This has been a wild ride. For everyone who's stuck by me, and supported me whether silently or (very) vocally, thank you. Thank you so much. It means more than you'll ever know

Smoulder- Epilogue

"If you don't stop twitching your leg, I'm going to break it."

Adrien paused at Nathanael's warning. A brief pause. A second's pause.

He tried to contain himself. He really did.

A moment later, and completely subconsciously, he began to fiddle with his seat tray.

Nathanael groaned.

"Sorry, sorry," Adrien apologised hurriedly, fully aware of just how irritating he was being. "I'm just nervous."

Nathanael grinned at that.

"Really? Nervous?" he replied, tone as dry at the recycled plane air surrounding them. Quietly, he folded his own tray open, so that he had somewhere to sketch. "I had no idea banana-boy."

"Don't be mean tomato-head," Adrien whined, flopping face-first onto the tiny plane window. "I'm trying my best to not be a pain."

"Do or do not, there is no try."

Eschewing his own internal dilemmas, Adrien shot up, a sunlit beam brightening his face.

"You quoted it!" he cried, throwing his arms around a reluctant Nathanael. "I knew you liked Star Wars! I knew it!"

"I never said I didn't," Nathanael responded coyly, tapping his pencil to Adrien's nose before bringing it to his mini-sketchbook again. Overcome by curiosity, and a need for distraction, Adrien took a quick peak at what he was drawing. A fluffy tail. Some kind of wolf maybe? Or a fox? Maybe a cat? Adrien wasn't sure from the angle he was staring. "I just didn't have any interest in seeing it before being made to by my roommate. My roommate who is, inconceivably, nerdier than I am."

"Did Louis know? I bet he would've had something to say. Or shriek. Louis shrieks a lot," Adrien mused, scratching the back of his head as he was still restless. "Well if he doesn't your secret's safe with me. What happens in London stays in London."

"True- and you know it's never come up. The Star Wars thing," Nathanael replied with a small smile, his eyes distant. It was a look Adrien had come to know well over the past year. He'd dubbed it Nathanael's 'dream face'.

Having realised the horrendous London rent prices were worse than that of Paris (how was that possible?) Adrien had quickly asked Nathanael move in with him and his friend had jumped at the chance. Adrien couldn't blame him, he'd seen Nathanael's old place. The mould on the wall had looked like a demented clown and it still gave him nightmares.

They'd been roommates the entire year.

It was nice actually- having Nathanael there. Both of them felt as though they had a bit of home with them.

His father had rented him his own apartment in Mayfair, although Adrien had insisted on paying towards some of it at least. He'd appreciated the gesture of trust from his father but, regardless of the sudden freedom he was granted in his civilian life, he had to admit it had been quite lonely. Living in an apartment with far too many rooms for one person, in a strange city, missing his home and his girlfriend terribly, had made for some pretty intense nights of longing in those first few weeks before Nathanael had moved in. Even Plagg had been more subdued.

Of course, they'd kept it a secret, not telling his father for fear he'd react similarly to how he did when he first met Nino. As a result, there had been near misses which still raised the hairs on Adrien's arms, ones which were coronary inducing at the time but funny to look back on now, ones in which Nathanael had looked at Adrien (and vice-versa) laughing in disbelief over how they had actually gotten away with it.

The worst had been when Louis surprised Nathanael with a visit for his birthday. Gabriel had almost caught them in flagrante.

Adrien was pretty sure his brain was still recovering from that particular near aneurysm above all the others.

Thank god they'd been using one of the rooms with an en suite at the time. En suites were such good hiding places.

Plagg and Trixx had been merciless in their teasing (once Nathanael was out of earshot at least).

"Anyways have I distracted you enough yet?" Nathanael, now out of his own daydreams, focused on Adrien's instead. "Will you quit it with the knee bouncing stuff and the general fidgeting?"

As soon as the words were out of Nathanael's mouth, Adrien remembered. He remembered they were on a plane. He remembered he was on his way back to Paris for the first time in months- remembered that this time, he was coming back for good.

He remembered he was going home and, most importantly, remembered who was waiting for him on the other side.

"You're going pale," Nathanael's gentle voice jerked him out of his panic, and the red-head placed an encouraging hand on his shoulder. "Honestly why are you so nervous? She's going to be there. You know she's been wearing your necklace the whole time you've been away, right? Alya told me."

