GUEST POST: Beauty and the Beat—Ch. 1

I decided to start featuring guests on my blog, the guests will be providing something to showcase their work. It is an honour for someone to volunteer both their time and effort into my blog, so without further ado, I shall introduce my first guest; @obdobuk. He’s a fan of many books, shows, and films. He also writes about said list and he volunteered to write a short fan-fiction based on the infamous TV series, Miraculous Ladybug. Here’s the first chapter of 10, hope you enjoy!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: “I was asked by my biggest fan, the owner of the blog you’re reading, to write something. And this is the first part of that something. I hope you enjoy it and come back for the rest.” – obdobuk


Chapter 1

 

“But father I-”

“No”.

“You can’t ju-”

“Enough Adrien! I have already been quite accommodating in this. But what you ask for is impossible”.

Adrien Agreste sat facing his father from across his desk. It was a gargantuan work space and every inch of it was covered with sketches, fabric samples, catalogues, budget reports and everything else the CEO of the biggest fashion label in the world needed at hand.

“Father, one of the main reasons to attend university is the social component”.

“I am not sending you to get drunk and act frivolously”.

“I am aware of that father. But if I am to become the heir of this company then I must learn to be socially graceful so that our clients will have as much confidence in me that they do in you”.

The sad thing, Adrien thought as he bore his father’s scrutiny, was that he wasn’t even lying. Adrien’s education had consisted of many years with the finest tutors money could by. He could speak multiple languages and play the piano and the violin with exquisite skill. Adrien excelled in all of his subjects and had travelled the world with his father learning first hand the many cultures of the globe. But in all of his eighteen years, he had never made a friend. He just didn’t know how to.

“You make a valid point Adrien, but I will not allow you to live with the other students in the dormitories. It is unsafe and you will be a target for kidnap and ransom”. Adrien swallowed the desire to roll his eyes; the man before him would not appreciate such informality. “I have made my decision. You will attend the École Normale Superieure and you will live in our Paris residence” Adrien sagged in his chair. Once his father had made up his mind there was no changing it and it would be futile to keep trying. But perhaps there was a middle ground.

“Father, what if we opened up the house to a small number of other students. Those who are studious and respectful but unable to get accommodation in the campus dorms. I will be able to practice my social interactions and Gabriel, both you and the company, will benefit from the charitable move”.

Gabriel studied his son intently, impressed at the savvy behind the proposal. It was true that the company would benefit heavily from the kind move but it was not like his son to think in such ways. Perhaps he was a suitable heir after all.

“That is a good idea Adrien. I am impressed”, Adrien failed to hide his pleasure at his father’s praise. “I will arrange the details with Nathalie”. When Adrien was dismissed by his father he couldn’t help but punch the air in celebration. He had done it. It took almost seven seconds for the panic to set in.

By the time he had made it to his room he was completely freaking out.

“Oh God” he whimpered as he sank to the ground. “I have to make friends”.

/

Marinette sat on her bed reading and rereading the letter in her hands. It had been several minutes since she started doing so but the news had not set in.

Dear Miss Dupain-Cheng,

We are pleased to inform you that your joint application for the Gabriel Residence Programme has been successful. A similar letter has been sent to your co-applicants Miss Alya Césaire and Mr Nino Lahiffe.

As mentioned in the application information, you will all be living with Mr Adrien Agreste. The details on appropriate and inappropriate behaviour can be found in the pack accompanying this letter.

You will be able to move into the residence during the week before the beginning of the school term.

Congratulations once again,

Ms Nathalie Sancoeur

Marinette fell backwards onto her pillows with a ‘whumpf’ and stared up at the ceiling. It was happening. Her problems had been solved. She had been accepted into the ENS to do fashion design and now she didn’t have to worry about living expenses as everything would be taken care of.

She remembered the worry and heartbreak when she learned how much the on-campus residences cost, knowing her parents couldn’t afford it. This had been her last chance otherwise she’d have to travel three hours every day by bus or go to a closer school that wasn’t as good. She had smiled and played it down for her parents when they asked about it.

