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The Science of Sex

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It was no secret that Andy Sachs liked to help people. Everybody who knew her was aware of this. Since she was a kid she always tried to give advice and help pretty much everybody around her. She'd even spent her summer volunteering at a nursing home, just for the joy of offering elderly people company and help in anything they needed. So it came as no surprise that as an adult she'd looked for a job where she could help others.

Not many people knew what her job was: most of her family and friends believed she was a common therapist. After all, she only provided services to people of high society. Those who could afford her help were usually famous and important, so it was always crucial to be very discreet. It's why her office was set up in a studio apartment in Manhattan, and not in a big facility of a public health care station.

In a few words, Andy was a sex therapist. No, she did not actually have sex with her clients. She simply offered guidance, advice, and psychological and even physical exercises for a healthy sex life. Clients (often couples) came to her for advice on how to improve their sex life and how to achieve or restore intimacy in a relationship. She was a good listener, always gentle and considerate, and never judged any of her patients, which is probably why she was so successful. Andy had a way of smiling with kindness and understanding, so that her patients were all at ease with her, and they trusted her. And, of course, she was great at her job because she had a great deal of knowledge about the complex subject that was sex - mostly because of her Honours Degree in Sexology, partly because she understood that there was no real 'correct' sex life.

And, yes, her job also included selling of sex toys, but only because she often knew exactly what her clients needed to be satisfied in the bedroom, and since they were high profile people who couldn't just go to any sex shop, she offered to provide them instead in a discreet way.

The front part of her studio was a sort of reception area, with cream walls, two comfortable sofas, a front desk, and a shelf full of books and magazines about sexuality and ways to find one's pleasure when being intimate alone or with someone. The room past the reception area was a large room filled with light and plants and warm colours where her patients could relax and feel safe when they had a session with her. With tasteful art hanging on the walls, a long comfortable sofa, a plush armchair (Andy's usual place), a coffee table usually adorned with warm herbal tea, a dark oak desk, and shelves filled to the top with books, it was not surprising that her clients instantly forgot they were at a 'clinic' of any sort, and simply felt like they were at someone's home. This was good for Andy: the more relaxed the patient was, the more they would open up and the better Andy could help them. Overall, it was not a very common clinic, but it was stylish enough and her patients were comfortable. That's all that mattered, really.

It was usually rather quiet in the studio past 7 pm, since Andy never had any therapy sessions past that time. She preferred to end the evenings doing research or brainstorming ways in which she could aid her patients, or simply doing some leisure reading before going home.

Which is why she was surprised to hear a loud, insistent knocking on the front door. Andy frowned and quickly moved to open the door, only for a silver-haired woman to breeze past her before she had the chance to look at her properly, let alone manage a greeting.

Startled but determined to put on a kind face, Andy shut the door and turned to the woman. She was like no one Andy had ever seen: stylish and poised and regal, but when blue eyes met Andy's, she could see her guest was unsettled.

"I've been told that you can help me," the woman said in a cool voice.

Andy tried not to let her smile fade. Brilliant blue eyes looked at her unflinchingly, but the woman's back was ramrod straight and her shoulders tense. Her pursed lips did nothing to convince Andy that the woman was in any way calm or relaxed.

"Well, why don't you tell me your problem, and I'll see if I can help?" Andy said warmly. She waved with her hand to the door leading to the other room, and the woman through the doorway stalked out of the reception area. Andy took a deep breath before following her. She had a feeling this case would be interesting.

"Please, make yourself comfortable," Andy said.

Once the elegant woman was sitting on the couch and Andy on the armchair, Andy took her notebook and pencil before clearing her throat, noting how her new patient seemed anything but comfortable.

"Okay, let's start with the basics shall we? My name is Andy Sachs."

"I highly doubt that."

Andy blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Surely your mother had better taste than to name you Andy."

"Oh. Uh, well, everyone calls me that, but my given name is Andrea."

The woman hummed and looked around the room as if bored, but Andy caught the way her fingers played with her necklace. A nervous habit, perhaps? The silence that fell over them lasted only a few seconds before Andy realised the woman would not introduce herself.

"Sorry, but, um, who are you?"

That caught the woman's attention as she looked at Andy with an unreadable look, but the raised eyebrow told Andy it was something like disdain.

"You don't know who I am?"

Andy silently shook her head, and the other woman looked her up and down as if examining her before rolling her eyes.

"I should have guessed. My name is Miranda Priestly."

Andy nodded and took a quick note of the name, and then looked up to see Miranda staring at her in expectation. Clearly, Andy had meant to react to that name in some way. Eventually, the other woman rolled her eyes again - Andy was starting to get the feeling this was a very common expression for the other woman - and let out a sharp breath.

"Never mind, I can see that fashion is not your area of expertise," she drawled.

Andy frowned and looked down at her outfit. She was wearing a classy black suit with a white shirt underneath and a pair of black Doc Martins shoes. What was wrong with that? Andy mentally shook her head and looked back up at the other woman - Miranda - with a winning smile on her face.

"So, Miranda, what can I do to help?"

Miranda played with her necklace some more before she seemed to realise what she was doing and placed her hands rigidly on her lap. Clearing her throat, she said, "I need help with my marriage."

"All right, what's wrong with your marriage?"

Miranda snorted. "What isn't?"

Andy smiled, amused by the dry humour. "Well, let's narrow it down then. What is the main problem I can help you with?"

"You're a sex therapist," Miranda started, sounding annoyed, before pausing to take a breath and calm herself. "So I have obviously come here because there are problems with that."

"Okay," Andy said, trying not to be put off by the woman's brusque demeanour. She understood that opening up about one's marital sex life was difficult for some people. "Is it okay if I ask you a few general questions?"

"I..." It seemed for a moment as if Miranda was going to argue or refuse, but she took a deep breath and her shoulders hunched forward slightly. "Yes."

"Alright. Let's start with the basics. How would you describe your sex life?"

Miranda tensed in her seat, and her jaw tightened. Andy sighed internally. Clearly Miranda felt incredibly uncomfortable here, which Andy didn't like, since she aimed for all her patients to be relaxed around her. She also seemed to be struggling to keep it together, like she was at the end of her rope, as if her marriage had been failing for some time now and this was her last desperate attempt. Andy watched as Miranda closed her eyes briefly and seemed to be forcing herself to open up.

"It's... uninspired. My husband is rather tired of me. I've been informed that I'm disappointing him with the way I act in bed," Miranda said in a flat voice, and all in one breath, as if she needed all her strength to get through saying just those short sentences.

Andy frowned at this.

"How do you act in bed?"

"I-" Miranda swallowed thickly and lowered her gaze. "I don't seem to be able to..." She waved her hand vaguely.

Andy felt compassion fill up in her chest at the crestfallen look on the woman's face. She had heard this story many times from other female patients.

"You don't have orgasms?"

Miranda's eyes snapped up.

"Obviously not," Miranda snapped, then took a deep breath, clenched her hands into fists and then released them again. "I tried faking them, for his benefit, but it appears he's not as unintelligent as I thought he was." At this last bit, she shrugged slightly and gave a small grin. Andy grinned back, glad that the woman had a sense of humour even when she was clearly going through a bad situation.

"And how would you describe your husband in bed?"

At this, Miranda frowned.

"Well, he always does the same thing, really."

"Okay, tell me what he does. Do you try different positions?"

Miranda's jaw tensed, but Andy could see her posture was slightly less rigid than before. She shook her head. "No, it's - it's always him on top."

Andy tried not to cringe.

"Is there oral sex involved?"

Miranda visibly swallowed, her shoulders tensing again and her eyes lowering to the floor. "No. I... I don't like to do it. I never did. I have tried but I never seem to be able to do it properly. And he never wants to do that to me. He says he doesn't like the... taste."

"Oh. Okay." Andy blinked, trying not to wonder what on earth was wrong with this guy. "What about foreplay?"

"There usually isn't much of that. He... likes to get straight to the point."

Andy tried, but couldn't keep the disbelief from showing on her face.

"So you don't do foreplay before penetration?"

Miranda glared at the carpet, clearly catching the bewildered tone in Andy's voice.

"No," she gritted out through clenched teeth. "As I said, we just do it."

Andy let out a long, silent breath. Miranda was so tense she seemed just about ready to bolt. Time to move on if she wanted to keep this session going.

"All right. What about touching you? Does he kiss your neck, touch your breasts or stimulate your clitoris?"

Miranda exhaled forcefully and looked up at brown eyes. Andy caught the vulnerability in Miranda's gaze before the blue orbs went cold and lowered once more.

"No. He says my breasts are too - " Miranda cleared her throat, and fidgeted with her bracelet. "they're too small to be enjoyable."

Andy read over her notes and wanted to cry in despair. She shook her head, really trying to hide her exasperation, since she was sure that she'd need patience and tact when dealing with this impromptu new client. She put her notebook aside and leaned forward in her seat so she could look at Miranda closely. When she finally caught the woman's eye, she spoke.

"Let me get this straight, Miranda. You husband doesn't touch you in any erogenous zones, doesn't use his hands or mouth to pleasure you directly on your clitoris, doesn't take part in any foreplay, and yet he expects you to be able to achieve orgasm simply from him penetrating you?"

Miranda blinked at her.

"Well, I - yes. It's why I'm here, so you can help me fix it. I - I want to be able to please him."

Andy gritted her teeth before taking a calming breath.

"Miranda, first of all, sex is not just about pleasing your husband. Sex should be a two-way exchange, and you have the right to enjoy it just as much as he does. He should be trying to please you as well. Secondly, you don't need fixing. I doubt many women would be able to climax with that lack of preparation, arousal, or stimuli. It's completely normal that you can't finish, he's not taking care of your needs."

Miranda leaned back, seeming surprised at this information. Andy sighed.

"You thought it was your fault?" She asked, wanting to cry. How could this woman think it could be her fault? How on earth does somebody have the fortune of marrying someone as beautiful as this woman - because, Andy had to admit, Miranda was uniquely beautiful - and not even put in the effort to please her? And on top of that make her feel bad about it?

"Well, I-" Miranda fumbled with her bracelet. "My ex husband wasn't satisfied with me either. The common denominator in both cases is me." Suddenly, her shoulders slumped, and Andy could clearly see that Miranda looked broken and defeated. Then, in a quiet, small voice, she said, "I could understand that."

Andy felt her heart squeeze painfully. What had these two animals done to this woman? Andy often avoided touching her patients or invading their personal space. She was a professional, after all. But in this case, she decided to forget about professionalism. She stood up and walked a few paces until she sat on the sofa besides Miranda, at a safe distance from touching her, but close enough that she could finally take a closer look at the woman.

"No, Miranda. I'm sorry to be so forward, I understand I am basically a stranger to you, but I'm afraid you married a sex idiot. He sees to his own needs instead of yours, and that is the most selfish thing a partner can do. Miranda, you are not the problem here, believe me."

Miranda blinked slowly at her, then let out a breath that seemed of relief. Her shoulders finally relaxed, and she leaned back a little on the couch.

"So what do you suggest I do? I've tried to tell him what to do before - I've tried to make it better, but he thinks that I'm too... controlling, and he likes to do things his way." She said, shaking her head helplessly. "I don't know what to do."

Andy stayed quiet for a moment, before finally making her decision.

"I'm going to recommend something. You don't have to use it if you don't want to, but it might help your situation."

Miranda looked uncertain, but then nodded, the dubious look remaining in her blue eyes.

Andy stood and went to her desk, taking a plastic package containing a small device from her drawer and returning to her seat beside Miranda. She gave the package to Miranda who looked at it for several moments, clearly trying to figure out what the little blue device was. When she looked at Andy with a puzzled expression and a questioning eyebrow raised, Andy explained.

"It's a finger vibrator. You put it on your finger and then rub it on your clit." Andy tried to ignore the rosy blush that bloomed on Miranda's cheeks. "I suggest you use it while you're with your husband. Since he doesn't seem to want to change his ways, you can use that on yourself so you don't disturb him, but at least you'll be able to feel pleasure by your own hand."

Miranda fidgeted before inspecting the small toy again, her blush still covering her cheeks and cleavage. She finally gave a resigned sigh before nodding.

"I suppose I don't have anything to lose. I - I'll take it."

Andy smiled. "Great. How about we set an appointment for next week? Is Friday good for you?"

Miranda nodded, putting her purchase safely away in her Prada purse.

"Yes, I believe I'll be free at around 6 pm."

Andy took out her phone and checked her calendar. "6 pm next Friday is perfect. My sessions are usually an hour long and I close up at 7, so it works for me."

"Good." Miranda said, standing up and donning her fur coat.

They made their way past the reception area and to the front door, which Andy held open for the silver-haired woman.

"Could I pay you next week?"

"Sure," Andy said, smiling at her.

Miranda gave a curt nod and turned to leave, but just as she passed the threshold she turned and gazed at Andy contemplatively for a moment.

"You don't know who I am, do you? When I came in you didn't recognise me. Not even when I told you my name."

Andy blinked.

"No, sorry, I-I can't say that I know who you are."

Miranda nodded, and then gave Andy a little smile, as if pleased that Andy hadn't recognised her. Andy was entranced by the twinkle that lit up bright blue eyes.

"Until Friday, Andréa."

Then, before Andy could answer her, she swept away down the hall.

Which was just as well, because Andy was left rather speechless after the way that smooth voice had said her name.

Andréa.

Andy blinked, trying hard to get her breath back.

Holy shit.

Chapter Text

It was 6:30, and Andy was just about ready to go home. She glanced once again at her wristwatch, and blew her bangs away from her eyes in annoyance. Her clients were rarely ever late, and if they were they usually made the effort to send a text letting her know. She supposed Miranda did not have her phone number, so Andy could not really hold it against her. She made a mental note to give Miranda her contact details in case she ever needed it.

With nothing else to do, Andy got up and went to the corner of the room towards her brewing area. Putting water to boil, she set about making herself a cup of tea. There was no point in going to an empty apartment, anyways. She loved her studio. It was not only relaxing for her patients, but for her as well. Any time she felt stressed or anxious, she always came here. The plants, the tea, the large windows that let in rays of light, the smell of incense in the air - everything seemed to soothe and comfort her.

Andy was a great therapist, but being so devoted to her job and helping others sometimes brought a certain lonely feeling that would wrap around her like a thick blanket, suffocating her. Whenever she felt this way, she would try her best to move past it, arranging to meet with friends, or calling a loved one, or even just going for a wander in central park. But sometimes she allowed herself to embrace the feeling, and instead of letting it bring her down, she would make her loneliness into something calming and soothing. Andy was a firm believer that all emotions should be embraced - even the so-called 'bad' ones. What's important is how we deal with our emotions. Feeling was a big part of being human, after all.

With her cup of herbal tea in hand, she grabbed one of her favourite books off the shelf - The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith - and made her way to the couch. Setting the cup of tea on the coffee table next to the burning incense, she relaxed back into the thick cushions and wrapped the maroon wool blanket around herself, making herself comfortable to do some leisure reading. Just as she opened the book, the doorbell rang. Andy sighed and glanced at her watch. 6:40 pm. Better late than never, I suppose.

Quickly making her way to the door, she opened it to reveal Miranda on the other side, dressed in a dark grey pant suit and cerulean blouse, posture as tense as always and eyes laser sharp. Without a word of greeting, she pushed past Andy and stormed into the waiting area, making a leeway to the main room. Andy rolled her eyes and followed her before putting on a pleasant smile and doing her best to get into work mode.

When she entered the room Miranda was standing beside the sofa, looking down at the open book and hot cup of tea on the table, and the blanket still sprawled across the sofa. Looking sideways at Andy as she walked in, Miranda raised an eyebrow in question.

"I didn't know if you were coming or not," Andy said. She watched as a faint blush painted Miranda's cheeks, and Andy wanted to smack herself for her poor wording choice. "I figured I might as well relax."

"I was busy at work," Miranda said flatly, almost as if reflexively. Interesting.

Andy shrugged, giving an understanding smile before quickly folding the blanket and placing it over the armrest, then moving the book to the desk across the room, and picking up her cup of tea.

"Would you like some?" She asked, raising her cup slightly as indication.

Miranda narrowed her eyes at the cup.

"It's green herbal tea," Andy explained. "Great for the digestive system. I just fixed a pot."

"Fine," said Miranda with a wave of her fingers.

Quickly fixing another cup, Andy returned to the main area of the room, offering the cup to Miranda, who had already sat down on the sofa. "Here you go."

Miranda looked at her, then at the cup, and nodded her thanks before reaching for it. Andy tried not to react visibly when Miranda's forefinger fleetingly brushed against her pinkie, and she immediately pushed away any thoughts of how soft the older woman's skin felt. Quickly moving away, Andy made a beeline for her armchair, settling in and taking a calming sip of her tea, trying to settle her thoughts.

"So - "

"It didn't work."

Andy's mouth snapped shut. Miranda was glaring at the cup in her hands, as if it was the tea's fault, but then she raised her eyes towards Andy as if demanding an explanation. Andy gave a nod, and settled back, making sure her notebook and pen were by her side.

"Right. That's perfectly fine. It was only a first attempt - "

"How can I be expected to feel comfortable with that plastic thing making that horrible buzzing noise? How can anyone feel anything but mortified when reaching down there while their husband is - is - " Miranda snapped her mouth shut, jaw tense, and looked away with a deep scowl on her face.

Andy swallowed, noting that Miranda seemed more worked up than last week. She focused on relaxing her body as much as possible, knowing that talking to Miranda would be very much like approaching a scared dear. The less threatening Andy seemed, the less Miranda would want to flee.

"I understand, Miranda, I do," she said in the calmest tone she could muster without making it sound like she was talking pitifully to a child. "It's perfectly normal, toys are not for everyone. Don't worry, we can talk about it and come up with another option, okay?"

Miranda exhaled sharply through her nose, but nodded and finally let herself lean back against the sofa cushions.

"If you're alright with it, I'd like to ask you some more questions about your sexual history, so that I can really understand how to help you. Is that okay?"

Another nod.

"Alright. Do you masturbate?"

Blue eyes widened, and the pink blush made another appearance. Andy caught a small twitch near Miranda's right eyebrow, and realised the older woman was very uncomfortable and trying not to show it.

"Hey, it's okay," Andy said with a warm smile. "This is completely confidential, and, believe me, I talk about these things pretty much all day. It's perfectly natural. If you want, I can answer my own questions too so that you're not the only one sharing? I do that quite often and it usually helps my clients feel more comfortable. Would you like that?"

Miranda gave a small nod, but Andy caught the slight lifting of the corner of her lips, and Andy had to take a sip of tea before her mind could freak out about the fact that she had almost gotten a smile from Miranda Priestly. The minimal research she had done on the woman only showed how the press made her into this evil monster, and Andy had not believed a word on it so she decided she'd much rather learn from the source itself.

"Okay. I'll start. I masturbate quite a lot. Each person is different and not everyone will have the same sex drive, but I tend to do it pretty much every day." Andy tried not to laugh at the expression of bewilderment on the other woman's face. Clearly, masturbating daily was a shocking notion for her. Or maybe talking so freely about it. "What about you?"

Clearing her throat, Miranda lifted her chin, almost as if forcing her body language to show a confidence she didn't internally feel. "I don't do it often, no. Usually I'm too busy working, and sometimes it just turns out to be... pointless."

Andy made a quick note of this.

"Fair enough. When was the last time you had an orgasm, self-induced or otherwise?"

Miranda closed her eyes, as if praying for strength. When she opened her eyes, she looked pointedly at Andy and raised her eyebrows.

"Oh! Right, sorry. My last orgasm was last night, actually," Andy said with a smirk as she watched both Miranda's eyebrows rise in something akin to surprise. "Self-induced," she added for good measure, which rewarded her with a huff in response. "What about you?"

A small silence passed as Miranda swallowed thickly and looked down at the cup of tea cradled by her hands on her lap. "About 6 months. Give or take."

Andy was glad Miranda was not looking at her, because she was unable to hide her reaction as her eyes widened in a mixture of shock and horror. 6 months? No wonder she was always so tense. And now Andy understood why she was desperate enough to seek a therapist when it was clearly akin to torture for the other woman to speak about these things. Quickly composing herself, Andy mentally shook herself.

"And was it self-induced?"

Miranda looked up at her and gave her a look that clearly said, "what do you think, idiot?" Andy smiled indulgently and inclined her head in acknowledgement before taking a note of this new information.

"Alright. How many sexual partners have you had? I've had eleven. Four men, seven women."

This time the surprise on the older woman's face was unabashedly clear before she managed to revert back to her unreadable mask, and Andy nearly chuckled.

"Seven," Miranda said, "All men."

This definitely surprised Andy, but she hid it well. Miranda seemed to be in her late forties, perhaps early fifties. Usually people that age had more partners in their sexual history, but then again there was never a correct number. Andy figured that what really surprised her was that a woman as attractive and successful as Miranda had only had seven partners.

"And were any of them able to pleasure you sexually?"

Miranda frowned, and seemed to be thinking hard about her answer.

"Three of them were okay, I suppose. Nothing spectacular, but it wasn't bad. My two husbands have rarely made it... enjoyable for me. And the other two were mistakes, so I would rather not talk about them."

Andy blinked, processing the information before writing it down. "That's alright. It's perfectly fine to set boundaries, but the more I know the better I can help you. Let's move on, have you ever - "

"Not so fast. You didn't answer the question."

Andy looked up from her notes and saw Miranda looking at her expectantly. Oh. "Well, yes, most of them have been able to please me. I would say ten out of the eleven."

"And the last one?" Miranda asked, tilting her head slightly, curiosity clear on her face. Andy tried not to think how adorable she looked like that. Almost like a puppy. A fashionable, intimidating puppy. "I would have thought that someone in your field would have the healthiest sex life possible."

Andy cleared her throat and looked away in embarrassment. "The last one I was too drunk to remember. Bad night. Rather not talk about it."

Miranda nodded at her with an open expression, almost as if in understanding.

Clearing her throat again, Andy took another sip of tea, letting it soothe its way down her throat, making her feel centred again. "Okay, next question. Have you ever had any fantasies?"

Miranda blushed, more deeply than any other time, and she looked away, taking a gulp of her tea almost as if trying to distract herself from the question. Clearly the woman was beyond uncomfortable, so Andy decided to cut her some slack.

"I personally have a pretty big repertoire. I've had fantasies about having sex on the beach, in an office, with a masked stranger, on a rooftop under the stars. I've had fantasies about public sex, some light s&m, and a great deal of women. Cate Blanchett is a particular favourite of mine. Oh! And a few threesomes here and there. What about you?"

Miranda was looking at her with shocked eyes and gaping mouth, and expression Andy wished she could engrave in her mind, because she had never seen a less dignified and composed expression on the woman before. Then Miranda blinked and seemed to shake herself.

"Well, as I said, I don't masturbate much, but I suppose I've had a few fantasies. Most of the time I don't really focus on the other person, but I do remember having a few images of having sex with - um - women, I suppose."

Keeping a straight face took a herculean effort, so Andy distracted herself by taking a note of this. To her surprise, Miranda continued speaking.

"But I have never felt attracted to a woman in real life. And as I said, I rarely have fantasies, least of all the past few years."

That caught Andy's attention.

"Why do you think that is? Why have these past few years been different?"

Miranda rolled her eyes as if she was dealing with the most incompetent fool she had ever met. "My body has changed a great deal. I don't look the way I used to when I was younger." She shrugged, and began to play with her necklace. "And my husband has made sure I know this. It is difficult to have sex in mind when you feel so... old and unattractive."

"What?" Andy blurted before she could stop herself, not even managing to hide her disbelief.

Miranda's eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. "I said - "

"No, I know what you said. I apologise, that was a very unprofessional reaction. And I'm sorry if I'm speaking way out of line here but, Miranda, I don't know what your husband has told you to make you believe you look old and unattractive because that is utter bullshit." Andy saw Miranda's eyebrows shoot up and she jerked back, almost as if Andy's words had physically shocked her.

"Oh."

They stared at each other for a moment, Andy trying to pull herself together and get back into her professional boundaries, Miranda trying to process the young woman's words and trying to hide the blush that was quickly rising up her chest onto her cheeks. Damn her pale complexion.

Andy cleared her throat and shook her head, looking back at her notes. "Anyways, it's completely normal to have a decrease in sex drive at certain stages in life. We can't expect to always have the same desires and amount of sexual drive, can we? It's completely natural." She smiled, hoping to come across as comforting and not as if she was laughing at the older woman.

By the way Miranda's eyes softened and her lips curled up into a small smile, Andy guessed her message had been received.

"Okay, last question, I promise. And then we can talk a little more about your husband and you, if you're up for it. Have you ever experimented sexually?" At Miranda's confused frown, Andy clarified. "Have you ever tried new things with your partners? Brought in toys, tried role playing, taken sex outside the bedroom, experimented with kinks, tried anything that was different than the missionary position?"

Miranda blinked, and it was enough answer for Andy. She smiled reassuringly and made a quick note of it before sitting up and gesturing towards Miranda's empty cup.

"Would you like another one?"

Miranda shook her head and handed Andy the cup. Andy tried to quench the disappointment she felt when their fingers didn't brush. She rushed to the brewing area, putting their empty cups on the side to be washed later. As she made her way back to her seat, she mentally scolded herself for wishing to have physical contact with a client. Especially a married one who was clearly in a great deal of turmoil in her marriage. Andy really needed to get her shit together.

"Right," Andy said, sitting back down and easing back into the cushions, welcoming the comfort and warmth. "What about you and your husband? Have you ever spoken about your sex life?"

Miranda shook her head.

"Has he ever talked to you about his fantasies, his desires, his turn-ons? Or has he ever asked you about yours?"

Again, Miranda shook her head, and Andy watched as she began to play with her bracelet again the same way she had last week.

" I apologise in advance if the question offends you, but believe me, it's a common question I ask all my patients with partners. Has he ever been unfaithful?"

Miranda immediately went stiff as a board, her eyes lowered to the coffee table before her, and her jaw seemed to clench so hard Andy was surprised she did not hear her teeth shatter. She waited in silence, feeling like Miranda had to express herself without interruption at her own pace. All this stress in one body clearly showed that Miranda did not express her emotions very often, and that was very important for one's sex drive. Everything was connected: if one's mind and soul are at peace, then the body is at peace. If the body feels that way, then it can respond better to pleasure. Andy closed her notebook and set her hands on her lap, feeling like this was something Miranda would not like Andy to write about. Andy calmly breathed deeply as she waited.

"Yes." Miranda rasped, and Andy truthfully was not surprised. A man that makes no effort to please his wife, and also makes her feel like there is something wrong with her or her body cannot be a very faithful gentleman.

When Andy realised that Miranda would offer no further information, she decided to speak.

"Would you like to talk about it?"

Another stretch of silence filled the room as Andy watched Miranda watch the coffee table.

"He doesn't know I know. I've caught him a few times coming home very late at night, smelling of alcohol and women's perfume. I've seen some of his shirts with lipstick stains on the necklines. One time I even found a pair of underwear in the guest bedroom, and it certainly was not mine." Miranda let out a huff of breath, and then went silent, looking lost in thought.

After a few more moments, Andy continued questioning further. "How long have you known?"

"About nine months now."

Andy was surprised. It was uncommon for someone to be aware of their partner's infidelity for nine months without doing anything about it, or even acknowledging it with their partner.

"May I ask why you have not confronted him about it?"

Finally, Miranda raised her eyes to meet Andy's, and in the blue depths there was a deep melancholy that threatened to break Andy's heart in two.

"My girls. I can't put them through another divorce. Not again. They've been through so much already - " Miranda's voice caught, and she looked away again.

Andy swallowed, trying to keep professional even though her gut told her to go to the woman and take her in her arms, give her comfort, and tell her he does not deserve you. Instead she clenched her hands and took a fortifying breath.

"Is he their father?"

"No. Their father is Greg, my first husband. Stephen has been their stepfather for nearly three years now."

"And are they happy?"

Miranda's head snapped up, and her eyes turned dark in a way that made Andy's stomach drop. Clearly she had said something wrong.

"How dare you question my daughters' happiness?" Miranda's voice was low and cold as ice, and the brutal effect it had on Andy made the young woman almost tremble. "Do you think I would not try my hardest to make them happy? Do you think I'm so heartless that I would neglect my own children?" Miranda spat, her words seething with so much contempt that Andy felt her throat close up the way it always did before she cried.

"What? Miranda - "

"How dare you judge me when you don't even know me? Who do you think you are?" Miranda stood up brusquely, grabbing her purse and making her way around the coffee table and towards the doorway. "Clearly I have been wasting my time here - "

"Miranda, wait!" Andy said, jumping from her seat and grabbing the older woman's wrist, keeping her in place.

Miranda whirled around, and looked down at the hand holding her wrist as if she had never seen anything like it before. She looked up into Andy's eyes, her rage and shock evident in her sharp eyes.

"Miranda, whatever you interpreted from that question, I am deeply sorry for the misunderstanding. I was in no way questioning your parenting, I do not think you're heartless. Far from it. You're here, spending your time doing something that clearly is way out of your comfort zone, just to make your marriage work. I'm sure you love your children more than anything. It was never my intention to question that, I'm sorry."

Miranda looked from Andy's face to the hand still gently clasped around her wrist, then back up to her face again. The terrible darkness had left blue eyes, but she still looked sceptical.

"Please, stay. Let's talk about this, okay? I promise, I'm here to help you, not judge you in any way."

That seemed to be the right thing to say, because Miranda's shoulders lost some of their stiffness, and she left out a deep breath before nodding slightly and making her way back to the sofa. Andy's fingertips tingled even after she released Miranda's wrist.

"Okay, let me try that again. Does Stephen make them happy?"

Miranda blinked in surprise, as if she had never even thought about the question.

"I think so. Or at least I'd like to think he does. When I told them I was marrying him they didn't really react. They just accepted it and did not comment upon it. These past few years they have been rather... rebellious. Especially towards my assistants, they have a knack for pranking them." At this, Miranda's lips twitched as if hiding a proud smile, and Andy had to supress a grin just at the sight of it. But then Miranda frowned and her face became serious again. "I suppose, now that I think about it, they may not love him as much as a child should love their step parent. They hardly spend time together just the three of them, and a lot of the time they don't even talk to him all that much. But I suppose that can be due to their age. They've just turned thirteen, after all. Puberty is hardly parent-friendly, is it?" Miranda shrugged a shoulder, and then went quiet.

Andy gazed at her for several moments, trying to figure out where to go from here, and how to avoid messing up like she had just a moment ago. She did not want to push Miranda away, or make her feel like she was responsible for any grief her children may have. Obviously Miranda saw that Andy had something to say, because she rolled her eyes and said, "What?"

Andy gathered courage, and went right for it.

"Do you think that maybe they would be happier without a step father?" When Miranda's eyes narrowed, Andy jumped in to clarify. "Just, hypothetically, for the sake of talking about this more in depth. Imagine if Stephen had never come into the picture. What do you think they would be like now?"

Miranda tilted her head again in that puppy dog way, and she put her tongue in her cheek before vocalising her thoughts. "Well, Greg and I divorced when they were five years old. They took it hard at first, of course, but they soon adapted and we were happy, the three of us. I got us Patricia, our St Bernard, and we were happy. Even though I worked a lot, we were a family." Miranda smiled, and her eyes got lost in reminiscences for a moment before she continued. "When they were ten I met Stephen, and I felt that having a father figure would make our family more complete. So I married him. And from that point onward the girls began to grow more distant. Cassidy began to act out at school, and Caroline spent most of her days reading and ignoring everything around her. I started working more, and..." She drifted off, her eyes lost and brow furrowed, her lips turning down into a near scowl.

Andy gave her a few moments to process this realisation. It seemed that Miranda had to talk about this to truly figure out that perhaps Stephen was not the best option for neither her nor her daughters. Andy did not know him personally, but from the way he treated Miranda, she knew enough. And from what Miranda just told Andy, it seemed that Miranda's children might be better off without him too.

"Miranda," she said softly, and the older woman looked up at her, looking lost and alone. Andy hated the sight. "May I speak freely?" Miranda nodded slightly, and Andy leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and looking deeply into attentive blue eyes, hoping that her own were as sincere as they could be. "From what you just told me, it seems to me that you were a complete family just the three of you, and Patricia." Miranda blinked slowly, as if this was the first time she had even considered the notion. "Not every family has to be the way society has told you they should be. Sometimes, the most loving families are the ones that don't follow the norm. From a psychological perspective, it seems to me that your daughters were much happier before Stephen entered the picture, do you think that might be true?" Andy paused, letting Miranda absorb her words. "I don't personally know your daughters, so I'm speaking hypothetically here, but maybe all your daughters need is you."

Miranda blinked again, and then looked away, lost in thought once again. Andy waited patiently, but she had a feeling the session was over. Glancing at the clock hanging on the wall opposite her, she realised they had been here for well over an hour, and it was nearly 8 pm. She looked back at Miranda. The older woman was still deep in thought, her brow furrowed once again so that a wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows, and when she unconsciously started to run her index finger across her lower lip, Andy knew she had to do something or she would not be able to keep her sanity.

As quietly and seamlessly as possible, she stood from the chair and went about the room, blowing out the candles sitting on the shelves and the desk, and then she set about gathering all her things to take home with her - notebook, novel, phone, coat, bag. Once she had everything she hung her things on the hook by the door and once again took her seat in the armchair facing the couch.

"Miranda?"

The older woman finally seemed to come back to herself and she looked up at Andy, then down at her wristwatch.

"Oh. Right. I need to get home, I promised my daughters we would have a movie night tonight."

Andy smiled at that. "That sounds like a lovely evening."

Miranda nodded and stood, grabbing her purse and smoothing down her pantsuit. Andy tried not to think about how good the outfit looked on the other woman, or how the top few buttons of the shirt were left undone, leaving a fair expanse of smooth skin on display.

"Stephen is away for the weekend on a business trip. Although God knows what kind of business he's getting up to." She smirked humorously at Andy, as if Stephen's infidelity had become a sort of inside joke, and even though Andy knew it was unprofessional, she could not help grinning back. How could she not, when Miranda's eyes were twinkling like that, and when her mouth was curved in such a lovely way? It made Andy feel special, and she hated it. This is a client, not a friend, or anything else for that matter. Andy would be good to remember that.

"How much is it?" Miranda asked, reaching into her purse for her wallet.

"Oh, um," Andy stuttered. She always felt awkward at this point, because to be perfectly honest, Andy didn't really do it for the money. Especially not with Miranda. She was quickly becoming Andy's most intriguing client, even though she was probably the most complex case Andy had studied in the past several months. "It's a hundred and twenty dollars an hour." Without even batting an eyelid, Miranda gave her three hundred dollars, which caused Andy to pause in confusion. "Um, Miranda? This is too much."

"Nonsense. I came here last week without an appointment and I did not pay you for the session, nor the, um, toy. And I'm well aware you spent more than an hour of your time with me today."

Andy blinked, but Miranda arched an eyebrow as if challenging her. Something told her that whatever Miranda wanted, Miranda got.

"Alright, if you're sure. Thanks." Miranda waved off her thanks, and Andy slipped the money into her bag with a grin.

"Same time next week?" Andy asked as they made their way out of the room and across the waiting area towards the front door.

"I will have to check with my assistant, she's the one who really knows my schedule in detail."

"No problem," said Andy, reaching into her pocket and giving Miranda her card. "Here are my details, you can call or text any time."

Miranda took it, and the way she looked at Andy made her feel warm inside.

"Thank you, Andrea."

Andy's heart stopped for a millisecond, and to hide her blush she moved forward to open the door for her client.

"You're more than welcome. See you next time, Miranda," Andy said with a warm smile.

"Goodbye," Miranda said, gave Andy her own rare, small smile, and then left, leaving a faint scent of light, delicious perfume behind.

Andy shut the door and leaned her head against it, taking a deep breath.

What the hell am I getting myself into?

Chapter Text

Andy jerked into consciousness, not sure what exactly had made her startle awake. Blinking and shaking her head, she finally heard the reason for waking up: her phone was ringing. Glancing at her alarm clock, she groaned when she saw it was 2 am. Sitting up, she grabbed her phone off the nightstand and took the call.

"H'llo?" She mumbled, covering up a yawn and rubbing her eyes, trying to wake herself up enough to have a relatively normal human conversation.

"Andréa."

Andy was awake immediately.

"Miranda? Is everything okay?"

There was a long silence on the other end of the line, before Miranda's quiet voice finally said, "No."

Andy bit her lip. It was Sunday night - or Monday morning, as it were - and she had not expected to hear from Miranda so soon after her appointment.

"What happened?" She asked softly, trying her best to sound comforting.

"My husband. He came home from his business trip a few hours ago. He was drunk. Again. He wanted-" Andy heard the older woman take a shuddering breath. "He wanted to sleep with me, but when he got near I could smell another woman on him." Andy clenched her jaw. Seriously, why were men like this? "I refused him, and he got furious. I've never seen him like that before."

Andy curled her hand into a fist around her duvet, trying to calmly breathe through the sinking feeling that weighed heavily on her chest.

"Miranda? Did he do anything?"

"No." Miranda said, but the slight tremble in her voice conveyed she was more shaken up than she was willing to say. "No, he didn't hurt me, nothing like that. He would never do that. He just said some things and I-" There was another sigh. "Would you mind if we schedule a session today?"

"Of course, Miranda. My last appointment ends at 7 so I'm available after that, or I have two free hours from one till three, whenever is convenient for you."

"I think I'm free at one, I will text you tomorrow morning when I know for certain."

"Absolutely, no problem. Do you want to talk more now, or would you rather speak in person tomorrow?"

There was a small silence, and Andy felt like that was enough of an answer.

"Where is he now?" She asked.

"In the guest room, of course."

This surprised Andy. Of course?

"Does he usually stay in the guest room?"

"Yes, he moved there about a year ago." Interesting, but maybe not entirely surprising.

"Do you mind me asking why?"

"I find it difficult to sleep with other people. I tolerated it because I did not want the girls thinking there was anything wrong, but eventually it got too tiring, and Stephen said he wanted his own space in the house, so he sleeps there."

Andy resisted the urge to sigh in exasperation. It seemed obvious to Andy that there were far greater problems in their marriage than just their sex life if they couldn't even sleep together in the same room.

"Do you do any yoga or meditation?"

There was a short silence on the other end of the line. Andy got a feeling that Miranda had not expected the question.

"I used to do yoga, yes. But I stopped doing it in order to do pilates instead."

"Why did you decide to make that change?"

"I loved yoga, but with my body aging I needed a more rigorous exercise to keep my shape."

"I see," said Andy, trying to push away the nagging voice in her head that said Miranda had a terrific figure anyways. "Have you considered combining the two? I do yoga regularly and it deeply helps with my well being and my peace of mind."

"I would, but I don't have the time. I'm a very busy woman."

"I understand." There was a short silence, as Andy did not know where to take the conversation from here. It was difficult reading the other woman without actually being able to see her. "Do you usually stay up so late?"

Miranda made what sounded almost like a chuckle, and Andy had to clench her fist again to keep from melting right on the spot.

"Unfortunately, yes. My work is very demanding, and I've suffered from insomnia since before my girls were born."

Andy reached over to her nightstand, grabbed her pen and notebook, and quickly wrote down everything she had learned about Miranda during this conversation.

"I know what that’s like. Insomnia can be a pain, huh?"

Miranda hummed. "Indeed."

Andy smiled, and there was a comfortable silence, as if they were sharing something mutual. Andy had no idea what else to say.

"I should probably let you go back to sleep. I imagine you have a very busy day tomorrow," Miranda said softly.

"Not as busy as yours, I imagine. I hope you get some rest," Andy said, trailing her fingers over the pattern of her duvet.

"I hope so too," Miranda let out an almost imperceptible sigh, but Andy heard it nonetheless.

"Miranda?" Andy said, feeling a strange impulse to give the other woman comfort.

"Yes?"

"Everything is going to be okay. We'll work this out, and things will get better. I promise."

There was a short silence as Andy held her breath.

"Thank you, Andrea," Miranda murmured so softly Andy was barely able to hear it.

"Good night, Miranda."

"Good night."

There was a click on the other line, and Andy dropped her phone back on her nightstand. She flopped back down and rubbed her face with her hands, groaning.

The next two hours were spent rolling awake in bed, thoughts of Miranda plaguing her mind.

 

.oOo.

 

One o'clock came much quicker than Andy had expected, and before she knew it she was opening the door to let Miranda into her studio. Today she wore a black dress with a wide belt across the middle, and an array of necklaces that Andy was sure Miranda would use to fidget with. Andy tried her best not to let her eyes wander to Miranda's chest so beautifully adorned, or down to her shapely calves that ended in enticing ankles above five inch heels.

Andy swallowed. "Miranda! Good to see you. Come in."

Miranda walked into the room, and Andy had to smile triumphantly. This was the first time they had exchanged niceties instead of Miranda simply barging in. Clearly last Friday's session had made the woman more comfortable around Andy. Or perhaps she had simply realised that Andy genuinely wanted to help her. Andy hoped both were true.

They sat in their usual places, and Andy noticed with satisfaction that this time Miranda did not hesitate to lean back against the plush sofa, even though her posture was as rigid as always.

"Tea?"

Miranda shook her head, so Andy sat in her seat quietly, letting Miranda initiate this session. Perhaps her having control over the conversation would make her feel more comfortable.

"Last night," Miranda said, clearing her throat lightly and already fidgeting with her necklaces. "Stephen came home late, and I knew he had been with another woman. He was drunk, as he so often is lately. He grabbed me and I pushed him away, and when he continued to insist, I pushed him so hard he nearly fell. That's when he started screaming that I-" Miranda swallowed thickly, and Andy watched her intently, giving Miranda all her attention. "That I'm a frigid bitch. He said it was no wonder nobody loves me, and that maybe I should go see a psychiatrist to deal with my issues."

Andy sucked in a breath before closing her eyes and counting to ten. It was moments like this that she hated her job. There were so many ruthless, cruel people in the world, and sometimes Andy felt completely useless, because she knew that no matter how hard she worked, or how many hours she devoted to helping others, she could not erase the evil in the world, let alone her clients' lives. When she opened her eyes, Miranda was watching her thoughtfully with an expression Andy could not entirely decipher.

"And what did you respond?" Andy watched as Miranda lifted her chin in a proud gesture and the corner of her mouth twitched as an amused twinkle appeared in her blue eyes.

"I told him that if he was better in bed, perhaps he wouldn't find me so frigid."

Andy's mouth dropped open, and she couldn't help but letting out a guffaw before slapping her hand across her mouth, trying to muffle a laugh. To her pleasure, Miranda's expression became even more amused, and Andy nearly lost her breath when the older woman gave a lopsided grin before pursing her lips. Yet her eyes shone with mirth, and Andy realised she was trying not to laugh. She tried not to melt. Andy took a deep breath, trying to pull herself together.

"Wow. Sorry, but that was probably the best response you could have possibly given."

"I am by no means a passive damsel," Miranda said, her voice lowering slightly and sounding just a little bit dangerous.

"I never thought you were," Andy said, smiling, and Miranda seemed to fill up with pride again. "So, what happened after that?"

The amusement was gone almost as quickly as it had come, and Miranda became serious once more. Blue eyes lost focus, and Andy saw a melancholy there that made her want to go up to this Stephen guy and give him a few serious words. Or punches.

"He said that maybe if I was more lovable and less of a workaholic bitch he would find me more attractive," Miranda shrugged with one shoulder, but Andy could see that Stephen's words hurt. "Then he stormed off and locked himself in his room. I haven't seen him since."

Andy stayed quiet, feeling like Miranda was not quite finished. A moment later, she was rewarded with a deep sigh that seemed to come from the very depths of Miranda's being.

"I don't think there's going back from this. I think... I think I better speak to my girls. I have no doubt that eventually Stephen is going to file for a divorce, and after last night's events, I have a feeling it will happen sooner rather than later."

Miranda fell silent, and Andy couldn't witness her defeated posture any longer. She got up and went to the desk at the other end of the room. Opening the right hand drawer, she extracted two glasses and a bottle of scotch her father had given her for her birthday before walking back towards the sitting area, where she decided to sit on the couch instead of her usual place. After filling both glasses with a fair amount of the amber liquid, she handed one to Miranda. At the raised eyebrow she received, Andy smiled widely and lifted her class in cheers.

"To new beginnings then."

Miranda blinked, and her face and shoulders seemed to relax before clinking her glass to Andy's and taking a sip of the drink, humming in delight at the quality and smoothness of it. Andy took a sip of her own drink, lowering her eyes and trying not to visibly react to Miranda's response to the scotch.

"He hasn't divorced me yet." Miranda said good-naturedly.

Andy chuckled. "Why are you waiting for him to do it? He's the one that has been unfaithful."

Miranda tilted her head, considering this. "I don't know. I think, perhaps, he would make the divorce process easier if he felt like he's the one who walked out."

Andy hummed in acknowledgement, then huffed, shaking her head. "Men and their egos."

"I'll drink to that," Miranda mumbled, before taking a generous swallow.

"So, what now?" Asked Andy, afraid of the answer. If Miranda no longer had a husband, perhaps she would no longer need a sex therapist. Andy decided she didn't like that thought.

"You tell me. You're the therapist, aren't you?"

Andy grinned. How had talking to this woman become so easy, so quickly? Andy had thought it would take a lot more for the woman to relax in her presence. Apparently not.

"Well, it depends on you. Would you like to continue the sessions even after the divorce?"

Miranda paused, looking at her glass thoughtfully before raising her face to look directly at Andy.

"Yes, I think I'd like that."

Andy smiled. "Good."

Miranda's lips quirked, and Andy felt a weight lifted off her shoulders.

Good.

 

.oOo.

 

They continued sipping their drinks in comfortable silence, and Andy relaxed into the sofa. She could feel the tingling of the alcohol making her feel lighter, and by the way Miranda had slumped back, finally allowing herself to relax against the cushions as if all the tension had left her body, Andy guessed the older woman was feeling much the same. Andy couldn't deny that in some cases alcohol was far more helpful than herbal tea. After several quiet moments of each woman being lost in their own thoughts, Miranda spoke.

"How did you end up here?" Andy frowned in confusion, and Miranda rolled her eyes. "Why did you decide to become a sex therapist? It's not a very common career choice, is it?"

Andy bit her lip and took a moment to think about her answer.

"After I turned 18," she began, slowly, considering her words. "It started to annoy me how some people had this closed-off attitude towards sex, as if it was something dirty and secret, as if it wasn't the most natural thing between two people who share an attraction, or love. I hated how people shamed women especially, simply for liking sexual pleasure. I never understood what was so bad about seeking that and being happy and comfortable in your sexuality." She paused, biting her lip as she thought about what she was going to say next.

"When I came out as bisexual, some people started treating me different. As if my sexuality was a lie, as if I was a whore that liked to have sex with everything that moved. It made me angry because such a close-minded attitude is simply immature, and even if I did have sex with a lot of people, so what? I didn't understand all these prejudices. And then I began to realise that these kinds of attitudes eventually affects people's ability to speak freely about a very important subject, to the point where many live their life without a healthy sex life, all because society is afraid to talk about it and teach people how to take care of ourselves regarding this very basic, natural thing." Andy stopped, realising she was rambling, and looked up to see Miranda watching her attentively. The older woman clearly saw her hesitation, because she nodded in a gesture to continue. "So I went to university and got a degree in psychology, and then got a masters in sexology. From there it took me about two years to get to where I am now, building a reputation for myself, writing, doing research... I love my job, but what I love most is knowing that I've had a positive impact on someone's life, that I've helped them feel better about themselves and have healthier relationships."

Miranda's face softened, but her eyes never left Andy's. "You have helped me."

Andy couldn't stop the brilliant smile that took over her face, and her heart jumped when Miranda gave a small smile in return. "That's good. I'm glad."

There was another short silence as Andy's mind raced. Whatever she had thought of Miranda when they had first met, it was fading away the more she got to know the other woman. She was anything but a scared deer. She'd had terrible luck with the men she chose, yes, but it seemed clear to Andy that she had an incredibly strong will and resilience, and such a deep love for her daughters that she married a douche bag, and then put herself through therapy to make that marriage work. Andy found her inspiring, and the more she learned about the woman, the more she wanted to find out.

"You know, you still haven't actually told me what you do," Andy said, twisting sideways and leaning her elbow against the back of the couch so she could prop her head on her fist.

"Oh, you haven't figured it out yet? I would have guessed that someone as thorough as you would have done some googling at least." Miranda said, but the warmth in her eyes let Andy know she was merely teasing.

Andy shrugged. "I'd rather learn for myself. Other people's opinions are their own, and often useless."

"Ah," Miranda nodded. "So you've read some of the things the press says about me."

Andy grinned and raised an eyebrow, imitating an expression she had seen on Miranda multiple times now. "Dragon Lady?"

Miranda raised an eyebrow as well, copying the expression, but looking far more regal and intimidating than Andy could ever hope to achieve. "Indeed."

"I think there's more to you than meets the eye. I highly doubt the press knows you all that well."

Miranda waved her hand, and Andy was entranced by the rings that adorned elegant long fingers. "They see what I want them to see."

"Ohh," Andy said, snapping her fingers comically as if she'd just had a brilliant revelation. "So it's an act."

"Not exactly. Some things are true. I'm well aware I'm very serious and even ruthless when it comes to my job. But I would not be where I am without such strictness. If my employees cannot complete their tasks adequately, then they should not be employed."

Andy nodded. "Fair enough. I bet if you were a man, the only thing people would see is how great a boss you are."

Miranda hummed, her eyebrows raised as if it were the first time she had heard anyone say this to her face.

"You still haven't actually told me what you do, though. Is it a secret?" Andy teased. Not knowing where this courage or playfulness was coming from, she leaned forward with a comically awed expression. "Are you a spy? I could totally see you doing the whole James Bond lifestyle."

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes. "Good God, no, don't be ridiculous." Andy chuckled, enjoying the light-hearted conversation. She had no idea when this session had turned into a more social chat, but she wasn't about to question it. "And it is most definitely not a secret. I'm the Editor in Chief of Runway."

Andy bit her lip, wrecking her brain to think back on where she had heard of that magazine before. "Oh! That's a fashion magazine, right? I've seen it several times in the stand where I usually buy the newspaper."

Miranda inclined her head. "That's the one. It is the best-selling fashion magazine in America, probably the world."

Andy raised her eyebrows and whistled. "And you're in charge of that, huh? Must be a great deal of responsibility."

"Thus, the long hours and busy life."

Andy nodded. "Well, I can't say I'm surprised. Everything I've seen you wear is beyond fashionable. I don't even want to think about the size of your wardrobe."

Miranda smirked. "Suffice to say, I had to make one of the guest bedrooms into a closet because I needed the extra space."

"Wow. That's - wow. I can't even imagine what your reaction would be if you saw my closet. It's tiny, and I've never really known much about fashion." Andy cringed. "I think you'd probably jump straight out the window if you saw some of the outfits I used to wear around campus when I was in college."

Miranda chuckled. "There is always room for improvement. And I've been told I can be highly critical. Or, in other words, 'bitchy'".

Andy gave a bark of laughter. "I will never understand the double standards people place on men and women doing their jobs. Talk about immaturity."

"You can say that again," Miranda drawled, and then caught sight of the clock on the wall. "Oh. Is that the time?"

Andy twisted around to look at the clock behind her, and had to force her jaw not to fall open. It was nearly 3 pm.

"Shoot! I have a client coming in ten minutes," she looked at Miranda apologetically, but she waved Andy off.

"It's perfectly fine. I’ve taken nearly two hours of your time, after all. I have a budget meeting to get to anyways. Although, to quote you, I would rather fling myself from a window."

Andy laughed and stood, gathering their empty glasses and the bottle, quickly putting them away before walking Miranda to the front door.

"Good luck with that," Andy said. "And, as you already know, you can call any time."

Miranda turned to face Andy under the threshold, handed her two hundred and forty dollars, and smiled warmly at Andy in a way that had her heart thudding in her chest.

"Thank you for this, Andrea." Her voice sounded so sincere and soft, Andy felt her cheeks warm in pleasure.

"Any time, Miranda."

The older woman nodded. "Goodbye."

"Bye," Andy said, raising her hand and giving a small wave as she watched Miranda turn and walk away.

Andy bit her lip, her mind racing over the past two hours, and closed her eyes.

God help me.

Chapter Text

Andy woke up late Tuesday morning. She didn't have any clients until 1 pm, so she had allowed herself a rare lie in. She stretched her limbs, feeling a few joints pop before letting herself fall limp back on the bed. Andy gave a deep sigh, enjoying the quiet of her apartment, basking in the sunlight streaming in through the window and the very faint sounds of traffic in the distance. It was nearly ten, so Andy reached for her phone to check on any new messages.

A text from her parents asking how things were going, which she answered quickly, and a text from Doug asking her if she was free for drinks later. So nothing that required her immediate attention. She tapped the Chrome app on her phone, and the page came up with the latest search.

She shot up, her body tensing then trembling, feeling her stomach drop, a sense of dread and panic suffocating her.

Ice Queen drives away another Mr Priestly.

Heart pounding in her ears, Andy tapped open the article from Page Six.

We called it folks! After three years of marriage, the latest Mr Priestly has finally had enough. For those of you living under a rock, this fallen hero is called Stephen Tomilson. Why hero? Because he had the guts to marry one Miranda Priestly, notorious Editor in Chief of Runway magazine, Dragon Lady extraordinaire. Why fallen? Because a little bird told us he is divorcing La Priestly once and for all.

Our sources tell us that the Ice Queen is not only cold in her work demeanour, but also in the sheets! Can we really blame Mr Tomilson for finally walking out after three years of marriage to the most difficult Editor in the history of fashion? Not really. Read more of our exclusive little story on pages 6-8!

Andy's phone fell from her limp hands. This could not be happening. How could the press be so cruel? How did they even find out-

Miranda.

Andy snatched her phone back up, and with shaky fingers went on her phone call history. Shit shit shit! Spotting Miranda's number, she pressed call and pressed it to her ear, closing her eyes. Please pick up.

It rang for a mere two seconds before Andy was put straight to voicemail.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Andy spent a good part of the morning trying to call Miranda, but every time she did she got put straight through to voice mail after only a few rings. Andy berated herself, scolding her ludicrous mind for making her so anxious over a client.

What if Miranda though she had told the press? What if she thought that Andy was the "very secret but very reliable source" that had given Page Six the information to humiliate and degrade Miranda? Andy had to take a deep breath just to keep from feeling nauseous. She hated feeling like this. And why the fuck did Miranda refuse to take her calls? It was driving Andy crazy.

She needed to meditate. Clear her head. She had a client coming in an hour and a half, and if Andy didn't pull herself together she would be in no right state of mind to help anyone. Going to a small closet in the corner of the room, Andy took out a yoga mat before going to her desk drawer and getting a new stick of incense. After setting out the mat on the empty space between the back of the sofa and the huge desk, Andy lit the incense and sat in front of it on the floor, legs crossed and posture straight. Focusing on her breathing, she worked on relaxing her body and her mind, seeking to soothe her anxiety and clear her mind.

After half an hour of meditating, Andy felt slightly better, less torn up in turmoil. She was not sure if trying to call Miranda again was a particularly good idea, but she was in a better state of mind now, so Andy felt confident that she could handle it if Miranda didn't pick up, she would be able to deal with it.

Reaching for her phone, she dialled the number she had called seven times already. It rang once.

Twice.

Three times.

Andy's heart leapt as the dial tone stopped and she didn't hear the mechanical voicemail. Instead,

"Stop. Calling."

And then the monotone sound of rejection. Andy sat with her phone still pressed to her ear, listening to the excruciating silence of Miranda.

She had sounded seething. Her voice had been the coldest Andy had ever heard it, and the dangerous timber hiding a dark rage made Andy's eyes sting.

Standing up, she slowly moved towards the couch, and then dropped limply onto it, her body suddenly feeling slack and heavy. How had this happened? How could Miranda think Andy could betray her trust - that Andy would go against her very basic rule of confidentiality and professionalism? How could Miranda think so little of her? Had their short time together really meant nothing? Had Miranda been blind to Andy this whole time?

Andy felt anger be swept into the mix of her chaotic emotions. The fact that Miranda would not even talk to her made it worse. She had simply jumped to her conclusions without giving Andy a chance to prove that she had not done anything wrong. Andy took a deep breath, trying to calm her raging mind, and focusing on what she could do. There was no point in being angry at the other woman, Andy was still going to try to prove she was on Miranda's side. Even if it was just for the benefit of Miranda not suing the shit out of her for confidentiality breach.

A plan began forming in her mind, and Andy was finally able to relax, knowing that no matter what Miranda thought, Andy was going to prove her wrong.

 

.oOo.

 

Luckily for Andy, her last two clients of the day called to cancel last minute. Family emergencies and being stuck out of town due to a blizzard seemed like pretty good excuses, so Andy was out of the office by five. She made a quick stop by the cafeteria just down the street for her studio. There, she treated herself to a croissant, a cup of nice warm coffee, and a BLT sandwich. Tipping the waiter after finishing her dinner, Andy was out on the street again, heading towards the subway station.

Twenty minutes later, she stood in front of a tall building that seemed to be made entirely of glass, the sun reflecting off the surface in rays of evening light. According to Google, this was it. Andy felt the urge to flee, wondering if her plan may be a regrettable one, but then again, what did she have to lose?

Andy marched into the building, head held high in self-assured steps. She had learned long ago that, with confidence, a bright smile, and a little bit of luck Andy could get in to almost everywhere, an important skill she had learnt at college (trying to get into clubs under the age of 21 was a nightmare,after all). So Andy strode forward and managed to slip just behind someone who swiped past security as if she was meant to be there. When she'd reached the elevators, Andy allowed her mouth to gape slightly. That had been surprisingly easy. Despite her confidence, Andy had been pretty convinced things could go south very easily. What kind of security was that?

She rode the elevator up to the 17th floor, and when she stepped out she nearly lost her footing at the sight of the elegant white space that was Runway. With glass everywhere and a minimalistic design, Andy could easily imagine Miranda being the ruler of this place. She went to the front desk, where a tall, slender woman looked at her questioningly.

"May I help you?" The young blonde said, and Andy tried not to be put off by her lack of friendliness.

"Yes, I'm looking for Miranda Priestly."

The blonde's expression became even more bored than before. "Do you have an appointment?"

"No, but she called me requesting to see me. It's an emergency regarding her husband."

Andy tried not to cringe at the half lie, but if it got her to Miranda then she was willing to risk it. The blonde narrowed her eyes and looked her up and down, but then she blandly said, "Take the first door to your left, and go down the hall before taking the third to your right. It's all straight from there."

Andy smiled. "Thank you."

Quickly making her way down the path the receptionist had indicated, Andy tried not to gape at the things she saw around her. People were hurrying about, she could hear phones ringing as she passed glass offices, art studios, and rooms filled with fashion sketches and clothes in racks. It was like entering a different planet. Or a very sophisticated space ship.

Before she knew it, she was entering another reception area with two desks, one of them empty, the one on the right hosting a young woman talking frantically on the phone, her complexion pale and her brow tight as her eyes stared unblinkingly at her computer screen. Andy looked into the office ahead of her. Tall window panels let in a soft light that encased in a warm glow a beautiful glass desk and high black chair that was turned away from the entrance. And that's when Andy noticed the elegant calves extending from the seat to the floor ending in a pair of tall black heels with a blood red sole.

Andy swallowed.

Quickly moving past the assistant still anxiously talking on the phone and typing furiously, Andy entered the regal office. The Queen's lair.

"Hey! You can't go in there!" The assistant said, her voice tight and shrill.

The black chair whirled around, bringing into view a glaring Miranda. Andy watched as the cold expression on the older woman's face broke to fleetingly show surprise before the walls smacked back into place and Andy was at the receiving end of a gut-churning glare.

"I didn't do it, Miranda."

Miranda's eyes narrowed further.

The assistant's voice came from behind Andy, as if she had stood up and was walking towards them. "I'm sorry, Miranda, she just walked in..." Andy whirled around and scowled at the other woman.

"Give us a minute," she said, trying to sound as authoritative as she could.

The assistant looked away from Andy to look past her shoulder, no doubt searching for Miranda's command. When the young woman shuffled back in retreat, once again sitting at her desk in the outer office, Andy turned back around and approached the desk, not taking her eyes off Miranda.

"I don't know why you haven't been taking my calls, but I didn't rat you out to the press. I would never do that to a client, especially not you. I can't believe you would even think I'm capable of doing such a terrible thing. I don't know who has betrayed you like this before for you to distrust and jump to conclusions so easily, but I'm not like those assholes. I thought you knew that."

Miranda continued to glare at Andy, her posture rigid and her eyes unreadale. After moments in silence looking at each other unflinchingly, Andy let out a breath and smiled sadly before shaking her head. There was nothing more to say, was there?

"Good bye, Miranda."

Turning on her heel, she stalked away, never looking back.

 

.oOo.

 

Lily had decided to invite herself over to Andy's apartment that night after she had called Andy and had heard how miserable and tired her friend had sounded.

"I don't care what you say. You need cheering up, so I'm coming over. And I'm bringing Doug."

So now Andy was buried in her sofa cushions, eating a bowl of popcorn while her two best friends raided her kitchen for glasses and mixers to make cocktails with. Apparently, Lily's idea of "cheering up" meant bringing a bottle of vodka, another of rum, and a multitude of beverages to mix the booze with.

When her friends joined her in the sitting area, they brought out a tray with all sorts of alcoholic concoctions on it, and Andy closed her eyes and mentally prepared herself for the night ahead.

"I've been taking mixing courses, I might as well put them to good use," Doug said when he saw Andy's expression at the array of colourful and fizzy drinks.

Andy admitted that was a fair point, and she definitely enjoyed the benefits of it when she chose a fruity drink that tasted heavenly mixed with vodka.

"So," Lily turned in the couch so she could face Andy and poked her with her toe. "What's up?"

Andy sighed. "Things got difficult with a client. It's kind of affected me."

"Obviously," quipped Doug from his seat on the armchair.

Andy stuck her tongue out at him.

"But what happened?" Lily asked. She had always been the kind of friend that wanted all the details. Andy loved and hated her for it.

"I can't say, Lils. Confidentiality and all that," Andy shrugged, her chest feeling like it would cave in on itself just at the thought of Miranda.

"Well, something tells me this person is more than a client to you. You usually don't let their lives intervene with yours or affect you outside of work," said Doug munching on some peanut M&Ms. Lily nodded in agreement.

Andy pouted. The three of them had been friends for so many years now - more than a decade - that Lily and Doug were usually able to read her like an open book. Damn them.

"Ugh. Fine. You're right, she's not just a client. I feel this pull towards her. I don't know how to describe it. I want to help her, but it's more than that. I..." Andy bit her lip. "I want to make her happy."

Lily's eyes widened.

"Oh shit," said Doug, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah," Andy said, and drank half her glass in three big gulps. "I'm in deep shit."

Lily simply nodded, and then tipped off Andy's drink with more of the fruity vodka mix. Andy gave her a weak, appreciative smile, and kept drinking.

 

.oOo.

 

The next morning, Andy woke up with a pounding headache. Why had she decided to get so drunk on a weekday? And especially when she had such an early call. She had sessions with clients back to back from 8:30 am to 7 pm, except 45 minutes for lunch at 1.

Andy had a feeling the day was only bound to get worse.

She took a shower, trying to erase the traces of alcohol off her body, and trying to relax under the warm spray of the shower, leaning her head forward and massaging her shoulders and neck. After finishing getting ready, she left her apartment and took the short subway ride to Columbus Avenue. Once there, she went to her usual cafeteria and ordered a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, coffee, and a bowl of strawberries. Andy practically devoured her food, and the more she ate the more human she felt. The coffee was a gift sent from heaven, and she swallowed two aspirin for good measure.

By the time she got to her studio, it was 8 o'clock, and Andy decided to busy herself by getting everything ready for her first client. Anything to keep her mind away from wandering thoughts of a certain silver haired editor.

 

.oOo.

 

Thank God, Andy thought. It was just past 7 pm, and she was just about ready to collapse in relief. Today had been the longest day in recent memory, and it was finally almost over. Now she could go home and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine with a tub of cookie dough Ben and Jerry's, and Andy could not wait. She was quite proud of herself, though. She had done a good day's work, despite everything, and her sessions had been very productive and successful, so at least Andy went home satisfied with her effort.

She gathered her things and made sure all the lights were off before eagerly heading for the door. Just as she was reaching for the handle, the doorbell rang. Freezing in place, Andy's heart froze. Could it be...? Tentatively, she leaned forward to peek through the peephole. There, in the softly lit hallway, stood Miranda, silver hair slightly wind swept, eyes roving up and down the hall, hand fidgeting with her bracelet while the other held some garment bags, and looking gorgeous in a fur coat and black pencil skirt reaching past her knees. Andy could not calm her pounding heart, and she nearly lost her breath when Miranda rolled her eyes.

"I know you're there, Andrea. Let me in."

