"Those who deny Venus her existence should simply gaze upon you."
For all that Miranda had planned regarding the proposal of one Andrea Sachs, she had never imagined feeling like this. She felt as though she was standing at the edge of a precipice. She knew not what lay beyond the drop, only that it was as frightening as it was unknown.
The vertigo had started the moment her eyelids fluttered open into wakefulness at the touch of dawn. She could hardly revel in the feeling of Andrea kissing her good morning and making her traditional breakfast in bed. By the afternoon, it had developed into an alarming, nauseating anxiety. Concentrating on work was a lost cause, and she couldn't even bring herself to unleash the wrath of her emotions on her minions.
Hours passed in a daze of dulled colours and stifled air. Amongst the flurry of activity flowing in and out of her office, Miranda sat perfectly still; her mind far, far away, her fingers incessantly fidgeting with the chains wrapped around her neck. A concerned Nigel dared to approach her but he quickly retreated in the wake of her icy glare.
The journey home that evening seemed both eternal and short. Time was condensed and stretched out in incoherent ways that made Miranda feel even more lost than she already was. Climbing the steps to her house felt more like crawling up a mountain. Crossing the door’s threshold felt a lot like free falling.
It was on autopilot that she managed to prepare everything, setting the table for two and putting Cara's perfect meal in the oven. She lit candles and opened a bottle of wine and put fresh flowers in Andrea's favourite vase. She changed her outfit once, twice, thrice, until she gave up and wore the one she had chosen in the first place. When she tried to touch up her makeup, her hands trembled too much to do anything but leave mascara stains on her eyelids, so she witheld altogether. Then she paced.
From her bedroom to the foyer to the kitchen. Through the living room to the den and then back again. Whenever she kept still, her mind would wander into a miserable, suffocating black fog.
So she paced.
Before she knew it, the clock's hands struck nine thirty. The front door unlocked, opened, and shut. Perfect timing, as always.
When the familiar footsteps found their way into the kitchen, Miranda was standing by the dinner table ready and waiting.
"Oh," Andrea exclaimed, a wide smile lighting up her face. "Miranda."
Miranda watched in silence as her partner strode towards her. She was so beautiful, dressed in tailored black trousers and a deep green blouse. Her hair fell in waves around her shoulders, the golden earrings Miranda had gifted her last Christmas framed her elegant neck. She looked at Miranda with so much love that her breath caught in her chest.
"You didn't have to do this," Andrea said sweetly, stepping close and wrapping her arms around her shoulders.
Miranda returned the embrace with barely concealed urgency. Andrea’s familiar perfume enveloped her, the warmth of her body grounded her.
"I wanted to," she answered breathlessly. "Happy anniversary, darling."
With that stunning smile still curling her lips, Andrea leaned closer and kissed her softly.
"I'm the luckiest girl in the world," she murmured against her lips.
Throughout dinner, Miranda was content on letting Andrea do most of the talking. She sat quietly while her lover told her about her day, her plans for the weekend, her research for a new story. But as much as Miranda loved to listen to Andrea, she was too wound up to really give her full attention.
She'd never felt so anxious in her life. Nothing compared to the pressure inside her ribcage, the coiling in her abdomen so vicious that she could hardly eat. Her heart was racing even though she wasn't doing anything physical, and it seemed like the oxygen in the room was slowly slipping away.
Miranda's world dangled before her very eyes, held up only by a thin, fragile piece of string that could break apart with barely any force. Miranda knew only too well. She'd been broken before. But this was different to everything else. This was the most beautiful of treasures. More than that - it was the sun, the life force that sustained her. She didn't know what she'd do if -
She was jolted out of her stupor to find Andrea's concerned gaze fixed upon her.
"Are you okay?"
Miranda swallowed thickly and raised a trembling hand to run her fingers through her hair.
"I-" she started, but her voice got caught somewhere in her throat. With all her willpower, she pushed past the feeling of choking. "Give me a moment."
