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Love Square Drabbles and One-Shots 2019

Chapter Text

“Today’s the day, Nino,” Adrien shouted into his phone. “I’m going to finally ask Marinette out.”

His best friend chuckled. “Yeah, we’ll see about that. You can barely manage two words around her.”

A bit miffed but no less determined, he retorted, “Well, just wait and see.”

“Okay, dude. Whatever you say.” Nino clicked off.

Adrien continued, taking his time to dress as nice as he could. After all, he had a beautiful lady to impress.

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“Oh, Alya, today’s the day. I can feel it.” Marinette sighed, twirling in the middle of her room. “I’m going to finally confess how I feel.”

Alya glanced up from her magazine, a knowing smirk forming as she flipped the page. “Sure, you will, girl.”

Marinette stopped spinning to glare at her friend. “What? You don’t believe I can do it?”

“Well, you’ve been promising to confess for over a year now, M.” Alya straightened up, folding the magazine in her lap. “So, no, not really, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.”

“Well, prepare to be wrong today.” Marinette hurried to her vanity and debated the right lip gloss for her long-awaited confession. After all, she couldn’t be unprepared if he returned her feelings and possibly leaned in for a kiss.

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Mme Bustier called the class to order a bit later. “Everyone, we’re going to be partnering up for your next class assignment. Find a partner while I hand out your assignment sheets.”

Adrien turned to Nino and frowned as his best friend smiled at Alya, claiming her as a partner.

Nino answered his questioning look by waggling his brows and nodding at the raven-haired girl beside Alya. “Come on, dude. You said you were ready.”

His hand crept up to his neck as he dared a glance behind him, noting Marinette’s preoccupation with her paper. “Not like this, bro. I wanted to wait until after school.”

“Now or never, dude.” Nino stood and approached Marinette, going around their desk. He tapped her shoulder. “Hey, dudette, do you mind switching spots with me? I wanna partner with Alya on this one. You don’t mind, do you?”

She smiled, her lips stretching overly wide across her face. “Sure, no problem, Nino.”

Adrien smacked his forehead as he realized the setup his friend had just orchestrated.

If only his so-called friend had stopped it there, but he didn’t, adding, “Adrien could use a partner, Marinette, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with Chloe.”

“Oh.” Her lips formed a perfect ‘o’ as her eyes met his.

Yep, this was going great so far, he thought.

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Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. You can handle this. You can totally handle this, she whispered to herself as she moved to take Nino’s old seat.

Her hand grazed his by accident and she fought back a shriek.

She couldn’t handle this. Oh, what made her think she could handle this?

“Sorry,” he whispered, his cheeks flaming bright.

She wondered if hers would match, almost sure they did if she could go by the heat radiating from them.

“It-it’s o-okay.” She made sure her belongings stayed on her side, not daring to get close again and provoke another embarrassing reaction.

Mme Bustier dropped their sheet between them, a secret smile spreading across her lips as she moved on.

Marinette picked up the sheet and read their assignment, her embarrassment growing as she read the name of the book they’d be reading together. Or rather, the play they’d be reading.

Romeo and Juliet.

Oh, she definitely wouldn’t survive this, she thought, whimpering softly.

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Adrien frowned at the sheet, wondering what had gotten Marinette to turn so pale.

Romeo and Juliet? What was so wrong with that play?

He dared a glance back at Nino and caught Alya’s smirk. She winked at him as she said, “You should start with the balcony scene. After all, you both have the mutual pining part down pat.”

“Alya,” Marinette shrieked from her seat, earning a censoring glance from Mme Bustier.

Her cheeks grew impossibly redder as he stared in surprise. Why would she be upset about a balcony scene in this play? Mutual pining?

When Mme Bustier had returned to her seat, he leaned in close to Marinette, taking a deep breath for courage. “Mari, do you like me? I mean, like-like me?”

She refused to meet his gaze. Her cheeks looked close to combusting.

She finally gave him a single nod.

He leaned closer, dropping his voice further. “I like-like you, too.”

He’d never thought her eyes could be so wide as they met his.

He had to hide his surprise behind a cough as she asked, “Would you l-like to eat l-lunch with me?”

He grinned, nodding.

Today was definitely the day. He got his girl.

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Alya and Nino just stared at their friends, dumbfounded.

They might’ve mixed up their missions, but they’d accomplished them.

Yes, today had definitely been the day for them.

They couldn’t be happier for the oblivious yet adorable dorks in front of them.

Chapter Text

She didn’t know how long she sat there staring at the billboard with Adrien’s face plastered across it. She didn’t notice the weather dropping in temperature as she studied his face, her eyes narrowed in speculation.

But, she did know that something wasn’t right with him in that overly large photo. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but she could feel that something had been off that day.

If only she had the confidence to seek him out and ask him about it.

That would never happen though. She still had trouble forming more than a couple words at a time with him.

Staring at his image, she knew it would haunt her until she found out what had made him sad in that photo.

“Evening, Bugaboo,” Chat Noir called as he vaulted toward her.

She barely acknowledged his greeting as she remained lost in her thoughts.

When his hand touched her shoulder, she jumped, nearly tumbling from her position on the ledge she occupied.

“Wow, sorry about that, My Lady.” His hand retreated to his lap, his ears drooping a bit. His green eyes, usually so bright and alive, dimmed as he scooted a bit further from her. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

She grabbed his hand and tugged him closer. “You’re fine, Kitty. I was just thinking.”

Her gaze went back to the billboard, his following and widening in surprise. “You like Adrien Agreste or something?”

Her cheeks warmed at his question. She hadn’t thought to be so obvious with her partner, especially after he’d tried to confess his feelings to her. She didn’t want him to be jealous of something that might never happen, but she couldn’t encourage him, either. It wouldn’t be right or fair.

“He seems like a nice guy, you know?” She brushed her bangs aside, hoping he wouldn’t notice the blush surely blooming across her cheeks. “He’s helped me a couple times in the past.”

He didn’t say anything, almost as if he couldn’t quite comprehend what she’d confessed. After a moment, he whispered, “Do you really know him to like him though? He’s not exactly as perfect as those billboards make him out to be.”

She laughed at that. “Neither am I, Kitty. We’re all flawed in some way. I’ll have you know I’m incredibly clumsy.”

His hand shot up, resting against his chest in a dramatic fashion. “No! Tell me it isn’t so, My Lady. Tell me you’re not breaking my perfect vision of you.”

She nudged him, her shoulder touching his in a gesture that spoke of trust and friendship.

“I wish I knew him better, you know? There’s something about him that seems so sad and alone. I just want to help him in some small way.” Her gaze slid back to the billboard as she spoke, unaware of the way Chat’s body had stiffened in surprise at her words.

“What makes you think he’s sad and alone? He’s a famous model. He’s probably surrounded by people all the time.”

She noted the resentment in Chat’s tone, wondering what he could know of Adrien’s life. While she didn’t know much about Chat’s personal life, she felt certain his faired better than Adrien’s, or she hoped it did.

“Being surrounded by people doesn’t mean you’re not alone, Kitty,” she whispered. “That smile he’s wearing isn’t even real. It’s for the cameras. You can see it in his eyes. They’re lacking any real warmth, almost like he’s going through something. I can only imagine what it is he’s feeling, but I do know what it means to keep a part of yourself locked away. I just want the chance to put a real smile on his face.”

He didn’t speak again for a while.

She didn’t mind. She’d rather keep her thoughts from tumbling out and making it worse for him.

If he hadn’t realized her crush before, she felt sure he did then.

Oh, she felt so stupid. How could she give something so personal away to her partner? She needed to get out of there before she made it worse.

Pulling her yo-yo from her waist, she turned to murmur a soft farewell when his hand shot out and stopped her.

“Ask him out, My Lady. If you want to see a real smile on his face, then ask him out. Tomorrow as your civilian self.” His hand tightened a bit as he spoke. His body had tensed as his green gaze lit up brighter than she’d ever seen. “Do it as a favor to me, Bugaboo. Ask him out.”

She shook her head, sure she hadn’t heard him correctly. “You’re joking, right? I can’t just go up to him and ask him out. He’ll think I’m crazy or something.”

“He won’t.”

“How can you possibly know that, Chat? What if he laughs in my face? What if I fall on my face?” Her hands crept up to cover her cheeks, not wanting to see him laughing at her. She wished she was being dramatic, but she knew those could easily happen. They were talking about her after all.

“Believe me, My Lady, he won’t laugh at you for asking him out. I think he might even be delighted that you care so much about him.” Chat smiled down at her, his eyes softening as they gazed at her. “If I was him, I’d think I was the luckiest person in the world.”

Her hands returned to her lap, slipping from her cheeks in slow motion. She stared at him, wondering where her teasing partner had gone.

Finding her voice, she whispered, “Thank you, Kitty. I’ll think about it.”

She picked up her yo-yo once more and sent it flying. Before she took off, she leaned over and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “You’re the best partner a Lady could ever ask for.”

He smiled, a faint blush peeking from beneath his mask. “Good night, Bugaboo.”

Chapter Text

The appearance of the new characters on her hand didn’t help her mood one bit, her hand clenching to hide them. She fought the urge to pull her phone from her purse and pull up the instant messaging app she used. She had some yelling to do.

But, she couldn’t very well explain to her teacher what her soulmate had done and why it was such a problem, now could she?

It would be too mortifying, especially when her crush sat in front of her. A crush that had been practicing Mandarin for years. She couldn’t handle if he read something embarrassing on her hand her soulmate had written.

No, she’d have to wait until lunch to send her message, hoping she’d have some time hide the evidence from her mother. The last time he’d written some characters on her hand, her mother had nearly fainted from the bad words she’d read there.

She couldn’t handle another lecture from her mother about how inappropriate those words were, especially since she’d taken the fall. It wouldn’t do having her mother dislike him (she’d ruled out a her a couple years ago) when they hadn’t even met yet.

The bell rang a few minutes later, much to her immeasurable relief.

She rushed out of the classroom, nodding her farewells to Alya and the guys as she passed them.

She’d made it to the corner before she brought her phone out, typing away at the keyboard.

Coccinelle: You’ve been warned, Kitty, about writing on your hand. You know I’m going to pay you back for this.

Her phone chimed a moment later.

ChatNoir: I’m sorry, Bugaboo, but I swear it’s nothing bad this time. I just wanted to remember them for something I’m working on.

She shoved the door to her parents’ bakery open, her hands typing fast.

Coccinelle: You better not be pulling my leg. So help me, Kitty, if my maman sees it and freaks out on me.

ChatNoir: Actually, can you show her? You said she speaks Mandarin. Can she make sure I have it right? Please, Bug. Purrty please.

Coccinelle: You’re so annoying.

She paused, taking in the quiet of the bakery.

Coccinelle: You better not make me regret this.

“Maman, can you check this for me? I’m working on a project. I need to make sure this is the correct translation.” She walked over to her mother and held up her hand.

Sabine read the characters quickly, beaming. Her eyes lit up as though Christmas came early. “You’re learning Mandarin! Oh, dear, that’s so wonderful.”

She was ushered toward an empty seat as her mother inspected the characters closer. “These need to be switched, but yes, it’s a great job, Marinette. I’m so proud of you.”

She squeaked as her mother hugged her tight. “Thank you, Maman. I’m doing my best.”

As she stood up, she picked up her phone and hurried toward the back door, wanting to eat her lunch quickly and make good on her earlier threat to her naughty soulmate.

Her mother’s voice stopped her. “Oh, and Marinette? Let your soulmate know that I better not see those characters I saw a year ago. Those are not proper words for young people to know.”

Blushing, she whispered, “Yes, Maman.”

How did her mother do that?

She took the steps two at a time, racing to their small apartment and dropping her purse and bag inside the doorway.

Pulling up her app, she typed while grabbing the meal her mother had prepped earlier that day.

Coccinelle: Maman says you should switch it like this.

Grabbing up a pen, she moved around the few characters, writing the new placement on her wrist for easier viewing.

ChatNoir: You are the best! Thank you, My Lady.

She grinned, staring at the permanent marker in her hand. While she hadn’t meant to make that first message permanent, it sparked an entirely new idea she couldn’t wait to implement, rolling up her sleeve.

Ten minutes later, she recapped her pen and hurried up the stairs to her room. She’d need to change if she wanted to make her plan work.

After all, she was fairly certain her soulmate went to her school though she’d asked they remain anonymous when they’d first discovered their link. She’d been so shy back then, worried she might not be good enough. Now, she wanted to know, crush or no crush.

She dashed back to school, making it to her seat as the bell rung its first warning.

Her phone chimed at the same time.

ChatNoir: This is permanent marker. That’s not right, Bug. My father isn’t going to be happy.

Coccinelle: Well, that’s what you get for writing on your hand, Kitty. Besides, I know the secret to removing it.

She glanced up, hearing her friends’ voices enter the room.

The marking on Adrien’s wrist had her dropping her phone.

She recognized those markings. They matched the ones on her wrist.

She couldn’t breathe. She didn’t dare as he moved closer, the design she’d made on her upper arm peeking out from under his shirt sleeve.

He turned to greet her, stilling as he caught sight of her new shirt and the permanent marker on her bicep.

“I can ex-explain,” she said, standing up.

He didn’t give her the chance, dashing up the few steps and wrapping his arms around her. “Do you know how long I’ve liked you, Marinette? Do you know how long I’ve wished you to be my soulmate? Oh, I’ve found you. I’ve found you.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on, fighting back tears of joy as she nuzzled into his neck. She didn’t care that everyone stared at them. She only cared that she found her soulmate. Learning he was her crush, too, proved all too sweet.

After a moment, he leaned in to whisper, “Now about that secret cleanser for permanent marker?”

Chapter Text

“Come on, Tikki. Just a little hint if I’m right,” Marinette pleaded, her hands clasped in front of her. “I’m like 99% sure Adrien is Chat, but I know you know who he is. Can you please, please, please tell me?”

Tikki blinked up at her chosen a moment before closing her eyes and shaking her head.

Marinette slumped against her chair, disbelieving she couldn’t get the confirmation she needed that her beloved partner and favorite cat superhero was Adrien Agreste.

She didn’t have any hard evidence in truth, just a series of coincidences that had added up over time. Tardies or even complete absences from school at the same times she and Chat fought an akuma. A few similar puns they’d both told her over the past year or so. Their similar body shape and hair color. Sure, Chat’s was a bit messier, but she’s seen Adrien on a few bad hair days to see the similarity between them.

There were other instances, too. More than she could possibly name in the next few minutes as she made her next decision.

“Hey, Tikki, I think we should start patrol a little earlier tonight. What do you say? That last akuma might’ve spooked people more than the ones in the past.” She stood up, daring a glance at her kwami and seeing Tikki’s approval written in the open smile.

One point for winning this round. Now, she just needed to keep her cool until she transformed and headed toward a certain mansion a few blocks away.

A minute later, she leaped through her window and sprung from her balcony, flying across the skyline of Paris toward said mansion.

The brightly lit room brought a smile to her face as she stopped on the rooftop across the way. A brief glimpse widened that smile as she caught her crush sitting at his computer, perusing a familiar website.

Swinging across the street, she gripped the windowsill and tapped on the glass, making sure her smile didn’t falter as she waited for him to notice her.

It didn’t take him long.

He rushed across the vast room, pushing aside the window to allow her entrance. “What brings you out tonight, Ladybug?”

“Just a normal patrol,” she said, dropping into his room and walking toward his computer. The Ladyblog, huh? She thought she recognized the site from her previous perch. “But, I thought I’d checked on one of my favorite citizens before I started. So, what’ve you been up to?”

He hurried back to his computer, shutting down the screens as a faint reddish tint bloomed on his cheeks. “Just checking out the latest on a friend’s blog. Nothing too big.”

“Hmm, I see the Ladyblog is still going strong. Any interesting posts lately about me?” She swiveled to rest against his desk, her smile growing a bit cheeky as she caught his blush darkening.

Interesting.

“Yes. No! I mean, you’re always interesting. I mean, the blog is interesting. Not that you aren’t interesting, but…” He drifted off, his hand coming to rub at his nape. His blush looked almost cherry.

She wondered briefly if his cheeks would be hot to the touch, deciding they might with how bright they appeared.

He couldn’t look more adorable.

“Well, tell me about the latest. After all, I hear you’re my biggest fan, right?” She pushed away from his desk, walking closer to him. She smiled as he backed away, only stopping when he ran into his foosball table. “What’s wrong, Adrien? You’re not usually so shy around me, are you? I mean, it’s not like a cat has your tongue or anything, right?”

He froze as her words washed over him, his eyes going a darker green than she’d ever seen before they brightened. His lips curved into a grin she knew all too well, already backing up as the tables turned, and he advanced on her.

“What’s the matter, Ladybug? Did you find that curiosity might kill more than a cat? Perhaps the bug isn’t as immune to curiosity as she pretends to be, huh?” He maneuvered her back to his desk.

She squeaked as she dropped into his chair.

He didn’t give her any time as he spun her around to face his computer, turning the monitors on once more. “So, Bugaboo, you’ve discovered my secret? Pray tell how you managed to do that, my amazing and brilliant Lady.”

Oh, this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. How had he managed to get the drop on her? She couldn’t let him win, not if she wanted to keep her reveal on her terms.

A thought came to her, her hand going for his mouse and scrolling through the Ladyblog until she found the video Alya had shown her a month ago.

Adrien’s eyes widened at seeing it. He took a step back as he saw his superhero ego on the screens, screaming while being thrown high into the air by an akuma. His screams had died when she’d caught him bridal-style, a wide and cheeky grin replacing them in the next photo captured by the Ladyblogger herself.

“So, Chaton, you think you’re still going to win this one?” She spun around and leaned the chair back, her fingers lacing in front of her. “It seems that you’re quite happy being caught by me, huh? It doesn’t even matter if you’re in or out of your suit. Does that mean that you might have a crush on me, pretty Chat?”

He opened his mouth to answer but snapped it shut as he met her triumphant gaze. When he spoke, he surprised her by saying, “You think I’m pretty?”

Shoot, she silently shouted. He’d gotten one on her again? This couldn’t be happening.

Not about to lose to him after finding him all this time, she leaped from the chair and marched up to him. She put her hands on his shoulders and used them to balance as she lifted up to place a kiss on his cheek, right at the corner of his mouth.

“What do you think, Chaton?” She blinked as she realized what she’d done a moment later.

His hands came around her waist and pulled her closer, his lips moving within an inch of hers before he whispered, “I think I’d really like to know who I’m kissing under this mask.”

“Kissing, huh?” She arched a brow at him, challenge in her eyes though they closed a minute later.

He sealed their lips together in the sweetest kiss she could ever recall them sharing. It certainly ranked far better than the one she’d given to save him during Dark Cupid’s little reign of terror on the city.

He pulled back sooner than she would’ve liked, his eyes still closed.

Not wasting her opportunity, she whispered, “Keep them closed, Chaton.”

He nodded, his eyes squeezing tighter together.

She whispered the words to drop her transformation, lifting herself again to initiate the kiss this time. She had to admit it was far nicer kissing him out of her suit than in, but that first kiss would always remain special.

When she pulled back, she smiled as he peeked his eyes open.

They widened for only a moment before his arms wrapped around her and spun her in circles around his room.

She giggled at his antics, grateful she’d been more than right in knowing her partner and best friend. Her arms went around his neck as he continued to spin her, gaining every last giggle he could from her.

Maybe he’d been onto something long ago when he said his curiosity would always be cured by his satisfaction of knowing.

Hers certainly had.

Chapter Text

She tapped her stylus against the desk, her gaze glued to the blond in front of her.

Two minutes before the bell.

She cursed herself for agreeing to Chat’s request the night before. What had she been thinking? She couldn’t ask Adrien out. He’d never hinted he saw her as anything more than a friend. What if he turned her down? She couldn’t handle him thanking her but not being interested.

Oh, this isn’t going to work, she silently cried.

Or at least she thought she did.

“What’s up with you, girl? What’s not going to work?” Alya asked beside her, her brows furrowed.

“Nothing.” Marinette straightened up and put her stylus down, hoping she might convince Alya to drop the matter. “Just thinking about a design I drew last night. I don’t think it’ll work as I’d hoped.”

“Ah, okay.” Her best friend returned to her tablet, working on the latest bit of reading they’d been assigned.

A glance at the clock showed a minute left until the bell.

She could do this. She had to do this. She couldn’t keep chickening out, not after pining after Adrien for the past year.

Besides, Chat would never let her live it down if she didn’t.

The bell rang.

Now or never, she supposed, grabbing up her bag and moving into the aisle.

“Hey, Adrien, c-can I t-talk to you?” She applauded herself for keeping her words in the correct order. Maybe she could do this after all.

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The day couldn’t have gone slower for Adrien, his attention focused on the slowly ticking clock above him.

Did he really push Ladybug to seek him out? What had he been thinking?

Well, he knew what he’d been thinking, but why didn’t he realize how nerve-wracking this whole ordeal would be for him? What about her? Was she nervous to approach him? Surely not. She was Ladybug. She was amazing and brave. No way she’d be scared to talk to him.

Right?

“Dude, what’s up?” Nino’s hand stilled the blond’s bouncing knee. “You’re about to skyrocket if you don’t stop.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled, his gaze going to the clock once more.

“Something with your dad? You in trouble again?” Nino offered him a teasing smile.

Shaking his head, Adrien did his best to calm down. He couldn’t very well tell his friend what had him so tense. That would bring on too many questions. Questions he couldn’t answer without causing more and risking Ladybug’s righteous anger at him.

When the bell rang, he couldn’t quite hide the disappointment at not meeting Ladybug in her civilian form. He’d finally know who she was, and best of all, she liked at least a part of himself.

When Marinette approached him, he couldn’t keep his smile from blooming as she asked to speak with him. It was nice to hear her speaking in an almost natural voice with him. Not that he didn’t find her stuttering adorable, but he liked when she treated him like she did the others in their class. It made him almost believe they could be closer friends, something he really wanted. After all, she was an amazing person, almost as amazing as his beloved Lady.

“Sure, Marinette.” He followed her to the corner of the classroom, ignoring the glare Chloe sent their way. “What’s up?”

The blush that suffused her cheeks had him a bit concerned, the words she spoke too low for him to make out.

He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Hey, slow down, Mari. I didn’t quite catch that.”

“S-sorry.” She covered her face with her hands, taking several shuddering breaths. Words spilled from her lips, none of them making a bit of sense to him. When she finally looked at him again, she sighed, dropping her hands to her side. “Would you date me consider? I mean, me consider you date. Oh, no, ugh. Would you go on a date with me?”

She practically shouted the last part at him, surprising with the fierce determination glowing in her eyes.

As her question finally sank in, he looked down at her, wondering how he should answer. He had no idea what to say, he realized, having thought only about Ladybug for the past day and her possibly asking him out.

Now, he stood there with one of his friends, the words he most wanted to hear from his Lady pouring past Marinette’s lips.

She was so sweet and amazing. She went out of her way to make others feel better. She’d given him a lucky charm to help him play video games. She went above and beyond when it came to her duties as class president. She created the coolest designs, having loved the hat she’d made for his father’s contest. Well, he appreciated it more after they replaced the real feathers with fake ones.

Any guy would be thrilled to have her interested in him.

“Marinette, I—”

She cut him off, her head shaking as she mumbled to herself once more.

He thought he made out the words stupid and Kitty, but he couldn’t be sure as she returned her attention to him once more.

“Look, it’s okay if you say no. I think. I just really like you, Adrien, and I’ve been dying to learn more about you. Maybe even make you smile more.” Slapping her forehead, she paused, her eyes leaving him as she glanced around. “You know what? Forget I asked, okay? We can stay friends, or at least I hope so.”

Something about wanting to make him smile niggled at his memory. Something about it brought Ladybug to mind. She’d wanted to do the same for him, believing he didn’t smile nearly often enough. She just wanted to make him happy.

Marinette wanted the same thing, it seemed.

The proverbial light bulb lit over his head, almost knocking him down.

He persevered though, grabbing her hand and pulling her back. He couldn’t very well let her walk away, not when he knew who she was.

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Marinette hadn’t a clue what had come over Adrien as he tugged her to his side, his arm going around her waist.

“A-Adrien, what a-are you doing?”

He didn’t answer right away, merely pulling her closer, so he could wrap his other arm around her and hugged her tight.

She thought she heard him mumble, “Of course, it’s you. How blind I am?”

“What’s going on?” Her hands remained at her side, almost afraid this was a dream.

“Yes, Marinette, I would love to go out with you.” He pressed a kiss to her cheek, allowing her the chance to pull back a bit. “You tell me when and where. I’ll come with bells jingling.”

Not quite sure she wasn’t dreaming, she found herself asking, “Really?”

He chuckled at that. “Yeah, really. How about tonight if you’re free? I have a great story to tell you.”

