Marinette was in her room after school. She was thinking about what happened with Chloé, who had verbally attacked Aurore Beauréal about once being the akumatized villain Stormy Weather. When Marinette came to Aurore's defense, Chloé teased her about stuttering over Adrien and said she would never change.
"Chloé might not be completely wrong, you know, Tikki. I haven't changed. Look at how I always fail when I try to have a basic conversation with Adrien. As soon as I'm in front of him, my heart starts beating like crazy and my words come tumbling out, making no sense whatsoever. It seems like I'm paralyzed."
They discussed Adrien for a while. Tikki reminded Marinette of several things she had done with him: going to the movies, playing video games, and fencing together.
"Adrien has become a true friend," Tikki said.
"You're right! Adrien's become a friend who I can talk to about anything. Except when it comes to my feelings for him," said Marinette.
"It's better than nothing, though, isn't it?"
"Can you still be in love with someone even after they become your friend? Do you think I'll ever be able to tell him that he means much more to me than just a friend?"
Tikki gave her a look that Marinette took as encouraging.
Marinette got to work copying out Adrien's schoolwork by hand. Then she did her own homework that was due the next day.
She had just finished when there was a huge rumbling sound and the sky turned dark and red. Marinette looked out the window and saw an enormous volcano. Stormy Weather hovered in the sky.
"Tikki, spots on!"
Stormy Weather shouted, and the wind carried her voice a long way: "I'm going to use this volcano to move the Earth away from the Sun. Soon the world will plunge into a perpetual winter, and Earthlings will be nothing but frozen food. Then you'll realize just how powerful I really am."
With an evil laugh she called down bolts of lightning.
Ladybug and Chat Noir watched from a rooftop.
"Can she really do that?" asked Chat Noir.
Ladybug thought it was impossible by the laws of physics to move the Earth using a small volcano, but this was magic.
"Probably," Ladybug said. "But don't worry, Kitty. We're not gonna let her rain on Paris' parade."
"Hey! Was that a pun I heard, m'Lady?"
"Yep. A little change is good, don't you think?" said Ladybug as she started swinging away towards Stormy Weather.
"I love that girl!" said Chat, following her.
Stormy Weather flew towards Le Grand Paris Hotel. She had a personal score to settle before plunging the world into winter. She saw Ladybug and Chat Noir following, and sent winds to slow them down. She would deal with them later.
Chloé was on the roof of the hotel. She had turned on her "bee signal" light to attract Ladybug so that she could become Queen Bee again. Had Chloé only persecuted her this morning in hopes of seeing some superhero action? If so, she had made a fatal mistake.
Stormy Weather landed on a turret of the hotel. "So, Chloé B – you still think my power is utterly ridiculous?"
Chloé spoke to her friend Sabrina, who was standing beside her: "This is your proof that I was right. Once a villain, always a villain."
Stormy Weather scowled and aimed her umbrella at Chloé. Sabrina tried to jump in the way, but only got frozen into the same ice block.
Stormy gave an evil laugh. Two down, the world to go.
Ladybug and Chat Noir jumped onto the hotel roof and leaped at her.
"You'll never defeat me," said Stormy Weather. "Hurricane!"
The heroes were caught in wind, and blown back away from her.
"It's true – she really is a lot stronger than before. But so are we," thought Ladybug. While in the air, memories of her friendship with Chat Noir and the strength of their team filled her mind.
They bounced on ground and landed on their. feet.
"I seem to be reminiscing too much today," thought Ladybug. "I have to stay focused on saving the world."
"After all we've been through a lot together," said Ladybug aloud. "We're not going to let Stormy Weather defeat us. Right, Kitty?"
"As usual, I completely agree with you, Bugaboo," said Chat Noir.
Ladybug smiled and gave a little chuckle before following in a run to get up speed for her next swing. Things he said that used to irritate her were endearing now. Like "Bugaboo."
The temperature was dropping rapidly. There were stinging flecks of ice in the air.
"We need to prepare before we get closer," said Ladybug. "We need ice powers."
"There's not enough ice on the ground to skate on," said Chat.
"We can leap around with skates on. We need the suits just for cold tolerance," said Ladybug. She activated a thermometer screen on her yo-yo and showed him. "Minus 33 Celsius and getting colder by the second."
They went to opposite sides of a roof structure, detransformed, and fed their kwamis the formula for the ice power-up. Tikki ate hers in a macaron, and Plagg ate his in a piece of cheese.
"Plagg Glacier, claws out!"
"Stalac Tikki, spots on."
They came out in their new ice suits, ready for action.
Chat said, "Hawk Moth wants a wish, not the end of the world. Why doesn't he stop her?"
"I think he's lost control," said Ladybug. "If he's outdoors, or in a room with a window open, he may be too cold to focus his power. It's up to us."
Stormy Weather had moved to the top of a tall office building. By using stealth and taking cover they were able to get to the side behind her. They leaped from window ledge to window ledge until they were near the top.
"Stormy Weather has a hurricane around her," said Ladybug. "Too much wind to get close... But it makes it harder for her to hear us, too."
"We need some good fortune on our side," said Char Noir.
"Right. Lucky charm!"
Ladybug received a red marker with black spots. "What can I do with this?"
Ladybug looked around, and inside the nearest window she saw a copier. It seemed to light up in red with black spots in her imagination.
"Chat Noir, I need that copy machine. Can you bring it out here without unplugging it?"
"Anything for you, m'Lady. I'm a copier cat."
Ladybug got out a piece of paper from her yo-yo (it had a portal with access to the contents of her purse). She wrote a message with the marker.
Chat Noir broke the window with his staff and pulled the copier out.
