Marinette forced a smile as her friends danced happily a few feet away from her, a bouncy pop song blasting through the speakers. It was the winter formal and her class, as well as others from their school, were all crowded into the ballroom of Chloé's father's hotel. She watched on longingly as Rose and Juleka twirled each other around, as Mylene stood on Ivan's feet so they could dance and as Nathaniel and Marc shyly swayed together, their hands entwined.
The ballroom was as grand as the other rooms in the hotel, with a large, glistening chandelier and marble flooring. Tables covered in red tablecloths and white candles surrounded the dancefloor. Resting an arm on the table, Marinette sighed, leaning back against the plush dining chair, her dress encircling her. The bodice of her light pink dress was tight, with two thick straps leading into a sweetheart neckline. At the hips, the dress fell into a waterfall of layers, each covered in her trademark flower design.
A hand on her shoulder knocked her out of her trance. Turning her head, she saw Alya giving her a sympathetic smile, her figure-hugging red dress highlighting her voluptuous frame.
"I know it's hard being here," she said softly.
Marinette sighed, running a hand through her loose, midnight hair. "Adrien told me to come and have a good time, but I hate that he can't be here."
Marinette and Adrien had been dating for a few months when Gabriel appeared in the Dupain-Cheng bakery in the form of a stern face on his assistant's tablet. He told Marinette that he didn't approve of their relationship and if she didn't end it, he'd withdraw Adrien from school. Tom was livid, seconds away from throwing the tablet across the room and out of the window. Banishing the designer and his assistant from ever setting foot near their home again, he turned to his distraught daughter.
"I have to do it," she sobbed. "I can't have him take Adrien out of school."
He and Sabine tried to convince her otherwise but she was adamant; Adrien's happiness came first. So, Tom made a choice. Watching his daughter leave, he brought up Adrien's contact in his phone and typed out a text.
Hey son, give me a call when you can. Please keep it to yourself.
Adrien called him almost instantly.
"Tom? Is everything okay? Is Marinette okay?" the panic in the blonde teen's voice was evident.
Tom sighed. "Adrien, I need to tell you something. Marinette will be really mad at me for telling you, but I've been in your situation and I know you love my daughter."
"I do, more than anything," Adrien breathed.
Tom took a deep breath and told him what had happened in the bakery just a couple of hours earlier. Adrien listened calmly, but the rage inside of him was building like a raging storm. Plagg had his tiny ear pressed to the side of the phone and was growling as Tom recounted the story. If only he could cataclysm Gabriel.
Twenty minutes after his phone call with Tom, Marinette arrived. His bodyguard had an arm outstretched so he couldn't reach her, but as she ran away in tears, Adrien had enough.
He ducked under Gorilla's arm, noting the man didn't put up much of a fight, and sprinted after the love of his life, a black butterfly in pursuit after him.
"Marinette!" Adrien cried. She was sat on the steps of the subway and turned in surprise at the sight of him.
"Adrien, what are you-" her words were cut off by a gasp at the akuma fluttering toward her. Adrien went to call for his transformation but Plagg phased out of his pocket and poked the akuma with his tiny paw, causing it to shatter to a thousand pieces. For a moment, time stood still. Marinette stared wide-eyed at the kwami she knew too well, his luminous eyes watching her carefully. Adrien turned to look at her, placing a hand to her cheek.
"It's true, m'lady," he whispered, and her breath caught, her eyes snapping to his.
"M'lady? But we're not supposed to know…"
He cut her off with a soft, sad smile. "I'm not supposed to know that my father blackmailed you into breaking up with me either, but it's definitely better that I know."
She sighed, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "I-I'm so sorry."
He hugged her tightly as she sobbed into his chest. "You have nothing to be sorry about. Marinette, you're incredible. I love you so much."
"I love you too," she cried. "What are we going to do? I can't let you drop out of school for me."
Adrien sighed. "Then we pretend we broke up… We keep us secret, for now. We tell your parents and Nino and Alya, but no-one else."
"I wanna tell Kagami too," Marinette said, pulling away from his chest and wiping her eyes, his hands holding her waist protectively. "We're her only friends right now, I plan to change that, but I don't want to lie to her."
And so, they agreed to keep their status secret. Adrien had returned home, pretending to be absolutely heartbroken. His dad and Nathalie believed him, and a month or so later he and Marinette were still happy together. However, his father booked him into a night of photoshoots the evening of the winter formal, claiming 'it's not like he had a girlfriend to escort.'
"I still want to punch Gabriel in the face," Alya sighed. "How dare he say you're not good enough for our boy."
Marinette sighed. "Adrien deserves a much better father."
"Luckily, he's got the best 'just a friend' in the world," Alya said with a wink.
Marinette rolled her eyes affectionately. "Go dance with your boyfriend, just because my night sucks doesn't mean yours should."
"One dance, then I'll be back, promise," she said, pressing a kiss to her friend's cheek before scurrying off to find Nino at the DJ booth.
Marinette smiled, but it faded as her mind drifted to her boyfriend, in some boring photoshoot without his friends. Her phone buzzed in her bag, knocking her out of her thoughts.
