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Heaving Through Corrupted Lungs

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He coughed up roses, deep red and eye-catching.

She coughed up sunflowers, which shouldn’t have been possible. Sunflowers weren’t made for such a small body.

When the petals started coming, rising up his throat from his lungs, he hadn’t paid much mind. Let out a cough here and there, and just let it be. Hide the petals in your hand. Don’t let them see, especially Nathalie. He didn’t think about how much worse it could be. Two months in, the thorns kicked in, piercing his lungs and scratching his throat, and he had to start carrying around a bag to cough into.

“Are you okay, dude?” Nino asked. He really was a good friend. But Adrien couldn’t tell him.

“I’m fine,” he said instead, his smile plastered onto his face with ease from years of pretending he was fine.

He wasn’t.

But there was nothing he could do. How was he to explain to Nino that he was Chat Noir and he was in love with Ladybug?

He couldn’t.

Her parents had loved sunflowers since she was born, until the day she started coughing them up. Marinette had never seen her parents hate something more than Hawkmoth before. This was a first. She coughed up her first petal while helping her parents make pastries.

After that, they banned her from the kitchen.

They never did any more sunflowers on cakes.

Alya was third to know. Marinette had called her the second she got kicked out of the kitchen. Alya had dropped everything and raced over to her side, telling her that she was going to be fine.

They both knew they didn’t believe it.

Marinette wanted to pretend she didn’t notice Alya trying harder for her sake. She wanted to pretend she didn’t see Alya whispering with Nino, obviously coming up with their next plot to try and get Marinette and Adrien together.

But she did notice, and she loved Alya for trying, but two months had passed and nothing had happened.

Two months had already passed and Adrien had started carrying a brown paper bag with him.

Two months had already passed and he had started coughing into it.

Two months had already passed and the stems of the sunflowers in her lungs were thick and blocking her airways, making it hard to even breathe.

Two months had already passed and Alya was still trying her best, but nothing had worked.

And when the akuma attack came, because it always did, Ladybug and Chat Noir had never been more distracted. They could feel the flowers scraping the inside of their lungs, obstructing their airways, and a lack of air wasn’t helpful when you were a crime-fighting superhero. It didn’t go unnoticed when Ladybug coughed in the middle of purifying the akuma. It didn’t go unnoticed when sunflower petals flew out of her mouth.

It didn’t go unnoticed by Chat Noir, who started hacking the second he saw them.

The rose petals didn’t go unnoticed either.

The news was talking about them in the morning, along with the LadyBlog. Along with all of Paris.

And Alya pulled her aside, talking about how it was very suspicious that Ladybug and Marinette were both coughing up sunflowers, and especially how they were at the same stage of development.

“What do you mean?” Marinette asks, trying to sound as innocent as possible.

But Alya just gives her this look, one that Marinette has seen time and time again, that look that means that she sees through all the bullshit.

Marinette breaks down crying in her arms.

They miss that whole day of classes.

Nino doesn’t know what’s going on, but he knows that whatever is going on is not good. Marinette and Alya are missing from classes, and Alya refuses to say anything about why. Adrien looks absolutely devastated, and Nino doesn’t know what to do.

He tries his best.

He (somehow) convinces Adrien to skip class with him, to go to an arcade and play games, to go blow bubbles in the park, to go get pastries at Marinette’s parents’ bakery, to do anything other than just sit there and think about whatever is going on.

And finally, when Adrien is alone with him in Nino’s room, does he begin to cry.

Adrien doesn’t say anything, but Nino knows in his heart that he doesn’t care why Adrien cries.

He just wants to let his friend know that everything is alright.

It’s then that he sees Adrien cough up a rose petal, and everything falls into place.

He’s not Alya, but he’s been around her long enough to fill in the blanks.

“Hey, Marinette?” Alya asks, the two of them alone in Marinette’s room with the lights dimmed.

“Yeah?” she responds, her voice weak, the wastebasket next to her filled with petals.

“Why...” Alya looks down, trailing off. She looks back up at Marinette.

“Marinette, why sunflowers?”

Marinette sighs, clutching her knees into her chest.

“I don’t really know why. But, I mean, you know what Adrien means to me.” She looks at her wall, still littered with his photos and by sunflower petals, taped up into intricate patterns to surround the photos.

“He shines like the sun, you know what I mean? He’s just like this radiance that brightens the day.” Marinette’s eyes drop down to her toes.

“But he’s also always trying to follow something else. I can’t describe it, but it’s like he relies on another sun for his own happiness. He’s always following something and if he doesn’t, he wilts. He’s surprisingly fragile too. I feel like he tries to be one of the other people so hard, he tries to follow a sun like everyone else, but he can’t.”

Marinette turns to Alya, tears stinging her eyes as they threaten to spill over.

“But he still tries so hard to be a source of happiness for everyone else, even when he isn’t happy himself! And it just— It really fucking hurts to see him get walked over because he thinks his own happiness isn’t worth the same amount as everyone else’s!”

Marinette is fully crying now, tears spilling from her eyes, stinging her eyes. Her mouth contorts and she begins to sob.