As usual, Andy's heart leapt to her throat at hearing the older woman speak her name. Andy bit her lip, mind racing, not sure if she wanted to know why Miranda was here. Was she there to let Andy know she was being sued? Was she there to give her a piece of her mind about Andy confronting her at Runway? Was she there to strangle her? Andy couldn't take her eyes off the woman at the other side of the door, and she saw more than heard Miranda's deep sigh.

"Please."

Andy blinked. Something in Miranda's voice beckoned Andy, and she knew that no matter whatever the reason for the older woman's visit, Andy would die if she didn't find out.

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.

Chapter Text

Andy watched as Miranda stood in the middle of the waiting area, not making eye contact and shifting the weight of the garment bags draped over her arm. After a few more moments in silence, Andy supressed the urge to roll her eyes.

"How can I help you, Miranda?"

Blue eyes shot up and finally looked at almond ones.

"I hope I'm not inconveniencing you by being here, but I hoped we could talk."

Andy's eyebrows shot up. Miranda had never been polite, let alone worried about inconveniencing Andy.

"Um, sure. Come on in," Andy said, leading the way into the main room.

Almost as if it were routine, they sat in their usual places after Miranda carefully draped the garment bags over the back of the couch and took off her fur coat, revealing a white wrap around blouse that made Andy nearly faint.

"I owe you an apology," Miranda said, and Andy settled back against her armchair, making sure her expression was open, letting Miranda lead the way into the conversation. "You were right, I did jump to conclusions. It was unfair to believe you would go to the press about me, I should have known that you are far too good a person to do that."

Andy blinked. Whatever she had expected, it had not been a heartfelt apology that not only showed Miranda's remorse, but also praised Andy's person.

"Miranda-"

"Please. I'm not finished," she said, hand raised, halting Andy in her words before letting her hand fall back on her lap to join the other one, her fingers immediately seeking the bracelet dangling from her delicate wrist. "I'm sorry for not taking your calls. I should have heard you out. When you came to Runway I was beyond surprised, and your words made me realise that I had judged you wrongly. I let my past experiences doubt your credibility and your professionalism, blind me to the realities of who you are, and I sincerely apologise. It was terrible of me to put you in the same group of people who have betrayed me for money and fame before. I know you are not like that. I hope you can forgive me."

Andy let out a breath. Miranda seemed so sincere, and for her to open up like this and push aside her pride told Andy a lot about how sorry she was. The fact that she had come here instead of going home with her children or working at Runway or doing literally anything else that holds a higher priority than Andy, was proof enough.

Andy knew that past traumas and betrayals could really shape how one trusted others, especially people one only knew recently, like Andy and Miranda, who had barely known each other two weeks. Andy could understand why Miranda had reacted the way she had. It was mostly bad timing, because they had been speaking about Stephen filing for a divorce just the night before the press broke the news, and with Miranda's trust issues, Andy was not surprised she had assumed Andy was the culprit. She highly doubted Miranda had that many people to talk to about these things with, which caused Andy to feel a pang of sympathy for her. What was it people said? It gets lonely at the top. Miranda seemed to be genuine in her regret, and Andy's forgiving nature got the better of her.

"Apology accepted." Miranda relaxed, her shoulders losing some of her tension and the corner of her eyes seemed to smooth out. "So how did the press find out?"

"My husband." Miranda said, and she pursed her lips. "My publicist is dealing with it. I confronted Stephen about everything. The cheating, the drinking, his lack of effort to be a parental figure to the girls. Everything. It did not end very well. He admitted to going to the press. Apparently he wanted to hurt me, because according to him I deserve it." Miranda sniffed disdainfully. "Little does he know, I care very little for what he or anyone else has to say about me. Runway is thriving and Elias-Clarke would not dare to fire me over a little bad press, so it's not like my career is in jeopardy. And I spoke to my daughters. They were surprisingly okay with Stephen's departure from our lives. I'm quite sure now that they had been wanting him to leave from the moment I decided to marry him."

Andy nodded, listening intently to every word. "So you're doing okay?"

Miranda's eyes twinkled, and the corner of her lips twitched in a secret smile. "The press is being a complete pain, but I learnt a long time ago how to deal with them and trick them into losing track of me. Apart from that, Stephen has finally moved out, my girls are happy to throw water balloons and God knows what else at the press camping outside our house," Miranda gave a soft chuckle, and Andy smiled fondly at the thought of two teenage girls enacting chaotic revenge on the press. "And I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders." Miranda breathed in deeply and then slowly exhaled, and Andy saw a perfect visage of that burden leaving Miranda's body. "I feel like myself again. I have no doubt that the next several months will be filled with attorneys and legal dealings with the divorce, but at least it's just me and my girls again, and we're happy."

Andy's smile widened, and she nearly lost her breath when Miranda in return gave the biggest, most beautiful smile Andy had seen.

"I'm glad, Miranda. It's good to know that things are working out. Stephen is a complete idiot who doesn't deserve you, and going to the press was a real jerk move on his part, but at least you have your family back."

Miranda hummed.

"Well, it is mostly thanks to you. You made me realise that I did not need him, and that he was the one not being a good enough partner, not the other way around," Miranda's eyes bore into Andy's, filled with something unreadable and pure. "Coming here was one of the best decisions I've made since I got into this mistake of a marriage." Andy's heart soared, and she almost felt light headed. "Which is why," Miranda continued, standing from her seat and picking up the garment bags. "I brought you this. As a thank you, and an apology."

Andy blinked in surprise, not knowing what to say. Miranda Priestly was giving her clothes?

"Miranda, you didn't have to." She said, standing up.

"Nonsense. It was my pleasure. Here, have a look. If there is anything you don't like, I can take it to Runway, it's no problem."

Andy let out a shaky breath. This evening had been completely turned upside down, and all these surprises from Miranda was making Andy feel like she had fallen into the Twilight Zone.

She stepped around the coffee table to stand next to Miranda. There were four garment bags, Andy counted as Miranda stretched them out across the couch. She lost her breath when Miranda unzipped the first one, revealing a beautiful black suit with sharp cuts and the texture so fine that Andy couldn't keep her fingers from caressing the elegant material. A crisp champagne coloured shirt with silver buttons made Andy feel like she could die on the spot. Miranda Priestly thought her worthy to wear this?

"Miranda, this is too much. I don't even want to think how much money this costs!"

The older woman simply waved her hand dismissively. "Don't be ridiculous, Andrea. It's perfect for you. You're a size six, yes?"

Andy stared at her, her shock still plainly evident on her face. "Yeah. Yes. How did you know?"

Miranda smirked and winked, inadvertently nearly giving Andy a coronary. "I've been in the fashion business since before you were born, Andrea. I have my ways."

Andy gulped.

"Would you like to try it on? That way I can see if it needs altering."

Andy nodded, reaching for the garment bag.

"Not so fast, don't you want to see the other ones as well?" Miranda said, raising an amused eyebrow.

"Um, yeah, of course," Andy said, blushing slightly at her over-eagerness.

Miranda unzipped the second bag, and Andy very nearly collapsed. There was a beautiful burgundy dress, the cap sleeves elegant and the low décolletage adding a little touch or risqué. Andy swallowed.

"The colour should compliment your skin tone nicely," Miranda said, looking at Andy's expression closely for any sign of dislike. But Andy was feeling the opposite. She wasn't even able to look away from the dress, admiring the stitching, the draped cut of the skirt, the soft material.

"Miranda... I don't know what to say. This is more beautiful than everything in my closet combined."

Miranda snorted. "That is why I brought these to you. You are a professional, respectable, beautiful woman, Andrea. Your clothes should reflect that."

A deep blush rose from her chest, up her neck and finally reaching her cheeks. Miranda had just called her beautiful. Right. Okay.

"Thank you," she rasped before clearing her voice and looking up at the older woman. She could see blue eyes smiling at her, and then roving her face, neck and chest, no doubt seeing Andy's blush as clear as daylight.

Andy watched Miranda's throat work as she swallowed, and then turned to the third garment bag before unzipping it to reveal it contents. A light pink, long sleeved blouse with silver flower embroidery was accompanied by a silver pencil skirt, and Andy had to refrain from wrapping the older woman in a tight hug to express just how grateful and touched Andy was by these gifts. But Miranda was a client, Andy reminded herself. She needed to keep a professional distance, despite the nagging voice inside her head reminding her that the line between a professional relationship and something more had blurred between them already.

"I'm guessing by your awed face that it's to your liking?" Miranda said as she stood next to her, not taking her eyes off Andy.

"Wow. You really are the Goddess of fashion."

A challenging eyebrow rose high on Miranda's forehead. "You doubted it until this moment?"

Andy laughed, rolling her eyes good-naturedly and looking back at the outfit, fingers stroking the light material of the blouse. "Not really. I mean, look at you. You always look perfect, so-" Andy's eyes widened as she realised what she'd just said. Had she just called Miranda perfect? She looked at the older woman, hoping her slip of the tongue hadn't just cost her a client. Blue eyes looked at her with an amused warmth that made Andy want to sigh in relief. Miranda's eyes sparkled like jewels with something else, and the young woman only managed to look away with a herculean effort. "And the last one?"

Miranda smirked. "Ah, yes. My personal favourite."

The zipper was steadily undone, and the more it revealed, the more Andy's mouth fell open. When the gown was completely on display, Andy lost her breath. The vibrant red of the dress reminded Andy of a blooming rose, and the neat layers made Andy want to bury herself in the soft texture of the beautiful garment. The high collar ended in sparkling golden jewels that were small and sophisticated, but reflected the light in such a delightful way that Andy felt the urge to meet whoever had made this artistic creation and kiss their feet.

"Oh, Miranda..." Andy breathed, unable to stop her eyes from roaming the stunning couture displayed in front of her. There was no doubt in her mind that anyone would be made to feel like a queen wearing such a dress.

"I thought of you the moment I saw it," Miranda murmured, and Andy looked at her in surprise just in time to see a light blush dust her cheekbones and her startled eyes blinking, as if she had not meant to say the words out loud.

"I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful dress," Andy said as sincerely as she could, and Miranda locked eyes with her. "Thank you, Miranda. I cannot express how much I love these. They're too much, really."

Miranda seemed to internally shake herself. "I thought we had already gone over this. Ever since I came to you my life has improved significantly, and thanks to you I have been able to rid myself and my girls of a man that, until recently, I thought belonged with us. You made me see that I was worth more than an alcoholic husband who only focuses on his ego and twenty-year-old blondes instead of his family."

Andy smiled warmly. "I'm glad I was there for you, Miranda. It was an honour, and I'm happy to be here for anything else you may need."

Andy thought she saw Miranda's eyes glance at her lips, but it was so fleeting and so preposterous that Andy just knew it had been a trick of the light - or her mind, since she was clearly losing it.

"Good," Miranda said, and then nodded at the four outfits displayed before her. "Would you like to try them on, or perhaps wait until you get home and try them on in your own time?"

Andy immediately reached for the first bag, the suit, and grinned brightly. "Be right back!"

She dashed out of the room, Miranda's chuckle in her ears and warming her heart.

 

 .oOo.

 

Andy was incredibly grateful she kept a few extra outfits in case of emergencies in the closet inside the spacious bathroom, because she had a pair of black simple high heels there that complimented the suit perfectly, and made her feel more confident as she walked back into the main room where Miranda was leaning against the window sill, gazing at the view of the park and buildings across the street. As soon as she heard Andy come into the room, however, she turned to face her.

Andy swallowed down her nervousness. After all, she was basically giving a fashion show to the queen of fashion herself, and Andy felt deeply out of her element. Just to have something to do, Andy turned slowly in place, and then nervously ran her fingers through her hair when she faced Miranda once again. The older woman was looking at her from head to toe and then back up. Andy tried not to tremble, because even though she knew this was just Miranda Priestly doing what she did best, it felt like she was caressing Andy with her eyes. Losing. It.

The older woman nodded. "Wonderful," she said quietly, then zoned in on Andy's eyes while the young woman concentrated in slowing her rampaging heart. "How do you feel in it?"

Andy smiled. "I feel good," she said. It was true. The suit was surprisingly comfortable, even though the trousers were not particularly loose and she felt the ensemble hug her body in the right places, it was still incredibly easy to wear. "I feel confident, and it's surprisingly comfortable."

Miranda's lips quirked. "Sometimes fashionable can be comfortable."

Andy smiled back. "I'm starting to see that."

They stared at each other for a few more moments before Miranda waved at the other outfits. Without a word, Andy took the Burgundy dress and went to the bathroom once again.

Moments later, Andy came back to find Miranda pacing and barking on the phone to someone that Andy felt immediately sorry for.

"I told you, Leslie. I'm otherwise occupied at the moment. I told you to handle it, this is what I pay you for. The details of your incompetence do not interest me, I have given you clear-" Miranda turned and froze as saw Andy, her gaze immediately roving Andy's body as she ignored the other person on the phone. It only lasted a moment, however, because then Miranda was speaking coldly and quietly, "Don't call again unless you have something important to say. Do. Your. Job. That's all." Miranda snapped her phone shut, eyes still fixed on Andy as she approached. Andy had to take a deep breath not to tremble.

"That seemed important, are you sure you don't have to go? I don't want you to feel like you have to stick around if you have other stuff to do." Andy smiled reassuringly, but Miranda simply shook her head as she continued her appraisal of the outfit.

"I knew that colour would flatter your complexion. Do you like it?"

Andy looked down at her body. The dress left her arms bare and showed a decent amount of cleavage, and the skirt ended at her knees in a drape cut that accentuated her waist and generous curves. She ran her hand down her side, enjoying the texture beneath her fingertips.

"I love it," she said, grinning at Miranda as she made another full turn for the woman to see the outfit entirely. When Andy came to stand facing Miranda again, the older woman nodded, and Andy refrained from beaming.

The next outfit was the blouse and skirt. The soft pink and silver colors, the long sleeves, and tight pencil skirt made her feel like spring - light and elegant and playful. By the way Miranda's eyes crinkled at the corners and her hum of approval, Andy got the feeling Miranda also liked it. It was her selection, after all.

The last outfit was the gown, and Andy had to take off her bra when she realised it was backless. She didn't know how she felt about Miranda seeing so much of her, but the gown was beautiful. Floor length, with a slit on the side of the skirt reaching just slightly higher than mid thigh, the high neckline showing off her shoulders and collar bones as the gold collar wrapped around her neck delicately. When she stepped back into the room, Miranda was sitting on the sofa facing her, and the woman swiftly stood up when she caught sigh of Andy.

She felt like a vision as she glided further into the room, and felt a thrill course down her spine when Miranda couldn't seem to take her eyes off her. Blue eyes slowly made their way down Andy's body as if appreciating a work of art, as if Miranda was savouring the sight, her eyes vivid and appreciative in a way that made Andy supress a shudder of pleasure. After a few moments of Andy watching Miranda devour her with her eyes, the older woman slowly stepped around the coffee table and approached Andy, her eyes never ceasing the inspection of Andy's body. Of the dress. She's looking at the dress, that's what she does for a living.

When Miranda was at arm's length away, she stepped around Andy, slowly walking around her, gazing at the low cut back and the way the dress flowed to the floor allowing teasing glances of Andy's toned, smooth leg. Andy was finding it hard to breathe. Her heart was pounding, and she tried not to fidget nervously while she waited for Miranda's verdict.

Finally, after many breathless moments, Miranda stood before Andy, taking one last sweep of Andy's figure before exhaling sharply.

"Yes. It's like Valentino made this for you himself."

Andy let out a shaky breath. When had Miranda's approval become so important?

"So it looks okay?"

Miranda locked eyes with her, and her face seemed to soften infinitesimally.

"You look perfect."

Andy's breath caught in her throat. Did Miranda Priestly just say she looked perfect? She could feel herself blushing, but before she could respond Miranda whirled on her heels and returned to the couch.

"Um, I'll just-" Andy signalled awkwardly to the door. Miranda gave a small smirk and a nod, and Andy left quickly before she could melt and make even more of a fool of herself.

When she came back into the room, she had the four garment bags with her, and she was back in her flat ballerina shoes, lilac blouse and black trousers. Miranda was still on the couch, but she was frowning down at her phone.

"Everything okay?" Andy asked as she approached the sitting area, but did not sit down in her armchair.

"My girls just texted me. It seems I lost track of time," Miranda said, and Andy looked at the clock hanging on the wall, seeing it was past 8 pm. Had they really been together for over an hour? Time had gone by so quickly.

"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't realise how late it was," Andy said, already moving to pick up her bag.

Miranda waved off Andy's apology. "Don't be ridiculous, it's hardly your fault. I wanted to be here. But I did promise my daughters I would be home early tonight so we could play their new video game before they go to bed."

Andy smiled, trying to imagine Miranda doing anything as trivial as playing a video game. She would pay good money to see that happen in person.

"Well, I might as well go home too. I have some work to do on another client and my notes are in my apartment."

"How are you planning on getting home?"

"Oh, I usually just take the subway."

Miranda looked so aghast that Andy almost laughed. "That is unacceptable. Especially with that much couture, there is no chance I'm allowing you to take those clothes anywhere near the subway," Miranda sniffed, appalled. "I will give you a lift."

"Oh, but Miranda, that will only make you late to be with the girls-"

"That wasn't a question, Andrea. I will give you a ride home, that's all."

Andy blinked. Okay then. "Thank you," she smiled, and led the way out of the studio.

Once they were settled in the back seat of an extremely nice Mercedes, Andy gave the driver - Roy - her address before the privacy screen was lifted into place; Andy was relieved when Miranda informed her that Andy's appartment was basically on the way to her house anyways.

They stayed in a comfortable silence for a while, simply listening to the traffic outside the car that slowly progressed down the busy streets of Manhattan. Andy could understand why Miranda insisted on being chauffeured around, it was definitely more relaxing and clean than taking the subway or getting into a smelly, over-priced cab.

"You know, you haven't told me much about your daughters. I'm curious, are they as witty and determined as you?"

That brought a soft look to the older woman's face, and her lips relaxed into an easy smile. The love radiating from her simply from mentioning her daughters made Andy's heart melt.

"You could say that. Cassidy is the witty one - she always has something quick to say about almost anything, and she is more intelligent than most kids her age. Caroline is also brilliant, but she is more artistic and less about words. Sometimes it scares me just how smart they are."

"They must get it from you, then." Andy said, not really bothering to filter herself. For some reason, here in this confined space with Miranda, leaning back again plush leather seats, and with the other woman's scent surrounding her, Andy felt more relaxed than she had been in the past two days. Curious how the cause of her anxiety had become the source of her peacefulness.

"I wouldn't go that far. Their father, Greg, is also very intelligent, but he prefers maths and numbers over anything else, so I can see they get their artistic influence from me. Despite that, their intelligence can also be a downside. They love pranking people, and unfortunately I find myself a victim of their mischievous plots on occasion," she said, rolling her eyes but unable to hide a smile. Andy laughed, trying to imagine Miranda getting pranked and outsmarted by her teenage daughters. "They're both thirteen and twins, so they're a handful, but they are very mature and loving, and they just want me to be happy." Miranda wore a soft expression as she looked out the window into the busy streets, unseeing but content.

Andy couldn't help smiling at this motherly, loving side of Miranda, and the mental filters were completely broken down. "I see great happiness in your future."

Miranda turned to gaze at Andy thoughtfully before a she smiled beautifully. "I hope so."

The car slowed down despite the moving traffic, and Andy realised they had already arrived at the front of her apartment building. She sighed, not wanting to analyse why she dreaded saying goodbye to the other woman.

"Thank you so much for the ride, Miranda. I truly appreciate it."

"It's the least I could do," she answered, and then opened her mouth to speak more before she bit her lip and stayed silent.

Andy tilted her head, something she had subconsciously imitated from the woman sitting next to her, and encouraged, "Miranda?"

The older woman sighed and looked up into attentive brown orbs. "I truly am sorry for the way I behaved. You deserve better, especially with how much you've helped me. I-" Miranda's eyes warmed, and Andy had to control herself not to audibly lose her breath at the look. "I feel like I have finally found someone who understands me. It feels good to have a... friend." Then Miranda looked hesitant, as if she felt unsure about her own words. Andy rushed to reassure her.

"I feel the same way," she said quietly, letting her eyes show just how sincere she was.

That small smile was gracing Miranda's lips again, and Andy wanted to jump with joy. "I'm glad to hear it."

They gazed at each other for a moment longer, before Andy internally shook herself and tried to get out of the trance she had fallen into, lost in Miranda's eyes.

"Good night, Miranda. Thanks again for the ride, and the beautiful clothes."

Miranda nodded. "Good night, Andrea. See you soon."

Andy got out of the car and practically floated into her building. With Miranda's last words echoing in her mind, she let herself smile brilliantly as she fought the urge to spin around with joy.

See you soon.

Chapter Text

It was nearly two weeks before Miranda finally made another appointment with Andy. Not that they hadn't spoken during that time. In fact, the two of them had been texting on a regular basis - mostly generic things about how Miranda was dealing with the press, the divorce, and how her daughters were. However, Andy was surprised that in a lot of the texts Miranda seemed to want to know about her too, asking questions about her job, her family, and even their mutual hobby - photography.

That had been a pleasant surprise. After learning that the passion was mutual, they had proceeded to send each other beautiful photos, like the sun shinning between the leaves of a beautiful rose bush, or a Runway model putting on her make up underneath the mirror lights, or even a dog chasing a Frisbee in the park. Each photograph they shared made Andy's heart leap, because she felt like Miranda had thought of her during these beautiful little instances she had captured with her camera.

Andy knew she was going down a prohibited path. She never socialised with her clients outside of work. She was a professional, after all. But when it came to Miranda Priestly, she felt helplessly out of control, and she didn't know what to do.

 

.oOo.

 

"Miranda! Come in, it's good to see you." Andy said, moving out of the way to let the woman into the studio.

It was a Thursday afternoon, almost two weeks since Miranda had come to apologise and give her beautiful clothes. Having known Miranda would stop by, Andy had chosen to wear the pink blouse and silver skirt the editor had gifted her. Andy knew it had been worth it as she watched with bated breath as Miranda gave her a once-over and gave a small smirk. She looked softer today, wearing a flowing champagne blouse with soft blue floral designs, form fitting white trousers and matching blue heels. She looked like the sky on a spring morning, and Andy struggled to keep her eyes from roaming the other woman's figure.

"I'm glad you're putting the clothes to good use, Andrea." Andy's heart leapt at hearing the woman say her name for the first time in thirteen days.

"How could I not? They're beautiful," Andy grinned, and led the way into the sitting area.

She had to keep herself from beaming when Miranda sank into her usual place on the couch, immediately relaxing back with her eyes closed and letting out a deep breath, as if she could finally relax here. Andy could barely believe this was the same woman that had sat ramrod straight with nerves and anxiety a mere fortnight ago.

"How are things?" She said, and sank back into her own arm chair with a pleasant expression.

"Busy." Miranda finally opened her eyes. "Runway's issue deadline was yesterday, so it has been very hectic. Today is the first day I can take it relatively easy. The press has finally started to leave me alone, thanks to the latest Lindsay Lohan scandal. It really is difficult to do my job when I have hoard of photographers chasing after me everywhere I go." Andy grimaced in sympathy. She definitely would not be able to handle that well. "And the divorce seems to be going fine, Stephen isn't being nearly as impossible as I had expected. I think the amount of incriminating evidence showing his infidelity has something to do with that." Miranda smirked triumphantly, and Andy's eyebrows shot up. Miranda really had prepared for this divorce. Andy didn't want to think about what exactly those photos showed. "And the girls are happier than I have seen them in three years." Miranda smiled, and her eyes softened.

"I'm glad," said Andy. "It seems like things are looking up."

Miranda nodded. "I hoped we could celebrate." Andy's eyebrow rose, and she tried not to blush at the thought of just how she would like to celebrate Miranda's success. "Do you still have that lovely bottle of scotch?"

Andy grinned and quickly went to retrieve it from her desk drawer with two clean glasses. After serving them, Andy clinked her glass to Miranda and returned to her seat in her armchair, internally shaking herself when her mind tricked her into thinking Miranda looked fleetingly disappointed. Andy thought that sitting close to Miranda now that she was divorced, and with both of them drinking expensive celebratory drinks, would not be a good idea.

"So," Andy said and she leaned back and crossed her legs. "Did you want to talk about anything in particular this session?"

Miranda tilted her head thoughtfully, as if assessing Andy's words. The young woman simply kept her face neutral but relaxed, and waited until Miranda seemed to make up her mind about something.

"Well, I no longer have a husband, so I don't think talking about my sex life is going to get us very far," she said lightly before taking a sip of the alcohol and closing her eyes as she swallowed. Andy mimicked her just to gain some strength and keep from jumping over the coffee table to see that expression up close.

"We can still talk about it," Andy said. "A lot of my clients don't have partners, and we just discuss their sexuality, their past partners, or even prepare them to have a healthy sex life with future partners. Sometimes we just talk about their lives in general, it doesn't have to be specifically about sex. I do have a degree in psychology." Andy smirked.

Miranda seemed to contemplate this for a moment before nodding. "Alright. I have not talked about my personal life in a long time, and it seems that talking to you helps me."

Andy somehow managed not to beam with pride at that.

"Okay, so, what would you like to talk about? It doesn't even have to be something you need advice for, it can just be things in your past that perhaps you haven't opened up about or you need to vent to feel more closure. Anything at all, really. Whatever you feel like talking about, I'm here to listen."

Miranda bit her lip and took a deep breath.

"My family."

"Cassidy and Caroline?"

"No," Miranda said, and she took a rather big gulp of her drink. "My past family. My parents and my siblings. I don't have a particularly good history with them. My younger years were not very happy."

Andy straightened her posture, and gave the older woman her full attention.

"I was born outside of London, in Hammersmith," Miranda began, and she once again played with her necklace. "It was not a very nice place. My parents didn't have much money, and with three kids that meant we all had to find jobs very soon. I was twelve when I started working for a seamstress, helping her sow the clothes she designed. I was lucky, because my job gave me some basic understanding of fashion design which eventually brought me to where I am today. But my older sister Victoria was not so lucky. By the time she was thirteen she was working as a cleaner, and when she turned sixteen she moved from cleaning people's homes to cleaning local schools. My younger brother Liam was a bus boy as soon as he turned thirteen, and when he was old enough he started working at pubs, cleaning dishes and serving the town drunks.

"Meanwhile my father was struggling because the factory he worked at had extremely low wages and poor conditions, and my mother was a secretary with very low pay, but that is the only job she could find. We all worked hard to put food on the table, and it made things rather strained at home. And then-" Miranda swallowed thickly before taking another fortifying gulp of scotch. "My sister Victoria died when she turned eighteen. She-" Miranda pursed her lips and closed her eyes, and Andy felt her heart clench at the sight as Miranda let out a shuddering breath. "She was on the bus on her way home work, and there was a collision with another vehicle. The paramedics said she died on impact."

There was a short silence, and Andy felt her eyes sting. She had always been an easy crier, her great empathy making her emotional responses to people's tragedies so strong that sometimes she could not stop from crying for the anguish of others. Thankfully, Andy managed to hold her tears back. She doubted Miranda would appreciate them.

"I was sixteen when it happened, and son after her death I decided to leave home in search of a better future. I saved up all the money I could and came here, got a few jobs waitressing and baby sitting before I landed a position as a personal assistant at Vogue, and I slowly climbed my way up. And now, here I am."

There was a short silence where Andy watched as Miranda took a deep breath, seeming relieved that she had gotten through telling the tale of her past.

"Did you ever look back?"

At this, Miranda raised her head and locked eyes with Andy. "No. My parents were not particularly lovely people, and my brother and I fought very often, it ended up straining our relationship. The only person that really cared about me was Victoria."

Andy bit her lip, trying not to make the woman uncomfortable by being over-emotional. "I'm sorry you had to go through that," she said softly.

Miranda nodded, and they fell silent for another moment before Miranda seemed to shake herself out of the blanket of sorrow that had draped itself over her shoulders. "I don't talk about it much. Not even my daughters know much about my origins or how my family life was like. I prefer it that way."

"Do you still keep in contact with any of them? You parents or your brother?"

Miranda shook her head. "My father died fifteen years later - after working at a factory for most of his life, his body just gave up. My mother passed after the twins were born. I didn't keep contact with them, I only found out about their deaths through my brother. We send each other Christmas cards and a few letters every few years, but that's about it, really."

"And you wouldn't want him in your life or to see how things are going for him?"

"I know he's an accountant in London and seems to be doing well. Apart from that, I think I burned that bridge long ago. He didn't take my leaving well. For him, it was like losing two sisters instead of one, and he's still angry at me for that."

Andy didn't know how to respond. Miranda had obviously had a very unhappy life when she was young, and by the way she had spoken to Andy about her husbands and past relationships it seemed hadn't been particularly happy when she was older either, but life was unpredictable and happiness can come in unexpected ways, so maybe things would get better now. Andy leaned over the coffee table and re-filled Miranda's glass with a smile.

"Thank you," Miranda said, tipping her glass before Andy re-filled hers too.

"Thank God you're my last session today," Andy chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. Miranda had seemed so at peace before, and Andy hated seeing her upset over something she couldn't change. Maybe bringing up past grief that had been dealt with wasn't particularly healthy, especially not when Miranda had been through so much pain. Some things are better left forgotten. "I doubt my clients would be very happy if welcomed them buzzed from drinking," Andy said, raising her glass and winking.

Miranda snorted. "Why, don't you usually drink with them?"

Andy smiled. "No, actually. You're an exception."

The older woman tilted her head that way Andy found completely adorable. "What makes me so special?"

"You just are," Andy said, shrugging. "I don't tend to socialise with my clients. I don't share a drink with them, we don't text or send each other photographs, or give me free rides home or expensive designer clothes. We barely even talk outside of the sessions or about anything that isn't part of their therapy work."

"Will this be a problem?" Miranda frowned. "I understand therapists tend to keep friendships and clients separate, do they not?"

Andy nodded.

"And between you and me that line has blurred." Miranda said seriously.

"Yes."

Miranda hummed, and Andy tried not to feel nervous.

"Well, what do we do?" Miranda asked, but her tone was not harsh or cold, so Andy relaxed.

"Usual protocol would suggest we either keep this completely professional - no more casual drinks or socialising, and especially no gifting of expensive couture," Andy said, grinning teasingly and watching with butterflies in her stomach as Miranda rolled her eyes and smirked. "Or I could recommend another therapist, and we would have a more equal friendship, instead of a therapist-patient relationship."

Miranda nodded, serious once more. Andy waited with bated breath as Miranda mulled over Andy's words.

"Well, who would you recommend as another therapist? I would hate to be deprived of your talented photography and sound advice. And your good scotch, for that matter."

Andy couldn't help the beaming smile that lit up her face, and she melted when Miranda smiled brightly in return, eyes shinning with something warm and joyful.

"I have just the right person for you."

"Good," said Miranda imperiously, but her eyes still twinkled. "Because you, Andrea, have somehow become someone I can trust, and believe me when I say that is a very unusual thing."

Andy grinned. "I hope that doesn't change. You can still talk to me about anything, and I promise to follow any boundaries you want. We're equals now, after all."

"Indeed," Miranda chuckled. "And this means I can continue to improve your mediocre wardrobe."

Andy laughed, and watched as Miranda pursed her lips again in that way she did when she tried to hide her own laughter. Andy made a promise to herself that one day she would make Miranda Priestly laugh.

"So, should we go have dinner or something?" Andy's eyes widened slightly. She had not meant to ask Miranda Priestly out for dinner. Her joy (and the alcohol) had clearly made her brain-mouth filters non-existent, and now she had just asked Miranda out for dinner. Great. What if she thought Andy had meant it as a date? What if she walked out in disgust? What if Andy never saw her again?

But Miranda was just gazing at her thoughtfully, a small smile curling her lips, and blue eyes seemed to be looking in to Andy's very being. "Yes."

"Yes?" Andy asked, trying not to gape. Or die.

"Yes," Miranda nodded, and her smile widened.

Andy lost her breath.

Dinner with Miranda Priestly. Yes.

Chapter Text

Andy was taking a walk around central park basking in the sun and enjoying the brisk air when she felt her phone vibrate in her jean pocket. Her heart leapt when she looked at the screen to find a new message from Miranda.

Dinner this friday, 8 pm?

Beaming, Andy held the phone close to her chest as she took a deep, calming breath before shaking herself and texting out a reply.

Absolutely. Where do you want to meet?

She didn't even have to wait ten seconds for Miranda's reply.

Send me your address and I'll pick you up. Wear the burgundy dress.

Andy had to restrain herself from breaking into a happy little jig. She had no doubt that the next two days would go by excruciatingly slowly.

 

.oOo.

 

Contrary to what she'd thought, Thursday went by far quicker than Andy had expected. She'd had a full day with clients booked back to back, and she had gone for drinks that night with Doug and Lily.

"You look chipper," said Lily as she flopped on the barstool next to her and handed her a pink drink topped with a yellow umbrella.

Andy tried but couldn't quite manage to keep the smile from her face that had been there most of the time since she'd made dinner plans with Miranda.

"Did you get laid?" Doug sassed and wiggled his eyebrows, and Andy rolled her eyes despite the bubble of warmth she felt for her two best friends sitting on either side of her.

"No..." She answered with a mysterious twinkle in her eye and a shrug.

"You mean not yet!" Lily exclaimed excitedly, leaning closer to Andy. "You have a date, don't you?"

"It's not a date," Andy said, laughing at her friends' antiques. "I'm just meeting a friend for dinner, that's all." Doug's eyebrows shot up, and Andy in her buzzed state couldn't help but giggle. "You know, Dougie, you use your eyebrows way too much, you're gonna be so wrinkly when you're old and gray."

Lily threw her head back in laughter as Doug pouted jokingly, and Andy's mind drifted to a certain someone with beautiful silver gray hair.

"Earth to Andy," Doug said, snapping his fingers in front of Andy's face. "Girl, you need to spill. You obviously have it bad for whoever this 'friend' is."

"I can't tell you guys who it is yet, okay? It's a little complicated. She was my patient until a couple days ago."

Lily's eyes widened. "Holy shit, is this the same client you were all gloomy over a few weeks ago?"

Andy nodded. "We kind of blurred the line between friendship and professional patient-therapist, so I sent her to someone else and now we're just friends."

Doug grinned. "By the look on your face, I get the feeling you want this to be more than 'just friends', huh?"

Andy elbowed him. "Dude, she's straight with kids and going through a divorce. When I say it's not a date, I mean it. She just wants a friend, so that's what I'll be."

"Well, you know what they say," Lily snickered and leaned forward again as if about to say a life-changing secret. "Spaghetti's straight 'til it gets wet."

Andy chocked on her drink, feeling the burn of it as it went down the wrong pipe and she started coughing. Doug cackled, and Lily laughed uproariously at her friend.

"She's not wrong," Doug said, and clinked glasses with Lily.

Even after she managed to stop coughing, Andy found it hard to breathe.

 

.oOo.

 

Looking herself over for the hundredth in the mirror, Andy restrained from biting her lip anxiously. She had just finished putting on her make up, and she didn't want to ruin her lipstick. The dress fit flawlessly, just like the first time she had tried it on in front of Miranda. Andy had found the perfect burgundy heels to accompany it, and she'd added some simple golden jewellery - a necklace that ended in the middle of her chest bringing attention to the low cleavage, a thin bracelet and matching ring, and a pair of elegant earrings her mother had given her for her twentieth birthday.

All in all, she looked good. Much better than she usually did by any standards, but she was going to dinner with the Miranda Priestly, so the pressure Andy felt to look perfect was making her feel more nervous than she could remember being in a while.

Her phone chirped with a message from Miranda saying she was downstairs, and Andy grabbed her small purse and rushed out of her apartment.

When she came out of the building, she saw the silver Mercedes waiting for her at the curb. Andy approached, and she recognised Roy - Miranda's driver - as he stepped out to open the door for her.

"Thank you." Andy said, giving him a shy smile as he nodded at her. 

Slipping into the back seat, Andy turned to her left and lost her breath.

Miranda was sitting there smiling at her, wearing a beautiful cerulean dress, the off the shoulder neckline exposing a decent amount of creamy skin expanding over an elegant neck and shoulders, the sleeves reaching bellow her elbows, and the bodice wrapped tightly over the woman's figure.

As Andy's eyes continued to roam down the woman's body, she nearly broke out into a sweat when she saw the dress reached her knees, exposing beautifully strong calves, and a discreet slit in the side of the skirt added a touch of risqué that made Andy nearly have a coronary when she saw a glimpse of smooth thigh encased in glimmering dark hose. Or was she wearing thigh-highs? Andy felt dizzy just at the thought.

"Hello, Andrea."

Miranda's smooth voice brought Andy back to the moment and she quickly raised her eyes away from Miranda's legs, feeling a blush forming on her cheeks. Miranda's hair was as perfect as always, but her make up looked soft and smouldering at the same time, the silver earrings dangling from her lobes encasing the beautiful neck and bringing attention to the shoulders so magnificently displayed.

"Miranda," Andy cleared her throat when she heard how raspy her voice sounded. God, she really needed to pull her shit together, she wasn't some horny teenager. "You look gorgeous." Andy's blush deepened. What was it about this woman that made Andy's mental filter crumble without resistance? Thank God for the privacy screen, or else Andy would not only be embarrassing herself in front of Miranda, but also her driver.

"Thank you," Miranda smiled, and Andy let out a breath she had inadvertently been holding. "As do you. The dress looks even better on you than I remember. Very good choice of accessories."

"Thanks," Andy said, beaming. There was a short silence as they regarded each other, warm smiles still in place, as if neither could believe they were really there. "So," Andy started, and grasped her hands on her lap so she wouldn't fidget. "How was your day?"

Miranda huffed. "The usual. Runway is filled with incompetence, nothing new there. Why my employees can't seem to carry out simple tasks, I will never understand. Where is the creativity? The passion?" Miranda rolled her eyes, and Andy tried very hard not to be amused. "Anyways, let's not talk about work. My girls have a sleep over tonight, so the house has been mercifully quiet this evening and I got plenty of work done. I'd rather stop thinking about it altogether. How was yours?"

"Pretty busy, but you're right, let's not talk about work. I went out with my friends Doug and Lily last night, and they're always a bad influenced on me because I tend to drink just a little over the tipsy limit," Andy rolled her eyes, and Miranda's lips twitched in amusement. "But it was a lot of fun, and mercifully no hangover to make me regret those last few rounds."

"Ah," Miranda said almost dreamily. "To be young again."

Andy snorted. "Come on, Miranda. You're like, what, forty-five? Forty-seven?"

Miranda smirked. "Fifty, actually."

Andy's eyebrows shot up. "Holy shit. You have got to tell me your skin care routine. And your work out routine. Andy any other secrets you have to stay looking like that." Andy waved her hand, motioning to Miranda from head to toe.

"There are no secrets, believe me. Just very expensive cosmetics and a very strong self-discipline on my diet and physical activity," Miranda smirked and raised an eyebrow. "Contrary to popular belief, I don't drink the blood of virgins, and I'm not actually a witch with evil magic potions either."

Andy threw her head back and laughed. "Wow. Do people seriously think that?"

"Page Six has far too much fun making up silly theories and tales about me. There's also the one where I torture my assistants and feed them to a giant snake I hide in the basement."

Andy laughed again. "Jesus Christ."

"Not him, no, but I have been called the Devil on multiple occasions."

Andy chuckled and shook her head as Miranda looked at her with a gleeful look in her eyes and a secret smirk adorning her lips.

The car slowed down, and Andy turned to look out the window. They were at Smith and Wollensky, and even though Andy had never eaten here before she had heard raving reviews. The driver pulled up to the curb just outside the entrance to the restaurant, opening the door for Miranda. Andy couldn't help but watch as the older woman gracefully exited the car before opening her own door and quickly getting out. As she turned, Miranda was standing next to her and she tilted her silver head daintily towards the restaurant. Andy smiled, and had to control herself when she caught sight of Miranda standing upright in that dress.

As Miranda stepped in front of her to enter the restaurant and lead the way to a table in the corner of the room, Andy tried not to blatantly ogle how Miranda's smooth shoulder blades flexed, how the dress dipped into the curves of her waist perfectly, and how her derriere moved enticingly with the sway of her hips as she walked with grace and purpose, as if she owned the place. Andy had a feeling that if she was going to keep her sanity around this woman she'd at least need an inhaler for moments like this where she quite literally lost her breath.

Mercifully, they reached a secluded table with warm lighting in a cosy corner of the restaurant, and as they sat across from each other Andy let out a silent breath of gratefulness. She doubted she could have remained upright much longer with the woman's body so beautifully poised for Andy's eyes to soak up. Now there was a table between them and the only thing Andy could get distracted about was Miranda's upper half. Which was quite distracting in itself, but at least Andy didn't feel like such a creep now that her eyes couldn't feast themselves on Miranda's ass.

"Have you ever been to Smith and Wollensky before?" Miranda asked as she placed her napkin across her lap.

"Nope," Andy shook her head and did the same with her own napkin. "What do you recommend?"

"I always have the steak, but their Scottish Salmon a la Waldorf is to die for if you don't eat meat."

Andy's eyes lit up. "Say no more."

Miranda smiled, and a waiter rushed to their side. Andy watched as Miranda ordered a bottle of fine white wine, a medium rare steak for herself, and the salmon for Andy before a softly spoken "That's all" made the waiter scatter away.

"Is this how people treat you everywhere you go?" Andy asked.

Miranda shrugged. "My reputation follows me outside of the fashion industry. All of New York and most of the coast knows who I am, so when it comes to getting the things I want it's quite convenient that people are afraid of my wrath."

The mischievous twinkle in blue eyes made Andy swallow reflexively, but she couldn't stop from grinning. It was so like Miranda to enjoy wracking such terror that everyone fell at her feet wherever she went. After learning about Miranda's past, Andy wasn't surprised the other woman let herself enjoy the perks of being a world-renowned (and feared) fashionista.

The waiter came back and silently poured them each a glass of wine before setting the bottle in a cooler next to the table and ushering off again.

"So I take it you come here often?" Andy said as she sipped her wine and hummed in delight at the smooth taste and exquisite texture of it.

"As much as I can. Nigel and I try to eat here at least once a week."

"Nigel?" Andy asked, feeling a surge of something like acid rise in her chest.

"My Art Director at the magazine, and one of the few people I can call a friend. We rose up together through the ranks, and he knows me probably better than any of my other acquaintances," Miranda said, then smirked. "Except you, of course. I doubt I would ever talk to him about my masturbating habits."

Andy guffawed and was very glad she had already swallowed her sip of wine, because she was sure she would have spit it all over their table.

"Jesus, Miranda."

"What? I thought you spoke of such things all day? My, it's easy to shock you." The mischievous glint in her eye was back, and Andy's breath caught.

"I do talk about that stuff all day, but I didn't expect you to ever bring it up. No offense, but you didn't seem particularly relaxed when we spoke about those sorts of things."

Miranda chuckled. "Touché," Miranda raised her glass, and Andy clinked hers to it in cheers. "Anyways, Nigel deserves a promotion soon. I can see the strain it's put on him, working for me all these years. He has an incredible eye for fashion, he deserves to expose his talent on his own terms."

Andy nodded. "He seems like a nice guy."

Miranda nodded. "Very loyal. His husband is a very lucky man."

Andy didn't want to think about why that statement made her feel relieved.

"So, any other interesting underlings I should know about? Working alone is great but I often miss the camaraderie of working with a group of people." Andy had no idea how they had come back to talking about work even though they had agreed not to, but it was easy and light-hearted, and Miranda had been the one to mention her co-worker first, so she assumed it was all right.

Miranda tilted her head thoughtfully. "I suppose Emily is a rather interesting specimen, especially for a psychologist to study. She's my first assistant, although some days I think I should send her to a mental institution."

Andy snorted. "Is she the one I saw that time I came to Runway?"

"No, that was my second assistant. Emily was probably off somewhere doing an errand or other. She's extremely uptight, with a very British sarcasm, a very sharp tongue and stress management issues. And her diet consists of nothing but cheese cubes. Of course, she is completely terrified of me, but I have been amused by her scathing remarks towards the second assistants on more than one occasion."

"She sounds like a real job, I'd love to pick her brain a bit," Andy smirked. Miranda laughed softly, and Andy's heart soared at the sound. It wasn't uncontrollable laughter, but she had made Miranda Priestly laugh. Andy internally shook herself before she could melt right on the spot. "Do you have more than one second assistant?"

"No," Miranda said, her face relaxed and her lips still curled in an easy smile. "But few can last more than a month on the job. I'm a very difficult person to work for, and some of them are just not good enough. Or just plain stupid."

"Poor Miranda," Andy said with a teasing grin.

"The sufferings I must endure are endless," she teased with a light-hearted roll of her eyes.

Despite how much Andy was loving this banter between them, their meals arrived, and Andy's mouth watered at the sight and smell of it.

"Mm," Miranda hummed. "Bon appetite."

Andy grinned and dove in.

 

.oOo.

 

The rest of their dinner was spent with light conversation about how delicious the food was (Andy had nearly choked on her salmon when Miranda had taken the first bite of her steak, eyes closed in bliss and humming appreciatively), how Caroline and Cassidy were doing at school (Caroline was doing very well in science, but Cassidy preferred history and literature), college anecdotes from when Andy'd had a rather wild streak (like that time she had decided to get a helix piercing while drunk and the next morning had woken up with a hangover and a swollen ear), music (they both loved 70s and 80s music, but Miranda had confessed to liking modern stuff too like Lana del Rey and Lady Gaga, a fact that had made Andy ridiculously giddy), and lastly movies.

"You know," Miranda said. "I happen to know Cate Blanchett myself."

"What?"

The older woman smirked and gestured to their waiter for the check. "Oh, yes. She's been on a few Runway issues, and she's a lovely person. We get along rather well. I could arrange something for you to meet her, if you like."

Andy gaped, heart racing and mind feeling so delicious fuzzy that she blurted, "Marry me."

Miranda laughed - not so quietly this time - and Andy felt like she would fall right out of her chair. "Oh, Andrea," she said smoothly, bringing her wine glass to her lips, her eyes shinning a bright blue as they gazed into Andy's. "I can't marry you while I'm going through a divorce now can I?"

Andy had to grip the arms of her chair not to lean over the table and kiss that smug smirk right off Miranda's teasing lips.

 

.oOo.

 

They left the restaurant soon after, and on their way to the car Miranda rested her hand on Andy's back as she guided her through the people walking on the sidewalk. The driver opened the door for Andy first, and then for Miranda. Once the two women had settled in, the car pulled off the curb, and Miranda leaned her head back on the leather seat and closed her eyes, sighing deeply.

"Long day?" Andy asked, admiring the way Miranda's neck arched deliciously.

"Mm," Miranda hummed, still with her eyes closed, and Andy took the liberty of visually taking in the beauty of the older woman: the arch of a thin nose resembling a Greek sculpture, the high arch of blonde eyebrows, the flutter of dark eyelashes against smooth, prominent cheekbones, the curve of her lips, the defined jaw... "More like long week."

Andy bit her lip and snapped out of her daze. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Mirada opened her eyes and turned her head to look thoughtfully at the brunette sitting beside her. "You have done much more than you realise, Andrea. Good, sincere company is difficult to come by. It is very unusual that I find someone who is honest and kind and doesn't look for ulterior motives."

Andy's heart clenched at Miranda's words. It must be so lonely to live like that, where kind people are the rarity. "You deserve only good things, Miranda. I hope that you find them."

Blue eyes filled with something Andy couldn't understand, but she shivered at how deeply and unflinchingly they looked into her own.

"I think I already did."

Andy lost her breath, unable to look away, unable to even form words or coherent thought. Biting her lip, she flicked her eyes away, only to see Miranda's hand right there on the seat, delicately resting in the space between them. Andy wasn't sure if it was the wine she'd drank or Miranda's words or the way blue eyes had looked at her most of the night, but she watched her own hand move forward slowly, giving Miranda time to pull away. But she didn't. Her hand just stayed right where it was, and Andy's heart started racing when their hands touched, her own resting on top of the older woman's, feeling her skin under her fingertips, and all she could think of was God her skin is softer than I remember.

Andy all but lost her mind as she watched the hand underneath her turn, palm facing upwards, and elegant long fingers curled around her own, holding her hand so gently that Andy felt like she would cry. She lifted her gaze away from the beautiful sight of their joined hands and looked up at Miranda only to find her already gazing back with a soft expression. She watched as Miranda's lips curled into an affectionate smile, and only then did she realise her own mouth was stretched into a bright smile of her own.

The car slowed down and pulled over, and Andy felt crestfallen at the realisation that they had arrived at her apartment building. But then Miranda squeezed her hand, and her smile grew, and Andy had absolutely nothing to complain about.

"I had a wonderful time tonight, Miranda. Thank you for dinner, and the lift." Andy felt proud she had managed to say even that.

"As did I. I'll call you, and we can arrange for another dinner. If you like." Miranda looked nervous, as if she was uncertain that Andy would agree. As if.

Andy nodded, feeling lightheaded because they were still holding hands. "I'd love that."

Miranda's shoulders relaxed once again, and she gave a nod before gently letting go of Andy's hand. Andy missed the contact instantly. "Goodnight, Andrea."

"Goodnight."

She gave one last smile and took one last look at Miranda, memorising her as best as she could, and then exited the car. She stood there and watched as it pulled away and down the street, her hand feeling inexplicably cold and tingly.

Wow.

Chapter Text

An entire week went by before Andy heard Miranda's voice again since their dinner. They had been texting daily, especially at night, and Andy had been ridiculously giddy because texting Miranda was easy and light-hearted, even more so since their dinner together. Their connection felt more relaxed, somehow.

Miranda had been very busy with the upcoming Runway issue. Andy had shown her understanding and had given the woman encouragement and support. She listened (well, read) when Miranda needed to rant about the incompetence of her employees and Irv's stupidity and toxic masculinity. She tried as best she could to cheer the other woman up when she was in such a mood: mostly in the form of witty remarks regarding the diabolical CEO and the poor clackers that had no idea how to work at a magazine of Runway's standard.

What truly surprised Andy was that Miranda returned the favour. Sometimes being a therapist was tough. There was no escaping the pain and the hurt her patients went through, and thoughts of her clients' issues sometimes drifted through her mind even after work hours were over. On the daily she had to talk to people who had some terrible experiences, and sometimes Andy couldn't block out all the negativity. So when she couldn't sleep, or she felt pessimistic, or even just blue, Miranda was there to cheer her up with humour and stories of her twin daughters (like that time when the twins were only 12 months old and had stayed with Miranda at the Runway offices, so Irv had demanded Miranda get a baby sitter and in response Caroline had crawled to his ankle and been sick on his shoe). She would even offer soothing words of comfort that made Andy's heart feel ten times lighter.

Overall, Andy felt good. Great, actually. Because this friendship with Miranda had been pleasantly unexpected, and it was turning out to be a source of happiness far greater than Andy could have imagined. So when she was tucked into bed on Saturday night, a week after they had dinner together, Andy decided to take a leap of faith and called Miranda's number.

It rang once, twice, three times. Andy was just starting to regret calling unexpectedly when Miranda picked up, and Andy's heart beat faster.

"Andrea," Miranda breathed, and Andy closed her eyes at the sound of Miranda's voice pronouncing her name. "Hello."

"Hi," Andy said, sure that Miranda could easily hear her smile through her voice.

"How are you?"

Andy leaned back against her headboard, her pillows forming a warm cacoon around her.

"I'm good, how are you? Enjoying the weekend?"

"Hm," Miranda hummed, and Andy tried not to tremble. "It's been a wonderful day. The girls and I went to the National History museum and then had a picnic in the park with Patricia."

Andy smiled, her heart fluttering at the image of Miranda with her daughters and their dog, basking in the sun and sitting on the cool grass. "That sounds lovely, I'm so glad the press had finally backed off."

"Yes, it has been some time since we've been able to have a normal day out in public without the press hunting me down."

"Page Six should be cancelled."

Miranda chuckled. "Indeed," there was a short silence, and then, "How was your day?"

Andy shrugged, even though she knew Miranda couldn't see the gesture. "It was okay, didn't have much going on. I had lunch with Lily, went for a run, and watched some old movies at home while eating ice cream." Miranda snorted, and Andy rolled her eyes. "Hey! It's my best self-care remedy!"

"So it is," Miranda chuckled. "I'm sure it would be mine as well if I could afford to stuff myself with ice cream. Or if I even had the time to watch movies."

Andy suddenly had an idea, and before she could question herself she went for it. "Okay, this may sound crazy to you and obviously you can shut me down, but I'm going to do an entire day of self-care with you. When are you free?"

There was a short silence, and Andy could hear her heartbeat in her ears.

"I'm free next Saturday. Should I be worried about what remedies you will put me through?"

"Nope," Andy said, grinning. "Let me take care of everything, I promise I won't put you through anything painful or gross."

"Why, thank you Andrea, that would be greatly appreciated." She drawled, and Andy could almost hear her rolling her eyes.

"No problem! I'll send you the details as soon as I have everything arranged."

"Why do I get the feeling I might regret giving you control over my day?"

Andy laughed. "Oh, just you wait Priestly. Once you experience what I have planned, you won't get enough."

 

.oOo.

 

The week went by ridiculously slowly. Andy was fidgeting pretty much all the time, except when she texted or called Miranda. No matter what they talked about, Andy always felt herself relax. Since Andy had called last Saturday night, they had been calling each other as much as their schedules allowed, and it usually happened every night once both women were done with the day. Andy couldn't be happier with this new development, because no matter how much she loved texting Miranda, hearing her voice was so so much better.

On Friday night, Miranda said, "So what time should I expect you to pick me up tomorrow?"

"I'll be over at 2 pm, just text me your address."

"Alright, but Roy is driving us wherever we're going," Andy hummed in agreement, and Miranda sighed. "I really hope I don't regret this," she said, but her voice was light-hearted and teasing, so Andy smiled.

"Oh, I promise you won't."

 

.oOo.

 

Andy stood on the stairs leading up to a beautiful townhouse. She could barely keep her jaw from dropping at how tall and magnificent it looked. Just like the woman residing in it.

The door opened, and Miranda stepped out wearing sunglasses, a soft blue blouse and white pants that were loose but somehow still hugged her curves perfectly. Andy swallowed.

"Hello, Andrea," Miranda said, smiling brightly, making Andy internally melt.

"Hi," Andy said, returning the grin.

They walked down the stairs together and towards the Mercedes, and Andy stepped forward to open the door for Miranda, who nodded and gave a soft smile in thanks.

As the car made its way downtown, Miranda asked where they were going.

"I can't tell you," Andy said mischievously. "It'll ruin the surprise."

Miranda rolled her eyes and harrumphed in frustration, but accepted her circumstances and tried her best to be patient. When the car rolled to a stop not long after, Andy led Miranda out into a spa.

"So," Miranda said looking around the pristine reception area. "This is what you had in mind?"

Andy smiled, not put off by the lack of emotion on the other woman's face, instead focusing on the pleased glint in blue eyes that looked at her with subtle curiosity.

"Just you wait," she answered sassily before turning to the receptionist and giving her the details to her reservation.

Miranda glances around with a raised eyebrow, inspecting the pristine reception area. She saw a woman approach them with a polite smile, her white robe perfectly tailored and her dark hair pulled up in a tight braid.

"Andy?"

Miranda watched as Andrea turned around and smiled brightly at the stranger.

"Lucile, hi! It's so great to see you," she said as they shook hands. "This is Miranda Priestly, I hoped you could give her your special treatment today."

"Of course! A pleasure to meet you, Miranda." Lucile said kindly and offering her hand. Miranda shook it and nodded politely, but decided to stay quiet. Lucile turned back to Andrea. "I put you up with Teresa today, Andy. If you go down to room 14, she's waiting there for you."

"Great, thanks!" Andy said, before turning to Miranda. "Okay, I'm gonna go now, but believe me, you're in good hands. Lucille is the best masseuse you'll ever meet. I'll see you in an hour, and if you need anything, my room is right next to yours."

With a brilliant smile, Andy took off down the hallway. Miranda stared after her as she moved further away. She definitely did not feel crestfallen that Andrea was leaving her for an hour with a stranger.

"Ready, Miranda?" Lucile asked with a patient expression, her warm smile never leaving her face.

Miranda nodded, and she followed the masseuse down the hall Andy had just trecked. They arrived at room 15, and Lucile opened the door for her.

"I'll give you a few minutes to take off your clothes. Just lay down on the massage table, there are towels on the cabinet."

Before she could answer, Miranda was left alone in the room. A set of discrete speakers played soft meditation music with ocean waves playing in the background. The room was adorned with soothing white and beige colours, the lighting warm, and it smelled of lavander incense and oils. She took off her clothes and draped them over the chair in the corner before laying face down on the massage table and draping a towel over her backside to cover herself. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths, feeling herself relax to the smells and the relaxing music playing around her.

Before she knew it, the door opened and Lucille walked in quietly. Miranda didn't move, but watched as Lucile's white shoes moved around the table.

"Okay?" she asked in calm voice.

Miranda nodded, and closed her eyes. She felt warm hands slick with oil land on her shoulder blades, and she let out a sigh as they dug into her muscles perfectly. They travelled up to her neck, kneading the tense muscles there, and in less than five minutes Miranda's body was a puddle of relaxed goo, her eyes closed in bliss, lips gaping, and breathing slow as the masseuse worked wonders on her back, neck, and feet, giving special attention to pressure spots and knots of stress she had built up for who knew how long. Miranda's mind drifted aimlessly, not really able to form much thought, the soft music and scents around her making it easy to fall into a dream-like state.

Her eyes blinked open when a soft towel was dabbed around her back, and she inhaled sharply through her nose as her eyes and mind managed to focus on her surroundings once again.

"All done, Miranda. Take your time getting ready, I'll be by reception."

She heard Lucile quietly slip out the door, and Miranda took several deep breaths, basking in the feeling of her body after the most delightful and relaxing massage she had ever received. Gingerly she sat up, being careful to avoid head rush, and dressed herself before leaving the room, smiling contentedly. When she arrived at reception, Andrea was there and immediately beamed when she saw her.

"You look relaxed," she said with a warm grin.

"Hm," Miranda hummed, and didn't even attempt to keep the smile from her face. "I don't think I've ever felt more relaxed. Thank you for this, Andrea."

Andy blushed, and felt her chest constrict in something indescribable. "Oh, we're not done yet." Miranda raised an eyebrow. "We're getting facials. And there are some Turkish baths and Jacuzzis I signed us up for, too."

Miranda's eyes widened, but her smiled showed she was more than happy with the way this day was turning out.

 

.oOo.

 

Two and a half hours later, Miranda and Andrea exited the spa with soft smiles on their smooth faces. Miranda felt as if she were walking on air. Her skin felt rejuvenated, her body relaxed as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, and the fact she had spent two and a half hours next to Andrea getting spoiled at the spa while sharing laughter and good conversation made her heart feel fuzzy. Perhaps she should do this more often.

"So," she asked, and even her voice felt different. Lighter. "What now?"

Andy grinned.

"Follow me."

Miranda happily did as she was told, and they walked two blocks until they got to Central Park. Once they were surrounded by the wide expanse of trees, Miranda took a deep breath. When you live in a city like New York, nice fresh air is difficult to come by. Even though it was not the same as being out in true nature, it still felt nice to take a breath of air smelling of flowers and grass instead of car pollution and cheap fast food. As they walked, Miranda decided to share her thoughts.

"You know," she said, and felt Andrea give her full attention. "I'm thinking of taking a trip somewhere. Out of the city. Maybe I could take the girls, and Patricia, and find a house by a lake in the middle of the wilderness. I could try fishing, and teach them how to build a fire. We could have smores and see the stars..." she trailed off, her heart leaping at just imagining it. She was determined to make that happen. She wasn't sure if it was because the spa had made her think more clearly, or the fact that Andrea made her want to seek out happiness in her very busy life. Or maybe as her daughters got older she felt the need to grasp at them before they slipped through her fingers and left.

Andy seemed to feel her strange melancholic, hopeful mood, and reached over to take her hand, halting their steps. Miranda looked down at the hand holding hers, and then lifted her gaze to look into warm brown eyes that seemed to see right through her.

"If you want that, Miranda, then make it happen. It's never too late to do new things in life, or change routines. If you want to create new wonderful memories, then do it. Life is too short to not enjoy the simple things. In the end, that's all that will really matter. That you made an effort to live happy moments."

Speechless, Miranda looked at Andrea, and an overwhelming emotion rushed through her. She felt this sudden urge to kiss her. This woman, so wise beyond her years, so kind and thoughtful, always trying to help others, always encouraging. She was suddenly the thing Miranda wanted most in her life.

Andrea gave her the warm smile Miranda had grown to cherish so much, and continued walking, pulling Miranda along. Her hand didn't let go.

 

.oOo.

 

They continued their walk in the park, enjoying the sun shining on their faces between the tree branches, listening to the birds chirp above them, watching the people around them as they enjoyed picnics or walks with their dogs. Meanwhile, they strolled in comfortable silence, their hands linked by their entwined pinkie fingers, and Miranda felt a child-like giddiness she hadn't felt since she was a young girl. She never wanted to forget this day.

Andrea led her to the edge of the park, their hands dropping away from each other, and Miranda ignored the sense of loss she felt, almost as if reality had dropped a bucket of cold water over her head. She turned to Andrea, wanting to ask if this was to be the end of her delighting 'self-care' day plan, but Andrea was already looking at her with a soft gaze, the corners of her lips lifted in a relaxed grin, almost as if she was able to read her thoughts. Miranda swallowed.

"Come on," Andy said, leading the way across the street. "My place is this way."

Miranda blinked, and had to fight a huge grin.

When they got to Andy's penthouse apartment two minutes later, Miranda was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the other woman's home was. With tall windows that let in warm rays of afternoon sun, the place was adorned in soft browns, golden, and white accents. The front door opened into a cosy living area with a large L-shaped couch in front of a wide flat TV that was without a doubt the centrepiece of the living room. The rug between the sofa and TV looked luxuriously soft, and above it was a crystal coffee table. Miranda continued looking around, admiring the huge twin sets of bookshelves filled to the brim with worn books, the large wooden table covered in folders, more books, and a laptop.

"Want the grand tour?" Andy asked cheerily as she stepped further into the room.

Miranda nodded and followed her as she made her way to the wide archway to the right that led into a beautiful, pristine kitchen. The black marble counters glistened and contrasted beautifully with the whites of the kitchen, and Miranda loved the dark wall opposite the doorway that gave the room a very modern aesthetic.

"You like it?" Andy asked from behind her, and Miranda turned to see her looking at her with a knowing smirk.

"I like it more than my own kitchen at home," Miranda responded, and Andy grinned.

"Come on, I'll show you the rest."

They went through the other rooms - a bathroom that was just as elegant and sleek as the kitchen, a guest bedroom with light blue highlights among white decor, Andy's own bedroom with beige, blue and white tones matching the living room, but this room was much cosier. There was a perfectly made king-sized bed that made Miranda's body feel warm, photos adorned every other surface, a stick of incense burning on the nightstand, and huge window panels overlooking central park. It had an en suite bathroom with light blue and golden tones, a large bathtub big enough to fit three people, a shower just as big, and a double sink on a white marble counter that held a great deal of cosmetics and products. Miranda felt her heart squeeze at how much Andrea's home suited the young woman, and she hoped she would be invited to spend more time here.

"Let me show you the best part," Andy said, taking her hand once again and leading her out of the main bedroom.

Watching Miranda take stock of her home was slightly nerve-wracking, but the older woman hadn't frowned or mocked her or pursed her lips in displeasure, so Andy felt secure that she liked it. Or maybe relaxing in a spa for nearly four hours was enough to tame the critical lioness and convert her into a docile kitten than seemed happy with everything around her.

She led Miranda down to the last door at the end of the hallway, and couldn't stop the excitement she felt when she unlocked it and opened it, letting the other woman step through before her.

Miranda nearly lost her breath. It was a spacious terrace overlooking central park, with three white sunbeds placed perfectly in the middle, and candles adorning the two white round tables between each sunbed. A hammock seat hung near the wall with soft cushions, and near it was a basket with yoga mats staked in. Fairy lights hung all around the railings, and there was a short table with a stereo set and extra candles. But by far the most captivating element was the telescope in the far corner, surrounded by two plush chairs. The space radiated tranquility, and Miranda was entranced.

"Wow," she whispered.

"I come out here pretty much every night. Look at the stars and the planets, do some yoga, meditate, or just relax with a glass of wine. It's the reason I bought this apartment in the first place."

"It's wonderful. I should do something like this in my house."

Andy laughed. "Well, until then, you're more than welcome to come here."

Miranda turned to her and studied her intently.

"Do you mean that?"

Andy's smile was blinding, and Miranda swallowed. "Yeah, I do." They held each others' gaze for several silent seconds, something indescribable filling the air between them before Andy seemed to shake herself. "Come on, the self-care plan isn't completely over yet."

