The following morning, Marinette got up very early to google pictures of Adrien. He was famous, so she figured that there could already be pictures of his ring online.
She knew that Chat's ring likely had the same properties as her earrings, meaning that it changed color during transformation while still retaining its shape. This meant that the only thing that mattered was that Adrien and Chat's rings be the same shape.
Marinette found out that Adrien did in fact wear a ring in some of his photos, but the details were pretty hard to discern. All she could really tell was that the ring was silver in color. When it came to Chat, Marinette already had several very accurate extra models of his ring from the time that she made miraculous decoys to fool dark owl. Having a physical model to compare it to would also be more accurate.
She walked to school, deciding that she would have to look at the ring in person. Marinette patiently waited at the front of the building for Adrien to walk up.
Marinette looked into her purse at Tikki. "I think I'm just going to approach him like normal and go from there. Asking him to see his ring directly would be weird, and he might become suspicious of me."
"That might be the easiest way, but don't give him the wrong idea."
Marinette waited a couple minutes as more of her classmates began showing up. Alya waved to her as she approached "Hey Marinette, did you see the blog post yesterday? Cool, wasn't it!"
Marinette put on a large fake smile. The possibility that Chat was Adrien made yesterday's events even more frustrating and complicated. Alya certainly was an influential writer, as every single news channel that morning had been showing her photograph and quoting her very detailed depiction of it.
"Oh yeah, it was so good! Truly a fan girls fever dream if you ask me. You just have this way of describing things!" Marinette said, feigning excitement.
The hidden jab was pooling with Sarcasm. Clearly Alya did not notice this however, as she took the compliment with a large blush.
"You really think so" She said, rubbing the back of her head bashfully.
"I know so" Marinette said, copying the same comment and Intonation that Adrien used yesterday on the bus.
"Well girl, I'll meet you in class." Her friend waved as she walked away. Adrien's Limo pulled up shortly after Alya walked away.
Adrien was the last student to show up. He stepped out of the car, immediately taking notice to Marinette standing at the steps. He waved to her and she gave a small waved back.
Marinette started walking up to Adrien. As she did, she began searching his hands for a ring. Adrien's left hand was by his side and had no ring, but his right hand was masked behind his messenger bag.
"What's up Marinette?" He asked in a sweet voice that made Marinette's heart melt.
Marinette couldn't let his cuteness distract her though. She began moving her head around, trying to see if she could get a clear look at his right hand from around the bag. Marinette thought the movements were subtle, but Adrien immediately took notice. "Oh you know, just hanging around…"
Adrien assumed that Marinette must have been looking directly behind him, so he instinctively turned around. "Are you looking for something?"
Adrien's right hand moved up and away from his bag as his body turned, and Marinette's eyes followed.
There's a ring!
Adrien's hand was positioned with the palm side being the most visible to Marinette, only allowing her to see the band of the ring. She stepped in slightly closer for a better look, when Adrien turned back around.
"I can help you find whatever you're-" Adrien trailed off, as he took notice to Marinette staring intently at his right hand. Adrien's eyes curiously looked to his hand as well, and he realized that the only thing he had on it was a ring, Chat's ring.
Adrien began to panic, and Marinette took notice to how frightened he suddenly appeared. He abruptly pulled his hand out of the air and shoved it back behind his bag.
"w-were you looking for something?" He asked hastily. Marinette looked surprised.
"Uh, well you see-"
As Marinette was talking, the bell for class rang.
"Oh no!" She exclaimed, running off towards the school entrance. Adrien desperately wanted to stop her, but Marinette was gone before he could say anything.
Oh god I totally gave him the wrong idea.
Adrien ran to nearby bushes and crouched down.
Plagg warped his head through the top of Adrien's bag. "What was that all about?"
"Plagg!" Adrien worriedly exclaimed. "She was staring right at my ring and acting really weird."
"Doesn't she always act weird?
"Marinette is a little odd sometimes, but this was really strange for her. It practically looked like she was waiting at the steps for me to show up!"
"Doesn't she always do that?"
"What?" Adrien looked to Plagg confused. "Of course not, I would notice something like that! Plagg, this was different. You didn't see her, she was staring at my ring like… like how you stare at Camembert!"
Plagg rolled his eyes. "Ok, that is clearly an exaggeration. Camembert is way better than a ring."
Adrien loudly groaned "That is not the point! What if… What if she saw something that compromised my identity yesterday, and now today she's trying to confirm it! I did think it was weird that she would have called me with no memories! She could have been lying about losing her own to cover up something." Adrien said hysterically, pulling at his perfect golden locks in frustration.
