"Thank you for the food, King Gabriel," Tikki bid, humming as she took another bite of the provided cookie, pressed tightly to Plagg. The two have become quite inseparable since their freedom. "These have to be one of the finest cookies I've had in a long time."
The king nods, pleased. "I'm glad they're to your liking, Lady Ladybug." He looked over to the purple fairy, asking, "And you, Lord Papillon? Lord Chat Noir?"
Plagg didn't answer, rolling his cheese around before him.
Nooroo stepped up, reassuring, "They're very good, thank you King Gabriel."
Gabriel nodded. "Of course. There's so much more I'd like to do though. For you, Lady Ladybug, for fixing everything, and Lord Papillon, I am sorry we did not notice your absence from the fountain. Your capture..."
Nooroo shook his head, wings fluttering behind him. "I have not reached out to the royal family in so long, I'm not offended in you not being aware of my capture." Nooroo offered the king a small smile. "Perhaps this is a sign to be a little more involved from now on."
"So long as someone doesn't take your name again," Plagg muttered, rolling his cheese away.
Nooroo chided, "That was the people, he didn't take my name intentionally."
Plagg harrumphed floating off, ignoring Tikki's gaze following him. Humming, she turned back to her cookie, nibbling away.
The royal family shifted slightly, their gaze lingering after Chat Noir. To Ladybug, the prince asked, "Adrien is really... no longer Chat Noir?"
"I pulled all of Chat Noir from him," Tikki reassured. "He's human, as magicless as before. Though, he is scarred from that experience. He'll have a physical scar from Chst Noir forcing his magic onto him, and some cat behaviors may remain. But he's not Chat Noir anymore, entirely human. He couldn't reach for magic even if he desired."
Felix nodded, relaxing in his chair.
"So that was really all Hawk Moth's doing," the king asked, reaching for his chalice. "Everything..."
Nooroo nodded. "It was. He wanted the rest of Chat Noir's power. It'd be easier to get with the whole kingdom looking for him..." The fairy slumps, looking away.
The king sighed. "Fear Chat Noir will longer and stay for a while, Lady Ladybug, I would advise that he stays hidden for a while."
"He will," Tikki reassured. "He'll have too. With Hawk Moth... he had to use Chat Noir a lot to do his bidding. Chat's magically exhausted."
The king nodded, then after a few moments of consideration, asked, "Do you fairies have any preferences on Hawk Moth's fate?"
"You were caged the longest," Tikki bid, turning to Nooroo.
"He's been stripped down to nothing and his life will be miserable till the end, a likely painful end with Chat Noir's fury," the fairy said, looking to Gabriel. "Turn him loose or keep him to kill or cage, I'm fine with leaving that to Franae's king to judge. You have been wronged like we have. We have passed our judgement, Franae can pass theirs."
"Very well," the king agreed.
"I do have a request," Tikki voiced, drawing the king's gaze to her. "About my Children."
Marinette missed drawing.
Laying down next to Adrien as he slept, she reclaimed her sketchbook and was drawing away again. For now it was a mindless doodle, a few dresses and vests and skirts. She sketched out dancing bodies, wrapped around each other in a fluid flow that her charcoal echoed, gliding over the page gracefully, hissing softly as it left a lovely stain. With a slight quirk of her lips, she added a touch of cat ears on one of the figures.
"We should dance again."
She jumps, looking over to see Adrien awake lazily staring at the page, his lips quirked up.
"Adrien!" she cried, dropping the charcoal piece and tackling him, earning a surprised grunt from him as he flopped on the bed.
"Marinette," he returned with a laugh, wrapping her hug. He nuzzled her neck, smiling at her soft hair tickling his face, he breathed her in, a slight purr coming out of him at being with her once more. "Marinette," he repeated, fond and content. Then tensed, eyes flying open in alarm. He sat up in a rush, nearly knocking her off, and proclaimed, "Hawk Moth!" Then he faltered, dizzy.
