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7-Strings

Marinette was racing to school, late once again. She had been so busy thinking about her relationship with Chat and Adrien, thinking she might give Chat a chance since Adrien didn't seem to have those kind of feelings for her and the silly cat seemed to have pawed her way into her heart with his ridiculous puns, that she forgot the time. Suddenly she unexpectedly bumped into someone and fell to the ground. She looked up to see that she had bumped into a boy with messy brown hair and blue eyes. He held out a hand for her to help her up and she accepted it.

"I am so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going!" Marinette apologized. The boy brushed it off as if he was used to it.

"It's alright," he said in a thick American accent. "I wasn't watching out for pretty girls about to run into me." Marinette immediately began to blush before she remembered why she was running in the first place. She made a panicked squeak before running again for the school with a quick goodbye over her shoulder at the boy.

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Adrien stared at the classroom door as he sat in his seat. Over the last couple years, he had gotten closer to Marinette to the point where she didn't seem as nervous around him. That also meant that her stuttering started to become an adorable little treat in his eyes. In short, he found that she shared the same spot in his heart as his Lady and it was making him a little crazy. He watched as Marinette fell through the door just as the bell rang. She let out a sigh of relief as she picked herself up and Adrien noticed his best friend giving him a knowing smirk, which made Adrien lightly shove Nino. Marinette made her way to her seat as Ms. Bustier made an announcement.

"Good morning class. We have a transfer student from America. Everyone please welcome Ross," Ms. Bustier said as the boy Marinette bumped into earlier walked in. His face lit up when he saw Marinette and he waved. Adrien frowned when he saw Marinette wave back at him. Ross took a seat in the back, winking at Marinette and making her blush as he went by. The blond model glared at the new guy for a long time, earning a snicker from Nino.

'Only I am allowed to make my princess blush,' Adrien thought, a growl wanting to rip from his throat. Alya, who noticed Adrien's behavior, decided to have a little fun with her two friends.

"Oooh, looks like the new guy has taken an interest in our sweet Marinette," Alya cooed as she hugged her friend and watched as Adrien's eye twitched just slightly. Nino covered his mouth to keep from laughing at the blond.

"Alya!" Marinette playfully scolds, not noticing Adrien's reaction. "He's just being nice. I accidentally ran into him on my way to school." Adrien seemed to calm down at her words, happy that his princess didn't have an interest in the new kid.

"Then why did he wink at you?" Alya asked in a teasing manner, amusing herself as Adrien stiffened slightly.

"Well…" Marinette said quietly, a blush starting to form on her cheeks. "He might have called me a pretty girl." Nino finally burst out laughing when he heard the faint growl from Adrien. Marinette gave a curious look at the two boys while Alya giggled and Adrien glared at Nino. The teacher told them to quiet down as she started on the lesson at hand. The rest of the day went similar to that morning. Alya teasing and making Adrien jealous, Nino laughing at his friend's reaction, and Marinette blushing at the teasing. During lunch, Nino and Alya had to hold the blond boy back when Ross asked Marinette to introduce him to some good places to eat. Adrien quickly told Nathalie that he was going to spend his lunch time with his friends before following Marinette and Ross, putting an arm around Marinette and glaring at Ross. Alya and Nino followed them to make sure Adrien didn't do anything rash, but were giddy when they saw how protective he was of the blushing bluenette.

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It had been two months since Ross first showed up to class and Adrien still didn't like him. Adrien had found out, after two weeks of his arrival, that Ross was a player. As soon as he found that out, Adrien told Nino and Ivan so that they could protect their girlfriends while he protected Marinette, much to Nino's amusement. He spent as much time as he could with the bluenette so that he could keep her away from the player. It was the middle of the night when Plagg began to try to wake up Adrien. With a groan, the blonde began to swat at the small cat-like creature so he could get more sleep.

"Kid, wake up! This is important!" Plagg almost shouts, uncharacteristic urgency in his voice. This caught the boy's attention and made himself sit up.

"Plagg," Adrien groaned. "If this is another attempt to get midnight cheese-"

"It's not, this is more important," Plagg rushes out before dashing to Adrien's computer chair. This woke the boy up with surprise. He watched as Plagg guided a red and black creature over to Adrien's bed and landed themselves on the side of the bed. Adrien noticed the red kwami lightly crying, using Plagg's shoulder for support. "Kid, this is Tikki, Ladybug's Kwami."

"L-Ladybug…" Tikki stuttered out. Plagg rubbed her back as she continued to cry.

"I've got this, Tiks," Plagg whispered to her before turning to his charge. "Ladybug has been akumatized. Apparently, she got a new kid in her class that turned out to be a player and faked interest in her and several other girls. Ladybug eventually found out and got mad. Tikki said she didn't care about the fact that he was using her as a puppet but she did care about the fact that other girls were becoming his puppets too," Plagg explained to the shocked boy before he could ask anything. "She got so mad that Hawkmoth took advantage and POOF! Now you have to fight your partner."

