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“Geeze…” Adrien muttered aloud, hanging his head over his phone and speaking to Plagg while they were temporarily alone in the hospital room. “We’ve been together for like… four hours? And she’s already furious with me.”

“You did blatantly disregard your own health to go and see her,” Plagg retorted, on Marinette’s side in this argument and drawing a sigh from his charge.

“I needed to see her! I had to know she was okay what is so ridiculous about that?”

Plagg sighed, shrugging his shoulders and Adrien felt the movement from the kwami’s place in his jacket. “I get why you did it. She does too, doesn’t mean it wasn’t stupid.”

Adrien frowned, replying to Marinette’s concerned messages and reporting what the doctor had said so far.

‘A- Nothing is broken, the ribs are just really beat up. My arm doesn’t need a sling or anything, I just got a lot of instructions on how to ice the bruised bone and stuff. All the other cuts are superficial and will probably be gone by tomorrow, superhero healing remember? I'm okay Princess.’

‘M- You’re not in pain? Are they buying the excuse? What did you tell them?’

Her reply was so quick that he knew she must be waiting by her phone for news on how he was doing, and his heart fluttered a little.

‘A- I feel a lot better now that they’ve bound my chest, I’ve been given painkillers as well. I told them I fell out of my window. So far Natalie is buying it, thinking I fell trying to sneak out or something and went to the hospital by myself to avoid getting in trouble. So at least they believe me.’

Plagg was sticking out of the top of his jacket now, whining something just before Adrien pushed send.

‘A- Plagg says hi’

Adrien turned towards the door, listening carefully for anyone coming but it looked like the coast was still clear for now.

‘M- Are you going to get in even more trouble now? Hi Plagg, Tikki says hi as well.’

Adrien smiled when Plagg hooted in delight, retiring back to the warmth of Adrien’s jacket now that his mission was complete.

‘A- I couldn’t convince Natalie not to tell my dad. I told her him getting another call about me would just make him mad and that we could tell him later tonight when he gets home, but she said it needed to be done. So maybe. Luckily he was already done with work for the day and in the airport waiting to come home so she didn’t interrupt anything.’

‘M- I’m sorry Adrien…’

That ‘sorry’ said a lot of things. I’m sorry your home life is this way, I’m sorry you’re hurt, I’m sorry your dad is the way he is, I’m sorry I didn’t protect you.

‘A- Don’t be. Whatever he says this is still one of the best days of my life. Well, best day after like 11 AM and I knew you were alive. And even if he grounds me forever and tries to pull me out of school I can still sneak out and see you so whatever.’

There was a pause in the reply and he liked to imagine he had flustered her.

‘M- Adrien don’t get in trouble for me!’

‘A- No one can keep me from seeing you if I want to, except you, so he can deal with it.’

The gap in replies was much larger and he grinned, already sensing that this would quickly become one of his favorite things to do. Say sweet, romantic things until she reverted back into an adorable stuttering mess. Making his Lady blush had always been a dream of his, and now knowing that he had done it quite a few times already made him smile.

The doctor returned with Natalie, the two of them talking about something that was of no interest to him. He would be fine soon, thanks to his miraculous, they worried over nothing. Not that he could say anything about it.

Instead of listening he started thinking again of what he would do next. Their kiss… just thinking about it made his heart stutter into a rushed tempo, but he didn’t want to expect more. Well, yes he did, but he didn’t want to assume that was something he could always do. He wanted to earn those kisses, and he planned to do it properly like she deserved. He was already wracking his mind for ideas for a first date, but he could feel a thin layer of sweat bead across his forehead in sudden nervousness at the thought alone.

He seriously had no idea what his hang up was, he had kissed her already and she had kissed back it was safe to say she was interested. Still though, the idea of asking her out, asking out his lady and his princess, it made his stomach knot in something that was almost panic. 

He was terrified of making a fool of himself, of her laughing and rolling her eyes and brushing him off. He took a deep breath though, ignoring the look the adults gave him and staying wrapped up in his own thoughts.

That wouldn’t happen, he knew that. Even if he barely got the words out she would smile sweetly, maybe even be a little nervous herself and say yes. Or at the very least say no nicely, but still probably yes. Right?

He repressed a sigh, irritated with himself and his uncertainty. He was just… it was a lot. He was in love with Ladybug and had come to care about Marinette quite a bit in a very short time, but now it was like there was a third new person who had his heart racing. She was new, she was Marinette and Ladybug and everything he had ever wanted, and now she somehow had the power to make him even more nervous than either of them had individually. She was way more real, a complete picture, and absolutely perfect…

He just wanted to see her again already, annoyed with the charade of the doctor’s visit and grateful when he was finally released. It was about 6 PM, hunger gnawing at him from his extremely exhausting day, and Natalie reported in a dull voice that dinner was being prepared at home. She didn’t try to scold him or anything, not blaming him for wanting to escape and check on his friends who had been attacked at the school. If he had just asked she would have most likely let him go, keeping it secret from his father so he could see if his friends were alright. Now though she was worried he would be punished even further.

‘A- on the way home, I’m very alright, so don’t worry about me.’

He chuckled at her fast reply.

‘M- I will always be worried, especially with someone as reckless as you.’

She was still mad it would seem, but he found it funny regardless. The next message she sent directly after though made him frown.

‘M- By the way if I catch you out and about as Cat Noir before you are fully healed I’ll put a knot in your tail understand? No running around.’

His grimace deepened.

‘A- Fine, for patrols, but if there is an akuma attack I’m going to be there.’

‘M- No you aren’t I can handle anything that pops up.’

