"Alright everyone, settle down!"
The chatter in the Parisian classroom gradually died down, students settling into their desks and looking forward at the teacher at the head of the room. She had a wide happy smile on her face, and her tasteful festive sweater twinkled charmingly with built in lights. There were a few teachers on the staff who adored the holidays, and Marinette's first teacher of the day was no exception. With Christmas break now a week away every lab or activity the class participated in was inexplicably holiday oriented, but it made Marinette smile. Seeing people passionately enjoying anything was always a treat.
The teacher gleefully swept up a Santa hat from her desk, wanting to start her class off with one of her favorite Christmas traditions.
"As you all know, today we will be drawing names for the class secret Santa! All of you have turned in your lists as asked yes?"
After a scattered confirmation from her students she smiled again and started to stir about the pile of papers in the hat, making her way to the first line of student's, holding it out for a boy named Nino to pick from first. As he reached in she addressed the class again.
"Remember, it's a secret Santa, it's no fun if everyone knows who you've gotten. Please get your presents with the spirit of the game in mind. We will trade gifts on Friday just before class ends, so make sure you have it prepared before then! Keep allergies in mind and…"
Basically everyone started to tune the teacher out as she went through the more boring aspects of the game, each student wondering who they would get and what they would get for them. A few of the students were less enthusiastic about having to get something for someone they might not be close to, but the idea of receiving a gift made everyone happy.
Marinette watched eagerly as the boy who sat in front of her selected a list, trying to peer over his shoulder to see who he had gotten. She internalized a dreamy sigh, starting to dream about how amazing it would be if Adrien had gotten her. Whatever she got she would treasure it for all her life, she was sure of it. Anything from Adrien would be the greatest gift she had ever been given. Just imagining her crush having her in mind, thinking her name while he roamed a shop looking for something for her, she swallowed an infatuated giggle.
As anticipated when the hat got to the brat of the class, an insufferable blonde named Chloe, she immediately publicly denounced who she had gotten and complained, requesting for a redraw. Marinette frowned, sighing as she looked back at the shy Nathaniel who had the bad luck of having Chloe in charge of his gift. She made a mental note to get him a gift herself, since the chances of Chloe actually getting him something was next to none.
Marinette sighed happily, laying her head down in her arms. She loved the atmosphere that surrounded everything at this time of year. The snow outside, the gently flickering lights that decorated every store, the warm drinks and good smells in every home. She smelt like sugar cookies almost every day when the holidays rolled around, and she wasn't complaining (nor was Tikki). Today was an exception though, today was a snickerdoodle day, her parents having made a load for the morning bake. The smell stuck around mostly because Tikki had a generous stash with her in her purse, and thinking about how delighted the kwami had been at the surprise made her smile again. Christmas was very inspiring time for her, catering to all of her quiet pleasures like glowing fireplaces and apple cider. She always had a new line of winter clothes sketched out before break even arrived.
Her thoughts of Christmas time were interrupted as the hat made it to her, and she reached in to grasp at a random piece of paper. She waited until her admittedly nosey best friend was occupied besides her with picking her own list, in case it was her she had gotten, but couldn't hide the quiet gasp when she unfolded her paper.
Her heart sped with sudden excitement, gripping the paper tight to her chest, praising her astounding good luck for the thousandth time since she had gotten it.
Alya looked over, guessing who the designer had been assigned to without even having to look. There was only one person around who could make her bounce with excitement in her seat just by writing their name on a piece of paper. She laughed quietly, giving her a happy thumbs up but leaving her be, knowing that she was probably desperately planning her gift already. Man that girl had it bad, but it was a lot of fun to watch. Plus, who knows? Maybe the perfect gift could be exactly what Adrien needed to finally notice her friend's feelings.
Adrien himself was reading through the list he had received, analyzing the short summary of Marinette's likes and interests and trying to come up with a nice present. He was glad he had gotten someone he was friends with rather than just a classroom acquaintance, and started to memorize the short list in an effort to maybe one day get closer to the kind girl. She as incredibly shy and they never managed to talk much despite his desire to do so, but he still liked to consider her a friend.
- Cute things!
