Chapter 1: Unlikely Allies
Madame Mendelieve asked Marinette to stay after class, the teacher mostly ignoring the jeers of the girl's classmates and Lila Rossi loudly proclaiming that the teacher probably intended to scold the girl for whatever reason. She would have told the olive-eyed girl off, but Mendelieve was tired of the blue haired girl suffering.
What she was doing, for all intents and purposes, should be the job of the homeroom teacher, but Bustier was apparently neglecting her duties. Mademoiselle Dupain-Cheng," she began once the room was empty, "I have noticed what your classmates have been doing. I thought that, if left alone, they would grow bored of that Rossi girl's lies. My hypothesis was proven incorrect. I apologise for that. Your homeroom teacher should be the one to ask this, but…" the woman's words trailed off, Marinette getting to see her unflappable teacher seemingly nervous. "She seems to believe there nothing wrong with that vixen. That left me with no other choice. What are your thoughts on school transfers?"
Madame Mendelieve sent Marinette home early, almost forcing the girl out of the school. "I'll tell the others that you aren't feeling well, no one doubts my words about students. Better luck at your next school. Come find me if you need help. Don't come back for school, you have the flu."
"Madame Mendelieve? Thank-you." Marinette gave a small bow when her teacher looked before walking out of the room. Mendelieve hurumphed, she may seem cold, but she wanted the best for her students, and picked up the phone as soon as the girl left. There were several calls she needed to make.
Marinette was surprised to find her parents closing the bakery for the night when she got home. Her maman continued to usher people out with their food as her papa rushed to wrap her in his arms and pick her up. He quickly smuggled her in the back and up the stairs, Sabine following behind them seconds later.
"Maman? Papa? What's going on?" Marinette squeaked.
"We noticed you weren't quite yourself lately. We thought that things would work out, and then your teacher called. Darling, why didn't you tell us that your classmates turned against you?" Sabine softly began questioning her daughter.
"I-I thought that our friendships were stronger than all the lies. I thought that they would come to their senses…" Tears began rolling down their faces.
"Ma Cherie, have you been dealing with this all alone?" Tom's arms still.held tight around his daughter, his wife gingerly leaning against them.
"N-no. Nino and Chloe both know she's lying, but no one will listen to Chloe because of her past, and everyone just thinks that Nino has been friends with me for too long. Adrien knows Lila's a liar- he's the only one that has known from the beginning but… He asked me to leave her alone, said she wasn't hurting anyone. H-h-h-he he he said that i-it was ok-ay as lon-ng as we were i-in it t-t-t-t-t-t-together but he stood back and said nothing!" Marinette's stutter vanished as the anger rose, nothing being more of a shriek than a word.
"Then they will never again be allowed on this property." Sabine's voice was low, dark, dangerous . The family would have been afraid of an akuma if they weren't already solving the problem. "Chloe and Nino are the only two from that class allowed anywhere near here. Tom, we need to make a banned list. Mu zhí, have they bullied you anywhere besides the school? Do they follow you after school, contact you through the phone or online, anything?"
Marinette hesitated before Tikki tapped her side, reminding her that she had promised her science teacher that she would tell her parents everything when they discussed schools. "Lila has followed me after school a couple times, taunting me about her managing to turn almost everyone against me. Sometimes, when I'm at the park, some of my classmates show up, mainly Alya and Lila, sometimes Adrien. They scream at me, asking why I'm mean to Lila. There have been a few times someone has thrown something at me. That's usually Sabrina. Ivan looks disappointed while Mylène and Rose cry. I haven't seen much of Juleka, Alix, Max, Nathaniel, or Kim since everything started." An odd humming noise was coming from her maman while her papa's face grew dark. "I get text messages from almost all of them- except the seven that either avoid me or are on my side. Even Adrien sends me nasty messages, asking me why I won't keep my head down, but I'm trying. I'm trying so hard ." More tears rushed down her face.
"We need restraining orders. I'll make a list of the classmates that have hurt you. In fact, I'm calling Monsieur Agreste. I'm sure he'd love to help after learning how they're all treating you." Sabne checked her phone, the caller ID flashing with a picture of Nathalie. She quickly picked up. "Madame Sancouer-"
"Madame Cheng, this is Gabriel Agreste. I received a highly concerning phone call from one of my son's teachers. Might I ask that you and your family visit me tomorrow, around two in the afternoon? Nathalie has already cleared my afternoon schedule. I apologise that it cannot be earlier, however, I have very important meetings that must be kept in the morning."
"Oh! Of course, Monsieur Agreste. Thank you very much."
"Very well. I will send a car for you tomorrow afternoon. Good evening, Madame."
Sabine slowly lowered her phone. "That was Monsieur Agreste." Her voice was a near whisper. "He wants us to visit him tomorrow afternoon." She stared at them, still slightly in shock. "He himself called, not his assistant." Marinette's jaw dropped.
"Did he say what it was about?" Tom's eyebrows furrowed.
"Not really, he only mentioned a phone call from a teacher at François-DuPont."
Marinette expected sleep to be difficult to come by, though she was out nearly as soon as her head hit the pillows. She managed to send Nino a message, asking about the school his cousin went to for fine arts, drop a cookie on top of Tikki, and trip up the steps to her pillow.
Her dreams were quiet for the first time in over a month. Between Lila, her classmates, and Papillion's sudden decline in akumas, her dreams had been awash with nightmares of what was to come. But tonight, the gods seemed to be looking favorably on her, blessing her with happy dreams. She was sad that morning, unable to recall anything from the dream except four figures, arms outstretched, and a blooming joy inside her chest.
The bakery was closed for the day, not only for Marinette and her parents to be comfortable for a while, but for Jagged Stone and Penny to be able to support Marinette without rabid fans attacking them. Gabriel Agreste did say he wanted their family, after all (Marinette secretly thought that the main reason Penny and Uncle J came early was so that her parents had backup when they told her she wasn't returning to François-DuPont except to ask Madame Mendelieve for help with her applications). Jagged kept alternating between trying to bake, comfort Marinette, and beg Penny to blacklist all of Marinette's bullies from all of his future shows. Penny simply smiled at the manchild currently covered in flour as she made a note of names Sabine slipped to her throughout the day.
