Marinette sets her brush down then ties her hair into twin tails. The first day of school is always nerve-wracking but ever since they implemented uniforms at the end of last year there’s no longer the stress of figuring out that perfect first day outfit. It’s both a blessing and a curse, the latter more so for an aspiring fashion designer like herself.
She stands, examining herself in the mirror. A red button-down shirt with a pair of red and white plaid pants. The only bit of individuality the uniform allows are the socks – which can’t be seen unless you roll up your pants legs – or your backpack. Then there’s always your undershirt, that must be tucked in and virtually invisible. Oh and your gym uniform – as long as it’s sweats either blue or grey.
“Marinette, you’re going to be late!” Sabine calls from downstairs.
“I’ll be right down!” Marinette yells back. She stuffs her folded up gym clothes into her black and white polkadot backpack then grabs her pink purse hanging off the mirror and gives herself one last glance in the mirror. “It’s not... too bad.” She grimaces then sticks her tongue out at her reflection. “It’s terrible.” She takes a deep breath, “just...” She groans, “four full years of high school, Marinette.” With a nod at her reflection, she goes downstairs.
“There you are. Oh.” Sabine blinks at her daughter as she descends the stairs. “I—I didn’t get the chance to look at your uniform.”
“All it needs is some blue and it’ll be very Parisian.” Tom adds. Both Sabine and Marinette stare at him. “Yeah. I’m just gonna go... bake.” Then he heads into the kitchen.
“Have fun on your first day and don’t forget the macarons you made. It’s best to make friends early.”
“Maman, it’ll be most of the same people I went to school with last year. The only thing that changed are these uniforms.”
“Maybe but you never know, you could get new students. Not to mention we have a new mayor now and I hear he has a daughter your age.”
“I hear they came all the way from America.” Tom yells from the kitchen. “Check Mayor André Bourgeois’ Instagram account—”
Sabine sighs, “Tom.”
He sticks his head out from the kitchen, “what? I got the tip from Alix when she stopped by yesterday.” Sabine shakes her head at him, “it’s something to think about at least. Also, his wife is International Queen of Fashion Audrey Bourgeois! If you befriend her daughter, it might give you an opening in the fashion world!”
Marinette taps her chin, “that’s... actually good advice, papa. Thanks.”
“Hey! What do you mean ‘actually?’ I come up with tons of good advice. Don’t I honey?”
“Of course, Tom.” Marinette giggles. “I think it’s time for you to go now.” Sabine pushes the box of macarons in her daughter’s hands and gives her a knowing look.
“Okay, okay. I’m going. Love you guys. See you after school!”
“Don’t forget to sign up for a club! University applications love that!”
As the door closes behind Marinette, Tom comes out of the kitchen and puts his arms around his wife. “She’ll be more than alright, dear.”
“I know but... it’s high school.”
At the stop light, Marinette pulls her phone out of her purse and unlocks it. She’s heard of Audrey Bourgeois – all of Paris has. After all, Paris is where Audrey started her career – but she doesn’t remember any mention of a daughter. She barely has time to read an article before the light changes green. She puts her phone back in her purse and crosses the street. As she’s crossing in one direction a group of people are crossing in the other. A suit-clad man briskly walks through the crowd bumping into an older fellow sending him straight into Marinette.
She drops her box of macarons to keep the man from falling into the street. “Hey!” She looks around but the guy in the suit is long gone. Frowning, she looks down at the man leaning against her. “Hey, are you alright?”
The man looks up at her with a smile. “I should be asking you that.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m made of sturdier stuff than that. I wish I knew what that guy’s rush was, you know? He didn’t have to knock you over like that.” She sets the man upright patting him on his shoulders, “are you sure you’re okay?” With a nod, he bends down and picks up the box of macarons. “I forgot about those.” She leads him to the other side of the street before the light turns red again.
“I am sorry about this, young lady.”
“It isn’t your fault, sir. I can always make more macarons. You being okay is more important—” The school bell rings. “Ah! I’m going to be late.”
“Sorry. I have to go. Bye!” She waves as she runs off.
The man waits for the light to change again then crosses the streets. As he does, a small turtle flies out of his shirt collar. “Master, are you certain about this?”