Andy led Miranda back into the apartment and offered her a seat in the ample, comfortable couch before checking the time. 6:30 pm. Perfect.

"Would you like some wine?"

"Red would be fabulous," Miranda said as she relaxed back into the soft cushions.

Andy quickly made work of opening her best bottle of red, and fetched two wine glasses before returning to the couch and offering Miranda one of them.

"To self care," Miranda said with a light-hearted tone, raising her glass.

Andy clinked their glasses together, chuckling. "Cheers."

Just as they both took a sip, the intercom buzzed and Andy leapt up with a grin.

"Dinner's here," she explained, and Miranda realised just how hungry she was at the mention of food.

Thankfully the delivery boy arrived at the door quickly, handing Andy a large pizza box and a bag with two ice cream tubs. She thanked and tipped him before dashing to the kitchen to put the ice cream in the freezer, grabbed two plates and napkins, and returned to the living room.

"Right, so a very important part of the self care plan," she said as she set down the tableware and pizza, "is to pick a movie you love, and have dinner in front of the TV. So, what movie do you want to watch? Something classic?"

Miranda hummed, smiling at Andrea's enthusiasm. "All About Eve?"

Andy beamed, her eyes lighting up. "A woman after my own heart," she said, and turned just in time to miss Miranda's blush spread up her neck onto her cheeks.

Once the movie was on, Andy settled into the couch next to Miranda and handed her a slice of the best pizza she had ever eaten - thin and cheesy and delightfully Italian. Miranda tried very hard not to moan at the first taste of it. She didn't get to indulge in pizza very often, and she was unable to keep her eyes open, her eyelids fluttering shut in a state of bliss. She didn't notice Andy staring at her hungrily.

As the movie played, they ate in comfortable silence, sipping and re-filling their wine glasses. Once the pizza was finished, Andy quickly retrieved the ice cream and two spoons and bowls from the kitchen before flopping back down on the couch and offering the two options to Miranda: cookie dough or chocolate with brownie pieces. Miranda smirked and tapped the chocolate one, and Andy scooped up a good amount onto a bowl before serving herself one scoop of each flavour, sticking her tongue out at Miranda when the other woman rolled her eyes. When Miranda tasted her first spoonful of her most guilty pleasure, she really could not hold back the quiet moan that escaped her lips. She felt instantly mortified when she realised her lack of self-control over a sweet treat - and if Andrea's deep blush was anything to go by, the young woman had heard her delight.

Before the moment could turn awkward, she cleared her throat and turned to face the screen, hoping they could ignore her moment of weakness. They continued watching the movie eating their dessert, and once they were full they simply relaxed back into the warmth of the couch until the film ended.

"Without a doubt one of my favourite movies ever," Miranda said and stretched, popping her back in a few places and humming in pleasure at how wonderful her back felt after the massage from earlier. When she looked up at Andrea, she caught sight of two pink spots over her cheeks, and Miranda felt warmth settle over her chest at how adorable the young woman looked.

"Well," Andy cleared her throat slightly, trying not to gape at Miranda after that sensual display of stretching her limbs like a satisfied feline. "Would you like to go outside? It's dark enough to see the stars."

Miranda was up in less than a second, and Andy chuckled before leading her out to her little piece of heaven. As they stepped out into the fresh night air, Miranda lost her breath. Andrea must have come out here when she'd taken a bathroom break during the movie, because there were twinkling candles on every surface, and warm fairy lights lit up the area.

The city beyond the terrace was beautiful, and Miranda walked to the edge, leaning her elbows on the railing and looking out over the park encased in twinkling city lights, a cool breeze running through her short silver hair. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting the sense of peacefulness engulf her as she listened to the sounds of people's lives happening all around them. Soft jazz music started playing from somewhere behind her, and she assumed Andrea had turned on the stereo, her body immediately relaxing even more with the sound of the soft tunes.

Some moments later she felt more than heard Andrea come up beside her. Opening her eyes, she took a moment to enjoy the view again before turning to look at the young woman, only to find brown eyes already gazing at her with a softness she had never seen directed towards her. Andrea smiled, and only then did Miranda realise she was smiling too.

"Beautiful," she said, not sure if she meant the day, or the view, or the sight of Andrea looking at her like that, or all of it.

Long eyelashes fluttered over brown orbs as Andrea's eyes lowered before turning to look out over the city the way Miranda had been. The distant lights twinkled in the woman's dark eyes, and Miranda found herself entranced, unable to look away from Andrea's beautiful profile, her full lips, her hair moving slightly with the breeze, the fairy lights casting shadows on her cheekbones.

She must have been staring, because Andrea turned to her again, and they looked at each other once more, not saying anything, letting the air between them fill up with something neither of them had words to describe.

"You know," Andrea said quietly, so much so that Miranda found herself leaning towards her slightly to hear her words better. "You have gold and green specks around the blue of your eyes."

Miranda blinked, and she felt her heart flutter pleasantly in her chest. "Nobody has noticed that before. Which is rather ironic, since my eyes are my good feature."

Andy's eyebrows shot up. "Your 'good' feature? Miranda, you're filled with good features. You have amazing hair," Miranda watched avidly as Andrea's eyes looked up at her hair, as if really admiring what she was describing. "Perfectly arched eyebrows," Andrea's eyes flittered over her eyebrows before dropping further down her face. "Your nose is so elegant, like an Ancient Greek sculpture, and your cheekbones," Miranda's heart skipped a beat as Andy's hand came up to her face, running a finger softly over her cheek. "Your cheekbones are to die for. And your lips..."

Miranda's breath caught when Andrea's eyes dropped to her mouth, and couldn't seem to look away. Andrea lost her words, but her own full lips parted slightly, and Miranda was helpless not to admire them hungrily.

Before she could think or say or do anything, Andrea was leaning close, tilting her head, and her eyes fluttered closed. Suddenly Miranda felt the most perfect warmth settle on her lips, the softest touch, and her heart skidded to a halt before pounding in double time. Without thought, Miranda pressed her lips gently against Andrea's, kissing her back, and Andrea cradled her neck, pulling her closer and moving her body so she could press lightly against her front. Miranda sighed into the kiss, and her hands somehow found their way into long brunette tresses. Andy's breathing hitched audibly as Miranda ran her tongue over her lower lip, and she immediately opened her lips only for explosions of colours to go off behind her closed eyelids when she felt Miranda's tongue rub delicately against her own, their mouths tasting of chocolate and wine.

She was unable to stop a soft moan escaping her lips into the older woman's mouth, and Miranda felt such a visceral reaction to the sound that she didn't process any thought whatsoever, simply pulled Andrea impossibly closer and kissed her more deeply, more passionately, feeling all her nerve endings light up. She shivered when Andrea's nails scratched gently at the hair at the nape of her neck, letting out a low hum of pleasure that had Andrea trembling in her arms. She had never felt anything like this before.

When they finally managed to pull away, they were both breathing heavily. Andrea's eyes were dark and hooded, her lips still parted, her cheeks rosy as she finally managed to tear her gaze away from Miranda's lips and into her eyes. Miranda was in a similar state, her eyes a brighter blue and shinning with something like disbelief, but the blush that spread from her neck to her cheeks and her breathlessness proved to Andy that she was just as affected by their kiss.

"Wow," Andy said, unable to form a coherent word in her mind.

Miranda nodded in agreement, her eyes falling back to Andy's lips before leaning in to capture them firmly in her own. And they were both swept up in each other once again, drifting in the bliss of their delicious heaven.

Chapter Text

Miranda had no conscious notion of time. She had no idea how they had moved from the edge of the terrace to one of the lounge chairs. The only thing she could focus on was the way the younger woman was pressed against her body, her weight atop Miranda, between her legs; Andrea's hands everywhere, on her hips, caressing her waist, in her hair; the lips that kissed her so thoroughly, so passionately that Miranda wanted Andrea to eat her whole. She was breathless, light headed, her heart pounding when she felt Andrea's breasts press against hers, a moan being torn from her throat into the other woman's delicious mouth. She melted as she felt the shiver that coursed down Andrea's body at the sound, and Miranda knew that she could kiss this woman for hours.

Then those luscious lips left hers, kissing down her jawbone, up behind her ear. She whimpered at the caress, her legs trembling from the shot of arousal that coursed down her body to the very tips of her toes. Andrea smiled against her skin and suckled the spot, making Miranda moan again as her eyelids fell shut. Andrea continued her descent, leaving a trail of scorching kisses down her neck that made Miranda's hands fist around Andrea's locks of hair. She had never felt like this before.

Her chest was rising and falling faster than it should, her heart felt like it would beat right out of her chest, and her body was much too warm. When Andrea sucked on her pulse point at the curve of her shoulder, she felt wetness pool between her legs, dripping onto her thighs. The noise she made was something she had never heard out of her own lips, and the way Andrea groaned in response made her shiver in delight. Andrea's hands moved from her waist and up around her ribs before cupping her breasts, her thumbs stroking over hardened nipples. Miranda gasped, and she felt a trembling begin in her thighs on either side of Andrea's hips. Breathing became even more difficult; the feeling of Andrea's lips on her neck and her hands perfectly stroking her breasts was enough to make Miranda whimper on every intake of breath, her moans harmonising with the jazz music and the sounds of the city around them.

Andrea became more enthusiastic with her hands, and when her lips latched on to that special spot behind her ear, Miranda couldn't help herself - her hips began moving to Andrea's rhythm, curling in seductive waves as she sought any friction that could relieve her torment. Then Andrea's teeth scraped over her skin lightly before biting into the flesh, and she pressed against Miranda's core with her thigh deliciously, and Miranda's body froze in place, her mouth dropping open as the breath was knocked out of her. A loud moan caught in her throat as her entire body shook with ecstasy. Moments passed as Miranda rode the waves of heated pleasure, and the stars above them blurred into distant twinkling lights. 

When she was finally able to draw breath, she blinked her eyes open, disbelief clouding her features as she realised Andrea had just made her climax. She felt herself blush furiously at the realisation that Andrea clearly knew she'd done it too - if the way she'd stopped her ministrations and instead panted against Miranda's neck was any indication. Miranda shut her eyes tightly, wanting to disappear, her embarrassment making her chest feel like there was a terrible weight on it. She wanted to hide away - she wanted the ground beneath her to open up and swallow her. Ridiculous! Coming in two minutes like some horny teenager. She didn't even take off your clothes! And she knows all the sordid details about your lack of orgasms!

Andy felt the tension radiating off the woman beneath her. She had felt Miranda climax against her, and Andy was turned on beyond belief. She'd just made Miranda Priestly come without even touching her under her clothes. And it had been amazing. Each and every response from the other woman to her ministrations had made Andy sink further and further into a ravenous state of arousal. She was certain she'd never been with anyone sexier or more addictive than Miranda - she wanted to do this for hours.

But then Miranda was removing her hands from her hair, and instead started pressing them against her chest, pushing her away. Andy gingerly sat up, her eyes focused on Miranda's face as the older woman sat up too. Blue eyes looked at the ground, her face tilted down and away from Andy's gaze.

"I have to go," Miranda said as she stood up on weak legs, her voice sounding much quieter and unstable than she'd intended.

"What?" Andrea said, pushing herself up to stand beside Miranda even as the woman turned away from her as if to look over the city view instead. "Miranda, what's - "

"Forgive me, my daughters are waiting for me to tuck them in." She uttered before turning completely away from Andrea and walking towards the door, her voice emotionless except for a slight tremble.

"Miranda, are you okay?" Are we okay?

Andrea was following her, and Miranda felt a pang in her chest when she heard how worried and shaken her voice sounded.

"Yes. As I said, I have to go. Please forgive me." Please. Miranda was working on autopilot, her body complying with her inner turmoil and her need to escape. Somehow the apartment that before had seemed spacey and homey had turned into something oppressive, bearing down upon her almost as heavily as the weight on her chest. She grabbed her purse and her jacket, painfully aware of Andrea standing only a few feet behind her - she could feel brown eyes on her every move, and Miranda tried with all her might to not look into them, afraid of what she'd find there.

Her head tilted down, her lock of hair covering her eye as she made her way past the young woman, she reached the door, turned the handle, swung it open, stepped out -

"Miranda."

The velvet voice she had come to cherish so much trembled, and before she knew it she was looking back over her shoulder, straight into brown eyes reflecting such deep hurt and confusion that Miranda felt herself lose her breath at the terrible sight. Nobody had looked at her this way before. The weight on her chest grew heavier instantly, and she quickly turned away and rushed down the hall, not even taking the elevator, instead flying down the stairs, only one thought making its way through her mind.

Forgive me.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

"I've already told you guys, I didn't do anything!" Andy growled and downed the shot placed in front of her by Doug, her face contorting into a grimace of distaste even as warmth erupted in her chest and stomach.

"Come on, you must have done something! You were at your place with this mysterious M person, after spending a romantic day together, and she suddenly can't get out of there fast enough? You must have done something." Lily said, indulging in a generous gulp of her rum and coke.

Andy groaned and dropped her head on top of her arms that were crossed atop the bar. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, blocking out the sounds of people's loud talk and laughter around them and the music booming from the speakers. She mumbled something, and could feel Lily and Doug leaning closer at either side of her.

"What was that?" said Doug, sharing a look with Lily over Andy's slumped form.

"I said," Andy said through gritted teeth before raising her head and staring straight ahead. "I made her orgasm."

Lily's eyebrows shot up, and Doug leaned back in his chair with widened eyes.

"That's it?" Lily asked, frowning.

Andy nodded. "We kissed for the first time out in my terrace, and I got a bit, um, overenthusiastic, and I made her climax without doing much. I didn't even go underneath her clothes."

There was a brief pause, and Doug whistled. "Damn, Andy's got game!" He hollered jovially before Andy punched his arm.

Lily rolled here eyes. "Andy, look at me," Andy turned away from glaring at Doug - who was rubbing his arm and pouting at her - and focused her attention on Lily instead. "You're the psychologist here, and the only who actually knows who she is. Hell, you probably know her almost better than anyone else! Talk to us, tell us why you think she freaked out. You'll figure it out. Otherwise that degree was really kinda useless, huh?" She smirked.

Andy stuck her tongue out at her for that last jest, but then her expression became serious, concentrated.

"Well, clearly it was her coming that made her freak out. I mean, I didn't have to do much, and she seemed to really be, um, enjoying herself beforehand. Maybe it's because she hasn't had many good sexual partners, or because she's not used to finishing so easily and quickly and the fact I made her do that just like that..." Andy pulled at her hair, groaning in frustration. "Ugh! I just don't know what to do. It's been five days and she hasn't answered any of my calls or texts, even though I apologised for doing anything that made her uncomfortable. Without talking to her, I can't be sure about what made her freak and run like that. I just-" Andy let out a deep sigh, feeling her shoulders slump, and the pain in her chest was getting more difficult to handle the more she thought about Miranda. "I don't know what to do."

Doug placed his hand on her back, and Andy closed her eyes at the familiar touch, the comforting warmth he always gave her.

"I think you need to grow a pair and confront her in person. You know where she lives, right? And you've been talking enough that you more or less know her every-day schedule."

"Not that it doesn't sound creepy or anything," Andy said sarcastically, snorting mirthlessly. "'Oh, hey! Remember me? I made you come in my terrace with pretty much just neck kisses, about five days ago? Would you pretty please tell me why the fuck you disappeared? I promise I'm not a stalker though!' Yeah, it'll totally work." Andy rolled her eyes, and then winced when Lily slapped her arm.

"Girl, you need to get your shit together. This thing with M is obviously unresolved. You're gonna be tearing yourself apart about it, and unless you track her down and talk to her, you won't get any answers. I don't think you have much choice here, hon."

Andy frowned, pouting, but then sighed. Deep down, she knew her friends were right.

"Okay, fine, fine. I'll try going to her place tomorrow."

"Keep us updated," Doug said with a knowing tone and a glint in his eyes. Andy couldn't help but laugh when he sipped from his straw and made a fish face with waggling eyebrows.

She really loved these dorks.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

It took 25 minutes of waiting across the road from Miranda's house in the shade of a tree before Andy finally caught sight of the Mercedes rolling to a stop. Andy lost her breath as soon as she saw the silver hair appear, and her eyes were glued to Miranda as the woman gracefully climbed the steps to her home, making quick work of the locks before slipping inside and shutting the door. Andy let out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding, and closed her eyes, trying her best to gather as much courage as possible. She spent ten minutes outside, wanting to give Miranda the time to settle herself after a long day of work.

The evening sun shone on Andrea's face, the sky turning a pinkish orange with white clouds drawing stripes across the horizon. Something settled in Andrea, and she took a deep breath as she reconciled the fact that no matter what happened with Miranda, things would be okay. When Andy considered enough time had gone by, she took another encouraging breath, crossed the street, climbed the stairs, and rang the doorbell.

The door opened, and Andrea's heart leapt into her throat. Miranda stood under the doorframe, resplendent in a soft violet dress, her silver forelock curling over her left eyebrow, her face betraying her surprise before a cool mask slammed into place.

"What on earth are you doing here?" She hissed, and Andy felt trepidation curl around her abdomen. Maybe this had been a bad idea.

"Mi-Miranda, sorry to bother you, but you weren't answering my texts, and I wanted to talk to you. I'm so sorry if I took things too far, I didn't mean-"

"Oh for heaven's sake," Miranda said through clenched teeth before motioning her to come in with an air of reluctance. "You can't be loud. My daughters are upstairs."

Andy gulped. Oh. She hadn't even thought about that when she'd planned to come over. They stood in the entrance hall, and Andy didn't even spare a second to look around the house, having eyes only for the woman in front of her, whose fists were clenched and her arms crossed over her chest, her face an expressionless, dark canvas.

"Okay," she whispered, trying to settle her nerves. She had forgotten how scary and intimidating Miranda could be. "Look, if I did something wrong, please tell me. I'm sorry if I pushed too far or made you feel uncomfortable. I-I don't really know why you disappeared, and it's driving me crazy, and I can't stop thinking about you and tearing myself up thinking I must have done something wrong - "

"Stop talking," Miranda hissed, raising a hand. "I don't want to discuss this." She made to step towards the door, as if she wanted to show Andy out of her life.

"Please, Miranda," Andy instinctively took Miranda's wrist, halting her steps and looking at her pleadingly, trying not to think about how her hushed voice sounded desperate even to her own ears. "I really like you, and I thought things were going well, can't we just - "

"No!" Miranda snapped and ripped her arm free from Andy's grasp. "We can't, Andrea. Don't you see? This is ridiculous! What exactly is this? What do you want from me? I - "

"I just want you, Miranda!" Andy said, her voice rising slightly before she let out a shaky sigh. She looked into deep blue eyes, trying to portray just how truthful her words were, before she continued in a hushed tone, "I just want you."

Miranda took a shuddering breath, her eyes clouding with something Andy couldn't read. "Well you can't have me. Don't you see? I can't do this. Christ, do you have any idea the kind of scandal this would be? How it could affect my girls' lives? I can't think just about myself. I have a family, a career that I'm practically married to, and my boss who is looking for any reason to have me fired. For God's sake, I'm old enough to be your mother! It won't - This can't work. It ends now."

Andy was rooted to the spot, her eyes unfocusing briefly as Miranda's words washed over her, breaking her down, covering her in suffocating grief and sharp disappointment. Andy blinked, feeling trails of tears on her cheeks and not even having the thought to wipe them away. This ends now.

She felt Miranda's hand wrap around her upper arm, and Andy was shaken out of her state of pained shock. Miranda led her - almost pushed her - in the direction of the door, swinging it open and pushing at Andy's arm until she stood atop the stairs. Andy lifted her gaze and looked right at Miranda, her brown orbs no doubt expressing the hurt that was consuming Andy. As if her tears weren't enough confirmation of it.

"I'm sorry, Andrea," Miranda said, running a hand through her silver hair, distressing the perfect coif, and Andy's fingers burned to touch that hair again. To kiss her again, and hold her, and go back to the way things were. Andy choked back a sob, but her shoulders trembled, and Miranda saw it. The older woman drew her eyes away from Andy, as if she wasn't able to look at her anymore. "Don't come back here again."

And then the door was shut, and Andy was left standing numbly in the porch, her eyes unfocused as the tears fell, feeling a sharp throb on her chest as the pain that consumed her spread all over her until she drowned in its emptiness.

Chapter Text

Andy threw back her fifth shot of the night. Her mind was finally starting to feel numb, her body warm. She waved at the bartender for another one, and then rested her cheek on her hand, her face squishing upwards unattractively.

"Don't you think you've had enough?" Doug asked from somewhere to her right, and Andy rolled her eyes.

"Nope."

Lily bit her lip and looked at her friend worriedly. "Andy, come on. This isn't like you."

"This woman really did a number on you, huh?" Doug said, concern lacing his tone, but Andy was too far gone to care about anything.

"No shit, Sherlock. She stopped things before there was anything even happening between us, and then kicked me out of her house. Slammed the door in my face and everything. It was great."

She knew she was being a sarcastic jerk, and that her friends were worried and didn't deserve to be treated this way, but she was in a terrible mood and she just wanted her mind to stop thinking about Miranda fucking Priestly. Who did she think she was, barging into Andy's life and then kicking her out like she was a bag of dirt? After all the kindness, time, and patience Andy had devoted on Miranda, this is how she was repaid? Drowning her sorrows in booze in a cheap bar with terrible music after crying and being miserable for the past two days? Is this what came from caring about people like La Priestly? Maybe the press was right about her. Maybe she was a cold-hearted bitch.

Guilt soared up in her chest at thinking that, and Andy thumped her head down onto the bar, resisting the urge to slam her head open. Seriously? Miranda leads her on for months, takes her on dates and gives her beautiful couture, has an orgasm under Andy's superficial ministrations, and then kicks her out like garbage because she only just realised a relationship with Andy wasn't convenient for her? And what's worse, Andy didn't even have the heart to hate her, or even think of her as a bitch? Great. All those psychology classes, and it turns out Andy was fucked up in the head all by herself.

She heard glass being placed near her head, and looked up to find a tequila shot and the waitress smiling at her in sympathy. No doubt, Andy painted quite the picture right now. Hair a mess, dark circles and swollen eyes, slumped over the bar as if she was ready to pass out on it. Jesus, what had become of her? She was a psychologist, for God's sake.

She downed the shot, not even bothering with the salt and lemon, her face twisting up in a deep wince at the taste of it but enjoying the sharp burn making its way down her throat.

"Okay, that's it," Lily said, grabbing Andy's arm and pulling her off her stool.

Andy stumbled and had to lean against the bar to keep from falling, the room spinning briefly before her head cleared slightly. Boy, she was more wasted than she'd thought. She let Lily drag her across the bar to an empty booth, Doug following behind them. Andy dropped gracelessly onto the booth, and slumped back against the leather backrest, groaning.

"Andy!" Lily barked, and Andy jumped, her eyes flying open from her drunken spacey state. "Listen to me. You need to get your shit together, dude. I have never seen you liked this over anyone before. Stop with the drinking, cause you need a clear head to pull yourself together and move on. It's obvious you and this M woman just weren't meant to be. If she decides to not give you a chance, it's her loss."

Doug nodded and leaned forward. "Lily's right, munchkin. You're an amazing, talented, intelligent, smoking hot lady," Andy snorted, and Doug grinned. "Anyone would be lucky to have you. If she can't see that, then it's her problem. You deserve to be treated better than this."

Andy let out a shuddering breath. "I know guys, I know." She rubbed her eyes tiredly, and an image of Miranda's face during their first therapy session swam behind her closed eyelids: expression lost and defeated, eyes holding a hopelessness and a pain that was so real that something in Andy wanted to stitch her back together again.

"She's just like nobody I've ever met, you know? She makes me feel things I've never felt before. And I know she's been really hurt, and that she's scared of being vulnerable and getting hurt again. It's no excuse, I know that. But something in me just sees her. I see how caring and loving she is, how hard she works to be perfect even though she isn't. Nobody is. I see how much she's been through and how much damage her past relationships have caused. And the worst part is that, even after everything, I just want her to be happy. I want her to find someone who treats her the way she deserves, someone she can trust and be herself with, someone who will put her above everyone else and not expect her to change in the slightest. And I don't know what this means, I feel so lost, I just - fuck - I think I've fallen for her, even though I know it's a bad idea, even though there's no chance for us. I just want - " Andy choked on her words. She didn't know at what point she'd started crying, but suddenly the pain on her chest was too much, and she leaned over the table, burying her face in her arms. "I just want to go back to how things were. I want to go back..."

She lost her words, feeling like there was something inside her being torn apart - or was that the over-consumption of tequila? Fingers started running through her tousled hair comfortingly, and she closed her eyes, concentrating on taking deep breaths.

"It's going to be okay," she heard Lily whisper next to her face, and then Doug's warm hand was on her back moving in soothing circles.

And, for the first time in the two days since Miranda had shot her down, Andy felt herself relax.

 

.oOo.

 

Two weeks had passed since Miranda last saw Andrea. Two weeks with visions of brown, tear-filled eyes full of hurt playing like a constant loop on Miranda's mind. Two weeks of restless sleep, her dreams tormented by the young woman's face. Two weeks without a single text or call, without Andrea's bubbling laughter in her ears, without her light-hearted banter, without her kindness. Miranda felt a strange kind of emptiness in the depth of her being, and she couldn't seem to shake herself out of whatever stupor she'd fallen into. Instead of the easy flow of creativity regarding fashion, she had to constantly force herself to concentrate on her magazine. Instead of coming home to her daughters in good spirits, she just felt drained. And no matter what she was doing, or who she was with, her subconscious was constantly reminding her there was something missing. Or, more specifically, someone.

She had spent the last two weeks thinking about the young woman at the least opportune moments. She remembered how Andrea's hands felt in hers, the warmth of her fingertips, the softness of her skin; her giddiness when they had been in the spa's hot tub together, her body beautiful and supple encased in the simple black bathing suit the spa had provided them with; her eyes turning a bright honey colour in the sunlight, and a dark reflection of the city lights under the moonlight. She remembered her voice, soothing and warm, her words always kind and understanding with no judgement whatsoever.

And, God, Miranda couldn't help but remember the way Andrea's lips had felt, burning her alive, leaving trails of fire in their wake on her most sensitive spots Miranda hadn't even known she had. But what was she supposed to do? There was no chance it could have worked. There was no chance that someone as young and as beautiful as Andrea had anything to find in Miranda but disappointment and heartbreak. The press would tear them apart, their careers would be compromised, her daughters would be put through hell once again, and in the end they would end up resenting each other for the uphill warfare that would surely be of their relationship. So, no, Miranda was not happy, but she had made the right decision.

Which is why her mouth dropped open when Caroline cornered her during dinner regarding her strange behaviour lately.

"Just drop it already, mom. We know something's up, you might as well just tell us."

Miranda's eyebrows shot up, and her eyes shifted to Cassidy who was looking at her with the identical expression of expectation that her sister had.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Caroline. Now eat your greens."

Cassidy rolled her eyes, finally deciding to intervene. "Seriously, mom, cut the crap."

"Language!"

"We'll keep swearing if you don't tell us what happened mom," Caroline sassed, raising an eyebrow and giving a smug smirk.

"Caroline Marie Priestly, you better watch your tone with me," Miranda growled, but to her dismay her daughter just rolled her eyes in a perfect imitation of her tell-tale expression.

"Mom, you've been miserable lately. We just wanna know what's going on with you. We're not as dumb as you think." Cassidy crossed her arms.

Miranda sighed. She was always outnumbered with these two.

"I have never thought you two were dumb, Cassidy. If anything, you're more intelligent and perceptive than I would like." She reached up to rub her eyes, but caught the self-satisfied grins her daughters wore.

"Only 'cause we know what to look for. So, are you gonna tell us what happened, or are you just gonna go around the subject?"

Miranda sighed heavily again, and shut her eyes.

"Come on, moooooooom," Cassidy whined loudly, knowing this tactic irritated her mother beyond belief.

"Just tell us!" Caroline said, jumping up and standing beside her mother before starting to chant, "Tell us! Tell us! Tell us!"

The cacophony made Miranda's head throb, the head ache she had been carrying around for days making it feel like her head was splitting open, and something inside her broke.

"I'm heart-broken, okay?!" She yelled, her voice carrying over the sound of her daughters, and everything became silent instantly. Miranda let out a deep breath that seemed to carry the weight of the world in it, and slumped forward on the table, leaning her elbows on either side of her plate and burying her face in her hands. Despite thinking she'd already cried enough tears over Andrea, she felt her eyes burn, and she bit her lip, preferring to feel the sting of it instead of the agony in her heart.

A hand landing warmly on her shoulder made her jump, and she lifted her gaze to see Caroline standing beside her, face serious and eyes full of concern, her hand rubbing down her shoulder onto her back. She looked at Cassidy, sitting to her left, who was worrying her bottom lip, a frown on her face as she looked at her mother full of worry.

"What happened?" Cassidy whispered, as if she was trying to make up for the yelling before.

Miranda closed her eyes.

"I met someone," Miranda swallowed thickly before lowering her eyes. "A - A woman."

When she heard no reaction coming from her children, she gathered courage and looked up at two unfazed, expectant expression.

"Okay, and what happened?" Caroline said, as if the detail of this woman's gender was as insignificant as her favourite color.

Miranda couldn't help her lips twisting upwards in a smile. At least she had done something right in motherhood if her children didn't show any prejudices towards same-sex love.

"Well, I fell for her. And I think she fell for me, too. But I can't see how it could possibly work. She's much younger than I am, and this could damage our careers when the press finds out. Plus, I had you two to think about and I-" Miranda took a steadying breath, she lifted her hand to run it through Caroline's soft strawberry hair. "I pushed her away. I ended it."

Cassidy's frown deepened. "But, mom, if you like her-"

"It's for the best, Cassidy. It could not have worked out. Better to end things before we got more hurt."

Caroline rolled her eyes. "Oh please mom, that is the most stupid reason I've ever heard."

Miranda's eyes snapped to her eldest daughter by two minutes, taken aback. "Excuse me?"

"Can you predict the future? Are you some kind of fortune-teller we didn't know about? How did you know it wouldn't work? We," she said, gesturing between her sister and herself. "Just want to see you happy. We don't care if that's with a guy or with a woman, or what age the person is. If she makes you happy you need to grow a pair and go get her. The press will get over it, and you know your career is untouchable at this point." Caroline looked deep into her eyes, Miranda barely able to say a single word.

"Mom," Cassidy said, and Miranda wordlessly turned to look at her. "You've been miserable for the past couple of weeks. We could tell. So if you like her and she makes you happy, you need to get your shit together and get her back."

"Language," Miranda murmured reflexively, not really able to say much of anything else.

"But you have to apologise. Pushing her away like that probably wasn't cool. You were way too harsh, mom," Caroline said, Miranda's mind latching onto that last phrase and finally able to think clearly once again.

"Wait, what do you mean I was too harsh? How would you-" And realisation dawned. "You heard it?"

Cassidy nodded, looking slightly guilty. "We were curious, and we hid at the top of the stairs."

"I can't believe this," Miranda muttered, running a hand through her hair. It was bad enough her daughters had heard several arguments between her and Stephen when he would get too drunk and ignore Miranda's pleas to stay quiet. Now they had heard her ending things with Andrea before they even knew there was a new love interest in their mothers' lives.

"It wasn't our fault! You went to get the door and you were gone a while, so we got curious! By the time we got to the stairs, you were telling her why it couldn't work out," Caroline said defensively before lowering her eyes. "She looked really hurt, mom. I think you need to do some serious apologising."

"And she's really pretty," Cassidy said, and Miranda turned to her once again, almost as if in a daze. " And she obviously cares about you, so..." she gestured with her hands indicating towards the hall.

Miranda blinked.

"Are you sure about this? You don't even know her, she could be horrible for all you know," she said sceptically, even though her heart beat faster just at the thought of getting Andrea back.

"Someone who makes you as happy as you've been lately is worth keeping. You deserve that, mom. The press will get over it, your careers can recover, and we're fine with it. So you have no more excuses."

Miranda looked from one daughter to the next. Could it really be this easy?

"I'll think about it. I doubt that, after the way I treated her, she will forgive me just like that. And as for your eavesdropping," she said, narrowing her eyes and reigning some of the control she'd lost somewhere along this conversation. "You're grounded - a week without TV."

As twin exclamations of outrage, Miranda raised her hand. "Ah! It's wrong to eavesdrop, so you'll be grounded accordingly. Now," she said, smiling and opening her arms. "Come here, you two."

Caroline immediately took a step forward into her mother's embrace, and Cassidy jumped up from her seat to join in the small family hug. Miranda took a deep breath, the scent of her daughters' hair settling something within her, and she squeezed them tighter against her.

 

.oOo.

 

Andy wanted to tear the hair out of her scalp with her fingers. Two of her most infuriating patients were sitting opposite her, and they were really getting on Andy's last nerve. Perhaps she was just more irritable than usual, but today Andy simply did not have the patience to deal with this couple in particular.

"It's not my fault he'd rather drink than have sex!" The woman, Darleen, snarled, her eyes furious, glaring at her husband.

"If you were a little nicer, maybe I wouldn't have to drink so much!" Peter snarled back, and Andy rubbed her temple. No matter what she did, these two always ended up having an argument.

"Please let's try to keep the comments respectful and productive," Andy said. This argument between a marriage was so old, Andy had heard it a million times. It didn't help that it reminded her of Miranda's marriage to that alcoholic idiot who seemed to love to tear her down just to make himself feel more like a man. 

"Well, what am I supposed to do?" Darleen said, gesticulating wildly and snapping Andy back into the present and away from thoughts of the silver-haired woman. "I don't like having sex with someone who's drunk. He gets so clumsy, it's not even good for me!"

Andy bit her lip as Peter went red. There was an outburst due any moment now, so Andy intervened before it could escalate.

"Alright," she said, standing up. They both looked at her after sending one last glare at each other. "This seems to be going nowhere, and your hour is nearly up. I suggest you both spent tonight away from each other. Book a hotel, and spend the night there. No communication between you. I want you to do some of the relaxing steps I've told you about, and then make a list of everything you like about each other. This is a thorough list. Think all the way back to when you fell in love, and remember what that felt like, or what made you go crazy for each other. Then, in another list, write nicely what you would like the other person to put effort into changing. Remember, be nice, not insulting, and don't ask each other to change something you can't. Then, tomorrow afternoon, go back home. Don't discuss what you wrote. Instead, go over old photos - wedding and family photos and such. Remember the good times. And then, once you have done good time in reminding yourselves of why you love each other, then you share peacefully what you would like the other to change so you can be happier. Is this alright with you both?"

They both nodded, and Andy nearly collapsed with relief. After receiving her due, she showed them out. As soon as the door shut behind them, Andy went back to her studio and collapsed on the sofa. Closing her eyes, she let the soft music drift her thoughts away from herself until her mind was blissfully blank. Thank God that was her last appointment for the day, because Andy was about ready to fall asleep. With a grunt she got up, gathered her things, and left.

She took the long way home, making her way through central park. Despite the late evening's brisk air, she took a deep breath, enjoying the sounds of the city that sounded so distant beyond the trees. Sometimes, Andy wished she lived alone in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, so she could wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and fall asleep to the symphony of crickets and owls in the wilderness. She opened her eyes, snapping back to reality, and made her way to the park entrance near her home.

A memory came unbidden and unwanted of walking this same path with Miranda, hands linked, the sun shinning down on them, making blue eyes look like the ocean and creating a halo around silver hair that made the woman look painfully soft. Andy shook her head and let out a huff of frustration. Two and a half weeks later, and Miranda still managed to jump into her thoughts at seemingly random moments. It was unfair, and it made Andy want to gather all thoughts and memories about Miranda, throw them into the river and watch them sink away from her.

But, alas, it was an impossible wish, so Andy simply opted to distract her thoughts with making a shopping list, and then a bucket list, and then tried listing her favourite authors. By the time she was listing her favourite musicians, she was on the elevator on her way up to her penthouse apartment. The elevator doors slid open, and Andy fumbled with her bags as she made her way out, her eyes watching her step so she didn't trip on her heels. As she approached her door, she caught movement from the corner of her eye, and her gaze immediately snapped up.

She nearly dropped her things.

Her heart certainly felt like it dropped to the pit of her stomach, and Andy was unable to move as she watched Miranda push herself off the wall next to her front door, her blue eyes downcast, her fingers fidgeting with a bracelet, her shoulders tense.

Andy continued to stare at her in disbelief before remembering to breathe. She blinked, and forced herself to pull it together.

"Miranda," she said, trying to ignore the painful throb in her chest just at speaking the woman's name aloud. When blue eyes finally looked into hers, it took a herculean effort just to remain upright. "What are you doing here?"

Miranda visibly swallowed, and Andy tried not to focus on the movement of her throat. "I - " her voice sounded quiet and hoarse, and she cleared her throat before continuing. "I wondered if we could talk."

Andy's eyebrows shot up. "You want to talk to me? I thought you'd said it all already, remember? That time you oh so viciously shot me down and kicked me out of your home, out of your life?"

She had no idea where this raging anger came from, but suddenly it was there, blinding, lacing her words with a viciousness she was unaccustomed to. Miranda visibly flinched at her words.

"I understand that you're upset - "

"Oh, you understand? How thoughtful of you!" Andy snarled with fake enthusiasm. "Well, thank you for stopping by to let me know. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more important matters to attend to."

She walked to her door, ignoring the woman standing only a few feet away from her, ignoring the blue eyes filled with hurt that followed her every move. Andy knew she was being harsh, but goddamn it this woman had hurt her deeper than anyone else ever had and she was allowed to lash out. Hell, a part of her wanted to hurt Miranda just so she would feel even the slightest pain she had caused Andy.

"Andrea, I only want to talk - "

"No, Miranda," she barked, shoving the key into her door and unlocking it. "I'm done wasting my time. Anyways, I think you already said enough, don't you?"

"Wait, I - "

"Now please remove yourself from my hallway, you already made it very clear you wanted nothing to do with me - "

"Andrea, please."

That made Andy pause mid way into her apartment, and she couldn't stop herself from turning to look at the woman standing in her hallway. Miranda's expression was desperate, her eyes pleading and filled with something Andy couldn't understand. She had never heard Miranda's voice sound so frenzied, so forlorn. Despite the heels she was wearing, she looked so small standing beyond Andy's doorway, shoulders curling inwards, hands gripping each other, the harsh lighting showcasing her tired eyes and the circles underneath them, the tension between her brows and around her mouth more prominent than Andy had ever seen.

"Please." She said brokenly, her eyes shining in a way that Andy thought she might actually cry.

She let out a breath. Miranda looked miserable. More so than Andy had ever seen her in any of their therapy appointments. Gulping down her anger, she closed her eyes for a moment, trying to go against what everything inside her was telling her to do. When she opened her eyes again, Miranda looked even worse - hurt, rejected, heartbroken - and the thought that she was making Mirada feel the same way she had felt two weeks ago was unbearable. Despite her anger, despite wanting to hurt Miranda, Andy realised she wasn't capable of it. What she had said in the bar was true: she wanted Miranda to be happy. She wanted this infuriating, impossible, talented, magnificent, beautiful woman to be nothing but happy.

Miranda trembled slightly, and then turned to go, the expression on her face so terrible that Andy felt her chest constrict painfully.

"Alright," Andy said, and Miranda froze for a moment before turning back to face the brunette, her face filled with sticking hope. It took Andy's breath away.

She tilted her head and stepped further into her apartment, hearing Miranda's heels hesitantly clicking after her before the door shut behind them both.

Chapter Text

This was beyond uncomfortable.

Miranda was sitting on her couch, her fingers wrapped around a ceramic mug of piping hot tea, her knuckles white with the pressure of gripping it so tight. Part of Andy was fearful she would shatter the mug - it was a special token of when Lily dragged her to a pottery class three years ago - but Miranda clearly needed something to hold onto, so Andy didn't say anything. Instead, she sat on the armchair across from Miranda, legs crossed, arms folded over her middle, as if this was the last place she wanted to be. Even though this was her home.

The more Miranda observed Andy, the more her nagging thoughts whispered that maybe she shouldn't have come here. Maybe she should have called, or gone to Andrea's office. Maybe she should forget this whole thing -

"As much as I love sitting in silence," Andy said, sighing with something close to exasperation. "I've had a long day, and I would love to get this done with so I can get some rest."

Miranda swallowed. Andrea wasn't making this easy for her, but then again, why would she? Miranda had been terrible with her. She had purposely hurt her. What right did she have to be treated better than this? In any case, Miranda knew she deserved worse. Far, far worse. She was lucky she was even allowed to come in. Taking a sip of the herbal tea Andrea had served them, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She gathered all her courage, trying to pull herself together despite feeling more frail and vulnerable than she had ever felt before. Opening her eyes, she looked up into Andrea's brown ones, willing herself to lower her defensive walls and let her emotions shine through so that Andrea could see the depth of her feelings. Of her regret.

"I came here to apologise," Miranda said, her voice sounding as truthful as she'd ever heard it. Andrea's eyebrows raised fleetingly before she forced her expression to became neutral again. "I don't expect to be forgiven, because what I did to you is unforgivable. But you deserve an apology nonetheless. You deserve far better than the way I treated you." She paused, reaching up with one hand to rub at her forehead, trying to ease the tension there and buy herself time to put words to her feelings.

"The truth is, I was a coward. I have never met anyone like you before, someone who means so much to me after such a short time of knowing each other. Someone I care about so deeply that I would do anything to see you happy. I don't understand it - how, after all these years spent building walls around me to protect myself, keeping everyone at a distance, you were able to bring the walls crumbling down so easily. And I let you." Miranda swallowed thickly, her eyes dropping to the mug on her lap as she let out a shaky sigh.

Putting her feelings into words was a far greater challenge than she'd thought. How to explain to this woman everything Miranda felt for her? How to explain the guilt and the regret that was tearing her up inside each second of every day and night? Taking a fortifying breath, she looked up at Andrea, noting how nothing in her expression had changed. Miranda tried not to weep at the sight of her Andrea so distant, so closed off from her.

"I was so scared, that night in your terrace. I - I have never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. I didn't know I was even able to feel that way just from someone's touch." Miranda fingers trembled as she pushed past everything in her instinct telling her to stop talking, to cease from making even more of a fool of herself.

You need to do this. 

"But it's more than that. Everything you do brings a reaction in me. When you smile, I feel at peace. Happy. The only other people to make me feel that way just from seeing their joy are my daughters. And when you talk passionately about politics, or the things you love, or even the importance of crust-filled pizza, I can't help but be mesmerised by you. The way your eyes light up, how you lean forward when you get emotional about a topic, how your eyebrows draw together and create that adorable crease between them whenever you're thinking hard about something. When you're frustrated or angry or sad, something inside me needs to know what's wrong, and I feel this all-consuming urgency to help you that goes against all my selfish tendencies."

Miranda felt her eyes sting, and she bit her lip. She continued, unable to keep her voice from trembling. "And when you cry my heart breaks, even if I was the cause of your tears." Her voice broke, and she lowered her eyes, trying to compose herself.

"No matter what you do, Andrea, you affect me more than anyone else I've ever met. I've never been at anyone's mercy the way I am in yours. I don't know what you've done to me. My happiness, my well-being - hell, even my sleep - everything is under your control. And that terrifies me." Miranda looked back up, and Andrea's expression was softer now, her eyes looking at Miranda in a way that made her want to throw herself at the woman's feet and beg forgiveness.

"I realised all of this that night in your terrace. It overwhelmed me. At that moment - when you kissed me the way you did - I realised that the very core of my being is ruled by you, and you didn't even know it. I panicked, because never in my life have I allowed someone to be of such vitality to my personal happiness. I always believed that to be the most idiotic weakness in humans, and there I was, being subjected to you in a way I hated and loved all at once. So I fled. I had to get away from you, I needed time to process my realisation, to understand. And the more I thought about it, the more consumed I became by my fears." Miranda squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to look at Andrea anymore, wishing she could disappear from existence. "I manipulated myself into believing we don't stand a chance, because the only thing that scares me more than your power over me is the thought of having you and then losing you forever."

Miranda exhaled shakily, choosing to ignore how the air caught in her throat. She couldn't see Andrea, but her silence was deafening, and Miranda's insides turned to lead, making her feel heavy and more burdened than she could ever recall being. She wanted to drown, to be weighed down until only darkness surrounded her. She had hurt Andrea, more than she'd thought she had the power to, and now she wanted to tear herself apart at the woman's feet. After several moments of silence, Miranda dared open her eyes. Andrea had an unreadable expression on her face, but her eyes were shining so brightly as they looked into Miranda's that she felt like all her breath left her in a rush.

"As I said, I didn't come to be forgiven," Miranda continued, unable to bear the silence anymore. "I will not - cannot ask you to do that. But I wanted to come here and make sure you know how important you are to me. The thought of you believing I want nothing to do with you... Andrea, you couldn't be further from the truth. I want everything."

She watched as Andrea's lips parted slightly, but Miranda had given up trying to read the young woman's facial expressions. Ever since she'd seen Andrea exit the elevator, the young woman had been unreadable, just out of reach even though Miranda was reaching out to her with everything she had.

"I spoke to my daughters and they said that I treated you horribly and that I need to grovel, and they're right. So it's what I will do, because you deserve that much, and more. I am so sorry, Andrea. You have done nothing but improve my life. You've filled it with light and laughter and happiness and hope, and I will never forgive myself for turning you away. Now my life is devoid of all the good things you brought. I miss your laughter, and your smile, and the way your eyes look in the sunlight. I miss you.

"I suppose that is my punishment for treating you as badly as I did. I hope that one day you can find enough kindness in your heart to forgive a foolish old woman who let her fears dictate her actions. If you ever choose to return to me, I will be there to greet you, awaiting your light - the sunrise of my life."

Miranda took a deep, calming breath and stood up, making her way to the door. Her heart felt like it was being torn apart, shreds of it being broken into pieces with every step she took away from Andrea. She had laid herself completely bare. She had held nothing back, opening herself up like she never dreamed she could. Even if Andrea didn't forgive her, even if Miranda was to spend the rest of her life hating herself for pushing the young woman away, at least she would find some peace in knowing she had given it her all.

As she grasped the doorknob, feeling nauseous just at the thought of never seeing Andrea again, she felt warm fingers grab her wrist. Miranda froze, the touch so electrifying it sent shock waves up Miranda's arm, leaving goose bumps in their wake. Slowly, she turned, and found Andrea standing next to her, the warm hand around her wrist pulling her gently away from the door. Miranda looked at her in confusion, but she was unable to stop the small spark of hope that filled her chest.

"Andrea?" She asked cautiously, hating the way her voice trembled. Brown eyes looked at her with a softness in them that made Miranda's knees feel weak.

"Don't go," she said, speaking for the first time since Miranda had begun her monologue. "Not yet."

Miranda swallowed thickly and nodded before she allowed Andrea to pull her back towards the couch. She nearly melted with relief when Andrea sat down beside her.

"You hurt me, Miranda," she said, and her voice was so filled with the emotion that Miranda wanted to dig a blade into her own chest. How could she have been so ruthless as to harm this lovely, pure creature? Perhaps everything they said about her was true. Maybe she really was a monster.

"I've never felt so hurt in my life," Andy continued, and the knot in Miranda's throat tightened so much that she could hardly swallow. "I've been so miserable, so lost, because I had no idea what I had done to deserve your cruelty. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get you out of my head." Miranda felt her eyes sting, and the pain inside her chest grew so much that she was certain she couldn't draw breath even if she tried. "Even when my friends tried to comfort me and cheer me up, nothing could make me feel like myself again. I hate that you did that to me, and that it affected me so deeply."

Miranda's head bowed in shame, and she shut her eyes when she felt tears blurring her vision. She knew this would happen, that Andrea - sweet, darling Andrea - would hate her, but she had held the smallest bit of hope that she wouldn't. That it wasn't too late for Miranda to fix the mess she'd made. But hearing Andrea say these things - it was like a part of her was being torn to shreds. She felt the walls she had built around herself towering around her, closing in on her. Her mind was in turmoil, unable to focus on anything but the fact that she had turned something beautiful into something filled with pain and hatred.

Suddenly, she felt warmth on her cheek, so faint Miranda thought she'd imagined it. But then she felt it more acutely: soft fingertips caressing the contour of her cheekbone, wiping away her tears, before cupping her face and gently tilting her face up. Andrea was looking at her, cradling her face in the palm of her hand, her almond eyes filled with compassion.

"But I don't hate you. I need time to trust you again, but I could never hate you."

Miranda broke apart. A sob was ripped from her chest, her face constricting in painful relief. She was vaguely aware of fingertips wiping away her tears, but Miranda could do nothing except cry. She doesn't hate me.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Andrea. Oh God, I - " She tried to take a deep breath, and couldn't remember the last time she had cried like this. "I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could go back and change it. I'm so sorry."

Andy bit her lip. Never in a million years had she thought plausible the notion that Miranda Priestly would be in her living room, crying for her and apologising so sincerely. She had never even expected Miranda to apologise in the first place. But she seemed so honest, so heart broken, that Andy felt her anger and her pain slowly subside.

It didn't make what Miranda had done to her okay by any means, but Andy could find it in her heart to understand. She scooted across the couch closer to her, and tentatively lifted her arm to wrap it around Miranda's shoulder while her right hand continued wiping away her tears. Miranda's body seemed to deflate in relief and exhaustion, and she leaned against Andrea's side, pressing her body close. Nothing could have prepared Andrea to see the intimidating, controlled, emotionally distant woman like this.

They stayed that way for long moments as Miranda pulled herself together, and when her crying had finally subsided she looked up at Andy, mascara stains running down her cheeks, eyes red and swollen, cheeks flushed and her hair a mess after anxiously running her hand through it so many times. Andy felt her heart leap in her chest. All of this, because of her. Miranda had come here, had waited god knows how long outside Andy's door, had opened up and bared her soul in a way Andy was certain she had never done before, and then had cried when Andy had not turned her completely away.

Wow.

She reached towards the coffee table and snatched a tissue from the box before offering it to Miranda. The older woman smiled weakly and murmured a quiet 'thank you' before wiping at her cheeks and nose. Andy marvelled at it - Miranda's make up was practically gone, and her skin looked soft despite the dark circles under her eyes and their redness from crying.

"So," Andy said, not sure where to begin. "You spoke to the girls about me?"

Miranda nodded and blew her nose. "Yes. I told them everything. Well, not everything," she said sheepishly, and bit her lip. "It appears that having you in my life made such a difference that they noticed me being... happier, I suppose. More at ease. And when I pushed you away... well. It seems I was hell to live with. And to work for, I'm sure." Miranda's lips twitched at the corners. "Regardless, they want me to be happy, whomever that may be with. And I know for a fact that the only person that has made me feel true happiness is you."

Andy blinked. Double wow.

"Oh," she said, finding herself speechless. The green specks around the blue of Miranda's eyes seemed brighter now, more brilliant, and Andy was lost in them for a moment.

"Well, I'm glad your daughters only want what's best for you. I do, too. I need you to understand this, Miranda. I want you to be happy. Above all else, I want to be the person making you happy, but I can't go through that hurt again. If we continue this, you have to promise that you'll talk to me, okay? Stop jumping to conclusions, stop overthinking yourself into a frenzy, stop trying to push me away. I know it's not easy, but if you just talk to me, we can work things out, okay?"

Hope bloomed in Miranda's chest like a spring flower after a long, cold winter. She nodded eagerly, her forelock bouncing above her eyebrow with the movement, and Andy had to keep from melting at how adorable it was.

"I promise," Miranda said. "I will do my best, Andrea. I can't lose you again. I had to be away from you to realise that my life without you is an unfulfilled emptiness that I would loathe to return to."

Andrea swallowed thickly, feeling butterflies flying wild and free in her stomach at the older woman's declaration. "You have quite the way with words, don't you? I mean, 'sunrise of my life'? Really, Miranda?"

Miranda's face softened. "Absolutely. After all, what is the point of being an Editor if I can't use the beauty of language to express the truths in my mind?"

Andy rolled her eyes but couldn't help the uplift of her lips.

"So," Miranda asked, suddenly timid. "What now?"

Andy's expression became thoughtful. "Well, I still need some time to trust you again." Miranda nodded in acceptance and understanding. "How about we just see where things go? Maybe we could start by going to dinner and take it from there?"

Miranda smiled. "That sounds wonderful. My treat, of course. I'm not done grovelling yet, Sunrise."

Andy snorted despite feeing her heart flutter at the new nickname. "How can a girl say no to that?"

"You can't. That's the point." Miranda sassed back, a radiant smile on her face, a softness in her eyes showing how happy and glad she was that their banter was back.

Andy was taken by the tender expression on Miranda's face. Even though she still ached over how Miranda had treated her, she couldn't help but feel content and relieved that she was back in her life. She looked so beautiful. Her make up was practically non-existent, her face soft and the most vulnerable Andy had ever seen her. Sky blue eyes looked at her with such joy and adoration that Andy felt all her feelings for this magnificent woman come rushing back with a vengeance.

Her expression must have given something away, because suddenly Miranda was looking at her mouth and biting her bottom lip. No matter how much Andy wanted to wait, no matter how much her mind screamed that they should take it slow, it was impossible to do anything but lean forward and capture Miranda's lips with her own.

Andy was consumed by the tenderness of the kiss. Miranda moved her lips hesitantly, carefully, and sparks shot through their bodies as they melted into each other, sighing in relief. Andy reached up and cupped Miranda's cheek in her hand, caressing her jawline with her fingertips, and Miranda shivered. Andy felt a hand cradle the nape of her neck, and long fingers running through her hair, and suddenly Andy's body was on fire. She could do nothing but moan softly before deepening the kiss.

Miranda was floating on a cloud. Nothing could have prepared her for the feeling of Andrea's lips on hers again. She had been so consumed by passion last time she had no time to process the suddenness of their physical connection. This time was different. This time it was slow, and deep, and she was relishing each movement, each caress, each touch of Andrea's tongue. Because they weren't just kissing- Andrea was making love to her with her mouth. Miranda's flesh burned with heated goose bumps, she could hear her heart thundering in her ears, and her fingertips itched to touch more of Andrea even as she caressed her hair, her face, her neck.

Her mind shut off, and all she could do was let herself be consumed by the sensation that her universe had suddenly aligned and everything felt right. Andrea sucked on her lower lip tenderly once more before moving back, their arms still around each other, their breathing laboured, hearts pounding in a combined rhythm of pleasure. Miranda looked dazed, her unfocused eyes unable to look away from the plump, swollen lips that had so deliciously kissed her senseless.

With rosy cheeks, Miranda blinked, trying to calm her body and bring herself back to reality. Andrea was gazing at her with darkened eyes filled with desire, but Miranda could see the affection and warmth shining in the almond orbs. Her heart swelled, and she wanted nothing more than to ravish the younger woman, to show her how devoted Miranda was to her happiness and pleasure. But she knew she needed to take things slow, so she took a deep breath to compose herself.

"I should go," she said, clearing her throat when she heard how raspy her voice sounded. Andrea's face fell into a disappointed, crestfallen look, and Miranda immediately moved closer and cupped her cheek, looking into her eyes intently. "I would rather stay here with you, believe me, but I have to work on the Book, and I promised my girls a movie night. I'll call you, alright?"

Andrea's face relaxed, and she smiled lazily. "Alright."

They stood, and Miranda pulled on her coat, despite feeling reluctance to leave Andrea's company. She walked to the door, acutely aware of Andrea following closely behind her, and had to momentarily close her eyes and take a deep breath just to keep from turning around and pulling the young woman against her again.

"Let me get the door for you," Andrea's voice caressed the back of her neck, and she shivered. She felt Andrea press against her back as her arm reached around her to open the door, and Miranda silently begged any higher powers for mercy.

When she'd finally managed to step out into the hallway and away from Andrea's tantalising body, she turned to look at Andrea. Her heart clenched at seeing the brunette leaning against the door frame, arms crossed, her lazy grin wrinkling her eyes at the corners as she gazed at Miranda knowingly.

"I'll see you for dinner, then?" she asked, voice smooth.

Miranda nodded, licking her lips when her mouth went dry at just the thought of what could happen after their dinner. Andrea's grin turned into a sultry smirk before she reached out and grabbed the edge of Miranda's coat, pulling her close into her body. Miranda's breath hitched in her throat, and her eyes fell shut when she felt Andrea's lips caress hers briefly before the young woman stepped back, smug smirk still in place and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Miranda blushed deeply and let out a shaky breath.

"Right. Dinner. Yes. See you then, Andrea."

Andrea chuckled, and Miranda smiled. "Thanks for coming by, Miranda."

And, as if on autopilot, she turned around and stalked towards the elevator, holding her head high but unable to hold back a wide, joyous smile.

You're more than welcome, Andrea.

Chapter Text

So apparently Miranda Priestly's definition of grovelling included a gigantic box of chocolates, flowers (no, Andy's heart definitely hadn't fluttered at the fact Miranda remembered her favourite flower was the lily), a very pricey red wine that was older than Andy herself, and dinner at a very distinguished restaurant that served the best dishes Andy had ever tasted in her life. Not to mention, of course, the simple black Audrey Hepburn style dress and matching shoes that had been delivered to Andy's apartment two days before their date. So yes, Miranda had put a lot of thought into this, and Andy was trying hard not to swoon. Nobody had ever looked at her with such eagerness to be forgiven for something that had already been discussed and set in the past.

She didn't want to admit it, but Andy was impressed. Sitting across from Miranda, Andy couldn't help but take a moment to process it all. The candle lit dinner at a secluded table, the way Miranda's dark red dress hugged her body exquisitely, the way she had been devoting all her attention on Andy, as if there was nothing else in the world that mattered more. If Andy was being honest, she had not expected this kind of treatment from Miranda. Andy felt special, and appreciated, and she was certain that everything Miranda had said three days ago in her apartment was the truth: she really did regret the way she had behaved, and she obviously cared deeply for Andy and was not afraid to show it. Andy tried not to swoon. Especially when Miranda reached into her purse and pulled out a fine leather box.

Andy's heart froze.

"I know this might be a bit much, and I don't want you to feel like I'm buying my way through grovelling, but I saw this on a spread a week before I came to you to apologise, and I knew the moment I laid eyes on them that they could only belong to you," She said, her expression conveying her nervousness.

Miranda offered the box with a tremulous smile, and when Andy was too stunned to take it from her, she chuckled and opened it, showing Andy the contents within. Inside were two elegant earrings, so beautiful that Andy lost her breath. The two teardrops of delicate rubies were encased in gold, the precious stones small but exquisite, simmering under the candlelight, and Andy could barely utter a word.

"I'd understand if you don't like them, or if you think it's too much. Really, I could return them -"

"No!" Andy rushed to say, her voice slightly louder than it needed to be. She blushed, and Miranda smiled. "No, they're perfect, Miranda. I love them. But, you didn't have to."

"Hush, I wanted to," Miranda said, her satisfied smile and the warmth in her eyes making Andy's heart flutter. Miranda moved her chair so that they could sit next to each other. "May I?"

Andy nodded, and tilted her head so that Miranda could reach and unclasp the earrings she was wearing - two small pearls Lily had gifted her for her 20th birthday. She was unable to supress a shiver as Miranda's fingers touched her neck, and Andy closed her eyes as she let Miranda slip the new earrings in. She ran her fingertips down Andy's smooth neck, admiring the beauty of it, and sighed in pleasure.

"Perfect."

Andy blinked her eyes open and looked at Miranda's intense blue eyes, feeling her heart beat quicken. "Says you," she sassed back, a smitten smile adorning her lips.

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes, and Andy beamed.

 

.oOo.

 

Three weeks passed filled with dates, fancy restaurant dinners, home-cooked meals (Andy was very surprised that Miranda was an excellent cook, and she definitely did not fall a little bit more in love with the older woman because of this), hand-holding, soft kisses and warm caresses. They were taking their time getting to know more of each other, feeling increasingly comfortable with the other's presence, sharing parts of themselves with one another.

Miranda was convinced she had never felt happier (or laughed as much) as she did with Andrea - apart from her children, that is. Andrea felt like a breath of fresh air in a world polluted by greed, selfishness, and intolerance. She had become used to seeing the younger woman at least twice or thrice per week, and talking on the phone every night in bed had helped Miranda's insomnia more than any medication had. There was something about hearing the young woman's voice after a long day that soothed the deepest part of Miranda's soul, and she felt her body relax into the cushions at the first utterance of her name from Andrea's lips.

So, overall, everything was going well. Better than that, actually. Life was marvellous. Even her minions at Runway had noticed her uplifted spirits, and Irv no longer had so much control over her moods, because Miranda knew that Andrea was only a text message or phone call away to cheer her up and make her feel better.

The only problem was, it was getting increasingly difficult to take her time and be patient with the other woman. Every time they would find themselves in a passionate kiss, Miranda was finding it harder and harder to pull away instead of drag Andrea to the nearest convenient spot and take her right then and there. Miranda didn't know how much more teasing she could take before she died of self-combustion.

So, when the twins mentioned that they were going to a friend's house for a sleep over ("It's Friday, mom, and Alice said her mom can drop us off tomorrow evening! Plus, you can tell Andrayah to come over to keep you company." Miranda had blushed, and threatened Cassidy with a week without TV if she spoke to her like that ever again), Miranda immediately texted Andrea.

The twins are going to a sleep over tonight, would you care to join me for dinner at the townhouse?

Miranda had worried her lip, trying not to feel nervous about the invitation. She rarely ever felt nervous with Andrea lately, but this was different. This was -

Nothing could keep me away, gorgeous. What time do you want me?

Miranda's blush deepened at Andrea's choice of words, but her nervousness disappeared immediately.

They are leaving at 7, so any time after that. I will be waiting.

Miranda did not even have to wait ten seconds before another reply came through.

I'll be there at 7:15 xx

Miranda took a deep breath, then straightened her shoulders. She had lots to prepare before Andrea's arrival tonight.

 

.oOo.

 

The twins had left, and now all Miranda had to distract herself with was setting the table. She had decided to cook for Andrea, since the last few times she'd done it had been so well-received by the younger woman (if the glint in her brown eyes and the way she had kissed Miranda with even more passion than usual was anything to go by). Once everything was set, Miranda looked around.

She hoped it wasn't too much. She had set candles on the dinner table and all around the entrance and the kitchen, as well as her bedroom because, to Miranda, tonight felt like the night they would take that step further in their relationship. Just thinking about it made Miranda's breath hitch in her chest and a flutter of butterflies to fly wild inside her lower abdomen.

God, she had never felt this way about the idea of having sex with someone before. She felt ridiculous, and flustered, and she was tempted to bang her head against the wall just to have a distraction. She had prepared everything: she had showered and moisturised, put on her favourite pair of La Perla lacy lingerie, five inch Louboutins and a cerulean knee-length dress that hugged her figure and brought out her eyes like no other. She had forgone lipstick, but her make up was discreet and simple, and she had even forgone jewellery just to make undressing easier later. She looked herself over in the foyer mirror for the millionth time, biting her lip and considering rushing upstairs and altering her outfit somehow.

Just as she turned towards the stairs to do just that, the doorbell rang, and her heart immediately started beating faster as she quickly made her way to the front door.

When she saw Andrea, she lost her breath. The young woman stood before her in a dark trench coat, her hair looking softer than usual, eyes so vibrant and smile so dazzling that Miranda had to take a moment to process the vision before managing to speak coherently.

"Andrea."

Before Miranda could say anything else, Andrea strode inside, pushed the door closed, and pulled Miranda in for a toe-curling kiss. Fingers ran through her short silver hair, lips caressed hers, Andrea's supple body pressed against her front from thighs to chest. Miranda got swept up in the kiss, her mind unable to form a single thought, and suddenly Andrea had backed her up against the wall. Miranda moaned. At the touch of Andrea's tongue tongue lips, she trembled.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Miranda knew she needed to feel more of the younger woman, and so with trembling hands she unbuckled the belt holding the trench coat together and pushed it off the woman's shoulders. She was satisfied with the woosh it made as it fell to the floor, and was delighted when she caught a glimpse of what Andrea was wearing underneath: a knee-length black dress, adorned with black four inch heels that made her smooth legs seem endless.

Miranda would have spent more time visually appreciating the outfit and Andrea's beauty, but the young woman's hands rose once again to run through her hair before lowering to caress her cheek, her neck, her shoulders, her waist. She was everywhere, and when she leaned in to kiss her again, Miranda felt on fire under Andrea's hands and lips.

She pulled back, gasping for breath, but then Andrea was kissing her jawline and teasing her ear in that special place she had discovered that first night on her apartment terrace. Miranda's knees buckled, and she gripped Andrea's shoulders, her eyes fluttering shut.

"I - oh!" She gasped when Andrea suckled on her pulse point, and the growl that vibrated from the young woman's chest before her teeth dug lightly into Miranda's skin had her moaning again. "I made dinner," she managed to breathily say, trying to get control of the situation. She wanted to woo Andrea, to seduce her slowly before taking things to the next level. "It's - it's your favourite. Vegetable lasagne and - ah! - garlic bread..."

