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The Bravery of Adrien Agreste

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Sabine jumped at the sound of fireworks as she climbed the stairs to her daughter’s room. It wasn’t even fully dark, yet, but Paris was already celebrating. It was a cruel twist of fate, that the city was so happy, right now, because Sabine wasn’t sure she had ever been more scared in her life. Her children were admitted to the hospital hours ago, with mysterious brain injuries the doctors could not explain.

Earlier in the day, Ladybug and Chat Noir announced the defeat of Hawkmoth and Mayura. Soon after, Parisians took to the streets in celebration. Schools were released early and shops were closed. Impromptu concerts and parties started taking place all over the city. Citizens hugged and cried in joy as Hawkmoth’s reign of terror ended.

It was in one of these mass celebrations that Marinette and Adrien were found, wandering separately. They had no idea who Hawkmoth was, or why the city was celebrating. They didn’t remember the heroes that had kept this city safe for so many years. But most heartbreaking of all, they didn’t remember each other.

Sabine wiped away tears with the back of her hand. She needed to help her daughter remember in any way she could. Maybe something familiar? Now, where did she keep her diary?

She looked under fabric and folders on Marinette’s desk until, finally, she spotted the box she was looking for. It was some silly contraption her daughter came up with years ago to protect her diary. It had been months since Sabine had seen it last, but, thankfully, it was easy to find.

As she grabbed the box, she was surprised to find an envelope taped to the lid. Sabine curiously removed it to find some writing on the back. She blinked back confused tears and she stared at it, intensely.

Read if Adrien and I lose our memory.

Her hands were shaking as she pulled out a handwritten letter. How could Marinette have known this would happen?

Mom,

If you are reading this, then Adrien and I have lost our memories. I know it must be very scary for you and Dad, and I hate to put you through this. But please, take comfort. There is a very important reason.

You see, Adrien and I have a secret. We were Ladybug and Chat Noir.

Sabine gasped as she was filled with sinking dread. Could her daughter's fugue state be caused by a latent mental illness? She shook her head. But that wouldn’t explain Adrien. Sabine kept reading.

Your mind is probably confused, right now. You are probably thinking this letter is part of a fantasy or a very ill-timed joke. But please, keep reading. There is a very strong magic that veils our identities, it locks away certain memories, and doesn’t allow our minds to make connections that they should. This magic is designed to protect us and those we love. It has made it possible for our identities to remain hidden, even from you. It has made it possible for us to be Ladybug and Chat Noir. It’s the magic that is protecting us now. It’s protecting the secrets we knew.

The magic is strong, but it is not perfect. It can be broken.

I need you to be the guardian of our memories until the day it’s safe to give them back. Until a time when people stop looking for Chat Noir and Ladybug. And if that day never comes, don’t grieve for us. We knew this day would come, we face it with eyes wide open.

Neither Adrien nor I have regrets. We lived every day to the fullest, without ever holding back. We knew the value of every moment and how precious our time together was. Nothing lasts forever and loss is a part of life. Once you accept that, every day becomes a treasure; every day becomes a gift.

Without our memories, it will probably be a scary time for Adrien and me. But, I know you and Dad will be there to help us through it. Resist the temptation to give this box back, not until it’s safe.  It is by design that Guardians lose their memories. Not only to protect ourselves but to protect the identities of Miraculous Wielders and allies.  Please, help us protect those who bravely fought beside us. Keep this box hidden, keep it safe.

Sabine shook her head. What a cruel joke at a time like this.

Frowning, Sabine set down the letter and looked at the box. If she remembered correctly, there was some sort of trick to opening it. But to her surprise, she found it unlocked. 

As she lifted the lid, photographs tumbled out onto the floor. Sabine blinked in confusion at the images in front of her. These must have been photoshopped, or perhaps done with green screen? There was photograph upon photograph of Marinette and Adrien in places they could not have been, many on top of Parisian monuments that did not allow tourists. There were also selfies of her daughter in some mildly suggestive positions with Chat Noir. Sabine felt anger rise in her chest when she saw similar photos of her son-in-law with Ladybug.

