Miraculous: Les Aventures de Ladybug et Chat Noir
Pairings: Love Square
Summary: Marinette struggles with her burdens of being a hero and Adrien realizes how blind he’s been.
Despite her best friend being sick, Alya was very pleased with the situation. Judging from the sniffling lump curled up in the middle of the bed, Alya assumed that Marinette must have returned to the Agreste mansion after they’d left. Marinette had barely been in the room when they visited during lunch so the only logical explanation was that she had gone to see him again. It had been three days since then, but just as Adrien was well enough to return to school, Marinette ended up falling ill.
Somewhere within the past few months, she had noticed Marinette becoming more withdrawn from everyone. She was certain that Marinette still held affection for Adrien, but the girl ceased her pursuit of him. To tell the truth, she and Nino had been purposely ditching their best friends in hopes that the wall that suddenly appeared between the two would crumble.
“So what did you do?” Alya asked as she climbed onto the bed, sitting cross-legged next to Marinette. She peered at the girl, whose head was barely poking out from under her covers.
“Nothing.” Marinette mumbled. “I visited him again after school and we played games. That’s it.” Her voice was muffled by the blanket that Alya knew she was using to cover her flushed face. Clearly, something had happened, but she refused to talk about it. Alya hummed in amusement.
“Is this a ‘don’t kiss and tell’ situation?’” Alya asked nonchalantly. Her grin widened when Marinette’s head shot out.
“Alya!” She yelled, face covered in a deep crimson. Alya chuckled.
She wouldn’t have thought much about Marinette getting sick. After all, germs were so easily passed. But when she told Adrien earlier that day that Marinette was out sick, he had the most amusing reaction. He was worried, of course, but underneath the worry, she could see the way his face was tinged pink as his mind seemed to wander. Nino asked him if he was okay, thinking he was still sick and the blonde suddenly shouted out that ‘nothing happened.’
“You two are absolutely hilarious. You know, there’s nothing wrong with something happening, whatever that something is.” Alya ruffled Marinette’s hair before crawling back over to the stairs. “I’ll let you rest. But I want deets later.”
Marinette sighed and tugged her blanket back up over her face and thought back to the moment three days ago.
Tossing all reservations aside, Adrien had pulled her into his arms and kissed her. She remembered the feeling of her heart pounding in her chest and the excitement that coursed through every nerve in her body. When they separated, she still kept her eyes closed as she rested her forehead against his.
“Chaton.” She breathed. She had been sure of it. It just seemed to click when she spent the afternoon with him—from his messy towel-dried hair to his balled-up form as he rested on her lap. When she had fallen on him and watched his vivid green eyes and golden hair, she had to make sure of it. So she had kissed him. And it was exactly like the first kiss she’d shared with him.
“My Lady.” He had replied.
And just like that, their secrets were out in the open. It wasn’t anything grand. It was just what it was. She was Ladybug. Adrien was Chat Noir. After the whole event, if it could be called one, she stood and helped him up. They shared a shy smile towards one another before she remembered again, that she had to go home for dinner. Bidding him farewell and wishing him a get well soon, she made her way home.
Marinette decided not to visit again after that because he needed his rest and she knew that it would be too much of a distraction, for him and for her. She needed time to think, to evaluate her whole situation. She sighed and peered at the wall across from her before closing her eyes tiredly.
The past week had been a mess in the making. She knew she was toeing a dangerous line; from the small acts of physical affection to the visits to his house. She had resolved to keep everyone at a safe distance. As much as she yearned for closeness, for romance, she couldn’t allow herself that luxury. She had her responsibilities as Ladybug and eventually, she would take Master Fu’s place as guardian.
On the one hand, knowing that Adrien was Chat Noir filled her with a sense of relief because that meant he was capable of keeping himself safe. But on the other, she knew that knowing each other’s identities would have serious implications. They would know twice as much, worry twice as much.
A light knock came from above her, disrupting her thoughts. She knew exactly what it was or rather, who. Adrien had been texting her throughout the day to ask how she was doing. She cracked open an eye to peer out of her skylight to see a hint of black at the corner.
“It’s open. You can come in.” She said quietly, knowing that he’d be able to hear her. She noticed some hesitation on his part and smiled at his nervousness. She shifted on her bed until she was sitting up and out of the way of his landing. She noticed a flower petal fluttering down before she felt her bed sink and pink flooded her vision.
Marinette blinked at the sweet-smelling flowers in front of her before shifting her eyes up to meet Chat’s gaze. A deep blush covered his cheeks as he held the bouquet of flowers out towards her.
“Oh, Adrien…” She took the bouquet from his hands and closed her eyes, enjoying the scent of the freesias and sweet peas. “Thank you. I love them.” An audible sigh of relief passed through his lips and she giggled.
“How are you feeling?” Chat asked.
