Continuing Tales


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

Part 21 of 35

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Marinette didn't expect to be woken up by a screech, or a pillow hitting her face. But then again, she hadn't expected a lot of things that had happened to her recently. A pillow was the least of her problems.

She groaned, sitting up in Alya's bed as the fluffy weapon tumbled onto her lap. After they'd left the hospital, Alya had insisted that Marinette needed some girl time- to get her head clear of boys. Marinette heartily agreed. Amongst the drama of her love life, her seemingly never-ending studies and the regular stream of akumas, Marinette's down time with her best friend had severely declined. So she'd sent a quick text to her parents when they'd left the hospital, saying goodbye to Nathanael and Louis in the process, and Nino had walked them back home before heading to his place.

They, of course, had stayed up far too late watching dumb movies and painting each other's nails, and the talk had turned to boys before they could help themselves. One boy in particular. Between them, they came up with a plan of action for the spa. Alya called it 'Operation: Dork Love' and Marinette had deliberately messed up painting one of her nails in retaliation. She'd fixed it though…eventually, after enough pouting from Alya.

"What?" Marinette managed to mumble, never one to be a morning person despite being a bakers' daughter. "Wazzamatter?"

Alya was frantic, racing about the room and cussing under her breath. Marinette tried not to look directly at her, she was making her dizzy.

"What? WHAT? Look at the time butt munch!" Alya squawked, throwing another pillow at her. Marinette managed to dodge this one, ducking under the projectile and grabbing her phone to check the time.

Her eyes widened in horror and she let out an unholy squeal, scrambling out of the bed, only to get tangled in the bedsheets and hit the floor with a dull thud.

Alya didn't even look at her, let alone check she was ok.

Getting ready was a hectic affair, and waking up late was not in their best interests considering 'Operation: Dork Love' (damn why did the name stick?) and besides, Marinette was already nervous enough as it was. She needed time to make herself look good. Why did life constantly throw her best laid plans under the bus?

After a brief wrestling match over the bathroom mirror, which Alya won, they hurried around the apartment, making sure they had everything they needed. Alya would be driving them to the spa, using her mother's rarely-used Love Bug (a name whose irony was not lost on Marinette); a beat up, mid-noughties Volkswagen Beetle- red of course. None of them wanted to catch the train after a day of spa bliss, it seemed counter-productive.

Before picking up the boys, they needed to drive to Marinette's place so she could change clothes and grab her spa things. Alya seemed want to make up for lost time by attempting to break the sound barrier.

"Would you SLOW DOWN?!" Marinette yelped as Alya sped around a corner at almost Tokyo-drift levels of insanity. "I'd like to live today you know! I don't need death getting in the way of my love life too!"

"Do you want time to make yourself look nice?" Alya yelled beeping her horn and cussing out a student driver. "What are you doing?" she asked, looking over at Marinette making, who was making the sign of the cross.

"Praying," Marinette replied, ending the sign by closing her eyes. She was grateful they hadn't had any breakfast yet, as she was certain she would have lost it by now. "Eyes on the road, I'm begging you."

"You aren't even religious!" Alya cried, affronted, as she narrowly missed a cyclist. "My driving isn't that bad."


When they finally reached the bakery both girls were stressed, frazzled, and on the verge of murder.

Tom, of course, laughed as soon as he saw them.

"Rough morning ladies?" he teased, offering them a few pastries.

"Don't Papa," Marinette moaned as Alya grabbed a croissant, shovelling it stressfully into her mouth, flecks of pastry flying everywhere. "Just don't."

The rest of the morning, thankfully, went a lot smoother after that. Fresh croissants and some herbal teas worked wonders on their nerves. It also helped that Nino texted, offering to hop on the metro and meet them at Marinette's before they picked up Adrien, which saved them a lot of time in the Saturday traffic. Thanks to his generous gesture, they were no longer running late, though Marinette had to put up with a lot of gushing from Alya about how awesome her boyfriend was. She couldn't blame her though, after all how many times had Alya been there to support her through the mess of her own love life?

As a peace offering for their earlier nonsense, Alya offered to do Marinette's makeup. Light of course, and waterproof, as they'd be going into the Jacuzzis after playing tennis and Marinette would rather not look like her face was melting off when revealing that she was Ladybug.

The realisation smacked her in the stomach with a rusty knuckleduster.


