Chapter 21

The winter festive season in the city of lights gave birth always the marchés de Noel. Christmas markets with iconic clusters of wooden chalets and boasted an assortment of holiday treats and hand-crafted gifts. Marinette's favourite were the Trocadero markets with its beautiful backdrop: the Eiffel Tower embroidered a decorative and sparkling cornucopia of Christmas lights.

They had arrived a few hours before sunset to meander through the markets and make last minute purchases and now, on the edge of twilight, the colours of the place became truly magical. Twinkling lights and colourful stalls, they wandered through looking at the ornaments and trinkets on sale.

Adrien adjusted his glasses and itched the bridge of his nose as he looked out at the sea of people making last minute Christmas purchases. Smiling at a small child riding on her father's shoulders, his eyes landed on her Chat Noir paw print balloon. "It's amazing, isn't it?"

Marinette, in her multi-layers of winter clothing and her newly made hooded scarf, looked up from the stall of handmade wood carvings. "What is?"

"I mean, normally, its Ladybug merchandise everywhere. But look. All the kids with cat-ears and the balloons with paw prints." He bounced on his toes. "The last stall I saw was sold out!"

Marinette smiled at him. "You're adorkable."

He smiled. "I just really like being appreciated."

"I know."

He glanced up. "Even the Eiffel Tower has green cat paws climbing up it."

She looped her arm through his elbow and hugged it. "I'm so happy for you."

"You're jealous, that's what you are."

Eyes twinkling, she pulled a sombre face and nodded. "Of course. Completely salty."

"If I brought you cat ears, would you wear them?"

"Only if you buy yourself Ladybug bobble headband."

"Deal." Placing his hand over the top of hers on his elbow, he led them off in search of a novelty stall.

It had taken two days of blurred vision, squinting and headaches before Adrien decided that his sight wasn't getting any better and requested an optometrist appointment. His father, still in Milan, reacted with surprise and confusion and had Nathalie organise it. A visit later, new prescription glasses, contacts and the possibility of surgery in spring and the world was bright and clear. Marinette had freckles again, a sight he'd dearly missed.

Plagg modified the filters on his mask to accommodate for his vision and Chat Noir had taken the necessary steps to make sure he was fighting fit and ready to defend. Dear little Tikki had gone in and out of sleep, but with the added warmth of Marinette's superheated room, and the ability to stay in the warmth instead of hiding close to Marinette, she would be awake when needed. With Sabine and Tom watching Tikki, they would be able to deliver her while Chat Noir held off an akuma.

They'd yet to try their plan though. Hawk Moth had been quiet, whether because he was off licking his wounded ego after having created an akuma which caused Paris to shut down for two days and probably prevented him from doing anything too, or he was biding his time for something big, or even had gone into hibernation himself, but it didn't matter. Christmas approached, most people were happy and joyful and nothing could dampen Adrien's spirits.

Chloé and Adrien had hit the mall together and shopped, something they hadn't done in a long time, and Adrien recognised a similarity between the girls; Chloé's unfathomable stamina while shopping for fashionable items was akin to Marinette's thirst for fabric. Both had keen eyes and knew what they wanted and went after it with a passion, searching until they found something perfect. Adrien wondered if that was perhaps a way for them to become forge an alliance of sorts. Chloé had been true to her word and took everything she knew about Marinette into account, which turned out to be a great deal more than Adrien, and perhaps Chloé herself, had suspected.

Adrien had been incredibly surprised when Chloé had shoved him into one of the jewellery shops and pointed out her suggestions. Not gaudy or flashy, but not a cheap piece either. Dainty and pretty. Something which reflected Marinette. Chloé's second choice (because her first had been earrings and Adrien knew that'd never happen) now nestled in his pocket ready to surprise his lady tonight.

As much as he wanted to spend some time with Marinette, his father flew back from Milan tonight to spend Réveillon with him and that was something he could not pass up. Réveillon was the one time of the year he was guaranteed to have some attention. No modelling. No designing. A day when his father wouldn't even get dressed until late. Presents in the den, a roaring fire and the Yule log.