“Of course the other school is good”,

“They are pretty much the same”,

“It won’t really make a difference”,

But Marinette knew that going to her second choice would seriously harm her career prospects. The fashion world was already nearly impossible to break into, she didn’t need any further obstacles. And after all the waiting and worrying, here it was. The answer to all her prayers. She was going to ENS and she was living in the Agreste Manor for free. She would be living with her two best friends and Adrien Agreste himself.

Her eyes flickered towards the several posters of him that were scattered across her walls. Marinette immediately decided against taking them with her; to do that would be asking for trouble. She studied his face intently under the sunlight filling her room. Green eyes and a slim nose. A jaw that had become stronger as he grew older. It was no secret that she found him attractive but the real dream wasn’t to date him. It was to design for him.

This was Adrien Agreste! The most famous male model walking the runway. His father may have started his career but his skill and character had made him the model of choice for some of the biggest labels on the planet. Having him wear a Marinette original would be incomparable.

TAKE A LOOK AT MY CROCODILE!”

Her Jagged Stone ringtone pulled her from her thoughts of success and fame. Marinette knew who it would be and answered the phone, keeping it well away from her eardrum.

“AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!”

Alya’s scream was loud enough to echo through her room, even through the tiny speaker. Marinette laughed at her friends excitement and pulled the phone closer after she had ran out of breath.

“I take it you just got the letter?” Marinette inquired.

“I did! I can’t believe this! We all got in!” Despite being quieter, her energy had not diminished.

“I can’t believe it either. It’s going to be amazing. I have to start packing everything now”. As she said it, Marinette began imagining packing up her whole life into boxes and she could feel the tears begin to form.

“Hey don’t you start crying on me. It’ll make the phone sex really awkward”. Marinette snorted into the phone at her best friends comment.

“Oh yeah. That’s the awkward part. The tears”.

“Well at least it got you to stop. We need to find out when Nino can move in. That way we can all do it on the same day. I don’t want to risk being the first one there and meeting them all on my own. Now that would be awkward”.

Marinette agreed. The house had kitchen and cleaning staff, all of whom would be introduced to the three of them when they moved in along with Adrien Agreste and Ms Sancoeur. Facing that by herself made her skin crawl.

“Super awkward. We have a week left before we can move in anyway so we should probably start getting stuff ready”.

“Good idea. I have to go and tell my mom; just heard her walk in. She is going to freak out”. Knowing that Alya got her enthusiasm from her mother, Marinette knew she was right.

“I have to tell my parents too. I’ll talk to you tomorrow”.

“Bye girl”.

Setting her phone down Marinette stood up and slowly walked around her room. She had lived here since she had been old enough to get her own room. The loft bedroom with its own balcony had been her sanctuary whenever she needed to get away. It was strange to think that in a week she would not be sleeping here.

Marinette turned and ran out of her room before the tears could make a comeback.

 

Packing was hectic.

Eighteen years of life had to be sorted through and most of it disposed of before she could decide what to take with her and what to leave behind. The baby clothes were definitely not coming with her, she thought.

“You were such a fat toddler” her father commented as he found her onesie.

“Papa!” Marinette protested as her mother laughed.

“What? You were! You were my chubby little angel, and now I’m looking at a beautiful young woman getting ready to leave home”. Ever since she had given them the news about moving out, all three of them had taken to crying at random times. Right now it was her father’s turn. She walked up to him and tried her best to hug his enormous frame. He always smelled of bread and flour. It was comforting.

“I’m not going far Papa and I will visit when I can. I pro-”

“Don’t promise that Mari. I want you to enjoy your new freedom. Just don’t do anything too crazy ok? And call us every once in awhile so we don’t worry”. He tried to keep his voice strong but his daughter could see the tears he was holding back.

“I’ll make you proud Papa”, she whispered as she began crying again. “I promise”. Marinette felt her mother hold them both from behind, cocooning her between her parents.

“You have always made us proud Mari” she whispered.

/

Adrien paced his room. Back and forth. Back and forth. Anxiously waiting for the doo-

Ding Dong

His head whipped around and stared at his own door in terror as if he could see through it. They had come.

