Chapter 1: This is Hannah
This is Hannah
That morning, on the first day of the beginning of the new school year, Hannah stood before the stairs leading to the main gates of her new school. She knew she was almost late for her first class. She took her brothers to their school that morning and ran over to her school after that. She inhaled deeply and entered. She went straight to the principal Damocles. She already met him once, last week when she got her books. The man was funny, but she seldom understood what he was saying.
She clutched her phone. It was old, used one, given to her by some charity. But it supported various translation tools and that was all that she wanted from a phone.
“You will join Ms Bustier’s class.” Hannah understood from principal Damocles as they walked along a corridor. The man knocked on the door.
“Hannah Prc is here.” Principal Damocles announced her as they both entered the classroom. The man bravely tried and failed to pronounce her family name. Even her first name was too difficult as the French never pronounced the ‘h’ in the beginning.
The teacher there, very nice red haired woman in a nice light blue suit was interrupted while she was taking attendance.
“Welcome, Hannah!” The teacher greeted with a wide smile and gentle voice. She knew better than to try and pronounce names that consisted of no vowels.
“Welcome Hannah” The rest of the class greeted. It sounded more like Anna to her, but she accepted it.
The teacher introduced her briefly, only as a transfer student, Hannah was grateful that her legal status was not discussed. Then everyone said their names in a roll call. There was no way for her to memorize all of them.
Chloe in the first row said she was the mayor’s daughter. The girl next to her was Sabrina. She struggled to remember the other names.
The teacher offered her to find a place to sit. There was a place in the third row, next to a large boy named Ivan. She smiled to all the students and climbed to the spot.
“Is it free?” She asked. She was proud she could speak at least so much French. The boy nodded, but was rather surprised she asked for that spot. She took the empty space and took out a notebook. It was the same notebook she got from a charity and used to train her French, she made a list of phrases there and different useful notes. It was light blue with a huge logo of the charity on the front page. She got her books for the school a week ago and she tried to read (and translate) at least the first lesson. It was easy for any of the sciences. She just had to learn the French terminology used in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, it was not much different from her own language or English that she preferred as her foreign language, and she already knew much of those. Even geography was easy.
But history was much harder. She examined the French grammar and tried desperately to memorize the rules. She spent hours reading out loud the one literature book she had, and it was a children’s book, nothing suitable for a class she just joined. She could read books in the community centre, but not borrow them home, and she could not read out loud there.
The teacher was talking and talking and talking. Hannah tried to understand. But French spoke differently, as if they ignored individual words, they always pronounced them as groups. It was hard to follow. Hannah kept the book opened on the first lesson and hoped to be able to follow. But there was no recognition.
She drew a map of the classroom and wrote down the names of different students, as much as she could remember. The boy next to her was named Ivan. The girl in front of her was Marinette. She could see that on the cover of her notebook. The girl in front of Ivan was Alya. She spied most of the names and verified her little chart.
Finally, the teacher asked the students to open their books and she began to teach. But she was talking and talking and the students were taking notes. Hannah tried to take notes. When teacher spoke slowly, she was able to catch the words phonetically, but without the right spelling. Well she knew she needed a temporary notebook and a real one where she would copy everything once she went home.
The place she called home was a different issue.
Marinette was running to the school that morning. The first day of school year. The summer break was gone. She spent her holidays between the bakery, her designs, Liberty and the Kitty Section, and Luka. She wanted to move on from Adrien, she didn’t. She tried. Adrien was with Kagami now, although she knew the girl was in Japan for the holidays. She did not look for the boy, but his face was everywhere. And the lonely boy joined for any activity that his classmates had during the summer. So Marinette did not forget about her crush, if anything, it got worse, because she cared about the boy and she could see he was hurting and lonely and craved company. Chloe spent her holidays with her mother in New York as well as some other fancy places. Lila was absent during the summer. Marinette did not care where she was.
The akuma attacks did not stop during the summer, if anything, there was more of them, as if Hawk Moth had holidays and more time to engage new akuma in his repertoire. There were various tourists who could be distressed for various reasons and become akumatized, but they were also not aware of the dangers of the akuma. There was heat, there were storms, the natural ones, not the Stormy Weather type, and there was traffic, busy summer indeed. Chat wanted patrols so she let him, she knew he sometimes jumped around the city alone in evenings.
The raven haired girl barely entered the classroom when the bell rang. She greeted the teacher and her classmates with a smile and ran over to her place and Ms Bustier just started to take attendance when principal Damocles entered the classroom and introduced a new girl. This new girl, Hannah, was shorter than Alix, with open brown eyes and long brown hair tied up in a messy pony tail. She was dressed in jeans, white sneakers, an unbuttoned shirt in red and white and a black t-shirt with some old band doodle on it.
Hannah’s brown eyes scanned the teachers and all the students one by one. She looked Marinette straight in the eyes. There was something in her eyes, as if the girl was forty and not fourteen or fifteen as the rest of the class. But her smile was more fitting to a young child, not a teenager. The class introduced themselves. The girl simply nodded in response and smiled with an occasional merci. When she was offered to find a place to sit, she climbed up with a smile and bravely asked Ivan if the seat was free. Marinette noticed Lila glared at the new girl briefly while she was taking the place behind Marinette.
Marinette wondered what kind of a girl was Hannah. The rest of the class could not hide their interest in the new girl, but right now they had to be silent because Ms Bustier started her review of the history lessons. Was this girl an attention seeker, just like Lila? The girl did not look that way, she did not ask for attention even when she was standing before the class. She was giving attention, to each student as they introduced themselves.
Alya gave Marinette and the new girl a studying look and Marinette noticed that. Well, Alya often criticised her best friend about not being open to the new students, (all things considered, her treatment of Adrien and her reaction to Lila’s lies, but Alya forgot she was a new student too) perhaps she could just demonstrate that that was not true with this new girl.
Adrien felt as if this summer lasted forever. There was no school. But that did not mean that his father did not fill up his schedule with Chinese, piano and modelling. In fact he had so many photo shoots that he spent more time under the artificial light of a studio than in the actual sun outside. Even when he had a photo shoot outside, it was usually in the early morning, the photos were taken during sunrise and he was back in the Agreste mansion for breakfast. Not that he saw his father at any meal, or most of them.
He still had fencing lessons, but private, with only a handful of his usual opponents. And Kagami was not there. He missed her at fencing. He missed her company. But he remembered rather vividly how he was relieved when she told him she would be away for a month. Because she wanted a relationship. And he was not sure what he wanted. Well, first and foremost, he knew who he wanted. He wanted Ladybug.
He enjoyed the akuma fights so much he felt guilty for it. Because then he saw his lady. They would exchange banter and a few words here and there. He tried to engage them in patrols and she reluctantly agreed, but only once per week. And even those were often interrupted by an akuma or even some other emergency. So he patrolled on his own, some nights he would pass by Marinette’s rooftop terrace and a few times that he spotted her there alone, he would drop by. His classmate was somewhat melancholic at times and Adrien wondered why, but she never let him know the reason.
The boy managed to get some free time to spend time with his friends, on Liberty with the Kitty Section, in the park or elsewhere. Marinette and Nino regularly sent him the information on when and where was the next meet up. And he did his best to be there. But there were gatherings where he was not allowed to participate, late evening gatherings in the park when the heat subsided were out of the question because he had a photo shoot at dawn, sleepover parties and gaming marathons organised by Nino, Max and Kim were dismissed by Nathalie instantly. Some evenings he was so lonely he resorted to exchanging messages with Chloe. He was never so desperate to reply to anything Lila wrote, he seldom bothered to read that.
Adrien was looking forward to the first day of school and to resume at least that activity. Kagami was expected to return during the week. He was definitely happy she was coming back. But he was not sure why. He liked the girl, he was certain of that, but he also liked Marinette, so he knew he liked both of them as friends. He loved Ladybug, he knew he did. Sometimes, he had a feeling she reciprocated his feeling, there was that glimmer in her eyes, there was that smile, but then her expression would change and she would mutter something in the spirit of ‘We can’t be together Chaton.’ Her voice was almost sad and she did not mention another boy nor told him she did not love him. So, until he knew why they can’t be together (because we are superheroes was a lame excuse and they both knew it) the boy did not want to give up and move on, he just couldn’t, it was too hard, because there was that option that he was breaking two hearts not just one.
When principal Damocles brought a new girl to the class, Adrien smiled widely. The girl, Hannah, looked happy and excited. Her warm brown eyes pierced straight through him, but he could also see so much in there, she was like an open book, but written in a language and logic he could not comprehend on such a short notice. Well, he was homeschooled, he did not expect to know everything about the girl from just one minute of exchanging names with the class.
The rest of the class was mostly excited about having a new classmate. A new person in their classroom. How did she get there? What was her story? Kim instantly commented on her short height and teased Alix who shot something back. Nathaniel was already sketching her, just like he did with most of his classmates and teachers, and practically anybody. Chloe pretended to be indifferent (perhaps she actually was).
Lila was not happy. She just spent the time before school telling fairy tales about how she spent her holidays only for this tiny girl to grab their attention just because she was new? Oh no, she was going to get their attention, she had a story to tell for each break they had, she was going to get that new girl’s attention, Hannah was about to become one of her devoted servants just like anybody else.
Chapter 2: What is Your Name?
Little more about Hannah and her first conversation with Marinette and Adrien during the first short break.
Here we go with the second one already :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
What is your name?
Hannah was excited. It was the beginning of a new school year. She was going to start school, new school, actual school after years of intermittent education, most of the things she learned, she learned by herself, her and the book, alone, no teacher in between. She even taught her two younger brothers, not that they were much younger, all three of them born in the span of three years. But it was hard to be a teacher to her own brothers. On the other hand, the task made her focused on her own education, not any of the other problems she had, and she had a lot.
The last time she went to more or less regular school was years ago. But even that was improvised in a damaged building with ad hoc teachers who sometimes appeared and sometimes not. A war broke out in her country few years ago. There was no school, no classes to go to. The teachers tried and mostly failed to teach in the sanctuaries. But the teachers escaped, or stopped coming, for one reason or another, one by one. So she learned from the books, at least she had books. Learning was something to put her mind away from the bombings, from the imminent danger. From hunger. From absence of any sanitation. She was reading anything, literature, science, any book was good, save religion, she was not reading that. She had enough of that.
Her parents were medical doctors, they used to work in a local hospital, then they worked in a rubble of a local hospital, then they worked in various basements that were converted into hospitals. Sometimes she helped, she measured temperature, she cleaned up the work space, then she cleaned up the wounds. She always knew where her parents were, they always told her. Her only, not her brothers, it was her job to know. Because they might not come back. Because they could have got hit at any day.
Hannah was expelled from her town when the other side finally won that tiny peace of territory. Her parents, her brothers and her. She was not yet a teenager and dressed in boy’s clothes and hid her long hair under a cap, she put some dirt over her face. Because everyone knew how the girls were treated by the conquering armies. She was short, maybe even stunted growth, she was wearing boy’s clothes most of her life and she assumed the manners of her brothers easily.
They were distributed and redistributed for months until she reached Paris. The fact that her parents had medical degrees helped a lot, the fact that none of the kids spoke French was rather quickly discarded. Her father was quick to learn, so he got a medical job in a hospital in Paris. It was temporary until he could apply for an exam so his career as a surgeon could continue. And he needed money to take that exam. The same was valid for her mother, save she actually volunteered to get the experience and perhaps a job after the exam.
Hannah and her two brothers took exams that were required before they could enter school. They excelled science, their scores and the level of knowledge far exceeded what was expected from the students their age. Her level of English was considered excellent. History and literature were satisfactory. She failed French language entry level for high school. But, against all odds, she was allowed to attend College Francois Dupont with students one to two years older than her. Her brothers were in elementary school in appropriate grades.
The first school period for Hannah was a blur. The teacher was speaking, she recognized individual words and sometimes parts of sentences. She understood the teacher was explaining the school rules before she resumed teaching, or actually, repeating briefly the history that was taught the year before. Hannah regretted she could not understand, that would have been an excellent opportunity for her. She recorded the sound on her phone with an intention to listen to it again in the evening. Other classmates would glance her way during the period, she smiled back and concentrated on the teacher. She hoped they would not all jump onto her with questions. She exercised her speech for the principal and planned to use the same to introduce herself to her classmates.
The first break was interesting. The teacher announced they are having a break and simply went to fetch some materials before they continue with history for the next school period. The class started chatting. The brown haired girl in the back row started to tell some story and everyone listened in awe. Hannah ignored it as she could not really understand what was it about. Everyone else gathered around to listen. Well everyone save the girl just in front of her and the blonde boy in the first row. The girl in front of her stood up and turned around.
“Hi, I am the student’s representative. Please let me know if you need anything.” The girl spoke with a smile. Hannah stared at the girl, nice girl, wide smile, deep blue eyes. Hannah liked her, perhaps she could make a friend in the school. She wanted friends, she lost so many.
“I am sorry. Could you repeat that. Slowly. Please?” Hannah asked while she made herself even smaller.
“My name is Marinette Dupain Cheng.” The girl spoke slowly. Hannah looked at her table with names and checked the name and the surname she copied. Marinette observed the map of the classroom that Hanna sketched and filled it with names and smiled back.
“Nice to meet you Marinette Dupain Cheng. I am Hannah.” Hannah replied and offered her hand. Marinette stared at the offered hand for a moment confused by the action, but then she returned her own hand and they exchanged a handshake.
“I am the class president.” The blue eyed girl announced slowly and quietly not to disturb the girl who was telling stories in the last row. The blonde boy from the first row turned around and peeked towards her. He was listening to their conversation, obviously.
Hannah nodded, “Class president, I understand.” She replied as clearly as she could. She knew her accent was off, she hoped it was not too bad. Marinette noticed, but she produced no reaction.
“You need help?” Marinette asked with a wide smile and determined blue eyes.
“Um yes?” Hannah replied with a surprised smile. Does she need help? Yes she does. But for the life of her she was supposed to ask for that help in French, the language she now understood on written level. But understanding spoken French in a high school was something completely different. Hannah nodded and smiled back sheepishly.
“Do you need something?” The blue eyed girl asked quietly.
Hannah observed the girl carefully. Then she nodded again and took out her notebook with phrases.
“I need a few books from the library.” She produced a list of about twenty items. Most of them were about how to learn French language. “It is my first day of school.” She added another phrase she memorised. The blonde boy was now standing beside Marinette.
The other students barely glanced towards them, they were listening to the next tall tale by Lila who dragged the group away. She tried to get Adrien to follow but the boy just waved her away.
“I can help you with the library. That is okay.” Marinette smiled.
Hannah smiled back.
The boy smiled too. “Hi Hannah.” He said with a grin.
“What is your name?” Hanna asked Adrien the question in practised French. It was nothing like the way common French students would talk. It was clear she was talking in a language that was foreign to her. Both Adrien and Marinette could recognize that.
Marinette flipped her eyes between Hannah and Adrien and wandered what was going to happen next. She refused to be jealous for the attention that Adrien was giving this new girl, he was not hers, he loved someone else and he was with Kagami.
“What is your name?” Hannah repeated slowly, one word at a time so she was sure she pronounced them correctly. She hoped she did not mess it up completely the first time. She smiled and looked expectant, she held her pencil ready to write it down on her chart.
Then Adrien started to laugh. Marinette could not help herself but smile. It was the same genuine laughter as that day he gave his umbrella to Marinette. Hannah looked down to her notebook with phrases. She stared at the question. Did she just asked something stupid instead what she intended.
“Um, sorry, what is your name?” She asked the boy again as soon as he stopped laughing. But he started to laugh again. Hannah was desperate. She could not understand what she did wrong. She just asked her classmate for a name. Perhaps it was wrong because he was a boy?
“It is okay, you said it correctly.” Marinette nodded to the girl. She enjoyed Adrien’s laughter so much that she laughed along, but she noticed that Hannah was distressed by it. She could not remove the wide happy smile from her face, Adrien was happy.
“I’m sorry.” Adrien wheezed between laughs. “I do not remember anyone ever asked me that for real.” The boy was genuinely surprised by the question. People were screaming his name after him in the streets, he could barely have a walk in the park with his friends without being recognized, and yet, this girl just asked him his name. It was so normal and yet so new to him.
Hannah was confused. She did not understand why this boy was laughing at her. She felt hurt. Was it her accent? She knew she had poor accent. That is why she practised. It was not like a practise with a trained speaker or a tutor. She listened to the news and tried to repeat the words and sentences the way they spoke. The problem was they always spoke so quickly, so she played them on her phone part by part and practised. Apparently she got this question totally wrong because this boy was laughing at her.
Adrien looked down and stared at her phrases in her notebook. She knew it was a bad idea to aim as high as she did and go to high school, but she could not have said no once she saw the opportunity. She wanted to go to the best school and her points from the science exam ensured her the position. Everyone advised her against her choice. Because her French was so poor, it was better to go to the same class with students her own age and just learn French. But that was not what she wanted.
Her plan backfired, already on the first day, because this boy knew she was a fraud and knew that she could speak very little French and poorly, too little to go to a prestigious high school in the centre of Paris. Now she was going to be expelled on her first day and sad and angry and become one of those awful akuma beings that rampaged around the city.
Marinette noticed the girl was sad and worried.
“Don’t worry.” She waved her hands to get her attention. “Hannah. It is okay.” She continued. The foreign girl raised her eyes. “He is just surprised. That’s all.” Marinette did not know how exactly to fix this, but she saw the girl was spiralling down. All the emotions were straight on her face.
Hannah was not sure why would a boy be surprised just because she asked him his name. Then she remembered. There was a round call in the morning when everyone told their names and she was supposed to memorize, and she failed to do so, too many names in too short time span.
“I’m sorry.” Hannah apologized again. Apparently she was going to do that much these days. “You said your name, but I forgot. I’m sorry.” She bowed her head in shame. She could only hope to be accepted the way she was.
“Oh no.” Adrien finally realized that the girl in front of him was worried. “It is fine.” He smiled a wide lopsided grin. “My name is Adrien Agreste.” He finally said and smiled back. He enjoyed telling that to a person who did not know it already. It was a new experience.
“Nice to meet you Adrien Agreste.” Hannah offered her hand to the boy. Adrien was much faster to pick up the offered hand and shake it. He was used to meeting different people and attended many events where the introductions between people were followed by a formal handshake.
“The pleasure is all mine.” The boy replied with a wide grin. Hannah was confused. This boy was smiling at her so warmly, but he was laughing at her just moments ago. She understood the phrase he offered as a reply and knew he did not mock her so she smiled back. She checked her table. She wrote his name in the empty space.
Marinette might have been a little jealous and a little wary of a newcomer. But this new transfer student was nothing like Lila. She sat at her spot, she did not demand attention, she seemed withdrawn and unsure of herself. Perhaps it was her obvious poor knowledge of the language?
“Do you speak French?” The blonde boy asked quietly but clearly. Adrien learned a few languages before he started with Chinese, perhaps he could help the girl too. He remembered Marinette on his first day of school. He looked at the pigtailed girl and smiled gently at the memory.
“A little.” Hannah replied a bit scared what was going to happen. What if these students discover she actually failed French in her exam and then she would get kicked out of school on her first day? She could not have that, she worked so hard to be there.
“Do you know some other language?” He asked after that. The boy was quiet, as if he did not want the rest of the class to overhear. Hannah was glad, these two students were just trying to be nice to her. Hannah was not sure what the question was, but she had an idea of what it might be.
“I can speak English.” She replied the practised phrase. Nobody in Paris spoke her own language, save a few people in the community centre, she often tried to communicate in English, which was her second language, when thing were not working out for her in French (which was almost all the time in the beginning).
“Are you from UK?” Marinette asked with raised eyebrows. She knew many people moved across the channel as they followed their businesses and careers.
Hannah waved her head.
“She does not have that accent.” Adrien told Marinette. Hannah raised her eyebrows.
“I’m sorry about my accent.” Hannah apologized. Her insecurity was starting to overwhelm her.
“Don’t be.” The boy smiled. “It is interesting.”
“We can go to the library later.” Marinette offered and pointed to the list Hannah was holding.
The bell announced the end of the break before Marinette could tell her that the break was over, and the teacher returned with a pile of papers that were obviously, to all the students disappointment, worksheets to fill in.
I skipped the legal procedures ...
Marinette is helping Hannah in the next chapter and Adrien is tagging along (mostly to avoid being dragged into something else).
Chapter 3: Language and Other Barriers
Alya is curious about the new girl, Hannah is struggling, there is an akuma attack and Marinette and Adrien try to come to terms with their feelings.
They are starting to contemplate romance issues here.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Language and other barriers
“So what is the story with the new girl?” Alya inquired the moment she sat down. Nino looked at both Marinette and Adrien and expected an answer.
“She is new, I need to show her to the library.” Marinette shrugged. She did not share the fact that Hannah struggled with French mostly because she slightly resented that her friends gave so much attention to Lila. Besides, it might sound like gossip or criticism while she did not mean that.
“Oh, I hope it is not during the lunch break, Lila is showing us photos from her trip to Achu.” Alya whispered with sheer enthusiasm for the next story she could hear from the resident liar. Her eyes gleamed with excitement.
“Actually it is.” Marinette smiled apologetically. She was actually happy to avoid that experience.
“Dude, can you stay for the lunch break?” Nino asked Adrien.
“Actually, no I have to go to the mansion, otherwise I would help Marinette and the new student as I need to go to the library too.” The boy quickly thought of an excuse. Nino gave him an odd look, as if there was a book that the boy did not have already in his room or could get with a click of a mouse. But the teacher was there and was explaining what they were expected to do with the worksheets.
Nino and Alya were having a conversation about how the homework interfered with their afternoon plans when Adrien turned around to Marinette to pass her the worksheets.
“You are really amazing to help Hannah.” Adrien beamed.
Marinette blushed at the praise and almost dropped the papers when their fingers touched accidentally. She stammered a thank you and nodded to confirm he could join. The boy smiled gently and turned back to the teacher as Marinette was expected to pass the worksheets further.
Marinette decided to help the new girl. It was a useful distraction as she had less time to be annoyed by Lila and her stories. Besides, she decided to trust this new girl until proven otherwise.
The break was over and they resumed the history lesson. Hannah struggled to fetch the words, but now she was almost able to fetch complete sentences when the teacher was speaking slowly. The lesson was from the classic history and she recognized the Greek and the Roman rulers and leaders of the armies as well as the famous battles that were mentioned. She managed to follow through how far they got and she even marked what was for homework to read in the book and collected her worksheet that she planned to deal with with a help of dictionary, translate tools and all the books she could get.
The next class was literature. Hannah took a photo of the list of the books they were expected to read and analyse. She even recognized a few she read already, just not in French. Well, at least she knew the plot. Then the teacher explained how the book reports are expected to be submitted. Apparently there was an online tool to do that. And there was an elaborate system. It was completely different from what she was used to. She quickly opened the web page on her phone. The teacher confiscated her phone although she pointed to the web page she was reading was actually the book report sheet. But the teacher was not giving up. With her low experience in French, Hannah gave up. She noticed both Adrien and Marinette frowned at their teacher.
“I do not know what kind of practises you are used to, but we do not tolerate using your phone during classes.” The teacher scolded in gentle tone.
Hannah was lost. Without the translate engines she struggled to understand what was being said. She finally took the school tablet and tried to use the same translation engines, but some of them were blocked, she was not allowed to install an application and the only one she could use was the slowest she knew.
Finally, the lunch bell rang and Hannah was reunited with her phone.
“You treasure your phone even more than Alya.” Marinette smiled.
Hannah nodded. It was difficult to explain. This phone was her link to the outside world. She could learn, she could use it to translate, she used it to find the possibility for her family to settle together and in Paris. It was her phone that she used to fill in the forms for the whole family, to find the accommodation, to find this school, to find her way around this huge city. She truly treasured the device.
“Can you show me the way to the library, please?” Hannah asked the class president. It was one of the phrases she memorised and used before.
“Would you like to go to the cafeteria first?” Marinette asked.
Hannah waved her head. She had her small container with food, because she did not have the money for the cafeteria, or she did have some, but she wanted to spend it on something that was not food. So she packed a few leftovers from yesterday. Her brothers had the food in their school for free, and that was another reason why her parents wanted her in that school. But she knew she would never be away from her two little brothers, and she wanted to be away from them. She wanted to be on her own.
“Me neither.” Marinette smiled. Well, she was not going there because avoiding cafeteria meant avoiding Lila and her tall tales. So she preferred to go home for lunch during the days when Alya was particularly interested in the stories Lila was telling. Besides, Adrien always ate at home, so there was really no point in going to eat with the rest of the class.
Alya was ready to woo her seat mate to join her for the lunch once more, she missed her friend and school and hoped to catch up on everything.
“Sorry, I have to help the new student.” Marinette quickly excused herself from Alya and the rest of the Lila worshippers.
“Oh, perhaps I would struggle less with classes if she was so helpful to me.” Lila smirked. The opportunity to make Marinette look bad just presented itself.
But the girl in question was already walking away swiftly. Adrien heard the remark and glared at Lila before he walked away from the school.
Adrien walked towards the school entrance and the car that waited for him. He was well aware that his tactics towards Lila’s lies was wrong and he took the blow to get Marinette back to school. But the liar obviously never stopped to weave her web of lies against his friend and he had to find a way to put a stop to that. The problem was his father almost never let him spend his lunch breaks at school. Perhaps it was time to persuade Nathalie it was pointless to go to the mansion only to eat alone. If they want to control what he was eating, they might as well pack him his lunch to go. He even practised the speech in the car and got a grunt of approval from his driver on the way to the mansion.
Marinette decided to speak for Hannah as they entered the library. The librarian was explaining the rules, but she also pointed to the list of rules printed and hanged behind her back so it was possible for Hannah to follow what she was explained. The little brunette girl clutched to her list of books that she thought she needed. As if she could magically learn to speak French by reading more. She knew she needed to speak more, but that was always such an embarrassing experience.
“You can borrow only three books at a time.” The librarian frowned. “Four at most.”
Hannah nodded. She understood the rules. It was written on the wall behind the librarian. Marinette explained to the librarian they are going into the library to chose. The girls quickly collected all the books about learning the French language and put them on one desk. She also retrieved the history book from the previous school year.
“Thank you, Marinette. Go and have lunch. I will stay here and study.” Hannah stuttered out, the words were pronounced one by one and not the way French normally did, but Marinette just smiled and greeted before she left for the bakery.
Marinette walked out from the school with her head high. Apparently the boys chose to eat on the stairs in the sun and even Alya and Alix joined them. They were exchanging stories about how they spent their summers and Marinette was almost sorry to leave. Almost, because everyone compared their experiences to absolutely amazing accomplishments by Lila.
“I just wish they would all see how Lila is making them feel low.” Marinette muttered to Tikki who was listening from her purse. “They are all so accomplished and she makes them feel low and insignificant by making herself look important with her lies.”
“Be patient Marinette, everything will be better soon.” Tikki chirped from the open purse but remained hidden inside.
“I just hope it does not get worse in the meantime.” Marinette sighed.
Of course, there had to be an akuma attack. Adrien finished his meal quickly, ran away in his room and transformed. Marinette did not even reach her parents bakery, she merely hid in an alley and transformed. The akuma was not so demanding, but it still took them time and effort to win and their lunch break was almost finished when Ladybug and Chat Noir bumped their fists.
“Thank you Ladybug.” Chat Noir smiled gently as always, the breeze ruffled his blonde hair and he twirled his baton in his hand. He wanted to linger around, but his miraculous beeped and warned him that it was wiser to simply head home.
“Thank you Chaton.” Ladybug smiled gently, but her eyes looked sad. She still used her nicknames for him, but he stopped using the nicknames for her. They did not stop their usual banter, especially when they had time, and she loved it. She did not miss a pun or a declaration of love in the middle of an akuma battle, but she noticed he was somehow sad and lonely and she really wanted to just grab him and hug him and tell him he can banter and flirt and say whatever he want just to see him smile again. But she knew she shouldn’t. She could not love him, she knew after Chat Blanc that she should never fall in love with the boy in the catsuit. The only problem was, it was probably too late.
They separated and went their own winding routes.
Marinette thought about how now she loved two boys and could have none of them, she did not even fully let go of Adrien before she realized she had somehow fallen in love with Chat, although it was not the same romantic way, but she knew that she loved him as something more than just a friend. And yet, there was a third boy, Luka, who was obviously interested in her romantically, and she could not say that she did not feel anything for him, she did like him, but she had no way of telling just how much romance there was on her side. She liked to listen to him playing the guitar, it made her feel relaxed and forget about her duties and responsibilities. She liked the way she could relax and be herself around him, but she never wanted to be more, she never needed to be more, it was not a challenge. It was good, it was safe, it was the way she felt around her friends. She landed on her rooftop terrace and detransformed before she entered her room through the hatch rooftop window. She passed a cookie for Tikki and grabbed a piece of pastry on her way out through the bakery. The lunch break was about to finish.
Adrien vaulted towards the mansion in a long winding route as he wanted some time to think. Kagami was a bout to return from Japan in a day or two, but he was not even sure when exactly. He knew his feelings for Ladybug were still there, he still loved her, he merely stopped with the nicknames and the flirting. He secretly hoped that would make her miss it and realize she always had feeling for him, but that did not happen yet. Or maybe she did realize that, but was too stubborn to ever admit to that. He knew he liked Kagami, she had the appearance, she had the attitude and she liked him. He knew she did. And the boy felt as if he could be himself around her, at least when the two of them were alone. The problem was that when the two of them were alone, she wanted more, she wanted to kiss him, she wanted to be his girlfriend, and the boy was not ready for that just yet. He did not mind holding her hand, he did not mind brushing ice cream from her cheek, but kissing was too much. They went on friendly dates, they went around and about and joined his friends a few times but then she left for Japan with a not so subtle suggestion that he should not hesitate so much once she returns. And yet, he was not ready to do anything with her that she would not interpret as hesitation. He needed friends more than he needed girlfriends, he knew that now. And that was exactly what he planned to tell her.
Hannah checked her phone and decided to stay in the library during the akuma attack. She knew that Ladybug and Chat Noir were about to fight, win and then restore everything. If only someone could do that in her own country. The way she understood the magic behind, it was not the way it worked, but the girl could hope. Well, she knew what she was about to ask Ladybug and Chat Noir the first time she met them. She memorized those sentences by heart.
The alarm on Hannah’s phone notified her that the lunch break was about to be finished. She quickly returned most of the books, and left four, one for literature, one about learning French, the old history book and a simple book written for pre teen kids that might help her learn some French that she could actually use in school.
She took the books to her locker and took the sandwich. She ate in the locker room while other students entered and passed by. She knew she had science and then the gym class next. And it was a double period of science that day. She was used to having different sciences as separate subjects. This was new. She took the book and the notebook and her regular additions such as the phrasebook and the dictionary. She braced herself for the afternoon classes, she wanted to be ready.
Things will go slightly better for Hannah in the next chapter.
Chapter 4: Things Get Physical
More school stuff, like science class (physics in particular) and some fun in the gym.
Just more school stuff and a friendly gesture from Marinette.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Things get physical
“Hi Ivan.” Hannah greeted as she put her books and notebooks on the desk and slid into the bench. They had science class in a normal classroom that afternoon. Ivan silently nodded in greeting while Mylenne let go of his hands. Hannah understood they must have been a couple from the way they acted. She was not used to that in school, she was just a child the last time she went to regular school. The girl stared at the couple, probably inappropriately, not that she knew what she was doing before she shook her head and finally spoke to the couple.
“Do you want to sit here?” The little brunette offered to Mylenne and smiled, but Mylenne shook her head and looked back towards Alix.
“Hi, I’m Mylenne, Ivan and me are a couple, but you can sit with him if you want, I’d rather sit with Alix.” The girl with colourful braids greeted.
“Mylenne.” Hannah smiled to the girl, she did not understand all the words. “And Alix?” she pointed to the pink haired girl to her side.
“Yes.” Mylenne confirmed quietly.
Hannah was making quick notes in her notebook.
“You are writing all our names here and where everyone sits?” Alix sneaked up to Hannah from behind and spoke so suddenly that the new girl was taken by surprise.
Hannah startled and the notebook fell to the floor. Alix picked it up, snatched the pencil and filled the table with the missing names and surnames.
“There you go, it must be hard to remember everybody just from one round call in the morning.” Alix snickered and turned around to slide in her seat.
Hannah checked her notebook and appreciated the effort, although she did not understand what Alix told her it sounded assuring. She was looking forward to the science class, it was her strongest subject, that and math. The science teacher looked stern her pointed nose and chin reminded her of the way witches used to be depicted in the books she used to read as a child, really, the only thing missing was a black cat and a pointed hat. Hannah almost laughed as she imagined the missing items on her science teacher.
Marinette and Adrien burst into the science classroom just moments before the bell rang. Hannah smiled to both of them. It was funny how both of them were out of breath, Marinette was much more red in her face and squeaked as Adrien run into her from behind because she stopped the moment she entered the classroom. The boy apologized and both of them went to their seats while Alya was snickering in her place and teased Marinette about it.
Ms Mendeleev started teaching and Hannah was happy. She understood this teacher very well. She had no issues in taking notes, and she even raised her hand when the teacher asked question. It was automatic. She did not even think about the fact that she would have to answer in French.
Marinette made herself pay attention to the teacher, they were repeating the lessons from the last year and the teacher was asking questions to the class continuously. She was surprised at the questions at first, but it was an easy repetition, she just had to remember the mass the velocity and the impulse.
Adrien was still in his own world, he contemplated the words he should say to Kagami. He did not want to dismiss her as his romantic interest (and the boy was a bit surprised by that) he only wanted more time and he had no idea how much time he needed.
Hannah was raising her hand, but the teacher asked Max to answer. Then she asked Adrien the next time. Then she asked Marinette. Hannah kept rising her hand for each question. She noticed Max was giving her an odd look. He was the only other one who raised his hand each time. The teacher spoke slowly and in familiar terms, Hannah finally felt she was not over her head in the school curriculum.
“The petite girl behind Marinette.” Ms Mendeleev finally called.
“It is you.” Marinette warned Hannah as she turned around towards her. Marinette was worried, she knew how Hannah was struggling with French and remembered rather clearly when her phone was taken just because she wanted to use some translation tools and access the school report pages.
Hannah got up. “The rate of change of speed is called acceleration.” She exclaimed proudly to the surprise of two of her classmates. She could speak French when the subject was her favourite subject. Hannah noticed how Marinette and Adrien smiled at her. Max raised an eyebrow. Of course, he was not so surprised that the girl knew the answer, she did raise her hand, but it was the way she said it, proud and happy, with an accent he could not place.
“And how do we compute it?” The teacher asked with raised eyebrows. Mme Mendeleev looked at Hannah, but anyone could have raised their hand and answered for her if the girl did not know.
Hannah knew somewhere in the back of her mind that she was expected to describe the procedure in words. But instead, she walked down to the blackboard, draw two small circles with different arrows and marked them as v1 and v2 and then wrote the formula and explained it. Mme Mendeleev was speechless. Not because a student knew the answer but because she came to the blackboard on her own.
“What is your name?” Mme Mendeleev studied her list of students and stopped at an unfamiliar name.
“My name is Hannah.” She spoke quietly.
“Mlle Hannah Prc” Mme Mendeleev pronounced her name and surname correctly and Hannah beamed. “Thank you very much for you illustrative answer. Please go back to your seat.” The teacher fortunately motioned with her hand so the girl understood what was expected of her.
“I am usually the one doing the teaching.” She commented as Hannah was returning to her spot. She smiled to her colleagues happy that she was able to show what she knew.
That was not the only time Hannah went to the blackboard to explain something, there were circular motions and gravitational forces to draw and Mme Mendeleev even draw a hint of a smile on her face as she watched the short girl try to use the upper portion of the blackboard.
After two school hours of repeating what they learned last year, Mme Mendeleev concluded they did not forget everything they learned and they were ready to start with the universal gas law for the next time.
The last class was in the gym.
Hannah changed and went to the gym by following Marinette. She began to like the girl a lot. She helped her. Hannah had left all her friends somewhere behind, or they left her behind, and this new girl might be her friend there in France. Both of them were walking behind Adrien.
“Listen, Hannah.” Marinette spoke quietly. “I can borrow four books from the library too.” She waited for the girl to react.
Hannah nodded that she understood.
“I need only one, for the literature.” The class president continued slowly and quietly. The boy before them slowed down and eavesdropped on their conversation, not as subtle as he would like to think he was. “I can borrow a few books for you.” Marinette added.
Hannah nodded and smiled. “Thank you very much Marinette.” She replied politely as she saw in some film on TV.
They were standing in the gym.
“Which books do you need?” Adrien asked with a small smile. “I might have them at home.”
Hannah was not sure if she wanted to borrow anything from this boy. She still remembered quite clearly how he laughed at her when she asked him for his name.
Marinette noticed the awkwardness of her new classmate. Not that she was much less awkward in front of her crush. However, this was different kind of awkwardness, Marinette could tell, she was an expert.
“Hannah? Do you want to borrow Adrien from books?” Marinette asked then she flailed her hands. “I mean do you want Adrien from books?” Then she flailed her hands once more. “Books! Adrien has books. Many!”
Hannah smiled widely.
“Can I see?” She was so happy. This boy had many books, she loved books.
“No, um, you see, my father is very restrictive.” Adrien started to explain.
Marinette frowned. Was this girl trying to get into the room of her crush just like Lila?
Hannah raised her eyebrows with worried eyes.
“Sorry, I misunderstood.” She muttered and her fade dropped, she looked at her feet. It was a phrase she used often.
“No, no it is fine.” Adrien waved his hands defensively.
The boy wanted to elaborate, but the teacher called for attention.
Hannah was shorter than Mylenne and Alix and Max. Apparently she was so short that she inspired some comments from Chloe and Kim that induced some laughter from the class and a few glares towards the said duo from everyone who was short, and a few who were not.
The gym teacher explained what they were about to do.
Hannah did not understand a word.
They were running in a circle around the gym. Hannah was slow due to her short legs and it took her some time to carefully follow her classmates. Alix was also short, but the girl was fast. Yet, Hannah was not the slowest. Lila went to the teacher with some excuse and sat on the bench. Then the teacher whistled and they all stopped.
They were divided into teams. Hannah grinned when she noticed they were given the ball for handball. She knew how to play that. Chloe protested, flung her ponytail and stomped over to the bench. The two girls on the bench sat on the far ends of it and avoided to look at each other.
Hannah was on the team with Adrien, Max, Alix, Sabrina and Nathaniel. Kim, Nino, Marinette, Alya, Juleka and Rose were on the other team. Finally, the teacher told Ivan to join her team while Mylenne went tot he other team. Ivan instantly took the position of the goalkeeper, while Nino was defending the other team’s goal.
The opposite team had the ball. Kim passed the ball to Alya, then got it back then returned it and then Alya passed the ball to Marinette. Adrien jumped in front of the girl and smiled. Marinette dropped the ball and he stole it without any effort. But he passed it towards Max and Kim quickly cut the ball back when Max passed it towards Nathaniel. The red haired boy was a bit too slow. But then Hannah ran, grabbed the ball, passed between Kim’s two legs and passed the ball straight back to Adrien. The boy quickly grabbed it with surprise in his face, he lead the ball, jumped and there was just no chance for Nino to defend that. Adrien offered his fist for a fist bump, but Hannah stared at his fist as she was not sure what to do until she saw what Alix did as well as the rest of her team so she bumped his fist too.
The next time it was Kim who was running towards their goal and jumped. Against all odds, Hannah fearlessly jumped in defence. Kim scored effortlessly. Unfortunately his body also slammed Hannah to the floor. She grunted in pain but was quickly back on her feet. She earned a few worried looks. But she just smiled and picked up the ball to take it to the centre.
They continued the game. It was rather easy for Adrien to steal a ball from Marinette, so easy that Alya, Juleka and Rose stopped passing her the ball. Marinette groaned in frustrations as the girls shrugged and winked at her. She understood why she did not get the ball, but Adrien looked so happy each time he stole the ball from his friend that Marinette did not even mind.
Hannah gave all she had and more and when Kim slammed her into the floor the next time, Adrien and Alix both started to talk simultaneously and she did not understand a word save that both of them were worried. Max was reciting several types of injuries behind her back, and Hannah understood that only thanks to the training of her parents. Adrien and Alix were soon joined by Marinette and other girls as they examined Hannah.
The teacher whistled and approached and criticised Kim. The boy shrugged and looked at the new girl. He muttered an apology and Hannah simply smiled back.
Finally the game was over and they could change back to their normal clothes.
Hannah changed and went into the library with Marinette.
The blue haired girl was determined to be nice to this new girl.
“You need books that would help you learn French?” Marinette asked with serious note in her tone.
Hannah nodded. It was a big deal for her to admit that.
“I need to learn the way you speak?” Hannah did not intend that as a question but it sounded that way.
“Okay, they have some books with audio material, for practice of proper pronunciation.” Marinette sighed as she looked for the books. Hannah just nodded, she did not understand what she was just offered until she saw. It was a book for children with speech disabilities, with exercises to practice. She was happy and nodded in approval. Marinette got her three of those books, in the order of difficulty. But she was allowed to take only one, and had to sign an extra form for that, and she was allowed only because she was a class president.
“You do not have any disabilities, don’t you?” Marinette asked, there was a rule that students with disabilities could in fact get more support from the school.
“No, no disabilities.” Hannah replied proudly. Save she did not know French, but she was determined to mend that one on her own. Well, she would probably try and hide any other disability, if she had one. She was so used to fixing all her problems herself, and not only her own problems, that it was really nice to meet someone who would help her for a change.
Marinette accepted the praise from her new classmate with a smile.
Marinette (and Adrien) will learn more about their new classmate in the next chapter.
It is the little things that matter here.
Chapter 5: Come Over for a Visit
Hannah surprises her classmates.
One more chapter mostly about the new girl.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Come over for a visit
Hannah loaded the books in her backpack and additional bag. She was determined to spend the rest of the day practising her French (which annoyed her brothers immensely, but sometimes they joined in, perhaps today they would if they had similar experience in their school).
They found Adrien in front of the school.
“Hi Adrien!” Marinette smiled widely.
“Oh, hi Marinette, Hannah!” He greeted with a huge smile. “Oh, how many books you got?”
“She got at least seven books from the library.” Marinette smiled. Hannah nodded to confirm. She quickly greeted both of them and was on her way.
“My driver is stuck in traffic.” Adrien said sheepishly. “And my fencing practice finished early. Kagami is not yet back from Japan.”
Marinette’s heart flipped a little at the mention of the Japanese girl. She remembered how close Adrien and Kagami got, she expected they were dating, or a couple, or something.
“Do you miss her?” She asked, she was not sure why.
“Well yes, I missed all my friends during holidays.” Adrien smiled gently. Marinette thought that the gentle smile was for Kagami in his thoughts and her heart clenched little more.
Both of them were walking away from school in the direction of her bakery. They met Hannah with two boys who were almost the same height as her, but it was obvious they were even younger and they carried bags that clearly showed they were in a particular elementary school nearby.
“Hi Marinette Adrien.” Hannah smiled and waved toward them.
“Hi Hannah” They both greeted. Adrien changed the direction to intercept the new girl. Marinette joined him.
“These are my brothers, Eddie and Robbie.” She introduced the two boys on her sides. Both boys were obviously burdened by additional books just like her.
“Hi boys, my name is Marinette.” Marinette greeted.
“Your brothers?” Adrien raised his eyebrows.
“Yes, I have two brothers.” Hannah knew she stated the obvious, but it was a sentence she practised so well and she was so proud of it. Then she turned to her brothers.
“These are my classmates, Marinette and Adrien.” She told the boys in French. Both boys protested to their sister in a language they did not understand but they offered their hands to shake.
“You should speak in French even if I am present.” Hannah scolded her brothers, but both of them glared at their sister and muttered something.
They were standing on the edge of the park that was close to Marinette’s bakery.
“Are you going home?” Adrien smiled to the two boys. They both grunted something and looked at each other, then Hannah glared at both of them and looked back at Adrien.
“Yes.” One of the boys muttered.
“We are going home.” The other boy added and looked at his sister.
“Excellent.” She smiled back to her brother proud of his French. “Yes we are going home.” Then she turned towards Marinette and Adrien. “Would you like to join us?” She was very proud. She learned all the phrases, at least the short ones, if only she understood them each time Parisians spoke them in their own fast speech.
Adrien positively beamed at the girl, he knew her for only one day and he was already invited to her home. Marinette frowned at first as she was surprised by this girl who was inviting two kids she only met that morning to her own home? But Hannah and her brothers looked and both of them eager and expectantly.
“You are my classmates.” Hannah added with a smile. It was totally normal for her. All her classmates were welcome to her home. Always. Back home, while they lived more or less a normal life, her parents were visited by their patients, all times of day and night there was a ring at the door and perfect strangers would ask her for her parents only for her to respond that her parents were in the hospital. It all changed, her life changed, but she missed that friendly part. And she wanted to make friends, she wanted friends so desperately that she did not even think if she was going too far and too soon.
“Why not?” Adrien looked at Marinette. She smiled back at his warm green eyes and gentle smile. Then she nodded. Of course she did. It was Adrien who asked her.