The man nods, “you felt her aura too, Wayzz. She’s perfect. It has to be her.” With a sigh, the turtle flies back into the man’s shirt.
Marinette skids to a halt inside the building before the second bell, somehow. “Marinette!” Alix claps her on the back, “you made it! And here we were gonna start taking bets to see how late you’d be.” Rose, Nathaniel, and Marc all approach her as well.
“Hey guys. Sorry to disappoint, Alix.”
The pink-haired girl scoffs moving her hand, “it’s alright.” She looks around, “hey, I thought you were bringing some of your parents’ famous macarons?”
Marinette’s eyes widen. “Oh no! I left them with the old man!”
“What old man?”
“There was an old man. On my way here a guy bumped into an old man who bumped into me. I dropped my macarons to keep him from falling into the street and then I heard the bell and ran here.” She groans.
“That is such a Marinette thing!” Alix laughs.
“It really is.” Nathaniel agrees. Marc nods their agreement.
“And that’s why we love her!” Rose chirps latching onto Marinette’s right arm, “you’re so thoughtful.” The others let out indistinct murmurs. “C’mon. We should get to class.”
“Early?” Alix scoffs, “why?”
“So we can sit together. Unless you want to sit alphabetically like last year.”
Alix puts an arm around Rose and the other around Marinette, “you heard the woman, let’s go!” Nathaniel and Marc shake their heads as they follow behind.
When the five of them enter the classroom only three girls are there in the front. Marinette spares a glance at them but Alix turns her head forward, “c’mon, Marinette, do I have to do this again? Don’t make eye contact.” She instructs herding the others past the girls to the back of the classroom.
“C’mon Alix, we’re high school students now. Some petty—”
A paper ball hits Marinette on the head; she turns around and sees the brunette waving at her. “You were saying?” Alix asks. “Looks like Rossi still has it out for you.”
Marinette groans, “I’m taking care of this.” She hears a chorus of yells before she walks to the front of the classroom to the trio.
The brunette raises an eyebrow at her, “what do you want, Dupain-Cheng?”
“I came to bury the hatchet, Rossi.”
“After you made me look like an idiot in front of the cutest boy in school?” She gets up and glares, “I’ll bury you before burying the hatchet, Dupain-Cheng.”
Marinette’s eyes narrow, “fine. Just remember I tried being friendly.”
“Marinette Dupain-Cheng always wants to befriend everybody. Sorry to break it to you, Princess, but we’re never gonna be friends.”
“Fine with me.” Both girls huff as Marinette makes her way back to her seat.
“Damn.” The purple-haired girl chuckles, “you must really hate her, Lila.”
“More than you know.” The brunette sits down then leans back in her seat, “the nerve of her coming to—” She growls.
The blue-haired girl puts a hand on her shoulder, “easy, Lila. It’s not like you to get so worked up over someone else.”
“You were only here half of last year, Kagami. You don’t know Dupain-Cheng. She has this whole innocent girl next door look but she’s the devil.”
“I got something that’ll take your mind off Marinette.” The purple-haired girl leans forward and holds out her phone in front of Lila and Kagami, “I hear we might be getting a new student.”
“He’s gorgeous!” Lila breathes.
Kagami squints at the picture, “I agree. Agreste. Why does that name sound familiar?”
Lila rolls her eyes, “ever hear of the world-renowned reclusive fashion designer Gabriel Agreste? I wore one of his outfits on the last day of school last year.”
“You honestly expect me to remember what you wore at the end of the school year?”
Rolling her eyes again, Lila takes out her phone and scrolls through pictures until she finds the one she wants. “No but I always have proof.” The other two girls nod at the picture. “Anyway. I’m definitely making Agreste Jr. my boyfriend. Fact.”
“Wait.” They turn to Kagami, “my mother told me we have a new mayor and it’s his daughter coming to our school. I don’t have any pictures of her though.”
“Two new students isn’t completely unheard of.”
“Juleka’s right. I was new last year and you came along just a few months later.”
“Juleka’s always right.” Is the purple-haired girl’s reply as she leans back in her seat. “Hey, where’s Sabrina?”
