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Sweet Sixteen

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Sweet Sixteen

“Marinette, I’m so, so sorry!!”

For years, Marinette had imagined tonight. For years, she’d heard stories of her mother’s dream about a huge bear of a man who gave the best hugs and made sweet-smelling bread and pastries in front of Notre Dame, prompting her to move to France to find him.

Marinette had cherished her father’s laughter about a dream of a tiny woman with a bright smile, making him change his ways from a rough-and-tumble wrestler to give her the life she deserved.

And this past year, she’d watched Mylene and Ivan get together, (he’d had his dream a year ago, since he’d been held back a grade, but had been eagerly waiting for Mylene to have hers,) and had listened to Alya’s laughing account of how Nino appeared in her dream and tipped his cap at her. Apparently, he’d just grinned at her when she showed up for school the next day, having had his own sixteenth birthday months ago, and Alya was still swearing revenge at him for keeping the secret from her for so long.

Of course, not all soulmates were happy. Chloe still berated poor Nathaniel on a daily basis, though lately, it seemed he’d had enough and was starting to fire back at her (much to her surprise). And several girls in her grade had dreamed of people they’d never met before, and were understandably nervous.

Still, dreaming of your soulmate on the night of your sixteenth birthday was a hopeful, happy time! Many birthday parties were designed to wear out the birthday boy or girl as soon as possible, and pharmaceutical companies were making a killing with sleep aids designed to help you remember your dreams better (and to get excited, young teenagers to actually sleep that night).

Marinette had fantasized and hoped and laughed and whispered with her friends for years about tonight. Who would her soulmate be? Somebody she knew, or a mysterious stranger? Would they be able to talk to each other? Would her dream show her where to find him? Oh, the possibilities were endless!!

But, apparently, not as endless as she’d thought.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I should’ve had said that!” Tikki wailed, still sobbing on the desk. “Marinette, I’m so, so—”

“It’s okay, Tikki,” Marinette said, sighing in resignation. It wasn’t like the kwami could take back that little slip-up. “So, Chat Noir is my soulmate, huh? I guess I should’ve seen that coming.”

“It’s all part of how your Miraculous works,” Tikki sniffled. “Yin and yang. It’s one of the things we look for when you’re Chosen. You’re two halves of the same whole. I’m so sorry! I’m so used to my Chosen just knowing when the Guardian picks them….”

“It’s all right, Tikki,” Marinette said soothingly, scooping the little kwami up for a tiny hug.

But it really wasn’t all right.

She’d been looking forward to tonight for so long… and not-so-secretly hoping for a different blond to appear…. And Chat couldn’t be Adrien. She’d seen them together when Gorizilla had been after him. Plus, Adrien had gotten turned into a knight, and trapped by Horrificator, and he’d been right there when Alix had been akumatized, but it had taken a while for Chat to get to the scene of that one….

She wanted to sob.

Not Adrien. Not Adrien.

Chat Noir.

Determinedly, she tried to shake herself out of it. Chat was a good guy; she was lucky to have him! He was sweet and brave, clever and witty. And she already knew he had feelings for her. This was no bad thing! She even had a double dose of fun; since she technically knew him, but he was still a stranger—

Wait.

“Tikki, what if I dream about Chat’s civilian identity?!” Marinette asked, suddenly horrified.

“That’s what I was trying to talk to you about,” Tikki said miserably, looking up at her. “It’s very likely you will dream about him without his Miraculous, so you need to decide if you’re ready for that or if you want to try to prevent it somehow.”

“WHAT?! How?! How can I prevent it?!” Marinette exclaimed. “It’s tonight!!”

“Well, you can try to stay awake all night. Or you can try to sleep in the suit—which is very difficult, since I’m constantly feeding you energy when you have it on—but it’ll make it more likely that he’ll show up in his suit in your dreams too….”

“Uh, problem there, Tikki,” Marinette pointed out. “I’m not the only one who’s been looking forward to my birthday dream tonight! Alya and my parents have been planning my party for weeks, and they’re already planning on checking up on me throughout the night to make sure nobody and nothing disturbs me.”

“Maybe tell them you don’t want to find out who your soulmate is?” Tikki suggested. “Some people don’t want to know.”

