At the age of 8, when asked what she wanted more than anything, Marinette Dupain-Cheng would always get a faraway look in her eyes and say, “To find someone just like my maman and papa did.”
Needless to say, in the 6 years since then, her outlook often changed.
At the age of 12, she claimed, “I’m gonna be the Ultimate Mecha Strike champion!”
By the age of 14, her response became, “I’m going to be a world-famous fashion designer!”
Growing up had taught Marinette that there was more to life than love, and while she was interested in getting married and having a family someday, she hardly considered it the most important goal of her life to find her “soulmate,” a term which she hesitated to accept.
In her mind, there was no way only a single person could be meant for you. What were the chances of two people finding each other? Fate and destiny, and everything associated with the concept of a person having no control over their own lives, were not beliefs Marinette subscribed to.
When she first heard of Andre’s ice cream as a little girl, she squealed with delight, listening, rapt, as her parents told the tale of the first time they tasted the famous love-inducing treat together. She wanted an experience just like theirs.
But as she got older, it bothered her that people could place so much superstition in such a fickle thing. Ice cream wasn’t magic. It tasted sweet, but it didn’t hold any special powers. It wasn’t miraculous.
Still, she always wanted to try his ice cream, if only because she had heard how legendary it was- the best in Paris, if word could be trusted.
So it was that, one day, as she was walking home from school, she heard an interesting tune playing in the distance. Curious, she stopped mid-stride to listen.
Somewhere down the avenue, there was a song playing, its tones soft and airy, its melody light and pleasing. For a moment, she considered tracking down the noise, which was attracting attention from many of the people around her. She watched them head in the direction the sound was coming from, wondering what the fuss was about, and whether she should go see for herself. For that brief second, she looked in the direction of her house, then back toward the sound, taking one step toward home before turning completely around and heading in the other direction.
It’s possible that, in some parallel universe, she simply went home.
But in this world, she didn’t.
She crossed the street.
She followed the sounds and the people.
And that was the day Marinette realized everything she ever thought about life and love and fate…
...was completely wrong.
Adrien Agreste had not lived a very charmed life. To all the world, it appeared as though he was an enviably lucky teenage boy on track to become an enviably lucky man. But of course, not everything is as it appears.
He didn’t really want many things in life.
He wanted a close family.
He wanted someone to love, and to love him in return.
Nothing else mattered.
But his mother was dead, and his father was distant, which meant he was essentially raised by employees and left largely on his own for most of the time.
The prestige, the money, the things , so material and worthless in his eyes, were nothing without the feeling of home , the knowledge of belonging somewhere and to someone.
He was lonely. He didn’t even have friends as his father rarely let him leave the house, and even when he did get to venture outside its doors, he was always isolated, his bodyguard or his father’s assistant acting as a barrier between him and the world. He almost never interacted with strangers, much less other kids his age.
So it was no surprise when Adrien Agreste, rich teen model with all the things money could buy and no one to share them with, started running away from home.
Ok. So he wasn’t running away , per say. He always intended to come back.
But, desperate for human interaction, he found himself exploiting every opportunity he could find to escape his father’s (employees’) clutches and explore the world around him for just a minute without being locked in some sort of protective bubble.
He was curious about everything , from what it was like to go to a movie theater (not for a film premiere, but when actual, regular people were there), to what it was like to swim at a public pool.
He wanted to be able to walk down the street with no destination in mind, no lessons waiting for him when he got home, and no adult figure following him around like a shadow.
He wanted to play at the arcades, go to school like everyone else, binge on pizza, and chips, and sweets.
When his mother was still alive and he was much younger, he had heard all about Andre and the magic of his ice cream. The stories she told him made him believe in true love, that the universe had someone meant for everyone. Adrien wished he could meet his soulmate, and take her to Andre’s someday. After his maman died, he wanted to find him even more, just to feel close again to the one person he thought truly loved him.
His stunts sneaking out were usually short-lived, though, too short-lived for him to have enough time to even find the legendary man.
Then one day, Adrien was sitting in the back of his chauffeured vehicle, staring listlessly at the scenery as it passed him by. Suddenly, the car lurched to an abrupt stop, his bodyguard grunting in frustration at a disturbance. Adrien was startled out of his trance, looking as best he could through the windows to see what was going on, but all he could see were some groups of people passing in front of the car, all seemingly headed in the same direction. His brow lowered over his eyes, and he watched Gorilla become increasingly irritated with the delay before an idea struck him.
The car was stopped.
He was alone in the back seat.
His bodyguard was distracted.
He could escape, if he wanted to, even for a brief period of time.
Flicking his gaze indecisively between the man in the driver’s seat and the world outside, he contemplated how much trouble he would be in when he finally made it home and his father heard about his escapade. Would it be worth it?
In some version of reality, Adrien may have slumped down in his seat, the well-behaved son in him winning the internal debate as he waited for his bodyguard to drive him the rest of the way home.
But that isn’t what happened here. Sitting in the backseat, the only thing Adrien could think of was how much he hated the idea of watching as life just passed him by.
So he dug up the nerve, and in a single, swift movement, he pulled the latch of the handle, jumping out of the car and taking off down the street, doing his best to get lost in the crowd of people. He barely heard Gorilla grunt after him, flying as his feet would take him, past confused passersby, and over any obstacle in his way. At the end of the street, he turned a corner, hiding behind a small outcropping and catching his breath. When he felt the coast was clear, he cautiously stepped and looked around, suddenly catching the sound of something musical.