To Penny's relief, Marinette was a stress worker, and so they had several new outfits that Jagged could choose from to wear to the Agreste Manor, the rockstar deciding on an outfit that was… Interesting. The main color was black, as with most of Jagged's outfits, with large, shimmering swirls in silver and gold, the outline of a jagged building seen in the middle of the swirls. He loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that it made him think of the stars in his favorite niece's eyes, said niece turning bright red and stuttering every time.
Sabine drug Tom up to their room to change, leaving Penny and Jagged dealing with a panicking Marinette. Jagged eventually covered the girl's eyes and let Penny pick her clothes, the woman ignoring his calls for her to make sure it was rocking . Penny finally pulled out a black dress, a chensogam perhaps?, with flowers embroidered in an upward spiral around the dress, along the top, the bottom, and the bottom of both sleeves. They ushered the girl into the bathroom to change while they raided the jewelry box, picking out a few pieces that would accent the dress design without stealing all the attention. Marinette came out of the bathroom to be shoved in her computer chair, her hair put in a braided bun with a semi-traditional comb holding it up and a few simple necklaces around her neck. All the bluenette could do was blink at the two adopted family members, unsure what just happened.
"Perfectly rock-'n'-roll!" Jagged exclaimed, "Penny always knows what to do!"
Sabine tapped on the trapdoor. "The car's here," she called, heading down to drag her panicking husband out of their room.
The ride was almost silent, Marinette slightly surprised to see Adrien's bodyguard in the driver's seat. He gave her a small nod of acknowledgement which she quickly returned before he peeled off. Nathalie met them at the door, ushering them to the living room. Gabriel Agreste was standing in front of a window, turning around when Nathalie announced their presence.
"Greetings." He said, slightly eyeing Jagged Stone. He and the rockstar didn't get along for obvious reasons, though he was pleased to note the man's clothes were better than usual. The family uttered polite greetings, and Gabriel failed at ignoring Jagged's dig at his clothes. "My thanks to whoever got this man into less of an eyesore." He ground out. "I did not call you here to discuss this man's atrocious sense of fashion. I got a rather concerning phone call from a teacher at François-DuPont yesterday. Usually Nathalie would handle these calls, but the teacher was adimant to speak to me directly. Do you have any idea what they told me?" He watched Marinette flinch.
"Ah… Which teacher called you?" She asked, voice timid.
"One Madame Mendelieve."
"Um… I'm not sure?"
"Why do you find it necessary to transfer schools?"
Marinette's head bowed as Gabriel pinned icy eyes on her. "A girl joined our class a while back before leaving for a few months. She started lying to everyone as soon as she returned. I called her out on it, and she threatened me. I laughed it off, no way could she turn my friends against me. But then she did. I have two people that openly support me, Nino and Chloe. There are a few classmates that I haven't really seen or spoken to since everything started, but they were civil to me. I'm friends with a girl named Kagami who also supports me, though she doesn't attend François-DuPont. Everyone else won't leave me alone. Adrien knows that Lila's lying and asked me not to expose her. I agreed because she wasn't hurting anyone at the time, just senselessly lying. He said that it would be okay as long as we were in it together, but… I'm even getting nasty messages from him, demanding to know why I won't let her be. I haven't spoken to that girl in over a month, and he knows that. Madame Mendelieve kept me after class and apologized for not stepping in. Like me, she thought it would blow over. It didn't. So she suggested that I transfer, start somewhere new. Nino has a cousin in a good fine arts school that caters to prodigies in the arts and sports, I'm planning on trying to go there."
Gabriel's eyes were like frozen flames as he looked at her. "I shall assure you that Adrien will leave you alone from this moment forward. Shall you be returning to François-DuPont at any point, before or after your transfer?"
Marinette shook her head. "Not for classes. I'll only return there once or twice for Madame Mendelieve to sign my transfer papers and get my transcript."
"Good, we will look into restraining orders. I want a list of every classmate you used to have, along with a list of transgressions. You need a new phone and number, and then you need to block the numbers of your former classmates. That includes my son. Nino Lahiffe's cousin… that would be a boy named Allan, you will need recommendation letters for that school. Nathalie and I shall get those together for you. You will have a better chance if your whatever-Jagged-Stone is would write a couple as well."
Marinette's family looked at Gabriel with matching expressions of shock. "What?" He scoffed, "how can she become a designer if her school squashes her spirit?"
"I-you-you believe me?" The utter bafflement and hope on the young girl's face made Nathalie unable to look at her. If she had been anyone else… she would have been visited by Papillon or Mayura. Perhaps even both of them.
"Adrien has spoken about a new girl at school. I had Nathalie look into her, of course. Every time she transfers schools, a kid in her class commits suicide from being bullied. I did not realize my son was part of the problem, though you can rest assured he never will be one again."
Jagged had a peculiar look on his face as he stared at the fashion designer. "Do you stalk all your kid's friends?"
Gabriel looked scandalized. "I have not stalked any of his friends! I looked into the Nino boy because he came here calling himself my son's best bro. I looked into that Rossi girl because I had noticed Adrien acting oddly as of late. And I know Mademoiselle Dupain-Cheng through my design competitions."
Jagged looked unconvinced but let the subject drop. For now. The enemy of my enemy will help hide the bodies and all that jazz.
Gabriel waved his hand through the air in a truly elegant fashion. "Besides, I've been waiting on this moment for a while. I asked Adrien not long after-" "Monsieur, please just call me Marinette." "-Mademoiselle Marinette started winning my contests if she would be interested in going to a school that would better fit her needs. He said no. I should have asked you directly rather than rely on my idiot son." The man's eyes furrowed in annoyance. "Does he even realize how much you've assisted him in keeping to his dream of attending public school? Does he know how often you've challenged me so that he could do what he wants? Did you ever tell him that the scarf he's so proud of was made and gifted to him by you, not me?"
Marinette's family gaped as the usually composed man began pacing across the room. "I should pull him from that school he wanted so badly! No! I'll make him stay there! He'll have to go to the sister Lycee! He will never rid himself of that retched class! I'll make sure they all get stuck in the same class, permanently!" The man raged.
"Hey, Mari! Looks like I'm not the only one who's adopted you anymore!" Jagged chuckled. Penny and Nathalie almost simultaneously facepalmed.
