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The picture was beautiful, and quickly gained a lot of attention.

It was difficult for photographers to gain attention, especially in the modern world where everyone has the capability to snap a quick picture of whatever they’d like, at any moment. There are few photographs out there that gain enough attention to be instantly recognizable on-sight, much less the photographers themselves. 

Even if a photographer does manage to get lucky enough to snap a photo that captures the interest of the masses, their name is easily overlooked. Outright ignored, really. 

It’s a sad reality for many who are passionate about their work, but for Adrien, it’s exactly the kind of reason that would lead him to pursuing it.

As his 17th birthday was fast approaching, he started dropping hints around Nathalie and his bodyguard. How he’d like to see what it was like on the other side of the camera. How he wished his phone could capture images better in the dark. How nice it would be to not worry about phone storage when taking pictures and videos with his friends.

Nathalie had delivered him another gold-encrusted pen for his birthday, saying that it was a gift from his father. If he were being honest, he didn’t expect anything different. Hints don’t work on Nathalie, regardless if she caught on to them or not. She just does whatever she’s told, and if she’s not told to get Adrien a nice camera for his birthday, she more than likely won’t do it.

On the car ride to school, he shed a few tears when finding a neatly wrapped gift in the back of the car, signed by his bodyguard. He carefully opened it, not wishing to tear the colourful wrapping, and unearthed a polaroid camera within, with a small handwritten piece of paper containing instructions on how to properly handle it.

Before leaving the car, Adrien had lowered the window separating the back seats from the front, and bodily threw himself through it to give his bodyguard a hug around the shoulders, face stretched into a wide smile. With a murmured and slightly embarrassed ‘thank you,’ he packed the polaroid into his bag, burst out of the car, and rushed up the school steps towards his friends.

His bodyguard smiled, then had to exit the car because Adrien, in his excitement, had totally forgotten to slam the door shut before bolting off.

At first, Adrien used the camera for things any other typical teenaged boy would have used it for. He snapped selfies with his friends, took pictures of places he had been with them, and sometimes snuck a shot of Ladybug every once and a while when she was out solo. 

Then, he started to really notice how pretty Paris truly was.

He had brought it out one morning as Chat Noir, before the sun truly began to peek over the horizon. It was still a bit dark, for the most part, but you could hear activity everywhere, despite it being 5:00. After all, the city was known for it’s many bakeries, and bakers tend to wake very early in the morning before opening up shop. 

In this strange time where morning and night were hard to discern from one another, he had travelled around Paris and snapped as many photos as he could, until he completely ran out of film. He captured bakeries illuminated in a golden glow from within, bakers hard at work visible just through the glass windows. He captured a picture of an empty, unmoving carousel, shiny enough to reflect the light of the sun that’s just barely beginning to rise from hiding. He had captured a picture of an alley occupied by a colony of cats, curled up against each other and pressing against the back door of a flower shop, as though waiting for the kind old florist to wake up and feed them. 

His favourite picture, although he’s rather ashamed to admit, is a picture of Marinette’s balcony, the fairy lights overhead not yet scheduled to turn off on their own. He feels guilty to have taken it without her permission, but as he was passing by, he could hear the sound of her father down below, humming and singing happily to himself, and could smell the freshly bread. All his senses had been taken over with the overwhelming sense of warmth, and looking at her little balcony at that moment, surrounded by well-cared-for potted plants, illuminated by overhanging lights, decked out with a humble cable-spool table and lounge chair… He couldn’t help himself.

Something about Marinette’s balcony made him feel safe, just by looking at it.

(A traitorous voice in the back of his head that sounded suspiciously like Plagg had mused that Marinette, herself, was the source of that safe feeling. He had told that voice, rather snippily, to shut up.) 

Adrien continued to use more and more film as time went on, not only capturing moments between him and his friends, but slowly transitioning to take pictures removed from personal interactions. When he ran out, he would check the film size and rush out to buy more, having more than enough money to buy as much as he wished.

(He feels a small seed of guilt that his bodyguard went out of his way to use his own money in order to buy Adrien a gift. In truth, Adrien could easily have bought a camera for himself. He had only dropped those hints because he had hoped his father would care enough to put some thought into a birthday gift. Still, he is grateful that his bodyguard had cared enough in his father’s stead, and intends to show his appreciation by using the gift every single day.)

