Author's Note: This is a sequel to A Present from Marinette, might want to read that first. Many thanks to the lovely, and wonderful, Tsubaki for helping me decide on the ending.
There was only one week and four days to go before Marinette Dupain-Cheng's birthday…..and the entire class was beginning to freak out. As Marinette was the youngest of their class, there had been an entire year in which Marinette had pour her sweat, blood, and tears into making them beautiful presents and now it was her turn, and no one had any idea what to get her.
Well…most of them had an idea of what to get her but unfortunately kidnapping was still considered illegal.
"Honestly," Chloe rolled her eyes, "I don't know why we're making such a big fuss about this. Just get her a voucher so she can actually buy some decent clothes for a change."
"Okay," Alya said irritably, "first thing first, there is nothing wrong with how my girl dresses." Everyone but Sabrina (who was forever on Chloe's side) agreed with this as they grumbled and glared in Chloe's direction. "And secondly, a voucher is so impersonal! Marinette had put so much thought into our presents that we should return the favour. We need to do something special."
"You need to do something special," Chloe sneered, "I, however, have a manicure appointment to keep."
"No one is keeping you," Max muttered darkly, "you can go anytime and we'll all be happier for it."
Chloe glowered at him. "What was that?!" she shrieked. "You say that to my face, you little-"
"I know!" Alya slammed a hand on the desk, loudly interrupting Chloe, as an idea suddenly came to her and a wide, excited, smile blossomed on her face. "Marinette made something for us so we should all make something for her!"
Half the room groaned. It was all right for some, Nino had a talent of making epic CD mixes, Nathaniel could conjure up a beautiful comic book, and both Rose and Juleka had a flare with art and design, but for the rest of them they didn't have a creative bone in their body. Adrien looked absolutely mortified as he struggled to remember if he had ever made something before in his life. It was times like this that he firmly believed his only talent was standing still and looking good.
Which was not conductive in making a beautiful, thoughtful, gift that was fit for a princess.
"And for all of those who can't make things?" Alix voiced everyone's thoughts. "Should we just present Marinette with a puddle of gloop and pat ourselves on the back? Because I can assure you that's all I'll be able to make."
"It was just a suggestion!" Alya said defensively. "We don't have to make her something. I just thought it would be nice if we did so since clearly none of us can agree on a group present."
"Well," Chloe flipped her hair, "I still say a voucher is the best way to go. Now can I leave? My nails are not going to paint themselves."
Everyone – but Sabrina- rolled their eyes at that.
"Oh just go!" Alya snapped. "You're absolutely no help and you obviously don't care. Get her a meaningless voucher, it'll be the nicest thing you have ever done for anyone. Ever."
"All right, all right," Chloe rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner, "I'll make Marinette," she sneered at her rival's name, "a card. Jeeze! Happy? I will put these beautiful hands of a lady to work and it'll be the best damn card she'll ever get. Come on Sabrina!" she barked as she stood up and proudly held her head up high. "I need you to hold my bags for me while I shop after the manicure."
"Yes, Chloe," Sabrina murmured dutifully.
And with that Chloe waltzed out of the room with Sabrina shuffling after her like a timid shadow. Everyone watched with looks of mild disgust and disbelief, apart from Adrien who appeared to be in his own world and not paying attention, as soon as they were sure Chloe was out of earshot they shook their heads and snorted.
"I bet you anything," Nino grumbled, "that Chloe won't do a damn thing for Marinette. It'll be Sabrina who makes that card or I'll eat my hat."
"Never mind," Alya sighed, "as long as she doesn't ruin my girl's birthday, I really don't care. Now then-"
Beep, beep! Beep, beep!
Alya shot an irritated look in Adrien's direction as his phone suddenly blared to life and interrupted her again. "I'm sorry," Adrien smiled sheepishly as he turned the alarm off, "but that means I have to go to my piano lesson now."
"Damn dude," Nino moaned sympathetically, "that sucks."
Adrien nodded silently in agreement and after a few awkward goodbyes, he shifted his bag onto his shoulder and left the classroom. Alya followed him to the door and once she had it firmly shut and was certain that Adrien, like Chloe and Sabrina, was also firmly out of ear shot, she whirled round with an evil smirk plastered on her face.
"Okay," she rubbed her hands together, "now that Chloe, Sabrina, and Adrien are gone. I'll tell you the real birthday present plan." The rest of their class leaned in eagerly. "…I call it Operation Adrienette," Alya announced dramatically.
"Urgh," Kim groaned disgustedly, "that names sucks balls. Can't we name it something cooler? Like Operation Squatting Eagle."
"….No," Alya said flatly, "it's my operation and we'll call it what I want to call it."
"And that's not a cool name," Alix added, "you moron."
Kim opened his mouth to defend himself, but knowing this would only result in a long bickering argument between Kim and Alix before one of them dares the other to do something incredibly stupid that will have everyone standing outside late into the night… Max immediately jumped in to keep the conversation track.
