Marinette sighed. Of all the things to find out, why was this the one thing she did find out? Her crush was in love with Ladybug. Of course he was. Half of Paris was, including her best friend! She sighed again and buried her head on her desk. It wasn’t heart shattering like she had imagined. It was actually quite flattering. But that was only because she herself was Ladybug. But how does one compete with yourself? She groaned and looked at her pictures. They had gotten closer over the past few months, but not as close as she had obviously hoped. She sighed and got up, looking at the dress hanging off her dress form. It was meant for her to try and gain Adrien’s attention, but now it just hung on the form, waiting to be finished. A soft thump on her balcony alerted her to the late hour and she got up, heading to her skylight. Chat Noir sat on the railing with a wide smile on his face. She tried to return it, but knew he wasn’t fooled. His smile fell.
“Why Princess, what’s wrong?”
She sighed for the millionth time and joined him at the railing.
“My crush is in love with Ladybug.”
He looked at her. She hadn’t been crying, but he could tell she was sad.
She groaned and looked at him, her cerulean eyes conveying annoyance.
“How can I compete with Ladybug?”
He stared at her, mouth slightly open in surprise.
“What do you mean? Marinette, you’re amazing!”
She scoffed at him, but he grabbed her arm.
“I’m serious! You’re the most amazing, talented, creative girl I know outside of Ladybug. You two aren’t that different. I’ve only gotten to know you for a few weeks, but I think you’re amazing.”
She stared at him, her eyes slightly wider and her mouth forming a small “o”.
“You…..you really think I’m amazing?”
He smiled and kissed her hand.
“Of course, Princess. You’re kind and considerate, your confidence could rival My Lady’s, and your creativity knows no end. I call that pretty amazing.”
She blinked before pulling her hand away and turning to the city once more.
“I’m not very confident in front of him. I stutter and I’m so clumsy it hurts. Physically sometimes.”
“Then maybe you should show him.”
“Show him your inner Ladybug! Make him see who you really are inside. He’ll have to fall in love with you then.”
She looked at him.
“Maybe…..maybe you’re right. Thanks Chat Noir.”
He winked at her.
The next day was cold, a perfect day for the outfit Marinette chose. She glanced in the mirror at her pale pink sweater, dark red skirt, long gray socks, and cute black boots. Instead of her normal pigtails, she had put her hair in a loose braid, a matching pink headband in her hair. She kept her earrings and purse, but added a simple silver heart necklace to finish the look. The day progressed steadily and she applauded herself for only stumbling once over her words when talking to Adrien. She didn’t know why, but thinking of him as her flirty, fun loving partner made it easier to talk to him. Alya even gave her a big hug during lunch, stating she was proud of her. By the time school let out, Marinette was on cloud nine.
Adrien was floored. The whole day, Marinette had acted….normal around him. She hadn’t stuttered, she had looked him in the eye, and he had even made her laugh! She had been so carefree and happy, even joking with him about something he could no longer remember. He had never seen her like this before. At least not with him. And everything clicked into place. Their conversation last night, her comments...she had a crush on him. He felt his heart stutter. What was he going to do? Maybe seeing her would help? He wasn’t sure, but he knew he had to talk to her as Chat to find out more. Unfortunately, he had the afternoon loaded with photo shoots and lessons. But he promised himself he would see her. And by the time night rolled around, he was eager to see her.
The first thing he noticed, was the light on in her room. The other was that she seemed to be waiting for him. The minute he touched down on her roof, her eyes met his and he saw the biggest smile on her face ever. After giving him a huge hug, she handed him a plate of treats.
“Chat you’re a genius!”
He watched her dance around the small roof and couldn’t help but smile.
“Of course I am, Purrincess. But what are we talking about?”
“About Adrien! He saw me as confident, playful Marinette!”
His heart jumped at the mention of his name and he smiled again, albeit forced.
“That’s great! I’m happy for you.”
She looked at him and cocked her head to the side.
“Is everything okay?”
“O-of course! Why wouldn’t it be?”
“You haven’t touched the treats….”
He looked down at the plate in his hands and flushed.
“Care to share?”
She took a cookie in her mouth and for a split second, he wished it were him against her lips. He mentally shook himself and opened his mouth.
“No just….personal stuff.”
She nodded in understanding and he was once again stunned by the wave of adoration he felt. They stayed together for a good hour or more, talking and enjoying the other’s company. Adrien felt his heart stutter a few times when his name came up; it seemed to roll off her tongue in a way that made his heart race. When it was time to go, he stood, joyed he’d get to see her tomorrow. He gave her a bow, kissing her hand softly.
“Till we meet again, Princess.”
And with a wink, he was off into the night, heart pounding at the mere thought of her.