Go to the roof, there's a surprise for you – Ax
A wide grin broke across her face and Marinette hurried to the lobby, nearly tripping in her heels. She pressed the lift button multiple times, her heart pounding in excitement. The doors opened and she rushed in, jabbing the button for the top floor.
The lift doors opened onto the roof, a huge smile crossing her face as her eyes met a blonde boy waiting for her at the balcony railing. The cold, winter air didn't bother her as she walked toward him, his eyes twinkling as he watched her. The balcony was covered in candles and rose petals, like he'd done for her once before. The pool beside them was covered, the furniture all stacked away to the side for the winter months.
"I hear you're without a prince tonight," Chat Noir smirked, leaning against the railing.
"He's got another engagement, sadly," Marinette smiled, resting her arms on the balcony beside him.
"Luckily for you, Princess, he sent a knight in shining leather," Chat said with a wink.
Marinette snorted, flicking the bell on his neck, noting the cute black bow tie that rested above it. "Oh really? And where is this knight?"
Placing a hand to his heart, Chat feigned hurt. "You wound me, Princess! Especially when I've put on such a romantic display."
"It's beautiful," Marinette said, wrapping her arms around him.
"Not as beautiful as you," Chat breathed, holding her waist. "I always think you can't get more beautiful but you took my breath away when I saw you tonight."
"You're such a sap," Marinette teased, as blush covered her cheeks.
"I mean it, I love you so much, Marinette. My father can try and keep Adrien away from you all he wants, but he can't keep Chat from you," he said, resting his forehead against hers.
"I love you too, Adrien," Marinette whispered.
"Will you give me one dance before I have to go?" Chat whispered, running a hand through her hair.
"Always," Marinette smiled, as Chat walked over to a stereo on a nearby decking table. He pressed play and the first few notes of the song began to ring out across the rooftop. Marinette smirked, raising her eyebrows at him.
Chat shrugged. "It's appropriate."
Tikki beamed, floating out from Marinette's purse at her hip and sat on a nearby umbrella to watch her chosen, singing along to the song in a cute, faux English accent.
Tale as old as time,
True as it can be
Taking her hand in his and placing his other on her waist, Chat began to gently waltz Marinette around the rooftop, his eyes locked on hers.
Barely even friends,
Then somebody bends,
He twirled her out dramatically and she laughed, her dress swirling around her majestically. He grinned before pulling her into him, unable to bear any distance between them.
Just a little change,
Small to say the least,
Both a little scared,
Neither one prepared,
Beauty and The Beast
They continued to sway softly as the song continued. Chat's tail began to circle her, pulling her even closer, causing the girl to giggle, her eyes sparkling like the stars that watched on above them.
"Control your tail, mister."
"I can't I'm afraid, I'm in love with you. It's a tail as old as time," Chat said with a smirk.
Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise
Marinette groaned, resting her head against his chest. "Remind me why I put up with you."
"Because I look hot in leather," he said with a wink.
Marinette hummed. "Not a lie," she said, giggling as he blushed under his mask.
Tikki smiled as she continued to sing, bobbing her tiny head along with the instruments.
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast
Chat dipped his lady, looking at her adoringly as she grabbed onto his arms tightly for support, her feet slipping from under her. She was even clumsier than normal in stilettos. Their eyes met and her panic fell, feeling safe in his arms as she always did, whether she was a superhero or a civilian. As the song came to its end, he pressed his lips against hers, which she happily returned, wrapping her arms around his neck.
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast
They pulled apart and smiled softly at each other, before Chat pulled her back upright, his arms still protectively on her waist.
"You know, I always loved the Angela Lansbury version of that song, but I think Tikki just stole the top spot," Chat said with a grin, eyeing the red creature.
Tikki beamed. "Thank you, Chat! You should hear Plagg's version of Kiss The Girl from The Little Mermaid, he's super good at that!"
Chat chuckled. "Oh, I'm definitely asking him when I get home, though I suspect he'll be fuming you told me."
Tikki giggled. "No doubt!"
Turning his attention back to the princess in his arms, Chat looked at her determinedly.
"Now, Princess, you must return to the ball and have a wonderful evening. A little birdy told me you weren't having much fun."
Marinette sighed, dipping her head in sadness. "It's not right being there without you."
Chat smiled softly, using a clawed finger to tilt her head up to look at him. "I know it sucks right now, Princess, but we'll get through this. Do I wish I was there with you? Yes, but I'd rather miss out on one night with you and our friends if it keeps my father for keeping me locked away from you and Nino and Alya for good."
"I guess you're right," Marinette admitted, begrudgingly. "I'm still keeping Alya's offer to punch your dad on the table though."
"Duly noted," Chat said with a chuckle. He grabbed her hand, pressing a kiss to it. "The knight needs to leave on his noble steed now, Princess, but he and your prince love you very much."
She tugged him forward by the hand, pressing a firm kiss to his lips. "I love you too, kitty. I'll call you tomorrow."
Reluctantly backing away from her, he jumped onto the balcony railing, blowing her a kiss before he leaped off into the black of the night. Marinette sighed gently, watching him go for a minute before she turned to return to the ball, determined to enjoy her night as Adrien had asked her to.
She may not have her Prince right now, but at least she would always have her Beast.