Let’s Make Tonight Last Forever
Hello, all! Long time no see. I took a long break from writing, but I’ve been working on a lot behind the scenes. Expect to see more soon!
This is for my amazing friend, @misscongenialityofmlb! I know it’s a little late, but I wish you the happiest birthday!
And a big thank you to my lovely beta, @penguonice!
Length: 5136 words
Summary: Marinette has a secret that she's been hiding from her friend, Chat Noir, but now that her kingdom and its people are in grave danger, she has no choice but to tell him the truth. When Chat learns that his lady is actually a merperson, he leaps to her aid, but unbeknownst to Marinette, he's has a secret, as well.
“You seem a little upset tonight, my lovely Ladybug. A penny for your thoughts?” Chat sounded genuinely concerned, and rightfully so. His perceptiveness never ceased to amaze her.
They’d been in the cavern for nearly two hours, and Marinette had barely said a word. Sure, she had far too much on her mind, but what was the point of having a chatting buddy if you didn’t talk?
Perhaps it was time to trust him with everything...even though he was one of them.
No, those kinds of thoughts were toxic. Who was she to lump every single human into one group? If she did, she’d be no better than her parents who feared the land-dwellers so much that they refused to take any action against the terrible injustices being committed against the merpeople. For the most part, humans had been nothing but kind and generous.
Besides, this was Chat Noir. He was human, but he was more than that. He was her friend. They’d been meeting every week for nearly five years, and it was safe to say that this boy was the most kind-hearted person she’d ever met.
Was there a part of her that hoped one day they could be more than just friends? Well, yes. And (even though her parents would probably kill her if they ever found out) was she willing to exchange her fins for legs if he loved her in return? Also, yes. But that definitely didn’t have anything to do with this. Nope, not at all. Chat was trustworthy all on his own.
Besides, the horrors she’d experienced were the king’s doing. No one else’s.
It was now or never. It was time for Marinette to take a leap of faith, and she had no doubt that Chat would catch her before she fell.
“Well, I-” she began, the words getting caught in her throat. This was not going to be easy, but she had to do this. “I need an audience with Prince Adrien.”
“The prince?” Voice cracking on the last syllable, he cleared his throat before continuing. “May I ask why?”
“My people are in danger, and I was hoping he could help.”
“Yes, I uhh…well, I would say that it’s hard to explain, but it’s really not.” She took a deep breath. “You see, my father is a king, and as his only daughter, I am next in line for the throne. Sorry I didn’t tell you before.”
“Are you telling me that you’re not a citizen of this kingdom?”
“No, I’m not. I live close, but I do not answer to King Gabriel, and soon, no one will. I heard that his son has come of age and that he will become king soon. Which is why it’s imperative that I talk to the prince.” This was it. No going back now. “I’m so scared, Chat. We all are. Ships from the royal fleet keep coming into our waters and taking my friends and family. My father told me to stay away from humans, but I can’t just sit back and do nothing anymore. Maybe his son is better than he is. I know I’m gambling on nothing more than hope, but I have to do something.”
Chat was silent for a long time, momentarily making Marinette wonder if she had been speaking to a ghost all these years. Surely the cheerful and confident boy who stumbled upon her sanctuary wasn’t just a mere figment of her imagination. And he wouldn’t disappear when she needed him the most, right?
Because of her obvious lack of legs, Marinette had been hesitant to befriend the human intruder all those years ago, but when the boy had begged to visit her again, they agreed to an anonymous relationship. Only speaking to each other from darkened corners of their hidden coastal cave, they’d never actually seen each other’s faces. They’d even gone as far as to use nicknames when referring to each other. She always thought it was for the best, but things had changed.
Over time, Chat became one of the most important parts of her life. She’d have gone crazy long ago if she didn’t have him as a companion and confidant. And he was seldom quiet, which made his sudden loss for words so disconcerting.
Had she gone too far?
“My lady,” he finally said, his voice barely a whisper, “you’re not human, are you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“You’re a merperson.”