He smiled at the list, glad to note that he already knew those things. Still though, what should he get her? She really did like fashion, and he had spotted her designing cool winter clothes (a few of which he genuinely wished were physical because he would absolutely wear them), so maybe she might like some bit of clothing? He didn't know her size obviously, or her taste really, but maybe something simple from a line of his fathers. Maybe it would make her happy to get something early from his father's winter line. He considered it, jotting the idea down so he wouldn't forget. He penned it right next to another list of ideas for a certain spotted heroine, frowning again when he saw all of his crossed out handwriting. He repressed a sigh, closing his notebook and staring out the window as he tried once again to figure out what to get for his lady. He was getting her a gift there was no question about that, but he didn't know much about her personal life so he didn't know what sorts of things she liked.
Would she hit him if he bought her a Cat Noir sweater? The image made him chuckle.
Everyone seemed amped after getting their picks, having a secret to hide exciting for most. Adrien didn't really get that feeling, having secrets was pretty normal for him and the secrets he did have were much bigger than whose name he got from a Santa hat. He often liked to think about how his classmates might react if they all learned that he was in fact one of Paris' heroes, Cat Noir.
Nino would probably be angry honestly, but eventually think it was awesome. Alya would be devastated that she hadn't figured it out (though she did occasionally get uncomfortably close) and Chloe would probably… eh he didn't think on that one much.
He hid a smile as he considered Marinette's reaction. She would probably be really excited, she was a fan wasn't she? Maybe he should get her a Cat Noir themed gift.
Was buying gifts themed after himself conceited? Uh… maybe a bit. He would probably stick to his first idea.
"Don't forget! These are due Friday! Now, let's get class started."
There was a collective groan which the teacher accepted with a chuckle, nodding her head in agreement but going about her job regardless. Still though, she put on quiet Christmas music in the background to keep the smiles on their faces as they started the lesson for the day.
There was a generally happy feeling on the campus that day, especially for a Monday morning, but an upcoming break usually had that effect on kids. Adrien himself had mixed feelings about the time off, knowing that left more time for Cat Noir to peruse the city but also meaning that his friend's would be out of town for the most part. Nino left Friday night to visit family, Alya going on a Christmas vacation and most others doing something similar. He tried to focus on his freedom to be Cat though, smiling at the idea of running around in the snow even if he did end up freezing his tail off. Hopefully Ladybug would be around, Christmas really got some people down for one reason or another and he was expecting a few akumas to crop up. Mostly he just wanted to spend time with her though. She would undoubtedly have more time to patrol for the same reason as him and he liked to imagine that she might accept his coat and curl up against him for warmth on a rooftop somewhere in Paris.
Wistful thinking, but it made him smile.
He went through the rest of the school day without much to report, having fun with the Christmas merriment around him even if he had never really celebrated it much himself. He liked how happy it made people, even if you didn't celebrate it or care for it much just being surrounded by ecstatic people could really make your day better.
After the final bell rang he looked up as Marinette rushed past him, shouting goodbye to Alya and running off through the snow to head home, and as he watched her shiver from the sudden chill and pull her scarf around her his resolve to get her something warm grew. He idly wondered why she was in such a hurry, but the thought didn't stick for long as he headed towards his waiting driver for a photoshoot he had been dreading. He sighed, opening the door and saying his last goodbye to Nino who gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.
"Have fun dude."
"Yeah. Thanks man, see you later."
Adrien got in the car, enjoying the quiet Christmas carols playing through the speakers. His driver might be pretty scary but he was actually a huge softy for the holiday. He had a little Santa pin on his jacket and everything. He reached into his own jacket to warm Plagg up a little with his hands, feeling the tiny cat like creature shiver against him, wondering what to get the kwami for Christmas. Cheese probably, but maybe… festive cheese? He had no idea.