Gabriel's pacing froze. "She is up for adoption? Nathalie, begin the paperwork! We can't put a restraining order on Adrien if we want her here, but we can make sure he stays away from her! We need to find her a suitable bodyguard as well! Adrien's cannot protect them both, especially since I don't want him near her."
"Ah, Monsieur." Nathalie interrupted. "I don't think Monsieur Stone ment it quite like that." She rushed to explain before her boss murdered Jagged, "Monsieur Stone didn't officially adopt Marinette, he just claims her as his niece even though there is no biological or legal relation."
"Sacre blu!" Gabriel cursed as the Dupain-Cheng-Stone-Rolling family took their leave.
"Have you found out the name of the school you want to transfer to?" Penny asked after they got back to the bakery.
Marinette checked her phone. "Ah, Academè de Heartstrings. I want to apply to a few more schools just in case I don't get accepted. But this one isn't too far away, it has a dorms system, though kids are allowed to go home when they want as long as a teacher is told if they won't be back that night, and its main focus is on art. There is a lesser known buisness side, though I guess that makes sense if an artist wants to manage themselves, and there's a small program for athletic prodigies." Marinette rambled.
"Heartstrings is an odd name for an academè." Tom commented.
"It's because most good art tugs on someone's emotions. But the school has really good reviews, and- oh my God. Gabriel Agreste went there when he was a student."
The family laughed as the blue-eyed girl began a rambling panic fest, not noticing the strange, child-like chuckle from the girl's purse. Some things never change.
I made a sketch for the dream and now have Tumblr.
Chapter 2: Shocking Revelations
Okay, before I get into the notes that pertain directly to the fic, I need to apologise. I meant to have this out over a week ago (try more like two weeks ago), but I got sucked down another rabbit hole. I know next to nothing about the DC verse, I grew up mostly with Marvel and have only just started expanding that to DC. But Damian Wayne/Marinette is adorable! So now I'm working on my Felinette and Daminette fics. I also apologise to all the people who have taken the time to comment. My phone is severely outdated, and so I no longer get notifications when someone comments. I just checked it and I have over twenty comments to reply to, so I'm just going to wait until I either have a laptop/computer, or a phone that actually has a service plan and doesn't disconnect from the internet every five seconds.
Ladybugs are known to have large colonies/families, so… yeah. There will be more people to adopt Marinette. (Master Fu may or may not tell people that she is his granddaughter.) I considered turning the whole class minus Chloe against Marinette, but I like Nino, Alix, and Nathaniel too much, Nino and Kim have known Marinette since they were toddlers (my headcannon), and I feel like Juleka can sense people's "songs" like Luka (or something to that effect) and Max runs calculations and absorbs too much knowledge to find Lila's lies plausible. So that group stays back to gather intel to take Lila out while Chloe and Nino are ostracized for openly supporting Marinette.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Marinette spent the next four days holed up in her room, working on her school applications. Madame Mendelieve stopped by the bakery twice to help the girl, bringing her transcript the second time, claiming that saying the girl had the flu would be implausible if she returned to the school with papers. The stiff woman was not expecting the bakers to wrap her in a strong hug and shove pastries in her hand, though she found herself unable to object, having skipped lunch to make sure she had plenty of time above the bakery.
Nino stopped by once the Dupain-Cheng's messaged him that the application frenzy was over, dragging Allan with him.
"Dudette!" The boy shouted as he burst through the trap door, "I brought a new friend!"
"Hm?" Marinette turned away from her sewing machine, greatful that she had just finished. "Hi, I'm Marinette," she shyly waved.
"Nice to meet you, Marinette, I'm Allan. This fool's cousin." Her giggle was a balm to Nino's heart. He hadn't heard her make a carefree sound of amusement in over a month. The sound relaxed something in him that he didn't even realize needed relaxing.
"Have you gotten your acceptance letter yet?" Nino pried.
"No, I just sent my application in yesterday."
"I still don't know why you had to fill all that out and write those essays when the school's getting letters from Gabriel Agreste, Jagged Stone, and Clara Nightingale."
"Wait, you're getting sponsored by Jagged Stone and Clara Nightingale? " Alan demanded. "What are you going for?"
"How do you know them? Those are two of the biggest names in the music industry!"
"Oh! Um, I met Jagged Stone while my class was doing a work study at the hotel he was staying at. I made him a pair of sunglasses that merged the USA with Paris. And some of my classmates drug me along with them to try for a spot in one of Clara Nightingale's videos as a dancer."
"You forgot to mention when Jagged adopted you after you designed one of his stage outfits and his alblum cover." Nino chipped in.
A blush extended over most of Marinette's face as she hissed, "Nino! Shut up!"
"Oh my God. Oh my God ." Alan seemed to be having a revelation. "You're MDC, the superstar designer."
"Excuse me, the what!? " Nino and Marinette burst out at the same time.
"There are talks from some of the best musicians in the industry about a girl who is known as MDC that designs for them. In fact, I remember a girl at school gushing about MDC having something presented with Gabriel Agreste at a fashion show."
Marinette's blush deepened. "It was just a hat." She muttered. "What do you go to Academè de Heartstrings for?" She tried to change the subject.
"I'm aiming to be a composer. I'll introduce you to my friends when you start. Allegra's a flutist, Felix plays piano and practices ballet, though he's really there for buisness, and Claude is an actor."
Marinette perked up. "You have ballet?"
"Yeah, a fan?"
Nino laughed. "Oh my god! I still can't believe you could do that!"
The sane two ignored Nino dying. "I actually used to practice ballet a lot. I mostly stopped when my school stopped offering it, I just practice by myself every now and then."
"You are amazing . I'm throwing you at the Ice Queen as soon as you start at Heartstrings."
"So… what else can you tell me about your friends?" Allan was confused by the bluenette's sudden hesitation and fear.
Nino gestured that he would explain later. "Allegra is wild and emotional. She's a very strong and vibrant person, and sometimes very strong and violent. Claude is loud and happy, he likes to act out small skits to make us laugh. Felix is the most reserved out of us, he's quiet and would rather be reading a book than almost anything else. He's very… proper, I guess you could say."
"They sound like great people." Marinette smiled.
"So… what are you working on?" Alan waved towards the sewing machine.
