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

Part 7 of 37

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The following week was a true testament to how much indignity Marinette could stand.

When Symone demanded that her rougher sketches be more detailed by Monday, she did it.

When Symone asked for a whole new design that was Ladybug-themed on Wednesday because the first one “didn’t say Tres Bien to her”, Marinette redesigned a new outfit to be submitted for approval.

And when Symone still had the audacity to send Marinette out for coffee on Friday, on top of everything else she was doing…Marinette got her coffee. And she resisted the urge to spit in it so valiantly that she felt she rather deserved an Olympic medal for it.

The half of her that had wanted to quit since last week shook its head at her, disgusted with her. Running around like someone’s lackey, doing work that wasn’t being appreciated at all, because Symone never said thank you or congratulated her for her hard work; she just demanded “More! More!” like an ungrateful, spoiled child who had all the toys in the world and yet still had the nerve to act like she was being cheated.

Alya certainly didn’t help matters.

“She’s WHAT?!” Her friend exploded on the phone when Marinette had to explain why she wouldn’t be making their weekly gelato meet-up. “Nuh-uh, no way, this is crossing the line, Marinette!!”

“I’m so close, Alya,” Marinette pleaded, clutching the phone to her, because she needed some sort of validation, some assurance that she wasn’t crazy for pursuing this. “This could make me. Symone could put me on the map!”

“Seriously, Marinette? You wanna get recognition this way?? I thought you were better than this! You should be blazing your own trail, not riding on the coat tails of someone else’s success—success that you’re killing yourself for! This is absolutely not okay, and I’m coming over right now to kick your ass, and then I’m gonna gut that bitch you call a boss!”

“Alya, please,” Marinette begged, biting her lip. “I really need your support on this. It’s been so hard…but if I do this right, I could be set for the rest of my life! Please, Alya, tell me that you understand.”

There was a long, drawn-out sigh from the other end.

“…I don’t,” Alya replied, and Marinette felt her heart sink. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand. I still love you, girl, but if you want me to actually approve of what you’re doing…I just can’t do it. I believe in you too much to lie and say that I support you selling your soul like this.”


“I gotta go,” Alya said tersely. “Good luck with Symone’s new winter line.”

The line went dead, and a big, fat lump wedged itself in Marinette’s throat.

Not even her best friend would support her madness. There was clearly something wrong here.

“Do you think I’m crazy?” Marinette asked dully of Tikki, who sat next to her on the desk, her indigo eyes wide and concerned.

“I think you should do what you want to do, Marinette,” Tikki replied, as was her way. She reached out, a tiny hand resting on Marinette’s. “Is this really what you want?”

Marinette closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.

Did she like Symone bleeding her dry for every scrap of talent she possessed? No.

Did she like being treated like a work horse, spending hours upon hours each night working for a thankless harpy? Hell no.

Did she like the thought of someone else trying to take all the credit for the work she was nearly killing herself over nowadays? Abso-fucking-lutely not.

But did she like the thought of an uncertain future compared to the indignities she was forcing herself to bear?

Marinette sighed from her core, and then moved back to her new sketchbook, the one she carefully kept hidden from Symone at all times.

Lack of faith in herself wasn’t the thing holding her back.

It was her fear of the unknown, of failure, that kept her under Symone’s grip, pushing her nose to the grindstone until it was red and raw.

She would rather be worked to death than attempt to venture out on her own at this point. How sad.

The weekend passed by in a nondescript blur, Marinette fervently thankful for the inactivity of Hawk Moth 2.0 when she was barely getting enough sleep as it was. All too soon, Monday dawned, and she rose with a groan, resigned to her fate.

Another stone of anxiety dropped into her chest this morning: it had been two weeks.

She was due for a meeting with Adrien Agreste today.