“Getting us drinks. Can’t start off the school year without celebratory drinks.”
Kagami raises an eyebrow, “what are we celebrating?”
“My new boyfriend. A teenage model with a famous fashion designer father? He’s definitely my type.”
Juleka snorts, “you and half the class.”
“Half the class wishes they were me. Besides, I don’t have to worry about my two best friends competing against me...” She turns to Kagami, “do I?”
“I won’t pursue him, Lila, but if he comes onto me all bets are off.”
Lila folds her arms over her chest, “that’s fair.” Juleka chuckles.
The door opens and a bespectacled redhead walks in, in seemingly slow motion and her curly hair flips with the shake of her head. “You can have the model.” Kagami mutters.
“Go. Now.” Juleka nudges Lila.
“Okay. Okay! Geez. You’d think you two never saw a pretty girl before.” Lila gets up and sees Marinette hauling ass to the newcomer. Lila picks up her pace and they reach the redhead at the same time, glaring at each other. “Hi! I’m Lila.” She holds out her hand the new girl shakes, “and you are?”
“Name’s Alya. Alya Césaire.”
“I’m Marinette.” She hip-checks Lila then shakes Alya’s hand next, “welcome to Collège Françoise Dupont!”
“Thanks.” Letting go of Marinette’s hand, Alya looks around. “This is the class? Hell of a lot smaller than my last school.”
“No. This is about half the class.” Lila says, “you should sit with us, Alya.”
“Or—” Lila glares at Marinette, “you can sit with me and my friends.”
Alya taps her chin, “since Lila asked first I’ll sit with her. But I can sit with you guys tomorrow? Marinette, you said?” Marinette nods. “Cool. That’s a pretty name, by the way.”
“Cool and thanks.”
With a smile, Lila waves to Marinette who walks back to her seat. Then she puts a hand on Alya’s back leading her to Juleka and Kagami. “These are my best friends Kagami and Juleka. You can sit with Kagami.” She winks at the blue-haired girl then takes her seat beside Juleka.
“You know, you could’ve tried putting her in my direction.” Juleka whispers.
“I don’t want to compete against Kagami for Agreste Jr.,” Lila whispers back, “you aren’t interested in him or any other boy. You can find a girlfriend on your own time. Besides, we don’t even know if Alya likes girls.”
“But she’ll be enough of a distraction so you can make your move on the Agreste kid.”
Lila boops Juleka on the nose, “exactly.”
“But you don’t know if he likes girls.” Juleka boops Lila on the nose and Lila’s eyes narrow.
“That new girl is really pretty.” Rose says, propping her fist against her face.
“Meh.” Alix shrugs, “she’s alright.” Nathaniel and Marc shrug at each other.
“We can’t let Lila get her hands on Alya!”
“Looks like she already did.”
“Not necessarily. She said she’ll sit with us tomorrow.” Marinette digs into her purse for her phone, frowning when she feels something hexagon shaped. She looks down in her purse and spots a box that certainly was not there this morning when she packed. “What the...”
“What’s wrong Marinette?” Rose asks.
Marinette snaps her purse shut, “I, uh, forgot my favorite pen!” She snaps her fingers in disappointment.
“That’s okay. I have tons of pens you can borrow!” The blonde chirps.
“Thanks, Rose. I can always count on you.” She hugs Marinette. The door opens and the rest of the class shuffles in. Though they start walking slower when they spot Alya in the first row.
When could she have—oh. The old man! It must’ve dropped out of his pocket and fell into her purse when he bumped into her. She holds her purse at an angle so she can read what’s on the box. “Creator” is written in Chinese and she’s grateful for her mom teaching her how to read and speak it all these years. How is she gonna give this box back to the old man? It’s unlikely he’ll be the same street. Unless he’s looking for the box he dropped. It’s worth a shot but she’ll have to wait until school is over to return it to him. Until then there’s no harm in taking a peek. Before she can open the box Mlle. Bustier walks in the class.
“Hello Mlle. Bustier.” The class greets.
