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A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 35 of 37

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The forlorn violin sang through the speakers, contributing to the gloomy, depressing atmosphere in the room. Adrien almost felt bad—his mood was stormy enough to avoid such melodramatics, wasn’t it? But if the music, depressing thought it might be, helped him…

Ivan finally looked up from his desk, his frown one of disquiet.

“Are you…sure you don’t want to talk about it?” He asked carefully; it was apparent that he did not want to push Adrien on the subject before he was ready to talk about it, but Adrien could clearly see that his therapist—his friend—was worried about him.

It probably didn’t help that today’s playlist was labeled ‘Heartbreak’…

Plagg snorted from his position on the corner of Ivan’s desk, gloating over his cheese pile. Adrien closed his eyes, waiting for the antagonistic remarks from his merciless kwami…but it appeared the finicky creature was enjoying his camembert too much to actually pay Adrien’s pouting any attention. Honestly, Adrien didn’t know what was worse—the snide remarks, or the fact that Plagg seemed to think he wasn’t even worth making fun of in this moment.

That made Adrien sit up from the chaise longue, sighing from his soul.

If Plagg wasn’t even bothering to kick him while was down, he must really be in bad shape, wasn’t he…?

“Marinette and I broke up,” he made himself say; the words were bile in his mouth, and so he spit them out as quickly as possible. He didn’t dare to look over, but he could still feel the gaze of his therapist, probably surprised and very much concerned.

“Oh…I’m sorry to hear that, Adrien.” He heard Ivan shift in his seat. “Erm…if you need some time to yourself this morning—”

“It’s fine,” Adrien cut across him, turning to give Ivan a forlorn smile. “This is the one place I can escape to when I want to avoid the outside world…you’re not kicking me out, are you?”

“Of course not,” Ivan denied, frowning at the thought. “I would never do that.”

Adrien chuckled to himself, slumping against the chaise once more.

“It was a joke, Ivan,” he assured his therapist. “I know you wouldn’t actually do that…otherwise you’d be a lousy friend, and a terrible therapist.”

Silence fell in the office, save for the wailing of the sad violin.

“I still love her,” Adrien said softly, mostly to himself. His eyes tightened at that. “She hurt me—she doesn’t trust me—but I still love her.” He turned his head, eyes meeting Ivan’s desperate for reassurance. “…Does that make me a masochist?”

Ivan offered him a sad smile.

“No. It’s just fact that love doesn’t always adhere to reason, if ever.”

“Great,” Adrien grumbled, sighing as he turned to stare at the ceiling again, ruffling his hair with a frustrated hand. “Wasn’t enough that I wasted eight years of my life in love with her already; now I’m probably doomed to miss her for the rest of it.” He scowled. “Either Fate has a bone to pick with me, or this life is me repaying some karmic debt from the past.”

“You sure complain a lot for a rich boy,” Plagg noted, and Adrien let out a sharp breath.

“It’s not like I’m bitching about a yacht I just bought having a slight dent in the side,” he pointed out, sitting back up to glare properly at his kwami. “I just had my heart broken, again, by the one person I thought I could trust more than anyone—would it kill you to have a little sympathy? What if it was you and Tikki in this situation?”

Ivan raised an eyebrow, glancing down at the suddenly clam-like kwami on his desk.

“You have a girlfriend, Plagg?”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Plagg denied petulantly with a roll of his green eyes. “You humans and your labels.

“Okay, your other half, your partner, whatever,” Adrien said, insisting upon his point. “If Tikki told you she never wanted to see you again, what would you do?”

Plagg’s expression went flat.

“I often go centuries without seeing Tikki,” he replied, and Adrien blinked. “Depending on how…difficult it is for our Chosens to work together, sometimes I even go lifetimes without seeing her.” His eyelids lowered, judgement in his gaze. “Perhaps you should keep in mind just how old I am before you go about trying to make me sympathize with you, kid.”

Adrien scowled. Well, that had backfired spectacularly…but even so, he couldn’t help but feel a grudging respect for Plagg. Sure, he made it sound like it was a non-issue, but how hard it must be, to be kept apart from your other half due to the whims of another…

Huh. Maybe that’s why Plagg was quieter than usual; maybe he was missing Tikki after only getting to see her for a brief time just recently…or maybe he was resentful of Adrien for ruining that for him, and was giving him the silent treatment. It was kind of hard to tell with Plagg: though the kwami acted like he was only about one thing—cheese—Adrien had learned through years of dealing with him that Plagg tended to keep his real feelings close to his chest, only expressing them when it was absolutely necessary, preferring to taunt and tease his way out of situations more often than not. In a way, he and Adrien—the younger, naïve Adrien—were a lot alike. He was a constant pain in Adrien’s ass, sure…but damn it if he didn’t help Adrien get better at expressing himself over the years.

Adrien glanced away from his kwami to find Ivan frowning at him, his brow puckering in concern.

“…Marinette told you she never wanted to see you again?” He asked, conflict in his tone, like he couldn’t believe Marinette would say something like that.

Adrien snorted without humor.

“No, she didn’t say that,” Adrien grumbled, rubbing the back of his neck as he stared down at his lap. “Not like she could, anyway, since…well, let’s just say, even if she did say that, it would be kind of impossible for her to avoid me from then on.”

Adrien glanced up, giving Ivan a significant look, and understanding dawned in his gaze.

“Ah,” he said delicately as he carefully averted his eyes from the elephant in the room. “I see.” He twiddled his thumbs for a moment, appearing deep in thought. “…May I ask some questions about it?”

“Sure,” Adrien allowed, inwardly amused at how polite Ivan was. If it was Alya, she’d probably tie him to a chair and resort to head games and torture in the course of her interrogation…but perhaps his brain was merely exaggerating…

Suddenly, Adrien pictured Alya’s face, the expression she would make if/when she found out that he and Marinette had broken up…and he shuddered. Perhaps not.

“Well,” Ivan began, pulling Adrien out of terrifying thoughts of his imminent demise, “earlier, you said that you and Marinette had broken up…but then you said that she broke your heart.” Ivan tilted his head thoughtfully, inspecting Adrien. “I was just wondering…was it a mutual break-up?”

Adrien stared at Ivan bleakly. Did it matter?

“…Not exactly,” he endeavored to answer anyway, since he knew Ivan wouldn’t judge him for anything he said. “And it wasn’t like we actually saidwe were breaking up…but the way we left things kind of implied it.” Adrien released a sigh, letting his head fall into a hand. “We said such horrible things to each other…”

“It’s easy to want to say terrible things when you’re angry and wanting to hurt someone,” Ivan reasoned, and Adrien couldn’t decide if it was good or bad that Ivan seemed to be sympathizing with him. He glanced up with a cringe.

“No, Ivan, you don’t understand. I…I called her a murderer.

This made Ivan pause, his eyes widening slightly.

“…Oh,” he said after a moment, and again, Adrien was struck by the simplicity of his therapist expressing his surprise. “Well, that’s…quite a hurtful thing to say, yes.”

He glanced away, frowning thoughtfully again. Adrien wondered if he was thinking about asking if Adrien’s accusation of Marinette was actually true.

“I didn’t mean it,” he blurted out. Ivan’s gaze was drawn back to him.

“…Why would you say it if you didn’t mean it?” He asked.

Adrien paused.

“…Because I was angry…?”

Hmm. Why did that feel like a lie? Especially since Ivan agreed that it was easier to say awful things when one was upset?

As if he could read his mind—or perhaps Adrien’s feelings were clear by the look on his face, as always—Ivan gave him a wry smile.

“I said that it was easier to say terrible things when you’re angry, not false things,” he clarified. Adrien felt shame crawl up his back, and he hung his head.

So, on some level…he meant it when he called Marinette a murderer.

That was…well, there were no words that did justice to how truly terrible that was.

“I forgave her,” he whispered to his knees, shaking his head in hopes to rid himself of the guilt that still plagued him, even now. “I already forgave her…so why? Why did I say that…?”

It was only when Adrien looked to Ivan for help that his therapist actually endeavored to answer his desperate question…and even before that, he shrugged.

“It might have just been something you needed to get out, forgiven or not,” he reasoned, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Or it could be that you wanted to say something to Marinette that would hurt her worse than the things she was saying to you. Or maybe you haven’t actually forgiven her; you just want to believe you have so you can finally move past it. Or—”

“Ivan, please,” Adrien interrupted, holing up a hand with a pleading look, “that’s a bit too many “what ifs” for me to handle right now.”

“Sorry,” Ivan apologized with a slight smile. “But only you really know why you said it, Adrien. I can only take you so far in trying to find your answer.”

Adrien sighed. So this was one of those soul-searches he had to embark on his own, huh? He hated those, they were hard…but he couldn’t begrudge Ivan for his honesty. After all, his therapist couldn’t tell him how to feel, and despite his griping, Adrien preferred it that way.

After a minute or two, Ivan coughed awkwardly.

“Erm…this may be bad timing, but…since your session’s up for today…I, uh, have something for you, Adrien…”

Adrien glanced up in mild surprise.

“For me?”

Ivan nodded. Cautiously, like he was expecting some kind of trick, Adrien got up from his sulking couch and approached Ivan, who was holding out something white and lacy…that looked distinctively like—

“Oh,” Adrien said softly, after a quick glance of the contents in the envelope confirmed that this was exactly what he thought it was. “I…thank you, Ivan. I…honestly wasn’t expecting to be invited.”

“I’m so sorry that it’s last minute,” Ivan apologized profusely, rubbing the side of his neck with a cringe. “I would’ve preferred to invite you much earlier, but Myléne was very strict about the guest list…but now that Alix won’t be able to make it…”

Adrien frowned at that. The leader of Akumatized Victims Anonymous was lying invalid in a hospital bed, while he, Chat Noir, their sworn enemy, was invited to a happy occasion in her place. It seemed wrong, somehow…

Ivan, ever adept at reading Adrien’s emotions, gave him an assuring smile.

“You’re not obligated to come, of course,” he made sure to let Adrien know. “I realize that I’m inviting you literally at the last minute, since the wedding is on Saturday, so if you have other plans—”

“Oh no, I’m available,” Adrien confirmed, lowering the invitation and giving Ivan a grimace. “I…just don’t know if I’ll be in the right mental state to help you and Myléne celebrate your love for each other…”

Again, Ivan frowned in concern.

“You’re under no obligation to come,” he reminded Adrien once more, folding his large hands on top of his desk. “And if you need a day or two to decide, that’s fine. It’s entirely up to you, Adrien.”

Adrien smiled faintly, appreciative of this.

“Thanks, Ivan. I’ll RSVP as soon as I decide.”

Adrien left Ivan’s office and got into his car, staring down at the lacy envelope in his possession. Any other time, he would be thrilled at the chance of being able to see one of his good friends exchange vows with his loved one up close. But at the moment, with his own love life in shambles…would he really be able to be happy for people whose relationship seemed so solid and uncomplicated…?

He felt Plagg’s eyes on him, but ignored him, knowing it was only a matter of time before his kwami said something snarky…

Sure enough, Plagg intruded upon his vision just a second later, giving him his famous deadpan stare.

“Not everything is about you, Adrien,” he drawled in that annoying ‘I know best’ voice he was so skilled at. “I know for a fact that you’re not doing anything Saturday, and if you weren’t too busy pouting right now, you’d jump at the chance of going to a wedding. Are you seriously going to let your personal problems keep you from being happy for your friend? A friend who has done a significant amount for your mental state, I might add?”

…He had a point, of course. Damn it.

“…You know there probably won’t be piles of camembert at the reception,” Adrien said shrewdly, his suspicions confirmed when Plagg’s face fell before he could get himself together, his kitty nose in the air.

“Not everything is about camembert either,” he stated sagely, ignoring the obligatory disbelieving look Adrien gave him as he settled into the passenger seat of Adrien’s car. “All I’m saying is that it was nice of Ivan to invite you to his wedding, even at the last minute. The least you could do is show your face and offer your congratulations to the happy couple. I think we all could use some cheer, after this giant mess Shade has dragged us all into.”

…Huh. Plagg must be really worried about him if he was pushing him to go to a party—a wedding of all things—where Plagg would have to remain silent and still in his pocket for the majority of the night. Sometimes it was a chore, to decode Plagg’s meaning from his harsh-sounding words…but then again, Adrien had learned a lot about the language of Plagg over the years, to the point where he was damn near fluent. And if even Plaggthought it would be a good idea for him to go…

Marinette might be there,’ a tiny, worrying voice in the back of his head whispered. Adrien sighed at that.

Well…if she could be adult about seeing him at Ivan and Myléne’s wedding, then surely he could do the same, couldn’t he…?

…Or he would just escape at his first possible chance to avoid seeing her all night at an event where love was meant to be celebrated…

Adrien shook his head. Plagg was right—this was not about him, and his hurt feelings regarding Marinette…his team leader…and ex-girlfriend. This was about Ivan and Myléne, and celebrating their declarations of love for each other. Adrien could do this. He could totally do this.

Tugging out his phone, he sent a quick text to Ivan’s private number:

Adrien: Thought about it. I’ll be there on Saturday to offer my official congratulations.

Adrien: By the way…what’s the word on the bachelor party?

Ivan: Uh.

Ivan: As far as I know, Nathanael’s been a bit too busy to plan anything like that…

Adrien: …So you’re saying the privilege is up for grabs? :D

Ivan: Oh.

