Marinette knew that her classmates thought that her only interest was in fashion. She also knew that they didn't think she was very smart. What they didn't know was that she was the youngest student in the class, having skipped two years. While it was true that her primary passion lay in fashion, over the years she had developed a passion for the law as well. It had started when she had seen how Adrian was treated by his father and had been nurtured by sheer necessity after becoming Ladybug.
After seeing one too many people becoming Akumatized due to fear while being trapped in Abusive relationships, Marinette knew that she needed to be able to help them. As Marinette, she couldn't do anything. As ladybug, she was able to find out where they lived and was able to guide them to the right lawyers that would happily take on pro-bono cases.
When Lila had joined her class she knew that she wasn't looking at a girl who wanted attention, she was looking at an undiagnosed psychopath with a heavy dose of narcissism thrown in. She also knew that Lila was a pathological liar and that despite what Adrian had to say, taking the high road would not help them in the long run.
Marinette knew that with so many enablers in her class she would have to work hard to get out as soon as she could. With this in mind, she threw herself into her studies. She was still Ladybug and she still did her duties as class president to the best of her abilities but she stopped doing all the extra things she had done for the class. Seeing how Adrian had refused to stand up for himself against Lila had made her realise that he would never stand up to his father either and had killed her crush on him faster than anything else could have.
When Lila had pushed for her to be ousted as class president, Marinette had simply canceled any plans she had made for the class, withdrew the money she had set aside out of her own pocket for any outings, and dumped all the paperwork on Alya as Lila had said she couldn't run as president. She had then approached the student council and joined that instead as she knew that, while it was unlikely any prospective employer would care about it being on her resume, she wanted the experience.
Her duties on the council were slightly less time consuming than the class president duties and she had used that time to push ahead in her studies. By the end of the year, she was a grade and a half ahead of the rest of her class. To hide how far ahead she was, she had asked M Damocles not to change her class but to rather let her teachers know that she was much further ahead than the rest of her class and to assign her work appropriately. He had readily agreed however it seemed Mlle Bustier didn't read the memo. As a result, she handed all her work into Mme Mendeleiev instead. Mlle Bustier got handed copies of her older assignments and any marks received from her were ignored by the school board. Ironically it was having to do this that brought Mlle Bustier up in front of the school board for incompetence shortly after Marinette had graduated, especially when Mlle Bustier had tried to report Marinette for truancy. It was then that Lila's lies started to unravel but the grip she had on Marinette's old class was so tight that they didn't even notice when things were going wrong anymore.
Less than a month after she had officially graduated from high school she had figured out who Hawkmoth was. She knew after the first time Chat had reacted negatively to the idea that Gabriel Agreste could be Hawkmoth, that he wouldn't be able to help her in the upcoming fight against him. So she went to master Fu with an idea. Make her parents temporary holders of the fox and turtle. Her father's build would provide the intimidation factor that they needed to scare Hawkmoth, while her mother could create decoys to distract Mayura. The key part of the plan would be to wait for Hawkmoth to Akumatize someone, then while chat distracts the Akuma, Ladybug, Tartaruga, and Hú bù wǔ (Foxtrot) would head to the Agreste mansion to deal with Hawkmoth and Mayura. They took Master Fu as Serpens with them to collect and important documents that pertained to the miraculous as they didn't want to leave those in Gabriel's possession any longer than they had to.
It didn't take long to convince her parents to be temporary holders, though neither Fu nor Marinette revealed that it was Marinette asking them for the favour and not Ladybug. They didn't have to wait too long to act on their plan either. Thankfully the Akuma that was sent out was a rather benign one that simply made anyone it hit speak what they were really thinking and while Chat had to work hard not to get hit, it wasn't causing any true damage. Hawkmoth went down relatively fast, to Ladybug's relief but Chat was still hissing angrily when she arrived a full hour later to the Akuma. One lucky charm later and the Akuma was defeated, however, Chat decided to let her know exactly how angry he was at being left to deal with it alone for so long.
Marinette, as Ladybug, looked at Chat the whole time he was berating her, not giving her a chance to talk. Eventually, he seemed to run out of steam when Alya showed up for an interview and started to ask questions of her own. Ladybug had put a hand on her hip in annoyance by this stage and when she answered her voice was sharp.
“Well, Chat if you had let me speak earlier you wouldn't be left looking like a fool now! To answer your question, the reason I was late is I had a lead on who Hawkmoth and Mayura were and I was acting on it.”