‘A- Absolutely not.’

‘M- Adrien. Please.’

His breath caught at the sudden change in tone, her concern being conveyed even through text. She was mad, yes, but she was mostly just worried about him.

He grit his teeth, conflicted with how to respond.

He wasn’t about to let her run off somewhere alone. There had been times where one of them would be fighting an akuma mostly by themselves, but almost always the other would show up. He would typically insist that he could do the fighting on his own and in some cases he felt that was true, but he knew that they operated best as a team. For some of the small time baddies the fighting was simple, but it didn’t feel right doing it alone, and he would always charge into Ladybug’s fights whether the gig was small time or not. She couldn’t honestly expect him to let her go it alone, injuries or otherwise. Even before their identities were revealed he would have flat out refused, for this particular situation very little had changed. He was going to be there and that was that.

‘A- I know you’re worried, I’m not trying to dismiss that, but you’ve got to understand why that makes me uncomfortable. I’d hang back, let you take charge and I’d be careful, but I’m going to help you whether I’m injured or not.’

He sent it, satisfied with what he deemed a level headed response. He didn’t want to fight, or make her feel like he wasn’t considering how she felt, but he wanted to be there to help.

They were pulling up at the house when he got her response.

‘M- Okay.’                                                

He frowned at the simple message.

‘A- Are you mad?’

The door was opened for him and he walked towards the house under the driver’s umbrella, noticing that the rain was much lighter now but mostly paying attention to his phone as he made it inside and wordlessly headed for the dining hall.

His phone buzzed.

‘M- No, I understand. I would do the same thing for you, I’m just worried… please ice your arm like you’re meant to. Take care of yourself.’

‘A- Anything for you princess, I know how much you need me ;)’

He smirked at his response, but nearly swallowed his tongue at hers, his face suddenly hot enough to light a candle

‘M- I don’t think you do kitty cat.’

He sat down in a daze, his eyes glassy and distant as he absorbed the statement.

As Cat Noir he could throw out cute lines left and right but now she was throwing them back and he wasn’t sure he could take it. It was amazing, but he had a feeling that she would be able to fluster him just as much as he did her from now on. Ultimately… it was very sweet.

‘A- Don’t worry, I’ll be on my feet again soon. I promise I’ll do as the doctor ordered.’

‘M- Thank you. I’m going to have dinner, I’ll text you in a bit.’

‘A- No problem, I’m about to eat too, text you later’

He tucked his phone away just as food was set in front of him, and he devoured it quickly, barely looking at what it was. His exhaustion from the day was really starting to set in, especially with warm food in his stomach. He had been a bit damp from the rain for most of the day, he ached all over, and his brain was pretty worn out.

In the course of a day he was fairly certain Marinette had died, been badly injured, done some pretty intense magic with the wrong kwami in the wrong miraculous (which was contributing to the overall ache he was enduring), discovered Ladybug’s secret identity, coped with that on the fly, kissed the woman of his dreams and entered what he was tentatively calling a relationship.

…that’s what it was right? God he didn’t know.

He was tired.

He finished eating his solitary meal, his feet echoing in the large house as he made his way upstairs. He grimaced with each step, his exhaustion and soreness making him dead on his feet. He really wanted to be in bed, just pass out and wake up the next day to go to school. He wasn’t going to bother with any kind of homework since school had been canceled that day and no one had gotten any besides him since his tutors had it ahead of time for him to do during lockdown.

When he made it to his room he let Plagg out to find his stash of cheese, needing rest himself after such a long day. He stripped out of his clothes, finding something warm and dry and soft to wear before trudging to his bed.

He flopped down, regretting the action when his ribs protested, and rolled onto his back with phone in hand.

The time flashed 7:30 pm, but he knew he was going to fall asleep and didn’t want to leave Marinette hanging.

‘A- I will probably have to get up in a few hours when my dad gets home, but if I stay in this bed any longer I know I’m gonna pass out so I wanted to say goodnight.’

He did his best to keep an eye cracked, watching the bright screen in his pitch black room as a few minutes ticked by but he was getting dangerously close to falling asleep.

Finally after about five minutes his phone buzzed again and he smiled sleepily.

‘M- I’m in the same boat, it’s been a big day. Text me when you know if you’ll be at school okay? Get some rest tomcat.’

‘A- Yes miss.’

And just like that he was asleep, a tired Plagg crawling in and finding a warm spot out of sight and under the covers to crash in.

Adrien didn’t dream, his brain was too tired and his body too beaten, it was just a hard dead sleep in which his miraculous worked steadily to curb the pain. Even with magic though it was going to be a week or so before he didn’t hurt quite so much.

Sleeping so soundly made it that much worse when he found himself being woken up by his alarm, his phone going off by his head alerting him that he needed to be at school in an hour.

Groggy and confused he slowly sat up, rubbing at his face and fighting the headache that sprouted behind his eyes.

“Guess they let me sleep through…” he murmured, rolling to put his feet on the floor and yawning, stretching his arms as he did so but wincing at how stiff his left one was. He felt better definitely, but the pain was still there. He had only been up for a few seconds when he heard the intercom on his wall beep loudly, and with a confused frown he rose to answer it.

“Hello?” he called into the white box near his door, holding down the response key. It was Natalie that answered.

“Good morning Adrien, your father asked me to make sure you woke up for school. As soon as you’re ready he wants to see you in his study.”

“Really?” he couldn’t help but ask, Natalie confirming before ending the connection.

He stood there for a moment, one hand scratching at his hair and his brain still only half awake.