Chapter Text

Sitting next to her long-time crush and apparent soulmate proved a surreal experience for her. She kept pinching herself to ensure she hadn’t dreamt the entire thing.

Alya and Nino kept peeking back at them, checking to see how she was handling everything.

That’s what she assumed anyway.

Adrien had taken everything in stride, more than happy to sit beside her after gaining her promise to remove the ink from her arm after class. She’d even agreed to show him her secret cleanser, so he could do the same in the future.

“Hey, you okay?” He leaned close to her, his smile bright and his eyes warm. “The bell rang like five minutes ago, and we’re still sitting here.”

She blushed deep upon learning she’d kept them.

She hurried to pick up her bag, nearly tripping over her feet and tumbling down the stairs.

Adrien’s hand on her arm kept her from doing just that. His fingers slid down until he could lace them with hers, smiling as he came to stand beside her. He took her bag from her and gestured for her to lead the way.

“Are you real?” she blurted, her blush growing warmer against her cheeks.

He chuckled. “I’ve been watching a lot of anime the past few years, waiting for this moment.”

A little surprised by his confession, she leaned into him, stepping toward the doorway and into the warmth waiting for them outside.

They neared the light before he spoke again. “Hey, Mari, does this mean we have to stop using our anonymous personas? I kinda liked being ChatNoir.”

She thought about it for a moment, shaking her head. “No, we can keep it. I like it, too. Something only we share, no one else.”

He smiled. “Exactly.”

The light changed, and they hurried across, coming to a stop when they reached the door to the bakery.

“So, you ready to officially meet my parents as my soulmate?” She pulled the door and offered him her best smile. “Because there’s no backing out now.”

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He didn’t know quite what to expect as he entered the bakery. It wasn’t like he hadn’t visited in the time he’d known Marinette, but today proved so different from those past visits.

He barely had time to adjust before he heard Marinette greeting her mother.

“Maman, guess what happened today.” She practically squealed with delight as she spoke, putting a smile on his lips. She couldn’t get any cuter, could she? He didn’t think he’d survive if she did.

Sabine stalled her daughter by giving him a warm smile. “Hello, Adrien, dear. How are you doing?”

“I’m good, Mme Cheng.” He couldn’t quite meet her eyes, unsure why until a bout of nerves overtook him. He resisted bringing his hand to his nape, knowing the tell would only make it more obvious. “And you?”

“Sabine, dear. From the looks of things, I’d say you’ll be spending more time here.” She nodded at the matching temporary tattoos they bore. “I see you’ve finally discovered what Tom and I suspected for a while.”

“You did not!” Marinette shouted. “How could you know he was my soulmate?”

“Marinette, dear, there are customers,” she admonished, her smile still gracing her features.

His soulmate had the grace to look abashed at her loudness, dropping her voice to ask, “How did you know?”

Sabine merely smiled. “A mother just knows, dear.”

He and Marinette stepped aside as a customer approached. He smiled, catching Marinette’s slight pout at her mother’s vague words. He could only imagine how Sabine had managed to figure it out. He’d lost count of the times his father had reprimanded him over the years, smudges marring his pristine hands. He couldn’t exactly tell his father that his soulmate liked to draw, but it’d been the reason he sought her out.

“It doesn’t matter, does it, Mari? She seems happy, right?” He leaned close, so other customers wouldn’t overhear.

Her pout disappeared a moment later. “I guess you’re right. I just never can keep a secret with my parents, I guess. It would’ve been nice to surprise them though.”

Daring to press a kiss to her cheek, he offered her a small smile. “We’ll figure out a way to surprise another way.”

She nodded, her face crinkling in happiness. “So, you’re planning on sticking around, huh?”

Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her closer. “I have no intention of going anywhere. You’re stuck with this tomcat.”

She giggled at that. “I can live with that.”

Having finished with her customer, Sabine turned back to them with a smile. In a surprising yet welcome move, she addressed him in perfect Mandarin, saying, “Now, young man, I think we should have a talk about those words you learned a year ago.”

He blushed, recalling which words she meant. “I apologize. They will never be used. I had no idea what they were at the time, but I know better now. Mari wouldn’t speak to me for a week after that happened.”

Sabine studied him for a moment before she nodded. “That’s good to hear, dear. Now, run along and grab yourselves a snack. I put out a fresh supply of fruits and veggies earlier.”

He thanked her, taking Marinette’s hand and walking with her toward the small apartment above the bakery.

“What did Maman say to you earlier?” she asked, nibbling on an apple she grabbed.

He smiled. “She reminded me what a true gentleman was.”

At her confused look, he chuckled, adding, “She gave me a lecture on writing naughty words on my hand.”

“You going to tell me what they were or am I forever going to be left in the dark?” She pulled him toward her room, pushing the trapdoor open and pointing at her computer. “Mega Strike?”

He nodded. He picked up a controller and picked the black cat bot, smiling as she selected her trusty ladybug one. After a moment, he confessed, “If you really want to know, I’m going to need an anatomy book since I swore I’d never say them again.”

She blushed as the implication hit her. “You know what? I don’t need to know after all.”

She queued up their battle and proceeded to throttle him over the next few hours.

He couldn’t imagine a better afternoon than the one they shared that day.

Chapter Text

She pinched herself for the umpteenth time, her skin a bright pink from the abuse. She bit back a small cry, the spot smarting from her anxiety. She couldn’t believe this moment was happening, sitting at the café table and waiting for Adrien to arrive.

She’d decided to walk to the café and meet him there, wanting the time to compose herself as best she could. She couldn’t believe he’d practically begged her to go out with him after she’d bungled her question. She hadn’t been able to turn him down when he’d given her a familiar pout that nagged at her hours later.

Her parents had been as excited as she’d been at the date she’d managed to gain with Adrien, promising all sorts of baked treats for the pair. She’d turned them down, not wanting them to scare the poor model away when she’d finally gotten this far with him.

A limo pulled up during her wayward thoughts.

She wouldn’t have even noticed if a tan hand hadn’t waved in front of her face moments later, startling her from her thoughts. Warm green eyes met hers with a shadow of concern flitting through them.

“Didn’t mean to startle you, Marinette.” He hesitated in taking the chair across from her. His hand fiddling with the ring on his finger, twisting it in a gesture she thought beyond endearing.

She motioned him to sit, giving him her best smile. “No startle me. I mean, me not startled. Ugh, you didn’t startle me. Just lost in thought.”

“Good ones, I hope.” He took his seat, a small smile curving his lips as he took in the cup of tea she’d ordered as she waited. “You look amazing, by the way, but then, you always do.”

“Th-thank you.” She dropped her face, not wanting him to see the fiery blush bursting over her cheeks. “You look good, too. I mean, you’re a model so you always look good, but you look nice. Not that I mean anything bad, but oh, I’m shutting up now.”

His hand snaked across the table, seeking her own.

She offered it without question, her gaze sneaking upward and catching the soft smile gracing his features then. She hadn’t seen such an expression from him before, but she recalled seeing such an expression on another.

She shook her head, pushing thoughts of her partner away as she worked to focus on the blond across from her.

His hand tightened on hers for a moment. “Would you care to walk with me as I tell you that story I promised earlier? The Seine can be quite nice this time of day. We won’t go far, either, if you don’t want.”

“That sounds nice.”

His smile lit a bit brighter. “Great. Let me grab something to go. Then, we can be on our way. Would you like another tea?”

“That would be great, but I can get it. You don’t have to pay for me, Adrien.” She reached for her small purse, intent on splitting the cost of their date.

He stilled her movements with his other hand, the silver ring gleaming in the fading sunlight. “Please, allow me, Marinette. It’s our first date after all, and my mother raised me to be a gentleman.”

She hesitated but gave in, catching the earnest expression in his countenance. She nodded, watching his smile come back and bloom, lighting up his entire face with pleasure. She really did like seeing him happy.

He returned in minutes, taking her hand in his after handing over her tea. “Shall we?”

She smiled, her fingers lacing with his as they walked along the Seine’s edge.

The silence lasted several minutes, but she didn’t mind. His presence beside her soothed her nerves the longer they walked, easing the tension she’d built up over the past few hours. Well, that and the tea he’d gotten her.

After they’d gone a block, she broke the silence. “So, you have a story to tell me?”

The smile he sent her looked almost shy, his eyes glowing their summer green before he glanced away. “Yeah, I do. I hope you won’t be too mad at me after you hear it.”

Before she could ask why, he pushed on. “I never thought we’d learn our secrets this way. I honestly didn’t, but I can’t say that I’m sorry it happened like this, My Lady.”

“What are you—” She stopped, her words dropping as his pet name hit her. My Lady? He’d called her My Lady! No one called her My Lady except Chat Noir.

She looked at him then, seeing the sheepish smile and pleading eyes staring back at her. She halted their small progress as she mentally shed him of his attire and replaced it with Chat Noir’s suit. She gasped as she pictured him with the mask and some tussled locks.

It couldn’t be possible. It shouldn’t be possible.

Yet she couldn’t deny the truth as it stared her in the face.

“Did she figure it out?” a small voice asked from Adrien’s pocket.

“Plagg, not now.” The blond’s words sounded like a hiss.

If she’d had any doubts before, they’d been obliterated, seeing the little kwami popping out of Adrien’s shirt and staring at her with wide green eyes. She managed to smile at Plagg and wave before he dove back into his hideaway, grumbling about chosens and oblivious idiots.

She couldn’t quite hold back her giggle. Adrien’s angry expression spurred more to escape despite her best efforts to stop them. Clapping her hand over her mouth, she did her best to apologize, only to have more escape as he raised an impish expression at her.

“I can’t believe you would laugh at me. You can’t know what it’s like living with him sometimes.” His arm draped over his thrown-back head, a dramatic sigh escaping his lips.

Her giggles morphed into full laughter, her arms crossing over her stomach as she shook.

“Poor Chaton, you’re just so mistreated, aren’t you?” She moved closer to him, wonderment filling her at the easy acceptance of the knowledge she’d gained.

She supposed she should be angry, but she wasn’t. She felt a relief she hadn’t expected to feel, realizing they wouldn’t have to hide from one another any longer. They weren’t out of danger by any means, but that didn’t mean learning their identities had to be all bad, did it?

Another thought came to her, one that sobered her. Her sneaky partner had played her well with his request she seek Adrien out and ask for a date. He’d had insider information and used it to his advantage.

He must’ve sensed the change within her because he stopped walking and turned to face her. “You’re mad, aren’t you? I am sorry, My Lady, that I forced you to reveal yourself, but I’m not sorry I know who you are. I’ll never be sorry for that.”

She didn’t answer right away, taking her time and making him squirm a bit. She found she liked making him squirm, watching as he wiggled anxiously. He reminded her so much of his superhero side she couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen it before. It was obvious, staring at him.

“Well, I was going to take you back to the bakery, but I think you’re off-limits for the next week, Chaton.” She glanced down at her hand, inspecting her nails for a moment. When she dared a peek, she caught the question in his gaze. Biting back a smile, she continued. “It’s too bad, too. My parents had planned a veritable feast of baked goods to celebrate us dating.”

“Come on, Mari, don’t be so cruel to me. You know how amazing your parents’ croissants are. You can’t mean it. Please, say you don’t mean it.” He fell to his knees before her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his cheek against her middle. “Please, I promise this alley cat can behave. Please, please, purrty purr-lease?”

The drama proved too much as she let loose with more giggles.

“I can’t believe you’re the same person, you know that? I’ve never seen this side of you before.” She swiped at the tears that leaked with her laughter, her cheeks warm from her jubilant exertion. Sobering a bit, she smiled down at him. “It’s nice to see you so silly, so carefree, Adrien.”

He stiffened as if recalling he wasn’t dressed as his superhero self, his eyes darting at the few amused passersby as they strolled past the still couple.

“I’ll forgive you, Chaton,” she whispered, leaning close to his ear and bringing his attention back to her, “if you promise you’ll spend every waking moment with me, figuring out how we’re going to take down Hawk Moth. Now that we know who we are, I fear it won’t be hard for him to figure it out, too. I don’t want him coming after those I love.”

Adrien raised his head so their eyes met, his mouth opening to speak.

She didn’t give him the chance as she added, “That includes you if you’re wondering.”

The smile he gave her made the confession worth it. It lit up his entire face with its radiance, reminding her of the very sunshine Alya teased him of being. At that moment, he could rival the giant star with how he shone.

She’d gotten her wish. She’d made him smile, truly smile, and she couldn’t imagine not doing it again. And again. For as long as he’d let her.

Chapter Text

Ladybug crouched high over the streets of Paris, hiding in the shadows as passersby stopped and watched the latest developments on the news that evening. A smile touched her lips as several gasped at the video displayed before them, disbelief clear in their stances.

Ladybug and Chat Noir had blown up at each other. The loud argument had been heard by several large groups of bystanders. Many had pulled out their phones to record the scene they witnessed from below.

Ladybug had been interested in only one reporter or rather blogger and her infamous camera phone. Once Alya had been spotted, the true act had begun.

“I hate you, Chat Noir. You’re the most pathetic partner I’ve ever worked with. How dare you consider the option of siding with Hawk Moth! What makes you think he won’t betray you? He’s a supervillain.” Her feet had brought her close to her partner, her finger jabbing his chest in the most convincing manner.

Unknown to those below, she mumbled low, “I hope you’re right. Do you believe we’ll get him to let down his guard by parting ways like this?”

“Trust me, My Lady. I’m more than sure of it.” His green eyes had flashed as he stalked away from her, his face transforming into a rather convincing sneer. In a louder voice, he declared, “Hate me all you want, but I’m the best partner you’ve ever had. You just didn’t appreciate me when you had the chance. It’s your loss, Bugaboo.”

“Stupid cat, you think he’ll treat you any better? I’ve got news for you, Chaton. You’re nothing but a lackey. Hawk Moth knows it and will only use you as you say I have. Except, he won’t be nearly as lenient when you fail to do your duty. Not like I’ve been, putting up with your pathetic screwups all these years.” She fought back the cringe she felt at saying such horrible words at her partner. Her gaze met his, hoping he saw how much she didn’t mean them. She didn’t think she’d ever forgive herself if he did.

He shot her a tiny smile, his eyes flashing once more with understanding.

They’d said a few other nasty things at each other before parting ways, leaving their perch and going in opposite directions.

Ladybug had ensured the Ladyblogger had gotten everything, zipping over the crowd and glancing down in time to see Alya adding her own commentary before posting. With a small smile, she continued her escape from the supposedly horrid scene they’d created, landing on the rooftop where she watched the events unfolding below.

“You were quite convincing, My Lady,” Chat whispered behind her, his hand resting on her hip. “If I’m right, we’ll be hearing from Hawk Moth soon enough.”

“Will you tell me who he is now or am I staying in the dark?” She turned her head to face him, her lower lip catching between her teeth.

Chat’s free hand moved to free her reddening lip, his smile soft. “I promise to tell you soon, My Lady, but I need a bit more time to prepare. Trust me?”

“Always, Chaton.” She leaned into him, her head nestling into the crook of his shoulder. “Always.”

He didn’t say anything for some time, content to hold her as they continued to survey the reactions of the citizens below them.

“I hope they won’t be too angry with us for this ruse,” she whispered, breaking the silence. “But, I’m ready to bring Hawk Moth down and allow the city to heal. Paris deserves some peace after all he’s done.”

“Wise words, My Lady.” He brushed a kiss over her temple. “I wonder if they’ll forgive his son for not knowing sooner.”

“Son? Hawk Moth has a son?” Pulling out of his arms, she swiveled on her heel to face him, his green eyes bright in the darkness. “You do know then. You’re actually certain. Tell me, Chat. Let me help. You don’t have to bear this burden alone nor does his son. I can help.”

“I know. He does, too, but he’s not ready for you to know yet.” He offered her a small grin as he whispered, “Believe it or not, he admires you and is afraid you’ll think less of him for being so blind, so stupid.”

She didn’t know how to respond to that, not sure she even comprehended the reasoning for such secrecy. She’d never blame anyone for something someone else did. She didn’t even blame the victims Hawk Moth had manipulated over the years.

She hated not knowing, but she also trusted Chat to keep this guy safe. It didn’t stop her from asking to be sure.

“He’s safe, My Lady. He’s already worked through the safety measures I’ve given him. I promise he won’t be harmed when we take down his father.” He reached for her in the darkness of their small sanctuary, his hand covering hers. “You’re a wonderful partner and an even better friend.”

“So are you, Chaton. I’m lucky to have you beside me.” Her hand slipped along his so their fingers laced together. She tightened her hold on him for a moment. “Whatever happens, I hope you know how much I love you. I could never hate you.”

Moving closer, she rose on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his surprised lips, their noses brushing before she pulled back.

Or, at least she tried to, but Chat had other ideas, pulling her closer and whispering, “I love you, too, Ladybug.”

His lips captured her in a kiss that would remain with her long after they parted that evening. It remained long after they took down Hawk Moth and she discovered the man behind the akumas.

It might’ve been tested when she learned her sweet Chaton was also her classmate and son of Hawk Moth, but she’d kept her promise. She never did hate him.

In fact, she loved him more.  

Chapter Text

Amuse Me

“Hey, Kitty, what’s up? Your message sounded serious.” Ladybug touched down on the roof beside her partner, her hand holding out the small bag of baked goods for him.

He smiled though it didn’t light up his eyes as it normally did. “Just a bad day. I was hoping you could cheer me up.”

His ears drooped and his tail hung lifeless behind him. His eyes dropped to his hands and the small bag he’d taken from her. His smile disappeared, his shoulders slumping.

Not wasting a moment, she whispered, “You wanna tell me what’s bugging you or just straight to my bag of pawsome puns?”

His mouth quirked at that. “I thought I called dibs on cat puns, being a cat after all.”

“It’s not my fault I’m clawsome at them. Dibs don’t count right now. Got it, Kitty?” She nudged his shoulder, motioning toward a chimney behind them. She sank next to him, her hand going for the small pastry he held out for her. “Now, this just hits the spot, don’t you think? What’s more purrfect than good company and baked goods?”

His mouth quirked a bit more. “Nothing I can think of, My Lady.”

She doubted that, but she remained silent for the moment.

“There’s a firework show with that concert this weekend? Wanna go? It’s sure to rock out with a few bangs along the way.” She kept her gaze on her hands, not wanting to see his surprise at the implication of her question.

“Is this a pity thing, My Lady?” He scooted a bit further from her. “I really don’t want pity. I’ll be fine.”

“Not pity, Chat. I’m pawful at this, but I’m asking you on a date. A real one. You and me. What do you say?” Her gaze met his then, her eyes shining with sincerity. Her teeth worried her bottom lip, waiting for his response. “Do you need me to butter you up more or am I fudging this too much already? Do you knead more confection about how sweet I am for you?”

His smile bloomed. “Are you saying you Dove me?”

Shaking her head, she pressed close enough to place a kiss on his cheek. “What do you think, Kitty?”

“I think I need more confection as you put it. How much do you Dove this alley cat?” His arm wove around her waist, his mood lightening more.

“More than you can pawssibly imagine, Kitty.”

Chapter Text

Catalyst held Ladybug captive, a small dagger at her throat. A thin trail of blood slid from a thin nick.

“Let her go,” Chat pleaded, his baton slipping from his fingers. He watched the blood soak into her red suit, his throat clogging from the growing lump there.

“Give me your Miraculous and I’ll consider it.” Catalyst’s smile widened, triumph flaring in her eyes.

Ladybug struggled in the akuma’s hold, hissing as the dagger nicked her again. “Don’t do it, Chat.”

His gaze bounced between his partner and his ring, his mind and heart torn. He wanted to save her, had to save her, but Catalyst had the upper hand. He didn’t have Ladybug’s ability to think through these situations.

“Chat, look at me,” Ladybug demanded.

He did.

“Fight, Chat. Don’t give up yet. We can still win this.” She groaned, the dagger digging into her neck and creating another nick.

“Win? Such foolish hope, Ladybug. You’ve lost.” Catalyst turned toward him, her smile full of malice. “Give me your ring now or your precious Lady dies.”

He met his partner’s gaze, his hand twisting his ring. Her eyes widened. Her mouth opened to speak, but it proved too late.

A sharp pain hit his side. He looked back to see Hawk Moth behind him. The villain’s blade had slid between his ribs without hesitation or resistance.

“I’ll be taking that.” Hawk Moth’s hand closed around his ring and slid it off.

The magic washed away from him, leaving only a blinding pain where the blade had entered him.

Plagg flew from the ring, staring in horror as his suit disappeared. The little cat reached for him, but he slumped to the floor.

“Adrien?” Hawk Moth’s voice sounded far away and horror-filled.

Adrien couldn’t imagine why, his hand going to the spot where the villain’s blade had entered.

“No,” Ladybug shouted. She renewed her struggle against Catalyst’s hold, not minding the nicks it created in her neck. “Adrien, no.”

She reached his side, having broken free of Catalyst’s hold. Or maybe Catalyst let her go, Adrien hadn’t a clue, his mind and body focused on his injury.

Her hand pressed against his wound, her voice trembling. “You’re going to be okay. Please, you’re going to be okay.”

He doubted it, his body beginning to numb. The transition from pain to numb not taking as long as he thought it should. It didn’t bode well, he mused. He tried to smile up at her, assure her it would be all right. She’d be fine without him, but she’d gone beyond hearing him.

A loud crash brought his attention back to the villain and his akuma.

Hawk Moth’s cane lay smashed beside him, a dark butterfly fluttering from its splinters and shards of glass. The man had dropped to his knees, his hands covering his face. His shoulders shook as giant sobs wracked his form.

“Ladybug, the butterfly,” he whispered. “Cleanse it before it’s too late.”

“Stay with me, Adrien.” She brought her face close to his, her lips brushing his. “Don’t leave me, Kitty. I love you. You can’t leave me.”

His heart soared at those words. How he’d longed to hear them. Too bad they came too late. No amount of magic could fix this. Not this time.

Chapter Text

Marinette landed with an exhausted sigh on her bed, her transformation dropping as she curled into a ball.

“What a night,” she whispered, tears sparkling in her eyes. “Did you know who Chat was, Tikki?”

Her kwami stared at her for the longest time, her eyes blinking with a greater knowledge than Marinette could ever dream of possessing. The truth reflected in those large blue eyes.

“I should’ve known.” She glanced at the pictures on her wall. “Is he ever going to forgive me for taking away his family?”

“I can’t answer that, Marinette.” The resignation and sadness in Tikki’s voice told her the kwami wished she could, though. That was enough to comfort Marinette.

Neither spoke as they nestled closer on the bed.

Marinette’s eyes grew heavy, tears trickling in her exhaustion. She didn’t bother to wipe them away, allowing their salty comfort to ease her into sleep.

They’d done it. They’d defeated Hawk Moth.

She wished it hadn’t been at Chat’s, Adrien’s, expense. She wished she could take back the devastation of learning who his father was. She wished she hadn’t been the one to bring that knowledge to light, ripping the Butterfly miraculous from his father’s possession.

Dreams assailed her, turning to nightmares she couldn’t shake that night.

The set alarm blared too soon for the weary superhero.

She groaned, rubbing at her grainy eyes. “Tikki? It’s too early.”

“I know, but I thought a run before school would help.” Her kwami floated in front of her, a hopeful smile giving off a hope that pulled Marinette from her comfortable bed.

Stretching, she called her transformation, the magic washing over her. Rather than dwell on last evening’s revelations, she leaped through her skylight, her mind on the run waiting for her.

A beeping at her waist pulled her up short.

Plucking her yoyo, she opened the compact. “A message from Chat? Did you know about this, Tikki?”

Warmth filled her as Tikki answered in the affirmative.

“Here goes nothing, I guess,” she whispered, pressing the Play button.

She gasped at hearing his voice, not the least prepared for the gravelly tone.

“Hey, Ladybug, I hope this finds you well.” A wry chuckle escaped before he continued, “Sorry that was horrible, wasn’t it? I’m sure you’re feeling guilty about last night. I know you, LB. You’d do anything to change what happened. If only your Miraculous Cure could change the truth, hmm?”

She hit the Pause button, sucking in a few deep breaths. In and out, she reminded herself. Whatever he had to say, she could handle it.

Hitting the Play button, his voice drifted over her. “I don’t blame you, LB, for revealing my father’s secret. What my father did was something he chose to do. Please, don’t blame yourself for the mess he created.”

Tears stung her eyes. She blinked to keep them in check, not daring to let them fall again.

“If anyone’s to blame, it’s me. I should’ve known he was up to something. I lived with a supervillain for the past five years and didn’t know it. How could I not know it? I have so many questions and so few answers.” His voice paused, a sigh escaping.

She took the moment to breathe, not realizing she’d held it until it whooshed out.

“You know he once said he hadn’t anything to live for. He was a man who’d lost everything. I guess he forgot about me, huh?”

Another pause.

She sucked in her breath, waiting for the bombshell he was preparing to set off.

