Final Chapter! Thank you all who read, followed, favorited, and reviewed and I hope you all enjoyed!
That's My Scarf!
What Gabriel Agreste and Nathalie Sancoer had collectively failed to realize is that one of their primary defense lawyers was, in fact, best friends with Sabine Cheng Zhu, who had not only gone to school with her in China but also made the trip to Paris together for university and who would literally die before betraying her friend's—or her daughter's—honor.
Marinette was NOT given her design back, nor was it removed from the Gabriel line, but she was awarded a large settlement and news that Gabriel Agreste had stolen a design from a teenaged girl who was friends with his son quickly became widespread public knowledge.
Sales began to drop, gossip erupted among fashion stakeholders worldwide, and adamant boycotters hurled insults across social media in exchange with those from brand loyalists.
One little drawing had triggered a landslide costing hundreds of thousands of Euros, a crisis in the fashion industry, and a catastrophic blow to a bordering-on billion-Euro industry.
Marinette, though somewhat anonymous through the whole thing, found herself helplessly scrolling through Twitter whenever she had a spare moment, Tikki against her shoulder desperately trying to soothe her, cringing at the thought that somehow, SHE had caused this.
In effect, the result made both sides feel as though they had lost, but Marinette and her parents at least got some satisfaction knowing Gabriel's public disgrace was due to nothing more than the truth.
Truth which, poor Adrien, who was out in public a lot more than his father was, had to bear most of the brunt of.
The young model was sprawled across the couch in their main TV room, flipping through channels on a Sunday afternoon because Nino and Alya were busy on a date and his other friends all had plans of their own, when he came across the fifth news covering of the story he'd heard (without trying!) in a single week.
As sick and tired as Adrien was of hearing it, he waited a few seconds before groaning and switching the screen off, slumping back against the stiff cushions.
A terse voice crossed the room from behind him.
Adrien started up, placing his feet back on the floor as he turned to see his father standing in the corner of the room.
Gabriel refused to meet his son's eyes, hands balling up into fists by his sides. "Are you ashamed of me, son?" he demanded, his quiet voice not masking the darkness underneath.
Adrien frowned. "What?" Suddenly, his father cared what he thought of him? Uncharacteristic, at least.
"Your friend," Gabriel gritted his teeth. "My reputation. My name, our family, dragged through the mud of public disgrace. Do you hate me for it?"
Adrien blinked. "It was an honest mistake, Father," he offered up innocently, although deep down he was pretty sure it wasn't.
"I stole the work of an innocent teenaged girl! A common schoolgirl your own age, whose drawing I found in a cheap sketchbook from the discount art supply store. That's all you have to say to me?!"
"Uh…" Adrien had expected him to sulk, sure. To hide away and distance himself and refuse to talk about the elephantitic problem everyone was thinking about, like he always did. The way his father was acting now was—weird. He raised an eyebrow, still staring at his father over the back of the sofa. "Are you—surprised—that I'm not mad at you?"
Gabriel frowned deeply, setting his fists against his sides. "I raised you to have a sense of justice. The common sense to distinguish right and wrong, and to not let complacency dictate your response to events you have the power to fix."
Adrien just stared at him even more blankly. What the heck was his father trying to say?!
Seeing his lack of response, Gabriel just fixed him with an even more exasperated look. "Aren't you ashamed that I've fallen this far? Isn't this why you left the home in the first place, why you insist on going to school and spending time with friends you know I disapprove of, because you hate what I've become?"
"What are you talking about?!" Adrien finally snapped, throwing his hands up. "None of that is true! What are you trying to—"
"You traded me for them!"
Gabriel was no longer composed in the slightest, his face red with anger and a strange, wild look in his eyes.
Something clicked into place in Adrien's mind, and he realized what he had to do.
His expression softened. "Father, I don't blame you for what you did."
Gabriel's jaw clicked shut. "How can you say that?" he bit out.
"Everyone has a reason for the things they do, even things that are wrong," Adrien pointed out gently. "It's not my place to judge you. Who knows, if I were you, whether I might've done the same thing?"
His father appeared dumbfounded for a moment by his response, and his posture relaxed slightly when he realized Adrien wasn't going to let him pick a fight to take out his anger.
He was quiet for a long moment. "But you still believe it was wrong?"
Adrien blinked twice. "Well, yeah. You stole my friend's work. I was pretty mad about that at first. But," he raised his eyes innocently to his father's, who eyed him with the cynicism of a wounded bear too proud and afraid to trust his rescuer, "I still have faith in you, Father. I know you still have the chance to make it right."
He turned around and started to walk away, letting out his breath once his back was turned to Gabriel and he realized he'd only been pretending to be relaxed during the whole conversation.
"But our reputation-!" Gabriel called after him.
Adrien had to hold back a smile. It was weird, his dad acting so childish all of a sudden. He had to try very hard to remain somewhat respectful and not start acting like the grownup himself. "I don't care what other people think of us, Father," he said honestly, turning just slightly so his father could hear him. "All I care about is the person you really are inside."
He left his dumbfounded father standing, more perspective-laden than before, standing in the empty space behind him.