Ivan: Uh.

Ivan: If you want to, I guess…?

Adrien: So you’re saying I have free reign in regards to this impromptu bachelor party? >:3

Ivan: …

Ivan: I know that’s meant to be a cute emoji…

Ivan: But to be honest, I’m kind of terrified right now.

Adrien: Don’t worry, Ivan—I’ll make sure you’re at the altar on Saturday…one way or another.

Adrien: >:3c

Ivan: Oh dear.


The waves crashed onto the shore as the sun arced lazily through the sky to begin setting for the evening, a light spring breeze reducing the heat and making the sunbeams pleasant. The arch sat dutifully in its place, lilies and roses interwoven in the structure, with a length of red carpet leading up to it, white folding chairs set up on either sides of it.

It was a lovely day for a beach wedding, and Marinette could find nothing out of place about such beautiful scenery…except for one thing: him.

He was not supposed to be here. Yet here he was.

It wasn’t fair—Marinette had sent in her RSVP months in advance for this wedding, as well as booked a room at the NH Marseille Palm Beach hotel, where the reception would be held, since she knew she wouldn’t want to drive all the way back to her apartment after the celebration. She had bought her bluebell dress—the one Alya said complimented her eyes—and matching shoes back in December, had made the necessary alterations to it a month in advance, and she and Alya had decided to make a day of it, going to a beauty salon to get their hair, nails, and make-up done just for the occasion.

So why on earth was Adrien Agreste here, when he couldn’t have had more than a week to prepare, looking so drop-dead gorgeous that Marinette was taking it as a personal offense?

“Ivan apparently invited him Wednesday,” Alya informed her as they watched Nino give his greetings to his best friend, who was standing on the opposite end of the beach and speaking with Ivan and Nathanael, apparently ignoring Marinette the way she wished she could ignore him. “Nino said he told him it was a last-minute thing…since Alix couldn’t be here…”

Marinette sighed at the thought of Alix. It really wasn’t fair. She should be here, too…

“Is Kim okay?” She wanted to check, distracting herself from her own heartache to focus on the well-being of someone else. Alya shrugged, her lips twisting.

“I dunno. I haven’t seen him here yet—oh wait, there he is with Max over there.”

Alya nodded to the right of them, and Marinette turned to watch Max and Kim make their way onto the beach, dressed nice and hand in hand. Kim still looked a little rough to Marinette’s eyes; as she watched, he heaved a large sigh, kicking a large sand dune with his foot. Max pulled him to a stop, and appeared to mutter something to him. Kim made a face, but then gave a nod…and to Marinette’s great surprise, he turned red when Max planted a kiss to his cheek.

“Wh—” She whirled to gape at Alya in shock. “Kim and Max are together?! But I thought—what about Alix?”

“Oh,” Alya said, grinning at the look on Marinette’s face. “I forgot you didn’t know: those three are a thing.

Marinette felt her eyes go wide.

“Th—the three of them? They’re…together?

“Yep.” Alya snorted. “Remember all those jokes they made back in lycée about having a threesome? Yeah, those stopped being jokes when they got to university.”

“Oh,” Marinette mumbled, feeling her face grow hot. “Oh…well, um…”

“You don’t have to understand it,” Alya assured her with a pat to her shoulder. “Just know that they’re happy.” She frowned briefly, her plucked eyebrows furrowing. “Well, happy as they can be, given the situation…”

Marinette instinctively bit her lip as she glanced over at Kim and Max again, remembering her lipstick a moment later, but it didn’t stop the concerned gaze she shot at the two men as they slowly made their way to the seating area for the wedding. Even though they walked closely together—and it might have just been Marinette’s imagination, but—it seemed like there was still a gap of sorts between them. A gap where Alix should be.

Alya squeezed Marinette’s shoulder, and Marinette turned to see the understanding smile on her best friend’s face.

“Smile, hun,” she reminded her. “Today’s supposed to be a happy occasion, remember?”

“I know, I know,” Marinette sighed. “It’s just terrible that Alix couldn’t be here. You know she was supposed to be Ivan’s best man.”

“I know,” Alya replied, nodding grimly. “I was actually looking forward to seeing her and Juleka walking down the aisle together. They would’ve looked so cute.”

 Said maid of honor emerged from the bridal tent nearby at that moment, shielding her eyes from the bright sun as she strolled out arm in arm with a pixie-like blonde woman with baby blue eyes and a sunny smile.

“Well, she and Nathanael will look cute together too, I guess,” Alya reckoned, hazel eyes speculative as they traveled over to the red-haired man standing in the group of men talking near the arch. “Myléne wanted a small bridal party, so she and Rose are the only bridesmaids.”

Again, though she didn’t want them to, Marinette’s eyes turned towards where Adrien stood in that group, scowling at the white dress shirt and dark gray vest he wore with the sleeves rolled up, hands stuffed into the pockets of the slacks matching his vest, and his tie matching his eyes. His blonde hair was windswept; he kept reaching up to adjust it, but it was frankly a lost cause when the wind kept playfully tossing it. He made a face as he ran his hand through it again, and Nathanael, who was dressed similarly to Adrien, Marinette couldn’t help but note, laughed at him as Nino cringed sympathetically.

Marinette scowled. It was weird to see her two exes being so friendly with each other—though she and Nathanael had been together for much longer than her and Adrien, she bore no ill will towards him. But looking at Adrien, Marinette could feel a tempest begin to build within herself, even though they hadn’t been together longer than two months.

It was not fair—he looked perfectly fine over there, totally content. And it burned Marinette up. Why should she be the only one still hurting over him, when he looked like he was just fine without her?

Though he wasn’t facing in Marinette’s direction—Marinette could only glare at his profile—quite suddenly, he looked over, directly at her. Marinette jolted, not expecting to suddenly meet his eyes. She felt herself turn red and swiftly looked away, attempting to look like it had been mere coincidence that she had met his gaze…but judging from the pitying look on Alya’s face, she could guess that she wasn’t quite succeeding.

“So, since there are only two groomsmen and bridesmaids each,” Marinette began in a determined voice, staring resolutely at Alya, despite the fact that she could still feel his eyes on her. “I’m guessing Ivan’s other groomsman is…?”

Alya cringed.

“Yeah…Nino mentioned that was a last-minute thing, too,” she admitted. Marinette huffed.

“Why him?” She asked of no one in particular, almost moving to pinch the bridge of her nose—but Alya caught her hand, and Marinette remembered her make-up. Nice save, Alya. “There wasn’t anybody else Ivan could ask?”

“I dunno, girl,” Alya readily admitted with a shrug, the straps of her lilac dress jostled by the movement and slipping off her shoulders. As she rolled her eyes to herself and readjusted them, she added, “The way Nino tells it, Ivan and Adrien have gotten pretty close…I guess it’s because of all those Wednesday mornings they’re locked in a room together for an hour…”

Marinette, though she wanted to be sour, felt her attitude lessening at the constant mention of Nino.

“I’m glad you two patched things up,” she admitted, circling Alya to help her fix her sleeves, the culprit being the tiny hook that had come undone at the back of her dress. See, these little hooks were a poor design choice, in Marinette’s opinion, for they were huge nuisances when they came undone. In front of her, Alya let out a breath.

“Yeah, me too,” she admitted quietly, her voice thoughtful. “I don’t know if we would’ve survived a second break-up, to be honest…” She paused, and then turned her head to look at Marinette, chagrin in her eyes. “Oh, but we don’t have to talk about that—”

Marinette laughed without humor, fixing the hook before she circled back around to face Alya.

“Don’t apologize for being happy,” she told her best friend firmly, glancing over her shoulder at Nino now. “I’m glad you and Nino are still together.”

It was Nino’s turn to glance at Marinette now, as if he felt her staring. She offered him a hesitant smile, and though he couldn’t quite return it, the acknowledging nod was a relief. Honestly, Marinette wasn’t surprised at all—though it didn’t seem like she had actually done any lasting damage to his and Adrien’s friendship by forcing them to reveal themselves five days ago, he couldn’t be happy with her right now. If anyone, Nino was someone she owed an apology to…

Withholding her sigh—and avoiding Alya’s searching gaze—Marinette glanced down at her watch. Five more minutes to go.

“We’d better sit down,” she noted, jerking her head at the quickly filling chairs. “It’s almost time for the wedding to start.”

“Hold on,” Alya stalled her, taking her arm as Marinette began to walk away. “Marinette, are you sure you’re okay?”

The concern in Alya’s gaze as Marinette turned back to look at her was so profound that it threw Marinette off, and she answered honestly instead of delivering the diplomatic half-truths she’d been spouting for the past week or so.

“Not really.” She bit her lip. “But…today isn’t really about me, you know? I mean…” She sighed, displacing a dark strand of her hair from the lace braid that crossed the front of her hair, ending in a low bun just behind her right ear, a bunch of hydrangeas laced artfully through the bun. Again, Alya took her hand, as if afraid that Marinette would undo her careful up-do in a fit of passion…an assumption that was probably fair, considering how Marinette was feeling. After giving her best friend a grateful look, Marinette finished her thought.

“…I definitely didn’t think I’d have to see him here…but I can ignore him.” Doubt flickered across Alya’s face, though she tried to pass it off as loose strands of her hair tickling her face as the wind tossed them, and Marinette scowled. “I will ignore him. Today is about Myléne and Ivan, and their wedding.”

Alya inspected Marinette for a moment. She straightened her shoulders and set her face into a determined expression, willing Alya to believe her conviction…

This made Alya smile.

“Your brave face is good, hun,” she admitted, moving her hands to Marinette’s shoulders and giving them a squeeze. “It would probably even fool me…if I didn’t know you better than that.”

Marinette let out a huff.

“Can’t you just pretend to be fooled for once?” She whined. Alya smothered a laugh, bringing Marinette in for a hug.

“As your best friend, Mari, it is my duty to lie for you, not to you,” she corrected, drawing back and flipping half the hair that wasn’t pinned and piled atop her head out of her face. “I don’t know what happened…but I can still tell you’re hurting.” Alya’s pretty features were once again marred by her frown of concern. “As much as I want to help you…I think maybe you should talk out whatever happened between you two with Adrien.”

“But I don’t want to talk to him,” Marinette insisted stubbornly, hating the petulant note that escaped into her tone, and further embarrassed by it when Alya picked up on it, if her raised eyebrow was any indication. “He said something so hurtful to me that I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him!”

“So this is his fault?” Alya wanted to confirm, and Marinette opened her mouth to insist that yes, this was absolutely his fault, him with his stubborn insistence that she blindly trust him, despite knowing that he had burned her in that regard before, and the accusation that she had murdered his father in cold blood when he knew damn well it was an accident and she had apologized more than once for it—

The agony she had seen in Adrien’s eyes that night flashed through Marinette’s mind, the heartbreak in him clear when he came to the conclusion that she didn’t trust him, and abruptly, her assertions dried up in her throat.

That fight between them had been volatile, the result of a dangerous and emotionally chaotic night mixed with all the things they weren’t saying and should have said to each other a long time ago. Though she was loathe to admit it, Marinette kept going over that night in her mind, late at night when she should have been sleeping, tears trailing down her face as she tried to figure out what she should have said differently, what she could’ve done to fix it, before everything had been torn apart, shattered at their feet.

Above all, the question that haunted her most was whether or not she was even justified in her anger. Had she been wrong to fire back at Adrien the way she had? Had it been wrong of her to admit she still had her reservations about him, despite observing, with her own eyes, how hard he had been working to change, to right his wrongs?

Despite saying that she trusted him, despite asserting that she had forgiven him…had she actually been keeping Chat Noir—been keeping Adrien—at arm’s length to protect herself, to avoid the pain that came with the fall of losing control…losing him…?

There were no answers, only questions. Which was why it was so much easier for her to just stay angry, to cling to her resentment, reminding herself that Adrien thought her a murderer. It was so much easier to just find him at fault, instead of letting herself wonder whether or not she had really been in the right…especially when a little voice that grew stronger with each day whispered that Adrien wasn’t without his points, however harshly he might have worded them…

At Marinette’s silence, Alya tilted her head.

“…Well, whether or not you talk to him is up to you, I guess,” she said with a slight shrug, though her face was still pinched in a frown. “It just breaks my heart to see you like this, hun. Especially since I can’t help.”

Despite herself, Marinette snorted.

“You know it’s not actually your job to fix everything that goes wrong in my life,” she pointed out. Alya sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes.

“The hell it ain’t,” she asserted, pulling Marinette into a hug again and patting her back. “No matter what, you’re my Marinette, and if it’s within my power and capabilities to ensure your happiness, then I will do it.”

“I know,” Marinette mumbled, the words muffled because Alya’s bicep was in her face. She wriggled a little, pulling back to give Alya a look that was both amused and exasperated all at the same time. “It’s why Nino and I are afraid you’ll wind up in jail one day.”

Alya winked.

“They’d have to catch me first.”

The scary part was that Marinette believed that Alya’s confidence was totally warranted.

Still, it was flattering—Marinette probably could not ask for a better friend, so even if she and Adrien ended up being at odds about this fight forever…well, she would be too busy trying to talk her best friend out of murder to be too depressed.