“His reason for all the terror he caused was my mother. That’s what he said anyway, but I know my mother. She wouldn’t approve of this. She would’ve hated him for doing this to Paris, to you, to me. She would’ve done anything to stop him.”

He chuckled, the wryness creeping back into his voice. “She would’ve loved you, Milady. You are everything that is good and right with this world. It’s why I love you. I’ve loved you for so long, LB, and could never get the words out. I know you don’t feel the same, but I really needed you to know how I felt.”

She hit the End button.

“Where are you, Chaton?” Pulling up her map, she saw his pawprint sitting on the Eiffel Tower. “Found you.”

With a flick of her wrist, she closed the yoyo and sent it flying across the street. It latched around a chimney. She nodded before jumping onto her railing and swinging toward Chat’s location.

Minutes later, she landed on the beam holding her beloved partner and best friend. She hesitated before she stepped closer and dropped beside him. “Hey.”

He didn’t look up from his clawed hands as he whispered, “Hey. You got my message, huh?”

She nodded. “I did, but I didn’t finish it.”

His ears drooped to lie flat on his wild locks. “Are you here to let me down easy?”

“No, I’m not here to do that.” She paused to breathe, psyching herself up for the words she needed to say. “I’m here because I want you to tell me in person. I want to see your face when you say them to me.”

Green eyes slammed into her blue ones. “What game are you playing, Ladybug?”

“No game, Chaton. Tell me what your message said. Word for word.” She called off her transformation, allowing him to see the woman behind the mask. “If you really love me, then I want to hear them here and now, not on some message. Will you do that for me, Adrien?”

Whispered words dropped his transformation, his hand reaching for hers.

She gave it, a smile pulling at her lips.

Tikki grabbed Plagg and dragged him into her purse. Grumbling about being treated poorly sprang from the little black cat, not appreciating the manhandling the ladybug had given him.

Marinette smiled, grateful for her kwami’s intervention as she returned her attention to her sweet Chat.

He licked his lips, his eyes skittering towards hers and away. “You’re making my heart beat a mile a minute, Milady. I fear this is a dream that I’ll wake from any moment. I don’t want to wake up.”

“Then, dream with me,” she murmured, scooting closer. Her head rested on his shoulder as she laced their fingers together. “Tell me what your message said.”

His hand shook in hers. “I don’t know where you stopped listening. Care to give me a hint?”

“You said you loved me. I believe that’s where I left off,” she whispered, her thumb rubbing against his. “You had to let me know how you felt.”

He groaned. “You’re not going to make this easy, are you?”

She shook her head, a smile curving her lips. “No, but I’ll make it up to you.”

“I love you,” he whispered. “You make my heart beat fast, my mind race, my hands shake. I would climb mountains or swim oceans if you asked to. I’d do anything to be with you as a friend or whatever role you decide for me in your life.”

“Go on,” she murmured, her head coming up to meet his eyes. “I know there’s more. Tell me, please.”

“I’d turn back the clock and stop Hawkmoth’s terror, defeating the darkness with the light you give me. If you asked me, I’d spend every waking moment keeping you safe. I know you don’t need me to, but I would.” His voice faded, emotions clogging his throat. He coughed several times to clear it.

She squeezed his hand, her gaze never leaving his.

“You are my reason, Milady, for enduring my father’s betrayal, because I know you care. You might not love me like I wish, but I know you care. That can be enough. That will be enough because you, Marinette, are my reason.” His eyes dropped to their hands, his speech at its end.

Tears sparkled in her eyes. “My turn?”

He nodded, not daring to look at her.

Grabbing his chin, she brought his eyes back to hers. She smiled, tears leaking down her cheeks. “I have spent the past five years, mending what’s been broken with my Miraculous Cure, but it’s failed the person I care about the most. It’s failed the boy I fell in love with and the man he’s become, hasn’t it?”

His head shook in denial, his lips opening to refute her words.

Pressing her finger over them, she continued, “I pushed away Chat because I was in love with Adrien, never putting together that you two were the same. I should’ve been able to see the truth, but I didn’t. That is my failure to bear. Even if it takes me years to prove it, I would like the chance to prove I love you, Adrien, as you truly are. Because I do, I love you in and out of the mask.”

“You love me?” His voice had roughened as hope peeked through.

She smiled, nodding. “Of course, I love you, Chaton. You are my reason, too.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Mari, you home?” Chat swung through her small window. He landed with a soft thud against the wood flooring, his eyes taking in the quiet living room. “Mari?”

Running water from the bathroom answered him.

A smile flitted across his lips, his booted feet rising to his toes. Using every ounce of stealth he possessed, he inched toward the bathroom door, ready to pounce on his best friend and partner. His gloved claws curved in anticipation of the small scare he’d give her.

Sticking close to the wall, he peeked into the cracked doorway. All thoughts of scaring her fled, forgotten as he stared at her wrapped in her big, pink robe. A closer peek showed him the smudged mascara under her eyes.

His hands fisted at the thought she’d been crying, desperate to make whoever pay for such a crime.

“I know you’re there, Chaton,” she whispered, her blue eyes meeting his in the mirror. She offered him a weak smile. “You’re not as quiet as you think you are.”

He ignored the gentle jab, his question burning too great to remain silent. “Who did this? Who made you cry?”

“No one,” she whispered. “Just a long day is all.”

His arms opened wide, allowing her the chance to slide between them. He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “Are you sure, purrincess? I’ll happily handle anyone who dare hurt you.”

He could feel her smile against him. In a murmur, she responded, “My heroic Chaton, ready to take on the world for me.”

“Always, Mari. You’re my best friend.” He stopped himself before he added another confession she didn’t want to hear, not from him anyway. To distract himself, he asked, “So, tell me about this long day. It must’ve been bad if there are tears.”

“I should probably shower first. If you don’t have somewhere to be, we can order something in. We can talk then.” She pulled away from him, her eyes searching his.

He gave her a soft smile. “Sounds purr-fect, Milady.”

 

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“You can do this,” she whispered to her reflection. “He’s your Chaton. He’s your best friend. It’s time you told him the truth.”

Her mind ran rampant with a barrage of thoughts. Some had Chat running the moment she told him; others had him freaking out. The one that gave her the greatest courage is the one that propelled her from the shower.

She ran a comb through her hair a few minutes later, working out the tangles.

“Food’s ordered and will be here in a few minutes,” he called through the door. “Would you like me to set the table?”

“No, I was thinking a picnic in the living room would be more fun.” She set her comb down and wrapped her robe tighter around her. With a twist of her wrist, she pulled the door open. “We can use that blanket on my sofa if you’d like to lay it out. I’m almost ready.”

She rose on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

She missed his cheek by a centimeter or two, but she didn’t regret where the kiss had landed.

Bright green eyes stared down at her as his lips slightly parted in surprise.

Laughter bubbled. “You alright, Chaton?”

“You kissed me,” he whispered, his voice a little raspy.

“Yeah, I guess I did.” She rose once more, close enough to whisper in his ear, “I hope to do it again soon. Really soon, in fact.”

She lowered to take a step toward her bedroom, stepping over the threshold and holding the door in one hand. “But, first, I really should get dressed. We have all evening, right, Chaton?”

 

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“You kissed me,” he repeated fifteen minutes later. “Marinette Dupain-Cheng, why did you kiss me? And why are you planning on kissing me again?”

His demanding questions would’ve bothered her if she hadn’t seen the adoration shining in his eyes. He crossed his arms and came to stand beside her, watching her every move.

Rather than answer them, she simply smiled. She sank to the floor and nodded to the other corner. “Sit, Chaton.”

He looked ready to argue, but he did as she asked, dropping to the floor with an elegance she’d been too blind to see. It still shook her how she’d missed the obvious with her sweet Chat for so long. She had so much to make up to him.

“You’re not messing with me, are you, Milady?” The words sounded as though they’d been ripped out of him. “I know I tease and flirt a lot, but I—”

“I’m not messing with you,” she whispered, her finger pressing against his lips to stop him. She gave him her sweetest smile. “Far from it. I came to the greatest, most spectacular realization today.”

“That made you cry?” His brows knitted behind his mask, his eyes narrowing to slits as he watched her.

She nodded. “Happy tears, not sad ones, Chaton. I haven’t been able to stop smiling for most of the day.”

“Then, spill it, Mari. What’s this amazing realization? This Chat is dying to know.” He leaned closer, his hand settling so he could run his pinkie against hers. “You can tell me anything.”

She leaned closer, nabbing up one of the takeout containers before it could tip. She didn’t need an impossible stain to mar her confession, she mused with a slow smile growing across her features.

Her pinkie played with his as her lips brushed against his ear, whispering, “I’m in love with the most wonderful guy in the world.”

His entire body tensed at her confession. Green eyes closed as a shaky breath escaped him. “Yeah? He’s one lucky guy, then, princess.”

“I’m the lucky one. He’s been so patient, waiting for me to open my eyes and see him. I don’t know how he’s remained so patient, but I’m glad he has been.” She took a deep breath. “You, Chat Noir, are the most incredible guy any woman would be lucky to know. You are my best friend, my partner, and the man I’ve loved for most of my life. I was hoping you’d come over tonight, because I can’t wait another day to tell you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

He didn’t say anything for a long time, the seconds ticking away.

Frozen, he continued to sit beside her, his eyes closed and his breath shaky.

She opened her mouth to whisper his name, but he turned with a suddenness that had her gasping, his arms wrapping around her waist and tugging her close. Not minding the food spread between them, he lowered her to the soft blanket, his eyes watching and waiting for a protest to come.

It never would, she thought with a new smile growing.

“You are my world, Maribug. You’ve been my world since the day you crashed into me.” He leaned closer, his lips a mere breath from hers. “I love you, too. Today, tomorrow, and every day I draw breath. I can’t imagine not spending what time we have left together. Marry me, Milady?”

This time, she remained silent, too stunned to react.

He pulled out a ring from one of his precious pockets. “I’ve been carrying this since a week after I learned who you were behind the mask.”

Tears gathered in her eyes. Happy tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

“Yes,” she whispered, swallowing the tears and lump in her throat. “Yes, Chaton, I’ll marry you.”

His lips met hers in a kiss that could never be called an accident. The overflowing love and happiness from his kiss told her all she needed and more, reciprocating that love and joy in equal measure.

They wouldn’t recall their food for some time, lost in each other and the love they shared.

Chapter Text

The last thing he remembered was crashing through the wall of an apartment building. The akuma had stood over him, ready to strike him with whatever magic they’d been given by Hawkmoth. His last thought had been a hopeful one that Ladybug would show up, but he’d passed out before he’d seen evidence of her arrival.

Coming awake, he uttered a low groan, his eyes protesting his desire to open them.

“Are you alright, Chat Noir?” The familiar voice asked beside him.

His eyes opened into mere slits, enough to make out Marinette’s figure as she hovered over him. Her concerned expression pulled a smile across his lips. “Just dandy, Princess. Sorry for crashing as I did on you.”

He moved, his body protesting movement. Another groaned erupted from his throat. He ignored the aches and pains, shoving himself into a sitting position. Several breaths came and went before he managed to still the rollercoaster’s dizzying experience within his mind.

“Lie back down, Chat. You’re in no shape to go anywhere.” Her hands rested on his shoulders, ready to urge him back to the couch’s soft cushions.

“I can’t. The akuma –”

“Is handled. Ladybug took care of it. Now, lie down and rest.” She made a soft shushing noise that lulled him. He really liked the sound of her voice.

His eyes closed as she managed to maneuver him back to his original position. It took him far longer to realize that something wasn’t right. Despite his magic suit, he felt quite chilled in the room.

Popping wide, his gaze landed on her hands and their softness pressing into his bare skin. Panicked, he glanced around her apartment for Plagg, fearing what could’ve happened in the time he’d been unconscious.

“Relax, kid. Marinette here has taken care of all the details. She’s like an everyday Ladybug.” Plagg smirked at him, holding a wedge of Camembert in his tiny paws.

His kwami’s assurance did little to stem the panic flooding his veins, propelling him back to a sitting position. The blanket covering him slipped lower and pooled in his lap, keeping him decent though barely if Marinette’s blush proved anything.

“So, you know who I am then?” He couldn’t quite meet her eyes, not wanting to see her reaction. While he knew Marinette wouldn’t ever judge him, he couldn’t help feeling a bit nervous about her learning his biggest secret.

She simply smiled, tapping his nose as she shook her head. “I heard the tell-tell beeps of your ring and found an old mask to protect your identity. Your secret is safe, even from me. Now, stay put. I’ll get you some clothes. My roommate’s boyfriend should have some that’ll fit you.”

As she left the room, Chat dared a glance at his kwami. “How bad was it this time?”

“You were hit pretty hard, kid. Thankfully, you used Cataclysm to soften the blow. I doubt my magic would’ve helped much against crashing through a brick wall.” Plagg broke the wedge of cheese, presenting half to Chat. “Eat up, kid. You look awful.”

“Gee, thanks,” he mumbled, taking the cheese and eating it without protest.

He twitched beneath the blanket, his need to leave Marinette in peace almost overwhelming. Yet, he didn’t really move far, not quite ready to give her that peace. The conflict filled him with a weariness that threatened to engulf him.

Plagg pulled him from his thoughts by asking, “What’s that?”

Chat followed the pointing paw to the exposed skin on his side. His eyes widened at the sight of the pink flower marking his skin. His finger skimmed over the marking, the knowledge of its existence hitting him harder than he thought possible.

“A soulmate mark.” He jerked around, searching the apartment for Marinette’s presence.

The main living area held only him and his kwami, Marinette still searching her roommate’s room for clothing. His gaze scoured the room for any signs of her returning when it landed upon her favorite purse, one she’d had since he’d first met her. The flower proved unmistakable.

“Marinette’s my soulmate,” he whispered, his heart clenching at the thought. “We have to leave, Plagg. Now!”

Calling on his transformation, he fought back the dizziness as he made his way to one of the large windows. He couldn’t risk her being in danger, not when he had the power to stop Hawkmoth once and for all. He needed to find Ladybug and tell her what he knew before Hawkmoth struck again, hoping taking down the man he called Father wouldn’t kill him as much as he suspected it would.

He’d almost made a clean escape when Marinette appeared, calling out to him. Only one other voice had the power to stop him beside Ladybug’s. He cursed his rotten luck as he hovered near the window, torn being protecting his friend and staying so they could talk. Because, boy, did they need to talk.

 

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For her part, she hadn’t been all that surprised at finding the green pawprint marking her side. She’d even expected it as she’d caught the akuma leaning over Chat’s prone figure, ready to take his ring from him.

She hadn’t hesitated in lunging for his baton and wielding it against the akuma. A few good whacks with the silver baton had sent the akuma fleeing her apartment, Tikki watching the scene unfold from her room’s open doorway.

It’d taken her a bit to pull Chat onto her sofa and cover his nakedness, wondering what he could’ve possibly been doing when the akuma had struck Paris. She’d ignored the fiery blush coating her cheeks at her wayward thoughts.

An itching at her side had pulled her attention to the newly formed pawprint and its implications for her life.

It itched once more as she watched Chat trying to flee her apartment as though he’d seen a ghost or something equally scary in his world. Fate had a funny side, she mused, as she considered the complications they faced if they were truly soulmates.

“I can’t let you get hurt because of me, Princess,” he murmured sometime later, his head resting in her lap.

She smiled at his concern, not ready to reveal her greatest secret to him. Time would come for those revelations, but it wasn’t that time yet. “Don’t worry, Chat. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

“I know you can, Marinette, but I’m not going to stop worrying about you.” His fingers brushed her cheek, his head tilting to look at her. His smile didn’t quite meet his eyes, his worry too great to let his teasing overcome it. “If something ever happened to you, I’d be lost.”

His words slapped her with the truth she hadn’t wanted to see before. They knew each other outside their masks. They were even possibly friends, close ones if his words indicated anything.

She stopped his name from spilling past her lips.

“Don’t worry, Chat. We’re going to figure this out,” she whispered instead. “In the meantime, you can drop in any time you want. I need you in my life, even if it has to remain a secret for a little while.”

 

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Their relationship blossomed over the next several weeks despite the secrecy.

Chat Noir found himself floundering at how much their relationship had shifted into one he cherished above all others he had, including the one he shared with Ladybug. As much as he loved his partner, his heart had shifted to make room for Marinette, allowing her to occupy a far greater part of him than he’d thought possible.

It didn’t worry him as much, either, as he stood over his father’s prone body, staring at the man brought low after he’d attacked them. Hawkmoth wouldn’t terrorize Paris any longer. Nor would the man stand in Adrien’s way any longer, it seemed.

Chat detached himself from the situation, watching as his partner spoke with the police as an officer led his father away in handcuffs.

All he wanted at that moment was Marinette and her comforting arms. He needed to know she wouldn’t turn her back on him after he revealed himself to her. He almost chickened out and fled to the rooftops, but Ladybug hadn’t given him the option, showing up on Marinette’s balcony behind him.

“A friend of yours, Chaton?” she asked, a small smile playing over her lips. “I can’t blame you for coming here after the night we’ve had. If you hadn’t come here, I would’ve gone looking for you.”

He couldn’t answer her, not with his throat clogged with the emotions he’d been denying himself since seeing his father’s tired eyes staring back at him from the back of that patrol car.

“I’m sorry about your father, Adrien,” she whispered behind him, a flash of pink light following her words, “but you always have a home with me. If you want it, that is.”

He whirled to find Marinette standing where Ladybug had stood moments ago, his eyes wide and not quite comprehending at first.

When the truth sank in, he rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her, not minding the moisture blinding his movements. All that mattered was the woman who’d promised him the world and more with her kindness.

“I love you,” he whispered into her hair.

She smiled against his neck, pressing a kiss on his exposed skin. “I love you, mon Chaton. Now and forever.”

Chapter Text

“Don’t ever do that again!” The words rasped past her lips as she tried to regain what breath she could. The pepper she’d been dared to eat had robbed her of air. “You will pay for that dare, M. Agreste.”

Her glare did little to scare the blond beside her, his devilish grin doing wonders to soothe any anger she might’ve held.

“All’s fair, LB. You said so yourself when you held me to my dare.” He shot her a wink, so like another blond’s that she paused for a moment to stare.

It took her far longer than she cared to shake herself from those wayward thoughts. The two blond men in her life couldn’t be one and the same. No way, no how, right?

“You okay, Ladybug?” Adrien asked, his green eyes meeting hers and his brows bunching with concern. “We can play something else if you’d like. Unless, you’re needing to go. I know I’ve monopolized most of your patrol time.”

“Hey, you’ve done nothing of the sort,” she whispered, settling closer to his casted leg. “Besides, it’s not every day a civilian puts his life in such danger. You could’ve been seriously hurt, Adrien. You should leave such heroics to the professionals next time.”

His grin softened. “Yeah, I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise beyond that.”

Not at all satisfied but mollified for the moment, she dropped her gaze to her hands as she asked, “Truth or Dare?”

“Truth.”

Her nerves shot up as she dared to ask the one question burning most on her mind. “Is there someone you like a lot?”

She jumped when his hand reached out and grabbed hers. Her gaze slammed into his, her mouth dropping open.

“Yeah, there’s this one amazing, incredible girl. I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t do for a chance of her noticing me.” His hand slid away as his eyes slid towards his windows. “I watch her all the time, you know? She’s hard not to notice for all the things she does for others.”

“She does sound wonderful,” she whispered, her cheeks tinting at the dreamy look crossing his features. “I know she’d be lucky to have someone like you in her life.”

A moment passed before he said, “Your turn. Truth or dare?”

“Truth. No way I’m falling for another dare from you.” She kept her voice light, almost the same tone she’d used with Chat Noir on their patrols and they felt like being silly.

He didn’t hesitate in asking, “Is there a guy you like?”

Feeling a bit trapped by this question yet unwilling to trust his daring skills, she finally gave him an answer. “Yes. Truth or dare?”

“Dare.”

“I dare you to ask out your crush right now.” She pulled her yo-yo from her hip and opened it. She held it out to him with an arched brow.

His hand slid over the top and closed it, his devilish grin coming back as he asked, “Ladybug, would you do me the great honor of going out with me?”

She giggled. “I never thought you’d ask, M. Agreste. I would love to go out with you. Name the time and place.”

“I’ll have to get back to you, but you can be sure it’ll be as amazing as you are.”

Another giggle slipped out. “I have no doubt.”

Neither would recall who leaned in first, but neither cared. What mattered was they’d both leaned in for a kiss that would change their relationship forever that evening.

Chapter Text

“Marinette, you ready for our big scene?” Adrien asked from the side stage. His hand reached out to clasp hers, helping with the raging nerves coursing through her system.

Their casting director hadn’t wanted them to practice this last scene. Well, that wasn’t quite true. She hadn’t wanted them to practice one part of this particular scene, feeling sure they had enough chemistry to pull it off.

His large eyes glanced back at her, his hand tugging her closer without conscious thought. He seemed to hum with renewed energy at that moment.

She silently hoped it meant he appreciated her presence beside him as much as she did his.

“Ready,” she whispered, thankful her nerves hadn’t shaken her voice.

Together, they watched the curtain drop and prepared for the next scene. Hand in hand, they walked toward the balcony. His fingers brushed hers as he helped her up the steps to give her the illusion of being several feet in the air.

The electric zing up her arm warned her feelings might’ve changed for her Romeo.

The curtain rose.

Adrien spoke his words well, their banter coming out quite natural.

“Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.” His voice dropped on the last word, his lips pressing against hers for the first time. He pulled back a few seconds after he should’ve, so lost he’d become in tasting her. His next line came out rather stammered as he tried to regain what composure he could. “Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.”

Her voice proved little better as she managed to squeak out, “Then have my lips the sin that they have took.”

“Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my sin again.” His voice had steadied a bit before leaning in once more to kiss her.

She didn’t want this second one to end any more than the first, but she heard the soft coughing sound behind her. Leaning back, she raised her hand and ran it down his cheek, her smile dreamy. “You kiss by th' book.”

The play continued for another hour, each playing their role with the same amount of passion as they’d begun.

By the end, Marinette’s mind screamed for a shower to remove the makeup she wore and the hairspray in her hair. She set about doing just that, gathering her things and wishing everyone a good night.

Her hand touched the backstage door, ready to head to her small car when a voice stopped her.

“Hey, Marinette, great show tonight,” Adrien said, his hand pushing the door open for her. “I was wondering something, though.”

“What’s up?” She glanced down at her keys, a small playlist of her belongings playing through a final time. She didn’t dare meet his eyes for fear she’d relive their stage kisses. Survival would be out of the question.

“I was hoping you might be interested in going out with me.” He paused long enough to inhale and exhale in quick succession, diving back in before she could answer. “You don’t have to say yes. I mean, look at you, you’re gorgeous and probably have a fair number of guys waiting for a chance. I just, I, uh, that first kiss was something. I’ve never quite felt something like that before. I was kinda hoping you felt the same. It’s okay if you didn’t. I promise. I just, I had to ask.”

His nervousness hit her, pulling her gaze upward with some surprise leaking over her features.

“You like me?” She cursed her need to confirm what her heart sensed, but her mind refused to take back the question.

He offered her the sweetest smile she’d seen in recent months. “Well, yeah, I do. I’ve liked you for a while if I’m being honest, but I didn’t think you’d give me a chance. You’re pretty incredible, Marinette.”

“Says the ex-supermodel to a lowly costume designer and part-time actress,” she teased, her tone gentle. “So, the kiss affected you that much, too, huh?”

A simple nod answered her question.

Tiredness forgotten, she beamed. “I’d like that. A date, I mean, with you.”

He whooped, startling several others cleaning up and preparing to leave for the night. A blush stole over his cheeks though his eyes remained locked on her. “If you’re not too tired, I know this great little Italian place around the corner. Their meatballs will divine.”

Debating the loss of her shower, she met his eyes and saw the hopeful expression shining back at her.

“You know, that sounds wonderful. Lead the way, my fair Romeo.”

He chuckled, holding out his elbow for her.

The night didn’t disappoint. The meatballs and the company were indeed divine.

Chapter Text

Soft snoring alerted Chat to Marinette’s state, producing a fond smile.

“Goodnight, Mari,” he whispered, easing from under her.

Her arms tightened around him. Her sleep-roughened voice murmured, “Please don’t leave me.”

“It’s late,” he argued, half-hearted at best.

She didn’t loosen her grip. Her head shifted so she nestled deeper into his shoulder, her ear pressing against his heart. “You’re my pillow. You can’t leave.”

Laughter poured out of him. “What happened to your cat pillow?”

He glanced behind him to the massive cat-shaped pillow missing. His brows drew together, wondering when she’d moved it. He could’ve sworn it’d been there a few days ago.

“A little god of destruction lived up to his namesake.” She shifted again, her body moving closer still to his warmth. “So, you can’t go. I need you.”

“Why would Plagg destroy your pillow, Mari? He’s more into stinky socks than pillows.”