There was a brief hiccup, a few days later, when his polaroid would no longer capture pictures. He nearly had a heart attack, dreading that he had already broken his prized possession, but Marinette, bless her heart, had walked into class the next day and told him no, it was not broken. The battery is dead. Here is a new film cartridge. The cartridge is what holds the battery, and continues draining if you leave it in the polaroid. 

(He then admits to that tiny voice he had previously been a bitch to that, yeah, Marinette is his safe place. Sorry about last time. You were right. She’s a gift sent from heaven.) 

That lunch, Adrien asks how she knew about the cartridge. 

“Oh, I overheard Nino mentioning about how upset you were about it yesterday,” she said, averting her eyes shyly, but maintaining an even voice. “So, I asked your bodyguard where he got it from, and went to the shop to ask in person what the problem could be. The one you have is pretty special, since it’s kind of old and there’s not many answers online for problems it may have.”

In the years she and Adrien have known each other, her nervous stuttering had vanished, leaving behind a girl that Adrien found himself increasingly growing to love. He had always been fond of her since the day they met, having been the first person Adrien took the initiative in befriending. But as time went on, and she began to get comfortable around him, his fondness evolved into adoration.

And hearing how she went through all that trouble after school, just because she heard Nino mention in passing that he had been upset over his camera, made his chest swell with the full-force of all the adoration he had for her.

The affection he held made him feel fit to burst, and he couldn’t help but let some of it out in one of the most brilliant smiles he could give her. He reached across the lunchroom table, grabbed one of her hands, and gave it a tight squeeze. 

“Thank you,” he said, very much aware that the tone of his voice was bordering just on the side of ‘more than just friendly,’ but ignoring it in fear of bringing attention to that fact.

(A part of him preened at the blush that spread across her cheeks, making the darker freckles that she had gained over the summer stand out.)

Lunch ended, and time moved on. Marinette had the answers to many of his questions about the polaroid, having been thorough when she had asked the shop owner about it. (She always planned ahead.) She had spent more time with him to help, and encouraged him in his hobby. Sometimes, she would tag along in his exploration of the city, pointing out things he may like to capture. Even smaller things, like directly upwards into the branches of a tree, the sun just barely shining through the masses of leaves. Or a glass bottle of green tea, the light of the sun casting a shadow with shifting green light against a wooden table.

Marinette saw beauty and inspiration in everything, and he was beginning to see it, too. 

(He pins a picture he had taken of her sitting on the edge of a fountain to his desktop monitor, using a magnet to keep it in place. She’s looking into her own reflection, one hand placed on her head and the other between her knees to keep her dress and hat still against the wind. Her smile is radiant. He remembers her telling him to try taking a picture of the water, mentioning how beautiful it looks when the sunlight shines through it and onto the tiles below. He remembers thinking she must have been the source of that sunlight, because he could see no other sun.)

“You’ve gotten really good at this, Adrien,” Marinette says one day, sitting between Alya and Nino on her chaise. They’re all looking through the pictures he had taken that morning, of all the street performers they had seen and the antique shop they visited. 

“I totally agree, man,” Nino says. “Some of these look like they’re Renaissance paintings.”

“Think about what he could do with an upgrade,” Alya jests, not noticing how Adrien hunches his shoulders defensively. “If he can do this with a polaroid, imagine what he could do with a fancy high-tech—”

“I like the polaroid,” Marinette interrupts, coming to his rescue with a sweet smile. “It feels more personal. More loved, I guess? It just feels like it has more emotional value than it would if it were taken with anything else. I mean, could you really imagine the violin one having the same feeling if it were bigger and high-def?” 

Alya squints down at the violin photo, purses her lips, then nods with a sigh, conceding her point. “Yeah, you’re right. Some of these definitely wouldn’t be the same.”

“But some of the others would look better with a modern camera,” Nino notes. “Maybe not ditch the polaroid, but try out using both? You could get a feel for what looks better depending on the camera you use.” 

Adrien’s not happy with the idea at first. He adores his polaroid half as much as he adores Marinette. And, considering that he really adores Marinette, that’s quite the compliment. 

However, a month later, he hadn’t been able to get the thought out of his head. He grows frustrated at how some of the landscapes he tries to capture come out too blurry, which isn’t appealing without the use of a focal point close enough to be clearly captured in the front. He’s aware, now, that he can’t continue exploring his hobby when he’s met the absolute limits of his polaroid. 

