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What You Wish For

Chapter Text

“On y va, classe,” Madame Bustier called out to the students still milling around the gallery. “Hurry up! We’re meeting back at the bus in ten minutes.”  

Marinette turned from the portrait she had been admiring and glanced around the room for Alya. She wasn’t hard to spot. She was in the corner laughing at Nino as he impersonated one of the paintings.

Alya caught her eye and grinned, grabbing Nino’s arm and pulling him through a throng of American tourists towards Marinette.  

“Ready to go? We don’t want to get left behind.”

Marinette nodded, and they headed out through the glass doors into a grand courtyard. A large fountain sat in the center of the square and she paused, marveling at the beautiful marble shine and gentle water spouts.

“Cool fountain,” said Nino as a small girl, no older than 3 years old, pushed past them towards the fountain, coin in hand.

She held it up high to her forehead and squeezed her eyes shut, mumbling something hurriedly under her breath. A frazzled mother hurried up behind her pushing a stroller and grabbed her wrist. “Come on Eloise, we have to go pick Jean up from école, he’s not feeling well.”

“Non, Maman!” the girl cried, coin clutched in her fist, as her mother pulled her from the fountain. “I haven’t wished yet,” she protested, but her mother shushed her and answered her cell phone that had started ringing loudly.

“I wonder what she was going to wish for,” said Marinette as the crying girl left the museum.

“If she’s anything like you, I bet it was for a certain boy to notice her,” Alya said, nudging her and looking none too subtly towards the gift shop line, where Adrien stood talking with Chloé and Sabrina.

Marinette looked over her shoulder, cheeks bright pink. “You know that was years ago. I’m over it, honestly!”

As she glanced over her shoulder at Adrien, she missed the look Alya gave Nino as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a coin.

“Here, make a wish for me. I’ve got to run to the bathroom,” said Alya as she shoved it into Marinette’s hand and walked purposefully away.

Nino glanced after her, then back at Marinette. “I, uh, also have to go to the bathroom,” he said before following his girlfriend out the double doors at the other end of the plaza.

Slightly bewildered, Marinette sighed and admired the fountain again, flipping the coin over in her fingers.  I wish…she paused. What would I wish for, if I could have anything?

A newspaper stand at the gift shop caught her eye, the boldface headline reading “Eiffel Tower Destroyed, Repaired Yet Again as Akuma Attacks Worsen”.

I wish I knew who Hawkmoth is, Marinette thought determinedly, not realizing Adrien had walked up next to her until he asked her what she thought of their final field trip of the year.

Marinette yelped and jumped nearly a foot in the air. The coin tumbled from her hand, bounced on the rim of the fountain and landed neatly in the water with a gentle plop.

“I’m sorry I startled you!”

“No no no it’s fine, I’m fine,” Marinette laughed nervously, rubbing the back of her neck. “Just a little clumsy.”

Adrien laughed. “I hope I didn’t waste your wish.”

She gave him a funny look.

“This fountain is supposed to grant wishes. I read it on the plaque on the other side,” he explained, gazing back up at the polished marble.

Almost before she could stop herself, she asked “What would you wish for?”

Adrien bit his lip, eyes lighting up and cheeks blushing a slight tinge of pink. “I’m not sure, exactly. I…uh…. I mean it is a pretty broad question…”

Is Adrien embarrassed?  Marinette wondered, reaching into her pocket for chapstick, her fingers brushing a smooth piece of metal.

“Oh! I’ve got an extra franc in my pocket.” She pulled it out and offered it to him. “Would you like to make a wish?”

He hesitated, then took it from her outstretched hand, fingers brushing hers for just a second. Shivers ran down her spine and she was certain Adrien would have noticed if not for the earth-shattering crash that came from outside.

A crack ran through the floor, through the middle of the fountain, and right between Adrien and Marinette.

Several people screamed as the pipes burst and glowing water started spraying in all directions from the fountain.

“Get down!” Adrien yelled, jumping across the crack in the tile and pulling Marinette towards the wall, away from the oddly shimmering water that had started flooding the room.

A small, glowing form smashed through the glass ceiling and hovered above the fountain. Squinting up at it, Marinette realized it was a child, akumatized, covered in coins.

“It’s an akuma,” a voice in the crowd yelled, and people started shoving Marinette aside to get out of the museum.

“I’m the Well-Wisher!” The child’s voice, though high and girly, boomed louder than any other, and several people stopped running to look at her. “This is my fountain! It makes wishes come true, and if I want to make a wish, I can!”

Marinette glanced around for a place to transform. What happened to the bathrooms Alya had run off to? There, by the exit.

“Adrien, I have to go find Alya, just to make sure she’s okay,” said Marinette as she started in that direction.

“Stay safe! I’m going to look for Nino, I don’t know where he went,” Adrien called distractedly over his shoulder as he hurried the other way.

The rest of their class was hurrying towards the double doors, and tourists were spilling out towards the other galleries. Everyone was calling out to each other, trying to stay away from the fountain and get out of the courtyard.

“I wish everyone would be quiet!” shrieked the akuma, throwing a coin into the glowing water, and suddenly the din in the room was reduced to a whisper. Marinette spotted Chloe angrily pointing at her shoes and outfit, covered in fountain water, trying to hiss at Sabrina but being unable to make a sound, and she almost laughed.

She ducked into the bathroom before the Well-Wisher could spot her and pulled the stall door shut.

“Tikki,” Marinette whispered. “Transformez-moi!”

Chapter Text

A crash echoed outside, and Marinette heard the splash of water just as the familiar rush of energy swept over her and she bore her red spotted suit. She looked down at the floor in alarm as golden water started flooding the bathroom. She leapt on top of the toilet, then climbed precariously on top of the stall to get a gauge of the situation.

The water was spreading fast, gushing from the atrium. She must have busted open the pipes¸ Marinette thought.

As far as she could tell there was no way around the water. She climbed back down onto the toilet seat, then stepped carefully into the shimmering liquid that had covered the floor.

Like a blast of frigid air, a realization appeared in her mind.

“Oh my god,” she said. “Gabriel Agreste is Hawkmoth.”

She wasn’t sure how she knew, but she did know, without a doubt, that it was true. Hawkmoth, who fed off pain, left destruction in his wake, and had terrorized the people of Paris for nearly five years now, was none other Gabriel Agreste...Adrien’s father.

“How will I ever tell Adrien?” she gasped. There was no way he’d believe her. And even if he did, she had no idea how badly it would hurt him.

A clatter and mumbled scream from outside reminded her she still had a job to do before she could worry about Adrien. The job comes first.

Ladybug ran out of the bathroom just in time to see Well-Wisher blast a hole in the gift shop window and a giant stuffed animal flew into her open arms.  