“Not sure they’re gonna believe that since, you know, I’ve been going on and on about it for, like, forever!” Marinette groaned.

“Oh dear.”

“Exactly.”

“Marinette!” they heard her mother call from downstairs. “Come on down! Your guests are here!!”

Miserably, Marinette dragged her feet as she headed downstairs. She’d been so happy, looking forward to tonight, and now… now it was all ruined. Even if she wanted to find out, she couldn’t! She couldn’t know Chat’s identity, for both their safety.

For the first time, she found herself hoping that Hawkmoth would release an akuma nearby, just so she could have an excuse to get away from all of this. And maybe warn Chat. And maybe not come back until this horrible night was over.

Careful, Marinette, she reminded herself firmly, if you don’t lighten up a bit, you’ll end up being the one who’s akumatized—

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARINETTE!”

A smile bloomed on her face as she took in the group of happy, excited faces greeting her in her living room. How could she stay depressed when all her friends looked so excited and elated?!

It’s still your birthday, she reminded herself sternly as she greeted her friends and family. You’re allowed to enjoy your party, you just have to think of a way to stay up all night….

“Hi, everybody!” she sang lightly. “Let’s get this party started!!”

After all, even if she didn’t get to see Adrien in her dream tonight, she could still party with him all day long!

….

It was only after everyone had left that she could work up the nerve to approach the two people who were probably looking forward to tonight as much as she had been.

“Maman, Alya, I’ve decided not to find out who my soulmate is tonight,” Marinette declared, steeling herself against her own breaking heart. She wanted to know. She’d wanted this for so long…

You already know who he is, she reminded herself firmly. And you can chat with him anytime you want. Ha ha—chat with Chat—he’d love that one… See, you don’t need some silly soulmate dream—

Her best friend and mother shot each other knowing looks and rolled their eyes. Then, before Marinette could remind them that it was her choice, her mother handed Alya a handful of bills.

“Told you she’d get cold feet,” Alya teased, counting her winnings.

“Oh, Marinette, you’ve been talking about tonight since you were a little girl,” Sabine sighed.

“I think she’s just afraid a certain model won’t be there,” Alya said, winking.

Marinette flushed. “N-no—no! You’ve g-got it all wrong!! I wasn’t thinking about Adrien at all!!”

Holy crap, I actually wasn’t, she realized.

“I-I… I just—”

“You’ll just regret not finding out for the rest of your life,” Alya said, hands on her hips.

“N-no, I won’t! I—That’s not… I mean—”

“Forget it, M,” Alya said, folding her arms. “I’m not letting you pass up this opportunity because you think you’ve already found Mr. Perfect. It’s too late. I spiked your last drink with SleepRite, just before we sent everyone home for the night.”

“YOU. DID. WHAT?!” Marinette screamed, staring at her friend in horror.

“And while I don’t really approve of such a thing,” Sabine added, giving Alya a sideways stare, “I agreed that you would most likely regret not finding out tonight.”

“More like neither of us wanted to hear—‘Oh, Mama! Alya! You were right! I’m such a dummy for not learning who my soulmate is! Now I’ll never have another opportunity to find him! I’m the absolute worst! MY LIFE IS RUINED!’” Alya cried dramatically, blatantly imitating Marinette.

“I do not sound like that,” Marinette pouted.

 I totally sound like that.

Her bestie smirked at her. “Relax, M. It’s not like it’s a binding contract,” she said, giving Marinette a little hug. “You don’t have to marry the guy if you don’t want to. Or even date him. Heck, you may not even know who he is!”

That’s what I’m afraid of.

“Just relax and try to enjoy yourself, okay?” Alya said. “Now, you’d better get up to bed! That drug’s gonna start kicking in any minute now!!”

True to her friend’s words, Marinette suddenly felt sleepy.

“We’ll be up in a few to check on you,” Sabine said, patting her cheek encouragingly. “Don’t worry, honey. I was nervous on my sweet sixteenth too.”

“Right?!” Alya laughed, giving Marinette a friendly nudge. “Remember my party, when I doubled my own dose by accident and you and my mom had to make sure I was still breathing all night long?”

“Ugh, how could I forget,” Marinette grumbled. It was why Alya’s dream of Nino had been so short; they’d had to keep waking her up. She looked at Alya nervously.