“We have a new student joining us today.” She beckons Alya over to her and the redhead complies, “class, let’s give a big Collège Françoise Dupont welcome to Alya Césaire.” The class greets the redhead who gives them a wave, “would you like to tell the class about yourself, Alya?”
“I think I’m good.”
“Oh. Okay then.” She pats Alya on the shoulder and the redhead returns to her seat. “Why don’t we get things started with a simple essay on how we spent our summer?” The class groans.
The bell rings and the students file out of the classroom. “You forgetting your favorite pen must really be bothering you. You’ve been staring at your purse all throughout class.”
“Um. Yeah. It’s my favorite, you know?” Marinette taps her fingers against her purse. “I’m gonna head to the bathroom. You guys go on ahead to class and I’ll meet you there.” Without waiting for a reply she heads down the hall.
“Do you think she’ll be okay?” Marc asks.
“She must’ve fallen and hit her head when the old man bumped into her.” Alix says with a shrug, “oh well, we’ll save her a seat.”
Turning the corner into the empty hallway, Marinette takes the box out of her purse and stares at it. She looks around once more to make sure the coast is clear then she opens it. When she opens the box there’s a bright red light that makes her squint. The light dissipates after a few seconds and Marinette stares at the silver pair of earrings. “Ooh. These are pretty—”
“Hi!” A cheery voice is coming from above her so she looks up at a small red... thing beaming at her.
“Hi?” The thing flies around her head before stopping in front of her face, “what are you?”
“I’m Tikki and I’m a kwami. Well, specifically I’m your kwami.”
“Well, Tikki, I’m Marinette and what’s a kwami, exactly?”
Tikki’s head tilts to the left, “the Guardian didn’t tell you when he gave me to you?”
“A guardian? I only just found this box in my purse.” The bell rings, “oh no. I’m gonna be late, but I have so many questions. Uh. Uh. Just... hide in my purse and we’ll talk more when I get a moment alone.” Nodding, Tikki flies in her purse. “Yeah. That’ll take some getting used to.”
Closing the box, Marinette runs down the halls until she reaches the classroom. Alix is giving her a suspicious look as she sidles inside taking her seat mere seconds before Mlle. Mendeleiev turns around to address the class. “Are you okay?” Alix asks brushing a stray strand of hair out of her face.
“Yup.” With Mlle. Mendeleiev talking, Marinette looks around the classroom. Alya is sitting next to Juleka this time and not Kagami which is okay since Juleka is easily the most tolerable of the foursome with Sabrina now sitting next to Lila like she’s been for most of Lila’s time in this school.
As Marinette is sitting on the right of Alix, she shifts her purse and opens it a bit to give Tikki some air. Although after being cooped up in a tiny box, Marinette’s purse is a luxury.
The strange thing is, Tikki is not in her purse when she opens it. However, when she opens the box again Tikki flies out. “Huh. Wasn’t expecting that. When the box closes you disappear?”
Tikki nods, pointing at the earrings. “Because your Miraculous isn’t active.”
“These are the earrings of Ladybug. They give you super powers, most notably the power to create things.”
“Ah. That’s why the box said creator.” Marinette takes the earrings out and examines them, “I don’t even have my ears pierced.”
“Well, there’s no time like the present to pierce them.”
Marinette hums. All in all, school was pretty average. She got to sit with Alya during lunch and found out they have a ton of stuff in common. So much so that she invited Alya over. She noticed Alya had earrings in her ears so maybe she knows someone who can pierce ears. Nodding, Marinette puts the earrings back in the box. “Okay. I’ll talk to my parents about this then we’re gonna have a talk about Guardians and Miraculouses and... everything else.”
Marinette heads downstairs in time to see Alya walking into the bakery. “Wow. You live in a bakery? That’s so cool.”
Marinette rubs the back of her neck, “thanks.”
“No. I should be thanking you. My parents are thrilled I made a friend. Oh, speaking of which... do you mind a picture? They need visual proof.”
“No. I don’t mind.”
“Great. Thanks.” She meets Alya at the staircase and the redhead puts an arm around her. “You’re a lifesaver, Marinette. Seriously. Ready?” Marinette nods, “okay and smile.” They smile and Alya takes the picture of them then forwards the picture to her parents. “Thanks again.”