"Oh! I'm working on combining Jagged's sense of style with Monsieur Agreste's!"
Nino paled considerably. "Mari, no!"
"Mari, yes!" Came Marinette's sleep deprived cackle.
Adrien didn't know why his father wanted to call a meeting with him when he wanted nothing more than to turn into Chat Noir and check on Marinette. Mendelieve was known to be a tough teacher, and he wanted to know what she said to her- the girl hadn't been at school for days . Maybe she simply told the girl to leave Lila alone and Marinette was petty enough to pretend to be sick. Adrien mused as he followed Nathalie to his father's office.
"Still no luck, sir?" Nathalie questioned the man furiously typing on the computer.
Gabriel made a strangled sound. "No. There is no way for me to legally adopt her when her parents seem like the best people in Paris! This is absurd! Perhaps I should simply adopt one of her parents as a sibling. I need to see if that can be done."
"It will have to be put on hold, Adrien is here."
"Of course. Adrien, have a seat. Nathalie, you may stay, if you wish."
Adrien felt an odd shiver of forboding. "Father? What is this about?"
"Adrien, tell me, what do you think of your classmate, Lila Rossi?"
"Lila? She's a good person, just a little misguided. I could help her onto the right path if Marinette would stop antagonizing her."
"And what do you think of Mademoiselle Marinette?"
Adrien fought off the urge to flinch at the sudden chill, not even noticing his father's informal way of addressing the girl. "I used to think that she was a good person, our whole class called her our everyday Ladybug. But when Lila started attending the school, Marinette changed. She tried to tell Lila off for lying, and I asked her not to so that she didn't get akumatized again. She agreed, but she started bullying Lila, then she wouldn't come to anything Lila asked her to come to, and now she'll hardly speak to anyone in the class. Chloe and Nino hang out with her, but Chloe's a bully herself, and I think Nino can't let go of the past; he's known her since they were kids."
Gabriel took a deep breath. "The Rossi girl. You know she lies?"
"Of course." Adrien seemed surprised by the question.
"So you never thought she could be lying about inviting Marinette to things? Lying about Marinette bullying her?"
"Why would Lila lie about those things? That would make people hate Marinette."
"Oh yes, why would she lie about the girl that threatens her kingdom? Did you know that Mademoiselle Rossi has gone to several schools, and in every one of them, one of her classmates commits suicide due to bullying?"
"Well, no, but Marinette isn't getting bullied! We just want her to be friends with Lila! And even if she was, she'd never commit suicide!"
Gabriel let his strongest killing intent out. "What would you call a person's class screaming horrible things at her? Throwing things at her? Sending foul text messages? Trying to force her to accept someone who hurts her as a friend? Isolating her?" Gabriel's voice raised to a shout. "Did you notice her start wearing long sleeves? Did you notice the red marks on her arms? Did you know that she wouldn't have gotten akumatized because people who are suicidal have a solution to their problems? A permanent solution! One that even Papillon, Ladybug, and Chat Noir working together could not stop! Do you even realize what you have done?"
Adrien glared at his father. "Marinette should leave Lila alone, and Lila would stop! She promised me that she wouldn't expose her, and she apparently took that as permission to harass Lila!"
Gabriel glared down at his son. "You will never realize what you've done." He realized, disappointed." You will cut off all contact with Marinette Dupain-Cheng. You will not call her. You will not message her. You will not go to her family's bakery. You will not approach her if you see her on the street. You will walk the other direction if she comes to this manor. You have no buisness with her any longer."
"What if I see her at school? I can talk to her then. What if I get partnered with her on a project?"
" If you see her at school, you will continue to your next class. A teacher of yours made sure that Marinette was no longer in your class."
"What? She abandoned us?" Gabriel stared at the betrayed expression on his son's face, then shook his head.
"No, you abandoned her. You are dismissed." Adrien slowly stood and made his way out of his father's office.
"You cannot keep me from speaking to her at school, or in public, Father." The boy walked out of the room, never noticing the stack of restraining orders in his father's office, the one addressed to him on top.
"Watch me." Gabriel muttered. There might just be a few more akumas than usual target that class of students.
Marinette's acceptance letter was read with her entire family present. Her parents had called Jagged, though no one really knew how Gabriel had managed to find out. Her grandparents stood in the back, her grandfather nodding approvingly while her nona played with- Was that a hunting knife??!
When Marinette read out the words that she was accepted, she found herself pinned under four sets of sqeezing arms while Penny clapped, Grandperè nodded, and the other two smiled. Fang even gently pressed his teeth around her leg. When the ever growing family released the girl, Gabriel finally spoke up. "I have restraining orders for Adrien, Lila Rossi, Alya Cessaire, Mylène Harleprè, Ivan Bruel, Sabrina Raincompx, and Rose Lavaillant. I also have one for Caline Bustier. All they need is your signature, and none of them will be able to contact you any longer. I also have adoption papers-" the man was cut off by Tom and Jagged laughing, "-that will allow me to adopt Sabine as my sister. That will make Marinette my niece."
Jagged continued to cackle as Tom handed him ten bucks. "I told you that he had no sense of humor or restraint!"
Gabriel's eyebrow twitched. "I have already made it clear to Adrien that he is not to approach you, though he has become rebellious these past few weeks. I do not know if he will heed my warning. Once you sign the papers, my lawyers will contact their families. Adrien's restraining order commands him to a different area of my home when you are there, other than that, his is the same as the others. If any of them try to contact you, call the police, and then myself." He left the room for a second before coming back in with a potted plant. "I actually have a butterfly garden in my personal quarters. My wife started it when we first married, and I have maintained it. This is a flower from my garden. I hope it brings you the luck it has brought me."
Nathalie held a jewelry case out. "This was also from Monsieur Agreste, though he forgot about it." Marinette opened the case to find a silver peacock fan on a chain. They had contacted a metal worker that built a custom silver peacock fan with colors glazed over it, making it look similar to the brooch Nathalie wore as Mayura- just enough of a difference that the guardian, wherever he was, wouldn't confront Marinette. "Between me and you," Nathalie whispered, close enough so that Marinette could hear her, far enough so that Gabriel could not, "I think you remind him a bit of his wife. He often compared her to a peacock, just and regal. I think it would mean a lot to him if you kept the necklace rather than object about its expense."
