Actions

Work Header

Falling and Getting Back Up Again

Work Text:

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This isn’t over, Ladybug.

It’s over. 

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You think a cell can stop me, Ladybug?

In. Out.

You think I can’t find out who you are, Ladybug?

Out.

Out out out out out-

Calm down.

He’s gone.

I will find you, Ladybug.

Marinette half-expected a red kwami on her shoulder, whispering assurances in her ear.

There was no kwami.

It was over. All of it. The war- Hawkmoth, Ladybug, Chat Noir. 

Chat Noir.

Ladybug and Chat Noir.

They were over.

She shook her head. Not important right now.

What was important, was the towering building in front of her.

She was late. It was almost eight. She would be one of the last to arrive.

It was over. Including her time in Paris.

No matter where you go, you won’t be safe from me, Ladybug.

She was standing in front of Le Lycée des Surdoués , a boarding school in the French countryside. 

She felt so small. Smaller than ever before.

There were a never ending number of steps leading to the large, looming doors, which seemed to be staring at her in disapproval.

She wanted to go home.

She needed to go home.

She couldn’t go home.

She couldn’t make herself move.

She’d just stay here, rooted to this very spot for eternity. Students and teachers would file past her, mistaking her for a statue. 

She would be abandoned.

Left to rot.

Alone. 

She would die here before going up those stairs.

She almost chuckled. Figures, she thought, that her anxiety would get her before Hawkmoth had the chance.

She shook her head.

Don’t think about that.

It’s over.

It’s not over, Ladybug.

Move forward.

You need to move forward, Marinette.

Move forward, Marinette.

Move faster, Marinette.

Looks like you weren’t fast enough, Ladybug.

Move.

You have to move.

MOVE .

“Will you please move?”

She turned her head. Someone was staring at her.

A boy, with a shock of blonde hair. Blonde like him. 

Not him, though. Blue eyes. 

Not the same. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. 

Not the same.

Formal attire, stern face. Not many muscles. Bookish. Cold.

Not the same.

He scoffed, brushing past her, hiking up the steps.

She stared. He was cute.

Chat was cute, too.

Not the same. 

Breathe in. Breathe out.

There was an arm around her shoulders.

Threat.

Don’t move.

Stay still.

They were talking.

You should’ve listened to me, Ladybug. It didn’t have to happen this way.

Listen.

“... but yeah, don’t worry, we’re not all that prickly. Need help finding your way around?”

The boy didn’t wait for a response, grabbing her hand and leading her up the steps.

She felt like she was moving through Jello. He was tall. Tan. Grinning.

Not a threat.

He was still talking, but she didn’t know who he was. She should’ve listened.

“I’m sorry,” She blurted out, interrupting him mid-sentence.

He frowned, “For what?”

She paused. For what? She hadn’t done anything wrong… right? She didn’t know anymore. She did a lot of things wrong. What were they talking about? What was his name? She should’ve listened.

“I’m sorry,” she repeated, “I think I was… zoning out. I missed your name. I’m sorry.”

He looked at her with understanding, “First day jitters, huh? No worries, I’m Claude.”

“Marinette.” She smiled.

“Nice to meet you, Marinette! I’m going to show you around the school, ok?”

She nodded. She could do that. 

“Good!”

And off they went.

He had slowed down, in both pace and words. 

Kind. 

Not a threat.

She relaxed, able to take in her surroundings.

The school truly was huge, students bustling about on the second story, marble pillar engraved with Latin. 

It was beautiful. 

Formidable.

Safe?

Different.

Claude showed her the gym, the office, and the art room- which was clearly full of expensive supplies that she couldn’t wait to indulge in.

He was funny, she found.

Safe.

Not the same. 

They got along well, and she felt ok. She’d be ok here.

“And this,” He opened the large double doors in front of them, “Is the theater! My favorite room!”

He’d barely gotten the words out before he was tackled to the ground by a boy wearing all green and headphones.

Carapace. Nino. 

Threat.

“Allan! Dude! Chill out! We have a guest!” Claude laughed, dragging himself up.

Allan. Not Nino. 

Not a threat.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Allan stuck his hand out, “Nice to meet you…”

“Marinette.”

“Nice to meet you, Marinette. I’m Allan!”

She smiled, shaking his hand.

“Claude!” Someone yelled from across the room, “Is that a new girl? I don’t recognize her.”

“Yeah,” Claude called back, “Her name is Marinette!”

The someone, a blonde girl, blonde like him- not the same- squealed, sprinting across the room.

“Oooh! Finally! I’ve got dibs, boys! It’s about time I had a girl best friend!” She turned to Marinette, “I’m Allegra, and you have no idea how happy I am that you’re here. I have been stuck with these idiots for years, and the girls here all have their own cliques. I’ve been craving a good old-fashioned BFF for so long now.”