“Now. Do your parents need a taste tester—” Furrowing her eyebrows, Alya looks down at her phone, “and they want a picture with your parents.” She sighs.
“My parents won’t mind. They’re also thrilled I made a new friend. Alix comes by all the time for free samples.” When Marinette enters the kitchen with Alya, her parents are suspiciously leaning against the wall near the oven. “Guys?”
They slowly turn to her, “oh!” Sabine claps her hands together, “you must be Alya.” Alya walks over to them and shakes their hands.
“Nice meeting both of you, thanks for letting me stop by.”
“Oh it’s our pleasure.” Tom insists.
“Do you guys mind if I...” Alya shakes her phone, “take a picture? It’s for my parents.” Sabine and Tom exchange a glance then nod at her. “Thanks so much.”
Once all the pictures are taken, the teens head to Marinette’s room with a box of macarons.
“This is your bedroom? It’s amazing.”
“Thanks. Say, Alya, where did you get your ears pierced?”
“Hm? I’ve had ‘em pierced since I was a baby. Kind of a Césaire tradition. My big sis had hers pierced when she was little and my parents did the same for me and my little sisters.”
“Oh. I was thinking of getting my ears pierced—”
“I think you’d look cute with earrings. I do know a place. My sister was thinking of getting a tattoo that goes with her boxing name. They do piercings there. You can come with us when she goes.”
“That sounds great. When is she going?”
“We’re checking the place out tomorrow.”
“Yeah? Let me ask my parents.”
“Okay. I’ll be here.” Nodding, Marinette runs downstairs.
Sabine and Tom run into each other as Marinette reaches the bottom of the staircase. “Uh. What are you two doing?” Marinette shakes her head, “never mind. Alya and her older sister are going to a tattoo parlor tomorrow, can I go? And, follow up question, can I get my ears pierced there?”
Tom breathes a huge sigh of relief, “I thought you were going to ask for a tattoo!” He chuckles, then pauses “You’re not asking to get a tattoo, are you?”
Sabine looks at him before turning to Marinette. “Of course you can get your ears pierced. I never knew you wanted to before. What changed?”
“Um. Just—well I am in high school now.” She blinks at them, and they blink back. “Okay so I saw this cute pair of earrings that really spoke to me.” Literally, but they don’t need to know that. Besides, there’s still a lot about this she needs to understand.
When Marinette returns to her room she finds Alya sitting in her computer chair, spinning. “Oh. Hey! You're back. Well?”
“I got the all clear.”
“Awesome. I didn't wanna snoop but you had this adorable little box that fell out of your purse.” Marinette gulps, “are the earrings in there?”
“The what? Oh. Yes. I can show them to you.” Marinette grabs the box and takes a deep breath then slips her hand in and takes out the earrings without opening the box all the way. Sighing in relief, she opens her palm thankful only the earrings are in it. “Ta-dah.”
Alya looks at them, “huh. They're kinda plain. I was thinking they'd be flashier with the box and all.” She shrugs, “oh well. What's the box say anyway? It's Japanese, right?”
“Chinese actually.” As Alya perks up Marinette suppresses a facepalm, “my maman.”
“Oh. My parents teach me all about their heritage – well, it's my heritage too so be proud, girl. Are you any good at reading Chinese?”
“Not the greatest. I mean, my pronunciation needs a little work in some bits but—”
Alya's eyes light up, “do you think you can teach me some Chinese?”
“Oh. I'm coming on too strong, right? You can tell me.”
“No, no. It's okay. I was just surprised, you know? I'll teach you what I know but we're probably both better off learning from my maman.”
“Yeah? You're the best, Marinette. My mom just got a job at Le Grand Paris, that's why we moved here. Why don't you guys come over for dinner? As a thank you.”
“A-At Le Grand Paris? You need to call months in advance just to get a reservation.”
“Not if your mom is the head chef~ Plus, your parents are bakers who own their own bakery. They can talk about boring grown up stuff or even share recipes which will definitely be far less boring. Hey do you help your parents make pastries?”
“Sometimes. But never with special orders or anything like that.”
