Changeling Fae AU? Changeling Fae AU.
I feel like I start every post with an apology so I won’t do that but I mean to update!! And then I don’t or I can’t write and it all sucks!! But have 3000 words of something brand new instead!!!!
Her parents had been bakers; blessed with a babe after years of believing themselves barren. Sabine had wept to hold her child at last in her arms, and Tom had brought their whole village to celebrate her birth with his wonderful sweets.
Of course, they had named her Marinette. One who rises. They had no intentions of guiding her towards higher connections, the way some thought they might when they glimpsed the child; surely, between her beauty and kind disposition, Tom and Sabine could marry her to some lesser title, and leave their child in comfort for the rest of her life.
But as the child grew older, whispers surrounded her. People wondered about her seemingly small stature, her odd grace paired with her clumsy movements, the way she could inspire and move you with words and then flail and mumble after.
“Fae child,” people started whispering.
Tom and Sabine didn’t let it move them. Their daughter was theirs, oddities and eccentricities and all. For her clumsiness, she could sew and mend with more skill than the tailor two streets over. For her size, she was able to learn the trade of the bakery and helped her parents every morning as a good child should.
And if some mornings, Sabine woke to find the kitchen just cleaner, the bread rising just better, the smells just more aromatic, she had no problem setting out a small bowl of milk, tucked behind counters, for whatever creature was slipping in to check on her daughter and helping them on their way out.
After all, Sabine had been small and awkward and graceful and different once too.
It is on the cusp of Marinette’s twelfth birthday that Tom stumbles down in the morning, ready to start the bread for the day, and finds the being sitting there.
In the dark of the morning, lit only by the fire in their hearth, the woman glows. She has the same short stature as his girl, the same bright blue eyes that she had not gotten from either himself or his wife.
“I owe you a boon, Thomas Dupain,” the Faerie says, sitting on his counter and swinging her legs slightly, oddly child-like. “You and your wife, Sabine Cheng. For raising-“ her voices rises and falls melodically for a moment. It almost sounds like Marinette. It almost sounds like the crackle of the fresh baked bread. It almost sounds like the rustle of cloth as his daughter sews. It almost sounds like she has said ladybug.
Such a small thing, to bring luck and joy.
“You have done so well with her,” the faerie says. “And so compassionate, has she become. The kindness displayed by your wife to my lesser subjects also cannot go unrewarded.”
Tom swallows, then bows his head. “You are here to take her, then?”
The creature regards him. “Call me Tikki, Tom Dupain,” she says. She makes the sound again, this time rushing waters and warm sunshine and Marinette and ladybug, “must join me. I cannot tell you what will happen when she does.”
“My boon,” he says, reckless to the face of this powerful being, in the knowledge that it is his child she is here for. “My boon. You must not let today be the last I see of my girl. The last time I hold her. If only for a day, an hour, a minute- you must return her to me.”
Tikki tilts her head, smile dazzling. “A good man, you certainly are. A good parent, without doubt. I can grant you this boon. And as your reward- nothing will replace your Marinette, of course. But a new pair of hands to help in your bakery. Expect her soon.”
Tom nods; there are more rules then sense about dealing with the Fair Folk and he’s certain he’s already broken some. What else can he say without angering her? What else can he do without causing unintentional offense? “Would you like breakfast?” He says instead of heeding his thoughts.
“No,” she laughs, a tinkling glass bell like the chirping of birds. “I shall return for her at high noon.”
Tom nods, throat tight. He starts the bread and he goes through his morning until daylight starts to peek into the windows, and then he sighs and puts the last loaf in the oven, and he goes to wake his daughter and wife.
Marinette stands in the kitchen, hands clasped tightly, staring into the embers of the fire. She wears her best dress, with the pink trim, and she does not have tears in her eyes as she looks at her parents. Anything to say had been said; anything left over was just going to hurt more. She had a small bag, slung over her shoulder, with paltry things her parents hoped might help.
Tikki sat before her, perched on the counter. The flimsy sheer overlay of her clothing was resting in the flour.
“Marinette,” Tikki says to her, but it’s not just her name. It’s something deeper that echoes in her heart. “I’ve come for you.”
“I thought something might eventually,” she laughs nervously.