A yawn fell passed her lips, her hand covering her mouth. She looked beyond adorable and his resolve continued to dissolve.

“Not Plagg Sr. but Plagg Jr.” Her hand gestured toward the lower part of her room. “I’m not sure how he got up here, but the pillow didn’t survive his terror. He’s your kitten.”

“Oh, so he’s mine when he gets in trouble, huh?” He smiled into her peeking eyes. “I’ll replace your pillow, sweet princess. After all, you need your sleep.”

“Not tonight,” she whispered, her voice trailing off as sleep worked to reclaim her.

His smile grew fond, watching her drift back to sleep. Her head remained firm in its place over his heart. Running clawed fingers through her hair, he took care not to scratch as he moved it from her face. Goodness, she was beyond adorable no matter the time of day, awake or asleep, he thought.

“No, not tonight.” Pulling her closer, he settled against her mattress and closed his eyes. “Or ever if that’s what you desire.”

Silence descended.

He began to doze.

00000

Unknown to either of them, the little kitten climbed from the chaise lounge. Using his sharp claws and uncanny jumping ability, he made his way toward Marinette’s desk, mewling.

“Hey, Junior, wanna cuddle, too?” Tikki asked, scooting over for the kitten. She stifled her giggles as the kitten crowded toward her. “Don’t worry. I’m used to it. Plagg Sr. likes to cuddle even more than you do.”

The kitten mewed in answer.

A tiny giggle escaped. “Good night, little Plagg.”

Pressing a tiny kiss to his head, she settled next to the kitten, smiling as he began to purr.

Another purr soon began above them, echoing through the room.

Marinette and Tikki had never slept so well as they did with their new cat pillows.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Mary, we missed you at dinner?” Chat asked, leaning against the wood boxes she sat upon. “Everything okay? My kittens aren’t being too much, are they?”

She smiled, thinking of his little gang and their reaction to being called kittens. She stifled the small bubble of laughter threatening to escape, shaking her head. “It’s not them. I just needed some time to think. I guess I have a lot on my mind.”

“Ah.” He took a seat on the box closest to hers, taking her hand in his. “You’re thinking of home. Missing your parents if I’m guessing correctly.”

She nodded. “I miss them a lot. Maybe I was a bit hasty in running away, but I couldn’t stay, could I? Not if it meant marrying some guy I’d never met before.”

“No, you couldn’t.” His eyes dropped to their clasped hands. “I’m glad I found you though.”

That pulled a derisive chuckle from her. “Don’t you mean I found you? After all, I was the one who rescued you from that ornery baker that day.”

“He was rather stingy with his goods, wasn’t he?” A trace of a smile curved his lips upward. “Who would’ve guessed nibbling on a loaf of bread would be so criminal?”

“Well, you hadn’t exactly paid for it, either, so there is that, silly cat.” She raised her free hand to tease at one of his ears, eliciting a low purring sound from his throat. “You truly are a real cat, aren’t you?”

“Only for you, Mary,” he murmured, losing himself in her touch. “If it makes you feel better, I did the same thing. I ran away from home, too. I haven’t seen my father in almost three years.”

“That really doesn’t. What happened?” She continued to pet his ears, earning more purrs from the cat-like man.

“He wanted me to marry someone I hadn’t met, either. I tried to tell him I couldn’t, but my father is rather,” he paused as a deliciously loud purr erupted from his throat, “difficult.”

That surprised her. What were the odds?

“Hey, Chat, did your father tell you the name of supposed fiancé?”

More purring kept him for answering several moments. It took everything in him to answer her, she knew as her hand continued its relentless yet soothing caresses in his hair.

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng, I think was her name.”

She stilled. “What? That can’t be right.”

“I’m pretty sure it is.” He rubbed against her, hoping she might restart her ministrations.

She jumped up, moving a fair distance from him. She looked him over and wondered if it could possibly be, not daring to quite breathe. Could it be? Could her luck be that bad? Or that good?

Daring to test her theory, her voice came out little more than a whisper. “You’re Adrien Agreste?”

Green eyes stared at her, the bright green of his sclera even brighter if that was possible. His mouth gaped as he looked at her, almost as if it was the first time he saw her.

A moment later, his laughter poured out of him, mirth creating tears that fell over his mask and down his cheeks.

“This isn’t funny,” she said, a bit offended. Her arms crossed over her chest, not fighting the need to protect herself.

His laughter slowed enough for him to jump to his feet and cross the small alleyway. His arms lifted her with little effort, dragging her impossibly closer to his chest. Soft purring rumbles poured out of him as he nuzzled her cheek.

“I’ve never been so lucky in my life, Mari.” Soft kisses followed his words against her cheek. “I thought my life would be over marrying a woman I didn’t know or want. Then, she literally falls into my lap one day, bringing light into my life that I didn’t know I’d needed. If we hadn’t run away, I don’t know if I would’ve fallen so hard for you, but I did. I fell hard, and I hope you’ll marry me.”

Laughter matching his, she wrapped her arms around him, pressing mirroring kisses along his jaw. “Silly cat, I can’t think of anything I want to do more than marry you. I love you, Chat. I mean, Adrien.”

“You can call me Chat if you’d like. I’m yours now and always, my sweet Marinette.”

Chapter Text

“Seven minutes, you two,” Alya called out, her voice almost songlike in her triumph. She shut the door and left the two costumed superheroes alone.

Doing her best not to panic at this new dilemma, the ladybug turned toward the black cat beside her. “What are we supposed to do now?”

Even in the dim room, she could make out his perfect, sparkling teeth as he grinned at her. “Live out one of my long-time fantasies. I mean, it does look like we’ll be trapped for a while, or at least seven minutes.”

“Alright, you,” she reprimanded, her calm returning by slow degrees. “I smell something fishy. Spill, you silly cat-man.”

He didn’t spill as she demanded. He approached her instead and sprinkled her cheeks with whisper-soft kisses. “I’d rather show you, my Lady.”

Giggling, she gave in to his wonderful assault, joining in when he pulled back for a breath. “I’m so taking away your boxed collection when we get home. No more Ladybug and Chat Noir for you.”

“Aww, you always threaten that, but you never do. Face it, my love. You love them as much as I do.” He pressed another kiss to her forehead, pulling her close. “Thank you for doing this for me.”

“Hey, we’re a team, aren’t we? Besides, I had a lot of fun recreating these costumes for tonight.” She gestured at their combined costumes, realizing a moment later neither could see that well in the dark. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

“I do, but I wouldn’t mind some extra convincing to be sure.” His hands dragged her impossibly closer. “After all, I think Alya and Nino are giving us more time than the game allows. Shall we make the most of it?”

She glanced around the room, her cheeks warming. “Well, I’d say so. The game calls for a closet, not a room with a bed. They weren’t playing around, were they?”

A chuckle breathed across her skin, his lips millimeters from the exposed skin there. “No, I don’t they were. What do you say, my Lady?”

This time, she answered with a kiss, searing them both in its intensity.

00000

Their seven minutes lasted seventy-seven, emerging to find most of the party had died down.

Alya’s scream shattered whatever peace the straggling partiers had, sending them racing from her home. Her arms wrapped tight around her best friend, a smug smile emerging.

“Tell me he’s finally putting a ring on this finger,” she demanded.

A glance at Nino’s chagrined yet hopeful expression spurred her to say, “You tell me.”

She raised her gloved hand and removed it to show a sparkling solitaire on her ring finger.

“About time.”

Everyone laughed at Alya’s bold declaration.

“Hey, I would’ve proposed a long time ago, but someone wanted me to wait until we were sure I was out of the woods. That was almost a year ago.” He gave her a fond look, his green eyes shining behind his mask. “Was I worth the wait, my Lady?”

“Let’s go home, and I’ll show exactly how well worth the wait you really were.” She held out her hand and bid their friends a good night.

Out on the sidewalk, she leaned into him to whisper, “I really can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“Neither can I, my Lady. Neither can I.”

Chapter Text

“Oops.” Chat glanced over the rooftop. “Well, it looks like we’ll be trapped for a while.”

The sheepish expression he wore almost convinced her he hadn’t meant to let his baton fall off the ledge. Its collision with the ground barely heard from the roof’s distance.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she shot him her best glare, not willing to allow this supposed prince any liberties. She might be a prize to those who’d sought her hand, but she’d nipped those thoughts with each prince daring to think so.

“I apologize, princess,” he said in such a low voice his words were almost unintelligible. “This isn’t how I wanted this evening to go.”

“How did you expect it to go?” She didn’t mind the bite she’d given her words, not trusting this latest prince to be any different than the others.

His lips fell between a chiding smirk and a frown. It proved hard to read and more unnerving than she cared to admit.

“You looked like you could use an adventure. That’s what I wanted to give you tonight, an adventure you wouldn’t forget.” He slumped against the roof’s ledge, his shoulder caving inward. His mask did little to hide the sadness lurking in his eyes. “I know what it feels like to be trapped sometimes and figured you might be feeling that way, too.”

“Oh,” she breathed.

She took a step toward him, sinking onto the ledge beside him. Taking his hand seemed presumptuous, but she wanted to offer some comfort to her escort. A fleeting hope remained he might prove to be a decent guy, that maybe she’d lumped him with the other guys.

“I will find a way out of this, princess.” His eyes met hers, a determination in them that filled her with a warmth she had no intention of examining at that moment. “I hope you’ll continue to trust me. I really am different than those other guys.”

That’d been the second time he’d asked her to trust him that night. Each time had brought an image of another man asking for her trust in him. Sure, he’d been trying to keep her safe from an angry vendor and the palace guard. How could she not trust him when he’d risked his life for her?

Glancing at the great Chat Noir, she noticed a similarity she’d ignored before. They shared the same blond mop of hair and bright green eyes, a color she hadn’t seen outside her precious gardens before.

A sinking suspicion refused to be dislodged the longer she compared the two, certainty bubbling within her.

“I wonder,” she began, choosing her words wisely lest she was proven wrong, “how Plagg feels about missing all this.”

He chuckled. “Ah, he’s not missing anything. He hates fireworks and soaring over rooftops.”

She smiled, watching as he froze.

“What I meant to say was –”

“You are him, the boy who saved me the other day. Why are you lying to me about being a prince? What could you possibly gain from all this?” She tugged at his mask, its laces giving easily under her insistence.

He snatched it back. “I am a prince, I swear. I pretended to be a commoner that day. Haven’t you ever craved some freedom from being a princess?”

“Well, yes,” she admitted, her voice dropping low, “I do know what it’s like.”

They fell quiet, each becoming lost in their thoughts.

She stood and paced the rooftop. Back and forth, she trekked, her thoughts on how to return home. Guards would swarm the city again if they discovered her missing.

“I apologize, too.” Taking a break, she sank into her earlier position beside him. Her hand touched his arm. “I might’ve misread you a bit at the palace earlier. Jumped to conclusions I shouldn’t have about you.”

“Thank you.” He met her gaze with a soft smile, surging to his feet a moment later. “Well, we might’ve lost my staff, but I’m going to get us out of here.”

She mirrored his smile, seeing the boy she’d met the other day again. “I know you will because I trust you.”

The way his smile transformed before her eyes made her glad she’d said the words. Because she did. She trusted him and might even possibly love him after the night he’d given her.

Humming her happiness, she pushed to her feet and assisted him in getting themselves off the rooftop. Fireworks popped and lit up the sky above them, giving them ample illumination to see a possible escape route.

She almost sighed in disappointment when it worked, Chat picking up his staff and extending it to take her home.

The night had come to an end far too early for her tastes. She’d have to rectify that as soon as possible. After all, she had no intention of turning down this humble prince should he ask her to marry him.

Chapter Text

“Adrien. Adrien, please,” a voice shouted at him. “Please, open your eyes.”

Blinding light met his efforts, forcing his eyes shut. A groan slid out of him as his mind beckoned him toward blessed sleep.

His body shook from the cold wet surrounding him.

The promise of warmth in sleep drew him like the age-old flame for a moth, succumbing to that promise.

Loud noises and urgent voices woke him minutes later. At least, he thought it was minutes.

“He’s hypothermic. It’s urgent we warm him before any lasting effects become a reality.”

Hands. So many hands touched him. They shed him of his sodden clothing, leaving him bare on an uncomfortable bed. One poked his arm, sliding something under his skin. Warm fluid flowed into his veins. Another ran some type of tubing into his nose, sending a generous amount of air into his burning lungs. More wrapped him in blankets, some almost fresh from a dryer with their overbearing heat on his skin.

His skin acclimated, soaking up the heat and pulling a pleasure-filled moan from him. Any warmer, he thought, and he might start purring. Oh, if only he could get one of them to scratch him behind the ears. He really liked when Marinette did that. She knew all his best spots to make him a warm, gooey puddle.

Marinette?

Where was Marinette?

Struggling, his eyes blinked open, fighting against the stark room’s harsh lighting.

“Mari,” he managed to rasp.

“M. Agreste, do you know where you are?” One of the nameless masks asked him.

He shook his head. “Where’s Mari?”

Another answered him, “Your friend? She’s in the waiting room. Would you like me to get her?”

He nodded.

The nameless nurse left, her rubber soles squeaking across the tile.

“We’re almost done, M. Agreste. You’re warming up nicely, but you’ll need to stay for observation a few days.” Yet another nameless mask moved into his eye line. “We hear you’re a hero. Saved a little girl before some ice could break beneath her.”

Another nod. “Is she okay?”

“The little girl? We’re not sure. She didn’t come here, but we can ask the first responders to find out.”

“Please.”

Movement pulled his gaze toward the doorway and the vision he found there.

A smile settled on his lips, unmindful of their stiffness. “Mari.”

“Hi, kitty,” she whispered. Her steps quick and light brought her to his side, her hand slipping into his. “You really scared me. You can’t do that ever again, you hear me?”

“Yes, My Lady,” he whispered. “I promise. Stay with me?”

She glanced at the nameless masks surrounding him, a few having thinned in the time she’d arrived. A mischievous grin slid into place as she whispered, “They’ll need an army of akumas to make me leave your side.”

One of the nurses paused beside them, pulling her mask away. “We can set up a cot in the room if you’d like.”

“That would be nice. Thank you.” Marinette’s smile became genuine as she regarded the other woman.

When she returned her attention to him, her smile dimmed a bit, her hand tightening around his. “You need anything, kitty?”

He shook his head. “I have everything I need right here.”

Lifting her hand, he pressed a kiss to her knuckles, creating a faint flush over her cheeks. He managed one of his signature grins. He’d never get tired of seeing her blush like that, vowing to make it happen once every day for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Insistent beeping behind her dragged her attention from the shop window.

Her frown morphed into a wide smile. “Adrien Agreste, what are you doing?”

“Well, Mari,” he said while pushing away from the new car under him, “I thought I’d give my beautiful girlfriend a lift home.”

Shaking her head, she met him halfway across the sidewalk. “You are something else, you know that? I can’t help but love you more for it.”

Her hands came to rest on his chest. She rose onto her toes, giving him a soft kiss.

“I love you, too,” he murmured, his hands gripping her waist to keep her balanced. His smile remained as he asked, “So, you want a ride home?”

She nodded. “I have one more stop though. Do you mind waiting a few minutes? I’ll be quick. Promise.”

“Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere.” To prove his point, he slid one hand into hers, lacing their fingers. “Lead the way.”

“Oh, no.” She shook her finger at him. “You stay here. You’re not spoiling this surprise.”

“But, Mari, I –”

“No ‘buts’, mister.” Her finger swung toward his new car. “Go. I’ll meet you in a few minutes.”

Hanging his head, he nodded. As he moved according to her command, he shot her the greatest puppy dog eyes she’d ever seen from him.

She refused to be moved, though. She pointed once more at his car.

When he sank into the driver’s seat, she hurried into the shop she’d been gazing at before his arrival. Pulling the door open, she hurried toward the nearest sales associate and requested the item she sought.

“Do you giftwrap here?” she asked upon the sales associate’s return.

She paid for the item, smiling at the associate as the woman set about wrapping the small gift for her. Humming a happy tune, she meandered through the store, noting several other items she’d like to get at later dates for some friends. She nearly jumped when the associate appeared beside her, the gift wrapped and ready to go.

She took it and thanked the other woman before rushing through the door, smiling upon seeing Adrien waiting inside his car. Tapping the window, she slid into the passenger seat, the door already unlocked for her.

“Hey, you,” she whispered, tucking the gift under her legs. “Sorry for making you wait. I’m ready when you are.”

He leaned over the middle console and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’ll always wait for you, Mari.”

“Goofball.” She returned his kiss with one of her own.

He pulled away after a few moments, his hands moving to start the engine and place the car in gear. The car slid into traffic with a smoothness that surprised her, shifting through the medium flow as though its driver had been driving for several years.

“You’re good at this.”

“Thanks. I think.”

Laughing, she clarified, “I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just saying you’re doing well for someone who got his license barely six months ago. Nino wrecked his car two weeks after he’d gotten his. Alya had hers after three months.”

“What about you? I know you’ve wrecked your car, too. What was it? A day after you got yours?”

She mumbled, keeping her voice low.

“Sorry, Mari, I didn’t catch that.”

“Four hours,” she huffed. “It wasn’t my fault though. That guy didn’t signal before pulling into my lane.”

His hand slid from the wheel to squeeze hers. “I know. I remember you loved that car, too.”

“I really did.”

They fell quiet, content to enjoy the drive toward her home.

It took them minutes to reach the side door behind her family’s bakery.

“Guess this is me.” She turned to pull the small handle and push the door open. “Would you like to come up for a bit. I know Mama would love to feed you whatever she can.”

He chuckled, patting his stomach. “I’d love to, but I’m expected at home for dinner. You could always join us. I know my parents would love to have you. Father mentioned something about you and his summer internship program.”

“Hmm, that is tempting.”

He gave her his puppy dog face again, his lip pouting out as his eyes grew sad.

She laughed. “Come in while I can change. Then, yes, I’ll join you and your parents for dinner.”

A triumphant shout followed her words.

Seeing her boyfriend so excited made her day that much brighter. She’d give him his gift later.

Chapter Text

She tugged at the purple leotard, doing her best to cover herself despite its limited fabric. Her shimming tights and body glitter covering more than several other ladies attending the party that evening.

How anyone could look so adorable despite her obvious discomfort, Adrien would never know. He smiled as he caught her glaring at her friend, her words too low for him to hear across the refreshment table.

Nino nudged him toward the young woman.

Ah, he thought with his smile widening more, she’s my date then.

Taking up an extra glass of punch, he weaved through a few partygoers as they attempted to pluck a few morsels in the hopes of replenishing their energy. His cheeks hurt from how wide his smile had grown, coming within speaking distance of the young woman Nino’s girlfriend had brought to meet him.

“Hi,” he called out over the blaring music.

Blue eyes slammed into his, the lids narrowing as she worked to assess his danger level.

“Girl, be nice. This is Nino’s friend,” Alya explained, her eyes turning to assess him as well. “Adrien, right? It’s nice to meet you, but I see Nino getting manhandled by some hussy. So, I’m going to go. Have fun, you two.”

“Alya,” the other woman screeched, not trying to hide her anger and betrayal.

She tugged at the leotard again, doing her best to avoid his eyes.

Sensing her discomfort, he set the cups he’d grabbed on the table behind him. With quick fingers, he untied the thick strings holding the cape across his shoulders. It draped over his hands, sliding from its original perch with little effort.

“Here.” He held out the cape as a peace offering, hoping she might give him a chance. “As much as I loved Anne Wheeler’s character, I don’t think she had to wear her outfit in such a crowded room. It’s not much, but it should cover you.”

She hesitated but took it after her eyes traveled over the large number of guests. Her small fingers worked the string faster than he thought possible, settling the fabric over her shoulders and covering her to her calves.

“Thanks,” she mumbled, her eyes coming back to his. “Alya insisted I wear this tonight. She said Nino’s friend would appreciate it.”

As she spoke, her eyes drifted over his costume, widening the tiniest bit. “She wasn’t wrong, was she?”

He chuckled. “While I do adore the musical, Nino sorta insisted I wear this tonight as well. Something along the lines that Alya’s friend had an absolute crush on Philip Carlyle.”

A pretty rush of color bloomed across her cheeks.

“I’m going to kill them later,” she grumbled.

“Well, I might join you, but don’t you think we should see if they’re wrong first?” He leaned a bit closer to drop his voice low enough so others wouldn’t overhear. “All I know so far is you’re quite adorable when you fidget. You’re stubborn and strong, handling all our friends have tossed at us so far. You’re also a good sport in doing this despite whatever reservations you might have.”

She stared at him, her mouth gaping.

He tapped at her chin, his smile creeping back over his lips.

“I don’t know about you, but I’d like to learn a whole lot more about you.” His finger traced her jaw before he realized the liberties he’d taken without her permission. Stepping back to give her space, he moved his hand so it rested between them, palm out. “What do you say?”

A real smile spilled across her lips as she nodded. Her hand slipped into his, gesturing for him to lead the way.

He didn’t need any further encouragement, taking her to a small hideaway he’d discovered earlier in the evening. Sliding across the small settee, he shifted to give her room while maintaining some space between them.

When she followed his movements, he knew this would be a night he would never forget.

Chapter Text

“You should be resting,” she admonished, slipping through the open window of the vacant building. “How are you ever going to heal if you don’t take it easy, Chat?”

Adrien offered her a distracted smile.

“I’m sorry, my, um, Ladybug. I guess I’m a bit restless.”

He’d almost called her his lady, cringing at the misstep. Would he ever be able to stop? He wondered if the habit would ever truly go away after all they’d shared.

Despite everything, he still loved her.

“Alright, Chat, over here.” She pointed toward the table and chairs. “I need to check your side.”

“It’s feeling much better,” he mumbled.

A smile graced her features as she glanced in his direction.

“I’d like to check that for myself.”

He continued to shuffle toward her, his feet sidestepping the spare amount of debris littering the floor. The building had been abandoned some time ago, making it the perfect spot for their little hideaway as he recovered. The near-fatal blow hadn’t been half as heart-wrenching as learning his father had been Hawk Moth or as devastating as his magic dissolved before Ladybug’s eyes.

He grimaced, recalling the shocked look crossing her features that day. She’d looked disappointed to find Adrien behind the mask, the son of their archnemesis and her partner.

“You’re thinking too much, Chaton. I thought that was supposed to be my flaw,” she whispered, her fingers making quick work of the bandage covering his side. She hadn’t wasted a moment when he’d reached her, settling on the table’s edge.

He couldn’t quite muster the strength to give her a carefree smile.

A hand brushed against his cheek, drawing his attention to the bluest eyes he’d ever seen.

“The world misses you. Your friends miss you.” She brushed a quick kiss against the stubble on his jaw. “I miss you. Hiding here can’t be good for you, either, Adrien.”

He didn’t say anything.

She returned to her original task, checking his wound. It took her a few minutes to ensure everything looked clean and healing as it should. Satisfied, she pressed a clean bandage against him, her gloved hands doing wonders against his exposed skin.

A stray thought flitted through his mind, pressing him to imagine what her bare hands would feel like. He shut it down quick, not daring to believe she’d want to willingly touch him after learning who he was. It didn’t matter that she had touched him this past week or two.

“Talk to me, Chaton. I can’t help if you don’t talk to me.”

His head dropped, his chin hitting his chest.

“Do you really believe anyone misses me? As Adrien? I can’t help feeling like the world would be better if I disappeared.” He refused to look at her as he spoke, not daring to see the condemnation in her eyes.

“Why do you say that?” she whispered. “Don’t you think your friends love and miss you?”

He shrugged. “I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t.”

“Chat Noir, I never pegged you for a quitter. You pursued me for the past two years. You’ve stuck with all your lessons despite not having much interest in them. You go above and beyond for your friends, too.” She grabbed his chin and held it firm, staring at him with a determined look. “You are not a quitter in or out of your magic suit. So, don’t you dare quit now. Give them a chance. Give yourself a chance.”

“I’m not sure I’m strong enough,” he muttered. “I’m scared I’ll be alone. Truly alone this time.”

Arms wrapped around him, her head tucking into his shoulder.

“You’ll never be alone, Adrien, I promise.”

Sliding his arms around her back, he shook, almost fearful this was all a dream. He never wanted to wake if it was.

“Once you’ve healed up, you should try. I know Nino’s been missing his best friend. So are Alya and Marinette. Even Chloe, not that she’ll ever admit it.”

He chuckled, knowing the last part to be true. “You truly think so?”

“I know so,” she whispered.

His face must’ve shown some doubts because the next thing he knew, she called off her transformation. Pink washed over her, leaving Marinette standing where Ladybug had been.

Words failed him as one emotion after another slammed through him. Shame. Hope. Despair. Joy. Grief. Each one and more cycled through him.

“Come home, Chaton.”

