Madame Mendelieve asked Marinette to stay after class, the teacher mostly ignoring the jeers of the girl's classmates and Lila Rossi loudly proclaiming that the teacher probably intended to scold the girl for whatever reason. She would have told the olive-eyed girl off, but Mendelieve was tired of the blue haired girl suffering.
What she was doing, for all intents and purposes, should be the job of the homeroom teacher, but Bustier was apparently neglecting her duties. Mademoiselle Dupain-Cheng," she began once the room was empty, "I have noticed what your classmates have been doing. I thought that, if left alone, they would grow bored of that Rossi girl's lies. My hypothesis was proven incorrect. I apologise for that. Your homeroom teacher should be the one to ask this, but…" the woman's words trailed off, Marinette getting to see her unflappable teacher seemingly nervous. "She seems to believe there nothing wrong with that vixen. That left me with no other choice. What are your thoughts on school transfers?"
Madame Mendelieve sent Marinette home early, almost forcing the girl out of the school. "I'll tell the others that you aren't feeling well, no one doubts my words about students. Better luck at your next school. Come find me if you need help. Don't come back for school, you have the flu."
"Madame Mendelieve? Thank-you." Marinette gave a small bow when her teacher looked before walking out of the room. Mendelieve hurumphed, she may seem cold, but she wanted the best for her students, and picked up the phone as soon as the girl left. There were several calls she needed to make.
Marinette was surprised to find her parents closing the bakery for the night when she got home. Her maman continued to usher people out with their food as her papa rushed to wrap her in his arms and pick her up. He quickly smuggled her in the back and up the stairs, Sabine following behind them seconds later.
"Maman? Papa? What's going on?" Marinette squeaked.
"We noticed you weren't quite yourself lately. We thought that things would work out, and then your teacher called. Darling, why didn't you tell us that your classmates turned against you?" Sabine softly began questioning her daughter.
"I-I thought that our friendships were stronger than all the lies. I thought that they would come to their senses…" Tears began rolling down their faces.
"Ma Cherie, have you been dealing with this all alone?" Tom's arms still.held tight around his daughter, his wife gingerly leaning against them.
"N-no. Nino and Chloe both know she's lying, but no one will listen to Chloe because of her past, and everyone just thinks that Nino has been friends with me for too long. Adrien knows Lila's a liar- he's the only one that has known from the beginning but… He asked me to leave her alone, said she wasn't hurting anyone. H-h-h-he he he said that i-it was ok-ay as lon-ng as we were i-in it t-t-t-t-t-t-together but he stood back and said nothing!" Marinette's stutter vanished as the anger rose, nothing being more of a shriek than a word.
"Then they will never again be allowed on this property." Sabine's voice was low, dark, dangerous . The family would have been afraid of an akuma if they weren't already solving the problem. "Chloe and Nino are the only two from that class allowed anywhere near here. Tom, we need to make a banned list. Mu zhí, have they bullied you anywhere besides the school? Do they follow you after school, contact you through the phone or online, anything?"
Marinette hesitated before Tikki tapped her side, reminding her that she had promised her science teacher that she would tell her parents everything when they discussed schools. "Lila has followed me after school a couple times, taunting me about her managing to turn almost everyone against me. Sometimes, when I'm at the park, some of my classmates show up, mainly Alya and Lila, sometimes Adrien. They scream at me, asking why I'm mean to Lila. There have been a few times someone has thrown something at me. That's usually Sabrina. Ivan looks disappointed while Mylène and Rose cry. I haven't seen much of Juleka, Alix, Max, Nathaniel, or Kim since everything started." An odd humming noise was coming from her maman while her papa's face grew dark. "I get text messages from almost all of them- except the seven that either avoid me or are on my side. Even Adrien sends me nasty messages, asking me why I won't keep my head down, but I'm trying. I'm trying so hard ." More tears rushed down her face.
"We need restraining orders. I'll make a list of the classmates that have hurt you. In fact, I'm calling Monsieur Agreste. I'm sure he'd love to help after learning how they're all treating you." Sabne checked her phone, the caller ID flashing with a picture of Nathalie. She quickly picked up. "Madame Sancouer-"
"Madame Cheng, this is Gabriel Agreste. I received a highly concerning phone call from one of my son's teachers. Might I ask that you and your family visit me tomorrow, around two in the afternoon? Nathalie has already cleared my afternoon schedule. I apologise that it cannot be earlier, however, I have very important meetings that must be kept in the morning."
"Oh! Of course, Monsieur Agreste. Thank you very much."
"Very well. I will send a car for you tomorrow afternoon. Good evening, Madame."