"What is Operation Adrienette, Alya?" he asked quickly and loudly as possible.
"Well," Alya smirked, "let's just say I found the perfect way to serve Adrien on a silver platter…."
Make Marinette a present.
It sounded simple enough but it really wasn't. How could creating something special and magnificent for someone as amazing as Marinette be simple?
Especially for someone like Adrien who, despite being able to speak multiple languages, achieve high grades, fight with a sword, play the piano, and had superhero powers, had absolutely no special talents or gifts that would actually help in that situation.
He did, briefly, consider composing a song for Marinette.
The idea occurred to him during his piano lesson and he gleefully went straight to the piano at home with his fingers itching to try and come up with something awe-inspiring. He could just imagine Marinette's beautiful face light up in delight as he plays the perfect song that he had composed just for her. Her cheeks would flush that pretty pink colour, her eyes would sparkle, and those tauntingly pretty lips would make a little 'o' of surprise as she took in the music. The song would capture all of this beauty of Marinette, it would depict her kindness and her tinkling laugh, it would show her bold, brave, brilliant side as well as her sweet, shy, kind side, and she would think it to be the best birthday present ever.
He would even call the song Marinette and he can easily picture her face when he tells her because it would be the same delighted surprised look when her uncle announced he named his soup after her….
…three hours later, Adrien discovered that it didn't matter how amazing your muse is when you don't have the talent. After a lot of thunk-ing and clunking noises that sounded awful, or the billion times he started to play a song that had already been written, or the hundreds of times he wrote the wrong note, or suddenly couldn't remember how to write music, and screwed up the paper in frustration, he came to realise that he wasn't going to be able to compose a song in time.
Adrien bashed his head against the keys and groaned. The piano moaned back in sympathy as he began to repeatedly bash his head against the cool bars.
"I might not be a music expert, kid," Plagg spoke up, "but I'm pretty sur that's not how you play a piano."
Adrien moaned pitifully. "I can't seem to come up with the right notes," he complained.
"You're thinking too hard," Plagg said sagely, "you should take a break, have some cheese, and clear your head. Something will come to you."
Adrien fought back the urge to comment on how everything has to be related to cheese with Plagg and instead nodded quietly before he left the music room. The long walk back to his own bedroom seemed longer and slower than ever as he had the heavy burden of being utterly useless at making Marinette the perfect song weigh him down. When he finally got in he collapsed onto his sofa and stared dolefully at the beautifully knitted pale blue scarf that was laying on his bed.
He had gotten it out, despite it being the height of summer and very hot, to admire the craftsmanship after finding out it had been made for him by Marinette. The stitches were perfect, the wool was so soft, and the colour was just stunning. Marinette poured her heart and soul into this gift for him and he wanted to return the favour.
Return the favour.
"AHA!" Adrien shouted as an idea leaped into his mind like a light bulb suddenly going off. He jumped up and gleefully clapped his hands. "I will knit her a scarf!" he declared. "That way I can show her my appreciation for my scarf at the same time. It's perfect!"
"If you say so, kid," Plagg yawned, "but now it's sleepy time. Go to bed."
Adrien smiled radiantly as he got ready for bed, pleased that he found the perfect gift idea, and soon found himself too excited to actually sleep. Plagg complained all night about Adrien wriggling around like an annoying worm but Adrien was too happy to pay any attention as he managed to track down a maid and persuade her to help him purchase some wool and needles.
Together they had found the perfect dusty shade of pink that matched Marinette's blush perfectly and Adrien eagerly took advantaged of his free hour before his fencing lesson to start knitting.
He then learnt that knitting was hard.
Adrien swore and cursed under his breath for fifteen minutes straight as he tried to keep the wool and the needles together. The metal clashed against one another fruitlessly as the wool fell limply against the wooden desk.
He now had new respect for Marinette to be able to make a scarf when he couldn't even put two stitches together.
He glanced over to his laptop and lit up with delight when he realised he could Google the answers and soon enough he sat in front of a YouTube video instructing him on the basics….and still got nowhere…
Unless you count getting yourself tangled up in a whole ball of wool as going somewhere.
"Pfft!" Plagg snorted. "You know you're not an actual cat, right?"
Adrien groaned as he struggled to untangle himself. "Shut up!" he snapped. "It's not like I did this on purpose. Knitting is hard."
"Especially when you have never knitted before," Plagg observed, "why don't you sew something instead?"
"I don't know how to!" Adrien moaned "Any attempt is likely to end up like this," he gestured to the knotted wool that was still wrapped round his neck, and tightly woven over his arms, and somehow draped over his head.
"Your Dad, the designer," Plagg said incredulously, "never taught the son he wants to be perfect how to sew?"
"No," Adrien sighed, "I had other talents to learn in order to be perfect for the family business."
"How is fencing relevant?" Plagg snorted. "I might have slept for the majority of the last century but even I know no one uses swords anymore."