"I-oh." Marinette said, realization dawning on her face. "He must miss her terribly. Monsieur Agreste?" Marinette called out, bringing the man's attention to her. "Would you help me put this on?" She held the chain up.
Gabriel blinked, shocked, but quickly agreed. "Will you keep your usual outfit when you start at Heartstrings, or will you change it?"
"I'm changing it. I have a few ideas, though I'm not positive on which outfit I'm using, yet."
While Marinette's family celebrated, Nino and Alan locked themselves in Nino's room, blaring music against the door so that no one could overhear them. Their family was okay, but Nino was afraid that Alya might drop by.
"So, what's so secret we couldn't talk about it until we were holed up in here?" Alan demanded. His cousin was never this secretive.
"A few months ago, a girl came to our school with amazing stories of things she had done and people she'd met. She claimed a lot of disabilities, partial deafness, a permanently sprained wrist, a bad ankle… the list goes on. Mari called her out on her lies. She's never liked liars, so I wasn't surprised. I didn't say anything because she wasn't hurting anyone, at first. Then she started targetting Mari. She was an akuma called Chameleon, who could take another's form by putting them to sleep with a kiss. I probably would have been fooled if her parents hadn't called me, panicking because Mari was asleep and wouldn't wake up. Lila posed as Mari for three days, and once Ladybug realized there was an akuma and cleansed her, only a few people accepted the fact that an akuma stole my friend's identity. Chloe and I confronted the class about the way they were treating her, but… Only a few of our classmates listened to us. The rest got pulled deeper into the lies, and started verbally and physically harassing her- including her best friend and crush. She went from having a class full of friends to being practically stranded. She was the class representative, and most of them had no problem demanding things of her and screaming at her if she didn't get it done, but she only had me and Chloe for help, and we suck at baking and sewing. Our science teacher was the one that asked Mari to transfer and helped with the paperwork."
"Wow, that's… I need to give their names to my friends. Once burned, twice shy, I guess." Alan sat there and thought about it. "Is her family taking legal actions?"
"I think Gabriel Agreste is doing something about restraining orders, but I'm pretty sure that's all they would let him do."
"Restraining orders are nothing but a paper that makes it easier to call the law if someone comes near you. I really will need to give them a list of names." Alan looked pained. "I'm not sure who's going to react the worst."
"Let the dudette tell them. I mean, she's going to want to make a few friends without them knowing what happened as soon as she meets them. Let her open up to them and see their reactions so that she knows they won't treat her like our class did."
"You've become surprisingly insightful and mature."
Nino resisted the urge to look at the turtle bracelet that had a permanent resting spot on his wrist. "Seeing a girl you've been friends with since preschool will do that to you. Especially when you're about to dump a girl you thought you were in love with."
Alan nodded in understanding. "So… Who do you think will have the best revenge plot?"
"Ah… merde, I don't know, either Felix or Gabriel. They both scare me."
Alan laughed, then the cousins celebrated as they got news of Marinette's acceptance.
Marinette came to Academè de Heartstrings that weekend to get settled in. Her family, including Nino and Chloe, helped her bring her belongings, and Allan met them at the gates to escort them to Marinette's dorm.
"I'm just going to go ahead and apologize for Allegra and Claude in advance. They were insistant on meeting you today and helping set up your room. Felix helped me to convince them to at least wait inside."
"Well, might as well get it over with." Chloe flicked her hair back and strolled to the doors. "After all, they can't be that b-ack!" She screeched as two figures were immediately upon her, hugging her and gushing about being best friends.
"Get off me!"
Alan wrenched the two off Chloe, "You guys are assaulting the wrong person." He informed them.
"I'm not sorry." Allegra pouted.
"Marinette! Fix the heathens!" Chloe shoved her friend at her assailants.
"She looks like a kitten!" Claude squealed, picking Marinette up and twirling her around. "I call dibs!"
"Claude, unhand her. Now." A frosty voice cut through Marinette's incoming panic attack, giving her the strength to push against the chest she was pressed against. "You do not call 'dibs' on humans."
"Besides," Allan chimed in, "if anyone gets dibs, it's Felix." He dodged behind Marinette's dad when Allegra whirled on him, fury burning in her eyes. "She used to practice ballet! She doesn't play an instrument or soccer! That leaves her with him!"
"Allan, stop talking. Allegra, stand down. We don't want to scare our new classmate away. Claude, don't touch her." He snatched his hands back behind his back with an innocent expression. "She is not a toy." Felix scolded his friends. "My apologies for the ruffians, please don't judge the rest of our school for their actions. Welcome to Academè de Heartstrings." Felix offered a small bow to the group, Claude and Allegra making faces behind his back. "Someone else needs to explain to those two that their faces will freeze like that one day." The two teens immediately stopped, molified by being caught.
"It's nice to meet you!" Marinette returned the bow. "Allan has told me great things about you guys!" Felix didn't comment on the forced smile, simply reaching down to grab one of the bags the girl had dropped when the blonde shoved her, surprised by its weight. He figured it was the heaviest bag, until he reached for another one.
"Follow us to your room. We will show you around the school once you are properly settled and unpacked."
"I heard that there's a ballet class here. Is there anything I need to do to join it?"
"It is an after school program, and so you simply need to talk to the teacher. Our school has a strict akuma rule, all students are to go to their individual doirms and stay there until after the attack. The principal made the rule because of the obvious ages of Paris's heroes, that way if one of them attended here, they don't have to risk their identity. Classes start late when there was a late night akuma."
"Wow! It sounds like the principal really supports hidden identities!" Marinette grinned, this one not forced. "I had a classmate that was obsessed with uncovering all the heroes' civilian selves. It's refreshing to be somewhere different."
Felix gave Marinette a small smile, ignoring his friends' shocked reactions. "I'm sure you'll love it here. It is quite an enjoyable school. There is an area dedicated to students that wish to cook their own meals, any ingredients that you may need that are not there can be sent to the school as a request. Students are expected to do their own laundry, as well as cleaning up after themselves."
Marinette nodded, taking in all the boy's words. "I get the feeling that Claude isn't allowed in the kitchen area."
