Adrien could remember a night like this. The rain tearing at the windows, lightning cracking the sky. All that was missing from the image was the face of Chloe Bourgeois.

There was no turning back now. The memory was resurfacing. He did his best to push it down, to no avail.


Chloe stared at her hands, which rested peacefully on her lap. Like Adrien, she was clad in black. While she was sitting rather peacefully, Adrien was all in pieces. But he couldn't cry. He had forgotten what emotion was forty days ago.

The mayor's daughter coughed to break the silence. Her face was streaked with tears. "She isn't dead, you know."

Adrien's expression hardened. He had expected maybe a Condolences or even an I'm sorry about your mom but Chloe didn't bother. He looked at her. There were no wounds. He was hurting. The crack in his voice made his pain evident. "No, she has to be."

"She isn't dead," Chloe said in a soft voice so unlike her, but the firmness and authority in her tone ensured Adrien that it was still Chloe that he was talking to.

"If she was still alive-" Adrien's voice broke as a sob escaped his lips, "Then that would mean my mother left." He squeezed his hand until his nails left grooves on his palm. "My mother wouldn't leave me. She loves me."

"I know, Adrien," Chloe murmured, "Of course, she loves you." She too was close to sobbing. Chloe hardly ever sobbed, unless she was asking for something from someone, but that was hardly ever anything but acting.

"Then she wouldn't leave me," he shook his head. His blond hair fell across his eyes and stuck to his tears. "If she loved me, she wouldn't leave me. She loves me. Of course she does. She has to be dead."

Chloe clenched her jaw. "She isn't."

"How can you be so sure?"

"There's no body in the coffin, or they wouldn't give her a closed casket," she pointed out, "Your father hasn't cried at all. He knows something!" Her exclamation rung in every corner of the empty room. The atmosphere cooled to a freeze.

"No," Adrien denied. He denied over and over again. "My mother loved me. If she loved me, she would never leave me."

Chloe shook her head. She contemplated cracking a joke, something about having more in common than blond hair and busy fathers. Now, they both knew that mothers never stayed. Fathers believed that money could keep children happy. In tribute to her mother, Chloe learned to be happy with what her father could provide. She'd been young when her father became mayor, and it had been her life ever since, though she had always yearned the life of the common-folk. When her mother left, Andre Bourgeois did his best to try and convince his daughter that perhaps she was dead.

Chloe looked at her oldest friend with flaming blue eyes. The blue sear was no longer there, now drenched in tears for Adrien Agreste. She closed her eyes, letting a tear fall down her cheeks and onto her palm. Chloe had been playing her game for so long that it had become her. She loved Adrien for still seeing the young girl when they had first met. The small blonde who clutched her mother's hand, who was silent enough that another softspoken child had to near and befriend her.

Adrien spoke softly, as he always did. "If she loved me, then why did she leave? My mother wouldn't. If people love you, they don't just leave."

"That's what I thought too, Adrien," she whispered. She did not hold him tight and fawn over him, acting on the small crush that fluttered in her chest. She did not smile, or laugh snootily as she always did in front of other people. Her loud voice was replaced with something much kinder, a tone her mother had used when she heard the crackling leaves by her window. "But I know for sure that your mother is alive, Adrien. I don't know how, but I'm sure of it."

"No, you aren't," he snapped. "She has to be dead. I-I don't want to think anything else."

Chloe stood and wiped the tears from her face. "Adrien, I'm sorry about your mom."

She left and Adrien only saw of her again in public events. Every other time, she was never that girl to him.


:::


The storm crackled in the sky, and the loud pitter-patter of the raindrops was the loudest sound that could be heard. A female figure was stalking around in Gabriel Agreste's office. Adrien hadn't noticed her yet, of course. The only reason he ever bothered to come out of his room at this hour was to get some Camembert for Plagg, who sang with the sky in howls of hunger. The house staff was actually begin to worry about his cheese obsession. Explaining the truth was less pleasant than that alternative.

"Plagg," Adrien muttered, "Why does he keep howling when it rains? I'd prefer the sky to him." The hall was silent as the floor was cold, which Adrien now knew firsthand since he was stupid enough to walk out of his room without his polka-dotted red slippers that he decided against wearing... for reasons. His head snapped as a soft, though rather creepy noise, emanated from the direction of the west wing.