With uncharacteristic stiffness in her stride, she stood from her seat and walked to the double doors leading out onto the garden. The cold air was a sharp relief. It stung her nose and cheeks the further she walked across the lawn, until she came to stand under the cherry blossom that Andrea had insisted on planting two years before. Looking up at the blooming flowers, she took a deep, steadying breath. And then another one, again and again, until she didn’t feel like she was choking anymore.
After an immeasurable amount of time spent alone in the dark, the glass doors slid open and Andrea stepped outside. Miranda watched her approach from the corner of her eye, feeling her pulse pick up again.
“Hey,” Andrea said softly. “I know there’s something wrong.”
Miranda stayed silent, willing herself not to spiral again.
“Is it because of this?” Andrea held out something and Miranda turned to look at it.
“I found it in the kitchen drawer when I went to get more matches.” Andrea bit her lip and looked at Miranda with large, concerned eyes. “I'm sorry I ruined the surprise, but I’m worried about you. I’ve never seen you act like this before.”
Miranda couldn’t answer. Her gaze was stuck on the small velvet box delicately placed on the palm of Andrea's hand. Miranda had planned on revealing it after the main course. She’d wanted to get down on one knee, to say how much she loved Andrea, how she could never live without her, and hope that Andrea would say yes. But now -
“Please talk to me,” Andrea continued, and her voice was laden with something Miranda had never heard before. It brought her crashing back to the present moment.
She finally looked up into deep brown eyes she loved so much and saw an anguish there that Miranda had not expected. Guilt stabbed at her chest.
“It’s nothing,” Miranda said, feeling small for the first time in her life. “It’s foolish.”
“No,” Andrea stated firmly. “Don’t invalidate yourself like that. Your feelings aren’t foolish. Now please tell me what’s going on.”
Miranda blinked at her, unsure of how to begin. She herself hardly knew what she was feeling.
“I just-” She began, stuttered, and forced herself to take a deep breath. Andrea stepped closer, and that simple gesture gave Miranda the strength she needed.
“I don’t love lightly,” Miranda said, looking down at the grass beneath her feet. “I can’t. I’ve always known that when I love someone, I’m devoted to them with everything that I have. But this,” she looked up at Andrea, willing her to understand. “I’ve never loved anyone like this. And it’s terrifying.”
Silence fell as the words settled over them. Miranda closed her eyes and drifted away, feeling disconnected and untethered.
“What’s so scary about loving me?” Andrea asked softly.
Miranda took a breath, knowing that this was the part where she completely bared herself, exposing the ugly truths and darkest fears hidden away from the world. She was unaccustomed to such displays of vulnerability, even though she had opened up to Andrea more than anyone before her. This was different, though.
She was stepping off the edge of the cliff.
“Many things,” she said, voice flat and hollow.
She felt lost. There were so many things tormenting her that she didn't know where to begin. So she chose to start with the simple truth.
“This is it for me, Andrea. There will be nobody else but you until the day I die.” She kept her eyes downcast, too afraid to see the expression on her lover’s face. “It’s terrifying because I can’t control what will happen to us. It’s terrifying because you have so much life ahead of you still, and it’s selfish of me to want to take your freedom away just to keep you by my side. I shouldn’t ask you to give everything up just to be with me, and yet I wont’- I can’t have a future without you in it. It’s terrifying because you deserve so much better than I could ever give you. You deserve a gentleness that I'm not capable of giving sometimes. You should be with someone better, someone who you can build a life with and grow old together, someone you won’t regret in years to come.”
The silence was different now. It drowned out everything else and sunk them deep within its stillness.
“So you see, Andrea,” Miranda finally said, her voice thick from the tightness in her chest. “I’m stuck wanting you while knowing that I don’t deserve you.”
Miranda let out a shaky breath. She didn’t know how much time she’d been carrying around this weight, this unfamiliar feeling of being a burden.