But some of the photos were just of the two Parisian heroes. These seemed far more intimate than any other photos she had ever seen of the pair. They looked… so incredibly in love, so incredibly happy.

Sabine picked up the letter again, and read it over and over. With each pass, the sinking sensation in her stomach grew. When she finally looked back over to the pile of photos, she understood. And she saw them, truly saw them. The heroes of Paris were suddenly just her children in costumes.

She hugged the letter to her chest, and let her tears fall.

 

__

The next morning, Sabine walked down the hospital hallway. She felt exhausted. She and Tom had been up almost all night. Of course, when Sabine first tried to explain that Ladybug and Chat Noir were really Marinette and Adrien, Tom thought she was crazy. It was fascinating to watch his mind gradually break the magic down. They spent the next few hours looking through the box of photos. At the bottom of the box, they found a handwritten notebook giving first-hand accounts of all the Akuma battles. Sometimes the handwriting was Marinette’s, at other places it was Adrien’s. Tom and Sabine took turns reading the entries aloud until the sun came up.

Lost in her own thoughts, Sabine almost walked right past Gabriel sitting alone in a small waiting area. It wasn’t really her fault, though. He didn’t look like himself. This formerly imposing figure looked like he had become an old man overnight. He slouched in his seat with his head down. Sabine approached him cautiously.

“My son doesn’t know me.” He spoke bitterly, never looking up.

Sabine stared at Gabriel in confusion. That… that didn’t make sense. According to the letter, only Miraculous wielders and allies should be forgotten. Sabine was positive Marinette wouldn’t have given her father-in-law a Miraculous, even in the most dire of circumstances. A sobering realization washed over Sabine.

“You’re Hawkmoth.” She stated it bluntly. It wasn’t a question.

Gabriel continued staring at the floor. For a moment, Sabine wasn’t sure he had heard her.

“Yes,” he finally answered without emotion, not meeting her gaze. “I was.”

“You should be in prison,” Sabine said without thinking. Her mind was still reeling. Could this shrunken man have been the mastermind behind years of terror?

“My son doesn’t remember me,” Gabriel answered stiffly. “I can’t imagine any prison or hell worse than that.”

“Your son doesn’t remember the love of his life!” Sabine clenched her fists. “My heart is breaking for them and you only think about yourself. You’re not the victim here!”

Gabriel was silent for a moment. “How… how do I fix this?” His voice was so quiet, Sabine barely heard him ask.

“How do you fix this? You can’t. For years you took advantage of people at their lowest. Millions of people in this city lived in fear of their own emotions. People had to watch their friends and loved ones being killed in front of them. Or… or turned into slaves or anything else your twisted mind came up with. I don’t know why Ladybug and Chat Noir didn’t take you to the police. Perhaps their young hearts are still so full of optimism and compassion.”

Sabine stared him down harshly, trying to quell the rage growing in her.

“But my heart isn’t young. And I will never understand your actions, I will never try. I don’t know what motivates one to act so cruelly against others. Especially to…” Sabine felt her voice breaking. “Especially to your own child.”

Sabine bit her tongue. It was still very possible that Gabriel didn’t know Adrien had been Chat Noir. 

“I don’t know anything about magic, or superpowers,” Sabine continued. “But, I know what it means to be a parent. And what a privilege it is to raise a child.”

Gabriel didn’t react to her words.

Sabine blinked the tears away from her eyes; she didn’t want this man to see her cry. “These past years, I have grown to love Adrien as if he were my own. Your son doesn’t remember you. He doesn’t remember the neglect, isolation, and exploitation. That’s a kindness you don’t deserve.”

