Unfortunately, the feeling of triumph didn’t last long.
“Marinette,” Chat breathed. He quickly turned back to her, gently taking her into his arms so that her head was in his lap. “Mari. . . .”
She blinked up at him affectionately, though Chat could easily see the pain she tried to hide behind her gaze. He felt moisture welling up in his eyes at the sight. Gosh, he hated seeing her hurt. There was a reason he always chose to take hits for her. Now, knowing he hadn’t been able to save her—despite the fact that he technically hadn’t been supposed to—pierced him like a knife to his heart.
“You can still heal me, you know,” she whispered. Amusement shadowed her face. “Quit acting like I’m gonna die.”
“I know,” Chat said, swallowing the lump in his throat.
“All. . . .” she took in a shuddering breath. “All you have to do is cry.”
“I don’t think that’s gonna be too hard,” he said. He could already feel tears beginning to roll down his cheeks.
“Dork,” she murmured fondly.
Chat leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. “Ah, but I’m your dork, princess.”
Marinette didn’t respond, but the flickering smile on her face indicated that she’d heard the comment. Her eyes slowly began to flutter shut.
Chat gently cupped one of her cheeks with a hand. He was trembling, soft sobs shaking his body. It was stupid—after all, he knew that Marinette was going to be fine—but he couldn’t help it. The fact that she was hurt, that she was dying, that he let her go through this. . . . it was almost unbearable.
By now, she was hardly breathing. A single tear slid down his face, landing on her cheek.
“I love you,” he said quietly.
Marinette’s skin slowly absorbed the moisture. Chat watched with watery eyes as the skin where the tear landed lit up in a light, golden glow. It burst into the shape of a sun before rapidly dying back down. He held his breath. Had it worked? Did the wound heal? Or did he do something wrong and it didn’t work and now Marinette wouldn’t be healed and he’d be alone once again—
A bright flicker caught his eye. He turned his head to see streaks and swirls of the golden light and illuminating from the wound, each strand gleaming brightly in the dark room so that the lights were no longer out. They rose up to the surface with renewed fervour as the streaks branched off and multiplied, creating more and more of the precious, magical glow. It was similar to that moment back in the cavern, where the gleam had spread all throughout Chat’s hair; only this was different. Now, the light wasn’t tangible. It wasn’t contained. It shone freely, expressing itself at its full capacity, allowing itself to be used and seen not by one. . . . but by many.
He felt an instant warmth fill the air. The light continued to shift all around them, blazing brighter and brighter and brighter, until suddenly it melded into the shape of a flower—the very same healing flower Rapunzel’s hair had contained. Chat watched in awe as the flower blossomed right in front of him. Its petals unfurled and reached out to the corners until it could no longer stretch, it radiated waves of the bright yellow glow, it stayed that way until slowly, carefully, the gleam receded back to the place from where it came from.
Chat’s hand ghosted over the side of her hip where the wound was supposed to be. There was no sign of it.
Her eyes started to flicker open. “Adrien,” she whispered.
Chat smiled at her. “Marinette.”
“You know,” she said, squinting up at him, “you don’t look too bad in brunette. I thought I had a thing for blond haired boys, but well, looks like that’s gonna change.”
He gasped, pretending to be offended, but the huge grin on his face said otherwise. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Marinette pushed herself up so that she was sitting beside him and grinned. “I wouldn’t be against dying your hair brown.”
Chat laughed and threw his arms around her. He buried his face against her shoulder while Marinette pulled him into a tight embrace, holding him close.
“I was so worried,” he mumbled against her.
“I was too,” she said, “but we got through it together, didn’t we?”
“That we did, princess.” Chat leaned away from her and smiled.
Marinette’s eyes skimmed over his face. “I thought we agreed that you’re the princess, not me.”
“You’ll always be a princess to me.”
“ Chat, ” she groaned, her face heating up with a blush.
“What?” he smirked. “It’s true.”
“I—whatever,” Marinette muttered. Her gaze traveled to his lips. “Oh, and Chat?”
Chat hummed. “Yeah?”
“I love you too.”
He barely had time to register what she said before Marinette grabbed the front of his dress and pressed her lips against his. He gasped in surprise, feeling himself melting into her touch. The kiss was gentle. Sweet. Although it was a fleeting touch, the passion behind it didn’t go unnoticed, and when all too soon she started leaning away, Chat instead pulled her closer.
“You’re my new dream,” he said, suddenly remembering the dialogue from the movie. “Or old, I guess, since you’re technically Ladybug, but you know, you’re Marinette, and you’re also—but anyways,” he added hastily, “the point is, I um—”
“And you’re mine,” she interrupted, pressing a finger to his lips. She smiled as pink dusted over his cheeks. “It may not be exactly the dream I envisioned, but you’re still you.”
