One night while on patrol, Adrien notices flour in Ladybug's hair. When Marinette complains about the flour from her dad's bakery the next day at school, he starts to get suspicious.

(aka "The Flour Reveal Fic")

A/N: Just as a heads up, for this story I assumed that Marinette, Alya, Nino, and Adrien have all started talking and hanging out a bit more commonly. As a result, Marinette is not QUITE as tongue-tied around Adrien as in canon, and Adrien and Marinette know each other slightly better. There wasn't a whole lot of time to introduce this in the story itself, and I didn't want to confuse anyone in case it wasn't clear enough from the narrative.

Also, I did my best to give this a quick edit (and I've basically been editing it as I worked on it), but it's big and I didn't have time to give it a final once-over. So please excuse any typos!

Before we dive in, I want to give a huge, huge, HUGE thanks to Sandra (sandrastar66) for being so enthusiastic while encouraging me to write this story, helping me brainstorm for it, and being a generally awesome beta. Half of the ideas for this story came from her amazing brainstorming. (The entire final scene only exists because of her ^^) Seriously, you were a fabulous beta, thank you so much! And another HUGE thanks to everyone who said they would want to read this! I was going to sit here and name y'all, because I marked all of you down, but then I started worrying and decided not to just in case I had accidentally missed anyone. Still, you know who you are, and I am seriously so grateful. It's because of y'all that this little joke I made became a full fledged story ^^

"Looks like everything's all clear."

Adrien stepped up next to Ladybug, taking one last glance around the square in front of city hall. "Yeah," he said reluctantly. "I didn't see anything."

He almost asked if they should call it a night, but bit the question back. He didn't want to call it a night. He would happily stay up until dawn patrolling the city with her. But that wasn't something he could say—or, at least, wasn't something he was sure he should say—and so he kept his mouth shut.

They stopped in the middle of the square, and Ladybug did her own last look around, craning her neck to check the rooftops. As she did, Adrien caught sight of something light in her dark hair, just above one of her pigtails. His heart leapt, for a moment worried that an akuma was lying in wait.

"Uh, Ladybug?" he asked uncertainly. "What's that in your hair?"

"My hair?" she asked, turning back to him. Her hand shot up to her head and felt about.

"Yeah," Adrien told her, keeping a cautious eye on her. Surely Ladybug, of all people, couldn't be possessed by an akuma. … Right? "It looked kind of white."

"Oh gosh," Ladybug said suddenly, shaking her head. "Don't worry, it's probably just flour."

Adrien frowned in confusion. "... flour?"

"Yeah, see?" She turned so that he could see the back of her head again. In the dim light of the street lamps all he could make out was the pale shape against her dark hair. Now that she was still, he could see that her dark hair was smudged white just near her hairband. But then she lifted a hand and brushed at it a few times, scattering dust—flour, he supposed—and leaving a much fainter smudge behind.

"I had it on my hands and must have accidentally touched my head," she told him with a shrug.

"Oh," he replied rather lamely. That was … surprisingly endearing. Ladybug frowned at him.

"Stop," she said, starting to walk again.

"Stop what?" he asked, hurrying after her.

"That goofy grin you've got on," she told him pointedly. "I am not going to stand here while you tease me about this."

Adrien put on his most hurt expression, throwing a hand over his heart. "Tease you? My Lady, you wound me."

"Yeah, yeah." She side-eyed him, obviously not believing him.

Adrien made his wounded frown even more exaggerated. "But My Lady, it's true! Shall I compare thee to a baker's treat? Thou art far sweeter than even chocolate."

"Chat," she said warningly, though the corner of her mouth quirked up into a smile.

He took that as a sign to continue. "To crumbs do break fair cookies and fine sweets, and fresh cake's lease hath all too short a date—"

"Chat," she said exasperatedly, cutting him off even as she laughed. "Enough!"

Heart racing at the beautiful smile on her face, Adrien obliged and left it at that.

"Alright, Kitty, I think we're done for tonight." She turned to him, and Adrien quickly replaced his disappointed frown with his usual grin. "Same time Wednesday night?"

"I will eagerly await your arrival," he said with grand bow. That was more truth than teasing—Wednesday couldn't come fast enough.

Ladybug rolled her eyes and shot him a smirk. "Right, well good night!"

He watched as she dashed away, slinging her yoyo and disappearing into the night. Then with a sigh, he turned and headed home himself, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before class the next morning.


Adrien fought off a yawn as he walked into the classroom. Sometimes he thought it would be nice to not be so tired all of the time—but then he would remind himself that being tired meant spending time with Ladybug. It was more than a fair trade.

Besides, no one in his class ever looked happy about starting school on Monday morning. Nino was slouched low in his chair, Alya was was sitting behind him with glazed eyes, and Marinette was even lying face down on her desk, her head resting on her crossed arms.

"Morning," Adrien said sleepily, waving to Nino and Alya. Marinette shifted in her seat, groggily picking up her head to wave at him, a white smudge smeared across her cheek.

Adrien froze on the spot, staring at the conspicuous spot on her face.

"What's wrong?" Marinette asked worriedly, shoulders inching up as she looked at him.

"Oh," Adrien replied dumbly, kicking his brain back into gear. "Nothing. You've just got a little something on your face." It was nothing, he assured himself. Marinette probably got a smudge of makeup on her face accidentally. She was prone to do something cute like that, after all.

Marinette made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat, swiping at her cheeks with the back of her hand. "Oh man," she whined, glancing at Alya. "I'm telling you, this flour gets everywhere."

Adrien tripped on the step up to his desk, barely managing to stop himself from tumbling to the ground. Not makeup, apparently.

"You okay, man?" Nino asked, quirking an eyebrow at him. Adrien waved him off as he tried to get control of his hammering heart.

A coincidence, he assured himself, taking a deep breath. It's just a coincidence.

"How many hours have you clocked in the kitchen now?" Alya asked Marinette behind him. Adrien did his best to pretend like he wasn't hanging onto every word as he took his notebook out of his bookbag.

"At this point, I don't even know," Marinette groaned. "It's just going to get worse the closer we get to Christmas."

"What is?" Nino asked, turning around to face the girls. Adrien carefully turned around as well, feigning limited interest.

"My dad's bakery," Marinette explained, shaking her head. "Every year he gets flooded with orders around the holidays, and it's the worst. It's good for business, of course, but I wind up having to spend every spare minute helping out."

"Oh, come on," Nino replied, shaking his head in disbelief. "Helping out in the kitchen? That actually sounds kind of fun."

"It's not just the helping," Marinette said, crossing her arms with an adorable frown. "My dad gets really on edge, because he's so worried about getting everything done on time. Plus the house gets unbearably hot since the ovens are running almost constantly. And the flour. It gets everywhere, and I always forget I've got it on my hands. I've even gotten it in my hair."

Adrien choked back a whimper, his heart nearly jumping out of his chest. Somehow he managed to keep a straight face.