“Come on,” Marinette urged again when music began to play from the band that was set up nearby. Gathering their skirts into their hands for better mobility, she and Alya hastily made their way to the seating area, quickly sliding into the seats Nino had graciously saved for them. As they got situated, Marinette managed to catch Ivan’s eye, and she grinned at him. He smiled back, and Marinette giggled a little at the way he fidgeted, adjusting his suit jacket as he breathed deeply. He looked so nervous, it was so endearing, and Marinette quite forgot about the approach of the rest of the bridal party until they were passing by.

Alya was right—Juleka and Nathanael did look good together, for they were the same height and complexion, so they complimented each other well. The same went for Adrien and Rose, though Marinette could not stand to admit it—two blondes with sunny smiles, looking more like runway models than anyone had a right to. Marinette checked her impulse to stick her foot out into the aisle to trip Adrien up as he passed her, recognizing that it would be unbelievably petty, and reminding herself that today was not about her, but about Ivan and Myléne. She could do this…she could behave long enough to be happy for her two friends…

As Adrien and Rose took their places, the crowd rose and turned to the back. Marinette could feel herself grinning wide as she spotted Myléne clutching her father’s arm, all decked out in her white, lacy dress, sleeveless with a sweeatheart neckline and a skirt that blossomed around her, as if she was being birthed from a white rose, her blonde hair curled and pinned up, a lace veil trailing from it. Her face was bright red, but it appeared that she was flushed with happiness, for as soon as she set eyes upon Ivan, her entire face lit up with her smile, and she positively glowedas she floated past, all her attention absorbed by her future husband. Marinette felt Alya sigh beside her, and she agreed, clutching at her purse. Her make-up was waterproof today (for more reasons than one), but just in case, she had a couple packs of tissues stuffed into her purse along with Tikki. It seemed it had been a smart move, for as Fred joined his daughter’s hand with his future son-in-law’s and stepped to the side, literally bowing out of the way, Marinette felt herself choke up. Oh boy, this was going to be an emotionally trying time…

“Before we begin,” began the officiant as he stood before the happy couple, looking more serious than the situation warranted, in Marinette’s opinion. “The bride and the groom have asked me to recognize a dear friend who could not be here. Let be known that Alix Kubdel is in our thoughts today, and that she is with us in spirit.”

Marinette frowned a little. While the sentiment was felt, it was a little too grim for her. After all, it wasn’t like Alix was dead. She’d wake up one day…she had to…

After a moment of silence, the officiant began the ceremony. He had the sort of droning voice that Marinette hated in a college professor, because it made her zone out immediately, and her mind wandered to focus on other things—the way Nino’s fingers laced with Alya’s next to her…the warmth of the sun on her face…the sound of the ocean pitching forward and pulling back, the repeated rocking relaxing to listen to…the sight of piercing green eyes—

Marinette jolted, realizing that Adrien was staring at her. He dropped his gaze when he seemed to notice her looking, only to glance back at her again a moment later, red coloring his cheeks. Marinette looked resolutely away, at Myléne and Ivan, focusing on the way they held hands and gazed at each other to distract herself, her face hotter than she would have liked it to be.

What the hell was he staring at her for? What did he want? To fluster her?

If that was his endgame, Marinette was loathe to admit that it was working. She risked another glance in his direction, finding him watching her from his peripheral vision. She scowled. What was he doing?

Alya nudged her.

“What’s with you?” She muttered, raising an eyebrow at Marinette. She shook her head in response, refusing to even dignify the situation with an answer. Besides, how juvenile would it sound, complaining to her best friend that her ex-boyfriend wouldn’t stop staring at her? No, Marinette would rather suffer in silence on this one.

Besides, for the hundredth time, today was not about her—it was about Ivan and Myléne, the latter of which was about to start her vows.

Gratefully accepting what looked like notecards from Rose, Myléne turned back to her groom, carefully clearing her throat as she smiled up at him.

“Ivan,” she began, softly at first, but her voice growing with confidence with every word, “when I picture my plan for my life, there isn’t any part of it that doesn’t have you in it. It’s been that way since we were fourteen, both so shy and clueless about love, and yet, somehow, we still found our way to each other…with a little help.”

A chuckle rippled through the crowd, and Ivan sheepishly scratched his cheek. It took Marinette a moment to realize what they were driving at, but as Myléne swept her veil back over her shoulder, she saw what she had missed earlier—that old Ladybug pin, fixed upon one of the straps of Myléne’s wedding dress, as if not even her wedding day could stop her from wearing it. Marinette felt her throat close up for an entirely different reason than she expected.

“I don’t regret anything about that day,” Myléne went on, her amber eyes firm as she gazed up at her groom. “I know it wasn’t what you had in mind, and it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting either…but that was the day you first bared your heart to me, Ivan. It was the first time I was able to truly understand you as a person…and it was how I knew that I wanted to be with you.”

Ivan flushed red, and a coo went through the crowd at the sight. Marinette heard Alya sniffling next to her, and without looking, she reached into her purse and fished out a tissue packet, which she handed to her. Alya muttered her thanks, and Marinette glanced over briefly, her heart warming and aching when she saw her best friend wrapped in Nino’s arms, hiding her face as she discreetly wiped her tears, Nino smiling as he ran his hand up and down her arm in comfort. They were so cute, it was almost unfair.

The sound of applause was abrupt; Marinette realized that she had missed the end of Myléne’s vows when she witnessed the bride slide a wedding band onto Ivan’s finger. Resolving to pay better attention this time, Marinette focused her gaze on Ivan next, a slight ache going through her as she watched Adrien hand Ivan his vows.

“Myléne,” Ivan began, and Marinette smiled as his face began to turn red again. He cleared his throat, and though she could see that his hands shook just a little, he powered through anyway. “I admit that I’m one of those few people who is surprised that we’ve made it this far, not because I didn’t dare to dream it, but because I’m so overwhelmed by the fact that you, wonderful, amazing you…are happy with being with me for the rest of your life.”

Myléne pouted, and Ivan chuckled at her expression.

“I don’t mean to put myself down,” he assured her with a smile that melted the discontent right off Myléne’s face. “I don’t mean to say that you are so far above me that I shouldn’t have been able to reach you. I mean that I feel, so much, that you deserve the world that it leaves me breathless to know that you believe so firmly that I can give you the world, and more. Your positivity—your faith and trust in me—means more than I could ever properly express to you. I love you so much.”

She didn’t mean to do it. Marinette was committed to watching this loving moment between her two good friends, but almost as if she couldn’t help it, as if her body was put out with her stubborn mind, her gaze shifted to the last-minute groomsman.

Adrien was already staring at her. Marinette wished he wouldn’t; it was almost like he was picking a fight, challenging her to look away from him, from the hurt buried in his eyes, or the way his cheeks reddened as he stared at her, as if her gaze was still enthralling to him, despite the abuse they had hurled at one another, the pain they had caused each other—

“As perfect as this day might be, though, I know it won’t always be sunshine and smooth sailing,” Ivan continued, completely oblivious to the staring match that was going on between one of his guests and one of his groomsmen. “Things will get tough—there will be days when we argue, days where we won’t like each other very much. Though I don’t look forward to them, I know they’ll happen. But at the same time, I know that’s okay, too, because, no matter what happens, no matter how tough things get…”

Because Marinette refused to lose the staring match this time, she noticed immediately when Adrien’s lips began to move.

“…I will always find my way back to you,” Ivan said as Adrien’s lips formed the words, verbatim, “back to us.”

Marinette stared at him.

That…that wasn’t fair. He couldn’t do that, use her words against her like that. It was completely unfair! What was he trying to do, break her?

Something soft pressed itself to the edge of Marinette’s eye, and she startled, but it was only Alya, dabbing at the tears that had gathered in Marinette’s eyes without her noticing. Unable to do more than nod her gratitude, Marinette hurriedly snatched the tissue and buried her face in it, shame heating her cheeks as tears began to pour from her eyes, uncontrollable. As applause erupted around her, and the officiator pronounced Ivan and Myléne man and wife, it was all Marinette could do to keep herself together until they passed by, laughing amidst cheers from their friends and family. Hastily apologizing, Marinette climbed over Alya, Nino, and all the other guests sitting in that row before the rest of the bridal party could follow after the bride and groom, fleeing to the bathroom situated just off the shore.

The solitude and coolness of the bathroom did nothing to comfort her. As Marinette bent over a sink, she shuddered, gasping for air, feeling as if she might be sick.

That was a dirty trick. She was certain Adrien had tricked Ivan into adding those words into his vows. Even if that was how he really felt about Myléne, even if Ivan didn’t know any better, those were Marinette’s words—Ladybug’s words, spoken to her prodigal partner when…when…

Marinette let out a sob, tears falling into the basin of the sink.

It wasn’t fair. He had said such cruel, hurtful things to her just a few days ago, and yet here he was today, staring at her, mouthing words of devotion to her, looking like…

Like he still loved her.

The bathroom door opened behind her.

“Marinette?” Alya’s voice echoed off the walls, the sharp sound of her heels stepping across the damp floor reaching Marinette over her crying. “Are you okay?”

“…No,” Marinette moaned now, completely miserable. “I’m not okay.”

“Oh, hun,” Alya sighed, her hands rubbing circles into Marinette’s back. “I was afraid of this…guess I really do have to kick Adrien’s ass—”

“No,” Marinette protested weakly, whirling around to stare tearfully at her bewildered best friend. “D-don’t. Please…”

“…But he’s making you cry,” Alya pointed out slowly, clutching Marinette’s shoulders as Marinette continued to weep into her hands. “You’re hurting because of him.”

“I know,” Marinette wept, feeling her heart somehow breaking all over again, even as it already beat in separate, disjointed pieces in her chest. “I know…but…”

Marinette grit her teeth, but the words could not be held back anymore, and they burst from her just as a new wave of tears cascaded from her eyes:

“…But I love him, Alya…”

Alya apparently had nothing to say to that. As Marinette cried, she felt the arms of her best friend circle her, as if that would be enough to un-break Marinette’s heart. Still, it was comfort Marinette could not provide herself, and so she clung to Alya, sniffling as she tried to get herself under control, her inner seamstress worried about staining Alya’s lilac dress with her tears, despite the fact that she had bigger problems to worry about.

So, the truth was out: despite the fact that Adrien had called her a murderer, despite the fact that he had yet to apologize for the words he may or may not have meant…Marinette was still in love with him. And it hurt, her own heart betraying her, apparently as stubborn as her head. They clashed hotly against one another, neither willing to concede to the other, tearing Marinette apart from the inside. And she just couldn’t do it anymore. There was no way she could go on like this.

So…what could she do? How could she decide on her course of action when she was being forcibly pulled in opposite directions?

Which could she smother without too much damage? What could she survive taking a hit?

Her pride?

Or her happiness…?



“How is she?”

Alya sighed as she slipped into Ballroom A, tugging the pins out of her hair that held half of it up, shaking it out and finger-combing through the thick locks, with mild difficulty.

“She’s fixing her make-up. Apparently, even waterproof mascara has a limit,” she informed her fiancé, slipping the pins into a pocket of her dress—a dress with pockets, bless Marinette. Alya carefully slipped a finger into her other pocket, the playful nip she received assuring her that Trixx was still there, and hadn’t flown off to get into mischief somewhere. Good.

“I’m surprised you left her side,” Nino admitted. Alya made a face, her hand going to her hip.

“I only left her alone in her room because she said she wanted some privacy. She said she’d come here for a bit to congratulate Ivan and Myléne, but I think she’s going to turn in early.”

Nino shook his head, handing her a flute glass full of champagne, which Alya accepted gratefully.

“Kind of a downer wedding,” he muttered so only Alya could hear. After swallowing a decent amount of champagne, Alya glanced over to where people were milling about, crowding the happy couple. Myléne and Ivan’s faces were glowing with happiness as they chatted with friends and family over the DJ’s music, keeping one arm around each other at all times. This made Alya smile a little.

“For us, anyway.” She shook her head and regarded Nino with a stern look. “We will be enforcing a strict ‘no drama’ policy at our wedding.”

This made Nino snort.

“That’s not exactly something you can control, babe.”

“The hell I can’t,” Alya disagreed, downing the rest of her champagne in one gulp. “Give my mama a sniper rifle, and we’re good.”

“God, it’s hereditary,” Nino mumbled, raising his hands in surrender when Alya glared at him.

“You knew what you were getting into when you proposed to me, Lahiffe.”

“Yeah, well…technically, I didn’t propose, since you found the ring by accident—”

“Hush,” Alya shushed him, pressing her fingertips to his lips to halt the technicality talk. Besides, he knew that was a lie, since the next morning, he had made her take the ring off so he could actually propose properly, despite the fact that they were both in their underwear…but Alya digressed.

“Ah-ha,” she said softly, sweeping the ballroom quickly with her eyes and spotting a certain blonde ex-model alone at a table in the corner of the room, slumped in his seat and looking very much like he was sulking. “Nino, hold my glass.”

“Whoa,” Nino halted her, catching her arm with his free hand before she could leave. “Lay off him, Alya. I know ‘Nette’s your best friend, but Adrien’s going through a hard time, too, you know.”

Alya turned back to Nino, giving him a critical look.

“So why aren’t you over there talking to him, then?” She challenged. A distinctly awkward look crossed Nino’s face, and he let Alya’s arm go to rub the back of his head.