“Great.” Hannah smiled and her brothers smiled widely. “We live there.” The girl pointed towards a building just on the other side of the park.
They walked to the other side of the park and entered a building. It was soon obvious this was not a normal building. People sat on the stairs and chatted. Women in house dresses with towels over their head and/or babies in their arms walked along the corridors. Men sat on chairs in a corridor and played cards on a small coffee table. There were sofas and other furniture in the corridors. There were people sleeping there. They climbed all the way up to the top floor. She entered a corridor, passed a few men who played cards and shouted something after her, she greeted the men in passing and her brothers repeated the greeting. Marinette and Adrien greeted with ‘bon jour’ as none of them was able to repeat the words they just heard.
Hannah unlocked the door at the end of the corridor. They entered into space that served as both the entry hall and the kitchenette, it was tiny. From there they walked into a room that was obviously both a living room and a bedroom. There was only one French balcony at the end of the room and that was the only source of daylight. The space was tiny. And there was ladder that lead to a gallery. The boys dumped their bags and went straight to the fridge.
“Would you like juice or water?” Hannah asked politely. They both asked for water. Hannah brought the glasses to the desk and then a plate with rectangular shapes of something yellow with cheese. They took a piece each.
“This is salty.” Adrien frowned. But he felt Plagg scratched his chest under his shirt.
“Yes.” Hannah smiled.
“What is it?” Marinette asked genuinely interested.
The boys were eating, Adrien smuggled a piece into his shirt to calm down his kwami while Hannah struggled to explain what they were eating. Apparently the recipe was extremely simple, corn flour, water, cheese and salt. It was something traditional from her country.
After they ate, Hannah collected the empty plates and disposed them while the boys took out their books. Adrien took his glass to get more water.
“There is no TV?” Marinette asked.
“We watch TV on the computer.” Hannah smiled. “Come upstairs, I will show you.”
The girls already climbed the ladder when Adrien followed. The space on the gallery reminded Marinette of her loft bed, except there was no window so it was much darker. There were three mattresses arranged in parallel from one wall to the other with narrow gaps between them. They had sheets and pillows and simple blankets, but everything was rather basic. The far end was full of shelves with little clothes and books and even a few toys.
Hannah pulled out a laptop and a charging cable.
“What would you like to watch?” she asked as the laptop was booting.
“We do not need to watch TV.” Marinette shrugged.
“Do you have any games?” Adrien spoke out loud.
Hannah left the laptop on the side of the bed and took out several decks of cards and a cardboard game of chess.
“I have these, if you want to play.” She smiled and offered. It was clear that she made the chess herself, she cut the figures and glued them to make recognizable forms and draw the black squares on the piece of cardboard. The decks of cards were obviously worn out.
Adrien was turning around quickly. Marinette had another look at the space the children had and then looked down. She saw that the double bed was in fact a sofa. There was a small coffee table next to it and a wardrobe on the other side, next to the large window that lead to the balcony. She knew they were exactly on top of the dining table and the beds were above the entrance, the kitchen and the small bathroom. The whole space was probably double the size of her own room.
“This is you whole space?” Adrien motioned with his arm to encompass the space.
“My brothers and me sleep here.” She pointed to the three mattresses. “This is our stuff here.” She pointed towards the shelves. “My parents sleep downstairs.” She pointed towards the bed. “We study at the table downstairs.” She shrugged.
Marinette was appalled. How could a family of five live squeezed in in such a tiny space? She thought her home was small.
“This is my home now.” Hannah continued. “You are welcome any time.” She smiled openly. She opened her heart and her home to her two classmates, she wanted to make friends, she wanted it so badly, she missed her old friends but she knew there was little chance to see them ever again, she knew few of them did not survive.
“You parents don’t mind?” Adrien frowned.
That obviously challenged Hannah to form a sentence on her own, straight from her head. It took her some time.
“When they sleep? We play in the corridor.” She shrugged. “I study in the corridor too.” She smiled.
Marinette remembered those men playing cards and the old furniture she saw on the way. She remembered how the girl struggled with French language, at least she could help her with that. She also made a mental note to bring pastries from her bakery to this family.
“Where are you from?” Adrien asked the new girl. He smiled and his face held an expression of innocent curiosity.
Hannah bowed her head again. She knew what was coming. She would tell the name of the country where she came from and everyone knew there was war and expected her to be a terrorist. She took in a deep breath.
“Alboran.” She whispered as if she was scared of the word. (The name of the country is invented, her experiences can be applied to any country at war.)
“But there is war.” Adrien countered. Marinette was silent. This was a whole new world for both of them. The dots started to connect, the tiny flat where they lived, the building they were in, her poor knowledge of French. She was poor, she was a refugee, not that her two classmates comprehended what that meant.
“Yes.” Hannah stared at her feet. “We had to leave.” She said it quietly, she still did not understand why, her father simply ran into their shelter and they picked up their documents and few belongings as well as her mother on the way. He said they lost and had to leave. Her home was destroyed months before that.
“It is okay.” Marinette smiled. “You are safe here.” She had no idea what it was like for this girl. Marinette always fought the akuma for Paris, sometimes for the whole planet, but she never contemplated that people had to leave their homes to get away from the danger.
“We have akuma” Adrien shrugged. “It is not much different.” He added. He saw plenty of destruction as Chat Noir, he was targeted, he was hit and the boy did no think there was much difference between the war him and Ladybug fought agains Hawk Moth and whatever war was going on somewhere else in the world.
“Ladybug brings everyone back.” Hannah’s voice started to shake. “I wish” she continued. “I wish she could do that in my country.” There it was, the sentences of her speech that she prepared, a short version for Ladybug and Chat Noir. She wanted to ask the superheroes if it was possible to reverse the consequences of other battles and other wars.
“Her magic does not work that way.” Marinette sniffed. She understood the wish, she really did, because she really liked the fact that she could bring everything back with a few magic words. It was a huge responsibility on her back, but she could do it. Fighting battles would be so much harder if she could not.
Adrien was staring at the tiny space, he began to feel the hint of his claustrophobia. The only source of light was downstairs and it was rather dark. The boy was baffled. He had a huge room full of games and yet his father never let him bring any friends. This girl had nothing and yet she invited him and Marinette to her tiny home.
“Why don’t we look at that homework we got today?” Marinette proposed. “Just to see if you got it right?” Adrien wanted to protest at first and perhaps to learn a new card game but then he remembered how the girl had issues with the language and maybe Marinette was right.
Soon all five kids had their homework opened at the small dining table. They all had their school bags with them and there was apparently not much else to do. Adrien just assembled his things on the desk when his phone rang. He asked his driver to pick him up at the corner of the park.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.” The boy smiled. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
The girl and her brothers beamed back.
“Come back to us soon.” One boy replied with huge eyes. The other boy nodded quickly.
“Thank you for visiting us.” Hannah smiled as she saw him off to the door of the small flat.
Marinette was arranging her books and notebooks while Hannah was explaining some assignment her brothers got in school. The boys returned to writing up their homework.
Marinette was surprised how much history Hannah knew but still she got her homework assignment totally wrong. Apparently the girl did not understand what was the point of the assignment, it was not explained, it was considered the common knowledge. Marinette struggled to explain, not because she could not, but because she had to use very simple sentences. But once she provided her own example as she started to solve her own worksheet, Hannah quickly followed.
They both agreed that literature was a lost cause for a first day.
But when it came to science, it was Hannah who explained. She even performed a few experiments to illustrate the impulse, the acceleration, the centrifugal and the centripetal force. It was something Marinette had a lot of experience with, but she just needed to name it, the strain on the yoyo string, the g forces pulling her down while she would swing below the Eiffel Tower.
“The swinging period of the pendulum depends on the length of the chord.” Hannah recited to Marinette’s amazement. She even produced a yoyo out from somewhere for the last two, it was small and wooden and the girl obviously painted it red with black spots herself. Marinette did not know if she wanted to laugh or to cry.
That evening, Marinette made her parents bring some of the unsold pastries across the park to her new classmate. Hannah’s father got home and gratefully took the pastries. He was too tired of his shift in the hospital for much else save a short polite conversation. The man was glad to meet the parents of his daughter’s classmate. The boys were rather happy that they were bakers and brought pastries with them. Marinette, Sabine and Tom walked back home across the park in silence. Once they reached their home, their eyes were glossy with tears.
Just to clarify, Hannah is a nerd with a mission. And she has no clue how other people live.
The next chapter should finally start to deal with the complicated love square plus two.
Chapter 6: Ice Cream
An akuma fight that initiates some memories and reflections.
Picking up on the mood after the Miracle Queen and some ice cream flavours from the Season 2.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Nobody asked Adrien where he was (the boy was not complaining) and his Chinese tutor was late due to traffic too, so he could hope that nobody noticed. Then again, nobody joined him for dinner, not even Nathalie who would usually come at least to apologize for his father’s absence. Adrien ate his meal and retreated back to his room. According to his schedule he was to play the piano until bedtime, but he was not in the mood, not really. Instead, he browsed the internet to get the information on his new classmate and the country where she comes from.
“This is so confusing, Plagg.” Adrien complained. “It seems that every news post out there has a different story about what went wrong there.”
“It depends on the point of view.” Plagg replied from his shoulder.
“But how do I know what really happened?” The boy complained. “Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy out there?”
“It is not always so easy.” Plagg muttered.
“Have you been involved in wars, Plagg?” Adrien narrowed his eyes.
“Oh have I been.” The tiny black cat rolled his green eyes and then flattened his ears. The boy did not need his kwami to answer, he already knew, of course Plagg was involved in waging wars, he was probably the ultimate weapon.
“Care to enlighten me oh you mighty deity?” Adrien smiled to his kwami. “How do I know what happened to Hannah?”
“The only way to learn what happened to your friend is to ask her yourself.” Plagg retorted as he glanced at his chosen. “Besides, she looked just fine and she still has her family.”
“Yeah, she does.” The boy’s voice faltered a little as he was reading an article on the internet. “The country she lived in fell apart.” He continued, he was reading different numbers on the dead, wounded, resettled and refugees, but could not picture it in his mind.
Plagg watched the computer screen and steered his chosen away from any content that might be a little too much for the sheltered boy. The tiny deity was at first relieved that Adrien had finally had a distraction from his complicated love life and terrible family life, he did not appreciate the direction that this particular distraction had taken.
“Why don’t you thing what your new friend needs now instead of what happened to her country. She’ll tell you when she feels ready.” Plagg stressed the words your new friend, because that girl needed friends as much as his boy did.
“You are right.” Adrien grinned.
That evening Adrien wanted to take all his games from his room and bring to the family where he spent that half hour after school.
“They do not have the space for any of that, kid.” Plagg warned.
“You are probably right.” Adrien sighed.
“I say you bring them some Camembert.” The tiny god of destruction proposed.
“You must have been as touched as me if you would give them your favourite cheese.” The boy replied as he scanned his huge room. He had no idea what would the kids need, he wanted to help but had no idea where to start.
Plagg just turned away and floated over to the boys wardrobe to hide his own feelings. He returned and floated at a respectful distance. The tiny god of destruction saw many wars, he saw too many battles where the consequences were not reversible. He knew that the family needed to feel accepted more than they needed anything else.
Adrien did not have the time to reach a decision he was interrupted by the news about an akuma attack.
Marinette was in her room after she wished her parents good night.
“It is so good that I can revert the damage from the battle, Tikki” Marinette whispered to her kwami. “I used to think it was such a big responsibility, but now I think about it as a gift.”
“I am glad you see it that way, Marinette.” Tikki chirped.
“I can’t imagine how would the life in Paris look like if we could not revert what happened.” Marinette shuddered as the memories of the Siren and Stormy Weather struck her followed by Chat Blanc. The last one switched her mind back to the subject that bothered her for her whole summer.
“I can’t love Adrien, he has Kagami now, I should move on.” She whispered to herself as Tikki retreated to her cookie and waited for her chosen to complete her late evening mantra. Marinette looked at those few posters of Adrien she kept, she removed one each day that Kagami and Adrien had one of their friendly dates. It was easier that way, she would chose one that she could be without and remove his smiling face from her wall.
“But I did not move on to Luka.” The girl sighed. “He is so nice to me. Why can’t I just feel the same way about him as I feel for Adrien?”
“Because then you would be crazy about two boys at once.” Tikki chirped her reply, it was not the first time she said those words that summer.
“Yeah.” Marinette closed her eyes. A boy with blue eyes dressed in a white catsuit was there, crying about the love they had and calling her civilian name to Ladybug.
“And I can’t love Chat Noir.” She whispered. She glanced towards the large chest where the miracle box was hidden after Master Fu passed her the guardianship. Her love life seemed irrelevant when compared to the wight of her duties and responsibilities.
Tikki stayed silent. The tiny red goddess of creation was around for a long time, but she was not supposed to interfere in the love life of her chosen. That is when the news announced yet another akuma attack in the city of Paris.
Ladybug and Chat Noir met at the Pont des Artes where Andre was calling them. The man was hiding behind the bench while the akuma stalked his ice cream cart on the bank of the Seine nearby.
“Ladybug, Chat Noir” Andre called. “The akuma is all my fault.” The man cried. “I gave them their soulmate ice cream, but she is allergic on the almonds for his eyes and he is allergic to strawberries for her lips.”
“That is okay, there was no way for you to know that.” Ladybug smiled gently at Andre and switched her attention towards the akuma. She had to focus on the akuma and not thing about the ice cream flavours. The sight of Andre’s cart held painful memories of her giving up on Adrien and let him and Kagami share their ice cream as well as her attempts to fall in love with Luka. She liked the boy, she really did, and it was not in a completely friendly way, it was not the way she liked Nino, for example, but it was not the way she liked Adrien either. Okay, no boys, akuma ahead.
“That means they are not meant for each other?” Chat asked out of pure cat curiosity.
“No” Andre replied feeling guilt in his voice. “I could have combined peach for his lips and milk chocolate for her eyes, or something else. It is all my fault.”
“It is not your fault.” Ladybug consoled the man while she grumbled inside, Andre and his stupid ice cream flavours and even more stupid colours that match lips or eyes or hair.
“It is my magical ice cream, it is supposed to bring two souls together, not to tear them apart.” The man whined.
“It does, as long as long as you believe in its magic.” Chat sighed.
“Thank you for believing in me young heroes.” Andre smiled gratefully.
Ladybug smiled, but turned away to hide her eyes and the fact that she did not believe in its magic any more. Chat sighed and looked to the other side, he used to believe in its magic, it just did not work for him, apaprently.
“The akuma is composed of both of them?” Ladybug asked all business, she did not want to discuss the ice cream flavours, there were memories surfacing in her mind that she did not need in battle.
“Yes.” Andre replied.
“I guess that means the ice cream did bring them together.” Chat teased, but Andre was about to start crying again. “And they are throwing ice cream scoops on random civilians and make them turn red and bloat.” Chat pointed with his claw and jumped ahead to protect the next group of civilians and shield them while rotating his baton.
“Thank you Andre.” Ladybug replied and swung her yoyo. She landed on a building and swung a few civilians to safety before she landed just behind Chat Noir.
“The akuma must be in their weapon.” She told Chat as she observed one of the civilians who got hit, the person was completely red in the face and swollen and running after them.
“It looks like the persons they hit become their minions, Chat.” Ladybug warned, grabbed her partner by his waist and launched her yoyo to a nearby rooftop. They both rolled away from the edge when they landed as they evaded more ice scoops.
Chat grinned awkwardly and removed himself from Ladybug. Ever since he decided to let go of her, he found those intimate positions most tempting to resume his flirting, but he managed to school himself.
“Lucky charm!” Ladybug called the moment she was on her feet. She got a red party hat with black spots.
“Going to a party?” Chat grinned.
“Exactly.” She smiled as she observed the cone. “I will have to be a distraction while you use your power on the weapon.” She explained her plan briefly, it was very simple.
“Hey, I have an empty ice cream cone over here.” Ladybug taunted the akuma and waved the paper party hat. The akuma launched a few ice cream scoops her way and she caught them in the cone while she launched her yoyo towards the akuma and wrapped their arms to their torso. Chat jumped from his hiding and destroyed the weapon. Ladybug quickly cleansed the violet butterfly, threw the paper cone in the air and called the Ladybug cure.
The two superheroes bumped their fists with a winning smile.
The couple that appeared after the akuma disappeared was still angry with each other and their faith.
“It is not my fault you are allergic to strawberries.” She shouted.
“I didn’t even know your were allergic to almonds.” He retorted and crossed his arms.
“I guess that is a clear sign we are not meant to be.” She raised her nose. “I was so stupid to think so only because we function so good together.”
“I thought so also, you made me be a better man.” The man sniffed.
“Your allergies to the ice cream do not mean you can’t be together.” Chat cut in.
“Yeah, you could combine other flavours that signify you as a couple.” Ladybug added.
“Yes” Andre shouted as he was running over. “I am sure we can find something fit for both of you.”
The couple and Andre went to his ice cream cart and they negotiated a combination of tastes for them.
“I just wish it did not take this for him to become more flexible.” Ladybug muttered to herself as the first warning sounded from her miraculous.
“Why?” Chat asked curious as always.
Ladybug was startled, she did not expect anyone to hear that comment. She glared at Chat for a moment until she smiled back.
“I’m sorry, Ladybug, I did not mean to pry.” His eyes dropped to his feet.
“It is okay, it is not your fault, just some sad memories from my civilian life.” She replied with her usual smile that could lit up a street, but Chat saw the sadness in her eyes.
“You have sad memories related to Andre and his ice cream?” He asked quietly and his ring sounded the first alarm.
“I ...” Ladybug did not really want to remember, she did not want to talk about that.
“Bug?” Chat hunched his back and looked at her, his curious green eyes pierced right through her.
“Ladybug, Chat Noir, how about some ice cream for you, on the house?” Andre called from his ice cream cart after he served the previously akumatized couple.
Ladybug shook her head.
“As a thank you to the two Parisian superheroes.” Andre insisted.
“You do not have to do it if you don’t want to, Bug.” Chat whispered.
Ladybug remembered how Andre got akumatized the last time she refused his ice cream so she finally relented.
“It is okay, we can share an ice cream.” She finally spoke. “If it is okay with you?” She added. He grinned back at her. “But do not read too much into that.” She rolled her eyes.
“Strawberry with chocolate bits and mint with chocolate topping.” Andre offered. “Any allergies?”
They both smiled and took the ice cream and the spoons. They went away to eat in privacy.
“I used to dream about a date like this.” Chat smiled dreamily. But one look at his partner told him he should have kept that to himself.
“This is not a date.” Ladybug looked away. She kept thinking how that was a mistake. Her miraculous issued one more warning. “I should have escaped while I had a chance.” She had an excuse her miraculous was about to run out of time.
“Come on, I know this is not a date, it is just really good ice cream and good company. We earned this Bug.” Chat tried to fix the situation.
“It is really good ice cream.” Ladybug confirmed as she took more. “And nice company.” She added thoughtfully. She really did not want to hurt his feelings. She took more ice cream. Chat was eating quickly and smiled at her. “I’m sorry Chat, it is not your fault I am in a bad mood.”
“Yeah, you mentioned.” He muttered to himself, he did not want to remind her and spoil the mood that had just started to improve, so he filled his mouth with ice cream to keep himself busy and silent.
“I know your curiosity is eating you alive.” Ladybug smirked.
“Your civilian stuff, I get it, you do not have to tell me.” He hurried his words out between taking more ice cream as his miraculous reminded him his time was running out too.
“It’s stupid, it is just an ice cream, very nice and tasty ice cream, but only an ice cream, people give it too much meaning anyway.” Ladybug muttered while she was eating the said ice cream. “Just don’t tell that to Andre, please.” She added for good measure, she did not want the man to be akumatized again.
“I won’t.” Chat pretended to zip his mouth. “Once I went to his ice cream cart on my own, as a civilian.” Ladybug stared at him. They were not supposed to talk about their civilian lives. But Chat ignored her warning. “And I got strawberry with black chocolate chip, blackberries for her hair, and blueberry ice-cream just like her sky blue stare.” Chat smiled dreamily.
Ladybug sniffed. She stopped eating the ice cream.
“I also went to Andre as a civilian alone once, and I got scoops that resembled the boy I love, but it did not mean anything in the end.” She sighed and glanced towards Chat quickly. She was well aware that the same scoops would describe the boy that she was sharing her ice cream with so she decided not to tell him what she got.
“I guess you are right.” Chat sighed too.
Ladybug’s earrings beeped.
“It is time for me to start going.” Ladybug smiled. “I will leave the rest of the ice cream to you. Good night Chat.” She threw her yoyo and flung away while Chat was saying his greeting.
There was not much time left for Chat too, so he threw the rest of the ice cream in his mouth, shuddered at the cold and vaulted away.
The next chapter goes back to the school and Alya introduces herself to Hannah and praises Lila.
Chapter 7: The Ladyblogger
The resident class journalist finally interrogates the new girl, but she is more focused on praising Lila than getting the answers.
Alya is not so bad here, she just spent too much time with Lila and is acting under her influence.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Good morning Adrien.” Nathalie greeted while the boy was heading for his breakfast with no emotion in her voice. “You have a photo shoot this afternoon after school.” She informed about the boy’s schedule as per usual.
“Nathalie, could I have my lunch at school? There is no point for me to go home for lunch if father is always absent and that way I could spend more time on my school assignments in the school library.” The boy explained his case. That way he could spend more time with his friends, but his friends meant Nino, and the boy knew that his father did not approve of his friends. Besides, he needed to actually be in school if he wanted to prevent Lila from hurting Marinette.
“I will talk to your father.” Nathalie replied coldly and left the boy to go and sit at a huge table and have his breakfast alone. Adrien sneaked a few pieces of cheese into his shirt for Plagg. The tiny god of destruction was unusually silent. The boy did not complain, he knew there will be teasing at some point in the future.
Adrien was finishing his breakfast when Nathalie returned with a plain plastic box.
“This is your lunch for today. Please make sure you keep to your eating schedule, you have a photo shoot in the afternoon.” She warned him and turned back on her heel. Adrien took the box and almost bounced on his feet as he was walking out from the Agreste mansion. He was allowed to have the lunch break with his friends.
That morning Marinette was walking to school lost in her own thoughts and concerns about the boys and her love life when Hannah run up to her from behind. Marinette knew she left for school at the last moment and the new girl was obviously not much better. The girls hurried to school together.
“Last night I read a book.” Hannah announced proudly. “And I did the speaking exercises. My brothers trained with me.” She continued, it sounded a bit off and unnatural, as if she practised what she wanted to say. Marinette smiled and praised her new classmate. That new girl got under her skin quickly. The two giggling girls just reached the school steps when a familiar car pulled over.
“You must have trained speaking for hours.” Marinette smiled.
“We did until midnight. Papa can sleep. Mother got home so we stopped.” Hannah shrugged. Her face changed when she mentioned her mother but then she smiled again.
“I borrowed a book with vocal exercises in French for Hannah.” Marinette explained to Adrien what kind of a book it way and that was not something a student could take from the library. The girl smiled widely, she looked so genuinely happy as she tried to follow the conversation between Adrien and Marinette.
“Excellent.” Adrien beamed. He was not sure what Hannah was talking about until Marinette explained. “You are a great friend, Marinette.” The boy wished he could help more. Perhaps he had some of those books at home? He remembered how he and his mother used to practice reading some text just for him to train proper pronunciation and be presentable as an heir to a fashion empire.
“We have French today. Are you ready?” Marinette smiled to Hannah encouragingly.
“Yeah” Hannah slumped her shoulders down, it was obviously the answer was for the first sentence not the question. She was not ready and she knew it.
Alya stormed over with her phone and the most recent posts on the Ladyblog and all the excitement that always engulfed her when she had something new about the two superheroes. She dragged Nino along who just smiled at his classmates, he did not get a chance to speak. Hannah was not yet ready to follow that. Both Adrien and Marinette adjusted to her level of understanding of the spoken French language. This was just too much and too fast and too much slang for a poor foreign girl. But she tried, she really did. So she just tagged along, walked beside her classmates and tried to at least recognize the subject of their conversation.
Of course it was a photo of Ladybug and Chat Noir sharing an ice cream from Andre, of course someone took a photo of them taking that ice cream and of course Alya got it. Marinette felt her heart sing in her stomach. Adrien blushed slightly as he took a look at the photo, he had a small smile on his face. It was one of his dream dates with Ladybug, although they did not express their undying love over the ice cream, it was not so bad, they actually shared some unidentified titbits from their private lives and he learned that Ladybug did not in fact believe in the magic of Andre’s ice cream because she got disappointed.
Alya was gushing about sailing of her ship. Nino was trying hard to keep her more or less not screaming about it. Hannah was obviously lost. So nobody noticed how the other two students were lost in their own thoughts.
“So, Anna?” Alya asked as she turned to the new girl.
“Hannah.” The girl smiled. She knew the French never pronounced the ‘h’ in the beginning, but she was persistent.
“We were wondering the whole day yesterday. What’s the story with you?” Alya pushed with questions. “Do you have parents working in diplomacy?” Marinette winced at the question while Adrien prevented himself to gag and smiled his perfect model smile. Even Nino frowned. “Do they work in the entertainment business? Are they famous? How did you get here?” Alya continued to shower the girl with questions, it was just her usual curiosity. Nino noticed that Alya was interrogating the new girl and both his best bro and her best friend frowned at the treatment. Her questions were not totally shallow, Hannah was obviously a foreigner so Alya assumed … a lot. Besides, he knew the gossip started by Lila and who inspired those questions.
Those were many questions, Hannah understood most of it. She simply shook her head.
“Come on, you moved into the centre of Paris, you got into this school, into our class, you must be totally exceptional. Everyone in our class is has some talent.” Alya pushed further. “I am the author of the famous Ladyblog.” She mentioned each of their classmates and what they were doing, she did not elaborate on Marinette and Adrien as Alya assumed that the two already introduced themselves with all their talents and activities.
“I am just a girl.” Hannah replied timidly. She did not consider herself to be much and she did not even aspire to be more than a really good student. She had her dreams and hopes but she knew well that the only thing that could get her anywhere was what she knew. They could only take a few things with them when her family escaped, but nobody could take away their skills and knowledge. That was what made the difference for them in the end, and that was what probably saved their lives and enabled them to live in Paris after everything they have been through.
They were walking over the school courtyard towards the locker room. Lila was telling another of her tall tales again. Hannah could recognize the names of several charities as well as prince Ali and other celebrities, something about the environment and climate and saving children but she did not understand the story behind.
“I can’t believe that girl.” Alya positively beamed towards Lila as she spoke to Hannah. One blonde boy and one raven haired girl both muttered ‘neither can I’.
“Lila works in charities with prince Ali.” She added to Hannah. “She helps the poor and the hungry and the refugees and fights climate change.”
The new girl positively beamed at that Lila girl and everything she just heard about her. The war in her country broke out after several years of drought, there was less and less food and it was more and more expensive, until those who could not afford to feed themselves decided to speed up the procedure and just waged war. She read an article how wars were related to the climate change now. She smiled admirably towards Lila. So that girl actually worked for charities that fed Hannah and her family, provided medicine and books and essential education and finally ensured transfer to a country that would grant them sanctuary. Lila was like a saint to Hannah, like an angel from heavens, she was that shiny star, far and unreachable and Hannah could only admire from afar. Because the new girl noticed that Lila sometimes shot glares in her direction, as if she knew how Hannah lied in her school applications, how she sometimes forged her data, her citizenship, her place of birth, only to be able to follow her family to safety. It was either that or her family would have left her behind. (Details to be revealed later in the story).
Both Adrien and Marinette noticed how Hannah regarded Lila and how the Italian glared back just for a moment before she assumed back her usual act.
Adrien thought that Lila was angry with Marinette and was scheming some new lie to make her look bad (and he was not wrong), so he tried to fetch the words that the liar was speaking, but there was nothing that suggested she was actually speaking about Marinette. He positioned himself protectively between the girls and the liar and listened.
“I make sure that the charities I work for help every child, we do not cherry pick the ones we like and help them.” Lila was preaching to her followers. The tone was acted concern, it was so obvious, she was not even a good actress at that moment, but her listeners were buying it.
Marinette on the other hand recognized that the glare was pointed towards Hannah. She wondered what the new girl did to make Lila hate her so openly, such glares were usually reserved for Marinette and Ladybug.
“That girl is incredible.” Alya continued to gush about Lila to Hannah and the girl simply nodded. “She is the best friends with Ladybug.” Alya continued. Hannah perked up at that piece of informaiton. Marinette and Adrien both stiffened at that claim. Marinette clenched her fists and quietly groaned to release her anger that she felt each time she heard those words. It helped her to calm down. Adrien, on the other hand, was positively certain that Ladybug would never be a friend to someone like Lila, even if she did not debunk her on her first day in school. Alya continued her praise undeterred. “She spent her summer fighting climate change, you know.” The bespectacled journalist continued to praise the liar and repeated briefly all her tall tales from the day before.
Hannah gleamed and smiled and took in each word from Alya with an occasional glance of admiration towards the liar while they walked towards the classroom. She wanted to be like Lila, not famous and well travelled, but she wanted to help people, to be the one who made a difference. Ever since her original dreams were shattered, she harboured new hopes and dreams and was determined to pursue them.
Hannah spent her time in the locker room memorizing which locker belonged to Lila. She wanted to write a thank you note to that girl, a letter where she would profess her gratitude for all the gifts she received after she lost her home, her town, her country and her citizenship. But that meant she would reveal to her her legal status and how she got there. Perhaps she could write that anonymously? But that would not mean much, someone like Lila probably got hundreds of such letters, thousands perhaps. She should sign it, she could trust someone who was so involved in charities like Lila for sure.
They took their French books and went to the classroom.
Adrien kept himself between Lila and Marinette as if that could protect her from the liar. The boy never told her that it was him who persuaded Lila to get her back to school. He was not proud of what he did, let alone how he did it.
Marinette was wary of everything she saw. Apparently Alya ensured that Lila got one more devoted fan and her instinct was telling her it was a particularly bad idea for Hannah to trust Lila. Of course, she noticed how Lila glared at the new girl with almost the same intensity she used for Marinette, when nobody was watching, and she could not help but overhear how Lila started to gossip against Hannah just like she did against Marinette. The class president understood that Hannah might be more vulnerable to lies Lila was spreading than anybody else.
“Hannah” Marinette spoke quietly. “You should be careful what you tell Lila. And you should not trust everything you hear from her.” There was no opportunity to do this clearly and loudly, Marinette could only hope that Hannah understood.
Adrien overheard the conversation as he was just behind the girls. The boy was concerned about Marinette more than about their new classmate. Why would Lila have something against a girl who just started to attend their class? Marinette was worried, perhaps he should be worried too.
Then they entered the classroom.
Alix grinned when she saw the new girl and offered her a high five for a good game they played in the gym on the day before. Her and Kim bantered about who would have her one their team. Max looked at Hannah and greeted her with cautious smile and invited her to a new technologies class they had on Wednesday afternoons after school in the library. Nathaniel was drawing her again, but this time it was a scene from the gym. Hannah felt happy and accepted.
And here we reached the main point of the story.
What if Lila targeted someone who actually admired her?
The next chapter will continue on that note.
Chapter 8: The French Lessons
Here we go, the dreaded lessons and an initial review.
It is a common practice to perform an initial review at the beginning of a school year and identify students who need additional help.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The French lessons
After the round call, the subject that Hannah dreaded the most started (well, perhaps she dreaded the literature class the most, this was just grammar). She tried to follow the discussion, she really did, she ignored the sounds around her. The teacher was explaining what they learned last year, the review worksheets they were expected to fill in and what they were expected to learn that year.
The girl behind her was talking, but Hannah did not listen, she was too concentrated on the teacher as she tried to catch what was explained. Lila continued to talk and talk although Nathaniel who sat beside her was drawing while the other students paid attention to the teacher, save Kim who was typing some messages on his phone under his desk.
Adrien took a piece of paper from his notebook and to write a short note. It was a warning about Lila. He pondered for a short time about what to actually write there until he decided to go for a simplest solution. ‘Lila got Marinette expelled from school.’ was what he wrote. Then he folded the paper and wrote ‘For Hannah’. He was about to turn and ask Marinette to pass the note when he realized that someone might snatch it an interpret it wrong. So he added ‘From Adrien’ on the outer side of the note and an instruction to destroy the note below the warning on the inside.
The blonde boy observed the teacher carefully, the moment her eyes were down on some papers he passed the note on the table behind him, straight in front of Marinette, without turning around and looking at the girl. He trusted she would do what was needed.
Marinette listened to the teacher, they were about to go through a worksheet that was going to get them through all the grammar they were expected to know by then. She sighed, such assignments often required knowledge of grammar constructions nobody ever used in the real life. And they learned a lot of strange constructs during the last school year. It was supposed to be only a review. But bad score would simply look bad. Then a folded piece of paper landed on the desk before her. ‘From Adrien to Hannah’ the outside of the note said. Marinette looked at the fashionably messy blond hair before her. He never sent her notes during the class. The teachers were not looking kindly when someone broke the rules like that. The model boy never broke the rules like that, and now he was sending messages to Hannah (and not Marinette). She felt slightly jealous, not that she suspected anything romantic, she just wanted to exchange friendly notes with the boy if that was what he wanted. She carefully observed the teacher and quickly passed the note to Hannah behind her. She could only hope that the new girl understood the rules about passing notes in class and would not betray them.
Lila saw the exchange and read what was written outside of the note. Adrien was passing notes to Hannah during lectures? That was just too much. This new girl captured the attention of the model boy so much that he was passing her notes on the second day of school. Hannah covered the note with the palm of her hand and the note disappeared behind her body. Lila could not see what happened after that. She raised her hand. There was no use for her to wait and do this anonymously, the opportunity presented itself.
Hannah stared at the note for a few seconds more than was absolutely necessary.
“Teacher, the class president should explain to the new student that it is not allowed to pass notes during the class.” Lila fluttered her eyelashes. Adrien rolled his eyes and turned around ready to jump at her. Marinette stiffened. The teacher walked over to Hannah and demanded the note with her hand extended.
Hannah stared at the extended hand before she produced a piece of paper and gave it to the teacher who stared at the paper and unfolded it.
“What is this?” She demanded.
“My schedule.” Hannah smiled. “I dropped it.” She added quickly. “Thank you Marinette.” She smiled to the class president. Marinette smiled widely. This girl was good. Adrien beamed at Hannah. Lila glared. The teacher returned the folded sheet of paper and returned to her post in front of the class.
Marinette smiled gently at Hannah and turned around. She did not dare to say anything. She hoped the girl behind understood how much she was appreciated at that moment.
Adrien looked at Lila with narrowed eyes. He was sure she was throwing him into the fire together with the two girls behind him. She must have seen what he wrote on the outside and he did write the from part just because he expected she would not call him out. Way to prove him wrong.
Hannah was thinking about that note. Of course Lila complained about them passing notes in the class. It was against the school rules. Lila was someone who obviously cared about the rules a lot. That was understandable. She worked with professional organisations that took upon some serious issues to resolve. They acted in dire circumstances and the rules were always important. Hannah understood that, the rules were always there, it was not as if she had something against having those rules, but she was somehow always braking them, it was seldom intentional, and even then she felt coerced to do it, by her own circumstances or by people around her. She was glad she was warned. She was sorry she upset Lila by that note. But she was not sorry that she got it and read it before she hid it in her book. She snatched the note from the book and hid it a small pocket inside her shirt. There was no way for her to destroy it while in class.
After the lesson was explained they were expected to read a piece of text and then fill in the worksheets. And they had to deliver the worksheets after lunchtime as they had double period of French and then a study session. The first short break started but nobody moved, everyone was too busy solving their problems.
“You are expected to work on your worksheets on your own, you are allowed to ask questions if you think you do not understand a task and you are allowed to go for the toilet.” The teacher announced and looked at the students carefully. “You got some extra time today, but I expect you to hand over your worksheets before you leave this classroom.” After that, the teacher proceeded to work on some administrative tasks while she checked on the students from time to time.
Hannah was trying for the whole second period to solve the problems and provide the correct answers on her own. She was allowed to use the dictionary although the teacher frowned. She did not dare to use the online thesaurus on her phone. She smuggled her thin notebook with French grammar inside to at least try to understand which sentences are correct and which are wrong. But that helped her only so far. She knew the basic grammar rules rather well, the problem was her vocabulary and the phrases.
Inevitably, the teacher was called outside to collect more paperwork. With a comment how she never liked administration the teacher got on her feet.
“I will be absent for a few minutes. I trust you to solve the problems on your own, but you are allowed to consultations if you need some help, just please let your colleagues solve their problems in peace.” She warned. She would not have left if the worksheets were not prepared against the cheating, and it was a review, and there was only so much that the students could do in a few minutes she planned to be gone, otherwise, shoe would have demanded that someone replaced her in the classroom even for those few minutes.
When the teacher left. The hell broke loose. Lila had an announcement. Alya left her seat. Nino was listening to music and worked on the assignment. Marinette jumped to her feet and turned to Hannah. It was to help her as much as to distract herself from the commotion that Lila was making. Adrien took his own worksheet and turned to the girls. That made Marinette flail and produce a few totally grammatically incorrect sentences that even Hannah proudly recognized as wrong. Hannah protested at first, but then she noticed everyone asked a colleague for help about this and that, few even protested that this should have been a homework. Adrien threw his encouraging models smile and Hannah relented. The boy explained one task and they solved it together, then Marinette got herself together and explained the next task briefly.
“Hey, you got this one okay on your own. Congratulations.” Adrien smiled at Hannah. “See, each of us got slightly different tasks so we can’t copy the answers.” That was the first time Marinette noticed that the examples they got were in fact different so were the answers for all three of them.
“How shrewd.” She admired her teacher. Adrien was proud that he noticed. Hannah was comparing the tasks and beamed, the example sentences were different but the tasks and the questions regarding the examples were the same, they were expected to circle different answers.
Lila did not hear what Adrien said nor she knew nor understood what was the issue with the new girl but she knew she hated her already. And when the boy decided to help Hannah with her task instead of coming to Lila and help her, the Italian transfer student glared angrily at the new girl.
“That new girl is nasty. I just know it.” Lila spoke with pretence of fear. “Look, they are all copying each other’s answers.”
“I asked her what her story was and she refused to tell me.” Alya added.
“She must be hiding something.” Lila replied.
“Listen, I can help you with the answers.” Alya returned to her seat, grabbed her own worksheet and typed the answers in the messaging application 1a, 2b, 3d, 4c and Lila blindly circled the same numbers.
The rest of the class was mostly busy with their worksheets (save Chloe who was busy with her nails, her sheets were already filled in, thank you very much, at least as much as she was willing to bother).
The teacher returned within a few minutes to check on them she glared at Alya who was holding her phone when she entered.
“I am really sorry, teacher, but Ladyblog, you know.” Alya tried to invent an excuse while she bowed her head and put away her phone.
“You are only cheating yourself if you do not learn.” The teacher scolded. “Now, before I leave, you are advised to go through the review you have in the electronic form for your homework, it can help you with the number of points you get for these worksheets.”
The bell rang and announced the lunch break, but only Chloe and Sabrina handed over their worksheets and were ready to leave. Chloe looked at Adrien who simply smiled sheepishly and pretended to work while he waited for her to leave.
“This is the review of all the grammar we learned so far.” Lila cried instantly after the bell rang. “Is it possible for me to get more time and turn in this worksheet tomorrow?” Many classmates turned around towards her.
“No” The teacher gave her a warning look. “Those who do not score well are going to attend the additional classes to catch up.” Hannah looked at the teacher, she was not sure if she understood her correctly. She would have to ask someone to clarify it to her. She did not dare to ask this teacher. Instead, she focused on the last few tasks in the worksheet.
Adrien smiled awkwardly and checked the time, he was finished with his worksheet long time ago but he waited for Lila to leave. He did not have to wait for long. The promise that another task, even if it was homework, could improve their points made most of the students hand over their worksheets and go for lunch break.
Finally, the last worksheets were handed over. Nathaniel was the last one to stay, but nobody was sure if he was actually writing answers or doodling ideas for his next comic book.
“Hey, I have my lunch with me, we can have the lunch together, maybe?” Adrien told Nino and Marinette. He was surprised that Alya was not in the classroom any more, apparently Nino was surprised too.
“I have a sandwich.” Nino grinned. “We can go to the park outside.”
“I have the pastries.” Marinette smiled. “Hannah, come for lunch with us.”
Hannah smiled. She was still shaky from the whole experience, greetings of the students in the morning, the fear about the note, the review worksheet that she felt like it was an exam. She had forgotten to pack her lunch. But maybe she could still go and sit in the park. She smiled and nodded.
They collected the food from their lockers and Hannah discovered she had one cookie packed in her backpack. She smiled, well at least she had something.
Nino sent a message to Alya that they were having the lunch in the park.
Marinette talked with Hannah during the whole lunch break. It was nice for Marinette not to be questioned about Luka, Adrien and Kagami. They mostly discussed the exam they just had and the school rules. Sometimes it was difficult to actually pass the information. The class president enjoyed her duty this time, and she had a grateful listener. The boys were discussing music and playlists.
“What was that note you passed during class?” Alya insisted the moment she joined them. Most of their lunch break had passed and Nino already gave up on waiting for his girlfriend.
Hannah produced the same paper she gave to the teacher.
“You can’t fool me with that.” Alya insisted. Hannah shrugged. She was not about to give her new friends away. She was warned, Lila liked rules, Alya liked Lila, Hannah wanted to look good in their eyes, so she kept quiet about the note.
“Babe, let go of the girl, you are scaring her.” Nino said relaxed by his cool new playlist.
“Are there news on Ladyblog?” Hannah asked more to change the subject than out of real interest. She would do much better to actually open the blog and read it there than to ask Alya to talk about it, but the distraction worked perfectly as the young journalist passionately talked about the recent sharing of the ice cream. Everything was fine while she explained her theories (Marinette and Adrien both hid their blushes, well Marinette did not have to, Alya assigned it to the Adrien proximity issues), Nino pretended to listen (he heard it all before, several times) and Hannah pretended to understand. But then Alya mentioned what Lila was saying about the events and that was when suddenly at least two among them had heard enough.
“The afternoon classes are about to start, let’s go.” Adrien initiated everyone to get on their feet.
“So dude, are you joining me for the music session?” Nino asked his best bro and bumped fists with Adrien.
“Hannah, you are going to the art class?” Marinette asked. Hannah nodded.
“Huh, I have that journalism workshop. That is where the school blog is done as well as all the other writing.” Alya grinned. Hannah smiled back. Out of all of the choices she had, she knew she would have to go for art. She was just not cut out for the other alternatives.
“It is actually writing workshop in the library Alya.” Marinette smiled. “It started as a book club of sorts.” She clarified to Hannah.
“Well, they can discuss their books and literature while I actually write the school blog.” Alya grinned proud of her work.
The poor girl got that far because she is tough, of course she is naive and might trust blindly to anyone who could represent an idol, but she would not survive what she did without some sense of self-preservation.
The protection squad is forming.
Chapter 9: Impressionism
Hannah reveals a little more about herself (and to more people than she intended).
Girls discuss love issues ... and a hint of how Lila is brainwashing Alya.
Please do not hate Alya after this, she is just mislead.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
That afternoon they had the art class. Hannah joined Marinette and entered the classroom cautiously. She first noticed Alix who was looking at the wall while she arranged her spray paints. Rose greeted her and sat in the corner while she listened to some music and was writing text in her notebook. Nathaniel was in the other corner drawing something too. Everyone was busy with some project of their own. Marinette introduced her to the teacher. She recognized the man from the community centre she went to during the summer. It was a nice place to go but she could go there only once per week. The man gave her a brief tour of the activities already done in the classroom. She smiled and observed with admiration.
“What kind of art do you do?” The art teacher asked the new student.
“I draw and paint.” She replied quietly with a shrug. “In the community centre.”
“Oh I remember you Hannah, you got in this school? Very nice!” The man smiled widely. “What would you like to do today?”
Hannah asked for paper and pencils and the teacher happily provided. She was not able to describe the project she wanted to do except that was something about a car.
Half an hour later the teacher stood next to Hannah and admired her work quietly. It was a design of a car. Outside and inside. Few details were elaborated, others were merely sketched. The art teacher was satisfied. Marinette sneaked up to the girl and noticed the car. She returned to her designs.
“You like designing like Marinette?” The teacher asked to start a conversation.
“Marinette designs too?” She asked quietly and turned to the girl.
“I design clothes.” Marinette walked over. “I won one competition and designed glasses for Jagged Stone and his latest album cover.” She could not help herself but show off a little with her success.
“I wanted to design cars.” The girl started thoughtfully. “There was a competition. Students from the whole country participated. I won.” But the girl did not look happy at all as she stuttered out her explanation. “The award was to go to Pininfarina studio.” She sighed. “The war started. I never went.” She finished and continued to draw one detail on the car. She ignored the way students and the teacher looked at her, she ignore them entirely, she did not want to be marked as someone different than them, she wanted to be one of them, she wanted to belong. But she felt that after what she said she was marked. So she withdrew into herself and continued to work on her sketch.