"Besides," she continued, "this year it's especially busy because he's decided to start offering Christmas cookies. You know, as a way to set himself apart from the other bakeries. It's neat to learn about all the different cookies from around the world, but the added work is exhausting."

"Christmas cookies, huh?" Alya asked. "Don't they do that in Germany?"

"They do it all over the place, apparently," Marinette explained. "Different countries are known for their different types. There are Russian tea balls, and German pfeffernusse, and of course gingerbread."

"Mmm," Alya hummed happily, looking wistfully toward the ceiling. "I've had gingerbread cookies before. Those things are delicious."

"No, no," Nino said, leaning closer to Alya as he shook his head. "Snicker doodles. Now that's where it's at."

Adrien listened with half an ear while Alya and Nino debated the various benefits of each cookie, all while studying Marinette from the corner of his eye.

Marinette was just a girl from his class, albeit it a completely adorable one. As the school year had progressed, he had gotten to spend more time with both her and Alya, and he had never noticed anything… out of the ordinary about her. Especially now that she seemed to have overcome most of her initial shyness. She couldn't be Ladybug…. Could she?

Of course, she did have black hair, and she even had blue eyes.

Get real, Adrien, he scolded himself. Shy, bumbling Marinette? Even with her having loosened up somewhat in recent months, he couldn't deny that Marinette had a tendency to be clumsy—the exact opposite of Ladybug. It was pretty hard to picture her as the confident, assured superhero.

Is it really? a voice whispered in the back of his mind. You act pretty differently yourself when you're Chat Noir. Adrien firmly shooed that thought away.

"What about you, Adrien?"

Adrien started, turning around to find Marinette watching him curiously.

"I'm sorry, what were you saying?" he asked, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment and feeling silly. Smooth. He doubted that Marinette would ever look at him and assume he could be someone as cool as Chat Noir.

She shot him a sympathetic grin. "I was just wondering if you have a favorite type of cookie."

"Not really." He shrugged. "My dad's not a huge fan of treats, so I haven't tried all that many."

"A life without cookies?" Alya asked in horror.

Beside her, Nino shook his head, dolefully placing a hand on Adrien's shoulder. "I'm tell you guys, this is the childhood my poor Adrien has been subjected to."

Adrien playfully shook Nino off, rolling his eyes in exasperation. "Jeez, Nino. You make me sound deprived or something."

"Well yeah, man!" Nino replied emphatically. "Deprived of cookies!"

The girls giggled, but a moment later Alya asked Marinette about some show from last night, changing the conversation. Adrien gladly turned away. There was no need to get worked up about a little flour. It had to be a coincidence. There was no way Ladybug could have been sitting right behind him all this time without him realizing.



That's what he had told himself, at least. And yet over the next few days, Adrien hadn't been able to shake the twin memories of the flour-spotted girls. Now, as they jumped from rooftop to rooftop in the damp night, he stole yet another sidelong glance at the hero beside him.

Marinette and Ladybug were about the same height. He couldn't tell for sure—he had never been paying close enough attention any time Marinette had stood next to him. But if he had to guess, they were probably within an inch or two of each other.

And their hair. They even wore it the same way.

Which means nothing, Adrien told himself. Tons of girls look up to Ladybug. It's quite possible that she brought pigtails back in style. Honestly, it could be have been that Marinette had purposely modeled her hair style off of Ladybug. For all he knew, perhaps she harbored a secret adoration of the hero.

And their blue eyes…

Coincidence, Adrien repeated firmly for the millionth time. Quit trying to draw connections that aren't really there.

Adrien trailed Ladybug as she jumped a small alley, then came to a stop on the slick roof beyond. "Sorry, do you mind if we take a quick break?" she asked, bending over with her hands on her knees.

"Of course," he said hurriedly, watching her with concern. Come to think of it, she did seem to be breathing heavier than normal. "Are you alright?"

She waved him off, pushing herself back upright. "Yeah, I'm fine. I've just been a little overworked lately. Things have been insanely busy with the holiday coming up."

Adrien's heart leapt into his throat, and he struggled to keep his breathing even. No big deal. Practically everyone gets busy around the holidays.

"Should we quit early tonight?" he asked, still keeping a wary eye on her in case she was pushing herself too hard. "Things still seem pretty quiet."

"Nah, we're almost done anyway. I just need a moment." She glanced at him, then smirked and added, "Really, Kitty, I'm fine. No need to hover."

He threw up his hands in mock defense, shrugging as he gave her a small grin. "When things get busy, it's easy to forget to take care of yourself," he told her. "A second pair of eyes never hurts."

"I'm a big girl. I can look after myself," she retorted. Still, she wasn't bothering to hide the wry smirk on her lips. "You just keep your eyes trained on the city."

He grinned at her, but moved to comply nevertheless. Slowly he walked to the edge of the roof, carefully avoiding the few small puddles that dotted the surface. It had be a rainy sort of Wednesday—dismal considering Christmas was less than a week away. Though the weather hadn't quite cooled to the point that they had to worry about the puddles becoming thin sheets of ice, the slick spots were a danger enough on their own considering the darkness of the hour and the height at which they were traveling.

Now that they had stopped moving at their brisk pace, the chilly night air soaked into Adrien's bones. As he surveyed the streets he rubbed his hands against his cheeks, which were already starting to feel numb from the slight but insistent wind.

"Alright, ready for the last leg?"

Adrien turned as Ladybug stepped up to his side. "Ready when you are, My Lady."

She flashed him a quick smile before launching herself across the gap to the house next door, nearly dragging his heart clean out of his chest along with her. He shook his head to clear his mind before following suit.

Adrien scanned the shadows below as they continued on their way, but he hadn't been lying when he said things were quiet. Soon enough, he found himself glancing at her again. Truthfully, a part of him knew that he should just let it go. Ladybug had been adamant from the start that they keep their identities a secret. It was useless to spend so much time making wild speculations—

Adrien's foot slipped and he pitched forward, stomach dropping as he realized with a jolt that he was falling. He managed to spin in an attempt to right himself, but he had forgotten to factor in the the slick rooftop. The momentum of his spin took him too far—and right to the edge of the roof. He windmilled his arms as he teetered over the precipice, the shadows of the open ground below yawning wide.


Ladybug's yoyo wrapped painfully tight around his torso, yanking him gracelessly back onto the roof. Taken off guard by the abrupt force, Chat thudded to his hands and knees.

"Are you okay!?" Ladybug asked, voice thick with worry as she knelt next to him.

"Yeah, just a puddle," Adrien assured her breathlessly, trying to hide a wince. He was fairly certain he was going to have a ring of bruises around his chest in the morning. Not that he minded—she had likely saved his life.

He pushed himself back up to standing, both amused and flattered that Ladybug was hovering even closer to him than she had accused him of earlier. Though he hated to admit it, being this close to her made his heart race. He even caught a slight whiff of her scent, which he had only ever smelled when they were in close quarters: the slight tang of cherry lip balm and—freshly baked bread.

Adrien's heart froze, and he suddenly forgot how to breath. God, how could he have forgotten? But it was such a little thing—a small tidbit of information that he had filed away in the back of his mind about her: she had always smelled like bread.