You trusted your ‘BFF’ so much. That was a mistake, Ladybug.

Claude pouted, “I thought we were BFFs.”

Allegra waved him off, “We are, darling, but it’s not the same. It’s about time we had another girl in the group!” She turned to Marinette, “So, what do you say? New friends?”

New friends? It might be worth the risk. She hadn’t had real friends in a long time… 

“New friends,” She agreed with a nod. It would be ok.

Allegra shrieked and hugged her, jumping up and down.

Marinette froze.

Allan- not a threat- pried Allegra away.

“Let her breathe,” He chuckled.

“Sorry, sorry,” she said, not sounding very sorry at all, and grabbed Marinette’s hand, “We must introduce you to Félix, darling. He’s the last part of our little group. I know where he’s rooming, and after we introduce you, we’ll find your dorm, ok?”

She nodded.

“Great! Are you coming, boys?”

Claude coughed, “Um, Allegra? She’s kinda… sorta… already met him.”

Allegra groaned, “Really? I assume it went as well as ever.”

“Honestly, it could’ve been a lot worse.”

“Well, at least there’s that. We’ll just have to patch things up. Come along, then”

And Marinette was dragged off again, towards some stairs. She was confused, she hadn’t met anyone but them, but they were chattering away, so she didn’t have time to think. She decided she liked them. She didn’t want time to think. Not anymore.

You’ll always remember this night, Ladybug. You should have thought of that before crossing me.

“Nette, darling? You ok there?”

“I, um… Did- did you just give me a nickname?”

Allegra’s eyebrows furrowed, “Are you ok with that? If you’d prefer your full name, of course, I’ll use it. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

She shook her head, “No, no! It’s fine! Just wasn’t expecting it, is all.” The only person who’d ever given her nicknames was- no. 

Not the same.

Allegra relaxed, “Oh, good.”

“Hey, Leggy, which room is it?” Claude called out.

“Room 221, and don’t call me that!”

He laughed, and turned down a new hallway.

Allegra sighed, following him, “Anyway, Nette,” she said with a smile, “Félix is cold when you first meet him-”

“And years later!” Allan interrupted. 

She shot a glare at him, “Thank you, Allan,” She looked back at Marinette, “He’s a sweetheart, really. Deep down. I think. Don’t worry about him. I wouldn’t expect an apology from him, though. He takes a while to warm up to people.”

“Oh,” she blinked, “Okay. An apology for what?”

“We’re here!” Claude interrupted, knocking loudly on the door, and opening it without waiting for an answer.

“How wonderful.” Said a voice, dripping in irritation.

“And we brought a visitor!” Allan chimed in, “You may remember her, apparently you’ve already met.”

Marinette peered into the room- who had she met?- Allegra next to her, and-

Oh.

It was the boy. The boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. 

Not the same.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

He rolled his eyes, “You adopted another stray, Allegra? Wasn’t the last one bad enough?”

You should have kept a closer eye on your stray, Ladybug.

“Hey!” Allan glared.

“Don’t be rude, Félix darling. This is Marinette. She is not a stray, she’s just new. To both the school, and our friend group! Say hi, Marinette.”

“Hi, Marinette!” She said, with a shy wave.

Claude grinned.

Félix frowned, looking her up and down, “Did you make those clothes yourself?”

“Y-Yes,” She flushed, “You can tell?”

He hummed, “It’s good craftsmanship.”

She immediately brightened, “You think? I spent weeks on the stitching. Ma mére said it was fine as is, but I don’t start things I don’t intend on finishing properly.”

You should have finished this when you had the chance, Ladybug.

Félix blinked in surprise, “I… agree, actually. You have good sense.” He smiled softly at her.

She grinned.

Allegra and Allan stood frozen throughout the entire exchange, Claude’s jaw dropping.

“Woah,” he said, “Did… did he just smile at her?”

Allan nodded slowly, “And complimented her. He’s never complimented me.”

“I’m- I’m sorry?” She hadn’t meant to mess things up.

Allegra’s eyes widened, “No, no, darling, it’s not a bad thing! You have nothing to apologize for! It’s just surprising! Félix here doesn’t usually take to people that quickly, do you, Fé?”

He stared cooly at her, “I don’t know to what you are referring.”

“Of course you don’t,” she smiled, “We ought to be on our way, we need to show Nette to her dorm. Would you like to accompany us?”

She sounded hopeful, but looked resigned. She wasn’t expecting a positive response.

His eyes flitted to Marinette, then away again, “I could use a walk.”

Allegra did a double take, gaping at him.

