Okay, so this is one I've had in the works for a while. Chapters 2 and 3 are almost ready to go even.
It's taken me a while to write since my laptop is broken. I kind of wanted to come back with a big bang and release like... a new chapter for five different fics, but I thought it would be nice to post this one now.
Originally my friend and I came up with this idea for a Doctor Who fic, but we kind of slowly dropped out of the fandom. We were talking about the plot, though, and found that it would work amazingly well, if not better with the ML universe.
It's going to be quite a long one, but lots of fun. So, I hope you enjoy it!
Once Upon a Time
"Oh my god, Girl! Have you seen the review!" was the first thing Marinette heard the moment that she answered her phone, Alya's excited face lighting up the screen.
"Yeah, I'm just reading it now," she told her.
"Isn't it awesome!"
Marinette frowned uncertainly. "I don't know. So far it seems a little harsh. I thought it was a good story. And the actors did a really good job!"
"No, not that," Alya said, rolling her eyes. "The bit about the costumes! It says they were stunning! Girl, you're a hit!"
"Yeah, but the rest of the play got such a bad review. I kind of feel bad. Costumes aren't meant to make a play, only make it believable. They weren't meant to be the 'stand out' thing!" She chewed her lip anxiously. She felt pretty bad about the review, despite the praise it gave her. She could only imagine how the cast and Ellie felt.
"So, what are you complaining about? You got a star review on your mad skills! There's some really good pictures of them as well. And to top it all off, you got paid for it!"
"Not very much. They didn't have much of a budget, so most of the price was just to cover the material."
"How much did you get after the supplies?" Alya asked her, her voice low like she was expecting an unsatisfactory answer.
"Fifteen euros..." she replied quietly, knowing that Alya wouldn't be happy about it.
"What?! Girl, no! You should have been given way more than that! You spent weeks making all those costumes!" she cried in outrage.
"I know, I know! But like I said, they had a pretty low budget, and the materials were pretty expensive. I didn't want to put them too much over budget... And now they're going to lose quite a bit. Apparently, people are already asking for refunds because of this review. If they lose half the audience, they're going to have to cancel tonight's show."
Alya groaned. "Girl, you are way too nice for your own good. You know you're going to have to be more pushy about how much you charge when you get big in the fashion world... which you totally will be one day, because you are awesome and they love you !"
"I know," she sighed. "...But... at least it got my work seen, right? Maybe it's like one of those... pro-bono cases. I don't really get much for it, but it gives me a good rep. Lots of people saw the costumes. And Ellie put me in the programme as the costume designer and creator. She even put my contact details in and said I was open for commissions!"
"You do know that pro-bono is a lawyer thing, right? But I get what you mean."
"She was so nice, and she worked so hard, Alya. The review is just horrible."
"Okay, girl, I know. There's nothing we can do. I mean... I can do my own review once I see it. But until then, the damage is done. Just don't think about it." Marinette pouted. "Ooh! Hey, what about the Night Market? You all set?"
"Yep!" she replied. "Everything's all ready to go. Just need to take it all down and set up. Are you coming tonight?"
"Girl, you know I am! In fact, I'm on my way now to help you set up," her friend said with a cheeky grin.
"What? No! Alya, you don't have to do that!"
"I know. That's what makes me so nice." She gave her a wink. "See you soon!"
With a heavy sigh, Marinette put her phone down and turned back the review, starting from the beginning since she'd lost her place.
Once Upon Akuma - Review
'Once Upon Akuma' written and directed by Ellie Dubious had its first live show last night. It is the young playwright's first stage play and unfortunately, it was not a hit.
The play had a very 'interesting' theme, taking beloved fairy tales and twisting them up so that the villains were Akuma - the horrible monsters that terrorise our city. The stories told were familiar enough, but included some dramatic - and at times rather cliché – twists.
The pacing of the play was not very easy to keep up with. Varying between fast and slow paced in a way that made no sense, and at times even skipping entire parts that one would consider crucial to the plot. This left quite a few things unexplained. For a play with so much potential, it was quite a shambles – let down by the writing and directing.