For a few agonizing minutes, Marinette let herself tense up over that, her wide eyes on her toes as she drew her knees up to her chest, curling herself tightly into a ball, as if she wished to physically represent how wound up she was on the inside. The reasonable part of her tried to talk her down: she had absolutely nothing to worry about. Adrien didn’t know she was Ladybug. When she walked in, he wouldn’t see a red suit and black spots. He would see Marinette. Marinette Dupain-Cheng, there on business of all things fashion. She could do this. She could do this…

With a deep breath, Marinette slipped out of bed and headed for her bathroom to wash up and get ready. She put on a little more make-up than she usually would, desperate to hide the circles under her eyes, and chose the most professional outfit she owned—a white button-down blouse, a black pencil skirt with a matching blazer, nude pantyhose, and shoes that were cute, but still no-nonsense. Sweeping her hair carefully into a bun at the back of her head, she took one look at herself in the mirror and deemed herself ready. Her life may not be as together as she wanted it to be, but at lease she looked like it was.

“Tikki,” Marinette called to the kwami, and Tikki swooped obligingly into the pocket of Marinette’s blazer; they had already agreed that she should start accompanying Marinette everywhere again, just in case of akuma attack, because the sudden silence from Hawk Moth 2.0 was making them both tense.

Her new, undefiled sketchbook in hand, Marinette left her apartment, got in her car, and headed straight for Agreste Fashions, nodding to anyone she passed while entering the lobby, as if she belonged there.

Sylvia was sitting behind her usual large desk, looking as beautiful as ever…if not a little subdued. Marinette felt a ping of sympathy, and she drew forward, placing a carefully wrapped truffle on Sylvia’s desk to announce her presence. The secretary looked up, her dark eyes confused.

“What’s this?”

“Chocolate.” Marinette smiled. “My mom sent me a bit too much, and I’m in a generous mood.” She wished she could do more, honestly…but since Marinette wasn’t supposed to know anything about what Sylvia had had to go through a couple weeks ago, chocolate was the best she could do without coming across as a total creep.

Sylvia picked up the truffle to inspect it, the gold foil flashing in the light. She pursed her lips, then raised her gaze to Marinette, speculating.

“…You’re here to see Mr. Agreste, aren’t you?” She questioned, jolting Marinette back to the low-level hum of panic rioting in the back of her mind.

Be cool,’ Alya’s voice cautioned her, and she took a deep breath.

“Oh, right, heh. Could you let him know I’m here?”

“Of course. Please, have a seat.”

Marinette thanked Sylvia and resumed her position from a couple weeks back, perching nervously on the sleek couch a couple meters away. At least she didn’t match the furniture this time.

After a couple more minutes, Sylvia directed Marinette to the solitary elevator that waited down the hall, to the left of them. She gave Sylvia a nod and a smile, and with her sketchbook clutched protectively to her, she rode the elevator all the way up to the twentieth floor, praying that Adrien had thought to put on a shirt before meeting her this time around.

He was sitting at his desk when the elevator doors slid open. He was staring at something on his computer screens, but his gaze lifted as Marinette carefully entered his office.

“Miss Dupain-Cheng,” he greeted, and Marinette suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Professionalism, right. “Come in.”

“Good morning, Mr. Agreste,” she replied loftily, making her way to the sitting area and having herself a seat without him asking. From her peripheral vision, she thought she saw the corner of his mouth twitch.

“Be right with you,” he said, fiddling around on his computer with something. Marinette waited, helping herself to some coffee and slipping a cookie into her pocket for Tikki. She hoped the kwami had enough sense not to munch on it while Marinette was still in Adrien’s office. She was just adding sugar to her coffee when Adrien finally stood up, dressed well in dark slacks and a dark blue button-up. The sleeves were pushed up, revealing his forearms, and a couple of the top buttons were undone. Marinette nearly pouted. Must be nice to be the CEO of your own company, able to dress however you want with no one saying anything…

“How are you?” Adrien unexpectedly asked as he stepped down into the sitting area, perching on the couch next to Marinette’s claimed couch. She raised a dark eyebrow at him.

“Fine,” she replied, wondering why he was asking, “why?”

Adrien’s eyes roved over her face. Marinette took note of the dark bruises that shadowed his golden lashes.

“You look tired,” he noted. Marinette nodded towards him.

“Back at you.” She hesitated a moment. “Been having trouble sleeping?”

Adrien gave her his model smile. It looked like more of a strain to put it there than normal.

“No more than usual,” he replied, and left it at that.

“If you say so,” Marinette answered, her tone doubtful. Honestly, she’d be suspicious even if she didn’t already know better.

Adrien briefly grimaced before smoothing his face out into the appropriate expression.

