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Love is Like a River

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Chloe Bourgeois did not like Marinette Dupain-Cheng, not from the moment she laid eyes on her. Or maybe she did like her, but feelings were complicated and Chloe was jealous over how well-liked Marinette was.

Maybe that’s why she ignored Marinette’s gasp when the first thing Chloe did was get up in her face, pointing at her so intensely that her finger touched the very tip of Marinette’s nose. Maybe that’s why she refused to acknowledge the birthmark sitting on her finger, or the one that balanced on Marinette’s nose.

No, instead of stopping and staring because, at the great age of 10, she had met her soulmate, she instead chose to tell Marinette to stay away from her and stomped away.

She was too young to know what she had done would hurt.

But in the following years, she learned of that pain and heartache.

 


 

When she and Marinette were 14, Alya Cesaire joined their class. Chloe being Chloe, she didn’t pay any mind to the new girl. In fact, she didn’t even bat an eyelash at seeing her enter the room. The only thing that caught her attention was the large birthmark on her wrist, which Chloe instantly grabbed onto when Alya had tried sitting next to her.

She glared and shook her head at the new girl, whose brows were drawn together in confusion until Sabrina came in and sat where she had tried to.

“Oh. Didn’t know you were saving the seat, sorry.”

“Whatever. Just sit somewhere else,” Chloe muttered, letting go of Alya’s wrist before returning her attention to her phone.

She didn’t look back up until Alya walked away to sit in the front row, the birthmark on her palm tingling.

 


 

She almost missed it, when she laughed over Marinette tripping down the stairs. But it was unmistakable- Alya, who had a second birthmark on the hand opposite the wrist Chloe had touched, grabbed Marinette’s arm, below the sleeve, and helped her to her feet.

Both stared at one another for a long moment before breaking into smiles and introductions.

Chloe hid her disappointment and ignored the sadness in her heart by focusing on Adrien, who hadn’t yet come to class like he was supposed to.

And, when he didn’t show up at all, she promised herself that that was the only reason she started to tear up.

 


 

Alya sided with Marinette over her.

 


 

After her first encounter with Ladybug, and following their many encounters after that one, Chloe often searched herself for a third birthmark on her back.

She’d checked mirrors after mirrors, had taken pictures with her phone and a selfie stick, and even told her butler to check again. And again. And again.

But, there was no birthmark on her back, where Ladybug first held her when Stoneheart had thrown her to her from the Eiffel Tower.

“Check again, Jean Baptiste,” she commanded, crossing her arms and turning around for him.

With a sigh, her butler did as she told, and repeated what he’d already told her a hundred timed. “There is nothing there, mademoiselle.”

Chloe squared her shoulders and bit her lip, refusing to let the tears in her eyes fall.

“Check. Again,” she whispered, voice shaking.

He did.

But nothing was there.

 


 

Getting her miraculous was the best thing to happen to Chloe since meeting Adrien when she was a little kid.

Not only did she get to work alongside Ladybug, who was amazing and kind and an inspiration, despite not being Chloe’s soulmate, but she also gained a chance to get closer to Marinette and Alya both.

Her first opportunity to do so came when she was just quick enough to whisk Marinette out of an akuma’s path. She zigged and zagged around buildings until she was sure she’d lost the akuma before setting Marinette down.

“You alright there?” she asked, nervous but not backing down.

“Thanks to you, I am! I really appreciate it,” Marinette answered with a smile.

“Um, right, o-of course! Anytime you need saving, I’ll totally be here!” Queen Bee exclaimed, wincing at how she sounded. But then Marinette laughed, just a bit, and suddenly she didn’t care so much. “Well, stay out of trouble! I gotta buzz!”

Not waiting for a response, she stepped away and flew off, back towards the akuma with her heart hammering in her chest for reasons unrelated to the monster that nearly swatted her down when she arrived back on the scene.

 


 

The next opportunity came when Alya approached her for an interview.

She was far less nervous talking to Alya than she had been talking with Marinette- maybe because her history with Marinette went further back, and wasn’t any better.

“Oh, man, thank you so much for agreeing to do this! You’ve been around for like, a month and I’ve barely gotten any good pictures because you’re always flying too fast- speaking of which, that’s so cool that you can fly!” Alya exclaimed, bouncing in place just a little.

“You’re right, it is pretty cool,” Queen Bee said, sitting up straighter and puffing her chest out proudly. “Not even Ladybug can fly yet.”

“I bet it really comes in handy, right? What’s been your best use of it so far?”

Chloe thought about it for a moment and tapped her fingers to her chin.

“Well... I think it’ll have to be that I saved one of my soulmates from an akuma.”

“Really? Can I ask how you know they’re your soulmate? How do birthmarks work around the magic of a miraculous?”

“I know because I’ve met them before, out of the suit. And I don’t know. That’s more a question you should be asking Ladybug or Chat Noir, not the newbee,” she said with a laugh.

“That’s fair.” Alya nodded to herself and wrote something down on a notepad. Queen Bee watched her ever move, knowing this wasn’t something she could do as Chloe.

“Alright then, so...”

 


 

A few weeks later, Ladybug answered the question Alya had asked Queen Bee first.

“The magic masks all traces of birthmarks to ensure our secret identities. For example: I’ve got one neck-up, but you can’t tell where or how big.”