Tikki extended a hand. Marinette reached for it, hesitating before the contact.
Tikki smiled gently and took her fingers. “This isn’t a bad thing, Marinette. Just a change.”
Marinette tightened her grip. “I’m ready.” She gave her parents one last look, trying to burn their faces into her mind.
“Then come, Marinette, of the Orders of Creation and Luck. Come and claim your birthright as my heir.”
Marinette did not expect this much walking. “Is it… is it far?”
The town was hours behind them. Marinette’s nicest dress was ragged at the hem, snatched with brambles and in one spot, torn by a branch that had wanted blood. She hefted her small pack higher on her shoulders, waiting for the Fae to break the silence.
“It is less about the distance,” Tikki told her, “and more about the time and your intentions. Anyone could walk this road into these woods and continue happily onto whichever small village next offers a meal- but to walk it in the hours before dusk, with the intent to find home, with myself at your side-“
Tikki stopped. The tree ahead of her was worn and old and stooped, but still vibrant in its flowers and leaves. Tikki traced the whorls along the bark, watching them glow with an internal light.
“We still have hours til dusk,” she said. “Come.”
Marinette rubbed her eyes.
Tikki had been just before her. She knew it, had heard the small footsteps and the cheery whistle and then she had turned a bend and Marinette was alone.
“Tikki?” She called out. “Hello, Tikki?”
The woods were green and ethereal around her, the warm light of evening streaming through the foliage and dying everything alive and almost thrumming with energy. She kept walking forward, waiting for the path to turn against and she’d see the Fae ahead, waiting with a raised brow and a small smile. Marinette broke into a run.
“Tikki??!” She called again. The road ahead of her seemed endless, and it changed as her heart beat faster, until everything had focused into the tunnel of branches and roots she sprinted through. “Tikki!!!”
She came to a rough halt, stumbling over a root as the road diverged. She caught herself on the tree, not quite tumbling.
“So you’re a changeling as well?” The voice was cool, and dismissive, and challenging all at once. Marinette tensed, meeting the eyes of the stranger.
“I know you,” she said instead of any of the instant rebuttals she can think of.
And she does. Leaning up against the tree that marks the split path is the Bourgeois daughter; she’d fixed one of her dresses once, and her parents were often entreated to come and work for them. Marinette had never actually spoken to her though.
“One would hope.” The girl flips her hair, and Marinette takes a second to actually take her in. She isn’t wearing a dress like Marinette, or anything remotely expected. Instead she’s dressed in pants and layered shirts, a cloak over her arms and a pack on her shoulders. “I am Chloé Bourgeois, after all.”
“I’m Marinette,” Marinette offers. “Marinette Dupain-Cheng.”
“Did I ask?”
The girl was getting on Marinette’s nerves. “Did you see anyone else come through this way? I’m looking for-“
“A Fae.” Chloé shrugged. “I know what you’re looking for. It’s part of the whole trial.”
Marinette squared her shoulders. “If you’ve got something to say, say it. I’m trying to find someone.”
Chloé’s expression remained smugly disdainful. “The trial? You have to make your own way into the Other World in order to prove yourself as rightful heir. The Fae that led you here? Their gone. Face it. You’ve been abandoned to die in the woods. At least my Fae told me what was happening before dipping out.”
Her blood felt icy in her veins. “No. They wouldn’t.”
“They’re Fae,” Chloé said coolly. “They lured us out here with promises of being special of whatever and then left us for fun.”
“No.” Marinette closed her eyes, and then turned left. “Tikki said it was about intentions. Well, I don’t intend to die here. Come on.”
She grabbed Chloé’s arm and yanked, pleaded to see the blonde sprawl and lose her composure with a squawk.
“You little peasant, how DARE you! I’ll-“
“You’ll do what, Chloé? Call your Father’s guards?” Marinette laughed. “Come on. I’m not letting either of us die in here.”
Chloé looked around for any other choice and Marinette could see her face fall when none presented themselves. And then she hardened her expression. “I’m certainly not following around a dirty little baker’s daughter. I’m a Bourgois. I’ll find my own way.” She spun and started stomping down the other path.
