Emma Agreste always thought her life was perfect.
It was hard not to think so when she had the best, most loving, parents in the world, the most awesome friend in her twin brother, the cutest (if annoying and rather boring) little sister, the coolest aunts and uncles, grandparents that fed her free cakes, and everything she could possibly ever want at the tips of her fingers. Her parents were rich, and famous, from their fashion business, and she never had to know what it was like to go hungry or cold or to not get a present at Christmas or on her birthday. She had a freaking rock wall in one of the spare bedrooms of her gigantic home. She definitely never needed to worry about anything.
And then one day it all changed.
It started on a normal day which instantly meant she was woken up by Hugo to get ready for school.
"Em," Hugo said impatiently as he shook her, "Em, wake up! Your alarm has been going off for the last twenty minutes."
"Meh," Emma groaned into her pillow, "five more minutes, Hugh."
"No," Hugo said sternly, "you get up now or I get Mum and tell her you were the one that ate all of her cookies that-"
"I'm up!" Emma gasped as she sat up abruptly.
Mum's cookies were a sacred food item that no one was allowed to touch (everyone else had their own cookies they had to share), much like Dad's camembert (which no one in their right mind would want to touch, so that was okay), and on one of Emma's midnight snack raids she had gobbled the lot. Hugo helped her keep it secret but there was no escaping punishment as they both got grounded that time with a threat if Mum ever found out who really ate them all they would get extra punishment. It had been a month ago and Emma had no doubt Mum would follow through with the punishment. Mum was strict like that.
"Good," Hugo said satisfied, "because we're leaving in twenty minutes and Dad's making eggs."
"Dad always makes eggs."
It was the only thing he could cook. So every morning for breakfast, without fail, when it was Dad's turn to sort out breakfast they had scrambled eggs on toast. It was really boring but they all ate it without complaint because it made Dad happy.
Quickly, Emma got dressed before she ran down the long corridor, and then the marble stairs, and then some more long corridors (their house is really big, she didn't get why, but Mum said it was something about Dad upholding Grandfather Gabriel's legacy) before she burst into the kitchen where Dottie was gurgling in her highchair, Hugo was calmly eating his own eggs, and Dad was humming cheerfully as he cooked eggs.
"Good morning Little Lady," Dad greeted her with his biggest, happiest, grin, "have you overslept again?"
"Uhuh," Emma mumbled as she shovelled the eggs down her throat, "where's Mum?" she asked with her mouth full.
"Also oversleeping," Dad winked, "like mother, like daughter, huh?" he ruffled Emma's hair affectionately. "Do you have anything exciting planned today?"
"No," Emma pulled a face, "just boring school. What about you, Dad?"
"Definitely not," her Dad pulled a face, "just boring work with lots of boring meetings while Mum gets to sit off and draw all day."
"Poor Daddy," Emma said sympathetically, "this is why when I grow up I'm going to be an adventurer. So I won't be stuck in boring old meetings."
"I think you'll find," Dad replied, his green eyes – the same as her's – twinkling in amusement, "that every job has boring old meetings. Even adventurers."
"Good morning!" Mum called out as she clattered into the kitchen loudly and clumsily in her high heels. She almost fell over completely but Dad caught her in time and they shared one of their extra lovey-dovey, super goofy, absolutely sickening, smiles. "Hey Hot Stuff," Mum murmured huskily.
"My Lady," Dad replied.
Emma and Hugo exchanged disgusted looks and gagged loudly. Mum and Dad jumped slightly and laughed awkwardly. "All right, all right, we get it you two," Mum said as she kissed Hugo's temple in greeting, "no more icky love stuff at the breakfast table," she pressed a kiss on Dottie's forehead and then moved over to kiss Emma. "Oh kitten," she murmured as she ran a hand thorough Emma's hair, "you haven't brushed your hair at all."
"I'm seven," Emma said, "why should I care what I look like?"
"Because," Mum said as she pulled out her hairbrush from her handbag, "you don't want anyone to know what a terror you really are until after they get to know you." Emma moaned and whined as her mother attacked the tangles in Emma's hair and forced her unruly, black-blue, curls into ponytail, "much better," Mum said with a satisfied smile, "I can see your pretty face now."
Emma pulled a face at that. "I'm not pretty," she mumbled, "Dottie's pretty."
Dottie was only two, five whole years younger than Emma, but already she had the sweetest face with great, big, blue-green eyes that no one else could ever have. She also used to have fair hair like Hugo but it was beginning to turn a pretty chestnut brown colour ("She'll end up with brown hair like Grandpa," Mum had predicted not so long ago). Emma, however, had messy weird hair, cat-like green eyes, and a load of hideous freckles.
"You're pretty," Mum said sternly, "I won't hear another word otherwise." For some reason Dad coughed loudly at that and Mum narrowed her eyes playfully at that. "You can hardly talk, Kitty," she said pointedly as she approached him by the stove, "I recall someone else being just as insecure as I was."
"All in the past now," Dad said casually, "eggs?" he offered the pan up.
"As much as I would love to eat your delicious eggs," Mum said, "I have to get Dottie to the bakery and then get into the office. There's a meeting on the spring line, remember?"
"Don't remind me," Dad moaned, "just go, go and let my excellent cooking go to waste while I pine for my wife as she abandons me on this fine morning," he said melodramatically.
"Oh please," Mum rolled her eyes, "first thing, Kitty, your cooking is hardly excellent and, secondly, after dropping the Kittens off at school you'll be by my side virtually all day. You'll hardly be pining."
"Hmm…" Dad hummed appreciatively, "you're right. You should go now so I can actually pine a little."