It had meant nothing before. There were plenty of people who made homemade bread everyday. But—

"You know, you're right," Ladybug told him, watching him closely. He could see the concern in her eyes. "We're nearly done—why don't we call it a night?"

"Yeah," Adrien replied slowly, taking a deep breath. "Yeah, that sounds good."

She hesitated, then added, "Will you… are you going to be okay going home alone?"

It was obvious how nervous the unspoken offer made her. Even with his mind racing, Adrien's heart nearly burst with appreciation at her asking. "Don't worry," he assured her. "I'll just take the streets like a normal person should."

"If you're sure…" she said, but already he could sense the relief in her shoulders.

"Yes," he told her, managing a wry grin. "You just be careful yourself, okay?"

She chuckled. "Alright. See you Friday?"

"Friday," he confirmed.

Even so, she watched him as he carefully picked his way to the edge of the roof and crawled down. It wasn't until his feet were both firmly planted on the pavement that she turned and headed off herself.

Adrien watched her swing down the street, heart hammering as he realized that she was heading East. In the same direction as the school. And the Dupain Bakery.

Paris is huge, he told himself. There are thousands of houses and apartments to the East. Somehow, he wasn't quite able to convince himself.


After what seemed like an eternity, the bell finally rang and winter break officially began. Adrien sighed in relief as the class burst to life around him, chattering about their plans for break and quickly heading toward the door.

"Hey guys, hold up a second."

Adrien paused, his coat halfway on, as he, Alya and Nino all turned toward Marinette.

"Since it's the last day of classes, I thought it was the perfect time for Christmas presents," Marinette told them, lifting up a small satchel she had brought with her.

"Aw, Marinette!" Alya said, wrapping her in a big bear hug. "You're such a sweetie."

Marinette opened her bag, taking out three smaller paper bags. "This one's for you," she said, handing one to Alya. "And this one's for you." Another to Nino. Then, with a shy smile that crinkled her blue eyes, she pick up the last bag and held it out to Adrien. "And this one's yours."

Adrien accepted the bag, so surprised that he wasn't quite sure what to say. "But I don't have a present for you," he blurted out, then inwardly cringed. Smooth. She probably thinks you're a real charmer.

"Don't worry," she assured him with a small, nervous shrug. "I'm not expecting anything in return. It's just a little something."

Chest feeling slightly warm, Adrien took a closer look at the bag in his hand. It was decorated with a swirled Christmas design—a beautiful tree and stockings surrounded by whirling snowflakes.

"Did you make this bag?" Adrien asked incredulously, noticing that aside from the decorations, it was no different from a plain brown paper lunch bag.

"Oh, I just decorated it with a little design," Marinette replied nonchalantly, though he caught the faint blush that dusted her cheeks. Knowing her, she had probably put a ton of work into them.

"Oh my goodness!" Alya squealed suddenly. "Are these what I think they are!?"

Adrien looked over to see Alya pull a gingerbread man from her bag, complete with frosted clothing.

"You did say you love them," Marinette replied with a happy smile.

Alya bit off one of the cookie's legs, shaking her head in satisfaction. "These are delicious! Are these one of your dad's, or did you make them?"

"I did," Marinette told her, giggling as Alya munched off another leg. "I've had a lot of practice this week."

"Aw yes!" Nino cried happily, pulling a snicker doodle out of his bag. "A whole bag of them? Marinette, you're the best!"

"Really, it was no big deal," she assured him, although she was beaming.

Grinning, Nino turned to Adrien. "What kind did you get?"

Startled, Adrien looked down at his own bag in his hands. Careful not to rip the paper, he opened it up. Inside he could glimpse a single cookie. He pulled it out gently, marveling at it.

It was a rose the size of his palm, each petal made from a different layer and gently airbrushed with a light pink glaze.

"It's marzipan," Marinette explained hurriedly, watching him closely. "I hope you don't mind—I wasn't sure which type of cookie you might like best, so I gave you my favorite treat instead."

Gently Adrien turned the flower around in his fingers, amazed by the insane level of detail that had been put into the pastry. He couldn't remember the last time he had received a handmade gift, let alone something made with such obvious care—it left him speechless.

"It's my dad's specialty," Marinette babbled, still watching Adrien worriedly. "I mean, it's his best selling item. He makes the best marzipan in Paris, because he starts with whole almonds and sugar, not syrup. And he adds rosewater to the dough—that's why he makes roses. B-but! This one isn't as pretty as the ones my dad makes. I made this one myself, so the petals are a little lopsided, and they look a little strange because I made them thicker. That way there's more marzipan to enjoy—but it kind of ruins the graceful effect, and—"

"This is amazing," Adrien said quietly, meeting Marinette's eyes. "Thank you. Really."

Marinette's shoulders eased down somewhat, and she shot him a relieved smile. "I hope you like it," she told him, making his heart skip.

Adrien carefully tucked his rose back into its bag as the others finished gathering up their things. As they headed out the door, Adrien fell into step beside Nino, following the girls.

Nino shot him a sly grin, wiggling his eyebrows at him.

"What?" Adrien asked, trying not to sound defensive.

"Oh, nothing," Nino replied with an exaggerated glance at Marinette's back. "That's just a mighty fine cookie you got there."

Adrien shrugged, his cheeks turning red. "Why?" he asked, glancing down at Nino's bag. "You don't want yours? Because I'll take th—"

"No, no," Nino replied quickly, protectively cradling the bag to his chest and out of Adrien's reach. "I'm just saying."

"And?" Adrien asked, grateful the girls were busy chatting about Alya's cookies a few steps ahead.

"And," Nino said slowly, his sly grin growing, "I just think it's interesting is all. I mean, you have been stealing glances at Marinette even more than usual this week."

Adrien nearly tripped, quickly looking at Marinette in horror to make sure she hadn't overheard. She and Alya were laughing now, and Adrien's racing heart settled down a notch. He turned back to Nino to find his best friend sniggering.

"Was I really that obvious?" Adrien asked with a wince. What if Marinette had noticed?

Nino rolled his eyes, pulling his coat tighter as they walked outside. "Please, Adrien. You're so oblivious it's almost sickening."

"No, you don't understand," Adrien replied, struggling to come up with a decent excuse. He most certainly couldn't tell him the truth—Oh, you know, I'm just increasingly beginning to suspect that our classmate is Ladybug, no biggie.

"Listen," Nino said firmly, cutting Adrien off before he could produce a lame lie. "If you like her that much, you should just ask her out."

… Oh. Oh. Oh

"That's not what I—" Adrien paused in his hurried denial, stopping to consider what Nino had just suggested. Quite honestly, it didn't sound like all that bad of an idea. He glanced at Marinette again, watching as she joked with Alya. She was really sweet, and if she was Ladybug…

Adrien put his foot down, shooing away that train of thought. Because if she was actually Ladybug—and if he knew—and she didn't know that he knew—well, something about that made him really uncomfortable. It felt so dishonest. Still, with a small smile to Nino he said, "I'll at least consider it."