Besides, her family was heading out of Paris to go visit her Mamie Dupain for the holiday. Marinette's family was too large to bring them all into Paris and settle in their small place and, since Hawk Moth had been quiet, they decide they could risk it for the day. And he was left with explicit instructions not to preform Calamity under any circumstances. They hoped, with her out of Paris, Hawk Moth's ability to target people in their vicinity would be impaired.

They finally found a novelty stall which still had stock and Adrien purchased them a set of headbands each. Repositioning Marinette's hooded scarf, he plonked the cat ears on her head. "Sexy."

She giggled.

His own Ladybug bobbles took a little bit of rearranging because the headband caught on the frames of his glasses the first time he tried. "Still not used to this," he muttered.

She straightened his glasses. "I know." Bopping him on the nose she sidled closer to him and gave him an inviting half-lidded look. "But you look pretty hot in them."

Grinning, he ducked his head down to kiss her. "Glad you think so."

"Psst," Plagg said from inside Marinette's hood where he'd been lounging. "Psst, Adrien!"

Sighing, he pulled a fraction away from Marinette so he could talk to his kwami. "Yes?"

"Can we go back to that trinket place?"

"What trinket place?" Adrien asked.

"You know the one, right, Marinette? With all the rings all lined up in rows?"

She considered and tapped her lip. "Um… oh yes! Why?"

Plagg dropped his eyes and wrung his hands together, then dove deeper inside Marinette's hood to whisper to her. Marinette's eyes widened and a delighted look crossed her face. "C'mon, kitty!" She said, grabbing his hand. "It's important!"

Adrien let Marinette negotiate through the crowd of people until she reached the stall she wanted. He looked at the rings curiously and waited while Marinette rang her fingers over a line of them. Plagg was obviously talking in her ear, but Adrien couldn't hear him over the sound. She reached a dainty daisy chain ring and picked it up. "This one please," she said to the stall operator and reached for her purse.

Adrien beat her too it, handing over cash before she could extract her purse from her bag. The stall operator smiled and handed Marinette the ring in a small box.

"I was going to—"

"He's my kwami," he replied. "What's he want a ring for anyway?"

Marinette giggled. "It's a present for Tikki. She's going to wear it on her head."

Adrien laughed. "Awesome teasing material. Weren't you complaining about human sentimentalities just this morning, Plagg?"

Marinette's hood grumbled and she said, "I think it's cute." She paused. "Yes, we can by some cotton candy."

"No, they don't have cheese flavoured," Adrien added.

"Adrien!"

His head snapped up and he half-turned, looking for the voice in the crowd. Seeing the flash of blonde hair, he raised his hand in greeting. "Hi Chloé," he said as she reached him, dragging Sabrina behind her. "I didn't know you came to the markets."

"Oh, this is Sabrina's choice as part of her present," Chloé dismissed while Marinette and Sabrina exchanged Christmas greetings. "But it's quaint and enjoyable." She smiled. "Merry Christmas!"

Grinning back, he hugged her. "Merry Christmas," he replied and air kissed her cheek, then her other cheek. "You too, Sabrina," he said, and gave the smaller girl a one-armed hug and dual cheek kisses too.

Sabrina went bright red. "Thank you, Adrien. Merry Christmas."

Stepping back, he wove his arm around Marinette's hips.

Chloé plucked at the Ladybug antennae on Adrien's head. "Idiot." She cast her eyes to Marinette, who waited with a tiny frown. "I like your hood."

Marinette's eyebrow shot upward. "Thanks."

"It's stylish. And Ladybug has one like it. Where's you buy it from?"

"I made it," Marinette said, taken aback. "I copied her design and added a few embellishments of my own."

Chloé glanced at Adrien's antennae, then Marinette's ears. "I didn't know you were a fan of Ladybug."

Marinette's lips quirked up. "More of a Chat Noir fan."

"Oh, me too!" Sabrina said and bounced up and down. "He's so cute!"

Chloé flopped her hand. "Oh, that's right, you have a crush on him, don't you?"

Adrien cleared his throat. "He did just save the city."

Chloé held up a finger to retort, thought better of it and nodded. "Point taken. I guess he's okay. I can't complain if the boy wants to flounce around in skin tight gear."

Marinette barely managed to conceal a snort of laughter. "No. He's very nice to look at. Have you seen him flex yet?" She let out a playful growl.

