What was Happiness, again?
It is just such a small word, that had so much impact to the world and the people, that lived in it. It's pure, innocent almost, like the smile of a child. It's laughter, bright and loud. It's a simple moment - a moment of closeness and warmth, of cuddles and kisses. It's a walk to the park, a visit to the Zoo, the search for the almighty platypus. It's a bracelet, made of colorful beads. It's the fry-thief at midnight. A paint-fight with brushes like épées. The pizza made from scratch.
Happiness is the first kiss, the first time, the cupping of cheeks, the lacing of fingers and entangling from legs in the morning.
It's the first spoken word, the first step, the first drawing.
It's a friend. The father, mother and child. Happiness is a job, a way to live, found during travels.
Happiness is not the same for everyone, but everyone strives to archive it in their own way - and finding it is always worth it in any way.
There might be hardships, ups and downs, that will try to stop it. But sometimes taking a step back to take a leap will bring this very happiness a little closer. And sometimes it's crashing through the door of the future, that somebody else held close with all their might.
True - it can be faked and masked in blinding lights and with dazzling masquerades. But - in all honesty- who would want that?
Some might never archive it, but - hey - it's at least worth trying.
Today happiness was a glowing, stunning bride - wearing a beaded, hand made dress she had sewn years ago for a project in university. Happiness was a hair-do her friend Rose has made, red lipstick with the oddly specific name "Ladybug Red" and shoes that perfectly matched this exact shade of red. For - why not - she was half Chinese and red was the color of good fortune and luck, not that she needed it today.
…for she had found long ago all the things, that made her the luckiest woman alive.
Did it matter, that it took them more than five years to finally get married after their engagement? Because life kept on surprising them, gave them amazing events and happenings, that kept them occupied throughout it all? For there was barely time to squeeze in their own marriage with their travels, the hamsters, they now call their own, the big opening of her boutique and him taking over the bakery, that her parents have owned. And… there had just been so much more…
But it didn't matter now - for all her friends, her family and every person, that was dear to her could spend this wonderful day by her side, just like she had always wished for. Even his childhood friend Chloé Bourgeois sat at the very back of the church during their ceremony and couldn't hide that tiny smile once they kissed as well.
"Okay - aaaaand now a photo with bride, bride mother and mother-in-law!", the eccentric photographer called, while her dear husband slipped away from her side again, with an exhausted chuckle, to step away, as Sabine and Emilie came back to her side.
Marinette has long lost count on how many photos there were taken - with different combinations of people, with her husband, just her alone, friends, close-up of the rings, the bouquet and - wait - what about that little ladybug, that had decided to land on the bride's shoulder? Yeah - even that one was now well documented, just like everything else on this monumental day.
"Don't leave me, Baaabe!", Marinette whispered longingly and grasped onto his suit jacket, keeping him there for a few seconds more. "How can you keep smiling through it all? I think my face muscles are sore already!"
Adrien chuckled and reached up for her check with a smile.
"Long years of modeling experience, my love!", he answered jokingly back, as that gleam in his eyes shifted, the green getting brighter and warmer in just a second. "And what can I say? I am just happy, I can finally call you my wife - so this smile won't go away anytime soon!"
He leaned in, brushing his lips softly over hers in a sweet, meaningful kiss, that still - after all these years together - made her heart flutter with the love she felt for him.
The crowd, that watched their photoshoot awed at that - Alya even gave a loud wolf-whistle as a comment, making others laugh.
"Ahhh~ Love!", the photographer cooed and shoot a few more photos out of ten different ankles. "And now the mothers! The groom may take a break!"
"Don't leave me, Monsieur Dupain-Cheng!", she joked once more, as they parted, and she was the one to push his glasses a little higher on his nose, as they have slipped down. Gosh… how much she loved him with these glasses, that suited him just so well. Even though he kept on complaining about them - stating, that he had inherited his bad eyes from his father, usually playing a little grumpy, when he said that.
But she couldn't keep him to stay for now, for his best man - no other than his best dude Nino - was ordered to get the poor groom away from his wife and the two mothers stepped closer again - each of them hugging the bride from one side. Next was a picture with Alya. Then her girl friends - even a few funny ones, just for the fun of it. Luka. Nino. Everybody.
"Now it's your turn!", she called to Adrien, when she felt like everybody had taken with a photo at least twice. "I am allowed to take a break as well!"
And she needed a drink.
As she passed her dearest husband, he leaned once more in to kiss her - of course they were noticed once more and everybody awed and cooed and applauded, again.
"…and I'll get the kids…"
"Mhm… Dinner will start soon…", he said, as the guys already started to pull him away for the private shoot with the former model. "…and you should check on our fathers - or there will be no dinner left!"
Marinette laughed and nodded, before she hiked her skirt up a little, to walk better - first checking in the dinning room, as promised for Tom and Gabriel, who stood by the banquet, casually chatting - both holding an Éclair in their hands, as they talked.