Adrien could not remember the excitement of the weeks before. He knew he had been looking forward to this but the jarring realisation that these people would be in front of him, watching him, had caused Adrien to nervously pace almost ten miles in several days. Now they were here in his home. In their home.

He took several deep breaths to try and calm himself but they didn’t work. So he pretended. Adrien reached into his considerable bag of facial expressions and brought out a happy gaze with an enthusiastic smile. With relaxed shoulders he reached for the door handle only for a loud knock to startle him backwards, fake composure vanishing.

“Adrien?” Nathalie’s muffled voice sounded through the thick door. “They’re here. We are to go and greet them”.

“Yes Nathalie. I’ll be right there”. With the thick carpets and walls it was almost impossible to hear anything outside of the room you were in. Especially if the door was closed. He hadn’t heard any footsteps and no matter how hard he tried, Adrien couldn’t tell if she had left or was waiting for him. Adrien pulled the door open silently to find her there. “Thank you for waiting Nathalie. Let us go greet my new housemates”.

They walked side by side down the North hallway until they came to the large staircase that bisected the building. The upper floor was simple. Two bedrooms and an office along the Northern corridor and the same configuration was reflected along the Southern one. Each bedroom had it’s own bathroom which had been one of the main reasons there had been so many applicants.

The lower floor was less symmetrical. There was the dining room, the library, the music room and the lounge as well as the kitchens, gym and Gabriel’s study bedroom. Both of which had been politely but firmly declared off-limits. Apart from that they were free to roam the house and grounds which included a swimming pool, a multipurpose sports court and a flower garden that had something in bloom nine months out of twelve. It was a wonderful and lonely place to live.

As he walked, Adrien found himself immensely grateful that he had managed to convince his father to open the house up to others. The idea of spending the entirety of his university career alone in this house, no better than a ghost haunting the hallways…it didn’t bare thinking about.

Then he reached the top of the staircase and he stopped thinking completely.

“Welcome all of you, to what you will hopefully come to think of as your new home”. Adrien was dimly aware of Nathalie addressing the three families that had gathered in the foyer. But Adrien’s attention was fixed on the three people who…were his age. He couldn’t help but move his gaze between the three of them while Nathalie did all the work.

“We are very pleased that you are all here and both Adrien and I look forward to getting to know you all. My name is Nathalie Sancoeur and I am the Personal Assistant to Gabriel Agreste. And this” she gestured back up the staircase, “is Adrien Agreste who will be living with you as you all attend ENS. I’m sure you will get to know each other very well over the next few months”.

Adriens mouth was dry, his throat like sandpaper. He couldn’t even begin to form a word of greeting or even a small smile. He was used to everyone in the room looking at him but this time it was terrifying. Thankfully, as always, Nathalie came to his rescue.

“If you all would like to leave your belongings here, we can begin with a tour of the house and grounds so that you can become comfortable here as soon as you can. As we do that the house staff will move your belongings to your new rooms. Nino you will be in the North corridor with Adrien and Marinette and Alya, you will be in the South corridor. After that we can introduce you to all the house staff who will be working here and then there will be a small meal for us all to talk comfortably”.

Had Adrien not been as overwhelmed as he was, he would have noticed similar expressions on the faces of all those gathered below. But he was firmly lost in his own panic. He only barely managed to follow the tour as it left the foyer, lagging several steps behind. Occasionally someone would look back at him as if to try and engage him in conversation but they would always turn back to the front without a word. Adrien was simultaneously relieved and disappointed.

/

Physically she wasn’t tired, years of dance training had given her great fitness, but mentally Marinette was exhausted. Filling the car with her belongings and driving away had been heartbreaking, but seeing her two best friends and the mansion they would be living in had cheered her up immensely. But lurking below that was the guilt she felt at seemingly abandoning her parents. All in all, she just wanted to rest.

The tour had been amazing. There was just so much! Every room was beautifully decorated and so full of light that she couldn’t help but wish she could design houses and clothes. But the bedrooms were the best bit. Marinette’s jaw had dropped as they walked into the room that would be hers.

It was huge.

