(A/N): So here we are!
We've reached the end of this journey, last stop!
You've all been amazing and incredible people and I want to thank you and make sure you realise at least to some extent how utterly awesome your comments and support have been!
I know I'm pretty terrible for replying to comments (and messages. Don't worry, I'm like that with texts and messenger and everything else in life too.) but I do read each and every one, and they truly do make my day. I'm not kidding.
I hope you've had as much fun reading this story as I've had writing it, and I hope to see some of you along for the ride on future/on-going stories!
Happy reading!

Chapter Fifteen

It took Alya an almost painfully long time to calm down. Such a long time, indeed, that her squeals and arm-flailing attracted the attention of their whole class. For the most part Marinette merely stood beside Adrien, fighting the furious scarlet blush on her face and feeling her cheeks hurt from the seemingly permanent smile she was wearing. It was an overwhelmingly positive response, rocketing Marinette onto a high and reminding her that her days of sitting on the bench with no-one wanting her to play were long gone.

Adrien was charming and bashful and sweet as the boys clapped him on the back and the girls squealed and gave Marinette hug after hug. Nathanaël gave Marinette a brief hug and a smile, his face aflame just like hers. All the while, Alya bounded around like an excited puppy and hollered about how totally she had called it!

Sabrina gave Marinette and Adrien a small smile, checking surreptitiously over her shoulder as though making sure Chloé wasn't there to catch her doing such a thing.

And as for Chloé herself, well when she turned up the battle was already in full swing, students shrieking and streaking through the snow as they chased each other with handfuls of icy cold and wicked laughter. It was girls versus boys for a while, everyone cat-calling and shouting taunts whenever Marinette or Adrien targeted the other. It gave the class something to weaponise, hoping they'd be soft on one another in the new stage of their relationship.

They were sorely disappointed.

Marinette and Adrien attacked each other with a jovial fierceness that was both thrilling and almost frightening, making bold moves from behind cover and shouting trash talk at each other though their laughter.

It was during this portion of the Snowball war that Chloé had arrived, reluctant as always to get fully involved and demanding they change the game to partners seeing as how she would need someone to be her bodyguard. Sabrina was deemed too small for the task, Chloé insisting she needed a boy for the job.

Of course, she set her sights, but she hadn't even made it half way across the churned up snowy expanse to Adrien before people were calling out playful warnings to Marinette and an Ooooooohhh rolled across the park. Chloé faltered in her march, looking around suspiciously. Sabrina carefully avoided her gaze, pretending to be busy with the zip on her coat.

"What?" she demanded, throwing her ponytail over her shoulder, "Why are you all staring like that?" Suddenly she flashed a smile and struck a pose, "Is it the new coat? Papa had it sewn from Madagascan spider silk. Isn't it dreamy?"

She fluffed the fur-lined hood around her chin and even threw in a twirl, spinning delicately on the toes of one snow boot, the decorative blue coat flaring out around her. In response all that could be heard was a gleeful laugh from Alix. When Chloé straightened again with a scowl, throwing a killer glare Alix's way, the smaller girl only grinned, standing with her legs planted firmly and her hands on her hips.

"If you want Adrien you got a fight on your hands!" she cried, looking absolutely thrilled to be anticipating the coming revelation.

"Excuse me?" Chloé huffed, crossing her arms and throwing out one hip, "You wouldn't dare."

Alix cackled again, bending almost double with mirth. It only infuriated Chloé further, which in turn made Alix's laughter that much more hysterical.

"Ohh-hoho! Not me!" she screeched, looking bold and almost dangerous where she stood, facing the prissy blonde across the make-shift battlefield.

Chloé looked ready to explode, swinging her gaze around for her usual sidekick, her expression demanding answers. Sabrina seemed to shrink, looking at Chloé balefully for a few faint seconds before ducking her head and gesturing timidly in Marinette's direction, shooting the secret superhero an apologetic look.

Chloé rounded on Marinette instantly, her gaze zeroing in on the minute space between herself and Adrien. She sent Marinette an icy glare even as her lips twisted into a smile and her eyelashes fluttered. Her voice was a simper.

