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Wished at Midnight

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“I hate it.”

Marinette’s lips parted in shock, her sky blue eyes going wide. “P-pardon?” she asked quietly, hoping she had heard wrong.

Madeline turned around, her amber eyes brightening in obvious annoyance. A quick glance at her pattern would tell any supernatural that she was a vampire, and her last name, Delacorte, was from a very powerful family line. The vampire regarded the half-witch in front of her with distaste as she tugged at the garment’s soft silk skirt as if it was the cause of her discomfort. “I said I hate it,” she repeated with a hiss. A sneer twisted her delicate features sourly as if daring the young designer heiress to contradict her. “I asked for a Zyah Cheng Original, not some hack knock off! Did she even attempt to follow the theme I described in my letter?”

As the granddaughter of Zyah Cheng, Marinette had always aspired to follow her in her footsteps; and not just as a designer, but in succeeding as high priestess of the Cheng coven. She was use to high expectations. They were challenging, and she loved the rare smile she would get when Zyah would approve of one of her designs or when she mastered a difficult spell or potion. With such a life, she was also use to particular customers and requests. Honestly, she was expecting adjustments to the design... but an outright refusal was a first.

“It is tacky,” Dalia, one of Madeline’s groupies, added.

“It’s a terrible color for the spring formal,” Terra added.

“What’s with the blue rose here on the hip? It will clash with her shoes!”

“And that pattern on the skirt?”

“You should burn it.”

“Dalia’s totally right, you should burn it! It would be for the betterment of society.”

“Maybe Madame Cheng is losing her edge?”

“Elle n'est pas!” flew out of Marinette’s mouth before she could stop herself. The three vampires turned on her with harsh gazes. Marinette fought not to break their staring contest as her grandmother's words flowed in and out of her head.

"Keep eye contact. Do not show weakness. Be the dragon of the Cheng Coven. You are a princess among peasants. Chin up, back straight--"

"What did you say?" Madeline inquired coolly, pale blond brows knitting over her slowly brightening amber eyes.

"Grand-mère is not losing her edge." For a moment, even Marinette was surprised with herself. Her voice was so calm and collected just now; She almost sounded like her grandmother! She would be so pleased, she thought with a flash of pride.

The three vampires all shared looks with each other before Madeline cocked a hip and looked Marinette up and down. "Is that so? How would you know?"

You mean other than the fact I'm Zyah Cheng's granddaughter? Marinette thought with a mental eye roll. Still, her cheeks pinkened as her mind flashed back to when she first presented the request to her grandmother. Zyah had looked over the requirements and hummed in the back of her throat, the way she did when she was giving something real thought, before handing back the list to Marinette. "You shall make it. I'm too busy preparing for the Spring Equinox and the upcoming fashion show in Milan to indulge one of your friends."

Marinette folded her hands in front of her as elegantly as she could to hide the shaking.

"She's lying," Terra hissed, snapping her bubble gum in distaste. Madeline's hand flew up and immediately silenced the brunette vampire.

"Marinette Dupain-Cheng cannot lie if she's truly a priestess of the peacock," she told her groupies. Marinette's cheeks turned a deeper red as the blond leaned closer to her and then slowly smirked. "Tell me why you think Zyah Cheng isn't losing her edge and tell the absolute truth; give your word as Priestess of the Peacock!"

The order rang and echoed within Marinette's mind like the toll of a bell. Her blue eyes began to glow, and she felt the peacock pin under her jacket start to warm at the bidding. Looking past the three vampires, she could see Dusuu, the peacock spirit of truth, appear int he mirror. His blue eyes met her own as his fan opened up behind him. His gaze was warm and comforting, and together their eyes both flashed in a bright rainbow of blue shades. Marinette breathed a shaky breath, feeling the vision briefly overtake her and then set her back in her body again.

Three shocked faces greeted her upon her return and Marinette immediately knew that whatever she had said, it was clearly not what any of them expected. That was the drawback to those chosen to receive Dusuu's rare gift of prophecy. She never knew what she said until after the fact. Then her words came back to her, as clear as day. 

"All will be in awe of the belle of the ball.

Coccinelle's dress shall rule over all."

