Author's Note: February made me feel extremely nostalgic and sentimental. I wanted to try out something different for Marinette/Ladybug Appreciation Week.

There is no one who appreciates Ladybug and Marinette more than their great friend Adrien Agreste. So I present to you a story of his appreciation, from the distance of about 40 years. That still may not be enough time to appreciate them in their whole grace, but he tries for the sake of his sweet granddaughter Dorothea. I hope you'll enjoy this little fic.

"Once There Was a Heroine"

Day 1: Designing/Sewing

'Grandpa! Grandpa! I found something!'

Adrien stuck his head inside the library. 'What are you doing here, Dottie? I thought you were in the playroom?'

'I was looking for a book,' his granddaughter fluttered her lashes, a perfect picture of innocence filled her green eyes. 'but I found this instead.' She presented him with her discovery, a black wooden box, already missing the lid. 'There are all these funny things inside. What is it, Grandpa?'

Adrien sighed. Dottie was a curious little kitten and once she set her head to something, there was no way to discourage her until her curiosity was fed. He smiled, suppressing a chuckle. Nosiness was definitely a Cesaire streak, as were the gentle chestnut curls Dottie inherited after Grandma Alya.

'You shouldn't take things that aren't yours, kitten. Not without asking me or Nana,' he admonished her, but entered the library anyway. He crouched next to the girl and peered inside the box, although he knew exactly what he had put in there forty years ago. But he hadn't opened it in a long time and now as he eyed the content, he couldn't help feeling more than a little nostalgic.

'This is my keepsake box, see,' he reached to the bottom and found a slightly faded picture of his first class at Françoise Dupoint. 'I wonder if you recognize any of your grandparents in this photo, sweetie,' he waved the photograph in front of Dottie's eyes.

She scrunched her nose as she studied the image. 'This girl…' after a while she pointed to a bespectacled redhead, 'she looks a bit like me. Is this Grandma Alya?'

'You're a bright little kitten. Yeah, this is Grandma Alya,' Adrien chuckled. 'You look a lot like her. Wanna keep guessing?'

'Not really. No one else looks familiar. But this is more interesting!' Dottie grabbed a few items from the box. 'What are these?'

Adrien put the photograph aside. 'Let's see, shall we?'

'This looks like a scarf,' the girl pointed out. 'It's pretty. Can I try in on?'

'Okay, but be careful,' he frowned when she wrapped herself in the light blue fabric.

'Smells a bit like you, Grandpa!' she exclaimed and he couldn't help but to burst into laughter.

'That's because it's mine. I used to wear it a lot,' Adrien admitted, ruffling her hair. 'But then I got scared it might get damaged so I put it here to keep it safe.'

'Ooooh,' Dottie cooed. 'It that case you better take it away. Nana says that I am a little cataclysm on two legs!'

'Well, she should know best I suppose,' he snickered. 'She was once declared the Clumsy Queen,' he winked and the girl giggled.

Dottie smiled, showing the cute little dimples he adored so much. ''She told me! Nana said I shouldn't worry about that, because I am good at so many other things. It's okay to be clumsy,' she stated proudly.

'Otherwise people would think you're too perfect,' Adrien bumped her gently on the nose. 'What else do you have there, kitten?'

'A hat!' The girl pulled out a black derby and plopped it on her head. It immediately fell to cover her eyes and only her nose was visible from under the rim. She turned her head blindly a few times eliciting another bout of laughter from Adrien. He adjusted the hat so that she could get her vision back, using this occasion to brush a speck of dust from the top. The feathers have long ago been replaced with fake ones, but he still had to suppress a sneeze at the memory. 'How do I look, Grandpa?'

'Pawsome, I mean awesome!' he rushed to take his mobile and shoot a few pictures with Dottie striking funny poses. 'You're certainly the cat's meow!'

'Was it your hat?' she asked putting it on his head.

'Yes, I once modeled it for my father.' Adrien skewed the derby to the side aiming for a rakish look. Dottie scooted closer and pecked a kiss on his cheek, while he managed to snap a selfie.

The girl pushed a few CDs into his hands. 'Ooooh, what are these? I've never seen anything like this!'