“I have to do something!” Gabriel practically yelled at her. The air was thick and tense for a few moments. Then a helpless look crept into Gabriel’s eyes. Sabine had never seen him look so desperate, before. “Please,” he whispered. “Tell me what to do.”

Sabine's body shook as she tried to talk deep calming breaths. Putting her own feelings aside, she tried to think of what Adrien would want.

 “We can’t change the past. But we do get to choose the person we are today. Devote yourself, time and fortune, to those at their lowest. Even those that don’t deserve it. No, especially those that don’t deserve it. Because you do not deserve the second chance you’ve been given. The charity for the homeless your son set up would be a good place to start. Rebuild yourself into someone your son will be proud to know.”

Gabriel was still for a moment, then he slowly nodded.

“Are you going to tell him? Who I was?” Gabriel looked down at his hands. “How I was?”

“No.” Sabine could see the tension leave his shoulders. “He doesn’t need to carry that.”

Sabine turned to leave, then she heard him call to her.

“Please,” Gabriel’s voice cracked as he looked up into her eyes, his normally stoic eyes wet with tears. “Take care of him.”

Sabine nodded and walked past him without saying goodbye. Her heart was still thumping wildly at the confrontation. She took deep breaths trying to steady her resolve. Sabine had to be the strong one, now, for her children’s sake.

Her steps grew heavy as she approached her daughter’s hospital room. How was she supposed to look at her Marinette the same way, again? Sabine had always been proud of her daughter, but now she was in awe of her.

When Sabine entered the room, Marinette was sitting up on her bed staring at a bridal magazine. Sabine immediately recognized the issue. It was a special edition, just for Adrien and Marinette’s special day.  A few months after their courthouse ceremony, Marinette and Adrien had a large wedding with all their friends. Well, not just their friends, all of Paris wanted to celebrate with them. Sabine smiled at the memory. They were both so radiantly happy that day. Marinette had designed a beautiful blush gown, and Adrien had looked so handsome in his suit. There wasn’t a dry eye in the packed cathedral as Marinette and Adrien exchanged their hand-written vows.

What would Paris say if they knew they were also celebrating their heroes’ wedding? Well, Sabine mused, it might explain their sudden dance skills. Everyone watched in amazement that night as Marinette and Adrien effortlessly glided over the dance floor, their bodies in perfect sync with each other.

Sabine walked over to her daughter’s bed and sat beside her. Marinette continued to stare at her magazine.

“One of the nurses had it in her locker. I remember designing the gown, but I don’t remember wearing it.” Marinette looked up at her with a sad confusion on her face. “What did he ever see in me?”

Sabine tried to swallow the lump in her throat. How could this wonderful girl ever doubt herself? Sabine gently stroked the hair away from Marinette’s eyes.

“Your amazing heart, kindness, and courage. The same things you saw in him. He’s lived with us for almost two years, and I’m not sure I have ever seen two people happier.”

“We were happy?” Marinette asked innocently.

Sabine nodded. “That’s not to say you never argued. Because you did. Both of you could have some pretty strong opinions, sometimes. And both of you were stubborn in your own way.”

Marinette looked down at her magazine. With her fingertip, she slowly traced the outline of the smiling figures. “How am I supposed to be a wife?”

“Don’t try to be his wife, sweetheart. You can’t make someone love you. For now, just try to get to know him. Become his friend first, then see what happens.”

“A friend?” Marinette cocked an eyebrow. “Then what? We’ll be two friends that happen to be married?”

“The friendship between you two was every bit as strong as the romance.” Sabine reached over and squeezed her daughter’s hand. “And every bit as important.”

Marinette turned back to her magazine. Sabine watched her stare at it, analyzing it with her eyes as if she was trying to figure out its secrets. It broke Sabine’s heart to watch; her daughter was always very good at puzzles. Now, there was a strong magic in place preventing her mind from remembering, preventing her from figuring it out.