Marinette's cheeks flushed red instantly as she pushed her raven hair back behind her lucky ladybug earrings. Coccinelle was a name she had played with in secret over the last five years or so. Was her dress actually so fantastic that it would make Madeline outshine everyone at the Spring Formal? The thought made her slightly giddy as her eyes flashed back to the mirror in hopes of gaining some confirmation from her spirit guide, but Dusuu was already gone.

"Did she say Coccinelle? As in, the ghost designer?!" Dalia gasped, hands flapping over her mouth. "A Coccinelle dress is going to be at our Spring Formal?!"

"Coccinelle's designs have never failed to be in fashion," Terra agreed, turning to look at Madeline. "Do you think she designed your dress?"

"If it's a Coccinelle original, then this changes everything! It's probably so fashion forward that no one is wearing it yet," Dalia added, dancing in place.

"Wait!" Madeline silenced the pair, and her amber eyes landed on Marinette again. Her face had lost the grimace to a more calculating stare. "You still haven't told me why you think your grandmother hasn't lost her edge."

Instantly, the magick within the peacock pin surged into Marinette's heart. Compulsion took over, and her lips parted, and the truth spilled out. "I made the dress, so grand-mère hasn't lost her edge at all."

It only took a second before all three burst out into laughter. The sound made Marinette's pride shatter as she watched Madeline pull her garment off with supernatural strength. "Of course! I should've seen it sooner," Madeline gasped, wiping her eyes to catch mirthful tears. "You thought you could match your grandmother's edge, so you made the dress instead. How pathetic!"

"I just knew it was a hack job," Dalia agreed. "I just never knew how bad until this moment."

Marinette gasped when she heard the stitches tear as Madeline struggled. She flew forward, "Wait! Stop, you'll tear it--"

"And that would only improve it," Madeline hissed, slashing at Marinette with sharp nails. The half-witch dodged the swipe as she hurried to undo the tie at the back of the girl's neck. "How dare you think you could pass off your grand-mère's work as your own. How desperate are you?"

"Have her burn it," Dalia pushed, and Terra rapidly agreed.

"Please," Marinette begged, tears beginning to sting her eyes. "Just hold still and I can--"

"Get off of me," Madeline ordered and shoved the half-witch aside. "Terra, Dalia, get this morceau de poubelle off of me."

Marinette's eyes widened, and she felt her magick surge to life within her. "Arrêtez! Stop!" she snapped, at last, losing all her composure as the two vampires began tugging at the dress. "If you just tell me what to change-- I can fix it! Do you not like the neckline?" Magick surged from Marinette's fingers in a mix of her personal pink and fretful red. The garment moved as if alive, making Madeline shriek in shock as it folded into a modest v-neck. "I can take off the rose, or I can change it to a lily, voir?" Dalia and Terra scrambled back as the embellishments on the dress began to morph to Marinette's fear. "Too long? Too short?" Her languages began to mix as it often did when Marinette was frantic. French and Chinese melded together into a language that sounded odd to the outside ear.

"Arrêtez!" Madeline's stinging slap shocked Marinette back to the present, and her magick exploded in one final burst. The three vampires shrieked in fear as she hit the wall. Marinette's vision blacked out for only a moment and pain burst through her back. Something sounded like shattering glass and pain flared through her entire back. She felt sick to her stomach, as she often did when she lost control of her powers... but one thought kept echoing in her ears.

Grand-mère is going to be angry.


It was nearly midnight and Marinette could barely sleep. She had been escorted to her quarters in the mansion where hedge witches tended to the lacerations on her back and neck. She had been told that there was a magickal explosion that made the mirror shatter when she hit the glass. The shards were enchanted by accident, and her wounds would scar. This, unfortunately, wasn't the first time such accidents happened. She had expected her grandmother to be angry when she saw the injuries. Marinette could take Zyah's anger and would do so with her head held high. But instead, Zyah only regarded her with stony disappointment. "Je m'attendais mieux à vous."

I expected better from you.

Those words alone cut deeper than any of the mirror shards. Marinette could see Madeline's would-be dress hanging on the mannequin in the corner of her bedroom. The beautiful blue garment she had been so proud of was now morphed and unrecognizable. She had worked so hard to ensure that it would bring out Madeline's eyes. Now it was splotched in different arrays of colors. The hemlines were terrible, and the flowers were all gone. There were slashes of color as if some beast had tried to tear at it with painted claws.