Plagg chuckled at the boy's dramatic reaction. "Keep doing that and she'll think you look like Chat too."
Adrien let out another loud groan as he aggressively tried to fix his hair. He found himself unable to get it to stay how it was when he styled it this morning. "Fine, whatever!" He said giving up.
"Ok kid let's calm down" The little black Kwami said floating to Adrien's shoulder. Plagg knew that Marinette really did lose her memories, but he figured there was always the chance that she had seen something before or after the akuma attack. Because Marinette just so happened to be Ladybug, he decided to acknowledge Adrien's concerns in case it turned out that she really had seen something.
"I agree, that is a little strange, but your ring changes color when you transform. Won't that throw her off if she really is suspicious of you?"
Adrien shook his head. "We're talking about magical super heroes though. I'm sure it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination for Marinette to figure out that Chat's miraculous changes color, especially since my ring is the exact same shape as his. She could easily just google a picture of Chat's ring and then I'm done for!"
Plagg nearly laughed at the irony of Adrien's comment.
"Ladybug certainly would know about Miraculous's changing color" he thought.
The Kwami shrugged. "Well then I guess you might be screwed then!"
The tiny god immediately regretted his words as the color drained from Adrien's face and an expression of complete terror took over his features.
"H-Hey I'm just messing with you kid!" He hastily exclaimed in an attempt to calm his worried friend down. "There's always a strong chance that your just being paranoid and nothing will come of this. Marinette's into fashion, right? Maybe she's just wants to look at your ring for some inspiration!"
Adrien really didn't want to stress his mind with all the what ifs of the situation, but he still wasn't convinced that Marinette's strange behavior was innocent. He decided to concede his fears partially, and only put a small bit of confidence into Plagg's words.
The dark expression of Adrien's face lightened a bit. "I really hope that's the case" he said giving a stressful sigh.
"That's the spirit! We can talk more about this later, just try to act normal in front of her!" Plagg flew back into his bag. Adrien began walking towards class, but still couldn't manage to shake the negative feelings.
Adrien arrived to class still in a frenzy. His hair was far messier than usual, and he looked extremely disgruntled. All eyes turned to him, distracted by the unruly state of the blond boy's appearance.
"Sorry I'm late" he said to Mrs. Bustier.
"That's fine Adrien, just take your seat and we'll begin class."
As Adrien walked to his seat, he locked gazes with Marinette. She gave him a smile. Adrien always thought her eyes were beautiful, but right now he couldn't bear to look at her for much longer than a fraction of a second. He smiled back, but quickly averted his eyes away and sat down.
"Dude, what's up with you?" Nino whispered to him.
"What do you mean?" Adrien said flatly.
"Your hair is wild, you came in kind of looking a little pissed off, and your tone is different than usual."
"O-oh really? I'm just not having a very good day."
"You should tell me what happened during lunch." Nino looked to him concernedly.
He nodded in blind agreeance, not really listening to Nino.
Adrien nervously looked down at his hands. He usually didn't mind Marinette sitting behind him, but her presence almost felt invasive after what just transpired. There was literally nothing he could do but sit there and hope that she wasn't staring at him.
About an hour into class, Mrs. Bustier abruptly stopped talking and looked to the corner of the room around where Adrien was sitting.
"Marinette, why do you keep staring down at the desk in front of you?"
Adrien immediately tensed up, and slowly turned his head around to see Marinette's signature awkward grin.
She is staring at me!
Marinette paused for a moment as she looked around the room. "Oh uh, well you see. I've been having trouble seeing your writing on the board for some reason. I didn't want to bother you by saying anything, so I've just been looking down at Nino's notes."
"Oh, good lord I hope she buys it." Marinette thought.
Adrien couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not only was Marinette staring at him, but she was also lying about it! He didn't think the kind and timid girl had it in her to be so deceitful, and it made his suspicion of Marinette significantly increase.
"On his tablet? But it's so small."
Marinette looked extremely uncomfortable as she hesitantly responded. "The digital notes are somewhat easier to make out than your hand-written ones."
"Why didn't you just look at Alya's notes?"
Upon hearing her name, Alya awkwardly laughed and discreetly closed the super penguino game that she was playing. "Uh, I don't mean to disappoint you Mrs. Bustier, but I don't really take many notes in this class. French Is super easy." She said apologetically.
Mrs. Bustier looked unsure at first, but quickly smiled to the two girls sitting next to each other.
"Oh, that's alright Alya. Marinette, you really should get your eyes checked. Do you want to see if sitting closer will help?"
