Marinette had always dreaded a lot of scenarios that came to her mind ever since she first got her Miraculous. Like the day she and Chat Noir would be forced to reveal themselves before the time was right, or the day where she would be trapped in the middle of a akuma attack and be unable to transform.
Or, worse, she dreaded the idea of being trapped with a lot of people and having no other solution but to reveal herself in order to save them. Because as much as she loved the citizens of Paris and did her best to keep them safe, it was still risky to let her identity go – for herself, for her family, and for anyone else involved.
She had voiced her concerns to her kwami a few times before and Tikki – ever so patient – reassured her that if the time ever came, Marinette would know what to do. She was intelligent, and had a strong heart, and thus would be able to make the right choice. But then again, it could take a long time for them to be found in that kind of situation – heck, it could simply never happen at all, if they were lucky!
Although her worries were still there, Marinette decided that the ancient creature was right after all, and that stressing over such things would not help her already hectic life as a superhero.
That time came much faster than they could have predicted though.
Like with most unexpected events, her day had started wonderfully. It was her last day of school, for one, which made the whole class positively giddy of excitement for their much awaited rest. The school actually had a very nice vibe as the students gathered in small groups to share their plans for the next few months.
Upon Alya’s suggestion, the class had decided to hang out that day after school, and after various debates, it was decided that they would all gather in a nice cafe a few streets away.
The walk to their destination was quite short, the pleasant feeling of freedom following the group wherever they went. In the cafe, they all sat together, having permission to unite a few tables to make a bigger one.
Marinette was positively having the time of her life! All of her friends were there, and she even managed to strike a bit of conversation with Adrien, which would always be surprising for her. Not even Chloé being present at the table could worry her, since the blonde was too busy bragging about her super expensive trip overseas to try and ruin anyone else’s day.
Everything seemed perfect – too perfect, in fact. But she should know better than anyone how no day in Paris is fully complete without an akuma.
Their feeling of freedom was soon destroyed at the sound of a shriek somewhere in the cafe. Turning their heads, the class could see the figure of a man at the door. His outfit would have been quite cheerful if only his body were not surrounded by chains, dragging behind him on the floor as he walked.
He moved the chains hanging from his arms towards the people at the tables. Marinette jumped away as soon as he moved, her superhero instincts kicking in almost instantly. To her surprise, she noticed that instead of hurting the people sitting down, they were now all chained to their chairs, struggling to break free.
The akuma spoke, something about how, if he could not have his free days to see his daughter that summer, no one else could either.
Marinette looked around, noticing that like her, a few other people had been quick enough to move away from their chairs before being caught. Alya was one of them, her hands busy with her phone, as well as Alix, bless her quick reflexes, Lila, and a few others. Most importantly in her eyes, Adrien was safe too, despite looking quite worried, and she nearly sighed in relief at the sight.
However, she forced herself to focus on the situation. She had to find somewhere to transform, like the bathroom. Or maybe she could evacuate the people unchained and find somewhere outside–
Another flick of the chains cracked against the walls like whips, making all of the doors and windows disappear, leaving only solid walls and no way out.
Marinette felt her heart sink as she watched the akuma make sure that no one would be going anywhere, before leaving through the only door left in the room: the only leading upstairs to the cafe’s owner.
There was absolutely no way out. The cafe was too small for her to hide, no matter where she tried, it would be useless. And she had no way to contact Chat Noir like that as well. He could be anywhere, she’d be lucky if he knew there was an akuma attack at all, let alone its exact location. No cataclysm for her this time.
She looked around, watching everyone’s faces display agony and fear. Her heart sank even lower as she looked down at her purse, meeting two big, worried purple eyes looking directly at her blue ones.
Marinette felt trapped – quite literally. She had no choice at all. If she wanted to save those people, she would have to give away her identity.
Every time she had thought about this situation in particular, she would think that maybe one or two of her friends would be around, but not her whole class! It was mortifying, much worse than she could have ever imagine! Not wanting to transform, she felt like punching the wall in a vain hope that maybe she could break it and get out of there to save them. But it was not possible, and she knew what she had to do.
What was the right thing to do.
She took a deep breath.
“Tikki,” she whispered, a few heads turning to her then, “transform me.”
A pink light filled the small shop for a few moments, before quickly fading and leaving a determined Ladybug where Marinette had been just a second ago.
The heroine grabbed her yo-yo, ignoring all the surprised stares burning through her. She didn’t even dare to look at her friends’ direction for she knew, from the little she could see from her peripheral vision, Alya and Adrien were definitely gaping at her like she had come from another world altogether.
“I’m sorry,” she spoke softly to no one in particular before her voice grew clearer. “Don’t worry. I will make sure that everyone is safe. I’ll contact Chat Noir and he will be here in no time too, I am sure.”
She had barely opened her yo-yo to call her partner when the cafe was once again greeted by a blinding light. As soon as it faded, Ladybug whipped around, a noise echoing loudly in her ears as her weapon fell to the floor.
“Did you call,” Chat Noir purred from the exact same spot where Adrien should have been, excitement evident from his loving smile to the very tip of his erect belt tail, "My Lady?"
Said heroine froze, ironically understanding what everyone else around them was going through. The time in the room seemed to have stopped as she gaped, her cheeks slowly reddening enough to burn, her voice trying to form any coherent words – and failing. Miserably.
It wasn't until a scream for help came from upstairs that the time in the room seemed to finally flow again, turning everyone's attention to the stairs. Ladybug looked at her partner once again.
"Act now, talk later?" Yes, yes, very articulated, Marinette.
Chat did not seem to mind her lack of words as he nodded, his bright smile never once faltering as they ran upstairs to stop the akuma.