Continuing Tales


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

Part 15 of 35

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Marinette cringed, pulling her phone away from her ear at Alya's screech, fairly certain she'd never hear properly again.

Across the room from her, nestled amongst the cushions of her chaise longue, Tikki shot her a look of sympathy. Marinette frowned back at her.

"Where were you? I was trying to message you for ages!" Alya was yelling, almost beside herself, before Marinette heard a deep intake of breath. When Alya spoke next, her tone was a lot calmer, "I just want to know what's happening."

Marinette grabbed the back of her swivel chair, spinning it around absent-mindedly as she carefully considered her next words. The problem was, she was a bit stuck.

Not a lot of people knew that Nathanael was bisexual. It's not, he reassured her, that he was ashamed of it. Rather, he was just a shy person and felt weird broadcasting his sexuality for the whole world to hear regardless of what gender he was dating. "Straight people," he argued "never have to run around telling people they're straight."

Of course if anyone asked him about it, he never denied it; If you knew him well enough- he would gush for hours about his amazing, smart, funny boyfriend until you wouldn't know whether to gag on the cotton-ball fluffiness of his words, or cuddle him into oblivion. He and Louis were the most physically affectionate couple Marinette knew (even more so than her mother and father). They had no qualms about PDA, and were even talking about going to London Pride next year during Nath's stay.

Nath was also appallingly bad at social media (something Marinette had been pestering him to get better at), only ever using it to upload photos of his drawings and paintings. He hardly ever posted selfies. No, that all went on Louis' accounts. So, even if people were following Nathanael, they wouldn't know what his eye colour was, let alone he had a boyfriend. Added to the fact that, because Louis didn't attend their school and his university schedule wasn't complimentary, most people were simply unaware that he existed.

Which led Marinette to her problem. She'd mentioned Louis before, in passing, but nothing which would indicate the nature of Nath's relationship with him. It would have been all the proof she needed to tell Alya, to convince her that she was not- in fact- going out with Nathanael again. But she refused to out Nath without his consent, no matter how blasé he was about the whole thing.

Of course she could have said she was Ladybug, and she'd been making out with Chat Noir the past couple of nights, as proof that her and Nath weren't a thing. But that would probably invoke a nuclear explosion somewhere in the vicinity of Alya's apartment, so she decided against that.

"I'm sorry Alya, I should have messaged you back earlier but I was busy! And NO not on a date ok?" she hastened to add when she heard Alya breathe as though she was about to interrupt her.

"Then why were you holding hands?" if she were here right now, Marinette was convinced she'd be receiving a prod on the chest courtesy of Alya's index finger.

"You and I hold hands all the time! I hold hands with Nino sometimes! We're EUROPEAN for god's sake," Marinette whined, spinning her chair around one last time so she could collapse into it with a huff of irritation, "you're making it seem like I- I- had sex with him in the middle of the street or something!"

"Ok, number one: thanks for the reminder of our cultural heritage," Alya retorted, her tone dry and humourless, "And number two: yeah we've held hands, you've held hands with Nino too, but- to counter your point- neither of us have had our tongues down your throat! Our hand holding has always been strictly platonic."

Marinette hit her head against her monitor, wondering how her life had come to this, how she could be stuck arguing with her best friend about the difference between platonic and non-platonic hand holding.

"We never made out!" she defended, indignant, "we didn't even get to that point before it went to hell. And I'm telling you now, Nath and I were holding hands platonically," she knew Alya would be able to hear the quotation marks she'd just made, "he was just happy that he gets to go to London, and wanted to thank me for helping him." Her face slipped further and further down the computer screen- leaving a shiny imprint as she went. "It was platonic drinks between friends. Even Louis was there!"

"Oh," Alya replied, mildly surprised by the new nugget of information "Louis is Nath's friend right?"

Marinette was silent for a moment, casting a sideways glance at Tikki, before she hung her head with a sigh.

"Yeah. His- friend," she lied, "look you and I, and Nath for that matter, know that last summer was a mistake. Neither of us want to go back there, there's no feelings like that ok? When I say we're just friends, that's all we are. I proooomise. Ok?"

When the pressure of the computer screen became too uncomfortable, Marinette lifted her head away from her computer as she waited for Alya to respond. She waited a while.

