceeded to turn his head to meet Marinette's disappointed gaze. His uncertain expression then became certain. With a smile, he let go of Lila's hand, much to Lila's surprise.
"Actually, Lila. I was just about to partner up with Marinette." The boy spoke, his voice as soft and kind as ever. "Isn't there someone else you could pair up with?"
Marinette's eyes widened in shock, a little flustered by Adrien's decision. However, there was an issue. Looking around, everyone had already partnered up. As Miss. Bustier had just explained, there was an odd number of students in the class, meaning that one pair would have to take on an extra member and become a group of three. This was playing heavily on both Marinette and Adrien's minds right now.
Approaching the trio, Miss. Bustier arrived before them, clipboard in hand.
"I guess you're going to be our group of three then?" She smiled at the trio.
Before anyone else had chance to get a word in, Lila spoke up, taking hold of Adrien's hand once again in the process.
"Actually, Miss. Bustier." Lila began. "Due to my tinnitus, I have a lot of trouble listening to more than one person speak at a time when outside. In a group of three going around a ski resort, it might be difficult for me..."
Lila held her free hand up to her ear, making something of a puppy dog expression to which the majority of the class 'awed' in response.
"Oh. I see." Miss. Bustier raised a concerned brow at the girl. "Ok then. Well, would either of you mind joining another group?" Miss. Bustier questioned, looking between Adrien and Marinette.
Pulling away from Lila slightly, Adrien began to speak up.
"I don't min-" He began, before being cut off my the manipulative girl.
"Actually, Miss. Bustier." Lila butted in. "It's actually a lot easier for me to hear lower vocal tones when outside. So, I think it would be best if Adrien stayed with me."
Adrien looked toward Marinette almost apologetically before being pulled in toward Lila's side once again.
"Ok then. Well that settles that I suppose." Miss. Bustier nodded in agreement. "Marinette, please find another group to join."
Marinette felt rage bubbling away within her. However, meeting Adrien's gaze once again she was reminded that anger was never the answer. Despite Lila's manipulative nature, Adrien knew the truth and so did she, and that was all that mattered. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself, before turning to look at Alya and Nino with a half smile and look of defeat. The couple smiled empathetically and welcomed her over with open arms. However, Marinette couldn't help keeping her head down in disappointment. She was trying her best to not let Lila play with her feelings, but it was hard. Really hard.
"Ok." Miss. Bustier looked down at her clip board momentarily. "Now that everyone is paired up, I'll assign the lodges."
Excitedly, the students stood clearly in their pairs in front of Miss. Bustier.
The partners stood as follows:
- Adrien and Lila
- Chloe and Sabrina
- Ivan and Mylene
- Juleka and Rose
- Max and Kim
- Alix and Nathaniel
- Alya, Nino and Marinette
Surveying the groups, Miss. Bustier looked back and forth from her clip board to the students a few times before speaking up.
"Ok, so the lodge assignments will be as follows..." She spoke. The whole class listened eagerly, curious to know who they would be staying in a lodge with for the next few days. "In lodge A, we will have Alix and Nathaniel with Ivan and Mylene. There are two bedrooms with four beds overall in lodge A. So, I'd like Alix and Mylene in one room and Nathaniel and Ivan in the other."
With a smile, the two pairs looked to one another with a nod of confirmation.
"In lodge B, we will have Juleka and Rose together with Max and Kim. Lodge B will have the same set up as lodge A, two bedrooms with four beds overall. Rose and Juleka will be in one room and, Max and Kim in the other."
Again, the two pairs looked toward one another with a smile and a nod.
Suddenly, Miss. Bustier's brow furrowed as she spotted something on the clipboard before her. Looking up, she turned to Chloe.
"Chloe, I see it says here that your father has arranged a private lodge for you and Sabrina for this trip..." Miss. Bustier sighed, looking to Chloe for an answer.
"Yes, Miss. Bustier. That's right." Chloe began. "If you're expecting me to spend almost all of my valuable day time with 'those' people" Chloe gestured around to her fellow classmates "then at least let me have some privacy in the evenings." She continued.
With a reluctant sigh, Miss. Bustier nodded.
"Fine. I guess that's ok." The teacher spoke. "But I'd really like to see you making an effort with your fellow classmates in the day, alright? Or your private lodge privileges will be revoked."
There was a moment of silence before Chloe responded. The rest of the class all looked in her direction, unsure of what she would say next. Looking about, Chloe noticed all of the questioning stares before groaning.
"Fine..." With an eye roll, Chloe agreed.
Smiling with satisfaction, Miss. Bustier looked back down to her clip board once again.
"Ok. So that leaves lodge C." She spoke up. "In lodge C we will have Adrien and Lila with our trio, Alya, Nino and Marinette."
Marinette looked up, a glimmer of hope glistening within her light blue eyes once more. A light smile returned to her face upon hearing that she would be staying in the same lodge as Adrien. Despite not being his partner, staying in a lodge together would give her plenty of chances to interact with him. Maybe there was a silver lining after all.