Her room was the size of a small studio apartment and based on the smell of fresh paint and sawdust, it had recently been redecorated just for her. The first thing she saw when walking in were the floor to ceiling windows that would give her a beautiful view of the sunset every day. And beyond them was a balcony. On the left hand side of the room was a king size, four-poster bed that looked like the softest thing she had ever seen. On the right was a desk complete with computer system, two closets and several empty bookcases. And like the rest of the house, the floor was covered in a soft, thick carpet.

Marinette loved it.

Nino’s and Alya’s had been identical to hers in every way except both of their rooms faced eastwards. They had walked directly passed Adrien’s room however. Marinette had not expected them to be invited into it but nor had she thought it would be completely ignored.

Like he had ignored all of them.

As her thoughts turned to Adrien Agreste, her eyes flickered to where he loomed at the back of the group as they walked towards the dining room. She had hoped to talk with the person she’d be sharing a house with but he seemed quite cold and annoyed with the whole deal. ‘Clearly he doesn’t want us here’ Marinette thought to herself.

Glimpsing an empty foyer just before the entered the dining room told her that their belongings had indeed been taken up to their rooms. But all thoughts were wiped away by the sight of a table full of food.

There were small snacks such as sandwiches, fruits and pastries as well as more filling dishes. Homemade pizzas and pasta as well as stew, sushi and rice. And for a sweet aftertaste, eclairs, cakes of many flavours, fruit tarts and ice cream.

Standing behind the fully ladened table was the household staff. Ten uniformed men and women of varying ages and ethnicities.The four kitchen staff wore loose white trousers and shirts with the chefs hat while the four house staff donned suits of pure black with a crisp white shirt beneath. The final two maintained the grounds and wore sturdy pants with warm tops to protect them from the cooling climate. Each of them had a smile on their face and was paying close attention to the three young adults who would be living here full time.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the wonderful food before you was prepared by the cooks before you, Sasha, Bruce, Jacques and Ellie. All the inside spaces are kept pristine by Marco, Elisabeth, Jean-Luc and Francois. The gardens are cared for by Annie and Louise”. Each had nodded when they were announced and after the last one, Marinette, Nino and Alya led them all in light applause.

“Thank you so much for everything you have done for us” Marinette said.

“Yeah seriously. You guys are awesome” added Nino.

“We are really grateful” said Alya. Once again the staff dipped their heads in recognition but their collective gaze was much warmer as they looked upon these kind young adults.

“Please feel free to begin eating”. The words had barely left Nathalie’s lips before the three rushed forwards to sate their hunger, followed more leisurely by their parents. Conversation began at once as Nino insisted the staff join the rest of them for the meal. Marinette’s parents and Alya’s mother drew the chefs into an in depth discussion on cooking whilst Nino and Alya entertained the other staff members with tales of their old school.

Marinette leaned against a wall and sampled a sandwich and slice of pizza followed by an eclair which was every bit as good as the ones her father made. Given that no one was talking to her, she had the opportunity to observe everyone else. They all looked happy. All of them, she spied, except Adrien and Nathalie who were quietly talking to one another in the corner. Both looked serious as they quickly and quietly conversed. She should at least try to make conversation with him, she thought. It was his house after all. Mari intended to be polite and respectful but the moment she stepped in their direction, Adrien glanced at her once before turning and leaving the room. Thankfully he did so unobtrusively so the only one who noticed the moment was Nathalie. With a sigh she came over to join Marinette but didn’t say a word about what had just occurred.

“Marinette how are you finding the day so far?” Nathalie inquired politely.

“It’s wonderful” she replied honestly. “And a little overwhelming. This is such a beautiful home. It will take some getting used to”. Nathalie smiled politely.

“I understand completely. This house is a lot to take in but I’m sure you’ll feel at home here soon. So tell me how do you, Alya and Nino know each other?”

“Alya and I met in ballet class when we were children. We were both terrible but liked each other. And Nino was the DJ in another class we took together a few years later”.

They smiled and chatted a bit longer until the food had been finished and the meal over. After yet more thanks, the staff proceeded to clean everything away while the rest of them followed Nathalie to the lounge.