"Consider what?" Alya asked, suddenly turning around and making Adrien jump.

"Getting me a PS4 for Christmas," Nino shot back with a wink and the quickest save Adrien had ever seen. Nino threw his arm around him and added, "Don't I have the best friend ever?"

Alya wrapped her arms around Marinette, dragging her in close. "Sorry, boys, but the best friend in the world is right here, and she's already mine. You can't have her."

Adrien laughed and pushed Nino off of a him, trying to hide the small blush that was spreading across his cheeks. Luckily, he could see his dad's car waiting on the street—the perfect excuse to duck out.

"I've got to go," he said quickly, not quite meeting the girls' eyes. He could already see Alya grinning. "I hope you all have a great winter break!"

Then, before he could chicken out, he shot Marinette a smile and added, "Thanks again, Marinette!"

The way she turned bright red and broke into a pleased smile was definitely worth the knowing looks Nino and Alya shot him.


"Man it is cold," Adrien mumbled as another wave of shivers assaulted him. Plagg had explained to him once that Chat Noir's suit was built to protect against any type of weather, including the cold—so at least he wouldn't have to worry about frostbite. Still, knowing that you weren't going to lose a few toes didn't make schlepping through the cold any more enjoyable.

"The temperature did dip pretty quickly this evening," Ladybug noted, glancing down an alley before motioning for him to follow. Between the puddles that were still hanging around and the sudden decline below freezing, they had decided to trek it on the ground for tonight's patrol rather than risk the icy rooftops. A little snow would have made it more doable—it provided an easier landing space, even if they did have to watch their step—but the precipitation and temperature had stubbornly refused to cooperate.

"Still," Ladybug added, "I'm actually kind of enjoying this."

"Seriously?" Adrien asked her incredulously, folding his fingers into his armpits.

Ladybug glanced at him and laughed. "What? Does the poor Kitty not like being cold?"

"Trust me," Adrien grumbled, glaring back at her. "I much prefer to be warm and snug indoors when it's this cold out."

"Normally I would probably agree," Ladybug told him, pausing as she surveyed the open street ahead of them. They hurried across to another alley, hopefully avoiding attention. Although the Parisians often meant well when they approached for an autograph, these patrols were meant to be a covert chance to catch anything out of the ordinary—even if they mostly turned into a chance to just hang out with Ladybug. But hey, he wasn't complaining.

Once they were safely cloaked in the shadows again, she continued, "However, it's been unbearably warm at my place, recently. The cool air feels kind of nice."

Adrien's stomach had dropped out on him again. Oh my god, it's her, isn't it? he realized. He took a deep breath, trying not to freak out. There's still no way to know for sure. It's at least possible this is all a coincidence.

It was a lame excuse, and he knew it.

He followed her around the back of a deli, trying not to let himself get too distracted. At this point, maybe it would just be best to ask her. After all, it was becoming really hard to convince himself that Marinette wasn't Ladybug. The more he thought about it, the more the two had merged together in his mind, until he had almost accidentally found himself calling Ladybug "Marinette" earlier this evening. If he asked, at least he could get a straight answer and not have to be so on guard around her about it.

But… Adrien sighed, holding back his disappointment. But Ladybug didn't want him to know. She had made that pretty clear. He had never been able to figure why she was so insistent about it, but he could only imagine how much she would freak out if he asked her. She might be furious with him. And what if he was wrong? What if he was just jumping to conclusions, and Ladybug wasn't actually Marinette? She might start getting suspicious, wondering if he was purposely trying to figure out her identity, which was the furthest thing from the truth. Honestly, Adrien wasn't sure which option would be worse.

Chicken. Still, it would probably be better not to risk it. Dejectedly, he trailed after her back toward where they had begun their loop.

To his surprise, when they stopped at the back of the bookstore where they had met up Ladybug told him, "Stay here for just a moment, okay?"

He watched curiously as she slipped in through the employee door in the back, wondering why he wasn't allowed inside too—he was starting to worry that his toes might fall off anyway, magical suit or no.

Not even ten seconds later she slipped back out, thanking someone he couldn't see and closing the door behind herself.

"I know it's a bit early," she told him, smiling as she shrugged, "but I wanted to give it to you while they were fresh."

She pulled a brown paper bag out from behind her back, decorated with christmas trees, stockings, and snowflakes. Barely daring to breath, Adrien accepted the gift, carefully opening the familiar paper and pulling out one of a dozen cookies.

"They're sugar cookies," she told him happily.

Adrien struggled to form words, but his mind was stubbornly stuck on the odd deja vu that was unfolding in front of him.

She frowned at him nervously and added, "You like sweets, right?"

"Yes, actually, I do," he managed to force out, his lungs suddenly remembering how to breath. "You just surprised me—I wasn't expecting this. Thank you so much."

"You're welcome," she told him with a grin. "Alright, Kitty. Why don't you get yourself home before your tail freezes off."

He laughed, folding the bag back up and trying not to let her see his shaking hands. "Right. And we're still patrolling on Sunday?"

"If you don't mind," she told him, seeming a bit hesitant. "I feel bad to ask you to come out on Christmas Eve, but I can't help but feel like it's better to be safe."

"I already told you it's fine," he assured her. He couldn't seem to drag his gaze away from the bag in his hands. "Don't worry so much."

"Cool." She flashed him a grin, and it hit him plain as day—he could tell perfectly clearly now that it was Marinette's smile. As if the bag and cookies hadn't been proof enough. "I'll see you then!"

With that Marinette dashed off, heading East towards her father's bakery.

He was so screwed.


Screwed, because she didn't want him to know, but he had figured it out. Screwed, because she trusted him, and he was going to have to tell her at some point—preferably sooner than later. Screwed, because it was now winter break, meaning he wouldn't even get to see her in class—a situation which somehow managed to be simultaneously both relieving and tormenting. Screwed, because he had barely slept a wink Friday night after figuring it out, nor had he managed to fall asleep until late into the night Saturday.

"Just tell her," Plagg said, shaking his head disparagingly as he munched on a hunk of cheese.

"But what if she hates me?" Adrien groaned.

"Did you figure it out on purpose?" Plagg asked. He paused from stuffing his face to look Adrien in the eye.

"Of course not!" Adrien said quickly. "You know I didn't—you were there! And besides—"

"Then you're fine," Plagg said, waving dismissively and cutting Adrien off as he shoved the last of the cheese into his mouth. "We both know it was an accident."

Adrien stared miserably at his hands, not so easily convinced. He had to tell her. He knew he did. But how was he even supposed to bring a subject like that up? Oh, hey Marinette, how's saving the city been going? Somehow, he couldn't help feeling that wouldn't go over so well.

"If only it weren't winter break," Adrien groaned, dropping his head into his hands. "Then at least I would get a normal chance to talk with her."

"Aren't you guys patrolling tonight?"