Andrea pulled back to look into her eyes, and Miranda took the opportunity to catch her breath.

"As much as I love your cooking," she smirked, her eyes roaming over Miranda's face, taking in her flushed state, the lust in her eyes. "There's something else I'd much rather eat right now."

Miranda felt a shock of arousal shoot through her, and she gave in. She pulled Andrea against her more firmly, buried her fingers in long brown hair, and dove in for another kiss. Miranda could not help herself: she bit Andrea's plush lower lip, pulling on it and humming at the delicious groan she got in response. Andrea's hands tightened around her hips.

"Where’s your bedroom?"

Miranda smirked against their kiss before pulling away. The heat in Andrea's gaze was enough to make her tremble, and she grabbed the younger woman's hand, pulling her up the two flights of stairs. She could feel the young woman's gaze on her, and made sure to put extra sway to her hips, giving her sultry gazes over her shoulder every once in a while and catching brown eyes fixated on her ass more than once. Miranda had never felt this confident or this powerful in her body.

When she opened the door to her bedroom, Andrea gasped softly at the vision: lit candles offered a warm glow around the room, the soft blue and beige tones bringing out the white of the furniture. But most impressive was the California King sized-bed, neatly made with covers that looked as soft as silk. Not giving Andrea the chance to look around more, Miranda pressed her up against the closed door and kissed her fiercely, pressing her thigh between her legs and eliciting a moan from her that made Miranda feel a pool of desire between her legs. She couldn't wait any longer. She needed to see all of her Andrea. She reached down and grasped the hem of her dress before slowly pulling it upwards, past Andrea's toned thighs, up her abdomen and chest. Miranda pulled back from the searing kiss, and Andrea smiled before raising her arms so that Miranda could finish taking off the dress.

She was sure that, in all the years working in fashion and searching for beautiful things, Miranda had never seen anything as breath-taking as Andrea. She didn't know where to look first, so her eyes drifted everywhere, taking it all in: her elegant collarbones, her bare chest, her lovely breasts on display for her eyes and mouth to feast on, the hardening nipples begging for her touch, the dip of her waist, the soft stomach, the curves of her hips, the lacy red underwear that was the sexiest Miranda had ever laid eyes on, the muscular thighs, the curvy calves.

"Breathe, Miranda."

Only then did Miranda realise she hadn’t been able to draw breath all this time her eyes explored Andrea's beauty, and she took a shaky, gasping breath.

"Andrea..." Her voice sounded deep and husky to her own ears, and before she could gaze at her more, the young woman pulled her in for another kiss, and Miranda melted. Her hands caressed everywhere, her fingertips leaving trails of goose bumps, Andrea's sighs and moans music to her ears. She didn't even realise when Andrea reached for the hem of her dress to do the same Miranda had done, and on autopilot she reached for the side zipper and undid it before the young woman pulled the dress off completely.

She held her breath, observing Andrea's expression as brown eyes took their fill. Miranda knew she was not young, and her body had been aging rapidly these last few years. Stephen himself had said her body had never properly recovered after the birth of her daughters. Despite her best efforts, there was a slight roundness to her lower abdomen, and she had stretch marks on her hips and breasts. The latter had also suffered greatly due to gravity, and they were no longer as perky and round as they used to be. Her thighs had taken up some extra weight too, and not to mention the new wrinkles on her face -

But then Andrea's eyes rose to meet hers directly, and they had darkened significantly, their heated gaze making Miranda's breath catch in her throat. Before she knew it, the young woman had kicked off her heels and had pushed off the door. She pressed her young body against Miranda's own, which made both of them moan at the feeling of their skin finally touching, and she guided the silver-haired woman backwards towards the bed as her lips reached Miranda's ear.

"I've never wanted anyone as much as I want you," she whispered, and Miranda's eyes fluttered shut in both relief at the words and arousal at the deep, rough voice filled with lust. "You're so fucking beautiful, Miranda. I can't wait to make you mine."

And then she suckled on that special spot behind her ear again, and Miranda's knees buckled just in time for her to fall onto the bed, Andrea following in her wake. And, God, it felt beyond amazing to have the younger woman above her as they both shuffled up the bed. Miranda had never felt like this when any of her previous partners had been above her. But this - this felt right. This is how it was supposed to feel.

Miranda felt her heels fall from her feet just as Andrea planted kisses down her neck and across her collarbones, making Miranda gasp at the heated sensation. When they reached the pillows, Andrea lifted herself up on her elbows and gazed at Miranda through hooded eyes.

"I know what you were thinking when I undressed you," she murmured softly, and suddenly her eyes were gentle, and her fingers trailed a path over Miranda's face - caressing her eyebrow, her cheek, her nose, her lips. "But I hope you realise that I have never seen anyone more beautiful than you," Andrea's fingers lowered to her chest and undid the front clasp of her bra, parting it, and Miranda lifted herself slightly so Andrea could pull it away from her and drop it down the side of the bed. "Miranda," she murmured, and leaned down to gently kiss her lips. "Let me take care of you."

Miranda hummed, reaching up to run her fingers over Andrea's toned back, loving the sensation of the muscles flexing under her fingertips. Andrea placed kisses down her jaw, taking her time to worship all the places she had already familiarised herself with before: all the places that made Miranda tremble with need. Except now, instead of stopping like all the previous times, she continued downwards, tracing her tongue over Miranda's collarbone, kissing her way down her chest until she reached Miranda's breast. The Editor could feel her nipples harden the closer Andrea's warm lips got to them, and when Andrea took her time kissing the side and underneath her breast, Miranda shivered, closing her eyes in preparation for the pleasure to come.

When Andrea finally brought her lips to Miranda's nipple, she couldn't help but moan. The warmth and the wetness of Andrea's mouth as she took it in was like nothing Miranda could have imagined, and she was helpless to do anything but burry her fingers in brown locks and moan. When Andrea sucked, Miranda's chest rose to offer more of herself, and when she felt teeth pull teasingly on her already sensitive breast, she shivered. Shocks of pleasure were shooting down to her navel, and Miranda could not believe how wet she felt already.

A whimper escaped her when Andrea moved to the other breast and lifted her hand to cover and play with the abandoned one. The dual sensation made Miranda moan loudly, and Andrea hummed against her nipple as she suckled on it, the vibrations making Miranda grip Andrea's hair tighter still.

After torturous, wonderful moments, Andrea moved lower, kissing her abdomen, licking around her belly-button, and Miranda's laboured breathing became even faster.

Fingers started pulling down her underwear, and Miranda eagerly lifted her hips. She looked down just in time to watch Andrea sliding the ruined garment off, her dark brown eyes focused on Miranda's centre. Miranda watched as Andrea licked her lips. She looked like a lioness ready to devour her prey. Miranda visibly trembled, and Andrea's scortching gaze lifted and looked right into Miranda's.

"Miranda," she whispered, and encouraged her to part her legs, lowering herself between them. When she kissed the inside of her thigh, Miranda's breath caught. Andrea smirked, trailing kisses down her thigh until she was nearly where Miranda needed her most. "You smell divine."

Before Miranda could formulate a response, she felt Andrea's slick tongue swipe from her entrance to her clit. Miranda threw her head back and whined so loudly she barely recognised herself. Nobody had ever made her sound like this before. Panting, she forced herself to open her eyes and look down at Andrea, and the sight of her between her legs was enough to make her brain short-circuit.

Andrea playfully nosed the damp curls and looked up at Miranda, her eyes shinning with desire and mischief. She placed feather-light kisses on Miranda's lips, and the older woman was beginning to grow impatient. She needed to feel the pleasure of Andrea's tongue again.

"Andrea," she groaned, and reached down to grip the younger woman's hair.

Andrea smirked, and then dove in. She swiped her tongue through the delicious wetness before her, and Miranda lost all coherent thought. Her eyes shut, and she fell into a depth of sensation she had never before experienced. The agile tongue between her legs teased her, tasted her, drank her in. When Andrea hummed against her with pure sexual delight, Miranda whimpered, feeling her core clench in need, becoming wetter than she could ever remember being. Andrea's tongue circled her clit, and Miranda heard what sounded like a desperate wail fill the room before she realised it was coming from her.

There was no way she could last - not when Andrea flicked her talented tongue so rapidly over her clit. But then Andrea went lower still, and teased her opening with her tongue before plunging in.

Miranda screamed.

Her hips lifted off the bed, forcing herself onto the woman's mouth as her body trembled and writhed. Andrea wrapped her arms around her thighs, placing her hands over her hipbones and pressing Miranda down into the mattress. She growled against Miranda's dripping sex, pushing her tongue as deep inside the woman as she could. Miranda choked out a sinful moan. And then, Oh God, Andrea's fingers moved down and rubbed her clit in vicious circles -

"Oh, fuck. Yes!" Something inside her broke, and she found herself doing something she'd never done before. She begged. "Inside - oh, God! - inside me, please!”

Andrea groaned, licked her way back up to give thorough attention to Miranda's clit before quickly changing the position of her arm so she could thrust two fingers inside Miranda, the older woman's wetness letting her fingers plunge as deep as they could go in one smooth thrust.

Just then, brown eyes looked up at Miranda as her body went rigid, every muscle tensed and her back arched off the bed, a vein throbbing in her neck as she threw her head back in a silent, chocked wail of ecstasy. Her thighs trembled uncontrollably on either side of Andrea’s head, her clit throbbing against Andrea's burning tongue, her fingers fisting brown locks in a tight grip, pressing Andrea against her, wanting more, more, more.

Andrea buried a third digit inside her, relentlessly curling her fingers, thrusting them with vigour. She wrapped her lips around her clit before thrashing it with her tongue. Miranda screamed, thighs locking around Andrea's head like a vise, and came again. She felt the waves of pleasure tear through her body, a searing, hot sensation that made her tremble and lose her breath. She'd never felt like this before.

Andrea's ministrations slowed, her tongue soothingly licking up her essence and her fingers giving her a tender massage, making Miranda's hips buck in post-orgasmic spams. Miranda's body fell limply onto the mattress, feeling heavy and weak; she tried to calm her panting breathing and her racing heart, her mind a blissful blankness. She felt Andrea crawl up her body, dropping loving kisses over random part of Miranda's flushed skin. She placed a delicate kiss upon Miranda's lips and, with fingers still slightly sticky, gently moved strands of silver hair away from Miranda's damp forehead.

Miranda sighed, feeling all the tension leave her body as unconsciousness slowly crept in on her. "Andrea..." She murmured, and let herself drift in this blissful state.

 

.oOo.

 

When her eyes blinked open, the first thing her mind processed was the weight atop her chest and thigh. The second thing was that this weight belonged to a deliciously naked Andrea, who rested on Miranda's chest, her leg flung over Miranda's thigh, while her fingers caressed nonsensical patterns over Miranda’s abdomen, the touch soothing and entrancing. Miranda took a deep breath, loving the unique smell of Andrea, and of their earlier activities. Images from before flashed through Miranda's mind. She felt arousal flood through her, and bit her lip.

As if she had read her thoughts, Andrea sighed and moved against her.

"Well, hello there, beautiful," she purred against Miranda's chest, and the older woman wasn't able to hide a smile.

"Hello, Sunrise," she answered, her voice hoarse and deep. Miranda blushed, remembering just how... vocal she had been. Thank God she had waited for the girls to be out of the house before taking Andrea to bed for the first time.

Andrea lifted her head to gaze at Miranda, beaming at the nickname. Miranda felt her heart tighten at the vision Andrea made: hair a tousled mess, almond eyes shinning with warmth and affection, her dazzling smile nearly blinding. Miranda had never experienced such a strong desire to worship and love anyone as much as she wanted to do with Andrea - "Oh!" Miranda exclaimed, her face contorting into a regretful frown. "I'm so sorry! I can't believe I fell asleep after - as if I were a man! I can't believe I didn't - "

"Shh," Andrea said, and held her fingers softly to Miranda's lips to keep her from talking. Miranda could smell herself on the young woman's fingers, and she throbbed with desire. "It's alright. You were only out for a few minutes, and it seemed like you needed it anyways. Wore you out, huh?" Andrea said with a smug expression, smirking so sexily that Miranda lunged forward and pulled her in for an urgent kiss.

She didn't leave Andrea time to recover. She rolled on top of the younger woman, pressing her thigh between her legs. Andrea gasped, all smugness disappearing as she clung to Miranda's lower back. She kissed the woman beneath her with everything she had and more, and then did plenty of exploring of her own. The soft skin of Andrea's neck was impossible not to kiss and lick and suck, and Miranda realised she loved seeing Andrea's skin darken under her ministrations until there was a mark of Miranda's passion. She wanted to cover Andrea all over with worshipping kisses.

How had this woman managed to change her life so drastically? How was Miranda so fortunate as to have stumbled into this fascinating, loving, passionate young woman, who made Miranda feel adored and drunk with pleasure? Andrea had done things to her that Miranda had never even dreamed were possible, and she was desperate for more.

She paid careful attention to Andrea's perfect breasts. They were heavy in Miranda's hands and soft under her lips, and when her ministrations became rougher, Andrea moaned Miranda's name so wantonly that the older woman had to stop herself from fucking Andrea to oblivion right then. As it was, Andrea's body trembled, and her breathing was as laboured as Miranda's had been earlier.

"Please, Miranda... I can't wait anymore. I loved fucking you so much, I'm so ready -"

And something animalistic came forth inside Miranda that had her ripping Andrea's underwear from her body and crawling in between her legs, placing her thighs over her shoulders. Miranda barely took the time to even look at what she had uncovered. She wanted - needed to taste her Andrea -

"Oh, God, yes! Miranda!"

She didn't know what she had been expecting, but Andrea's taste was like nothing she could have imagined. It was sweet, and warm, and Andrea - Miranda drank her in, moaning in pleasure as Andrea's fingers dug into her hair. Looking up, she watched Andrea writhe on the bed, and rapidly flicked her tongue over Andrea's clit the same way she had done to Miranda. Andrea wailed, and yet it wasn't enough.

Using to fingers, she slowly thrust them into Andrea, moaning at the sensation of Andrea's warm, wet walls taking her fingers deep within her. Andrea called out her name again, and Miranda knew by the squeezing of the soft tissue around her fingers that the younger woman was close. She wrapped her lips around Andrea's clit and sucked before curling the fingers inside the younger woman until she pressed against a spot that made Andrea come undone. Miranda watched, entranced, as the orgasm tore through Andrea, ripping a delicious scream from her lips and making her neck arch back in ecstasy.

Miranda continued her thorough ministrations, letting Andrea ride through her orgasm, until the young woman slumped back, her chest rising and falling with every panting breath. Miranda crawled up the delectable body before her, taking time to kiss and leave love bites wherever her heart fancied. When she reached Andrea's mouth, they kissed, making Andrea hum in delight. Miranda smiled and pulled back slightly to look into shinning brown orbs.

"You, my darling, are more special than words could ever describe," Miranda said, trying to capture this moment in her head, so that she could forever remember Andrea like this - hair splayed over Miranda's pillows, eyes bright with velvet fire, lips swollen from their kisses, skin flushed from the pleasure Miranda had given her.

"Wow, coming from an Editor in Chief who is an expert with words, that's quite a feat. And compliment," Andrea teased, grinning happily.

Miranda chuckled, and captured Andrea's lips once more before pressing against the younger woman's body wantonly, her desire coming back full force. Andrea chuckled darkly, and Miranda shivered at the sound.

"I've created a monster, haven't I?" Andrea murmured, leaning down to kiss Miranda's neck while her fingers began playing with rosy nipples.

"Oh, yes, Andrea," Miranda moaned, eyes dropping shut. "I'm simply insatiable."

Chapter Text

At some point during the night, Miranda blinked her eyes open, slowly regaining consciousness. Her room was dark except for a strip of soft moonlight landing across her bed. The sheets felt soft and warm against her naked skin, and her body felt sated and relaxed - except for a delicious ache in certain areas she hadn't used in a long time, which made her smirk. There was a soft, steady breathing coming from her left, and Miranda turned on her side to admire the beautiful vision before her.

Andrea was lying on her back, her naked shoulders peeking from underneath the sheet, chest rising with each deep breath, her face turned toward Miranda, framed by dishevelled brown hair spread wildly over the pillow. Miranda’s gaze softened, and she was unable to suppress as smitten smile. Andrea looked so peaceful in slumber, so unguarded and angelic. The Editor felt her heart flutter in her chest, and she wanted to roll her eyes at her own sickeningly romantic thoughts. Was this what she had become after only one night of good sex? Although, what she had with Andrea went far beyond just sex. Maybe she felt this way - smitten, happy, romantic, contemplative - after finally finding someone who felt right for her.

Suddenly, her stomach growled embarrassingly loudly, interrupting her thoughts and bringing her back to the present. So, it was hunger that had woken her up? Considering how Andrea had denied them dinner the evening prior, and how little Miranda had eaten for lunch earlier in the day - and, of course, considering the unbelievable amount of energy they had spent with such entertaining and pleasurable activities for God knows how many hours - Miranda felt absolutely famished. And she was sure Andrea needed to eat, too. They both needed to recover some strength, especially if they were to continue exploring each other. Miranda felt a flutter of arousal deep in her abdomen just thinking about it.

Gently, she caressed Andrea's soft cheek until brown eyes fluttered open.

"Andrea," she purred quietly, smiling at how adorable the younger woman looked as she groggily returned from the land of dreams. "Andrea, darling, we have to eat something."

Andrea frowned and rolled over into Miranda's front, burying her face in her chest before slurring something that sounded like "but you're my favourite meal".

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes before shaking Andrea's shoulder. "Stop sweet-talking, silly girl. We really do have to eat."

Andrea groaned in protest, but then sighed and rolled onto her back once more. "Ugh, fine. But after we're coming back to bed as soon as we're done. Promise?" She pouted, and Miranda tried to keep her expression from showing just how adorable she found the younger woman in that moment.

"Promise."

Miranda got out of bed swiftly and walked across her room to retrieve two soft silk robes from her closet. When she turned back around, Andrea was laying on her side propped up on her elbow, dark eyes hungrily roaming over Miranda's naked figure. And, despite everything that had happened between them, Miranda couldn't help the blush that bloomed up her neck onto her cheeks, and she pulled the blue robe on before tying it closed across her abdomen. She approached the bed, feeling unusually shy, and handed the green robe to Andrea, who was gazing at her with observant, keen eyes. Miranda felt incredibly vulnerable in that moment, as if Andrea could see into the very depth of her being, and despite how much the younger woman already knew and had seen for herself, Miranda turned away, attempting to hide.

She walked to the vanity at the corner of the room and ran a brush through her hair, taming the messy silver locks until her hair looked more like her signature style, despite being more untamed and wilder than usual. She took a deep breath, trying to gain some control over her composure before she turned to face Andrea once again. The brunette was standing at the foot of the bed wearing Miranda's green robe as if it had been tailored for her figure, and her gaze regarded Miranda steadily.

"Shall we eat?" Miranda asked in a quiet voice before moving towards the door.

Andrea stepped in her path, forcing Miranda to stop in her tracks, and slowly reached up to cup Miranda's jaw. Brown almond eyes looked deeply into ocean blue, and Miranda nearly lost her breath. Andrea's eyes were filled with something intense and warm that shook Miranda to the core of her being. Then, Andrea drew closer, until her dark lashes fluttered close, and Miranda's eyes shut in response mere seconds before she felt Andrea's tender kiss on her lips. It was delicate, soft, soothing, and Miranda forgot any unease she'd felt. The tension seeped out of her body, her shoulders dropping, face relaxing, and the tightness she had felt in her stomach evaporated.

When Andrea pulled back, Miranda looked at her in a daze as Andrea smiled widely and sweetly, her almond orbs shinning with affection. Miranda felt the corner of her eyes crinkle in response, and tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach. Then Andrea stepped back and took her hand.

"Come on," she said, grinning, before tugging Miranda towards the door. "I think I remember you saying something about lasagne and garlic bread?"

Miranda chuckled quietly and let herself be dragged from the bedroom and down to the kitchen.

 

.oOo.

 

Miranda had to admit that this had not been what she'd envisioned for the romantic dinner she had made. Sitting at the kitchen island with Andrea in just their robes, hair still dishevelled, make up wiped off, they practically inhaling their food. And yet, Miranda felt so content, so relaxed, she wouldn't change a single thing. They ate in comfortable silence, savouring the delicious meal, glancing at each other and smiling like lovesick teenagers. Miranda never wanted to forget this night. She knew that for the rest of her days Miranda would reflect on her past with 'Before Andrea' and 'After Andrea' as a life-changing marker in her life.

They finished their food, and Miranda leaned her elbow on the kitchen island to prop her chin up on her hand, her soft gaze on the magnificent woman sitting before her.

"Careful, honey," Andrea said, grinning. "If you look at me like that in public, the whole Ice Queen persona will go up in smoke."

Miranda chuckled, taking pleasure in the fact that nobody else - not even her previous partners - had been comfortable enough around her to speak to her in such a teasing way regarding her less-than-flattering moniquers. Or to call her "honey", for that matter.

"Hmm," she hummed, masking her features into the cold, stern, 'Dragon Lady' expression she always wore at Runway. She placed her razor-sharp focus on Andrea, and by the mischievous twinkle in almond eyes, she was enjoying Miranda's little act of toughness. For good measure, Miranda pursed her lips, tapping her lower lip with her finger, and raised her eyebrow. She took pride in how Andrea blushed and licked her lips. "Indeed, it would be such a pity after all the hard work I put into it. I suppose you could find a way to compensate me for it."

She had not even finished the sentence before Andrea had leapt from her seat, grabbed Miranda's hand, and marched her back into the bedroom.

 

.oOo.

 

The next time she drifted back into wakefulness, Miranda blinked slowly and stretched her limbs deliciously, humming at the soft pull of muscles. She sighed contentedly before melting back into the mattress, enjoying the feeling of restfulness and a deep-sated contentedness that was engraved in her chest after the previous night. Andrea had taken her to new places, explored every curve and dip of Miranda's body, had made Miranda feel an ecstasy and a satisfaction never before fulfilled. Turning to her side, Miranda's eyes found Andrea's - the young woman watched her with a soft, knowing smile curving her lips.

"Don't look so smug," Miranda chastised, although the corners of her lips twitched, and her blue eyes reflected an ocean of joy.

"Can't help it," Andrea said, scooting closer until she could place a leg over Miranda's. "Last night was amazing."

Miranda's lips turned into a smile, warm and affectionate. "Yes," she hummed in agreement, and leaned closer. "It was."

They kissed softly, lazily, and Miranda hummed in delight. Before either of them could take it any further, however, Andrea pulled back with a smirk.

"So, what would your highness like for lunch?"

Miranda blinked, then frowned. "Lunch? Don't you mean breakfast?"

Andrea's smug look returned, and she visibly forced herself to keep from laughing. "Yes, lunch. It's nearly noon, Miranda."

Miranda's eyes widened. "What?" She twisted around under the covers to look at her small alarm clock on her nightstand, and gasped. "Oh, Jesus," she said in utter disbelief. "I can't remember the last time I was able to sleep past 8 am!"

Andrea's melodious laughter sounded from behind Miranda, and the editor turned around to glare at her, which - to her disappointment - only added to Andrea's amusement. With a great deal of sass, Andrea replied, "I guess the secret to a good long sleep is a good--"

"Fuck?"

"I was going to say 'work out', but yours is far more accurate."

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes before rolling out of bed and pulling on her robe. She began to move around the room, gathering her outfit for the day - lingerie, stockings, a sky blue dress that flared around her knees, her favourite Prada heels, and jewellery. When she was finally satisfied, she looked up and caught Andrea observing her from the bed, proud in her nude state and expression soft.

"Well?" Miranda asked. "Are you going to get ready, or did you want to remain in bed all day?"

Andrea chuckled. "An entire day spent in bed with you? I wouldn't be opposed to that idea."

Miranda snorted. "I'm far too busy a woman for that, Andrea. Perhaps when I retire."

Miranda froze, not realising the slip of her tongue. It was far too soon to be speaking about a future - a very distant future at that, because Miranda knew she would only retire when she was physically or mentally unable to keep working. Besides, who was to say Andrea would stick around for that long? Miranda was far older than her, and the age difference would be impossible to ignore if Miranda ended up bed ridden and crippled while Andrea was still young and active. Who could blame her for seeking a better life with someone better suited for her?

Before her thoughts could escalate further into an anxious mess, Miranda felt two toned arms surround her middle and pull her firmly against Andrea's very warm (and very naked) body.

"Well, whenever you decide to indulge with me in a day of being lazy in bed, I'll be more than happy to do so," she said, her tone light, but her eyes showing a depth of understanding that made Miranda know that her previous thoughts had been written all over her face.

As if to put the matter to rest, Andrea leaned in for a long, deep kiss that made Miranda forget all about age differences and future plans. She needed to remember to simply enjoy the present and take things one day at a time. If she and Andrea were meant to last, then they would. It was useless to worry about such a distant future when there was so much to enjoy now. Pulling back, Andrea smiled so brightly that Miranda had to force herself not to swoon at the beauty of her.

"Now, I'm going to go make coffee while you shower. How does scrambled egg with avocado and tomatoes sound?"

Miranda smiled. "Delicious."

Chapter Text

Miranda felt as if she were floating on a cloud.

Everything about the last three weeks had been heavenly. She and Andrea spoke every day, and saw each other as often (and discreetly) as possible. Miranda just couldn't help herself, the younger woman was intoxicating.

She understood Miranda better than probably anyone else ever had. Each time they were together, Miranda felt at peace, safe - something she had never felt in any past relationships. It was baffling. And kind of scary, truth be told. It terrified Miranda that so much depended on another person. She had always been self-sufficient, and painfully independent. She had always been the type of person to stay very, very far away from emotional intimacy of any kind. Except with the twins, of course.

So it was a pretty big adjustment, this new life she'd found. She did her best to live up to what Andrea deserved in a partner. She spoke to Andrea as honestly and openly as possible, she let her worries and insecurities be slowly washed away, she even did something she had never done before and began adjusting her work life to fit around her personal life. Every day, she worked hard to be worthy of Andrea, and the younger woman rewarded her with beaming smiles and loving words and soft caresses.

Miranda often had to shake herself, or pinch herself, because her mind had trouble believing any of this was real. Here she was, a middle-aged, twice divorced, single mother who was only now experiencing her sexual awakening. How ironic. She'd devoted her entire life to creating art from the female form, and only now did Miranda realise just how wonderful the female body was without a single strip of couture covering the delightful skin underneath. How could she ever believe that stick-thin, plain models were the epitome of beauty standards when feminine curves were so delightful? Now, she'd kill just to worship Andrea's curves and stomach and breasts. How had Miranda been so often surrounded by near-naked women, and never been affected by any of them? Perhaps it was just Andrea who did this to her. Perhaps Miranda really wasn't interested in anyone else.

Regardless of all the unanswered questions, there is one thing that she is absolutely certain about: Andrea is good. Andrea should be loved, and protected, and kept, no matter what. Miranda would give away every single precious item in her closet, she would resign Runway, she would never go anywhere near a fashion show again, if it meant that Andrea would stay by her side. Luckily for her, Andrea adamantly supported Miranda in her career, unlike Miranda's ex-husbands. Her interest in Miranda's work was so honest, her questions and her insights so thoughtful, that Miranda fell a little more in love with her each time Andrea listened to another of Miranda's work-related rants, brown eyes attentive as she soaked up each and every word. It was an incredible aphrodisiac.

Just eight days ago, Miranda had gone to Andrea's apartment late in the evening, only to find the young woman had been pouring over past Runway issues. She had been reading each and every one of them since Miranda's first issue as Editor in Chief, and had been taking thorough notes on the margins of the pages. It was enough to ignite such a carnal passion in Miranda that she hadn't thought twice before dragging the younger woman to the bedroom and thoroughly showing her appreciation with her mouth, tongue, and fingers until Andrea was screaming her name.

So, yes, Andrea was good for her. More than good for her, in fact. Which is why Miranda had vowed to do everything in her power to keep her by her side. She would not let this one get away.

As the elevator ascended, Miranda fidgeted nervously, her fingers twirling the ribbon encasing the massive flower bouquet she had bought especially for Andrea. They hadn't seen each other since the last time Miranda came over a week ago, and anticipation curled at the pit of her stomach. After receiving a message inviting her to a late dinner at Andrea's apartment, Miranda had spent a good hour and a half getting ready. Tonight, Miranda was putting herself out there more than usual: she had decided to be bold, but her earlier confidence was waning slightly the closer she got to Andrea. She felt nervous butterflies fluttering in her abdomen as she made her way down the hallway towards Andrea's door.

She knocked only twice before the door was flung open, and Miranda lost her breath. Andrea stood before her in a fitted cerulean blouse so sheer that Miranda could easily see the lacy bodice underneath it. The black skirt hugged her figure perfectly, and her shapely legs were beautifully defined by a pair of 4-inch heels.

"Hey there, gorgeous," Andrea said, and Miranda's eyes snapped up to her face, the brilliant smile filling Miranda with warmth. My, it had only been eight days, and yet Miranda felt like it had been far too long since she was at the receiving end of Andrea's lovely smile. Unacceptable.

Miranda didn't respond. Instead, she stepped forward, snaking her free arm around Andrea's waist and pulling the younger woman flush against her. She didn't even process Andrea's surprised little noise before leaning forward and capturing rosy lips with her own. Andrea melted against her, kissing her back before reaching up to cup Miranda's jaw affectionately. Humming, she pulled back, dark eyes twinkling with delight.

"Missed me?" she asked with a teasing grin.

Miranda nearly rolled her eyes, but instead gave the young woman another slow once-over. "Hmm," she hummed in response. "Perhaps."

Andrea chuckled before pulling away and taking Miranda by the hand.

"Are those for me?"

Miranda shook herself before looking at the flowers in her hand. "Oh, yes, of course," she muttered, trying not to let herself feel nervous as she handed over the bouquet.

She had chosen this with particular care. Not many people knew that Miranda had a deep love for flowers. Every single one had its meaning and purpose, every petal chosen carefully to create the perfect combination of colours and scents. This particular bouquet had taken a considerable amount of time to put together, but it was worth it, because Andrea was looking at it with wonder as she delighted in its beauty. When she brought it close to smell the flowers, Miranda felt a sense of pride and contentment, and she hoped Andrea understood.

"These are beautiful, Miranda. I love them, thank you."

She leaned forward again, and kissed Miranda lightly before moving away in search for a vase that would do the bouquet justice. While Andrea got the flowers ready, Miranda took off her coat and headed towards the kitchen. There was a pot slow-cooking on the stove, and Miranda took a deep breath of the mouth-watering smell. Whatever they were having for dinner, it was bound to be delicious.

She heard a gasp from the doorway behind her, and turned to find Andrea's eyes roaming up and down her figure. Miranda couldn't hold back a smirk. She had chosen this dress with Andrea in mind. It was black and clung to her curves perfectly, but the best part was the bodice. It was tight like a corset, but soft to the touch. The off-the-shoulder neckline showed off her collar bones - a feature she knew Andrea adored. And, best of all, the dress was backless, showing off the top half of her toned back, and dipping into a provocative vee cut at the dip of her spine.

"Jesus, Miranda."

Miranda's smirk grew at just how breathless Andrea sounded, and she knew that tonight would be good. She could hardly wait.

 

.oOo.

 

Dinner was spectacular. Andrea had made risotto with steamed vegetables and home-baked bread that was still warm and crisp. The candles provided a perfect warm light that made both women glow under the dancing flames that caressed their skin and shone in their eyes. The fairy lights around them made Miranda feel like she was in a real-life photo shoot, and the soft music soothed her. It was a lovely night, the sky clear enough that some stars were visible, and the air was warm and inviting. The sounds of the city beyond the terrace were oddly distant, and Miranda could not remember a lovelier set-up for a date in her life. Andrea had clearly put so much effort into this that Miranda was having trouble coming up with any clues as to what she had done to deserve this.

They talked about many things, many of which had been left unsaid until they both felt comfortable enough to open up fully to each other. It seemed tonight the mood was right, and they both felt secure enough in their relationship that they didn't want to hold anything back.

Miranda wanted to know more about Andrea's life before New York, and the woman told her all about her mid-western family. She spoke about her nieces and nephews, how her dad used to read her bed-time stories every night until the age of eleven, how her mom used to take her horse-back riding every weekend. They spoke of Andrea's dreams of becoming a journalist, and how she discovered her love for psychology just before going to college. They talked about Andrea's coming out, and how her family reacted, how her mom had cried, and how she didn't see her nieces and nephews as much anymore. Miranda tried to push the feelings of indignation and outrage to the back of her mind, and simply held Andrea's hand comfortingly.

They discussed Miranda's life, too. She talked about her ex-husbands, about falling in love with Greg. She tried her best to describe how she felt the moment she found out she was pregnant with twins, and tried (but failed) to do justice to the feeling of holding her two babies for the first time. She talked about how much her daughters have taught her, and how much she hopes she's a good mother to them.

Andrea reached for her hand, entwining their fingers, her expression honest and warm.

"You're an incredible mother, Miranda. I can see how much you love your daughters every time you talk about them, and I fall more for you every time. They're so lucky to have you. And so am I."

Miranda's heart leapt to her throat, and her eyes stung with emotion. She couldn't think of what to say to that, but Andrea seemed to understand, because she smiled sweetly before turning her attention back to her meal.

After dinner had been cleared away, they sat together in front of the telescope, sharing one of the lounge chairs, their thighs touching.

"You see that one that looks kind of like a V? That's Pisces." Andrea said as Miranda looked through the telescope. She felt breathless with the beauty of the universe. She was entranced by the stars in Andrea's eyes, the enthusiasm in her voice. "Oh! And there's Pegasus! You see him? He's quite a tricky one to spot, he's kind of upside down if you connect that square with those stars there, and there. See him?" Miranda nodded, mesmerised. "Did you know in Greek mythology, Pegasus was born from the blood of Medusa mixed with ocean water? He's basically her child."

Miranda leaned away from the telescope to gaze at Andrea. "Really? I didn't know that."

Andrea nodded vigorously, and she leaned forward. "Yeah, Medusa was always my favourite. She was so misunderstood, you know? It wasn't her fault that men abused and assaulted her for her beauty. Some academics claim that Athena cursed Medusa with ugliness and deadly eyes in order to protect her, so that men wouldn't hurt her anymore."

Miranda tilted her head, and regarded Andrea closely. "So you're saying that Medusa's head full of snakes and ability to turn men into stone was actually Athena's way of keeping her safe? How romantic."

Andrea beamed. "Yep! It's not the most common interpretation of the story, but it's the one I like most."

Miranda nodded. "I can see why." And then, perhaps because of the wine, or Andrea's endearing passion about constellations and mythology, or maybe simply because Miranda felt comfortable around her, she blurted: "You're kind of like my Athena."

Andrea blinked, clearly surprised, and Miranda blushed. She scrambled to explain herself.

"What I mean is that, I feel like you protect me. Many men have hurt me in the past, but I forget about all of that when I'm with you, because you make me feel safe and understood." Andrea's eyes melted with warmth, and Miranda reigned in the rampant romanticism before things got more emotional. "Plus, I've been told I can freeze men with my icy glares."

Andrea snorted, and Miranda felt her shoulders lose some of the tension from the intensity of the moment.

"That makes sense, actually," Andrea said, and leaned forward to capture Miranda's lips in a tender kiss. It was early enough in their relationship that Miranda was not yet used to the sensation of Andrea's lips, and she revelled in it. Andrea pulled back slightly, murmuring against their kiss, "I like the idea of being your Athena."

Miranda smiled against her lips, and ran her fingers through long brown locks, pulling Andrea closer for a deeper kiss. Andrea's tongue swiped against her lower lip before teasing inside, and the taste of wine was just as addictive as the feeling of Andrea's breaths against her cheek.

"Mm," Miranda hummed, tracing kisses down Andrea's jaw and neck. "Bedroom."

Before she knew it, Andrea was standing up and dragging her across the terrace and into the apartment, down the hallway and into the bedroom. Without speaking a word, Andrea began to unbutton her blouse, and Miranda was helpless to do anything but watch. As more skin was revealed, Miranda felt her mouth go dry. The blouse was discarded and dropped on the floor, the skirt zipper slowly undone before the material fell to pool around Andrea's high-heeled feet. Miranda's eyes glazed over as she took it all in. The lacy bodice Andrea wore fitted her perfectly, her breasts encased beautifully. A pair of matching underwear hid very little from Miranda's eyes, and she could not help but repeatedly drag them up and down Andrea's breath-taking body. She kicked her heels off before stepping towards Miranda, and the older woman felt her heart speed up at her proximity.

"I have a surprise for you," Andrea purred, and then lowered her head to drop light, teasing kisses down Miranda's neck. Her eyes fluttered closed at the sensation, head lolling to the side to give the young woman more access. "I have a feeling you'll love it." A caress of tongue sent a shiver down Miranda's body. "But first, I'm going to take my time undressing you, because you have been torturing me all night with this dress."

A scrape of teeth against her pulse point made Miranda's breath hitch. Andrea kissed her exposed collarbone, worshipping her shoulder, kissing a path down to the hint of cleavage. She shivered when Andrea's tongue swiped underneath the dress, between her breasts, and she instinctively buried her hands in Andrea's luxurious hair.

Something touched the back of her knees, and Miranda realised they had somehow moved to the bed. Andrea's hands reached around her, searching the material, and she huffed impatiently against soft skin.

"Where does this thing - "

Miranda bit her lip in amusement, but the sensation of Andrea haphazardly feeling for a zipper was tickling Miranda's sides. Plus, her frustration was adorable.

"Miranda!" Andrea whined helplessly, "Help!"

She wasn't able to suppress her bark of laughter any longer.

"Here," she said softly, and turned around to face the bed so that Andrea could see her back. "There's a button at the small of my back."

Andrea trailed her fingertips over Miranda's shoulder blades, whispering feathers against her muscles, trailing a light path down her spine. Goose bumps followed their trail of warmth, and Andrea felt satisfaction at the visible proof of how much her touch affected the other woman. She leaned forward, pressing her lips against the back of Miranda's neck, spreading kisses over her shoulders and down her back.

She lowered herself to the ground until she was on her knees, and her lips focused on the spot at the small of Miranda's back, just above the cut of the dress. She had discovered this particular erogenous zone several days earlier, when she had taken Miranda from behind over her desk at the townhouse. It had been an especially hot encounter that left Miranda unable to walk for nearly ten minutes. Andrea hummed at the memory and worshipped the spot with her tongue. Miranda shivered in response, the feeling of soft lips bringing the memory to the forefront of her mind. Oh, God.

Andrea's hands touched her ankles and trailed upwards, teasing the tense calves, following the curve of shapely thighs, until they reached over the curve of her hips to undo the single button holding the dress together. She leaned back and watched, mesmerised, as the dress fell from Miranda's shoulders to pool around her hips. Andrea tugged it down until it fell to the floor, and lost her breath. This was easily one of the sexiest sights she had ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.

Miranda had forgone wearing a bra, and her lacy thong left little to the imagination, but most breath-taking of all was her garter belt that held up her thigh highs. The lace kissing her thighs was exquisite, and Andy couldn't help the urge to lean forward and trail her lips over them. Before she could get more enthusiastic, Miranda turned around, and Andrea's brain short-circuited. This. This was the sexiest thing she had ever witnessed. Kneeling before Miranda like this, she had never felt more alive.

Miranda's own breath caught in her throat at the sight of Andrea kneeling before her, brown eyes dark with lust, devouring her whole. She had put a lot of effort into her appearance tonight, and she was satisfied to see just how much it paid off. She reached down with her hand and trailed her thumb over Andrea's lower lip, feeling her heart flutter when luscious lips parted and a teasing tongue swirled around Miranda's thumb before sucking it into her mouth. Doe eyes gazed up at her, unable to look away from her figure, and Miranda had never felt more beautiful or powerful in her life.

"Now, darling," she purred, and watched as Andrea's eyelids fluttered at the sound of her lustful voice. "I believe you have a surprise for me."

Andrea drew back from her hand and smirked, the mischievous glint in her eye both thrilling and nerve-wracking. She stood up gracefully before pressing her hand against Miranda's chest. Taking the hint, she sat down on the plush mattress and barely managed to kick her heels off before Andrea straddled her lap. Miranda loved this particular position, and took advantage of it by kissing Andrea's neck and chest, anywhere she could reach. Her hands caressed her soft sides, and then reached down to cup Andrea's supple ass. Andrea hummed in delight, pressing her hips into Miranda's lap wantonly.

"How would you feel," she breathed, "if we experimented more?"

Miranda drew back, frowning. her mind, they had already done a fair amount of experimenting. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she explored sex so thoroughly with someone.

They'd had sex in many different places, in many different positions, in many different ways. They'd had morning sex, afternoon sex, mid-night sex. They'd done it in the shower, because Miranda had a spacious rainfall shower and Andrea was impossible to deny when she asked to share it. They had done it on the floor and against the wall when both of them had been too impatient to make it all the way to bed. They'd had sex in the office at the townhouse, in the kitchen, in the living room, and even in the foyer that one time, because Miranda loved the thrilling memories scattered all around her house.

Another new facet of her sex life since being with Andrea was that there was so much more than the missionary position. She had ridden Andrea's fingers, and her face, and vice versa - and, oh, how delightful it was to ride Andrea's tongue and look down into dark stormy eyes. They'd tried sixty-nine, which had felt amazing but ultimately too distracting to reach a simultaneous climax. Miranda had been delicious taken on her knees from behind, and loved the sight of Andrea bending over for her as well. There was also that time when she had gone down on Andrea when the young woman had been working at her desk - although she didn't work for very long after she dropped to her knees.

So, overall, yes, Miranda would say that in the past weeks she had experimented sexually more than in her entire life. However, that didn't mean she was about to stop now.

"What were you thinking?"

Andrea's lips curled into a salacious smirk. "I was thinking we could use toys."

Miranda blinked, and reminded herself to breathe.

"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow, and hoped Andrea would understand what she was really asking.

Andrea nodded, her brown locks falling over her shoulders.

"Yeah. I was thinking maybe you'd like to fuck me with a strap on," Miranda inhaled sharply, but before her mind could conjure up all the images Andrea's words enticed her with, her lover continued: "Or, maybe I could fuck you. I've been told I'm pretty stellar with my hips."

Miranda didn't even process the fact that past lovers had been involved in such activities with her Andrea. The only thing her lust-clouded mind could focus on was the idea of Andrea on top of her, taking charge, fucking her with abandon -

"Oh, yes."

Andrea smirked, and she looked so domineering in that moment that Miranda felt herself clench in anticipation. She leaned down and captured Miranda's lips in a toe-curling kiss that left the older woman breathless and wanting for more.

"I will be right back then."

And before she could complain, Andrea was out of her arms and gliding into the en suit bathroom.

Miranda took a moment to compose herself. Suggestive images fluttered through her mind, and the desire they curled in her stomach told her that yes, she absolutely wanted this. And she was going to love it. Her imagination ran rampant and free, wondering about all the ways, all the positions, all the orgasms -

The door to the bathroom opened, and she stared, mouth slack, as Andrea stepped out wearing nothing but her lace bodice and a black leather strap on. The dildo attached to it was also black, the realistic shape of it making her heartbeat pound in her ears. As Andrea drew closer, Miranda could see the detailed veins running down the thick shaft, and it looked so much more appealing than any other cock she had ever seen. She didn't know whether the reason lied on the fact that it was a fake, or the person wearing it, but already Miranda knew this would be amazing.

"I know, I know," Andrea rolled her eyes, waving a hand through the air carelessly. "It looks ridiculous. But trust me, it'll feel good."

Miranda wanted to object, to say that Andrea could decide to wear the most ridiculous eye sore in the universe and she would still find her attractive, but she couldn't stop herself from surveying the view with a critical eye (you can't turn off the Editor mind completely, after all) and she had to agree that yes, it did look sort of ridiculous. Andrea must have seen the amused agreement in her eyes, because suddenly she was on top of her and removing the last of her garments and kissing her with so much passion that Miranda forgot all about aesthetics. The only thing she could do was submit to her Andrea.

She had never submitted to anyone like this. Even with her husbands, she never let them take full control. But as Andrea's lips made their way down Miranda's neck, she knew that she could never compare Andrea to anyone else. They all fell short. Not only was Andrea the best at pleasing her  she was also the only person Miranda had ever felt truly comfortable with. It apparently made all the difference to be intimate with someone and being able to let go and not worry about what they might think. Miranda could writhe in pleasure and beg in agony and make herself painfully vulnerable in her ecstasy, because she knew that she didn't need to hold back. Not with Andrea.

And God, Andrea truly knew how to work Miranda's body like an instrument. She knew just where to kiss, where to touch, where to bite to make her skin burn up and a harmony of tension to build up in her lower stomach. She knew exactly where Miranda wanted her tongue, and just how rough to be, and where to be gentle. She could build Miranda up, teasing her endlessly, giving her pleasure but not enough. And when Andrea finally gave her what she wanted, when she finally took Miranda to the greatest of heights, it was all-consuming, breath-takingly beautiful. The greatest beauty of all. And Miranda, who had spent her entire life searching for beautiful things, knew she could never go back to being without Andrea.

So when Miranda felt her lips travel downwards to worship her breasts, she moaned in pleasure. When that tantalising mouth trailed down her abdomen, nipping at her hipbones and swirling around her bellybutton, she trembled and bit her lip. And when Andrea's tongue reached the juncture of her thighs, teasing her mercilessly without paying any attention to where Miranda needed her most, she began to writhe in frustration.

"Andrea - Oh!"

The first slow, hard swipe of Andrea's tongue through her folds always sent a shock of pleasure through Miranda, unparalleled to anything she'd felt before. Her fingers found their way to Andrea's hair once again, and they clenched into tight fists when Andrea's tongue paid special attention to her clit. Andrea's hands began to wander, caressing Miranda's thighs, sides, abdomen and breasts, until she felt drunk with sensation. She whimpered, unable to keep her eyes open anymore when Andrea's tongue teased her opening before dipping inside. Miranda's thighs clenched around her head, and she moaned as that talented tongue began to delve deep inside her.

Andy, for her part, was in her own version of heaven. Being like this, between Miranda's legs, with her taste in her mouth and the sounds of her pleasure filling the room, it was something Andy knew she'd never get enough of. She spent countless hours and many, many days and nights learning everything about Miranda's body. She was meticulous, probably more so than ever in her life, to learn how to pleasure her partner. It was an exploration without an end, because she kept finding new ways to make Miranda moan and tremble and come. And she really couldn't wait to try this little new adventure she had planned. She had a feeling Miranda would enjoy it just as much.

But first, this.

Miranda's neck arched in pleasure as Andrea moved her tongue in hard, circular strokes over her clit. She felt Andrea's finger probing her, teasing her entrance in just the right places (and what a surprise it had been for her, to find out just how sensitive she was there). Andrea continued her ministrations between her legs, never going inside, never filling Miranda the way she needed, never sucking on her clit in just the right way to get her off. Instead, she was being teased mercilessly, and she gripped the duvet in frustration.

"Andrea," she groaned, and squeezed her eyes when she felt Andrea's dark chuckle vibrate against her wet skin. "Stop. Teasing."

Andrea's lips curled into a satisfied smile. Miranda could feel it against her skin, her hot breath making her shiver. "Yes, Miranda."

And then she plunged two fingers into her with a deep, fast thrust that made Miranda moan so loudly she surprised herself. Andrea didn't even give her time to adjust to the fullness before she was curling her fingers in just the right way and pressing against the special spot near Miranda's cervix that made her body spasm and her hips thrust up involuntarily. So visceral was her reaction that she banged her pubic bone against Andrea's nose. The younger woman leapt away from her with a yelp, face contorted in pain.

"Ow!" she groaned, scrunching up her nose. "Fuck, Miranda, that hurt."

"Sorry," Miranda panted, then moaned as her walls involuntarily squeezed around the fingers still inside her. She was so overworked, she felt sweat at the back of her neck. "But if you even dare to move your fingers away I will personally strangle you."

Andrea snorted, and looked at Miranda with such amusement and laughter in her eyes that Miranda wanted to smack her with a pillow. Before she could grab said pillow, however, Andrea curled her fingers again, and Miranda whimpered.

"Fuck, Andrea - "

"It's okay, I forgive you. We'll just have to find a way for you to compensate me."

Suddenly, against Miranda's strict orders, she pulled her fingers away, and Miranda whined at the loss.

"Has anyone ever told you you're a bit dramatic?"

Clearly, she was in the mood of teasing and taunting Miranda.

"And has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?"

Andrea smirked, and Miranda rolled her eyes impatiently. In a second, the younger woman crawled back up Miranda's body, spread her legs open wider, and settled between them. Miranda's breath caught in her throat at the feeling of the dildo pressing against her folds, and her body tensed up. Suddenly she realised that she hadn't had something this big in... well, she couldn't even remember.

"Go slow," she whispered, her voice changing from self-assured to shy in an instant. "I- I haven't--"

"Shh," Andrea smiled, and used her slightly sticky fingers to move Miranda's forelock away from her eyes. "I have you."

She leaned down and kissed her, softly at first, sharing Miranda's taste with her until Miranda relaxed under her ministrations. Andrea caressed her tongue, sucked her bottom lip in the most delicious way, until Miranda relaxed back into the sheets. The kisses trailed a path down her jaw until they reached that special spot behind her ear, where Andrea used lips, tongue, and teeth to make Miranda delirious with lust once again. Shocks of pleasure ran down her body, and she panted against Andrea's ear.

"Darling..." she mumbled, and Andrea knew that was her cue.

She dragged her mouth further down Miranda's body to worship perfect breasts, and sucked on the tight nipples desperate for attention. Miranda moaned, and didn't even notice Andrea's hands moving as she reached blindly for the lube and spread a copious amount on the phallus between her own legs. Miranda could feel her thighs trembling, and her heartbeat pounded in her ears as Andrea crawled back up.

"Look at me."

Miranda obeyed, and chocolate orbs looked intently into her own eyes as Andrea gripped her thigh with one hand while the other positioned herself at Miranda's entrance. She held her breath, and Andrea pressed down gently with her hips until the head slid inside.

Oh.

She held still, not going all the way in, letting Miranda adjust to the girth of it. And thank God, because Miranda was trying to catch her breath.

Oh, wow.

They kept eye contact, Andrea searching her eyes for any indication of discomfort, any sign that she should stop or keep going. Miranda's eyes fluttered, and she slowly released a breath, willing herself to relax. This was Andrea with her, on top of her, inside her. She would take care of her, no matter what.

Andrea must have seen a change in her eyes, because slowly she pressed deeper, sliding inch by inch, and Miranda's mouth dropped to form a perfect 'o' as she felt increasingly full. When Andrea's hips finally met the apex of her thighs, when she was buried inside to the hilt, she cried out in pleasure as Andrea hit all the right places. Her lover kept her hips perfectly still, leaning down to drop kisses everywhere she could reach - Miranda's face, neck, chest - while she waited for her to adjust to the fullness.

Miranda was panting, neck glistening in sweat and chest blushed a beautiful pink. Eyes were wide and lips parted in surprise at the shocking amount of pleasure that feeling Andrea so close brought. She felt so full, so overwhelmed, she needed more, more, more. 

"Andrea," Miranda whimpered when she realised her lover would need verbal proof that she was more than ready for this. "Move."

And so she did, slowly pulling out almost completely before sliding back in. As their bodies pressed close together Miranda shut her eyes and saw stars. Andrea continued this movement - slowly out, faster in, out, in - while watching Miranda's face closely, admiring the way her chest rose and fell as she panted, the way her lips let the most delicious, sinful moans escape, how her brow furrowed in pleasure. She was beautiful, so breath-takingly perfect that Andrea got swept up by the moment, moving her hips faster and her thrusts reaching deeper until Miranda was crying out in ecstasy.

"Andrea - ah! Yes!"

She'd found the perfect angle, and Miranda knew she had never felt this sort of pleasure before. No man had been able to make her feel this way, and she wrapped her legs around Andrea's waist, pulling her closer still, welcoming her thrusts deeper. She moaned as Andrea gripped her hips, thrusting faster and harder, and Miranda could do nothing but grasp at the toned back and try to breathe whenever she could. Andrea moaned as Miranda's nails dug into her skin, and reached down to kiss and lick and bite at Miranda's neck. It was that last action that broke something within Miranda, and an animalistic, primal side of her came forth with a vengeance.

"Oh, God. Oh, fuck. Yes - harder!"

Andrea couldn't resist - she began to pound into Miranda with new-found urgency, the bed shaking with each hard thrust. The room was filled with the sounds of their bodies slapping against one another, of Miranda's increasingly loud cries of pleasure, of Andrea's pants and moans as she fucked her, of Miranda's sinful amount of wetness -

"Help me," Andrea panted into Miranda's ear. "Touch your clit. I want you to scream when you come."

Miranda moaned as arousal shot through her body at Andrea's words. She bit her lip as her hand made its way between their bodies to put pressure on her own clit. Her thighs trembled at either side of Andrea's hips, and she became so delirious with pleasure that she began to mumble incomprehensively as Andrea continued to fiercely pound into her, even harder that before, until Miranda's entire body moved with the motions. She rubbed at her clit with two fingers just as Andrea leaned down to suck at the sensitive pulse point at her neck. Suddenly Miranda's toes curled, her thighs clenched, her whole body locked in exquisite ecstasy as her eyes rolled back and she screamed as wave upon wave of ecstasy tore through her. She soared higher into unknown heights of pleasure, and she was oblivious to anything except the feeling of scorching heat burning her everywhere in the most delightful ways.

Long moments passed with her locked in this blissful state, until her body could take no more and it collapsed back onto the bed, her muscles trembling and spasming in post-orgasmic shocks. Her legs fell weakly from their vice-like grip around Andrea's hips, and she panted harshly, her lungs fighting to catch her breath. Andrea's movements slowed to a stop, and Miranda kept her eyes closed as the younger woman dropped sweet, gentle kisses down her neck, over her collarbones and chest.

Finally, Miranda's trembling stopped, and her body returned from the stratosphere back into the moment. Her breathing slowed to its normal state, and her heart no longer felt like it was pounding out of her chest. She gathered enough strength to blink her eyes open, and her breath caught when she saw Andrea gazing down at her. There was a look of awed reverence on her face as she admired Miranda's every feature, burning the image into her memory.

"Wow," Andrea whispered in wonder.

Miranda gave a tired but honest smile, and her eyes twinkled like the ocean under bright sunlight. "Wow, indeed," she murmured, her voice rough and husky from her rather vocal display of ecstasy.

While they gazed at one another basking in the afterglow, Andrea reached up with delicate fingertips to caress her cheek, her eyebrow, her jaw. Miranda had never felt so cherished, so sincerely adored in her entire life.

"You are incredible beyond words, my darling," Miranda murmured, and leaned up to softly kiss beautifully full lips.

Andrea's beaming smile was so joyous and sincere that Miranda felt her heart flutter in her chest. How did she get so lucky? Instead of answering, Andrea leaned down and kissed her once more.

"Okay, I need you to take a deep breath now," the younger woman said.

Miranda did, and Andrea pulled away from her. Miranda felt a slight sting of pain, and then a loss so sharp that she whimpered. But before she knew it, Andrea had quickly divested herself of the strap on and flung it over the side of the bed before covering them with the duvet and pulling Miranda close. The older woman breathed in deeply, revelling in Andrea's scent - her perfume, her shampoo, and her sweat - all the smells that had somehow become home.

They stayed in silence for some time, basking in their closeness and the amazing experience they had just shared. Andrea's fingertips traced nonsensical patters over Miranda's abdomen, waist and hips, while Miranda in turn threaded her fingers through silky brown hair. The peaceful moment was broken when Andrea raised herself on her elbow and looked down at Miranda with a teasing grin on her face.

"Hey, remember that time you nearly broke my nose during sex?"

This time Miranda didn't hold back, and smacked that smug look off Andrea's face with a ruthless slap of her pillow.

Chapter Text

"I want you to meet the girls."

Andy's head jerked up from her book only to find Miranda looking at Andy intently, thoughtfully. She was curled up at the other end of the sofa, red pen poised pensively over her lower lip, The Book resting open on her lap, abandoned for now. They had both needed to unwind after a hectic day of work, and Andy's therapy studio seemed like the perfect place. Incense smoke twirled in the air between them, and the evening light made Miranda's eyes look as sharp as crystals.

Andy blinked. "You want me to meet the twins?"

Miranda rolled her eyes, and Andy was reminded how it grated her lover to repeat herself. Instead of dwelling on it, she leaned forward, smiling widely.

"I mean - I'd love to! If you're sure, and if you feel like the time is right, I'm more than happy to."

"Good," Miranda remarked with disinterest, as if discussing the weather, but Andy could see how her shoulders relaxed, and the supressed, relieved smile defiantly curling the corners of her lips. "It's settled then. Come to the townhouse for a meal this weekend. I'll have to talk to my girls to make sure they don't have any plans. Perhaps an early dinner will work, I can ask Cara to cook her famous vegetable stew. Unless you'd rather have lasagne? The girls love it, and I can always have her make some vegetable-based side to go with the ridiculously carb-ridden pasta."

Andy smiled as she watched Miranda ramble, as if she was speaking more to herself than to Andy. Instead of cutting her off, Andy simply leaned back against the cushions once more and enjoyed watching the magnificent woman across from her.

"I think the girls have a soccer game on Saturday afternoon, and they usually do their homework on Sundays, so if you're free on Saturday evening I think that'll be the best time. I'll text you when I've spoken to them to make sure."

"Sounds good." Andy grinned, trying her best not to look too smitten. Who else got the privilege of seeing Miranda like this?

Miranda nodded once, and then shifted her focus back to The Book as if she had not just uncharacteristically rambled about plans that were almost five days away. She was definitely nervous about it. Andy fought back a smile and shook her head lightly before turning back to her own reading.

How did I get so lucky?

 

.oOo.

 

Andy nervously shifted her weight from foot to foot, trying not to fidget as she waited outside the Priestly home. It's not like she hadn't been inside Miranda's house before. It's just that all the previous times Miranda had been the only one home, and Andy would leave before the twins returned from whatever sleep over or activity or visit to their father they happened to be on. But this time it was different.

She had just rung the doorbell - could still hear its echo in the large house even through the thick wood of the front door - and there was absolutely no going back now. She'd spent all Saturday afternoon pacing nervously and trying to select the perfect outfit for her lunch with the Priestly women. She had even deep-cleaned her already near-pristine apartment, trying to work off some of her nerves about the impending dinner.

Andy wasn't an idiot. She knew that the girls were the single most important thing in Miranda's life. She knew that if they didn't like her, or if they hated her, it would come between her and Miranda. And Andy understood that. Of course she did. Which is why she was so damn nervous about this. It was more stressful than meeting a lover's parents, or waiting to sit a university exam. This was so much worse than almost anything Andy had felt anxious about, because she knew she was falling in love with Miranda, and she also knew that there was still so much she was looking forward to in their relationship. So much she wanted to learn and experience; and everything - all her hopes and desires, her very happiness - everything was going to be placed in the small hands of two thirteen year old girls.

And what if it was too soon? What if they hated her? She was from a different background, a different social class - what if they thought Miranda was too good for her? What if they thought Andy was just after her money, or fame, or -

The door swung open, and there she was. Warm blue eyes met her panic-stricken ones, and Miranda's expression immediately turned to worry.

"Andrea," she said, and reached forward to grab her hand. She pulled her inside, into the foyer, and suddenly two strong arms wrapped around her and pulled her against Miranda's body. Andy closed her eyes, and released a shuddering breath. Miranda held her so close their bodies touched completely, fitting together and melting into one another so perfectly that Andy was forced to calm down. This. This felt so right, so wonderful, that Andy knew Miranda would not let her daughters think Andy was a gold-digging monster. She knew Miranda would fight for her.

Miranda stepped back slightly, her arm still wrapped around Andy's waist and her left hand coming up to gently cup her cheek. Her expression was so warm and understanding, her eyes so full of love, that Andy felt something settle inside her, and she was finally able to draw a calm, relaxing breath for the first time today.

"It will be fine, darling. Don't worry."

And that's all she needed. Andy smiled gratefully, and received a tender smile in return. She shook her head, chuckling lightly at her nervousness, and then reached up to gently move Miranda's signature forelock away from her eye, running her fingertips delicately down a smooth, soft cheek.

"Thank you."

They shared a moment of comfortable silence, enjoying the feeling of their embrace. Suddenly, Miranda pursed her lips, fighting back a smirk.

"What have I told you about eavesdropping?"

Andy's brow furrowed in confusion, blinking at blue eyes that still looked at her. Before she could say anything, Miranda turned around with a raised eyebrow and looked towards the stairs. Andy followed her line of sight, and comprehension dawned as she saw two pairs of feet at the top step. There was a soft giggle, followed by a shushing noise, before the feet started making their way down the steps, revealing twin redhead girls with completely different expressions - one guilt, one mischievous.

"Girls," Miranda said, and moved back to stand beside Andy, her right arm still wrapped around her waist. "This is Andrea."

"Hi," Andy said, waving slightly in greeting and smiling brightly. Followed by a mental 'thank you' to Miranda for not stepping away or removing her half embrace.

"Hello," the girls said in unison.

Andy stepped forward, trying to sound more confident than she felt. "Okay, so, you must be Cassidy, right?" She guessed, looking at the one on the left - the one who had looked guilty. "And you must be Caroline." She looked at the one on the right, who had looked mischievous. Miranda had told her all about her daughters, including the fact that Caroline was the naughty one who was usually up to no good, while Cassidy was the one that broke first and apologised to her mom for their evil deeds.

Andy tried not to look too smug at the identical shocked expressions of the girls. One point to Andy.

"You can tell us apart? Not even Stephen could tell us apart!" Cassidy asked.

"Yeah, but that's cause he was a butt face," Caroline laughed humourlessly, rolling her eyes in a creepily identical replica of her mother's signature gesture.

"Language, Caroline!"

Caroline flinched at her mother's sharp chastisement, but Andy smiled at her, and lowered her voice to whisper conspiratorially, "Hey, I think he's a butt face too." She winked at them, and felt triumphant when the girls gigged, a devious glee in their blue eyes. Andy felt her heart clench, and knew she already loved these girls.

"Andrea, for God's sake, don't encourage her."

Andy turned to her lover and shrugged. "What? It's true."

Miranda rolled her eyes, but was unable to fight back the smile that curled the corner of her lips. "I won't deign that comment with a response. Now, girls," she said, turning to her daughters, who had been watching their exchange with an amused curiosity. "How about we have some dinner?

Twin whoops of excitement was her response as the girls thundered past them towards the kitchen, and Miranda groaned in protest at the noise.

"It's not like I don't feed them regularly. Honestly, you'd think they're hyenas."

"Ah, to be thirteen again," Andy said dreamily, and laughed when Miranda bumped her with the side of her hip.

 

.oOo.

 

Dinner was... an experience. Andy had obviously been worrying about nothing regarding the twins. There were no awkward silences, or any suspicious glares, or any hesitation on their part to engage with Andy. They talked animatedly about school and their hobbies while Andy listened attentively. When the conversation eventually turned to her, she took it in stride.

"And what do you do, Andy?"

"Oh," Andy said, and from the corner of her eye she caught the way Miranda's body tensed. "I'm a therapist. I help people with their marriages and relationships, but also their relationships with themselves." Miranda's body relaxed at Andy's answer, and Andy tried not to feel stung or offended. It wasn't the first time someone had asked about her profession and she'd had to answer slightly elusively. Plus, what did Miranda think she'd say to two thirteen year olds? 'Well, girls, I help people have better sex so that people like your mom can have a better life'?

"Is that how you met mom?"

"Um," she started, and glanced at Miranda for any indication as to how she should answer. Miranda simply nodded, her expression warm and open, so Andy took the plunge. "Well, yes. Actually, it was pretty funny. She just barged into my office one day after office hours and demanded that I help her. I didn't even know who she was! And then she insulted my fashion sense and gave me outfits to improve my 'mediocre wardrobe'."

The girls laughed uproariously, and Miranda glared at Andy while valiantly fighting back a blush.

"That sounds like mom," Cassidy said, shaking her head and grinning at her mother's embarrassment.

"Yes, well," Miranda cleared her throat and straightened her shoulders defiantly. "I know for a fact that your clothes have improved since I barged in to your life, so I don't think you should be complaining."

"Oh, I'm not complaining," Andy smiled softly. "Quite the opposite, in fact."

Miranda's face softened, and her eyes filled with warmth and twinkled with delight as she gazed into her Andrea's eyes. Her lips twitched upwards ever so slightly, before she relented and allowed herself to smile widely. Andy's breath caught. Miranda's face transformed when she smiled. She looked younger, softer, more like herself, and so beautiful Andy felt something in her chest ache at the mere sight of it. She would never get enough of Miranda's smile. It was rare, but Andy saw it more and more as of late as Miranda became more comfortable and confident in their relationship.