Alya was the one to pick up on her word choice.
“Were?” She asked.
“Yes. Were. While Chat was keeping the Akuma occupied Tartaruga, Hú bù wǔ, Serpens, and I were dealing with Hawkmoth and Mayura. They have been defeated and will no longer be attacking Paris. This is the last Akuma Paris will ever see.” Alya and Chat's jaws dropped.
“But-” Chat didn't get the chance to continue as Serpens slipped behind him and removed his ring. Soon Adrian was standing where Chat had been just moments before. Alya instantly rounded on him asking questions by the dozen and Ladybug and Serpens slipped away unnoticed.
They both dropped their transformation then she looked at Master Fu for a moment.
“Master” Marinette began but he held up a hand then removed the snake miraculous and placed it in the box.
“I am old Marinette,” he said sadly. “It's time I passed on the duties of Guardian as I will no longer be able to fulfill them. You may be young but you are wise and more importantly, you are ready. I hereby name you as Guardian of the Miraculous.” As soon as he finished speaking a soft glow covered both of them. Master Fu smiled at her. “I have ten minutes before the memory erasure takes hold. Please stay safe Marinette, you have been a blessing to teach and I love you like a grandchild.” With that Marinette was left alone in the ally with the bag that held what felt like the weight of the world. When the news reached her a week later that he had died she insisted on being the one to arrange his funeral, getting help from Wayzz on what he'd have wanted. It confused her parents who were unaware of Marinette's connection to Master Fu but Marinette didn't care and Marianne was grateful for the help.
It was as Marinette was trying to decide what she wanted to study that she came across her first big stumbling block. What did she want to study more? Fashion or Law? She debated with herself for almost a week before Tikki, in a fit of frustration, had asked her why she didn't just study both. To Marinette, it was as though her path was suddenly clear. So she submitted her application to ESMOD with the plan to finish her fashion major there before heading to Harvard in the USA. To make sure she could get into Harvard when she finished at ESMOD, Marinette sent her application in at the same time as she sent her applications in at the same time, though she sent a letter with the one that went off to Harvard and was surprised to see she had been accepted into both. The committee at Harvard had been so impressed that she had planned so far ahead that they were holding a spot for her and she wouldn't have to re-apply when she had finished her other degree.
Her time at ESMOD flew by with several of her teachers trying to get her to agree to go to work in a fashion house as soon as she graduated but Marinette stuck to her plan. She was using the money from her commissions to pay her way through her courses and for her transfer to America so she had taken to working at a coffee shop whenever she could, in order to have a little extra, just in case! She had also taken up dancing in her spare time, though she knew that that would always only be a hobby. Besides, it was a great way to unwind from a stressful day!
Her time at Harvard got off to a rocky start. So rocky in fact that she reminded a number of the staff of Elle Woods. Marinette didn't let the rest of the student body know that they were getting to her however the staff saw it and decided to intervene. They contacted Elle and got her to come in for a guest lecture. They told her about Marinette and when Elle saw how similar they were she knew she had to help. It was then that a case dropped in her lap that she knew she would need help with. So she went to the Harvard board with an idea, let her take 4 students on to help her with the research and they would get to see how it really was in court as well as gain some real-world experience. The board loved her idea and soon the other lecturers had managed to get all of their first-year students to apply. Marinette hadn't placed much hope in getting a position but had read up on the case anyway and she had several questions about what she had read.
Soon the shortlist was posted on the announcements board and the news quickly spread around the campus. Marinette had been in a dance class so when she hears that she had been one of the ones chosen, she quickly went to double-check. She didn't want to show up only to find out it wasn't true after all. She was thrilled to see that she had been chosen and ran to her dorm to make sure all of her notes were in order. The Kwami's all danced around her in celebration and helped get everything ready. Duusu went through Marinette's wardrobe to make sure she had the perfect outfit ready for her which had Marinette smiling happily.
When she arrived at the meeting room she was nervous, but she relaxed slightly when given the brief. They were defending a man accused of killing his boyfriend when he had left him for someone else. Marinette had frowned when she heard that, something Elle noticed straight away.
“What's wrong, Marinette?” Elle asked.
“I'm not sure,” she answered, which made the other three laugh at her.
“Probably doesn't understand the case as it doesn't involve fashion.” One said derisively.
