Ladybug sits on her usual ledge on the Eiffel Tower, above the highest spot a tourist can reach. A crowd gathers at the base, wondering what Paris’ heroine is doing up there, why she’s just sitting there, in the middle of the day, on a weekday nonetheless. A red-haired journalist with glasses excitedly livestreams the occasion for her blog. Is there an akuma? Does she have an announcement?
The spotted heroine finally moves, tossing her yoyo up in the air. “Lucky Charm.” A red and black spotted megaphone falls into her hands. She instantly knows what to do with it.
“Citizens of Paris. This is Ladybug. I am giving you one last message.” People’s phones are out, filming, some streaming it live to their blogs and the internet.
“My name is Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I am the heroine that has been protecting your city for the last three years, alongside my partner Chat Noir. I am sixteen years old. I live above the Tom & Sabine Boulangerie Patisserie, with my loving parents. I once dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, of maybe getting an internship at Gabriel and one day starting my own company, my own line. I had friends. I had a crush, even. I had family who loved me. I had a partner that I could trust to always be by my side, and have my back.”
“And then one day, two years ago, a new girl walked into class, spouting extravagant tales left and right.”
You are either with me, or against me.
I will take away all your friends, ruin your dreams, destroy your life.
Ladybug and me, we’re like this~
“She told me, straight to my face, that she was best friends with Ladybug, that she knew who the girl was under the mask. I never liked liars. I already felt horrible about making excuses for my constant disappearances during akuma attacks, excuses that just kept on getting worse.”
“I asked her to stop lying. Maybe we could have talked it out. I’ll never know. Instead, she cornered me in the bathroom. Threatened to take away all my friends. Told me that I better not call out her lies, or she’d ruin my life.”
We’ll see about that Lila, we’ll see.
Marinette! How could you do this to Lila? Did you seriously send her those texts?
“I told her that would never happen. I had faith in my friends. I used to bend over backwards to help them. When they needed a babysitter, I dropped everything to do it for free, even though I was always promised payment. If they wanted a new dress, or a suit for an event, I designed and sewed them without complaint. They wanted to throw a party? Celebrate the end of the school year? The class’ end of the year field trip? Birthdays? Picnics? I was expected to bring free pastries for everybody. I made banners, sewed clothes, put up with children, baked tirelessly- and I never got paid a single penny.”
What do you mean you won’t make us dresses for the dance? You always make us clothing when we ask!
If you want a dress, you can commission one from my website. There’s a three month waiting time, and payment will be expected.
That’s so stupid! You always designed our clothes for free, and the dance is next week!
Maybe you should have thought ahead. I made free clothing for my friends. I think you guys made it plenty clear that we aren’t friends.
“I realized that I was a tool to them. Useful, always there to help, but as soon as something newer, shinier, came along, they ditched me. They all called me their friend, but they never really acted like it. Three days ago, I was approached by the group I used to call friends. They insisted I make them formal wear for the school dance in a week. I had commissions lined up for three months, and already not enough time to complete them between my bakery shifts, school, and being Ladybug.”
“They demanded I make six dresses in a week. That’s outrageous, even if I didn’t already have other commissions. I would have to miss at least two days of school to complete them in time, and when I requested that they add their names to my commissions list and told them that I expected payment for my work, they got angry. Told me that I always made them for free, that I was their friend.”
I can’t be friends with you anymore, Marinette. Not if you keep on bullying Lila.
Why would you push Lila down the stairs? Look at her, she’s hurt! (Nevermind that she didn’t have any visible bruises, only Marinette did, because she was the one pushed down the stairs instead.)
We’re sorry, Marinette. We won’t hang out with you if you keep on threatening Lila. It’s not fair to her if you come, because that’s dangerous to her mental health.
“Well, a couple of months before, they expressly stated that I wasn’t their friend anymore, and I told them as such. They were then escorted from my home, as I had no wish to see them again.”
You are either with me, or against me.
Or against me.
“When this girl arrived, I was pushed to the back against my will, because of a ‘hearing issue’ that she never showed paperwork for, as is customary at my school. I was threatened, bullied, and assaulted. Once, I was even expelled for supposedly stealing the answer key for a mock exam that disappeared after I turned in my test, stealing the girl's necklace, and pushing her down the stairs.”
Marinette stole my grandmother’s necklace!