Marinette eyed the path she’d chosen. It had felt right to turn left. She was sure when she chose it that it was the right way. And Chloé was being rude enough that Marinette would love to consider leaving her.
But she turned to the right. If it was intention, then she would make sure she and Chloé both made it. She had enough intention for anyone and everyone.
“Chloé!” She called, and Chloé actually did stop and wait for her. “I’ll follow you, if you don’t mind.”
“And why would you do that?” Chloé squinted suspiciously even as they started walking. “Well, obviously, because I’m right and everyone should follo-AEEEUgghh,” she squawked as she fell and groaned from the forest floor.
“I figure you’re a decent warning system for problematic roots,” Marinette grinned, holding her hand out.
Chloe grit her teeth and took it.
They walked in silence for a while, Marinette thinking and Chloé seemingly fuming.
“Is that the best dress you could muster for the occasion?” The girl finally spat. “One faerie prances up to your door and you pull out all the stops? I’ve got dresses that would make yours wrinkle with envy.”
“Where did you get those clothes?” Marinette finally voiced what she’d been thinking for a while. “It doesn’t seem like something you’d just have on hand, and they all look pretty ill-fitting-“
Chloé self consciously fixed the collar of her vest. “If you must know,” she sniffed, “my Father thought the Fae was full of shit. So I stole these from the washroom and I figured I’d find out myself.”
“And?” Marinette giggles.
“Yeah, this is pretty shitty still,” Chloé grimaces. “I’m- sorry. Pollen said I had to work on my temper.”
“It’s-“ Marinette stopped. It wasn’t okay, but she didn’t want to alienate the only companion she had. “I can understand, I guess. As long as you’re trying to be better.”
Marinette was getting the feeling now that she should have taken the other path. Not because of Chloé- just- it had felt right. And the longer they walked this one, the wronger it felt.
The trees seemed longer. Sharper.
“So Pollen was the Fae who came to get you?” Marinette asked. “Mine’s name was Tikki.”
“Don’t see how it matters.” Chloé pointed up. “Light’s starting to fade. It’s nearing dusk.”
“Then we need to go,” Marinette said.
Chloé sighed. “I suppose if we must.”
Marinette started walking faster when the light started turning pink. And then when it started losing the vibrant color, she started running, Chloé in her heels. She could almost feel it when the sun set, the last ray burning over the horizon as she stopped.
“That’s it, Dupain-Cheng.” Chloé dusted herself off. “I’ve known it since Pollen took off. We weren’t changelings, we weren’t special- just the next fun human toy to throw out in the woods.”
“You’re wrong,” Marinette spat, whirling around, suddenly furious as she tried desperately to suppress the fear climbing in her throat. “Tikki promised I’d see my father again!”
Chloé gave her a contemptuous look. “More fool you.”
“No!” Marinette stomped up to her. “It’s you, isn’t it! With your bratty attitude and your cynicism. Tikki said it was about intentions and you’ve been doing nothing but try to irritate me since I found you!”
“Oh, since you found me?” Chloé barked out laughter. “You were just as lost as I was! I was better off sitting there than walking even further into the Fae forest!”
“You’d still be sitting there without me!” Marinette shouted. “You’re ready to die just because you’re afraid you aren’t as special as people say you are! Well guess what! You aren’t special!”
“I could be!” Chloé yelled back. “I was going to be a Fae Queen and I was going to rule and then you and Mother and everyone would see it!”
Marinette stopped short of the next ugly thing she was ready to say, watching the tears bead up in Chloé’s eyes. “You don’t need to be special. Pollen didn’t want you because you’re Chloé Bourgeois and your special. Pollen just wanted Chloé Bourgeois.”
Chloé angrily wiped away the moisture. “I’m fucking special, fuck you.”
Marinette looked around again, the dim light starting to cast the shadows grey. And then she saw a tree, weathered like a worn brow upon the forest’s face.
She walked up to it and reached out her hand, watching the way it reacted, lights sparking beneath her fingers, beneath the bark.
“It’s about the intentions,” she murmured. For a moment she looked at Chloé.
“The light isn’t quite gone. You’ve got to try, Chloé.”
Chloé’s lips trembled, as of about to speak, but instead she just nodded, jerking her chin forward. Marinette took the first step, listening to Chloé behind her, concentrating on somewhere she’d never been.
