The Tuesday was like any other—Adrien had left for the office before Marinette got up, leaving her lunch on the counter for her. She went in a little bit later, stopping by his desk for a few stolen kisses and dropping off whatever he’d inevitably forgotten. She sat on his desk for lunch while they talked about upcoming lines, about having children sometime in the future, about anything and everything until he sprang a surprise business trip on her.
“It’s just for a week. I promise.” He rubbed her knuckles and kissed her wedding band.
“What’s it about, anyway? Our anniversary’s this week.”
His eyes got wide. “Oh. I—I’m sorry. It has something to do with Papillion.”
“But he’s been in hiding for years. Do you really need to, Adrien?”
He fought tears. “I leave tonight.”
Marinette took a deep breath. “Can you at least tell me where you’re going?”
Adrien shook his head. “It’ll be worth it, I swear. I won’t leave you, Marinette.”
She nodded. “Okay. But you have to come back to me.”
“I will. I swear.” He kissed her ring again and then kissed her on the lips. “I love you.”
Marinette hiccupped, wiping her tears as they got to her chin. “I love you, too.”
It was the last Tuesday she ever saw him.
Six months passed. Marinette became withdrawn, and she quit responding publicly to the search for her husband. She threw herself into her work, only stopping when Alya dragged her home and put her to bed once or twice a week. It was on one of these nights that Alya found a package sloppily addressed to Marinette.
“Do you want me to open it for you?”
“Is it Adrien’s handwriting?”
Alya didn’t bother with inspecting it further as she helped Marinette up the stairs. “No.”
“Then no. I’ll look at it tomorrow. Thank you.” Marinette turned over in bed—still in her pantsuit—and pulled a quilt over her. “Thanks for seeing me home. Have a good night.”
Alya chewed on her lip, unsure if she should leave her like that. “Nino and your parents said to send their love.”
“Send them mine back. Goodnight, Alya.”
Alya turned the light off on her way out, sure that Marinette wouldn’t sleep; she’d been surviving on coffee for most of the time that Adrien had been gone anyway.
Three sleepless hours later, Marinette stared at the package in her bra and pants, her shirt and blazer discarded for comfort. She took a deep breath and sliced through the tape with a kitchen knife, careful not to disturb the contents. She didn’t recognize the handwriting, but she could make out numbers on the individual packages, and an envelope had a 1 written on it, so she opened it first. It was dated for one month prior.
Your dear Adrien has told me much about you. If you’re reading this, that means that I’m the bearer of the unfortunate news that he has passed away, but he had some things he wanted me to tell you in case that happened.
He says to stay strong and to never forget him—as if you could. He loves you dearly. He said that you would know what to do with the included packages, and he told me to number them according to his wishes. I’ve followed his wishes with one exception: I thought you might like a lock of his hair to keep, so I’ve labelled that as next instead of the things he had when he first came to me.
I feel like I should tell you that story, but he begged me not to. What I can tell you is that he wasn’t in good shape when I found him, and I don’t exactly live in an area that’s easy to access. I don’t know how he found me, but he did, and I did everything I could to patch him up. I do wish I had been successful; he told me he’d promised you he’d come back, and he so hates to break that.
Unless he wakes, which is unlikely at this point, I’ll bury him next to my daughter who died some years ago; he will not be forgotten.
I’ll leave you with his last words to me: “Tell her how beautiful she is. Tell her the moon rises and sets in her eyes. She is my everything, my world, my dearest treasure. Tell her that our time together was miraculous. And tell her…tell her I love her and that I’ll see her again in the next life. Goodbye, Marinette.”
I wish you all the best. —MA
Marinette dropped the letter and sobbed.
Tikki watched on, silent.
When Marinette dried her tears, she reached for the small bundle with a 2 on it. Inside, as promised, was a lock of Adrien’s hair, tied together with a blue thread. She brought it to her lips and planted the softest of kisses on it before laying it carefully on the counter and beginning with the twine on the next part of the package.
His wallet tumbled out; his cards, ID, and a few euro still sat inside where they belonged. A worn picture of their wedding day was tucked in with a note in Adrien’s neat cursive that only said “I love you” with a small heart drawn as ending punctuation. With it was his phone, which was unsurprisingly dead. She’d charge it later and hopefully get a better clue of what could’ve happened.
She moved to the fourth bundle, the smallest of them all. Marinette caught the wedding ring before it could clatter to the ground. If she doubted for a minute that it was his, she could see their wedding date engraved on the inside of the band. She slipped it over her thumb and kissed it much like he had hers on their last Tuesday together.
The next one was a similar size, but still a bit larger. A note from Adrien was enclosed with this as well: “Tell Plagg I’m sorry.” His miraculous sat in the paper, and Marinette’s face contorted with more tears for a few minutes. When she collected herself, she slipped the ring on her other thumb.
“Plagg. Hey.” Marinette sniffed and rubbed a thumb against Plagg’s cheek while Tikki floated over. “Doing alright?”