“I…well, we did talk, the night I found out…you know,” he said significantly, wary of laughing guests that passed by.

Indeed, Alya did know: she had almost transformed to go find Nino when it had taken him way too long to come home Monday night. She had been halfway out the window when he had finally stumbled through the front door, drunk and exhausted. It hadn’t been easy to discern just what had occurred after Vixen had left the other heroes to their own devices, but Alya had managed to work through enough of Nino’s slurred speech to put two and two together…and it had been a rather chaotic picture.

“We talked about a lot of stuff, and we’re good, but…um.”

Because she knew him so well, Alya was able to infer what Nino meant through his awkward pauses.

“You want to give him time to process,” she filled in the blank, and Nino nodded in relief.

“Yeah. Like I said, dude’s going through it right now.”

Alya breathed deeply, letting it out in a low whoosh.

“I understand,” she admitted, carefully eyeing Nino. “There have been a few too many surprises lately.”

“Yeah…” Nino met her gaze, his brow furrowing. “Speaking of—”

“Don’t start.”

“—I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me you knew.

“It wasn’t my secret to tell, Nino,” Alya asserted once again, suppressing a roll of her eyes. “I told you this.”

Nino frowned, apparently still unconvinced. Alya tilted her head at him, giving him a dry look.

“You yourself said that you wish Marinette hadn’t pushed you and Adrien into figuring each other out the way you did. Would you really have rather heard the truth from me rather than Adrien himself?”

Nino blinked, his golden eyes growing speculative at this supposition. After a moment of mulling it over, he sighed.

“I guess you’re right,” he conceded to Alya’s point, adjusting his tie—lilac to match Alya’s dress—as he cast a complicated look towards his best friend’s lonely corner. “I wasn’t ready to know back then, anyway.”

“Hmm…I wonder what he would’ve said if you had actually ended up giving him this,” Alya mused, plucking at the chain of her Fox Miraculous, the tail carefully hidden by the neckline of her dress. At the reminder of his mistake, Nino’s face grew ruddy.

“You’re never gonna let that go, are you?” He huffed, and Alya smiled in apology, tugging him down by the lapel of his jacket so she could kiss him.

“I don’t mean to open old wounds, baby,” she promised him after he looked good and punch drunk from her kisses. “I just think it would’ve been a funnier way for him to reveal himself to you than the way it actually happened.”

Nino sighed softly, his arms sliding around Alya.

“Well, we’ll never know now…” He cast another glance towards Adrien’s corner, his brows furrowing once again. “…Maybe I should go over there and talk to him. It’s probably not a good idea for him to be alone—”

“I’ve got it,” Alya insisted, slipping out of Nino’s arms and taking a step or two across the ballroom, towards Adrien’s direction.

“Alya—” Nino called her back again, looking more than a little concerned. Alya huffed, raising her eyebrows at him.

Trust me, Lahiffe,” she insisted, hands on her hips as she stared him down. “I’m not one to kick people when they’re down…unless they deserve it. I’m kidding,” she stressed when Nino took a step in her direction, looking ready to restrain her at a moment’s notice. “I just want to see how he’s doing. He’s my friend too, you know.”

Movement from the corner of her eye caught Alya’s attention; she glanced over to find Marinette sliding into the ballroom, her make-up flawless once again, though her eyes were rimmed red, and her skin was just a little splotchy from all the crying. Alya’s heart went out to her, and as tempted as she was to swoop in and hug Marinette until all the pain went away, her desire to touch base with Adrien won out.

“Can you look out for Marinette for me?” She asked of her fiancé, nodding in Marinette’s direction, though her best friend was looking like she would rather not be noticed. As he glanced over at Marinette, Alya noticed the conflict that crossed Nino’s face. She grimaced. Oh right, he wasn’t exactly happy with Marinette right now… “Or don’t,” she amended with a shrug, though she frowned. “I’ll drop in on her later if she does leave early to make sure she’s doing all right…but I know there’s some things you wanna hash out with her, too, right?”

Nino sighed deeply, rubbing the back of his head again.

“This really is a downer wedding,” he mumbled, apparently oblivious to the cheerful music that played and the happy chatter around them. Even so, Alya smiled when her fiancé turned, moving to Marinette. He was the sweetest.

Turning on her heel, she marched across the room to where Adrien was sulking, her purpose clear. As much as she might like to smack some sense into her two dumb friends, Alya recognized that the time for tough love had passed. After seeing Marinette nearly cry herself out to the point of dehydration, Alya knew that a certain soft touch was required here now…

…So when she stomped up to Adrien, she made sure to fold her arms and scowl menacingly at him, but in the softest way possible.

Adrien glanced up from his full flute glass, blinking as he took notice of her. Alya noticed his face pale.

For a long moment, they just stared at each other…until Adrien’s lips parted, and he spoke.

“…Are you going to kill me?” He asked, so serious that Alya couldn’t keep a straight face, and she burst into laughter.

“Ahahaha!” She laughed, holding her stomach as hilarity overtook her, though it was sort of a morbid thing to laugh about. “Ahahaha…ahhh…no,” she replied, her giggles renewing at the blatant shock that crossed Adrien’s face. “No, I’m not here to hurt you, Adrien. While that might’ve been true if you were just some asshole who broke my best friend’s heart, circumstances are a little different here.”

“…Really?” Adrien asked, eyeing her warily as Alya breathed deeply to recover from her impromptu laughing fit.

“Yeah,” Alya said, sliding into a seat next to Adrien and grinning. “Because you’re an asshole who broke my best friend’s heart and my friend.”

Adrien’s expression went flat.

“Gee, thanks,” he drawled, and Alya laughed a little more, making herself sober up after a minute.

“You gonna drink that?” She wanted to know, nodding towards the untouched flute glass in front of him. Adrien stared down at it, looking like he was contemplating something very difficult…and then he shook his head, sliding the glass towards Alya. Alya accepted it, frowning a little now.

“Damn. You must be in bad shape if you’re not even in the mood to drink,” she noted after a sip of the bubbly beverage. Adrien frowned.

“Champagne sucks,” he replied, and Alya’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline.

You think champagne sucks?” She questioned, eyeing Adrien like he had been replaced with an uncanny imposter the moment she stopped looking. “You?

Adrien gave a half-hearted shrug.

“I’ve been drinking a lot of the stronger stuff, lately,” he confessed.

Alya frowned. Shit, it was worse than she thought.

After another thoughtful sip of her borrowed champagne, Alya decided to start off slow.

“Was nice of you to step up and be one of Ivan’s groomsmen at the last minute,” she said.

Again, Adrien shrugged, as if it didn’t really matter.

“He needed someone. I was just there.” He frowned. “Shouldn’t’ve been me.”

“Why not?”

Adrien huffed, ruffling his blonde hair, making it stick up. Alya pressed her lips together to keep from smiling.

“If Nathanael knew,” Adrien began, staring dejectedly at the table, “or Myléne, or any of them—if they knew who I was, they wouldn’t have wanted me here.”

Oh. Right.

Alya folded her arms, idly twisting the stem of the flute glass in between her thumb and forefinger, watching the liquid inside slosh around as she marshalled her thoughts, frowning slightly.

“About that…” Alya paused, took a moment to swallow the huge pill that was her pride, and sighed. “I’m sorry, Adrien. I know Marinette and I caught you by surprise with that sudden fashion show, and I know it’s probably the reason you and Marinette started having problems in the first place—”

Ha,” Adrien laughed bitterly, startling Alya into silence with the sardonic smile he cast her. “And what do you know about my problems with Marinette, Alya?”

Alya blinked, and frowned. Whoa, he was more pissed than she thought…

“…More than you’d think, actually,” she stated carefully, moving on swiftly when Adrien’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “I admit, I don’t know all the details, but Nino was pretty upset when he finally got back Monday night…”

Adrien frowned at that, casting an anxious glance across the room. Following his line of vision, Alya could see Nino leaning against the wall next to Marinette, looking like they were speaking quietly to each other.

“…Um,” Adrien began, and Alya turned her attention back to him, intrigued by the sudden guilt in his expression. “You and Nino…are you okay?”

Alya blinked at this, tilting her head to the side curiously.

“Yeah?” She answered, mildly confused. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

“I…kind of told him that you knew I’m Chat Noir…” Adrien mumbled, looking ashamed of himself.

…Of all the secrets Alya had been keeping, that was the one Adrien was concerned about? Ha!

Doing her best to suppress her laughter this time, Alya patted Adrien’s shoulder.

“It’s all right. We’ve have words, and we’re good,” she promised with a wink. “Helps that I’m amazing in bed, too.”

Adrien flushed at that, and Alya laughed again.

“Anyway, I didn’t come over here to talk about me and Nino: I wanted to check on you.” Alya set her glass down, tracing the top with her pinky finger, making it sing as she frowned at Adrien. “How’re you holding up? Honestly.”

“…Honestly?” Adrien’s expression grew dry. “I’m on the fast track to becoming an alcoholic. That’s honestly how I’m doing.” He huffed and ruffled his hair again, and this time, it was more Chat-like than messy. “Paris despises me, the villain is someone I thought was all right, and she wants me dead, too, and the cherry on top of this frickin’ suck sundae is that my girlfriend—ex-girlfriend—partner—whatever. The one person I thought I could trust more than anyone doesn’t trust me. And it sucks.

Adrien sighed again, covering his face with his hands.

“I hate this,” he grumbled, the words muffled by his palms. “This is so much not what I expected when I finally got to talk to Marinette about all this—”

He suddenly cut himself off, his hands whipping from his face as he stared at Alya, mouth suddenly open in horror, like he just realized what he was talking about, and to whom. Alya raised an eyebrow at him, trying so hard not to snort, but honestly, he was making things difficult for her…

“Yes?” She prompted, unable to hide her amusement as Adrien flushed red, hurriedly glancing away from her.

“Nothing,” he said in a rush, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “I didn’t say anything—”

“Oh Adrien, please relax, you’re killing me here,” Alya laughed with a slight shake of her head and a smile. “I know, okay? You don’t have to tip-toe around anything with me.”

Adrien blinked; Alya could practically see the gears in his mind working furiously, trying to catch up with this new information…

“…Wait,” he said, leaning forward, eyes intent on Alya’s face, “you know?

“Oh hun,” Alya drawled, leaning her head on her fist as she sympathetically patted Adrien’s shoulder. “I figured out Ladybug and Emerald Shell waybefore I even stumbled across you in that alleyway.”

Adrien’s jaw dropped, the tendons the only things still keeping it anchored to his face. Alya snickered.

“Wha—whe—how did—huh?!” Adrien shook his head in disbelief. “Do—do they know that you know?!”

“Nino does. Marinette doesn’t.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?!”

Alya rolled her eyes. She did not have time for this.

“Maybe because I didn’t know about you until later?” She suggested, raising her eyebrows again. “And maybe because I wasn’t at liberty to tell you, because they weren’t my secrets to tell?” She flipped her hair impatiently. “God, what is it with you and Nino? Why do you both think that just because I know stuff that I should immediately tell you? Would you have been happy to find out from me instead of from the sources themselves?”

“…Maybe,” Adrien replied after a moment, surprising Alya. Her sympathy swelled as he seemed to draw into himself, folding his arms and resting them on the table as he stared at one spot on the tablecloth, his face falling into familiar lines of misery. “I mean…it probably would’ve been better than finding out the way I did…”

Alya let out a breath, scooting closer so she could pat Adrien’s back in comfort.

“I’m sorry, Adrien.”

Adrien let out a humorless snort, sending a wry glance Alya’s way.

“Why should you be sorry?” He asked, smiling bitterly. “If anything, you should be on Marinette’s side. Besides, who the hell am I kidding? Why should I be upset that she doesn’t trust me? After everything I’ve done, why would she?” He laughed again, dislodging Alya’s hand from his back as he leaned back, slouched against the top of his seat as he stared dismally at the ceiling. Despite herself, Alya was impressed over how he still managed to look graceful somehow, despite the clear agony in his expression. Must be the model in him.

“And then I went and accused her of murdering my father in cold blood,” he confessed, and Alya froze at this new piece of information.

“You said what?” She demanded, immediately questioning whether or not she should actually comfort him now.

 What the fuck? How dare he say something like that! It was true, he didn’t know how Marinette’s mistake had tormented her for a couple years after the fact—not even Alya had understood the random melancholy that would overtake her best friend at times, until now—but still, he had no right to throw that in her face like that!

As if he could feel the storm building within Alya, Adrien peered over at her, defeat in his gaze.

“…I thought so,” he muttered, sighing. “I’m not surprised Marinette didn’t tell you that bit. Otherwise, you never would’ve come over here to try and talk to me. I’ll understand if you want to leave now.”

Oh, Alya didn’t want to leave—she wanted to grab the nearest knife and cut Adrien’s tongue out. Ooh, she could kill him for such words!

…But as angry as she was at him for such an insult…

Alya forced herself to take a deep, calming breath, closing her eyes and counting to ten…no, wait, twenty. She needed to count to twenty.

“…Did you mean it?” She asked, once she was done counting to twenty…five, her eyes still closed, almost afraid that looking at Adrien would send her flying into him, tearing him apart with her bare hands. Adrien took a long time to answer, so long that Alya was halfway out of her chair, ready to walk away and let him grieve over the relationship he had apparently torn apart with his own hands.