Claude broke the silence, “Wow, Nette. He almost never wants to come. You must be our lucky charm!”

What a useful lucky charm, Ladybug. Thank you for letting me borrow it.

Marinette froze, all her muscles tensing.

Not here.

Not now.

No.

No no no no no no no-

“Marinette!”

Someone’s hands on her shoulders. 

Claude.

Safe.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Are you ok?”

She gave a shaky nod, hands trembling.

They all looked concerned, even Félix’s frown had softened around the edges, but they let it drop.

Claude smiled at her, “Do you have your schedule? We need your room number.”

She nodded again, more steadily this time, and reached into her pocket to retrieve the paper. While she unfolded it, she concentrated on her breathing. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. 

In. Out.

She looked at the paper, “I’m in room 221.”

Silence.

“What’s wrong? Did I say something?” Of course something had to go wrong. Of course finding her room wouldn’t be simple.

This could have been so simple, Ladybug.

“Let me see that,” Allegra took the paper, inspecting it. She giggled, “Well, darling, it’s a good thing Félix seems to like you so very much. It looks like you’re roommates!”

“No!” Claude gasped, tearing the paper out of her hands. “Oh my god, they are! This is hilarious! Oh god, Nette,” he turned to her, “I am so sorry! I can’t even imagine rooming with him! It would be so… quiet!” He shuddered.

“Um, I don’t really mind the, um, quiet,” She doesn’t, really, she doesn’t, “Am I, um, am I really staying here?” She looked to Félix for confirmation.

He nervously glanced away, nodding.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She straightened her shoulders, mustered all of her confidence, and said, “Well then, Félix, I’m glad I got such a kind roommate.”

Allegra beamed, Allan snorted, and Claude was clearly trying very hard not to laugh.

“You are quite odd, Marinette.” Félix was frowning at her.

She stared at him.

He smiled, “I, too, am glad for your company.”

“This isn’t real. I’m dreaming. Somebody pinch me,” Claude said.

Allan raised an eyebrow at him, leaning over.

“Ow! I didn’t mean actually do it!”

“Should’ve specified, man! Not my fault!” He chuckled.

This is not my fault, Ladybug. You could have stopped this.

Claude huffed, “Whatever.”

The PA crackled to life, “All students, please head to your dorms. Everyone must have lights out by 10pm, in 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the clock, and we look forward to seeing you all in class tomorrow.”

“Well,” Claude grinned, “That’s our cue!”

Allegra smiled, “We’ll meet up with you two before classes tomorrow, to compare schedules. Sleep tight, darlings! Claude, we’re next door to each other, right?”

“Yeah, I think so,” He rushed out the door after her.

Allan watched them go with a fond sigh, then left himself, grinning, “Later, guys!”

The door closed behind him.

Marinette looked at Félix, fidgeting nervously, “Um, so, which bed is mine?”

Félix pointed to the bed on the right, “Our things will arrive tomorrow evening. We should get some rest. You’ll find some pajamas and your uniform in your nightstand, and toiletries in the bathroom.”

“R-right. Ok. I’ll just, um, I’ll just go get changed then,” She grabbed the pajamas and rushed into the bathroom.

She looked in the mirror.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This was a strange room, with a strange bed, with a strange person.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This was her new room, with her new bed, with her new friend. She liked him. 

Not a threat.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

No Tikki.

It was over.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This isn’t over, Ladybug.

It’s over. 

Breathe in. Out.

You think a cell can stop me, Ladybug?

In. Out.

You think I can’t find out who you are, Ladybug?

Out.

Out out out out out-

Calm down.

She looked into the mirror, her eyes wide, face flushed.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She got changed, brushed her teeth.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She walked back out, “Um, the bathroom’s open.”

He nodded, standing up.

She turned to the bed- her bed.

She could do this.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She couldn’t do this.

This was too much. She couldn’t. 

Not safe.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

In. Out.

In. Out.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

InOutInOutInOutInOutIn-

“Do you often make a habit of standing still and staring at things?”

She whipped around. Félix.

Not a threat.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Safe.

His stepped closer, everything about him softening, “Marinette? Are… are you having a panic attack?”

She couldn’t speak. Her breathing was still shaky. Everything was still shaky. She shook her head.

It wasn’t a lie. She wasn’t having a panic attack. She wasn’t. Not tonight.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She smiled, though she didn’t know how she managed it, “I’m fine. Just… homesick, I think.”

He looked skeptical, but nodded, “We should get as much sleep as we can tonight.”

“Right,” Marinette sat down on the- her bed.

Félix did the same, switching off the light on his way.

She got situated under the sheets, staring up at the ceiling. It was quiet, except for their breathing.

She didn’t mind the quiet. Really. She didn’t.