Adrien didn't answer him. He was too busy trying to figure out what else he could make as he screwed his face up in concentration. Clothes were obviously out of the question. Marinette had made such stunning assortment of hats and gloves and scarves - even an actual dress for Alya - that any poor attempt of Adrien's would just be a slap in the face. He had to make something else.
He strained his mind for something, anything, that Marinette likes….
Marinette smelt like cookies, bread, and other baked goods. She always had cookies on hand and she always liked something sweet…
"I can bake her a cake!" Adrien exclaimed as the epiphany dawned on him. "A proper birthday cake!"
"Yo don't even know how to boil water for a cup of tea," Plagg scoffed, "how do you expect to make an entire cake?"
"I have one of the finest chefs in Paris working in the kitchen," Adrien said dismissively, "I'm sure he'll be able to teach me how to bake one simple cake. How hard can it be?"
Adrien regretted uttering those famous last words an hour later when his chef and Nathalie firmly banned him from the kitchen. Adrien had not only managed to cause an utter disaster in the kitchen by accidentally knocking all the pans onto the floor but he had somehow managed to cause a minor fire in his poor attempt to bake.
His chef had declared him unteachable which Adrien thought was highly unfair since he only had one lesson.
"Just as well really," Plagg purred lazily when Adrien finally came out of the shower (he had also somehow managed to cover himself in flour….don't ask), "isn't the Princess's parents' bakers? They would have surely made their daughter a far superior birthday cake."
"I was grasping straws!" Adrien snapped. He didn't want to admit that he had, sort of, forgotten that little fact in his enthusiasm to bake Marinette a cake. Now that he remembered this he was a little glad he failed in his endeavour. It would be mortifying to present Marinette with a sloppy made cake when she would have, what would obviously be, the finest, most delicious, cake baked by her own parents. "So sue me."
Plagg stretched out mid-air, unbothered by Adrien's temper. "You're thinking too big," he informed Adrien in a superior, all-knowing, tone of voice. "You should do something simple. Like drawing."
With nothing to lose, Adrien decided to try Plagg's suggestion. At first he found himself staring at a blank piece of paper as he hovered a pencil in mid-air hesitatingly. It felt as if a tumbleweed was being blow about in his brain because he couldn't think what to draw. Then he thought of Marinette and her pretty smile, how her eyes sparkled when she was truly happy, how she seemed to exude life and contentment and love with every step and gesture, all those little shy ones to her big amazing ones….
He began to draw.
And immediately frowned when he realised he couldn't get her face right. Marinette had a lovely heart-shaped face with her high-cheekbones and pointed chin….Adrien's drawing just looked like a fat blob.
He screwed up the piece of paper and tried again….and again…..and again….and again…
"I'm getting absolutely nowhere with this!" Adrien screamed in frustration as he screwed up another piece of paper. "That's it!" he chucked the ball across the room. "I give up! I can't draw!"
"Let me see that," Plagg zoomed to the floor and picked up Adrien's latest screw up (pun fully intended, ha!), "It can't be that bad," he said with uncharacteristic encouragement as he unfolded the drawing, "and even if isn't good I bet the Princess won't mi… Adrien," he said in a flat, unimpressed, tone as he held up Adrien's drawing, "this is just a stick figure with boobs. How old are you?!" he asked disgustedly.
"I'm fifteen going on sixteen," Adrien pointed out.
"Oh right," Plagg blinked, "never mind then, let's forget drawing!" Plagg decided as he scrunched the drawing up again and chucked it into the bin. "Are you sure you absolutely have to make the Princess a present?"
"Yes!" Adrien hissed. It had been agreed by everyone else that with all the hard work and effort Marinette had put into their presents that they should return the favour. Adrien wanted to return the favour. He picked up Marinette's scarf and stroked the soft blue wool as he desperately sought out something artistic that he could actually do for her. She had made him the best birthday present he had in years….he had to return the favour somehow. "Do you think Nathalie would get me some clay and one of those spinning wheel things?" he asked absentmindedly as he thought about making Marinette a vase or something.
Plagg stared at him with a horrified expression. Adrien sheepishly concluded that Plagg must be envisioning the mess Adrien would make as clay inexplicably splattered across his bedroom walls and Adrien somehow breaks a window (the way his day is going this seemed to be the more and more likely scenario). The silence dragged on for a full minute before Plagg visibly gulped.
"…I think you should stick with pen and paper," he said eventually.
"I can't draw!" Adrien protested.
"You can do other things with pen and paper," Plagg rolled his eyes exasperatedly, "Usually with words." He said as if Adrien was the stupidest person in the world. "You were able to make that poem, weren't you? So surely you can write another."
Adrien's face lit up at that. "You're right!" he cried out ecstatically. "I can write Marinette a poem or a story!"
"That's the spirit, kid!" Plagg cheered him on. "Now where's my camembert? This day has been exhausting and I'm starving."