Adrien felt his eyes widen at Marinette's growl. He'd never heard her make such a noise before and was caught between a desperate need for her to make it again and cursing the fact that they weren't alone right now.

Sabrina sighed. "Oh yes."

"He does have that going for him," Chloé admitted.

"We were about to have dinner," Sabrina said. "Did you want to join us?"

"No, we have prior arrangements, but thanks. We should go," he said to Marinette, then smiled at Sabrina and Chloé. "Merry Christmas."

"Oh, yes," Marinette replied. "Merry Christmas, Sabrina. Merry Christmas, Chloé."

Chloé nodded. "Merry Christmas."

"That was… weird," Marinette said as Adrien pulled her away and they strolled toward the bridge across the river.

He scoffed. "Almost as weird as listening to you girls growl over how hot I am. Um… about that growl—"

Marinette didn't seem to hear him. "She was civil!"

"Well, I asked her to be."

Marinette blinked at him. "Wow."

"What?"

"Nothing. Just… wow."

"Is that a good wow?"

Marinette said, "I don't mean to sound… ungrateful… it's… just hard to believe, that's all."

"People change."

She nodded, then smiled. "Christmas miracle."

Adrien snorted. "Let's get Plagg his cotton candy."

After making their final purchases, they slipped out of the crowd of people occupying the market. The decline in people meant a slight decrease in temperature and lack of a wind break, especially the wind that skipped across the cold water of La Seine. Marinette tucked her hands into her pockets and hunched her shoulders. Her bag of purchases slid down to her wrist and hung above her pocket. Adrien, keeping his arm around her waist, switched sides with her so she wouldn't be in the wind.

As they stepped onto the bridge, Adrien put his free hand in his pocket to keep it warm and he fingered the little box he was keeping safe. He wanted to give it to her at the perfect moment and preferably before they reached her home. "Nice night."

"Cold night," Marinette replied. "I can't wait to get inside."

"Aww, bugaboo, aren't I hot enough for you?"

She leaned into him. "You're pretty warm."

"Just warm? I'm hurt."

"Right now, even your 'hotness' can't tempt me away from a hot chocolate and a blanket."

"How about; hot chocolate, blanket and a purring kitty?"

"Any purring kitty?" she teased. "I saw a cute ginger one roaming around back there. I bet if I go back, I can tempt him with treats and—"

"And I've already given him the clear signal this human's not up for grabs," Adrien said, possessive.

She laughed. "Wow. You're jealous."

"If I have to rub my scent all over you to keep strays away, I will."

In the pale light, Marinette flushed, whether from embarrassment or anticipation, Adrien wasn't sure. Her smile suggested it might be the latter and when she spoke, her voice was a silky purr which sent a shiver down his spine. "I'm… intrigued. And I think maybe I'd like a demonstration."

Adrien grinned. "More kitten kisses. Gotcha."

"Please."

"Also, apparently you like it when I flex. I should do more then, huh?"

The silkiness in her voice intensified and did wonderful things to his ego. "Oh yes. Definitely."

"You humans have really weird courting rituals," Plagg muttered.

"Oh, like you haven't been rubbing your scent all over Tikki," Adrien replied.

"Tikki doesn't pick up strays," Plagg said.

"That you know of," Adrien teased. "Cause there's a grey cat hanging around their place at the moment I've been chasing away."

"What?" Plagg blurted.

Marinette snorted and reached inside her hood. "He's teasing. Go back to sleep, Plagg. We'll be home soon."

"Good, 'cause I don't know how much longer I can listen to you two flirt. It's disgusting."

"You're just jealous," Adrien said. "If Tikki was here, you'd be curled up with her flirting yourself."

"What I do in my own time is none of your business."

"And what we do in our time is our business," Adrien responded. "Speaking of which." Turning, he pulled Marinette over to the side of the bridge. Picking her up, he planted her on the concrete rim, just on the edge of the light from a lamp post. "I wanted to give you your Christmas present without anyone around."

Her eyebrows shot up. "I thought—"

"Is that a hint?" Plagg muttered, interrupting whatever Marinette had been going to say.

"Plagg!" Adrien complained.

"Fine. Fine. I'm not here."