Marinette stood there for a few moments before she decided to retreat to her place. What could she possibly say to the girl to make her feel better. She had no idea if they had such competitions in France and if Hannah had any real chance to win it.
The teacher observed the girl and the way she worked. He remembered the paintings she did in the therapy sessions he held in the community centre. The idea was that the children express themselves through drawings and paintings, they were supposed to visualise their fears, memories and happy moments, to paint how they felt like. He knew this behaviour and attitude. It was a bad time to ask her anything. Perhaps next week.
“Does she still design?” The teacher asked Marinette because it was clear to him that Hannah avoided further conversation. He expected that the girls connected over their mutual interest.
“I did not see any supplies to do that at her home yesterday.” She replied quietly. “I think she is a refugee, she has almost nothing.” Marinette was not sure if it was up to her to share the last bit of information, but they always revealed more secrets in the art class than anywhere else.
That, however, was not a new piece of information for the teacher. He met Hannah before and the girl herself explained a lot about her history to the teacher. She already trusted Marinette with some information before, she did not expect that others in the room would be paying any attention to any conversation. Rose who sat closest to Hannah was listening to some loud music.
The teacher went away and returned with a few sketchbooks and a package of pencils.
“Hannah?” The teacher spoke quietly. “I have here a few abandoned sketchbooks and a package of pencils. Please take them to sketch whenever you want.”
Hannah smiled gratefully and observed the sketchbooks. Each of them was used, but less than half of the papers were ripped away which left her more than enough papers to do whatever her imagination let her.
“Thank you!” She beamed. “But I will take only one.”
“Let me know when you need anything, please?” The teacher urged quietly not to disturb other students in the room. But it was quiet and everyone save Rose (who had headphones on and was listening to Kitty Section music) heard the whole exchange.
Marinette agreed with the girls to meet that afternoon and just hung out outside for a while. They invited Hannah but she excused herself. She had to pick up her brothers and stay at home. The girls understood. Alya was often taken with babysitting her little sisters and Marinette was taking care of Manon from time to time. Hannah smiled back. She was expected to collect her brothers and bring them home and prepare some food each day. It was always, all the time, the only time she was away from her brothers was in school. She loved her siblings, but not that much. Perhaps she could bring her brothers along? But it was a girls hanging out, no boys invited. What was she to do?
Hannah picked up her brothers and went home, she had homework and a lot of the other things to do. But she was well aware that the girls from her class were meeting that afternoon. Perhaps she could talk to her father and he just might let her go for once.
Alix was on her rollers, Marinette brought some pastries while Juleka and Rose brought juice and fruits. Mylenne and Alya were running late as both of them took a walk through the park with their respective boyfriends before they joined the girls.
“It is nice to see you and Adrien get along.” Rose smiled to Marinette. Juleka smiled too.
“He is with Kagami now.” Marinette sighed.
“Kagami had an ice cream with Adrien and left for Japan.” Alix cut in as she circled around the girls.
“It is not like that, they went out together a few more times.” Marinette defended although she did not know why.
“And how do you know?” Alix teased Marinette for her stalkerish nature.
“He invited me … and Luka too. A few times.” Marinette muttered, she glanced towards Juleka.
“You see, he still likes you.” Rose cooed.
“Yeah, he likes me. As a friend. Besides they went out together on their own, I’m sure.” Marinette deflated.
“You will be okay.” Juleka muttered.
“Besides, you have Luka now?” Alix cut in again.
“Really, what is between you and Luka? Are you two together?” Rose piped in.
“He is driving her around on his bicycle.” Juleka answered for her flustered friend.
“They are just delivering for her bakery.” Alix teased.
“He is interested in you.” Juleka smirked.
“Yes, I know. And he is nice, and we shared an ice cream and he makes me feel … nice.” Marinette groaned after that. Why was that just not enough? Why could not she be happy with just that? Why could not she forget about that boy with blonde hair and warm green eyes?
“But?” Juleka muttered. She knew from her brother that there was a but.
“But?” Rose asked Juleka. “Maybe we should organize another operation secret garden with a romantic ride by the Seine and roses thrown at you so that Marinette can fall in love?”
“But he is not Adrien.” Alix teased. Marinette clenched her fists.
“And he knows it.” Juleka muttered.
“He knows?” Rose screamed at Marinette.
“Yes, I confessed my love for Adrien in that video we sent him and he never saw, Luka saw me when I did it.” Marinette admitted.
“Why you never told us?” Rose piped back as if she slightly resented that.
“There was nothing to tell, Adrien never saw the video.” Marinette shrugged. “Luka knows and he is giving me the time to move on.” Weather or not she was capable of moving on and if it would be Luka or another boy with blonde hair and green eyes who she was thinking about in the evening was another issue that she was not about to admit.
“I am telling you girl, you should just confess to Adrien.” Alya said instead of greeting.
“I told you a hundred times already Alya. I can’t do that now, Adrien is with Kagami. I can’t steal her boyfriend while she is in Japan. She is my friend.” Marinette spoke quickly and quietly as she recited the same reply over the whole summer.
“Well then you should get together with Luka if that is how the things are set.” Alya was not giving up.
“I can’t just switch to Luka and be his girlfriend like that.” Marinette clapped her hands.
“Like that” Alya retorted. “How many weeks have passed? More than a month?”
“That would be six weeks.” Mylenne who arrived at the same time as Alya cut in. “But Marinette might need more time to just forget about him and move on.”
“Adrien did join us from time to time during the summer, she saw him.” Rose exclaimed.
“It is not like that.” Marinette sighed as she looked around. All around the city there were giant posters of Adrien. There were posters in her room. It was not like when she saw him in person, far from it, but it was not as if she could forget about the boy.
“Then how is it?” Alya demanded. She had invested herself a lot in connecting the sunshine boy and her clumsy best friend.
Marinette got the miracle box and lost Master Fu. She had responsibilities. The truth was she lost more sleep while she was learning how to be a guardian and feeling sorry for her mistakes and losing Master Fu than while thinking about boys, all three combined. And that was when Tikki suggested to just step on the ball and let her heart get a break from getting broken.
“Perhaps I am just not ready to have a boyfriend yet. Perhaps I should just treat them all as friends.” Marinette squeezed the words out from her very soul. She was determined to keep it that was at least until she felt a little better about herself.
“But” Mylenne started.
“No buts.” Marinette cut her off. “Yes I want to be more than friends but I am obviously not ready for that.” Not to mention that obviously at least one of her potential relationships resulted in the end of the world, but she could not tell them that.
“I had the impression that you really wanted ...” Alya cut in.
“No Alya, your impressions are wrong.” Marinette brushed her off a bit more harshly than she intended, but the force was not at all caused by the current discussion, it was far more a consequence of Alya’s relation to Lila.
“Look who’s talking.” Alya continued. “Your first impression of Adrien? And the next day you were in love.” She teased. “But at least you improved there, your bad first impression of Lila still lingers.”
“She got me expelled.” Marinette protested. She could see the rest of the girls agreed. They made a deal not to force Marinette to socialize with Lila nor to make amends, they knew Marinette was the one who would offer a hand for peace, she did it with Chloe.
“But now you find Hannah so nice and she is obviously bad news for our class.” Alya continued undeterred by Marinette’s protest.
“What?” Marinette screamed.
“How?” Juleka muttered while Rose supported the claim.
“Why?” Alix demanded.
“Well, none of you were there, but Lila told me ...” Alya was talking but Marinette felt her brain was swelling. She was right, Lila was targeting Hannah. It was as clear as a day. Alya was explaining some elaborate conspiracy theory.
“She wants to be a designer too, she also won some competition, just like Marinette.” Alix grinned, she overheard the conversation during the art class.
“You see, Marinette, she wants to steal everything you have, she wants to be a designer, just like you, she is after Adrien, just like you ...” Alya was talking.
“She is not after Adrien.” Marinette protested although she was not exactly sure that was true.
“Soon, before you know it, Hannah will steal all your friends and you will have nobody, you will be all alone and she will be there to laugh at you.” Alya continued her speech.
Marinette glared at her best friend before her face assumed the expression of pity. She knew exactly who put those words in Alya’s mouth. Her strong, independent and confident best friend was now just a puppet and Lila was pulling the strings.
Marinette blamed herself, so often she had to escape her meetings with Alya and run away to transform to Ladybug and fight the akuma, she was tired from studying the miracle box, she had too many worries in her head to be able to stay close to her best friend, and Lila jumped to the opportunity. But Lila was no friend, she merely gave away that false first impression.
Remember, Alya was not in the art room when Hannah spoke to the teacher and imagine Rose heard what happened from others although she has headphones.
The next chapter is mostly about Adrien and girl problems.
Chapter 10: Gifts
Adrien finally clarifies some stuff with Nino and contemplates different girls in his life and decides to help one of them just because he could.
More misunderstandings resolved :)
And some are intentionally left unresolved in the end
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Adrien had fun time with Nino, Ivan, Juleka and Mylenne in the music room. He was surprised that Rose was not there, but he was explained that although the girl was in fact writing text for music, she decided not to join the literature art group in the library nor the music group with the larger part of her band, but a visual art group where she apparently enjoyed more freedom.
“So dude, Kagami is your girlfriend now?” Nino asked Adrien not so subtly and rather obviously instructed by Alya to do so. They finished their music session and were walking towards the lockers followed by girls who could not help but eavesdrop once they heard the question Nino asked. They were the last students left in school as they missed the final bell due to the music (or noise) they were producing at the time.
“I don’t know yet.” Adrien rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s complicated.”
“Why? Because she left for Japan?” Nino inquired reluctantly, the boy was not so eager to pry in his best friends love life, but he was instructed by his girlfriend, okay. They were collecting their stuff from lockers.
“No, it is not that.” The blonde model shut the door to his locker a bit more loudly than he wanted. “Besides she returns this week.”
“Okay, so you are getting back together then?” Nino concluded awkwardly and just wanted some kind of confirmation to be able to have something to say to Alya.
“I guess you could see it that way.” Adrien shrugged. Nino felt guilty for asking his friend like that, his best bro was obviously not happy with this conversation.
“Listen, the girls are having their girls hang out, are you up to some online gaming?” Nino quickly changed the subject.
“Nope, photo shoot, sorry.” Adrien shook his head.
“Well I have Chris duty today until after dinner anyway.” Nino shrugged.
“I’d really prefer a gaming session.” The model boy added apologetically. “At least I am having the shoot alone today.”
“What do you mean? ” Nino inquired “I thought you preferred to have photo shoots with Lila.”
“What?” Adrien practically shouted. “No! Never!” Then he schooled himself. “I do not like the photo shoots with Lila, I have to do it though, she is my father’s muse, not mine.” The boy clarified.
Nino adjusted his red hat nervously.
“Sorry dude, I just thought … well in fact, Lila said ...” Nino fiddled with his cap.
Adrien glared back, then sighed, then shook his head, then looked again sadly.
“I’m just sorry dude.” Nino concluded.
The car was already waiting in front of school and Adrien waved goodbye to Nino, Ivan, Mylenne, Juleka and Rose (the last one waited in front of school for Juleka).
“All that talk about your girlfriends made me hungry.” Plagg complained as soon as he could.
“Lila is not my girlfriend and you know it.” Adrien glared at his kwami and did not even begin to reach for the cheese.
Plagg gulped, the tiny god of destruction managed to annoy his chosen so much that even his endless source of smelly cheese was suddenly endangered. But perhaps it was worth it. Plagg never liked the deal Adrien made with the devil. He would have preferred different solutions and would not even mind transforming for any of them.
“And Kagami is?” The tiny black cat continued.
“I don’t know yet, Plagg. It doesn’t feel that way.” Adrien sighed. “I always imagined it differently, having a girlfriend, going on dates, being in love, … I always imagined it more intense, more romantic, more … and I should feel differently when I am on a date with her, but I don’t. It is just nice, it is nice, I mean I like her, I like spending time with her.” The boy was talking to himself now and even absent mindedly produced a triangle of cheese for his forever hungry kwami.
“It is not the same as I feel when I am near Ladybug.” The boy sighed and gave the cheese to Plagg. They stopped at the mansion, he had half an hour before he had to go for the photo shoot, they needed the sun really low.
That afternoon Adrien located the books with audio exercises that helped him to pronounce words correctly when he was a child. He let out a tear or two when he remembered his mother and how they practised together. They also had a trained professional who did the exercises with him, but his mother always repeated a few with him on her own. He had a photo shoot that afternoon and asked his bodyguard to start early. He took the books and stopped in front of the building he visited yesterday. His bodyguard insisted to follow him inside. Adrien climbed all the way up. The stairs and the corridors were full of people. They spoke in different languages, he understood non of them, some were chatting, other were arguing, loudly, children screamed and whined. The building was full of noise. His bodyguard frowned, grunted and seemed displeased, his eyes lingered on people they passed and he listened to the spoken words. The man obviously knew where he was ans who these people were.
Adrien knocked on the door. One of the brothers opened the door, greeted with a smile anc called for his sister while he urged the two to enter.
“Hi Hannah.” The boy greeted sheepishly. “I found these in my room. You can keep them for as long as you need them.”
The girl stared at the books. She frowned until she recognized the first one. Then she smiled.
“Oh Adrien. Thank you so much.” She was truly touched by what he did. “Please enter. I can make you something.” She took a step back but then she noticed the huge man behind his back and her eyes were wide and slightly scared.
“This is my bodyguard.” Adrien introduced the large man.
“Bodyguard?” She asked incredulously. She was not certain if the word could mean something else.
“Yeah. Sorry, I can’t come in. Photo shoot. Some other time?” The boy asked with a warm smile. Hannah nodded, but inside she was crumbling.
She said her greeting with a sad smile and a nod to the large man. Adrien left with a strange feeling in his gut. He walked out from the building next to his bodyguard. He looked at the large man as they approached the car. The large man was crying.
Hannah was happy about the books, but the pang of pain spoiled her joy. She was sad. Because her classmate was too scared to go to her home without a bodyguard.
Adrien was expected to play the piano after dinner, but the moment Nathalie left the boy played one of his practices on the phone, sent a message to Nino from his computer and logged into his game. It took about ten seconds for Nino to respond. They played and talked until Nino got a message from Alya about an akuma attack.
Chat Noir saw Ladybug before they found an akuma. She smiled at him widely when she noticed him.
“Good evening, M.. Ladybug.” Chat Noir grinned back. She made his heart flutter, she made him breathe faster and he knew he was in love. He just knew. But she told him there was another boy, then she switched to they can’t be together (which fist made him happy because she did not mention the boy nor the absence of her feelings, and then it made him sad because that meant even if she did return his feelings, she would not consider a romantic relationship with him just because they were superheroes).
“Good evening Chat.” She returned fondly. There he was, her partner and her friend. And even if she felt something more for him (which she was not, she could not, it would lead to a disaster) she would never act on it, she could forget about her love life for a while and just concentrate on the akuma, that was how she survived the summer and Tikki praised her for her methods.
The akuma was composed of two people tied together by their backs. They shot rope that would tie two persons together. They were mostly couples in their evening romantic walks, but sometimes it was just two random strangers who got tied up together.
“We are Coupler!” Akuma shouted.”We will make couples from all of you singles out there.”
“Don’t you think some people prefer to stay single?” Chat Noir taunted as he deflected one piece of rope from two random persons in the street who then escaped to a building nearby.
“They all told us that we can’t be single, that we are too old for that, that we should be a couple.” The akuma shouted while they threw ropes towards Chat Noir.
“That sounds familiar.” Ladybug muttered loud enough that Chat could hear it. He turned towards her. She realized her mistake, she did not want to hurt him nor to shame him for the crush he used to have on her. His face and his smile fell and he was obviously distracted and saddened.
“Sorry, Chat, I didn’t mean ...” Ladybug jumped towards him. And that was when a piece of rope wrapped around both of them.
“There, I finally made a couple from you two.” The akuma celebrated. Unfortunately, superheroes noticed that many civilians around them cheered too.
“This must be a dream come true for you Chat Noir.” The akuma taunted as they approached closer.
“Sorry Bug.” Chat muttered.
“It is okay Chaton, I should not have said that.” She whispered.
“But you think that.” He shook his head sadly.
“No, no Chat, this is not about you, it is … it is about my civilian life and this is not the time.” She whispered as she tried to squeeze herself out from the magical rope that only seem to hold them together tighter.
“And I am sure this is something you Ladybug were wishing for although you pretended otherwise.” The akuma taunted while violet mask glowed on their head(s).
To the utter surprise of Chat Noir, Ladybug blushed. He was too close not to see it.
“Go and take their miraculous.” Hawk Moth instructed the akuma from his lair.
“The akuma must be in the clothes that connects them.” She whispered as she watched the akuma, she refused to look at her partner while she was blushing like that.
“Can you destroy the rope without injuring us?” Ladybug whispered.
“Can you call your lucky charm like this?” He whispered back.
The akuma was defeated within a minute. A couple stood there dazed and confused.
“I don’t understand what happened.” The man said.
“We got akumatized, that’s what happened.” The woman sighed.
“But we were having our dinner date.” The man shrugged.
“And we were both annoyed because our friends and family made us go for a date and kept pestering us over the phone on how it was going.” She reminded the man.
“Oh yes, I remember. It was awful.” The man replied. “Look, you are a nice person and my friend, but I just got divorced and I think this was too soon for me, my life is too complicated as it is.”
“And my boyfriend of ten years moved out only a month ago, I do not need another relationship right now.” She sighed. “Besides, I wanted to work on my career, that is why he left anyway.”
“Yeah, why don’t we just make a deal to hang out from time to time, no dates no romance?” The man offered his hand and she shook it.
“Looks like they don’t need us to help them.” Ladybug whispered. Chat agreed. They bumped their fists and left.
Wednesday morning was rainy. Marinette was barely on time for school. She ran through the school door when she noticed Chloe latched onto Adrien in her usual greeting. Lila was on the other side of the hall and enjoyed her usual dose of attention.
Adrien pulled Chloe along as he went towards the locker room. Chloe finally switched her attention onto Sabrina for some homework.
Marinette ran towards the locker room. She found Hannah there. She was hugging a few books and stared in the empty space before her unaware of anything that was going on around her.
“What is wrong?” Marinette asked quietly after the usual morning greeting.
“You can visit me. It is safe. It is not dangerous. Those people have nothing. But they are not dangerous. Okay. We are not dangerous.” The girl was almost crying.
“What happened? Did anyone ...” Marinette trailed off.
Adrien heard the conversation from the other side of the locker room and sneaked over.
“Adrien came with bodyguard to visit me yesterday.” The girl was not sure how to phrase the sentence and stopped between words a few times. “He is afraid of me.”
“No.” Marinette smiled. “He is not allowed to go around without his bodyguard. And I came with my parents because I wanted to bring you pastry and they sort of tagged along. We are not afraid of you.”
Hannah understood the meaning although she did not understand all the words. She smiled back.
“You are not scared of me?” She asked quietly.
“No” Marinette waved her head.
“We are not afraid of you.” Adrien whispered from his spot.
Hannah visibly shuddered from the surprise.
“Sorry to scare you.” The boy smiled gently.
Marinette was blushing. Hannah was shivering. The boy scratched the back of his neck.
“Were the books okay?” He asked finally.
Hannah nodded. Marinette looked between the two, confused.
“Adrien brought me books I wanted from the library. I can return these.” Hannah smiled. “Actually we should returned them. You borrowed three books. For me. Thank you.”
“Your French is getting better and better.” Marinette smiled.
“Thank you.” Hannah returned. She knew written French and she trained herself to read, but she only started to practice the real conversations once she started going to school.
The three of them went to the class together. Adrien explained that Hannah could keep the books because he did not need them any more. Hannah was still finding words to express her gratitude to Adrien for the very nice present she got from him when they entered the classroom.
“Hi dude, What’s up?” Nino greeted his best bro.
“Hannah is just really grateful for a little gift I brought to her home yesterday.” Adrien spoke with a huge grin. The words somehow cut through the classroom. Alya and Nino stared at Adrien. The girls took their seats with smiles and greetings for their classmates. Lila glared at both of them, she wanted to scratch the skin off the girl who sat just in front of her. Her usual pony tail of her messy and curly (because of the wet weather) brown hair was especially irritating that morning. But she glared for a few seconds too long, because half the class noticed it.
This is just something I thing Adrien would do.
The next chapter will deal with plenty of wrong conclusions and one of the things Hannah lied about (and why).
Chapter 11: Getting Into Trouble
Marinette and Adrien learn about one thing Hannah lied about (not to them).
There is some bashing of principal Damocles, if you squint, and Ms Bustier too, although she is not even mentioned.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Getting into trouble
“What was that?” Alya mouthed first to Adrien (who turned forward towards the teacher with a smug smile), then to Nino (who shrugged) and then to Marinette who mouthed back ‘later’ (but never explained). Chloe was trying to get Adrien’s attention, but the boy stared at a random point in front of him with a smug smile and did not react to anybody. Perhaps he was aware what kind of commotion he just initiated, perhaps he enjoyed the way Lila was hyperventilating in the back row, perhaps he felt Chloe shift in her seat, but he produced no reaction. Marinette noticed the strange reaction of her classmates, she was arranging her things on the desk when it finally occurred to her why, what Adrien said and the way he said it, of course everyone misinterpreted it, she almost laughed, she looked at the blonde hair in front of her and smiled gently.
That morning they had English. Hannah had no issues with the language, she finally understood ... until the teacher started to clarify the problem in French. She raised her hand and asked for clarification in English. She asked the question in English. She picked up her accent from watching documentaries so she sounded rather good. The teacher just stared back confused. Then she repeated the instructions.
“You are expected to write a few sentences about your past, then about your present and then about your future and use as many different tenses as possible.” The teacher repeated the instructions. Hannah smiled gratefully and thanked the teacher.
This time she produced a few pages of text easily. She signed her sheet and handed it over to Marinette who passed all the papers forward to Adrien for the teacher to collect.
After that, the teacher explained about the English literature assignment and what they were supposed to do. This time the teacher insisted on explaining everything in English and Hannah was happy. Most of the students had no issues with that, they either understood or relied on their classmates to help them with a detail or ten.
Lila glared at Hannah, not because she did not understand what the teacher was explaining, not because French was already her second language and English was the third so she understandably had issues, not because her classmates would not help her, heck she could easily make a few of them do the assignments for her, it was because that new girl, it was her who insisted that the English class is held in … well … English. How dare she?
The teacher was distributing the English literature assignment. Each of them got to pull a piece of paper from a hat to determine which book to study. The deadline was in one month which left them plenty of time to do it. But Lila just pulled her paper and buried her anger while other people were watching her.
“She prevented the teacher from giving us proper instructions.” Lila whined during the break to anyone who would listen. Rose consoled the offended Italian while Juleka promised to help with the assignment.
The akuma alert rang through the school. That meant that the akuma was inside the school. The students dispersed. Hannah stood in the middle of the wide hallway. She had no idea where was one supposed to hide from an akuma. She knew about shelters and basements, she spent a year in basements.
During her months in Paris, she would simply hide with her brothers to a building nearby and wait for it to pass, or run back home. But in most of the cases, she was already home or in the community centre and there was no need to go anywhere. She finally decided to try the library which was on the other side of the school building.
“Hey” someone whisper shouted from her back. She turned around. There was a boy dressed in black catsuit, complete with ears and tail. She saw Chat Noir before, but only on blurry videos on her phone and a few photos on her computer. This was the first time she saw the hero in person.
“Chat Noir.” She whispered excitedly and ducked down close to the floor. Because if he was there, then the danger was nearby and she knew what to do.
“You should hide.” He whispered when he reached her. She considered herself hidden already.
“I was going to the library.” She replied with a grin and sneaked towards her target with practice. Chat Noir stared at the way she crawled close to the floor while she kept her bag on her back. She resembled a cat. A kitten perhaps because she was so much shorter than the hero.
“Is the library safe?” She asked on her way. She forgot that the akuma might be there.
“I will check for you.” Chat offered.
Ladybug swung in just just in front of the library door and rolled inside. Chat dragged Hannah along to the safety of the library.
“Well hello My Lady.” Chat greeted. “Is it safe to leave a civilian in here.” The akuma attack from the last night encouraged him to try and use the nickname again.
“Please go and hide.” Ladybug told Hannah and motioned towards rows of books. Nobody had to tell her twice. The two heroes exchanged the information about the akuma. Ladybug called her lucky charm and got a spotted book. Then she tore out a leaf and made a paper plane. They stuck some ink cartridges they found in the desk and ran out to deal with the akuma.
Hannah found a desk in the back and looked for her book for the English assignment. She was already reading and started making notes when the signal that the akuma alert was withdrawn sounded through the school five minutes later.
Hannah took the book and found the librarian who was hiding under her desk. She managed to return the books for Marinette and one for herself and borrow the one she needed for her English assignment. The librarian studied the girl intently. Hannah felt her eyes on her and hunched her shoulders a little.
Marinette burst into the library. Librarian was less than thrilled by her manners and gave her a warning look before she turned back to Hannah. But Marinette took it all with a smile. She was obviously looking for Hannah and was relieved to find the girl safe and sound. The two of them exchanged greetings and Marinette went to look for her English book when Adrien rain inside. The librarian was not amused by the second student who burst in. Mostly because the woman flinched at every sudden move, especially after an akuma attack in the same school.
“You okay?” The boy asked. Hannah nodded.
“Marinette is looking for a book.” She pointed behind her.
“Oh I could help her and find my own in the process.” The boy disappeared in the back.
The librarian kept looking at the girl before her.
“You are not French?” The librarian asked in a no nonsense kind of way.
“I am not a citizen of France.” Hannah shook her head.
“When have you moved over here?” She continued.
“Few months ago.” Hannah smiled warily. It was exactly two months and twenty one days, but who counted.
Marinette just located her book that was on the top shelf and unreachable. Therefore she needed the ladder. She located the ladder and was climbing when Adrien startled her. She fell. He caught her. She blushed. He smiled and let her stand on her own two feet. She climbed back. He was looking for his book and noticed it on the same shelf but a metre away from Marinette’s book. He decided the ladder was close enough and climbed up after her. Both of them almost tumbled down. In the end, two books were on the floor, the ladder was on the floor. And two teenagers were hanging off from a bookshelf that was fortunately screwed into the wall. They carefully climbed down the shelves as if they were using it as the ladder. Adrien had practice, he had the climbing wall in his room, but he wondered why usually clumsy Marinette safely climbed down a few metres of bookshelves.
They picked up their books, fixed the ladder and walked back to the librarian in silence. The librarian was still interrogating the new girl.
“I have checked your data against the documents I got from the ministry and from the city shelter. They don’t match. How old are you?” The librarian demanded.
“Thirteen.” The girl replied timidly. The truth was that she was twelve. She was not yet thirteen. But she wanted to take the high school exam, so she lied in one application inspired by her mother who congratulated her on her birthday that she was a difficult teenager now because she entered her thirteenth year. For whatever that was supposed to mean. Because Hannah knew she was not a difficult teenager. At least not yet. Save the fact that she wanted to skip a year or two in school, she started the school early in her country.
The woman scrolled through the database in her computer.
“You are twelve.” She replied calmly.
“Almost thirteen.” Hannah negotiated.
“You just had your birthday six weeks ago whichever year you were actually born.” The woman replied calmly.
Her two classmates stood frozen behind her.
“How did you get in this school?” The librarian raised her eyebrows.
“My science scores were excellent.” Hannah replied proudly. She knew how to say that with confidence.
“How excellent?” The librarian raised her eyebrows.
“I got the maximum number of points.” She shrugged. “And I took the test for high school.”
“That is why you have given wrong year of birth to the ministry.” The librarian concluded. “Well if you got here based on the ministry evaluation tests, then I have nothing against you.” The woman smiled at the terrified girl.
Hannah let out a breath, slowly, this danger had passed, apparently. She could not believe her luck when principal Damocles took her without verifying her data, this was to be expected, of course someone validated her inputs against databases that are commonly available to the school staff.
Adrien stared at the girl before him. Hannah was twelve? She was short and, frankly, could easily pass as a boy, she had absolutely no features on her body that would define her as a girl. Puberty did not touch her yet, such girls often modelled clothes for both boys and girls, he remembered a few of them. The only feature that showed that she was a girl was her hair tied up in a messy pony tail, but even that was unreliable. Yes, twelve, he believed that was her real age. That meant she lied to the librarian at first, but if her data was mixed up, maybe she was just covering up?
Marinette frowned. So this girl lied to the librarian about her age. Maybe it was just a mistake? People in different countries expressed their age differently. On the other hand, excellent score in a science test was obviously true, she had demonstrated her knowledge rather clearly. She looked at Adrien and mouthed ‘Did she lie?’. The boy knew how much Marinette hated liars, and he did not want her to hate Hannah. He just shrugged. She shrugged back. They both understood she lied, but not why. It was a stupid lie anyway.
Hannah took her book and only then noticed her two classmates. She was scared. How much have they heard. Do they know she is a liar now? She lied about her age only to be able to take the exam she wanted, it was not the first lie she had to make to be able to survive this long.
“You took that ministry tests? I was taking them too.” Adrien smiled, he was not about to judge her before he knew the rest of her story and he expected there was a lot to it.
Hannah nodded and smiled, perhaps her classmates did not hate her for her lie, or they did not hear that. She looked at Marinette expectantly, she wanted some kind of approval or understanding.
“You should team up with Max in the science and technology workshop.” Marinette smiled, she wanted to give this girl a chance, no prejudice, no jumping to conclusions.
“Max Kante?” Hannah asked surprised by her two classmates.
“Yes, we have a tech workshop here in the afternoon, please come and join us.” The librarian adjusted her glasses.
“We are mostly playing video games.” Adrien winked.
Hannah looked at the boy warily. She had few opportunities to play simple games on her phone. They had a game room in the community centre, but she considered that a waste of time because that was her only opportunity to learn outside of her new home.
“Marinette here is an expert. She could teach you a few tricks.” Adrien grinned and threw an arm around his blushing classmate.
“Well, let me register those books. I believe you have a class to go to now.” The librarian scanned the barcodes and sent them on their way.
The three of them were slightly late. But that was okay. There was an akuma attack in the school. Their math teacher started talking to entertain a few students who were already in the classroom.
“Sorry we are late, Monsieur Poincare.” Adrien greeted while all three of them took their seats.
“Thank you for joining us. We are trying to remember what we learned the last school year.” The teacher continued to go through the items quickly. “You can pick up your worksheets now and work on them until lunch. You can ask if you do not understand anything. If you do not solve them until lunch, you can have them for homework.” The teacher was obviously rather relaxed about his review exam.
Alya and Nino were there, Max and Kim too. Alix appeared with Mylenne, Juleka and Rose. Soon the class was almost complete. By lunch break, the only one missing was Lila.
Hannah was the first one to get on her feet. She walked down the stairs and carried her sheets proudly. Everyone expected she was going to ask how to solve a particular problem. But she just handed over her worksheet.
“Mademoiselle?” The teacher called after she turned around and started to walk away.
Hannah stopped and turned back to the teacher.
“Yes?” She asked warily.
“What is your name?” The teacher asked with a gentle smile.
“Hannah” She replied quietly.
“You forgot to write your name here.” The teacher smiled. She quickly walked back and wrote her name on the paper.
“Thank you.” The teacher smiled and flipped through the pages. The pages were filled with heat handwriting.
Few minutes later Max paraded down the stairs and handed over his worksheets. He made sure he signed them before he climbed back. He fixed his glasses as he looked at the new girl.
“I bet she got her answers wrong.” Kim nudged Alix.
“I bet she got her answers better than Max.” Alix returned. And the bet was on.
The bell sounded as Adrien jumped to his feet and handed over his assignment. Alix followed just after him. Marinette raised her hand to notify she would like just five more minutes. She did not expect to have the time for this additional homework. The rest of the class decided to finish the tasks as homework and hand them over later.
“I will have you know that only two percent of students my age are able to solve those problems faster than me.” Max said proudly. “That is according to Markov’s calculations.”
Marinette blinked. Adrien furrowed his brows. If Hannah solved her problems correctly, they would have to keep her real age from Max, otherwise the boy might get akumatized into some kind of a mathematical monster instead of a gamer 3.0.
“Markov?” Hannah asked with a smile.
The robot floated out from Max’s school bag.
“Hello Hannah. My name is Markov.” The robot recited politely.
“You are a robot?” The girl grinned happily.
“He is also a person. He has artificial intelligence. He is able to solve problems on his own.” Max stated proudly. “I created him, but now he is able to develop himself on his own.”
“Wow. Fantastic.” Hannah was obviously impressed.
Lila entered the classroom after the bell as if she was waiting for the class to finish, and she was not happy. She needed, no, she wanted Max to solve her worksheet for math and not chat with the new girl about his robot.
“How are you Markov?” Hannah asked happily as she stretched out her hand towards the hovering robot as if she wanted to shake hands with him.
“Very well and how are you?” Markov replied.
“Very well. Thank you.” Hannah smiled.
Lila glared at the scene until she noticed Alya saw her, she quickly schooled her face, grabbed Alya and started to mutter something how she was worried about Max and how Hannah was about to steal Markov from the boy.
“Hey Max.” Adrien spoke. “Hannah here is a good candidate for our science and technology workshop.”
“I would agree.” Max adjusted his glasses as he replied to Adrien but looked at Hannah.
“You can play games or discuss science.” Marinette added.
“Would you like to join us?” Max asked.
“I do. I mean. I want. Yes.” Hannah smiled.
The four of them left the classroom and chatted about the workshop while they were eating their lunch on a bench in one of the school hallways. Hannah was very excited about Markov, especially when the tiny robot started to form sentences in her own language.
The tech activities in the library have proven to be a gamer reunion. Hannah observed how they played, but she never held a gaming console in her hands before. She was given a try but she failed, she lost each game very quickly, Marinette let her at least make a few moves before everyone else groaned to cut it out and let someone else play. The class president tried to give the new girl more chance and begged, but finally she had to relent and kill her player. Hannah smiled and gave the console to Max. Then she observed a real fight. Marinette won again. Then Adrien took Max’s place and the boy explained how he created the game.
Hannah asked about the programming languages and algorithmics solutions, she asked about computing and graphic processor units. She spoke about binary and hexadecimal system conversions. Her French was bad, but she did not care, she was so engrossed with technology that she did not even notice that she was having a conversation with Markov, while Max retreated to have an argument with Alix about how should one compute someone’s speed while racing on a curved path. The two teenagers were in the middle of a heated debate about the radius of the curve and the width of a lane when the bell announced the end of the school day.
I did not want to repeat the 'if you and I know the truth, does it really matter?' scene exactly, but it is there, sort of.
Why would Adrien and MArinette give Hannah the benefit of the doubt? They are biased to have more faith in her, and adult accepted her and it is not as if they both do not lie from time to time (identities).
Chapter 12: Friendly Competition
Adrien has fencing with Kagami and Marinette spends more time with Hannah.
Thank you for the comments!
There are major differences between why and how different people lied here, the question is how different characters see and accept those differences.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannah greeted everyone and told them she had to pick up her brothers from school. That was the first time the rest of the class learned that she had brothers. Many of them were confused.
“But Lila said ...” Kim and Max protested, but they silenced themselves when Adrien and Marinette spoke almost in unison.
“Send greetings to Robbie and Eddie.” Adrien smiled. “And tell them I told them to exercise French with you.” Adrien left for fencing with a greeting to all his gamer buddies.
“Tell them I will bring the pastries later.” Marinette smiled. Alya nudged her and raised her eyebrows. “You’ll meet them.” Marinette told Alya and turned back to the console.
Students exchanged several confused glances and shrugs. Alya was typing on her phone. The rest of the group chatted and played games until the librarian sent them away to close for the day.
Adrien found Kagami ready for the fencing practice. She greeted him with a warm smile and “You are late.”
“Hi Kagami. Nice to see you back from Japan. How was it?” The boy asked politely as he put on his own fencing gear.
“It was nice. I met my relatives. We fenced.” The girl shrugged. “We visited several temples and walked by the sea.”
“Sounds nice.” Adrien beamed.
“What is new in Paris?” Kagami inquired.
“Nothing much.” The boy shrugged. “Different akuma each day.”
“How is school?” The girl asked further.
“There is a new girl in my class.” Adrien beamed with joy.
Kagami smiled weirdly and frowned at the same time.
“What is she like?” She asked, but then she changed her mind. “Never mind. We have fencing practice to go to.”
“Yeah. I was getting a bit rusty with you away.” The boy teased.
Adrien surprised Kagami with his new evasive manoeuvres, the boy also had a new trick or two on the way how to strike a point. But Kagami obviously spent her holidays on more practise. She evaded his new tricks with ease. After intensive exchange of determined but missed or evaded attacks, both of them stopped.
“I see you practised a lot.” Adrien gasped out of breath.
“Um yeah, you too.” Kagami grinned. She did not look out of breath, she looked rather composed and not tired at all.
They drank their water and exchanged a few glances before monsieur Dagencourt ordered to continue the duel.
They tried to strike and evaded the opponents attempts.
“This is so frustrating.” Kagami complained.
“What?” Adrien evaded a strike and almost scored in return, but Kagami evaded the move at a split second, the boy was not even sure how she did it.
“I’d rather be hit than have an indecisive duel.” She groaned.
“Well, I can work on that.” Adrien tried to strike, twice, with surprising new moves, but Kagami evaded all his attempts. She placed her foil defensively so Adrien had to jump back.
“Not good enough.” Kagami taunted. Adrien tried harder. He was not about to give in and let her have her victory, he trained during the summer, obviously she trained too.
The fencing practise was finished and they were free to go to the locker room, but Kagami was full of poorly contained frustration.
“I hope you did not expect me to give in to your attacks.” Adrien teased.
She turned her face away and left for her locker. Adrien shrugged and turned away to change.
The words Adrien spoke stung her like a foil. She replayed the events in her head when she tried to kiss him and he evaded, he said he was not ready yet, he was not sure if he wanted that. He was not sure the first time, he was not sure the second time they went for ice cream with his classmates, although he was nice and gentle and smiled and wiped ice cream off from her face. Then they had a few more of those friendly dates where they would meet, just the two of them or with his friends and he made no move or he actively evaded her move. She liked him. He knew that she liked him. He either wanted her or did not want her, why was he so indecisive? If he wanted Marinette or someone else, even Chloe or that Lila girl, he should just say so, she would have accepted it, well maybe she would have hard time to accept Lila, she got akumatized over her once already. She was probably really close to become akumatized after she saw the photos of Adrien and Lila from that photo shoot.
Kagami liked Marinette, they were friends, they both liked the same boy and yet Marinette let her have him. Did she hurt Marinette when she took Adrien for herself? Well, Marinette hesitated, Kagami never did that. Perhaps she did not like Adrien that much and let Kagami have him while she decided to go for Luka? Marinette did share that ice cream with Luka. Kagami did not have much time nor any opportunity to talk about it with Marinette. She assumed the other girl was okay with it. Why else would she let Kagami go after her crush.
It was Adrien who was not giving in to her advances, it was Adrien whom she had to win over. She closed her duffel bag and looked for the boy.
Adrien went to his locker bouncing on his feet, he was full of energy after the exhausting fight, or it was just his feet that wanted to run, run away from Kagami and not face the issues between them.
The boy fed his kwami and got out from his gear. He distracted himself with his phone while he waited for Kagami to appear. There were numerous messages from his classmates who asked about Hannah, how long he knew her, about her brothers and what gift had he brought to her and was he in fact in her home. The boy typed a short and generic reply that he could send to all inquires. He knew that would not be sufficient for Chloe. He ignored Lila.
“What are you smiling about?” Kagami asked when she finally appeared.
“Oh, just writing something about Hannah.” He replied absent mindedly.
“Hannah?” Kagami frowned.
“The new classmate.” Adrien smiled.
“The car is waiting for me already, I have some obligations with my mother, but can we meet tomorrow?” Kagami asked rater emotionlessly.
“Oh, we can meet tomorrow then.” The boy smiled hopefully. He wanted to spend time with his friend. “Have a walk, talk about our holidays?” He wanted to make it another friendly date, just like they used to have. He met her gaze, she smiled, there was a hint of longing and something else.
“Yes, tomorrow, we can meet in the park.” Kagami confirmed, how she wished she could just know already if they are together or not, was he her boyfriend, did he ever intended to be one, could he see her that way? She turned away and left.
Adrien took his duffel bag and walked away. He could already hear Plagg teasing him about his girlfriends, but he shook his head and smiled, his friend was back, the school was back, he had a new classmate and he was less lonely than a week ago.
Marinette went home before the library closing time.
“Hi maman, papa.” She greeted. “Today I learned that Hannah is really twelve.” She spoke in one breath. Tom was surprised but her mother simply shrugged. “She is almost two years younger than me. No wonder she has so many problems with school.”
“Does she really have other problems than her limited knowledge of French?” Sabine asked with a knowing smile.
“Um, probably no.” Marinette shrugged.
“Then it was right to put her in your class. If she would not be able to follow, they can easily move her one class below.” Sabine continued.
“That actually makes sense.” The girl shrugged.
“Why don’t you take her some pastries. Your father already has a box full of the ugly specimens. Perhaps she could help you with something while you help her with French?” Sabine proposed with an encouraging smile. There was something in her eyes and her face that showed that the woman knew how someone who struggled in a new country felt.
Marinette smiled widely. She had two review sheets, the online one for grammar and completely empty in biology. Of course she could use a little help, but she wanted to solve her problems on her own. She picked up the pastries that were deemed not for sale and took them with her. Less than ten minutes later Hannah opened the door to her with a huge welcoming smile. She did check for the presence of a bodyguard or a huge father nearby first.
The girls had fun. Hannah did try to explain how she solved one of the problems in math. She struggled in her speech, she was making many mistakes, but she also spoke more freely.
Then Marinette persuaded Hannah to work on the online worksheet for grammar. It turned out Hannah could solve a lot on her own, but there were tasks she just did not know how to start.
“You helped me with French I want to help you with science.” Hannah pushed. Apparently both girls preferred to solve their own problems, but somehow, this was more fun. Biology was something where Hannah knew more than was written in books, she probably picked it up from her parents.
Hannah’s brothers were working on their own homework at the same table and they chatted between themselves while the girls were solving their worksheets.
“How old are your brothers?” Marinette asked as she was suddenly aware she did not know.
“Nine and ten.” She replied while she pointed at the two boys. They were of the same height and build, they had the same brown hair cut in the same hairstyle (later Marinette learned that it was because Hannah cut their hair and knew how to get only one style) only the colour of their eyes was different.
“How old are you?” One of the boys blurted.
“Fourteen.” Marinette smiled.
“Hannah is twelve.” The other brother smirked.
That made both girls silent for a moment. The boy grinned, both of her brothers knew how their sister lied to get accepted to school, and not only that.
“So you are really twelve?” Marinette asked out of the blue.
“Yes.” Hannah confirmed. “I had to be thirteen to take the test for high school.” She added and looked at her classmate. It started to make sense to Marinette.
“So you cheated in your application data. Why are you in my class?” Marinette asked suddenly. It sounded far worse once she spoke than it was in her head. “I mean, you could be with younger kids and ...”
“I would be bored.” Hannah shrugged. “I started school early. Back home. I learned a lot of math and sciences and English.” The girl continued to explain herself.
“Prodigy.” One boy said half mockingly.
“Scholarship” The other boy teased.
“I learned a lot. On my own. From books.” The girl glared at her brothers. “There was not much else to do.”
“You remind me of Adrien so much.” Marinette smiled gently.
“Is he your boyfriend?” One of the boys asked.
“Sh!” Hannah shushed her brothers.
“No.” Marinette sighed dreamily. “Just a friend.” She continued with a hint of sadness in her voice.
“You want him?” Hannah asked timidly. “Sorry I did not ...”
“Yes.” Marinette admitted. “But he does not know. And he has a girlfriend. Kagami. She is a fencer.”
“There is another boy who likes me.” Marinette added.
“Do you like him?” Hannah asked curiously.
“I don’t know. Not like that. But maybe yes. I want to try.” Marinette was lost in her thoughts.
Hannah was not sure if she heard correctly.
“What? Why?” She blurted.
Marinette asked herself why she wanted to try a relationship with Luka. Yes she liked him, but not the same way as Adrien, then again it was not the same way she liked Nino, for example, who was definitely her friend. She had no clue what she felt for Luka. Perhaps it was a bad idea to become his girlfriend while she was not sure how she felt.
“I don’t know.” She muttered. “It’s complicated.” She added.
Hannah nodded, she agreed, it was complicated, all that falling in love stuff was complicated and looked rather like an unnecessary waste of time.
“I will never have a boyfriend.” The girl exclaimed. “I will be a scientist.” (Bear in mind that Hannah is not a teenager yet, did not even start with puberty and had other problems than boys in her life, these things change).
“That is not the way it works.” Marinette frowned.
“It will work that way for me.” Hannah smiled confidently.
Marinette was surprised by the girl. Again.
