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After Chameleon

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The magic glow of Miraculous Ladybug disappeared, erasing any trace of Chameleon’s destruction. Only the memories of Paris’ citizens could offer any proof it happened at all.

Assured that everything was back to the way it should be, Ladybug turned to Lila. The girl had been glaring at her back, but quickly began sniffling when Ladybug turned towards her. She fell to her knees, groveling, aware of the crowd of onlookers watching from afar.

“Oh Ladybug, I’m so sorry, so SO sorry, I didn’t mean to- can you believe Hawkmoth manipulated me like that?” The tears became more dramatic the longer Ladybug looked on apathetically. “Me, a poor school girl, I’ve never done anything to deserve this-“

“Stop.” The heroine commanded. “We both know the only manipulator here is you. You lie, you act like you’re innocent, and you never gain anything real from it. How you can be happy living like that, I’ll never know. But I do know that the next time you become an Akuma, I will not be treating you as a victim.”

Ladybug grabbed her yo-yo and swung away, leaving Lila behind to find her own way back. Chat had left already, having used his Cataclysm well before a Lucky Charm was needed. Exhausted, she made her way back to Francois DuPont, landing in a back alley.

“Tikki, spots off.” Marinette muttered. Smiling weakly at Tikki, she said, “I think this is the first time ever that I can say the Akuma was not the worst part of my day.” Together, the pair snuck back to Madame Bustier’s room, grabbing a few cookies from the cafeteria on their way. Everyone but Lila and Mme. Bustier had already arrived. To Marinette’s surprise, the class had reverted to their old seats.

When Marinette entered the room, the class stood and made their way to the front of the room, forming a line. Alya stepped up first as their spokeswoman. “Marinette, we would like to apologize as a class for what we did. It wasn’t right for us to ignore your concerns and feelings. Especially me. I’m sorry for taking your seat without asking first, and not standing up for you when you needed me. Nino is important to me but so are you, and there is no excuse for how I took Lila at her word when you have proven again and again that you only ever want the best for us. It was time for me to return the dozens of favors I owe you and I didn’t step up to the plate the way I should have.”

At this point Alya’s eyes were brimming with tears. She hugged her best friend quickly, and returned to her seat. Marinette was stunned into silence by the unexpected apology, and only managed to nod in response. Next, Nino stepped up.

“I’m sorry, bro, for not listening to you. You tried to point out the unfairness of what we were doing but it was easier to listen to Lila and that’s on me. I listen to music everyday, but I need to work on listening to my friends when it really counts.”

“To show you how much we care, we all agreed to keep our old seats, even if Bustier argues. You earned your seat next to Alya at the beginning of the year, and you should get to keep it now.” Nino ended with a finger shotgun and wink, before sitting in the front row.

Each student in the class stepped up- Rose, Juleka, Nathaniel, Ivan, Sabrina Kim, Max, Mylene, Alix, even Chloe, one after the other all of her friends new and old sheepishly apologized and sat down. Marinette’s heart filled with gratitude and she didn’t think she could ever feel as relieved as she did in this moment, until the only student left was Adrien.

Adrien rubbed the back of his neck nervously. Moving closer, he grabbed Marinette’s hands as he began his own apology, oblivious to how close Marinette was coming to combusting.

“I may be the new kid here, but even I can see how much you care about the right thing, Marinette. The only thing you dislike more than bullies is liars, and you standing up to Lila should have been a red flag for all of us that what we were doing wasn’t right. I know I’m awkward and bad at saying no to others, but my actions should never have negatively affected you. In the future I promise to trust you as my friend and make sure my actions do not harm you.” He smiled apologetically and turned away, somehow missing how red her face had turned in the time he was speaking.

Grateful for the gesture, Marinette smiled at her peers. “Thank you guys for saying all of that. It means a lot to me that you all came forward like that to apologize without expecting me to apologize in turn, when I did nothing wrong. Hopefully in the future we can discuss everything this openly and possibly avoid more classroom Akumas.” A few students chuckled at the last line as Marinette slid into her rightful seat.

When Lila finally returned to school an hour later, she was shocked to find Marinette sitting behind her Adrien. Clearing her throat, she interrupted Mme. Bustier’s lesson, saying, “Sorry for the delay everyone, but the underground was backed up from the attack. It took forever to find my way back here because, after traveling the world with my parents for so long I just couldn’t remember the way back from across the city. I asked a very kind police officer for directions but after the attack my tinnitus was acting up horribly and I just didn’t understand him at all. I had to stumble here all on my own.” To accentuated her plight, Lila pouted at Mme. Bustier before looking at the class. “If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to take my seat now and get back to learning.”

Mme. Bustier shut Lila down instantly. “I’m sorry, Lila, but without a certified doctor’s note, I will not be able to make accommodations for your condition. You can take the empty seat in the back.” Where you forced Marinette; the implication was left unspoken. Mme. Bustier smiled sweetly at Lila before picking her lesson back up where she left off.

Lila dejectedly made her way to the back of the classroom, not daring to look at Marinette on the way. Marinette, happily gazing at Adrien in front of her, chose not to notice she was even there.