“Ah. I get ya. Can’t risk their rep in case something goes wrong.” Alya nods to herself, “mama lets us help only if she’s swamped. She’s a bit of a perfectionist. But enough about our parents, what do you like doing?”
“I like fashion.”
“I can tell. Your room just exudes it.”
Marinette giggles, “what about you?”
“I’m not sure. There are lots of things I like doing but—what’s that saying? Jack of all trades master of none? That kinda describes me. I’ve yet to find that one thing that I’m super good at.”
“There’s more to that phrase you know. ‘A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.’”
“Whoa. I had no idea. But what does it mean, exactly?”
“That you doing a lot of different things good is better than say someone who can only do one thing extremely good.”
Alya hums, “that’s one way to look at it. Thanks, Marinette. We just met and you’re already more of a friend to me than all the kids I met in my last few schools. I can’t wait to hang out with you and your friends during school tomorrow.”
“Me too. Oh but what about Lila?”
“What about her? She’s okay. I sorta got the vibe that you two don’t like each other.”
“You’d be right. I called Lila out on a lie she told the entire school including the most popular boy in our school Nino.”
“Nino? The cute boy with the headphones?” Marinette nods, “ooh. No offense but I’d kinda hate you too. What did she do to you? Like specifically?”
“She got our art club shut down because I had a passing interest in joining. It’s like she’s actively looking for ways to ruin my life.”
“All because you made her look like a fool in front of a cute boy.” Tsking, Alya shakes her head. “It always sucks when women are pitted against each other. Men already tear us down why are we tearing each other down too.”
“I tried reasoning with her, numerous times. She has that if you’re not with me, you’re against me mentality.”
“Don’t worry about her. I’ll help you make her see reason or at the very least find her a new target.”
“You’d do that for me?”
“Hell yeah I would. I like you and we’re gonna make a fashion empire together.”
Marinette laughs. “Thanks, Alya.”
After dinner Alya leaves and once the table is cleared Marinette returns to her room and opens the box. “Tikki?” Tikki flies out from under Marinette’s bed, “there you are.”
“Actually, I was looking around the room when you were eating.”
“Eating. Hey, do you eat?” Tikki nods. “I’m so sorry. I’ll get you something to eat now.”
“Hold on, Marinette. Food can wait.”
“Right.” Marinette sits on her bed, “so... let’s talk.”
Tikki nods, “as I said, I’m your kwami. The kwami of Ladybug. When you wear those earrings and choose a transformation phrase we fuse together and you become Ladybug.”
“Weird. But go on.”
“That’s pretty much it. It’s not like The Guardian to not tell my partner this beforehand. Something must be wrong and he didn’t have enough time.”
“What did you mean by ‘choose a transformation phrase?’”
“It’s a phrase that makes you Ladybug. Once you choose what it is you say it and we transform. But be warned, you can’t change it once you choose it.”
“Got it. I guess we’ll have to wait until my ears are pierced.” Marinette gets up, “let me get you something to eat in the meantime.”
Marinette slips into the kitchen and takes a handful of random things: a slice of cheese, a single macaron, two gumdrops from the container, a bottle of water, a yogurt cup—Tikki isn’t that big so Marinette doesn’t have to grab that much food. At the same time, she doesn’t know the last time Tikki ate and she’d been outside of the earrings for several hours. She also grabs a mint leaf, a cinnamon stick, two madelines, and three ladyfingers. Thankfully, her parents settled into an after dinner routine that involves them making gross kissing faces at each other for at least an hour before they both check in on her so she doesn’t have to worry about them. Plus, Marinette’s been getting an after dinner snack for the past six years so a handful of missing items won’t cause suspicion.
When she returns to the room she lays out the spread on the bed in front of Tikki, “I didn’t know what you liked so I brought what I could.”
“Thank you.” Tikki first flies to the mint leaf takes a bite then spits it out.
“Okay. No mint, got it.” Next, she flies over to the ladyfinger and stares at it. “Here. Let me.” Marinette breaks a piece and hands it to Tikki who takes a hesitant bite and hums appreciatively.
