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If you're gonna lie (make it worth it)

Chapter Text

There was something very wrong with the universe that day.

 

For the first time in her life, Alya decided not to believe Marinette’s excuse – and it had been a very good one, something about forgetting her homework on her bed. And then, when Marinette came back from lunch, she was pulled by her friend – and Nino! – to explain why Marinette’s homework was in her backpack all the time.

 

Panic washed over her. It wasn’t as if she could say the truth. Yes, she really wanted to stay and have lunch with her friends, but Papillon was a sick man and loved to ruin her plans.

 

Stuttering, she began to try to explain herself, but nothing seemed good enough.

 

“What are you and Adrien hiding from us?”

 

“I don’t– Adrien? What does Adrien have to do with all this?”

 

“He disappeared during Akuma’s attack. Sunshine said he was going to the bathroom and disappeared and two seconds later you also forget about your homework and left! You two are up to something together, I’m feeling it!”

 

“W-what?! That’s so absurd, Alya!” she began to laugh nervously.

 

“It’s weird,” Nino muttered thoughtfully. “Every akuma attack, you two fades and only comes back after everything goes back to normal.”

 

“It’s true,” Alya stared at Marinette’s face, which must have been as red as her suit. “Nino is right. You two always disappear when Paris is under attack. Marinette, is there something you are hiding from me? What do you and Adrien do?”

 

“You guys are as mysterious as Ladybug and Chat Noir!” Nino said.

 

“HAHAHA!” she started forging a laugh – maybe not so much because she was laughing, but it was pure nervousness. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she was short of breath. “What an absurd idea, Nino! As if I could be Ladybug, I’m so clumsy! Hehe…” she needed an excuse, and soon.

 

“Well, so what the hell are you and Adrien doing that Alya and I can’t go? Is it so secret that you make up ridiculous excuses to be alone?” Nino questioned.

 

Alya’s eyes widened as she concluded. Then she smiled broadly, the smile that matched her alter ego perfectly.

 

Oh shit.

 

“Are you and Adrien dating?” Alya whispered.

 

“What?!” Nino shouted and Alya pinched him. “Alya, Adrien wouldn’t hide it from me. Or Marinette would hide it from you!”

 

“The dating has to be secret, doesn’t it, Mari? No one but you two can know. When you run away during random moments, is it to be meet Adrien?”

 

Marinette was a smart person. She had created several crazy plans to capture the akumas and save Paris. She could easily get rid of this without saying that she and Adrien were together, after all, they weren’t together, as much as she wanted to–

 

“Marinette, tell me the truth. If you’re not dating Adrien, what do you do when you’re gone?”

 

She tried to think quickly like she does when she has her lucky charm in hand. She tried to come up with a perfect excuse that would make Alya leave her alone, but none came.

 

The only good excuse she could think of at that moment was precisely the one Alya had said – that she and Adrien were dating.

 

She didn’t know where Adrien goes during the akuma attacks, but if he also needed an excuse, it would be perfect. They could pretend they were dating so they didn’t have to make up absurd excuses, they could just say they were seeing each other.

 

She just needed to make time to ask Adrien if he agreed with this plan and–

 

“Marinette!”

 

She blinked, trying to contain her nervousness. Finally, she looked around for a way out, but there were none. Nino and Alya were looking at her, waiting for an answer.

 

“Fine.” she closed her eyes tightly. “Adrien and I are dating, but it’s a secret. His father doesn’t allow it, and Adrien has those fans of his, and we just… thought it would be a good idea to meet during the akuma attacks because, you know, Paris is in chaos. Would anyone really care to know where we were?” she gave a nervous laugh.

 

Alya and Nino exchanged a look and then laughed.

 

“This excuse it’s worse than the others.”

 

“Hey, you concluded that!”

 

“Yes, because I thought it would make you speak the truth!”

 

“But I’m telling the truth! I… I’m dating Adrien!”

 

“Oh yes? Then prove it to me.” Alya smiled sweetly.

 

“What?!” she squealed.

 

“If you and Adrien are together, prove it to me. Some message you exchanged or, I don’t know, a kiss. Something simple.”

 

“Ah, Adrien is back from wherever he was,” Nino said. “I’m going to talk to him and…”

 

“Wait.” Alya gripped Nino’s wrist. “Adrien is coming, Marinette. So… what are you going to do now?”

 

Be ashamed to death, probably.

 

*

 

"Sorry."

 

It was the only thing Adrien could hear before Marinette grasped his face with both hands and kissed him.

 

In the middle of the whole school.

 

To everyone see.

 

Without an apparent reason.

 

Not understanding anything about what was happening, Adrien returned the kiss on automatic. Marinette’s lips were soft against his and she seemed to fit his arms so well and...

 

And then it was over even faster.

 

“I’ll explain everything to you later,” she whispered against his lips. Her voice was shaky as if she were on the verge of tears.

 

“But…”

 

“Later,” she promised and turned her back on him, running away before Adrien understood what had happened.

 

He watched her go, still trying to understand what had just happened. Everything was as it used to be, he had come into the school and greeted his friends, Marinette had messed up a little with the words as usual and he had even gotten a hug from her.

 

He was going to have lunch with her, Nino, and Alya, but Papillon had messed it up with an akuma attack. He had to invent a ridiculous excuse to escape and transform.

 

Ladybug seemed stressed during the fight, even distracted. At great cost, they had been able to capture the Akuma and restore peace in Paris – at least until old Papillon decided to attack again.

 

He was thinking about what might have happened to his lady for her to be in that state while he was entering school for the rest of classes when he was approached by Marinette, who decided to kiss him for no apparent reason!

 

“Wow, dude,” Nino said, placing his hand on Adrien’s shoulder. “When Marinette said you two were having a secret romance, I never imagined it was true.”

 

Wait… what?

 

“Me and Marinette…?” he asked, confused.

 

“Yes, dude! I’m a little hurt that you didn’t want to tell me anything, you know you can trust your best friend. But I understand why you did that, your dad will freak out if he knows you’re dating.”

 

“Am I dating?”

 

“C'mon, Adrien. You don’t have to fake it for me anymore.” Nino elbowed Adrien lightly. “Your secret is my secret. Now come on, the class is about to start.”

 

“Wait, Nino.” Adrien took him by the shoulder. “Marinette and I... how did you… I mean, how…” he didn't know how to ask Nino where he had heard that Marinette and he were dating.

 

Had he been punched in the head during the fight and was hallucinating? Was it a concussion?

 

“Look, we didn’t want to be intruding. It’s just that Alya lost her patience with Marinette and pushed her to tell us. Next time you want some time alone to kiss your girl, just ask, dude. You don’t have to invent that you want to go to the bathroom and disappear for hours to do so.”

 

“Marinette disappeared too?”

 

That was weird. Adrien had escaped to transform, but why would Marinette try to escape during an akuma attack?

 

“A couple of seconds after you ran away. Alya didn’t want to let her go and even offered to go along, but Marinette kept making up a lot of excuses until she finally ran away. When she finally came back, Alya kept pushing and Marinette said she was going to meet you because you’re dating.”

 

“Oh yeah…” he scratched his neck nervously.

 

Okay, that was a tremendous lie of Marinette. They weren’t dating secretly and she had used him as an excuse because she couldn’t somehow tell the real reason she’d run away earlier.

 

But why? Why couldn’t she tell Alya what she was doing during the akuma attack?

 

Does it means…?

 

“Leave her alone!”

 

Lost in his thoughts, Adrien didn’t notice that they had entered the classroom. The scream had come from Alya, who was standing in front of Marinetteprotecting her. Lila stood in front of Alya, arms crossed.

 

“Well, she needs to tell the story, or everyone will think she’s lying and Marinette hates liars, doesn’t she, Marinette?”

 

“I don’t know what rumor you heard, but it’s none of your business.”

 

“It’s a simple question. I’m just wondering how long she’s been dating Adrien. I’m happy for her, that’s all.” Lila said in that fake tone.

 

Marinette was behind Alya, shivering and biting her lower lip as if holding back her crying. Her eyes were teary and she looked very scared.

 

She was never afraid of Lila. For all the injustice and anger she felt toward her colleague, Marinette always restrained herself and never showed any reaction – that is, until that moment.

 

“Leave her alone, Lila,” Adrien said, approaching the confusion. He put his hand on Marinette’s waist and pulled her into his arms, hugging her to try to calm her down. He felt how tense she was in his arms. “Not that it’s any of your business, but we’ve been together for five months. Now leave my girlfriend alone.”

 

Chaos settled in the room. Shouts of celebration were heard, Lila shouted a nonconformist “what” and Marinette fainted in Adrien’s arms.

 

(Not really. But it wasn’t for lack of trying).

 

“Kids! What’s going on here?” Madame Bustier asked loud to be heard. Everyone started talking at the same time, explaining to her what was going on.

 

But Adrien ignored everything, looking at Marinette, who was pale as a ghost and cold.

 

“Want to get out of here?" he asked softly just for her to hear.

 

Please.”

 

He nodded, casting one more glance at Lila, who seemed about to explode with rage. Looking seriously at her, he walked away with Marinette.

 

“Madam Bustier, Marinette is not feeling well, I’ll take her to the infirmary,” he said as he held Marinette’s hand.

 

“Take care of her, Adrien.” the teacher said as she tried to control her class.

 

Adrien nodded and left the room, along with Marinette. As they walked down the empty halls, he considered asking Marinette for an explanation to why she had said they were dating and kissed him in front of everyone.

But the way she was, looking like a kitten – hehe – scared, he couldn’t do that to her. Instead, he tried to calm her down. He brought her hand to his mouth and gave it a light kiss.

 

“I like the way your hand fits in mine.”

 

In the end, Adrien had to carry Marinette to the infirmary because she had passed out shortly after hearing that phrase.

Chapter Text

In the end, Marinette wasn’t able to explain to Adrien the situation.

 

The nurse wouldn’t let him stay with her, claiming that Marinette needed rest and that his presence would only stress the girl. Grudgingly, he returned to the classroom.

 

During class, he felt several eyes in his direction, but he ignored them. The only thing he wanted to know at that moment was why Marinette had lied to Alya and Nino and why Ladybug was stressed.

 

And if one thing was related to the other thing.

 

It couldn’t be, could it? Marinette should have any reason to escape during akuma attacks other than hiding to transform? She couldn’t be Ladybug – no, wait, she could be, they both were perfect, smart and amazing – but she couldn’t Ladybug be because he wouldn’t be so dumb not to have noticed before!

 

Frustrated, he banged his forehead on the table, completely forgetting where he was.

 

“Adrien? Is everything okay?” Madame Bustier approached, worried.

 

“Sorry, I just didn’t sleep very well.”

 

“Were you busy having a make out session with Marinette?” Alix joked and everyone in the room started laughing as he blushed.

 

“Silence, please! Do you need to go to the infirmary, Adrien?”

 

Yes!

 

“No, ma'am. I’m fine, I just got a little distracted. I won’t happen again.”

 

“Right. If you need anything, just let me know, okay?”

 

“I will. Thank you.”

 

“Dude…” Nino whispered to him. “I didn’t know your relationship with Mari was that serious. Five months? Wait, was she the girl you kept saying you were in love with?”

 

No… yes… he hoped so.

 

“Yes. I’m sorry I didn’t say that before, but it’s because I had to keep it a secret. If my dad discovers about my relationship with Mari…” he whispered back.

 

“Well, the thing is you told everyone in the room. But don’t worry, I’m sure your secret is kept.”

 

“Yeah, I hope so.”

 

*

 

After school, as soon as he was entering the house, Nathalie prevented him from going to his room with a single sentence.

 

“Adrien, your father would like to talk to you.”

 

Oh shit.

 

“It needs to be now, Nathalie? I had a very long day.”

 

“You know your father doesn’t like to wait.”

 

“Yeah, I know.” he snorted, following her to her father’s office.

 

“Mr. Agreste? Adrien is here.”

 

Gabriel raised his face from the computer and in a cold voice told Nathalie to leave and close the door. As soon as Adrien heard the noise of the door, a chill ran down his spine.

 

Gabriel took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes with an expression of tiredness and stress. Adrien cringed even more.

 

He knew. Somehow, he knew.

 

“I was informed today by one of your colleagues that you have been dating for five months. With Marinette Dupain-Cheng.” he replaced his glasses. “Did you want to tell me about this?”

 

“Father, that’s not what it looks like and…”

 

“Did you want to tell me about this?” he interrupted, causing Adrien to swallow hard. “Adrien, you know perfectly well that you can’t date! You have an image to keep and think how much this news will disappoint your fans. I thought she was just your friend.”

 

“Father, it just happened. I didn’t mean to fall in love with Marinette, it happened naturally. She is so talented, beautiful, smart and amazing. She is always willing to help. Please don’t make me break up with her without first meeting her. She reminds me a lot of Mom, I’m sure if you give her a chance, you’ll be enchanted with her too. Please give her a chance. Marinette makes me very happy.”

 

Gabriel took a deep breath once more.

 

“If you want to continue this madness, you will invite your girlfriend to come to dinner Saturday so you can introduce her to me. And be aware that if I don't approve of it, this relationship is over. Understood?”

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

“I hope this girl is really that amazing and she’s worth it, Adrien because if I don’t approve of her, I’ll forbid you from going back to school and seeing her.”

 

Adrien’s blood chilled in his veins. He could lose everything he’d fought in the last two years in seconds if his dad just didn’t like Marinette. Everything could be lost because of a little lie that Mari and he told…

 

If you’re going to lie… make it worth it.

 

“She’s worth it, father. I swear.”

 

Because she was worth it. And his father would love Marinette, Adrien would make it work somehow.

 

“Right. You can go now, I need to deal with the mess you caused.”

 

*

 

“I messed up!” Marinette moaned, falling flat on her face. “I am the worst person in the world, Tikki! So hypocritical. I say that I hate liars, and at the first opportunity what do I do? I lie!”

 

“Calm down, Marinette,” Tikki said in a calm voice. “It was just an excuse and it was necessary.”

 

“And I drag Adrien along with me in this lie! He hates me now, I’m sure of it!”

 

“You didn’t even get a chance to talk to him…” Tikki said softly.

 

Marinette looked up, her eyes widening.

 

“I haven’t talked to him yet! Oh my God, Tikki, he must be so confused because I just kissed him and then I just said that we’re together, he sure hates me now!” Marinette rose up off her bed and climbed rapidly down her bed ladder, almost tripping down missing the last step in her rush to make it.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“My suitcases. I’ll run away from Paris!” she said, tossing some clothes on her chaise.

 

“Hey. Marinette!” Tikki flew in front of her eyes, causing Marinette to stop in place. “You’re doing that again. Stop and take a deep breath. C’mom, with me. One… two… three…

 

Marinette took a deep breath, feeling some of the panics disappear.

 

“He doesn’t hate you, Marinette. You were just confused and told the first excuse you found. And it looks like it’s okay for Adrien because he agreed to cover you in the lie without you talking to him!”

 

“You’re right, Tikki. But why did he do that?”

 

“You need to talk to him, Marinette.”

 

She began to breathe fast again, pulling on her pigtails.

 

“He will wonder why I lied! And I don’t know what to say to him because I can’t just say: I lied to protect my secret identity from my best friend, aka Ladyblogger. Oh, I’m Ladybug, by the way!”

 

“You can say that you are afraid of akumas. That they scare you and that’s why you disappear. You hide because you’re afraid and Alya keeps dragging you into action and it freaks you out.”

 

“Tikki! Thank you! But why didn’t you tell me before? That would be the perfect excuse.”

 

“I just had this idea. But, Marinette, you need to talk to Adrien as soon as possible. You need to match this lie well before anyone finds out you both are lying!”

 

“Yes!” she said excitedly.

 

“So… you will call him, right?”

 

“Call him? Oh no, Tikki! I can’t just call him!”

 

“And why not?” Tikki tried to keep calm.

 

“Because he may be busy, he is a boy who has a very busy schedule and I can’t really mess up his commitments to my bullshit, besides, I didn’t even elaborate the story right and I’m going to start babbling and talking bullshit to him and ruin my chances of our dating, even if it’s fake, and then we won’t fall in love and have our three kids, our house and our hamster and—”

 

Tikki took a deep breath.

 

“Why do I still insist?”

 

“I’ll talk to him. But not now.”

 

“When?”

 

“When I can talk to him properly.”

 

“That is, never.”

 

“Whatever.” she stuck her tongue out at the kwami and threw herself on her chaise. “I’m going to die of shame!”

 

Tikki flew to the chaise, took Marinette’s cell phone and put it in her hand.

 

“I’ll ask for the last time. Call. Adrien.”

 

“I can’t!” she said, slipping from the chaise to the floor and letting the phone slip from her fingers. “I am a failure in humanity!”

 

“You are not a failure, Marinette! Just talk to him!”

 

“And I say what ?! Hi, kitty, is everything all right? I know I said we’re dating and I’m sorry about that, but can you cover it up for me? Thank you, sweetie!”

 

“You’re welcome?”

 

Marinette shouted, her cell phone falling to the floor.

 

When she looked at the screen, she saw that she was on a voice call with Adrien. Looking at her kwami with a murderous expression, Marinette took out her cell phone.

 

“Ad-Adrien?”

 

“Hi, Marinette. You called me.”

 

“Oh yes. I called.” she shot a murderous look at her kwami, which simply went to the cookies on the desk. “I… we… I mean, I… you know… hehe…”

 

“Do we need to talk?” he completed for her.

 

“Yes. We need.”

 

Yes. You can do it, Marinette. Is easy. Just open your mouth and say the words.

 

The awkward silence denied her cheering.

 

“So… do you want to start?” Adrien asked.

 

“Right. Look… it’s just…” Take a deep breath, Marinette. You can do it. You jump off buildings and hang with a yo-yo, of course, you can explain yourself to the love of your life. “I… so, then I…”

 

“Marinette. I think we better talk about this in person.”

 

“Yeah, it’s better.”

 

“Okay, I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

 

“Wait, do you want to talk now?”

 

“We need to, Marinette. See you later?”

 

“Y-yes.”

 

“Great. See you later, Mari.” and he hung up.

 

Marinette stared at her phone screen, feeling the world close around her.

 

“Tikki?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I think I’ll faint again.”

 

“MARINETTE!”

 

*

 

Adrien had to give three pieces of Camembert to convince Plagg to transform him just so he could escape the room and meet Marinette. He put down his cell phone to play the song and pretend he was practicing piano, locked the bedroom door, transformed himself, and slipped out the window.

 

The bakery was full, but as soon as she saw him, Sabine waved him over.

 

“Marinette warned that you were coming. You can enter, honey. Oh, and take it.” she handed a bag. “For you both.”

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Dupain-Cheng.”

 

“Oh, my dear, just Sabine is enough. You can go now, Marinette is waiting for you.”

 

He nodded and his legs trembled while he climbed the stairs to Marinette’s house. He rang the bell and was greeted by his ‘girlfriend’, who had a nervous smile on his face and seemed about to faint again.

 

“Come in,” she said softly.

 

“Your mother gave me this.”

 

“Oh, great! Sit down, I’ll put this on a plate and bring us something to drink. Do you want some tea?”

 

“Yes, please,” he said, but instead of sitting down, he began to look at the frames. The time he was there, he was Chat, so he couldn’t comment on anything.

 

He glanced at a picture of Alya, wearing Ladybug’s mask, and Marinette with Chat Noir’s for Clara Nightingale’s clip. Seeing Marinette wearing his mask caused his heart to race for some reason he could not yet identify.

 

“It’s chamomile tea, I hope you don’t mind,” Marinette said, placing the tray on the coffee table.

 

“I like it, thanks,” he said, sitting on the couch and grabbing a croissant. Marinette sat beside him, stretching her hands on her knee as if she was nervous about something.

 

Certainly their subject.

 

“You might wonder why I went around telling us that we’re both dating?”

 

“You didn’t do that. You told Nino and Alya and somehow Lila listened and spread it to everyone. It’s not your fault.”

 

“Adrien, it’s my fault. I started this whole lie.”

 

“But you must have a reason for that, no?” he swallowed the croissant. It was a serious matter, this was no time to eat.

 

“Yes. Look, I’ll explain everything to you and please don’t interrupt me or I’ll lose my courage.”

 

“All right. You can talk.”

 

“It all started because I said I was going to get my homework here at home, and he was in my backpack all the time. Alya had my backpack and then she found out I was lying. I disappeared during the akuma attack and Alya thought that because you disappeared together, we were together. She kept pushing me and in a panic, I ended up lying and saying that we were together because we’re dating on the sly.”

 

She took a deep breath as if trying to catch her breath to speak in a rush like she just had done.

 

“In fact, she asked if we were dating and I had no good excuse, so I just agreed and now everyone thinks we’re both together. I’m so sorry, Adrien. I didn’t want to lie let alone drag you into this lie, but…”

 

“It’s all right, Mari. Actually, I think it’s a good idea. I also need excuses to explain my disappearance during the akumas attacks, we will be helping each other. But why do you disappear during akuma attacks?”

 

“Well, look… promise you won’t laugh, okay?”

 

“Of course, Marinette. I would never laugh at you.”

 

“I’m very afraid of akumas. I’ve been hit by some and it’s not a pleasant feeling, I have some nightmares about it sometimes. And Alya always wants to drag me to see the struggles why she has to film for her blog and why she wants me to see Chat Noir and Ladybug in action. I hide before so I don’t have to tell her the truth.”

 

“Oh, Marinette. You don’t need to lie. Alya is your friend and she will fully understand why you don’t want to go in the middle of the action.”