All her hard work. Gone.

If one looked inside the collar, they would see the small ladybug pattern stitching inside. If turned correctly, anyone would see the name Coccinelle written there in careful, delicate craftwork. Marinette wished idly that the stitching would disappear. She wasn't proud of the dress anymore. It was intense and gaudy to look at. No one would wear it.

"Marinette?" the voice was soft and tiny, but Marinette was used to hearing it. She easily found the speaker floating above her flower boxes on her balcony. With a wave of her hand, the French doors opened, and a breeze gently flowed inside.

"Come in, Tikki. You know you're always welcome in here." The ladybug spirit guide glowed with happiness as she flew inside. The wards above Marinette's door glowed briefly before going quiet again, recognizing the invitation. The spirit began to shape change, transforming from the tiny ladybug to that of a fairy. She flew gracefully over and touched the girl's cheek, frowning.

"You were crying today-- and you're injured."

"I'm okay," Marinette raised a finger and stroked her spirit guide's fiery red and black streaked hair gently. "It's... been a hard day."

"I didn't intend for things to go so awry," another voice spoke up, equally gentle. Dusuu appeared in the mirror across from her bed and stepped through. His cape fluttered in the breeze as he flew in fairy form, casting shimmers of emerald and sapphire colors throughout the room. The spirit of the peacock settled on her other shoulder. "I thought that by showing your dress as a success, it would make those three back off. But prophecy has always been tricky."

Tikki perked at the word 'dress' and looked over at the mannequin. She frowned, "That's it?" At Marinette's nod, the spirit's wings fluttered nervously behind her as she flew to inspect the half-witch's creation. "It's erm... colorful?"

Marinette offered a watery smile, "That's not how it started out, I promise. But thank you for being kind."

"It was much more regal than that," Dusuu added. "You would've been proud, Ti. A dress fit for royalty!"

"Then what happened?"

Marinette went on to explain to her spirit guide, just as she did when her grandmother. When she reached the end, Tikki cooed softly and flew over and began drying Marinette's cheeks. The half-witch noted idly how different the spirit's and her grandmother's reactions were. She felt so much warmth from Dusuu and Tikki's tiny affections than she did from her own blood relative... warmth that reminded her so much of her parents. Her mortification set in again and she burried her face in her hands. For once, she was glad her parents were gone.

"What's this?" Dusuu asked, flying over to a few pieces of paper on Marinette's vanity.

The half-witch looked up, "Oh, they're papers for the foreign exchange program the university is doing. I was going to ask grand-mère about going, but now I think the school will deny my application after today's incident."

"Papers for a journey? That's exciting! You've always wanted to travel," Tikki flitted over. "What did Zyah say?"

"I haven't asked her yet. I was going to surprise her with the opportunity when I received the approval letter... but I haven't gotten one yet."

"Do you think it wise to surprise her like that?" Dusuu asked, his blue eyes narrowing in worry. He pulled his cape around and stroked the feathered pattern, as if he were stroking his own tail in peacock form.

"Zyah has never let Marinette travel before," Tikki told the peacock spirit. "Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission."

"Zyah has good reasons," Dusuu shot back, but Marinette flinched from his sharpness. "The world is dangerous and Marinette is powerful. She needs to remain protected so that other factions can't harm her."

Tikki went quiet and turned her amethyst gaze on her charge. Marinette picked up the opportunity letter and then tossed it back on the vanity with defeat. Suddenly, her phone chimed in her pocket. Marinette furrowed her brow and glanced at the clock. Very few people had her phone number, and no one would be messaging her this late at night... no one except--

Marinette's cell phone was out in a flash and a smile tugged at her lips when she recognized Alya Cesaire's profile picture. She put in her passcode, opened the video app and hit play.

"Bonjour Mari! I hope you're having a stellar day. I have news that I couldn't wait to share. Guess who's school got on the ISSEP?! Everfree College! Look!" The camera blurred and she heard Alya curse and mutter in English as the camera took a moment to refocus on a poster. Sure enough, there was Paris, France listed on the paper. Marinette's lips parted in shock. The camera swung around again and Alya grinned her werewolf's smile at her, all fangs bared. "So we can finally see each other again when you get your letter! Message me when you get it so we can make arrangements here at the camp. A plus tard fille!" The video ended and Marinette fell back onto her bed, feeling sick to her stomach, feeling that fate had cheated her twice.