“Yes, I am.” Her knuckles turned white as Marinette gripped the craggy edges of the boulder she was perched on. “It’s been like this almost my entire life, and I can’t live like this anymore. Every day I wake up afraid. My parents just tell us to stay away, but it’s not working. People keep getting taken, and I don’t know what else to do. I have to help them.”
He got quiet again.
Maybe she really had gone too far.
Feeling the tension grow thicker, Marinette tried to backtrack. She’d lost so many people already, and the last thing she needed was to lose him, too. “Hey, don’t worry about it. I know it’s probably an impossible request. It’s fine. I’m sorry I asked. Never-”
“I can get you into the palace,” he said, cutting her off.
“Really? Chat, thank you so much!” So, this is what relief felt like. It was refreshing.
“I can get you in, but I just need you to clarify something for me.”
“Yes, of course! Anything!”
“Are you sure they were royal ships?” Oh, no. He sounded upset.
“Yes.” How she wished they weren’t. Biting back tears, she lowered her head and fought back the terrible memories that threatened to resurface. “They had the kingdom’s seal on them. The men on board were soldiers. They had weapons, Chat. They hurt so many of us.”
For hundreds of years, the merpeople and the humans had lived in harmony. And they weren’t just peaceful allies, they were friends. The merpeople shared their magic while the humans shared their bounties in return.
When Marinette was very little, too young to really remember anything, everything changed. The human king became cold and distant, and it wasn’t until the first ships arrived, taking hundreds of lives with them, that the merpeople realized just how broken the alliance had become.
“I’m so sorry.” Was Chat crying? “I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”
“Oh, Chat, it’s not your fault. It’s the king’s.”
“I know, but your people...they’ve suffered so much. I believed all those lies. We all did. I never imagined. I’m so sorry, my lady. There are no words.”
How she wished she could hold him in her arms and take away his sadness. He was such a pure soul. “Thank you for helping me. I didn’t know where else to go, and you’re the only human I know.”
After several long minutes, he seemed to have composed himself, but to her surprise, there was now an unfamiliar bite behind his tone. “I will do everything in my power to keep you and your people safe. Don’t worry, my lady, I will get you an audience with the prince. I have connections inside the palace. I promise we will fix this.”
“Chat I can’t thank you enough.” He sounded so confident that she couldn’t help but feel relieved. If only every part of this plan was going to be this easy. “Now I just need to figure out how to make the prince listen to me.”
“Oh, he will,” Chat responded without hesitation. “That’s also something I can promise.”
“Wait, do you know the prince?”
“You could say that he and I are very close, and he is nothing like his father. He will listen to you.”
More relief. Thank goodness she had trusted Chat. “Does that mean you have a plan?”
“I think so, but…”
“I remember hearing stories from my mom of merpeople walking on land. Is that something that you’re still able to do?” He was gambling, too. Good to know that he was also willing to take risks. Chat was going to be the perfect partner.
But was it still possible? Marinette had heard the stories, as well, but she wasn’t sure. Perhaps Tikki knew. Still, if Chat was looking to help, she didn’t want to discourage him in any way. “Maybe? If you need me to, I’ll figure it out.”
“Great, so, there’s a ball at the palace in three days. It’s the prince’s birthday, and you’re right, he’s coming of age. He has to pick a future wife before he becomes king, so all the marriage candidates will be there. I can get your name on the list. If you can get there, give the guard your name, and he’ll let you in. Then, I’ll meet you inside and get you an audience with the prince.”
His plan seemed solid, but there was a large hole that needed to be patched if they were going to pull this off. “But if I don’t know what you look like, how will I find you?”
He got quiet again. She could almost hear the wheels in his head-turning. “Do you remember those lucky charms that we gave to each other?”
“Yeah.” Marinette toyed with the beads on her wrist. How could she forget? It was her most prized possession. She never took it off. “What about them?”
“For reasons I can’t explain yet, I won’t be able to wear mine, but if you wear yours, I will find you. Once I do, I’ll introduce myself as Chat Noir.”