She'd always known that she was a difficult woman. After two failed marriages and countless broken friendships, she'd come to the obvious conclusion that she was more than just difficult. Loving her was simply impossible. If she was fortunate enough to be cared for by someone, it was never deep enough. Most of the time it was always given to her image, or her power, or her money, and it always ran out after a few years of dealing with the woman beneath all that superficial nonsense. It was fruitless to hope for a love that would last a lifetime. All Miranda could do was brace herself for the day that Andrea would leave her like everyone else.
The younger woman stood completely still beside her. Miranda could not even hear her breathe.
Her heart dropped. Then it began pounding so hard that it felt as if a whole was being carved through her chest. Had she misspoken? Had she just lost Andrea forever?
Miranda was about to take it all back and beg forgiveness when she felt warm fingers gently touching her hand. Looking down, she watched with bated breath as Andrea took her hand in hers. The touch was both comforting and jarring, as if Miranda had never felt Andrea’s touch.
“I could never regret you.”
The words were spoken softly, yet they nearly broke Miranda apart. She finally looked up at Andrea’s face and was struck by the amount of emotion in her expression, the brightness of her eyes despite the darkness surrounding them.
“I could never be with anybody else except you, Miranda,” Andrea continued declaring impossible words. Miranda stood frozen, watching her in speechless wonder. “This is it for me, too. I’ve never loved anyone like this either. I’ve always known that I would build a life with you, so it’s not selfish for you to ask that of me. I want you and nobody else.”
Miranda stared at her in disbelief for long moments. Andrea’s expression softened, and she stepped closer still.
“I know you haven’t had the best experience with love. I know your past partners weren’t understanding or particularly kind to you. But I’m shaping myself to be the kindness that you deserve. I don’t care if you can’t always be gentle. I have enough gentleness for the both of us.”
“Oh,” Miranda breathed. Her chest was caving in, crumbling into pieces, but it wasn’t painful anymore. It felt a great deal like relief.
“So no more of this guilt, selfishness talk, okay?” Andrea said with an encouraging smile. She lifted her hand and gently brushed back Miranda’s forelock before tracing her cheekbone with her fingertips. Miranda let out a trembling breath and leaned into the touch. “I see you, Miranda Priestly. You have a cold, ruthless persona, but I know that deep down your heart is a cave filled with honey. I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
All the weight that she'd been carrying left Miranda in a rush. Her tired eyes fluttered closed as she leaned her forehead against Andrea's. They stayed like that for long moments, holding each other under their tree.
“Now,” Andrea said at last, pulling away enough to bring the velvet box between their bodies. “This might not be the traditional way of doing things, but I think it’s very fitting to do it differently, considering." She sent Miranda a smile before opening the box. When she saw the emerald ring resting in its velvet confines, a soft, quiet gasp escaped her.
Nervous anticipation curled in Miranda’s abdomen as Andrea marvelled at the beauty of the jewel. When she looked back up to Miranda, her eyes were brimming with emotion.
“It's so beautiful," Andrea whispered reverently.
Miranda watched in awe as Andrea carefully took the ring from the box and slid it onto her own finger. It fit perfectly against her soft skin, the shining stone matching her green blouse. Andrea smiled at it, then up at Miranda.
“I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone,” she said, stepping close and wrapping her arms around Miranda's neck. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and nothing will change that. Do you want to grow old with me?”
A short, breathy laugh left Miranda, and only then did she realise she'd been smiling. Her vision blurred with unshed tears.
“Yes.” Pulling Andrea closer, she buried her face in her lover's neck. She was overwhelmed with joy, surpassing any other happiness she had felt before. “Yes.”
“Good,” Andrea said. When Miranda moved back to look at her, she found brown eyes to be glistening like her own. “You’re not getting rid of me, Priestly.”
“Good,” Miranda repeated. She finally gave in and kissed her beloved with as much love as she could muster. Andrea smiled against her lips and melted into the sweetness of the kiss.
They stood in each other’s embrace, peaceful in the knowledge that the love they shared was like no other. Their future laid out ahead of them in shades of blue and gold, a promise of a happy life spent together. A perpetual sunrise.
"The night is dark and long, darling, but it is never forever."