Adrien would have uttered something snarky along the lines of 'you're always starving' or 'there's more important things than your stomach, Plagg' but he was too happy to finally have a creative talent that will make a decent present that he didn't care. He just wordlessly handed Plagg an unopened box of camembert which the cat spirit happily chowed down on as Adrien set to work.
But by the time midnight came and went, Adrien was surrounded by balls of screwed up paper and no actual poem or story to show for it. He found his poetry was too romantic for a friend's birthday (he tried praising Marinette's beauty, kindness, and many talents only to find it sounded a lot like describing his admiration for Ladybug which would definitely give Marinette the wrong idea) and that none of his stories can ever get past the one opening line of 'Once Upon a Time there lived a princess…'
Adrien collapsed against the cool, wooden, surface of his desk and groaned loudly. "Plagg," he moaned pathetically, "I'm beginning to think I don't have a creative bone in my body."
"Really?" Plagg drawled out sarcastically as he licked his paws clean of camembert. "I haven't noticed." Adrien just growled wordlessly in reply. "Give it up, kid," Plagg rolled his eyes, "You were never going to be able to make something. You've been chosen by the God of the Destruction for a reason. Ladybug has all the creativity in this partnership, not you."
"So I'm useless then?" Adrien complained.
"No, of course not!" Plagg cried out. "You have things that Ladybug doesn't. You balance each other out so whatever one doesn't have the other does. You make up for each other's flaws. You can't make anything to save your life but she's an artist, in return she won't have your head for languages and science. In fact," he added in a sly tone, "I bet my best cheese that she would screw up Chinese even if she was brought up by a Chinese parent that speaks it all the time."
Adrien blinked dumbly at that. "That's all very nice Plagg," he said eventually, unsure why Plagg felt the need to mention Chinese, "but that doesn't help me with Marinette's birthday present."
Plagg shot him an infuriated glare that made Adrien feel very, very, stupid. He was obviously, once again, fed up with Adrien's one track mind.
(Unbeknownst to Adrien, Plagg now felt like bashing his head against something hard. Here he had dropped a gigantic hint to Adrien about Ladybug's identity and the stupid, oblivious, boy hadn't twigged whatsoever! Oh, why did Plagg always get the stupid ones as well as the love sick ones?!)
"Just buy her something for God sake!" Plagg snapped irritably. "It's the thought that counts not whether or not you made it with your own two hands. I bet you anything she'll like it anyway because it's from you."
"…do you really think so?" Adrien asked hopelessly.
"Yes!" Plagg cried out in exasperation. "Now go to bed! It's almost two in the morning and you won't be able to find this stupid birthday present if you can't even stand on your two feet, will you?"
Adrien reluctantly obeyed Plagg and eventually got into bed and curled up beneath the covers. He would have lain there wide-awake worrying over not being able to make a present but he was so tired, so drained all of a sudden, that he immediately went to sleep straight away.
He had Marinette's scarf firmly clutched against his chest the whole night.
So Adrien ended up wandering round aimlessly the shopping district with the Gorilla looming over him like a giant, over-bearing, shadow.
Shopping, Adrien learnt quickly, was hell.
Especially when one didn't know what to buy. Adrien never had to buy a girl an actual present before. Usually he just sent out whatever latest item of his father's fashion line that Chloe had demanded whenever her birthday or Christmas….or when Chloe decided she just wanted something, rolled round. He never had to shop for a girl before.
After what felt like an eternity of going nowhere, the Gorilla kindly suggested that maybe Adrien should buy Marinette a nice bath set. Adrien, just grateful to have somewhere to go, readily agreed and they ended up in the nearest shop that sold bath bombs and body butters and whatever else girls apparently used in baths.
(Adrien was beginning to think he should invest in them simply because the stench of Plagg's cheese was getting harder and harder to hide)
This was when Adrien encountered his first real problem. The perfume of the shop was overpowering as were the many, many, choices and he had no idea where to start. When he did finally start (sniffing at a curiously bright fuchsia bath bomb sprinkled with glitter that looked like it would be at home with Rose), he found, much to his increasing frustration, that nothing smelt right.
Marinette had the unique scent of her parents' bakery and something floral. Neither appeared to have been bottled or turned into a bath bomb in this shop.
"None of them smell like her!" Adrien complained. "This is hopeless."
"Hn," the Gorilla grunted, "how about a nice book?"
And so they ended up in the gigantic book shop that was filled to the brim from the old classics to the latest, most popular, teen bestseller. Adrien eyed the shelves filled with teen fiction warily as he came to a horrifying realisation.
"You know I have never seen Marinette read a book," he said slowly, "I don't know what she would like."
The Gorilla, being all knowing, merely guided Adrien out of the bookshop before he could have a meltdown and led him to a big shop that sold DVDs and CDs instead. Adrien soon, however, found himself confronting the same problem he had in the bookshop.
He didn't know what Marinette liked!