And then there was a corner and she rounded it, and Tikki was there. Marinette rushed forward, throwing herself into the Fae’s arms.
“You made it, Marinette. My Ladybug.” Tikki caressed her cheek. “Welcome home.”
Marinette looked back first. “Where’s Chloé?”
“Subjection’s girl?” Tikki paused. “You’ll have opportunity to see her soon enough, I suppose.”
“Then she made it,” Marinette could feel the tension drain away from her.
“Come,” Tikki said, amused. “And I will show you your world.”
Marinette faced where Tikki gestured and gasped.
They were on some sort of balcony, framed in by the branches of the trees she had just exited. She could see the grounds below rolling out forever, hills and plains and farmlands and forests and small towns. Right below them sprawled a city, and she realized that she was standing on a tower, and looking around her, she saw the scope of the castle.
“This way,” Tikki said, leading her to one side and opening up a vine covered door Marinette hadn’t realized was there until that moment. “The castle is, of course, yours. You must feel free to roam as you wish. Those who work here will serve you as they do me.”
“Huh?” Marinette felt dazed. The hallway progressed into a larger hall, into a larger one, until they stopped at a door.
“Your room, of course,” Tikki said, pushing the doors open. “You should find everything you might need here. In the morning, I shall have you escorted to breakfast, and then you will join me in my study. For now, I will send up food and drink. Rest well, dear one.”
Marinette took a step in and had to resist the urge to faint.
The room was spacious, with small corners carved out for what looked to be a study and a small sitting area. The bed dominated the room, with two doors leading out from either side.
She turned to Tikki, to protest, and found the Fae already gone.
She sat on the bed, finding it plusher than the bed at home, which had lumps, but she knew the lumps and she could sleep around them. She laid down, sinking in and trying not to cry at the sudden overwhelming wave of homesickness and exhaustion. The day had seemed so long, how could she have said goodbye that morning? How could she have been with Chloé, not half an hour ago?
Eventually she wiped away the tears that had sprung up and moved towards the sitting area. She imagined it to be for sharing secrets with the kind of close friends one might invite into your room, but she had never truly had anyone who didn’t whisper about her behind her back other than her parents. The chairs were soft too, in the plush way she was now coming to associate with this life.
The study held more interest. The bookshelf was already full and she let herself browse titles for a moment. The Miraculous and Children of the Miraculous caught her eye, as well as one that seemed untitled, but when she pulled it out she found a hand written journal in a language she didn’t know.
The desk was grand, but the drawers held other treasures. A set of needles, each finer alone than her parents could buy in a year. A small selection of fabrics. She clutched them to her chest and let out a muffled dry sob before composing herself.
The first door led to a bathroom and she gave it a perfunctory look over, sure that it would matter much more to her later. The final was a closet, and -
“Highness?” A small voice asked. Marinette’s eyes opened to see very wide hazel eyes, just in front of her.
She had fainted upon seeing the open closet, filled with clothing she could only ever have dreamed of.
The servant was a small girl, with mousy blonde hair and the widest eyes Marinette had ever seen. She was also carrying a covered platter which Marinette assumes would be her dinner.
“Let me take that,” she offered, hands reaching, but the girl stepped back.
“No, Highness,” the girl said, taken aback. “Simply direct me-“
Marinette blushed. “If you would set it on the desk then?”
The girl did so, and then curtsied. She held her pose, as Marinette watched, long enough that Marinette realized she was waiting for Marinette to dismiss her.
“Oh! Sorry, yes, thank you.”
The girl spun and walked briskly out, and Marinette groaned. That was a bungled first impression if there ever was one. The smell of the food beckoned and she gave the closet one last longing glance before lifting the lid.
Steaming rich stew, with warm bread and butter and honey. A glass of milk. Marinette sat down and ate it without thought, trying to settle her mind.
She went back to the closet when she’d finished. It would make sense to know her own wardrobe.
She proceeded to spend the next two hours attempting to try on dresses. It was rather difficult as several were clearly designed to be put on her by a second pair of hands but she managed.
In the end she found a soft linen shift on the bed and put that on, before crawling into the bed and closing her eyes. Sleep fell upon her immediately.
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