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The Way Things Used To Be

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Quick Note: To see all artwork for this story and upcoming stories please follow my Instagram @ashlynn_montgomery_ao3

 

“So i know everyone at this table loves to play oblivious, but are we seriously going to just ignore he fact that one day Mari has a huge rock on her finger and today it seems to have disappeared,” the pink haired girl said as she put down her coffee mug and turned to look at her friends while the blackette tried to move on as if those words hadn’t affected her deeply. 

Sunday brunches with all of her girl friends from lycee had become a tradition once they had all gone off to different universities across Paris. While their whole class had become close, there was no doubt that the girls and guys needed their own time away from the other group so every Sunday the girls would meet for lunch while the boys would do whatever they did and at the and of the day they all would get together and hang out like when they were younger. They still talked outside of Sundays, but with everyone having grown up they all had their own lives that they were living. Unfortunately for one blue eyed classmate, that life she was living outside of the group was now today’s topic thanks to her fierce pink haired friend.

“Alex,” the purple haired woman hissed our from beside her,” Marinette will tell us when she’s ready.”

“Oh come on Juleka,” the blonde girl said with a sigh and an eye roll. “Marinette is usually a fountain of emotions. She always tells us what’s going on. She was practically bouncing in her seat the day she got into ESMOD and squealed all day when she got that job at Agreste Fashion House. Hell she ran in here screaming when she got promoted to the board of head designers under Uncle Gabriel. I’m sure everyone at this table wants to know why she hasn’t said anything about the sudden lack of jewelry on her hand.”

“There’s a difference in wanting to talk about something exciting and something possibly upsetting Chloe,” the brunette said as she jumped to her best friend’s defense. “If it what we think it is then it probably has to do with Luka who just so happened to leave for the American tour with his band today. If she doesn’t want to talk about it then there’s a reason and we should respect that reason.”

“I’m surprised you weren’t the first one to start the interrogation Alya,” the other blonde pointed out. “You’re usually the first one to speak up, especially when it comes to Mari and her relationships.”

“She’s just trying to be a good friend Rose,” the ginger to her left said as she fixed her glasses.

“Rose was just pointing out how strange this whole thing is,” the short woman commented. “It’s totally out of character for Alya to not comment on Marinette’s quietness today.”

It was at this point that the blackette chose to give up on her breakfast and place her fork quietly on her plate.

“You’re not helping Mylene,” the ginger snapped harshly.

“Neither was anyone else Sabrina,” Mylene but back.

“Girls none of you are helping can we just drop it,” the blue eyes woman groaned as she placed her elbows on the table and dropped her face into her hands.

“Don’t worry Marinette whatever happened you can tell us whenever you are ready to talk about it, right girls,” the brunette said as she threw a glare to everyone around the table.

“Right,” they all said in slight fear of the Alya’s death glare.

“They’re just worried about how quiet you’ve been lately, but as we agreed, you’ll tell us when you’re ready,” Alya reassured her best friend once again.

“Thank you and I’m sorry for snapping,” Mari eye said as she sat back up and used her napkin to dab her eyes and nose dry. “It’s just this on top of work and everything else is a little too stressful and I just need a moment to process everything for myself before I talk about it but I promise you girls will be the first to know when I do decide to talk, okay?”

“We’re always here to talk Mari,” Alya said as she gave the girl a hug. “Now onto a different topic, can I just say once again how amazing the food is?! Like seriously, why didn’t you’re parents and grandparents turn the bakery into a cafe sooner?!”

The sudden outburst from Alya was just what Marinette needed to let out a laugh as they all started eating again.

“Good thing I snapped out of my rut and realized how amazing you were or I don’t know what I’d do,” Chloe said after swallowing a bite of toast and chasing it down with a drink from her mimosa. “These brunches are the best thing that ever happened to me! I don’t think I could live without fresh pastries in the morning.”