He couldn't help but to smirk at her enthusiasm. 'These are called discs. When I was young people recorded files on them, including music,' he explained. 'This is a record of one of my favorite artists - Jagged Stone. Have you heard of him?'

Dottie nodded and clasped her hands, 'Nana likes him too! Can we listen to it now, Grandpa?'

'Sure, but like this,' he waved his device at her and pulled up the music app. 'I no longer have a CD player, though I'm almost sure Grandpa Nino still has one.' He pulled up his playlist and in a few seconds Jagged Stone's music filled the library.

'Oh, Grandpa, someone drew something on your discs,' Dottie saddened and pointed to the signature scribbled on the cover. 'That is rude. Maman says no one should draw in books and such!'

Adrien laughed at her indignant pout. 'That's okay, sweetie. This is a signature of the person who designed this cover. I asked her to sign it for me.'

'Hmmmm,' the girl hummed biting her lower lip. 'Then I guess it's okay,' she finally declared. 'There's lots of things here,' she ducked into the box and returned with hands full of new items. 'Why did you put these in the box?' she asked inspecting a pair of rag-dolls, one in a red black dotted suit, with blue pigtails, and one dressed all in black, with tail and cat-ears.

Adrien lifted the Ladybug doll from Dottie's hands with a gentle reverence and brushed his fingers over its hair and suit. His eyes glazed with sudden affection and prickled with unexpected moisture.

'Grandpa?' his granddaughter called, taking his hand.

'I'm okay, kitten, I just… remembered something,' he replied with a weak smile. 'These are just a few things that I'd put here to remember a very special person; the one who made them,' he said after a moment. 'This is my secret treasure,' he whispered taking the things scattered on the carpet and reverently putting them back in the box, 'don't tell anyone I showed it to you,' he winked, pushing the memories to the back of his mind. It wouldn't do to scare his granddaughter with sudden display of emotions.

'That person… the one who designed the cover? She made all these?' Dottie asked, her eyes blown wide. She rummaged in the box again and this time, much to Adrien's dread retrieved a picture of his fourteen year old self posing for a photo next to a masked girl clad in a tight red suit. There was a yoyo and a few hearts scribbled on the side and a handwritten inscription, which Dottie thankfully wouldn't be able to read yet with her beginner's level reading skills.

A sparkle of recognition flickered in his granddaughter's eyes and Adrien already knew there was no other way out of it. The photo cemented his fate. 'Is this her?' she asked. 'What was her name?'

Adrien sighed in defeat and sunk into his armchair. 'Ladybug. Her name was Ladybug, sweetie,'

'Like that girl from the books Grandma Alya wrote?' the girl turned to look at him. She couldn't have read Alya's books, they were way to advanced for her, but she must have seen the pictures in them.

'That's the one,' he confirmed waving Lady-doll's hand at her.

Dottie was clearly impressed, her eyes skipping over the contents of the box with a newfound respect. 'Did you know her?'

Adrien's smile grew wide. 'Everyone in Paris knew her. She protected the city,' he stated proudly.

'Duh, I know that,' she whined rolling her eyes in a manner so similar to Ladybug that he had to suppress a gasp. 'But did you know her like, talked to her, spent time with her, or… or…'

There was fondness in Adrien's voice when he replied softly, 'Yes. She was my friend.' He reached out and pulled Dottie onto his lap. 'Wanna hear more about her?' he asked, walking the Ladybug doll towards her Chat Noir partner that his granddaughter still firmly held in her grasp. The black rag hero waved his tiny hand courtesy of Dottie's fingers and sat on the armrest.

'Yes, please,' the girl breathed, her big green eyes boring intently into him.

'Okay, then listen up,' Adrien took a deep breath. His eyes glazed again as he travelled almost fifty years back. 'Once there was a heroine, Princess of Paris…'

'My Lady,' he thought.

AN: A sincere and gigantic thank you to Remasa, who despite her exhausting two weeks was able to dedicate her free time to help me with this story, mercilessly finding typos and getting rid of passive voice, and hunting down plot holes. This looks a lot better thanks to her.

Writing this wasn't easy, as lately it's difficult for me to find time and motivation to create. And today, after receiving sad news about one of my favorite writers and fandom friends Maerynn it's even harder to put my thoughts into words. I hope I will be able to finish this on time and keep the updates coming daily.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments, they keep me going.