"It's alright," Marinette eased, letting him rest his head on her shoulder. She ran her hands through his hair, easing, "He's been taken care of, he's locked up, the king knows that he's been doing the killings. You're free, you're not in danger anymore." She drew him away, smiling in humored relief, "You're not Chat Noir anymore."
"What?" he uttered, blinking dumbly at her words. He looked to his hands, seeing a ringless hand. Instinctively he jerked back, heart pounding in alarm at his ring being gone.
"Adrien," Marinette consoled, reaching for him.
He drew away, insisting, "D-don't-"
She grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together.
Adrien stared, wide eyed at the touch, at not seeing anything happen.
She wasn't in pain.
Nothing was happening to her.
"You're not Chat Noir anymore," she repeated.
"I, I'm not..." Adrien trailed, then as if to prove the point, he touched other things with his free bare hand. Nothing shriveled away under his touch. Even if he willed to see the blanket crumble into dust, nothing happened. "I'm, I'm not Chat." He turned to Marinette, repeating with a slight laugh, "I'm not Chat!"
"You're not," she repeated, laughing with him, eyes gleaming.
Adrien laughed louder, unable to help himself but to reach and touch everything.
There was no fear of destroying anything.
He could touch just fine!
He soaked the feel of everything in.
He took in the softness of the blankets and clothes.
Felt the smoothness of the wooden bed frame.
He reached for Marientte, taking in the smoothness of her skin, the warmth of her touch, the little callouses on her fingertips. He traced the freckles on her arms, earning a giggle from her that made him smile. Looking up, meeting the gleam of her blue eyes, he shyly reached for her cheek, cupping it, rolling his thumb over the rim of her cheekbone. "Marientte," he whispered, watching her smile grow, feeling warm as her eyes shined with bliss and affection.
Her hand reached up, curling around his as she fondly echoed, "Adrien."
He chuckled, leaning forward and resting his head on her shoulder, enjoying the closeness. "I'm really going to have to get used to that name again," he murmured.
"Yeah, especially since I don't want you to keep using my name."
Adrien jerked up, whipping around to face the black fairy that sat a little ways from them, observing the two tiredly. "You're-"
"The true Chat Noir," the fairy confirmed.
Marinette added, "The long sought for Plagg."
"What do you want?" Adrien asked, tense.
"I'm here to pay my dues," Plagg said, looking away and tugging on his whiskers uncomfortably. "I sealed my power away in you, an unwilling host. Forced it on you and costed... I understand if you refuse my apology. I don't expect it to be accepted. But I still need to make amends for the suffering I caused you."
Adrien slowly answered, "I, I understand why you did it... I, I kinda remember..."
Plagg nodded. "Us fused together."
"You," Adrien continued, "you remember... every face he, everyone he... he pulled your magic to do it, he forced you to do it and..."
Plagg peered at him, making no comment.
Adrien grew quiet too, recalling pieces of memories. Marinette leaned on him, lacing their hands together, unsure of what to say. Plagg floated up, clearing his throat and drawing the humans' gazes to him. "Adrien Paon," Plagg voiced, "I give you compensation for the suffering I caused you. And the help you have provided, keeping my power away from Hawk Moth. To this day, you and your loved ones will never know misfortune. Your lives will be long, and mirth shall be your shadow."
Plagg turned to Marinette. "Marientte Dupain-Cheng, as thanks for helping my Ladybug and for supporting my host, you too shall never be touched by misfortune." To them both, added, "Any that cross you, will know bad luck."
He bowed, whiskers curling. "Thank you for bearing my power, and... I'm sorry."
Slowly, Adrien reached out, placing a finger on Plagg's head.
He was surprised to find soft, warm fur. He cupped the fairy, meeting his tired green eyes. Licking his lips, Adrien said, "Make sure it doesn't happen again."
With a small smile, Plagg nodded in agreement.
Adrien tugged at the cloak, finding it a little tight on his neck. Upon his head was the returned cowl Marinette had knitted for him, something he was eager to wear on his travels. Not that he needed to hide anymore. He wasn't Chat Noir. He was Adrien Paon. A simple boy now.
Who could have a simple life.
No more running and hiding.