"I can't just drop that on her tonight," Adrien replied. "Besides…"

He trailed off, trying to find a way to explain. He couldn't quite put his finger on why, but he felt like it might be better to talk with Marinette rather than Ladybug.

Which was dumb. They're the same person, he reminded himself again, still not quite able to believe it. He knew it really shouldn't make a difference, and yet—

And yet the thought of telling Ladybug and watching the disappointment break in her eyes, framed by her mask… It was like something out of his worst nightmares. It was going to be difficult no matter what, but in her everyday civilian appearance he hoped it might be at least a little easier.

Plagg was still watching him, waiting for him to continue. Adrien shrugged, pushing away at the anxiety clawing at his chest. "I'd rather talk with her without the added pressure of our superhero responsibilities," he lied.

"I don't see why you don't just go visit her," Plagg replied, rolling his eyes. "Doesn't her father own a candy store or something?"

Adrien opened his mouth to argue, then stopped cold. "The bakery."

"Yeah," Plagg said with a shrug. "That."

Why hadn't he thought of that? Visiting the bakery was a perfect excuse to go see her. He could ask to talk with her, and just spit it all out. With a deep breath, Adrien nodded. "Okay, let's go."

"Wait—now?" Plagg asked incredulously, grabbing another piece of cheese from his plate. "But I'm not done ye—"

"Just bring it with you," Adrien told him, picking Plagg up by the scruff of his neck and quickly sliding him into his bag.

Grumbling, Plagg poked his head out of the top of the bag. He watched with narrowed eyes as Adrien grabbed his coat and slid it on. "You're not going to chicken out, are you?" he asked slowly, his eyes following Adrien across the room.

"Of course not," Adrien said with far more confidence than he felt.

"Good," Plagg told him. "All joking aside, you two are a team. Paris can't afford to have you arguing."

Adrien paused, taken off guard by Plagg's serious tone. "R-right." Then, with a deep breath to reassure himself, he added, "Don't worry. I'll just tell her the truth." Plagg raised an eyebrow at him questioningly, but Adrien quickly shut his bag, cutting the kwami off. He hurried downstairs, texting his driver as he went.


Maybe this was a bad idea…

Adrien looked around the crowded bakery in shock. It was pandemonium, packed near to the brim and overrun with so much chatter that he could hardly think straight.

Marinette had said that things got crazy around the holiday. He just had never expected that it would get quite this out of hand.

Adrien took one last look around the bakery. He could see Mrs. Cheng behind the counter, helping customers out. There was someone else with her who must have been a seasonal employee. Marinette was nowhere in sight. With a sigh, he turned around to head back out.

"Oh! Adrien?"

Surprised, he whirled around to see Marinette hurrying toward him through the crowd. She was wearing an adorable pink apron and was liberally covered in flour. His heart leapt into his throat, and he did his best to force himself to keep breathing. "Hey Marinette!"

"Sorry, things are really busy today," she told him, shifting the large box in her hands.

"That's alright," he replied. He gestured to the box. "Do you need some help?"

"Oh, this?" She laughed, shaking her head. "I'm fine. Let me go hand this off and I'll be right back over."

Adrien watched as she hurried toward another customer, all thoughts of leaving vanishing from his mind. He waited patiently as she handed the box of goodies off to a man waiting near the back and then headed back his way.

"Did you grab a number yet?" she asked, and he couldn't help notice that her cheeks were a rosy red. She must have been running around all day. No wonder she had been so exhausted the other night.

"Not yet," he said slowly, wondering if he should just tell her he was on his way out.

"Here, let's get one for you!" she said happily, taking his hand and dragging him toward the door. His throat constricted and his entire arm went numb as she brought him over to the ticket dispenser. When she let go of him to grab a number for him, his hand felt cold in her absence.

"Sorry I can't just jump you to the front of the line, but I think it'd cause an actual fight," she told him, laughing a bit as she shot him an apologetic smile.

"It's no problem," he replied, rubbing the back of his head and accepting the ticket from her. He looked down and saw a bold 338 in his hand.

"Did you come for anything in particular?" Marinette asked. "I can't let you skip ahead, but maybe I could get it ready for you."

"I'm just window shopping for a last minute Christmas present," Adrien told her quickly. "But thank you. I really appreciate it!"

"Alright," Marinette replied. She really needed to quit smiling so sweetly, because Adrien was afraid his heart was going to give out on him any second. "Well, if you need anything, just—"

"Marinette!" a loud voice called from somewhere back behind the counter. "Can you come grab these?"

"Coming, Dad!" Marinette called back. With a wince she turned back to Adrien. "Sorry, I better get back to the kitchen."

"Of course!" Adrien replied quickly. "Don't worry about me. Thanks for all the help."

"Any time!" she told him. "Well, have a nice Christmas!"

He watched as her pigtails bobbed through the crowd back toward the counter, the pink apron ribbon tied around her waist fluttering behind her like a tail. When she finally disappeared back into the kitchen, he loosed a sigh and looked down at his bag. He jumped when he saw Plagg looking back up at him.

He ignored the pointed look Plagg was giving him as he quickly shoved him back into his bag. Seriously, what if someone saw him one of these days?

Adrien glanced around the busy store, trying to decide if he should just head out or not. Obviously today was not a good day to talk with Marinette. He tried to convince himself that he wasn't relieved by this turn of events. Still, he was already here and had a number. And a not so small part of him reasoned that even if Marinette was busy, if he hung around he might have another chance to get to see her…

Mind made up, Adrien did his best to scoot toward the front of the shop where the display cases showed off a variety of baked goods and goodies. A bunch of kids were crowded up against the glass, pointing excitedly to the various types of Christmas cookies, and Adrien couldn't help but smile. Mr. Dupain's idea to sell Christmas cookies was obviously a success.

Just to be safe, Adrien glanced down at his bag again. Luckily Plagg hadn't poked his head out again, although Adrien could see his green eyes glaring accusingly at him from the bottom of his bag. With a sigh, he shrugged, looking back at the display case.

It wasn't his fault that the bakery was so busy. From the look of things, Adrien wouldn't have been surprised if Marinette was busy right up to when they were supposed to meet for patrol.

You could just talk to her then, a small voice whispered in the back of his head. Adrien tried to ignore it. True, they would be alone and not have to worry about being overheard.

But how could he bring himself to tell her, on Christmas Eve no less? She had been so adamant—doing it now just felt like it would come across as a slap to the face.

"Oh look, a piggie!" a little girl squealed loudly, startling Adrien.

"That's so gross!" the boy next to her replied, sniggering.

"No it's not!" the girl said stubbornly, stomping her foot. "It's cute!"

Adrien glanced over to where she was pointing. She was standing in front of a shelf lined with different animals and fruits. A sign in the front labeled them as shaped marzipan. With a start, Adrien noticed an entire row of Mr. Dupain's famous marzipan roses next to the carefully crafted animals. Curious, he scooted over to try to get a closer look.

Marinette was right—the petals of her father's roses were much finer, giving the entire flower a more delicate feel. Still, Adrien couldn't help but feel that Marinette's rose had been better. The marzipan had been amazingly delicious, and he appreciated the thicker petals she had made for him.