“But won’t it be easier if I showed you my face now? I don’t mind. I know I did in the past, but I trust you.”
“Please.” He sounded upset again. Did he not want to see her? “If you trust me, then let’s see each other for the first time at the ball. It will all make sense then. I swear.”
She clutched the beads. This is what she’d wanted. She’d already put her faith in him a long time ago, and if she really did trust him, it was time to let go of the reins. “Okay, I’ll wear my charm.”
“Perfect.” She heard the familiar scraping of him getting up from the rocks and collecting his things. “Goodbye, my lady. I can’t wait to see you.”
She would see him soon.
Marinette shifted uncomfortably at the edge of the dance floor. She’d seen humans before, but not this many in such a small space. It was a little unsettling.
She was wobbly on her new legs, and she was far too nervous to walk around, let alone attempt dancing. Even though she tried to blend into the shadows, the people who passed by would stare, making her feel like she was on display. She couldn’t figure out why, and she had no idea how to make it stop.
Where on earth was Chat?
He was supposed to be here.
She needed him.
Backing up all the way to the edge of the room, Marinette felt the wall behind her give way. Luckily, she caught herself on a conveniently placed metal railing.
When she finally regained her balance, she found herself alone on a balcony. Away from the stuffy crowds and uncomfortable stares, for the first time all night, she could relax. She closed her eyes and breathed in the fresh sea air.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Marinette jumped at the sudden intrusion, but upon inspection, she decided that the new person was most likely not a threat. If anything, he looked rather nice. Kind of like how Chat sounded when he spoke. “I didn’t realize there was someone else out here. Was the party becoming a little much for you, as well?”
Hands at her sides, gripping the railing tight, she nodded. “Yeah. I didn’t realize this was here. The view is...um...beautiful.”
“It is.” Taking a spot next to her, he stared off into the distance. “I’ve always loved looking at the ocean at night. The way the moon glistens on the water just makes it all look so majestic. However, I hate to say it, the view is much better from my room up in the tower.”
“You live here?” Chat or no Chat, this was her chance, and she wasn’t about to waste it. “Do you by chance know the prince?”
The man snorted and quickly slapped his hand in front of his mouth in an obvious attempt to conceal another laugh. “I’m sorry, that was rude, but it’s not every day that someone doesn’t recognize who I am in my own home.”
Marinette went limp as she tried to process what the man had just said. Then it hit her.
She may not have been used to walking yet, but she practically flew as she launched herself off of the railing and dipped into a clumsy curtsey. “Your Highness, please forgive me. I hope I did not offend you in any way.”
“Oh, uhh, please, you don’t have to do that.” He scratched the back of his neck and chuckled. “It’s actually kind of refreshing.”
“I’m sorry.” Smoothing out her skirt, Marinette straightened her back and clasped her hands in front of her. “Thank you for your understanding.”
“No, please, there’s nothing to be sorry for. Like I said, it’s refreshing. It’s been a long night with all these bride candidates hanging all over me.” He walked over to the railing and leaned his arms against the edge. “Sometimes it feels like the only reason people talk to me is because I’m the prince, not because I’m Adrien.”
Marinette’s heart sank. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time to bring up her grievance. The last thing she wanted to do was anger him and make matters worse. He seemed like a decent person, but it was imperative for this first meeting to go well. So many lives were on the line.
However, if she was being honest, as a princess, she completely understood where he was coming from. Someone always seemed to want something from her because she was in a position of power. Because of this, she had a few friends, but not many. That’s why talking to Chat was such an important part of her life. Maybe this prince needed someone, too. Maybe friendship was the key to solving both their problems.
She took a quiet, calming breath. “D-did you want to talk about it?”
His head snapped in her direction. “Really? But we’re strangers.”
“True, we are now, but having a conversation is a great way to become friends.”
When he smiled, his eyes glittered, and Marinette couldn’t help but note that he was a spectacularly attractive human being. She wondered if Chat resembled this prince. Then again, her friend was such a pure soul that he would no doubt be the most beautiful person in the universe regardless of what his features looked like.