“Better now that you’re here.” She said, repeating the line that he said to her when she had visited him. It was nice to see that it invoked the same reaction out of him. “So is there a reason why you couldn’t use the front door?”
Chat’s blush grew even redder as he eyed the bouquet. There was no doubt in Marinette’s mind that he was too embarrassed to show up at her door with it. Her parents surely would have questioned him and considering that they hadn’t even talked to each other about their relationship, it was unlikely that he could answer anything.
“I didn’t want to run into Alya.” He murmured.
Ah, that too. Dear friend she may be, Alya was just too nosy. They wouldn’t hear the end of it if she spotted him.
“Are you feeling better?” Marinette asked.
“Still a bit of a sore throat but much better. I’m sorry for getting you sick.” Chat frowned. Whatever he had had made him absolutely miserable and the last thing he wanted was for Marinette to suffer the same. Her eyes looked tired and her skin pallid. She placed the flowers aside and took his hand into hers.
“It was as much my fault as yours.” She said as she stared down at his ring. Adrien had been wearing this ring for two years. Two years unnoticed by her. In retrospect, she felt foolish for not connecting the dots sooner.
“You’re… not mad?” He asked and she could hear the confusion in his voice. At first, she couldn’t understand why he would think that. He hadn’t done anything to earn her ire. But she realized that she hadn’t seen him since the incident at his house and he must have thought she was avoiding him.
“I’m not mad. I’m sorry if I made you worry. I had a lot to think about.” She said. A slight smile graced her lips but it didn’t quite meet her eyes. “I’m just…” She hesitated and he squeezed her hand worriedly. The concern that shone in his eyes made her falter and she let out a shaky breath.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen.” She said. The slight twitch of his hand at her words made her realize how callous she had sounded. She didn’t want him to think that her feelings were insincere because that was the furthest thing from the truth. “No, wait. That’s not what I meant. What happened that day— as much as I wanted to, I shouldn’t have— I just—” Her sentences were disjointed and Chat could clearly see the stress on her features.
“I just can’t.” She finally eked out with much effort. “I can’t let myself be distracted by this. I have responsibilities. I need to be on top of things. We’ve been at this for two years, but we’re still no closer to Papillon.” With the reality of their current stalemate spoken aloud, Marinette felt her chest tighten and her anxiety rise.
“Even if we did defeat Papillon, another enemy could easily arise. And Master Fu eventually wants me to take his place as guardian of the Miraculous. What if I live as long as he does? What if everyone dies before me and… and I—” Her throat felt constricted and she choked back a sob. One teardrop fell. And then another. She pulled her hands away from his and buried her face in them. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, letting her cry on his shoulder.
He felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. On a fundamental level, he knew that Ladybug had a much larger responsibility than he did, but he never knew just how much she had to bear. He was appalled by his ignorance. He had gleefully taken on the mantle of Chat Noir, seeing it as a way to obtain the freedom he sorely wanted. He never realized that being Ladybug had only shackled Marinette down.
“I’m sorry, Bug. I’m sorry. If only I had been a more reliable partner.” Maybe he could have taken some of the burden off of her shoulders. If anything, he felt that he had only added more to her plate and he felt so, so angry at himself for it.
He silently swore to himself that he’d work harder. He knew that he was a liability. The number of times he came under an akuma’s control was much more than either of them would have liked. And now that he knew who Ladybug was, she was going to be in danger because of him. But he couldn’t let his own panic rise. Marinette needed him to be calm. He needed to pretend that everything would be okay, despite his uncertainty.
He soothingly rubbed her back as she cried, hoping it would bring her some comfort. Aside from being frustrated with himself, he was frustrated with Master Fu. How could the man just dump everything on a single girl like that?
“You’re allowed to be selfish, Marinette.” Chat said and moved to stroking her hair. “I don’t know what Fu is telling you, but he can’t just expect you to put your life on the back-burner because some idiot lost the Butterfly Miraculous and got us into this mess. We’re teenagers for goodness sake. We’re meant to be screw-ups!”
Marinette let out a short laugh and pulled away, rubbing the tears from her face.
“Thank you, Chat. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to unload everything on you like that.” She sniffled.
“No. I want you to. Please.” He responded, much to her surprise. “I know I’m not the most observant and I’m oblivious to a lot of things. But I want to be there for you. So if anything is wrong, I’m right here. We’re partners, right?” He grinned and held his fist up. She stared at it before a smile stretched across her face.
“Partners.” She said as she bumped her fist against his.
“I should get going. I think class has started and you need to get your rest.”
Marinette nodded and Chat saluted her. But instead of leaving right away, he stared at her for a bit before leaning in and giving her a kiss on the cheek. Her blush was hidden by her already flushed face. He grinned at her before exiting the way he came.