"Adrikins! Come be my partner. You don't to be stuck with Marinette all day. Once you get paired with her you'll never get rid of her."

Marinette bristled at the way that somehow, even when every other word was ripping in syrup, Chloé always managed to make her name sound like it tasted bad. She clenched her hands at her sides, opening her mouth to retort as she felt her cheeks blaze and her expression set.

She was so done with Chloé's crap! Now, now, when Adrien and she had finally become what she'd wanted so long, she was done. No more biting her tongue or allowing Alya to drag her off as she fumed unintelligibly and bemoaned her inability to say anything for fear of giving away her crush on Adrien.

Well, he knew now, didn't he? And there was no way MArinette was going to put up with Chloé throwing herself at Adrien every other moment, hanging off his arm and getting the stench of whatever snooty perfume she chose to wear that day all over him when he smelled just heavenly all on his own.

"Look here, Chloé," she began, taking a single striding step forwards before a hand caught her own.

"Good." Adrien spoke over her, his voice clear and powerful in the wintry air.

And then several things happened all at once to leave Marinette feeling a little breathless and rather dazed. Adrien's arm swept her up against his side, warm and comforting on her waist. His face lit into a daring expression, all glittering eyes and toothy smile and Cat Noir. and he tossed Chloé a firm, irrefutable look.

"I look forward to being her partner all day." he told Chloé.

And before her expression even had time to fully crumble, he dropped a kiss against Marinette's temple, giving her a soft and adoring look.

"Considering she is my girlfriend, after all."

His voice was certain, brave and strong and unruffled by the ensuing screech coming from the pretty blonde.

His eyes belonged only to Marinette in that moment.

"Right?" he asked her, sweet and quiet and shy.

Marinette reached up on her toes to kiss his cheek.

"Damn right."

His grin was dazzling, and any thought of Chloé went clean out of her head as Marinette looked up at him, dimly aware of people shouting and cheering and jeering and someone, somewhere, hollering a dying scream.

Chloé didn't bother to stick around to fight in the Snowball war.

And nobody cared.

Even Sabrina quickly moved past the incident, teaming up with Nathanaël in the hopes of burying Jean and Mireille in snow before they themselves were attacked.

Pairs were forged and betrayals tossed around like confetti in a parade. Marinette and Adrien fought seamlessly, attacking first Nino and Alya and then going after Ivan, Rose, Juleka. The tradition was upheld, each teenager dissolving into that joyous adrenaline, that feeling that only snowball fights could really incite. Nino promised to provide the bubbles afterwards, should Marinette, Adrien and Alya provide hot chocolate.

Marinette had never felt so bold and daring without her spotted mask.

"I thought you said they were terrible!" Kim cried, diving behind a bush and knocking into Alix as he did.

"They were!" Nino wailed, looking out across the battlefield with wide, surprised eyes. "We slaughtered them!"

"Well they don't look slaughtered now!" Alix shouted, using Kim as a shield as she lobbed a fairly large snowball at Lila, earning a startled squeal that made her laugh.

Behind their thicket Adrien and Marinette were grinning, their backs pressed together as they caught their breath. Marinette turned her head to look at him just as he turned to do the same. Blue eyes met green and wicked, matching grins crossed their faces.

"Maybe we just make great partners!" Adrien called out, laughing as their classmates boo'ed and called him out, clearly sore losers now that he was getting the hang of this snowball thing.

He felt Marinette's mittened hand slip into his, and she squeezed.

"We make the best partners." she breathed, her cheeks warmed pink from exertion and the cold, her eyes sparkling because they were winning and they were doing it together.

One of her pigtails was looser than the other and her fringe was full of half-melted snow and the tip of her nose was pink and her eyes were so, so blue. She'd never looked more beautiful. Adrien twisted around, keeping behind the tree trunk as he faced her. He heard her breath catch, saw a tremor run through her arm as she swallowed. Her eyes were trained on him and he couldn't help the smirk that coiled at the corner of his mouth.

"Indeed we do, Milady." he answered her in a whisper.

And although she squeaked in response and the red in her cheeks deepened to a scarlet, when he tilted his face down to kiss her she didn't complain.