Marinette cleared her throat - both tall, grown men immediately paling with guilt - obviously caught by the bride red-handed.
"My little Macaron!", Tom hurriedly exclaimed and nervously scratched the back of his head. "We were just checking, the buffet's quality! We don't want anything to ruin your big day - am I right Gabriel!"
The other man nodded, raising said Éclair up, to examine it closely.
"Absolutely, Tom - especially the Éclairs needed to be double-checked. With these high temperatures outside they might get spoiled - or the chocolate might melt - and that could stain your exquisite dress!"
"Uh-huh?", Marinette said, arms crossed in front of her chest, but she couldn't help the slight, amused grin on the corners of her lips, as she listened to their diffuse explanations. "So - what does your expertise say? Are they good? Everything alright?"
"They are perfect!" Tom hummed and gave a thumbs up, as both older men slid the remaining pieces of their little snack between their lips with knowing grins.
"I have to agree with you my dear Tom!"
Marinette giggled - she couldn't be mad, when they were so well-meaning. Apart from that - they were behaving like two school boys caught, when they misbehaved, and she enjoyed that little play the but up immensely - so much, that she tell Adrien about it later on to make him laugh as well.
"And now off with the two of you! It's Adrien's turn with his photos - and I am pretty sure, that the photographer wants a shoot with the two of you and the groom as well!"
"If Monsieur Dupain-Cheng can accept, that two handsome gentlemen might steal the show, then we should not let him wait!", Tom joked and straightened his back, standing even a little taller in his suit she had made for him.
"We shouldn't be too hard on him!", Gabriel reminded him.
"Oh - now go you two!", Marinette playfully chided, as Tom and Gabriel finally rushed past her - her father gifting her with a kiss to the top of her head, while her father-in-law blew her a little kiss on the cheek.
Once they were gone she sneakily took one of the Éclairs as well.
She was the bride after all and after that long day she was starving - if anyone dared to say something against it, they would need to fight her first. And nobody would dare to do that!
Apart from that she was gone in a hurry, again - back outside to look for the kids, that were playing by that huge oak tree outside. It was on the same property, and she had an eye on them for the whole time. But she couldn't blame them for wanting to play, while everybody was occupied with photos for something like two hours.
"There you are!", the young bride sweetly said - knowing too well, that they were here in the first place. "We will have dinner soon. And then there will be dancing and… Uh… Hello?"
Neither of the kids were paying her any attention.
Emma stood in the middle of the small crowd. Ten years now, still as sweet as before and smart and kind, just like her father. To her left were Amélie and Antoine, both wearing matching outfits and both still looking like the perfect combination of their mother and father. Emma's right hand held a black-haired girl with pig-tails and with the same dress, just like her big half-sister. And their brother sat in the grass by their side.
The five children were looking up towards the high branches of the tree with strange curiosity. Barely blinking, not saying a word.
Marinette knitted her eyebrows together, looked up as well, but saw nothing out of the ordinary - figured, that they probably were watching a bird, or some strange insect.
"Hey, Sweeties…", she once more gently said - and at least her small Hugo has finally recognized the voice of his mother - his green eyes lightning up with glee, and he reached out for her with his small hands. Marinette immediately lifted him up with ease and sat the one (and a half, as Emma always reminded everybody who would ask) year old boy on her hip, before she laid a gentle hand on Sophie's head. "What is it you see up there?"
"Fairies…", Antoine sternly mumbled. "We have seen fairies!"
"Mhm! They live up there and watch us!", Amélie added.
"Fairies?", Marinette answered quizzingly - fascinated by their wild imagination. If only she could believe in magic, just like they did… "And have these fairies said something to you? Or did they just want to check, if you all brushed your teeth correctly?"
"No tooth faires, Maman!", Sophie added wisely and shook her head. "Tooth fairies don't exist in real live!"
"But… ordinary fairies do, yes?"
"They are there, Marinette…", Emma whispered and gazed over to the young woman with wide eyes. "We all have seen them!"
Now that made Marinette blink in confusion - for Emma was too old to believe in this kind of things. Or she was putting up with the show to impress the smaller ones… but that rarely happened these days.
"Up, up!" Hugo called with his sweet little voice and his hands reached up towards the branches, giggling and squealing loudly, as if he had seen something once more.
But… what could it be?
"Still not hungry?"
Adrien has arrived by their side as well by now, stopping behind Emma, to lay a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Papa - there is a fairy!", Sophie hurriedly said, turning and jumping up and down excitingly, until Adrien would crouch down beside her. "There really are fairies! They do exist"
"Fairies?", he asked with astonishment in his voice and Emma, Antoine and Amélie nodded with stern gazes on their faces, while Hugo once more tried to reach for something above their heads. Wiggling on Marinette's arm, which made it hard to hold him - but she still succeeded.