Adrien shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"I'm- I'm not nervous about anything like that," he mumbled as Nathanael took a swig of water. "I- Well I hope she says yes that's all."

Quite suddenly, the water which had previously been in Nathanael's mouth was sprayed onto the seat in front of him instead. Ignoring it, his head swivelled around to Adrien, eyes large and bug-like in alarm.

"Says yes to WHAT?!" he choked, voice raspy from the surprise spit-take. Behind him, an older woman grumbled something about loud youths and Nathanael's cheeks turned scarlet. He shrank in his seat cushions, as though he were a turtle and the seat was his shell.

For once, Adrien was quick to catch the misunderstanding, and his own eyes widened as he waved his hands frantically.

"No, no nothing like that! Not yet! We're only nineteen! A-and Marinette's still studying and stuff and I'm starting my degree soon too and we have so much else to concentrate on so something like that would be totally not the right time and I love her with all my heart but we're not ready for something like that yet although it would be amazing one day but nottodayortomorroworanytimesoonbutanywaywhyareweevenhavingthisconversationIdon't-"

He was interrupted from his ramblings as Nathanael gave a short snort.

When Adrien paused, head tilting quizzically, he was rewarded by a longer set of giggles that only served to deepen his confusion.

"Sorry it's just-" Nathanael began, bringing his fist to his lips as though it would hide his Cheshire grin- "you sound like Marinette. Guess it's true what they say about couples starting to sound alike."

Adrien flushed, cheeks hot, but he wasn't about to back down so easily. In fact, he had a perfect ace up his sleeve, one he'd been thinking about using for quite some time now.

He leaned back in his narrow seat. Were it not for the fact that the leg room was more suited to an iron-flat suit as opposed to an actual breathing human, he would have crossed his legs, steepling his fingers…

He settled on a smirk instead.

"You know you talk Italian in your sleep, right?"

The smile dropped from Nathanael's face like a stone. Adrien revelled in it.

"I do not!" he protested, casting his eyes downward, unable to look Adrien in the eye any more.

"Dio Louis- you moan that a lot," Adrien smirked harder, feeling a sense of triumph at how horror stricken Nathanael's expression was. "Ti amo too- when you're on the sofa all snuggled up. That's super-cute. Although when you said più forte one time when you fell asleep watching The Notebook, I had to look that one up as I think your sleep-translation was sorta sketchy. From what I gather, I think it means that you wanted Louis to go hard-"

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Nathanael cried, throwing a hand to Adrien's mouth. As if to throw salt on the wound, Adrien burst out laughing. Quickly withdrawing his hands, the red-head groaned, burying his face in them instead and shaking his head in disbelief.

"I regret paying you rent money, I regret every single pound I spent on you out of guilt, I regret making you crepes on Sundays. You are a horrible human being," Nathanael grumbled, rubbing his temples.

Adrien wiggled, grinning brightly.

"Love you too Tomato-head!"

"Just shut up and start fidgeting again Banana-boy."

Marinette frowned.

Clicking her tongue, she rested her cheek on her fist and raised her eyebrow at Louis, who was currently inhaling a Margarita at a speed which could have intimidated the most devoted of frat-boys.

"So quick?" she said, her tone flat.

"Don't judge me sorella," he groaned, finishing his drink and slamming it onto the bar with more force than he probably intended. "I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. Does my hair look ok? Of course it looks ok. What about this shirt? Nathanael says he likes this shirt and I want to look good when he shows up. Should I go home and change? Wait there isn't enough time for that. This is a disaster!"

"You look fine as ever," Marinette soothed, nervously fiddling with the key charm against her heart. Trying to ignore the anxious fluttering in her chest whenever she thought about why she was there, with Louis, at an airport bar, she concentrated instead on helping Louis through his eighteenth mini crisis. "It's me who probably looks a wreck. I didn't sleep at all last night."

Louis stopped looking at the bar menu to concentrate on Marinette, eyes taking in her short green summer dress and loosely curled hair. He smiled at her charmingly, offering her a quick thumbs up.

"You look gorgeous as ever to me, let alone the love of your life. Trust me sorella. Adrien is going to die in the most French of ways when he sees you waiting for him," he replied, wiggling his eyebrows.