He caves, googles ‘best photography cameras,’ and buys a Nikon ‘insert number here’ camera that he already knows he’s going to get irritated with in the near future. 

In preparation, he calls Marinette, because learning camera shit from strangers online never helped him in the past and probably never will. 

She answers on the first ring.

“Hey, Adri—”

“I just bought myself a kinda expensive camera online from this company called Nikon and I was wondering if you maybe possibly know how to work it?”

There’s a stretch of silence, before Marinette sighs. It’s soft and fond and not-at-all annoyed, and Adrien appreciates the lack of judgement she expresses in the face of learning her friend made a probably impulsive online purchase of a likely much more expensive than he implied camera.

“I’m free tomorrow after school,” she says. “You don’t have anything planned until the evening, right? Let’s go together to a tech shop and ask somebody who actually knows their stuff. You should probably write down the exact name of the camera so we can show it to them, too.”

Adrien agrees, delighted at getting to spend more time with her after school, and hangs up.

(He tries not to be too pleased that she pays enough attention to his schedule to know when he’s free.)

Soon, he knows the basics of the newer camera, and learns how to master it in the many months after it’s arrival. He still favours his polaroid, but can’t deny how much he loves to test the limits of his Nikon, now given much more room to explore his passion.

His passion.

It hadn’t occurred to him in the past that that was exactly what it was. He never would have thought it as anything but a hobby, but once again, it’s Marinette that makes him realise this fact about himself.

“You’re amazing, Adrien,” she had said, not looking up from the fabric she was sewing by hand. “You pour so much love and attention into all the photos you take. I really think you should try to go a little further with it, maybe enter a photography contest. A couple small ones, to start with.”

“You really think so?” he questioned, taken by a seed of doubt.

“Absolutely!” 

She finished her final stitch then, and rested the now-finished camisole over her knees. She looked up, blue eyes wide and happy, smiling so brightly he felt as though he would be blinded if he were to stare for too long.

“Me and Alya and Nino all love your work so much! And that’s not just because we’re friends and are obligated to. Besides, entering a contest is just another step in exploring your passion. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, because you’re putting yourself out there.”

She stops, then rolls her eyes at herself. “But, I mean, I will admit that it feels nicer to win. Point is, contests are challenges that push you to get better at the things you’re passionate about, and I really think you have the drive to power through it.”

She was right. She’s always right.

And really, who is he to doubt her, when she’s been putting herself out there, entering fashion contests and winning them, all on her own for years? Of course she knows what she’s talking about.

He enters a contest not even a week later. To the surprise of no one but himself, he wins it, and his picture gets featured in a magazine. 

It made him so happy he cried all over Marinette and Nino’s shirts, at multiple intervals in the day. 

It was foolish of him to not realise that he really, truly was passionate about his ‘little hobby.’ He doesn’t think he would cry 24 hours worth of happy tears because of a ‘little hobby.’

He doesn’t think, at the end of the school day before going home, he would get so happy and so grateful of Marinette’s encouragement that he’d kiss her, right on the lips, over a ‘little hobby.’

He doesn’t even notice until after he’s already being driven away from the school steps.

When he’s alone in his room, (or, as alone as he can be with a kwami that has to be by his side 24/7 in case of emergencies,) he feels emotionally exhausted, collapsing into his bed and staring up at the ceiling. As much as he’d like to think about the events of the day, especially the major fuck-up he had right before leaving school, his mind is ringing like a flatline. He tells Plagg to wake him up in a couple hours for patrol with Ladybug, then falls asleep, resigning himself to the fact that he won’t be able to deal with… All That until tomorrow morning.

When he wakes up, it’s to the stink of a wedge of camembert that’s dropped directly over his face. He immediately flings the disgusting thing away, letting it fly through the air and splat onto the wall on the other side of his room. He takes a moment to chase after a cackling Plagg all over his room, as per routine, before transforming and heading out to perform one of his many heroic responsibilities.

Plagg’s a little shit, but he never fails to make Adrien feel a little better.

He meets up with Ladybug at a secluded, unremarkable rooftop. She seems distracted about something, so before they leave, he asks her what’s wrong.

“Something happened in my civilian life,” she says, eyes not quite meeting his. “You wouldn’t want to hear about it.”