Adrien sighed and pushed his glasses up. Nudging apart her legs so he could stand between them he put his hand into his pocket. "Um…"

"I thought we were going were going to wait until later. Yours is still at home."

"I… well… I want your undivided attention." He cupped her hand and lifted it ahead of her, holding her palm up. Placing the small box on her palm he said, "Merry Christmas."

Her eyes widened as she saw the label on the box. "Adrien, I can't—"

"No takebacks. It's Christmas, I can spoil you," he responded and opened the box for her. A rose gold necklace with an open heart pendant and a pink sapphire flower arranged in the middle of the heart. Humble and beautiful, like his lady, it nestled snuggly in the box waiting for her to wear.

"But this… it's gorgeous," she breathed and her fingers caressed the heart pendant. "But I—"

"I didn't go overboard," he assured her. "I wanted you to feel comfortable about wearing it."

She looked sceptical but also completely enthralled in the necklace. Wavering, she picked up the pendant.

Full of nerves cause by her silence, he shuffled. "Do you like it?"

"Oh, yes," she breathed. The chain slid out of the box and she fumbled for the clasp. Putting the box on her lap, she slid her hands beneath the hood of her scarf to put it on. Resting the pendant over her jacket, she stroked her fingers against it. "I love it."

He grinned at her. "Good," he said, leaning in for a kiss. Marinette draped her arms over his shoulders and tilted her head so his glasses didn't bump or fog up, not that he really cared if they did. It'd been awkward the first time while he wore them, but practice made perfect and they were getting better every time.

Besides, kissing until his glasses fogged from their intermingling breath, especially when it was so cold, was plain sexy.

Splayed fingers on the small of her back, he kept their kisses slow and easy. They were in public and passion and freedom were better suited to private places. Her fingers danced at the nape of his neck, toying with his hair and not quite scratching but teasing enough that he wished she did.

"Oh my god, get a room!"

Startled, Adrien turned his head, bumping against Marinette as he did and knocking his glasses askew. Looking at the blur that was Nino, he fixed them. "Hey!"

"You go gurl," Alya crooned, jumping up on the concrete railing beside Marinette.

"It'd like to, but I keep getting interrupted," Marinette replied, then stretched over to one arm hug her best friend. "Merry Christmas! Are you going to the markets?"

"Yeah, we're having snacks before Réveillon. You?"

"Coming from," Marinette said. "My family's due to head to Mamie's soon."

Nino pulled a face and Adrien as they bumped fists. "Ick. Girlfriend's parentals. I feel ya, bro."

"Marinette's parents like Adrien," Alya teased.

"Hey, yours like me!"

"And yet you just implied spending time with them was something bad."

"She's got you there," Adrien said. "My father's flying in for Réveillon, so I won't be spending a lot of time with Marinette anyway."

Alya cupped her fingers underneath Marinette's new necklace and raised her eyebrows. Marinette's eyes shot to Adrien as she smiled and Alya's own smile bloomed.

The four of them chatted for a while about their up and coming Christmas and making plans to meet up as a group a few days after to have their own celebration, before moving onto other topics. When Marinette began to shiver and blow into her gloved hands to keep them warm, Alya bounced down. "Well, I'm starved," she said, pulling Nino along with her. "Merry Christmas guys!"

"Merry Christmas!"

"Can we go now?" Plagg whined. "I want to give my girl her present too!"

Taking Marinette's hips, he helped her down from the railing, even though she didn't need it, and wrapped his arm around her.

Sabine and Tom looked over from the kitchen as Adrien and Marinette arrived back at Marinette's home. "Here they are!" Sabine said, beaming.

"We were about to send a rescue paw-ty for you," Tom said, packing a Tupperware container into a cooler.

"Paw-lease," Adrien quipped. "We weren't cat-napped."

"It's fur-eezing out there," Tom replied. "Didn't want you to be a cool-cat."

Grinning, Adrien said, "Snow joke how cold it is."

"Well, I'm glad you 'wrapped' up your date," Tom said with a wink, "because otherwise you would have Christ-missed out."

"Oh, I regret everything," Marinette said, rolling her eyes.

"Don't let them bug you, dear," Sabine said with a straight face. "They just don't know how to bee-have."