 

“I know, but it’s because… I don’t want her to think I’m a coward. When… when I’m more comfortable talking about my fear, I’ll tell her the truth. But what about you? Why does it disappear during attacks?”

 

“My father wants me to hide. He doesn’t want me to hurt myself.”

 

“Ah, I understand. Well, in that case, our little lie will end up helping both of us, won’t it?” she smiled.

 

“Yes. It’s going to help a lot.” he grinned back at her. “But we need to make up a story. We’ve been together for five months, aren’t we? How it all began?”

 

She bit her lower lip thoughtfully. That small act of hers made Adrien’s head spin a little and distract him. Carefully, not wanting to push any boundaries, he put his thumb on her chin and pulled her lip down so that she would stop biting.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that…” he started to stutter.

 

“That’s ok. We’re dating now, right? We need… we need to exchange affection to look convincing. And kisses. I mean, we don't need to kiss on the mouth, it can be on the cheek. After all, there are a lot of couples who are very shy, right?” she giggled nervously.

 

“Yes. Hugs are also common for couples. And I can accompany you at home.”

 

“And I can bring you pastries. And we can go on dates. Like fake dates. Have lunch together, ice cream maybe?”

 

“Yeah. Couples do this all the time, right?”

 

They stared at each other in silence, neither of them uncertain what to say next.

 

“I confessed to you in the library when we were both doing that Madame Mendeleev duo homework. I talked about how I was in love with you since you handed me that umbrella and invited you to have ice cream with me,” she whispered.

 

Adrien looked up, startled.

 

“You accepted and… and then you said you liked me too. And then we kissed and you said you wanted to date me, but your father wouldn’t allow it. That’s why we decided to keep everything hidden.”

 

She stared at him, and the intensity in her gaze was so strong that made Adrien breathless. She moved closer, placing her hand over his.

 

“This may be our story. If you agree.”

 

“I do.”

 

“Great. So… it’s all done. I’ll get some more tea.”

 

“A date,” he said before she could leave.

 

“What?”

 

“Now that everyone knows, we need to be official, don’t we?”

 

“True.”

 

“So… meet you tomorrow after class?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Great. And I really need to go, I escaped from home so I can talk to you.”

 

“How did you do that?”

 

“A wizard never tells her secrets, princess,” he said, taking her hand and kissing a la Chat Noir.

 

She looked toward him, frowning. Ops…

 

“See you tomorrow, girlfriend,” and saying that he gave her a long kiss on her forehead. "Can’t wait.”

 

She walked him to the door and they both said their goodbyes.

 

Adrien could have sworn he heard an excited squeal as he descended the stairs to the bakery.

Chapter Text

Marinette entered the school wearing her favorite dress and with her hair down. She hoped Adrien would like her outfit.

 

“Girl! You’re so cute today! What is the occasion?” Alya commented.

 

“Adrien and I are going on a date after class.”

 

“Well, now that everyone knows about both of you, you no longer need to hide in akumas attack to make out.”

 

Marinette blushed as she stared at the floor.

 

“In fact, we will still keep doing that.”

 

“But why?”

 

“Everyone knows about us, but that doesn’t mean we are comfortable kissing in front of everyone, right? And because Adrien has a busy schedule, akuma’s attacks cancel all his appointments and allow us to stay together.”

 

“Confess that the danger turns you up.”

 

“Alya!” Marinette almost shouted. “Please don’t tease me like that. It’s all still kind of new.”

 

“But I thought you were dating for five months?”

 

Pay attention, Marinette.

 

“And one day that you know about it,” she said. “I wanted to tell you before, but–”

 

“Marinette, it’s fine. I understand.” Alya put her hands on her shoulders. “If you’re happy, I support you.”

 

“I am.”

 

“So it’s fine. I’m not mad.”

 

“You’re the best friend ever,” Marinette said, hugging Alya, who laughed.

 

“Marinette? Good morning!” Lila said, approaching. “Can we talk quickly? Just me and you?”

 

“I’ll wait for you in the class,” Alya said, leaving. Marinette looked at Lila, who stopped smiling as soon as she noticed Alya disappeared.

 

“Okay, I don’t know what kind of witchcraft you put on Adrien for him to agree with the lie, even to the point of disobeying his father, but you can stop this theater now. We both know perfectly well that you and Adrien aren’t dating.”

 

“I know you must be jealous, but grow up, Lila. Adrien and I are dating and we are happy. Accept this.”

 

“Ah, I don’t accept it because I know it’s a lie. But it’s not me you should worry about, Marinette. It’s with Gabriel Agreste. You know if he doesn’t like you, he’ll forbid Adrien from coming to school, don’t you?”

 

“W-what?” Marinette felt her heart race in her chest. What does she mean?

 

"Yes. You need to be the perfect girlfriend for Adrien. Beautiful, talented, speak more than one language for sure, have a sense of etiquette and be used to Adrien’s fame. Things I don’t think you have. I really doubt Gabriel Agreste will approve you.”

 

Marinette was going to kill that bitch.

 

“My princess!” She felt an arm wrap around her shoulders. She turned and saw Adrien, who was smiling sweetly at her.

 

Adrien leaned over and gave Marinette a chaste kiss on the cheek.

 

“Good morning. Do you know how happy I am that we don’t have to hide anymore and I can kiss you whenever I want? Oh, hi, Lila, the cheerful tone died when he saw the girl.

 

“Hi Adrien,” she answered in the same tone. “How long are you two going to continue with this lie?”

 

“It’s not a lie and you’re bothering my girlfriend,” Adrien took Marinette’s hand. “Come on, Mari, or we’ll be late for class. Ah, Rossi,” he stared at her. “Just think of bothering my princess again and you will see what is going to happen.”

 

Marinette saw Lila’s eyes widen as he pulled her away.

 

“If she thinks of bothering you again, you tell me.”

 

“I can protect myself,” Marinette frowned.

 

“I don't doubt that. But one more help never hurts, right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Marinette, before we go to the class, I need to know something.” he stopped, looking around to see if they were alone. “Where do you want to go today? I thought about make a surprise and ask for help from Alya, but it’s not like I could ask her what kind of place you like to go to when we’ve been dating for five months. I should know that right?” he scratched the back of his neck and Marinette began to notice that he always did this when he was a little nervous.

 

“Anywhere is fine. After all, it’s just a fake date.”

 

He frowned, looking hurt.

 

“Just because it’s fake doesn’t mean it can’t be good or nice.”

 

“That’s not what I meant, it’s just…” she blushed, wanting to knock herself for saying those words without thinking twice. “It’s just that you don’t have to put in so much effort. For everyone, we’re already together, aren’t we?”

 

“Yes. But I wanted to do something nice for you.”

 

“Ah, Adrien.” she smiled sweetly, placing her hand on his face. “You are very precious to this world. I’m sorry if you thought I didn’t feel like going on a date with you. I really want to. We can just wander around town, I don’t care, I just want to be with you.”

 

The smile he gave made Marinette’s heart almost escape her chest. She forced herself to take a deep breath because she didn’t need to faint once more.

 

“I don’t know if anyone said that, but you look beautiful with your hair down. You should let it down more often.” he kissed her hand. “We really should go, or else we’ll be late for class.”

 

Marinette nodded because she had suddenly lost her ability to speak.

 

*

 

After class, Adrien went to Marinette before she even finished packing.

 

“Ready?”

 

“Yeah.” she smiled excitedly, finishing packing.

 

“Where do the lovebirds go?” Nino asked, kissing Alya on the top of the head, who leaned toward him. Marinette watched, trying to get as much detail as possible so that she could act as Adrien’s girlfriend.

 

“We haven’t decided yet. But no matter the place, as long as I’m with my princess, it’s fine.”

 

Okay, he had to stop doing that or Marinette was going to combust before the end of the day.

 

“You two are so cute together!” Rose commented, moving closer. “I’m so glad you finally had the courage to confess to Adrien!”

 

Adrien looked curious at Marinette, who began to panic. She slung the bag over her shoulder as quickly as possible and took Adrien’s hand.

 

“Yes. Well, we better go so we don’t get late. See you tomorrow, guys.” she said and practically dragged Adrien out of the room.

 

“Mari, calm down,” he said, laughing as he tried to keep up with her hurried pace.

 

“I’m just looking forward to our afternoon together! Let’s have fun,” she said and when they left school, she finally slowed her pace. “So where are we going?”

 

“Hum, we can go to the park and then have something to eat. Or to the movies. What do you prefer?”

 

“The park. Oh, I just remembered, there’s a music event there. It can be cool.”

 

“Yes! Let’s go.” he started leading her into the park, holding hands with her and stroking it with his thumb. It seemed so comfortable that he didn’t even realize what he was doing.

 

“May I ask you a question?”

 

“Sure.” he smiled sweetly, looking at her.

 

“Why do you call me princess?”

 

He choked and began to cough. Marinette frowned, caressing his back as he recovered.

 

“You don’t like the nickname?” he joked.

 

“I do. It’s just, well, Chat Noir calls me a princess.”

 

“Should I be jealous of Chat Noir?” he asked teasingly. Marinette frowned, taking a good look at Adrien’s expression and his smirk. It looked too much like the smirk of a certain black cat…

 

The blond hair, the way he called her princess, the kiss on the hand, the disappearing during the akuma attacks with no plausible explanations. Marinette glanced at his hand, seeing a gray ring.

 

No, that was crazy. Adrien couldn’t be Chat Noir. Chat Noir flirted all the time.

 

But wasn’t that exactly what Adrien had been doing for the past two days?

 

But she had seen Chat Noir and Adrien together when they fought Gorizilla. It wasn’t possible. They couldn't be the same person. She had seen them both together.

 

Yeah, it was just her imagination.

 

“Marinette? Is everything okay?” he asked, concerned.

 

“Oh, yes, of course. I’m sorry, I got distracted for a second. Let’s go, before we lose the festival.”

 

“After you, princess.” he smiled, taking her hand.

 

Marinette was terrified thinking about the date, she didn’t sleep well at night before, wondering how great it could be or how embarrassing she would be in many possible ways.

 

However, the trip to the park was very pleasant. They talked about cartoons and anime they liked, about the games they were to release and which they were eager to try out – including the Ultimate Mecha Strike IV.

 

The park was full and the music was playing in the background. Some food stalls were scattered around the park, so they decided to share something. When Marinette took her purse to pick money, Adrien denied it.

 

“Today is on me.”

 

“So next time is on me,” she said.

 

“Deal.” he winked.

 

The two ate, talking about the songs that played in the background. After they finished eating, Adrien invited her for a walk in the park.

 

He held her hand the entire time, stroking it with his thumb.

 

Biting her bottom lip and feeling a little bold, Marinette stroked back. He looked toward her, smiling and raising her hand to his mouth for a kiss. Marinette smiled sweetly, bending to kiss his cheek.

 

She could have sworn she saw him blush.

 

“Why don’t we sit down?” she said, pointing toward a bench. “So we can listen to songs comfortably.”

 

“It’s a good idea.”

 

But by the time they reached the bench, there were already two women sitting talking. The bench only had room for one more person.

 

“We can try to look elsewhere…” Marinette began to say as Adrien sat on the bench.

 

“Here is perfect, we can see the stage straight. Come.” he pulled her and made Marinette sit sideways on his lap.

 

Marinette’s heart felt like it wanted to escape her chest so hard it beat. Adrien brushed her hair away, leaving her neck exposed, and placed his chin on her shoulder, giving it a light kiss.

 

The women beside them began to smile and Marinette smiled back, feeling so hot she almost fainted on his lap.

 

“Am I not too heavy?” she joked.

 

“So heavy it’s giving me cramps.” he teased back, burying his face in her hair and taking a deep breath. “You smell so good.”

 

Was he trying to kill her?!

 

“Y-yeah?”

 

“Yes. Smells like vanilla. It’s good.” he looked at her. His smile was so wide and pure that Marinette couldn’t stand it.

 

She stroked his cheek and kissed his nose.

 

Maybe that fake dating was the only opportunity Marinette would have to be with Adrien as more than a friend. Then she would put all fear and nervousness aside and enjoy that afternoon as if it were real.

 

Like he really was her boyfriend.

 

As if it wasn’t all a lie.

 

If you’re gonna lie, make it worth it.

 

Adrien’s eyes widened in surprise, but he smiled, kissing her cheek. With one arm around her waist, he put his other hand on her knee, stroking as he asked about her day.

 

The conversation came out so naturally that Marinette wondered why she was so afraid to tell Adrien how she felt about him. Adrien was sweet and kind and he was treating her like a girlfriend that Marinette wondered if he would be like that with his future real girlfriend.

 

The one he would be as sweet and considerate as he was being with her now. If he would bring her flowers, or if he would hug and kiss her. She knew he would be an excellent boyfriend to the girl he decided to love.

 

A girl that maybe wasn’t her.

 

Marinette shook her head, trying to ward off the pain in her chest. Instead, she turned her face toward the stage.

 

“Oh, I love this song!” she smiled.

 

“Do you wanna dance?”

 

“Dance?”

 

“Yes. Come on.” he released her so that Marinette stood and he stood. Taking her hand, he pulled her closer to the stage and wrapped her in his arms.

 

“I don’t think if this song is for dancing,” she said laughing.

 

“We make it for dancing,” he said, placing his hands on her waist. “Remember Chloé’s party? When we dance together for the first time?”

 

“Yes. I was terrified that I was going to step on your foot.”

 

“Yeah?” he said laughing as the two continued moving to the rhythm of the song. Marinette’s hands were on Adrien’s shoulders and his forehead touched hers.

 

“I’m clumsy, remember?”

 

“You are amazing, Marinette. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself, especially Lila.”

 

“Thank you, Adrien. Your faith in me means a lot.”

 

“You don’t have to thank me. It’s the truth.” he kissed her forehead and Marinette closed her eyes.

 

Here was the perfect opportunity. She could do that, she could tell him that she wanted this fake date not to be fake. That she wanted to date him, that she loved him, that the story she told him about the umbrella was true.

 

That she loved him with all her heart.

 

She looked into his eyes and Adrien smiled at her, the same shy smile he had given her when he handed her the umbrella so many years ago.

 

“Can I tell you something just between you and me?”

 

“Of course.”

 

I don’t wanna lie anymore. I can hurt you with the lies.

 

I need you.

 

I’m in love with you.

 

I love you.

 

And I have to tell you the truth.

 

But I can’t.

 

You love another girl.

 

And you won’t love me back.

 

“Hey, Marinette?” he said worriedly, running his thumb over her cheek. “Why are you crying?”

 

“I don’t know!” she sniffled, shaking her head and hugging him tightly, burying her face in his chest. Adrien hugged her tightly, not sure what to do. “I’m so sorry,” she said through tears. “I'm so sorry I put you in this whole mess with my lie. I know your father wants to get you out of school because of me and–”

 

“Wait, wait, wait.” he made her look at him. “Where did you heard that?”

 

“Lila told me and–”

 

“You know very well that Lila is a liar,” he caressed her cheeks. “She’s lying, I’m not in trouble with my father. And I lied too, remember? I agreed with that and I meant it when I said I’ll support you. Don’t worry.”

 

“I didn’t want to cause you any trouble, especially since I know you’re in love with another girl and…” she wrapped her hands around his wrists. “I shouldn’t have said that we’re dating when there’s someone else in your heart.”

 

He opened his mouth to say something, but no sound came out. She closed her eyes and felt him wiping her tears.

 

“No need to worry about this now,” he gave her a sad smile. “The girl I like doesn’t feel the same as me. She already made that clear.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“It happens. But please don’t cry,” he begged, kissing her forehead once more. “I don’t want my girlfriend crying on our first date. And you know what? Your smile is much more beautiful.”

 

“Really?” she gave a half-smile.

 

“There is it! My favorite smile.” he kissed the top of her head this time, hugging her. “Come on, no sadness allowed. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen and dance, what do you say?” and he offered his hands.

 

She caught them, this time actually smiling.

 

“Just guide me, my prince.”

 

“This is my princess.”

 

*

 

Adrien didn’t let Marinette feel sad anymore. They danced until they were breathless, he doing ridiculous dances just to hear her laugh and see her smiling.

 

He loved the sound of her laugh. He loved her vanilla scent. He loved her concentration as they tried to hit groundhogs with a little mallet and her cheering dance when she broke the record.

 

The night was approaching and with that, it was time for Adrien to go home. It had been so hard to convince his father and Nathalie to allow him to spend the afternoon with Marinette.

 

Now, he just wanted to know how Lila learned about his father’s threat.

 

This was no time for investigation. First, he had to take Marinette home. Since the park was close to her house, the two walked slowly on purpose to further extend their moment.

 

Fake date or not, they both loved each other’s company.

 

When he left her at the door, Marinette turned to him and thanked him for the wonderful afternoon.

 

“I’m sorry for my little panic attack earlier. I just got carried away by the excitement.” she smiled, embarrassed.

 

“It’s all right. Really. And about my father, don’t worry. I don’t know why Lila told you this absurd rumor, but it’s a lie. My father didn’t threaten me.”

 

“That’s great. Do you want to come in?” she pointed to the door behind her.

 

“I would love to, but I can’t. I have an appointment later. But thanks for the invitation.”

 

“Thank you again for the wonderful afternoon. I loved it.” she blushed.

 

“Me too.”

 

They both remain silent, unsure of what to do next.

 

“Well, I’d better get in before my parents come and drag you in for dinner with us.”

 

“Tell them next time I’ll accept the invitation.”

 

“I will. Good night, Adrien.”

 

“Good night, Mari.”

 

Right, what now? What should he do? How to say goodbye to your fake girlfriend after your first fake date?

 

“Mari?” he said softly, approaching her.

 

“Yes?” she said as quietly as he.

 

“Can I… can I kiss you?”

 

She gasped, staring at him with bright eyes.

 

Please.”

 

Adrien put one hand on her waist, pulling her closer while the other held her neck and he bent his head to kiss her.

 

He pressed his lips to hers, ready to give her a long kiss when they both heard a horn. Startled, they moved away from the other and Adrien turned to see the limo waiting for him.

 

“I need to go. See you tomorrow?”

 

“Of course. See you tomorrow, Adrien. Good night.”

 

“Good night, Mari.” he kissed her hand. “See you tomorrow.”

 

*

 

Adrien Agreste’s appointment was patrol with Ladybug.

 

He transformed as soon as he was safe in his room and went to their meeting place.

 

“Good evening, my lady, the stars are shining and… Ladybug?” the tone of joy died in his voice when he saw Ladybug sitting quietly in the corner, looking up at the sky with a serious expression.

 

“Hi Chat.” she forced a smile.

 

“Hey, what’s up with your face?”

 

“That’s my face every day, chaton,” she said, lowering her head.

 

“I’m talking about your expression. What happened?”

 

“Chat, have you lied and messed up?”

 

He frowned, sitting beside her.

 

“Several times, my lady. Making mistakes is part of growing up, isn’t it? But what happened?”

 

“I told a very ugly lie to protect my identity. And I dragged a friend with me and ended up putting him in trouble. He said it’s okay and covered me in the lie. But, I don’t know, I feel guilty.”

 

“I’m sorry, my lady. But please, don’t worry about it. I’m sure your friend has forgiven you and he’s not in serious trouble. ”

 

"I hope so, Chat because I don’t ever want to hurt him,” she said, wiping the tears that fell silently down her face. “I worry about him a lot.”

 

“If you don't mind me asking, is this friend the boy you like?”

 

She nodded.

 

“Ouch.” Chat said.

 

“I know.”

 

“I can hug you if you want.”

 

“I’d love to,” she said, leaning against him. Chat hugged her sideways, touching his head to hers as he caressed her arm.

 

“He asked me for a date,” she said, breaking the silence.

 

“Yes? And did you accept?”

 

“I did.”

 

“And how it was?”

 

“I had a wonderful day today. We danced and had a lot of fun. And he treated me very well, like a princess. It’s all I wanted for our first date, but better! I’ve dreamed about this day so many times and I’ve finally had a chance to have it!” she threw her arms up. “Just had a little problem.”

 

“A problem?”

 

“Yes. It’s all fake. Our date is fake because everyone at our school thinks we’re dating, because I said so, so the date was just to keep up appearances.”

 

Adrien felt as if he had been punched in the stomach. All the similarities between Marinette and Ladybug, she vanishing during the akuma attacks without having a good enough excuse, the lie she told to protect her “secret” that put them both into that mess in the first place…

 

It would be very coincidental if they were two totally different people.

 

“Fake?” he asked, pretending to be confused when everything inside his head was a mess and he was screaming inside.

 

“Yes. To protect my identity, I said that when I disappear during the akuma attacks it was because I was going to meet him. Ridiculous, right?” she said, wiping her tears as she laughed. “And you know what’s worse? It’s just that this fake relationship is all I wanted. Yes, I want to date him, but not because of a lie. I really love him. And I want to be his girlfriend. But he likes another one, he told me she doesn’t love him back, but he still loves her, I could see the love he feels for her in his eyes… so I’ll just be content with that lie as long as it lasts.”

 

Did Ladybug – Marinette – love him?

 

Really?

 

Abort! Abort!

 

Chat Noir.exe has stopped working.

 

“Oh, I’m being silly. And crying for no reason again.” she sniffed again. “Do you mind patrol alone today? I’m not feeling good.”

 

“I do the patrol. Go home to rest,” he answered on automatic.

 

“Thanks, chaton,” she kissed his cheek. “Be careful. See you later.”

 

“Ladybug?” he called before she left.

 

“Yes?”

 

“In the lie, how long have you said you were dating him?”

 

“Five months. He said it. Why?”

