GUEST POST: Beauty and the Beat–Ch. 5

Here it is folks, Chapter 5 is posted! Our guest @obdobuk continues to deliver what we need, while we await the second season of Miraculous Ladybug! Have a great read 🙂

For those who missed the previous chapters, you can find them here -> Ch. 1 Ch. 2 Ch. 3 Ch. 4


Chapter 5

Adrien had a complex relationship with snow. On one hand he loved it. He loved the icy cold of the flakes and the whimsical way they fell to the ground. When it snowed, he would move his sofa right up to his windows and watch them dance across the sky. Adrien could watch the snowfall for hours; for some reason it reminded him of his mother.

 

Which was the other half of his complex relationship. For many years, watching the snow had made him feel alone, and he hated being alone at Christmas. His father and Nathalie had always been attending to business around the globe and Adrien was left by himself. Something which wasn’t likely to change this year.

 

The day before he had been sitting with everyone in the lounge, something that had become more common since the midnight feast a month before. The fire was on and had warmed the room nicely and Nino and Alya were lying together on one couch, comfortably intertwined. Adrien was reclining on another and sat on the floor, and leaning back against the couch was Marinette. She was effectively sitting just below him and was unaware of how often Adrien’s eyes flickered downwards. Nino and Alya were not.

 

“I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas”, Marinette said scrolling through Amazon on her phone. “I haven’t bought any gifts yet”. Adrien, who hadn’t bought a gift for anyone in years, had already been doing some serious planning. He had used to buy gifts for the household staff as well as Nathalie and his father. But he had been expressly forbidden from doing so and it didn’t feel like Christmas without giving gifts.

 

But now that he had friends in his life, Adrien had been obsessing over what to get them. Regardless of what he came up with, nothing seemed quite right.

“I know what you mean, I have no idea what to get my mom or my sisters. Or even this guy!” Alya complained, elbowing Nino lightly in his ribs.

“Here’s an idea. How about you don’t get me internal bleeding. That would be awesome”. Adrien laughed as his friends massaged his chest. He fully sympathised. A few weeks ago they had finally exchanged Marinette’s cookies for Adrien’s omelettes and after finishing her share, Alya had punched Adrien in the arm demanding to know why he hadn’t made this earlier. Adrien had been too surprised by how much it actually hurt to counter her argument.

 

“I think I’ve bought most of mine”, Nino continued. “Just one or two left”.

“And what did you get me?” Alya enquired.

“Not gonna say, but if you keep beating me I’ll return it”.

 

Mari and Adrien both laughed and the sound once again dragged his eyes towards her. He had found himself doing this more and more over the last few weeks. Ever since that night in the gardens Adrien had been admiring her more and more.

 

The shade of her hair.

The sincerity in her smile.

The gleam in her eyes.

 

Seeing her happy made him happy.

 

But then there was Ladybug…

 

She intoxicated him. Sometimes when he thought about her, he found it hard to breathe all over again. When he closed his eyes at night, he would occasionally see her dancing. Wings out. Arms raised. As if she would take flight then and there. He was finding Ladybug was in his thoughts as often as Marinette was.

 

“I can’t believe we won’t be here for two weeks. It feels so weird to be leaving home for Christmas”. Adrien’s smile froze upon his face. What? While they all laughed and made plans, he sat there and laughed with them all the while his own heart was breaking. He had been so excited to finally have friends that he didn’t consider the fact that they wouldn’t be here. He refused to take away their happiness; it had been done to him far too many times before.

 

So Adrien had taken to watching the snow from time to time. It granted him some happiness and peace, helped him ignore the prospect of another Christmas alone. Idly, Adrien picked up his phone and opened his emails. The one from his pen pal had been read many times but he did so again anyway.

 

Adrien,

 

It’s been awhile since I heard from you. Was starting to think you’d forgotten about me 🙂 I’m glad your plan worked out! I always hated the idea of you being in that house all alone. I know you say you’re fine alone but I know you Agreste. You love hanging out with people. And honestly? I’m impressed you’ve started talking to them so quickly. I had guessed a few more months before you would be comfortable enough.