Tikki picks at everything Marinette’s brought but when she gets to the macaron she eats the entire thing in two bites. “What was that? It was delicious!”
“That was a macaron. It’s a cookie. Like the ladyfinger or madeline. If cookies are your food of choice I can work with that. No one eats just one cookie so when I buy a pack I’ll slip you some.”
Tikki nods happily. “You’re even more generous than my last Ladybug.”
“What were they like?”
“She was graceful.” Marinette’s face falls. Graceful is the last word anyone would use to describe her. “And smart. But she never gave me cookies.”
“What did you eat?”
“I—I can’t remember. It’s been a while since my last partner. I’d say—wait. What year is this?”
“Hmm. It was at least in the 17s last time I was awake. In fact, it might not even be the same Guardian I know around now.”
“I think I have an idea about your Guardian but don’t go quoting me on it, okay?” Tikki nods. “After school tomorrow, after I get my ears pierced. We’re gonna pay him a visit. But I have to do it stealthily in case I’m wrong.”
Marinette keeps Tikki in her purse all day and leaves her with a bag of madelines she baked before heading to school. Her mother was curious about her getting up early to bake but thankfully didn’t have the time to question it.
Alya’s older sister, Nora, gives them a ride on her motorcycle to the tattoo parlor after school. As she’s getting her ears pierced, Marinette listens to Alya excitingly tell her a story about Nora’s latest wrestling match.
“My little sis really likes you.” Nora pats her on the back, “you be good to Alya, you hear? Or you’ll be dealing with me.”
Nora grins at her, “good. Last thing Loly needs is a friend without a backbone. And if you’re interested in being more than just a friend that’s fine too.”
“W-What? Oh. No. We’re just friends.”
Nora nods slowly, “okay. You’re not backing away slowly because my sister likes girls as much as guys, right?”
“No! One of my best friends likes girls.”
“You know that’s the excuse everyone gives to justify they’re shitty behavior, right?”
“It’s not an excuse. I swear.”
Nora laughs, “I like you. I see why Loly does too. Loly! Stop flirting with that girl and get your ass over here!”
“How come you call her ‘Loly?’”
“It’s my nickname for my little sister—”
“It’s because my first word was lollipop.” Alya says joining them, “or so mama says.”
“Don’t forget you wouldn’t eat unless your food was on a stick.”
Alya massages her forehead, “I forgot about that.”
Nora laughs, “did you get that girl’s number?”
“No, Nora, sheesh. And I wasn’t flirting. We go to the same school so—”
Nora elbows her with a wink, “got ya.”
Alya groans, “let’s just go, okay? You promised us food.”
“You don’t want another piercing? One to match?”
“No. I like having two in one ear. Besides, what I really want is a lip ring—”
Nora grimaces, “careful, if you get a partner that’s a biter you’ll regret it.”
“Noted.” Alya puts an arm around Marinette, “please pay no attention to my sister.”
“Why not? She’s funny.”
“See! I have a fan.”
Alya shakes her head. “You only like her because you don’t live with her.”
Thankfully, Marinette gets Tikki’s “Ladybug” earrings pierced into her ears because otherwise she’d have to wait six weeks to change them and Tikki told her beforehand that they couldn’t wait that long.
After getting her ears pierced and hanging out with Alya and Nora, Marinette searched the block for the old man she bumped into yesterday but didn’t find him. One of the perks of living across the street from the school was she didn’t have to travel very far. On the other hand, it meant she was constantly underestimating the time it takes for her to get to school.
With the search unsuccessful, Marinette and Tikki return home.
“I know we need to find the Guardian.” Tikki says flying around the room, “but I don’t even know where he is or who he is! There’s a whole order of Guardians!”
“Okay. Tikki, calm down. We can’t worry about things we can’t control. We’ll broaden our search after school tomorrow. Or we can go all day Saturday.”
“You’re being very calm about this. Just like the last Guardian I knew.”
“What can The Guardian do? Other than give people these Miraculouses?”
“Lots of things! I don’t know every thing but when we get sick The Guardian can heal us. They also hold all the Miraculouses, giving them out to whoever they feel are worthy.”
“Has any Guardian ever made a mistake in who they gave a Miraculous to?”
