Marinette couldn't believe it; she would be turning sixteen soon. A lot has happened within the past year. Meeting Tikki and becoming the hero of Paris, Ladybug. Gaining a fantastic, albeit annoying, partner in Chat Noir. Meeting Adrien and forming the biggest crush on him but having a hard time speaking to him. It did get better though; through her best friend Alya's encouragement and a few partner assignments, they have a more comfortable friendship but she still was afraid to tell him her true feelings. Well, that will come when she's ready. Right now, she's trying to decide whether or not she wanted a party. She went to Chloe's Sweet 16 amazingly; her father must have convinced her to invite everyone in her class including the ones she didn't like and Marinette was definitely one of them. She could never afford to give Chloe a gift she would be used to, so she designed a beautiful dress for the party and it was opulent and bold and fit Chloe to a T. And while Chloe would never admit it, she loved it and wore it for her party. Marinette hoped to be able to dance with Adrien at the party but Chloe stuck to him like glue and made a fuss that it would be her best birthday if he spent it with her and being the polite gentlemen he was, he did. Marinette got to talk to him for a bit when he snuck away to get a breather from Chloe's clingy grasp. He told her he liked Marinette's dress and asked if she made it. She didn't; she just got a simple dress to wear so she wouldn't outshine the birthday girl. So for her birthday, she would design a dress for herself, they way she wanted party or not. Marinette as Ladybug was at the Eiffel Tower admiring the view of the city to clear her mind and make a decision. She was so lost in thought that she didn't notice Chat Noir saunter his way to her.
"Hello my lady. What's going on in that pretty little head of yours?"
"Oh, hi kitty. Just thinking."
"Oh, about me," he smirked.
"You wish," she said with an eye roll. "My birthday is coming up and I have to decide if I want a party."
"Really?! When is it?! I'm so gonna get you a present!"
"Whoa there kitty. We agreed to not share personal things."
"You know I'm not gonna stop until you tell me! When is your birthday?"
Ladybug sighed; Chat was relentless with this kind of stuff. She could lie, but that's not who she was.
"It's next Saturday," she said quietly.
"Ok, how old? If you don't mind me asking," asked Chat sheepishly.
"My Sweet 16."
"Really?! That means we're close to the same age!"
"I'm turning 17 soon myself. Feel free to get me gift; a kiss from you would be the best one!"
"Let's not be too hasty here!"
"Ok, sorry my Lady. I'm just so happy at the thought of getting you a birthday present!"
"So, are you going to have a party?"
"No. I'm not big on all the fuss that comes with it. How about I meet you here next Saturday after patrol."
"Purr-fect! I'll have the most amazing birthday gift for you!"
"Ok, kitty cat. I got to head back. See you later!"
Ladybug swung away leaving Chat Noir to think of what he would get his lady. When Ladybug got to her balcony and transformed back into Marinette, she immediately began working on her birthday dress. She was so wrapped up in her work that she didn't hear her mother calling. It wasn't until the hatch opened that Marinette snapped to attention.
"Hi sweetie! Working on your dress?"
"Hi momma, and yes I am sorry for not answering before."
"It's alright. Have you decided on if you want a party for your birthday?"
"I think I would like just a quiet night with you and dad."
"You sure? What about hanging out with your friends," questioned Sabine.
"Alya told me she has to babysit her sisters. Besides, I'm just not big on the kind of attention you know."
"I understand. Well, dinner will be ready soon. It's your favorite, five spice beef stew."
"Sounds great momma."
Sabine went back down the stairs and closed the hatch. She quickly picked up the house phone to make a phone call.
"Hello, yes I asked her. She said no. You sure we should still do this?"
"Of course I'm sure! This surprise party will be epic. My girl deserves it," said Alya on the other line. "Just leave everything to me, Mrs. Cheng."
Sabine hung up with her daughter's best friend and went back down to the bakery to tell Tom to make Marinette's cake.
"Tom dear, have you started on Marinette's cake?"
"Yes dear. I have the ingredients for the cake mixed. Do you have the design?"
"What do we tell Marinette?"
"It's for a birthday. We just don't say it's her's."
"What did she say when you asked?"
"She said she wanted a quiet night with us."
"Well, I think she deserves to be treated special."
"That's what Alya said. I hope she likes it though."