Sabine cleared her throat. “Mrs. Beaumont has been subletting her apartment for the summer. Your father and I have talked about it, and we think we are going to rent it. Adrien and your father will stay there for a while.”

“You’re making Dad move out?”

Sabine shook her head. “It was his idea. You and Adrien need time to get reacquainted. Sharing a room right now might be a bit awkward.”

Marinette blushed at her words. “And then what?”

“Well, that’s up to you and Adrien. Maybe, you want to study abroad or take some time off. Do something for yourself.” Sabine smiled gently.

“What does Adrien want?”

“I don’t know, dear.” Sabine shrugged. “We can ask him at breakfast.”

“Breakfast?” Marinette paled.

“Your father and Adrien will be meeting us in the cafeteria in five minutes. We brought some of your favorites from the bakery.”

“I’m not ready, Mom. I haven’t washed my hair! I… I don’t have my lucky socks. Did you bring my makeup? I can’t meet him, now!” Marinette whined. “I’m just in my bathrobe.”

Sabine smiled. Some things never change.

“You may not remember Adrien, but I know him. Those things don’t matter to him.”

Marinette chewed on her lip. “I’m… I’m scared, Mom.”

“That’s okay, dear.” Sabine gently stroked the hair away from her daughter’s eyes. “I can’t imagine how frightening it must be for you and Adrien, right now. But your father and I are here for you, both of you. It’s okay to lean on us for a while. It’s okay to have help.”

Marinette set the magazine down on her nightstand. Sabine watched as she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and slapped her cheeks. “Okay, Mom! I’m ready. Let’s go meet my husband.”

Sabine held her daughter’s arm as they walked toward the cafeteria. She could tell her daughter was nervous, but Marinette continued on at a steady pace. Well, steady until she abruptly stopped. Sabine heard her daughter exhale rapidly as she looked up to see Tom standing with Adrien.

Marinette pulled away from her grip and slowly drifted forward. At the same time, Adrien walked toward her with a look of pure astonishment on his face. The teens walked toward each other as if in a trance before stopping right in front of the other.

For several moments, neither of them spoke. They gazed at each other with dumbfounded looks in their eyes.  Sabine blinked back tears at the unfairness of it all. These kids loved each other so much. They had been through so much together. And now… they had to start over.

Marinette closed her eyes, breaking the gaze, and softly shook her head. Sabine recognized the action as her trying to gather her thoughts. Marinette abruptly reached her hand forward, offering it to Adrien.

“Hi! I… I’m… uh,” she stammered. “I’m Marinette.”

Adrien slowly brought his hand forward to grip hers.

“I’m Adrien. Nice to… meet you?” He gave a nervous chuckle.

Neither of them spoke again, choosing to stare at their joined hands. After several moments, Sabine watched Adrien smile tenderly before lifting Marinette’s hand to his lips. While looking into Marinette’s eyes, he slowly placed a soft kiss on her knuckles.

Marinette’s lips parted as she continued to stare at him. Adrien continued to look into her eyes as he slowly lowered her hand.

Then, suddenly, Marinette burst into giggles. Adrien smiled back at her as he nervously scratched his neck with his free hand.

“Too much?” he asked earnestly. 

“No, no, no. Well, maybe a little… a little old fashioned, perhaps.” Marinette playfully winked at him. “I thought you were going to call me ‘My Lady’ for a second.”

Adrien wrinkled up his face for a moment before his gaze fell down to the hand he was still holding. Sabine watched as he continued to hold her daughter’s hand, his thumb gently stroking her knuckles.

“I don’t remember you…” he admitted softly. “But, I feel… I feel drawn to you. I feel I know you.”

Marinette repositioned her hand in his, gently intertwining their fingers. “I feel it, too.”

Sabine felt Tom’s strong arms embrace her from behind. He kissed the top of her head as they watched the teens exchange shy smiles. Sabine sighed softly, enjoying her husband's warmth.

“I think they’re going to be okay.”