It was TODAY.

The day they'd finally know each other. No more secrets. No more misunderstandings. Adrien and Marinette. Chat and Ladybug. Separate no more.

She felt like she was going throw up. In a good way. The whole night before she'd been plagued with dreams of rejection, of Adrien turning away from her with disappointment in his eyes. But Marinette knew better that to let those insecurities take a firm hold. Like any girl that firm fear of rejection was deeply engrained. Still, she refused to let them overwhelm her. She knew Adrien. Adrien…her Chat Noir. Her sweet, kind, loyal kitty. As nervous as she was she knew he'd never turn his back on her, knew what she'd said to him last night was reciprocated. She just had to keep reminding herself of that every time her anxieties flared up and she felt the urge to abandon ship.

"If you don't stop fidgeting, you're going to have panda-eyes," Alya warned as she did Marinette's mascara, her tongue poking out in concentration even as it tutted in disapproval. "It's ok though, I get it. You're nervous right?"

Marinette smiled, looking around her room but keeping her head still, lest she ruin Alya's efforts. Tonight she'd return here. Her bed would be waiting for her, the same as always. Photos of her friends would smile up at her, the cat cushions would be ready for cuddles, a pile of laundry would still be there for her to wash. Everything would be just as she left it.

Everything would be the same, and yet completely different.

"You have no idea," she whispered.

It wasn't long before Nino joined them and, after saying a quick goodbye to her parents and grabbing an extra box of cookies for Nino- proof that she'd definitely forgiven him- they were on their way. The journey was a lot smoother now they weren't in a rush and Alya was concentrating on the road, no trace of her road rage in sight.

"Oh by the way Mari," Nino asked as they stopped at a red light, a few minutes away from Adrien's house, "did Adrien ever talk to you?"

Marinette frowned, mostly because it was difficult to understand what he was saying. His mouth was stuffed with at least three cookies ("more flavourful that way").

"Try that again, babe, in French this time," Alya chuckled tapping her fingers against the steering wheel and keeping eagle-eyes on the traffic light.

Nino swallowed the cookies and repeated his question, causing Marinette's frown to deepen. Had Nino known that Adrien was going to confess to her? That didn't seem right. Adrien's confession seemed so out of the blue, not planned at all. It still made her stomach dance the waltz with her appendix, but that was beside the point. How could Nino have known about it?

"What do you mean?" She asked cautiously, playing with the hem of her white tennis dress.

Nino twizzled around in his seat, shotgun of course, to look back at her curiously. He pulled a face, arms pinning to his sides as though he was unsure if he should say anything.

"Last night, you said Adrien talked to you on the phone right? Did he mention the thing he wanted to speak to you about?" He asked eventually, deciding it was safe. "Now that you sort-of cleared up that you aren't dating Nath, I thought he would. I don't know what it was, but I figured he must've forgot 'cause of all the craziness of the past couple of days. I guess from your reaction that he hasn't said anything. Maybe you should mention it today when you guys talk, to make sure everything is super-cleared up? Or maybe it was something dumb I don't know… I just want to make sure you guys are really ok."

"My nosiness is rubbing off on you," Alya chuckled, starting the car with a lurch when the light finally turned green. Marinette briefly wondered how Nino knew about the plan, before realising duh, Alya. "I love it. Hope he tells you the thing he wanted to tell you Mari."

Marinette did not miss Alya wiggling her eyebrows at her in the rear-view mirror. She blushed in response, losing herself to the nagging feeling in the back of her mind.

"Wait," she said, recalling a memory and sitting up straight, "when did you say he wanted to talk to me?"

"It was Thursday after school, right before we saw you with Nath," Nino replied, wiping some cookie crumbs off of his chin. In order to get to Marinette's on time, he'd had to skip shaving. As a result, there was a thin, dark layer of stubble on his jawline which he rubbed impatiently. "Now that I think about it, it definitely looked important. He almost knocked me over trying to get to you- acting all excited and stuff. Why?"

"No reason," Marinette whispered, breathlessly slumping backwards in her seat and looking out of her window.

Inside she was screaming.

No… it couldn't be. It couldn't be possible. Could it?

The thoughts raced around her head, the possibilities.

She knew Chat Noir was smart, that Adrien was smart. Heck, he was insanely intelligent. It's one of the things which made him such a good partner, that he was able to understand and read the situation on a different level to her. Despite the fact that she was the strategist of the two, it took someone with a lot of mental cunning to understand and follow her ideas so readily.