The words stuck in his throat, swallowing several times before he managed to say, “I can’t. I don’t have a home anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” she murmured, nestling deeper in his arms, “with me. My parents know and heartily approve you living with us. So, what do you say? Are you ready to become a Dupain-Cheng, Chaton?”

Tears gathered, unbidden.

He nodded. “Yes. More than anything, yes. Thank you, my Lady.”

“Anytime, my Chaton. Anytime.”

Chapter Text

Checking his baton’s locator, he glanced around the area, spying the signature spotted red he sought.

He dashed over the rooftop’s ledge, extending his baton to land beside his beloved partner. A happy sigh escaped upon reaching her side, having missed her the past few weeks.

Hawk Moth’s defeat and subsequent reveal had sent shockwaves through Paris. No one had experienced them greater than his own son.

Chat frowned at the memories plaguing him, doing his best to shut them down. He didn’t need to worry about them any longer, not with his partner beside him again. It’d taken him far too long to dare this venture from his new home, but he couldn’t take being alone any longer.

“Evening, my Lady,” he whispered, kneeling in front of her.

His hand itched to reach out and touch her, but her hunched posture stopped him. Her head rested on her knees while her shoulders shook with raw emotion.

“My Lady?” He knelt closer, his knees hitting the billboard’s platform. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

He reached for her, his hand brushing against her hair.

She stiffened. “Chat?”

“I’m here, my Lady. Whatever you need, I’m here.” He wrapped his hands around her arms. “I’m sorry I disappeared for a bit, but I’m back and not going anywhere.”

The air around them changed. Charged itself with an expectancy that surprised him.

She launched at him, using his hold on her for leverage. Her arms slid around his neck and squeezed impossibly tight.

“My Lady, I can’t breathe,” he choked, making his voice teasing to lighten the mood.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered against his neck.

Her hold didn’t loosen.

Taking matters into his own hands, he tugged on her arms until her hands finally broke their hold. Satisfied, he wrapped his arms around her back and settled her in his lap, nuzzling her cheek.

“I never got to say goodbye,” she whispered after some time had passed. “He’s gone. You were gone. You both left me without a word.”

Tears fell onto his exposed neck, sliding beyond his suit.

They tore at him, ripping apart the barely repaired seams of his own pain. His heart clenched as tiny sobs escaped her.

“Oh, my Lady, I’m so, so sorry. I never meant to leave you. I’m back now. I’m not going anywhere as long as you want me at your side.” He gulped, needing the moment to gather his courage. “I wouldn’t have left you if I didn’t have to.”

“I don’t understand, Chat. Why did you leave? Was it because of him? Did he ask for your help? He didn’t have to leave. I would’ve been there for him.”

A fresh sob punctuated each question and declaration, sending his heart further into turmoil.

“Who are talking about, my Lady?”

He knew in his heart who she meant, but he had to hear her say it. He needed to hear her say his name, to say she cared about him.

“Adrien,” she whispered, flinging her hand in the direction of the billboard.

His eyes followed her movement, taking in the half-destroyed photo of himself. An old ad if he had to guess.

“He’s one of my best friends. I loved him, Chat, but he left. He left, and I never got to say goodbye. I never got to say that I loved him.” She sobbed harder, her tears falling freely against his skin.

His heart soared at this new information though it dimmed swiftly.

He’d caused her so much pain by disappearing. He hadn’t tried to slow down the events after his father had been unmasked as Paris’s great supervillain, allowing his life to change around him. Adrien had quickly disappeared with only small appearances of Chat Noir in the weeks since everything had gone down.

Hoping to make it right, he pressed her closer, his arms settling lower on her back. His chin nuzzled her cheek as he whispered, “Tell him now.”

Her sobs lessened, her mind whirling with a thousand thoughts.

He could feel her thoughts, his lips curving into a small smile.

“What?”

“Tell him now, my Lady. Tell him how you feel.” He tucked his face into the nook of her shoulder and neck, cradling her closer. “I know he needs to hear it if it’s still true. Please, let it still be true, my Lady.”

“Chat, I don –”

Dropping his transformation, he waited for her reaction, sensing his doom despite the bold move he’d made in the small hope for happiness.

She pushed away to get a better look at him, her eyes widening far more than he thought possible.

“Adrien? You’ve been Chat the entire time?”

He nodded, his voice lost to his rising dread.

Her hand swiped at her tears, drying her eyes as best she could. She offered him a small smile as she softly commanded, “Transform again, please.”

He did, calling Plagg back into his ring.

Brushing a kiss against his cheek, she whispered, “I love you. I have loved you for so long. My heart broke the day you disappeared. Don’t ever do that again, Chaton. I need you in and out of your suit. You are my partner, my best friend, and the man I love with all my heart. I never want to say goodbye to you, so don’t you dare leave me again.”

Sensing the second chance he never thought he’d get, he grabbed onto the promise of her words, his voice equally soft. “Never, my Lady. I’m yours for now and always. I’m not going anywhere.”

Chapter Text

“Mari, you gotta breathe,” Chat cried, his voice hoarse from shouting at bystanders. “Come on, princess, breathe for me. Please, breathe for me.”

He puffed air into her mouth, five breaths.

Nothing.

“Come on, Mari,” he pleaded, his hands hovering over her chest.

He didn’t want to hurt her, but she wasn’t responsive or breathing.

Shoving down with sufficient force, he performed the thirty requisite chest compressions he’d been taught not two weeks ago.

Nothing. Nada.

Her skin had paled from her brief time in the water. A nasty gash at her temple provided the only vivid color against her pale skin, blood seeping and weaving rivulets into her dark hair. What he wouldn’t give to see her gorgeous blue eyes staring at him or narrowing as he cracked another lame pun.

“Mari, please.” His voice cracked on the platitude.

Two more breaths forced their way into her lungs.

More chest compressions followed, ticking them off in his mind.

His hands ached. His muscles began to burn. He refused to acknowledge either. The only thing that mattered was seeing Marinette spitting up the water she’d inhaled from the Seine.

Foolish bicyclist, he thought savagely. He swore to make the guy pay if anything happened to her.

Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty.

Leaning closer, he placed his mouth over hers, blowing in one breath.

Water met his second breath, rushing past her lips.

Hacking coughs shuddered through her as he dragged her onto her side. His clawed hand rubbed her back while she continued to cough up water.

She struggled to sit up, her hands shaking. Glancing around her, she took in the large crowd, unconsciously moving closer to him.

“You scared me to death, princess,” he whispered in her hair. “You’re not allowed to do that ever again.”

“I promise.” She snuggled into his arms, welcoming his heat against her soaked skin. “Take me home?”

He shook his head, checking the seeping gash. “Hospital first. We need to check this out. After that, then I’ll take you home.”

“You won’t leave me, will you?” she asked, accepting his arms as they lifted her in a bridal carry.

“Not even Hawk Moth is going to pull me away.” He extended his baton and shot them over the crowd.

Not bothering to slow down, he carried her to the nearest hospital, explaining to the staff what had happened.

When they asked him to sit in the waiting room, he became stubborn, keeping his promise to Marinette his only objective.

They acquiesced soon enough, wanting to treat their patient and not forcibly remove one of Paris’s favorite superheroes.

He’d averted his eyes when they replaced her sodden clothing with scrubs, so they could examine her properly and warm up her chilled skin. His thumb grazed the skin at her wrist, noting the healthy undertone color returning to her skin.

The tiniest smile appeared in his relief. Though, his heart gave a painful squeeze to remind him of what he’d almost lost that day.

A few stitches and a stern warning to watch her, they discharged her into his care.

He had no intention of letting her out of his sight, he’d promised.

Carrying her home, he took the least jostling route, noting the tiredness plaguing her. Her blue eyes had grown bluer as purplish shadows appeared beneath them, a sure sign he needed to get her home and into bed.

The sight of her balcony welcomed them like the flashing lights of a lighthouse.

Prying open her skylight, he slid her onto her bed with the utmost care, slipping in behind her.

“Don’t go,” she whispered, her eyes already closed. “Stay with me.”

She’d wasted no time in curling up with her large cat pillow, pulling another smile from him.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he promised.

He picked up her blanket and draped it over her. In the small space left, he slinked and stretched himself until he could wrap himself around her, fitting her against him as though she belonged nowhere else.

Mine, his mind screamed in declaration.

His eyes grew heavy, sleep claiming him minutes after Marinette.

Neither moved, content to sleep snuggled against each other.

Chapter Text

“Feel my heart beating?” he asked, his voice cracking. “It’s beating because I’m still alive, Mari. I’m sitting beside you, and I’m here. No one hurt me, I promise.”

Tears leaked out of her eyes. “You’re still alive?”

Adrien wanted to roar, anger surging so close to the surface. How dare anyone do this to his friend? Marinette didn’t deserve the torture she’d endured the past twenty days. He’d make Hawk Moth pay for this. Once he had the chance, he wouldn’t hold back, no matter who hid behind the Butterfly mask. The man would pay for hurting Marinette.

Keeping a tight lid on his anger, he kept his voice gentle, murmuring, “I’m still alive. We all are, Mari. Whatever Hawk Moth said, it’s not true.”

More tears dripped down her cheeks, the rivulets converging at her chin and dripping large droplets onto her tank top.

“Mari?” Using his free hand, he tried to wipe away the tears, but they proved too numerous. “Tell me what you need. You want to talk about what happened?”

She hesitated, spurring him to add, “It’s okay if you don’t. We can just sit here until you’re sure I’m real.”

She stared at their joined hands resting over his heart. Her mind whirled with everything he’d told her if he could judge by the strength of her stare. Her nails dug into his shirt and the skin beneath, but he didn’t mind. Short breaths puffed past her lips. A determination he missed more than he’d thought possible swept through her, her breathing hitching as she fought whatever demon tried to undermine her.

“Hey, Mari,” he whispered, his hand caressing her cheek to gain her attention. “We’ll find him. We’ll take him down.”

The first hint of smile blossomed. “You sound like you’re one of Paris’s heroes.”

“Maybe I am. You never know. They wear masks, so who’s to say I’m not behind one?” He chuckled, happy to see some life coming back to her.

Her smile brightened a bit more as she admitted, “You remind me of Chat Noir sometimes.”

“I do, huh? Well, I’ll take that as a compliment then.” His lips lifted at the corners, reminiscent of his superhero persona.

“I need to find him,” she whispered, her smile dimming. “Hawk Moth has Ladybug’s earrings. Chat’s going to be alone. He needs to be prepared.”

Dread slammed into him. Not only had Marinette gone missing, but Ladybug hadn’t been seen in the same amount of time. He’d hoped his partner had been waylaid by something else, not daring to believe the worst or what that would entail. Marinette’s words transformed his greatest fear into reality. Ladybug had been lost to him, leaving him the lone defender of Paris.

“I failed, Adrien. I should’ve fought harder, but she was too strong.” Tears began to leak from her eyes again, the small flood worse than the one earlier.

“Hey, you did what you could. You survived, Mari. That’s all that matters.” He loosened his holds to wrap his arms around her, dragging her closer.

“It all felt so real. Everyone I loved faced a fate worse than death itself, especially you. She took such pleasure in doing it, too. I wanted to die, too.” Sobs wracked her body.

Confused, he held her, his hands running up and down her back. Tears soaked through his lightweight shirt to drench his skin with her sorrow.

“Who is this she, Mari? Who tortured you if it wasn’t Hawk Moth?” He pulled back far enough to see her face, see the misery she couldn’t hide from him. “Tell me, please.”

“Volpina.”

Nausea rolled through him, threatening to send him racing toward the bathroom below.

“She knows, Adrien,” she whispered, her voice almost too soft to hear. “She knows I’m Ladybug.”

Ice water would have shocked him less. The nausea increased. His blood froze in his veins, the truth slapping him harder than he’d ever thought possible.

Staring down at her, he knew. He could see the proud blue gaze staring from behind the spotted mask. The smirk she wore whenever he made a silly pun. The two incredible women in his life melded into one.

“Don’t worry, my Lady.” His voice remained steady, his resolve solidifying. “No one is going to hurt you or anyone you love anymore.”

He had no intention of breaking his promise. His top priority was Marinette, his partner and best friend. His next would be the downfall of Hawk Moth and all his retched akumas. The man would pay for his role in torturing Marinette. Adrien would see to that.

Chapter Text

“You’re not real,” he muttered, his purple gaze narrowing on the woman beside him.

The woman merely smiled. “If you say so, sweetheart.”

“You’re just a figment of my imagination.”

“Maybe,” she conceded. “What about her? Is she real to you?”

Turning his gaze toward the raven-haired girl on the balcony he’d been stalking the past few weeks, he watched her. She watered her flowers, her eyes traveling around her every few seconds. Their blue stood out even from this distance. Her wariness called to him, asking him to soothe her.

He grunted. No way she’d want anything from him in this state.

“She’s your friend,” the woman beside him mused. “Shouldn’t you be leaning on her instead of me?”

“She deserves more than this.” He gestured at his white suit, a stark contrast to his normal black one.

“You think she’ll push you away?”

He sneered, his teeth flashing. His eyes burned brighter as they focused on the woman beside him.

“Wouldn’t you, Mother?” Her name sounded like a hiss. “It’s why you disappeared. You couldn’t stand being with me or Father anymore?”

The smile returned, sadder this time. “Those are your thoughts, sweetheart, not mine.”

Resisting the urge to growl, he muttered, “She’s better off without me.”

“Maybe.”

His mother turned toward him, startling him with the odd mixture of her features.

The first time he’d seen her eyes, he’d jumped backward, not expecting them to differ as they did. One matched the familiar brilliant green color he knew while the other mirrored the deep blue of Ladybug, including a spotted patch covering said eye.

Her hair had blonde streaks within the bluish-black locks that reached her shoulder blades when it wasn’t pulled back into a ponytail. To say he’d been surprised would’ve been an understatement, his hackles rising at this woman and her presence beside him.

The butterfly had done something to him, he realized. He almost feared he’d suffered a break from reality, but this woman had remained at his side since he’d been akumatized, acting as mother and friend.

“How can you know?” she asked, breaking through his thoughts.

“Know what?”

“That she’s better off without you?”

His shoulders hunched as his ears drooped. “She told me so.”

“That’s not what she said.” His mother’s voice rose in agitation, lashing at him. It reminded him a lot of Ladybug. “Be honest with yourself. She might not love you like you wanted, but she cares about you.”

“Feels the same.”

She huffed at him, defeated despite her irritation at his stubbornness.

“Chat Blanc,” a new voice yelled. “I can see you over there.”

He glanced in the direction of the balcony across the street. Standing proudly against the railing, Marinette held a hand over her eyes, shielding them from the mid-afternoon sun. Her mouth had become a determined line.

“Talk to her.”

His mother walked away to disappear around a chimney, leaving him alone on the rooftop.

With an exasperated sigh, he launched himself toward her balcony, landing on the opposite side. The distance between them almost unbearable.

“You called for me?” His lips spread into a cocky grin. “What can I do for you, princess?”

The nickname slipped past his lips so smoothly, so easily that he feared her reaction.

“Oh, Kitty, what am I supposed to do with you?” She stepped closer, invading his space.

His back hit the railing, threatening to spill him over the side. Doing his best to recover, he coughed and tried to lace his words with a hard edge. “There’s nothing you’re supposed to do, Marinette. I am who I’m meant to be.”

“I don’t believe that,” she whispered, moving another step closer.

Her hand reached out to touch his cheek, but he veered at the last second, spinning so she was pressed against the balcony. With this new position, he stepped forward, turning the tables.

To his dismay, she didn’t look the least bit worried.

“You’re meant for more than this, Kitty.” Her hand cupped his cheek, the contact enough to send his senses reeling.

His mother appeared beside him, her perpetual smile in place. “She suits you, sweetheart.”

“She’s just a friend.” The words came out like an old reflex.

Memories of their time together taunted him. Marinette had never made him feel like he wasn’t as important as Ladybug. She’d allowed him into her life, giving him warmth and love for the first time. She’d made him his favorite treats without being asked, remembering smaller details that his father had failed to notice time and again.

“She’s so much more, isn’t she?”

He nodded, his gaze returning to Marinette.

One quick tug broke his bell and sent a dark purple butterfly fluttering.

“Chat?” Marinette’s voice called to him.

“Get the butterfly, my Lady,” he rasped, sinking to the balcony floor.

He didn’t need to glance up to know he’d surprised her. Her body had tensed the moment the words left his mouth, but he knew the truth. It’d been staring at him for far too long. It’d taken one sniff of her in and out of the suit to know who she was.

Pink flashed.

“Bye, bye, little butterfly,” she murmured moments later.

Another flash of pink and she knelt before him. “Are you alright?”

He nodded.

The past few weeks blurred and faded.

His mother and her odd appearance disappeared forever.

“I’ve got you, Kitty. I’ve got you.” Her arms wrapped around him, holding him tight.

He clung to her, sensing she wouldn’t let him go until he was ready.

She didn’t.

Chapter Text

Dropping to her balcony, she called off her transformation. Exhaustion stole what energy she had left, her knees buckling. She landed in her lounge chair with a heap.

“It’s all my fault, Tikki,” she whispered, her eyes filling with tears. “He’s an akuma because of me.”

“No, it’s not, Marinette. You were honest about your feelings, not cruel.” Tikki patted her holder’s head, her own eyes swelling with tears. “We’ll get them back. You’ll see.”

She didn’t move, curling deeper into her chair.

Sleep eventually claimed her, sending her back to earlier that evening.

“I’ve loved you, my Lady, since you crashed into me that first day,” Chat declared, his eyes the most earnest she’d ever seen them. “In and out of the mask, I will love you for the rest of my life.”

She heard the words so many times before and in several variations, but they’d struck her hard that evening, dangling high above the streets of Paris. In her heart, she loved him, too, but it wasn’t the way he wanted to be loved. That belonged to Adrien Agreste and no other.

“I’m sorry, Chat, but I can’t. My heart still belongs to another. I can’t give up hope on him yet.” She’d turned away, unable to bear looking at him and the devastation creeping over his features. “I wish I could return your feelings, but I don’t. You are my best friend, Chat. Can’t that be enough?”

His ears drooped while his tail fell lifeless behind him.

“Oh, Chat, I wish I could tell you what you want to hear, but I can’t. I just can’t.” Lifting her yo-yo from her hip, she swung it out, allowing it to take her away before he could try and convince her otherwise.

She’d landed on the opposite rooftop before she dared to peek behind her, her mouth dropping open.

A familiar purple butterfly fluttered toward her partner, seeking out the perfect spot to akumatize him. It found it within his gold bell, a sickening purple and black molding around it.  

He became a statue, the purple mask glowing with whatever enticement Hawk Moth had for him. His mouth moved, agreeing to Hawk Moth’s promise. The purple and black bubbles washed over him, leaving him in a shocking state of white.

Magenta eyes glowed where they should’ve been green.

She ran when they landed on her, sensing the danger they presented. It didn’t occur to her she should stop and fight until she fell over the railing of her balcony, her transforming giving way at her command.

A cry ripped from her throat, yanking her from the dream into reality.

“Just a dream,” she whispered. “It was just a dream.”

“What was, princess?” a voice called from above.

Her gaze darted upward. She gasped at the sight of him. “Chat Noir?”

“Not quite, Marinette.” He dropped to her balcony, his white boots making a soft thud. “Chat Blanc at your service.”

The bow he gave reminded her of her dear partner, lost somewhere within the akuma. She had to get him back no matter the cost to herself.

“What happened to you?” she asked, hoping he hadn’t seen her frantic retreat and subsequent transformation. If he had, he’d surely be attacking, right? “Does Ladybug know what’s happened?”

His claws, long and silver, flashed as anger filled him. “Oh, she knows, but don’t worry. I won’t harm a civilian. I have bigger fish to filet than you.”

He regarded her then, his eyes raking over her. “You’d be a dear friend, wouldn’t you, Marinette? You would tell me if you knew where she was? She ran away before I could properly show her my new powers.”

“What are you going to do, Kitty?”

The smile spreading over his lips sent shivers down her spine.

“You’ll see, princess. I promise you’ll see.”

Chapter Text

She bolted upright, sweat beading her forehead. Her shirt clung to her as she worked to control her breathing.

“It’s alright, Mari. Just a dream,” Adrien murmured in her ear, his arms wrapping tighter around her waist. “Try to sleep. We’ll figure it out in the morning.”

He’d been saying that for the past few weeks. They hadn’t figured out anything. Nothing would change the fact Hawk Moth knew. He knew and their families were in danger.

Fleeing had been their only answer, silent prayers for their families’ safety.

Needing to stretch and think, she slid out of the bed, padding toward the large window. Drawing back the curtain, she took in the first rays of the new day. The motel’s grimy pool glistened with a sickly green glow that churned her stomach.

“He hasn’t attacked,” she mumbled. “Why hasn’t he attacked? No akumas. Nothing. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Mari, come back to bed. You need to sleep.” Adrien rubbed at his eyes, the shadows beneath proof he hadn’t been sleeping either.

She stayed where she was, her hand gripping the curtain tighter. “I can’t. All I see is his face. He knows, and he’s biding his time until he strikes. I know it. I just don’t know why he hasn’t attacked yet.”

Soft footfalls sounded behind her, warm arms circling her waist once more. He rested his chin on her shoulder and peered out the window. The short stubble he sported scratched at her skin, but she didn’t mind, his presence soothing her.

Their accidental reveals hadn’t been opportune, but they’d happened. A fact she couldn’t change if she’d wanted. If only Hawk Moth hadn’t seen their reveals, too, then she could know if her family was safe. She wished they could call someone, anyone, to ask, but the risk was too great.

“I’m not sure how or when, my Lady, but we are going to figure this out.” His arms tightened around her. “He won’t win. We won’t let him.”

She leaned her head against his, a shadow of a smile peeking out. “You always sound so sure we’ll be victorious.”

“I know we will, because you’re amazing, Marinette. You always find your way out of every sticky situation. Why wouldn’t you do the same this time? We just have to find that opening you need. When we do, there’ll be no stopping us.”

He pulled away, his footsteps growing softer with the distance between them.

She heard a drawer scrap open as he rummaged for some clean clothing. When he grunted, she knew their few things would need cleaning that day.

Turning to face him, she smiled at the way his nose wrinkled at the small pile of wrinkled clothing. Biting back a giggle, she approached and took up his pile and hers to launder.

“Let’s get some breakfast before we head to the laundromat across the street.” She shoved their clothes into a small bag, content to wear the clothing she’d slept in.

A knock on the door froze her in place, her eyes widening as she glanced at him. He appeared equally confused, not expecting any visitors.

He called Plagg and transformed, stepping in front of her. “Who is it?”

“Your father, Adrien. Open the door.” The immaculate and cultured tone of Gabriel Agreste came through the door with little difficulty.

Adrien reached out.

“Wait.”

It was too late.

He opened the door.

Hawk Moth stood on the other side.

Chapter Text

Jerking his leg away, Chat let out a low hiss. His claws scratched against the brick of the rooftop, scraping long marks across its surface.

The deep gash on his leg oozed. Bright red blood stained his thigh and the magic suit he wore.

“Sorry,” Ladybug mumbled.

“It’s okay. Keep going.”

Brilliant green eyes regarded her shaking hands, his breathing hitching as pain lanced through him. Tears rimmed her eyes, ready to soak through her mask. She blinked them back, a stray one breaking free.

“You’re doing fine, my Lady.” Loosening his hold on the brick, he reached out to cup her cheek. “This wasn’t your fault. I knew the Cure wouldn’t fix me when I pushed you out of danger, but I did it anyway. I’d do it again and again as long as you remain safe. You’re all that matters to me.”

The dam broke. Tears cascaded past her mask and onto her cheeks, traveling further. Fat drops dripped from her chin and soaked through the top of her magic suit. They stung the scraps along her cheek and neck where rubble from the collapsing building had struck her.

“You matter to me, Chat.” She swiped at her tears, a wasted effort as they continued to fall. “You can’t keep doing this for me. It hurts too much seeing you like this.”

She picked up a new swab and eyed his wound. The oozing had slowed, but the deepness promised stitches. Taking a breath, she continued her earlier cleaning, ridding it of debris.

“I can stitch it if it’s too much,” he whispered before his teeth sank into his lip. Another low hiss cut off his next words as his eyes slammed shut, sparing her their haunting green glow. His hand to his side, his claws digging into his palm.

She had no intention of letting him down, determination steeling her nerves and calming her shaking hand. Chat Noir had saved her life, and she’d be damned if she let him handle any wound care on his own.

“I’ve got it.” She set aside the swab and picked up the needle and thread she’d found in the first aid kit. “I do wish we had found a more sterile environment. This could get infected, Chat.”

“I’ll be fine, my Lady. Just do what you need to do.”

She threaded the needle and leaned in to better inspect her next task. Tossing him a final glance, she whispered, “I’m so, so sorry, Chaton, but this is going to hurt.”

He flashed her a half-hearted grin. “It’s okay. I trust you, my Lady.”