That was different. It sort of made sense, he might not have set his alarm if he was expecting to still be grounded so the wakeup call was whatever, but his father wanting to see him first thing in the morning was intimidating to say the least.

He dragged himself into the shower, carefully undoing and redoing his binding across his chest as was called for. He realized with a dark humored chuckle that he was far too used to wrapping his own wounds.

He got dressed, finding a jacket with a hood since Marinette still had his umbrella and grabbed his bag and still sleeping kwami before heading out into the hall.

His footsteps seemed loud and he couldn’t deny his apprehension as he wound his way towards his father’s study, pausing outside the door to take a deep breath.

At least he was allowed to go to school.

“Adrien,” his father’s voice reached him as he entered, closing the door behind him as he was taught to do and standing in the center of the room in front of Gabriel’s large dark wood desk. The man himself sat behind it, leaning on his elbows with his hands clasped in front of his face. “How are you feeling?”

 

…wait

 Really?

“Um I’m alright father, feeling a lot better.”

Adrien’s surprise climbed when his father let out a small breathe, pulling off his glasses with one hand and pinching the bridge of his nose with the other.

“I didn’t want to wake you when I got home, I know you needed your rest. I would insist you stay home, but since keeping you from your friends is what caused this mess I won’t force it. Trying to sneak out like that was incredibly foolish, you’re lucky you got away with a few bruised bones and nothing worse. I trust you won’t try something so moronic again.”

Adrien stared at him wide eyed for a moment before stammering, “I-I won’t sir, I’m sorry.”

Gabriel sighed, dark irritation on his face but Adrien was still reeling from the fact that he cared. In retrospect he doubted his father would be that heartless, but he expected a ‘Those bruises ought to teach you a lesson’ sort of thing.

“I’ve ordered Natalie to be alert for any calls from the school, so if you feel discomfort at all go to the school nurse and they will call her to come get you. That is all, you may go.”

“Thank you,” Adrien said quickly, fleeing the room since the most discomfort he was feeling came from their prolonged conversation.

He pattered down the stairs, ignoring his aches and just getting to the car, deep in thought.

The fact that his father had checked on him personally and not just sent Natalie was bizarre, and caused a strange mix of happiness and bitterness in him. He was pleased to be acknowledged by his father, but not ignorant of the fact that it had taken being hospitalized to even get that much.

His usual feeling of numbness surrounding all dealings with his father started to creep back into place, and he started to focus on other things.

It wasn’t raining.

That was a first time that had been true since Saturday night, one day short of a week of constant downpour. The skies weren’t clear just yet, still heavy over the city and promising at the very least spurts of light showers for the rest of the day but his phone confirmed that the clouds were anticipated to disappear by that afternoon.

With his phone still in his hand he felt it vibrate and Marinette’s contact filled the screen, making him feel a spark of warmth in his chest. Her contact photo was still blank, something he would have to fix.

‘M- Good morning Adrien are you going to be at school today?’

‘A- Yes don’t worry, your prince will arrive soon.’

‘M- Oh sh. How are you feeling?’

He snickered at her shut down, knowing she probably blushed.

‘A- Much better thanks, I would have texted earlier but my dad let me sleep through the night so I didn’t know I was coming until this morning, and then I was distracted.’

‘M- Its okay. I’m getting coffee with Alya want anything?’

‘A- I’m okay, don’t worry about it.’

‘M- Are you saying that because you don’t want me to pay for it?’

 

…crap. She was too smart, he was never going to get anything by her.

 

‘A- Uhh no?’

‘M- I’ll get you hot chocolate.’

‘A- …Fine. Thanks my lady, you’re purrfect.’

‘M- Oh god am I going to have to deal with your puns all the time now?’

‘A- yes.”

That warm feeling in his chest dominated, chasing away the numbness and leaving him giggling stupidly in the car, the school drawing near.

 

“Who are you texting? Bet you I know,” Alya teased, trying to see Marinette’s phone and snickering at her sudden blush.

“I was asking Adrien if he wanted anything-“

“Ooooh cuute,” Alya cooed, stepping aside so her friend could order.

“So did he sneak out to see you again after the Akuma attack? Does he even know about it?”

Marinette blinked, smiling at her good fortune and going with the perfect opening.

“Yeah, except it was raining really hard… he slipped and got pretty hurt he even went to the hospital.”

Alya jumped, her eyes shooting wide and proving it was the first she had heard of it. “What seriously!? Is he okay?!”

Marinette payed for the drinks, spending a little extra to make Adrien’s bigger and with more chocolate. She sent him a quick text to alert him to her version of the story so he could tell it to Nino and roll with it when it came up later.

“Yeah he’s doing better, but don’t tackle him or anything, he bruised a few ribs. Stupid idiot didn’t even go to the doctor until I told him to, he came to see me first. Apparently you spooked him pretty bad with your stream.”

Alya gasped, her hands flying to her face. “He came to see you even though he got hurt!? Marinette tha-that’s so romantic!! How are you not freaking out about this still!?”

Marinette toyed with the zipper of her jacket bashfully, a bit of her usual flustered attitude resurfacing at the use of the word ‘romantic’. It really had been. Plus he had been killing her with the things he had been saying, and that kiss…

She buried her face in the scarf around her neck, the action not going unnoticed and Alya jumped a bit in place. “Girl what happened!? Why didn’t you tell me any of this??”

“I’ve been really distracted…” she answered honestly, realizing with a twinge of guilt that she hadn’t really thought of anyone except for her boys, well boy, in the past while. She couldn’t just push Alya to the wayside, it’s just that a lot had been happening.

