Another day had gone by and another battle had been won. Stars had begun to shimmer in the darkening French sky as Chat Noir and I fist bumped at our success. Mr Monroe, the school's gardener, groaned as the last dregs of his alter ego, GarDemon, faded away.
I offered him a warm smile and my hand which he gladly took, looking confused and exhausted. 'Where... where am I?' he asked blankly, looking up at me with a measure of incredulity.
'Don't worry, Mr Monroe, you were Akumatised but we've dealt with it. Oh, and we're in the city park,' I said, guiding him to his worried family. I felt a certain black cat's smiling gaze on me as I handled the situation.
'You really are an amazing hero, Ladybug,' Chat Noir chuckled as I returned to him under the lamp post he was leaning on.
'Comes with years of practice,' I grinned. He smiled proudly down at me for a second then in a sudden movement, Chat Noir grabbed my hand and waist and spun me quickly so I was in his embrace.
Before I could react, he nuzzled his nose into my neck. I stiffened. The sky behind his shoulder was a velvety black and the lights of Paris and distant stars flickered on his blonde hair.
'Stop, Chat!' I said sharply, pulling back. That cat was so immature; I frowned at him as his hand rested on my waist. Typicqlly, he flashed me his signature smirk.
'Just a little friendly hug. You'll come around one day, My Lady,' he purred, attempting to hold me again. I leaped back angrily, glaring at his glowing face in the lamplight.
'Enough of your flirting, Chat, I've got to go - time's almost out,' I said, indicating to my earring. Only two spots remained, which meant I had only two minutes before I became Marinette. Well, technically, I was Marinette, but you know what I mean.
But Chat Noir only smiled at me flirtatiously and softly held my hand to his cheek. Under my leather-gloved fingers, his skin was warm and surprisingly soft.
'Stay, Ladybug,' he whispered. 'It's an empty street... Only I will know,' he murmured, skimming my fingers over his face with his playful green eyes closed. My breath escalated despite my strong will.
'I can't Chat. Not now,' I said. He knows how I feel about our identities being revealed - so why does he constantly try?
My earring beeped again suddenly and without so much as a goodbye, I threw my yoyo onto a roof and managed to tumble on a deserted rooftop just as my transformation began.
I closed my eyes to the cool Paris night for a moment.
What if I did stay? What if I turned into Marinette and he turned into whoever and finally, the curiosity that burnt within me ended?
Not now, Marinette. There might come a time when you will. But for now, I needed Chat Noir to be only Chat Noir. I'm not ready to find out what lies behind the mask.
Staring at the rooftop set against the starry sky, I glimpsed a flash of a light as Ladybug transformed, tantalisingly close. I'm so close yet so far. I could just swing by and in less than two seconds, this mystery would be over.
But until Ladybug decided it was time, I wouldn't push her. Because even though she jumped away from me and couldn't trust me with her secret, everytime she spoke, laughed, cried, everytime she existed, butterflies soared in my stomach.
But still, I coudn't help but wonder... Who are you, Ladybug? Who are you behind the mask?