“Try me,” he says, smirking a little. 

“No, Chat,” she says, expression looking pained. “I mean, I really don’t think you’d want to hear it. It’s… It’s about my crush.”

Three years ago, he would have been hurt.

He’s surprised to find that he doesn’t feel even a fraction of that hurt, now.

(He wonders what that means.)

“Go on,” he says, finding no reason to stop the conversation, and not really bothered to want to. “I’m fine, my lady. Tell me what’s bugging you.”

She looks surprised for a moment, at the sincerity of his tone, and almost says something before snapping her mouth shut. 

She glares at him when she realises the pun he tried to slip in there without her notice. 

His smile widens into something a little obnoxious, so she smacks his chest. He laughs.

“The guy I have a crush on,” she finally says. “He, uh. He kissed me recently.”

“Oh, huh,” he says, surprised. After all, it’s been years since she’s had a crush on this guy. A part of him felt like things were just going to stay the same forever, him always pining after Ladybug and her pining after some guy and that guy never doing anything about it.

Thinking on it, though, he realises that’s a pretty stupid thought. It’s not like she was going to have a blushy teenaged unrequited crush for the rest of her life. People grow up, and sooner or later she was going to end up happily dating a guy, get married, have kids, work her dream job… 

They’re not 13 anymore. The way kids view and experience romantic love changes as they get older. Maybe that’s why her crush finally realised what he was missing.

Maybe that’s why Chat doesn’t feel devastated.

Maybe he’s grown up, too. 

(Maybe he’s just so used to feeling disappointed that he no longer registers the feeling anymore. After all, he doesn’t think he feels anything in regards to his father, now. Not anymore.) 

(But he still loves him, right? You never just stop loving somebody.)

“Isn’t that a good thing?” he finally says. “Why do you seem so bothered?”

“I haven’t spoken to him since,” she says. “It just happened pretty suddenly. I really like him, and I’m pretty sure he likes me too, but I’m kind of worried. He was super emotional to– that day, so I don’t think he meant to do that intentionally. If he wasn’t ready, then that means he might not be ready to date me, and I don’t want to push him, no matter how much I like him.”

“Why wouldn’t he be ready? He likes you, doesn’t he?”

Ladybug sighs. “Just because a person likes another person, doesn’t mean they’re prepared to commit to a relationship. Sometimes that’s the reason a person won’t confess their feelings.”

He frowns, not entirely understanding, but at the same time, understanding to a point.

He was desperate, in the past, in trying to ask her out. And, looking back at himself now, he doesn’t think he was ready to be in a committed relationship. In fact, his behavior had been downright bratty on many instances. Even if she did end up agreeing to date him, she was leagues more mature than he was, and it would have been a complete disaster. 

He would have driven her up the fucking wall, with his attitude. 

He hadn’t feared commitment, but he definitely hadn’t been ready for it.

“Well, I suppose there’s no help in worrying,” he says. “I mean, there’s not much you can do until you talk to him. So instead of letting it get you anxious, why don’t we distract you?”

He smirks. 

“I bet I could beat you to the Louvre. Starting from here, no yo-yo, no baton.”

In an instant, her eyes sharpen and burn with a competitive fire, clearly putting her worries on hold in the face of a challenge.

“You’re gonna lose that bet, Chaton.”

He lost that bet.

The next morning, he only remembers about his own kissing problem when he sees Marinette on the school steps. She’s biting at her lip and shifting her legs back and forth, wearing a pastel pink knit sweater, white leggings, and pink sneakers. 

She looks adorable. It’s a shame he can’t really let himself appreciate that until he’s sorted things out with her. He’s itching to snap a photo, another one to pin against one of the corners of his desktop, but this conversation takes priority.

“Hey, Marinette,” he says, catching her attention. “Do you wanna talk? Privately? Like, maybe–”

“We can talk at lunch,” she says, sighing in relief, but still looking just a tad nervous. “We’ll go to my place, eat some leftover quiche, and talk things out in my room, if that’s okay?”

She jumps a bit as a memory hits her.

“Oh! But we might need to sneak you in without my parents noticing. They’ll be… nosy, if I only bring you.”

Adrien nods and laughs. He didn’t understand why Marinette seemed to hate it when her parents peeked into her room all the time when she had guests, at first, but he’s come to realise they only ever seemed to do that if she was alone with a single guest.