“Oh course you have been the boy of your dreams is all OVER you!! There’s no way he doesn’t like you Marinette this is awesome I’m so happy for you!!”

Marinette retreated farther into her scarf, giggling happily as she curled into Alya’s sudden hug, letting herself get excited about it even if it was extremely confusing still. What were her and Adrien at this point anyways? Even if it was all convoluted and insane… she really hoped it was more than friends.

She took the drinks from the barista with a gracious bow of the head, in a rush now to see him and leaving Alya behind at first as she hurried for the school. The reporter shouted after her, her words being broken up by laughter as she tailed the love struck girl. She didn’t know what it was exactly, putting it down to Adrien’s influence, but she seemed different. Not totally different, but something had changed.

The steps of the school came into view and Alya was honestly unsurprised at this point to see Adrien waiting for them out front with his best friend. Nino seemed to be excited about something, teasing the blonde who was looking a little warm in the face. No one missed how much he brightened when he spotted Marinette though.

“Good morning!” he called to the both of them but his eyes were on the designer who seemed to regain just a bit of her shyness as she handed him his beverage. Even with the slight change though she was still much more confident with the boy then Nino and Alya had ever seen her.

“Good morning,” Marinette responded, smiling at the boys.

“I’m glad to see you’re alright after that Akuma attack, you guys had me worried,” Adrien started, looking genuinely relieved when he smiled at Alya.

Nino shuddered. “It was pretty scary if I’m honest, but I knew Ladybug and Cat Noir would save the day.”

Marinette and Adrien smiled at Nino’s faith in them, but Alya cut in.

“Actually I’m pretty sure Cat Noir did it by himself, I never saw Ladybug.”

“What seriously!? How could anyone take on that guy alone, I was down for the count the second he saw me!” Nino let out a lung full of air, shaking his head. “Man real props to the heroes out there. Taking on monsters like that is there job.”

Alya was frowning suddenly, looking at Marinette.

“Well some of us like to run head first at murderous medusa like bad guys in their free time, right Marinette?”

The designer’s lips pursed as she realized that, besides checking in with each other once she had her phone back, Alya and her hadn’t had a chance to talk about her using herself as a distraction. To add to it Adrien didn’t look entirely pleased either, recalling with perfect clarity the panic he had felt.

“I- well- Alya it needed to be done you were in danger!”

“You could have died! Just- ugh!” Alya’s repressed emotion came roaring to the surface, and she hugged her friend tightly. “Marinette that was terrifying.”

Nino was frowning as well, having gone back and watched the stream himself, shocked that Marinette would make a call like that. Just like that Marinette was surrounded by three very upset friends.

She hugged Alya back, speaking over the reporter’s shoulder to the group as a whole.

“I’m sorry. I wanted you to be safe though, I was alright.”

“You call a sacrifice play for Cat Noir ‘safe’?” Nino chimed in, and both Adrien’s and Marinette’s eyes widened.

“W- how did you-“ Marinette tried to speak, pulling away from Alya.

“There were a bunch of students who saw it everyone knows! They thought you were dead! Did you seriously dive in front of him?”

Marinette was on edge, worried about what a rumor like that could lead to.

“Y-yes,” she finally answered, “but I- he was going to get hit. Ladybug wasn’t around, Cat Noir was the only one who could stop him. Cat’s safety was a lot more important than mine.”

She fought back a swear when she saw Adrien visibly bristle, his grip suddenly very tight on his cup.

She had a feeling that personal safety and health was going to be a big source of dispute between them.

“Because,” she qualified, “there needed to be a hero capable of fending off the akuma and I knew that the villain’s power just incapacitated people. Cat needed freedom to move, not me. And it was mostly just reflex, I didn’t want him to get hurt. If our positions were reversed he would have done the same thing, I mean how many times has he thrown himself in front of Ladybug? If he didn’t want people to do it he should set a good example and do the same.”

She saw his jaw clench and she wasn’t happy with the passive aggressive hypothetical argument they were having, however it needed to be said. With one statement she had established that she would move to protect Cat Noir the same way he always protected her since she knew he would never stop. No matter how much she protested that reckless alley cat would always throw himself in front.

The bell rang then and the friends started to head inside, but Adrien gave her a look that said they would be discussing it later.

It wasn’t fair of him to be upset, it was just a different angle to the same dispute they had had the night before. ‘I want you safe’ ‘I want you safe’.

They were never going to agree completely, they just had to understand the other’s point of view.

By the time they had made it to class the sour/sad look on his face made her think he had reached the same conclusion. He looked up at her from his seat as she went to move past him, and she paused by his desk, offering him a gentle smile.

After a moment he returned it, but without thinking gently grabbed her hand and held it until her movement to step up to her seat broke the contact, rubbing a thumb across her fingers just before it did. She blushed slightly at the tender gesture, but understood why he had felt the need to do it. He worried about her too, and she knew seeing her turned to stone had had a lasting effect on him.

The familiar and gentle touch was absolutely noticed however, and the two teens turned a bright red as they were accosted by their respective best friends.

Dude,” Nino whispered intensely, “what aren’t you telling me?”

“Uh n-nothing Nino seriously,” Adrien answered too quickly, listening intently to the girls behind him with the tips of his ears burning.

“What was that!? Spill! What actually happened when he came over!?” Alya was whisper yelling, still too quiet for others to hear but not him. He blocked out Nino, needing to know how Marinette chose to answer.

“Nothing!”

Liar I’m your friend come on! Where’s all the secrecy coming from did you kiss or something?”

He heard Marinette squeak and he felt sweat break out on the back of his neck.