“So,” he began delicately, his green gaze flicking around her, “no garment bag today?”

Marinette’s eyelids lowered dangerously.

“I haven’t had the time to sew,” she said stiffly; the reminder of the last time she was here still rankled. To his credit, Adrien did look appropriately apologetic.

“Right.” He cleared his throat. “So. New sketchbook, huh?”

Marinette huffed, releasing her death grip on her current sketchbook and lowering it into her lap.

“Yes. The other one was…compromised.” Without elaborating further, she opened up the sketchbook, flipping past a couple pages before she found what she wanted. “So this is all in the development process. But here’s what I have so far.”

Marinette figured this was a safe choice, as she handed her sketchbook off to Adrien. She was purposefully avoiding anything Ladybug-themed today, afraid it would trigger some unpleasant reactions within the man who was clearly struggling to keep himself together in front of her…

Nevertheless, Adrien stiffened as he inspected her sketch. Marinette bit her lip. What now?

“…This is…” he began quietly, only to trail off, unable to finish. Marinette felt dread settle over her once again, and she didn’t appreciate it one bit.

“Chat Noir,” she finished for him, a hint of challenge in her tone. She hadn’t meant to make a Chat Noir inspired outfit, but that one had been rattling around insistently in her brain for the last week or so, refusing to be ignored until she gave up and finally sketched it out. And, to her extreme annoyance, it ended up turning out good. Damn stray.

“Since the Carnivale de Venezia already involves masks…I thought it would be cool to play around with a French superhero theme in my spring line. …Is there a problem?”

Adrien relaxed immediately, his eyes flicking back up to hers.

“No. Actually, this is a very inspired idea…” Adrien suddenly closed her sketchbook, frowning. “Though, I have to tell you, this is the second time today I’ve come across such a theme.”

Marinette felt the blood drain from her face.

“…Really,” she managed to get out, struggling to look only mildly interested, while her insides were roiling. She wasn’t even finished with all the sketches Symone had demanded she make—if she had already sent her work to Adrien—

The tall supermodel/CEO got to his feet, setting her sketchbook carefully onto the coffee table before he moved back to his desk, plucking sheets of paper from it.

“I found this in my printer this morning,” he said, approaching Marinette and showing her what he held. “Faxed straight from Tres Bien Boutique.”

Marinette stared at the familiar sketches, her Ladybug-themed outfits splashed across every page. So much for wanting to spare Adrien unnecessary anguish…

“Symone was impatient,” she noted stiffly, unable to say anything else, for fear she might swear or burst into angry tears.

“It’s safe to say that it was probably a mistake to give her my fax number,” Adrien agreed. He sat back down, gaze turning brooding as he inspected the sketches. Marinette watched him, the darkness in his eyes simmering just beneath the surface. He wasn’t okay, was he? She had broken his heart as Ladybug, and now he was dealing with the aftermath.

Ladybug shouldn’t have left him like that. Adrien did nothing but bare his soul to her, something that could not have been easy to do…

And like a coward, Ladybug had ran away.

No—Marinette had ran away. Because it was Marinette who had been left reeling by that unexpected confession, Marinette who had panicked, fled, and spent the night just staring blankly at the wall, unable to understand anything anymore.

The whole time she had been smitten with Adrien, always watching him, wishing for him…he had been wishing for her, too.

But it was the wrong her.

And that…well, Marinette didn’t really know how to feel about that. Was she upset? Not really. Embarrassed? A little. But the main emotion she registered, after she had gotten over her shock, was pity.

What was it like, to be in love with someone so far away from you for eight years? How did someone just get over that? How did they get back to ‘normal’ after spending so long dreaming of someone they would never have?

Marinette sort of understood—whatever she told Alya otherwise, part of her had still nursed a soft spot for Adrien Agreste before he’d come back and altered her perception of him forever. And she was still dealing with that too, even though it had only been a crush on the idea of a boy she’d known.

How was Adrien coping with the fact that Ladybug did not love him?

Marinette wished she could offer soothing words of sympathy without sounding like she knew too much…but it was impossible, because she did know too much. Adrien wouldn’t understand, and there was no way she could tell him she was Ladybug. That would just make the situation worse.