So could it be? Could Adrien have figured it out? Had he discovered who she was, only to have the revelation mired by misunderstandings? As they drove closer and closer towards Adrien's house, Marinette's mind became more frantic. Raking over her memories as though they were a map leading to a lost-lost treasure, Marinette searched for any clue during that Thursday which might indicate he'd found out who she was. He'd certainly acted normal when she saw him in the common ro-


The drawing.

He must have seen her doodle of Chat Noir. She'd tried to cover it, however obviously, but it seemed to no avail.

It wasn't that much of a stretch was it? He'd figured out that they went to the same school, he'd asked her what her favourite colour was even before that. It made sense that things would finally click into place. Especially after she's denied being Chat's fangirl yet drawn a picture of him surrounded by love hearts.

She knew that she was jumping to conclusions- but the evidence before her eyes was overwhelming, especially recalling Chat's visible sadness at the end of their midnight adventure. Still, if it was the case, if he'd really figured out who she was, and his first instinct was to almost knock Nino over in his excitement to find her…

She wanted to cry. She wanted to talk. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted him.

"You ok back there Mari?" Nino asked as the pulled to a stop at Adrien's house, and Marinette let out a loud gasp. "It's going to be ok you know that right?"

Somehow, incredibly, Marinette found the strength to shoot Nino a wobbly smile. Perhaps it was the encouraging, if dorky, thumbs up her shot her- the way he seemed to radiate confidence on her behalf. She was lucky to have a friend like him.

"So who's going to ring the bell of doom?" Alya asked, with a shudder. "I did it last time."

"I'm not doing it. Never again. The last time I did, Adrien's dad almost banned me from the house a second time," Nino argued, his face turning a sickly shade of green at the memory. "That secretary woman is badass, but terrifying."

The pair of them turned around to face Marinette in the back seat, and Marinette was strongly reminded of her parents. She knew the looks they were sending her way, and sighed.

"Ok I'm going."

"Be nice to lover boy!" Alya teased. Marinette responded by slamming her door harder than necessary and, in further retaliation, Alya beeped the car horn several times in a taunting tune.

Marinette chose to ignore it. Traipsing towards the large gates of the Agreste Mansion, Marinette took a deep breath to steady herself.

It was no good. Nothing could quell the trembling of her fingers as she reached up to press the intercom.

"Plagg, hurry up and get in the bag, they're almost here!"

"In a minute, I haven't finished my breakfast."

Adrien stopped checking the contents of his bag to run an exasperated hand through his hair. He shot a pout Plagg's way, which the kwami ignored, and was about to scold him for being a pain when he heard it.

The intercom.

In an instant, he grabbed an unsuspecting Plagg and shoved him in the bag with the rest of the cheese. Ignoring Plagg's curses, he pulled the strap over his head and dashed out the door towards Nathalie's office, hoping to stop the interrogation she knew she'd give one of the three friends.

He burst through the door just as Nathalie pressed the button in response. The monitor faced away from him, so he was unaware who out of the three had lost the battle in facing his father's ruthless assistant.

"Who is it?" she asked, her voice dripping with ice, making Adrien wince for the faintest of seconds, before a voice responded from the speakers and his heart almost gave out.

"Um- h-hello, it's Marinette! Adrien's… umm friend?"

Nathalie glanced over at Adrien, eyebrow arched. Adrien flushed red in response, embarrassed by everything that eyebrow quirk implied. Were they- was he- that obvious?

Once upon a time, Adrien might have been giddy over Marinette calling him a friend. But now that giddiness was replaced with something else. A yearning for something more. Especially after last night, especially with the knowledge which kept him up at night with a hopeful smile and a timid fluttering in his heart.

Maybe he hadn't been wrong?

Well, it looked like he was going to find out soon.

He marched forwards, pressing the button to open the gate before Nathalie could stop him, and pressed the button for the intercom.

"Hey Marinette, it's me! I'll be down in a second."

As he ran through the house, he felt a wave of rebelliousness sweep through him. Needing to get at least some nervous energy out, he leapt forwards, sliding down the bannister with a laugh.

He could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter where the journey took him, he had faith. Faith in his friends, faith in his miraculous, in himself, and most importantly- in Marinette.