“Well I’m glad that us becoming friends has eased some of your troubles Chlo,” Marinette said with a laugh. Before her phone began to ring.

“I’m just saying,” Chloe continued as Marinette opened her purse and started to search for her phone,” where else can you go and get a whole private room for brunch with the girls?”

“You’ve got a point there,” Alex said as she took another bite of her omelet.

As Marinette pulled or her phone and saw the caller ID Alya let out a groan and dropped her fork.

“Mari please tell your job to kindly screw off and leave us be,” the brunette said with pleading eyes as her best friend stood up.

“It’ll just be a quick call Alya I’m sure everything is fine. I’ll be right back,” the blackette said as she hit the answer button on her way to the door.

“This is Ms. Dupain-Chen’s speaking,” she spoke I to the phone.

“Good morning Marinette,” the monotone voice greeted back. “Mr. Agreste has asked that I inform you that unfortunately the photos taken for your interview with Paris Weekly have been lost in a technical related incident and need to be taken as soon as possible for the spread coming out in two days. You’re needed immediately in order to meet with Mr. Agreste after the shoot and before the interview you have scheduled with Mrs. Chamak this afternoon at 5.”

“Thank you Nathalie I’ll be right over,” Marinette said before saying goodbye and hanging up the phone with a sigh.

Her friends were not going to be happy about this.

As she made her way to the table face immediately fell at the expression on Marinette’s face.

“What is it this time,” she asked, drawing the attention of the rest of their group.

“The photos we took for the interview with Paris Weekly got deleted somehow and now I need to go in and retake them before the spread that comes out in 2 days. Then I have a meeting with Gabriel before the interview with Nadia,” Marinette explained as she gathered her purse and placed a $20 bill on the table.

“I’m so sorry girls! Tell you what, since no one works tomorrow sleep over at my place tonight and we’ll do breakfast in the morning. I’ll cook!”

“Yeah you will,” Alex said as she walked towards the door.

“Perfect,” Marinette said with a sigh. “See you girls tonight,” she yelled as she walked out the door and got in her call before pulling out and driving away.

“And there she goes,” Mylene sighed. “I swear that woman works too much for her own good.”

“You would too if everyone had heir eyes on you,” Juleka said. “Being seen as Gabriel Agreste’s protégé recommended by the Queen of Fashion herself can’t be easy.”

“Should we warn her that he’s back in town,” Chloe asked as she turned to Alya. “He’s going to be there when she is.”

“No let’s let her deal with it when it happens,” the woman said as she took another drink of her mimosa. “By the time we see her next she’ll have cooled down some.”

“You think so,” Rose and Sabrina asked in unison, earning them both stares from around he table.

“Oh no she’s going to be pissed at us,” Alya laughed out.

“Damn straight she will be,” Chloe said before they all went back to conversation going as they ate.

~*~

No matter how many times she walked through those big glass doors, it was like she was dreaming and the job she had always dreamed having would disappear at any second. As she walked passed people in the lobby they would greet her formally with a smile and it just made her want to pitch herself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. Just the thought of working for Agreste Fashion house was enough to make the pit of happiness in her stomach erupt and make itself known with a big smile on Marinette’s face, and nothing could break that smile. 

Not even the two people that swarmed her the second she walked through the lobby doors, tablets in hand ready to talk her ear off with information and tasks that needed to be done.

When Gabriel has given her an assistant and a secretary she felt as though she didn’t need both but having both Jenny and Gael helping her with staying on schedule and finishing tasks was a huge relief and a large weight off her shoulders. Now she couldn’t be more grateful for the friends she had at work. 

“Marinette,” the spunky blue haired girl nearly shouted as she approached the smiling woman,” thank goodness you’re here I was just abot to call you!”

”We’re not sure exactly how the photos were lost but the photographer from Paris Weekly is almost here and hair, makeup, and wardrobe are on their way to the studio as we speak,” Gael explained as the trio power walked through the building, never once looking up from his tablet. 