Hannah resumed typing solutions into her worksheet while Marinette was busy contemplating what she just heard. She could easily say (at least to herself) that she was too busy being Ladybug and Guardian to have the time and the energy to fall in love, especially since there are secrets she was expected to keep. She looked at that determined girl by her side. Hannah was clever, she was good at science and math, perhaps Marinette should take on her example. She contemplated that for a while (and her decision to do so only lasted until she saw the next photo of Adrien when she made herself think of Luka and an image of Chat passed through her mind and she groaned and pulled her pigtails and complained to Tikki about her treacherous heart).
Hannah reached the end of her worksheet and started to frantically turn the pages in the book. There were plenty of problems left unsolved, and she needed help. Marinette pointed to the page where one of the rules was explained, but Hannah still struggled on what to write. They solved the problems together and then Marinette went home. The whole was home she quietly discussed with Tikki if it was wise to put her love life on hold, and if she solved the grammar worksheet correctly. Tikki was positive and encouraging as usual.
Would Marinette lie about her age to get an internship at Gabriel early?
Are Adrien and Marinette going to adopt Hannah?
(Not literally, she has a family)
Chapter 13: Chemistry
Chloe has a jealous reaction in chemistry class (pun intended).
And Hannah tries to make friends with Lila.
Hannah is described as a clever girl (and she is) but she is also naive and young and in a situation that seems desperate, but she has been through worse so she needs a bit more than a petty fight to get akumatized.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Thursday morning found Marinette and Hannah sneaking into the classroom together. Lila was putting up a show, as per usual. This time she was talking about some charity event that she was about to attend that particular weekend at some fancy location with Prince Ali, Clara Nightingale, XY, Jagged Stone and other celebrities. Marinette rolled her eyes and both girls greeted Adrien and Nino. Alya was too busy between listening to Lila and something on her phone to even notice them. Chloe huffed at Hannah and Marinette and concentrated on her nails.
Ms Bustier was there, but she was busy frowning and some paperwork and it looked like she was not about to start the roll call any time soon, but the students were at their places.
Marinette frowned at her phone and then raised her eyes towards Lila who glared at the new girl with raw hatred. Adrien followed Hannah with his eyes to her spot and noticed the was Lila looked at her. The boy frowned. This did not look good.
Hannah sat down and concentrated on the speech of the girl behind her. Lila stressed her diplomatic passport and her residence in the Italian embassy. Then Hannah recognized the names of the charities and the famous stars. Hannah sighed happily, there, sitting just behind her, was one of her heroes, one of the young people that so selflessly helped people like her and her family.
“Oh, Hannah?” Lila called. Marinette stiffened, Adrien held in his ‘oh no’. But the girl who was called turned around with the happiest expression on her face. “Yes Lila?”
“I have so many problems with my math worksheet and I have so little time ...” Lila started her usual rant about celebrities and charities that Hannah was not able to follow, but she was pushing her math worksheet towards Hannah so the girl took it.
“You need help? I can help.” Hannah took the worksheet and quickly solved problems on a sheet of paper she tore from her notebook. The bell rang, but she continued to write down the solutions on that paper, she was finished before Ms Bustier finished with the roll call and passed the worksheet and the papers with solutions back to Lila. Ivan, Max and Kim all noticed the exchange.
Hannah sighed happily, perhaps it was cheating to help like she just did, but she would help any of her classmates with the subjects she knew so well, she always did that. Besides, she wanted to become friends with Lila. (She never reconsidered that Lila called her out for passing notes during the class but asked her to solve her math worksheet anyway.)
Hannah felt her day went downhill from there. Ms Bustier asked random questions about the historical facts they learned the last year. The students were raising hands and answering one by one. That was just fine. The teacher was too quick for her that morning. And she was distracted by her thoughts.
The fact was that she admired Lila for her charity work. Hannah got to escape alive from her home town and her country thanks to charity, she was fed and clothed by the charity. Her parents both continued to work as doctors in refugee camps they visited and even helped Medicines Sans Frontiers on their was to France, but they were never paid. They relied on charities for everything. It was the charity centre where Hannah learned French and read books. She was allowed to use the painting equipment there. While there, Hannah made tens of simple aquarelle paintings that depicted the scenes from her home land. The town, destructed as well as whole, it surroundings, and there were a few paintings of people, like dark shadows hiding in the basement and even dead bodies in the street. She was bad at painting people, but she did it anyway. In the community centre, they told her it was therapy, so she spend all her time there until the school started. People there liked her paintings. They even asked to include them in a small local exhibition. She agreed. She always agreed.
Therefore, when the teacher asked about some particular war that occurred at some particular location and particular year B.C. Hannah missed the question completely. The teacher scolded her and repeated the question.
“It was the Third Punic War from 149 to 146 BC that ended with the fall of Carthage.” Hannah answered.
“That is completely wrong and not what I asked you. You should pay more attention, Hannah” The teacher scolded gently.
She sat down sad and irritated. She let her thoughts wander away. She listened to the explanation that Sabrina gave. Of course, Hannah misunderstood the question completely. This conquer of territories in Africa was about Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius and Kleopatra. She missed by more than a century. Of course the teacher was angry.
“That is okay. It was a difficult question for you.” Marinette whispered briefly. She could sense that Hannah was having a hard time and given the statistics of her class, the girl might be akumatized soon.
The next break, Adrien made sure to run for his notes from the last year that he kept in his locker and bring the notebook and explain the basics to Hannah.
“Marinette is much better in history than me, but I have my notebook here by chance.” The boy explained as the teacher cleared her throat to signal she was about to resume teaching.
Adrien jumped back to his seat while Hannah stared at the notebook. Marinette was still turned around and watched the neat handwriting of her beloved crush with gentle eyes. Another warning and she had to separate her eyes.
“I would love to help you with this.” Marinette whispered and turned around.
Hannah was reading the notebook. It was easier to read for her.
The teacher resumed repetition of the last school year. This time Hannah knew which Roman emperor waged which war and which year (with the help of Adrien’s notebook). She felt more relaxed.
However, what Adrien did (and the fact that he did it) did not go unnoticed. Chloe could not hide her annoyance. And Lila glared at the back of the girl before her hidden from the rest of the class behind her hair.
The next break passed with them running to the science lab for the first set of experiments. Hannah was thrilled. She loved science
Hannah was wearing a red and white tartan shirt (obviously the smallest size for men and totally too large for her) unbuttoned over a black t-shirt with a picture of an old rock band and a pair of blue jeans (that were aged for real not artificially). The whole outfit was fashionable at some other place and time, but not then and not in Paris. And it was the clothing designed for boys, not girls. She got it at some red cross post few weeks ago, when she was accepted to go to school. Those items looked only slightly worn and were not damaged. Most of the girl’s clothing simply asked for attention. Hannah did not like the attention too much. With some luck, she might just go through the school unnoticed, save for her academic achievements, but those could go generally unnoticed too.
Well, the attention she got from a certain blonde model boy did not go unnoticed. Not that it was that kind of attention. She was just a fellow student who might use some help and both him and Marinette were ready to jump in. But certain blonde heiress had had enough. Nobody was going to steal the attention of her childhood friend away from her.
During chemistry in the lab, they were doing a few simple experiments that should help them repeat what they learned last year. Hannah did her tasks really quickly, computed everything, even helped Ivan with his notes and cleaned up the table.
It was bound to happen. The class was about to finish and the students were disposing their chemicals and washing their equipment.
“oops.” Chloe exclaimed while she purposefully flipped a vessel holding a chemical towards the new girl. Luckily it was diluted just as much not to cause instant burns, but it burned Hannah skin and her clothes started to change colour. She was crying in pain.
Marinette glared at the resident bully and wanted to get Hannah out from the classroom.
“Come on, we have to go to the nurse.” Marinette urged the girl.
But Hannah protested between her screams and took off her t-shirt and the tartan shirt in one go and dumped it into the sink, then she started to wash her burning skin. It was red, but Mme Mendeleev was relieved that it was not much worse. Hannah proceeded to remove her trousers. Adrien was closest to her, he wanted to help but he did not dare to touch her burning skin and thought twice about helping her to take off her trousers. Marinette was passing fresh wet cloths to the girl and the teacher helped with one spot on the back.
“Clever girl, you have to wash it as soon as possible. Come on. All the boys out. This instant.” The teacher ordered sternly. “Come on hurry up, there is nothing to see here.”
Adrien hesitated for a moment before shouted he was running for the nurse.
Marinette helped the girl to take off her trousers. But those were obviously too large for her and simply dropped around her ankles quickly.
Cold bandages and soothing cream over the lunch break and Hannah was going to be ready for the afternoon lessons. The teacher offered her lab coat to the girl so that she would not walk to the nurses office only in her underwear. The nurse treated her injuries with a soothing cream. Soon, the girl felt no burns, but the skin was still slightly red.
“Marinette, could you please bring some clothes for your classmate?” Mme Mendeleev asked the class president. Marinette nodded and ran away as she pulled out her phone and called up her maman. When she ran out from the school she bumped into Adrien who was waiting for the car to pull over.
“Is Hannah going to be okay?” The boy asked worriedly.
“Yeah, but her clothes is ruined. I am going home to fetch something for her.” Marinette was running away without tripping, stumbling or falling, she spoke without stuttering or flailing her hands with rather familiar determination in her blue eyes. She was a woman (well a girl) on a mission. She burst into the bakery.
“Hi maman, papa. Chloe ruined Hannah’s clothes in chemistry. Going to fetch something. Bye.” She was already running up the stairs. Sabine shook her head. Tom shrugged. That was their daughter.
Adrien entered the car, at first he wanted to text Nathalie. But then he gave it another thought. He should not make other people help Hannah. Chloe should help her. He dialled the number of his childhood friend.
“Hi Chloe!” Adrien greeted. He ignored her word outburst.
“I don’t care if that was an accident. You ruined her clothes and injured her.” The boy was serious. He ignored the insults that Chloe spat regarding the poor girls clothes and appearance.
“You are going to make it up to her. She needs clothes to go to school. I don’t care what you think about her taste of fashion.” The boy practically shouted before Chloe hung up on him.
The boy clearly remembered the open book shelf that held the tiny amount of clothes that Hannah and her brothers obviously shared. He was certain those clothes they got used already and she got them from some charity. He decided to go through his own wardrobe and see if he had any items for her brothers that were too small for him. It turned out he did have those. He filled his duffel bag with several t-shirts and trousers, he stared at the pile, there was nothing for Hannah.
Marinette returned to school with one bag of clothing and another bag of pastries (the latter courtesy of her mother). Hannah was soon dressed in blue tights and pink tunic with flowers embroidered around her neckline..
“You look great.” Marinette smiled.
“Thank you Marinette.” Hannah beamed. Her messy ponytail of slightly curly brown hair was hiding he embroidery in the back.
“This fabric is light cotton it will not scratch your injured skin.” The pigtailed girl beamed.
The two girls shared their lunch with the nurse who was obviously not taking her lunch break today. Just before the bell announced the end of the lunch break, the nurse deemed Hannah good to continue with her lessons.
The girls went directly to their next class. Adrien was waiting for them expectantly. Most of the other students were still not back from their lunch break.
“Hannah.” The boy called after the greetings, he carried a large paper bag where he unloaded all the clothes he picked up at home. “This is for your brothers. I am sorry I do not have anything for you.”
“Thank you Adrien.” Hannah beamed as she inspected the bag. “This will help a lot.” Then she put it in her locker. “Marinette helped me.”
“This is amazing Marinette.” The boy praised his blushing classmate. “You made this yourself?”
Marinette nodded to confirm.
“Look, it has flowers.” The girl pointed to her neckline and the hem of the tunic as well ans the hem of the blue tights.
Adrien glanced and praised Marinette further.
Lila lead a group of students into the classroom. Adrien and Marinette were busy discussing the flowers that Marinette used for her inspiration, the designer blushed at each praise and explained the tricks she did to make each of the flowers.
“And then it was too small for me within a year.” The designer finally shrugged.
Hannah did not have a clue about fashion, but she knew to do all of the basic stuff. She was just never interested to learn how to do elaborate and intricate details nor to pay much attention to style and design of her clothes. Besides, it was not like she could, for the last few years she was happy if her clothes were clean and not torn.
“It is yours.” Marinette smiled. “You can keep it”
“Thank you Marinette.” The girl positively beamed. She hugged her classmate fiercely.
“You should take a photo of her for your portfolio.” Adrien looked at Marinette. “But those blue tights and blue flowers would look much better on you, they are the same colour of your eyes.” The boy admired those same eyes a bit too long. Marinette blushed under his warm gaze as she was lost in his green warmth. Alya squealed with delight at the sight with most of the rest of the girls. Lila was sulking in the back. Nino raised his eyebrows at his best bro, he thought the boy was now with Kagami, but there was the gift he brought for Hannah and he was in her home and now he was openly flirting with Marinette. At least Adrien debunked that insinuation from Lila that they were secretly dating. But with Chloe openly throwing herself on the boy, Nino started to think of his best bro as some kind of young Casanova. Well, he concluded, he should not have been so surprised, the boy was famous supermodel, his statue in the wax museum was rather popular, it was only a matter of time (and probably hormones) until something like this happened.
That was the scene when Chloe stormed in with Sabrina in tow. The red haired girl dragged a brown paper bag. Chloe faced the blonde model boy with her icy blue eyes.
“I will have you know, Adriekins, this was the best I could do on such short notice. Sabrina!” She ordered her companion to hand over the brown bag.
“I am sorry your clothes got ruined.” Chloe recited with her nose high up in the air. “And I am sorry for your injuries.” Then she flipped her ponytail and sat on her place.
“I do not know if I got your size right. You have the receipt, you can change.” Sabrina muttered to Hannah. The last girl stared at the clothes. It was something similar to what she was wearing in chemistry, but the price tags were still on them. She got some new clothes today. She was so happy. This day could not get any better.
If Hannah thought that Chloe did it on purpose, she would have been akumatized, the same is valid if she recognized how she was treated afterwards (when she got the clothes).
The next chapter brings results of the French grammar test and more opportunity to akumatize the girl.
Chapter 14: French Grammar Test Results
The test results are back and few students are not thrilled.
Also some gossip.
Fortunately there are friendly colleagues and a gym class to unwind.
The results are ... as expected.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
French grammar test results
The day could not get any worse. Hannah was taking deep breaths. She was not going to cry.
The results from the French grammar test were back.
Hannah knew French was probably her worst subject, but she expected to be acceptable at grammar and worse in literature. Because literature meant she had to read and interpret French. She was, at first, pleasantly surprised that she scored about 65 percent. But then she noticed that she was systematically wrong in whole tasks, there were many comments in red pencil. Her errors were always systematic. When she failed one question she failed them all for a certain task. The score of her online test was much better.
But to her horror, she noticed that Adrien and Marinette did not have one hundred percent. Although they both seemed happy about their results, Hannah could not help herself but feel guilty. If her new friends were not helping her, they would have solved all tasks correctly, for sure. (The geek in her could not accept anything but the perfect score, okay, and she idolized her friends.)
Hannah was not the worst in her class. Lila scored even worse and Kim was close to her result.
“This is serious.” The teacher announced. “Everyone with a score below seventy five is going to take additional classes after school this month to learn again what you forgot.” That was the polite way to say it, okay. “Good score on your online test will not save you.” The teacher stared at Lila, but Hannah felt as if the teacher was staring at her.
“I will be late to pick up my brothers.” Hannah slumped in defeat and muttered to herself. Marinette was worried for the girl behind her, she did not understand what the girl was talking, but she could hear from her voice that the girl was stressed. “They will have to go home alone on those days.” She sighed. “At least they did not expel me for this. Yet.”
The class president decided to turn around and see the colleagues who were expected to take additional classes. Lila glared at her. Kim shrugged and looked at his test defeated. Hannah looked at her desperately.
“How will I pick up my brothers?” She managed to whisper to her classmate.
“We will think of something.” Marinette smiled and held her hand for a second. Then she had to turn around and face the teacher. Ivan patted Hannah on her shoulder and several students smiled and gave her the thumbs up just like they did to the other colleagues who had to go to additional classes.
Lila glared at her test results. She always thought Alya was excellent in French because of her journalistic aspirations. But then the teacher praised Alya, Adrien, Rose and Mylenne for having the best results. Lila narrowed her eyes and bent over her bench to see better. Ninety eight percent? Lila flipped the pages of her test until she found a message written in red. ‘Your score is bad because you copied the results from another group.’ There were groups? She wanted to scream. She looked at the teacher and considered how to turn this around, while the teacher mentioned additional classes and even named the students she expected there.
Lila began to whine about her charities and obligations but the teacher kept her ground.
Hannah stared at her percentage and concentrated on her breathing. Perhaps this was good. She would be able to learn and she might get to know this Lila girl better. She was into charities. Perhaps she could help Hannah. There was always something good in everything bad that happened to her. This was not so bad, yes, she decided it was going to be okay. (I know that kids that age tend to turn everything to a disaster, but this girl should be able to calm down on her own).
But then the teacher decided to teach. She wrote and example to the blackboard and randomly (nope it was not random at all) called Hannah to solve it.
The girl was not ready. She approached the blackboard slowly. She heard not so subtle nor quiet comments behind her. She did not try to understand them because she was focused on the problem on the blackboard.
‘Not so brave as few days ago in physics, are we?’ Lila whispered to Max. But the short bespectacled boy spent hours in tech class with the girl and knew that French was her weakest spot. He admired the tiny girl. Everyone who was there could see that she struggled with French and spoke worse than Marinette when she talked to Adrien. Ivan frowned and stared at Lila in surprise.
‘Just give her another opportunity to flash her brains.’ Chloe muttered.
‘Go girl go’ Alix cheered. Marinette frowned. This was a tricky question, even she failed one of such type. Adrien rolled his eyes, it was nasty thing to ask a native French about that problem, let alone a foreigner who was just learning the language.
‘Miss I want the explanation in English.’ Lila mouthed to Ivan who shook his head in return. Ivan was one of the few who appreciated that their English teacher gave instructions in French too. But the boy did not hold that request against the new student. He noticed how much the girl was struggling.
Nathaniel just sat there with his shoulders hunched. He was one of them with a poor score, not that he was poor in grammar, but he just had a strike of inspiration and spent half of the time meant for the exam doodling sketches of his next comic book. His score was just below the limit.
Hannah was standing in front of the blackboard. She walked slowly as she tried to remember which trick she had to use to fill in the blank spot to make the sentence correct. She knew she got that one wrong, she got all the examples in that task wrong. Finally she decided which word to write. She got on her toes but could not reach the line. She simply wrote the word underneath.
“And that is wrong.” The teacher announced. The girl slumped her shoulders but looked at the teacher expectantly.
“This is the beauty of French language, there are fine differences between this and that. One tiny word changes the meaning of this sentence completely, but this form is grammatically incorrect. You should take care of the way you express yourself and your sentences. They picture you as a person of culture. French is the language of love. But it is also the language of diplomacy. You have to be aware of all the finesses.” The teacher continued to lecture the class.
Adrien sighed. It reminded him too much of his training to be the proper model boy and worthy of being the son of his father. Marinette felt sorry for the girl and watched for violet butterflies. None of this was Hannah fault. Alya was incredulous. That was a difficult question. It was silly to pull a new girl and then give such a lecture. Nino was happy he scored above the threshold and was assembling a new playlist in his head when he finally noticed that the girl in front of the blackboard did not appreciate the situation she was put in. Chloe scoffed. She had additional private tutors who trained her for this. She even bothered to correct Sabrina’s performance. It was inappropriate for her friend to fail at these.
“Teacher?” Hannah spoke timidly.
“Yes?” the teacher turned around surprised to see that the girl was still there.
“What is the correct answer?” The girl asked quietly.
The teacher sighed and pronounced the whole sentence. The way she connected the groups of words did not reveal to Hannah what she did wrong. The girl stared at the teacher then at the blackboard and then back at the teacher.
“Could you repeat that please?” Hannah asked again, timidly. That was a sentence she used often.
The teacher sighed. This was obviously testing her patience, but she repeated the sentence with gentle smile. She used the same speed and connected the same words. Hannah was lost, she did not notice the difference.
“She is not getting it.” Lila exclaimed in high pitched tone.
“There is no chance for Hannah to get this.” Marinette muttered worriedly while she was checking for violet butterflies.
Adrien got to his feet, he took the chalk from Hannah with a careful smile, the boy treated her as a child ever since he learned her real age, and he wrote the correct answer on the line. The girl looked up and smiled. She understood the trick.
“Thank you.” She looked at both Adrien and the teacher and ran back to her seat. Adrien followed with the same speed but in few elegant strides.
Hannah flipped her exam paper open to the page with a task that required usage of the same trick and her notebook. She started to copy the sentences with the different solution. She grinned, she thought she got it.
But the teacher was not finished. She started the next lecture and noticed that Hannah was writing while she was supposed to listen. Little did she know that the new girl was not able to follow her elaborate and tricky lecture.
“Hannah, you should pay attention to the class, not scribble up in your notebook.” The teacher approached and took the notebook. It was light blue with a Unicef logo on it. It was filled with different exercises that Hannah did when she trained for her French exam (the one she failed but managed to get into Francois Dupont anyway). She finally looked at the last page and read it to herself. She nodded and returned the notebook.
“Please pay attention to the class, you will be able to practise during the additional classes.” The teacher spoke as she descended the stairs. The woman took in a deep breath, once she saw the notebook, she understood that she called out a girl who was a foreigner and was still learning the basics. Principal Damocles was supposed to note such stuff to the teachers.
Marinette looked at her classmate and smiled, Hannah actually smiled back, an honest natural smile. That was a relief, Hannah should not be akumatized so soon.
There was a lecture and then they got the exercises to do for their homework. Hannah meticulously copied all the examples. There were eight pages of worksheets. Hannah sighed as she looked at her own. Everyone got a slightly different piece of text to analyse, pick the sentences that were intentionally grammatically incorrect and put them into a correct form. And that was just the page one. The bell rang and they had the gym class again.
Alya went to Lila as soon as the class finished. Marinette frowned and decided to lag behind, concerned if Hannah was able to join for the gym, Adrien was engaged in conversation with Chloe and avoided any proximity to Lila.
“Sorry, I had no clue about the groups.” Alya apologized to Lila.
“Marinette and Hannah obviously knew, they could have told us.” Lila feigned being hurt.”That new girl has no morals, have you seen how she stripped in chemistry, in front of the boys? Poor Adrien. You know that boys can’t help themselves with such things. He just had to run away.”
Alya nodded and smiled as if she agreed. She could not tell for other boys in general, but she knew that Nino, at least, did not see anything attractive in a small girl without a single womanly curve on her body.
Other girls from their class thought about that. It was highly unlikely that any of them would strip so lightly in front of the boys and stand in the classroom in their underwear.
“But that is the best way to minimize her injuries.” Max piped in. “Taking off the clothes and washing away the chemical helps reduce the injuries by 89 percent.”
That day in the gym, the teacher gave them the usual time to warm up and then they were about to do some gymnastics. Hannah felt her skin tinge at the spots that got in touch with the chemical few hours ago and hoped it was not a contact kind of exercise, she did not understand the instructions the teacher gave them, save a few words. She made sure to stand in the back and observe what she was expected to do.
First there was the vault. They were expected to run, jump off a springboard and off the vaulting horse. That was quick and easy. Ivan and Mylenne bot just jumped off the springboard then pushed off the vaulting horse and landed more or less gracefully. Nathaniel jumped over and never touched the horse, he flew too high. Kim and Alix were competing for speed while Max measured their time. Chloe was worried about her nails. Hannah took her initial try carefully, she was not sure how strong was the spring board. It was years since the last time she used one of those. But she enjoyed it. Physical stress felt so good after all the stress from the French language class.
They formed a circle. After a few jumps, several students started to jump over in different poses, sideways, relying on only one hand or with their legs wide and they released different sounds. Alix and Kim started to challenge other students who jumped over more bravely. Finally it was turn for Hannah and her last jump. The cushion mattress behind the vaulting horse seemed soft enough for her to try. She ran and jumped off the spring board, she made her first flip in the air before she landed on her feet and instantly jumped off from the vaulting horse for another flip before she landed on the mattress, she spread her arms wide and smiled. There were several mouths gaping at her until Alix did far more complicated flip with rotation around horizontal and vertical axes. Hannah applauded to the pink haired girl. Marinette jumped beautifully with an extra rotation along the vertical axis. She even landed gracefully and everything was fine until Adrien whistled and grinned at her. She tripped over the thin air and landed before the teacher’s feet. The boys also tried more extravagant jumps with more or less success, Kim landed awkwardly and the teacher decided they had enough.
The teacher asked her name and made a note on his tablet. After that, they were expected to walk on a low balance beam. They also formed a circle where everyone did it a few times until simple walking became too boring for several of them. This time it was Alix and Hannah who invented different ways of funny walking on the balance beam, they both did a few side flips before the gym teacher warned them not to try anything dangerous. He eyed Hannah through the exercise.
Finally they did the floor, they arranged the mattresses because the gym was universal for most sports and not equipped with specific floor equipment. Hannah loved it, she flipped she turned and then she finally did her first salto. The teacher whistled and called her to the side. Alix and Marinette ran over to her side but the teacher sent them away.
“I can’t let you do that.” The teacher pointed towards the spot on the mattresses where she jumped. “You can injure yourself.” He warned. Hannah was high on adrenaline and slightly out of breath, she barely understood what the man was telling her. She nodded.
She returned to the floor and did a few side flips before the teacher whistled to end the gym class.
“What did he want?” Alix grinned at Hannah in the locker room.
“To stop. It is dangerous.” Hannah shrugged. She was slowly catching her breath. None of what she did in that gym class seemed even remotely dangerous to her, but the teacher said no, so she stopped.
“You did really great.” Alix grinned. “I am glad to have you in this class.”
“Me too.” Marinette smiled.
“Did you train gymnastics?” Alya asked with a wide smile.
“In school.” Hannah smiled back proudly. There were literally two sports she could train, gymnastics and handball, and she trained both. Her parents always told her that she would be jumping around the house instead. But she did not know how to explain that, so she just smiled to her classmates. The gym was patted with protective mattresses, she felt as if she could not get injured whatever she tried.
Then the boys came and Adrien put one hand on Marinette’s shoulder and another on Hannah’s. “You girls were great.” The boy beamed. Marinette flushed, Hannah shrugged and Nino wondered just what was going on with his best bro.
Kagami and Luka meet Hannah in the next chapter.
Chapter 15: The Basement
Kagami and Luka meet Hannah and get into a hairy situation.
(I can't help myself to writhe the summary like this).
I have no idea what would be Luka's opinion on Lila to start with so I guess he should not be thrilled about a girl that got Marinette expelled, at least according to Marinette.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Geometric shapes of love
Marinette was quickly back home and down to the bakery. She often helped in the afternoon, especially with packing orders for delivery. Luka would come and greet her and sometimes he would even take her for a ride. Rides with Luka were fun and she liked the time she spent with the boy, but both of them were aware that she was not ready for anything but friendship. She hoped to forget about Adrien over the holidays. She hoped that now that he was with Kagami, she would be able to let go of him. But she was not. The summer holidays have passed and she was still thinking about the model boy.
“This is the last delivery.” Marinette smiled to Luka.
“Aren’t you forgetting something.” Tom winked and motioned towards the box that Marinette intended to bring to Hannah.
“Oh yes there is still this box.” Marinette took it. “I will deliver this one myself, this one is for my new classmate, Hannah.”
“Hey, I could give you a ride?” Luka offered. He heard about the new classmate from Juleka and Marinette and the stories did not match, he wanted to see for himself.
So both of them left on his bike, they decided to make the delivery first and then Luka would take her all the way to Hannah.
“So this Hannah girl, she is the new in your class?” Luka started the conversation about the new girl.
“Yeah, she is really nice, perhaps a bit too nice.” Marinette frowned.
“How can someone be too nice?” Luka half teased.
“She thinks Chloe is nice. And Lila too.” The girl sighed.
“Oh I see.” Luka encouraged the girl to speak more. Juleka had a good opinion of Lila while Marinette resented her, which was understandable if she was really expelled because of her.
“Today Chloe ruined her clothes. Then Chloe made Sabrina get some new clothes for Hannah and the poor girl now thinks Chloe is a saint.” Marinette summarized the events. “Not to mention that I brought her my own handmade clothes for her and now, somehow that was out shined by a lazy gesture of an heiress.”
“Huh, that is interesting.” Luka frowned.
“She had a bad day, I want to be there for her, I do not want her akumatized.” She summarized.
That afternoon Adrien and Kagami were strolling in the park. Kagami spoke about her travel to Japan and everything she saw. And she spoke about fencing, a lot. It was not really a date, or maybe it was like a date but between friends. They were on few such rendes-vous before Kagami went to Japan for the holidays and to train her fencing with a few masters there. Sometimes they would hold hands. But they mostly just walked around and chatted. Both of them were able to escape their home and controlling parents on the pretence of fencing.
“Are you ready for the fencing tournament this Saturday?” Adrien asked with a smirk.
“Be ready to be wiped out.” Kagami threatened with a smile. “You will see a few new moves I learned there.”
“Perhaps I learned a few tricks too.” The boy smiled back.
Adrien, on the other hand was thinking about what happened with Chloe and Hannah that day. He felt responsible for the actions of his childhood friend,
“So what is new with you?” Kagami asked.
“I would like you to meet that new classmate of mine.” Adrien sighed. “Today Chloe spilled a chemical over Hannah and ruined her clothes. She had to be treated at the nurse. Marinette brought her something to wear. I’m worried about her, we should pay her a visit”
“How bad was she injured?” Kagami suspected that Adrien avoided being alone with her, again.
“Not too bad, she stayed in school for the afternoon classes. I made Chloe get her some new clothes. The poor girl now thinks that Chloe is an angel.” He sighed.
“Huh?” Kagami frowned.
“She even thinks that Lila is nice.” Adrien frowned. “I was even passing her a note to warn her!”
“She is not clever then.” The girl concluded.
“No, she is very clever, she is as good as Max in science and math.” He protested.
“That is admirable, but it does not make her wise.” She accepted.
“But she is only twelve.” Adrien countered. “She is hiding her real age for some reason.”
“You mean she lied about her age?” Kagami raised her eyebrows.
“It is not like that.” Adrien protested.
They were passing a shop that sold different items for entertainment. Adrien noticed they sold different board games and even chess. It was a cheap plastic version, but there were other games too.
“I want to get something here, just a moment.” The boy asked Kagami who followed the boy into the shop with curious eyes. They gagged at few things, but Adrien was determined to get the chessboard. When he asked for board games and chess he was pointed towards the corner where they had a choice. The boy was surprised how many boxes he could get.
“I thought you had all the games in your room and nobody to play with.” Kagami teased.
“I want to get a game for Hannah and her brothers.” The boy replied. The girl was surprised by the reply. “You see, I have been to her home on Monday, she made chess out of cardboard.”
“Who would make chess out of a cardboard and why?” Kagami frowned. “And why were you at her home? What did her parents say?”
“Her parents were not home.” The boy shrugged. “She invited Marinette and me home on the first day of school. I was there yesterday to bring her a few books. She said we are always welcome.”
Kagami and Adrien finally chose a package that had different board games and a wooden chess game.
“Come on, let’s take it to her.” The boy smirked.
“But she did not invite me.” Kagami protested.
“We are going to just leave it with her at her door if we can’t come in, but I am sure she’d like to meet you.” Adrien replied, she understood that the girl craved to meet new friends.
It was a short walk to the building on the side of the park. They found Marinette with the box of pastries while Luka was locking his bike. They exchanged their greetings. Luka was sruprised to find Adrien and Kagami there as much as Kagami was surprised by Luka and Marinette.
“Are you bringing pastries for Hannah?” Adrien smiled widely, he obviously expected her.
“Yeah, and what did you get?” Marinette looked at the paper bag he held.
“Just some board games.” Adrien shrugged.
Adrien bravely opened the entrance door. They met a few adults inside who sat by a small table on the side and drank coffee.
“Whom are you visiting?” One man asked.
“Hannah” Adrien replied sheepishly. “Top floor.”
“You two have been here before.” The other man replied. “The other girl and the boy weren’t.”
“She is with me, she is fine. And the boy too.” Adrien smiled. The two men waved them away and they started to climb the stairs. Kagami was surprised and slightly concerned with everything she saw on the way. People lived in those corridors too. It was always busy. On one floor they were connecting tables and arranging chairs in the wide corridor, they were obviously setting up a party.
The four of them arrived at the door to Hannah’s flat and Adrien knocked.
A boy opened the door and looked at the two teenagers.
“Hi Robbie? Eddie? Do you remember Marinette and me? I am Adrien. This is Kagami. There is Luka. Is Hannah home?” The boy asked politely with a huge smile.
The boy got out and closed the door behind him.
“Mama and papa are sleeping.” He put his finger over his mouth. “Night shift.”
The other boy peeked out, smiled, and got out too.
“Is Hannah home?” Marinette asked quietly.
“Downstairs. Laundry.” The other boy was pulling his ear. “Hi I am Robbie.” He offered his hand to Kagami. They all exchanged introductions.
“Let me show you Hannah.” Eddie motioned with his hand for the others to follow.
They descended the stairs until they reached the basement. Adrien was surprised to see that there were people there too. The boy lead them to a room that had a washing machine. Hannah sat on one box with her homework spread over another washing machine that was obviously unplugged and not working for some time.
“Hi Hannah” Marinette and Adrien greeted in unison.
“Oh hi … everyone.” Hannah jumped to her feet.
“Sorry to just drop by unannounced.” Marinette smiled. “I brought you some food from the bakery.”
“Pastries.” Both boys smiled at the box and raised their fists to celebrate.
Marinette set the box on the washing machine so they could open it and take some food.
“I brought you these board games.” Adrien extended his arm and held out the bag.
Hannah approached timidly. She took the bag and looked at the contents.
“Chess and the board game package.” She was bouncing on her feet. “I saw them, in that shop, other side of the park. Oh, thank you Adrien.” She hugged the paper bag.
“This is Kagami.” The boy introduced the girl by his side.
“And this is Luka.” Marinette introduced the boy too.
They exchanged handshakes. Kagami was still overpowered by the whole experience and the environment she found herself in.
“Hey, would you like to play one game?” Hannah asked as she examined the contents of the bag.
“Here?” Kagami whispered.
“Now?” Luka asked.
“Why not, I need to wait for the laundry to finish and I got stuck with the homework anyway.” Hannah shrugged. “Besides, mama and papa are sleeping. We cant play upstairs.”
Hannah quickly picked up empty plastic boxes that were designed to hold bottles and the seven of them were sitting around another box that served as a table. Marinette picked a game that could fit for all seven and was simple. So they played a few rounds and chatted.
“So how is your French?” Adrien inquired.
“Progressing very well, thank you!” Eddie replied.
“Thank you for the clothes.” Robbie beamed. The boys were stuffing themselves with cookies.
“I gave them my linguistic training books and CDs.” Adrien explained to Kagami.
“That is not the way to learn proper French. You will sound like Adrien then. You need to learn to speak like a regular school kid.” Luka joked.
“I told you we should call girls chicks.” Eddie told his brother.
“You should not.” Marinette and Kagami replied in unison.
“You should call them ladies.” Adrien beamed.
Marinette blushed when she heard that, Kagami giggled.
“See, the girls prefer to be called ladies than to be called chicks.” Adrien grinned.
That encouraged further blushes and giggles from the girls, including Hannah in the process.
“Girls are boring.” Eddie concluded.
“Ladies too.” Robbie teased.
“We just want to play games with the boys.” Eddie shrugged.
Adrien discussed games with them. Marinette joined in. Kagami noticed the rubber bands on Marinette’s pigtails were off and she sneakily pulled them off and let her hair down. Since the other girl did not react, she started to comb her hair with her fingers.
“You are really beautiful with your hair down.” Luka smiled gently at Marinette who blushed back.
Soon Luka and Adrien were arranging her locks together with Kagami.
“There, this is very nice.” Kagami smiled.
“Please help our sister. She has jungle hair.” Robbie snickered while he ate pastry.
“I do not have jungle hair.” Hannah protested. “It is just ...” She could not really explain so she pulled the rubber band of her pony tail. The hair was slightly curly and went in all directions.
“Don’t play with electricity plugs.” Eddie teased.
“Yeah.” Hannah rolled her eyes as she tried to collect her hair back into the rubber band.
“No wait.” Adrien and Kagami were already playing with her hair, it was funny how it always bounced in most unpredictable ways.
“It was a wet day so it got curled more?” Luka asked calmly. “Juleka has such problems, but she always straightens her hair.”
“I don’t have a brush or a comb to help you with it.” Marinette frowned as she run her fingers through her hair. It looked as if the more they touched the hair the bigger it grew. A curl would spread into a wide messy bush of hair. And Hannah had hair that was reaching below her waist.
“She cuts our hair, but not hers.” Eddie commented.
“Marinette, perhaps you and the girls could help out Hannah with her hair.” Luka smirked as he laughed how the girls hair flew everywhere, especially over her face. “You really have that wild rock and roll hair.”
“You sound like Jagged Stone right now.” Adrien beamed at Luka who winked back.
“I guess I picked up a thing or two from the man.” Luka smiled.
“Like calling girls chicks and playing a guitar?” Kagami cut in.
“Jagged is too cool, he can pass even if he calls girls chicks.” Adrien smirked.
Marinette and Kagami were trying to comb Hannah’s hair with their fingers but the boys were literally destroying all their efforts by spreading it around more and more.
“Hey, your hair is so long it reaches taller than Luka and me.” Adrien laughed at one bang that was electrified and stood practically upright.
“I told you. Jungle hair.” Robbie laughed.
“Can I have my hair back?” Hannah finally spoke timidly.
“Let us play.” Adrien whined.
“Try to shake your head like in that rock videos.” Luka encouraged.
“All right.” Hannah shrugged and let her hair fly around.
After that, Marinette taught Kagami how to make Hannah’s hair into one braid. The final result was loosely tied, but it was was thick and wide and long. Finally, Adrien took her braid and put it over her shoulder. It was just like his mother used to wear her hair sometimes. Everyone was oddly quiet.
“Perhaps I could help you with that homework?” Marinette offered to change the subject.
“Or me?” Adrien grinned.
“Uh, it is that additional homework I got for bad score.” Hannah frowned.
“We could help?” Marinette repeated.
“I think I have to do it myself.” Hannah was determined not to be a bother to her classmates.
“Come on, let’s see what is bothering you.” Adrien took the homework from the washing machine and took a look. “Oh, this one is tricky.” He pointed to the task where Hannah got stuck. He explained it briefly before the laundry was finished.
They went out from the basement and said their greetings.
Luka put Marinette on the bike and drove away.
“You were right.” Kagami spoke quietly as they walked away to the meeting spot they agreed with Adrien’s bodyguard and Kagami’s driverless car. “I had to meet her and see this for myself.”
“Yeah.” Adrien frowned. Kagami did not even see the tiny flat, and yet even that space felt like home the instant he entered.
“I don’t mean it in a bad way.” Kagami misinterpreted why Adrien frowned. “Hannah seems like a nice person. But I see what you mean.”
“What?” Adrien was lost in thoughts.
“She trusts everyone. She just met me and Luka and she invited us to stay and play a game.” The girl was clearly surprised by the actions. “I like her. She does not hesitate.”
“She did, about her homework.” Adrien countered.
“That was because she wanted to do it one her own, she wanted to be independent.” Kagami argued back.
Both of them looked up. Way up, at the highest level of the French balconies, a girl had set laundry to dry. Adrien called the name of his classmate and him and Kagami waved their hands for her to notice. The girl waved both of her hands and smiled widely. She looked genuinely happy.
“Hannah is a refugee?” Luka asked quietly as he pushed the bike while him and Marinette walked back to the bakery.
“Yeah. Please don’t tell. She is not telling people that stuff.” Marinette frowned.
“I could tell Juleka, and she might tell Rose. But it should not go further than that.” Luka inquired.
“Please tell them to be careful. Lila already dislikes her.” The girl pleaded.
“Hannah is very nice girl. She seems younger than anyone in your class.” Luka prodded further.
Marinette rolled her eyes. She learned Hannah’s secret and she would not tell that one too.
“Please let Hannah reveal her secrets herself to whom and when she chooses.” Marinette pleaded.
“She is younger?” Luka repeated. “I have such student in my class, the boy is a musical prodigy, but has no clue about French. He is few years younger than me and had to take a tutor for the language.”
Marinette flipped her head quickly. “So if someone helps Hannah with the language, she can stay in our class?”
“If she wants and if she does not struggle in everything else.” Luka replied. “Juleka told me she is good in science and math.”
“I will have Juleka to invite Hannah to Freedom on Saturday. She might like some air after that basement.” The boy smiled as he looked around and took in the open sky.
Time to meet the parents?
Chapter 16: Accused
Meet the parents!
Learn the darkest family secret. (Not so dark I promise)
And the shortest akuma battle ever.
There are some shocking statements ahead, beware.
A short note on the previous chapter, they were in the basement and I totally ignored Adrien's claustrophobia.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Marinette, your mother and me don’t mind if you spend more time with your classmate.” Tom was talking at dinner. “Or Luka.” He added after a short rhetorical pause. “But please let us know for how long you plan to be away the next time.”
The girl was sorry, blushed for the teasing and was grateful for her parents understanding.
“I’m so happy that Hannah did not get akumatized today.” Marinette told Tikki once she was back in her room after the dinner with her parents.
“Chloe caused so many akuma already.” Tikki chirped. “You did a really good job in cheering her up.”
“Yes, and there was Luka and Adrien and Kagami.” Marinette sighed.
Tikki floated over and observed her chosen carefully with her large blue eyes.
“I’m not sad because they are together, they were both happy today.” The girl smiled to her kwami, but the kwami could not help but add ‘and you were there too’. “I made the right decision.” She stated more to assure herself than the tiny red bug.
“And Luka?” Tikki inquired.
“You know how I feel about Luka and Adrien.” Marinette turned away ‘and Chat’ was left floating in the air. The truth was she did not know herself, so if Tikki knew, she better told her, because the girl was lost.
Gabriel was frustrated. He felt strong distress from the same source the whole day, but it was too short lived for him to act on it. He decided to spend his evening transformed and wait for the next emotion he could use.
Adrien was worried. That day he learned how his new classmate had too much trust in the two bullies in class. That day he pushed his childhood friend to be a little less of a brat. Chloe made Sabrina do the dirty work, but Chloe probably did not have a clue what to get for Hannah anyway. Adrien would not know, he would need to do some research and probably ask Marinette for advice.
Adrien got scolded from Nathalie for being unavailable during part of the afternoon (because there was no phone signal in the basement).
“What is the nature of your relationship with Mlle Tsurugi?” Nathalie inquired. “It is inappropriate for you to sneak off with a girl like that. Your father is not happy.”
After she finished with her speech, he was to practise the piano and eat his dinner alone.
“You had all that food in that basement and I got nothing.” Plagg grumbled from his shirt.
“There was no cheese anyway.” Adrien retorted and gave the grumpy kwami one piece of cheese from his plate.
“You could have fed me while your girlfriends were playing with that girl’s hair.” Plagg teased.
“Hannah was almost akumatized today. We were there to cheer her up.” The boy retorted while he finished his food. He went to his room and started to play the piano. But it did not last for long. He was restless.
“There was no akuma attack today. Perhaps it is time to get some air.” Adrien smiled and called for his transformation. He was jumping around and intentionally took a route that would bring him close to Marinette but also pass across the street from Hannah’s window. Thanks to his enhanced hearing he could hear the shouts from afar.
“I am asking you one last time, where did you get this?” A woman stood on a narrow French balcony and pointed to some clothes that were drying. His eyes almost popped out as he recognized the clothes he brought to Hannah.
“A classmate gave me. Those are used. For the boys.” Hannah stuttered out. She was obviously having an argument with her mother.
“And these labels? These were new. You stolen the clothes, Hannah.” The man shouted, Hannah’s father from the looks of it.
“Chloe gave me. She damaged mine in chemistry. I did not steal anything.” The girl defended herself.
Chat placed the call to Ladybug. She was not transformed so he sent a voicemail. He expected an akuma to appear soon.
“Are you telling us, daughter, that your clothes got ruined in chemistry and some colleague bought a replacement for you?” The father spoke calmly.
“Yes. That is what I am telling you. Yes.” She stammered out through the tears. “Why are we having this argument in French?”
“So that our neighbours do not understand that our daughter is a thief and a beggar.” The mother brushed her daughter off.
“I did not beg. I did not ask for any of this.” Hannah defended.
“And the toys and the books?” Her father continued.
“Adrien brought those.” One of the boys could be heard.
“He borrowed me the books. I need them.” Hannah cried.
“Because you don’t know how to speak French.” Her mother spat.
“Well you never taught me mother.” Hannah retorted and looked at her mother with wet eyes.
Ladybug landed quietly beside Chat.
“Expecting an akuma any moment.” He whispered and continued to listen.
“You learned all that stuff on your own, you never bothered to learn French.” Her mother continued. “And you are the only one of us who were born here. Your father and me had to win those scholarships to be able to come here and study medicine ...”
“Wife.” Hannah father called.
“No, she has to hear this until she understands. I got pregnant as a student, I did not have to have you, you know, but I did, and I barely graduated.” The mother continued.