Sabine slowly lowered her phone. "That was Monsieur Agreste." Her voice was a near whisper. "He wants us to visit him tomorrow afternoon." She stared at them, still slightly in shock. "He himself called, not his assistant." Marinette's jaw dropped.
"Did he say what it was about?" Tom's eyebrows furrowed.
"Not really, he only mentioned a phone call from a teacher at François-DuPont."
Marinette expected sleep to be difficult to come by, though she was out nearly as soon as her head hit the pillows. She managed to send Nino a message, asking about the school his cousin went to for fine arts, drop a cookie on top of Tikki, and trip up the steps to her pillow.
Her dreams were quiet for the first time in over a month. Between Lila, her classmates, and Papillion's sudden decline in akumas, her dreams had been awash with nightmares of what was to come. But tonight, the gods seemed to be looking favorably on her, blessing her with happy dreams. She was sad that morning, unable to recall anything from the dream except four figures, arms outstretched, and a blooming joy inside her chest.
The bakery was closed for the day, not only for Marinette and her parents to be comfortable for a while, but for Jagged Stone and Penny to be able to support Marinette without rabid fans attacking them. Gabriel Agreste did say he wanted their family, after all (Marinette secretly thought that the main reason Penny and Uncle J came early was so that her parents had backup when they told her she wasn't returning to François-DuPont except to ask Madame Mendelieve for help with her applications). Jagged kept alternating between trying to bake, comfort Marinette, and beg Penny to blacklist all of Marinette's bullies from all of his future shows. Penny simply smiled at the manchild currently covered in flour as she made a note of names Sabine slipped to her throughout the day.
To Penny's relief, Marinette was a stress worker, and so they had several new outfits that Jagged could choose from to wear to the Agreste Manor, the rockstar deciding on an outfit that was… Interesting. The main color was black, as with most of Jagged's outfits, with large, shimmering swirls in silver and gold, the outline of a jagged building seen in the middle of the swirls. He loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that it made him think of the stars in his favorite niece's eyes, said niece turning bright red and stuttering every time.
Sabine drug Tom up to their room to change, leaving Penny and Jagged dealing with a panicking Marinette. Jagged eventually covered the girl's eyes and let Penny pick her clothes, the woman ignoring his calls for her to make sure it was rocking . Penny finally pulled out a black dress, a chensogam perhaps?, with flowers embroidered in an upward spiral around the dress, along the top, the bottom, and the bottom of both sleeves. They ushered the girl into the bathroom to change while they raided the jewelry box, picking out a few pieces that would accent the dress design without stealing all the attention. Marinette came out of the bathroom to be shoved in her computer chair, her hair put in a braided bun with a semi-traditional comb holding it up and a few simple necklaces around her neck. All the bluenette could do was blink at the two adopted family members, unsure what just happened.
"Perfectly rock-'n'-roll!" Jagged exclaimed, "Penny always knows what to do!"
Sabine tapped on the trapdoor. "The car's here," she called, heading down to drag her panicking husband out of their room.
The ride was almost silent, Marinette slightly surprised to see Adrien's bodyguard in the driver's seat. He gave her a small nod of acknowledgement which she quickly returned before he peeled off. Nathalie met them at the door, ushering them to the living room. Gabriel Agreste was standing in front of a window, turning around when Nathalie announced their presence.
"Greetings." He said, slightly eyeing Jagged Stone. He and the rockstar didn't get along for obvious reasons, though he was pleased to note the man's clothes were better than usual. The family uttered polite greetings, and Gabriel failed at ignoring Jagged's dig at his clothes. "My thanks to whoever got this man into less of an eyesore." He ground out. "I did not call you here to discuss this man's atrocious sense of fashion. I got a rather concerning phone call from a teacher at François-DuPont yesterday. Usually Nathalie would handle these calls, but the teacher was adimant to speak to me directly. Do you have any idea what they told me?" He watched Marinette flinch.
"Ah… Which teacher called you?" She asked, voice timid.
"One Madame Mendelieve."
"Um… I'm not sure?"
"Why do you find it necessary to transfer schools?"
Marinette's head bowed as Gabriel pinned icy eyes on her. "A girl joined our class a while back before leaving for a few months. She started lying to everyone as soon as she returned. I called her out on it, and she threatened me. I laughed it off, no way could she turn my friends against me. But then she did. I have two people that openly support me, Nino and Chloe. There are a few classmates that I haven't really seen or spoken to since everything started, but they were civil to me. I'm friends with a girl named Kagami who also supports me, though she doesn't attend François-DuPont. Everyone else won't leave me alone. Adrien knows that Lila's lying and asked me not to expose her. I agreed because she wasn't hurting anyone at the time, just senselessly lying. He said that it would be okay as long as we were in it together, but… I'm even getting nasty messages from him, demanding to know why I won't let her be. I haven't spoken to that girl in over a month, and he knows that. Madame Mendelieve kept me after class and apologized for not stepping in. Like me, she thought it would blow over. It didn't. So she suggested that I transfer, start somewhere new. Nino has a cousin in a good fine arts school that caters to prodigies in the arts and sports, I'm planning on trying to go there."