"Goodbye Adrien," Mum rolled her eyes again as she kissed Dad's cheek, "the kids' lunches are in the fridge."
"Also in the fridge," Mum replied as she hauled Dottie out of her highchair, "ooh!" she groaned. "You're getting so big, Little Bug," she told the giggling, happy, two year old. "Say bye, bye to Daddy and your brother and sister."
"Bye, bye!" Dottie repeated obediently as she waved. "Bye, bye!"
Everyone called out their goodbyes and soon enough they were in the regular routine of going to school. School was one of the few things that made Emma's life less than perfect. It was so boring with its reading and numeracy classes but there were upsides, like playtime, and friends, and Mum's delicious lunches, and art class. Emma happily drew a picture of her family, as she always did unless she had another idea, and was praised warmly by her teacher for it.
Eventually school was over and Mum came to pick them up while Dad had to work late. After picking up Dottie from Grandpa and Grandma's (and being stuffed to the brim with cakes despite Mum's loud protests), they arrived home.
"I want you to go into the dining room and do your homework," Mum said as she fumbled with the house keys. "I'll be there to help in a minute but first – oh God!" she groaned. And then as soon as the door slammed open, Mum vanished into the nearest bathroom.
"Looks like Mummy is busy," Emma said cheerfully to Dottie, "so your big sister Emma will play with you instead."
"Oh no you don't," Hugo said sternly, "Mum said to do homework first. And I know you have numeracy homework. I'm in your class."
Sometimes it really sucks to have your older, twin, brother in the same class as you. Especially when Hugo, despite all of his awesomeness with his cleverness and wit, can be such a stuck in the mud. Emma grumbled as they settled into their way too big dining room and spread out their homework. Dottie sat on the end happily scribbling in crayons while Hugo guarded his homework jealousy from Emma's attempts of cheating off of him.
What? She hated maths.
After what felt like an eternity, Mum re-emerged from the bathroom. She looked a little pale but otherwise she was her usual happy self. "Are you okay, Mum?" Hugo asked worriedly.
"I'm fine, Kitten," Mum replied cheerfully, "I'm just going to put the dinner on. You two keep up the good work."
Emma grumbled, she really hated homework, but under Hugo's patient, guiding, hand, she was able to work out the harder questions and soon enough they were allowed to play. Dinner came and went, and was delicious as always, and then Dottie was bathed and sent to bed, and Emma and Hugo had to do their reading homework as they took it in turns to read their assigned books out to their mother who gently corrected them when it was needed.
Mum then insisted it was bath time and both Emma and Hugo grumbled as they were forced to share a bath together and then they had to have their hairs washed and Mum used the nit comb. Double torture.
Though it was worth it after Mum dried them off with the big, fluffy, towels and kissed their noses, as she would then let them snuggle in with her in her bed as she read a whole chapter of Harry Potter. They had started it last year and both twins were utterly hooked on the magical world. Emma wanted nothing more than to be a Gryffindor and have adventures like Harry.
"That's it Kittens," Mum said firmly as she snapped the book shut, "time for bed."
"But Mum!" Emma whined. "It's still early! One more chapter! Please!"
"Yes Mum," Hugo chipped in pleadingly, "just one more chapter. Please!"
"Nope!" Mum shook her head. "It's eight o'clock and time for bed. You know the rules." Emma pouted defiantly but Hugo folded instantly and kissed Mum on the cheek goodnight. "Night, night baby," Mum replied warmly as she hugged Hugo tightly. Hugo, the traitor he is, then sloped off to bed leaving Emma sulking on her parents' bed and to fend herself. Mum held her arms out insistently. Emma would like to say she held out but sadly, like Dad, she couldn't resist her Mum's big blue eyes staring pleadingly at her, and she soon crawled into her Mum's embrace and snuggled in deeply against her Mum's shoulder. Mum smelt like baked goods, flowers, and something really, extra, nice. It was one of the best smells in the world. "Night, night, Em," Mum murmured.
"Night, night Mummy," Emma replied before she pressed a kiss on Mum's cheek, "See you in the morning."
She got another kiss on her forehead and soon enough Emma was tightly tucked into bed. Her bed was amazingly soft and comfortable and warm and toasty….
…and she couldn't sleep.
Emma was restless. She tossed, she turned, she rolled into different positions, she cuddled up to her Ladybug and Chat Noir dolls, but nothing helped her fall asleep. She just couldn't! Eventually it all got too much and she kicked off her blankets and decided to go in hunt for a Midnight snack.
Perhaps she would find some more extra-nice cookies….
Slowly, quietly, she padded along the corridor and she was just about to go down the stairs when she saw him. He was tall, blonde, wore lots of black, had his arms all over Mum, and was most certainly not her Dad. She crouched down, suddenly incapable of standing, eyes wide, as she took in the horrifying sight. Her Mum's arms were wrapped round the strange man's neck and his own hands were round her waist like Dad's usually would be. Emma barely stifled a gasp as the man pulled her mother in close and his lips suddenly covered hers.
Emma was frozen for a solid minute as she watched her mother passionately kiss another man.
And then she suddenly remembered how to use her legs and whirled round hurriedly. She dashed down the corridor, slammed open Hugo's bedroom door, and dived onto his bed.
"Hugo! Hugo!" she cried out as she shook her brother. "Wake up! Wake up! Hugo, you got to wake up!"
"Huh?" Hugo groaned sleepily. "What's the matter?" he slurred. "Did you have a bad dream?"
"No!" Emma shook her head. "You will never believe it!" she declared. "But Hugo," she lowered her voice to a whisper, "I saw Mummy kiss Chat Noir!"