Back in Marinette's room; she was busy cutting material when Tikki flew up.
"Why don't you really want a party?"
"As fun as it would be to hang out with my friends; I'm more worried about embarrassing myself in front of Adrien. It would be the worst birthday ever!"
"So you're hinging everything on one outcome that may or may not happen?"
"I don't want to risk it. And it is true; I'm not a big fan of the attention."
"But you deserve a special day! Isn't that what birthdays are for?"
"Yeah, but not for me. I'll let Ladybug have all that."
The next day at school, Alya was going over the plan with the others.
"Alright everyone, Marinette's Sweet 16 Surprise Party is on! Nino, you supply the tunes."
"Dude, I got your back!"
"Rose, Alix and Juleka will get the decorations."
"Got it," cried the girls.
"Kim, Max, Ivan and Nathaneal; you will help with the setup in the ballroom. Max, this is the layout. I trust you will follow my instructions."
"I will follow these instructions to the letter," promised Max taking the paper.
"I still can't believe you got Chloe to pay for the rental of the ballroom," said Nino.
"I convinced her it was the least she could do after her gift from Marinette at her Sweet 16. Now, Marinette's parents are going to supply the cake."
"I can at least help with the food. I know lots of catering places," said Adrien.
"You know, that's not a bad idea. Can you find a good one for us then," asked Alya.
"You got it!"
"Now, the only thing left to do is have someone keep Marinette occupied on that day and make sure she shows up," wondered Alya.
"Aren't you going to," asked Alix.
"I need to make sure I get the cake and Marinette's birthday dress to the venue. Plus make sure everything looks perfect!"
"Well, from what I see it looks like it will be pretty," commented Rose.
"So who's going to be with Marinette," asked Adrien.
"That my friend, is you," Alya smirked at Adrien.
"Please? All you have to do is hang out with her until we are ready! Just keep her busy and I will let you know when to bring her."
"But, what am I supposed to do," cried Adrien.
"I don't know, figure it out!" Alya looked to see Marinette in the distance. "Marinette's here! Scatter!"
They all quickly ran away except for Alya and Adrien and Nino.
"Hey guys," Marinette called as she approached the group.
"I saw you all huddled together; what's going on?"
"Nothing," they yelped together with nervous expressions.
Marinette raised an eyebrow at the trio. Yeah, that doesn't look suspicious at all. The bell rang signaling them to get to class. Marinette couldn't quite shake the feeling they were hiding something but she wasn't sure what. Adrien on the other hand had an even bigger problem. How was he supposed to keep Marinette busy when he needed to visit Ladybug to give her her birthday present. It did seem strange that hers and Marinette's birthday were the same day, but lots of people share birthdays so it's no big deal. He also had to get a gift for them; what do you get the girl who saves the city of Paris all the time? And what would Marinette like? He'd have to ask Alya for tips even though he has a good idea of what she likes. She's a great fashion designer and talented seamstress. She's always sketching in her notebook but he had to wonder what she does when it gets full. Does she have a stash of fresh sketchbooks lying around? Maybe some extra wouldn't hurt and pencils; lots and lots of pencils. Maybe some colored ones, too. Yeah, Marinette was easy to get, but his lady; that's a whole other story. Her's had to be extra special. To show how much she meant to him and to the city. Something to knock her socks off. He wasn't sure what it was but he'd know when he'd find it. But that still doesn't solve the problem of keeping Marinette busy and seeing his lady. This was the one time he wished he had a Copycat. Maybe, he could do it early? Get her gift first and arrange to meet before Saturday? Yeah, that might work but would it work for her? He'd need to find the gift first. Now, what to do to keep Marinette occupied? Before he could dwell on it more, the dismissal bell rang. Marinette tried to talk to Alya a little more about her secret group meeting but Alya wasn't talking. Not even a word from Nino and Adrien, either. Throughout the week, Marinette noticed a lot of her other classmates whispering to each other and to Alya; like she was the one with the answers. She was going crazy trying to figure out what they were up to but just couldn't. The night before her birthday, she was in her room working on her dress when Tikki let her know that Chat Noir was calling. She climbed to her balcony, transformed and answered.
"Hello, kitty. What's up?"
"Are you free right now? I have a special surprise for you."
"I suppose I could spare a minuet. Usual spot?"