Marinette's eyes blew wide, while Adrien struggled not to laugh and Tom looked delighted. "Nope!" she announced, turning around to head up her stairs to her bedroom. "Nope! I'm out. Call me when you can be adults."

"We're just 'kitten' you," Sabine called as she packed up a dish. "We have to leave in thirty minutes."

"Okay! Adrien, c'mon. You can have your present!"

He grinned at Tom and Sabine and bounced up the stairs behind Marinette. Plagg zipped off to find Tikki, clutching his gift for her in his paws. Marinette hung her jacket over the back of her chair and picked up a large rectangular box sitting on her table.

"I feel a little embarrassed," she said, holding out the box to him. "It's nowhere near as nice as what you gave me." Awkward with the size, she shifted so her hands were underneath it, supporting it so he could undo the ribbon.

He grinned at her. "I don't care. It's from you, I'll treasure it always." Taking off the lid, he gaped.

She'd made a quilt. An assortment of cats and paw prints dotted a cream backing, the paw prints meandering across the whole quilt. The edges were bordered with green leaves in which tiny ladybugs played. Right in the centre was a black cat in profile with a ladybug perched on its nose.

"I'm not very good at quilting yet," she said, her cheeks red. "And I learnt a lot making this, but I still wanted you to have it."

"This is amazing!" he said, dragging the quilt out of the box so he could get a better look. "Wow!"

"You can put it on your bed, or on your sofa as a throw over or whatever you like."

"Oh this is going on my bed." He pressed his face to it and breathed it in. "Yup. Smells like you, I'm definitely having it on my bed."

She giggled.

"This is amazing, thank—" His phone rang and Adrien frowned. Heaping the quilt back in the box, he said, "Hang on."

Marinette took the box to her desk to repack it.

Seeing the caller id, his heart skipped a beat. "Hello Nathalie, is father home? I'm at Marinette's but I can return—"

"His plane just landed," Nathalie replied and he could hear the smile in her voice.

Adrien grinned, relieved. For a moment he'd thought his father wouldn't return. "Awesome!"

Marinette turned her head at the sound of his voice and smiled.

"The car will be along in a few minutes."

"I'll be waiting."

Hanging up, he pounced on Marinette and lifted her off the ground. Rubbing his cheek against the back of her head, he purred at her. "He's home!"

"I'm so glad!" Marinette replied.

"But that means I've gotta go," he said, placing her back on the floor and fixed his glasses. Glasses and face rubs didn't go well together, but that was something he could work on. And another reason to try and get used to contacts.

She nodded and kissed him. Long, lingering and loving, she tasted his lips with the tip of her tongue and wove her hands into his hair. "Merry Christmas, Adrien."

Epilogue

Bright green paw prints splattered in the sky as they walked among the stars. People craned their necks as they looked upward and bright colours kissed their features when light exploded above them. Red burst against the darkness and a ladybug formed, shining in the faces and eyes of the residents of Paris.

Chat Noir sat on a beam on the Eiffel Tower, one foot dangling over the edge with his lady nestled against his chest as they watched the display at Champs-Elysées in the distance. She toyed with fingers of one of his claws as splashes of blue light scattered in the sky. Neither of them minded being a represented in part of the celebration itself, especially now Chat Noir stood on equal footing with Ladybug, according to the people of Paris. Being celebrated for his accomplishments, for his hard work and effort, felt different than being celebrated for whose son he was.

But fireworks were fireworks and this kitty wanted attention. He ducked his head down, kissed Ladybug on the neck and rumbled a purr at her.

"Soon," she murmured.

He sighed and looked back at the sky and decided he didn't want to wait for the soon. No one could see them up here, if they were even looking. The only reason they were up here at all was because they didn't want to brave the crowds surrounding the Champs-Elysées. Besides, the view from the Eiffel Tower was astounding.

He flexed the fingers of the hand she wasn't playing with. She didn't react. Lightly placing his claws against her suit, a delicate touch designed not to hurt but to delight, he followed the line of her ribs up her side, then back down to her hip. No reaction from her, but then, that was the game, wasn't it? To see how long she could last.

He stroked, stretching his hand out as far as it was comfortable. The dip in her waist, the curve of her hip, her outer thigh, then, feeling daring, up the inside. Just a little. Just to see. The muscles of her inner thigh flexed, but she made no other move.