"I don't know what sort of move she would like!" he cried out dramatically as he pulled at his hair in frustration. "Or what sort of music! She probably already has all the Jagged Stone albums, and why am I worrying about this?" he asked himself pitifully." No one buys CDs anymore. "Urgh!" he groaned and pulled at his hair harder. "I'm an idiot!"
"Hn," the Gorilla grunted.
The Gorilla was now too busy browsing the shelves for himself to actually pay Adrien any attention which gave Plagg the perfect opportunity to poke his head out from beneath Adrien's collar.
"You're telling me," he snickered into Adrien's ear. "The Princess likes fashion, doesn't she?" he asked curiously. "Why don't you just give her a free sample from your father's range and just go home. We can be lying back and enjoying some cheese right now instead of stressing out in this horrible, crowded, smelly place."
"Plagg!" Adrien hissed indignantly. "I'm not giving her free samples of my father's fashion line, that's….that's….cheating! Marinette deserves better than that. I have to give her a really thoughtful gift that I picked out myself," he stressed the importance of his task once more, "Something unexpected and-"
"OH MY GOD!" Adrien and Plagg both stiffened at that as they both feared the worst….that someone had spotted Plagg and was freaking out but before Adrien could even think of an excuse to stammer out or a way to divert the girl who was pointing at him dramatically, she let out another shrill squeal. "IT'S ADRIEN AGRESTE!" the girl screamed.
Adrien barely had time to blink as a mob of teenage girls suddenly charged in his direction. Fortunately though the Gorilla was well used to his and merely scooped Adrien up and dashed out of the shop. They were chased for a full five minutes before the Gorilla successfully evaded them and soon enough they were safe in the car.
It took another fifteen minutes to persuade the Gorilla to not go home but go somewhere else. Adrien suspected it took less time than usual because the Gorilla was feeling sorry for him.
Adrien leaned back against the cool leather of his seat and sighed heavily as the Gorilla began to aimlessly drive round town while waiting for a decision to be made. Adrien had no idea what to do next.
He was severely beginning to doubt there was such thing as a gift fit for a princess….he was going to end up turning up to Marinette's birthday party without a present….he'll be the only one and how would Marinette feel when everyone, even Chloe, gives her a gift but Adrien?!
She'll end up hating him again….
"All right Kid, enough is enough!" Plagg said firmly as he wiggled out of Adrien's shirt to sit on his shoulder. Adrien would have scolded him about coming out and talking in front of the Gorilla but the Gorilla was too busy paying attention to the roads and muttering curse words about foreign drivers to notice a talking black cat on Adrien's shoulder. "I can't sit back and watch you suffer any longer it's not entertaining anymore," Adrien spluttered indignantly at that, his pain and suffering was merely entertainment to Plagg?! "I am thousands of years old and I have seen thousands upon thousands of men endure the same problem you are going through." At this Plagg rolled his eyes. He was blatantly unimpressed with the universal sufferings of mankind. "I am about to give you the age-old secret to the best present a man can ever give a woman."
"Plagg," Adrien murmured with barely suppressed impatience. "I swear to God if you're telling me I should get Marinette some cheese I will throttle you."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Plagg scoffed. "Cheese is what you should be buying me, not the Princess." Plagg said haughtily as he sniffed indignantly. "She would never appreciate the fine quality of a perfectly aged ch-"
"Just tell me the secret already!" Adrien snapped.
"Youth these days, so impatient," Plagg sighed in a melodramatic manner. Adrien glowered at him furiously in reply. "All right, all right," Plagg said hastily before the threat of withholding cheese was uttered. "I'll tell you! The answer is simple. Jewellery."
"Jewellery?!" Adrien repeated incredulously.
After all, it was surely not that that simple….right?
"Jewellery," Plagg repeated sagely. "Take it from me, kid, no matter what century it is, no matter what culture it is, all women like something pretty and sparkly. You cannot lose with jewellery."
And that was how they ended up in an up-market jewellery shop that was safe and sound from rampaging teenage girls. The Gorilla waited outside patiently as Adrien went in just in case the sheer size and bulk of the Gorilla's body accidentally knocked a case or two down. Adrien didn't mind, secretly he was relieved, it was a bit awkward to have a bodyguard virtually all the time.
Once inside the jewellery shop, Adrien was suddenly overwhelmed as there was so many necklaces and earrings and bracelets in various designs, and metals, and different jewels…..he had no idea where to start.
Fortunately the shop assistant noticed his plight and approached him immediately. "Can I help you, young man?" he asked politely.
"I…erm….ah…" Adrien stuttered, suddenly taken off guard," I'm just having a nose," he muttered embarrassedly as he scratched the back of his head.
"Of course," the shop assistant nodded understandingly, "if you need any help just ask."