 

But I’m glad I was wrong!

 

And I’m so happy you’re dancing again! I haven’t since the last time we danced together. So long ago! I’m sure you blew them away. Dunno about all this mask business but if it works for you then that’s all that matters. Regarding this Ladybug woman. Are you sure she’s legit? I don’t want to rain on your parade but it could easily be some honeypot trying to get at your money like last time. I was there remember? I know. I’m not saying don’t have fun with her. Just be careful.

 

Marinette on the other hand sounds sweet and she’s cute as hell. Yes of course I searched for her. You two would make a cute couple. Perfect for you. You should ask her out! Take her dancing and blow her mind!

 

But don’t feel bad about liking two people at once. It happens. You can’t control how you feel, only how you act. I’m not going to say treat her right, because whoever you end up with, you’ll treat them like a Queen. You always do.

 

I’m doing pretty well, thank you. Just signed a new contract for a label I cannot mention 😛 but you’ll see the campaign soon. I’m quite excited! The other models are pretty good too. Nothing on you of course 😦 but since I can’t have you I guess I’ll have to settle for these people.

 

Gotta go now, talk to you later!

 

Love, Lila

 

Despite his sadness, there was a small grin on his face. Lila was an old friend from his modelling days and despite a rocky start they had ended up becoming close friends. It was always nice to know she was happy and doing well.

 

Adrien let out a sigh as he stood up from his couch. He had plenty of time to indulge in self-pity later when he was alone for two weeks. Right now however he had gifts to go and buy. Nino and his family were going on holiday for Christmas so he would need to give him his gift before he left. Alya and Mari were staying in Paris so he had a little more time. Adrien dressed and wrapped up warm before heading out into the blizzard.

 

/

 

Marinette had packed just enough to get her through the holiday stay at home. She didn’t want to carry too much back but she also wanted to have a choice of clothes; there wasn’t much left in her wardrobe at her parents. Nino had left a few days earlier and had messaged the other three in their group chat, Not gonna lie guys, Christmas in Hawaii is pretty damn great.

 

Mari had been very happy for Nino and his grandparents. They had always talked about doing this but only recently had been able to afford it. As she stuffed the last of her socks into her duffel and teased the zip closed, her phone sounded with another message from Nino, but this time it was just between them two.

 

Adrien is gonna be alone for Xmas

What are you talking about?

I just saw his dad and Nat are attending some fashion thing in Dubai. He’s home alone on Christmas!

 

Marinette lowered her phone, already thinking back. She had thought there was something off about him lately. He had been so happy when they all started hanging out together as a group but lately he had been a little quieter than normal. When they were all talking or laughing or playing one of his games it was fine. But when he thought no one was looking, there was sorrow and loneliness on his face. She was sure of it but Nino and Alya didn’t see.

 

That’s terrible! Why didn’t he say anything??

You know why. This is Adrien we’re talking about. He didn’t want to bring us down while we talked about our Xmas plans right in front of him!!

 

The feeling in Mari’s stomach got worse. They had all bragged about their family plans never once realising that Adrien had none.

 

We can’t let him be alone!

Why do you think I’m texting you? I’m thousands of miles away and Alya has a full house. You’re it dude.

What do you mean?

You’ve been living in his house for four months. Time to return the favour don’t you think?

 

This time her stomach twisted in an entirely different way which was ridiculous. She had been living in the same house as him for months now. They had hung with the others and by themselves. An unseasonably warm night had Mari wearing shorts and a thin tank, sitting next to Adrien wearing a pair of shorts and a vest, while she beat him at Mecha Strike V. They had been thigh to thigh, skin to skin, and it hadn’t been very distracting.

 

So why was this so different? It wasn’t, she told herself sternly. Marinette picked up her phone again.

 

Mama I need a favour and I need you to convince Papa.

 

 

Half an hour later Mari walked down the hall and knocked on Adrien’s door.

“Come in Marinette”. She stuck her head through the gap in the door and smiled at her friend. He was lying back on his bed, laptop open and textbooks strewn everywhere. ‘Always working so hard’ she thought.