After the past few days, it was a welcome relief, to feel such utter trust in her comforting words.

"You'll never lose me."

And there she was. The world seemed to float away as Adrien strolled through the front entrance of the mansion, Marinette waiting right there for him as the gates parted to let him through.

Adrien was, first and foremost, a romantic. He owed it to many years of loneliness, with nothing but his imagination and a myriad of tv shows to accompany him through his dull, grey life. As he approached her, he knew the world wasn't really slowing down, that time didn't stop to allow him a moment to truly appreciate this kind, wonderful girl in his life. He knew this. But it didn't stop him feeling it. It didn't stop his heart beating so hard he thought it might explode at her impossibly blue eyes, made even bluer by her adorable white, tennis outfit.

He knew souls couldn't really call out to each other, but that didn't stop his own singing for hers.

"Hey," he said, breathless, hoping, knowing.

"Hey," she replied biting her lip, her eyes searching, blinking slowly. He grinned in response, unsure what she was searching for but appreciating her looking regardless.

He was, however, completely unprepared for the beam with burst onto her face like the sun poking through the clouds- eliminating the last of the shadows plaguing his mind in one fell swoop. For a moment he was sure the Earth had tilted, that he was standing in the sky.

Before he could do what he fully expected (which was pass out), she reached forward, eagerly taking his hands in her own.

"Come on!" she cried with a giggle that would surely end him, tugging him towards Alya's parked car. "The sooner we get there, the sooner we can kick Alya and Nino's butt, right tennis partner?"

He did not miss the way she said partner.

Adrien was glad he had her hands grounding him to the earth, for he was sure that he would float away without her. So he followed her lead as she spun around, almost skipping down the pavement, her twin tails bobbing excitedly.

Twin tails…

Adrien smiled.

As they walked into the spa, all four of their jaws hit the floor.

Alya was the first to speak.

"Holy shit," she uttered, in absolutely awe. "I know my cousin said it was going to be a fancy spa but this? This is another level of swanky."

"I feel so poor right now." Nino gasped, his glasses dropping towards the tip of his nose as he gazed at the chandelier decorating the vast entrance hall.

Marinette couldn't help but agree. The entrance hall alone was pristine white, shining marble as far as the eye could see. Plush sofas and a roaring fireplace served as a waiting area, they even had a bookshelf filled with everything from classic novels, to the latest fashion magazines. The sheer amount of glass tables festooned with flowers was bordering on obscene and, despite the number of people, everyone was quiet enough to hear what Marinette could only describe as 'plinky-plunky' music.

She was about to ask Nino what the style of music was actually called when a young man, roughly their age, approached them with a hospitable smile.

"Welcome to Medina Spa," he greeted, pale hands neatly folded behind his back, "my name is Sebastian and I'll be taking care of your check-in for you. Please. This way."

Adrien, used to these types of situations, was the first to react. Stepping forwards, he glanced over his shoulder and peered at the others with a curious frown, innocent as to why they were rooted to the spot.

Marinette shook her head, snapping herself out of it, and hurried forwards to the check-in desk. In her haste she almost tripped over her own feet but was saved as Adrien's arms came flying out to steady her.

They shared a look, both of them lost in memories. Marinette didn't miss the way Adrien's arms tightened around her. It was only for a second, but she knew.

"Ok love birds, break it up," Alya chuckled, cutting her own arm through the pair of them in a karate-chop motion. "There'll be plenty of time for goo-goo eyes once we get checked in."

They approached the imposing desk, which stood almost up to Marinette's neck in height, as Alya presented the spa-pass codes to Sebastian.

After a few minutes of awkward mumbling, Sebastian looked at them with a nervous smile.

"Ah s-sorry," he stammered, as though he expected them to start yelling, "I'm not used to this system and it's been acting up all day. Please bear with me."

Watching Sebastian flounder, Marinette felt a wave of sympathy wash over her. She, too, had had her fair share of troubles when it came to registers and computers.

"It's ok!" she reassured, standing on tip toes to make sure he could see her face. "I know what it's like, my parents own a bakery and you seriously did not want to be there the day the card reader stopped working. It was chaos. Take your time."

Sebastian's shoulders slumped and he let out an exhale, his brown eyes glossy with relief.