"For obvious reasons." Felix confirmed. "Let the school know if you have any special needs or people not allowed near you. If anyone attempts to bully you, report them and they will be properly dealt with. If you don't want to tell a teacher, tell me, Claude, or Allegra. Don't tell Allan."
"Um, okay?" The girl obviously wanted to ask why, though she bit her tongue.
"This is where you'll stay. The classes are small, only a handful of students are in each class. The core classes are a bit larger than specialty classes, as the courses can mix and mingle in those courses."
"Okay. How accurate is the map the school gave me?"
"More accurate than most, though it can still befuddle new students. The trick is to know which floor is which." He reorganized the papers she had pulled out. "This one is a map of the entire grounds, helping you find the different buildings. The office usually gives you the maps in the order you would need them in to find your classes rather than numerical order." He swapped some of the maps around. "The first number of a class corresponds with the floor they are on."
Marinette nodded along as Felix explained the school set up, his friends chatting with her family- and annoying Chloe. Claude smirked at his friends. "I give it a month before they start dating."
Allegra eyed the couple. "Felix is awfully chatty with her. Two weeks."
Allan snorted. "I'm going to stay out of this one."
"What? No! You have to vote!" Claude grabbed his arm. "It goes against the bro code to refuse to vote!"
"It goes against the bro code to make bets on your cousin's sister."
"At least someone in this school has a little class."
"Nah. Nino just talks a lot." Chloe gave Nino and Allan a sharp look. Nino edged closer to the girl.
"Someone here needed to know the story so that they can keep the others from accidentally touching on it. I needed someone here that can keep an eye out for her. Besides, he promised not to bring it up or tell the others."
"Fine. But it's on you if she gets hurt." Chloe flicked her ponytail before storming closer to where Marinette stood. "Marinette, stop talking to your new boyfriend and tell Nino where you want your things."
Marinette instantly blushed. "Chloe, no! Felix, I'm so sorry about her." She began to ramble, only stopping when Nino threw a roll of fabric over her head.
Thanks to the brooch Miraculi, Gabriel and Nathalie can sense Marinette's depression and secretly looked at her wrists when she was called on for a visit. They didn't say anything to her family because the lines were fading, obviously a few days old, and the feelings were lessening.
The plant Gabriel gave her will produce butterflies that he has a special connection with, he cannot see what is happening, but he will be able to get a better read on Marinette's emotions when she is with the butterflies. The necklace was specially made by a metal smith that specializes in working with silver, the man actually embedded one of Mayura's feathers into the peacock fan shaped charm. As long as she wears the charm, they can keep a constant read on her emotions, and it will be easier to send a sentimonster to protect her- meaning the amuk gets there faster (they won't activate the feather in her necklace for fear of loosing it) and she doesn't have to agree. I thought about doing just a feather, but I changed my mind. Though the silver is mixed with a titanium alloy so that it will last longer, and help protect the girl if anything hit where the necklace was. (Think about Deadpool's arcade token.)
Hahaha... So... I've actually had this chapter almost done for a while now, but closed out of it because I had to do something and forgot I had been working on it until someone commented. I thought I had posted this already. Oops.
Life at Academè de Heartstrings was much different from Collège François-DuPont. Her identity was safer than ever thanks to the principal's rules. She had friends she could rely on. Her teachers made sure she understood the material. She was passing algebra , of all things. All of this, and she'd only been there for two weeks.
She thought back to her old school. When Chameleon went down, she has been asleep until she started sleep talking. It took three days for it to get to the point where her slumbering mind warned her of an akuma and she muttered her transformation phrase, waking up as Ladybug. Apparently Chameleon's magic only went as far as one persona, and while Marinette was in a magic induced coma, Ladybug was not. For a time, Marinette didn't blame her friends for being wary of her, her identity had been stolen by an akuma and treated them horribly for three days! But as time went on and over half the class continued to pull away from her and comfort Lila, she realized that she wasn't afforded the same courtesy she had shown her classmates over the years. She could often see some of her classmates that didn't interact with her very much snag things off of her desk in the mornings. She managed to get there early enough one morning to see what they grabbed before they could get it. She was horrified at the notes accusing her of working with Hawkmoth, of manipulating them into liking her, a very detailed way for her to commit suicide… She didn't show up early to school again after that.
Marinette continued to reminisce as she got ready for their free day. Her anxiety was getting worse. She hadn't told anyone at the Academè much about her old school, if anything, and lived with the fear of waiting for the other shoe to drop here as well. She was terrified that her new classmates would suddenly show their true colors and turn on her.
She was planning on visiting the bakery and introducing her new friends and her parents before having a picnic with her friends in the park.
Her new customary outfit was a far cry from what she used to wear. She couldn't bring herself to wear bright red pants like Gabriel, or leather pants like Jagged, but she did make a pair of black leggings with red detailing, a black tank top that matched the pants, and a black leather jacket a couple sizes too big with the inside lined in red silk. She constantly wore the peacock necklace, the design surprisingly matching her outfit as it was dark blue with pink, red, and green highlights. She opened the front side of the jacket, allowing Tikki to dart in and hide in one of her hidden pockets right before Allegra pounded on the door.
"Nette! We're all ready to go, come on! Pastries! Your parents! The park! Don't forget your sketchbook!"
Marinette laughed before opening the door. "Calm down, Allegra. Let me grab my bag." Marinette made her was into her room, grabbing the shoulder bag she exchanged her old purse for. It was large enough that her sketchbook, materials, emergency sewing kit, and Miracle Box could all fit. The Miracle Box was disguised as a watercolor art kit, the box itself responding to her will. "We have all day to get there, and the park's not going anywhere."
"Still! We all know that akumas are jerks! They won't let us have our afternoon of peace if we don't do it now!"
Marinette laughed as she opened her door, Allegra's hand raised in position to knock again. "Besides, if an akuma interupted today, we could reschedual for a day that Chloè could join us." She teased, the blonde girl blushing.
"Do not use my appreciation of the female species against me." Allegra tossed her head, sending her long ponytail swishing with faux haughtiness. "Classic case of I hate to see her leave but love to watch her walk away."
"Let's go, you utter delinquent." Marinette grabbed her friend's arm and drug her down the hall. "Where are the boys?"
"Already waiting for us by the front of the school." Allegra took advantage of her longer legs and started pulling Marinette down the hall.
