Marinette had never considered her civilian self to be graceful.
If graceful was slipping down a flight of stairs in front of her crush after accidentally calling him “hot stuff,” then that was Marinette. Unfortunately, she didn’t exactly fall into that category. There was no return, no hope of being saved from the tremendous amount of embarrassment she had faced at eleven forty-five that morning.
Of course, Adrien being the natural-born gentleman that he was, laughed it off after briskly assisting her in picking up her things. Who knew how that boy managed to be so kind to everyone—even the awkward girl that stumbled down five steps and fell on her rear simply because he'd said hello.
It had certainly been quite the sight, at least for the crowd of students exiting Collége Françoise Dupont for their lunch break. Marinette, in a rush to gather her things and meet Alya, was quite distracted from her path. It hadn’t helped that her vision was occupied from the fashion magazine she'd stuffed her face into, which featured the blond sweetheart himself.
“Hey, Marinette!” Adrien had said, his familiar warm and welcoming voice pulling her eyes up from the colorful page. He had a hand tucked into his pocket and the other on the strap of his schoolbag, his lips curled upwards in a wonderfully sweet grin.
It was a wonder to Marinette how he always managed to look flawless, even after the rather intense literature test they had just endured the period before. It wasn't much of a surprise—Adrien was one of the school’s prodigy students, his grades soaring above others, including Marinette herself. It’s not that she had bad grades at all—Adrien just somehow managed to be the smartest kid in their class. It might have been from the many years of homeschooling, but it was only one of the hundreds of attributes that made Adrien amazing and, just like most girls (and some boys) in school, had Marinette falling so hard for him every day.
The sight of him greeting her, as friends normally do, caused some sort of funny spark to ignite within her chest. A spark that wasn't anything close romantic; more like a prick of anxiety muddled together with a strange feeling of affection, producing quite the ugly concoction that made her stomach twist. Because of the uncomfortable (yet somehow excited) bubbling, Marinette hadn't known what possessed her to speak the ungodly words that slipped past her lips at that moment; perhaps her mind wasn’t functioning properly. Maybe she had received a mild concussion from yesterday’s akuma attack and hadn’t realized it was affecting her until now.
And then her world ended.
Her heart stopped, her tongue flopped, and her voice...
Well, her voice squeaked out: “H-hey, hot stuff!”
Marinette swore right then she'd be okay with keeling over.
The moment she saw Adrien’s eyebrow cock in an unexpected chuckle of surprise made her squawk and miss the first step going down the stairs, sending her tumbling and rolling down five steps until she landed upright on her rear.
Concrete wasn’t the best for cushioning her impact. Her tailbone would definitely be sore later.
"Are you alright?" Adrien swallowed his previous laugh, replacing the humorous lilt with friendly concern. Those summer green eyes that reminded her of grassy fields and sunshine glowed and Marinette swore she could feel the kindness radiating off of his gaze and warming her skin. The warmth only grew as he reached out a hand to help her back on her feet.
Heat rose to her freckled cheeks, causing her throat to close up and restricting any sound that wished to escape her lips. She settled with a slow nod instead, black bangs draping in her face like a curtain that hid the redness of her blush. Swallowing dryly, Marinette reached out a hesitant hand and grasped his, finding it even more difficult to stand now that they had physical contact.
(Oh my god, he was actually touching her hand.)
With shaky legs, she brought herself back up to her feet (with Adrien's assistance), and let out a the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
Adrien had yet to let go of her hand.
Her heart beat so fast she swore it would pop right out of her chest and smack him in the face.
"That was quite the fall," Adrien's gaze shifted from her eyes to the floor, where her bag had opened and an ocean of paper and supplies scattered across the pavement. "Let me help you with this."
It took everything Marinette had not to let out a whine as he broke what little physical contact they'd previously shared. Part of her was sure that she wasn't even on Earth anymore.
In fact, because of her semi-dazed state, she had neglected to notice that her sketchbook had opened to a particular page she'd wanted to keep hidden. As Adrien reached for it, she couldn't bring herself to swipe it from his grasp—after all, what good would it do to tell her crush to back off when she had just lived through the embarrassment of falling in front of him?