"I-I overheard her plan before I escaped. She won't attack until tomorrow," Tikki explained, finally calming down a bit. "When she's does, she is going to, in short, scare the life out of her classmates before attacking. You'll see her tomorrow, I promise you that."

"How are we going to stop her?" Adrien asked. "If Ladybug is the only one who can purify the akuma, how is that supposed to work?"

"This isn't the first time a Ladybug has been akumatized in the past," Plagg informed. "It happens at least once every ten Ladybugs. Tikki gets emotional every single time it happens."

"I told Ladybug that she couldn't tell anyone about her identity when we first met," Tikki explained. "I didn't mean that she had to keep it from you too. I told her that too after the Lady Wifi incident and she said she might reveal herself to you but she was always worried you would be disappointed that she is just an ordinary girl. I'm sorry."

"Tiks, it isn't your fault," Plagg said comfortingly. Adrien was going to have to tease Plagg about this later. "All Ladybugs and Chat Noirs have always been close to each other in their civilian selves. That is just how it always works."

"It's so that they could cover for each other when needed," Tikki interrupted.

"Wait!" So you're telling me that I've known Ladybug this WHOLE TIME and neither of you decided to bring it up?" Adrien asked, a bit irritated. Tikki gave a sympathetic smile to the boy while Plagg just rolled his eyes.

"That isn't important right now," Plagg scolded. "In order to de-evilize Ladybug, you have to talk to her as your civilian form and make her realize that not only do you know she is Ladybug but also let her know that you are her partner. Then you have to get her to use her ability on you. For her it will be an accident but for you it will be on purpose."

"Every Ladybug has a certain light in them that can be seen before she is chosen to be a Ladybug," Tikki explained. "That light is what I concentrate into her yo-yo in order to purify the akuma. Plagg does the same thing with your cataclysm."

"So… I'm basically making her purify herself?" Adrien asks and both Kwamis nod in agreement.

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Adrien was being driven to school and had passed by Marinette's bakery home and noticed, with surprise, that it was closed. His mind started going through reasons why that could be when Tikki poked her head out of his bag that both she and Plagg were currently hidden in.

"I forgot to mention one more thing," Tikki said, gaining the boy's attention. "During the times when Chat Noirs and Ladybugs have been akumatized in the past, they have always remembered what happened afterwards. The miraculous' help one or the other forget when under an akumatized victim's control but when the holder themselves are akumatized, they will still remember."

"Basically," Plagg interrupted. "Even after she returns to normal, she will remember you're Chat Noir." Adrien nodded in understanding as the car pulled up the school. He saw Alya and Nino sitting on the stairs and made his way over to them. However, he stopped in his tracks when he noticed that Nino was comforting a crying Alya. Normally, by some miracle, Marinette would be the one to comfort Alya when she was upset like this, no matter what time of day or night it happened to be. Not seeing Marinette trying to comfort her gave Adrien a bad feeling.

"What's wrong?" Adrien asked, opting to skip the greetings for a more appropriate time and simply getting right to the point. Nino answered for his girlfriend while she tried to calm down.

"Dude, Alya went to visit Mari last night and found the entire bakery covered in puppet strings. Even the house part was covered AND both Mari and her parents are nowhere to be found." Nino continued to rub Alya's back as she looked up to add to what he said.

"The police expect that it is an Akuma but it doesn't seem to destroy anything so they are thinking that it either learned from the past Akumas or it isn't an Akuma at all," Alya informed. She took a deep breath before standing up, Nino instantly standing as well. "I think I'm going to head to class early. I'll see you guys there." The boys watched and waited until she was fully into the building before they started talking.

"Dude, I hope Marinette comes back soon. I hate seeing Alya like this," Nino said as he and Adrien started walking up the steps.

"Maybe we just need to find her," Adrien suggested. Internally, he was already trying to find a connection to his lady but nothing seemed to sit right.

"I don't think so, dude. Several girls have got missing since last night," Nino said, shaking his head. "The only thing connecting them was the fact that Ross had dated every single one of them at some point with the exception of Mari." That made Adrien stop in his tracks.

Apparently, she got a new kid in her class that turned out to be a player and faked interest in her and several other girls. Ladybug eventually found out and got mad. Tikki said she didn't care about the fact that he was using her as a puppet but she did care about the fact that other girls were becoming his puppets too.

That's what Plagg told him last night. Ross is a new kid. Marinette cares more for others than herself. Ladybug is the same way. Everything began to click for Adrien and the words slipped before he could stop himself.

"Marinette's been Akumatized." Nino stared at the blond with confusion before both of their attentions were torn away by a female scream.