Though she wished there was more she could do, Marinette was forced to admit it to herself: all she could do was hope that he would be able to find the strength to move on from Ladybug. Just as she had, finally, moved on from him.

Marinette became aware that she was staring when Adrien’s gaze suddenly met hers. She hastily dropped her eyes to her coffee cup. A long pause ensued.

“Why are you letting Symone take credit for your designs, Marinette?”

Marinette jolted, blinking wide eyes at Adrien. He stared back at her, his face still all-business…but his eyes were intent, searching hers, as if he could lift the truth straight from her mind.

“You…know they’re mine?” She questioned in surprise.

At this, Adrien gave a most unprofessional snort.

“You’re kidding, right?” He teased her, smirking a little as he tilted the top sketch he held on its head. “I know your signature by now.”

Sure enough, he pointed unerringly to the trim at the bottom of the dress, which looked, at first glance, like a random loopy design. But to a trained eye, Marinette’s name in delicate cursive was displayed, clear as day.

Marinette was so astonished that Adrien had picked up on her signature all on his own that she could do nothing but gape at him. He straightened the sketches again, laying them down on the coffee table as well before he gave her his full attention, raising golden eyebrows.


Marinette sighed. She didn’t feel like she owed Adrien any explanation—this was her decision, and hers alone—but the fact that he knew immediately that she had done the sketches disarmed her, and her defenses were down. She pressed her lips together, her nose wrinkling briefly before she decided to give in.

“Symone found my sketchbook while I was…out running an errand for her.”

Marinette swallowed at the memory of that day. Master Fu had been released from the hospital at last, but he was recovering with some relatives for the time being, and since his usual place of residence had yet to be repaired, she hadn’t seen him since. The Miraculous chest was safe—she had specially crafted a box to hold it, much like the one that locked her diary away from the world—but the sooner she could return it to the rightful guardian, the better she would feel.

Shaking herself from the memories and fears, Marinette continued.

“She saw what I was working on and basically gave me an ultimatum—I either had to make her new winter line for her…or quit.”

Adrien said nothing. He merely watched her. In his gaze, Marinette sensed judgement, and though she knew it would do no good, her temper flared.

“What?” She demanded, eyes flashing at him. “Did you expect me to just give up on my dreams just because someone else wants to use my work?”

“I didn’t say anything,” Adrien said, his eyebrows slightly raised.

“You were thinking things,” Marinette accused. His lips twitched.

“I’m always thinking. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was anything about you.”

Marinette gave him a look so dry that Adrien’s professional mask broke, and he snickered at her.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he requested, hiding his grin behind the back of his hand, his eyes warming. “Honestly, Mari, I’m not judging you. I think it’s admirable of you, working so hard for your dreams.”

“But?” Marinette prompted, refusing to be softened by his laughter…even if it did make him look adorable…

Adrien sobered himself for the serious conversation about to take place.

“But you seem exhausted,” he said. “And I was just wondering whether or not you’d feel like it’s worth it, in the end.”

“Of course it will be,” Marinette replied stubbornly, her lower lip jutting out. “Symone can try and claim credit all she wants—it’s still my name on the clothes. If anything, I’m using her—her boutique is the epitome of haute couture right now. As long as I go along with her and do what she says, my success is as good as guaranteed.”

“…Are you sure about that?” Adrien asked, his tone suggesting that he was trying to be as delicate as possible. Marinette frowned at this.

“What?” She asked. Adrien gave a slight shrug, his jaw tensing.

“Well—you know what, never mind. It’s not really—”

What?” Marinette insisted. Adrien pursed his lips.

“You’re not going to like hearing it.”

Marinette lifted her chin.

“Tell me anyway,” she said, eyes locked on him. “There’s a difference between being brutal and being honest, Adrien. And the biggest difference of all is that I actually respect people who give me the latter.”

Adrien said nothing for a moment. His eyes were intent on her face, searching for something. Marinette gazed back at him, obstinate, waiting.

Finally, his lips parted.

“If you go along with Symone now,” he said, his low voice firm, “you’re never going to escape her. Even if it is your name on the clothes…they’re always going to be associated with Symone. You’ll never be known for your own brand—it’ll always be Tres Bien Boutique that people talk about. Even if you start your own line, your style will be seen as a copy of Symone’s, because she started displaying such fashion first.”