“Don’t worry, I got the dosage right this time,” the redhead winked.

With a few more protests, Marinette finally trudged up the stairs to her bed. No doubt, her friends and family were looking forward to hearing all about her dream tomorrow morning, and she could already feel the sleep aid in her system start to work.

“I can’t believe she’d do this!” she whined to Tikki, collapsing on her chair.

“What’s done is done,” Tikki said, also looking nervous. “We need to figure out what to do from here.”

“I can’t think already, Tikki,” Marinette admitted as the room started to spin. “My brain is going foggy.”

“Then you’d better get in bed,” Tikki squeaked, trying to use her tiny body to push Marinette out of her chair.

Bed… it sounds so nice… even if it means I’ll find out who Chat Noir is….

Chat!! He’ll be in danger!!

“Tikki, what’ll I do?!” Marinette cried, a burst of adrenaline waking her up temporarily. She used it to stumble over to her chaise lounge.

“You do have a bit of control over your dream. Just don’t look at his face,” Tikki advised. “And you might want to try to make sure he can’t see you either, since the Miraculous magic will make it so he’s actually there….”

“What?!” Marinette startled awake, part of her aware that this was Big News and she should be Paying Attention.

But the cushion was so soft….

“He’ll actually be there!” Tikki called, her voice sounding far away. “The real him! You’ll need to hide your face somehow!”

Marinette opened her eyes to hear the little kwami better—

--and found herself in a blank space.

White. Everywhere.

She blinked. “Well, this is new,” she said aloud, listening to her voice echo and looking around. “I thought it’d be someplace familiar….”

No sooner were the words out of her mouth then she was suddenly in the park. She looked around again.

“So, that’s what Tikki meant when she said I’d have control,” she murmured to herself, glad she was no longer in the echoing silence. And now that she was no longer trying to fight sleep, her head was clearer. “Now, what else was she trying to tell me? Chat’ll be here—? OMG, CHAT’LL BE HERE?!” she screamed, pulling at her hair and freaking out.

“Crap-Crap-Crap, he’s gonna see me!! He’s gonna know who I am!! And—AHHHH!!! EVERYTHING WILL BE OVER!! HAWKMOTH WILL WIN THE MOMENT ONE OF US GETS AKUMATIZED AND—”

“Marinette?” called a soft voice behind her.

A voice that could only come from one person.

“NOOO!!!” she shrieked, clamping her hands over her eyes. “I’M NOT MARINETTE, COVER YOUR EYES!! TURN AROUND!!”

“Umm, okay….” She heard movement behind her and hoped he was obeying. “Are you all right?”

“NO, I AM NOT ALL RIGHT!!” Marinette exclaimed, still in the middle of her panic attack. Dammit. She wasn’t ready! Her heart wasn’t ready! And he’d seen her! He had to have seen her!! Crap, how was she going to lie her way out of this one??

“YOU’RE NOT HERE!” she tried. “You’re dreaming!! That’s right! It’s all just a dream… wooOOoo… and you’ll forget it in the morning… wooOOooo….”

“Woooo?” Chat laughed. “If you’re trying to hypnotize me, milady, you might need your yo-yo as a pendulum.”

“You know?!” Marinette squeaked. “You know who I am?!”

Chat laughed again, softer this time. “Yeah, you’d be surprised how much information my kwami is willing to give me if I just bribe him with enough cheese.”

“HE TOLD YOU MY IDENTITY?!?!”

Marinette was going to kill herself a kwami. If her own kwami didn’t get to him first.

“No, no, nothing like that,” Chat assured her. “He just told me that Ladybug was my soulmate, since I was Chat Noir, and that we would actually visit each other’s soulmate dreams instead of just dreaming about each other separately. It’s kinda cool, if you ask me. Now we can chat, all by ourselves. You must really like this park, princess.”

“It-it was just the first thing that popped into my head,” Marinette admitted. “And again, not Marinette, so get that thought out of your head!!”

Chat laughed again. “Sorry, milady, but… considering I was at your birthday party earlier today—”

“YOU WERE???”

“—I don’t think that’s gonna work anymore.”

“OH NO!! This is bad. This is very, very bad!!” Marinette moaned.

“Did I… do something wrong?” Chat asked tentatively

Marinette threw her head back and groaned. He was so sweet. How had she never realized how sweet he was??