Which means Marinette’s just embarrassed that her parents are making wiggly suggestive eyebrow expressions at her every time they think she’s alone with a possible love interest. It’s probably more embarrassing for her because she and Adrien are just friends, so not only are they being embarrassing, but they’re getting the wrong idea.

Sure, he adores Marinette, but he’s not in love with her.

(He fell in love with Ladybug, after all. You never just stop loving somebody.)

So, when lunch comes around, Marinette makes it a personal Mission™ to sneak Adrien into her room without either of her parents’ notice. Which means she leads him past the bakery, towards another store, has him climb up a freaking ladder towards the roof, and gives him instructions on how to get to her balcony without getting hurt.

He decides to question why the hell she knows a path to sneak people in and out of her bedroom at a later date. Priorities.

“So,” Marinette starts, watching as Adrien takes a large bite out of his piece of quiche. She leaves her own untouched. “My first question, I guess, is why you kissed me.”

Adrien swallows and frowns. He’s a little angry at himself for not even thinking about it before lunch, because it means sorting it all out in front of her. 

“I don’t really know,” he says honestly. “I was really happy yesterday, but I was also sort of a sobbing mess. I didn’t even realise I did it until after I left. Maybe I just got… caught up in the moment?”

Marinette doesn’t seem to have any reaction to that. In fact, she looks at him like she knows something he doesn’t.

“Caught up in the moment, huh…”

She sighs.

“Well, I guess that would be a probable excuse, if you had done it the moment you found out the good news. But it doesn’t really make sense when you already let out the biggest burst of your happiness previously. It was the end of the day, I’d think you’d be too exhausted to get ‘caught up in the moment’ again.”

Adrien hums and nods, brow furrowed. Her logic is sound, which means there would have to be another reason he did it. People don’t just mindlessly kiss other people, and it certainly hadn’t been an accident. You don’t ‘accidentally’ cusp your hands against someone’s face and pull them in for a kiss.

“Let’s try something else,” Marinette says. “You look like you’re about to burst a blood vessel, so let’s go about this an easier way.”

Adrien laughs and motions her to continue.

“What were you thinking about before you kissed me?”

He can recall exactly what he was thinking, word for word. Just remembering it makes his heart speed up, and he feels a little embarrassed that he may have to tell her. A part of him wants to maybe rephrase it, or say he was thinking something else, but Marinette hates liars. And above all else, he never wants Marinette to be disappointed in him.

“I was thinking about how incredible you are,” he whispers. He’s not quite sure why he’s whispering, but it feels like he wouldn’t be able to say it otherwise if he were any louder. “You’re like the sun. You brighten up my day, you help me grow and flourish as a person, and everything about you makes me feel warm and safe and content. You make me want to do better, try harder. If it weren’t for you, I never would have entered that contest. If it weren’t for you, I would have never pursued my passion. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have even realised that I had a passion. You, just being there, in my life, have changed it in so many big, wonderful ways. I honestly can’t imagine my life without you in it, and I never want to. I absolutely adore you.”

Marinette’s eyes are wide with awe, her cheeks stained a dark, rosy pink. Her freckles have faded, but they’re still there, even more noticeable over the flush that reddens her skin. Her mouth is parted, lips shimmering with a glittery pink lip-gloss with gold flecks and– and–

He feels a pull, and instantly recognises it as the same feeling he had just before kissing Marinette the other day. In a panic, he resists it, stomping it down. Where had that come from? Why is he feeling that now? He’s nowhere near as emotional as he was yesterday, this shouldn’t be happening, so why—

“Adrien,” Marinette whispers. She brings her hands up and rests her palms on either side of his face, thumbs stroking softly against his cheeks. Her touch is warm and electrifying, and the drum of his heart turns into thunder. Resisting is getting harder and harder.

“What did it feel like when you kissed me? In that moment?” 

If his thoughts before the kiss were vivid, his memory of the kiss itself is like a brand. Maybe he hadn’t realised exactly what he was doing, but the ecstasy he had felt, the fluttering of a million ladybugs unfurling in his stomach and the dizzying pleasure and warmth– oh, he had tried hard not to think about the events that had occurred, and now he knows why. He feels as though his heart can’t take it, like his chest is about to burst open. 

“Guh–Good,” he says, rather lamely, might he add. In his defense, he has a sneaking suspicion that if he were to say all that out loud, it may very easily kill him. “It felt very nice.”