“Where’s Agreste?” Alya whispered as she moved to walk next to Mari.

“No idea. I was about to talk to him when he left. Hasn’t come back yet”. She didn’t mention that it was because she tried to talk to him that he left.

“He really likes his alone time”.

The lounge was a room designed to convey a sense of comfort. It had wonderfully soft couches and chairs all facing inwards to make it easy to talk. And behind the seating formation, a fire sat beneath the mantle casting a soft glow over everything. As Marinette sat down between her parents, the warmth of the room and the fullness of her stomach made her very sleepy. She hoped her bed was as soft as the pillows she rested against.

“I trust you have all enjoyed the meal and the day so far”. There was a chorus of assent from the families as they relaxed. “I’m glad to hear that”, said Nathalie. “I’d like to take this time to answer any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to ask, there really is no such thing as a stupid question”.

“How many of the staff will be here on any given day?” Nino asked from a luxuriously red armchair.

“On any given weekday there will be two cooks and three household staff. They will prepare breakfast should you wish, pack lunches if you ask them to and serve dinner in the dining room in the evening. The household staff will keep the main house clean and will not venture into your room unless you want them to. And they will happily clean any clothes you give them. They will not be offended if you prefer to do these things yourself nor will they be annoyed if you ask them for help. On the weekends there will be one of each. The gardeners only come in on Wednesdays and Sundays unless otherwise arranged”.

Marinette could see Alya’s smile from across the room. As the oldest sister, cooking and cleaning and laundry had often fallen to her due to her mother’s busy schedule. Having someone to do it for her must have seemed like heaven. Marinette on the other hand felt vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of giving someone her clothes to clean but she would think it over later.

“Is there a chance that Mr Agreste will turn up?” Marinette wondered if she would ever glimpse the CEO of Gabriel.

“Of course. He is ju-…My apologies. You meant Mr Gabriel Agreste”. Nathalies cheeks had flushed ever so slightly that Marinette wouldn’t have been surprised if no one else noticed. She thought Mari had asked about Adrien.

“Mr Gabriel Agreste spends his time between his offices in New York, Milan, and Tokyo focussing on his international reach. On rare occasion he is called back to Paris which is why his office and his bedroom are kept ready for him. That is also why they are kept locked. It is not a sign of mistrust but rather that there are a great deal of confidential documents which must be kept secure”.

Everyone nodded in understanding but no one quiet knew what kind of confidential documents a CEO would have.

“Is there any rules against parents visiting?” Marinette gently elbowed her father for asking the question but nearly everyone else laughed.

“No there are no rules against you checking in on your children”, Nathalie smiled. “However I would caution against doing so too often. Your children are, for the first time, venturing into the world as adults. Expected to look after themselves and their affairs in an independent way. To rely foremost on themselves and then their peers. They may not make their own food or clean their own clothes but everything else will be on their own shoulders. So while I’m sure it will be difficult, perhaps it would be best for them that you not visit as often as you would like”.

Every parent present knew there was wisdom in her words but it was still sad to hear. After a few more questions, Nathalie left.

“It was a pleasure meeting you all and if you three” she aimed her last words at Mari, Nino and Alya, “need anything then my number is in the letters you all received. Please feel free to share the number with your parents if you wish. Goodnight”.

As if her leaving was a signal, all the parents began gathering their coats and pulling them on. Marinette hugged her parents for the fifth time in ten seconds.

“I’ll be fine I promise”. Mari mumbled against them.

“We know sweetheart. But we will always worry about you” her mother replied.

“We love you so much Mari”, her father whispered. “And we are so proud of you”.

“I love you both too”.

Eventually they all left and for the first time Alya, Nino and Mari looked at each other in the house they now lived in. It was almost unbelievable and the sudden silence was more than a little uncomfortable. Not wanting to separate just yet, they all moved back towards the lounge and sat down facing each other. For a while they were all silent, lost in their own thoughts. They all started ENS within the week and had nearly everything sorted out before they moved. So until the school year started, they had nothing to do but explore their new home.

“This place is really…big” Nino said, almost to himself. The other two nodded in agreement.