Suddenly, Miranda blinked and seemed to snap herself back to the present. She looked at her daughters and was two parts relieved, one part wary when she saw twin mischievous grins directed her way. Andy shook herself and gulped her wine.

"Mommy's in looove," Caroline said in a sing-song voice, and Andy nearly choked.

"Caroline!" Miranda admonished, a blush creeping up her neck and tainting her cheeks.

"You owe me ten bucks," Cassidy told her sister, and Caroline took a bill from her pant pocket and slapped it on to Cassidy's open palm.

"Cassidy! I hope for your sake that you were not betting money regarding my love life," Miranda said, the pink on her cheeks undermining her stern voice. Andy grinned in amusement.

"Oh, come on mom, it's not that serious," Caroline said, rolling her eyes.

"Not that - !"

"We're just happy for you, mom," Cassidy cut her off, and Miranda's words died in her throat at the sincerity in her daughter's voice.

"Yeah," Caroline said, glancing briefly at Andy before reaching out and taking Miranda's hand from across the table. "You were miserable with Stephen. We know you tried to hide it, but we could tell you were sad." Miranda inhaled sharply, and her expression became so forlorn that Andy felt her heart clench at the sight.

"But you've been different lately," Cassidy continued. "You've been brighter, and you smile more. You've been happier."

Miranda exhaled shakily, her eyes stinging with emotion. Her girls had grown so much in the past two years. They were so wonderful, so perceptive and loving, she knew she must have done something right in raising them.

"Oh, Bobbsies," she started, her voice soft. But before she could continue, Caroline turned to Andy, her face serious and her eyes sharp.

"Which means you can't make her miserable again. We won't let you." Andy was sure she'd never heard such intimidating command in a teenager's voice before.

"Yeah," Cassidy said, crossing her arms. "That means no yelling at her. Or leaving. Or cheating. You can't do that, got it?"

Andy blinked. She knew this moment was important - it would define her relationship with the girls, and thus, with Miranda - and she didn't want to say the wrong thing. Miranda seemed at a loss for words herself, and she looked at Andy apologetically, her mouth opening as she searched for something to say, but then snapping it closed and biting her lower lip. Suddenly, Andy knew exactly what to say.

"I know you love your mom," she began, looking earnestly at the two girls sat across from her. "And you don't want anything bad to happen to her, and you don't want her to be sad. I get that, because I feel exactly the same way about her. I would never, ever, purposely hurt her, and I would rather jump off a cliff than cheat on her. Your mom is amazing."

Andy turned to look at Miranda only to find the other woman's soft gaze on her, mesmerised, hanging on to Andy's every word. Unable to bear the space between them, she reached out and took Miranda's smooth hand in hers, squeezing lightly and offering a tremulous smile. "And she deserves so much happiness. I hope I can be the lucky one to give it to her." Miranda smiled tearfully, and nodded her head, and Andy understood all the unspoken things she was trying to say with only that gesture. She swallowed thickly, took a steadying breath, and then turned to the twins.

"I can't promise to be perfect. I can't promise I won't get angry and argue with you mom, because that's what couples do. They have ups and downs and they argue and they make up and they keep trying. And I can't promise that I'll stay forever because none of us know what the future will bring. All I can promise is that I will give your mom everything I have, and I will love her as best as I know how. Okay?"

The girls stared at her thoughtfully for one long moment before they turned to each other. Andy watched them with interest and a little nervousness, and finally understood what Miranda had meant when she had described their 'twin speak'. They seemed to be communicating without words, as if they could read each other's minds, and Andy tried not to fidget while she waited for their verdict. She felt Miranda squeeze her hand, and turned to find the older woman smiling at her reassuringly.

"Okay," Cassidy said, and Andy immediately returned her attention to them.

"You can stay," Caroline said, as if Andy's future in the Priestly household had been on trial all along. "As long as you keep your promises," she finished seriously.

Andy let out a relieved breath, then grinned and stretched her arm over the table towards the redheaded girls.

"Pinkie promise?" She offered, and felt triumphant when she received near-identical grins in response.

As Cassidy and Caroline reached up and entwined their pinkie fingers with Andy's, she felt like she had just been granted their approval and permission to stay in their mother's life. And she couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of relief and joy at this new milestone in her relationship with Miranda. Which now included thirteen-year old twins. God help her.

As they continued eating and Cassidy began rattling about the school's new music teacher, Andy glanced at Miranda. Blue eyes shone with delight and amusement, and her lips formed that secret smile that only Andy had the privilege of receiving.

In that moment, Andy knew she was the luckiest girl in the world.

 

.oOo.

 

"Ugh, you've raised monsters."

"I did warn you, dear," Miransa drawled, rolling her eyes.

She did not even have to lift her gaze from the last few corrections of the Book to know what was happening on the floor of her TV room, mere feet in front of her. She had predicted this would happen, after all. Andrea was as stubborn as she was competitive, so of course she had decided to challenge Cassidy and Caroline to some video game or other.

And now she was regretting it. 

Turns out, as they so humbly put it, Cassidy and Caroline were "pros" at nearly every video game they own. And they were sweeping the floor with Andy's almost-average skill.

"Ha!" Caroling whooped victoriously. "Won agaaain!" She sung tauntingly to an exhasperated Andy.

"Ugh, yeah, yeah, I know," Andy grumbled, crossing her arms and looking very put out.

"Sooo, that makes it," Cassidy said, grinning. "Eight for Caro, seven for me, and Andy, two."

Caroline cackled at the end result, making a show of laughing at Andy's impressive defeat. Dark brown eyes glared at them, but both girls could see the amusement behind her theatrics.

"I think Andrea has had enough of your torture for tonight, girls. Go get ready for bed," Miranda spoke from her corner on the sofa, finally taking mercy on her lover. Three bodies sitting cross-legged on the floor turned to look at her, and she could tell from her daughters' faces that they would not leave without a fight.

"But moooom," Caroline groaned in that way only teenagers can. "It's not even eleven!"

Miranda sighed. "Yes, but you have all your homework to do tomorrow, and my assistants will not help you with it anymore, so you need to learn to balance work and fun. Understood?"

As a pouting Caroline continued to beg her mother to let them stay up fifteen more minutes, Cassidy turned to Andy and watched her contemplatively in silence. Andy felt like she was being studied down to the very depths of her soul, just from the way blue eyes - so like her mother's - regarded her as if seeking the answers of the universe.

Just when Andy shifted uneasily and opened her mouth to question her, Cassidy tilted her head in an uncanny copy of Miranda and finally voiced her thoughts.

"Are you any good at making pancakes?"

"Um," Andy blinked. "Yeah - I mean, I think so. Why - "

"I like banana and strawberries on mine. And Caro likes them with cream and syrup. Mom likes to pretend that she doesn't like pancakes, but we know for a fact she likes blueberry ones."

"Oh," Andy said dumbly, while Cassidy continued to regard her closely. "Right, well - "

"We usually get up at eight-thirty on Sundays."

"Oh." Andy said, suddenly fighting a blush. Well then, apparently it was a given that she was staying the night. One less thing to worry about. "Sounds good! I'll, um, I'll make sure they're my very best pancakes."

Cassidy grinned, and Andy smiled back.

 

.oOo.

 

"Well," Miranda purred as she sunk back into the pillows, her hair a mess and sticking to the sweat at the nape of her neck, her breathing still laboured and her lips still kiss-swollen. Andy grinned down at her, stretching her body along the older woman's naked one, blending their curves together until they fit just right.

"Good?" Andy asked sweetly, even though she didn't have to. She knew it'd been good. More than good. The teethmarks on Miranda's knuckles from biting into her fist to stifle the sounds of her pleasure was proof enough of Andy's thoroughness. But Andy couldn't help it. It felt like the way things had been so easy and wonderful with the twins had made Miranda trust her even more. As if the twin's approval had sealed Andy's fate to be with her. This last thought, just like the way Miranda had worshipped her, clung to her and moaned her name, made Andy's insides flutter pleasantly. She felt smug, and deliciously satisfied, and so very happy

"You're doing it again," Miranda groaned, rolling her eyes good-naturedly.

"What?" Andy asked, lifting an unwurly forelock of silver hair away from Miranda's brow.

"That look you get sometimes after we make love. With the ridiculously huge smile and the bright glinting eyes."

Andy chuckled, settling herself atop Miranda's chest, burrying her face against the wonderful scent at her lover's neck and wrapping her arm around a slim waist.

"Can't help it. I'm happy."

Miranda hummed in something like agreement, as if she was feeling the same way Andy was. She lifted her hand to run her fingers through long locks of chocolate waves as she sighed contentedly, feeling her tingling, boneless limbs sink deep into the mattress. 

A brief peacefulness settled over them, with only the sound of their smooth breathing filling the air between them. Then Miranda spoke,

"And yes, it was good," She murmured, and Andy laughed.

"Good," she answered, dropping a kiss on Miranda's collar bone and reaching for the blankets to cover them under the warmth of the duvet. "Good night, gorgeous."

It was Miranda's turn to let out a sleepy, quiet chuckle. "Good night, darling."

She closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of her fingertips dancing gently over the skin of Andrea's back, feeling her warm breath against her neck. She fell asleep with a smile still upon her lips.

 

Chapter Text

When Miranda woke up the next morning, Andrea's side of the bed was empty. Waking up alone was not something particularly out of the ordinary for Miranda, but it never happened when she slept with Andrea. It was always Miranda who woke up earlier, and often had to get out of bed in order to work. And if it was the weekend, like today, they usually both slept in and woke up together. She wished she could relish in the arms of her Andrea every day, and stay in bed until they both felt like getting up. Most mornings, however, she indulged in a few moments just to gaze at the beautiful woman sleeping close to her. And she always kisses Andrea before getting up to start her day.

So, she felt rather out of sorts when she blinked her eyes open and couldn't see Andrea sleeping soundly on her pillow. After yawning widely and stretching, Miranda got out of bed and donned a robe before heading out of their bedroom. The scent of coffee reached her the moment she stepped out into the hallway, and she could hear twin giggles coming from somewhere on the ground floor. Tying her robe shut with a loose knot around her waist, she quietly padded down the stairs and followed the sound of her daughters' laughter.

What she saw when she reached the kitchen took her breath away, and she felt such an overwhelming warmth consume her chest it was nearly physically painful.

Andrea was teaching her girls how to flip pancakes. In their pajamas.

"It's all in the wrist, see? You have to move it like this to get it to flip properly. Here, Cass, let me help you try."

Miranda watched as a Cassidy rushed forward and Andrea gave her a pan with a perfectly round pancake on it. The brunette stepped behind her and reached around to gently guide Cassidy's harm as she attempted her first pancake flip.

"I did it!" Cassidy cheered enthusiastically, and Andy grinned down at her.

"Well done! That was perfect. I didn't flip a pancake like that until I was 15."

"My turn!" Caroline said, and stepped forward to grab the pan from her sister.

"Ah, ah, ah! Be careful, it's hot," Andy said, moving the pan away from Caroline's eager gesture. Then she carefully passed it to her and repeated the same thing she had done with Cassidy. This time, Caroline tossed it too hard, and the pancake nearly didn't make it back onto the pan, but Andy's quick reflexes saved it before it hit the floor.

"Damn it," Caroline frowned as she stepped away.

"Hey," Andy said, and turned away from the stove to look at Caroline. "Don't beat yourself up about it. It's always really hard on the first try 'cause you don't really know how heavy the pancake is or how much force to use. The first time I tried to flip a pancake, I flipped it so high it got stuck to the ceiling and my mom had to get on a ladder to clean the batter off."

The twins laughed at this, and Miranda chuckled quietly before making her presence known.

"The things mothers do for their children," she drawled. Andrea looked up, and her smile was so wide when she laid eyes on her that Miranda felt her heart squeeze at the beautiful sight.

"Hi, mom!" The twins grinned at her as she approached the trio, and Miranda could only manage to briefly smile at them before her attention was once more captivated by the joyful warmth of Andrea.

"Good morning, sweetheart," Andrea said, and reached towards her to cup her jaw tenderly.

"It most definitely is, Sunrise," she responds, and leans forward to place a tender kiss on Andrea's cheek. They gazed at each other for a moment longer, smiling lovingly and relishing in the knowledge that they had moved an important step forward in their relationship basically overnight. Just the fact that Miranda could wake up and find her three darlings spending time together under one roof made them both giddy with all the new things to come. Miranda could already imagine it: the four of them going on long walks in Central Park, or visiting the museum together, or the zoo. As a family. It nearly took her breath away.

"Wow, mom is whipped," Caroline quietly said to her sister, but not so quiet that the adults didn't hear her.

Andy grinned up at Miranda, trying desperately not to laugh when the older woman pursed her lips - even though her blue eyes sparkled with amusement and happiness.

"I'm sorry Caroline, I didn't quite hear you. What was that?" she retorted, slowly turning around to face her daughters. A sharp eyebrow arched expectantly, and when her mother crossed her arms, Caroline gulped.

"I said we have whipped cream. For the pancakes," she answered and gestured towards the four plates with two pancakes each.

Miranda pursed her lips again, even though it was clear she was simply holding back a smirk.

"There's also coffee," Andrea said, touching her arm gently. Miranda looked at her, and knew just from the shining brown eyes that the younger woman was seconds away from laughing. "I made your favourite with the Brazilian coffee beans."

Miranda's mouth watered just at the mention of it. Selina had introduced her to it, and now it was one of Miranda's most beloved coffee - and she had a rather large repertoire. She had even decided to buy a coffee maker for her office at Runway, where she kept a rather impressive stash of Bourbon Santos coffee. That didn't stop her from sending her assistants to Starbucks ten times daily, however. She only resorted to the higher quality liquid gold when she was certain she had the time to enjoy an entire mug. The fact that Andrea was thoughtful enough to not only remember her favourite brand, but to make it for her before she even got out of bed was incredibly sweet. After spending so much of her life with sour, dismissive, self-centred partners, Miranda could hardly believe she was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of Andrea's selfless, giving, caring actions.

"Thank you, darling," Miranda smiled, hoping she was able to express how touched she was. To make sure Andrea understood, she stepped closer and cupped her cheek before standing on her tiptoes to kiss her forehead.

As Miranda went about pouring her coffee and Andrea turned back to the stove, Caroline nudged her sister with her elbow.

"See? Totally whipped."

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

After a delicious (and carb-ridden, to Miranda's chagrin) breakfast, the four of them retired to the living room to do their respective work. Andy and Miranda shared a couch as Miranda went over the latest copy of the Book, and Andy went over her notes from a new patient and did some much-needed research. Cassidy sat sprawled on the armchair despite her mother's insistence that she sit upright, and Caroline lounged on the fluffy rug. Both girls had some reading assignments, and Andy was impressed at how engrossed and enthusiastic they were regarding To Kill a Mockingbird.

It was calm and quiet, with only the sound of turning pages and pen writing on paper filling the room. Miranda could hardly believe how blissfully domestic it all was, and how comfortable they all were in each others' presence despite the silence. She felt overwhelmed at the fact that this was her life now. She had never dared hope that life could feel so full of love and comfort. She hadn't dared wish for the simple pleasures of domesticity with a family that felt complete and right. If she thought about it too much, she felt light-headed with how much her life had changed in only a handful of months. She had never felt so blessed.

"Mom, can we go to the park later? It's such a nice day, I don't wanna spend it inside," Caroline said, rolling onto her back on the floor and looking at her mother upside-down.

"When you finish all your homework, we can do whatever you want," she smiled down at her daughter's answering grin.

"Will Andy spend the day with us?" Cassidy asked.

At hearing her name, Andrea's head jerked up from her deep concentration. She looked to Miranda for any indication on how to answer, but Miranda simply regarded her with an open expression and a tender smile.

"Uh - yeah, sure," she said, grinning at her three companions. "I have a few patients tomorrow, but the first session isn't until ten thirty, so I can stay as long as you want."

"Cool! We wanna show you another video game."

"Yeah, maybe you'll be better at this one," Cassidy taunted, grinning when Andy stuck her tongue out at her in response. Miranda simply rolled her eyes, wondering if she'd been incorrect when assuming her life would be 'peaceful' when surrounded by these three women.

"Yeah, maybe you'll actually have a chance at beating us," Caroline snarked, rolling over onto her stomach and propping her chin up on a fist.

Andy snorted. "You two are a tough pair. I'll do my best, but if I lose you can't brag too much, okay?"

"Deal."

"Fine."

Andy rolled her eyes, then turned to Miranda. "I said it once, and I'll say it again. You've raised monsters."

"Yes, dear, I'm well aware," Miranda answered with a sardonic smile. "You don't have to repeat yourself."

"Hey!" Caroline harrumphed.

"We're right here, you know. Save the trash talk for when we can't hear you," Cassidy crossed her arms, balefully glaring at her mother.

Andy couldn't fight back a chuckle at their indignant behaviour. "You know they're just like you, right?" She said to Miranda, playfully bumping her shoulder against the older woman's.

Miranda pursed her lips and glared at her in an uncannily similar way Cassidy had just done. Just as she opened her mouth to relay a scathing response, Andy's work phone started ringing. Andy knew she had just dodged a bullet - because even though Miranda was very playful in their banter, her witty, acerbic responses always left Andy defeated in their light-hearted verbal matches.

"Andy Sachs," she hastily picked up, and frowned a moment later when she heard the distraught woman on the line. "Hey, Jessica, it's okay. Take a breath, and start from the beginning."

She looked at Miranda, who was gazing at her with a calm and understanding expression. Mouthing the words "sorry" to her lover, Andy stood up when Miranda waved her off with a sympathetic smile.

When Andrea had left the room, Miranda sighed and tried to bring her focus back on the Book. It was truly amazing to her just how compassionate Andrea was, and how seriously she took her job. Having been on the receiving end of Andrea's therapy, Miranda had first-hand knowledge on how far the young woman went to help others. She always listened, and she always picked up the phone for her patients, no matter what time of day they needed her.

Miranda knew that Andrea's empathy and kindness was one of the main reasons she loved the young woman, but she often worried for Andrea's heart. She felt things so deeply, and Miranda knew that her patients' pain often hurt her. She had a thick skin, yes, but she regularly dealt with such terrible situations and very often had to listen to so much pain and investigate very dark subjects. Miranda sometimes worried about the effect these things had on Andrea's wellbeing and happiness. But deep down she knew that Andrea loved her work, and that she was exceptionally good at her job. All Miranda could do was be there to offer comfort and love during the hardships of Andrea's job.

"Mom?"

Miranda was brought back to the present, and realised she had been so lost in thought that she hadn't even processed anything she was looking at in the Book. She tried her best to relax the frown that had formed during her musings, and looked at Cassidy with as much openness as she could.

"Yes, Bobbsey?"

"Does Andy like her job?"

Miranda blinked. "Of course she does, darling. Why would you ask that?"

"'Cause. Listening to other people's problems all the time? Having to answer their calls at all hours no matter what she's doing? Having to read so many books about what our brains do and stuff? It doesn't sound very fun."

Miranda let out a breath. She could understand why her thirteen-year-old daughter would see it like that. But she wanted her girls to understand the important and the beauty of Andrea's job.

"Come here, baby," she said, patting the seat beside her. Cassidy leapt up from the arm chair, leaving behind her forgotten book and quickly moving to sit next to her mother. Caroline crawled towards them too, until she was sat in front of Miranda's legs and leaning her chin on her knee. "Andrea's job is very difficult. More difficult than mine, even. I create art and devote my life to leading the fashion empire so that the art I produce may help and inspire those who appreciate it. And it's an important job, yes.

"But Andrea's work literally changes people's lives. She devotes her time and energy to help them cope with difficult, sometimes traumatising situations, and she helps them deal with problems so that they can be happier in their personal lives. She has to listen and talk about some really awful topics, and she does it all with a strength of character and an empathy that I myself could never hope to have. She has saved lives and has changed lives for the better countless times. She takes patients who are desperately searching for answers, who are depressed or unwilling to carry on trying, and she gives them hope and helps them find happiness."

"Like she did with you?" Cassidy asked, and Miranda's heart squeezes in her chest.

"Yes," she said softly, and all of a sudden she felt chocked up. Taking a shuddering breath, she ran her fingers through Cassidy's soft hair. Smiling fondly at her daughters, she leans down to place a kiss on each of her daughters' head. "I don't think she really understands just how much she saved my life. But I hope one day I can make her see that she changed everything, and that I have finally found true happiness because of her."

"Oh, how romantic!" Caroline gushed, and theatrically draped herself across her mother's lap, holding a hand dramatically against her forehead and the other one clutching her chest.

Miranda laughed, and patted Caroline's tummy. "Alright, that's enough romance for you two. Back to your reading. The sooner you finish it, the sooner we'll go for a stroll in the park. We'll take Patricia and you can play Frisbee with her."

The girls scrambled back towards their abandoned books, and immediately picked up where they left off. Miranda shook her head in exasperation, but a fond smile tugged at the corner of her lips.

Andrea returned not long after, and she sunk back against the couch cushions with her eyes closed. Miranda could tell that whatever the emergency call had been, it had taken its toll on her. She reached out, and traced the top of Andy's hand with gentle fingertips. Chocolate brown eyes blinked open, and looked at Miranda with a tired but content expression.

"Everything okay?" Miranda murmured.

"Yeah," Andy said, and entwined their fingers together. "More than okay."

Miranda smiled, and brought their hands up to press her lips against Andrea's soft skin. Andrea sighed softly, contentedly, and moved closer so she could lean her head on Miranda's shoulder while she continued to read her book.

This.

This is what Miranda could do for Andrea. What she had wished for time and time again, until she lost hope of finding a love like this. And then Andrea had appeared, and something inside Miranda settled into place, filling her up with the comfort of knowing that Andrea was exactly right for her.

And she wouldn't have it any other way.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

Later that evening, after a walk in the park at a leisurely pace, after Cassidy and Caroline had exhausted themselves chasing Patricia and playing Frisbee, after Miranda and Andy had sat on a bench under the sun and had risked discreetly holding hands in such a public place, after they had all returned to the townhouse, Cassidy flung her arms around her mother and looked up at her with her best puppy impression.

"Mom, can we have sushi for dinner?"

Miranda looked down at her daughter perplexed. They had never asked for sushi before. In fact, they had always insisted that they didn't even like the food.

"Why do you want sushi? I thought you girls didn't like it."

"That was when we were like, way younger. We're older now, and we wanna try new things."

Miranda didn't buy it. She knew her daughters were as stubborn as she was, and that once they'd declared that something was not to their liking, there was no changing their opinion. So she simply raised an eyebrow at her eldest daughter by three minutes, and gave her the look.

"Ugh. Okay, fine. Andy talked about how much she loves it and how sushi can be many different kinds of flavours, so Caro and I wanna try it."

Miranda held back a smirk. Of course this was Andrea's influence.

"Well, in that case, yes. I have a few calls to make before dinner, but ask Andrea about a place to order from."

"Sweet!"

The smirk she had been holding back finally curled at the corners of her lips as Miranda watched Cassidy rush out of the room to deliver the news to her sister, nearly barrelling into Andrea on her way out.

"Woah! Careful, kiddo," Andy said, barely just managing to avoid a painful collision with the over-eager teen.

"Sorry Andy!" Cassidy threw over her shoulder, but didn't slow down on her way to the second floor.

Andy chuckled, and stepped into the den, where Miranda was watching her with bright blue eyes full of amusement.

"I thought I'd taught those girls some basic manners. Apparently, I was wrong."

Two strong arms wrapped around Miranda's waist and pulled her flush against Andrea's warm body.

"Eh, you did alright," Andy shrugged, and Miranda narrowed her eyes at the younger woman's cheekiness.

"Sushi, Andrea?" She drawled, and was delighted when her lover threw her head back in laughter.

"Wow, I didn't think it would work. I've been craving sushi all weekend, so I thought I try my hand at some reverse psychology to get those two rascals to want it for dinner."

"You and your ideas, honestly." Miranda rolled her eyes, but wrapped her arms around Andrea and pulled her even closer. She buried her face in the crook of an elegant neck, inhaling the intoxicating scent she adored so much, and nuzzled the soft skin there. "You know," she murmured, and revelled in the shiver that coursed through Andrea when her lips brushed against the sensitive skin. "Sushi is a strong aphrodisiac. Are you sure you're willing to pay the price of making me eat sushi for dinner?"

Andrea's hold on her hips tightened, and she sucked in a breath. She pulled back just enough to look at Miranda, and licked her lips. Miranda swallowed at the devouring look in dark eyes that drank her in with no small amount of desire.

"Don't worry, darling," Andrea said, her voice so deep that Miranda felt her thighs clench. "I was planning on having you for dessert anyways."

"Honestly, Andrea," Miranda rolled her eyes, trying to fight back a blush. The cheesy line had erotic, delicious images flitting through Miranda's mind, and she was incapable of answering more than that.

Andrea smirked, looking very smug. She could see right through Miranda, and knew just how worked up her lover was despite Miranda's strong attempts to hide her reaction.

"Andyyyyy!" Caroline's sudden, piercing yell startled them both, and Miranda groaned in exasperation at her daughters' insistence to holler like banshees instead of communicating like normal humans. "Come on, we're ready to order!"

"Yeah, we're hungry!" Cassidy's loud exclamation followed, and Andy tried not to laugh at the incensed look on Miranda's face.

"I guess I should go before they get any more impatient," Andy snickered. "I'll leave you to make your calls. Salmon and avocado for your sushi?"

Miranda nodded. "You know what I like."

Andrea gave her a salacious once over before smirking, "I certainly do."

Before Miranda could respond in any way, she received a short but sweet kiss on her lips and a gentle pat on her derriere. And then Andrea quickly left the room, no doubt to avoid Miranda's indignant harrumph in response to her sass.

She rolled her eyes and turned towards to her desk, trying to get her mind to focus on work instead of a certain teasing brunette.

Honestly, what am I going to do with her?

She hadn't even finished the thought before a hundred ideas came to mind, and Miranda couldn't hold back a lecherous smirk.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

"God, I've been thinking about this all day."

Miranda groaned, arching her back when Andrea trailed open-mouthed kisses down her neck. She was pressed up against their bedroom door, and the cool firmness of it against her back made her scratch at Andrea's neck with more vigour, tangling her fingers in thick brown hair. The growled that vibrated against her jaw made her thighs clench, and a second later Andrea's leg was pushed between hers. It pressed firmly, hard against that perfect place Miranda needed her most. A moan escaped her lips before she could bite it back, and she knew they needed to move before all inhibition was lost.

"Bed." Her voice was a mere rasp, but Andrea heard it perfectly.

They quickly made their way across the room, and Andrea was so busy scraping her teeth over Miranda's exposed collarbone and pushing Miranda's skirt down her legs that she tripped over her own feet. Luckily, Miranda caught her before she fell, and she couldn't help an amused chuckle at her lover's clumsiness.

When they finally made it onto the mattress, their clothes had all but vanished. Miranda immediately climbed over Andrea, mouthing a round breast and teasing the nipple with her tongue. Andy was already a gasping, squirming mess. All through dinner Miranda had been teasing her, humming in presumable delight at the taste of sushi while looking at Andy with intense, dark eyes full of promise. Andy had been fidgeting all through dinner, and as soon as the twins had said goodnight, she had dragged Miranda upstairs.

"You have been torturing me all night," she gasped when Miranda bit her neck, laving her rapid pulse with slow strokes of her tongue. Long, talented fingers started trailing up her inner thigh, scratching the sensitive skin and eliciting shivers of anticipation. "Oh!"

Miranda moaned next to her ear when her fingertips finally found the molten wetness at the apex of her thighs. Andy's trembling pleas were barely heard over her laboured breathing, but Miranda smirked at how ready her love was already.

"All this, for me?" She husked, taking an earlobe between her teeth and running her tongue over the shell of Andy's ear.

"Oh, fuck, yes. All for you. Only you," At Andrea's husky, eager words, Miranda firmed her strokes and rubbed the hardened clit in harsh circles.

"How do you want me?"

Andrea bit her lip, and offered her neck and chest for Miranda to devour. It was a delicious sight to behold.

"I want you inside. Deep and hard, oh please, Miranda."

That was all she needed to hear. She thrust two fingers inside, as far as they would go, until her knuckles were pressing against Andrea's soaking entrance. Andy arched, and bit back a cry.

"Oh! Yes, more!"

Miranda moaned, and withdrew enough to add a third finger. Andrea squeezed her, and she could feel the rapid heart beat pulsing the tips of her fingers. She curled them firmly, pressing up against that spot that drove Andrea wild.

And then she started fucking her with vigour.

Andrea held on to her, mouth dropping open in a silent wail of ecstasy. Her whole body rocked with the powerful motions of Miranda's arm, her breasts following the movement of each thrust. Miranda was entranced, her eyes not knowing where to focus, watching Andrea take her fingers, drinking in the movement of her body, the raptured expression on her face. A sheen of sweat began to cover them, and Miranda pressed even closer, forcing Andrea's legs further apart.

"Oh, God," Andy moaned, feeling Miranda's fingers fucking her at a deeper angle from the change in position. The sound of Andrea's wetness started filling the room every time she was filled with the relentless fingers. Miranda groaned at the sound, and any control she'd had completely evaporated. She went into a frenzy, her mouth latching onto Andrea's neck and her fingers began fucking faster, curling each time she pulled back to reach that part of Andrea that made her legs shake.

"Oh, fuck, yes - more!" Andy begged, and reached out to grab her knees, spreading herself as much as she could, holding herself wide while Miranda watched her with lust-filled eyes. "More, Miranda, please. Fill me, fuck me, please - " Her pleas cut out to a loud cry as Miranda added a fourth finger, stretching her so much it burned with pleasure. Her walls clutched tightly around them, and Miranda felt light-headed at the sensation. She adjusted her thrusts so that they were shallow, hard, and deep. So deep that Miranda's knuckles pushed against Andrea's opening, and she felt delirious with pleasure.

"Who do you belong to?" Miranda growled against her ear, sending a shot of electricity down Andrea's body.

"Yours! I'm yours!" Andy moaned as Miranda fucked her even harder than before, eliciting obscene sound from her throat and from between her legs.

Miranda pressed down with her thumb, stroking Andy's clit with each strong thrust, and she unravelled. Andrea let go of one leg to slap a hand over her mouth just before her body tensed, back arching and toes curling as a powerful orgasm tore through her body in endless waves of heat. She choked on a scream, her hand muffling the sounds as she was overcome with ecstasy. Miranda moaned at the sight before her, one which she would never get tired of seeing, and the feeling of Andrea's walls squeezing tightly around her fingers made her delirious with want.

When Andy slumped back in a boneless, sated heap against the mattress, Miranda licked the sweat from her neck, and Andrea whimpered at the sensation as her body shook in post-orgasmic shocks. Miranda could feel Andrea's heart pulsing around her fingers, and had to bite her lip to fight back the urge to keep fucking her until she begged Miranda to stop.

"Jesus, Miranda," Andy breathed, swallowing with difficulty and gasping for breath. Miranda hummed against her chest in response, and Andy lowered her hand to stroke Miranda's hair.

They spent several heartbeats in silence, enjoying the afterglow, until Andy started fidgeting.

"Oh alright, fine," Miranda muttered in resignation, and slowly, very gently extracted her fingers from her favourite place in the universe. Andrea's body twitched at the loss, but Miranda cupped her tenderly for a moment longer.

"I don't think I can move just yet," Andrea mumbled, and Miranda smirked. She did love ravishing Andrea until she couldn't move. Suddenly Andrea exclaimed as an idea struck her. "Oh! Come here, I want you to sit on my face."

Miranda snorted lightly, and leaned her weight on her elbow to look down at Andrea. "How romantic."

"Stop that. Come on, Miranda, I want to taste you. I want to fuck you with my tongue."

Miranda trembled. Well. If she put it that way.

She quickly climbed up the bed, until she swung a leg over Andrea's neck and straddled her. Andrea wrapped her arms around Miranda's thighs, pulling her closer. She looked down at brown eyes as Andrea immediately latched on to her, and Miranda tossed her head back when she finally felt that magical tongue deliciously stroking her clit. Her eyes fluttered shut as she moaned, and leaned forward to grab the headboard for support. Humming against the exquisite wetness against her tongue, Andy watched avidly as Miranda arched and moved above her, pressing down against her mouth and reaching up to tease her own nipple.

"Oh, yes," She breathed, moving her body in slow, supple waves as she rode Andrea's tongue, taking her pleasure from the full, pliant mouth underneath her. "Inside - Oh!"

She would never get used to the feeling of Andrea's tongue inside her, the thick, wet muscle teasing her opening and Andrea's hot breath warming her sopping skin. This lovemaking was slow, but Miranda was losing her patience. She had been in a daze all evening, her mind lost in a cloud of desire from their mutual teasing and flirtation. And now the phantom sensation of Andrea coming around her fingers, the feeling of Andrea's mouth devouring her from underneath, the strong fingers digging against her thighs as Andrea pulled her even closer, daring her to put all of her weight on her mouth. It was too much. She needed release. Her hand let go of her breast and reached down between her legs to rub at her clit in quick, vicious circles.

Andy moaned at the sight above her. Miranda riding her tongue, her taste and her walls engulfing her, her body undulating enticingly as she rubbed herself raw. Her head was tossed back, choked cries aimed at the heavens, her chest flushed and glistening with perspiration as quiet whimpers and moans escaped her throat.

"Oh - Oh - Oh! Please. Please, Andrea. I need - I need - "

Suddenly, Andrea grabbed her, pushed her off and to the side until she could press her down onto the mattress. Apparently, her energy had returned, and now she hastily made her way down Miranda's body until she rested between Miranda's parted legs. Suddenly, Miranda was filled to the hilt by two long fingers, and Andrea's tongue was circling her clit in perfect, hard swipes just so.

"Fuck, Andrea!" She moaned, reaching down to grasp at Andrea's hair, pulling her face closer as her hips lifted off the bed.

Andrea followed her body's rhythm, and soon Miranda was thrusting against Andrea's tongue, her fingers filling her so perfectly that her hips started moving faster, her hands clutching Andrea's head so close she wasn't sure the younger woman could breathe. But Andrea moaned against her, and Miranda cried out, not able to be silent as Andrea started curling her fingers with every sharp, deep thrust.

It only took seconds before Miranda's thighs started trembling, and her movements became unsteady. But Andrea continued with her assault, not relenting in her rhythm or the hard thrusts of her fingers, until Miranda's legs suddenly squeezed at either side of her head. Miranda's entire body tensed, and then shook violently as an earth-shattering climax tore her apart from the inside out. She arched, pressing Andrea's head impossibly closer against her, even as her legs wrapped around the younger woman's head in a vice-like grip. She only just managed to choke back her wails of pleasure, and for long, blissful moments, her mind knew nothing but the all-consuming thundering ecstasy that wreaked through her body.

Her body fell, limp and sweaty and trembling in post-orgasmic shivers. Her thighs let go of Andrea's head, and Miranda heard her lover draw gasping breaths. Her warm breath rushed against her overly-sensitive clit, and Miranda whimpered when she shivered at the sensation.

Andy kissed Miranda's inner thighs, gently pulling out of her before sucking her fingers dry. With delicate movements - she knew Miranda was overly-sensitive after such a strong orgasm - she gently brushed her lips up her stomach, in between perfect breasts, up a flushed neck until she planted a soft kiss on Miranda's lips. While Miranda regained her breath and calmed her body, Andy snuggled up to her side, leaning her head on her shoulder and tracing her fingertips gently up and down her abdomen. When she finally felt a hand reaching up to caress her hair, Andy smiled and leaned up to look at Miranda.

A lovely pink still coloured high cheekbones, tracing down an elegant neck. She looked relaxed, and sated - if the soft smile that curved her lips was any indication. Andy loved seeing Miranda without make up, all signs of stress vanished from Miranda's countenance, looking so soft she practically glowed. But this was nothing compared to how she looked when she gazed at Andrea after making love, like she was gazing upon something inexplicably magical. Her eyes were full of tenderness and warmth, of wonder and awe. When Miranda looked at her this way, Andy felt her heart squeeze in her chest until the love she felt became almost physically painful.

"I love you so much."

Andy hadn't meant to blurt it out quite like that, but there was no going back now. Miranda blinked at her, and then a bright smile slowly widened until it lit up her face and transformed it into the most beautiful sight Andy had ever seen. Blue eyes shone with happiness, twinkling in the dim light of the lamp by their bed, and Andy felt something inside her settle firmly into place. In this moment, it was so clear that Andy felt the breath rushing out of her lungs. She had never loved anyone as much as she loved the woman beside her. But what took her breath away was the unwavering knowledge that Miranda felt exactly the same about her. It was written all over her face, in the way she looked at her and held her close.

"I love you so much, too," Miranda murmured, her heart beating painfully in her chest.

Nobody had ever looked at her like Andrea. She had never felt sure about love before, but the love between her and Andrea was so palpable, so undeniable, that Miranda felt it in her very bones. She was in awe of the younger woman that loved her so freely and so fiercely. She still could not fathom how this was her life now. Part of her felt like she would wake up one day and realise it was all a wishful dream. But each morning she woke up with Andrea, she felt more and more certain that this was real. She wasn't sure what she had done to deserve this magnificent creature in her life, but she didn't want to think about it. She simply pulled Andrea closer, and buried her face in her neck, inhaling Andrea's wonderful scent. A scent that felt like home.

"Goodnight, my love," Andrea murmured, kissing her temple.

"Goodnight, my Sunrise."

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

"Patrick called earlier, wants to know if you'll be going to his soirée this Saturday."

Miranda blinked, and raised her eyes from their inspection of the latest proofs from the Chanel shoot. Nigel was stood before her desk, leaning against one of the chairs and looking at her expectantly.

She frowned. She had plans with Andréa on Saturday. The twins had demanded a movie night dedicated to Harry Potter, and even though Miranda was not particularly looking forward to the marathon itself, she was very much keen on spending time with her three favourite girls. She had been so busy lately with the upcoming issue that time with her family had been scarce. And she hadn't spent time alone with Andrea in nearly two weeks. She could not wait any longer.

"I'm afraid I'm busy this weekend, Nigel. I'll have to speak to him and send my regrets."

"Oh," Nigel answered, his eyebrows rising in surprise. "Everything okay? Are the girls alright?"

Miranda frowned. "Yes, everything is fine. I have a commitment, that's all."

"Right," Nigel hummed. Miranda turned her attention back to her work, but to her annoyance saw Nigel taking a seat and leaning over the desk. "Sooo. Who is he?"

"Excuse me?" Miranda drawled, looking up at him once more in resignation.

"The lucky guy."

"What lucky guy?" She sneered. Her eyes narrowed in a cold glare, and her lips pursed. To her dismay, however, Nigel smirked and seemed to fight an eye roll.

"Come on, Miranda. Don't play dumb."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I've known you for a better part of twenty years. I know the signs. You don't fire as many people, you smile more, you walk around like you're feeling... lighter? I don't know how to describe it, but you're different when you're dating someone. Plus you got those flowers delivered here the other day, and I could tell they were important and made you happy." He offered a one-shouldered shrug, and looked at her with a crooked smile.

It was true. Last week Andrea had surprised her by having a beautiful, colourful bouquet of flowers delivered to the office (no freesias, of course), with a note that she kept tucked away in her wallet. In Andrea's lovely writing, the words "I know you've had a tough week, so I hope these make you smile. Please don't kill any employees, I don't want to have to visit you in prison" never failed to bring her a sense of comfort and peace (and yes, a smile too). It had been a particularly sweet gesture, something Miranda was still trying to get accustomed to receiving on a regular basis. Nevertheless, it unnerved Miranda that she was being so obvious. She was not ready for the general public to know about Andrea, and she was sure her lover was not ready for the media onslaught either.

She glared at Nigel with a cold, stern expression as she tried to hide her anxiety. Nigel's posture straightened at that look, and he scurried to add: "You're different but in - in a good way, of course. Plus I'm sure no one else has really noticed, I've just known you for a long time. And you don't have to tell me about him if you don't want to, but you're one of my closest friends and I'm happy for you."

Oh. Well, that was rather sweet, she supposed. Still, the fact that he knows her so well unsettled her. And how could she be sure that nobody else had noticed these... changes in her? Then again, she saw no reason to hide anything. She was proud to be with Andrea. It would certainly come as a shock when Nigel and everyone else found out that Miranda Priestly was with a woman, but -

Oh. Oh. This could be rather amusing, after all. She fought back a self-satisfied smirk, and did her best to control her expression as she looked at her old friend.

"Alright. I suppose it's high time the two of you met. Would you like to come for dinner on Friday?"

Nigel reeled back, surprise evident as his eyebrows nearly reached his non-existent hairline. Then he grinned at her, and in that moment Miranda knew this was going to be very fun indeed. "I would be honoured, Miranda. I'm looking forward to meeting him."

She couldn't fight back a smirk at this, but managed to stay quiet as she watched him stand up and strut out of her office. Miranda rolled her eyes, and reached for her phone.

Is it okay if Nigel comes to dinner on Friday? - M

She doesn't even have to wait a full minute before her phone is buzzing with Andrea's incoming text.

Of course! Would love to meet him x

Miranda's smirk widened into a malicious smile full of sharp teeth and schadenfreudist delight.

The moment Miranda went to bed that night, she grabbed her phone off the bedside table and speed dialled Andrea. On the second ring, she picked up.

"Hello, beautiful."

Miranda sighed at the sound of her voice, and let her eyes drift shut as her entire body relaxed. The stress from the day seeped away, and she leaned back on her pillows with a blissful smile. She would never understand the power that Andrea's mere voice had on her. No matter what the day brought, she could always count on Andrea to make her feel like she could float.

"Hello, darling."

"How was your day?"

Miranda gave a subconscious half shrug. "The usual. Runway is filled with incompetence, and each day I have less hope regarding my staff's intelligence."

Andrea snorted, and Miranda's lips quirked up at the amused sound. "I wish I was there to give you a back rub."

Miranda bit her lip, and hummed. "Hmm, I do so adore your back rubs."

Andy chuckled. "Alright, I'll give you one when I come over this Friday. Nigel coming to dinner?"

At the mention of her friend, Miranda narrowed her eyes. "Yes. I didn't intend for him to find out. We hadn't discussed it yet, after all, and I do worry about the gossip mill at Runway. There are no more intense gossipers than those who work in fashion, Andrea, let me tell you. The things these people talk about. And they think I don't hear them. Honestly, as if I ever miss a thing."

"So how did Nigel find out?" Miranda could hear the smile in Andrea's voice, no doubt caused by Miranda's exasperated displeasure.

"He just waltzed into my office and declared that he knew I was dating someone. According to him there are signs. Can you believe his gall?" She still could hardly believe Nigel had done such a thing. He was her closest friend, but he usually followed her boundaries, especially at work.

Andrea snickered. "Wow, the audacity. So, you just decided to invite him for dinner?"

"Yes, well, I wanted him to see for himself. I saw no point in denying it, and your meeting would happen sooner or later. Might as well be sooner."

"I couldn't agree more. I'm excited to meet someone who works at Runway. Maybe I'll get some hot gossip about you."

"Andrea," she growled, but she was interrupted.

"Oh! Oh! Maybe I can get him drunk and convince him to tell me some of the worst things you've done. I bet there are many stories worth listening to."

"You are hilarious."

"Oh my God, am I finally gonna find out whether you lock your assistants up in your basement and feed them to a snake?"

"Are you quite finished?"

"OH! Maybe he'll tell me all about how you're a vampire that sucks people's blood - "

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Goodnight, Andrea."

She hung up, but didn't bother fighting the amused smirk that pulled at the corners of her lips.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

When the doorbell rang at eight p.m. sharp three days later, Miranda had to compose herself before opening the door. It would not do to look as if she's up to something, and the way Nigel knows her, he'd be able to tell just by her face that something's up. So she made sure to take a breath before greeting their guest and ushering him inside.

"I hope you don't mind we're eating in tonight," she said by way of greeting as he took off his coat and hung it in the closet.

"Not at all!" He exclaimed. "It's been a while since I've had a Priestly meal. Are the girls joining us?"

Miranda nodded. "They'll be down in a moment. They've been doing their homework so they can have the rest of the weekend off."

"Family weekend, huh?" Miranda hummed, and lead the way towards the kitchen. "So, where is the dashing fellow?" Nigel asked with barely hidden excitement.

"In the kitchen, opening a bottle of red."

"I'm kinda curious to meet the man that has managed to charm our revered - "

The moment they stepped through the doorway, his voice died in his throat. Miranda did her best to fight the magnitude of her amusement at his stricken expression when he sees Andrea, wine glass in hand, leaning against the kitchen island. Smiling widely, she immediately straightened up when she sees them at the doorway, and Miranda was almost distracted from her malicious enjoyment by the lovely sight.

"... dragon." Nigel managed to finish weakly, and Miranda could see him scrambling to compose himself, but he was so obviously flabbergasted that he only managed to stare.

At his hesitation and obvious shock, Andrea's smile faded ever so slightly, and her eyes lost some of their brightness. She began to shift her weight nervously, and suddenly Miranda realised that she should have let her lover in on her little plan. Brushing the pang of guilt aside, she straightened her back and strode towards Andrea.

"Nigel," she said, wrapping her arm around a slim waist. "This is my Andrea." At that, Andrea turned her head to look at her, and her smile gained back its lovely fullness. "Andrea," she continued, smiling in encouragement at her lover before focusing on their guest, who composed himself enough to approach the pair. "This is my dear friend, Nigel."

"It's so nice to finally meet you," Andrea almost gushed, and reached out to shake Nigel's hand. "I've heard so much about you."

Nigel's smile was unsteady and his eyes still had not lost the shock in them, but he reached out anyways and warmly shook Andrea's hand between two of his. Miranda tried her best not to smirk at her shell-shocked friend.

"It's good to meet you too, Andrea," he responded, and Miranda internally winced when he pronounced Andrea's name the way Miranda does. Andrea had often mentioned that nobody says her name quite like Miranda does, and that she loves it. Miranda loves it too, for that matter.

"Oh, call me Andy, please," the brunette hastily added, and then waved towards a bottle of red wine and two glasses waiting neatly on the island. "Would you like some wine or anything else to drink?"

"I'd love some, thanks," Nigel answered with a polite nod of his head.

As soon as Andrea turned her back to busy herself with pouring the drinks, Nigel threw a baleful glare full of resentment at Miranda. She blinked innocently at him, and his scowl deepened as he shook his head in a mixture of bewilderment and annoyance at his boss' antics. When Andrea returned offering the two of them a glass of wine each, Nigel smiled as if nothing was amiss.

As Miranda took the offered glass from Andy, she murmured a quiet "Thank you, darling".

Nigel nearly choked on his wine.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

Dinner went far better than Miranda could have imagined. Andrea's easy smile and sociable spirit shone through, possibly more than Miranda had ever seen before. It made her realise that in order to really know one's partner, socialising with other people outside of the immediate family was a necessity. With past partners, she had always been rather disappointed at their lack of social skills. Not that this was Miranda's forte - that is why she always tried to find someone who could be sociable and friendly, to make up for her lack of social qualities. But, of course, Miranda had rarely had such luck. The men she had been with had often suffered from such inflated egos that they would talk over other people, and they were never good hosts, leaving the important conversation and hospitable actions to Miranda. She had detested that. But, Andrea was another thing altogether.

The way she carried the conversation without making it about herself, the sound of her laughter easy and true, her eyes attentive as she listened to Nigel and Cassidy and Caroline, the way she was always paying attention in case any glass needed filling - it made something inside Miranda stir pleasantly. She loved to watch Andrea in her element - because, after all, people were Andrea's element. She was in her comfort zone, and that comforted Miranda more than anything. She knew then that Andrea would be marvellous when they finally went to galas and events together. Miranda could hardly wait.

Once Nigel had gotten over his shock, he had immediately taken a liking to Andrea. Miranda could see it clear as day. His eyes practically sparkled merrily as he listened to her talk, and his smiles had gotten increasingly wide the more he learned about her. Apparently, they had a lot on common. At one point when speaking about their love for ice skating and Olympic skaters, Nigel's eyes had found Miranda's, and she had been hard pressed not to laugh as his expression changed for a split second to one so incredulous and disbelieving, as if asking Miranda "where on earth did you find this woman?"

All in all, Miranda was incredibly pleased, and she had allowed herself to lean back and enjoy the animated conversation and boisterous laughter.

However, fate turned against her the minute the twins had retired for the night, and Nigel, Andrea and herself had moved to the den. Miranda sat in her favourite corner of the sofa, and Nigel took the plush armchair on the other side, leaving a perfect place for Andrea to sit on the sofa between them. Instead of taking a seat, however, Miranda watched with dawning realisation and creeping horror as Andrea offered Nigel a generous glass of Scotch.

Oh no.

"So, Nigel," Andrea said in a syrupy sweet tone once they all had drinks in hand. She threw Miranda a quick mischievous glance, and Miranda knew her suspicions had been right. "Are you ready to spill the tea?"

Nigel frowned in confusion. "What? What tea?" 

Andrea laughed, and waved her hand. "Oh, it's just an expression that's been going 'round. It's slang for gossip."

"Oh! Well then, that depends on what gossip you're looking for."

Andrea conspiratorially leaned towards him over the arm rest of the sofa, and Miranda pinched her nose and let out a deep sigh that seemed to carry the weight of the world with it.

"Is there any point in my saying this is ridiculous?" She asked.

"Nope," Andrea said, not taking her eyes off Nigel. She smiled at him, and raised her eyebrows. "I wanna know all about what Miranda's like at work."

Nigel's eyes widened. "Oh. Oh no. I'm not gonna say anything. You know she'll have my head for breakfast, right?"

Andrea waved him off. "This lady? She's all bark and no bite."

Nigel snorted. "You obviously haven't seen her at Runway, then."

When Miranda narrowed her eyes at him, he immediately seemed to remember himself and straightened his posture, clearing his throat and looking nervously away from the sharp stare.

"Oh, come on!" Andrea complained. "Miranda, you're no fun."

"I never said I was," she dead panned, and Andrea stuck her tongue out at her like a child would. "Delightful."

"Never said I was," she retorted in an unbelievably accurate imitation of Miranda.

Nigel simply watched, slack jawed as the two women in front of him interacted. He had never seen Miranda like this. She'd never let anyone have such banter with her, and despite her seemingly annoyed reactions, Nigel could clearly see her eyes shining with affection and barely hidden amusement. He was speechless.

"Anyways," Andrea breathed, rolling her eyes and turning back to Nigel. "Seriously though, I really do want to know what she's like. I've only ever heard her version of things, and any other source would be those unreliable little shits that call themselves reporters. I would love to hear some stories from the point of view of someone who she trusts and who obviously respects her. Pretty please?"

Deflating, Nigel sighed and rubbed his bald head before looking at Miranda inquisitively. After a moment, she rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated breath.

"Oh, alright. If you must," she said, waving at the two as she swallowed a large gulp of scotch, bracing herself for the alliance that was surely about to be formed against her.

A delighted sound came from Andrea, and the brunette practically vibrated next to her in excitement, leaning eagerly toward her newfound storyteller. And if Miranda found this adorable, she would never say it out loud. She'd never been with anyone who was so curious to know more about her Dragon persona, and the fact that Andrea had turned to Nigel of all people told Miranda just how much Andrea understood her.

"Okay, gimme a sec," Nigel said, and then downed more than half of his remaining scotch. He shuddered, and let out a raspy sound that sounded like a dog choking before crossing his legs and leaning his weight against the armrest, coming almost face to face with an eager Andrea. "Well, what do you want to know?"

"I don't know, everything!" Andy exclaimed. "Like, has she ever made anyone cry?" Nigel looked flabbergasted at the question, and he turned wide eyes to Miranda for a moment before his attention was brought back to the brunette. "It's just that Miranda complains a lot about people at Runway - although I've never heard her complain about you - but, like, does she actually say all those things to people's faces?"

"Uh," Nigel said dumbly, before deciding to simply grow a pair and take the bull by the horns. Or dragon, as the case may be. "Yeah, she's made people cry. A lot. One time, there was a really useless second assistant that just kept getting everything wrong, but Miranda had to hire her cause she was the niece of some member of the board. Anyways, she stuck around for two whole weeks before Miranda finally had enough and fired her. But during her time there she got so many dressing downs from Miranda that she kept an entire box of tissues by her desk because she cried at least twice a day."

"Oh, God, that Cynthia girl," Miranda hissed, suddenly remembering the worst assistant she had ever had. Miranda had painstakingly erased her from her memory to avoid any more 'Cynthia-migraines', but now that Nigel had brought her up there was a sharp burst of loathing in the pit of her stomach. "She was absolutely abhorrent. I have never encountered anyone with less functioning braincells. She got my coffee order wrong nine times! Is it impossible to remember a simple Starbucks order? Am I reaching for the stars?"

Suddenly she was interrupted by a burst of laughter from Andrea, who was staring at her while trying to cover her giggles.

"It is not funny, Andrea. That girl was so incompetent I discovered an entirely new type of headache."

At this, Nigel gasped and pointed at her as he suddenly remembered. "The Cynthia headaches! Holy shit, I forgot about those."

At this, Andy couldn't fight back more peals of laughter.

"Oh my God, this is amazing. Nigel, please tell me more, I beg you."

"Oh!" He exclaimed, and waved enthusiastically at Miranda. "Remember when that designer guy with the famous daddy booked a showing for you and he had the most horrible - "

"Atrocious - "

"Bright pink dress he wanted you to wear to the Met Gala - "

"I have never felt more insulted in my life - "

"And then you just eviscerated him on the spot! You tore him to shreds and showed him who's boss until the guy was practically trembling in terror."

Miranda's expression transformed from revulsion to smug in one second flat. "It was one of my most memorable eviscerations, wasn't it?" She said with a fond smile.

Between her bursts of laughter, the only thing Andy was able to mutter was, "Oh my God." And then the two were off again.

"Do you remember that one time Irv tried to cut the budget by forty percent so you told his wife at that party and she confronted him about it in front of everyone - "

"Jennifer does so love Runway," Miranda drawled with a self-satisfied smirk.

"And afterwards he didn't speak to you for twenty days? That was a whole new record!"

"Best record yet."

Nigel chuckled, and it was followed by a brief, calm silence as the two of them seemed to reminisce about old times. Andy's head spun in a mixture of alcohol and priceless anecdotes she was still trying to absorb, but her mind was sent into orbit when Miranda suddenly turned to her and said,

"You know, if you really want to know what I'm like at work, you should just come to Runway one day and see for yourself."

Andrea's eyes widened comically as she sputtered out her bewilderment. "Wait, seriously? I could really come see you at Runway?"

"I've seen you at work, Andrea. I think it's your turn to see me in my domain and finally meet the Dragon. I'll set it up at some point after this issue is printed, and I'll let you know in advance so you can mentally prepare yourself."

"Oh my God."

Nigel looked at the picture before him: Andy slumped back as if processing the highly uncharacteristic offer she was just given, and Miranda watching her with a soft expression full of tenderness. In that moment, Nigel understood. 

Nearly two hours later, when Miranda walked him to the door (Andy had been too drowsy to get up from her comfy place on the couch) Nigel offered his own uncharacteristic action of the night.

He hugged Miranda.

After only a moment's hesitation, Miranda hugged him back. She couldn't remember the last time she had properly hugged her friend, but it felt good, and comforting. Once they stepped back, Nigel was looking at her with a bright smile and even brighter eyes. Oh, God, he better not start crying

"Thank you so much for tonight, Miranda. I can't tell you how honoured I feel that you allowed me to see this part of your life. Andy seems perfect for you, and she obviously adores you. I'm so, so happy for you. And even though I know I don't say this enough, I hope you know that I love you and I am so grateful for everything."

Miranda's throat tightened with emotion, and she felt her chest fill up with a soothing warmth. "I wouldn't share this with anyone else, Nigel. You're one of my dearest, oldest friends, and I am so glad to have you to keep me sane amongst so many stupid, incompetent fools surrounding us," she smirked, and he chuckled wryly. They had risen up through the ranks together, and had been each other's rock when they were challenged time and time again on their rise to the top. "And I'm certain I don't say it ever, but I love you too."

Nigel's grin widened even more, but when his chin started to wobble Miranda shook a finger at him. "None of that now. Alcohol makes us soft. According to Andrea, I turn into a docile kitten after my fourth glass of wine."

He snorted. "I'll believe that when I see it. We haven't really had a drink together in years."

Miranda nodded solemnly, frowning as she realised just how much they had grown apart. Not for any personal reasons. It was just almost impossible to have any close friends with how much she worked, and the fact that she was his boss had definitely set up a barrier between them. But Miranda knew better now. She knew that soon, Nigel would move on to better and greater things, and if she didn't want to lose him when he was no longer under her employ, she was going to have to start rebuilding their friendship and tearing down that barrier between them. Tonight was a very good place to start.

"I promise, things are going to get better now. I'm going to make some changes in the not-too-distant future, and one of those include spending more time with my closest friends."

"Lucky me, then," Nigel said with a tone of sarcasm in his voice, but Miranda could clearly see the affection in smiling brown eyes. "I'll leave you to take care of Andy. She's a real lightweight, isn't she?"

Miranda rolled her eyes. "You have no idea. That's the problem with younger generations - they can't hold their liquor."

Nigel chuckled, and reached to open the door. "Goodnight Miranda, and thanks again for this. I'm looking forward to next time."

Miranda smiled at him - a real, warm smile that transformed her face and crinkled her eyes. It suddenly struck Nigel like a bolt of lightning. He sometimes forgot just how beautiful his friend was.

"Goodnight, Nigel. Get home safe."

He waved, and then made his way out into the brisk night air as Miranda shut the door behind him.

Miranda shook her head fondly, unused to the feeling of such joy and contentment welling up inside her. Her life was coming together so perfectly - far better than she could have ever dreamed. Smiling as she made her way back to the den to gently wake a slumbering Andrea, her heart felt like it would explode right out of her chest when drowsy brown eyes blinked open in the cutest manner.

"M'randa?"

The sleepy voice made her chuckle, and she softly moved silky dark hair away from the face she loved so much. "Come on, darling. Let's go to bed."

"M'kay. You have fun tonight?"

"I certainly did. I'm very glad we did this," Miranda answered as she sweetly wrapped her arm around Andrea's waist to help her out of the den and up the stairs.

"Me too. Nigel's great. Very handsome. I'm glad he's gay, otherwise I'd totally have competish."

Miranda had to fight back her laughter. She would never bore of a drunk Andrea. "'Competish', Andrea? Really?"

"Yeah, you're totally hot! Who wouldn't wanna be with you?" Andrea swivelled in Miranda's half-embrace, nearly toppling them both down half a flight of stairs.

"Don't be ridiculous, Andrea," Miranda retorted, and steadily continued their way up until they finally reached the second floor.

"I'm not!" She pouted, and Miranda bit her lip to keep from kissing her. "I'm the luckiest girl in the whole wide world."

She didn't know how to answer that, so she simply opened the door to their bedroom and ushered Andy into the bathroom before sitting on the bed with a fatigued sigh. She had felt a lot of emotions this evenings, and it had left her feeling rather tired. But of all the sweet things that had been said to her, Miranda was sure that one of them was absolutely not true. Andrea was not the luckiest girl in the world. She knew this for a fact, because she was absolutely, irrevocably, doubtlessly certain that she, Miranda Priestly, was the luckiest one.

As Andrea's tipsy, out of tune rendition of Disney's A Whole New World rang softly from behind the bathroom door, Miranda closed her eyes, and prayed that the rest of her life would be filled with nights as happy as this.

 

Chapter Text

"Andy Sachs to see Miranda Priestly."

The receptionist looked up at her with little interest before glancing down at whatever she'd been working on.

"Go right on through," she said in a bored, flat voice, and Andy smiled winningly in retaliation.

"Thanks!"

Runway was much the same as the last (and only) time she'd been here. The halls were as pristine as she remembered them, and the chaos still reigned rampant as people scattered about rushing to fulfil some task or errand. The only difference this time - and it made all the difference in the world - was that Andy wasn't here to confront Miranda or stand up for herself. She was here to see her lover in her full Runway persona. Andy could not lie - she had been excitedly looking forward to this day for the past twenty days.

And who could blame her? She knew she loved Miranda, all parts of her, but she had barely seen the editor in action, and Andy was looking forward to falling in love with that aspect of Miranda too. Plus, she couldn't help but feel a more scientific curiosity as to how Miranda's psyche worked in such complex layers, donning and discarding a personality depending on whether she was in work mode or not.

Sure, Andy had occasionally heard Miranda on the phone to one of her minions, and it gave her a glimpse of what the dragon layer was like. And even though Miranda's work voice was cold and harsh and often brutal, it was only a fleeting taste of the real thing. Not to mention rather sexy. She couldn't wait to witness it completely.

As she strode into Miranda's outer office, an assistant looked up at her with a blank expression. Her hair was unnaturally, fiercely red, her eyeshadow a touch too dramatic for Andy's taste, her clothes perfectly pristine. This must be the notorious Emily.

"Hi." Andy approached with a smile. "I'm Andy, I have an appointment with Miranda."

Emily looked up at her, and raised her eyebrows when she spotted the flower bouquet in Andy's hand before dragging her eyes over Andy's outfit judgmentally. When she locked eyes with Andy again, her expression was bordering on disdainful. Just as she opened her mouth to respond, Miranda appeared at the doorway.

"I thought I heard your voice," she said, and Andy's knees nearly buckled. Miranda was dressed to kill today - a tight dark skirt that reached just above her knees showed off enticing curves and perfectly defined calves that ended in impossibly high classic Valentino heels; a black blazer with sharp, severe cuts and silver buttons made her shoulders stand tall; a form-fitting, blood-red blouse lay underneath with the top three buttons undone, the plummeting cleavage making Andy dizzy with the amount of creamy skin on display. Skin she had kissed and worshipped many, many times. All in all, Miranda looked like some form of war goddess, and Andy could barely keep from flinging herself at her feet and begging permission to worship her.

Even though Miranda didn't smile outright, her expression softened significantly when her eyes found Andy's, and a knowing glint in her eye told her that the revered queen of fashion knew exactly the kind of effect she was having on the younger woman. "Come, Andrea. I have much to show you."

Andy staggered forward, nearly falling face first onto the spotless floor when Miranda turned and gave her the perfect view from behind. The red soles of her heels only added magnitude to the enticing look, and the way the outfit hugged Miranda's curves - dear God. Barely managing to stop herself from drooling, Andy followed Miranda into her office.

Once they were sitting on the couch away from the door and any possible prying eyes, Miranda allowed herself to relax.

"Hello, darling." She smiled, and leaned close to kiss Andy's lips softly in a proper greeting. "Are these for me?" She indicated the colourful bouquet cradled on Andy's lap.

"Hello to you too. And yes, they are." Andy gave Miranda the bouquet, eyes still roaming as her lover brought the flowers close to her nose and inhaled. "You look incredible. No, really, I think I'm having heart palpitations."

"Are you now?" Miranda smirked, her expression becoming proud and salacious. She carefully placed the flowers on the coffee table in front of them.

"Yeah, I mean, really - Phew, is it getting hot in here?" Andy fanned herself with her hand, trying but failing to contain her smile when Miranda raised an eyebrow in amusement.

"I wouldn't know, the temperature is always kept exactly the same, just as I like it."

"Well, it must be just me then. Maybe because I'm dating the sexiest woman alive, and her hotness is pretty much killing me right now."

Miranda couldn't repress a snort of amusement and only just managed to keep from laughing outright.

"You are ridiculous."

"Um, have you looked in a mirror? You're lucky I haven't thrown caution to the wind and taken you right here in your office."

"Lucky me," She said, even as a delicious tendril of arousal curled in her abdomen at the idea of Andrea doing just that. "Imagine the scandal."

"Yeah, well, nothing is stopping me from doing it the moment we're in private. I might ask you to wear this outfit on occasion, by the way. For purely educational purposes."

Miranda hummed in response, biting her lower lip to keep from kissing the delectable woman before her. She knew if she did, it would be almost impossible to stop.

Andrea seemed to realise that too, and took a deep breath to compose herself.

"How are you, anyways? I haven't seen you in a few days, is everything okay?"

"The usual, I'm afraid," Miranda scoffed, and Andy watched her scowl. "I went over the Book last night, and let's just say my staff are going to suffer greatly today."

"Lucky me," Andy smirked, repeating Miranda's previous words. "I get a proper show then."

She found herself on the receiving end of a glare, and snickered at her favourite Miranda-reaction to her teasing.

"Just you wait, Andrea," Miranda drawled. "Just you wait."

Andy leaned forward, close enough to feel Miranda's breath on her face, and was about to respond with something witty when they were interrupted.

"Have you reviewed Gucci's new line of--" Nigel looked up from his paperwork as he strode into the office, and stopped when he didn't see Miranda sitting on her desk. It was rather amusing to watch his puzzled reaction, and Miranda and Andy shared a sideways smirk. He scratched his bald head, and then made to leave the office. Startled, he jumped as he spotted them on the corner sofa. "Oh! Jesus, you almost gave me a heart attack!"