 

The world swallowed Chat Noir and he was about to faint.

 

“That’s too much. Are you sure you will be able to keep this lie?”

 

“We have to find a way. My identity is in the hands of this lie.”

 

“You have no idea,” he whispered.

 

“What did you say?” she asked confused.

 

“Nothing. Go home and rest, my lady, I’ll take good care of Paris.”

 

“Right. Good night, Chat.” she picked up the yo-yo and left.

 

He didn’t know how he finished patrol and got home. If someone asked him, he would not know the answer because he acted on automatic.

 

When he arrived in his room, he destransformed himself and handed the cheese to Plagg without realizing what he was doing. He fell flat on the bed, holding the pillow and putting it in his face to scream.

 

“I don’t believe it.” he started to laugh nervously. “Plagg, I just don’t believe it!”

 

“What?” Plagg said, sitting on the bed beside him as he ate the cheese quietly as if his chosen wasn’t dying inside beside him.

 

“How couldn’t I notice before? Marinette is Ladybug! She’s Ladybug, isn’t she?” he said, taking the kwami by the tail.

 

“ADRIEN!” Plagg shouted.

 

“Tell me I’m right or I swear I’ll freak out, Plagg," he said, lifting the kwami to his eyes.

 

“I can’t confirm or deny your conclusion,” Plagg said, staring at the cheese lying on the bed. “I can only confirm that you’re making me miss the chance to eat my wonderful cheese.”

 

“I’m dating Marinette. I’m dating Ladybug!” he laughed, hugging the pillow and falling into bed, flapping his legs in such agitation that he was. He felt as if a bubble of happiness was growing inside his chest. “I’m dating Ladybug, Plagg!”

 

“Correction: you’re fake dating Ladybug.”

 

Then the truth covered Adrien like a bucket of cold water. He sat up, eyes wide and hands in his hair, pulling in frustration.

 

“Oh my God, I’m fake dating Ladybug! She thinks everything is fake!”

 

“Exactly.”

 

Adrien took the pillow, put it on her face again and let out the loudest scream of his life.

 

“I hate my life.” Adrien finally whispered.

 

“Ditto,” Plagg whispered back, eating the whole piece of cheese.

Chapter Text

Adrien couldn’t sleep.

 

This was no surprise since he had discovered that the love of his life had been by his side all this time. The girl he spent nights wondering how she would be like, where she would be, was right next to him.

 

All this time he’s been trying to win her over, trying to make her love him too… all this time he’s been secretly hating a faceless boy, wondering why he had never noticed how Ladybug felt.

 

All this time she’s been loving a boy.

 

All this time she’s been loving him.

 

He was that time cockblocking himself.

 

He took the pillow, putting it on his face to contain the urge to scream again. The last thing he needed was for Nathalie to come into his room asking why he was screaming. Because, seriously, how could he explain?

 

My girlfriend, who is actually my fake girlfriend, and my crime fight partner are the same person and I just found that out while she confessed the love she feels for my civil side to my hero side!

 

This was confusing even to him.

 

He turned on the bed for the infinite time, trying to relax his body and rest his mind. He needed sleep, he needed to sleep so bad, but he couldn’t. Everything was too hectic in his head, everything was screaming at him to go to Marinette and tell him that he was Chat Noir and that he knew she was Ladybug and that they could be together and no longer need to be fake dating, they could be together and—

 

He sat up, giving up on sleep. He really couldn’t sleep, staying in bed forcing himself to sleep was only going to be worse. Plagg was still sleeping, belly up and so peaceful that Adrien was jealous.

 

How was Marinette? She had had a crying attack during the date and during the patrol, she had also cried while opening her heart about how she felt about Adrien. Now it all made sense, every time she got so nervous talking to him, her attempts to be alone with him. Two years they loved each other, but they didn’t know. For two years she kept secret how much she loved him.

 

“I am so blind. I wonder if she is feeling better,” he muttered to himself as he picked up his cell phone thinking about texting her. “What if it’s so late and she’s sleeping and I end up waking her up? I don’t want to disturb her, but I need to know how she is.”

 

His eyes widened. He knew how to make sure Marinette was fine without disturbing her.

 

He glanced at Plagg, seeing that his kwami slept soundly, as if nothing was happening, and hesitated. Plagg would probably want to kill him, but it wasn’t fair for him to watch his sleeping kwami while he couldn’t do the same.

 

And Plagg would understand later — even if Adrien had to buy him cheese.

 

“Hey, Plagg,” Adrien said, scratching the kwami’s head. He could hear the purr and felt a little guilty for what he was about to do. “I can’t sleep.”

 

“Really?” Plagg grunted.

 

“Yes,” Adrien intensified the affection.

 

“Too bad, kid, because I can. Good night.” Plagg turned on the bed and continued to purr. Adrien gasped, stopping the affection.

 

“Do you know what would really help me, Plagg?”

 

“Please don’t tell me you’re going to visit your fake girlfriend…”

 

“Actually, I was going to say a walk, but you gave me a better suggestion.” Plagg opened his eyes, widening them. “Plagg—”

 

“Don’t you dare, Adrien—”

 

“— transforme moi!”

 

Plagg’s grunts were silenced as Adrien transformed. He picked up the baton, slipped out the bedroom window with one destination in mind: Marinette Dupain Cheng’s room — his lady’s room.

 

When he landed on her balcony, everything was dark, she probably should be sleeping. Adrien sighed with relief, glad to know she was resting. Just wanting to confirm, he approached the trapdoor and looked inside, making sure it was just to check if she was really sleeping.

 

She was not in her bed.

 

He bit his lower lip, unsure of what to do. Should he knock? But what if she didn’t listen? Or if she listened and woke up?

 

What should he do?

 

But before making any decision, a voice reached his ears.

 

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you that it’s ugly to spy on people?”

 

He shouted as Marinette threw herself at him, trying to cover his mouth.

 

“My parents are awake, be silent!” she whispered furiously, trying to hold Chat, who managed to control the urge to scream and stared at Marinette. “Do you want to get me in trouble, kitty? How was I going to explain your presence to my parents?”

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

She pointed to the chair with a blanket in the corner of the balcony. She rubbed her eyes, looking tired.

 

“I couldn’t sleep and decided to sit here. My room was a bit suffocating. What are you doing here so late?”

 

“I…” he scratched his neck nervously. He noted that Marinette’s eyes scanned the movement curiously. “I couldn’t sleep and decided to take a walk.”

 

“And you decided to spy on sleeping girls?” she teased.

 

“No!” he shouted.

 

“Chat! I already told you my parents are awake.”

 

“They are bakers and have to get up early, I understand. But what keeps you awake?”

 

She looked away, hugging herself.

 

“It’s complicated.”

 

“Hey,” he said sweetly, placing his hand on her shoulders. “We are friends, right? If you want to talk about anything, I’m here for you, princess.”

 

Marinette tensed and Chat wanted to knock himself. The nickname came so easily out of his mouth that he didn’t notice until he saw her reaction.

 

“Why don’t we sit down and you tell me what is not letting you sleep?”

 

She looked thoughtful but still stubborn. This tactic wasn’t going to work then. He needed to talk to her some other way.

 

“Tell me, have you ever seen the sunrise?”

 

She shook her head, smiling.

 

“I’m a late sleeper. Why?”

 

He grinned, reaching for her.

 

“Piggyback?”

 

“My parents told me not to trust strangers.”

 

“Lucky for you, we’re not strangers.” he winked.

 

“Where do you want to take me, Chat Noir?”

 

“To see the sunrise from a privileged view and try to distract you. Come on, get your blanket and come with your friend Chat Noir.”

 

He saw a little distrust in her face, but at last, Marinette took her blanket and approached him.

 

“I have school.”

 

“I know. I’ll bring you in time, I promise. Come on.” and he helped her up to his back. With the baton in hand, he turned his face sideways so he could try to see her.

 

“Hang on, princess.”

 

And with that, he took her to his favorite place.

 

*

 

She felt a little hurt to see Chat Noir bringing her to a place that meant so much to Ladybug and Chat Noir. A place where they liked to meet before patrol, where they talked until late.

 

The place where she kissed him one last time, two years ago, for some reason they couldn’t remember — the day they fought Oblivio.

 

She thought it was special just for both of them, she never imagined he would bring another girl there and… wait, why was she jealous?

 

She slid off his back, opening the blanket and covering herself to avoid the cold breeze.

 

“Wait, not here,” he said, holding her by her waist. “Up here is better.”

 

With that, he set the baton down and rose, climbing to the glass fence.

 

“Chat…” she said scared, looking down. It was one thing to be there, in her suit and with the yo-yo if she needed to. Another was just being in pajamas and without any support.

 

“Don’t worry. I’m here to hold you. Come on.” he tightened his grip on her waist as he sat with her by his side, being careful not to scare her. “It will be worth it, I promise.”

 

“I trust you.” she smiled, adjusting the blanket. “Want to share?”

 

“If it won’t bother you.”

 

“It’s huge. Come here.”

 

Chat agreed, settling next to Marinette so they could share the blanket. Finally, she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, totally forgetting that she was not Ladybug at that moment.

 

He leaned toward her, too, and they were silent for a while.

“Cuddles, a blanket, a beautiful girl and the sunrise. To be perfect, I just need a kiss,” he said, flirting. Marinette opened her eyes, staring at him in disbelief and then rolling her eyes.

 

“Years have passed and you haven’t improved your flirting yet.”

 

“Well, my flirting made you fall in love with me. Or have you forgotten the time you confessed to me on your balcony?”

 

She blushed, remembering the ridiculous excuse she’d said thinking Chat was about to conclude she was Ladybug. She still cringed and was ashamed of how her father was a Marichat shipper.

 

“Well, that was years ago. Today I am more demanding with flirting.”

 

“Oh, really? So tell me what I need to do for you to give this kitten here a chance.” he was so close but so close, that the tips of his noses were touching.

 

“I have a boyfriend, Chat.” she put her hand on his chest and pushed him away.

 

She saw Chat wince and try to hide a smile. She frowned again, trying to understand his reaction, but he distracted her by placing her hand on his chest and panting.

 

“Who dared to steal my princess from me? Tell me, my princess, and I will cataclysm his face!”

 

“Don’t you dare, stray cat!” she said, crossing her arms. “He didn’t steal me from you, I was never yours, to begin with.”

 

“You were in love with me, princess.”

 

“Well, I fell in love with him.” she took a deep breath. “Even when I shouldn’t, I did.”

 

“Oh no. It looks really complicated. Is that why you can’t sleep?”

 

“I told you it was complicated.”

 

“Want to talk about?”

 

“Not much to say. I fell in love with Adrien and I don’t know if I really made the right choice. Choice.” she gave a bitter laugh. “As if we could choose who we fall in love with.”

 

“You say this as you regretted it.”

 

“Oh no.” she greedily shook her head. “I will never regret falling in love with Adrien. He’s kind, sweet, smart and awesome and I’m very lucky to be dating him and I feel very happy.”

 

“But…?”

 

“But I don’t know if he really feels the same. I love him so much, Chat. I love him for his concern for people. I love the affection he has for his friends. I love him for his kindness in helping others. I love him for the person he is. For his smile, for his eyes. I love him since he handed me that umbrella.” she took a deep breath. “I had been so cruel and unfair to him and still he came to apologize to me. He didn’t have to, but he apologized and even offered me his umbrella.”

 

She glanced sideways, seeing Chat quietly, devouring every word she said.

 

“A lot of girls like him. Chloé liked him, and then came Lila and Kagami. They are so much prettier and able to talk to him while I… I’m just me.” she looked down at her hands. “I tried many ways to say that I love him and always failed. I just wanted to let him know how much I love him, how happy I feel beside him, even as just a friend, and how my world got so much more amazing after I met him. And then… he became my boyfriend, I felt like the happiest and luckiest person in the world!”

 

“Princess… I’m sure he really likes you.”

 

“Yes, I know he likes me. At least as a friend. But I don’t want him to just like me, Chat. I want him to love me. That’s why I can’t sleep.” she took a deep breath. “I keep thinking about what I can do so he can notice how important he is to me. How much I want him to be happy, how much I want to make him happy. I want to take him for walks, give him gifts, affection and love. I want him to see how special he is and how much he means to me. How much he deserves to be loved. And I want to be the person he loves back because he deserves to be loved, Chat. I want to be his best friend, his best girlfriend, his best wife. I want to say yes to him, I want to have his children. I want to grow old beside him.”

 

She wiped her tears, laughing.

 

“And most importantly, I want him to want that too.”

 

She heard Chat gasp and turned her face, seeing that he was crying too. Smiling in tears, she thumbed the side of his cheek, wiping away the tears that fell.

 

“What’s up, kitty? Is my babbling so bad?”

 

He took her hand, squeezing it tight and kissing so lovingly that it made Marinette’s chest burn inside. Still holding her hand with one hand, with the other he caressed her face and held it.

 

“You’re the most amazing person in the world, Marinette.” and saying that, he bent to kiss her.

 

In a panic, she put both hands on his chest, stopping him. Chat blinked, trying to figure out what was going on and why she had stopped him.

 

“Chat, I like you, but as a friend. I love Adrien, I literally just told you that. Yes, I had a crush on you, but it’s been a long time. It’s Adrien that I love.”

 

She saw Chat blush and release her as if she were burning him. He rose, mumbling apologies as he walked away from her.

 

“Oh my God, Marinette, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have tried to kiss you—”

 

“Chat—”

 

“— how stupid of me to throw myself at you—”

 

“Chat—”

 

“You love Adrien, you were confessing your feelings about him and I tried to kiss you! Stupid, stupid—”

 

“CHAT!” she shouted.

 

he widened his eyes, staring at her.

 

“The sun is rising.” she pointed to the sky and he turned, looking. “Why don’t we both share the blanket and just enjoy the view?”

 

He hesitated, but finally agreed and sat down beside her. They nestled, watching the sun rising in silence. She began to feel sleepy, her eyes heavy.

 

“Chat?” she whispered, almost asleep.

 

“Yes?”

 

“You’re the most amazing person in this world too.”

 

She slept shortly after that, but she could have sworn she felt him kiss her head.

 

*

 

Adrien hadn’t slept at all last night, had enough caffeine in his blood to feed a convention of anonymous alcoholics, but he felt like the happiest person in the world.

 

Marinette loved him so much and wanted him by her side…

 

Of course, his happiness died upon entering school and bumping into Lila, who approached all smiles at him.

 

“Adrien!” she moved closer and tried to hug him, but he stepped aside, avoiding it.

 

“Hi, Lila. I really wanted to talk to you.”

 

“Ah, this is amazing. What’s up?”

 

“Stay away from Marinette.”

 

“What?”

 

“I know you are threatening her and you told her about my conversation with my father. I don’t know how you know about it, but you’re forbidden to use it against Marinette.”

 

“Look, Adrien, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I swear I don’t know anything and I’m not even threatening Marinette, she is lying.” Her tone was so fake that made Adrien angrier.

 

“I really hope that’s true, because if it isn’t, Lila…” he stared at her with such a serious expression that Lila shuddered with fear. “I swear you’ll pay.”

 

Saying that he walked right past her and into the living room.

 

When Adrien entered, he sighed in love. Marinette slept on her desk. Alya laughed, taking a picture and Adrien’s cell phone vibrated. He picks it and saw the picture of Marinette smiling sent by Alya.

 

He laughed, saving and approaching her desk slowly.

 

“What did you two did last night? She’s dead for the world.” Alya said, rising from her chair.

 

“I didn’t see her after I left her at home. We went to the park in the afternoon.”

 

“Sit next to her, you can keep her awake. I’m going to sit next to Nino.”

 

“Thank you, Alya,” he said, kissing her head. She sighed, wincing more. “Princess?” he whispered in her ear. “It’s time to wake up.”

 

She sighed and slowly opened her eyes, blinking as she sat down. Adrien sat next to her and smiled.

 

“Good morning, sleeping beauty. What happened? Why are you so sleepy?”

 

“A stray cat kept me awake,” she murmured, scratching her eyes and yawning. Adrien smiled, but soon after yawned, infected by her yawn. “What about you? Why are you sleepy?”

 

With a passionate look, he stared at her.

 

“A princess kept me up last night.”

 

Adrien watched as a burning blush appeared on her cheeks and spread across her ears and neck. Was it a very obvious clue? He saw her eyes widen and she was very quiet. Did he… did he break her?

 

“Marinette?” he said softly.

 

She clenched her hands into fists, looking suspiciously at him.

 

“Adrien?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“We’ll talk after class,” she whispered softly. “Kitty.

 

Oh shit.

Chapter Text

Adrien has never felt so tense in his life. He wanted to give her a hint, yes, but he didn’t expect her to find out all that fast, especially in the middle of class while he was sitting next to her.

 

During the class, he noticed that she was trying to pay attention, but with the sleepless night plus the information that surely ran through her head, while she tried to process what she had discovered, kept her inattentive.

 

He could see that instead of taking notes, Marinette was doodling in the corner of the page. Some of them were Chat Noir with “x” in the eyes. He swallowed and she turned to his side, raising an eyebrow. He shrank back in his seat and he could have sworn she rolled her eyes, smirking.

 

Marinette had discovered that he was Chat Noir, but she still didn’t know he knew she was Ladybug. So he thought it best to keep this a secret for now. If she knew, he was afraid of how many ways she could draw Chat Noir dying.

 

The class was over and the sign indicated the beginning of lunchtime. He started packing so he could leave, but Marinette gripped his wrist, staring at him without a smile.

 

He would die there, he was sure.

 

His colleagues started to leave, Nino casting a curious look in their direction, but before he even thought to interfere, Alya pulled him away.

 

So just Marinette and Adrien were in the room.

 

“So a princess kept you up all night. Did you two have fun?”

 

He frowned. Wait, what does she mean? She was the princess. She had called him Kitty, she had discovered everything, no? Or had he misunderstood what she had said and…

 

“Look, Marinette…”

 

“I confessed to you,” she said, burying her face in her hands. “I said everything, everything! I opened my heart to the wrong side of you!”

 

“Hey,” he said, sliding into the seat until he was very close to her. Careful not to scare her, Adrien wrapped Marinette in his arms, hugging her tightly. “It was me, only with a cat costume. But it was me all the time.”

 

“But…”

 

“Marinette, why do you think Chat tried to kiss you?” he made her stare him, holding her face with both hands and smiling, trying to reassure her. “Why do you think I cried? I completely forgot that I wasn’t Adrien at that moment. The only thing I could think of was how my chest was filled with joy and how I felt so loved at that moment and how attractive your mouth looked and how I just wanted to kiss you and lose myself in you…” he brushed her hair away from her face. “If you hadn’t pushed me, I would probably have revealed my identity at that very moment.”

 

“Well, I found out now! And I shouldn’t know, your identity has to be secret. What if Papillon uses this against you and Ladybug? She’ll want to kill you when she knows you revealed yourself to your fake girlfriend.”

 

“Pffft… don’t worry, it will never happen. We will be careful, I promise. Papillon wouldn’t be able to use our identities against ourselves. Besides, Ladybug will understand me, I’m sure so.”

 

She scowled but finally sighed.

 

“What you said last night, about how you felt about Adrien, that was all true, wasn’t it?” he asked in a very low voice, feeling like a helpless child suddenly, for Marinette’s lack of response to his affection.

 

“Yes. It was all true.”

 

“Do you really not regret falling in love with me?”

 

“No, Adrien. I don’t regret it. I think I would never be able to regret choosing you to love.”

 

“I’m happy about that, Mari, because I really don’t know what I would do if this were all fake.”

 

“But our dating is fake, Adrien.” she looked around as if afraid someone was listening to them. “We made a deal.”

 

“But what if I don’t want this deal anymore?” he took her hands, still not meeting her eyes. “What if I don’t want to pretend to be your boyfriend anymore?”

 

She tried to move her hands away, but he squeezed tight and made Mari look into his eyes and see how sincere his words were.

 

“I want us to date, but not because of a lie. I want us to date because I love you and I want you by my side. I want to love you, kiss you, be by your side in the good and bad times. I want to be more than your friend, I want to be your best friend, your boyfriend, your husband. I want you to be by my side not because of a lie and an excuse. I want you to stay by my side because you want to be by my side because you make me feel good as I want to make you feel good. Marinette, I’m completely in love with you. I want to date you. And I want you to want to date me.”

 

She gasped, smiling sweetly as she threw herself into his arms. Adrien hugged her tightly, burying his face in her hair like he wanted to do last night and couldn’t.

 

“No more fake dating?” he asked.

 

“No more fake dating,” she assured.

 

“That’s great because my father invites you to dinner with us on Saturday.” he took her hands, giving kisses. “It would be great to introduce you to him.”

 

Marinette’s eyes widened and she began to babbling.

 

“I don’t know if— what if— I haven’t made any dresses recently and— what if your dad doesn’t like me?” she asked finally, agitated. Adrien laughed, caressing her face.

 

“I find it impossible for someone not to like you, princess.”

 

“I hope you’re right, Adrien.” she hugged him as he caressed her face. “I hope you’re right.”

 

*

 

During the afternoon class, Papillon decided it would be nice to attack Paris. The alarm rang and everyone started to get up to go into hiding. Alya had already picked up her cell phone, eager to rush into action. Marinette felt Adrien beside her in seconds, taking her hand. As soon as they left the room, he ran into the locker room, pulling her with him.

 

“What do you think you’re doing?” she said, trying to break free of his grip. “You should be looking for a place to transform!”

 

“First, I’ll make sure you’re safe.”