There was a pause, then suddenly, “No freaking way.”

“Alya be quiet! Please!”

“You did I- how could you not tell me!? Are you guys dating!? Marinette oh my god!”

“Shhh!!”

Marinette was pretty sure she was going to explode, watching as Adrien got redder and redder and knew he could hear them.

Alya was bouncing in her seat and gradually attracting more attention, Nino starting to zero in on the situation himself and figured that Alya was digging up some interesting info.

“We can talk about it later okay?” Marinette’s voice was pleading, shrinking further and further into her seat.

“Are you dating!?” Alya asked again, “Yes or no!”

“I- I don’t know it was kind of a spur of the moment thing!”

“But he likes you!”

“I- I think so.”

“Think so?” Adrien asked aloud incredulously, biting his tongue and closing his eyes when he realized how loudly he had spoken. He dropped his head when Alya squealed, Marinette laying her own down on the desk, already overloaded before their first class had even started.

Every other student had no idea what was happening, most of them having missed the touch that started it all in the first place just knowing that something was going on. Luckily Chloe had missed the first part, but was glaring over at the two of them in vicious suspicion. Why was Adrien so red?

The teacher made a timely entrance then, calling the class to order and giving Marinette a slight break. She refused to even look at Alya, ignoring her notes and texts and staring down at her hands. The only note she accepted came from Adrien, and said simply,

“Welp.”

Despite how embarrassed she was she still thought it was sort of funny. Trust him to make a joke.

“What do we tell them?” she wrote, handing it back and aware of Alya watching her like a hawk. Nino was keeping an equally watchful eye on Adrien, a grin never leaving his face.

After a long while she got a response, noticing that he was avoiding eye contact when he gave it to her with a shaking hand.

“We can tell them we’re dating. Uh, that is, if you say yes.

Wanna get dinner tonight?”

She blinked hard, then gasped aloud, quickly hiding the note when the teacher looked over and she tried to look innocent.

What!? Oh my god, Oh god I can’t do this I going to faint, Adrien just- ADRIEN.

She was going to have a heart attack, she was sure of it, when she saw his hands twitching nervously on his desk. He was fidgeting, his foot tapping and his neck flushed.

He… he was nervous.

All at once she remembered who he really was, the complete picture of him. He wasn’t all smooth lines and flirtations, he was genuinely nervous she would say no.

Her panic started to subside, feeling a little bit of Ladybug slip out as she saw how on edge she was, like a cat watching a radiator to see if the noises it made were really a monster.

Like she would actually say no… silly kitten.

She took a deep breath, swallowing her nervousness and writing out “I would love dinner,” before she could change her mind and handed it back.

She saw him visibly relax, his head dropping back a little in relief and his arm giving an adorable small fist pump of victory under the desk. She stifled a giggle, amazed at how whole he seemed to her now, her Cat Noir and Adrien blending together. Cat was bold enough to go for it, but Adrien was too nervous to ask aloud and instead wrote it down. Cat was victorious, Adrien was relieved and excited.

When he stole a glance back at her he grinned happily as he thought much the same thing.

Marinette was on the verge of hyperventilating, but Ladybug was brave enough to say yes. The blush on her face and the way she clutched her hands to her chest was very Marinette, but the bright and powerful joy in her eyes was his lady staring back at him.

He turned back, hating to look away from her, but not wanting to get caught. After a few moments of regulating his heart rate he elected to just pass the same note to Nino for him to see.

His friend jolted in his seat, barely containing his… was that expression pride? It was definitely positive, and he mouthed, “I knew it,” before a grin split his face. He wordlessly asked if he could pass it to Alya, and when Adrien nodded he handed it back, tucking a five dollar bill along with it.

Marinette groaned when she saw it, had they seriously been betting? Soon though she was occupied by Alya roughly shaking her shoulders in jubilation, knowing that the reporter would probably be screaming if they weren’t in class. After that it was just a matter of surviving until the bell rang.

When the loud ringing signaled the end of their class Alya immediately tackled her, squealing in excitement.

“I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU!” she shouted, shaking her friend and squeezing the breath from her. “I KNEW IT WOULD HAPPEN I KNEW IT!”

“Alya!” Marinette whined, withering in embarrassment but a smile still on her face. Most of the other kids had already started to leave, casting curious glances at the girls but shrugging it off. Nino would probably be hugging Adrien too if he wasn’t injured, so he just settled for dancing around him triumphantly.

“Can’t believe it took you all the way to Friday to make it happen man!” Nino teased, gently clapping him on the shoulder and earning a roll of the eyes. “Seriously you dorks were all over each other since Monday I figured you would have-“

“Nino! Sh!” Adrien finally protested, looking away from Marinette who snickered at his bashfulness.

“Glad to know you got the guy Mari, all the crushing on Adrien finally paid off huh?” Alya winked at her friend, wondering why she suddenly went such a deep shade of red.

The two friends watched as the newly announced couple stiffened, and then Adrien was smirking haughtily, a rolling chuckle escaping him. Marinette, still burning red tried to rush past him but he caught her hand and let himself be pulled along into the hallway.

“Is that why you were always so nervous!?”

“Shut up!”

“You had a crush on me!”

Shut up you stupid cat!

Alya and Nino were hustling to gather their things as well as their friends things that they had left behind, missing the conversation as it unfolded.

Adrien couldn’t help it, he had honestly felt like that was the case but to know that she had had a crush on him even before this week- he was over the moon and feeling more than a little smug.

“I got you anyways! All that pushing me away and it still got you HA!”

