Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir and all character names therein are owned by Zagtoon, Method Animation, SAMG Animation, SK Broadband, Toei Animation, and Disney. All characters are fictional and resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. No copyright infringement is intended.

Butterfly Effect
by Sailor Chronos

What was that saying? "When a butterfly in Asia flaps its wings, a storm occurs in America".

Fashion designer Gabriel Agreste vehemently disliked chaos. Almost every moment of his day was planned, organized, and scripted to the last detail. Thanks in no small part to his highly efficient and dedicated assistant, Nathalie Sancoeur. She was just as careful in the care of his son Adrien as well, to the extent that she seemed to have taken a liking to the young man. She had actually interceded several times on Adrien's behalf to plead for more lenient punishments for incidents of misbehaviour.

He shook his head ruefully as he gazed at the portrait of his beautiful wife Emilie. She had been absent for more than a year now. Adrien was growing up without his mother, and becoming more rebellious due to the lack of a positive female presence, Nathalie's work notwithstanding. Which made it imperative that he acquire both the Ladybug and Cat Miraculous items as soon as possible. He was convinced that only their power could revive his beloved.

However, they continued to elude him.

For a man so committed to order as he was, it had been surprisingly easy to shed that persona and create chaos across Paris as Hawk Moth. The Butterfly Miraculous had freed him in a way: it enabled him to do things that he normally couldn't do in the pursuit of his ultimate goal. The only obstacles were the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir - and more recently, their allies.

He had allies too. Miss Rossi was proving herself to be a worthy associate with her keen mind and ability to sow discontent among her peers. Her actions had helped his plans more than once.

Then there was Nathalie.

"They've been keeping you from achieving your dream for way too long. I will go to any length to end the reign of Ladybug and Cat Noir," she had told him the first time he'd transformed her into the villainous Catalyst. What he couldn't have anticipated was that she would take the horrendous risk of using the damaged Peacock Miraculous to save him from certain defeat. "I want to help you, all the way to the end," she'd admitted afterwards.

Something had stirred in his heart that day: a bit of the iciness thawed as he sincerely thanked her.

As time passed it became clear to him that she considered him more than just an employer. The look in her blue eyes, her steadfast loyalty, her willingness to take the wounds that the Peacock Miraculous imposed on her. To her credit, she had never spoken about her feelings out of deference to him and his fidelity to his wife. He sighed softly. Perhaps he was allowing Nathalie too much leeway. He had ceased to reprimand her when she addressed him by his first name, and given her more opportunities to interact with Adrien. In order to nip any potential impropriety in the bud, as her employer he should address the issue firmly.

And yet...

"I want to help you," she had reiterated after their most recent disastrous attempt to defeat Cat Noir and Ladybug.

"Not at that cost!" he insisted. "Never at that cost again!"

She had ignored him anyway, going into battle in her weakened state and forcing him to come to her rescue.

"Why did you do that?" she'd whispered to him as he carried her in his arms back to his mansion. "You had Cat Noir and Ladybug right where you wanted them."

He'd been unable to respond immediately. How could he possibly answer? That he hadn't wanted to lose a capable assistant? That, despite his dedication to his objective, he refused to be responsible for another death?

For Emilie was effectively dead, locked in a magical endless sleep.

And Nathalie was headed the same way if she continued to use the Peacock.

Why were the women in his life so single-minded?

He'd scolded her once they'd reached the safety of the mansion, but just as quickly relented when she struggled with the symptoms of the encroaching illness. "You don't need a Miraculous to help me," he told her gently, as he placed his hand on hers in reassurance. For a brief moment he doubted whether either of them needed a Miraculous...

His countenance hardened again as she returned the Peacock brooch to him. Such feelings were chaotic, uncalled for. Detrimental to his purpose. A betrayal of Emilie, for whom he had been acting this entire time.

Still, he couldn't get the image of Nathalie's rare smile out of his mind. Not all the wings of all his precious butterflies would be able to erase that.

What kind of storm was awaiting him?