So Adrien slowly moved round the room as he took in each and every piece of jewellery. The really over the top, bulky, mega-expensive items were immediately dismissed. Aside from the fact his father would murder him if he brought a horrifyingly expensive piece of jewellery for a girl, none of them were really Marinette's style. Marinette preferred simpler, more elegant, designs. Though some of the simple pieces were too simple and didn't feel impressive enough for Adrien to present to Marinette, so they too were dismissed out of hand. He then ruled out earrings, Marinette had a pair on that she never, ever, took off, and he didn't want to have to make her choose between his present and what was obviously a very prized possession of hers.
He also decided not to buy her a ring because the implications made his cheeks burn bright with embarrassment. He didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea.
So that left a variety of necklaces and bracelets that he dithered and pondered and harrumphed over (much to Plagg's increasing frustration), until a brilliant blue, with undertones of green and purple, suddenly caught the corner of his eye.
He dashed towards it and was so close that his breath made fog marks all over the glass pane as he examined the necklace closely. It was a large oval stone that sat on its side and sparkled a magnificent blue. The stone itself was surrounded by a halo of diamonds and hung on a gold chain. It was simple but not too simple, and absolutely stunning, and most certainly something that Adrien could see hanging on Marinette's neck. The blue would bring out her beautiful eyes….
He may have just found a gift fit for a princess after all.
"That blue!" he gasped as he jabbed a finger at the cabinet. The shop assistant immediately appeared at his side, ready to be at his service. "It's perfect!" he exclaimed. "Erm excuse me," he mumbled a little shyly, "Sir, what is this?"
"Australian Opal," the shop assistant explained, "A fine colour isn't it?"
"It is," Adrien agreed happily, "I'll take it!"
The shop assistant looked taken aback at that. "Young man," he said gently, "this necklace might be a little out of your price range. Perhaps-"
"I don't care how much it costs," Adrien interrupted in a polite, but firm, voice, "I have spent forever trying to find the perfect gift and here it is. Here," he shoved his credit card (that was supposed to be for emergencies but in Adrien's defence this was an emergency"), "just stick it on my card."
The shop assistant did so and very helpfully placed the necklace in a gift wrapped box for Adrien. When all was paid for and packed away, and Adrien and the shop assistant exchanged the typical pleasantries, Adrien turned to leave.
"Good luck with your lady," the shop assistant called out, "She must be a very special girl,"
Adrien thought about Marinette's kindness and compassion, her efforts of making everyone, including Chloe, a beautiful birthday present, her bravery and desire to do what's right, her artistic talents, and her sweet, sweet, smile, and couldn't help but smile at the thought of her.
"Yeah," he murmured to himself, "she is."
"Oh bother," Plagg grumbled as he popped his head back out. They were once again in the car as a very relieved and exhausted Gorilla drove them back home. "Are you satisfied now?" Plagg demanded rudely. "Can we now go home?"
"Yes," Adrien said happily as he grinned down at the little bag that held his present. "I have finally found a gift fit for a princess. I hope she likes it. An opal for my Oh-pal, heh!" he snickered at his own pun. Sometimes, he really was awesome. "I should write that in her card."
Plagg looked at him with the utmost disgust. "Do yourself a favour," he drawled out, "….don't."
Adrien, unfortunately, had a photo shoot for majority of Saturday and was therefore late for Marinette's birthday party.
When Adrien arrived at Marinette's birthday party, it was already in full swing. The entirety of their class were already crowded in Marinette's living room as Mr and Mrs Dupain-Cheng hovered round hovering food and drinks to anyone that looked a little hungry. Marinette was seated in the middle of the room as their friends surrounded her, her cheeks were bright pink with flattered embarrassment, as a small pile of opened presents sat by her feet.
She was in the middle of opening a card when Adrien appeared. Though calling it a card was an exaggeration of the highest levels, it was simply a piece of white paper folded (sloppily) in half with HAPPY BIRTHDAY written in messy capital letters and a load of glitter thrown at it.
"Thank you, Chloe," Marinette said awkwardly, "it's so thoughtful of you to make me a birthday card."
"I know," Chloe said arrogantly as she flipped her hair, "and now you can finally update your wardrobe with something stylish as well. I'm such a good person."
Marinette looked as if she swallowed a lemon while Alya looked absolutely downright furious. "She means," Sabrina jumped in hastily, "you're welcome."
"Hmm…" Mrs Dupain-Cheng hummed, her lips set in a straight line of disapproval, "I hope so," she muttered quietly to her husband, "that child honestly…"
Adrien chose this moment to step forwards and make his presence known. If he waited a moment longer he was half certain that Alya would have scratched Chloe's eyes out on Marinette's behalf. Instead Alya caught sight of him and smiled (rather sinisterly, if you ask Adrien); "Hi Adrien!" she said cheerfully.
"Adri-kins!" Chloe screeched in delight. She moved to fling her arms round Adrien but found her path blocked by Ivan who was sprawled out on the floor with Mylene in his lap. "Move!" she hissed furiously.
Chloe looked on the verge of exploding but no one paid her any notice as Adrien stepped towards Marinette and shyly held out his present. "Happy Birthday, Marinette," he smiled nervously.