The next half-hour would feel like an eternity for them both.

Chapter Text

“Well, well, what do we have here?” Chat Noir grinned from the small ledge he sat on. “Such a beautiful princess such as yourself shouldn’t be out in weather like this. Don’t you know you’ll catch a cold?”

Marinette ignored the infamous villain. She kept her eyes focused on the sidewalk ahead, determined to make it home in one piece. Something she knew wouldn’t be accomplished if she allowed this once-hero to distract her.

Rain poured down in giant sheets, drenching unprepared pedestrians.

The summer shower had been most welcome after the months of draught they’d been experiencing.

Marinette would’ve appreciated it more if she hadn’t needed the day to shop for fabrics and other sewing notions. A seamstress’s job was never dull, she mused, juggling the multitude of packages in and over her arms.

“Not a talkative one in the light of day, are you? You had plenty to say the other night,” he paused, his grin growing, “when you reamed me for being such a disappointment to the people of Paris.”

She froze. “You deserved it. The people of Paris are suffering, and you have the power to fix it.”

“Maybe you’re right, but then, you don’t know the whole story.” He hopped down, landing within centimeters of her position.

She stared at him, waiting to see what he might do. Her arms loaded down, she was defenseless against whatever harm he might do to her. Even at a disadvantage, she knew she’d fight him tooth and nail, not daring to think he might grant her mercy.

“Walk you home, purrincess?” He purred the nickname while producing an umbrella.

With a flick of his wrist, it popped open with a loud thud.

She jumped back in surprise, nearly upending herself into a muddy puddle. A squeak fell from her lips as she feared the ruination of her hard day’s shopping efforts.

His hand gripped her wrist and kept her upright, holding tight as she righted herself and her packages.

“I’m good,” she whispered, not quite daring to meet his eyes. “Thank you.”

Her heart thumped hard, warmth suffusing her and radiating from where he’d touched her. Her wrist burned from the contact, a curious reaction to Paris’s greatest supervillain since Hawk Moth.

He cleared his throat. He appeared almost as uncomfortable as she did by their physical contact.

“Interested in that walk home or not?” His voice came out gruffer than before.

She nodded, noting the strengthening storm.

They lapsed into silence as he held the umbrella over her more than him as though he might care about her health more than his own.

When they reached her parent’s bakery, he paused, his eyes widening at the trays of baked treats laid out. His tone held an incredulous note as he asked, “You live here?”

She couldn’t quite suppress the giggle that escaped. “Probably not the best thing for a supervillain to know, but yeah, I live in the top apartment. There’s a little balcony over my room that I enjoy on cozy nights.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” He looked down at her, his eyes narrowing. His brows drew together in contemplation while his lips pulled into a thoughtful frown.

She smiled. “Maybe I don’t think you’re so bad after all. I think there may be some good hidden under all the anger.”

Her smile grew at the shocked look he gave her moments before he covered it with a hearty swagger that did little to convince her otherwise.

Huffing with indignation, he snapped the umbrella shut though he held the door open for her.

Before she could thank him again, he pulled his baton and vaulted toward the opposite rooftop. He turned back, his green eyes focusing on her.

Neither moved for several moments, a connection forming between them. The connection frightened and excited her in a way she hadn’t thought entirely possible, but she accepted it, ready to take on whatever it meant for her.

It seemed to hit at the same.

In the next moment, he dashed across the rooftop and was soon lost to her limited sight in the downpour.

“See you soon, Chat Noir,” she whispered.

Chapter Text

Chat came back to consciousness with a groan. His head ached. His nose and throat burned with whatever chemical had been used to knock him out. Little spots dotted his vision, making everything blurry and out of focus.

A soft feminine moan pulled his attention to the floor in front of him.

“Marinette?” The raspy quality of his voice was most disconcerting. “Mari, talk to me.”

“Chat?” Her hands covered her face, rubbing at her eyes. “What happened? Where are we?”

He glanced around. A glimmer of recognition would’ve been useful, but the place was nondescript and dreary as far as he could tell.

“I’m not sure, but we’re going to figure it out. I promise nothing is going to happen to you.”

Metallic clanks vibrated through his arms. Thick cuffs trapped his wrists at his shoulders. He ignored the discomfort of his predicament, focusing on the woman beside him.

“Can you see a door or some type of exit?”

She looked around. Growing panic tensed her muscles, but she impressed him, refusing to give in.

She shook her head. “Nothing obvious. How did we get here?”

“I wish I knew,” he muttered, dread creeping over him. “If you see a door open, run, Mari. Don’t look back and don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. You’re what matters.”

She met his gaze then, resolution taking over. “I’m not going anywhere without you.”

“You have to.”

Footsteps sounded beyond the walls of their cell, echoing as though they were deep within a mine or cave rather than someone’s home.

“Chat?” Her hands clenched as she shifted into a battle stance.

“They’re coming. Get ready to run.”

Gritting his teeth, he fought the cuffs. If he could manage to touch one, he could call up his special ability and possibly save them both. He kept his eyes on her though, not daring to lose sight of her before their enemy announced their presence.

“Dammit,” he groaned. His wrist couldn’t bend quite the way he’d wanted, meaning Cataclysm was useless.

Near silent hinges alerted him, a large figure filling up the doorway.

“Mari.”

The figure didn’t move.

“Leave her alone,” he shouted. “She’s not part of this. It’s just you and me.”

“Chat?” She risked a glance in his direction. “Is this –”

“Yes, it is.”

Her knees trembled, but she remained upright, earning his respect as she faced the figure in the doorway.

“Free him now.”

The command in her tone impressed him more. Straightening, he faced the man in the doorway, his eyes narrowing on the man he called Father.

Hawk Moth raised his hand and released a glowing purple butterfly.

“Mari, run. Run now.”

She didn’t move. She didn’t have time.

The butterfly settled on the purse at her hip, the eerie mask outlining her eyes.

Chained and defenseless, Chat watched as his father took control of the woman he loved. Black and purple bubbles covering her as they transformed her into his father’s latest minion.

“Handle that cat, will you, Lady Fair?”

Hawk Moth disappeared, the door closing behind him.

“Mari, no.” Chat’s eyes filled with hopeless tears, knowing they were both doomed. “Please, fight him. You can’t give up. Please.”

Her hand caressed his cheek, her eyes covered with a torn cloth. It felt wonderful and torturous to have her hands on him.

He howled when she lowered her hand and placed it over his heart, burning him through his protective suit. Hisses and mews slipped past his lips as he continued to burn beneath her hand.

“Mari, please, stop.”

Her hand’s temperature changed, soothing coolness seeping from her.

“You are pardoned, Chat Noir,” she whispered.

She smashed the locks on his chains and freed him.

A grin slipped over her features. “Now, dear Hawk Moth, it’s your turn.”

Chapter Text

The battle had been rough. The akuma hadn’t wanted to go down easy, leaving Chat Noir little choice but to use his Cataclysm. Screams had rent the air as he’d yanked the akumatized item from the victim’s neck. The butterfly had gotten away, returning to its master.

Chat didn’t care. His focus remained with the woman crouched near the shell of a car below.

“Princess, you okay?” His words came out little more than a whisper upon his approach.

He took care where he stepped. Glass shards and thin bits of metal scattered between him and Marinette. Each crunch beneath his boots sounded like a small gunshot, making his sweet Marinette cringe anew.

Reaching her side took an eternity in his mind, but he made it, dropping onto his knees beside her.

His hands cupped her cheeks and dragged her haunted gaze from the scene in front of her.

“Look at me, princess,” he whispered. “Look only at me.”

She complied, but her eyes had taken on a vacant look.

Chat worked to keep his emotions in check, tears already threatening to spill down his mask. Red covered her, not the lovely red of his partner’s magic suit, but the kind of red you only see when something has gone terribly wrong.

“Are you hurt?”

She didn’t answer him for several seconds, each one torture to endure.

“Mari, please,” he pleaded. “Answer me. Is this your blood?”

Her eyes finally moved, traveling over her soaked clothing and stained arms and legs.

She shook her head.

“Thank god,” he breathed, relief loosening the tension in him. “Can you stand?”

All he got was a shrug.

“Let’s try, okay?” He offered her a small smile while his hands moved to her shoulders and under them, lifting her into a kneeling position. “Almost there.”

It took some effort, but he eventually had her standing, or rather leaning against the totaled car.

She broke down. Tears streamed down her face while sobs wracked her body. Her knees threatened to buckle, undoing his hard work in getting her upright.

Not wasting any more time, he swept her into his arms and launched them skyward, his baton vaulting toward the nearest rooftop. He didn’t bother to stop until he had them safely nestled on her balcony’s lounge chair.

Her tears trekked over the exposed skin of his neck. The sobs had lessened, but she remained lost to him or anyone.

“I’m sorry, princess,” he whispered repeatedly. “I’m so sorry.”

“I tried …”

“I know you did. This wasn’t your fault. None of this is your fault, Mari.” He took a deep breath and held her tighter as he admitted, “It’s mine.”

Her head shook against his shoulder, working to negate what he said.

It made him smile, but it quickly disappeared, knowing he had a bigger problem to handle. Marinette came first, but time would force his hand, making him choose between her and his father.

Gazing down at her, the choice was simple.

“Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

Chapter Text

This can’t be happening, she thought. It simply can’t be.

Hurrying down the street, Marinette tried to clear her mind of the past twenty minutes, not ready to deal with the situation she’d found herself in.

“Hmph.”

In her haste, she didn’t see the man walking in the opposite direction. Their shoulders collided, sending her sprawling across the pavement and his phone with her.

“Oh, man, are you okay?” the vaguely familiar voice asked. “I didn’t see you. I should’ve been paying better attention, but it’s my first time back in Paris and I’m a bit lost, I think. So much has changed.”

She looked up and met the widest green eyes she hadn’t seen in almost ten years. His blond hair had grown out, reaching past his shoulders and tucked back into a neat ponytail.

How could anyone get more handsome than he already was?

“Adrien?”

He smiled. “Yeah. Do I know you?”

She tucked her hair behind her ear though the short strands rebelled, stubbornly returning to their original position after her fall. She refused to let her heart beat with disappointment. It’d been ten years and they’d lost touch, so it made sense he didn’t remember her.

His eyes roved over her. Nothing salacious or crude, mind you. Adrien Agreste was never that kind of guy.

When he met her gaze, his smile widened. “Marinette, wow. Look at you. You’re absolutely gorgeous.”

His hand shot out, which she gladly accepted. A simple tug had her back on her feet though his hand didn’t let hers go right away. It lingered, almost like he’d missed her as much as she had him.

He shook his head, clearing his throat and dropping her hand in the process.

Their moment had ended.

Just as well, she thought. I already have too much on my plate as it is.

“Hey, you sure you’re alright? I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

She glanced up at him, realizing how much taller he’d grown. A good six or seven inches if she had to guess.

Dazzling him with her best smile, she shook her head. “I’m right as rain.”

“Mmhmm.” His finger tapped her nose, reminding her of another blond she once knew. “You always were a terrible liar. Let me buy you a coffee and you can tell me all about it.”

She hesitated. It would be too easy to tell him everything, but she didn’t have the right to burden him with her problems.

“Please, Marinette, let me do this. You helped me a lot back when we were kids.” He reached out for her hand, not quite touching yet welcoming should she accept it.

What did she have to lose?

Her hand slid into his.

He smiled.

They walked to a café on the corner where he ordered for them as she found them a cozy corner table. The café wasn’t too busy for that time of day, which she preferred. One can’t simply bare their soul and possible legal troubles where others might eavesdrop.

He sat across from her a few minutes later, their cups sitting between them along with several packets of sugar and a few mini cups of cream.

Both took what they wanted, blending their coffees to their preference.

After a sip, he asked, “So, what’s going on? You looked upset earlier.”

She expelled a breath. “I’m being blackmailed.”

“What?” His brows drew together. “Who would do that to you?”

“My boss,” she whispered.

“Tell me. Maybe I can help.”

She debated for a half-second before letting the dam burst within her.

Her boss had approved her request for a small advance on her pay, giving her more than she’d asked for. She hadn’t been worried though her next few checks would be smaller than she’d originally anticipated, but she’d been intent on going to an upcoming fashion show in Milan.

That morning, she’d been slapped with the truth of her boss’s generosity.

“She stole your designs and claimed them as her own?”

Adrien looked furious.

She nodded, dejection settling like a heavy blanket on her shoulders. “She said I had to let her or she’d report my advance as deliberate theft from the company.”

He didn’t say anything, his brows furrowing as he took in every detail she’d given him.

“I can’t quit, even if I wanted to. She’d go straight to the top and have me arrested if I tried.”

He reached for her hand, clasping it in both of his.

“Don’t worry, Mari. We’re going to figure this out. You’re not alone in this anymore.”

Chapter Text

Tossing her Lucky Charm into the air, she called forth her Miraculous Cure. She watched with satisfaction as Paris returned once more to its former glory, pristine after her ladybugs were through.

She lifted her hand to bump fists with her partner.

“Pound it,” she whispered, her voice slurring from exhaustion.

Arms wrapped around her as she swayed on her feet.

“I’ve got you, LB.” Chat lowered her to the ground, her head in his lap. “I’m here. I’m right here.”

His voice sounded weird. She couldn’t pinpoint why, but she knew it wasn’t his usual cheery one.

“You okay, Chaton?”

Her vision blurred as she looked up, his face fuzzy around the edges.

He nodded. “I’m okay, my Lady.”

His smile looked off. Was he hurt and trying to hide it from her? Why would he lie? Did her ladybugs not fix him?

“Rest, LB. You’re going to be okay. You hear me? I’m not going to lose you.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead, silent tears dripping onto her cool skin.

His words washed over her, not making any sense.

She struggled to sit up, but he held her firm.

“Don’t look. It’s not pretty, but you’ll be okay. You have to be okay.”

Trailing her hand as far as she could reach, she met the sticky dampness at her side.

“Oh,” she breathed, realization hitting her.

His hands shook as he ran them over her hair.

“Chat, listen.” She licked her lips. “I need a favor if I don’t make it.”

“No, don’t say that. You’re going to be fine. You’re not going to –”

She covered his mouth with her hand though she tried to smile up at him.

Fresh tears filled his eyes.

“Please, Chat, do this for me.”

“Anything. But, my Lady, you can’t leave me alone. I can’t do this without you.”

She swallowed, tears brimming her own eyes. His pain mirrored hers as she laid with him on the sidewalk.

“I’ll do my best.” She stopped to gather herself, recognizing the inevitable. “I need you to tell my parents I love them. My friends, too. Promise me.”

“I promise.”

“You’re so good to me.” She smiled, her eyes closing against the brightness of the sun. She allowed it to warm her against the chill taking over her. “I love you, too, Chat. You’re the best friend, the best partner, I’ve ever had.”

A soft sob wracked his body, vibrating into hers.

She tried to reassure him, but her lips wouldn’t cooperate.

Her body felt heavy and tired, so tired.

“My Lady?” Tears made his voice raspy.

I’m here.

“Please, don’t go. Please.”

Spots off, Tikki. It’s time to let me go.

The magic drained from her. Tikki’s hesitance to leave her touched her, warming her despite the numbing cold.

Don’t cry for me. Just take care of him for me. Please, Tikki.

“Mari?”

Chat’s cry roused her.

“No, no, no. Mari, no, please.” His words flowed with the rapid tears he shed, trickling onto her skin.

Goodbye, Chaton.

Chapter Text

It started with a kiss on the cheek.

Simple. Sweet. Nothing to make a big deal about.

Except that his heart stuttered, then proceeded to pound right out of his chest.

Her smile could kill, he realized, as she aimed it at him.

He touched his cheek, hoping to feel the imprint of her lips a little bit longer.

“What’s wrong, Kitty? You’ve never been kissed before?” Her voice teased at his senses, tantalizing him with a warmth he craved to experience every day of his life.

His flirtatious nature fled. All he had left was spluttering and stammering to carry him.

“Of course, I’ve been kissed before. Look at me. I’m pawsitively irresistible.”

Warmth flooded his cheeks. Embarrassment had painted him a rosy shade from the tips of his ears to the apples of his cheeks. Did he really say that out loud and to Marinette of all people? Could he possibly embarrass himself more?

She giggled, shaking her head at him. “Silly kitty.”

Her lips brushed his cheek again as she passed his spot on her chaise.

He pretended to cough, his clawed gloves moving to cover his overheated cheeks.

Another giggle escaped her. Clearly, he hadn’t fooled her one bit.

“How did I not know you were so mean, princess? I feel like I should’ve seen the signs before now,” he grumbled, doing his best to tamp down his amusement.

Her smile widened. “Such kind words from my fair Kitty. I should send you away before you make me swoon.”

Laughter rumbled from his chest.

“If I truly had that power, princess, then I would be the luckiest cat in the world,” he murmured. “I know you wouldn’t swoon just for anyone but someone very special indeed.”

She sank next to him, their sides touching from shoulder to hip. Her eyes remained locked on her hands as they fidgeted in her lap.

It hit him she’d heard his soft words.

He opened his mouth to apologize, but he never got the chance.

Her lips covered his, locking them in a kiss.

She pulled back after a moment, her eyes downcast. “Sorry. I should’ve asked first or at least warned you I was about to do that.”

“No. Don’t apologize. I liked it.” He brought his hand up to rest under her chin, urging her face upward so their eyes would meet. When they did, he asked, “May I kiss you this time?”

She nodded, a small smile peeking out.

He leaned in and brushed his lips over hers. Repeating the teasing gesture, he finally brought their lips together, sealing his over hers and tasting the elusiveness that was Marinette. Raspberries with a hint of cream. A blend he wouldn’t soon forget, he imagined.

When he left much later than he should’ve, he did so with a skip to his step and a heart floating lighter than it had in a long time.

Who knew a simple kiss on the cheek would lead to so much more?

Chapter Text

“Adrien, be reasonable,” Nathalie said, exasperation lacing her voice.

“No.” Adrien picked up his pace, shouting the word as he went.

Marinette heard the commotion and came racing from the bakery. She charged the last several feet, reaching his side before Gabriel’s driver could lay a hand on him.

“He said no.” She glared at the large man.

Nathalie sighed. “This doesn’t concern you, Miss Dupain-Cheng.”

“Not going to happen.” She placed herself in front of Adrien, blocking him from either Agreste employee. “You want him? Then, you’ll have to go through me.”

“You don’t have to do this, Marinette. It’s not worth it.” Sadness laced his words.

It fueled her anger at them for whatever they planned against him. She straightened her shoulders as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“That’s simply not true. You are always worth it, Adrien.” If she could’ve heard herself, she would’ve freaked out at how well she was handling the situation. Not a stammer to be found in her speech, but then, she never had a problem when she was defending a friend.

“Adrien, I’m not going to ask you again. Get in the car now.” Nathalie’s posture grew more frigid.

“You never asked. That’s the problem. I’m just expected to go because I’m some sort of loyal little servant to my father’s commands.” His voice shook, emotions bubbling over.

She almost dared to look back at him, but she remained strong. If she looked back, she might stammer and that wouldn’t do either of them any good.

“I don’t want to model anymore. I’m so tired of missing out with my friends. I just want to be normal.”

The plea tore at her heart. Her fingers itched to pull him into a tight hug and promise everything would be all right. His friends wouldn’t abandon him for anything, not while she was around anyway.

“You know your father won’t agree with that. You’re not like everyone else, Adrien. You never will be. The sooner you learn and accept that, the better it’ll be for all our sakes.”

The Gorilla-like man moved toward her, his towering figure daunting.

She remained firm. “He deserves a day to himself, a day to simply be. How is that too much to ask? Even as Gabriel Agreste’s son, he deserves to have a day off now and then.”

Nathalie’s hand raised to pinch the bridge of her nose, her eyes tightly clenched shut.

“Stand down,” she muttered to the driver. “I’ll figure it out this time but only this time.”

Marinette watched as the two walked away, her tension holding until the car drove out of sight.

“Thank you, Marinette,” Adrien whispered.

His arms wrapped around her middle and swung her in a circle.

When he set her down again, he smiled down at her.

Her heart clenched at the sight, so pure and wholesome in the open admiration that smile expressed.

“So, now that I have a free day, what would you like to do?”

“Better question is what would you like to do on your free day,” she countered, a small thrill shooting through her at the confidence lacing her voice.

His smile widened as his gaze slid to the bakery.

She had a good idea what he wanted to do with his day off, and she couldn’t think of anything better herself.

Chapter Text

“That’s not right at all.”

Struggling to erase her latest sketch, she soon gave up and tossed her book across her bed. Sheets littered her comforter and floated down to the main floor of her room.

“This really sucks,” she mumbled.

“Oh, Marinette, it’ll get better,” Tikki chirped beside her. “Your arm will heal in a few weeks.”

The little kwami zipped close and rubbed her cheek against Marinette’s, bringing out her first smile for the day.

“Thanks.”

A tap on her skylight announced her new regular visitor.

“It’s open, Chat.”

Clawed hands lifted the pane while green eyes glanced down at the mess surrounding her. His usual smile curved down into a slight frown.

“You’re having a rough day, huh?” He hesitated, his feet adjusting his crouch. “Would you rather I come another time?”

She glanced up and caught the yearning expression he wore.

“Get in here, silly cat.” She tapped the empty space she made with her feet.

He slid into the room and sank onto her bed, taking care of the pages that fell from her sketchbook. He paused on several to take in the details she’d been working on throughout the day.

“These are amazing, Mari.” He held them out to her. “You never fail to astound me with your talent.”

“Flatterer,” she murmured, a faint blush stealing over her cheeks. She glanced at the sketches, still dissatisfied with them. “They’re missing something, but I can’t figure out what it is. I think I’m blocked.”

He nodded. “Being cooped up can’t help, either, huh?”

“No.” She sighed. “I hate being cooped up.”

He reached for her good hand, which she allowed. “I can take you somewhere if you’d like.”

“That’s sweet, Chat, but I don’t think I should.” She motioned at the cast wrapping around her arm. “I’m pretty clumsy.”

“I won’t let anything happen. You can trust me.”

The sincerity in his voice pulled at her, reminding her again of who he was.

She nodded. “I trust you.”

Motioning for him to go first, she scooted along her comforter. It took some work, but she soon rose to her knees, then her feet.

Chat bent low and hooked his arms under hers, lifting her through the skylight with ease.

She offered him a smile as they both stood on her small balcony.

“So, where are we going?”

He swept her into his arms, securing her close to his chest. He checked to ensure her arm wasn’t in danger of being injured further before he reached for his baton. With a soft click, the baton extended to a staff.

It tapped on the ground as he glanced at her, his green eyes glowing with warmth and possibly admiration.

“It’s a surprise.” He leaned closer to whisper, “Trust me?”

“Always.”

He surprised her with a quick kiss to her cheek.

Before she could consider reacting, he hit the button on his staff and vaulted them from her balcony, sending them flying over and across Paris’s cityscape.

As she remained safe and secure in his arms, she realized she didn’t care where he took her. All that mattered was she had the best partner a Ladybug could ever ask for.

Chapter Text

Her world ground to a jarring halt.

Adrien was Chat. Chat was Adrien.

How had she never known that? How could she handle the most convoluted plans to take down akumas and not put together who her partner was?

She stared in horror as Catalyst melted away, revealing a confused Nathalie. White-hot anger rose within her at the sight of Gabriel as he ripped the butterfly brooch from his shirt.

Racing toward her partner, she gathered him close.

The purple butterfly fluttered around them, its magic dissolving even as her partner pleaded for her to cleanse it.

Gabriel and Nathalie sobbed in their separate corners, both lost to what was happening.

She didn’t care, either, as she focused on her energy and her love on the one person who mattered most to her. “Stay with me, Adrien.”

A smile ghosted over his features.

She brought her face close to his, her lips brushing his. “Don’t leave me, Kitty. I love you. You can’t leave me.”

His smile grew a bit wider. “I love you, too, my Lady. I always have.”

Tears gathered in her eyes, hearing the goodbye in his words.

As his eyes slid closed, she cried out for her Lucky Charm, determined not to let him go. Without him, she wasn’t Ladybug. She refused to be.

The small item dropped into her hand, causing a fresh well of tears to pour down her cheeks. The charm matched the one she’d given him a few years back.

His breathing slowed.

“No, Adrien, don’t,” she cried, tossing the charm into the air. She shouted for the Miraculous Cure.

A swarm of ladybugs surrounded them, repairing the damage they’d caused on both sides within the lair and throughout the city.

Several fluttered over Adrien’s limp form, but the place where the blade had gone in remained.

A violent sob shook her.

This couldn’t be happening. She couldn’t be losing her partner, her best friend. She couldn’t lose the only guy who’d captured her attention since the day they’d met.

Picking him up, she glared at Gabriel, who stared back at her with dull blue eyes. Her angry words withered in her throat. She could be angry later. She would be angry later.