“You’d be my friend?”
She nodded. “As long as you’d be mine, too, yes.”
“Well, if you really are willing to listen, can I tell you a story?” Adrien asked, fixing his eyes on the landscape once again. “It’s a little strange, but it’s what’s on my mind.”
“I’m supposed to find a bride by the end of tonight. I don’t know. It’s some old, crusty tradition. Usually, I don’t mind carrying out my duties, but this time, I don’t know if I can. I’ve already fallen in love with someone, and I think she might be in love with me, too. I’m not sure, but I need to ask her how she feels before I move on. However, the rules state that the chosen bride candidate must be in attendance at the crown prince’s coming of age ball, and she must be chosen tonight.”
“Is she not here?”
“Yes. No, well, maybe?” He clenched a fist and sighed. “She was supposed to be, but I have a problem, and there’s no way to solve it without making a big deal because everyone treats everything I do as monumental. I speak, and the earth shakes. I walk somewhere, and the sea parts. It’s very annoying.”
Marinette was positively giddy, but she did her best not to show it on her face. The last thing she needed was for the prince to think that she was enjoying his misery. Still, it was as if the entire universe was aligning just for her. This was the perfect opportunity to help the prince and establish a good working relationship with each other. “What’s her name? Maybe I can help you look through the crowd to find her.”
“And that’s the issue. She’s not exactly welcome here, and if I ask around, it might get back to my father. If that happens, he might get rid of her before the official ceremony at the end of the evening.” He looked so defeated, but Marinette couldn’t have asked for a more perfect situation.
With the opening for democracy growing larger with each passing second, she took a step towards the prince and stood tall. “Then let me help you find her. I’ll be as quiet and unassuming as possible. What does she look like?”
“And there’s problem number two. I don’t exactly know what she looks like. I don’t even know her name,” he said, hanging his head. “Before you laugh, I swear there’s a reason why. When I was little, I used to go out on my balcony when I needed to clear my head. When I sat out there on cloudless nights, I swore I could hear singing. After my mother died, I couldn’t stand being in the palace, so one day, I followed it, and I found her. My beautiful and mysterious Ladybug.”
Marinette went still.
No. It couldn’t be.
Sure, the universe was on her side tonight, but even she wasn’t this lucky. No one was this lucky.
“Ladybug,” she found herself saying out loud, desperately trying to get a grasp on the situation. “You call her Ladybug.
“Yeah, she’s a very private person. I call her my lucky Ladybug because she’s there when I need her the most. We talk about anything and everything, and I was finally going to see her tonight. I was supposed to find her using this.” Adrien opened his hand, revealing the familiar gold and blue lucky charm. “I found it in the middle of the dance floor. It must have fallen off. I hope she’s okay. She must be so nervous.”
Grazing her fingers across her now bare wrist, things started to click into place. It really was him. He hadn’t abandoned her. And he was in love with her.
He was in love with her.
He was in love with her.
She loved him, and he loved her.
“Chat.” Doing her best to hold back the tears of joy welling in her eyes, she covered her mouth with her hands. “My Chat Noir. I found you.”
His eyes slowly locked with hers. “What did you just say?”
The tears now freely streaming, Marinette beamed and extended a hand for him to shake. “Your Highness, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself. My name is Marinette. It’s nice to meet you!”
“Is it really you?” Bypassing her hand, he grasped her shoulders, expression brimming with hope. “Please tell me I’m awake right now. This is real, right?”
She nodded. “Yeah, it is.”
“I can’t believe it!” Adrien threw his arms around her and pulled her into a tight squeeze. “My lady, I’m so happy it’s you!”
“You know, this would have been a lot easier if we had just shown each other our faces the last time we met. Why didn’t you just tell me you were the prince?”
Releasing her from the hug, he took a step back and hung his head. “I was scared you would hate me.”
“But I could never hate you.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.” He buried his head in his hands. “When you told me about the ships, I didn’t doubt you for a second. My father...he’s not a good person. He’s into some shady stuff, but I didn’t think he would go that far. I just didn’t want you to think I agreed with him. I didn’t want to lose you.”