“Unfortunately Studio B is completely filled with the models taking their photos for the spring collection, which is brilliant if I do say so my self,” Jenny said as she handed Marinette a cup of Honey and Jasmine tea to help keep her calm. “Instead of Studio B we’ll be retaking the photos in Studio A where Ms. Sinclair is waiting to debrief you on a few other matters that require your attention.”

”I thought that Studio A was only for the top models,” Marinette questioned with a curious glance. “And what other matters are there that need to be discussed with Ms. Sinclair?”

”While it’s true that Studio is only for our A-list models and the designers running through the final touches before a show it’s the only studio with an available room on such short notice,” Gael explained as they walked through the fabric department of the building. “As for other details that need your attention, Ms. Sinclair has also asked us to inform you that all major detains in regards to the Spring Festival fashion show have been set by Mr. Agreste himself and his team but since this is your second line he would like for you to iron out the smaller details to add your own touch to the whole event. Since the show is only a month away he figures that this week should be enough time to complete all details related to the show.”

”That should be more than enough time to get everything decided and set into motion thank you Gael,” Marinette said to her secretary with a thankful smile. 

“You’re very welcome Ma’am!” 

“The majority of the final details are in regards to your friends and family’s roles in making everything happen but there are a few decorations and runway matters that require your attention,” Jenny explained as she began typing away at her tablet. 

“I don’t know where I would be without the two of you,” Marinette said as she laid a hand on Gael’s shoulder and smiled gratefully at the pair as they approached Studio A. 

“Probably lost and scared and stressed to the max,” Gael said with a laugh.

”You’re probably right there my friend,” Marinette said with a laugh of her own as they opened the door and walked into the studio, heading to one of the back left rooms, passing all of the models working with their designers.

“Is there anything else I should know before entering the lions den,” she asked with a small chuckle.

”Unfortunately that’s everything Ms. Sinclair asked us to inform you about before you got to the shoot,” Jenny informed the woman. “Only Nathalie has information regarding other private matters.”

”Well thank you both very much for helping me through everything,” Marinette said once again as they reached one of the private dressing rooms where she was instantly seated in a chair as outfits were hauled in and hands flew all around her hair and face.

Suddenly she was a tad more grateful that she had chosen not to wear makeup his morning and left her natural long hair flowing in its naturally straight state flowing down to the middle of her back. The navy blue dress and ballet flats she was currently wearing would be switched for a red blouse accompanied by a black skirt as well as a pair of strappy red heels. Her earrings would be chosen by wardrobe and would be placed in her ears right below the black earrings she never took off.

The sudden light from the mirror pulled Marinette out of her haze just as Nathalie Sinclair made her way into the room, tablet in hand as it always was. 

“Oh good you’re almost done with hair and makeup for the first set of photos,” the woman said with a small smile. It had taken a while for Marinette to break past the cold exterior of Agreste Fashion House, but ever since the famous return of Gabriel Agreste’s long lost wife, Emilie, things had become more lively at the office.

”The festival’s decorating committee will be at your office in one hour to sort through the final decorations. Before that however you will be meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Agreste to finalize runway detains as well as the upcoming summer collection you will be working on. There is one other subject which Mr. Agreste wishes to speak to you privately about but he will let you know of that when you meet with him. Once everything is completed you will be driven to your interview with Mrs. Chamak and back when the interview is over. Any questions?”

”No ma’am,” Mari eggs said as the hairdresser sprayed her hair one last time and the makeup artist applied the final swipe of blush. 

“Perfect,” Nathalie said as she lowered the tablet right in front of her and moved aside for the hair and makeup artists to leave the room.

“Gael and Jenny will be out in the hall waiting to take you to your shoot as soon as you are dressed,” Nathalie said before leaving the room. 

As soon as the door was closed and locked Marinette went straight for the first outfit and with the help of wardrobe, carefully slipped into her first outfit before opening the door and walking with Jenny, Gael, and the rest of the crew to the set. 