“It's not the case I don't understand. There's just something that doesn't fit with the police reports.” Marinette's voice was thoughtful and she had yet to look up from the file in front of her to judge any of their reactions. Her classmates were scoffing at Marinette's logic but Elle had a small smile on her face. Marinette had good instincts and Elle couldn't wait to see how Marinette would prove that their client was innocent.
“Right, Marinette seems to have a lead she would want to follow, what about you three? What's your take on this? If this was your case what would you want to know?” Elle asked. They didn't answer, how could they answer when they hadn't even looked at the case, they thought that they would just be watching the process not that they would be participating.
“Ms. Woods?” Marinette's timid voice startled them.
“Yes, Ms. Dupain-Cheng?”
“Just Marinette, please. Anyway if our client was going to kill his boyfriend why was there no history of violence? Something doesn't add up here. From cases I saw in France if one partner was going to kill the other, there were generally several warning signs. I mean it's possible they could have come home one day and snapped but from our client's statement, it was an amicable breakup with no hard feelings. Sure our client still loved the deceased but there is nothing that would indicate he could go into a murderous rage. In fact, if I look at his company log here our client was still at work when the crime happened. This company is infamous for having cameras everywhere because they have several high profile people that work with them, was any video footage pulled at any stage?”
“Good! That is the type of thinking one would need when taking this case. Did you notice anything else?”
Marinette frowned, there was something else but she just couldn't place it. It was only as she was sitting in court behind Elle that the thing that had been bugging her for weeks hit her. She waited for a recess before she said anything.
“Ms. Woods?” She started hesitantly.
“The shirt that was found that had the blood splatter on it was polyester, right? The type the new boyfriend wears.”
“Yes, the prosecution said it was left behind by our client. Why?”
“Well, I've noticed that our client only ever wears silk, linin, or cotton designer shirts. Never polyester, so why would he have been wearing a polyester shirt that day? Is it possible that our client is allergic to polyester?”
Elle looked at Marinette and smiled. “Why didn't I see that? They're not even the same size! Our client is at least 10 pounds heavier than the new boyfriend!”
Marinette nodded then added, “Even if he had been wearing the shirt, it would sit differently on him causing the blood splatter pattern to be different. I know he doesn't have an alibi that can be proven and that this is a long shot but can we please check?”
Elle agreed quickly and soon it was proven to have been impossible for their client to have done it. Something more caught Marinette's attention when the man, the new boyfriend, muttered something in French while still on the stand. The judge noticed Marinette's head shoot up with wide eyes and saw Marinette frantically write something down on her notepad and hand it to Elle.
“Councillor Woods, your student seems to have something to add would you let her do so?” The Judge asked. Elle nodded and brought Marinette forward. The judge looked at Marinette and motioned for Marinette to speak.
Marinette took a deep breath, “I'm sure you didn't mean for the mike to pick up what you just muttered in French but would you please repeat it so that the court can hear it?”
The man narrowed his eyes but repeated his sentence quite calmly, he was relaxed as he thought that no-one in the room could French. His confidence took a hit however when Marinette smiled.
“If it may please the court, what he just said translates to: 'This worked before, why did it fail this time?' I know you might not believe me but as everything is being recorded I beg of you to confirm my translation with other people who speak french.”
The judge looked at her thoughtfully, then spoke: “How do you understand French?”
Marinette was confused, “I thought my accent would have given that away, your honour. I am French. I grew up in Paris, France speaking French as one would expect.”
At her innocent statement, the witness exploded.
“Why the hell he even come home that day the ex was meant to fetching some stupid MDC brand clothes that my boyfriend insisted we give back. He wasn't even meant to be home!”
The court fell silent, then everyone started speaking all at once. The case got thrown out in much the same way Elle's first case had been and the other three students were stunned.
“How did you know?” They demanded, rounding on Marinette as soon as they entered the room that they had all been using. Even Elle was a little curious she had to admit.”
“What do you mean? If you talking about the allergy to polyester it was in one of the courses I took for my fashion degree that designers have to be careful to take textile allergies into account when designing.”
Elle looked at her. “I knew you studied fashion, but so did I before I attended Harvard and that wasn't in any of my classes.”
“I studied to be a fashion designer at ESMOD before I came here. I aim to be able to represent people in abusive relationships to help them get out of those situations. If I want to do that pro-bono I needed to have something else that I could do in order to support myself financially.” Her voice was innocent and honest but they could see the passion in her eyes as she spoke.
“Why that area?”