“No,” Adrien finally replied, in a voice so small that Alya almost missed it in between the cheerful music playing as couples swept across the dancefloor. That single word managed to keep her from storming off, and she let her eyes open, staring hard at Adrien as he sat up, staring at something on his right wrist—a charm bracelet. Marinette’s charm bracelet, if Alya wasn’t mistaken… “Of course I didn’t mean it. Of course not. I was there. I saw what such a terrible mistake did to her, the way it began to change her. Even through my shock, I saw it. And yet, the first thing Marinette—Ladybug—the first thing she said, after we got away from it all…was my name.”

Alya watched, her anger slowly fading, as Adrien touched the charm bracelet with a shaking hand.

“Her first thought was that she had to tell me,” Adrien breathed, and he squeezed his eyes shut, as if to better relive that night with them closed…or maybe he was trying to hold back tears. “She looked so guilty, she knew something terrible had happened. But she still wanted to tell me, on her own, that she was responsible for my father’s death.”

Adrien opened his eyes to glance up at Alya, smiling the most heartbreaking smile Alya had ever seen on him.

“…She was only fourteen years old, then,” he pointed out, as if Alya wasn’t well-aware. “Fourteen, and yet she was ready to accept the responsibility of taking someone else’s life. …How does someone do that? I don’t know if I could’ve, back then. I definitely can’t now.”

Slowly, Alya sank back down into her chair, watching Adrien critically. That look in his eyes…

“You still love her.” It wasn’t a question.

Adrien closed his eyes, his sigh one of defeat.

“I do,” he confirmed. “I’ve been in love with her since I was fourteen years old, and then I fell back in love with her on Christmas. I just…I can’t seem to escape her.” He chuckled helplessly. “I don’t think I even want to anymore.”

Oh, he had it bad. Not that Alya was surprised.

Pursing her lips, she tilted her head to the side, inspecting Adrien for a moment longer, before she asked,

“So why are you telling me all this instead of Marinette?”

All humor left Adrien’s face, and Alya caught a glimpse of how truly miserable Adrien was. It was a little cruel, but seeing him look that way made her feel better about having to witness Marinette cry herself sick over this man.

“She doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore,” he mumbled. Despite her sympathy, Alya rolled her eyes and huffed.

“Oh, and you know this for a fact?” She challenged, leaning over to meet Adrien’s gaze sternly. “Have you called her? Met her for coffee? Had anycontact outside your superhero lives to try and straighten this mess out?”


“Then what the hell do you know?” Alya insisted, shaking her head. “Adrien, you’ve been gone a while, and you don’t know Marinette like I know Marinette, so I’m gonna clue you in on something: she freaks the fuck out before she commits to a decision. I mean, full-on, almost asylum-worthy freak-outs. She’ll call me in the middle of the night, rambling about some mole hill she accidentally made a mountain by agonizing over it by herself in the dark for hours, and depending on the decision, it’ll take her a while to decide on her course of action before she fully commits to a decision.” She let her gaze fall flat as she stared at Adrien. “From what I’ve heard from you, Nino, and Marinette, it sounds like, in the middle of one of her long freak-outs, you forced her hand.”

Adrien stared at Alya for a moment, his brows slowly scrunching together.

“…What are you saying?”

“I’m saying you didn’t give her a chance to completely make up her mind. From what it sounds like, you just assumed something to be true, and then ran with it.”

Adrien didn’t like that—he scowled, and Alya raised her eyebrows.

“Alya, I know you mean well,” he began, sounding like she was testing his patience, “but you weren’t there during the fight, so you don’t know—”

“I don’t have to know,” Alya cut him off firmly. “The fact is that I know Marinette, and I know how she works. So you can bleat all you want, Lover Boy, but I still have seven years of friendship over you. Therefore, when it comes to knowing how Marinette thinks, I outrank you.”

Alya watched, momentarily entertained as Adrien’s jaw worked, like he was trying to find a way around her logic. After a minute or two of his face steadily getting redder and redder, he let out a sharp breath that sounded too much like a hiss for Alya not to laugh.

“Fine,” Adrien conceded grumpily, scowling at Alya as she snickered. “If you’re so much smarter than me, what do you suggest I do about this mess?”

“I am smarter than you,” Alya agreed with a swift grin before she sobered. “But smarter or not…what you do from here is really up to you, Adrien.”

That seemed to throw him for a loop; he stared at her, looking perplexed beyond belief.

“…What?” He eventually asked, after he seemed to get over being struck dumb. “But…didn’t you come over here to make me make up with Marinette?”

At this, Alya snorted.

“Adrien, you’re a grown-ass man,” she pointed out dryly, “I can’t make you do anything. Like I said earlier, I just came to see how you were doing.”

Adrien eyed her, like he was looking for some kind of trick. Alya regarded him dryly, waiting for him to realize that she was completely sincere. Once that finally seemed to register through his thick skull, his eyes rounded, and he blinked.

“…Are you feeling okay?” Was the first thing he thought to ask. Alya considered hitting him…but then thought better of it. He had spent too much of the evening beating himself up already. Besides…it wasn’t like he didn’t have a point…

“Shut up,” she said anyway with a roll of her eyes, picking up her flute glass to finish off her champagne. “As much as it would save so much time for me to mediate your conversations with Marinette from now on…this is a problem only the two of you can work out.” She gave him a serious look over her empty flute glass. “Whether or not you guys get back together has nothing to do with me. But just because you broke up doesn’t necessarily mean you have nothing more to say to each other.”

Adrien’s gaze grew intense, and he leaned forward.

“Did Marinette say—”

“Uh-uh,” Alya denied him immediately, turning and sliding off her chair on the other side so she could stand up. “You’re not getting another word out of me. You wanna know what Marinette thinks? Then talk to Marinette.

“But—she doesn’t—”

“You won’t know whether she does or doesn’t until you talk to her, will you?” Alya reminded him with a quirked brow. “Now, if you wanna sit in this corner and sulk all night, that’s up to you. But if you actually want to try fixing what you two broke, the least you can do is try. Either way, the decision’s up to you, Tiger.”

Adrien frowned, appearing lost in thought. Alya let out a breath, hoping that whatever he was concentrating on so hard would lead him to a healthy decision. Good lord, being the guiding hand of the group was tiring. She needed another drink.

As she reached over to grab her empty glass, however, her wrist was suddenly caught. Blinking in surprise, Alya glanced over, startled by how intense Adrien’s eyes were suddenly upon hers. The hell…?

“What’s your problem?” She wanted to know, tugging against his grip. Unfortunately, his grip was strong; apparently he wasn’t about to let her go, because there was a question burning in his eyes, something he desperately wanted to know…

“Alya,” he began in a low voice, and Alya frowned, leaning over to hear him better, “did you just call me...‘Tiger’?”

Alya blinked. Did she? Hmm, maybe she did. But so what? What was the big deal?

As Alya watched him, Adrien’s gaze darted down, seeming to lock onto something near her neckline. She glanced down, too, and received a jolt—the top end of the pendant of her Fox Miraculous was peeking out of her dress.

“…Alya,” Adrien said again, significance burning in his tone, but Alya sighed and pulled her arm out of his grasp.

“Adrien, sweetie, I so do not have time for this,” she told him as gently as she could, patting his cheek indulgently as she pushed her pendant back into her dress. “I think this conversation can wait—isn’t there someone else you’d rather be talking to at the moment?”

With a cheeky wink to his slack-jawed expression, Alya flounced away, empty glass in hand, ready for a refill. She was done playing therapist for tonight—the only reason she was bothering to do so was because she thought it would be a little unfair for Ivan to have to work on his wedding night. Oh, and she loved those two clueless friends of hers, of course. But now, as far as she was concerned, she and Nino had played their parts, so she was going to have a little more champagne, and then she was going to relieve Marinette of her fiancé and dance with him for a good part of the evening, before taking him upstairs to their hotel room and making sweet, sweet love to him all night.

What Marinette and Adrien did from here on out was in their own hands, now. And Alya dared to be hopeful that they wouldn’t fuck it up this time around.



Marinette swayed slowly from side to side, her body seemingly compelled by the music, but her eyes were far away. Nino assumed she was marveling at the crowd that still surrounded Ivan and Myléne, despite the fact that the people in the front had to have been congratulating them for at least twenty minutes now; she was probably wondering if she even had a chance of breaking through such a barrier. He laughed a little to himself, wondering if maybe they should swap Miraculous, because she appeared to be in need of a shield.

In more ways than one,’ Nino noted as he himself bore witness to the unhappiness in her expression as he drew closer. He leaned against the wall she was helping to hold up, feeling her gaze on him as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. Nino glanced askance at her, a little amused by the surprise in her wide eyes. She must be wondering what he was doing here…

“Hey,” he greeted casually. Marinette paused before offering him a tremulous smile.

“Hi,” she replied. It went quiet for another moment before Nino turned to look her in the face, frowning at the red rimming her eyes. Damn…beautiful as she was, he could still say she looked like hell. Not out loud of course, but…

He glanced away so she wouldn’t feel self-conscious, watching the DJ work instead. Hmm…despite the flashiness of her appearance—rainbow-colored hair and glitter all over her face—she wasn’t half-bad.

“Doing okay?” Nino asked of Marinette, working to keep sounding casual. She wasn’t, clearly, but the question was obligatory, and therefore, unavoidable.

He heard Marinette laugh softly.

“What about you?” She asked. “You look like you’re sour that Ivan and Myléne didn’t ask you to DJ for the reception.”

Nino snorted at this. Yeah, right.

“I just came back from a tour—I’m tired,” he reminded her, wincing slightly as he rolled one of his shoulders, sore from all the heavy burdens he’d been carrying lately. “Besides, they would have had to ask me just when things started getting busy…” He touched his bracelet, frowning a little. “I wouldn’t want to say yes in case I had to back out at the last minute.”

Honestly, he was relieved Myléne and Ivan hadn’t asked Alya to ask him—he would have felt terrible about declining without being able to give them a proper reason…

After a moment, he turned to face Marinette, eyes roving her face.

 “You never answered my question, though,” Nino pointed out, and Marinette cringed. “Are you all right?”


Marinette appeared to size him up, chewing her lip. Nino suppressed a smile, wondering if she would deny the obvious or admit defeat. Knowing her for as long as he had, he knew that one of these things was significantly more likely than the other.

Finally, Marinette let out a sigh and slumped against the wall behind them.

“If I said yes, would you even believe me?”

“Nope,” Nino answered swiftly, unable to help his chuckling when Marinette’s pout grew. Poor thing. While he admired her strength, he truly did, it hurt a part of him to watch her try to be strong all the time: everyone had their limits, after all. Even Ladybug.

“Nino,” Marinette began softly after a moment, eyeing Nino from under her lashes, looking troubled. “Did Alya send you over here?”

Nino gave a half-shrug.

“Well, believe it or not, she gave me a choice,” he said with an exaggerated lift of his eyebrows, which made Marinette giggle. “In the end, I chose to come over here, because it looked like you needed a friend.”

Marinette smiled, but the action was tinged with guilt.

“…Can I still call you that?” She wondered, though it seemed like she was talking more to herself than anything. Now Nino raised both his eyebrows. She wasn’t serious, was she?

“Of course,” he chided her with a shake of his head. “Why would you even ask that?”

“But…you’re mad at me, aren’t you…?”

Nino snorted and rolled his eyes. Oh man, she was serious. Jeez.

“Just because I might not be happy with you right now doesn’t mean we’ve stopped being friends,” Nino told her, his tone quite dry. “If relationships ended every time someone got mad at someone else, either everyone would be bitter and alone, or absolutely no one would fight and internalize everything. Which would just bring up a whole other shitload of problems…hell, Ivan would be too busy for his new wife; everybody’d be booking him left and right because they’d all be fucked up…”

Realizing he had strayed onto a tangent, Nino huffed and rubbed the back of his head, mentally reminding himself to get back on track.

“The point is,” he went on, frowning down at Marinette as he folded his arms across his chest, “what you did Monday night wasn’t cool, and yeah, I’m kind of pissed at you for it. But that doesn’t mean we’re not friends anymore. Come on, ‘Nette.”

Marinette ducked her head, but even from that angle, Nino could see her blush.

“I’m sorry, Nino,” she apologized, her voice strong despite how awkward the situation was for the both of them. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have pushed you and A-Adrien like that. I wanted to think it was because I was done with all the secrets but…” Her voice lowered, and Nino had to stoop to hear her. “…I was just trying to hurt Adrien.”

A corner of Nino’s mouth twisted down. He was afraid of that…

“Well, you didn’t need a pushy reveal to do that, ‘Nette,” he informed her, though he tried to state it as diplomatically as possible. “Dude’s already hurt from your break-up.”

Marinette fell silent, and so Nino watched people glide around on the dancefloor for a while, the air full of love and laughter…at least, for all the civilians in the room, in any case.

“…He’s hurt?” Marinette asked after a long pause, and Nino glanced back down at her, finding her staring up at him anxiously. “Really?”

“…This surprises you?” Nino asked, becoming incredulous. “What, did you think you were the only one upset by it?”

“Well,” Marinette began, her brows furrowing, “he hasn’t really been acting like—”

“Marinette,” Nino cut in, pushing off the wall to fully face her, feeling his frown deepen. “Of course Adrien’s upset. Just because he hasn’t been crying out in the open doesn’t mean he’s not upset. The guy’s been in love with you for forever. How would he not be upset about you two breaking up? Do I really need to be the one to remind you that he has feelings, too?”