Overall, it was quite terrible. The dialogue was clunky, stiff and somewhat unbelievable. The plot was all over the place, never really seemed to have a climax, nor did it have a well-defined ending, which left the audience somewhat confused and unsatisfied by the end. And even still, every story told lacked that one thing we have all come to expect from beloved fairy tales. A happy ever after. Every story ended with a twist, tragedy, or a fade out that completely cut the happy resolution we are used to. Some endings at least heavily implied that they would end up married and live happily ever after, but seemed to use our knowledge of that to carry the story.
The acting wasn't bad. It was obvious that the cast was very skilled and the leads had good chemistry, but the script left much to be desired and didn't give them much to work with.
The only thing that really stood out in the play were the incredible costumes. These stunning pieces of art were designed and created by a local student, Marinette Dupain-Cheng. They were masterfully made and suited both the play and the era that the stories were from. It is rare to see such fine craftsmanship in the costumes of plays, especially in ones with a budget such as the one of this play. It is also rare to see work of this calibre from one so young. But this up and coming designer truly stole the show. It is undeniable that there are big things in the future for Miss Dupain-Cheng.
Over all, the play had an original and contemporary idea but failed miserably in its attempts to blend such famous and beloved fairy tales with the Akuma and their backstory. However, it is clear that Miss Dubois has an avid love of fairy tales, if not a tight grasp on their key concepts. Her play has an enormous amount of potential, but it is clear that she needs a bit more practice before officially bringing her works to the stage.
"Marinette, you shouldn't feel bad," Tikki told her, placing her arms on her hand comfortingly. "You got the recognition you deserve, and so did Ellie. Maybe the review is a little harsh, but it does have some good points. Ellie may have worked hard, but maybe she's just not cut out to be a playwright."
She hummed unhappily. "It can't be easy to devise your own script like that. And she did it all by herself too."
"Who knows, maybe after this she might get together with a few people and rework the script for another time. It had a lot of potential. Everyone fails at something they love at some point. That's just when you try again. How many of your sewing projects or designs didn't turn out right?"
"Way too many," she groaned.
"Exactly! But you never gave up. You kept trying and kept practicing. And now you have your own brand name and a stall at the market. People are buying your wares and ordering commissions! And just look at that review! That was very high praise. Ellie just needs some more practice. Yes, this was probably a bit of a blow, but she will take the criticism from the review and learn from her mistakes. She will only get better!"
"I know," she said with a small smile. She couldn't help it when Tikki was just so positive. "I can't help but feel guilty about it, though... Maybe I should talk to her! I could make her some cookies. And we could revise her script or something. I could take Alya with me. Alya's good at writing. And her script for our short film was pretty good both before and after Nino got his hands on it," she giggled.
"See, that's the spirit! Ellie will be fine. I bet that one day her plays will be famous !"
"Yeah, you're right. She-"
"Marinette? Are you ready?" her mother's voice called up to her. "It's time to set up the stalls."
"Yes, Maman!" she shouted down. "I'll just be a moment!" Jumping up from the chair, she started gathering bags from the pile she had put together, ready to go.
"Do you need any help?"
She looked back at the pile. She already had six large bags hooked over her arms and in her hands… there was no way she was going to be able to carry anything else, let alone the two mannequins and the extra stands and tables she needed to take down three flights of stairs.
"Ah… yes please, Maman!"
"I'll send your father up," her mother replied.
"Okay," she called back, starting to head towards the trapdoor.
When she got to it she realised that she couldn't possibly open it with all the bags hooked precariously in her arms. Thankfully, Tikki dashed over and managed to drag it open enough that she was able to hook her foot under, and together they managed to swing it open. It was a struggle to get down the stairs and she almost fell over a few times. She could practically feel Tikki's anxiety as she clung to her collar.
She passed her father on the second floor and he laughed at the sight of his tiny daughter under a large pile of bags, telling her to be careful. She laughed and promised she would before carrying on cautiously down the last flight of stairs. With so much stuff, it was easier to go through the front of the bakery than out their personal entrance at the side. Her mother, who was already holding a box of cupcakes, held the door open for her, and they headed towards the park together.
