Marinette Dupain-Cheng always strives to do her best. Not just when it comes to her own interests, but helping others. There's plenty of reasons why her classmates have called her their 'Everyday Ladybug', blissfully unaware that she is, in fact, the superheroine who's been fighting to protect their home from Hawkmoth and his akumatized victims.
But familiarity breeds contempt, they say. Ever since Lila Rossi returned and started spinning impressive yarns about all the incredible things she's supposedly accomplished, Marinette has found herself trying to untangle those webs alone. Her attempts at warning others falling on deaf ears, dismissed and discounted... and the only other one who knows the truth would prefer to just leave well enough alone.
It gets... overwhelming. Sometimes, she wishes she could just... disappear. Dangerous thought to have, really, when akuma can have all manner of unpredictable powers.
Missing, by ChaoticNeutral, explores just such a scenario. During an encounter with an akuma capable of making their victims vanish, Ladybug gets grazed... but nothing happens. Seemingly. It's only after the battle ends and the Miraculous Cure's been released that she finds herself wondering just what she normally does after that's all taken care of.
What happens when the 'everyday Ladybug' gets removed from the equation?
BURN THE WITCH is another piece of ChaoticNeutral's work, similarly inspired by "Chameleon", but tackling the subject matter in a completely different fashion.
This fanfic contains examples of:
- Absence of Evidence: Alix realizes — and points out to Nathaniel — that while Marinette has presented them with some evidence that Lila isn't all that she presents herself as, they'd never actually seen any solid evidence that she is, in fact, as good as she claims.Nathaniel: If you dig enough, you can find anything to cast suspicion on someone.
Alix: That's true. But in that case, if she could dig to find information on someone to make them look bad, where is the information to make Lila look good?
- Accusation Fic: Thanks to Marinette's absence, Adrien, Alya and others come to realize just how much they took her presence for granted, as well as other ways that they wronged her.
- Adaptation Expansion: All of the characters get a aspects of this to expand on their personalities and explain their actions in canon. From Adrien's "high road" speech to Marinette being in part due to trying to keep the peace and knowing out of all the parties involved that she would be the most inclined to actually listen to him to Max canonically going along with Lila's napkin claim because he knew it was made up but mistook the claim as her telling a joke.
- Adult Fear:
- Sabine and Tom have to deal with their daughter just... mysteriously vanishing one day after an akuma attack. A fear taken Up to Eleven when Marinette's possessions begin to disappear as though she never existed.
- Thanks to her Laser-Guided Amnesia, Ladybug sincerely believes that she has nowhere to go. Superpowered or not, she's still a teenager who's effectively rendered homeless by her memory loss.
- Chapter 10 reveals that Roger lives in fear that one day, the damage caused by an Akuma will be permanent, and he'll have to be the one to explain to a family that their loved one will never come home.
- Amnesiac Hero: Ladybug, who can't quite recall anything that had to do with her civilian life.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
- When Ladybug suggests to Chat that Marinette might have run away, he protests that she never would have done that, only to hesitate when she responds "How would you know?"
- Following their enlightening conversation with Ladybug, Alya tries to explain it away by reasoning that Ladybug might have lied to protect her friend. Nino points out the obvious hole in this line of logic:Alya: You know that Ladybug wouldn't have been able to say anything. It'd be too much of a risk!
Nino: But Lila could? Despite the danger?
- After learning how Adrien stayed silent, Nino naturally asks him why. His response to his answer causes Adrien to flinch.Adrien: I-I thought she could be convinced to be a better person.
Nino: And that mattered more than warning us so we wouldn't be hurt in the process?
- When Lila is being confronted by her classmates, Alix gets a zinger, followed by Nino:Lila: She was lying!
Alix: Just like Alya was, right? And Marinette. Tell me, Lila. How many people are suddenly going to become liars if they point out holes in your stories?
Lila: She was just trying to protect me!
Nino: If you needed to be protected, why announce your friendship and make yourself a target in the first place? Wouldn't a real friend of Ladybug's not put her in that position?
- Ascended Fridge Horror: When Lila admits that she lied to the police and claimed that Marinette was in a relationship with an older man, Kim points out that this would definitely lead to the cops concluding that Marinette had left as elopement and thus would lessen the police's urgency and willingness to put in resources to find her, almost ensuring that Marinette will remain missing.
