Hello, lovely readers!

A few months ago I was asked to write a piece for the ML Pandemic Relief Zine. It was such a fun project to be a part of, and now that it's been out for a while, I am happy to share with you the fluffy Marichat one-shot I wrote for the zine.

Happy reading!


RAP RAP RAP

Marinette's heart stopped.

"Is someone knocking on a window?" Alya pushed herself off the ground and padded across the room.

"N-no! I...uhh...it's probably just the wind!" Marinette sprang out of her seat and tried to pull Alya back to the circle of girls sitting in the middle of the floor. "Don't worry about it! Mario Kart is waiting for us!"

RAP RAP RAP

"There it is again!" Alya stood on her tiptoes and peered out the window next to Marinette's desk. "That's funny I could have sworn-"

The hatch above the lofted bed swung open with a bang. All heads turned towards the sound as a mop of blond hair poked through the opening.

"Princess, are you in here? Are you okay? I was knocking, and I didn't see...oops." Chat Noir's eyes scanned the room. "Hello, ladies."

"Oh, look!" Alya locked eyes with Marinette and gestured towards the hatch. "The wind has a face."

Marinette groaned and buried her face in her hands. "This can't be happening."

"Oh, but it is, and I can't wait to hear you explain your way out of this one."

"It's not what it looks like."

"Really? Because to me, it looks like one of Paris's heroes is asking to come in, and judging by his cute little nickname for you, I'm guessing that this isn't the first time he's paid you a visit. How am I doing so far, Princess Marinette?"

"Unfortunately, you're doing pretty well."

Chat ducked behind the lip of the opening. "Did I come at a bad time?"

Marinette pinched the bridge of her nose. "I told you that I was busy today."

"I forgot."

"Obviously."

"If he's here, does that mean there's an Akuma?" Rose smashed her hands against her cheeks. "Is it after one of us?"

Chat shook his head. "No Akuma tonight. Everyone is safe."

"If there's no Akuma, then why are you here?" Alix narrowed her eyes. "Are you two dating or something?"

"No!" Marinette raised her hands in front of her. "It's nothing like that. He just visits sometimes."

"Yup!" Chat chimed in, "Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday night!"

"Not helping!" Marinette hissed at the boy through gritted teeth.

He sunk further behind the ledge. "Sorry."

"You have scheduled visits!" Alya chuckled and placed a hand on Marinette's shoulder. "Girl, I expect details."

Chat cleared his throat. "Should I just leave the snacks and go?"

"Aha!" Alix exclaimed, pointing towards the hatch. "He brought snacks. They're totally dating."

"We're not dating!" Marinette stamped her foot on the ground. "We're just friends. I swear!"

"I don't know. My brother always brings his girlfriend food, and he's always talking about how in love with her he is."

"Chat is my friend."

Alya crossed her arms. "And tell us, how did you manage to become friends with him?"

Marinette looked at Chat, and after finding the silent look of approval in his eyes, she swallowed and took a steadying breath. "One night I was really upset, so I decided to sit out on the balcony. I may have started crying, and that's when Chat found me. He told me he was also feeling down, so we talked for a few hours. He checked up on me the next day, and that's when we realized that we enjoyed hanging out with each other."

"Did you invite him to hang out with us tonight?" Mylene asked, cocking her head to the side.

Marinette sighed. "No, I did not."

"You know, I should just go." Chat tossed a canvas bag overflowing with snacks onto Marinette's bed. "I'll see you on Sunday, Princess."

The unspoken sadness behind his words sent a pang through Marinette's heart. "No, stay. It's fine. Besides, I think Alya would kill me if I told you to go home before she had the chance to grill you at some point tonight."

"You know it." Alya chuckled and shot a finger gun in Chat's direction.

"Wait." He peeked the rest of his head over the ledge. "Really? I can come in?"

"Yup, and we were just about to play Mario Kart." Marinette watched as Chat hopped onto her bed and scrambled down the ladder. "Did you want to play with us?"

"Do I?" He vibrated with excitement as she handed him a controller. "Is this what normally happens at sleepovers?"

"Have you never been to one?"

"No. I've only ever seen them on television and in movies, but those people are always doing each other's hair and playing Truth or Dare."

Alix's eyes lit up. "Ooo, yes! We should play Truth or Dare."

"No!" Marinette switched on her computer and loaded the game. "We are not playing Truth or Dare."

"Ugh, lame!"

"We are playing Mario Kart, and then we are watching a movie."

"I don't know, Marinette. Playing Truth or Dare with a superhero sounds kind of fun." Alya shot her a grin.

Marinette glared at her. "Video Games. Movie. Bed. That's it."

"You know," Chat interjected, "I've never played Truth or Dare either."

"Of course you haven't."

"It could be fun."

"But you know what would be even more fun?" Marinette leaned in and flicked Chat's bell. "Kicking your butt at Mario Kart...again."

He chuckled. "That's some big talk coming from someone who's about to get crushed."

"So says the boy who loses every time he's played against me."

"Oh, it's on, Princess."