"Meep!" Marinette squeaked as she turned a deeper pink. "I mean," she coughed, "Happy Birthday, Adrien," her shy, sweet, smile turned into a look of mortification as she realised what she had just said, "I-I-I m-m-mean not Birthday Happy, no! Not that! I mean Happy Birthday, I….ah….Guh…." several people smirked and snickered (or just looked plain embarrassed) at that as Marinette buried her face into her hands, "Alya!" she hissed desperately. "Help me!"
"What Marinette meant to say," Alya said loudly, "is thank you."
Adrien smiled awkwardly as an even more awkward silence descended on the room as Marinette unwrapped her present. Her eyes widened as she inhaled sharply when she opened the little jewellery box to reveal the necklace. "Oh…." She gasped. "Oh….It's beautiful!" she cried out. "Adrien," she said a little horrified, "You really shouldn't have!"
"I should," Adrien said firmly, uncomfortably aware that everyone was staring at him. In fact his cheeks were rapidly turning as pink as Marinette's as he caught the sly smirks and whispers amongst his classmates and Chloe's furious look. "You deserve more."
"More? More?!" Alya repeated incredulously. "Jesus Christ, Agreste, I think this sparkly bit of bling is definitely more enough!"
"Ooh!" Rose squealed delightedly. "Let me see! Let me see!"
Hesitatingly, Marinette held up the necklace which induced gasps from everyone (Chloe turned a hideous puce colour a she crossed her arms sulkily). "Bloody hell, mate!" Kim cried out. "You're making the rest of us look bad."
Adrien was ninety nine per cent sure that his cheeks were definitely on fire now. "I…erm…just couldn't make something," he mumbled uselessly.
"What is that?" Juleka asked curiously. "A sapphire?"
"No, no," Adrien shook his head, "it's an Australian opal."
"Urgh," Chloe pulled a face, "opals," she said revulsion. "If it isn't diamond then what's the point?"
"No one asked you," Alya said irritably, "but I suspect those pretty little gems surrounding the giant ass opal are diamonds, are they not?"
Adrien nodded which resulted in Alya looking triumphant, Marinette on the verge of dying of embarrassment, and Chloe absolutely furious. "Opals," Alix said oblivious to the mini-drama behind her, "aren't they supposed to be unlucky?"
Adrien immediately deflated as horror filled him. Of course he managed to pick out a gem that was notorious for bad luck. Of course he couldn't pick out a normal birthday present. He was Chat Noir, of course he would be incapable of picking out a nice, normal, present that isn't cursed with bad luck.
"That's all right!" Marinette said hastily. "I'm sure my own luck will cancel it out. Hey," she turned to Alya, "help me put it on?" she asked. Alya nodded and, after some fumbling about, Alya helped clasp the necklace round Marinette's neck.
The brilliant blue stone looked radiant against her collarbone.
Marinette brushed hr fingers against it reverently before she smiled up at Adrien with a breath-taking grin. "Thank you!" she said breathlessly.
Adrien's heart did a little flutter at that. "You're welcome," he murmured back.
(Unseen by either of the, the entire class shared knowing smirks, Chloe got even crosser and angrily shoved a cupcake in her mouth in order to repress a furious scream, and Marinette's parents looked utterly delighted as Marinette and Adrien appeared to be in a world of their own as they stared at one another in almost a loving manner.)
There was a brief moment of silence and then suddenly the party carried on in full swing as Nino played some music (apparently a CD mix he made for Marinette's birthday present) and everyone began to gossip, dance, and play about and fill themselves up on the wonders that was Dupain-Cheng cooking. Marinette's parents had disappeared altogether and left them to it as they worked on something in the bakery.
"Hey!" Alya clapped her hands suddenly. "Let's all play Spin the Bottle."
"WHAT?!" Marinette immediately flushed bright red at that. "W-w-why would you suggest that?" she stuttered.
"Because it's something fun," Alya grinned, "and silly, and what are birthday parties for other than to do things that are fun and silly?"
"W-w-we c-c-can't!" Marinette stammered as she wrung her hands nervously. "I don't have a bottle!"
"Yes you do," Alya said in a sing-song voice as she rummaged through her bag. "Tada!" she cried out triumphantly as he held up an empty, glass, bottle.
Marinette's eyes narrowed with suspicion. "…You've planned this," she accused Alya quietly.
"Of course I did," Alya said shamelessly, "now come on everyone!" she yelled as she gestured widely to the room. "Let's gather round, gather round."
Everyone obeyed and, after some bickering and shoving, they settled down in a circle with Alya standing over them.
"I'll go first," Alya said firmly as she sat down eagerly and with deliberate, smug, slowness, she spun the bottle. It whirled three quarters of the way round the circle before it landed on Marinette, "come here darling!" Marinette giggled as Alya left a sloppy kiss on her cheek. "Rose, next!"