It took some adjusting after the few inches Adrien had grown in the past year, but she managed to wrangle her yo-yo and send it and them flying through the lair’s large window.

She didn’t dare look anywhere but her yo-yo’s next destination, determined to get him to the hospital and hope they could repair what her ladybugs couldn’t.

“Stay with me, Adrien,” she chanted in a soft whisper.

Within minutes, she landed at the nearest emergency room doors and called out for help.

Doctors and nurses rushed forward, prying him from her hands and onto a gurney. They rushed him past large electronic doors, out of her sight.

Her knees buckled, sending her to the floor in a sobbing heap.

Another nurse found her and helped her up, walking beside her to a private waiting room.

“You’ll be safe here, Ladybug. No one will bother you here,” she assured. “I’ll let you know about the young man when I can.”

She wouldn’t recall if she said anything to the woman before she’d left to return to her duties. All she’d remember is the eternity that passed from her bringing him there and the nurses return as the sun began to set over the Paris skyline.

“He had a lot of internal injuries, Ladybug,” the woman began, “but he should recover, barring any complications.”

“I want to see him.”

The nurse smiled. “Right this way.”

Walking down one corridor and then another, the nurse opened the door to a room at the end of the hall, pointing inside. “He’s still sleeping, but he should wake soon.”

Ladybug nodded, taking a seat beside the bed. Her eyes didn’t stray from him.

“Hey, Kitty,” she whispered. “I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you.”

Chapter Text

“You’re late.”

Chat dropped onto her balcony with a cheeky grin. “I didn’t know you were expecting me.”

“Just get in here,” she huffed, disappearing from her opened skylight.

He hurried, unsure what had gotten into Marinette yet not daring to question her apparent agitation with him.

Landing on her bed, he kicked his feet out, doing his best to appear nonchalant. The butterflies churning his stomach did little to help, but he didn’t want her knowing her agitation affected him worse than his father’s constant disappointment in him.

“Surprise,” she shouted.

She waved at the large pile of bedding she’d stacked on her chaise and the floor surrounding it.

His eyes widened at the sheer amount. He couldn’t imagine where her parents could possibly store so much in their limited space. He doubted even his massive closet at home could handle such a large amount without putting a sizeable dent into his considerable wardrobe.

“Don’t you know what we’re doing?” She tilted her head as she regarded him, a small frown taking the place of her bright smile. “Have you never built one before?”

“Built what? A bedding shop?”

The frown stretched a bit wider.

“No, a pillow fort.” Her shoulders straightened. “Now, get down here, Kitty. I’m going to show you how it’s done.”

Eager to help, he slid off her bed and joined her.

She hurled a small pile of blankets at him, earning a low grunt for her efforts. A brilliant smile erased the frown she’d worn upon learning one of his sadder secrets. Determination had steeled her as she pointed him toward the far side of her room.

He soon learned a few of her secrets, including spending a lot of her childhood building them. She told him stories about castles and dragons, seaside escapes with mermaids, and other fairytales she’d created. Some of her stories had various classmates while most had her father and mother as her main playmates at one point or another.

She continued to share stories and offer advice as they worked together. She never berated him for messing up when one side tried to flop down or collapse completely. That wasn’t her style, he knew and appreciated, as she made her way toward him. Without a hint of judgment, she’d show him how to set the blanket or pillow properly so it wouldn’t come crashing down around them. Her gentle words encouraged and bolstered him.  

In no time at all, they had her room transformed into a giant pillow fort, complete with snacks and Netflix.

“This really is something, Mari,” he whispered, resting next to her as she queued up another movie. “Thank you.”

“You’ve earned it, Kitty.” Her eyes met his for a brief moment. “It’s been a rough week. I figured you could use a break for one evening.”

Moving closer, he brought his hand up to cup her cheek, contentment warming him as he met her blue gaze and fond smile. “You’re an amazing friend.”

The need to show her how much she meant to him bubbled beneath the surface. Inhaling, he built up the courage to ask her for the one thing he wanted the most at that moment, but she spoke up first.

“So are you,” she murmured. Her eyes drifted back to the tablet she held and widened. “Oh, come on. How is that even possible?”

The mood broken, Chat returned his attention to the screen and grinned. “I don’t know if it’s completely im-paws-ible, but it does look like fun.”

He dared a peek, preening in silence as he caught the faint blush staining her cheeks.

Interesting. Very interesting.

Chapter Text

“You have my earrings,” she spat, her hands fighting the cuffs he’d put on them. “You said you’d let them go if I gave you what you wanted.”

The cuffs refused to budge.

Hawk Moth smiled, cold and calculating. “I think I’ve changed my mind, dear Ladybug, or should I say, Miss Dupain-Cheng? I think I’ll let your friends take a little swim instead.”

“You won’t get away with this.” She seethed, her eyes narrowing.

She refused to let him win. Working to keep herself calm, she focused on anything within the room she could potentially use against him and regain the upper hand.

“I already have.” His mask glowed with a purple butterfly as he communicated with his latest akuma. “Shove them into the Seine but be sure you get Chat Noir’s Miraculous first.”

He turned toward her, his smile sliding into a frown. “Why are you smiling? You and your little friends have lost.”

“So have you if you shove Chat Noir into the Seine.” Taking her time to stand upright, she ignored the throbbing sensations in her wrists where the cuffs had rubbed the skin raw. “You still don’t know, do you? You haven’t figured out who’s behind Chat’s mask.”

His brows drew together, lost in thought at her words.

Retrieving the small earrings from her pocket, she slipped them back into her lobes.

Tikki appeared beside her with a small grin, ready to leap into action when Marinette was ready.

“If you have Chat Noir pushed into the Seine, you’re sentencing your son to death.” She called up her transformation and called for her Lucky Charm.

Hawk Moth, to his credit, rebounded, realizing she’d played him. His cane’s rapier whipped from its holder and struck out.

She dodged it in time but dropped her item along the way. Cursing the restriction of the handcuffs, she managed to grab her yoyo from her hip and knock Hawk Moth back a few feet before his rapier could swing out again.

The fight didn’t last long as she dodged and parried his attacks, retrieving her Lucky Charm and using it to thwart him a final time.

With a final tug, she ripped the Butterfly brooch from his shirt, freeing the akuma of his hold and Nooroo of the evil perpetrated by Gabriel Agreste. Leaning close to him, she whispered, “I hope this was worth all the pain you’ve caused. Have you once considered what this would do to Adrien?”

“I did this all for Adrien.”

She had her doubts but kept her mouth zipped shut, not daring to unleash all the anger she’d built toward him the past couple of years. Instead, she called Chat on her yoyo and told him everything had gone to plan.

Bracing herself, she told him the address of Hawk Moth’s lair.

When she hung up, she dropped her transformation and waited for her partner and their teammates to show up.

Adrien arrived first, dropping his transformation as he rushed to her side. His eyes kept moving between her and his father, almost wishing this was a nightmare he’d soon wake from.

“I’m sorry, Adrien,” she whispered, her arms going around. “I’m so sorry.”

He held her tight, not quite daring to meet his father’s cold eyes.

Gabriel broke the silence. “I did this for you, son. I wanted to undo the mistakes your mother and I made. Bring her back.”

Adrien shook with fury. “You did this for you, Father, not me. I would never want this. I don’t want this. You hurt my friends. You’ve hurt people I love. You’ve hurt Paris all for your selfishness.”

“Adrien –”

“No, you’re through, and we’re finished.”

Marinette fought the urge to pull him back when he leaned close to Gabriel. The malice that had entered his gaze worried her, but she didn’t stop him, not sure she could’ve even if she’d tried.

“I want nothing to do with you ever again.”

Straightening, he reached out for her hand, which she gave without hesitation. “Let’s go, Mari. We’re done here.”

Chapter Text

How their new game started Marinette would never quite recall.

All she’d recall was Chat’s uncanny ability to shimmy and maneuver between the many blankets and pillows to hang upside down from her loft bed.

“Ready to give it a try?” he asked, his green eyes watching her closely.

“Are you sure about this?” She took a hesitant step toward him. “This seems rather crazy, doesn’t it? It’s one thing to attempt an action scene from the movie, but this is different. This could change everything.”

“Nothing has to happen or change if you don’t want it to, Mari.” His voice grew whisper-soft while his eyes softened as he watched her, waiting. His head cocked to one side despite remaining upside down.

His steady patience yet slightly curious yearning beckoned her closer.

Taking care of the fort they’d made in her room, she crept closer. When she stood in front of him, she ran her fingers through his hair, caressing his cat ears and earning a soft purr. She smiled as desire swirled within her.

“Just one kiss, right, Kitty?”

He nodded.

She leaned closer, tipping forward too far. A squeak escaped before she half-fell over her desk, bumping her nose into his chin.

“Ow,” they cried out together.

Both rubbed their small injuries, laughter pouring out of them.

“One more try,” she whispered.

Planting her hands firmly on her desk, she leaned in and brushed his lips with hers.

“Oh,” she breathed, deepening the kiss.

Sparks built within her as their lips melded and moved against one another.

Her hands moved through his hair before going higher to rest against his neck, his blood pounding against her palms.

He pulled away to whisper, “I think I’m falling for you.”

She would’ve giggled if he hadn’t slipped from her loft and destroyed a section of their fort with his landing.

“Are you alright?” She dropped to his side and began to check him for injuries.

He had the nerve to laugh, his eyes glittering with mirth. “I’m fine. Your fort saved me.”

Sobering, he added, “Though, I might’ve ripped a few blankets. I’ll replace them, Mari. I should’ve thought through this little adventure better.”

“I don’t care about the blankets, Kitty.”

Grateful to see him no worse for wear, she leaned close and pressed a soft kiss to his lips, her eyes fluttering shut.

He returned her kiss, his hands running over her arms. The claws left light scratches and gooseflesh in their wake.

She shivered as desire built within her.

“New game,” he whispered, dropping kisses between each word. “Every kissing scene we watch tonight, we reenact. Deal?”

“Will there be less dangerous ones? I don’t think my heart can handle you falling again.”

He nodded, his lips tracing her jaw.

Little nips of his teeth dragged a moan from her throat, her hands sliding down his shoulders to grip the biceps. With the little strength she could muster, she pushed him back, so their gazes met.

“I promise. Only safe kissing reenactments, Mari. I never want to scare or hurt you in any way.”

“I think I can live with that,” she whispered. “So what movie kiss are we trying next?”

He thought for a moment before shoving himself up and tugging at her to follow him.

Next to the stairs of her loft, he rested her against the steps near the middle and leaned over her. “How about the one from Pretty Woman?”

The grin he shot her had her body heating up even as she mirrored his expression with one of her own, her hands already reaching for him.

“I like your style, Kitty.”

Chapter Text

“You did a good job today, Kitty. I’m proud of you.”

His heart beat double time at the way she smiled at him. How he lived for the times when she looked at him like that. It made him believe he might possibly have a chance, that he could possibly earn her love in return.

Nudging her shoulder with his, he murmured, “It’s because I have such a good partner. She’s pretty pawsome.”

A pretty blush stole over her cheeks.

His mind shouted with triumph.

Sirens interrupted whatever she might’ve said. Police cars soon surrounded them on the street.

Officer Roger stepped from his vehicle, a megaphone in hand. “Stop right there, Chat Noir.”

“What’s going on?” Ladybug demanded.

Chat instinctively stepped in front of her, not liking the resigned expressions many of the officers wore.

“Chat Noir, you’re under arrest. Come peacefully. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.” Officer Roger’s voice sounded tired as though he hated his latest task more than anyone.

“You’re kidding me. Chat Noir hasn’t done anything wrong,” Ladybug shouted, her fingers gripping his wrist as several officers advanced toward them. “This has to be a mistake.”

“Sorry, Ladybug, but we have footage and several eyewitnesses. Chat Noir was seen attacking a civilian. The man has the marks to prove it.” He motioned for the officers to cuff Chat and haul him toward the nearest vehicle.

Ladybug refused to let him go. “He’s been with me all morning. There’s no way he attacked a civilian.”

“Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be, Ladybug. Chat’s coming with us until we have this all sorted out.”

Cuffs slammed over his wrists, cinching tight enough to leave marks.

“No, you can’t do this,” Ladybug shouted, moving to stop the officers.

“My Lady, we’ll figure this out. Let them do their job,” he whispered low. “It has to be an akuma pretending to be me. Only you can stop it.”

Her hand came up to his cheek, her eyes taking on a determined gleam. “I’ll get you out of this mess. I promise, Kitty.”

He smiled. “I know you will. You always do.”

The officers urged him toward the nearest patrol car, assisting him into the backseat and slamming the door shut.

He caught sight of Ladybug as she turned to face Officer Roger, her voice rising with her determined anger.

“Who is this supposed victim of Chat’s?”

Officer Roger’s body almost wilted as he said, “Gabriel Agreste.”

No, that can’t be, Chat wanted to scream. He’d never hurt his father. He needed to get out of there. Someone had discovered who he was. They had to know and had gone after the only person that mattered to him more than Ladybug herself. What if they went after his friends next? Nathalie? He couldn’t let that happen.

Ladybug’s eyes met his, her head shaking once.

He paused in his frantic movements, his eyes meeting hers and holding.

The look she’d given him told him all he needed.

He gave her a weak smile, watching as she swung away.

“Thank you, my Lady,” he whispered.

Two officers stepped into the car and drove him toward the police station.

Too bad for them, he had no intention of staying put. After all, he had his family to protect and his name to clear.

Chapter Text

He’d wanted to find Ladybug and take her out for hurting him. She’d rejected him for the last time. The promise of seeing her eyes widen with fear when he took her precious earrings from her. It didn’t matter that he had no intention of giving them to Hawk Moth. He only wanted to hurt her as she’d hurt him.

At least, that’s what he thought he wanted until he’d followed Ladybug. He hadn’t thought to get so lucky when she’d shot her yoyo right past him without seeing him. Bounding after her with his baton, he’d dropped to the rooftop above the alley where she’d gone to drop her transformation and blend back in with the citizens of Paris.

He hissed when the pink magic washed over her, leaving Marinette in her place.

A purple mask lit up around his face.

“Perfect, Chat Blanc. You’ve found the little bug. Now, crush her and get me those earrings.”

He shook his head, fighting the temptation Hawk Moth’s words provoked within him. His head hurt with the effort, but he managed to cry, “I can’t. She’s my friend.”

“This is what you wanted, Chat Blanc. You wanted to make Ladybug pay for her constant rejections. This is what you wished for when you accepted my gift to you. Now, do as I command or suffer.” The hard edge in Hawk Moth’s voice promised severe consequences for Chat’s disobedience, a familiarity in his tone pulled out Chat.

He continued to fight. He couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t.

“This changes nothing, Chat Blanc. Take her out now and get her earrings.”

“No,” he screamed back, alerting others to his presence on the rooftop.

Marinette glanced up with wary eyes, meeting his gaze for a brief time.

“Run,” he shouted. “Get out of here.”

She hesitated, torn by her need to help him.

He lowered his tone, softening his words. “Go, Marinette. I won’t let him hurt you.”

Several people began to murmur on the streets, forcing him to move from his spot above the alleyway.

He glanced back to see Marinette running in the opposite direction, but he caught her determined stride, knowing she wouldn’t give up on him. He’d keep her secret as safe as he could, protecting her from anything else Hawk Moth could throw at her.

“Do your worst, Hawk Moth,” he whispered as the purple mask lit up brighter than before.

His legs buckled before he cleared a meter, Hawk Moth’s torture too much to bear. His claws dug into his hair as he fought against the pain surrounding him, engulfing him far more than loneliness and grief had ever done to him.

An eternity passed before Hawk Moth relented, his voice cold and indifferent to Chat’s plight. “Next time, be careful what you wish for.”

The connection broken, Chat moved to his knees, shaking with the effort.

“I’m here, sweetheart. I’m here,” a feminine voice crooned in his ear.

Arms surrounded him, a familiar scent enveloping him. He hadn’t smelled that particular scent in so long. He’d almost forgotten what she smelled like or how warm her hugs had been.

“Maman?”

“I’m right here, sweetheart.” She ran her hand across his back. “I’m not leaving you ever again.”

He raised his gaze to hers and bit back the curse coming to his lips. “You’re not my mother.”

“Of course, I am, sweetheart.”

He shook his head. The woman holding him couldn’t be real. He knew it like he knew Marinette was Ladybug. This woman had some of his mother’s physical characteristics. That was clear to see as she had one green eye so like his own. The other eye had a spotted mask covering its bright blue iris, reminding him of his dearest friend and partner. He ached to reach out and apologize to her for causing her such trouble these last several weeks, but he kept his hand at his side.

Her hair bore some resemblance to his with its wild blonde streaks though they were tamed by the bluish-black ones. Scooped into one long ponytail, she looked the perfect mixture of the two most important women in his life.

“Why are you here?” he asked to fill the uncomfortable silence. “Are you here to torture me? Are you some illusion created by Hawk Moth?”

“Oh, no, sweetheart, I’m here to help you.”

Maybe Hawk Moth was right, he thought as he continued to stare at the hallucination sitting in front of him, touching him. Maybe he really should’ve been careful what he wished for.

Chapter Text

“Bad day, Kitty?” Marinette asked as Chat dropped through her skylight, something she’d been keeping open lately for him.

“Not really.” He didn’t quite meet her gaze when she turned toward him.

Concerned, she pushed her chair back and gave him her undivided attention. Something wasn’t quite right with her Chat, and she wouldn’t stop until she knew the truth. “Start talking, Kitty.”

His hands raked through his hair, unmindful of his ears. His eyes refused to meet hers as he warred with whatever demon haunting him.

At last, he sighed. The sound held a weird mix of hope and resignation, setting her on high alert to his current state.

Nothing prepared for the words that followed.

“Do you wanna play a game, milady?” His eyes collided with hers, that same mixture lurking in their depths.

“Uh, sure. We can play a game. I have Ultimate Mecha Strike and Max’s new game if you want to try something different.” She leaned toward her desk, her fingers shaking as her concern for her partner grew. Something was off, but she didn’t dare try and guess with what little she knew about his civilian life.

“Not one of those,” he began, pausing to gather his courage. He swallowed a couple of times before he continued, “I saw this game online and thought it might be fun.”

The air crackled between them with an anticipation she hadn’t quite expected.

“What game is that?”

What looked like a blush brightened his cheeks as he sputtered and choked, unsure he’d heard her correctly for a moment.

“It’s one with only one rule,” he managed to say, his voice dropping low. “The first to moan loses.”

Heat rushed through her system and sent her heart pounding in her chest. Surely she’d misheard him. He couldn’t possibly be insinuating a game like the one that came to mind. One that she’d heard Alya and Nino discussing would be the perfect breaker for her and Adrien should she ever get the nerve. A game that she doubted she’d ever have the nerve to play with her longtime crush, not in a million years with the ways things currently stood between them.

His blush heightened more as his pupils blew wide. “Not what I meant, I swear.”

His hands rushed in front of him, shaking in the hopes of dispelling whatever images she might’ve conjured. Sadly, it did little to stop those very images from flitting through her mind on a loop, her own cheeks heating with the implications.

“I was thinking we could make it more an innocent one. It can be groans, too, or purrs, not just moans.”

Choking on air, it took her far too long to form a reply.

“That’s not any better.”

His hands slapped his cheeks and remained, covering his face and smothering whatever words he tried to force out as an explanation.

“I know,” he cried, his hands not leaving his face. “I should go before I make it worse.”

Not wanting him to leave, she leaped from her chair and yanked on his tail, cringing when he yowled at her less-than-gentle tug.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “Don’t go. Stay and tell me what’s going on.”

He crouched back into his place on her bed, his eyes studying her.

Bolstered by his staying, she climbed the stairs to her loft and sank next to him. She kept a respectable distance between them, a little too aware of him after the bombshell he dropped.

“Why do you want to play that particular game, Kitty?” she asked, her voice whisper-soft. If she spoke any louder, she feared he might bolt, or her parents would sense the sudden change in her room and possibly come to investigate.

He shrugged his shoulders though he remained a bit tense with her proximity.

“You know why, so please, just tell me. Why do you want to play this game with me?”

His eyes closed, clenching as he fought another internal battle.

Seeing the mixture of hope and resignation changing into disappointment, she reached out and touched his shoulder. The muscles bunched upon contact, but she ignored it, her hand rubbing small circles in his super suit. A low purr rumbled from his chest.

Smiling for the first time, she couldn’t help but tease. “I don’t think you’d last very long, Kitty. You’re already purring, and we haven’t even started.”

The purr ceased as he focused on her, his eyes back to their natural cat-like state.

“If we were playing for the stakes I have in mind, I could hold out. I know I can.” His voice held a sullen quality that didn’t quite match the determination she caught in his gaze or the way his body shifted toward her.

His hand clasped hers, bringing her fingers to his lips and brush a kiss across the knuckles.

Heat swept through her like a wildfire through an unsuspecting forest.

“What stakes are those? What did you have in mind?”

He offered her a real smile as he whispered, “If I win, I get to tell you who I am and how much I’ve loved you since the day our eyes first met, milady. I also get to take you out on a real date, no masks and no secrets.”

She gulped. “And if I win?”

“If you win, then I’ll accept whatever demands you ask of me. Make me your servant or whatever you want. All I ask is you don’t send me away.” His voice broke on the last, turning whatever else he said into pure gibberish.

She released his shoulder to cup his cheek. Tears sparkled in her eyes. “I would never do that, Kitty. I promise you I won’t ever send you away.”

Emboldened by the hopeful look returning to his eyes, she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Let’s play. Be warned. I have no intention of losing this game. I know exactly what I want when I win.”

 

00000

 

He put up a good fight, hitting her with a number of terrible puns and cheesy jokes he’d learned the past few days. She’d tossed them right back with a few of her own, a smile playing across her lips at her cleverness.

In the end, he couldn’t win against her secret weapon. All it’d taken was a sneak scratch of his kitten ears, and he’d purred like she’d unleashed a hundred cats from captivity.

“No fair,” he grumbled. His purr drowned out the words, but she’d gotten the gist by the look he shot her. That betrayed look she’d seen on his face only a few times in their years of acquaintance. “You used my weakness against me.”

“I did, didn’t I?” She shot him an unrepentant look. “I guess now it’s time to pay up, Kitty.”

“Go easy on me, please, milady.” His purring died down, giving her a chance to hear the soft whimper in his words. Fear laced them as much as a sliver of hope did.

Tapping her finger on her chin, she watched him fidget in his spot beside her chaise. His gloved claws scraped his super suit, the sound almost soothing if it weren’t for the tension she witnessed building within him.

“I want …”

She let the words linger in the air around them. It wasn’t often she had the chance to make her partner squirm.

When his eyes met hers and begged for mercy, she relented, leaning forward to wrap her arms around his shoulders. Her lips pressed close to his ear so she could whisper, “I want you, my sweet and loyal Kitty, to tell me who you are and take me on a proper date.”

His breathing hitched as he struggled to shift in her hold.

She dropped her arms to her sides, so he could.

His eyes slammed into hers, boring deep in the hopes of reading her thoughts.

“What’s changed, milady? You’ve never wanted to know before.”

“Let’s say, I have my suspicions,” she murmured, reaching out to shift a stray lock from his eyes. “I want to see if I’m right, and I’m ready to face whatever the future and Hawk Moth might have in store for us, with and without our masks.”

He hesitated. His lips opened and closed a few times as though he might argue after all the times she’d been so adamant.

In the end, he whispered the words to drop his transformation.

When the bright green light faded, she smiled, reaching for him once more. Her hands cupped his cheeks as she leaned in close to whisper, “I’m so glad I won.”

Chapter Text

“Oh, my gosh, you’re too cute,” she cooed over them. “I can’t believe how cute you are together. Oh, we’re going to have to make this a regular thing.”

“Stop it! Adrien, make her stop it. I can’t stand it. This isn’t funny. I’m a magical being, not some little creature for her to dress up on a whim,” Plagg whined, zipping to his holder for protection.

Adrien fought back laughter, biting his lip. When he had enough control, he managed to say, “I think you look quite handsome. Mari did a great job on your little suit.”

Plagg shot him a death stare. “She made this for a hamster.”

“Yeah, but at least we match.” He struck a few poses, much to Marinette’s delight and Plagg’s growing horror. “Plus, Tikki will have a nice date, won’t you, Tik?”

The ladybug kwami floated over to him and nuzzled his cheek. “I certainly will. You do look handsome, Plagg.”

Still grumbling, Plagg tolerated the alterations Marinette wanted to make on his little outfit.

At one point, she leaned close to whisper, “Wait until you see our outfits. I think it’ll make up for enduring the little suit.”

He shot her a sourpuss expression that had Adrien biting his lip again. Laughter threatened to bubble out of him at the sight before him.

“Don’t worry, Plagg. I doubled my typical order of Camembert just for this event. I had a feeling you would need it.”