"Jeez, if you two lovebirds are done flirting, some of us are ready to actually start playing," Alix huffed, flopping onto the floor.

"For the last time, we are not dating." Marinette crossed her arms and looked at Chat. "Right?"

"Yeah, we're not." She could have sworn that she saw his eyes dim when he spoke his confirmation, but surely it was just a trick of the light.

"See!" She said triumphantly. "We're just friends."

"Could have fooled me!" Alix held her stomach and laughed. "I'm just kidding. Anyway, are we playing or not?"

"Yes." Marinette pressed start on her controller. "We are."

As the first race began, she settled herself next to Chat Noir, accidentally brushing her knee against his. Her heart sank when she felt his body stiffen under her touch. Usually, Chat had no problem getting close to her. More often than not, they found themselves wrapped around each other under piles of blankets.

She couldn't help but wonder if she'd done something wrong. Maybe he was upset that she'd said no Truth or Dare. Maybe she was too harsh. Maybe she should have said yes. After all, it was his first sleepover, and playing Truth or Dare wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

Despite the internal debate that raged through her mind throughout the gaming session, Marinette came first in almost every race. After her eleventh win, she leaned over and rested her head on Chat's shoulder.

"Better luck next time, kitty." She looked up only to see him quickly turn his head away.

He must really be upset with her.

Alix slammed her controller onto the ground. "Ugh, can we do something else now? I'm getting bored."

Alya rolled her eyes. "Are you sure you're not just getting tired of losing?"

"Actually, I also wouldn't mind doing something else." Rose set down her controller and smiled. "Marinette, didn't you say that we were going to watch a movie tonight?"

"A movie would be cool," Juleka mumbled under her breath.

Marinette looked at Chat Noir. "Well, I've been thinking about it, and I thought that maybe we could play Truth or Dare...as long as we're careful, that is! We'd have to promise to not ask Chat anything that could reveal his identity."

Alix threw a celebratory fist into the air. "Yes!"

"Are you sure, girl?" Alya furrowed her brows. "You seemed pretty against it before."

She nodded. "I'm sure. Besides, I think our surprise guest really wants to play. What kind of hostess would I be if I denied him the full sleepover experience?"

He met her gaze. His mouth rounded into a small "o" as a dusting of pink peeked out from underneath his mask.

"Are you okay?" Marinette asked tentatively.

He cleared his throat. "Uh, yeah. I would love to play!"

The rest of the group excitedly agreed and reformed a circle in the middle of the floor. The first few rounds filled the room with laughter as Mylene did the worm and Alya showed off her best Nino impression.

Once the giggles died down after watching Alix's reaction to putting ice cubes down her shirt, Alya adjusted her glasses and smirked. "Alright, it's your turn, Marinette. Truth or dare?"

The last thing Marinette needed was for someone to dare her to kiss Chat Noir. "Truth."

Alix rubbed her hands together. "First truth of the night. Let's make it a good one."

A wave of regret washed over her. "Oh, no."

"Oh, yes! Who do you have a crush on right now?"

"I guess I should have seen that one coming."

A pang shot through Marinette's chest. She lowered her head and swallowed the heartbreak that threatened to resurface.

It had only been three months since she'd made the choice to move on from Adrien, and the wound still felt fresh. She'd done her best to bury the feelings she had for him, but her heart always circled back to the selfless boy who shines brighter than the sun.

However, she learned that as long as she didn't actively think about Adrien, the hole inside her heart wasn't as noticeable. Chat's visits had really helped take her mind off of everything, but now it looked like it was time to face her feelings head-on.

"Oh, I know!" Chat blurted out, "It's Luka!"

"No, it's not." Juleka's hands covered her mouth while she spoke. "Marinette turned him down when he asked her out."

"Wait, really?" He turned to Marinette. "Isn't he the boy you're in love with?"

Alya shook her head. "No, they had a connection, but I think we all know who really captured her heart."

"Who?"

"You mean you really don't know? She never told you?"

Hot tears welled in the corners of Marinette's eyes. "I'm trying to move on."

"Do you still love him?" Rose asked quietly, "Because it's okay if you do. Feelings like that don't just disappear overnight."

"Yeah, but it doesn't matter now. He's with someone else. I lost my chance." The words tasted bitter on her lips.

"No, you didn't." Juleka shook her head. "Don't tell anyone, but I saw Luka kissing Kagami last weekend."

A collective gasp filled the room as Marinette's head shot up. "Are you serious?"

"Mmhmm, he doesn't know that I know, but she comes over a lot."

Alya nudged Marinette's arm. "I think you just got your second chance."

"But he and Kagami were so close!" Marinette grabbed her pigtails. "I could have sworn that they were dating."

"You know, I don't remember him ever saying that they were dating."

"I guess I just assumed. I thought I saw them kiss."

"I don't think they did. I know he didn't tell Nino that he kissed her, and those two pretty much know everything about each other."

Chat held up his hands. "I'm sorry, who are we talking about right now?"

"It's a boy from our class. You might know him. He was in that fragrance ad that seems to be on every billboard in the city." Alya pointed to the class picture hanging on Marinette's wall. "His name is Adrien."