She was so sweet, to think of giving him a present. In class, that was—he had figured Ladybug would give him something, but the gift from Marinette had been a surprise. Honestly, he still needed to pick up a gift for tonight. Originally he had meant to go out on Saturday to pick something out for Ladybug, but after Friday night he had lost his confidence.

But now, looking through the curved glass, the beginning of an idea wormed into Adrien's head. His stomach dropped as he considered it, but somehow it just seemed … right.

"Number 338?" Mrs. Cheng called from the counter. Taking a deep breath, Adrien waved as he made his way over to her.


"It's so quiet."

Adrien glanced curiously at Ladybug—Marinette he corrected himself—as he landed on the roof beside her.

She stood looking out over Paris from the edge of city hall—the end of their patrol route tonight. It had started snowing again while they were making their rounds, a slow, gentle kind of snowfall that left the white world muted.

Adrien had never much liked the close silence when it snowed. Somehow that quiet was tangible, pressing in around him and making him feel trapped and even more alone than usual. But oddly enough, standing here with Marinette, it didn't bother him at all. Instead, it felt private, secure, and even reassuring.

"It's nice," he said quietly, surveying the serene landscape that stretched before them.

He heard Marinette chuckle beside him. "Yes, it is."

Adrien shut his eyes and took a deep breath. There was still time. He didn't have to go through with this. Did he really want to risk ruining everything right now?

Just do it, he told himself firmly, shooing away his doubts. With another deep breath he turned towards one of the vents that lined city hall's roof, his footsteps crunching in the snow. He glanced over to see Marinette watching him with a curious frown and he couldn't help a small smile.

"You know," he told her, reaching down behind the vent to retrieve the plastic container from where he had left it. It had accumulated a thin blanket of snow, and he carefully brushed off the top. "I never got to give you your present."

Heart in his throat, he handed her the black container. "Merry Christmas, Ladybug."

She accepted the box, shooting him a smile that tore straight through his heart. He watched intently as she carefully removed the lid and took out a rose.

"It's made out of marzipan," he heard himself saying. His mouth felt dry, and his ears were ringing. "It's from the best bakery in Paris. The baker uses whole almonds and sugar, and adds rose water." Realizing he was rambling, he quietly added, "... That's why it's shaped like a rose."

Marinette's lips quirked into a small, bemused smile as she examined the rose, then carefully placed it back into the box. "Wow, Chat. These are actually my favorite treat. How did you know?"

He could tell she was teasing him and didn't mean anything by the question. She wasn't expecting an answer. But he forced himself to say, "Because you told me the other day when you gave me one, Marinette."

"Really?" she asked, frowning a bit. He held his breath as he watched her. "I don't remember saying anything about that. And besides, I gave you—"

Marinette cut off suddenly, bright blue eyes widening as she finally realized exactly what he had said. Her face worked itself into a nervous frown and she slowly met his gaze. Hesitantly she asked, "What did you just call me?"

What had he been thinking? This was a terrible idea. She was going to hate him now—he could just tell. The poorly veiled fear on her face was tearing his heart to shreds.

"I'm sorry," he told her quickly, wishing there were a better way to explain all of this—a way that wouldn't hurt her. There wasn't one, of course, but that didn't make him feel any less guilty. "I know you didn't want me to know, and I promise it wasn't on purpose! But I, well, kind of, sort of, figured it out…"

He trailed off, unsure what else he could possibly say. He watched Marinette, trying unsuccessfully to read the emotions that flashed through her eyes. Noticing his attention, she quickly looked away with a forced laugh. "Oh. Well."

An awkward silence stretched out between them, and with each passing second Adrien grew more and more worried. How could he have ever thought that tonight would be a good time to tell her? Of course he should have waited.

Still not meeting his eye, she mumbled, "How did you know?"

"It was the flour," he confessed, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. "In your hair."

"Right," she replied with a wince. "The hazard of being a baker's daughter, I suppose."

Adrien's lungs clenched tighter and tighter with each successive breath. A part of him knew that he needed to explain the rest of it to her—that he couldn't just leave her hanging like this. And yet the thought of revealing himself now seemed impossibly cruel. For her to learn that not only had she been betrayed by her partner, but also her friend?

Be honest, a cruel voice whispered in his head. You just don't want her to know that you're the one who is letting her down.

"I don't get it, though," Marinette said quietly, startling Adrien. Her frown had grown, and she still wasn't meeting his eye. "I gave you sugar cookies the other day. The only person I made a rose for was—"

Her eyes widened again, if possible even farther than before. Hesitantly she turned to face him, and he wanted nothing more than to reach out and hold her and find some way to ease the fear that so clearly bled through her face. And not just fear, but disbelief, and trepidation, and a million other nameless emotions that he knewknew, because it mirrored almost exactly what he had already experienced, had already battled with the moment he had begun to suspect who she was.

Slowly, eyes narrowing, she asked, "...Adrien?"

His heart had stopped, but there was no use pretending now. Adrien let go of the transformation, his everyday pants and shirt replacing the tight-fitting leather and his mask vanishing. Marinette watched him in shock. Barely daring to breath, he told her, "At your service, My Lady."

Marinette's mouth was working wordlessly, looking back and forth between Adrien and Plagg, who was now hovering nearby. Hoping to ease things, even if only a little, Adrien shrugged and shot her an awkward smile. "It's hard to believe, right?" he asked. "I kept thinking I must have made some mistake. But your beautiful craftsmanship on the paper bags was impossible to ignore."

"Oh," she said quietly, her mouth forming a perfect circle. "Oh. Of course. I should have…"

She went quiet again, realization working its way across her face. Plagg drifted closer, taking up residence on Adrien's shoulder. Still looking stiff, Marinette glanced at the kwami.

"Right," Adrien said quickly, relieved by the distraction. "This is Plagg. I assume you also—?"

Marinette nodded distractedly, confirming what Adrien had already suspected—she had a kwami as well. Marinette shot a hesitant smile to Plagg. "Nice to meet you," she said quietly.

"Same," Plagg drawled, giving her a firm once over. "I've been hearing a lot about Marinette recently."

Adrien flinched, silently cursing Plagg for dragging them back onto the subject. "It really was an accident," he assured Marinette, desperately hoping she would believe him. "I know how important this is to you, and I would never purposefully try to go around you like this. But once I noticed the flour, other similarities just kept cropping up. I feel absolutely terrible, and I understand if you're upset with me. But I hope—"


He snapped his mouth closed, surprised by how calm she sounded.

She hesitated, crossing her arms protectively in front of her, but managed a smile. "You don't have to apologize. Honestly, there are advantages to us knowing. I just …" She trailed off again, but took a deep breath and pressed on. "I was worried. About how you would react, and about the knowledge being used against us. I would never want to hurt you."

"I know," Adrien replied quietly. "And that's why I'm sorry. Because I did."

She let out a breathy laugh, shaking her head slightly. "Don't be ridiculous. You may have scared me half to death, but you didn't hurt me."