Before Marinette could roll her eyes, the colour drained from Louis' usually tanned face and he buried his face into his palms. The whine which left his throat reminded her more of his superhero alter ego than the man in front of her. For a moment, Marinette was genuinely concerned for his mental state.

Maybe he really was faring worse than her in terms of anxiousness? It certainly appeared that way…

Then Louis opened his mouth.

"I haven't had sex in four months. Four."

"Oh my god, really?!" she snorted before she could help herself, and the pout Louis sent her way only made her laugh harder. "How have your survived? Poor baby."

"It's not funny, I think I'm experiencing boyfriend withdrawals. I have actual palpitations. My armpits are moist. MOIST Marinette. I need sex, and another Margarita."

It was at this point that a slightly older gentleman leaned over the bar towards Louis, cocking his eyebrow curiously at him.

"Not from you!" Louis cried, aghast, whilst Marinette buried her laughter in a drinks menu, shoulders shaking from trying to hold it in. Once the older man had taken the obvious hint and moved away, Louis turned to her with a frown of betrayal. "Is my suffering really so amusing to you?"

"Yes," Marinette replied without question, lowering the menu. Her face softened and she patted Louis' head fondly. "If I didn't have you distracting me with your ridiculousness, I'd probably be having a panic attack right now or something. I'm going mad enough as it is, even though it doesn't look like it."

Louis smiled at her then, standing up and placing a casual arm around her shoulder, squeezing it tight. He didn't need to say much else.

"Fine then, sis, how long has it been for you? Adrien hasn't been home since Easter, no? Plenty of time for pining," he teased, checking the clock above them and nudging her off her bar stall, telling her without words that it was almost time to meet their respective lovers.

Marinette tapped her nose, leaning in close and whispering in Louis' ear.

"A Ladybug never tells."

With that, she sauntered away, chuckling at the indignant expression on Louis' face, at the way his open jaw resembled an open saloon door from a classic cowboy film Marinette had seen once. After a few moments, the half-Italian man's brain seemed to catch up to him, and he jogged forwards to catch up to her.

"Rude!" he huffed, "I told you everything about Nathanael and I! Besides how will I know whether or not I need to do the shovel talk with Adrien?"

"I regret ever teaching you that expression," Marinette sighed, her legs beginning to feel increasingly like lead the closer they got to the arrivals gate. They placed themselves in good view of the sliding doors, thankful that there weren't too many people around considering that it was the peak of the Summer tourist season.

"I don't regret learning it," Louis shot back, grinning wickedly, and Marinette could practically see the phantom elongated canines he gained during his transformation. "Besides I shall probably have it with him anyway. Now that you two are back in the same city, things are going to get more serious you know."

Marinette swallowed, the fluorescent lights of the airport terminal suddenly all too bright- dazzling in the worst of ways. She tried to ignore the churning of her stomach, the tightness in her throat…

It had been a whirlwind of a year in some ways, and a terrible one in others. Despite the fact Adrien had come to visit a few times, it had never felt like enough, and only seemed to make the pain of their separation worse. They'd both been so busy, both having hardly any time to skype. Amongst the never-ending torrent of her first-year studies, Marinette had sometimes forgotten to eat, let alone schedule skype dates with her boyfriend overseas.

They'd made it through though. It had been hard, but they'd come through the other side relatively unscathed.

But there was a niggling root of doubt growing in her heart; black, twisted and covered in thorns. It told her that just because they were back in the same city, it didn't mean that her and Adrien would no longer be busy. On the contrary, Adrien was entering his first year of University (studying Physics) at the same time Marinette was starting her second. Their lives were only going to get more hectic as time went on.

What if distance (or lack of it) didn't heal the separation? What if they continued not seeing each other- too busy to be in love until, one day, they realised they were no longer in love? She didn't think she could stand that.

She'd see him all the time as Chat Noir, but what if that wasn't enough? After a year apart, Marinette was greedy. She wanted Adrien, all of him, and didn't think she'd recover if he no longer did- if the separation was too much for him.

After all, you could be distant with someone whilst still being in the same room.

The idea killed her.

"Hey," Louis was waving a hand in front of her face. Stepping in front of her, he lowered himself slightly, his face a picture of concern. "You know it's a good thing, don't you? Serious means stability, it means love, it means home."

He smiled at her, reaching out to adjust the few curls which framed her face, fixing her hair clip dotingly.

"Our boys are coming home."