The facts still left him giddy!
He wasn't Chat anymore!
No more risk!
No more hiding!
It was almost like a dream...
"You look ready."
Adrien looked up to see the prince approach, hands clasped behind his back. Adrien offered him an awkward smile and set his hands on his hips. "I am," he confirmed. He was ready to be back on the road, get away from the busy life of Paria.
Felix hummed, looking over the horses they were providing the two. The finest they could spare. They could carry them for nearly two days before tiring, and could run fast and far. They would serve them well, along with everything else they could give. Turning back to Adrien, he asked, "Will you be returning...?"
Adrien's answer came immediately. "No."
Felix nods. "Well, you're welcomed here in Castle Effiia, don't be a stranger Adrien. If you ever need help."
Adrien laughed, leaning on the horse. Don't be a stranger here. It was a funny thing to hear. With an estrange smile, he said, "Noted."
The prince shifted. "...Stay safe in your travels."
Adrien nodded. "Of course." Then he looked over his apparent half brother. His half brother ever since. The one he played with, the one whose hunted him, and now, an awkward, future king that was a little loss with this. Adrien almost chuckled aloud at this.
"...And, I'm sorry."
Adrien gave a start, surprised.
Felix peered out, grimacing. "For... an old friend, I flashed a sword before I asked you, before I checked. Got carried away with the fear of Chat Noir's power. I'm sorry, Adrien."
Adrien relaxed. "I'm glad it's over," he said.
The prince hummed in agreement.
For a moment, they stood quietly across each other, contemplative and awkward.
Both turned back to the castle when they heard voices. The king and Marinette slipped out, Papillon on the king's shoulder, with Ladybug and Chat Noir on Marinette's. By looks of it to Adrien, the two were exchanging pleasantries. They stopped and shook hands, offering smiles to each other. Marinette turned to them, her smile growing when she saw him and waved.
Adrien eagerly waved back.
The prince left his side to Marientte's, and the king approached him.
Adrien straightened as the king stopped before him, while Marinette turned to face the prince, her smile awkward and friendly.
"Adrien," the king greeted.
"Your Highness," Adrien returned, with a slight bow.
"I'm glad to see you're doing better."
"I am!" Adrien grinned. "I'm glad to be myself again."
Gabriel nodded. "Don't be afraid to contact us if you ever need anything."
The two stood stiffly for a moment, eyeing the other considerably. Breathing in, the king offered, "I am sorry, Adrien. I... I shouldn't have reacted so poorly... and she knew I would've, I'm sure she saw that and... I'm sorry."
Adrien nodded, glancing down to the ground. "She doesn't blame you," he murmured. "Never thought ill of you."
The king closed his eyes, taking a breath and holding it, then breathed out with a sigh. Opening his eyes, he offered his hand. "May your travels be safe, Adrien."
Adrien took it, shaking his hand firmly. "May your rule be peaceful."
Marinette drew near, adjusting her strap and sparing a glance at the horses, her lips pursed. Grinning despite sharing her leeriness, Adrien asked, "Ready?"
Turning to him, she nodded. She gave Gabriel a bow, bidding, "Your Highness."
He bows back. "Lady Marinette."
Turning, she claimed the horse's reins and guided the beast out, the fairies floating up to give the king a respectful bow. Gabriel returned it. Not interested to hear their pleasantries, Adrien gave the royal family one last wave before pursuing, tugging his horse along till he was right beside her. He stopped when he saw the withered rose's head sticking out of her bag.
Marinette spared him a curious glance.
"Your rose," he uttered.
She blinked, then glanced down at the flower.
Adrien grimaced. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "I didn't mean to ruin it, I... I didn't think I did and, you only get one rose and-"
"Adrien," she cuts in, grabbing his shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly. "I know you didn't ruin the rose." She looked away, cheeks pink and babbled out, "Ac-actually we ah, I mean, I meant to up this bring, I mean! Bring this up! To you! Er-earlier."
He blinked at her, confused.
She tugged her fresh pigtails, flustered. She asked, "Why do these roses wither? On their own?"