“Aren’t you ready yet?” she asked him sincerely enough to convince him he had forgotten something.

“Ready for what?” he took the bait, brows furrowed in confusion.

“You’re not even packed yet. I expected better from you Adrien”. She was having to fight the smile building.

“Mari..what are you on about?”

“You’re staying with me and my family for two weeks. You need to get packed”. Adrien looked as if he’d been hit over the head.

“But what…what are you talking about?”

“I’m inviting you to spend the holidays with us. You didn’t think I’d let you spend Christmas alone did you?”

 

Sitting pressed up against the warm and muscled body of Adrien Agreste might have been mildly distracting but the look of joy and wonder on his face squeezed her heart tight. Marinette cleared her throat. “You’ve got an hour to pack Adrien”, she notified him. “Hurry up”.

 

As she closed the door, Mari heard him jump off the bed and run towards his cupboards.

 

Marinette watched his expression change as they got closer to her home. At first he had been ecstatic. Smiling so wide she couldn’t help but laugh at his happiness. But as they neared he became more and more nervous until Mari reached over and gripped his hand tight.

“Relax Adrien, there’s no reason to worry. They’ll love you and they’ll love having you”. Mari knew this to be true but it was little reassurance to Adrien.

 

When they finally reached her home, the door was swung open before they had even reached it as her father came rushing out.

“Marinette!”

“Papa!”

Mari let herself be caught up in her father’s bear hug and returned it just as fiercely. She felt her mother hold her from behind and sighed in contentment. After a few moments they broke apart and she noticed Adrien had drifted a few steps away.

“Mama, Papa, this is Adrien Agreste. Adrien these are my parents, Tom Dupain and Sabine Cheng”.

 

Adrien reached forwards with polite hand. “Monsieur Dupain, Madame Cheng. It’s nice to meet you”.

Tom strode forwards and fully embraced a very shocked Adrien, ignoring his outstretched hand completely. Marinette couldn’t help but giggle at the look on her friend’s face.

“We heard how you helped our daughter Adrien. Please call us Tom and Sabine and know that you are welcome here any time. Come on in son, it’s very cold”. As they all walked in, Mari heard her mother greet Adrien with much the same sincerity as her father but less exuberance.

 

The house was warm and smelled deliciously of gingerbread, cinnamon and chocolate. Marinette breathed deeply and felt Adrien do the same. She shared a grin and relaxed. She was home.

“You kids go and leave your stuff upstairs. Mari you’re in your room and Adrien you’re in the one

below it. Then come back down and we can relax”.

 

Marinette led Adrien up the stairs and to his room. “This is where you’ll be staying, and I’ll be up those stairs in my old room”.

“What about your parents?” he asked looking around the first floor.

“Their bedroom is downstairs behind the kitchens and I got the attic room with the balcony”. Adrien smiled at her.

“Sounds nice. I’m just gonna change my clothes and I’ll meet you back downstairs?”

“Sure”.

 

Fifteen minutes later, both Adrien and Marinette had changed and were sitting with her parents drinking and eating various things that were laid out on the coffee table. Marinette was curled up on a chair opposite Adrien while her parents were together on the sofa. And in the middle of them all was the food they kept picking at. It made her happy watching Adrien chatting amicably with her parents, a relaxed smile on his face. Seeing him so happy in her home made something inside of her both clench and relax.

 

The four of them spent the rest of the day together. They talked, watched a few Christmas films and ate dinner as a family. After Tom and Sabine had gone to sleep, Mari and Adrien were sitting side by side watching a movie. He gently nudged her with his shoulder.

“Mari?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for doing this for me”. Marinette smiled at him and laid her head on his shoulder.

“You’re welcome Adrien”.

 

/

 

Adrien spent the two most pleasant weeks of his life with the Dupain-Cheng family; every day was wonderful. He would help them in the kitchen or around the house. He would often go shopping with Mari or Sabine for groceries. There were times when they would all end up baking various Christmas themed confectionary to sell. Hours spent in a kitchen full of laughter made his soul sing. It had been so long since he had been part of a family that Adrien had forgotten what it was like.

