Dusk was approaching, faster and cooler than it had even the day before. A wind had picked up, a cooler temperature dragged from the north drifting down through Paris as if bringing the English holiday to France through the air as it had all those years ago in traditions. Despite the chill, there was a flurry of excitement in the air. Groups of people, young and old, bustled about, smiling. Adrien couldn’t contain his own excitement, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he and Nino walked from his house to the Dupain-Cheng bakery.
He had never seen so many people wearing black eye masks and “Chat” ears.
While France hadn’t been prone to celebrate the commercialized holiday in general, Hallowe'en had become more popular in its own right since the arrival of the superhero set three years before. Everyone was looking for any excuse to dress up as Ladybug or Chat Noir. Hallowe'en provided a way for those of all ages to take part in the cosplay.
“Dude,” Nino shot out, smacking his friend lightly in the arm. Adrien turned to Nino briefly, a smile still stuck on his face. “What are you so darn giddy about?”
“Giddy?” Adrien scoffed. “Really?”
Nino ignored the jab at word choice.
“Are you that excited about going out for Hallowe'en for the first time, or is it the fact that you get to go out for Hallowe'en for the first time with Marinette?”
Adrien was nearly a grown man. He should not be blushing.
“Both?” Adrien replied sheepishly after a moment of thought, a smile still on his face.
“Bro,” Nino shook his head while pulling out his phone, “you two need to hook up. I don’t know how much more of…” – Nino gestured the hand currently not attached to his phone to all of Adrien – “this I can handle.”
Adrien punched him in the arm.
“Uh, ow!?” Nino punched him back as Adrien laughed. Nino rubbed his own arm as if trying to get the sting to go away, the turtle-shell charm on his wrist bouncing slightly as he did so. Everything darkened around them as they walked into the shadow of a tall building. They had arrived at the Dupain-Cheng’s.
They had arrived at Ladybug’s house.
Adrien tried really, really hard not to drag a hand through his hair. Again. Instead he paced slightly as Nino fiddled with the door to the apartment section of the complex, trying to turn and push the old knob. Unfortunately for the boys, tonight they would be bypassing the oh-so-enticing scents and sights of the main bakery in the attempt for haste. Hopefully their forbearance would be rewarded later on. First things first, though: the ladies.
Both boys were silent as they climbed the stairs to the door of the main house, each lost in their own rushing of mental preparedness. Nino adjusted his hat and headphones. Adrien succumbed to subconscious desires and ran both hands through his hair.
With only a glance at each other, the ghost smiles on their nervous faces (three years and still like this? Really?), Nino raised a hand to knock on the door. At the first knock the door moved.
That’s when they noticed the door was already ajar.
The boys looked at each other again, nervous for only a minute before Nino rolled his eyes, shaking his head. This is a prank, was Nino’s unspoken message. While Nino looked annoyed, Adrien buzzed in excitement. The closest thing he had ever had to being scared like this was watching movies. He was thrilled to experience the real thing.
“Mari?” Adrien called into the door before starting to open it slightly. “Alya?” When no one answered (cliché), Adrien pushed the door open more, the hinges creaking as if set up to do so.
The house was dark, the last lights of day flickering out behind the shaded windows.
“Nah, man,” Nino said as he shut the door. “This bro ain’t playin’ this game.” He turned around and hit the light switch.
Nothing happened. He tried again, and again, hitting the few switches that rested on the edge of the door, but still nothing. They looked at each other before really turning and looking around at the house.
There was no power anywhere, no lights on, no clock on the microwave, no sound anywhere. And even in the dark, it looked like things were a little…disheveled. Dinner seemed abandoned, plates and silverware abandoned haphazardly a glass slowly dripping its contents into a large puddle of milk on the ground. A chair laid upended. The couch was askew. A curtain seemed to be ripped on one corner. A sick feeling entered Adrien’s stomach, and when he looked to Nino, he could tell his friend felt the same way.
They jumped slightly when they heard giggling. Nino shook his head again, an exasperated look in his eyes. Adrien’s grin tried to resurface.
The two guys edged slowly farther into the house. Another step in and they saw the flickering of light. It seemed like someone was upstairs, and, by the look of the light, were using candles to illuminate the dark space. Sighs escaped the two despite themselves and they made their way up the first few stairs.
“Hey, guys!” a shrill voice sounded behind them.
Both guys grabbed onto each other, gasping, collapsing slightly on the stairs. Adrien immediately started laughing when he saw it was Marinette. Nino shoved Adrien off of him, a “Why is this my life?” expression on his face.
Though her body was angled toward them, Marinette was looking to the side, at the front door. She did not even attempt eye-contact, though she was clearly speaking to them. The candle in her hand caused shadows to dance across every recess etched on her face. Her dark hair appeared inky black in the low light, matching the black shirt she had put on.
“Hey, Marinette!” Adrien said lightly, smiling at the sight of her. He was glad for the low light. It gave him a chance to blush as much as he wanted without anyone really noticing.