Marinette's parents gushed over her friends, almost crushing them with hugs. Felix scowled when Tom mussed his hair, and Marinette prepared a few sandwiches to go with the pastries her parents made them.
She took them across the street to the park, the group basking in each other's company. Marinette was distracted and didn't notice one of her former classmates approaching her group. "Mari?" She turned at the sound of her name, paling when she saw Alya. "Girl! What are you doing?! You haven't been at school in almost a month! These people showed up and told me you filed a restraining order against me, and your still bullying Lila! And now your hanging out with new people? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Marinette stayed where she was, frozen, unable to speak. Alan quickly grabbed her arm. "Guys, we need to go." He warned. "We need to get Nette out if here, now." Felix stood up.
"You get Marinette back to school. We shall deal with the trash."
Alya glared at the boy. "Who are you calling trash? You think you're better than me, rich boy? I wasn't scared of Chloè, and I'm damn sure not scared of you. You're too stupid to even realize that she turned you into her lapdog."
Felix glared coldly at the girl, Claude and Allegra standing on either side of him. "I don't believe you know what you are talking about. Marinette has been at school every day, and she's not bullying anyone."
"Oh yeah? She's been bullying Lila over the phone! She showed me the messages!"
"She did? Did you write down the number the messages came from?"
"Of course not! It was Mari's number! I have it memorized!"
"Have you tried contacting the number?"
"Of course not! I already told you that I know her number!"
"Okay, call it."
"You say you know Marinette's number. Call. Her."
"Fine!" Alya pulled out her phone, watching Marinette walk away with the boy she had thought was Nino for a second. A male voice answered the phone, even though Marinette and the Nino look-alike didn't reach for a phone.
"Hi, I'm looking for my friend, Mari? Could you give her the phone?"
"Mari. I'm looking for my friend, Mari."
"Okay…? Mary Anne! There's a strange girl on the phone for you!"
Alya stood there, confused as sounds of the phone being passed sounded. "Hello? Who is this?"
"Hi, I think there's been a misunderstanding. This is my friend, Marinette's, number. I was trying to reach her."
"I'm sorry, my husband has had this number for three weeks now. Your friend must have changed her number."
"I- sorry, Madame." Alya lowered her phone. "This proves nothing!" The girl hissed, storming away.
"Don't forget the guidelines of your restraining order again!" Allegra called after her. "Because I don't wait on the cops when my friend is in danger!" She quickly messaged Chloè to meet them in the park.
It didn't take the mayor's daughter long to join them. "School literally just let out for lunch." The girl huffed when she saw the three Heartstrings.
"A Cajun girl showed up and verbally attacked Nette and openly admitted to having a restraining order against her. Swore up and down that Nette was her best friend." Claude explained, just barely keeping a hold on his emotions. "Alan grabbed Nette and got her out of here while we stopped the girl."
"Damn it! DC wanted to start over! I'm coming to your school after my school lets out, I'll meet you all in DC's dorm. I guess it's time for you to know why she left François-DuPont. Make sure DC doesn't get akumatized, she probably could actually beat Ladybug, as much as I hate to admit it. I've seen that girl kick an akuma in the balls before. Don't ask her any questions until Nino and I get there to ground her."
Felix nodded at her. "Any suggestions to keep her calm?"
"Avoid talk of old schools or former friends. Don't talk about any friends except our group. Get her motivated to design something, but don't ask her to design for you, even if you offer to pay. She's stuck in her head. Suggest a dress for the school dance she wants to go to, a plushie modeled after a hero or akuma, bring up having a slumber party, anything to get her out of her head before she dissociates. Her depression gets a lot worse after dissociation because she can't feel at that point."
"Fuck, why didn't we know this? What did your school do to her?"
"You didn't know because she didn't want you to know. She wanted full fresh start where people didn't know what happened at DuPont. Get her to her dorm, bring her yellow and black silk- fabric, not already made into something, and don't let anyone approach her. She usually likes to make something modeled after Bee Sting when this happens, though she may do something different. If you bring her fabrics for all the heroes, make sure to avoid Rena Rouge's colors. I don't know why, maybe it's because her power is illusion based, but she triggers her even more. Don't talk to her about Chat Noir, black fabrics are okay, but don't remind her of him. He sexually harrassed her a while back, and would continue to do so if she hadn't gotten so good at hiding during akuma attacks. Ladybug's relatively safe, though there are times she makes things worse because DC is scared of what will happen if she gets akumatized or Ladybug fails."
Felix nodded. "I'll get the silk." He said, walking towards the fabric store, leaving the others to head back on their own.
Felix was careful to avoid white and orange, but grabbing a cacophony of other colors in a variety of materials to take back. He arrived at the dorms not even a full fifteen minutes after the others, rushing to Marinette's dorm. Allan, Allegra, and Claude had been unsuccessful so far in bringing the bluenette back to herself. Felix quickly pulled the black and yellow silk out, praying he'd found the right shades for Bee Sting. He slid them into her hands before digging out the green cotton that was almost the exact shade of Carapace. That he laid around her like a cloak, making it seem like the fabric was sheilding her. Marinette let out a small gasp, a little light coming into her eyes as she moved towards her design area. They watched as she made a long sleeved dress with the yellow silk, adding small slashes of black, and lined the black silk with a black wool before turning it into tights. She took two shades of green to make a cloak, cutting hexagons out of the darker green with a knife before layering it over the lighter green, giving the fabric a turtle shell pattern before turning it into a cloak. Since Bee Sting's costume consisted of a darker yellow than Queen Bee's, it matched the green cloak surprisingly well. By the time Marinette finished the outfit, Chloè and Nino had been there for a good thirty minutes, watching the girl work.
Chloè grabbed Marinette's Bee Sting themed blanket, drawing it around her. "It's time to tell them. Do you want to, or do you want me and Nino to tell them?"
Marinette shuddered. "You do it. I-I can't. I can't talk about it." She drew the blanket tighter around herself.
"Okay. Go cuddle with Nino, or you can go hide with Pollen. Your choice." Marinette nodded, then went and curled into Nino's side.