Andy chuckled and stood to greet him.

"Sorry," she said, smiling widely as he gave her air kisses. "How are you, Nigel?"

"Oh, you know,just another day working for our illustrious leader. But what about you, my dear?"

"I'm just here to watch the Dragon demolish some poor lackeys. I've heard it's going to be quite the show."

She heard an indignant huff from somewhere behind her, and shared a secret grin with Nigel. Miranda ignored them, and instead set about putting the beautiful flowers in a glass vase she kept near her desk.

"Honey, you don't know what you're in for." Nigel patted Andy's shoulder the way a sergeant would do his soldier before sending him onto the battlefield. "I bet she's going to breathe fire just for your benefit."

"If you two are quite finished," Miranda snapped, coming up to stand next to Andrea. "Nigel, what is it you came in here to tell me?"

"Just to check if you had a look at Gucci's handbags, but it can wait until later. I believe the entourage is here."

As if he had summoned them himself, five people came into the office pushing racks of hangers with colourful garments and trays full of accessories. Andy looked at Miranda with barely hidden excitement, and Miranda's lips twitched.

"Take a seat, Andrea." She indicated the sofa they had vacated just minutes before. "And enjoy the show."

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

Watching Miranda at work was... something else. Andy had expected her to be in harsh boss mode, but she'd figured that the whole Dragon Lady thing was just people's exaggerated melodramatics at seeing a woman behave like that in the workplace.

Boy, was she wrong.

Miranda verbally eviscerated all the members of her staff throughout the run through, except for Nigel. She cut them down at the knees when they tried to offer an outfit that was unacceptable, not even giving her reasons after her terse "no". She was the calm at the centre of a hurricane. The others scrambled all around her to put things together and correct all that which had been struck down. All the while, Miranda remained firm and composed, looking striking in her regal bearing.

"Are you trying to burn my retina? What possessed your insipid mind to assault my eyes with such a hideous outfit? Have you completely taken leave of your senses?"

"N-No, Miranda, I mean - I'm sor--"

"Details of your incompetence do not interest me and your apologies bore me. Give me something I can work with before all of you find yourselves without a job. Sometime this century would be best."

Andy drank it all in. Part of her - the psychologist part of her brain - was fascinated that the woman before her was the same as her Miranda. The one who liked chocolate ice cream and watched Spy Kids with her daughters and was afraid of spiders. But another part of her - the one that was irrevocably, head over heels in love with the woman - was becoming increasingly attracted to her (something she'd thought was impossible). There was a warmth spreading through her as she watched Miranda in her element, wielding her power with a ruthlessness that was ridiculously arousing. She fidgeted where she sat, trying her best to keep her face composed so that her desire was not visible to everyone in the room. The last thing Miranda needed right now was Andy panting after her like a dog in heat.

"You've had hours and hours to prepare, and yet you bring me this. It is unacceptable. Why is it so hard to put together a decent run through? Am I reaching for the stars? The Book was deplorable last night, and today you bring me this atrocity. I'm starting to think half of my staff is either brain dead or purposely trying to sabotage my magazine."

There was a loaded silence, and nobody moved, nobody breathed. Andy watched as the staff in question looked anywhere but straight at Miranda, and most of them were either trembling or close to tears.

"You have until tomorrow morning to put together something worth my time. If you bring me something like this again, you can say goodbye to your jobs, and any other future you might want in fashion." Miranda didn't even flinch, simply glared at them and spoke in the quietest of whispers. "That's all."

They all scrambled out of the office until it was only Nigel and Emily left.

"Emily, send out a memo to everyone that in the next two weeks I will be reviewing everyone's work, and that if someone is not doing their jobs correctly they will no longer be employed here. Then call Irv and postpone the budget meeting to tomorrow morning. Confirm lunch with Donatella and send my condolences to Massimo, as well as flowers. Not something too bright, but nothing maudlin. 

“Call my ex husband and tell him to pick up the girls this weekend at the agreed upon time. Send the other Emily to fetch me twenty scarves from Hermès and ten skirts from Calvin Klein before picking up Patricia from the groomer. Tell her to bring coffee when she gets back. And book an appointment with my masseuse for next week."

Emily glanced up from her furious note taking. "But Carlo has gone back to Costa Rica for the month--"

"I won't be using him anymore." Miranda glanced at Andrea briefly, her lips twitching in a barely-there smile. "Andrea will give you the details of my new masseuse. Lucile, was it?" Andy grinned, and nodded. "And get Andrea a permanent pass for whenever she wants to visit Runway. She is an esteemed guest here and should be treated as such."

Nigel snickered quietly, and shared a confidential smirk with Andy. Emily frowned and looked between all three occupants in Miranda's office as if trying to figure out a complicated puzzle.

"That's all."

She scattered away after being dismissed, and Miranda turned to Nigel with a deep sigh.

"Don't worry, I'll talk to them. It really was an awful run through, but I'll take care of it."

"Thank you, Nigel," Miranda said, and Nigel did a double take. Miranda thanking anyone under her employ was unheard of, even her right hand man. "I don't know what has gotten into them lately."

"I'm pretty sure it's just because Thanksgiving is around the corner. They always slack off at this time of year."

"Well, tell them to pull themselves together. I have no time for mediocrity."

Nigel nodded. "I hear that. I'll see you later for the Gucci review?"

"Yes, I'll have my assistant call you when I have a moment."

Nigel smiled, and turned to Andy. She stood from the couch, and before he could say anything she drew him in for a hug.

"Hang in there," she whispered in his ear, and he chuckled quietly.

"Thanks," he murmured as he drew back. "Do us all a favour and settle her so she's in a better mood the rest of the day, okay?"

Andy grinned. "I'll do my best."

When he took his leave, Miranda turned to Andy. Despite how much she'd enjoyed watching her girlfriend in all her glory, Andy knew that this week had taken a toll on the editor. The fact that the run through had been so bad was just another weight on an already heavy burden.

"Come here," she said, opening her arms.

Miranda immediately stalked forward, and when she was wrapped in the embrace of her beloved, she let out a long, shaky sigh as her eyes fluttered shut. She immediately felt better. Nuzzling Andrea's neck, she allowed the comfort to wash over her, inhaling Andrea's scent, pulling her as close as possible. The press of the warm body she loved so much anchored her, and for the first time since they'd last seen each other, Miranda felt grounded.

She also felt relief wash over her. She had been apprehensive on what exactly Andrea would think of her Runway persona. Most people feared it, and all her previous partners had not liked that side of her. They didn't take her career seriously, and if anything, La Priestly was reduced to merely a sex object in their eyes. An initial fantasy that crashed and burned the moment they realised that this part of Miranda did not exist for their pleasure. So they rejected her, and they disrespected her, and any time they witnessed her in work mode, they immediately shut her out and left her to face her unimaginable stress alone.

But she should have known that Andrea would be different, like she was regarding everything else. Andrea saw her.  She knew Miranda better than anyone, and of course she would love every part of her, including the dragon. This embrace settled any doubts Miranda had, and she revelled in the knowledge that Andrea's love was unconditional.

"Thank you," she murmured against a sensitive ear, and squeezed her tighter against her.  There were not enough words in any language that could really express how grateful she was to Andrea, for so many things. Thank you for changing my life around and showing me true happiness. Thank you for being with me. Thank you for loving me the way you do. Thank you for being you.

"Of course," Andy responded as if it was nothing, when in reality it was everything. She kissed Miranda's cheek, and pulled back enough to look at her. "You okay?"

Miranda felt her expression soften. Brown eyes looked at her with so much care and concern that she felt the warmth in her chest spread out to engulf her entire body in its soothing solace.

"I'm better now."

Andy smiled and kissed her lips softly. Miranda hummed in delight, and rejoiced in the caress of full lips on hers.

"So I have to say," Andrea said, gazing at her with a mischievous spark in darkened eyes. "Watching you in your element is incredibly compelling."

Miranda smirked and raised a curious eyebrow. "Is it, now?"

"Not to mention ridiculously hot."

"I take it you enjoyed the show then?" Miranda husked, trailing her hands over Andrea's curves.

"Oh, I more than enjoyed it. My ovaries were practically apoplectic."

Miranda laughed loudly enough that it was heard from the outer office, and they both heard a shocked squeak and the ensuing sound of something dropping heavily.

"Darling, I think you just gave my assistant a heart attack."

"Well then," Andy sassed in a quiet voice. "You'll have to take us both to the ER, because I'm pretty sure I ruptured several organs trying not to tackle you to the ground and have my way with you earlier."

Miranda kept her amusement quieter this time, a mere chuckle for Andrea's ears only. "You sure are imaginative today, aren't you?"

"What can I say? I'm inspired," Andy grinned, running her fingers carefully through the hair at the back of Miranda's neck.

"Flattery will get you everywhere, madam."

"Oh, I sure hope so."

Andy placed a kiss on her jaw, then another one on her neck. Miranda felt something deep inside her clench with want. Andrea always had this effect on her. A mere brush of her lips, a suggestive touch of her fingers, and Miranda went weak with want.

"None of that now, darling. I have work to do," she said, her voice mournful.

"I know." Andrea hummed, and planted one last kiss on that secret spot behind Miranda's ear, running her tongue teasingly over it. Miranda's breath hitched, and she squeezed Andrea's hips between her fingers. "I'm just giving you something to look forward to tonight."

Miranda stepped away, putting some much needed distance between them before she lost all her control and dragged the woman into her en suite master bathroom.

"I'll keep it in mind," she said, and tried to compose herself. "Now, I really must get work done. I hope you got what you wanted out of this little... excursion."

"Oh, you bet. All that and more." Andy stepped forward to give her a short peck on her lips - she understood Miranda's boundaries and wanted to respect them, especially at work. "I'll see you tonight, pretty lady."

Miranda smiled and nodded. "See you tonight, Sunrise."

Andy beamed, and strutted out of the office with such a cheery countenance that Emily balked as she passed the assistant’s desk.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

That night, Andy and Miranda were in bed, naked and sweaty and enjoying the afterglow of very intense love making. Andy was laid back against the pillows, gently running her fingers through Miranda's messy hair while the older woman rested against her chest practically purring. Andy had always thought Miranda acted like a feline after sex, becoming languid and soft. Not that she’d ever tell her that. 

Miranda's fingers were tracing nonsensical patterns over Andy's abdomen, making Andy shiver in delight. Her body was still sensitive, and even though they had given each other pleasure until neither of them could take it anymore, Andy still felt the remnants of arousal spark like the last embers of a bright flame. Their earlier activities had been... well... They had made up for the days apart, that's for certain. Andy had kept to her promise from earlier today by ravaging Miranda the moment they were alone.

She had delighted in taking off Miranda's insanely sexy outfit, revelling in the fact that she was the lucky one allowed to do so. She’d worshipped Miranda the way a goddess rightfully deserves; had trailed her lips over every inch of perfect skin, dug her teeth into a pulsing neck and quivering thighs, until Miranda was in such a frenzied state of desire and need that she was a pleading mess of whimpers and moans.

Andy had relented, and gave Miranda three mind-blowing orgasms, one after the other, using her lips and tongue and fingers to make her lover shake and arch and muffle her cries of ecstasy with her hand. She had not stopped, hadn't even allowed Miranda to recover before she was pushing her into another climax, each one more powerful than the last, until Miranda had begged for Andrea to stop.

Miranda had all but collapsed onto the mattress, sweaty and panting and barely conscious as she drifted in a state of bliss. Hardly able to move, she had dragged Andy up until her lover straddled her shoulders, and Miranda had set to work on making Andrea unravel, her mouth working relentlessly while brown eyes looked down into her own in a haze of carnality that consumed them both.

Now, two hours after they had begun, they were too spent to do anything but lay in each other's arms. Miranda felt so relaxed she was hardly awake. The warmth of the duvet and the naked body pressed to her felt like heaven, and the fingers running soothingly through her hair were lulling her to sleep.

"I'm thinking of hiring an assistant for the therapy studio," Andy said out of the blue, and Miranda blinked her bleary eyes open.

"Oh?" She murmured.

"Yeah, I think it would be good to have a receptionist help me run things. Kinda like Emily."

Miranda hummed. "I think it's a wonderful idea. But, darling, nobody is like Emily. Such high-strung people with neurotic stress management tendencies are very hard to come by. Not to mention the fashion sense and strange obsession with cheese cubes."

Andy chuckled. "Alright, I'll give you that. I just want someone organised, who can greet my patients and help me run things more smoothly. It would be a weight off my back."

"Hm, yes, you do have a beautiful back to maintain."

Andy smiled, hearing Miranda's tiredness in her voice. She was adorable when she got sleepy. Again, not that she'd ever tell her. One thing she'd learned is that Miranda Priestly did not appreciate being called adorable. Something about having a reputation to maintain.

"Go to sleep, honey. I'll make your favourite coffee in the morning."

Miranda hummed against her and pulled Andy's body impossibly closer.

"And that's why I love you," she mumbled. "G'night, darling."

"Goodnight, beautiful."

Miranda's breathing settled into a deep, even cadence, and Andy smiled into the darkness.

Out like a light, she thought, tucking the duvet securely over Miranda’s naked shoulder. My dragon isn't nearly as fearsome as everyone thinks.

 

 

.oOo.

 

 

"Girl, spill. Something's different about you," Lily said as she inspected Andy from head to toe.

They were sitting on the couch in Doug's living room, and Andy fidgeted nervously at Lily's dissecting look. She hadn't been able to meet up with her friends since Miranda and her had gotten together almost five months ago. She felt guilty, because work had been hectic and the spare time she had was devoted to Miranda and the girls.

Before she could answer, Doug came from the kitchen with a tray of drinks and bowls of popcorn.

"Here you go, ladies," he announced, and placed the tray on the low coffee table before taking a seat. "You better enjoy these drinks. I made them with lots of love and money."

Andy snorted, and diligently tried her drink. Her eyebrows raised at the flavour, and she immediately took a larger gulp. "So, that mixer course really is paying off, huh?"

"You bet your fine ass it is. I feel like I'm in college again, drinking so much booze. It's a wonder I haven't become a full-fledged alcoholic."

"Give yourself time, Dougie, maybe in a few months you'll get there," Lily said around her paper straw.

"Thank you for believing in me," he said, bringing a hand up to his chest and bowing in mock honour.

" Anyways," Lily drawled, focusing her sharp eyes on Andy again. "You are not evading this, Andy. We both know something up with you. So, spill."

Doug turned his attention to her as well, and now Andy wasn't sure exactly what to say. Her friends looked at her expectantly, and she wished she'd spoken to Miranda about how much she could reveal to her friends before coming here. Andy sighed. She supposed they were going to find out sooner or later.

"I've hired an assistant."

Her friends looked at her in blank confusion, and Andy fought hard not to laugh.

"Her name is Alice, and she's great," she continued, unable to suppress her grin. "She takes care of so much stuff from the therapy studio, now I have more time to myself and I don't have to worry about every single detail. You would not believe what a relief--"

"Oh, come on Andy!" Lily whined.

"We know you're seeing someone. That's pretty obvious, and we know you too well not to notice. We just want the hot deets." Doug wiggled his eyebrows, taking a drink from his pink cocktail.

"Okay, okay, fine," Andy gave in. "Yes, I'm seeing someone."

"Knew it!" Lily exclaimed, and Doug high-fived her.

"So? Who is this mystery person?"

Andy bit her lips, and tried to think of the best way to put this.

"Holy shit, don't tell me it's that ‘M’ person who was your patient and then your friend and then you went on a dinner date with--"

"It wasn't a date--"

"But am I right?" Lily said, eyes as wide as her knowing grin. "Is she the one you're seeing?"

Andy caught herself nearly pouting her lips in a very Miranda-like manner, and the ensuing smile that stretched over her face at the thought of how much Miranda had subconsciously rubbed off on her was all the answer her friends needed. They all but exploded in a ruckus of celebratory delight.

"Whoop!"  Doug hollered.

"Get it girl!"

"I fucking knew it. It was totally a date!"

"We saw this coming from miles away," Lily added, leaning forward. "So, who is she? Or is it still top secret?"

"Um-"

"Exactly how famous is she?" Doug asked. "Like, is she an A-Lister kinda thing? Ooh! Is she an actress?"

"Not exactly," Andy said, bracing herself. Her friends were nothing if not relentless. She knew they would get it out of her eventually. Maybe she had subconsciously been avoiding them because she'd been afraid of it happening when Miranda and her weren't ready. But the twins knew now, and so did Nigel, and possibly some gossiping staff at Runway. Surely Miranda wouldn't mind if Andy confided in her closest friends? "She's in fashion."

"Is she a model?"

"Nope."

"A designer?"

"Wrong again."

"I like this game," Doug announced, sloshing his drink as he moved to sit at the edge of his seat. "So is she, like, a photographer?"

"No..."

"Oh! Does she work for a magazine or something?"

Andy smirked. "Warmer."

"Okay, okay," Lily said, grasping Doug's arm. "Let's go over what we know. Her name starts with M, she works for a magazine, she has children, she's divorcing--"

"Wait." Doug turned to look at Andy with widening eyes. She braced herself.

"What?" Lily asked, watching as Doug brought his hand up to his forehead.

"Andrea Sachs. Tell me it ain't so."

"I can't confirm or deny if you don't actually say anything, Douggie."

"Are you - oh my God, I can't believe I'm gonna say this. Are you dating Miranda Priestly?"

There was a loaded silence, and Andy bit her lip to fight back the smile that always made an appearance whenever she heard Miranda's name spoken aloud. Apparently, that reaction was enough.

"You're shitting me." Lily looked at her, slack jawed.

There was another silence, and Andy could practically see her friends' minds trying to grasp what they'd just learned.

"Holy fucking shitballs."

Andy would have laughed at their reaction if she wasn't feeling nervous about how they would take it. She knew Miranda wasn't the most beloved person. Most people didn't even like her. And it's not like she knew what her friends thought about the notorious fashion maven, so Andy was clueless as to what her friends were feeling right now. Apart from obvious shock and disbelief, of course.

"You're dating Miranda Priestly," Lily said, as if she needed to clarify they were talking about the same person.

"The Miranda Priestly," Doug added, looking shell-shocked. "As in, Miranda Priestly the editor in chief of Runway, the literal queen of fashion, the revered and feared dragon lady who can make grown men piss their pants. That Miranda Priestly?"

Andy inhaled deeply, before finally declaring, "Yes."

And then her friends were screaming incoherently, making Andy cringe despite not being angry shouts. They seemed to be having a fit, and Andy waited patiently until their dramatic antiques died down.

"Oh my God." Doug looked at Andy as if he'd never seen her before in his life. "Oh my God."

"Yeah," Andy said. "That kind of sums up my feelings regarding the past few months of my life."

"Jesus Christ Andy, this is big!" Lily proclaimed.

"How serious is it?" Doug asked, before taking multiple gulps of his drink.

 Andy shrugged. "It's serious. We're in love."

Doug choked and sputtered pink gin everywhere. Andy watched in amusement as Lily slapped his back while he coughed and gasped. It took several moments for his breathing to get back under control, and when he was finally safe from choking to death, he looked at Andy with wide eyes.

"Andybear, I love you, but you're gonna have to go back and tell us everything, because this is kinda unbelievable.”

So they sat back, and Andy told them a summary of everything that had happened with Miranda since the fashionista barged into Andy’s therapy studio for the first time. She told them about how Miranda had given her couture and taken her to dinner, and how Andy had taken her for a spa day, how Miranda had pushed her away and the ensuing heartbreak Andy had gone through (Doug and Lily looked at her knowingly, finally understanding what had really been going on when their friend had been drunkenly crying and mourning her friendship with Miranda). 

She told them about how Miranda had come to apologise (although she didn’t go into details, because she knew how Miranda had confided in her by making herself so painfully vulnerable) and how they had been dating ever since. She also told them about Caroline and Cassidy, how much Andy loved the girls already, and how she’d met Nigel and visited Runway to see the Dragon Lady in action.

Doug and Lily looked at her with increasing bewilderment and disbelief, and by the end of her tale, they were both slumped back as if their bodies couldn’t hold them up any longer.

“You’re dating Miranda Priestly,” Doug repeated faintly, as if his mind was still fighting to process this fact. “My best friend Andy and my revered idol Miranda Priestly are in love.”

Andy gave him an empathetic smile. She really couldn’t blame her friends for reacting like this. Hell, even Andy herself had trouble believing this was her reality sometimes. It’s not like she’d ever imagined this would happen to her. She hadn’t even known who Miranda Priestly was until that fateful first therapy session with her.

“I know, I know, it’s surreal. But I’m-” She felt her lips forming that Miranda smile again, the one that lit up her face whenever she thought about her lover. “I’m really happy. Happiest I’ve ever been.”

Lily and Doug looked at her with a mixture of warmth and disbelief. Lily finally shook herself out of the stupor, and reached forward to take Andy’s hand.

“I’m really happy for you, babe.” She gave Andy a genuine smile, and squeezed her hand. “It’s definitely surreal, but I’ve never seen you like this, and despite my shock I do feel happy for you.”

“Yeah,” Doug agreed, managing to pull himself together marginally. “We’re both really happy for you. We were worried about you back when things were bad, so I’m glad you sorted things out and got the girl.”

Andy smiled, feeling touched by her friends’ response. She’d been worried about having their blessing. She would never leave Miranda if she didn’t have it, but it was a huge relief that her friends had her back. 

“Thanks guys. It really means a lot to me.”

“Okay, enough sentimentality,” Doug announced, his face eager as he leaned towards Andy. “Tell us everything. What’s she like?”

The wistful smile returned to Andy’s face, and she nearly sighed like a love-sick dame. She’d been dying to talk to someone about Miranda, to share this huge part of her life. It was such a relief to finally be able to do that, and gush about Miranda with her closest friends the way she’d wanted to for so many months now.

“She’s amazing. It honestly drives me crazy how incredible she is. I can’t get enough of her, and whenever I’m with her it’s like nothing else I’ve ever felt. I know it’s really early days to say things like this, but I think she might be the one.”

They blinked at her, their eyes wide at her enamoured declaration. Doug turned to Lily.

“Don’t know about you, but I’m gonna need another drink.” 

“Me too, dude, me too.”



.oOo.



Andy called Miranda as soon as she left Doug’s place. It was late - nearly 10:30 pm - but Andy knew that Miranda was spending this Friday night with the twins before their father picked them up tomorrow morning.

The phone rang once, twice, and then Miranda picked up.

“Hello, darling. Are you having fun?” Her voice was soft, and Andy knew Miranda’s lips were curled in that infinitesimally way of hers.

Andy smiled into the brisk night, the amount of alcohol she’d drank making her grin goofy and smitten. “Hello, most beautiful woman on earth. It was sooo much fun! I just left Doug’s, and I miss you. Can I come over? I mean, unless you wanna spend tonight with the girls, which is totally okay. I can see you whenever you’re free, I don’t mind waiting--”

“Andrea?” Miranda sounded amused as she interrupted.

Andy realised she’d been rambling, and giggled. “Yes, Miranda?”

“Come over.”

Her beaming grin could light up half of New York. “Yes, Miranda.”

It took forty five minutes by cab to get to Miranda’s townhouse. As she stumbled up the stairs, the front door opened. Andy lost her precarious footing when she saw Miranda’s silhouette encased in the warm light of the hallways.

“Andrea!” She exclaimed when Andy nearly toppled over the last step. She lunged forward in an attempt to rescue Andy from a rather bad fall, but Andy managed to steady herself against the railing just in time.

“I’m good, I’m good,” Andy said, snickering at her own clumsiness. “Your beauty just swept me off my feet."

“Honestly, Andrea,” Miranda scoffed, but her face was soft as she guided Andrea inside. “How much have you had to drink, exactly?”

“Hey, don’t blame a girl for having celebratory drinks with her friends,” she retorted, peeling off her coat and handing it to Miranda to be hung up in the closet. 

“And what exactly were you celebrating?” Miranda’s eyebrow raised as she finished dutifully putting Andy’s coat away.

“Oh, only that I’m the luckiest person in the world,” Andy grinned, and flung her arms around Miranda’s neck.

“Really?” Miranda asked derisively as she wrapped her arms around Andrea’s waist. “And why is that?”

Andy brushed their noses together in a sweet eskimo kiss, before pulling back enough to beam at her lover. “Because I’m in a relationship with the most wonderful woman ever.”

Miranda’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “So you told your friends about us?”

Andy shrugged, glad she was drunk enough not to feel the anxiety she would most certainly be feeling right now. “Well, they kind of guessed that I was seeing someone, and started narrowing down all the possibilities until they realised I’m dating Miranda Priestly.”

Miranda regarded her quietly for a moment, and Andy started feeling nervous despite the amount of gin in her system.

“Um, should I not have told them? I trust them implicitly, and I made them swear not to tell anyone. I figured it would be okay. Since Nigel knows, I thought we were starting to tell the people closest to us.”

Miranda gazed at Andrea’s anxious expression, her eyes apprehensive and fearful. She immediately took action to erase that look from the beautiful face before her. Pulling the younger woman closer, she kissed her lips tenderly. Andrea hummed in delight against her, and the tension left her body as she melted against Miranda.

“It’s perfectly fine darling,” Miranda murmured, sweetly pushing a lock of hair behind Andrea’s ear. “I just hadn’t expected it. I supposed they ambushed you about the matter, much like Nigel did with me?”

Andy giggled. “Yeah. Their reactions were so funny. Doug is a fan of yours, and I could practically see his brain exploding. But they both said they’re happy for me, and that they can’t wait to meet the legend herself in person. Ooh, maybe we could go bar hopping! Or I could take them to Runway , that way Doug will really explode.”

Andy was too busy rambling to see Miranda’s small but fond smile directed at her. 

“I wonder what that would be like. Apart from a mess to clean, that is. Oh my God, I could try and convince you to come with us to our favourite gay club! I bet everyone in there would fawn over you, and I’d love to dance with you like that. Get down and dirty to Rihanna.”

Miranda was filled with tenderness watching Andrea’s enthusiastic face as she rambled away, eyes hazy and cheeks flushed from the alcohol and the excitement of the evening. She still marvelled at how she had been so lucky as to be with someone like Andrea - so full of life and spirit and unabashed joy. It made her heart feel ten times bigger, and life was a lot brighter.

“I love you.” She hadn’t even thought the words before they were slipping past her lips, and Andrea stopped in her energetic monologue.

A beaming smile was her response, Andrea’s expression so bright with happiness that she lit up the room. It took Miranda’s breath away.

“I love you too.”

They remained gazing at each other a moment longer, basking in their closeness before leaning into each other to revel in a deep kiss.

“Mooooom! Is Andy here yet?”

Andy snickered against Miranda’s lips before pulling away, her eyes shining with mirth.

“Guess we should head up, huh? The children await.”

Miranda’s heart jumped in her chest at hearing Andrea refer to her daughters like that. Not “your children” or “your daughters”. It sounded wonderfully equal, like the girls were also Andrea’s, not just Miranda’s. 

“C’mon, I wanna cuddle on the sofa with you,” Andy said, unaware of how much her words had affected her lover. 

She took Miranda’s hand and led her up the stairs, using the railing to steady herself and Miranda followed with unabashed bemusement. Following the sounds of a movie playing and Cassidy and Caroline giggling, Andy found them in the second floor TV room. The girls were sprawled on a mountain of pillows across the floor, the remnants of popcorn scattered around them and pizza boxes stacked on the corner of the table at the far end of the room. There was a blanket scrunched up on the sofa, clearly where Miranda herself had been lounging before Andy had arrived.

“Andy!” Cassidy and Caroline yelled when they spotted her in the entryway.

Out of the corner of her eye, Andy saw Miranda flinch at the raised voices. Before their mother could berate them, the girls were rushing to their feet and barging into Andy for a three-way hug.

“Hey, girls.” Andy smiled widely at them, wrapping her arms and squeezing them against her. “Whatcha watching?”

The Hunger Games,” Cassidy said as they stepped back. 

“Have you seen it?” Caroline asked as both girls resumed their places on their make-shift floor cocoon.

“Of course I have! I love that saga.” Andy followed Miranda to the couch and sat close to her.

“Cool! We’re like halfway through so it would suck if we had to explain it all to you.”

“They have seen it at least four times already, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult for them to recall exactly what has happened so far,” Miranda said, leaning against the armrest and pulling Andy against her so they could curl up comfortably.

“Four times? That’s pretty impressive,” Andy praised them, sharing a secret smirk with Miranda. She reached towards the blanket, draping it over them both before snuggling onto Miranda’s shoulder.

“Nah, we’ve seen Harry Potter loads more,” Cassidy retorted, settling onto her stomach.

“But Josh Hutcherson is so cute.” Caroline giggled, bumping her shoulder against her sister’s.

“Yeah, but Robert Pattinson is way cuter,” Cassidy argued, favouring Harry Potter for that sole reason.

“Too bad Voldemort kills him,” Caroline taunted, and Cassidy scowled at her before pushing her forcefully off-balance.

“Girls,” Miranda spoke up, her voice easily carrying over the twins’ bickering. “Settle down, please.”

Cassidy stuck out her tongue at her sister as a final mode of attack before they both turned back to the wide screen tv. The four of them continued to watch the film in silence, and Andy felt a deep contentment settle over her. She never felt happier than being like this. It felt like home whenever she was with Miranda and her girls, and she was so full of love for them that she could hardly breathe.

Miranda began running her fingers idly through Andy’s hair, and she let out a pleased sigh as she relaxed further into Miranda’s arms. Her eyelids began to feel heavy. The emotional excitement of the evening with her friends, the over-consumption of pink gin, and Miranda’s warmth and soft caresses were lulling her to a state of blissful comfort.

She was asleep long before the credits rolled.



.oOo.



Andy spent the entirety of that weekend with Miranda while the girls were away with their father. They spent the time working, talking about anything and everything, and making love whenever they felt like it. Andy even cooked for her, even though Miranda was the superior chef, and treated her to a back rub when they indulged in a shared bubble bath. It was two days of bliss. 

She felt so at home at the townhouse that it was easy to slip into such domesticity with Miranda. She couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if everyday could be like this - if they could fall asleep side by side every night, and wake up in each other’s arms the next morning. If they could have breakfast together and share a pot of coffee while they read the newspaper, and kiss before going to work their separate ways, and come back in the evening after a long day to bask in warm embraces and loving words.

She was getting ahead of herself, she knew. It hadn’t even been six months since they’d started dating. Barely eight months since they first met. But Andy felt so certain about Miranda that it was hard to pace herself sometimes. She had to remind herself that Miranda had been in serious relationships before, had been married twice , and Andy would do well not to put pressure on her. She didn’t want Miranda to feel like they had to develop into something that she wasn’t prepared for, or that Andy was demanding something Miranda wasn't ready to give. They hadn’t really spoken about the future in regards to moving in together, let alone a more permanent commitment, but Andy completely understood if Miranda was cautious and hesitant after all her previous relationships.

When Miranda went to open the door for her on Sunday evening, before the girls had even returned from their father’s, Andy pulled her close and kissed her deeply. Miranda hummed in delight against her, and when they pulled back her eyes were dazed.

“Are you free at all this week?” Andy asked hopefully.

“I’m afraid I’m bound to be very busy,” Miranda told her, lips pursed in displeasure. “I have evening events almost every day, and I have to be in at ungodly hours each morning.” She frowned. It was getting difficult to not see Andrea for such long, dreadful days at a time.Tedious to spend so much time away from her. “Perhaps I can spare an hour for lunch at some point.”

Andy smiled, despite feeling crestfallen. The most difficult thing about their relationship so far was the unbelievably busy schedules. At the beginning it hadn’t felt like this - like it was physically painful to be separated from Miranda such long stretches of time, only for their scarce time together to fly by so unbearably quickly.

“Only if it won’t get in your way or cause any scheduling conflicts. There’s no pressure, just let me know if you can.” Andy brushed away Miranda’s forelock with her fingers, and then stroked her cheek. “I had a wonderful time this weekend.”

“So did I.” Blue eyes gazed at her with such tenderness that Andy felt her heart squeeze. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Looking forward to it,” Andy grinned, and kissed her once more before passing the threshold. “Love you, beautiful.·

“I love you, too.”

That night in bed, Andy cuddled a pillow close to her and tried not to be overwhelmed by how much she missed Miranda.



.oOo.

 

 

Friday afternoon found Andy in her studio working over one of her patient’s notes when her phone started ringing with Miranda’s particular ringtone.

“Hey there, pretty lady.”

“Andrea.” The way relieved, breathy way Miranda said her name, the cadence of her voice, made Andy smile. “Have you had lunch yet?”

“Not yet, no. I don’t have a client until three, so I was planning on getting lunch a bit later.”

“What if lunch was delivered to you?” Miranda asked, and Andy sat up in her seat, her chest fluttering with excitement.

“You mean, like, by magic? I guess if I could summon any meal, I’d go for that lasagna of yours I love so much.”

“Very funny, dear,” Miranda snarked, but Andy could tell she was amused. “I meant, of course, if you’d like me to come to your office bearing lunch, and we could spend some time together.”

“That sounds wonderful, I’d love that,” Andy said, already excited to see her.

“Alright, I’ll be there in half an hour.”

Before Andy had time to respond, Miranda hung up, and she rolled her eyes. Some things never changed. 

Exactly twenty five minutes later, Andy heard the doorbell, and she rushed out onto the reception area.

“I’ll get it,” she told Alice, who had stood from her desk to answer the door herself.

“Okay.” The young blonde shrugged, and gladly sat down to resume whatever task she was working on her computer.

Andy flung the door open, and there stood Miranda, looking dazzling and very much relieved to see her. She wore a form-fitting, eggplant coloured dress under an elegant black fur coat, with matching high heels and her signature hoop earrings. On her right hand she carried a silver Prada handbag, and on her left a carried bag with three containers full of Thai food. 

“Hey, you.” Andy grinned, and stepped aside to let her sweep past her. Then she turned to her assistant. “Alice, hold my calls, please.”

The assistant in question was looking at them with raised eyebrows, a question in her green eyes as she followed them with her gaze until they disappeared into Andy’s office. Andy shut the door behind them, and proceeded to drag a chair closer to the desk while Miranda set the plastic bag on it.

“Hi,” Andy said again, and sauntered over to Miranda before wrapping her arms around her waist.

“Hey there,” Miranda replied, running her hands up Andy’s arm until she looped them behind her neck. She pressed herself closer to the younger woman’s body, and let out a breath that carried in it all of the week’s stress and frustration.

“You okay?” Andy asked, nuzzling Miranda’s cheek.

“Better now.” Miranda gave her a small smile, and ran her fingers through silky brown locks of hair. “Irv is being impossible as always regarding the budget for next month’s photoshoot, my dim-witted staff is getting on my last nerves, and I had to fire two people from the art department.”

Andy cringed in sympathy, and ran her hands soothingly up and down Miranda’s back. “I’m sorry, is there anything I can do?”

Miranda shook her head lightly. “You’re already doing it,” she leaned in for a much needed kiss, and the remnants of tension left her shoulders at the feeling of Andrea’s lips on hers. “And how are you? Apart from looking particularly beautiful in that blouse.”

The blouse in question was a deep blue button down, elegant and airy despite hugging her in all the right places. Miranda had given it to her a few weeks back, instructing her to pair it with light colours. Andy had complied, and had decided to wear a pair of high-waisted, cream coloured trousers.

“Why, thank you. It was a present from this gorgeous woman who has the best taste in fashion,” Andy teased, and was rewarded by a bemused smirk curling at the corners of Miranda’s delectable mouth. “And I’m good, actually. I was just working on my notes for a patient I’m seeing later. I’ve made a lot of progress with him in the past two years, and I think my work is pretty much almost done there.”

“I’m so happy to hear that.” Miranda traced Andy’s jaw with the back of her fingers. “I’m very proud of you.”

Andy glowed from the inside out at those words. “Thanks,” she whispered, and placed a quick kiss on Miranda’s twitching lips. “So, what’s for lunch?”

They ate in comfortable companionship, the conversation easily flowing between them.

“How’s the assistant turning out?” Miranda inquired, taking a bite of chicken.

“She’s great! She’d been a huge help so far. Even though sometimes I get the feeling she’s a bit… I don’t know, exactly. Sour? But she does the job well, and understands the importance of being discreet about the patients and everything.”

“That’s good. I’m glad you don’t have to run this whole thing by yourself anymore.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, really. It would have made life a lot easier.”

“Well, you’ve done it now, and that’s all that matters. That way you’ll have more time for this so-called gorgeous, fashionable woman of yours,” Miranda smirked at her, her eyes shining that ocean blue that never failed to make Andy want to drown in them.

“You bet.” Andy tittered, wanting to continue this light-hearted banter between them. “Any chance I get, I’m gonna be all over her. She’s gonna get so sick of me.”

“Oh, Andrea, I highly doubt that.” Miranda’s eyes looked at her with so much meaning in her gaze that Andy felt her breath hitch. “In fact, I don’t think it would be possible to ever tire of you.”

Oh, wow.

Andy couldn’t help the smile that threatened to break her cheeks with its intensity. “Miranda Priestly, you are such a romantic.”

“Nonsense.” Miranda huffed, but her expression was alight with barely hidden delight.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Your secret’s safe with me.”

Miranda tilted her head in that cute way of hers as she contemplated the woman sitting across from her. “Yes, I suppose a great deal of my secrets are safe with you, aren’t they?”

Suddenly, the easy tone of the conversation turned to something more serious. Andy swallowed her rice, and carefully considered her next words.

“Do you regret telling me any of them?” 

She kind of dreaded the answer. Miranda was not quick to trust and Andy knew the amount of effort she had made in order to open up in a way she’d never done before. Sometimes, Andy couldn’t help but wonder if a part of Miranda resented having to make herself so vulnerable; to trust Andy with things she had never shared with another person. Andy could understand it, because she knew it was a normal part of the psyche of people who had past emotional trauma and such deep-rooted trust issues, but a big part of her hoped that Miranda didn’t regret any of it.

“No,” Miranda revealed, and reached forward to take Andy’s hand in hers. Andy felt her anxiety evaporate when she saw the honesty in sapphire eyes. “I don’t.”

Andy could tell it was true. Even though Miranda had struggled at first to tear down her walls one brick at a time in order to let Andrea in and see all of her- both the good and the bad- it had been worth it. The way they started helped in that matter, because from the first moment they met, Miranda had actively chosen to tell Andrea things she would have never thought she’d discuss with anyone. 

It had been humiliating and arduous in the beginning, but once they had developed their friendship it became slightly easier, and easier still when they finally confessed their feelings to one another. After that, opening up to Andrea became painless, and something Miranda wanted to do. Because she knew that in order for them to work, she would have to move on from her past grievances and trust Andrea with everything she had. And there was nothing she wanted more than to be with Andrea for a very, very long time.

Andrea beamed at her, her almond eyes filled with so much love and warmth that Miranda felt herself melt.

“I’m glad,” she answered, and squeezed Miranda’s hand gently.

When they’d finished eating, Andy cleared up their plates while Miranda tossed the empty containers in the bin. They kissed softly as they stood by the door, not wanting their time together to be over just yet.

“Will you come over tonight? I should be finished at the office by nine at the latest. I promised the girls we would watch Moana.”

“I’d love to,” Andy said, smiling. “I do love Disney films, especially the ones with a strong female lead who don’t need no man.”

Miranda chuckled. She had heard quite a lot about the shared enthusiasm between her daughters and Andrea regarding Disney movies, and even though she would never admit it out loud, she found it an endearing quality in her lover. Especially when she broke out into song and the twins joined her for a delightfully out-of-tune rendition of some Disney classics.

“Well, then, I’ll see you tonight.” Miranda kissed her one last time, then stepped back and donned her coat.

They both made their way to the reception area, Andrea following close behind her. She stepped forward to open the door for Miranda, and Miranda turned to her with an affectionate smile at the gesture.

“Thanks again for lunch,” Andy said, leaning against the door with that beautiful smile on her face that only Miranda was lucky enough to receive.

“Any time, Andrea.” Miranda offered her own version of a tender smile, the one reserved only for Andrea. “See you tonight.”

With that, she swept down the hall, feeling much more invigorated than when she’d arrived. More alive. That was the Andrea Effect, after all. 



.oOo.



The next morning, Miranda woke up and stretched languidly. She let out a contented sigh, feeling well rested after allowing herself to sleep in. Granted, Andrea had to talk her into it, insisting that Miranda deserved to get some proper rest, and that she had all weekend to catch up on work. It hadn’t taken much convincing, truth be told.

After working for seven hours relentlessly the previous day after her lunch with Andrea, Miranda had been almost too tired to function. Her mind was scattered, and she’d spent ten minutes going over the same paragraph, so she’d left the office promptly at eight. 

In her previous life, when Miranda didn’t have Andrea, she probably would have gone home and tried to work some more after having dinner, despite her exhaustion. Being a Friday night, she certainly wouldn’t have spent hours cooped up on the sofa with her girls watching a Disney movie, listening with a contented heart as the three most precious people in her life sang their hearts out to How Far I’ll Go. She wouldn’t have fought to stay awake until the end of the film, just to watch Andrea’s reaction to her favourite Disney scene. 

Granted, the shot of Moana walking through the parted sea and confronting Te Fiti with gentleness was a rather striking scene, if Miranda said so herself. Perhaps because, in some strange way, she identified with Te Fiti, all pent up rage and fierce bitterness in the wake of a man stealing an important part of herself. But then Andrea had come along and brought back her heart with a tenderness and warmth unique to the brunette alone.

God, she really was tired if she was comparing her life to a children’s movie.

Not long after that, the film had ended, and Miranda had sent her daughters to bed with promises of waffles for breakfast. Andrea, seeing just how tired Miranda was, had dragged her up to their room, gently taking off her makeup and helping her get undressed before tucking her into bed and kissing her goodnight.

Miranda had slept soundly, and woke up to the sounds of birds chirping in her garden just below the window. She turned to her right, and gazed at a slumbering Andrea for several peaceful moments. It was always a sight to behold. Wild brown hair sprawled across the pillow, arms akimbo in a position Miranda couldn’t quite believe was actually comfortable, chest rising and falling with every breath she took, face smooth and relaxed under the morning light.

With a small smile, Miranda rolled closer to Andrea, placing kisses across a naked shoulder, slowly making her way to the elegant slope of her neck. Fingers caressed the smooth skin of Andrea’s side, tracing her ribs and following the swell of a breast.

“Mm,” Andrea hummed as she slowly came into wakefulness. She stirred under Miranda’s ministrations, languidly stretching her limbs. “M’randa?”

“Good morning, Sunrise.”

She watched as Andrea’s full lips stretched into a wide smile. Eyes the colour of coffee blinked open and immediately found hers.

“It certainly is,” Andrea answered, her voice thick with sleep. She rubbed the sleepiness from her eyes and then pulled Miranda closer still. “How’d you sleep?”

“Like a baby, actually.” Miranda smiled. “Apparently Disney and cuddles are a good remedy for insomnia.”

“I can think of a few more remedies,” Andrea said suggestively, her deep voice and sensual smirk stirring something deep and warm in Miranda’s lower abdomen.

“Oh?” She raised her eyebrow innocently. “Care to share?”

Andrea chuckled and leaned down to lavish Miranda’s neck with luscious kisses. “I can do more than that.” A lick across her collarbone. “I can show you with a decidedly... hands-on approach.”

“Hm, that does sound tempting,” Miranda conceded, moaning when Andrea’s mouth descended to lavish attention on her chest. “I suppose I can allow--”

The shrill ringing of a phone cut through the air, and Miranda growled in frustration. She had half a mind to ignore it, and pressed her body wantonly against Andrea’s with the intention of doing just that.

“I think you should get that, love. It sounds like your work phone,” Andrea said, running her fingers reassuringly through her hair.

“No rest for the wicked, is there?” Miranda snarled, grunting as she sat up and reached for her phone, vibrating incessantly atop her bedside table. “What?” She snapped as soon as she took the call.

Andy watched her patiently as Miranda listened to whoever had dared to call Miranda at eight a.m. on a Saturday, but immediately grew concerned when Miranda became very still, and the colour drained from her face.

“They what?” She rasped, her voice weak, eyes wide.

Andy immediately sat up beside her, brows furrowed as Miranda’s panicked expression became more and more petrified.

“How--This is--How did this happen, Leslie?”

A terrible feeling settled in the pit of Andy’s stomach. Leslie was Miranda’s PR representative, and Andy knew for a fact that anything Leslie had to call Miranda about at this time on a Saturday was to deliver bad news. She reached up to carefully place her hand on Miranda’s shoulder, but dropped it when Miranda turned enraged eyes to her. Andy had never seen her look like this before - a fierce fury clouding her face, a terrible storm raging in her dark eyes. It made Andy’s heart freeze in fear and dread,

“I cannot discuss this right now. Brief me in an hour. No, I do not care, Leslie, just do. Your. Job.” Miranda snapped her phone shut, and put it down with trembling hands.

“Miranda?” Andy dared asked, her voice muted with worry.

Miranda took a deep breath that did nothing to calm her panic. Her heart felt like a lead weight, tearing apart her chest with its racing pulse. Her body felt cold and hot all at once. With stricken eyes full of terror, she turned to an anxious Andrea.

“We have been outed.”

Chapter Text

“W-What?” Andy heard her voice tremble. Cold icicles cut through her chest.

“We have been outed,” Miranda drawled out slowly, as if explaining it to an incompetent child.

“But, um - How did--”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

A thick silence filled the room as they both tried to process what they’d just learned. Miranda’s body was rigid and unforgiving, the expression on her face so tense that Andy felt her gut sink with dread.

“So, uh, what do we do now?” She asked tentatively, and swallowed thickly when Miranda let out a sharp breath.

“First, I need coffee.” She rolled out of bed and stalked into her walk-in closet. “Then we see exactly what those vultures in the press know.”

“Oh, yeah, okay--”

Whatever she had meant to say next, it fell of deaf ears as Miranda shut the closet door loudly enough to make Andy jump. She sat there, frozen on their bed, wide eyes looking at the shut door in shock. Miranda always changed in her closet, but she’d never shut Andy out like that before. Something in her chest twisted unpleasantly, and she shook herself before she descended into full-blown anxiety.

Andy sprung out of bed, trying to ignore how weak her legs felt. She haphazardly pulled on jeans and a t-shirt from the clothes drawer she kept in their bedroom. With her mind racing, she forced herself to go into the bathroom to brush her hair and wash her face. The cold water helped her to regain some form of composure. 

It’s okay. Everything’s gonna be fine. We’re okay.

She repeated this mantra in her mind over and over again as she made her way down to the kitchen to brew a pot of Miranda’s favourite coffee, figuring she might as well try to do something to help Miranda lose that furious, terrible look on her face.

As she stirred the coffee, she couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by all the complications they would face from being outed against their will. The anxiety she had been valiantly trying to fight came back full force, taking her breath and making her heart pound mercilessly against her ribs.

When Miranda finally entered the kitchen, Andy almost did a double take. She was dressed to the nines in battle regalia. Clear cut black trousers, a high collared dark silver blouse underneath a severe black jacket with sharp silver embroidery, and impossibly high heels that gave her about four inches on Andy. She was the definition of intimidating, and in any other occasion Andy would have loved the look. Given the circumstances, however, Andy could only think that Miranda had dressed in armour, and she couldn’t help but feel that she may end up being a casualty of war.

“Coffee?” Miranda asked, her voice clipped and revealing nothing of what she was thinking. Her face was stone cold, barely glancing at Andy as she made a beeline for the steaming mug on the kitchen island. Andy sipped her own coffee and watched Miranda down hers in practically three gulps. When she finished, she slammed the cup down harder than necessary, and Andy winced.

“Right. Let’s assess the damage, shall we?” Miranda asked, but Andy knew it wasn’t a question. She simply inched closer as Miranda snapped open The Post. The moment their eyes landed on page six, Andy gasped.

 

The Ice Queen’s sordid affair with a woman half her age!

Confidential sources tell us that Miranda Priestly, Dragon Lady and notorious Ice Queen (or should we say Ice Queer ?) has robbed a woman twenty years younger than her from the cradle! We have a rather incriminating photo to prove it, shot by the same reliable source that brings this juicy story to our attentive ears. And what a shock! Has the infamous Bitch in Heels been a closet-case all this time? It certainly would explain a few things, wouldn’t it? We can’t help but feel sorry for the young woman. Andy Sachs, if you’re reading this, we warn you now: play with fire and you'll get burned; you tarry with a dragon and you get devoured. Priestly has a body count these days, and we do mean that literally! Just look how those fallen heroes ended up!

Our faithful reporters have done some digging on the elusive Andy Sachs, and boy is that girl a treasure chest! She has a PhD in psychology, which we must admit, baffled us a great deal. Maybe she’s working on La Priestly? New York and the rest of America would be very grateful if Miss Sachs managed to melt some of that ice off and make her human (it’s a stretch, we know, but miracles can happen, right?). Or perhaps this is just a midlife crisis for the Fashion Dictator? An ego-boost after being divorced yet again, another toy to play with to distract from the drought of middle age? That would certainly explain a great deal. Whatever the case, we hope a good lay will bring the Dragon down a notch or two.

We aren’t sure where La Priestly lies on the lesbian scale, but wide-eyed Sachs is not as innocent as she appears. We have many a comment confirming that she is in fact bisexual! She has left a trail of paramours left and right throughout her young life, so who’s to say? Maybe she will do the same now. After all, we all know what the Dragon is like, don’t we? With a string of ex-husbands in her wake, who’s to say that this little lamb isn’t headed straight to the abattoir? Stephen Tomilson, Mr Priestly No. 2, responded to our plight for a comment. For those living under a rock, Tomilson is currently getting divorced from the “cold, frigid bitch” he married three years ago (his words, not ours).

 

“It figures that she would flaunt some bimbo half her age to try and throw it in my face that I wasn’t able to keep her happy. Maybe if she’d been easier to live with, I wouldn’t have had to divorce her at all.”

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. This scandalous affair is certainly a wonder to us, and we can’t help but send thoughts and prayers to La Priestly’s daughters, who are no doubt suffering a great deal from their mother’s sordid affair. More to come on this story soon! Our reporters are on the job of getting more details, so stay tuned!

 

Andy could hardly draw breath. She was horrified by the article, feeling like it had torn her down and stripped her bare for the world to see. And the things it had said about Miranda! Dear God. How could people be so cruel? So vicious? Everything in that article felt like a blow to Andy’s solar plexus. She had never felt this enraged, this vulnerable in her life. A trail of paramours? Reducing Andy to being Miranda’s mindless new toy to play with? “Cold, frigid bitch”?! 

The ire that consumed Andy felt like it might choke her, and she trembled with barely restrained rage. If she had not felt this way, she would have perhaps appreciated the photo that served as proof to all of this. Miranda was about to leave Andy’s therapy studio, the door open as Andy gallantly leaned her hand against it. She was looking up at Miranda with brown eyes full of warmth and a brilliant smile adorning her lips. Miranda herself looked beautiful. She was in profile, but the way she was gazing at Andy, all soft eyes and twitching lips, said it all. Her hand was low on Andy’s hip; unconsciously possessive. The picture left no doubt as to what kind of relationship they had. Andy hadn’t even realised they looked at each other like this, but she supposed after having such a wonderful lunch together--

Wait.

The photo was taken from inside Andy’s studio. As if the person had been standing behind the reception desk.

Oh shit.

She turned to Miranda, her hammering heart making it hard to breathe. Her lover was white as a sheet, every inch of her body tense and rigid unlike anything Andy had ever seen during their initial therapy sessions. She clutched the paper so hard that it lay crumpled in her vicious grip. Her eyes were unfocused, unseeing, jaw clenched so tightly that Andy feared for her teeth. A vein was throbbing in her neck. Oh, God

“Miranda?” Andy asked, hating how small her voice sounded. “I’m so sorry. I can’t believe Alice would do this. I can’t believe these - these assholes would write this shit. I can’t--”

“Yes, yes, Andrea, I’m certain your disbelief is all-encompassing.” Andy reeled back. Miranda had never spoken to her like this. Her voice was so terse, so flat that Andy heard alarm sirens in her mind. “I am going to wake the girls and fill them in. I’ll need more coffee after that.”

“Oh,” She said weakly. Did Miranda have to talk to her like Andy was her lowly assistant? Sure, she was upset, and probably even more outraged than Andy. The way the article had spoken about her - fuck. Andy had never read anything like it. “I mean--yeah, sure. Um, are you ok--”

Before Andy could finish her question, Miranda stalked out of the kitchen, heels pounding on the hardwood floors. With trembling hands, she set about making more coffee. It was difficult to see through the tears brimming her eyes, but she kept trying to tell herself that it would all be okay.

She almost always cried when she was scared. Sure, she was agitated and distressed, not to mention filled with a dark fury that she could hardly begin to process. But mostly she was scared. Miranda’s reaction terrified her. She didn’t know what to make of it, didn’t know what she could do to make things better, or how to get Miranda to look at her or even speak to her without her painfully solid walls erected so high. She supposed she would simply have to act as calm and composed as possible, and hope that approach would be enough to calm Miranda down enough that they could talk about this. 

Her phone rang in her pocket and she jumped at the shrill sound in the otherwise silent room. She looked at the display and was dismayed to see her mother’s ID on the screen. This could not be a worse time, and she really was not in the mood to deal with her parents right now, so she let it go to voicemail. She sighed with relief when it stopped ringing, but it was short lived. Five second later her mother was calling again. Andy squeezed her eyes shut. She supposed she’d have to deal with this sooner or later. Maybe getting it out of the way would be one less thing to worry about. She took the call.

“Hey, mom.”

“Andrea!” She winced at her mother’s use of her full name, her voice shrill and unforgiving. “When were you going to tell us?!”

“Well, you know, I was--”

“Miranda Priestly? Andy, what on earth are you thinking?”

Anger shot through her. The dismay and disgust in her mother’s voice was the last straw to Andy’s thread-bare composure.

“Yes, mom, Miranda Priestly. We’ve been together for several months now, and she makes me happy.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Andrea!"

“Your mother’s right,” her father suddenly spoke up. Andy pinched her nose. “That woman is--is--”

“She’s amazing. She’s beautiful and talented and she loves me--”

“She has seduced you--”

“--she’s the most wonderful person I know--”

“--manipulated you!”

“And I love her, okay?!”

There was a loaded silence from the other line, and Andy could hear her pulse thumping in her ears. She tried to take deep, calming breaths, but she was so furious. Was the entire world against them? Even her own parents?

“How do you know she’s not just using you?” Her dad asked, and his voice sounded sincere in his concern. “The article suggested--”

“The article also suggested that I sleep around and leave a trail of broken hearts in my wake, dad. It doesn’t make any of it true.”

“Yes, but you’re you, Andy. She's Miranda Priestly. Even we know who she is and what people say about her. We know she’s vicious and cold and--”

“I’m gonna stop you right there, mom,” Andy snapped. She was at the end of her rope. “It’s like this: the press doesn’t know shit about what Miranda’s really like. They’re fucking liars and you shouldn’t believe anything they say. The facts are: Miranda and I are together, we love each other, and even though it sucks that we’ve just been outed against our will, we’ll work things out.

“I don’t need this right now from you. If you can’t trust me to make my own choices, then that’s on you, not me. I have to go now, because I have much more important things going on that need my attention.” Andy knew she was being harsh, but damn it, she was on the brink of a meltdown and her parents had decided to push her to the edge. “I love you, but please don’t call me again if you’re just going to berate me for being in love. Oh,” she added as an afterthought, her voice full of anger. “And if you ever insult Miranda again, I will stop talking to you altogether. Goodbye.”

She hung up, heart racing and stomach churning so viciously she felt nauseous. She’d never spoken to her parents like that before. She’d never been through any of this before. 

As she set the phone down on the kitchen island, she heard two pairs of feet quickly making their way down the hall towards her, the sound of sharp heels clacking after them. Andy took a deep breath, and turned just in time to see the twins come through the doorway and regard her with matching frowns of concern. Andy was sure she looked terrible right now. 

“Hey,” she said weakly.

The girls came forward then, arms outstretched, and Andy dropped to her knees to hug them close to her. She let out a shaky sigh against silky red hair, and closed her eyes. This simple comfort felt so good. Cassidy patted her shoulder soothingly, and neither of the girls spoke, but Andy felt a part of herself calm down.

Moments later, she blinked her eyes open and found Miranda standing in the doorway, frozen like a statue, looking at the three of them with an unreadable expression. Andy offered her an encouraging smile, but Miranda’s stoney face didn’t change in the slightest. Her heart dropped to her knees, and that crippling fear was back.

The phone in Miranda’s hand started ringing, and she broke their eye contact to scowl down at it before bringing it up to her ear.

“Richard,” she answered, her impassive gaze focusing on Andy once again. The twins let go of her in order to turn and look at their mother. Miranda frowned as she listened to the person on the phone, expression turning thunderous. “He’s claiming what?” Another moment of tense silence as Miranda’s nostrils flared. “That is absurd. Surely there are no legal grounds for his claims.” Miranda spun on her heels, stalking down the hallway and out of sight, although her voice carried enough for Andy to understand what the conversation was about. “We filed for divorce more than six months ago. We were ready to settle out of court. Surely there is something you can do. This is what I pay you for, Richard…”

Andy let out a shaky breath and ran a trembling hand through her hair.

“Don’t worry,” Cassidy said, looking at Andy earnestly. “She’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine.”

It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself, but Andy appreciated the effort anyways. She realised how hard it must be for the twins to go through this, what they will have to endure. Pulling them in for another hug, she ran her hands comfortingly through their hair.

“I know, baby. Everything’s going to be okay.”



.oOo.



It was a long, excruciating hour and a half for Andy after that. She had to call and text all her patients, explaining the situation despite hardly understanding it herself. She’d lost count of how many times she’d had to explain herself to patients who were less than understanding about the circumstances.

“I know it’s an inconvenience, I’m really sorry about this. I just think it’s better to have our scheduled appointments via phone or video call. I don’t want to risk the press finding out where the studio is. If they find it, they will know everyone who comes to me for therapy, and the last thing I want is to compromise the identities of my confidential patients.”

She was exhausted, but at least she’d gotten through it. She was glad that it was the weekend, at least, so she had two days to work out how to go about doing her sessions away from the studio. She lounged on the sofa in the den for a moment longer. She wasn’t sure where Miranda was exactly. She had locked herself away upstairs somewhere, and had not even come down for breakfast. Andy had taken it upon herself to make waffles for her and the girls, before Andy had to sort out her work. She had received calls from Doug and Lily, but had ignored them in order to get the necessary calls done and over with. Now that she was done, she didn’t really want to talk to anyone.

She was still worried about Miranda. They hadn’t spoken about their thoughts or feelings regarding the article, although Miranda’s expression belied her rage and humiliation clearly enough. But Andy wanted to talk to Miranda about all of this, to give her reassurance that those idiots couldn’t be further from the truth. She wanted Miranda to know that Andy despised them, that she would tear them all to pieces with her bare hands if given the chance.

And, yes, a part of her also wanted Miranda to reassure her, too. Hell, Andy had never been in the press before. She’d never had her private life made public in such a way, never been outed like this before, her sexuality plastered on a newspaper for all to read. She didn’t really know how to process it, or what to expect life to be like now that those vultures felt entitled to her privacy. But most of all, she wanted Miranda to stop being so closed off, because it was really unsettling, and Andy was really starting to fear the effect this would have on their relationship if Miranda shut her out indefinitely.

One thing was for certain - nothing good would come from sitting here, pouting and dwelling and driving herself crazy. Andy pushed herself up with a groan, and climbed the steps wearily, searching for Miranda. She passed by the small family room, and found Cassidy and Caroline cuddled on the sofa watching TV. Deciding to make a quick detour, she walked towards the girls and kissed them both on their forehead, ruffling their hair and giving what she hoped was a comforting smile. They grinned up at her, and Andy knew that no words were needed. 

She continued down the hall, looking into every room until she came across the closed door of Miranda’s study. Andy felt a shock of anxiety shoot through her, and she tried to brush it off as best as she could before raising her hand and knocking gently on the wood.

After a moment of silence, Miranda’s voice cut through it with a sharp “Come in.”

Andy opened the door and tentatively stepped inside. Miranda was on the love seat texting furiously on her phone, her laptop open in front of her and a stack of papers sprawled on the coffee table.

“Hey,” Andy said softly, and Miranda’s head snapped up to look at her briefly before focusing once more on her texting. Andy tried really hard not to be put off by this and made her way further into the room until she sat next to Miranda. “How’s it going?”

Without looking up, Miranda responded with a matter-of-fact voice that lacked all emotion. “I have spent the past two hours on the phone with my lawyers, my ex-husband - the first one - and the members of the board of Elias Clarke. Stephen wants to take me to court for adultery and make me pay him compensation, even though he’s the one who cheated in the first place. I think his anger is clouding his judgement. And Greg is demanding to take the girls until the press settles down with all of this, which is ridiculous, of course. And Irv is twisting this for his benefit, and has convinced the board members to review how this will all affect Runway, and whether I’m still the best option for Editor in Chief. So that’s how it’s going.”

“Oh,” Andy breathed. She felt awful for Miranda. No wonder she had locked herself away to deal with all this chaos. Everyone was attacking her from all sides. “Jesus, Miranda, I’m so sorry.”

“I expected all of this to happen the moment the press found out, so it is really no surprise to me,” she stated, but her face was stone cold, as if the blank expression was frozen on her face. “It’s why I had intended to keep it quiet until after the divorce is finalised.”

Andy didn’t know what to say to that. Without any better ideas of how to offer comfort, she placed her hand on Miranda’s shoulder, rubbing her thumb over her collarbone. Miranda’s typing stopped as she became very still at the gesture, her body becoming even more impossibly tense. Andy swallowed, and removed her hand.

“Sorry,” she whispered. “Um, do you have a moment to talk?”

Miranda reached up to rub her forehead. “I’m in between calls at the moment, so I suppose now is the only time I will have available until this is all over.”

Andy shuffled closer.

“Okay, um, well I just wanted to see how you’re doing. You know, how you’re feeling. I mean, I know it sounds stupid to ask. The things they wrote, they were so awful, so cruel--

“You will need to get used to such things if we are to continue this.” Miranda kept her eyes fixed on her phone, even though she had spotted typing. Something in Miranda’s tone made Andy’s stomach curl. “Your life will not be yours anymore. They will come back for more, again and again and even if you don’t give them anything, they will make things up, spread lies about you. You’d have to learn to not let their words affect you. They are only weapons if you let yourself be wounded by them.”

“Why are you talking about it like I might walk away?” Andy asked, dismayed. Miranda’s silence was answer enough. “That’s it? You think I’m going to leave you?”

How could Miranda think something like that of her? After everything Andy had done to give Miranda as much love and stability as she could. It wasn’t fair. None of this was. Love, to have it and know it as such, should be a celebration, not a condemnation. They should have the liberty to live in happiness without people demeaning their worth or verbally attacking them. She could understand the cruelty of people, could wrap her mind around how vicious the press could be, but for Miranda to believe Andy was capable of leaving her over something like this? Unthinkable.

“I cannot talk about this right now, Andrea.” 

“Miranda--”

“Andrea, please.” Miranda’s eyes closed, and she reached up to rub her forehead where a throbbing headache threatened to split her skull open. “Not now.”

Andy took a deep breath. She tried to understand her lover’s position in this moment, tried to suppress her indignation and her anger. It was probably not the best time to speak about this, she supposed. Miranda had a million things to worry about, she was fighting tooth and nail against forces that were attacking her from all sides. Andy conceded that retreat was her safest bet, if only to allow Miranda the time she needed to battle through everything without Andy burdening her even more. But something else that Miranda had said bothered her, and she couldn’t let it go.

“So, with the press... We can’t do anything to fight back? We let them out us, insult us, and we just sit back and take it because that’s just the way it is?”

“That’s not what I said.” Miranda finally looked at her, expression cold and distant. “I know everything they said is horrible and untrue, and you don’t deserve any of it. There will be repercussions for this, Andrea, do not be mistaken. I am going to make them pay.”

“Okay,” Andy conceded. “Okay.”

There was a moment of silence between them as she gazed at Miranda. The resigned expression on her worn out face, bleary blue eyes filled with exhaustion, her posture uncharacteristically defeated. She’d never seen Miranda like this before, and she felt like her chest was being torn apart into a thousand strips.

“Hey,” she said in a quiet, soothing voice. “Look at me.” Miranda tilted her face towards her, dark, anxious eyes searching Andy’s. “Don’t push me away. Don't shut me out. Please. You promised me you wouldn’t do that again. I don’t think I could bear it right now. I love you too much, Miranda.”

Miranda hesitated. Andy watched with a racing pulse, and felt like she could weep when she saw Miranda's tension begin seeping out of her as she drew herself closer to Andy. Her expression slowly softened the same way ice melts, beautiful and entrancing. Finally, Andy thought with such sharp relief she felt like she would really start crying. Finally Miranda looked more like herself again instead of a cold ice sculpture full of burning fury.