The park was already bustling with activity as the night market was set up. Some people were milling around, waiting for the festivities to start, but this early it was mostly the stall vendors. The park had been filled with custom marquees that gave each vendor a two-by-two-meter stall. Some had paid extra to get larger stalls, and others had brought along their own food trucks. A small fold-out stage had been set up and a few bands were lined up to play the night. Nino was considering signing up to play the next week. And there was a rumour that Jagged Stone was going to perform a song tonight.
Marinette and her mother walked over to a set of currently empty stalls. Her parents had always been part of the Summer Night Market, but recently they had talked about getting a stall for Marinette and her creations. When they told her that they would be willing to pay for her booth, she had worked incredibly hard. She had designed her own label and even made some tags to go on everything she made. She had made a portfolio of designs that people could commission from her, as well as some smaller items that she could sell while the stall was running, including some scarves, earrings, bags, and dolls. She'd done a trial run the week before and found that her Ladybug and Chat Noir dolls really seemed to be popular. Actually, quite a lot of her things had been popular. So this week she had gone all out. Not only did she have tons of stuff to sell, but she had done up some extra things for the stall. Her display was going to look amazing once it was done.
"Wow, girl, that is a lot of stuff," Alya said from behind her. Marinette whipped around, almost knocking her table over with the bags slung over her arms. "Whoa! Look out!" She rushed over to her friend and began taking some of them from her.
"Thanks, Alya," she said. "And this isn't all of it, either. Papa is bringing down the mannequins and displays."
"Mannequins? You've got mannequins this time?" Alya raised an eyebrow.
"Well, yeah. I did so well last time I thought I might make it look a little better. So I'm going to have some mannequins displaying a few outfits. There's also some stands for some of the stuff in here. And…" she searched around her for a certain bag, digging inside and pulling something out, "this!"
With a shake, she unfurled a white banner with her new logo on it. The words 'Lucky Charm' were done to look as if they had been embroidered on. The words were black, but the first letter of each word was red, along with a dotted line, like stitching, looping around the words and showing the trail of the ladybug that sat at the end of the logo. For her, it was a bit of a personal joke. She and Tikki had had a bit of a giggle about it. No one knew that the words meant so much to her. Like Alya, most people would just think that she was a Ladybug fan, not Ladybug herself. When Alya had first seen her logo, she had squealed and hugged her, joyously shouting that 'she always knew she was a closet Ladybug fan!'
"Oh my god, that is off the chain!" Alya cried, looking at the banner in glee.
"Wanna help me put it up?"
"Heck yeah, I do!"
Excitedly, the two girls shimmied in behind the table and began lining the banner up to the centre of the stall, pinning it to the back. By the time Marinette was back to searching through the bags, her father had come by with the rest of the stuff. Alya had stared at it all with large eyes, making him laugh before giving Marinette a kiss on the cheek and heading to the stall next door to help Sabine out with the bakery's stall.
It took them another 15 minutes at least to finish setting up, and by that time people were starting to mill around. Alya had been so excited to see it all. Each item she sold had a branded tag with the price on it. And on the corner of the table, she had her commissions set up with an ordering sheet next to a few portfolios worth of designs. Not everything would fit on the table, so she only had a few of each set out on display. And with the two mannequins in the background with some of her outfits on, the stall looked stunning. To complete the look, she had made a ladybug-patterned apron with a pouch for money... she'd had a bit of trouble with that last time, and was taking a leaf out of her mother's book.
"Damn! How many Ladybug and Chat Noir dolls do you have in here?!" Alya exclaimed as she grabbed some from the bag to put on the table.
"A lot," she replied. "There's more in the other bag. And there're a few Akuma dolls as well. They were so popular last time I wanted to be prepared."
"Oh, you are so not going to be prepared enough! I'm posting these on the Ladyblog!" Taking out her phone, she placed the two dolls nicely and took a shot of them, then she grabbed out one of the Lady Wifi dolls and took a shot of that. "Alright, one last photo. Mari, I need one of you and your stall! Get in behind the table and look pretty."
