Chat Noir is not the first one to discover Ladybug’s identity.
Nor is it Alya, her best friend, or her parents, one floor below, or even Chloe, her worst fan. No, Ladybug is a secret that Marinette keeps tucked close to her chest. The thing is, she can’t keep Ladybug out of her shoulders.
Which is why Nathanael is the first to suspect anything.
He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t spent years watching Marinette. They’re placed in the same class in their cinquieme year, and it’s when Marinette - smelling of cinnamon - leans over his desk and exclaims how beautiful one of his sketches is that Nathanael feels his heart pulse in a different way. It’s fluttery, and kind of warm deep in his chest, and he puts his pencil to paper in a way he’s never done before. One day, he’d have to thank her.
That warmth only grows, and they find themselves in the same class the following two years, too. Nathanael doesn’t start drawing her until the end of quatrieme, and spends the entire summer sketching the lines of her face and the pitch of her smile over and over and over. So the difference is stark, the first day of troisieme, when Marinette walks into the classroom.
And it’s not just the obvious things. Sure, she puts in hair in pigtails now instead of last year’s bun (he’d liked the bun, but now pigtails gave him a new style to practice penning), and she’s invested in pink and has maybe grown a little taller. Even if Nathanael hadn’t honed his artist’s eye on her last school year, he would have known all of these things just from listening to Alya shout it out over the hum of the newly reunited class (as if the two best friends hadn’t seen each other over the summer). No, it’s the little, glaring things that no one else seems to be picking up on: the straightness of her spine, the way her shoulders square up when she’s called on by the teacher, the slow, intentional tracking of her eyes around the classroom. The occasional hardness to those same, aquamarine eyes when Chloe starts with her usual ways.
Marinette and Chloe have a history - anyone who has been at Francois-DuPont long enough knows that. But this year things turn particularly vicious, because when Marinette fights back, she fights back. And Nathanael keeps seeing it, keeps having to revise and rework his image of her, because Marinette has changed. It’s like he’s drawing someone new - someone stronger, more lovelier, more impossible not to fall for.
It doesn’t make sense, though, until he is turned into Le Dessinateur.
Nathanael doesn’t remember much, and he tells himself he’s thankful for it. What he does remember comes out only at home, on a wide canvas he’s painted and repainted, over and over and over, in blues and blacks and bruised purples. But that’s besides the point.
Nathanael does remember Ladybug. Not like he’d forget her, of course - her face was everywhere, all of the time. The Hero of Paris. But Ladybug becomes more than just the hero of Paris; she becomes his hero, through and through. More than that, Ladybug becomes his inspiration.
He can’t stop drawing her. It helps that she seems to circle within his sphere on an almost daily basis. It’s her face he sees when he’s broken out of the pink goop of Mylene’s horrific akuma; it’s Ladybug that stands out in Reflekta’s crowd. Where there once was Marinette, there is now pages and pages of Ladybug.
It only takes a few weeks - two, maybe three - to see that they’re one in the same. He’s staring at the back of Marinette’s head in Mme. Mendeleiev’s, and his fingers naturally gravitate towards his pen, even though he knows the risks. It’s a simple figure study, harmless, and he hasn’t drawn Marinette in a while (his feelings aren’t tempered so much as split), but when he looks down and really, really looks, Nathanael realizes that he’s drawn Ladybug instead.
No, no, that’s Marinette at the tip of his pencil. But she has Ladybug’s shoulders, and the curve of her neck. But it’s Marinette’s jacket and the angle of her chin, and her hair, pulled into two pigtails.
It can’t be.
He flips between the pages of his notebook, but now he can’t unsee it. The only sign that he’s looking at Marinette or Ladyug is the mask.
The rest of the class period is frantic pulling out of pages, glancing up at Marinette, and layering sketches over one another. Nathanael’s so occupied in the venture that he almost misses the dismissal bell. He looks up to see Marinette walking out, and then looks back down at a high-action sketch of Ladybug. They have the same butt.
The rest of Nathanael blends in with his hair, and he slumps back in his chair, unable to even stand. They have the same butt. He should know: he’s an artist, and he spends a lot of time looking at it.
By the end of the day, it makes sense, though he isn’t able to look at Marinette without overheating to the point of sublimation. That caring, devoted, strong-willed Marinette would be the same as the red clad savior of the city doesn’t seem so strange to Nathanael. He has, after all, been saved by them both.
Eu não me afasto porque quero ficar longe de ti, eu me afasto para que você sinta a minha falta, assim como eu sinto a sua. Eu não sei se isso é esperar demais de alguém como você, mas é que, quando a gente gosta, a gente espera até o que não deveria.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY (again?? it was yesterday in japan lololol)
This started because I saw this post and had a crazy urge to draw Shevillustrator, but then I wanted to draw an AU (Spy!AU?) where Mari and Adrien are like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but their codenames are Ladybug and Chat Noir (hnnnnnnnnnnng if this exists SOMEONE SHOW ME CUZ I NEED IT) but then I was like awwww I want to draw Adrien kisses so… *SHRUG*
THINGS HAPPENED TONIGHT. NONE OF THOSE THINGS WAS SLEEP. And now it’s 4am and I have school in 2 hours whyyyyyy brainnnnnnnnnnn *sobs*