Both adults gazed at each other in confusion, as Adrien moved to stand, again - wondering silently what it could have been, that made these kids act so strangely. For - truth to be told - it certainly couldn't be a fairy and-
"Oh look at you two, how happy you are!", a soft voice called from above, gentle and sweet in its nature and so full of care.
"If only we could celebrate with you… all the cheese… it's not for me!", sniffed a second voice.
Marinette's and Adrien's eyes shot up right away, searching for their sources - but they just couldn't find it.
And still… these voices just sounded so familiar - long forgotten and still they resonated with something, that they have locked away in their hearts and their minds.
"Tikki…", the bride whispered - some strange name that came to her mind so suddenly.
"…Plagg…", Adrien added, and they looked at each other.
Both knowing of memories, that were long gone, re-written and rearranged. Gone. They wouldn't quite grasp it and still both knew with their heart, that these were so ridiculously important to them.
…just like these two fairies, that hid somewhere in the branches and behind the leaves of this old oak tree.
"We wish you all the luck in this world. But… you two surely don't need that - you have always created your own luck and became happy, just like you have always wished for…", the first voice whispered, again.
"And the others are missing you two as well!", the second voice added.
"…and we are missing you two every day…"
"Perhaps we will meet in another life, again!"
"Uh-huh - it will be fun to watch your two souls fall in love with each other, again!"
"Au Revoir, Ladybug…"
"Au Revoir Chat Noir!"
They believed, that two, small shadows soared away after these good-byes. Flying, levitating up, high in the sky, hiding behind shadows and beams of the sun.
Neither Marinette, nor Adrien could have said something. Just knew, that this had been to closure to a chapter of their lives, that they never knew, that they have needed. And perhaps they will never know what they have just witnessed in the first place - still not believing in magic, fairies and Kwamis and their ancient riddles in the first place.
A Kwami… what was that, again?
"Can we eat now?", Emma sweetly asked, as both adults still looked up towards the sky, their eyes searching for the proof, that this had just happened at all. "I am hungry! And I don't want my grandpas to eat all the Éclairs!"
"Then we need to stop them!", Antoine shouted bravely. "Towards the buffet! Emma - lead the way!"
And the children hurried away, as if they have forgotten about the strange occurrence immediately. Emma walking ahead, Sophie grasping her hand, while Amélie and Antoine followed. Only Hugo stayed behind - he squealed and reached out for his Papa - Adrien gladly took his son from his wife's arms and gently placed a kiss on his small forehead.
But still he looked so absent, as he tried to understand, what they have just witnessed.
"What… Was that? Who is Plagg?", she asked him, hoping to find some answers in his words.
But Adrien merely shook his head.
"I… don't know… and who is Tikki?"
Marinette sighed and leaned against his shoulder.
Wondering what she could have forgotten about. Something so ridiculously important - and still she found an answer, that came directly from her heart:
"…a friend…", Marinette breathed. "…a really good friend…"
"Plagg was my friend as well…", Adrien hummed.
And that was the truth.
For some time they stood side by side like this - for a moment enjoying the quietness and togetherness. The closeness, warmth and love, that the other brought to them - while Hugo nibbled on his fingers, as he wanted to tell his sentimental parents, that he wanted to eat soon enough.
Adrien chuckled at that, popped that little nose of his son and kissed his wife's temple with a mischievous grin, as a very tempting thought came into his mind.
"Yes, my King?"
"It's our wedding night tonight, right?" She raised a questioning eyebrow at him, as his smirk started to get wider. "How about we try for another baby? I always liked the name Louise very much - and I am sure, that neither Emma, nor Sophie would mind, if they have another little brother! Or a little sister - I wouldn't mind it, either!"
"Naughty!", she gasped and slapped his shoulder playfully. "You dirty alley cat!"
But in all honesty - why not?
He laughed loudly.
"Only for you - Milady!"
Once more they kissed, just to seal a tiny promise between them. Hugo happily squealed and laughed and nuzzled his parents as well. There was laughter of children in the background, music that softly played and their loved one's watching them from the distance.
So… if this wasn't happiness, then… what was it, again?
A/N: And with that I finish this story. And in the end its more, than I have it imagined it to be - but still I so absolutely love this ending. 86 chapters, more than 500k words. I would have never thought it would take me this long - but here we are. This is the end. Of course, this story is not perfect - going back to the first chapters, I would change about a million things - but I suppose, that is the growth I made as a writer as well. Still, I adore this story and it's characters with my whole heart- it has definitely proven to me, that writing will always be a part of me and that I one day should invest so much time in writing my personal stuff as well.
The best part of this story certainly were you guys - the amazing and incredible readers, those who gave comments, favorited it, even those who criticized this piece. Thank you *bowing deeply*
Perhaps we will see each other again - in yet another reality I create for our two heroes, perhaps in another Fandom, perhaps in another lifetime. Take care, stay healthy and keep your loved ones close :3