"M'kay. Let's start this off by saying that I was Marinette's first bully, and targeted her for years. We were twelve before I even considered backing off. Then a new girl started a few months ago, and lied about everything. DC was the only person brave enough to call her out on it. Then Rossi stared spreading rumors about DC, claiming she was bullying her. Nino and I have been on DC's side from the beginning, and a few other classmates figured out she was a liar and have been recording everything she says. They want to completely destroy her for what she's done to DC. The rest of them had restraining orders filed against them for DC by Gabriel Agreste, with my mommy and daddy backing him. Gabriel even filed against his son. Our science teacher, Madame Mendeleiev, was the one that told DC to transfer, and she asked Nino where his cousin went. She wanted a fresh start. Allan was the only person here that knew her. School's literally made for artists. Seemed like a perfect fit, especially since DC panics every time there's an akuma."
Felix frowned, heavily. "Why does she panic so badly?"
"She's been forced to go on a date with one before. She was one of the survivors of Syren, but she survived by jumping out a second story window and swimming. She swam through a lot of bodies that day. Her grandmother was a witch that wanted to kill her because her friends organized a surprise party. DC has horrible luck with akumas. She's the only one of us that has never been akumatized, besides Adrien, but we don't talk about him, and not died during an attack either. The only one she's gotten hit by was Chameleon, and she fell asleep as soon as Rossi was akumatized. She remembers all but one of them. "
"I want a list," Allegra snarled, "of all your classmates and their transgressions, and I wanted it two weeks ago! "
"Calm down before you get akumatized. I'm not kidding when I say they seriously freak her out." Chloè scolded. "We want her to calm down, not regress."
Felix took a deep breath. "Who are the people allowed near her? And who are the simpletons that are to be disposed of?"
Chloè quickly brought up pictures on her phone, letting the group know everything she could about who they were and what they did. When she finally got to a picture of Alya, Claude identified her as the girl that verbally attacked Marinette. "That's Alya, Marinette's former best friend and Nino's ex. She was the first to fall into Rossi's web, posting interviews with Ladybug's "best friend" on her blog- despite Ladybug publicly announcing that she didn't know the girl beyond her lying about her and getting akumatized. She… She and Adrien are to be kept away from DC at all costs, even more so than Lila."
"Adrien. Agreste. Is one with a restraining order?" Felix's entire being was dark.
"He's my cousin."
Chapter 4: Dissociated
Many thanks to Ima_reader_not_a_writer for helping with some speedy inspiration for this chapter! You are the best, ma dude! (Or dudette! Just thought about how calling someone dude might insult them.) And Guest asked me how Chat Noir sexually harassed Marinette, so I tried to answer that in this chapter. My apologies for how long it took and how short it is, this was difficult to actually write XD
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Nathalie's heels clicked across the floor, the woman hurrying to Gabriel's office. She was exceedingly greatful that they had managed to decode enough of the Grimoire to be able to repair the peacock pin. "Sir, sorry to inturupt." She knocked on the door jamb.
Gabriel turned from where he stood by the window. "It's quite alright, Nathalie. What is the problem?"
"It's Marinette, sir. There has been a significant rise in her distress levels. I assume she is not at her dorm or the bakery since you yourself did not sense it."
Gabriel furrowed his brows. "No, I did not. I do believe her parents mentioned her going on a picnic today." He quickly strode over to Emilié's portrait and activated the elevator, Nathalie joining him on the way down. He immediately transformed and sent an akuma out to scope the situation. He watched through his butterfly's eyes as the Césaire girl was challenged by his nephew and the boy's friends as Marinette was led away. He quickly recalled the akuma. Marinette's friends were good at controlling their emotions and Sabine had told him just how badly the akumas scared the girl. And Césaire would target Marinette and her friends. He grumbled as the butterfly came back through the window.
"It was the Césaire girl. Emilié's sister's son was with them. No good akumas from that group, they stuck with Marinette, and Felix is far too good at controlling his emotions. Marinette has almost reached dissociation." He commented, sensing the girl's friends more than her herself.
Marinette was barely able to process the world around her, her body moving completely on instinct as her mind drowned in the past, not processing her friends leading her back to the school. Flashes of Chat Noir getting close, too close, to her as Marinette shortly before she transferred. Pressing her to return to François-DuPont, to give Adrien and her classmates another chance. Pressuring her, even before she left her former school, to agree to date him.
Apparently Ladybug had turned him down too many times, and he remembered the girl so similar to Ladybug during the Weredad incident. And so his focus didn't change, but it shifted. To the girl he didn't know wore a mask. To the girl that couldn't hide.
Marinette shuddered, too many close calls passing through her mind between being Ladybug and Marinette, not only with Chat's obsession, but with akumas as well. Her date with Nathaniel. Her great uncle trying to turn Chloè into soup. The Gamer, her teachers, her friends, her family… so many people so close to her…
She didn't hear Allegra, Claude, or Allan. She hardly noticed Felix until he slipped fabric into her hands. She ran more off of instinct and images at that point, scenes of Bee Sting comforting her while Carapace protected them. Where one or the other secreted her away from an attack she got caught up in before Chat Noir saw her. Where Carapace stood in front of her as a last line of defense while Bee Sting fought an akuma alone because Ladybug was unable to transform. She imagined the Bee Sting dress, holding her close and comforting her even as it protected her, and the Carapace cloak, hiding her away while shielding her.
She barely processed anything outside of her little zone until Chloè's hand touched her shoulder, Marinette instantly knowing who it was, forcing her to remember accidently "learning" her identity.
The girl's voice was gentle as she asked Marinette who she wanted to the the story, Marinette choking out her response before going to curl into Nino's side. Marinette allowed herself to zone out, knowing she couldn't get akumatized in a near-dissociative state. Images continued to flash, though these were more positive. Tikki helping her with the hat contest. Meeting Jagged Stone and becoming his designer. Her former classmates trying to protect her. Chloè asking her to help her learn how to be a better person. Nino making her a playlist. Getting accepted into Heartstrings. The letter she'd gotten the week before from Nathaniel, Alix, Kim, Max, and Juleka. Creating a fun group chat with the DuPont 7. She had just started to really come back when Felix mentioned Adrien being his cousin.
Her mind couldn't handle any more, the room going into a frenzy as her eyes rolled to the back of her head, her body collapsing.
Edit: Oops, forgot to include link to my brand new Discord! https://discord.gg/XS5rah please join me and help me make a chaos server. I like chaos.