“Eloise!” A woman ran into the courtyard, cell phone in hand, looking around frantically for her daughter. “Eloise, où es-tu?”

“I’m not Eloise! I’m Well-Wisher.”

The mother gazed up, shocked, at the akuma that her daughter had become, and almost more shocked at the stuffed bear she clutched that was bigger than her.

“Eloise, come down from there.”

“No,” shrieked Well-Wisher. “I don’t want to!”

“I don’t have time for this. I’m going to count to three.”

Ladybug glanced back and forth between them. Could a mother really calm down her child if it was an akuma?

“One,” said the mother.

“No!”

“Two…”

“NO! I wish you would just go away!” yelled the akuma, dropping the bear and grabbing a coin from her jacket and throwing it angrily towards the water.

Ladybug jumped into action, swinging her yoyo just in time to knock the coin off course. It landed in a potted plant, but she was too busy running towards the mother to notice.

Well-Wisher let out an ear-piercing wail and Marinette jumped behind a column as coins rained like bullets around her.

She glanced over at the mother and panicked for a minute when she couldn’t see her. Thankfully, she had ducked behind a large potted plant, but Well-Wisher’s coins had sliced through the leaves like they were spiderwebs.

“Psst.”

Ladybug spun around to her left and saw Chat Noir hiding behind a column further down the courtyard. He was crouched rather like a cat in hiding and she bit her lip to keep from snickering.

He motioned elaborately with his hands and mouthed something at her.

“Quoi?” She squinted at him, confused. “I don’t know what you’re saying.”

He sighed exaggeratedly. “I’ll distract our little friend here and you protect the mom,” he whispered.

Ladybug nodded determinedly, yoyo in hand.

Chat snuck up behind the akuma, then pounced.

“Tag, you’re it,” he said, tapping the akuma’s shoulder and sprinting back the other way. Well-wisher followed him out of the courtyard and into the wing of Greek art.

“Cat-ch me if you can!” Chat’s yell echoed down the hallways and Ladybug allowed herself a grin as she sprinted over to where the mother was hiding, and found her unharmed, though clearly frightened.

“Let me help you madame.” Ladybug held out her hand and helped the woman stand.

She was on the verge of hysterics, though whether from anger, fear, or a combination of the two, it wasn’t clear.

“It’s going to be okay,” repeated Ladybug as the woman continued stammering. “I’ll help you out of here.”

“But what about my daughter?”

“I swear to you we’ll make sure she’s safe. The best thing you can do is get out of harm’s way.”

When the mother had safely been escorted outside, Ladybug hurried back. She sprinted through the empty courtyard and into the Greek wing. Several statues were riddled with coin-sized holes, but the fight had moved on.

She followed the sounds of fighting through several more rooms until she encountered them in a room full of impressionist paintings. Chat was deflecting her coins with his baton, but several wishes must  have been successful, because not only was his suit bright pink, but his movements were sluggish, and he was yawning as if he struggled to stay awake. 

He caught sight of her and relief washed over his face.

“Marinette, oh thank god,” he sighed, and collapsed with a splash on the marble floor.

Ladybug froze, yoyo still swinging. Marinette?

Chapter Text

As Ladybug stood frozen in shock, the akuma’s mask glowed purple and Well-Wisher froze as she listened to Hawkmoth’s broadcast.

Ladybug snapped out of it and crouched to examine Chat. He had curled up in a ball and was snoring gently. He called me Marinette, her mind screamed.

She glanced up at the akuma and got ready to fight again. She needed to draw her away from Chat. Asleep, he wouldn’t be able to protect his miraculous.

Well-Wisher still clutched one coin in her left hand. That must be where the akuma is, thought Marinette, but before she could act, Well-Wisher woke back up.

“So, Marinette, is it?” The girl was the one speaking, but it was Hawkmoth’s voice. “Certainly not Marinette Dupain-Cheng, daughter of those two lovely bakers with the shop on Rue Gotlib? I’ll have to pay them a visit before this is all over.”

Marinette’s heart pounded, but she frowned as if confused. “I don’t know who that is, but I won’t let you hurt her. I won’t let you hurt anyone!”

Well-Wisher gave her a sour look. “Pretend all you like, but we will find out the truth soon enough. Now, your Miraculous if you please.”

“Never,” spat Ladybug, swinging her yoyo and knocking the akuma sideways into a beautiful water lily painting.

“Sorry, Monet,” she whispered as she headed for the doorway.

Well-Wisher picked herself up off the floor and shook her tiny fist at Ladybug. The girl was back to herself and started wailing.

“Not fair! I’m ‘it’, you don’t get to hit me.”

“Then come and tag me,” yelled Marinette, checking to make sure the akuma would follow her away from Chat before running out the door.

She slid past DeGas, Van Gogh, and Matisse artwork.

“I wish you were slower!”

Ladybug had no time to appreciate the masterpieces as she deflected coins being thrown at her.

“I wish you would let me tag you!”

It seemed that as long as the coin didn’t touch the water, the wish wouldn’t come true.

 “I wish you would stop running!”

Marinette swung her yoyo, but she didn’t aim right, and it hit a priceless Picasso instead of the coin, which plopped merrily into the golden water. At once, her legs felt heavier, and she slowed down. Shit.

Well-Wisher laughed.

Ladybug walked as fast as she could, though each stride was heavier and heavier. She realized with a start that she had stopped splashing with each step. They had reached the edge of the water. Ladybug slipped into the next room and hid against the wall.  

“Lucky charm,” she called as she spun her yoyo.

Into her hand dropped a mop. Huh? Maybe a mop would be useful to clean up a puddle, but it couldn’t soak up a whole museum full of water.

She looked down at the water that dripped down around her feet, and she spotted the security system on the other side of the room. An idea dawned on her.

“Well-Wisher! You’re not very fast. Slow-pokes don’t win tag,” she called, stepping into the doorway to taunt the child.

“I’m not slow,” shrieked the akuma, and the glittering girl sped towards her, water splashing up behind her.

Marinette skipped to the other side of the room—skipping isn’t technically running, right?—and slammed her hand on the security button. Grates dropped from each doorway, trapping them both in the gallery.

Well-Wisher flew up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder, before realizing that now they were both trapped—and Ladybug was ‘it’.

“That’s not fair!” she wailed, and Well-Wisher grabbed a coin from her coat.

Ladybug dodged the coin—it would just hit bare tile anyway—and picked up the mop. As fast as she could, she followed the trail of water they had spread across the floor.

“No more games.” The akuma’s change of tone was ominous.

“I wish you would hand me your miraculous.”

