living in dreams
“Marinette! It’s time for school!”
“Not yet, mom. Five more minutes…” The girl groaned as she rolled over in bed, pulling the blankets over her head, curling up into the warmth of her bed. The smell of the baked goods floated upstairs and her stomach growled in a light protest, demanding nourishment after the fast. Another soft cry of her name jolted Marinette from her sleep, blue eyes wide open and she remembered that it was not her mother’s voice that called her. Her dreams had led her into the false sense of security of where she was supposed to be, but where she was no longer.
She was not in her room that was decorated in pale pinks and whites, with pictures of the boy she loved pinned to the walls. Instead, her room was a pale yellow with painted white flowers on the walls. She had pictures on the walls, but only of clothes or sketches she had made herself. ”Marinette, are you okay?” Tikki’s voice called as the kwami floated over to her side, concern in her large blue eyes. The smile that tugged her lips was thin, guilt ridden, but still a smile.
“You’re going to be late for school!” Tikki scolded, though her tone was far from scolding. If anything, the kwami was more amused at the fact that her partner continued to struggle with getting out of bed in the mornings. Bright blue eyes danced with joy as she pointed over towards the girl’s forgotten phone. “Weren’t you going to meet Alya early for something?”
”You’re right! Oh! She’s going to be so mad me!” The kwami’s laughter filled the room, “I don’t think so. Alya’s your best friend, she knows how you are.”
“I’m fine… I just thought I was somewhere else.” Tikki’s smile was sad, but understanding. When they first arrived, they had argued about where the fault lay on their arrival. Marinette blamed herself for the kwami being taken with her to this world. If she hadn’t been transformed, if she had taken the miraculous off sooner then maybe they wouldn’t be where they are or, at the very least, they wouldn’t have been there together. Poor Chat would have to fight Hawkmoth on his own, and somehow purify evil without her because Tikki was at her side. “It’s okay… Just get ready for school.”
Even the kwami could not hide her sorrow for that long. Marinette wondered if she blamed her, too.
Quietly, she dressed, brushed back her hair then teeth and made her way down the stairs to where her breakfast sat waiting.
It was like home, but without her mother’s warmth or her father’s laughter. She had been taken in by two bakers because she knew how to bake, they had wanted a child but never had one of their own. It was lucky that she had been a baker’s child, and she was lucky that they didn’t mind her desire to pursue her dreams of being a fashion designer still. She wondered if Tikki’s influence could make her lucky in this world, too. Quietly, she ate and cleaned up after herself. She cast a glance towards her room up the stairs, but decided against bringing the kwami with her.
It wasn’t like she became Ladybug anymore.
Her fingers trembled as she reached for her ears, she could feel the round shape of the miraculous even with the suit she wore. She started to remove them, slowly and deliberately. But she was still scared. Scared that Adrien would be hurt because of her, scared of what would come because she had taken off her earrings.
With the bang of a door, she startled out of her flashback and offered a bright smile to the woman who stepped through the door. “You’re spacing out again. Hurry on to school. At this rate, you’ll never make it in time.” The woman paused and then smiled, fondly. Mari could tell she cared, that she was loved by this woman in her own way. “Don’t worry about rushing home after school today. Spend some time with your friends.”
“Thank you, Le— ma’am.” It was strange to call the woman by her first name, as she had grown close to them in her time here, but she could not call her ‘mom’. Not when she could still see her mother so vividly in her mind, her eyes bright with life, her lips painted pink and a warm smile always upon them. The girl quickly hurried out, before she could be stopped. She fled down through the bakery, the call of her name growing distant with each step she took.
Marinette had friends in this place. None of them were like Alya, Nino, or even Adrien (could he really be considered a friend when she couldn’t manage to string together a sentence in front of him?). None were like the classmates she was so fond of. Everyone here was different, unique in their own way and she supposed that her classmates would have been considered in the same light to anyone in her shoes now. She missed her home, and tried not to compare what she had lost to what she had now but she wondered if they truly considered her a friend. Tikki said she was overthinking things, like always. Mari was prone to agree with her on this one, but it was hard not to when she felt so out of place.
”Marinette Dupain-Cheng.” Chloe’s voice cut through the air with very little subtlety, her disdain evident with every syllable that left her lips. Marinette heaved a sigh and turned to consider the mayor’s daughter, who had been her tormentor for as long as she could remember ”What is it, Chloe?” It was bound to be something trivial, of course. A demand that she move out of her way, or a statement that her choice in clothing was offensive. Yet, she asked anyway. She, at least, tried to be nice.
She doodled her way through class, paying little attention to what they were learning. She engaged in conversation, even starting a few on her own. When the day ended, she smiled genuinely and waved goodbye to those who went in other directions on their way home before following her friends to a cafe that was close to all of their homes. She lingered there, laughing and joking as she would have normally. They talked about school and other trivial things — sometimes about crushes but Marinette never found herself drawn to anyone in this world.
“I can’t do it! I can’t tell him, Alya. Every time I try—“
“I know, girl. But you gotta try! You can’t just stutter around him all the time or you’re never going to make any progress.” Her friend’s hand rested firmly upon her shoulder, encouraging with a smile. She gestured with her head, over her shoulder to where Adrien stood. “Look, now is the perfect opportunity. He’s alone, and he has at least a few minutes to hear you out.”
When the sky grew dark, she parted ways from her friends and returned home to the bakery where she was greeted by two cheerful smiles and a warm meal. They talked of her newest designs, they offered to give her a little extra allowance for additional chores so she could save up for the materials she’d need. And then, she went off to her room, did her homework in silence as Tikki was nowhere to be found. She only emerged when it was time for sleep and they talked quietly, speaking of nothing as they always did. “It’s not your fault.” Tikki promised before she retreated for sleep.
Her eyes closed and sleep came.
Her mother called out her name, letting her know that she was late for school and she wished for five more minutes. She dreamt school was interrupted by a student influenced by negative emotions, who allowed themselves to be twisted into a villain by Hawkmoth. Her own voice cried out “Spots on!”, transforming and hearing a pun from her partner that somehow related to the latest villain. As always, the found where the akuma was located, breaking the item that it had taken residence in. And when they deevilized the pretty butterfly, their fists met in a cheer for a job well done.
Maybe tomorrow she would miss things less.