"Of course. I await your arrival, my Lady."
Ladybug swung her way to the Eiffel Tower to see Chat Noir sitting perched, waiting for her.
"Chat," she called when she landed. She approached him and he began standing up with something behind his back.
"My Lady," he bowed. "Happy Birthday," he said standing straight presenting a red and black spotted box.
"Silly cat, my birthday is not till tomorrow."
"I know, but I couldn't wait another day and I wanted to be the first one to wish you a Happy Birthday and to give you your first gift."
He was blushing; it was kind of cute. But she'd never say that to his face. He'd be even worse with his advances and jokes. She smiled at him softly to let him know she was glad for his consideration.
"Thank you, Chat," she replied taking the box.
She opened it and saw there was a black velvet box inside it. She took it and opened it to reveal a beautiful soft pink rose cameo choker. The choker was made of pink satin and black lace with a pink and black jeweled cameo of some pink roses. She was stunned, floored and touched all at once. "Chat...I...don't," she stuttered.
"I hope you enjoy it, my Lady. I hope to see you wear it one day."
The next thing he knew, she wrapped her arms around his neck in a big hug. He staggered but caught his balance. Now it was his turn to be stunned, floored and touched. He instinctively wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her neck.
"Thank you," she said hoarsely.
"You're welcome," he whispered.
They stayed like that a little longer; she owed him at least that. When she released Chat, much to his protesting, she tried to blink back her tears and they didn't go unnoticed by him. He wiped a stray tear with his thumb.
"Why so sad my Lady?"
"I'm happy, Chat. So very happy," she smiled.
"Then my mission was accomplished," he said with a sincere smile. "I'd do anything to make you happy; you know that right?"
"I do, sweet cat." She gave him a sweet smile that made him go weak in his knees. "I have to go now. Thank you again, Chat. I love my present."
She swung away before he had a chance to respond. He stared at the direction she took off and wished with his whole heart that she would return his feelings for her. Ladybug made it back home and de-transformed back to Marinette. Tikki was ecstatic about her present from Chat.
"Open it again Marinette! I want to see it!"
Marinette sighed and opened the box again. Tikki marveled at the choker's beauty and Marinette had to agree that it was beautiful. She looked at her dress nearly finished except for a few finer details that shouldn't take long to finish but it needed something to finish it off. She figured it would come to her later and she set the choker on her design table, finished her dress and went to bed. The next morning, Adrien had everything set; he sent his suit and gift with Nino to the venue, made sure the catering company was there with the food and now was heading toward the bakery where Marinette lived. He still wasn't sure what they'd do but he figured she should decide since it was her birthday. He walked in and was greeted by Marinette's mother.
"Oh, hello! You must be Adrien."
"Yes, ma'am. I'm here to help keep Marinette company until the party."
"Oh good, please follow me I'll show you to her room." Sabine led Adrien to her daughter's room. "Let me see if she's up; make yourself at home."
"Thank you," said Adrien.
Sabine climbed up the stairs and opened the hatch to see Marinette was up but still in her pajamas.
"Oh, you're up. Happy Birthday sweetie!"
"Oh, your dress! It looks lovely," cried Sabine at seeing Marinette's birthday dress.
"Thanks. It's missing something but I don't know what."
"Well, you need to get dressed. You have a visitor."
"He's downstairs waiting. Hurry up."
Her mother left but Marinette was panicking.
"This is bad! This is very, very bad! Adrien is downstairs! In my house!"
"Marinette, just calm down. It's your birthday, what better way to spend it than with the guy you like," said Tikki.
"That's just it! Oh, I'm going to make such a huge fool of myself, I know it!"
"Relax, Marinette. It's only Adrien; and besides I've seen the way he looks at you. He likes you, so just enjoy today!"
"Ok, ok, I'll get dressed now. Thanks, Tikki."
Meanwhile, Adrien was sitting in the kitchen having a snack thanks to Sabine's insistence.
"Thanks for the dumplings! They're great!"
"Oh, I'm glad you do. They're Marinette's favorite."
"I hope you saved some for me then," said Marinette in the doorway.
Sabine and Adrien turned to see Marinette in a simple blue dress with a sweetheart neckline and A-line skirt. A white cardigan and white flats were added and a straw hat with white ribbon helped complete the outfit.