 

“Adrien, Paris is in danger. And you need to transform.” she hissed, looking around. The two were alone.

 

“I know, but you are terrified of akumas. I want to keep you safe. Please,” he said, opening one of the lockers so she could hide. “You hide here and stay here until I come for you, okay? I’ll be back when things get back to normal.”

 

She felt a good warmth fill her chest and smiled. That boy’s kindness couldn’t be measured. With his help, she entered the closet.

 

“Adrien?” she said before he could close the door.

 

“Yes?”

 

With a boldness she didn’t know where she came from, she pulled him by the collar of his shirt and kissed the corner of her mouth.

 

“Be careful and come back to me,” she whispered against his lips and felt him shiver. Adrien’s eyes stared at her mouth for a short while, but to her, it seemed eternal. The proximity of his body was making her confused.

 

“Princess…”

 

“Paris, kitty.” she reminded him. He closed his eyes in agreement. “Be careful, okay?”

 

“Don’t worry,” he smirked, like Chat Noir. “I have my lady to protect me.”

 

He closed the door soon after and she leaned against the back of the locker, putting her hand on her chest and trying to control her heartbeat.

 

“Marinette?” Tikki said, stopping in front of her holder. “Is everything ok?”

 

“I guess so. I just need a minute.” Marinette closed her eyes for a few seconds, hoping it was safe to leave. “We need to be very quiet. Tikki, transform moi!”

 

Once transformed, Ladybug emerged from the locker room, careful not to be heard, and went looking for the action. Chat Noir was already fighting the akuma and seemed eager to end the fight soon. She conjured the lucky charm, they took the akumatized object and when she finished capturing the akuma, Ladybug turned to him.

 

“What’s the rush, chaton? Got a date or something?” she teased.

 

“Yes and I’m very late for it. Pound it, my lady,” he said before taking the baton and disappearing before Ladybug could answer.

 

She panicked. If he got to where she was before him, he would find out she was Ladybug and everything would be even more confusing. She was still getting used to the fact that Chat was her partner — during the fight, she was distracted a few times because it was Adrien right beside her, struggling to keep Paris safe.

 

 

Feeling bad that she couldn’t comfort the victim — her identity was more important at the moment! — Ladybug picked up the yo-yo and practically flew back to school. When he walked through the locker room window, she transformed and ran to hide in the locker.

 

She was still trying to control her breathing when Adrien opened the door, smiling with relief at the sight of her.

 

“My princess,” he said, pulling her around the waist to him. Holding her chin with his thumb and forefinger, he lowered his face so he could kiss her. Marinette gladly reciprocates, placing her hands on his neck and stroking her fingers, playing with the small strands of hair there.

 

Adrien made a noise with his mouth that made her shudder from head to toe as he pushed her lightly against the closet, intensifying the kiss. Marinette’s head spun as her heart seemed to want to escape from her chest. She hugged him tighter, feeling his hands caress the skin at her waist as he broke the kiss so he could begin to kiss her neck.

 

Adrien lifted her a little and she almost sighed with relief because it was already bothering her to tiptoe to kiss him.

 

“Ah, so that’s why you two disappeared during an akumas attack!”

 

Adrien released her at once as if she were on fire — which she was — and she fell on her butt to the floor.

 

“Oh my God, Mari!” he said desperately as help got up. “Are you all right?”

 

“Yes, I didn’t get hurt, don’t worry.”

 

“Well…” Nino laughed and Adrien and Marinette looked at them, blushing. “Now we understand why you two prefer to hide together during the akumas attack.”

 

“Yes, that was hot!”

 

“Alya!”

 

“We don’t—”

 

“It’s not like that and—”

 

“Relax, you two. I’m just teasing you. Come on, we need to get back to class. By the way, you two are really cute together.” Alya smiled, taking Nino’s hand and leaving the locker room.

 

Adrien and Marinette exchanged a look, blushing, even more, when they realized what they were doing before they were interrupted.

 

“Mari?” he said, taking her hand.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I didn’t want to be interrupted.” he gave her a shy smile.

 

She smiled back, stroking his hand.

 

“Me neither. But you know…” she lowered her voice so Alya and Nino wouldn’t hear them. “The trapdoor for my room will stay open if a certain stray cat wants to come in and continue what we started…”

 

If someone asked why Adrien started coughing, Marinette would just shrug and say that she didn’t know, when in fact she had been the cause of it.

 

 

 

Later, Marinette was in her pajamas and watching a video of cats on her cell phone when she heard a little tap on her trapdoor. When she looked up, she saw Chat waving at her.

 

Smiling, she sat on the bed and opened the trapdoor to let her stray cat in.

 

“Hello, Princess.”

 

“Hello, kitty,” she said, making room for him to enter. “Don’t step on my bed!” she said before he could even enter.

 

“Can I… can I destransform?”

 

“If you feel comfortable, yes.”

 

“Okay.” he took a deep breath as if bracing himself and then whispered the phrase. A green light enveloped him and after that, Adrien Agreste was looking at her, expecting to be invited into her room.

 

She moved to the side and Adrien walked down the door to her room. Then they looked at each other, neither daring to say anything to the other.

 

“Hey,” he said a little cautiously. “It’s still just me.”

 

“I know. It’s just that seeing you destransform is different from knowing, you know?”

 

“I think I do.”

 

They both sat on her bed, still silent.

 

“Mari?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Can I hug you?”

 

She smiled, stretching her arms. Adrien leaned over, hugging her and kissing her head. Then the discomfort simply vanished.

 

“So what are we going to do?” he asked.

 

“I have some ideas.” pulling away from the hug, Marinette lay back on the bed and pulled him to lie beside her. He took her cell phone — which was under his back — and opened the video of cats she was watching.

 

Adrien gasped.

 

“I love this video!”

 

“It’s amazing!” she laughed, resting her head on his shoulder. Adrien took the phone from her and held it while they cuddled and watched the video.

 

With his free hand, Adrien stroked Marinette’s arm, his fingertips tracing a path up and down her skin. He looked so immersed in the video that he didn’t notice that she practically melted in his embrace.

 

Marinette turned her face from the phone screen and looked at Adrien. He looked so calm and peaceful, laughing while watching cats falling. Comfortable.

 

Like he was at home.

 

She reached out, stroking his chin with her thumb. He purred but still kept his eyes on the screen. Smiling, she began to scratch his chin, just as she liked to do when she was Ladybug. He closed his eyes, the phone falling into his lap.

 

“Did I break my kitten?”

 

“That’s not fair,” he grunted but turned his face to ease the caress.

 

“Not fair? I spent over two years watching you from a distance without being able to caress you. That’s not fair.”

 

“Well, now you can pet me as much as you want.”

 

“That’s good.” she kissed the tip of his nose. “So can I do this?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And this?” she kissed his chin this time.

 

“Of course.”

 

“And this?” she kissed his chest, close to where his heart was.

 

“As many times as you want.” he was breathless. Laughing, Marinette looked at him.

 

“I’m glad to hear that.” and saying that she kissed him.

 

Adrien returned the kiss, following her with his mouth when she started to pull away to break the kiss. They both kept their eyes closed, their mouths close, just enjoying the proximity of the other.

 

Until the next video started on Marinette’s cell phone and it was loud. The two were startled and beat their foreheads. Laughing, Adrien picked up the phone and silenced it.

 

He lay with his back on her bed, staring at the trapdoor, which, thanks to the glass, showed the starry sky above. Marinette rested her head on his shoulder, looking at the stars as well.

 

They didn’t know how long they stayed like this, talking about the school, music, movies. He talked a little about his adventures as Chat Noir and Marinette smiled when she felt the love he had for being a hero of Paris.

 

After a few hours, he sighed.

 

“I need to go. If someone shows up in my room and I’m not there, I don’t even want to imagine the punishment I’m going to receive.”

 

“Nooo!” she said sadly, turning to look at him. Adrien kept his eyes on the starry sky, looking mesmerized.

 

“I know, princess. I really wanted to stay, but I better go. Man, how can you sleep at night? If I had this view of the stars, I don’t know if I would be able to sleep.”

 

“Yeah.” she sighed in love, looking at him.

 

“Mari,” he said, turning to her and laughing. “You weren’t even looking at the stars.”

 

“You’re right. I was looking at my favorite one.”

 

Adrien made a strangled noise and hugged her tightly, making her laugh softly. He peppered kisses all over her face and somehow she stopped lying in bed with him over her.

 

“I need to go now.”

 

“I know.”

 

“But I don’t want to go.”

 

“I know.”

 

He rolled his eyes playfully and placed a long kiss on her mouth. Marinette sighed at the end of the kiss.

 

“See you tomorrow?”

 

“Of course, my kitty.”

 

Exchanging one more kiss with his princess, he transformed and left by the trapdoor. She started to close but changed her mind.

 

Marinette slept that night under the stars and the scent of Adrien on her pillow.

 

*

 

Saturday night arrived earlier than Adrien had expected.

 

Marinette was a nervous wreck, and he tried anyway to calm her down, making sure that everything would work out, that she and Gabriel would get along and that he would approve of their relationship.

 

The visits as Chat and the kisses exchanged during the visits were not enough to help her, especially since she insisted on creating a dress to impress his father. According to Marinette, this dinner had to be perfect.

 

He hadn’t told her about his father’s threat, why he didn't need to. He knew perfectly well that his father would love Marinette, there was no need to worry and stress her more.

 

He went with Gorilla to Marinette’s house earlier that night to pick her up. When Marinette left the bakery, he lost his breath.

 

Adrien had always known that pink was Marinette’s favorite color, but he never thought she would look so beautiful in a pink dress. Yeah, he already saw her wearing pink, but the dress was different. He had even seen the designs of the dress and gone with her to buy the fabric for the dress but seeing it ready, seeing Marinette dressing it… nothing had prepared him for that. She was beautiful, with her loose hair, pink lipstick matching her dress…

 

He put his hand on his chest, feeling his eyes fill with tears.

 

“My princess,” he said, approaching her. He took her hand gently, kissing tenderly. “You’re beautiful.”

 

“My prince,” she whispered, kissing his cheek. “You’re beautiful too.”

 

“I want to kiss you so bad now…” he said.

 

“And I want to be kissed so bad right now… but your father will kill us if we are late. We can kiss later.”

 

“I’ll be looking forward to it. Shall we?”

 

“Yes.” she took his hand and let him guide her to the limo.

 

 

 

When they reached the mansion, his father was waiting for them in the hallway, with Nathalie by his side. He wore a black suit and looked as serious and cold as ever. Adrien held Marinette’s hand, feeling a little nervous. He knew Marinette was lovely, the problem was his father’s temperament.

 

“Good evening, Miss Dupain,” Gabriel said, approaching them.

 

“Dupain Cheng.” she corrected and then blushed. “Forgive me, but it’s because…”

 

Gabriel smirked, shaking her hand.

 

“I get it, Miss Dupain Cheng. You’re proud of your family and name and you’re right. It’s a beautiful name.”

 

“Thank you, sir.”

 

“Let’s go to the dining room. Nathalie, please have them serve dinner.”

 

“Yes sir,” Nathalie said, leaving the hallway.

 

Adrien looked out of the corner of his eye at Marinette, who was so pale she looked about to faint. He took her hand tighter, made her face him, and smiled to comfort her.

 

“You’re doing great,” he said softly. She nodded but still looked terrified.

 

When they arrived in the dining room, Adrien pulled the chair for Marinette to sit and caressed her face before sitting on her left side, with his father on his right and in the edge of the table.

 

“No caresses at the table, Adrien. Remember our deal.”

 

“I’m sorry, father.”

 

Marinette cast a curious look in Adrien’s direction and he quietly denied.

 

“My son said you like fashion, Miss Dupain Cheng.”

 

Adrien noticed Marinette tensing with the emphasis on her last name.

 

“Call me Marinette, sir. I prefer this. And yes, I like fashion. I usually do my own things.”

 

“Oh, right. Marinette. This dress is beautiful, you made it?”

 

“Yes sir.” she smiled excitedly.

 

“How was the process?”

 

Marinette smiled excitedly, detailing the whole process of creating the dress. Adrien listened to her father talking to Marinette, feeling relief. They were doing so well, understanding each other. Everything would work out in the end.

 

That’s what he expected, but…

 

“Well, Marinette, I can see that you are very creative, but you need to be more focused and have more innovative ideas if you want to be a famous fashion designer. It’s a very competitive world, I don’t think you’re ready for it.”

 

Adrien watched the color fade from Marinette’s face and for a moment he wanted to throw something toward his father. Under the table, he took Marinette’s hand, stroking it so that it could comfort her.

 

“Father—” Adrien began.

 

“Adrien, you know perfectly well that is true. You’ve been in this world since you were born. You know perfectly well how competitive it is. I’m just helping your girlfriend realize if this is really what she wants.”

 

“Yes but—”

 

“Dinner will be served,” Nathalie warned. Some servants entered, starting to set the platters with various plates on the table. Everything looked good and delicious, and Adrien felt his stomach growl. He couldn’t wait to try it all!

 

But when he started serving food for himself, he saw Marinette tense and pale more. She looked at her food and cutlery as if they were about to attack her, which was ridiculous because she defeated villains almost every day.

 

“Hey, my love,” he said. “Do you want help?”

 

“She can help herself, Adrien,” Gabriel said as Nathalie served him. “Be my guest, Marinette. I hope you enjoy dinner.”

 

Adrien watched Marinette all the time, trying to help her somehow, but since his lady was amazing, she managed to do everything by herself. His father said nothing.

And then, when she took one fork so she could eat…

 

“My dear, this fork is not for that,” Gabriel said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

 

Marinette dropped her fork as if it were poisoned. Adrien clenched his fist, trying to contain the urge to hit his father, especially after seeing that Marinette was holding back her tears.

 

“Here, princess,” he said gently, taking the same fork she’d chosen and bringing a forkful of salad to his mouth. “Fits the same way…”

 

“Adrien…” his father warned.

 

“Yes, father? She has never seen this much cutlery in her life. I said it could be a simple dinner, you made it into a feast.”

 

Dinner followed, with little conversation. Marinette was quieter, all that joy and passion of earlier faded with his father’s unnecessary comments. Adrien kept stroking her hand under the table, trying to give her some strength.

 

During dessert, his father wiped his mouth and checked his cell phone.

 

“Sales have been falling since you started dating, Adrien,” he commented. “Your dating has made your fans heartbroken. We need to do something to change that.”

 

“We don’t have to,” he said. Marinette looked toward him, this time stroking his hand to soothe him. “I’m not going to break up with Mari just because of some sales.”

 

“I am not suggesting this, Adrien. I am just suggesting that we make some changes. For example, you can keep dating Miss Dupain Cheng, but in secret. Your photos with Miss Rossi have been a great success and some fans hope that you two will be together. Or even Miss Tsurugi.”

 

What?!

 

Marinette set the glass of water she was drinking on the table and stood up.

 

“Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom,” she said.

 

“Marinette…” he tried to call her, but she left without even hearing him. Adrien turned to his father, trying to contain all the hatred that burned within him. “What’s your problem, father?”

 

“Pardon?”

 

“You spent all night mistreating and despising Marinette, saying she’s not talented enough and saying that our dating is the cause of a sales slump at Gabriel when there’s nothing about it? Suggesting that I should hide my relationship with her and pretend to be with Kagami or Lila?! That’s sick and insane.”

 

“She needs to be aware that you are Adrien Agreste and that you are famous. She needs to know what she will face in the fashion world, she is a child thinking that clothing designer is a walk in the park. Believe me, my harsh words are best for her.”

 

“You don’t know what’s best for her,” Adrien growled, rising from the table.

 

“Sit.”

 

“Sitting here while the love of my life is upset in the bathroom? I don’t think so.”

 

“You’re only sixteen, Adrien. You have no idea what love is. This sudden crush on Miss Dupain is nothing.”

 

“Dupain Cheng. And it’s not just a crush, Father. I love her. And if you had the least desire to spend time with me, you would know how intense my love for her is. Excuse me.” and saying that, Adrien left the room to look for Marinette.

 

*

 

“Don’t you think you were a little cruel to the girl?” Nathalie asked as she followed Gabriel into the office.

 

“You know her, Nathalie. For two years, I’ve been trying to akumatize her, but I was never able to do that. Something tells me she’s going to be the perfect akuma. And her love for my son will be her downfall, Nathalie,” he said, moving closer to his wife’s painting.

 

“And hurting Adrien during the process is worth it?”

 

“I’m doing this for him. Besides, it’s just a teenage crush. He will soon forget her. If Adrien asks for me, say I'm working. I’ll be busy now.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

Chapter Text

Marinette heard someone knocking on the door and took a deep breath, wanting to transform and disappear from there.

 

She knew Gabriel Agreste was a hard man and dinner would be terrible, but she was hoping to win him over — or to convince him that she was a good girlfriend to his son. She figured he would enjoy seeing her with her own creation, that he would find her sweet and kind, and that she could prove how happy she was with Adrien and how happy he was with her.

 

She might not be like Lila and Kagami, full of talent. Yes, she didn’t know the etiquette or how to be elegant, but she was sweet and kind. She was creative and smart. And most importantly, she loved Adrien.

 

She thought the love she felt for Adrien would be enough, but apparently… she was wrong.

 

“Marinette?” Adrien’s voice was worried and he sounded a little desperate. She closed her eyes, putting a hand to her mouth to stop the crying.

 

“Go away,” she asked.

 

“Not until you open the door, my princess. Please. Let me in,” he begged.

 

She didn’t want to let him in. She wanted to leave and never come back. She simply wanted to disappear.

 

What was she thinking? Did she really think she could conquer Gabriel Agreste? The man was an ice stone, isolated, hardly appearing in public and cold. The way he treated Adrien had always worried her, but witnessing how his son looked more like merchandise, a source of gold for his company…

 

Did he want to ignore his children’s wishes just because of sales?

 

The hurt at not being enough for Adrien turned to anger. Who Gabriel think he was to decide what was best for his son? A father? A father who didn’t care about his son’s feelings?

 

“I’m coming in, Mari. Even if I have to cataclysm this door, I’m going in. I won’t leave you crying and suffering alone.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Marinette unlocked the bathroom door. Even before she could finish opening the door, Adrien had already opened it and was pulling her into his arms.

 

“My princess,” he said sweetly and Marinette felt tears streaming down her cheeks. “My princess, please. Never think less of you. I love you and want to be by your side. I don’t care what my father says. I don’t care about his opinion.”

 

He pulled back just so he could look her in the eye.

 

“I will never be able to love anyone but you.”

 

She whimpered, hugging him. Adrien stroked her hair, keeping her warm in his arms.

 

“As long as you love me and want to be by my side, I’ll always be by yours, do you understand?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And it doesn’t matter if my father, my fans, or any other girl doesn’t like it. I will still keep loving you. Never forget that.”

 

“I love you, Adrien,” she hugged him tightly, opening her eyes. In front of her, the akuma floated in the air, suddenly without a target, since she was safe in Adrien’s arms. All the fear, the anguish, the anger, all the bad feelings slowly began to fade into her, replaced by love and affection.

 

And when she saw the black butterfly moving away, she smiled.

 

If Papillon thought she was going to fall, he was very mistaken. Because she had Adrien, her Chat Noir beside her.

 

*

 

It took a while, but Marinette finally felt calmer. Adrien stood beside her trying to calm her down all the time and only his presence made her feel much better.

 

When she stopped crying and was ok, Adrien suggested taking her home. She readily accepted, but scaring even Adrien, she asked for something.

 

“I want to say goodbye to your father.”

 

“You don’t have to, Marinette.”

 

“But I want to. If I leave without saying goodbye, he’ll think I’m a coward and I’m scared of him. And I’m not a coward, Adrien.”

 

He smiled, brushing her hair from her face.

 

“You’re willing to face my father and still wonder why I fell in love with you.”

 

She blushed but rose and straightened her dress. With a braver smile, she nodded.

 

“Come on, my prince. I want to go home.”

 

They went back into the dining room holding hands, but Gabriel was no longer there, just the staff taking out the rest of the dinner.

 

“Your father has retired to the office, Adrien,” Nathalie informed him, entering the room. “And asked to not be disturbed.”

 

“Ah. So…”

 

“Actually, Nathalie,” Marinette interrupted sweetly. “Can you tell Mr. Agreste that I appreciate the invitation, that dinner was delicious, and that I apologize for my early nerve attack?”

 

Nathalie went unresponsive, looking startled by Marinette’s attitude. Finally, she nodded.

 

“I’ll tell him.”

 

“Thanks. Good night and see you soon.”

 

“I’ll leave Marinette at home and be back soon.”

 

“You will not,” Gabriel said, entering the room. “There is an akuma attacking and the incompetents of Paris have not yet come to solve it. Your bodyguard will take Miss Dupain home.”

 

Marinette glanced toward Adrien, who tensed.

 

“Incompetents?” Marinette said loudly, turning to Gabriel. “Are you saying that the heroes of Paris are incompetent? They have been protecting Paris for two years and you think they are incompetent?”

 

“If they were competent, they wouldn’t have to spend two years protecting Paris. They would have already captured Papillon.”

 

Marinette shook hands, trying to take a deep breath and use some of the breathing techniques her mother had taught her after akumas began to be so common in Paris.

 

“If they were not competent, Paris would not be standing. Because it doesn’t matter how bizarre Papillon’s plan is, Ladybug and Chat Noir always win,” Marinette folded her arms.

 

Gabriel smiled coldly, causing Marinette to shiver. She took a deep breath again. She had to leave right now to capture the akuma attacking Paris. She was about to open her mouth so she could say goodbye when Adrien moved closer.