“Are you read, Gael asked as they approached the set. “We know how you get nervous before hand.”

”I’m okay but thank you for worrying about me,” Marinette said with a smile before she was pulled away by photographers and positioned for pictures as the loud studio music blasted through the speakers. 

“Oh she’s got this,” Jenny said as she and Gael watched their boss pose for photos. “She’s a natural at pretty much everything!”

”Yeah but remember when we first met her she spilled coffee all over herself trying to figure it where she was going,” Gael pointed out with a chuckle. 

“Yeah but look how far she’s come in just a year,” Jenny pointed out. “She May have been all flustered in the beginning but now she’s like this fierce model ready to take on the world.”

”Our little girl’s all grown up,” Gael said as he sniffles and wiped a fake team from his eye, earning a glare and shove from Jenny before the pair was scolded by for their childish behavior. 

~*~

”You wanted to speak to me father,” the young man asked as he walked into the dark observation room.

”Yes I did,” Gabriel said as he turned to the young man approaching him. No matter how many times he repeated it in his head, he couldn’t believe that fact that his son was now a man of his own and not a young teenager anymore. “How is the shoot for the spring collection coming along?”

”So far so good,” the blonde man assured his father as he came to stand by him and look into the room his father seemed to be observing. “Is that a new model or something?”

”No she’s the new designer your mother was telling you about last night at dinner,” Gabriel corrected. “Her photos for her interview had gotten deleted so she had to come retake them.”

”Her outfit sure doesn’t look like something you would have created father,” the man commented as he took in the woman’s red off the shoulder dress that had a bow cinching the waist to help accentuate her body natural curves.

Her hair was in soft waves flowing down her back and over her right shoulder with her hair off her left shoulder showing the red floral hoops that hung from her ears almost matching the ruby necklace that sat between her collar bones. Her makeup was light and had a slight shimmer to it while her lips were bright red like her dress and held an almost familiar smile as she laughed at something good the photographer said. Her legs crossed in the chair she sat in and he noticed the black heels at the end of her legs. After a few more photos were snapped the woman was directed out of the room by a man and woman who laughed as they walked away.

“This designer makes her own clothes for occasions such as this and I like the uniqueness she adds to them,” Gabriel explained to his son. “So tell me son, how was your time in China?”

”Father believe me when I tell you it was amazing,” the young man said with a large smile. “The children were incredible and everything at our Fashion House out there is running smoothly.”

”As expected,” Gabriel said as he patted his son on the back. “Adrien I want to apologize again for the way I handled everything when your mother was gone. The way I went about raising you was wrong and for that I am deeply sorry,” Gabriel said as he pulled his son in for a hug. 

“Let’s leave the past in the past and move forward father,” Adrien said as he hugged his father back. “I forgive you for everything. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. We’d both lost mother and we’re going through different stages of grief. As long as you promise to stay this happy we’ll be just fine.”

”I keep trying to tell him it’s the past but he seems hell bent on tearing himself over it,” the blonde woman said as she made her way to her two favorite men. “Hopefully this time is the last time he brings it up, yes.”

”As you wish my darling Emilie,” Gabriel said as he pulled his wife to his side. 

“Hopefully this time it sticks,” Adrien jokes as his father gave him a playful nudge before the door to the studio opened back again to reveal the woman from earlier wearing a completely different outfit from the sweet one she had on just moments before. 

“Oh I love her dress,” Emilie stated as she look in the outfit. 

In contrast to the previous sweet outfit, this dress was form fitting and stopped mid thigh with a small section on the left leg crawling up the models leg with a red belt like tie holding the slit sides of the dress together. The sleeves were long and the neckline covered the woman’s collarbones and stopped at the neck. Her legs ended in a pair of sparkling black heeled boots that were an inch higher than the last pair. Her necklace sat on her chest outside of the dress and her earrings from what he could see were a patterned cluster of red jewels. Her eye makeup and contour were darker and her lips were now natural instead of bright red, but still held a slight tint from the previous lipstick. Have of her midnight black hair had been pulled up and her curls had been made tighter. 