The sound of the creaking portrait caught Adrien's attention, as it had rivaled the noise of the sky's crying. Then again, so did the black-on-red and the same voice he heard between every akuma attack. His heart hammered in his chest as thunder roared in his ears.

"Oh, Tikki," she said with the thought that it was late enough and dark enough to be unnoticed. "I hope you're right about this."

Adrien couldn't contain himself. Ladybug was at his house? He swung the huge door so slightly, as a pane of light entered the dark room and signaled his entrance for the heroine.

"Adrien?" she said softly. The boy close to swooned if it hadn't been for the raw emotion in her voice.

"Ladybug," he began, "What are you doing here? Where's Chat?"

"I'm-" she hesitated, "I'm here to set something right. Chat wouldn't approve though, so I didn't bother to tell him. He can't know about this."

Well, now he does, Ladybug.

"What is it?" Adrien looked at her. "He can help! What can't you tell him?"

"What only matters is what I can tell him," she answered vaguely, "Can you pass a message?" Adrien's eyes had adjusted in the dim lighting. Ladybug's hands were quivering, clutching some unknown object. She was on the verge of crying.

"Sure." Emotions were gone. Voices were empty.

"Tell Chat," she shook her head, her pigtail swaying so slightly with the movement. "Tell Chat that I'm sorry I didn't tell him. And-" her voice was trailing, "I'm sorry for everything else."

Adrien nodded. His nerves itched for action. It was impulsive, stupid.

He did the thing anyway.

"Ladybug," he called, "I forgive you, but you have to let me help."

Shock lined the holes in her mask. Realization spread through only later.

"Ch-Chat?"

"Yes, my lady," he held her hand, but did not do anything else with it, "You're never like this. You're usually so confident about your plans. Whatever you plan to do, don't. You don't have to do this."

Ladybug retracted her hand almost immediately, hoping that the flush that spread on her cheeks was not so obvious under the cover of darkness.

"You don't get it, do you?" Her pink lips were curled into something not different to a pout. "Now that you-you're Adrien, I have to do it more than ever! I don't care about what you think, what you want. This is about what you need- Adrien needs. Chat Noir is supposed to help, support, but if you're going to be just selfish like I expected you to be, then that's exactly why I didn't tell you."

"What, are you planning on a heroic sacrifice?" Adrien said exasperatedly, "Make sure the ladybug miraculous is gone, so that Hawk Moth can't get it? I know it's not a complete set when you go, but neither will be!"

Ladybug's voice dropped into a whisper. "I'm sorry."

"So you're just going to leave? What about Paris?"

"It can do without me if this is a success."

"My lady," he said, softer, calmer, "don't."

Adrien could finally see what was in her hand: a shimmering blue-and-green pin.

The peacock miraculous, Adrien was sure of it.

"Miraculous Ladybug!" The red-dressed heroine said in a harsh tone absolutely drenched in hurt. She threw the miraculous in the air.

An eruption of the spotted insects flooded and reached all the way up to the ceiling. Adrien could only stand back and watch. Strangely, the lights in the room turned on all at once as soon as the first bolt of lightning crackled.

Ladybugs spread all around the room. Adrien turned to find his mother's portrait.

But his mother's portrait was never crying, and her face was not smudged with dirt.

"My miracle!" The woman cried. The young boy couldn't move. He let the haggard woman trap him in her embrace.

An embrace he found so warm.

Familiar.

Loving.

Motherly.

Adrien found tears decorating the rim of his eyelids. "Mama?"

Her hands held both sides of his face. "My miracle, I missed you."

The same green eyes. Staring. Crying.

Adrien turned to look for Ladybug. To apologize. To forgive. To thank.

There was no one.

"Ladybug?" His voice sounded like that of a child, waking up in the middle of the night and asking for his parents.

His mother let go of his face. "Adrien, I'm sor-"

"Don't say it," his voice was stiff, "Every time someone says that, they leave me."

"Adrien," his mother repeated. There was reverence in her voice, as if he was the most important thing to her.

As it were, he was. Adrien Agreste was her son, her miracle. By far, he was certainly the most important thing to her.