The little black cat zipped back to Adrien’s side, nuzzling his cheek and whispering how much Adrien had always been his favorite holder.

Another half-hour passed before Marinette declared them ready. Gathering up a garment bag and a small accessory bag, she motioned for Tikki to follow her into the bathroom.

“We’ll be right back, you two.” She shot them both warning glares as she added, “Behave. I finally have this room the way I want it.”

“Yes, milady.”

“No promises, Spots.”

“Mess up this room, little cat, and you’ll find that suit is the least of your worries,” she promised before ducking into the bathroom and closing the door firmly behind her.

Plagg had the good sense to shake at her words. “She can’t possibly mean it, can she?”

“I don’t know. Mari’s pretty good at bringing about justice in her own creative way. I don’t think it’d be smart to test her after all the work she’s done in here since your last destructive mood.”

That brought a resounding shudder and brought out Plagg’s elusive angelic side, sitting on a table and merely looking around.

When the two emerged from the bathroom, both he and Plagg gasped.

Recovering first, he held out his hand to her and whispered, “Milady, you are breathtaking.”

“Thank you, Chaton.”

Her cheeks tinged a warm pink that had his flirtatious nature rearing its head, determined to make her blush throughout the entire premiere that evening.

“You’re pretty cute, Sugar Cube. The blue suits you.”

Tikki’s eyes widened as she glanced at Plagg. A soft giggle floated from her as she thanked him for the rare compliment.

“Shall we?” Adrien asked, offering his arm to Marinette.

Plagg mimicked him, escorting Tikki to the special purse designed specifically for them at Marinette’s hip.

Marinette took his arm, her smile genuine as she said, “We shall.”

Chapter Text

“That’s a thoughtful expression you’re wearing, princess,” Chat murmured in her ear. His grip tightened around her as he continued his race over the rooftops toward her small balcony. “Care to share what you’re thinking about with this tomcat.”

His teasing smirk slipped when he caught the frown she wore.

“Why do you do that?”

The words whispered over him, bringing his greatest fears to the forefront.

Not ready to dwell on those fears, he focused his attention on the next rooftop, taking care with the precious cargo he held close.

“I haven’t the faintest clue what you mean. What do I do?” He prayed his tone came off lighter than he heard with his own ears.

She wasn’t put off, her hands adjusting around his neck. Her head returned to its spot on his shoulder, almost as if it belonged there. Her words came out soft but packed a mighty punch. “You make these demeaning remarks about yourself. Don’t you know how truly wonderful you are? How truly lucky I am to have you in my life?”

His heart skipped a beat, and his feet threatened to trip over themselves at her words. He managed to keep them upright through sheer force of will.

“You might have to remind me again when I get you home.” He paused before the next rooftop, spotting her balcony a few bounds and leaps away. Nuzzling her hair, he whispered, “If I’m so wonderful, it’s only because I have you in my life, making it so much richer than I ever thought possible.”

Dropping onto her balcony, he held her a moment longer, not quite ready to let her go. He leaned against the railing and took her slight weight against him to ground himself. The power of her presence never failed him to calm him, soothe him even as it exhilarated him, energized him.

“Now, I think it’s you who is thinking too hard,” she mumbled against his shoulder, a smile in her voice. “You want to tell me what’s going on inside that wonderful mind of yours.”

Sliding her against him so she stood within his arms, he cradled her close, his head resting on her hair. He took special care with the claws on his gloves as he rubbed comforting circles along her back, soothing himself in the process.

“You can tell me anything, Chat,” she whispered. Her arms wove around his middle, her fingers lacing at his side. “That was a nice date. The lady who holds your heart will love it. I know I did. Thank you for letting me be the test run. It was a nice experience.”

That hit him like a sucker punch to the gut, threatening to buckle him.

He took a steadying breath, hoping his voice wouldn’t break as he prepared the words he’d been wanting to say all evening. When he felt calm enough, he said, “Princess, you weren’t a test run. You’ve never been a test run, not for a long time. There’s only been one lady to ever hold my heart, and that’s you.”

She sucked in a breath, surprise stiffening her against him.

Lifting his head, he met her bluebell eyes with a soft smile. “You’re absolutely wonderful, Marinette, and I’d really like to kiss you after this amazing evening you granted me. Please, may I kiss you, my sweet princess?”

She took a while to answer, nodding once even as her eyes fluttered closed.

A shudder ran through him. Anticipation and admiration for the woman in his arms filled him.

Lowering his head, he stopped a breath away from her lips, taking in the soft breaths she expelled and the fragrance that he’d come to associate with her. Something sweet that would no doubt haunt him for the rest of his days in the most delicious of ways.

He allowed himself a single brush of his lips against hers, telling himself he could be content with the brief contact.

That thought shattered when she groaned with frustration and sought his lips with hers. Their noses bumped before she’d found what she’d sought, sealing them in a searing kiss that promised brilliance and shared moments.

When she broke the kiss, her eyes fluttered open, and she offered him a hopeful smile. “I’d really like to do that again.”

He was all too happy to oblige.

Neither moved from their spot on her balcony for quite some time, the cool night air doing little against the warmth that radiated between them.

Chapter Text

"Alright, Chat, out with it," Marinette demanded. Her arms crossed over her chest as she stared at her forlorn partner. "I know something's bothering you, and we're not playing another match until you start talking."

"I don't know what you mean, Maribug." His eyes took on an innocent gleam, one she didn't believe for a second. "Nothing's wrong. In fact, I'm feline just fine."

She snorted at that. 

Her gaze dropped to the special treat she'd made him. "I know you better than that. You're my partner. You can tell me anything that's bothering you."

"Drop it, please, my lady," his voice pleaded. "There's nothing you can do about it anyway."

She thought about his words for a moment. It wasn't fair, but her own resolve in keeping his identity safe had its drawbacks. While he knew who she was behind the mask, she remained staunchly adamant in keeping his intact for the sake of his safety. 

However, she knew she couldn't let him continue to wallow in his silent misery without at least trying to help.

"No can do, Kitty. You killed them," she gestured at the slain gingerbread superheroes on the plate between them, "but spared me. I think you did that on purpose because I can help. So tell me, why am I so special? How can I help?"

He opened his mouth as though to argue, but he snapped it shut. His head swiveled back to her computer screen, his gaze locked on the fallen cat bot he'd chosen to battle against her ladybug one. 

Knowing she couldn't let him leave her room without making sure he'd be fine, she placed her hand on his arm. 

He resisted her at first, but she scooted closer, her hand inching up his arm to his shoulder. 

When she had moved close enough, she cupped his neck and tugged him into her arms, his head resting against her chest. 

"Come on, Kitty. It can't get better unless you talk about it." Her hand rubbed the soft material of his suit. "I can be your safe space, your haven against the world if you'd like me to be."

Trembling arms wrapped around her waist, claws catching in the fabric of her shirt. They tightened as his entire body began to shake with the emotions he finally allowed to release. Tears leaked onto her skin while pink cotton absorbed them.

Soft shushing breathed past her lips though she refused to let him go. 

Several minutes passed. 

She continued to hold him, accepting the onslaught he unleashed in her arms. 

When he pulled away sometime later, she let him go, taking care not to push him in his subdued state. He'd talk when he gathered himself enough, she knew. 

His breathing came in short puffs, his clawed gloves swiping at the remnants of tears coating his cheeks. 

Unable to help herself, she leaned forward and brushed a kiss across his cheek. With a whisper, she confessed, "I love you, Chat Noir."

The smile he gave her sent her heart pounding double-time in her chest and blood rushing through her ears. If she didn't know better, she'd say Hawk Moth had unleashed a slew of butterflies in her middle. She hadn't a clue when her feelings had changed, but they'd softened considerably for her sweet partner in the time since his first visit a few months back. 

"I love you, too, my lady," he whispered back. "I know you think I'm playing some game, but I'm not. I love you with everything in me."

Sweeping aside the intruding memories of every instance she shot him down, she leaned into him. Her hands cupped his cheeks as she offered him her sweetest smile. 

"I'm sorry I didn't believe you before, Kitty." She took a breath and continued on, "I should've, but I think I was scared. It was easier having a crush on someone in my civilian life than it was you. It was the safer choice, but I don't want to make the safe choice anymore."

That had his attention. His head tilted while his cat ears perked at her words. 

She smiled at the cute image he made. 

"What are you saying, my lady?" A hopeful expression glowed across his features. 

Her smile widened. "I'm saying I choose you, Kitty. I don't want to deny what I've been denying for far too long." 

With her hands still cupping his cheeks, she shifted to capture his lips with hers in the first kiss they'd shared without worrying about anyone forgetting it. The kiss was enough to rock her world yet settle her heart as she made her choice. She'd chosen her other half, and there was no turning back after this moment between them. 

"Am I dreaming?" he asked when their kiss came to an end. His forehead rested against hers as their soft pants mingled. "Did I dream this entire thing to make myself feel better after making a fool of myself?"

"You are no fool, Kitty, and you're not dreaming." 

She shifted in an effort to get closer to him, but the plate she'd brought to her hindered her. Glancing down, she caught sight of her superhero self staring back at them. 

Stifling a giggle, she held up her gingerbread self up and asked, "So, why did you spare me anyway? Poor Rena and Carapace. You even ate yourself."

"Because, Maribug," he paused, his hand reaching for the plate and moving it to her desk, "as dark as my world is, you are my light, my guide. What pieces, and they are pieces, I have to give, I want to give them all to you. If you'll let me?"

Moved by his words, she closed the distance between them. When she came within a breath of his lips, she whispered, "Only if you'll let me do the same. Together, we are whole and always will be, my sweet Kitty."

Chapter Text

They say all it takes is a single kiss with your soulmate, and you'll gain a glimpse of your future together. Many don't find their soulmates throughout their lives, but others are luckier. This is one of those stories. It all takes place one holiday season.

*****

"Oh, girl, this scarf is amazing. I can't believe you made each of us one," Alya said. Her hands rubbed over the soft wool that wrapped around her neck. An excited smile beamed as she continued to admire the hard work Marinette had put into the winter accessory. 

Marinette's own smile glowed with pleasure at her friend's enthusiastic response to the simple gift. 

Around them, several others entered the classroom and took in the box sitting on top of their desks. Some glanced at Marinette with surprise while others simply dove into unwrapping the box and revealing the scarf she'd made them. 

In a soft tone, she answered the unasked question within Alya's words, taking care not to let others overhear her. "It's the least I could do for everyone in our class. We all have worked so hard this year to make it the best one possible. I made each one to compliment either the person's favorite color or their personality."

She glanced at the scarf Alya's hands hadn't stopped touching and added, "I hope you like the color. I thought the burnt orange would pair well with your skin tone."

"Girl, it's perfect," Alya pulled her into a hug, "Thank you for this. I can't wait to show it off to everyone."

"Hey, dudettes, how are you this fine day?" Nino asked, taking his seat in the row ahead of them. He spied the box Marinette had left but ignored it as he took in the scarf wrapped around Alya's neck and her appreciation of it. "Cool scarf, Al. That color is perfect for you. Reminds me of your favorite superhero besides Ladybug." 

Alya's smile grew wider at his words though her eyes had taken on a speculative gleam. 

Marinette quickly turned away before potentially probing questions could be asked. She glanced at the door in the hopes another classmate would walk in and save her from those darn questions.

Her luck held out as Adrien strolled through the door with a rare smile tilting his lips upward. 

"Hi, Adrien," she called out, fighting the faint blush working its way into her cheeks. "How was your evening?"

"Not too terrible actually." He settled in his seat, spotting the gift a moment later. His fingers brushed over the bow with a reverence she'd forgotten since her gift she'd given him. He didn't bother to read the tag as he removed the wrapping, taking care not to destroy it. 

When he pulled out the scarf, his entire body lit up. Without waiting a moment longer, he slid it over his shoulders and wrapped it snug around his neck. Like Alya's, his fingers traced the pattern of the stitches while he admired the grey-blue color she'd chosen for him. 

Twisting in his seat, he turned toward her and whispered, "Thank you, Marinette. It's the best gift I've ever gotten."

Her blush broke through, not caring how hard she fought or resisted its appearance across her cheeks or the tips of her ears. 

She managed not to stammer as she said, "You're welcome, Adrien." 

Ms. Bustier's appearance had everyone hurrying to put their handmade scarves away, so that class could begin. Though, their teacher offered them a few extra moments as she opened the box on her desk and fingered the fine craftsmanship of her scarf. The chevron pattern of blue and white had been a pain, but seeing Ms. Bustier's pleasure made it all worth it in Marinette's mind. 

Ms. Bustier slipped the scarf into her briefcase, and class officially began for the day. 

Marinette tried to pay attention, but her gaze kept getting pulled in all directions as she witnessed everyone's pleasure at her simple gift for them. She'd have to try and top it again the following year, their final year before everyone left for university and life beyond Francois Dupont.

Unknown to her, a pair of green eyes couldn't quite keep themselves focused on the lesson, either. Their gaze kept darting behind them to her and enjoying the way she beamed at seeing her hard work in the hands of others. If they enjoyed the view a little too much, they couldn't be faulted. After all, Marinette was their everyday Ladybug, and she was an amazing person. 

 

00000

 

Later that evening, she touched down on the rooftop she'd discovered in a previous year as Ladybug. It hadn't taken her or Chat Noir long to claim the spot as their own after their nightly patrols.

A smile spilled onto her lips, catching sight of her partner. His attention was drawn to the skyline and the few stars they could make out beyond the clouds. Tiptoeing closer, she managed to surprise him with the wrapped box she'd brought, whispering, "Happy Christmas, Kitty." 

"Aw, Bugaboo, I didn't bring you anything." He tossed her a pout though it didn't last long. His attention had been diverted by the bright wrapping paper and the silky ribbon she'd tied around it. "So, I guess I ranked as a good Chat this Christmas, huh?"

She laughed. "You're always a good Chat, you know that. Now, open your gift. I want to see what you think."

His claws made quick work of the wrapping, the paper shredding under them until the plain box came into view. 

She thought she caught sight of him cringing at the way his claws ruined the paper, but she couldn't be sure. Something about it sparked a sense of deja vu, but she shook off the sensation. 

He slowed down as he reached the box's top flap. Taking a quick breath, he popped it open and stared inside. His eyes bulged while his mouth dropped open.

Concerned, she leaned forward. "Do you like it?"

His gaze moved toward her, his shocked expression intact. No words left him. He continued to stare at her. 

Her concerning ratcheting further, she rested her hand on his shoulder and brought her face close to his. She feared her gift had upset him, but his expression didn't jive with that emotion in her mind. Confused, she asked, "What's going on, Kitty? Do you not like it? It's okay if you don't. I can make you another if it's not to your liking. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you as my partner and my friend. Because, you are amazing and I can't imagine doing this without you." 

His mouth closed, and he swallowed several times. His shock had waned enough that his gaze had taken on a searching expression, almost like he could dive deep into her soul and find whatever answers he needed. 

"You gotta talk, Kitty," she whispered. 

He broke out laughing. His arms came around his middle and held tight as the laughter poured out of him, mirthful tears gathering in the corners of his eyes. When he could finally manage a few words, he said, "I'm such an unbelievable idiot. I should've seen it sooner." 

"What are you talking about?" she demanded, her arms crossing over her chest. She huffed at his total reversal in behavior. "Actually, never mind. I don't want to know. I should get home before it gets any later." 

"My lady, wait," his hand shot and clasped her wrist, "please, don't go. I love the scarf. Really, it's wonderful, and I can't wait to show it off on our next patrol." 

"You're sure? You're not trying to placate me?" She paused as a thought occurred to her, spurring her to ask, "How did you know it was a scarf? You never took it out of the box." 

His familiar smile crept into place, sending her nerves jangling. Her Kitty could be extremely intelligent and quite crafty when he wanted to be. 

"Can I show you how?" He waited for her nod before adding, "It'll mean doing something you've never wanted to do with me before, but I think it'll answer your question best." 

That brought her up short. "What do you mean? What are you up to, Chat?"

"On my honor, I'm only wanting to show you the truth that's been staring at us since the beginning." He set the box next to him and moved into a crouch beside her. He released her wrist and place both his hands on her cheeks, his thumbs grazing against the lower edge of her mask. "One kiss, my lady. That's all I ask."

She shoved down her initial response, sensing to deny his request would mean letting something fundamental go unanswered. It took her several moments, but she finally managed to nod, unaware she'd leaned into his touch and closed the space between them. 

"Trust me," he whispered before he brushed his lips over hers.

When they settled over hers in the first kiss they'd both remember, she gasped against him though she didn't dare pull away. 

Images flooded her mind, broken yet searing in their intensity. 

Chat Noir dropping onto a beautiful balcony full of flowers and transforming into Adrien Agreste as he reached for her. Adrien holding her close as she accepts his marriage proposal. Her walking toward him in a beautiful wedding dress. The birth of their first child and Adrien holding the baby for hours, entranced by the tiny one's beauty. The downfall of Hawk Moth and Paris experiencing peace at last while giving the heroes a chance to enjoy their lives as normal civilians once more. Birthdays, Christmases, and so much more spent as a family, welcoming two more children as she'd always envisioned for them. 

Each one filled her heart full, threatening to overflow. 

Channeling that love, she poured it into the kiss, hoping Chat could feel her love. Her hands crept up and settled against his chest, his heart pounding beneath her fingertips as he experienced the same images. 

The need for air pulled them apart. 

She gasped, her head resting against his chest. "I'm going to freak out about this later, but oh, that was all I could imagine and more. Oh, so much more, Kitty. I've been so blind, and I'm so sorry. I pushed you away because I was in love with you." 

"We were both fools, my lady," he pressed a soft kiss to her temple, "but now we know. We can both do better. Just so you know, I love both scarfs you made me for Christmas. They are the best gifts I could've ever asked for."

She smiled. "I'm glad. You deserve the best, Kitty."

"So do you," he dropped his voice to a whisper, "Marinette, and I aim to make sure you never regret trusting me and allowing me our first kiss without knowing why." 

"I will always trust you, Adrien," she whispered back. "You are my partner and soulmate. You're all I could've asked for in both." 

They settled closer together on their rooftop, her head moving to his shoulder as they watched the Paris skyline. The evening couldn't have been more perfect if either had tried. Their hearts full of love and certainty, they continued holding each other long after they should've gone home, not quite ready to say goodbye, but they eventually did, knowing they'd see the other soon enough. 

After all, they'd seen what the future held for them.

Chapter Text

Marinette's journey across the city's skyline led her to the small park near her home. She smiled at the lights they'd set up, each one twinkling and sparkling against the night sky. She had every intention of enjoying the view as she passed by, intent on getting home and back to her homework, but a lone figure standing near the park's entrance caught her attention. 

She'd recognize that blond mop anywhere, changing her trajectory and landing several feet from him. 

"Good evening, Adrien," she said with a smile spreading across her features. "Isn't it a bit late to be out?"

He returned her smile though it didn't quite reach his eyes as she'd hoped it would. 

Taking a step closer, she nodded at the lights. "They're pretty at night, aren't they?"

"Yeah, they are." He didn't move closer to her or the lights. Instead, his feet did a stationary shuffle beneath the large archway. "I haven't seen them since my mother disappeared. It was something we always did together when I was younger. It's not the same without her."

She clipped her yoyo to her waist and approached him, taking the initiative for once. She stretched out her hand, hoping he wouldn't mind creating a new memory with her at his side. 

"You don't have to do this, Ladybug. I'm sure you have better places to be," he said under his breath as he slipped his hand around hers.

She smiled brighter and tightened her grip on his hand. "Nope. Can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. Come on, let's see some twinkle lights."

Walking beside each other, they entered the park and walked under the hundreds of strung strings. Most had the white bulbs, giving off a warm feeling despite the cold, but others had multi-colored bulbs to create a fun experience for kids and kids-at-heart. 

"This is nice," he said, breaking the silence between them. "Thank you for doing this." 

"Anytime, Chaton," she whispered. 

Neither spoke as they neared the end of the park's lights, not wanting to spoil the effect the lights had on them and their surroundings. Soft snowflakes had begun to fall and land over the previous night's accumulation. Tiny flakes gathered in their hair and tickled their exposed skin. 

Shivers skated over her despite the covering of her magic suit. 

A jacket covered her, warming her. The scent of expensive cologne wafted from the fleece-lined interior and soothed her as she inhaled. Only her partner could make her feel this safe on a cool evening with snowflakes dancing around them and twinkle lights sparkling in the background. 

Both sank onto a nearby bench, his arm resting along the back while she snuggled into his side. 

"Being with you makes me miss her a little less," he whispered, his cheek resting against her hair. "I figure I'll always miss her, but I know I can handle it as long as I have you, my lady." 

"I'm not going anywhere, Chaton." She shifted so she could see his eyes and found them full of hope. Reaching out, she cupped his cheek and smiled. "With Hawk Moth gone, I have wondered if we'll lose our miraculous, but I haven't worried about losing you."

He returned her smile, a bit cheekier as his mood lightened. "Well, it helps you know who I am behind the mask. I'm still in the dark as to who you might be. I have my suspicions, of course, but it's not like I can go up to them and ask them straight out. That would be so awkward if I was wrong."

Giggling, she scooted closer, her thumb rubbing along his cheek. A tiny gasp escaped when he leaned into the touch, his eyes closing briefly as he relished the contact between them. 

In the growing silence between them, snowflakes continued to fall. Bigger flakes mingled with the smaller ones. 

A single, fat flake landed on his nose, its perfect form catching her attention. Swiping it with her finger, she held it up for him to see and earned an intrigued look for her efforts. 

"Make a wish," she whispered.

"I think that's for eyelashes, my lady, not snowflakes."

Rolling her eyes, she persisted. "Just make it already, Chaton. Remember, don't tell me or it won't come true. Hurry before it melts."

He stared at her a moment longer before his eyes drifted closed, scrunching in the cutest way she'd ever thought possible. They remained that way as he made his wish. When he opened them again, he smiled at her and blew at the snowflake. It had melted against her fingertip, but she'd already had plans to make his wish come true.

"We should get home. It's growing colder," he said breaking the silence between them. "Can't have a sick bug when school's tomorrow, can we? Come on, I'll walk you back to the park's entrance." 

"How do you know I have school? Hmm?" She took the arm he offered, her hand sliding into the bend at his elbow. Leaning in close, she smiled at the slight blush rushing over his cheeks. "Is it possible you're fairly certain you know who I am? Are you hoping I'll tell you and confirm if you're right or not?"

The blush grew brighter under the twinkle lights, but he smiled down at her, ready to indulge her. 

"It might've been close to what I wished for, yes." He nudged her with his shoulder as they continued to walk through the park. "I had hoped with Hawk Moth's defeat that I would learn your identity, but I've found my lady can be quite stubborn."

She shook her head, her smile growing mischievous. "Maybe I wanted to be sure the trouble was over, silly Chaton. It's not a bad thing to be a bit cautious at times." 

"You're right. It's not." 

They had come to the park's entrance once more, the twinkle lights glowing behind them. Snowflakes continued to fall around them, giving the entire scene an ethereal, magical feel to it. 

"Wishes do come true," she whispered, turning to face him. "I know mine did when I learned you were the boy I loved behind the mask, Chat." 

One gloved hand cupped her cheek, drawing her closer to him. He smiled down at her, his other hand coming up to stroke one of her pigtails. "I'm glad it did, my lady. I know deep in my heart that I'm going to love the girl behind your mask, too, because she's amazing and beautiful whether or not she wears this mask."

His thumb traced the bottom edge of her mask, sending a delicious shiver down her spine. Her blood pressure skyrocketed as a thousand and one images flooded her mind of them together, in and out of the mask.

"You're cold."

His voice broke through the haze the images had created.

"Not really," she said though she leaned toward him and his body heat. Rising on tiptoe, she pressed a kiss to his cheek. "I should go, but I have something for you before I go."

"What is that, my lady?"

Placing her hands on his shoulders for balance, she brought her lips to his ear and whispered, "If you want to know who I am, all you have to do is turn to the seat directly behind you at school tomorrow. That's where I'll be." 

"Oh," he breathed and dropped his hands to her waist, crushing her to him, "I knew it. This is the best gift you could've given me, my lady, my Marinette. Thank you." 

She giggled though she did try to appear stern when she pulled away, saying, "We'll discuss that possessive streak of yours tomorrow. Good night, Chaton." 

With a kiss, she took off toward the bakery across the street and the lit balcony above her room. She turned to wave and found Adrien had disappeared from his position near the entrance. 

"Or we could discuss it tonight," a voice said from behind her. 

She turned to find Adrien dropping his transformation and walking toward her.

"That is, if you don't mind a bit more company tonight?"

She smiled. "Not if it's you. Come on, I'm sure there are some yummy treats left we can share. I want to be sure my Chaton is warm before I send him back into the cold later." 

"Knowing I'll be seeing you tomorrow, I'll never be cold again."