"Wait, start over!" Rose pleaded, having just hauled Juleka all the way from across the courtyard to hear the story Adrien and Marinette had told seven and a half times already this morning. "Please! Juleka hasn't heard yet and she's been saying you guys were perfect for each other for years!"
Juleka's jaw dropped at the news. "It finally happened?" There was a chorus of confirmation from the small crowd of friends that was currently gathered around Adrien and Marinette.
"Come on, just tell it one more time," Alix prodded, jamming her elbow into Adrien's side. "It's literally sickening how cute it is," she whispered to Juleka with a toothy grin.
"You guys are ruthless," Marinette whined, still struggling to remove herself from Alya's gleeful iron clutches. (She had latched on after the first telling of the story and had flatly refused to let go, for fifteen minutes now and counting.)
"We were both in love with each other without realizing," Adrien told Juleka, although the rest of the crowd squeezed in close too, hanging off his every word as though it were storytime around a campfire. "It's kinda complicated. See, Marinette and I became friends a few years ago through one of the earliest Ladybug and Chat Noir forumsㅡ"
"ㅡlet go of me, Al, you're squeezing too hardㅡ!"
Alya squeezed harder. "I still can't believe you were visiting other LadyNoir blogs. Cheating harlot."
"It was a message board!" Marinette shrieked, then bit Alya savagely on the arm. "It wasn't even a blog!"
Finally retreating, Alya wiped her now wet Arm on Nino.
"Anyway," Adrien continued blithely, with the unmistakeable air of someone who had witnessed that seven and a half times already this morning. "It quickly turned into a full blown penpals kind of thing, and we grew to be best friends without ever realizing who it was that we were talking to. Usernames, you know. I know it sounds crazy but we've talked online every single day sinceㅡwell, since the day before we met in real life, actually." He paused there, realizing for the first time since the reveal two days ago that he had met Ladybug a full day before he met Marinette.
"No way," Juleka said, her eyes wide and captivated.
"What!" Alya screamed. "Wait, you didn't say that you met online before you met in real life! You mean you technically already knew each other when you met?"
Marinette shied away from Alya's electrifying eye contact, taking refuge under Adrien's arm as he offered it. "Yeah," she agreed. "He's right, it was exactly one day before Adrien's first day at school. I didn't realize that till just now."
"So what happened next?" Juleka prompted.
"Oh," Adrien laughed. "Well, I fell in love with her. The girl I was friends with online, I mean. She never took me seriously though, because all the while, Marinette was in love with me in real life." He paused for a moment to laugh and nuzzle the top of her head with his nose. "You can imagine how much we were kicking ourselves over that when we figured it out. We totally wasted the last three years chasing each other's tails! When we accidentally discovered the truth about who we were, it all just clicked, you know?"
"Aww," the crowd sighed as Marinette pressed a kiss to his cheek, eternally grateful that he had offered to do all the talking. She would not have survived this otherwise.
"Right on the money, Alix," Juleka agreed with a loving smile. "Totally sickening."
"You two are goals," Chloe said, and everyone's jaw dropped at once.
A hushed silence fell, and Chloe, always begging for people to stare at her, at last had her wish granted. Feeling all eyes on her with her sixth sense (vanity) she looked up from her cat-collecting phone app and rolled her eyes. "What?" she trilled with a mote of irritation. "I may not be one of Marinette's cheerleaders," (she pointed at Rose, who was bouncing in place with uncontainable glee) "but that story is legendary."
"Hate to say it," Nino piped up. "But Chlo's right. That is some Shakespeare shit. I mean, I already thought you guys made a good couple, but that story takes this to a level I cannot even comprehend."
Chloe rolled her eyes again and went back to purchasing toys for her seventeen virtual cats with her dad's credit card info. "AKA, legendary. God it's like you people aren't even listening to me."
And they weren't. Because Mylene had just asked how they felt when they first realized the truth.
They met each other's eyes and spoke at the same time.
"Delighted," Adrien said while Marinette said "Terrified." They laughed and cleared their throats, then spoke again, switching their answers.
"I think in America they call that love," Nathaniel spoke up, which elicited a short bark of laughter from Chloe (although she quickly covered it up with a cough).
"You know what's amazing?" Rose said. "Most people only get to meet once. You guys got to meet three times! First online, then at school, and then for a third time when you finally had a complete picture of each other!"
"That's true," Marinette said. "I guess we're pretty lucky, huh Adrien?"
"What?" Adrien blinked, snapping out of some internal reverie. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you Mari. I was trying to decide whether to say good things come in threes, or love at third sight."
"I think you should try again," Marinette winked. "After all, the third time's the charm."
"Marry me," he sighed.
(And eventually she did.)