She glared at him, her embarrassment turning quickly to irritation.

“Well you were already crushing on me by then so HA!”

He bit his lip, trying to keep from laughing again at how weird their situation was. He wouldn’t have called his feelings for Ladybug a crush, not by a long shot, but that didn’t need to be said yet.

He pulled her to a stop to wait for their friends, deciding that he didn’t feel like releasing her hand and intertwining her fingers with his.

Despite everything the hand holding still made her breath hitch a little, and he couldn’t believe it. She really had cared about him the whole time. That must have been why she always held back from Cat Noir, she was crushing on Adrien. The only one standing in his way the whole time was HIMSELF. He couldn’t imagine anything more frustrating, but he was still riding the high of knowing that he could fluster her with something as simple as holding her hand.

However he tried to remember the whole picture, and earnestly asked her, “If you aren’t comfortable with uh like… stuff like this in public yet, I- I understand.”

He smiled again, his playful confidence resurging at how quickly she shook her head.

“N-no it’s okay I want to- stuff like this I mean- holding hands and – yeah, uh…”

She stared at the ground, clinging to his hand and stepping a little closer to him for comfort through her nervousness, which he happily provided, albeit with a chuckle. He lifted his left hand, fighting the stiffness in his arm and placed it tenderly on her shoulder to try and show that he wasn’t making fun of her, he was just excited.

That’s when the horrified gasp hit his ears.

He sighed, closing his eyes and preparing himself for what he knew would come next.

“What are you doing you TRAMP?!” Chloe screamed shrilly, drawing the attention of literally everyone around. He felt Marinette tense up beside him, and when he opened his eyes he saw Nino and Alya hurrying towards the scene.

“Chloe-“ Adrien tried to start but Marinette took a step forward, pulling her hand back so she could place both of her hands defiantly on her hips. 

“Talking to Adrien, is that a problem?”

Nino and Alya arrived, moving to stand behind their friends, ready to lend support once again if need be and keeping an eye out for teachers.

Talking!?” she shouted, moving forward to get in Marinette’s face and stabbing a finger into her chest. “More like drooling over him like a dog, how dare you!”

‘Wow, you’re one to talk,’ Marinette thought bitterly. Suddenly Adrien was there though, taking a step forward to force the aggressor back.

“Lay off Chloe.”

He said it firmly, his eyes narrowed, warning her to do as he said. He wasn’t going to let anyone talk to her like that, akuma risk or not.

“Adrien she had no right-“

“No! You have no right, so just stop it already.”

He reached out, pulling Marinette close to him while staring the raging blonde down, and Marinette saw something that was almost like pity mixed in with all of his irritation.

“I’m sorry Chloe, but this is how things are now. You’re going to have to get over it.”

As bratty and insufferable as she was, seeing the genuine pain in her face was hard to stomach. She stood there, her eyes swimming with anger and disbelief, looking like for the first time instead of fighting, she just wanted to run away.

“What are you saying?” Chloe hissed, glaring at Marinette with a new fierce hatred that made her uneasy.

“I’m saying I’m with Marinette now, and as her boyfriend I won’t let anyone bully her ever. Understand?”

He heard Marinette’s sharp gasp and could even sense the sudden warmth from her body so close to his side, but he was so amped from his anger that he couldn’t quite be embarrassed at what was the first official declaration of their relationship.

Boyfriend echoed in Marinette’s mind, and almost as if to prove the point, she clung to him. She wanted a lot of things in that moment. To hide her face, to be close to him, to be alone with him, to prove it was true, to be seen as his girlfriend. Mostly though, she just wanted him to say it again. They hadn’t even had their first date, official date anyways, but it didn’t feel that way. Honestly, she felt like they were already so close and had already treaded so far past the line they might as well have called it that the second their identities were revealed.

In a way they sort of did.

Chloe tried to speak, her fists shaking and her eyes tearing up, several other girls around also looking devastated. The crowd was shifting and tense, some looking excited for their classmates, others carefully watching Chloe. The air was still flighty from the akuma attack the day before, having been one of the more terrifying ones the city had seen. Everyone was vaguely aware that it could be anyone who would be manipulated into working for Hawkmoth next, and a few of the more intuitive upperclassmen were smart enough to be wary.

Instead of screaming though, shouting and cursing or getting violent, Chloe surprised everyone by taking a step back.

She wrapped her arms around herself, looking at the ground and holding in a sob. Most students didn’t react, used to Chloe’s fake emotional displays to generate sympathy, but even if it was a little more exaggerated there was still something real behind it. She really was crushed.

“You deserve better than some plain rat like her,” she spat, a cruel and bitter edge clinging to her words as she turned, leaving the scene behind. She had her phone in her hand, calling for someone to pick her up. Sabrina trailed behind her at a distance, unsure of what to do, shooting a glance over at Marinette and offering a small smile of congratulations before running to catch up.

 

No one said anything at first, Adrien looking after his old friend with a worried frown but not moving to follow her. After a few moments Marinette found his hand again and offered a reassuring squeeze, wanting him to look at her so she could understand what he was thinking.

Alya sighed, grabbing the couple’s attention and giving a shrug.

“It couldn’t be helped,” was all she offered, Nino nodding in agreement. 

The four of them quietly collected themselves and headed for their next class, Adrien and Marinette sticking close together. To those that knew them it seemed strange how natural their closeness was, how quickly they seemed to fall in perfect step and it didn’t feel forced. It was like somehow, even though they had only properly known each other for a week, they knew each other more deeply and intimately than even the closest of friends.