Chat pointed his claw, he saw the butterfly in the darkness. Ladybug caught it before it reached the window. They waited in silence for more, both were curious what was going on with their classmate but could not admit to that.
“Mary.” The father warned his wife.
Hannah was visibly shrinking into herself.
“Why did you leave? To our stupid country in a stupid war that fell apart into more stupid countries?” Hannah protested. Chat admired the girl, he never stood up to his father.
“Because it was the condition of the stupid scholarship your mother and me had.” Her father replied rather calmly with slight mocking in his tone.
“They are not stupid countries.” Her mother shouted.
Ladybug purified another akuma.
“Then why am I not a citizen of any country?” Hannah cried.
“Because the new countries have the new laws and you were not born in any of them.” Her father brushed her off. ”You think you are so smart that any country should be happy to have you. It was you who filled up the paperwork and tricked your mother and me to sign it.”
“The four of us are here legally, as refugees, you are not so keep your mouth shut and do your chores.” Her mother was livid. “If you get caught for what you did it will be your father and me who will have to go to prison and who will take care of your brothers then?”
“And stop begging, that is not how we raised you. I even have a paid job now.” Her father continued.
“I did not beg.” Hannah protested.
“What about all those pastries that appear here on the daily basis?” Mary, the mother, shouted.
“Parents of one of her classmates are bakers.” Her husband replied calmly. “They always have some leftovers ...”
“Leftovers?” The woman screamed. “Ivan, not you too? We are given leftovers like some … like some … when did we become so … we used to be those who helped others … we never needed help … what happened to us?” Mary went to school, she graduated freaking medicine in freaking Parisian university, yeah she brought home a husband a baby and a diploma, but she was Mme medical doctor, married to monsieur medical doctor, they were never rich, but they were not poor either, they were living in a small flat back home, but they were respected. The war started but they felt protected because of their occupation. They were wrong. Life was hard for a while, they lived in a freaking tent for months with no privacy, but then they finally settled in Paris and started over their medical careers. It was difficult to start over because they were considered to have zero experience and had to pass the ECN exams so she got a basic help job in a local emergency unit and her husband was officially learning to become a surgeon although he was already one.
Chat felt guilty, it was him who gave Hannah the stuff she was accused of stealing or begging or whatever. He never assumed she would be in trouble for that. Her parents were too proud to accept such gifts? Too proud to have their kids to accept such things? He did not understand. He got distracted.
Ladybug clenched her fists while her eyesight got blurred due to tears shed for her classmate. She noticed the violet butterfly only against the light in Hannah’s French window. It landed onto whatever Hannah’s mother was holding in her hand, some kind of kitchen utensil.
Hannah never saw how someone got akumatized before. There were videos on the Ladyblog but it was totally different to see it live.
“Mother!” She shouted. “Throw it away, Throw it!” She made a few steps to grab the akumatized item, but the dark bubbles washed over her mother. Her father grabbed Hannah and pushed her away inside of the room, he shouted to the kids to hide while he went towards his akumatized wife.
“Good evening.” Chat Noir greeted as he landed on the balcony railing, jumped inside and pushed the civilian away from the akuma.
Ladybug followed in an instant. Her yoyo was wrapped around whatever weapon appeared in akuma’s hand and Chat used his cataclysm before the akuma had a chance to use it even for the first time.
Ladybug caught the violet butterfly and released it. She called for the miraculous cure by throwing her yoyo in the air.
“What? Who?” the woman stuttered out as she stared at two superheroes in her own home.
“You were akumatized Mary.” Her husband said. Hannah was between terrified because she saw her mother akumatized, guilty because she just had an argument with her parents and elated for the same reason as her brothers.
“Ladybug and Chat Noir in our room, cool.” Robbie exclaimed from his hiding place up on the gallery and behind a mattress that he turned to hide behind.
“Mother got akumatized, wow. You did it Hannah.” Eddie gushed.
“That is not funny boys.” Hannah scolded although her body was still trembling.
Ladybug and Chat Noir were stunned by their own participation in the events that lead to the akumatization.
“Um, what happened?” Chat Noir asked as they often did with the akumatized persons.
“My wife and daughter had an argument. It often happens with two women in the house.” The man replied dismissively.
“Papa” Hannah whined from her place next to the ladder.
“You are Ladybug and Chat Noir and I got akumatized?” The woman finally spoke.
They both confirmed.
“Because of this daughter of mine.” She turned to Hannah.
“Are you sure it was all her fault?” Ladybug straightened and faced Mary. They were the same height. “Your daughter is very smart and wonderful.” She was not sure how to praise Hannah without revealing she knew her. And she could not reveal she knew what they argued about nor clarify it without revealing that both of them were in fact eavesdropping.
“We are sure it was all a misunderstanding.” Chat Noir cut in and smiled. His ring beeped a warning. “Perhaps you should trust her more.” Then he looked at Ladybug and felt warned to stop talking. It was not wise to let the family know just why the heroes were co close.
“We can’t trust her, she lied and cheated.” Mary stared at her daughter. The girl stared at the floor. She had big plans about what she was going to ask the superheroes once she met them. But now they could only think the worst of her.
“Perhaps she had a really good reason to do it.” Ladybug retorted.
Ladybug’s earrings beeped.
“What do you know about what we have been through?” The woman cried. It was obvious she was still distressed. “You are just two child soldiers. We left that at home only to find another war over here. Yes, you bring everything back, but nothing feels exactly the same as it used to.”
“It is not our fault.” Chat protested.
“Right, it is not their fault Mary and we have to go to our shift or we will be late. Thank you very much Ladybug and Chat Noir. I believe it is time for you to go.” The man spoke nervously.
“Are you going to be okay?” Ladybug asked carefully.
“Yes, don’t worry, at work we do not have the time to think about our personal problems.” The man replied dismissively.
After the greetings and more words of encouragement both superheroes were on a rooftop across the street. Chat was the first one to raise his fist to Ladybug to at least pretend everything was business as usual. She bumped his fist and sighed. Chat’s miraculous gave him two more minutes.
“I will feed Plagg and return.” Chat said briefly and vaulted away. Ladybug swung back home to feed Tikki. She returned about ten minutes later only to find Chat Noir on the same rooftop.
“I’m worried, their parents left just left them like that.” Chat sighed.
“They went to work.” Ladybug shrugged. “It was not as if they had a choice.”
They sat there for a while until Hannah went to collect the laundry and noticed them on the rooftop across the street. She motioned for them to come in.
“Hi, I’m Hannah.” The girl introduced herself. Her brothers jumped from the gallery and landed on the bed their parents used to sleep on.
“Hey, you are going to break it.” She protested.
“You do it to sister.” One of the brothers retorted.
“Why are you here?” The other asked.
“Anyone akumatized again?” Hannah whispered because she assumed it was her mother again.
“No, we just wanted to visit you and check on you.” Ladybug smiled. “Is there anything you need?”
Hannah took a deep breath. Her brothers watched her intently. It was now or never.
“I want to ask you something. We come from a country that was destroyed in a war. Many people got killed. Are you able to bring them back, can you launch your cure there, please?” Hannah stuttered out the question she wanted to ask. That was the shortest version of her speech, she concluded there was no point it the endless explanations, it can be done or it can’t.
“My magic does not work that way.” Ladybug smiled. “I am really sorry, but I can only revert the damage done during an akuma attack, or some other magical supervillain.”
Hannah nodded and looked at the floor while her eyes filled with tears quickly. She knew it was unrealistic. Marinette and Adrien already told her something like that.
“There are villains too.” Eddie exclaimed.
“Very bad villains, we saw how they work.” Robbie added.
“We are both very sorry.” Chat continued. “But Ladybug can’t fix what happened in your country.
“I would be very happy if I could.” Ladybug continued with a smile.
“You really can’t?” One of the boys cried disappointedly.
“If I could, I would, believe me.” Ladybug smiled sadly.
There was a moment of silence when everyone just looked at everyone else not sure what to say next.
“Well, I had to ask, sorry. And thank you. For the answer. And my mother. Thank you.” Hanna stuttered with a wet voice through her tears.
“You’re welcome.” Chat grinned.
After that the kids talked for a while until Ladybug decided it was late and a school night and they should all just go to bed. The two superheroes went only to the rooftop across the street and observed the window.
“It makes you feel kind of lucky.” Ladybug smiled warily. “To fight a war where you can bring everything back.”
Chat grinned, he wanted to tell her he felt lucky by her side and other cheesy lines, but he decided against it, he promised himself not to flirt with her so much.
“It makes me want to go there and cataclysm whatever and whoever hurt them.” He whispered.
“You know I could reverse that?” She smirked.
“You can reverse that and you can reverse everything done by magic but the memories.” He sighed.
Ladybug visibly shuddered. “Unfortunately.” She muttered out, she could not shake away memories of Chat Blanc, although there were other akuma battles she would rather forget.
“You would like to forget all this?” Chat asked curiously.
“There are akuma battles I’d prefer to forget.” She replied. “But I will have to forget this all one day, you know?”
“Why?” He tilted his head and looked at her.
“I’m a guardian, remember?” She whispered.
“Oh” he whispered back. Then he looked at her with so much sadness. And he started to spill his thoughts, it did not matter how cheesy it sounded.
“I do not want to forget you, ever. You made me feel alive. This” He wiggled his claws. “has given me more freedom than I could ever imagine. But it would have been worthless without you by my side. So I want to remember, everything. However, if I can help you with the duties of a guardian, please let me know.”
Ladybug smiled but turned away towards the park to hide her tears. She blinked them away quickly. It took some time until she trusted her voice. Chat became worried that he made her angry somehow.
“It’s complicated.” Ladybug replied quietly. “I tried to see if it is possible to share the guardian duties and all I got is that it is complicated.” She turned back towards her partner.
He smiled gently, he mentioned it before, when she was exhausted, so she considered it, she trusted him so much, she just did not find a way. They their separate ways with another fist bump, each of them was sure they prevented a second akuma from the same family that evening.
And now everyone can go and find legal solutions for Hannah :)
(Actually, don't bother, it is not going to be important for this fic)
The family is naturally messed up, but trying to go through it together.
Chapter 17: Just a Friday
So what the heroes did about what they heard last night.
I guess this chapter is sort of not well done (I'm not happy) but I'm out of ideas for these conversations.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Alya was walking to school with Nino.
“Sorry, but I have to ask you this.” Alya took a deep breath. “When Hannah took off her clothes yesterday, did you find her attractive?”
“Nah, did you?” Nino replied dismissively and then teased.
Alya shook her head and gave him slightly disgusted look.
“She does not look attractive at all. Yeah, but I mean, she took off her clothes in front of the whole class, what to the boys think about that?” Alya whispered.
“Well Adrien was worried, Max and Markov were computing just how injured she was, Nathaniel probably drawing the whole incident … I said Chloe sucks and Kim agreed with me.” Nino summarized.
“Yes but … she took off her clothes just like that, it did not bother you?” Alya prodded further.
“She did what she had to do, the teacher complimented her reaction.” Nino shrugged. “Why does it bother you anyway? Are you jealous, babe?”
“Well it is just … Lila said she did it intentionally for the boys to see.” Alya muttered, the construction in her head was tilting and about to fall down. (The first out of many that had to be torn down).
Nino sighed. Lila also claimed her and Adrien were secretly dating or something, ever since the photo shoot, and then Adrien refuted it completely. Ever since that conversation, the boy started to take claims from Lila with a few extra brain cells. So he actually took several seconds to replay the facts in his head.
“Are you telling me Hannah intentionally got splashed by chemicals by Chloe?” Nino fixed his hat.
Alya glared at him and the boy lowered his head. Okay, this was making no sense, but Lila said that Hannah had some hidden motives and Alya was about to find out just what they were.
Strangely awake on time, Marinette was getting ready for school.
“I thought Hannah was going to be akumatized after I told her I can’t fix her country back to the way it used to be.” Marinette told her kwami.
“She is stronger than you thought, Marinette.” Tikki chirped.
“Yeah, she had given up on her dreams at least once.” Marinette said thoughtfully. “Her whole family had to give up on their dreams.”
“Yes.” Tikki encouraged the girl to continue with her line of thought.
“But giving up on your dreams is hard. Does that mean that I have to give up on my dreams, about Adrien?” Marinette whispered and stared at her Kwami. “I should give up on Adrien and focus on Luka ...” ‘Or Chat’ an annoying voice in her head added to that. Or perhaps she should just give up on the boys completely and focus on her duties and responsibilities.
“Hannah has different dreams now.” The tiny goddess of destruction reminded her.
“That are unreachable too.” Marinette sighed. “Like not bringing back her country.”
“That one is for the best Marinette.” Tikki chirped.
“Well I better start going or I will be late in the end.” Marinette checked the time and picked up her backpack.
“Ladybug trusts me.” Were the first words Adrien spoke after he opened his eyes, on his own and before the alarm clock went off. Plagg groaned in response and muttered something about pining and mushy stuff.
“She considered to share the guardian duties with me Plagg. Can it be done?” The boy poked his grumpy kwami.
“Camembert.” Plagg pronounced dramatically with his eyes closed as he pretended to be talking in his sleep.
The boy jumped to his feet and threw a triangle at his sleeping kwami. Without opening his eyes, Plagg opened his mouth and the triangle landed safely inside, he swallowed it whole and licked his lips.
“Ahem?” Adrien stared at his kwami.
“That piece of knowledge is not accessible to kwami, that is the guardian stuff, just like the enhancement juices.” Plagg spoke while he squinted one eye open at his chosen.
Adrien threw himself at his kwami, but the target simply phased into the bed.
“You are not the god of destruction, you are the god of gluttony!” The boy teased and stomped away to his bathroom.
After his schedule ‘fencing, Chinese, dinner, piano’ and a lonely breakfast (with more cheese for Plagg) Adrien was in the car and remembered other events from the last night.
“I want to find a way to help Hannah, Plagg.” The boy whispered. “I should tell her parents what I did and why I did it.”
“That ...” Plagg retorted quickly to the first sentence (he was about to say something like haven’t you helped her enough or that only got her in trouble in the first place) but then thought about it more.. “Just might be a good idea kid.”
“And Marinette, she could to it too.” Adrien added. “We could go together and ...”
“And just how do you plan to do it without revealing your identity and the fact that Chat Noir eavesdropped on some random civilian argument kid?” Plagg teased.
“Ugh, I’ll think of something.” Adrien groaned.
Hannah hurried her brothers to school that morning. Her parents did not return from the night shift before the three of them left. She left her two brothers and run to the bakery. Sabine waved her to come in, she just served some customers and there was nobody waiting at that moment.
“Marinette, your friend Hannah is here.” Sabine called to the kitchen.
Marinette practically ran out and Tom peeked to wave help before he disappeared back to the ovens. Hannah was vaguely aware of everything around her, the smell of pastries consumed her senses.
“Good morning Tom, Sabine, Marinette.” Hannah greeted and took a deep breath.
Sabine quickly put a pain au chocolate in her hand. Marinette carried another in her hand and a brown paper bag. Hannah collected herself as she wanted to speak what she came for.
“Thank you maman, we are going.” Marinette greeted and pulled Hannah out from the shop before the girl had a chance to speak.
“Actually.” Hannah complained, she stared at the shop door while Marinette was pulling her away. Hannah looked at the shop door, then at the pain au chocolate in her hand, longingly, then she finally turned in the direction they were walking. The internal battle in her was too strong. She had to ask Marinette to stop bringing her pastries, she loved them, her family loved them, but her mother got akumatized last night and that was just too much.
Marinette sensed why Hannah was there, she did not want to give the girl the chance to speak, that was the plan A. She already had a plan B and C in line, she was Ladybug.
Adrien popped out from his car just in front of the girls, Marinette was startled, blushed and finally stopped and dropped Hannah’s hand. Hannah needed a fraction of the second more to stop her movement so she ran into Marinette who consequently bumped her face straight into the boy’s chest. The boy caught both girls, laughed greeted them.
Several pairs of eyes were on the three students. Olive green eyes narrowed and their owner skidded into school. Icy blue ones stared for a second before their owner was dragged into the school. Nino and Alya watched from afar ans Adrien led the two girls over the stairs and through the school gates. Finally, Hannah saw her chance to speak.
“We need to talk, about this.” She turned to her pain au chocolate, it was so warm, it smelled so nicely. She was so sorry to say this. “Um, pastries, please stop bringing pastries? My mother was angry.” She looked at her feet. The pain au chocolate in her hand smelled so nicely.
Adrien froze, he expected to have more time, to warn Marinette, to prevent the discord between his friends.
Marinette stilled, her eyes in panic, that was the conversation she wanted to avoid.
“You don’t like them?” She asked timidly, stupid, stupid, stupid question.
“Of course yes! I mean no! Ummm … I like them. Brothers like them. Papa likes them. Mother does not.” She stuttered out. Adrien decided that he just had to fix this and fast.
“So I can bring the pastries to you and your brothers and your papa?” Marinette offered.
“No, my mother she ...” Hannah looked at the pain au chocolate sadly.
Adrien reached into the brown paper bag and produced a croissant.
“My father does not like it when I eat these, but what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him, you know.” The boy smiled a Chat Noir crooked smile and bit off a piece of pastry.
Marinette smiled at the boy, she was lost somewhere as she looked at him.
Hannah turned her eyes from Adrien back to the pastry in her hand. She took a deep breath, exhaled and slowly bit off a piece and chewed. It felt so good. Why did the disobedience and not doing the right thing taste so good. Her lips curved in a small smile.
“We will think of something to do.” Marinette patted her shoulder.
“Okay.” Hannah replied timidly and bit off more.
They continued in comfortable silence. Adrien remembered how Hannah was scolded for the new clothes. He remembered how he wanted to do something about it, to talk to her parents, if possible.
“Your parents work night shifts?” Adrien asked, that was the information he learned yesterday as Adrien he could start from there and learn when he could find them home.
“Yes, they are still at work.” She checked the time. “For one more hour.”
Marinette wanted to switch the subject away from Hannah’s parents and the argument because the girl was obviously stressed by the conversation. She noticed Hannah was wearing the pink tunic and blue leggings Marinette gave her.
“Did your brothers like their clothes?” Marinette blurted out (Ladybug was not there to hear that part of the argument). Adrien paled. That was exactly what he did not want to bring about.
“They like it, it fits them.” She replied with a hint of sadness in her voice. (Take ‘it fits them’ anywhere between they can zip it up and it is not falling off their hips).
Adrien rubbed the back of his neck, he needed to steer this conversation away and fast.
“And this tunic and the tights, they are really nice.” She continued, but she looked away.
“What is wrong Hannah?” Marinette asked gently. “I’m sorry I could not get you new clothes like Chloe.”
Adrien wanted to jump out of his skin, that was exactly what she was not supposed to say.
Hannah raised her eyes, there was only one emotion, fear.
“No no no, it is fine, used is fine, really. I like it. I love it. It is so beautiful.” Hannah cried, she was not about to hurt her friend just because of her parents, she could not do that, fist the pastries, then the clothes.
“What is beautiful?” Alya cut in as she and Nino finally caught up to the three of them in the school yard.
“This.” Hannah showed her tunic. “And this.” she pointed to the flowers on her tights.
“I got her this outfit when Chloe ruined her clothes yesterday.” Marinette explained.
Nino was walking next to Adrien behind the girls.
“You designed this?” Alya exclaimed while they were entering the locker room.
Marinette confirmed with a wide smile and walked towards her locker.
“Like the designer like the model. That is the only kind of designer clothes for them. Ridiculous, utterly ridiculous.” Chloe commented so loudly that everyone could hear.
“Exactly, and I find both really amazing.” Adrien cut in, glared at his childhood friend for a second before he proceeded to the two girls and wrapped an arm around each of them. Hannah did not understand what was happening, she looked at Marinette and Adrien, confused. Marinette blushed on her cloud nine unaware of her surroundings, Adrien smirked towards Chloe who huffed and walked away.
Nobody noticed Lila with narrowed eyes and clenched fists.
They were leaving the locker room and Lila sneaked up to her prey.
“Hannah” She called quietly and sweetly tot he girl who was just behind the group. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Oh Lila! Good morning Lila!” Hannah exclaimed loudly.
That was just too lout to go unnoticed by the rest of the group. Adrien flipped around in a split of a second. Marinette groaned and frowned towards the liar. Alya raised her eyebrows. Nino observed patiently. All four of them were standing and looking at the exchange.
“You see.” Lila fluttered her eyelashes, her original plan to confront Hannah one on one had backfired. “I have so many obligations, so many charity events to attend to, I mean Prince Ali sent his private jet for me only the other day and ...” Lila was telling her tall tales, but Hannah was not able to discern any meaning. The events from last night were rather fresh in her memory.
It took a heart beat for all her fears to flash before her eyes and then to bury them deep. Lila was a daughter of a diplomat, and worked in charities, she could find out and reveal her secret for sure. Then Lila would hate her, think low of her, expose her, dump her parents into a prison and whatever unknown awaited her and her brothers, she needed to make herself look good. “Do you need help with your homework?”
“Homework?” That was not part of her plan. She wanted something else. But she had all these unfilled worksheets and Hannah was just there. “How nice of you to offer to solve it for me. I was just so busy with organizing those climate actions, you know, Clara Nightingale sent a private jet just for me and ...” Lila passed her worksheets in Hannah’s hands as soon as she started speaking. Since the girl got lost in the speech in the middle of the first sentence, she focused on the worksheets. She filled in her own worksheets and returned them, but she could easily do these from her memory.
Marinette wished she could switch off just like Hannah just did then she started to make a plan, she had to make Hannah see through Lila’s lies. Adrien had a gloomy face, Hannah was being used. He looked at Marinette with worried face and back towards Hannah. He had to do something, but what, just what was it that he could do?
I hope you got just how socially awkward Hannah is (she is not aware when she is faced with a straight on insult!) partially due to her poor language skills and that it actually helps her not to get akumatized.
Also, her adoration of Lila goes so far that she is intimidated by her (by her supposed achievements and possibility to disclose her as a fraud) and is ready to offer the only thing that could make her happy.
Chapter 18: Planning
The school day, Adrien in a protection and fix it mode, Marinette is clumsy and Lila schemes.
This one looks in a good shape, I just hope that flour and flower are in the right spots.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannah wanted to explain the tasks to Lila, but Lila was not interested. “Just fill in the worksheets for me, please, I could not possibly. The arthritis in my hand is getting worse I can’t even feel it. I could not possibly hold a pen today.” Lila was in her element.
“Arthritis?” Hannah asked as she thought she heard the word wrong.
“Yes I have this most awful arthritis, I used to play the piano so well, but then the illness prevented me from playing at all. It gets so bad I can hardly take notes some days.” Lila continued to talk, but Hannah was already lost on her. She could ask her parents for advice on a young girl with arthritis, she always helped her friends like that.
Hannah filled in the computation part of the worksheets rather quickly, but then she had to write in her own words the explanation of certain phenomena. She scribbled it rather quickly as she wanted to be finished before the roll call was finished.
Lila checked her worksheets carefully, it looked correct, all the fields were filled in, the handwriting was neat and easily readable. She handed over her worksheets and returned to her seat with a sly smile and a warning glare towards Marinette.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, partially because Marinette refused to leave Hannah alone. The grades for their first exercise in English were back, the students were given worksheets for homework and a lecture. Hannah was happy with her first results.
Marinette groaned at the mistake she made. Hannah put her paper on the side and leaned over the desk to see what bothered her colleague in front of her. Lila took the opportunity and took a photo of what Hannah wrote.
Ivan noticed what she did and raised his eyebrows at her. Lila just faked and innocent smile and put her index finger over her lips. Ivan frowned. Then he looked back on his paper. He expected a better grade.
Finally, the last class they had was the math and the test results were back. Alix and Kim were crossing their fingers, more for their bet than for their own test results. The rest of the class was tense with anticipation. The teacher, monsieur Poincare, looked rather relaxed.
“I know we had an akuma attack during our last class so I will let those of you who failed to take the test again. Those of you who think you could do better are also invited to stay. The test will take place exactly after we finish with this class and the rest of your colleagues can go home.”
There were several groans from the students, because it was Friday afternoon and nobody wanted to stay in school longer.
“Now I want to praise those who got one hundred percent.” The teacher announced with a dramatic pause. “Max and Hannah.”
Alix and Kim instantly started whispering, they argued if that was a tie or not. (Max decided it was a tie, for their bet, he decided there was no competition between him and Hannah).
The rest of the class did better than expected, save a disappointment from Alya (too busy with the Ladyblog after the akuma attack), a sigh from Nathaniel (‘your doodles are beautiful but please solve the problems too’ the teacher wrote), Ivan who messed up a few tasks and a groan from Kim.
“Finally, I would like to stress that these were not group assignments and that you were expected to solve the problems yourself. I understand that some of you asked your colleagues for help, but that does not mean you can simply give me a paper where they solved the problems you got and explained the procedure for you.” The teacher glared towards Lila, but did not call her out. “If this happens again, I will have to call out some names. And, for the rest of you, you should not do the homework nor the other assignments of your classmates.” Hannah was shrinking in her chair under his gaze. She knew she was guilty as charged and this was exactly not what she wanted to achieve.
Then the teacher started to teach a new lesson until the bell rang for the end of the school day (for most).
Lila had to stay and take the test again. Alya was also ready to try to get a better grade for that test. Kim, Nathaniel and Ivan stayed too.
“Hey everybody.” Adrien called in the locker room. “Tomorrow is the first fencing tournament of the season, here in school, it starts at eleven, so if you have nothing better to do ...” The boy smiled.
“Of course, we would love to come, dude.” Nino grinned.
“Yeah, we will all be here, right Marinette?” Alya nudged Marinette with her elbow. Marinette rubbed the place where she got nudged, smiled and nodded while her face turned pink. Why was she blushing again, she was never going to get over her crush this way. And why was Alya teasing her about this, she was sort of supposed to move on and give a chance to Luka. She had to put her heart on hold, this was just too much. Now she saw Adrien every day again.
“Hannah are you coming?” Adrien singled out the girl.
“I … um … my brothers?” She stuttered out.
“Bring them too.” He smiled.
“And you are all invited to the Kitty Section rehearsal on the Liberty in the afternoon.” Juleka muttered.
“Ugh, I have Chris.” Nino complained.
“And I have the twins.” Alya groaned.
Marinette pulled Hannah to the side and asked quietly “Hannah, would you like to apply for a school tutor for you French?”
“Tutor?” Hannah asked.
“Yes, for your supplement classes, perhaps working with a tutor would be the best for you.” Marinette smiled. She got the idea from Luka the day before.
“I had a tutor for French.” Kagami spoke from just behind the two girls. Both girls were startled and Kagami smirked at her achievement. “I would recommend.”
“Well, okay then.” Hannah was still not sure if she should take on the offer.
“Hey Kagami.” Adrien greeted ready to go fencing.
“Hi Adrien! I was just explaining to Hannah the benefits of having a tutor for French.” Kagami greeted back.
“And the school could provide her one, it would be another student from school who would volunteer one hour per week.” Marinette explained in her class president duty style.
“One hour per week?” Kagami asked incredulously.
“Which student is going to tutor her?” Adrien inquired.
“Um, we will see?” Marinette shrugged, she was reluctant to take on one more responsibility.
Adrien, on the other hand, thought how he just might take on one hour per week, he would spend more time in school and invent some kind of excuse for his father, like the excellent students just have to do it or something else. Kagami pulled him away to go for the fencing practise.
“You want to tutor her?” Kagami said as a matter of a fact.
Adrien smiled sheepishly. “Am I so obvious?”
“Yes.” She replied flatly.
Marinette and Hannah went to the office of principal Damocles and Hannah filled out an application before they went home with a promise to see each other the next day.
The fencing practice was particularly short and efficient that day due to the forthcoming tournament. Kagami was in the zone and cut the talking to a minimum. They were dismissed after a few quick duels with equal number of points for both sides.
“You are not very talkative today.” Adrien noted while they walked back to the lockers.
“We have the tournament tomorrow.” Kagami was not happy. “We should have practised more.”
“Um, yes, we could have practised more.” Adrien rubbed the back of his neck. “Want to fetch some ice cream after this?”
Kagami smiled before she went back to her usual serious expression.
“No, I always practise in the park with mother before a tournament, she will be expecting me soon.” Kagami replied without any emotion in her tone.
“Well, okay then, have fun.” Adrien greeted. He went straight into the office of principal Damocles, still wearing his fencing gear. He made a deal to take Hannah and only her as a tutor, it was not the usual practice, but Adrien negotiated anyway, because he wanted to be sure that he would never get to tutor Lila.
Adrien changed and got into the car.
“We have a little time, would you mind if we stopped by Hannah on our way to the mansion?” Adrien asked his driver as nicely as he could. The driver grunted back and stopped by one shop, he was out of the shop in less than a minute with a small flower in a pot and a box of chocolates. Then they continued to the building where Hannah lived.
Adrien was followed by his bodyguard who carried the flower and the chocolates. The boy wondered why his driver did it but kept his thoughts to himself. It was not as if he expected the man to actually explain himself even if he asked.
They both knocked on the door together.
“Adrien.” Hannah whispered when she opened the door. Soon her father appeared in the door frame.
“Papa, this is Adrien, my classmate.” Hannah whispered excitedly.
“Would you like to come in?” The man asked quietly.
“Actually I just wanted to tell you … “ Adrien was looking at Hannah’s father. “I wanted to apologize for the actions of my classmate yesterday, Chloe Bourgeois, her poor judgement had lead to your daughter’s injuries and material damage. She, Marinette and me all reciprocated for the damage she caused.”
“Thank you son, Adrien?” The man spoke. “It was a lot. Thank you for helping my daughter.”
“And please keep it all, we want you to keep it.” Adrien cut in. “Also, if you need anything, please let us know.”
“You are very kind young boy.” Hannah’s father spoke.
Then Adrien’s bodyguard grunted a few words and handed over the box of chocolates and the flower. Hannah’s eyes went wide. Adrien was puzzled. The two men exchanged a few short sentences before they hugged each other.
“Your bodyguard speaks one of the languages spoken in my country.” Hannah whispered to Adrien. “I don’t speak it, but I can understand.”
They greeted each other and left. Adrien’s bodyguard kept patting the boys shoulder all the way to the car, his eyes wet with a small smile on his lips.
Marinette burst into the bakery after she left her school bag in her room. She was ready to do all the packing for the orders and then deliver a box of pastries to Hannah. She already invented a story how it was some kind of local custom, that she absolutely had to deliver pastries to her classmates and friends, especially those who lived so close, that it was absolutely crucial for them to accept those small gifts of pastries and she made a mental note to remove those specimens that got visibly damaged.
Well, that was the plan, the execution was something else.
She was helping out her father by adding some flour to a bowl. She added the flour to the bowl perfectly and then tiptoed away in all her glory, she merely glanced towards the ovens, tripped, flailed her hands and the bag of flour hit a table and some flour slipped on the floor.
That was not so bad, save there was no time to clean it up.
Then she was bringing her mother a glass of water to drink, well she also carried a glass of water for her papa and herself because everyone should drink sufficient water during the day. Needles to say, three glasses, two hands (no tray) and factor in Marinette, one of the glasses fell to the floor. Fortunately, they were using those permanent plastic glasses (do not break, wash in a dishwasher, perfect), so Marinette delivered the water to her parents, wiped the floor quickly with one sweep of a cloth and was ready for the next task.
Which was to take the macarons from the oven and place them on the table to cool off.
That was four trays of macarons that baked on different levels.
Tray one. Pink. Fine.
Tray two. Green. Fine.
Tray three. Red. Fine.
Tray four. Yellow. A patch of wet floor and she landed on her but straight into that pile of flour, fortunately flour and water did not get in contact. The tray of undamaged yellow macarons was safely in her hands. Her behind hurt, her pride was injured but the macarons were whole.
She put the next round of macarons in the oven and continued to deliver the baked goods into the shop for her mother. The shop was crowded, it was a Friday afternoon with fine weather outside. Everyone dropped in for a snack or a piece of pastry to take home for a quick meal before going out.
Lila was well aware that she probably failed her math test. Why the teacher checked the handwriting and why did Hannah write those instructions? Those were even written in pencil, Lila could have simply erased them, but she did not and the teacher knew it was not Lila who solved those problems. Well, Lila had a solution for every problem, she blamed her wrist and her arthritis. ‘I could not write this myself so I dictated Hannah what to write, you have to take into account those scores, they are mine.’ She whined to the teacher. ‘It was Hannah who copied my results, that is how she got one hundred percent.’ The excuse did not work on the math teacher (who not only clearly remembered, but in fact noted on the worksheet that Hannah handed in her worksheet early, during the class, while Lila handed it over a day later and he only accepted it because of the akuma attack). But the act definitely worked on principal Damocles, he promised to talk to the math teacher. Ms Bustier had left already for the weekend, otherwise Lila would have included her in the scheme. Well, there was always Monday.
That was strike one, Hannah was a cheater.
She wanted to make Hannah look like a bully, fake an injury again, but the act the girl did in the science class when she stripped off her clothes was just a gift from the heavens, Lila filled in an anonymous complaint about that and she just had to wait for the outcome. She was little disappointed that the fallout did not start already that morning, but the paperwork probably got stalled somewhere, it was the first week of school anyway.
Strike two, Hannah bullied her classmates by exposing her naked body parts.
And now the stealing. She needed to make Hannah look like a thief. But this time it was not going to be as if Hannah stole from Lila, oh no, Lila was going to steal something from someone else and then frame it to Hannah. Stealing from Chloe would have been ideal, but with Sabrina as her bodyguard, it was the mission impossible and Lila was no Tom Cruise, although she claimed she was going to spend this weekend with the actor in Venice. Therefore, Lila decided to go for an option B, which was to steal something from Marinette. And that was how she ended up in the bakery. The luck must have been on her side because, from the crowd, Lila took a really good photo of Marinette with her butt white from flour.
She was about to sneak into the bakery and the flat upstairs when Luka entered the shop and observed her. The boy simply stared at her, there was no chance for her to slip unnoticed now, Marinette was in the shop, Lila could only leave, so she did. Well, she postponed to finalize her plan in school on Monday. Or, perhaps, she could modify her plan and switch from Marinette to Adrien for her plan B.
Lila was going to get Hannah expelled, and the Adrien and Marinette were going to do anything to make Lila bring their little girl back to school, she was getting more slaves.
And we get some rest from Lila for a few chapters.
Imagine Adrien's bodyguard left that country years ago and settled in Paris.
Chapter 19: Evading Blows
Cookies and coffee, akuma fight, fencing tournament and having fun.
You might be confused by the 'change in personality'. There is none, the guests are treated politely while sweets and little family persuasion might lead to a change in attitude.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Marinette was as awkward as ever while she evaded turning her back to Luka while her behind was white with flour (Sabine warned her). She changed and joined her parents who decided to have a short walk and pay a visit to Hannah with a hope to meet her parents. Busy with changing her clothes, Marinette never checked how damaged the pastries are.
“Maman, papa, perhaps we should tell them that they have to take the pastries, that this is some local custom, that we have to do it, that ...” Marinette spoke quickly on their walk through the park.
“Are her parents embarrassed to take gifts?” Sabine inquired.
Marinette confirmed after she found no other way out.
“Just leave it to me.” Sabine smiled and winked to her husband.
“Pastries, pastries!” The boys cheered from the moment they opened the door. Hannah just smiled widely and greeted her classmate. The three of them entered and got seated at the small table, the boys and Hannah removed their homework to make space for the pastries.
The introductions between the adults were exchanged with polite smiles and heartily handshakes, the coffee was brewed, the tea was made, kids got their juice and everyone got a place to sit (adults at the table, kids on the ladder that lead to the gallery). The magnificent and long expected moment had arrived. With a ceremonial ‘Ta Dah” Hannah’s father opened the box with pastries.
To Marinette’s utter horror, there were several oddly shaped macarons on top, and one broken specimen.
“Macarons.” The boys exclaimed.
“This one is broken, it is not for you.” The father teased, took it and put it into his mouth in an instant. “Nobody saw this, right?” He winked to Tom. Marinette was relieved, there was no negative reaction so far, at least from the father. Both girls looked ad Hannah’s mother and what was she going to do next.
“Hey, I like the yellow ones.” Mary complained and looked into the box. “Sweets, I love sweets.” She whispered gently. “So many, where do I even start?” Her attitude was unrecognizable.
“Perhaps our guests should start.” Hannah’s father offered.
After a few awkward moments of hesitation everyone was taking pieces of pastry from the box, eating, chatting and drinking. The adults had a conversation of their own, while Marinette and Hannah climbed all the way up and sat on Hannah’s bed. They played one of the board games from the package that Adrien brought. Marinette won, but she had a feeling Hannah did not even bother to win against her. Marinette and her parents left after half an hour of pleasant socializing.
If only Hawk Moth bothered not to strike during dinner, but that was exactly what happened. And this particular akuma caused the loss of electricity around the city centre. Tom insisted on having a candle lit dinner and Marinette suffered for she could not even finish her meal early and leave with an excuse of homework.
“How would you write it now, when there is no light, you can write it when the electricity returns, dear, you have the whole weekend.” Sabine said.
“I should leave you to finish your romantic evening alone.” Marinette tried next after a minute or two.
“Oh, please don’t tell us that we are making you uncomfortable, dear.” Tom teased.
“Well, then, I won’t tell you.” Marinette teased back.
“You can go to your room if you want it so much.” Her mother winked and Marinette did not wait one second for them to change their minds. “I’m sure she is going to spend hours on the phone with the girls.” Sabine told her husband.
Well that was just the first of her problems.
She transformed and climbed up from her room on muscle memory.
Outside, there was only darkness. The sun had set, the sky was covered with a layer of clouds and no electricity meant no lights, anywhere. Ladybug did not have the night vision. She took a few deep breaths and flung her yoyo blindly. She did not see where she was going. At one point she was free falling and did not have a clue what to do next. She only hoped that her magical suit would prevent her from injuries.
And then she slammed into a very familiar body.
“Do you see where we are?” Chat asked in the darkness after he swallowed all the flirting and puns.
“I do not see anything.” Ladybug admitted. They rolled over each other and stopped with Chat Noir on top of her. She did see something, she saw his eyes, but that was it.
“That is why it took you so long. I was looking for you. This is the street where we first met. You fell on me from the sky then too.” He said as he raised to his feet, there was longing in his tone that he could not hide.
Ladybug paled, did he see that she started from Marinette’s rooftop terrace?
“Let me help you.” Chat took her hand in the dark and pulled her up on her feet.
“Have you seen the akuma?” She asked.
“He calls himself Powerless.” Chat informed. “There is no electricity, and he even destroyed a few battery powered systems. The hospitals are on the power generators and we have to keep the akuma away from those.”
“And the akumatized object?” She inquired further.
“He has a weapon in a shape of a plug that shoots rays.” Chat grinned and motioned with his hands for a while until he realized that Ladybug could not see anything from his show.
“Can you fetch it when I call it?” Ladybug asked before she called for her lucky charm.
Chat caught the giant reflector, similar to one that Chloe used to lure Ladybug.
They turned it on and waited. Then Ladybug took a glass table from a nearby cafe and placed it over the reflector.
“That should refract the beams.” Ladybug whispered.
“So we hide and wait.” Chat concluded. He knew Ladybug had only five minutes. “Will you have enough time?”
“I don’t know. I’m kind of useless in this battle. At least you are not the bait this time.” That statement was begging for some cheeky retort about how he was attractive bait to take all those blows, but there was something in her tone that prevented him.
“At least you are not the bait either.” He muttered back. His brain reminded the boy about all those times when he felt useless.
The akuma was there just in time to get caught, Chat destroyed the akumatized object and Ladybug needed the reflector to actually locate the violet butterfly, catch it and cleanse it.
“Miraculous Ladybug” She shouted and launched the heavy reflector in the air.
Whatever was broken was fixed and the lights were back on after the moment Ladybug’s earrings issued their one minute warning.
“I’m sorry Chaton, I really have to bug out” Ladybug offered her fist. Chat bumped it, wished her good night and went to console the tired electricity worker.
Ladybug barely landed on her rooftop terrace before her transformation faded.
“I’m sorry Tikki, I could not find my purse or a cookie for the recharge in the darkness.”
“That is okay.” Tikki chirped and yawned. Marinette landed on her bed and produced a macaron from a small box on her night stand. Both the girl and her kwami were asleep very soon.
That Saturday morning Hannah took her brothers to the community centre, she was on a mission. All three of them were going to take French lessons that included speaking to a native speaker, regular practice, no more occasional small talk in a shop or in the centre. She signed up their names, but the list was long. She was told not to hope for much any time soon.
The three of them went to the community room. Hannah painted again, more pictures from her nightmares, destroyed buildings and blood, dark shades of grey and red. She was quick, there were not too many details on any of her aquarelles. She avoided the details, she pushed them away from her memories. Sometimes she would paint the scenery she encountered on her way in shades of green and blue. It was almost ten in the morning when her art teacher found her.
“Hannah” He greeted with a smile. “I see you still paint here.”
“Yeah, I do not have the tools nor space at home.” She smiled. She also had no time when she remembered how many things she had to learn and how much homework she had and she needed twice more time just to understand what was required of her to do in several subjects.
The teacher observed the paintings.
“Would you please sign these two too? The centre would like to use any art created here to support its activities.” The art teacher smiled gently. “We plan to make an auction next week and collect donations to maintain this centre operational. We all volunteer here, but there are still bills to pay and equipment to purchase.”
Hannah smiled and signed the paintings. At least there was some use for her work. The teacher let them dry and they talked a bit about the colours and the brush strokes. Then she helped him with the captions for her paintings, she was amazed how many got collected over those few months she was in Paris. She used to come each day with her brothers, she would paint and learn a little French each day. But that was the summer programme, she was in school and needed a different schedule.
She checked the time. It was time for her to leave as another group was taking the premisses of the art room for their lesson in painting.
Hannah picked up her two brothers from the game room. It was time to go for the fencing tournament in her school. She was tempted to just leave her brothers there to play games, but she promised her parents to take care of them. She was relieved, she expected them to whine and disobey as she often had hard time to separate them from gaming utilities.
Marinette waited for the rest of the class in front of the school.
“What is so special about that girl and why couldn’t you be so nice to Lila?” Alya demanded from Marinette.
“I can’t tell you Alya why Hannah is so interesting.” Marinette smiled to her friend. “As for Lila, you will have to see for yourself.” She muttered as she turned away.
“Yeah I see for myself.” Alya crossed her arms, she was already tired of the same story. “I wonder why you are not jealous of Hannah, Adrien obviously pays too much attention to her. Even Lila noticed that. That new girl is hiding something and I know it.”
Marinette just smiled. It was not as if Hannah was hiding anything, she was like an open book, just each of the pages was a new surprise. And the worst thing was, Hannah would have made such a nice story for Alya, genuine and exciting, not pompous and fabricated.
“Hi Marinette, Hi Alya” Hannah greeted and introduced her brothers.
Alya gaped at the two boys before she shook the offered hands.
Rose and Juleka joined together with Luka who just tied up his bike.
“I finished my deliveries early today so that I can watch this.” Luka smiled at Marinette.
After quick greetings and introductions they went to the gym to watch the tournament.
The whole class was cheering for Adrien who bowed to them after the duel he won. Adrien approached his classmates and took off the head gear. Luka was shouting and screaming so much that Marinette put her finger in her ear that was closer to the musician.
Adrien smiled and waved to everybody.
“Hey, Hannah, you brought your brothers with you.” The boy shouted.
“Hi Adrien.” Both of them greeted. “Nice fight.”
“Are we going to the Liberty later?” Adrien asked everyone present. The members of the Kitty Section nodded, Marinette too.
Then it was turn for Kagami to engage in a duel. She fought efficiently and won points easily, Marinette lead the noisy cheering, Luka joined in even louder than her and soon the rest of the class was shouting Kagami’s name. (I have no idea if it is allowed to cheer during a fencing duel, it is not allowed in tennis while the ball is in the court, but yes after each point that is won.)
Then Kagami bowed and approached to greet them.
“Wow, fantastic.” Luka screamed carried away by the fierceness of the fight and everyone around him. Marinette was surprised by the energy Luka invested into cheering for his friends, he was usually so quiet and calm.
Adrien made a deal with Nathalie to have some time to celebrate the outcome. The whole group waited in front of the school for the two fencers to arrive and they walked together towards the boat on the Seine.
“That boy looks just like you Adrien.” Robbie said and pointed his finger towards a giant add on a rooftop across the Seine.
“Hey, his name is Adrien too.” Eddie noticed.
It was a perfume add.
Most of the teenagers present were snickering.
Hannah stared at the add, then at her classmate and then back.
“It is you?” She stammered through an awkward silence.
“That is a picture of me.” Adrien grinned. “The real thing is right over here.” He pointed at himself.
Marinette felt embarrassed for her adoration of Adrien adds, but they were a replacement for the real thing.
The boys were looking around and counted how many Adrien adds they could see and continued to do so until they reached the boat. Then they argued who saw more and who was the first to see that or this particular giant poster.
Hannah was silent, she felt slightly ashamed that she had such a famous classmate and she did not have a clue. No wonder he laughed at her when she did not know his name. But it was not a bad kind of laugh, she knew the boy wanted to be friends with her. Still, she felt guilty and stupid and as if she should have known. She passed by those posters, but she never paid much attention on what was depicted on those advertisements, nice boy, wide smile, wanted to sell something.