She took his hand, squeezing it reassuringly as she looked up into his eyes. "I'm glad it's you. Just also a bit… surprised."

"A bit?" he asked skeptically, trying to ignore the tingling feeling spreading from the contact with her hands.

"Alright," she said, laughing genuinely this time. "A lot surprised. You never really came across as a smooth-talking cad in class."

Adrien flinched. "Yeah, I know I'm normally too quiet, and—" The full meaning of her words suddenly registered in his mind, cutting him short. "Wait, wait. A cad? Is that how you see Chat?"

Adrien could hear Plagg sniggering on his shoulder. Marinette looked surprised, and quickly threw up her hands in defense. "Well, no, I mean… kind of?" Adrien gaped at her as Plagg laughed even harder, and she hastened to add, "You know, you always came across like some smooth-talking, devilishly handsome stranger. Kind of like the Tramp from the Disney movie."

His heartbeat had suddenly jolted at discovering she found him handsome—devilishly handsome, no less. That's not what's important here. Forcing his mouth to start working again, he asked, "The Tramp? You're going to compare me to a dog?"

Marinette rolled her eyes. "Fine then. You remind me of Thomas O'Malley. Is that better, Kitty?"

Adrien was pretty sure his heart was going to explode any moment—she was still calling him Kitty. Struggling to pull his reeling mind back down from the clouds, he quipped, "Neither of those are very good examples of cads. O'Malley settled down with Duchess, and even the Tramp proved his love to his Lady in the end."

Even with the mask, it was impossible to miss the dark red flush blooming on Marinette's face. Wait, Adrien wondered with a jolt. Did I just accidentally confess to her? Staving off shivers, he searched for some way to reply that wouldn't put him in even deeper trouble.

"Oh my god, you must be freezing!" Marinette said suddenly, eyes widening. "I'm so sorry—I didn't even notice—you don't have your suit on anymore!"

Adrien looked down to discover that his clothes had become damp from the accumulated snow. Another, more insistent wave of shivers forced their way down his back.

"Took you long enough," Plagg muttered near Adrien's ear. He could practically hear the kwami rolling his eyes. "I was starting to wonder if you would catch pneumonia before you realized."

Adrien clenched his fingers, only now noticing how numb they felt. "Right. Plagg?" The kwami nodded, and Adrien quickly muttered, "Claws out!"

As the lingering effects of the transformation faded away, Adrien looked up and saw Marinette watching him with a frown.

"Still weird?" he asked cautiously. He felt a deep sense of relief when she laughed.

"Yeah," she replied. "Still a little weird, but in a good way." She frowned in concern, giving him a good once-over. "Are you still cold?"

"Not really," Adrien said breezily—a half truth. He did feel much better with the suit on, though the cold still lingered in his bones. Then, noticing that Marinette had crossed her arms, he added, "But you're probably starting to get cold yourself, huh?"

"Yeah," she said slowly, and he wondered if it was just his imagination that she almost sounded regretful.

The quiet stretched out between them once more, but this time she was smiling, making it a comfortable silence. A familiar longing blossomed in his chest—the one he felt each time he had to leave her side. If anything, it was even more insistent than usual, but he fought against it. He took a deep breath, then smiled at her. "It's late. We should probably get going so we can both warm up."

She nodded, returning his smile. "Alrght. Merry Christmas, Adrien."

Her smile, her voice, her calling his name—it all produced a shining ball of joy that pressed against his chest and made him feel ready to burst from happiness. "Merry Christmas, Marinette."

Despite the cold, he patiently watched as she turned and slung her yoyo, swinging off of the roof and heading east into the snowy night. Once she had vanished from sight, he finally allowed himself a relieved sigh. She didn't hate him. That was a good start.


Taking a deep breath, Adrien walked over to Marinette's locker. "Good morning," he said, smiling when she jumped a little in surprise.

"Oh, hi!" she squeaked in reply, spinning to face him. He tried to hide his grin at her adorable reaction. "How was your break?"

"Eh, it was okay," he told her, shrugging. "How was yours?"

"I wish it weren't over," she groaned. "I'm not ready for homework again."

Adrien chuckled. "Yeah, me either. You know, I was pretty surprised that things were so quiet over break."

Marinette pursed her lips, glancing around the busy locker area to make sure no one had overheard. Seriously, she needed to stop being so cute all the time—how was he supposed to keep his cool? Apparently deeming the coast clear, she replied, "Yeah. I was expecting at least something to crop up."

"Hm," Adrien said contemplatively, tapping his chin. "Perhaps the fact that I'm so devilishly handsome scared them all away."

Marinette rolled her eyes and playfully pushed his shoulder, though he noticed a small blush spread across her cheeks. "Keep dreaming."

They started toward the classroom, walking side by side, and Adrien couldn't help thinking that they probably looked like a couple. Yeah, yeah, you wish, he scolded himself. Don't get carried away.

He took another deep breath to bolster his courage. "So, I've been thinking…" he started slowly, glancing at Marinette.

"Yeah?" she asked, tilting her head.

Too cute. Oh my god, too cute. She was making it exceedingly difficult to focus. Trying to force his words to start working again, he continued, "Well, since I'm such a Tramp—"

"Oh god, Adrien," she said with a look of utter horror. "I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean it as an insult, really, I—"

Adrien burst out laughing, thankfully cutting Marinette's unnecessary apologies short. "Really, it's fine," he assured her, shaking his head. "The more I've thought about it, the funnier it's become."

From the look on her face, she obviously didn't believe him, which was a shame. "Anyway, like I was saying, since I'm a Tramp maybe I could take you to get a spaghetti dinner sometime, hm?"

Marinette stopped short, blinking in surprise, and Adrien's stomach plummeted. But then she quickly caught up to him, shooting him a small smile. "You know, I think that'd be nice."

He was so relieved that he could barely breath, but as they walked into the classroom he managed to say, "Alright, cool. When are you free?"

"Let me check my calendar," she replied, pulling out her phone.

"If you want, I could just give you my number and you can text me what works best." She was silent for a moment, and Adrien put on his most innocent face. Hey, you couldn't fault a guy for trying, right?

"I actually have your number," Marinette finally mumbled. It was Adrien's turn to whip around in surprise, although she wasn't meeting his gaze. With a shrug, she added, "Alya gave it to me once."

Oh, right. The class project. Adrien had forgotten he had even given his number to Alya. Smiling, he replied, "That works! Just let me know."

"Sure thing!" Marinette squeaked, sitting down in her seat. As Adrien took his own seat, Nino walked in.

"Morning, Adrien!" he called, sliding into his chair. "How was break?"

"Fine," Adrien replied with a shrug. "How was yours?"

"Eh, could have been better," Nino said, frowning. "My dad's car broke down big time, so we spent a ton of time in and out of the repair shop."

As Nino started detailing all of his dad's car issues, Adrien heard Alya giggled behind them. "What was that?" she whispered quietly, so low that Adrien had to strain to hear.