Marinette smiled at that. It was impossible not to. The fear dragging her downwards let up slightly, and she breathed lighter than she'd done in hours.

Because Louis was right.

Their boys were coming home.

"Can you see them?"

Adrien was aware that Nathanael was right on his heels, having just exited the baggage claim through the gate, where they would meet their loved ones.

The arrivals gate was surprisingly less full than he'd thought it would be, but they'd been some of the last people to come out and were behind a large group of loud British tourists- students who looked like they might be on tour judging by their pun-related athletic shirts.

It was tantamount to how nervous Adrien was that he couldn't even appreciate the wall of puns he was currently faced with. At any other time, he might have been overjoyed with it, however this time they were a hindrance- the final hurdle between himself and his beloved.

Rolling their suitcases forward, both boys craned their heads over the crowd. Adrien was desperate to glimpse a flash of dark hair, a pair bluebell eyes, practically dying to catch sight of the smile that had captured his heart and kept him warm on the coldest, rainiest nights.

"I can't see them yet," Adrien huffed, his voice shaking and his palm sweaty against the handle of his case. His jelly-legs might have been a sign he'd been sitting too long on the plane, or an after-effect of his fidgeting, but he knew better.

Is she here? Did she forget? Did she get lost?

The longer he spent searching, the more his nervousness grew and images of his clumsy girlfriend tapped in an air vent filled his head. Why an air vent? He had no idea. It was the first thing his mind supplied and now he couldn't stop thinking about it, however absurd it was.

If anyone could get lost on the way to the airport and end up in an air vent, it was his Marinette. He both loved and feared that about her.

Then, out of nowhere, Nathanael shrieked. One moment he was standing next to Adrien, every bit as excited as he was, and the next he was flying backwards over his suitcase and onto the floor as someone tackled him to the ground.

"NATHANAEL YOU'RE BACK! YOU'RE HOME! MY LOVE IS HOME! YOU'RE HOME!" Louis was crying, peppering Nathanael's face with kisses; on his nose, his cheeks, his lips, and Nathanael lay below him- dazed by the fall but looking more at peace than he had in days.

Adrien turned away from the moment, let them have their privacy- although that was only a small reason why his attention was elsewhere.

If Louis was here that must mean…

The crowd parted, as if by magic, and all the breath Adrien had been holding, all the tension, all the nerves, melted away as he saw her.


Years later, Adrien wouldn't be able to recall what style of dress she was wearing, or the colour of the flower clip in her hair. He wouldn't remember the shoes she dressed in or the type of bag slung over her shoulder. Details like that would fade, lost to the sands of time.

But he would always remember how she looked, never forget the way her eyes lit up when they met his, how her face glowed, the slight parting of her cherry-lips as she exhaled.

Adrien dropped his bags. They fell to the ground with a heavy thud.

He left them behind, trusting that Louis and Nathanael would keep an eye on them. To be honest he didn't care either way.

As if she could read his mind, Marinette began to run, and he matched her speed perfectly- always in sync, always in tune to each other, separate no more.

They weren't standing far apart, there was no real need to rush to her the way he did, but since when had Adrien ever listened to his head above his heart- especially where Marinette was concerned?

Then she was there, she was his arms, and Adrien was holding her tightly, afraid that this was a dream, afraid that he'd wake up and be all alone in a bed too big for one person, in a city that had never quite felt like home.

Because home is her, he thought.

"Marinette," he breathed, releasing his tight hold on her so that he could bury himself into her shoulder. He felt her trembling, felt her fingers burying into the back of his jacket, and he nuzzled her cheek subconsciously, letting her know he was really there, letting himself know. This was real and he was home, and he had her, and he was never, ever leaving again.

"I- I didn't fall over," she whispered, more to herself than Adrien. "I did the cheesy airport run and didn't fall over."

He moved away to gaze at her awed expression, and his face turned from one of pure joy and love, into one of utter endearment.

God he adored her, even more so when her expression changed and she opened her mouth, arms jerking out awkwardly.

"I- I mean err," she stammered, cheeks red, "I mean I- I- I missed you! I'm so back your glad! I mean I'm so glad your back! I- uuuugh- why?"

It was a question, angrily directed at herself. Her thumb pressed against her forehead and she looked at his chest instead.

Adrien blinked, subconsciously reaching out to tilt her chin upwards. He's spent far too long not looking into her eyes.