“Did you know?” Hannah whispered to Marinette.
“Yes.” Marinette was biting her lip and the inside of her cheek not to start laughing. Did she know? She knew the commercial by heart, she memorized it on the first day of its release, just like hundreds of his fans, she was there when he was hiding from them, what a bad timing to have the release of the new perfume add and the only projection of his mother’s film on the same day.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Hannah asked quietly.
Marinette stared with her eyes wide. Really, why she did not tell Hannah that their classmate was famous? It never occurred to her to make it relevant. Besides, he did not tell it himself.
“Because that.” Adrien stood in between the two girls and pointed towards the add. “It is not important. Okay. It is just something I do because my father wants me. I don’t love it. I mostly don’t hate it. That is probably how you feel about doing your laundry.”
Hannah nodded then looked at the giant add on a building nearby. “Doing laundry.”
“Actually, doing laundry with you in that basement was more fun than filming that add.” The boy continued. He beamed at Hannah, her brothers, Luka, Kagami, Marinette, everyone who was in that basement with him. They all smiled and chuckled and winked and sighed, but there was a hint of something else in their eyes, a realisation, he admitted to something he never mentioned before.
Kagami stood nearby and observed the exchange with a mix of awe and incredulity. Well, she had to admit that she had fun in that basement too. She spent time with other kids, more or less her age, played games, shared treats, it was fun. Doing laundry was fun, she decided to try that at home.
Marinette was amazed and confused, she did not expect that working in fashion was all fun and nice, but she never thought that Adrien did not enjoy working in the fashion industry, because she enjoyed designing so much. Besides, the boy in his position should have the world before his feet and choose what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be. She assumed only his freedom of movement was limited for security reasons (that demonstrated so obviously when they were running away from a mob of his fans). And considerably for reasons of his father’s paranoid fears as the boy had very limited opportunities to spend time with his friends.
Luka looked at Adrien with knowing eyes, as if he could see into the boy’s soul. All those adds, all those adds where Adrien looked as if he was embodiment of joy, of pure happiness, were in fact a testimony of his indifference to the profession and the activity he was pushed into, which was ultimately sad. Luka’s hands started to play a melody in the thin air, he needed his guitar, he needed to embrace the melody of his friend and let it come to life. Luka ruffled Adrien’s hair to calm down his nervous fingers. Adrien retaliated and poked his ribs. Soon the boys were teasing and pulling pranks on each other while Marinette and Kagami laughed.
Hannah looked at her two brothers teasing each other about the number of posters they counted and then at the two teens who were poking each other and laughed about it. Then she sighed.
“What is wrong?” Anarka asked.
“Mother is right, they never grow up.” Hannah shrugged and smiled.
“And that, my dear, is a good thing.” The woman replied as she grabbed the girl by her shoulders and took a good look at her. “So you are Hannah, my daughter’s new classmate? Welcome to Liberty, I am Anarka and this is my ship.”
A take on that love polygon in the next chapter.
Chapter 20: Music
The kids have fun on Liberty, and a few serious conversations.
Lot's of blushing in this one.
I'm treating them as fourteen to sixteen year old.
Hope I cleaned out the most embarrassing errors.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Kitty Section was playing their instruments and trying to agree on what to do with the melody while Rose was modifying the text to adapt. Marinette sat at the floor with her legs crossed before her and was trying to design the outfits for the next video of the band. Trying was the key word. She listed a set of themes and wishes from the band, Adrien insisted on a mask that would cover his face (and he additionally asked that it was not black for some reason). Concentrating on what she was doing had proven to be a problem. Because each time she raised her eyes towards Adrien or Luka, the boys were looking at her, Adrien even bothered to wink.
Anarka insisted on giving Kagami, Hannah and her brothers a small tour of the boat and told them stories about pirates and Freedom. It was easy to laugh at her antics, the woman spoke and acted as if she was a pirate and the boys were thrilled. They soon impersonated her. But when the boys pretended to go for an attack with the wooden sticks, Kagami quickly produced two more wooden sticks for Hannah and herself. Anarka screamed with delight to their enactment of the fighting scenes she just described. The boys attacked without a care in the world, about safety or anything else. But Kagami defended easily without hurting anyone, Hannah almost did not have to make a single move.
Marinette finally zoned out. The inspiration was there. She had the main pattern that should work for everyone, the only thing left was to adapt it to each of the band members. She dealt with Rose and Ivan easily. Juleka already had hair over her face and Marinette had a few ideas for her mask and turned her shirt into a short dress. Finally she could not avoid looking at the two boys. First she did the design for Luka, it was easier, he made her feel safe and relaxed. But one look at Adrien and his wink (again, it must be like seventh time that afternoon, not that she counted) was all it took for her to blush, stare at her drawing book and hide her face. She held her pen, but there was no drawing, no design, nothing was coming out from her.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid heart.” Marinette muttered as she tried to calm down. A few deep breaths and her hand was drawing the outline of Adrien’s face on its own, directly from her memory. She did not notice when Kagami sat by her side. Marinette’s hand moved and she was drawing Adrien, not the mask and not the design, just his face. She chided her stupid heart and wished she could just put her feelings on hold.
Kagami leaned over, her chin hovered above Marinette’s shoulder. The fencer admired how the drawing of the face was taking shape of Adrien. Marinette tuned out her surroundings entirely. It was the only way she could work. She was going to draw his face and only then she was going to adjust the mask. Kagami let her chin rest on Marinette’s shoulder while she watched the art come to life. But the artist continued her work.
Adrien felt giddy and relaxed ever since he explained how he felt about shooting the adds. Kagami produced no visible reaction, but Marinette blushed and struggled to explain why she omitted that particular detail. In a moment of bravery he finally admitted how he felt about it. And now he set himself free, he bantered with Luka, he let his fingers dance over the keyboard and find an inspiration on his own. He set his guard down and exposed his playful manners, since they were playing music, he let his face do the talking, he winked, waggled his eyebrows, smirked and grinned freely. Luka encouraged him with his own guitar riffs.
They took turns and challenges in inventing a new variation to the same melody on the keyboard and the guitar. The rest of the band was gone for the refreshments. Luka was just next to Adrien who was behind the keyboards. They would play, exchange a few nods and words and then play again differently. Luka leaned over to Adrien.
“I told Juleka about our visit to Hannah. I’m sure she passed the information to Rose.” Luka whispered and waited for Adrien to confirm that he understood. “There are some rumours passed around school about her.”
“What rumours?” Adrien flipped his head towards Luka. Was the secret that Hannah wanted to keep already out?
“It is about her jumping boys and showing off in the gym and undressing in science?” Luka inquired.
“We played handball and gymnastics, Chloe poured some chemical over her clothes.” Adrien explained briefly, but he was relieved to hear it was just some petty gossip.
“That is probably related to the story that she extorted gifts from Chloe, and Marinette, and you?” Luka inquired.
“Yeah, it is. Her clothes got ruined. Marinette got her something really beautiful, I just brought some old stuff for her brothers, it was too small for me anyway. Where do these stories come from?” Adrien inquired, it was bad if most of his classmates thought like that.
“Juleka heard it from Lila, Rose too I think.” Luka whispered.
“That lying ...” Adrien bit his tongue more as a habit of staying presentable model boy for his father’s brand than any other reason.
“Juleka looks up to Lila ever since you had that photo shoot with her. You know how she wants to be a model.” Luka explained.
“Lila is a nightmare. My father invited her to the photo shoot. I only did that photo shoot because I made a deal with that liar to invent another lie and bring Marinette back to school after she got her expelled. And my father made that liar his muse.” Adrien shook his head.
Luka needed a few moments. He stared at the blonde model boy in awe.
“You did that for Marinette?” Luka inquired.
“Yes. Only for her. Lila proximity makes me sick.” Adrien confirmed.
Luka took another moment to process the information he just got. The sheer act of self-sacrifice that Adrien did for Marinette overwhelmed him. He looked at the other boy gently. When Bob Roth and XY have stolen their music and Marinette’s design, he got akumatized, but Adrien actually found a way to help Marinette. He got her back to school. That was how she got back.
“You made a deal with the devil, then.” The older boy concluded.
“Yeah, and the devil is after Hannah now.” The model boy sighed.
Luka gave Adrien a tight side hug and squeezed his shoulder.
“You are really extraordinary boy Adrien. And I don’t mean it because of those posters and the way you look.” Luka spoke quietly and close to Adrien’s ear.
Adrien blushed at the praise he got. He usually heard how he looked extraordinarily.
“Thank you Luka, but the deal was worth it if it keeps my friends safe.”
“Your soul is clear and pure like a melody that leads you home. I won’t let anything happen to you.” Luka continued.
Adrien was red in the face but he did not forget to wink towards Marinette when he noticed she was looking at them.
“It is not that easy with Lila. She got Kagami akumatized, and Marinette when she got expelled.” Adrien warned.
“We have to protect them.” Luka concluded.
“You are so brave, determined and caring. You have better chance in protecting them than me.” Adrien looked to the side. He remembered when he returned the snake miraculous to Ladybug to give it to Luka.
It was Luka’s turn to blush.
“But you are there for them, I am sort of, their second chance?” Luka asked with a raised eyebrow. He was not sure if Adrien knew that Luka was Viperion, it was plausible, he never knew what exactly happened that day in the sewers.
Adrien chuckled but did not say anything, the memories of Desperada and his time as Aspik were too painful, he smiled gently at Luka, he saved the day (or a few months in Adrien’s time) when he became Viperion. The two boys remained close, they heard each other breathing and were not sure how to continue this conversation, it strayed in so many directions.
“I think Marinette totally zoned out.” Luka said looking away from the girl he just mentioned.
“Yeah, she did.” The blonde boy smiled at the scene before him.
“She is unaware of Kagami over there.” Luka whispered again.
Kagami raised her eyes to the two boys, smiled her small tight lipped smile and turned her eyes back down to look at the picture in the making.
Luka started to play a completely different melody than he used to.
“Hey, that’s totally different.” Adrien noted. “But it is nice.” He glanced towards Luka and then back to the girls before he picked up the melody and played it on the piano.
“What is this?” The blonde boy asked after they played the same theme of the melody over and over only slightly differently.
“It is the melody I sense from them.” Luka shrugged.
“You mean you just made it now on the go?” Adrien looked with his eyes wide.
“You picked it up very nicely.” Luka winked. “You feel them too, don’t you?”
Adrien blushed. He was not sure what he felt. But the melody the boys played was gentle and romantic, he could tell that much.
“Come on, let’s try again.” Luka nudged him and started to play. Adrien joined in and looked at the girls again.
Marinette felt her left shoulder went heavy and a little stiff, she tried to move it a little bit and discovered there was some weight on top of it. She turned to see what it was only to find Kagami smiling at her.
“Eep.” Marinette squealed and blushed. “How long have you been here?”
“From before you did his nose.” Kagami smiled. “I like watching you draw.”
Marinette settled back and looked back at the drawing.
“I should be designing, not drawing.” Marinette felt guilty because she was drawing Adrien (and had some thoughts while she was drawing his lips and his face and his eyes and …) and Kagami was right there, his girlfriend, she felt what she was doing was wrong.
“It is still nice.” Kagami smiled.
Marinette frowned at her sketchbook.
“no frowning.” Kagami teased. “Anarka said no negative feelings on her boat.”
Marinette sighed, with the history of how many times someone got akumatized while they were all on this boat, there was no wonder Anarka made that rule. But she sighed and looked at her sketchbook sadly.
“Come on, Anarka said no work, just fun!” Kagami poked Marinette in the ribs.
“That tickles me.” Marinette whined and giggled.
“Ticklish?” Kagami wiggled her fingers wickedly and then threw herself at Marinette. They giggled and tickled each other, the sketchbook and pencils left on the floor (deck).
The girls rolled over and tickled each other for a while. Giggling and out of breath, Kagami pulled away just a little bit. Marinette was catching breath, her face flushed.
“Would you draw me?” Kagami asked.
“Why not, it is not as if I am going to design anything more today, isn’t it?” Marinette replied and crawled back to her sketchbook. “So please sit, here.” Marinette pointed to the spot before her and Kagami obliged.
Marinette turned her sketchbook to a blank page and began to draw. She was drawing in silence until a black haired girl peeked to the drawing and placed her head between Marinette’s face and her sketchbook.
“Hey, no peeking. Sit there and wait for me to draw you.” Marinette ordered.
“Why? You could draw Adrien straight from your head, you did not even need to look at him, I watched you.” Kagami teased.
“I can always draw him out of my head.” Marinette muttered before she realized she said it out loud.
“You still have feelings for him, don’t you?” Kagami asked.
Marinette made a small nod.
“Huh, I just thought, back when we took that ice cream at Andre’s, I thought you let him go.” Kagami spoke quietly.
“I thought I have, I wanted to.” Marinette whispered.
“And I thought you chose Luka.” Kagami continued.
“Luka was nice to me when I felt weak. But ...” Marinette remembered that day when she broke down in tears and Luka was picking up her pieces.
“You like him but?” Kagami inquired.
“But Luka is so nice, why can’t I?” Marinette stared at her friend.
“Adrien is nice too.” Kagami sighed. The boy also tends to hesitate a lot for Kagami’s taste, but she was not going to complain about that.
“And gentle and caring and … You have seen what he did for Hannah.” Marinette continued. He was also brave, he helped Ladybug even as a civilian.
“Luka is also gentle and caring.” Kagami added with a smile.
“Yes he is.” Marinette laughed briefly. “They both are.”
“But he is not Adrien?” Kagami raised her eyebrows at her friend.
Marinette shook her head.
“You don’t just like Adrien, you love him, don’t you?” Kagami felt her eyes hurt, she was happy with Adrien, but she hurt her friend in the process. And the boy started to be awkward with her.
“I did not like him in the beginning you know.” Marinette whispered, and then she told the story about the gum and the umbrella and the lightning and everything. Kagami sat peacefully and kept the same expression on her face, her friend was really in love with her crush, the crush she was dating, at least trying to date, she was not sure what they were doing anyway.
“Well, you know how Adrien and me started off.” Kagami reminded Marinette.
“I’m so sorry about that day.” Marinette apologized, due to her error (and bias) she assigned to point to Adrien and Kagami got akumatized.
“Don’t be.” Kagami shook her head. “It was an honest mistake.”
“It wasn’t. I was biased. I’m sorry.” Marinette admitted.
“I thought you did not like me. I know Chloe doesn’t.” Kagami did not want to admit that the feeling might have been mutual.
“I … “ Marinette looked at Adrien. “might have been one tiny bit jealous? And Chloe doesn’t like anybody.”
“I am glad we got paired up for that game.” Kagami smiled.
“Me too.” Marinette smiled back, she remembered her fears, how if the two of them won the game, Kagami would win Adrien, so Marinette tried to sabotage the two of them and other girls won the game. But it did not help, Kagami got Adrien in the end. It was for the best, Marinette could not have a boyfriend, not really, she was Ladybug and a Guardian and all that secret life was just in the way. If only her heart would just stop beating so hard, if only those butterflies in her belly would calm down.
“Do you feel a melody for everyone?” Adrien inquired out of curiosity.
“Some people, well most people, but I would prefer not to hear it for some.” Luka replied as he strummed his guitar. The boy just laughed at the girls tickling each other and resumed their conversation from before.
“Do you … “ Adrien was reluctant to ask. “Do you feel mine?”
Luka was quiet for a while and then he began to strum a guitar again.
“Your melody has many themes, soft and gentle.” He strummed a few chords. “But also funny and teasing.” Then he played a happy tune. “But there is also a lingering tone of sadness and spleen.” Luka played a few notes before he stopped and looked at Adrien. The blonde boy gaped with his mouth open.
“That is amazing, how do you do it?” Adrien whispered in awe as Luka strummed the guitar with the same melody but played differently so it reflected the mood.
Luka shrugged and continued to play. After a while, Adrien started to follow the melody on the keyboard.
“Do you have your own melody?” Adrien asked after they both stopped.
Luka looked away.
Adrien felt like he maybe pushed just a little bit too much.
“Sorry.” He whispered.
“No, it is okay, you have every right to ask, but I don’t know, someone else should find it for me I guess.” The boy hugged his guitar and looked at Adrien.
“Can I try?” Adrien’s eyes were wide.
Adrien started to press the keys on the keyboard, a melody was formed after a while, a bit broken and awkward at times.
“Hey, that is the tune you played when I played my melody for you.” Luka noticed.
Adrien stopped to play.
“I don’t have a clue what am I doing, right?” The blonde boy laughed.
“Neither do I most of the time.” Luka admitted.
They both looked at the girls.
“They are having some serious conversation there.” Adrien noticed.
“Anarka said no negative emotions on board.” Luka frowned.
“Well, if Anarka said so … “ Adrien smiled crookedly and wiggled his fingers. Luka nodded. They both sneaked up to the girls. Adrien moved much like a cat, while Luka chose to hide behind a speaker and then jump.
Both boys jumped towards the girls and started tickling.
Four teenagers formed a pile of squirming, tickling, giggling and screaming mess, everybody was tickling anybody else they could reach. Adrien stole one band from Marinette’s pigtails and Kagami stole the other.
Someone coughed above them.
They stilled entirely, the only noise was their heavy breathing.
“Pizza is here.” Juleka muttered with a smirk and turned to walk away.
The four of them got up with a few laughs and more teasing before Marinette noticed her hair was not in her usual pigtails.
“You go, I’ll search for my hair bands.” Marinette turned back and searched the floor.
Luka made a step to help her, but Adrien grabbed one of his hands and Kagami took the other. They both showed the rubber bands they snatched. Luka laughed.
“Look guys, pizza is getting cold.” Luka spoke after a minute of all three of them snickering. “Marinette, your hair bands are here.”
The girl turned around.
“Oh you found them.” She noticed.
“You could say so.” Kagami smirked.
“I guess we knew where to look for them?” Adrien teased.
Marinette blushed, but held out her hands to get her hair bands back.
“No, you are staying like this, we prefer it this way.” Luka insisted.
Many flashbacks in this one ... and they talk about almost everything but the double date.
The next chapter is also on Liberty.
Chapter 21: Pizza
And the fluffy hang out continues
This is not a washing detergent commercial.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannah was sitting on a box on the deck while Mylenne was braiding her hair. Hannah’s brothers were playing with makeshift wooden swords. Ivan set up the pizza boxes and already started to eat. Juleka walked over to Rose and whispered something. The two girls giggled and whispered further.
“Come on, it is getting cold.” Anarka encouraged everyone to join in as she herself took one triangle and started eating.
“I’m not done with Hannah just yet.” Mylenne sighed.
“That is all right.” Ivan offered to feed his girlfriend with pizza.
“No, there will be pizza all over her hair. I will be finished soon enough. Just save me a piece, please.” Mylenne brushed him off gently.
“Can I help?” Kagami asked tentatively, Mylenne confirmed and moved to the side.
“More hands will make it faster.” Luka added and reached between the two girls with his long hands.
The three of them progressed very quickly.
“You are really skilled with these.” Kagami admired Luka’s hand work.
“I had practice on Juleka.” The boy smirked. “Here, let me help you.” Luka put his hands over Kagami’s and helped her fold the hair more neatly.
Robbie and Eddie took a slice of pizza each folded it and started to eat, but soon they were nudging and teasing each other, they were back on their feet with they wooden swords in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other dancing around each other in no time.
Adrien went straight for the pizza. Marinette joined him reluctantly as he offered her to sit beside him. Hannah stuttered answers about her family and her parents to the questions asked by Rose and Juleka. Rose kept her notebook where she was writing her ideas for song lyrics and was making notes from time to time. Suddenly both Adrien and Marinette stiffened and connected the dots.
“Is Rose making notes about Hannah?” Marinette whispered.
“It certainly looks like it.” Adrien replied quietly.
“Rose! What are you doing?” Marinette whisper-shouted.
Rose was not responding.
“She got an idea for a song.” Juleka muttered, she and Rose exchanged a gentle glance before Rose started scribbling again. “You can see it later.” Juleka continued.
“Finally, the last one is finished.” Mylenne announced and arranged the braids on Hannah’s head. The girl was excited about her hairdo, while the other three teens admired their work.
“Come on over, while there is still some food left.” Anarka called.
Mylenne walked over and sat on Ivan’s knee. Luka and Kagami took the seats previously taken by Eddie and Robbie (who were having another fencing duel in the background) while Hannah pulled the box she was sitting on closer to the rest of the group.
They were eating their pizza. Luka held his piece and changed the positions of his fingers as if he was pressing strings on a guitar and changing chords while he hummed some melody. Kagami leaned in and watched his fingers curious what the boy was doing. Then Luka moved suddenly and the slice of pizza got stuck on Kagami’s nose. Luka turned around, saw what he did as Kagami removed the slice of pizza from her face but there was one piece of cheese left. Luka wiped it off and ate it without thinking. But then he realized what he did and blushed. He decided to take a bite of his pizza and hide his face behind. But Kagami smirked and nudged his hand towards his face. He glared at her, she laughed at him and wiped off a piece and ate it too.
Hannah ate silently and watched her two brothers often.
“Don’t worry about them so much, you are not their mother.” Anarka warned.
Hannah looked back at her food and avoided Anarka’s eyes.
“I am their big sister.” The girl replied in a barely audible tone, but everyone was silent and eating.
“Help me out over here.” Anarka spoke to everyone around. “Hannah here has been caring about her brothers and her home for years now.”
Hannah wanted to protest.
“Your brothers told me.” Anarka started in a no nonsense tone. “You clean up your home, wash and iron the clothes, you cook the food regularly.”
“I don’t cook that much, my parents cook when they are home.” The girl argued bravely.
“Nobody stands up to Anarka in that mood.” Luka whispered to Kagami.
“Which is not that often and then they sleep for their next shift. And it is you who checks their homework?” Anarka was incredulous.
“My parents have hard jobs.” Hannah defended. “And study during the week.” And it was much better for her if she checks the homework of her brothers, that way she caught many new words and expressions used in school.
“Anyway, I think you need some time off, so you are welcome here on Liberty whenever you want. You have so many duties you forgot how to be a child. And you can bring these two pests of yours with you if you must. I’ll make them some fine sea men one day.” Anarka spoke in that pirate sort of way and the two boys laughed at her antics and dared her to fight them. Hannah took her slice of pizza and walked away from the group to calm down after the confrontation. She liked Anarka and the way the woman played with her brothers.
“Hannah really has a lot on her plate.” Marinette sighed. But Anarka’s speech reminded her of her own duties and responsibilities, did she forget to be a child, well a teenager, too?
Adrien nodded, the argument Hannah had with her parents that he witnessed as Chat Noir still played in his head. He knew he had many activities and obligations, even without being Chat Noir, but the biggest problem he had was that he was somehow not allowed to be playful, at least not in public, god forsake in front of his father, so he enjoyed being Chat Noir just because he was able to be playful, to be himself, to be a kid, although that was a bit impractical in the middle of an akuma battle.
“She is more stubborn than Marinette.” Luka concluded as he watched Hannah move to the side of the boat and watch the Seine.
“Definitely.” Kagami agreed and the two of them exchanged a smile.
Marinette groaned. Since when was she a measure for stubbornness?
“She is more stubborn than you, you can change your mind.” Kagami smirked and flicked her eyes towards Adrien for a split second.
Marinette blushed, she changed her mind about Kagami, but she also changed her mind about Adrien. What was she insinuating? Whatever it was, this conversation had to stop.
“What is it that you changed your mind about Marinette?” Adrien turned more towards her.
“Um, it is silly really.” She flailed her hands, hit Adrien in the elbow while he was taking a bite of his pizza. That consequently caused him to splay pieces of pizza over his face and nose.
“Sorry, sorry, I am so sorry.” Marinette was wiping pieces of pizza off from Adrien’s face. The boy looked at her gently. Marinette wiped off the pizza and looked at her fingers. He smirked.
“Eat it” All the present teenagers cheered. Rose cooed, Juleka could not believe her eyes, Mylenne crossed her fingers, Ivan was slightly confused, Luka and Kagami were the loudest.
Adrien looked at her expectantly. Marinette forgot to breathe.
Marinette took a deep breath and did it, she licked her fingers. Then she crumpled, took her pizza and nibbled on it just to hide her face and her blush.
Adrien smirked. He did not even try to pretend it was an accident. He rather intentionally flicked her arm so that pizza ends up on Marinette’s face. The girl squealed in a way that made the boy chuckle. A pair of blue eyes glared at him over the food. She could not hide behind her bangs after she removed the pizza because the food would get stuck on them.
Adrien wiped off the leftover food off her face and licked his finger while looking at her the whole time. It was funny how red she got. And the way her eyes got wide was just hilarious. The boy had just too much fun.
“Wait wait there is more left over here.” Adrien wiped the last traces of food with his fingers.
Those fingers that were in his mouth just a moment before, the fingers he just licked. Marinette was trying to remember how to breathe while her blood was all rushing from her brain and straight into her face.
Kagami observed the scene with a strange feeling in her gut. It was only part jealousy. Suddenly she realized why Marinette hesitated so much. The girl barely functioned while in the vicinity of Adrien Agreste. Yes, Kagami liked the boy, she liked him a lot, maybe she even loved him, she would kill or die for him (especially while akumatized), but that was the way she was brought up, her warrior side prevailed, she even waited for him to change his targets, well she was still waiting. But she never ever lost the ability to function properly in front of the boy, in front of anyone for that matter, so she wondered if she ever felt so much for Adrien as Marinette did.
Luka sighed, he knew that Adrien did not have a clue what he was doing, the older boy understood how much his friend was oblivious. But the scene before him was clear as a day, Marinette did not get over Adrien, she did not let go, she could not switch off her feelings just like that. Yes she liked him, Luka, too, but obviously not like that. He turned towards the girl beside him, Kagami had a frown on her face, from worry or jealousy, he could not tell for sure. Perhaps both, perhaps neither, that girl was still a mystery to him. Luka wrapped his arm around Kagami’s shoulders to make feel better for whatever was bothering her at that moment. Kagami looked at him with a faint smile.
“Yo and behold!” Someone shouted from the river bank.
“Papa!” The boys shouted back.
“Have these pirates taken my children?” The man exclaimed.
“Yes we have and you will have to fight me to get them back.” Anarka retorted playfully.
“Then fight I will.” He stepped over on the board that lead from the embankment to the boat.
“Have your weapon.” Anarka threw one wooden sword towards him. The man caught it and observed awkwardly.
“To be honest, I have no idea how to use this.” Hannah’s father smiled while everyone laughed.
“Welcome to Liberty, I am Anarka, Juleka and Luka are my kids.” The proud captain of the Liberty introduced herself.
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Ivan.” They shook hands. “I’m here to pick up my three monsters, their mother is going for a twenty four hour shift this evening and would like to see them before she goes.”
“Papa” The three kids whined in protest.
“My twenty four hour shift starts in the morning, so you have the whole day tomorrow for your homework .. “ The kids groaned to these words and Anarka whistled “ .. household chores ...” The boys nudged Hannah who groaned. “And spend time with your friends.” That earned cheers from everyone.
Marinette was glad for the distraction as she managed to calm down and give proper greetings to Hannah and her family while they left the boat. She sat back to her place and tried to recover from the emotional roller coaster she was on and come to terms with whatever she felt right then. Adrien sat back on his spot beside her and took one more slice of pizza. Luka bent over both of them to grab the last piece in the box.
“There is one more box, no need to worry.” The boy assured his friends as he grabbed the empty box to remove it. But the source of the sound so close to their heads made both Adrien and Marinette shiver pleasantly and shift suddenly, Marinette flailed her hands (again) to catch her balance and pizza was somehow stuck on Adrien’s face, again. Luka was already gone with the empty box and his slice while Adrien and Marinette observed each other. She sighed and wiped the food off his face without giving it further thought, the mess was there and she was going to clean it.
“Sorry.” She muttered again. She did not even try to voice her apology nor how she got startled. She cleaned her fingers without even thinking that she was licking her fingers in front of Adrien Agreste, again, because her mind was somewhere else at that moment.
“I got startled too.” Adrien winked. Marinette was removing the last piece of cheese under his left eye when suddenly and inspiration started to strike. She traced her fingers around his eyes.
Adrien froze, was she tracing the shape of his Chat Noir mask? Did she get his identity? She looked at his face and furrowed her brows as she concentrated on the picture in her head. Adrien was terrified what that picture was. The moment she touched his hair, he was certain that his secret identity was busted, those locks she touched were the locks around his cat ears.
“Face paint and green tips.” She exclaimed and ran away to fetch her sketchbook.
Adrien was there, dazed and confused, with his mouth slightly opened. He turned his head only to find Luka and Kagami giggled and whispered something to each other and then giggled again. They both looked towards him from time to time, but that only inspired more giggles from the duo.
Marinette was back with her sketchbook, making notes and drawing a mask over the drawing of Adrien’s face she did before. She coloured the tips of his hair green and large portions of his face were painted in green and blue.
Adrien held her hair to be able to see what she was drawing, Kagami soon joined them on the other side.
“I told you pigtails are more practical.” Marinette grunted without looking away from her sketchbook.
That made both teenagers collect her hair and make two pigtails, but her hair was not parted evenly, nor in a straight line and both tails were seated too high. Both Kagami and Adrien looked at each other, concluded they were not happy with what they did and started over.
Juleka laid her head in Rose’s lap and the two girls observed them with amusement. Ivan was obviously asleep in his chair while Mylenne laid her head on his chest, closed her eyes and breathed deeply.
The duo tied two pigtails in their second attempt, Luka observed what they did over their shoulders and shook his head. But he took a photo of what they did. Then he sat down and took his guitar and started to play a melody.
After that Adrien and Kagami invented different ways to tie the two tails on Marinette’s head, one above another, tilted to the side, tilted to different sides, and each time Kagami took a photo of what they did.
They had to stop when Kagami’s car arrived to pick her up. She said her goodbyes and went towards the car. Adrien finally managed to make two pigtails, approximately equally parted with satisfactory straight line to pronounce himself finished. Luka walked over while he kept playing the melody, he smiled at the blonde boy and nodded his approval.
Then both boys looked at the design of the mask, each over one of Marinette’s shoulders. She felt both boys hovered above her and stopped drawing completely.
“This is amazing, Marinette.” Adrien praised. “Can I take a photo of this?”
“Um it is not finished yet.” She protested.
“Come on, I want to have it. It’s just for me. I’m not going to steal your design.” He teased. “I’m not going to show it to any one, not even my father.”
Marinette sighed and let him take the photo.
Adrien was taking the photo when a message popped up on his phone.
“The message says that the car will pick me up in two minutes.” The boy continued. She looked at the time and at the sky, the sun was about to set soon. It was time for all of them to head home.
Yeah 'It's complicated' :)
And an akuma fight.
Ladybug spills her guts to Chat.
Chat seeks company after that.
And all romantic souls go crazy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You are becoming a real Casanova there kid.” Plagg teased the moment the boy entered the car.
Adrien rolled his eyes at his kwami. Was it wrong what he just did with his friends? Because they were his friends, Kagami, Marinette, Luka, they were all his friends.
“At least one of my previous wielders would envy you! You got to flirt with all three of them and each of them flirted with you and nobody even got jealous!” Plagg continued and Adrien regretted not having more cheese in his duffel bag to silence the tiny glutton. Not that it would have lasted long even if he brought much more.
“I did not flirt with them and they did not flirt with me, Plagg.” Adrien replied and turned to look through the window.
“Nope, you just wanted to feed Pigtails some cheese. I told you you should give your girlfriends some Camembert and everything would work out.” Plagg continued.
“Yeah, the smell would make them go away.” Adrien retorted.
Adrien got scolded by Nathalie because he was given free afternoon but his father somehow hoped the boy would be back sooner? He was expected in his father’s office. Gabriel informed his son about the photo shoot the next day, outside, collection for the next spring, then he was informed about the way he was expected to look and behave and … Adrien spaced out. If anything that happened on the boat that afternoon ever reached his father, he would be grounded for life.
Adrien was dismissed to enjoy lonely dinner and go to his huge empty room to practice the piano and Chinese and write his homework or whatever as long as he stayed in his room and did not disturb or embarrass his father. He remembered Hannah’s parents, they were rather demanding on their daughter and honestly unfair, but at least her father was warm and fun to be with.
So he called Nino.
“Hey there, how was the life of the pirates of the Seine?” Nino greeted.
“It was great.” Adrien beamed at the memories. “But I’ll pay for it with a whole day photo shoot tomorrow.”
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there dude. I had Chris and relatives on my back the whole afternoon.” Nino continued. “My aunt and uncle and their kids. I made a deal with Alya to at least suffer together with Chris and Ella and Etta on the playground, but then my uncle and aunt discovered that I have a girlfriend and then never stopped teasing.”
Adrien chuckled. “Well, that is the price to pay for having Alya.” The blonde boy teased his friend.
“They teased her too.” Nino whined. “By telling her all the worst stories of the things I did as a kid, exaggerated stories! And I was like two when I did some of that stuff, I do not even remember!”
Adrien wished he had someone to be teased about. Adrien wished he had someone to tease him. He looked at Plagg. Plagg looked back, his neon green eyes looked rather sad.
“Well we jammed some and had pizza.” Adrien shrugged. “You didn’t miss much.”
“The girls sent a few messages to Alya, they were rather excited about something.” Nino spoke in a typical Alya, the research journalist tone. “And Alya wouldn’t tell me what it was.” The boy frowned. “She told me to ask you what was going on.”
“I, um, what in particular?” Adrien’s voice went slightly higher than he intended.
“Told you, Alya did not tell me.” Nino warned.
“Okay, so Luka and me were working on some melodies, Mylenne braided Hannah’s hair, her brothers were fencing, Anarka … “ The boy continued to list.
“Listen, sorry, but I have to go to be humiliated by my family again, sorry bro, call me or write to me tomorrow when you catch a break.” Nino cut the call.
Adrien smiled and pulled out his homework. He might as well catch up on that since there was no way for him to work on that on Sunday.
Marinette was surprised to find her parents still working in the bakery.
“We got a big last minute order, dear, and we can’t risk denying it to Hotel Le Grand Paris.” Tom sighed. “We will be catering tomorrow. But you’ll be free this time.”
“But we could use your help in packing all this.” Sabine added. “Please?”
“Of course maman.” Marinette was already washing her hands.
Boxes of macarons and other cookies were packed, the dinner was eaten and her parents were making a plan for the next day while she retreated with homework on her mind.
“Why do I have so much homework?” Marinette whined to Tikki once she arranged everything on her desk.
“Because you had a wonderful time today?” Tikki piped in.
“Yes, I have.” Marinette sighed. “My love life is so complicated.”
“Really?” Tikki floated straight in front of Marinette’s face and observed her curiously.
“Oh, stop teasing me, I thought I was over Adrien.” The girl turned away. “Hannah is right, I do not have the time for that, homework!”
“She calls herself Complicated.” Chat informed Ladybug when she landed on the rooftop near him. The Eiffel tower glowed in the distance and Parisian lights were making the city bright even in the middle of the night. He admired her shiny smile and her blue eyes and was taken by her beauty as ever, but he schooled his behaviour.
“What is her power?” Ladybug peeked over the edge of the building. The akuma was a woman in a gorgeous evening gown and a cowboy hat with a magic wand in one hand and a whip in another. At that moment she stomped her foot that was dressed in a cowboy boot on the pavement and the surface started to freeze, then she whipped a few pedestrians nearby and they became her minions dressed in ridiculous clothing combinations.
“That is the thing, she has many powers.” Chat explained. “I have seen her turn trees into life with that wand, she froze that car over there and the pavement now and she can produce minions who are looking for us.”
“Could that necklace she is wearing be the akumatized object?” Ladybug wondered aloud.
“That or any of her weapons.” Chat continued.
“I am Complicated, don’t try to simplify everything I do, don’t try to put it in any of your boxes and then scold me because I do not fit in.” The akuma yelled. “I can love who ever I want and it does not mean I can’t love someone else. I do not have to make up my mind!”
“But what about the people you are in love with? How do they feel about that?” Chat jumped out from the hiding to draw the attention of the akuma away from more civilians.
“Chat Noir, the incessant flirt! You of all people should now! They can accept me or not, but they can’t condition they would love me only if I give up on everyone else in my life.” The akuma replied as she waved her wand and produced a lightning bolt that nearly missed Chat.
“I have only one girl in my life.” Chat shot back. But it was a lie. He knew he loved Ladybug, but she was definitely not the only girl in his life. He needed to move on and boy, was he not sure how to do that. His heart had a few flip ups that day.
Ladybug blushed at that statement. But then she tried to focus on the akuma. It did not help, stupid stupid heart, she saw Chat’s happy smile, adoring glance towards her and impressive coordination as he evaded each of the blows that Complicated threw on him. She wrapped her yoyo around him and pulled him out of the danger. Her heart would not take it if he got hurt or if she had to fight him this night.
“So how about your love life, Bug?” Chat teased.
“It’s complicated.” She retorted coolly.
“Ooh? Anything you want to share?” He inquired while his mask showed he wiggled his eyebrows.
“Chat, you understand we can’t be together because we are superheroes, right?” She whispered.
“Yes, I do, I am trying to move on, but that does not mean I stopped loving you.” He said it so easily that Ladybug felt even worse about herself.
“Well, I tried moving on from a boy and I thought it was working.” Ladybug sighed.
“Moving on? He doesn’t like you?” Chat froze in his place.
“Not like that. He loves someone else, I know it is not me, I used to think I knew who it was, I even helped them get together.” Ladybug spoke quickly and quietly. “More than once.”
Chat’s heart was breaking, if he was trying to set up Ladybug with someone else, he would have gone mad.
“You … were trying to set up … the boy you like … with someone else?” Chat stammered out.
“Yes, he told me he loved someone else and there is this girl that likes him too and I thought he liked her back, but after today I am not even sure if it is her.” Ladybug lowered her head. “I just want him to be happy. I even tried to move on, but it doesn’t work. Nothing works.”
Chat wanted to whisper that maybe just maybe that was because the said guy actually liked her, but that would be as if he stabbed himself in the back and he just could not do it.
“The boys just make me confused. I will just put my love life on hold. This is all too much, the superheroing, the guardianship, … “ She trailed off, there was school and there were all the shenanigans with Lila and Chloe and Hannah. “And my civilian life and I can’t really squeeze in my love life in there, so I have decided, no romance, just friends!”
“Friends are the best.” Chat smiled fondly, Ladybug was his friend, Kagami, Marinette and Luka were his friends, Nino was his friend, he liked his friends, he loved them, a lot, each of them slightly differently, because people are differnt (not like that brain, nope, not like that!).
“Friends help each other, you know?” Chat smiled as he reminded Ladybug of his offer.
“I am still looking into that.” She sighed, it was that shared guardianship again.
The lucky charm was a fishing rod with a slimy monster as a bait.
One precise throw of the bait (okay, it was more than twenty attempts, but one successful) that attached to the necklace and one very precise cataclysm later, the pendant on the necklace was destroyed and the butterfly was cleansed.
The akumatized victim decided her problems were not something she wanted to discuss with them and left on her own.
Ladybug and Chat Noir bumped their fists and went their separate ways.
Ladybug stopped by opposite Hannah’s window, the light was on so she swung closer to see what was going on this late in the evening. Hannah was ironing and folding clothes while she was listening to one of the French exercises on her computer and repeated sentence after sentence. She arranged the clothes neatly on the bed of her parents, one side was currently empty while her father snored on the side closer to the window.
Ladybug barely made it to her rooftop terrace before she detransformed.
“Sorry Tikki, I was distracted. Hannah has so much to do.” Marinette gave a cookie to her kwami and let her land on her bed.
“Did you really think what you told Chat Noir, Marinette?” Tikki inquired while she nibbled on the cookie.
“Yes I have.” Marinette replied resolutely. “Friendship is easy, I can do friendship.”
Marinette looked at the photos that were attached to the wall above her bed.
“It is not going to be easy.” Tikki warned.
“I can’t control my feelings, but I can control if I act on them.” The girl replied tiredly. She was asleep before Tikki finished her cookie.
Chat Noir hid on a rooftop, detransformed and fed his kwami.
“I want to take my time to go back to my room. I will be on that photo shoot the whole day tomorrow.” Adrien tossed a piece of cheese to Plagg.
“Yeah, take your time alright, just don’t bother me with that mushy stuff.” The tiny black cat took a bite off the cheese.
“You heard what Ladybug said? That she was not going into any romantic relationships any time soon?” Adrien asked with a wide happy face.
“Was that all she told you?” Plagg watched carefully as he was eating his cheese.
“She also told me we can’t be together. Is that true?” The boy looked back at his kwami.
“It is true if she says so.” Plagg looked away.
“Okay, but that means it is her decision, it is not like … forbidden or something?” Adrien was hopeful.
“Given the circumstances, there is not much choice for both of you currently.” Plagg replied flatly.
Adrien transformed and jumped over rooftops. He did not intend to find Luka strumming his guitar on the deck of Liberty. The melody was melancholic and Chat was drawn closer and closer until he simply hopped over on the deck and greeted.
“Chat Noir, is everything okay? Is there an akuma? Do you need me?” Luka asked worriedly as he got on his feet.
“Nah, Ladybug and I dealt with that.” Chat dismissed. Luka sat back down and looked at the superhero.
“How was your day? Is there something bothering you?” Chat asked calmly.
“My day was fantastic. I watched two friends on a fencing tournament and we all hang out here afterwards with my band.” Luka smiled.
“Oh, you were working on some sad melody? Because what you played just now was a bit sad.” Chat wanted to know what made Luka play that melody, perhaps it was something harmless.
“Oh, I’m not sad, just a little bit off. I have wonderful friends, I like them a lot, but I want to protect them and it is not so simple, I hurt when they hurt and I could not do anything about it. A friend of mine did something to protect another friend, he did something that was disgusting to him, but he did it for his friend. And I wish I was there to help, but I wasn’t. And we have this other friend, she would have fought a dragon to help her friends, but she was not able to help either. So we both felt kind of useless and hurt and sort of bonded over that.”
“That is good.” Chat shrugged. “I mean, that you bonded, not that you feel useless. You are not useless, you are their friend and sometimes that is the best you can do or be.”
“Yeah, she does not have many friends because she has this defensive attitude, but she is really nice.” Luka smiled.
They chatted a bit before Chat decided it was time to go back to the mansion, he had to start early the next day.
I was tempted to let Luka tell Chat how Marinette was in love with Adrien, but Luka would not tell that, right?
The girls are hanging out in the next chapter.
The approximate length of thirty chapters shall be exceeded ... but not by much.
Chapter 23: Girls hanging out
Basically the title, Alya wants some answers and girls have fun.
A tiny twist to the plot (that should add about three chapters)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Girl’s hang out
Marinette woke up to the influx of messages. Alya wanted a girl’s hang out and proposed the bakery for that. Of course, she agreed, whatever it was it seemed urgent. That however had to wait until later in the day, because Sabine and Tom needed help in the bakery.
“You can heat up the leftovers from the dinner last night for your lunch dear, I’m really sorry, but there is no time for me to cook right now.” Sabine apologized while she iced the cake.
“The order and your maman and me have to be there an hour earlier than planned.” Tom explained the emergency. “Please stay nearby, we might call you if we need something more, we have no time to pack the extras right now.”
“And please take this box to Hannah some time during the day.” Sabine added.
“Hannah’s parents also work today.” She smiled.
“Then invite them over.” Tom grinned.
When her parents were finished and the boxes neatly placed in the small delivery vehicle sent by the hotel, her parents were off and Marinette was free to catch up with her day. Which was to send a message to Hannah and throw herself back into the bed.
“You promised Alya to let her know when you are finished.” Tikki reminded the girl.
“Oh yes.” Marinette typed ‘finished’ into her phone and closed her eyes.
Hannah woke up to her father’s alarm clock. She heard him smash it, groan, and go to the bathroom. Then she heard the shower. She wanted to continue sleeping, but it was in vain. Homework, literature assignments, worksheets, she was going down the ladder. She put the water in a small pot to boil it for her father’s coffee and made herself fruit tea in the microwave. The coffee was brewed and she was writing her homework.
“Good morning Hannah.” Her father greeted and filled one cup and a ‘to go’ cup with the coffee.
“Morning papa.” She replied.
“Is there something you or your brothers do not intend to eat?” Her father asked and pointed towards the box from the Dupain Cheng bakery. Hannah pointed to two quiches.
“You can take anything you want, papa.” Hannah smiled.
“I don’t like sweet so much.” He replied.
“Except your coffee.” She teased.
“I have to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow after school.” The man hugged his daughter and left.
After several hours of work, Hannah filled in her history worksheet with considerable help form Adrien’s notebook. Her brothers woke up.
“Hannah, could you bring that box up here?” One of them asked.
“No food in bed.” She retorted as she was checking if she got everything okay.
“No parents at home.” The boy retorted.
“Come downstairs you lazy ticks.” She spoke quietly to her worksheet as she discovered one unanswered question. When did she skip that and how? Then she read it, it was a tricky question because she did not understand the phrase and the individual words meant nothing in this context.