“Hi…Adrien!” Marinette said almost robotically, the eye they could see unnaturally wide and unblinking. “Hello…Nino!” She stared to the side still, her overly-huge grin seeming more and more fake by the minute. She didn’t move beyond talking, and something about it felt…off.
“Hey…Mari?” Nino answered questioningly. “Uh, yeah, so, where’s Alya?”
“Who?” Marinette said, the cheery voice starting to cause an eerie feeling inside of Adrien. He felt his insides squirm again, the smile on his face starting to slip.
“Alya,” Nino repeated. “C'mon, let’s not play games right now, Marinette.”
“Oh, right!” Marinette’s laugh was somewhere between a girly giggle and a phantom’s cackle. “Alya…she’s, well, indisposed.”
Nino rolled his eyes. Adrien looked shocked.
“Oh no! Is she alright?”
“Oh, she’s much better now…” Marinette drawled out slowly. She still hadn’t really made eye contact with them. Adrien reached out a hand tentatively to her arm. When he touched her arm, Marinette flicked the eye they could see suddenly to his own eyes. “I’m afraid, though, she won’t be joining us…” She started to turn her head slowly. “But you’ll be joining her soon.”
The flickering light reflected off every feature on her face as she turned…off her skeletal face. The more she turned, the farther Adrien pulled away from her.
The entire other side of her face was a skull.
On the other half of her pink lips were wide white teeth, stretching into a sneering grin. Her eye was gone, nothing but an empty black hole where a bright sapphire should be shining. Instead of plump round cheeks, there was nothing but white bone, making her face looked stretched, skewed.
“I’m so glad you’re here!” she said happily.
Then she blew out the light.
There were yells – screams? Was that them? - and scuffling as the boys scurried as fast as they could to the trap door. As soon as they turned though, they were face to face with a nightmarish scene. Adrien gasped at the white face also adorned with empty sockets, a candle floating beneath the wide, toothy grin.
The skeletal face screeched.
The boys truly did scream this time, and Adrien wasn’t sure if he approved of his dad’s decision to finally let him out of the house on this darned, cursed holiday. Suddenly limb over limb with Nino, he felt his own jarred form tumble over his friend’s. He tried to find purchase with his hand on the staircase as they fell, but Nino’s scrambling prevented success at every attempt. By the time they reached the bottom, Adrien could only lie there, sore, as Nino scrambled over his half-dead form, a foot coming directly into his stomach.
By the time Nino reached the door, the lights had flicked on.
And suddenly the room was filled to the brim with side-splitting laughter. But definitely not from Adrien or Nino.
From above him, an only slightly frightening face floated into view. Adrien blinked into the smiling face of Marinette. Half of her face was normal and the other half was skeletal…painted. The other half of her face was painted. As a skeleton. Adrien smirked to himself, closing his eyes tight in embarrassment before draping an arm over his eyes.
“THAT WAS NOT FUNNY!” Nino yelled from the door.
A thundering of footsteps and loud laughter told him the skeletal face that must have been Alya had come barreling down the stairs to see to her boyfriend.
“You’re right, Nino!” Alya nearly yelled through her gasping guffaws. “It was hilarious! HAHA your face! Oh gall, I will never forget –”
The two by the door started to banter playfully (more huffily on Nino’s end) back and forth, voices getting lower by the second. Adrien chanced a peek beneath his arm shield. When he saw Marinette still bent over his form, hands on her knees, grin on her face, he covered his eyes again. A sudden heat burned his cheeks, and he was quite sure it was not entirely the fault of the embarrassing scare.
“Nice artwork, Mari,” he spoke after clearing his throat. When there wasn’t an answer, he pushed his arm up again to peek at her.
“Glad you enjoyed it,” she returned playfully before winking her painted eye, remaking the empty-socket look. Adrien suppressed a groan before covering his face yet again. While he was quite resigned to lay there forever and become a permanent fixture on Marinette’s floor, she seemed to have other plans. He yelped when a set of tiny but ridiculously strong hands latched onto his arm and pulled him up. “Come on, lazy bones.”
Adrien tripped slightly as he came up, the force of her pull causing a bit too much momentum for the small space she had allowed between them. They would have been chest to chest except for Marinette still holding onto his arm.
“C'mon you two!” Alya called, somehow appearing at the trap door despite Adrien not even noticing her passing. “Quit making googly-eyes at each other! We got faces to paint and haunting to do!”
Marinette only grinned, not bothering to look at Alya, eyes still fixed on Adrien. Then Adrien felt a tug on his arm again as Marinette started to pull him up the stairs.
It wasn’t nearly as strong as the tug on his heartstrings, he noted, and considerably less painful.
(( Thanks for reading! This will be a series, albeit a short one. So the chapters are named from classic scary movies, but the chapters themselves don’t actually have anything to do with the movies. It’s just for fun.
Aaaand I already have the next chapter written out. Let me know what you think! 8) ))
(( OH! I have artwork for this!! It kinda got messed up (permanent marker mayhem), but it’s on my tumblr. Search for “callmeakumatized” or “Maki Makes Magic”. n.n;; ))
(( Posted on FanFiction.net and Ao3. You can follow this story there! Thanks for reading! :) ))