"A-ah, those are, um," The heat in her face increased. She watched with an anxious gaze as his hands ran across the page lightly, taking in all of the details. By the look on his face, she prayed that it was the expression of someone who was impressed rather than appalled. "Just some designs I was make to inspired—I mean, inspired to make—after the last akuma attack. That I saw. From the crowd. As a bystander!"
The urge to smack her palm against her forehead was almost too strong to resist. Smooth, Marinette, real smooth.
She knew the sketches that Adrien held in his hands were probably nothing compared to what he modeled on a nearly daily basis. His father was the best fashion designer in all of Paris, if not Europe in its entirety. If those gorgeous green eyes of his were on any other sketches, maybe she wouldn't feel as nervous. Because in all honesty, why would Marinette be designing clothes for Ladybug and Chat Noir, of all people?
It wasn't that she hadn't felt pride in those designs. No, they actually happened to be some of her favorite ideas so far: altering their suits for winter. Her normal skin-tight suit wore a spotted shawl from her shoulders to her back and chest in her signature scarlet, completed with a fluffy black trim around the edges and neck. Instead of having only spandex covering her feet, she sported some stylish black boots made of leather. They were heelless, careful not to hinder her movement or speed. From her hands to the end of her forearm stretched black gloves, made for the soul purpose of looking cool as well as keeping her hands a tad warmer.
Chat's design hadn't changed too much, considering he was covered in black leather that absorbed heat due to its coloration. That didn't stop Marinette's creativity, of course. His top was rid of the zippers and made of a much softer material, the inside lined with a cozy fabric that would be comfortable and retain warmth. Thicker pants ran down his legs, made of the same fabric of the shirt on the interior. He had complained last winter that he hated the cold; he wasn't alone on that thought. An acid green scarf wrapped around his neck and draped his shoulders, the color reminiscent of his bright eyes.
Chat's eyes had always drawn her attention; they were so thoughtful and displayed countless emotions that she could never fully pick up on. She knew her partner well enough by now to understand most of his mannerisms and body language, but his eyes were full of secrets, locking them tight and blocking off any attempt she made to dive deep inside them. Marinette figured that within him, something was amiss; it almost seemed like unhappiness at times, but his cheerful demeanor when he was with her always overcame whatever was bothering him. She figured that in his civilian form, Chat must be an actor or something—how else could he hide everything so well?
"Marinette?" Adrien's voice cut through her thoughts, bringing her back to reality. How long had she zoned out? Had he been speaking? Mon dieu, what did he say!?
"Ah..." Marinette blinked several times, attempting (and failing) to conjure a coherent sentence. "I'm s-so sorry! Wh-what did you say?"
She could see his eyes soften and lips stretch into a smile. "I said these designs are amazing. Are you going to make them? I'm sure Ladybug and Chat Noir would be appreciative. If you were to show them, that is."
"Oh!" Marinette squeaked. Sketching the designs was one thing, but actually making them was a whole new subject entirely. She hadn't considered it, being Ladybug herself, but seeing Adrien's excitement led her to nod without fully processing her response. "I-I, I guess I could, I mean- I, well- do you think they would actually like them?" Of course Ladybug would. Marinette wouldn't mind gaining some publicity from waltzing around and saving Paris in her own designs. If citizens knew that Ladybug was wearing Marinette's designs, well, they surely wouldn't hesitate to ask to see more—perhaps even buy them!
"I think they'd love it," Adrien's voice was full of encouragement. "You're very talented, Marinette. Keep it up." Holding out her sketchbook, he handed it back to her with the gentlest hand he could manage, which made Marinette's heart soar.
"Thank you, Adrien." For once she didn't stutter. "It means a lot."
He bid his goodbyes and Marinette watched as he entered his silver car and was driven away. She wondered if he knew how much he had inspired her, encouraged her, filled her with self esteem for her skills! If Adrien Agreste liked her designs, what could be the fault in making them for the two superheroes?
The only problem was that she needed Chat's measurements. It would be awkward to come right out and ask him as Ladybug, and would possibly give away a little too much information, so... that option was out of the question. There had to be another way.
If she and Chat could even alter their suits. Marinette hadn't even considered that they wouldn't be able to—those sketches were just for fun—so really... How would she make this work?
Lunches at home were always peaceful.