Marinette flushed red, folding her arms defensively as she scowled up at him.

“W-well he’s been strutting around all day, acting like everything’s fine!” Marinette burst out, drawing stares from some nearby guests, though she didn’t appear to notice. “Why do have to be the only one obviously affected by him? He even acted like it was fine to use my own words against me! It’s not fair!”

Okay, Nino was officially lost, and officially failing at this whole ‘comforting Marinette’ thing. He’d better figure out how to calm her down, and fast, because if Alya had to come over and mediate, it would be mission failure for him.

“‘Nette, take it easy,” he urged her as politely as he could—he knew both Marinette and Alya hated to be told to calm down, for it implied that they were overreacting, so he always had to do his damnedest to make sure he sounded as respectful of their feelings as possible. As Marinette stood there with her feet apart, fists balled at her side, Nino took her by her shoulders, giving them a squeeze. “I don’t know exactly what happened between you two…but I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Adrien’s just as broken-hearted as you are, if not more.”

Was this breaking the Bro Code? Nino couldn’t be sure, but if it was breaking the Code to be honest about how hurt Adrien was by all this, then it was a dumb rule anyway. Besides, Marinette was his friend too, so the lines were a little blurred here. In any case, some of the tension seemed to leave Marinette, and she took a deep breath, her face settling into sadness once again.

“I—” she stopped, sighed, and tried again. “It’s not like I want him to be sad. I just…I just don’t want him to be ‘fine’.” She frowned, glancing up at Nino. “That makes me a terrible person, doesn’t it?”

“No,” Nino assured her, smiling slightly. “I think I get it. Misery loves its company, and all that.”

“No, I...I would just rather him not act like none of this affects him,” Marinette mumbled, dropping her eyes to her shoes. “I don’t like that I had to rush off to the bathroom right after Myléne and Ivan got married to bawl my eyes out, just because Adrien mouthed some of Ivan’s vows to me, like it was nothing.

Nino blinked at this. Oh…huh. Okay, that explained Marinette’s sudden departure…

Unable to help himself, Nino cast a dry glance over to the corner where Adrien and Alya appeared to be talking. What a sap.

“It’s okay to be upset, ‘Nette,” Nino assured her with another squeeze to her shoulders before he dropped his hands. “You guys just broke up. I think it’s a little unreasonable for you to have to act like you have it all together right now.”

Again, Marinette pouted, as if she didn’t appreciate being accused of not having it all together. Nino almost laughed, but he thought better of it, deciding that wounding Marinette’s substantial pride with a laugh was not a smart move.

“You don’t have to stay down here if you don’t want to,” he reminded her, turning to glance at the mob that still surrounded the happy couple. “I’m sure the newlyweds’ll understand if you just wanna send them a card or something later.”

“…I know,” Marinette replied, and Nino watched her curiously as she shifted from foot to foot, her eyes darting around the room. “I just…”

She trailed off without completing her thought, but the way her eyes scanned the room made Nino mighty suspicious…

“…Are you looking for Adrien?” He guessed. Marinette jumped, her huge eyes staring at him, as if he had plucked the answer right from her brain.

This time Nino did laugh, because he couldn’t help it. Did she honestly think she was so sly? Oh boy, Alya was right—their two friends were hopeless.

“He’s over there,” he informed her, chuckling as he jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, towards Adrien’s corner. Marinette leaned around him, stumbling a little at the odd angle, but managing to catch herself at the last minute. Once she seemed to spot him, Nino was further amused by the look of relief that momentarily crossed her face…but then confused when she promptly resumed her position against the wall. He blinked at her. “…What’re you doing?”


“Then why were you looking for Adrien?”

Marinette shrugged, looking across the ballroom as if she wanted to appear aloof, confusing the hell out of Nino. “Just good to know where he is.” She glanced over at him as he stared at her, flushing a little. “What? I didn’t say I was gonna go over there or anything…”

“Wha—” Nino paused, inspecting the thin thread of tension laced through Marinette’s expression. Slowly, an idea began to form—a theory of sorts. It was a ridiculous theory, because Marinette was too grown for such behavior…but… “…Are you hoping Adrien will see you over here…and come to you?

Marinette said nothing…but going scarlet in the face was telling enough.

Nino gaped at her.

Marinette,” he said, scandalized. Marinette huffed and stomped her foot, though Nino noticed that she distinctly refused to meet her eyes.

“What? What’s wrong with wanting him to approach me?”

Oh god, she did not just ask him that…

“If you want to talk to him so badly, why don’t you go over there?

“Maybe I don’t want to.”

“You so obviously do.”

“No I don’t!”

“Why not?”

“Because!” Marinette insisted, as if that settled the matter. Nino promptly employed one of Alya’s tactics when dealing with a stubborn Marinette, and just stared at her until she seemed to grow self-conscious enough to finally spit out the truth: “I don’t want to make the first move, okay?”

She didn’t want to make the first move? Really?

Nino sighed and rubbed the back of his head. He knew Alya was the Mom Friend of the group, but he didn’t really like how his position of Chill Uncle Friend had evolved into Dad Friend overnight…but nevertheless…

“Marinette,” Nino began, folding his arms as he gave her a serious look, “do you want to work things out with Adrien?”

“Maybe…?” More staring until Marinette gave in. “Okay, fine: yes, all right? I know we…things didn’t end well. But I still…”

“Then go over there,” Nino insisted with a sigh. Good lord, these two…he sympathized with Alya more and more each day.


“What?” Nino challenged, throwing his eyebrows up. “You don’t want to make the first move? Why the hell not?

“I…” Marinette shifted uncomfortably under Nino’s gaze, biting her lip. Nino waited, wanting to know what was so damn bad about Marinette daring to approach Adrien first.

After Nino had counted about ninety-three seconds in his head, Marinette finally gave him an answer that actually made sense.

“…I don’t like being so vulnerable…” she admitted, mumbling and flushing red as soon as the words were out, as if she had to sacrifice a huge chunk of her pride just to admit it out loud.



The picture was starting to clear at last…

Marinette must have taken Nino’s speculative silence negatively, for she sighed and dropped her gaze again, glancing up at him as she chewed on her lip.

“…That makes me sound like a brat, doesn’t it?” She asked with a cringe.

“A little,” Nino admitted, smiling in apology when Marinette’s face fell; he patted her shoulder again. “But if you account for all the times you were vulnerable with Adri—Chat, and it came back to bite you…I can see where you’re coming from.”

The relief on Marinette’s face was so profound that Nino felt a little bad about chasing it away with his next words:

“But I still think you should go talk to him.”


“I’m not gonna make you or anything,” Nino assured her, raising his hands to show he meant no harm. “I’m just saying, it’s a good idea. Especially since I don’t think he’ll be the one to approach you this time. Dude probably thinks you want nothing more to do with him, after the way you rushed out of the wedding.”

This apparently hadn’t occurred to Marinette; the surprise that flashed across her face at this conclusion was so genuine that Nino found himself pitying her…though he didn’t dare admit it out loud.

“Nothing’s going to change if neither of you do anything to change it,” he said, tilting his head to the side as he inspected the way Marinette’s teeth worried her bottom lip, the fear and doubt in her eyes… “And if neither of you are willing to make the first move…then what will you do, Marinette?”

Marinette looked up at him, her blue eyes wide. It was almost as if he had asked her to move the world, with the way she was looking at him…but Nino supposed he understood. After all, both she and Adrien were impossibly stubborn in their own right, so maybe they both were tired of always trying to bear their heart to the other, only to get torn to shreds with a thoughtless word or action.

But they couldn’t let that fear rule them forever, could they…?

There was a tap to Nino’s shoulder, and he turned, finding his fiancée there.

“‘Scuse me,” she said playfully, sliding an arm around Nino’s waist, her free hand occupied with a champagne glass as she winked at Marinette. “Hun, would you mind terribly if I stole my husband for the rest of the night?”

“Oh…no, not at all,” Marinette replied with a slight smile. “You two enjoy the reception. And, um, give Ivan and Myléne my congratulations, if you can.”

“Will do,” Alya promised, steering Nino away, onto the dance floor. It appeared to take her a moment to realize that he was staring at her; she raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

“…You called me your husband,” Nino said, not quite sure what to do with this information. Alya smirked at this, sipping at her champagne.

“I guess I did,” she answered, completely at ease, which Nino felt was unfair, because he could feel himself growing warm under the collar just from the new label. “Might as well start getting used to calling you that, right?”

Nino slipped an arm around Alya as they reached a spot on the dance floor to sway to the music, plucking the flute glass from his fiancée’s grasp.

“And just how much of this have you had?”

“Not enough,” Alya replied with a roll of her eyes. “Our dumb friends, I swear to god…”

Nino hummed, taking a hearty gulp of champagne, promptly making a face afterwards. Blegh.

Alya laughed at his expression.

“Don’t worry—I smuggled in a bottle of whiskey in my overnight bag,” she informed him with a wink.

“Babe, I love you,” Nino enthused, placing the half-empty champagne glass on a nearby table as they spun near it. Alya laughed again, the sound a little strained, for some odd reason…

“I hope you can still say that when I tell you this…”

Instantly, Nino was on-guard.

“Tell me what…?” He asked, eyeing her carefully. Alya’s hands were resting on Nino’s shoulders as they danced, and she gave them a squeeze now, as if to pre-emptively calm him.

“It’s not a big deal or anything…” She paused just long enough to make Nino’s blood pressure spike. “…Just that Adrien might have figured out that I’m Vixen.”


“Shh,” Alya urged him, smiling brightly at the swivel of heads that glanced over at them curiously.

“How did Adrien figure out you’re Vixen?” Nino demanded to know, though he demanded this information in a low tone to minimize eavesdropping. Alya frowned, plucking at the chain of her Fox Miraculous.

“I might have said something that sounded too fox-ish for him to ignore it. Still, I might’ve had plausible deniability…if it weren’t for my pendant, which somehow wormed its way out of the top of my dress,” she said, patting the neckline of her dress. Nino sucked his teeth.

“I told you to take it off.”

“And I told you that if you get to keep yours on, then so do I,” Alya shot back, and Nino sighed. She peered up at him, concern entering her gaze. “…Sorry. I didn’t mean for him to get suspicious.”

“It’s fine,” Nino decided, though he shook his head slightly. “Just means that we’ll have to bring ‘Nette into the loop as well…”

“Well, we can wait on that,” Alya insisted, smirking as she nodded at something to the side. Nino followed her line of vision, and it was with no small amount of relief that he registered Marinette making her way across the ballroom to Adrien’s corner, anxiousness and determination warring in her expression. As they watched her progress, Alya said to Nino with a giggle,

“I think they have enough on their plates right now, don’t you?”

Nino couldn’t agree more if he tried.



She didn’t want to do this. Every ounce of pride she still retained was screaming at her that she should not stoop to this, that it wasn’t her fault, that she should not have to be the one to fix what he broke.

She really, really, really did not want to do this…

But if she didn’t…would that make her happy?

Even if Adrien did approach her first, would it mean that Marinette won? That she was somehow the victor in this mess?

Were there even any winners to be had in the first place…?

Marinette bit her lip, her nails digging into the palms of her hands. The question from before still whirled around and around in her head, yet to be answered: which was more important? Her pride, or her happiness…?

She swallowed, her eyes focused on Adrien’s hunched form in the corner of the ballroom. Whether she was ready or not…it was time to answer that question.

Taking a deep breath, Marinette squared her shoulders and made herself walk over there, every step much harder than the last, because her mind fought her with every step that brought her nearer to him, a gravitational pull that refused to release her, despite her half-hearted attempts to flee from it.

This is a mistake,’ a sinister voice in her mind that didn’t sound anything like Alya whispered, threading dread through her heart at its presence. ‘You shouldn’t have to be the one to step up and try to fix things. You’ve been hurt by him so many times…why should you always have to be the bigger person? Doesn’t he care about you enough to step up himself?

It’s more complicated than that,’ Marinette argued with herself, though her teeth sunk further into her lip. ‘It shouldn’t matter who approaches who first, as long as we’re both willing to work through this, right?

What if he doesn’t want to work through it?’ Asked the voice, and a chill went through Marinette as she realized that it was Shade’s voice she was hearing. She glanced around, horrified, but didn’t see the villain anywhere, nor could she fathom a reason for her presence…was Marinette’s own mind messing with her…? ‘What if he laughs at you when you go over there? What if he ignores you, like you no longer exist? What if—

STOP IT!’ Marinette screamed at herself, squeezing her eyes shut as she concentrated on forcing all the negativity out of her head. ‘Worrying about every little thing that could go wrong here won’t get me anywhere! Even if I’m scared, the only way I lose is if I stop trying! So shut up and let me do this!


Thank god—Marinette was already under enough stress without arguing with the shadow of her former friend/nemesis trying to feed her doubts and fears. (Marinette made a note to herself to maybe consider booking a session with Ivan herself, when she could afford it.)

She was only a few steps from Adrien now. He seemed not to notice her—from what she saw of his profile, he looked like he was concentrating on something so hard, his life might depend on it. Marinette made herself breathe deep, counting the seconds as she exhaled. One…two…three…okay.