Marinette nodded. “Adrien said to tell you that he’s sorry.” Her voice broke on the last word and she hid her face in her hands.
They let Marinette cry more, Tikki getting her a glass of water and Plagg a bit of cheese. “There’s two more, Marinette.”
Marinette nodded. “I know. I just need another minute.”
Plagg nuzzled up against her neck. “Take your time.”
Marinette steeled herself up and cut the twine on the bundle with a 6 on the tag. She undid the paper carefully and stared in awe, tears coming in spurts for entirely different reasons. The butterfly miraculous laid there, shining as though a battle hadn’t been fought for it. “He won. Adrien won.” She laughed, scrubbing the dampness from her face. “Adrien won.” Marinette sank to the floor and let the butterfly fall to the cold tile with her. Tikki and Plagg cuddled with her, not bothering with telling her what to do with it; she already knew.
“Can someone hand me the last of it, please?”
Number seven; their lucky number for totally arbitrary reasons. His watch was in it, and Marinette found It odd that it was the last. She scoffed, her tears all gone. “He’s probably leaving me with some terrible pun. ‘I’ll always be watching you.’” Marinette rolled her eyes. “He would do that, too.” She turned it over to the back and opened the secret compartment; she’d commissioned a local watchmaker to do it for their first anniversary, and he’d hardly taken it off since, so it became as signature as the miraculous and his wedding ring.
A set of coordinates was written on a scrap of paper. Marinette scrambled to her computer to turn it on so she could look up the coordinates. They led her to an island somewhere in Norway. She bought tickets on an impulse, justifying with telling herself that she deserved a break for as much work as she’d been doing since Adrien left.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Marinette?”
“Yes, Tikki. I have to at least see where he’s buried before I tell everybody that my husband is dead.”
Tikki and Plagg stared at each other and shrugged. They knew there was no talking a grieving Marinette out of anything that might help her heal.
Marinette slipped the watch onto her wrist and smiled sadly at how loose it was on her. “I’ll see you guys in the morning. I should probably sleep.”
Marinette wandered up and changed into an old shirt of Adrien’s; the smell lulled her to sleep while Tikki filled Plagg in on Marinette’s condition.
Marinette rented a car as soon as she got into Norway; there was little light left since it was December, but she followed the roads as close to the coordinates as she could even as the moon rose, sharing only a tiny sliver of light with her dark road.
She arrived at a little house a little while after she crossed a bridge. She cut the engine off and pulled Adrien’s rings and watches from her purse and put them all back on; the butterfly miraculous had been returned to its rightful place and would be bestowed when the time was right. Tikki and Plagg settled into her coat pocket, snuggling up together.
Marinette took a deep breath and wandered out onto the property with a flashlight, praying the owner would be fine with a trespasser. She spied two crosses in the distance, so she made her way to them.
Carved into one was the name Elise. Marinette was sure that it was the daughter of whoever had sent the letter, which meant that the other cross had to be—
She wheeled, finding a small man with a lantern. “Who are you?”
“My name is Mohammed. I see that you got the package.”
Marinette nodded. “Is Elise your daughter?”
“So that makes that…” She weakly gestured at the other cross.
“My wife, Sophia.” He laughed sadly. “She was Catholic. It was an interesting marriage. Here, come inside.” He offered his arm to her, which Marinette took quietly despite her growing confusion.
“Sophia and I met in college. We were both born and raised in France, but we went to Spain for a study abroad trip, which is how we fell in love. I’ve never met a woman with such spunk, though Adrien says that you rival her. I don’t think either family was happy initially, but we made it work, and everybody came to love each other. We moved here on a whim, but she passed shortly after childbirth. Elise was dreadfully early, so she didn’t last much longer. That was about this time three years ago.”
“Y-you have my sympathies.”
“Thank you.” Mohammed patted her hand and let her in the door. “Now, don’t scare the man; he’s not expecting you.”
“I’ll leave you to him.”
Adrien looked up from his cot. “Marinette?”
“Adrien!” Marinette flung herself at him and kissed him, touching his face and chest as though he would disappear if she let him go.
He turned his head away enough to start talking. “Easy, Mari.”
She pulled back enough to look at him. “Easy? I thought you were dead!”
“I thought I was, too. Mohammed said I started miraculously improving about a week ago.”
“That’s when I got his letter. And, uh, the rest of it. Oh!” Marinette took his wedding ring and slid it back on the appropriate finger, doing the same for the miraculous. “You made me open the watch last and I was afraid you’d left me with some awful pun. ‘I’ll always be watching over you,’ or something equally as stupid.” She laughed, holding onto his arm as he wiped her tears away.
Adrien laughed and coughed. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of that.”
“You would be.” Marinette pressed her forehead to his. “I missed you. You’re never allowed to leave me. Never again.”
“I won’t. I swear.”
She hugged him tightly. “I’m so glad I found you.”
“Hey, Mari, what day is it?”
She frowned; she’d long stopped keeping track. She pulled out her phone and started laughing. “It’s Tuesday, Adrien. It’s Tuesday.”