"Nothing," he heard Marinette reply, far too quickly to be convincing.

"Yeah, right," Alya hissed back. "That was so something. Now spill!"

"You know," Marinette said evasively. She sighed, then added, "Just a date."

Alya broke into excited squeals, but Adrien had already completely checked out. A date. Her words, not his. It was official: he had a date with Marinette.

"Anyway, the entire break was such a headache," Nino finished, jolting Adrien from his daze.

"Wow," Adrien replied, feeling guilty for not having listened to the whole story. "That sounds awful."

Suddenly his phone buzzed in his pocket. Confused, Adrien slipped it out to see a text from an unknown number.


Hardly daring to breath, he quickly replied, Saturday. 5 work for you?

Less than ten seconds later, his phone buzzed again. Works for me.

"Who was that?"

Startled, Adrien glanced over to Nino. "Oh, just Nathalie," he replied quickly. He swore he could feel Marinette's eyes on the back of his neck as he quickly typed back, Can't wait. He hesitated, then added a cat emoticon.

He hit send, then looked up to find Nino watching him skeptically. "Since when do you send little cat faces to Nathalie?" Nino asked, glancing at Adrien's phone.

"Ever since I learned how much she hates cats," Adrien replied with a shrug. It was sort of true—she had recently let slip that she was allergic to them and avoided them at all costs. Probably just one of the many reasons she and Adrien had such a hard time getting along. Nino didn't look particularly convinced, but just then the teacher walked into the room, saving Adrien from further interrogation.

He was surprised when he felt his phone vibrate two minutes into class. He waited in pained silence as the teacher finished explaining a particular passage at length. When she finally turned to write down something on the board, he quickly slipped his phone back out.

I got to meet Plagg, but you still haven't met Tikki. Want to swing by my place after school?

Adrien's heart rate spiked. He glanced covertly at the teacher, who was still jotting down the complicated chart on the board. I'd love to.

Ten second later, his phone buzzed again, just as the teacher finished her chart and turned back to the class. Heart in his throat, Adrien waited anxiously as she continued her lecture, unable to absorb a single word. By the time she finally turned back to the chalkboard, his hand hurt from gripping his phone so tightly for so long. He had messenger open half a second later.

Great. Meet me after class, handsome boy.

He turned bright red. Nino gave him a pointed look, and Adrien was sure he was going to get the third degree after class. Still, he couldn't stop the floaty feeling that was hovering in his chest. He and Marinette were still on good terms. Things weren't awkward—rather, they somehow seemed to be meshing even better than before. And he already had his first chance to prove to her exactly how serious he was. No amount of Alya's giggling nor Nino's smirks could outweigh any of that.

Update: I made a few minor edits. First and foremost, I added in dividers between scenes. I had used asterisks the first time and didn't realize FFN had deleted them T_T Major thanks to Prism for point that out! Otherwise I fixed just a few minor typos. AND, since several guests have asked and I can't reply: I'll probably do a small sequel/continuation to this story at some point down the road, but not anytime in the immediate future. Just keep your eyes open, I guess! ^^

A/N: Aaah, another story written! I had WAY more fun with this story than I expected to (even though it took me forever T_T) I really hope you guys enjoyed it ^^ I'm a little late getting it up for you guys… Given the Christmas theme, I was hoping to get it out by Christmas, but that didn't happen :\ Still, with winter just beginning, hopefully y'all won't mind ^^

A little while back, Eleanor (un-petit-papillon on Tumblr) made some cute sketches of my original idea for this story! You can see them over on my tumblr (/post/134955841294) I wanted to give her another shout out now that I finally got the story written up x)

As some of you probably already know, this story idea actually came about from a scene in my other ML fic (It's Complicated). At one point in it, Marinette is talking about all of the things that annoy her about being a baker's daughter, and in the notes to that chapter I jokingly said, "How funny would it be if Marinette went out as Ladybug one evening and Chat noticed she had flour in her pigtails?" And then people kept chiming in that they would want to see that in a story, and Sandra and I kept talking about it, and even my sister ptiched in with some ideas, and that's how this came to be!

Can I also just say that I had way too much fun with that re-worked sonnet? I actually have a soft spot for sonnets ^^ I'm not so sure the chances are high that Adrien could spout off iambic pentameter on the spot like that (it took me a few minutes of playing with the words to make it work), but it was too fun of an idea to resist x3

Full disclosure: I was simply too lazy to write any akuma fight scenes for this story, thus all of the patrols xD (Because action scenes are really difficult and time consuming ;-; Let's just assume it's a quiet week in Paris. Maybe Hawk Moth is out of town for Christmas or something xD)

After I had already decided to include Christmas cookies as a key part of the plot, I did a little research and discovered that in France people normally don't make Christmas cookies. Whoops. And so I had to shift around the idea a bit and have her dad make them as a special treat to set him apart from the competition instead xD

The Disney references were spur of the moment. When she called him a cad, the lyrics "He's a scoundrel, he's a cad" jumped into my head. And THEN I realized that it's "Lady" and the Tramp and it was too good to pass up. My new headcanon: now that Adrien has discovered Marinette is a Disney-lover, he starts throwing around Disney-inspired flirtations. ("Wow… your eyes really are like diamonds"—I mean, she DOES have blue eyes, and they ARE in Paris…) … Omigosh, how cute would it be if there was a Dog Catcher Akuma and Adrien had to rescue her from him (and in doing so proved his love?) … Perhaps keep your eyes open for a Lady and the Tramp-inspired sequel…

Honestly it was a bit weird writing ANOTHER reveal scene. I found myself accidentally mirroring things from It's Complicated and had to be careful that they were different enough. Still, I would happily write their story a million times x3 And this time their roles in the reveal were somewhat switched, which was fun!

Now that this story is done, it's time for another update of my current list of ML fic projects! The Future AU is coming next. It'll follow Marinette and Adrien re-meeting in their mid-20s. I've been working on the plot for it, and I've ALMOST gotten it all figured out ^^ That one is going to take a while—it may wind up being even longer than It's Complicated. And so I'm thinking I might actually write it at a slightly slower pace and simultaneously work on other smaller projects as well. These smaller fic ideas include Marinette waking up one morning to realize she's in love with Chat (and being totally salty about it), a faking dating AU (because YES), and several oneshot/drabble ideas I've had. I've still got an idea for a fic focusing on Tikki and Plagg kicking about in the back of my head, but so far I haven't been able to pin down what I want to do with the plot quite yet. I'll likely focus on that as my main project once the Future AU is wrapped up (whenever that will be…) Plus, maybe by that time we'll have more in canon for me to work off of ^^ You can see the full list on my Tumblr (/katwrites)

As always, if you want to know when my new fics come out, you can (but don't have to):

1) Subscribe to me as an author - just be aware that I post for multiple fandoms
2) Follow me on Tumblr (Konekat) - just PLEASE be aware that my blog is NSFW
3) Keep an eye out for them here on FFN ^^

And, most importantly, thank you so much for reading! I really hope that you enjoyed the story ^^