He was drawn to the sound, and without even thinking about it, he walked in the direction from whence it came, belatedly realizing it was the same direction the people around him were headed. As the music became louder and louder, he realized that it was close and began searching for its source.
Not far, on the other side of a park, was a small group of people crowded around what appeared to be an ice cream vendor.
Adrien felt his heart leap into his throat as he realized just what or who he had stumbled upon.
Despite his previous hurry, he walked slowly closer to the cart, suddenly afraid that all the things he had heard were untrue, that he wouldn’t find his soulmate by eating Andre’s ice cream, and that he would end up alone and unloved forever.
He stayed well back while people waited for their cones, contemplating whether he should just go home. Finally, the line thinned, and he approached, only one person in front of him- a girl, short, but close to him in age, with midnight blue hair.
The way it seemed to shine in the sunlight captured his attention, and for a fleeting moment, he wondered what it would be like to run his fingers through hair so soft.
He shook his head at the thought, though, bringing his gaze up to view the man himself, catching Andre’s eye and noticing it light up with a twinkle.
“Come, young man, come! There’s no need to serve one when I can serve two!”
Adrien took a step forward and stood next to the girl, who turned to look at him.
The absolute sky blue of her eyes as she seemed to stare into him took his breath away.
“Come, my dear, what is your name?” Andre asked, and the girl blinked, swiveling her head back to the waiting man.
“Come now, Marinette, and such a beautiful name! And what about you, monsieur?”
Adrien startled, turning to face him as well.
“I- I’m Adrien,” he answered.
“Wonderful!” the man exclaimed, holding up the two cones he just finished preparing. “For you!” he said, holding out a cone to Marinette. “Strawberry with chocolate chips, blackberry, and blueberry.”
“Th- thank you,” she replied, taking the cone somewhat timidly.
“And for you, monsieur Adrien, pink peach and mint.”
Adrien accepted the ice cream, silently awed. At the last second he remembered himself, attempting to pull out money to pay for both his and Marinette’s cones.
Marinette attempted to convince him that she would pay for her own, but he insisted, handing the money to Andre, only for the man to decline.
“Oh, no!” he said, eyes shining with something mischievous and mysterious. “Consider it a gift! I hope to see you two again soon!”
And with that, both teens shrugged, murmured their thanks, and moved out of the way of customers waiting to be served.
Marinette smiled shyly, taking a taste of her ice cream as she walked, her brow furrowing slightly.
Adrien fell into step beside her, somewhat surprising the girl.
“So, what do you think?” he asked, tasting his own. At the flavor, he frowned slightly as well. “Hmm.”
“What’s the matter? Don’t like it?” Marinette asked.
“It’s not that,” he said, trying to think of how to explain. “It’s just- I don’t know. I guess I’ve always heard about how magical Andre’s ice cream is. It’s good , it’s just, trying it now… it doesn’t feel that magical.” He breathed out a laugh. “I guess I built it up too much in my mind.”
As he watched, the girl half-smiled, taking another lick of her ice cream. “Yea. Me, too,” she said. “When I was younger, my parents used to tell me stories about getting Andre’s ice cream together, and I guess, I just thought it was going to somehow be this life-changing experience.” She blushed, then, and Adrien had the passing thought that she looked cute with rosy cheeks. “I guess that’s silly.”
“Nah, it’s not silly,” he replied, then paused a moment before offering: “I’m Adrien.”
The girl beside him looked at him for a moment.
Matching smiles appeared on both their faces before they suddenly turned away from each other bashfully.
“So,” Adrien broke the silence building between them. “Would you like to try mine? Maybe you’ll like it better.”
“Sure. Do you want to try mine, too?” she asked.
His smile grew into a grin.
They traded cones, then looked at each other with pink tinges in their cheeks.
As Adrien and Marinette tried each other’s ice cream flavors, they each felt a slight shiver run through them.
Wide-eyed, they both stopped in their walk, coming to stand directly in front of each other.
Their gazes dropped simultaneously to the cones in their own hands, then flickered between the ice cream and the person in front of them as though comparing. Finally, Marinette ventured:
“You know, your eyes- they’re mint like green. I- I mean, they’re green like mint!”
Adrien let out a little laugh, feeling a bit lightheaded.
“Yea, you know, this ice cream, you could say it’s a lot like you.”
“I like your ice cream better than mine,” Marinette admitted, still reserved.
“I like yours, too.”
There was a brief silence between them before Adrien said:
“Maybe Andre gave us the wrong cones. Maybe I was meant to have yours, and you were meant to have mine.”
She seemed to ponder this for a moment.
A slow grin started on the blond boy’s face, first on one side, and then spreading to the other.
“Yea. Kinda like that.”
Marinette smiled back, her cheeks turning redder until she looked down in embarrassment.
Then there was a hand taking over her vision, and her head shot back up to face the boy across from her.
“It’s nice to meet you, my lady,” he said.
She place her own hand gingerly in his, watching in mute surprise as he lifted her knuckles softly to his lips.
“N- nice to eat you,” she managed in reply. Adrien suppressed a small chuckle, bringing his arm down by his side, holding Marinette’s hand in his own.
“Can I walk you home?”
The girl nodded, ducking her head as she entwined her fingers with his.
And as they walked down the street hand in hand, each licking their respective sweets, both had to wonder if it wasn’t truly meant to be.