“I don’t think so? Marinette, don’t doubt yourself. I know The Guardian chose you for a reason.”
“Even if you don’t know what that reason is?” Tikki nods. “Thanks, Tikki. I can’t guarantee we’ll find The Guardian but I’m try my hardest to. Are you good on food or do I need more cookies?”
“I’m fine. Thanks, Marinette. The cookies were really good.”
“Glad to hear it. We should get some sleep if we’re gonna scour through Paris to find The Guardian. He wasn’t on this street which only leaves the rest of Paris.” She sighs, “was there something every Guardian has? Something that’ll help us find the current one a little better?”
Tikki shakes her head, “sorry I’m not much help.”
“You’re fine.” Marinette taps her chin, “you said The Guardian can heal you if you’re sick. Do they find you or do you seek them out?”
“Uh... it’s been so long that I don’t know. The Guardian has a Miraculous of their own—” Tikki’s eyes widen, “that’s it! All I have to do is try and sense if there’s another kwami around!”
“Hold on. You can do that?”
Tikki nods enthusiastically, “every kwami has their own Miraculous.” She points at Marinette’s ears, “and unless the kwami is in their Miraculous, I should be able to sense them.”
“Are all the Miraculouses earrings too?”
“No. Each Miraculous is unique but I can only sense other kwamis not other Miraculouses.”
“And if every Miraculous is unique you probably won’t even know what they are.” Tikki nods. “But I’m willing to bet they’re all something simple, something that can be hidden in plain sight. Like a pair of earrings or another type of jewelry. That won’t help us find the Guardian though.”
“Marinette, I think we should work on that transformation phrase. In case we run into trouble.”
“What does Ladybug do, exactly?”
“That depends on you.”
“Not helpful. And what sort of trouble are you expecting?”
“I don’t know but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.”
Nodding, Marinette starts pacing her room. What would be a good thing to say to transform? What will I be transforming into? A ladybug isn’t exactly a natural predator, but they are a symbol of good luck. Marinette glances at her reflection, her earrings in particular. Alya was right, these earrings are dreadfully plain. What if they had some spots on them or something with a little flair. “Hmm... spots on—”
The last thing Marinette was expecting was Tikki to fly into her left earring; after a rather sudden jolt she can see her body being engulfed in a red light. A very similar red light to the one she first saw from Tikki. Next her body started spinning slowly and the red light flashed until her body was in a red and black polkadot catsuit then a helmet latched itself onto her head. As she is still standing in front of the mirror, she runs over to it gasping at her reflection. She looks like an honest-to-goodness ladybug. There are even antennas coming out of her helmet.
“What the hell?!”
“Tikki? Tikki, where are you?”
“I’m with you. We make Ladybug together.”
“Cool. Nice to know I’m not doing this alone.” Marinette’s hands slide down to the yo-yo of all things wrapped around her waist. She opens the case and it looks like there’s a communication device inside it. She snaps the thing closed then starts playing with the yo-yo. “What kind of weapon is a yo-yo?” She thrusts it forward and it snaps back and hits her helmet. “That had more power than I thought it would.” It’s a good thing she’s wearing a helmet, she would’ve brained herself otherwise.
She’s sure if she waltzes around Paris like this The Guardian might take notice, so might the rest of Paris.
Well, it’s a cute outfit and it’ll be a shame if no one sees it.
Marinette opens her window and slips onto the patio, “just tell me one thing, Tikki, can I fly?”
“Uh. No. But you can use your yo-yo to travel.”
Marinette spins the yo-yo over her head and as a trial run she throws it to the phone tower and the momentum vaults her to the tower crashing into it. “Ow. Okay. I need to practice a bit farther.”
She spins the yo-yo over her head again and throws it to the nearest building’s chimney. This thing has some incredible distance. She makes sure the yo-yo is secure with several tugs then jumps off the building in the direction of the building using the yo-yo string as leverage. It’s surreal that she doesn’t fall to her death but basically flies in the air with a simple or not so simple yo-yo string. When she lands on the rooftop, she retracts the yo-yo string. “That was incredible, Tikki!”
“And it’s just the beginning.”