"I missed you too," he uttered against her lips, and then they were kissing. Adrien cradled her face as though it was the most precious thing on Earth and Marinette's fingers wove into his hair, right on the spot his ears would be were he Chat Noir at that moment.

They broke apart, if only for the sake of public decency, but remained close. Silently, Adrien trailed his fingers against the key necklace he'd given her almost a year ago. He smiled, and she hummed in contentment, the sound so sweet that he simply had to press his forehead against hers.

"I'm back," he whispered. Brushing his nose against hers, he closed his eyes and drowned in the feel of her, her scent, her touch, her taste (because he couldn't help but kiss her again- to not kiss her now would be a torment too great to stand). "I'm here."

"I know," he heard her reply and god, how was she still so lovely?

No. He was wrong. She was lovelier than she'd been when he'd left.

Because now he knew. He knew they could whether that distance, that they could face whatever life threw at them. That she had waited for him, and he had come back to her. Just like they'd promised.

"Hey! You forgot your suitcase lover-boy."

When Adrien glanced over to Nathanael, his scowl quickly dissolved at the sight in front of him.

Louis was carrying the redhead, piggy-back style, and Nathanael had his feet hooked into the handles of their luggage, which dragged behind them.

Marinette was the first to stop laughing.

"Louis, you look like a pack-mule," she said, shaking her head fondly as Adrien quickly slipped out of her grasp to grab his bag.

Louis looked over his shoulder at Nathanael, batting his eye lashes at him.

"Am I a handsome pack-mule Nathanael?" he asked, eyes glistening.

"Pack mules don't talk, Louis," Nathanael chuckled, even as he buried his face in the back of Louis' hair. "And can I get down now? People are starting to stare."

"Please don't put him down," Adrien grinned, enjoying this far too much.

Marinette turned to him, eyebrows raised in mild surprise.

"I don't know if it was London or Nath, but you've gotten more twisted since the last time I saw you," she commented, reaching up to ruffle his hair. Adrien chuckled, taking his free hand and linking it with her own as the four made their way towards the exit.

Nathanael still hadn't made any conscious effort to get down from Louis' hold.

"I feel like I should be offended at that," he said, scrunching his nose up at Marinette, and Louis laughed. "But I'm too tired to care."

"It was like an hour flight at the most!" Marinette argued.

"An hour with your boyfriend, nervously twitching like a starving squirrel in Winter, is more than enough thank you," Nathanael retorted, nuzzling into Louis without thinking about it.

Adrien didn't have anything to say to that, after all he was there, he knew how annoying he'd been. Besides, he was too busy loving the feeling of Marinette's hand back in his own- right where they should be.

For a while nobody spoke.

The night air was crisp and cool against their skin, the blurring lights of the cars and coaches driving past created little halos of light. The smell of petrol and general stench of travelling filled the air, the hustle and bustle of plastic wheels and constant barrage of car horns echoed down the terminal. All four of them stopped, revelling in the feeling of familiarity seeping back into their bones, content to let the world go by without them- if only for a moment.

They might've been standing on the edge on a dirty pavement, just outside a busy airport, but to them it was perfect. The perfect reunion, the perfect hello after too many goodbyes.

"Well… luckily it's Summer then, no?" Louis smiled and, slowly, the others followed suit.

"Yeah," Nathanael sighed, letting his fingers reach up to play with his boyfriend's curls, no longer caring about the people who could watch and judge him for such an 'outrageous' show of affection. "I like Summer."

The door to their taxi closed shut behind them, Adrien paying the driver as Marinette stared up and down the street in confusion. Despite the fact that she was in a state of near bliss, a part of her couldn't help but feel an underlying sense of unease.

She'd already been suspicious when Adrien had offered to take a taxi home and now, staring up at a nondescript apartment block instead of the Agreste Manor she'd been expecting, she didn't know what to think.

From behind her Adrien coughed awkwardly.

"Umm… do you want to go it?" he asked, and his voice was so shy and sweet that she couldn't refuse.

Wordlessly, she followed him inside, to a tiny little elevator that looked like it had been built in the 1920's and hadn't seen regular maintenance since then. Once they were inside, he pressed close to her, and Marinette's body reacted instinctively. The claustrophobic nature of the elevator, the inescapable feeling of the hard lines of his chest against her shoulder, and the mystery of their destination sent shivers up her spine.