“Really big” Marinette agreed. She was feeling something she couldn’t describe. A sense of getting lost, vanishing into the rooms. She said as much out loud.

“I guess we’ll have to spend time together to make sure that doesn’t happen” declared Alya as she leaned against Nino’s shoulder.

“I do love being the third wheel” Mari said as Nino reached out for Alya’s hand.

“Third wheels are important. Ever tried riding a tricycle without one?”

Marinette laughed at her best friends comment. With a quick glance to make sure the door was closed, Marinette asked “what do you guys think of Adrien?”

“He’s very quiet on his feet. I didn’t realise he left until we came in here”. Nino’s expression was very confused. Sociable by nature he didn’t understand why anyone would stay so quiet or remain hidden at the back.

“I genuinely think he doesn’t want us here” Mari stated. “We just walked into his house and started unpacking”.

“Well I’m sure it gets lonely here” argued Alya. “He needs the company”.

“I don’t think he wants the company” Mari countered.

Soon after, the long day hit them all at once and they stumbled up the stairs and managed to find their rooms without little difficulty. Although Nino stood for several minutes looking between two identical doors trying to decide which was his and which was not. Thankfully a small cough from one of the rooms sent him towards the other.

Marinette could barely keep her eyes open and definitely couldn’t summon the energy to unpack. She pulled a random t-shirt out from one of her cases, changed into it and was asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

/

Adrien sat in his room as it got darker and darker. He didn’t close the curtains nor did he turn on the light. He sat on his couch and just stared into space.

He couldn’t do it. He had waited for so long and wished so hard to have the opportunity to make friends and when three had almost literally been dropped in his lap, Adrien couldn’t even begin to talk to them. He hadn’t even been able to pretend to smile and that was his job!

He had listened though. Strained his ears to hear every word.

Nino the music lover. An only child who lived with his grandparents. He seemed to be a fun and funny person who had chosen to study music.

Then there was Alya. Forceful and confidant. Someone not to be taken lightly. The oldest daughter of a world renowned chef, she had set her sights on being a famous journalist. Adrien knew she would succeed.

Finally there was Marinette. The daughter of two bakers and a genuinely nice person. A dedicated fashion designer and the only one in the whole group who had tried to talk to him, only to have her kindness rewarded by him running away.

“Listen Adrien”, Nathalie had been saying. “It’s ok to be nervous. They won’t think any less of you for being so”.

“I can’t do it Nathalie. I can barely keep myself from standing up. What is wrong with me? Why am I like this?”

“Nothing is wrong with you Adrien”. Her tone had been forceful, leaving no room for error. “Talking to strangers is a skill that needs to be practiced, like everything else. You have worked with the same models and photographers your whole life. A small circle of make up artists and assistants. It is only natural for you to be nervous”.

“But my tutors. I’ve had hundreds of them and never found it hard”.

“That’s because you never cared if they liked you. Now why don’t you just go and talk to one of them. Start with Marinette. She’s very-”

That was when Marinette, as if summoned by the use of her name, made as if to walk over to him. Adriens nerves, which had already been stretched since first seeing everyone, finally broke and he all but ran from the room. Hours later, the shame still burned inside of him.

He had listened later as well, when they were saying goodbye to their parents. Adrien had hidden behind a wall and heard the kind words and the love in every voice. It made him wonder what it would have been like to be raised by a father who actually cared about him.

Adrien got up and moved out onto his balcony. Each bedroom had one and the left side of his was a stone’s throw from the right side of Marinette’s. He would have to be careful not to come out here when she was on hers. It may make her uncomfortable. But right then he was alone and the sky was cloudy; the full moon appearing diffused behind them all. The night’s chill brought clarity to his mind, dispelling his own internal clouds. At least for the time being.

Nathalie was right. He needed practice and also to ease himself into it. He honestly didn’t know how to do that but he would try. That’s all he could do. Walking back inside, Adrien debated and then decided against sending his penpal an email. He had been meaning to send one lately about everything that had been decided but it would be better if he included today. Or at least it would be a longer email.

Adrien stripped down to his boxers and slipped into bed. Tomorrow was another day. He would try again.

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