"Hold on." The intensity in his eyes startled Marinette. "You have a crush on Adrien Agreste?"

"Um, yeah?" She shrugged. "I thought he was dating Kagami, so I tried to make my feelings go away. It didn't really work."

"But why?" His voice had dropped to a whisper. "Why him?"

Marinette thought back to her encounter with Adrien in the rain–the day love became more than just a word in the dictionary. "I accused him of something when we first met, but instead of getting angry and brushing me off, he reached out to me and asked to be friends. Is he one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen in my entire life? Yes, without a doubt. But it was his kindness and selflessness that made me fall for him."

"You really love him, don't you?"

"With all my heart."

"Is that why you were crying that night on the balcony?"

"Yes, but you made me feel a lot better. Thank you for that."

Chat pushed himself off the ground and began pacing around the room. "I...he made you cry! You're so sweet and kind, and he hurt you. How are you not mad at him?"

She reached up and grabbed Chat's hand as he passed in front of her. "It's not his fault! I never had the courage to tell him, so he doesn't know. He's a wonderful person."

"Doesn't sound like it."

"Chat…"

"He broke your heart, Marinette."

She shook her head. "No, if we're being honest, I kind of broke my own heart. I never told him how I felt."

He took a deep breath. "You should tell him."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"What if I'm not the one for him? He deserves to be happy!"

"I have a hunch that things will work out pretty well if you tell him."

"Look, it's not that I haven't tried before." Marinette buried her face in her hands. "But all of those attempts ended in disaster. How would this time be any different?"

"Easy." Alix pointed to the cell phone on Marinette's desk. "I dare you to text him."

Marinette crossed her arms. "Nice try, but it's not my turn right now. It's Chat's."

"Fine. Truth or dare, Chat Noir?"

He plopped down on the ground. "Dare."

"Excellent." Alix grabbed the phone and handed it to Chat. "I dare you to help Marinette send a text to Adrien."

"No!" Marinette snatched her phone out of his hands and held it against her chest. "Why?"

"Because it'll be hilarious."

"But it's my phone!"

"And it's his dare."

Marinette grabbed Alya's arm. "Help."

"No can do, girl." She shook her head. "Alix is right. He got dared."

With a sigh, Marinette reluctantly handed her phone over to Chat. "Please don't do anything too embarrassing."

"Trust me, Princess. I'll make sure you get that date." He took the phone and got to work.

"You may have to spell it out for him. Adrien's a great guy, but he's a little dense in the love department sometimes." Alix's laugh rang through the room.

Chat glared at her. "Rude."

"If you knew him, you'd agree."

"Unfortunately, I have a feeling that you're right. Rude, but right."

Marinette didn't know if she should scream or run away. "Please don't tell him that I like him in a text. That should be something I tell him to his face."

Chat ran his fingers through his hair. "I know. All I did was write out a message asking him to meet up with you in the park tomorrow."

"Did you already send it?"

"Yup."

"I...but...what if he's not free?"

"Oh, he's free."

"How do you know?"

"Uhhhh." Chat scratched the back of his head. "I read somewhere that his father is out of town for the next week. I guess I just assumed that Adrien had nothing on his schedule."

Marinette did her best not to hyperventilate. "Okay, yeah...this is great. Goog...I mean doog...I mean...oh, no, I'm stuttering again! It's been weeks since I've done that. I'm going to make a complete fool out of myself tomorrow!"

"No, you're not." Chat rested a hand on her shoulder.

"How do you know?"

"Because you're amazing, Marinette, and he'd be crazy to not like you back."

His smile melted away her fears and calmed the restless beating of her heart. It was amazing how safe he always made her feel, both in and out of the mask. Marinette knew she was lucky to have him as her partner and her friend.

"I know everyone didn't get a turn to go, but I really don't think we can top that round." Alya walked over to Marinette's computer. "How about we watch that movie now?"

"Works for me!" Marinette leaned against Chat. "Want to sit next to each other?"

He nodded. "Yeah, I do."

While Marinette set up the movie, her guests made a cozy nest of blankets and pillows on the floor.

When she was finished, she took a seat next to Chat. She soon found herself wrapped in his arms with her face against his chest.

Although sitting like this had become a regular occurrence between them, tonight felt different. Instead of the loose hold she was accustomed to, Chat held her as if she'd slip away if he let go. To her surprise, she really enjoyed the change.

As the movie droned on, the steady beating of Chat's heart relaxed every fiber of her being. Reflexively, she reached her arms around him, snuggled closer to his side, and reveled in his warmth.

All too soon, Marinette gave into the heaviness of her eyelids. Still vaguely aware of the world around her, the whispers of an oncoming dream beckoned her further into the depths of her subconscious.

She felt a gentle pressure against the crown of her head before a hazy voice etched its words onto her heart. "You make me happy every single day. You always have, and now it's my turn to make you happy. You're the perfect girl for me."

And for the first time in months, Marinette was at peace.

"I can't wait for tomorrow, Princess."

That night, she had the sweetest of dreams, and the next morning, she woke up with Adrien's response in her notifications.