It was the thinking she minded.

“Marinette?”

She hummed, relieved.

“I… I wish to apologize for being rude earlier. In front of the school.”

She sat up, “Really?”

“Yes, really! It’s not unthinkable.” She could practically hear the scowl in his voice.

She giggled, “Well, it was to Allegra. She specifically told me not to expect an apology.”

“Great. Thanks, Allegra.”

She grinned, “I accept your apology. You’re forgiven.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” She parroted back at him.

He chuckled softly.

“I must have looked like a lunatic standing there, anyway.”

“No, you didn’t. Overwhelmed, definitely. Actually, you looked kinda-” He stopped.

“Kinda what?”

He groaned, “Do not tell anyone I said this, but you looked kind of cute.”

“Cute, huh?” She grinned.

“Well, until I saw how scared you were! I should’ve tried to help, or something, but I… try to avoid people, so I didn’t. I’m sorry.”

“I understand,” she said, laying back down, “Don’t worry about it. Actually, I thought you were cute too. You reminded me of someone.”

He let out a breath, “I heard Allegra call you Nette. Do you prefer to go by that?”

“Oh! Um, she kinda just gave me that nickname. I, um, I think I like it, though.”

“That does sound like her. She did the same to me.”

“Do you, um, do you like- what was it- Fé?”

“Not from most people.”

“Oh. Ok.”

“Unless I’m mistaken, you don’t seem very much like most people.”

She blinked, “Oh. Oh! Ok!”

He yawned, “Goodnight, Nette.”

“Goodnight, Fé,” She smiled.

This was ok. She could do this. 

Safe.

She drifted off to sleep.


 

Falling.

Falling.

Falling.

Hitting the ground.

Pain, up her spine.

Tears in her eyes.

Rena- Alya- Civilian or hero?

Cruel smile. Cruel laugh. Strings jerking her around. Unnatural.

Carapace- Nino. 

Bloody nose. Bloody teeth. Bloody smile.

Queen Bee- Chloe.

Restrained against the wall. Unprotected. 

Lila.

Smiling. Proud.

Pain.

Can’t move.

She can’t move. She can’t help.

Adrien.

Chat. 

Chaton.

Her chaton.

Hawkmoth- Gabriel.

A red-spotted knife. Bloody hands. A grin.

This was your choice, Ladybug.

A scream.

“Stop!”

Hers or…?

“Stop! Stop please!”

Please.

“Chat! Chaton!”

Please.

“Please!”

No response.

Crying. Her tears.

“Please. Please. Oh, god, please! Chat! Chat!


 

“Nette! Nette! Marinette!

She woke up screaming, throat raw, a blonde boy hovering over her.

Not her blonde boy. 

“Where is he?! Where’s Chat?! What did you do?!”

You did this, Ladybug.

“No, Nette! It’s me! Félix!”

Félix. Right.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She hugged her knees to her chest, her body shaking with sobs, “I’m- I’m so- s-sorry, Fé. I didn’t- didn’t mean-” She couldn’t finish.

She felt a pair of arms wrap around her.

Not the same.

Safe.

Nothing is safe.

He was coming.

He got Chat.

He would find her.

She was hyperventilating.

She clung to Félix, and she clung to the memory of her chaton.

Too much, too much, too much-

Is this too much for you, Ladybug?


 

Fifteen minutes later, her tears slowed. She could breathe again.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Félix was there. 

Safe.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It’s over.

This isn’t over, Ladybug.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She nodded. She did.

“I’m here to listen.”

She shook her head, “S-Secret,” She whimpered.

“Nette. Marinette. You froze earlier at the words, ‘lucky charm.’”

She tensed, but he rubbed her back, soothing her.

“Shhh. It’s ok. You’re safe. It’s ok. You froze at those words, and you were screaming for Chat Noir in your sleep,” He took a steadying breath, “Everyone knows about what happened to Paris,” He tilted her head up to look at him, “You were the Ladybug, right?”

Her eyes welled up again, nodding. He knew. She wasn’t alone. 

Safe.

“Oh, Nette,” He pulled her closer, “I’m so sorry.”

“I- I miss him,” She sobbed, “So much. I keep looking for him. But- but he’s gone!”
He let her cry, holding her close, whispering sweet nothings to her. 

Safe.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It was over

This isn’t over, Ladybug.

Breathe in, breathe out.


 

She woke up the next morning to a flustered blonde boy still pressed close to her.

His eyes flitted away from her, “Um… you fell asleep. And I didn’t want to wake you up again, so I, er, I didn’t move.”

She smiled.

Her blonde boy was gone, but it was going to be ok.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

He would always be with her, in one way or another.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It was over.

Breathe in.

She was safe.

Breathe out.