Chloe reached for her laptop’s screen-

“And yes, I’ve already met my-”

-and slapped it down against the keyboard, cutting Ladybug’s words off.

She didn’t really want to hear them.

 


 

Eventually, when Hawk Moth was defeated and Le Paon rose to be top villain, the miraculous team of three became a team of four, Rena Rouge being added into the mix.

Chloe wasn’t a fan, at first, but slowly their friendship grew, just like it had between Ladybug, Chat Noir, and Queen Bee.

All four of them would crack jokes together, and they would double up on patrols where games of tag and i-spy would take place until it was time to go home. But even then, sometimes they would stay out later than they had to, just to talk and share little details of their lives.

On rarer occassions, Chloe would leave her room, on nights she didn’t have patrol, and just fly above the city awhile.

The wind in her face, the freedom from all the shackles she had placed on herself, the feeling of falling mixed with trust that she would never crash and burn.

It was everything she needed to feel better.

 


 

Sometimes, she would see Marinette and Alya having their sleepovers, and would wish on every light in the city that she could join them.

 


 

Chloe’s school life had turned around awhile after becoming Queen Bee.

It hadn’t happened over night, and it’d taken a lot of work, but she made herself a better person, one people would be proud to call friend, and one that people would accept if they figured out who she was.

But most importantly, she became the kind of person who could apologize, and see her mistakes for what they were.

She was a better person, no doubt about it.

“But I can still be more,” Chloe would preach to her reflection in the mornings.

With a determined nod, she would finish putting on her lipstick and head to school.

 


 

A scream ripped from her lungs when Ladybug jumped into Le Paon’s path.

Queen Bee had already been prepared to take the hit, to protect Alya who’d gotten caught up in it all.

But no, Ladybug stepped in and saved them both, bought Queen Bee enough time to fly Alya away even as she was blinded by her own tears. When Alya was safe, she didn’t stick around for silly banter like normal.

No, as soon as Alya’s feet touched the ground, Queen Bee was gone, rushing back to the fight and freezing when she saw Chat Noir, crouched over an unmoving Ladybug, the only thing between her and Le Paon.

She saw red- blood, dripping from the cuts across Ladybug’s torso and down her; Ladybug’s suit, torn; Le Paon’s wicked gaze, the eyes of her suit staring into their souls; Rena Rouge, arriving late and freezing just as she had.

She saw red, and suddenly everything was a blur.

 


 

Paris celebrated the fall of Le Paon that night.

Chloe, Alya, and Adrien were in the hospital, waiting to hear about Marinette.

 


 

“You did really great, you know,” Marinette coughed out when she finally woke up. “Always knew you’d bee the best.”

A smile tugged at the corners of Chloe’s lips at that. “Stop being silly. You need to rest up and get better. School is dreadfully boring without you around.”

“We don’t have any classes together.”

“So?”

“You make a great argument.”

“Of course I do, I’ve been arguing since I was in diapers.”

“That sounds about right,” Marinette laughed, wincing at the pain it caused.

“Oh! Here, let’s call the nurse. And I’ll call Alya and Adrien and your parents so they can come see you.”

“Thanks, Chloe.”

 


 

“I get to go home in two days!” Marinette announced when Chloe, the last one to arrive, walked through the door.

“Wait, seriously? You’re not joking?” Alya asked, excitement creeping into her voice.

“If you think my joking’s that bad then I’m offended,” she teased, laughing when Alya practically launched herself into Marinette’s waiting arms.

Adrien smiled brightly at the scene and sat on the edge of the bed. “So you’re all good, health-wise?” he asked.

Voice muffled by Alya’s shoulder, she answered, “Yep! They’re just keeping me over for observation now, and if no more problems come up, I’m home free.”

“That’s great to hear!”

“Yeah, you must be really excited to get out of this drab place,” Chloe commented, holding her head high.

“Oh, totally. Everything here is white, white, white. I miss my pink walls, pink bed, pink curtains, pink-”

“We get it, you like pink,” she deadpanned.

Alya snorted as she finally pulled away.

“Don’t be like that, Chlo. Pink is the perfect color for our girl right here, and you know it.”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t, but- did you say our?” Chloe asked, catching the way Alya had said the word as if it was meant for her.

Marinette and Alya exchanged a subtle glance, and had Chloe not been looking between them she would’ve missed it.

“Adrien, would you be a dear and go get us something to eat? Sneak Mari up something too.”

“You got it,” he replied, patting Chloe’s shoulder on his way out.

As soon as he left, the tension in the room grew twofold, only breaking when Chloe finally spoke.

“Really?" she whispered, staring at them and just daring to hope.

“I’ve been waiting for you to come around since I gave you your miraculous,” Marinette admitted.

“And I thought you’d at least say something when you started being nicer to everyone.”

“I thought-” she swallowed down the lump in her throat- “I thought I’d lost my chances.”

“If you thought that,” Alya started.

“Then let us offer you a new one,” Marinette finished.

Both held out a hand to her, and unable to spend a second more apart from them, Chloe leaped forward and pulled them into a hug, ignoring the makeup that ran down her cheeks as she cried, sobbing into the shoulders of her soulmates.

 


 

A few days later, and after multiple talks with the school principal and her counselor, Chloe walked into class and sat down right between Alya and Marinette.

After all, she had a lot of catching up to do.