BY : Cat_Eyes
Category: +M through R > Miraculous LadyBug
Dragon prints: 1429
Disclaimer: I do not own Miraculous Ladybug. Miraculous Ladybug is the intellectual property of Thomas Astruc and released by Zag studios. No profit was made writing this story.

Paris stopped to watch as the judge passed his final verdicts on the man who was once Papillon, and his son, Chat Noir.

People gathered around television sets, mobile devices, and computers as Gabriel Agreste was sentenced to life imprisonment, without a chance of parole, for crimes against humanity. The public cheered as Gabriel, shackled hand and foot, was led from the courtroom. His face was impassive as he was taken away, as it had been throughout his trial. Gabriel was ushered through a dark doorway in complete silence, without a single backward glance, never to see freedom again.

Then, all eyes turned to Adrien Agreste.

As Adrien had shown signs of remorse, and willingly offered information to the police, he was given a lesser sentence and avoided prison time. However, he would be removed from his home and placed in a half-way house, where he would be supervised by a court-appointed guardian. His actions were to be closely monitored for an undetermined length of time, and all of his family's assets would be seized.

Adrien nodded, his expression pained and his eyes squeezed shut, as the judge detailed the conditions of his freedom. As a part of his rehabilitation, he would attend school for the first time in his life. Gabriel had prevented him from having a normal childhood, so it was hoped that with ongoing exposure to other children his age, his integration back into society would go smoothly.

Finally, the judge banged his gavel.



Marinette stood in assembly, the pupils and staff of her school summoned to the courtyard to watch the proceedings on a projector screen. The silence following the judge's conclusion began to stir with uneasy murmurings.

'Was it really ok to just let him go like that?' asked Mylene.

'I wonder which school will have to take him in,' Nathaniel pondered.

'Hey, Chloe, didn't you say he was a friend of yours?' Alix asked, her voice rising above the susurrus.

The area stilled once more as everyone turned to stare at Chloe, suspiciously.

Chloe stared back, eyes unnaturally wide. 'I didn't know he was Chat Noir. Besides, the police ruled me out as an accomplice months ago.'

'All right, students, back to class,' Principal Damocles called from the front.

As Caline Bustier ushered her students back to their classroom, everyone cast sidelong looks at Chloe. She made a show of ignoring them, but sweat beaded her forehead and trickled down her temples.



By the end of the week, no one would even look at Chloe, including Sabrina. Marinette huffed, fed up with their behaviour.

'I'm ashamed of all of you,' she announced on Friday morning. It was raining heavily so they awaited Caline's arrival in their seats.

Marinette put her hands on her hips and glared at her classmates from the front of the room. 'I know Chloe is far from perfect, but it's been proven she was not in league, or sympathised, with Papillon. She said herself that she wasn't aware of their identities or wrongdoings, so if that's good enough for the police, then it should be good enough for you, too.'

Everyone looked away, staring at their laps, while Chloe subtly wiped her eyes. Marinette then turned to Sabrina, where she now sat beside Ivan.

'You said you were her best friend. You've staunchly supported Chloe for years, but the moment things get dicey, you turn your back on her. You, her closest friend, so easily assumed the worst of her when she needed you most. I'm the most disappointed in you, Sabrina. A fair-weather friend, indeed.'

Sabrina's face fell as she pulled up her legs and curled in on herself, sobbing as she rested her face on her knees. 'I'm sorry, Marinette,' she mumbled.

Marinette snorted. 'It's not me you ought to apologise to.'

'That's enough, thank you, Marinette. Take your seat, please,' Caline said as she entered.

The remainder of the day was tense and quiet. They all offered awkward apologies to Chloe after the final bell rang, but she affected an air of indifferent superiority which had many of them scowling after her.

'Some things never change,' Alya commented with a small chuckle.

Marinette waved a limp hand to Alya and headed home, collapsing on her chaise, heartsore and weary.

Immediately after Papillon's very public defeat and unmasking, Fu had appeared before Marinette as she snuck away and asked her to return her miraculous. Shocked and already emotionally overwhelmed, Marinette had cried, begged, and even tried to bribe Fu to let her stay with Tikki for just a little while longer. Fu had gently, but firmly, shaken his head and insisted, hand held out expectantly. So, with her heart breaking, Marinette made her final, teary goodbyes with an equally distraught Tikki, and handed over her earrings. Fu then vanished down a dark alley, disappearing as mysteriously as he had appeared, and taking away the best thing that had ever happened to her.

That had been three months ago, and Marinette still missed Tikki desperately.

The adjustment back into a normal life had been hard, so Marinette threw herself into her work, whether it was designing, homework, household chores, or shifts in the bakery. However, nothing filled the void created by Tikki's absence. Marinette felt like her life no longer held purpose, and had sobbed bitterly into her pillow at night, reminiscing on when she used to swing around Paris in a magical suit of armour with her dearest friend held safely in her jewellery.

Tears burned Marinette's eyes. She wiped an impatient arm across her face and scowled.

No more crying, she thought. Imagine what Tikki would say if she could see me now.

Determined, Marinette got to her feet and retrieved her sketch pad. She trotted downstairs and outside, waving to Tom and Sabine as she passed, and headed toward her favourite place in the whole city.

Her time as Ladybug may be over, but where one life ended, another began. She was simply entering the next stage of her journey, and she vowed to make the most of it.

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