“Oh, Chat,” Marinette breathed, taking his hands. “You don’t get to choose your parents, and I know you well enough to say with confidence that you are a good person.”
“I promise you and I will get to the bottom of this. Together, we can take a stand against my father and fight for what is good and just.”
Her heart swelled. “See? Just like I said. You’re an amazing person, Adrien. Don’t think for one second that I don’t know that.”
“You said my name,” he said, his mouth curling into the brightest smile she’d ever seen.
“I did, didn’t I?” She giggled. The situation was so serious, but something else inside her overshadowed the fear she should have felt. “It’s a nice name.”
“Can you say it again?”
“Adrien.” She laughed again.
“And you’re Marinette.”
He squeezed her hands. “It’s weird, but like a good weird. I think I could get used to this.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you are truly stunning? You are probably the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, and I’m not just saying that because you know all my deepest, darkest secrets.”
Not fair. She was already having trouble standing as it was. How was she supposed to survive the night if he said things like that to her?
“N-no. I...umm...thank you.” She knew her face was turning red. Heck, her entire body was on fire. “You’re really handsome, too.”
“Is that so? Care to elaborate, my lady?” he purred. Purred. Was he trying to kill her? Had he always been this flirtatious?
Well, two could play at that game.
Pressing her index finger against his nose, she pushed him away. “Not tonight, kitty.”
“You wound me, Marinette.”
“I don’t know. My fragile heart can only take so much.”
Unable to keep up the facade any longer, Marinette doubled over in laughter. Adrien soon joined in and clung to the railing as peals of laughter racked his body. The pair laughed until they were on the ground, holding each other up for support.
The silence that eventually fell between them was warm and soft. It enveloped them, creating a small, intimate world just for them to enjoy.
“You know,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close, “I meant what I said before. About my feelings.”
“Oh?” She was shaking, but then again, so was he. “I-is that so?”
“I don’t really know how else to say it, so I’ll just say it.” He leaned his forehead against hers. “I love you.”
What a delicate thing moments like this were. Marinette couldn’t help but marvel at its beauty and simplicity. He’d set her world ablaze with three little words, but they were also three little words that knocked them over the precipice and into the unknown. It was exhilarating.
“I love you, too.” His breath ghosted her lips, making it hard to breathe let alone speak. “I’ve wanted to tell you for years, but I didn’t know how.”
He tightened his grip. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt so safe, so peaceful. “Would it be okay if I kissed you?”
Daring to brush her lips against his, she breathed a response. “Yes.”
It started like a breeze, so featherlight that she could barely feel it, and it slowly morphed into a storm, something so powerful that it devoured everything in its path. She was consumed by all that he was, drunk on his essence. His lips danced on hers, conveying every unspoken feeling with a booming declaration.
Her hands made their way to the back of his head and buried themselves in his soft, golden locks. Lips curling into a smile, Adrien deepened the kiss, sending her into a frenzy. Refusing to let go, she wanted more.
As she moved further into his embrace, a searing pain shot through her legs, forcing the pair apart. Hoping it would make the burning stop, she yelped, grabbed her legs, and pulled them against her chest.
Tears streaked her cheeks. It seemed as if her luck had finally run out. The universe had turned its back on her. Tikki had told her that the spell would only last for a few hours, but she wasn’t ready for the magic to end. Not now. Not ever.
How was she supposed to go back to the life she had before? It’s not like she could pretend that tonight never happened. This is where she wanted to be. No, this is where she belonged.
“My lady!” Still on the ground, he scrambled towards her. His hands cupped her face while his thumbs wiped away her tears. “What’s wrong? Are you in pain?”
“I have to go back,” Marinette managed to say between sobs. “The magic is wearing off, and my legs won’t last for much longer. I don’t want to leave you! I just found you! I can’t leave you!”
“There’s no way to stop it?”
“Not with the supplies we have at home. There’s a more permanent spell, but it requires things that grow on land. I highly doubt your father will want to help.”