"Oh but I-"
"Hey Marinette, you can have my seat for now." Nino chimed in while standing up and grabbing his stuff. "It might be easier for you. Plus, I get to sit next to Alya."
Marinette hesitated, but didn't want to reject Nino's kind offer. She picked up her bag and awkwardly sat down in Nino's seat, giving Adrien a shy smile. Chloe and Lila shot Marinette dirty looks, both of which were thinking that this was something she planned intentionally.
"Is that any better Marinette?"
Marinette looked to the board and nodded her head. "Much better."
Adrien thought Marinette's presence made him uncomfortable earlier, but this was on a whole new level.
Before Mrs. Bustier could resume the lesson, Adrien raised his hand. "Is it alright If I use the restroom really quick Mrs. Bustier."
"Yes, that's fine."
Adrien walked out into the hallway. He was about to enter the bathroom, when Marinette suddenly called his name from behind.
"Adrien! Wait a minute."
Marinette, who had apparently asked to use the bathroom as well, jogged over to him. "You seemed a little upset when I talked to you earlier, is something bothering you?" She asked in an attempt to get a gauge on his emotions.
Adrien still wasn't sure why Marinette wanted to look at his ring, and he definitely wasn't about to disclose his suspicion to her. He needed to try his best to remain unassuming. "No, not at all."
"W-well, you looked really worried."
"If she's going to lie about staring at me in class, I'll lie a little bit too." He thought.
"Oh that?" He sheepishly grinned. "I realized that I forgot something important in my Limo and had to call my bodyguard to come back. I really don't like to be late, so that's probably why I looked a little worried."
Unbeknownst to Adrien, that tantalizing grin along with his messy hair set the cogs in Marinette's mind turning. Part of her innately wanted to believe the sweet boy's smile, but her thoughts instead shifted to a certain high-class trickster and deceiver's smile that was just as convincing.
Marinette imagined a mask and cat ears on the boy, and the mental image clicked.
"He even looks like Chat!" She humorously thought.
Just based on what Marinette had already discovered, along with her sudden realization of how similar Adrien and Chat look, she decided that he was more than likely lying. Marinette figured she would play along with him.
"O-oh well I'm glad you're not serious." Adrien immediately looked at her funny. It took Marinette a couple seconds to realize what she had said, and the girl mentally cursed at her slip of the tongue.
"No, no you are definitely being serious! What I mean to say is that I'm glad it was nothing serious." She quickly corrected.
There was a long silence where Adrien was rather expressionless, and Marinette was beginning to feel a little nervous. Adrien smiled and finally spoke up.
"A little tongue tied?" He chuckled, causing Marinette to ease a bit. "I'll be back in class in a few minutes. Thanks for your concern." Adrien began making his way to the bathroom the rest of the way. Marinette lingered for a few moments and looked at him until he disappeared behind the door.
Instead of heading back to class immediately, Marinette decided to go into the bathroom to talk to Tikki. She quickly made sure no one was around, and sat in one of the stalls. Tikki flew out of her bag and gave her an upset expression.
The little Kwami crossed her arms. "Marinette, you've been being painfully obvious all morning. If he's Chat, I am more than positive that he is probably suspicious of you by this point."
"I'm sorry, I guess I'm not very good at being discrete about things. Not around Adrien at least." She nervously laughed, but quickly perked up. "You should have seen that smile he gave though Tikki, he looked just like Chat with his messy hair and beautiful green eyes..." The teenage girl dreamily recounted as she put her hand to her heart.
Tikki playfully rolled her eyes, "Well, did you at least get a good look at his ring?"
Marinette smirked and pulled out a little piece of paper. "Even better Tikki! I realized after earlier that getting a quick look at the ring isn't enough, so the best way to be abosultely sure it's Chat's ring is to capture an image of it and compare it to the model ring side by side. It would be far too risky to try and get a photo after seeing how he reacted this morning, so I sketched a picture of his ring in class." She said confidently showing it to the Kwami. "It was hard getting a consistent view of it because he kept moving his hand around, but I managed to do it! Now all I have to do it compare it to the model of Chat's ring."
Marinette pulled out the little container that held Chat's fake miraculous. She took a deep breath and looked to Tikki. Before the excited girl could open it, she paused. "I'm really about to figure out if Adrien is Chat, aren't I."
Tikki smiled to her. "You sure are."
The pigtailed girl briefly looked nervous, but the desire to know the truth quickly pushed aside any negative feelings. Marinette opened the box, and began comparing the model ring to the sketch. Tikki observed from over her shoulder, although she already knew what Marinette was going to find.