Adrien frowned.

“This could make you, Marinette…but in the end, it’ll ruin you, too.”

Marinette stared at Adrien, her lips slightly parted in surprise.

How did she not even think of that before now? How could she have been so blind?

To give Symone her designs might as well be giving her Marinette’s talent as well; she might as well be an employee of Tres Bien Boutique for the rest of her life.

Because Adrien was right—it would only be Symone’s boutique that people talked about, long after Marinette herself was gone from it.

She had handed Symone her future on a silver platter, wrapped in a neat little blood, sweat, and tearstained bow.

Marinette came back to herself when Adrien rested something across her limp hands—her sketchbook.

“I like the Chat Noir design,” he told her, a corner of his mouth quirking. “You really have something here. I’d like to see more of it.” His face grew serious. “But not if it’s going to show up in Symone’s boutique in the near future. I’ll accept Marinette Dupain-Cheng originals only.”

Funny how a Chat Noir design Marinette almost hadn’t made ended up gaining her Adrien Agreste’s approval. Wasn’t life just ridiculous?

Marinette gave Adrien a trembling smile. He returned it, his eyes warming.

“Mr. Agreste,” chirped his intercom, drawing attention from the both of them, “your next appointment is here to see you.”

“That’s my cue,” Marinette sighed, clutching her sketchbook as she got to her feet. “Thank you for your input, Mr. Agreste.”

Adrien gave a soft snort.

“My pleasure, Miss Dupain-Cheng.” He gave a mock bow that bordered on ridiculous, and Marinette rolled her eyes. Turning on her heel, she marched out of the seating area, heading for the elevator. On her way, she passed a coat rack, on which hung a trendy black trench coat…and an eggshell blue scarf…

Marinette paused, staring at the scarf.

He still had it? After all this time?

“Yes?” Adrien’s voice sounded from behind her. Marinette quickly glanced back, finding him next to his desk, a hand idle on his intercom. Ready to move on to the next appointment.

“Nothing,” Marinette replied idly. Reaching out, she ran a familiar hand down the scarf, nearly scoffing at the silly girl from the past who had hoped with all her might that Adrien Agreste would finally notice her after accepting this carefully crafted gift, with love in every stitch…

Marinette’s fingertips traced over the particular stitching she could feel just at the end of one of the edges of the scarf, outlining her own name. Smiling a little to herself, Marinette let the scarf go, turning once more to Adrien with a nod.

“Mr. Agreste.”

“Miss Dupain-Cheng,” he returned once more, and she pretended not to see the curious look he gave her as she walked away, a secret smile playing across her face.

Let him realize on his own, if he was clever enough to find her signature in her sketches. Now that Marinette knew what a sharp eye he possessed, she was leaving it up to him.

If he hadn’t figured out the secret of the scarf by now, she certainly wasn’t going to tell him.



A shadow fell over her desk. Marinette felt her jaw tighten automatically, glancing up to find Felix standing there. Of course.

“What now?” She snapped at him, in no mood to pretend to be polite, though she knew perfectly well her ire was misplaced. Felix raised a pale eyebrow, but did not comment on her attitude.

“Symone wants to see you,” he replied.

“So what else is new?” Marinette huffed, getting up from her desk and trudging along behind Felix to Symone’s office. It was a cozy little office, usually, with soft seating and lights. Today, however, it was an explosion of paper, copies of Marinette’s sketches deformed with writing, cut-outs and edits. There was a whiteboard behind Symone’s desk, where the originals of Marinette’s hard work hung, next to more writing and cross-outs and arrows drawn on the board. Her savaged sketchbook was propped up against the whiteboard, mocking her. Symone sat behind her desk, her ankles crossed on a corner without sketches obscuring it, pushing the end of a pastry into her mouth. Seeing her looking so relaxed after Marinette had been tearing her hair out for the past week left Marinette grinding her teeth against the abuse she wanted to hurl at her boss.

“Ah, Marinette,” she said as Felix moved to stand by the open door, out of the way. “Good that you’re here—I just realized you have one more change to make before we start really producing anything.”

‘We’. Ha.

“Yes?” Marinette asked in the most polite voice she could muster. Consequently, the word was pushed through her teeth, so it didn’t come across as polite at all, but Symone didn’t seem to register or care.