"Thanks," he replied, eyes raking over her and Marinette was unsure if she should feel uncomfortable or not. The moment passed and Sebastian was back to typing away at the keyboard. "You wouldn't believe the number of people that have zero patience. You'd think everyone would be calm, because it's a spa and all, but apparently not."

"We're with you my guy," Nino added, leaning on the counter with an ease which his height could grant him. "I worked at a pharmacy last summer and boy did that suck. Some of those little old ladies have a great throwing arm." He shuddered at the memory.

Sebastian glanced over at the group, for reasons Marinette couldn't understand, before offering a quick smile. After a few more taps, his computer pinged cheerfully.

"There you are, you're all checked in!" He said, also letting them know where the changing rooms were as well as the tennis courts and Jacuzzi pools. "I'm afraid you're a little early, so you'll have to wait about ten minutes for your court to be free. It's expected to rain later on, so everyone booked the early slots for the tennis courts. I hope you can understand."

When they all reassured him that it was fine, and none of them minded the wait, he breathed out another sigh of relief, running his hands through his carefully combed hair.

"Excellent, enjoy your stay. I hope you two couples will leave today feeling happy and relaxed."

Marinette didn't need to see Alya and Nino to know the smug looks they were sending her and Adrien's way. However, she did see Adrien turn at least three shades of red, and was sure she wasn't that far behind.

"Oh- that's- we're not quite-" Adrien stammered, "thanks though."

"Y-yeah, it's not like that," Marinette denied, uncomfortable with divulging the odd line her and Adrien were toeing and a little annoyed at Sebastian's assumptions. She was sure he didn't mean any harm in it though.

Sebastian rubbed his jawline curiously, looking at her again.

"Really?" he said and it was less of a question, more of a statement. His welcoming, professional smile was long gone, replaced with a flirtatious smirk as he leaned his torso towards her. "Well regardless, I hope you have a pleasant day."

Adrien frowned.

"H-hey, Mari," he stammered, tugging the sleeve of her tennis dress lightly whilst trying to ignore the sudden unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach, "we should go find a spot to wait for our court."

Grateful for the excuse to get away from Sebastian's sudden creep-factor, Marinette left with a friendly goodbye. Alya, excited to finally get onto the court, linked elbows with Marinette, dragging her ahead of the boys, who lagged behind.

When they were out of earshot of Sebastian and the girls, Nino turned to Adrien with a miffed expression.

"Did you see the way that guy was looking at Mari? Like she was some sort of object, it was super gross. Maybe we should report him?"

Adrien shrugged.

"Nah, I doubt Marinette would want us to make a scene like that. Besides she didn't seem too bothered by it," He replied, attempting to un-grit his teeth.

You were bothered by it though, his brain supplied helpfully. He ignored the thought.

"That's true I guess," Nino countered with a bob of his head. "We should keep an eye on the guy though. I know Mari can handle herself better than a lot of us, but still. Can't hurt to make sure things don't get weird right?"

Adrien agreed and the pair followed the girls out of the large automatic doors. Sebastian hadn't lied about the spa being busy. The entrance building was set on top of a hill, offering panoramic views of the countryside on the left and the city centre on the right. He couldn't even blame Sebastian for assuming Marinette and Adrien were a couple (hoo boy), as there were couples everywhere. Couples holding hands, couples laughing, even one or two couples that looked annoyed with each other- the spa day clearly not working out for them.

Feeling a brief sense of guilt, Adrien searched for his phone in his tennis shorts. It hadn't buzzed in a while, and he hoped it wouldn't. They weren't too far away, the car journey only long due to the traffic, but he still hoped no akumas would make an appearance today of all days. He really needed this spa day.

A loud holler snapped him out of his worrisome thoughts and he turned towards the source of the noise.

A tall, tanned man, in bright orange tracksuit bottoms and a white tank top, was hurrying over to Marinette and Alya. He was running up the hill towards them, bounding over the cobblestone steps in his haste, and knocking a few lavender plants. Following close behind was… Nathanael?

Adrien's heart sank.

No, he thought with a rough shake of his head and squashing his impulsive anxieties flat, Marinette said there was nothing going on between the two of them. I trust her. Completely.

"Marinette you are finally here!" the mysterious man smiled, and it seemed as though he was smiling from his very soul, grabbing Marinette's hand and shaking it tight. "Nathanael and I have been wondering where you all were!"

