The Grand Paris Hotel hadn’t aged a day in the past five years. All white marble and (gaudy, if Marinette was being honest) red decor. She remembered the last time she’d been there. Fifteen-year-old Marinette Dupain-Cheng had just made a decision that would forever change her life. A soft chuckle escaped her, remembering how much she and Chloe hated each other back then. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Like another life.
As if summoned by Marinette’s thoughts Chloe descended grand the staircase with a stormy affronted expression. Marinette met her at the bottom with a raised brow.
“Where have you been? Mother has just fired another florist and DJ! The party is this evening! We need to do damage control!”
Marinette sighed as Chloe grabbed her hand without waiting for a reply and dragged her up the stairs. Chloe knew very well she had gone to visit her parents. She wasn’t even back late this time! But as Chloe ranted about ridiculous last-minute changes all the way into the elevator and up to her old suite Mari just rolled her eyes with a non-commental “hmm” here and there. There was no stopping Chloe when she decided to rant about something - best to wait it out. That was one of the many things she’d learned living with Chloe Bourgeois. For five years she’d lived and traveled with Chloe and her mother to New York and London and Milan. The girls may have gotten off to a rocky start in school but they grew on each other quickly over the years. First hatred for a certain liar and bully then a shared love of fashion and revelations that they had more in common than either thought followed. She knew the Chloe behind the Queen act. And Chloe knew her. It was their first time back in Paris in so long, so she also knew the other girl was talking to fill silence avoid facing her own nervousness.
“Don’t you think so too?” Chloe lamented, flopping dramatically down on her old pink velvet sofa. She narrowed her eyes and threw a pillow at Marinette’s head when she was only answered with another noncommittal noise. Marinette retaliated with a pillow of her own, and juvenile as the ensuing fight was it helped them both blow off some steam. Marinette flopped down next to her best friend in a fit of laughter.
“I’m nervous too, Chlo,” she admitted once they’d both settled down. Chloe pursed her lips, crossing her arms with a sigh. A look that would be far more intimidating if her hair wasn’t currently so messed up from their fight. Finally, she gave an overdramatic sigh and murmured, “I just want tonight to go well.”
Marinette did too and told her as much with a reassuring squeeze of her hand before leaping up off the sofa and setting off for the other girl’s closet. Chloe caught up with her just as she’d found the garment bags she’d been looking for.
“Mari, I swear if you make me go through another fitting-” Chloe warned with narrowing eyes. Marinette chuckled, know perfectly well what a grouchy model Chloe could be after all the fittings they’d gone through together.
“Just making sure they didn’t get wrinkled on the way here.”
She’d designed their gowns for the night and was quite proud of them if she did say so herself. Chloe examined hers, all thoughts of damage control temporarily gone, and grinned at Marinette,
“Paris isn’t going to know what hit it.”
A few blocks away a certain DJ agreed to do a last-minute favor for a friend he hadn’t seen in a long time.
Across Paris, a newly famous blogger stared in shock at the latest guest list update she’d “negotiated” for.
An heiress straightened her tie and banged on her best friend’s hotel door.
And a famous designer frowned at his schedule.
*three hours later*
Kitty section opened with the doors. Paparazzi lined the sidewalk hoping to catch pictures of all the attending celebrities and socialites. It was, of course, an exclusive party; The Agrestes, Tsurugis, Graham de Vanilys and all other important families had guaranteed invites. There was even a rumor that the crown prince of the Achu Kingdom would be attending. Inside the hotel, things weren’t much calmer. Kitty section’s music filled the ballroom and servers handed out champagne and hors d'oeuvres as guests mingled waiting for their hosts to kick off the night. Audrey Bourgeois, of course, refused to descend until fashionably late and Andre and the girls knew better than to fight her on it. Audrey was wearing one of Marinette’s designs as well tonight - draped black velvet with an open shoulder-high collar and white trimming. Still, Marinette for one was nervous when Audrey’s welcoming speech ended. All it took was a steadying breath and a supportive smirk and nod from Chloe to steel her nerves and make her own announcement. That they were in Paris to stay - with the launch of her fashion house. After much applause and an appropriate wait, she gladly descended the stairs with the Bourgeois. Chloe whispered into her ear with glee, “What did I tell you? No one can take their eyes off us in these gowns! Well, not that we didn’t already have that problem but still.”
Chloe was radiant in her floor-length golden long-sleeve gown that flowed off her right shoulder in a cape.
She gave her friend a playful shove and Chloe dragged her off into the crowd to mingle. Jagged Stone performed a set before seeking her out in the crowd and congratulating her with a sweeping hug. Penny Rolling-Stone sighed fondly at her husband’s antics. Marinette popped into the kitchen and stole a macaron from the tower her parents were building and was promptly chased out. Chloe even convinced her to dance for a bit before she decided it was time for a break and made her way out a back entrance with a nod to security. She just needed a few moments to breathe. Her announcement had gone over well - people were excited to see her work. She was deeply lost in thought when a hand tapped her on the shoulder.