Marinette smiled again but this time it was a sad smile. “I grew up in Paris while a man called Hawkmoth was terrorising everyone to the point that people were locking away their feelings simply to stay safe. I saw several people get targetted simply because they were afraid of their partner for one reason or another. Sometimes they were able to get help to get out, but sometimes they weren't. Some of those that weren't couldn't get out because of not being able to afford a lawyer and I want to be able to help those that fall into that category.”
For the first time since they met her, her classmates were quiet. They had thought she was there to get the attention of a rich guy who would support her. Elle smiled at Marinette's reason for studying law too then a thought hit her.
“Wait, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, MDC, you're MDC aren't you?”
Marinette laughed and nodded before answering. “Yes, I am but I wanted to be treated like an equal so I didn't advertise that fact.”
Again her three classmates were stunned. This clumsy girl was a world-famous designer? How had they missed that?
Elle seemed to get a little more flustered with each moment that passed. “But that means... And you know...”
“Ms. Woods, are you alright?” Marinette said quietly. “I'm still the same person you thought I was a moment ago. I'm still clumsy and prone to having anxiety attacks if I'm not careful. I'm human just like everyone else.” Technically she wasn't 100% human anymore due to being a miraculous wielder but no-one needed to know that.
Eventually, Elle calmed down and thanked them for their help during the case. Their professors would be getting a copy of her reports on how they did as soon as she was finished them. She also promised that she would leave what she know knew about Marinette out of her report. She also wouldn't let that knowledge influence her report in any way.
Eventually, Marinette graduated from Harvard, however before going back to France to set up her practice she decided to visit her long term pen-pal in Achu. Ali had been delighted when she arrived and soon Marinette had changed her mind about where she would set up her practice, deciding to stay in Achu full time. Her practice soon flourished as did her design business. However, the thing that flourished most of all was her relationship with Ali. What had started as a friendship and continued when they had agreed to email each other had grown into love without either of them noticing it. They kept their growing relationship out of the news and when they had decided to get married they made sure that news was kept silent too.
It was on a rather warm Friday morning that Marinette got an email that she wasn't sure she wanted to answer. She had been invited to her 10-year school reunion. She spoke to Ali and they decided she would schedule a photoshoot in France that week and he would deal with several appointments there too and they would attend. She knew that she would be able to leave at any time so she wasn't too worried about that, however, she was 4 months pregnant, and she wanted to be careful.
The photoshoots went well and it was finally the day of the reunion. Marinette decided to wear one of her designs, a simple navy-blue jumpsuit with a mandarin collar, embroidered with a geometric design in shades of blue that made the suit shimmer beautifully as she walked. She paired it with kitten heels, glad that her pregnancy wasn't showing or affecting her balance in any way yet. Tikki had said that that was normal for all miraculous holders but Marinette still tended to err on the side of caution.
When she arrived she saw that it wasn't just her old class that was there, which she was happy about. She had instantly gone to talk to Marc as she didn't want to deal with Alya or any of the others. This strategy had worked until Lila spotted her and decided to make a big scene about her being there.
“I was invited Lila, I can pull up the email if you want me to and I can show you a printed copy if you still doubt me.” Marinette's voice was calm as she spoke.
“Why would we want you here?” Alya spat.
“She's allowed to go where ever she likes Alya, she's an adult.” Marinette turned to the sound of the male voice that had spoken.
“Adrian,” she said calmly, giving him a nod of greeting.
He was about to say more but Marinette's phone suddenly went off. She frowned then answered it appearing confused. She kept her conversation brief however in the time she was of the phone Lila had spun yet more lies about her.
“It looks like somethings never change,” she said with a sigh.
“What would a whore like you know?” Alya demanded.
“Firstly, my wife isn't a whore. Secondly, as a major name in the fashion industry you'd think you would know better as any time she is seen out and about her name ends up plastered all over the papers.” Marinette leaned back into Ali's arms as he spoke, having felt him come to stand behind her earlier.
“Ali,” she heard Rose gasp “But, Lila said...”
“I do not know any Lila.” Ali interrupted sternly. “I don't know what she told you but I'd never even heard of her before you emailed me full of stories about her. Stories that a simple google search would and did disprove. It is due to those that I cut contact with you and blocked any further attempts you made to contact me.”
Having said his bit, he looked down at Marinette who nodded. They ignored the shouting match that erupted behind them, opting to simply go back to their hotel room. Life would carry on either way and they knew they had a life with their growing family to look forward to.