- Bait-and-Switch Boss: At the end of Chapter 3, Hawk Moth sends an akuma out for Nino, heartbroken over Adrien's failure to act out against Lila until it was too late. However, the intended target manages to work through their anger before they get hit, and said akuma instead retargets Alya, enraged over Lila's betrayal and unjustly suspended for two weeks.
- Batman Gambit: In some rare show of guilt, Hawk Moth had been avoiding akumatizing anyone close to Marinette who would be upset about her disappearance. Sabine gets around this when she intentionally upsets a customer knowing full well that Hawk Moth would send an akuma, and then steals the akuma for herself.
- Big "WHAT?!":
- Jagged Stone has this reaction, quite understandably, to being informed that Marinette supposedly has a Secret Relationship with an older man who fits his description.
- Adrien and Nino react this way upon hearing that Alya was suspended for attacking Lila.
- Bookends: For Lila's arc. It's noted that when she first arrived at the school, she was surrounded by rumors and speculation. The same happens when she leaves, only the rumors surrounding her are much less pleasant.
- Brutal Honesty: Ladybug is very forthright and to the point when she informs Alya and Nino that they've been misinformed regarding her supposed 'friendship' with Lila.
- Cassandra Truth: Alya refused to believe Marinette's warnings about Lila. After learning that she was right, Alya then finds herself in much the same position, unable to convince others that she's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Alya delves pretty heavily into this while attempting to reconcile Ladybug's statements about Lila with the other girl's claims, twisting logic into pretzels in her efforts to avoid facing the idea that she might have made some serious errors in judgment.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Played for Drama; Realizing how much pain might have been avoided if they'd paid more attention to Marinette's concerns about Lila causes Alya, Nino and Adrien no small amount of guilt.
- The entire plot gets kicked off by Ladybug getting hit in a fight but waving off a swarm of Ladybugs because she doesn't feel injured, unaware that the injury is the loss of Marinette.
- Deus ex Machina: For Lila. As she's arrested and dragged out of school by the police, she begins focusing on her fury and lies in an effort to get herself akumatized on purpose. Unfortunately, just as Hawk Moth is preparing to do so, he gets distracted.
- Enemy Mine: Downplayed. Tom's relationship with his parents is fairly strained, but as time passes with no word from Marinette the two step up to help manage the bakery.
- Engineered Public Confession: Plays a critical role in Lila's downfall. While she's being called out by her classmates, Sabrina secretly calls Chloe, who brought Mrs. Rossi to the Principal's office and lets everyone in there hear everything that's being said on her cell's speakerphone.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Nino feels betrayed by Adrien when the latter confesses that he knew about Lila's lies and did nothing to stop them.
- Extreme Doormat: Adrien, big time. Nino realizes that his failure to act against Lila stems from how he was raised to never cause conflict and his general desire to avoid conflict.
- Foreshadowing: In chapter 6, Gabriel Agreste is prevented from akumatising Lila by Audrey Bourgeois calling about missing some key pieces for her next fashion show. It turns out that these were all pieces designed by Marinette. In the very next interlude, Roger discovers that this has also happened to some items in Marinette's bedroom which are vanishing from existence.
- Gossip Evolution: Lila finds herself on the wrong end of this when she's escorted out of school by the police, as rumors swirl around her, pinning her as potentially participating in human trafficking, among other claims.
- Hidden Depths:
- Alix and Nathaniel's Interlude reveals that Alix is far more observant than anyone gives her credit for, and noticed that Lila, despite her claims of wanting to make peace with Marinette, was 'stirring the pot rather than taking it off the stove'.
- Kim is also revealed to be more observant than others realize, as he picks up on how Lila's descriptions of her injuries and the pain they cause go all over the place and don't line up with each other.
- Of all people, ROGER gets this through an Interlude of his own. He knows full well he's ineffective against magic, but is fully willing to do anything he can to interfere if it means protecting civilians or just buying time until the heroes can stop the akuma. He has full faith in Ladybug's magic to fix any damage done and restore things to normal, which is what makes the end of his chapter such a sucker punch when he realizes he's facing the first occasion where it didn't.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: Lila engineers her own fall from grace several times over:
- Her insistence on putting herself at the center of everything means that she gets directly involved in looking for Marinette, leading Kim to notice that not only were her injuries inconsistent, they didn't hamper her at all while they were searching for Marinette. At least, not until Adrien had to leave, and she was suddenly too weak to continue, and pressured everyone else to stop.