Alya swivelled around, wiggling her eyebrows at Adrien. Meanwhile, as Nathanael caught up and the group began exchanging greetings, Adrien felt as though he'd skipped a chapter or two of a story he'd been reading.

Was he missing something?

When the tanned man noticed Adrien, nervously fidgeting on the fringes of the group circle, he stepped forward. Throwing a friendly arm around Adrien's shoulders, the stranger gave him a friendly shake, laughing heartily.

"Ah so you must be Adrien Agreste no?" he asked, puffing out his chest. For some strange reason, even though Adrien was completely lost, he couldn't help but smile back at him. He was obviously a friend of Marinette's, and seemed (very) friendly, so Adrien offered a shy nod.

"This is Louis," Marinette said, a faint blush against her cheeks, and once again Adrien thought that he was missing something- that Louis was someone important.

"Nice to meet you," Adrien supplied, remembering his manners.

Louis' smile became wider in response.

"Oh how polite. You chose well Marinette! A model with manners," he threw his head back and chuckled, arm tightening around Adrien- who had turned rather red at his insinuation. Louis peered over at Adrien with a sly grin, "but speaking of models, don't you think Marinette would make a splendid one herself? She looks so cute!"

Alya had to bite her fist to stop herself from bursting into laughter as both Marinette and Adrien stammered, unable to form coherent sentences. Nino, ever the bro, pretended to be on his phone (unbeknownst to Adrien, he was actually taking photos of Adrien's bemused expression for later blackmail purposes).

"Lou you are so extra today," Nath replied with a shake of his head, yanking Louis away from Adrien and linking his fingers through his own, the stitches on his forearm clearly visible. He turned to Adrien with an apologetic smile. "Sorry Adrien, my boyfriend has zero boundaries."

The record-scratch in Adrien's brain was so loud, he was surprised nobody else seemed to hear it.

"Your boyfriend?" He replied with a tilt of the head. If he wasn't confused before…

Louis nodded eagerly.

"Yes!" he replied and, as if to prove it, he brought Nathanael's hand to his lips to give it a brief kiss. Nathanael giggled, honest to god giggled. "We have been dating almost a year, but it feels as though we've known each other for an eternity- Marinette introduced us! It's all because of her that we're together."

Marinette frowned, and was about to open her mouth to correct them when Alya kicked her ankle- shaking her head. After a second of two, she caught on to what they were doing, and turned to Adrien with bright eyes of understanding.

"Yeah, I introduced them," she said, feeling a little guilty for the white lie. It wasn't like she'd introduced them in the traditional sense, but she had asked Nathanael to accompany her to a university open day, which happened to be where they'd met Louis- who'd been volunteering to show potential students around the campus. So she supposed it was sort of true. "I knew they'd hit it off."

Adrien swallowed thickly, the cogs in his brain finally clicking into place as Marinette fixed him with a knowing glance. It was as if she was trying to get him to understand, trying to reach into his heart and sew it together again after the events of the past few days.

It was working. It was working too well.

Is this what a stroke feels like?

"Bro?" Nino was waving a hand in front of his face, "Adrien? You in there?"

Alya couldn't help it anymore, she burst out laughing.

"I can't- this is too much for me," she said in between snorts. Turning to Nathanael and Louis, she offered them a salute, "I'm gonna go grab our tennis court before they give it away, ciao buddies!"

"Ciao!" Louis replied as Alya made her way down the steps, Nino close behind. "Now that I think about it, we don't want to be late to our couple's massage! See you later, lovelies, and try not to get frisky in the Jacuzzi."

Before anyone could respond to his outrageous remark, Louis swept Nathanael off his feet. Nathanael squealed, his legs flailing.

"LOUIS!" He cried, mortified.

"Out of the way people we have an injured man coming through!" Louis replied, marching back into the building.

"Louis it's my arm that's injured, not my leg!" Nathanael's whole body seemed to turn red, but he was the laughing nonetheless. Louis ignored him, and continued to carry Nathanael as though he was as damsel in distress.

Marinette waved as the pair disappeared from sight, her ease fading once she realised her and Adrien were alone. Once again she compared Louis to a human hurricane, how Nathanael had any energy left after a day with him- she'd never understand.

Despite the fact she could barely look at him, she felt Adrien shift closer to her, his chest almost bumping against her shoulder.

"So…um," he began, awkwardly clearing his throat, "that was Nathanael's boyfriend."