She looked straight at the green eyes that looked so much like her. "You have to forgive her."


:::


The rest of Adrien's life, so it seemed, would be a mix of happy and sad.

On one hand, his mother was back. The first person to ever see him as a miracle, as the most important person ever.

On the other, Ladybug was gone. The person he felt closest to his heart when his mother wasn't there, his own miracle.

For Alya, things were not so very average. On the Monday after Emily Agreste's mysterious return, Adrien found the blogger sitting on his usual spot on the bench. She was bawling, and Nino was trying so desperately to comfort her.

Alya's eyes were as puffy and red as her hair.

"Hey," Adrien tried to sound consoling. He, of all people, knew that Ladybug's disappearance was not public. Not at all. Alya couldn't have known of it, so her tears were some other reason. The blonde asked what exactly was the cause of the blogger's tears.

The redhead continued to sob. Nino stroked her shoulder. Before either could give Adrien a straight answer, the morning bell rang. Alya quickly moved to her seat as Adrien took his usual place. The lesson was blurry and slow. He could hardly remember a detail. Alya was a friend, and though Adrien was never so well-versed in the whole friendship thing, he knew he had to be concerned for her.

As soon as their break started, Nino followed Alya like a shadow while Adrien trailed right next to him.

"Marinette's missing," the other boy said. "Since last Saturday."

Alya took Nino's hand off of her shoulder and sniffled. "I-I'm a terrible best friend. She was home that evening, and then she went upstairs." Stutters riddled every single sentence and syllable. "She wasn't in her bed at morning. It wasn't even made, so she had to be in her room that night."

"Was she taken?" Adrien asked, his brows furrowing.

"No," she denied immediately. Alya crumpled her hand into her pocket to bring out an equally wrinkled piece of paper. "She left a note. Which would mean she snuck out."

"Or this kidnapper forges goodbye letters from his victims," Nino suggested. Both parties gave him dirty looks, to which he sheepishly surrendered.

The grieving girl unfolded the piece of paper, "This is Marinette's handwriting. She wrote here: 'Went out to get something. Back soon.'" Alya quoted the note. "I-I already posted an alert on the Ladyblog, hoping maybe some fans would go look for her, or even Ladybug herself."

Adrien chuckled inwardly, then scolded himself for doing so. "I doubt Ladybug checks your blog." I don't think she can, anyway.

She shrugged, "Then Chat, at least. I-I need all the help I can get to find Marinette."

"And you'll get as much support as you can from us," Nino squeezed her hand.

Adrien found it strange. Saturday night. That had to be the night that Ladybug came into his father's office.

Ladybug as never found.

Marinette was missing.

Was she Ladybug?

Could the two be one and the same?

Did Adrien fail to find the love of his life when she had sat behind him five days a week?

The questions piled up, but the answers were not enough.


:::


Wayzz shook his head. "Tikki. I-I can't." The green kwami cringed as Master Fu looked at him with concern.

"What is it?" The old man queried. He stroked his beard. The last time that Wayzz had displayed an extrasensory episode was last year, when Stoneheart had rampaged the city.

"Master," the turtle-like creature groaned in pain, "Sh-she's... she's in the other world." The seam, as Fu had once said.

"So Pavva has been freed?"

"Along with her last charge, yes," Wayzz confirmed, "But it was Ladybug who saw to it."

"Pavva's vision," Master Fu shook his head, "Emily saw vision for Gabriel. She saw too far. Pavva had to pay the price."

The little green being nodded, "But now that Hawk Moth's muse has returned, I see no reason for him to continue to vie for his desire."

"And he won't, Wayzz," he replied. "Paris will be safe. For this generation. People will need time to heal, and this safety is just what they need." Fu gazed off to the Eiffel Tower, casting a silhouette against the sunset.


Chat Noir sat calmly on the top of the Eiffel Tower, one of the places he held deepest in his heart.

"The sunset is lovely, isn't it, Chat?" Ladybug looked at him. Her legs dangled dangerously off the tower. It didn't matter. With their vigilante jobs, everything was dangerous.

His heart.

The rapid thumping.

It was dangerous for his health.

Chat closed his eyes, wanting to freeze the moment forever. "Not as lovely as you, my Lady."


Perhaps miracles do happen.