- She claimed that she had asked her bestie Ladybug directly to help out. Ladybug only heard about the search from Chat Noir, and mentioned as much to Nino and Alya.
- She forces a confrontation with Nino when he tries to avoid getting drawn into a conversation about what happened with Alya, insisting that because he avoided saying that he didn't blame her for what happened, he must actually blame her. He responds by standing his ground, spurring others to speak up about their concerns as well.
- Her injury from her Wounded Gazelle Gambit is on her right cheek. Nathaniel points out that Alya is right-handed, meaning that if she'd reflexively slapped her like she claimed, it would have been her left cheek, and the awkward mark on her face is more in line with her slapping herself.
- Most importantly, she lied to the police, spinning a lie about Marinette being in a Secret Relationship. Bad enough in its own right, made worse by how she painted Jagged Stone as the potential culprit, giving him reason to hit her with charges for defamation of his character.
- Her willingness to gloat and sneer when confronted by classmates who are no longer buying her bull helps ensure her downfall via Sabrina and Chloe arranging for the adults hear her confession through Sabrina's phone.
- Ignored Epiphany: Gabriel seriously begins to consider the possibility he's gone too far when faced with the idea that one of his akuma killed Marinette, but quickly refuses to back down.
- Insane Troll Logic: Subverted. Alya jumps through several logical hurdles trying to justify Lila's various falsehoods and tries to think of reasons why Marinette would have disappeared after Ladybug confirms that she does not know Lila. Nino sees right through it as Alya being in denial due to immense guilt over not believing her best friend, being a Hypocrite by not checking her sources and potentially causing Marinette to run away.
- Internal Reveal:
- Alya and Nino learn from Ladybug that she only knows Lila as someone who's been akumatized several times, including during periods she claimed to have been out of the country.
- Adrien subsequently reveals to Nino that he knew Lila's true nature, and had known for quite some time... and advised Marinette to just let her lie.
- It is only after the class realizes that Lila was lying about everything and she drops the act do they find out that she was Chameleon.
- Plagg learns that Ladybug forgot her Secret Identity when her presence alone is enough to trigger the spell that prevents him from mentioning it around people who don't know it already.
- Ironic Echo: Alya repeats what she told Marinette before: "A good journalist always checks her sources." This time, however, she says it fully aware of how she failed to do just that.
- It's All My Fault:
- The more she comes to realize about the situation, the more Alya struggles with the fear that she might have influenced Marinette running away.
- Adrien also starts blaming himself for Marinette's disappearance. Nino then turns this around on him to get him to calm down.
- I've Come Too Far: While Gabriel is horrified upon realizing that one of his akuma is responsible for Marinette's disappearance, he convinces himself that he must continue in order to save Emilie. Otherwise, he reasons, Marinette's loss will have been All for Nothing.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Lila's The Chessmaster antics all come crashing down on her comically fast all at once. After she gets Alya falsely accused of assault and expelled, this spurs Adrien to act and tell the principal. When he doesn't believe him, Chloe calls Lila's mother to come to the school and broadcasts an Engineered Public Confession when she drops her victimhood act when her classmates finally put two-and-two together and realize that she was Faux Affably Evil the entire time. Almost completely by coincidence, Penny shows up right after the Engineered Public Confession and explains that Lila is also going to be sued for slander, Lila having implied to the police that Marinette was in a secret love affair with Jagged Stone as both a way to further slander Marinette's reputation and make it less likely the police will find her.
- Loophole Abuse: Max pulls this off when he decides to continue investigating what Lady Wifi was having him look into, completing his hack into the cellphone tower — stating that legally speaking, any information he happened to find would only be because an akuma ordered him to do it.
- Lost in Transmission: As a protective measure, the kwami cannot reveal the names of someone who holds a Miraculous against the will of whichever kwami is held by that bearer. Plagg realizes that something is seriously wrong when he attempts to tell Ladybug herself her own identity and gets blocked by Tikki's power.
- Malicious Slander: Just because Marinette's missing doesn't mean Lila has any intention of easing up on this. She even lies to the police, claiming she was in a Secret Relationship with a much older man.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Before learning the Awful Truth about Lila, Alya is firmly convinced that Marinette is just jealous of her, even accusing her through calls and texts of pranking everyone by faking her disappearance. Once it becomes clear that isn't the case, and that she was telling the truth all along, Alya's naturally horrified by her own behavior.