 

“So you really think these kids are capable of taking care of Paris and take down the villain?” Gabriel said ironically.

 

“Yes. They are more than capable. They had a lot of opportunities to prove it and they did.”

 

“Father…” Adrien tried to say, but he was interrupted.

 

“Shut up, Adrien. I’m talking to your girlfriend. And tell me, my dear, if your heroes are so skilled, why don’t we have one but two villains? Mayura is still around too. Your super-trusting superheroes are nothing but children. Ladybug is a bit smart, but that sidekick of hers? A dumb and annoying black cat.”

 

“What?” she shouted.

 

“Didn’t you hear me well the first time? He is an annoying sidekick. Ladybug is smart, but Chat Noir serves only as a human shield for her. And that ridiculous bell? That kid thinks he’s Ladybug’s cat, but he’s just a stray cat.”

 

“That’s enough, you duck hair!” Marinette shouted. She heard Adrien gasp and Nathalie cough as she approached Gabriel furiously, walking with such fury that the man’s eyes widened in surprise. “First, Chat Noir is not annoying. Not ridiculous. Second, he is neither a sidekick nor a shield. They are both partners. He protects her because they are partners, just as she protects him. The two are partners, friends. And thirdly, Gabriel Agreste, you can’t say anything about his style because let’s face it, you have no sense of fashion,” she pointed a finger at him. “If you are considered a fashion designer, I’m afraid of the others. Your duck hair is ridiculous. And last but not least… Chat Noir is Ladybug’s cat.”

 

Gabriel flushed with fury and tried to intimidate Marinette with a look, but she held her ground, staring at him and daring him to talk some more bullshit about Chat Noir or Adrien. Did he not like her? All right. Did he not support her dating Adrien? She could find a way.

 

But no one, no one, spoke badly about her chaton.

 

“You and your ridiculous duck hair have no idea what you’re saying.”

 

“That’s enough!” Gabriel shouted. “Adrien, go to your room.”

 

“Father…” Adrien ran to Marinette’s side, pulling her behind him. “Please, let me explain and—”

 

“Your. Bedroom. Nathalie, get him out of here. Now,” he raged. Nodding, Nathalie went to Adrien and took his wrist.

 

“No!” Adrien tried to break free.

 

“Go with her, Adrien,” Marinette whispered, trying to calm him down. “I will be fine.”

 

“Marinette,” he whispered, looking at her as if he wanted to get her out of there.

 

“Go, Adrien. Please.”

 

“Obey, Adrien.” Gabriel cast a cold look at Adrien, who cringed. Marinette felt her anger boiling even more inside her, but she held back so she could look calm to Adrien. She needed to end the discussion with Gabriel soon to go capture the akuma, but with Adrien hiding in the bedroom, he could transform and save her time.

 

She glanced toward Adrien, trying to make him understand the importance of his leaving, and it seems he finally understood because he nodded and let Nathalie take him.

 

And then Marinette and Gabriel were alone.

 

Bring it on, duck hair.

 

*

 

Monday, Adrien couldn’t wait to see Marinette.

 

For some reason, during Saturday’s akuma fight, Ladybug was restless, lost and distant. Adrien even managed to see that she was crying when they made their famous pound it.

 

She hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek, saying that no matter what happened, she would always be by his side. Adrien, who knew that under that mask was Marinette, figured it was because of what his father had said to Marinette earlier, how he had said bad things about Chat.

 

Marinette didn’t reply to his texts or answered his phone calls.

 

Adrien had been very upset with his father because he had such bad opinion about the heroes of Paris, especially Chat, but seeing Marinette defend him had been amazing and had filled Adrien’s heart with love.

 

He loved that girl so much… and she loved him so much.

 

Or, it was what he thought, because, at the end of the day, Marinette broke his heart.

 

She ignored him all day. Ignored the texts, the conversation attempts. Anytime he approached her, she stepped away. When he tried to sit beside her, she got up and sat in the back, next to Lila.

 

What had happened? Why wasn’t she talking to him? Had he done something wrong? Had he done something that had hurt her in some way?

 

Nino and Alya came to ask what had happened. His other classmates also came to know. What scared him the most, though, was when Chloé approached him with her arms crossed.

 

“I don’t know why you fought and what you did, but apologize to her now. Seeing you both with that death expression is making everyone grumpy and ending my day.”

 

He wanted to know what he had done, but he didn’t. He recalled Saturday dinner over and over in his head in a long loop, trying to find something he had done that had hurt his lady.

 

Then, at the end of the day, he had the answer.

 

The signal from the last class rang and everyone left but Marinette. She sat in the back of the room, staring at the table as if she wasn’t there.

 

“You know, this is the perfect time to talk to her,” Alya advised. “She wouldn’t even talk to me. It’s been like this since yesterday. Maybe you can make her talk?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Thank you, Alya.”

 

“Just bring our Mari back, Sunshine.” Alya shot Marinette a worried look before leaving.

 

Careful not to scare her, Adrien approached and sat beside her. He didn’t touch her and let her realize he was there.

 

Finally, she turned toward him but didn’t look him in the eye. She kept her head down all the time, folding her hands as she tried to speak.

 

She sobbed and he opened his arms so he could hug her, but she pulled away as if he was something bad for her. She was scared and when she looked up, he saw the desperation on her face.

 

Adrien’s chest tightened and he felt breathless.

 

“Marinette…?”

 

“I can’t,” she said in a tearful voice. “I can’t stay with you.”

 

The world closed around Adrien as her words echoed in the empty environment.

 

“W-what?”

 

“I can’t stay with you. I can’t be your girlfriend. We can’t be together, we should never have started it all. It was a mistake, we… we're not made for each other, Adrien.”

 

“Mari, no,” he said, trying to get closer to her, but she walked away again. He froze in place, seeing how uncomfortable she felt about his nearness. "This is no time for jokes, princess, “he tried to laugh, but only a sound of despair came out.

 

She couldn’t be serious… could she?

 

“We’re very different. I can’t be the perfect girlfriend you need and—”

 

“I don't want any perfect girlfriend, because you’re the perfect one for me. You’re the only one I love, the only one I want. And I know you love me too, don’t try to lie. You’re talking a lot of bullshit, why? It was my father, wasn’t it? He made you say this. He’s trying to convince you to break up with me!”

 

“Your father has nothing to do with it,” she shouted, rising madly. She took the bag and looked in his direction. “I really tried to change my mind and convince myself that it was just a fear, but it wasn't. I can’t stay with you, Adrien. I thought I could love both parts of you, but I can’t. I can’t accept that you’re Chat Noir and I can’t stay with you because of your secret identity.

 

She closed her eyes for half a second, trying to compose herself.

 

“I lied when I said it was okay that you were Chat Noir because it’s not. I lied to you all these days, pretending it was okay, but every time you came to visit me as Chat Noir or touched me transformed, I wanted to stay away.”

 

Adrien felt as if a sword had been driven into his chest. Not even when had cataclysm himself did he feel the pain he was experiencing now.

 

“Marinette—”

 

“I can’t love Chat Noir, Adrien. And since you are him, I can’t love you.”

 

The fear of being abandoned, of never being enough, of being alone, filled Adrien. He was never enough for his father, his mother had abandoned him, and Marinette didn’t want to be by his side because he was Chat Noir.

 

Ladybug had never given Chat Noir a chance. Why did he think Marinette, who was Ladybug, would do it?

 

“I’m sorry I’m not enough for you,” he whispered and saw Marinette put her hand over her mouth, trying to contain her crying.

 

“Don’t cry,” she begged.

 

“Don’t ask me for things I can’t control, my lady,” he said, grabbing his bag and leaving while crying and trying to control his breathing. He heard Marinette shouting something but he didn’t stop.

 

He ran. He ran as he had never done in his life. He ran faster than when he was transformed, so desperate he felt. The fears, the anxieties, the despair. Everything accumulated in his chest, devouring him slowly, cataclyming his heart as he ran and cried and tried to breathe properly.

 

Blinded with tears, he slipped into the first alley he could find. He tossed his bag aside and sat on the floor in the dark corner of the alley, hugging himself as he screamed in pain. It wasn’t possible, it must be a nightmare.

 

“I’ll wake up… I’ll wake up. She still loves me, I know she does… she’s just scared. She loves me. She loves me, she loves me, she loves me… it’s just a nightmare…” he kept repeating those words as if they were a mantra as if he kept repeating he would finally wake up in a world where Marinette loved him.

 

“Kid…” Plagg said sadly, brushing his neck. “Look, in the classroom, you said…”

 

“Not now, Plagg. Please.”

 

Plagg said nothing more but purred on Adrien’s neck, who caressed Plagg while looking at his feet and let himself cry.

 

He knew Marinette loved him. But why was she lying like this?

 

*

 

Adrien discounted all the anger and sadness he was feeling playing the piano.

 

He couldn’t eat anything during dinner and completely ignored what Nathalie had said earlier. As soon as he was free, he went to his room and locked himself in his room.

 

He took the longest bath in the world — and cried a lot too — and instead of going to sleep as Plagg had suggested, he had sat in front of the piano and began to play what his heart asked.

 

No wonder it was just sad things.

 

God, he would freak out.

 

It was after three in the morning when he heard someone step into his room. He had just finished a thrilling Bach song when he turned, jumping and ready to face the invader.

 

His invader, however, was Ladybug.

 

“Hey,” she said, nodding sheepishly. His heart skipped a beat and he felt like crying again. Seeing Marinette there, transformed, after she lied and broke up with him without explaining the real reason…

 

It was too much.

 

“Hello, Ladybug. Can I help you with anything?”

 

“I was patrolling and saw your window open and the light on. I thought maybe you were having a problem, so I saw that you were playing and didn’t want to interrupt and I think I heard a few minutes if you don’t mind…”

 

“I don’t. It’s all right, I think. I mean, there’s no intruder or anything. Just a sad and heartbroken teenager.”

 

“Heartbroken?” she hesitated. “Want to talk about it?”

 

He kept quiet, sitting back at the piano.

 

“We’re friends, aren’t we?” she asked but didn’t approach.

 

“Yes, we are, although we haven’t spoken in a while. Want to sit down?”

 

“Actually, why don’t we go for a walk? Maybe some fresh air will help you with all your emotions.”

 

He turned to her, noticing her sunken, swollen eyes. She was suffering as much as he was. She came to see him — like Ladybug, but she came. She must be feeling as lost and hurt as he was.

 

Why had she lied? Why had she ended everything by telling such an absurd lie?

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“Let’s see the stars. Are you coming?” she reached her hand as an invitation. Adrien hesitated, but finally took her hand and walked with her to the window. “Hold on tight.”

 

He nodded, wrapping his arms around the back of her neck. She grabbed him by his waist and pulled the yo-yo. He had traveled with Ladybug a few times, mostly fleeing akumas, but each time was different. He always suffered from their proximity, but now everything was so much more intense because under that mask was Marinette.

 

He concentrated on making complicated physics problems in his head to contain the urge to kiss the skin on her neck that the suit didn’t cover.

 

Finally, they landed on the roof of a large building. The night was not as starry as he had seen from Marinette’s room, but it was still beautiful. The wind cooled and shook his clothes as they lay on the ground, looking up.

 

She lay beside him but didn’t turn toward him, staring at the sky in silence. Adrien sighed, looking up at the sky as well.

 

“My girlfriend broke up with me today. I mean, fake girlfriend. I don’t know our relationship status.”

 

“If she was your fake girlfriend, the breakup wasn’t that complicated, right? After all, it was a fake relationship.”

 

“The relationship might be, but the love I feel for her isn’t. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. But for some reason, she decided to finish it all.”

 

He felt Ladybug move, and he was bets she was looking at hi,

 

“And you know what’s worse, Ladybug? It’s just that she lied. I know she lied. The reasons she gave me to finish it all? Lies. I saw it in her eyes. I heard it in her voice. I noticed the way she was tense. She was scared. She broke up with me because she was scared. I thought it was because she received a threat from some fan of mine, or even from Lila Rossi, but… I think I know who did it.”

 

“Do you?”

 

“My father. He mistreated her on Saturday and must have convinced her that she wasn’t good enough for me, which is a big lie. She is more than good to me. She is sweet, amazing, kind. I love her so much, Ladybug. And I wanted her to know how much hurt when I’m far away from her, he stared at the stars, feeling the tears streaming down his skin, but he didn’t clean them.

 

“I’m sure she knows.” Ladybug’s voice was broken. He turned his face toward her, seeing that she had turned toward him. “I’m sure she knows how much you love her. And she must be suffering too. But if she decided to break it up with you, she must have had a very strong reason.”

 

“She should have talked to me. She should have told me the truth.”

 

“Maybe she couldn’t. Maybe, as you said, she was scared.”

 

“I fight anything for her. I face anyone. I give up whatever it takes if, in the end, I’m by her side. She is my half, Ladybug. She completes me, makes me happy and a better person.” he turned, looking back at the stars. “I just want her to know that.”

 

“She knows.”

 

“And that she comes back to me. But I think I’m wishing too much.”

 

“Well, maybe a shooting star appears. Just make a wish,” she said sweetly.

 

“Yeah. Maybe.”

 

 

They both stared at the stars, saying nothing for a while, lost in their own thoughts.

 

What would she be thinking? About the words he had just said? Would she come to him tomorrow at school to tell everything that was happening? Would they finally talk?

 

“Adrien?” she asked after a while.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Do you remember the breakup? Maybe she said something about what’s really happening.”

 

He frowned. Was she giving him a hint? The problem was, he couldn’t remember anything about the breakup. He only remembered the fear in Marinette’s voice as she told those lies and him fleeing the room to try to escape the pain.

 

 

“I can’t remember anything about the breakup. It was all so fast and confusing, one moment she was saying she couldn’t date me anymore and the next one I was crying in an alley.”

 

“I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s all right, Ladybug. It’s not like you can fix my relationship with any of your lucky charms.” he teased, turning to look at her.

 

She smiled, but it was a sad smile.

 

“It would be nice.”

 

He turned, lying on his side so he could look at her. With one hand, he reached for her, waiting for her reaction. Ladybug looked at him curiously but stayed quiet. He started trying to count the freckles on her face like he did every night he went to Marinette’s room as Chat.

 

He saw her eyes filling with tears and stopped, pulling his arm away. They continued to lie facing each other, silent, just looking at each other. What he wouldn’t give to know what she was thinking.

 

I know it’s you, Marinette.

 

Talk to me. Open up. Say it’s you. Say you are my lady so we can talk.

 

I’m here for you. Be here for me too.

 

But she kept silent, just looking at him. She stayed that way, silent and watching him until he noticed that she was starting to close her eyes and fight off sleep. She must be exhausted, her appearance screaming her lack of rest.

 

“You weren’t even looking at the stars,” she whispered sleepily, closing her eyes and keeping quiet. Adrien sat, watching her as she fell asleep.

 

When he noticed she was sleeping, he took off his white shirt and threw it over her arms, trying to warm her somehow. He stayed like that, sitting and looking at her while his lady and his princess slept beside him.

 

“You’re right, my lady. I’m looking at my favorite one,” he muttered to her, even though he knew she wouldn’t listen.

 

When it was about dawn, he woke her up. Flushing, she said sorry a thousand times for sleeping, but he reassured her that she had helped him a lot.

 

She left him in his room and before leaving, she asked if there was anything else she could do for him.

 

Jokingly, Adrien replied:

 

“Punch my dad, maybe?”

 

She widened her eyes and he laughed.

 

“I’m kidding, Ladybug. Thanks for everything.”

 

“Don’t thank me, Adrien. See you soon,” she said, leaving his room by the window.

 

Adrien closed it and threw himself on the bed, expecting to sleep at least an hour before he had to get up.

 

When he slept, it was with Marinette he dreamed.

 

*

 

“Gabriel Agreste?” Ladybug asked, stepping through Gabriel’s office window as the day dawned.

 

“Ladybug?” he said, surprised and looking at her with interest. “What are you doing so late in my house?”

 

“I came to deliver a special order.” she smiled, approaching and clenching her fist. Without even waiting for a response from Gabriel, she punched his nose.

 

The man shouted, putting his hands to his nose.

 

“Next time you decide to break your son’s heart, I won’t be so kind. Good evening, Mr. Agreste,” she blinked and walked out the office window, her heart pounding with adrenaline.

 

Some residents said they heard the heroine laugh at euphoria as the sun rose.

 

Alya couldn’t confirm this rumor.

Chapter Text

When Adrien saw the family doctor leaving his father's office as he descended the stairs, he felt his chest tighten.

 

He went downstairs, trying to figure out what was going on, and waited for the doctor to leave to approach Nathalie.

 

“Did I just see Dr. Durand?”

 

“Yes. He came to see your father.”

 

“Oh.” Adrien frowned. “Is my father sick?”

 

“He hurt his nose.”

 

“He what? How?”

 

“He was trying to kill a bug and tripped, smashing his face against the door. Don’t worry, nothing is broken.”

 

“Ohhh!” Adrien took a deep breath not to laugh. “I understand. Tell him I’m sorry he got hurt.”

 

“I will. Have a nice day at school today, Adrien.”

 

“Thanks, Nathalie.”

 

Would it be wrong for him to thank Marinette for complying with his request?

 

*

 

Adrien couldn’t understand Marinette.

 

Seriously, he really couldn't understand what her problem was.

 

She went to see him last night because she wanted to and took him to see stars. She talked about the breakup, gave him tips about how she didn’t want to break up with him, how she was scared. She had punched his father.

 

And now, at school, she was ignoring him again. It was like he wasn’t there.

 

He was in the middle of the courtyard, trying to pay attention to what Nino was saying, while his eyes were on Marinette, across the courtyard talking and laughing with Alya as if nothing was happening. Like she hadn’t broken his heart yesterday.

 

And then, during class, while everyone was focused on the group assignment the teacher asked them to do, they exchanged glances and she smiled sweetly at him. An accomplice smile, a sweet smile, a smile that made Adrien’s legs soften, sweat drip from his forehead and his heart flutter and—

 

And then, the next minute, she lowered her head and the smile died as if nothing had happened.

 

She loved him, Adrien was sure of that. She loved him so much, just as he loved her. If not, she wouldn’t have made a point of going to him last night to see how he was, to try to comfort him and assure him that she hasn’t broken up with him because she didn’t love him or because she wasn’t comfortable with him being Chat Noir. Yesterday wasn’t a day to patrol, her excuse that she was passing by and saw the open window was a tremendous lie.

 

She intended to go see him from the start. To assure him that she still loved him. He knew his lady. He knew she loved him, he just needed to know what was keeping her from being with him. What was terrifying her so much that she wouldn’t stay with him?

 

Adrien was very suspicious of the reason, and as much as he didn’t want his suspicion was true, he knew that his father had something to do with their breakup. He just needed to find out what his father had said to Marinette and how to get around it.

 

Gabriel Agreste was stubborn and difficult, but Adrien, when it came to his lady, was fifty times more.

 

At the end of class in the morning, Adrien tried to approach Marinette to try to talk to her, but every time he got close, she would walk away before he could approach. When he tried to talk to her, she would respond coldly and rudely and getaway.

 

He was getting frustrated and angry. He was about to turn into Chat Noir, kidnap Marinette, and take her to some building where they could talk without being observed.

 

After lunch, when Adrien entered the classroom, there was no one. He checked the time, seeing that he had arrived half an hour earlier than class time. Sighing, he sat in his seat and took out his cell phone.

 

Her fingers moved on their own, sending messages to Marinette and receiving no response. He asked to talk to her, to try to get along with her so that they could come to an agreement where they could be at least friends because the lack of her presence in his life was hurting too much.

 

Fifteen minutes later, Lila came into the room, smiling.

 

“Ah, Adrien! What a surprise!” from the tone of her voice, Adrien noticed right away that she was lying. She knew he was there somehow and was hoping to be alone with him. “What are you doing here so early?”

 

“I miscalculated the time,” he replied, picking up his cell phone to ignore her. But of course, Lila Rossi wouldn’t accept defeat so easily. She sat beside him, approaching and totally ignoring the concept of personal space.

 

“I heard that you and Marinette broke up. I’m so sorry!” she said, a false sadness in her voice.

 

“It’s just a break so Marinette can solve some problems.”

 

“She doesn’t even know what she's missing…” Lila said seductively, placing her hands on Adrien’s arms. Sighing, he withdrew them slightly. “But I’m finding this wonderful because now you can be mine.”

 

“Lila, just because I’m not dating Marinette doesn’t mean I’m available. First, because I love Marinette. Second, because you don’t make me interested.”

 

Lila gasped in outrage.

 

“What did you say?”

 

“You’re not interesting to me, Lila.” he shrugged. “That simple. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to have my personal space back.”

 

Lila’s expression was priceless. She crossed her arms at chest level, reaching for her purse.

 

“You’ll be very sorry about that, Agreste,” she said, leaving the room furiously.

 

When he was alone, Plagg came out of his bag, whistling.

 

“The energy of that one? Dangerous,” he commented.

 

“I know. But we’re more dangerous.” Adrien said, scratching Plagg’s chin.

 

Plagg smirked, returning to the bag after cheese. While Plagg was fed up, Adrien got a message on his cell phone.

 

Meet me in the locker room after your fencing class. Let’s talk.

 

The problem was that who had sent the message to him was Alya.

                                                                                                       

 

*     

 

 

Marinette saw Adrien go with Nathalie, his expression screaming that he didn’t want to go and didn’t want to leave her behind. She didn’t want him to go either: Ladybug was stronger with Chat Noir beside her and she needed him.

