The headlines that fill the papers make Marinette want to punch someone.
"TERRORIST PAPILLON DEAD: CITIES REJOICE!"
"HEROINE LADYBUG'S SLAYS THE BUTTERFLY"
"INSIDE ADRIEN AGRESTE: THE LIFE THAT MADE THE MONSTER"
All inaccurate, all vicious, and not one giving even the tiniest bit of acknowledgment to the fact that a boy just a few weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday had died horribly, alone, trying to put right what he'd done.
The identities came out almost instantly. She was pushed out as Ladybug, and as she tried in a panic to get back in, alongside Mr. Noir, cameras caught her detransforming. Her screaming Adrien's name… well. It doesn't matter anymore.
Lila had… sort of changed back. In a way. The flower was still in her eye, and it still took her forever to be able to say her own name, but she was close to herself again. Marinette wasn't sure if she hated the girl for what she'd done, or felt pity for all that was done to her.
She feels a hand on her shoulder, and turns to see Nino, giving her a look of sympathy. "If it's worth anything, I buy your version of what went down," he tells her softly. "The guy would do anything for you, and his dad wouldn't threaten you into lying. Well, I mean, if it were me he might, but not you."
She offers a tiny smile. "Thank you."
"Hey, he was my bro, if anyone knows he wasn't all bad it's you and me," Nino's smile is no less sad than Marinette's, but it's clear that he's glad at least one other person isn't disgusted by the memory of his best friend.
Marinette's glad too. "Hey… if you ever need anything, tell me?"
"Same to you," he hugs her quickly. "Adrien would want me to look out for you."
The tears fill her eyes, and suddenly she's crying, and she can't stop. He pats her back awkwardly, and she shakes, not noticing as the butterfly lands on her right shoulder.
She pulls away eventually. "We should get to the funeral. Even if they're going to be booing and mocking him, we should go. He deserves that much."
Nino nods. "I'll drive."
The funeral is as bad as she imagined. She, Nino, and the Agrestes seem to be the only people attending… at least, the only people attending to pay last respects. There's a mob outside the cemetery gates, jeering at the empty casket. There was no body to bury- nothing but the pin, and the wings survived the blast. As Marinette walks toward the casket, rain begins to fall, lightly. It seems fitting, in a way, as her hair is plastered to her forehead and her hands, holding her last gift, shake. She gently lies the umbrella beside the casket, and the tears are falling again.
"Hey! Hey Ladybug! Smile for us!"
"Ding-dong the psycho's DEAD!"
"What's with the umbrella? It won't keep him from blowing to bits over and over in hell!"
"I miss you," she whispers, drowning out the crowd. "And I can't forget you. I can't forgive you either, of course, but that doesn't mean I won't always love you. You're my Prince. The Prince of the Butterflies. And I love you. I'm sorry," she presses a gentle kiss to the casket, and stands. Love wasn't enough for them.
Almost, but not quite.
She heads to the Agreste manor after the service, and rings the bell once. The door is instantly opened, and she shoves the earrings into Gabriel's hand. "I don't want them anymore. Do whatever you like with them, they hurt too much now."
He stares at the earrings in his hand, the ring still on his finger. "You… want to give up?"
"Ladybug broke Marinette," she says simply. "I can't do this without him to fight. I want to go home and live a normal life, where I don't have to be hurt all the time, and don't have to watch the man I love die for me."
He nods eventually. "Understood, Little Lady."
Bridgette walks in on him, as he contemplates the earrings. "Gabriel. You know what you have to do, right?"
"I'm a hypocrite of the worst kind for thinking of it," he murmurs.
"Save our son. You have creation and destruction. Go back, change it so he'll be okay, I don't care if I'm a casualty or not, you have to save him,"
He gets up, and gently, softly, presses his lips to Bridgette's. "I might not be able to save you the second time around, if I change things."
"If it means our son lives, and is happy, then I don't care. I'll stay there forever if I have to," Bridgette grips Gabriel's arm, looking at him intently. "Please. I'm begging you. I know what you said about using them again, but…"
He nods. "This is for our son. And for the Little Lady. If… if I change things, if I make him the hero from the start…" he thought for a moment. "They'll still need a villain to motivate them into action. Someone to lead them to you."
"I… I know what I have to do, Bridgette. Everything will be fine. Just a few changes, and then I'll send the Miraculous back," he smiles, and slides the earrings into his ears. "Tikki. Plagg. Ascend me."
Just a few changes, he thinks. In fact… just three.
Adrien never heard what his mother said about the Miraculous.
Gabriel didn't manage to hide Adrien from Master Fu.
And when Adrien was supposed to have found the butterfly miraculous… Gabriel took it instead.
If this is the role he has to play, a villain that never causes any real harm, someone they can win against, someone just strong enough to make them into heroes, well… then that's the role he'll play. Mr. Noir is gone. Le Papillon… Hawkmoth, is here. And he will save his family.