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All's Fair in Love and War (And Turnabout's Fair Play)

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Lila Rossi doesn’t have friends.

Well—it would be more accurate to say that nobody has friends. At least not the way it’s portrayed in movies and TV. People use each other for mutual advantage, that’s all it is. Promises are lies, trust is a fallacy of the naïve, and “friendship” is just another form of leverage. Honestly, she feels sorry for everyone who deludes themselves that their interpersonal relationships actually mean anything—they’d turn on each other without a second thought at the slightest hint of an advantage.

Everyone lies. Lila Rossi is the only person she knows who’s honest enough to admit it to herself.

She left guilt behind a long time ago; why feel guilty about something everyone does, just because she’s better at it? Dupain-Cheng’s the only one who can give her a run for her money, what with her false sweetness and the obvious fixation on social climbing that is her obsession with Adrien—an obsession that everyone else seems to believe is genuine romance, deluded morons—but she seems not to have the guts to actually make a move the way Lila does, so replacing her at the top wasn’t even child’s play. And now she’s got Adrien wrapped around her finger. It wasn’t even hard. Poor boy is the most trusting and oblivious person she’s ever met; she could probably kill someone in front of him and he’d take the heat to protect her from jail. So chivalrous. So dumb.

Lila Rossi is queen of the school, and things couldn’t be better.

She walks into Lycee with her usual bright smile painted onto her face, excited for a new day with her “friends.” She walks with a bounce in her step, full of joy and pep, and waves towards her classmates. “Hi everyone!”

Nino sees her first. Quiet, trusting Nino, who’s willing to do anything to get his music known, Nino who... Wait. That’s—that’s not his usual expression.

Nino Lahiffe catches her eye, and his face twists in disgust. He nudges his girlfriend—Alya, so obsessed with Ladybug she was willing to tank her credibility for an interview with someone even tangentially related—turns toward her, sets her jaw, narrows her eyes. That’s a killing face.

Lila halts mid-step. What are they doing? Did the figure it out? No, impossible. They’re too stupid for that. Marinette must’ve done something. Well, no matter, she can always—

Lila suddenly realizes that the entire courtyard has fallen silent. And, more than that: everyone is looking at her.

She turns, both directions, trying to read their expressions, but none of them can meet her eyes. A few of them look back up, hate burning in their gazes, and she feels her heart begin to press against her ribs. Something’s happened. Something big. And she’s out of the loop.

She looks back toward Nino, who has crossed his arms and stepped between her and Adrien. Like a barrier. Like he’s... protecting him?

Lila steps forward, and she can feel the hairs on her neck stand up higher. The tension ratchets up another notch.

She looks to Adrien—sweet, caring, stupid Adrien—and he smiles. Smiles in that beatific way of his, like there’s absolutely nothing going on in his head, like he’s just watched her shoot his dog and is now wondering whose fault it is that his dog has a bullet in it. But there—just for a moment—

Is she imagining the cruel fire in his eyes?

Marinette wanders through the school’s front gate, grumbling under her breath about something—the earliness of the morning, maybe—and Lila snaps around to look at her. The girl jerks back, confused, then her gaze flicks around the courtyard.

Lila sneers at her where no one can see. Marinette looks at her flatly, then pushes past her and walks toward Lila’s friends, leaving the Italian girl slack-jawed and frozen.

Alya glares at Lila, taking Marinette under her arm, and then her gaze softens as she turns to the smaller girl. Starts mumbling something. Marinette’s jaw quivers—she looks like she’s about to cry.

Lila takes one more quick look around the courtyard, then starts walking toward Adrien. He’ll sort this out. One flutter of her eyelashes and a pout of her lips and everything will be taken care of. Boys are so easy, sometimes.

Except Nino pushes Adrien backward with one arm, and now Alya is hiding Marinette behind her too, and that little Chinese hussy has Adrien’s hand in hers—Lila’s Adrien. She’s saying something Lila can’t hear, something not particularly important, when Alya clears her throat.

“Lila,” she says. “I think... you should stay away from us. For a while.”

“What?” Lila says. She shallows her breath and widens her eyes, a surefire way to fake tears... yep, there they are, gathering at the edges of her eyes. “Why—what did Marinette say?”

Alya shakes her head. “Marinette has nothing to do with this,” she says. She raises a hand, as if to comfort Lila, then her fingers clench. She grimaces, and her hand withdraws. “Just—just stay away.”

“Alya!” Lila reaches out to Alya, only to have her hand knocked away.

“You’re not welcome here,” Alya growls, before turning around and walking back to her boyfriend.

Lila stares after her, utterly flabbergasted. What... what happened? There’s no way she’s been exposed—nobody ever bothers to do the research (except that snake Dupain-Cheng, but it wasn’t like anyone was listening to her). Lila looks around for support, but again, nobody is willing to look at her with anything other than disdain.

Her phone goes off—Adrien’s text tone. She narrows her eyes in confusion, reaching into her backpack.

Adrien:  I warned you what would happen if you kept hurting my friends. You probably should have listened. :)

Another text comes through, this one with a link to a news article. She clicks it open.

Agreste Rocks Paris with Shocking Interview: “She Broke Into My House”

She barely manages to read the first few lines before it catches up with her. There’s no names, but anyone who knows her will know exactly who he’s talking about; there’s too much detail for it to be anyone else. He’s clearly referring to her when he mentions a stalker who “scares me so much that sometimes I make terrible excuses to leave class just to get away from her.” He talks about how she pretended to be a fox hero to get his attention; how she took that kiss selfie with him without his permission; how she’s tried to kill him multiple times under the influence of an Akuma.

None of what he says is false. All of it is verifiable. And no matter what she says against it... everyone in Paris trusts Adrien Agreste. He’s the golden boy, the darling son. If it comes down to his word versus hers, there is no way in hell anyone in this city is going to believe her.

In one move, he’s crucified her, and she has no idea why.