 

But at the same time, she was glad he was gone. So she could tell all the truths about how Gabriel Agreste was such a bad father without hurting Adrien in the process.

 

When they were alone, Gabriel approached. Even scared to death inside, Marinette stood firm, her face raised and exuding confidence that was too small compared to the fear that was inside her.

 

Yes, she wouldn’t bow to Gabriel, but that didn’t mean that it would be an easy task to stand firm before Gabriel Agreste’s icy gaze.

 

“You know, Miss Dupain Cheng, I greatly admire your courage. Few fight back my words.”

 

“I just retaliated because they aren’t fair.”

 

“From your point of view. I see then that you are an avid defender of the heroes of Paris,” he said the last words with disgust in his voice. “Especially the cat.”

 

“Paris is safe thanks to them.”

 

“Paris would be better off without both of them.”

 

“Paris would be better off without Papillon," she corrected. Gabriel smiled coldly, staring at her.

 

“I admire that fire that burns in you when you want to defend something you admire. It’s the same fire I see burning in Adrien from time to time. A surprising fire, but one that must be contained before you get burned.”

 

“So you lock your son thinking you’re protecting him?” she questioned, surprised at her courage to say such words.

 

“I don’t lock my son. He is free. He does his activities and still goes to school. He has free time, even to find a girlfriend.”

 

"And how much did he have to fight and argue to be able to convince you to let him go to school?"

 

Gabriel remained silent, moving even closer to Marinette.

 

“Miss, it’s no secret that I don’t approve of your relationship with my son.”

 

“And it’s no secret that this will not stop me from loving him.”

 

“You and my son have a teenage crush and think this is love. Miss, what you feel for each other is far from love. It’s far from anything stronger than mere attraction.”

 

“You’re wrong, Mr. Agreste. I really love your son. I love him since before I knew what love looks like. When I was still understanding what love was, my heart was already beating for Adrien. I know you don’t approve, but believe my words when I say that your approval or lack of it won’t change how I feel about your son. I make him happy just as he makes me. I protect him just as he protects me. I love him just as he loves me.” she said in a firm voice.

 

“Ah, my dear, I know that very well. Adrien is an innocent boy, he easily falls into well-spoken words. I don’t know how he got carried away by this passion he says he feels for you, but I’m determined to make it end now.”

 

Gabriel put his hands behind his back and moved closer to Marinette.

 

“If you love my son so much as you say, you know perfectly well the thing he treasures most: his friends and school.”

 

She didn’t like where this story was going at all.

 

“And if you really love my son, you want his happiness above all things. If you love him as much as you claim, you would sacrifice whatever you could to make him happy, wouldn’t you?”

 

She swallowed, knowing full well what he would say from now on.

 

“Are you going to make Adrien choose between keep dating me or school?” She said, confused “This is inhuman and cruel, you know perfectly well that Adrien—”

 

“I know my son like no one, Miss Dupain Cheng. I won’t make him choose because he will choose you.” Gabriel commented as he circled around Marinette. “The poor boy is so mesmerized that he wouldn’t hesitate to drop out of school that he fought so hard to have the right to go for you. And since it’s you that I want to get rid of, I’m not going to make Adrien choose.” and he stopped behind her.

 

She swallowed, her fear becoming real.

 

“Who’s going to choose that, my dear, is you. Either you break up with Adrien, or I get him out of school, I forbid him from seeing his friends and you, and I send him to London, far away from all these bad influences.”

 

Lila’s words about how Marinette would be the cause of Adrien’s leaving school, his isolation, how she would be the reason for Adrien’s unhappiness was all true. Gabriel Agreste had just confirmed all that.

 

“I can’t… I can’t do that.”

 

“You can. If you want my son to stay in Paris, you will do that. Either way, he won’t be with you, Marinette. Make a wise choice and at least give my son some happiness. End this relationship, if I may call it a relationship before things get worse.”

 

She was silent, taking a deep breath and trying to contain the urge to cry. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair after finally, after so many years dreaming of be Adrien’s girlfriend, his father wouldn’t accept her. Because his father was a complete idiot who thought he knew what he was doing for his son.

 

“I can’t break up with him. I have no reason to do it, I can’t just break up with him without a reason, I love him and he’ll know if I’m lying and—”

 

“You will tell him that, by your decision, you chose no longer stay with him. Tell him you’re dating him just to get access to me, so I could see your designers and put you in the fashion world, I don’t care. Just make up a lie and make sure my son believes it and doesn’t want you anymore.”

 

"Mister Agreste…”

 

“You have until tomorrow to make your decision, Marinette. If tomorrow, when Adrien comes home and I find out he’s still with you, I’ll send him to London by the end of the night with no return ticket.”

 

She gasped, feeling the world spin around her.

 

“And I will know if you’re lying. If you and Adrien are trying to trick me as you did over the past five months, I will send him to another continent. And I will know, Marinette, because I have spies everywhere. The same spy who told me about your dating will tell me if they see you two close or together.”

 

Gabriel then turned back to Marinette, smiling like a wolf who had just cornered the lamb.

 

“We have a deal?”

 

“If I break up with Adrien, he’ll be unhappy… and I can’t make him unhappy.”

 

“If you stay with him, I will send him away, where besides being unhappy, he will be lonely and miserable. Is that really what you want, Miss Dupain Cheng?”

 

She shook her head and his smile was so cold and scary that she knew she would have nightmares for months.

 

“Make the right choice, Marinette. So? Do we have a deal?”

 

Trying not to puke, Marinette nodded.

 

She opened her eyes, her heart pounding in her chest and the urge to puke so familiar in her mouth. Tikki was above her, his eyes alert and concerned as she looked at Marinette.

 

“You’re sweating and was whining while sleeping. That nightmare again?”

 

She nodded, not knowing what to do.

 

“I can’t stand to dream about it anymore. Either that or Adrien’s expression of despair and hurt when I broke up with him. Or worse yet, I dream about the “my lady” he said when I asked him not to cry!” she grunted, throwing aside her blankets because everything was hot and cold at the same time, she was nauseous and her stomach was wrapped. She didn’t want to go to school and see how she had hurt Adrien…

 

She hugged the pillow and screamed on it.

 

“You need to go to school,” Tikki said.

 

“I know.”

 

“And do you already have a plan to tell Adrien the truth? Your attempt to give him a tip during the breakup didn’t work out, you didn’t say anything at all!”

 

“I know! But when he called me my lady, I lost my concentration. I could only wonder if he knew that I’m Ladybug. And at night, when I went to visit him as Ladybug, he confirmed that he didn’t notice he called me that.” she buried her hands in her face. “Why is everything so complicated?”

 

“It will be all right! You have a new plan!”

 

“Yes. But it will be risky. Are you sure it’s Lila watching over me?”

 

“Yes! She spent all day watching you yesterday, especially when Adrien was around. And I saw her cell phone, she was texting Nathalie!”

 

“Right. So the plan is to talk with Adrien without Lila seeing us.”

 

“Yes. And how are you going to do that?”

 

Marinette looked at her kwami, smiling.

 

“You know I love stealing cell phones, right?”

 

Tikki sighed.

 

 

*

 

 

Convincing Alya to leave her cell phone with Marinette while going to the bathroom, texting Adrien pretending to be Alya, and deleting the records of that message before Alya left the bathroom had been easy.

 

It would be hard to have the strength to face Adrien and tell him half-truths.

 

God, for someone who hated liars, she was lying a lot lately.

 

Saying that she was going to do her homework at the library, Marinette stayed in school until the end of Adrien’s fencing class. When she saw that all the students were gone, she entered the locker room.

 

Adrien was packing his bag, checking his phone every two seconds.

 

“Hey,” she said softly.

 

He looked up, looking toward her as if she were a ghost. Various emotions ran through his face, from longing to heartache. She also noticed the way he tensed as if he wanted to approach her.

 

He even stepped toward her but stopped.

 

“Marinette,” he whispered.

 

She held back the urge to close her eyes and lose herself in his sweet voice as he whispered her name. Last night, both seeing the stars, the longing she had for him…

“Adrien.”

 

“What is happening? Why did you break up with me? Why are you lying to me?”

 

“I— I can’t tell you. At least not yet. Look, I can’t take too long because we’re being watched by Lila.”

 

“Why is Lila watching over you?”

 

“I swear I’ll explain everything to you soon, but you just need to know that while we’re at school, you can’t approach me. Your father has eyes around here, and if he hears that we talk or get close to school, it all goes downhill.”

 

“These secrets are killing me.”

 

“I know.” she held back the urge to cry. She hated, hated to see him like that, but it was necessary. “Look, I need you to trust me, I’m working out a plan that will get us together in the end. But you need to trust me.”

 

She saw the hesitation in Adrien’s eyes and for a moment she thought he would say he didn’t trust her, that they’d better make that break up a truth, and that nothing else mattered, that his love for her wasn’t that big…

 

But Adrien surprised her.

 

He took her by the wrist, thumb stroking her skin.

 

“Do you love me, Marinette?”

 

She expected any questions but that one. Shaken, she nodded and staring at him, she murmured:

 

“Since I was 13.”

 

He closed his eyes and smiled, the same shy smile he gave her when he handed her that umbrella so many years ago.

 

He let go of her wrist and looking into her eyes, he spoke the phrase she expected to hear at that moment.

 

“I trust you.”

 

“Great. Thank you. See you soon.” she smiled and ran for the locker room door. “Ah, Adrien?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“You know that our breakup… it’s all a lie, right?”

 

She left before he could recover, afraid to end up in his arms kissing and risking everything.

 

 

*

 

 

The next day, everything remained the same.

 

Adrien ignored the urge to approach Marinette, pull her into his arms and kiss her until they both forgot their names. She’d said his father had spies at school — and he was betting all his coins on Lila.

 

During morning classes, Marinette and Adrien exchanged glances and Adrien was the first to turn away, afraid Lila would catch them looking at each other like fools in love. Marinette’s words (“since I was 13”) still echoed in his mind.

 

She loved him.

 

The lunch bell rang and he considered sending Alya a message, asking if she could help them meet in the locker room as she had yesterday, but as soon as she left the room, she saw Marinette running into the middle of the courtyard where she hugged someone very excitedly.

 

That someone was Luka.

 

Adrien knew that Marinette and Luka were great friends, the two of them visiting each other almost every day. He’d seen their Instagram posts about their adventures, he’d even enjoyed the video Luka had recorded of him playing the song in honor of Marinette.

 

At the time, that didn’t bother Adrien at all. But now, envy bubbled in his chest. It was unfair. Unfair that Luka could hug Marinette anytime he liked while Adrien, who was more than a friend to Marinette, had to watch everything from a distance.

 

He felt Nino put his hand on his shoulder but ignored him. He even felt Plagg pinch him, but he ignored them both. He missed Marinette’s hug, he missed having her around.

 

It was unfair Luka to be able to approach her when he wanted to while Adrien had to see her in hiding. Then, driven by nothing but envy and jealousy — Adrien didn’t like those feelings at all — he approached Marinette and Luka.

 

Marinette looked at him with a warning attempt in her eyes, trying to make him leave, but Adrien ignored her. He turned to Luka, forcing a smile in his friend’s direction. Luka wasn’t guilty of their situation, but that didn’t mean Adrien was happy to see him.

 

“Hey, Luka. Good to see you.” Adrien felt his mouth boil at the words as he tried to control his breathing. “Why are you here?”

 

“It’s good to see you too, Adrien. I came to take Marinette for lunch.”

 

“Ah.” he felt the smile die and turned to Marinette. “You can have lunch with Luka, but not with me?”

 

“You know why,” Marinette said softly.

 

“Just because we both don’t date anymore, I can’t be your friend? I can’t have lunch with my friend? We can even take Luka, Alya, and Nino with us.”

 

“Look, you two—” Luka started to say, but Marinette cut him off like he wasn’t there, glaring at Adrien.

 

“It’s part of the plan.”

 

“What plan? Finish hurting my heart?”

 

“Adrien,” she murmured, trying to warn him.

 

“We will talk now. Excuse me, Luka. I think your plans will have to be rescheduled.”

 

“Wai—Adrien!” Marinette shouted as Adrien dragged her by the wrist. He knew that soon he would be ashamed of his actions at that moment, but he was too angry to think.

 

He needed to talk to Marinette, alone. Say what was hurting in his chest, how much he needed to talk to her, how much he needed to be beside her. He missed her, though their moments together were so few. A few days had passed since she had thrown them both into that lie, but the pain in his chest was as if they had lived together for years.

 

And they did. Not as Adrien and Marinette, but mainly as Ladybug and Chat Noir. The jokes, the patrols, the complicity. Everyone was shocked that they were together, and Adrien saying that it was five months didn’t relieve that shock at all because everyone said it was as if they had been together for years.

 

But they were. From the age of thirteen, they loved each other and had complicity. Since receiving their miraculous, they were much more than just friends. They were partners.

 

For years, Adrien struggled for him to be loved by his lady when he didn’t need to, she already loved him. And now, he wouldn’t let his father, Lila, his fans or anything else get in the way of their love.

 

He received curious glances from his classmates and the other students at school but ignored them all. He felt Marinette trying to calm him down, but he needed a place where the two could talk uninterrupted.

 

Nino had told him about his and Alya making out sessions in the broom closet and the rule for using it. If there were any hairbands on the door handle, it meant it was busy and people would leave the couple alone.

 

When Adrien reached the door, he almost sighed with relief when he saw that the door handle was without any objects. He turned to Marinette, who was staring at him with wide eyes and flushed cheeks.

 

“If you wanted to make out with me, kitty, you just need to visit me at night,” she teased as Adrien brushed the hair bands out of her hair.

 

“We’re going to talk,” he said, blushing and unable to control the trembling of his hands. He had brought her there so they could talk, not to exchange kisses… not that he was against exchanging kisses with her, but…

 

He shook his head, trying to focus. He placed Marinette’s hair bands on the doorknob, opened the door and pushed Marinette in the closet, then entered and closed the door behind him. The broom closet was quite large for whatever reason. That must be the reason why students use it when they couldn’t control their desires.

 

He turned on the light, finding himself alone with Marinette, her hair hanging loose, in a closet full of brooms. His lady crossed her arms, raised her eyebrows and smirked. He knew she was furious with him.

 

“Did you do that whole show because…?”

 

“We need to talk, Marinette.”

 

“Yes, we do. First, do you know perfectly well that we’re being watched and still drag me all over the school? Adrien, this will surely reach your father’s ears and…”

 

“I don’t care.”

 

“Adrien.” she took a deep breath. “Your father threatened me and Lila is watching us.”

 

“What did he say, Marinette? What did he threaten to scare you like that? What did he promise to take from you to make you pretend not to love me, that made you ignore me like this way?” he begged, desperate.

 

She looked away and Adrien noticed that she wanted to tell him but was avoiding for some reason. He sighed, tossing his backpack on the floor and pulling her by her waist to wrap her in his arms.

 

Marinette hugged him back, breaking every defense she raised. She melted into his embrace, holding him tight against her as if she wanted to merge with him, as if she wanted them to be one, as if the outside world, Gabriel, the threat, Lila, and all other things didn’t exist.

 

Just as long as that hairbands kept them from the world, his embrace had the same power.

 

He kissed her temple, holding her tight in his arms, wanting to protect her from the outside world, especially his father.

 

“He threatened nothing of mine. He didn’t promise to take anything from me,” she said, her voice low. Adrien held her, giving her the time she needed to tell the truth. “He promised he would take it from you.”

 

“What?” He asked, confused. He pulled back a little just to be able to look into her eyes. “What did he promise to take from me?”

 

“Your freedom,” she said, stroking his cheek with her thumb. “He said he would get you out of school and your friends. Said I’d send you to London and I’d never see you again. That he would make sure you never came back to Paris and never got in touch with anyone who is your friend. If I stayed with you, he would take everything away. And I know how much you love school and your friends, I couldn’t—” she took a deep breath. “Luka and I are trying to come up with a plan to expose Lila.”

 

“My princess,” he said, kissing her forehead. “My princess, why didn’t you tell me that? I would have helped you.”

 

Adrien knew he was a touch starved, and since he had been allowed to touch Marinette, he made a point of always being with her or around her. These last days since that she broke up with him had been torture because he missed her touch, the caresses, the kisses.

 

He looked at her, holding her face in his hands and stroking with his thumb the purple shadow under her eyes, a sure sign of her sleepless nights. He kissed one eye first, then the other, her nose and finally a light kiss on her mouth.

 

“Nothing, nothing, will keep me from my freedom. From my friends. From you. I love you so much, Marinette, it hurts to be away from you.”

 

She whimpered, wrapping her arms around his neck and tiptoeing up to kiss him. The kiss was hot and hungry, years of love and pleasures contained, weeks of accumulated desire, their love intensifying the kiss.

 

Marinette pushed him against the closet wall, breaking the kiss. Adrien gasped, trying to control his breathing as she looked him up and down, taking a deep breath.

 

“Why do you make it harder?” she grunted, moving closer and kissing him again. “I was getting a good grip on myself. Staying away from you, unintentionally kissing you until you forget your name until I forget mine. But now…”

 

She began to trail kisses down his neck, nibbling at his skin, careful not to leave marks on it.

 

“But now I can’t control myself. I’ll see you and I’ll want to kiss you, or hug you, or lose myself in the warmth of your arms.”

 

Adrien moaned, squeezing the skin at her waist as she bit his ear, causing him to close his eyes. She was messing with his body, his mind, his soul. He was about to die as sweetly as possible.

 

She kissed him again on the mouth and he couldn’t contain himself. He returned the kiss with the same intensity, the same desire she felt. He hugged her so tightly that not even the slightest layer of air passed between their bodies as he spread his hand in her hair, pulling the strands gently.

 

He made her sigh against his mouth and felt her shiver. He shuddered back.

 

“I love you,” he whispered against her mouth, opening his eyes and seeing her with his eyes closed, surrendered. “I love you so much.”

 

This time, he was the one who attacked her neck with kisses and bites, being careful not to leave marks too. Still not satisfied with the exploration, but knowing he had to restrain himself, he turned back to her face, filling her with kisses until he kissed her mouth once more.

 

His head was a mess and he couldn’t focus on anything, nothing but Marinette. Her kisses, her smell, her touch. The heat of her body against his, the way she fit right in there, as if she belonged there because she did. She was his lady and he was her chaton and nothing, nothing, and no one was going to separate them.

 

“My lady,” he begged against her mouth. “My lady.”

 

“What?” she said confused.

 

“I love you so much, my lady,” he whispered against her ear, biting her earlobe and pulling. She closed her eyes and moaned.

 

“Mon chaton,” she sighed and he almost fainted with the nickname.

 

“My lady,” he said once more and she gasped, putting some space between them. Adrien tried to follow her, bringing his mouth close to hers to try to kiss her again, but Marinette placed her index finger against his lips.

 

“What did you call me?”

 

He blinked and then finally understood the panic in her eyes.

 

“You called me my lady. For the second time.” She said.

 

The shiver of the spine, which was once hot and longing, turned cold as he bit his lower lip.

 

“The chat is out of the bag?” he commented, chuckling awkwardly.

 

Marinette facepalmed, grunted and took a deep breath.

 

“I won’t scream, I won’t scream…” she repeated, turning her back to him.

 

“Mari,” he said, hugging her from behind and placing his chin on her shoulder. “Please don’t scream with me.”

 

“Since when do you know?” she asked.

 

“Ever since you told Chat about the date with Adrien and how fake it was,” he said, brushing his face over her neck. He felt her shiver and melt in his arms and smiled victoriously. She might be upset, but she wasn’t angry.

 

“I should have known,” she muttered, stroking his hands on her waist. “And I should have noticed when you called me my lady during the breakup. You already knew I was Ladybug when I went to visit you last night, didn’t you?”

 

“Yes, I did. And seeing her made me sure something had happened to make you break up with me. And that you loved me.” he gave a victorious smile and she rolled her eyes, smiling.

 

“I do, chaton.” she turned to him and he caressed her face. “I love you so much.”

 

“Good, my lady, because I’m lost without you. Let me fight by your side, just as we fight the akumas. Together we will make my father realize that we belong together.”

 

She nodded.

 

“But until we bring Lila down, Adrien, we need to contain ourselves. She can’t see us together.”

 

“Well, good thing we have our powers to help us, don’t we? How about visiting me tonight? After midnight?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’ll leave the window open, my lady.” he kissed her cheek, grabbing his backpack.

 

“Adrien?” she said, looking down at her feet.

 

“Yes?”

 

“You know that what happened between us now… people can’t know we’re together. At least while Lila is watching us.”

 

“You mean, pretend we’re not together yet.”

 

“Exactly.” she agreed.

 

“First, fake dating, then a fake ending, and now pretending we’re not together. How many lies are we going to tell, my lady?”

 

“Well, you know what they say, don’t you, chaton? If you’re gonna lie, make it worth it.” she gripped the collar of his shirt, pulling him to give him another kiss, which made him look silly for a few seconds. “Now, let’s go before they come looking for us.”

 

 

*

 

 

Ladybug looked around, seeing if it was safe when she finally landed in Adrien’s room. He had actually left the bedroom window open to wait for her.

 

It was after midnight when she decided to visit him. When she walked into his room, the light was on and he was staring at the computer screen, distracted and watching some anime.

 

Her non-boyfriend was a weeb.

 

She covered his eyes and kissed his cheek.

 

“Guess who?” she whispered against his ear. Adrien grinned.

 

“The queen of my life?”

 

She put her hands on her chest, feeling her heart beating rapidly.

 

“You know, you shouldn’t do this to me without warning me first,” she grunted as Adrien turned off the computer and laughed. He stood up, pulling her into his arms.