I’ve received an anonymous tip that you stole the mock exam answer key.
Marinette pushed me down the stairs!
Marinette Dupain-Cheng, you are hereby expelled from this school!
“For some reason, the expulsion was withdrawn, and I was allowed back in. But it wasn’t because the staff at College Francoise Dupont checked the security cameras, which are positioned so the stairs, the locker room, and every single classroom are covered. It was because this girl made up a ‘lying disease’ that makes her say things she doesn’t mean. It doesn’t explain why the answer key was in my backpack. It doesn’t explain why she walked down the stairs, sat down, and started crying. It also doesn’t explain why the necklace was positioned so that when my locker, which doesn’t have a lock, was opened, it’d fall to the ground at my feet.”
It doesn’t matter if we both know, right? She’s not hurting anyone.
“Before this girl, I had friends once. Marinette had friends. She wasn’t a bully, she wasn’t perceived as cruel. She was just an awkward, klutzy girl who had a massive crush, and wanted to be a fashion designer. Said crush also knew she was lying. Parisians, do you want to know what he told me? He told me to ‘take the high road.’ He told me to stop trying to expose her, that we needed to set a better example so that this girl could be a better person. He told me that we were in this together, that her lies weren’t hurting anyone.”
Her lies are hurting me, Adrien, don’t you see?
But Marinette, she could get akumatized if you expose her!
And I won’t get akumatized because she’s destroying my life? You say you’re on my side, but all I see is you defending her when she’s targeting me and systematically ruining my friendships, one by one! Pick a side!
Marinette, I told you, I’m on your side-
No. No, you’re not. If you were on my side, you wouldn’t be telling me to set an example for Lila. You wouldn’t be using ‘she could be akumatized’ as an excuse. You never really were on my side, were you? I can’t believe I ever loved you.
“Her lies were hurting me. Every single day. I was framed for so much I didn’t do, and he continued to insist that I refrain from exposing her because she might be akumatized. What about me? I could be akumatized too. Just because I’m Ladybug doesn’t mean I’m immune, and just because I’m usually strong doesn’t mean I should have to be strong. I have fought off no less than twelve akumas since she came into our school. All caused by her.”
As she spoke, a dark butterfly made its way over to the spotted hero. Ladybug sighed, pulled out her yoyo, and purified it before continuing.
“I know my class is watching this right now, or if you aren’t, you will see this very soon. You all worship Ladybug, you put her on a pedestal, but you ostracize Marinette and only approach her when you need her to do something for free. I used to have a best friend. She was probably the largest fan of mine, maybe after Chat Noir. I can see you, you know. Probably live streaming this for the world to see. What do you think now? You ditched Ladybug for a liar. All of you did. Would you have done it if you knew who I was?”
Wh-what did you guys do?
You needed to be taught a lesson, bitch. This is how Lila feels when you bully her.
B-But that was my life’s work! All my commissions, all my designs were in that sketchbook!
Enjoy the free confetti, Marinette. That's what you get for stealing Lila's designs.
“Would you have ripped up Marinette Dupain-Cheng’s sketchbook, her life’s work, her most precious object only after her miraculous, if you knew who she was?” Ladybug screamed, tears pouring down her face.
“No, you wouldn’t. So why is Marinette different? Why are her feelings expendable? I tried to tell you she was lying, so many times, but you always interrupted me before I could finish showing my proof and then you told me I had no evidence. My once-best friend is a journalist. Don’t journalists always check their sources? You had the gall to ask me for proof, and yet, where was yours? The only thing you get on the internet when you search her name is the massive number of interviews on the Ladyblog. How’s that for proof, Alya? ” She spits.
“I would never hurt a fly. Even during akuma attacks, I don’t intentionally hurt the victim, just subdue them so I can break the akumatized object. What makes you think I would threaten someone, push them down the stairs, beat them up in alleyways and such, when you all know that Marinette was bullied for years in l’ecole maternelle and early college, and never laid a finger on her bully?”
“What makes you think that taking the high road in a situation with a pathological liar is going to help her change, when she doesn’t want to change? Adrien Agreste, I loved you once. Once upon a time, I fell in love with your kindness, your willingness to be a peacemaker in dire situations, your ability to resolve conflict.”