"Oh, sweetie you look adorable! I thought you were going to wear the other one?"
"That one is too formal for today. I made this one weeks ago but didn't have the excuse to wear it," said Marinette.
She looked over at Adrien who just stared at her. She began to blush at his intense gaze. When he realized he hadn't said anything, he shook his head and smiled.
"You look great! And happy birthday!"
"Thanks. So, what brings you here Adrien?"
"Well, Alya felt bad for not spending your birthday together so she asked me."
"Really?! That's nice of you but, you don't have to."
"It's fine. I didn't have anything scheduled today and I wanted to. Nobody should be left alone on their birthday."
While it was true that Alya felt bad for skipping out on her best friend, she had a party to get going. And even if she didn't ask, he would have still done it. He remembered how it felt to spend birthday's alone and Marinette didn't deserve that.
"Such a nice gesture, young man," commented Sabine.
"He's downstairs in the bakery getting that Sweet 16 cake ready for a client. Why don't you go down and see him before you two run off."
"You go ahead, Marinette. I'll catch up," said Adrien. When Marinette was out of sight, Adrien looked panicked. "You sure that was a good idea? What if she figures it out?"
"Oh don't worry. It will be a good way to know if she'll like it without her knowing. Now run along; Alya will be here any second to get the cake and her dress."
Adrien nodded and ran down the stairs. Meanwhile, Marinette walked into the bakery's kitchen to see her dad at work on the birthday cake.
"Marinette, Happy Birthday," he said hugging her. "I'm almost done, what do you think?"
The cake was a four-tiered white and black round cake. Each layer had something to do with fashion and designing and a small Eiffel Tower on top. Little pink cherry blossoms adorned the layers.
"It's beautiful! Whoever's cake this is will love it!"
"Glad you think so."
"Hey Marinette, ready to go," asked Adrien as he appeared in the doorway.
Marinette nodded and said good-bye to her parents. The two of them began to walk in silence, unsure of what to say next.
"So," she began.
"So," he responded.
"What did you want to do?"
"It's whatever you like to do. You're the birthday girl," he smiled.
Marinette blushed at the sweet smile he gave her. She couldn't believe how nice he was being.
"Well, I don't want to drag you everywhere."
"I told you it's fine. I'll follow your lead."
Marinette thought more about it. She did have somethings she needed at the fabric store and having an extra set of hands would help carry what she needed.
"Do you mind coming with me to the fabric shop? I have a few things I need to get."
"Sure! I'd be happy to!"
Adrien followed Marinette to her favorite fabric shop. It was cool to see how she chose her fabrics and other accessories for her designs since he never got to see how that process worked. She'd ask him his opinion or he'd offer suggestions and helped her locate what she was looking for. They talked and laughed and enjoyed themselves. What could possibly go wrong? While Adrien and Marinette were having fun, Alya was having a nervous breakdown. She managed to get the cake and Marinette's birthday dress to the ballroom at one of the nicest hotels in Paris but, the setup for the ballroom wasn't going well. While Max had promised to follow Alya's instructions, he apparently decided on what he thought was the best layout.
"I told you that I want to place both the cake and food tables at this other end and place tables and chairs nearby with the DJ stand and dance floor in the middle. The photo booth will be off to the side and the gift table should be near the entrance so people can place their gifts there," shouted Alya.
Max had the layout completely backwards and none it flowed right. That wasn't the only issue.
"Alya," cried Rose.
"What now," said an exasperated Alya.
"The decorations we got were short a few center pieces," said Alix.
"Ok, just work with what we have and once we get the tables setup correctly we can disperse them in a way that seems even."
"Excuse me, are you Alya," asked a chef.
"I'm Anton, I am in charge of the food service tonight. I wanted to confirm the menu with you."
"Great, lead the way."
Alya followed Anton to the kitchen to see quite the spread. Mini-smoked salmon croque-monsieur sandwiches, reblochon tarts with bacon and fingerling potatoess, fromage fort, mini tartes flambé e's, fruit skewers and vegetable skewers and cheese plates and other French styled finger foods. It all looked delicious.
"Do I have your approval," asked Anton.
"Everything looks great. Thank you, chef. Adrien said you were the best and I agree."
"Oh, merci beaucoup! Is there any othe requests?"