“I love you,” Andy repeated, and lifted her hand to Miranda’s cheek, touching her skin tenderly. “I’m in love with you. Nothing’s going to change that. I know you need your space, and you need time to figure this all out, so I’m going to go, but I want you to know that I’m not leaving you. Because I love you. Okay?"

They held each other’s gaze for a moment, Miranda revelling in the words she’d desperately needed to hear. She swallowed past the tight knot in her throat, releasing a shaky breath. Miranda nodded, her forelock sliding down to cover her eyebrow.

Andy smiled, and reached up to gently brush it away. Leaning ever closer, she kissed Miranda’s lips softly, reassuringly, until Miranda kissed her back with just as much warmth. When they pulled away, Miranda’s face had changed completely. She looked at Andy as if she was the most magnificent person she’d ever seen.

“I love you too,” she whispered, and grasped Andy’s hand.

Andy sighed contentedly. She felt a thousand times better, despite the unexpected turn of events, despite the new turmoil in their lives. She felt reassured, and the terror she had felt earlier regarding Miranda’s behaviour dissipated until all she felt was love for the woman beside her.

“I should go.” She smiled, trying to mask the forlorn tone in her voice. “But call me, okay? Keep me updated with everything, and I’m here for whatever you need or whenever you feel up to talking about it. I’ll wait for however long you need me to. Just… Don’t make me wait too long, okay? I love you.” Miranda nodded again, but Andy understood everything she was saying with that one simple gesture. “Bye, beautiful.”

She dropped one last kiss on Miranda’s forehead before pushing herself off the love seat. She gave Miranda’s hand a gentle squeeze, and then let go. As she left the room, she felt Miranda’s gaze on her. She looked back at her lover one last time, offered her a comforting smile, and closed the door.

Making her way down the stairs, she took a deep, settling breath. Everything would be okay. They would get through this, together. 

As she pulled on her coat in the foyer, she spotted movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned around to find Cassidy and Caroline at the top of the stairs, looking at her with trepidation and they made their way to Andy.

“Are you going?” Cassidy asked, her voice wavering with barely hidden panic.

“Only for a few days while your mom does all she needs to.” Andy smiled reassuringly. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Promise?” Caroline looked at her with such a fearful expression that Andy felt it like a blow to her chest.

“Pinky promise.” She grinned, remembering the first promise she’d ever made them when they accepted her into their little family unit. Satisfied, the girls rushed forward and hugged her in a vice-like grip, their lanky arms around her middle squeezing affectionately.

“Don’t go out the front,” Cassidy warned as she pulled away. 

“Paparazzi's camped out there,” Caroline explained, letting Andy go. “Go out the garden and through the back gate.”

Andy nodded, smiling at the precious faces looking up at her. “Thank you, girls. I love you, okay?” 

They all grinned at that.

“We love you too,” they answered in tandem. 

“See you guys later,” she said, and started making her way towards the kitchen. Suddenly, she stopped, and gave them a mischievous smile over her shoulder. “Oh! By the way, I think I saw water balloons under the bathroom sink on the second floor.”

The girls blinked at her, and looked at each other in that way they had for silently communicating. Before they could answer, Andy marched across the kitchen and out into the garden until she found herself in the back, empty alleyway. As she made her way towards the main street, she took a fortifying breath, and girded her loins for the weeks to come.

Chapter Text

Nothing could have prepared Andy for the week ahead. 

The press hounded Miranda, wrote horrible, vile things about her, and made her job even more impossible than it already was. The twins had been forced to take days off school due to the amount of reporters waiting to pounce on them at Dalton. And worst of all, Andy could do nothing about any of it. She had been forced to stay at her apartment for fear of the press finding out where she lived. She knew it was only a matter of time before they found her, but she was going to do her damnest to stay out of their sight for as long as possible. It was a miracle they hadn’t found her and chased her down after leaving Miranda’s house that fateful Saturday morning. 

But, God, how could these- these monsters be so cruel? The fact that Miranda had found the author of that horrible article did nothing to quench Andy’s thirst for revenge, even though Miranda’s lawyers had really torn the horrid little man to pieces. According to Miranda’s text, he would be lucky if he got another job anywhere in the country.

The worst part was that Miranda had barely spoken to her since they parted more than four days ago. She had only sent Andy scattered text messages, keeping Andy up to date on anything important, as she’d promised she would. The only topic she never mentioned was matters regarding her job, so Andy had no choice but to hope for the best and try to push her worry away. There were some good news, however. Andy was relieved that Stephen’s demands fell on deaf ears thanks to Miranda’s incriminating evidence of his adultery, (“Honestly, who does he think he is? Some sort of monogamous saint of fidelity?”). She had also subtly questioned Andy on her complicity with Caroline and Cassidy’s vengeful antics against the paparazzi camped outside their home (“My girls somehow found the hidden water balloons. I wonder who could have possibly tipped them off?”). Andy had smiled for the entire day after receiving that particular message.

The girls had also texted Andy, more than their mother. Andy had particularly enjoyed a video of them throwing water balloons filled with flour, olive oil, and raw eggs out the second floor window. The mischievous grins on the girls’ faces and the shrieks and havoc that ensued had Andy laughing for longer than she was willing to admit.

According to Cassidy and Caroline’s texts, they had called their father and explained to him that they were quite happy staying with their mother, and that they weren’t kids anymore so they had a right to make their own decisions. Then they had made sure to support Miranda as much as they could, and gave her space when she needed it. Andy felt like a proud parent.

Apart from her concerns about Miranda and the girls, Andy had her own issues to deal with, of course. Her parents still hadn’t reached out to her since their ill-fated phone call in Miranda’s kitchen, thank God. She was not in the right state of mind to deal with yet another guilt-trip and dressing-down from her parents as if she were a misbehaving child.

She had fired Alice on Saturday afternoon, and did not hold back on her thoughts about Alice’s betrayal. In her moment of pent-up rage and frustration, she had called her a money-hungry snake with the morals and compassion of Machiavelli. Alice had simply laughed at her, claimed that she hadn’t liked “working at that horrible sex clinic anyways”, and had hung up before Andy could get another word in. So that was that. Andy tried to move past her anger, but the guilt was harder to process. She felt like this whole mess was all her fault for hiring that scheming back-stabber in the first place.

Her main issue was the many pissed-off patients that made it rather difficult to work with them through video calls. A lot of them had been understanding, even though they had all given her strange looks through their computer cameras. Even in pixelated images, Andy could see their disbelief and barely repressed judgement. Some of them had even asked outright about her relationship with Miranda, fishing for information and details. Only after reminding them that such behaviour was unacceptable as per their signed contract did they relent and leave her private life as that - private. To make matters worse, many of her patients about Skype, about Andrea’s “exaggerated” demands to have sessions outside of the studio, and about the fact that it wasn’t “the same” to have their sessions in this new way, regardless of how temporary they were.

Overall, she felt irritated and bitter all the time, her indignation and resentment making it difficult to focus on her work. She was constantly thinking about Miranda and the girls, worried about them and Andy’s future with them. The hopeful mantra she had chanted to herself on Saturday had been repeated countless times since then.

“Everything’s going to be okay. We’re okay.”

On Wednesday evening, Doug and Lily showed up at her apartment unannounced. They took one look at her disheveled state and immediately set about doing some damage control. Andy had ranted on and on about everything in her mind and all that had happened while her friends patiently listened and straightened out her apartment. They helped clean her stacked-up dishes, sorted out her rumpled living room, and put her dirty clothes from her overflowing laundry basket in the washing machine.

An hour later, her apartment was much cleaner, and Andy felt a lot better. When the three of them finally collapsed on the sofa with take-out pizza and plenty of beer, Andy let out a sigh that carried the weight of the world.

“I’m not gonna lie, Andy bear, this is a hell of a lot.” Doug ran his fingers through his short hair. “I read the article and holy shit. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you guys, but I know one thing.” He took her hand, and looked at her with so much sincerity that Andy knew he was completely serious. “That photo said a lot. I’ve never seen you look at anyone that way, and Miranda- God! She looked like a completely different person. A love like that can get through something like this. I’m sure it’s all going to work out in the end.”

Lily nodded in agreement, shuffling closer to Andy so she could grasp her other hand in comfort and support. After the longest five days of her life, Andy finally felt her anxiety calm and relaxed back into the cushions. The tension she had been carrying around melted at her friend’s confident words. She’d desperately needed to hear them, because her own mantra could only do so much to dissuade her fears.

“Thanks, Dougie,” she said, and leaned against his shoulder. She squeezed both their hands. “And thank you both for today. I didn’t even realise how badly I was coping with all of this until you guys sorted me out. I can’t believe how many dishes I let pile up, and I have a freaking dishwasher!”

Lily chuckled. “It happens to the best of us. Now, do you want to hear some good old gossip?”

Doug groaned in dismay, and Andy’s curiosity was immediately peaked.

“Do I ever!”

“Lily--”

“Guess who went out last weekend and hooked up with his dashing Colombian ex?”

Andy gasped, and turned to look at Doug, who had covered his face with his hands.

“No way!” She exclaimed. “Rodrigo?”

“Oh, yes!” Lily tittered, barely stifling a laugh. “I probably wouldn’t know about it myself, except I was at the club where it happened. And just to let you know, he’s just as hot as he was two years ago.”

“Come on, Lils.” Doug rolled his eyes, but his lips were twitching.

“Oh my God!” Andy squealed, and slapped his arm. “Tell me everything! Rodrigo was always a favourite of mine.”

“Pretty sure he was everyone’s favourite,” Lily snickered. “Remember when he made us buñuelos?”

Andy moaned just at the memory of the delicious dessert. “And his empanadas were to die for.”

“Tell us Dougie, will we get any more of Rodrigo’s delicious cooking?” Lily asked, looking at him pointedly.

There was a silence as Andy and Lily stared at Doug in anticipation, and he warily looked back at them before slumping in defeat.

“We’re going out to dinner this weekend,” he admitted.

Andy screeched while Lily hollered in glee, and they toasted each other with their bears while Doug regarded them with a fond smile. Andy took a large gulp of her drink, feeling lighter than she had all week.



.oOo.



This week had been hell and it was only Wednesday.

Miranda was being attacked from all sides. She was vulnerable right now; far too many people were circling around her like vultures ready to swoop in for a piece of her. Even though she knew she needed to be at the top of her game, now more than ever, she found herself continuously distracted by thoughts of Andrea. 

It had been harder than she could have ever imagined to let her go on Saturday and keep her distance since. She knew they both needed space to sort things out. She also wanted to give Andrea time to really think things through - whether she wanted to stay despite how chaotic her life would become, how her personal life would be made public, splattered on the pages of trashy magazines for anyone to judge. Part of her was bracing herself for the worse, the inevitable moment when Andrea would come to her senses and leave. She hated to admit it, but that article had hit certain sore spots. Which was utterly ridiculous, because the press had never gotten into her head like this until now. 

Her daughters had been wonderful. It had actually surprised Miranda how supportive they had been. During her divorces and other media whirlwinds, they had often given her space and avoided the topic in case it would unleash her anger. In this case, however, they gave her comforting hugs at seemingly random times, and offered soothing, hopeful words that were like a balm to Miranda despite her skepticism. She’d been especially grateful to her girls during the most challenging days, which was basically all of them.

She had spent most of Saturday talking to Leslie and Sunday on the phone to her lawyers. She’d found the so-called journalist behind that atrocious article, and had proceeded to tear him apart bit by bit. She’d revelled each moment, and had blacklisted him unlike anyone else who had ever crossed her. He would not be able to get a job anywhere in New York, most of the east coast, and the majority of the country. Let it never be said that Miranda Priestly’s power - and wrath - was to be underestimated. 

On Monday morning, Miranda strode into Runway in full battle regalia. She had an emergency meeting with the CEO that would be followed by another one with all the members of the board of directors. Leslie’s words from Saturday had repeated in her mind like a broken vinyl. Sure, she hadn’t told Miranda anything she didn’t already know. It had been her plan of action all along, but it was reassuring that at least someone outside of her family and Nigel was looking out for her. Even if Miranda paid her to do so.

“Present your relationship with Andrea confidently and seriously. Don’t hide, because that gives people the idea that you are hiding something shameful. I know you didn’t want this, but just act proud to be out. And don’t let the bosses at Elias-Clarke push you around or diminish the fact that this can only increase Runway sales.” 

When Irv Ravitz had seen her that morning, he’d paled. Miranda had almost smirked, because she knew what she looked like. The press had gone crazy over it, and everyone within the Elias-Clarke building had openly stared. 

The suit was skin tight, sticking to her curves in all the right places. The high-waisted black trousers made her look taller, an effect aided by the six inch Valentino heels that put her nearly a foot taller than Irv. The matching suit jacket had nothing underneath except a lacy black camisole, and the décolletage plummeted dangerously low between her breasts. A tight choker necklace and silver hoops finished the ensemble, and she had made sure to make her eye shadow darker than normal so that the blue of her eyes would seem sharper than ever. 

All in all, she was dressed to slaughter any man that challenged her. Which is exactly what Irv had done. His beady eyes widened as she strode towards his office, and Miranda knew that he knew.

This was war.

“Irv,” she purred as she swept past him, inviting herself into his office and moving to stand near a window looking over Manhattan.

“Miranda.” She heard him clear his throat from somewhere behind her before jumping into his usual fake pleasantries. “How are you this lovely morning?”

“Let’s cut straight to the chase, shall we?” Miranda asked, and turned to fix a cold, unwavering stare on him. He all but cowered behind his desk.

“Yes, of course,” he straightened, but she could clearly see how his eyes nervously moved around the room before settling on her again.

She sauntered forward, her lazer-sharp stare never leaving him.

“Here’s what’s going to happen, Irv,” she began in a terrifyingly sweet tone. “You will talk to the board of directors and convince them that their old-fashioned, fragile fears are for naught. My private life does not affect my work. It never has and it never will. Runway will not suffer for it, and therefore it is none of their concern.”

“It is of our concern, Miranda!” He snapped. He always did get unsettled by her resolute, calm demeanour. “This will affect sales-”

“No, no,” she dismissed with a flick of her fingers before placing her palms flat on the surface of his desk, leaning forward to tower over him until he shrunk under her stare. “Runway sales will not suffer. If anything, they will rise now that my name has appeared in the interest of a whole new demographic.”

“You can’t be certain of that. You have your reputation, and--” 

“I will indulge you then, since you are so doubtful of my knowledge stemming from twenty five years of experience in this industry.” She smiled in the most unpleasant way she had in her ample repertoire, all crocodile teeth ready to viciously tear him limb from limb. “If sales stay the same or increase in the next issue, which as you know will be sent to print in a month, then you will do as follows: you will cease this little habit of yours that involves trying to cut Runway’s budget. You will stop challenging me and let me do my job without interference, and you and the other board members will stay out of my private business. Understood?”

The smile remained fixed on her face, and Irv began to shift uncomfortably despite his feeble attempts at holding his own against her.

“And if sales drop?”

“I will quit Runway.”

His eyes widened, eyebrows shooting up to his hairline as he stared at her in slack-jawed shock.

“What?”

Miranda sniffed disdainfully at his need for clarification. As if he were a child. Most of the time, he acted like one.

“You heard me. If I’m wrong - and I guarantee you, I am not - then I will leave Runway. Something you’ve wanted for the better part of a decade now, isn’t that right?”

She said this offhandedly, as if she was unbothered by all his failed coups against her. Because she wasn’t, really. They were mostly annoying and an inconvenience, because it made her job all the more difficult, but she had never regarded the man before her as anything more than a really aggravating, blood-sucking insect. He was doing a remarkable impression of one now, in fact. He was still staring at her as if she’d grown another head. Perhaps he’d had nightmares like this before - Miranda turning into a giant two-headed snake. He always did have an affinity for having an overly-dramatic imagination.

“You’re serious?” He asked, still frozen in disbelief. He must realise the certainty behind her convictions if she was willing to risk leaving Runway. He must know this was not a battle he was going to win.

“In all the years I have been at Runway, have I ever been anything less than serious?”

He seemed to think about that question for a moment, but Miranda knew it was for show. She had been called many things since taking the reins of Runway as the youngest Editor in Chief in the history of fashion, but ‘flippant’ was not one of them.

“Alright, Miranda. We have a deal,” he said at last, and reached out to shake on it.

Miranda couldn’t help curling her lips in disgust at the feel of Irv's clammy hand grasping hers in a limp handshake. However, she couldn’t help but feel victorious. No matter what issues the board members came up with to throw at her, she now had the upper hand.

That evening when she got home, exhausted but satisfied that she had taken care of one of the biggest struggles in this mess, her girls had spent their evening doing homework by her side and entertaining her with avid conversation. She had drawn as much strength and comfort as she could from them, because even though the issues with Elias-Clarke were significant, they were not the most unpleasant of them.

On Tuesday afternoon, Miranda strode into her lawyer’s office, calm and confident. She had chosen a tight charcoal pencil skirt that adorned her figure flawlessly, combined with tall silver Prada pumps and an ivory jacket that flared around her wrists. When she took the jacket off, her lawyer, Richard, groaned and rubbed his forehead while his assistant had stared at Miranda with widening eyes and a raging blush. Hiding a smirk at both reactions had been almost impossible.

As they made their way into the conference room, Miranda moved to stand by the window like she had the previous day in Irv's office. Richard, the only one in the room with her for now, had cleared his throat nervously.

“Was that really necessary, Miranda?” He asked.

Miranda hummed quietly, but did not dignify his question with an answer. 

Mere minutes later, she heard footsteps approach as three more people stepped into the room. Her lip curled in disdain, and she hadn’t even looked his way yet.

“Let’s make this quick. I have places to be,” Stephen said. As if his schedule was more important than Miranda’s. She scoffed audibly at that.

When she finally turned around, every man in the room except her lawyer stared at her with wide, shocked eyes. This time, it took a herculean effort to hide her smugness at such a perfect reaction.

Her silk blouse was decorated with bright colours and an asian-style printed design. It was a beautiful piece, but definitely… daring. The back was innocent enough, with trees and flowers and a river flowing under a bridge. On the front, however, was a much more explicit scene. On her torso were two figures, a man and a woman, engaging in sexual intercourse. At first glance, it would seem as perfectly normal, heteronormative, boring coitus. Except the woman was mostly clothed, looming behind the kneeling man, and the impressively sized penis belonged to her. The man was the one getting fucked.

Stephen choked on his coffee the moment he took in the image on her blouse, while his lawyer and the mediator gaped at her.

“Of course, Stephen,” she said in her syrupy sweet voice, not even giving him enough time to compose himself and regain control of his windpipe. “Since you are so terribly busy, let’s begin, shall we?”

His face was red and fuming by the time she sauntered over to her seat. She leaned back into its backrest like she had all the time in the world, all nonchalance and aloofness.

“So,” Stephen’s lawyer, Michael, began. “My client wishes to re-discuss the terms of the divorce due to recent… events.” He finished in a vague manner, and Miranda fought hard not to roll her eyes.

“Those events pertaining to Miranda’s newly public relationship with one Andrea Sachs?” The mediator asked, and Miranda was tempted to bite his head off. “Sorry, I just want to clarify so that it’s all clear,” he added, as if sensing imminent danger of decapitation.

“Yes,” Michael continued. “It is unfair to accuse my client of infidelity when there is a chance that Mrs Priestly started her relationship before the beginning of her separation period with my client.”

“Oh, I guarantee you that Andrea and I did not begin our relationship before Stephen and I separated,” she drawled, and sent Stephen a derisive look. “After all, I’m not one for infidelity.”

“Come off it, Miranda,” Stephen snarled. Miranda felt a deep satisfaction watching him lose his composure so easily. The blouse had really struck a nerve. Or maybe it was the knowledge that Stephen’s masculinity had been so utterly disappointing that she had renounced men altogether. 

“Stephen-” Michael tried to interrupt, but Stephen had always been too quick to anger. 

“Maybe if you’d been less like a glacier in bed, I wouldn’t have had to cheat!”

Miranda’s smirk finally came forth. This was exactly the kind of spectacle she’d expected from him. Perhaps in a different time, a different lifetime, his words would have cut right to where it hurt. Thanks to Andrea, however, she knew for certain now that she was far from cold in bed. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“My, my, Stephen,” she said softly, interrupting his tirade. “So defensive. Of course, you and I have already discussed this issue. Would you like me to share with the group just why your abilities were always so… lacking?”

His expression turned thunderous, and Miranda almost felt like laughing. He really was outdoing himself.

“My client has proof that her new relationship did not begin before the separation period,” Richard finally spoke up, interrupting Stephen before he could get his undoubtedly weak comeback. 

Miranda had taken the time to speak to Richard about what she wanted out of this meeting. He had represented her in all her previous divorces, and knew that she often handled the situation better than even he could in order to achieve her desired outcome, so he had agreed to let her handle most of this meeting and only interfere when necessary.

“Bullshit!” Stephen cursed, and Michael once again tried to calm him. 

“It’s true,” Miranda said smoothly, inspecting her fingernails in boredom. “I have clear proof that would stand in court. Your claims of my supposed infidelity would be dismissed. I, on the other hand, have an array of incriminating evidence of your multiple affairs during our marriage, and the testimonies of several women who have confirmed they would happily stand in any official court proceedings we may have.”

“You bitch! Screw you!” Stephen yelled, slamming his hand against the table as he jumped to his feet. Miranda didn’t flinch.

“Yes, yes, we’ve already established that you were inept in that department,” she retorted, and smirked at the comical, incensed expression on his reddened face. “Now, you have two options. We can either do this the easy way, and get the divorce over and done with as quickly as possible. I have no more desire to remain attached to you in any way than you do to me, I guarantee you. You could start by dropping these ridiculous claims of yours, and perhaps stop being so impossible in the process. Just something to consider.” Miranda’s smirk grew, and she relayed him with a smile much like she had given Irv, all menacing teeth and dark eyes. 

“On the other hand, if you refuse these simple terms, we can do this the hard and humiliating way. For you, that is. We can take this to court, and I can wave your dirty laundry in front of the entire courtroom, the press, and all of the New York public. They’ll know all the sordid things you’ve done, which go far beyond just having a bunch of clichéd affairs, of course.” 

Something in his face shifted then, and he paled considerably. He knew just how ruthless Miranda could be in her vengeance, how thorough she was in uncovering the skeletons hidden in people’s closets. He knew that taking the latter option would be his doom. It would be like stabbing himself in the back, only Miranda would be sitting in a fashionable armchair having a celebratory drink and wearing a sardonic smile while watching him bleed.

“So,” she elegantly and swiftly rose from her seat, voice low in that cadence that made her employees run for their lives. “What will it be?”

Stephen swallowed thickly. He still looked outraged, but he knew his manhood was in Miranda’s merciless claws. After glancing at his lawyer, he straightened his shoulders and finally made a decision.

“Alright,” he gritted out, defeated. Miranda preened. She loved to see a helpless white flag, especially from an entitled, arrogant man who thought himself unstoppable. “I’ll drop the charges.”

“Good,” she said offhandedly. She gathered her purse and her jacket. “Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have an empire to run.”

She strode out of the room, head held high and proud. Nothing tasted better than her enemies’ defeat.

Well, apart from Andrea.



.oOo.



Friday evening finally came, and Miranda paced inside her den. She had sent Andrea a message yesterday asking her to come for dinner, and she was bound to be here any minute.

It was unsettling to feel like his. She hadn’t been nervous around Andrea in many months now. She’d become so comfortable with the younger woman that it felt unnatural to feel this anxious. But she couldn’t help herself. They hadn’t seen each other - had barely even communicated - the entire week. Part of her was worried about Andrea’s wellbeing and how she’d been handling everything. But a big part of her feared what their imminent conversation would bring. Would Andrea unleash any pent-up anger and frustration that she had not expressed last time they were together? Would she blame Miranda and her lifestyle for all the hardships that had come their way? Would Andrea let her down easy and leave her for a normal life away from all the baggage that came with Miranda? 

Before she was ready, she heard Cassidy and Caroline barreling down the stairs to let Andrea enter through the back door. This was the moment of truth. This would make or break her.

Taking a deep breath, she straightened her shoulders and descended the stairs. She followed the sound of excited chatter in the kitchen, and when she came to stand in the doorway, the sight that greeted her felt like a punch in the abdomen.

Andrea was hugging the twins tightly against her, a blissful, happy expression on her face. She even had her eyes closed, revelling in the girls’ hugs.

“God, I’ve missed you guys so much,” she said, and then opened her eyes.

Miranda’s breath hitched. She had almost forgotten how beautiful Andrea was, the kind of effect those deep brown eyes had on her. And the way she’d spoken just now made Miranda’s heart clench. 

“Hey.” Andrea smiled. Such a sight for sore eyes.

“Hello,” Miranda managed to say, but felt frozen in place.

Andrea seemed to understand, because she began to walk towards Miranda, her smile unfaltering. Miranda did not know what to expect, how to act or what to say.

The moment Andrea’s arms wrapped around her, she melted. All the tension left her at once, leaving her deflated and weak in Andrea’s embrace. She pulled her closer, burying her face in the smooth neck, inhaling the scent she loved so much, basking in the feel of Andrea’s body pressed against her. This. This was exactly what she wanted - what she needed. It didn’t matter the kind of week she’d had, the amount of fighting she’d had to do, all the doubts and fears that had kept her up at night. In that moment, nothing else mattered except that Andrea was here. 

“Miranda,” Andrea breathed against her ear, as if she felt just as relieved and blissful in Miranda’s arms. “I missed you.”

A lump formed in Miranda’s throat, so thick she found it hard to swallow. No words came, so she simply held Andrea tighter, wishing she could spend endless days like this. Just the two of them wrapped in one another.

When Andrea pulled away after long moments breathing each other in, Miranda raised her hand to cup a soft cheek. She knew she had not been forthcoming enough and that she had not acted the way Andrea deserved on Saturday after they had been outed. Despite her hesitation and her fears, she made a promise to herself that she would not make the same mistake this evening. She felt like their relationship was already on thin ice. She refused to make it worse by not keeping her promise to Andrea that she would talk to her openly and honestly. It’s the least she could do.

Leaning in, she brushed her lips against Andrea’s, such a tentative touch she could hardly feel it. Andrea released a shaky sigh against her before the younger woman pressed closer, kissing her firmly and tenderly. It was such a comforting touch, so familiar in its pleasure, that Miranda’s faith in them grew like flames inside her chest. 

“So,” Andrea said, smiling at her, brown eyes bright with warmth. “What’s for dinner?”

Dinner turned out to be delicious beef bourguignon and steamed vegetables, prepared by Cara mere hours before. The four of them sat around the table and dug in with delight. The girls spoke avidly about the many pranks they had pulled on the wilting paparazzi outside their home. Andrea had enjoyed the story with gleeful schadenfreude, and her laughter was so beautiful that Miranda felt a physical ache at hearing it after such an awful week. She had been pushing thoughts of Andrea out of her mind since Saturday, and had tried to ignore how much she missed her lover. Now, however, having Andrea back in her home, being part of their family, made her realise just how much she had craved her presence, how hollow she’d felt every moment spent without her.

“We threw a balloon at one of them and hit him right in the face!” Caroline hollered, and Miranda took malicious pleasure in how much her daughters loved to wreak havoc upon those who sought to hurt their family.

“He actually got some in his mouth! He started spitting and gagging and everything!” Cassidy grinned.

Andrea cackled. “Yeah, I can’t imagine that raw eggs with olive oil and cinnamon tastes good.”

Miranda snorted, the first sign of amusement she had allowed herself to express at her daughters’ antiques. Three pairs of eyes turned her way, and at the plain amusement on her face, the three of them burst into peals of laughter. 

Finally, her home felt full and alive again. 



.oOo.



As soon as the girls excused themselves to go watch a film, Miranda and Andrea retreated into the den on the second floor. Once sitting comfortably on the sofa, wine glasses in hand, Andrea cut to the chase. Miranda gratefully let her take control of the conversation, because she was at a loss as to where to begin.

“So, you’ve dealt with slimy Irv?” She asked with a grin, and Miranda preened under the amused glint in almond eyes.

“Oh, yes, Andrea, you can count on it. I told you I’d handle everything, didn’t I?” She raised an eyebrow, and took a steadying gulp of wine.

“I never doubted that you would,” Andrea answered, her smile kind. “I distinctly remember you promising you’d make them pay, too.”

“I’ve already told you about how I handled that journalist,” she snarled the word out like she was speaking of the most disgusting cockroach species on the planet. “And that I dealt with Stephen, too.”

“Yes,” Andre agreed, and Miranda already knew her tone of voice. It was her patient tone for when Miranda did or said anything that did not satisfy her inquiries. “But they were brief text messages, Miranda. I want to hear about your week, you know, from you.”

“Oh,” she answered. She felt out of sorts again. She wasn’t sure she was ready to reveal this side of herself to Andrea. She had been ruthless, after all. And not in the sexy editor in chief kind of way. “Well, I put Irv in his place, of course. I even placed a bet with him. He was insisting that this kind of publicity would have negative consequences to the magazine, so I told him that it would not happen. If sales go up in the next issue, then he will finally back off and let me do my job in peace, which is exactly what will happen.”

“And he agreed, just like that?”

“Well, it was too tempting for him not to shake on it, even though he must know how pointless it is to go up against me on this matter. I told him that if sales go down, I’ll quit Runway.

Andrea reeled back as if slapped, her eyes wide. “You- What?"

Miranda hadn’t known what reaction she’d expected, since this was not a big deal in the slightest, but Andrea’s dramatic response left her baffled.

“I said--”

“Yeah, no I heard you. Sorry, I know you hate repeating yourself. I was just, um, really surprised.”

The younger woman started biting her lip in that nervous habit that Miranda found so endearing, but in this moment she felt too puzzled to appreciate it.

“What is it?”

Andrea lowered her eyes for a moment, and twirled her wine glass between her fingers. 

“Well, I mean, what if- what if sales drop?”

Miranda couldn’t help it. She let out a bark of laughter, and at Andrea’s perplexed expression, leaned forward to pat Andrea’s thigh reassuringly.

“Don’t you worry about that, darling. Have you never heard the expression ‘any publicity is good publicity’?” At Andrea’s headshake, Miranda smiled at her. She sometimes forgot that they came from completely different worlds. “Well, it’s true. I promise you, Andrea, Runway sales will not suffer because of this. Especially since the next issue is a big one with a particularly beautiful Gucci spread. My job is safe, and Irv and the board members will get off my back soon enough.”

Andrea let out a slow breath. She took a sip of her wine, and then another, before nodding her head.

“I just- I don’t want your job to suffer because of me,” she admitted in a quiet voice.

Miranda felt incredibly touched by this small confession. She’d known that Andrea would never want anything bad to happen to her, of course. After all, Andrea had stated multiple times that she wanted Miranda to be happy; she supported Miranda’s work and showed an admiration for it - unlike her previous husbands. But to hear it so plainly put, accompanied by Andrea’s worried expression, pulled at Miranda’s heartstrings. 

“Andrea,” she began, her voice gentle. She moved closer, and tilted Andrea’s face towards her with two fingers upon her chin. “Listen to me. My job will not suffer because of you. If anything, I’m going to be an icon in a whole new demographic. I’m sure the lesbian community is going wild right now.”

Finally, an amused grin upturned Andrea’s beautiful lips, and she finally seemed to relax.

“Okay,” she said, and then resolutely changed the topic. “And what about Stephen?”

Miranda lit up with devious glee at the memory of their meeting on Tuesday. Stephen’s enraged, humiliated face was a crystal clear image that brought her immense vengeful satisfaction.

 “He will not be a problem,” she purred. She watched with no small amount of interest as Andrea’s eyes darkened at the sound, and then took a fortifying gulp of wine. “I laid down the law, so to speak, and he will not cause any more problems in our divorce. It should be smooth sailing from now on. Hopefully it will be terminated in less than two months.”

“Oh, Miranda, that’s wonderful!” Andy said, and pulled Miranda close for a one armed hug. Miranda’s eyes fluttered shut at the feeling of having Andrea so close. “Should I ask what you did to make him admit defeat?” She asked with a teasing smile as she pulled back.

“I think you’d rather not know, actually,” Miranda said, and bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. “But perhaps I’ll show you one day.”

Oh, yes. Miranda could imagine Andrea’s reaction to seeing that blouse. It would certainly be interesting, and definitely amusing.

“O...kay,” Andrea answered, looking at Miranda with a mixture of intrigue and concern. “Should I even ask about the fate of the journalist, then?”

Miranda’s amusement turned to ashes like the remains of a fire. Just the mention of him, of what he’d written, lit a pit of ire in Miranda so visceral that she knew that no amount of blacklisting would ever satisfy her. She wanted that illiterate, brainless rodent to suffer the consequences for all eternity. Nobody wrote those things about Andrea and her daughters without burning in an earthly version of hell, with Miranda presiding over it like Hades himself.

“Suffice to say, I destroyed him and any aspirations he had of getting a job in publishing and media in the country. Much like that treacherous little leech, Alice.”

Andrea’s head snapped towards her at that. 

“What?”

“Well, I did promise I would make them pay. I am going to destroy her, Andrea.” She could hear the danger in her own voice as a darkness clouded her eyes. Andrea’s own brown ones were wide while she stared at Miranda in disbelief. “I blacklisted her from everywhere, of course, even outside the industry. She will have to scramble around and beg to be hired anywhere worth-while in the east coast and the large part of the country.”

“What?” Andrea repeated, dumbfounded. “Miranda, that’s- that’s--”

“She threatened both our livelihoods, Andrea. Your job could have suffered, your clients could have been exposed, I could have lost Runway had I not played my cards right, and my divorce was compromised. She nearly ruined us, Andrea. So I ruined her. And I’m not even done with her yet.”

Andrea’s face paled at that. She was looking at Miranda like she’d never seen her before.

“What are you planning to do to her?”

“Before you hired her, my lawyers went over her contract, as you asked. They found it insufficient in terms of protecting the confidentiality of anything that happened in your studio. So, I asked them to add a little clause, since they know how to do these things in a very subtle way. One that would make sure that you would have legal authority to sue her if she spoke a word regarding anything - event, person, or happenstance - to occur past the front door of your studio. As she leaked the photo of us still inside that area limit, and since it concerned you, her boss, you have the right to sue her for breaching her confidentiality agreement.”

“Oh my God.”

“We take her to court, and she pays a fine of fifty thousand dollars. Her name will forever be tainted to any possible future employers due to her lack of integrity, and she will be unable to get a job in the country again.”

“Oh my God,” Andrea repeated, looking at Miranda as if she was actually afraid.

Miranda was confused by this reaction. This was the perfect revenge. Miranda had made sure it would taste sweet and bloody, but Andrea was just looking horrified at the very idea. 

“Miranda, no,” she finally said, taking Miranda by surprise. 

“Excuse me?”

“I said no,” Andrea stammered, then released a deep breath and rubbed her forehead. “I’m not going to sue her.”

“Why ever not?” Miranda asked, irritated. Defensiveness and anger were beginning to curl at the pit of her stomach.

“I think the blacklist is enough. She’s learned her lesson. We can leave it at that.” Miranda opened her mouth to protest, but Andrea raised her hand and continued before she could get any words out. “No, Miranda. It’s too much. Sure, I want this to have consequences on her career, because what she did was an awful, shitty thing to do to us. Invading our privacy like that and outing us against our will. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get back at her, that she doesn’t deserve to pay. What I’m saying is that making her unable to get a job and on top of that making her poor? It’s too much. I don’t want her to end up on the streets or anything like that, which could easily happen if we sue her. Let’s just- let’s just leave it at blacklisted, okay? You’ve done that, so let’s just move on. Okay?”

“But, Andrea, The Post probably paid her for that disgusting article--”

“And it was awful, and horrible and cruel and all manner of things. But I can’t have it on my conscience, Miranda. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I completely ruined someone to such lengths. I know you would, and that’s okay. I know why, and I understand, I really do. I’m not judging you. I’m not saying you’re wrong to want to do so. We all deal with anger in different ways, and that’s fine. I’m just saying that I can’t do that. I can’t sue and make her broke on top of everything else.”

Miranda took a deep breath. This was not the outcome she had expected. She’d wanted Andrea and her to be side by side, enjoying the downfall of someone who had tried to harm them. She’d thought Andrea would want that too, but looking at the young woman before her, all pleading eyes and furrowed brow, Miranda understood where she’d gone wrong in her thinking.

Andrea was not like her. She was kind, and compassionate, and forgiving. Miranda herself had been blessed by Andrea’s forgiveness, and she was thankful every day that the younger woman had given her another chance. These qualities were a big part of why Miranda loved her so much, why she felt so safe with her, because she knew that Andrea had a good heart. She would never take advantage of Miranda, or think cruel things, much less say or do them. Of course Andrea would not want to ruin someone until there was barely anything left of the person. It simply wasn’t her.

Besides, she could be right. Alice had already been blacklisted unlike any other person before her in Miranda’s rather extensive list. The only person who came close was that insipid vermin of a man who had written the article Alice had given him to sell them out. Most importantly, Miranda didn’t want to push Andrea to do something she would regret or feel guilty about, especially because she would undoubtedly resent Miranda for it. She might have to cut her losses and simply move on, as Andrea had suggested.

Who would have thought that dating a therapist would make Miranda a better person? The very notion.

“Alright,” Miranda complied. “We will not take her to court. You’re right, enough has been done in the way of destroying her. I will not bring it up again.”

Andrea sagged in relief, her features smoothing out in gratitude.

“Thank you,” she breathed. 

Miranda found herself once again marvelling at this woman who had chosen to give her love to Miranda of all people. What had she ever done to deserve such a sweet, caring, selfless person to love her so?

“Anyways,” she decided to change the topic, clearing her throat to move past the uncomfortable tension that the conversation had brought moments before. “How was your week? I know you’ve been having trouble with some patients.”

“Ugh,” Andrea groaned, rolling her eyes. 

The casual way in which the gesture came forth told Miranda that the Alice matter had been put to rest behind them. Andrea’s expression of annoyance was one Miranda had seen plenty of times when Andrea was frustrated by something - namely, a client - and Miranda was charmed. She sat back, hiding her amusement behind her wine glass as she took a sip, eyes avidly watching Andrea’s wild hand gestures and comical expressions during her tirade. 

“They’re impossible! I’ve been trying my best to make up for the fact that we can’t have our usual session in the studio, but they’re just being brats about it! As if it was my decision to have the press trying to find out about us! Some of them are jerks, I’m not even joking. I know I shouldn’t speak like that, because they’re my patients, but ugh. Snobby rich white people can be such a pain sometimes. Like, have a little compassion, maybe?

“Not to mention my parents,” Andrea continued, veering off topic. “They called me when they heard the news last Saturday, and they were so horrible about it. Calling us all these names and treating me like I’m some naive child that can’t be trusted to make the right decisions. Honestly, sometimes I think they’re stuck in the past and still see me as some thirteen year old rebellious teenager.”

Miranda’s amusement died at that, crashing and burning in the wake of the sudden anguish that gripped her. Just as Andrea had not wanted Miranda’s job to suffer because of her, Miranda didn’t want Andrea’s relationship with her parents to be affected by this. Sure, they would be shocked. Miranda could hardly blame them, since she was a mother herself and she could imagine what it must be like. But to actually attack Andrea? To question her maturity and desires as if they were unreasonable?

“Have you heard from them since?” Miranda dared to ask, already dreading the answer.

“Nah, I told them not to call me unless they’re ready to talk to me like an adult. I said that if they’re just going to insult either of us, that I didn’t want to hear from them. So…”

Nodding in understanding, Miranda felt her throat close up. Andrea had defended herself, and Miranda too, and as a result, Andrea’s parents had blocked her out. They had not even bothered to check on their daughter, despite knowing that she was going through a deeply challenging time. Miranda couldn’t understand how a parent could do that to a child. She couldn’t help but feel guilty, like she was to blame for the chasm between Andrea and her parents. Seeing as they probably believed everything in the press about Miranda, she probably was. 

“Are you sure this is what you want?” She blurted, and Andrea looked at her in confusion. Miranda took a steading breath, gathering as much courage as she could muster to ask her next question. “Do you want to stay with me, despite the fact that it will come between you and your parents? Your private life will be plastered on magazines for anyone to read, strangers on the street will know who you are and judge you like they have the right to do so. Do you really want all of that?”

She braced herself. She couldn’t avoid it. All her fears and doubts had been leading up to this moment. She didn’t know what she would do if Andrea said no. Probably live the rest of her life on her hands and knees, dragging herself along with an aching hollowness in her chest, sentenced to miss Andrea every waking moment of her existence.

“Miranda, how could you ask that?” Andrea said softly, before moving to cradle Miranda’s hands in hers. “Of course I want to stay with you. Nothing could keep me away.”

Miranda blinked at her, unsure if what she was hearing was real. The honesty and warmth in Andrea’s beautiful brown eyes showed just how real it was, but Miranda still felt a strange sense of vertigo, like she was standing on the edge of a cliff on her tiptoes. 

“I thought you knew that,” Andrea continued. “I thought I made it clear last week. I love you more than anything, Miranda. I’m not going anywhere, because all of this?” She waved her hand in the air as clarification. “All the things you just said will happen? I don’t care about them. Because you’re worth all of it.”

Oh. Miranda bit her lip, the knot in her throat becoming so tight she could barely swallow past it. She had the distinct feeling she was about to cry.

“What’s going on, Miranda?” Andrea asked, her worry evident as she looked at her closely. “I can see there’s something you’re not talking about.”

God, she was good. She’d always been able to read Miranda better than most, especially since they became a couple, but it still surprised her that Andrea could look at her and know. It was both unnerving and reassuring.

She knew they needed to have this conversation. Andrea had already dissuaded her worst fears. Now, she needed to get the rest of her doubts out in the open, at least to find some resolutions to the thoughts that had tormented her for the past few weeks.

“Why don’t you ever talk about the future?”

Andrea blinked at her, clearly caught off guard.

“What?”

“You never talk about our future together,” Miranda continued, trying not to show just how anxious she was. “You’ve never spoken about the possibility of living together, or--”

“You want me to move in with you?” Andrea interrupted, all but gaping at her, which only served to unsettle Miranda further.

“That’s not what I said. I just want to know why you never talk about such things. I can’t put myself or my children through another relationship with someone who is not seriously committed to being the one for me.”

“Miranda,” Andrea began, seeming at a loss. “The reason I didn’t bring any of this up is because I didn’t want to push you to discuss things you weren’t ready for. You’ve been in serious relationships before, and you’re going through a divorce, so I didn’t want to pressure you. I was happy to go at whatever pace you wanted.”

Miranda felt foolish. Of course Andrea had good reasons to not talk about the future. It’s not because she wasn’t committed to Miranda. She’d proven time and time again that she was. Just because Miranda had felt it was all too good to be true did not mean Andrea was not serious about their relationship.

She needed to learn to stop jumping to the worst-case scenarios and keep her fears under control. The fact that every other person had left her, had been disappointed in her or had not truly loved her, did not mean Andrea would too. She was nothing like them. Not even close. Besides, they had barely been together six months. It was not Andrea’s fault that Miranda was ready to take their relationship a step further. She wanted to see Andrea every day, to share her home with her and bask in the comforting knowledge that she would return home from work each evening to Andrea and her girls.

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” she conceded, lowering her eyes in shame. “I just- I think I let my doubts and insecurities get the better of me.”

“Hey,” Andrea said, raising her face to look at her the way Miranda had done just a few moments earlier. “Don’t apologise. You’re right, we should’ve had more discussions about this. Do you want to talk about it now?”

Miranda nodded, feeling Andrea’s fingers trace her jaw and rise up to caress her cheek. She stayed silent though, not wanting to reveal too much for fear that Andrea would reject her, would not want the same things. Seeming to notice this, Andrea smiled reassuringly.

“Okay, how about I start?” Miranda gave her a grateful smile, so Andrea continued. “Well, for the past month and a half, I have missed you every day I didn’t get to see you. Not just you, but the girls, too. Even though I've been spending all my weekends here, and sometimes a few nights during the week as well, each time I came over it was harder to say goodbye. And no matter how much I love our late night phone calls when we're apart, they’ve got nothing on being with you in person.”

Miranda’s heartbeat picked up at Andrea’s words. A small kindle of hope lit her up inside as she desperately wished that Andrea wanted the same things that she did.

“The past week has been awful. Not seeing any of you, barely talking to you guys... it was terrible. I missed you all the time. And I know that the press is only going to make it harder for us to see each other in peace. Just today I had to go all the way around and come in through the back door!” She exclaimed, raising her arm in the direction of the garden beyond the den’s windows. Letting out a sigh, she lowered her hand to tangle Miranda’s fingers with hers. 

“What I’m saying is, I want to see you every day. I want to have as much of you as I can, despite our work schedules and the impossible paparazzi. I know it’s soon, but no part of our relationship has been conventional so far. So, if you’re ready, if you want this, I’ll do it. I’ll move in.”

Miranda was floored. Despite the hope she’d had, Andrea’s words had swept her away. She could not believe Andrea was ready to commit so soon. She was young, her career was taking off and was only in its early stages. How could she commit to a difficult woman twice her age and with children? Despite how much Miranda wanted to say yes, despite how much her heart leapt at the thought of having Andrea in her home every day, now that the moment of truth had come, she felt a certain pull, a drawback. What if they were moving too quickly and it ended up blowing up in their faces? What if taking this step too soon would break them?

She wouldn’t - couldn’t let that happen.

“Andrea,” she began, hoping this would come out right. The last thing she wanted was to hurt the younger woman, or have her words misinterpreted. “I want nothing more than to share my home with you. It would make me so happy to have you with me every day. But we need to think about this. You’re right, it might be too soon. I don’t want our relationship to go sideways because we’re going through too many changes at once.”

Andrea nodded in understanding, squeezing her hands reassuringly. “Yeah, I get it. I don’t want to rush into anything we’re not ready for just because of all the chaos going on. So, what do you suggest we do?”

Miranda tilted her head in thought, and Andrea looked at her in that love-sick way she had every time Miranda did this particular gesture. She wondered what it was about it that made Andrea go all smitten doe-eyes on her.

“How about this: we have a trial period of sorts. Since the press is going to make it difficult for us to see each other, you could move in until everything calms down. You can keep your apartment just in case, but you’ll have a home here as well.” A thought occurred to Miranda then, and she couldn’t help the sultry smile that curled her lips. “Plus, if you keep your apartment, we can always use it to our needs. I still have some plans for that rooftop terrace of yours.” 

Andrea’s eyes darkened just at the suggestion, and her tongue peeked out to wet her lips, drawing Miranda’s attention.

“That sounds good,” she said, her voice suddenly huskier. She glanced at Miranda’s lips, and Miranda felt heat coil in her lower abdomen. God, it had been far too long. Andrea visibly shook herself, and raised her eyes back up to Miranda's. “Yeah, I like that plan. I’ve paid my rent through for the next five months, so no worries about money. And I like this trial idea. We can just see how it goes without fully committing too early. If we find that we’re not ready, I’ll just move back into my place.”

“Wonderful." Miranda let out a relieved breath. This felt like the right decision for them. They would be able to spend more time together and navigate the no doubt challenging next few weeks together. "We’ll speak to the girls about it tomorrow." 

She felt ten times lighter. Even the tension she’d carried in her shoulders for the past week had evaporated. Now that all the important topics had been discussed and her fears had been vanquished, now that they had a plan of action that would make their relationship grow despite all the forces working against them, she finally felt like she was back in control of her own life. Feeling buoyant and incredibly satisfied, her mind focused on the one thing that brought a different, more pleasant type of tension. 

“Now, darling, I believe it’s time to go to bed,” she murmured, her voice low in that specific cadence that always made Andrea shiver.

“Yes, Miranda,” Andrea whispered as she eagerly leaned forward, and Miranda smiled into their kiss.

Perhaps they really would be alright after all.

Chapter Text

“Bloody hell. How many books does a person need?”

Andy grinned, amused by the Brit’s constantly snotty attitude. Her scathing remarks were almost as entertaining as Miranda’s. Almost.

Since Miranda was busier than ever with the new Runway issue, Andy had been left to move all her essentials to the townhouse without her help. Andy had insisted that this wouldn’t be a problem, since she’d moved by herself several times before. Miranda being Miranda, however, she’d ordered her first assistant to take an afternoon away from the office just to help Andy with the gruelling process of moving. So far they had managed to load the truck with more than half the boxes, but Emily was beginning to lose her precarious patience.

“I’m a therapist, Em, I sort of need them,” Andy reminded her with a barely hidden smile.

Emily rolled her eyes in an uncanny imitation of Miranda. “I told you not to call me that.”

“Sorry,” Andy said sweetly, even though she was anything but. Teasing Emily was becoming one of her favourite past-times. It certainly made packing and carrying boxes a lot less dull.

“I cannot believe I have to waste an entire afternoon with this nonsense. Do you know how many things I have to do that are far more important than- than this?”

With a mighty scowl, Emily flung the box of books onto the truck with a little more force than necessary, but Andy was trying too hard not to laugh to be bothered by it. She was tempted to tell Emily that Miranda had ordered her to do this just to torment her and amuse Andy. In fact, when Miranda said she’d be putting her first assistant on the job of helping her, Andy had been more than a little bewildered. She didn’t really need the help, but Miranda was adamant.

“You wanted to pick her brain, if I recall. This will be the perfect opportunity.”

It had taken Andy a moment to remember that she’d said exactly that on their first date, and after laughing at Miranda's mischievous nature, she’d marvelled at the amount of details her lover could remember about her. Underneath all those layers of aloofness and austere temperament, Miranda was just a thoughtful, incredibly sweet romantic.

Miranda was also right in almost everything she said, and her predictions for today were no different. The past hour had indeed been very educational (as well as incredibly entertaining) for Andy, and evidently frustrating for the redhead.

“I’m only helping you because Miranda told me to,” she stated for the third time as they made their way back up to Andy’s apartment for more boxes. “And honestly, I cannot believe she would do this.”

“Do what?” Andy asked. “Make you help me?”

“Oh no, that’s very in character for her. She loves to torture her underlings, after all,” Emily scoffed. “No, what I can’t believe is that she’d secretly date a woman half her age for months, then get outed to the world while getting divorced from that nonce, and still go to work like nothing happened. It’s like nothing fazes her! She can’t take a break and let the rest of us breathe? Honestly, that woman drives me insane.” She turned to Andy and gave her a menacing glare. “Don’t tell her I said that.”

Andy crossed her chest with her hand. “I’ll take it to the grave.”

“Good,” Emily raised her chin as they stepped into the elevator, looking for all the world as if Andy was taking her to the guillotine. “And, really, a therapist? That’s who she decides to be with? It’s lunacy!”

Andy snickered, not willing to relay the kind of therapist she was. A small, evil part of her desperately wanted to see Emily’s reaction if Andy told her just how much'therapy' Andy’s expertise had given Miranda.

“Can’t account for taste,” Andy sassed instead. Emily snarled in reaction, giving Andy’s outfit a long, disdainful once over - she’d made it clear that Andy’s clothes were not up to her standards. Andy simply winked at her. “C’mon, we only have a few boxes left. I’ll treat you to an ice cream when we finish.”

At Emily’s scandalised objection and furious glare, Andy laughed. She couldn’t wait to tell Miranda all about how she’d tortured Emily when she came home that evening. She was sure Miranda would be proud.

 

.oOo.

 

It took more than two days for Andy to get settled into the townhouse. Miranda had welcomed her lover with open arms, making sure she was comfortable and felt at home. She’d gone out of her way to make sure there was plenty of room for Andy’s treasured nicknacks, and cleared up space in her closet for Andy’s clothes (a task which had taken an amusing, ridiculous amount of time, in Andy’s humble opinion). The only thing she’d been opposed to was Andy’s suggestion of having a joint office.

“Darling, I’m afraid I’ll get constantly distracted by your presence. I’d never get any work done,” she’d said, trailing kisses down Andy’s jaw. “How about we remodel one of the guest rooms into an office of your own, so you can have your space while also being at liberty to share my office from time to time, too.”

Andy couldn’t oppose that reasoning - especially when Miranda’s lips trailed down to her neck, a daring tongue seeking all the sensitive places on her skin - so she’d agreed. For now, she was storing her boxes full of books in a beautiful guest bedroom near Miranda’s office with big windows that let in lots of natural light. Perfect for Andy’s tastes and her collection of plants.

At first, Andy had expected there to be a noticeable shift in their relationship. Part of her had worried that with the stress of everything, she and Miranda wouldn’t be as compatible as they’d hoped. She was proven wrong, however. They slipped seamlessly into this new stage in their relationship, and Andy wasn’t sure if it was due to the reassurance that this move wasn’t definitive, or if it was because Andy had been spending so much time in the townhouse before she ‘moved in’ anyways. The girls were happy to have Andy living there every day, and Miranda… well. She was invigorated, walking on air, practically buoyant - by Miranda standards, anyways.

It felt so right for Andy to wake up in Miranda’s arms and fall asleep in them each night, to have family breakfasts and dinners with the girls, to have unplanned movie nights and play games whenever the mood struck them. It was bliss. Andy could have never imagined that it would be like this. Even though Miranda was extremely busy with Runway now that all the eyes of the Elias Clarke board members were trained on her, looking for any mistakes or missteps on her part, she made sure to be home for dinner at least twice during the week. She’d started working at home on the weekends and usually let Andy work quietly in her office with her, despite her previous protests. This suited Andy perfectly. Since the press continued to hound them, her therapy sessions were still done online, and working from home was always much nicer when Miranda was nearby.

That was the only thing that still disturbed their peace - the press. Leslie had suggested they make public appearances to prove there was nothing “scandalous” about their relationship. Miranda had loathed the idea of putting her daughters in front of the press, but had relented once Cassidy and Caroline had declared that they wanted to do it. In their words, they wanted a “normal family” and to do “normal family things”.

So, for the next three weeks, walks in the park, family museum outings, and dinner dates at high-end restaurants became more and more frequent. The press followed them everywhere, which at first unsettled Andy - especially when rude, horrible, sometimes even lascivious questions were hurled at them like grenade bombs. Miranda didn’t pay them any mind, however, and after several outings, Andy had learned how to do so as well. She’d even stopped getting so upset by the way gossip magazines and forums wrote about Miranda. There was still an underlying fury every time she read anything negative about them and their relationship, but she quickly learned to stop reading such things altogether.

Just as Leslie and Miranda had predicted, slowly but surely there was less and less paparazzi stalking them wherever they went and most were no longer camped outside the townhouse. It was a relief to leave or come home without having to push through a crowd of “vicious vultures” (Miranda’s words), but it still wasn’t safe enough for Andy to return to her usual way of work. Working from home gave her a lot of time to think about how much her life had changed in the past five weeks. Being outed had actually inspired Andy, as strange and unexpected as it was. 

“I have an idea,” Andy announced one night, rolling onto her side so she could face her lover.

Miranda was regally leaning against the lush pillows propped up against the headboard, reading glasses perched low on her nose and the thin strap of her nightgown slipping off her shoulder. Her sharp blue eyes didn’t abandon their perusal of The Book after Andy’s declaration. She simply hummed in that way of hers, and Andy knew she was paying attention. Miranda’s mind was brilliant like that: she could focus on multiple things at once without losing concentration.

“I’m thinking of writing a book.”

At that, Miranda turned to look at her. “Oh?”

“Yeah. Going through this whole ordeal, seeing how people have reacted to us being a couple, how the press have given us hell for it, it’s kind of inspired me to write a book about it. Not, like, specific to our situation, of course. Just a psychological and sociological study of why there’s so much prejudice about same-sex couples, especially regarding female couples where one or both women are in a position of power in a male-dominated field. I don’t think it’s been studied specifically like that before, looking so closely at this particular issue in lesbian relationships. It’s like a messed up but rather unique combination of homophobia, sexism, and patriarchal societal structures.”

For a moment, Miranda simply regarded her with a thoughtful expression, blinking at her slowly. Andy would be worried that Miranda was opposed to Andy writing about something so close to home if it weren’t for the warmth in those ocean eyes. Slowly, a smile curled Miranda’s lips.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said, reaching over to cup Andy’s cheek. “You never cease to amaze me.”

“Really?” Andy grinned, and shuffled closer.

“Hmm,” Miranda hummed, her smile growing bigger until the corner of her eyes crinkled into fine, beautiful lines. Andy’s heart fluttered in that way it always did when Miranda smiled like this. “I’m in awe of you.”

Andy bit her lower lip, a blush blooming in her cheeks. Miranda’s eyes lowered to focus upon the pearly whites nibbling the soft flesh, and before Andy could do anything, Miranda gently tilted her chin up to kiss her.

So, with Miranda’s support, and with more time on her hands now that she was working from home, Andy started her book idea with huge enthusiasm. It felt healing, like she was taking her own form of action against the attacks by the press, the people who felt they had the right to judge them, and even her own parents. Any leftover fears, outrage and indignation seemed to melt away, and she finally fully relaxed into her new life.

 

.oOo.

 

The stage lights dimmed. Applause filled the small theatre. Andy couldn’t help the excitement that bubbled up in her. She leaned closer to Miranda and grasped her hand, squeezing it as she all but bounced in her seat. Miranda glanced at her with fond amusement, the silvery whiteness of her hair and the bright blue of her eyes shining despite the dark setting.

Cassidy stepped onto the stage, and they both turned their full attention to her. The girl took her place at the piano, and when the first notes resonated through the room, Andy felt her chest swell up with pride. With all her devout attention, she watched Cassidy play flawlessly, an unconscious grin on her features. She didn’t even notice Miranda gazing at her several times throughout the performance. 

When the piece ended, she was the first one clapping enthusiastically, fighting the impulse to leap to her feet and holler “brava!” at the top of her lungs. Instead she settled for whistling loudly, ignoring the judgemental glances from other parents. Miranda placed her hand atop Andy’s thigh, a small smile on her lips as Andy grinned at her in wonder. Andy reached down to place her hand on top of Miranda’s.

Caroline was up next. Her piece was slower, more emotional, and Andy had to fight against the tears that welled up in her eyes. She’d heard the girls practicing the piano many times, and Caroline had often struggled with this piece, but she’d never played it more beautifully than in that moment. Andy placed her free hand upon her chest, feeling overcome with joy as she watched Caroline - who had claimed to have stage fright not one hour before - light up the stage with her talent. When the song finished three minutes later, Andy only remained in her seat because of Miranda’s hand on her leg. She cheered and clapped with double the spirit because of it.

“She’s so good!” she exclaimed to Miranda, who couldn’t erase the smile that curled her lips every time she looked at Andy’s exuberance.

Andy had never been to any of the girls’ recitals, and Miranda found it incredibly endearing and heartwarming to watch her act like an adoring parent on their kid’s first performance. Miranda could remember what that felt like as if it was only yesterday when she’d first seen her darling babies dance ballet with all the incoordination and cuteness of three year olds.

Nearly an hour later, after many other children and teenagers had taken to the stage - some more talented than others - Andy and Miranda made their way backstage. Andy was too overjoyed to notice the strange, judgemental glances they received from some of the snobby parents.

“Guys!” Andy exclaimed, and rushed over to the girls as soon as she spotted them. They welcomed her hugs with delighted, proud grins. “You were amazing! I can’t believe how good you were!”

“Yeah,” Caroline smirked. “We heard you in the crowd.”

“It was pretty funny,” Cassidy snickered. “I didn’t know you could whistle like that.”

“How did you know it was me?” Andy asked.

“Well, it’s not usually something that happens a lot at Dalton. The parents here are usually more… reserved.”

“Well, sucks to be them,” Andy grinned. She wrapped her arms around their shoulders as the three of them made their way to Miranda, who was walking towards them at a much more leisurely pace than Andy had.

“Girls,” she said with a loving smile. “You were wonderful, as always.”

“Thanks, mom,” they said, and accepted twin hugs from her.

“Would you like to go out for a celebratory dinner?” Miranda asked.

“Nah.” Caroline shrugged. “I don’t think we’re up for putting up with the press tonight. Maybe we could just get pizza or something?”

Andy grinned at the idea, and before Miranda could argue that they’d already had pizza earlier that week, she conceded.

“That sounds great, kiddos,” she said, and winked at Miranda, who sent her a faux glare. “Let’s go!”

By the time they got home, they’d already ordered the pizzas, and the girls went up to take a shower while Andy helped Miranda set the table.

“They’re such great kids,” Andy said suddenly, still hardly able to believe that this was her life. Piano recitals, soccer games, and pizza. She turned towards Miranda, who had stopped to look at her with a soft expression. Andy walked towards her, wrapping her arms around her neck and pulling her close. “I’m so lucky.”

Miranda chuckled, hugging Andy around the waist and pressing their bodies together. 

“No luckier than me.” She placed a short but sweet kiss on Andy’s lips, and then another one on her forehead for good measure. “Now stop stalling and get us some wine, dear.”

Dinner was a lively affair. The girls took it upon themselves to describe the entire recital from their perspectives, including how nervous Caroline had been before going onstage, and how Cassidy lost her music sheet ten minutes before she was due on (luckily she’d found it buried under their coats and bags). Andy gushed over their performances again - because she really couldn’t get over how talented they were and how proud of them she felt - and Miranda piped up with several witty comments about the other parents present, and some teachers too.

They skipped desert, the pizzas being more than enough to fill them up, so they moved to the second floor family room.

“Can we play Uno? ” Cassidy asked.

“Ugh, do we have to? You know what mom’s like,” Caroline groaned. Miranda narrowed her eyes at her.

“I can behave,” she retorted, crossing her arms

Cassidy snorted derisively. “Yeah, sure.”

Andy looked between the three women in confusion.

“Uh, can someone explain please?”

Caroline turned to her, ignoring her mother’s hard stare.

“Mom gets super competitive playing Uno."

“Oh,” Andy said. “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad. A little bit of friendly competition is good, right?”

Cassidy snorted. “Yeah, except mom is always competitive. But at Uno? She’s out for blood.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “Honestly, you two exaggerate.”

“So we shouldn’t mention the time you had to take six cards and you threatened to disown us?”

“I was having a bad day,” Miranda defended herself, tilting her chin up.

Andy definitely needed to witness this side of her.

“Okay, let’s play,” she said, and Miranda turned to look at her with what looked like horror.

“Sweet!” Cassidy exclaimed, and grabbed the cards from the drawer under the TV. “I’ll deal.”

They settled in a circle on the floor (Miranda using a pillow as a make-shift seat because she was definitely not messing up her Armani trousers) and once the cards were dealt, it was game on.

Boy, was it an experience.

Miranda was vicious. It was like she had some sort of immune system against bad cards. All she had was the good ones - reverse, skip, and wild cards to change colours, draw twos and wild draw fours. Andy regretted sitting next to her.

“Again?!” She exclaimed, aghast at missing a turn for the third time. She raised her eyes from the skip card staring up at her to glare at a smirking, self-satisfied Miranda.

“We told you,” Caroline said.

“Okay, you wanna play dirty?” Andy asked. “I can play dirty.”

For the next half an hour, it was like a relentless battle that escalated into a full-blown war. Cassidy and Caroline opted to go along with it by teaming up, while Miranda and Andy constantly tried to one up each other. Miranda had finally found a worthy opponent as vicious as her.

“Ha! Take that!” Andy said, smacking a draw four colour changer onto the growing pile of cards between them.

“Putain de merde," Miranda gritted out between her teeth. The twins’ eyes grew like saucers, never having witnessed their mother swear like that before, regardless of language. Andy simply smiled victoriously, ignoring the fact she’d just been insulted in French. Miranda’s flawless pronunciation of the sultry language more than made up for it.

Miranda got her revenge soon after, though. Caroline placed down a green draw two, and Cassidy evaded it by putting down a red draw two. Andy was about to gleefully gloat at Miranda for having to take another four cards when the older woman looked at her with a devilish smirk. Andy’s stomach immediately sank. She watched in dismay as Miranda’s arm slowly extended, a card held elegantly between two fingers, and then - 

“Fuck a duck!”

The girls giggled at the profanity, and Miranda scolded her for it, but it was diminished by her dark, triumphant laughter. Andy took six cards, glaring at her preening lover.

“You’re gonna pay for that, Priestly,” Andy grumbled, but secretly loved the way Miranda’s eyes gleamed.

In the end, Miranda won, something that didn’t surprise the twins in the least. Andy, meanwhile, swore to take her down in their next match, and Miranda smugly accepted the challenge. 

The girls felt worn out from the recital, heavy dinner, and the rather intense game, so they all decided to call it a day. After hugging the girls goodnight, Miranda and Andy silently climbed the stairs to their room. Once there, Andy stomped into the ensuite in faux anger, acting wounded after her merciless defeat at Uno. Miranda watched her with unabashed amusement as she took her makeup off, and was delighted when Andy continued her entertaining little act by glaring at Miranda’s reflection in the mirror as they brushed their teeth side by side.