“It’s these designs on the clothes,” Symone continued, reaching for another pastry as she waved at the board behind her, at the hung sketches. “The ones I’ve circled. I’ll need you to remove them.”

Marinette stared blankly at the whiteboard.

The designs Symone wanted removed were the designs in which Marinette’s signature was buried, claiming the clothes as her creation.

Her worst nightmare had come to fruition: Symone wanted Marinette’s claim on her own work to vanish.

Marinette swallowed, her tongue suddenly dry, her eyes too wet. But most alarming of all was the swelling indignation she could feel rising in her chest, clawing to be free, as if she would breathe fire at any moment.

She didn’t bother to ask why—Symone didn’t give a reason, but Marinette was sure that she had discovered the secret, somehow. The fact that she was asking her—actually fucking asking her—to get rid of her own signature on her own work was truly the final straw, the one straw too many, that snapped the camel clean in half.

“No.” Marinette answered. Symone paused, a mini blueberry muffin halfway to her mouth. She set it down carefully in her usual box of pastries and turned, giving Marinette an appraising look.

“I beg your pardon?” She asked, her tone indicating that, clearly, she must have heard wrong—if Marinette wanted to keep her job, then certainlythe answer she meant was ‘yes’.

“I don’t think you misheard me, Symone,” Marinette said, impressively calm, though the rage was still building, the dam holding it back creaking with the strain. “In fact, I’m pretty sure you just heard me tell you ‘no’.”

The chatter outside Symone’s office began to die down; everyone was clearly listening in. Idly, Marinette wondered if Felix had left the door open behind them on purpose.

Symone stood up, towering over Marinette.

“Marinette,” she said slowly, smiling the smile that suggested she had poison fangs hidden just behind her lips, “I thought we had come to an agreement about this.”

“I changed my mind,” Marinette replied, refusing to be intimidated. “I won’t remove those designs, because these clothes are mine. I’ve been running myself ragged for this impromptu winter line you wanted done after stealing my work. Yes,” she raised her voice as Symone opened her mouth to retort, “no matter what you say, you’re stealing. Especially in trying to erase my mark from designs I made.”

“What does it matter, whose name is on the clothes?” Symone huffed, fluttering a hand, as if the issue truly was of little importance. Marinette raised her eyebrows.

“You clearly thought it mattered enough to try and get me to take my signature off them,” she reminded Symone coldly. It was dead silent in the outer office now, something Symone seemed to register. Unappreciative of being shown up in her own office, in front of her employees, she swelled to her full height, dark eyes flashing at Marinette.

“I already told you that this is a once in a lifetime chance for you,” she hissed; she clearly believed Marinette was being ungrateful. “Your designs were merely passable before my changes.”

“Oh yeah? Then why are you working so hard to take all of the credit?” Marinette demanded, her hands on her hips as she glared up at Symone. “Do you honestly think I’m that stupid?”

“You’re certainly not being smart, with the way you’re behaving,” Symone shot back coldly, folding her arms. Marinette noticed how her nails pierced the fabric of her shirt; she was losing her composure. “I think someone needs to be reminded of where they stand.”

“I know where I stand just fine, thank you very much,” Marinette snapped, rounding Symone’s desk to go toe to toe with her, jabbing a finger at the whiteboard. “These are my designs, designs you had no right trying to pilfer in the first place. The only reason I went along with it in the first place was because I thought that as long as people knew that actually designed the clothes, then things would turn out fine, but you know what? I don’t want all the hard work I put in for these clothes tainted by your boutique. So I’m taking them back.”

“If you touch those sketches—!”

Symone wasn’t given the chance to finish as Marinette ripped her original sketches down from the whiteboard, snatched her sketchbook up, and stomped out of the office. Wide eyes watched her as she marched back to her desk, the telltale rapid click of heels behind her suggesting that Symone was less than happy with her right now.

“That’s it!” She shrieked as Marinette took one look at her desk, realized there was nothing worth salvaging from it, and turned away immediately, heading for the door. “You take one step out that door with those designs, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, and you’re fired!!!”