Elsewhere in the city Marinette was running through the snow, slipping once or twice but never quite falling. The cold air stung her lungs a bit as she ran but she couldn't care less, nothing could spoil her mood. She was going to get Adrien the absolutely perfect gift, and she was going to make it herself to boot. She didn't want to make another scarf, even though he wouldn't actually know it was a repeat idea, so she was thinking something a bit bigger and more complicated. She had recently fallen in love with a new jacket design of hers, and she was positive he would like it. Not to mention she knew he would look fantastic in it, it would complement him perfectly! She would never admit it but she had actually designed it with him in mind originally… and had planned on maybe making it as a present but now she had the perfect excuse without looking awkward! She was over the moon, planning every detail. She would present it in a box, carefully folded to give a clear view of the jacket's biggest features and tucked in with tissue paper (light blue to contrast the dark black the jacket would be). On top of the tissue paper just beneath the lid would be a card, simple and sweet, saying "Merry Christmas Adrien! – Marinette", maybe even "Love, Marinette" if she could work up the courage. The box would be cute and festive and given alongside a small bag filled with caramels and chocolates, his favorite sweets, and some candy canes. It would be absolutely perfect, and put together and the secret Santa exchange would force her to go through with it. She would never ever stiff Adrien out of a present just before break because she was a coward, and even if she stalled till the last second she would still have to give it to him herself.
The thought of having no way out frightened her, but she knew she needed it and it would ensure that she made it as good as possible. She would have done that regardless but now she knew she had to!
A laugh escaped her as she made a detour to a fabric shop, getting everything she would need to get the project started. She agonized over the proper buttons and zippers, special ordering them to come in the next day instead of settling, and ran off again for home. Her homework was light, and as soon as it was done she would begin. She only had a week, and it had to be perfect. She needed all the time she could get.
The days passed with a merry air cloaking Paris, school progressing with some hefty tests but little homework in preparation for the break. People laughed and waved to each other in the streets, the cold biting but not agonizing. The students had snowball fights and gossiped through class about who was going where, and when school would finally end even Adrien's typical busy schedule had a fairly consistent warmth to it. It was little things, like hot chocolate on set of photoshoots or bright shining lights hanging from buildings on the drive home, but still enough to keep his mood relatively positive. He was letting himself enjoy it.
It was after school on Wednesday that he buckled down and committed to finding his presents for everyone, having been stalled the past two days thanks to all the things he was obligated to do. Wednesday had the first big gap that he could use for shopping, and with a pocketful of cash and a thick coat he started to wander the city.
He had been carted around in a car for too long and wanted space to be alone and walk, his schedule cutting into his hero time as well and effectively cooping him up. As long as there wasn't actively somewhere he needed to be his father didn't keep too close of tabs on him, and in the driver's good mood it didn't take a lot to convince him to let him go off on his own. A lot of the adults working under his father sympathized with the boy and were willing to look the other way sometimes.
Nino was easy. He stopped in an electronic shop and bought him new headphones, the best pair available. It wasn't cheap but that didn't matter much to him, he was allowed a budget for Christmas shopping and he had no problem spoiling his friend's when he had the option. Nino would probably protest, but he wanted to get him something nice.
He found a nice phone cover for Alya, grinning stupidly at the Ladybug pattern it had and knew she would like it. He resisted getting one for himself, trying at least a little to keep his obsession to himself.
For Marinette he took a little longer, finding a particularly massive upper end department store and wandering inside. He had wanted to snag something not yet available to the public, but he had gotten caught trying to sneak something from the photoshoot and scolded pretty harshly, so he had to settle for something else. He wanted something warm and practical, doing his best to imagine her in different things but nothing seemed to match.
It was when he got to the hats that inspiration struck, and he started looking through the stylish loose knitted beanies. She would look great in a beanie! As he sorted through the colors he found a deep scarlet cap that he figured would look perfect for her. It would sit on her dark hair and play off of her eyes, and her light skin as well.
He stopped, blushing a little and deciding to perhaps get off that train of thought before it went much further. She really would look nice in it, his imagination convincing him of that and also embarrassing him slightly, why exactly he wasn't sure.
He shook it off, snatching it up as well as a matching knitted dark red scarf and heading triumphantly for the counter. It would do nicely, and he had the idea of ordering confectionary chocolates to be picked up the day of as well since she enjoyed sweet things.
He was over all pleased with his finds thus far, but sighed as he thought of the other person he needed to get a gift for. If only shopping for Ladybug was as easy as shopping for his other friends.
"Today's the day Marinette!" Tikki cheered, flying in a quick excited circle over her charge's workspace. On the desk was a currently empty powder blue box with white snowflakes printed across it. Matching light blue almost white tissue paper lie in wait besides it as well as a shimmery dark blue bow to be tied on top. Marinette herself was sitting in her chair, pulling her hair out over the simple card to be placed inside.