- When Gabriel overhears Adrien's friends theory that Marinette's disappearance was caused by an akumatization, he feels pangs of guilt over it, having grown so used to Ladybug magically fixing everything that he isn't used to the long-term consequences of his excursions as Hawk Moth.
- The Needs of the Many: Ladybug dismisses Chat Noir's concern over Marinette this way; ultimately, Marinette is just one girl, and she can't justify focusing on her case alone when they're responsible for protecting all of Paris from Hawkmoth.
- Never My Fault: When Alya confronts Lila, the other girl cheerfully declares that Alya is more to blame for Marinette running away than she is.
- No Social Skills: Max has a far easier time dealing with numbers and science than with people. He actually notes that he immediately realized he was in no danger from the napkin in "Chameleon", but badly misread the situation as Lila joking around and didn't really understand how to react.
- No Sympathy: Downplayed; Without Marinette's memories, Ladybug leans more towards being strictly professional. This makes her come off as strangely cold and curt to those who are used to her treating them differently. Alya, for instance, she recognizes as the Ladyblogger and former Lady WiFi, and a member of the 'akuma-attracting class', and not as the girl she also regards as one of her best friends.
- Not So Different: Part of Lila's gloating to Alya hinges on this:Lila: Poor Marinette. Always trying to be the good friend. Helping people. And never asking for anything in return. But you and I both know that kindness doesn't get you anywhere. I mean, it's not like you wasted any time turning on her when you thought I had something you wanted.
- Not What It Looks Like: Most of Marinette's classmates believe that she's run away from home — including Alya, who blames Lila, and Lila herself, who turns the blame back onto Alya. Others, mostly the adults, fear that she was kidnapped or attacked by some criminal. In reality, a memory-erasing akuma is to blame.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- Discussed by Alix and Nathaniel in their shared Interlude, as they agree that while Alya can be deeply passionate, it doesn't make sense for her to suddenly get violent and assault Lila.
- Everyone who's familiar with how Ladybug normally acts is thrown by how her attitude has shifted, becoming even more no-nonsense than before and refusing to use her Lucky Charm. When Chat Noir tries to get her to help him investigate Marinette's disappearance when he discovers that magic is related to it, Ladybug dismisses it as irrelevant, only for Chat to finally snap at her.Chat Noir: What is WRONG with you? A girl is missing! She is literally fading from existence and you don't care!
Ladybug: Chat, you don't even know that's actually the case! There are other things to worry about right now!
Chat Noir: This is a person's LIFE AT STAKE!
Ladybug: Everyone's life is at stake against Hawk Moth, Chat! And you would have me put him on hold just for one person?
Chat Noir: She isn't just one person!
- When Adrien sees Chloe treating a woman politely and respectfully, guiding her along, he's struck by the surreality of the sight, before she introduces her guest as Mrs. Rossi, Lila's mother.
- As the stress of not knowing where Marinette is gets to her, the normally kind and motherly Sabine starts lashing out at a particularly difficult customer as part of a plan to bring out an akuma and get herself akumatized.
- Ret-Gone: What is insinuated will happen to Marinette if this isn't fixed.
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: One by one, those who figure out that Lila's true nature get a taste of how incredibly frustrating it is to know the truth and find that others won't listen.
- And This Is for...: When confronting Lila, Chloe leans in and whispers "This was for Adrien, you bitch" into her ear.
- Unperson: In Chapter 7, everyone begins to realize that Hawk Moth is in someway responsible for Marinette's disappearance when objects remotely related to her — from things her classmates own that she is someway related to to her own possessions at home — begin to vanish mysteriously.
- Wham Line:
- "Because I KNEW!" serves as one for Nino, dramatically shifting the tone of his attempt to comfort Adrien.
- The ending of Chapter 3.Hawk Moth: Such heartbreak. To learn of such betrayal from one friend only after it caused the loss of another. Its the perfect prey for my akuma! Go forth my little one, and evilize him!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ladybug's Lack of Empathy regarding the Marinette situation eventually causes Chat Noir to snap, demanding to know "What is WRONG with you?!"
- What Would X Do?: Nino finds himself asking himself 'What would Marinette do?', wincing internally at the irony.
- Wistful Amnesia: On some level, Ladybug senses that something's changed. She simply can't pin down the precise source of that nagging discontent.
- With All Due Respect: Adrien says this while talking to the Principal. His internal narration only underscores this further, saying 'disregarding that the man before him was far from deserving of any respect at this point.'
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Directly namedropped when Lila slaps herself to make it look like Alya attacked her.