"Lodge C has two bedrooms, just like lodge A and B. We will have Alya, Lila and Marinette in one room, and Nino and Adrian in the other" Miss. Bustier continued. "However, due to the addition of an extra person we will have to order an extra bed for the girls room. I'll get that arranged before tonight." Miss Bustier smiled.
Marinette looked over in Adrian's direction, catching his eye. The blonde haired boy smiled reassuringly in return. Noticing this exchange, Lila scowled, clearly less than pleased.
"Alright class. With that sorted, let's go!" Miss. Bustier smiled, gesturing toward the entry gates of the resort before setting off toward them.
With a smile, everyone picked up their bags and followed behind their teacher, chatting away with excitement. However, just as Marinette was about to follow, someone took hold of her wrist, preventing her from moving.
It was Lila.
Adrien, Nino and Alya had all started walking off, leaving the two girls behind. Marinette turned to meet Lila's displeased gaze, unsure of what the girl wanted.
"Lila?" Marinette looked down at Lila's hand which was currently gripping onto the blue eyed girl's wrist tightly. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I just wanted to set a few ground rules, Dupain-Cheng." Lila groaned. "You're not going to get in the way of me and Adrien during this trip, got it?"
Marinette's previously bewildered expression turned to that amusement as she pulled her wrist free from Lila's clutches.
"Adrien know's you're a liar, Lila." Marinette shook her head. "Do you think you really have a chance with him when he knows what kind of person you are?"
"Honestly, with the way things stand, no." Lila stated bluntly, piquing Marinette's curiosity. "But you're going to help me convince him otherwise."
Marinette stared back at the girl with utter confusion.
"And why on earth would I do that?" Marinette clapped back, almost offended.
Lila raised her brow with a smile.
"Well you see Marinette. I know a secret of yours. A big one at that." Lila spoke, her smile turning darker by the second.
Marinette's heart stopped momentarily.
"Wh-what?" Marinette choked. "You're bluffing. I don't have a secret..." Marinette continued with a nervous chuckle. Her voice ever so slightly shaky with apprehension.
"Well, it's true that I don't actually know the secret, not yet anyway." Lila explained. "But from your facial expression right now, it's clear that you do have one..."
Marinette paused momentarily as Lila's intense gaze pressed down on her. Marinette began to compose herself, realising that Lila was just bluffing.
"Alright, whatever Lila." Marinette spoke, a little more confident now. "Even if I did have a secret, It's not like you'd be able to figure it out anyway."
"That's where you're wrong" Lila chuckled.
Looking down to her bag, Lila smiled before opening it up and pulling out the pink diary. Marinette's face dropped. Within that diary was every one of Marinette's secrets, including the fact that Marinette is ladybug. Tikki had pleaded with Marinette not to bring the diary with her on this trip, but Marinette didn't listen. She was regretting that decision now.
"My diary!?" Marinette panicked. "Give it back!"
Marinette reached for the diary, but Lila pulled it back out of reach.
"Now.." Lila started. "As you obviously know, there's a lock. So I haven't read it as of yet, but it's only a matter of time."
Marinette felt her heart racing.
"But, I'm going to give you a chance." Lila spoke, putting the diary back in her bag. "I wont read the diary."
"What?" Marinette looked at the girl, confused.
"If you help convince Adrien that I'm a good person.." Lila explained smugly. "If you do that, I'll give the diary back, unopened of course. However, if you decline, I have no problem taking this diary to the lodge right now and prying it open."
Marinette weighed up the choice briefly in her mind, still clearly flustered by the whole situation.
Taking a deep breath, she sighed in defeat.
"Fine." Marinette muttered under her breath.
"Fine?" Lila questioned, zipping the bag closed.
"Yeah. Fine." Marinette explained. "I'll help you convince Adrien."
Lila smiled, pleased.
"Good. That's what I wanted to hear." She chuckled before turning to walk away. "I'll see you at the lodge then."
Lila walked off, following the rest of the class into the resort. Marinette remained stood alone momentarily, clearly shaken and a little scared about what was to come. Emerging from her small bag, Tikki appeared. Looking about to make sure no one was around, the small kwami flew up toward Marinette, equally as shocked.
"I told you it was a bad idea!" Tikki proclaimed.
"I know, I know. I should have listened to you Tikki." Marinette sighed. "I'm sorry."
"So what are you going to do? How are you even going to convince Adrien that Lila is a decent person? He knows her just as well as you do!" Tikki questioned.
Taking a breath, Marinette composed herself.
"I'm not." Marinette responded. "I need to figure out a way to get the diary back. I mean, we are staying in the same room so it shouldn't be that hard, right?"
"That's true.." Tikki seemed a little bit more reassured now. "But, it's not like you'll be able to get it back right away."
"You're right, I'll probably have to wait until night time." Marinette pondered for a moment. "I guess I'm going to have to play along with Lila's game, just for now at least."
Marinette grimaced at the thought of having to praise Lila to Adrien. But at least it would only be for one day, right?