“Well, for the record,” Chat said with a smirk, “I’m still Adrien. And I certainly wouldn’t mind getting married, having three kids, and that hamster named—”
“Oh shut up!” Marinette smacked his arm lightly. “I wasn’t thinking when I sang about that!”
“You still thought about it though,” he teased.
“You know what? Let’s get through dating each other without wanting to murder the other first, then we’ll talk about the rest.”
He grinned. “So we’re dating now?”
She blushed at the implication. “I—I mean, only if you want to! We don’t have to if you don’t want to, I only said that because—”
Marinette got her answer as Chat cut off her rambling with a kiss.
“I’d love that,” he murmured against her lips.
And this time? They very much savored the moment for as long as they could.
As much as the two of them had been willing to end the movie and go back to Paris at that very instant, there was still one more scene they had to play out—and it just so happened to be one that Chat was especially eager for.
“Are you ready for this?” Marinette asked as she and Chat waited on the balcony. They faced away from the palace doors, instead watching the calm waters surrounding the kingdom.
He fidgeted with his fingers anxiously. “Kind of? I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t seen her in such a long time, and now that I do get to see her, it’s in a Disney movie. Not in real life.”
Marinette took his hand in hers. “And you have a lot you want to say to her,” she finished.
Chat nodded. “Yeah. So much has happened since she disappeared, and I just. . . . feel the need to share it with her? Like, I know she left, but I don’t want to accept the fact that she’s actually gone .”
“Mhm,” she hummed, unsure of what to say to that. But Chat’s voice held no sadness or anger; instead, he simply seemed resigned. She squeezed his hand reassuringly.
“You know,” he said with a soft smile, “I’m sure if you ever got to meet her, she’d love you.”
Marinette smiled back at him. “I’m sure I’d love her too.”
At that moment, they heard the palace doors behind them creak open. The two of them instantly turned around, and Chat inhaled a sharp breath as he saw who was in front of them.
Emilie Agreste stood at the door, her green eyes widened in shock. She walked forward tentatively, as if she could hardly believe the sight in front of her. Unspoken emotion glistened in her gaze. Chat swallowed the lump in his throat. He could sort-of understand what she was going through right now. If his mother magically walked through the door all this time later, he was sure to believe it was a dream.
Chat slowly walked forward as well, closing the distance between them slowly. He could barely breathe. The look on his mother’s face—who wasn’t technically his mother, but still—was one of awe. Nostalgia. As if she was currently reminiscing over all the years she’d missed with him.
Seconds ticked by and Emilie gradually made her way down the stairs. For the first time, he saw his father—Gabriel Agreste—shadowed by the entrance of the palace doors. Chat peered closer. Wait. Was Gabriel. . . . smiling?
With every step that Emilie took closer, Chat’s heart raced faster. She was here, she was in front of him, she was coming towards him, she didn’t leave him, she’d never leave him in this story line, she was standing right here, right there where he could see her, and she cared —
She reached out and gently cupped Chat’s cheek. He felt a shudder run through his body at her touch, and Emilie smiled, tears shining in her eyes. He smiled too, blinking back the moisture welling up against his eyelids. But it was of no avail. His mother put her arms around him and he melted into her embrace, closing his eyes as soft sobs shook him. Emilie held him even tighter.
At some point, Gabriel had walked forward and was watching mother and son with tears in his eyes as well. Chat’s eyes flickered open to see him with a smile—yes, really, an actual, real, genuine smile. Gabriel laughed softly as his eyes met his, and he opened his arms and joined them in the embrace.
All three of them stumbled to the ground. Chat wanted to break down and sob ugly tears; he couldn’t recall the last time he’d felt happy, this loved within his family. As of now, they were happy, whole, and complete. They were the family that he’d always wanted. The family that he hoped he’d have someday himself.
Yet there was one person missing.
Marinette stood watching the three of them with a smile gracing her lips. Her heart warmed at the sight of Chat seeming so happy. Emilie opened her eyes and looked up at her, carefully leaning forward and holding out her hand. She took it, fully intending to shake her hand, but instead Emilie pulled her into their hug. Marinette gasped. She attempted to get out of the embrace, but it was no use. They held her there, and she really had no other choice than to return it with a grin.
Chat knew this wasn’t real. He knew his family would never be the same again. He knew this wasn’t going to last forever. But as the people around him blurred and he felt himself being transported back to Paris, he knew he could revel in the moment. Cherish the memory.
And hope that one day in the future, his new dream would become reality.