No one could know of course that they had covered each other in more fights than they could count, cracked more jokes on Parisian rooftops than there were days in a year and fought for each other’s lives more times than they cared to remember. It was impossible for them to hide it now that they knew who the other really was, they could only hope it would eventually be dismissed.

Adrien’s hand was warm in Marinette’s, and she marveled at how even this entirely new action felt practiced and right. However before they walked in she pulled him aside to talk privately, waving their friends on ahead.

“What’s up?” he asked, immediately sensing a kind of tension from her.

“That got pretty heated, do you think someone can get possessed twice?”

Adrien frowned, taking it seriously. “I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine.”

“If she does, I know I said you could stay but-“

“Marinette if Chloe goes bad I’m fighting with you end of story.”

“Adrien-“ she started to mutter, her hands twisting together, but Adrien cut her off.

“No!” he tried to keep his voice low, students still passing them, but he spoke resolutely. “We had trouble with her together as it was.”

“And you think it will be better with you injured?”

“Injured is better than nothing this is not up in the air Marinette we talked about this.”

The girl sighed, her arms close to her chest and her face in her hand. Adrien felt a jolt in his heart when she looked… pained.

“Hey,” he spoke again, his voice softer as he put his hands on her shoulders, “look at me princess, please.”

She was slow to comply, shifting her weight uneasily before looking up at him. She knew he was strong, as Adrien or Cat Noir, but she could see that he was still in pain. One strong hit or too much running around and he could make his injuries even worse. She couldn’t just keep Cat from fighting ever again, but so soon… she wanted to just handle it herself.

When she finally looked at him he was smiling gently.

“I’m tough. I won’t- I don’t want you fighting alone. I’ll be careful, I swear, but no more solo fights, for either of us. I saw the way you looked at my injuries, you felt guilty, stupidly, because you weren’t there when it happened. For some reason you like to overlook that you only weren’t there through the fight because you saved my life at the very start but,” he smirked at her through his quip but settled back into a more somber tone, “you still felt guilty. How do you think I would feel if you even got a scratch in a fight I wasn’t in? The only way we won’t lose our minds is if we trust the other person to know when they are well enough to run into danger, and I’m telling you I can do it.”

They stared at each other, momentarily ignoring the fact that the teacher had passed them and class would soon start. Finally, after a long pause, Marinette let out a heavy breath and nodded, her eyes dropping to the floor.

“Let’s hope double possessions aren’t a thing for now. Maybe my luck will hold out.” She gave him a small smile before turning to walk into class, Adrien following close behind.

 

They didn’t talk much through their second class, both of them actually having to take notes since they were essentially a week behind, but they were still hyper aware of each other. Once, to make him smile and reassure him she wasn’t upset with him she doodled a small black cat on a piece of paper. She did a few, just quick and simple pictures of a cat running around or stretching. She made little annotations like ‘dork’ and an arrow pointing at a cat that was rolling around and passed it to him with a smirk. She grinned when she heard his chuckle. It was simple cute things like that, where he would cross out ‘dork’ and write ‘cool’, and add a tiny ladybug to the pictures. He wasn’t as good of an artist as Marinette, not by a long shot, but ladybugs were easy.

He loved it, simple cute things with her, it was amazing. He felt happier doing something silly with her than he had in a long time, rejoicing in the fact that she hadn’t denied it when he called himself her boyfriend, but instead clung to him.

Her boyfriend… god was any of it even real? His lady, his Marinette, and they had said yes. She, he corrected himself, she had said yes.

He grinned to himself, one part of his brain trying to keep up with the class work but another excitedly anticipating what being in a relationship with her would be like.

He was going to spoil her, absolutely there was no doubt at all. Necklaces, clothes, gifts, sweets, tickets to shows, anything at all. She would make a fuss, definitely, so he might not get to do it as much as he would like but he was going to try. She wasn’t going to stand for it being unbalanced, so he didn’t want to go overboard because he knew she would go above and beyond to return the favor. He didn’t want her to spend anything on him, he wanted to be the one to spoil her, but as was evident with something as simple as coffee that morning he knew it wasn’t going to work that way.

His fingers rolled his pencil between them and he lost focus on the lesson again, smothering a grin with his free hand as he considered their date that night, quickly doodling a ladybug sitting on a bell to return to Marinette.

It was a Friday night in Paris, and he didn’t want to take her just anywhere. He was a lot more nervous than he wanted to admit but his admittedly showy Cat Noir side refused to settle for second best. He wasn’t one to name pull, but if he asked Natalie to make reservations for him she would likely do it on his behalf. He tapped his eraser against his knuckles rhythmically, trying to remember if he knew what Marinette’s favorite flower was. Would that look lame? Maybe over the top but… he wanted to do it right. She was a princess she deserved the best, and he knew she would probably humor him. It would be easier if they could just be in their masks, easier to play is cool, but he didn’t want to make some excuse so he could be Cat Noir when it happened. He finally had the masks out of his way, he wasn’t about to hide behind one again just to be more comfortable.

“Adrien! Can you answer?”

Adrien’s head snapped up and he locked eyes with the teacher, their face expectant and patient and he knew he’s just been asked something.

“Uhh- I’m sorry can you repeat the question please?”

Laughter rang through the classroom and the teacher shook their head, begrudgingly repeating themselves and pulling the answer from the typically studious boy even if it did take a few minutes. Honestly it was like he wasn’t listening at all.

Nino snickered, nudging his friend and whispering, “Head in the game lover boy,” to which Adrien huffed and shook his head, embarrassed at being caught out.

More of class rolled by and he never got his note back from Marinette, probably as punishment for not paying attention, and he did his best to focus on the lesson.