 

“Hello, my lady. It’s so good to see you.” he stroked her cheek. “Destransform. I have cookies for Tikki.”

 

“She’ll love it.” she laughed, saying the phrase to destransform.

 

“Hello, Adrien!”

 

“Tikki!” he smiled, stroking the kwami’s head. “Plagg is on the game shelves upstairs. There are some cookies for you.”

 

“Thank you so much.” Tikki kissed Adrien’s and Marinette’s cheek and disappeared.

 

Then Adrien turned to Marinette. He gasped, placing his hand on his chest.

 

“Adrien?” Marinette questioned, worried.

 

“Is this… is this Chat Noir inspired pajamas?”

 

She looked down, covering her face with her hands later.

 

“Damn it. I forgot what I was wearing underneath.”

 

“My lady has Chat Noir pajamas!” Adrien said in delight, pulling her into a hug. Marinette grunted but accepted the hug and melted into Adrien’s arms. “I don’t know why the shame, buginette. I also have three Ladybug pajamas. And a pair of underwear.”

 

“Oh yeah?” She said, laughing. “Interesting.”

 

“One day I’ll let you see.” he teased, kissing her nose. “So, what do you want to do?”

 

“Actually, Adrien…” she frowned. “I want to sleep. I just came to see you because I missed you so much, but my day today was hectic. I spent all afternoon with Luka trying to find something that exposed Lila.”

 

“Did you find something?” he brushed the hair that fell out in front of her face to the side.

 

“The liar really knows how to lie.”

 

“Don’t worry, my lady.” he gave Marinette a quick kiss. “We’ll find something.”

 

“I know. Anyway, did I tell you I love you today?” she muttered as Adrien scooped her up, bridal style.

 

“I think so, but I love hearing those words coming out of your mouth,” he said against her mouth, walking slowly to his bed so as not to fall.

 

“Well, I love you,” she said, holding his chin in one hand and leaning in to kiss him. “I love you so much, chaton.”

 

Adrien shuddered at those words, still getting used to them coming out of his lady’s mouth. It was great to hear her say them.

 

He deposited her on his bed, smiling as she stretched like a lazy cat, hugging his pillow and tucking it in her face.

 

“Wake me up tomorrow,” she grunted, nestling against the pillow.

 

“I thought it was me you would be cuddling.” Adrien pretended to be hurt as he turned off the bedroom lights and lay down next to Marinette.

 

“It depends. Do you snore?”

 

“More than Plagg? Impossible.” he snorted. “I purr sometimes. If I’m very comfortable.”

 

Marinette smiled, abandoning the pillow and approaching Adrien on the bed.

 

“Oh, really? Can I make this kitty purr?” she asked as she stroked and lightly scratched Adrien’s scalp, trying to contain herself.

 

And he was holding back as well, until the moment she thought it would be nice to kiss his chin. Adrien melted and the purr escaped before he could control himself. Embarrassed, he covered his mouth while Marinette laughed softly.

 

“You are very cute.”

 

“I’m not cute,” he grunted. “I destroy everything I touch, I’m dangerous.”

 

“The most dangerous kitty in all of Paris.”

 

“Ok, I know you’re being ironic.”

 

“Do you think so?” she widened her eyes, pretending to be caught in the act. Rolling his eyes, Adrien pulled her around her waist, moving closer to her as he filled her with kisses on the cheek. “It tickles, stop!” she said, laughing.

 

“Never! Now you will have to face my villain, Ladybug. Tickling hand!” he said in a dramatic voice. “Go on, my little akuma, and bring that annoying Ladybug’s miraculous to me!”

 

“I’m not annoying!” she gasped, outraged.

 

“My lady, the many times you’ve messed up Papillon’s plans in the last few years shows how annoying you are.” he laughed and with his hand began to pet near her ear. Marinette closed her eyes, humming with satisfaction.

 

“If I get such cuddles, maybe I might consider handing you my miraculous.”

 

“I’ve been Mister Bug once, that’s enough.” he shuddered. “I prefer my chaos.”

 

“If you say so.” she opened her eyes, smiling. Adrien was above her, propping his elbows on the mattress so he wouldn’t crush her against the bed, and she had never felt so at home. “This looks like a dream.”

 

“I know.” he buried his face in her neck, giving a light kiss. “It’s like I’m going to wake up and find out these last weeks never existed.”

 

“But they did, chaton.” she hugged him, and Adrien allowed himself to melt and lie over her.

 

“It’s true.” he turned on his side, bringing her with him. They lay on their side, face to face, exchanging caresses and light kisses in silence.

 

“We should sleep,” she said sleepily.

 

“You know?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You should visit me more. You belong in my bed.”

 

“It is very comfortable. Especially with this beautiful model with me.”

 

“See? Just advantages.”

 

She laughed, nestling even more against him.

 

“What time do you wake up?”

 

“Six and a half. Nathalie calls me at seven.”

 

“Right. When you wake up, wake me up so I can leave, okay?”

 

“Yes, my lady,” he assured, stroking her hair as she fell asleep. Marinette closed her eyes, sighing tiredly, and Adrien soon noticed that she was sleeping.

 

He kissed each of her eyes, her nose, and finally her mouth.

 

“Good evening, my lady.”

 

Adrien closed her eyes, relaxed in the comfort of his bed and her lady hugging him, and then closed his eyes, sleeping wonderfully well.

 

So well that when his alarm went off, he turned it off without opening his eyes, tossed his cell phone aside and made sure that in five minutes he would get up because he was warm and comfortable under his covers, with Marinette sleeping close to him.

 

The problem is that the five minutes have passed. Ten. Fifteen. Twenty.

 

Thirty minutes passed and neither Adrien nor Marinette awoke.

 

 

*

 

 

Nathalie was surprised by Adrien’s delay and even more his lack of response when she knocked on his door to call him. When she opened the door and entered, she saw that Adrien was still sleeping.

 

Approaching, she saw that Adrien slept cuddling with no one but none other than Mademoiselle Dupain Cheng. The two young teens slept so soundly and so well that it was as if they had nothing important to do.

 

How Adrien had infiltrated his ex-girlfriend unnoticed, and how Gabriel would react when he saw that the girl had broken their treaty, she had no idea.

 

Taking a deep breath, she prepared to wake them and all the confusion that would follow.

 

I’m not paid enough for this.

Chapter Text

“Adrien? Adrien? Adrien!”

 

Adrien opened his eyes, sitting confused and disoriented. Nathalie stood beside his bed, hands behind her and in a severe position.

 

“Do you want to explain this situation to me?”

 

He blinked a few times, trying to figure out what she was talking about when he felt Marinette’s legs over his.

 

Oh shit.

 

“I can explain.” he started agitated, but Nathalie shook her head.

 

“We don’t have time, we have to take advantage of your father’s meeting so she can get out of here soon and safely. Wake her up and change, we have two minutes to leave the Mansion. I will tell your father that we’re going to school early, we will leave Miss Dupain-Cheng at home and then I will drop you off at school. Understood?”

 

Adrien nodded eagerly.

 

“Thank you so much, Nathalie.”

 

“Don’t thank me yet. We first need this to work out. I’ll let Gorilla know and have him put the security cameras in camouflage mode so we can go without his father knowing. Wake her up and get ready, I’ll be back in five minutes.”

 

“Yes, Nathalie.”

 

She left and Adrien jumped out of bed. He leaned against Marinette, taking only a second to contemplate that even though she was sound asleep with her mouth wide open, she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and then lightly kissed her cheek.

 

Marinette muttered something, still sleeping. Adrien sighed, hating that he had to wake her up suddenly rather than with sweet kisses as he did whenever he visited her and she slept.

 

“Come on, princess.” he shook her slightly. “We need to go.”

 

With great cost, Marinette finally opened her eyes. She looked at Adrien, smiling sleepily, and Adrien’s heart missed the beat, becoming all doki-doki.

 

Would he ever get used to her beauty?

 

“Good morning, chaton. What time is it?”

 

“Hm, it is past seven?”

 

What?!” she shouted, jumping out of bed at once. “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier?”

 

“Because I just woke up.” he cringed.

 

“And why didn’t Tikki wake me up?” she walked around the room looking for her kwami. “I have to transform and leave before Nathalie—”

 

“She already came. And she saw you.”

 

WHAT?!”

 

“Mari!” He ran to her and covered her mouth with his hands. “Please, no one but Nathalie can know that you are here or we will be in trouble. We’re lucky she wants to help us.”

 

Marinette took a deep breath and Adrien saw that she calmed down a little. Still cautious, he took his hand from her mouth and watched, waiting for a scream from her.

 

“Okay, what’s the plan?”

 

“She left to turn off the security cameras so we could go without my father seeing you. I’m going to change and you search for our kwamis, ok? Here, put it on.” he threw a sweatshirt at her.

 

“Fine.” she nodded, still looking scared, so Adrien took her hand and pulled her close to him.

 

“If that’s any consolation, last night was one of the best of my life.” he caressed her cheek and kissed her lightly. It seemed to soothe her because Marinette smiled.

 

“I loved it too. But, next time? My room.”

 

“I agree.” he laughed, giving her one more light kiss before leaving to change. Adrien took the first outfit he saw and slipped into the bathroom.

 

He opened the cabinet so he could pick up deodorant when he saw Plagg nestled against Tikki, Marinette’s cell phone beside them playing light music. That was why Tikki hadn’t woken them up — she hadn’t woken up either. They had been listening to music all night, probably.

 

“Tikki?” he patted Tikki’s head lightly. The kwami opened her eyes sleepily but smiled.

 

“Is it time to go?”

 

“Marinette is looking for you like crazy in the room. What are you doing in my bathroom?”

 

“Plagg and I wanted to give both of you some privacy.”

 

“And let you do your disgusting mating act,” Plagg added, still with his eyes closed.

 

“We don’t— that’s not— I mean, it wasn’t—” Adrien started babbling as Tikki pinched Plagg.

 

“Don’t embarrass Adrien! Honey, this is a totally common act and—”

 

“Look, we don’t have time for this,” he spoke before he died of embarrassment. “Nathalie found out that Marinette is here.”

 

What?!” Tikki asked, suddenly agitated. “Marinette!” and saying that, she flew off to Adrien’s room, who was alone with Plagg.

 

“Lost the time having fun, huh?” Plagg grinned.

 

“We only slept together!”

 

“I know that.”

 

“Plagg! Look, just go eat your cheese, we’re leaving in a few minutes.” ignoring Plagg’s taunt, Adrien picked up Marinette’s cell phone and turned off the music. He got ready as fast as he can and he left the bathroom.

 

Marinette was pacing around the room, Tikki hiding in the pocket of Adrien’s sweatshirt, looking worriedly at her chosen one. Plagg was holding a piece of cheese, watching the scene as he ate.

 

“Mari?” Adrien approached her.

 

“We were irresponsible. We almost put everything to lose!”

 

“I know.” he cupped her face with his hands. “But Nathalie is on our side.”

 

“Who guarantees?”

 

“I do,” Nathalie said, entering the room. Adrien looked around, seeing that both Plagg and Tikki had already hidden. “I won’t tell Mr. Agreste anything, as long as this is not repeated.”

 

“It won’t,” Adrien assured her, taking Marinette’s hand and turning to Nathalie. “We will be more careful. Don’t tell my father I’m still with Mari, Nathalie. I’ll hide it better, I swear.” Adrien pleaded with his gaze to Nathalie, who sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

 

“Okay. I believe you. Let’s go now. Your father just had his coffee and he is in the office, but that is no guarantee that he will not get out of there. You two are going to wait on the stairs and I’m going into the office to let your father know we’re going. When I close the door, you pass and get right into the car. Gorilla will be waiting for you there.”

 

“Right.”

 

“And don’t open the windows,” she warned before opening Adrien’s bedroom door and leaving. Adrien glanced at Marinette, seeing that she was wary, but she glared at him and nodded.

 

The two followed Nathalie and waited on the stairs as Nathalie had suggested. She walked into Gabriel’s office, closing the door behind her, and the two teenagers descended the rest of the stairs and ran out of the mansion straight into the car.

 

Adrien opened the door for Marinette, who entered quickly. He entered soon after her, closing the door, both breathing quickly to catch their breath as adrenaline rushed through their veins. Gorilla, behind the wheel, grunted something.

 

“Thanks,” Marinette told him, who grunted again. Then she faced Adrien, clasping her hand in his, the two still trying to control their emotions and started laughing.

 

The laughter was a mix of everything. Fear, nervousness, adrenaline still working, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were together and no one would separate them. No matter how hard they try.

 

 

*

 

 

They left Marinette at her house and entered the bakery with the excuse that they would eat something because Adrien hadn’t eaten breakfast. Not to be caught by her parents, Marinette entered by her house’s door.

 

Breakfast was delicious, but it was embarrassing for Adrien. No Marinette, but with Gorilla and Nathalie beside him. Gorilla was enjoying a croissant while Nathalie typed something on the tablet.

 

“I turned off the camouflage mode and your father hasn’t noticed anything yet. Let’s hope it stays that way.” she sighed, taking the coffee cup and almost drinking it all in one gulp. Adrien cringed, knowing that wasn’t normal. “After breakfast, we’ll go to the drugstore before taking Adrien to school.”

 

“Are you sick?” Adrien asked, pinching the pain au chocolat he was eating.

 

“I’ll need something to ease the headache that will come later after this whole adventure.” she sighed, staring at the coffee cup with a great concentration. “And condoms.”

 

Adrien gasped and Gorilla slapped — in a way Adrien thought was intentionally light — his back.

 

“Nathalie?!” he gasped.

 

“They’re for you.” she set the coffee cup on the table, looking as embarrassed and flushed as Adrien. “You snuck Miss Dupain Cheng inside the mansion, inside your room and no one suspected anything. If you had woken up on time, you would have done it all without anyone finding out, especially me. One night we can hide, now an illness or a pregnancy—”

 

“Look,” he interrupted. “Marinette and I, we aren’t—” he couldn’t finish, feeling his face burn with embarrassment. They were discussing their non–existent sex life with his girlfriend, who no one knew they were together, inside her parents' bakery!

 

 

“Really? This is natural, Adrien, you two are young and—”

 

“We are not doing anything. I swear.” he tried to control the shame, but it was almost impossible. “Nothing happened last night. We only sleep together. In the literal and innocent sense of the word.”

 

“Very well, I believe you. But I’ll still buy the condoms and hide them in your room without your father seeing, even if you don’t need them.”

 

“Nathalie!”

 

“Believe me, Adrien. It’s better to have them and not need that you need and not having them.”

 

Adrien never wanted the floor to swallow him so much as he did right now.

 

 

*

 

 

By the time she got to school, still thinking about today’s adventure and how they had almost been discovered — and if it wasn’t for Nathalie’s sudden help, they would have ruined every chance of staying together — Marinette wished she hadn’t gone to school when Alya approached her with the new rumor that was in everybody’s mouth.

 

“Did Adrien broke up with you because of Lila?”

 

What?”

 

Alya looked around and began whispering the story to Marinette, that everyone was saying that Adrien had broken up with Marinette so he could stay with Lila. According to the gossip, the two were seen exchanging kisses at lunchtime.

 

Marinette clenched her fists, eager to punch Lila the same way she did with Gabriel Agreste. That fuckin liar, spreading rumors around the school again when she knew perfectly well why Marinette and Adrien were no longer together…

 

When she had been responsible for their “breakup”.

 

“Adrien would never do that,” Marinette said firmly. “And I’ll prove that bitch is lying.”

 

“Marinette…” Alya said worried as she watched her friend pick up her phone and furiously typing Luka’s number. “What are you going to do?”

 

“Defend my honor. Whatever it costs.”

 

 

 

Marinette wanted a plan to expose Lila’s lies and had Luka Couffaine’s help to do so.

 

By the time he finished school, Luka had decided to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. With his talent, he eventually became one of Clara Nightingale’s guitarists. The singer admired Luka’s talent so much that she had chosen him to write the song she would sing with Jagged Stone.

 

Jagged Stone, who still hired Marinette to make clothes and accessories for his tours and music videos.

 

Lila had said she knew and was a close friend of Clara and had saved Jagged Stone’s kitten – the two famous ones she thought no one knew.

 

Little did she know that Marinette knew them both.

 

Luka elaborated a complicated plan that Marinette never thought would work because it involved bringing two of Paris’s biggest celebrities to their school during the school year and in less than a week. They were famous, their agendas must be full, and they owed Marinette nothing to the point to drop everything just to expose a liar who was making Marinette’s life hell.

 

What Marinette didn’t know was that yes, they would drop everything to defend Marinette, because she was their protégé.

 

And, at school time, the school stopped.

 

 

In the classroom, they began to hear the conversation, the noises, and the movement. Teachers lost control of their students because everyone started to leave the classroom to see what was going on.

 

Jagged and Clara were in the middle of the courtyard, their security guards close by. Jagged was sitting in a chair with Fang at his feet and Clara sitting in front of him, both talking to Principal Damocles.

 

Marinette’s class was in a corner, trying to know what was happening. Alya had her cell phone in hand, typing furiously, with Nino and Adrien beside her.

 

“What’s this all about?” Nino asked curiously.

 

“It’s the recording of their new clip!” Alya said, showing the phone screen to her friends. “They want to record in a school and they chose ours.”

 

“And did Mr. Damocles know that?” Adrien asked, confused. Marinette shrugged and he immediately widened his eyes, knowing full well what it was about. “Oh no.”

 

“It’s going to be fun, dude,” Nino said, smiling. “I will be able to see the two passions of my life working together: cinema and music.”

 

“Ah, the two passions of your life?” Alya teased and Nino blushed, hugging her.

 

“I love you.”

 

“I really hope so,” she grunted but smiled soon after. “Oh, it looks like someone is trying to get your attention, Mari.”

 

Marinette looked where Alya was pointing and saw Luka looking toward her. When their eyes met, he smiled. Marinette felt more than she saw Adrien tense. She glanced at him, wanting to make sure everything was all right and then went to Luka.

 

Luka hugged her quickly and then leaned toward her to not be heard.

 

“I already hacked the sound system, the conversation will play through all the speakers in the classrooms. The microphone is here.” he handed Marinette a small device. “You click here to turn it on, got it? You remember what you have to do, right?

 

She nodded, suddenly feeling anxious as she put the microphone in her bag.

 

“What’s up? You look like you’re going to throw up.”

 

“I want to, actually. Is what I’m doing the right thing?”

 

“Lila has tormented you for years, is threatening your relationship with the guy you love for years, threatened you several times, and are you worried about doing the right thing? Marinette, please.” he put his hand on her shoulder. “You’re doing to defend yourself.”

 

Marinette took a deep breath to calm down.

 

“Yes, you’re right. It’s just to defend myself and my relationship with Adrien.”

 

“Exactly, Marinette. You’ve spent years trying to date Adrien and now it’s just Lila who is the obstacle. Don’t let it get in your way.”

 

“Thanks for everything, Luka.”

 

“That’s nothing, Marinette. I just want you to be happy and I know that Adrien can do it. Okay, director Damocles is gone, now is your chance.”

 

“All students, back to their classrooms! The courtyard is inaccessible for the day because of the music video footage, so stay in the classroom unless you have permission to leave.” Mr. Damocles warned everyone and reluctantly, the students began to return to the classrooms.

 

“Will it work?” she asked Luka.

 

“It will. And I trust you.”

 

“I can do it… right?”

 

“Of course you can. Good luck!” Luka blinked.

 

Marinette took a deep breath once more and then approached Jagged and Clara.

 

“Marinette!” Jagged said, rising from his chair to hug her. “My favorite niece!”

 

“Uncle Jagged!” she joked, returning the hug. “Clara!”

 

“Hello, beautiful Marinette!” Clara hugged her tightly. “Now I understand why Luka suggested this school. He did well, Jagged.” Clara winked at Marinette, who blushed.

 

“Jagged, five minutes!” Penny said.

 

Marinette had to act before she lost the chance. Placing her hand in her purse, she kept her finger near the button that turned on the microphone.

 

“What led you to choose this school, Clara? Your relative, Lila?”

 

Clara blinked, clearly confused by Marinette’s question, who pushed the button and prayed that everything would work out.

 

“Lila?”

 

“Yes, Lila Rossi. She is a distant cousin of yours because her mother is your relative too. She is in my class. She’s the same one that saved Jagged’s kitten.”

 

“I don’t have any distant cousin named Lila. I know all my cousins, Marinette, and Lila is not one of them.” Clara frowned. “Where did you hear that?”

 

“And my kitten? Marinette, my dear niece, you know the only pet I have is Fang.”

 

“Where did you hear those stories, Marinette?” Clara said, rising to look at Marinette with concern.

 

“Lila… she’s my classmate and she told me all this and…”

 

“She lied about all this, don’t you mean?”

 

Marinette feigned a look of confusion and splurge.

 

“But… but… so you mean she didn’t save your first tour when the sound wasn’t working?” Marinette asked Clara.

 

“No… my first tour did have audio problems, but it was some technicians who fixed it.”

 

“And you don’t have a secret tattoo she drew?” this time Marinette turned to Jagged.

 

“Everyone knows all my tattoos. I don’t have a secret one. And none of them were drawn by an unknown teenager.”

 

“Oh. So did she… did she lie?” Marinette pretended disbelief, sitting in a chair as if in shock.

 

“Yes, my dear. We don’t know Lila Rossi, but—”

 

 “She’s a big liar. I wouldn’t trust anything she would say if I was you.”

 

Marinette bit back the smile.