“Oh, my lady, did you forget that my father won’t have a say much longer? I will be king soon. When I am crowned, I’ll get you anything you need.” The worry melted away from his expression, leaving nothing but admiration behind. “Do you really want to stay? With me?”
Grabbing his wrists, she anchored his hands in place. “If you’ll have me, yes, I want to stay. Please. I don’t want to say goodbye anymore.”
“Then marry me.” His eyes locked with hers, ablaze with devotion. “Be the one who stands by my side at the ceremony tonight. Once I make my choice, no one can break our engagement, not even the king. I love you so much it hurts. I’ve loved you since the day I found you. I can’t even bring myself to imagine a life without you, and if you want to stay, I will do everything in my power to help you do that. We can unite our kingdoms, put a stop to all this senseless violence, and give your people the ability to walk among us once again. Marinette, my lady, my love, become my queen. Let’s make tonight last forever.”
Heart threatening to pound out of her chest, she once again crashed her lips onto his. Every problem, every worry, every care faded away. This love, it was beyond anything she’d ever experienced before. It made her feel invincible, as if she could take on the world. And with Adrien by her side, she knew that she could. With him, there was the hope of a better and brighter tomorrow.
“Yes,” she said, pulling away. “A thousand times, yes!”
He threw his head back and laughed. The joy radiating from him was infectious. “Really? I don’t have to marry one of those other girls?”
Laughing and crying, Marinette shook her head. “Nope. You’re all mine, and I don’t really feel like sharing...if that’s alright with you.”
“As you wish, my lady. I am yours. Forever and always.” Standing up, he brushed off his trousers and extended a hand. “How about we introduce the kingdom to its future queen?”
As Marinette shifted her legs, the pain returned. She winced and dropped her head. “I don’t think I have the strength to get up right now. I’m sorry.”
“Then let me be your strength this time.” Bending down, he scooped Marinette into a bridal carry. “It’s the least I can do after all you’ve done for me.”
“But I’ve done nothing! This plan is all your idea. If anything, I should be thanking you! Without you, I-”
“No, you listened when I had no one. You gave me hope when I had none. You showed me compassion when I needed it the most. That is why I love you.”
All the air rushed from her lungs.
He had to be doing this on purpose. There was no way that someone was naturally this incredible. Then again, he was her Chat Noir. Still, how was she supposed to function under these conditions?
“You can’t just say stuff like that without warning me!” Looping her arms around the back of his neck, she buried her face into his shirt. “Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Because if it is, you’re going to have to carry me a whole lot more. I can’t stand with confidence when you’re this adorable!”
“Good.” He placed a gentle kiss on the crown of her head. “Because I think I rather enjoy having you in my arms like this.”
Face ablaze, she groaned. “Adrien!”
“Yes, my love?” He kissed her again and again, leaving a tingling trail on her face and neck. “What’s on your mind? You should tell me before we go back into the ballroom.”
Pulling her face away from his chest, she looked up. “Wait, you’re really going to carry me in there? Didn’t you just complain to me about everyone making a big deal over what you do? This is sure to cause a stir.”
“The only reason I cared before was because saying something could have kept me from finding you, but now that I have, I want the world to know.” Walking over to the open door, Adrien moved the heavy curtain to the side with his foot. “I’m going to declare my love to the world, and no one can stop me. I think that warrants a bit of commotion, don’t you?”
“You say that no one can stop you, but what if someone tries? I’m not exactly useful with these legs.”
“There are people who are not exactly pleased with how my father has ruled this kingdom, and I know there are many who wish that the merpeople were still a part of our community. We’ll get you those legs, and we’ll do this together.” Stopped at the threshold of the door, people were beginning to stare, but Adrien’s gaze remained locked on Marinette. “What do you say, my lady? Are you ready?”
And there it was. The confidence he’d helped her find. She knew with every fiber of her being that anything was possible as long as they worked as a team. It was new, but it was going to last forever.
“Alright, kitty. Let’s go change the world.”
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