“No! You didn’t do anything wrong! I just—we’re not supposed to know about each other’s identities—and now this—and really, we should’ve defeated Hawkmoth years ago, but—UGGGHHHH!!” she yelled and hung her head. “I’m sorry. I’m such a basket case.”

Chat chuckled. “You’re not so bad.”

“I’ve just—I’ve been looking forward to this for years and then—”

“Then you found out it was me?”

“My kwami let it slip just before my party,” she admitted, still sullen about the whole deal.

“I was wondering why you looked so down,” he murmured.

Marinette swallowed. If he’d been at her birthday party, that narrowed down the list of people he could be by quite a lot.

“Chat,” she gulped. “You should probably stop talking.”

“Why?”

“I might recognize your voice.” She heard him turn towards her and quickly hid her face again.

Chat sighed. “I already know who you are, Marinette,” he said. “You’re the only person I know with dark hair, blue eyes, hasn’t been akumatized yet, and had her sweet sixteenth birthday today. Please, will you just look at me?”

“I can’t!” she squeaked. “It’ll put you in danger if I know your secret identity, Chat! Just wait until we defeat Hawkmoth! We can—”

“My birthday is in a couple of months,” he pointed out, “and I already intended to invite you. Don’t tell me you won’t be able to put two-and-two together when you end up in my dreams that night.”

Marinette whimpered. His birthday was in a couple of months? But… that meant… NO! No, no, no, she would not get her hopes up!!

“Marinette,” Chat said gently, coming up behind her. She felt his breath on her neck as he whispered in her ear. “You’re not the only one who’s been looking forward to meeting their soulmate. Please, my lady. I’ve been waiting for you for so long. And now… I get to know a bit early. I’m so happy….”

“Chat—” she stepped away, her heart pounding furiously in her chest, and heard him sigh in disappointment.

“Do you think—Will there ever be a time when you think you might be able to love me?” he asked, his voice trembling a bit.

He was close to tears, Marinette realized. She could hear it in his voice. Was he scared she was rejecting him again? She had to wipe that thought out of his head!

“Chat Noir,” she said, still shaking a bit. “The only reason I’m not kissing you right now is because I’m scared I’ll put you in danger if I see your face.”

She heard him audibly gulp.

“I’m willing to risk it,” he breathed.

“I’m not,” she grumbled. “You’re the most important person in the world to me, Chat! And you keep putting yourself in danger just fine on your own! And—”

She froze as she felt Chat’s arms wrap around her.

“If it makes you feel better, I’ll ask Master Fu if he has a way to erase memories tomorrow. A potion. A spell. Anything. Just…,” he took a deep breath, “just let me hold you tonight?”

Again, she wondered at the hitch in his voice and the way his hands trembled, even as he clutched her tightly. It was as if he was drowning, and she was his only life raft.

“Chat,” she said slowly, her curiosity overcoming her, “you’ve really been waiting for me all this time?”

“I knew I loved Ladybug the moment we met,” Chat murmured. “Hearing Plagg explain it just confirmed everything I already felt. And then, today, when we were dancing together…,” he hesitated and Marinette swallowed nervously. That narrowed down who he could be to alarmingly-low number. “…all I could think of were all the little hints that you could be Ladybug and… and how much I hoped I was right.

“I… I’m sorry,” he added quickly. “I know I’ve got no right to assume, or to try to push you into a relationship, but I hope you’ll at least… consider me, one day?” he asked hopefully.

Marinette pulled his arms off her, and heard his sharp intake of breath. She could already hear his apologies; worried that he’d overstepped his bounds—so she gave him no time to voice them before she spun around and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him close as she hugged him properly.

Her eyes were still closed, but it didn’t escape her notice that he was the exact same height as another blond she knew. One she’d danced with before; her arms wrapped just as tightly around his neck as they swayed to music. One she’d been laughing and joking with earlier… and who’d given her a worried look before he’d left her party that night.

“You stupid cat,” she muttered into his collarbone. “I told you to stop talking so I wouldn’t figure you out.”

She felt him chuckle silently as he wrapped his arms around her again, relaxing against her as he settled his chin on the top of her head.

“What if I want you to figure me out?” he whispered mischievously.