As he looked closer at the woman he noticed something familiar in her eyes as she posed for more photos. The fire behind her eyes was oddly familiar but he couldn’t place where he had seen that kind of fire before. 

“YKU said she was a new designer father,” Adrien questioned with his arms crossed. “She looks like one of the models you have in the other rooms. She’s a natural.”

”She has no problem modeling her own outfits but she prefers to leave modeling the collections to the professionals as she likes to say,” Emile said as the family watched from behind the glass. 

“What’s with the red and black,” Adrien asked curiously. There wants only one other woman he knew who wore those colors with that fire in her eyes. Sadly he had moved away and hadn’t had the privilege of seeing her in years. 

“No one knows,” Gabriel said. “She says they remind her of her favorite times so we just let her be. As long as she represents Agreste fashion as well as she does her job I see no problem with it.”

As the shoot wrapped up Adrien noticed Nathalie leading the woman out of the room as the other two trailed behind while the photographers cleaned up their equipment. 

“Come son, we have a meeting with our new designer we don’t want to be late for,” Emilie said, directing the two men out of the room. 

“Yes mother,” Adrien said as he followed his parents. 

“Where have I seen her before,” he thought to himself as they walked into his father’s office. 

“Now Adrien I know you are aware that we are pairing you with a new designer,” Gabriel said as he leaned back in his desk as his son stood by him. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

”Absolutely father,” Adrien said with a serious face. “I’ve studied everything about business and have been to every Agreste Fashion House long enough to know the ins and outs of how we navigate at each one. I’m ready.”

”Then you’re ready to meet my protégée and the woman who very well may run the design department once I retire,” Gabriel said as he shook his sons hand with a proud smile. 

“Have I met her before,” Adrien asked as they waited for the woman to enter the office. 

“I believe you attended lycee we her,” Emilie said before there was a knock at the door. “Come in dear!”

Once the doors swung open Adrien was once again greeted with the woman from before but this time she wasn’t in red. The simple yet beautiful look she has now made his eyes widen slightly as he caught her bright blue eyes.

Now the woman wore a navy blue dress with a boxed neckline and sleeves that stopped at her shoulders with small bows at the end and end a few inches before her knees and winched at the waist. The dress had buttons running down the middle to make the dress appear as if it needed to be buttoned up. Small orangish, brown wedges held her feet and carry her into the room.

The ruby necklace once again rested between her collar bones and her hair looked as though it had been brushed out and now rested in soft waves at her waist in the style of had been before with hair resting on one shoulder and the other side tucked behind her ear, showing off her simple black earrings that had another piercing right below free of any earrings. Her makeup now consisted of winged eyeliner and concealer with a light layer of powder and slight blush but no contour or lipstick.

Instead her lips held a slight shine that signaled that she had applied a clear gloss by the looks of it. To complete the whole look, a familiar pink shoulder bag was sling across her right shoulder and Adrien instantly recognized the blue and yellow string of beads dangling on the side next to a silver charm bracelet.

Suddenly Adrien now knew where he had see this woman before, but he couldn’t believe his eyes. The girl he had known was slightly quirky and clumsy compared to the woman he saw modeling just a few minutes earlier. That woman was beautiful and confident in her skin and managed to make every move she made graceful and controlled. He just needed a bit of confirmation to make sure he was correct so without thinking he spoke up. 

“Marinette,” he asked in slight disbelief at the woman in front of him. “Is that really you?”

”Adrien,” Marinette asked as her eyes blew wide open and her jaw dropped in shock. 

She was so going to kill her girl friends for not telling her he was back in Paris!

Final Note: To see all artwork for this story and upcoming stories please follow my Instagram @ashlynn_montgomery_ao3