He raised a brow at her but relented and explained, "Well, on their own, they wither when the holder's soulmate touches it."
"And you told me you couldn't ruin something unless you wanted too, right?"
"And you didn't want to ruin the rose."
"Of course not!"
"So...?" Marinette beckoned, rolling her hand, trying to will Adrien's mind to work, to realize this.
He gives her an odd look, then does as she bid, considering these facts. His eyes grew wide at the realization. Marinette's smile grew at it. "Oh," Adrien uttered, turning to her, still wide eyed. "Ooooh." His face exploded red, his hand came up to swept through his hair, a baffled laugh bubbling out of him. "Oooh my god." He was such an idiot.
Marinette laughed, her cheeks pink.
He peeked over at her, grinning with his own flush.
Reaching out, he laced their fingers together, pulling her closer till they were shoulder to shoulder. "Marinette," he whispered, peering down at her, soaking her in, taking the realization that she was his other half. This whole time...
His smile turned cheeky as he said, "Thanks for falling for me."
Marinette scoffed and shoved him away, pursing her lips as he laughed.
"Aw come on Princess," he purred, drawing near and pressing at her side. "Don't pout."
"You really had to pull that out?" she lightly huffs.
"Well it is true..."
She scoffs and he grins. Reaching for her again, he reels her back to his side, keeping them in touch. She leaned into him, eyes fluttering as she peers back, smile shy and sure. He head dips low, her's lifts up. Noses brushed in a slight peck, before heads tilted and soft lips met in a slow kiss. Near the gates to Paria, they stood, soaking in the sensation of the other, the soft warmth of their lips that sent a pleasing tingle through them. Hot breath fanned over cheeks, fingers came up to brush over cheeks or glide along a neck, twirling bits of hair.
They drew away at a pleased giggle above.
Dazed and flustered, they turned to see the beaming Tikki wiggling above them. "You found each other!" she gushed, buzzing happily.
Plagg floated near, blinking down at them. "This is going to be your whole trip, isn't it?" the dark fairy grumbled.
The pair blushed while Tikki shushed him. "Love is a beautiful thing Plagg!" To them, she insisted, "Be happy with each other!"
Clearing her throat, Marientte asked, "You're going to head home?"
Tikki nodded. "It's time for me to return to my spring, and Plagg can do to rest for a few years."
"I'll be taking her home," Plagg added, "traveling through shadows is faster. And safer."
"And of course, we had to really say goodbye first, and gives thanks," Tikki said. Drawing near to Marinette, she bid, "Marinette Dupain-Cheng, I bless you." Setting a paw on her chest, she bowed to human. "You have done me the greatest service, helping me reunite with my Chat Noir. Fortune shall smile upon you." Zipping up, she pressed a kiss to Marinette's forehead, washing a tingling warmth over her. Withdrawing, she smiled at the two, beaming. "May you both live long and happily, and ready for the hard times, as rare as they'll be for you."
Marinette held up her hand, smiling at the fairy fondly as she sat in her palm.
She brought Tikki close, pressing a kiss to Tikki's head. "You have a safe trip home. I'll miss you."
Tikki seemed to glow at the affection, beaming as her eyes gleamed. "Keep a garden for ladybugs," the fairy bid. "We'll visit."
Adrien cleared his throat, bringing Tikki's gaze to him. "Um... Limbes?" he asked.
She floated up, offering, "Being Chat Noir no longer, it'll be... easier for you, but it will still be a bit of a burden." To both, she said, "I still advise remaining here in Franae for your lives together."
"How will I get through Limbes?" Marinette asked.
Tikki giggled, coming up beside the impatient Plagg. "You have all your things back, including a certain feather, and the blessing of Ladybug. Limbes will let you through." She gave them one last wave, calling, "Goodbye!"
Before the humans could reply, she embraced Plagg, letting him hug her back and dive down into their shadows where they disappeared.
"I'm going to miss her," Marinette murmured.
Adrien hummed, pressing a soothing kiss to her brow. Gently he dragged her along. "Let's get you home," he said.