 

“Everyone likes her stories so much… was that all a lie? Everything she told us… were lies?”

 

“Well, all she said about us is a lie. Who knows what else she came up with?” Clara sighed. “I don’t understand why she did it, but it’s a shame to try to make friends based on lies.”

 

“Yes. I’m sure she was honest with us, things would be better.”

 

“I’m sorry, niece.” Jagged put his hand on her shoulder. “Maybe if you talk to her, you can convince her not to lie anymore?”

 

Humph. Easier Papillon to deliver his miraculous and give up attacking Paris.

 

“It’ll be fine,” she assured, smiling, and pushing the button to turn off the device.

 

At the same time, chaos set in at school. The classroom doors opened and several students began marching toward Lila Rossi’s class. But the liar had already escaped. She was coming down the stairs when she was surrounded by some students, demanding to know the truth.

 

"Wait, I didn’t want to lie to you, I just—”

 

“I assume she’s Lila Rossi?” Clara asked, pointing toward the stairs.

 

“Yes. I think I better go help her.” Marinette stood, ready to face this horde.

 

But Adrien had been faster. He infiltrated the people until he approached Lila.

 

“Tell everyone you lied about the two of us and I’ll get you out of here,” he said out loud. Everyone fell silent, looking at Lila and then Adrien. “So?”

 

“Adrien didn’t break up with Marinette because of me. He and I never had anything. In fact, he hates me.” Lila finally said. “And he and Marinette broke up because I convinced his father not to let Adrien date her.”

 

People began to boo, ready to move against Lila, but Adrien scooped her up and took her away with Nino’s help. He left school and Marinette wasted no time following him.

 

Lila was on the floor, Adrien facing her furious. Nino was by his side, trying to calm him down. Marinette ran down the stairs until she approached Adrien. She put her hand on his shoulder and he instantly calmed down.

 

“You’re going to tell my father that everything you said about Marinette is a lie. If I imagine you are talking bad stuff about my girlfriend to anyone, I swear to you—”

 

“It’s not worth it.” Marinette took his hand.

 

“Get out of my sight, Lila. If you dare to approach anyone I like again, you will pay. Do You remember we’re friends, right?”

 

Lila shuddered, terrified. He nodded, unable to say anything, and ran away like a frightened hare.

 

“Okay, I’m the only one scared here?” Nino said, laughing nervously.

 

“I don't know if I’m scared or excited.” Marinette scratched her forehead, suddenly hot. “I just know I liked your menacing side, my prince.”

 

Adrien looked toward Marinette and held her chin with his forefinger and thumb, bending down to give her a quick kiss.

 

“Let’s go before we get into more confusion.”

 

She agreed and still holding his hand, the three entered the school.

 

 

*

 

 

Marinette couldn’t stop smiling.

 

She had succeeded. She and Adrien had managed to get rid of Lila Rossi.

 

Now they just needed to get rid of Gabriel Agreste…

 

Her smile finally died. She spun on the bed, hugging the pillow, thinking. There was no chance of convincing Gabriel that she and Adrien belonged to each other and that they should be together.

 

It was unfair. For years, she fought so hard to be with Adrien and when they were finally together, the universe conspired against it.

 

She stroked her lips with her fingers, remembering the kisses they had exchanged last night in his room. How she had fit so well in his arms, how she had slept like a baby all night…

 

She missed him and she had seen him a few hours ago. The light kiss he gave her at the end of class had not been enough, and everyone at school was wondering if they had returned now that the rumor that Adrien had broken up with Marinette to be with Lila had been denied.

 

She missed him. She wanted so much to transform and go to see him, but the fear of being discovered again was enormous. They had been very lucky that Nathalie had not exposed them.

 

When she was thinking of texting him, though, she heard the beats on her trapdoor. Smiling, she opened it so Chat could enter.

 

“Princess!” he said excitedly, throwing himself into her arms. Marinette huffed at the impact as he fell over her, pinning her against the mattress. Chat seemed not to have heard the complaint or chose to ignore it, as he peppered kisses all over her face.

 

Marinette laughed, hugging him and turning her face to capture his lips with hers. Chat melted, purring and returning the kiss with the same sweetness.

 

“Hi,” she said, panting.

 

“Hi.” he grinned, looking like he’d won the lottery or something. “We did it. Lila got off our feet. Finally, I can approach you at school.”

 

“Yes. We made it.” she stroked his cat ears.

 

“Now we just need to convince my father.” he kissed her, making her dizzy. “And then I’ll be able to go around showing off how lucky I am to have you as my girlfriend.”

 

She rolled her eyes, smiling.

 

“Well, until that happens, we have my whole room for both of us. My parents have already gone to sleep and if we don’t make a lot of noise, we won’t be interrupted…” she said, playing with his bell.

 

She bit back the smile as he swallowed hard.

 

“W-what do you suggest?”

 

She smirked, staring at him.

 

“A game.”

 

 

 

“Yes! Right there!” Marinette bit her bottom lip to not scream, but it was almost impossible with Adrien to drive her crazy like that.

 

“You’re very talented with your hands,” he grunted and she laughed.

 

“Years of practice.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” he leaned over, trying to take the joystick of her hands. “You are cheating!”

 

“You are!” she laughed, trying to get away from him and lying on the floor, laughing. Even with Adrien trying to take the joystick of her hands, Marinette managed to execute the combo and Adrien’s defeat was humiliating once again.

 

“I don’t know why I still try to play against you,” he grunted, falling sideways to the floor. Marinette laughed, lying over him.

 

“Stop being a bad loser,” she said, poking his cheek with her forefinger.

 

“Bad loser? We played twenty matches and I won only one!” he said, turning so she could lie better in his arms. “I feel humiliated.”

 

“Poor chaton. How can I make you feel better?”

 

“Hmm, giving me kisses?” he said, brushing her hair from her face.

 

Marinette rolled her eyes, kissing the tip of his nose.

 

“Better now?”

 

“That doesn’t cover even the first loss!” he grunted and she smiled, giving him a long kiss on his mouth this time.

 

Adrien sighed, holding her face and intensifying the kiss, turning so that he could stand over her. He ended the kiss with a light one on her forehead.

 

“Can I sleep here?” he asked, playing with one of her pigtails.

 

“Sure. Just… let’s be very careful with the alarm clock this time, right?”

 

He laughed in agreement.

 

“Right.”

 

 

*

 

 

The next day, because of a miracle, Adrien had breakfast with his father.

 

“Glad to see your nose is getting better,” Adrien commented, taking a sip of his tea to disguise the urge to laugh.

 

“Thank you. I hear Miss Lila Rossi has requested a transfer from your school.”

 

“Yes. She made some enemies yesterday when everyone discovered her lies.”

 

“Oh. So what did she tell me yesterday, about you and Miss Dupain-Cheng still being together, was a lie?”

 

“No,” Adrien said quietly, finishing his tea. “I’m still with Marinette.”

 

He heard his father drop something on the table and looked up, ready to confront him. Last night, while watching Marinette sleep in his arms, Adrien had made a decision: he would fight for his lady, no matter what his father said or wanted. Adrien loved her and would stay with her, his father approving or not.

 

Yes, everything would be happier and better if his father simply accepted Marinette and even tried hard to get to know her better and see the wonderful girl she was. Adrien really wanted his father, his only family, to get along with the woman his heart chose to love.

 

But if his father was being difficult about it, so would be Adrien.

 

“I thought I didn’t approve of this relationship,” Gabriel commented coldly.

 

“You really don’t. But I’m ignoring your order to stay away from her because I love her, Father. It’s not something I can just control.” he took a deep breath, feeling panic deep in his stomach.

 

Was he arguing with his father and disobeying his orders?

 

Gabriel would kill him if he kept this up…

 

Adrien had to make Gabriel allow dating, not to send him to London and away from his lady.

 

“Father, let me ask you something, please.” Adrien started before his father had a chance to say anything. “Mom’s family didn’t approve your relationship with her. Just as you don’t want to approve my relationship with Marinette.”

 

Gabriel stopped the coffee cup halfway, looking at his son with a surprised expression.

 

“Aunt Amelie told me that my grandparents didn’t want Mom to date you, especially Grandfather. But you still loved Mom and fought for her, just like Marinette is doing. And mom also continued to love and fight for you, just like I’m doing…” he swallowed and with the little courage he still had, he raised his face to look in his father’s eyes. “Would you stop fighting for Mom? If you had the opportunity to be with her?”

 

“Of course not,” Gabriel said softly.

 

“So why are you asking me to do this? To stop fighting for the woman I love?”

 

Gabriel was silent.

 

“My grandfather didn’t approve of your relationship with mom, but she fought for you. You did the same for her. Why can’t I do the same?”

 

He waited for an answer. Any answer from his father. But he got nothing. Gabriel remained silent, contemplating his son’s words.

“You can send me to London, forbid me to see Marinette, do the impossible to get me away from her. But I’ll still keep loving and fighting for her. And I’m going to date her, whether you like it or not.” Adrien stood up. “I need to go or I’m going to be late for school. Excuse me, Father. Have a great day.”

 

Adrien left the dining room with legs shaking and still not believing what he had done, but proud to have done it.

 

 

*

 

 

“And what did he say?”

 

“That’s the problem, he didn’t.” Chat cringed. “After the fencing training, I came home and it was as if our breakfast hadn’t happened. And he even had dinner with me for some reason?”

 

“Yikes,” Ladybug commented, laying her head on Chat’s shoulder. “This is weird.”

 

“I know. I’m afraid of waking up tomorrow on a train to London.”

 

“I won’t let you go,” she said, turning around so she could hug him. Chat melted into her hug, kissing her right after.

 

“Protect me, my princess in shining armor.”

 

She laughed, rolling her eyes at his nonsense.

 

“We should be patrolling.”

 

“I know, but it’s so comfortable here…” he complained, laying his head on her lap. Ladybug began to play with the strands of his hair.

 

He closed his eyes, enjoying the moment with his lady. The day at school had been crazy and he barely had time to see Marinette, but thankfully they could see each other thanks to the masks.

 

Marinette had been very harsh in saying that they shouldn’t show so much affection while being transformed because Ladynoir becomes canon very soon after Marinette and Adrien started dating would be very suspicious.

 

But it was late at night, almost all of Paris slept. They were alone and could enjoy each other.

 

Yes, they had Marinette’s room too, but every time he came to visit her, they slept all night and he couldn’t enjoy his girlfriend at all. Here he had to stay awake, so he could enjoy her presence.

 

Not that sleeping next to Marinette wasn’t good — on the contrary, he slept very well. So well that he slept all night and couldn’t even tease, kiss, or just talk to his lady.

 

But here they were alone and at peace.

 

“I don’t want you to go to London,” she said softly, breaking the silence.

 

He opened one eye, seeing how worried she looked.

 

“I’m not going to London. If I wake up on a train, I’ll hide in the bathroom, transform into Chat and cataclysm the floor to get away.”

 

“And where will you live?”

 

“Well, I’m counting on a certain princess to adopt this stray cat…”

 

She shook her head in exasperation and rose, knocking Chat over. He grunted, ready to tease her, but saw that Marinette was agitated. She paced, looking desperate.

 

Sighing, Chat stood and stayed in front of her, causing her to collide against him. Holding her face with both hands, he stared at her before kissing her deeply. He felt her shudder in his arms before hugging him and he sighed against her mouth.

 

“Nothing, nothing will tear us apart,” he whispered against her mouth. “If my father sends me to London, I beg Master Fu to let you use the horse’s miraculous to come to see me. I dress up as Banana Noir again. I do the impossible for you, my lady. Because I love you. And I’ll fight everyone if I need to, just to be by your side.”

 

“Promise,” she said, placing her hands over his. “Promise that no matter what happens, we will always fight for each other.”

 

“I promise.” he nodded. Ladybug tried to kiss him, but even on tiptoe, she could not reach his mouth.

 

Chat smiled teasingly, tiptoeing to make it even harder for her to kiss him. The pout she was making was too cute, and it was messing with his head. So he decided to continue on tiptoe.

 

“You’re too tall, that’s unfair!" she complained as he laughed again.

 

“I’m not tall, you are too small, buginette.” he laughed and she crossed her arms, putting her feet on the floor.

 

“Alright, you’re the one losing. No kisses for you,” she smirked and Chat gasped, putting his hand on his chest.

 

“That’s low, my lady.”

 

“Oh, is it? I can’t reach you to kiss you, so…” she shrugged and Chat put his hands on her waist, pulling her closer.

 

“We need to solve this problem.”

 

“Yes. What do you suggest?”

 

“Hm…” lifted her and Ladybug wrapped her legs against his waist, resting her hands on his shoulders. “Better?”

 

“Totally.” she murmured against his mouth before kissing him once more.

 

 

*

 

 

The next day Adrien woke up in his room, not on a train to London as he imagined.

 

He had denied the invitation to sleep at Marinette’s house because he didn’t want to take unnecessary risks. He knew his father would be more attentive now that he had openly stated that he would continue dating Marinette.

 

The morning was normal. He finished settling for school, excited that the weekend was finally near. He gave Plagg cheese, made sure the kwami was hidden in his shirt and went downstairs to the dining room.

 

As he entered, however, he stopped at the spot and had to rub his eyes to see if he was really awake or still sleeping.

 

Because, seriously, it could only be a dream.

 

Gabriel Agreste was next to the table, drinking coffee and looking at the several papers with designs of models and dresses that were scattered over it. Beside him was Marinette, pencil in hand, eagerly drawing something, biting her tongue the way she did whenever she was focused.

 

“Good morning?” he asked, still waiting for the sight before him to fade if he made any sudden movements.

 

“Adrien!” Marinette looked up, dropping her pencil and standing up. She ran to him, hugging him and giving him a slow kiss on his cheek. “Good Morning.”

 

“Good morning?” he repeated, still stunned. He looked at his father, who ignored them as he continued to review the drawings. “What is happening?”

 

“Hm…” she looked at Gabriel and then at Adrien, lowering her voice. “I really don’t know? I was having breakfast at home when Nathalie arrived saying I should go with her because your father wanted to talk to me.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes! I almost died on the way!”

 

Adrien gave a nervous laugh, kissing her hair and hugging her once more. It wasn’t a dream, she was really there with him. With his father. But why?

 

“Miss Dupain-Cheng, I know you enjoy my son’s presence, but we need to finish this dress today.”

 

“Yes, sir.” she cast one more confused look in Adrien’s direction before returning to where she was sitting.

 

“Keep adjusting what you think it needs to improve, your creative vision is the only thing that can save this dress.”

 

Was he… was he complimenting Marinette?”

 

Her princess went pale, also taken back by his praise, but nodded and continued to work on the drawing she was doing. Gabriel approached Adrien.

 

“Isn’t it time for your breakfast? You and Marinette can’t be late for school.”

 

“Ok, what’s going on?” Adrien asked confused.

 

Gabriel sighed, placing his hand on his son’s shoulder.

 

“I heard your speech yesterday and thought a lot about it. How you would still fight for Marinette, even if I put all the obstacles in the world. And the determination and strength I saw in his eyes reminded me of your mother when we were both still trying to be together. It made me think all afternoon and reconsider things. And Nathalie also convinced me to think a little before acting. Thank her later. She is quite… persuasive.”

 

“I will. And then…?”

 

“And I can see now why you were so determined to stay by Miss Dupain-Cheng side. She is a smart girl and extremely talented. I was talking to her earlier, trying to get to know her better as you suggested and… she saw a mistake in one of my designers I had thrown in the trash and corrected the cut of the dress.” Gabriel took off his glasses, squeezing his bridge of the nose. “Adrien, about your Instagram post, the photo which you are kissing Marinette.”

 

“What about it?”

 

“It affected Gabriel’s movement. In a positive way. The sales website and the stores have taken a sudden movement, and people are interested and looking for the dress Marinette was wearing.” he stared at Adrien. “Is there something you want to share with me?”

 

“Maybe I put it in the caption that Marinette was wearing Gabriel?” Adrien shrugged as if he wanted nothing, and his father sighed wearily. “Marinette is the one who made the dress, by the way. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you suddenly bought this model from her and started making it? Everyone is researching about it. Sales would go up a lot, don’t you agree?”

 

Gabriel looked at him in a way that made Adrien think he might have exaggerated, but when he saw his father’s shy smile, he smiled back.

 

“You are, definitely, your mother’s son. Always trying to fool me.”

 

“And we can do it?”

 

Gabriel put his hand on Adrien’s shoulder, squeezing it.

 

“You can. Unfortunately, you can.”

 

Adrien started to laugh and Gabriel smiled a little more.

 

“Father.” Adrien stopped laughing and felt the fear deep in his stomach once again. “Does that mean I can date Marinette?”

 

“That means I misjudged her. I still need to know her more and see you two interacting to decide something.”

 

“But—”

 

“Miss Dupain-Cheng,” Gabriel said, ignoring Adrien. “You can continue this later. You and Adrien need to go to school, Nathalie and Gorilla will accompany you.”

 

“Oh, okay. Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Agreste. I won’t let you down,” Marinette said, rising and straightening her papers. Adrien approached to help her.

 

They exchanged a knowing look as their hands touched. When they had finished, they said goodbye to Gabriel and went hand in hand, following Nathalie to the car, hope burning in his chest.

 

Maybe their fake dating would eventually become real, with everyone knowing and approving.

 

Even Gabriel Agreste.

 

 

*

 

 

Adrien was disappointed to have lunch at home and was extremely surprised to see that his father would join him.

 

Lunch was everything Adrien had not expected. His father talked to him about the school, fencing, and lessons. He asked if Adrien would be able to continue practicing everything perfectly well and keep good grades if he was dating Marinette.

 

“Adrien?”

 

“Yes, father?”

 

“Do you really love her? Is everything you told me about being willing to keep fighting for her true?”

 

“Yes, father. I love Marinette and I will fight for her. And I will date her. Nothing will have to change just because I’m with the woman I love.”

 

Gabriel sighed, looking at his plate.

 

“I allow it.”

 

“W-what?”

 

“I allow you to date Miss Dupain-Cheng. As long as you two take care, that neither one’s grades drop, you continue your activities and don’t neglect either of them and if I see you’re messing around—”

 

“My grades are going to be perfect and I’ll improve on everything, I swear,” Adrien said, barely holding back the excitement as he rose from his chair.

 

“I hope so.”

 

“Thank you so much, Father,” Adrien said, running over to his father and hugging him. Gabriel stiffened, unsure how to react, but Adrien ignored that and ran to his chair, grabbing his bag.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“Lunchtime is over. I need to go back to school before I’m late, right?”

 

“Are you sure this has nothing to do with a certain pigtail girl?”

 

“No, sir. See you later!” Adrien said goodbye and left, almost running.

 

He ignored the car and Gorilla, running to the school and holding the strap of his bag so as not to drop it. He was ecstatic, his heart was pounding, and it wasn’t just from physical exertion.

 

A deep happiness burned deep in his stomach. He felt in the sky, in the clouds, in paradise.

 

Marinette Dupain-Cheng, his princess, his lady… could be his.

 

No lies. No fake dating. No hiding.

 

A little lie had turned his world upside down but in a good way.

 

That’s what they say, isn’t it? If you’re gonna lie, make it worth it.

 

He entered the school, panting. The courtyard was already filled with some of the students, and he scanned the place, searching for her.

 

He finally found her. She was near the stairs, talking to Alya and Nino, laughing at something Nino was showing on his cell phone screen. She was beautiful as always, the smile giant and lively.

 

How had he never realized before that the love of his life was right there beside him?

 

He shook his head, refusing to let such confused thoughts fill his mind. Instead, he ran close to Marinette.

 

 

*

 

 

“Sorry.”

 

It was the only thing Marinette could hear before Adrien grasped her face with both hands and kissed her.

 

In the middle of the whole school.

 

To everyone see.

 

Without an apparent reason.

 

She smiled, hugging him and intensifying the kiss.

 

“He allowed it,” Adrien said against her mouth, as he broke the kiss, looking her in the eyes. “He allowed it. We don’t need to lie anymore.”

 

She widened her eyes, slowly digesting the information as her vision began to darken.

 

“Marinette!”

 

Marinette fainted in Adrien’s arms — this time for happiness.

 

 

epilogue:

 

 

“Are you going to pass out every time you feel very emotional?” Adrien asked exasperated as he took her hand and kissed it.

 

Marinette laughed, shaking her head.

 

“Sorry. I was just so happy and my body couldn’t handle it.” she sighed. “But I’m better now.”

 

“Great.” he caressed her cheek. They were sitting on one of the patio benches, waiting for Nino and Alya to be released from class so they could leave. “But, please, don’t scare me anymore, okay?”

 

“Okay.” she laughed. Adrien kissed her forehead and then her nose and down to her mouth.

 

“Did I say I love you today?”

 

Marinette opened her mouth to answer but was interrupted by a shout. When they turned around, they saw Alya running toward them with her cellphone in her hand.

 

“Look what someone just sent me!” she shouted excitedly, showing the phone screen.

 

Adrien and Marinette swallowed immediately, exchanging a small look.

 

The image on Alya’s cellphone was Ladybug against one of the Eiffel Tower’s columns, with Chat kissing her vigorously.

 

“Ladynoir is canon! I don’t even believe it! My two OTPs are canon now! Adrienette and Ladynoir. Ah, this is perfect! I need to post this picture now!” Alya said, leaving excited as she typed on her phone.

 

Marinette facepalmed while Adrien smiled wide. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed her cheek.

 

“See where your little lie got us?”

 

She looked him over.

 

“Did it worth it?”

 

He gave her a peck.

 

“Totally.”