Marinette paused, turning slowly to look at Symone. She was breathing heavily, her bun coming undone…looking very much like she did the day Chloe Bourgeois had gotten the drop on her and stolen her designs. Marinette would have thought that Symone would refrain from repeating such a heinous crime, after knowing how it felt…needless to say, she was disappointed in the woman she had once admired. All she saw now was an angry harpy, an akuma surely on the horizon, searching her out to take advantage of her rage once again…

But that was Ladybug’s problem.

For now, Marinette just deadpanned Symone a look.

“So put my final check in the mail, Patchwork,” she shot at her, vindictive pleasure surging through her at the look on Symone’s face, like she had been slapped.

Smirking to herself, Marinette clutched her reclaimed sketchbook to her, pushing the door open and running through the boutique, a wide grin on her face as she headed for the sunlight she could see just outside the front door…

Suddenly, she was out. The air was fresh, if not a little chilly, and the sun shined merrily, warming her skin.

The taste of freedom was sweet indeed.



Marinette’s head was throbbing.

She knew it was a mistake to tell Alya immediately after she quit her job, because then her best friend had insisted on an impromptu “MARINETTE QUIT, BITCHES!” celebration, which consisted of her ordering her, Marinette and Nino shots until they all felt sick and had to call a cab to get them home safely.

Marinette had almost said “fuck it” and gone back to bed when her alarm rang this morning, but then she remembered she had to contend with both a rogue cat and an akuma the next time Hawk Moth 2.0 reared his ugly head. She coaxed herself out of bed with a groan, ushered an equally-sleepy Tikki into the breast pocket of her track suit, grabbed her water bottle and her keys, and she was out jogging.

Thanks to her hangover, it took her a minute to spot the tall figure approaching through the fog, and she nearly ran headfirst into Adrien Agreste once again.

“Agh!” She yelped once she finally spotted him, skidding to a stop and scowling at him. He smirked at her in return. “Stop that!”

“Hello to you, too,” he greeted, indecently cheerful, in Marinette’s opinion. She grunted, jogging past him when the crosswalk flashed green; he kept pace with her easily. Despite this being only the second time she had run into him while on her run, the silence between them was peaceful, easy. It would surprise Marinette more if she wasn’t so distracted by the construction work wreaking havoc in her head.

“Heard you quit yesterday,” Adrien said, apropos of nothing. Marinette frowned.

“I didn’t realize you and Symone kept such regular contact with each other,” she huffed.

“I didn’t say anything about Symone.”

“How else would you know? How many people at Tres Bien are you in contact with?”

Adrien deigned not to answer this question.

“You look like hell,” he said idly.

“Fuck off,” Marinette grumbled, and Adrien snickered.

“Such language, Mari. I’m tempted to tell Sabine on you.”

“Oh, is that why you’re here? You want to see my mom again?”

“I wouldn’t mind it,” Adrien answered, sounding completely honest. Marinette glanced over to find a wicked smirk spreading across his face. She frowned at the sight, mostly because it was annoying…but partially because, with his hair tied back into that bun, Adrien reminded her eerily of someone else… “I also wouldn’t mind hearing more embarrassing stories about little Mari.”

Marinette scowled.

“You are hereby banned from my parents’ bakery,” she announced, pushing herself to go faster, annoyed at Adrien’s laughter, mostly because it was loud and made her head throb more violently. Inwardly, she believed Adrien could probably use a laugh every now and then…though she didn’t appreciate it when they were at her expense.

“That’s cruel, Mari. How am I to live without your father’s amazing chocolate-filled croissants?”

“If you eat too many, you’ll get fat. Then you’ll be stuck in the unemployment line right along with me, Mr. Model.”

“Add Symone, and it’ll be a regular party,” Adrien joked. Marinette blinked, startled, skidding to an abrupt stop as she stared at him.

“What did you say?”

Adrien turned back to her, his eyebrows raised.

“What, about Symone?” He shrugged. “It’s not really important. I’ve just decided not to do business with her. Seems like an unnecessary risk, if she’s going to make a habit of exploiting her employees.” A corner of Adrien’s mouth twisted down into a frown. “That, and I really can’t afford to have her blowing up my fax machine every five minutes.”

A bit astonished, Marinette slowly shook her head. But even that was too much for her poor, throbbing temples, and so she stopped quickly.