Ladybug twisted in time to see the coil sailing straight for a hole in the grate. If it passed through it, the coin would land in the flooded gallery behind them and all would be lost.

Ladybug jumped, swinging the mop wildly, and deflected the coin just before it could pass through.

“It’s over, Well-Wisher.”

She swung the yoyo at the akuma’s hand, hitting it with a crack. Well-Wisher burst into tears, but the coin that held the akuma dropped from her hand. Ladybug dove for it and slid across the marble floor (her suit was surprisingly slick), snatching it out from under the girl.

Until this moment, Ladybug hadn’t considered how to break the coin that held the akuma. Coins were sturdy, metal, and nearly impossible to break in half. Except that when she examined this coin, she found to her surprise that foil was peeling back at the edges.

Almost disbelieving, Ladybug peeled back the foil and broke the coin in half. Of course, it was a chocolate coin, she sighed.

The akuma fluttered out and she caught it in her yoyo. “No more evil doing for you, little akuma. Je te libère du mal!”

She released the butterfly and it fluttered away. “Bye bye, petit papillon!”

Eloise sat on the floor looking around, confused. “Ladybug?”

She smiled down at the little girl. “Yes, it’s me. You got lost in this big museum! Can I help you find votre maman?”

The girl smiled sheepishly and nodded. Ladybug took her hand, then threw the lucky charm mop into the air. “Miraculous Ladybug!”

The mop vanished, and a pink shimmer spread out around the museum, putting things back the way they used to be.

They ran into Chat running around on their way back to the courtyard. “My Lady! What happened?”

“You took a little cat nap at a very inconvenient time,” Ladybug said.

Chat’s eyes went wide. “Is everything okay?”

“I handled it fine, but…” Marinette bit her tongue, recalling how he had somehow known her name just before passing out. “…we have several things we need to discuss.”

She watched him, but he wouldn’t meet her eyes. Eloise tugged on her arm, and she looked over to see the girl’s mother running into the gallery.

She cried, grasping her daughter tightly and kissing her forehead. After professing her thanks many times, the mother finally let them go when their miraculouses started blinking.

“I have to check in with my friends so they know I’m okay, but can you meet me at the Eiffel Tower in thirty minutes? There’s something I need to talk to you about.” Ladybug whispered in Chat’s ear as they left the gallery.

His eyes widened a bit. “It can’t wait until patrol?”

She remembered Hawkmoth’s voice speaking through the akuma and threatening her parents. She just needed to check that they were okay, and then she could tell Chat what she knew about Hawkmoth.

“Make it 15 minutes. It’s urgent.”

Chapter Text

Ladybug quickly hid and detransformed, then ran back to Alya and Nino who were chilling out front of the museum.

“There she is! I knew you’d show back up eventually, girl.”

Marinette smiled and gave Alya a hug. “Glad you’re safe.”

“Oh I was better than safe,” Alya winked at her, and nudged Nino, who smiled sheepishly. “Speaking of, you were with Adrien when this all started. Did you two…keep each other company?”

Marinette rolled her eyes. “No! Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen him since.”

“Seen who?” A voice asked behind her and she jumped.

Adrien laughed and put his hand on her shoulder to steady her. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you Mari.”

Marinette froze, his hand still on her shoulder, eyes wide.

“Hey dude,” said Nino, holding out his fist.

Adrien took his hand off Marinette’s shoulder to fist-bump and she relaxed. Her skin was tingling where his hand had been. She couldn’t remember him ever casually touching her before…or calling her Mari. What was happening?

Alya's laughter snapped her out of her daze and she tuned back into the conversation to find Nino furiously rubbing Alya’s lipstick off of his lips.

“I told you I wasn’t at all bothered by the very conveniently timed akuma attack,” Alya said, elbowing Marinette with a shit-eating grin.

“Hey do you guys wanna join us for ice cream? The field trip is def over so I think we're free to go,” said Nino.

“Ooh yes! There’s a new shop just down the street from your parents’ bakery!” Alya chimed in.

My parents. “No, sorry I’ve got…um…that project for art! I need to go back to school and pick up my supplies before I go home.” Marinette fumbled for a valid excuse. I need to make sure my parents are safe.

“Aw it’s ok Mars! I understand.” Alya smiled. “What about you, Adrien?”

“I don’t think I can make it either. My dad, you know.”

Crap, remembered Marinette. Adrien's dad aka Gabriel Agreste aka the renowned fashion designer aka the villain who's been terrorizing Paris so long it seems normal. Hawkmoth.

He pulled out his phone. “I’ll call Nathalie to come pick me up, don’t worry.”

“Guess it’s just us two then,” Alya rolled her eyes and took Nino’s hand. “You’d think at 18 they’d grow up and do something fun for once.”

“You tell ‘em babe,” Nino laughed as they walked down the street.

“Marinette, are you…okay?”

She blinked and realized she had been staring at his hands, his deft fingers fiddling with his phone case.

There was no way he would believe her. She barely believed it herself. His own father, the greatest evil Paris had faced since, what, the Nazi Occupation?

Adrien started fidgeting with the ring on his finger, waiting for an answer. 

There’s no way he’d believe her. He would think she’s delusional, or worse, if it were true, he would resent her for it. And, even if he did believe her, what then?

“I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now.”

His brow furrowed in concern. “What’s wrong?”

She laughed lightly and shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s… There’s nothing you can do about it.”

“I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.”

She sighed. “Thank you.”

He gazed down at her long eyelashes, the light freckles that dotted her nose, her midnight hair, still worn in her characteristic ponytails, even now, their last year of lycée. It suited her. Of course she’s Ladybug, he thought. Who else would it be? How could he possibly tell her he knew? She was always terrified of what could go wrong if anyone knew their identities.

Marinette exhaled, glancing at her phone for the time. Crap. She had already wasted five minutes here. Five minutes Hawkmoth might have already used to get from the Agreste mansion to her parents’ bakery.

“Sorry, I really need to go,” Marinette said, shoving her phone in her pocket, giving him a quick hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow though!”