All too soon the doors pinged open, and Adrien nudged her out gently, towards the end of a neatly carpeted hallway and a white door with the number eight nailed to the front in glittering gold.

Marinette didn't know why, but the sight of the door made her… not quite afraid, but definitely on edge somehow.

The door opened and Adrien led her inside, to a cosy apartment with cream décor. They were standing in the living area, a plush sofa stood to Marinette's right, and to her left was an attached kitchen and dining room.

Whilst Adrien placed his bag on coffee table, she hovered in the doorway, uncertain.

"Ok guys, coast is clear, you can come out now!" he chirped, breaking the silence.

As soon as the words slipped from his mouth, Tikki and Plagg flew out of their respective bags and straight at each other, tackling each other in a mid-air hug. For a brief time, Marinette was distracted by the joy of their reunion, a warm bud blooming in her chest at the sight of the Kwami cuddles.

"There's cheese and cookies in the kitchen," Adrien said and then, as if it would soothe Marinette's baffled expression, he reached up and scratched his head sheepishly before explaining, "Yeah, I asked Nathalie to stock up the kitchen for me before I got back. She owed me one for covering her when she was sick the day we went to Somerset for a conference."

"Adrien, I don't umm," Marinette fumbled over her words, fiddling with the hem of her dress. "Is this- is this your new place or something?"

Adrien paused, blinking, before quickly edging towards her. Gripping both of her hands in his own, he walked backwards, pulling her further into the apartment.

"Err, sort of?" he chuckled nervously, a pink tinge to his cheeks. Marinette tilted her head at him, confused, and he carried on. "Actually, I was sort-of hoping it could- you know- be…well…ours."

Marinette's mouth fell open.

"It's small!" Adrien hurried, dropping her hands to wave his own sheepishly, "It's also not the fanciest place, I know, but I didn't want my dad helping us out so I thought about somewhere we could live comfortably. A-and I'll still have modelling jobs to help us pay for bills and you have that job at that boutique place so we could at least try? I'm not saying you have to commit and this is totally no pressure-" Marinette was pretty sure he'd stopped breathing, he was growing increasingly red and his voice sounded more and more like a decompressing, helium balloon- "I wanted it to be a surprise that's all. Do you- do you like it?"

After about thirty seconds of dead silence, Adrien's face started draining itself of colour to replace the redness from before, and he stared at Marinette, his lungs rapidly collapsing in on themselves. He couldn't figure out her blank stare if his life depended on it.

"It doesn't have a sewing room yet, or a garden with flowers," he tried, stepping towards her timidly, desperate to understand what she was thinking, if she liked or hated it. "But I promise we'll get there eventually."

And then her arms were around him, pulling him into a fierce hug. Adrien stumbled back from the impact, tripping over the arm of the sofa and landing softly amongst the myriad of cushions his father had picked out for them. He didn't care, didn't care one bit, because Marinette was kissing him like he made of starlight. He sighed, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around her, allowing her actions to speak for her, the upward curve of her lips and the soft touch of her fingers a symbol of her acceptance.

When they pulled apart, Marinette hovered over him, stroking his jaw tenderly.

"How on Earth can you possibly make me fall more in love with you Adrien Agreste?"

Adrien grinned, shuffling upwards to kiss her nose.

"I guess I have a lucky charm of my own?" he suggested with a wink, earning a groan as Marinette flopped forwards, facepalming onto his shoulder. Some things, it seemed, never changed.

They stayed that way for a long time, so long in fact that Adrien began to feel the emotions of the day catching up to him, a heavy sort of tiredness weighing him down.

It was just as he was beginning to close his eyes that he heard Marinette whisper something against his skin.

"What was that Princess?" he mumbled. "Didn't quite hear you."

Marinette tilted up her chin, resting it on his chest and gazing at him bashfully. She sighed, eyebrows knitted together, and Adrien's hand pressed against the small of her back.

"It's just- are you sure this is what you really want?" she repeated, this time a bit louder, but Adrien still had to strain his ears to hear. She wasn't meeting his eyes, instead following the trail of her finger as she traced lazy circles on his chest. "I know you said you would decide after a year working with your dad, decide if you wanted to be his protégée or follow your own path and I… well, I'm kinda worried you're choosing this life because of me."

Marinette sat up a little, finding the strength to meet his eyes as she said what had been plaguing her mind for the past few months, ever since he told her he wasn't going to work for his father.