She couldn’t help but smile as she imagined the smirk on his face. Surprisingly enough, even in her head, it fit there as easily as the soft smile she saw on his civilian form most often. And his teasing made her want to respond in kind.

“Then I should warn you that you’ve got some competition,” she said, as she buried her face in his shirt. “I’ve got a pretty serious crush on a supermodel in my class.”

“Really?!” Sure enough, instead of jealous, he sounded delighted. She snorted. As if there was any doubt about his identity left.

“Yup. And I hear he’s got a crush on Ladybug too,” she continued, carefully keeping her voice light. “You might even say we were made for each other.”

“Oh nooo… How ever will I compete?” Chat mock-moaned, snickering. She laughed with him, feeling him stroke the side of her cheek. “Will you look at me now, my lady? I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed.”

She clutched his shirt reflexively, still nervous. If she opened her eyes and saw him—confirmed that it was actually him….

“I’m sorry in advance,” she said, unable to stop her voice from trembling, “If I become a pathetic puddle of goo in front of you again. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“I don’t mind,” she heard him laugh softly. “It’s actually kinda cute.”

She felt her cheeks flame, and buried her face in his shirt again. He shifted in her arms, and she felt his hand gently nudge her chin up.

“Here,” he whispered, “maybe this’ll help.”

And then he pressed his lips against hers, in the sweetest, most lingering kiss she’d ever gotten. It was soft and simple, but it made her heart pound as he drew away. Her eyes fluttered open.

Sure enough, Adrien’s face smiled back at her.

“Hi,” he said.

Marinette’s reply caught in her throat. Her mouth moved a few times, but she couldn’t get any sound out.

Adrien looked like he was fighting back a laugh. “Am I the only thing keeping you upright now?”

She nodded, still unable to speak.

He grinned, pulling her closer, tighter, against himself. “Well, feel free to keep holding onto me for as long as you want,” he said.

Wordless, she clutched him until her knees felt like they could take her weight again. Then, and only then, did she take a deep breath to steady herself.

“You… you still… want me, then?” she mumbled. “Even knowing I’m like this?”

“Want you?” Adrien repeated incredulously. “I’ll propose tomorrow! Err, wait. I don’t have a ring to give you yet, except for my Miraculous, and believe me, you do not want the kwami that comes with it! He stinks so bad.”

Marinette burst out laughing. Chat’s easy humor had always been able to make her relax, even in the most stressful situations, and it was still true in their dream. It finally felt easier to breathe again.

“I think our friends and family might have a problem with you proposing so soon anyway,” she pointed out. “Especially since we haven’t even so much as dated yet.”

“Got it. One Epic Romance, coming up!”

“Nothing over the top!” she yelped. Really, this boy was going to be the death of her!

He pouted at her. “I make no promises,” he said sullenly.

“We’re not even supposed to know each other’s identities,” Marinette reminded him, feeling sad as she remembered that they’d have to continue their charade. “We can’t tell anyone we’re each other’s soulmates.”

Ugh, what a depressing thought….

“Ah ah ah,” Adrien tsked at her. “Chat Noir and Ladybug aren’t supposed to know each other’s identities. But there’s no reason why Adrien and Marinette can’t be perfectly happy soulmates.” He winked at her hopefully.

Marinette felt her hopes rise, and forced herself to dash them again.

“What about the memory potion?” she asked quietly.

He sighed. “Or we can do that,” he agreed, looking like he liked that idea as much as she did. He glanced at her miserably. “Are you really that worried that I’ll turn on you?”

“What? No! Of course not!!” Marinette said quickly. This was Chat! He’d cut off his own arm before he intentionally betrayed her! “I trust you more than anyone! It’s just….” She sighed. “Our friends and family will be in danger… and I don’t think I could forgive myself if something happened to them.”

“Me neither, but… Our friends and family are already in danger every day,” Adrien pointed out. “And, well, I dunno about you, but I’d feel safer… knowing who my allies are. And how much I have to lose,” he added, pulling her closer. “I’ll still do it, if that’s what you want, Marinette. Ladybug’s always been the brains of our team, and you haven’t steered me wrong yet. If you think we need to forget, I’ll talk to Master Fu as soon as I see him tomorrow.”