Some homework for the weekend it would seem… shouldn’t be too hard, maybe he could do it with Marinette. They could do a study date type of thing at the library, or maybe her house. He would prefer her house, it was warm and smelt nice and her parents were so kind. With a flash of mild panic he realized he would probably need to get permission to take their daughter out that night, he hadn’t even thought about it. Sabine would probably be all for it, she had already given her blessing right? Tom would probably be okay with it as well but he was still a father, he might say something. Maybe not though… Tom seemed to like him, he was so nice he couldn’t really imagine him saying no or anything.

Just like that he was utterly distracted and Nino could tell, watching as his friend drifted off once again and sighed quietly to himself. Seriously, his note taking might be the only thing that ended up keeping Adrien’s grades afloat, he would be so lost without him.

Finally the bell for their second class rang and Adrien started to pack up his things, waiting for Marinette so they could walk together. She smiled at him when she saw him standing there, handsomely grinning at her in a way that made her heart skip. It was still surreal for her.

Nino looked between the two of them and grinned, jumping up to grab Alya’s arm and tug her away from the couple.

“Yeah I need to talk to Alya about uh, stuff, so you guys have your alone time okay? Keep it clean Adrien no rough housing.”

“NINO!” Adrien blurted out, only fueling his idiotic friend’s laughter as he pulled the reporter out into the hall and out of sight. Alya looked at him expectantly once they were there and he simply shrugged, walking off in the direction of his locker.

“They looked like they wanted to be alone, I say we give them some space today, let them have the weekend to sort things out then go back to normal on Monday, sound fair?”

 

Back in the classroom Adrien was fighting to keep the humiliation from his face, Marinette surpassing her own awkwardness to elbow him gently and give him a wink.

“You heard him no roughhousing kitten.”

“Mari please you so aren’t helping.”

The duo moved out into the hallway themselves, Adrien viciously scanning for his stupid friend but coming up empty, giving off a heavy sigh and shaking his head to try and rid it of its heat. To his relief though Marinette didn’t seem to mind the teasing, at least there was that.

Adrien followed her to her locker, tagging along without any prompt to do so because if it was at all possible he was going to follow her basically anywhere, just wanting to be with her.

He intended to tentatively broch the subject of asking her parent’s permission for that night when he felt a gentle push against his upper chest, the part that wasn’t damaged. When he looked down he saw Plagg, silently asking for his attention.

“Plagg wants something, lets duck behind here,” he whispered to Marinette, who looked at the wall he was referencing and positioned herself to block him from view with a smile. He grinned at the teamwork, but turned his attention to his kwami.

“What’s up?” he asked, watching from the corner of his eye as Marinette stood guard.

“Seems quiet, you think queenie would have showed up by now,” Plagg started, peeking out from the jacket.

“Yeah, maybe double possessions aren’t a thing?”

“Maybe not, I can’t remember it happening before but that doesn’t mean much. Still, if it doesn’t look like you need to be Cat Noir any time soon, can I go hang out with Tikki? Marinette’s bag smells a lot better than sweaty teen boy.”

Adrien scoffed, frowning at his kwami and protesting quietly, “I don’t smell, if you want to see Tikki just say that!”

Marinette was giggling, trying to look inconspicuous but finding their argument adorable.

“He’s welcome to hang out with us,” she offered, Tikki giving a muffled shout of agreement from her clutch. “Put him in my backpack, there’s more room. You too Tikki.”

With a look over her shoulder they did the switch and the kwamis greeted each other happily, obviously pleased that they could hang out more often now that their charges had finally gotten it together and revealed their identities.

“Cookie?” Adrien heard Tikki offer, to which Plagg gave a disgusted groan and it made him laugh.

“If he starts bugging you for cheese during class I’m sorry, he can be sort of annoying,” Adrien chuckled, moving down the hall with Marinette once again. She stopped in front of her locker, pulling out some books but was careful not to disturb the creatures currently in her bag.

“It’s alright,” she said, patting the tiny black cat on the head and making Tikki laugh, “I think he’s cute.”

“Cute!?” Plagg gasped, “I am not cute,” but he was quickly shushed by both teens since there were other students nearby.

Once Marinette had her things they started to head towards their classroom, running a little behind and likely to be late, Adrien said, “So uh about tonight.”

Marinette blushed slightly, remembering her date even though she had hardly stopped thinking about it since he asked. “Yeah?”

“Uh, would your parents be okay with it? Should I ask?”

The designer blinked, seemed to consider it for a moment, than shook her head with a smile.

“No, honestly they’ll be thrilled, I’ll just let them know once I get home.”

She giggled again when he sighed in relief, a weight lifted from his shoulders. She was excited for their date, beyond excited actually, so she asked, “Where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise,” he answered quickly, grinning at her mischievously until she rolled her eyes. The truth was that he didn’t know yet, resolving to sneak out to the bathroom at some point during their next class to text Natalie and get her looking for the nicest place available.

Her eyes narrowed a bit, playfully sizing him up.

“You’re not going to go overboard are you kitty?”

What?” he gasped theatrically, a hand to his chest. “Me? Going overboard with something? Absolutely not princess of course not. However for no particular reason at all, what’s your favorite flower?”

She sighed, the sound eventually evolving into laughter as she looped her arm through his as easily as if she had a done it a thousand times. She did it gently, knowing she was cradling the damaged arm, but she could still feel him jolt slightly at the contact, his body heating and cheeks tinging pink. It made her smile at how easily she could thwart his bravado.

 

“I’m looking forward to it.”