The boys continued to whine but she never relented. Finally they got downstairs fully dressed.
“Fine, but we are going to the centre to play games.” Robbie crossed his arms.
“Fine.” Hannah took her cup and realized she drank all her tea. “We can go as soon as you eat.”
She went upstairs to change and took a piece of pastry ‘for the way’ because she never took the time to actually sit and eat if not made to do so. She checked her phone while they were going out from the building.
“Hey, we can go to Marinette to have lunch?” That was the only way for her to see her friends that day, her brothers had to agree and Marinette had to agree to have them over there.
Adrien was woken up by Plagg and his alarm clock. Yes, the photo shoot. A shower later, he got dressed and decided that was sufficient preparation, there were people paid to make him look presentable. He felt comfortably numb about the whole ordeal until he heard that the afternoon shoot was to be done with Lila. Well, with ‘his fathers muse’ to be more precise. And he had to overhear that, nobody bothered to tell him.
“Plagg, I really do not want another photo shoot with her.” Adrien sighed.
“I could cataclysm something and the photo shoot would be postponed?” Plagg offered. “Or somebody?”
“Perhaps I could condition my cooperation with that she leaves Hannah alone this time?” The boy pondered how to make the best out from this situation.
“Or cataclysm?” The tiny god of destruction thought about the lesser evil.
Adrien was in the park in the early morning light. The grass and the leaves glowed in the morning dew. The birds were singing (that could not be heard on the photos but it made his day nicer) and the flowers were … well … flowery. He saw Hannah passed with her brothers on her way and waved her, she waved him back and then her brothers insisted to come along and watch. Needless to say, they were bored after a few minutes and walked away. So much for his fame.
He saw the delivery vehicle in front of the bakery and he might have caught a glimpse of Marinette in her pyjamas. Vincent warned him to look at the camera.
Marinette woke up to the phone vibrating in her hand. One box of macarons got destroyed by the hotel staff. (Marinette wondered when Chloe qualified for the hotel staff). She dragged herself out from the bed and into the bakery and packed what was required of her.
Of course, it was Luka who was there to pick up the box and deliver it to the hotel.
And she was still wearing her pyjama.
Luka blushed and complimented her, she meeked and wrapped her arms around her body protectively. He chuckled. Alya just approached from the side and stood there with her arms crossed.
“You are here, with a boy, in the morning, in your pyjama and your parents are not home?” Alya inquired.
“Luka was just picking up a delivery.” Marinette protested with her face flushed.
“I’m sorry but your parents need this.” Luka apologized for leaving Marinette in this awkward situation.
“If this is girl’s hang out, I would like to invite Kagami.” Marinette took her phone and was ready to type a message.
“You would invite Kagami but you never invite Lila.” Alya crossed her arms again.
“You know how I feel about Lila.” Marinette replied.
The staring contest was disrupted by Alix and Mylenne who just walked into the bakery.
“Why don’t you go upstairs, I will just take some snacks here.” Marinette offered.
The girls decided to wait and chat. Rose and Juleka arrived before they went upstairs.
“What is the emergency?” Marinette asked quietly, because if Alya called the meeting, then there was one.
“I want to know what exactly happened on that boat yesterday.” Alya demanded.
“Marinette and Kagami were so cute.” Rose cooed. Marinette blushed.
“Luka and Adrien are practically soulmates.” Juleka muttered.
“I braided Hannah’s hair.” Mylenne added. “And Anarka was great with her brothers.”
“Looks like you had fun, I had to replace one wheel on my rollers after the stunt I tried at Trocadero.” Alix grinned.
“Stop stop. Back to Adrien and Luka and soulmates?” Alya looked at Juleka.
“Well, they were making music of their hearts or something.” Juleka muttered back.
“I just made a drawing of Kagami.” Marinette responded quickly when Alya turned to her.
‘Please do not mention pizza’ Marinette chanted within herself. But Rose was too excited not to tell all about it. Alix snickered to the story, but Alya was fuming.
“Girl, who is dating who and why I don’t know about it? I demand to know everything about you. You owe me that much after everything you put me through.” The journalist was standing in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips.
“We are just friends.” Marinette shrugged timidly. She knew they were not exactly just friends, there was something else than just friendship between them, but she wanted, no she needed time to get to terms what those feelings were, besides, she decided not to act upon them, so it did not make a difference.
There was some snickering and knowing glances from her friends, but nobody tried to fix it.
After Marinette sunk not only her favourite ship, but a whole navy, Alya decided to switch the subject.
“Have you seen the fight from last night on the Ladyblog?” Alya squealed.
Marinette was there, she did not remember anything worthy squealing about.
Apparently, Saturday evening was rather busy time in Paris and there was plenty of footage of the akuma and her diverse powers, from all angles and in all the different qualities.
“I have posted only basic article, but this akuma deserves to be covered so much better, what do you think, this one or this one?” Alya continued.
“Isn’t your boyfriend an aspiring film director?” Alix muttered what the rest of the girls thought.
“Yes, but he has some relatives over and I just wanted to share this with you.” Alya was excited about the amount of video material she got.
Kagami arrived and Marinette was relieved, she showed her around the flat and they settled with the rest of the girls in Marinette’s room.
“This is very nice.” Kagami looked around the pink walls. She noticed several remaining posters of Adrien, pictures of Kitty Section and the absence of individual photos of Luka. There were several photos of Marinette and Kagami together and even one with Kagami in the fencing gear with Adrien.
“So what do you girls usually do at these meetings?” Kagami inquired.
“We can do whatever you want.” Alix grinned.
“We can try out Marinette’s designs.” Rose exclaimed.
“Like the jewellery and the clothes, if that is your thing?” Juleka muttered.
“We can braid each other’s hair.” Mylenne proposed.
“You did really nice job with Hannah’s hair yesterday.” Rose told Mylenne.
“Thank you.” Mylenne smiled. “Kagami and Luka helped too.”
“Kagami and Luka braided Hannah’s hair?” Alya frowned.
“Yes, well, I was bad at it until Luka showed me how.” Kagami blushed.
“We could try out this jewellery.” Juleka muttered as she studied the newest creations from her friend.
“And this stuff.” Alix found a pair of gloves in white and light blue with the open fingers. “This is so cool I’m keeping it. What do you want for it.”
The girls were changing the accessories, Mylenne adjusted their hair and Alya was taking pictures, Kagami insisted on posting them on her social network.
Hannah arrived with her brothers.
“This is girl’s hanging out.” Alya frowned.
“I got this.” Marinette smiled and offered boys some pastries and TV time in her living room. She saved the option of the video games only if the situation became more desperate. The boys were rather happy to be in front of a TV (that they did not have at home) with food and Marinette dragged Hannah upstairs.
“Girl, you still have your braids.” Rose cooed.
“I’m surprised she invited Kagami over.” Alya whispered.
“Why? They got along rather well yesterday.” Rose piped in.
“They got along really well.” Juleka muttered with a smirk.
Then Alya stared at the remaining posters of Adrien on the wall.
“You’d think she would have removed them.” Alya spoke out loud.
“Why?” Kagami inquired.
“Because … “ Alya looked around to the other girls for a save, but everyone was busy with something.
“You do know don’t you?” Kagami observed Alya carefully.
“Know what?” Alya pretended to be confused.
“I know Marinette likes Adrien.” Kagami smiled.
“You know?” Alya raised her eyebrows.
“Yes, I do know.” Kagami confirmed.
They continued with more photos of scarves and hats until Alix proposed to make a picnic in the park. Marinette picked up the pastries while Rose took the basket with other food she assembled with Juleka and they all went to the park.
There was a change in the set of the photo shoot. Adrien strolled around the set and waited to be called back to continue with the shoot, he regretted leaving his phone in his bag when he first noticed two boys chasing a ball around the park, then he saw the girls on the other side. He walked over without a second thought.
“Hello, can I join for a minute?” Adrien asked politely.
“Watch this.” Alix nudged Kagami.
“H..hi A...drien.” Marinette stuttered (when was she to stop that? She had decided rather determinedly that she was going to treat him as a friend.) “Of course!” She added.
“Thank you, Marinette. That is very kind of you.” Adrien smiled warmly.
Marinette just got more pink in her face.
“Yould wou lick some pastries?” Marinette offered one box. “Would you lick … No, I mean like, do you like pastries?”
Alix snickered, Alya rolled her eyes, Kagami observed the interaction without any expression. Her friend was a hopeless case, obviously. Hannah was struggling to understand anything.
“Thank you, I have a photo shoot for the whole day.” Adrien continued while he took a cookie to eat.
“That’s bad.” Alix cut in.
“Well, it gets worse actually.” Adrien looked at Marinette. “I get partnered up for the afternoon.”
Marinette took the message and her heart was breaking for the boy.
“Is it Lila?” Kagami clenched her fists.
“It can’t be Lila.” Hannah frowned. “She is on a mission”
“She is visiting a hospital in a refugee camp today.” Rose added.
“Yes, exactly, she was telling us about it on Friday.” Mylenne confirmed.
“With Prince Ali?” Alya inquired, her phone in her hands, she was checking her messages. “I’m sending that girl a message right now.”
Adrien was called back to the set.
What will the girls do?
Chapter 24: How to ruin a photo shoot?
It is the title again.
Sorry but Lila is coming back
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
How to ruin a photo shoot?
“I need something for the stains.” Marinette whispered. Hannah heard her.
“Citric acid.” She produced a package of the powder. “Removes some colour too.”
“Wait, Adrien.” Marinette took a bottle of water from the basket and added the powder.. “Please take this lemonade with you. It is not water as the bottle says and it is made with citric acid.”
“Wow, no stuttering.” Alix whispered to Kagami.
“And be careful. It is really strong and it leaves permanent stains because it changes the colour of coloured garments.” She added. She looked straight into his eyes and hoped he got the message. She was giving him the weapon, she hoped he could use it to save himself.
Adrien looked straight into her eyes, he understood he was given something he was supposed to use to save himself from the photo shoot with Lila. He wrapped his hands around Marinette’s hands while he was taking it. It felt nice to hold her hands like that, he wanted to stay like that, he wanted to stay, period.
“But it looks just like water and it is in a water bottle so be careful it does not get mixed up.” She continued talking. The boy walked away from the girls with his head low, he was given the weapon, but it looked so useless, like one of Ladybug’s lucky charms. It was never him, it was never Chat Noir who made plans on how to win a battle with a fork, it was his lady. And she was not there. Marinette gave him some clues. Permanent stains, looks just like water.
Adrien returned to the photo shoot and Vincent was able to take a few good shots before she arrived. Lila was there early. She probably appeared in the park as soon as she got the message from Alya. She was busy promoting her persona with the staff so Adrien managed to sneak away and into the tent with the clothes. There it was, a steam iron and a bottle of water. Of course. Marinette was a genius. He switched the bottles.
“Why don’t you do your hair and make up while we get your clothes pressed?” Vincent proposed to Lila. Adrien quickly escaped the tent and avoided her clutch. He took out the phone from his bag and pretended nobody needed him. He looked at the photos that the girls posted on social media. He smiled and started to place comments. ‘My favourite partner for photo shoots.’ Under a photo of Juleka. ‘What a beautiful design-er.’ for a photo with Marinette. He continued to praise the girls who modelled the designs, he would be facing his father’s wrath if he so openly praised the designs themselves.
“Are you pressing the clothes?” Lila asked the assistant who was busy with something else.
“Not yet.” The woman answered.
Adrien frowned. If that woman ruined the clothes for Lila, she would be punished by his father, and he could not do that, he quickly ran back to the tent.
“Oh, hi, I think I accidentally took your water, this must be my tonic.” Adrien said as he offered the bottle to the assistant. The woman checked if his bottle contained water and returned the bottle to him.
He walked around the set nervously. The boys were still chasing the ball and the girls were having their picnic. He wanted to be there, some force was pulling him in that direction.
Soon he was chasing the ball with Hannah’s brothers. It was safe to say that the two kids were better at it than him. They stole the ball whenever he was leading it.
“Adrien, what are you doing? You are going to ruin your clothes. Come back here!” Lila shouted over the park.
Adrien continued to play with more energy. Perhaps he could ruin himself, his own clothes and avoid the photo shoot.
Vincent and Nathalie were calling him back when he finally gave in and walked back to the tent.
“Oh Adrien.” Lila cooed. “I’m so thirsty, may I have some of your water?” She snatched the bottle from his hands. Just at that moment he realized how to ruin his own clothes, but it was too late. He withdrew himself quickly. She started to drink, but her face scrunched and she spat the liquid, partly over herself, mostly over his suit.
“What’s this?” Lila screeched.
“My tonic water.” Adrien replied quietly.
“You can have it back.” She pushed the bottle towards him.
“I would not drink anything from that bottle now.” He made sure that the disgust in his face was obvious.
“It is okay, your suit is going to dry, you were supposed to change for this shoot anyway.” The assistant ushered him into the tent. “Just stay in the sun Lila, it will get dry quickly.”
Adrien took his time to change.
When he got out, he noticed most of the sky was covered with thick grey clouds, the girls on the other side of the park were packing up and Lila was sitting on a chair with few very light stains on her dress. He smirked.
“Okay, Adrien is ready, you must be dry by now.” Vincent called.
“Nathalie, are you sure my father designed that.” Adrien pointed to the dress.
His father’s assistant frowned and took the girl back to the changing room and called his father to agree on what to do.
Adrien walked over to his bag.
“As a god of destruction, I am proud of you kid.” Plagg greeted his chosen.
“It is not over yet.” He looked at the phone. The girls posted a few more photos form the park that he could comment and the most recent photo of Marinette and Kagami with Hannah appeared. He smiled and left a few emojis.
Then he got back on his feet.
“You have to change to the suit you were just wearing for her second dress, but that suit is ruined too.” Nathalie was furious.
“I’m sorry. She insisted to drink from my bottle and I did not know Lila would splay it all over us.” Adrien smiled apologetically, it was good he trained as a model.
“I am going to retrieve spare garments, you do your best and hurry up while there is some useful light left.” Nathalie warned and walked away.
Adrien knew Lila was going to appear soon wearing something and he would have to model with her.
He could hear her voice.
He could sense her walking out from the tent.
Like one of those monsters from the horror films that you couldn’t see but you know it was there.
And you couldn’t escape.
“Hey Adrien.” Another voice called from his side.
He turned around and saw Kagami. He noticed Luka on his bike in the distance. Kagami was coming over holding something in the palm of her hand. He noticed the bottle in the grass and picked it up just because he hated seeing litter around.
Lila was stomping over determinedly.
“Marinette made this interesting new creation.” Kagami spoke slowly as she approached, she made sure her pace would lead her to Adrien just a moment before Lila was there.
“Mlle Rossi, you forgot your accessory.” Vincent shouted and an assistant was running over.
Adrien was surprised to see Kagami was checking how far Lila was as if she was waiting for her.
“Marinette could not come to show you herself. You should smell it when she comes close. Make sure you close your eyes. I’ll tap you.” Kagami whispered.
Adrien smiled and wondered what did his friends think of this time.
Lila was just there.
“There, it is, my new perfume.” Kagami said out loud and offered her hand.
Adrien leaned over.
Vincent and an assistant with a scarf in her hands ran over.
“New perfume?” Lila panted.
“Why don’t you try it too?” Kagami offered. She noticed the girl was panting and the plan might backfire. She taped Adrien’s shoulder as soon as Lila started to bend.
There was an intense smell of pepper and something else.
Whatever powder was in Kagami’s hand was now in Lila’s eyes.
Adrien took a step back and opened his eyes. He noticed Kagami had closed eyes too and wiped the palm of her hand in her skirt.
Lila was screaming in pain.
“What is it?” Adrien asked.
“Oh, it is a new kind of perfume, it comes as a powder, very useful for sports, but you must have blown it into Lila’s eyes when you sneezed.” Kagami explained flatly.
“My eyes.” Lila screamed.
“Quick, wash out her eyes.” The assistant instructed. She pointed her hand to the bottle Adrien was holding. “Wash out her eyes.”
Vincent took the bottle from his hands and washed Lila’s eyes, he emptied the contents of the bottle but the girl only screamed harder.
“You have to take her back to the tent and see if she is okay.” Adrien did not have to feign concern. He looked at the discarded bottle. It was the bottle Marinette gave him. It was empty. Obviously, whatever Marinette’s plan was, did not include washing the eyes with citric acid.
“Nathalie wants to talk to you.” Vincent called.
Kagami greeted him with a small smile and left.
“I need some time to fix her eyes, but she is good.” The make up artist was talking to Nathalie over a video call.
Lila was fuming.
Absent mindedly, Adrien took a cup of coffee from the table. He thought it was water and realized his mistake only when he started drinking it.
Several people were around Lila and she made a show out of her injuries.
“I’m so sorry about this. I’m doing my best you know. I want to glow for that photo shoot today.” Lila whined.
“The eyes are only slightly red, I assure you that she is good for the photo shoot.” The make up artist talking to Nathalie on screen while she was doing her job.
Someone gave him the tablet with a video call from Nathalie.
“What was that?” Nathalie inquired.
“I sneezed at Kagami’s new perfume.” Adrien explained with a shrug. “And Lila was too close.” Like few thousand kilometres too close but who counted.
“Okay, hold on please, I have to talk to your father.” Nathalie said and switched off her microphone.
Adrien sipped on his coffee.
Lila was proclaimed finished. Most of the crew went outside the tent.
“I don’t know what you and your girlfriend think you are doing, but I assure you it is you who is going to look at me with lust in your eyes today.” Lila walked over towards him. She was about to push him, but she pushed the cup with coffee and it splayed all over Adrien. The boy shrieked and then glanced towards his tablet quickly. Nathalie was staring at the screen with disbelief all over her face.
“Why did you do this Lila?” Adrien glared and took a step back.
“Did what” She intentionally flipped the cup on him once more just for good measure.
Adrien walked out of the tent backwards.
“Oh, so much passion between you two.” Vincent cooed. “But we still need you dry and clean for the photo shoot, please change, both of you.”
Adrien returned the tablet to Vincent and went around the tent and behind a simple changing screen to take off his clothes. He took off the suit and put on his pants when he heard the voices from the tent that yet another pair of outfits was found for him and Lila.
Adrien grabbed his school bag that still herd his shirt and t-shirt and went out from the changing screen determined to just walk away. The first droplets started to fall from the sky and offered the perfect excuse for him to disappear from the set.
He ran straight into Luka
“She said they would just keep finding more clothes for you.” Luka grinned.
“What? Who?” Adrien stopped in his tracks. Why was Luka there? Adrien was shirtless and determined to run away from the photo shoot. The other boy was rather red in the face but smiled.
“Marinette.” Luka grinned.
“Look, I don’t know what is her next plan, but we are going straight out of here.” Adrien took a few determined steps.
“May I offer you a ride?” Luka motioned for Adrien to sit on his bike and the two boys drove away while the rain intensified.
“Kagami is already at Marinette’s.” Luka added.
“Is that where we are going?” Adrien inquired.
“Why not?” Luka shrugged.
You are free to trash my choice for a chemical ...
Chapter 25: Crashing in
the recipe for Marinette fragrance is revealed and kids have some fun time.
The electricity is gone (again) so I'm posting this before I run out of battery.
(might contain errors)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Luka and Adrien were soaking by the time they reached the bakery.
“Ring the bell on the side door. The shop is locked for the day.” Luka instructed. Adrien hopped off the bicycle and did as instructed. Rain was falling on his naked upper part of the body, but he did not care, the excitement pushed any other sensation in the background.
Hannah opened the door.
The boys stepped inside and Hannah locked the door behind them. They were acutely aware of water dripping off them. Hannah did not need to look at them more.
“Be right back.” She shouted and run up the stairs. “Girls in kitchen.”
Marinette was packing macarons in the bakery kitchen.
“I just don’t know if it worked to finally stop that shoot.” Kagami concluded whatever she was talking about.
“I will think of something else, just to fill this box with the order for my parents.” Marinette replied.
The two boys were standing below the stairs close to the entrance of the bakery kitchen. Hannah was running back upstairs. Luka’s jacket and helmet were wet so he took them off while water droplets covered Adrien’s (still shirtless) torso and hair.
“I brought the trays, but I am sure your parents do not expect me back as long as it is raining like this.” Luka greeted.
“Thank you Luka.” Marinette greeted without looking up. She was entirely focused on packing the extra macarons and did not want to mess it up.
Kagami did look and smiled at the boy but then she looked back down to the box. Luka stood in front of Adrien so girls could not see he was in fact half naked with water dripping from the hair of both of them.
“And finally packed.” Marinette released a breath of relief.
Once the boxes were safely on the table, Luka stepped aside.
Kagami took a good look at both boys and started to laugh.
Marinette finally raised her eyes.
“eep!” She put one hand over her mouth not to scream. Her eyes were wide as she stared at the half naked blonde model boy in the door frame. Then she slapped the other hand over her eyes.
That made everyone laugh.
“Marinette.” Adrien smiled and walked over to the girl. “You have posters of me in your room.”
Marinette had difficulty breathing because she herself had covered her own mouth and nose. That boy! He appeared in her house half naked and wet from rain, and he looked at her so gently, so honestly, so … not photo shoot like. But it made her totally useless.
Kagami took the hand that covered Marinette’s mouth.
“Breathe.” Kagami whispered in her ear.
Adrien took the hand that covered her eyes and removed it, but Marinette shut her eyes. She needed to do that just to keep breathing.
“It is okay, Marinette, you can open your eyes now.” Adrien smiled and held her hand.
“I can’t.” She couldn’t. She couldn’t open her eyes and look at Adrien half naked in her bakery kitchen while Luka was there. While Kagami was there. Kagami was holding her hand. Her hand was warm and dry. Adrien was holding her hand. His hand was warm but wet, she felt the water droplets drain from his arm to her wrist.
Luka stood at the door and laughed at the whole scene.
Someone was stumbling down the stairs.
“Here” Hannah panted. She threw a towel on Luka and another towel on Adrien.
Adrien caught the towel Hannah thrown at him with one hand. He threw the towel over his shoulders with one hand while he kept holding Marinette’s hand with the other.
Kagami was preventing herself to laugh out loud. Luka dried his hair and snickered at the scene.
“It is pouring rain outside.” Luka spoke.
“Mhm.” Marinette acknowledged she heard him with her eyes closed.
“We noticed.” Kagami smirked.
Hannah wanted to ask something but somehow it did not look like a right moment, so she walked into the bakery, found the box that had a post it labelled ‘home’ on it and took it back to the flat upstairs.
“Come on Marinette, open your eyes.” Adrien teased. He shook his head and few water droplets fell on Marinette’s face. Kagami got sprayed too.
“Come on” Kagami whined and wiped the water off her face. She took few steps back and let go of Marinettes hand in the process. Marinette raised her hand to wipe her own face from the water droplets, but Adrien stood so close that her hand encountered his chest (his cold and wet chest).
“Eep.” She stepped back but Adrien pulled her back.
She opened her eyes to keep herself straight and run into his body.
“Come on, you teased her enough.” Luka said and wrapped the towel around Adrien’s torso.
“Hannah took the pastries upstairs.” Kagami added. We might go too.
“First you are going to tell me what was that stunt you pulled.” Adrien demanded.
Marinette was breathing and started to assume normal colour. Then she smirked.
“The water was with citric acid, I told you.” Marinette smiled.
“I was supposed to ruin my clothes with it?” Adrien inquired.
“Your clothes, her clothes, whatever. It depends on the colourant.” Marinette shrugged.
“It worked.” Adrien beamed. “And it was Lila who spilled it, so I should not be in trouble with my father for that.”
“Oh.” Three teenagers exchanged excited looks.
“And that Marinette fragrance that Kagami was wearing?” The boy continued.
“She rubbed pepper and feather onto my wrist.” Kagami explained.
“And I dusted some spicy mix my mother uses into her fist.” Marinette shrugged. “It was supposed to make her eyes turn red so she would give up on the photo shoot today.”
“And if she washed out her eyes instantly?” Kagami asked.
“Well then her eyes would have been just a little red.” Marinette shrugged.
“And if she washed them with the citric acid?” Adrien inquired.
“Oh my … “ Marinette stared at the boy. “You didn’t?”
“I didn’t.” Adrien smiled. “Someone else washed her eyes, perhaps she did it herself.”
“I don’t know how it works on eyes.” Marinette was worried.
“But even that was not enough, she insisted that she was willing to do the photo shoot and they even found more clothes to continue.” Adrien sighed.
“So I have helped our little princess to escape the evil witch.” Luka grinned.
“Oh thank you my prince on the white horse (or should it be prince charming?).” Adrien turned to the other boy.
“It was my duty to save the damsel and offer a ride on my noble horse.” Luka continued with the show and bowed lightly.
The girls were giggling at their antics.
Then Adrien felt more water dripped from his hair and took the towel he was wrapped into, wrapped his hair in it and dried his hair.
That left his torso naked and exposed.
Marinette blushed again and averted her eyes away.
Adrien sighed and put the towel over his shoulders and around him again.
“I should have a spare shirt in my bag.” The blonde model decided he had teased his shy classmate enough. He walked to the door where he left his bag. He forgot to close it. He found slightly wet shirt and t-shirt, and one wet and grumpy kwami. And no Camembert.
“Okay.” My clothes and my phone are wet.
“Switch your phone off, we will put it into rice.” Marinette said from the kitchen.
“Do you have anything you designed that Adrien could wear?” Kagami asked Marinette.
Did she have? Did she have something designed with Adrien in mind that would fit him? Of course she did.
“Come on upstairs, you can hang whatever you want to dry on those bars.” Marinette invited while she was running up the stairs.
Robbie and Eddie were sitting in front of a TV in almost catatonic state. The tray with pastries in front of them contained only crumbs.
Hannah was in the kitchen, washing dishes.
“You don’t have to do this, you are a guest here.” Marinette whispered.
Hannah looked hurt by that statement.
“Just make yourself feel like at home.” Marinette corrected.
Hannah beamed and continued to wash.
“Okay, rice.” Marinette fetched a bowl and poured some dry rice into it. Then she put it on the table and Adrien buried his phone in rice.
“Okay, are you in trouble, do you want to call anybody?” Marinette asked and offered her own phone.
“I could message my driver or Nahalie that I am safe and dry and he can stay safe and dry too but my phone got wet.” Adrien pondered. Then he realized he did not know the number, any of the numbers, by heart, so he shrugged.
“Okay, we can try when your phone dries.” Marinette smiled.
“Actually, I can send the message to your driver or Nathalie.” Kagami smiled.
“Now dry clothes.” Marinette ran up the stairs into her room and turned around. Juleka, Rose, Alya, Alix and Mylenne were lined up on her chaise and on the floor and watched a film on her computer. She turned around to the large chest where the gifts she made for Adrien were still hidden. She concentrated, remembered exactly how the package she wanted to grab looked like and did it in a few seconds. The chest was closed and locked and she had the wrapped t-shirt in her hands.
Adrien dictated the message to Kagami while he inspected the fridge with his bag over his shoulder. He found what he was looking for, there was a round box with cheese. He took a piece of Camembert and smuggled it into his shoulder bag. He closed the fridge and checked his bag. A very grumpy black cat stared at the boy. Adrien took a dry corner of his towel and ruffled Plagg dry. If anyone saw him, they thought he was drying the insides of his shoulder bag.
“Here.” Marinette gave him the package as soon as she god downstairs. She was very focused on a certain magnet on the fridge behind him. “The girls are watching a film upstairs if you want to join them.” Marinette told Hannah who just finished with washing the tray that her brothers used. Hannah ran upstairs and Marinette gave Adrien the package.
Adrien opened it and found a black t-shirt with green horizontal lines that if viewed at a certain angle revealed different letters. Adrien admired the work for a moment before he put it on.
“Why do you have a men’s t-shirt with ‘hot stuff’ written on it?” Kagami asked calmly. She was looking at the shirt from a side.
Marinette dropped the empty tin tray from her hands. It produced a lot of noise on the ceramics on the kitchen floor.
That was the t-shirt she intended for their firs anniversary of dating. She made a mistake.
“I … um … That green stuff? Well when you use the flash you see only that in the photo, the rest is dark so I thought … you know.” Marinette looked at the floor and wished to fall right through it. That kind of material was very expensive and she got this little piece for a bargain and thought it was a good thing to use for such a gift. She should have stepped over the girls, moved one or two of them to open her wardrobe and get one of those shirts that Adrien modelled already.
“Hey, that’s cool. Hot stuff. I like it.” Adrien smiled and sat at the table.
Marinette was very focused on something away from him and blushed.
“Is there any food left?” Luka peeked into the box. That startled the girl back to reality.
“I can heat up what maman left me for lunch.” Marinette produced a box from the fridge and put it into the microwave.
They ate some food, drank juice and hot chocolate and teased and joked until the film that girls were watching finished.
“Hey there.” Alix greeted as she was the one to get down the stairs. “I’m here to fetch more food. It is still raining.”
Marinette passed her the box with those few pastries that were left.
“And, by the way, Hannah fell asleep on the floor. Can we take the blanket off from your bed and cover her?” Alix inquired while Marinette was filling up the tray with different sweets.
Without a word Adrien and Luka were up the stairs, few steps at a time. Luka stopped abruptly, this was the first time he was in Marinette’s room and there was just so much pink that he had to adjust.
Adrien took the extra step to reach Hannah.
“We are putting her to bed.” Adrien decided and lifted her off the floor.
It was a complicated manoeuvre. Because the room was packed. Adrien picked up Hannah, Luka climbed up and took the girl from his hands. Adrien was up by the loft bed and both boys covered her with a blanket and tucked her in.
“She is really small.” Luka whispered.
“She is really tight sleeper.” Adrien added.
Rain was producing noise on the skylight window that was lulling everyone to sleep. The boys looked at the sleeping girl and decided to go downstairs.
“We put the baby to bed.” Luka announced proudly to Kagami.
“Proud fathers.” Kagami teased. “We put blankets over her sleeping brothers.”
“Proud mothers.” Luka winked.
“That is two kids, double the work.” Kagami put her hands on her hips.
“But you didn’t have to carry them.” Luka replied calmly.
“You carried her?” Kagami raised her eyebrows.
“We did.” Adrien flexed his muscles. Kagami gave her best unimpressed face.
Marinette returned from the living room.
“The boys are fine, we can watch the TV if we sit on the cushions on the floor.” She offered.
“Film or games?” Luka asked everyone present.
“Games are noisy.” Both Adrien and Kagami complained simultaneously.
“Okay, so a film then. Let’s pick something.” They played a film picked up by Luka, and arranged the pillows on the floor. They all saw the film before, save Kagami.
Half an hour into the film, Kagami sat, fully awake and stared at the screen with her back leaning onto the sofa. Luka had his head in her lap, Marinette had her head on his chest and Adrien on his belly. All three of them were sleeping. Kagami noticed she was the only one awake, shrugged and continued to watch the film.
“I am taking a photo of this. This is pure blackmail material.” Alya whispered to Alix who was snickering by her side.
“Be careful who gets to see that photo, you’ll get Adrien into trouble.” Alix warned.
Alya took a few photos with a flash, but was utterly disappointed when she saw almost nothing on them, save the words ‘hot stuff’ written on Adrien’s t-shirt. Alix could not stop snickering when she saw the photos.
“I just wanted to send the photos to Nino.” Alya whined.
Alix took her own phone, switched off the flash, put the phone on a shelf to keep it steady and took the photo. It was a selfie of her, Kagami with a peace sign, three sleeping teens and two balls of blankets on the couch that also contained two boys. She sent the photo to Nino.
Ten minutes later someone rang at the door.
Alix let Nino inside.
“I can’t believe dude did not let me know.” The boy sighed.
“Shh he is asleep. And his phone got wet.” Alix whispered.
“Oh.” Nino agreed that was a good enough reason not to contact him.
Nino looked at his best bro and the company and smiled. Then he followed Alix as she motioned for him. He found Alya and the girls in Marinette’s room watching a film.
“What’s this?” Nino inquired as soon as he saw his girlfriend.
“This is girls hanging out, no boys allowed.” Alya hissed back.
“Since when is my best bro a girl?” Nino took his stand but spoke quietly because Juleka and Rose were clearly asleep on the chaise. “And why didn’t you message me that he was here?”
“I .. um … thought he sent you a message.” Alya retorted.
“His phone is dead, otherwise his bodyguard would have picked him up already.” Alix replied as she sat down on the floor next to Mylenne and asked to be filled in on what she missed in the film.
Nino retreated downstairs and sat next to Kagami.
“Hi, I’m Nino” He offered his hand.
“Kagami.” She shook his hand.
Marinette started to stir in her sleep and Adrien moved sidewise and threw one arm around her.
“How did you all get here?” Nino inquired and Kagami told him how they rescued Adrien from a photo shoot with Lila. Well she omitted a few details that would reveal just how intentional the action was. But she knew Nino was Adrien’s best friend so she chose to trust him at least that much.
Luka opened his eyes, looked up, saw Kagami and smiled. She smiled back. She played with his hair and watched the film, Luka turned towards the screen and kept silent.
It was pleasant and peaceful, the rain drummed on the window but they were safe, warm and dry.
I had to kill Adrien's phone to be able to keep him there ...
Chapter 26: Films
Lila does some research and kids go home.
And yes, an akuma.
I might be giving too much credit to Lila here, she is sloppy in her lies but she did plan all that in Ladybug episode.
Also, the first Lila part happened before the photo shoot.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lila did not waste her time on her homework over the weekend. But that did not mean she did not do any research. Hannah was obviously a foreigner and her mother had access to the Frontex database and all the other data related to crossing the borders. She was going to find that girl in the database.
Phase one: persuade your mother this is something she needed for a school project. Done.
Phase two: search for the girl.
There was only one Hannah Prc born in Paris, but only twelve years ago. Perhaps the girl lied about that? She searched further.
Hannah was not a citizen of either Italy or France.
The search engine on border crossing did reveal one Hannah Prc, born on the same date twelve years ago, but in a different country, was that one of those countries that appeared after that war? There was something in the TV news about that, not that news in Paris even covered that any more, they were too busy with the akuma.
Lila randomly opened different databases and searched for the name and approximate age.
Another result popped up.
“Hannah Prc, born twelve years ago was denied sanctuary in Italy because she could not be classified as a refugee since she was not a citizen of a war torn country. Request denied.”
Lila glowed. She stroke gold.
She could not locate which citizenship Hannah actually had.
According to her mother’s databases, the girl was born, but she did not exist any more.
Well, who was going in her school then?
With everything she had planned, this should have been sufficient.
She did not bother to look up the names of her parents as listed on the birth certificate.
Now how about that photo shoot?
Lila would have been akumatized right on the photo shoot if butterflies liked flying in heavy rain. (Magic or not). Nathalie could not avoid bothering him with what was going on once the first garment was ruined. Gabriel was going nuts about the ruined outfits, wasted time and money for the photo shoot and the wasted opportunity to akumatize his favourite customer (aside a certain pigeon fan) because he had to deal with the first two problems. The rain finally ruined the shoot and he could dedicate his full attention to the last issue. He still focused on Lila’s feelings, perhaps he could just transform and send out a butterfly? Her feelings were boiling and only getting worse with time. He went into his lair and transformed. This was getting just too good. He was not going to waste this second chance.
Nathalie learned form Adrien’s bodyguard that Adrien was warm, dry and safe, and with Kagami. That was comforting. Kagami did not reveal their exact location, which was not so comforting, but Nathalie felt safe to assume the two teens took her driverless car to go somewhere safe, probably her home. The strong showers partially flooded the streets and stopped traffic in part of the city entirely. Strong wind and intense showers and hail made the streets of Paris rather unwelcoming. The weather reports on TV were broadcast instead of the usual programme and the influx of data and photos surpassed what was usually encountered only in the worst akuma attacks. Nathalie concluded it might be for the best to let Adrien wait for the worst to pass. She went to consult her boss only to find an empty office. He was probably dealing with some magic lepidopterology again. She instructed Adrien’s bodyguard to wait in the mansion for further instructions and info from Adrien or Kagami and went on to her own office. The failed photo shoot and ruined garments required a lot of organisation. And she was going to have a busy Sunday.
Alya watched the film restlessly. Juleka and Rose fell asleep, Mylenne and Alix discussed the film, but Alya did not care about the plot in the film. She planned the day for the girls only, her boyfriend was busy with relatives. But now boys invaded her plans. Adrien and Luka appeared in Marinette’s room without warning and carried Hannah to Marinette’s bed like she weighted almost nothing. Then they dutifully disappeared from the girl room. That was fine. Kagami and Marinette stayed downstairs with the boys. Alya did spy on them from the hatch door, but Alix and Mylenne kept pulling her away with ‘leave them alone’ kind of requests. The four of them were having a nice time. Alya was probably having a nice time with the girls too, except she didn’t feel that way.
Then she went downstairs with Alix and found a scene to remember. But when she tried to take a photo, she failed, that boy had to have anti-paparazzi clothing, of course he did. She returned to watch the film and just began to enjoy it when Nino arrived. She wanted to talk to him, she missed him, but with all the frustrations, unsatisfactory answers and something that Kagami and Marinette were scheming just when they were about to leave the park (and purposefully left Alya and the rest of the group out of their plans) accumulated frustration in her and she unleashed it on Nino when he appeared. Didn’t he say he had no time to see her that day? She purposefully turned to the film and decided to wipe out anything else from her surroundings. She was in a bad mood and she did not want to be akumatized.
Adrien woke up with someone in his arms. It was Marinette. Sleeping Marinette. His head was on something that was shaking. It was Luka’s belly. Luka was laughing. Marinette stirred in her sleep because her pillow (Luka’s chest) was also shaking. Adrien directed her head on his shoulder. Luka was laughing while someone played with his hair. Oh that was Kagami, and she was laughing too. And right next to Kagami, there was Nino. Nino was laughing at the screen but glanced towards his best bro and winked then he turned back to the screen and laughed again. Adrien turned his face so that he could see the TV screen. He could not see much, but hearing the conversation was sufficient, he started to laugh too.
Marinette was waking up. It was warm and cosy and she felt safe. Except everyone was laughing. She opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was black. The owner of the black shirt was laughing. Her arm was over his chest, not hers. It was definitely his chest. She looked up, he had blonde hair and green eyes and looked at her with a warm and gentle smile.
“eep.” She sat up so suddenly that she felt dizzy. She dropped her head back down and Adrien directed her to land softly back on his shoulder.
“Slowly, you’re going to get dizzy.” He warned quietly.
The three of them slowly sat up and they all shuffled their position so that Nino was sitting next to Adrien.
“When did you get here?” Adrien asked quietly.
“About half an hour ago.” Nino shrugged. “I was just very close. My relatives went to a restaurant nearby and when the shower started to pour we just had to stay there. I got the message from Alix when the rain looked bearable, my relatives ordered a taxi to take them to my home.”
“Alix?” Adrien frowned.
“Yes Alix. Now I know your phone got wet and Marinette here was unable to contact me for obvious reasons.” Nino stressed the last three words. Those obvious reasons made her blush severely while Luka and Kagami looked at each other and chuckled.
“But I have no idea why Alya kept silent.” Nino concluded.
“It was girl’s hang out. She is still sulking for that trick you pulled when you had your boy’s party at Adrien’s.” Marinette explained.
“Party at Adrien’s?” Kagami raised her eyebrows.
“Yeah, just boys allowed.” Adrien replied with a tone of regret in his voice.
“And Marinette.” Nino teased.
The girls came down the stairs one by one.
“The rain had almost stopped, film is finished, we cleared up a little so we are going home.” Alya informed the group.
Nino wanted to get on his feet.
“And this was the girls hanging out so you are not going with me mister I have relatives staying over the weekend.” Alya concluded.
“Just to let you know, Hannah is still sleeping.” Mylenne added before her greeting and the girls were gone.
“Hannah?” Nino asked.
“Yeah, you might find her brothers sleeping on the couch.” Adrien motioned with his head.
“I can see two kids, yeah, I guess I wasn’t really paying attention.” Nino adjusted his hat.
“I have to go, my car is coming over to pick me up.” Kagami stood on her feet.
“I should get those boxes to your parents if the rain subsided.” Luka added.
“Kagami, wait please, I should see if my phone is alive.” Adrien begged, took his phone from the rice and switched it on. The screen lit up. “Okay it is working. Thank you.”
Well, the phone was not really working, but they did manage to get the network. Adrien notified his driver where he was and that there was no hurry.
“Wait dude, let me try something.” Nino typed something in. “You should probably keep it dry for longer, your camera’s are still not working according to the system report. My phone got wet thanks to Chris.”
“Thanks dude.” Adrien replied and stuffed the phone back into the rice.
“So the four of you are ...” Nino asked after a long and awkward pause.
“Friends.” Marinette stated.
“Friends.” Adrien smiled.
“Friends.” Nino concluded. The three of them bumped their fists.
“So Luka and Kagami left us to deal with the kids.” Adrien wrapped his arm around Marinette who blushed again.
“Kids?” Nino frowned.
“Hannah and her brothers, we are adopting them. Their parents are too busy, but nice, not like my father.” Adrien continued.
“Yeah, I bring them pastries every day in the evening, but I think we ate everything we had left over in the bakery.” Marinette added worriedly.
They heard noises from Marinette’s room and soon Hannah appeared in the living room.
“Sorry.” Hannah mumbled. “Your bed.” Anything else in a foreign language was too much so soon after she woke up.
Then they noticed that her brothers opened their eyes too.
“Hey guys, you are fine, you are at my home.” Marinette greeted the boys.
“Thirsty.” one of them whispered through a stiff throat.
Hannah brought them glasses of water.
The three kids were waking up slowly in the living room.
“Kagami told me how you escaped the photo shoot. That was some prank you pulled dude.” Nino grinned.
“That was all Marinette’s planning and I can’t thank her enough.” Adrien beamed.
“And Kagami, and Hannah helped too.” Marinette added.
“And Luka finally drove me on his bicycle to here.” Adrien concluded.
Marinette let Adrien take the plastic bowl with rice with his phone in it from the counter and his semi dried clothes. His bodyguard was waiting in front of the building.
Nino went downstairs with Marinette to wave to his bro and help Marinette gather some pastries for Hannah.
“Marinette, I know it is none of my business, but can you tell me something more about our new classmate?” Nino inquired.
“She is … Nino I’d like to tell you everything, but that is really for her to reveal.” Marinette sighed. “ But if you ask her anything, make sure the questions are short and simple.”
She was thrilled to find some surplus mini quiches that were probably intended for the party in Le Grand Paris. Well, there were plenty of those left so she safely packed some. At that moment Hannah finally persuaded her brothers to go home too. Somehow, Marinette and Nino were walking across the park to take Hannah and her brothers home. The park was muddy, branches and leave from the trees littered the ground, but everything glowed in late afternoon sun. It was a short walk, less than five minutes, but Nino understood the basic story about Hannah, where her parents worked, where her brothers went to school and finally where she came from and he knew none of that was his to tell further.
Soon Marinette was home alone.
“Homework.” She sighed and went back to her room.
Adrien had to repeat his version of the events to Nathalie, it took all his training not to snicker and grin as he explained what happened at the photo shoot (leaving out several crucial details). His father was too busy to talk to him, which was probably good because he must have been in a bad mood. The photo shoot was ruined and some of the equipment too, not to mention the clothes that had to be fixed or replaced. Adrien was left to deal with his homework.
Hours later, after dinner with her parents and even more homework, Marinette noticed an akuma alert on the Ladyblog was switched on. There was very little information which was weird. She transformed, jumped on the rooftop and called Chat Noir. He answered rather quickly.
“Do you know what is it this time?” Ladybug inquired. She observed the city, the streets were partially covered in waters, several rather large branches had fallen off from the trees in the park and parts of the streets were covered in mud.
“It can only be another Chameleon. And if the information from the citizens is okay, she had been rampaging around for hours. The city is already damaged from the storm and it is not as if she is producing structural damage.” The boy concluded. He could not tell how he knew it. Because Chameleon went after Adrien first, but could not find him at home not any other places where she looked for him, then she went after Kagami, who was also nowhere to be found, but her mother was. The rest of the chain was hard to follow. Chat felt grateful that it never occurred to Lila to look for them at Marinette’s. (Note: how would I make a scene where Lila or anyone else gets to kiss Tomoe Tsurugi? The idea that Adrien’s driver does that seemed very silly so I let him pick up Adrien).
“Where is she?” Ladybug sighed. Of course Lila got akumatized, her pranks on the girl worked, and Lila was not a patient and forgiving kind, she was probably raging with anger once she realized that Adrien escaped the photo shoot. She must have looked for Adrien and Kagami, but both of them were hiding at her home, so she could not find them. Ladybug felt the urge to check on her friends but her duty called for her to deal with the akuma.
“The last definitive report is at the Eiffel Tower.” Chat checked his baton. “I’m already here and I can see a candidate.” That was a relief for Ladybug, the only way to help her friends now was to deal with the akuma.
“Great, be there in two.” Ladybug cut the call. She was only sorry that she did not transform and prevent this, she should have anticipated this, she should have just left and transformed, but she couldn’t do that, everyone was at her house, instead she was sleeping on Luka and Adrien, what kind of a hostess was she?