She smiles, cheeks turning even redder. The thought of pressing his lips against that smile rises up, unbidden. It makes his heart jump, and he quickly shoves it back down.

“Have you ever felt anything like that before? Anything close to that? Or… Can you think of someone else who would make you feel like that?”

Instinctually, he wants to say Ladybug. 

But then his brain hits the brakes, skids off the road, and crashes into a pole.

Because, for one, he never actually remembers having kissed Ladybug before.

And secondly, he can’t honestly say that, if Ladybug were to kiss him now, he would feel even a fraction of the intensity he had felt when kissing Marinette. 

Kissing Marinette had been so perfect, his soul had decided to get drunk off the leftover dopamine and leave his body on autopilot for the next 10 minutes. 

The idea of kissing Ladybug makes him feel… Nothing. Nothing at all.

(But you can’t just stop loving someone. You can’t, you can’t, you CAN’T.)

“Adrien? Hey, are you okay?”

Love is supposed to be forever. It can’t be that easy to stop. It’s not

“Adrien, you’re crying! Please answer me, are you alright?”

How could he stop loving Ladybug?

Has he stopped loving his father?

Has he stopped loving his mother?

“Adrien, you’re scaring me.”

The sound of Marinette letting out a sob immediately brings him back down to reality. It’s a distinctive sound that he’s only ever heard a few times before, and each time he’s witnessed it, it left his heart breaking.

Tears have not yet rolled down her cheeks, but her eyes are watery, and if she were to blink, they would certainly spill. He doesn’t hesitate to pull out a handkerchief, the one Marinette had made for him his last birthday, and dab the wetness away from her eyes.

“I’m so sorry, Adrien,” she says. “I made you upset. I shouldn’t have asked those questions, you weren’t ready for it.”

“I made you upset,” he says, aghast that she even felt the need to apologise when she had done nothing wrong. “I made you cry.”

“I didn’t shed a single tear,” she says stubbornly, almost petulantly. His lips quirk up at it, fond and loving.

And that’s the last revelation, isn’t it?

He is no longer in love with Ladybug. That is a fact, no matter how scared he is to admit it. Sure, he loves her, but as his friend and partner. The torch he once held for her has long since extinguished.

Now, though, without the excuse of Ladybug for him to hide behind, he can’t deny the raw and overwhelming affection that he has for Marinette. He can’t reason away that he’s only holding her hand so they won’t get separated. He can’t pretend as though he doesn’t have his desktop utterly framed in candid polaroid pictures of her and her beautiful smile. He can’t lie and tell people he and Marinette are just friends. 

He can barely resist how much he really, really wants to kiss her.

“Oh,” he says in realisation. “You know. You know that I’m in love with you.”

Marinette smiles, taking the handkerchief from his hand and bringing it up to wipe his own tear-stained face.

“Yeah, I do,” she says softly. “But I also knew that you didn’t know. And, if I’m being honest, it seemed like… You weren’t ready to know. Maybe because you didn’t want to, or because you weren’t over that other girl–”

Adrien sucks in a sharp breath, and her smile turns a little weak.

“Yeah, I… It seemed pretty obvious. I thought it was Kagami at first, but she seems to be under the impression that I’m the girl you’ve been chasing for the past three years, which I know isn’t true. I don’t remember ever rejecting you. Besides, you wouldn’t have asked me to help you ask out another girl if you had any romantic interest in me.”

He wonders, really, if that was true. Because he’s been knee-deep in denial, and he doesn’t know how far back that denial went. 

He stared an awful lot at Marinette and Luka, that day.

He ditched Kagami when Marinette seemed upset.

(Damn he hates it when Plagg’s right.)

And it goes back farther than that, doesn’t it?

The special Marinette Lucky Charm. Dragging her onto the dance floor and slow dancing with her at Chloé’s party. 

Oh, shit.

He definitely felt disappointed when he didn’t get to kiss Marinette for Nino’s school film. In fact, he felt, what he thought to be, a good amount of irrational anger towards Chloé for interrupting. 

“I think I’ve liked you for a lot longer than you believe.” 

Marinette frowns, not quite believing him, but choosing not to question it.

“For what it’s worth,” he continues. “I also don’t… I don’t like that other girl anymore. I haven’t for a long time, I think.”