"Home," she echoed, wishfully.
Home sounded nice.
With hands grasped securely together, they left Castle Effiia's shadow, their destination the future.
After a near week of unbothered travel, they were finally here. Finally back here.
Marinette couldn't help but stop, gazing at the wall she had crossed so long ago. It hadn't changed at all. Still so old and brittle, littered with dust, vines, and cracks.
Her last obstacle home…
Well, what was once home.
After this, she'd only be here for visits.
"This is the wall?" Adrien voiced aloud, coming up beside her, gazing at it curiously. "This, your home's on the other side?"
"Yes," she confirmed quietly, not tearing her gaze from it.
He spared her a glance. Reaching out, Adrien pulled her close, nuzzling her as a purr rumbled out, reassuring and affectionate. "They're going to be happy to see you," he promised.
"I know." She took a shaky breath, leaning on him, soaking in his warmth, the familiar tingle of his purr vibrating through her. Adrien kissed her brow. Marinette turned and pressed her face into the crook of his neck. "Let me know if you need to head back," she mumbled into his skin, ignoring his shiver. It's been something she's been nervous about since Tikki said that her world would be a burden to him.
A burden how exactly?
It was an answer she never fully got outside it being difficult for him.
It made her nervous.
It was to a point that she wished he had stayed back in the village Limbell, the first village had ever come across, so close to Limbes. She wished he stayed there, waited for her. She was determined to wrap this up in a day.
But heaven forbid Adrien allowing her to travel alone through Limbes, and Adrien being left alone.
He made it clear that he would follow her no matter what.
Not only for her secured safety, but also to the silent plea to not be left alone again.
She let him join, bur was still so nervous on what he'll face on the other side.
They didn't know what to expect.
As if sensing her nervous thoughts, he pulled away, giving her a chaste kiss on the brow, something he's been doing a lot this journey. All the time as Chat has left him touch starved and it was a bit of an addiction for him. He had to be in touch in some way.
"Ready?" he asked.
She nodded and went forward. Grabbing the vines and tugging them to test their strength, she started to scale up. Adrien shadowed her loyally, green eyes bright with excitement. They stopped when they reached the top, peering outward, squinting at the bright shine of morning.
Brightest Adrien's ever seen.
Trees stood guard on the other side, open and friendly compared to the woods that made up Limbes.
Through them, her sleepy home could be seen.
With his better vision, he could see her town in the near distance. "Looks a lot like the villages back in Franae," Adrien murmured.
"They are mirrors of each other," Marinette offered, "and it's France here." She slid down the wall, stumbling as she hit the ground.
"France," Adrien repeated, tasting the word. Shifting, he followed her, gliding down the wall as well. He stumbled when he fit the ground too, nearly toppling to the ground in surprise. Marinette quickly caught him and helped stable him, eyes wide in alarm.
"Adrien?" she asked.
"I'm ok," he reassured, wobbling up. "Just... caught of guard. I, I get what Tikki means."
"What do you mean...?"
He leaned on her, blinking at the strangeness around him. "It's... kind of like being in a heat wave. The air is so... heavy and still. No... no buzz of magic. No spark to it..." He squints. This would be a burden to live through.
"May you should head back over-"
"No!" Adrien straightened, wobbling a little. "I, I'm good! I can make it!"
She frowns at him.
"I can make it," he insisted.
"We'll head back home tonight. Come on, my... parents' home's close," she reasoned, "there's something I need to take care of, you can rest there."
Adrien frowned. "Alone?"
"I want to do it alone."
He frowned, but nodded, accepting her wish. Taking his hand, she guided him to her old home, thankfully near the woods. Unlocking it with a hidden key, she called, "Maman? Papa!"
Silence answered back while she and Adrien peered in.
Marinette frowned sadlyasshe took in the pink interior. She took slow steps inside, looking over it, reminiscing.
"They must be up at the Bourgeois manor," she sighed, running her hand along the wall.
She sharply turning back to Adrien when he stumbled into the frame. She grimaced while he gave her a sheepish smile. Sighing, she said, "My room's upstairs. How about you head up and rest? I'll be back in the hour."