Marinette nodded, taking a deep breath.

"Yeah," she replied, "I'm really glad he found someone. It helped us get over what happened." She turned to Adrien, inwardly cringing at what she was about to say, but reminding herself that she was talking about her past, and facing her future. She wrapped a shy hand around her bicep. "We sort of had a tiny thing last summer, but it wasn't like we were dating or anything. It was so awkward that whatever it could have been ended before it began."

"Oh…" was all Adrien could say in response, feeling more like an idiot by the moment.

"You know," Marinette piped up, leaning closer to him, "if you were wondering about it, you could have asked me. You can talk to me about anything."

Adrien shuffled awkwardly, hanging his head, and Marinette watched him- seeing more and more of Chat in his mannerisms by the moment. She fought the impulsive part of her, the part which wanted to ruffle his hair, make it messy and Chat-like. There were more important things to attend to.

"I- I didn't think it was place to," he admitted bashfully, still not meeting her eyes. When she giggled nervously, however, his heart fluttered and he found the courage to look up at her. "I didn't want to offend you. B-but, I promise I'll talk to you from now on about this stuff."

Your tongue's been in my mouth, and you didn't think it was your place to ask me about someone I may or may not have dated, she thought, trying not to shake her head in exasperation. Despite her amusement, she couldn't deny the warmth which spread through her chest at how sweet he was being. Besides, he didn't KNOW his tongue had been in her mouth. For the time being at least.

Operation: Dork Love had a secret route, one which Alya didn't know about, and it wasn't time for that particular reveal yet- not when the tennis court was waiting for them.

"That's good," she replied with a playful wink, and Adrien blushed again, "but right now I think it's about time we go kick Alya and Nino's butts right?"

Marinette turned around heading down the steps with a spring in her step, but stopped when Adrien called out to her.

When she turned around, he was fumbling for something in his bag, almost slipping down the steps as he caught up to her simultaneously.

"Um, I got this for you," he mumbled shyly reaching his arm out towards her.

In his hand was a tennis racket.

Marinette blinked, slowly taking the racket from him. Their fingers brushed. An umbrella came to mind.

She turned the racket over in her hands, admiring its weight. Marinette wasn't one to know much about sports equipment, but it looked and felt expensive. The racket itself was black, the handle adorned with pink swirls and little flower patterns. In the centre of the handle was an engraved looping letter- the letter M.

"You told me your favourite colour was pink," he stammered as Marinette continued to gape at his gift, "and I wondered if you had your own racket or not, so I- I bought this at the start of the week just in case. Look. I have my own. So we- umm- match."

He brought out his own racket, black with blue swirls and the letter A in the same style as Marinette's. If she hadn't known Adrien was Chat Noir, she might have died at this gesture. But it was different now, she was different. Was she flustered? Yes. Did she have to clutch her chest just to double check her heart wasn't going to give out? Of course. But she was strangely at peace too.

Crushes, Marinette mused, are heady. They're dizzying, electrifying, they're up and ready to go all the time. Crushes, she thought, are breathless, boundless, like downing ten espressos in a row.

She knew she had a crush on him, and the crush would never go away even if it faded over time. But she loved him too, and love was calming and eternal, love was the steady rock against the crush's stormy sea. It was a delicate, ever changing balance, leaving her standing perfectly steady one moment and dancing on jelly legs the next.

She wouldn't swap the feeling for anything.

Although that didn't stop her briefly panicking, before remembering that she had said she liked pink both as Ladybug and as Marinette. She hummed, relieved her revelation was still going the way she'd planned.

What was it she'd told him the night this had all started? She mused before remembering. She told him she liked pink, that she wanted to work in fashion, that she didn't want him to stop flirting with her.

She couldn't help herself. Forgetting that she wasn't supposed to know he was Chat, Marinette leaned up on her toes, pressing her lips against his cheek. Just as she'd done the night she'd given him those first three clues.

He leaned into it her touch, closing his eyes.

When she pulled away, the crush side of her feelings came back in full force as his green eyes lit up, both embarrassed and thrilled. Her lips tingled, and she fought the urge to kiss him properly. Later.

"Thank you," she said, grabbing his hand and calling him partner for a second time that day, leading him down the steps towards the tennis courts. Once again he followed her unflinchingly. "Come on, we've got a game to win."


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

Part 21 of 35

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