It only took a week, but Adrien knew he was desperately, hopelessly, head over heels in love with Marinette Dupain-Cheng. He never stuttered, but he would suddenly need to catch his breath upon seeing her, his hands grew clammy, and he thought of her more than he would admit to anyone but himself. She consumed him and he didn’t care. They grew closer over the course of several days, him falling even deeper into this new love for her. His love for Ladybug couldn’t compare to this new love he found with Marinette.
Everything felt better around her, clearer and brighter. Even as he sat in his own room, he couldn’t keep her out of his mind. He sighed in what Plagg called “annoyingly lovesick.” And it was probably true; he just didn’t care. He was consumed by love and nothing had felt so good before. Whenever they were together, he wanted desperately to hold her and kiss her, knowing she would return his affections. But he wouldn’t do that without revealing his feelings to her. And the longer they stayed friends, the more determined he became to tell her.
That night, he noticed an almost sad aura around the girl, much like he had a week ago.
“Princess, what’s wrong? Things not going so well?”
She looked at him, seeming to silently study him before shaking her head at her own thoughts.
“I think I’m in love with two people, Chat…..and I don’t know who I love more.”
His heart sank from it’s buoyant mood and a vice gripped his chest. She was in love with someone else? He guessed he couldn’t blame her. He was still in love with Ladybug even though his love for Marinette was greater. But it still hurt him.
“So….what are you going to do?”
“Be honest...I think Adrien is really starting to care for me, but I don’t want to start something if I’m not fully in it, ya’ know?”
He nodded, feeling his heart beat faster again at her noble way of thinking.
“That’s brave of you.”
She shrugged and looked at him, her cheeks tinged pink.
“It’s what I would want.”
He stared at her, feeling some of the pressure on his heart release. They talked a little longer before Chat left, saying he needed to do something at home. That night, he had some trouble sleeping, going over everything that had happened during the past week. Who else could she be in love with?
When morning came, Adrien felt an aura of dread around him. Today Marinette would tell him she loved him. But she would also tell him she loved someone else, too. The scenes in his head left a bittersweet taste on his tongue throughout the day. When the school day ended, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder as people passed by.
“Can we talk?” Marinette asked quietly.
He did his best to smile and nod, waiting for everyone to leave the room. Their eyes locked and he saw Marinette visibly brace herself.
“Adrien...I love you and I want us to be...something more, but I’m also in love with someone else and I understand if you don’t want to start anything, or if you don’t even feel the same way.”
He took her hands and watched the spark of hope light in her eyes.
“Marinette, I love you. But….until you know who you really love, we can’t be together...”
She nodded, taking her hands from his and straightening herself.
He saw her eyes start to mist over and he hated how he made her feel. But this was the only way.
“Hey Marinette…..who’s the other guy?”
She froze, eyeing him as she made ready to leave. Then she said something that left him floored.
“It’s Chat Noir.”
That night was patrol. He knew he was distracted, but he didn’t think Ladybug would have caught on. Sometime after he missed a setup for a good pun, she stopped running, forcing him to stop.
“Is something wrong?”
“You tell me,” she said, concern lacing her voice as she faced him. “You’ve been quiet. What’s on your mind?”
He hesitated, but Ladybug sat down and pat the spot next to her. So he sat, wondering just how much he should say. Then he thought about it more and opened his mouth.
“I’m in love, LB. And she loves me. Both sides.”
Ladybug opened her mouth to speak, but he quickly explained.
“No no! I didn’t tell her. She doesn’t know. But….I’ve been seeing her a lot. And she told me she loves me, my civilian self. Then she said she was also in love with Chat Noir…..and now I want to tell her...I want to tell her everything…”
He froze, panic rising in his chest. She knew? How?! What gave him away?
“What...how….” He stuttered.
She smiled as the wheels began turning and he saw the most brilliant blush light her face.
“Of course it’s you. Only I would have this kind of luck. Turning you away only to fall in love with you. And you love me...”
She smiled and laughed, the sound echoing into his heart, jump starting it again.
“Wait wait wait! You love me?”
“Yes. I love you Adrien. Chat Noir. Both of you!”
She laughed again and he couldn’t help but smile at the sound.
“But, Ladybug, I’m in love with someone else..”
She looked at him.
“So you don’t love Ladybug anymore?”
He paused, unable to deny the feelings that still lingered in his heart. She smiled again and took his hand, giving it a soft squeeze.
“It’s okay. I’ll let you in on a secret. Spots off.”
He watched the brilliant red light cover her, leaving only to reveal the one who set his heart beating like he’d chased an akuma.
She smiled and nodded.
“Yes, it’s me.”
He smiled and laughed, standing and picking her up as he spun around. She laughed with him and he set her down again, his arms wrapped tightly around her.
“I can’t believe this! This is amazing!”
He stared at her, smiling.
“I love you, Marinette.”
Her eyes slid shut and she smiled, committing the words to heart. He couldn’t help but kiss her.
“I love you too Chaton. Thanks for the confidence.”