“I can’t believe you did that,” she said to him, resuming her jog, though at a much slower pace. Adrien just shrugged again, slipping his hands into his pockets as he merely walked beside her.

“It’s not a big deal. Besides, she was still trying to use your designs.” He scowled. “She even went so far as to mark out your signature from them.”

Marinette snorted, though nothing about the situation was funny.

“Yeah. She lost her shit when I refused to do it myself. Guess she decided to carry on without me.” Marinette rolled her eyes. “I still don’t know how she figured out how to find my signature, but—”

“Oh…” Marinette glanced up to catch Adrien cringing, rubbing the back of his neck. “If she didn’t know before…then it was my fault. I e-mailed her yesterday morning before you arrived, asking why she was trying to take credit for your designs when she didn’t even mention that they were yours. She tried playing dumb, and so I sent her an e-mail with your signatures circled in each picture. She didn’t really have much to say after that.”

“Oh…” Well, that was one mystery solved. Briefly, she wondered if she should be annoyed…but then decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. Especially not with Adrien looking so guilty.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not a problem. If anything, you helped give me the courage to leave a bad situation.” Marinette smiled up at him. “Thanks for your honesty, by the way.”

Adrien paused, merely staring at her. Her smile faded.


“Ah…nothing.” He turned away from her, rubbing his mouth with the back of his hand. “You just…you kind of remind me of someone.”

The words sounded more ominous than they should.

Marinette decided not to pursue the subject.

At the crosswalk just before Boulangerie Patisserie, Marinette’s and Adrien’s heads swiveled automatically, glancing at the deserted school of Francois Dupont. No one would be there that early, not even the teachers…but seeing it desolate like that brought about a nostalgic ache to Marinette.

Something about the school seemed to jog something in Adrien as well.

“Oh, right.” After a start, he dug into his pocket, retrieving a slim box and handing it to her. “This is for you.”

Marinette blinked at the box, taken aback.

“What’s this for?”

Adrien merely shrugged.

“Just thought it was something you could use,” he said mysteriously.

Curiosity piqued, Marinette accepted the box. Despite herself, her excitement grew as she slipped the top of the box off, revealing…

“A pen?” The disappointment was obvious in her tone. She immediately felt bad, because it was a pretty nice pen: fountain-type, in her favorite shade of pink. In black letters on the cap, words were scrawled: PROPERTY OF MARINETTE DUPAIN-CHENG.

Marinette blinked, squinting at the pen. Her name was written in her own handwriting.

“Pretty cool, huh?” Adrien asked, looking amused as Marinette looked up at him in awe. “I put out the poor man I commissioned this pen from, wanting a custom color and custom writing and making it a rush job, but I wanted to get it to you as soon as I could.”

“Well…thank you,” she said, still startled by the unexpected gift. She carefully replaced the top of the box, trying to regain herself. “Something I needed, huh?”

“Yeah. It’ll be handy for when you sign your name on things other than clothes.”

Adrien tugged at something at his throat. Marinette could just make out a blue knot tied closed under his track jacket. She glanced up to his face…and his eyes were knowing.

“Like a card, maybe,” he suggested with the most delicate inflection in his tone, raising an eyebrow. The crosswalk light they waited at turned green, and Adrien jogged ahead of her, leaving Marinette staring after him for a moment. Stunned, she glanced down at the box, where her brand new, custom-made pen was now resting.

Did Adrien Agreste rush the making of this pen…just to chide her for never admitting that she had made the scarf he still wore to this day? Of all the cheeky things to do—

“Oh, hello again, Adrien!” Marinette abruptly heard her mother call as the door to the bakery opened. “It’s nice to see you!”

“Hey, Sabine,” Marinette heard Adrien greet, as if he and her mother were old friends already. He glanced over at her as he headed in, trouble promised in his expression. “So, I was wondering: what other stories do you have about Mari? Was she a mischievous kid?”

Did he just

Sabine laughed, the sound carrying all the way out to a suddenly beet red Marinette.

“Oh, are you kidding? Pull up a chair, this could take a while.”

Snapping back to herself, Marinette tore across the street, cursing fluently under her breath.


Damn that devil wearing an angel’s face! Damn him straight back to the pit where he was spawned!

Marinette was going to get him back for this if it was the last thing she would ever do.

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

Part 7 of 37

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