"I always look pretty," she snorted as Alya shuffled out to the front and lined up a shot.
"Damn right it is!" a voice with an American accent called. They both looked up to see Jagged Stone and Penny walking past. Jagged pulled the finger guns at her. "Stall's looking rad, Marinette, my girl! I'll have to swing by later!"
"Okay!" she called back, waving to him and Penny. She was getting in position to pose when she noticed Alya's entertained look. "What?"
"Girl, you are friends with so many famous people. Jagged Stone, Nadia Chamak, Chat Noir, Ladybug, Adrien. Even Gabriel Agreste seemed to like you and he never seems to like anyone. I don't know how you do it!"
"Um... I'm just friendly?" she said sheepishly.
"More like lucky. Now get your fine butt ready for this photo." Marinette stood in the centre of her table, arms spread out on a bit of an angle as she showed her work off, a wide smile on her face. The flash went off and she turned back around to the bags to finish sorting everything out. "This is gonna look great," Alya muttered, busy typing away on her phone.
"So, how much for the coolest looking dolls in all of Paris?" a familiar voice asked from behind her.
Marinette stiffened at the sound of his voice. Was that... Chat Noir? He was early? She rolled her eyes and turned around, prepared to tell that silly cat to stop having such a big ego, but froze when she saw who it was standing at her table.
"Hey, Marinette," he greeted, giving her a fond smile. An awkward grin froze on her face. She could have sworn it was Chat talking to her, but instead, she was faced with Nino and Adrien.
"Sup Mari! The stall looks awesome! You must have worked really hard to get this done," Nino said, looking at the table with a very impressed expression.
"Y-yeah. I was working on this stuff all week," she said, fighting a blush. "And I probably still didn't make enough. Alya just posted the dolls to the Ladyblog."
Adrien chuckled. "Oh no, you're going to get swamped!"
"And it's going to be great!" Alya said gleefully.
"So… how much are they?" Adrien asked again, grabbing his wallet from his pocket.
Marinette's eyes widened. "Y-you're actually going to get some?!"
"Well, yeah. Ladybug and Chat Noir are awesome. Besides, you're really talented, and I gotta support my friends."
"Th-they're 15 euro each," she said, the blush growing at his compliment. "Or 25 for both. I thought I'd do a double deal on them, because most people were buying Ladybug last week, and you can't have Ladybug without Chat Noir, so…"
"Oh yeah, you gotta have both. They're a team." He sent her a wink as he pulled the cash from his wallet and handed it over.
"Mmhm." She handed two of the dolls over to him and he eagerly took them from her.
"You need like… one of those portable EFTPOS machines, or something," Nino said. "That way you'll probably get even more people coming to buy stuff. Maybe we should talk to Theo, see if he can hook you up with one. He's good at stuff like that."
Adrien blinked in confusion. "Isn't Theo a sculptor?"
Alya snorted. "Theo is everything!"
"He's a jack-of-all-trades," Nino supplied. "He picks up lots of extra jobs everywhere to pay his bills and art supplies and stuff. So, Theo does everything really. If you need something, he can either do it or find it. He's the man!"
"Maybe next week," she said, smiling weakly.
"You're coming again next week?" Adrien asked excitedly. "We can help you out, right Nino… Well, if I don't have anything booked. But if I can't help out here I can help with organising. I could even pay for the booth. I could grab you some fabric from my father's workshop!"
"Aww, isn't that sweet of you?" Alya said, nudging Marinette suggestively. Marinette, however, appeared to have mentally crashed. "Pfft! Maybe too sweet, Adrien. I think has crashed."
"It… wasn't too much, was it?" he asked nervously.
Alya laughed. "Not at all. This girl here is just silly about getting help from other people. She'll never admit when she needs help. She'd rather crash and burn a few times first."
"Well too bad. I insist. This so cool. And who knows, maybe one day Lucky Charm will be a bigger brand than Gabriel." He gave a cheeky grin and she struggled to remain on her feet. She was about to open her mouth and stammer something out when his eyes widened and he suddenly shouted, "Oh! That reminds me, I need to call my father!" He took his phone out of his pocket "Can you hold these while I call him?" He held the two dolls out to Nino who grabbed them for him before he began dialing and walked off a bit.