“Oh,” is all Marinette says.

A silence comes and goes.

“What are we going to do about this, now?” Adrien questions. 

“I’m fine with whatever you decide,” she says. Then, after a moment, smirks at him rather devilishly. “I mean, that’s assuming you are the gentleman I believe you to be, and aren’t going to ask for the horizontal tango–”

“Oh my GOD, MARINETTE!”

They decide to go out on a date next Wednesday. 

It was a whole day to themselves. They woke up in the morning and met up at the park, laying down a blanket to have a nice picnic breakfast together. Adrien had brought his polaroid and had taken every opportunity he could to capture Marinette’s beauty, from her shimmery golden skirt and white sweater, to her brilliant smile and pink cheeks. 

After breakfast, they drove to Jeu de Paume, a modern and postmodern photography and media museum. It was a place Marinette had suggested, saying that it would be fun and provide him with some useful tips. She wasn’t wrong about that. She’s never wrong.

After that, they returned to Marinette’s home and had lunch with her family. While this shouldn’t be anything new to him, it’s the first time he’s ever eaten lunch with them with the knowledge that he is now dating their daughter.

Tom seems completely set on the idea of him taking over the bakery. He is not surprised. He went through this same conversation before, although last time he was rejecting Marinette and got her father akumatised. (Yikes.)

It’s a slight surprise that her dream pet is still, apparently, a hamster named Nightmare. No, the name Nightmare is not a mistake. That is literally what she wants to name it.

(He once again has to resist the urge to kiss her. Seems like a bad idea to even attempt that in front of her parents, much less on a first date. But can you really blame him? Nightmare the hamster. She’s fucking adorable.)

After lunch, it’s an Ultimate Mecha Strike IV showdown with the whole family. Marinette, naturally, decimates them all, which later forces them to switch to Battle Royale mode with all four controllers and have them team up in order to beat Marinette’s mecha into a pulp. That, too, utterly fails, and Adrien is surprised to hear Sabine yell out a plethora of not-so-child-friendly things in Mandarin, then spectacularly rage quit by throwing her controller into the air, pointing an accusatory finger at Marinette, and yell “You’re grounded, young lady!”

It was the funniest thing he had ever seen in his life. 

After that, he and Marinette said goodbye and walked towards the nearest theatre. They crossed over a bridge, and Adrien deliberately fell a little behind so he could snap a shot of her walking in front of him. The sky was orange and red, and the golden ribbons tied to the buns in her hair trailed behind her, catching the wind. It was another to pin around his desktop.

He’s probably going to need a corkboard at this rate, actually. He doesn’t remember there being any more space for another picture to frame his desktops. (And he, technically, has three, so that’s saying something.)

They watch a Pokémon movie. Screw romantic clichés with horror films or romcoms. Besides, who says watching a cartoon can’t be romantic?

Because, Adrien believes, really, that the most romantic experience he’s ever had is the feeling of Marinette lowering the armrest between them so she can lean against his shoulder and drape her legs over his lap.

Adrien never thought pretty girls who curled against him were all that dangerous, at most they were uncomfortable and irritating. But none of those pretty girls had been Marinette, and boy, was she dangerous. The smell of her perfume, her arm intertwined with his, the little noises she made in reaction to the plot of the movie, (because unlike him, she was actually paying attention,) it was all, for the lack of a better word, dangerous.

Adrien’s always been a bit of a risk taker, though. 

When the movie ends, Marinette insists that they eat dinner at her house instead of a fancy restaurant that she knows he wants to take her to. She easily gets him to agree, bribing him with the fact that he could stick around a while after eating. He makes her promise, in return, that he gets to pay and plan their next date, since she had totally taken control of this one. 

He’s glad he let himself be so easily swayed, because this is the most time he’s spent with a full, happy family in a single day, and he can’t help but bask in it. 

They end the day cuddling up on Marinette’s balcony, sharing the lounge chair. Just in front of them is a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, and down below Marinette’s parents are listening to a gentle romantic tune. Marinette’s fairy lights automatically turn on as the time finally hits 19:00, although it feels as though time isn’t moving at all. 

With a smile, Adrien reaches into his bag and pulls out his digital camera, knowing that it’s gotten too dark for the polaroid. He captures an image of Marinette’s balcony, their feet curled together at the bottom, a string of her fairy lights hanging low enough to be seen at the top, and her plants framing everything on both sides. The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower is just past everything, with a purplish red sky behind it. 