As she took another step forward, she watched with curiosity as Adrien suddenly stood, his hands braced against the table. He appeared to be scowling, and Marinette faltered in her approach, wondering if this was a bad time. As she watched, Adrien closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and spun on his heel, looking like he intended to go somewhere—

He stopped short when he noticed Marinette, his eyes widening and his mouth coming open, as if he hadn’t expected to see her here at all. This did not help Marinette to be less self-conscious, and she fidgeted, unable to tear her gaze away from him as he stood awkwardly in front of her, his hands flexing. With a jolt, Marinette spotted the charm bracelet—her charm bracelet—hooked around his right wrist, just above his ring, like it had never left. Maybe it hadn’t.

And maybe it was just Marinette, but as she stood there, apart from Adrien, she could almost feel the tension in the air between them, every word they’d hurled at each other, and everything still left unsaid between them, creating air so thick that Marinette felt she could almost reach out and touch it, and her fingers would meet against the barrier dividing her and Adrien.

As she stared at him now, she felt her mouth go dry, and she cursed herself inwardly. It was so typical for her to march herself over here, only to choke the moment it counted. At times like these, she tried relying on the inner strength that came from being Ladybug, but when it was Adrien she was facing—when it was Chat Noir she was facing—Marinette suddenly didn’t know what to do. Where did she go from here…?

Marinette was set to panic in this downward spiral…but then something broke through that panic…a familiar melody…

Marinette’s head swiveled, staring at the colorful DJ who had suddenly started playing this slow, jazzy number for the couples in the room to dance to. She could see Ivan and Myléne revolving slowly in the center of the dance floor, as well as Alya and Nino, Kim and Max, Juleka and Rose, Chloé and Nathanael…

It was clear this melody was a slow song for the lovers, but Marinette didn’t need all the couples spinning on the dance floor to know that, for this song was the very first song she and Adrien had danced to, just a couple months ago, on a night chillier than tonight, a night for lovers...the night that everything had changed between them, in more ways than one…

Slowly, Marinette brought her gaze back to Adrien, knowing that he was remembering too, just from the look on his face. With a slow, hesitant smile…she held out her hand.

“Dance with me?”

She just barely heard Adrien’s breath catch, and his lips slowly curved to match her smile, awkward and unsure, but desperate, so desperate to make contact…

Marinette held her breath, waiting as Adrien lifted his hand, his fingers twitching in the air between them, but moving closer, despite the uncertainty, despite the pain still present in his eyes, despite everything

His fingers slid over hers, the warmth of his palm pressed against hers, and Marinette felt like she could properly breathe again.

She looked up, smiling whole-heartedly now, and Adrien’s face flushed, his lips stretching to match her smile once again.

“You won’t let me fall, right?” He asked her, and Marinette almost laughed, because all he seemed to do was quote her own words back at her today, though they always seemed to hold more weight coming from him.

Marinette’s fingers tightened around his hand, and she let her expression grow serious as she gazed up at him.

“Never,” she replied, letting the weight of her emotions soak into her tone. Adrien flushed anew, and Marinette briefly worried if she was making him uncomfortable, if it was too soon…but then he nodded, squeezing her hand back, keeping her gaze the whole time as they made their way onto the dance floor.

Even though there was a lot they still had left to say to each other, neither of them said a word as they revolved slowly on the spot, arms wrapped around each other, lost in the others’ eyes. And, mysteriously, it worked. They didn’t need to speak in this moment—it was as if they understood each other perfectly, even without the words, like they had somehow gained the power to read minds, but only each other’s. In his eyes, Marinette saw a multitude of emotions, all blending together so much that it was hard to pinpoint a single emotion, but she didn’t need to, because everything he was feeling, she felt, too. She shared in his pain, wallowed in his misery, sighed in his relief, and in the strongest emotion she saw there, the emotion she dared not to name, for it would undo her and rob her of all her courage before they could commit to fully fixing what broke between them—

Marinette hid her face in Adrien’s vest, feeling her face catch fire. His arms wound around her, holding her closer; she could feel his cheek press against her temple, his breath brushing past her ear as he sighed. Knowing that he was so at peace with her right here, right now, sent warmth all through Marinette, her heart throbbing, fit to burst. When the song ended in favor of a catchier ditty, Marinette pulled back, locking her gaze with Adrien’s once again.

“…Can we talk?” She asked softly, realizing a second too late that Adrien probably couldn’t hear her over the music. But just as she was about to ask again, he nodded.

“Yeah,” he agreed fervently. Feeling herself flush again, Marinette was glad of an excuse to turn her back to him for a moment, taking his hand again as she led them off the dance floor, opening the purse still slung across her body to grab the key for her room.

They happened to pass by Alya and Nino before they made it off the dance floor; Alya stepped forward just as Marinette pulled her hand out of her purse. Before Marinette could tell her that now was not the time, Alya withdrew something from her pocket and slipped it into Marinette’s purse, snapping the clasp shut for her. Marinette froze, blinking at her best friend.

“What did you—”

“You’ll thank me later,” Alya assured her with a wink before she slunk away again. Marinette watched as Alya went back to the shelter of Nino’s arms, wondering if she should be concerned about the sly look on her best friend’s face…but then she remembered that she had more important things to worry about, and she pushed the matter from her mind.

It didn’t take long to get back to her room—she had been fortunate enough to snag a room on the first floor of the hotel. As she keyed into the room and flicked on the lights, Marinette almost poked her head in to tell Tikki to hide before she remembered who she had with her. She shook her head at herself. Despite all her suffering for the past week, it was somehow so easy to forget that Adrien knew everything now…

“Marinette, are you—oh!” Tikki squeaked from where she had been sitting on the coffee table in the room, catching sight of Adrien. “Adrien! How nice to see you!”

“Uh, thanks,” Adrien replied, sounding a little awkward as he rubbed the back of his head. “You too, Tikki.”

Tikki beamed at him, and Marinette found herself smiling, wondering just when Tikki had become so fond of Adrien. Maybe it was something the kwami picked up from her.

As she turned and shut the door behind them, there was a shifting of fabric behind her, and she heard a drawling voice speak:

“So, should we expect another shouting match from you two? Or will you actually have productive character development this time around?”

“Plagg,” Tikki said in a reproving voice, and Marinette turned to find her kwami zooming into the air to scowl at the black cat kwami suddenly in their midst. “Be nice.”

“Being nice is your thing,” Plagg corrected her, closing one eye lazily. “Being belligerent is mine.”

Adrien sighed and rubbed at his temple. Idly, Marinette wondered if this was routine for them.

“Actually, I think some privacy would be appreciated this time around,” Marinette said, giving the kwami in the room a significant look. “Could you two—?”

“Of course, Marinette,” Tikki answered immediately, grabbing Plagg’s tail and tugging him after her when he showed every sign of remaining.

“Thanks, Tikki,” Marinette called after her as she and Plagg disappeared into the bathroom. She felt a little bad; they probably wouldn’t be very entertained in there while she and Adrien spent the night talking…but there was no help for it. If anything, Marinette trusted Tikki to keep Plagg out of trouble while she and Adrien worked to un-complicate this thing between them…hopefully…

Carefully, Marinette took off her heels, tossing them to the side as she made her way further into the room, heading for the bed. As she sat down, she slid off the chain attached to her purse. Momentary curiosity over what Alya had slipped in there earlier had her peeking inside…

Oh for—

The exasperated thought couldn’t even be finished—Marinette hurriedly shut her purse again and shoved it onto her nightstand, feeling her face burn and hating it. But really, what was Alya thinking, slipping condoms into Marinette’s purse?! What about their faces as they were leaving suggested the need for them?! Marinette so did not need this right now, and she was going to ring Alya’s neck for this later…

Clearing her throat, Marinette glanced up, noticing with some surprise that Adrien was still standing near the door, looking awkward.

Right…this was the hard part, wasn’t it?

Marinette took a deep breath, and then gestured to the space on the bed next to her.

“Would you…like to sit down?”

Adrien jolted, as if Marinette had surprised him; she frowned at the flush that painted his face. Just what was he embarrassed about…?

“Oh…okay…” he agreed, clearing his throat as he walked to the bed, his posture perfect—a sign that he was stressed. As he sank down on the edge of the bed, his back was ramrod straight, his hands balled into fists as they rested on his knees. He looked so wound up…

Recognizing this, Marinette decided to start first…now, where to begin…

“…I’m sorry about Monday,” she said softly, deciding it was best to start small. “I shouldn’t have pushed you and Nino like that. I should’ve waited until you were ready to know.”

There was silence, save for Marinette’s uncomfortable shifting on the bed, the fabric of her dress sliding against the comforter in a noisy way. She cringed, wishing Adrien would say something, anything…

“…Why did you decide to let go of that little secret that night?” Adrien asked.

Marinette sighed. Anything but that, she wanted to whine. But no, she had gotten herself into this situation…she had to take responsibility, to own up to everything…

In a voice much smaller than the last, she owned up to the shameful reason:

“I…I wanted to hurt you.”


Marinette chanced a glance over at Adrien, biting her lip as he stared straight ahead, his face impassive. The ambiguity of his expression did not concern nor comfort her, and she could only sit there, waiting until he finished processing…

Adrien sighed, and his perfect posture was exhaled as well; he slumped over, his elbows resting on his knees now as he stared at the floor.

“…Well, you’ll be happy to know that it worked,” he replied, a note of sarcasm in his voice. And he was right—rather than making Marinette happy, it devastated her.

“Adrien,” she began, reaching for him—oh, but she had no right to touch him. She dropped her hands, clenching them into fists in her lap. “Adrien, I’m sorry. I—at the time, I thought it would be better for you and Nino to know, but I…” she swallowed. “Tikki made me realize that what I did was wrong. That I had no right, after making you wait and wait to t-talk about me…about us…but then f-forcing you and Shell to…and I didn’t even ask—”

“Marinette,” Adrien interrupted, and Marinette noticed that he was looking at her now, his brow furrowed as he stared at her…why was he looking at her like that?

Adrien’s frown grew more pronounced and he raised a hand, hesitating for the briefest moment…before he let his fingertips brush against her cheek.

“Don’t cry,” he said softly, his thumb dragging across her cheekbone.

Marinette blinked. She wasn’t crying. She had spent a good half-hour crying up here already. Surely she was all cried out by now…

Adrien drew his hand back, and Marinette’s breath hitched when she saw the wetness there, proof of her tears for all to see. With a groan, she promptly buried her face in her hands.

“Oh my god,” she moaned, utterly miserable. Adrien let out a soft chuckle, which only humiliated her further. Adrien seemed to realize that; she felt him shift closer to her, gently tugging her hands from her face.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, the strength of such an apology burning in his eyes. “I’m not laughing because you’re crying. I’m laughing because…well, I’m relieved.”

Marinette sniffled, giving him a questioning look.


“Yeah,” Adrien said, digging his new handkerchief out of his pocket and offering it to her. Marinette pursed her lips; she would hate to ruin his new handkerchief with runny make-up, but once she remembered that he could probably afford a million handkerchiefs, she accepted it with a small thanks and began to dab at her wet eyes. “The way you left earlier…after the stunt I pulled—well, I thought…I thought you stormed off because you were mad at me.”

“I am mad,” Marinette mumbled, though it could not be clearer that her heart was not in the words. “What were you trying to do there? And why did you drag Ivan and his vows into this?”

“I didn’t,” Adrien denied, his eyes widening as he raised his hands, as if Marinette was about to charge. “Ivan finished his vows a month ago.”

“Then explain how he used my words from the tower the first patrol after—” Marinette’s tongue curled in on itself; speaking of her superhero relationship with Adrien, out in the open, was still a bit difficult for her. Adrien caught her hesitance, and his jaw tightened, as if he was actively trying to prevent himself from starting a fight. For a moment, they just stared at each other.

Marinette let out a breath. This was hopeless—if she still wasn’t comfortable talking to Adrien about all this, then why had she brought him up here in the first place?

A selfish part of her brain blamed it on him once again: he looked too much like Adrien right now for her to see him as Chat properly…

…Wait a minute…

Marinette got to her feet. As she moved forward, across the room, she felt a ghost of a touch on her hand.


“Hold on,” she urged him, striding purposefully towards the door. Once there, she took a deep breath to fortify her spirit…and then she flicked the light switch off.

The bright light in the room died, and Marinette breathed again, turning around.

Only moonlight was present in the darkness of the room, and while that sent an unpleasant chill down her spine, because she couldn’t help but be reminded of Shade, Marinette didn’t let the fear consume her. Because there Chat Noir was, sitting on her bed. He didn’t have his costume on, of course, but the way his eyes glowed in the light of the moon still put her at ease, the familiarity giving her courage to move back over to him, sitting a little closer than she had been.

Chat—Adrien—oh, what was the difference?—he watched her the whole time, seeming to register the change that overcame her, though from the look on his face, Marinette could tell that he had no idea what it was supposed to mean. She didn’t bother letting him dwell on it—focusing on his eyes, she began again.

“…Why did Ivan use my words from that night of patrol, after you finally came back to me?” She asked him directly. Here Adrien blushed, glancing away from her as he rubbed the back of his neck.

“Well…I had been helping him with his vows for some time,” he admitted. “He was trying to put to words exactly how he felt about Myléne, about how he’d always be there for her, even when things got rough, since no marriage is perfect…and I just…the words just came out.”