She could help but feel a sharp ache in her chest at the thought of forgetting this wonderful surprise—Adrien was Chat Noir, and her very own soulmate! For the first time, she truly felt like she was living up to her Lady Luck nickname.

But now….

“When do you see him?” she asked slowly.

“After school.”

So that meant she had until then to figure everything out. And—eek! A whole day with Adrien, knowing who he was!!

Why did the thought make her giddy instead of terrified?? They’d be in a lot of danger tomorrow!!

But, as he’d said, they were already in danger on a daily basis. And the idea of working with him, of planning with him, and knowing he’d always be by her side….

“Let me think about it,” she decided finally. “And I’ll need to talk to my kwami too.”

Adrien nodded, so innocent and trusting in her to always do the right thing….

“So, my lady—my princess,” he said, giving her a courtly bow and taking her hand for a kiss. “What else can the man of your dreams do for you tonight?” He winked at her suggestively. Marinette giggled.

………………

She blinked groggily as the constant ring of her alarm slowly pulled her out of sweet, sweet sleep.

“Oh, Marinette!” she heard a familiar voice sing nearby. “Time to wake up! Your bestest friend Alya wants to know what you’ve been dreaming about—or rather, who you’ve been dreaming about!” Her bestie giggled. “C’mon, sleepyhead! It’s almost time for school!!”

School.

School was where Adrien was.

Marinette gasped, suddenly very awake.

“There she is!” Alya sang. “Rise and shine, sweetie-kins, and tell us all about the love of your life!”

Marinette snorted, pushing herself into a sitting position. She’d somehow ended up on her bed—must’ve been Papa. She doubted Mama and Alya could lift her up here, even working together. She blinked sleepily, taking in Alya’s eager face as her friend perched on the end of her bed.

“Hmm. Cats,” she said, nodding to herself as she teased her friend. “I dreamed of cats. I’m going to be a crazy cat lady.”

With one very special one in particular, she added silently.

Alya burst out laughing. “Oh, come on, girl! You can’t still be mad about the sleeping pill? Spill!!”

Marinette was debating how to tease her friend further when a flash of red caught her eye. Ah, right. Tikki. She needed to talk to Tikki. Preferably ASAP.

“I’ll spill,” she promised. “If you just give me five more minutes. I just need to process it all.”

“What?! Oh, come on…! Fine,” Alya said resignedly. “But you’d better be down in less than five or I’m dragging your butt down there!”

“Deal,” Marinette said, making a show of flopping back down on her bed.

Alya left.

“Tikki,” Marinette murmured, not moving. “Why didn’t you tell me that Chat Noir was my soulmate earlier?”

“It wasn’t my place,” Tikki said softly.

“Chat’s kwami told him everything. And his birthday isn’t for months.”

“Ugh, that stupid Plagg!” Tikki grumbled. “He knows we aren’t supposed to interfere!”

“Tikki.” Marinette’s voice took on a firmer tone as she looked over at her kwami. “You could’ve given me hints. Warnings. I could’ve made a plan for last night that wasn’t some mish-mash of everything that wouldn’t work! Why didn’t you warn me sooner?!”

“I forgot!!”

“Tikki, please,” Marinette pleaded, sitting up so she could face her kwami properly, “don’t lie to me. If there’s something going on, I need to know about it.”

Tikki looked up at her guiltily.

“I was scared,” she admitted.

“It’s just—I love you, Marinette,” she said miserably. “Just like I’ve loved all my Chosen—And I’ve lost so many of them when they decided to try to trust somebody with their secret identity… even their own soulmates. You’re still young. You still believe in love. You haven’t seen what I have—sometimes things happen, and it can get bad so easily…. But if I’d told you earlier… you would’ve decided to trust Chat Noir.”

“Well, of course I would!” Marinette exclaimed, scooping the little kwami into her hands. “He’s my partner! And my soulmate! Why shouldn’t I trust him?!”

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t!” Tikki squeaked. “It’s good that you two have such a strong relationship! But… But you’re still so young! And so much can go wrong!! And, I thought, if you had to make a split-second decision, you’d… you’d choose to play it safe.”

The little kwami seemed to curl in on herself, her antennae drooping with unhappiness.

“I’m sorry I interfered,” she whispered.

“Oh, Tikki,” Marinette sighed, gently stroking her kwami’s cheek.