"Adrien, you know who your father is. You could have the world if you wanted to, everything on a silver platter, but you're settling for a cute but small apartment, a fraction of what you could have," her voice shook as she spoke, and she felt cold in her vulnerability, but Adrien's eyes held her there, kept her spirit from floating away.

For so long she'd feared the answer to this question, yet she had no idea of the quiet nights Adrien had spent by himself, the distance and isolation from his adolescence slowly creeping back into his life the longer he spent away from his home. All at once Adrien recalled the fancy dinner parties, the ones where his every little whim could be catered for, the endless boring meetings over fabric choices, the models who looked at him like he was a fish to be reeled in, something to conquer one way or another.

Then he thought of Marinette's smile, of a small café where you couldn't laugh too loudly else the owner would shout at you (but it still didn't stop him roaring with laughter at Nino's straw-walrus tusks). He thought of quiet sunsets, and strolls through parks, thought of a red-and-black suit, and black claws which had laid dormant for far too long.

His answer was simple.

"I don't want the world if you're not in it."

The gasp which escaped Marinette was so tender that he couldn't help but move to kiss her again…

…Then her phone buzz and she leapt upwards with a squeak and several apologies. He waved them off, and she checked her phone, briefly mentioning that she should text her parents before shooting to her feet.

"Seriously?! Can we not have one night?!" she cried furiously, half-stomping her foot.

Adrien frowned, swinging his legs over the sofa to stare at her curiously. She sent a look his way, a steely-eyed Ladybug look, and Adrien's understood her meaning instantly, even before she got Alya's text.

Alya: GIRL! I know you're probably on Adrien like salt on caramel RN, but THERE'S A UNICORN AKUMA SHOOTING RAINBOWS AT THE EIFFEL TOWER. Also Nino says to say hi and that he's going to see him tomorrow even if he has to use a crowbar to pry you two apart. Bro love still going strong. XxXxXx

A second later, Marinette got another text. This time from Louis.

Louis: You take it. I'm busy taking something else ; ) looooove you sis! XXXXXXXX

"Well, not quite the triumphant parade I had planned- but it looks like we're back in action My Lady!" Adrien smirked, standing to his feet and yelling for Plagg to transform him.

He hadn't transformed in six months, not since Christmas. It was good to be back.

It was even better to see her, his Ladybug, transformed in all her super-powered glory, in their apartment.

"I haven't even gotten a proper tour of our place yet," Ladybug pouted, already heading to the window.

"There's not much else to it," Chat soothed. "Just the bathroom and you know the bed…bedroom."

At Chat's words, Ladybug's hands stilled on the window frame. For a brief, wild moment of panic, Chat Noir feared that she was going to yell at him for daring to mention the bedroom.

Before he could apologise (for what exactly he had no idea but for some reason he thought he needed to), Ladybug was sauntering over to him, reaching up to play with the bell around his neck.

"Bedroom hmm? Guess we better catch this akuma quickly then," she mused, humming slightly, eyes sparkling with an unspoken promise.

Was it possible to melt, go to heaven, and have a heart attack all at once? Chat was pretty sure it was, because that's was it felt like to hear her say those words.

"G-guess we better," he agreed, swallowing thickly.

"And who knows Kitty?" Ladybug smirked, tapping his nose as she hopped back over the window ledge. "Maybe this time I'll be the one doing the underwear modelling."

Chat Noir laughed, following his Lady out of their apartment and disappearing with her into the Parisian skyline.

He really liked the sound of that.

IT'S FINISHED! IT'S DONE! I wrote something this long and finished it I can't believe it!
Once again thank you so much for taking your time to read this fic. It was so sweet of you. Because of all of you my belief in myself, and my abilities, has grown so much :') thank you, 1000 times thank you.

But this isn't the last you'll hear from me! I'm still working on When Duty and Desire Meet- my collab fic with the irreplacable Edendaphne (go follow her on tumblr! Her art is amazing). I've also got another story in the works for ML, but that might be a little while yet.

I'm also planning on working on more original things as well so please check out my tumblr midnightstarlightwrites and my OC blog thegirlfairytalesforgot - to hear more about the things I have planned. It's an exciting time for me!

And once again thank you for taking a chance on this fic, and a chance on me 3 I love you all.

See you soon!

Midnight Xx