And Alya is right by her side again, hugging her, rubbing her back, letting her cry.

Letting her cough.

“Hey, Adrien?” Nino asks.

“...Yeah?” he replies under his breath.

“Why roses, dude? I mean, other than the color.”

“Oh.” Adrien had never thought of that. “I don’t know.”

“I am correct that it’s Ladybug, right?”

“It’s Ladybug.”

“So, why roses?”

“I guess...” Adrien says, thinking. “I guess it’s not only the color and the whole romance meaning of red roses. I think it has something to just do with roses in general. They’re resilient, like Ladybug. Roses have thorns, they don’t give up, and neither does she. She is this beautiful figure that seems so nice and angelic, but she can just as easily hurt you. And, fuck, when you see her smile in that certain way, it really feels like a flower just bloomed.”

And when Adrien is done, he just turns to Nino and he’s just looking at him like he just told him the secret to life. It takes a second before either of them can even speak again.

“You really love her, don’t you?” Nino says, tearing his eyes away to look out the window into the night sky.

Adrien turns to look out the window too.

“Yeah, I do.”

When Marinette falls asleep on the floor, next to Alya, exhausted from crying, Alya takes her chance to slip away into the bathroom. And when she does, she finds herself with many texts from Nino.

And only one stood out to her.

Adrien’s coughing up roses.

And Alya could hope and she could dream, but that message contained all the clues she would need and she knew.

She knew that they both loved each other but they didn’t even have a clue.

But she didn’t know what to do.

Alya had always had ideas and schemes but never before had she been so stumped on a solution. She knew she couldn’t wait too long. It had been too long since the coughing had started.

If they waited any longer, they could die.

And these two idiots were dorks and she loved them with all of her heart, but they were also hopeless romantics and absolute idiots. She could never convince them to get the surgery, no matter how hard she tried. They wouldn’t give up on their love. They would rather die.

But Alya could never tell the other about their identity, she would never break their trust. That was their hurdle to climb, their secret to tell.

But she could give them a little push.

Alya took out her phone and started typing.

“Are Ladybug and Chat Noir in Love with Each Other?”

After images released of the two heroes suffering from Hanahaki disease, there have been many theories speculating around them. Some think that Ladybug is in love with Adrien Agreste, popular model and son of Gabriel Agreste. However, these claims are not very well founded and have not been backed up. Today, the LadyBlog reports on the most popular theory: Ladybug and Chat Noir have been in love all along.

Now, in the footage, Chat Noir is seen coughing up roses. Other than the obvious color of them matching our wonderful Ladybug, roses have many meanings behind them. The most well known of these meanings is romantic love. However, deep red roses, similar to the color Chat Noir has, can also express sorrow or regret. Perhaps he regrets that he didn’t tell her, or that she doesn’t love him back? There might be a lot of other meaning behind the roses that we don’t know about yet.

And Ladybug, our spotted hero, is seen coughing up sunflowers. Sunflowers are often depicted as being happy flowers, and we often see Chat Noir in a happy mood. They are also yellow, much like our beloved feline’s hair. They also always turn to face the sun, and Chat Noir is always following around Ladybug like she is the center of his universe.

Since this is a short and rushed update, I’m not getting into too many details with all of the meanings behind the flowers. However, once I have the time, I will get into more detail so we can speculate more.

When Marinette checked her phone the next afternoon, she screamed.

Not only did Alya put out a new post on the LadyBlog while she was sleeping over at her house, but it was about Ladybug and Chat Noir being in love with each other?

Marinette called her right away.

“Alya, what is up with the LadyBlog?”

“Hey, it's okay, girl. I was just putting it out there for the audience.”

“Yeah, but did you have to put the part about how Ladybug might be in love with Adrien?!” Marinette started pulling at her hair.

“I kind of did have to, since I was trying to debunk the theory in the first place. You know I wouldn’t out you like that.”

Marinette’s hands went from her hair to her face.

“Oh my god, I really hope that Chat Noir doesn’t get any weird questions about this.”

“And?" Alya says. "If he does, just tell him the truth. Marinette, you can do this. I believe in you.”

And another akuma attack happens, because Hawkmoth has either no sense of timing or a good sense of timing, and Ladybug is back fighting by Chat Noir’s side. And it goes just about as well as either of them expect, meaning it doesn’t go well at all.

Both of them are coughing the entire time, trying their best to cover for the other while they hurl their lungs out. They get smacked into walls, thrown into The Eiffel Tower, slammed into the stadium, and both of their lungs aren’t taking in much air anymore. They are bruised and broken and battered.

And when they finally find solstice in a corner, praying that their transformations don’t run out, they attempt to catch their breath.

And Chat Noir finally speaks.

“Milady, I read the newest post on the LadyBlog.”

And Ladybug can feel her body tense up from the position she’s sitting in, her blood runs cold, and she’s hacking up sunflowers again.

“Are you... Can I think... Is it okay to....” Chat Noir tries again and again to find the right words.