 

Every night would be spent laughing with Marinette and her parents, and then they would retire so he and Mari would spend a few hours alone together. Watching movies, or playing games or simply talking. It was both like and unlike talking to Nino in a way he couldn’t describe. The way she would look at him when he spoke sometimes made it hard to find the words. And he never stopped trying to make her laugh.

 

Apparently she found him to be very funny.

 

The night he had made her laugh until she cried was one of the highlights of his visit. The other was Christmas day.

 

He had been looking forward to it most of all. Adrien felt he had the perfect gift for Marinette and he had managed to find something for her parents as well. He had gone to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing that the gifts he had bought were under the tree they had all decorated the week before. The morning found them all sitting around a warm fire drinking hot chocolate.

“Adrien!” Mari exclaimed. “You didn’t have to get me anything”.

“Nor us” added Sabine, holding up the package with their names on it.

“I know I didn’t have to but I really like getting people Christmas gifts. You invited me into your house. I don’t think you know how much that meant”.

 

Adrien hadn’t meant to add the last bit but found that he didn’t regret it; they should know how much he appreciated what they had done for him. Sabine and Tom opened their present together and started to laugh as they held their new set of matching scarfs. Black and red. As they were thanking him, Adrien heard Marinette gasp.

 

She had just opened her gift and Adrien was nervously waiting to see what she thought of it. Her hair was wonderfully loose instead of her usual ponytails and with her head down, it hid her expression from view. But when she slowly met his gaze, Adrien was shocked and a little gratified to see tears in her eyes.

“It’s perfect”, she whispered.

“What is it Mari?” her father asked.

 

But Marinette seemed to have lost all ability to talk. She simply stared down at the package in her hands and smiled.

“Adrien, what did you get her?” Sabine sounded amused by her daughter’s reaction.

“Well a few weeks ago, we were all together and Alya said how her mother got a charm bracelet when she was younger and every time something big happened in her life she’d get a charm for it. And Mari’s eyes got really big and she smiled so I figured it would be something she would like”.

 

Adrien was watching Marinette appreciate her gift and didn’t realise that Sabine was assessing him. A second later she smiled and nodded at her husband.

“That is a very thoughtful gift Adrien. I’m assuming you got some charms with it as well?”

“Yeah just a couple. A needle and a bun which are both pretty self-explanatory” Adrien quipped making everyone laugh.

“It’s a very thoughtful gift Adrien” Tom complimented.

“Thank you so much”. Marinette’s voice was still very quiet but the happiness was evident on her face.

 

She had taken out the bracelet and had laid it out in her hands, admiring it. At her mother’s request she, reluctantly, handed it over. Sabine and Tom’s murmurs of admiration made Adrien even happier. It had been a good choice.

 

Sabine leaned over and fastened the bracelet around Marinette’s slim wrist and everyone simply looked at it for a second. It hung there, tinkling so quietly it could barely be heard before Mari pulled her wrist back and cradled it in her other hand.

 

“Well then Adrien, thank you very much for your gifts”, Tom said with a smile. “Now it is time for you to open yours”. Despite intellectually knowing that they would get him a Christmas present, Adrien was still shocked and nervous that anyone had gotten him anything.

 

“Oh I- er you didn’t have to get- I mean I-” Adrien’s verbal stumbling was interrupted by Marinette.

“Adrien don’t for a second think you can get us these amazing gifts and say ‘you didn’t have to get me anything’ with a straight face”. Adrien closed his mouth at her words and just shrugged self-consciously.

“Force of habit”.

 

The two friends smiled at each other before Adrien reached forwards and took the gift Tom was offering. Despite his words, Adrien was excited as he opened the wrapping. It was a soft package and when he finally reached the middle, the fabric was soft on his fingers. Adrien pulled out a black, hand-knitted sweater of the most luxurious material he had ever felt, and that included during his days as a model.

 

Opening it fully, Adrien smiled wide as he saw a green “A” on the front. Not wasting any time, Adrien stood up and pulled it over his head and walked over to see himself in the mirror.