He spared a glance up, then nodded. "Be sure to come back," he said.
"I will," she promised, pressing a kiss to his cheek, then slipped past him, her bag swinging as she went.
Time to free her parents.
Left alone, Adrien turned his curious over the house.
The home Marinette grew up in.
Unable to help the curiosity going through him, Adrien waddled around, leaning heavily on the wall as he went exploring, eager to see glimpses of her life before the wall.
It took a lot of pestering the butler to get her to see Chloe.
Evidently she was busy enjoying a breakfast when she arrived. Following behind the butler, she stood in the doorway, watching the blonde stab at her plate, her lips pursed, blue eyes curious and excited.
She remembered the deal.
She was eager to see this treasure Marinette brought her.
"Miss Dupain!" Chloe called, her voice far too sweet to be kind. "You're back! And alive! Why, we were starting to think you had been-"
"I'm well," Marinette cuts in, drawing near.
Chloe waved to a near seat. "Breakfast?" she offered. "Oatmeal? Bacon and eggs?"
"I'm good," Marinette waved off, taking the seat. She ignored how Chloe's lingered on the bag. Narrowing her eyes at the blonde, Marinette said, "I trust you haven't been working my parents too hard."
"Of course not," Chloe huffed, narrowing her eyes back at Marinette. "You picked up quite a rude attitude from your trip over the wall. I remember you being more... reasonable."
Having faced a monster, a dragon, the royal family, an enraged Chat Noir, and a power hungry witch; she finds Chloe was far less intimidating than before.
She was really intimidated with Chloe before?
It was hard to imagine now.
"I've gone through quite... an adventure."
Chloe's eyes gleamed. "What's over the wall?"the blonde asked.
A world you couldn't handle, Marinette thought, pulling her bag into her lap.
"The deal is that my parents are free of servitude if you have your treasure, right?" Marinette demanded.
"I'm a noble of my word."
Marinette stared at her.
Chloe glared back. "You dare question me?"
"I want to hear it Chloe."
The blonde rolls her eyes but waves off, "Fine. If your treasure pleases me, your parents are free from servitude. They can go back to that dusty little bakery. Never bother them again."
Satisfied, Marinette said confidently, "It'll please you."
Chloe's hummed, a ready smirk on her lips. A silent, we'll see hanging in the air.
Cracking open the bag, she pulled out an embellished little velvet box that Juleka had helped her make during their short visit to her and Rose, their future neighbors, having a home near the couple. Fancy and lovely enough to quickly catch the noblewoman's interest. Marinette set it on the table and slid it to the blonde.
Chloe snatched it up and opened it.
She blinked in surprise at the bracelet that lay waiting for.
"It's beautiful," Chloe breathed.
Marinette smiled, amused and pleased.
If only she knew how cheap that piece was. "I'm glad you like it," she said. "I had to go through a lot for it."
Chloe grinned, holding up the bracelet, watching the copper gold and blue gems shine in the morning light. "And it's unique. No one else will have such a piece from over the wall. My treasure."
"My parents," Marinette reminded.
Chloe slid the cheap piece on her wrist, admiring it as she waved her away. "In the kitchen."
Marinette stood and left Chloe to admiring her cheap bracelet.
The butler nodded to her and guided her to the kitchen. Just as they left the room, Chloe swung her arm about, trying to admire it in dkfferent angles. In her distracted, vain state, she hit her bowl of steaming porridge, smacking it into her lap, covering her nice spring gown in her hot breakfast.
Chloe's shrieks went unheard.
Following the butler loyally, the whole way, Marinette's heart pounded.
She was about to see them again.
She was about to see her parents again.
After nearly a month.
She, she was about to see them again.
It took all her will not to race past the butler, try to find the kitchen on her own, to find them.
She was so close...
The butler stopped and before he could indicate that this was the kitchen, Marinette sped past him into the room. There they were.
Her father as large as ever, bent over the stove, putting something in.
Her mother washing fruit.
Both looked tired and weary.
