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Studying Romance

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“Marinette, Adrien’s here! Are you ready?” Sabine called up the stairs as Adrien patiently ate a warm croissant given to him by Tom, who was baking extra snacks for later.

Marinette grabbed two of her textbooks, her tablet and her purse. “Coming Maman!” Marinette calles back, checking to be sure she had everything she needed to ensure a positive study time.

She had missed Tikki being around, ever since she had turned in her miraculous, she’d feel even the tiniest pit of regret puddling in the back of her head. Of course, Master Fu explained her or Cat Noir were able to come back to retrieve the miraculous as necessary. But something still didn’t set well, especially with the Moth and the Peacock miraculous still wandering about.

“Marinette!”

She quickly opened the hatch the steps and huddled down, smiling happily. “Adrien, hey!” She pulled him into a hug and gently inhaled. “Ready to ace the exams?”

Adrien grinned proudly and nodded, finishing the croissant. “You know it!”

Marinette turned to her parents and each gave them a kiss on the cheek. “See you later, love you!” They interlocked arms and gently waved goodbye to their daughter.

“Thanks for the Croissant!” Adrien said politely, waving towards her parents in respect.

Marinette turned to Adrien who opened the door for her. “After you, M’lady.” He gently bowed his head and smiled as she walked passed, a small laugh following.

•••

“Are you sure your father’s not going to freak at me coming over?” She nervously bit her nails as she looked up at the gate, Adrien’s finger about to push the doorbell.

“No worries, I talked to him about it earlier!” He waved a hand, dismissing her anxiousness. He looked up at the doorbell, reminiscing the conversation held before that afternoon.

•••

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng?” He said, a sour and concerned look on his face. “I certainly do not remember this girl from your class.”

“Father she won your contest a couple years ago, she was the one with the feathered hat!” He groaned, slapping a hand over his face in annoyance.

Gabriel grimaced and waved his hand with irritation. “I’d rather you not bring any of your friends over without reason, who knows what you teenagers these days have in mind to do.” He side-eyed Adrien who became to be flushed at what he was getting at.

Adrien shook his head and made eye contact with him. “Father I just want to study with her, is that so bad? Don’t you want me to pass? I heard it’s much more fun, and easier to remember with help from close friends!” He personally didn’t know if this was true or not, but hopefully his father would take it into consideration.

He stood, staring at Adrien with hesitation before letting out a slow sigh. “Fine, but I expect studying and nothing else.” Before Adrien could respond, he was already up the stairs, into his office.

•••

Adrien pushed his finger against the doorbell, a camera popping out to stare at Adrien closely. “Ah, Adrien your father has been expecting you. Please, come in.” The camera retracted and the gates gently opened.

Marinette looked around at the familiar building, smiling to herself as she remembered their past interactions. She clutched her bag to her chest and exhaled as Adrien opened the door and they entered.

Nathalie smiled and waved politely. “Mlle. Marinette, welcome back to Agreste.”

Marinette nodded nervously and gave a worried grin. Adrien looked over and gently patted her on the back. “C’mon, let’s go to my room. There’s plenty of room for us to study, plus there’s some break time games we can play.” He said, murmuring the last part so Nathalie was unable to hear. This made Marinette smile at Adrien being secretive.

“Ahh, Adrien, is this Mlle. Dupain-Cheng?” Gabriel was at the top of the stairs, holding the usual stance of his hands clasped together behind his back.

Adrien glanced upwards and nodded gently, earning a confused glance from Marinette. Had he not remembered her from before? “Uh- Yes Sir! I’m Marinette, Adrien’s friend from school!” She said confidently, clutching her school bag tighter.

Gabriel suddenly turned his attention to Marinette, analyzing her aged self enhancements. “Hm. I expect nothing other than studying, or I will see to it that there will be no more study groups.” He let out a low sound of annoyance and clicked his way back to his office.

Marinette looked over at Adrien in confusion. “What was that all about?”

“My father’s a pit of mysteries. Anyway, let’s get started.” Adrien smiled and lead Marinette up to his room.

•••

Gabriel gently massaged the dark purple brooch in his hand, his eyes gently looking over it. He hesitantly fiddled with the latch the allowed it to open and close as a locket. “How do you expect me...to just...” He murmured his words carefully, weary of the other people inhabiting the house at the time. “...let you go.” He hissed, calling Nooroo to emerge.

“Master?” Nooroo reached to lay his tiny arm on Gabriel’s shoulder as a show of empathy, but he was suddenly caught off guard by the anger sprouting from the man.

“I can’t hold back much longer.” He growled, tightening the brooch in his hand and marching over to the placement where he presses the buttons on his beloved painting, sending him downward into his space for empathy. Nooroo hurried in, looking around nervously.

“Master what are you doing? You’re not-“

“I’m not. But I need this right now, I feel like I can’t even conjure up the most basic emotions.” He lowered his head and took one last glance at the brooch before clipping it back onto his shirt. “Dar- ..Wings Rise.” He exhaled as Nooroo flew into the brooch, his transformation happening quickly and silence soon filling the room.

Gabriel clutched his cane and closed his eyes, sensing the ball of emotions from each person around him. He let out a pained sigh and massaged his temples after laying his cane down.

Gentle white butterflies landed on Gabriel, tears making clear landslides down his leathered cheeks, the empath taking in the sadness of Paris and expressing it. The poor man shucked to his knees, lowering his head.

His session was interrupted by his eyes darting to a speaker on the wall. “Sir, Adrien is looking for you. It’s supposedly important.” The speaker clicked and he sighed, angrily wiping away the pitiful tears.

Gabriel Agreste didn’t cry.