Rose, who sat on Alya's right, flushed with embarrassment before she reached out and spun the bottle. It landed on Max and with a soft sigh of relief, Rose leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss on Max's forehead. The game went quickly as the bottle dictated strange pairings, Nino kissed Mylene, Kim and Max had to be wolf-whistled into their kiss, Alix had no problem planting a melodramatic, sloppy, kiss on a screaming Chloe, and Sabrina almost died of fright and embarrassment as she had to kiss Ivan, and then, before he knew it, it was Adrien's turn…
Hesitatingly, he reached out and touched the bottle.
"MOVE!" Kim bellowed. "GO! GO! GO!"
Adrien had only just spun the bottle when suddenly the entire class, apart from Marinette, who looked startled like a deer caught in headlights, leaped back to the walls of the room. Kim held back a squirming Chloe. "LET ME GO!" she screamed as she struggled and wiggled in Kim's arms. "LET ME GO YOU BARBARIAN!"
"Nope!" Kim grinned. "Not going to happen."
Chloe let out an enraged scream that made everyone grimace and cover their ears in agony but Kim held on and everyone's eyes were on Adrien and Marinette….Adrien suddenly felt really uncomfortable.
We were this close to just kidnapping you and offering you up on a silver platter… Adrien had a distinct feeling that this was him being served on a silver platter to Marinette….goddamnit Nino! A little warning would have been nice.
"Go on Adrien," Alya encouraged him with false sweetness, "the bottle landed on Marinette." It hadn't. It had pointed to the left of Marinette where Mylene had been sitting not that long ago. "Come on!" Alya snapped irritably. "Kiss the girl!"
"A-A-Alya!" Marinette stammered as she blushed a deep, dark, pink. "D-d-don't make A-A-Adrien do something h-h-h-e doesn't w-w-want to!"
Adrien stepped forwards and placed a hand on Marinette's shoulder which made her jump slightly. "Its fine," he reassured her with a soft smile. "It's just a game, right?"
"Y-y-yeah!" Marinette agreed with a weak smile and a nod. "Just a game."
They shared an awkward, embarrassed, smile as Adrien felt his cheeks burn as brightly as Marinette's. He leaned in slowly before, eventually, his lips pressed against hers gently. It was only three seconds before he pulled away but it was three, very long, exciting, seconds as it felt like fireworks were exploding beneath every inch of his skin.
He pulled away and felt his breath catch in his throat as he caught Marinette's wide, blue, and dazed eyes. Marinette's face was now so red that it would match perfectly with Ladybug's suit but before she could say something, or someone could say or do something, or even Adrien could say something, the door behind them suddenly banged open against the wall and Adrien and Marinette leaped away from one another without a second thought.
"Happy Birthday to you!" Mr and Mrs Dupain-Cheng sang loudly as they walked in with the biggest, pinkest, birthday cake Adrien had ever seen. "Happy Birthday to you!" everyone joined in just as loudly, cheerfully, and tunelessly, "Happy Birthday dear Marinette, Happy Birthday to you!"
"Make a wish sweetie!" Mr Dupain encouraged.
Marinette's eyes flickered towards Adrien as she fiddled with her new necklace. She then closed her eyes serenely before she leaned over and blew out the candles. Everyone (barring Chloe) cheered and the party carried on as if the kissing game never happened.
Soon the party drew to a close and everyone began to leave. Adrien hovered uncertainly as he waited to say goodbye to Marinette when he saw her embrace Alya tightly. "Thank you, Alya!" he heard Marinette whisper excitedly, "that was the best birthday ever! I can't believe I got to kiss Adrien!" she murmured in wonder. "That was definitely the best present anyone has ever given me!"
He flushed at that and suddenly found himself rooted to spot as embarrassment and shyness flooded him. He had no idea how to compute the fact that Marinette thought a kiss from him was the best present in the world.
"Anything for you, girl," Alya replied as she hugged Marinette back just as tightly, "Happy Birthday."
It was then when Alya and Marinette realised Adrien was close by and instantaneously Marinette collapsed back into her usual stammering and stuttering self as Adrien nervously gave his goodbyes.
"I'll see you at school," he called out shyly.
"Y-Y-Yeah," Marinette stuttered back as she fiddled with her necklace, "I'll school you see. I mean! You see school. I mean! I will see you at school! Gah!"
Adrien chuckled as he headed into the limo. He sank down into the comfortable leather seat and sighed with exhaustion. "I can't believe it," he murmured, "her idea of the best present is a kiss."
"See this is why I don't bother," Plagg drawled out lazily. "You wasted days worrying over what to get the Princess, spent hours making mess after mess in an attempt to make her a present, and was almost mobbed by rabid fangirls when all you had to do really was just give her a kiss from her Prince Charming."
"S-s-shut up, Plagg!" Adrien flushed. "I'm not her Prince Charming."
"Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you're not," Plagg purred out sarcastically, "just like you didn't spend days panicking over finding, and I quote, a gift fit for a princess."
"….No cheese for you tonight."