"Let's stick with what we have here. I need to check on other things. Please carry on!"
Alya went back out to the ballroom to see that finally, the setup was looking like how she had originally planned. "Great job guys! Rose! Let's get the center pieces fixed!"
Meanwhile, Adrien was carrying several fabric swatches while Marinette carried the rest of the bags.
"Are you sure you can carry all that," she asked.
"I'm fine, don't worry about it. It was cool to see what you do when picking out the materials for your designs. Let me know when you do it again and I'll come with you."
"You wouldn't be too busy for something like that?"
"If I use it as an excuse to learn about fashion my dad wouldn't mind."
They made it back to the bakery to find it closed and dark.
"Hmmm, I wonder why my parents closed up the shop? They didn't tell me they were."
"Maybe they had something to do while we were out," Adrien wondered aloud.
Marinette opened the shop and called for her parents. There was no answer.
"Well, I'm sure they'll be back later. I need to put these materials away."
"Lead the way," Adrien smiled.
The two of them went up to Marinette's room to deposit her sewing materials. Marinette noticed that something was missing.
"What? What's wrong?"
"My dress! My birthday dress! It's gone!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! It was right here on the dummy! I worked so hard it!"
"It's ok, I'm sure it's around here somewhere," Adrien said in a calm manner. Then, his phone rang; he saw it was Alya. "Hold on, I need to take this." He quickly exited the room to answer the phone hoping Marinette wouldn't come down to hear. "Hey, what's up," he said quietly.
"Hey, how's it going? Has she figured it out yet?"
"No, not that I know of. We stopped by her house after the fabric shop and she noticed her parents are gone and so is her birthday dress. She's freaking out."
"Oh, you idiot! Why did you...you know what forget it! Marinette's parents are already here with her cake and dress. Make-up a reason for them to be gone, I don't care. Go ahead and start making your way here. We'll be ready by then."
"Ok, got it. I'll let you know when we're close."
Adrien hung up and went back upstairs. He saw Marinette tear her room apart looking for it.
"It's not here! What happened to it?!"
"Hey, hey, hey. Relax. Deep breath." They did it together and she calmed down. "Maybe your parents took your dress to get cleaned."
"Both of them?"
"Maybe they got lunch together?"
He hoped she would buy those excuses. It seemed to work since she relaxed again and started to tidy up her room. Adrien promptly helped her.
"It's my mess Adrien, don't worry about it."
"You'd get done faster with us both working. Besides, it's no trouble at all. Oh, and after this, there's a place I want to take you that I think you're gonna like."
"Oh, where is it?"
"It's a surprise," Adrien said with a wink.
That made Marinette's stomach fill with butterflies. He was being so sweet to her she felt like she didn't deserve it. Once they got her room back in order, they were heading out again. She kept trying to get Adrien to tell her what it was but he kept smiling at her and told her she'd have to wait and see. He discretely sent Alya a text message that they were on their way. She said they were ready and to knock on the doors to signal them. When Marinette saw they were at a hotel, she got curious.
"What's going on? Why are we at this fancy hotel?"
"There's an event happening here that I think you'll enjoy," he smirked.
He lead her to the ballroom where her party was and the doors were shut. He knocked three times.
"Why did you knock on the door?"
"Why don't you open it and find out."
She did and the sight made her gasp. The ballroom was decorated with streamers and balloons of black, white and pink. There were tables with white and black table cloths and chairs covered in pink covers. Each table had either a mini Eiffel Tower with pale pink gems scattered around or a small vase with pink roses and glitter confetti. She saw Nino standing at the DJ stand with a dance floor in front where her friends stood and yelled surprise. She looked and saw the same birthday cake she saw her father make sitting on a table next to a delicious spread of finger foods. She noticed a photo booth nearby and her gift table. She was speechless and almost started to cry when she turned to Adrien.
"It was all Alya's idea. We just helped out. Happy Birthday," he said sweetly.
It was then Alya walked up and Marinette grabbed the girl for a hug.
"Thank you, so much!"
"You're welcome, girlfriend. You deserve it. Now, Adrien, if you'll excuse me; we need to get this girl ready."
"Don't let me stop you. See you in a bit Mari," Adrien winked and went over to Nino. Nino high-fived him.
"Dude, look at you being all slick with Marinette."