Tears began to gather in her eyes as another video message followed, this one dated for the previous day. Without stopping, Marinette hit play. The video showed Maui, one of the camp directors, and his wife, Lotte, playing instruments at the edge of a campfire. Alya made videos to her like this as often as she could and Marinette treasured every single one. Since she was restricted to all places where her grandmother could keep watch over her, Marinette often used these videos as windows into her best friend's world... a world where she could meet with other regular supernaturals instead of the elite her grandmother forced her to meet. She could see shapeshifters and werewolves all dancing around the fire, having a great time and singing in mixed English and French.

Maui, the Hawaiian witch, gazed lovingly at his wife as she strummed on a guitar. When the impromptu song ended, the students cheered and clapped all around and Alya panned the camera around so she could see. Her eyes trailed the frame as a familiar blond came into view. Adrien grinned and flashed a peace sign at her and Marinette found herself giggling softly at the gesture. Lila, one of Alya's best friends, was next and she waved to the camera. "Hi Marinette!" she called in English. Marinette waved back absently.

"Alright, who wants to go next?" Maui asked, looking up. His thick Hawaiian accent sounded musical to her ears.

"Can we sing Everfree?" someone asked. The request was made outside of the camera shot. 

"A camp favorite," Lotte cheered as she began to strum. "We haven't sung that one in a long time."

"And I'm sure the bayou would enjoy hearing it again," Maui agreed, reaching behind him and picking up a guitar.  The camera panned around and Alya's face came into the frame. She winked and then turned the camera again.

Together, Lotte and Maui counted off in perfect sync before strumming up the music.

 

Will you be lost by time or be part of history?
Will your story be told or remain a mystery?
Will they sing your song, telling all that you have done?
Time to make your choice, only you can be the one
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree! (Hey!)
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree! (Hey! Hey! Hey!)

People began to clap as Lotte and Maui got to their feet and dance together as they played. 

Will you do something great with the time that you have here?
Will you make your mark? Will you conquer what you fear?

Adrien appeared back in the frame, dancing with a tanned skin boy with glasses. Together they jumped the massive fire and Marinette only guessed they succeeded because of their powers. Still, the sight was wonderful and she set the phone down to applaud quietly.

And when you go back home, everybody there will see
You were part of the Legend of Everfree!
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree! (Hey!)
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree! (Hey!)

Pairs began to appear in the dance circle and Marinette swayed in time to the music. She watched as lights began to appear all throughout the image and heard Alya gasp in wonder. Marinette had seen them in other videos the werewolf ha sent her before, but this was the first time Alya reacted on audio. She thought that the lights were some cool effect that Alya had figured out... maybe she was wrong?

Will you find your greatest glory?
Will you be a falling star?
Here to learn what nature teaches
Here to learn more who you are
Will you be lost by time or be part of history?
Will your story be told or remain a mystery?
And when you go back home, everybody there will see
You were part of the Legend of Everfree!
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree! (Hey!)
Oh, oh, oh-oh-whoa
As you join in the Legend of Everfree!
Hey!

"HEY!" Everyone cheered and began clapping. Alya's video ended and Marinette made a noise of disappointment. She could easily imagine herself dancing to that very song at the campfire. She blushed, wondering briefly if Adrien would've danced with her. She closed her eyes and indulged herself a little dream. She hummed the song in a mix of English and French as she got to her feet and danced. There was no way that she could fly over the fire like he did, but she imagined herself dancing with the flames, drawing it up and around her like she did in practice. Would he be impressed? Maybe...

"That's a wonderful song," Dusuu suddenly spoke up, breaking her dream.

"I've been wanting to go see Alya for years. She says Everfree College is one of the best Supernatural schools out there."

"Don't give up hope," Tikki flew over and picked up the opportunity letter. "Anything can happen when you set your mind to it, Marinette. Is it truly your wish to go to Everfree and see Alya?"

"More than anything," Marinette answered without hesitation. "But it would take a miracle to get there now."

High in the sky overhead, a star winked brilliantly before shooting across the sky.