“See you later,” Adrien called as she hurried down the street, whispering her name to himself, “…Ladybug.”

~~~

As soon as she was out of sight, Marinette transformed. She’d move faster as Ladybug. Racing over rooftops, she reached the bakery in four minutes flat. Perched up on a neighboring rooftop, she eyed the storefront as customers came and went. All seemed well.

Until the posh black outline of a private limousine sped around the corner, stopping right in front of the bakery. The door opened and none other than Gabriel Agreste stepped out. He glanced around, adjusted his cuffs, and stepped towards the door of the Boulangerie Patisserie.

Ladybug sprung out of hiding and jumped to the sidewalk, yoyo swinging and ready for battle. “Stop right there!”

The man froze, his fingertips ghosting over the frosted glass of the door.

“How convenient you practically handed me the address of where to find you. Rue Gotlib, you said? Lucky for me it’s not a very long street. Now back away from the bakery.”

Gabriel Agreste lowered his hand and turned slowly, his face a mixture of annoyance and confusion.

“Hello, Ladybug.” He smiled, but it came off as pained rather than friendly. “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. I’m here because my son recommended I hire the Dupain-Chengs to cater at my charity gala next weekend.”

Marinette frowned and retracted her yoyo. Adrien recommended her parent’s bakery to his father? Catering an Agreste event would be a big deal for business. What if I’m wrong about him being Hawkmoth?

“Now, Ladybug, if you don’t have any further, ah, objections.”

She straightened up and clipped the yoyo back on her hip. “Désolé, Monsieur Agreste. I mistook you for someone else.”

He nodded curtly at her and entered the bakery.

Ladybug swung up to hide behind a chimney across the street, taking one last long look at the parked limo and the closed bakery door. She was already going to be late for her meeting with Chat, but she didn’t want to leave her parents defenseless.

It seemed too much of a coincidence for Mr. Agreste to show up at her bakery just after Hawkmoth claimed to have discovered her identity. But he wouldn’t do anything in broad daylight…right?

~~~

Chat Noir picked up his staff for the third time, checking his phone just in case Ladybug had tried calling him. Still nothing. He sighed and looked back out at the skyline.

“Not much to look at, huh,” he said to a pigeon picking its way along the ledge. It ignored him. Chat sat on the edge of the Eiffel Tower, legs dangling over the edge.

“She said fifteen minutes right?”

The pigeon pecked at a beetle crawling towards him. Chat checked his staff again. It had been twenty minutes since he left the museum.

Where is she?  Sure, she had stood him up before, but this time, she was the one who had called their meeting. Not only that, she said it was urgent.

“I should go look for her,” he said, standing up and dusting himself off. “Thanks for being a good listener.”

The pigeon just cooed at him.

He vaulted off the Eiffel Tower, just as a crash shook the city and a building in the distance went down in a cloud of dust. Shit. He landed nimbly on one rooftop and launched himself onto another, towards the chaos.

Ladybug I’m coming for you.

Chapter Text

He wouldn’t do anything in broad daylight with people around…right?

Unless…

An idea popped into her head. Ladybug couldn’t just barge in and interrogate him, but if she could catch him mid-transformation, she would know she was right.

First, she’d need to cause a distraction.

~~~

Chat bounded across rooftops, finally landing at the scene of the destroyed building only to find…nothing?

It had been reduced to rubble, and a burst pipe was flooding the streets, but Ladybug was nowhere to be seen. A crowd was forming and more people were emerging from neighboring shops to investigate, including a certain teenage reporter, cell phone out and already filming, dragging her boyfriend behind her.

Oh boy.

He heard a siren approaching, but as far as he could tell, no one was hurt. He heard footsteps running up behind him and someone shoved him aside.

“No, no no no, my shop!” the man cried, running up to the rubble.

Chat regained his balance and watched as several people rushed forward to comfort the man and keep him from climbing into the smoking mess.

“Everything,” he wailed, “I’ve lost everything!”

A second man ran past Adrien, bumping his shoulder in his hurry. “Julien!”

“What is with these people?” Chat muttered, rubbing his shoulder.

“You!” The crying man stood and pointed.

“Julien, thank god you’re alive,” the man said, rushing forward.

“Not another step, Jean. It was you. I know it!”

“What?” Jean froze, rooted to the spot. The crowd started muttering and pulling out their phones.

“It wasn’t enough for you to leave me and start your own ice cream place, was it? You had to ruin me for good, too!”

“What are you talking about?” Jean asked, voice starting to grow angry. “I haven’t done anything!”

Those nearest the couple started backing away uncomfortably.

“Oh, sure, you haven’t done anything, sure, except for destroying my shop.”

“Why would I destroy your shop?” Jean laughed. “You’re not even competition anyway, look at you.”

“That’s because you stole all my customers!” yelled Julien, face red, taking a step towards the opposing man.

Jean clenched his jaw. “Your customers didn’t leave because I stole them. They left because you drove them away, with your mood swings and angry outbursts!”

“Nonsense! How dare you—”

“I know, because that’s why I left, too,” intercut Jean.

Julien froze, glaring, his eyes red, fists clenched so tightly his knuckles showed through the skin.

“I loved you, Julien,” Jean whispered. “You can’t blame me for things that I had no part in.”

For one long second, they stared at each other. Two immovable forces, head to head. Then Julien crumpled like a piece of paper, his rigid ferocity giving way to a man too worn and tired to stand. He hunched over and buried his face in the apron still wrapped around his waist.

Crap. Chat Noir leapt at the two men, but not fast enough. Before he could knock it out of the way, a black butterfly flitted onto the apron clenched in his fists and the man was enveloped in a black burst of magic.

~~~

Ladybug leapt out of the way of falling rubble. The crash was so loud it could probably be heard for blocks. She was counting on it. She swung away from the scene before anyone could spot her and hurried back to the bakery.

She hid around the corner and detransformed.

Tikki zoomed up when offered a cookie from her purse. “Are you sure this was a good idea Marinette? What if the diversion doesn’t work? Then you’ll have destroyed a building for no reason!”

Marinette bit her lip. “It’ll work. And when it’s over, I can just make sure everything goes back to normal.”

Tikki swallowed the cookie in one big bite. “Marinette I trust you, but superheroes shouldn’t be hurting other people for their own gain. That’s what supervillains do.”

“It’s for the good of Paris, Tikki. What else could I have done?”

Tikki frowned. “There are always other options.”

“Not when Hawkmoth knows my identity and is in there with my parents as we speak! Now come on, I need to catch him transforming.” Marinette opened her purse and the kwami sighed, then reluctanctly flew into it. “You remember the plan?”