Marinette stared at him, quietly amused at the blush climbed all the way up to his forehead. He…was really cute. Damn it.

“…Does Ivan know you didn’t come up with those words on your own?” She couldn’t help but tease him. Adrien cleared his throat.

“Of course,” he answered, surprising Marinette. “He complimented me, so I had to tell him that the words actually weren’t mine. But he said he liked them, because it was the exact same way he felt about Myléne, even when they have their arguments…” Adrien’s gaze finally returned to her, and he smiled slightly. “Who was I to tell him he couldn’t use them?”

“But it’s not like he actually wrote the vows himself then, is it?”

“Honestly? If the feelings behind them are real, who cares where he got the words?”

Marinette didn’t have a counter-argument for that—and it wasn’t all that important anyway—so she let it drop and moved on.

“…I rushed out of the wedding to cry,” she admitted to Adrien, dropping her gaze to her lap as she felt her face burn with shame. “I couldn’t figure out why…I mean, for all I knew, you could’ve been playing with me, to hurt me like I hurt you. I didn’t understand…”

Warmth cupped her cheeks, and Marinette’s head was lifted, once again meeting those beautiful green eyes she loved so much, eyes that were currently wracked with guilt.

“No, Marinette, I…I didn’t mean to hurt you today.” He looked away, shame crossing his features. “That night…when I shouted at you for murdering my father…I wanted to hurt you then. I know now you were just trying to explain how you felt about the whole thing with AVA, but I just assumed that you didn’t care about me, and I didn’t let you explain at all…and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”

Marinette hiccupped, feeling another wave of tears pushing at her eyes. At this rate, she was going to shrivel up and die, with how much she had been crying today…but these tears felt more refreshing than the previous ones.

“You…don’t actually believe I’m…I’m a murderer?”

“Of course not,” Adrien huffed, closing his eyes as he bumped his forehead against hers. “I was there, My Lady. I saw how what happened ate at you…and yet, your first thought was me.” He opened his eyes, marveling at her, as if he couldn’t believe such a creature like her existed. “…Why?”

That’s right: he had been there that night. He had seen, with his own eyes, the decision that altered the course of their lives forever…

And yet, he still came back to her. He had sought her out to tell her he loved her…

Marinette swallowed.

He knew the answer to this question already, didn’t he? Surely he didn’t need her to spell it out…

Adrien stared at her, his eyes beseeching, desperate…much in the same way they were when he had thrashed her first design, and she had pushed back at him, calling him cruel and unlike himself…

“Really, Marinette…can you really say that you ever knew me at all...?”

Yes. Yes she could. She just hadn’t known how well back then…

It was almost amazing, how easy the words were to say now, despite that maybe now wasn’t the best time, despite the fact that this was the first time they had properly spoken to each other in weeks, despite the mess they were slowly working to unravel, bit by bit:

“…Because I loved you, Chat.”

Adrien’s eyes widened. He sat there, dumbstruck, but Marinette could see the emotions rapidly spinning through his expression, though they flashed by too quickly to leave a lasting impression until…

Adrien closed his eyes and let out a breath, sitting back and dropping his hands from her face. The warmth was missed immediately.

“…You didn’t know who I was back then, Marinette.”

“Yes I did,” Marinette insisted, apparently sounding so confident that Adrien’s eyes opened immediately, his eyebrows shooting up. “It’s true, I didn’t know it was you at the time…but I still knew you, Adrien.” Feeling bold, she poked his nose. “It was just that neither of us knew at the time.”

He seemed to need a moment to process that; Marinette waited, watching as his brow furrowed, his eyes shifting, as if he was looking for a way around her logic. When he finally glanced up at her again, his expression was…confused.

“…But you didn’t love Chat…” he said softly. Though he tried to bury it, Marinette could still see it: that longsuffering sadness in his eyes, his affections for his Lady always rejected. Though Marinette had had no idea that he had ever been serious, now she knew better, and it pained her to see that deep ache he had carried with him all this time. Wishing to rectify it, she scooted closer to him again, and now it was her hands that slid over his cheeks, locking eyes with him.

“I didn’t know how you felt back then, chaton,” she admitted, though it was shameful to. Some partner she had been, not even realizing his feelings for her… “If I had known…I don’t know. I don’t know what would have happened...maybe things would have been different.”

But there was no point dwelling on the ‘maybes’ or ‘what ifs’, and so Marinette banished them from her mind, choosing to focus on the here and now.

“The point is that I did know you, that I’ve always known you, Chat…and…”

Oh god, she so wanted to break gazes, her face was on fire, the whole room was much too warm, but if she didn’t say it now, if she dared to say the word ‘later’ to him again—

Marinette bit down, snapping the bullet in her mouth in half.

“…and I’ve always…always loved you.”

The air stilled.

Adrien’s lips parted, but it appeared he didn’t actually have anything to say—he just stared at her, as if she had lost her mind. And frankly, Marinette was beginning to feel that way; the way he looked at her left her nervous, after baring her heart to him…why wasn’t he saying anything?!

Her mind panicked and overloaded; she dropped her hands from his face and words began to spill from her, as uncontrollable as her desire to fill this horrible silence—

“A-and I know I probably don’t have any right to say this to you now—I know I ruined things between us with my hesitance, and I’m so sorry I hurt you by making you think I don’t trust you, but that’s not true at all, Chat, I really do trust you, and I would do anything to prove it, to get us back to how we were, and I’m so, so sorry, Chat, I’m sorry, I’m—”

Adrien’s thumb bumped into Marinette’s lips. She stilled at the contact, staring at him as he seemed to get himself together…or it looked like he was trying to. He seemed to be having trouble; he opened and closed his mouth several times, swallowing heavily as his face burned in the moonlight. Finally, after a minute or two, he took a deep, shuddering breath, glowing green eyes focused on her as he said, in a voice that was strangled:

“…Say that again.”

Marinette blinked, unable to keep up with the shift of his emotions. Why was he looking at her like that…?

“…I’m sorry?” She tried. Adrien shook his head, displacing his hair with the motion. Marinette nearly choked; he had Chat hair now.

“Before that,” he insisted, still regarding her in that strange, intense way that somehow brought a blush to her face. Marinette swallowed and tried again.

“I trust you…?”

“Good to know, but before that, Marinette.

The way he stared at her, with a look so anxious it almost seemed painful, finally tipped Marinette off.

“I…I love you,” she repeated herself, hating the flush that burned her face, but she refused to look away, refused to be embarrassed. It was the truth, after all.

Adrien stared at her some more, but this silence didn’t last nearly as long as the previous one.

“You love me?” He asked softly, as if he wanted to make sure, as if his ears were not to be trusted. Marinette laughed a little and nodded.

“Yes, I love you. I’ve loved you for so long, Adrien. I’m sorry it took so long to tell you, but I do. I l—”

The words were lost, swallowed up by Adrien’s lips as he suddenly lunged at her, crushing his mouth to hers. Marinette gasped at the sudden contact, falling back from the momentum, but even though it was sudden and unexpected, Marinette didn’t care. She kissed him back just as fiercely, so finally relieved to be rid of this tension that she couldn’t find it in herself to care about anything that didn’t involve her kissing Adrien, his lips so soft that she was melting, her head spinning from lack of air, but she didn’t care, she could happily die in this moment, drowning in Adrien—

“I love you.”

The words were ragged, rasped against her neck as Adrien broke for air; she could feel him shivering.

“I love you, Marinette. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Each whispered word of devotion thrilled down Marinette’s spine, and she buried her hands in Adrien’s hair to kiss him long, hard, and senseless.

“I love you, too,” she mumbled in between breaths and desperate kisses, interrupting his continued stream of love confessions. “Adrien—Chat—I love you so much.”

“My Lady, I am so in love with you,” Adrien breathed, because he just had to top her. “I always have been. I always will be. I love you. I love you.”

Scratch her previous statement—now Marinette could die happy.



Maybe it was because he was touch-starved, not having much physical affection growing up and only having a serious girlfriend very recently.

Maybe it was because he knew what he wanted was finally within his grasp, and that just made him impatient.

Maybe it was just that he was every bit of the greedy, spoiled rich boy the worst of the tabloids painted him as.

Whatever it was, it was clear: Adrien could not get close enough to Marinette fast enough.

Even when the clothes went flying, and he was able to explore her—fully explore her—for the first time, his hands trailing down the freckled skin of her bare body, it wasn’t enough.

Even when she touched him, stroking him and kissing him everywhere, drawing noises from him that he didn’t even know where possible, it wasn’t enough.

And even when she produced a condom from her purse, her face burning at his intrigued look, muttering something about Alya and her meddling—even when she said she was ready for him and Adrien carefully, so carefully, slid inside her, fascinated by the way her face changed as he did, her eyes squeezing shut, her mouth opening, as she breathed, the way she shivered and tightened around him—it was not enough.

More,’ his body seemed to croon, seeming to ache from his core as he rocked his hips forward, his head dropping to suck at Marinette’s neck, tingling with the breathy moans that escaped her, burning with the whispered encouragements she gave him as her hands pressed into his back, that he was doing good, so good—

“Ah! Adri—Chat!” Marinette cried after Adrien gave a particularly rough thrust. He hadn’t meant to—it just felt so good that he couldn’t help himself. He froze, wondering if he’d hurt her, but then she was whining, kissing him greedily, her legs locked around his waist.

“Don’t stop,” she moaned, and a chill shot down Adrien’s spine as she clawed at his back— Please, chaton, don’t stop!

Oh, it was agony—hearing her cry his name like that, beg him for more, to allow herself to be so utterly vulnerable with him in this moment…

MORE!’ His body cried in unison, and Adrien groaned low in his throat, resuming his pace, unable to help his jerky movements, because this was his first time, and it felt too good, and he didn’t know how long he’d be able to keep this up—

Marinette’s voice kept getting louder, climbing higher, each octave creating a beautiful melody that embedded itself into Adrien’s soul. He was desperate for those sounds, hungry for them—when each thrust brought him a new, more beautiful sound, he relished in it, a beautiful song, sung by his Lady, the love of his life, sung just for him—

Ohhh, he was getting close. He could feel it—he wouldn’t last much longer.

“M-Marinette…” he groaned, but it was all he could get out, the rest of the words drowned in a hiss as Marinette suddenly seized up, her back arching, her mouth opening—

And then she sung the highest note yet, absolutely shattering in his arms. Adrien was not able to withstand the blast—what mortal man could? She dragged him right over the edge with her, and he clutched at her hand as he came, gripping it tight, as if he would lose himself without being anchored to her. She clung to him as if her life depended on it, hugging him as he collapsed against her, gasping for air. That ache inside him, finally sated, transformed into something warmer, tingling through his skin as Marinette trailed her fingers through his hair. His chest rumbled as he purred, approving of the gesture. Marinette giggled.

“Good kitty,” she teased him, sounding almost as happy as he felt, because there was no way she was as blissful as Adrien was in this moment. Nope, he was the happiest right now. Everyone else could go home.

“Mmm,” Adrien hummed, nosing under Marinette’s jaw, giving the hand he still held a slight squeeze. She returned his squeeze, and Adrien felt his heart soar. It was almost as if the last week had never happened…

Adrien blinked his blurry eyes open, his happiness balloon suddenly gaining a puncture, slowly deflating.

…As much as he might want to pretend otherwise, last week had happened. It would be wrong to just ignore it, to pretend that it would go away if he just averted his eyes…

With an annoyed grunt that was directed at himself, Adrien sat up, propping himself up on his elbows as he gazed down at Marinette. She was beautiful in the moonlight—her skin was nearly bleached white, save for those tiny dots of color embedded there, her own personal constellations. Her hair shone nearly blue, and her eyes were even bluer, almost glowing. She stared back up at him, sweat beading her forehead, her chest slowly rising and falling, regaining her breath. Beautiful.

Something about his expression must have been off, however; her brow furrowed as she gazed up at him, her free hand reaching up to cup his cheek.


God, how he loved that nickname. Adrien clutched her hand to his cheek, pressing a kiss to her palm. As much as he wanted to continue to revel in their lovemaking…this had to be said. He needed to say it, just so that everything was clear…

After a deep breath, Adrien met his lover’s—partner’s—eyes.

“…I’m sorry I hurt you, Marinette.”

After a moment, a corner of Marinette’s mouth turned up.

“I know…I’m sorry for hurting you too, Adrien. It won’t happen again.”

“So from now on, we’ll make it a point to talk to each other about the big stuff?”

“The little stuff, too,” Marinette added, taking her hand from his cheek to trace his lips. “Like how I really want you to kiss me again…”

Adrien smirked.

“Don’t distract me,” he playfully chided her, reclaiming her hand, lacing his fingers with hers. “There’s one more thing I have to say.”

Marinette pouted, but when Adrien gave her a look, she sighed and stuck out her tongue before settling her expression into one of polite interest.

“Okay, I’m listening.”



Adrien smiled, leaning down to press his lips to Marinette’s forehead.

“My Lady…”

Chaton,” Marinette returned easily, and Adrien’s smile widened.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Ah, bliss. If there would be a moment in Adrien’s life that would top this one, he was hard-pressed to believe it. Unless it involved Marinette—wherever Adrien chased his bliss, she would always be there.


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A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 35 of 37

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