"Oh stop. Hey, where's my suit?"
"Right here man."
Nino held up a black suit Adrien's father designed with a bright green shirt, black tie and black shoes. Meanwhile, Alya dragged Marinette up to a suite where Chloe, Sabrina and Marinette's mother were waiting.
"Alright she's here! Time to work some magic," yelled Alya.
Marinette saw her dress next to a vanity.
"This is a one time deal, ok Marinette. Consider it my gift to you. After this, we are even," remarked Chloe.
"I appreciate your effort, Chloe. Thank you," said Marinette sweetly.
The girls got to work. Sabine worked on her hair while Sabrina did her nails. Sabine styled her daughter's hair in a simple bun with ringlets to the side. An ornate cherry blossom comb adorned the top of head. The blossoms were bright pink with silver branches. Her nails were French tipped manicures. It was Chloe's turn to do her make-up. She applied minimal amount of foundation and painted her cheeks with a pale pink blush. She did a smokey eye and topped it off with pink lip gloss. Now, it was time for the dress. The top half had a Chinese dress style in a cherry blossom pink with black stitching of the flowering tree and its branches. The lower half had an A-line skirt that was black with a pink tool under layer. A white sash at her waist highlighted her hour-glass figure. Her shoes were simple black strap kitten heels to show off her well-groomed toes. Alya presented Marinette with a little black velvet box.
"And now the final touch."
Alya opened it to reveal the choker Marinette got from Chat.
"Where did you," Marinette began.
"I saw it next to the dress and when I opened it I knew it would be perfect. Where did you get it? Did someone give it to you?"
Marinette smiled as she remembered when Chat presented it to her.
"Yes, someone did. But I can't say who."
"We'll get to that later. Right now, you got a party to get to."
After Alya put the choker on her, Marinette looked at herself in front of the mirror while everyone else got ready. She hardly recognized herself. She touched the choker and wished Chat Noir could see her in it. She had a feeling he'd be very pleased with the result. Meanwhile downstairs, the rest of the guests had arrived. Alya invited the whole school to celebrate and nearly everyone showed up. Nino was up at the turntables making sure everyone was having a good time till he got the signal from Alya.
"Alright dudes and dudettes! It is my great pleasure to introduce the guest of honor! Give it up for Marinette Dupain-Cheng!"
The crowd cheered as Marinette walked in. She smile sweetly and gave a small wave; the blush on her face evident. Adrien watched her walk in and was floored by how stunning she looked. A certain type a grace exuded from the way she walked in and a bright shy smile on her beautiful face. Wait, where did that come from? Well, it was true; she looked beautiful and he took in every detail of her dress. She said she worked hard on it and it showed. What really drew him in was what was on her neck. Where did she get that choker? It looks just like the one he gave to Ladybug. But, how? The man who sold it to him said it was a one of a kind. No other in existence, so why was Marinette wearing it? Unless...no, it can't be. Can it? He needed to be sure. He made his way to her on the dance floor. Alya saw him coming and moved away from Marinette, letting Adrien take her spot next to her.
"Oh, Adrien! I wanted to say thank you for your part in this."
"It was my pleasure, Princess," he said in the same flirty way of Chat Noir.
Marinette had to do a double take. Did she hear right? Did he call her Princess? Right, the music is too loud. She couldn't have heard that.
"That's a lovely dress Mari. I can see you put a lot of effort into it."
"Thank you," she said shyly.
It was then that a slow song began to play. Adrien put his hand out.
"May I have this dance, Princess?"
Now she know she heard right. He did call her Princess. The only other person who called her that was...Chat Noir. No, he couldn't be; could he? She realized she hadn't answered him and gently placed her hand in his. He pulled her close; placing one hand on her back and grasping the other. She placed her free hand on his shoulder and forced herself to make eye contact. Now he had a better view of the choker and there was no mistaking it; it was the same choker he gave to Ladybug, but he had to be sure.
"So, where did you get that pretty choker? Was it a gift?"
"Yes," she smiled sweetly. "From someone very special to me. He's funny, when he's not making cat puns and very sweet. I wish he was here to see me wear it. I know he'd be pleased."
"I have a pretty good idea that he is," said Adrien quietly.
"What was that?"
"Nothing," he winked.