Gabriel's eyes were like frozen flames as he looked at her. "I shall assure you that Adrien will leave you alone from this moment forward. Shall you be returning to François-DuPont at any point, before or after your transfer?"
Marinette shook her head. "Not for classes. I'll only return there once or twice for Madame Mendelieve to sign my transfer papers and get my transcript."
"Good, we will look into restraining orders. I want a list of every classmate you used to have, along with a list of transgressions. You need a new phone and number, and then you need to block the numbers of your former classmates. That includes my son. Nino Lahiffe's cousin… that would be a boy named Allan, you will need recommendation letters for that school. Nathalie and I shall get those together for you. You will have a better chance if your whatever-Jagged-Stone is would write a couple as well."
Marinette's family looked at Gabriel with matching expressions of shock. "What?" He scoffed, "how can she become a designer if her school squashes her spirit?"
"I-you-you believe me?" The utter bafflement and hope on the young girl's face made Nathalie unable to look at her. If she had been anyone else… she would have been visited by Papillon or Mayura. Perhaps even both of them.
"Adrien has spoken about a new girl at school. I had Nathalie look into her, of course. Every time she transfers schools, a kid in her class commits suicide from being bullied. I did not realize my son was part of the problem, though you can rest assured he never will be one again."
Jagged had a peculiar look on his face as he stared at the fashion designer. "Do you stalk all your kid's friends?"
Gabriel looked scandalized. "I have not stalked any of his friends! I looked into the Nino boy because he came here calling himself my son's best bro. I looked into that Rossi girl because I had noticed Adrien acting oddly as of late. And I know Mademoiselle Dupain-Cheng through my design competitions."
Jagged looked unconvinced but let the subject drop. For now. The enemy of my enemy will help hide the bodies and all that jazz.
Gabriel waved his hand through the air in a truly elegant fashion. "Besides, I've been waiting on this moment for a while. I asked Adrien not long after-" "Monsieur, please just call me Marinette." "-Mademoiselle Marinette started winning my contests if she would be interested in going to a school that would better fit her needs. He said no. I should have asked you directly rather than rely on my idiot son." The man's eyes furrowed in annoyance. "Does he even realize how much you've assisted him in keeping to his dream of attending public school? Does he know how often you've challenged me so that he could do what he wants? Did you ever tell him that the scarf he's so proud of was made and gifted to him by you, not me?"
Marinette's family gaped as the usually composed man began pacing across the room. "I should pull him from that school he wanted so badly! No! I'll make him stay there! He'll have to go to the sister Lycee! He will never rid himself of that retched class! I'll make sure they all get stuck in the same class, permanently!" The man raged.
"Hey, Mari! Looks like I'm not the only one who's adopted you anymore!" Jagged chuckled. Penny and Nathalie almost simultaneously facepalmed.
Gabriel's pacing froze. "She is up for adoption? Nathalie, begin the paperwork! We can't put a restraining order on Adrien if we want her here, but we can make sure he stays away from her! We need to find her a suitable bodyguard as well! Adrien's cannot protect them both, especially since I don't want him near her."
"Ah, Monsieur." Nathalie interrupted. "I don't think Monsieur Stone ment it quite like that." She rushed to explain before her boss murdered Jagged, "Monsieur Stone didn't officially adopt Marinette, he just claims her as his niece even though there is no biological or legal relation."
"Sacre blu!" Gabriel cursed as the Dupain-Cheng-Stone-Rolling family took their leave.
"Have you found out the name of the school you want to transfer to?" Penny asked after they got back to the bakery.
Marinette checked her phone. "Ah, Academè de Heartstrings. I want to apply to a few more schools just in case I don't get accepted. But this one isn't too far away, it has a dorms system, though kids are allowed to go home when they want as long as a teacher is told if they won't be back that night, and its main focus is on art. There is a lesser known buisness side, though I guess that makes sense if an artist wants to manage themselves, and there's a small program for athletic prodigies." Marinette rambled.
"Heartstrings is an odd name for an academè." Tom commented.
"It's because most good art tugs on someone's emotions. But the school has really good reviews, and- oh my God. Gabriel Agreste went there when he was a student."
The family laughed as the blue-eyed girl began a rambling panic fest, not noticing the strange, child-like chuckle from the girl's purse. Some things never change.
I made a sketch for the dream and now have Tumblr.