Nino puffed out a breath, running his free hand under his cap and through his hair. "Why would he need to call his dad? I hope everything's okay. It took him a bit to convince his old man to even let him out today."
"You don't think he'll change his mind, do you?" Alya asked, a little worried for her friend. "He only just got out."
"I don't know, but... is he smiling?"
"Maybe there's good news?"
"Ah... have you met Gabriel Agreste?" Nino snorted. "I doubt he could make anyone smile."
"On the flip side, I doubt it takes much for him to make Adrien smile. He probably just has to look at him and- Yep. There goes the smile."
Marinette peered around her booth to see Adrien standing off to the side. He had one arm folded, the hand tucked under his arm, while the other was holding his phone to his ear. He was frowning slightly, his foot tapping almost impatiently - if only he didn't seem so anxious.
"I don't think his dad is picking up," she told them.
"Typical," Alya huffed. "When has he ever answered any of Adrien's-"
She was cut off by a scream, and the teens whipped their heads around to see the more crowded part of the market break apart in a panic. People started running in fear as blue jets of light shot towards everyone. Looking at where the beams were coming from, it didn't take a genius to realise the girl in the sky was an Akuma. They saw one of the beams of light streak down and hit someone, they instantly disappeared in a shower of sparks.
Marinette tensed, ready to run and find a place to transform.
Looking up into the sky, they could easily see the Akuma from where they were. She was a sparkly figure of blue and purple, her hair two tones in the same colours as her poofy dress. Her skin was pale purple, but her eyes and lips were dark. With her dress, iridescent fairy wings, and the book in her hand she looked like a fairy godmother. Though, Marinette had never seen a fairy godmother look so malevolent. A joyful, malicious sneer was spread across the barely recognisable face of Ellie Dubois as she shot another light beam from her free hand, making another person disappear.
"Oh no!" she gasped. "Ellie…"
"Oh shit!" Alya hissed. "Mari, you gotta run!"
"What? Why?" Marinette was so momentarily confused about why Alya wanted to run that she missed that it was the perfect excuse to get away from them.
"Why?!" Alya cried. "Are you seriously asking me why you need to run away from an Akuma that was publically humiliated in a review that praised you to the high heavens?!"
"Marinette!" the Akuma shouted as if to prove Alya's point. "Marinette Dupain-Cheng, where are you?! I know you're here!"
"Go, go, go!" Alya yelled at her, dragging her from behind her stall and pushing her down the path, urging her to run. But it was too late. The Akuma had spotted her.
"There you are!" she growled, rushing over to where they were. She flew much faster than Marinette would have expected and it was barely a second before she was before them.
"Leave her alone!" Alya said defiantly, standing in front of her friend. Nino came and stood beside her, the two of them forming a barrier - a shield - between them. She should be running. She should have been getting out of there and finding somewhere to transform. But she was so distracted and almost horrified by the sight of her friends standing between her and a vengeful Akuma to protect her. It should be the other way around.
"What are you doing?!" she gasped. "Run! Come on!" She grabbed her friend's hand and tried to pull her along, but she refused to budge.
"How valiant of you," the Akuma sneered. "You would make a wonderful hero in a story." She raised her hand towards them and Nino's eyes widened in fear.
"Alya, run!" she shouted, tugging her again. This time, thankfully, she listened, and the three of them turned and bolted through the rapidly emptying park. "What the hell were you thinking?!" she cried, not looking back at her friends. "You could have been hurt! She could have got you!"
"She's trying - to get you!" Alya panted from somewhere behind her.
"It's not your job to try and protect me. I can look after myself! I don't want my friends getting hurt because of me!"