"Ok," Alya replied softly, "I just don't want to see you hurt. Either of you. You were so upset when it didn't work out."

"I know, I know," Marinette recalled with a wince, "but I think… I think that was less to do with Nath and more to do with myself."

"Totally. I get it girl. I was there," Alya agreed, when suddenly a loud crash echoed through Marinette's speaker, accompanied by a loud squeal and a curse from Alya, "shit look I gotta go, the tweebs are fighting again."

"Good luck," Marinette nodded gravely, understanding just how much trouble Alya's twin brothers could be.

After they'd said their goodnights, Marinette crawled up to her bed with a sigh, sketchbook tucked warily under her arm as she went. She wanted to get a few good sketches in before dinner. Her thoughts wandered to her beloved 'Mecha Wars VIII: Mega Redemption Battle', opting to be responsible for a change, and not show up to Chat's patrol. A good night of rest, and kicking the ever loving crud out of the evil space robots from her favourite fighting game, seemed like the best recipe for relaxing. As much as she wanted to go and see Chat, a part of her knew that she couldn't neglect herself because of her new-found love.

"Are you alright Marinette?" Tikki questioned, landing on her knee. Marinette nodded, humming. As much as she loved Tikki, she didn't feel like speaking at that moment in time. Tikki caught on to her mood, and floated away to give her privacy.

Twenty minutes later, Marinette tossed her pencil away angrily, a frustrated growl escaping her lips. The pencil landed at the edge of the bed, where it bounced unsatisfactorily. She sighed, flopping backwards, until her back rested against the mattress. Grabbing her sketchbook, she held it above her head, at arm's length, wrinkling her nose at the smudged remains of drawings she'd erased. No good. Nothing was coming out like she wanted to.

Just as she was about to put the sketchbook down, it slipped from her grasp and smacked her in the face. For a moment she just let it lie there, the remnants of her artistic failure against her the failure that was her face.

That was how her mother found her to call her to dinner.

Her parents picked up on her sulking, and dinner was uneventful and awkward because of it. Marinette could tell her parents wanted to ask what was wrong, but knew better than to pressure and prod for an answer. She'd never been so grateful for that.

After dinner she sat against her chaise, head lolling to the side as she stared unblinkingly at the skyline beyond the round glass window. A dull ache resonated in her chest, an old wound that hadn't quite healed. She sighed, closing her eyes…

It wasn't that she didn't love Nathanael, she did. She loved him so much. The same way she loved Alya, the same way she loved Nino; a deep bond that could only be formed from a choice- the choice to let these people into your heart. Of course she loved Nath, he was one of her closest friends, her art buddy, the only one that could sympathise with her fashion struggles- who was also awake at three am when inspiration struck. He'd help her with wrist exercises and she was his model when he was stuck on a pose. They shared each other's successes, supported the other when they doubted their abilities (which was often). He was a huge part of her life, a part separate from saving Paris, or sharing gossip with Alya, or singing in the car with Nino…

And last Summer she'd almost irreversibly screwed that up.

Adrien had left that summer, touring Italy with his father, Chat Noir was off visiting family. Alya was busy looking after her siblings, and Nino had a part time job at a pharmacy (which he utterly loathed). The days had blurred, one lonely boring day after another. But Nath had been there, just as bored as she'd been…and her thoughts had turned dangerous.

Why, she'd thought, was she wasting time pining after Adrien? She was angry, furious, disappointed with her years of longing. It was pathetic, she'd thought, she was pathetic. But Nathanael... Nathanael was always there for her, always making her laugh, always there to cheer her up when she was feeling down. They had so much in common, and she knew he'd had a crush on her a while back, and he was pretty darn cute too.

It was on a mid-August night, that Nathanael had come to hang out after the bakery had closed. They were out on her balcony; Nathanael was laughing at a snarky remark she'd made. The night was warm, Paris looked fondly upon the pair, the lanterns wrapped around her chimney made it seem like some sort of fairy-tale. All she could think about was how easy it seemed, how she didn't have to doubt and worry about Nathanael's feelings, how she never stuttered around him…

So she'd kissed him.

Marinette groaned into her hands, the memory had replayed over and over in her brain for months afterwards, as one of those moments she wanted to go back and scream at herself- yank herself away from Nath's lips.