Ladybug saw a reporter below, her TV camera no longer working, bravely reporting in spite of the cold. With a nod to her, Ladybug scanned in the paper she had written.
"Now Chat, I need you to make the printer go haywire. I need it to print as many copies as it can, as quickly as possible, spewing them out to get caught in the hurricane up there."
"Cataclysm!" called Chat Noir.
Chat brought his hand down on the side of the copier, willing his destructive power to do what Ladybug asked. He tossed the machine higher, holding on to the end of its long power cord to keep it from unplugging.
The printer fired out all its copies, overheated, and exploded. Copies of Ladybug's message flew around Stormy Weather.
The two heroes leaped up onto the icy roof, digging in the toes of their skates to keep from being blown off.
"You fools! You think you can defeat me with paper?" yelled Stormy Weather.
Curiosity got the better of Stormy Weather and she willed a puff of wind to bring one of the copies to her. She read it and gasped in shock.
"You're right. What am I doing? Take this!"
The akumatized umbrella came flying into Ladybug's hands.
Ladybug got her yo-yo open and ready to capture the akuma before she broke the umbrella over her knee. She scooped the emerging butterfly into the yo-yo and closed the top before the wind could blow it away.
Stormy Weather sank to the building's roof, purple magic spilling out of her.
The cold had to be dealt with next. Ladybug threw her spotted marker into the air.
A stream of magic ladybugs flew everywhere, fixing all damage, including restoring Earth's proper orbit.
Ladybug opened the yo-yo and released the white butterfly. "Bye-bye, little butterfly."
Chat Noir held up a fist and Ladybug bumped hers into it.
"Pound it!" they both said together.
"What did you write on the paper?" asked Chat.
"Sometimes people just need to see their words printed in black and white to see the flaw in their logic," said Ladybug. "I wrote: 'When we're all frozen food, who will be left to realize how powerful you are?'"
Marinette came to the closed gate of Agreste mansion. She took the work for Adrien out of her backpack.
"You can do it, Marinette!" said Tikki, winking at her.
Marinette pushed the button. As usual, the camera on its extensible arm made her jump.
"Yes?" said Nathalie over the intercom.
"Hello, I'm Marinette. And.. I'm in Adrien's class and I'm bringing him the schoolwork he missed today... and the homework that's due tomorrow."
The deposit hatch opened.
"You tell him it's from Marinette, his friend... from school. And that I did it as a friend... to help him! Okay?"
"I will," said Nathalie.
Marinette almost put it in, but decided to add a sticky note first.
"See you tomorrow..."
(Instead of writing the word, she made a cartoon sketch of herself blowing a heart).
"...Your friend, Marinette."
Satisfied, Marinette put the folder into the slot. She walked away happily.
"Good job!" said Tikki. "We've got ourselves a new and improved Marinette."
"Do you know why I said 'friend' so many times?" Marinette asked.
"Why?" asked Tikki.
"I've decided Adrien isn't ready to see me as more than a friend. And so... I'm going to be the best friend I can be. I'll slowly get closer to him, and when the time is right... then we'll move into more than friendship."
"That's a good plan," said Tikki. "You seem happier and more relaxed now."
"I really am," said Marinette.
When she returned home, Marinette watched TV in the living room with her family to catch up on the news.
The American President, Camilla Hombee, was giving a speech. (It was public knowledge that she was the superhero named Victory). There was a subtitled translation in French.
"Today humanity has woken up to the existence of the most dangerous man in the world, in fact, the most dangerous man in history. The supervillain who goes by the alias of Hawk Moth, in an act of supreme evil, granted powers to a young woman that nearly caused the extinction of the human race by moving us away from the Sun. Two brave superheroes, Ladybug and Cat Noir, were able to prevent that, and to restore the Earth to its normal orbit. Those two and a couple of other Parisian heroes have been struggling against him alone, barely able to keep up with his threats.
"They will no longer be alone.
"The world has scarcely paid attention, and sometimes even laughed, as Paris has been put through one horrific disaster after another: brainwashing everyone, flooding the whole city, transforming people into statues, and more. We're not laughing now. Millions died from the cold, especially on the night side of the planet. All have been restored to life thanks to Ladybug's magic – but none of us will ever forget.
"Hawk Moth is hereby declared Public Enemy Number One. He is wanted, dead or alive. The investigative agencies of the world will co-operate to bring him down. His magical tools must be destroyed for the safety of the world. Others may dream of using such powers for their own agendas. This must not happen.
"America will make this our highest priority. In addition to Interpol, the CIA, and other agencies, a task force of American superheroes led by Victory and Majestia is going to Paris to find this terrorist supervillain and put an end to his threats once and for all."
Tom switched off the television. "Hawk Moth has really done it this time."
Sabine said, "If he has the least bit of sense, he'll never send out another akuma. He'll go underground as deep as he can."
Tom said, "Ladybug and her superhero team had better think about going into hiding, too. An international investigation like this will break their secret identities. What Hombee said about people wanting the 'magical tools' – the Miraculouses – it's not just Hawk Moth who's going be hunted."
"Poor Chloé," said Sabine. "With her identity already public she doesn't stand a chance."
Marinette felt a lump in her throat as she stared at the ruins of her future. No gentle friendship slowly growing into love for her and Adrien. She would spend the rest of her life on the run, trying to stay a step ahead of those who would torture her for her knowledge of the Miraculouses and the Guardian.
She could give the earrings back to Master Fu, get Chat Noir to do the same with his ring, wait for Fu to get away somewhere, and then surrender to Victory and Majestia for witness protection and new identities for her and her family. Could she trust the Americans not to lock her up and interrogate her? With so much at stake, she doubted it.
Her loved ones needed to know – maybe they could come up with a better plan.
"Maman and Papa, I have something to tell you."