Tikki nodded. “Let’s catch Hawkmoth.”

~~~

Marinette strode into the bakery, purse swinging wildly at her side. “Maman, Papa, I’m home!”

“We’re upstairs dear!”

She followed her mother’s voice upstairs and found her parents sitting at the table, sipping coffee. A third cup sat nearly untouched across from them.

“Is someone visiting?” She asked, gesturing to the third teacup.

Her dad grinned. “None other than Gabriel Agreste. He wants to hire us to cater his gala next weekend.”

“Wow! That’s, um, great!”

He beamed and started counting on his fingers. “I’m thinking croissants, macarons, chocolate mousse with framboise—”

“Great, dad! Uh, where did Mr. Agreste go?”

“Is something wrong honey?” Her mom looked concerned. “He just had to step out to use the restroom.”

“Oh! Nothing’s wrong.” Marinette laughed and scratched her neck anxiously, backing up towards the hallway and opening her purse. “What’s that?!”

Startled, her parents both looked towards where she pointed. “What’s what?”

Tikki sped out of her purse and around the corner towards the bathroom.

“Something flew past, it was big and green and it must have been some weird kind of bird…” Marinette scratched her chin. “Weird.”

Her dad raised an eyebrow. “Big, flying, and green, huh?”

Marinette nodded nervously and smiled unconvincingly.

Sabine Dupain-Cheng laughed. “If you say so.”

“How was your field trip today?”

“Good! We got to see some Degas and Monet and Manet…” Marinette trailed off as she caught sight of Tikki flitting around out of sight of her parents, waving her arms and pointing up towards the attic. She squinted at the kwami. What?

“I heard there was an akuma attack,” said Sabine. “I’m glad everyone got out safely. Were you there when it happened?”

Marinette was watching Tikki as she very deliberately pointed to the bathroom, made an evil face, gave Marinette a thumbs up, then disappeared through the ceiling.

“Uhhhhhh, yes?” Marinette realized her parents had asked her a question. “Sorry, what?”

They laughed and gave each other a look. “Mr. Agreste didn’t bring Adrien along if that’s what you’re so preoccupied about.”

She blushed. “Mom!”

They gave each other a look and laughed. “It’s okay, go on. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of studying to do.”

“Thanks, I’ve got SO much homework,” said Marinette, already running upstairs. “Love you!”

Up in her loft, Tikki was flying frantically in circles. She rushed in and closed the door.

“What did you see?” she asked.

Tikki exhaled and stopped flying. “Good news and bad news. He’s in there right now, as Hawkmoth, you were right.”

Marinette clenched her fist. “I knew it! Anyone who forgets his own son’s birthday must be truly evil.”

She stopped and looked at Tikki. “Wait, what’s the bad news?”

“He transformed into Hawkmoth because he’s controlling an akuma right now.

As if to echo what her kwami had just said, an earthquake shook the house, cracking the floor beneath their feet.

“Tikki, transformez-moi!”

Ladybug jumped out of the skylight and swung down to the front of the bakery.

“Mar—Ladybug, watch out!”

Ladybug jumped out of the way just as a giant green monster wearing nothing but a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron crashed into the street, skidding a trench in the pavement. He lay unconscious, half buried in bricks. Chat Noir landed like a ballerina in front of her. “Bonjour m’lady.”

She crossed her arms. “What did you call me?”

“My lady, of course.” He did a sweeping bow.

“Chat, I’m serious.”

“Hello, serious, I’m Chat Noir,” he joked, twirling his baton.

She grimaced, looked around, then grabbed his arm and yoyo-ed up to her balcony.

“How. Do you. Know. My name.” She hissed at him, shoving him up against the railing.

His expression became serious. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Ladybug asked incredulously, shoving her arm against his chest. “You called my name before passing out in the middle of an akuma fight, which Hawkmoth overheard, by the way, and now you’re telling me you don’t know?”

Chat’s eyes widened. “I did what? Wait, he knows?”

“Fuck, Chat, YES, he knows.” Ladybug backed away from her partner, pulling at her hair. “He knows.”

“Mari—Ladybug I’m so sorry,” Chat stepped towards her, gently pulling her hands down. “I don’t know how I know. All I know is that when the akuma attacked at the museum, I was standing next to the fountain and my coin fell in, and the wish on my mind—the wish that’s always been on my mind—was to know who the lady I lov—"

Marinette gasped, her hand flying up to her forehead. “That’s how I knew!”

Chat froze, eyebrows cocked. “Knew what?”

“Before the akuma attack! I made a wish. I saw the newspaper headlines, thought of all he had put our city through, and I just wanted to know who he was, and then the fountain water went everywhere and made all the wishes real, and fuck Chat I know who Hawkmoth is. My wish came true.”

Breathless, Ladybug looked up at him, her eyes bright and shining, with fury and pride and energy.

Her partner blinked, clenching her hand in his. “Well who is it? Let’s go get him and finally end the hell he’s put Paris through.”

Marinette smiled and nodded.

“It’s Gabriel Agreste.”

Chapter Text

Chat went rigid, every muscle in his body tense, his mind screaming. He managed to wheeze out a “What?”

“Chat are you okay?”

Marinette reached out a hand to cup his cheek, but he took a step back, running his hands through his hair, shaking his head, eyes refusing to meet hers.

“Look, I know it’s a lot to take in, but I didn’t even trust my intuition, so I made sure.”

“How? Gabriel Agreste is the most secretive person in Paris.” He scoffed, muttering under his breath. “I should know.”

Ladybug took another step towards him. “I made a distraction so tempting Hawkmoth couldn’t pass it up.”

Her partner frowned at her, confused, then his eyes widened with realization. “That building didn’t crash on its own.”

Marinette bit her lip and looked away.

“You could have—” he exhaled and started over, voice low and pained. “Someone could have been killed.”

“I made sure no one was inside,” Marinette said, stepping towards him, a hint of pleading in her voice.  “And, it will go back to normal once the magic of the lucky charm is used.”  

“The rubble could have fallen on anyone walking by, and I saw the aftermath, those two men…” Chat shook his head mouth agape. “We’re superheroes, we’re supposed to save the day, not create akumas.”

“Chat, I had to.” She reached for his hands but he pulled them away.

His eyes met hers, pupils thin as slits. They were pools of crystal green algae, and she was drowning. They were full of pain, and disbelief, and betrayal.

“We’re supposed to be a team, Ladybug.” His voice was low, controlled. “Why didn’t you talk to me?”

“There wasn’t time, I needed to make sure I was right about his identity!” Marinette reached for his hands, but he pulled them away.

“How could making an akuma possibly help?” He threw his arms in the air, voice rising.

“Because,” Marinette replied, hands at her sides, voice strained. “He’s here. At my house. Sipping coffee with my parents. Pretending he doesn’t want my miraculous in his hands and my body six feet under. All I had to do was wait and watch.”

“He’s here?”

“Yeah, downstairs—”

“Then we need to go.”

Before Ladybug could reply, he climbed onto the railing and jumped off the balcony, whipping his staff out before hitting the ground. She followed him down and found him ushering her parents out the front door of their bakery. She smiled at them as they passed, giving concerned glances at the green akuma who was starting to stir in the street, bricks tumbling from his shoulders as he sat up.

“Cataclysm,” yelled Chat Noir, leaping towards the apron as his magic gathered in his outstretched arm, but as he flew through the air, the monster’s fist reached out, grabbing him by the leg and swinging him around once before throwing him down the street.

“Are you okay?” She yelled at Chat, who had landed on his feet, as cats do.

Ladybug was already throwing herself at the akuma, yoyo flying at his head, but swatted it aside like a fly. She dodged his fist and used her yoyo to swing above him, landing a kick to his head before swinging up to the rooftop.

“Purrfectly fine,” he replied. He was already running back, jumping onto the hood of a black limo parked on the street and launching himself back at the fight. He vaulted with his baton, landing a blow on the akuma’s jaw.