She took a shaky breath, clutching the door frame as she took them in. "M-Mama, Pap-Papa."
The two paused at the soft murmur.
They looked to the door, eyes wide as the dark haired girl at the door frame. "Ma-Marinette?" her papa whispered, shocked.
"Marinette," her mama echoed, awed.
"Mama, Papa," she echoed, wrapping her arms around herself, taking a few steps into kitchen, her smile watery as she took them in. "Hi," she greeted shakily. "I, I'm back."
Sabine practically threw the fruit away and charged, tsckling her daughter in a hug. "Mama!" Marientte gasped, clutching her arm, pressing back as hard as she could as Sabine buried her face in her daughter's silken.
"Marinette," Sabine echoed, voice thick, shoulders. Her hand came up, tugging at her hair, tugging it free of her ribbons, making the strands fall free over her shoulders. A rumbling, broken laugh filled the air, and a warm, familiar weight blanketed over them, gentle strong arms wrapping around them.
"My Marinette," Tom whispered, voice just as thick, body shaking. "My Marientte."
"I'm back," she repeated, "I'm back. Mama, Papa, I'm back."
They all stood still, huddled up in each other's arms, soaking each other in. They only looked up when the kitchen door was slammed open, an annoyed Alya hauling a basket of apples. "Got the finest for the princess-" Alya paused, blinking over at the group, her amber eyes locking onto the grinning dark haired girl in the Dupain-Chengs arms.
"M-Marientte?" Alya breathed.
"Hey Alya," she greeted warmly, voice thick, "I'm back"
She cried out, laughing in relief as she was tackled, bouncing off of Tom. He laughed with them, rewrapping both girls up, Sabine quickly following the hug. The kitchen was filled with laughter, cries, and broken murmurs of relief.
Adrien eyes snapped open when there was an explosion of sound below. He jerked up, the white cat pillow rolling away with his sudden move. He listened intently to the sound below, catching Marinette's voice among the chaos. Feeling a little more energized with his nap, he got up, wobbling a little, and crept down.
There were voices with her, voices he didn't know.
Voices full of mirth and laughter.
He stopped at the top of the stairs, blinking at a loud voice that bellowed. One Marientte was talking to her happily.
These, these had to be her parents below, with her.
He was about to meet her parents...
Adrien gulped, nervous.
Maybe he shouldn't-
"Come down! Everyone wants to meet you!"
Who was all down there?
"Your match is up there?"
"Come down son! I want to meet my future son in law!"
There was a pound of feet and there was Marinette, her smile watery and happy, eyes bright. When she hit a step in her rush and pitched forward, Adrien quickly caught her, hauling her up. "Woah there," he murmured, letting her on him.
"You look likie you're doing better," she noted, straightening.
"I am," he confirmed. Air was still heavy for him, but he could manage... mostly.
"They want to meet you," she said.
"I, I heard," he murmured, peeking down past her. He was nervous...
He met her gaze when she tugged his hand, her smile reassuring. "Come meet them," she implored. He looked away, his free hand rubbing the back of his neck. She added,"They're going to love you."
He closed his eyes, breathing in, then released, his body relaxing. He gave a nod and followed her down the steps, towards her family.
At the bottom was a small group, a large man, a small woman, and a girl with fire red hair. Their gaze were warm and curious. Marinette squeezed his hand, and Adrien gave a shy wave. Marinette introduced, "This is my match, Adrien Paon, he's the one that helped me over the wall."
"H-hi," Adeien greeted.
He tensed as the large man drew near, green eyes locked on him.
He jumped as he was wrapped up in a tight hug, the warm man voicing, "Thank you, thank you." He drew away, giving Adrien's shoulders a squeeze. With a big grin, he declared, "Welcome to the family Adrien!"
Welcome to the family...
He met Marinette's warm gaze.
He shared a watery smile with her.
He had a family now.
Everything was better now.
As the redhead rushed forward with eager questions, Adrien took Marinette's hand, leaning into her space grinning as her family dwindled near them, feeling accepted.
It was all better now.
It'll be better from now on.