After several seconds of comparing all the surfaces and ridges, Marinette had come to a conclusion. "They're exactly the same Tikki!" She said excitedly, although she was not at all surprised by the finding. Marinette's joyful expression quickly melted as she pressed her hands to her face.
"Oh no, They're exactly the same!" Marinette said, looking distraught.
Tikki could sense the oncoming breakdown that was about to take place. "Yeah isn't it great Marinette! Adrien loves you, and you love him!"
She soon regretted saying that as Marinette's catastrophic thinking took over.
"He probably thinks that I hate him! I've been unknowingly brushing Adrien's affections away like a jerk, but I'm utterly and disgustingly obsessed with him as Marinette. When he finds out my identity, he's going to think that I'm a huge creep!"
"O-ok Marinette, calm d-"
"And that's not even the worst part! Adrien believes that Marinette loves Chat Noir. He'll think I was toying with his feelings this whole time as Ladybug and then he'll hate me even more!" Marinette droned on into more ranting as Tikki tried to find the right words to calm her down. After several Futile attempts, Tikki was beginning to get a little annoyed.
Marinette's ranting finally stopped upon hearing Tikki's aggitated voice. "What?" she said dully.
"Adrien is a kind-hearted person, I am positive he will understand all the confusion and mistakes you made. It's not like he didn't make any himself. I mean, he turned you down as Chat Noir because of his feelings for Ladybug. You've basically been doing the same to Chat Noir, but in your case it was for Adrien!"
Despite Tikki's words, Marinette still felt intense fear about Chat finding out her identity. "Yeah but the stakes are like a million times higher now. If I've somehow given him a bad impression as Marinette, it's over for me. Besides that, Adrien loves the strong and confident me, not the clumsy and insecure side."
"I've told you before Marinette, you and Ladybug are one and the same!"
"We are the same person Tikki, but Ladybug only shows the positive qualities of my personality. Being a hero means that I can't show the world my insecurities. Chat only knows those positives, he doesn't see the full girl under the mask."
"Oh Marinette…" Tikki sighed and rubbed her temples. "I really think that you are just over thinking this, but we can talk more about it when you get home. We're going to have to talk to Master Fu about you discovering his identity, but right now you really should be getting back to class."
In the men's bathroom, Adrien sat in a stall talking to Plagg.
"I can't believe pigtails would tell such a bold-faced lie, doesn't she hate lying?"
"Yeah, she does, but of course she's not going to tell everyone that she was staring at me. We're friends, right? You'd think that if she just wanted to look at my ring for fashion inspiration or something, that it would be easier just to ask me directly."
"Yeah, but if she suspects your Chat, she probably didn't want to risk giving you the wrong idea about it. That could be the reason why she was trying to look at it without you noticing."
Adrien scoffed. "Well I definitely noticed, and she has certainly given me the wrong idea! If that's the case, Marinette wasn't doing a very good job at being covert about her intentions."
"That girl is a mixed bag. One minute she's super obvious, the next minute she's dropping lies like Lila."
Adrien grimaced down at his ring. He was incredibly agitated at this whole turn of events, and it didn't help that Marinette already suspected something was off. He could only hope that she bought the lie he told her.
"The worst part is that I can't tell if she's just being normal Marinette level weird, or if she's actually onto my identity." Adrien signed, palming at his jeans anxiously. "Plagg what should I do? She's going to be sitting right next to me now…"
"Adrien, I already told you, just act normal! I know you freaked out a little earlier, but now's the time to make up for it. If she thinks you're Chat Noir, acting weird is just going to give her more reason to believe you're him."
"But what if she figures it out anyways? I'll have to tell Ladybug about it and she'll be disappointed in me. She's already upset about us kissing, this will just be the icing on the cake."
Plagg gave Adrien a warm-hearted smile, which was rare for the black Kwami that claimed he only cared about cheese. "If it happens, be honest with her. Ladybug would never be disappointed at you for accidentally exposing your identity, she's not like that Adrien and you know it."
It was true. Ladybug might come off as intense sometimes, but she was the kindest person Adrien knew.
"Maybe she can even forgive a stupid cat like me." He thought.
Adrien's previous dark expression changed to a big blush and smile. Endearing thoughts of his lady began to fill his mind. "She is rather forgiving, isn't she? That's one of the reasons why I love her so much…"
Plagg groaned in annoyance. He desperately wanted to slap the love-struck boy. All it took to make him happy was a little conversation about his partner, and any bad thoughts magically went away.
"Remind me to never try and comfort you again! Go back to class lover boy."