A sunny afternoon. No school. Marinette lay outstretched on her bedroom floor, contemplating the shape of the ceiling with a lazy smile. Her shirt had ridden up and exposed her appendectomy scar. Chat traced a clawed finger around it. Marinette's toes curled, caught between wanting to wiggle away—she was dreadfully ticklish—and stretch a little more to get a rise out of him.
"If I were to marry you," she said, not sure and not caring how they got on the topic, "my name would be Marinette Noir."
Chat hummed. "You'd have to become a detective with a name like that."
"Ladybug: Private Eye." Her eyes sparkled with excitement.
"Or a femme fatale."
"Only if I get to borrow Plagg."
Chat's finger stopped moving. He turned away from her. "I hate to say it, my Lady, but you do know the fastest routes to lead my mind to the gutter."
"Get down here, then," Marinette said with a pout.
Chat looked at her over his shoulder. She lifted her arms and folded her fingers in a "come to mama" gesture. He laughed, but stayed right where he was. He drew one leg up to rest his arm on his knee. "What about Marinette Agreste?"
Marinette huffed. "Are you ever going to let that crush thing go?"
A pause. Chat tilted his head up towards the window. "I kind of like Adrien Dupain-Cheng better," he confessed.
Silence settled between them. He could hear his own heart beating, hard and fast in his chest, enough to make him sick. He heard the exact moment realization dawned on Marinette: the hitch in her throat, the spike in her pulse followed by quickened breaths, then the scrape of fabric on floor as she sat up slowly.
Fingertips touched his shoulder and he flinched. "Kitty cat?" Her voice, nothing more than a whisper.
"No," he said, "I'm not ever going to let that crush thing go." She inched closer to him. "It makes me way too happy."
Her arms wrapped around his torso, fingers curling against his chest as she pressed herself into his back. He was shaking. "You dumb cat," she sobbed. "My big, dumb scaredy cat…"
Ten minutes passed before she released him, then it was his turn to embrace her, feverish with joy as she breathed his name, stroked his hair, ran her hands over every available inch of him. There was no anger in her expression, only bliss and disbelief. She cupped her face in his hands and let out a tearful laugh. "Of course," was all she said before he kissed her, for the first time, without guilt or restraint. "Of course," she whispered in the space between kisses, her arms twining around his neck.
"I love you," he said.
"My silly cat…"
"I've always loved you."
Then they collapsed into helpless laughter, because they realized it was true for both of them.