“I didn’t expect Alya to spike your drink. I thought maybe we could spend all night suited up and flying around Paris. That sounded like fun. But… it didn’t work out that way.”

“Your Ladybugs who revealed their identity,” Marinette said slowly, “have they all been betrayed? You’re telling me not one worked out??”

“Well, no, of course not!” Tikki said, thinking. “There’ve been plenty who had perfectly good lives after their reveal. But its… not in the majority. And the ones who did get betrayed… it’s hard for me to take sometimes. I panicked,” she admitted. She looked up guiltily, giving Marinette a small smile. “You were asleep all night long, so I’m sure you saw his face. Are you okay?”

“I don’t know,” Marinette admitted, slumping. All this information was overwhelming, to say the least. She wet her lips. “Is there actually a memory potion we could take or something?”

Tikki nodded. “It’s in Master Fu’s book. But it’s entirely up to you whether you want to or not. I shouldn’t have interfered before, so I’ll stay out of it now.”

“Thanks a lot,” Marinette said drolly.

“MA-RI-NETTE!” she heard Alya call from downstairs.

“One more minute!!” she shouted back.

“Are you gonna tell them?” Tikki asked softly.

“If I do, I can’t take the potion,” Marinette pointed out. “It’d be too weird if I suddenly forget all about my soulmate after describing him to them.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I dunno, Tikki. I know I need to think with my head, but… He made some good points, and I can’t just ignore him. For now, we’ll wing it.”

………….

She made it through breakfast somehow, saying she’d had a panic attack in her dream and couldn’t really remember his face. Alya and her parents laughed at her, asking questions and suggesting pointers to help her remember her dream better.

Finally, Marinette pled off with a, “I’d really like to talk to him first before I tell anyone else, okay?” to which all three of them beamed at her. Soulmate dreams were supposed to be about the two involved, after all.

“But seriously,” Alya grumbled as they walked to school later that morning. “You can’t tell me anything?”

Not when I haven’t figured out what I want to say, Marinette thought silently. Her vocal reply, however, was cut off as a very familiar car pulled up to the school in front of them.

Adrien stepped out, spotted them, and froze, his eyes locking on Marinette’s. For a moment, his whole face lit up—excitement, happiness—and he actually took a step towards her before realization washed over his face.

I know you, but I can’t have you.

Can’t touch you.

You’re right there, but…

It was like watching a curtain covering sunlight as he carefully schooled his face into the pleasant smile she knew so well. A smile that didn’t really hide the disappointment in his eyes, even as he waved good morning to them.

Marinette was running before she could even think it through.

OH, HELL NO.

“ADRIEN!!” she shouted just before she tackled him, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his shirt. God, he smelled so good. Adrien somehow kept his footing, just barely keeping them upright.

“Marinette,” he whispered breathlessly, “what—?”

He was cut off when she pulled him down for a kiss.

She was vaguely aware of their classmates’ cat-calls, and didn’t have to look back to know that Alya was filming all of this, but it all faded into the background as he kissed her back, wrapping his arms around her tightly and pulling her against him.

“Woo hoo! Get it, girl!!”

“Yeah, Adrien! My man!!”

“I guess we could say that your dreams were rated ‘M,’ huh, Marinette?!”

Marinette had to laugh at that last one. She pulled back and buried her face in his chest, not wanting to look at him and turn into a puddle of Marinette-goo just yet.

“Marinette,” Adrien whispered, and she could hear the newfound hope in his voice, “does this mean…?”

“I’ve been stupid, chaton,” she whispered back. “And I never could’ve made it through today knowing who you were. We’re partners. Meant to be together. We’ll face whatever comes—as one.”

She heard his breath catch, and he squeezed her tighter.

“Thank you, Marinette,” he murmured. “Thank you. I promise, you won’t regret it. I’ll make—”

“Nothing changes between Ladybug and Chat Noir,” she demanded. “No kisses during battles; no rooftop dates.”

He gave a pathetic whine. “Yet?”

“Yet,” she confirmed, allowing him the hope for the future. “Until then—”

“Hey, Adrien, you wanna let go of my best friend so I can pummel her for not telling me about this little detail?!” Alya called. “She’s been telling me all morning she couldn’t remember your face, the liar!”