The blow sent the akuma careening into the front of the bakery, shattering the windows on impact. Dazed, it staggered back to its feet.

Ladybug leapt down, launching her yoyo at him, wrapping it around him half a dozen times before he could fight back.

“Chat Noir, now!”

She barely needed say the words, as he was already racing towards the giant green beast. His hand landed directly on the apron and it disintegrated at the touch. Ladybug captured the akuma with her yoyo, saying the words to purify it and the man shrunk back to himself, tinge of green jealousy disappearing from his skin.

“Bien joué.” She gave a half-smile and held out her fist, but Chat Noir shook his head.

“This isn’t over yet, my lady. Not until we get Hawkmoth’s Miraculous.”

She dropped her hand and nodded. “You’re right.”

“What happened?” Julien asked, picking up his apron from where it lay on the ground.

“You were akumatized but it’s going to be ok,” said Ladybug. “We’re going to catch Hawkmoth.”

The man nodded absentmindedly, and Chat helped him to his feet. “Get out of here. You don’t want to stick around for what’s to come.”

“Thank you, Ladybug, Chat Noir.”

Ladybug turned back to face her partner as the man walked away.

“Let’s get him. This time as a team.”

“As a team.” He echoed, smiling.

Marinette couldn’t help noticing that the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes, which still retained a hint of crazed ferocity.

Together, they walked into the bakery, boots crunching on broken glass. A door slammed upstairs, and they heard angry mutterings over the sound of furniture hitting the ground. Neither of them heard the first beep of his ring over the ruckus. Ladybug whipped out her yoyo and ran up the stairs, Chat Noir at her back, baton out.

Everything went suddenly silent and they emerged from the stairwell ready for a fight, only to find Hawkmoth seated at her dining table, quietly sipping the coffee he had abandoned earlier, eyes fixed on Ladybug.

“Hello Marinette,” he said simply, his eyes never leaving hers. The sinister undertones of his voice sent chills down her spine.

“Hawkmoth.”

“How nice of you to drop by.” He spun his words slowly, deliberately.

“I don’t think it counts as dropping by if it’s my house,” Ladybug practically snarled.

“Give up your Miraculous now and we don’t have to do this,” Chat Noir threatened, voice terse.

Hawkmoth chuckled, leaning back in his chair. “It’s so entertaining for you think you actually have a chance here.”

“Let’s not pretend anymore, Hawkmoth.” Ladybug scowled. “Or would you prefer I called you Monsieur Agreste?”

Hawkmoth’s eyes snapped back to hers, frozen for a second in time. “This is messier than I wanted to do this,” he sighed, standing up. Chat Noir was already extending his staff to fight when Ladybug heard the click of a pin hitting the floor. Before she could register, he tossed a grenade at the pair of them, turning and sprinting for the windows.

Time seemed to slow down.

Chat was shouting, leaping at her, arm wrapping around her waist, pulling her backwards. She threw her yoyo, hitting the explosive in midair and hitting it away from them. Hawkmoth smashed through the glass, feet still pumping midair as he fell from the second story, glass raining around him.

She felt the back of her legs hit something and they were tumbling over backwards behind the sofa. Chat’s body was wrapped around hers, his arms clutching her to his chest when they hit the floor.

That’s when the bomb went off.

The shock wave hit her like a tidal wave, and she heard the rain of shrapnel on wood. An acrid smell invaded her nose, and she gasped for breath, choking on the fuming air. Ears ringing, she opened her eyes, but she couldn’t see anything through the smoke that filled the room.

Tears leaked down her cheeks, and she pulled on her partner’s arms, struggling to her feet. He weighed her down, hands gripping her shoulders so tightly she could feel his claws piercing her skin through the suit.

“Stay with me,” she coughed, clutching his hand. Adrenaline coursing through her veins, she pulled him to his feet. She knew her way around her house like the back of her hand, but they still tripped over shattered wood and broken pottery as she led them to the stair well.  

They finally emerged from the bakery, coughing, tears streaming down their masks. Hawkmoth was nowhere to be seen.

Before Ladybug could defend herself, hands grabbed her arms roughly, pulling her apart from Chat Noir. Thick cords were wrapped around her torso, binding her arms against her body and immobilizing her. Heart pounding in her chest, she cried out, but there was nothing either of them could do. She caught a glance of their assailant, an akuma they had encountered once before: Gorizilla.

Her yoyo was torn from her grip and he dragged them to the open doors of a waiting black limousine, shoving them harshly inside. Ears still echoing with the blast of the grenade, neither of them heard Chat’s ring beep for a second time.

Gorizilla slammed the door on them and Ladybug got her first good look at her partner, who had collapsed against the seat opposite her. He was breathing harshly, his hair turned dusty gray from the ash, except for his right temple, which was soaked red. He met her eyes and let out a few shaky laughs before coughing uncontrollably.

“Chaton,” she breathed, tears threatening behind her eyes. “I think you saved our lives.”

“Thank me later,” he choked out, flashing her a pained grin.

The slam of a door alerted them that someone had climbed into the driver’s seat, and within seconds, the car began moving.

Ladybug looked down at herself, taking stock of any injuries. Amazingly, their suits had protected them from any vital injuries. None of the shrapnel had managed to pierce the material. Each joint in her body ached, but she was alive.

“Did he take your yoyo?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “Your staff?”

He nodded.

“How bad is it?” Ladybug asked.

Chat shrugged. “It’s nothing I can’t handle, my lady.” He sighed dramatically, “I just hope it doesn’t leave a scar on my purrfect face.”

Ladybug laughed and rolled her eyes. Relief washed through her and she sat back against the plush leather seats. If he could still crack jokes at a time like these, he would be okay. She didn’t notice how he winced when her eyes left his, and she couldn’t see his claws scratching to no avail at the cords that bound him.

It wasn’t the pain that hurt. It was the truth. Gabriel Agreste, his father, was Hawkmoth. His own father had tried to kill him in cold blood, and all for what, some pieces of magic jewelry? One ugly thought stood out from the rest, shoving its way to the front of his mind, pushing itself down his throat and settling in the pit of his stomach. If Hawkmoth knew his true identity, would it even change anything?

Ladybug’s voice pulled him out of his mess of thoughts. “What happens if we can’t do this?”

“We will.”

She shot him a dubious look.

“We can do this, Marinette. We’ll find a way. You always know what to do.”

The jolt as the car came to a stop in front of the Eiffel Tower sent them flying across the back of the limo, the screech of tires louder than the sound of Chat’s ring beeping a third time.

Chapter Text

Gorizilla pulled them out of the limo, dwarfing them in size. His fists were as big as Marinette’s torso, and he picked them up, one in each fist. With a running start, he jumped up to the first platform of the Eiffel Tower in one leap.

Hawkmoth was waiting, Catalyst at his side. Gorizilla let go of the heroes and grunted, prodding them towards the supervillains.

“I do apologize for the little distraction, but that discrete little bakery…well let’s just say it didn’t fit my artistic vision.”

“Distraction? You threw a grenade at us!” Ladybug shouted, straining against the cords binding her.

Hawkmoth continued as if he hadn’t heard her. “You see, when I defeat Ladybug and Chat Noir once and for all, I want the world to be watching.” He gestured to the ground far below them, where news crews were already arriving, and crowds had formed. Ladybug looked down and thought she spotted one familiar face with her phone out, filming. “I’ve dealt with your meddling for long enough. I will take your miraculous, even if I have to pry them—”