"ALYA!" Nino shouts before racing inside the school with Adrien on his tail. They soon made it into the classroom and immediately saw Alya crying on the ground. Then they noticed the strings that were EVERYWHERE. Nino left to go comfort Alya again while Adrien's breath hitched when he saw why Alya had screamed. The rest of the class began to come in and gasps could be heard as their eyes landed on Marinette hanging among the strings like a puppet. Her purple summer dress fell limply on her immobile figure, her normally bright bluebell eyes were grey and lifeless, and her hair fell loose around her shoulders with a black rose in her hair. Adrien couldn't take his eyes away from her even though the rest of the class noticed the rest of the missing girls lined up behind Marinette, each with some sort of weapon. Adrien turned when he heard another scream, this one from Chloe, and saw thousands of strings covering the door. Kim race to go try to free the door but was stopped by Marinette's father, who was being controlled by the strings. The lighting began to dim and everyone noticed that strings were starting to cover the windows too, leaving only a little light left to come in, and was guarded by Marinette's mother.

"Who is controlling all of these strings?" Ross said rather loudly, making Adrien growl. This was Ross's fault after all. Two of the girls from behind Marinette propelled themselves towards Ross and pinned him to the wall. One held a tea cup to his stomach and the other held an exacto knife to his throat. Then a giggle could be heard from the middle of the room and Marinette was gently placed on the floor.

"Mari?" Alya choked out.

"I am Marionette, bringer of the strings. Never again will another innocent girl be used as a puppet for the benefit of a boy," Marinette said darkly. She turned to Ross and more of her puppets came forward.

"Fight him!" Adrien shouts at Marinette. "Don't let Hawkmoth control you, princess!" Marinette stopped her puppets from moving in favor of staring at Adrien.

"Princess? Puh-lease!" Chloe scoffs. "She's just a baker's daughter." Marinette was immediately in front of Chloe, a neutral look on her face. Marinette placed a gentle hand on Chloe's shoulder and Adrien immediately noticed Chloe's feet turning into wood.

"You're right, Chloe," Marinette said sweetly. "I am just a baker's daughter. Just like you're just a hag." When Chloe's new transformation was done, she was a puppet in ragged clothing. "But I don't need a hag in this particular production." Marinette sent Chloe to the back of the room where she laid there lifelessly.

"Princess, stop! This isn't you," Adrien called to her, making her stop and turn towards him. "You're strong, both with and without the spots." Adrien did his best to be careful with his words so that only she would understand what he meant. Marinette glared at him and was about to protest when he continued. "This isn't you, M'Lady!" Marinette's mouth shut closed and her eyes widened. "M'Lady, don't let Hawkmoth control you! Please!" Adrien had put his bag on the floor and walked over to her. "I don't want to lose you, buginette," he whispered once he was close enough. Before she could react, he grabbed her hand and started the puppeting process. He bent down just as he did a hundred times before and placed a kiss on the back of her hand, making her own breath hitch.

"Kitty?" She whispered out, scared of the answer. He stood back up straight and gave her a small smile.

"Would I ever lie to you, bugaboo?" He whispered to her before the puppeting process finally finished. Marinette was left wide eyed.

"No," she mumbled, almost inaudible. "NO!" She shouts this time, more desperate. A bright light engulfed Marinette before spreading through the entire class and then into the city. Everyone had to shield their eyes to keep from going blind. All the strings disappeared and all the victims were turned back to normal. When the light all returned to normal, a pure white butterfly flew out of the rose in Marinette's hair and left through the window. Marinette returned to her normal, casual clothes and almost fell to the ground with exhaustion. Before anyone could recover from the light, Adrien caught Marinette and ran out of the room with Plagg and Tikki following after them. He found an empty classroom and used that as a place for her to rest and for the two of them to talk after she fully wakes up. He gently placed her sleeping form on one of the desks for her to rest on.

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"Marinette?" A sweet voice called through the thick fog of sleep that Marinette was in. "Marinette, please wake up." The bluenette slowly opened her eyes, a headache starting to form, and saw a worried Tikki floating in front of her.

"Tikki?" Marinette asked, realising she wasn't in her room at the moment. The res kwami quickly brightened up and did flips in the air.

"She's awake?" A familiar male's voice said. Marinette tried to sit up to see who it was, groaning when her head began to hurt even more. An arm wrapped around her and helped her sit up. "Careful, Princess. You were just akumatized." At the mention of what happened, her head ached even more and all the memories flooded back to her.

"Chat… Adrien…" Disbelief was in her voice as she turned to see Adrien next to her. "I can't believe I fell for the same guy twice." She hugged him and he froze in shock before returning her embrace.

"Funny. I fell for the same girl twice too," Adrien said in her hair, making her blush. "We were so oblivious," he groaned, making her laugh. The two kwamis, who were originally sitting on the teacher's desk, zipped to hide in Marinette's purse, which was strapped to her waist again. Seconds later, Alya and Nino came in looking for them and started asking questions when they saw the two hugging. Alya engulf Marinette in a hug and scolded her for making the reporter so worried. Adrien and Marinette still had a lot to talk about but they decided that it could wait until patrol tomorrow night, after she had rested a bit.