“I love it! Thank you so much!” The entire Dupain-Cheng family laughed at how eagerly he donned his gift and Adrien along with them. For the first time in a long while, he was enjoying Christmas.

“I’m glad” said Sabine. “We thought the dark colour would suit your complexion”.

 

He sat back down, fingers playing with his new sweater as Marinette handed him her gift to him.

“Shall we skip the protestations this time?” Mari grinned as she teased him.

“But that’s tradition” Adrien mock argued.

“We’ll make a new one. Open it”.

 

Adrien once again began unwrapping his present. This one was much firmer than the previous one and he felt excited all over again. The paper fell away and he was left holding a small photo album. Curiously he opened it.

 

The first picture was of the four of them in the kitchen during the food trade. Alya had just bitten into Adrien’s offering and the look on her face had everyone in hysterics. The photo caught the laughter on everyone’s face.

 

The next was of Adrien and Nino playing on his Playstation in his room. The intense concentration on both of their faces made him smile even as he remembered the moment.

 

Another picture was of Marinette and Adrien walking in the gardens at night. Adrien immediately recognised it as the night of the dance contest. The memories of that night came rushing back and he looked up at Marinette who was smiling at him, a faint red upon her cheeks.

“Yeah apparently Alya looked out of her window and thought it was a picturesque moment”.

 

Adrien resumed going through the album. There were pictures of all of them during the last few weeks and months. They were always smiling and laughing or just enjoying themselves. The theme of it was clear. Adrien was with his friends and family. There was a few pictures with Marinette’s parents. Even one of him and Nathalie during her last visit to the house.

 

He remembered the look on her face when she had walked in on them all hanging out in the lounge. They had been debating the latest Marvel film which had led to Marvel vs DC then Avengers vs Justice League. She had come in and talked to them all for a bit. And when Adrien had made a joke, Nathalie had laughed more out of shock than humour. And the picture had been taken at that exact moment. A pleasant smile on Nathalie’s face as she looked down at a grinning Adrien.

 

Adrien was on the verge of crying. Never before had anything hit him so hard. He couldn’t even be sure of talking without breaking down. Marinette had moved to stand over him as he had looked through the gift. Adrien put the album aside almost reverently, stood up and enveloped Marinette in a hug. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight to him, head buried in her neck. Mari’s arms immediately came up and around him and they stood there. Squeezing each other as tight as they could.

 

Eventually, when Adrien felt more in control, he pulled back slightly and looked down at Marinette’s face. There seemed to be tears in her eyes as well but her smile was the brightest he had ever seen.

“Thank you Marinette. Thank you so much”.

“My pleasure Adrien”.

 

A few moments later they broke apart and sat back down still smiling at each other. Adrien had almost forgotten that Tom and Sabine were there, and there was a look on Sabine’s face that he didn’t understand.

“I’m glad you like your gift Adrien”, she smiled at him. “I thought it was a wonderful idea when Mari told us”.

“A really nice gift”, her husband agreed.

 

The day passed in peace and quiet, with them all enjoying each other’s company. They all flipped through the photo album and Marinette and Adrien told the stories behind the images, which in some cases proved hard to do. Everything had seemed to make sense at the time. They sat down to a wonderful dinner they had all helped make and Adrien enjoyed the best Christmas Day he’d had in years.

 

/

 

As Marinette sat on the sofa with Adrien, she decided that this Christmas had been one of her all time favourites. The TV was on but she wasn’t paying much attention to it. Her thoughts were on the man next to her. She had known for a while that she liked Adrien in ways that were…more than friendly. But she didn’t worry or think about it too much. At least she hadn’t before he had hugged her. The way he took her in his arms and held her tight. There had been such raw honesty in his actions that it had taken her breath away. She had clung to him in that moment because she had felt so close to him, it had made her burn.

 

Even now, hours later, Marinette felt herself warming at the memory of that moment. She pushed herself slightly closer to Adrien and smiled when he relaxed against her.

“I’m glad you were here with us today Adrien”. He turned to face her, still wearing his sweater.