“Monologuing,” Chat yawned dismissively, channeling every ounce of rebellious teen that he could, praying none of the three villains would notice his claws sawing furiously behind his back. “I should have known he would monologue.”

Hawkmoth glared at him, then smiled cruelly. “Catalyst, since our prisoners are in such a hurry, let’s help them on their way. Relieve them of their miraculous.”

“No!” Ladybug yelled, adopting a fighting stance as best she could without the use of her arms. Chat felt his claw finally break through the cord and it fell to his feet.

He leapt at his partner, claws out. They sliced through the cord in one stroke and she shook out her arms.

“Gorizilla! Their miraculous!” Hawkmoth yelled, already running at the heroes. Catalyst ran at Chat Noir, but he somersaulted over her, landing nimbly on the shoulders of Gorizilla.

The akuma reached over his shoulders, but Chat slipped off, sneaking his hand into the pockets of his shorts and pulling out his staff and Ladybug’s yoyo.

“Bingo!”

He ducked Gorizilla’s swinging arms and extended his staff, vaulting over Catalyst and towards Ladybug, who was dodging blows from Hawkmoth.

“My lady!” He yelled, pitching her yoyo at her like a baseball. She caught it easily and threw it at a support beam, swinging out of Hawkmoth’s reach.

A blow to his back sent him flying off the edge of the ledge, but his baton caught his fall and he flew back up. He went sailing feet first into Hawkmoth, knocking him to the ground.

They tumbled several meters, and Chat leapt up first, pressing his baton down on Hawkmoth’s windpipe.

“Call off the akumas,” he demanded, grabbing for Hawkmoth’s miraculous.

“Never,” Hawkmoth snarled. Something large slammed into him from behind and Chat went flying off of Hawkmoth, skidding to a stop at the railing.

Gorizilla charged at him on all fours and Chat stayed put until the last second and jumped to the side. The akuma went careening off the edge.

Chat looked over and saw Ladybug was battling Catalyst, holding her own against the supervillain, but she was circling back towards him.

He started running towards her, but he saw movement in his peripheral vision and turned just as Hawkmoth reached him, arm raised. He held up his baton and stopped the blow at his head, but Hawkmoth jabbed him in the stomach with his other hand.

Coughing, he swung his pole, hitting the back of Hawkmoth’s hand hard enough to leave a red mark, and jumped back, out of reach. Gorizilla clambered over the railing and came towards him from the right. Behind him, he heard the scuffle of a fight and turned around just as Ladybug almost ran into him.

“There’s no used trying to break the akumatized object,” she grunted, deflecting a blow from Catalyst. “They’re working for Hawkmoth because they want to.”

“Then how does this end?” He asked, swinging his baton at Catalyst’s head. Instead of dodging it, she grabbed the staff in midair and pulled.

He went stumbling towards her and she grabbed his right arm, twisting it painfully behind his back. He elbowed her in the stomach, and she grunted, but her grip stayed iron tight. She squeezed his wrist tighter than he thought possible and pried open his fingers. He felt her pull the staff from his grasp and fling it away. It clattered on the ground somewhere to his left.  

“Chat!” Ladybug cried out, throwing her yoyo at Catalyst’s hand. It connected hard, and her fingers weakened. He wretched his arm from her grip, ready to fight, just as she pulled a knife to his throat with her left hand.

Chat froze, feeling the pressure of cool metal against his bare skin. Ladybug jolted to a stop, yoyo swinging at her side. Hawkmoth stalked towards them, Gorizilla clambering slowly behind him.

“It ends,” he said, “like this.”  

Chat Noir’s breath hitched in his throat. He raised his hands in front of him, unarmed. “You don’t have to do this,” he whispered.

“I do have to,” his father replied, voice unwavering, malicious. “You’re right where I want you.”

Chat’s miraculous beeped for the fourth time. Ladybug glanced at his ring and realized finally that only the center paw print remained. Shit.

Hawkmoth’s mouth twisted into a vicious grin. “Not much time left for you, Chat Noir.”

Ladybug did the only thing she could do. She flung her yoyo in the air and cried, “Lucky charm!”

“No!” Hawkmoth yelled, but it was too late. In her hands landed a small wooden jewelry box.

“Move a muscle and he dies.” Hawkmoth’s voice cut like ice.

She stopped breathing, arms clutching the box to her chest. She looked over at Chat Noir and their eyes met.   

“Gorizilla, take it,” Hawkmoth commanded, angry and victorious at the same time.

The akumatized bodyguard obeyed, lumbering over and pulling it from her grasp. A sob escaped her lips and Catalyst pressed the blade tighter against Chat Noir’s throat. Her eyes soaked him in, committing him to memory.

“You never learn, do you?” The villain is never done talking.

Chat Noir’s hair was dusty blonde, but the sun shining down through the ironwork of the tower dappled it in gold. Blood stained one side of his forehead. A drop of it had slipped down his cheek and stopped at his jawline, hanging there, weightless.

“You can’t beat me with friendship, or luck.” Hawkmoth scoffed.

Dust from the explosion still dusted his cat ears, his eyebrows, the ridge of his nose.

“To beat me you’d need power.”

His lips looked soft, and Marinette wished she could brush hers against them, feel the tenderness of skin on skin.

“With both your miraculous combined, I will have absolute power.”

Oh, his eyes. Green as a fresh-picked apple in October, green as the moss that lines a forest floor, green as the flower buds that peek through the earth in springtime. It was like looking into another world.

“What good is power?” Chat Noir’s voice was quiet, sincere. He spoke to Hawkmoth, but his eyes never left Marinette’s. “What good is power, if you don’t have love?”

He closed his eyes and let the transformation wash over him.

Chapter Text

The magic faded away and green eyes blinked at her. Ladybug gasped.

“Adrien?” Hawkmoth’s voice wavered. He took one halting step towards his son. His eyes, as if seeing for the first time, took in the dark circles under his eyes, the bloody gash on his forehead, the knife at his throat. “What have I done?”

Adrien finally turned to look at him, meeting his eyes for an instant before casting them at the ground. A tear dripped from his eyelashes and fell on his shirt.

Gabriel Agreste’s jaw fell slack, his eyes searching his son for some semblance of meaning. He motioned with his hand and Catalyst pulled the knife away from Adrien’s neck, stepping back.

“Nooro, dark wings fall,” Gabriel said quietly, voice overcrowded with emotion.

The transformations on the akumas melted away, the faint outline of a butterfly glowing around their faces for only a moment before Hawkmoth himself detransformed.

Slowly, cautiously, he took a step towards his son, then another, and another.

He reached Adrien, who looked up slowly into his father’s face. Their eyes met, acknowledging each other. Gabriel finally reached up his hand, gently rubbing his thumb against the blood now dried on Adrien’s forehead. Adrien winced, and his father let out the choked echoes of a sob.

Gabriel wrapped his arms around his son, clutching his body to his own.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, and Adrien felt hot tears drip onto his shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”

Hesitantly, Adrien reached up and hugged his father back.

When they finally pulled apart, Gabriel straightened up, swallowing and straightening his tie. His fingers brushed the cool metal brooch pinned beneath it. His fingers froze, then very slowly, he undid the clasp. Hesitantly, he turned to Ladybug, offering it in his outstretched hand.

“Take it.”

She stepped forward and took it cautiously from his hand. His fingers closed around thin air and he put his hand back in his pocket. For the first time in a long time, he could breathe.

Adrien’s bodyguard stepped forward with Ladybug’s lucky charm and held it out to her. “You might need this,” he said gruffly, and she smiled.

“Thank you, Monsieur Gorilla.”

She held out her hand, palm up, and Adrien walked over to her and took it.

“Together?” she asked.

“Together,” he agreed.

“Miraculous Ladybug!”