When they finally crawled into bed, Miranda pounced, rolling on top of Andy and straddling her hips. She grasped graceful wrists in her hands, pulling Andy’s arms over her head and pressing her into the mattress. Brown eyes darkened as they gazed up at her, and Miranda leaned close until their chests touched. 

“You were warned not to challenge me,” Miranda husked, her lips barely brushing over Andrea’s.

“What can I say?” Andy answered. She licked her lips, gratified when she saw Miranda follow the movement with her eyes. “I like a good challenge.”

“That’s true, I suppose,” Miranda hummed in affirmation, leaning closer to plant feather-light kisses over Andy’s jaw. Her lover tilted her head back, granting her access to the skin at her neck. “You never back down. It’s one of your most attractive qualities, even though it leads you to be defeated by my grand victory.”

“Miranda Priestly,” Andy said with a teasing grin. “Are you flirting with me?”

“What gave it away?”

“Just a few things. But enough games.” Andy pushed up with her leg, rolling them over and pinning Miranda beneath her. Blue eyes grew half-lidded, and a sensuous smirk curled Miranda’s lips alluringly. “I said I’d make you pay, and I always keep my word.”

Miranda chuckled, wrapping her legs around Andy’s waist and pulling their hips together. She buried her fingers in silky hair before curling them into fists to pull at Andy’s scalp, making her lover shiver with delight.

“Do your worst.”

 

.oOo.

 

When the doorbell rang at exactly six thirty p.m, Andy jumped up from the sofa.

“I’ll get it!”

As she rushed out of the living room, Nigel turned to Miranda.

“Is she always so enthusiastic about opening the door?”

Miranda rolled her eyes with barely hidden amusement, but did not deign his sarcasm with a response.

Andy thundered down the stairs. Her stomach fluttered with nerves and excitement. Tonight was a very special night, after all, and she was too giddy to be remotely patient. She flung the front door open with a huge grin and immediately pulled her friends inside.

“Hey guys!” She welcomed them with warm hugs. “Thanks so much for coming!”

“I guarantee you, the pleasure is all mine,” Doug said, looking around with wide, awed eyes. “I can’t believe I’m in Miranda Priestly’s house.” He turned to Lily. “I know I’ve asked this already, but can you pinch me one more time?”

“Better yet, I can punch you. Maybe that’ll do the trick this time,” she drawled, sharing a smirk with Andy.

“You can leave your coats here,” Andy opened the closet for them, all but bounding on the balls of her feet. “Wanna go meet the others? They’re upstairs. I’ll give you both the house tour later, if you want.”

“Sure,” Lily said, cutting off Doug before he could hyperventilate at the very idea. She looked around as they made their way up the stairs, admiring the artwork hanging on the walls. “I can’t believe you actually live here.”

“Trust me, I know,” Andy grinned. “I have a hard time believing it myself sometimes.”

“But it’s been good, right?” Doug asked, even though he barely looked at her, too busy taking everything in.

“Oh, it’s been amazing!” Andy gushed. “I couldn’t be happier. Plus the press has finally started to back off to the point where we’re not being followed all the time, so I’ll be able to go back to work soon like a normal therapist.”

“I’m happy for you, Andycakes,” Lily smiled, throwing her arm over Andy’s shoulders.

“Thanks, Lils.” She squeezed her friend into her side before stopping at the top of their stairs. “Okay, everyone is in the living room just around the corner,” she said in a hushed voice. “Just- you know, be nice. And Doug, you are not allowed to go full fangirl on her, okay? It makes her uncomfortable. Just pretend she’s a normal person, like any other partner of mine you’ve met, okay?”

Doug snorted, but agreed. “Alright, alright, I’ll behave. But don’t think anyone could look at Miranda Priestly and think she’s a regular person. That lady is a goddess.”

“Yeah, yeah, just be chill, dude,” Andy poked him in the ribs. “And don’t bring up Vogue or Anna Wintour.”

“Are you kidding? I don’t wanna start world war three! Give me some credit.”

The three of them were snickering when they stepped into the living room, and three pairs of eyes turned to them.

“Doug, Lily, this is Nigel,” Andy gestured at him as he pretended to take off an imaginary hat before shaking their hands. “And that’s his husband, Sebastian.” A tall, dark skinned man stepped forward to shake their hands as well, a friendly grin upon his face. “And this,” Andy finally turned to Miranda, who stood from the sofa like a graceful queen and approached them with that charming smile of hers. “Is Miranda.”

Doug stared at her slack-jawed, and Andy really couldn’t blame him. Miranda was larger than life on a regular day, but tonight she looked other-wordly in a navy Dior dress that hugged her body perfectly and flowed down past her knees. Paired with five inch Prada heels that accentuated her legs divinely, the outfit could easily take out anyone on sight. Her make-up was light but accentuated the blue of her eyes and the sharpness of her cheekbones, the faint rouge lipstick bringing even more attention to every word that slipped past her lips. She looked delectable, and Andy couldn’t wait for later tonight when she’d get to take everything off her and worship at her altar for hours. A Goddess, indeed.

“Lovely to meet you,” Miranda said smoothly, offering her hand to Doug and Lily. 

Despite her air of charismatic hostess, Andy could see the small signs that gave away Miranda’s concealed nerves - the set of her jaw, the tension around her eyes and mouth, the rigid posture of shoulders bellying her tightened muscles. All throughout the day, Andy had noticed how anxious Miranda was about meeting any significant person from Andy’s life - especially her two closest friends - and she’d done her best to assure her that Doug and Lily would love her, that there was nothing to be worried about, that Andy loved her no matter what. But, of course, Miranda didn’t have very many positive experiences with her previous partners’ friends and family, so Andy understood where the fear stemmed from.

“It’s such an honour, Miranda,” Doug eagerly declared, practically bowing over Miranda’s hand as he shook it. Andy bit her lip not to laugh, especially when a hint of amused approval glinted in Miranda’s eyes. “Thank you so much for having us.”

“Yes, thank you.” Lily shook her hand. “Andy has told us so much about you."

“Oh?” Miranda said, turning to Andy with a small smirk. “And what, pray tell, has she been saying?”

Andy rolled her eyes.

“All good things, of course,” Lily continued, and the mischievous expression on her face had Andy immediately bracing herself. “She speaks very highly of you. ‘Miranda this, Miranda that.’ Honestly, she can go on and on for hours.”

“Lils!”

“What?” She asked, blinking innocently at her friend while Miranda turned to her lover with an arched eyebrow. “It’s true. I think your record so far is about three--”

“Okay!” Andy interrupted, moving forward and curling her arm around Miranda’s middle. “She’s exaggerating.”

“How disappointing,” Miranda drawled, hiding a smug smirk behind her wine glass. Andy noted with relief how the skin around her eyes had relaxed, her shoulders lost some of their tension. She wasn’t really mad at Lily for exposing her like that - she knew Miranda was pleased, and a lot less nervous than she’d been just a moment ago.

“Too bad,” Andy teased with a smirk.

After Andy got the newcomers a glass of wine each, they all moved to the sofas and armchairs, both couples taking the couches while Doug and Lily settled on the plush armchairs.

“Cassidy and Caroline will be down as soon as they finish their homework,” Andy said, sitting close enough that her thigh brushed Miranda’s.

“Ah, to be thirteen again,” Sebastian said with an easy-going smile, draping his arm over the sofa’s backrest behind Nigel.

“I wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world,” Nigel snarked good-naturedly, taking a sip of wine and moving closer to his husband.

“Me either,” Doug said, tilting his glass towards Nigel.

“Oh, Sebastian, I totally forgot to tell you!” Andy suddenly spoke. “Lily here runs an art gallery.”

“Really?” Sebastian looked across at Lily with interest. “Which one?”

“You know the Leslie-Lohman gallery in Soho?”

“Sure I do! I love that place! I’m a modern art critic and curator, with a few side-gigs as a photographer.”

“Ooh,” Lily exclaimed, and leaned forward in her seat. “Have I seen any of your work?”

“Nah,” he said. “I’m not really the type to expose my photos. I freelance for magazines sometimes, but mostly use it as a hobby. My job is busy enough as it is.”

Lily hummed in understanding.

“What sort of art does your gallery show?” Miranda asked, and Lily jerked her gaze towards her.

“Mostly modern artists, a lot of photographers and painters. Sometimes we show sculptures too, but they’re usually more hassle.”

“Ah, yes, Andrea told me you’re showing the work of an up-and-coming photographer, Lucas something…” Miranda drifted off with a frown.

“Lucas Maher?” Lily guessed.

“Yes, that’s the one. She showed me photos from his website. Are you still displaying his work?”

“We are,” Lily nodded. “If you’re interested, I could get you some free passes?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Andy waved her off. “We’ll need tickets for the girls too. Cassidy has an affinity for photography, and she’d love it.”

“Look at you sounding all motherly,” Doug teased, and Andy blushed. “It suits you.”

“Shut up, Dougie.”

“And what do you do, Douglas?” Miranda turned her full attention to him, and Andy had to bite back a laugh at his deer-caught-in-headlights expression.

“Oh, uh,” he stammered before he composed himself. Andy sympathised with him. Being at the centre of Miranda’s focus could unsettle anyone. She herself had stumbled over her words (and her feet) on countless occasions because of those sharp blue eyes being so intently fixed on her. “I’m an accountant. Math and numbers and such.” He shrugged in a half-hearted manner, his characteristic lack of enthusiasm for his job evident.

“And is it as boring as it sounds?” Miranda drawled. Andy was surprised at the teasing smirk she sent him. Miranda usually only let her playfulness through with people she trusted.

“Oh, believe me,” he grimaced, and took a large, exaggerated gulp of wine. “It’s worse.” They all chuckled at that, and Lily patted her friend on the back.

The conversation was all smooth sailing from there. They touched on many topics, but avoided anything too serious like politics, the press, and Andy’s family. When the girls came downstairs almost an hour later, Nigel was the first to jump up to greet them.

“Well if it isn’t the devilish twins themselves,” he said, and received twin eyerolls in response. “Jeez, you look exactly like your mother when you do that.”

“It’s a perfected craft,” Caroline sassed, but there was a happy grin upon her lips as she walked into his embrace.

“Have you gotten taller since I last saw you?” Nigel said, putting his hands on both their heads and shutting one eye comically.

“You saw us two months ago,” Cassidy said, trying not to laugh.

“I’m guessing wreaking havoc on the press did wonders for your growth,” Sabestian chuckled, greeting them with hugs as well.

“We weren’t that bad.” Caroline crossed her arms, but the mischievous glint in her eye belied any truth in her statement.

“Oh, so you didn’t throw balloons full of raw ingredients at those hapless journalists?”

“And you didn’t make one of them puke when he got some of it in his mouth?” Nigel raised his eyebrows.

“How did you--”

“Andy had the joy of telling us all about your guerilla tactics earlier,” Sebastian shrugged. “To your mother’s chagrin.”

“I don’t condone that sort of behaviour,” Miranda spoke up from her seat on the sofa, sending Andy a meaningful glance. No matter how austere she attempted to look, however, she couldn’t hide the smile twitching at the corners of her lips or the amusement in her eyes.

“Sure you don’t, honey,” Andy said, patting Miranda’s knee before turning to her friends. “Doug, Lily, these are the infamous twins. That one’s Cassidy and that’s Caroline,” she clarified, pointing at each girl in turn.

“Hey,” Lily waved at them.

“Nice to meet you,” Doug sent them that honest, friendly smile of his, and the girls were immediately endeared by it.

“Nice to meet you too,” they said in unison. 

Andy nearly laughed at the expression on her friends’ faces at hearing the words spoken in perfect synch. She’d gotten used to it a while ago, but she remembered how unsettled she was at first.

“Now that we’re all here,” Miranda said, standing up. “Shall we go down for dinner?”

Andy stood up with a grin, reaching out to take Miranda’s hand and lacing their fingers together. Miranda looked at her in fleeting surprise by the action. They rarely indulged in public displays of affection, especially since it was only recently that there was any public to consider. Even in private, they were not overly affectionate like Andy knew some couples to be. It had taken some adjustment on Andy’s part, since in her previous relationships her partners had always been eager to hold her hand or kiss her no matter where they were.

With Miranda, however, the touches were more subtle; a hand at her lower back, her arm or her knee; a kiss on the cheek or on the lips if it was just the two of them; holding hands in the privacy of the townhouse; only cuddling in the sanctuary of their bed or on the sofa after a tiring day. Andrea had learned to cherish these moments, and made her feel like their relationship was all the more special because they didn’t need to be constantly touching in order for their love to feel real.

Now though, surrounded by both their closest friends and the girls, Miranda looked up from their entwined hands and gave her a warm smile, the affection in her blue eyes making Andy’s belly flutter pleasantly. As they led the way down the stairs to the dining room, Andy half-heartedly listened to the conversations between the others, smiling happily at the relaxed, jubilant atmosphere around them. Miranda didn’t let go.

 

.oOo.

 

Dinner, unsurprisingly, was delicious. Andy and Miranda had spent the evening together cooking a perfect beef bourguignon with roasted vegetables, with a salad as a side and a sliced up baguette. Andy had even to make her grandmother’s famous cherry and apple pie for dessert. They both got plenty of compliments from their guests as they all dug in with gusto.

Somehow, the conversation turned against Andy after the third glass of wine, before dessert was even served. Trying to stop Lily and Doug from revealing some of the most embarrassing anecdotes of her past was fruitless, so the only thing left to do was hide from Miranda’s glinting eyes and try to ignore the twins’ cackles, as well as Nigel and Sebastian’s laughter. She groaned and buried her face in her hands.

“And then she tripped and spilled her drink all over the electric output, and the whole grid had a blackout! It took three days for the town to regain any power!” Doug hollered, and laughter erupted from each person at the table, including Miranda.

“We had to live off candles and tinned food,” Lily snorted, patting Andy’s shoulder despite the brunette’s attempt to sink into her chair.

“I tripped over a cable! It could have happened to anyone!” She tried to defend herself, pouting when her comment only made her friends laugh harder.

The twins were staring at her with mischief written all over their face, no doubt jumping on the chance to have more ammunition to tease Andy with. Their mother had a similar expression; she was looking at Andy from across the table, her chin resting upon her hand as she leant her weight on her right elbow. There was a smile curling her lips, and her eyes shone so brightly with a mixture of warmth and amusement that Andy couldn’t fight a self-deprecating grin. If she received such a playful look from her lover, then Andy was willing to compromise her pride. To a certain extent.

“Okay, can we move on now? I think my dignity has been tarnished enough by you two traitorous fiends,” Andy said, standing from her seat. “I’m gonna go get dessert. Girls, can you carry everyone’s plates into the kitchen and help me bring out the dessert ones?”

“Sure thing, clumsy pants,” Caroline said with a teasing grin, jumping out of her seat and helping her sister collect everyone’s dirty dishes.

“Clumsy pants? That’s the best you can do?” Andy fired back, sharing a conspiratorial smile with Miranda as their guests watched the entertaining interaction.

“You’re the one who’s like an ice-skating baby giraffe,” Cassidy said.

“On a planet made of jelly!” Caroline jumped in.

“During an earthquake!” Cassidy finished, high-fiving her sister for their brilliance.

“Wow,” Andy said with a raised eyebrow. “That was marginally better, I guess. But too long winded. The best insults are the ones that are succinct and cut right to the point. Just ask your mother.”

Nigel raised his hand to muffle a snicker, but it was loud enough for Miranda to narrow her eyes at him. The twins giggled at the gesture and quickly followed Andy out of the room before Miranda could turn her glare on them.

Not five minutes later, everyone had a piece of delicious pie. Miranda’s portion was slightly smaller than the rest, and Cassidy and Caroline had made sure to load their plates with as much pie as they were allowed to. When everyone had finished, and after showering Andy with more compliments about her culinary talents, Miranda cleared her throat, and everyone’s attention turned to her.

“Tonight is a rather special occasion. Of course I wanted to meet you both,” she gestured with her wine glass to Doug and Lily, offering them one of her rare, genuine smiles that lit up her face beautifully. Andy caught the way Doug’s hand tightened around the arm of his chair in an attempt to keep from swooning, and she rolled her eyes with a grin. 

“But I also wanted to celebrate two things. Yesterday, the latest Runway issue went to press, and the sales numbers are the best we have gotten in the past ten years,” Miranda announced with a self-satisfied smirk. Andy squealed in delight at the news, waging her fingers at Nigel excitedly, making him grin at the gesture. Then Andy turned her attention to her lover, standing tall and taking a sip of wine with a smug look on her face. “I’m looking forward to rubbing it in Irv’s face come Monday morning.”

Nigel clapped his hands together in schadenfreudian delight at the very notion.

“More importantly,” Miranda continued, her smile becoming one full of joyful relief. “This morning, at last, my divorce was finalised.”

Cheers erupted from their four guests as Andy and the twins grinned happily. Ever since that morning, their little family had felt more at ease, like they no longer had a looming cloud over their heads. When Miranda had told Andy the news, she had launched herself into the older woman’s arms, smothering her with kisses and gleeful cries of exultation. Miranda was sure she’d never had a better post-divorce celebration before.

Nigel reached out to squeeze Miranda’s hand, the delight in his face so genuine that Miranda turned her hand over and squeezed his in return.

“Congratulations, Miranda,” he said, then raised his glass. “May we never see the bastard again.”

“Here, here!” Andy exclaimed, raising her glass too.

Everyone else quickly joined in with cheers of their own. Miranda chuckled as she looked around, feeling elated at the amount of honest smiles directed her way, and one in particular. Andy was glowing with happiness, beaming so brightly that Miranda’s breath caught in her chest. Her lover blew her a kiss, and Miranda took a sip of wine just to feel something against her lips.

Some time later, after the girls had gone to bed and the adults were all winding down in the living room, Miranda sat next to Andrea and took her hand, threading their fingers together.

 

.oOo.

 

“My friends loved you,” Andy said, pulling the covers more firmly over her naked shoulders. “I think Doug nearly passed out multiple times.”

Miranda snorted, running her fingers through her unruly hair, slightly damp with perspiration. She closed her eyes and melted further into the heavenly mattress, releasing a tired, sated sigh. She was completely spent. They’d both indulged in more wine than usual, but they were celebrating, after all. Miranda had even treated herself to a glass of her favourite scotch before bed, and was now in that drowsy, dopey mood she sometimes got when she drank so late in the evening. Especially after spending so much energy in the rather strenuous activity they’d been doing for the past hour and a half.

“I like them,” Miranda said, and was vaguely aware of Andy shuffling closer under the covers. “They’re lovely, and they seem to care for you very much. I highly appreciated all their stories about you.”

“Ugh,” Andy groaned. “I can’t believe they told you about the water hose incident.”

“I had no idea a single person could wreak such havoc on inanimate objects,” Miranda drawled, then squirmed when Andy poked her in the ticklish spot on her side. She shot a withering glare at Andy. “Don’t you dare.”

“Why not?” Andy asked innocently, poking again. She watched with unrestrained mirth as Miranda writhed away from the tickle attack while fighting the giggles that threatened to escape. “You love teasing me, I think it’s payback time.”

“Andrea, I swear on all that is holy,” Miranda growled, finally managing to immobilise Andy’s hands.

Andy laughed. Taunting the dragon was too much fun sometimes, especially when she wasn’t exactly sober, but she knew when to pick her battles.

“Alright, alright,” she relented, lifting both their hands to press two kisses on Miranda’s knuckles. Miranda hummed as Andy’s lips trailed down her fingers, over her palm and down to her wrist. 

“I accept your white handkerchief. Now, come here,” she said, pulling Andy closer until they were wrapped up in each others’ arms, revelling in the expanse of bare, soft skin pressing against hers.

Andy let out a contented sigh, enjoying the weight of Miranda’s head on her shoulder and the fingers tracing nonsensical patterns around her belly button. She reached towards her bedside table and managed to turn off the lamp without disturbing their position. With a smile, she settled more comfortably into place and ran her fingers down the arm that was draped over her abdomen.

“Will you play with my hair?” Miranda mumbled in a quiet, sleepy voice. Andy’s heart melted.

“Of course,” she whispered, running her fingers through soft white hair and lightly scratching Miranda’s scalp.

Miranda let out a contented sigh, purring when Andy ran her short nails over the hair at the nape of her neck.

“Thank you, sunrise.”

“Anything for you, my love.”

Chapter Text

The house was oddly quiet when Miranda stepped through the door, shucking off her heels haphazardly and letting out a sigh of relief. After taking off her coat and flinging her bag towards the table with the flowers, she went about the occasionally challenging task of finding her girls. Leaning over the stair railing to check the upstairs floors for any kind of sign they were up there proved fruitless. There was only one place they could be, then. She made her way towards the kitchen, her shoulders losing some of their tension the further she stepped into her home. 

For the past two months, the townhouse had truly come alive in a way Miranda could have never predicted. Having Andrea there with them every day felt so right, so perfect, that sometimes Miranda wondered what she’d done to deserve this life. It felt surreal to wake up with her every day, to leave Runway each evening already anticipating the night ahead, to fall asleep to the sound of steady breathing and the touch of warm skin. 

More than that, it was such a relief to know that there was another person looking out for her daughters, someone Miranda could trust, someone who loved the twins almost as much as she herself did. For their part, the girls had never taken to any of Miranda's previous partners the way they took to Andrea. They talked to her about everything, from academia to school gossip to boys. Andrea listened in that attentive, unprejudiced way of hers, in the same manner she did with Miranda. She was always eager to do fun things as a family and was more than happy to spend time with the girls one on one even when Miranda wasn’t there.

Andrea was the greatest gift their small family had ever received.

She found the three protagonists of her thoughts in the den. The twins were sprawled across the floor on a pile of pillows while Andrea sat on the armchair overlooking their work. Miranda felt warmth flow through her at the sight of their comfortable familiarity with each other. 

“That’s really good, Cass,” Andrea was saying, threading her fingers through strawberry blonde hair. “This draft reads a lot better than the last one, just make the last few changes and it’ll be ready.”

“Thanks, Andy,” Cassidy said, taking back the sheets of paper with red notes on the margins.

“What about my history paper?” Caroline asked, and Andy smiled proudly at her.

“I was really impressed,” Andrea praised. “I know it’s only your second draft, but it was really good. Have a look at my notes and maybe restructure your last few paragraphs, make the conclusion more cutting, and you’ll be good to go.”

“Thank the lord,” Caroline flopped backwards onto the floor, heaving a theatrical sigh of relief. Andrea watched her with an amused smile.

“You’re almost as melodramatic as your mother,” Andrea chuckled.

“Are my ears burning?” Miranda asked, finally making her presence known while striding towards her family. When brown eyes landed on her, the smile that adorned her lover’s features was so bright that Miranda’s steps nearly faltered.

“Just how long have you been standing there, hm?” Andrea asked, crossing her arms.

“Long enough,” Miranda retorted, sending her a mischievous look before leaning down to place twin kisses on her daughters’ foreheads. “Hello, Bobbseys.”

“Hi, mom,” they said in unison, sending her a smile in greeting before turning back to their homework.

“And where are my kisses?” Andrea asked with a playful pout.

Miranda rolled her eyes, but strolled towards her until she elegantly lowered herself to perch atop the arm of the chair.

“Hello to you, too,” she said, leaning closer with a warm smile.

“Hi,” Andrea grinned, wrapping an arm around Miranda’s middle and craning her neck to plant a sweet kiss upon her lips. “How was your day?”

“The usual,” Miranda waved her hand. “Filled with incompetence. Although Jocelyn proved herself in the runthrough this morning. Wonders never cease, I suppose. And yours?”

“It was pretty good, actually,” Andrea said, relaxing back against the cushion. “It’s good to be back in my studio. My patients are a lot easier to deal with now that things are settling back to normal. Martha and Elise are finally working through their issues, and Paul is doing better, thank God.”

“Good,” Miranda said, nodding in satisfaction. 

Recently, she’d been on the receiving end of multiple heated (often rather amusing) rants about Andrea’s clients. It had been another burden on top of everything else Andrea was dealing with, and Miranda had done her best to help her with the stress of it all. Mutual back rubs had become almost routine by now, and Miranda had decided to take on yoga again after five years of focusing only on pilates, just so she could take private classes with Andrea twice a week. 

Despite the fact that things had improved now and both of them felt a lot more at ease, Miranda was eager to continue with their little zen rituals. They had become a wonderful way for Miranda to decompress with the person she loved most, something to look forward to every day.

“Mom?” Caroline said from her place on the rug.

“Yes, darling?” Miranda asked, snapping out of her reverie.

“Can we have sushi for dinner?”

Miranda closed her eyes and sighed. The girls had become obsessed with sushi ever since Andrea had started living with them, asking to order in at least once or twice per week, and Miranda knew it was all Andrea’s fault for encouraging them and introducing it to them in the first place. 

She couldn’t really pretend to be truly annoyed by it though, especially when a gentle weight leaned against her shoulder and silky hair tickled her bare arms. 

“Alright,” she conceded, and knew without looking that Andrea was grinning in that overly pleased way of hers. “Go order whatever you like. Andrea and I will have the usual, I think.”

“Yes!” Caroline whooped victoriously. Both girls jumped up to their feet and rushed to the kitchen where the take-out pamphlets were stuck to the fridge under magnets from cities all over the world.

“You’ve created monsters,” Miranda accused, looking down at Andrea.

“That’s three on my list now,” Andrea purred, nuzzling Miranda’s neck and squeezing her waist. Against her will, Miranda melted into the tender ministrations and was forced to forgive her.

 

.oOo.

 

“What do you think about accompanying me to a work event?”

Andrea looked up from her book, turning to Miranda at the unexpected question. They were in bed lounging against the headboard. Miranda’s reading glasses sat low on her nose as she stared down at the Book resolutely, trying to act disinterested despite her onslaught of nerves. She hadn’t meant to blurt it out, but she’d been thinking about it lately - what it would feel like to have Andrea on her arm, to introduce her to the movers and shakers of the industry, to feel less alone during the dullness of these mandatory appearances. 

All her previous husbands had detested it, and had left her to her own devices after the first few appearances despite her pleas for their support. She couldn’t exactly blame them - if she had a choice, she wouldn’t attend either. They always drained her after painstakingly displaying a carefully crafted persona. She couldn’t afford for even a millimetre of her facade to slip. All those sharks would leap at any sign of blood in the water, and Miranda could not allow herself to make a single mistake. If Andrea agreed to join her - and if she didn’t back out like all of Miranda’s cowardly husbands - her support would bring such reassurance and empowerment, Miranda was sure it would lift a great weight from her shoulders. 

But she was getting ahead of herself. This was the moment of truth. Andy frowned in contemplation, and Miranda took a deep breath, trying to settle herself as she fixed her eyes on a disappointing display of scarves. To her shame, she also braced herself. She’d learned and grown a lot since meeting Andrea, but part of her was always ready to be disappointed. Old habits die hard, after all.

“Like, to galas and stuff?” Andrea asked, her intense gaze fixed on Miranda profile.

Miranda swallowed, and nodded silently.

“I’d love to.”

Blinking in surprise, Miranda finally lifted her focus away from her work and turned to her lover. The honest, excited expression on Andrea’s face was enough to make most of her anxiety dissolve like clouds of smoke. Relief washed over her, but she still felt apprehensive. She doubted Andrea fully understood what she was agreeing to.

“Really?” She asked. “You want to draw attention to yourself from more press, put on fake smiles and play nice with insufferable men and women that are twenty percent fake tans and eighty percent fake personalities?”

Andrea snorted at that, shaking her head amusedly at Miranda’s scathing wit. “I’m curious about that part of your job. All that glitz and glamour. And also,” she reached over to take Miranda’s hand in hers, threading their fingers together. “I want to be wherever you are. I don’t care if it’s in the privacy of our home or in the middle of a ballroom crawling with vultures.”

“Oh,” Miranda said. She blinked again, feeling almost lightheaded. That was by far one of the most romantic things anyone had ever said to her. “Right,” she managed to say lamely, feeling a blush rise over her chest and up her neck at her inability to speak more words than that. 

Out of the two of them, Andrea was the one most inclined to beautiful declarations of love, while Miranda usually struggled to put the depth of her feelings into words. She’d felt inadequate at the beginning of their relationship, but after opening up to Andrea about it - and her lover’s adamant reassurances that she knew Miranda loved her with every look and every action, that words were unnecessary when her feelings were so crystal clear - she hadn’t felt so lacking. Andrea’s continued affinity to effortlessly say the most moving, poetic phrases, however, left Miranda speechless time and again.

Andrea simply chuckled at Miranda’s wordlessly awed reaction and leaned close to kiss her cheek.

“Just let me know when and what to wear,” she said with an easy grin before her expression turned sly, a lascivious glint in her eye. She leaned even closer, pressing deliciously against Miranda’s side. “I’ll be your escort any time you want.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “You’re insufferable.”

Andrea laughed, and Miranda relaxed fully against the pillows at last.

“And yet you love me anyways,” Andrea teased.

“Heavens give me strength,” Miranda muttered, but her heart lightened at the warm smile directed at her. “Now get off me, temptress. I have work to do.”

 

.oOo.

 

By the look on Andrea’s face, she had clearly underestimated how grand this gala would be. As the car wove its way to a stop at the beginning of the red carpet surrounded by swarms of photographers, Miranda watched Andrea visibly swallow, her colour draining slightly from her face.

“Uh, Miranda?” Andrea said, instinctively reaching for her hand. “When you said ‘small work event’, is this what you meant?”

She supposed that for someone who was unaccustomed to Miranda’s way of life, this gala would indeed be above the scale of “small”. A gentle squeeze of her hand had Andrea moving her eyes away from the window and turning to look at Miranda. She offered the younger woman a supportive smile and soothingly ran her thumb over Andrea’s knuckles.

“It’ll be alright, darling,” she reassured. “Just follow my lead.”

Andrea nodded as their driver opened Miranda’s door for her. The moment she stepped out of the car, the boisterous paparazzi thundered with raised voices shouting her name and cameras flashing like raging lightning. The chaos doubled when Miranda turned back to the open door, her hand extended gallantly, and Andrea grasped it as she got out of the car beside Miranda. The grip on her hand was almost painfully tight, so Miranda leaned close to make sure Andrea heard her over the cacophony around them.

“You look beautiful, my love.”

Andrea looked at her, and for a moment seemed to forget about their surroundings. Miranda’s words were spoken in absolute truth, and it wasn’t the first time she said them aloud tonight. Andrea did look beautiful. More so than usual, that is. She wore the deep red gown that Miranda had given her so many months ago as part of her big apology, with the backless cut and skirt slit showing tantalising glimpses of skin. It perfectly complemented Miranda’s own signature black, off-the-shoulder gown that flawlessly hugged her figure, with intricate red flowers stitched into the hemline and threading up her right leg towards her hip. 

Apart from Andrea’s dress, Miranda had bought her lover five inch Louboutins and golden earrings, a bracelet and a ring to accessorise the gold details at the high collar of the beautiful dress. She had even brought Serena to the townhouse to do Andrea’s make-up and hair for the event. Who knew the woman had such talent for more than just fashion layouts? Andrea’s face looked naturally beautiful, her features perfectly accentuated by the eye shadow, lipstick, and the loose curls that framed her face, falling freely from the elegant bun at the nape of her neck.

When she first laid eyes on Andrea all dressed up and ready less than an hour ago, she’d felt breathless, almost light-headed by the sight. The moment Andrea had appeared at the top of the staircase of their home, Miranda had been unable to look away. As the divine woman took measured, careful steps down the stairs towards her waiting lover, a shy, gratified smile had graced her lips at Miranda’s slack-jawed reverence. Andrea was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Her chest tightened almost painfully at how much she loved her, how lucky she was to have her love in return.

Now, gazing at her partner at the edge of the red carpet with hundreds of camera flashes reflecting in the dark irises of Andrea’s eyes, Miranda felt the same sensation almost make her swoon again. Miranda could not be more grateful and proud to have Andrea by her side. With a determined straightening of her shoulders, Miranda sent her a small, secret smile before leading them down the red carpet. Their hands never let go.

They made their way past the hoards of reporters, the flashing lights almost blinding in their wake. Miranda drowned out the sound of the press, choosing instead to focus her attention on the woman at her side. She could see Andrea’s nerves and uneasiness clear as day, but with each step towards the building the younger woman’s smile became less strained. Every time they had to stop to pose briefly for the cameras, Miranda made sure to distract her lover with comments and witty remarks that Andrea seemed grateful for. She was sure there would be many stunning photos of Andrea laughing despite how far away from her comfort zone she was. 

When there were only a few steps to reach the wide arch doorway leading into the venue, Miranda reached up to push a stray curl away from Andrea’s face. Her brown eyes looked at Miranda with such softness and such warmth that Miranda didn’t even notice the roar of reporters scrambling to capture the Ice Queen’s uncharacteristically tender gesture on camera.

“Oh my God,” Andrea said as soon as they made their way inside. “That was insane.”

Miranda fought back a chuckle. Now that they were away from the vultures, Andrea seemed significantly less nervous. For Miranda, the worst part was yet to come.  

“How long were we out there for?” Andrea asked, gesturing vaguely towards the entrance.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe five, ten minutes, tops?” Miranda guessed.

“Jeez,” Andrea said, huffing out a breath. “Felt more like an hour.”

“And I’m the dramatic one,” Miranda said, smirking when Andrea narrowed her eyes at her in jest.

“Ladies,” a voice came from their right, and they turned to find Nigel grinning at them as he approached.

“Nigel!” Andrea exclaimed, delighted to find a friendly face. She quickly hugged him, releasing a breath as he patted her shoulder.

“Hello yourself,” he said, smirking at Miranda over her shoulder before pulling back. “You look absolutely gorgeous, my dear.”

“Sweet talker.” Andrea nudged him with her elbow. “You clean up pretty good, too.”

“I better!” Nigel chuckled. “Miranda would fire me if I turned up looking anything other than perfect.”

“Nonsense,” Miranda huffed in reproach, but gave him air kisses anyways. “Is Sebastian here?”

“Yeah, he’s gone to get us some drinks.”

“Smart man.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Miranda watched Andrea look around with admiration and curiosity. She wondered, for a moment, if Andrea would hate events like these as much as her ex-husbands had. As much as she herself did, for that matter.

“Andrea.”

“Hm?” Her lover turned to face her, focusing all her attention on her.

“Shall we get some drinks and find my usual place before people start harassing us?”

“Oh, of course, yeah. Lead the way.”

Miranda smiled at her and placed a hand on the small of her back, just below where the dress stitched together.

“Find us later, won’t you, Nigel?” She asked, but Nigel understood it was more of a command than a request. He was well aware how much she relied on him to save her from the onslaught of people that always accosted her at these events.

“Of course,” he nodded, sending one last encouraging smile to Andrea.

“Come, darling,” Miranda said, and led her to her usual place at the far end of the room near the stairs. As soon as other guests saw her approach, they stepped aside like the sea parted before Moses, some even giving little nods and bows towards Miranda.

“Is this how people usually treat you?” Andrea asked, incredulous. 

“Yes,” Miranda stated simply, and immediately took two glasses of wine from a passing waiter. “Here.”

“Thanks,” Andrea said, taking the offered glass and sipping eagerly as she looked around. A flash of red hair caught her attention, and suddenly Emily was rushing through the crowd towards them as composed as she could manage.

“Miranda,” she breathed once she stood in front of them. “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t expecting you until nine.”

“Trivial excuses don't become you, Emily,” Miranda sniffed indifferently. She was not about to explain to her assistant that the sooner she arrived, the sooner she could leave.

Emily looked rightfully chagrined. Her eyes looked away from Miranda's and widened in shock when they landed, as if by accident, on Andrea. Without missing a beat, Andrea grinned in that friendly way of hers like she didn't even notice the redhead's dismayed surprise.

“Hi, Em! Good to see you!” she said in a syrupy-sweet tone. Miranda fought back a smirk.

It was incredibly amusing to watch a flustered Emily stumble over her words, though Miranda would never reveal such a thing. She knew Emily hated it when Andrea called her that, and that she was adamantly trying to dislike Andrea as per her standoffish British persona. Emily was also terrified of Miranda, however, and thus very careful with her words in her presence. She would never speak to Andrea in her usual manner with Miranda around, so she simply blushed with barely concealed temper and gave a fake, rather unpleasant crocodile smile. Miranda wondered where she’d learned to smile like that.

“It’s nice to see you too, Andrea,” Emily said politely, her smile fake enough for Andrea to get the message.

Without waiting even a second for a response, the Brit took her usual place beside Miranda, a few paces back. Andrea chuckled quietly.

“Never a dull moment with that one,” she murmured under her breath, and Miranda was compelled to agree. “So, what happens now?”

“Now it begins,” Miranda took a breath and straightened her shoulders. She put on her game face, building up her facade until her features were frozen into their cordial, emotionless expression. Andrea noticed the change and discretely reached out to squeeze her hand. Miranda’s face did not change in the slightest, but she sent her a sidelong glance and squeezed back briefly before letting go.

Perhaps the next thirty minutes would not be so terrible after all.

 

.oOo.

 

“Miranda!” A shrill voice rang out, and Miranda closed her eyes with a groan.

Andrea moved closer, lightly touching her elbow. “Is that--?”

“Yes, it is,” Miranda said. “Brace yourself, darling,” she advised, and did the same as she watched the hurricane of a woman make her way through the throngs of people towards them. 

It was coming to the end of Miranda’s mandatory appearance, and Andrea had been far better than she could have ever imagined. Not only did her soothing presence and softly spoken remarks help Miranda feel less uneasy and apprehensive, she also charmed everyone around her. She had read up on some of the attendees (Miranda suspected that she had coerced Emily into helping her in that regard) and struck up far more interesting conversations than Miranda was used to partaking in at these events. In doing so, she released some of the burden Miranda always carried to be the centre of attention, for which the editor was incredibly grateful.

Andrea had even been nice to Irv despite all that she knew about the insufferable man. She’d immediately torn down any measures of attack he had by asking him about The Manhattan Magazine and his influence in its editorial successes. His bewildered expression had amused Miranda greatly, and he had blinked owlishly at her before indulging in an enlightening conversation with Andrea that was surely the opposite of what he’d expected from the interaction.

Overall, it had been a successful evening, and Andrea had proven herself the perfect companion. Now, however, their night was about to be tested by the most needlessly theatrical person Miranda had ever met.

“Barbra,” she greeted as she air kissed the blonde.

“Miranda, darling, you look divine,” Barbra Streisand grinned, squeezing Miranda’s forearms as she gave her a once over. Before Miranda could respond in any way, the woman turned to Andrea with an eager look in her eye. Miranda felt the urge to step between them and protect Andrea from whatever Brabra was planning, but it was to late.

“You must be Andrea,” she said, grabbing Andrea’s hands and pulling her close for air kisses. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you!”

“Oh, um, thank you,” Andrea managed to say. “It’s lovely to meet you too.”

“I mean, honestly!” Barbra exclaimed, and exchanged looks between the two of them. “Imagine my face when I open the newspaper one day and find out that Miranda has gotten herself a gorgeous lady lover. Miranda, of all people!”

Andrea’s eyes widened before she sent a fleeting, helpless look towards Miranda. 

“Barbra--” Miranda stepped forward, trying to come to her lover’s rescue, but Barbra still had Andrea’s hands clasped in hers.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, dear, I’m so pleased to see her happy. It was just so unexpected! And then those vultures kept chasing you everywhere, it built up quite the intrigue about you two and how your relationship happened. I’m curious as to how a beautiful, intelligent young woman - a psychologist, no less! - somehow ended up in a romantic relationship with the feared dragon lady,” Barbra leaned forward with a conspiratorial smirk.

“That’s enough, Barbra,” Miranda said with a roll of her eyes. She slapped the older woman’s hands away before wrapping a protective arm around Andrea. "Honestly, you get worse and worse with age."

“Uh,” Andrea said, looking from one woman to the other. “Miranda?”

“I’m so sorry, darling,” Miranda apologised with a brief touch upon a smooth cheek. “She's just messing with you.”

“Nonsense, I really am curious!” The woman in question proclaimed indignantly. “Miranda here has refused to tell me anything, not even the smallest detail about your relationship. And believe me, I tried to bribe her with all kinds of alcohol. Wine, gin, whiskey, vodka. Even rum for goodness' sake!” 

“I already told you, our relationship pertains to us and us alone,” Miranda drawled.

“You’re no fun,” Barbra pouted and stared at Miranda for a long, silent moment in a presumably intimidating manner. Miranda simply raised a derisive eyebrow until her friend huffed a defeated breath. “Oh, alright. Fine. But really, dear, I’m very happy for you.” She took Miranda’s free hand with an honest expression before turning her gaze to Andrea. “You seem absolutely lovely, and my old friend here has been miserable with men for far too long. It’s about time she found someone worthy. I know I don’t know you very well at all, but every time your name comes up in conversation, this one here lights up like a firework on the fourth of July.” Andrea snickered, sending a smug grin at her lover while Miranda pinched her nose in that aggravated manner of hers. “I’ll let you two get back to it now, I know how eager Miranda is to leave these little gatherings. But, please, let’s have dinner at some point, alright? Or drinks, at least.”

“Yes, yes,” Miranda waved her off. “I’ll let you know.”

“Good. Wonderful to meet you at last, Andrea. Take care of this old crow, alright?” With that, as quickly as she’d arrived, Barbra Streisand disappeared, leaving a gaping Andrea and a partly amused, partly vexed Miranda behind. 

“Well,” Andrea said after a moment of baffled silence. “That was… something.”

“Indeed,” Miranda hummed, still staring at Barbra’s retreating form.

“Are you two close?”

“We meet every few months or so. I keep away from her the rest of the time. It’s why our friendship works.”

“Right,” Andrea nodded, but the mystified expression on her face remained as she turned to look at Miranda.

“What?” Miranda said after a moment too long of her scrutiny. 

“Nothing,” Andrea shrugged. “She’s just… well. And you're… well. It’s a funny thing to imagine the two of you at a bar together having drinks.”

“Well,” Miranda parroted with a drawl. “Give it time and you’ll find out for yourself.”

“Can’t wait,” Andrea grinned, and didn’t think before leaning close and planting a kiss on Miranda’s cheek. “Oh,” she said as soon as she realised. “Sorry, um--”

“It’s alright,” Miranda gave her a small smile in reassurance, but a faint, traitorous blush rose to her cheeks. She knew people were always looking at her at any given time, and cameras were an easy commodity on phones nowadays. Regardless, Miranda did not reproach Andrea for the gesture. It was sweet and innocent enough. Straight couples did it all the time, so why shouldn’t they?

“No, I- I, uh, got lipstick on your cheek,” Andrea bit her lip, and Miranda pursed hers. 

That was another matter entirely.

“Well, you best try to get it off then,” Miranda raised an eyebrow, and tilted her chin towards Andrea.

That is how Nigel and Sebastian found them, with an apologetic Andrea rubbing away lipstick from an exasperated Miranda’s cheek.

“I see the night is going well for you two,” Nigel said, earning himself a stern glare from his boss.

“Here.” Sebastian offered Andrea a handkerchief.

“You’re a lifesaver, Sebs,” she breathed out appreciatively and got back to work.

“So, I saw Barbra sniffing around you two earlier,” Nigel said as nonchalantly as he knew how. “How did that go?”

“As well as you’d expect it to,” Miranda retorted drily.

“Ah, so you’ll be seeing her again soon enough?” Sebastian snickered.

“Eventually.”

“She asked us out to dinner, or maybe drinks,” Andrea added. “Either way, I get the feeling I’m gonna need the help of some strong booze to keep up with that one.”

“I usually go straight for the vodka,” Miranda said. Nigel hummed in agreement. 

“There, all gone,” Andrea announced with a quirk of her lips.

“Thank heavens.” Nigel clapped once. “For a moment there, you looked like you were in a very different sort of establishment, Miranda.”

The frosty glare Miranda sent him was enough to make him snap his mouth closed with an audible click of teeth. She didn't deign the comment with an answer. Instead, she turned to an amused Andrea, feeling her patience for this place finally giving out. She wanted to be at home where she and Andrea could be completely themselves and not worry what others might see or think.

“We should go,” Miranda said before turning to a gobsmacked Emily, who had been regarding their interactions with widened eyes. As soon as the assistant realised she was under Miranda’s scrutiny, however, she did her best to compose herself and straightened like a soldier ready for her sergeant’s orders.

“I expect the car to be outside in no more than two minutes.”

“Yes, Miranda.”

“Are you two coming for dinner next week?” Andrea asked Nigel and Sebastian.

“You can count on it,” Sebastian smiled at her as she handed back his handkerchief. The two of them had bonded over being the partners of such peculiar, high-strung, fashionable people with such demanding jobs, and they were now thick as thieves. Miranda and Nigel had watched them become increasingly closer friends with a sense of impending doom, but so far the worst thing to happen was many a teasing jest and several whispered, bemused conversations. 

“Awesome, I’ll make sure to bake another pie,” Andrea beamed.

“Ooh, yes please,” Nigel said, flinging his arm around Andrea’s shoulder before sending a teasing look at Miranda. “I don’t know where you found her, but if you don’t keep her, I will.”

Miranda rolled her eyes and resolutely ignored the quiet snickers from the other three.

“Andrea, shall we?” She asked, and offered her arm gallantly with a meaningful glare at Nigel.

“Sure,” Andrea said, taking a hold of Miranda’s arm. “Goodbye, gentlemen.” She bowed comically, much to their amusement, and then sent an overly enthusiastic grin over her shoulder at Emily. “Bye, Em! Until next time!”

Miranda’s lips twitched at the indignant huff that came from behind them as they made their way through the ball room.

“You do so love to push her buttons,” Miranda said.

“She’s just too easy!” Andrea defended herself, but there was a smile curling her beautiful lips.

“Don’t I know it,” Miranda chuckled, and led them out into the brisk night air.

 

.oOo.

 

When they stepped into the townhouse, Miranda shed her shawl and kicked her heels off with a relieved sigh. She began to walk toward the kitchen, eager for a glass of her favourite whiskey, when she noticed Andrea’s unmoving form at the entrance. Brown eyes were looking around, taking in the portraits on the walls, the flower vases on the tables, the soft carpet cascading down the stairs. There was an intensely thoughtful expression on her face that Miranda could not understand.

“Darling?” she asked, jerking her lover out of her stupor.

“Sorry,” Andrea mumbled with a small, jittery smile. “It's just…”

“What is it?” Miranda quickly stepped forward, taking soft hands in hers. The journey home had been silent due to Miranda's need for peace and quiet to recharge after the event, but she hadn't noticed any changes in Andrea's mood.

“I just- I feel so at home here,” Andrea confessed with such sincerity that Miranda’s breath hitched at the raptured expression on her face. “Every time I walk through the door, every time I get to finish my day with you and the girls… I just feel like I belong here, you know?”

“Oh,” Miranda breathed, and pulled Andrea into her arms. She buried her face in the elegant neck that she loved to nuzzle so much, breathing in Andrea’s familiar scent. “You do belong here. Of course you do.”

She felt Andrea’s lips curl into a smile against the sensitive skin of her shoulder. It sent pleasant tingles down Miranda's back, and she held her tighter as Andrea pulled back to kiss her jaw, then her cheek, and finally her lips. Even after so many months of this, she still felt overwhelmed by the softness of Andrea.

“Move in with us,” Miranda murmured before she could second-guess the proposal. “I want you to be with us definitively.”

Andrea pulled back to look into her eyes, searching for something Miranda didn’t know how to express with mere words. She watched with bated breath as Andrea’s face slowly transformed into a beaming smile, so beautiful in its unfiltered joy that Miranda felt it in the deepest crevice of her chest.

“Yes,” Andrea nodded eagerly, the curls around her face bouncing endearingly with the gesture. “Oh, Miranda, yes. I’d love that. I love you.”

Miranda’s own smile was so uncharacteristically bright that she felt it strain against her cheeks, but she could not stop it even if she wanted to. She pulled Andrea against her, revelling in the feeling of their bodies pressing together, in the sheer magnitude of the happiness and love that consumed her all at once.

“Andy’s moving in with us?” a voice asked from somewhere above them. “Like, for real this time?”

Miranda grinned against Andrea's collarbone before turning in Andrea’s embrace, the strong arms never breaking their hold around her waist. With a pleased smile, she leaned back into Andrea’s front and looked up. The girls were at the top of the stairs in their mismatched pajamas, staring at them with hopeful, expectant expressions.

“Yes, Bobbsey,” Miranda said. "Andrea is moving in."

“Finally,” Caroline drawled before turning to her sister. “You owe me twenty bucks.”

“I do not!” Cassidy exclaimed in outrage. Miranda could hear Andrea’s quiet chuckle behind her ear. “The bet was three months!”

“Andy ‘moved in’ three months and five days ago, dummy,” Caroline nudged her with her elbow. "Pay up."

“Damn it,” Cassidy crossed her arms and scowled. At her sister’s overly-smug expression, she stuck her tongue out.

“Girls,” Miranda intervened before the situation could escalate. She pulled Andrea along by the hand as she made her way up the stairs. “Enough of that, now. Off to bed, both of you. It’s late.”

“We wanted to see how the gala went.”

“Yeah, did everything go okay? Did you have fun Andy?” Cassidy asked gingerly. Both Miranda and Andrea felt touched at the clear concern evident in identical faces.

“Everything was fine, girls,” Andrea soothed, ruffling Cassidy's hair in her usual playful manner. “It was fun. I got to meet lots of people, and Nigel and Sebastian were there. I can't wait for the next one.”

Miranda looked at her in surprise for a moment, before her expression softened. She felt warmth spread in her chest. Andrea, like in everything else, would definitely not be like Miranda's ex-husbands.

“Oh, good,” Cassidy said, her shoulders slumping in relief. Caroline’s posture eased too, even though she was not as forthcoming with her reaction to Andrea’s statement.

“Now that we got that cleared up,” Miranda said. “Off to bed with you. We’re very tired and tomorrow is our picnic day, remember?”

At that, the girls brightened significantly. They swiftly kissed their cheeks goodnight before quickly making their way up to their bedrooms. Before Caroline was completely out of sight, she turned around and said over her shoulder,

“You both look really pretty, by the way. The red carpet photos are great.”

Before either Miranda or Andrea could answer, she made a brisk retreat into the safety of her bedroom. Andrea looked at Miranda questioningly.

“They published photos of us already?”

“The pace of online reporting should never be underestimated, my dear,” Miranda drawled, and led the way to their bedroom.

After changing out of their luxurious dresses into comfortable pyjamas, taking off their makeup and moisturising their skin as per Miranda's strict skin care routine, they finally crawled into bed. Andrea let out a groan as she sunk into the pillows propped up against the headboard.

“How do you deal with wearing those kinds of heels all the time?” Andrea asked as she rubbed her aching feet. “They’re basically torture devices.”

Miranda chuckled. “You get used to them. And they make my legs look divine.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Andrea said, giving the legs in question an appreciative once over.

“Here,” Miranda said, grabbing the bottle of lotion on her bedside table and moving to the bottom of the bed. “Let me.”

Andrea let out a sigh as Miranda took her right foot into her dexterous hands and began diligently massaging the pain away. Strong fingers knew exactly where to rub and press until Andrea was practically a puddle of bliss.

“Make yourself useful and search for the photos Caroline mentioned, would you?” Miranda asked, her arm muscles flexing with her effort.

“Your wish is my command.” Andrea sent her a teasing smile before reaching for her phone and doing a quick Google search. “Oh, wow,” she breathed as soon as she saw the images displayed. “Caroline wasn’t kidding.”

“Let me see,” Miranda crawled up to sit beside her lover and looked over her shoulder. “Oh.”

She felt the air leave her in a rush. The photos were more than just beautiful. They both looked so incredible together that it made Miranda’s heart squeeze painfully in her chest. Andrea was resplendent in all of them, of course, and the great majority showed Miranda’s eyes focused on her partner like Andrea held the wonders of the universe. 

Miranda had never seen herself like this before. There was a photo of her pushing Andrea's lock of hair away from her face at the entrance to the venue. Miranda's eyes showed such vulnerable adoration that she finally understood why Andrea had never doubted Miranda's feelings despite her inability to put them into words. They were crystal clear, written all over her face for the world to see. She looked so in love, even though she could have sworn she’d been her usual cold, emotionless self every step of the red carpet.

One photo in particular caught her eye even more than the rest, and Miranda reached over and tapped it so they could see it in full screen.

“Oh, yes,” she breathed reverently.

Miranda knew she was going to get this one printed, framed, and hung up in this very room. It showed them standing side by side, so close their sides were pressed together with Miranda’s arm wrapped around Andrea’s waist. She didn’t remember what she’d said, but she must have made a rather witty comment, because Andrea had her head thrown back in laughter, her beaming smile and mirthful eyes lighting up the entire scene. Next to her, Miranda looked at Andrea, a small smile curling her lips, and her eyes. They were soft and warm, filled with tenderness as she gazed at the beautiful sight of Andrea. 

It took Miranda’s breath away to see the visual proof of the effect Andrea had on her, how palpable the love between them was, how incredibly happy they looked together. It was such an honest moment, an infinitesimal second frozen in time that showed the world the real Miranda Priestly.

“I love it,” Andrea whispered, sounding as mesmerised by it as Miranda felt. “We need to get it framed.”

Miranda looked at the woman sitting next to her in wonder. She took in the features she loved so much, the full eyebrows and dark eyes, the smooth cheekbones and full lips. Andrea turned to her and tilted her head questioningly at the profound emotion on Miranda’s face as she gazed at her.

“What?” she asked.

Instead of wasting time fruitlessly searching for any words that could do justice to the depth of feeling that overwhelmed her, Miranda closed the distance between them and kissed her with as much love as she could express by touch alone. Andrea smiled into the kiss, blindly flinging her phone towards the bedside table before wrapping her arms around Miranda’s shoulders and pulling her even closer.

As fingers threaded through her hair and caressed her neck, Miranda could not contain the infinite gratitude she felt for being blessed with the love of her life.

 

.oOo.

 

“It looks so empty.”

Miranda looked up from the box of magazines and DVDs at the sound of Andrea’s voice. Glancing around the previously full space, she had to agree with her lover ’s statement. The once lively apartment looked so barren after she and Andrea had packed almost everything into carefully labelled boxes. Miranda warily studied the woman sitting cross-legged on the floor a few feet in front of her, putting away the last of her books and photo albums.

“Are you certain you want to leave this behind?” Miranda waved at the empty bookshelf, but she knew Andrea would understand what she was really asking.

Brown eyes found hers, and Miranda watched with bated breath as a beautiful smile slowly curled the edges of her lips.

“Yes,” Andrea answered. “It feels right. I loved living here, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore.”

Miranda’s shoulders lost the tension they had been carrying with them for the past ten days. Part of it was due to Miranda’s fears and reservations regarding the move. What if they were rushing into it after all? What if, in her eagerness and need to have Andrea close, she had inadvertently doomed their relationship by pushing them in a direction they were not yet ready for?

She had not voiced any of this to Andrea. The younger woman seemed confident in their decision, very much looking forward to being a permanent part of the Priestly household. Miranda supposed that showed just how much faith Andrea had in their relationship. Perhaps Miranda could do the same. 

The stack of boxes by the front door served to drive home how real this all was. Miranda was blissfully in love with the best person she had ever met, and they were going to build a future together no matter what. Come what may, they would work through it together, just like they had done so many times before.

“Alright,” Miranda said simply, and continued to finish packing the box with newfound determination and hope.

Once they had finished with their respective boxes, Andrea sprawled back onto the hardwood floor, exhausted.

“Let’s call it a night, shall we? We can finish the rest tomorrow.” Miranda suggested. “Why don’t you order us some dinner?”

“Sure,” Andrea lazily snatched her phone from its place next to her on the floor. “Anything in particular?”

“Whatever you want is fine by me.” Miranda stood up as gracefully as she could, ignoring the strain in her knees from sitting on the floor for so many hours. She made sure Andrea was distractedly scrolling through the multitude of food delivery apps on her phone before sneaking out to the terrace.

Taking a deep, cleansing breath, Miranda let the soothing atmosphere of this particular place wash over her. Before she could let herself get swept up in all the wonderful memories that fluttered through her mind, she hastily made work of the last few things that remained to be packed. She’d made sure that the fairy lights, candles, table and lounge chairs were not packed or taken to charities with the other objects. Her plans for tonight needed certain familiar elements to it. 

She quickly lit the candles and turned on the fairy lights before plugging her phone into the portable bluetooth speaker. She’d made a playlist especially for tonight with all the soft, romantic songs she and Andrea loved to listen to when they were quietly working side by side, cooking, or even making love. The velvety notes of a jazzy saxophone and accompanying piano filled the air just as Andrea stepped out.

“I went for thai food, I hope that’s- oh,” Andrea looked around in surprise, a smile curling her lips. “Miranda, did you plan this?”

“Perhaps,” Miranda smirked at her, then led her by the hand to the edge of the terrace overlooking the park. The sunset painted the sky in strokes of orange and red, pink and blue, leaving tendrils of warmth on Miranda’s skin like the last embers of a fire. “I can’t wait for the renovations at the house to be over so we can have a place just like this on the rooftop.”

“Fell in love with it, did ya?” Andrea grinned at her.

“I fell in love with more than just the terrace,” Miranda said with a warm smile. Andrea reached up to gently brush her forelock away when a soft breeze draped it over her eye. “This place is where it all began. It’s where I fell in love with you.”

Andrea’s eyes softened at that, her expression so tender as she gazed at Miranda that the editor felt her chest tighten. Instead of answering, Andrea wrapped her arms around her, holding her close and leaning her head on Miranda’s shoulder. Miranda buried her hand in Andrea’s long tresses, revelling in the sensation of silky hair around her fingers. They stood in a silence filled with understanding and comfort as they watched the night fall upon the city bellow.

A short, wonderful eternity later, the doorbell rang, and Andrea reluctantly let Miranda go. “That’ll be the food.” 

If it were anyone else apart from her children, Miranda would make a snarky comment about unnecessarily stating the obvious. But this was Andrea. Instead of her usual coldness, she simply followed her into the apartment and quickly grabbed utensils, two glasses, and a bottle of wine to set the table. While she poured their wine, Andrea placed the three food tupperwares on the small table. The heady aroma made Miranda’s stomach rumble in anticipation.

“Hungry, are we?” Andrea said with a teasing smirk, and Miranda playfully narrowed her eyes at her. Andrea chuckled. “Bon appetit.”

“À toi aussi, ma chérie,” Miranda purred in perfect French, knowing how much it delighted Andrea to hear her speak it. She was rewarded by the hints of a rosy blush blooming upon Andrea’s cheeks.

The food was, as anticipated, delicious, and the wine made it taste even better. They ate in comfortable silence, enjoying the music in the air around them and the peacefulness after almost an entire day of gruelling work.

“Thank you for helping me today,” Andrea said as she placed down her fork and leaned back in her seat. “I really appreciate you being here.”

“Well I wasn’t going to send Emily,” Miranda drawled, but sent Andrea a cheeky smile. She dabbed at her mouth with her napkin one last time, grabbed her glass and the bottle, and made her way to one of the lounge chairs. “Come. Lay with me.”

Andrea grinned and grabbed her own glass before hastily making her way over. She squeezed herself into the small space next to Miranda, pressing her body so close that Miranda wiggled slightly to make more room for her. Thankfully, the chairs were just big enough for the two of them, and they were able to get comfortable and finish the last of their wine wrapped around each other.

The music changed, and the first notes of Miranda’s favourite song began to fill the air around them. It was the same song that had played that night so many months ago, when Andrea kissed her for the first time.

"You changed my life right here almost a year ago,” Miranda said softly, holding Andrea closer and breathing in the familiar scent of her perfume.

Andrea turned just enough to be able to look into Miranda’s eyes. The flickering lights of the candles shone in the dark irises with such mesmerising beauty that Miranda could not look away.

“You changed mine, too,” Andrea answered, and ran her fingertips over Miranda’s cheek.

Miranda knew she didn’t need to say anything. There was no need to put her indescribable feelings into inadequate words anymore. She simply leaned closer and tenderly brushed her lips over Andrea’s. Warmth enveloped her as it always did at the touch of Andrea’s lips, the taste of wine on her tongue, the feeling of soft fingertips on her skin. 

She could never live without this. She could hardly understand how she'd spent all her life without Andrea in it, but now that she has been blessed with her, Miranda knew she would do anything to keep her.

In this moment, under the faint light of the stars and the candles, with the symphony of their beginning and the promise of their future, Miranda knew she’d found her happiness.

Chapter Text

Five Years Later

 

Miranda is awakened by a delicate touch upon her cheek. Her eyes flutter open to the blue hue of pre-dawn light, the sound of birds chirping outside the window a blissful contrast to the constant noise pollution of the city. As her senses come awake, she takes in the scent of Andrea, the feeling of smooth skin against hers, the softness of her chest under Miranda’s cheek.

“Good morning,” Andrea says, running her fingers through Miranda’s hair.

“Hmm,” Miranda purrs, burrowing closer and shutting her eyes again.

“Sleep well?”

“Like a baby,” Miranda mumbles, her voice deep and husky from slumber.

Andrea chuckles. The sound reverberates against Miranda’s ear in a pleasant, familiar sensation.

“Come on, let me go get us some coffee," Andrea says, trying to pull away.

“No,” Miranda growls, and stubbornly tightens her hold on Andrea's waist. “Too early.”

“But you love coffee,” Andrea points out.

Miranda makes a non-committal noise. “Believe it or not, there are certain things I like more than coffee.”

“You must like this a lot then, huh?” Andrea's teasing voice is laden with playfulness as she nuzzles Miranda's shoulder.

“Your observation skills are so impressive, Mr. Holmes,” Miranda drawls, earning an amused snicker from her lover.

“Come on, I have plans for us before the twins get up. I’m not missing our yearly tradition because you decided to stay in bed. I can cuddle you later,” Andrea insists, pushing Miranda off her despite her protests. Andrea smirks at her once she manages to get out of bed while Miranda glares at her from under the covers. “Have I ever told you that you look like a disgruntled cat when you look at me like that?”

With an indignant huff, Miranda reluctantly rolls out of bed and pulls on her robe. Andrea grins at her, but wisely chooses to cease her teasing. Instead, she takes Miranda’s hand and pulls her out of the bedroom, down the wooden stairs, and into the open-plan kitchen. Miranda leans on the oakwood island as she watches Andrea work the coffee machine, muffling her tired yawns into the sleeves of her gown.

“There,” Andrea says as she presents Miranda with her cup of very strong, centre-of-the-sun hot coffee. She leans forward and kisses Miranda’s forehead, giving her an affectionate smile before brushing past her with a hand on her lower back. “Now come on, we might miss it.”

Sipping her coffee gratefully and trying to wake herself up fully, Miranda follows Andrea out onto the front porch. Miranda takes a deep breath of fresh, clean air. The symphony of bird songs around them sounds clearer now, and Miranda smiles. They sit side by side on the ample swing sofa, huddling close and sinking into the pillows before covering themselves with the blanket.

Miranda lets out a pleased sigh, taking another sip of coffee as her eyes wander over the familiar surroundings through the dim light of dawn. The beautiful lake in front of them is so still that it looks like a perfect mirror reflection of the mountains across the shore. She can smell the pine needles from the tall trees surrounding most of the cabin, making it feel like their own little safe haven away from the rest of the world. With a fond smile, she looks at the burnt out fire pit and camping chairs where she, the girls, and Andrea often sit under the glow of infinite stars, making smores, talking, and even singing along to Cassidy’s ukulele.

This peaceful place has so many cherished memories of their family that Miranda will forever feel lucky that she bought it as soon as she found it four years ago.

Before their relationship had even begun, Miranda had opened up to Andrea about wanting to take the girls away from the city, find a quiet spot where they could connect as a family and forget about everything else. Back then, Andrea had encouraged her to do so, because it was never too late to make new, happy memories with her daughters. Now, Miranda is certain she’s the luckiest woman alive, because not only has she achieved what she’d wanted for herself and the girls. Andrea is with them too, and that makes all the difference.

“Hey,” Andrea says quietly, breaking Miranda out of her reverie. “Sun’s coming up.”

For a moment, Miranda follows Andrea’s eyes to the red, pink, and purple skyline. The sun is peeking over the valley between the mountains, bathing the world in warmth and light. The surface of the lake twinkles like scattered diamonds. Light shines through the trees, turning leaves greener as the earth comes alive. It’s beautiful, but it’s nothing compared to what really matters in that moment.

Miranda turns to gaze at the woman beside her. Andrea is in awe of the scene before her, swept up in the wonders of nature she so adores. Her hair is softly swept away from her face by a gentle breeze, the brown of her eyes has turned to golden honey, and there is an unconscious, sweet smile on her lips. She is the most beautiful, the most treasured sight. Miranda feels overcome with love for the woman who changed her life, the one who brought her immeasurable happiness and joy, the person that truly loves her like no other. Her Sunrise.

 

The End