As she ran her eyes darted about for a place to hide. She didn't know if she could manage to slip away with the Akuma so intent on going after her. She probably wouldn't be able to get a break until Chat Noir arrived and distracted her. Plus she'd have to try and slip away from Alya and Nino. The two seemed intent on guarding her and protecting her. It made her worry, she really should be the one protecting them, not the other way around. But it's not like they knew. As far as they were aware, she was just their sweet, clumsy friend… Oh god, they probably saw her as somewhat defenseless. Especially since they believed that she had been caught or turned into something during majority of the Akuma attacks.
Actually… why hadn't Alya retorted to her comment about being able to take care of herself when they seemed to think she was some sort of damsel in distress?
Looking back, her heart almost stopped. Alya and Nino weren't there anymore. They were gone. There was still a faint glow of sparkles in the air a little way behind her, like someone had exploded a bag of blue glitter and it was very, very slowly drifting to the ground. The Akuma was floating just behind her, her hand still outstretched and a wicked grin on her face. The book in her other hand was glowing slightly with the blue magic but settled down to normal again.
"Alya! Nino!" she cried.
"They're gone, my dear, just as you are about to be!" the Akuma hissed, advancing towards her. "You think that you can outshine me in my own show? Well, the spotlight's about to be all yours!"
She shoved her hand forward, and a jet of the blue light flew out towards her. Marinette dived out of the way, recovering with a roll and stood up, making sure to face the Akuma. Because of this she didn't see the rise in the path and tripped over it, falling backward into the wall behind her and sliding to the ground. As the Akuma advanced, she shuffled along until she hit another wall. Oh god, she was literally backed into a corner.
The Akuma raised her hand again, the blue magic forming around it.
"Hey!" a familiar voice cried. A moment later a black-clad figure dropped down in front of her, his staff ready. "Why don't you get your fairy godmother bippity boppity boo-ty out of here and leave my friends alone!"
"Fairytale!" she growled. "I'm not a fairy godmother, my name is Fairytale! "
Chat just ignored her, taking her momentary distraction to turn to Marinette."You alright, Princess?" he asked, holding out a hand and helping her to her feet.
"Yeah, I'm alright… And that pun was horrible ."
"You mean magical," he said with a wink. She couldn't even bring herself to roll her eyes at this. She had to escape and transform. Now.
"Chat, she got Alya and Nino!" she told him. The range of emotions that she saw flash in his eyes startled her. Shock, sadness, fear, anger. It was as if he had taken the capture of her friends personally. Then again... he did seem to have a fondness for Alya, she'd noticed.
"Chat Noir, just who I was looking for," Fairytale said with a grin. "Look at you protecting your princess . You are a hero aren't you."
"Well, I don't mean to brag…" he said cheekily.
"You need to be out of my way until Ladybug shows up…" Her eyes darted calculatingly between the two of them and for a split second, she was scared that seeing them together had made Fairytale make a horrible connection. But then she grinned wickedly. "I think I've found my main characters."
"What?" Chat said in confusion.
Marinette, however, realised what she was talking about. The book. She was sucking people into a book. Her own real life fairytale she could direct.
"Chat!" she cried, reaching out to him as Fairytale raised her hand to blast them. Chat reacted quickly, his arm wrapping around her waist at the same time as he planted his staff into the ground. They shot up onto the roof above them just as a jet of magic hit right where they had just been.
"You're a natural at that," he complimented, grabbing her hand. "Now run!" He pulled her along just as Fairytale flew up to their level.
God, she hated flying Akuma. Cheaters!
She saw that Chat was heading towards the edge of the building and at the same time as he went to maneuver her, she swung herself onto his back, the two of them working together in perfect time. Chat didn't lose momentum through the entire moment and jumped flawlessly onto the next roof over. It was a little jolting for Marinette, who was used to making her own way from rooftop to rooftop, but she could tell that Chat had done everything he could to make the jump smooth for her.
She was flung from his back, however, when he suddenly dodged a blast that only narrowly missed them. She hadn't been prepared for the movement and tumbled to the ground. She had barely landed before Chat was pulling her to her feet.
She saw his eyes widen, and then he wrapped his arms around her in a way that was so incredibly familiar. For a moment she thought he was about to pick her up…
But then blue light exploded around her… and everything went black.