They continued to dance until the beat picked back up again. Adrien suggested they get something to eat and led her to the food. He wanted to tell her, but not with so many people around. He'd try to get alone with her later. She gushed to her father at how wonderful the cake looked and couldn't believe they kept it a secret from her. After everyone sang "Happy Birthday" and she made her wish, it was time to cut the cake. It had a sweet French vanilla flavor with chocolate ganache and it was delicious. Marinette promised Tikki she would save her a slice. Afterwards, Marinette took pictures with everyone at the photo booth. One with her parents, then Alya, then with Adrien, and so on. They used different props and backgrounds and made all kinds of faces. Soon, it was time to open gifts. Alya got her some new sewing materials and a new dummy. Nino gave her a thumb drive loaded with her favorite music as well as recommended tunes. When Marinette saw what Adrien got her, she was touched. A stack of fresh sketch pads and two boxes of lead pencils and two boxes of colored ones.
"I asked the designers that work for my dad what they use to sketch and these are their favorite brands," he explained his choices.
After opening more gitfts; lots of gift cards, jewelry and other items a girl like her would enjoy. But the best surprise came from her parents. Her dad handed her a small red and black polka dotted box. She opened it and saw it was a set of keys. Her eyes bugged out in surprise.
"Are these," she began.
"It's this way," smiled her dad.
Tom led his daughter and her friends outside to the front of the hotel. Sabine stood next to a red VW Beetle with black spots. Marinette screamed in delight while the rest of her friends cheered.
"Road trip," yelled Alya.
Marinette jumped into the driver side to get a feel for it. Alya quickly jumped into the passenger side.
"Girl, we are so taking a road trip this summer!"
"Don't even think about going without us," said Nino leaning in on Alya's side.
"Totally," said Adrien on Marinette's side.
"You can talk about that later, let's get back to the party," yelled Kim.
Marinette got out to hug her parents as everyone else headed back to the party. After a few rounds of dancing, Marinette decided she needed a break so she grabbed some punch and stepped out onto the patio by the ballroom. The cool air felt nice and the punch was refreshing. She didn't even notice someone come up behind her.
"Taking a breather," he asked.
Marinette turned to see Adrien smiling at her.
"Yeah, just wanted some fresh air." She paused to look up at the sky while Adrien stood next to her. "Thanks for my present. I can't wait to use them."
"Your welcome. I look forward to seeing what you design next." He continued to look at her, his attention drawn to the choker on her neck. He just knew it was her, there was no doubt about it. He's surprised it took him this long to realize it, but would she still accept him. He wasn't sure; he felt that he could accept both Marinette and Ladybug but he hoped she would accept his Chat Noir side and his Adrien side. He figured he would bite the bullet and go for it. He leaned down to her ear.
"Thank you for granting my wish," he whispered.
"My wish to see you wearing my birthday gift to you. It looks amazing with your dress, my Lady."
"What," gasped Marinette. She stared at him wide eyed. Adrien Agreste had a very distinct Chat Noir grin on his face. It all clicked together. It didn't make any sense and yet somehow it did. "Chat?"
"The one and only. You know I had half a mind to crash your party as Chat Noir but, now I see no need for it."
Marinette continued to look dumbfounded. She was left completely speechless. Of all the scenarios this could have played out, this wasn't one of them. Adrien started to feel anxious.
"Listen, I know this is all very sudden and even more surprising than having this party thrown for you but, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to finally meet the girl behind the Ladybug mask. And you know what the best part about this is?"
"What," Marinette squeaked out.
"That she turned out to be you. I can't think of anyone better suited than you."
Marinette's cheeks turned bright red and the shy look she was giving him made her even more adorable to him.
"You flatter me, kitty," she said in a coy tone. "I'm glad to meet the boy behind the mask as well. I'm glad he turned out to be you."
"My Lady," whispered Adrien as he took her hand and kissed it.
"What happens now," asked Marinette.
"We can ease into this slowly if you like, but my feelings for you haven't changed. I want you to know that you have bewitched me body and soul. Je t'aime Marinette, my Lady, my Princess."
Adrien cupped her face, leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Her eyes went wide in surprise but eventually she closed her eyes and kissed back. Off to the side, Alya and Nino looked on with smiles on their faces.
"Pound it," they said while fist bumping. Happy to see their friends finally together.