“Me too Mari”. His voice was quiet but she was close enough to hear every word.

“It was like you’re part of the family. It was nice”. Once again Marinette rested her head on his shoulder. They stayed like that for a while before they heard a noise behind them.

 

“Sorry to disturb you two”, Sabine said. “Just came for a glass of water and I’ll be gone”.

“You can always join us Mama”.

“No it’s ok, you two relax. But you should be aware of what you’re sitting under. Goodnight”. Her mother was gone before Mari could ask her what she meant but she looked up and felt her mouth go dry.

 

Mistletoe!!

 

Marinette knew for a fact that hadn’t been there this morning. A sideways glance told her Adrien had also seen it and from the light of the TV she could see his blush grow. Now Marinette was slightly panicking. What should she do next? She had two options basically she could ign-

 

“I’ve always liked this little Christmas tradition”. Marinette looked round and saw Adrien, still red but now smiling upwards at the bundle of leaves. He brought his gaze down to meet hers and his grin inspired one of her own.

“It is kind of sweet when you think about it”.

“A Christmas kiss”.

 

Both of them simply looked at each other for a moment before looking away again laughing bashfully. Adrien ran his fingers through his hair, accidentally messing it up a little more than usual. It looks good like that, Marinette thought.

 

Her heart was beating faster as she shuffled closer to him, the distance between them too great for what she hoped would happen. Adrien moved closer as well, his eyes darting from her lips to her eyes and away before repeating the cycle. Instinctively she looked at his own and they seemed delightfully soft.

 

Closer still, until their legs were pressed against each other. Both had changed into their pyjamas and the thin material did nothing to hide the warmth of his body. Once again she remembered when they had been sitting on the sofa. Marinette hadn’t felt as nervous then as she did now. They twisted until they were facing each other, Marinette looking upwards at Adrien’s face.

 

Beautiful

 

An errant thought but he was. He was the most attractive person she had ever seen, both physically and otherwise.

 

He swallowed and began to lean forwards. Adrien moved towards her in a stop-start motion that made her wonder if this was his first time. Marinette felt his hand come up to the side of her face just as his eyelids fluttered and closed. A half second later, Marinette closed her eyes as well.

 

At first there was nothing. Then there was the brush of his nose against hers a moment before his lips brushed her own. For a second neither moved and it was not a kiss so much as touching lips. Then there was the slightest of pressure as he actually began kissing her and Marinette smiled as she kissed him back. The encouragement spurred him on and both hands cupped her face as he kissed her harder.

 

Marinette didn’t know when her heart had started racing but it was thundering in her chest. She was gasping for breath, drowning in the sensation of him. At that point she remembered the passion she had seen in him as he played his violin, and wondered if she had bitten off more than she could chew. Marinette fervently hoped so. It grew deeper, more intense. She had wrapped her arms around his neck and had dug her fingers into his hair. His hands had dropped from her face to her back, eagerly pulling her closer to him.

 

It wasn’t until Marinette had begun to get dizzy that she pulled away, gasping and dragging air into her lungs while Adrien did the same. She turned away from him, as the look in his eyes made her shiver despite being very warm. Both avoided saying anything while they caught their breath but neither moved away from each other. Adrien still had one hand at Mari’s back but neither realised it.

 

“That was…” Mari started but did not know how to finish.

“Enjoyable?” Adrien offered.

“Very, very enjoyable”. Mari glimpsed his grin out of the corner of his eye and tried not to roll her eyes. Men, she thought. But the crimson cheeks and the look in his eyes resulted in her smirking as well.

 

Not to mention the way he kept licking his lips. The realisation that he was tasting her made her want to taste him in return.

“Marinette?”

“Adrien?”

“We’re still under the mistletoe”.

 

Her small smile grew as Mari turned and met his lips with hers.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: And there we go! After five chapters you have your first kiss! I hope it was everything you’ve been waiting for. Adrien and Marinette were certainly satisfied with it. Thanks for reading this far. You and I are officially half way there! Just a whole other half to go. If you have any thoughts I’d love to read them! – @obdobuk

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