"Make sure you sign it this time," Tikki said with a giggle, earning a glare from the designer.
"Okay… I hope you have a Merry Christmas. From, Marinette. Is that good? I figured love was too strong…"
"You'd be right about that, I think it sounds good! Pack the jacket, we should get going."
Marinette took a deep breath to steady herself and got to her feet, turning towards a mannequin currently sporting her present for Adrien.
It was a long style, black, double breasted trench coat made to keep him warm while also looking incredibly stylish in her opinion. Her special ordered buttons had been perfect, casted with black metal that shined silver in the light but faded seamlessly with dim lighting. She had poured over the details, working diligently at the unique cut and look of it, making sure it was perfect.
Normally her anxiety over impressing Adrien would push her to find some flaw with her work, but she took her passion seriously and was delighted to find it was everything her vision had intended it to be.
She gathered it up, the material weighty in her hands, and delicately folded it to fit in her specially prepared box. It molded to the container and she wrapped the paper around, tucking in the card and putting the lid in place.
Getting the bow just right took a few cracks, but eventually she was forced to take another deep breath and prepare to leave, doing her best not to psych herself out.
With her bag of treats and her present in hand she strode confidently out the door, as ready as she would ever be to give Adrien her gift. Having to turn back to actually bring her backpack as well sort of threw off her momentum, but she made it to school just as the bell rang, her hands trembling but not from the cold.
She couldn't even look at him when she walked in, already incredibly nervous, but she swallowed back the lump in her throat and took her seat behind him. She had to be brave, she was proud of her gift she didn't want to spoil it by looking like an idiot while trying to give it to him.
Each student had something on their desk, even Chloe though hers was a just an envelope and probably only a giftcard. Marinette had packed extra candy canes and a fresh sketchpad for Nathanel in her backpack though, so she knew he at least had that. Alya and Nino were talking happily over the space between their seats, trying to guess who the other had gotten based on the boxes they had when the teacher arrived, looking even more festive than she had the rest of the week in a bright green Christmas tree sweater.
"Good Morning class! It's the last day before break and the day of our secret Santa! I can see you all got your gifts, and I know you are all excited so we can start the trade now, I didn't really plan on teaching today anyways." The class laughed at the lighthearted statement and the teacher continued, saying, "I will call a student's name and they will say who their present is for. They will then go over and hand them their present and whoever receives it will then say who their gift is for and give it to them until we get to everyone in the room okay? Let's get started."
The chain started with Max, who got Chloe, who got Nathanel, who got Ivan, who go Alix, who got Alya, who got Kim, who got Nino, who got Sabrina who got Mylene, who got Rose, who got Juleka, who got Max. Eventually everyone had traded gifts except for…
"Oh! It looks like Adrien and Marinette must have gotten each other, alright you two exchange gifts and then we can open them."
Marinette froze up, staring wide eyed at the stunningly handsome boy who flipped around happily in his seat to smile at her.
"We got each other nice! Well uh here you go," he said cheerily, holding out a simple Christmas themed gift bag with tissue paper sticking out.
Adrien had gotten her a present.
She hesitated a moment too long, stuttering out a nervous, "T-thank you!" as she grabbed it from him, flushing as he chuckled at her shyness. After another beat too long she suddenly remembered her own gift, her face a dark red as she held it out to him, managing to smile.
Adrien returned the smile, trying to ease her nerves and took the box happily, commenting aloud at how nice it was. He already had a pretty sure feeling that her gift was going to trump his in a big way, her box alone was impressive looking and it felt sort of heavy. Suddenly it was him who was a little nervous. He really hoped he didn't look like a jerk, but he honestly did think it would look good on her.
"Alright everyone, go ahead and open your gifts, remember to thank your Santa!"
The teacher started to play cheerful Christmas music as the excited clamor of her students flooded the room. Marinette was totally frozen, only managing to jerk into motion when Alya prodded her with a laugh. Knowing what Adrien had gotten her was the only thing keeping her from actively watching him open her gift, she was still observing the scene from the corner of her eye though.
Adrien was being gentle with removing the bow, wanting to keep it intact as much as possible, so Marinette beat him to the punch and he laughed in relief when he heard her gasp in delight.