“You know,” Marinette murmurs against his collar bone, one eye open to peer at the picture he had just taken. “You could make a photography blog. Don’t share it on any of your celebrity social media, but still put your name on it and wait until someone notices.”

Adrien snorts.

“That sounds exactly like the kind of move I would pull.”

“Exactly,” Marinette grins. “That means you should totally do it. It’s an obligation, now. You have to stay true to your character.”

He laughs.

Two nights later, despite the fact that she had clearly been joking, he does exactly that.

He posted every picture he had that didn’t explicitly show either his or the faces of his friends, 5 pictures a night. Lots of aesthetic bloggers and whatnot followed him, and some people who simply had a passion for photography as well. He never captioned any of his work, simply loading and posting. It took about a month later for someone to finally connect his name to his modelling career, and even then, they had believed it was either a joke or just some dude with the same name. (They were American, and probably hadn’t realised that ‘Agreste’ was, by no means, a common family name in Paris, France.)

Three years later of this same routine, Adrien finally captions a photo. It’s a picture at a restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower, that alone being a breathtaking sight. At the very bottom of the picture, two hands are intertwined, glimmering rings taking the focus. Next to their hands are two wine glasses, half-full, with the barely visible outlines of their faces reflected onto the surfaces. 

She Said Yes

The picture was beautiful, and quickly gained a lot of attention. 

Adrien Agreste knew, eventually, that a picture like this will at some point get people to realise who he truly is, but that more than likely won’t happen for a while. Most people ignore the names of photographers, anyways. And no one’s going to try too hard to analyse his face in the wine glass for quite some time. (Really, if someone does, who’s gonna believe them? People who actually try that hard to figure out a stranger’s identity are often considered conspiracy/crack theorists.)

In the meantime, while they wait for the day to come, he’s going to be busy helping out in the bakery, taking photographs, and modelling the latest fashion line for La Coccinelle. She’s going to be busy designing a new bridal line along with her own dress, which she’ll be sewing herself, and managing her growing fashion empire, crushing Gabriel Agreste in the process. 

And they’re both going to be busy planning their wedding.

 


 

LovelyRose269
: Hey is it just me or is that fucking Adrien Agreste???

CarolineBabey
: @LovelyRose269 What?

JaredCantRead
: @LovelyRose269 ok i literally just checked and it says its taken by adrien agreste so i mean i guess it is? ur right

LovelyRose269
: @JaredCantRead I’M RIGHT??? W H A T

MarinetteFanclubPresident
: uhhhhh okay I just saw a recent candid of Adrien and Marinette and I looked at their hands and their engagement rings match this picture guys look at this [image] [image]

LovelyRose269
: OH MGOD I JUST CHEKCED IT UP ITS T RUE

FashionBuzz
: k i just got here and saw everyone screaming abt MDC’s fiancé whats going on

FashionBuzz
: im thirsty for gossip pls respond

Marinette-Dupain-Cheng [verified]
: @FashionBuzz Chloé I know it’s you quit pretending to be a photography fan and just ask us yourself u coward

FashionBuzz
: @Marinette-Dupain-Cheng ew no fuck off id rather ask the nerds

CarolineBabey
: @FashionBuzz OH MY GOD?

JaredCantRead
: @FashionBuzz Oh my god

LovelyRose269
: @FashionBuzz OH MY FUCKING GOD??????

MarinetteFanclubPresident
: @Marinette-Dupain-Cheng wait wait wait HOLD UP DOES THAT MEAN IT’S TRUE?

Adrien-Dupain-Cheng 
: Hey. You guys weren’t supposed to figure it out yet. Stop being smart. 

FashionBuzz
: @Adrien-Dupain-Cheng lmao you changed your user and lost your verification you fucking moron

Adrien-Dupain-Cheng
: @FashionBuzz FUCK

DoneWithEverything
: am I having a fucking stroke or did the mayor of Paris actually fucking set up a stealth account and is trying to stalk her own friends online

DoneWithEveryone
: Uhhh am I having a second stroke or did the mayor of Paris publicly call her childhood best friend a fucking moron

LeatherClaws
: Hey am I literally the only person who thinks the guy in the wine glass looks like Chat Noir. Anybody?