It was such a nothing kiss too, sweet and chaste, but her heart was slamming against her ribs, her breath short and shaky from her own daring.

But he'd kissed back. He'd been surprised, but he'd kissed back.

What followed was two weeks of confusion, of trips to the movies, of coffee lunches which neither of them were a hundred percent sure were dates because both of them were too nervous to talk about it. They kissed a bit, they held hands, they did everything a normal new couple did. But it just felt off. Their once easy conversations seemed stilted, forced. It was like missing a step climbing up stairs, or waking up to find all the furniture in your room had been moved an inch to the left. Their relationship was off-kilter and there was only one way to fix it.

It had been the most awkward talk of her life. Marinette was no stranger to awkward encounters, but this one left her feeling hollow, like a chunk of her heart was carved out.

They decided to stay friends. Both of them agreed it was too weird and they were better off the way things were.

Marinette wasn't being hyperbolic when she'd said to Alya that it had been the worst summer of her life. All she'd wanted was to forget her hopeless, pointless crush on Adrien, all she'd wanted was to feel like someone wanted her for her. Someone who didn't want her Ladybug self, but Marinette- her silly side, the one that could afford to make mistakes and made them often. The side who could swear and make daring jokes, the side who could be a silly teen with spots and bad hair days. The side of her away from the scrutiny of millions of eyes. But she didn't just want to be loved, she wanted to love too.

Sure she loved Adrien, but she loved him from afar. She wanted someone to dote on, to make cookies and compliment, to tell them they were doing a great job, to shower them with praise and kisses. To make them feel better on bad days, to have silly arguments with. She wanted it, to be love and be loved, to be cherish and be cherished, she wanted it so badly that she physically ached. For a brief flash of time, she'd unfairly forced these goals onto Nathanael's shoulders, grasping at straws, desperate for someone to look at her, really look at her.

It had been a mistake. She didn't love Nathanael that way, she never had and never would, and it was her fault that they didn't speak for months- until Alya finally gave up and locked them in the art cupboard so they could talk things through. That moment, coupled with Nath meeting Louis, had finally brought some semblance of normality back to their relationship. Somehow, miraculously, they had survived the awkwardness and come out stronger.

Somewhere in the midst of her recollections, Marinette had fallen into a fitful sleep. She woke up around midnight, drained and frustrated with herself for feeling down. Really, she reminded herself, she had a lot to feel thankful for. The past was the past and she had to stop beating herself up for mistakes she'd been too naïve to realise she'd been making at the time.

Tikki was asleep on her bed, and she didn't want to wake the Kwami, so she decided to go for a walk as her civilian self. The Trocadero was calling to her and, despite it being unreasonable, a part of her hoped she'd find a certain someone there.

Before she left, she wrote Tikki a note explaining where she was, in case she woke up and wanted to find her. As her hand lingered on the latch to her room, she glanced at the red hoodie hanging up on her coat rack. She swallowed, staring it down for a few moments, before thinking better of it and climbing out of her room, closing the latch shut behind her.

With every footstep her heartbeat thundered. She felt herself pulled, like a dream, through the calm otherworldly presence of Paris after midnight. A part of her regretted not showing up to surprise Chat on his solo patrol, too wrapped up in her own self-pity to appreciate what she current had. It's not like she had gotten any work done- regardless of how responsible she'd tried to be.

She hoped he'd be there, but why would he be? His patrol was long since finished, he was probably back in his home, asleep like any normal human being. She was ridiculous, utterly ridiculous. Besides, she mused as she subconsciously quickened her pace, even if he wasn't there- at least the Trocadero might offer her some inspiration. Lord knows she needed it, the page of her sketchbook was still as blank as ever.

Without realising, Marinette had practically broken out into a sprint. The reasonable part of her mind was asking why, what purpose did this serve? He wasn't going to be there, it screamed as she rounded the corner and dashed up the stone steps, he wasn't-

The world stilled as she came to a halt, the flat marble plains of the Trocadero glinting against the lights of the city. As quickly as her heart had been beating, it fell quiet. She gave a small gasp.

It was him, sitting in the exact same spot where he'd found her earlier that week.

Marinette wanted to rub her eyes, to pinch herself, to check if she really was dreaming.

But she wasn't.

After a couple of breaths, it truly sunk in.

He was there.

Chat Noir was there.


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

Part 15 of 35

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