The purr came back, soft and rumbling and this time when his lips found her neck, she lolled her head back on his shoulder to give him more access. Although her eyes still fixed on the distant fireworks, her fingers went limp. Two hands. Oh joy. One hand kept its circular trek along her side and down across her leg, the other began one across her stomach and up her ribs until his thumb could scrape against the curve of her breast on its way past. All the while his mouth kissed and tasted the skin of her neck, lavishing attention all the way along her jaw and ear, but never approaching her mouth.

She sighed, a little shuddering noise to show she enjoyed it and her eyes glazed.

Each trip his hand took along her side, down her hips and over her leg, he travelled tantalisingly closer, but never touching. He turned away when his claw reached the crease between her leg and hip, to begin its journey back up her body.

It'd never complete its journey, not here. Not right now. Not sitting on the Eiffel Tower watching the New Year begin. He wanted her to know he thought about it and he wanted to make her think about it too. Because one day, his hand could complete its journey, if she chose, if they chose.

Until then, he'd just tease them both.

He let the feather light touch become naturally firmer, allowing her to anticipate.

She shivered and it wasn't from the cold. "Are you going to kiss me?"

"Mmmm… Later."

She nipped his jaw. "When?"

Tasty neck, tasty ear, too much time wasted when he talked. "When we're home."

She whined, "Mom's waiting up for us."

"Father's away," Chat Noir suggested. "I'm sure we could be half an hour late."

Ladybug wriggled out of his arms, then yanked him to his feet. "Let's go."

Later, as Adrien lowered Marinette onto his bed to thoroughly kiss her, Plagg wrapped himself around Tikki to keep her warm and watch their counterparts groom each other's faces. "Geez," he muttered.

"Oh, it's cute," Tikki crooned and rubbed her head against Plagg's chin. "Young love. You remember what that's like."

Plagg wrinkled his nose. "Yeah but if these two are like this now, what are they going to be like in mating season?"


Kry's ending note:

Réveillon is a massive Christmas dinner at around midnight as Christmas Eve ticks over to Christmas. It's their main celebration. France also doesn't tend to have Christmas trees, but they do have Nativity scenes. I tried to allude to it right, I'm sorry if I made mistakes.

Regarding the last line, because I knooooow people are going to freak out about it.

Yes. I can smut. I prefer to focus on the emotional side of it, rather than the actual deed, but usually with enough description you get an idea about what's happening. That said, I do not intend the third instalment to have smut ('haha' says Moon, 'I believe you uh-huh') ('aww, what?' says Kater). No, I really don't. I do intend to continue to further their relationship and perhaps include heavier petting. If the opportunity presents itself for them to go all the way, we will definitely have the conversation with Sabine and Tom, but, I may just imply it in the story (and write an exert to post later for those interested).

It's already unrealistic to be inside Adrien's head and not have him considering it or for his brain to go off on a tangent (boobs!). Fifteen and hormones, boys do think about it, even if they're not ready. There are other nightly activities teenagers get up to on their own, which I haven't mentioned at all. Am I going to? Perhaps in passing, but I'm one of those who believes: if something doesn't advance the plot in some way or provide character development integral to the plot, it's better to cut it…. Except for the odd make-out session, for science. But even then, all the one's I've shown have done something for the plot or for their relationship. It's not just sexy time for the sake of sexy time.

Aaaand, in before "Omg paedophile", because this fandom is really, really LOUD about that. Legal age in Paris is 15. Legal age in Australia is 16. You better believe teenagers in American are having sex before their legal. They're thinking it and discussing it etc etc. It is unrealistic to think that teenagers are angelic people who never ever do that kind of stuff or even think it until they're legal, and then suddenly everything's on. If I, as a legal adult, can't show it in a safe environment and educate people without being called a paedophile, then how do people react to teachers teaching it? Or doctors and nurses? Or parents teaching their kids?

Hmm… probably though, since you all got past the first chapter of Obsession, none of you would mind if I added extra sin to their relationship.

Aaaaanyway.

Thanks for letting me share my imagination with you! Everyone who has reviewed or faved or kudoed has made it a real pleasure to write for. Please feel free to follow my tumblr (same name) and interact with me there.

Edit: The third installment is called Quiver.

-Kry