Adrien Agreste had to be half-dragged to the event by his longtime best friend Kagami, who reminded him of his promise to escort her. He felt more the one escorted - and that her tux definitely looked was way cooler on her than his was not helping. Why are menswear designs so boring? They arrived just in time for Audrey Bourgeois’s speech. Another joy, Adrien thought to himself as he half-listened. It wasn’t until a new voice carried over the crowd that he really looked up - then he couldn’t look away. The woman standing there was captivating. Both in the confident way in which she held herself and the black and pink embroidered gown which clung to her figure wonderfully. Her shoulder-length black tulle gloves and elegant updo spoke of class and taste. Her voice was somehow both gentle and commanded attention from everyone present. Adrien wasn’t even sure there was music playing anymore.
Now her speech he listened to. She was a designer! And beginning her own fashion house too!
Admiration and something else filled him as he applauded with the rest at the end of her announcement. Kagami snapped her fingers in front of him. He was still staring after where she’d disappeared into the crowd. He wanted to meet her. Kagami’s pinch brought him back to earth and he pouted at her. She only rolled her eyes and told him to wipe his drool before they went back into the fray. Right. Socializing. Networking. He remembered how to do that.
After a few hours, it did become somewhat taxing even for someone of his upbringing so when he got the chance to slip away from the crowd and find a back door he took it.
He felt his breath stop for the second time that night when he saw her. She had her back to him and a gentle breeze played with the hem of her gown. When he remembered it was rude to stare he coughed quietly but getting no reaction he stepped forward and lightly tapped her bare shoulder.
Marinette tripped she turned so fast; Adrien instinctively moved to steady her. Having a stranger startle and then catch her didn’t make the best first impression on Marinette as she shrugged off his arms. And let out an inelegant, “um?” As Adrien apologized profusely. He hadn’t meant to startle her or get into her personal space like that - he’d just wanted to introduce himself. “-and I guess I should do that now! I’m Adrien Agreste.”
Marinette’s stiff “Oh.” and scrunched brow was certainly not the normal reaction to he got, but she politely introduced herself to him anyway. “Marinette Dupain-Cheng,”
“I know- I uh, caught your speech. That’s an amazing dress by the way, is it one of your designs?”
Marinette nodded, raising a brow before answering, “Yes. It’s been lovely meeting you but I really should get back to my guests.”
Adrien rubbed his neck and mumbled, “Right, sure!”
Really where had his manners and confidence gone? Marinette just nodded and looked at him quizzically a moment more before turning to go. It was at that moment however they both spotted an elderly man attempting to cross the busy street. Bending over to retrieve his cane; as if completely unaware of the bus headed straight for him. Fu himself couldn’t be sure who sprung to his side first but one moment he was in the street and the next a loud honking and screeching could be heard as they tumbled backward onto the sidewalk. It seemed both Adrien and Marinette had had a similar idea to cushion his fall as they were both wrapped around him. Marinette was the first to regain her senses and detangle from the pile, crouching immediately back down to check over them both asking if he was alright. Adrien stood and offered the strange old man a hand up. Marinette steadied him. He addressed her first,
“I’m alright, this is very kind of you. Oh, but you’ve torn your dress!” he turned to look over Adrien, “Ah, your suit is dirty as well. I’m sorry. How can I repay you two?”
Marinette shook her head with a smile, “It’s fine, that you’re okay is far more important than my dress.” Adrien meanwhile had retrieved the slightly battered cane and smiled a bit ruefully ad he handed it to the old man, “It’s a shame about your cane, sir.”
Marinette frowned looking at it, “I can give you a ride to the hospital or home if you prefer?”
The elder shook his head but smiled kindly up at them, “No, thank you. I will manage fine from here.”, and hobbled off without a second glance.
Marinette and Adrien exchanged a glance. Marinette was the first to break the silence, letting out an unrestrained chuckle and running a hand over her face. Her laughter was infectious and he immediately joined in. The two of them standing there laughing in their ruined finery was certainly the oddest sight to passerby. When Adrien managed to catch his breath he immediately felt as if it was knocked right back out of him by the smile Marinette was giving him. At that moment, smiling wide with her torn dress and mussed hair falling into her face from the once elaborate updo she’d worn, Adrien had never seen anyone more beautiful. Even prettier than when he’d first saw her on the stairs. As a model and son of a designer he knew the work it must have been; this girl had probably spent months on that dress and ruined it in an instant to save a stranger.
She was miraculous.