After gathering herself physically and emotionally, Marinette fell back on her bed and sighed. Because of her mini-meltdown, they didn’t get a chance to talk about the state of their relationship. She wanted to be with him, that was a given. And from his actions, she concluded that the same could be said for him. But she questioned whether it was even a possibility. Exhausted from sickness and crying, she decided to save the topic for another time. She let her eyes close and she drifted off towards much needed sleep.
Unfortunately, superheroes didn’t get sick days.
It was only a few hours later when disaster struck. Marinette groaned as she pulled herself up, hair in disarray, with a pounding headache and an even sorer throat than before. She called for Tikki and the Kwami looked at her worriedly.
“Don’t worry Tikki. I’ll be careful.” She tried to smile but it came out as more of a grimace. Tikki would have loved to argue but she couldn’t. Ladybug was needed out there to cleanse the akuma.
When she came to a skidding halt next to Chat, he stared wide-eyed at her and his mouth opened and closed a few times, clearly wanting to say something. But he held his tongue. Even in her unwell state, she could see that he was fighting back the urge to scold her for being out of bed.
As she expected, him knowing that she was Marinette and that she was sick was already becoming a distraction for him. She could tell that he was trying his best to ignore it, giving her space to work and not hovering over her in worry. But she found his eyes trailing to her more often than usual, concern etched deep in his eyes.
It was fortunate for them that the akuma wasn’t difficult to deal with. After defeating it and reversing any damage the city took, Ladybug raised a hand and wiped her brow tiredly. Her head was still aching and she swayed slightly from dizziness.
Droplets of water began to descend from the sky and she looked up and sighed in exhaustion. She took a step forward but her legs trembled unsteadily. Chat Noir immediately went to her side and helped her steady herself. She glanced up at him thankfully.
“Come on, Bug. Let’s get you home.” Chat took her into his arms and began jumping off towards her home. She held onto him, finding immediate comfort within his embrace. It didn’t even matter that the rain was steadily soaking them.
“Chat?” She mumbled, just barely loud enough to be heard over the wind and rain.
“You were distracted.” There wasn’t any hint of accusation in her tone. She said it as if it was simply an observation. Quite frankly, she couldn’t really muster the energy to evaluate their battle.
“Was I?” He questioned. He held her shivering body closer and tried his best to shield her from the elements. As much as he appreciated earlier that the akuma attacked far from her home, he was now irritated by the distance and time it took to get her back. He heard her earrings sound, signaling that she was down to her last minute.
“You were. Knowing that I was sick was a distraction.”
Chat hummed as he pondered over her words.
“I don’t see it that way.” He stated after some deliberation. “Yes, I was conscious of you being sick. But I think that knowing was a benefit to the both of us. If we know each other’s current capabilities, we can plan and adjust for it.
She had never looked at it that way before. After running his words through mind a few times, she had to admit that it would be useful to know the other’s situation. The extra knowledge of her partner’s identity would allow for more planning, even outside of the suit. No more guessing where the other was, why they were late, or why they didn’t show up. She wasn’t sure if she was seeing a moment of clarity or whether it was delusional thinking thanks to her fever.
Her earrings sounded for the final time and her transformation was undone. Tikki landed on her chest with a quiet groan before crawling into Marinette’s cardigan to keep warm. Chat quietly cursed and assured her that they were almost there.
When they reached her balcony, he gently placed her down. Before he could usher her to the hatch to her bedroom, she turned and looked at him. She raised a hand to his cheek and ran her thumb along the edge of his mask. He placed his hand over hers and let his transformation fade. She continued to gaze at him, taking in the tenderness of his eyes and the devotion that showed clearly in his expression.
She lowered her hand and stepped towards him and he instinctively wrapped his arms around her. She placed her ear against his chest and listened to his heartbeat. The rain that continued to fall on them was merely an afterthought to her.
“Is it really okay for me to be selfish?” She asked.
“I’ll fight the whole world if I have to, to give you your freedom.” He replied. There was no trace of humor in his tone. “You do so much. You give everything you have to keep everyone safe. You deserve to be happy.”
She knew it was wrong. His lack of affirmation to her question told her that he also knew it was wrong. It was obvious that if it ever came down to it, the safety of the world was more important than the life of one girl. But nonetheless, she wanted to believe in his words.
She shivered when she pulled away from the warmth of his embrace. Placing her hands on his chest, she looked up at him, “I don’t want to be alone.” She murmured.
“You won’t be.” He brushed her wet hair from her face, fingers tilting her face slightly as he leaned down. She rose onto her tippy toes and her eyes fluttered closed before meeting him for a kiss.
“We’re making a mistake.” She whispered against his lips. Despite her words, she couldn’t bring herself to part from him. It wasn’t likely that he would let her go even if she tried.
“At least we’re making it together.”