It was not exactly the same as the first time, because Chat Noir did not get kissed (nor Adrien). They both knew what to do. Lila was always a dangerous akuma, but both heroes were almost used to her tricks. And they could not define the akumatized object again even as they watched the akuma kiss and take shape of a street clown.
This time Ladybug caught two oysters from a cousine counter with her yoyo and gave one to Chat. They both acted as baits and were ready to plat the shell in the way of her lips. Chameleon was defeated swiftly and Ladybug and Chat Noir bumped their fists. Then they both looked at Lila sideways with few comforting words. Ladybug carefully approached closer to check her eyes and her face. She looked uninjured. Lila glared back at the heroes and they both left without bothering to try and check on the victim further. They felt more comfortable if their miraculous was out of the reach of her hands even when Lila was a civilian.
There was no way for Gabriel to not akumatize Lila after that, right?
Next chapter goes back to school and more schemes.
Chapter 27: A Phone Thief
Lila is in action again.
Just one long chapter today.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A Phone Thief
Adrien felt blessed and grateful, the information about his disappearance in the middle of the photo shoot did not reach his father in its raw format. His father did express his utter disappointment with the results of the yesterday’s photo shoot, the ruined clothing items and wasted working hours, he did question his son about his version of events and Adrien was even briefer in his explanation than with Nathalie. His father never bothered to ask Adrien what he did after the rain started to pour. It was a short meeting just after breakfast and Adrien was released to go to school.
Hannah and Marinette burst into the classroom moments before the last bell rang, out of breath.
“Huh, we really managed the lockers, you were right.” Marinette smiled to Hannah.
Warm smiles for greetings and they were on their seats the moment Ms Bustier started with her roll call with Adrien. The said boy reached the school only minutes before them. Adrien was setting up his stuff on his desk and smiled to the girls. Marinette felt her stomach flutter and she hugged her history book (that she just retrieved from her locker) slightly tighter. Hannah bounced on the steps to her seat and slid onto the bench next to Ivan. She was glad that she got rid of her lunch box, it did not fit the backpack with the large number of books and notebooks she carried on a daily basis.
The teacher finished with the roll call and asked if there were any questions before she could proceed with teaching. It was usually a mere rhetorical question, but not that morning. Lila asked Ms Bustier how the school handled anonymous complaints that year and the teacher explained that there were no changes with the respect to the last one. That did not leave Lila happy, but it alarmed both Adrien and Marinette. They knew Lila was scheming something.
“If you have placed an anonymous complaint for something that happened during class, then the teacher who was teaching that class gets to verify the complaint first.” Ms Bustier explained. She knew there was an anonymous complaint, because Mme Mendeleev told her there was one, but that the other teacher was about to handle it and she did not need to worry.
That made Lila stop pursuing the issue. Her complaint for nudity was probably with Mme Mendeleev and Lila glowed in anticipation on what the usually stern teacher was going to do to Hannah. She just needed to exercise patience, which was extremely hard to do after the photo shoot from yesterday. She spent the time before the classes had started complaining and whining about everything that happened, her eyes were only saved because a famous doctor (that existed only in a famous TV series) visited Paris as a tourist and helped her. She caught pneumonia due to terrible rain that caught her in the tent and she was transported to her home by personal limousine of Mr Agreste himself. She intended to trash Adrien for not joining her in the said limousine and for not inviting her to the Agreste mansion to warm up and recover. But the boy was fashionably late that morning and managed to avoid her wrath. She was so angry when she got home last night that she got akumatized easily. Unfortunately those two pests defeated her and she was back home, defeated and angry.
The teacher was calling her name. It was time to turn in the worksheets they got for homework.
“I’m really sorry Ms Bustier, but I couldn’t possibly work on the homework, my eyes got injured during the photo shoot with Adrien yesterday.” Lila cried her eyes out and got one week extension.
Alix raised her eyebrows and whispered with Mylenne. Only that morning Lila was showing them an article about her and Clara Nightingale and reading them praises written in the text from her phone. (The fact that Lila wrote it was beside the point.) There was nothing wrong with her eyesight only half an hour ago. Then Mylenne replied how she got her homework done long ago, like on Wednesday or something and could have helped Lila if she only asked.
Ms Buster asked the class to be quiet as she started with the teaching.
Hannah did not understand the commotion as she prepared herself for the lesson. She often missed the class drama even back home where she did not struggle with the language, but here in France, the pressure to follow the school curriculum was too big for her to engage in anything not curriculum related. The book was opened, the notebook was opened, she repeated several new words she learned last night when she read the lecture in advance.
“Hey model boy, what happened at that photo shoot yesterday?” Alya called as soon as the short break started. “Lila was telling us how she almost lost her eyes and all her clothes got ruined.” Lila was standing beside Alya and did her best to look hurt.
“She spilled some juice over herself and I sneezed when I smelled Kagami’s perfume.” Adrien shrugged. Nino glared at Alya, but his girlfriend missed the message. The boy tried to explain to his girlfriend that Adrien did not want photo shoots with Lila, that his father coerced him to do it, but Alya insisted that Adrien preferred Lila to any other model. It was so hard to reason with her once she made up her mind.
“And then you did not go to help her, you just disappeared on her and walked out from the photo shoot.” Alya continued. Lila was clutching Alya’s arm and pretended to be scared of Adrien.
“Yeah, Lila was so hurt that she insisted on continuing the photo shoot although the light was bad and all the clothes got ruined. She got to change in the tent. I went outside and behind a screen to change and then the rain started.” Adrien replied with a feigned smile. “She collected the whole shooting staff around her to tend to her every need, I was not able to approach her.” (Not that he ever wanted). “And I had to change on my own.” (Which he preferred.) “And since all the staff were tending to her, the equipment got wet and ruined.” Well the last thing was partially true, it definitely got wet. Some of the temporary props were also ruined. But he had to hear that in the morning so he felt inspired to just trash it all out.
Lila was sobbing more and more forcefully during his rant.
“You could have brought her with you, we could have all hang out at Marinette’s.” Alya continued to argue Lila’s case. But the last statement made Adrien flinch, Marinette wanted to slam her head in her desk, Nino nervously played with his red hat, but Lila, because this was obviously news for her, flashed pure anger on her face, that even Nino noticed. Of course, the bakery was right there, why didn’t she think of that? Why didn’t she think that Adrien would run away, and to the bakery? She was protected from the rain in the tent, she insisted on going home with Adrien, but they could not locate the boy, so she was escorted under a giant umbrella into a car that drove her home. And that was where she god akumatized. She assumed the boy simply went home while she was still in the tent. She had to do something, and she had to do something now.
“I knew the fashion world was cruel.” Lila whined between the sobs. “I am your father’s muse.” She threw a nasty look towards Marinette who was not even watching her. “I just did it to help your father’s company and you. I did it for you. And this is how you treat me?” She was hanging off Alya’s shoulder, Alya’s phone was in her back pocket.
Marinette was holding her head and stared at the open textbook, she was not reading, she was not even pretending to read, she just wanted to snap at the liar, but knew that would be counterproductive. She was more annoyed by Alya than Lila at that moment anyway.
“Well, what you just heard from me was just a fraction of what I got from Nathalie and my father, so better get used to it then.” Adrien was done being nice to her. It did not work to protect his friends. It only caused him suffering and his friends went out of their way to save him.
Lila continued her act by running away. Alya looked livid. Marinette was fuming in her seat, she did feel guilty for framing Lila, and she blamed herself for getting her akumatized, but this act was just too much. This act was something that just proven to Marinette that what she did yesterday was right, even if it got Lila akumatized.
“She got akumatized for that Adrien, akumatized, again!” Alya cried as if it was Adrien himself who produced the violet butterfly and threw Lila in its path.
Adrien was having his own internal struggle, he knew they were ‘not nice’ to Lila yesterday, and he had to be nice always and to everybody, no matter how hard they offended him, no matte what kind of insults they were spewing. But he had enough, he couldn’t do it any more, and even if she got akumatized, he just could not be sorry for escaping her.
“Calm down babe, it’s not Adrien’s fault that storm was so bad yesterday.” Nino tried to make amends between his best bro and his girlfriend. The boy was happy that his best friend was able to escape and spend time with his friends.
Hannah noticed the commotion, but she was too consumed in history lesson she just had and too concerned about the forthcoming lecture in literature to even attempt to understand what was going on.
Lila was back in the classroom just as the bell rang with a sly smile on her face. Adrien noticed that just the moment before he turned around from Alya to look towards the teacher. It raised all his internal alarms to the point that he wanted to jump and extort the information on the spot.
Alya mouthed to Lila “Are you okay.” But Lila just shook her head and ran to her place, she knew Alya was going to send her a message from her phone and to continue to exchange a string of messages during the whole period.
“There is something going on, I did not like the look on Lila’s face.” Adrien muttered with his head bowed. Plagg tapped his chest to note he was awake and listening.
“Yeah dude, I don’t like where things are going too.” Nino muttered back with his head low as he thought his best bro was talking to him.
Marinette tapped her purse and opened the clutch. A pair of worried blue eyes was looking at her.
Alya was tossing and turning in her seat and frantically looking for something everywhere.
“Where is my phone?” Alya cried rather loudly.
“Mlle Cesaire.” The teacher warned.
“The break just finished and my phone is missing.” Alya replied in panic. “I’m sure I had it when the break started, someone stole it in the last five minutes.”
For some reason she looked at Marinette with narrowed eyes and that only made Lila literally glow. Marinette narrowed her eyes back at Alya and shook her head. Alya raised an eyebrow, she obviously did not believe that.
“Oh Alya, your precious phone, it is so important to all of us, how are you going to maintain the Ladyblog without it?” Lila cried from her spot. “How are we all going to know if there is an akuma attack without it. Whoever stole your phone must work with Hawk Moth.”
Ms Bustier wanted to say that Alya was not supposed to work on the Ladyblog during classes, but she just smiled politely and held her breath. Because whoever told Alya not to work on the Ladyblog during classes might also easily be seen as someone who worked with Hawk Moth and Ms Bustier was already akumatized once.
Marinette rolled her eyes. Adrien thanked the person who trained him to keep his cool in public.
“Phones are not supposed to be used during class.” The teacher wanted to avoid a full on investigation and continue with her teaching without mentioning the famous blog.
“Excuse me.” Chloe spoke suddenly. “But this school should treat theft seriously. If the phone was stolen within the last five minutes it could still be found.”
Alya stared at the source of her support. Chloe returned a smile of superiority.
Principal Damocles was called.
The teacher ordered everyone to empty their bags on their desks.
Adrien sighed. Plagg was hiding in his shirt, but spare Camembert was in the bag. Fortunately a cheese triangle did not draw so much attention as Chloe did.
“I am not emptying my bag to this desk in front of all these people, I have no reason to steal Alya’s phone, my daddy can get me much better and more expensive one.” The heiress stated and flipped her pony tail.
Marinette could only hope that Alya would avert her eyes from her for long enough to do something with Tikki. She emptied her school bag, but her small clutch bag remained on the bench, unopened.
Alya was looking at Marinette expectantly.
Marinette finally opened her clutch bag. There was only her phone and few small items, Tikki phased down below the bench. Marinette could not hide that she was relieved.
“What was that?” Alya hissed. She noticed how her seat mate was relieved when she opened her clutch bag.
“I … I’m just glad I don’t have something embarrassing inside.” Marinette stuttered out. Well that was the truth, revealing Tikki was in her bag would be at least embarrassing, it would have been an ultimate disaster.
Well, Alya snickered at that, of course Marinette would be self-conscious about the contents of her purse in front of Adrien. At least that excuse worked perfectly and did not raise further suspicion,
Ivan stared at the pile of books that got extracted from Hannah’s backpack. That girl had this and last years history book, a huge French dictionary and a pile of notebooks. If the literature teacher did not let her use the web engine, the girl took the most exhaustive dictionary she could find in the library.
The teacher climbed up through the passage in the middle, between the benches and looked left and right. Alya’s phone was nowhere to be found. She stopped by Lila with an intention to just turn around.
“You know, the short break is sufficient for students to go to the locker rooms.” She suggested with feigned innocence.
“Plagg.” Adrien whispered to his shirt. “You know which locker is Marinette’s and which one is Hannah’s?”
Plagg patted his chest and muttered. “Might as well check your own.”
“Thank you Plagg, you can leave mine for the end. And you have permission to remove the embarrassing amount of Camembert I have stashed there.” The boy then fully accidentally dropped all his items on the floor and crouched all the way down to pick them up. To his surprise, Plagg did not go straight down to phase to the floor, but towards Marinette. That caused temporary panic, until the boy noticed that Marinette, Nino and Hannah were all helping him collect his things. It was Hannah who picked up the cheese triangle, she simply shrugged and put it in his bag.
Plagg went straight to Tikki.
“We are on a mission, Sugarcube.” Plagg pulled the tiny red bug down and they both phased through the floor.
“We are going to get into trouble.” Tikki whispered.
“My chosen sent me on a mission and you are going to help me.” Plagg replied sassily. “We are going to search the locker of your chosen and that new girl because he thinks the Alya’s phone must be there.”
“Oh, I knew that Lila was up to something.” Tikki was now pulling Plagg towards the locker room.
The two of them floated into the locker room.
“First your chosen, she was the target the last time.” Plagg phased inside the locker.
“Oh hoh hoh.” Plagg laughed excitedly at his discoveries.
“Millions of years old and you’d think he knew about privacy.” Tikki muttered and phased into the locker after him.
“Oh, my, look at what we have here.” Plagg gloated.
“We are looking for a phone Plagg.” Tikki warned.
“Oh, come on Sugarcube, we can do some sightseeing.” The tiny black cat was phasing through stuff in Marinette’s locker to escape the other kwami’s wrath.
“We have no time for that, now I see you checked the lower portion, there is nothing up here, let’s go and find the other locker.” Tikki chided.
“Too bad, I’ll have to escape once more to check that nice box in the bottom.” Plagg snickered and phased out from the locker.
Tikki followed quickly. It took them few failed attempts until they located Hannah’s locker.
“I feel drawn to inspect the upper parts.” Plagg snickered to Tikki once they were both fully phased into the locker.
“I assume her lunch box is there and there is some cheese inside.” Tikki put her tiny hands to her hips.
“No stealing food from Hannah!” Tikki warned.
They searched the rest of the locker and did not find the phone.
“I was right.” Plagg grinned. “She did put it into the locker of my chosen.”
“No Plagg.” Tikki replied. “I think you were right and there is one place we did not look into.” She looked at Plagg with her large blue eyes and then towards a box that held Hannah’s lunch.
They both tried to pull the lid up but it held to the box too tightly.
“We could open it from inside, Sugarcube.” Plagg winked.
“We don’t have much time.” Tikki warned.
Plagg phased into the box and quickly made space for himself by annihilating a cheese strudel inside. “mmm, salty.” Plagg grinned and licked himself.
The phone was sitting inside the box.
“You were right and it is not like we should let Hannah eat the food that girl had touched.” Tikki sighed.
“Okay, now one, two, three.” Tikki counted and the two of them opened the lid to the box and extracted the phone. Plagg floated with the phone in his paws while Tikki unlocked the locker.
They heard footsteps and voices and soon the door to the locker room were opening.
Plagg dropped the phone in the middle of the room and returned to help Tikki close the locker door. Then they both phased down and hid below the locker. The phone clattered to the other side and ended up almost entirely under a locker on the other side.
Marinette was a dead (wo)man walking. She was sure that Lila framed her again and she used Alya’s phone this time. That would definitely destroy their friendship. The fact that Alya knew Marinette stole phones before could not help her at all. Perhaps she could invent some quick excuse and admit she stole the phone for a joke or to test the school reaction on a report about the stolen property or ...
Lila did not say anything but she was talking to principal Damocles and stopped right in front of Hannah’s locker. But the man did not follow her lead entirely and stopped a few lockers away. Marinette stood right next to him. She might as well be the first one to open her locker and show the contents, they would find the phone and then the rest of her class would be saved from the humiliation of their lockers getting searched.
Hannah was right by her side. She was concerned because someone apparently stole Alya’s phone and that was not good. She knew that she had not stolen it, she had nothing to worry about.
“So, who wants to be the first to have their lockers searched?” Principal Damocles asked sternly.
“Well, why don’t you start with the two students who are the first in line.” Lila fluttered her eyelashes. Of course she knew in which locker she stashed the phone, but the opportunity to humiliate Marinette by having her locker searched was just too tempting.
“But the two of them have not even been to the locker room this morning, they were in class the whole time.” Adrien complained.
“I clearly remember Marinette mentioned they were in the locker room before they arrived to the class.” Lila smiled wickedly.
“But Alya, you said the phone got stolen during the break.” Adrien turned to the other classmate.
Alya was still angry at Adrien because of the argument they just had. Marinette was eerily quiet and completely pale. Adrien knew what he could expect. Hannah looked as happy as always, she obviously did not expect to find Alya’s phone in her locker.
“Well, we won’t find the phone in there, won’t we?” Alya replied to Adrien flatly.
Marinette sighed and approached her locker.
Hannah practically danced to her locker.
Marinette felt her life flash before her eyes while she slowly turned the lock to open it.
Hannah opened it within a second and looked inside.
Marinette was slowly opening the door to her locker. Her resolve to go through with this was slowly crumbling.
“Hey, I could call Alya’s phone and that would help us locate it.” Max proposed. “The search would go much faster.”
“Yes of course, please do that Max.” The teacher accepted eagerly.
“Oh, I think that would be useless, the phone is certainly set to silent.” Lila was almost singing. She definitely wanted Marinette’s locker searched.
“It can’t hurt.” Ms Bustier replied while Max already pressed call button next to the number.
Marinette was standing in front of her opened locker and waited for her verdict.
Hannah still stared the empty and opened lunch box. Lila noticed her stare and grinned wickedly, she did not need to see what was inside, she knew. Everyone was looking at the two girls, Hannah could do nothing to hide the phone now.
To everyone’s amazement, there was noise coming from behind them.
“Is this your phone Alya?” Alix pulled out the phone from under the locker and held it high. “It was just under a locker over here.”
Marinette thanked all the gods she knew (and those included Plagg and Tikki) and shut her locker loudly.
Adrien smiled widely. Inside he was already ordering the finest Camembert that money could buy. The tiny glutton did it. Fortunately, everyone was relieved so his happiness passed unnoticed. Well, not everyone was happy. He saw the expression on Lila’s face, he knew he was right and she planted the phone, he was just not sure whose locker it was.
Then he saw Hannah, she was staring at something in her locker and the boy approached carefully.
“What’s wrong?” Adrien asked quietly.
“My lunch.” She whispered sadly. “It is eaten.” She pointed to the empty plastic box.
Adrien’s face was gloomy. That glutton, he ate the poor girl’s lunch. Well, the tiny god did earn his meal. Adrien was just going to make up for it too.
“I’ll get lunch for you.” Adrien whispered. “Just tell me what would you like to have.”
Hannah looked at him.
“I .. can’t ask for food.” She stuttered out.
“That is okay, I offered, your lunch had been stolen and I’ll get one for you, okay?” The boy smiled. He was grateful that the girl did not scream and ask for another investigation about who stole her lunch. But Hannah was not the type. And he did not want anyone else to do that for her.
Marinette overheard the conversation but she did not join them. Lila was looking at her then at Adrien and Hannah and then back at Marinette with such stare that if looks could kill, all three of them would be dead even if they had nine lives.
Alya was confused, she held the phone in her hands, she felt stupid, she raised an alarm needlessly.
“You probably just dropped it, babe.” Nino was holding her shoulders.
“Okay, let’s go back to the classroom.” The teacher called happily.
Alya was not happy, she just made a fool of herself, the other classmates glared at her because they had to empty their bags in the classroom because she lost her phone. Well, most of them understood her concern, up to a point, it was easy to panic like that, and Alya was dependent on her phone more than the rest of them.
Marinette finally turned away from her locker, she was certain Tikki had something to do with that and she was going to bake macarons this evening, the strawberry macarons, her favourite kind.
Adrien returned the empty lunch box into the locker and Hannah locked it. He wrapped one arm around Hannah and another around Marinette (who blushed although she was through a whole spectrum of emotions in the last few minutes) and the three of them walked back to the classroom together.
The very last person to leave the locker room was Lila. She cursed the damn glutton who stole and ate Hannah’s lunch and removed Alya’s phone in the process, may the damn being be cursed with bad luck for eternity and destroy everything they touch.
Mme Mendeleev in the next chapter.
Chapter 28: One on one
Tikki gets Plagg back to the classroom. Hannah falls asleep during class. The class struggles with the literature assignment. Mme Mendeleev deals with anonymous complaint, gym class and an akuma.
Yes I am cheating and this is at least two chapters long ... but I promised Mme Mendeleev.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
One on one
Plagg and Tikki bumped their fists in their hiding place under the locker.
“Okay, lets phase back to the classroom before we get into trouble.” Tikki whispered.
“Oh no, my chosen promised me I can remove the embarrassing amounts of Camembert from his locker and I intend to do just that.” Plagg retorted.
“No Plagg. We are supposed to stay close to our chosen.” Tikki grabbed his tiny arm and tried to pull him. But Plagg pulled in the opposite direction and she could not phase through things and actually pull him.
“My chosen had clearly instructed me to eat that cheese.” Plagg retorted and pulled towards Adrien’s locker.
“But you just ate all that cheese strudel.” Tikki pulled back.
“And I have to fix the taste with some fine Camembert.” The tiny black cat managed to extract himself from Tikki’s tiny hands.
“You glutton, you are just asking for an excuse to eat more cheese.” Tikki chided with her hands on her hips.
“But Sugarcube, I can’t go against the will of my chosen and he clearly wanted me to save him from the threat of anyone discovering that Camembert.” Plagg teased.
“That danger is long gone, Plagg. You will get caught just like the last time.” Tikki was angry.
“The hallway is full of students returning to the class, we will be seen if we return right now. And since we have nothing better to do, I say we go to the locker of my chosen and have a little feast to celebrate, I believe we earned it.” Plagg said cheerfully and phased into Adrien’s locker.
Tikki rolled her eyes and phased right after him.
There was definitely more than half a wheel of Camembert. Tikki pressed her nose and averted her face away from the cheese to reduce the smell. (The writer actually likes Camembert and it is not so smelly as several other French cheeses that are definitely disgusting.) Plagg annihilated it quickly, as usual. Then he burped and then he decided to rest a little on the top of the circular box.
The tiny goddess of creation did not know if she should be glad or annoyed that Plagg finally went unconscious.
“I wish this was the first time I’m dragging you back to your chosen after you got yourself into a food coma.” Tikki muttered while she unlocked the locker, pulled Plagg out and closed the locker. But that was only the beginning of her troubles.
Tikki contemplated if it was just wiser to leave Plagg in Adrien’s locker and wait for the next short break for the boy to pick him up, because if he sent his kwami on a mission and actually told him to annihilate the cheese there, then that was what the boy should do. If Plagg was telling the truth (which was considerably doubtful since there was cheese involved), if Adrien was reasonable (which he mostly was) and would leave Marinette and Hannah alone to go to the locker room on his own (which was highly improbable at the moment) and if there was no akuma attack. And both Lila and Alya were suitable candidates for Hawk Moth’s butterflies at the moment. She pulled Plagg and floated close to the ceiling and through the windows that were placed just above the door. She hid next to the classroom door.
“If only I could make you phase through that door.” Tikki stared at the closed door. Once the bell inevitably rang, the door was about to be opened, but then they could be noticed and she would have to drag Plagg back to the locker. But then, miraculously, Tikki got lucky and the door opened, Alya ran out and did not even close the door behind her.
Tikki knew that the girl was distressed and might be akumatized.
The teacher called back for the attention, the class faced the blacboard and Tikki quickly passed through the open door just above the floor and hid below the step. She made sure to hide below the bench and drop Plagg into Adrien’s bag, that the boy conveniently kept on the floor to allow easy access to his kwami, and then she phased all the way to Marinette’s purse. She patted the thigh of her chosen through the purse and felt how the tension was released from her chosen’s body. Marinette patted her shoulder bag and raised her hand.
“Ms Buster, as a class president, can I go and see that Alya is okay, this morning was really stressful for her? We do not want her akumatized.” Marinette asked politely.
Of course, Ms Bustier could not deny a request like that.
“Oh I wanted to run just after her, but I wanted you just right by my side, you know in case ....” Marinette whispered to Tikki as soon as she was out from the classroom.
Adrien shared the same concern, he was going to need his kwami soon, he was nervous when he did not find the tiny glutton back in his bag when he returned to the classroom, but the most recent event made him check again, only to find Plagg was in the bag and snored quietly. He released a breath slowly and returned his attention to the teacher. Marinette went after Alya, perhaps he will not need Plagg.
Marinette found Alya in the girl’s toilet.
“I’m fine.” Alya snarled as soon as she saw Marinette.
“No you’re not.” Marinette sighed.
“I made such a fool of myself. Just like you do when you blame everything on Lila.” Alya replied.
Marinette waited patiently for Alya to realize what she just said, she almost laughed to the irony, but then she took Alya’s hand.
“Come on, nobody hates you, Kim was just teasing. And you didn’t make such a big fool of yourself. Let’s go back to the class.” Marinette replied warmly.
“And the way Chloe huffed and ...” Alya continued to describe the reaction of everyone in their class as if everyone’s blink and breath was directed towards her utter humiliation.
“Chloe would huff even if nothing happened, you should not think like that about your classmates. Each of them would have acted similarly in your place.” Marinette tried to console her friend. But the truth was that she had stolen Adrien’s phone and the boy did not make such a fuss about it.
It took Alya a few more moments, her breathing evened, but still got interrupted from time to time when she remembered something else to complain about, Marinette would just squeeze her hand tighter and Alya accepted the situation she found herself in and the two girls returned to the class with smiles on their faces.
Meanwhile, in the classroom, Ms Bustier was teaching in quick and monotonous speech. She had lost time in the beginning of the class and she wanted to make up for it because she did not want to be behind with the teaching. The pace at which she was speaking made it impossible for Hannah to follow what the teacher was saying. (Actually, that was probably valid for most of the class after the excitement they have been through). She was working on her homework and was trying to learn in advance for history and literature until late after midnight. She was tired and sleepy and the quick and quiet gentle voice from the teacher was only lulling her to sleep.
She woke up with a thud and light headache when her head hit the desk. Adrien flipped around and saw her. Well, most of the class did. She quickly straightened up and resisted to rub her eyes until the teacher averted her eyes. But Adrien and Nino as well as Ivan all saw her yawn and rub her eyes. She focused on the teacher, she had to try and understand what Ms Bustier was explaining.
They got a chapter to read and an abstract to write about it for homework just before the bell rang.
“Adriekins, what did I hear about that awful accidents that happened on the photo shoot?” The blonde heiress cornered the blonde model and the rest of the class could not help much. It was just that tone and attitude that Chloe always used.
“Well Chloe, everything was fine in the beginning, I was doing solo shoots since the early morning, Vincent said we were doing great and made several excellent photos. My father was rather satisfied with those.” Adrien replied, he was certain about that because his father said nothing about them, and in his condition it meant there was nothing to complain about, which meant they were excellent.
“Oh, but what happened then?” Chloe was loud, but also honestly concerned for her friend.
“I guess some bad luck must have arrived at the photo shoot.” Adrien glanced towards Lila intentionally. “And it all went downhill from there.”
Marinette had to prevent herself to snort at what he just said. She did not miss the way he glanced towards Lila.
“Oh Adriekins, I am so sorry to hear that.” Chloe did not miss just who was Adrien just talking about. She disliked Lila, definitely, especially after the smug liar got to be Gabriel’s muse. She would never understand why Gabriel did not pick her, Chloe, for his muse. She was tall and blonde just like Emilie, she had class and style and loved high fashion.
“And then you got caught in that awful storm. But why did you go to Marinette’s afterwards? Why didn’t you call me? I would have sent a limo to fetch you.” Chloe whined.
“My phone got wet.” Adrien smiled his model smile. “Marinette was close, the girls and Kagami were there too.”
At the mention of Kagami’s name, Chloe’s face fell. She turned towards Marinette and looked at the girl helplessly, they used to share their dislike and jealousy of the Japanese girl, but now Marinette was her friend and she even enabled the pair to spend some time together, more than once. ‘Traitor’ her eyes told Marinette, but the other girl just smiled back warmly. Chloe could not get it, why would Marinette let Adrien spend time with another girl if she really loved him, it was ridiculous, utterly ridiculous.
During literature, they were partnered with their seat mates to analyse a piece of text for an exercise.
Alya was in a bad mood and kept glaring at Adrien, finally Marinette asked her again what was wrong, because this was not about the phone.
“I like you girl, but he abandoned Lila in that condition to run to you.” Alya spat out. She was still upset about her phone incident, but could not admit to that.
“Kagami was there too, and Luka, and the whole class, even you, he did not come for me.” Marinette replied gently. Besides, she knew well that his goal was to run away from Lila and he only went to her home because Luka brought him there. But her heart fluttered anyway, her eyes fell on the blonde mop of hair before her.
However, the rant made Alya calm down a bit and she was able to do some actual work.
They continued with the literature task, it was an exercise on how much of a few hundred year old text they could understand because the language had changed. They were expected to notice the old words and look for the meaning if they did not understand.
“For me this is like they translated every third word into Chinese.” Ivan muttered.
Hannah nodded as she stared at the text. She wanted to cry. Then she quietly underlined the words she understood, the individual words, there were less than half. Then Ivan explained her a few words that were still used in the modern French and they underlined those too and reached about one half of the text. After that they started to look for the meaning of the remaining words. Hannah was quick to find an explanation, but the explanation was another French word or a piece of text. Fortunately Ivan was good in that part and wrote down the translation into the modern French. They were just about finished with that part when the bell rang. They turned in their assignment and it was the time for a lunch break.
The weather was clear and sunny. Adrien messaged Nathalie earlier and asked for an extra portion of lunch for Hannah, he was allowed to take his lunch with his friends but the lunch box was about to be delivered to him. Well that day he got two boxes, and one of them was clearly labelled as the lunch for Hannah while the other was labelled that it was for him. He was rather confused after they opened the boxes and discovered that contents were identical.
Nino had chosen to avoid the cafeteria that day and more of Lila and Alya drama, he was not in the mood for that any more and Marinette discovered that her father packed a rather generous amount of pastries that morning so the four of them found a bench to sit on and shared their food. It was a friendly silence between friends until it started to feel awkward since at least three of them wanted to avoid a subject that was constantly on their minds.
“I did bad in literature.” Hannah admitted. She lost her appetite.
“That is okay. I would do bad too if there was no Adrien.” Nino replied and bit into a sandwich.
Marinette was quiet, she was useless for the same reason, well, Alya too, but slightly different …
“We will just get a different assignment for homework tomorrow if we did bad, don’t worry.” Adrien smiled. “I can help you all once we get it. One lunch break in the library.”
“If your father let’s you stay for lunch breaks after yesterday.” Nino sighed. He was certain that his best bro was going to be grounded, but by some small miracle that did not happen yet, because the old man was more concerned for the working hours and the props than the whereabouts of his own son, while his bodyguard and Nathalie did not bother to tell the man what he did not ask. That was understandable, they would both also get a portion of Gabriel’s wrath.
After the pastries were finished, Adrien managed to persuade Hannah to eat the lunch prepared in the Agreste mansion. The girl finally accepted, but decided to share it with Marinette because Adrien was sharing with Nino.
“Did you fall asleep during history this morning?” Adrien asked Hannah.
She looked at all three faces, Nino had a knowing look, Marinette was surprised, because she wasn’t there, she was with Alya when it happened.
“How much did you get to sleep?” Marinette asked. Hannah slept for few hours yesterday afternoon, she should not have been tired.
“Four hours.” Hannah admitted.
“What did you do, watch films with your brothers?” Nino inquired.
“No.” Hannah shook her head. “Just homework, housework, cleaning, cooking, lunch for today.”
“What about your mother?” Marinette asked quietly.
“She can’t really, after her shift, too tired.” Hannah stammered out.
Then the trio bantered about different films and video games and music and Hannah followed them carefully as she tried to pick up the pieced of conversation. Nino caught her repeating different expressions after them.
“Why are you doing that?” Nino motioned towards Adrien who was the last to speak.
“I … “ Hannah turned to Marinette and then to Adrien as if she wanted their approval to spill out her secret. They both nodded. “I’m still learning French.” She smiled.
“But you speak French?” The boy felt little awkward, he expected he would have noticed by then.
“Not much.” She fiddled with her phrase book, then she opened it on a certain page. She was looking for something to say.
“That is okay, she is getting a tutor this afternoon if they have someone available.” Marinette smiled.
“There is one and she is getting me this afternoon after the gym class.” Adrien beamed. “I explained to Nathalie that it is sort of my duty as an excellent student. She bought it.”
“But what about your brothers?” Marinette checked the time. Well, she knew that Adrien and her sort of adopted Hannah, but she wanted to spend more time with the boy too. Bad girl Marinette, Adrien was with Kagami, or at least she was supposed to think that way, she was not even sure after yesterday. And he only took upon himself to tutor Hannah because Marinette didn’t due to her duties as Ladybug.
“Papa can fetch them today.” Hannah smiled. “They are both home.”
“Adrien is your tutor.” Nino announced to Hannah who smiled widely to all three.
“We should better go to the library to verify nobody messed up with your plans.” Marinette warned quietly.
One brief talk with the librarian and it was settled. They would do the tutoring sessions during lunch break on Mondays if possible, otherwise after the afternoon classes on the same day. A small booth was booked for them.
After the lunch break, they had science. This was it for Lila, finally Hannah was going to answer to the complaint Lila placed anonymously about the nudity during chemistry class. Well, this was supposed to be physics, but the teacher was the same. Mme Mendeleev would not let Lila wait for few more days to get her plan in motion, wouldn’t she?
Mme Mendeleev entered the classroom with her head high. The students were eerily quiet.
“There was an anonymous complaint about nudity in your last chemistry class.” Mme Mendeleev announced solemnly. Lila glowed with a sly smile on her face. “Since the injured student did exactly what was required by the safety procedures, this shows that someone among you is not familiar with the proper security measures in the chemistry lab. Since the complaint was anonymous, as the complainer was not brave enough to sign it. All of you will have to fill in the exam that you will find on your school accounts. You can learn about the emergency procedures on the school web page in case you forgotten them. The students who do not pass the test will have to take additional courses and can’t participate in regular lab work until they pass the test. This does not excuse you from the same work, you will have to complete the experiments during additional classes before this semester is finished. Understood? Fine, and now we can all proceed with physics.”
Needless to say, nobody was happy with that prospect. The teacher was loud, clear and too fast.
Hannah understood they were taking a test and noted what and where to find it. The instructions – web page. But the rest was a blur. She assumed it was related to the incident when she got injured. Of course the teacher would require everyone to take a test on security measures in the chemistry lab after such incident, it made sense.
Marinette felt cold sweat go down her spine. Alya groaned at the additional test. Nino and Adrien shared a look. Kim swore, not even under his breath, Max tried to calm him down. Alix was ready to kill the anonymous guy or girl, her first suspect was Chloe, but that girl never did anything anonymously, she could not even hide that she was a superhero.
Chloe realized she could not get out of this one, it was her accident that lead to the nudity. She even felt a little bad about what she had done once she realized what the consequences might have been. Well, it was an online exam, she could have Sabrina do that for her. But then she thought again. Because she was obnoxious but not actually stupid. Hannah could have had permanent scars left on her skin if she did not do what she did. Chloe did not want permanent scars on her skin, perhaps it was time for her to learn. She was so proud of herself.
And the gym class.
Lila insisted on being paired up with Adrien, although the teacher asked them to find a partner of the same size. Then the teacher sighed.
“Perhaps it will be easier for you after I explain you the deal. You are going to throw this heavy ball at your partner and they are expected to catch it without dropping it to the floor. If they drop the ball, the point goes to you, if they don’t, the point goes to them.” The teacher explained.
Adrien gave Lila such wicked grin that the girl developed arthritis, tinnitus and probably even pain in her ass within a time frame of several seconds.
Adrien and Nino, Ivan and Kim, Rose and Mylenne, Juleka and Nathaniel, with some huffing and several glares Alya and Chloe, Marinette and Sabrina, finally the teacher let Max, Alix and Hannah to form a triangle.
Some pairs were passing the ball in a friendly manner, annoyingly friendly if you asked the teacher, Juleka and Nathaniel kept dodging the ball that the other threw and the teacher was so annoyed that he even did not look in their direction after he warned them once that was not the point of the exercise.
The boys took it more competitively from the start. There were uufs and oohs from the boy that caught the ball.
The trio was taking it easy. Alix was competitive, but Max and Hannah did not look like a challenge at all.
Lila glared from her seat at the bench. She could have been paired with Hannah, she could destroy the girl with a ball or feign to be injured by her, or both. But she lost her opportunity. Hannah threw the ball to Alix who caught it with ease. Yeah, that was really a wasted opportunity.
The teacher made a full round around the gym and all the pairs before he sat down on the bench beside Lila and asked her to repeat all her maladies because he insisted to put them on the school log.
“Oh, but I don’t want it in my school medical records, I would be so ashamed if all my illnesses became common knowledge.” Lila whined.
“Mlle Rossi, I assure you that your medical records are strictly confidential and can be accessed only by your teachers and only on a need to know basis.” The teacher explained. “There are no records of you being ill in your data so unless you give me an excuse, I’m afraid I will have to ask you to join the exercise or mark that you refuse to do it. So what shall it be?”
That was exactly what she needed. Her second chance.
“You know, I think I could play against Hannah.” She offered.
“But she is the smallest in your class, wouldn’t you rather take ...” The teacher started to speak.
“No” Lila cut him off abruptly. There was no way for her to accept Alix or Max.
Lila was barely able to pick up the ball from the floor.
Hannah was beaming at Lila. Her idol, that fantastic girl who took her time to work for charities had picked her for her partner.
Adrien was alarmed as soon as he noticed that Lila was up from her bench. Marinette was too far and with her back turned to see what was going on. The teacher observed the two girls carefully due to Lila’s supposed injuries and Hannah considerably smaller size.
Lila threw the ball with all her might. It flew in a high and curved line.
Hannah had to jump to catch it, she lost her balance and rolled back down on the gym mat with the heavy ball in her lap.
“It didn’t touch the floor.” The teacher announced with a thumbs up. He was ready to turn away, but he remembered Lila complained about her conditions, so he decided to pay more attention and see for himself.
Hannah grinned for the won point. She got off from the floor. She wanted to impress her classmate with her strength. Because Lila used all her strength, she was going to give it all she had. With a few steps forward to catch some momentum she threw the ball in a straight line towards Lila. Hannah pushed it so hard that she passed all her momentum to the ball.
Lila instantly stepped to the side, there was no way for her to even attempt catching that. But she was slow and the ball did brush her shoulder on the way.
The ball hit some equipment in the back and produced a lot of noise.
Lila screamed and held her wrist.
Everyone stopped the exercise and there was a complete silence.
“Thank you for trying, but I think we should go through your medical conditions as I first asked you to.” The teacher lead Lila away from the floor to the bench on the side.
“She injured me!” Lila whined. She motioned towards the girl who barely reached her shoulder.
“I’m so sorry Lila.” Hannah apologized. “I’m sorry.” She repeated. If only she could remember all those phrases people used to ask for forgiveness. Her brain went blank. She did not want to hurt Lila, but she never did anything half heartedly, gym class included.
“The ball barely touched your shoulder and you are holding your wrist.” Adrien cut in.
“That is the way that injury works Adrien. She did it on purpose. She threw the ball at me purposefully with an intention to hit me” Lila whined.
“And that is exactly what this exercise is about. Good job.” The teacher told Hannah. “Now, Mlle Rossi, as I explained in the beginning, you are expected to catch the ball or evade it.” The teacher continued calmly.
“I am filing a complaint.” Lila replied with a few sobs just for good measure.
The gym class teacher had seen his share of injuries and crying. He was immune to none and he wanted to avoid being responsible for a student’s injury. He thought about it a little. He could not really stop it.
“Fine.” The teacher replied. The exercise was in the school curriculum, his hands were clean.
“And you will have to go to the school principal with this one.” Lila continued.
“Fine.” The teacher was leading Lila away to sit on the bench.
Lila whined and whimpered and cried the whole time, she felt all the eyes were on her and she enjoyed the attention. The teacher instructed the class to resume the exercise while he sat beside Lila. Most of the class were watching Lila. Adrien was near Hannah who started to cry quietly. She hurt her classmate and felt sad about it. Marinette narrowed her eyes towards Lila, she noticed Hannah was distressed, but soon half of the class was around the little girl and explained she did nothing wrong and she should just resume the exercise.
Alya was confused. Her and Chloe exchanged several nasty shots, but the heiress was probably too proud to complain about the difficult ones. Hannah was tiny but fierce, just like Alix was, therefore she could have produced a strong hit just as the noise had proven it. Lila was crying about her injury, but Hannah was crying because she was sorry. Alya concluded Hannah should have been more careful with Lila, after all, the whole class knew about Lila’s countless maladies.
Alix offered the ball to Hannah and asked her to throw it back. After a few attempts where Alix had no problems catching it, the girl finally let go and resumed to play and smile.
“So about your injuries before this class.” The teacher asked patiently.
“There were no injuries before the class, she hurt me.” Lila whined.
“Even if she did, it was part of the exercise.” The man spoke quietly and calmly.
Lila cried and whined until the teacher had to leave the bench and intervene because Kim and Ivan became too rough for anyone around them. Then he gave the pairs and the trio a different task, when he finished with explanations and a round trip through the gym to check on the execution, he turned back to the bench to continue his ordeal with Lila. But the bench was empty. Lila was gone.
The gym teacher was explaining the last exercise for the day when a warning bell announced there was an akuma on the school premisses. Everyone ran to the locker rooms. But Adrien knew better, he hid Plagg in his towel and quickly found a place to transform.
“I am the Dark Owl and I will protect my dear students from the bullies and awful exercises they have to suffer through because of their horrid teachers.” Dark Owl, in other circumstances known as principal Damocles, proclaimed.
Chat quickly hid. The last time the akuma was in the man’s computer, not on him. The students have already hidden so it would be the best if he just vaulted to the principal’s office and used cataclysm on his computer. If only Ladybug was there to cleanse the butterfly.
Then he noticed two girls who were hidden from the akuma, but he could easily see them. Hannah and Marinette were in their clothes for the gym, Hannah crawled expertly in the direction of the locker rooms while Marinette, apparently, had a different idea and wanted to go in the opposite direction, but Hannah somehow dragged the larger girl along.
Well, Ladybug was not yet there and he had two classmates to save.
“Hi Princess, hi Hannah.” He greeted as he tried to collect both girls.
“Hi Chat, why don’t you take Hannah to safety, I can hide here.” Marinette simply crouched next to the wall.
“Hi Chat, please save Marinette, I’m okay.” Hannah continued to crawl away.
Marinette was relieved because Hannah left her alone, now if only Chat went on his way too.
“Listen, I’m fine, why don’t you look for Ladybug?” Marinette proposed with a smirk.
“And where are you going to hide?” Chat Noir crossed his arms.
“That toilet, it is much closer than the locker room.” Marinette was already running towards the akuma, but she did enter the girls restroom.
Chat felt his pride hurt because he did not really help either of the civilian girls. He vaulted away, over the rooftop and into the principal’s office. He had time to make one circle around the desk before he noticed Ladybug approaching the window. He called on his power and destroyed the computer. Ladybug cleansed the butterfly while she was standing on the windowsill.
“Enchante My Lady.” Chat greeted with an exaggerated bow.
“Nice to see you too Chat.” She smiled. The next thing she did was to call on her miraculous ladybug magic.
He felt guilty for wishing that the fight took longer only to spend more time with her. She smiled her wide smile that lit up the room, but said nothing. Finally, he offered his fist and she bumped it.
“We are getting better at this.” Chat spoke in a tone as if he actually regretted that.
“Or Hawk Moth is getting desperate.” Ladybug replied.
“We almost lost the fight and revealed our identities the last time we fought Dark Owl.” Chat shrugged.
“Yes, but he akumatized the same person using the same object. We knew what we needed to do.” Ladybug replied. “We just got lucky.”
Chat grinned, she made a pun and did not even realize that.
“I still think that we make a purrety pawesome ...” And then he stopped because he wanted to say couple, but he knew he shouldn’t, he should use some other word, but for the life of him he could not think of any that he would actually want to use for the two of them.
“Friends.” Ladybug smiled gently.
“Furrends.” Chat replied with a smirk.
Ladybug rolled her eyes.
Chat’s ring sounded a warning.
They both remembered that they should detransform and change their clothes and had things to do and places to be.
“Well, bug out.” Ladybug reluctantly launched her yoyo and left through the window.
Chat followed her with goofy smile and gentle eyes. Then he decided to walk out from the office through the door. He found a janitor’s closet and detransformed.
Adrien discovered he loved tutoring Hannah, she was a grateful student who did her best to repeat the words and the phrases exactly like she was told. Her accent and pronunciation of the text she was reading was awful, but he helped her correct herself and saw progress even in their first hour.
On his way home, Adrien wondered if he could teach Hannah some puns after she got the basics.