Marinette let out a relaxed sigh as she and Alya sat at her kitchen table, snacking on some cookies from the bakery below. Once or twice a week her friend usually came over for lunch, claiming that she "couldn't resist the sweets her parents made." Truthfully Marinette enjoyed her company and loved having her over as often as she could, due to most of their hangouts being interrupted by akuma attack after akuma attack. Ladybug couldn't stick around for chit-chat.
"So," Alya began, biting into one of the chocolate chip cookies that had been set out on a plate. "I heard from Nino that Adrien said you made some really awesome new designs that I'm apparently excited to see. Want to show me?"
Marinette couldn't help but giggle, her cheeks harboring a shade of pink. Had Adrien really talked about her designs to Nino? She knew Alya would love these recent sketches, and the thought that she would actually be fabricating them would send the young journalist into a fit of Ladybug obsession.
"Okay," She said, "but they were just a spur of the moment thing and I'm still not one hundred percent sure I'll actually make them."
Sliding her sketchbook out of her schoolbag, she handed it to Alya, who flipped to the most recent page. Her eyes widened three times their size behind her glasses as she gazed down at the page, mouth gaped and lips curled into a grin, excitement clear on her face. "No way! You have to make these, girl! If not for Ladybug and Chat Noir, then for me. These are amazing!"
Another laugh slipped out of Marinette's mouth. Her best friend's thrill was clear and she didn't want to disappoint her or Adrien at this point, so why not? There was no harm in it. It would be pretty great for publicity.
"Ugh, Alya, you know I can't say no to that face," Marinette sighed, grinning at her friend. "I'll see if I can get started on them soon. There's a problem, though." Her fingers tapped on the tabletop. "I don't really know their measurements. I mean, Ladybug's is kind of similar to my own... but I have no idea what Chat Noir's are, and it's not like I can just call him up and ask him to come over."
Alya pondered her statement for a moment, tossing the rest of her cookie in her mouth before an idea visibly appeared in her brain. She snapped her fingers, a devious smirk stretching across her features, which caused Marinette to become slightly nervous. Goodness, what did she have planned?
"Got it," Alya chimed, "I could totally ask Adrien. He's tall enough, isn't he? Plus, you'd get to have him in your room all day. I'm sure you two could talk and maybe fall in love and-"
"Alya!" Marinette's exclamation even surprised herself, causing her to nearly choke on the cookie she had recently bitten into. "I can't just have Adrien in my room alone with me, I'm...Too awkward. I'll just embarrass myself."
"Well, how else are you going to get measurements?" Alya countered. "Nino isn't the correct height or body type, and it's not like we know another guy well enough to ask if he can help."
Marinette didn't want to admit it, but Alya had a point. Adrien was around the same height and shape as Chat... It couldn't be that bad, could it?
"Alright...Fine," She caved, "but I want you there for moral support for a little while."
"Girl, you can do this. It's just Adrien—he's a normal guy! Well," Another smirk appeared on her face as she snagged a second cookie. "Besides the fact that he's a model, but he's probably used to this. It wont be any different for him. Just be careful not to prick him with any pins below the neck, or else you'll be kissing boo-boos in places that aren't reserved for 'just friends.'"
Alya's laugh filled the room as Marinette's face heated up in a deep flush. She didn't even want to think about piercing his beautiful skin, let alone kissing it. At least right now.
"Look," Alya began as she picked up her schoolbag, reminding Marinette that their lunch break was almost over. "I'll ask him, okay? Cheer up and calm down. You'll be fine, girl, I promise."
Marinette was wrapped in a comforting hug before they returned to school, her face still a tinge red from the idea that Adrien might be coming to her house to help fit her designs. The more she thought about it from sitting behind him and staring at the back of his head, she began to consider that it might not be such a bad thing. Her and Adrien could bond, talk a little, maybe get past the nervous and awkward barrier she had built up. Maybe they could even squeeze in a little video game break.
It's not so bad, Marinette thought to herself as she as she slumped into one of her rolling chairs, placing her sketchbook on her desk and leaving it open on the page of her most recent designs. Maybe we'll have fun. Maybe I'll actually learn to talk to him without making a fool of myself.
Those thoughts were immediately wiped from her mind as Adrien himself appeared at her front door a mere hour later.