“Is it true?” he finally says, hope in his voice, and Ladybug can feel her heart tearing in two because she doesn’t want to break his heart at all. Chat Noir is one of her best friends and her partner and she doesn’t want to do that to him.

But Alya’s voice rings in her ear and tells her to tell him the truth, so she does.

“The one sentence about me liking Adrien is true. I’m sorry, Chat Noir.”

And it’s right at that moment that she looks up from her feet to look at his face, and it looks like his heart has been shattered into a million pieces and she can’t do anything but cough up more and more sunflowers.

And he can do nothing but cough up more roses.

And once he finishes, he speaks up again.

“What do you like about him, milady?”

And Ladybug can feel the petals rising, but she forces them down because she needs to tell him.

“He’s incredibly kind. I love and hate that about him,” she chuckles just a little bit. “He’ll do anything for his friends and to keep the peace, but he’s self-sacrificing. I love that he’s willing to help others, but he always lets them walk all over him in return. He deserves better than that. I kind of want to teach him that it’s okay to talk about how you feel because sometimes, people will listen. And before you say anything, I know that his household situation isn’t the best. Honestly, it sounds like an abusive situation. It sounds like he’s being emotionally neglected by his father. And that whole situation explains why he doesn’t speak up or make himself known to be upset. He gets punished for even speaking his mind.”

She swallows whatever petals are threatening to come up before continuing.

“Then there’s the way he smiles. Not the way he smiles when he pretends that he’s okay, because that smile is so fragile and painful to me, but the way he smiles when he burst out into genuine laughter and it feels like he’s forgotten all of his worries and all of the pain he’s endured. In just that second, he lights up my entire world because he’s being so... him.”

And Ladybug looks back up at Chat Noir and he’s crying but he nods at her to continue and so she does.

“He even tried to protect me once. Adrien Agreste, a civilian, a model, tried to protect me, Ladybug. And he even hurt his ankle doing so. And then there’s his unwavering trust, like when he jumped off the roof of that tower and just trusted that I would catch him. And he’s just unafraid, and part of that does scare me a bit because it seems as if he doesn’t understand the value of his own life and how much he means to the people around him, but seeing him stand above you, fighting someone off, it can do things to your heart.”

And Ladybug hasn’t heard anything from Chat Noir other than sniffles for a while now, and she can feel the petals coming up her throat again, and she can’t stop them, so she coughs and coughs and they coming spilling out onto the floor and into her hands again.

And she stares at the sunflowers, slightly bloody from the rawness of her throat, and speaks one more time.

“And the way it feels when he holds you against his chest, when you’re pressed up against him, slow-dancing, and he holds onto you like you’re the most precious thing in the world, it just leaves you feeling like you’re in front of a fireplace with blankets and hot chocolate. He makes me warm and fuzzy and all these other feelings I can’t explain.”

And when Ladybug looks up at Chat Noir one more time, he’s got tears rolling down his cheeks and he’s sobbing, and her heart breaks because she’s broken his into a billion little pieces and then burned them into ash and she doesn’t know what do to.

And her thoughts are so busy running through her mind that she doesn’t hear him say, “Plagg, claws in.”

And next thing she knew, she was staring at Adrien Agreste with tears running down his face and a kwami in his hands and he’s looking at her like he had never seen anything so beautiful before. And when his mouth opens and her tears are running down her cheeks, she doesn’t know what he’s going to say.

“Marinette, I love you.”

And it takes Ladybug a moment to realize that Adrien knew who she was on the inside, that he could connect that dots from what she had said about him, that he could even connect anything because he couldn’t even notice her crush on him for forever, but he could tell who she was under the mask?

And when she does realize that he knows and that he just said that he loved her, she starts sobbing harder than before, and she coughs up the last few petals in her lungs before she can breathe again.

And he opens his arms and before she knows it, she’s jumped into his arms and said, “Tikki, spots off.”

And she cries into his arms until they remember that there’s an akumatized villain out there and they have to save Paris from Hawkmoth.

But when they transform back into Ladybug and Chat Noir, and when they go out to fight again, their lungs are no longer blocked.

Later that night, Marinette hears tapping on her balcony window, and when she opens it, Chat Noir is sitting outside.

She lets him in.

They sit on her bed, facing each other.

Chat Noir says, “Plagg, claws in.”

And in front of her is Adrien again and she will never get sick of seeing that.

And suddenly Adrien is talking and she doesn’t know what is happening until he snaps his fingers in front of her eyes.

“What?” Marinette squeaks out.

Adrien giggles. “I was saying that I didn’t get to tell you earlier why I love you.”

And Marinette wants to hear it, she really does, but she already knows. She’s heard what Chat Noir has said to Marinette about Ladybug. She’s heard what Chat Noir has said to Ladybug. She’s heard what Adrien has said about Ladybug. And she knows all of the reasons he likes her as Marinette because he could never resist bragging about Marinette to people like Kagami. So she just puts a finger over his lips and quiets him.

And then she asks him if she can just kiss him.

And he says yes.

And the next morning, when the two of them show up acting a bit closer than they should have been, and neither of them coughing, Alya and Nino know.

And they couldn’t be happier for the sunflower and the rose.