“Now I know that it wasn’t that you were good at resolving conflict, it was that you were good at pushing it to the side and ignoring it, if it didn’t harm you. You and Madame Bustier are both enablers for bullies. When I gave you a birthday present, and someone vandalized it, you thanked them for the wonderful gift, Madame Bustier, and then proceeded to take me out into the hallway to ask me to set a good example for her, so she could be better. Nevermind that my gift had been ruined, because my feelings don’t matter, right? Marinette, Ladybug’s feelings don’t matter.”
“Well, Lila Rossi, you won. You took away my friends, though I guess they weren’t really my friends in the first place. You got Adrien to yourself. Congratulations. And you get to witness Ladybug’s demise while you’re at it. I hope you’re happy now, with the web of lies you built.”
“And as for you, Adrien, you can witness what your passiveness brought you. She wasn’t hurting anyone. You’re right. She wasn’t hurting anyone, because in your eyes, I am no one. Would you even care if I stepped off this ledge? Probably not.”
“For my class, who I have made countless items of clothing for, who I have given free pastries, a discount at the bakery, cards and banners and never ending support, do you see now? Am I still a bully in your eyes, and doing this for attention? Maybe this is for attention. I want the whole world to know what Lila has done. I want the whole world to see the spineless coward, the enabler posing as a teacher. I want the whole world to see the people that claimed they were friends with the baker’s daughter, who gave her all to help them for free, but when she really needed their support, they turned away.”
“Chat Noir. I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore. Ever since Oblivio, you’ve been pushier than ever. Why can’t you understand that I don’t love you? Why can’t you understand that incessant flirting isn’t going to make me love you romantically, and that I already loved someone else? Even if Adrien Agreste wasn’t in the picture, I still wouldn’t love you. A true gentleman wouldn’t force himself on the one he proclaims his Lady. No means no, Chat. I hope you learn that.”
Chat, you know I can’t accept your feelings.
I know, but I was hoping-
Hoping what? That this time it’d be different? That you being distracted during fights because you’re trying to flirt or think of a good pun is going to make me fall for you when I’ve told you, every single time, that THERE IS SOMEONE ELSE?
You told me yourself that he doesn’t notice you! So why won’t you give me a chance?
Well, just because he doesn’t like me doesn’t mean I am obliged to accept your feelings.
Can’t you accept that he doesn’t love you?
The same way you’ve accepted that I don’t love you? As I have explicitly told you many, many times?
“For Luka and Kagami- thank you for actually supporting me and being my friends. I know you’re in Japan right now, Kagami, so you won’t be seeing this for a while. Thank you for everything you’ve done to support me. Thank you Luka, for your music and for your never-ending love. I’m sorry I couldn’t return it. Thank you Kagami for your unyielding strength and your patience.”
Luka-can we just sit here like this for a bit? Please?
Anything for you, Ma-Ma-Marinette.
Kagami, you can’t stab Lila with your sword. That’s illegal.
She has dishonored my friend, and by extension, me. My mother would bail me out of jail if it was for a noble cause.
“Mom and Dad, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for dropping this news on you now, when I’ve been Ladybug for three years. I’m sorry for making you worry with my flimsy excuses every time I disappeared or missed class. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to bear the fate of a city on my shoulders. I’m just a normal girl, and I never asked for the burden of being a superhero. It was by chance. All I did was save an old man from an incoming car right outside the bakery on the first day of school. Thank you for your love and support throughout the years. I love you both, and I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.”
“Citizens of Paris. My name is Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I am Ladybug. My personas are two halves of a whole, one and the same, and yet most of you only accepted part of me.”
“As of tomorrow, there won’t be any part of me left for you to accept or reject. I thank you for the time you took out of your day to listen to this.”
Ladybug removes her earrings, one by one, revealing Marinette underneath. A small red kwami flies out as the lucky charmed-megaphone disappears.
“Shh, Tikki, it’s okay.” Marinette says softly to her kwami. “I want you to take these to Kagami, when she comes back. Until then, stay with Master Fu. He approves of my choice.”
“But you’re my chosen! I can’t give these to Kagami if you’re still here!” Tikki protests.
“I won’t be here much longer.” Marinette smiles sadly at Tikki. “Goodbye, Tikki.”
The horrorstruck citizens of Paris watch as Marinette Dupain-Cheng, the heroine known as Ladybug, stepped off the ledge of the Eiffel Tower and plummeted.