"Adrien!" she said his name in a high pitched squeal, pulling out the cap and scarf that was only just redder than her face. She held the soft expensive knitted material in her hands, and he loved the way her eyes shone with happiness. She put them on immediately, snuggling into the scarf and giggling in a way that was absolutely adorable, he had to admit. He was also pleased to see that he had been right about it looking good on her, a few of their classmates already complimenting her on it.
"You look nice in it," he said happily, relieved his gift had been received well, "I thought you would. I'm glad you like it!" He wondered a little too late if he should have kept his thought to himself, but she seemed so stunned and overjoyed that he soon changed his mind. Seeing her so happy was worth any amount of teasing from Nino.
Marinette pulled out the chocolates and bit in to one, needing the comfort food for her fried brain, and wasn't surprised to find how rich it was. He really went the extra mile, and she was very nearly hyperventilating because of it.
Her thoughts were interrupted though by a very loud and very sudden, "WOAH, WHAT!?"
She jumped at the shout, and looked up from her chocolate to see Adrien standing by his desk, holding up her jacket with a look of disbelief and amazement.
"WOAH THAT JACKET IS SICK!" Nino jumped up, momentarily forgetting his own gift and running to Adrien who was laying the jacket across his desk so he could examine it more closely.
A lot of the other students were starting to gather around as well and Marinette had no idea what to do, especially when Adrien turned to her in wonderment and said, "M-Marinette did you make this!?"
She hid in her new scarf when her voice failed her but she still had the ability to nod, and Adrien looked back down at the jacket like it was made of gold.
"This- this is unbelievable Marinette this is AMAZING!" he exclaimed, throwing off his own jacket in favor of his new one.
"You look awesome in that Adrien!" Alya complimented, nudging her friend excitedly as her creation was so well received by her crush. He did a turn to show Marinette and he really really did look great. It fit him perfectly, as was her intention, and looked incredibly dashing whether open or buttoned. What was the most dashing though was his ecstatic expression, looking as if he would burst from joy.
"I don't even know what to say, thank you SO much this is unbelievable! I- just thank you!"
Marinette was so proud and excited to have earned his praise that she spoke up, stammering out, "I-it's no problem! I'm really glad you like it… M-merry Christmas Adrien."
He grinned and laughed in his happiness, cheering, "Merry Christmas Marinette!"
Adrien turned to show Nino the inner pockets and the material, bouncing in place a little in excitement. Alya gripped Marinette firmly by the shoulder and silently freaked out with her while the boys were distracted, the designer looking like she was going to faint from joy but didn't have the time to because Adrien was suddenly at her desk again, firing off dozens of questions that she happily answered even when she was a stuttering mess.
"All I got you was a dumb scarf and hat I'm so sorry… this is so awesome I can get you something else t-"
"No!" Marinette cut him off, shocking him with the intense way she denied him. She gripped her scarf in her hands almost protectively, saying, "I love them! They are amazing don't get me anything else, I really like these! This is more than enough!"
"Are you sure?" he questioned, looking down at his warm, comfortable, cool new jacket and really feeling like he owed her something more. Plus he had a whole bag of caramels and candy canes and such from her as well, he absolutely needed to get her something else.
"I'm sure, I love your present Adrien, honestly, thank you."
He met her eyes and realized that her defending his gift to her was some of the first sentences she had ever said to him without a single hesitation or stutter. He had heard her confidence before, when she stood up to Chloe or joked with Alya, but she was rarely ever at ease around him. Something about him made her shy and it had always made him sad, but she had spoken with confidence, trying to reassure him and it was awesome. Confidence looked good on her too.
"Okay," he conceded, a small smile on his face as he saw her wearing something he had gotten for her. There was still a nagging desire to do something though, but he realized he didn't have much time if she was leaving like the others.
"Are you going out of town for Christmas break?" he asked her abruptly, his head tilting a little with the question.
Marinette started a little in surprise, but shook her head no.
"So you're gonna be in town?"
A small nod, her big blue eyes innocent looking and wide. He smiled.
"Me too. Maybe we can hang out then? We can do something, my treat, then we'd be even."
Marinette squeaked in shock and he had to repress a chuckle, not wanting to embarrass her. He was actually very proud of her for being as brave as she was, he knew he somehow intimidated her.