~~~

“Breaking News. We have just received word that Hawkmoth has been defeated at the Eiffel Tower. Our correspondent, Nadja Chamack, is there now. Nadja, tell us what’s just happened.

***

Thanks, Laurent. I’m here surrounded by a crowd of thousands of cheering bystanders who only hours ago witnessed the downfall of the infamous supervillain, Hawkmoth. It’s still unclear exactly what happened up there, but after a short fight against Ladybug and Chat Noir, Hawkmoth has surrendered himself to the authorities.

He was accompanied by two akumatized side-kicks, Gorizilla and Catalyst, who have been taken into custody as well. It’s unclear whether they helped him willingly. Like I said, we don’t know much but…

…just a minute...

holy ****…you’re sure?...

Alright folks, I’ve just received word that Hawkmoth’s identity has been released. The greatest villain to ever face Paris is none other than reclusive fashion designer, Gabriel Agreste.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. Go to our website for exclusive footage of the battle. Back to you Laurent, with the weather.”

Ladybug flipped shut her yoyo, turning off the broadcast. She looked over at Chat, who was leaning backwards against the wall of the church, eyes closed.

After the Lucky Charm returned the city to its prior state, they had handed Hawkmoth over to the police and gotten out of there as fast as possible. Her parents had quite a shock when Ladybug landed on their doorstep, a bloody and teary Adrien Agreste at her side. But Sabine had put two and two together pretty quickly. After being cleaned up and stuffed full of croissants, they made their way to where they were now.

With so much media focus on the Eiffel Tower right now, they had escaped to the top of Notre Dame instead.

“They might expect us to make a statement to the media.”

Chat nodded. “Probably.”

Ladybug gazed at him. In the golden hour light of the setting sun, his skin glowed.

“I could let Alya interview us for her blog.”

Her partner hummed. “You could.”

“They might wonder where the son of Gabriel Agreste has gone off to.”

He opened his eyes and blinked lazily at her. “They might.”

Marinette smiled, sighed, and rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. She looked over the shining skyline and watched the glow of the clouds as it almost imperceptivity tinged pink.

“Somehow, I think I always knew it was you,” Adrien said quietly, his arm looping behind to wrap around her shoulder.

“How?”

He took a breath, thinking, his fingers rubbing lightly against her skin. “For so long I thought of Marinette and Ladybug as two separate people. But now, I can see all the things I missed.”

“Hmmm, like what?”

“Marinette’s creativity in fashion and art translates to Ladybug’s creative strategies and solutions in battle. Ladybug fights supervillains, and Marinette stands up to bullies at school. Marinette’s the most beautiful girl I know, and, yeah, Ladybug is also the most beautiful girl I know.”

She giggled. “I’ve had a crush on Adrien since he lent me his umbrella one day in collège.”

Chat smirked. “That was only my first day of school.”

“I know.”

“Wait, then does that mean…”

Marinette cringed. “It sounds so silly now, don’t say it.”

“You wouldn’t give me a chance as Chat because you had a crush on Adrien?”

She squirmed into his side, and he pulled her close.

“And I didn’t realize Marinette liked me because I was too fixated on Ladybug…”

Marinette groaned. “God, we were so stupid.”

Stupid-ly crazy about each other.”

She laughed, and it fell pure and golden into her lap. She held out her left hand, and he laced his right hand together with it. Curled up against his ribcage, she felt the beat of his heart against her cheek bone.

“Marinette?” He looked down at her, pulled his arm off her shoulder so she could face him.

“Yeah?” She said half breathlessly, sitting up so her eyes were level with his.

He gazed at her, taking in everything about her. The way the sun illuminated her freckles, the way her hair shone blue in the light, the way her eyes reflected so clear and blue he could swim in them for eternity.

He opened his mouth to speak, but she pressed a finger against his lips.

Voice soft as a summer’s breeze, she quelled any doubts he might have had. “I think you have the most beautiful eyes in the world.”

He reached up and took her hand, pulling her finger from his lips.

“I love you.”

Her smile shone brighter than the golden light bathing them.

“I love you, too.”

He dipped down and brushed his lips against hers.

She softened to the touch, tilting her chin to meet him.

The sunset that night was so dizzyingly beautiful, it graced magazine covers and flooded Instagram for months.

Ladybug and Chat Noir barely even noticed it.