"Y-you don't owe me anything, b-but I- I'd love to." He had to smile at that, how even when she was saying yes she still had to reassure him. She was very conscious of how the people around her were feeling, it was cool to see.
He laughed happily, turning momentarily to grab his bag of treats but turning back around to continue facing her desk. He settled in to form a circle with Marinette, Alya and Nino, wanting to spend the rest of class interacting with them. He wrapped his jacket tighter around him and continued to boast about how well made and great it was, loving how happy it made his friend. He wasn't just trying to boost her ego though he genuinely loved the jacket, it was incredible. Not only that, but the coat was so intricate and unique, he knew she must have been working on it tirelessly all week. He shot a look at her hands while Nino and Alya led the conversation, and he could see all the needle pricks and sewing wounds dotting her fingers. She put so much effort into making it for him, designing something just for him for his secret Santa. He wasn't just blown away, he was touched.
She didn't need to do that, she could have just gotten him a giftcard and called it a day, but she didn't. She went out of her way to make something incredible for him, with tiny details like using one of his favorite colors for the box and bow and the caramels gifted alongside it to make it special.
Marinette was so sweet and thoughtful, he wasn't at all surprised to see that she had gotten a backup gift for Nathaniel since he got stuck with Chloe, the action fit her personality perfectly. The red headed boy had been so flustered at the gift it made everyone smile, glad to see his day had been saved by Marinette's kindness. While she was away from the circle though, having gotten up to give the secondary gift, Nino spoke quietly to Adrien.
"I can't believe how great your jacket is dude, and she made it herself how cool is that? Mari can be pretty awesome."
Adrien smiled, looking down at the coat for the hundredth time and nodded in agreement. "Yeah she's amazing, I've never gotten anything this cool before."
Alya grinned, overjoyed by how much attention Marinette was getting from the boy of her dreams, she had even managed to say yes to his offer to hang out! Adrien was finally noticing her, and throughout the rest of the school day, he never stopped noticing her. Alya would spot him, at one point or another in every class they had staring at her and the way she looked in his presents, and once she could have even sworn he was smiling to himself. He spoke to her several times throughout the day, making plans with her to see her again, trading phone numbers and laughing at her nervous jokes.
Adrien found himself incredibly proud of the girl, and happy whenever he saw her. She would stutter and stumble over her words, but she was getting better the more they spoke and he couldn't be more pleased. He wanted to make her feel at ease with him, to prove himself worthy in a way of the present she had given him. He would be a good friend to his princess, make her smile whenever he could.
One of the times they spoke again, running into each other on the way to their last class, he was ecstatic to see more pieces of her personality emerge from behind her shyness. She had even teased him for making a lame joke and rolled her eyes, the wit and humor surprising and delighting him. She was still incredibly easy to fluster though, something that admittedly gave him a confidence boost. Just before his driver arrived at the end of school he had seen her slip on a patch of ice and had soared across the short distance to catch her before she fell, grinning cattishly at how red she gotten because of it.
"Careful now, it's pretty slippery out here." He resisted the urge to call her princess, helping steady her once again as she sputtered something unintelligible.
"It's a bit cold for you to walk home, are you sure you'll be alright? Do you want a ride?" he found himself asking, the concern genuine as his driver pulled up.
She was still choking on her words, but buried herself in the soft fabric of her new scarf and shook her head, her smile still showing in her eyes.
"I-I'm p-plenty warm now with these thanks. I-I'll be okay."
He smiled, reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder in a friendly gesture before saying, "Well okay then. I'll see you soon okay? Merry Christmas!"
She was slow to respond, but just as he was getting into his car he heard her squeak, "Merry Christmas!" and it made him laugh happily.
His driver smiled at how the young master laughed, reading in to the happy grin on his face and the red cheeked girl waving at the car and enjoying what he saw. He deserved someone nice like that, maybe then he wouldn't be so lonely through Christmas.
As the car drove for home and the partition was raised, Plagg shot out from the bag resting on the floor and gave a whistle as he examined the coat himself. He had been waiting all day to get a proper tour of his new sleeping space, whizzing around his boy to pick the coziest pocket while Adrien snuggled deeper into the warm material with a smile on his face.
'Thanks Princess,' he thought to himself, holding open one side of the jacket for Plagg to fly inside.
'I love it.'